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Comment Re:Hopefully (Score 1) 747

The Earth has, in the past, been much warmer and much more conducive to plant life. The implicit assumption that the current (or pre-industrial, for that matter) global temperature is ideal is unproven.

Noted, however:

  • crops - those plants used in agriculture are but a small fraction of plant life on the planet.
  • while global temperatures have been higher millions of years ago plants would have had tens or hundreds of years to adapt. Rates of warming predicted would only give them hundreds of years to adapt.

Comment Re:Hopefully (Score 1) 747

Increased evaporation from the oceans, and the resultant rain, may also start to arrest desertification, adding to the effect modeled by these studies.

It is also easily forgotten that increased temperatures doesn't just mean more evaporation from oceans, but also from lands. Bigger floods and drier droughts is not exactly conducive to agriculture as both will kill crops.

Comment Re:externality (Score 1) 875

A tax on carbon is a tax on everything.

Why the exaggeration?

The kinds of carbon tax proposed is a tax on the release of carbon that has been locked in the Earth for millions of years, not all carbon emissions. It is only emissions of old carbon that are of concern.

Furthermore a tax on carbon does not affect all things equally. The tax would for example make bottled water shipped from the other side of the world more many times more than tap water, which would hardly be affected at all. It means that food trucked from hundreds of kilometers away will no longer be competitive with food grown by local farmers or your backyard.

You might complain about ordering books on Amazon, but then doesn't it make more sense to get an electronic copy? And if you must have a hard copy, then would it not be better and cheaper to print it at a local printing service?

The tax does make some things expensive - things that involve long distances for example - but that is the point. As long as there are alternatives, then the tax encourages people to change their behaviour to use these cheaper alternatives.

Furthermore, these price changes are necessary. As we speak, local farmland is being built on by developers to make a buck at the expense of everyone living nearby who have to source their foods from further away. We have an economic system that encourages this wasteful behaviour.

Mind you, if the carbon tax replaces income tax. You will have on average more disposable income that cancels exactly the average prices rises from the carbon tax. And then if you change your behaviour you will save more money and save the environment at the same time.

Now wouldn't that be great?

Comment Re:Why?? (Score 1) 753

Except copyright laws affect everyone whereas contracts can only affect those who have signed a contract. People who come across any kind of intellectual material without having signed a contract would have been able to anything with it regardless of whatever contract was signed by others previously. In fact contracts based on the monopoly rights granted by the government are prevalent so contracts have not been made unnecessary by copyright at all.

Copyright have not replaced contracts, but provided for the use of contracts in situtations where it would otherwise be ineffective. It is therefore *not* a simplification, replacement nor harmonisation of the practise of entering into contracts.

Comment Re:Democracy? (Score 1) 865

Abolish elections and select your legislatures by random sampling of the population.

That completely undermines parties as well as saving the huge costs of elections and the corruption of election financing by big corporations.

That's what you call a Jury, and it's not such a bad idea.

You may as well make it a Jury - consensus decision making, new juries selected to judge on each new bill, 12 jurists, etc. It can even make decision making faster because you can have multiple Juries deliberating on separate bills at the same time.

It doesn't mean we can't have elected representatives elected by generate elections. They just won't be passing any laws themselves. They can only sponsor bills and speak for or against bills sponsored by any representative. The Jury would be sole body responsible for passing it into law, and unanimous decision making

Comment Re:Embryonic stem cells shouldn't be replaced (Score 1) 231

Really now. If what these guys are saying is true and any cells can be reprogrammed. What's the big benefit of harvesting embryo's?

The original argument against embryonic stem cell research was that is either is potential for life or is life and that killing an embryo is killing life.

If embryonic stem cells and skin cells are really interchangeable, then perhaps skin cells have the potential for life as well.

In that case what is the difference if we work on embryonic stem cells or skin cells?

Comment Isn't horizontal gene transfer just ... (Score 1) 313

an example of Darwinian Evolution, but just at a different level?

For example, if you think of the unit of evolution as a gene instead of an organism and a bacteria as a habitat instead of an organism, then the gene evolves vertically, by replication and duplication. The transfer between two bacteria are just the gene migrating from one habitat to another.

Comment Re:Much as I'd love to make a great pun about uran (Score 1) 347

Interestingly it is actually only about twice as hard to get away from Uranus

Thanks for that. I wasn't really prepared to do the integration to work it out.

However, remember that E = 1/2mv^2

So twice the velocity is four times the energy.

And unless your fuel is of negligible mass or your energy source is not carried out with the payload, you still need to supply even more energy to carry all that extra fuel.

In light of this, twice as fast does not equate to twice as hard.

Comment Re:Much as I'd love to make a great pun about uran (Score 1) 347

As cmowire pointed out gravity on most of these planets is not so great, with the exception of Jupiter where it is IIRC 2.5 g or so. On saturn it is just over a g and on Uranus and Neptune it is below one g. While their mass is huge their density is low so gravity is modest.

It helps, but it's still a lot more costly energy-wise to launch from there.

If you were on the Earth's surface and then doubled your distance from the centre of the Earth, gravity will change from g to 0.25g (ie. the r squared term on the bottom of Newton's law of gravitation).

The Earth has a radius of 6,500 km, so to get that reduction of gravity, you need to supply enough energy to move about 6,500 km against gravity.

The radius of Uranus is about 25,559 km. Let's suppose the gravity on the surface there is also g for illustration. In this case to get the same reduction in gravity to 0.25g you need to supply enough energy to move about 25,559 km against gravity. In order to do that you would need to carry more fuel, which will compound your launch costs further.

To imagine it visually, think of the Earth's gravity as a gravity well with a gradient (ie. slope) of g at the Earth's surface. Imagine the same for Uranus. They both have the same slope at their surfaces, however, with Uranus, the gravity well is much larger, with gravity staying near g for a greater distance from it's surface. Clearly a larger gravity well is harder to escape even if the gravity is the same.

Try plugging in those values into Newton's law of universal gravitation yourself for confirmation.


Visual Studio 2010 Forces Tab Indenting 390

An anonymous reader writes "For years, Microsoft has allowed Visual Studio users to define arbitrary tab widths, often to the dismay of those viewing the resultant code in other editors. With VS 2010, it appears that they have taken the next step of forcing tab width to be the same as the indent size in code. Two-space tabs anyone?"

Comment Re:Four YEARS? (Score 1) 561

the weather man can't predict the weather for the comming week. but for some reason you think they can predict the weather 100 years into the future accurately?

Don't be silly. They don't call it "weather change" for a reason. It's called "climate change" and involves changes in climate, which *can* be predicted.

Anyone who knows anything about statistics knows you can't predict any particular event - for example the weather on any particular day (at some distant time in the future), but you can predict the distribution of those events - for example, how many hot days vs cold days in that year.

Heck, you can make predictions on totally random events like the throw of a fair dice: that each number would appear close to 50 times if you throw the dice 300 times.

If you don't understand that, you have absolutely no clue what climate change is all about.