Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

A new global warming peril…giant rats

with 17 comments

giant_rat.jpg

A new species of giant rat was “discovered” recently in a remote corner of Indonesia. I say “discovered” since these guys are so unafraid of humans that they wandered into the scientist’s camp. So it’s more correct to say a group of scientists was discovered by giant rats. Scientists also discovered a new species of miniature possum, as well as recording the mating activities of several rare birds. I hope this wasn’t a privately funded scientific expedition, how do you explain this to your sponsor? “Yes, Lord Mallomy, we discovered a giant rat, a pygmy possum, and photographed birds f**king. We’ve named the rat after you. Can we have ten million pounds for the next expedition?” Even Indiana Jones couldn’t make that fly.

Kidding side, these are important scientific discoveries, and it shows that there are still many discoveries to be made in the odd corners of our planet. Of course, what do these giant rats have to do with global warming? Nothing really, but people are so bored with global warming that I thought I’d spice it up a bit. The ability of our society to focus seems pretty limited these days, it’s one crises to the next with little long term staying power. One of the best examples of this is overpopulation, which was a huge issue back in the day. Fortunately it has been solved and we no longer need to worry about humans breeding to the point where our whole system collapses under the strain of producing ever more food for ever more mouths.

Insert rolled eyes here. Of course we do, the overpopulation problem is as bad as it ever was, and humans are pushing into the last corners of the world modifying the environment in a reckless way and destroying the local wild life. The great apes are well on track to being extinct in the wild in a generation for example, due to human activities encroaching on their remaining forest refuges. In a very real sense, unless we solve the overpopulation problem, any and all solutions to other problems are merely stopgap measures.

Moving right along, this is a global warming post, even if I am wandering a bit. The news on the global warming front has continued to be grim, and has continued to exceed our worst case models. The latest example of this is sea level rise, which appears to be worse than predicted. The seas may rise five feet or more this century, and that’s assuming no catastrophic ice sheet collapse and melting in Greenland or Antarctica.

The interesting this about this failure to predict is that it is similar to many recent examples where the trends are running ahead of our worst case scenarios. In many areas of global warming, as things heat up, changes are occurring in the environment that are accelerating the process. Some were simple to predict and easy to model, like less sea ice means less sunlight reflected back into space by ice. Others are far more subtle and hard to understand, like how melting ice is sinking through cracks and speeding up glaciers as they head to the sea. Many people, like me, were predicting long ago that we needed to take this problem far more seriously because if positive feedback kicked in, the problem could get much worse very fast. And sadly, the past few years we are seeing things like global temperatures and melting Arctic ice exceeding all expectations because of unanticipated positive feedback.

This is not good. Fortunately the governments of the world, especially the US, are starting to sit up and take the problem more seriously. In the latest UN Global Warming conference, the USA reversed itself and agreed to a compromise. Yes, the USA agreed to intensely study the issue for two more years, but insisted that the developing countries of the world must also make sacrifices. Uh huh. Let’s see if I have this right, the hyper rich insist that the hyper poor pay their “fair share” to fix a problem caused by the hyper rich. Yeah, that’s fair.

The ridiculous thing about the “debate” is that the amount of money it would take to dramatically reduce global warming gases is minor in the greater scheme of things. And it’s not like the money is going anywhere, it will still be circulating in the economy. So what’s the problem? The problem is that a few powerful industries like the energy industry and the dam building industry would have to retool, and it would cut their profits for a few years. This would mean that a tiny number of people who are already rich beyond the comprehension of normal folks would have a few less zeros in their bank accounts. And since these people own the media and have enormous influence in government, nothing will get done until the last possible second.

The problem isn’t global warming, it’s greed. Some things never change.

(The above image of Mallomys Giant Rat is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit, it is being used for educational purposes, and it is central to illustrating the post. Credit: BBC/Conservation International. Isn’t he cute? I’m thinking “glove liners.”)

Written by unitedcats

December 18, 2007 at 8:51 am

17 Responses

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  1. Recent UN forecast project that world population will peak at 8 billion and then go back to 2 billion. It’s really the forces of progress and prosperty that are driving this reduction.

    If you took all the people in the world and put them shoulder to shoulder, the entire world popluation with fit in Rhode Island.

    Steve Rosenbaum

    December 18, 2007 at 9:25 am

  2. I wondered where my rat got to…

    If you took all the people in the world and removed all the space in the atoms, all the people in the world would fit into a sphere the size of a marble.

    Good post. I’ve believed for quite a long time that virtually all the serious science on warming/change was considerably far behind the reality. And it seems that every week brings a new report expressing surprise that things are happening much faster than expected. As for a five foot rise by century’s end, bet you a dollar* that by that time most of the ice will be gone and sea rises will be at or near their possible peak level.

    *Of course the dollar won’t be worth anything by then, if it even exists.

    Ric

    December 19, 2007 at 9:28 am

  3. Steve:
    Well, “the UN says the problem will solve itself in 20 years” is not exactly a rock crushing argument. And it’s not the people that count, it’s the resources they use and their impact on the environment. I will blog on it further, I am of mixed mind on some aspects of the problem so welcome further discussion.

    Ric:
    LOL Thanks. And yeah, GW seems to be dropping out of the news even as it appears to be rapidly getting worse! Corporate conspiracy or is it simply the attention span of the typical American consumer is measured in picoseconds now? Certainly fodder for more blogging and discussion, that’s for sure.

    unitedcats

    December 19, 2007 at 10:00 am

  4. What you’re missing is the natural reaction to any kind of change. Research shows that those who readily accept change and get on board is about 15%. About the same percentage actively resists that change. The remaining 70% usually does nothing hoping the change will either go away or things will get better on their own.

    The “world is coming to an end” approach usually isn’t very effective in motivating the middle 70%. They’ve heard it time and time again and the world is still here.

    You can get frustrated with this people, call them stupid and all sorts of names. Claim things are a corporate conspiracy. However, those approaches really won’t work either.

    To get to the 70%, you need to engage them in the process and demonstrate the value to them and what can be reasonably done about it. No one has really done this.

    You can say the problem is too serious and we don’t have time. But what happens is that people will nod and agree with you and then do nothing. You might think is about attention span but it’s not, it’s about the natural human reaction to change. If you want chang you really have to work at it hard.

    Steve Rosenbaum

    December 19, 2007 at 12:26 pm

  5. Well, never mind all this doom and gloom. It’s insignificant. I mean, really, the important thing now is that Britney’s 16 years old sister got knocked up!

    Ric

    December 19, 2007 at 4:04 pm

  6. I hear the father of Anna Nicole Smith’s baby wants to get hooked up with Britney. That should absorb the news for a while.

    Steve Rosenbaum

    December 20, 2007 at 6:40 am

  7. Interesting article on Global Warming that just came out today. Worth a quick scan.

    http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Minority.Blogs&ContentRecord_id=f80a6386-802a-23ad-40c8-3c63dc2d02cb

    Steve Rosenbaum

    December 20, 2007 at 2:26 pm

  8. Senator Inhofe? Nothing with his name on it can be considered credible in climate and environmental matters. And the piece at the link reads as if written by skilled PR men from Exxon. You know, the guys on the same payroll as Tim Patterson.

    Ric

    December 23, 2007 at 12:26 pm

  9. Oh I forgot, Global Warming is a religion. Everyone who disagrees is a heiratic and on the Exxon payroll. I know the tactic is when you can’t agrue the facts, you attact the people.

    Everyone who is pro Global Warming is pure with noble intentions. They do all their work for free. It’s Mother Terresa meets science. How could we questions such Saintly figures as Al Gore.

    Steve Rosenbaum

    December 23, 2007 at 1:52 pm

  10. The fact is that global warming has been running ahead of the worst case predictions for the past few years, so it turns out everybody is wrong. :)

    unitedcats

    December 23, 2007 at 2:57 pm

  11. The Nasa global temperature data actually contradicts this statement that things are running ahead. In the last year, the Antarctic added more than 2 million square miles of ice.

    Steve Rosenbaum

    December 23, 2007 at 9:06 pm

  12. 2007 was one of the top seven warmest years on record, and the last decade was the warmest since reliable records began in the 1850s. Of course if the anthropogenic global warming proponents are wrong, no big deal. If the skeptics are wrong, we are screwed beyond belief. In either case, clearly time for another GW post. :)

    unitedcats

    December 23, 2007 at 9:42 pm

  13. That’s really a simplistic argument. There’s a thing called opportunity cost. If we spend time and money trying to do something about global warming it means that something else doesn’t happen. The NASA records show that there has been no additional global warming since 2001.

    Reliable records didn’t start in the 1850s. It’s really been only about 25 years that we’ve had satellite data. If the 1880s had such good data, why put up weather satellites that good old 19th century technology.

    Here’s how you can start to pay for action. Go to http://www.junkscience.com and when the $150,000 for making the case for man-made global warming. Should be easy for a genius like you.

    Steve Rosenbaum

    December 23, 2007 at 10:45 pm

  14. LOL. Insults as argument? Oh, sorry. LOLROFL. I’ll delete your comment in the morning, you need to read the comment policy.

    unitedcats

    December 23, 2007 at 10:58 pm

  15. its even uglier than MAHMOOD AHMADINEJAD IRANIAN cheater president .

    farhang

    September 13, 2009 at 12:21 am

  16. […] think what the next generation will be like. But then again, that's not all we have to worry about: A new global warming peril…giant rats | Doug's Darkworld. __________________ Nothing but Patrols since 1980 – He who has never made a mistake has never […]


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