Heavenly bodies - oh the Joy of Certainty
- 5 Mar 07, 03:51 PM
Picture © Chris Sperring
The lunar eclipse as seen last Saturday night from Portishead in southern England at about 23.00 (GMT). The timing of this total lunar eclipse could be predicted with such accuracy - not just the first in 3 years, but to the minute on the day - such is our scientific grasp of our celestial neighbourhood.
Michael Portillo was, I think, having a go at David Cameron in the latest edition of The Sunday Times. Portillo was lyrically saying how hard it was to predict the weather, and so (to Cameron) don't assume sunny days today (good poll ratrings) mean sunny days in 2010 when the next general election could be. Portillo says, like the weather, you can't predict with accuracy that far head.
Isaac Newton was a genius. He brought to the world the fundamental laws of physics that govern much around us - he took out speculation and uncertainty, and allowed us to predict and design experiments. Newtonian principles supplied the precise predictions of the Earth, Sun and Moons orbits to allow us all to stand in the dead of night last saturday and watch the lunar eclipse. For most of us it was a clear night - ah ha, we can't predict the weather beyond 5 days or so with any meaningful accuracy because there are so many variables - some of the biggest computers in the world are devoted to coming up with our weather forecasts.
The latest report from the IPCC came up with a 90% certainty that climate change today was man-induced. Someone once told me that if you want to know the weather tomorrow, there's a 70% certainty it will be the same as today. There was 100% certainty of the event of a total lunar eclipse last Saturday. In Britain there's a 1:13million chance you'll win the Lotto jackpot by guessing all the numbers the computer comes up with - And millions gamble the chance every week.
European ski resorts all admit they have had a tough (warm) winter this year - And some spokespeople for the resorts say this isn't global warming, just a random event - they have happened before. This is not global warming. Some investors beg to differ - fearing global warming too great a certainty and what's more, people at the heart of causation - so no celestial reverse gear to shift. Who is right??
So, how do we place our bets for the future with climate change in the frame? There's a growing tide of opinion being picked up by the media that climate change and global warming are predictable cycles of heavenly bodies interacting and influencing each other. Many would argue I'm sure that these cycles are not as predictable as the total lunar eclipse...but nevertheless a high degree of certainty about the causes of global warming. And then, just like the weather, the bulk of public and scientific opinion that global warming is man-induced by our transfer of carbon deep in the earth to green house gases in our atmosphere. It's trajectory and impact predicted, rather like the daily weather forecast, using some of the planet sized brains alive today and even bigger computers to drive the models. The forecasts are gloomy, but are they accurate?
If you believe our planet warming is nothing what so ever to do with us, but you care about the natural world on which we all depend- then surely you should turn your guns to how this planet of ours is going to sustain the life on it. If you belong to the second camp, then dealing with the causes of global warming amounts to much the same thing.
As sure the Earth eclipsed the moon last saturday, we cannot flatten, drain, dig out and burn the earth at the rate we're doing and have a world fit to live in. We don't need Newton, Darwin - a pro or anti global warming scientist to tell us the obvious. We're trashing the Mother Earth and that is a cold reality.
Look below at my Monks are Cool entry....you dont have to be religious to suss out that others have a line on how to treat our surroundings and each other - Many have the solutions out there and we shouldn't feel that being secular means we should have a good look.