UMD Right Now :: University of Maryland

Perhaps the most damaging deficiency in FE efforts, after self-serving orientation, was that the participants and their supporters were scientifically illiterate and easily led astray by the latest spectacle. Scientific literacy can help prevent most such distractions. While writing this essay, I was not only bombarded with news of the latest FE and alternative energy aspirants' antics, but I had to continually field queries regarding whether Peak Oil and Global Warming were conspiratorial elite hoaxes (or figments of the hyperactive imaginations of environmentalists and other activists), for two examples that readily come to mind. Digesting this essay's material should have those questions answered as mere side-effects. Far from being a hoax or imaginary, Peak Oil was and , and it is all downhill from there, and conventional oil will be almost entirely depleted in my lifetime. , although both were heavily promoted in the USA in 2014. In every paleoclimate study that I have seen, so-called greenhouse gases have always been considered the primary determinant of Earth's surface temperature (after the Sun), and carbon dioxide is chief among them. The radiation-trapping properties of carbon dioxide are not controversial in the slightest among scientists, and after the Sun's influence (which is exceedingly stable), declining carbon dioxide levels are considered to be the conditions that have dominated Earth for the past 35 million years. Humanity's increasing the atmosphere's carbon dioxide content is influencing the cause of Icehouse Earth, and , and are merely proximate causes. Increasing carbon dioxide can turn the global climate from an to a Greenhouse Earth, and the last time that happened, Earth had its . But have purposefully confused the issues, and a scientifically illiterate public and have played along, partly because believing the disinformation seems to relieve us all of any responsibility for our actions. Although scientific literacy can help people become immune to the disinformation and confusion arising from many corners, and reading this essay's first half can help people develop their own defense from such distractions, my goals for this essay's first half are far greater than that.

The concept of evidence is crucial to epistemology and the philosophy of science

As with the , contemporary New English observers noted the local climate changes in New England by the late 1700s, when the summers got hotter, the winters colder, and the land became more arid. Streams disappeared during the summer and flooded in the winter. In his classic study, William Cronon noted that New England became “sunnier, windier, hotter, colder, and drier” than before it was deforested. The eastern seaboard began turning to British coal soon after the American Revolution. , and early America relied on British coal. It was not until canals and railroads were built that the USA began to use its domestically mined coal. The anthracite mines of Pennsylvania turned Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Philadelphia, and other cities in the region into the heart of early American industry. Steam locomotives were , and is credited with building the first , after many years of effort. The opened for business in 1825, and the was built between Baltimore and the Ohio River in 1830, as Baltimore competed with the canals that serviced Philadelphia and New York. Railroads became humanity’s first low-energy transportation lanes that were not bodies of water (roads kind of qualified, but they were minor advances compared to railroads). Many American cites were not built on bodies of water but along rail lines and, later, roads traveled by cars and trucks.


The origins of agriculture - Ran Prieur

As scientific investigations deal with the human line, the issues increasingly become more complex and difficult to untangle and assess. This is largely because of human consciousness, which is a wild card, something that if not different in kind, is vastly different in degree, at least for land animals; . Designing falsifiable hypotheses for testing human behavior and consciousness has provided challenges not seen in other sciences, and experiments performed on our primate cousins have also become more humane. Dissecting chimp brains while they are still alive is as ethically unacceptable today as doing it to humans. Even today, data on the effects of cold and altitude on humans was primarily gleaned from . Today’s scientists who study human consciousness and its relationship to physical reality have been limited by ethics and what is perhaps the primary limitation: in studying human consciousness, scientists are studying themselves. The ideal of objective examination of the material world is hampered by , and an objective examination of human consciousness, by , may well be an impossible goal.