O Canada, what are you doing?

September 19, 2007

Our civilization’s addiction to oil is being displayed in all its nefarious glory in the tar sands of Canada. According to Chris Nelder:

What we have here is arguably the most environmentally destructive activity man has ever attempted, with a compliant government, insatiable demand, and an endless supply of capital turning it into “a speeding car with a gas pedal and no brakes.” It sucks down critical and rapidly diminishing amounts of both natural gas and water, paying neither for its consumption of natural capital nor its environmental destruction, to the utter detriment of its host. And all to eke out maybe a 10% profit, if it turns out that the books haven’t been cooked, and if the taxation structure remains a flat-out giveaway.

Greenpeace recently announced a new campaign against the tar sands, pointing out that “Tar sands produce five times more greenhouse gases than conventional oil, because they are energy-intensive, requiring huge amounts of natural gas to separate and process the bitumen.”

As I recently posted, processing tar sands leads to more pollution in the United States. Tar-sand oil production leads to more global warming, is being pursued because of peak oil, and continues the wholesale destruction of ecosystems, as Nelder enumerates:

 

Tar sands plants typically use two to four barrels of water to extract a barrel of oil … and after it’s been through the process, the water is toxic with contaminants, so it cannot be released into the environment. Some of it is reused, but vast amounts of it are pumped into enormous settlement ponds to be retained as toxic waste. These “ponds” are actually the largest bodies of water in the region — big enough to be seen from space — and some of the world’s largest man-made ponds overall, with miles of surface area. It may take 200 years for the smallest particles to settle down to the bottom of this toxic brew, which also contains very high levels of heavy metals and other health-threatening elements … With the tar sands currently producing at the rate of about 1 million barrels per day (mbpd), water levels in the river are already going down. Given such intense water demands, it’s completely unclear how production can be increased to the target of 4 mbpd by 2020.

The natural gas used is so unsustainable, oil companies are considering putting nukes on top of the tar sands:

Professor Kjell Aleklett of Uppsala University, a recognized expert on tar sands, puts it bluntly: “The supply of natural gas in North America is not adequate to support a future Canadian oil sands industry with today’s dependence on natural gas” … After gas, the next obvious choice is nuclear energy — building dozens of nuclear plants to generate the heat needed to create the steam needed to drive the hydrocarbons out of the sand.

So how do we end this addiction? Let me modestly propose three broad policy goals:

  1. Use less oil in vehicles, which obviously means higher mileage standards, but should also include a sufficient program of R&D and government purchases of electric vehicles. But we need something that can help reduce the number of miles driven, or else oil use will creep up over the years as people drive more, so:
  2. Radically increase funding for light rail, electrified rail freight, buses, and high-speed intercity rail;
  3. and now for something different — how about freezing construction of new highways, and instead using the money for R&D, public transit, and fixing the existing roads and collapsing bridges? The people organizing the recent fast against global warming called for a freeze on coal plant construction; to that demand we could add a call for a halt to new highway construction.

Between tar sands and other petroleum boondoggles on the one hand, and biofuels production on the other, we need to find ways to decrease the need for the use of fuel-based vehicles, for the sake of the planet and its people.

Jon Rynn

The evidence is in open view and plain to see, yet we continue to do things that are blatantly obviously damaging to our current situation.

The way to go forward with energy production is laid out in front of us. We have all the technology needed to produce green energy…… Yet we continue to pursue strategies like this.


Bush aide says warming man-made and other news.

September 17, 2007

The US chief scientist has told the BBC that climate change is now a fact.

[spoiler]

Professor John Marburger, who advises President Bush, said it was more than 90% certain that greenhouse gas emissions from mankind are to blame.

The Earth may become “unliveable” without cuts in CO2 output, he said, but he labelled targets for curbing temperature rise as “arbitrary”.

His comments come shortly before major meetings on climate change at the UN and the Washington White House.

There may still be some members of the White House team who are not completely convinced about climate change – but it is clear that the science advisor to the President and director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy is not one of them.

In the starkest warning from the White House so far about the dangers ahead, Professor Marburger told the BBC that climate change was unequivocal, with mankind more than 90% likely to blame.

Despite disagreement on the details of climate science, he said: “I think there is widespread agreement on certain basics, and one of the most important is that we are producing far more CO2 from fossil fuels than we ought to be. “And it’s going to lead to trouble unless we can begin to reduce the amount of fossil fuels we are burning and using in our economies.”

Trouble ahead

This is an explicit endorsement of the latest major review of climate science from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Professor Marburger said humanity would be in trouble if we did not stop increasing carbon emissions.

“The CO2 accumulates in the atmosphere and there’s no end point, it just gets hotter and hotter, and so at some point it becomes unliveable,” he said. Professor Marburger said he wished he could stop US emissions right away, but that was obviously not possible.

US backing for the scientific consensus was confirmed by President Bush’s top climate advisor, James Connaughton.

The chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality told BBC News that advancing technology was the best way to curb the warming trend.

“You only have two choices; you either have advanced technologies and get them into the marketplace, or you shut down your economies and put people out of work,” he said.

“I don’t know of any politician that favours shutting down economies.”

‘Arbitrary’ targets

Mr Bush has invited leaders of major developed and developing nations to the White House later this month for discussions on a future global direction on climate change.

It will follow a UN General Assembly session on the same issue.

Last week the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum in Sydney backed the UN climate convention as the right body for developing future global policy.

The European Union wants such a policy to adopt its own target of stabilising temperature rise at or below 2C.

But Mr Marburger said the state of the science made it difficult to justify any particular target.

“It’s not clear that we’ll be in a position to predict the future accurately enough to make policy confidently for a long time,” he said.

“I think 2C is rather arbitrary, and it’s not clear to me that the answer shouldn’t be 3C or more or less. It’s a hunch, a guess.”

The truth, he said, was that we just do not know what the ‘safe’ limit is.

Roger Harrabin
Environment analyst, BBC News

[/spoiler]

I wouldn’t be expecting Bush or the US to be making any big changes to their environmental and economic policies quite yet. He’s one species of monkey I don’t think needs saving. The epitome of short term thinking, if you can call it thinking.

Tuvalu about to disappear into the ocean

[spoiler]

SEOUL (Reuters) – The tiny Pacific island state of Tuvalu on Thursday urged the rest of the world to do more to combat global warming before it sinks beneath the ocean.

The group of atolls and reefs, home to some 10,000 people, is barely two meters on average above sea-level and one study predicted at the current rate the ocean is rising could disappear in the next 30 to 50 years.
“We keep thinking that the time will never come. The alternative is to turn ourselves into fish and live under water,” Tuvalu Deputy Prime Tavau Teii told Reuters in the South Korean capital where he was attending a conference on the environment.

“All countries must make an effort to reduce their emissions before it is too late for countries like Tuvalu,” he said, calling the country one of the most vulnerable in the world to man-made climate change.

He reeled off a list of threats to the country, one of whose few export earnings comes from its Internet country suffix which it can sell to anyone wanting their Website site to end with .tv.

Coral reefs are being damaged by the warming ocean and so threatening fish stocks — the main source of protein.

The sea is increasingly invading underground fresh water supplies, creating problems for farmers, while drought constantly threatened to limit drinking water.

Annual spring tides appear to be getting higher each year, eroding the coastline. As the coral reefs die, that protection goes and the risk only increases.

And the mounting ferocity of cyclones from a warmer ocean also brought greater risks, he said, noting another island state in the area had been buffeted by waves three years ago that crashed over its 30 meter cliffs.

“We’ll try and maintain our own way of living on the island as long as we can. If the time comes we should leave the islands, there is no other choice but to leave.”

Teii said his government had received indications from New Zealand it was prepared to take in people from the islands. About 2,000 of its population already live there.

But Australia, the other major economy in the region, had only given vague commitments.

“Australia was very reluctant to make a commitment even though they have been approached in a diplomatic way.”

Reuters

[/spoiler]

For some people the reality of climate change is very real. People sit in there homes thinking a lot of things about climate change. Most think it’s terrible but that it is never going to affect me. Well maybe it won’t directly at this moment in time, but in the near future it will affect our generations to come. And for some unfortunate people the time has come when there is no time to stop and think ‘thats terrible’ because the effects are already hitting them hard.

Global warming impact like “nuclear war”: report

[spoiler]

LONDON (Reuters) – Climate change could have global security implications on a par with nuclear war unless urgent action is taken, a report said on Wednesday.
The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) security think-tank said global warming would hit crop yields and water availability everywhere, causing great human suffering and leading to regional strife.
While everyone had now started to recognize the threat posed by climate change, no one was taking effective leadership to tackle it and no one could tell precisely when and where it would hit hardest, it added.
“The most recent international moves towards combating global warming represent a recognition … that if the emission of greenhouse gases … is allowed to continue unchecked, the effects will be catastrophic — on the level of nuclear war,” the IISS report said.
“Even if the international community succeeds in adopting comprehensive and effective measures to mitigate climate change, there will still be unavoidable impacts from global warming on the environment, economies and human security,” it added.

Scientists say global average temperatures will rise by between 1.8 and 4.0 degrees Celsius this century due to burning fossil fuels for power and transport.
The IISS report said the effects would cause a host of problems including rising sea levels, forced migration, freak storms, droughts, floods, extinctions, wildfires, disease epidemics, crop failures and famines.
The impact was already being felt — particularly in conflicts in Kenya and Sudan — and more was expected in places from Asia to Latin America as dwindling resources led to competition between haves and have nots.
“We can all see that climate change is a threat to global security, and you can judge some of the more obvious causes and areas,” said IISS transnational threat specialist Nigel Inkster. “What is much harder to do is see how to cope with them.”
The report, an annual survey of the impact of world events on global security, said conflicts and state collapses due to climate change would reduce the world’s ability to tackle the causes and to reduce the effects of global warming.
State failures would increase the gap between rich and poor and heighten racial and ethnic tensions which in turn would produce fertile breeding grounds for more conflict.
Urban areas would not be exempt from the fallout as falling crop yields due to reduced water and rising temperatures would push food prices higher, IISS said.
Overall, it said 65 countries were likely to lose over 15 percent of their agricultural output by 2100 at a time when the world’s population was expected to head from six billion now to nine billion people.
“Fundamental environmental issues of food, water and energy security ultimately lie behind many present security concerns, and climate change will magnify all three,” it added.

Jeremy Lovell -Reuters

[/spoiler]

A pretty stark accessment. Sometimes it baffles me how complacent people really are. I remember reading an article a few months ago about the misconception that scientists weren’t in agreement about the fact that global warming is real and that man is causing it. The article put that to bed quite easily by pointing out that the only articles in the past 20 years not to agree were ones sponsored by companies with something to gain by denying it. Out of every single non biased report and article written every single one agreed with the above statement. Seems pretty straight forward to me.

Eating Less Meat May Slow Climate Change

[spoiler]

LONDON (AP) — Eating less meat could help slow global warming by reducing the number of livestock and thereby decreasing the amount of methane flatulence from the animals, scientists said on Thursday.

In a special energy and health series of the medical journal The Lancet, experts said people should eat fewer steaks and hamburgers. Reducing global red meat consumption by 10 percent, they said, would cut the gases emitted by cows, sheep and goats that contribute to global warming.

“We are at a significant tipping point,” said Geri Brewster, a nutritionist at Northern Westchester Hospital in New York, who was not connected to the study.

“If people knew that they were threatening the environment by eating more meat, they might think twice before ordering a burger,” Brewster said.

Other ways of reducing greenhouse gases from farming practices, like feeding animals higher-quality grains, would only have a limited impact on cutting emissions. Gases from animals destined for dinner plates account for nearly a quarter of all emissions worldwide.

“That leaves reducing demand for meat as the only real option,” said Dr. John Powles, a public health expert at Cambridge University, one of the study’s authors.

The amount of meat eaten varies considerably worldwide. In developed countries, people typically eat about 224 grams per day. But in Africa, most people only get about 31 grams a day.

With demand for meat increasing worldwide, experts worry that this increased livestock production will mean more gases like methane and nitrous oxide heating up the atmosphere. In China, for instance, people are eating double the amount of meat they used to a decade ago.

Powles said that if the global average were 90 grams per day, that would prevent the levels of gases from speeding up climate change.

Eating less red meat would also improve health in general. Powles and his co-authors estimate that reducing meat consumption would reduce the numbers of people with heart disease and cancer. One study has estimated that the risk of colorectal cancer drops by about a third for every 100 grams of red meat that is cut out of your diet.

“As a society, we are overconsuming protein,” Brewster said. “If we ate less red meat, it would also help stop the obesity epidemic.”

Experts said that it would probably take decades to wane the public off of its meat-eating tendency. “We need to better understand the implications of our diet,” said Dr. Maria Neira, director of director of the World Health Organization’s department of public health and the environment.

“It is an interesting theory that needs to be further examined,” she said. “But eating less meat could definitely be one way to reduce gas emissions and climate change.”

Associated Press

[/spoiler]

There are some people out there who think the fact that animal waste products such as methane contribute to the greenhouse effect is just plain stupid. It can even strike them as humourous. Methane is more than x20 more effective as a green house gas than CO2 and farmed animals produce a lot of it.  Couple that with the fact that we have many times the population of farmed cattle on the planet as humans and things begin to add up.  “Gases from animals destined for dinner plates account for nearly a quarter of all emissions worldwide”.  There are plenty of scientific studies out and published on the subject.



Where Did The Universe Come From?

September 8, 2007

And so I begin a little bit on one of my pet interests. Philosophy. I will include more of these from time to time. The next will be my favourite. Does God Exist? Well, that’s for another time. On with the show…..

About twelve billion years ago an unimaginably violent explosion occured. Expanding outwards at incredible speed, this cataclysmic blast gave birth to space, energy, matter and indeed time itself. The universe we see around us is the debris from this Big Bang.

But why did the Big Bang happen? What brought the universe into existance? What lies on the other side of the Big Bang?

What Caused the Big Bang

The scene: Mathers, a theologian, and Figgerson, a physicist, are fellows of one of the grander Oxford colleges. Both love to engage in philosophical disputes. They have just sat down to dinner at High Table.

Figgerson: What philosophical mystery shall we discuss this evening?

Mathers: I have been thinking about the origin of the universe. Could we perhaps discuss that?

Figgerson: Why not? Except there’s little mystery there. We scientists have solved that particular conundrum. Ican tell you that tthe universe began about twelve thousand million years ago. It started with what we call the Big Bang, a colossal explosion in which space, energy, matter and time itself began.

Mathers: That’s no doubt true. But you’re wrong to suggest that there’s no mystery. We know the Big Bang happened. My question to you is: why did it happen?

Figgerson: I’m not sure I follow.

Mathers: What I mean is: what caused the universe to exist? Where did it come from? Why is it here? Indeed, why is there anything at all?

Figgerson: Why, as it were, is there sonething, rather than nothing?

Mathers: Yes. That surely is a mystery.

Did God Cause the Big Bang?

The puzzle Mathers raises is perhaps the deepest and most profound mystery of all. The traditional solution is to appeal to the existance of God, which is precisely what Mathers now suggests.

Mathers: It seems to me that there is conly one possible solution. God. God must have caused the Universe to exist.

Figgerson: Ah, God. I wondered how long it would be before you brought God into the conversation.

Mathers: But surely we must introduce God at this point? Look, when we entered this dining room we found two chairs here. Now, it would be absurd – would it not? – to suppose that these two chairs just popped into existance for no reason at all? The existance of these chairs must surely have had a cause. Don’t you agree?

Figgerson: Yes

Mathers: Similarly with the universe, then. It just isn’t plausible that it popped into existance for no reason. It, too, must have a cause. But then God must exist as the cause of the universe.

Let’s call Mathers’ argument the cause argument. It’s an example of what is commonly known as a cosmological argument. Cosmological arguments begin with two observations:that the universe exists and that events and entities we find around us always turn out ti have a cause or explanation. The arguments then conclude that the universe must also have a cause or explanation and that God is the only possible (or at least the most likely) candidate.

What Caused God?

The cause argument certainly has some prima appeal. It’s associated particulaly with the thirteenth-century philosopher and theologian St Thomas Aquinas (1225-74). Aquinas constructed five arguments for the existance of God, of which the cause argument is the second. Unfortunately, the argument is flawed. Figgerson explains why.

Figgerson: I’m unconvinced. As you know, I don’t believe in God. But let’s suppose for the sake of argument that God does exist. Your appeal to Him as the explanation of the exisatance of the universe still ultimately fails to remove the mystery with which we began.

Mathers: I don’t see why.

Figgerson: Well, then, let me ask you what caused God to exist? You say that it’s absurd to suppose that something might come into existance uncaused. As you said about the chairs, they cannot have just popped into existance for no reason. But then it follows that God’s existance also requires a cause.

Mathers: Well, God is the exception to the rule that everything requires a cause. God is the supreme being to which rules that govern other things do not apply. The existance of the universe requires a cause. The existance of God does not.

Figgerson: But if you’re going to make an exception to the rule that everything has a cause, why not make the universe the exception? Why do you posit the existance of a further entity – God – in addition to the universe?

Mather: I’m not sure I follow.

Figgerson: You argue that everything has a cause. Then you make God the exception to this rule. But why not make the Big Bang the exception to the rule? What reason have you given me to add God to the beginning of this chain of causes as an extra link? You have given me none. But then you have given me no reason at all to suppose that God exists.

As Figgerson points out, the most obvious flaw in the cause argument – a flaw also pointed out by the philosopher David Hume (1711-76) – is that it involves a contradiction. The argument begins with the premise that everything has a cause, but is then contradicted by the claim that God does not have a cause. If we must posit a God as the cause of the universe, then it seems we must also posit a second God as the cause of the first God, and a third God as the cause of the second, and so on ad infinitum. So we shall have to accept that there are an infinate number of Gods. Either that or we must stop with a cause that itself has no independant cause. But if we must stop somewhere, why not stop with the Big Bang itself? What reason is there to introduce even one God?

Of course, some might be willing to accept and infinite chain of Gods. But such a chain still wouldn’t remove the mystery with which we began. For then the question would arise: why is there such an infinite chain of Gods, rather than no chain?

Here’s an analogously bad causal explanation. When struck by the question of what holds up the earth, some people posited a great creature – an elephant – as its support.

But then the question arises: if the earth is held up by an elephant, then what holds up the elephant? A second creature – a vast turtle – was then introduced to hold up the elephant. These people decided to stop with the turtle. But why stop there? For, of course, the question with which they are grappling – the question of why anything at all gets held up – has still not been answered. In fact, if we pursue their reasoning to it’s logical conclusion, the earth will end up perched on top of a huge tower of creatures – an infinite number of creatures – stacked up one on top of the other.

But they didnt do this. They stopped with the turtle. But if it’s claimed that the turtle requires no support, then why not just say that the earth requires no support and leave it at that? What reason is there to introduce any supporting creatures at all? There is none.

Despite being a poor argument, the cause argument has always been popular. In fact, when asked to give some reason why they suppose that God exists, the cause argument is the one to which those who believe in God often first appeal. The question of what brought God into existance is simply overlooked.

What’s North of the North Pole?

Figgerson and Mathers continue to argue, each becoming more and more infuriated with each other. Eventually, to Mathers’s intense annoyance, Figgerson suggests that Mathers original question – what caused the universe? – may not even make sense.

Figgerson: Look, while it may make sense to ask what caused this chair, that mountain or this tree to exist, it surely does not make sense to ask what caused the universe as a whole to exist.

Mathers: H’m. You suggest my question does not make sense. But what reason do you have to suppose that it doesn’t make sense? Justify your suggestion.

Figgerson: Very well. It seems to me that to ask for the cause of something is to ask what other thing within the universe brought it about. That is how the game of asking for and giving causes is played out. When I ask, for example, what caused that tree outside the window to exist, I am asking for you to identify some other thing or event within the universe that brought that tree into existance. Someone might have planted an acorn in that spot, for example, or someone might have moved a tree there to improve the view from this window. But if to ask for the cause of something is to ask what other thing within the universe brought it about, then it cannot make sense to ask what is the cause of the universe as a whole. That would be to persue the question of causes outside the context in which such questions can meaningfully be raised.

Mathers: I’m not sure I follow.

Figgerson: Very well. Let me explain by means of an analogy. Suppose I ask you what is north of England. What would you say?

Mathers: Scotland.

Figgerson: And what lies to the north of Scotland?

Mathers: Iceland.

Figgerson: And to the north of Iceland?

Mathers: The Arctic Circle.

Figgerson: And to the north of the Arctic Circle?

Mathers: The North Pole.

Figgerson: And what lies to the north of the North Pole?

Mathers: Er. What do you mean?

Figgerson: If there is something north of Englan, and something north of Scotland, and something north of Iceland, then surely there must be something to the north of the North Pole too?

Mathers: You’re confused. Don’t you understand that ‘north’ means? Your question doesnt make sense. It doesn’t make sense to talk about something being north of the North Pole. To say something is north of something else is to say that it is nearer to the North Pole than that other thing. But then it can’t make sense to talk about something being north of the North Pole, can it?

Figgerson: Aha. So my question doesn’t make sense. Well, the, neither does your question about the cause of the universe.

Mathers: How so?

Figgerson: One can ask what is the cause of an earthquake. One can then ask for the cause of the cause of the earthquake and so on. One can trace the chain of causes back to the Big Bang if one likes. But it makes no sense than to ask: and what caused the Big Bang? That is like asking: and what is north of the North Pole? That would be to ask a question outside the context within which such questions can meaningfully be rasied.

Still, as Mathers points out, his question about the origin of the universe does at least appear to be cogent.

Mathers: But my question does seem to make sense, doesn’t it? And it seems to me that you haven;t actually shown that the question about causes cannot legitimately be raised about the universe itself.

Figgerson: Why not?

Mathers: You seem to argue that if we don’t normallyask a question outside a certain context, then it cannot meaningfully be raised outside that context. But your argument is fallicious. Here’s a counterexample. It seems probable, I think, that for long periods of our history mankind considered only practical questions, questions the answers it would be useful for us to know. For example, no doubt we wanted to know what causes plants to grow, what causes the seasons to come and go, what causes storms and diseases, and so on. we wanted to know the causes of these things because they affect our day-to-day lives. Probably we weren’t interested in asking questions that didn’t have any practical relevance for us. For example, perhaps we didn’t bother asking ourselves what causes the sky to be blue. But it doesn;y follow that if we didn’t normally ask such impractical questions, then such questions, if they had never been asked, would have made no sense. Surely, evn if we never did ask ourselves what causes the sky to be blue, we might have done, and, if we had, our question would certainly have made sense.

Figgerson: I suppose it would.

Mathers: Thank youfor that admission. But then why do you suppose that it makes no sense to ask what caused the universe? Just because we don’t normally ask this question doesn’t mean that it is senseless. In fact, it seems perfectly clear to me that, unlike your question about what is to the north of the North Pole, my question does make sense, even if it is difficult to see how it might be answered.

Figgerson: H’m. Perhaps your question does make sense.

Mathers: Aha! In that case, what I want to know is this: if God did not cause the universe to exist, then what did?

The Unsolvable Mystery

Figgerson stares wistfully into his spotted dick and custard. Then he gazes out over the heads of the assembled undergraduates eating below.

Figgerson: Perhaps nothing caused the universe to exist. Perhaps its existance is simply a brute fact. After all, we physicists are inclined to accept that some things are just brute fact and inexplicable. Often we explain, why one law holds by appealing to others. One can explain, for example, the law that water freezes at zero degrees Celsius by appealing to the laws that govern the atoms and molecules out of which water is composed. But few suppose that this process can go on for ever. Presumably one must eventually come up against laws that cannot be accounted for or explained in terms of yet other laws. The obtaining of these basic laws is just a brute fact. And if we are to allow that there are at least some brute facts, then why not suppose that the existance of the universe is also a brute fact, a fact that requires neither a further cause nor an explanation? Why suppose that it, too, must also have a cause, an explanation?

Mathers: It seems to me that the existance of the universe cannot be a brute fact, as you suggest. It isn’t plausable to suppose that the universe popped in existance for no reason. The Big Bang didn’t just happen surely? There must be a reason why it happened.

Figgerson closely examines his pudding as if searching for an answer. He watches as the spotted dick crumbles into the custard, the currents swirling slowly outwards like the stars in some huge pudding galaxy.

Figgerson furrows his brow. He hates to admit it, but Mathers does appear to be right.

Figgerson: I must say, I do feel confused. I agree that it doesn’t seem to be adwquate to say that the Big Bang happened for no reason at all. And yet it seems we can say nothing else. Why is there something, rather than nothing?

Mathers: The answer is God.

Figgerson: But that answer will not do, as we have already seen.

Mathers: So what does explain the existance of the universe, if not God?

Figgerson: That’s a mystery.

Conclusion

It seems that when it comes to the question what is the ultimate cause or origin of the universe ? there are four options available to us. These are to:

  • Answer the question by identifying a cause of the universe.
  • Claim that, though the universe has a cause, we cannot or at least do not yet know what the this cause is.
  • Claim that perhaps the universe has no cause – it’s existance is simply a brute fact.
  • Deny the question even makes sense.

The problem is that on closer examination none of these four options seems satisfactory. The difficulty with the first option is that as soon as one offers God or indeed something else as the cause or explanation of the universe, the ‘something’ to which one appeals in turn becomes the focus of the demand far a cause or explanation. So it seems that the first kind of answer can never be adequete. Rather than answering the question about ultimate origins, we merely sweep it under the carpet. The difficulty with the second option is, again, that if one suggests that the universe has an as yet unknown cause, the question the arises: and what is the cause of that unkown cause? So the mystery is merely postponed. The claim that the universe simply has no cause, on the other hand, also seems unsatisfactory – is it really plausable to suppose that the universe simply popped into existance for no reason at all? Surely not. And yet the fourth and final option seems equally implausable – certainly, no one has yet succeeded in providing an uncontroversial explanation of why the question about the cause of the universe makes no sense.

So it seems that, while no explanation can be acceptable, yet neither can the question of the ultimate origin of the universe simply be set aside or dismissed. Which is why this particular philosophical mystery remains so perplexing. It appears that the question of the ultimate origin of the universe is a mystery that can be neither explained nor explained away.

Source


Success and a Port

July 4, 2007

Well, thats a second meal to be added to the keepers list.

The hearts complimented the olives. I love the bitter but not taste. The main thing is I’m stuffed again on the vegan stuff. Literally my tummy is sticking out :/

Had another good convo in a irc channel I don’t usually frequent. It was spoiled however by a bit of a cock. I would post the convo here but it has lots of trigger stuff in it which i cant be bothered to edit. I did somehow manage to come out having seemed to have taken the moral high ground, which is strange as I not really that moral at all. Oh yeah, here is my ported #radio leaving thingy:

:,( Bye Bye

July 1st, 2007

Good evening all.
I have decided to resign from radio. This is for a number of reasons. Although I have been with radio since the start, near enough, I don’t feel that it is moving in the right direction anymore. In fact I dont think it is moving in any direction.
Sadly all the bad feeling between DJ’s bubbles under the surface without being dealt with, there is no need to name names as it’s pretty clear to most. So lets leave that at that.

The effort just isnt there anymore, and it takes more than a couple of chatters/dj’s to fix it. I’m sick of watching Dj’s chat away quite happily on other servers and in other rooms in plain view while the room stagnates.
To be honest, I have better things to do with my time, even if they are at the computer. We have had gapping holes in the schedule for months and nothing happens. We have gapping holes in chat and nothing happens. There is no energy, things will trundle on, and if it wasnt for the fact that we are on the frostwire network which means chatters/listeners tend to appear without effort, then the radio i know would fade away.
Yes radio is a fun place to be, where people and dj’s should just come to unwind, but as with all things in life, there does need to be a small amount of effort put in, outside of turning up to DJ and the small monies involved that is, and I challenge anyone to show me that effort.

More and more lately I have found myself drifting off from really caring about what happens and I find that sad, as I have put a huge amount of my time into radio over the years, literally years. I don’t see the need to list things, if you know you know. When I first started in radio there was always ‘lets do this to get listeners’, or ‘lets do that’. I don’t see it anymore. I like things to be dynamic, when i turn up day in day out and nothing is going on it bores me. When I watch the politics, it bores me. When something bores you so much and so often its kinda time to take stock.

I love Djing, because I like playing the tunes I like and i like the social interaction. But I hate turning up to an empty channel, and seeing parts and joins with no chat because nobody can be bothered to drive the room. I don’t like the fact it takes me half an hour to get a decent chat going and mostly I hate the fact that noone does anything about it. Who gives a shit about time differences. I stayed up nights so we had a live Dj in the old days, I’m not saying I’m anything special, but jesus, if you are chatting on irc, make the effort in #radio, and don’t tell me you all go to bed as your time zone dictates. I did try to make an effort, but got slapped down for it without being slapped down for it, basically. Whatever happened, the message was loud and clear.
Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of DJ’s that I admire, I wish I could be half as good as them, but that isn’t really the point I have been trying to make.

I guess I can sum it all up like this:
I’m bored, and I don’t see anything changing anytime soon because the will isnt there. New challenges await in my life and I’m not keen on sitting in front of the computer frustrated and pissed off, because thats what radio does to me a lot of the time these days. I have left once before and returned, so never say never, but for now, its so long and goodbye!

PS, you are all ugly.

PPS, I’m gonna do my set on Sunday, my last hurrah!

Comments:

2 Responses to “:,( Bye Bye”

  1. nursenikki Says:
    July 1st, 2007 at 3:09 am Sad to see you go my dear Lord PoeticJaffaCake… you are a top DJ, one of my favorites ) Understand your reasoning though, so I hold nothing against you for your decision. With your talent I’m sure you can make it at whatever you decide to do later on ;)
    You’ve been one of the major reasons radio has meant so much to me, tune to you and for sure I won’t be bored P
    Heck, I wouldn’t even be djing if it wasn’t for you P
    Personally, you’ve gave me great advice and made me feel better about things on many occasions… you truely are a good person and I wish you the best on anything and everything your future may bring )
    Take care buddy )
    Hugs and kisses,
    Nikki
  2. dynamiqu3 Says:
    July 2nd, 2007 at 1:46 pm Sorry to see you go, if there was anything i could say to change your mind i would.I will miss your sets and the fun, but we will catch up in chat i am sure.Thankyou for your help when i needed it and for your politness to me.
    Best wishes and Good Luck with any future projects you take on.Also good luck with CJ.hugs dynamiqu3 ) xx
  3. Anon Says:
    July 4th, 2007 at 8:33 pm e

    […] :,( Bye Bye […]

Thanks for those guys btw, they mean a lot. I hope you read here!

 

‘Drinking makes such fools of people, and people are such fools to begin with, that it’s compounding a felony.’
– Robert Benchley


Vegan

July 2, 2007

I decided last week to do the vegetarian thing, and it went fine but i found it way too easy.  So vegan it is.

Basically I wanted to challenge myself in a different way than I have done in the past.  I don’t have any moral or ethical reason for doing this, though I have to admit the more I read about it the more sense it makes.  Plus the food recipes I have been looking at all sound pretty tastey, my only limitation is haricot beans which I can’t eat due to an allergy.

Some of the things i have read like:

The Healthiest Diet of All

Vegetarians are healthier than meat eaters and live years longer than the general population. No argument, no dispute – these are the simple facts – although you’d be excused for having doubts if you rely on the daily press for your health info.

The better health statistics for vegetarians and vegans aren’t peripheral – a percentage point advantage here or there – but are quite profound. The usual argument put forward to explain these dramatic improvements in health – often by doctors with no nutritional training or by those with a vested interest in the meat industry – is that veggies are puritanical, non-drinking, non-smoking, self-denying, hair-shirt-wearing bores so no wonder they live longer. And who wants to be like that?!

Of course, all good scientific research makes allowances for the differences in people’s life-styles and only compares like with like. And it is this solid, reputable science that will be quoted throughout this guide, much of it obtained from the world’s most authoritative and prestigious health advisory bodies.

Why is diet so important? Well, if you live an average life span of about 72 years, you will scoff your way through an astonishing 30 tonnes of food. It’s the fuel that keeps you going and it’s the nutrients in food that make you what you are. Your heart beats on them, your muscles, kidneys and liver depend upon them. Food keeps you warm, repairs the bits of damage that inevitably occur and it even helps you think. Pretty important stuff is food – but not just any old food.

If you were to eat the same diet as a cat – lots of meat and dairy products and no fresh fruit and veg – you would die and probably quite quickly. Similarly, a cat would be unable to survive on the average vegetarian diet. The reason for the difference is that after millions of years of evolution, all animals have adapted to particular diets and environments. Meat contains no vitamin C so cats have the ability to synthesise it internally. We, on the other hand, are higher apes and have evolved to eat fresh fruit and vegetables, shoots, seeds, nuts and leaves – a diet rich in vitamin C – on a daily basis. Throughout our evolution there was an abundant supply of vitamin C in virtually everything we ate so our bodies have never had to manufacture it.

Those humans who lived in societies that relied heavily on animal products have paid a  high price for it. The Inuit (sometimes referred to as Eskimos) traditionally relied largely on meat and fish, obtaining their vitamin C from mosses in the stomachs of dead animals. They rarely lived beyond their early 30s. One major cause of death was bleeding of the brain – cerebral haemorrhage. One possible cause of this is the thinning of the blood – a well known property of fish oils (137).

“But chimps eat meat,” is the usual cry. Chimps’ eating habits have been closely studied over many years and the amount of meat they eat is minuscule – about the size of half-a-pea a day, mostly made up of insects. So little do they eat that their hands and nails, teeth and digestive tract are those of a strictly vegetarian – vegan – animal.

The genetic difference between a chimp and a human is only just over one per cent (138). They are our closest living relative; so close that we share the same haemoglobin (found in our red blood cells). Our digestive tract, hands and teeth are also very similar. Some people claim our teeth are those of a carnivore, which is obvious nonsense and a quick look inside the mouth of a cat or dog will show you why. Our teeth, with their predominantly flat surfaces, are designed to grind and crush tough vegetable matter and are incapable of eating meat unless it’s cooked first. And we haven’t got the canines of a killer – we’d all look like Dracula if we had! Human teeth are not designed for holding or killing prey and they certainly couldn’t bite through the hide of a cow, sheep or pig!

Why does all this matter? Because sensible eating is about distinguishing between healthy and potentially unhealthy foods – for us! Take cats, for instance. No matter how much meat they eat, no matter how fatty it is, their arteries don’t clog up. Ours, on the other hand, do and the damage can start as young as two or three years old. The result is high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes later in life. One in five men and one in six women die from coronary heart disease in the UK – the single most common cause of death. The risks factors for heart disease are almost all diet related – caused by animal products. And some people still claim we’re meant to eat meat!

Professor T. Colin Campbell, of Cornell University, organised a massive piece of dietary research called the China Health Study (see later) – one of the most important ever undertaken. When its findings were published he said: “We’re basically a vegetarian species and should be eating a wide variety of plant foods and minimising our intake of animal foods. Animal foods are not helpful and we need to get away from eating them.” (1)

It seems to make a lot of sense to me.  As does:

The Official Position

The world’s most important health advisory bodies are now in agreement – a balanced vegetarian diet can be one of the healthiest possible. And it seems the fewer animal products it contains such as milk and cheese, the healthier it is. In other words, the closer it is to being vegan, the healthier it becomes. These are some of the health statements that have been made over the past few years. We will expand on each of the terms used later in the guide.

1. The British Medical Association

The BMA was one of the first to distil the growing volume of research on diet and health in its 1986 report (2). It said:

“Vegetarians have lower rates of obesity, coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, large bowel disorders, cancers and gallstones. Cholesterol levels tend to be lower in vegetarians.”

It went on to say that when meat eaters change to a vegetarian diet it can actually lower their cholesterol levels. It concluded by saying that vegetarians obtain all the minerals they need, that folate levels are higher and as a consequence it is a diet suitable for infants.

2. The China Health Study

The initial results of this combined Chinese-British-American study, which began in 1983, were announced in 1989 (3). It was a massive piece of work which looked at the health and eating habits of 6,500 real people in real life situations. Its conclusions were accurately summed up in a New York Times headline on 8 May, 1990: “Huge Study of Diet Indicts Fat and Meat”. In short, it found that the greatest single influence on the growth of degenerative diseases such as coronary heart disease, cancer and diabetes was the amount of animal fat and animal protein eaten – the more you eat, the greater your risk. It highlighted some extraordinary dietary differences between affluent and not so affluent societies. For example, Chinese people are long living yet eat one-third less protein than Americans and only seven per cent of it comes from animal foods compared to Americans’ 70 per cent. Past dietary advice would probably have cheered this as a good thing but the study found the opposite. ‘Animal protein itself raises the risks of cancer and heart disease.’
These are the two biggest killers in the West but there are others, such as diabetes, strokes, obesity and high blood pressure, which are clearly associated with the West’s affluent lifestyle. They are referred to by the general name of degenerative diseases and the China Health Study found that they increased alarmingly as people changed from a more simple, predominantly vegetarian or vegan diet, to a Western diet obsessed with meat and dairy products.

The study also found that the West’s preoccupation with promoting meat as the best source of iron was wrong. The Chinese diet was predominantly vegetarian and yet adults consumed twice as much iron as an American adult. The Chinese diet also contained three times more fibre than a US diet but there was no evidence that these high levels interfered with absorption of iron or other essential minerals.

The conclusions were unequivocal – that a plant-based diet is more likely to promote good health and reduce the risk of degenerative diseases.

3. The World Health Organisation (WHO)

Next came an even more detailed report from the WHO in 1991. It was interpreted by The Daily Mail newspaper as a call for the world to go vegetarian – stating forthrightly that a diet rich in animal products promotes heart disease, cancer and several other diseases. It confirmed the BMA’s and China Health Study’s list of degenerative diseases and added others – diabetes, strokes and osteoporosis. And it also flagged up kidney impairment with high protein, meat-rich diets.

It said that diets associated with increases in chronic diseases are those rich in sugar, meat and other animal products, saturated fat and dietary cholesterol and added: “If such trends continue, the end of [the 20th] century will see cardiovascular (heart) disease and cancer established as major health problems in every country in the world.” And, of course, its predictions have been proved correct.
But it went even further and condemned the years of public urgings by governments to eat animal products. It went on to say that in future: “Policies should be geared to the growing of plant foods, including vegetables and fruits, and to limiting the promotion of fat containing products.” If anything, the opposite has happened.

The large quantities of cheap meat, which have adversely affected health, are only available because of intensive, factory farming and the WHO also had plenty to say about that:

“Farming policies which do not rely on intensive animal production systems would reduce the world demand for cereals. Use of land could be reappraised since cereal consumption by the population is much more efficient and cheaper than dedicating large areas to growing feed for meat production and dairying.” That advice has also been ignored.

In fact, as development takes place in previously undeveloped countries there is a shift towards a more affluent diet, the report says. As a consequence, there is a dramatic increase in the incidence of diet-related diseases.

April 2003 saw the long awaited publication of the update to this 1991 WHO report. If you analyse the 2003 version it takes the same overall view as the previous report. It shows that the worldwide dietary trend towards high saturated fat and refined carbohydrate foods, together with sedentary lifestyles are the principal causes of degenerative diseases such as heart disease and obesity.

However the championing of plant-based diets as the way forward for health – which dominated the first report – has been much watered down. It is now common knowledge that the food industry has infiltrated the WHO since its 1991 report. It would be naïve not to suspect that the meat and dairy industry, which exerts such enormous political and economical clout, has not also been at work behind the scenes of this 2003 WHO report (10).

4. The EPIC Study

In 1992 the largest ever study of diet and health was initiated – the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition – EPIC for short. More than half a million people have been studied in 10 European countries, including the UK. EPIC is what is known as a prospective study where the diets of recruits are recorded and their health is tracked over the coming years to try and establish any links with the foods eaten and subsequent health outcomes. There are two EPIC centres in the UK, at Oxford and Cambridge Universities. EPIC-Oxford includes a total of around 65,000 participants of whom around half do not consume meat, and around 2,500 are vegans. On-going analysis of the results from EPIC studies continue to provide insights into what foods protect health and what foods are harmful to health.

What is clear so far is that non-meat diets tend to reduce blood pressure levels, reduce cholesterol levels and reduce the incidence of obesity. Not surprisingly given these reductions in risk factors for heart disease, vegetarians die less from heart disease than comparable meat eaters. EPIC studies have also confirmed the importance of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables as protection against the risk of an early death (139, 140). Preliminary results on the link between meat consumption and colorectal cancer suggest that frequent consumption of red meat such as beef, veal, pork and lamb is associated with a 20-40 per cent increase in colorectal cancer risk (36).

5. Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM)

In 1995 the PCRM – a highly-respected US body which numbers the late Dr Benjamin Spock and William Roberts, editor of the American Journal of Cardiology, amongst its 5,000 doctors and scientists – issued a report to the US government (6). It confirmed the lower rate of disease amongst vegetarians and urged the government to recommend a vegetarian diet to US citizens. Until then, the US Dietary Guidelines had never made any mention of vegetarianism. The following year they did so for the first time and the section began:

“…vegetarians enjoy excellent health: Vegetarian diets are consistent with the Dietary Guidelines and can meet the Recommended Daily Allowances for nutrients. Protein is not limited in vegetarian diets …” (7).

The PCRM report reviewed over 100 pieces of published work from across the world and was in no doubt about what we should be eating: “The scientific literature clearly supports the use of vegetables, fruits, legumes (peas, beans, chick peas – pulses) and grains as staples. Meats, dairy products and added vegetable oils should be considered optional.” It was another clear and unequivocal statement, backed by unimpeachable science, that humans do not need to eat meat and are healthier for not doing so.

6. American Dietetic Association (ADA)

The ADA is probably one of the most respected health bodies in the world and in its most recent report on vegetarianism, has thrown its weight firmly behind meat-free diets, saying they are effective in avoiding or even curing some of the world’s most deadly diseases. Heart disease, strokes, some cancers and diabetes can all be effectively treated by prescribing a vegetarian diet, it says.

The ADA spells out the reason for this by saying that vegetarian diets offer disease protection benefits because of their lower saturated fat and cholesterol content as well as their higher fibre intakes. The ADA also make clear the fact that vegetarian diets can provide all the vitamins, minerals, protein and energy the body needs and provide for all stages of the life cycle including pregnancy and infancy (8).

I can’t really fault any of that, and I do like a new challenge.  I’m going to print out a list of recipes over the next few days so I can sample what my new diet has to offer.  (No nut roasts though, I learned that the hard way tonight heh)

I don’t really know how long I’ll continue with this but, as with everything, time will tell.

These are some of the things I intend to sample: Menu 

Right, if you managed to read all that I salute you!

“I was dead for billions of years before I was born, and it never inconvenienced me in the slightest”

Mark Twain

“Subdue your appetites, my dears, and you’ve conquered human nature.”

Charles Dickens (1812 – 1870)


Loss

December 21, 2006

We all deal with it in different ways. Some people I know can cry and cry and cry, and anything that reminds them of the event and they can cry years after.

I’m different, I very rarely show my emotions. When I lose someone I dont cry. I don’t show anything at all. Everything is locked and swallowed deep, it goes so deep even I dont know where to find the emotions for certain events anymore. They will never surface when I dont expect them, I suppose they might as well never have happened. I don’t know if thats a good thing or a bad thing. I has its plus points I guess. For example all my energy goes into making the people around me feel better. When my sister died a few years ago my mum called me ‘Her Rock’ and said she couldnt have gotten through it without me. To be honest I can’t see any bad points to being the way I am. I’m sure there is, but until they come to light, carry on regardless.

‘We are all of us living in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.’

– Oscar Wilde