Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Complex Unknowns

Here is a 3-D chart showing the dependence of atmospheric CO2 on season and hemisphere. I find the shape of this chart very surprising, and somewhat disturbing. Disturbing because of our revealed ignorance. The Earth is a complex system with feedback loops that we don't understand. If a certain combination of conditions, such as the complete melting of European glaciers (as an example), were to arise, it might trigger a cybernetically positive feedback loop, a runaway situation where the outcome can be characterized only by chaos theory and catastrophic cusps.

In the War of the Worlds, we will not be running from Martians, but rather from the things we have done to ourselves.

6/29/2005 3:58 PM

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