Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Allan Schnaiberg's 1980 nightmare : pollution-producing SkyGods vs impacted-upon earthlings

SkyGod Machine in earthling Garden
In the1970s, the Canadian-born sociologist of environmentalism, Allan Schnaiberg , was the first to detect the emerging split in popular Science that this blog (also Canadian-born) is devoted to exploring ; so a man well worth honouring.

But as I have written in an earlier post in SVE, I didn't stumble upon Schnaiberg's seminal concept until I chanced upon the work of Myanna Lahsen --- thanks to the wonders of Google search.

She casually mentioned the concept of earlier-dominant production science versus the contested rise of today's impact science, as if all her readers would know what it meant.

But I didn't --- or rather I did.

It sounds an awful lot like my concept of earlier (pre-war) SkyGod scientists versus later (post-war) earthling scientists.

I eventually traced the meme back to Schnaiberg and a time period almost 40 years ago.

Long past overdue, then,  for the concept to be a commonplace and a cliche in the vocabulary of every warmist earthling environmentalist green.

Basically it can be seen as a variant of my beloved contrast between the fundamental second law of thermodynamics (matter and energy gets less and less useful to humanity (aka more and more of it becomes useless  particulate pollution and heat pollution) and the derivative first law of thermodynamics.

The sciences of half-truthfulness...

The first law says (as a half truth) that matter and energy can't ever be destroyed but only changed into alternative forms.

A half truth because converting the concentrated energy in the gasoline that powers your Piper Cub into ever so slightly heating the entire Universe does not destroy that energy --- but it certainly ruins for all time its further usefulness for humanity.

 In fact, if that waste heat in the air helps heat up the entire atmosphere --- en route to the frozen reaches of the universe --- it is likely to ruin all of humanity as well.

Similarly, impact science is fundamental science while production science is but a half truth science derived from it.

Production science produces a machine which makes lots of widgets, very cheaply and profitably - apparently the end of story.

Impact science visits that once-successful widget machine cum factory in the town of Anywhereville Quebec and discovers that the factory is throwing off deadly pollution that is ever so slowly poisoning the employees at the widget factory. As a result, they are producing less widgets per hour.

It is this, not unfair competition from the Japanese, that is the real cause of the factory owner's declining profits.

Production science is about The Machine, Impact Science is about The Machine in the Garden, with both garden and machine complexly interacting with each other in unpredictable ways.

(Hat tip to Leo Marx for re-applying his famous meme!)

Deniers cum skeptics who deny change in geology, biology, climate and physics  still only see science in the simplistic terms and certitudes of production science.

Warmists accept that changes happens and happens unpredictably and are much less sanguine about our ability to correct our own mistakes in time to prevent real harm.

Climate deniers - I steadfastly affirm in the face of zillions of scientist-bloogers who argue to the contrary - do believe in Science.

But it is the older, out-dated, hubristic SkyGod science - not current earthling science .....

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