Climate change

What’s the motivation?

image001The problem

Every day we see more information on the issue of climate change, from both supporters of the idea that climate is changing and from those that deny that the climate is changing. Who should we believe? I think the answer to this question is very easy to understand. But, before I answer it let us define what we are specifically talking about.

Climate change

This is a change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns when that change lasts for an extended period (i.e., decades to millions of years). Climate change may refer to a change in average weather conditions, or in the time variation of weather around longer-term average conditions (i.e., more or fewer extreme weather events).

image002Climate change denial

Sometimes referred to as: global warming denial. This idea involves the dismissal or unwarranted doubt about the scientific consensus on the rate and extent of global warming. It also refutes the degree to which global warming is caused by humans, its impacts on nature and human society, or the potential for human actions to reduce these impacts.

Human influenced climate change

In the context of climate variation, anthropogenic factors are human activities which affect the climate. The scientific consensus on climate change is that climate is changing and that these changes are in large part caused by human activities.

image003Regular climate oscillation

Sometimes known as the climate cycle, is any recurring cyclical oscillation within global or regional climate, and is a type of climate pattern. These fluctuations in atmospheric temperature, sea surface temperature, precipitation or other parameters can be quasi-periodic, often occurring on inter-annual, multi-annual, decadal, multidecadal, century-wide, millennial or longer timescales. They are not perfectly periodic.

image004What we really know

In a study published on the 15th of May 2013 entitled: Quantifying the consensus on anthropogenic global warming in the scientific literature, 97.1% of peer-reviewed scientific literature supported the idea that human activity (anthropogenic) is responsible for global warming. scientific consensus is something very difficult to attain. When we see that 97.1% of peer-reviewed scientific literature is in support of a scientific idea, it is very reasonable to site that we have scientific consensus. This means that it is extremely likely we (Homo sapiens) are causing global warming.

The scientific papers, in the above study, looked at all available data relating to climate change. They factored in regular climate oscillation and non-human influences on climate change. The result of the consensus study is a very strong indicator that we (Homo sapiens) are causing global warming.

image005So why believe anything else?

There is simply only one reason for believing that we are not responsible for climate change. That reason is greed.

American Republicans, who elected President number 45 to office are highly correlated to denying that climate is changing. And even, the very small portion of American Republicans, that do agree climate is changing, deny that humans are responsible for it.

Why are American Republicans so opposed to the scientific consensus that we (Homo sapiens) are causing global warming?

American Republicans are driven by greed and self-interest above all else. This makes American Republicans the most anti-social group that have ever existed in the brief history of Homo sapiens. The ideology of greed and self-interest explains why American Republicans are against any, and all, forms of social reforms.

image006The motivation

Given the motivation of American Republican’s greed and self-interest, it is easy to determine why they choose to ignore the scientific consensus that we (Homo sapiens) are causing global warming.

For an example of this American Republican greed and self-interest let’s look at ExxonMobil.

From the late 1970s and through the 1980s, Exxon funded internal and university collaborations which, where broadly in line with the developing public scientific approach. They even developed a reputation for expertise in atmospheric carbon dioxide. Between the 1970s and 2015, Exxon and ExxonMobil researchers and academic collaborators published dozens of research papers generally supporting the emerging consensus that fossil fuel emissions could pose risks for society and exploring the extent of these risks.

However, more recently ExxonMobil engaged in research, lobbying, advertising, and grant making, some of which were conducted with the purpose of delaying widespread acceptance and action on global warming.

It is as plain as the nose on your face why fossil fuel companies would not support the 97.1% of peer-reviewed scientific literature that supports the notion we (Homo sapiens) are causing global warming. They hold to the same ideology as American Republican’s greed and self-interest.

image007On the other hand, what is the motivation of those that support the idea that we (Homo sapiens) are causing global warming? One could argue that scientists and researchers have an income to protect and so they might be motivated to fabricate date to support their livelihoods. This is indeed a possibility, but given that 97.1% of peer-reviewed scientific literature supports the idea that human activity is responsible for global warming, it seems highly unlikely that so many scientists would risk their careers on fabricated data.

American Republicans have children and grandchildren too. If they do not change their ideology they will doom their own children and grandchildren to a world that is not habitable by Homo sapiens.

So, what if we are wrong?

If the scientific consensus is in error what do we have to lose by investing our resources, ingenuity, and industry into the development of a completely renewable based energy system. As a global species, we have nothing to lose, but American Republicans have everything, all their greed and self-interest, to lose.

I say, let’s get rid of the American Republicans and go with a clean energy future.

State of Denial (2017)

TOP

Factual Celebrations

Let’s Celebrate Something Worth Celebrating

The facts

If you’re like me you grew up celebrating Christmas and Easter. But why do we celebrate these holidays? The answer to this question is: we grew up in a culture that was started by a Christian ideology.

If we’d been born into an Islamic culture we’d celebrate Eid Al-Fitr and Eid Al-Adha. Eid Al-Fitr is celebrated at the end of Ramadan (a month of fasting during daylight hours), and Muslims usually give zakat (charity) on the occasion. Eid Al-Adha is celebrated on the tenth day of Dhu al-Hijjah and lasts for three days, during which Muslims usually sacrifice a sheep and distribute its meat in 3 parts: among family, friends, and the poor.

If we’d been born into a Jewish culture we’d celebrate a lot of holidays: Hanukkah—Festival of Lights and Yom Kippur—Day of Atonement, just to name two of the very many Jewish holidays.

But, Christianity, Islam, and Judaism are just three religious ideologies, that celebrate holidays. Here is a list of some popular religions with Homo sapiens, each has its own holidays and knows how to party:

Bábism, Bahá’í Faith, Latter-Day Saints movement (Mormonism), Gnosticism, Druze, Black Hebrew Israelites, Rastafari movement, Mandaeans and Sabians, Shabakism, Bhakti movement, Buddhism, Din-e Ilahi, Hinduism, Jainism, Meivazhi, Sikhism, Zoroastrianism, Gnostic religions, Bábí movement, Yazdânism, Confucianism, Shinto, Shinto-inspired religions, Taoism, Contemporary Taoism-inspired religions.

That list does not include the indigenous traditional religions such as:

Mesoamerican religions, African, American, Eurasian, Oceania/Pacific, Cargo cults, Historical polytheism, Ancient Near Eastern, Indo-European, Hellenistic, Uralic, Mysticism and occult, Esotericism and mysticism, Western mystery tradition, Occult and magic, Modern Paganism, Syncretic, Ethnic, Native American, New Thought, Shinshukyo, Left-hand path religions, Post-theistic and naturalistic religions, Parody or mock religions.

I think you get the picture. Every group of Homo sapiens, given enough population and time has come up with some religious ideology or another. And each has developed holidays to celebrate, based on the myths and supernatural events that make-up the religion. It’s what we do, it’s called culture.

I’m a sceptic, which means I do not consider the idea of any god or gods as truth. As a sceptic, I want my celebrations to be based on facts and not myths.

I might be a sceptic, but I am also a member of Homo sapiens, which means I like to party like the next upright walking ape. How do I have my fun celebrating, and not have to participate in revels based on myths and the supernatural?

As it turns out our ancestors had already figured this out long ago. The ancients, who were much more in-tune with the environment than we are, celebrated based on the movement of the Earth and the Sun through the cosmos. This has been something us sapiens have been doing for a very long time. This schedule and system of celebration has been going on far longer than the Christian, Islamic, and Judaic celebratory schemes. It is based on observable, repeatable, and measurable events. No need for myths and the supernatural to get down a boogie.

So, this is the system and schedule of celebration I choose to follow. It is also quite flexible and can include more-or-less celebration times, depending on how much you like to party. Here is a list of the fact-based celebration events.

Winter Solstice

Our first factual celebration occurs in December each year and is known as the Winter Solstice. If you live in the northern hemisphere it’s known as the Winter Solstice and if you live in the southern hemisphere it’s known as the Summer Solstice.

The Winter Solstice (or hibernal solstice), also known as midwinter, is an astronomical phenomenon marking the day with the shortest period of daylight and the longest night of the year. In the northern hemisphere, this is the December solstice and in the Southern Hemisphere this is the June solstice.

Now if that is not something to party, I really do not know what would make you pick up a Champagne glass and start singing.

Vernal Equinox

In March, each year the Vernal Equinox occurs. An equinox is the moment in which the plane of Earth’s equator passes through the center of the Sun, which occurs twice each year, in March and September.

On an equinox, day and night are of approximately equal duration all over the planet. However, they are not exactly equal. This is due to the angular size of the sun and atmospheric refraction of the Earth. To avoid this ambiguity, the word equilux is sometimes used to mean a day in which the durations of light and darkness are equal.

Now I really need a drink.

Summer Solstice

In June, for us northern hemi-spherically biased, the Summer Solstice (or estival solstice), also known as midsummer, occurs. This is when our planet’s rotational axis, in either northern or southern hemispheres, is most inclined toward our local star (the Sun) that we orbit.

Autumnal Equinox

In September, the Autumnal Equinox occurs for us northerners. This is another time in our fact based celebratory year that day and night are of approximately equal duration all over the planet.

If these four fact based events are not enough for your partying needs then there’s more:

Imbolc

Half way between the Winter Solstice and Vernal Equinox in February is the marking of the beginning of spring. Most commonly it is held on 1 February, or about halfway between the Winter Solstice and the Spring Equinox. Historically, it was widely observed throughout Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. It is one of the four Gaelic seasonal festivals.

Beltaine

In May, let’s celebrate Beltane. This is the mid-point between the Vernal Equinox and the Summer Solstice. The name Beltane is the anglicized version of the Gaelic May Day festival. Most commonly it is held on 1 May, or about halfway between the Spring Equinox and the Summer Solstice. Historically, it was widely observed throughout Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man.

Now those Gaelic knew how to party.

Lughnasadh

In August, halfway between the Summer Solstice and the Autumnal Equinox we can celebrate Lughnasadh. Although, we might not be able to pronounce it. This party point marks the beginning of the harvest season. Historically, it was widely observed throughout Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. Originally, it was held on 1 August, or about halfway between the Summer Solstice and Autumn Equinox.

Samhain

In November, another Gaelic festival marking the end of the harvest season and the beginning of winter or the “darker half” of the year occurs. Traditionally, it is celebrated from 31 October to 1 November. This is about halfway between the Autumn Equinox and the Winter Solstice.

Now please, don’t tell me that we sceptics don’t know how to party.

Enjoy life, it’s the only one you’ll get.

TOP

Electric Car Update

Things are improving

There’s no excuse now

Since Julia and I bought our Nissan Leaf in 2013 things have radically changed in the Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) and the Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV) world. Back in 2013 there were nowhere near the options there are today. If you are a person concerned with conserving the environment, by reducing your carbon output from your travel needs, you have a plethora of choice today. There are currently 35 BEV and 37 PHEV options available to you. You can see a list of them below:

http://www.davidmillett.net/Trips/2014/ElectricCar/2107-EV.htm

When we bought the Leaf we were worried that its 80 mile range would be a big inconvenience to us. The fact is that, for our needs, 80 miles is more than enough. The Leaf covers over 90% of our travel requirements.

Nissan Leaf BEV

For the other 10% of our transport needs we require a solution that can travel in remote parts of the country where there are, for the moment, no charging options. Until hydrogen fuel stations have replaced, the obsolete and dangerous to the environment, fossil fuel stations the other excellent option today is Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles (PHEV).

These cars allow you to take advantage of local travel as a fully electric vehicle. Once the battery has been drained PHEVs return to fossil fuel burning beasts. The good news is that some of these new generation of PHEVs offer over 70 miles per gallon. This improvement in fuel consumption alone is enough reason to buy a PHEV. In 2012 cars and light trucks sold in the United States had an average of 23.6 miles per gallon, 70 miles per gallon is a significant improvement.

Given the current state of affairs Julia and I recently added, to our vast fleet of cars, the 2017 Prius Prime PHEV.

2017 Prius Prime PHEV

It does exactly what it is advertised to do and it does it in style. For 25 miles, the Prime is a full BEV. This means for all local commuting it has the same impact on the environment as the Leaf. When we head off into the outback the Prime delivers 73 miles per gallon. This means it still is pumping carbon into the atmosphere, but at a far lesser rate than most vehicles on the roads today.

Styling Prius Prime

In my mind, Hydrogen Electric Vehicles (HEV), are the ultimate solution to our environmental woes and transportation needs. But, the infrastructure for HEVs is not in place now, and given our current political situation, may not be in place for some time to come. The answer in the interim are BEVs and PHEVs.

See why I believe Hydrogen Electric Vehicles are the best solution.

Which one should you buy? The answer to this is: it depends on your transport and commuting needs. But, given that the average American commute to work, is approximately 15 miles one way. And that, two out of three commuters (68 percent) report a one-way commute of 15 miles or less. And that, 22 percent travel between 16 and 30 miles, and only 11 percent travel more than 30 miles, it seems a 2017 BEV (with a range of 200 miles or more) would cover most transport needs.

Read the data here.

2017 Chevrolet Bolt BEV with a 238 mile range

The environment is worth saving, and you can play your part. Get rid of that old gas guzzler, move into the twenty first century, and help to ensure a future for your children. Let’s all be socially responsible, even if our government is not.

TOP

Abortion, It’s the law (for the moment)

It is reasonable to declare that a woman should not control the body of her child just as no one, or government, should tell a woman what to do with her body. We do not control much in our short lives, but surely, we should have authority over our own bodies and existence.

However, religious miss-thinking is once again the culprit behind, unreasonable, draconian thinking, and laws. Religious miss-thinking, which is based on popular stories and myth, clouds our reason when it comes to control over our bodies. Right-To-Life proponents would argue that the government should, and indeed must, intervene in a woman’s authority over her body. This is a group of people that, in general, advocate for less government regulation on most other issues. This highlights how disingenuous the conservatives of this world are. If it suits them they are more than willing to advocate for authoritarian laws.

Here is the difference between an unborn child in the first trimester of pregnancy and its mother:

It all boils down to whether you believe in the fiction of religion or chains of evidence collected via observable, repeatable, and measurable tests. In the popular view, based on the fiction of religion, when a zygote (a collection of human cells) first begins replication, according to religious believers, god miraculously places a newly formed soul in this mess of cells.

According to observable, repeatable, and measurable tests, and not 2,000 year old desert scribblings, there is no such thing as a soul. What makes us who we are is three things: physiology, sociology, and psychology. Our physiology and sociology (life experience) combine to produce our unique psychology. This is done slowly as our nervous systems form over time. So, we are not souls, but rather a complex tree of nerves and synapses that grow over a long period of time, collecting and storing our life experiences and memories.

The only observable, repeatable, and measurable evidence we have supports this view: Electrical brain activity is first detected between the fifth and sixth week of gestation in the human zygote. It is considered primitive neural activity rather than the beginning of conscious thought. Synapses begin forming at 17 weeks, and begin to multiply quickly at week 28 until 3 to 4 months after birth.

What evidence do Right-To-Life proponents have that, a god places a soul in a zygote? Well there is their 2,000 year old desert scribblings. These scribblings are claimed to have been written by a god, but the only “empirical” evidence we have of this is, the scribblings themselves. Not only is a story like this highly dubious evidence, but its claim that it was written by a god is circular and self-serving at best.

In terms of the probability of a truth being true. The notion that a god places a soul in a collection of human cells is highly improbable. On the other hand, it is highly probable that we are who we are based on: Our physiology and sociology combining to produce our unique psychology.

So, if you hold to the mythical, but widely held view that souls exist then terminating a zygote would seem wrong. But observable, repeatable, and measurable evidence do not support the notion of a soul. These empirical tests do support the idea of physiology and sociology combining to produce our unique psychology, held within a growing and ever changing human nervous system.

Vita Mors

Myth is based on stories, facts are based on observable, repeatable, and measurable evidence.

Please give your kids a chance to see the world without the miss-thinking of religion. Let them make up their own minds. Their personal freedom, and yours, is at stake.

TOP