Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Panglossian NAIVETY of the climate denier cum skeptic

NAIVE denier cum skeptics
The Early-Victorian era may have ended over 150 years ago, but living fossils of its optimism, exuberance and naivety still beat on, inside the hearts of today's climate denier cum "skeptic" .Think of  today's deniers as  perfect clones of Voltaire's Doctor Pangloss (albeit as updated by Sir Charles Lyell).

In the 1830s, Lyell chose to modify Pangloss's famously naive philosophy.

It now read - in the light of Lyell's own even more optimistic theory of Uniformitarianism : "We live in the most average, the most normal, the most typical and representative of ages : our charmingly tasteful present is a roadmap back into the mists of the past and forward into those sunlit uplands of our future."

In the Lyellian cum deniers' minds , Man is endlessly progressing : ever upward, ever forward.

But the Universe ? The Universe, by way of total contrast, with all its inanimate but varying objects and all its animate, varying, beings, is in their minds but a passive backdrop.

 A crudely painted canvas drop , with only one actor allowed on stage : Man.

Reality, to a denier, is literally, "all about me". Selfish self-centeredness deified into a scientific philosophy and political ideology.

Libertarianism is the political wing of Uniformitarianism 

Libertarianism is Uniformitarianism is Libertarianism : a perfect circle, round and around a static, mildly oscillating , Universe.

Oh yes, the Universe, and our Earth : to the Lyellian denier, they do not progress  forward and upwards or backwards and downwards - in fact, do not radically move any which way.

Instead they merely oscillate, over a very narrow range, back on forth over a normal, typical, average, representative, mean : the mean of  present day values.

Local, temporary volcano up, local, temporary earthquake down neatly balancing each other : the perfect proof of the First law of Thermodynamics.

That Law, crudely and incorrectly stated, holds that Matter and Energy can not be created or destroyed but merely (and usefully for Man) changed into different forms of themselves, back and forth ; forever and ever Amen.

The early Victorian optimists and their 21st century kinfolk  viewed this law - erroneously - as the fundamental law of the universe.

But don't blame them too much ; instead blame our High School science teachers from the 19th , 20th and 21st century  for teaching that to them.

The true fundamental law of the universe, the one from which the First law of Thermodynamics is derived , is the Second law of Thermodynamics.

(First and Second refers to the time of their formulations : the First was formulated and popularized before the Second was realized to be the truly important one.)

The Second (in simple english) states that , statistically, all energy and matter becomes less and less useful to humanity with each use and eventually all energy and matter and life will be frozen dead at a temperature very near Absolute Zero.

So, in fact, the Universe and Life does have a direction and is constantly changing and that direction is more or less steadily downhill, albeit very slowly.

So, some of the heat from every time we burn even a small lump of coal eventually escapes the world's atmosphere and winds up heating, ever so ineffectually, some distant corner of the frozen Universe.

Probe a climate change denier skeptic or climate change believer warmist and you will find the concept of a steadily changing universe is their dividing line : both are people of either the First or the Second law.....

No comments:

Post a Comment