Critical, or Magical...


Topics: Civilization, Climate Change, Existentialism, Science Fiction, Star Trek

Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action. In its exemplary form, it is based on universal intellectual values that transcend subject matter divisions: clarity, accuracy, precision, consistency, relevance, sound evidence, good reasons, depth, breadth, and fairness.

Source: The Foundation for Critical Thinking

Magical thinking is the belief that one’s ideas, thoughts, actions, words, or use of symbols can influence the course of events in the material world. Magical thinking presumes a causal link between one’s inner, personal experience and the external physical world. Examples include beliefs that the movement of the Sun, Moon, and wind or the occurrence of rain can be influenced by one’s thoughts or by the manipulation of some type of symbolic representation of these physical phenomena.

Source: Britannica Online

Testifying before Congress, Carl Sagan called out the mainstream media of his day as to why there was (and still is) a daily horoscope, but not even a weekly science column. When the Nobel Prizes come out - I try to post them all: science categories, Economics, Literature, and Peace - you're likely going to see more here than you will on traditional media. It is still now rare, as it was during Carl's crusade for science literacy. I can remember when "A&E" and "TLC" were the acronyms for Arts & Entertainment and The Learning Channel, not the homes of Duck Dynasty, or Honey Boo-Boo. Sagan would be woefully disappointed.

Which is more likely a problem that can be tackled and solved: climate change or warp drive? Granted, I'm a Trekkie from TOS days, The Animated Series (TAS), TNG, DS9, VOY, Enterprise, Discovery, Lower Decks, and Strange New Worlds. As much as I enjoy the storytelling, similar to Ali Baba, or Aladdin, I'm not interested in the physics of flying carpets, because that is a plot device, like inertia dampeners or Heisenberg compensators. Yes, there's a lot of theoretical research on warp field mechanics since the 1994 paper by Miguel Alcubierre. At the risk of sounding like a curmudgeon, the efforts will likely yield something close to 0.1 - 0.25c, which is pretty fast, leagues beyond our current rocket speeds. The reason Trek did a LOT of time travel is, superluminal speeds would permit it, and eventually the Grandfather Paradox: A begets B, B begets C, but if C travels back in time, and kills A, did C ever make the trip if he never existed (see: Causality)?

We will probably "boldly go" to the Asteroid Belt, Mars, and the moons of Jupiter or Saturn. With eight billion souls and climbing, we have a lot of physics problems to solve on Gaia.

However, exploration of our solar system cannot happen if, beyond sense, we allow the planet's temperatures to continue to climb.

A.1 Human activities, principally through emissions of greenhouse gases, have unequivocally caused global warming, with the global surface temperature reaching 1.1°C above 1850-1900 in 2011-2020. Global greenhouse gas emissions have continued to increase, with unequal historical and ongoing contributions arising from unsustainable energy use, land use and land-use change, lifestyles and patterns of consumption and production across regions, between and within countries, and among individuals (high confidence). {2.1, Figure 2.1, Figure 2.2}

A.1.1 Global surface temperature was 1.09°C [0.95 to 1.20] °C5 higher in 2011-2020 than 1850-19006, with larger increases over land (1.59 [1.34 to 1.83] °C) than over the ocean (0.88 [0.68 to 1.01] °C). Global surface temperature in the first two decades of the 21st century (2001-2020) was 0.99 [0.84 to 1.10] °C higher than 1850-1900. Global surface temperature has increased faster since 1970 than in any other 50-year period over at least the last 2000 years (high confidence). {2.1.1, Figure 2.1}

A.1.2 The likely range of total human-caused global surface temperature increase from 1850-1900 to 2010-20197 is 0.8°C to 1.3°C, with a best estimate of 1.07°C. Over this period, it is likely that well-mixed greenhouse gases (GHGs) contributed a warming of 1.0°C to 2.0°C8, and other human drivers (principally aerosols) contributed a cooling of 0.0°C to 0.8°C, natural drivers changed global surface temperature by –0.1°C to +0.1°C, and internal variability changed it by –0.2°C to +0.2°C. {2.1.1, Figure 2.1}

There's more: AR6 Synthesis Report - Climate Change 2023 | Summary for Policymakers

Our science focus should be here on Terra Firma and the pursuit of continuing human civilization. Without it, civilization, sustainability, and space travel is impossible.

Critical thinking will help us all survive. We will have to cooperate, make lasting changes, reduce income inequality; eliminate global poverty, remediate houseless citizens, and proceed forward, changing the very structure of our civilization, what we focus on as important and esteem as admirable. Billionaires are not superheroes, and beyond fantasy roles, have no function or analog in nature.

Magical thinking, believing that the climate crisis does not exist, hoarding resources while refusing to pay taxes in one's home country and hiding it in shelters overseas from yours, whistling past the climate graveyard, won't.

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