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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, December 10, 2016

Operations and developments of organisms.


It is interesting to consider the operation and development of an organism in mathematical terms. ERoEI (Energy Return/Energy Invested) is a mathematical expression that is in common use in discussions of such issues as the supply of oil. It is simplistic , so misleading, as it is dealing only with the rate of using energy embedded  in the system extracting and supplying the oil: the EI term together with the rate of energy supply: the ER term. It is an expression of the oil supply situation at some, unidentified stage. The numbers will change with developments. ERoEI was a very high value in many oilfields, including the Middle East. However, it is now so low where fracking is used that the process is hardly worthwhile.
ERoEI is a measure of the oil extraction process used by many commentators despite its unrealistic consideration of energy alone and the assumption that the energy input, the chemical energy in the oil is free. Therefor it is only a limited measure of the energy cost of the process as represented by EI compared to the energy output, ER. It does not take into account the materials irreversibly used in the process. In addition, it is only a measure of the operation of energy provision. The operation of industrialized civilization entails many other processes. The manufacture of an airliner is another operational process and this is subject to continual scrutiny by specialists in the company without reference to a simplistic mathematical expression such as ERoEI.
However, it is an aid to understanding of the operation and development of an organic or inorganic organism to formulate a mathematical expression that does represent what invariably happens. Materials (solids, liquids and/or gaseous) are input into the organism at a rate that varies over time.
Processes in the organism carry out a range of activities while transforming the rate of inputs that  then provide rates of (solid, gaseous and/or liquid) outputs. In mathematical terms, the activities can be represented as functions of the rates of the inputs. The rates of the outputs can be represented  as functions of the activities. These functions continually change over time. That is the development of the organism. The functions can be mathematical expressions that approximate what happens to a degree. Often what happens is fuzzy so the approximations are not very good.
However, the principles outlined here about the relation between the operation and associated development of organic and inorganic organisms are sound even though most people do not understand that they always apply in natural and technological physical operations.  Economists certainly do not because they believe money flow is the determining factor when money only plays for the skill of the workers and some of the costs of dealing with the materials which are regarded as being free of cost..  Medical people do understand many of the aspects of operation and development while all people have some knowledge of how their bodies behave over time. Engineers have understanding of the operation of machines and appreciate the development that these machines will wear out (due to friction). Biologists and botanists understand this coupling of processes in their fields without needing to use mathematical models. On the other hand, climatologists strive to produce mathematical models that mirror operations of the climate in the endeavour to predict developments under the input of greenhouse gases. Geologists aim to gain understanding of the vast forces acting underground that have over time affected developments such as mountain ranges. These are some examples of where specialists have understanding of operations and developments. But society at large, and the leaders in particular, do not take the holistic consequences of these principles into due account. Yet they do understand that they cannot be immortal.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

fuzzy perspective

We often use numbers to convey information or to carry out specific operations. In many cases numbers are explicit statements, not open to misinterpretation. Your phone number is in that category, so long as someone else is not using it for some nefarious purpose without your knowledge! Your age is also deterministic, even if you give someone the wrong number to mislead them.

But numbers often are only rough indications of a quantity. If you tell someone your weight, the number could well be an approximation of what you saw when you last stood on some scales. The media provides numbers on the rate of economic growth or unemployment that you take with a grain (or more) of salt because you are aware of  how governments often provide misleading figures to suggest their policies are working.

Often numbers cause problems because they misrepresent the situation, as already noted. This can also occur in the operation of machinery. The Japanese devised a means of handling this problem by developing measures to process what they called 'fuzzy' data.

When you think about it, we have to try and make something out of a lot of fuzzy information. We know that often the meaning of information is biased by selective arguments or numbers. Smart people know that economic growth is illusionary because the ecological cost is not included. Goverments pursue economic growth because it tends to improve the materal standard of living as well as giving people employment. most people are taken in by this fuzzy views.

There are campaigns encouraging people to quit smoking because it can harm their health but there are no campaigns to encourge peolp to give up driving even though their cars are using up irreplaceable natural material wealth and doing irrevocable harm to the environment.this is but one example of the fuzzy perspective that people have.

But the most insidious fuzzy perspective is that money controls what happens in the operation of industrialized civilization.Money flow just governs the decisions (mainly fuzzy) but does little to grow understanding of the unsustainablity of industrialized civilization or of the damge being irreovcably done to flora and fauna as well as the environment.

Tityas's health

Tityas, the vast organism that industrialized civilization has built largely in recent time using up limited natural crustal resources, is a complex mix of cities, roads, ports, airports, bridges, tunnels, houses, factories, skyscrapers, machinery, cars, ships, aircraft, electronics, TVs and numerous other items that provide goods and services people have become dependent on.

Tityas is totally dependent on obtaining material resources from Gaia, the natural system that has evolved here on Earth over eons and will continue to evolve long after the inevitable demise of Tityas ends the Anthropocene era.

The human survivors of this collapse of Tityas will be those who have adopted measures to cope with the inevitable powering down as Tityas enters its senescence. They will be those who have gained understanding of the unsustainability of operations of Tityas

Monday, September 5, 2016

Entropy production delusion

It is common in knowledgeable circles to talk about the development of civilization in terms of entropy discussion. The term 'entropy' was introduced to describe the natural law always governing the flow of energy from source to sink. Sunshine is radiant energy from our prime source, the Sun. We can regard it as income because we can rely on it to supply the energy to power some of our technological systems as well as all the natural systems. However, most of the concentrated energy that powers technological systems comes out of the fossil fuels and uranium in crustal store. So it is energy capital that is being irrelaceably dissipated as it does work in industrialized infrastructure for us. Replacing some of that use of energy capital by using energy income in solar and wind systems to intermittedly supply some electricity will only slightly ease the inevitable powering down.
Moreover, useful energy is always a property of materials.In many cases, these irreplaceable materials are transformed into waste by the action of friction with such unintended deleterious consequences as land, sea and air pollution, climate disruption and ocean acidification and warming. So society will have to adapt to an industrialised civilization running down.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Science failings

Greer in http://thearchdruidreport.blogspot.com/2016/07/scientific-education-as-cause-of.html provides sound insight into how decisions are made by all levels of society about the wide range of fields. In particular, he noted that physical science, in principle, is based on the gathering of evidence To improve understanding of what happens. He noted, however, that the contributions of scientists about issues in their fields are often biased by vested interests. He also points out that the findings of science often do not influence the decisions being made by various levels of society because of lack of understanding of the consequences of not taking the findings into account.
However, Greer does not take into account the failings of science to provide convincing arguments on how many aspects of natural forces always have and always will operate. Of course, sometimes exceptional scientists come up with understanding of specific issues that are gradually incorporated into the body of scientific understanding as a prelude to acceptance by society at large and influencing the decissiona being made. Albert Einstein is now renowned for his contributions on the theory of relativity but that renown only came decades after his orginal findings were made known to the scientfic community. Galileo Galilei made a major contribution to science five hundred years ago but his findings only slowly became widespread understanding of some fundamentals long after his death. This slow acceptance of novel scientific findings is inderstandable in view of the fact that there were also many proposals that were slowly proven to be unsound despite the arguments (and even demonstrations) by their proponents. Perpetual motion machines is by one example of the furphies that have been foisted on the community only for a while because convincing demonstration could not emerge despite attempts by scientists who did not underatsnd the fundamental physical principles that govern these operations. They did not take into account the fact that in operations, energy does positive work while friction does negative work. 
The proposition that the emissions from the combustion of coal and other fossil fuels were having a harmful impact on environmental operations was initially made by a scientist over a hundred years ago. Slowly sufficent evidence has been gathered by dedicated scientists in many countries to prove that proposition. These peer-reviewed findings have been sufficient to convince some prominent people to support moves to deal with climate change as much as is physically possible and to introduce measures to cope with the consequences, such as sea level rise and impact on farming. This failing of science at large to recognise the consequence of the combustion of the hydrocarbons (which natural forces took aeons to produce using energy from the Sun) to provide the energy to drive the technical systems while producing carbon dioxide and other emissions will continue to blight developments for a long time. It is not surprising that many people who do not understand even rudimentary physical principles are take in by how the operation of society is very largely governed by monetary decisions. The failing of physical science to educate society about the stark reality of the irreversible consumption of a vast range of limited natural resources, including the fossil fuels, together with the production of irrevocable material wastes, the irreversible aging of the vast infrastructure that provides the services society had become so dependent on and the degradation of the environment means that industrialized civilization is doomed without sociey understanding why. Climate disruption and ocean acidification and warming is just one emerging manifestation of nature's response to the bad decisions made by all levels of society partly because of the failure of science to foster understanding of fundamental physical operations.
These views are by a physical scientist who after a career in aeronautical research has gained understanding of the fundamental physical principles that govern all operations (including how friction allows birds and airplanes to get lift as they fly)

Thursday, July 14, 2016

The confusing mix of tangible and intangible energy

The article "The Physics of Energy and the Environment" by Gael Tverberg highlights the widespread lack of understanding of the difference between tangible, physical energy and intangible, intellectual energy. This difference and the consequential impact on natural operations and the operations of civilization need to be understood in order to make sound decisions about how to cope with the difficult times ahead.
Physical energy flows can be measured, so are tangible. The measuring device depends on the form of the energy flow which may be electricity, flowing water, heated material, etc. Physical energy flows have always been governed by natural laws. Some of these laws, such as the Laws of Thermodynamics, have been recognised by scientists and engineers for centuries. However, the fact that natural laws always govern physical energy flows and the development of the associated materialistic systems is a fundamental principle that is often not taken into account in discussions of operations. The fact that energy is always a property of materials is not recognised.  The irreversibility of physical energy flows and of the destructive operation of friction on material in motion always occurs: just like the passing of time. Energy flow can do positive work while the associated friction does negative work.
Intellectual energy flows are intangible because they cannot be measured. They are the flow of information in seeds that leads to and governs  the usage of physical energy flow and usage of materials in the development of all system from people to trees, to bees, to skyscrapers.  They are the decisions made by people about issues, tangible and intangible, they have some understanding of.
The failure of people to differentiate between the tangible and intangible is not confined to energy. Friction between individuals may involve an intangible play of words or a tangible exchange of blows. But friction is a factor in all tangible motion that is not sufficiently recognised by society at large although engineers do take it into account to a degree. Motorists curse the wear and tear of their car tyres without realizing that the car can only be propelled by friction between the tyres and the road surface. Ice skaters have more understanding of the impact of friction. Birds do not understand that friction enables their wings to generate lift: they just fly as do aicraft. 'power', 'force' are also terms describing how natural forces operate on systems made of materials that have been purloined by society to describe the unconstrained decisions made by people. There is growing recognition that the intangible financial and tangible material (the infrastructure) 'wealth' of civilization comes at the irredeemable cost of destroying tangible natural material wealth (the envionment and the crustal store of materials, including the fossil fuels). The increase in the wealth of civilization is a delusion becausethe divestemnt of natural wealth is not taken into account. 
It is quite likely that intangible economies will collapse in the near future because of the unsustainable growth of (financial) debt. But that is a different issue to the tangible operation of the vast exisiting physical infrastructure which will continue to age due to the effect of friction despite using up the crustal stores of materials for its operation and maintenance. An intangible financial collapse will affect the decisions made by a lot of people about what tangible operations (such as driving their cars or flying away on a tourist trip or for business meetings) they will have to cut back on. But that will do no more than slow the inevitable demise of the physical structure of industrialized civilization.