That’s what’s making the world a hotter place.

└ Tags: ,

Discussion (80)¬

  1. Massa says:

    It might be the first cartoon where both sides are wrong – AGW is giving an importance to mankind that we simply don’t have.
    Before the indignant responses flood in – I am an atheist engineer, libertarian and socially liberal. I simply don’t have time for pushes for control disguised as “settled science” (a contradiction in terms).

  2. Anonymous says:

    yeah, our most pressing problem in the world right now is people playing with their naughty parts in ways not approved of by illiterate bearded men in the middle ages.

    but wait, i thought islam had no homosexuality. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2007/sep/25/nohomosexualityhere

    i’m confused!

  3. jean-françois gauthier says:

    (forgot my name on the previous post.) @massa: what control are you referring to?

  4. I’m with Massa. Book:Technocracy Rising: The Trojan Horse Of Global Transformation https://www.technocracy.news/

  5. raymondm says:

    Mo’s just mad ’cause he’s not hot, like Jesus.

  6. Massa, I could agree that humans are full of themselves when it comes to their power over the natural world. I have to laugh when people talk about humans destroying the world. We might destroy our ability to live on this planet, but the earth will shrug us off like a bad cold. Still, we have managed to do an amazing amount of damage in the past to a variety of nice environments. For example, we are suspected of wiping out many species of megafauna (think giant sloth) in North America when we first arrived here, making it necessary to reintroduce the horse. I was on a beach in Mexico a few years back. It was black with industrial pollutants and littered with dead pelicans. We certainly can make a mess when we put our industrial strength to the task.

    No question that there are political and economic forces in play promoting (or opposing) the reality of AGW. Maybe it’s happening without our help. But it’s pretty obvious that global warming is happening. The actions proposed to combat the problem are not bad things in themselves, unless your income depends on fossil fuel sales of course. There’s something very attractive about clean energy.

  7. Jim Baerg says:

    Save the skiing
    Go nuclear

  8. Canfan says:

    Massa, do the calculation yourself. Any good high school chemistry student can get the annual coal, oil and gas figures off the net and prove that this is the source of most of the CO2. And we have known for 150 years that more CO2 means more heat retained.

  9. Anonymous says:


  10. cjsm says:

    Lordy – and the deniers come out of the woodwork. Nah, I’m not going to express my reasons for my opinion. I may have an engineering degree, but that does not make me an expert in climate science.

  11. two cents' worth says:

    Author, this one had me laughing out loud and banging my head against my desk at the same time. Talk about mixed emotions!

  12. Son of Glenner says:

    Author: Brilliant as usual! But (there’s always a but!) I had problems entering your comments facility. I just could not get into it at all for several hours, then suddenly everything slipped into place OK.

    It’s probably down to all that gay sex that also causes global warming.

    I’ve just realised that some of my remarks above could be interpreted as having double meanings. Sorry about that – quite unintentional!

  13. two cents' worth says:

    Anonymous, I don’t know about any associations between climate change and tsunamis, but I do know that tsunamis are triggered by under-water earthquakes. I also have heard that an increasing number of earthquakes on dry land are being caused by some practices used by the oil and natural gas industries. Switching to other sources of energy might not help prevent tsunamis. However, it could not only mitigate climate change, but also help reduce the risk of seismic activity on dry land. For more info., see https://www.forbes.com/sites/jamesconca/2016/09/07/the-connection-between-earthquakes-and-fracking/#62cbcae96d68 , https://www.pbs.org/newshour/science/earthquakes-triggered-by-fracking , and https://gizmodo.com/this-is-how-fracking-can-cause-earthquakes-1789096500 .

    Maybe someone else here in the Cock & Bull knows something about preventing/minimizing tsunamis.

    Anyway, life on Earth will survive with or without us, but we will, at best, be greatly inconvenienced if many of our houses end up under water and our agriculture systems can’t cope with new rainfall patterns and other climate-related changes. (See https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/10/181023130534.htm .) Not to mention health problems (mosquitoes, for example, will have a wider range), problems due to human migration, etc.

  14. MattR says:

    Author, this was a funny one, thank you.

    Deniers… why don’t you just F off back to your neoliberal bollocks. Personally I have zero skin-in-the-game so only care from an ethical perspective, but you’ll feel like Cs when the developing world is swimming your children’s way en masse. And a lot of those swimmers will be Muslim and Christian fundies btw.

  15. Deimos says:

    So gayness = global warming hmmm
    I wonder which sins caused the Maybot and austerity, Trump and everything, Islam and wars ?

    I think some form of league table of causes and effects is required, I need to know the mystical effects of my sinning to make informed choices.

  16. Son of Glenner says:

    Author: It’s happened again. I tried going to “previous” and back to “last” a few times, to no avail, then suddenly all was well once more.

    Techies: Any idea whether my problems are due to something wrong with Author’s server, or could the trouble be with my laptop?

    (I hope I’ve managed to avoid double entendres this time!)

  17. CliffB says:

    I cannot see the comments until I have gone to the previous cartoon and then returned via the ‘prev’ and ‘next’ buttons.

  18. CliffB says:

    ‘In order to halt global warming’,
    Some nutters have said, ‘stop performing
    Gay sex and lewd acts
    All the way to climax
    Especially by those non-conforming’.

  19. HelenaHandbasket says:

    Massa, you didn’t need to describe yourself that way. We knew from the anti-climate science that you were likely to be an engineer and a self-described “libertarian” (aka someone who thinks Ayn Rand is a philosopher.)
    The propensity for engineers to be right-leaning wingnuts (who think that they can think scientifically, but can’t) is so well-established that its a trope.
    It has a name (The Salem hypothesis) and the press (what you would doubtless sneeringly call the “MSM”) have been writing about it for years
    E.g https://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/jan/05/brain-food-terrorists-engineering
    So, you arent a free-thinking rebel–you are a cliche.

  20. M27Holts says:

    Could enough dry anal sex warm up the planet? Where is the proof?

  21. Tinkling Think says:

    The planet is not suffering from AGW as a punishment for any sort of sin, it is warming up because the horrible, evil sinners are dragging us all closer and closer to Hell by their sinning.

    Hell is hot. Fire is hot. Put your hand into a fire and your hand will warm up. Similarly, if you get dragged towards Hell your entire world will heat up.

    Simple physics. Simple, proven Science that every scientist since Newton and Carnot have agreed with and supported.

    Science backs the scientifically supported and proven knowledge that we must get rid of sin. Right now. Before we are all immolated in a conflagration of divine retribution by proximity to the Infernal Kingdom.

    Basic thermodynamics,Science itself proves that we must repent.

    Or, on the other hand, if you hate Winters, high heating bills, nasty white stuff all over the place, black ice killing people and bloody Christmas music in October, you could always sin some more to get more global warming.

    There is also the positive notion of having a vast theme park for casual tourism if we get close enough, so sinning more has loads of advantages.

    Though there are certain gods who might frown on that idea.

  22. Tinkling Think says:

    Son of Glenner, do you have cookies turned off? Third party ones? Do you have NoScript or a similar Java-Javascript killer turned on? Or an Advertisement blocker? Do you have any security or anti-spyware software attached t your browser?

    Which OS and which browser are you using? Could either, or both, be out of date?

    There are many reasons why browsers might display a page incorrectly.

  23. Son of Glenner says:

    Tinkling Think: Huh?

    What’s a cookie? What’s software? What’s a browser? I know what OS means – Ordnance Survey – but what does that have to do with my laptop?

    Like your spoof of Climate Change deniers, by the way.

  24. HelenaHandbasket says:

    The religious deniers dont irritate nearly as much as the “I understand science cos I’ve got a minor degree in a totally unrelated field, an ego the size of Texas, and a brain addled by Ayn Rand and all of this entitles me (somehow) to have an opinion on a field where multiply converging lines of evidence from disparate fields are all pointing the same damn way”
    For details check out Scott Adams blog or see Massa (above). They are cut from the same cloth.

  25. Tinkling Think says:

    Son of Glenner, “spoof”?

    And I apologise. I’m not well-versed in the language behind Linear B so I guess I shouldn’t have expected a random stranger to be as learned as some of us in the gooey bits and magic smoke inside laptops.

  26. postdoggerel says:

    can anyone help me confirm
    I’ll be boiled in a pot of my sperm
    I’ve been wondering awhile
    and it’s just not my style
    to project thus, it just makes me squirm

  27. Paddy says:

    @Massa (and others),

    Ok, so you don’t think human actions are to blame for the increasing average temperatures worldwide https://climate.nasa.gov/vital-signs/global-temperature/, or the consequent decline in arctic sea ice, antarctic sea ice, the antarctic ice cap, the greenland ice cap, or glaciers around the rest of the world, or the rise in sea levels, etc.

    You don’t think these changes are anything to do with the doubling in atmospheric CO2 concentration since the industrial revolution, or the continuing 0.5% annual rise https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_dioxide_in_Earth%27s_atmosphere.

    You think the climate scientists are wrong, in short. So what is responsible? If not the emissions produced by the actions of this planet’s 7.5 billion people, what else are you pinning this on?

  28. M27Holts says:

    Like I said. Friction. Stands to reason if you’re a complete religious fuckwit….

  29. Dr John the Wipper says:

    what else are you pinning this on?

    Firstly, SOME part of the warming IS by CO2, I admit.

    But let us put on some perspective.
    Sea level has risen over 100 METERS in the last (mere) 30000 years. That can hardly be because people started driving cars by then.
    There is pretty good evidence that CO2 level rise FOLLOWED temperature rise io the other way around.
    Looking back not over the past 100 years, but over 2000, it shows that temperatures have been falling roughly from 0 to 500, risen (to above current) from 600 to 1200, fallen sharply from 1250 to 1650, and rising since then.

    About CO2: more of it (and worse: SO2 as well) is released by any moderate volcano eruption than is released by humans each year.

    About global warming: more heat is retained by polar albedo reduction than by CO2 greenhousing. That reduction is mainly caused by fallout of very fine soot, (also mainly of human activity sources) esstronged by reduction of ice/snow area.

    Warming and cooling of earth through the millennia and eons is multy-periodic, some waves strengthening each other, sometimes dampeningas normal for any interfering waves. Caused by the imperfection of the strict fixedness of earth’s track around the sun, probably by the influence of the orbits of other planets.
    (The same can be seen on Mars. The growings and dwindlings of ITS polar dry-ice caps are hard to explain by human activity).

    Quite recently, only a couple of millennia ago, earth has gone through the (last of a series of) ice-age. The VAST amounts of coal and oil testify of REALLY warm ages.

    In short: climat IS change. Always has been, always will be. Human influence cannot be denied, but is VERY insignificant. Anything else is a gross exaggeration of human importance.

  30. Anonymous says:

    Dr John the Wipper said:

    ‘The VAST amounts of coal and oil testify of REALLY warm ages.’

    They do but those coal deposits were laid down at a time when the continents were in entirely different positions on the globe, the atmosphere’s composition was very different (35% oxygen), and they are of essentially tropical origin.

  31. Edward Haines says:

    All this discussion about the cause of global climate change. We need only listen to our Congress members (after all, we select them for their intelligence do we not?) to learn the truth. One asserts most of it is due to the body warmth from excessive population growth. Another adds the impact of wind turbines interfering with free flow of wind flow in the atmosphere. Yet another asserts that it is due to the sun burning hotter and Earth getting closer to the sun. Of course, a couple toss in actions by their own chosen deity and reason that that deity is punishing us for what the Congress person believes to be sinful.
    After reviewing all the intelligent commentary from Congress members, I think I will sit on my back porch and drink a glass of Selby Malbec while smoking a cigar and contemplating the world I am leaving to my grand and great grandchildren.

  32. John B. Hodges says:

    (sigh) … I’ve heard one argument that the melting of glaciers and icecaps changes the distribution of weight on the Earth’s crust enough that it may trigger earthquakes, specifically off the west coast of South America. No Idea Sir! as to whether this argument is good.

    Back during the New Deal, the uppermost rich began donating to right-wing preachers, in an attempt to move the country (especially the working class) politically to the right. This has continued since, correlated with increasing success by the religious right. The post-Randian Libertarian right has been the particular beneficiary of the generosity of the Koch brothers, since the 1960’s.

    Global Warming has been predicted by climate scientists for many decades, and research by Exxon and it’s corporate predecessors confirmed that the scientists were doing straight science. What to do, about this potential threat to future profits? Exxon et. al. decided to follow the lead of the tobacco industry, and began a campaign of disinformation and doubt, seeking to delay anti-fossil-fuel legislation (taxes, regulation) as long as possible.

    I am disgusted by their success with the religious right, leveraging creationism into AGW denial via the story of the Great Flood and the rainbow. I am also disgusted but not surprised by their success with the libertarian right, who have adopted as their religion Rand’s narrative of a Manichean struggle between virtuous private businessmen and evil government power-seekers. That is the story they have adopted as their world-view, it seems they are unable to imagine that any other sort of story might be more accurate.

    I am even more thoroughly disgusted by those people who have adopted BOTH stories. I once heard a pure-hearted high school graduate declare her 100 percent belief and agreement with both the cover-to-cover inerrancy of the Bible AND the entire philosophy of Ayn Rand. I know enough of each to know that she has completely failed to understand either one. Hey, at her age I believed a lot of garbage also, but gee, who is teaching her this nonsense?

    There have been many civilizations in human history, and most have fallen sooner or later. One cause has been reliable: when the crops fail, the cities fall. Some have fallen because the irrigated soil accumulated salt and became infertile. Others fell because a fluctuation in the climate caused the winds to change, and the rains fell here instead of there for fifty years. Global Warming threatens to make the winds change all over the world, chaotically, not settling into a new steady pattern for hundreds of years. Countries may suffer civil unrest and intolerable numbers of refugees when agriculture becomes unreliable here, there, and everywhere. Democratic governments may be unable to cope and be replaced by fascist ones, and strongmen may begin to dream of conquest.

    Ultimately I fear that our human population (seven billion plus and still growing) may fall to a few tens of thousands, in fishing villages huddled around the Arctic and Antarctic oceans. And all of them, I’m sure, will be Christian Libertarians.

  33. HelenaHandbasket says:

    There has to be a name for the special kind of stupid that insists that global warming science is alarmist when the predicted effects are actually being measured in the here and now. But, hey–dont take my word for it–read what those pinko liberals in the Pentagon have to say about it

  34. HelenaHandbasket says:

    Turns out that there’s already a word for them: A Silly Cnut

  35. CliffB says:

    Is this website still on British Summer Time?

    Or are comments being posted in the future?

  36. Tinkling Think says:

    According to the U.K. M.O. the globe has had a temperature rise of 1 Celsius over the last century or so. There are other related pages linked under the main article link on the BBC’s front page.

    That is a poor attempt at man-driven warming. What we need are temperatures of +25C near dawns in December to February in England. We need more warming, much more. Thirty or forty Celsius more.

    Throw another tree on the barbie. Buy a bigger S.U.V. and use it more often. Tarmac over the parks and trees. We need more cows farting methane, more logs being turned into smoke and a hell of a lot more heating up.

    If the religious ones are right, we need more homo-sex, too. Lots more. We need to convert millions to homo-sex to help warm up our poor, freezing, Ice Age planet.

    You people are just not trying hard enough.

    Plug in, turn on, drive fast, breathe deeply. Help us Make Earth Carboniferous Again.

  37. Tinkling Think says:

    John B. Hodges, add to your list of falling City-cultures Carthage – who used to feed Rome and her Empire – whose crops failed when goats replaced sheep because the former were easier to feed, they didn’t require good fodder, goats will eat anything and everything even trees. The once-fertile top of Africa is now a rainless desert because of goats. No plants, no evaporation. No evaporation, no clouds, no rain and so the wind patterns change.

    Had the corporate bosses of Ancient Big Agriculture kept the sheep, there would now be no hunger in Africa and the rains would still come.

    The comic above illustrates a very important thing. The Barmaid apologises for being wrong, though she was, in that case, not so. In other issues she has even acknowledged her ignorance on certain topics with the three words no priest would ever utter: “I don’t know.”

    That is the fundamental difference between us and the zealots. We can accept not knowing and we can accept that occasionally we are wrong. They never will.

    The Barmaid is a far better person.

    Remember: MECA. MECA. M.E.C.A. Make Earth Carboniferous Again. We need to grow more coal and oil.

  38. Paddy says:

    @Dr John,

    The problem with the “last 2000 years” comparison is that we appear to currently be at a record global temperature for those last 2000 years, and still trending rapidly upwards: https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/global-warming/last-2000-years

    How much of that us albedo loss due to soot vs how much is CO2 increase may be debatable, but I don’t buy the whole comparison between human output and volcanoes. It doesn’t explain why atmospheric CO2 is ?ising year on year, and, in any event, annual human CO2 output is 500 times the size of annual volcanic CO2 output https://www.skepticalscience.com/volcanoes-and-global-warming.htm

  39. Paddy says:

    @John B Hodges and Tinkling Think,

    I fear it’s worth noting that after many years of progress in reducing world hunger, measured by the number of people undernourished worldwide year on year, there has sadly been an increase in the number undernourished for three years running between 2014 and 2017. Principally the increase has been in Africa, but there has also been a small increase in Latin America and a slowing down of improvements in Asia:

  40. Son of Glenner says:

    Paddy & others: World hunger is increasing because the global population is growing faster than global food production can increase to keep up with it. In fact, many of the world’s problems are due to human over-population. Whatever else about it, gay sex does not produce babies. Perhaps if there was more gay sex – a lot more gay sex – human over-population would decline and eventually reach sustainable levels.

    Copulation without population?

  41. Someone says:

    I saw John Barrowman in a TARDIS dress today, and besides being delightfully entertaining with his fans (going so far as to bump his ass on woman’s shoulder for being too nervous to ask him a question), he ended his Q&A with a song he wrote about celebrating marriage equality.

    Tomorrow it is going to be hot and stormy, with high UV and rainfall throughout the city.

    Could these events be linked?

    No, it’s spring in Australia, that’s just how the weather is. Fun to see Captain Jack, though.

  42. Dr John the Wipper says:

    The problem with the “last 2000 years” comparison is that we appear to currently be at a record global temperature for those last 2000 years,

    That, however, is NOT true. (at least, NOT in Europe, NOT in Greenland. Too little data for the rest of the globe)

    From ~ 800 to 1200, there was wine cultivation as far north as Denmark.
    There was sufficient agriculture in Greenland to sustain a decent population.
    After ~1200 climate cooled, up until the Little Ice Age, which peaked about 1650.

  43. Paddy says:

    @Son of Glenner,

    No doubt having about 80 million more mouths to feed each and every year from 1980 to the present day is a significant part of the problem, but there’s more to it than that:
    – Food waste is one part of the problem. Between 1/3 and 1/2 of all food produced worldwide goes to waste.
    – Climate change is disrupting harvests worldwide with new and unpredictable weather systems, increased drought, wildfire, flooding and heatwave events etc. Sea level rise meanwhile is creating water table salinisation and slowly eating into coastal growing land.
    – Typical diets in high income countries and increasingly in middle or low income countries are too high in meat, requiring about 10x the land and resources that veg would, and meat consumption also contributes to climate change. Many people are also overeating, contributing to obesity levels (though obesity itself is of course a significantly more complex problem than overeating alone).
    – Desertification is still an ongoing process worldwide, with an estimated annual loss of 12 million hectares of arable land each year
    – Water stress is also increasing in many countries with falling water tables from depleted groundwater reserves, and/or diminished rainfall plus increased run-off secondary to deforestation
    – War and conflict can disrupt the food supply of nations and create famine, as seen recently in the Yemen.
    – Financial speculation can drive food prices up unpredictably
    – Overfishing, marine pollution and ocean acidification have disrupted our ability to fish in a big way

    Global problems are seldom a matter of just one single factor.

  44. Paddy says:

    @Dr John,
    Re northerly wine production, I see your Denmark and raise you Norway today: https://vinepair.com/wine-blog/11-worlds-extreme-vineyards/

    Re Greenland: yes, Vikings briefly farmed cows and sheep on the southern tip. Today, not only are Greenlanders once again farming sheep and cattle (with an annual slaughter of 20,000 lambs, although in recent years sheep farmers have been struggling with drought, of all things https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/11/17/502349923/climate-change-is-making-greenland-warmer-but-farmers-there-are-struggling), they’re even growing strawberries.

  45. HelenaHandbasket says:

    Re “Human hunger is increasing and we are all going to die”
    Let’s get a grip shall we? Capitalism isn’t all bad. It is making the world a better place. Let Hans Rosling make believers out of you
    Does that mean that unrestricted greed and rapaciousness should be allowed full rein?
    Of course not. But–we critically need an educated and statistically informed populace. Not one prone to ego-driven conspiracy theories (Hi “Massa”); religious fundamentalist drivel (ad nauseam) or dreams of communist utopias (really guys, how big a pile of bodies before you finally admit that it doesn’t bloody well work?)

  46. Son of Glenner says:

    Paddy: You are of course right in your list of global food supply problems, and I could probably add others, but human over-population is a major contributory factor to some of the factors in your list.

  47. oldebabe says:

    I agree wholeheartedly w/Son of Glenner @ Nov. 3 – re: human overpopulation…

  48. Paddy says:


    I bloody love Hans Rosling’s videos. But sadly they predate the sad development that I was describing, with the number of people going hungry worldwide increasing year on year from 783.7 million in 2014 to 820.8 million in 2017 (see Fig 1 here http://www.fao.org/state-of-food-security-nutrition/en/), after years of previous improvement. Is this a blip caused by a couple of El Nino years, or is it the start of a longer reversal? I’m honestly not sure, but I think there are a lot of concerns to be aware of for the long term.

    By the way, who here was suggesting communism?

    @Son of Glenner,
    Yes, overpopulation does contribute to many other problems. However… we’re due to slow down on that front (here’s where I’d also be tempted to link to a Hans Rosling video). We could do with a slightly lower average fertility rate worldwide, certainly, and those few countries that still have high fertility rates could particularly stand to reap a demographic dividend by increasing the access their women have to education, employment and contraception (education most of all). But if fertility goes too low, that simply aggravates the counter issue of an aging population, and there are also a ton of other issues to address with our per capita consumption alongside how many capita we have.

  49. SmallVoice says:

    For every kilo of human on the planet we lose a few hundred kilos of other animal life and gain a boatload of plants to feed the humans. We also lose a container-ship load of once nice, wild plants that crops replace, so that aspect of Humanity’s rise may be considered a near-balance. More people, less other critter is obvious.

    Okay, it’s not a one:one relationship as humans also increase their chicken, cow, pig and pet mutant cat and warfarin-immune rat populations as replacements for passenger pigeons, bison and ground sloths but it’s a fairly straight line. More humans, fewer tigers.

    Which leads us to the science of thermodynamics. Apart from the releasing of CO2 from the burning of long-buried dinosaurs and tree ferns, humans are a nearly zero-sum game.

    Whether they engage in walking around eating chips or boffing each other in interesting ways, humans are just zebra-replacements. With delusions of importance.

    Human industry, on the other hand, is pouring gases into the air that have been stored for millions of years and heating up the planet by releasing formerly stored solar energy. It’s a pulse of excess sunlight, a temporary phenomenon. It is, effectively, as though the Sun has heated up a little for a few years.

    Add to this pulse of extra sunlight from the battery pack in oil and coal fields the fact that the air is getting less transparent, dirtier, darker, “greenhousier” a little and it is obvious that Man is affecting the planet.

    The only question is “how much?”

    And that is easily calculable. Just add our energy outputs from the once-stored solar power to the inputs from current solar flux, throw in the darkening of the atmospheric blanket and Man’s influence is not magic, just arithmetic.

    True, it is very complicated arithmetic and complex fluid dynamics and stuff that requires huge computers and multi-million lines-of-code models but that’s mere engineering.

    Humans affect the planet. Whether it is a small bit, a large bit, a terminally lethal bit we are not sure of but there are people trying to determine which.

    Meanwhile, having a little pause in the tree-fern burning might not be the worst idea we could have.

    Yes, it would mean still having Winters, Thinky, but is that really such a huge price for our children’s survival?

    Lots of us hate the cold but I’m fairly sure a few of us would hate Cytheroforming the only world we have a little more.

  50. Son of Glenner says:

    SmallVoice: “burning of long-buried dinosaurs”? Do you know what you are talking about?

  51. hackneymartian says:

    @ Ms Handbasket
    Alas for Cnut – everybody’s forgotten the point he was actually making, it seems. It’s kind of appropriate to the internet age that his deft irony goes by the board in favour of everyone else’s feeling that they know better.

    @ Massa
    “AGW is giving an importance to mankind that we simply don’t have.”
    Well, what we do have includes:
    – microplastics turning up in fish, insects, oceans, drinking water and human shit
    – macroplastics saturating the oceans
    – chemicals from the electronics industry (PCBs) in the fat of arctic animals (for decades now) and decimating their reproductive ability
    – ‘biological annihilation’ – the 6th mass extinction
    So the presumption that humankind can’t have planet-wide adverse effects looks out of touch, to me.

  52. SmallVoice says:

    SoG: “SmallVoice: “burning of long-buried dinosaurs”? Do you know what you are talking about?”

    Truthfully, yes, I do, a little. I was rather loose with the terminology as the bits in even late coal aren’t really Dinosauria but they are at least vaguely related and humans do burn them by big lots.

    Not that a slip of nomenclature would matter, anyway. It’s the Big Picture that is relevant. Humans are possibly warming the planet. Would it not be a nice idea to sit back, have a few beers and see if what has been done so far is going to give us a second Venus before we do irreparable damage? Even if the theory and the models aren’t entirely solid?

    Mr. Martian, yes, humans are tainting the planet. Their nukes have left radioactive residues everywhere, there is a layer of human-derived sediments (from light bulbs of various eras to tiny bits of MIR and Skylabs) on every ocean bed and even the Antarctic ices are dusted with bits of human tech’s debris. Meanwhile, the 6th Extinction event is at least partially man-made. Whether any of this matters in the long term is an interesting question.

    Earth was once a gigantic ice-world. A global ball of glacier for millions of years. Earth was once far warmer than it is today, with damp, high-oxygenated airs. Life seems to have survived both.

    There are models that predict AGW resulting in Venusian conditions in a couple of centuries if Man continues business as usual. That would rather put a dampener on any future Life as even roaches don’t like temperatures of 400C. Cytheroforming Earth would not be advantageous to corporations’ bottom lines.

    But that is only modelling. It hasn’t happened, yet. What Man has done so far, with a few temporary pollutants that will eventually over the longer terms be recycled by tectonics if by no other means and some extinctions may be survivable for Life in some forms. If Man doesn’t do much worse than we already have.

    Whether Man, himself, survives, thrives or dies off is a smaller issue, slightly important to Humans but perhaps moot in the “Big Picture” scales.

    However, I suspect this is all off-topic for “J&M”. The religious don’t really care whether Earth boils off. Earth, in religion, is only a way-station, a temporary lodging, a small, unimportant hotel where people are tested, graded, sorted into bunches by degrees of evilness in preparation for the really important block of time after Earth. In religion, at least the three main ones in the West, the Earth is trivial. AGW doesn’t matter.

    In religion, Earth is a board game and Cytheroforming it would only be the last move of the Terrestrials. It may even be The Ultimate Plan.

    Apart from killing off the planet forever, which is possibly within Man’s technological grasp, most of what Humanity does is temporary and fixable, over the very longest of time-scales. Unless we’re just following The Plan, in which case discussion may be moot.

    Yet fun. Humans are ever so interesting people.

  53. HaggisForBrains says:


  54. hackneymartian says:

    HaggisForBrains says:


    Good word! Cythera (modern Kithira, off the south tip of the Peloponnese) is the island where Aphrodite mythically rose from the waves. Hence her alternative name, Cytherea. The Romans called her Venus. So, turn a planet into a version of Venus.

  55. SmallVoice says:

    Yes, “Cytheroforming”, constructed the same way “Terraforming” was but referring to a different result by way of using a different planet as the prototypical example.

    I thought that it would be obvious from the context even were it not an “official” English word. Not that we have such things. Unlike the anally retentive French, we’re free to do evil stuff to our language should we feel like it. We can cofevfe our Mother Tongue any way we wish.

    Still, Mr. Brains is correct. I was wrong. What with that gratuitous neologism and the dinosaurs, I’ve utterly swamped out any small, trite, unoriginal message I might have had by my horrible lexical errors. A crime most heinous.

    I’m all sad, now.

    And it’s miserably pluvial out there.

  56. SmallVoice says:

    Random thought: if Kythira is modern for Venus, would that make the Antikythera device a remote for an Areoforming mechanism?

    Could the Ancients have left it as a prophylactic for our Cytherofrming tendencies? Or a clue leading to a repair strategy? Might the Voynich be a late recopy of the instruction manuals for our survival?

  57. HaggisForBrains says:

    Thanks, hm. A Google search brought out the connection, but not the neologism. I did find a link to an obscure (to me) science fiction work, The Thing Itself, the few pages I read of which did not convince me to go out and buy it.

  58. Xuuths says:

    HelenaHandbasket, it isn’t just engineers, but also software specialists who have severe Dunning-Kruger syndrome. They think by spending 10 minutes with Google that they somehow have the equivalent understanding/education of people who have many years of specialized education in a particular field. It is so incredibly laughable to everyone who isn’t a complete moron.

    Sadly, there aren’t required courses in college teaching “How to discern fact from fiction in Google searches” and “Google does not grant expertise”.

  59. Laripu says:

    While I have no education in climate science, I believe the scientific community.

    However, I think there may be a greater threat: plastics in the food chain. It’s known that many kinds of plastics are endocrine disruptors, making changes to people’s hormonal balance from birth on, via plastic containers of processed food. Worse, the amount of plastic in the ocean, entering the food chain, means that even if you eat fresh food, you’ll ingest plastic.

    If the religious right wants to reduce “sexual immorality”, maybe they ought to look to endocrine-disrupting plastics in the food chain before casting stones.


  60. Son of Glenner says:

    Laripu: How long before endocrine-disrupting microplastics make their way into “the body of Christ”, ie communion wafers? Perhaps they’re there already!

    Could such contamination increase the likelihood of a priest becoming attracted to children?

    Just a thought.

  61. two cents' worth says:

    HelenaHandbasket, thanks for introducing me to the term silly cnut. I have a feeling I’ll be using it often.

    I agree that we critically need an educated and statistically informed populace. Unfortunately, technology may encourage some people to try for “communist utopias” again, and they may actually create the “communist” part, if not the “utopia” part. Yesterday, I heard about this on the radio. The talk I heard is on the Web at https://www.npr.org/programs/ted-radio-hour/ . Scroll down to Yuval Noah Harari: Could Big Data Destroy Liberal Democracy?

    Technology can be used for good or evil. So far, we’ve managed to avoid total nuclear war. What do we need to do to prevent big data and artificial intelligence from eroding our freedom?

    Xuuths, the same radio program included a talk that touched on the dilution of knowledge. The talk is James Bridle: What Do Kids’ Videos on YouTube Reveal About the Internet’s Dark Side?, and the transcript is available at https://www.npr.org/templates/transcript/transcript.php?storyId=662612151 . If you find the first instance of talking, you’ll be at the start of the bit that I’m thinking of.

  62. two cents' worth says:

    For those intrigued by Paddy’s reference to a Hans Rosling video about population growth, you’ll find it here:

    And you’ll find a rebuttal here:

  63. HelenaHandbasket says:

    Thanks for the shares. I’ve just finished Harai’s book about Sapiens. I’m still assimilating it. My problem is not with this thesis, its that when he talks about stuff I actually know about he gets it wrong (e.g. thinking “evolved” = “hard wired” which is a pop psych level of wrong) and that makes me worry about the large amounts of stuff I dont know about. Is he equally wrong?
    I think (correct me if I’m wrong) Chomsky made this point about newspapers reporting on an event that you know about.
    They are usually wrong–which warrants you to assume that they are equally wrong on the other stuff…

    But yes, back to your point–there are people heavily emotionally invested in a Rousseau style golden age and therefore very upset that proportionately fewer people today are starving to death and killing one another. The comparative lack of disease troubles them too.

    This generalized improvement in the human condition annoys a lot of my friends in anthropology (those who find the invention of the wheel to be dangerously new-fangled) enormously. I suspect they are secretly happy that global warming will do us all in and return us to the stone age. Mind you–they could be right. I confess that there iwll be a certain satisfaction in watching Massa et al. submerged in it all…but its a brief victory.
    Then again…

    Xuuths. I’m sure you are right. In general, spending a lot of your working life around people who depend on you/ cant understand what you do can breed arrogance and ignorance in the right person. Teachers and doctors can suffer from it as well. Some good warning signs are
    1) Going on about your IQ
    2) Saying things like “as an engineer/ software desginer/ surgeon I believe” (code for “smart person therefore you can’t just turn round and call me an ignorant fool, even though I demonstrably behave like one every time I flap my mouth”)
    3) Endorsing conspiracy theories (“The Jews”, “The patriarchy”, “Libtards”, “Feminazis” or any other group of “them” who are secretly undermining it all). Humans aren’t that smart, aren’t that orgamised, and fractionate into separate interest groups who snitch on each other all the time.
    (Apart from the lizard people who secretly run it all, of course. They are really real. Fnord)

  64. HelenaHandbasket says:

    Paddy: Fair points, lets hope its not the start of a trend.
    There is some hope that the general trend is still in the right direction, e.g.
    But other factors are at play. For example, Massa et al. are happily dancing in the light of their burning bridges and are (presumably) perfectly happy to accomodate the refugees when parts of the world descend further into uninhabitable and unsustainable wastelands.

  65. M27Holts says:

    To be fair. The genotype isn’t hard wired. But the phenotype is….another subtlety that confuses even clever people…religious fookwits don’t stand a chance….

  66. HelenaHandbasket says:

    How do you mean “phenotypes are hard wired”? Phenotypic plasticity is quite common. Its hardly ever useful to talk of “hard-wiring”, especially when talking of instincts, which are better seen as computational modules. There are some fixed action patterns (like blinking) which could be seen as hard-wired, if someone really wants to insist on it. But I’d have to ask “why?”

  67. M27Holts says:

    I meant that the genotype mutates but the phenotype is built from the genotype so it has a blueprint. You seem to be supporting lamark are you not?

  68. Rob Barnett says:

    And my genes built me and my brain. They could not of built a jellyfish could they as you are hinting at…

  69. M27Holts says:

    A lot of people think that the consciousness is not governed by evolution? All our perceptions are merely adaptations of evolved subroutines in the brain. The chemistry of the brain was built by the genome. And is thus hard-wired by it’s chemical composition…unless you believe in woowoo

  70. HelenaHandbasket says:

    M27. I wouldnt describe myself as a “Lamarckian” so much as a “University lecturer in genetics”. That’s what it says on my payslip. And, at the risk of pulling rank on you, calling genes a “blueprint” is a dead giveaway I’m afraid. They aren’t blueprints. Here’s why: The central dogma of molecular biology, which is that information only travels one way–from genome to phemome. This is really really important–hence the term “central dogma of molecular biology.”
    Blueprints are maps to terrain–you can construct a blueprint from the finished product AND the finished product from the blueprint.
    You cant contruct the genome from the organism. So genes aren’t blueprints (whatever some benighted textbooks may say). Lamarckism is the idea that information flows both ways….like a blueprint.
    A much closer analogy is that genes are recipes. You can figure out most of the ingredients from the cake, but not all and it wont be perfect. But even this doesnt do justice to the fact that genes turn each other on and off in a perpetual dance (called “life”) and that a awful lot of non-coding DNA (what we used to call “junk DNA”) turns out to be regulatory and very important (and still under selection).
    So…to answer your question,”No.”

  71. Son of Glenner says:

    HelenaHandbasket’s self-revelation (“coming out”?) reminds me of long-windedly wordy cartoons in old humorous magazines, with a caption, or punchline in the last panel, like “collapse of stout party”.

    I’m not accusing M27Holts of being stout – just sayin.

    I presume “phemome” is a typo for “phenome”.

  72. Son of Glenner says:

    The chat in the old Cock & Bull pub is getting very highbrow and intellectual these days, what with genetics lecturers, engineers, historians, meteorologists, Middle East war veterans, nudist Dutch Doctors, Canadian folk singers, limerick composers, old Uncle Tom Cobbley and all. (obscure Brit reference, sorry, Dutch and Canadian people).

    I sometimes get nostalgic for the old days when we had the likes of Joe Mello, as a Jack Russell Terrier might get nostalgic for the really big rats there used to be, that you could really get your teeth into!

  73. M27Holts says:

    Aye recipe. Rather than blueprint…I realised that after the expiry time for mods..However since my educational background is more physics and chemistry I concede the point. However, the recipe coded in the genes for creating a brain still has a given sequence of genetic words has it not..The brain is constrained by it’s sub atomical structure and thus could be defined at any given point in time to be hard coded at that Pico second or whatever…we are nothing but mindless automatons governed by the rules of quantum physics. The self delusion of ID is nothing more than product of basic mathematical algorithms in the brain…The cosmic joker is calling the shots….

  74. HelenaHandbasket says:

    M27. Tha’ts a set of defintional retreats that would make a Trump supporter blush. “Mindless automatons governed by the rules of quantum physics”. Sez you. Off you go then: Show me these so-called rules and how they apply to human behavior.
    Geneticists can show you the effects of SNPS using GWAS studies to predict behvior at the demographic level. Give me a call when physicists can solve the three body problem let alone predict the behavior of a single organism

  75. M27Holts says:

    Ok. Science knows that you can turn off consciousness. They do that with chemicals. Called Anaesthetics. Thus the algorithms that remember things are turned off. Those who remember stuff have not been made unconscious. If you can turn off an algorithm and measure what outcome is achieved then that proves that algorithms can be turned off and on. There are other experiments that show that motor orders have been given before the owner of the limb in question has made the conscious decision..in other words consciousness is a reporting algorithm and not the o e issuing the commands……we are all automatons…I have no reason to believe anything else until the evidence I have read is proven false…

  76. Son of Glenner says:

    M27Holts: Of course consciousness can also be turned off by a bullet, various poisons, deprival of oxygen and in many other fun ways!

    The process is then irreversible.

  77. M27Holts says:

    Death shuts down all functions. Not just those that store memories….

  78. Well, this has been a fun thread indeed. Son of Glenner, thanks for the chuckle. Yes, I sometimes also long for the return of Muhammad. Simpler times.


NOTE: This comments section is provided as a friendly place for readers of J&M to talk, to exchange jokes and ideas, to engage in profound philosophical discussion, and to ridicule the sincerely held beliefs of millions. As such, comments of a racist, sexist or homophobic nature will not be tolerated.

If you are posting for the first time, or you change your username and/or email, your comment will be held in moderation until approval. When your first comment is approved, subsequent comments will be published automatically.