Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
I have no trouble understanding that a tiny event can cause a great change.

Say you're standing next to someone, and a cop is swinging a water cannon in your direction. You shout "Hey, Pig!" and the sound of your voice causes him to twitch the hose in your direction.

I've also worked with fluid amplifiers, which work just like transistor amplifiers. Eerily similar.

BUT, you can't back-predict, because you don't know enough. All we really know is that change is increasing, which is a bad sign. We're delicate creatures, balanced on the hope of good growing seasons, and the return of the salmon...

Align culture with our nature. Ot else!

by ormondotvos (ormond.otvosnospamgmialcon) on Sat Dec 11th, 2010 at 03:14:27 AM EST
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As I understand it catastrophe and chaos theories in maths are all about modelling "unstable" systems where small changes can give rise to dramatic and otherwise counter-intuitive consequences - the mathematical equivalent of walking off the edge of a cliff you didn't realise was there.

The problem is that predicting climate changes - particularly as they apply to particular regions requires such a monstrous amount of data - which we currently are only beginning to gather - that the degree of uncertainty around such climate models is huge.

However, as you say, human societies, and particularly those in NW Europe, are highly optimised to particular climatic patterns and any significant changes are therefore almost always problematic - e.g. rising sea levels, extreme weather events, droughts, harvest failures etc..

It seems to me that human adaptation becomes problematic and expensive at those extremes - e.g. persistent temperatures outside the 0-40 centigrade range, wind velocities above storm force, precipitation levels much above/below the long/short term average.

Global climate change thus poses huge adaptation challenges for societies as well as for the biosphere, where a further increase is mass extinction events can be expected.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Dec 11th, 2010 at 07:46:20 AM EST
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All we really know is that change is increasing, which is a bad sign. We're delicate creatures,

yes we are, sometimes too much so, spoiled and pampered by the gimme lifestyle.

supposing peoples' thoughts have power, how many people suffering have been aching and praying for change for so long?

we are comfortable, for some it has taken years of careful choices to become so, and yes we want things to stay as stable as possible, natch.

but for the vast majority of humans on earth right now, i'd venture a guess that they are fed up to the molars with the status quo, and are entreating every deity imaginable to end their pain, and, most importantly, can't afford the compassion to care very much what has to come tumbling down in our cosy world, if it holds any promise of things changing on the ground for them... that's not envying our freedoms, except the one that lets us continue to look away from the problem, and even if we grok it, we can't help be conditioned by our own survival fears, and worry that social justice/equality might take what we have gathered and have it swept away in a flood of change.

that's why it's hard not to be pessimistic, seeing the lack of action on climate change, the continued bad banking practices left unchecked, etc etc.

the ignorance of a few is holding back the betterment of many, and the fact that some of us have carved little niches of relative health in a fundamentally sick host system is entirely moot, unless we find a model of living that allows for scaling up, maybe not to infinity, lol, but a hell of a way more so than the ones most westerners model, and which the new bric richsters are falling over themselves aping and even parodying in their rabid envy and lust for the rotten apple of consumerschlockism, premature planned obsolescence, and fashionista-ism.

i say this not to counter what you have said, but to riff further on it...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Dec 11th, 2010 at 10:55:33 AM EST
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