Is Climate Change Just A Lot Of Hot Air?

26. June, 2015

A thought-provoking video by MinuteEarth:


The End is Nigh, Part 2

16. June, 2013

A while ago, I asked whether wars on water, burning fossil fuel or air conditioning will kill us first.

Turns out it’s probably air conditioning.

Currently, we’re facing a couple of problems. We’re polluting the oceans with plastics, stressing many strands of the food chain and fish much more than we should. Sounds bad but we’ll run out of oil for plastics before we can poison everything and fishing fleets will quickly disappear with their prey – along with a few million people. So that sucks but it’s not a big problem in the sense that it’ll kill us – it will most likely resolve itself by becoming uneconomical.

Same goes for burning fossil fuels. We have a lot of them but the amount is finite and we’ll eventually run out of them. In a few years, the effect on the environment will put a lot of strain on the global economy. We’ll lose ships and planes in storms or they can’t even leave port. But again, as soon as this happens, the supply of fossil fuels will dry up since the platforms to make them available won’t be able to survive the weather we created.

Water? There will be wars over water but they will be pretty local. Israel, for example, will have to build many desalinating plants. And terrorists will love to blow them up. But water is on the radar since everyone involved is aware that access to water is so important.

AC is going to kill us? I must be kidding, right?

No.

First of all, no one believes that air conditioning is a problem. But think about it:

  1. Asia is mostly tropical. People are getting more rich and demand better living conditions.
  2. AC need a lot of electricity which comes from mostly from fossil fuel
  3. The coolants will heat up the planet much more efficiently than any other gas we produce as soon as it leaks and it will – most people in Asia know the concept of recycling but they dump their broken stuff in the forest just like we did a few years ago.
  4. Staying cool is essential to be productive and to be able to concentrate. It’s not (only) a luxury.

Related articles:


Demons? Really? Really! But not as you think

23. February, 2010

I just read Linus Torvalds’ post “Demons? Really?” Which is about exorcism in case you don’t want to read his piece. Apparently, there are people who believe that you can drive a demon with prayers from a human body. Which is complete nonsense according to Linus.

Really?

What are we talking about here? What is a demon? I’m not sure what the scientific definition would be but I’m pretty sure that the people discussing the topic don’t know either. They don’t care. For them, the demon is not important but to help the possessed.

From our scientific eye, talking about demons and exorcism is ridiculous. We assume that a demon is probably some kind of sickness and the poor victim would be better off in a hospital or psychiatric care. They are just sick. Just imagine when you are in pain. It affects your mood: You become thin-skinned and easily irritated. So the sickness has a mental component.

Treating the sickness would solve the mental issues. So we’re happy and the missionaries must be stupid. Or so we think.

Question: Have you ever been in this situation? In a village thousands of miles away from anywhere? Without clear water, healthy food, and people with a yearly income in the range of $5 or less? Good luck finding medicine for them or sending them to a doctor. They either have no access to such resources or can’t afford it.

What do you do? Walk away, happy with the fact that you know what would help? Or do you stay and try to help to the best of your abilities?

If you stay, what can you do? You have no medicine, you’re no doctor and you probably have no idea what is really going on. There are people around, probably from the same village who think “I don’t know what he has but I don’t want it! Let’s get rid of him before we all get sick!” These people still have to learn that modern science exists. They couldn’t care less because for them, the biggest issue is how to get enough food to survive another week. National Geographics? FDA? These are all non-issues for these people.

For them, the sick are possessed because that is something they can relate to. It explains the unknown. Demons can be shooed away.

So what do you do? Stick to your scientific knowledge? Or do you start to pray to drive the demon out? Showing compassion, doing what is expected from you, possibly triggering the self-healing effects of a placebo? Doing what you can in such a situation?

Yes, we can mock these people because they probably believe that demons really exist. But maybe they have understood hundreds of years ago that science can only help the rich. People who have (almost) unbound access to good water, food and electricity.

Maybe for them, it’s more important to help than to be right.


10 Ways to be a Better Thinker

20. August, 2009

There is an article on CNN about ten ways to be more happy with your brain.