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The End of the World (or, "nice knowing you." )

Posted: Fri Feb 27, 2004 2:23 pm
by neil
There are some disturbing stories on Yahoo and The Guardian. Apparently the Pentagon is preparing for the end.


Posted: Fri Feb 27, 2004 2:37 pm
by dik pose

Posted: Fri Feb 27, 2004 2:57 pm
by ChadTHX1138
Perpetuating fear in the masses, what lovely people we have in the media and govt.

Posted: Fri Feb 27, 2004 3:11 pm
by Kean
Oh, please.

Does no one in the government understand statistical error? Let's put it this way: if you're attempting to predict the outcome of an open system (in this case, let's use weather forecasts as the example), you might have a small margin of error when making a short-term prediction (for example, looking at our weather satellite data and predicting whether it will rain or be sunny tomorrow -- let's say there's an error of about +/- 2%), but as you make more predictions farther out, your error will become compounded (ie, trying to predict the weather a week from now may have an error of 5%) -- We all know that the weekly weather forecast is not always as precise as the daily forecast.

So now, if you're going to attempt to predict the weather with compounded error, odds are that you wouldn't be able to predict weather patterns or the correct temperature in the span of a year without incurring 100% error into your prediction, let alone 10 or 50 years down the road. These people are trending their predictions based on very short term data (1970-the present is the typical data set that most people use, mostly due to the noted increase in CO2 emissions), and are completely ignoring the error that they're introducing into their predictions.

In an open system, any unforseeable factor can have massive impacts on your predictions (global mean temperature dropped during 1940-1970 due to an unforseeable decrease in solar radiation), so who is to say that we won't reach some sort of saturation point where the increase in temperature will peak, and then begin to fall again (as it has done in a cyclical nature for thousands of years now)? To immediately spell doom and gloom for the entire human race is not only bad science, but a waste of time and taxpayer dollars.

And let's not ignore the political issues of all this. If you're a scientist and you tell the government everything's hunky dory, odds are you'll be passed up for this year's round of funding. Tell them the world is about to end in a catastrophic armageddon, and you'll be more likely to get additional funding for the next couple of years.

This Pentagon report takes these already suspect findings and just ratchets up the fear and paranoia by a healthy 11 notches. It's a load of crap to me. Fear sells. It's also fairly obvious that their stance is quite political (more funding, anyone?).

Posted: Fri Feb 27, 2004 3:22 pm
by Kazu
Hey, I already built my little rocket. It's filled with instant noodles, water, graphic novels for my trip outta here.

Posted: Fri Feb 27, 2004 3:26 pm
by dan
You know Kean, you're right on. You just said about everything that i was about to type after reading the article from the Gaurdian. Then i read your post. :)


Posted: Fri Feb 27, 2004 3:26 pm
by Kean
Here's an article offering a counterpoint to the sensationalist Guardian one.

Hey Kazu, is there room in the rocket for me too? You know, just in case.

Posted: Fri Feb 27, 2004 3:32 pm
by dan
no kean, only me....however, that seat resides on the outside of the rocket. :(


Posted: Fri Feb 27, 2004 3:42 pm
by Kazu
If you are not a beautiful woman you are not invited.

Unless you have Stouffer's Stove Top Stuffing. Then we should talk.

Posted: Fri Feb 27, 2004 3:54 pm
by neil
I guess I thought the most interesting thing about the story, whatever the credibility of the report, is that the president and the Pentagon can be so completely in disagreement here... I mean after that whole weapons of mass destruction crap, it's nice to know that even the threat of global catastrophe is meaningless if it threatens political imperatives. (I think that whole oil thing is a much stronger political force than some scientists whining for funding, what with all those wars and killing and stuff.)
Kean wrote:And let's not ignore the political issues of all this... Here's an article offering a counterpoint to the sensationalist Guardian one.
Woah, the pentagon (pretty much against its own interests) and hundreds of nobel laureates acknowledge the threat of global warming and "A voice for business in the global warming debate" is supposed to offer the apolitical response? Oh, please. (They do get credit for a good title: "The Cold Facts on Global Warming"!)

And remember it's not the media or The Guardian (or The Observer, which broke the story) that you're accusing of sensationalism, it's the Pentagon. I mean I think this is definitely a newsworthy story, I wouldn't blame them for publishing it.

I'd better get to stocking up my own rocket...

Posted: Fri Feb 27, 2004 4:47 pm
by Yenner
I think that in the coming years, we are going to see problems, it's just the extent and area of effect that's iffy.

Personally I'm more worried about nukes, and Korea, and Bush.

Posted: Fri Feb 27, 2004 5:02 pm
by Patachu
Is it bad that, as soon as I saw the title of this thread, I thought of this?

Fire ze missiles!

Posted: Fri Feb 27, 2004 6:25 pm
by douglas a. bot
If you are not a beautiful woman you are not invited.
Hey man...i'm more than willing to make a couple of nips and tucks. As Homer says..."I'm not gay...but i can learn."

oh dear... :shock:

Posted: Fri Feb 27, 2004 7:18 pm
by Mothos
Personally, I think it's Mother Nature gearing up to kick all of our sorry asses back into submission for planet abuse. If it does happen as bad as predicted (doubtful), you have to admit, we definitely deserve it.

Posted: Fri Feb 27, 2004 9:40 pm
by dan
You know, i was watching National Geo today and they were doing a deep ocean excavation. One of the people on the boat said that "if the ocean were a bucket of water, up until this point, human beings have only seen a raindrop of what the ocean has inside of it".

That statement made me feel very small because it dawned on me, mother nature has a LOT at her disposal to kick our asses with. :)