Tuesday, July 28, 2009


WAIT! - There's More

That's the problem with really complex systems, like I don't know - the environment? Consider two from my friend at Holy Coast. First quoting here:
"We've seen compact fluorescent lamps start to take over shelf space at the local hardware store. Replacing a 60 watt incandescent with a 13 watt CFL seems like a great savings, though many consumers are disappointed with the slow warm-up times, lower-than-advertised lifetimes, and hassles of disposing the mercury-containing bulbs. Now EDN reports they may use more energy than claimed due to their poor power factor. Mike Grather, of Lumenaire Testing Laboratory, 'checked the power factor for the CFLs and found they ranged from .45 to .50. Their "real" load was about twice that implied by their wattage.' The good news: you're only billed for the 13 watts of real power used. The bad news: the utilities have to generate the equivalent of 28 watts (that is, 28 VA of apparent power for you EEs out there) to light that bulb.
And this quoting here:
New research from NASA suggests that the Arctic warming trend seen in recent decades has indeed resulted from human activities: but not, as is widely assumed at present, those leading to carbon dioxide emissions. Rather, Arctic warming has been caused in large part by laws introduced to improve air quality and fight acid rain.

Dr Drew Shindell of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies has led a new study which indicates that much of the general upward trend in temperatures since the 1970s - particularly in the Arctic - may have resulted from changes in levels of solid “aerosol” particles in the atmosphere, rather than elevated CO2.
This is some really good science, but I will not bore you with the details of that. I want to talk about humility. The very essence of science is that the more we know, the more we know what we don't know. These stories are proof of that. In other words, the fundamental lesson of science is "We don't know." Now should that not produce humility in the face of nature?

And yet, we behave as if we have it all figured out and we have to act now. Consider how ultimately self-centered that is. Acting on suspicion may be the ultimate act of hubris.

Consider: Your spouse is working late. One night your spouse comes home late and is acting very furtive. You suspect infidelity. You storm out based on your fears. You only consider your perspective. And yet, if you slowed down long enough to listen, your spouse was working late to get some overtime to pay for a very special present for you. The specific furtive evening in question was the night the present was being sneaked into the house.

That's the problem when we act on scientific suspicion.

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