Friday, January 3, 2014

Reflections - with Carl Sagan

Sou | 10:58 PM Go to the first of 10 comments. Add a comment

The WUWT kangaroo court is busy poring over blog posts from Antarctica, trying to find snippets that Anthony can use to justify the pre-emptive "Guilty" verdict WUWT pronounced a few days ago.  Shades of stolen emails, except the blogs are public.  It seems to be keeping them distracted for a while. (Not sure if they'll be moving on to pronounce "Guilty" verdicts for yachts that need rescuing or anyone else that dares a risky activity.)

Anyway this seems a good time to have a break of sorts.  To be inspired instead of despired :)

Credit: NASA

A couple of days ago someone tweeted a video (below) of Carl Sagan.  I've prefaced it with some of the words he spoke almost two decades earlier - which I expect readers are familiar with, to remind me that it pays to take a wider perspective from time to time.

Carl Edward Sagan (November 9, 1934 – December 20, 1996)

Those worlds in space are as countless as all the grains of sand on all the beaches of the Earth. Each of those worlds is as real as ours. In every one of them, there's a succession of incidents, events, occurrences which influence its future. Countless worlds, numberless moments, an immensity of space and time.

And our small planet, at this moment, here we face a critical branch-point in the history. What we do with our world, right now, will propagate down through the centuries and powerfully affect the destiny of our descendants. It is well within our power to destroy our civilization, and perhaps our species as well.

If we capitulate to superstition, or greed, or stupidity we can plunge our world into a darkness deeper than time between the collapse of classical civilization and the Italian Renaissance.

But, we are also capable of using our compassion and our intelligence, our technology and our wealth, to make an abundant and meaningful life for every inhabitant of this planet. To enhance enormously our understanding of the Universe, and to carry us to the stars."

From Carl Sagan's Cosmos episode 8, "Journeys in Space and Time". (1980)

Carl Sagan - one of his last interviews

"This combustible mixture of ignorance and power sooner or later will blow up in our faces."

"A Science Icon Died 17 Years Ago. In His Last Interview, He Made A Warning That Gives Me Goosebumps."  Rajiv Narayan


  1. Great background. That video was really made in another age.

    My sentiments exactly. That is what worries me the most. I am convinced that adaptation is a lot more costly as mitigation, but that we could also solve such adaptation problems. However, the behavior of the climate ostriches makes me worry about our ability to solve such (international) problems in practice. If we also solve all these problems sub-optimally and with a lot of international conflict, we will be in for a hard time. Without these people the future looks bright.

  2. I'm cynical about adaptation for a simple reason - politicians can always find a reason for doing something tomorrow but not today. In the UK cuts are likely to lead to poorer flood defences. There's always something more pressing to spend the money on.

    1. Until people die. Sometimes it might take more than once before something is done.

    2. I didn't phrase my comment very well though Rattus makes the very valid addition - when people die, there is an outcry. I think getting it right now is the right option if you ask me - mitigation rather than adaptation. I read an excellent quote though I can't remember who said it, which I paraphrase as any threat that carries on ceases to be a threat. I think that is the deniers line of thinking. New York isn't under water, therefore no global warming. Perhaps we should be claiming those disasters like Sandy and Haiyan as caused by global warming and keep hammering at it so something might get done.

    3. When will the Dutch immigrate to Germany? Before or after the flood?

  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. Science advances one skeptic-blogsite funeral at a time (with apologies to Karl Ernst Ludwig Marx (Max) Planck but no apologies to BT).

    2. Perennially puzzled Bob Tisdale is available for stacking shelves or washing dishes:

      Bob Tisdale Article (archived) im-retiring-from-full-time-climate-change-blogging/#comment-14503

      Or building flood defences

      [Sou: comment as posted by Catmando with link replaced with archived web page]

    3. Lots of adulatory comments to Bob, including Roger Pielke Sr, who thinks Bob's "oceans warm by magic" hypotheses should be funded by the National Science Foundation.

      William Connolley got banned from the site after saying that Roger's post "made my day".

    4. No one has paused on that thread to consider the possibility that Bob is under-funded because his work sux.

      Don't let the door hit you on the way out, Tisdale.

      [sadly I don't think he will go out - this is just a donations plea]


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