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James

"I sometimes see slightly sad articles in science magazines telling me that certain models of General Relativity predict that travelling backwards in time is possible. Indeed they do, and what that tells us is not that time travel is possible. It tells us that those models are wrong."

Andrew, I find most of what you write to be intelligent and well thought through, as is most of this article.

But sometimes you drop in the odd sweeping statement as if it is self-evidently true, like this one.

So General Relativity is wrong and time travel is not possible...because? Because Andrew doesn't think so?

I know that time travel isn't the theme of this thread, so sorry for starting off with what was for you a throw away comment, but it is relevent given the point you make with it.

Time travel may well be possible - there is nothing in General Relativity, Quantum Mechanics or String Theory to prohibit it. Just because it is counter-intuitive doesn't make it wrong.

The same, sadly, is true of your comments on the end-of-the-world climate models. No, of course the worst case scenario won't mean the end of the planet, or even the end of life - but they could mean the end of civilisation. Run away global warming has more than just a computer model to show it can happen, it has an example - Venus.

Personally, I don't believe this is likely, but I don't dismiss it out of hand as you appear to.

[I'm sorry, Aristotle. I understand your theories that the Earth is round (due to the shadow cast on the moon during a Lunar Eclipse, and the changing positions of the constellations when you head south). But frankly these don't prove the Earth is round. They prove that your methodology is wring. Every one knows that the Earth is flat. This is as self-evident as the fact that you can't travel backwards through time].

A.T. Watt

It should be obvious to any right thinking person that climate change is nothing but a SHAM, albeit one involving most of the world's climate scientists. However, this only goes to show what a massive fraud the whole business is - a point of logic that has escaped Mr Cameron.

Alex Swanson

The issue is not one of science, it is one of trust. Most people do not have access to the relevant data, and do not have the time or skills to analyse it even if they did. So we have to decide whether we trust the kind of people who are telling us about it.

This prompts two questions:
(a) Are they the kind of people who tell us the truth in other areas?
(b) Do they themselves act as if they believe it and modify their own behaviours even if it costs them to do so?

Further comment is really unnecessary.

Dale

Who is this guy and why are we suposed to listen to him.

Dale

Who do i see about getting the last 5 minutes of my life back?

Benet Northcote

You are missing the moral dimension to climate change. The World Health Organisation predicts that 150,000 people a year die from temperature increases we've already experienced. That figure will rise as temperatures increase further.

Surely policy makers need to respond to immediate needs of individuals? We demand policies on health so that people live longer. Why not climate policies that will help people live longer?

Also, you seem to imply that tackling climate change means we cannot make any technological improvements in our lives ("The deal was this: London flooded, the Mississippi overflowed even more than usual, and in exchange we got the cure for cancer, interplanetary travel, a life expectancy of 200, eyelid head-up-displays, telepathy, and all the other apparatus of modern life. That was a no-brainer.")

Why can't we tackle climate change and improve our technology? Indeed, the urgency of reducing our CO2 footprint is more likely to spur on technological development.

Fighting cancer is expensive today, but it is the right thing to do as it improves the human condition. The same is true of fighting climate change.

Tony Makara

It is unfortunate that the subject of climate change has become a political football with seemingly those right-of-centre willing to dismiss climate change as being some sort of left-wing conspiracy theory.

I am not a scientist but I am someone very interested in nature and particularly the wildlife that comes with it. I certainly have noticed a change over the last decade or so. The fly season which is usually set between may to september is now running from early april to late october and my garden seems to be growing quicker and faster each year. I've also noticed large numbers of dragon flies in the village where I live in august/september, at one time these dragon flies could only be seen down by the nearby river Irwell, but now they are spreading their territory.

If we are to make sense of climate change, we need to look for signs in a nature. The natural world only responds to stimuli and the fly season starting a month earlier and finishing a month later than it did ten years ago indicates to me that there has been a change in the seasons.

Michael McGowan

"150,000 people a year die from temperature increases we have already experienced." How does one begin to prove this? Even if it were true, has anyone asked which people/regions have benefited from a general rise in temperatures? I strongly suspect that there are both winners and losers from climate change, which has been a recurrent feature of the Earth's history.

If we really believe that human activity has such a drastic effect on climate change (which I doubt), then the solutions are obvious: (a) a drastic reduction in the soaring population of Planet Earth; and (b) a massive reduction in the amount of meat we eat, because livestock produce far more emissions than cars and aeroplanes. (b) would also slash cancer and heart disease rates. We should also be embracing nuclear energy. Of course, you will never hear these recommendations from the anti-capitalist zealots in the green lobby because they mainly see climate change as a pretext for curtailing the freedoms and prosperity of liberal free-market democracies.

Generally, I am sympthetic to environmental concerns but am tired of politically-motivated attempts to intimidate people into conformity over the climate change issue. Al Gore behaves like a 15th century Pope: living in opulence, criss-crossing the world by executive jet while rebuking the peasants about their depraved lifestyles.

Sam S

Is A.T Watt a scientist...?

Errr, methinks not.

Timothy

Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you're being had. Let's be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus.- Michael Crichton

As a scientist I agree with Mr Crichton wholeheartedly. Scientists rarely have a consensus on anything. We constantly bicker, adjust, argue and then do some more experiments and find out that things are not as they seem.

I do not think that there is no evidence of climate change occuring, rather, I think there is little to link it to human activity. When data is released showing surface temperature increases, and one looks at the data, one can see quite quickly that it has been, for want of a better word, fiddled. Some of the mathematical models that are commonly used demand an increase in temperature regardless of CO2 increase, decrease or indeed even if they stay the same. Sometimes 'adjustments' are added in to compensate for 'ground cooling' (nope, no one has explained to me why we need to factor this in), which then skews the data upwards.

What really frustrates me is that when I try to point out some logical errors in people assumptions I am labeled a heretic. This is not science, but pseudo-religious fevour. If we are to convince people to change their lifestyles and pump out less carbon then the evidence must be open to scrutiny and scientists have to be able to defend it openly, not keep shouting until everyone gets bored and can't be bothered any more. I have yet to see this. The political interference with the science and the arrogance of some climate scientists has not helped their cause.

James Sproule

The problem of climate change is that it is a faith, and many of its adherents are as open to argument as medieval monks. Would the IPCC fund any scientist who disagreed with it? Would any government body fund research which cast doubt upon that bodies need to exist? For at least some of the scientists, and a substantial proportion of the NGO activists, climate change scepticism is a threat to their professional lives. The opprobrium cast on the Channel 4 show on climate change shows us how they respond to such a threat.

Climate change scepticism comes in many forms, from those who are sceptical about climate change at all, to those who may accept that it is happening, but doubt that man has much to do with it, or those who accept man may be to blame, but there is little we can do about it.

Any ideology which proclaims a global emergency that must be acted upon immediately, with no time for debate should immediately be suspect. I am Conservative precisely because I doubt the wisdom of big government. I understand that the immediate battle has largely been lost. But so was the battle over the need for an intrusive welfare state, that did not stop Hayek objecting to it, and in the process winning the war.

A.T. Watt

Sam S:

"Is A.T Watt a scientist...?

"Errr, methinks not."


Sir, or possibly Madam,

When one is SOUND, science is superfluous

Michael McGowan

I am sure the Head of the Inquisition said much the same thing to Galileo and Copernicus. Didn't the Committee of Public Safety tell Lavoisier as they were sentencing him to death that the Republic had no need of scientists?

Rod Sellers

"If we really believe that human activity has such a drastic effect on climate change (which I doubt), then the solutions are obvious: (a) a drastic reduction in the soaring population of Planet Earth; and (b) a massive reduction in the amount of meat we eat, because livestock produce far more emissions than cars and aeroplanes. (b) would also slash cancer and heart disease rates. We should also be embracing nuclear energy."

Michael McGowan has it exactly right.

If People Pollute - then More people Pollute More.Therefore national Policy that 'encourages' population growth (through family benefits, lack of family planning, immigration levels beyond the ability of indiginous resources to cope) is counter productive and wipes out any possible benefit from reduction of carbon emmissions. The sensible argument that everyone can understand is the avoidance of waste of declining natural resources for its own sake - not wind turbines or armageddon !!!

Derek

I accept the point that the world has warmed a little over the past 35 years, though there has been no increase over the last decade. There is no proof that man is the cause, and there is no consensus among climate scientists. That is the position today. If you don't believe me visit climatescience where you will find a mass of evidence to show it.

Andrew Lilico

James@09:23

Okaaay... At the extreme peril of going off at a tangent, and with prior apologies for something that has nothing directly to do with politics...

Non-nerds should look away now!

****************************

In the unlikely event that anyone is interested in whether time travel is possible, here is one fairly precise reason why not.

Time is an ordering on events. The ordering relation is defined such that if event A precedes event B then, in principle, event A could have an effect (as efficient cause) upon B but event B could not have an effect (as efficient cause) upon A. If two events could have effects upon each other, or neither could have any effect on the other, then the events are simultaneous.

Since efficient causation by definition involves cause preceding event, this means that all events within a "time loop" (the period between when something from the future "arrived" in the past and when it "set off") would be simultaneous.

***********************************

Tony Makara

Time-travel can't exist because time doesn't exist. Time is a man-made concept, it is not a thing as such. Time exists as a thought, that is, in our heads, but it doesn't exist in reality. We create time as an instrument to qualify cause and effect but in reality there is no yesterday, no tomorrow, there is only now, and now is permanent. It our minds that trick us into thinking that time exists.

Malcolm Dunn

I am not scientist and therefore do not know whether the overwhelming majority of scientists who claim that the current rises in the Earth's temperature are a man made phenomenon are right or not.
I think it unlikely however that so many eminent people are wrong.Arguments such as those advanced by AT Watt are simply moronic, sadly I've heard similar too many times at Conservative debates.
Michael Mcgowan probably has it right when he states that there are far too many people in the world for the finite rescources Earth offers.No politicians of any hue ever seem to acknowledge the fact.

Tony Makara

Malcolm Dunn, population certainly is a worry. I've always believed that contraception is one of the finest inventions. I have to say that the Chinese were very wise in their birth control policies, same goes for the Indian government's attempts to encourage birth control. Any change in the climate can have catastrophic effects on crops and related foodstuffs. More study needs to go into the question of population and contraception should be made freely available to problem areas.

Andrew Lilico

Most of these comments reflect what I take to be an unhelpfully sceptical mindset. Without wanting to say that the debate is closed - few scientific debates ever are - it does seem to me that on the two key points that I made - that the climate is changing and that human-induced fossil fuel emissions are connected to that heating - we should have ample confidence for policy purposes.

But I urge again, it does not follow from the fact that the climate is changing and that human action has something to do with it that we need to do anything and everything we possibly can to stop it.

William Norton

What a thoroughly rewarding and interesting article. Some reactions to previous comments:

(1) What everyone forgets is that Copernicus was actually wrong: he said the planets described circular orbits around the Sun, when most of them don't - a fact clearly recognised at the time. (The orbits are elliptical, which wasn't realised until Kepler: until then Ptolemy's system was predictively better.) On the balance of the available evidence at the time, Galileo could not prove his theories: see the letter by St Robert Bellarmine following his conversations with Galileo (NB: Bellarmine also made the point that Galileo's theiory wasn't heretical, and they weren't why he was condemned).

(2) General relativity/time travel: since the point cannot be decided one way or the other without a convincing theory of quantum gravity perhaps people should stop contributing here and instead contact the Nobel Prize committee?

Adrian Peirson

It's a Global Neo Con Tax Scan...Look Why not ask Gorgon to suggest that at age five, every child arrange with their family and friends and their local church a tree Planting ceremony where they plant five trees in their Local Community.

Think the Neo Cons & Socialists in Westminster will go for that.

I didn't think so, I mean, where is their slice of the action.
Its a Tax Scam.
Are they even considering trees as a means of soaking up CO2, Nope...Would the World not look better with More Trees ?

They are not interested nor focussed on CO2 they are focussed om MONEY.
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article1720024.ece

http://www.gather.com/viewArticle.jsp?articleId=281474977182500
http://www.globalwarminghysteria.com/blog/2007/3/8/jupiter-neptune-pluto-and-mars-are-all-warming.html

Serf

The World Health Organisation predicts that 150,000 people a year die from temperature increases we've already experienced.

Millions die from Malaria every year.

Cost of massive reduction in Malaria deaths ... a few pounds per Mosquito net.
Cost of tackling global warming..... untold trillions, plus indirectly killing people whose health would have benefited from faster economic growth.

Spending Millions on saving 150.000 lives, when the same money could have saved millions of lives, is statistical murder.

I am sure that we need to take sensible steps to reduce our environmental impact on our planet, but this extremist hysteria will actually kill people if it goes unchecked.

Eli Rabett

If you want the detailed version of why you should care, read the Working Group II report from the IPCC titled Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. If you want it in pictures, ok, diagrams, look here

The controlling point is that costs increase non-linearly with increasing temperature, so that, for example, a 6 C temperature increase is a world wide disaster, while damage from a 2 C increase is local and there are places that benefit. However, we are currently on track for the higher range by the end of this century or shortly thereafter and that would not be the stopping point with business as usual.

VRWC

Concerning; "The World Health Organization predicts that 150,000 people a year die from temperature increases." The WHO will also tell you that far more people die from cold each year than heat, thus, more people will be saved by rising temperatures than killed.

But this is not even close to the worst outrage perpetrated by the GW worshiping crowd. Close to 2 billion people on this planet live in abject poverty, with no regular sources of electricity, despite the fact that many of them live on top of abundant reserves of coal and natural gas. But no one in the first world will help those poverty stricken billions develop these resources because the Global Warming addled Greens have forbidden it and hold a monopoly on Western development funds.

Most of these poor people heat their homes and cook their meals with the nearest fossil fuel handy...usually wood, leaves, tree bark or animal dung. That fact that this releases much more carbon into the atmosphere per person, not to mention denuding nearby forests, than a clean burning natural gas plant would release, does not trouble the Greens because preventing coal and natural gas plants from being built is the GW religion’s First Commandment.

The WHO estimates that up to 5 million children under the age of 5 contract respiratory disease each year, and over 1 million die, because of their exposure to this smoke in their homes.

But the Greens tell them, "No fossil fuel plants for you! You may only have Solar or wind power." Which, being the most expensive source of power, means no power at all.

So, third worlders, the message from environmentalists is; Thou shalt not burn fossil fuel. Go choke on the smoke in your hovels and watch your children die. You can't have access to the power sources that brought our economies out of poverty because we'd rather feel good about ourselves by pretending to do something about imaginary climate change than worry about you.

Sickening...

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