Nature is not natural and can never be naturalized — Graham Harman

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Dipesh Chakrabarty Liveblog 5

The traditional argument is that if you solve inequality, population takes care of itself. But even this doesn't connect to capitalism as such in a straightforward and simple way.

So the argument that AGW is a false term, humanity's problem is a false term—these guys try to fold the problem back into the scale of the history of capitalism.

The same thing happens with economists. Or even with lawyers trying to create legal frameworks. If you read Stearne and Garner, you find that because economists are trying to make models, in which the causal connections are known, and you can show which way they work--trying to make predictive models...(there can be up to 19 variables), there is an inherent limitation of time scale. They can't speak beyond a few centuries. At best.

So when you look at the policies, you see they are talking about 50 to 70 years. Most discussions don't go beyond 2050 or end at 2100.

The first basic science volume of the climate change report: one science is the physics of climate change. “If you increase the amount of CO2, the planet will warm up.” Etc. In reality of course there are all kinds of other factors.

Six Degrees, Mark Lynas: a basic linear model.
But there is another science. Palaeoclimatology. If you look at that, they are mostly geologists and Hansen and Archer, etc., the scale is just vast. Archer's The Long Thaw.
There is a vast amount of climate change science that is almost as useless as a humanities person is!
What the hell can I do about a 100 000 year scale! Etc.
In their prose, there is a great deal of effort to bring this within the grasp of our experience and imagination. But there is an interesting problem.
An Indian story: An American tourist is being guided around by an Indian, who points to a building and says see how old our civilization is? That building is 3004 years old. “How do you get the 4?” Well it's four years since I heard the date!

But the scientists are not about affect. They are producing science that is not actionable. There are so many relationships (feedback etc.) they can't even tell you what it will be exactly like in the short term. They know that long term what will happen: disaster. Because we have the geological record.

Geology provides vital evidence. Physicists can't tell you that the emissions are anthropogenic. In order to know that, you have to historicize the other global warming events. You need that knowledge.

David Archer: The Global Carbon Cycle. If you take a very long history of this planet, the planet oscillates between an ice house condition and a hot house condition, changing over a million years. What manages that change (the thermostat) is its carbon cycle. The planet inhales and exhales carbon dioxide. The carbon cycle is almost coeval with the history of life.

Lovelock: living things play a role in maintaining this cycle. Then there is the glacial cycle, much smaller scale: 100 000 year cycle with 30 000 year gaps. Ice ages. We may have put off the next ice age. This affects planetary orbit. (Paging Shelley...)

So, says David Archer, we may be playing around with the thermostat of the planet. Lovelock: this has profoundly to do with the history of life on the planet. (cont.)

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