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Re: The Civil Heretic - Freeman Dyson - Profile - NYTimes.com
From: David Farber <dave () farber net>
Date: Tue, 31 Mar 2009 14:57:28 -0400



Begin forwarded message:

From: Earle Jones <earle.jones () comcast net>
Date: March 31, 2009 2:13:59 PM EDT
To: dave () farber net
Cc: "ip" <ip () v2 listbox com>
Subject: Re: [IP] Re: The Civil Heretic - Freeman Dyson - Profile - NYTimes.com


On Mar 29, 2009, at 10:07 AM, David Farber wrote:



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 - NYTimes.com

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 humans prefer.

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.

Mary Shaw

*
Dave and Mary:

Second the motion! Read John McPhee's "Control of Nature" for a bone- chilling account of several of man's attempts to overcome what is eventually going to happen. The diversion of the Mississippi River into the Atchafalaya channel is one. Levees that were three feet high in 1940 are now 30 feet high and we're still losing. Read about the attempts to control volacanic lava flow in Iceland.

Closer to home, the San Gabriel mountains above Pasadena shake loose automobile-sized boulders that rattle down the mountain, taking out homes, etc. We build huge 'catch basins' to attempt to overcome nature here in the fastest growing mountain group in the world.

As they say, "Nature has the last at-bat."

earle
*
________________________
Earle Jones 
380 Conil Way
Portola Valley CA 94028
Home:  650-854-1489
Cell:  650-269-0035
earle.jones () comcast net





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