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Entropy production delusion

It is common in knowledgeable circles to talk about the development of civilization in terms of entropy discussion. The term 'entropy...

Saturday, September 12, 2015

A worrisome diagnosis

Some people consider it to be a funny world as they strive to cope with the behaviour of the economy and what the pundits have to say about what the future holds. Those who consider what is actually happening rather than the hype of politicians, economists and the media see nothing laughable about what society and its tools are doing to the natural support system, the terrestrial and marine environments. These rationalists have no doubt that decisions based on the flow of intangible money will continue to dominate the decisions, often unwise, being made about which possible tangible operations will be implemented. The elite in society will ensure that their leverage of money will largely support their agenda despite the cost to the rest of society or the natural life support system.
This is the way society, especially in the developed countries, has operated for centuries with innovative technology increasing the production of goods and the provision of services as well as the construction, operation and maintenance of the vast infrastructure that society has become so dependent on. Many of the millions who live in cities enjoy comfortable living and working conditions and the convenience of virtually unlimited land, sea and air travel. Ironically, this development is only one side of the balance sheet! The ecological cost has not been offset against the financial cost. Even worse, society has deemed it has the right to consume many irreplaceable natural resources, including the fossil fuels, without paying for the divestment of natural material wealth. Freely using these resources has been and still is the dominant policy. The mining , shipping and processing of these resources is a major application of technology at an energy, material and environmental cost of this unsustainable process in the long term, despite the contrary propaganda.
 The current volatility of global financial markets are the main concern of investors who have made money, often out of thin air rather than by physical effort, and they lust for more. The employed public continues to strive for a high material standard of living even though it means going into more debt. And industry is only too willing to oblige as it makes more money for their management as well as for the investors.
However, governments have the range of the usual political, economic, ethnic, military, territorial and resource problems to deal with as best they can. They are only slowly coming around to understanding that there are irrevocable symptoms that nature is fighting back. Climate change is now on their agenda but it is still not given the warranted treatment by even the media. The cries of the scientists are still largely falling on deaf ears due to  the rustling sound of dollars. Knowledgeable online groups are sounding out about the numerous other symptoms of what civilization has and is doing wrong but they are also being drowned out, but by the online social media revolution.
So ocean warming and acidification continues to devastate the marine  ecosystem. Soil fertility continues to decline as nutrients continue to be flushed into rivers and oceans even as the more common floods add to this devastation. Fracking to extract oil is not the only process that is deleteriously affecting ground water in many regions. Rapid species extinctions are causing concern in many communities but few understand what that is doing irrevocably to biodiversity.
These symptoms of what the operations of civilization are doing to nature are bad enough when all the dots are joined to provide the holistic view. But that is only one side of what is irrevocably happening. As noted, society is very dependent on the infrastructure of industrialized civilization. That infrastructure is irrevocably aging as its sustenance declines. The skyscrapers  that are now dominating so many cities around the world will become very vulnerable as electricity becomes scarce because of the demise of the generating  stations and the associated grids. Trade globalization will decline as the fuel oi used by container vessels inevitably becomes very scarce. But how will tourists, scientists, politicians and business people cope with the inevitable  loss of airline services. The public at large will find it hard to get over their love of the convenience  of using cars for commuting and leisure  but the elite will welcome the disappearance of traffic congestion.
These symptoms of the intractable disease of the current industrial civilization  provide a worrisome diagnosis that society will have to try to cope with.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Aging of Tityas

The biological aging of organisms is an acknowledged fact even though the controlling  mechanism is not well understood by even the experts. Birth, growth, senescence and demise is the lot of all animate organisms from cells, to mice, to humans, to elephants, to whales with the time scales varying tremendously.
Tityas is the name I have given to the vast, inanimate infrastructure of civilization. It is the collection of technological systems that uses energy and materials to provide society with goods and services during their inevitably limited life times. They range from power grids to pipelines to skyscrapers to aircraft carriers to container vessels to airliners to sewerage systems to air conditioners to heating systems to TV to iPhones and many other familiar systems. They all made of largely irreplaceable materials (some can be recycled by using energy and materials) and while energy flow does positive work during their operation, various forms of friction do the negative work that is the aging of the systems. This aging process is common knowledge and maintenance procedures are routinely carried out on individual systems to limit that deleterious activity but only whilst the necessary energy and materials (also money and skilled personnel) are available.
Therefore, the irrevocable aging of Tityas is an ongoing process that is using up the limited natural material resources, including the fossil fuels, while producing immutable waste material causing such problems as climate disruption and ocean warming and acidification. After the growth powered by the fossil fuels and nuclear of recent centuries, Tityas is now moving into its senescence due to the increasing difficulty of obtaining its nutrients, such as oil.
So while there is lack of understanding of the aging process in animate organisms, the irrevocable aging of inanimate Tityas is a continuing understandable process that will lead to the demise of many of its organs in the near future. Society will find it hard to cope with the deleterious impact on Tityas as the services it has provided decline.
This is an irrefutable aspect of what will happen to industrialized civilization. How people will cope with this challenge is an open question. But a die off is certain due to a number of reasons, including starvation.