Tuesday, May 13, 2008


An amusing look at a 1961 attempt at prophecy. The prophecies were said to be based on "science fact" but they were 99% wrong

What sort of life will you be living 39 years from now? Scientists have looked into the future and they can tell you. It looks as if everything will be so easy that people will probably die from sheer boredom. You will be whisked around in monorail vehicles at 200 miles an hour and you will think nothing of taking a fortnight's holiday in outer space. Your house will probably have air walls, and a floating roof, adjustable to the angle of the sun. Doors will open automatically, and clothing will be put away by remote control. The heating and cooling systems will be built into the furniture and rugs.

You'll have a home control room - an electronics centre, where messages will be recorded when you're away from home. This will play back when you return, and also give you up-to-the minute world news, and transcribe your latest mail. You'll have wall-to-wall global TV, an indoor swimming pool, TV-telephones and room-to-room TV. Press a button and you can change the decor of a room.

The status symbol of the year 2000 will be the home computer help, which will help mother tend the children, cook the meals and issue reminders of appointments. Cooking will be in solar ovens with microwave controls. Garbage will be refrigerated, and pressed into fertiliser pellets.

Food won't be very different from 1961, but there will be a few new dishes - instant bread, sugar made from sawdust, foodless foods (minus nutritional properties), juice powders and synthetic tea and cocoa. Energy will come in tablet form.

At work, Dad will operate on a 24 hour week. The office will be air-conditioned with stimulating scents and extra oxygen - to give a physical and psychological lift. Mail and newspapers will be reproduced instantly anywhere in the world by facsimile. There will be machines doing the work of clerks, shorthand writers and translators. Machines will "talk" to each other.

It will be the age of press-button transportation. Rocket belts will increase a man's stride to 30 feet, and bus-type helicopters will travel along crowded air skyways. There will be moving plastic-covered pavements, individual hoppicopters, and 200 m.p.h. monorail trains operating in all large cities.

The family car will be soundless, vibrationless and self-propelled thermostatically. The engine will be smaller than a typewriter. Cars will travel overland on an 18 inch air cushion. Railways will have one central dispatcher, who will control a whole nation's traffic. Jet trains will be guided by electronic brains.

In commercial transportation, there will be travel at 1000 m.p.h. at a penny a mile. Hypersonic passenger planes, using solid fuels, will reach any part of the world in an hour. By the year 2020, five per cent of the world's population will have emigrated into space. Many will have visited the moon and beyond.

Our children will learn from TV, recorders and teaching machines. They will get pills to make them learn faster. We shall be healthier, too. There will be no common colds, cancer, tooth decay or mental illness. Medically induced growth of amputated limbs will be possible. Rejuvenation will be in the middle stages of research, and people will live, healthily, to 85 or 100.

There's a lot more besides to make H.G. Wells and George Orwell sound like they're getting left behind. And this isn't science fiction. It's science fact - futuristic ideas, conceived by imaginative young men, whose crazy-sounding schemes have got the nod from the scientists. It's the way they think the world will live in the next century - if there's any world left!


Cold Water Thrown on Antarctic Global-Warming Predictions

Antarctica hasn't warmed as much over the last century as climate models had originally predicted, a new study finds. Climate change's effects on Antarctica are of particular interest because of the substantial amount of water locked up in its ice sheets. Should that water begin to melt, sea levels around the globe could rise and inundate low-lying coastal areas.

The new study, detailed in the April 5 issue of the journal Geophysical Research Letters, marks the first time that researchers have been able to give a progress report on Antarctic climate model projections by comparing climate records to model simulations. (These comparisons have already been done for the other six continents.)

Information about Antarctica's harsh weather patterns has traditionally been limited, but temperature records from ice cores and ground weather stations have recently been constructed, giving scientists the missing information they needed. "This is a really important exercise for these climate models," said study leader Andrew Monaghan of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Co.

Monaghan and his team found that while climate models projected temperature increases of 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit (0.75 degrees Celsius) over the past century, temperatures were observed to have risen by only 0.4 F (0.2 C). "This is showing us that, over the past century, most of Antarctica has not undergone the fairly dramatic warming that has affected the rest of the globe," Monaghan said.

The gap between prediction and reality seemed to be caused by the models overestimating the amount of water vapor in the Antarctic atmosphere. The cold air over the southernmost continent handles moisture differently than the atmosphere over warmer regions. The models did, however, correctly capture the increases in snowfall over Antarctica in the late 20th century, followed by a decrease in the last decade.

One reason that Antarctica hasn't warmed as much as other parts of the globe is the existence of the man-made ozone hole overhead: It alters wind patterns, creating a swirling belt of winds around the landmass that keeps comparatively warm air from seeping in, preserving the continent's frigid temperatures. One important exception to this rule is the Antarctic Peninsula, which has warmed by several degrees, in part because winds there draw in warmer air from the north.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has estimated that sea levels could rise by 7 to 23 inches (18 to 59 centimeters) globally this century, in part due to ice melt at both poles and from mountain glaciers. The new study, funded by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy, suggests that warming in Antarctica could offset this amount by about 2 inches (5 centimeters) if the continent warms by 5.4 F (3 C), as warmer air would hold more moisture and generate more snowfall, which contributes to the growth of the ice sheets, locking up any additional water in the these large masses of ice. That would mean a rise of only 5 to 21 inches (13 to 54 centimeters).

But these projections are by no means certain - if melt from Antarctic ice sheets outweighed the snowfall that contributes to their growth, sea level rise could be higher. "The research clearly shows that you can actually slow down sea-level rise when you increase temperatures over Antarctica because snowfall increases, but warmer temperatures also have the potential to speed up sea-level rise due to enhanced melting along the edges of Antarctica," Monaghan said. "Over the next century, whether the ice sheet grows from increased snowfall or shrinks due to more melt will depend on how much temperatures increase in Antarctica, and potentially on erosion at the ice sheet edge by the warmer ocean and rising sea level."

The findings of the study don't call into question model projections for other parts of the globe, Monaghan said. "The models are really doing quite a good job at simulating the 20th-century changes [Wise after the event] over the six inhabited continents," he told LiveScience.


Greens Going for the Green

Even with the human tragedy of Cyclone Nargis still unfolding in Burma, environmentalists aren't wasting any time linking the disaster to global warming. Or at least one isn't: Al Gore. Citing the deadly Burmese storm and recent storms in China and Bangladesh, he declared on National Public Radio: "We're seeing consequences that scientists have long predicted might be associated with continued global warming."

There's just one problem -- it's not clear there's any link between climate change and hurricane numbers or intensity. The number of big storms has been falling, not rising. As for intensity, researchers led by Christopher Landsea of the National Hurricane Center have found that earlier generations of hurricane-watchers using inferior satellite imagery incorrectly classified many storms as weaker than they actually were. After correcting for this mismeasurement, the "increase" in storm intensity since the 1970s nearly disappears.

But Mr. Gore is perhaps too busy these days to follow the science closely. In April, a London-based company he chairs began selling shares in its so-called Global Sustainability Fund to small investors in New Zealand, following a similar offer to investors in Australia (interestingly, out of sight of the U.S. press). He was also a conspicuously invoked presence when the Silicon Valley firm Kleiner Perkins this month announced a new $500 million "green growth" fund in partnership with Mr. Gore's London firm. Asked by the San Jose Mercury News if Mr. Gore had been helpful in raising money, co-manager John Denniston replied: "That's not been his primary responsibility."

Uh huh. Mr. Gore's primary responsibility, from the looks of it, is to spread alarm about global warming and create the political conditions (subsidies, mandates) without which Kleiner's "green" energy ventures are unlikely to flourish. Expect the payoff to come next year as a new Congress and President debate global warming policy.



Millions of families are having to spend almost 1,000 pounds a year extra on food after more punishing price rises. The annual increase in the price of a basket of essentials surged to 19.1 per cent in May, according to the Daily Mail Cost of Living Index. The rate has jumped alarmingly from 15.5 per cent in April - a 3.6 per cent rise - and there is no sign of the pressure easing. There is now a worldwide crisis over supplies of key crops such as corn, wheat and rice. It has triggered food riots in some countries. And in the UK it has brought the biggest rises in bills in a generation.

A family which spent 100 pounds a week on food last year now has to find another 19.10 for the same products, equivalent to 993 a year. Once "must-pay" bills for petrol, mortgages, power and council tax are added, the extra cost is more like 2,200 pounds. Yet the official inflation rate is just 2.6per cent.

Experts say a worldwide drive to produce biofuels - made from corn, wheat and soya as an alternative to oil - is a major factor. Farmers have switched from food production to biofuel crops. Last month, the EU agreed the biofuel content of all petrol and diesel should be 2.5 per cent. This is set to rise to 10 per cent by 2020.

But the Government's two most senior scientists, Professor John Beddington and Professor Robert Watson, have called for a rethink on the rush to biofuels. Professor Beddington said: "It's very hard to imagine the world growing enough crops to produce renewable energy and at the same time meet the enormous demand for food." Gordon Brown is understood to be preparing to call on the EU to scrap the plan.

More here


Do today's soaring food prices and Third World food riots mean we're headed for global famine? Not any time soon-if we suspend the biofuels mandates quickly. Unfortunately, if we keep burning corn, wheat, and palm oil in our vehicles, there's no limit to the hunger, malnutrition, wildlife extinction and political disruption we can cause.

The problem is simple: Food demand is inelastic. People need about the same number of calories whether they're expensive or cheap. But the demand for biofuels is almost without limit. An acre of corn produces only 50 gallons worth of gasoline per acre, while humans worldwide burn more than a trillion gallons of gasoline per year. Biofuels could absorb the whole world's crop production without bringing down gasoline prices-because we're banning coal and refusing to drill for oil. If we want to keep on eating, we'll have to scrap the false "fuel security" of the biofuels.

Even giving up biofuels won't stave off the world's hunger for long, because we'll need more than twice as much food and feed per year by 2050. The number of humans is likely to peak at about 8 billion, up from today's 6.4 billion, and at least 7 billion of them are likely to be affluent enough to eat meat and ice cream. They'll have fewer children-but more pets, few of them vegetarian.

If the world plans to have forests, wildlands, and wildlife species in the 22nd century, then we'll need to triple the crop yields on the land we already farm-just for food and feed. Except for a chunk of western Brazil, there isn't much high-quality cropland left in the world for cropland expansion, and none of it "extra" for biofuels.

But the same people who don't want us to burn coal are telling us not to raise high-yield crops either. Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund tell us not to use nitrogen fertilizer taken from the air. They demand organic-only nitrogen from cattle manure or green manure crops-but such low-yield systems produce only half as much food per acre.

We're locked into the same "don't use it" debate on food as on energy. Is the Greens' information on high yield crops any better than their "advice" on global warming-which tells us to stop burning fossil fuels though the world has cooled over the last ten years?

The funding for farm science has declined sharply since Dr. Norman Borlaug led the Green Revolution and saved a billion people from starving. America's land-grant universities are now researching how to farm organically, though such "research" has never produced a yield breakthrough. The high-yield studies are being done mainly by agribusiness-and by Bill Gates who has vowed to rekindle a Green Revolution for Africa whether the Greens like it or not.

Now, a big new report from the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) has been cited as evidence that industrialized food production is screwing up the planet. This report was supposed to be the "big tent" laying out the consensus path for future agricultural research. The land-grant agriculture schools, Greenpeace, agribusiness, FAO, all were included. But, by the time the report was issued, only Greenpeace seemed to be at the drafting table.

And guess who's in charge of this new "pattern for farming's future"? Robert Watson, a British-born chemist who served as chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change from 1997-2002. What are the chances that the Greens' farm science is any more honest than the IPCC's global warming "science"?


Climate warming would BOOST farm output in Australia (and elsewhere)

A bit of logic for a change. That CO2 is a potent plant fertiliser and that a warmer climate would mean more rain overall are basic facts that Greenies never mention. And a dry continent like Australia could certainly make good use of more rain!

AUSTRALIAN agricultural output will double over the next 40 years, with climate change predicted to increase, rather than hinder, the level of production.

A recent spate of reports forecasting the decline of Australian agriculture because of climate change have greatly exaggerated, and even completely misreported the threat of global warming, according to senior rural industry figures. In a report published by the Australian Farm Institute, executive director Mick Keogh says agricultural output is projected to improve strongly through to 2050, with a growing global population and increased economic wealth boosting demand for Australian produce. If the sector adapts even modestly, production would increase rather than decrease as a result of climate change, the report says.

Predictions of a 20 per cent drop in farm production by mid-century were cited by Kevin Rudd and Agriculture Minister Tony Burke as justification for Australia's signing of the Kyoto Protocol. In fact, Mr Keogh says, if global warming does occur, some areas such as southeast Queensland will receive more rain, and as a result will greatly benefit. Recent research has shown increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere lifts plant production by up to 30 per cent in a phenomenon known as carbon fertilisation.

Mr Keogh, a well-respected industry figure, said much of the media reporting on the recent ABARE report Climate Change: Impacts On Australian Agriculture, was so misleading it risked eroding industry confidence in public research agencies. "The reporting claimed that agriculture would be absolutely devastated, when that is not what the research showed at all," he said. "For a start the media consistently misreported the research results as a future reduction in agricultural output, rather than a slowing of future rates of growth in output."

He said the ABARE report chose a series of highly unlikely worst-case climate change scenarios and then projected them over a long period of time. ABARE also used the assumption that climate change would slow economic growth globally, thereby decreasing the demand for food. "With increasing world population this is highly unlikely," Mr Keogh said.

Also unlikely was the assumption that farmers would not adapt. "In many situations it appears as if an increase in temperature, certainly over the next few decades, will increase rather than decrease productivity," he said. "As well, open field studies are returning increases in plant productivity of about 15 per cent with increases in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Levels up to 30 per cent have been returned in laboratory studies."

Charles Burke, a fourth-generation cattle farmer at Lake Somerset, north of Brisbane, said most farmers were sceptical of the claims surrounding climate change and believed they were instead dealing with climate variability. After the recent dry, he hoped the Australian Farm Institute was right in its predictions southeast Queensland would benefit from more rainfall. "No one has their head in their sand, but farmers want to move forward armed with the right information," he said. "The experts can't agree. Many farmers aren't convinced. We have to have the right information and the right tools. We need to make sure the information is correct."

Chief executive for the National Farmers Federation Ben Fargher said his members too had been concerned about the negative reporting of the industry's future. "We are very well placed to grow businesses into the future," he said.



For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For times when blogger.com is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That the sun can shine as brightly this morning as an any other ordinary day, hail to the joyous light of the world.

"Were I obliged to have a religion, I would worship the sun the source of all life the real god of the earth." - Napoleon

"All those brave birds which fly out into the distance, into the farthest distance it is certain! somewhere or other they will be unable to go on and will perch on a mast or a bare cliff-face and they will even be thankful for this miserable accommodation! But who could venture to infer from that, that there was not an immense open space before them, and that they had flown as far as one could fly! All our great teachers and predecessors have at last come to a stop and it is not with the noblest of most graceful of gestures that weariness comes to a stop: it will be the same with you and me! But what does that matter to you and me! Other birds will fly farther! This insight and faith of ours vies with them in flying up and away; it rises above our heads and above our impotence into the heights and from there surveys the distance and sees before it the flock of birds which, far stronger than we, still strive whither we have striven, and where everything is sea, sea, sea! And wither then would we go? Would we cross the sea? Whither does this mighty longing draw us, this longing that is worth more to us than any pleasure? Why just in this direction, thither where all the suns of humanity have hitherto gone down? Will it perhaps be said of us one day that we too, steering westward, hoped to reach an India but that it was our fate to be wrecked against infinity? Or, my brothers, Or?" - Nietzsche

"Nobody is moved by the wonderful spectacle of the sun which rises, or rather appears to rise, every day; everybody runs to see the tiniest meteor which flames for an instant in that accumulation of vapors, called the sky, which surrounds the earth. An itinerant bookseller does not burden himself with a Virgil, with a Horace, but with a new book, even though it be detestable. He draws you aside and says to you: Sir, do you want some books from Holland? From the beginning of time, women have complained that men have been unfaithful to them for the sake of novelty, for the sake of other women whose novelty was their only merit." - Voltaire

"A man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry." - The Bible

"I have forsaken the house of scholars, and I have slammed the door behind me. Too long hath my soul sat hungry at their tables; not as they do can I address myself to the knowledge as to the cracking of nuts. Freedom I love, and the fresh airs of earth. And rather would I repose upon oxhides than upon their honours and respectibilities. I am too hot, I am scorched by mine own thoughts; often they rob me of breath. Then I must go into the open air, away from dusty rooms. But they sit in cool shades: they love in all things to be spectators and take heed lest they sit where the sun burneth on the steps. Like such as stand in the street and gaze at passing folk thus tarry they and gaze on thoughts thought by others." - Nietzsche

"In the Dominican collection, was there not to be found a certain Doctor of Theology, Révérend Père Rouard de Card, a Preaching Brother, who in a brochure entitled:-Of the Falsification of the Sacramental Substances, has demonstrated beyond a doubt that the major part of Masses were null and void, by reason of the fact that the materials used in the rite were sophisticated by dealers? For years, the holy oil had been adulterated with goose-grease; the taper-wax with burnt bones; the incense with common resin and old benzoin. But worse than all, the substances indispensable for the holy sacrifice, the two things without which no oblation was possible, had likewise been falsified, the wine by repeated dilutings and the illicit addition of Pernambuco barc, elder-berries, alcohol, alum, salicylate, litharge; the bread, that bread of the Eucarist that must be kneaded of the fine flour of wheat, by ground haricot-beans, potash and pipeclay! Nay, now they had gone further yet; they had dared to suppress the wheat altogether and shameless dealers manufactured out of potato meal nearly all the hosts! Now God declined to come down and be made flesh in potato flour." - Huysmans

"But it does move." - Galileo Galilei