Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Scientific Survey

Pharaoh heard that in his prisons there lived a man who could interpret dreams. He called for Joseph, and his soldiers brought the young man before him.

“I have had a dream,” Pharaoh said. “In my dream there are seven fat cows, and seven thin cows. The thin cows eat the fat cows but they remain thin. What does it mean?”

Joseph pondered, and quietly asked God for guidance, and said, “it means that there will be seven years of plenty, and Egypt will prosper like never before. But there will follow seven years of hardship, and unless Egypt prepares now, by saving as much of the plenty as this great nation can, there will be great suffering.”

Pharaoh nodded, seeing the wisdom of Joseph’s words. It only made sense to prepare for hard times while things were going well, even if the precision of Joseph’s prediction was questionable.

“Um… Pharaoh,” said the trusted advisor on his left, the chief architect of the pyramid project about to launch, “Seven years of plenty! That’s great! If you ignore this man’s advice, I can make the monument to you even more magnificent.”

On his right, another adviser spoke. “If bad times follow the good, it is the will of the gods. WE will survive, OUR families will not starve, even if millions of the working class who just finished your pyramid die. That, too, is the will of the gods. The workers will die happily, knowing they contributed to your eternal might.”

Joseph listened to this discourse and said, “No, seriously, It’s going to be bad. I’m 99.9% sure it’s going to be really really bad.”

“Aha!” cried the architect. “So you’re not certain!

Pharaoh looked from his advisors to Joseph and back. “Make the monument bigger,” he said.


That Carbon Dioxide Tipping Point

I file this under politics because it is politics that is blinding us.

The oil industry* and their paid shills (known as deniers)** made a few waves recently when, in a carefully-worded survey of climate scientists, fewer than half were willing to single out carbon dioxide as the single greatest contributor to global warming.

“Half of all Scientists disagree with climate change!” was the nonsensical conclusion. A slightly-less-nonsensical conclusion was “Humans create carbon dioxide; if that’s not the primary driver of global warming, then warming is not because of humans.”

But let’s look at that for a moment. There’s another conclusion, and while it’s much more reasonable, it’s also much more scary: Carbon Dioxide isn’t the the primary driver of global warming any more. We’ve crossed a tipping point.

Meet Methane, and the point of no return.

While CO2 was the problem, there was something we could do about it: produce less CO2. Let the algae and the rain forests (whoops!) absorb the surplus back, and let our planet return to its previous equilibrium. We dithered, and denied, and the tundra began to thaw. Now the tundra is burping up enormous amounts of methane.

As a greenhouse gas, methane makes CO2 look like a punk kid with missing teeth.

So if many scientists don’t think Carbon Dioxide is the biggest contributor any more, that doesn’t mean they don’t believe the surface of our planet is getting hotter, it means that the game has changed. It means things have moved to a stage that we cannot reverse just by suddenly not being so selfish and short-sighted. It means there is nothing we can do to stop the change, and the sooner we turn our efforts to dealing with it, the less it will hurt.

But man, it’s gonna hurt.

* shorthand for all carbon-based energy companies
** almost all the publicized climate-change deniers are on the energy company payrolls. I say “almost” only because there are probably a few who are just stupid.

Stupid Friday

When I moved out to California to leverage my Physics degree into a career in fast food, I lamented with my roommates that we just weren’t as stupid as we had been in our carefree college days. Back in the good ol’ days, we had thought nothing of the consequences of staying up all night, our eyeballs exploding from the mixture of caffeine and alcohol we ingested, peeing off sheer cliffs of crumbling rock, numbering the stars and toooooasting life, wearing 12-pack cartons as hats.

Now we were living in a city, and many nights we had to keep in mind the r-r-responsibilities of the coming day. Still, reluctant to let go of the golden days of youth, we came up with a plan. A simple, elegant plan called Stupid Friday.

It was a Friday, for instance, when I shaved the top of my head to go with the monk costume I wore to a Halloween party. On another Friday we got several liters of Mountain Dew, went to a local park, and played chip-chip hula hoop tennis ball golf long into the night. (One of our number was a master at building a fun game out of a pile of toys. A recreational MacGyver.)

Stupid Fridays were a resounding success, so it was not long before we expanded the franchise. Dumb Wednesday became a feature of our calendar, and then things really took off:

  • Moronic Monday
  • Futile Tuesday
  • Dumb Wednesday
  • ??? Thursday
  • Stupid Friday

I can’t for the life of me remember what we named Thursday, but it was one of the earlier additions to our calendar, as it was only slightly more stupid than Friday. Dumb Wednesday’s name was inspired at least in part by the movie Big Wednesday, which I remember fondly and wonder now how I’d like it. Futile Tuesday has a nice ring to it, and Moronic Monday is what it is. Maybe another alumnus of the EmmaDome can remember Thursday’s moniker.

I still invoke Stupid Friday now and again, and even Dumb Wednesday. Life is too short to be r-r-responsible all the time.