Author Topic: Scientiific American Says "Chill out over Global Warming"  (Read 8439 times)

TheDrake

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Re: Scientiific American Says "Chill out over Global Warming"
« Reply #100 on: April 05, 2018, 04:02:16 PM »
Well, in the 20s einstein was still clinging to his cosmological fudge factor that made his static universe model work.

Dark matter could turn out to be a similar fudge factor to match the observations being made, but there's not really much consequence if we're wrong about it.

Heat death of the universe? Big crunch? Something else? We actually have quite a long time to figure that out and react to it, compared to climate or terrestrial environment issues.

Fenring

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Re: Scientiific American Says "Chill out over Global Warming"
« Reply #101 on: April 05, 2018, 04:27:16 PM »
True, Drake. Although to be honest I'm more actively concerned about: asteroid collision, sunspots EM disaster, and solar flare wiping out life on Earth, than I am about global warming cataclysm. Maybe one day I'll realize I was wrong and I should have rotated the AGW concern to the top of the list.

TheDeamon

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Re: Scientiific American Says "Chill out over Global Warming"
« Reply #102 on: April 05, 2018, 06:15:52 PM »
True, Drake. Although to be honest I'm more actively concerned about: asteroid collision, sunspots EM disaster, and solar flare wiping out life on Earth, than I am about global warming cataclysm. Maybe one day I'll realize I was wrong and I should have rotated the AGW concern to the top of the list.

This, I still hold that the counter-measure for AGW should have been a hardcore push into Space to get the most polluting and environmentally disruptive activities off of Planet Earth and into space. Being able to move "a significant portion" of the population off-planet wouldn't hurt in that regard either.

Even better, much of their activities outside of Earth could be almost 100% solar powered. More efficient solar cells are great and all, but once you're able to fabricate them in full in orbit, rather than needing to bring them up from the bottom of Earth's gravity well, that becomes less of a concern.

How many hundreds of billions of dollars has the United States and Europe directly spent on AGW mitigation to date?
How much "opportunity cost" did they also end up paying due to said measures being implemented? I'm sure that number is going to enter into the Trillions soon enough.

How much impact have those efforts been likely to have on the total warming we're likely to experience? Maybe 0.05 degrees (C)?

Whereas if much of that activity was in orbit or beyond, it wouldn't be creating additional warming period. Full stop.

So we've blown trillions of dollars to slightly slow down the alleged AGW that is coming, but that's all we've done, slow it down. In the mean time, we've also done a number of things which probably created even more CO2 emissions as well as other environmental pollution. (as companies moved operations to less regulated nations)

The ultimate solution is to bring CO2 emissions to near zero. There are only 3 ways to do that. Kill everyone, go full on Nuclear (fusion or fission), or get off the planet. Any other option results in a lot of of environmental impacts above and beyond GHG emissions.

Or are we supposed to ignore all the heavy metals in those "clean" solar energy panels once they reach end-of-life? Or the tens of thousands of square miles of land that will need to be blanketed in solar panels? What about those wind turbines too? Their raw materials have to come from somewhere, and I hear that birds and insects alike absolutely love them. (Aircraft warning lights screw with both at night) That they're unreliable as a "baseline power source" barring a breakthrough that still has yet to happen (much like Fusion) doesn't even need consideration on that count.

Joe Citizen commuting to work in an O'neil Habitat at Earth-Sun-L4/L5 isn't going to contribute squat to the AGW problem on Earth, and if anything is likely to be helping provide a solution to it(building more Habitat's and/or a solar shade and/or conveyance to Mars). Keeping Joe Citizen on Earth on the other hand....
« Last Edit: April 05, 2018, 06:22:53 PM by TheDeamon »

Wayward Son

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Re: Scientiific American Says "Chill out over Global Warming"
« Reply #103 on: April 05, 2018, 06:36:35 PM »
Nice ideas, Daemon, but we don't have the technological know-how to keep a viable colony alive on Mars or in orbit.  And even if we got one or two working, what about the other 99.998% of the population? ;)

And space manufacturing means bringing material up the gravity well, which is hugely costly.  Sure, we could find an asteroid and bring it into orbit around Earth, but we still have to bring the materials down to Earth without burning them up.  Not to mention we've never moved an asteroid before, much less know which one to move...

And there are far, far more than 3 ways to bring CO2 emissions down to zero.  We are working on quite a few of them now.  And, really, we don't need to bring it down to zero.  We just need to emit no more than the natural systems can absorb (and then figure out how to remove the excess we added in the last 150 years, which we don't know how to do yet, although we have ideas).

TheDeamon

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Re: Scientiific American Says "Chill out over Global Warming"
« Reply #104 on: April 05, 2018, 07:14:24 PM »
Nice ideas, Daemon, but we don't have the technological know-how to keep a viable colony alive on Mars or in orbit.  And even if we got one or two working, what about the other 99.998% of the population? ;)

And space manufacturing means bringing material up the gravity well, which is hugely costly.  Sure, we could find an asteroid and bring it into orbit around Earth, but we still have to bring the materials down to Earth without burning them up.  Not to mention we've never moved an asteroid before, much less know which one to move...

Well, that's what we have LEO and the moon for. Other than some rare earths and a few other "trace elements" most of the raw material you'd need to build a solar cell for example can be extracted from lunar soil lower cost.

And you're right, we don't have the technology, YET. But there also has been a paucity of funding in regards to pursuing that knowledge, what we do know in those departments has been getting done on a comparative shoetstring budget. Which probably doesn't even add up to a quarter billion dollars/year globally, because nobody has plans for production in orbit or on the moon. (Which also may violate the Outer Space Treaty at present)

Imagine what could have possibly been done if the powers that be in various national governments had gone for some genuine "pure science" on this stuff and dumped a couple billion dollars per year into that work since, say, 1992? Now granted, there is a LOT more tech and knowledge that can be leveraged now vs what existed back in 1992, but other costs have also increased as well.

And speaking of...

Quote
And there are far, far more than 3 ways to bring CO2 emissions down to zero.  We are working on quite a few of them now.  And, really, we don't need to bring it down to zero.  We just need to emit no more than the natural systems can absorb (and then figure out how to remove the excess we added in the last 150 years, which we don't know how to do yet, although we have ideas).

Yeah, like creating high efficiency CO2 scrubbers/"concentrators" for atmospheric regulation of space-based habitats which might potentially have applications here on earth as well?  8)

Most of the more exotic solutions for addressing high CO2 end up having more direct applications/utility to a space colony than they do for general commercial use on Earth. But it is what it is and it is highly likely that tech needed to make "space livable" will end helping with things down here. But right now, we're not seriously pursuing that in orbit. We're shipping oxygen up there with only limited experiments taking place in regards to trying to "recycle" it within the Space Station. It gets passed through scrubbers so many times, then that waste is either jettisoned to burn up on reenetry, or returned to the planet. Obviously, a city-in-space isn't going to be looking to have bottled oxygen routinely shipped up to it from Earth in bulk. They're going to need a better option.

But we're not funding such efforts in any kind of serious manner to date. SpaceX and the other various Mission to Mars initiatives might be starting to change that, but that's a recent development that could have seen a serious push 30 years ago that would have been likely to have made significant progress in the interim. Even if it consisted of "learning 3,759 additional different methods that don't work." Because those 3,759 different efforts currently still have yet to happen.

Wayward Son

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Re: Scientiific American Says "Chill out over Global Warming"
« Reply #105 on: April 05, 2018, 07:37:09 PM »
You realize, Daemon, that you are only scratching the surface of what it requires to have a viable extraterrestrial colony.

Once we've figured out how to keep them breathing, what are they going to eat?  We'll need to create an entire ecosystem that is sustainable without help from Earth.  Right now we don't even know how our own ecosystem works, much less the knowledge of how to create one in space, on the Moon or Mars. :(

TheDeamon

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Re: Scientiific American Says "Chill out over Global Warming"
« Reply #106 on: April 05, 2018, 08:09:39 PM »
You realize, Daemon, that you are only scratching the surface of what it requires to have a viable extraterrestrial colony.

Once we've figured out how to keep them breathing, what are they going to eat?  We'll need to create an entire ecosystem that is sustainable without help from Earth.  Right now we don't even know how our own ecosystem works, much less the knowledge of how to create one in space, on the Moon or Mars. :(

You don't need to immediately jump to self-sustaining "viable ecosystem." You can actively manage the environment in the interim, and that is something we can number-crunch and otherwise take educated guesses at. "Viable ecosystem" is when you're trying to terraform somewhere.

We know humans exhale X amount of CO2 on average, we know we "emit" Y amount of various and sundry other gases as well. We know different types of plant life also require specific amounts of CO2 per unit of growth(and will in turn emit __ amount of Oxygen in exchange)

I actually halfway expect the first space habitats aiming for self-sufficiently may actually have a CO2 shortage all things considered, at least initially. Because unless the crew plans on eating algae only, those plants are going to require a lot of CO2 to actually grow the rest of the plant, not just the food part. But then I don't know how those numbers actually break down, although I'm sure someone associated with NASA probably has "a ballpark estimate" at the least.

And I fully appreciate the infrastructure challenges that will need to be overcome in building a "permanent Space Habitat" rather than a research station. But a lot of the issues that are going to present themselves are going to be very fundamentally different from Planet Earth for numerous reasons(micro-gravity being a biggie) and will be Engineering problems which will remain largely unknown until someone starts a serious effort at building the things.

Further, it wouldn't be until we reached the point that something like an O'neil habitat was being built that we'd be anywhere near the scale where "artificial ecosystems" would even start to become relevant in the first place.

Otherwise it's a simple equation of "we expect to produce ___ tons of CO2 daily, and will need to produce ___ tons of (breathable) Oxygen daily. So we will need to determine what the most economically desirable means of doing so is likely to be." Be that an array of Solar powered/fed algae tanks, parks, hydroponics, "farmland" or some mix thereof.

Honestly, most of NASA's Earth Sciences division is superfluous to any space exploration or colonization efforts likely to be undertaken in the next hundred years, if not longer. That isn't to say the data they're collecting is useless, it is anything but. But it still goes back to it has no real application until/unless you start terraforming planets or start building super-massive space stations whose lengths and diameters are both measured in whole miles.

About the only thing they are doing that has some application is "space weather" because solar flares are still a concern at Mars, and weather forecasts on Mars (once somebody is living there), except that particular mission seems to have a great deal of overlap with research and work undertaken by NOAA(who also now does "space weather").

Greg Davidson

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Re: Scientiific American Says "Chill out over Global Warming"
« Reply #107 on: April 05, 2018, 09:29:59 PM »
Quote
How many hundreds of billions of dollars has the United States and Europe directly spent on AGW mitigation to date?
How much "opportunity cost" did they also end up paying due to said measures being implemented? I'm sure that number is going to enter into the Trillions soon enough.

I would be surprised by any expenditures to-date at that scale solely addressed at climate change. What are you thinking of?

Greg Davidson

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Re: Scientiific American Says "Chill out over Global Warming"
« Reply #108 on: April 05, 2018, 09:43:00 PM »
Quote
As much as I'm a fan of astrophysics we need to be fair about how much we really "know". What we seem to be good at is developing trees of inference based on some axioms that fit the data, and we can get a good amount of details into those inferential trees. But if the axioms prove to be wrong then it's all bogus and whatever new paradigm takes over scraps the old thing. In physics we can do many tests that give a fair amount of rigor to the basic assumptions, but with astrophysics and cosmology we really are grasping at faint bits of data to make huge conclusions.

Fenring, I'd like to push back on your assertion about astrophysics.  Take a look at the Atsrophysics community's Decadal Survey back from when I was at NASA in 1991 (https://www.nap.edu/read/1634/chapter/4#54) - at that time big questions included did black holes actually exist? were there planets around other stars? gravity waves were hypothesized by some but not measured, etc. Not all the secrets of the universe have been revealed, but there has been real progress, and even where final answers have not been established there still have been observations that have constrained the set of viable theories.

TheDeamon

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Re: Scientiific American Says "Chill out over Global Warming"
« Reply #109 on: April 05, 2018, 11:24:03 PM »
Quote
How many hundreds of billions of dollars has the United States and Europe directly spent on AGW mitigation to date?
How much "opportunity cost" did they also end up paying due to said measures being implemented? I'm sure that number is going to enter into the Trillions soon enough.

I would be surprised by any expenditures to-date at that scale solely addressed at climate change. What are you thinking of?

Part of that number is going to be hard to nail down because the cost has been dispersed across many different places.

1) Subsides for R&D.
2) Subsidies for Production/construction of production facilities(that may never produce a thing-Solyndra is just one example, there's another such "monument" in my home town from a different company)
3) Subsidies and rates paid by end-users and utilities due to "green initiatives."
4) Regulatory changes targeted at "curbing CO2 emissions" and removing older plants from service well ahead of their design-life. (Also further amplified by item #3 screwing with the load balance on the grid which made boiler plants "horribly inefficient and non-responsive" when it comes to operating in the new regulatory environment. This was perhaps the single biggest thing that "killed coal" in most of the US.)

I'm sure I could grow the list with more time. Although I might have been overly ambitious on the Trillion dollar front, but not far off the mark all the same. I just need to add the caveat of "if they stick to what they've pledged themselves to." Where between higher rates and other factors tied to "Green/renewable energy" they're projected to slow annual economic growth per annum by something on the order 0.2%/year in some nations, and that was the optimistic forecast I recall.  Will need to dig at a later time to find some actual numbers.

By comparison, NASA's entire budget in 2017 was 0.489% of the Federal Budget(as per wiki lookup), which in turn comprised roughly a fifth of the national GDP.  Or framed another way, my just completed Google search says 4th Quarter 2017 GDP is currently estimated at $19.739 Trillion. NASA's entire budget for the year? 19.5 Billion or 0.1% (one tenth of one percent) of our national GDP.

This also ignores all the Earth Sciences research NASA is funding in relation to Climate Change, which does take a decent bite out of their budget as well.

https://www.energy.gov/fy-2017-department-energy-budget-request-fact-sheet

A quick look at DOE's 2017 fact sheet/press release shows the US Government intended to spend $7.7 Billion on "clean energy" sources other than Nuclear Fission or Fusion(which had their own line items) although they also note that was a "significant increase" (a whole percentage point it appears) over the previous year. At that funding level, it would take the United States about 14 years to reach $100 Billion spent on "clean energy research, development, and deployment." Without doing some much deeper research(looking at budgets from the 1990's, if they could be found online and have it itemized in a manner that the desired numbers could be found) it is hard to call on if they've already cleared the $100 Billion mark in terms of direct federal spending, but as I gave 1992 as the start point, it certainly is possible they have either already cleared that point, or will do so in the next few years.

And that is just looking at the United States at the Federal level, this ignores state or local-level initiatives, as well as activities on the part of other nations(such as the EU member-nations). And remember, I stipulated "The United States and Europe" in my comment about "Hundreds of Billions of Dollars."
« Last Edit: April 05, 2018, 11:32:34 PM by TheDeamon »

Fenring

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Re: Scientiific American Says "Chill out over Global Warming"
« Reply #110 on: April 05, 2018, 11:38:23 PM »
Quote
As much as I'm a fan of astrophysics we need to be fair about how much we really "know". What we seem to be good at is developing trees of inference based on some axioms that fit the data, and we can get a good amount of details into those inferential trees. But if the axioms prove to be wrong then it's all bogus and whatever new paradigm takes over scraps the old thing. In physics we can do many tests that give a fair amount of rigor to the basic assumptions, but with astrophysics and cosmology we really are grasping at faint bits of data to make huge conclusions.

Fenring, I'd like to push back on your assertion about astrophysics.  Take a look at the Atsrophysics community's Decadal Survey back from when I was at NASA in 1991 (https://www.nap.edu/read/1634/chapter/4#54) - at that time big questions included did black holes actually exist? were there planets around other stars? gravity waves were hypothesized by some but not measured, etc. Not all the secrets of the universe have been revealed, but there has been real progress, and even where final answers have not been established there still have been observations that have constrained the set of viable theories.

Oh yes! And it's very exciting. Do you remember 15-20 years back when books used to talk all about "quasars"? Now that term has fallen away and we're saying that these are supermassive black holes emitting radiation. That's probably what it is, too. The exoplanet thing is also exciting, as is some of what we're detecting about gravitational lensing. Basically anything to do with developing better observation techniques has been excellent, and superior data leads to superior ability to form conclusion. I'd be the last to argue that we are literally not making progress in astrophysics. But what I noted in your previous post was the seeming certainty about your comment regarding how much we "know" about the moments before the Big Bang. I sort of know what you probably meant, but my point was that what we know is that *if* our premise about the Big Bang is correct, and *if* our understanding of time during that is correct, and *if* thermodynamics works the way they thought it did in the 19th century, and *if* etc etc. Our house of cards has to stand strong for us to actually "know" something about the moments after the Big Bang. Otherwise we actually don't know anything about it; it would be a significantly developed inferential tree that proves to be entirely fruitless, if you'll pardon the pun.

Think about the pre-Kepler era, where planetary orbits required all sorts of nonsense math to make them work. Back then the 'science' of these calculations was very advanced and had been going on for centuries. Experts in that field would no doubt have marveled at how much they "knew" about the epicycles and the motion of the planets around the Earth. Many axioms founded that general paradigm, and although there were holes - for retrograde motion, planets in opposition, etc - they felt they were nearly there in terms of solving it. Turns out they didn't "know" anything at all, because their whole premise was flawed. The science of epicycles didn't 'turn into' Kepler's laws; it was simply scrapped and worthless, and all the years of math that went into it into the garbage. Zero came of it; nada. Actually I'm sure some mathematical principles along the way did actually turn out to be useful, since we often built new tools to get a job done, but the job itself was useless. So that is what happens when a whole tree of knowledge is based on an axiom that is actually false. The other group that had a different analogy is the one whose work actually gets carried forward into new work; the rest falls away and is forgotten. An analogy to this could be in the area of engineering teams trying to be the first to come up with certain technologies. There is a risk for such companies in the private sector because it's literally a race to finish first, and if you don't then there's a good chance the whole project was worthless. Sometimes heading down a road in the arena of discovery carries risk, and one of the risks is having invested all the time and energy (and money) for nothing at all. It happens all the time.

But if I came off sounding like a doomsayer about science then that wasn't my intent. I am, in general, super-excited about cutting edge research and I try to follow a few fields as much as I can. Astrophysics is one of those areas, but like I said, I'm leery about us trying to make claims beyond our means. A certain humility is warranted in how much we can boast, because going too far risks giving the general public the impression (often justified) that scientists can be full of their own baloney to make themselves look good. I guess this is a general human foible, but in the sciences I look for a higher standard.

Greg Davidson

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Re: Scientiific American Says "Chill out over Global Warming"
« Reply #111 on: April 06, 2018, 09:48:24 AM »
Quote
1) Subsides for R&D.
2) Subsidies for Production/construction of production facilities(that may never produce a thing-Solyndra is just one example, there's another such "monument" in my home town from a different company)
3) Subsidies and rates paid by end-users and utilities due to "green initiatives."
4) Regulatory changes targeted at "curbing CO2 emissions" and removing older plants from service well ahead of their design-life. (Also further amplified by item #3 screwing with the load balance on the grid which made boiler plants "horribly inefficient and non-responsive" when it comes to operating in the new regulatory environment. This was perhaps the single biggest thing that "killed coal" in most of the US.)

I'm sure I could grow the list with more time. Although I might have been overly ambitious on the Trillion dollar front, but not far off the mark all the same.

This list has questionable items.  By R&D subsidies, what specifically are you talking about? The R&D subsidies built into the tax code that I am aware of are not specific to climate change. As for the Solyndra meme, that was a single specific failure that the right wing has propagandized because it is politically useful, but in dollar terms it was 1/50th the money that, for example, was wasted when the Republicans shut down the government early in the Obama era when thy were pretending that they cared about the deficit (and yet for some reason we don't hear about that waste of money).

Greg Davidson

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Re: Scientiific American Says "Chill out over Global Warming"
« Reply #112 on: April 06, 2018, 09:50:33 AM »
For context, do you think that subsidies to address climate change are higher than subsidies to support energy sources that contribute to climate change? Not sure of the data myself, but I know that ther are plenty of billions on that side too.

TheDrake

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Re: Scientiific American Says "Chill out over Global Warming"
« Reply #113 on: April 06, 2018, 10:05:37 AM »
I'm not a big fan of government as venture capital firm, like Solyndra.

As for any Green Initiatives, those are also remedies for asthma and other air pollution, as well as having the advantage of reducing environmentally dangerous mining efforts.

We absolutely need a better way to power our society than digging things up and setting fire to them. Regardless of climate change.

yossarian22c

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Re: Scientiific American Says "Chill out over Global Warming"
« Reply #114 on: April 06, 2018, 11:33:26 AM »
We absolutely need a better way to power our society [other] than digging things up and setting fire to them.

I love this sentence.

Simplifying a complex process while maintaining accuracy is an excellent way to provide fresh perspective on issues that people already "know" about.

Fenring

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Re: Scientiific American Says "Chill out over Global Warming"
« Reply #115 on: April 06, 2018, 11:49:49 AM »
We absolutely need a better way to power our society [other] than digging things up and setting fire to them.

I love this sentence.

Simplifying a complex process while maintaining accuracy is an excellent way to provide fresh perspective on issues that people already "know" about.

He said it good.

TheDeamon

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Re: Scientiific American Says "Chill out over Global Warming"
« Reply #116 on: April 06, 2018, 04:53:20 PM »
For context, do you think that subsidies to address climate change are higher than subsidies to support energy sources that contribute to climate change? Not sure of the data myself, but I know that ther are plenty of billions on that side too.

In a lot of cases, this is like trying to pull apart a grilled cheese sandwich, or sausage making.

It's hard to tell exactly what you're dealing with and/or why a particular project was undertaken.

There are plenty of research initiatives getting government money that involve fossil fuels which are likewise "Green initiatives" to combat global warming  by way of making engines more efficient, and so forth.

But it comes back to "a lot of the specific (costs) data" we'd need to make a determination on "what has this really cost us, for what gain?" Doesn't really exist. It is also likely an army of forensic accountants wouldn't be able to dig it up either, even with an unrestricted budget of their own and several years to do so.

There are plenty of "green" projects I have no issue with, up to a certain point at least. Who doesn't want better fuel economy after all? (At least until that extra 0.2 MPG means a new part that costs $3,000 to make, mostly due to the "rare-earths" used, and that part failing makes the vehicle unusable)

Likewise, from a space colonization standpoint, I cannot completely write-off solar power research, as that has direct applications in space. Likewise for battery technology research. However, other avenues of research(there is no viable wind-turbine application in space) don't quite enjoy that same degree of license.

That said, I can still critique the amount of emphasis given to those fields. I do think a lot of that (federal) money would have been better used going to NASA's manned space exploration programs rather than going green.

As it still cycles back to: They spent Tens/Hundreds of billions of dollars in pursuit of technologies which if their models are right, will potentially slow the warming by less than 10%, and can do nothing but slow it, not stop it.

When they could have sunk those same tens of billions in more "dual use tech" with a specific aim of getting a lot of more "energy intensive" activities moved into orbit and beyond so it stops contributing. Which means it doesn't just slow the accumulation of said GHGs. It has strong potential to position us to flat out "stop the hockey stick" on the emissions side.

Oh yeah, except a lot of eco-nuts of the 1980's and early 1990's saw no value in manned space exploration either. That was wasted tax dollars that could have been used here on Planet Earth. At least until they got hooked to their Iphones 10+ years later, but even now I don't think they consider it(manned space exploration/colonization) seriously.

I still stand by the fact that the only tech "on the horizon" today, or even 20 years ago, was Nuclear, or hard-core Space Colonization if you're talking about seriously fighting/preventing an AGW-scenario while also improving the lives of the rank-and-file human being in general.

All they've done so far is make energy more expensive, which has made everything else more expensive, which while that provides great incentives for "more efficiency" which is great, it also makes it that much harder for people to escape poverty no matter where they live.

Ergo: "Global Warming" is largely an agenda driven "beast" which is getting used to facilitate things which has absolutely nothing to do what they claim to be trying to do.

So even if I agreed with doomsday scenarios, I don't fully support their suggested solutions... As they don't solve squat.
« Last Edit: April 06, 2018, 04:59:03 PM by TheDeamon »