Michael Battalio

Friday, April 25, 2014

My Politics (part 3a): Climate Change

        Let me start off by saying this is not a political issue. I’ll say it again; climate change is not a political issue. I feel I need to repeat myself again: climate change is not a political issue. So, why am I talking about it here? Because morons have made it one. Let me begin by addressing the science in this post. In the next post I’ll address one of the fallacious arguments I hear a lot in regards to scientists and a general appeal on what to do.

        Firstly, climate change is
happening; it’s always happening. If you don’t think it is happening then you are one of those easily manipulated people that thinks that the economy will collapse if we stop using coal. Or you are one of those people that is so selfish that they can’t take the increase in energy prices if we do work to offset some of the pollution we are emitting. The question is how much is anthropogenic. I’m sorry to be harsh, but this is one of the few issues where compared to the average person I am an expert. I’m not trying to brag, but I definitely know more than you on this subject (unless you are one of my professors reading this). I’ve taken classes on the subject, seen way too many seminar presentations, and even been forced to do the math that shows that we are changing the climate. So if you are one of the few uneducated on this issue, click through some of these links and become educated. If you don’t believe just me, believe the 97% agreement among scientists that do. And if you don’t trust the experts, why trust anyone in anything (more on this in the next post)? Lastly let me point out how much research is being published supporting anthropogenic climate change. In the period Nov 2012 to Dec 2013 there were 2258 articles by 9135 authors, one rejected anthropogenic global warming. Even if you don’t trust thousands of scientists and don’t mind ignoring the complex modeling involved, you cannot ignore the most basic physics that underlies the concern. Carbon dioxide, when released in the lower atmosphere, traps energy that would otherwise pass through the atmosphere and into space (i.e. It is a greenhouse gas.). That is indisputable. Some of that trapped energy is radiated back to the surface. We are increasing the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere through human processes, so the effect must be increasing. You can call scientists liars and cheats, but you can’t ignore physics.
        Lastly, I can’t really blame the deniers for being stupid. There’s plenty of
research showing that any information hardens already formed opinions, regardless of what the research actually shows. So the problem is with us educators, not necessarily the deniers. We have to do a better job of educating.
And one last point on the matter, every single non-degreed climate blogger needs to have this tattooed backwards to their forehead:
you are not entitled to an opinion. You get an opinion if you are an expert in the subject you are pontificating about, not just if you are a regular human being. You have a right to think however you want, regardless of its factual accuracy, but you don’t have a right to have your ideas taken as the truth. Stop pretending that they should.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Discussions on Wealth (part 1):

This begins our discussion on wealth as mentioned in Serious Conversations parts 53 and 54. We are considering the book The Origin of Wealth by Eric D. Beinhocker. (I do not profit from clicks).

(Ed.: we will be taking the general format of outlining the major points of the chapter and then discussing what we believe to be important or intriguing points.)

Chapter one begins with a general overview of some economic concepts.
-Economic activity increased slowly until the industrial revolution.
-Evolution can describe the economy both metaphorically and scientifically.
-Evolution uses trial-by-error to find solutions, and the human decision-marking process is part of economic evolution. Although human decision-making is intentional, the evolution of the system as a whole is not an intentional or designed process.
-The economy is staggeringly complex, more complex than any other human endeavor, yet it runs in the background without some one looking over it.  (I had never thought about that.  It boggles my mind that it runs relatively smoothly for a large portion of the people on this planet, yet no one pulls the levers.)
-The difference in wealth between a New Yorker and the Yanamamo [an isolated group of people (approx. 35,000) in the Amazon] is not just the few hundred fold difference in “income” but the hundred million fold difference in the choice of what to spend income on.
-By the shirt design example (pg 14-15), even though humans are rational and predictive, the economy is too complex to be designed; it must evolve from an initial set of possibilities.
-Economic evolution is the result of three interlinked processes:  coevolution of physical technologies, social technologies, and business designs
-Four implications if the economy is a complex adaptive system
        1.)  Economist have misclassified the economy
        2.)  we are presented with a new set of tools for explaining the economy
        3.)  wealth is the result of evolutionary precesses
        4.)  there are strong impacts to business and society that will result from this paradigm shift (assuming it is accurate)

It really strikes me how interconnected the disparate disciplines of academia are and how specialization in one provides the tools for understanding in another, as in we will be using the principles of biology to aid in the understanding of economics. Given the applicability of ideas and techniques of some disciplines to other disciplines, it seems like over-specialization is a bad thing.  People would be better at their own disciplines if they have broad knowledge of plenty of other disciplines (Ed.: We will return to this topic later).
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