Systems vs People
Belief systems have no theories, no hypotheses, no fact-checking, no experiments, and no system to test the accuracy of the beliefs contained in the belief system. Science on the other hand has no beliefs, no absolute truths, and no faith. A person can have moral values, understand the concept of fairness, natural justice, and empathy, all independent of either science or a belief system. In fact, for most people, theories, hypotheses, facts, experiments, testing accuracy, beliefs, absolute truths, faith, moral values, fairness, natural justice, and empathy are all mixed up together. Add to that our many other physical abilities, experiences, learned information, and cultural attitudes or behaviour patterns and that is the incredible porridge of what makes us who we are and shapes what we believe and think to be true.
Climate change is a fascinating topic from a wide range of perspectives, not the least of which is that if the current hypotheses about global warming turn out to be true, the current uncontrolled experiment in global terraforming could be extremely challenging for all of humankind in the centuries to come. In an earlier blog, I summarized some of the facts and controversy about global warming. If you refer to another earlier blog, however, you will notice that almost every country in the world has a government strategy, or is developing a strategy, on how to adapt to the global warming effects that are most likely to affect their country. In other words most governments accept global warming as a fact and are gearing up to adapt to it. The question in this blog is about anthropogenic global warming (AGW) and what people think about the idea that the global warming trend is actually caused by people, not nature.
Climate change is a relatively simple concept. Over the course of the planet’s history, the Earth’s temperature has risen and fallen many times. In the distant past, temperature extremes reflected geological changes of great magnitude, but in relatively recent times, the changes have been more moderate. In examining these charts it is important to recall that these are not actual measurements until we get into modern periods when we actually used thermometers and CO2 direct measurements. The charts of ancient times are based on indirect measurements of temperature, dust, and CO2. So while these are good indications, they are necessarily relatively approximate estimates of the real data at the time. For example in the past 500,000 years (relatively recent times), the temperature has ranged from about 8.5C colder than now to about 3C warmer than now. During that time there were four “ice ages” and five “warm” periods, the last warm period is the one we are in just now. During warm periods CO2 was high, about 250 to 280 parts per million (ppm). During the cold periods the CO2 concentration was about 150 to 220 ppm. At the same time dust in the air was up during cold periods, and down during warm periods.
This original graph is courtesy of Vostok-ice-core-petit.png: NOAA, and is a derivative work: Autopilot, to which I added the warm cold text and graphic. The original data sets are available from: Noaa set #1, Noaa set #2, and Noaa set #3
Capitalism is an economic system, not a social system. Capitalism regards an employee as a cost, an expensive package of skills and energy, not a person. The cost of employees needs to be reduced as much as possible to increase profits. Capitalist owners monitor profits, and expectations of profits in the stock market based on their investments. Capitalist strategies control production and distribution to dominate the market. This domination trends to mega-corporations eliminating smaller businesses and corporations while reducing employee numbers or their wage levels as much as possible. The end-point has the unintended consequence of reducing the financially capable consumer base to just those who own capital, or who manage to maintain an entrepreneurial business against the competitive pressures of capitalist giants. Everyone else is a low-paid employee or unemployed and not able to purchase many products or services. On a world scale capitalism has not reached this point yet, so has not yet had to adapt to the end point of the trend. Instead it has moved to global markets and employee bases to delay that inevitable end point of capitalist strategies that necessarily omit people from the equation.
No one would question the fact that economic systems have planning within them and that successful business ventures have elaborate planning often right down to the tiniest percentage of a market share point and how to capture it. But is the system itself planned?
Consider the same question from a biological perspective. Is an ecosystem planned or spontaneous? Is the evolution of biological organisms planned or spontaneous? How might one frame this as a question that can be tested? For example in a planned system one should be able to describe the outcomes. The outcome of natural evolution is biological organisms that can be broadly grouped into species, genera, families and so on. The outcome of ecosystems is individual and species associations and relationships into patterns depending on their interactions. Those are the forms of the results. In each case a conceptually simple process of elimination based on how well the fit is to the conditions. In the case of evolution, the selection takes place at the genetic level and is expressed at the individual level. In the case of the ecosystem, selection takes place at the individual level and is expressed at the species level.
Who Are We Talking About
In a modern society, are we collectively responsible to make sure no one starves to death, freezes to death, or is denied access to life-saving medical treatment? To be sure every society has great people, good people, average people, not-so-good people and some downright criminal people. Any of these categories of people can be rich or poor, employed or unemployed. But society also has people who are ill, wounded, starving, weak, mentally ill or lacking in capacity, or just unable to fit into normal society. Many of these people cannot take care of themselves, and hidden among them are those that choose not to take care of themselves.
To take care of people other than ourselves, we must make sacrifices. These can be in the form of time and effort, or as donations of money. These sacrifices are a drain on our own economic well-being, and of the entire state’s well-being. How altruistic are we and our governing bodies?