An Age of Illusion

The BBC’s magazine programme A Point of View this week was from John N. Gray – a comment on our modern world illustrated by topical reference to F Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby.

The passage that jumped out was (bold mine):

Human beings live by suggestion, not calculation. Societies and economies don’t change like machines that function according to known laws. They’re more like dreams, which come and go for reasons the dreamer can’t perceive. Over the course of time […] the world that has been created by the dream turns out to be an illusion.

Gray, a political philosopher is unlikely to agree with my viewpoint and is an unlikely source of words to apply to CAGW, but the take-over of our society by the insistent drum of climate alarmism is so complete that, as we attempt to describe its effects,  there is often value in quotes from unlikely sources. Having sold the world a dream (environmental nightmare, political and economic weapon) it turns out it has been based on supposition and extrapolation of incomplete understanding.

The catastrophe was a meme. Now we come down to earth with a bump.

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9 Responses to An Age of Illusion

  1. Physics_Observer says:

    Indeed humans do live by suggestion. Nothing could be more obvious than the influence of the “suggestions” about why the world is warming.

    [Snip – steering the thread to ‘your pet topic’ again – not relevant to this post. Verity]

    Doug Cotton

  2. PeterMG says:

    Verity I look at it like this. They say the industrial revolution was the age of reason. That ended in 1914 when for reasons unfathomable, the Central European Nations thought it would be a good idea to have a jolly good old war. This was the start of the age of stupid since when all the suggestion nonsense has held sway. I believe we will now see the emergence of the age of enlightenment, and it will be led by those of my children’s generation who will reject the failure of there forebears. The first country to realise that a modern western economy runs on energy and not money will be the next world leader. Its been the obsession with money and spending it that has ruined many a good country.

    • Verity Jones says:

      I’d not thought it that way. There’s a big push on water next, with it said that the next wars will be over water. Be that as it may, if you have water but little energy, you will be able to do little with the water.

  3. PeterMG,
    The Industrial Revolution (IR) was a wonderful thing for the “Have Nots” who in many nations live better than royalty lived five hundred years ago.

    So why did the IR start in England? According to Acemoglu & Robinson it could have started 140 years earlier if “Queen Elizabeth I” had not suppressed William Lee’s knitting machine:

    To maintain the IR we need universal education as explained in the “Communist Manifesto” (Marx & Engels, 1848):
    10. Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children’s factory labor in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production, etc.

    Don’t get the idea that I am a Marxist. My hope is that Abraham Lincoln’s ideas in the “Gettysburg Adress” will prevail so that government “…….of the people, by the people and for the people will not perish from this land.”

  4. PeterMG says:

    The BBC did a great program recently entitled something like Why did the IR happen and why Britain. If you were to take the content of this program and apply the lessons to today, it would run contrary to everything the BBC stands for, which just goes to show that there is very little understanding as to the key issues that make humans tick, let alone that make the economy tick amongst the left leaning intelligencia. That they let this be aired amazed me, or is it that they think we are all too stupid now to think for ourselves. From one of my previous “rants” you will know that when I say left that is anyone who thinks that controls from the centre are the only or best way to run our world. Today that means all the worlds’ large industrial nation’s governments including their Central bankers and Crony industrialists.

    Now getting back to the IR and the whys and whens; the answer to both these is the same. Britain had just fought a civil war, so it had a political framework that was free from inhibiting regulation. At the time they understood that harnessing energy was the key and this is where most innovation occurred. We knew how to make things, but the key was to harness energy so that everyone could share in manufactured goods and not just the few privileged. Energy drove the economy. All these lessons have been forgotten by our current political ruling class who now think money is the key, and despite creating and spending eye watering amounts of it have not managed to kick-start our economy.

    Peter education is the key to our youngsters getting to grips with this messed up world of ours and understand and harness energy. As much as shale gas is going to let the current crop of political idiots off the hook, and thankfully for the majority of citizens avoid deep poverty, it is not the long term answer and has probably delayed real progress for several generations unless we have enlightened leader emerge from the mess. You may have seen this as I can’t remember where I picked it up but it’s about understanding E=MC2 and it brings home just how absurd it is that we burn anything to get energy for electricity, let alone try to harness and convert other forms of energy when we have unlimited amounts from matter.

    Verity this is another report by a city firm that tries to quantify how our governments have not only distorted information, but how this has contributed to increases in energy costs. The author doesn’t understand energy as well as he (they) needed to and have a jaundiced view of our long term energy reserves which I don’t share but the point they make is correct in that energy runs the economy.

    • Verity Jones says:

      Thank you!!! I have read the first article and you’re right it is well worth reading. The second one will have to wait until another day.

  5. PeterMG,
    Thanks for those links. Certainly I agree with the proposition that Education and Energy are critical to sustained prosperity. Is easy to show that a 1 GW (Standard Candle?) NPP consumes about one tonne of U335 per year but there is at least another 100 tonnes of U238 destined to end up as “nuclear waste”. Thus the annual fuel input is only 20,000 times less than what a coal fired plant needs.

    You need a breeder reactor such as the IFR or LFTR to run for a year on one tonne of Uranium or Thorium. A comparable coal fired plant would need at least 2 million tonnes of coal per year. Assuming a thermodynamic efficiency of 38% for both.

    Even breeder reactors are not particularly efficient. That tonne of fuel “burned” in a year by a LFTR ends up as 999.9975 kg of nuclear waste, so only 250 milli-grams of matter has disappeared. In matter anti-matter reactions, 100% of the mass is annihilated so four million times more energy would be released from a tonne of fuel. In other words, ninety million Tera-Joules from one tonne of matter!

    That Tullett Prebon analysis is truly scary. The preamble with the Dutch Tulip bubble and Isaac Newton losing the equivalent of $2.5 million on the South Sea bubble was fascinating. This kind of insanity has grown more dangerous over the years. I used to prioritize my FAXes with the top priority being: “The fate of western civilization hangs in the balance”. That would not be an exaggeration for the situation outlined by T-P.

    To take just one example. In Figure 4.5 T-P shows the US economy has been shrinking since 2000 while government statistics are far more rosy. Anyone here seeking a job knows that T-P are much nearer the truth given how hard it is to get a job and even if you do, salary levels are static or falling as you would expect when jobs are scarce.

  6. PeterMG,
    Here is a correction to those numbers on the annual fuel input required by different technologies applied to the generation 1 GW of electricity for a year:

    Annual electrical output = 31,536 TJ
    Thermal equivalent = 82,898 TJ assuming 38% thermodynamic efficiency
    Mass equivalent = 0.922 kg assuming E = mc^2

    Technology Tonnes of fuel per year
    Coal 2,000,000
    BWR (Gen II) 100-200
    LFTR (Gen IV) 1
    Annihilation 0.000922 matter/anti-matter reaction

    – Thus coal uses >20,000 times more fuel than BWRs
    – BWRs use >100 times more fuel than LFTRs
    – LFTRs use >1,000 times more fuel than matter/anti-matter reactions
    Hopefully someone will check these numbers for me.

  7. Physic-o-Climate says:

    [snip – OT]

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