Monday, January 7, 2019

Limits To Growth - What did it Really say? (Ugo Bardi)

A couple days ago I stumbled on AEI’s Mark J. Perry’s April 21st article (yet another regurgitation of Ronald Bailey’s imaginative 2000 Political PR con job) titled: 18 spectacularly wrong predictions made around the time of first Earth Day in 1970, expect more this year.”  This “18” attack campaign is related to malicious attacks on the book The Limits of Growth.  Ugo Bardi who has spent many years studying "The Limits to Growth” points out Bailey ignored the facts of the matter:
“In 1993 Bailey reiterated his accusations in the book titled “Ecoscam.” This time, he could state that none of the predictions of the 1972 Limits study had turned out to be correct.  Of course, Bailey’s accusations are just plain wrong. …”
“Reducing The Limits of Growth, a book of more than a hundred pages, to a few numbers is not the only fault of Bailey's criticism. The fact is that none of the numbers he had selected was a prediction and nowhere in the book was it stated that these numbers were supposed to be read as such. Table 4 was there only to illustrate the effect of a hypothetical continued exponential growth on the exploitation of mineral resources. Even without bothering to read the whole book, the text of chapter 2 clearly stated that continued exponential growth was not to be expected
The rest of the book, then, showed various scenarios of economic collapse that in no case took place before the first decades of 21st century.
Below I share links and quotes from Ugo Bardi’s series looking at the Limits To Growth book and project.  Here you’ll find the other side of the malicious bullshit the right wing PR monster has plastered all over the internet about LTG.
Bailey and Perry provide textbook examples of how ridicule, deception and fraud are the basic tools of choice in the GOP’s propaganda war against learning about our planet’s physical reality, I am working on a dissection and commentary, but it seems important to start with the facts.
Please understand, since I took part in the first Earth Day events as a high school freshman and I'm among those who love Earth sciences, I read Limits To Growth, now I’ve watched a half century get squandered, so it’s personal.  Admittedly, I skipped much in LTG that was over my head, but lets face it, you don’t need to understand the modeling and statistical minutia to appreciate the fundamental unavoidable situation being explained.  It was reducible to simple real life budgeting dilemmas and made all the sense in the world.  If you read it with good faith curiosity.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGzahJxZBoY
To me it didn’t matter if D-day was 40 or 60 or 100 years aways, it was obvious that we were heading toward destroying the biosphere we depend on for everything. 
The Writing was being written on our wall, loud and clear and all thinking people alive at that time learned about that new reality.  We learned that the only control humanity and society possessed, was over the speed of the changes and how much time we could buy ourselves for mitigation and adaptation before impacts became overwhelmingly catastrophic.  Then most forgot it and returned to 'Hollyworld' and business as usual.  That will have real world consequences.
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Cassandras
Ugo Bardi's blog

What is most impressive in the recent world events is not so much that the authors of "The Limits to Growth" may have predicted with incredible accuracy in 1972 the start of the decline of the world's economic system, evidenced today by the financial crisis. After all, they presented several scenarios with different results. That the "base case" scenario, the one they deemed the most likely on the basis of the available data, may turn out to be right is impressive, yes, but it may have been also a bit of luck.
It is not even so impressive that "The Limits to Growth" was criticized, demonized and ridiculed in every possible way before being consigned to the dustbin of the wrong scientific theories. After all, in 1972 it was difficult to believe that it could be possible to foresee a crisis that was to occur 40 years in the future.
No, what is really impressive is that in the newspapers, in TV, or in the speeches of those who can take decisions, no one is asking what is happening and why.  (August 14, 2011)
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A Case Study in the Demonization of Inconvenient Truths
September 16, 2011 | FinancialSense.com
By Ugo Bardi | Professor of Chemistry, Analyst, University of Florence, Italy

Monday, December 31, 2018

f) Considering the Missing Key to Stephen Gould’s “Nonoverlapping Magisteria”

... and this one was the climax of my journey.  Doesn't matter much that few seem to get it or care, this one is my gem.  The culmination of my heroic introspective journey.  See, I was a genuine darma bum, as a young man I threw myself to experiencing life and the road, the wind and my own wits.  Been able to walk in many shoes for a distance, known many beautiful people and have enjoyed many wonderful discussions, seen many ups and downs.  Back in those 70s, 80s our country wasn't so scared and angry.  Being of poor but healthy honest stock people hired me, so I had opportunities to work many diverse jobs and live many experiences over the succeeding decades.    Considering the odds I've had a great ride.  

I'm a bonafide student of the University of Life you could say.  Among my early professors were a parade of enthusiastic research librarians before the days of personal computers.   Next to living, there was keeping up on science news and proactively researching things that interested me and since understanding myself and the entire Earth and her story interested me, it's been a busy life.  I dare say I've been attentive to every day, good and bad.  These days I'd label myself an Earth Centrist and I've accumulated some deep understanding.  Here I was finally able to summarize it in a way that feels complete and that opens whole new vistas for me.  I fancy this my U of L Master's Thesis.    ;- )
(Evening Jan 1, 2019:  Spent many hours today reviewing this 6 post collection and making final changes, then more final adjustments, plus adding some closing observations at the end of this piece.  I do believe this annotated collection is now finished.   
Happy New Year to you and best wishes, cc.)
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The Missing Key to Stephen Gould’s
“Nonoverlapping Magisteria”

“… missing was a much more fundamental division crying out for recognition.  Specifically,                                        
the magisteria of Physical Reality vs the magisteria of our Human Mindscape. …”
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The increasingly shrill and disconnected from physical reality attacks on science by faith-based organizations and individuals has me thinking about an essay evolutionary biologist and historian of science Stephen J. Gould wrote some twenty years ago in an attempt to address the tension between scientific truths and religious truths.
His solution was the notion of “Non-overlapping Magisteria” which delineated two teaching “authorities” (magisterium), the “magisteria of science” and the “magisteria of religion.” It wasn’t his original idea, rather a continuation of a centuries old dialogue between scientists and the Catholic Church that I don’t have the space to get into.
In any event, Gould concluded there should be no conflict because each realm has its’ own domain of “teaching authority.” Since these “magisteria” do not overlap, they cannot contradict each other and should be able to exist in mutual respect.
When it first came out

e) Map v Territory Problem, Statistical Certainty vs Geophysical Realities

. . . since New Year's Eve is upon us, I feel like collecting some of my favorite essays in an effort to summarize my perspective.  
Here are explanatory highlights from two articles that seemed to totally piss off the big boys.  'How dare a street urchin insinuate himself into their discussion,'  is the message I received loud and clear.  Well I dared because I thought the academic system was about increasing understanding, discussing ideas, finding and nurturing talent, but I've come to realize all those romantic notions belong to earlier more innocent days, back when principles and morality meant something and before the drive for profits and prominence dominated as it does today.  We live and learn.
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I share the key excerpts from two previous articles that look at a couple climate science communication pitfalls that are important and need much more open discussion.  At least if we're concerned with translating science speak into regular people speak.  The "Map v Territory Problem' and 'Statistical Certainty vs Geophysical Realities.'

Exploring the Map v Territory Problem - 
via the Brown Ocean Effect and Dr. Trenberth

Colorado Floods - statistical certainty vs geophysical realities - 2013

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Exploring the Map v Territory Problem - via the Brown Ocean Effect and Dr. Trenberth

On November 9th, 2017 Dr. Trenberth visited our local Fort Lewis College and was the featured speaker at an afternoon climate change symposium.  

A Distinguished Senior Scientist (in the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research), he is a cartographer if you will.  His entire being is about getting the science, the models, the map, as close to representing reality as resources and ability allow.  This dedication has made him among the best in his field of climate studies.  

As a self-taught Earth and climate science enthusiast I’ve been familiar with his work for decades and have learned a great deal from his articles and in past years talks on YouTube and I was glad to finally have the chance to see and hear him in person. …

Sunday, December 30, 2018

d) Considering our dysfunctional public dialogue in 14 verses.

2018 was the climax of a decade long crescendo in my decades long effort to network with rationalists, scientists and science communicators, in what I fancied was our communal struggle to confront the nonsense that corporate funded science contrarians and select politicians were so successfully peddling to an under-informed and mostly disinterested public - and since New Year's Eve is upon us, I feel like collecting some of my favorite posts in another effort to summarize my perspective.  
This is the flip-side of my flier for the Democratic State Convention, it's a list of various important aspects of climate science communication along with key pit-falls and observations, in 14 verses.
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1)  Uncertainties vs. known Physical Certainties

It is a disservice to constantly allow trivial uncertainties to become the focal point of the public discussion.

In real life when we get mired or overwhelmed by increasingly complex situations, we stop, back off a little, get reoriented with the big picture, reacquaint ourselves with what we do know for certain, then move forward again.  

I’m not saying ignore uncertainties!  I’m saying keep reminding us of the overriding fundamental certainties!  Thus putting contrarian trivial pursuits into real world perspective.
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2)  Map vs. Territory Problem

Scientists are Cartographers mapping out the geophysical realities of our planet, the Territory if you will.  They do the best they can with the data they have available.

Too often we get trapped into assuming that until our scientists can define all aspects with statistical certainty, we should assume it's okay to ignore.  
That's getting lost on the Map and forgetting we exist within the Territory.  
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3)  Sloppy usage of “Natural Variability”

c) Intellectually Confronting Faith-Based thinking and Dogma Driven Deceptions

Why not challenge people to realize no human has ever been born capable of understanding the true “God Almighty of Light and Time, Creation and Love” ?

( 2018 was the climax of a decade long crescendo in my decades long effort to network with rationalists, scientists and science communicators, in what I fancied was our communal struggle to confront the dishonest nonsense that corporate funded science contrarians and select politicians were so successfully peddling to an under-informed and mostly disinterested public - and since New Year's Eve is upon us, I feel like collecting some of my favorite essays in an effort to summarize my perspective.  
This is half of a flier that I circulated at the Colorado Democratic Assembly and Convention and where I did my best to summarize a challenge to confront faith-based thinking and dogma driven deceptions - along with some retrospective at the end. )
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The Memes Courier
    Colorado Democratic Assembly -  April 13, 2018  
      
Intellectually Confronting Faith-Based thinking and Dogma Driven Deceptions.


The opposing sides: Children of the Intellectual Enlightenment vs Faith-based dogmatism spearheaded by the evangelical movement (driven by wannabe oligarchs).  Winning at the polls is only half our challenge when well over a third of our country fully supports this amoral president and his white supremest bullying and his attacks upon our government and democratic institutions.  
Beyond winning in the 2018 elections, we need to nurture a massive grassroots movement of informed and engaged voters who are willing to confront faith-based delusional thinking on an individual level, while also standing behind those we elect to make sure they get their jobs done.
Faith-based thinking demands a rejection of serious science along with hostility towards learning from down to Earth evidence.  This attitude is enabled and reinforced by a constant flow of contrived high pitched fear-mongering and paranoid machinations towards “the other” be it different people or ideas.
Why have we allowed their religion and God a free pass?

b) Saying No To Reality. Questioning the Geologic Column.

Since, 2018 was the climax of a decade long crescendo in my decades long effort to network with rationalists, scientists and science communicators, in what I fancied was our communal struggle to confront the nonsense that corporate funded science contrarians and select politicians were so successfully peddling to an under-informed and mostly disinterested public - and since New Year's Eve is upon us, I'm collecting some of my favorite essays in an effort to summarize my perspective.  
Here's another look at the importance of understanding evolutionary reality.
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The following appears in the July issue of the Four Corners Free Press
Working title was: Explaining the Geologic Column to the Faith Blinded Psalm1Tree. 

Colorado's Grand Staircase's Geologic Column - Wayne Ranney
(click on image for a better view)

https://earthly-musings.blogspot.com/2013/08/ancient-landscapes-of-colorado-plateau.html
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Recently, I was minding my own business listening to a fascinating talk on YouTube titled, “Rooted in Earth History: the Devonian transition to a forested planet.”  It was about strategies that Earth’s first ground-hugging plants adapted to escape the confines of Earth’s surface.  They did this in order to reach closer to our sun and further away from plant-eaters. 

This led to Earth’s first forests, which in turn led to an explosion of new environmental niches for life to radiate into. 

I learned some fascinating details regarding questions I’d been wondering about for a long time.  The lecture increased my understanding of evolution on this fantastic planet of ours, which has been a lifelong passion for me.

But my pleasant reverie was shattered by a YouTube comment that blind-sided me.  One ‘Psalm1Tree’ wrote in all seriousness: 

“There never was a Devonian period, just as there never was a Cambrian, Jurassic, Triassic etc. period. That's because there never was a Geologic Column. That is a 19th century construct that has no data whatsoever to support it.”

Besides avoiding the topic of the video, the comment is such an ignorant statement on so many levels that most who know anything about geology and evolution would simply clamp on the head-vise and back away. 

Unfortunately, decades of ignoring such belligerent ignorance about important aspects of our life and planet have led to its becoming so insidious and commonplace that our government is controlled by Republicans who disregard obvious physical realities on personal whim.   Justified only by a hubristic conceit that they are doing “God’s duty,” they are in fact all about pursuing their own EGO’s bidding.

I decided to engage Psalm with a short video that rationally explains what the geologic column is all about.  Then came my second shock.

a) Who says understanding Earth’s Evolution is irrelevant? 2018

2018 was the climax of a decade long crescendo in my decades long effort to network with rationalists, scientists and science communicators, in what I fancied was our communal struggle to confront the mischief that corporate funded science contrarians and select politicians were so successfully peddling to an under-informed and mostly disinterested public - and since New Year's Eve is upon us, I feel like collecting some of my favorite essays in an effort to summarize my perspective.  
I'll start with a Dec 2, 2017 introductory post at ConfrontingScienceContrarians  followed by some retrospective. 
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... Sadly all too many.  

I often hear people, not just the religious with their paper thin understanding, but educated rational people who superficially accept the notion of evolution, - (but who've spent little time absorbing what Earth's pageant of evolution has been all about) - dismissing the need to learn anything about it.  As if learning how to make money and survive in our modern society is all that matters to understanding our place in the world.

This disregard has led to a general apathy that I can't for the life of me comprehend.  Especially considering what an amazingly beautiful, complex, mysterious and absolutely relevant story it is.