Categories
Aborto Cattolicesimo Cristianesimo Eterodossia Filosofia Italiano Morale Politica

Quaderni dell’Eterodossia – III – Aborto

(terzo articolo in una serie di riflessioni morali, sociali e politiche contemporanee)

  1. Quaderni dell’Eterodossia – Introduzione
  2. Quaderni dell’Eterodossia – II – Religione
  3. Quaderni dell’Eterodossia – III – Aborto
  4. Quaderni dell’Eterodossia – IV – Famiglia

Sono favorevole alla difesa della liberalizzazione dell’aborto.

Pero’ ne sono anche rattristato, soprattutto quando e’ usato in sostituzione della contraccezione.

Considero i discorsi sull’anima del Feto mal posti: con tutti quelli abortiti naturalmente, bisognerebbe pensare a un Dio che assurdamente crea nuove anime, e le spedisce sulla Terra solo per farle morire senza mai vedere la luce.

E’ di Diade Madre/Feto che bisogna parlare. E se e’ vero che la Madre ha il dovere di non fare del male al Feto fumando, o drogandosi, o bevendo alcolici, e’ anche vero che la Diade e’ un diritto oneroso della Madre, unica a possedere uno spirito cosciente e a poter valutare tutte le circostanze in atto.

Portare a termine la gravidanza e’ un obbligo morale, ma solo per chi lo ritenga tale: la risposta non puo’ che essere nella libera scelta di ciascuna Madre, perche’ tutti gli altri sono per definizione estranei alla Diade.

Magari la Chiesa lavorasse a pratiche alternative (una educazione sessuale molto molto seria e sincera, per esempio) invece di perdere il tempo in crudeli proibizioni…

Categories
English Ethics Humanity Star Trek

Spock’s Principle: The Many, The Few, The One

or…”Ethics and Emotions

There’s been quite some interest in new scientific evidence about “the Heart ruling the Head“. But I haven’t read any mention of its extreme consequence: the extraordinary, apparently illogical moral code we reserve for the special persons in our life.

A new study published in Nature has hinted on the fact that ethical decisions are a combination of emotional and rational choices:

[Some] philosophers […] psychologists and neuroscientists [argue that] when faced with a moral dilemma […] we rely on emotional reactions as well as our powers of reasoning. In a study of brain damage […] neuroscientists report evidence that emotions indeed exert a powerful influence on moral judgments.

Paradoxically, of all the fictional characters ever imagined, the one that comes nearest to declare as much is logic-fixated Mr. Spock, when in the second Star Trek movie uses this line to justify his sacrifice to save others:

“the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few … or the one.”

In fact, one can easily follow the reasoning about “the many” vs. “the few”…but was there any need to specify “the one“?

=============

There was. Because it’s easy to speak in general terms, but much more difficult if we are personally involved in the outcome.

For example, more or less everybody will declare that bringing down an airplane of 100 is morally justifiable if such an action will save the life of 4,000 (even if the German Constitutional Court was not impressed by similar thoughts last year). It is much harder if not impossible to follow the same line of thought, when the plane is carrying is one of your special Ones, a close friend or family member.

Who could honestly say that they’d kill without any doubt or ado their mother or son or husband or daughter or father or wife, or best friend?

Even when things may rationally be clear-cut, we are likely to end up emotionally scarred. In the movie I, Robot Will Smith’s character Del Spooner cannot bear the thought of having been rescued by a robot that abandoned a little girl instead on the basis of survival chances: a little girl that became for a few, very important moments the One for Spooner.

Is this because of innate tribal solidarity? Would life be bearable otherwise? Whatever the reason, we are indeed hard-wired to this apparently “irrational” behaviour. And so, in the third Star Trek movie, Kirk tells the resurrected Spock how little he actually cares about the latter’s original thought.

Because the needs of the One really outweigh “the needs of the many“.

(this expands on my previous blog The One And The Many – The Truth Behind Spock’s Principle)

Categories
Ambiente Cambiamento Climatico Clima Italiano Politica Scienza

IPCC: Politica, prima che Scienza Climatica

E’ purtroppo diffusissima l’impressione che il “Sommario per i Policymakers” pubblicato a inizio Febbraio dall’IPCC (“Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change“, Comitato Intergovernamentale sul Cambiamento Climatico) non sia un documento politico, ma semplicemente un riassunto delle conclusioni scientifiche.

Guardiamo invece in faccia la realta’:

1) l’IPCC e’ INTERgovernamentale, il che vuol dire che ci sono scienziati, ma anche tecnici, attivisti, burocrati: e tutti approvati da questo o quel Governo.

2) Il sommario e’ scritto in un meeting dove ogni Governo puo’ e dice la sua.

3) Le “conclusioni scientifiche” vengono pubblicate dopo il sommario (fra qualche settimana, figuriamoci).

4) Questo perche’ e’ esplicitamente scritto nelle regole dell’IPCC che le “conclusioni scientifiche” devono essere modificate in modo che non contraddicano il sommario.

I Governi nominano, i Governi scrivono, i Governi dettano: se non e’ “politico” quello, allora cos’e’?

Categories
Astronomy & Space English Journalism NASA Space UK

The Average Brit Flying to Work at 18,000mph

So what is my local car rental manager doing, parading in NASA coveralls in London’s Queen Mary University Theatre in late November 2006?

No, wait: it must be Gary Lineker, guest speaker of the British Interplanetary Society, with a 8’-by-5’ poster of Saturn and the secret aim of taking chips and sweets from the noisy local student contingent.

Or…is that a bird? Is that a plane? No, it’s Piers J. Sellers, Ph.D., former Global Warming researcher and now Space Shuttle crew member and quasi-UK Astronaut Extraordinaire (“quasi” as UK persons need opt for a different citizenship to work in Earth orbit).

Sellers, born in Sussex in 1955 but now an American citizen, is following up his July STS-121 mission with a UK trip that has generated good-natured interest in the press, and even some air time on BBC Radio4’s Today.

Luckily (for Sellers) and blissfully (for all of us), Sellers’ Shuttle trip companion astronaut Lisa M. Nowak hasn’t yet destroyed her career by wearing nappies for a 1,000-mile drive to pepper-spray a love rival in February 2007.

And so instead of a sex scandal, the talk is about the less risky enterprise called space travel, as told by a bloke so average in appearance and so relaxed about himself to make taciturn Neil Armstrong a veritable space alien.

Aliens won’t invade us, because [on streets like Mile End Road] they can’t find where to park”: Sellers is definitely no warplane pilot turned moonwalker spiritualist. He’s “simply” a space walker, slightly “disoriented” only by the first sight of the white-and-blue jewel called Earth.

His description of the piling up of task upon task may sound familiar to office workers the world over. Still, very few of those usually validate if their cubicles will destroy during atmospheric re-entry, as Sellers and the rest of the STS-121 crew did after the Columbia tragedy of February 2003 and the half-botched first “return-to-flight” mission of STS-114 in July 2005.

A NASA video hints at the peculiarities of working in space. First of all there is nobody within a 3-mile radius of a ready-to-start Space Shuttle: and for good reason, as the bunch of aviation and navy pilots, space commanders and Ph.D’s collectively called “astronauts” are literally sitting on top of a giant bomb hoping it will explode in a controlled manner, pushing them upwards and forwards rather than into smithereens..

There is lots of sound and bouncing at lift-off. Somebody touches a control button, but Sellers reassures “We were just pretending to work. The launch [really] blew me away.” Orbital life is a piece of cake in comparison, with a couple of days of procedures to proceed and checklists to check, before approaching the International Space Station at the snail-like pace of 1m/sec (a little more than 2 miles an hour).

The video recording moves on to Lisa Nowak working with a large boom, at the time not to threaten a love rival but to move cargo to the Station with fellow astronaut-ess Stephanie Wilson, and then finally on mission day five maneuvering Sellers and colleague Michael Fossum locked on top of a 100-foot pole.

Sellers recounts a few funny details. For example, even in the most comfortable spacesuit one better gets used to spending up to ten hours without luxuries such as toilet breaks and nose scratching. And so a big deal of one’s resting time is spent cleaning up bodily odours and outpours from the spacesuit (no mention of any solution to the nose itching problem).

Furthermore, gloves for orbital work are more apt for a The Thing impersonation from the Fantastic Four, and so one handles multi-million-dollar wrenches knowing some will drop on their own sidereal orbit. Last but not least, one gets occasionally stuck in a phone-boot-like airlock for more than one hour.

Back inside the spaceship, in-between risky zero-g adventures with M&M’s of all things, one can look forward to a “shower” of damp cloths, a dinner of bland food and a night chained to a bed (kinky orbital fun, anybody?). Ah, and the toilet has a noisy fan and too thin a door really.

After some four days of that, it’s time to pull the jet brakes on the Shuttle (“feeling like on a truck slowing down”, Sellers remembers) to start the “unforgiving landing sequence”, after gulping in a disgusting salty drink designed to help the body readjust to Earthly life.

Outside the vehicle, “cherry-red windows” show the same tongues of fire that consumed the unfortunate Columbia astronauts a mere three-and-a-half years earlier. Falling almost helplessly, the Space Shuttle is somehow guided without engines to a hard touchdown, at the end of which gravity is felt like having “brick on the shoulders”.

Still Sellers opines, “The real dangerous bit is the lift-off.” No need to remind anybody of the crew of six that died on the 1986 Challenger accident, during the ascent phase.

Has Sellers got any chance of going back to the Space Station? “Sure. There is plenty of work available,” he answers. “Perhaps there will be 15 missions with 7 astronauts each between now and 2010.” Such chances are presumably slightly larger now than Ms. Nowak has been removed from NASA’s roster.

Before a strange, nostalgically catchy set of photographs of Seller’s mission is shown to the tune of Coldplay’s “Speed of Sound”, the evening fades away in a torrent of questions about medical facilities (“We can’t do heart transplants in space as yet”); rubbish management (“Thrown overboard”); launch delays (“Frustrating”); the justification for space budgets (“The money is spent on Earth”); and Orion, the Space Shuttle replacement (“Safer and cheaper and brings us back to the Moon”).

There! Has anybody else caught the tiny sparkle in Sellers’ voice when mentioning future manned Lunar exploration? Who knows, by 2025 the UK government may have found the negligible additional resources to fund a trip to the Moon for a couple of lucky British passport holders.

For the time being, I better check if my local car rental manager has moved to Houston.

Categories
Ambiente Cambiamento Climatico Energia Italia Italiano Tecnologia

Pale? Forse…meglio il Carbone!

Italia Nostra, e non e’ la sola, fa tanto chiasso per evitare che vengano costruiti nuovi impianti eolici, apparentemente per “conservare il paesaggio”.

Mi permetto di cantare fuori dal coro per l’ennesima volta, per dire che i generatori eolici a me piacciono, anzi provvedono un senso di pace e tranquillita’.

Magari dovremmo travestirli all’olandesina, oppure colorarli di verde per renderli piu’ appetibili a un certo ambientalismo?

Il problema vero e’ l’inaffidabilita’…se non c’e’ vento, tutti con le candele.

Il futuro prossimo venturo e’ chiaramente nella produzione familiare di energia usando il sole (basterebbe che i prezzi si dimezzassero…). Nel presente intanto, lasciamo perdere la falsa alba del nucleare (con i suoi lustri prima dell’attivazione, e le scorie da stoccare per centomila anni: usiamo il carbone invece!

Dopotutto basterebbe poter filtrare per bene i fumi (e fregarsene della CO2) e il problema energetico sarebbe risolto forse per un altro secolo…

Categories
Climate Change English Philosophy Politics Skepticism

About Intellectual Dishonesty

Recently, concentration-camp doubter David Irving moved to a different table rather than have lunch with a Shoah survivor. As Leo Tolstoy (may have) said:

I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives.

Yet, there is a straightforward way out of intellectual dishonesty: and it is to declare publicly under which circumstances one will agree to change one’s mind and conclusions.

This tells healthy skepticism from denial and close-mindedness.

And it applies to all sorts of circumstances. For example, try asking a person that doesn’t believe people landed on the Moon in 1969, what kind of proof he or she will accept, to change their mind…

======================

Myself, I will convert to the Climate Change scenario, as soon as any part of the world climate will change in a manner as significant, say, as the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO).

And I will be convinced of Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) when that change will happen in ways that are overwhelmingly explained with increases in CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere.

In fact, it’s been a couple of years since I have asked, even on pro-AGW sites such as RealClimate, for anybody able to point me to any recent “change” in climate, of any sort but not just in temperatures, apart from known natural variability factors such as, of course, the NAO.

I am still waiting…

And I am still waiting for pro-AGW campaigners (and Moon-landing doubters) to explain what if anything would change their minds.

If nothing will, the only wise choice is to abandon them to their lives of self-deception.

Categories
Italia Italiano

Riconoscere gli Italiani nel Mondo

Lisa M. Nowak, la ex-astronauta accusata di minacce e tentato rapimento nei confronti di una rivale in amore, si chiama in realta’ Lisa M. Caputo, originaria d’Italia naturalmente, se non forse ovviamente.

I cliche’ non si smentiscono mai…

Categories
Afghanistan Diritti Umani Diritto Internazionale Guerra Italiano Politica

Afghanistan: A Chi Credere?

Titolo da L’Unita’: La Nato bombarda Lashkar Gah, 40 talebani uccisi

Prima versione: Il portavoce del comandante della polizia afgana di Helmand, Habibullah, ha raccontato che dall’alba i soldati occidentali hanno attaccato i miliziani fedeli al mullah Omar con due distinti assalti, ognuno dei quali ha goduto della copertura aerea. Habibullah ha precisato che nel primo confronto sono morti almeno undici miliziani fondamentalisti, 27 in quello successivo; nessuna perdita invece dall’altra parte, cioè nel contingente Isaf.

Seconda versione: sul sito Peacereporter di Emergency […] si dice che sono i talebani ad aver lanciato un’offensiva accerchiando la città di Lashkar Gah. «Questa mattina abbiamo già ricevuto dieci feriti, vittime dei bombardamenti della Nato e degli scontri ormai vicinissimi», raccontano dall’ospedale di Emergency. Tra i morti, secondo il sito ci sarebbero anche un bambino di un anno e un soldato afgano.

Notevole che adesso anche l’Unita’ prema a piu’ non posso perche’ i lettori credano alla verita’ “ufficiale”. Ustica, addio!

Categories
Climate Change English Environment Taxes UK

Gordon Brown’s Not-so-Green Car Tax

There is something rather fishy about Gordon Brown, the UK Treasury/Finance Minister, increasing taxes for larger cars from £200 this year to £300, then next year to £400 (a little less than $800) “to combat greenhouse gas emissions”.

Who in their right mind will be deterred by a £400/year car tax after having bought, say, a £40,000 Land Rover???

On the other hand, if Brown had raised taxes to £3,000 or more, there would have been just too many brand new cars suddenly destined to be recycled (or sold to places with lower taxation): hard to see the greenery of that situation.

Perhaps it could have made more sense to introduce a £3,000+ yearly tax on new large cars: like a “buy at your own risk” alert for everybody thinking of getting a pickup truck.

Or maybe not: the unintended consequence would be to keep old cars on UK roads…

The whole thing will just end up as a boost for the UK Treasury, with no discernible advantage on the CO2 emissions side.

—————–

Methinks the old tax of £200 was just too cheap. But fellow big-car drivers are the first victims of the Anthropogenic Global Warming steamroller, that provide the likes of Brown with the excuses necessary to sneak in tax increases of all sorts.

Anyway, I suggest drivers of smaller cars to refrain from schadenfreude, drawing pleasures from so-called gas guzzlers’ misfortunes.  

AGW hysteria will soon hit your wallets too.

Categories
Climate Change English Science Scientific American

Controversy-free Scientific American

On the Scientific American (SciAm) web site, George Musser has recently posted a blog “Please Stop Talking About the Global Warming Consensus“.

IMNSHO Musser is on the right path to an “undestanding” of the huge issue caused by Holier-Than-Thou attitudes used by environmental activists to effectively undermine their own work and aims (alas, just as by a lot of Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW)-concerned climate scientists).

The last thing the AGW debate needs now is any hint of debate-stifling.

============

Anyway, the above reminded me of my main criticism of SciAm: namely, how hard it is to find the magazine putting forward non-conformist scientific views.

One wonders if the Editors are pursuing the misguided goal of trying to prop up Science against the Forces of Obscurantism, and in the process anything not smelling of 100% scientific mainstream is left out in the cold.

If anybody wants to know a couple of articles that should have been on SciAm, here they are:

(1) Terry L. Hunt, “Rethinking the Fall of Easter Island“, American Scientist, September-October 2006

New evidence points to an alternative explanation for a civilization’s collapse

(2) Richard Seager, “The Source of Europe’s Mild Climate“, American Scientist, July-August 2006

The notion that the Gulf Stream is responsible for keeping Europe anomalously warm turns out to be a myth

(3) Carl Wunsch, “The Myth of Gulf Stream Shutdown” (expanded from a Letter by Wunsch published on The Economist)

Obviously one could simply get a subscription to American Scientist but that’s besides the point. My question is: have the SciAm people (the Editors that is) become simply too buttoned up? Is SciAm in danger of drowning in a sea of “consensus”?

Categories
Droga Italiano UK

L’Ignoranza Uccide Piu’ dello Spinello

Tam-tam mediatico fin da ieri dopo che il britannico The Independent avrebbe annunciato di aver cambiato idea sulla legalizzazione dell’uso di marijuana.

Andiamo invece a vedere cosa davvero ha scritto, l’Independent: che ci sono in giro nuove droghe che stanno allo spinello come i superalcolici al vino novello, e che alla base di tutto non e’ la disponibilita’, ma l’ignoranza a fare male.

Dall’articolo “Eravamo fuori di testa? No, ma adesso c’e’ lo skunk” di Jonathan Owen, 18 marzo 2007:

[lo skunk una versione selezionata e particolarmente potente della Cannabis]

C’e’ aumentata preoccupazione fra gli esperti riguardo i rischi per la salute mentale, particolarmente per adolescenti che fumano lo Skunk che a detta degli stessi esperti assomiglia ad uno spinello come un cocktail di birra e limonata assomiglia a un brandy. […]

E’ venuto il momento di cambiare una degli obiettivi del nostro quotidiano. E’ importante sottolineare le differenze fra gli spinelli di vari anni fa e lo skunk attuale, e i rischi per la salute mentale.

Dal commento “Il problema e’ la schizofrenia giovanile, non la legalita’” di Robin M Murray, professore di Psichiatria e Primario al Maudsley Hospital di Londra:

Certamente la maggior parte dei fumatori di cannabis non sviluppano nessun problema, cosi’ come la maggior parte dei bevitori non hanno problemi di fegato. E’ semplicemente che piu’ ne assumi, piu’ ti aumenta il rischio.

Il consumo di cannabis e le psicosi che ne risultanto sono nel Regno Unito fra i piu’ alti in Europa. Non sono pero’ convinto che classificare la cannabis legalmente [come droga piu’ o meno pericolosa] importi granche’. L’errore del Governo fu dare l’impressione che la cannabis fosse innocua e che non ci fossero legami con la psicosi.

Categories
BBC British Airways Business English UK

BBC: Last for News

Either the people at BBC News are having a Seriously Bad Monday, or there is something fishy in the relationship between the BBC and British Airways.

(Alternatively: here some evidence of BBC incompetence and tardiness:)

British Airways has been forced to reveal that there is free upgrade to First Class available for you and your family, if you happen to die during the flight.

As of now (10:30AM GMT) , such piece of… news is absent from BBC News.

According to Google News, it is appearing in 45 other news outlets on the web, first of which was 21 hours ago.

====================

I always find it suspect that the BBC News web site mostly finds lead stories in the morning, rather than randomly during the day. So much for being a leader in web-based news provision. The first-class-corpse episode just will make things look even odder…

As for Brutish Airways, why oh why am I not surprised to find them out once again with procedures taking precedence over common sense?

Categories
Autostrade Italia Italiano Trasporti Umorismo

Limitatore Psicologico di Velocita’

Come fare in modo che tutti vadano piano sulle strade d’Italia?

Vista la scarsa praticita’ dell’installazione di un limitatore di velocita’ sulla trazione, occorre un po’ di psicologia spicciola.

Montiamo quindi un ago avvelenato di circa 30 centimetri al centro del volante, in modo che alla minima frenata non dolcissima, il guidatore rischi di essere trapassato da parte a parte.

Dall’oggi al domani, ogni autovettura procederebbe a 10 km/h se non meno, con buona pace anche dei pedoni piu’ lenti…

Categories
catastrophism Climate Change Earth English Environment Science

Gulf Stream Myths

Myth #1: The Gulf Stream will fail if a massive outpour of freshwater will come out of Greenland glaciers due to increasing temperatures.

Answer: No, it most definitely will not. As explained by Carl Wunsch, Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physical Oceanography at the MIT in Cambridge, Mass. (USA), in a letter published on The Economist:

The Gulf Stream is a wind-driven phenomenon (as explained in a famous 1948 paper by Henry Stommel). […] Shut-off would imply repeal of the law of conservation of angular momentum […] focusing on near-impossible Gulf Stream failure is an unproductive distraction

Myth #2: The Gulf Stream is responsible for the milder weather in the United Kingdom and part of Northern Europe than North American regions at similar latitudes.

Answer: No, it most definitely does not. As explained by Richard Seager, Senior Research Scientist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, in an article published on American Scientist:

That the Gulf Stream is responsible for Europe’s mild winters is […] nothing more than the earth-science equivalent of an urban legend.

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Seager’s comments are particularly telling on how current Climatology is self-destroying by way of catastrophism:

Pretty much everything we had found could have been concluded on the basis of results that were already available […]

All Battisti and I did was put these pieces of evidence together and add in a few more illustrative numerical experiments. Why hadn’t anyone done that before? […] The blame lies with modern-day climate scientists who either continue to promulgate the Gulf Stream-climate myth or who decline to clarify the relative roles of atmosphere and ocean in determining European climate. This abdication of responsibility leaves decades of folk wisdom unchallenged, still dominating the front pages, airwaves and Internet, ensuring that a well-worn piece of climatological nonsense will be passed down to yet another generation.

Categories
Cambiamento Climatico Clima Italiano Lettere Repubblica Scienza

Climatologia del Mito

A quanto pare, il coordinatore della Conferenza Nazionale sul Clima del prossimo Settembre a Roma ha bisogno di aggiornarsi.

Se il buongiorno si vede dal mattino, immaginiamoci che Conferenza che sara’…

(segue mia Lettera alla Redazione del “Venerdi’ di Repubblica)

E’ con rammarico che leggo che Vincenzo Ferrara, climatologo dell’Enea e futuro coordinatore della Conferenza Nazionale sul Clima, non e’ esattamente aggiornato e proprio in materia di scienza climatica.

Nell’intervista di Luca Fraioli pubblicata sul numero del Venerdi’ del 16 Marzo 2007, Ferrara riesce infatti a fare due errori in una sola risposta, quando dice a proposito di “una nuova glaciazione in Gran Bretagna e in parte del Nord Europa“:

E’ uno degli scenari possibili. Se […] fara’ cosi’ caldo che si scioglieranno i ghiacci della Groenlandia [cio’] causera’ l’interruzione della Corrente del Golfo.

Ferrara insomma riporta come veri due miti della climatologia: infatti, (1) la Corrente del Golfo non puo’ essere interrotta dallo scioglimento dei ghiacci della Groenlandia, (2) non e’ la Corrente del Golfo a proteggere la Gran Bretagna e il Nord Europa da una glaciazione.

——————-

Riguardo (1) consiglierei a Ferrara, Fraioli e tutti quanto scritto da Carl Wunsch, Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physical Oceanography al celeberrimo MIT di Cambridge, Massachusetts (USA) in risposta ad affermazioni simili riportate su The Economist:

The Gulf Stream is a wind-driven phenomenon (as explained in a famous 1948 paper by Henry Stommel). […] Shut-off would imply repeal of the law of conservation of angular momentum […] focusing on near-impossible Gulf Stream failure is an unproductive distraction

La Corrente del Golfo e’ un fenomeno dettato dai venti (come spiegato da Henry Stommel in un famoso articolo scientifico del 1948). […] Un’interruzione significherebbe una violazione della legge di conservazione del momento angolare […] concentrarsi su una fine quasi impossibile della Corrente del Golfo e’ una distrazione improduttiva

La lettera e’ disponibile in toto su Internet.

——————-

A proposito di (2), sul ruolo (o meglio, pressocche’ mancato ruolo) della Corrente del Golfo nel mitigamento del clima britannico e nordeuropeo, c’e’ un interessantissimo articolo di Richard Seager su “Le Scienze” di Febbraio 2007: “Le ragioni del clima europeo” dal sottotitolo “La teoria per cui il clima relativamente mite dell’Europa sarebbe dovuto agli effetti della Corrente del Golfo è un mito che va sfatato“.

Invito davvero a leggere anche quell’articolo, dove il Seager dice fra l’altro che si tratta di una conclusione basata su vecchie ricerche che pero’ nessuno aveva finora “messo assieme“.

——————-

Considero assolutamente preoccupante il fatto che il Coordinatore della Conferenza Nazionale sul Clima non si sia preso la briga di leggere ne’ articoli del 1948, ne’ le piu’ recenti…riscoperte (!) della climatologia.

Mi aspetto una vostra rettifica immediata, per bloccare per quanto possibile certa disinformazione almeno voi.

Saluti
Maurizio Morabito

Categories
Autostrade Italia Italiano Trasporti

Autostrade, Terra di Idioti

Non penso ci vorrebbe poi cosi’ tanto sforzo alla Polizia Stradale per beccare chi guida in maniera pericolosa in autostrada.

Ogni volta che guido per l’Europa, infatti, mi rendo conto di essere davvero arrivato in Italia non tanto per il paesaggio o per i cartelli, ma per l’arrivo di una teoria di idioti veloci e sfanalanti, appiccicati gli uni agli altri a centimetri, altro che metri di distanza di sicurezza.

Ogni anno la tristissima tradizione si rinnova, vuoi a Como, vuoi a Ventimiglia, vuoi alcuni chilometri oltre Aosta (i valdostani si vede che sono italiani, ma fortunatamente per loro solo fino a un certo punto).

Consiglio anche una gita su’ e giu’ per la A12 nel tratto da Pisa alla Versilia, dove piu’ di una volta ho avuto l’impressione di essermi ritrovato nel mezzo di una lotta all’ultimo sorpasso.

O forse sono tutti vittime di gravissimi casi di incontinenza, e devono correre follemente per prescrizione medica verso il primo distributore e gabinetto utili?

Magari una volta installo una semplice telecamera e registro l’infinita serie di sorpassi azzardati, frenate all’ultimo momento, accellerazioni per non far passare nessun altro, sorpassi per poi tagliare la strada ed uscire dall’autostrada, furbate di sorpassare a destra per infilarsi fra l’auto in corsia di sorpasso e il TIR davanti: atteggiamenti magicamente assenti in Francia e in Svizzera.

Chissa’ quanti di quelli poi si siedono al computer per esprimere la loro indignazione sulla incoscienza degli “altri” (come si legge sulla pagina delle lettere de “La Repubblica”).

Per intanto mi chiedo cosa impedisca alla Stradale di andare loro in giro con la telecamerina e il videoregistratore o il computer. Le targhe dei cretini sono ben visibili, e anche le facce, specie quando ti si piantano dietro per chilometri e chilometri.

Categories
Climate Change English Environment Geography Letters NYRB Skepticism

Misleading Pictures, Wrong Caption…

And so once more Global Warming has meant the publication of misleading pictures, with a wrong caption…why oh why does the mere mention of AGW force so many otherwise thoughtful and wise people to switch their brains off?

Here a “Letter to the Editors” just sent to the New York Review Of Books:

Dear Editors

Clarifications and at least one correction are required about the pictures of the Upsala Glacier in Patagonia, Argentina, “from Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth (2006)”, on the first page of Bill McKibben’s “Warning on Warming” (NYRB, March 15, 2007).

At the top, the 1928 photograph of a vast flat glacier; at the bottom, the 2004 ice-free landscape as captured from a similar vantage point as the one 76 years earlier (at least two peaks are clearly distinguishable).

I was surprised indeed to see the New York Review of Books reproduce without much commentary and with a wrong caption a couple of photographs that may turn out to be exceedingly misleading.

(A) CORRECTION

First of all: the caption is wrong. Contrarily to the published text, it is _not true_ that by 2004, “most of the glacier had melted“.

Upsala Glacier still occupies well in excess of 850 sq km (330+ sq mi), an area vastly larger than the one covered by the photographs.

You can see pictures of Upsala taken from the Space Shuttle in January 2004 at the NASA website.

A discussion of the situation 2001-2004 is available on the same site.

================

(B) CLARIFICATIONS

If one could rely on photographs alone, those of Upsala could be the definitive, final, closing, incontrovertible evidence that something has warmed up during the XX century, at least at the location of the Upsala Glacier.

Pictures, however, are not everything, as any modern consumer must have learnt one way or another by now.

Do some little research about Upsala, in fact, and more than one doubt arises about the glacier’s changes having not been mostly caused by warming, global or local or otherwise.

They may be the result instead of the behavior of a large glacier when subjected to particular mechanical stresses.

See for example “Historic Fluctuations of Outlet Glaciers from the Patagonian Ice Fields” at the USGS web site.

That web site reports a picture from “Thinning and retreating of Glaciar Upsala, and an estimate of annual ablation changes in southern Patagonia“, by R. Naruse, P. Skvarca and Y. Takeuchi (Annals of Glaciology, Vol. 24, 1997).

In that paper, it is suggested that “considerable retreat due to calving may have resulted in reduction of longitudinal compressive stress exerted from bedrock rises and islands near the glacier front, causing a considerable decrease in the emergence flow.”

R. Naruse repeated similar considerations at the 2nd International Symposium on Arctic and Antarctic Issues, at Punta Arenas, Chile, in November 1998 (“Dynamic features of glaciers in Patagonia“).

More recently, in “Recent behavior of Glaciar Upsala, a fast-flowing calving glacier in Lago Argentino, southern Patagonia” (Annals of Glaciology, 36, 2003), P. Skvarca, B. Raup and H. De Angelis proposed again that “drastic glacier retreat in the last two decades” may be explained “partly due to the release of back stress when the glacier retreated beyond the islands in Brazo Upsala […] which acted as pinning points.”

You can also read an earlier paper by Mr Skvarca: “Significant Ice Retreat in the Region Patagonia – Antarctic Peninsula Observed by ERS SAR” (ESA ERS 1997 Workshop, 1997) by H. Rott, W. Rack, M. Stuefer and P. Skvarca:

It cannot yet be assessed if the ice retreat in Patagonia […] indicates just regional changes of the atmospheric circulation patterns or can be assigned to global climatic change.”

Last but not least, Upsala is not the only glacier in Patagonia.

Surely if the dramatic retreat of Upsala were related to global warming, all the other glaciers would be retreating too? And yet that is clearly not the case.

Read “Recent Fluctuations and Damming of Glacier Perito Moreno, Patagonia” by H. Rott, M. Stuefer, T. Nagler and C. Riedl (ESA Envisat and ERS 2004 Symposium):

The satellite data, in synergy with field measurements, confirm the stability of the [Perito Moreno] glacier, showing only minor front fluctuations and indicating an approximately balanced mass budget since many years.”

Furthermore, they report the Pio XI glacier as having experienced a “net advance of about 10 km […] from 1945 to 1995“.

=================

Some revealing considerations should be made about Perito Moreno glacier indeed, the advancing glacier whose pictures have been used by Frank Capra in 1958 and by Al Gore in 2006 to demonstrate the retreat of glaciers due to global warming: but those will have to wait for a future article or letter.

For the time being, I am confident the above makes the main points clear:

(1) Most of the Upsala glacier has not melted.

(2) The Upsala glacier 1928-2004 pictures can only be seriously understood with an in-depth commentary of what is being shown, including “what lies beneath”.

And there are all the indications that the local characteristics of the terrain, rather than “Global Warming”, have had a major role in what has been happening.

======================

Given the reputation of the New York Review of Books then, I will be expecting a prompt publication of this letter and of all the necessary explanations.

Keep up the good work

Regards

Maurizio Morabito

UPDATE: The NYRB went only as far as admitting the caption was wrong (read it here)…

Categories
Cattolicesimo Cristianesimo Eterodossia Italiano Politica

Quaderni dell’Eterodossia – II – Religione

(secondo articolo in una serie di riflessioni morali, sociali e politiche contemporanee)

  1. Quaderni dell’Eterodossia – Introduzione
  2. Quaderni dell’Eterodossia – II – Religione
  3. Quaderni dell’Eterodossia – III – Aborto
  4. Quaderni dell’Eterodossia – IV – Famiglia

Sono Cristiano, e Cattolico.

Sono guidato la Bibbia nella sua interpretazione millenaria, e mi arruolerei nel clero cattolico se fosse possibile alle persone sposate.

Pero’ non sono dogmatico, e non sono assolutamente clericale.

Non baso ogni scelta morale su quello che il Papa (o figuriamoci, un Cardinale o un Vescovo) hanno o non hanno detto.

Ad esempio sono favorevole alla pianificazione familiare tramite contraccettivi di ogni genere e tipo, e trovo perfettamente naturali le relazioni gay (si veda anche dopo).

Non capisco, dal punto di vista dottrinario/religioso, l’accanimento spietato delle gerarchie cattoliche su questioni come quelle sull’eutanasia, sull’aborto o sul divorzio.

Temo invece di capire, e non condividere, l’aspetto politico di certo interventismo “alla Ruini”.

Categories
Climate Change English International Herald Tribune Letters

Global Warming Overkill – My Letter on the IHT

For the 12th time, the International Herald Tribune has published a letter by Yours Truly.

As usual, here the text as printed in the newspaper, followed by my original message.

Letter on the IHT:

Global warming overkill (March 8 )

I have been rather disappointed by your three-part “Global warming, land by land” commentaries (March 5).

In “Losing Bangladesh, by degrees,” Tahmima Anam barely mentions the country’s real problems — poverty and overpopulation. We may discuss which one generates the other, but the main issue is not global warming. It’s Bangladesh’s inability to cope with any change.

In “While Australia burns,” Iain McCalman makes the flimsiest of connections to global warming. We barely get a hint of the fact that Australia’s environment has been shaped by thousands of years of fires, independent of any recent climatic change.

Finally, “Memories of a colder Iceland” by Kristin Steinsdottir appears to be an exercise in self-delusion. We are treated to a series of Icelandic climatic quirks and changes, but, for no apparent reason, they are ominously linked to global warming.

If you wanted to demonstrate that global warming is an all-encompassing Mother of All Evils that risks distracting us from real issues, impeding our understanding of nature, you have been successful.

Maurizio Morabito, England

Original:

Dear Editors

I have been rather disappointed by your choice of Opinions for page 6 of the IHT on March 5 (“Global Warming, land by land”).

In “Losing Bangladesh, by degrees“, Tahmima Anam barely mentions the real problems of that country: poverty, and overpopulation. We may discuss which one generates the other, but the main issue is not “Global Warming”: rather, Bangladesh’s inability to cope with _any_ change.

In “While Australia Burns” Iain McCalman makes the flimsiest of connections to “Global Warming”. Again, we barely get a hint of the fact that the Australian natural environment has been shaped by thousands of years of fires, independently of any recent climatic change.

Finally, “Memories of a colder Iceland” by Kristin Steinsdottir appears to be an exercise in self-delusion. Just like years ago everybody seemed to be developing Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, nowadays everybody can feel “Global Warming” in anything that can happen. In the case of Ms. Steinsdottir, we are treated to a series of Icelandic climatic quirks and changes, but still for no apparent reason whatsoever they are ominously linked to “Global Warming”.

Not sure what you had in mind when designing that page. Anyway, you have been very successful if all you wanted to demonstrate was that “Global Warming” is an all-encompassing Mother of All Evils that risks distracting us from the real issues, impeding our understanding of nature, and in general consigning us all to a depressing, self-castrating mood.

Categories
Almoravids Italiano Morabito

Mille e Uno Anni di Morabito

Intorno al 1006 A.D., da qualche parte nel Sud del Marocco nasceva Yūsuf Ibn Tāshfīn, cugino o nipote di Abu-Bakr Ibn-Umar e Yahyā ibn Ibrāhīm, fondatori della dinastia e dello stile di vita Almoravide.

Yūsuf era destinato a vivere cento anni, regnare dalla Spagna al Senegal, e fondare la citta’ di Marrakech in un impero che non gli sopravvisse piu’ di quaranta anni.

I seguaci delle dottrine Almoravide si sarebbero poi dispersi fra il Marocco e la Sicilia orientale, dove probabilmente durante la conversione al cristianesimo fu loro attribuito un cognome: Morabito.

Categories
catastrophism Earth English Overpopulation

Sustainable People

Planet-wide Overpopulation?

(a) Acres needed to feed a person at US dietary standards = 1.2 (= 0.49 hectares)

(b) # of people = 6.5 billions

(c) Land needed to feed them = (a) * (b) = 31.5 million sq km

(d) Land available = 74 million sq km (from Wikipedia = half of the planet’s “dry” land area)

—-> “Current occupation index” = (c) / (d) = 42.4%

In other words, even if all humans were fed according to US dietary standards, there would be space for 15 billion people.

Even by being very conservative on the figures, it is hard to imagine why the planet would not be able to feed 10 or 12 billion humans.

==============

Interestingly, in an article published in Nature (“The end of world population growth” Nature 412, 543-545, August 2001), Lutz et al. forecast a maximum of 8 billion people, around 2075.

And I haven’t even mentioned likely, incremental agricultural improvements.

Planet-wide Overpopulation, then? Not at all.

And there goes another myth of contemporary catastrophism…

Categories
catastrophism Climate Change English Policy Politics

Blair and Gore Cannot Be Wrong on Climate Change

UK PM Tony Blair, former US VP Al Gore and so many other politicians: why have they been so eager to jump on the Climate-Change-is-Humanity’s-Fault bandwagon?

A cynical explanation is in order: because they can’t lose by joining in.

They risk losing a lot instead, by staying out.

In fact, if (a) they can appear to be doing something about Human-induced Climate Change (CC):

  • a1. If CC doesn’t happen, they will claim victoryor
  • a2. If CC does happen, they will blame us all for not trying hard enough, and introduce ever harsher policies in order to… appear to be doing something about CC

On the other hand, the opposite position, of (b) publicly expressing doubts that Climate Change is caused by humans if it is happening at all, will mean:

  • b1. If CC doesn’t happen, they will claim victory, but
  • b2. If CC does happen, they will be blamed by us all for not trying hard enough

Worse, as climate is bound to naturally change if we just observe it for long enough a time, the “If CC doesn’t happen” options are simply immaterial.

It is self-evident then that (a) provides unlimited reward and no risk, while (b) vice-versa carries little reward and career-breaking risks.

Only naive or honest politicians, provided they exist, will refrain from shouting that Humanity is bound to destroy the planet by overheating it with carbon dioxide.

If anybody believes that the above is going to inspire good policies, I’ve got a bridge to sell them

(blog inspired by messages on the Climate Sceptics mailing list)

Categories
Cattolicesimo democrazia Economia Famiglia Filosofia Italiano Politica Storia

Quaderni dell’Eterodossia – Introduzione

(primo articolo in una serie di riflessioni morali, sociali e politiche contemporanee)

  1. Quaderni dell’Eterodossia – Introduzione
  2. Quaderni dell’Eterodossia – II – Religione
  3. Quaderni dell’Eterodossia – III – Aborto
  4. Quaderni dell’Eterodossia – IV – Famiglia

La Storia deve essere nostra guida, perche’ perseverare e’ diabolico, oltre che stupido.

Sono Liberale: perche’ la liberta’ di ogni individuo, quella che si ferma solo dove comincia la liberta’ altrui, e’ l’unica base logica della societa’ moderna; perche’ siamo solo agli inizi della Democrazia rappresentativa, che va continuamente difesa e migliorata.

Sono Liberista: perche’ le regole ci devono essere, ma solo quando sono davvero utili.

Sono Libertario: perche’ non c’e’ convivenza sana che in un regime di tolleranza totale per il legittimo diritto a essere diversi gli uni dagli altri, ed a possedere tutti gli stessi Diritti Civili dal momento in cui si nasce; perche’ lo Stato Etico e’ una buona idea che inevitabilmente conduce all’orrore.

Rivendico anche la possibilita’ di essere contraddittorio ed eterodosso invece che semplicione e “fedele alla linea”:

Dettagli di ogni punto verranno pubblicati nei prossimi giorni.

Categories
Christianity English Humanity Humor Religion

Consistently Sinning

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 9, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Hypocrisy is not only the sin God denounces most forcefully, it is also the least admitted, according to the preacher of the Pontifical Household.

Categories
Cattolicesimo Cristianesimo Italiano Umorismo

Peccatori Coerenti

CITTA’ DEL VATICANO, venerdì, 9 marzo 2007 (ZENIT.org).- L’ipocrisia, il peccato che Dio denuncia con più forza, è anche il meno ammesso [ha detto] il predicatore del Papa.

Categories
Astronomy & Space English Moon Space

Oldies to the Moon!

Larry Kellogg has more details on the issue of protecting people when working on the Moon (see my previous blog “Where to Build Inflatable Lunar Structures“).

In my paper on the topic I reported the recommendation of a protection for astronauts of a minimum 4 meters of regolith (lunar soil).

As correctly pointed out by Larry, the issue is that thinner shielding with aluminum-reach lunar regolith could actually be more harmful than beneficial. Fast-moving energetic particles raining from space and hitting too thin a layer of regolith would generate slower but not stop “secondary emissions” that would then interact more with human tissues such as the blood.

As plastics or water stop the radiation particles with considerably fewer “secondary emissions”, they may provide more protection with considerably less thickness.

===============

How much protection is actually needed? On Earth, the general public should receive less than 0.5 rem/year. For those who work with radiation, the maximum is 5 rem/year.

It turns out that space projects allow for Astronauts to be cooked with a maximum of 50 rem/year. Somehow, this 100-fold increase on what our bodies were evolved to tolerate is not expected to cause much harm.

Perhaps, the very people that suggest that, they should be volunteered for experiments as human guinea pigs.

Sometimes in 2008, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter probe will provide some more information. There is lots to investigate indeed.

===============

For the time being however, we can play it safe.

It is well known that people above a certain age can more reasonably run the risk of exposure to higher radiation doses, if only because they have a higher chance than younger persons of dying of other causes before developing any kind of radiation-induced tumor.

How about selecting “oldies” as Lunar Astronauts then? Given expected life spans, anybody above 70 would do.

For a candidate for a lunar trip in 2037 and beyond, look no further than to the author of this fantastic blog.

Categories
Italiano Uncategorized

Ode alla Cultura e alla Conoscenza

Giancarlo Santalmassi, il noto giornalista attualmente Direttore di Radio24, spiega in maniera impareggiabile il potere (e la fondamentale utilita’) della Cultura (nel senso di Conoscenza), potere ancora piu’ importante nella contemporanea “societa’ della comunicazione”.

Nel programma “Lettere a Radio 24” del 7 Marzo 2007, Santalmassi risponde cosi’ a una ascoltatrice che segnalava una trasmissione dove a suo dire un ospite aveva manipolato la verita’:

La societa’ della comunicazione non e’ la societa’ della conoscenza. Cio’ che ci puo’ aiutare nel superare i limiti che sempre ogni informazione inevitabilmente reca con se, e’ la propria Cultura.

“Cio’ che sappiamo noi” e’ l’unica risorsa che ci puo’ mettere al riparo, al sicuro.

“Quello che sappiamo” ci aiuta a decodificare meglio tutto: le strumentalizzazioni, le provocazioni, le falsita’ in questo caso non avrebbero effetto su di noi. E’ la stessa risorsa che aiuta a capire le patacche di Igor Marini e Mario Scaramella.

Sapere di storia, antropologia, economia aiuta anche noi giornalisti a valutare i documenti che ci arrivano che quasi sempre se hanno scopi inquinanti hanno questa tecnica: sono per meta’ veri e per meta’ falsi.

Chi ci aiuta a separare il vero dal falso, il grano dal loglio, il cascame dalla seta? Tutti, i giornalisti o i lettori, hanno una sola protezione: il loro patrimonio di conoscenza.

Categories
English Moon NASA Space Vostok

Moon: a Faraway Place for Female Astronauts

It took the whole of 19 years between the 1963 space flight of  Valentina Tereshkova and that of another woman (Svetlana Savitskaya in 1982).

That gap was due no doubt to compounding of a male chauvinist Soviet society on top of all the issues encountered during her Vostok 6 flight, clearly only few of them even remotely attributable to her own fault: wrong orbit, problems in handling the equipment, Space Adaptation Syndrome including vomiting, unbearable pain, low food consumption, radio silence, etc etc.

It could have easily been predicted that those issues would become the excuse to ground female astronauts for decades, and that’s exactly what has happened.

Move forward now to 2007 and to the abysmal tragedy of Lisa Nowak, the NASA astronaut with more experience in maneuvering the Space Shuttle’s robotic arm than her own emotions.

Perhaps there is less chauvinism now than in the mid-1960’s…but only time will tell if the Nowak Affair will not become the excuse to prevent women to fly to the Moon until much, much later this century. 

Categories
Italia Italiano Mafia Radio24

Cruciani e la coppola di Cuffaro

Giuseppe Cruciani, apprezzato conduttore di vari programmi su Radio24 fra cui “Viva Voce“, e’ stato vittima di un inaspettato ma illuminante scivolone nella puntata de “La Zanzara” del 6 Marzo 2007.

All’inizio della trasmissione ha infatti ritrasmesso, un po’ scandalizzato, l’audio di un “intervento comico” del Presidente della Regione Sicilia Toto’ Cuffaro.

Disponibile su YouTube, il video di Cuffaro con la coppola e un bicchiere di vino lo vede filosofare con il conduttore di una trasmissione televisiva di politica siciliana, arrivando a suggerire di dichiarare guerra all’America per essere invasi e… liberati dalle vessazioni dello Stato Italiano.

Cruciani ha espresso dubbi su tali vessazioni, sull’umorismo dell’invasione americana e sull’opportunita’ per un personaggio chiacchierato come Cuffaro di “interpretare” il ruolo del solito mafioso con la solita coppola.

In realta’ il video di Cuffaro che gioca a fare la guerra all’America potrebbe essere usato come biglietto di ingresso per… gli Italiani alla realta’ italiana.

Infatti lo scandalizzarsi sulla performance di Cuffaro non e’ in fondo in fondo dovuto altro che allo scontro fra sensibilita’ ed esperienze storiche diverse: e quelle di Sicilia (e Calabria, oserei aggiungere) non sono quelle di gran parte della Penisola.

Il fatto che Cruciani abbia poi scambiato una “coppola” come un simbolo della mafia significa che i presunti legami “inopportuni” di Cuffaro e la sua gestione particolare della Sicilia non sono il vero punto del contendere. E’ stato un po’ come guardare in cagnesco un filmato di sauditi dicendo che e’ inopportuno il loro vestirsi come Osama bin Laden.

L’Italia e’ varia, molto piu’ varia di quanto uno possa mai immaginare.

ps La barzelletta dell’invasione americana e’ vecchia di almeno venticinque anni

pps Uno si immagina che Cuffaro pero’ non voglia che Palermo diventi Baghdad…

Categories
Arnold Kling Cato Institute Energy English Policy Political Economy Politics Taxes TCS

Cato Institute Scholar Lauds the Power of Taxes

Perhaps Arnold Kling may want to reconsider his thoughts after realizing he has just argued for higher taxes, and heavier governmental intervention in the energy sector:

The most important, inconvenient truth about energy policy is that there is no justification for a subsidy for good energy. Subsidies for wind farms, solar energy, ethanol, and so forth, whether they come from government “energy policy” or personal carbon offsets, are pure pork.

It may be true, as Greg Mankiw argues in his Pigou Club Manifesto, that higher taxes on bad energy are justified. Figuring out the optimum tax is a difficult challenge, even for the Pigou Club. However, once the correct tax is set, that by itself provides all the incentive that is needed to get people to switch to good energy. The tax on bad energy will raise the price that people are willing to pay for good energy. That higher price for good energy is all of the incentive that producers need to undertake the effort to provide more good energy.

It would have helped to have a little more reasoning on how difficult the challenge to find what a “optimum tax” is, and how dangerous things can become if that’s miscalculated.

As things stand, I can imagine such details getting forgotten whilst certain people will use the article “The Political Economy of Alternative Energy” to support strong governmental activism.

Or perhaps it’s a matter of finding the lesser of two evils? Was Kling’s a way to demonstrate that pork looks worse than taxes in the eyes of a person advocating freer markets?