Laughlin on the Future of Carbon and Climate
The vast extent and sheer volume of such individual flows are orders of magnitude larger than anything ever recorded in known human history. This is economically illiterate. Top down imposition may not be the answer to fossil fuel scarcity. No such structure differentiates Wolves and Dogs. I was not informed that this exchange had been posted there. Sure it has elements that draw similarities, but upon dry down it carries it's own uniqueness.
My mom was a good looking woman, her younger sister was voted sexiest in her class in a large high school in Columbus Ohio. Many keep it just under the surface. I wouldn't be surprised if I spend at least 10x more on health care than I do on energy. Dating methods are generally in very good agreement. There will inevitably come a point where the left pushes for churches to have their tax-exempt status stripped or some other punishment inflicted for not allowing gay marriages on their premises.
Laughlin is approaching this problem from the physical law direction. There MAY be breakthroughs. There are promising things going on, but they are not guaranteed. I normally would not join a blog criticizing myself, but Russ invited me to respond.
First of all let me record here the URL. I accepted some things as true and rejected others as false, just as everyone else does, but I left a record of my decisions that anyone in the world may go back and examine. The library also reveals why talking coherently about this matter on radio is so difficult.
The fact base is so large that you can't be logical in the time available, and the rhetorical shortcuts required to get a point across are then bound to get interpreted by some listeners as a political agenda. I have no such agenda, actually. Thus, for example, you can stop importing oil right now if someone other than yourself, of course will pay for the shale or fischer-tropsch plants.
You can stop putting extra carbon dioxide into the air right now if you allocate funds to pave Texas with biomass farms. You'd better erect massive trade barriers when you do, though, since your third-world competition will otherwise destroy you with cheap products made by burning coal and oil, made even cheaper by your abstinence. Outside the context of massive and unprecedented future intervention by governments, discussions about futuristic energy technology are actually discussions about future energy production, delivery and storage costs.
I am aware that many people would like this to be a purely technical problem, but unfortunately it just isn't. Because the big mitigator of CO2 accumulation in the atmosphere, absorption into the deep oceans, occurs on the scale of years.
This number is known very precisely from carbon measurements of foraminifera in the ocean muds. Thus extending the life of oil supplies for 20 years is irrelevant to the earth.
The argument over whether the US "manufactures anything" is really an argument over protectionism. I don't want to get into that, as it's above my pay grade. Either free trade is good or it isn't, and you just have to look at the numbers and decide for yourself. De-industrialization, however, is real.
On the way back from the San Francisco airport last night I surveyed cars as they passed by and found about 1 in 15 to have American brands. Some of the foreign ones had been put together in America, but most had not. The local Toyota factory in Fremont just closed. Most of the cars on the road were Japanese, followed by German and Korean.
Toyota just bought Tesla Motors, presumably to acquire its technology. Andy Grove's recent letter to the New York Times just stated what we already knew, that microchip manufacture in the US is on its way out. I myself no longer work on semiconductors, even though I was trained to do so I'm a Bell Labs alumnus and love the subject dearly, because it's a money-loser. When I was at NC State in Raleigh last spring, people were talking about the wholesale export of the textile business to China and its unhappy implications for university's textile school.
Kaist, the excellent engineering school I headed for two years in South Korea around , did not exist in , when the US auto industry first came under attack. The faculty comfortably talks about "economic war" and even toasts to it. Kaist trained most of the engineers at Samsung, Hyundai and LG Chemical, all fearsome manufacturing firms. Samsung made the flat-panel television in my home and was the key actor in the rise of flash memory, the development that made my digital camera a reality and which wiped out Kodak's film business.
To the best of my knowledge it is impossible to buy an American-made television. While in Korea I visited the mighty Hyundai shipyards in Ulsan, where a large fraction of the world's ships are built. No matter how hard boiled you discipline yourself to be, your heart still skips a beat when you see monstrous LNG transports as big as mountains under construction, diesel engines as big as houses, huge cross-sections of ships lying around as though they were toys - none of which was made in America.
The point is merely that work is required to make the thing you're rationally trading, and you won't be able to bear the cost of that work i. In this particular context, people who "make knowledge" can't continue doing so unless the knowledge thus made has a high market price. Thus free exchange of information is incompatible with a knowledge economy. This is not true. Taxing carbon, like taxing anything, "makes sense" if you can get away with it.
The problem is that you can't get away with it on big scales. If you raise diesel fuel prices too much, the truckers go on strike as they did in Britain. If you raise coal prices too much, your energy-intensive industries e. The world won't be using fossil fuels years from now, period.
If you want to argue with this, make it years. The point is that fossil fuel use is temporary on the grand scale of human history because the total amount of such fuel is finite. I personally don't think that people of the future will opt for returning to a pre-industrial age, but this decision will be up to them. It was too big a jump to there from COAL. Russ effectively forced me to cut rhetorical corners I otherwise wouldn't have cut. I'm right about this. Chemical energy storage is limited by quantum mechanics to about two electron volts per bond.
You can do worse than this but you can't better - ever. Thus batteries might, through a series of engineering miracles, achieve the energy density of kerosene, they will never exceed it. Quantum mechanics also causes all atoms to be about the same size, incidentally.
Moreover, it's a general engineering principle that the more energy you stuff into a small space, the more explosive danger you get. Even if there were physical forces available between those of chemical bonds and those of atomic nuclei which there aren't you would never use them to make fuels because the fuels thus made would have more explosive power than dynamite.
Jet fuel evades this problem by not working without oxygen. In the presence of ample oxygen it's about as explosive as dynamite. When I quoted the geologic record in COAL, I was careful to annotate every fact with a sound paper from the refereed literature that I had myself actually read and understood.
The ice age sea level evidence, for example, is very excellent and multiply corroborated. The multiple mass extinctions are real. The radiodated time scales are real. Temperature evidence, by contrast, is more problematic because the rocks don't contain actual thermometers. You have to argue indirectly.
You have the same problem with paleobotany, incidentally. Animal bones tend to preserve well as fossils but plant remains don't. Now, I insist that the true fossil carbon issue is whether you stop burning now or stop burning years from now, NOT whether you stop burning at all. The fossil carbon supply is limited, and we're burning it up fast. Thus what's on the table is a choice between pain now and pain later, not a choice of saving the earth or not. I myself am betting on a do-nothing future at the moment, not because I want this outcome but because I think no electorate will ever vote to increase economic pain on itself.
People may say they will, but when push comes to shove they'll only be willing to inflict pain on someone else. You could, of course start a big war, thus pushing the population pressure problem in the right direction. Unfortunately, it might go badly, leading to the other person's progeny having a glorious future on an uncrowded planet but yours unhappily not.
I don't favor the war option myself. By the way, I am one of the few physics professors you will meet who has served in the armed forces.
My prototype for political response to an energy problem is the California Energy Crisis. The lights went out, and the Governor's head promptly got chopped off, even though the Governor was not responsible for the problem. But my best guess is that this won't happen, and that we will still have elections through the next two centuries.
Rapid change is bad for the biosphere. Let us, however, please keep on task. The issue is not whether the earth needs protecting, which it does, but how much protection you can purchase with the money you have.
This is a decision that will be made politically, and each of us has one vote. I suspect that absolute triumph of Nature over people is not in the cards here, simply because it would require especially great sacrifices from the poor, and they have a large number of votes.
This brings up a matter which concerned me a great deal when I was writing COAL, and which I researched correspondingly carefully. Peal Oil,when it comes sixty years hence or whenever, will very likely generate a temporary price glitch but nothing more because the technology for converting coal to diesel fuel already exists.
It remains only for demand to send prices up sufficiently to turn on this additional supply. There are also supplies such as shale and clathrates in the wings, not to mention huge natural gas reserves, but the coal supply is better known and thus easier to pin down with numbers.
Exactly how much fischer-tropsch fuel costs to manufacture in present-day dollars is difficult to assess because of subsidy distortions, but I think it's about twice the cost of petroleum distillates. True, this would double the yearly atmospheric carbon burden, but I believe that nobody would vote to curtail carbon emissions if the consequence were no fuel for their cars. The second crisis that comes a century later when the coal runs out is a little trickier, but I think it's very likely that people will simply substitute biomass for coal as the fischer-tropsch feedstock.
This does not mean that the energy itself will come from agriculture. By that time there will have been a price inversion in which energy from carbon-based fuels becomes more expensive than energy from other sources.
The reverse is the case today. That would open the door to using carbon as an energy storage medium rather than a primary energy source.
Nuclear energy may or may not be the alternate source of choice, but its existence will put a price ceiling on whatever the alternate source turns out to be. I myself anticipate a vicious market fight to the death between nuclear and solar energy. Thousands of years in the future it will definitely be solar because the supply of nuclear fuel, even if you breed, is limited. Thus I concluded that the go-go supply-siders may have gotten it right on this one.
The collateral damage to the atmosphere in this scenario is, of course, enormous and there I believe some thought could be given to managing this two-century transition so as to achieve a better environmental outcome. There is, of course, the awful possibility that green politics might stop the resources from coming on line fast enough to avert war, but I think this is unlikely.
I'm afraid I really botched my answer to Russ about industrial innovation. He caught me off guard with his question, and all I could think of quickly was the blue diode, which, as Russ fully understood, was probably not that big a deal on the grand scheme of things. We were talking about American industrial innovation, and whether or not the US is getting out-performed in that department.
In the circles I frequent it is common knowledge that Japan, not the USA, is the superpower of technical innovation. The momentous Japanese inventions that touch your life every day include the laser printer, the flat-panel display, the videocassette recorder, the write-able compact disc, its cousins the CDROM and DVD, digital cameras with flash memory and the hybrid car.
We can also throw in frivolous things like the amorphous alloy golf drivers banned from tournaments because their special springiness gives their user too great an advantage. If the US ever decides to reinvigorate its nuclear power industry it will have to use Japanese designs because Toshiba bought Westinghouse's nuclear capability and has been steady improving it.
The other possible source of reactors, of course, is France. I must really have miscommunicated here. I was absolutely not belittling the creative dynamism of my country. I'm a blue passport carrier, and this particular aspect of my culture is something I hold dear. That said, it is a grave mistake to patronize China. It is a great nation, much older than America and amply supplied with cosmically smart people. The reason that China 'leaches,' as you put it, is simply that this maximizes profits.
These folks are no fools. Moreover, making money selling things rather than burning money 'innovating' them is strongly encouraged by the state.
That's why there's such resistance to revaluing the yuan. It's widely perceived there that Japan's decision to give in to the Americans on this matter precipitated its economic problems in the nineties. It is that the ongoing sequestration of technical knowledge, both for national security reasons and in the name of "propertyizing" ideas, is an evil unintended side effect of our decision in the seventies to de-industrialize.
In assigning value to knowledge but not to manufacturing, we committed ourselves to a society in which knowledge isn't for everyone, for the same reason lots of money isn't. Currency can't work unless it is dear. It's exactly the reverse of what people thought would happen - universal enlightenment, leisure, endless intellectual happiness and so forth. Among the strange side effects now playing out is the inversion public education's premise. In the information age, you can't teach kids anything really important i.
To paraphrase Marlon Brando in "The Freshman", scam is such an ugly word. Let us say a fresh strong revenue stream for things you might like to purchase other than energy for the people or saving the biosphere from CO2. As discussed above, the time scale is wrong for the latter.
I took the liberty last fall of plotting the data myself. Each point on the plot was a country. It was rather linear, with a slope of about fifty times the local market cost of electricity, in US dollars per joule. I frankly don't understand how this could be if there are great historic advances in GDP per joule. That would require all countries' advances to be the same. They are indeed - for now - because the competitive dynamic in the energy business keeps prices low.
Energy is astonishingly cheap, especially considering how central it is to everything. That will all change when the monstrous middle east reserves run out, which by my reckoning is about 60 years from now. You and I will be dead by then, so it won't matter to us. This is the geologic time problem I keep mentioning.
Spoken like a man who has never visited China. It's too late, I fear. Beijing in the summer is a clone of Los Angeles, unbearable because of the smog. Hong Kong is always bustling with traffic, despite having a state-of-the-art underground. Just google for Shanghai and take a look at the traffic circulating around the Bund at night or in Pudong. Even in Kunming, the "boondocks" in China, there is plenty of traffic. In the sense of its car obsession, the country reminds you eerily of home.
Even when cars were still scarce in Mainland China, drivers from the communes used to "borrow" the car at night to conduct business on the side, at a tidy profit.
Moreover, cars are status symbols everywhere, but especially in places where relatively few people have them. What better way could there be to impress your future father-in-law than to show up in a big black car,preferably chauffeured! Russ was nodding vigorously with approval when I did this.
Apparently he got something you didn't. That remark took me aback too, and I wish Russ had taken steps to clear up what he meant. At that moment in the conversation I had opined that Congress had purposefully strengthened the IP laws because they were desperate to stop the hemorrhaging of US industry overseas.
That's what Russ apparently disagreed with. It might have been the overseas part he didn't like. He didn't disagree with the strengthening itself, which is a matter of public record. Moreover, what the Congress WROTE in it preambles to these laws, and what has now been sustained in the courts, is that they intended to protect American industry, notably the music, movie and software industries but also more corporeal things such as pharmaceutical companies, with product lines expensive to develop but easy to copy.
It could be that the laws were really all aimed at malicious college freshmen, but I think billion-dollar events in industry, such as the abduction of Intel's memory business by Nippon Electric many years before, also had something to do with it. Several years ago I was invited to serve on a research review panel in Taiwan. The subject was nanoscience, and it was the usual mix of plodding university activities, for the most part.
At the end, however, there were a few terrifyingly competent presentations from the partners inside Taiwan's Industrial Technology Research Institute, known as ITRI for short. The subject matter included polymer paint formulas, tool casting techniques and micellar drug delivery, all of which were other people's highly-developed technologies. I knew something about all of these things, in particular the latter, for it's a cancer therapy strategy that's been on the burner in drug houses since my graduate school days.
I later learned that ITRI strikes terror in the hearts of young entrepreneur types in Silicon Valley, for it's notorious as themost efficient purloiner other people's IP in the world.
Taiwan's entire semiconductor industry, now an international juggernaut with major activities in Mainland China, was spun out of ITRI.
One reason is that Russ didn't ask me about engine efficiency. A more important one, however, is that engine efficiency is largely irrelevant to energy consumption. The reason is that the energy business needs to push its product, and it responds to decreased demand by 1 lowering prices and 2 creating new sources of demand.
Real-life engines also have two large costs over and above the cost of fuel: Conventional internal combustion engines, it turns out, win handsomely in latter two categories.
They're dirt cheap to make and they usually run with little or no maintenance for the lifetime of the vehicle. Indeed for most people the price of fuel is a relatively unimportant factor in choosing what car to buy, at least compared to purchase price and maintenance reliability. That's why we have gas guzzlers. Laughlin in almost every comment challenge the IPCC stance that we must take action. Yet he peppered the interview with denials of that was what he was doing.
And I deny it again. The IPCC is concerned with assessing prospects for climate change and issuing advice to governments about how to deal with it.
I'm concerned with neither. I only care about what the energy business will be like when the crisis is past - and also perhaps making a little money selling books right now. My phone is not ringing off the hook from legislators eager to get my help reading and interpreting IPCC documents, and even if it were I would tell them no, go read and interpret the documents yourself.
I'm looking forward to listening to this on my hike today. I read Laughlin's book, A Different Universe, several years ago. It was a great introduction to the concept of emergence in the physical sciences. Although not quite the same, it's a concept that is very important to the field of economics. As a Nobel Prize winning physics professor, I don't doubt the guest's intelligence. I am, at least somewhat, skeptical that these critical thinking skills he has developed as a physicist transfer equally to all fields of inquiry.
I would like to say I enjoyed this podcast, and a lot of territory was covered so I may have to listen again, however I was left somewhat wanting. To begin with what I found most interesting was a seeming stylistic contradiction.
On the one hand he points out several examples such as the blue diode which were at one time thought to be physically impossible, until someone found a way to do it. On the other hand Laughlin's entire conversation was peppered with his certainty and declarations of impossibilities.
I also had some stylistic concerns as Laughlin seemed very scattered at times. There seemed to be a lot of loosely connected concepts and what, to someone who has only this experience to go on, seemed like thousands of assumptions. He would declare things that to me seem questionable as obvious and necessary. For someone who talks often of hubris I was surprised that you did not challenge him on more of these although I understand the assumptions were SO frequent it may have been impossible to carry on a conversation questioning all of them, as I am sure each question would have lead to a thousand more topics and assertions.
I would also like to address peoples liberal use of such terms as "nature" and "equilibrium. For one thing nature is hardly equilibrium.
The earth and universes history is peppered with catastrophes, asteroid collisions, mass extinctions, etc. For instance an asteroid could easily be headed towards the earth right now and lead to a completely "natural" end of mankind. Now many complex systems, especially lifeforms and ecosystems, strive towards some form of "equilibrium.
Without getting too much into it I think the important things for humans relates to having enough of an equilibrium for us to anticipate and plan are day to day activities without too much uncertainty for the foreseeable future. Tied into this is the issue of all of humanities supporting elements, such as natural resources, and the species that we rely on, whether for food or a myriad of other reasons.
It depends on what you mean by optimal. There are many versions of optimal, such as optimal for you mostly dominated by short term concerns and hardly geological ones , optimal for biodiversity, humanity, etc. I will assume you mean humanity correct me if I am wrong. It is true there may be other weather patterns, etc.
It is still possible that despite this a "quick" shift to such conditions would cause the opposite effect, inability to adapt, widespread suffering, etc.
We don't really know. That we make PLANS based on these environmental conditions and to change them would require humanity to make shifts in infrastructure and other humanity wide habits.
The other thing that would be most definitely true is that there will be winners and losers. To take just a hypothetical instance, it is possible that Canada would prosper from being able to grow many crops they were previously unable to, at the same time increasing desertification in other areas… so "optimal" for Canadians, less "optimal" for Israeli's. No matter what it involves lots of speculation and to me it seems like somewhat of a cop-out to say, "how do you know it won't get even better?
A really interesting guest with some profound insights that have really made me think. However, I think he felt rather too much a need to oversimplify. The energy density of hydrocarbons is high, but don't forget that there have been nuclear powered ships and submarines for decades. It was shockingly naive of him to assume that in the centuries of technological advancement to come that an engineering solution to a wider set of applications could not happen.
Furthermore there are experiments on the far more friendly nuclear fusion reaction that the future seems likely to make common use of.
I think he blinded you with science and needed more challenging. He rather took advantage of your lack of knowledge, for which he should be ashamed.
The tone of his voice was of an enthusiast not a calm person rather like Nassim Taleb and Mike Munger all of whom I learn a great deal from. It would be interesting if he returned again to answer some of these physics questions.
I think he was too certain of the future. Historically we have been very poor at predicting the future - it's worth remembering. It's naive to think that hydrocarbons with carbon chains of various lengths are only good for burning. Consider that fertilizer and plastics come from crude oil. Bob Laughlin, Yes, many things you find in America that used to be wholly made here are now imported. But, at the same time, many things and services you find overseas that used to be wholly made there are now imported, too.
I and my college friends are all recent graduates from NCState University, we all have found productive work as engineers for manufacturing concerns, and most didn't even need to leave Raleigh to find it. Our employers export more overseas than they sell in America.
I suggest you check the actual Federal Reserve statistics on American industrial output, which is significantly higher today than it was when you claim we de-industrialized.
We did no such thing, it is just that our factories produce more while employing far fewer workers. And you can be forgiven for believing an unseen factory does not exist.
But when anyone tells me Americans don't make anything anymore, I offer to take them on tours of the factories my immediate friends work at here in the greater Raleigh area, making everything from electronic components to heavy machinery.
I did not express myself clearly. We are in complete agreement. We can't significantly tax carbon fuels because we have no cheap substitutes. After we exhaust all the natural sources of fossil fuels and nuclear energy we will be forced to use solar energy.
I imagine we will deploy a network of earth satellites that convert solar energy to microwaves beamed down to surface collection stations. With virtually limitless energy, we can make liquid hydrocarbon fuels for transportation. Thanks for your comments. It's very much appreciated to see comments come full circle with a response.
As a technical person dealing with non-technical problems every day, I very much appreciated the full range of responses. I could not agree more. I spent a period of my life in graduate school researching fuel cells. We did marvelous things with efficiency, but we had to start with hydrogen. We then ran some experiments with methanol, a very small hydrocarbon, ran it through a reformer, cleaned out the carbon monoxide, and ran it through the fuel cell.
The overall efficiency was almost identical to an internal combustion engine. I would argue, however, that one benefit of breaking up the system into various stages electric generation, transmission, storage, and conversion allows non-fossil fuels to be introduced in small ways along each step - thermal reforming with solar heat instead of fossil heat, wind electricity generation, etc. We will never beat thermodynamics, but the technology innovations you describe as increasing may help in using non-fossil energy sources within the thermodynamic laws more greatly to our advantage.
I'm far from being hostile to the conservation arguments. I live in a passive solar house and collect rainwater for domestic use. These things make economic sense. The problem with this debate is the confluence of Science, Economics, and Politics. Unfortunately Scientists, Engineers and Economists are largely absent from the table.
I have little hope for the short term result. When the problem becomes acute we will move to nuclear fission and perhaps some of the thorium reactor designs. That will be combined with Fischer Tropsh or bio-reactor processes with both fossil and bio based feed-stocks. I also have great hope for in situ bio resource utilization of coal deposits.
I'm hopeful that some of the recent advances with solar cells will make it out of the lab. I'm also hopeful energy storage technology will advance. Perhaps we will even finally crack the fusion nut. The problem is people think we can just flip a switch and these things will happen. They want to place a huge tax on the economy that will cripple the ability to develop these technologies. They neglect the massive capital invested in current infrastructure and inventory. We have to have a rich, vibrant economy to be able to transition to these newer technologies.
Imposing a huge energy tax will only ensure our reliance on current tech. I don't understand why the greens can't understand that only wealthy societies have the luxury of worrying about environmental externalities.
I would argue that the more wealthy the society, and the less expensive energy is, the more we have the ability to solve these issues.
After all a landfill is merely a plasma torch and a lot of energy away from total reclamation. Every waste stream we have can be totally reclaimed if the cost of energy is low enough. The cost of energy needs to go down, not up. There is an interesting talk by the chemist Dan Nocera which echoes Laughlin with respect to the superiority of fuel.
His solution, however, is to decentralize fuel production and to use hydrogen extracted from water by synthetic photosynthesis. Regardless of your position on that, it's worth a watch. I agree that there is a big problem with the people who "think we can just flip a switch and these things will happen.
The more I deepen my understanding of issues around energy, the stronger I see the dependence on traditional capital sources venture, stock IPO's, etc. A strong economy is a requirement for these capital sources to flow into new investments. However, policy speculation leads many of these investors to pick one technology investment over another, so I am also aware that small policy decisions, or even the possibility of a policy change, can affect year capital decisions, which snowball rapidly.
Even given that, I am still leery of policy that picks winners - there may be an unknown contender out there that could do even better things for society at large. The main point I think I would contend with is that "the less expensive energy is, the more we have the ability to solve these issues.
It's essentially the principle that if you can make clothes while creating less scrap by lining up your patterns in a thought-out way , you reduce your overhead and increase your profit. However, if the commodity you're dealing with is less and less expensive, your incentive to smartly manage is decreases. Less expensive energy, then, makes less people interested in devoting resources to solving energy supply problems.
I suppose I also disagree that wealthy societies are the only ones who have the luxury of worrying about environmental effects. I would propose that exactly the opposite is true. Poorer societies are often poor because of a lack of a particular resource.
Therefore, they must develop systems to conserve and manage these finite resources with much more dire consequences than do wealthy societies with an abundance of resources. One way to look at the energy problem, then, might be as a problem of how to motivate people, while they are wealthy, to develop new resources to replace the current cheap resources before they become dear. And also how to channel this motivation into a positive incentive rather than a fear incentive.
It's like talking yourself into saving for retirement. I want to save now so when I'm older I will be able to live comfortably; NOT, I should save, otherwise I'll be a wretchedly poor old man later. Both true, but one is a much more motivating means of presenting the situation.
This is of course a nuanced issue. I do agree that the policy issues can swing large industries around. I would prefer these issues be decided based on economics not political considerations. It is very difficult to plan a large capital investment when you are dependent on a regulatory regime that may change with the flick of a pen.
It also then creates a dependent industry that tends to put up barriers to change. On that I'm sure we are in agreement. I also understand where you stand regarding price incentive. This is a very long discussion to attempt in this format. I will just say that the typical use of accounting principles for EROI and such are horribly flawed on a fundamental level.
They make no rational sense. Price alone should be the arbiter of decisions. I would like to see a freer market where local factors and broad externalities are accounted for. One where there are no subsidies to any energy industry. For instance, lets let the oil companies protect their own supply lines I did not mean to suggest a policy that artificially pushes the cost of energy down.
Merely that as a society, the less expensive energy is in REAL terms, the better we can address many issues facing us presently.
When the decision is one of feeding my children or preserving an endangered lemur. The lemur goes in the pot. Only wealthy societies have the luxury of setting aside a place for the lemur to live. In addition, the inverse correlation of wealth and birth rate in a society are a positive for conservation efforts.
Are we really stuck with centralized power utilizing carbon based fuels because of aviation? Does aviation really force the hand of the other transport sectors?
A good benchmark for a battery might be adipose tissue- another kind of carbon battery. Gasoline has a slightly higher energy density but the efficiency is way down for gasoline relative to fat. For out society, there may be inefficiency in being stuck with liquid fuels and the transport infrastructure that consolidates power behind liquid fuel producers.
Not to straw man Dr. General aviation may fall into the more relevant middle of that spectrum but why would far future aviation necessarily force other modes of transport to into line behind hydrocarbon liquid fuels and not things like carbon batteries? There have been so many novel transport proposals including massive underground ultra high speed mag lev trains and massive high speed dirigibles- do these need gasoline?
Laughlin says we will have things because people want them. When people have an addiction, one of the things they want to be free of is the pusher. People do not want centralized food, transport or energy and it does not matter if it is centralized but in private hands.
When the President talks about the nation being addicted to oil he is talking whether he knows it or not about oil supplanting democracy with plutonomy. Ordinary people don't want the fuel trucks, gas stations, refinerys and privately owned oil fields. I'm impressed by Bob Laughlin taking the time to write a point by point response to his critics here. That raised the level of discussion enormously.
Nevertheless, I must say I found the structure of this podcast interview jarring. First we start off with an eccentric perspective concerning "what the earth cares about". I enjoyed this part. The geologic perspective is too often lost in the shuffle. Subsequently--too often for my liking--the reasoning degenerated into fait accompli due to failure of political will based on the minor truism that people won't vote economic hardship upon themselves.
This is cart before the horse if the listener is interested in determining the outlines of the failure of the human backbone in managing our future affairs. Bob was quick to say that plants seem to optimized for CO2 extraction at certain established CO2 levels, or something to that effect, but reluctant to note that plants might be equally optimized to certain temperature bounds and soil conditions. Certainly, agriculture can be relocated over time as climate drifts.
When the time comes to adapt coastal Bangladesh into a shrimp farm, just how fast can locally-adapted mangrove forests be established? Essentially the argument becomes that we lack the political will to vote hardship on our driving habits now, while passing along an uncertain food supply to following generations.
A petty grievance averted "because people want them" , to confront nature, red in tooth and claw later short belts and starvation. Isn't that trade-off just Jared Diamond in slow motion? It might very well be true that we lack the political will to make the responsible choices. If so, I'm wavering a bit on why we're having this discussion in the first place. Isn't the game about having a little bit more political will having identified the prospects clearly, rather than wringing our hands in resignation?
Bob is ultimately arguing that something like the The Mont Fleur Scenarios as applied in South Africa is a non-starter for global economic and environmental issues.
I'm doubtful myself, but inclined to continue frantically shaking the sofa cushions for a resource toward a better outcome. It is a hydrocarbon. Nature has decided to store energy in hydrocarbons because it is a very good way to do it. Especially if you live in an oxygen rich atmosphere. This is how most life on earth functions. Then plants capture the CO2 and use photosynthesis to start the process over by making hydrocarbons and releasing O2.
Attempting to demonize and regulate a molecule that is part of the cycle of life is insane. RP1 is a rocket fuel based on kerosene. The only solar powered aircraft we have built are totally impractical for anything other than very limited use, not transporting humans or cargo. This is part of the problem. People who are not familiar with the constraints of technology see something on TV or in a popular magazine and think it can replace existing technology. This is simply not the case.
When I see people talking about high speed trans continental electric trains powered by nuclear energy, I at least know they are serious. However, The infrastructure cost to do this may still make aviation with synthetic hydrocarbons the better option.
You only need a mile of pavement on each end. The problem is, no expert in any one field is smarter than the aggregate knowledge of the economy as a whole. Even well meaning interventions on the part of regulators will have unintended consequences.
Every time an artificial incentive is placed in the structure of the economy, it hampers our ability to find solutions that truly do conserve precious resources. Things like government guaranteed flood insurance that allows people to build where no rational human would build. Government financed roads that then lead to urban sprawl.
Government financed electric grids which distort incentives in the alternative energy markets. Artificially depressing the cost to borrow money which leads to squandering resources. I have a very hard time accepting that the government under the guidance of a few academics will do any better job changing the weather and altering the chemistry of life on earth.
I am afraid I may live to see religion and ideology retake the field from science and reason. This time belief will be wrapped in the language of science.
Thank you for the apt correction on rocket propulsion. But are we stuck with gasoline tanker trucks vice superconducting line? Are we stuck with combustion engines when we can at least do gasoline fuel cells? If we can do gasoline fuel cells is all hope lost for a battery that will at least suffice for general transportation, ie the metal fuels powdered system or even lithium titanate?
If aviation needs liquid fuels then it seems fine that there are options with algae, but does that define everything else? Even telecommuting would seem to give us a lot of flexibility. Even if we end up mining our own trash i. I heard it said that after WWII the Germans were forced into the field where they were forced to eat like primates and during this period there illness dropped off the charts.
So maybe we can eat weeds and perm culture? Along the same lines is the notion that allowing all American farms to overgrow with prairie grass would scrub all the excess carbon out globally in ten years time as it completely rebuilds the soil and puts water back in the ground.
The only things we are stuck with are the laws of nature and economics. I would love to see all subsidies removed from the system so we could see what really is the best allocation of resources. Ironically I think that the result would be closer to what many in the green movement claim they want to achieve.
Instead, by attempting to regulate C02 emissions and the economy, they will achieve the exact opposite. Recent Episodes and Extras. Extras by Russ Roberts: Extras by Amy Willis: Quote of the Day. Hosted by Russ Roberts. How do I listen to a podcast? Readings and Links related to this podcast Podcast Readings. Follow Russ Roberts EconTalker.
Robert Laughlin seems skeptical that we will drastically improve car mileage: I tried to cut out sentences fairly, and I hope I am not misrepresenting you here Robert Not only do I think we will have vastly more efficient cars in the future, I would claim the cars are already here. Posted August 9, 2: There are two main reasons classical liberals should consider endorsing cap-and-trade: Posted August 9, 3: Hi Jonny, How is tradable permits any better than a carbon tax?
Posted August 9, 4: Posted August 9, 6: Tradable permits are the least painful way of reducing harmful pollution -- far more efficient than imposing price controls, outright bans, or other command and control measures.
According to Laughlin, whatever means you use to control carbon emissions only postpones the day when the supply goes to economic zero. One way or another, men will use the stored carbon in the earth's crust until it's exhausted because carbon makes for prosperity.
Does it matter if we use it all up in years or years? Russ, I really enjoy EconTalk and I look forward to this one also. May I suggest having Frederic Mishkin on to talk about monetary policy? Posted August 9, 9: Reply to Lindstrom and Zarkov: Also in the back of my head is the thought that the heavy involvement of government in nuclear energy has hidden the real costs of extracting and refining the fuel and that it may not be the great source of energy I think it is, but on balance I think it will gradually take the place of fossil fuels in the future I tend to think that any peak energy scenario will play out relatively badly, with more war and such.
We could try to apply discount factors, suitably adjusted for uncertainty to future effects, but no one knows how to do that. If people find that their electric bills "skyrocket," as promised by Obama we will get a regime change. It would take a dictatorship to impose draconian emission curbs. We will get only minor curbs so the government can announce it's "doing something. Department of Energy is pouring billions into this fiasco.
In fact, according to my calculations, the all-electric car results in more CO2 emissions not less. The energy to charge the car batteries has to come from someplace, and that someplace emits CO2. Posted August 9, For example, see the Volkswagen 1-liter car To get high efficiency the engine has to run very hot.
Remember the hybrid is still an internal combustion car, it runs off gasoline. To double the efficiency we would need to approximately quadruple the operating temperature expressed in Kelvin. Putting in the numbers you get about 5, degrees Fahrenheit. Obviously that's too hot for a steel engine.
We would need some kind of ceramic engine. There is no way around this basic law of physics. We are materials limited. Posted August 10, Posted August 10, 7: Posted August 10, 9: HTM Too, I'm not so confident about govt's determination to keep the lights on.
A couple of comments. Posted August 10, 2: What then would it mean for the properties of our universe to be emergent? Thanks Russ for the interesting topic as always today. Thanks for your discussion, as always. Posted August 10, 3: Posted August 10, 5: Posted August 10, 8: In defense of Western culture or at least the Greeks and emergence: Posted August 11, Ever think of that?
Posted August 11, 8: Note the Wikipedia article says that VW has delayed production until and links to this announcement. We have working fuel cells that use hydrogen as the feedstock, but hydrogen functions as storage medium. You still need an energy source to make the hydrogen. A fuel cell that can run off a liquid hydrocarbon fuel is current research now.
This class of fuel cell works by reforming the hydrocarbon using steam at a high temperature. I doubt that these systems will prove more efficient than simply combusting the liquid hydrocarbon directly to produce mechanical energy.
Thank you Russ for having such great interviews. I am glad I decided to listen. Posted August 11, 1: Mr Gravity, I think the point Laughlin was making is valid. In these issues are the root of class structure, and how society is organized. I don't think Laughlin was suggesting he "just sat down and figured it all out. As to how I am going to earn a living Posted August 11, 5: David Alton Dodd writes:. Posted August 12, 6: That said, I got several important takeaways: We're going to use up all of the fossil fuels at some point, no matter what we do in the market or via public policy.
Carefully consider the environmental impact of fossil fuel consumption vs all of the other environmental impacts of the human species. The earth has a long arc and has proven to adapt to whatever happens to it. Fossil fuel consumption in the past xx years may be a minor blip on that arc.
Of all of the potential environmental impacts of fossil fuel consumption, speciation impact is the one that potentially matters. As humans, we should consider speciation impact holistically, in terms of everything we do, and not just fossil fuel consumption. Consider human population growth, use of pesticides, increased farming, etc.
Posted August 12, Posted August 12, 1: Posted August 12, 2: Posted August 13, 2: Posted August 13, Quick addition to R. Posted August 13, 4: So, talk of the Fuel must also be partnered with Engine Efficiency.
Posted August 14, 1: I honestly want to be corrected, anyone who can, please do. What fuel do you foresee that can provide no externalities sir? The main points that I heard were: Posted August 14, 8: You cannot legislate away the laws of nature.
Posted August 14, First of all let me record here the URL http: Here are some responses, in no particular order: Posted August 15, 8: Posted August 15, Posted August 15, 1: Justin P, "It also doesn't follow that this is the optimal biosphere possible. Posted August 15, 2: Russ, A really interesting guest with some profound insights that have really made me think. I am sure that necessity will force us to invent a brighter future, without hydrocarbons.
Posted August 15, 4: Posted August 15, 5: Posted August 16, 1: Laughlin, wrote, To Zarkov: Posted August 16, 7: Posted August 16, Being able to broaden supply is always good. Posted August 17, 3: As to the poor society vs nature thing.
I meant it in the following context: Posted August 18, 3: Posted August 25, 1: Posted August 25, 6: There have been so many novel transport proposals including massive underground ultra high speed mag lev trains and massive high speed dirigibles- do these need gasolin What is fat?
The field of mental illness treatment is rife with pseudoscientific nonsense and a Ph. A great many of those promoting pseudoscience, paranormal claptrap, and ufological horse hockey hold advanced degrees, though some of them are of the mail order variety to lend credence. The most egregious example might have been Dr. Any list of Ph. Where academic freedom meets the strictures of tenured professorships, woo may thrive.
Allen Hynek - The next time any of us encounters that sneering sort of UFO believer who says something like "oh sure, Mr. Skeptic, I guess you're going to explain this one with 'swamp gas' too! Since a theory, to be scientific, must be falsifiable, I would like to ask what would constitute an experimental falsification of evolution descent from common ancestor?
Steve Novella addresses this on his Neurologica Blog here: Thanks for the link. One of the examples given is: I take this to mean that we would falsify evolution if we found conclusive evidence of a fossil found only in one layer in a widely divergent, anachronistic layer.
I prefer to believe that my origins lie with an almighty and allknowing God who gave his only Son for me to be saved from the coming wrath. The name of Jesus be praised! Yeah, that will get you really far in life. Have you considered simply asking what the words mean, or possibly asking for a simpler explanation of some of the concepts? Our understanding of any philosophical concept even with what we are capable of observing scientifically follows an asymptotic line nearing ever closer but never touching what is the truth our limit becomes finer and finer but approaches the infinite.
Perhaps we will never know everything. Alcorn interprets it at least actually supports evolution. Evolution can take one species and through genetic mutation and natural selection, split the species into multiple species.
That increases the disorder of the Earth. Have any of you folks heard of the matter of opinion? I find it so imature how Evolutionists and New Earth Creationists, go on and on calling eachother wrong, and will willingly take each battle to the death. For your information my friendly neighbors, like alot of things, Creationists can be split into two main catagories — Old Earth Creationists, and New Earth Creationists.
Kyle, you are wrong. It is not a matter of opinion. Creationism in any form does not explain evolution, nor does it explain increase in complexity, or emergence, i. It is a religious position, and therefore outside the scope of science. My opinion is that religion is nothing but a superstition and magical thinking, but that is not science either. Science is based on facts, not opinions. I am not wrong. I do agree, both sides do have their flaws. Creationism cannot explain how objects such as black holes and quasars come into being, especially after the aparent turn around of when Adam and Eve ate the fruit — this seems odd to even me.
Are you homeschooled by any chance? Did you learn everything about evolution from Creationists? Young Earth Creationism, or New Earth as you call it, conflicts with just about every natural science.
Magical thinking means making untestable and unnecessary assumptions. The Big Bang is evident from the expansion of the universe, but claiming that God made it happen would be magical thinking. And, to whoever said that individuals who believe in Creation are ignorant… Creationists are definitely NOT ignorant. Neither creation or evolution can be proven. Both are theories, because science means you can create it over and over again. Neither can you create Creation.
If you belive in God, then you belive he is all-poweful, which means He can do whatever the heck he wants to do. That explains everything that seems unexplainable: So, next time you see a dust particle turning into a universe or figure out a way to change species, and make some bacteria into a human, you come and show me.
How about that, eh? The two do seem to go together. As far as they are able to perceive, it really is just a matter of opinion. Their preacher has a lot of information on the subject of how life came about accuracy is another question , states that what he is saying is fact, and is a willing representative of his viewpoint. Scientists appear to be the same thing. Being wrong has to hurt.
One can argue that you find a watch while searching for it and assume someone made it. You can attribute the rock formation to a creator, but you could also attribute it to finding a rock formation by chance that effectively tells time.
I have to wonder if Mr. Novella hangs with the researchers at the University of East Anglia in England where megabytes of e-mails from the Climate Research Unit, which have now been confirmed as real, involved many researchers across the globe with ideologically similar advocates around the world brazenly discussing the destruction and hiding of data that did not support global warming claims.
That would make sense. Tsad — perhaps you are new to the internet. That is often how claims on blogs are referenced- by linking directly to them. The page I linked to on Talk Origins give very detailed examples of simpler clotting systems, simpler but functional eyes, etc. This is all old news. It would serve you well to not only read my article, but follow the links to the evidence I cite — if you can tolerate the cognitive dissonance.
That link has absolutely nothing to do with scientifically showing that these two biological systems, specifically vision or blood clotting could have evolved from simpler systems that were functional but served a different purpose from their current one. That is exactly how anti-creationists operatives work.
Make a statement and site a link which is gibberish but gives the impression you are siting actual scientific support. That is all I am asking, and do it in your own words without siting a propaganda link. Tsad — seriously — are you claiming that there are no examples in nature of simpler yet functional eyes? This information is out there and readily available, if you had the slightest interest in actually knowing the facts.
Eye spot — patch of tissue or cells that are photosensitive. Organism can move toward light, or synchronize circadium rythm, but not see shapes. Eye cup — depressed eye patch. Able to tell direction of light better than eye patch — the more cupped the eye, the finer the angle of discrimination. Primitive lenses could increase the light sensitivity of the eye by bringing in more light, without the ability to focus the image on the retina.
Box Jellyfish — have primitive lenses that do not focus, adapted for low light environments. Jellys in brighter environments have simpler eyes without lenses. And then vertebrates and other lineages evolved eyes with developed lenses that could focus sharp images on the retina. Some fossil evidence for the evolution of eye muscles in vertibrates: Readers can discern for themselves and I thank you for demonstrating to them where you are coming from. I wrote a more thorough reply on my other blog here: In which I completely anticipated the misdirection you just did.
I was refuting the claim of irreducible complexity — which states that the eye could not function if it were any simpler. You wrote in response:. I have now provided examples of simpler eyes that are functional. This disproves the premise of irreducible complexity, which is what I originally set out to do.
You have now moved the goalpost to something which I did not originally claim — showing an actual evolutionary sequence, not a plausible sequence and not just simpler forms. Yes — the readers here will have no difficulty seeing who is engaging in misdirection and logical fallacies. I like the way you actually have shown that it is even more difficult for evolution to occur because of natural selection. If 10 random genetic mutations occur that could lead to the development of new species, natural selection then could pick one and eliminate the others.
And now that I have gotten you to move the goalposts so predictable and now you are further claiming there is no evidence for the evolution of the vertebrate eye from simpler antecedents, here is an article laying out the evolution of the vertebrate eye and giving examples of the simpler stages that persist in extant species.
This is as close as we can get to an evolutionary sequence in living species: A time machine would be nice — then you would really be able to witness what happens instead of believing in one sided interpretations of fossils — none of that is actual proof of anything and is subject to various interpretation. Could you provide an alternate view of the interpretation of fossil evidence that supports your claims?
You could even use the data in the Nature article. Evolution makes many scientific predictions, many of which have been spectacularly confirmed. I have just provided one slice of that evidence. You have also squandered and pretense of credibility by not acknowledging the legitimate points I made in response to your specific challenges:. You have managed to get everything wrong, and are yet still unshakable in your conviction that you are right. Oh I glanced at your blog and it was just what I expected — your bloggers misstate my words distorting my words so they sound silly with no correction from you, who stated I am a creationist, which I am not and never claimed to be — I never promoted any creationist viewpoint but simply pointed out the truth about the deceit you use in your first refutation targeting your reasoning — I am not surprised you carried the discussion into an arena where you and your cabal of believers feel comfortable distorting the truth..
Would you provide us with what you can show to fit the available evidence and does not involve evolution or faith? Ah, the new religion of Evolution. They simply go with the most popular and currently in-vogue theory put forward by the so-called intellectuals of today. And the mob is right, until proven wrong.
Once Christianity held the majority favor, now its evolution. Just conjecture, but history seems to show this pattern. Evolutionists cannot and it is a big ask prove how or what happened on this planet to start life off.
Fair enough, just hypothesis and conjecture. We observe what is observable they say. While the man who believes in GOD observes what is not always visible to the human eye. So there we have it, when what is witnessed does not support the core beliefs of a person, they have only two options:. All of us have some sort of core belief system. Whether religious or scientific based, or some own made-up system, we as humans seem to have to have some sort of base ground foundation in order to be comfortable existing in this thing called life.
Our core belief system is in flux too. The intellectual who collates so much supporting data on a topic so as to be thoroughly convinced of it. The Christian comes to understand a big picture view on life, and where they fit into it. They view life as a journey, that carries on in the afterlife.
Their life here on this planet as a human has a meaning that transcends merely the physical. They have a relationship with an usually unseen by the naked eye Creator. Can it be put in a test-tube and proven? Do scientists try to prove GOD exists? So if the point of life is simply to live, then lets all max out on as much as our evolved senses can take in. There seems to me to be an aspect to life that is not able to be quantified in a test tube. This creepy feeling that we are more than just bags of higher organic mush.
The Christian has a grasp on this concept, the atheist will not investigate because of pride and fear. The two basic barriers to the truth. He relies upon the intellectual capacities of his brain, or of others.
Where do these things that millions of people claimed to have experienced come from? Are they ALL derived from the human brain having some sort of malfunction? Lets hope evolution fixes these early model glitches eh?
Hopefully emotions will have been binned by then too, causes far to much hassle! We think we know that the planet is heating up too much for human life to be comfortable. What can we do? Not much it seems to rectify it. By our own hand, apparently, fancy that, the irony! So, the highest evolved primate on earth has literally shat in his own bed, to the extent that his bed might well just turf him off into oblivion. Will his technology that he creates help him?
And more effective at killing. The sick are no longer dying like they used to. Bad genes are being passed on at an alarming rate! Just look at all the kids these days with allergies. So, to conclude my babble, Evolutionists should be concerned with the alarming self degradation of the human species. The thick and sick are multiplying faster than is healthy for species continuation. The human body is an amazing machine, seemingly able to confront a multitude of different problems thrown at it.
By time or by design? We, as humans, design, invent and create things for a multitude of reasons. Weapons can be classed as useful.
Our machines get more complex and function better, more suited to the task as time goes by. Maybe one day mankind will create artificial life.
But HE will have created it. It stand to reason, that what is true in a microcosm, is usually true in a macrocosm. If we, as the highest form of intellectual evolution on this planet have evolved to point were by we can now create machines that have function and purpose, then the idea that us as organic machines could have been created by a superior intellect for a function and purpose does not seem that far fetched.
Or have we gotten so arrogant so as to assume that we are the only creators in this universe. If the ability to create things with function and purpose begets design, then your creator surely has been designed as well, and so on and so on and so on.
So there we have it, when what is witnessed does not support the core beliefs of a person, they have only two options: Accept that there is something that is unknown to them. Decide that it must, just must have been Jesus. This is as good an excuse as any why you still believe. Reason is a little more work than that.
Oh a creationist who understands irony. Well, theres a first. Is it also irony that it is the creationists that talk of abusing the earth to its fullest because its yours go forth and multiply by command!!
Shame you will stop us from doing anything about it. It might ruin your Sunday SUV drive. Lots of strawmen here. Ummm…then who created the creator?
And something complex enough to design the creator would also have to be designed going by this argument. In that case it should be evident that evolution being observed in small increments both in laboratories and in the field today, should be true for the macroscale of time. Thanks for acknowledging it. I have made no assumptions on what you are trying to argue for here. Novella does not have any evidence to back up his refutations. The links he provides though offer a much grander selection of arguments and evidence though.
The evidence he provided in the links as well as the links he provided in the comment section is certainly not nothing and you provide no refutation of your own that even comes close to providing the level of information that you seem to require from Dr. Certainly if it was simply an uninformed opinion, your point of view would be valid as well, but since there is a significant amount of evidence available to examine and study, the onus is on you to show why the evidence does not support Dr.
If you cannot do that, then what are you even fighting for? Scientific knowledge is ultimately opinion, but that does not make it deficient, it makes it honest. We can only deal with the information we have, so all we can say is that all the evidence thus far, points to evolution.
This is the scientific consensus currently, so you need to show why the evidence is so misleading and what else you have to explain it. That is one for the record books — do you care to show me where you found that definition cause it is not in any dictionary, encyclopedia or science book I have ever read…and if you really believe that, it explains a whole lot about what you and I guess Novella believe is science.
If my computer screen goes black and then tells me that the Matrix has me and predicts when people knock on my door, then I might start to question that opinion. You made a refutation of an assertion, just like Dr. Have the balls to hold yourself to the same standard that you are holding him to. It sounds to me like your view of the origin of species, whatever it ultimately is, is based on faith and your point is to call Dr. Novella out on basing his beliefs on faith as well, while asserting that he has the ultimate truth here.
First, your assertion that Dr. Novella is taking this all on faith aside, you have no basis for claiming that he is knowingly trying to deceive his readers. You said yourself that you did not read this whole blog, did not read the other blog all the way through, and have seemed to ignore large portions of his replies to you. You also do not seem to have read much of his other work as well, though I may be wrong on that point. Given that level of experience with the man, it seems unlikely that you know him well enough personally, or are familiar enough with his work to claim any active deception on his part and not provide any supporting evidence to that point.
So once again, you are asserting a claim and not providing any evidence to back it up. Novella in this matter. Novella aptly pointed out, you have changed the evidence you are requiring from him each time he presents what you are asking for and claiming that the evidence you previously asked for is not enough.
If I am wrong, then I may not be so willing to trust any other chairs in the future. Faith says that even though I am seeing nothing in the space below me, I may believe that there is a chair there and it will support my weight. If I am wrong, then my faith will not necessarily be shaken.
The point I make is that trust is earned and faith is not. One can trust in the scientific consensus opinion about a particular field or question as well as the theory that surrounds it without employing faith.
Faith is unshakable despite what the available evidence shows and trust is wholly dependent on what the available evidence shows. If you want to talk about evidence being subject to multiple interpretations, I doubt that anyone will disagree with you, but you need to be ready to present an alternate interpretation to continue the conversation in a meaningful way. Certainly saying that someone could interpret evidence in a different way does nothing to dismiss the interpretation that is being presented.
Novella is insufficient and what other interpretation fits the evidence that is available. If you dispute my interpretation of your position, please clarify. If you dispute my assessment of faith vs trust, or my views on science, please do me the honor of explaining what I am getting wrong and why. Above all, though other commenters may not feel the same way, I want you to know that I mean you no disrespect, nor think that I know everything. I am trying to honestly seek the truth whatever it may be, and so far it has led me to agree with what Dr.
If I am wrong, I want to know about it, but I need good reason and evidence to sway me. Evolution is an emergent property. If you have certain base conditions in place, evolution will follow as an inevitable by-product whether you agree with it, believe in it, actively try to refute it or not. Once you have genetic diversity a provable fact , variable repoduction because of that diversity another provable fact , because of competition for resources food, mates, habitat and avoidance of death all provable and observable facts you get evolution the inevitable by-product.
You can talk about specifics all you want eyes and all that but it always comes back to that very straight-forward equation. Successful animals leave more offspring that unsuccessful ones. What genetic differences accounted for that success will remain and accumulate in the gene pool over time.
Leave that running long enough and you get speciation. Fight over the details all you want that simple truth will always remian. Michael, when you are dealing with creationists it is best to use small words and uncomplicated concepts. Novella a liar and leaving it at that.
He offers no counter-points, no alternate interpretation of the evidence, only baseless assertions that we are all wrong. Tsad, you seem to be dodging or simply ignoring alot of the questions asked, and to me they seem like pretty honest questions. I really do want to know why you think Dr Novella is wrong and offer some evidence for why?
Simply avoiding having to answer the questions. But I digress… None of you have yet riddled me the riddle as to what we are going to do with ourselves as a species?
Now we have technology so the weak can survive just as well. The weak perish and the strong survive again. If we as a species have come this far on the backs of our strong forefathers, then what the hell are we doing allowing the weak now to flourish and spread their pathetic genes!
Seems hypocritical of all you evolutionists to even support this travesty of natural order. None of the other species that inhabit this earth get by on technology, so what gives us the right to do so? In the wild, an albino tiger is targeted and attacked by other tigers to the point of death. All animals instinctively know to target and attack mutated or sick variants of their own species.
Its critical for their survival. Who created the creator? Endless loop in the logical. But not in the supernatural. You guys reject that train of thought outright in a flurry of snorts and indignant facial expressions! I wait for another barrage of insults and criticism about incorrect syntax etc. You know what though? Because the theory of evolution is not everyday life changing. Does it make you want to be a better person, more neighborly, less selfish, happier, more content?
What does it do? Was mother Teresa a highly evolved human, or a damn good woman? And who decides what is Good anyway? Who has the absolute right to determine that? I will say though that at least none of my comments to Tsadhave had any ad hominems in them or attack him as a person. You claim that all us skeptics which I wear as a badge not a label btw have not attempted to tackle the questions or opinions raised by Tsad and simply resorted to name calling.
I ask you, which comments are you reading? Novella responded with plenty of specific content and even wrote another blog post about it. I and others have pointed out what we perceive to be the gaps in his reasoning and have asked him to respond to them.
The only thing that Tsad has said against Dr. He has made no substantive claim or assertion and has not countered any of the facts presented with an alternative interpretation. And so the intellectual circle jerk continues unabated and my simple warning goes un-posted. Let the blind see and the deaf hear — Ours is not a struggle against powers and principalities but against flesh and blood. If possible, an explanation as to the short comings of my previous submission would be gratefully received so that I may better understand how to curtail myself as to be able to join the dialogue.
Steve — another award winning post. I find your writing on evolution to be articulate and enlightening. The second one is definitely not a personal swipe, nor is the first one. The first is an evaluation of your argument. The second is a statement of fact: Thanks for clearing that up for me. That explains my hairy bum. The earth orbits the sun regardless of me and without my opinion being important to that. How is that arrogant? If available, it is considered polite to use this function.
There clearly is more need for discussion. Creationists certainly seem to need help we can give them on the issues at hand. As to the hairy bum…well, yes.
Your hairy arse is explained by the science, and your descent from hairyer homininds. Oh, if you want an absolute truth Seth, all life comes from life. You give me one example of any energy or matter spontaneously metamorphosing into an organic life form. Basic logic and reason fellas, all life on this planet comes from life. It takes an enormous leap of faith to believe otherwise.
And in the future, if man manages to create an artificial life form, then that only proves my first point, that an intelligent designer was the creator. You can combine all forms of energy and all forms of matter in every way possible for a billion years, and you still will not get an organic life from capable of reproducing itself.
You all know it, but choose to reject it. Well God did imbue you with free will. RT, this is a common point of confusion for people. Evolution by Natural Selection is the theory of how life changes over time. It is very well supported by a lot of evidence. But it does not cover the origin of life itself or the origin of the universe. Abiogenesis is the theory that life developed from non-life. This is a separate area of biology, and whether it is true or not does not affect whether evolution by natural selection is true or not.
I mean your theory does kinda hinge on this idea. And I predict they never will. You read it here. There are plenty of fossils at every point in the development between fish and man.
So the theory is extremely well supported by the fossil evidence. The fossil that is supposed to be the common ancestor of both man and the ape has never been found. This is big, as you say there have been plenty of fossils found that show every step between fish and man. So there is a hole in your facts dear Seth. You expect me to look at various fossils, and say that this one turned into that one.
To acknowledge this, there would have to be an equal number of fossils found today that clearly show every small incremental bodily change between one fossil to the next.
Where are those fossils? Heaps of fossils are found of complete species, but fossils with the beginnings of an eye? You however, show me one creature, and then another, and conclude that because of certain bodily similarities between the creatures, that one evolved into the other.
I mean think about it. A car, an airplane, and a skateboard are three very different machines that look different etc.
But they share common similarities as they are designed to operate, in part, in similar environments. For example they all have wheels and bearings, they each have a method for steering, a place for a human to operate it etc. They are different machines, not related, but share similar mechanisms.
A man has eyes on the front of his head. And so do numerous other animals, like lions. The genetic instructions for the formation of eyes like these will be similar for both species. Just like a computer programmer can copy or re-use existing code from one program into another to accomplish a similar outcome. The two end resulting programs can have very different purposes, but may both share commonality such as keyboard input. You should try to use it so that a specific line of questioning can be in a specific area.
This is common blog posting etiquette. No one expects you to look at a fossil and say that one fossil changed into another. This is not how the fossil record works. However, there are fossils that are prior to and common to the entire primate lineage but you are asking for one specific fossil that shows the divergence of a very specific sub-group of primate species, not just apes and monkeys.
I believe that the best current example of a primate fossil near to that division is here:. Of course, there are some people who, regardless of what fossil they see or what the record contains, simply will not be satisfied because they have already decided that evolution is impossible. That is, we have consistently found the fossils that are predicted by the theory, but have never found the fossils that would falsify it. It would be impossible to encapsulate that book and the subsequent years of research into a blog comment.
The authors blog site is here: As for the other information on all the other hominid fossils found; I am not convinced that from mere fragments of skull and teeth, we can possibly say for certain what type of creature they were.
Most likely types of ape that are now extinct, or even types of man that the Bible talks about in Genesis, born from union of Angel and man, the heroes of old, perhaps even they are the remains of the Nephilim.
Goliath was a descendant from Nephilim. If you compare the skull of the Australian Aborigine, to the skull of a European descendant, you might conclude that they are different hominids. Well, I guess that the main issue here is expertise. What seems most odd to me about your link is how the author accepts that the scientific community has revised their understanding of human evolution, and calls this a triumph… and yet the nature of that revision actually makes human evolution much more like the evolution of other species, and less of a special case.
He takes the headline as true but rejects the story. It seems inconsistent to me: I agree that the fossils in the record are from extinct species of ape and different species of hominid. What species of ape do you believe that the skull came from, by the way? A living ape or an extinct one? If the ape is extinct, why do reject the authors finding that this skull is a strong candidate for a common ancestor between chimpanzee and hominids, which would be by definition some kind of ape?
Well, to me, as a non-expert on anatomy, I would say a distant grandfather to one of the apes we have today. Not a different species however, but an ape that is at home in his current then environment. Their DNA allows a million variations of the same animal, but stays within parameters set by the type of species. I accept that modern man has changed since our forefathers in the way of smaller teeth for example due to our much to easier to consume diet.
Our muscle strength is less, as modern man has his beasts of burden, our tools and machines now to do the heavy work for him. This of course has led to the freeing up of available time for man, and he has used that time to expand his understanding and knowledge on all things. Probably our brains are being stimulated in areas that were not in our forefathers who had not the luxury to think and experiment for long periods of time as we can now.
I do believe however, that they would have had the inherent ability to grow in areas of the cerebral. We have the chance to, say did not. E, IF said human is subjected to cold weather, then activate long hair code.
BUT, there are limitations I believe, E. G, IF said human tries to fall of high cliff and flap arms, then said human dies!
So, absolutely variation within a species, IE all types of horse, zebra, pony , BUT not evolution into a new type of species by way of new information being added to the old species DNA. Mutations involve loss of good information.
Case in point is the modern man. Heck, the Neanderthal could simply gnaw the modern man to death! Modern man by physical standards is pretty frail compared to his ancestors. But, by way of having extra time on our hands, we have thought how to make life easier for ourselves by way of tools and technology. How do you think that this works? Does this shrinking of teeth happen over generations, or all in one generation?
What about the changes in skull shape, jaw shape, and other major skeletal changes? Every change in biology through mutation is recorded in the genes, including features that regressed from lack of use. Modern whales descended from creatures that walked, and still have the code for legs written into their genetics, in case they ever need them again.
To get a better general idea of the current picture of hominid evolution, you might look here: It certainly helped me to overcome many of my misconceptions about what evolution was all about and what the evidence for the theory actually was. Quite easy to make that assumption. So this begs the question, is the Salamander still evolving?
Or has it always had legs? And do those legs serve it a useful purpose that does not encourage it to evolve any further. I mean, is there any advantage for it to become a full fledged land creature? Okay, so you agree that gradual changes over time, selected by fitness to a specific environment, are happening and are represented by the fossil record?
If this is true, where do you find a difference between your point of view and the theory of evolution by natural selection?
Well, I am convinced there is a marked difference between natural selection and evolution. What I mean by this, is that for me, its a fact that all creatures can adapt to a certain degree to their environment. I believe that programmed into the DNA of a species is a number of variables that may enable the species to overcome mild environment changes. Ice-age comes, hairy people fare better then smoothed skinned people, they breed with other hairy people, and boom — Hairy men of the north!
Conversely I believe that a species can also breed itself OUT of existence given the right conditions. The resulting messed up genes would be severely detrimental to the species, even to the point of self extinction. If not directly then indirectly by weakening itself and being easy prey for another creature, or by simply falling to congenital diseases.
Or, dwarfism is considered highly attractive, so everyone breeds with them! Put simply, I agree with micro-evolution, that is, changes that occur within a species but do not ultimately change the species into a completely new type of animal, that would be macro-evolution, which I do not believe in. Even given the ga-zillions of years that evolutionist throw around. What we have witnessed on this planet is the opposite.
Information is lost, rather then added. The universe tends to follow some law about always heading this way. Does your house stay clean? Does a car never rust or degrade? Everything in the organic is getting more diverse, but as a consequence, everything is actually getting weaker biologically. I live in New Zealand where the Maori people are indigenous.
They have a look that is individual to them. But you can trace their ancestors back to Asian descent. Do they look like Asians now? They are though, a variant of an Asian. Like wise a Zebra is a variant of a horse etc. You can see the commonalities clearly. Was it mutated arms that gave him the ability to glide between trees? Or is he simply a variant of the squirrel? Will the flying fox be soaring the clouds in a million years?
Or is he quite fine where he is thank you. He has a litter that inherits this malformation and so on till we have two variants of the squirrel. You start with Strong and healthy specimens of species, and you end up through time with the animals we have today. The modern ape species are weaker strains of the original ape for example. Makes sense to me! You agree that species can vary within their own kind however you dont agree on the idea of long term shifts. Consider such compounding shifts adding up over a long time, thats where evolution can manifest larger shifts.
You can see a small variation occuring, such as a species spreads into a cooler environment which proposes new challenges to them. The traits of those which survive are stored more like the animal grows from the information in the genetic sequence in their genetics and when they breed with the others which are surviving the new conditions the traits which provided them sucess continue in the next generation. However there is still random mutations and variations which offer new traits that are tested by the environment, and this means that subtle differences are tested in the battle for survival.
Over time these changes add up, such that after many generations, aspects of a species can change to be optimally suited to its environmental niche. You also seem to believe in a type of de-evolution, such changes which we may consider as de-evolution are still environmental induced changes over time that is also evolution.
You seem to actually already understand evolution and i am finding it hard to see why you choose to disagree with it. Do you believe that gibbons and gorillas are different species, descended from one species? If so, why do you put a limit on how much change can happen? Why a gorilla, a gibbon, and a chimpanzee but not a human? Much like if you were to copy the contents of a floppy disk over and over again, you are very likely to encounter copying errors that are then transferred again etc.
Say the contents of the floppy disk was a computer game, then the game would most likely still run with these initial errors in the code, but produce small anomalies such as graphical glitches. Likewise an animal with a copying error from its parents would perhaps materialize as a malformed claw for example, but not necessarily be massively detrimental to the animal.
A child born with a cleft lip is still going to survive, albeit with a slight handicap. Of course some copying errors, or mutations can have a beneficial outcome. Take for example a flying beetle that lives on a small island.
Due to environmental changes, there is now a very strong prevailing wind that sweeps across the island and threatens to wipe out the species as they are now all getting blown out to sea when they are flying. Along comes an offspring that is born with little to no wings, and thus cannot fly.
And yes, it will have to adapt for survival to life as a non-flying beetle. So, what type of animal could it be? One hypothesis is that it is a prehistoric man of some sort that has somehow managed to survive extinction, evade modern man, and lives in very inhospitable cold environments. You see, evolutionists have this tendency to avoid the topic of how the first organic cells came into existence on earth.
They usually say that, that topic is a whole other field of science that has little to no bearing on current evolution theory.
What will another century produce? What possibly in the known universe can make organic life from non-organic compounds. It takes more then water for life to appear. All scientists have observed, is life coming from life. The Bible has a coherent explanation for our existence. What on earth are people scared of? How terrifying and ultimately backwards for all humanity!!!
So if you believe that in a few thousand years, a single type of ape that could not live in the mountains where Gorillas live or possibly not in the places where Gibbons live, either way became two very separate types of well adapted apes that can live in either environment. This implies that you believe in a very fast rate of beneficial mutations, because Gibbons and Gorillas have completely different wrist joints and are not—as far as I can discover—genetically compatible.
Given this incredible rate of beneficial mutation, why do you put a limit on how far it can go? If some common ancestor could evolve into Gibbons and Gorillas, why not monkeys and apes?
Or to put it another way: I am human, and I do admit to my mistakes! Then Throw out the notion that GOD kicked the whole thing off. Have you done the math on that chance? And if you talk about aliens, then that just shifts the whole debate off world. It seems to me that the black-and-white position is yours: I tend to see the world in more shades than that.
These seem, to me, to be different claims entirely. In any case, if I understand you, you think that only genetically compatible species are descended from a common ancestor, and therefore do not believe is high rates of favorable mutation? If you look at it anatomically and genetically, Chihuahas and Wolves are much closer than Gorillas, Gibbons, Orangutans, and Chimpanzees. For example, the Gibbon has a specialized wrist joint that is missing in other Apes. No such structure differentiates Wolves and Dogs.
As most mutations do not directly benefit the host. An interesting thing about dog breeding, is that we have managed to breed the Bull dog. These dogs cannot copulate together without human help, and their young are birthed only via cesarean, as their heads are to big for the birth canal! But most likely that Gibbons and Chimpanzees do not share the same ancestor.
But there was obviously only the need for maybe a couple of dog types, as we know most dog varieties are genetically compatible. Likewise with us humans. So now that I know what you believe, young earth, no evolution dogs and wolves have the same number of teeth, bone structures, brains, etc. What would it take for you to change your mind? What would convince you that the earth was older than, say, 10, years? For one, a reliable accurate dating mechanism. Carbon dating is flawed. Case in point is the dinosaur skeleton that was discovered in USA Carbon dated at millions of years but with red blood cells present.
A paradox for conventional evolutionists. RT, the age of the earth is not established by carbon dating alone, but by a number of independent methods. You analogy seems skewed to me. Why would adjusting your theory based on current evidence be like adjusting evidence? It seems to me that this is the exact opposite of adjusting evidence. One particular quote on the T-Rex fossil:. I have placed my foundational belief in the Bible and I wholeheartedly believe in the historical accuracy of Genesis.
Modern Science is, and will continue to, prove the account written in the Bible. But you have to understand, that the Bible paints a BIG picture of events. This I strongly believe. I have read a lot of scientific material dis-reputing Creationism, and I of course have read scientific material validating it, and I presume by your comments that you to have conducted a high degree of research.
Now look at the facts. Christianity and along with it Creationism has been by and large rejected from all public schooling across the globe. I know it has been in my country. We New Zealand have declared ourselves a secular nation.
So my question is, what have you evolutionists to fear? The child who believes in GOD but is taught evolution, is going to have to choose one or the other. The two are incompatible. A lot of it relies on educated guesses and assumption. So, my point is, is it a wholly brilliant and wise thing to teach as FACT this theory? The inevitable outcome of this doctrine will manifest itself in our children who grow up believing that:.
There are no moral absolutes. For who has the authority and right to ultimately determine them? You are an animal. Just luckier with regards to the random chances that have occurred in evolution. Nothing is coming after it. WHO has the right to tell you otherwise and mess with that process? Homosexuality, Pornography, Promiscuity, Selfishness, etc etc. These are all natural tendencies of mankind.
So encourage your children to experiment with them to see what works for them. How many murders do young adults commit over there in America? And the great hope for evolution of the consciousness? So, where to now? More contesting, or be wholly satisfied with the validity of your belief system and debate no more. I asked you what would change your mind that the earth was several thousand years old.
You gave a response. I provided you with additional data showing that the age of the earth is not determined by one single method, but by agreement among methods. I asked you what you believe, and what it would take to change your mind. The earth is old, and the creatures on it evolved over time. Precisely how, by what specific mechanisms, these are theories. But evolution itself is a fact. Jesus said that it was better to be cold or hot then lukewarm. This was considered fact. Your facts are in constant flux, like your belief system.
How about debating the points I have brought up on the social outcomes of evolution? Or is that not relevant in this blog site. That fact proves beyond any doubt that we are getting physically less, as time goes on. And lo-and behold, it lines up perfectly with everything else in the universe. The downward trend is everywhere, look around you. You start out with pure genetic material, and as time goes on, mutations and copying errors reduce the purity of the material.
Stars burn through their fuel, energy is dissipated, matter degrades. It all makes perfect sense. And I mean something that has been witnessed by man and written down. Then like a politician he changed the topic. Tell me, what segment of the population fights and dies in wars? If you so absolutely scoff at the idea of things spiritual, then why have the many people groups that make up the worlds population never been originally atheist?
Iamges: carbon dating arguments against
Isotopic ages have been obtained for material from five landing sites on the moon--those of Apollo's 11, 12, 14, 15 and Luna 16; each site has a different age. Since we do not know whether or how much human judgment is influencing radiometric dating, a double blind study is most reasonable.
Pretty trivially, it has fewer points than the original post by Scott. With Dior, there is always that characteristic "cosmetic" feel, with their fragrances often being described as "heady" or "perfume-y. But excess argon is commonly invoked by geologists to explain dates that are too old, so I'm not inventing anything new.
You can advise us to rethink our preferences sure but will you? This is about one ten againsst of the mass of the rock, a very tiny percentage. The best explanation I could come up with is carbon dating arguments against But that does not carbon dating arguments against to be the case, at least especially on the geologic column. Seriously, though, I think the comparison to Jackson is a good one—know-nothing, populist borderer president with an unpolished personal style hated by the elites and definitely one of the better presidents for liberty and prosperity except, easy fast hookup you say, for Native Americans.
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