Friday, February 25, 2011

Small Nuclear War Could Reverse Global Warming for Years?

This is kind of hard to believe . . . amazing that they fund this kind of research.

Small Nuclear War Could Reverse Global Warming for Years?

An excerpt:

Charles Q. Choi

for National Geographic News

Published February 22, 2011

Even a regional nuclear war could spark "unprecedented" global cooling and reduce rainfall for years, according to U.S. government computer models.

Widespread famine and disease would likely follow, experts speculate.

During the Cold War a nuclear exchange between superpowers—such as the one feared for years between the United States and the former Soviet Union—was predicted to cause a "nuclear winter."

In that scenario hundreds of nuclear explosions spark huge fires, whose smoke, dust, and ash blot out the sun for weeks amid a backdrop of dangerous radiation levels. Much of humanity eventually dies of starvation and disease.

Today, with the United States the only standing superpower, nuclear winter is little more than a nightmare. But nuclear war remains a very real threat—for instance, between developing-world nuclear powers, such as India and Pakistan.

To see what climate effects such a regional nuclear conflict might have, scientists from NASA and other institutions modeled a war involving a hundred Hiroshima-level bombs, each packing the equivalent of 15,000 tons of TNT—just 0.03 percent of the world's current nuclear arsenal. (See a National Geographic magazine feature on weapons of mass destruction.)

The researchers predicted the resulting fires would kick up roughly five million metric tons of black carbon into the upper part of the troposphere, the lowest layer of the Earth's atmosphere.

In NASA climate models, this carbon then absorbed solar heat and, like a hot-air balloon, quickly lofted even higher, where the soot would take much longer to clear from the sky.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

What is your costs and benefits? Random thoughts on intrinsic and instrumental value

Can all intrinsic value be traced back to instrumental value? The point was brought up that everything we value can be traced back to how that value benefits us. The benefit can serve us directly (I value oak trees over oak tables) or indirectly (I want to save the Mona Lisa because other people value it), but eventually the motivation deals with how it effects my life.

To contrast this egocentric view and create some faith in intrinsic value, Professor Tantillo brought-up the example of parent-child relationships. The basis is that the child is the end in itself and not a means to an end. I am hardly qualified to talk about why people have children, but I can see that there are a long list of costs and benefits including: innate desire to pass on genetic material, child will take care of parent in long run, cost of clothes/food/education, emotional satisfaction, ext. I will say that it seems much more noble to raise a child out of intrinsic value then instrumental value. Maybe instrumental value means that the energy put in equals the benefit, whereas intrinsic value is when the energy put in is not considered lost, but part of the experience. I keep finding is that it might be admirable to raise the child on intrinsic value but people (at least initially) value the instrumental factors as part of the equation.

The problem goes back to the question of whether intrinsically something is valued because someone is there to value it or if it exists independent of a valuer. To say that something has intrinsic value independent of a valuer doesn't seem right because humans cannot not seriously consider what things would be like without a valuer, or at least without us valuers. It reminds me of the topic that we don't know what it is like to be a bat and any judgements we make on behalf of the bat are just humans trying to be bats. The reason intrinsic value comes back to instrumental value is because humans can only make choices as we see them and not from a completely unbiased view. Perhaps I connect instrumental value with being heartless and calculating and this whole post was to help me to understand that it is human to view things as instrumental value because I can't view the world without being aware of how it will effect me.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


I was wondering... If we were to follow a weakly anthropocentric view that emphasizes "idealized" values we as humans should strive to uphold, where would the issue of deer overpopulation stand? Would the ideal moral human kill deer to restore ecological balance, or find value in the deer that exist already and let them be? There are conflicting values between holism and individualism that both seem valid in this case.

- Aiden

More on the Auburn tree incident

This just in about the Auburn incident:
Thursday, February 17, 2011
Arrest made in Toomer's Corner incident news services

AUBURN, Ala. -- A 62-year-old Dadeville man has been arrested in connection with the poisoning of the historic Toomer's Corner oak trees at Auburn University.

Harvey Almorn Updyke Jr. was arrested early Thursday morning and charged with one count of first-degree criminal mischief, a spokeswoman for the Lee County Sheriff Office said.

Auburn fans celebrated the school's BCS title in January at Toomer's Corner.

Bond was set at $50,000. If convicted, Updyke could face one to 10 years in prison.

A man claiming to be "Al from Dadeville" phoned a radio show late last month, claiming he poured herbicide around the 130-year-old oaks that are the scene of celebrations after Auburn's sports victories.

"The weekend after the Iron Bowl, I went to Auburn, Ala., because I live 30 miles away, and I poisoned the Toomer's trees," the caller told The Paul Finebaum Radio Show, saying he was at the Iron Bowl.

Calling himself "Al from Dadeville," he said he used Spike 80DF, also known as tebuthiuron, and the trees "definitely will die." The caller signed off with, "Roll Damn Tide."

Auburn discovered the poisoning after taking soil samples on Jan. 28, a day after "Al from Dadeville" called Finebaum's syndicated show saying he had used the herbicide on the trees.

The university said in a statement Wednesday that an herbicide commonly used to kill trees was applied "in lethal amounts" to the soil around the two trees, and that they likely can't be saved.

Auburn fans traditionally celebrate by using toilet paper to roll the Toomer's Corner trees, which are estimated to be more than 130 years old.

"We will take every step we can to save the Toomer's oaks, which have been the home of countless celebrations and a symbol of the Auburn spirit for generations of Auburn students, fans, alumni and the community," university President Jay Gogue said in a statement.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Intrinsic value

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on "Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Value" may be interesting to some of you in light of this morning's class discussion: 

The related entry on "Intrinsic vs Extrinsic Properties" may also be of interest.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


Hi gang,
welcome to the blog for "Applied Environmental Philosophy."  Looking forward to our discussions outside of class.