Discussion Board

Topic: How do you feel about politicized science? (Global Warming)

From: Kristin A Ruhle
Date: 10/06/2008

Hi! I do want to read the new book, but I'm putting off buying it or maybe putting it on my Xmas list....any chance you will be in CA anytime soon? Darn, i missed that seattle signing...i could and have, ordered signed books from out of the area stores - and autographs are what sell me hardcovers. Never mind, B-day and Xmas coming up!

but i'm getting to something that really has nothing to deo with it...what i wonder is: science fiction writers take different approaches to the global warming issue. do YOU think warming is a hoax? You see, the so called "consensus" (or perhaps "liberal" would be better word?) is that the earth is getting warmer due to human activity. The "conservative" skeptic view is that global warming is real but part of a natural cycle and not caused by humans. (this is the one promoted by the oil industry - i do not trust anyone in the pay of ExxonMobil, so there.) They backed off from saying "not happening" to saying "Not human caused." BUT, there is a third view, the Solar Science-Based skeptic. in this view the natural trend is actually global cooling, part of a sun spot/slowing of solar activity cycle and if anything human activity is heading it off. Some *very* respectable scientists are gathering evidence there, eg JPL which brings them into conflict with their nasa bosses sometimes. I'll call this the Libertarian view.
The Conservative view does get attention (Dubya having been in love with it, and govt people had been shamefully censoring science they didn't like!) if only because the Liberal view is dominant. But the third approach you only hear about from Libertarians...and sf writers.

You can tell a writer's political slant by which science he/she prefers to base books on. (eg Kim Stanley Robinson is liberal, and I think John Ringo is Libertarian. (well what can you say about folks who write mostly/all for Baen...) what prompted me to write was learning that Ringo's newest apocalyptic novel involves global cooling. OK any science can be used for sf if it is well extrapolated. But can the real world afford to have this argument?

I sometimes despair of science ever being objective. Academics are woefully underpaid, and many scientists are effectively forced to prostitute themselves to earn a living. I want to know which arguments you find most pervasuasive since you are intelligent and read an awful lot.

btw I don't think we'll even shake our addiction to fossil fuel as long as there is fossil fuel in the ground. People are still too afraid of nuclear and using solar/wind to run a whole power grid is a fantasy.

Re: How do you feel about politicized science? (Global Warming)

From: Greg Bear
Date: 10/07/2008

Hello, Kristin! Global warming is real--it's happening. The causes are many--no doubt humans contribute, perhaps substantially. The political climate is also hot for global warming--in part I suspect because W was against it, and he's been wrong on almost everything. Along the way, we can fund a lot of great science and move away from fossil fuels. In a couple of hundred years, we'll know more about the long-term weather of the planet--but on this issue, we do need to make advances now. (I remember the TWILIGHT ZONE episode where we had it both ways--first it got cold, then it got hot...)

Re: How do you feel about politicized science? (Global Warming)

From: patrick
Date: 10/10/2008

Kristin, it's really simpler. It doesn't matter at all whether global warming is truth. What matters is industrial processes are inefficient and pollutive, and the reason for them being so pervasive is humans in developed nations are seduced by (material) luxury. Animals are very efficient and 'careful' with resources (and generally live well). A model for us to embody.

Re: How do you feel about politicized science? (Global Warming)

From: Greg Bear
Date: 10/13/2008

Actually, animals can be incredibly wasteful. Even bacteria can produce industrial-style catastrophes. Forensic pathologists are well aware of a condition in corpses called adipocera--conversion of fats into a smelly, soapy substance which bacteria find completely unpalatable. There's even a "soap lady" at the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia--self-preserved for over a hundred and seventy years. And sometimes predators go on senseless killing sprees... Humans are part of nature, no better, not much worse, though (thank goodness) perhaps more self-critical.

Re: How do you feel about politicized science? (Global Warming)

From: patrick
Date: 10/16/2008

I'll specifiy. In certain conditions common to natural processes, some animals behave in very economical ways. Even if only a few weren't 'wasteful', they would still stand out as models. Regardless of the naturally occuring possibility of bacterial blooms, etc, the periods of sustenance that have occured before humans were a factor were far longer than recorded history. Nature in itself, however imperfect, has much to learn from.

Re: How do you feel about politicized science? (Global Warming)

From: Richard Blaber.
Location: Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, England.
Date: 11/10/2008

Global warming is real, and increasing greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere may lead to a positive feedback effect, causing yet more CO2 and CH4 to enter the atmosphere from clathrates, etc., and an exponential rise in temperature, as well as melting of the polar ice-caps and subsequent rise in global sea-levels.
This, in fact, may be the least of our worries: by 2045, according to the US Census Bureau, the planet's human population will have reached 9.1 billion. There will not be enough drinking water, food or energy to supply their needs, and global warming, with its effects on climate (flooding, droughts, etc.) will only exacerbate the problems.
Conflict, and large-scale death, are, I'm afraid, unavoidable. My great worry is that the mid-21st century could mark the H. sapiens extinction event!

Re: How do you feel about politicized science? (Global Warming)

From: Greg Bear
Date: 11/11/2008

And yet somehow--despite predictions of imminent disaster in the sixties and seventies--remember Rachel Carson and the Club of Rome, Paul Ehrlich, etc.?--we manage to survive. Crises are what life is all about. Stability is an illusion. We'll solve these problems--we'll adapt and change. And if disaster is truly down the road, then having survived the human-caused paroxysms and cruelties of the twentieth century, we're certainly better prepared.

At least we have an administration in charge now that's willing to examine the problems and look for solutions.

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