Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Oh, good heavens

There are moments in Pretty Lady's life where she comes smack up against one of the more unfortunate aspects of Human Nature, and is Appalled. She seems to see Neurosis and Superstition in all its chaotic, solipsistic muddle, with a crystalline clarity that staggers her, and leaves her momentarily speechless.

She is speaking, of course, about the tendency of humans to believe that they can control the weather, by judicious choice of dishwashing detergent.

Friends, this is not a single, isolated instance of OCD. It is a Movement. Hordes of persons are writing in, even as we speak, to contribute their own serious notions regarding the issue of weather control by detergent selection.

To her, this is evidence that our educational system has completely, but completely, failed us. Schools no longer appear to be teaching basic mathematics. What part of 'one part per six point seven billion' do these people fail to understand? Do they honestly believe that their one-six point seven billionth non-contribution of phosphate or chlorination to the terrestrial environment will be the butterfly wing that tips the balance, that causes the glacier to retreat or the hurricane to subside? To say nothing of the fact that the phosphates and the chlorine were ALREADY THERE TO BEGIN WITH?

Furthermore her hero, her old buddy Cary, has failed her. Cary suggests that instead of focusing on weather control by detergent, Good Citizens everywhere ought to re-direct their energies toward weather control by Politics. That is, in extending their own neurosis forcibly worldwide.

Pretty Lady has made her opinions upon Global Warming very clear; she is convinced, by disinterested and retired scientific authority, that Global Warming is Not So. One has only to look at the graphs, so thoughtfully produced by the reigning Scientific Establishment. These graphs demonstrate an exponential rate of climate change, caused by the burning of fossil fuels, occurring in the years after which, by their own account, there will no longer be any fossil fuels to burn.

(If anyone wishes to engage in a private discussion with an expert on the subject, please contact Pretty Lady personally and she will provide you with her Daddy's email address. Dear Daddy, being linearly-minded, has been too preoccupied with his researches to get a website up and running.)

No, to Pretty Lady's jaundiced eye, the whole international Global Warming flap smacks of Lies and Corruption. And where there are Lies, in Pretty Lady's experience, there is Evil.

The question then becomes, where is the Evil coming from? Whose agenda do these lies benefit?

This is an open question; wiser heads than Pretty Lady's may speculate upon it. What has distracted Pretty Lady's pretty head at the moment is that 'world population' figure she so casually referred to above. It triggered a sort of connection--many of those neurotic dishwashing persons testified to a sort of tangential concern about planetary overpopulation, she seems to recall.

Pretty Lady, shockingly, is not greatly concerned about this issue, either. For it strikes her that the best way to curb global overpopulation would be to kill everybody, and global populations seem to be moving right along with this task, judging by the news reports that penetrate her sanctum with distressing frequency.

No, what truly concerns Pretty Lady is a lack of Love in the world. For if one truly loves oneself, one will treat oneself well; one will not utilize toxic substances in one's home with determined regularity, or dump noxious fumes into one's air. If one truly loves others, one will stop and smile, wish them a good day, and listen to their personal concerns, before moving to either control or murder them. And if one loves one's planet, one will plant a garden.

Because it came to Pretty Lady's ears, through the radio the other day, that somebody has actually offered a large reward to the scientist that comes up with a mechanism for removing greenhouse gases from the air. And Pretty Lady has done so. Plants! Plants remove greenhouse gases from the air! Greenhouse gases are splendid for plants! That's why they're called 'greenhouse gases'! What an ingenious thing!

Pretty Lady can't wait to get started.


EN said...

I recently had the experience of listening to a woman rant on and on about the idiocy and repression derived from this country's early Calvinist traditions. She seems to have missed the irony that 200 years from now many will sit around and discuss her Green lunacy with exactly the same amount of incomprehension and derision she reserves for the Calvinists.

Desert Cat said...

An even more powerful engine of CO2 removal and O2 regeneration is phytoplankton. Far more than trees or even grass, the growth of phytoplankton in the world's oceans creates a tremendous CO2 sink.

It has the following advantage over terrestrial plants in that, unlike terrestrial plants that decompose after dying, releasing their stored CO2, plankton sink to the bottom of the ocean when they die, carrying their carbon load with them. In addition to the organic carbon in their cells, they combine calcium with CO2 to create their calcium carbonate outer shells. This bound carbon is not easily released to either the atmosphere or to the oceans, but sinks to the bottom as sediments that eventually become limestone and mudstone.

In much of the ocean the growth of phytoplankton is limited by the absence of sufficient iron in the water. By simply fertilizing the oceans with trace amounts of iron, this natural carbon sink mechanism can be accelerated.

Chris Rywalt said...

Desert Cat, there was a really interesting article in a recent New Yorker regarding CO2 absorption by the world's oceans, and how the change in pH is actually wiping out the many, many organisms that bind carbon in the ocean. Particularly badly hit are corals, and considering how important reefs are to the web of life in the ocean, things are looking grim.

So never mind the iron; we need to dump a whole lot of baking soda in the ocean.

And, while I'm here: EN, never underestimate the amount of idiocy and repression derived from America's earl Calvinist traditions. I think the U.S. is still overwhelmingly Calvinist, only instead of God's grace, our worth is now measured by yearly income. One makes money by providing a valuable service; and how do you know what service is valuable? Why, by how much money you can make at it!

EN said...

"the U.S. is still overwhelmingly Calvinist, only instead of God's grace, our worth is now measured by yearly income.

Then how does this explain the same definitions being used in China and most of Asia, not to mention Eastern Europe. I think you're talking about a universal constant, although it only carries so far. My lack of money hasn't lessened the respect I receive from friends and acquaintances, quite the contrary. It's not even hurt my ability to get laid in the short term. The only real difference it seems to make is in my ability to attract a long term mate... and get that big screen I'm dying for. My lack of cash is a good reason to not see me as suitable long term material, so even there I don't see it as Calvinist, just good sense.

Chris Rywalt said...

I don't think Asia joining the free market makes them Calvinist. It's not just capitalism, but America's particular way of implementing capitalism, which is Calvinist.

Also, many countries are joining the market following models like the Washington Consensus, which is, as the name implies, American, and therefore contains Calvinist elements.

All of which I'm going to leave hanging with no proof whatsoever because right now I'm typing on a laptop balanced on one knee while trying to get my son to do his homework.

Crom said...

It seems I have finally figured out commenting on my blog.

Gardening is something else on my list of skills to acquire, but more for the food-production/savings aspect - and for the simple fact that I love fresh tomatoes about as much as I do oxygen.

I have posted over at the Voxery about my belief that the global warming agenda is simply greed and robbery writ large, and that the only ones who benefit from the steps taken to curtail greenhouse gases are in fact the same ones who are the worst polluters - China, Brazil etc.

I for one love cold weather, so I am fully in favor of global cooling which sadly didn't get the same run in the media that warming does, so they switched tactics and went with the warming aspect since cooling did not sell magazines and newspapers.

As for Calvinism in economics, the smart thing has always been to emulate the successful. Since it has been repeatedly proven that capitalism seems to provide the best chances for wealth acquisition, and that the United States holds the highest standard of living in the world - even our poorest citizens have color television and gorge on Twinkies and frozen pizzas - it stands to reason that others would want to get in on the action.

prettylady said...

I don't think Asia joining the free market makes them Calvinist.

Hiroko was just here, and she mentioned off-handedly that the Chinese equate 'happiness' with 'wealth.' They always have a sign for 'wealth' among their kitschy depictions of birdies and kitties and flowers, whenever they're celebrating something. They also palm nickels and dimes whenever you buy something from them in Chinatown. I know this from long personal experience.

I for one love cold weather, so I am fully in favor of global cooling

It's snowing, here. Have fun in Texas. Nanny-nanny boo-boo.

Chris Rywalt said...

PL sez:
Hiroko was just here, and she mentioned off-handedly that the Chinese equate 'happiness' with 'wealth.'

Hiroko is Japanese, and we all know how well the Chinese and the Japanese get along. So I wouldn't take her word for it.

China is a very big country with a lot of people in it. Remember that while the merchants in Chinatown may palm nickels the Chinese are also the people who invented Zen (although Zen is the Japanese word for it).

Desert Cat said...

Chris, baking soda is sodium bicarbonate, and bicarbonate is H2CO3. H2CO3 is created when CO2 dissolves in H2O, but exists in solution as HCO3- or CO3(2-) ions. Stretching my brain back to my water chemistry classes, I recall that the relative abundance of the species will determine whether it attempts to buffer pH around one value or another.

Since we want the ocean to absorb CO2 from the atmosphere, I'm not at all sure that dumping loads of it into the ocean, in the form of bicarbonate, will yield the effect we're after.

On the other hand, a phytoplankton bloom has the effect of absorbing large quantities of CO2 from the ocean waters. Because CO2 exists in solution in one form as carbonic acid (CO3-), this raises the pH locally. Here is a quote from Wikipedia that sums it up well:
Besides recharging the marine food chain, iron-catalyzed plankton restoration could help reduce ocean surface acidification that has increased tenfold in the last two decades threatening the integrity of diatoms, foraminifera, coral and other creatures with acid-vulnerable carbonate skeletons. (Rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide increase concentrations of carbonic acid in surface waters, but phytoplankton blooms absorb large volumes of CO2 during photosynthesis and help buffer the acidity.)

So you're on the right track, but you actually want to create a carbon deficit in the ocean to *both* raise the pH (benefitting marine organisms) and to absorb additional carbon from the atmosphere. And you do that by supplying the missing nutrient that phytoplankton need to do their work.

Desert Cat said...

Just to give you a sense of the scale of how such efforts would work, again from Wikipedia:

The Redfield ratio describes the relative molecular concentrations of critical nutrients in plankton biomass and is conventionally written "106 C: 16 N: 1 P." This expresses the fact that one molecule of phosphorus and 16 of nitrogen are required to fix 106 carbon molecules. Recent research has expanded this constant to "106 C: 16 N: 1 P: .001 Fe" signifying that in iron deficient conditions each molecular unit of iron can fix over 100,000 units of carbon or 367,000 units of CO2.

In "desolate" HNLC zones, therefore, small amounts of iron (measured in parts per trillion) delivered by either by the wind or a planned restoration program can trigger large responsive phytoplankton blooms. Recent marine trials confirm that one kilogram of fine iron particles can reliably generate well over 100,000 kilograms of plankton biomass.
Some ocean trials did indeed report remarkable results. According to IronEx II reports, their thousand kilogram iron contribution to the equatorial Pacific generated a carbonaceous biomass equivalent to one hundred full-grown redwoods within the first two weeks. Researchers on Wegener Institute's 2004 Eifex experiment recorded carbon dioxide to iron fixation ratios of nearly 300,000 to 1.

As one researcher once said, "Give me a half a tanker of iron and I will give you another ice age!"

Chris Rywalt said...

Desert Cat, you should read the article in the New Yorker, if you can find it, to put this all together. My brain is not capable of handling this much detail at this precise moment, mainly because of a protracted discussion happening on another blog. My neurons are all busy. And my stomach is upset.

This iron thing sounds very interesting. I'm always happy to be reminded that thousands of great minds are at work solving the world's problems. I mean that sincerely.

prettylady said...

The New Yorker article is right here.

It was one of those articles that I stopped reading halfway through because I Just Couldn't Deal. Thank you, Desert Cat, for restoring my fundamental optimism.

Desert Cat said...

Mhm. They certainly don't pose any solutions therein, do they?

Seems almost deliberately written to evoke despair, a la Soylent Green.

k said...

DC has a way with that, Pretty Lady.

However, he appears to be genuinely innocent of any awareness thereof.

Doom said...

Pretty Lady,

I must protest! This is really important. CO2, phosphates, chlorine and many other manmade contaminants are destroying the earth and killing off large groups of flora and fauna, which we can not replace. Our mines go too deep and pull out too much while contaminating the whole area. Lumbering has destroyed too much of the forests and damaged many species, some now saddly gone. I know the pressure we are putting on politics to enforce stricter rules is good. I know our personal choices might be helping. But I can think of one more thing we should all be doing. The world is tilting a bit to the left, so I propose that next Thursday we all lean to the right, in unison, to correct this matter.