Banner
    Pollution And Parliament
    By Patrick Lockerby | May 12th 2013 10:57 AM | 17 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Patrick

    Retired engineer, 60+ years young. Computer builder and programmer. Linguist specialising in language acquisition and computational linguistics....

    View Patrick's Profile
    Pollution and Parliament

    Is carbon dioxide a pollutant ?

    I am old enough to remember the great smog and the 1953 flood.  There is nothing like a first-hand view of nature in the raw to make a person environmentally aware.  It was in the 1950s at the age of about 6 or 7 that I learned how coal was made out of vegetable matter in nature's own pressure cooker.  The origin of coal was so widely known that it was often called 'bottled sunshine'.

    image courtesy Lucky Trev

    It never made sense to me that we humans seemed to be in a great hurry to burn all of that natural wealth.  When I learned - somewhere in the late 1960s - about the greenhouse effect I saw immediately that we were putting back into the atmosphere what nature had taken millions of years to sequester underground.  Before all of that CO2 was locked away the world was not one conducive to mammals who walk on two legs and imagine themselves masters of the planet.  It makes no sense to me that we seem hell-bent on restoring such climatic conditions in the name of economic growth.

    This article is intended as a rebuttal to the arguments that 'CO2 is not a pollutant' and that some mysterious "they" predicted an ice age in the 1970s.  If CO2 is not a pollutant and an ice age was predicted, why then did Britain's Parliament devote so much time and energy in discussions of the polluting effects of CO2 and the greenhouse effect ?  The article draws heavily from Hansard.  All emphasis in the quoted speech is mine.


    Problems with gas lighting

    In February 1852 the Palace of Westminster was having problems with the new-fangled gas lighting system.  There were three inter-related problems.  The first problem was that the windows did not let in enough light. 
    I will venture to say that the very first idea that would strike a foreigner on looking at the interior would be, that the edifice was built before the window tax was taken off, and that the windows were constructed merely for the purpose of evading that impost.
    11 February 1852, MR. BERNAL OSBORNE
    The second problem was that the gas lighting installed to solve the first problem was a source of carbon dioxide from leaks and from combustion.  The third problem was that the existing ventilation methods were inadequate to deal with the second problem.
    SIR J. PAKINGTON was of opinion, with their old friend Sir Frederick Trench, that there was no light equal to that given by wax candles, but hoped, if they were to continue the system of gas lighting, that some very decided improvements would be made in the present system.
    11 February 1852, SIR J. PAKINGTON

    "as to the removal of the products of combustion of lights in the corridors, he had met that by dispensing with gas, and substituting wax candles, that hon. Members might not be troubled by the escape of gas. He had also ordered the people to put doors where they could, and in other places to put up large curtains, which Dr. Reid said would answer equally well."
    11 February 1852, Lord Seymour

    Dr. Reid had spoken of the extent of the evil arising from the miasma of graveyards. He had detected deleterious gases escaping from graves twenty feet deep, and stated that he had found the ground in many churchyards perfectly saturated with carbonic acid gas.
    08 April 1845, Mr. Mackinnon
    It is clear from the context that carbon dioxide (carbonic acid gas) was considered by Parliament at that time to be a pollutant.  So much so that over the years various laws were passed to control levels of CO2 in the workplace and in towns.
    Captain Kerby asked as Minister of Health how many autopsies were carried out on persons who died during the recent smog in London and Leeds; and in how many cases death was recorded as having been caused by carbon dioxide and other noxious substances emitted by solid fuels.
    Captain Kerby, 20 December 1962
    The phrase 'other noxious substances' indicates that Captain Kerby viewed CO2 as a noxious substance, i.e. a pollutant.


    The greenhouse effect

    The earliest reference to the greenhouse effect which I can find in Hansard is from 1969.
    My Lords, can my noble friend say whether he and British Railways have taken account of the fact that what were abnormal temperatures last summer may not be abnormal if we continue to discharge carbon dioxide into the air by the burning of various fossil carbons, so increasing the greenhouse effect?
    VISCOUNT ST. DAVIDS, 05 November 1969
    During the 1970s the greenhouse effect was discussed extensively in Parliament.

    21 July 1970
    It is said that jet aircraft landing and taking off in New York deposit 36 million tons of carbon dioxide into the air each year. This has a "greenhouse" effect because it allows the sun's rays to come down but prevents them from escaping into the atmosphere.
    Mr. Carol Mather
    30 November 1978
    I shall make an attempt to describe first, in the briefest possible terms, what is popularly known as the "greenhouse effect", how I believe excessive atmospheric carbon dioxide may affect the world climate.
    ...
    For some years now scientists concerned with meteorology and climatology have been expressing at times conflicting conclusions, but unanimous concern at the outcome of the processes I have described. Consequently, the World Meteorological Organisation, the International Council of Scientific Unions, in collaboration with other international agencies, are planning a world climate programme spanning the two decades from 1980 to 2000. This will be preceded by the World Climate Conference in Geneva next year. This programme will have three main elements, which are climate data and applications, an investigation of the impacts of climate on human activities, and, finally, research of climatic change and variability. What all this means to me as a non-scientist is that something is going on in the atmosphere which may not be fully understood, but its effects could change the existing pattern of life for society throughout the world.
    Lord TANLAW

    Barley is in "ear" at this time of the year and, although it is a pleasure to me that it is the "greenhouse effect" or the warming up of the atmosphere which should be blamed for things that are changing for the worse, instead of our membership of the EEC, it is nevertheless, as the noble Lord, Lord Tanlaw, has indicated in his remarks, much more than a joke.
    Lord O'HAGAN

    ... it is no longer a question; that is to say, we may have endless debates on the question of the climate because the subject is just as big as the climate itself. But one thing is now perfectly clear: the increase in the carbon-dioxide content of the atmosphere is, as I say, beyond dispute. One can argue about how one quantifies it. One can argue about the detail, but about the general facts one cannot argue.
    I am getting on in years and am beginning to despair of being listened to, but the fact is that in 1963 the United Nations Conference on Science and Technology spelled this out in the same terms as those in which we are spelling it out now. That was in 1963, 15 years ago. The debate was about the carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere.

    The fact is that these variations may be going back to the kinds of conditions before 1870, which were very hard. We know that in the 16th and 17th centuries, in Shakespeare's time, there was in fact a little ice age. Conditions were very extreme. We know this from the whole of nature. I do not want to get embarked into what would become a pretty involved argument on the general climatic picture. But I will say categorically, and beyond a peradventure, that the weather has changed and will never be the same again. It has changed since 1945–1950. There is no question about that. We have got all these variations; this weirdness, this strangeness, et cetera, which we ourselves recognise in our ordinary lives.

    I would remind your Lordships that hundred of millions of year ago carbon from primeval forests was locked away in the coal seams, and carbon from the organic life of the seas was locked away in what are now our oil deposits. That carbon was locked away and kept out of circulation for a very long time. The geological vaults were not burgled to any real extent until the Industrial Revolution. During the past century, industry has vomited out of chimney stacks, and vented out of car exhausts, 360 billion tons of fossil carbon into the atmosphere.
    The present 325 parts per million by volume (ppmv) of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will increase to 400 ppmv by the year 2000. This will mean an average surface warming of 1 per cent.—that is the most conservative estimate—and only 50 years beyond that, by the year 2050, it will increase to 650 ppmv, which is a doubling, an increase in temperature of a minimum of 3 degrees Celsius.

    As the noble Lord, Lord Tanlaw, said, this is not something we can discuss in a quiet non-political way because it is a totally global political question, though it is not a political question which can be dealt with by "demos" or "sit-ins" or any similar ways.

    Lord RITCHIE-CALDER


    ... carbon dioxide in the atmosphere absorbs radiation—the well-known greenhouse effect—and warms it, possibly (I say possibly) giving rise to the melting of the Polar ice caps.
    Lord SKELMERSDALE
    The projection of 400ppm by the year 2000 was wrong.  That error is no cause for celebration.  We have just reached that figure.

    23 January 1979

    A final word on the environment is that I have on another occasion attempted to warn noble Lords about the effects of fossil fuel burning in the upper atmosphere —the "greenhouse effect," and so on. If these programmes, or even a half of them, that are being considered in Europe, in the United States and the Third World come about—and I am sure they will— and if, as is quite possible, we receive further information from the scientific studies being conducted in the upper atmosphere indicating that fossil fuels are going to change the climate, then we may well be faced with a choice of having to cut back on our fossil fuel exploitation.

    On reflection, and on reading this report, I would say that even if we were told today that the exploitation of fossil fuels will affect the Earth's atmosphere and therefore our weather, I do not believe that we would stop the future of the coal industry because of that. We would  find far more important human and down-to-earth reasons for not doing so. Other countries would do the same. Therefore, I would say that the fossil fuels are going to have to be developed over the next 20 or 30 years. My personal belief is that they will affect the atmosphere and the climate. We are going to have to live with this as one more effect which is man-made; but this effect is much more irreversible than that of the nuclear waste which we are having problems burying. It is a fact that we have created an effect which steadily moves onward and we have no means at all, so far as I am aware—the scientists advise me that is so—of reversing this process. Therefore, I should like to conclude with this warning: although I believe that fossil fuels will have to be developed along the lines we are considering in this report in this country and also in Europe and the Third World, we shall be greatly adding to a process which is far more irreversible than that of the nuclear waste that we appear to be having trouble disposing of for the future.
    Lord TANLAW
    Why are we still arguing about the siting of ground based thermometers when there is an overabundance of direct measurements and of geological and biological proxies which all indicate that the planet is warming and that we are the primary cause ? 
    There are people who will challenge one standard and then come back and rebut it with their arguments, and one finds that scientists are arguing about different things; about different standards of measurement. I am sure that this will be an increasingly important part of the work of the Royal Commission, because control of our environment is expensive. The benefits are usually intangible, and many vested interests, private and public, can, and often do, feel threatened. And, not least, there is the apathy of the public with which to contend.

    It seems to me that we shall need to establish standard methods for measuring and monitoring pollution of various kinds so that all of us will trust the evidence and thereby establish the need for action; and not only the need for action, but the will to take it.
    Mr. Geoffrey Johnson Smith, 21 July 1970


    .

    Comments

    Hank
    The earliest reference to the greenhouse effect which I can find in Hansard is from 1969.
    Maybe, but the first climate change debate was in 1799: Between Thomas Jefferson and Noah Webster.

    I think people argue about thermometer measurements because before 1980 they weren't very accurate and were documented from places like airports and someone who calls in from their back yard. The reason it is invoked still (by opponents) is because when temperature readings did not show what was expected, climate scientists in the advocacy business attacked...placement and accuracy of thermometers.
    Good grief.

    Really?

    Do you not understand that the British Parliament is an elected legislative body?

    Setting aside your ideological bias, do you have empirical evidence of any sort that would support your rebuttal?

    Relying on the British Parliament to make a scientific case is a very slippery slope.

    Good luck with all that.

    logicman
    Do you not understand that the British Parliament is an elected legislative body?

    I conclude from that somewhat rhetorical question that you popped in to leave a comment while on your way to your grandmother's house for the purpose of teaching her to extract the contents of a chicken's calcium-encapsulated embryonic matter.

    I am British - English even.  I can find my way to the stranger's gallery without a map.  Blindfold.  Thank you for incrementing my erudition by expostulating on the topic of electorally sanctioned representational aggregations.


    Setting aside your ideological bias, do you have empirical evidence of any sort that would support your rebuttal?
    Setting aside your ideological bias, do you have empirical evidence of any sort that would support your assertion that I have an ideological bias ?

    Relying on the British Parliament to make a scientific case is a very slippery slope.

    Lord Tanlaw is a scientist.  Being a scientist is no bar to membership of either august body.

    Good luck with all that.

    Thank you very much.
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Great article Patrick and very educational. Well you've certainly reconvinced me that CO2 is a pollutant and also that Britain's Parliament devoted a lot of time and energy in discussions of the polluting effects of CO2 and the greenhouse effect back in the 70s. I remember them.

    I also remember as a child having serious concerns about all that coal burning, smog and pollution, when I was growing up in industrial Bradford and then London. The exteriors of the houses in Bradford were almost jet black, until I went back there to go to University. Then the sand blasters arrived a year after me and the council systematically cleaned every brick on every house, revealing often breathtakingly, beautiful, Yorkshire sandstone buildings and leaving a small sandy beach piled up in most gardens, for the kids to play in!

    As you pointed out, nature took millions of years to sequester CO2 underground and create a world conducive to all animals, not just the mammals walking on two legs, who are now imagining ourselves to be masters of the planet. The reality is that, 'economic growth'  is the master of mankind and the real cause of most of this pollution, devastation and the rapid, global, mass extinctions that are taking place, hundreds every day. I'm not religious but if there is a Devil then I imagine he is the mastermind behind all of this 'economic growth' that is constantly being rammed down our mouths as totally necessary and even somehow justified! There are plenty of people here at Science20 that still advocate it.


    The most enjoyable unit that I studied recently at Southern Cross University, was 'Indigenous Worldviews' in which I learnt in great detail, about how Australia's Indigenous people lived in almost perfect harmony with nature, for tens of thousands of years, respecting and care taking the land and the animals, while using herbal birth control to keep their population growth small and manageable. They believed that the land and the animals owned them, not the other way around. Every person belonged to a land clan but also to an animal clan, as identified by their mother, when they were in the womb, they could never then eat this animal, and each animal clan had members from different land clans. These clans met regularly to protect their own animal's environment and numbers and tended the secret, holy places of their animal clan, where no one else could go or hunt. Clever!

    I have since been told (by Gerhard I think), that they did occasionally overly burn some areas and create some deserts but that may well have been 10,000 years ago, in the 200 years since the 'invaders' arrived we have chopped down 80% of the native forests after declaring the land 'Terra Nulla' (unoccupied land) simply because indigenous people didn't put up fences and have a united nation for their hundreds of self governing clans that were understandably not under the rule of one ruler or king! We have also devastated a lot of the land and its indigenous animals by introducing highly destructive and invasive non-indigenous plants and animals like cattle, sheep, rabbits, camels, pigs, foxes, starlings, cats, cane toads etc...

    Anyway, they were the closest of any human civilizations that we know of, to manifest and practice most of the principles of Marxism and environmental sustainability and to free themselves from any need for constant 'economic growth' and the environmental pollution and devastation that such constant economic growth, inevitably brings with it! 
    My latest forum article 'Australian Researchers Discover Potential Blue Green Algae Cause & Treatment of Motor Neuron Disease (MND)&(ALS)' Parkinsons's and Alzheimer's can be found at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    logicman
    Helen thank you for the added value.

    ... the council systematically cleaned every brick on every house, revealing often breathtakingly, beautiful, Yorkshire sandstone buildings and leaving a small sandy beach piled up in most gardens, for the kids to play in!
    I have seen that stone-cleaning at first hand in Lancashire, 1970s.  All that soot encrustation and - in his day, soot - is probably Blake's inspiration for 'dark, satanic mills' and has a well-known science connection.
    Gerhard Adam
    Many would dispute your argument by claiming that it is simply another iteration of the "noble savage" viewpoint.  However, I tend to take a more mid-line approach.

    I don't expect that people were any more conscientious than they are now, but you're correct in pointing out that their belief systems would've certainly fostered certain activities above others.  However, the most important point is still simply natural selection.  It isn't a question of "living in harmony".  It's much simpler.  That's that didn't would go extinct.

    We don't talk about lions, or elephants, or fish "living in harmony" with nature, because that's precisely what makes up nature, and so do humans.  As a result, it's perfectly reasonable to conclude that successful tribal societies also had to come to terms with living in "balance".  Humans have always been part of nature too, but it's only been in recent centuries that we presumed to set ourselves apart from nature as if we could somehow survive by our own force of will.

    It is clear that for all their technological progress, humans have focused on circumventing the rules.  As with most things humans do, we took good things and abused them.  So it will remain to be seen whether we actually learn how to live well on this planet, or whether we eventually cause our own demise.

    Certainly some will argue that my argument is simply naive and that science can solve our problems and demonstrate that nature isn't something that we need to be victims of and that we can control it to put humans in control.

    In my view, that's wishful thinking.  We possess a miniscule amount of knowledge regarding the natural world.  However, the primary error that humans commit is that they think that exerting more control will grant them power.  It won't.  It will simply consume them completely.
    Mundus vult decipi
    John Hasenkam
    exerting more control will grant them power.
    Goody, now I can rant against "control". It is quite amazing that we so easily slip into thinking we can control the world. Just keep deciding onwards to our manifest destiny. Well if its friggin manifest than why bother because it is already a given!? In a recent "policy release" by the Australian opposition, the coalition, their glorious leader is quoted as saying, "There is no limit to what Australia can do." What utter rubbish, how can we tolerate such stupid hubris in our politicians? It is as if humans en masse think they stride not across the planet but on top of it, as overlords who will battle and win against creation that was corrupted because of that bloody Adam chap. 



    Progress is the god our age. The European philosopher John Gray has written some wonderful words on the subject. The very idea of staying still, of saying, even for a decade - look let's all just settle down a bit stop rushing about - is heretical. Global warming is one warning sign that we  never had control. A few days ago I read a analysis of the incidence of neurological disorders, a follow up from a 2005 study. In both cases we are seeing alarming rises in the outright rate of neurologic disorders and disturbingly these are are occurring at younger ages over the last 30 years. There are also alarming spikes in immunological related disorders, and according to Dr. Healy the rate of depression diagnosis has increased x1000 since the 1950s. Things are breaking. 


    Natural systems are complicated series of sometimes interlocking feedback loops. There is no central controller. The same is true with culture and progress. We rarely stop to think that our desire for progress is at the heart of many emerging problems. We think we can control these problems through progress but obviously in some critical respects we have failed. "Prophecy is not an activity of science." (Theodore von Karmen) People who believe in progress are prophets not scientists. We need A New Kind of Progress. Perhaps the challenge we face in regard to Global Warming is because we refuse to stop believing we can continue living and believing as we always have. Cultures do reach critical points in their history. As the French historian Braudel noted: 
    "A civilisation generally refuses to accept a cultural innovation that calls in question one of its own structural elements. Such refusals or unspoken enmities are relatively rare: but they always point to the heart of a civilisation.
    Fernand Braudel, The History of Civilisations.



     
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    I don't think that the Australian Indigenous people were all 'noble savages,  'an idealized concept of uncivilized man, who symbolizes the innate goodness of one not exposed to the corrupting influences of civilization.' Quite the contrary I think that many of them were quite civilized 'primitive' people. 'In general, civilization involves the rise of legal institutions and the acquisition of a legal monopoly of force by a government'. 

    Each clan had its own very strict laws and legal system enforced by its own government of elders, a bit like the Scots did once. Also, like the Scots the Australian Aborigines had quite a lot of inter-clan rivalry, fighting and honor marriages, but all according to very strict laws of what was legally agreed to be acceptable and honorable.  With so many different clans over such a massive and varying geographical area, there would have been an equally, huge variation in clan laws and what was legally and culturally acceptable and there were many different languages, cultures and ways of life. 

    I know that there were huge gatherings not far from where I live in SE Queensland, when thousands of Indigenous people from different tribes congregated every 3 years for the bunya nut gatherings

    'At these gatherings groups conducted business:
    • items, food, information and new knowledge were traded and shared;
    • cultural, social and kinship obligations were observed and arranged;
    • disputes and complaints were resolved;
    • ceremonies were conducted and future events organised; and
    • songs, stories and dances were swapped between groups to be taken home to their own people.

    Groups attended other events with different groups and continued the cycle. Through this trading and exchange of information, songs, stories and material culture trade routes were established across Australia.'

    So, back to the point I was trying to make, with regard to man-made environmental degradation and CO2 emissions. I was not trying to point out how noble these savages were, instead I was observing how effectively they had learnt to live in harmony with the land, not trying to conquer or 'control' it or see themselves as 'victims' of nature. 

    You said that 'certainly some will argue that my argument is simply naive and that science can solve our problems and demonstrate that nature isn't something that we need to be victims of, and that we can control it to put humans in control. In my view, that's wishful thinking.  We possess a miniscule amount of knowledge regarding the natural world.  However, the primary error that humans commit is that they think that exerting more control will grant them power.  It won't.  It will simply consume them completely.' 

    I agree with you to some extent, however I'm not advocating that we go back to living in more primitive societies, or that we exert even more destructive control. Instead I think we need to use our different sciences to understand how these supposedly more primitive people, lived for so long, in such harmony with the land and with nature. Obviously birth control was essential but we also need to examine ways of cutting back the current, massive, carbon footprints of transporting our modern food by instead growing it locally and utilizing farming methods that don't destroy the environment and release toxic emissions. Preferably these native foods would include the hundreds of native animals, plants and fruits that the Indigenous people ate in that area and which naturally lived symbiotically in that environment and climate etc etc.. 

    The list of what would need to be worked out is long, but science would be involved in the whole process, gathering historical and modern anthropological and environmental evidence, measuring, predicting and then testing out more environmentally friendly farming practices and symbiotic living arrangements. The tools required to do this could include genetic engineering and many other modern scientific breakthroughs in knowledge however the aim would be to achieve sustainability, reproduce and reinstate genetic diversity and create a more natural, harmonious, symbiotic, 'organic' environment for the people and their animals and plants to live happily together in, both now and in the long term future.
    My latest forum article 'Australian Researchers Discover Potential Blue Green Algae Cause & Treatment of Motor Neuron Disease (MND)&(ALS)' Parkinsons's and Alzheimer's can be found at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Gerhard Adam
    Instead I think we need to use our different sciences to understand how these supposedly more primitive people, lived for so long, in such harmony with the land and with nature.
    I couldn't help but be struck by the irony; using all of our science to learn how people lived without science.

    In any case, we already know how to do that.  The problem is that we don't want to.  As a result, all of our scientific efforts are geared towards avoiding that.  We don't have to live more primitively.  We don't have to give up our useful technologies, nor our medicines.  We simply have to stop behaving as if we are the only organism that counts on this planet.

    The most obvious is runaway population.  Instead of looking for more ways to avoid the inevitable, it is obvious that fewer people would immediately reduce the pressure of more and more elaborate technologies to support a growing population.  With such a change, then we could begin actually solving the problems we face.  Yet, this won't happen because we have elected to build our societies using economic models that would collapse in the absence of perpetual growth.

    We're an example of a species that wants its cake and to eat it too. 

    We shall see.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    I couldn't help but be struck by the irony; using all of our science to learn how people lived without science.
    I don't think its fair to say that these primitive but civilised people lived without science. How could they have discovered so many medicinal herbs, including contraceptive herbs for example, if they hadn't applied the principles of science? 

    As Robert points out elsewhere here, 'we forget that our prehistoric ancestors made all the most useful discoveries, except that of chloroform, which have ever been made.  To them we owe language, the family, clothing, the use of fire, the domestication of animals, the wheel, the ship, poetry and agriculture.'  The Australian Aborigines were different though, they respected the land, its animals and nature. They didn't try to tame it instead they lived cooperatively with it, they felt they belonged to the land, plants and animals as caretakers. This concept is very far from the modern man's perspective which is that the land, animals and nature are all commodities that owe us a living, that exist purely to be exploited and tamed, in the headlong pursuit of 'economic growth' to feed ever growing, distant, often very wasteful or even starving human World populations. 

    Modern man's current, rather bleak future, utilizing existing scientific trends, will probably include growing meat and fish in huge petri dish-like vats, bathed in antibiotics, fungicides, growth hormones and synthetic nutrients, destined for human consumption. Cutting down what's left of the World's forests, the lungs of the world and planting huge expanses of genetically modified, monocultured crops, that either contain insecticidal toxins such as bacterial Bt Cry spores or toxic snowdrop leptins in every cell of the plants and/or that are sprayed continually with insecticides and herbicides, that inevitably end up polluting the bodies of the humans that eat them, as well as the waterways and surrounding habitats, or what's left of them by then. Most of the World's 'unnecessary' flora and fauna will have become extinct, unless it can be found to somehow economically useful to mankind as zoo or botanical garden exhibits maybe.

    So the future governments of modern, parasitic man will continue to keep using science to achieve their never ending pursuit of economic and population growth, exploiting the Earth and her plants and animals, destroying anything that can't be utilized for profit. People that are still useful in some way, especially consumers, may expect to live longer, probably with more and more illnesses to be treated with more and more pharmaceuticals, while living in enclosed living areas or cities that are still habitable, as temperatures will keep rising, climate change will keep changing, creating bigger hurricanes and floods and seas will keep rising. 

    Depression, suicide, wars and terrorism will probably still be rife and endemic in the future, especially as the manufacturing and sale of weapons is economically vital for many 1st World countries. Welcome to the rather pointless, economically sound, humanly mono-cultured, brave new world of the future, or is it really goodbye Heaven on Earth and hello Hell? Will there still be religious leaders there, threatening hell and promising heaven to their believers when they die, fighting religious wars, still with no corroborative scientific evidence that their future life after death heavens or hells exist, when it was obvious even to Australia's primitive aborigines, who were killed and raped in their thousands by us invaders, that this is heaven on Earth that they lived in and that we still live in now. They understood that we need to look after the Earth and its many wonderful and often still undiscovered treasures and lifeforms, not force so many of them into extinction, in the pursuit of economic growth and man's lonely and pointless supremacy before he dies and lives forever more in heaven!!!
    My latest forum article 'Australian Researchers Discover Potential Blue Green Algae Cause & Treatment of Motor Neuron Disease (MND)&(ALS)' Parkinsons's and Alzheimer's can be found at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    logicman
    we need to look after the Earth and treasure its many wonderful and often still undiscovered treasures and lifeforms,

    Hear! Hear!

    According to Wikipedia:

    The overuse of the phrase by an eager member of the House of Commons led Richard Brinsley Sheridan, in one speech, to deviate from his planned text and say "Where, oh where, shall we find a more foolish knave or a more knavish fool than this?". The lone Member of Parliament said "hear, hear."
    rholley
    a more foolish knave or a more knavish fool
    Although Bram Stoker has ensured that today he has an unwarranted reputation as a vampire, Vlad III. Drăculea is regarded by the Romanians as something of a hero, since he may well have contributed to their survival as a nation.  Their 19th century poet Mihai Eminescu wrote:

        Come, Lord Impaler, put your hand on [our leaders],
        Divide them into two parts: the crazy and the corrupt,
        Lock the lot of them up in two large institutions,
        Then set fire to both, the prison and the madhouse!

    He might have had some difficulty classifying that one!

    Robert H. Olley / Quondam Physics Department / University of Reading / England
    logicman
    Come, Lord Impaler, put your hand on [our leaders],
        Divide them into two parts: the crazy and the corrupt,
        Lock the lot of them up in two large institutions,
        Then set fire to both, the prison and the madhouse!

    It sure beats ostracism !
    rholley
    The Aboriginal Australians and people in similar circumstances have been on the receiving end of what I will call “word-shift” in the English language.  A classic case of this is the word gentleman.  Even in Jane Austen’s time it generally meant a man of rank, but was changing its meaning to a man who behaved like a man of rank was supposed to (as opposed to actually did) behave.  The following illustrates the gap into which ‘primitive’ peoples found themselves pushed.  Here is how the phenomenon applied to peoples encountered by European explorers:
    Brute and savage both belong to that unfortunate class of words which are sometimes used rhetorically, as terms of reproach, and sometime scientifically, as terms of description; and the pseudo-scientific argument against the Fall depends on a confusion between the usages.  If by saying that man rose from brutality you mean simply that man is physically descended from animals, I have no objection.  But it does not follow that the further back the more brutal – in the sense of wicked or wretched – you will find man to be.  . . .   The whole modern [1940!] estimate of primitive man is based on that idolatry of artefacts which is a great corporate sin of our own civilisation.  We forget that our prehistoric ancestors made all the most useful discoveries, except that of chloroform, which have ever been made.  To them we owe language, the family, clothing, the use of fire, the domestication of animals, the wheel, the ship, poetry and agriculture. [1]
    Regarding civilization, this is another word which, because of its multiple uses, has been used pejoratively against people such as the Native North Americans.  Originally, the word meant ‘living in cities’, and more civilized people found themselves living in collections of cities.  However, as Wikipedia points out, this “is a sometimes controversial term that has been used in several related ways.”  Civilization in the original sense generally gave the people some temporary advantage over their neighbours who lived in older forms of society, but it often brought a lot of unpleasant things with it, such as emperors who collected lots of wives for themselves, and these found themselves being sacrificed when the emperor died.

    However, the word followed a similar trend to gentleman, in regard to civilized behaviour.  Once the science of Anthropology arose, this came to mean behaving as Europeans and especially as Englishmen.  As Darwin wrote in Descent of Man:
    Given a land originally peopled by a thousand Saxons and a thousand Celts – and in a dozen generations five-sixths of the population would be Celts, but five-sixths of the property, of the power, of the intellect, would belong to the one-sixth of Saxons that remained. In the eternal “struggle for existence”, it would be the inferior and less favoured race that had prevailed – and prevailed by virtue not of its good qualities but of its faults.

    Please note: I came over from Ireland at about the time I started to toddle.

    In reaction against this, people have tried to widen the use of “civilization” to cover as many types of society as possible.  Now there were many civilizations in Africa before Europeans arrived, not only the well-known ones like the Egyptian, but as far south as the Kingdom of Mapungubwe (1075–1220) in South Africa.  The king sat at the top of a large hill or mound, with a low door through which anyone who wanted an audience had to crawl to get in: rather like the American boss at the top of his skyscraper and the wretched employee having to crawl to him to ask for a raise in salary.  But if you start applying the term to temporary gatherings where normally independent tribes came perhaps once a year to do business, it starts to lose any scientific value.

    Anyway, that’s enough of the serious stuff.  Enjoy this:
    Arthur Koestler has gloomily proposed that there must be something wrong with the human brain.  Hastily I rise to second the motion, as must virtually any audience that reads the morning papers.  The risen ape too frequently shows signs of confusion as to which way he is headed, up or down.  As Konrad Lorenz once commented, Homo sapiens still remains the halfway house between the ape and the human being.  But I am not quite so gloomy as Koestler.  Perhaps this is because I am not a Hungarian with an ancestor who, after half a million years of hoping for the best, must by now be a most disappointed fossil.  I am instead a nouveau barbarian sprung from Scottish ancestors who until a century and a half ago delighted in nothing so much as killing one another and in this short lapse of time have at least made a certain civilized advance.  If what has happened to the Scots can happen in New Guinea, then even Papuans have hope. [2]

    [1] C.S.Lewis, The Problem of Pain, Chapter 5

    [2] Robert Ardrey, The Social Contract, Chapter 10

    Robert H. Olley / Quondam Physics Department / University of Reading / England
    logicman
    Robert: you are an edelmensch and a scholar !

    Arthur Koestler has gloomily proposed that there must be something wrong with the human brain.  Hastily I rise to second the motion,
    and I to third it.

    I thoroughly enjoy reading Koestler's books.  I have two to hand as I write these words.
    "we have no means at all, so far as I am aware—the scientists advise me that is so—of reversing this process ..."

    Scientists have learned more since. It turns out that there is a naturally occurring alkali that can and does snatch down CO2 (aka carbonic acid) spontaneously.

    To make this happen at the necessary increased rate, one must pulverize the base (it's rock). This costs a fairly small fraction of the energy that was yielded putting the CO2 up in the first place. The pulverization energy is small because it is catalytic, helping the CO2 and rock down a free-energy gradient rather than driving them up one.

    More at http://www.innovationconcepts.eu/res/literatuurSchuiling/olivineagainstc... .

    logicman
    Thanks for the link to the pdf.  Here's another for you: "CO2 Mineral Sequestration Studies in US"

    The problem as I see it is that people look for solutions to problems inside the box.  Quite apart from the CO2 problem we have the problem of landscape destruction and pollution from mining.  Grand scale mining of olivine might let us 'carry on regardless', but at what cost of further landscape destruction and pollution.

    The production of calcite by electrochemical means using solar / wind power, or
    microbiological precipitation might be better: the end product if controlled for quality has many uses.  The electrochemical deposition of mixed carbonates in the sea can provide a foundation for the restoration of marine habitats.  It should also be possible to produce low grade building materials for, e.g., core construction of sea walls.