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An Engineer’s View Of Climate Change


There are many problems to complex to solve quickly enough to be really useful. The climate is one of them.

One of the last articles I read had scientists evaluating 81 computer models of the climate and guessing (my view) which ones were the most likely to be accurate and then taking the average of the outputs of this group.

I contend that this is for the most part a waste of time. Not that computer models should be done, but there is an urgency such that his focus wastes resources aad time.

Risk is the operative word. What risk are we willing to take with the earth. This should be simple to decide. Considering what the earth means to us we should take little risk. Instead we have for decades neglected it almost entirely. Now it has been severly harmed with no way to repair it and the harm continues.

This is our only home. It is perishable and may have gone beyond saving. If we had it to do over, and if humanity was rational rather than money-hungry then about 50 years ago we would have begun planning and executing a program to keep the earth as it was 50 years ago. Instead we canot get nations to keep their “promises” made at the Paris accords five years ago. The result is disaster.

The attitude continues to increase the risk and so we are heading for a true castrophe.

What does an engineer do when it appears that all may be lost and all is of infinite value and necessity: we drive the risk as far to zero as humanly possible as fast as humanly possible.

So what is the problem: 1. No one is in charge. 2. There is not a definitive plan. Such a plan would require definitive plans from each nation exactly what they are to do and when. No bullshit. 3. The plan is based on an analysis of each nations contrbution to pollution and an evaluation of how fast it can reduce this assuming we are on a wartime footing. The nearest example I can think of is America after Pearl Harbor and this will require a much greater effort than was put forth then. 4. In America it means shutting down everything that could make anything that reduces pollution and especially facilities for scrubbing the air. That's it. Everything is committed because we may be already dead and the only response is to commit everthing to the cause. Is this possible. I don’t think so. There is no sign that governments, politicians, businesses understand the seriousness of the situation and so they cave to pressures to protect their business profits and political positions. This will be fatale.


In Three Mysteries

1. The Creation

2. The Search for “Joy”

3. The Outcome....

So you want to know the truth my friend,
you want to know the truth....
About, about what is it that you want
to know so badly?

Where have you been for so long,
where and what have you seen,
and heard, but most of all, most of all...
what have you learned?

My god, my god, my friend you ask me...
everything: death and life, war and strife,
the unspeakable and the sublime.
The honest and the thief I cannot believe
why would a world like this want its face....to be seen?

Was not the sublime enough, what more for would you wish?

Just one thing so small so small that I would want....

And what...my friend, why are your tears a stream? A scream?
is that what I heard last...I know it was, for I scream too.

I only wished...that he and she who suffered not
would once wear the shoes of those...
that life forgot for much as I spun around there were
those glad all in gold who only could look down.

Why? Does Gold make one so proud weather earned
or lying to be found by those upon fortune had smiled.

So you want to save the earth my friend
you want to save the earth you say
you cannot live without it and so soon you learned
so true, so true and then you felt the fear....

So many many others missed, miscalculated,
missed food and, oh my sobbing soul,
you missed your home–
did it burn or was it washed away.

Then you remembered as you felt the fear,
that it wasn’t a miscalculation,
you had sold out the earth but more to the point
you could not find your soul.

And the resolute earth, my friend, it was burned
and flooded and trampled, to death.

And now, the most mournful words from tongue or pen
or lying voice it drove a stake right through my heart.

Oh! I won’t be around when it happens.
But I know, when I scream in
my torchered sleep, it is already happening. Now.

—John Wawrzonek

Nasa_blue_marble 00 copy 2 (1)

You Had A Friend Who Told You

Do not worry, it is just...

...whatever he wanted to believe. I knew that shareholder value and political power were primary but as I have watched it unfold for the past 20 years or so I could not believe by eyes, my ears, nor my brain telling me that scientists should adjust their data to be less negative because the president wanted it so.

I am an engineer. My job at Bose Corportion was to keep product from failing and so I refused a shipment of 23,000 loudspeakers. High humidity caused unexpected corrusion.

Air planes are insanely safe as long as management does not overide the engineer’s judgment.

When the space shuttle Challenger was about to be launched in weather too cold for the ‘O’ rings to properly seal, the engineers objected. The manager asked the engineers if they oculd prove the shuttle would fail, the engineers said no, they could not.

I just read recently they regretted their reply. The answer should have been along the lines of “No. But I am ordering the technicians not to laauch for it is too dangerous and immediately calling the head of NASA to tell him of your reckless attitude. And “No. I don’t care if they fire me.”

The earth is another story, but far more irresponsible. In fact I would say it is the most irresponsible set of decisions in the history of humanity.

When I first read about climate change and read the words “positive feedback” which meant the process was self-reinforcing my first thought was ”we’re screwed.” Carbon dioxide, which we had plenty of would melt the tundra which would release methane which would cause more warming which would melt.... You get the picture. It has not changed.

There is another kind of problem. Great quanities of piecemeal good news: better windmills and solar cells. Surely good things. But there are several fundamental problems these do not solve.

Business keeps doing business. Big oil sells its wells to small oil and the oil is still pumped.

Scientists make computer models to predict what will happen and politicians tell them to falseify the data. And is the data right? Which of 80 computer models do you believe?

Good Engineers Thinks Differently

The Overriding Question Comes From Risk Analysis:
What is the worst that can happen?

If it is the wings falling off the plane, then you can be damn sure they will withstand anything the weather can throw at them.

Fixing the climate runs into several problems. A good example is the Paris Accords: limit the temperature rise to 1.5° C. We have already hit that the other day. Why?

1. The science is extraordinarily complex; hence the 80 computer models.

2. The science is impossible to the layman to grasp.

3. Businesses do not want to stop making money.

4. The weather is usually fine in the major capitals. If not, it is believed to be just an abberation.

5. Money rules. If there is a problem (which there are many) with human civilization it is that making money without regulation or restriction (especially by the great American religion: the free market), then it will go on.

6. Conservatives have lossed all sense of rationality (the list is too long for this document).

7. We may have already reached the point of no return.

The following is a quotation from the The Atlantic Council on meeting the goals of the Paris Accords:

The challenge is two-fold, and extends to reducing CO2 levels in the atmosphere and eliminating CO2 emissions from anthropogenic sources, be they power, industrial or transportation. Right now, there are federal tax credits and some state-level policies that offer initial incentives to start capturing and storing CO2. Yet even with the potential establishment of a carbon price, and a mechanism for polluters to pay their fair share, we would still need new pathways to remove, sequester, and eliminate carbon at the gigaton scale. Gigaton-scale removal, capture, and storage technologies will be required and will require a myriad of available solutions across many sectors.xx“While moving to new energy sources and capturing carbon emissions at the source will play a major part of this, much of the solution will still need to rely on removing carbon directly from the atmosphere. essence and getting there will require bold, radical technology innovation and scale up, beyond just limiting emissions or capturing at the source, but also removing CO2 already in the air and oceans.”

So what do we do? We argue politics. We war against each other.

What should we do?

Act as if this were World War III.

What will we do? All good stuff, but we will ignore negative emissions.

Below will be the conseauences.

The thinking is mideval for we have not been taught about the world in a scieentifically realistic way.

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What We Are Ignorant Of

Do you hear what I hear?

You may have made up your mind because you a part of a group making a fortune from fossil fuel sales. But Edward Teller, the physicist who invented the hydrogen bomb testified in 1959 at the 100th anniversary dinner of the oil industry that we were heading for a catastrophe. More. The industry itself did research to prove that it was contributing a major portion of carbpm dopxode emissions and this was a major cause of climage chaange.

At a point like this, humans either have courage or they do not. I am sure in many instances they do. But if the financial stakes are high enough, we stop thinking. Can you imagine a CEO of Exon Mobil at a board meeting saying the company must find a new business?

Neither did Philip Morris. When they were put out of the cigarette business in the United States they began giving free cigarettes to teens in other countries.

These are two examples. There are hundreds of others. We have to find a way to teach a moral civilization or we are finished.

The Situation

World War III

“To reach that goal of net zero worldwide by 2050, every nation would need to move much faster and more aggressively away from fossil fuels than they are currently doing, the report found. For instance, the annual pace of installations for solar panels and wind turbines worldwide would have to quadruple by 2030, the agency said.

For the solar industry, that would mean building the equivalent of what is currently the world’s largest solar farm every day for the next decade.”

“...much of the solution will still need to rely on removing carbon directly from the atmosphere.

Time is of the essence and getting there will require bold, radical technology innovation and scale up, beyond just limiting emissions or capturing at the source, but also removing CO2 already in the air and oceans.”

href="https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/18/climate/climate-change-emissions-IEA.html?smid=em-share">But this comes first...

The stakes are higher than almost anayone imagines. For the heck of it I have put an illustration from NASA of what it took to get the earth and then to evolve humans. And we are putting all of this at risk.

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Water-shields And Oak Leaf


The Biggest and Smallest Pictures

The existance of the universe (the Big Bang), the existance of the earth, the creation and evolution of homo sspiens, and, above, all the human mind, are miracles. I consider myself a scientist and so have a tiny clue of the science behind the picture I am presenting. However, professional cosomologists will scream when they read the following: we have come to understand but this group, we cannot explain and I am not sure we ever will.

Let us make one very hypothetical calculation which is the probability of the existance of human beings.

There are trillians of planets but having read extensively what the earth must be like to support our kind of life.

Out of many factors I choose seven and give eaah a 1% chance that it is present. So the probability all are present is 0.017 or 10-14. A specialist in evolutiongave a similar number for the liklihood of the conditions being right for the evolution of higher forms of life.

How likely is it that a planet will support human-like life? Lets be simple: 7 conditions each with a 1% chance gives us a probability of 10-14 or 0.00000000000001

How likely is it that a planet will have the conditions necessary for human-like life to evolve: Same: Let’s stay with 7 reauirements each with 1% chance.

That’s gives us 10-28 or .0000000000000000000000000001.

Toss in how long a civilization lasts: we might just be alone.

Why should you believe me, an electrical engineer (MIT 63, 65, 67) specializing in solid state physics and psychoacoustics. There is no reason except that you like my reasoning.

Dumb Brilliance

So we have 7 billion people beeting the crap out of the miracle under thier feet, arguing over politics, religion, and hundreds of other things and how many do you think realize what they have. So how did it get this way: scientists don’t like to yell. We have the Union of CONCERNED Scientists. We need a Union of PISSED Scientists camped out by the hundreds at the White House and capitol.

Engineers have a different outlook: they want to minimize risk (which is why planes rarely crash.)

Here is how it goes: What is the worst that an happen? Ansewers: (take your pick): The earth will no longer support life; instead of 7 billion people it will support 1 billion or fewer, etc. And no, we can’t prove it but we can show there is a pretty good possibility and this is catastrophe. So what do you do: EVERYTHING AND AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. What have we done? Lots of solar cells and windmills but the CO2 keeps going up. We have already hit the 1.5°C once. So what’s next. Large areas of the planet too hot to live on (already happeningP .etcc.They want things to work which means a whole bunch of things have to be right: the right size and life of sun; the right heat output; the right distance to the planet; the right length of year to provide the right seasons; a moon to stabilize the orbit of the earth; an orbit that is only slightly eccentric; the right size of moon; the right composition of soil; sources of energy. Etc. Could some other kind of life make it in different conditions. Maybe. But there is something unusual about homo sapiens: the brian is insanely complex and likely requires a whole bunch more conditions to evelve.

Our chance of moving to another planet? ZERO.

But despite this infredible brain, we are incredibly stupid. Just look at our politics.

We knnew this was combing at least 60 years ago (Edward Teller lectured the oil industry). But we are incapable of looking ahead and seeing danger, doing something about it. Nah! We just like to make lots of money. As I said to myself the first time I read about climate change abnout 20 years ago: “we’re screwed.”

I am at the end of my rope. I scream during the night as these thoughts crwl through my mind. I sometimes scream during the day too.

Shg sill ig gzkd for humankind to get serious: another miracle. But I think it is too late.

One more thing: who is to blame beside the scientists: The New York Times (and other papers) for burrying the news about climate change at bottom of page 13. It is simply inconcievable.

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