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Re: The Civil Heretic - Freeman Dyson - Profile - NYTimes.com
From: David Farber <dave () farber net>
Date: Sun, 29 Mar 2009 13:07:58 -0400
Begin forwarded message:
From: Mary Shaw <mary.shaw () gmail com>
Date: March 29, 2009 12:28:35 PM EDT
To: dave () farber net
Cc: ip <ip () v2 listbox com>
Subject: Re: [IP] Re: The Civil Heretic - Freeman Dyson - Profile -
Dave and Rahul,
I believe that nature is strong and resilient. But I don't believe
that nature has any particular bias in favor of the conditions that
Climate change is a large example. A small example is found on the
barrier islands off the US Carolina coast. In their natural form the
dissipate the force of ocean waves before the waves reach the
mainland, and in the course of doing so, they migrate back and forth.
As soon as humans put roads and buildings on such an island, we
convince ourselves that the natural condition of the island is to be
in the location where it was when we build the roads and buildings.
Nature does not share this assumption, and humans then engage in a
struggle to keep the island in place.
We see this also in spring flooding of the Mississippi River basin.
In its natural state, the river has (had) large fertile floodplains
that are periodically refreshed by the spring floods. When towns are
built beside the river, humans build levees to protect the towns (and
sometimes more extensive areas) from flooding. Each levee changes the
characteristics of the river, in ways that both increase flood levels
nearby and increase the speed of the river. Small wonder that we so
often hear of historic high flood levels -- climate change may be
affecting the amount of water in the flood, but the manipulation of
the river channel with levees and other structures has a much larger
effect on actual flood levels.
On Sun, Mar 29, 2009 at 8:43 AM, David Farber <dave () farber net> wrote:
From: Rahul Tongia <tongia () cmu edu>
Date: March 28, 2009 11:55:25 PM EDT
Re. climate change, where I am less of an expert than even Freeman
Dyson, my impression from discussions with expert is it's not
"warming" but the change if not disruption that is the issue. Even if
the average rise is only 1 degree, regions that experience much more
can be hurt, hard.
I think there is a fundamental issue of what some may call "arrogance"
- not the arrogance of models, modelers, science, scientists, etc.,
but the very idea that we can impact the world so severely means
humans are way too powerful, when one would think we are not.
Certainly nature is stronger and more resilient than we think.
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- Re: The Civil Heretic - Freeman Dyson - Profile - NYTimes.com David Farber (Mar 29)