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Global warming is one of those topics that I still find myself wondering what to truly believe. Is our CO2 production really the culprit in the warming of the planet? Or are there some other larger influences at play here. I have a hard time believing mankind’s activities are solely to blame for any kind of climate change.
After all, CO2 is only one of many greenhouse gases that can affect the warming trend. Water vapor is by far the most abundant and effective at influencing the greenhouse problem. But I don’t see any kind of public concern over evaporation of water in any way at all. Okay, I realize that there is little or even nothing that can be done about that but the point is CO2 is just a tiny fraction of the greenhouse gases affecting our climate. So if water vapor is by far the largest greenhouse gas then why are we so obsessed by manmade CO2? Mankind’s ego.
We see a small trend in the planets temperature rising and of course we assume it must be what we are doing. I am truly pleased to see that we are taking an interest in reducing pollution from cars and industry but I really have my doubts about the connection to global warming at least in the significant way the media would like us to believe.
The media is sounding the alarm bell which of course sells more newspapers than reporting the less extreme predictions surrounding the warming trend. The weather models produced by scientists predict a reduction in the temperature differences between the poles and the equatorial regions. This will in fact reduce the number of violent tropical storms, as there will be less of a temperature discrepancy to stimulate them. Also the warming of the regions closer to the poles will allow agricultural pursuits in areas where it was not possible before. Food production would be able to rise accordingly. The alarmist media isn’t interested in those types of stories it seems.
The change in the world’s temperature is just that, change. There is irrefutable evidence that the temperature of the planet has and most likely will always be changing regardless of what we are doing. What are we so afraid of? Do the alarmists doubt mankind’s ability to adapt and cope with a few degrees of temperature change or even sea levels rising a meter or so? There will doubtless be hardships and even some displaced people in some regions but man has the ability to adapt and change. We have demonstrated this through the ages. I am confident that we will not only survive these changes but also learn to use them to our advantage.
I live in Canada and if you ask anyone living north of the temperate zone about rising temperatures the resounding response would be “bring it on, we could use a little global warming around here”. Life will improve greatly for huge numbers of the world’s population with a couple of degrees increase in the planet’s temperature. Migration to areas that were before considered uninhabitable by most will have a more moderate climate allowing for farming and other activities. You can’t sell newspapers with stories like that.
The scientific data indicates that 1998 was the warmest year on record. The planet has been cooling ever since. A quote from Dr. Oleg Sorokhtin of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences “The earth is at the peak of one of its passing warm spells, It’ll start getting cold by 2012, and really, really cold around 2041″. So who are we to believe? A respected scientist or Al Gore who has made millions from his crusade for the planet and his questionable agenda and phony pseudo science.
If the planet is warming I can honestly say I hope so. We will get by and probably do well in the process. What really concerns me is the muzzling of real science in the debate. An objective media would go a long way in helping us all deal with the facts as they truly are. Focusing on the alarmist perspective only causes undue fear where none is warranted.
Is driving our SUV’s and minivans really the problem here? Or is our planet just going through another climate cycle like it has done so many times before? The only thing I know for sure is I can’t count on the media to provide the answers.
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“Where did he come up with that?” Kids often amaze us with their imaginative ideas, and we should give ourselves a pat on the back for playing a role in this development. Innovative thinking is essential for success in school and in life, and it’s our job as parents to nurture our kids’ innate desire to be creative. Inventive play fosters original thinking, an asset when children are confronted with new situations. By providing activities that use their creativity and imaginations, we are giving our children an important tool to deal with life down the road.
Give them ideas.
Children come up with things to do on their own, but we also need to provide them with new ideas of interesting activities. Think back to what you did as a kid. Did you write a diary, create elaborate puppet shows, or sing and dance for relatives? Share ideas from your own childhood experiences. Offer creative writing ideas like writing an episode for a favorite television show or writing a new ending to a favorite story. Craft projects offer another outlet for inspiring imaginations. Craft kits, especially those from Curiosity Kits and ALEX, offer a wide variety of unusual and fun projects. They’ve brought us a long way from the sock puppets of our youth. These manufacturers offer ideas and supplies to make such things as scrapbooks, powerballs, soaps, candy, sun catchers, dolls, planes, dinosaurs, jewelry treasures, and lots of decorative items. Kids can gather ideas from the instructions, and then give the projects their own unique touches.
Keep ideas fresh.
Pick up any parenting magazine and you’ll find lots of ideas to get those creative juices flowing in your kids. Search the web and check out craft stores. Keep a journal or file for magazine clippings and ideas as you find them. Stockpile so that you’ll know how to answer the whiny “I’m bored” call from your kids.
Give them freedom.
Once you’ve given your kids some suggestions and supplies, step back and see which they choose and where they go with them. This unstructured play time gives kids an opportunity to stretch their creative muscles. Watch as they incorporate your ideas and branch out on their own.
Set an example.
Chances are, if you are a creative person, your child will be too. You display creativity in your everyday activities like when you reason with a disgruntled child, change lyrics to songs, and maybe even do some interpretive dancing to entertain a toddler. Your children see your silliness and it rubs off on them. You surely use creativity to juggle your and your family’s schedules. It’s a great idea to point out to your kids how you use creativity in your daily life.
As parents, we always try to do the very best for our kids and provide opportunities that will help them mature into intelligent, capable adults. Nurturing their creative spirits helps them along this road. With their well-developed imaginations, maybe they’ll turn it into a yellow brick, pink polka-dotted road with sparkles!
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Help children develop a love for science, or nurture their already-growing interest, with these simple experiments.
Ever wanted to catch a cloud in a bottle? Now’s your chance! Pour just a splash of water into a 2-liter plastic bottle. Light a match (a grownup’s job) and drop it into the bottle. Immediately replace the lid and squeeze the bottle a few times to watch your cloud form.
Create your own unique flowers with this neat trick. Fill a vase with water and 8-10 drops of food coloring. Cut the stem of a white carnation at a diagonal, and place the flower into the vase. After a few hours you will notice a slight change of color in the petals. Let the flower soak overnight and observe the dramatic change in the morning.
Don’t worry–this doesn’t hurt a bit! In fact, you may want to try this at your next sleepover party. Stand in front of a mirror and turn off all of the lights. Pop a wintergreen- flavored Life Saver into your mouth and chew. Can you believe your eyes? This “lightning” phenomenon is called tribo-luminescence
Is there any necessary connection between our actions and the happiness of others? Disregarding for a moment the murkiness of the definitions of “actions” in philosophical literature – two types of answers were hitherto provided.
Sentient Beings (referred to, in this essay, as “Humans” or “persons”) seem either to limit each other – or to enhance each others actions. Mutual limitation is, for instance, evident in game theory. It deals with decision outcomes when all the rational “players” are fully aware of both the outcomes of their actions and of what they prefer these outcomes to be. They are also fully informed about the other players: they know that they are rational, too, for instance. This, of course, is a very far fetched idealization. A state of unbounded information is nowhere and never to be found. Still, in most cases, the players settle down to one of the Nash equilibrium solutions. Their actions are constrained by the existence of the others
The “Hidden Hand” of Adam Smith (which, among other things, benignly and optimally regulates the market and the price mechanisms) – is also a “mutually limiting” model. Numerous single participants strive to maximize their (economic and financial) outcomes – and end up merely optimizing them. The reason lies in the existence of others within the “market”. Again, they are constrained by other people’s motivations, priorities and, above all, actions.
All the consequential theories of ethics deal with mutual enhancement. This is especially true of the Utilitarian variety. Acts (whether judged individually or in conformity to a set of rules) are moral, if their outcome increases utility (also known as happiness or pleasure). They are morally obligatory if they maximize utility and no alternative course of action can do so. Other versions talk about an “increase” in utility rather than its maximization. Still, the principle is simple: for an act to be judged “moral, ethical, virtuous, or good” – it must influence others in a way which will “enhance” and increase their happiness.
The flaws in all the above answers are evident and have been explored at length in the literature. The assumptions are dubious (fully informed participants, rationality in decision making and in prioritizing the outcomes, etc.). All the answers are instrumental and quantitative: they strive to offer a moral measuring rod. An “increase” entails the measurement of two states: before and after the act. Moreover, it demands full knowledge of the world and a type of knowledge so intimate, so private – that it is not even sure that the players themselves have conscious access to it. Who goes around equipped with an exhaustive list of his priorities and another list of all the possible outcomes of all the acts that he may commit?
But there is another, basic flaw: these answers are descriptive, observational, phenomenological in the restrictive sense of these words. The motives, the drives, the urges, the whole psychological landscape behind the act are deemed irrelevant. The only thing relevant is the increase in utility/happiness. If the latter is achieved – the former might as well not have existed. A computer, which increases happiness is morally equivalent to a person who achieves a quantitatively similar effect. Even worse: two persons acting out of different motives (one malicious and one benevolent) will be judged to be morally equivalent if their acts were to increase happiness similarly.
But, in life, an increase in utility or happiness or pleasure is CONDITIONED upon, is the RESULT of the motives behind the acts that led to it. Put differently: the utility functions of two acts depend decisively on the motivation, drive, or urge behind them. The process, which leads to the act is an inseparable part of the act and of its outcomes, including the outcomes in terms of the subsequent increase in utility or happiness. We can safely distinguish the “utility contaminated” act from the “utility pure (or ideal)” act.
If a person does something which is supposed to increase the overall utility – but does so in order to increase his own utility more than the expected average utility increase – the resulting increase will be lower. The maximum utility increase is achieved overall when the actor forgoes all increase in his personal utility. It seems that there is a constant of utility increase and a conservation law pertaining to it. So that a disproportionate increase in one’s personal utility translates into a decrease in the overall average utility. It is not a zero sum game because of the in finiteness of the potential increase – but the rules of distribution of the utility added after the act, seem to dictate an averaging of the increase in order to maximize the result.
The same pitfalls await these observations as did the previous ones. The players must be in the possession of full information at least regarding the motivation of the other players. “Why is he doing this?” and “why did he do what he did?” are not questions confined to the criminal courts. We all want to understand the “why’s” of actions long before we engage in utilitarian calculations of increased utility. This also seems to be the source of many an emotional reaction concerning human actions. We are envious because we think that the utility increase was unevenly divided (when adjusted for efforts invested and for the prevailing cultural mores). We suspect outcomes that are “too good to be true”. Actually, this very sentence proves my point: that even if something produces an increase in overall happiness it will be considered morally dubious if the motivation behind it remains unclear or seems to be irrational or culturally deviant.
Two types of information are, therefore, always needed: one (discussed above) concerns the motives of the main protagonists, the act-ors. The second type relates to the world. Full knowledge about the world is also a necessity: the causal chains (actions lead to outcomes), what increases the overall utility or happiness and for whom, etc. To assume that all the participants in an interaction possess this tremendous amount of information is an idealization (used also in modern theories of economy), should be regarded as such and not be confused with reality in which people approximate, estimate, extrapolate and evaluate based on a much more limited knowledge.
Two examples come to mind:
Aristotle described the “Great Soul”. It is a virtuous agent (actor, player) that judges himself to be possessed of a great soul (in a self-referential evaluative disposition). He has the right measure of his worth and he courts the appreciation of his peers (but not of his inferiors) which he believes that he deserves by virtue of being virtuous. He has a dignity of demeanor, which is also very self-conscious. He is, in short, magnanimous (for instance, he forgives his enemies their offenses). He seems to be the classical case of a happiness-increasing agent – but he is not. And the reason that he fails in qualifying as such is that his motives are suspect. Does he refrain from assaulting his enemies because of charity and generosity of spirit – or because it is likely to dent his pomposity? It is sufficient that a POSSIBLE different motive exist – to ruin the utilitarian outcome.
Adam Smith, on the other hand, adopted the spectator theory of his teacher Francis Hutcheson. The morally good is a euphemism. It is really the name provided to the pleasure, which a spectator derives from seeing a virtue in action. Smith added that the reason for this emotion is the similarity between the virtue observed in the agent and the virtue possessed by the observer. It is of a moral nature because of the object involved: the agent tries to consciously conform to standards of behaviour which will not harm the innocent, while, simultaneously benefiting himself, his family and his friends. This, in turn, will benefit society as a whole. Such a person is likely to be grateful to his benefactors and sustain the chain of virtue by reciprocating. The chain of good will, thus, endlessly multiply.
Even here, we see that the question of motive and psychology is of utmost importance. WHY is the agent doing what he is doing? Does he really conform to society’s standards INTERNALLY? Is he GRATEFUL to his benefactors? Does he WISH to benefit his friends? These are all questions answerable only in the realm of the mind. Really, they are not answerable at all.
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Living your successful life requires you to step out. I remember as a teenager, right out of high school, learning this valuable lesson. Now – 15 years later – my life is the result of habitually stepping out.
The scene is Naval Recruit Training Center in San Diego, Ca. There I am, standing poker-straight in a line with some 15 other recruits as the Southern California sun tans our young faces.
“I need a volunteer,” shouts the drill instructor. “Take one step forward!” The first thing you’re taught in boot camp is never volunteer for anything. Of course, I wasn’t very good at conforming and stepped right out.
The drill instructor approached. Standing nose to nose with me, he stated in a quiet “Dirty Harry” kind of voice “Pollock, do you know only true leaders step out front?”
John F. Kennedy, echoing Theodore Roosevelt, stated the idea more eloquently when he said:
“The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best, if he wins, knows the thrills of high achievement, and, if he fails, at least fails daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”
Living your life on your terms means stepping out on a regular basis. You have a song in your heart. Will you step out from the crowd and sing that song? Will you risk appearing the fool to live your dreams?
It may seem frightening and lonely to step out front. It is, but only for a short time. The comfort of conformity soon pales in comparison to the power, passion and excitement that comes with any bold, new, purposeful action.
You’ll soon find others who’ve stepped out front with you. They’re people like you who’ve grown weary of living a mediocre existence. They – like you – will have heeded the whisper of God within, which quietly says “It’s your life. Make it great.”
Step out front this week. It doesn’t have to be a big step. Maybe you’ve been thinking about starting your own home based business. Perhaps you have an idea for your own newsletter. Maybe there’s a class you’ve been wanting to take. Whatever it is, take your first step this week.
If you’re not sure what that first step is for you, shoot me a message and we’ll come up with it together.
Step out and have a great week!
It’s your life! Create it the way you want it.
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