Work on Climate Science or Else!

Discussion in 'General Science & Technology' started by BenTheMan, Sep 8, 2008.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. BenTheMan Dr. of Physics, Prof. of Love Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    8,967
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7603257.stm

    Ok, so maybe the message in the article isn't quite so concise, but it seems that this is the growing opinion of some people who are in charge of funding science. (For example, I would be extremely interested to hear what Obama says---specifically---about funding our National Labs (FermiLab, Brookhaven, Argonne, Los Alamos, etc.). )

    As a person who studies the "lesser challenge" of quantum gravity, I can say with certainty that I don't really care if society benefits from whatever I may discover. Conversely, should an artist who relies on government grants be told what kind of art to produce? The point is that the pursuit of knowledge, for the sake of knowledge, is an essential brick in the edifice of culture, just as the pursuit of art for art's sake.

    Personally, I have absolutely no interest in devoting any scientific inquiry into the field of climate science---I'd rather go work on Wall Street or for an Oil Company and make money than sit around analyzing core samples from Greenland.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement



    to hide all adverts.
  3. CharonZ Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    786
    I worked both on real basic research and a slightly more applied field, and I feel that I basically agree with your notions.
    On the other hand it would be quite a mess if the funding for non-applied science would shrunk down to the level of governmental funding for artists. Since much of our funding is based on tax money, it is easy to see why people want some kind of gain from it.
     
  4. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement



    to hide all adverts.
  5. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Messages:
    24,690
    I can't help reminding myself that whenever the U.S. government declares war on something, we invariably end up with more of it. The "War on Poverty," the "War on Drugs." I shudder to think what will happen if we declare a "War on Global Warming."

    But to get back on topic, assuming for the sake of argument that the threat of global warming is real, the solution isn't to pour money into climate research. The solution is to reduce mankind's carbon footprint, which does not require any stupendous new discoveries. It requires building lots of nuclear power plants to get us through the next couple of centuries without emitting more greenhouse gases. Then we put the capital and effort into the permanent solution: high-orbit solar collectors transmitting energy to earth stations in tight microwave beams.

    We can probably deal with the nuclear waste we produce in only two centuries, as troublesome as it will be. Perhaps that's where more science comes in: What's the cheapest way to eliminate the risk from nuclear waste?
     
  6. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement



    to hide all adverts.
  7. nietzschefan Thread Killer Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    7,721
    I suspect the atmospheric nuclear tests have more to do with ozone layer erosion/damage than everything else combined.

    Regarding greenhouse gases - nothing short of a major catastrophe will have us slowing down industrial/consumer activity. The whole world is now nearly addicted. Good luck.
     
  8. EntropyAlwaysWins TANSTAAFL. Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,123
    The only sure investment in the long term is basic scientific research, or rather the lack of funding for basic scientific research would be a disaster in the long run.
    Based on their logic if the majority of the population got us into a problem then its the sole responsibility of the brightest to fix it? You might as well say "go ahead and litter, I'm sure those bright engineers will come along and make a robot that will pick it up for you by tomorrow!".
    Have they put any thought into the possibility that by cutting off research from everything but what they define as important that they will discourage people in droves from perusing science as a career?
     
  9. Stryder Keeper of "good" ideas. Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    13,101
    It's a simple fix, Grow more plant's/Tree's. Yeah I know it's a tree hugger method, however it's a simple fact that plants absorb CO emissions. One of our main problems on this planet was our original deforestation of vast areas not just for the wood but to turn the "fertile soil" into crop land. Without regulating such deforestation and replacing woodland we've pretty much been heading towards a dust bowl.

    I mean it was a simple part of the Agrarian Revolution in the 18th Century, the Four-Course Rotation (or "Norfolk System") to rotate crops to encourage the soil not to become stripped of nutrients so nothing would grow. My thought on this is that the "unfertile" lands that have been overworked should have something hardy with deep roots, in example "trees". Growing the right trees (not pines because of their Acidic needles when decomposing.) would eventually return fertility to the soil.

    So you are killing two birds with one stone by reforest projects (in the right nonfertile areas). You are decreasing the CO emissions by growing plants that will absorb them, while also encouraging land that was damaged to regain nutrients so that in the future it can be deforested and turned back to farmland (obviously then turning somewhere else to a reforest project).
     
  10. BenTheMan Dr. of Physics, Prof. of Love Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    8,967
    As much as I hate to disagree with you, I do think you're wrong.

    The West is used to a certain standard of living, and if Westerners, en masse, simply will not accept the types of restrictions that some would have us accept. For example, making America more efficient would require us to drastically rethink the way our cities are built, the public transportation systems that we have, and the way most Americans live. What is needed is research to find new, more efficient and cleaner burning fuels, however, this increase in funding should NOT come at the cost of funding other basic science research. (For me, there are a few fields that I might be interested in---none of those fields are climate science---otherwise I'll find another job somewhere else.)
     
  11. Echo3Romeo One man wolfpack Registered Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,196
    We vitrify it or put it in casks. Then we put it in places like WIPP and Yucca Mountain and sit on it for a few hundred years. By that time, the Henry Ford of SSTO rocketry comes along, and we shoot it into the sun. (Seriously.) That is if people haven't already learned that it has decayed into just another heavy metal by that time and are willing to let it sit where it is for longer, which I tend to think is more likely. And by that time we aren't using fission for a power source anymore, so we aren't making as much of it.

    In the meantime, all those weird signs for Yucca Mountain that are supposed to be readable by whatever strange civilization exists 10,000 years from now go into a museum next to other stupid shit we thought was important at the time.
     
  12. nietzschefan Thread Killer Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    7,721
    That's a good idea actually.
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page