Science stories of the week

Discussion in 'General Science & Technology' started by wegs, Jan 31, 2021.

  1. wegs Matter and Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    My pick for this week:

    "This is the first time I have seen such a dramatic drop-off over such a wide area for a specific event," Fei Liu, an air quality researcher at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, said in the statement.

    https://www.livescience.com/coronavirus-...china.html

    I guess if there is anything positive that came from Covid19, it's that emissions have been down. I've always believed in climate change and that we play a crucial role in it, but we've taken a wrong turn somewhere in politicizing it, imo.
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2021
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  3. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    It's been politicised largely due to vested interests wanting to maintain their profits and their political influence for as long as possible.

    Exactly the same playbook is used by the climate denial lobby as was used by the pro-cigarette lobby. In fact, a lot of the same PR people are involved, and are using tried and tested tactics: deny evidence, tell lies about what the evidence says, invent spurious "alternative" causes, deny that making changes to laws or policies can do anything to address the problem even if it exists. Delay and delay and delay, for as long as possible.

    The pro-gun lobby also uses a similar playbook (and some of the same PR people are involved in that, too).
     
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  5. wegs Matter and Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    You could be right, but corruption seems to show itself on either side of the issue. There are some self seeking interests on the part of pro-environmentalists as well, sadly - when money is involved, it can taint even the most altruistic of people. Either way, lockdowns have helped the environment but how can we go back to productive lives without hurting our planet? Before Covid, many climate change deniers were just positing theories but now, we have proof that humankind plays a significant role in climate change.
     
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  7. sculptor Valued Senior Member

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    That's quite a leap from your posted

    ......................
    of course
    it depends on whether or not you can quantify "a significant role"
     
  8. wegs Matter and Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    You don’t see the connection between the last six months of off/on lock-downs to less (overall) emissions? The person I’ve quoted in the OP seems to see the connection correlating to one specific “event.”
     
  9. sculptor Valued Senior Member

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    Yes, I do see that the lockdown has led to less emissions.
    YAY
    Can we have industrial production without pollution?
     
  10. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    Of course. It will just be a bit more expensive.
     
  11. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    I'm not sure what examples you're thinking of, regarding the environmentalists.

    Certainly it is not remotely the case that "both sides" are equally morally culpable for politicising climate change.

    Well, fortunately the United States has just elected a President who doesn't believe that climate change is a myth and who is willing to listen to scientific experts and others about ways the nation can address the problem, without it being a net destructive influence on the economy etc.

    Scientists were warning about global warming back in the 1970s, or earlier. Certainly, by around the year 2000 the evidence for human-caused climate change was overwhelming. It's not as if "proof" of the human effect on the climate through the burning of fossil fuels has only been discovered in the past couple of years.
     
  12. wegs Matter and Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    All things considered, becoming greener does cost more. Definitely worth it, but still a trade off. It's probably why there are climate change deniers...follow the money.

    lol I'm not suggesting this ''enlightenment'' only happened within the past few years, rather pointing out that the lowering of emissions due to recent global lock-downs, underscored with literally one, single event - how impactful our actions are to the environment.
     
  13. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    While I agree with climate change and your overall point, I don't think anyone didn't realize that smog was manmade and therefore it was hardly surprising that smog went away when people stayed home.

    I do agree that it was an interesting before and after picture but I don't think it's going to sway any climate change denier (not that anything is going to do that).
     
  14. wegs Matter and Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    I don't think climate change deniers are claiming that people don’t create pollution. Their claim (seems to be) that emissions created by humans are not causing climate change.

    Do you find that climate change deniers will consider this just a ''blip?'' I think the main point is that it should give us hope for the future.
     
  15. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    It depends a lot on how you evaluate costs.

    For example, the longer governments delay in implementing effective policies to combat global heating, the greater will be the long-term costs in dealing with the consequences. There is an economic cost to doing nothing, in other words - one that is not incurred immediately, but in the future.

    It is already the case that effective climate action to address the known threat would have been easier and cheaper (in terms of long-term costs) if it had been taken 20 years ago, compared to it being taken now. But 20 years from now, the cost of not taking action now will be even more.

    The other thing to say is that is it not universally true that, even if we look only at short-term costs, green solutions are going to be more expensive than fossil fuel solutions. The cost of renewable energy, for instance, keeps coming down, while the cost of fossil fuels (not including the environmental harms they cause, which have never been fully accounted for by the economists) keeps going up. Already, renewable energy is in many ways comparable in cost, or lower, than equivalent fossil fuel solutions.

    I take your point.

    However, even if global fossil fuel emissions decreased in 2020 - and I'm not sure that they did, by the way - the overall level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is still increasing. Ultimately, humanity needs to reach zero net emissions - maybe even negative carbon emissions.

    There's huge danger right now, because Earth may be approaching - might even have passed - one or more climate "tipping points", after which dramatic climate change will become all but inevitable, no matter what we humans do.
     
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  16. Seattle Valued Senior Member

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    Yes, they say that we create pollution but that it's not causing climate change. Therefore less smog when people are largely staying home wouldn't matter to them at all.

    I don't know that this give us hope (or not) for the future unless Covid is the future. It does show that if were were greener now we wouldn't have smog but I think we already knew that.
     
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  17. wegs Matter and Pixie Dust Valued Senior Member

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    (Bolded for emphasis, by me.)

    Maybe Covid lock-downs provided a refresher course.

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  18. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    In the short term, yes. Hopefully we will get better at looking at the long term.
     
  19. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    Silly question. Probably deliberately.

    We most certainly can have industrial production with a lot less pollution.

    History shows us that progressive tightening of pollution regulations is always met (in the USA, where lobbying is so naked) with ritual cries of horror, but in the end industry manages to meet the challenge and we are all healthier for it, while the cost of manufactured goods continues to go down.
     
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  20. sculptor Valued Senior Member

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    "cause"
    seems to be a word that many use as though there were only one cause for almost everything.
    How silly of them.
     
  21. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    And yet most of science is based on the concept that specific causes have specific outcomes. Do you see science as silly?
     
  22. sculptor Valued Senior Member

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    I would say cumulative causes have cumulative effects
    (take evaporating water for instance)
    or
    Are you thinking of a single cause creating a single effect?

    science silly
    NO
    some of the participants/practitioners, and some of what is said while claiming "science", however....................
     
  23. Michael 345 New year. PRESENT is 71 years old Valued Senior Member

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    A single step moves you a single distance

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