[Coral-List] carbon offsetting AND slowing down

Eugene Shinn eugeneshinn at mail.usf.edu
Fri May 17 17:27:10 UTC 2019

Dear listers, at first I became depressed reading about how we could 
reduce carbon emissions. My first thought was the old saw about dumping 
automobiles and moving back into caves. Of course we are not going to do 
that. The developed word could stop having babies. Then we could just 
sit back and let the third world proliferate and overwhelm us. We could 
cook on wood campfires. That would not work either. What would happen to 
computers? Who is going to mine the world’s resources for raw materials 
to manufacture computers? Can we live without computers?How about 
radios? When I was a kid I constructed a crystal radio. It worked 
without batteries. Of course the signal had to be created somewhere 
using electricity. It also requires modern headphones. I often think 
about a power source that does not emit CO2. It would however require 
mining a lot of uranium and that requires energy. We could just give up 
on science. Seems all the advancements in science end up using raw 
materials that emit carbon.Then I remembered the humorous novel, “The 
Mark Gable Foundation.”The novel was envisioned by Leo Szilard in 1948. 
Leo was the scientist who talked Albert Einstein into writing the letter 
to President Roosevelt that led to creation of the Manhattan project.

In his novel the hero, sometime in the future, is asked by a wealthy 
entrepreneur, who believes that science has progressed too quickly, 
“what could he do to retard this rapid progress.” The hero answers:

"You could set up a foundation, with an annual endowment of thirty 
million dollars. Researchers in need of funds could apply for grants, if 
they could make a convincing case. Have ten committees, each composed of 
twelve scientists, appointed to pass on these applications. Take the 
most active scientists out of the laboratory and make them members of 
these committees. …First of all, the best scientists would be removed 
from their laboratories and kept busy on committees passing on 
applications for funds. Secondly the scientific worker in need of funds 
would concentrate on problems that were considered promising and were 
pretty certain to lead to publishable results… By going after the 
obvious, pretty soon science would dry out. Science would become 
something like a parlor game… There would be fashions. Those who 
followed the fashions would get grants. Those who wouldn't would not."

That was 1948! How could Szilard know that the government might someday 
take him seriously?Moral: Be careful what you wish for. Gene


No Rocks, No Water, No Ecosystem (EAS)
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E. A. Shinn, Courtesy Professor
University of South Florida
College of Marine Science Room 221A
140 Seventh Avenue South
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
<eugeneshinn at mail.usf.edu>
Tel 727 553-1158
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