Saturday, March 30, 2019

Sophomoronic

















Earlier mid-month, I recounted the absolutely true-as-described tale of a sales clerk too simple-minded and uneducated to grasp that "half a dozen = six". (I still get shivers when I contemplate the future of a society that she and 50M of her idiot cousins inhabit.)

Now, the other end of the spectrum.

A physician wondered aloud whether there weren't too many people, planet-wide, because there wasn't enough water. (Posited, exactly, as if one day we'd wake up to 20B or 50B people, and all of us thirstily eyeing the last glass of drinking water. I Schiff you not.)

So, clearly, it's possible to take literal years of basic science, starting with chemistry, the building blocks of life, the universe and everything, and biology, moving to anatomy and physiology, and still remain wholly ignorant that 2/3rds of the planet is covered with water, and that all the water everywhere comes from this, and is deposited by clouds hither and yon by the whims of climate. Since forever.


For those who passed an MCAT, but struggled with 4th grade science.
Yardstick across the knuckles optional, but strongly recommended.
















I noted that there was no shortage of water, only a shortage of potable or otherwise-useful water in a given locale, owing to the misfortune of misdistribution. Folks in the Midwest about now, or those in the Amazon Basin or the vicinity of the Everglades or Louisiana bayous would take about a New York minute to assent to this obvious nugget of truth.

We don't have too little water, just too little we can drink, or with which to irrigate, when and where we want it, and horrific surpluses in other places.

Living in California, subject to wet years and dry years, this has been obvious since my youth, and to anyone anywhere with the merest capacity to observe and correlate bog-simple facts.

To a physician musing about his probably recockulous socio-political agenda, not so much.

No matter how many times I had recourse to the historical facts about the entire expansive history of this state in particular, and the American West in general, being the quest and fights over water, and the herculean efforts that have allowed the thriving settlement of the American Desert by moving the resources from where they are to where we want them, and the reliance of this state on Sierra snowpack far more than imported resources, he continued to deploy the deflector screen of blockheaded "I don't believe that."

I see, Doctor. So this is to be rather a religious discussion of your unsubstantiated dogma, and not one of independently verifiable historical and scientific facts? Well played, sir.

I like my job, so I tried (and mostly succeeded) to not stoop to explaining to the doc, like an errant child, that the problem isn't too little water, it's one of mere distribution, abetted hereabouts by the idiot son of another governor, which patriarch had made plans for Califrutopia, for example, sufficient to water and feed and move 50M or even (God forbid!) 80M Califrutopians, until his simple-witted son, after two separate cracks at destroying the Golden State, undid all that by adherence to the same Ehrlich-driven Malthusian pessimism about the carrying capacity of their Mother Gaia, and cancelled aqueducts, reservoirs, power grid expansion, and highway projects with wild abandon, in order to make life here so miserable that people would kill themselves (and, nota bene, their unborn children, QED) rather than birth burgeoning generations of happy, healthy, well-fed children in such a beautiful and hospitable homeland. And who, to date, has succeeded beyond the dreams any sane man would have dared hope.

To be sure, there is an absolute carrying capacity limit on the planet. Probably in the hundreds of billions, provided we were to approach the problem rationally and sanely, which hurdle has felled most civilizations going back only to the Tower of Babel.

But the entire earth's population at present could live quite comfortably and contentedly inside merely the area of Texas, with a population density that wouldn't cause any more stress than most modern cities (provided we didn't put Democrats in charge of city hall nor the public utilities thereof).

Leaving, in that example, all of humanity only 6 and 9/10ths remaining uninhabited continents upon which to raise food, recreate, and frolic, with little further distress, and far more natural harmony to the lesser members of the biosphere.

The twin pitchforks of this dilemma are an over-estimation of humanity's importance and influence, coupled with a self-loathing that rises to a suicidal wish for self-destruction.

This is, inevitably, what happens to anyone, a nominally educated doctor, a society, a civilization, when they decide that Man is the measure of all things.

It can, indeed, be corrected, provided the allowance to use a big enough hammer.

Like Archimedes with his lever, I can fix all stupidity,
if you'll only let me use the right hammer.

19 comments:

Bear Claw Chris Lapp said...

A massive amount have no clue what the Archimedean screw is. I learned it as a youngun.

The doc's are less concerned about healthcare and more concerned about their big pharma bennies they are going to get by telling their 92 year old patient that they are switching them to a new medication. Its a little more expensive, as did my doctor to my mother in law. I bit my tongue but I wanted to unload on him. No change was made, he was a friend but now he is only my doctor. I got tired of him prescribing the newest medications to me as well but he has learned that I don't do that, generic only when available. Big pharma can screw themselves since they don't want cures. My latest joy has come from the billionaire Sackler families travails, look them up. They have threatened bankruptcy from it, which means they will not be personally punished but Karma is a bitch you know.

Bear Claw Chris Lapp said...

Forgot to add my home state is the first beneficiary but as described the money won't go where it's really needed, state government as it is and described brilliantly here.

Ned2 said...

The current population of the planet, let's round it off to 8 billion, could live quite comfortably in the state of Texas.
And, they would enjoy more than twice the space people currently enjoy in New York City.........at night.
The planet is more than capable of handling over 200 billion people.

DAN III said...

Note to All:

One cannot reason with the unreasonable. Especially the communist Democrats.

Anonymous said...

Various news agencies are making a big deal about 1 million square acres of farmland is flooded in the mid west. This is slightly larger than the state of Rhode Island. If you have a child's puzzle of the United States place the Rhode Island piece where Nebraska and Iowa meet. It's just a dot compared to the whole mid west. Then realize that the flooding is spread out over 5 or 6 states and an intelligent person should realize that this is a nothing story. Except that evil people are going to use this story as an excuse to raise the prices of food and gas and stupid people will believe it's glow bull warming and mankinds fault. You're going to need a bigger clue bat!

Anonymous said...

....he continued to deploy the deflector screen of blockheaded "I don't believe that."

Wait until deflector mode is staring and shaking his head at yøu like a syphilitic, nonverbal, autistic cow.

Twenty years ago for me, that's when I checked out of civilization.

Fred

Jim Scrummy said...

I like that Clue Bat of yours. I need to either find one like you have or make one out of one of the wooden baseball bats I have. So much good times to be had with a clue bat...good times.

I do hope the good doctor is actually competent in his chosen profession of medicine? He needs to stay inside his lane, permanently, and not even turn on his turn signal to start a lane change. Hydro-geology and hydrology are not his forte' at all.

Joe Mama said...

Let me play the devil's advocate:

I agree that missallocation and intermittency are issues. I have little optimism that missallocation will heal itself nor does it seem likely that vast numbers of people will migrate every five years to chase the rain.

The problem is not the technology. Shepherds followed rain since before recorded history. The problem is that people expect technology to bend physics and thermodynamics to their preconceptions of what is "normal" or "right".

Your comment that 71% of the planet is covered with water is gorilla dust, it is not really germane to the discussion. We are not going to use sea water in factories, to irrigate alfalfa or to flush toilets. Sea water is not in play.

Can doctors be idiots? You bet. In any sufficiently large population, regression-to-the-mean kicks in and you will have the same percentage of idiots, dweebs, zealots, geniuses, saints, sinners....as the general population.

The EPA informs us that the typical American uses 100 gallons a day for household uses. That does not count the water that gets used in industry (i.e. workplace) and agriculture and to allow Sacramento Brown Stickleback Shiners to reproduce.

Very little of the 100 gallons is poured into a tumbler and drunk.

IMHO, the problem is that the doctor cannot wrap his/her mind around the fact that he might have to change his life, even a little bit, in response to a kaleidoscope of dynamically changing resource availability. It is sad that the common English Sparrow has a higher survival IQ than your doctor friend. They have little problem switching from resource-to-resource.

And while we *could* avoid a hard-stop and wake up one day with 20B or 50B on this planet...I remain doubtful that we shall run that deeply into the single elimination tournament. One characteristic of winding a clock with a mechanical spring is the sensation of "stacking". Push too far after the spring starts to stack and the clock breaks.

Everybody has their own grip on the situation. Most folks I interact with have the sense that the spring is stacking. Your mileage may vary.

Anonymous said...

OT I know but anyway Aesop, anything new about Ebola? There was a useless story on Drudge last week but nothing I could find while looking in various corners of the internet.

Axing for a friend you know.

John Wilder said...

This might turn into Monday's post, still thinking about it . . . in the absence of religion, there is still the nagging feeling of sin and the need to sacrifice for redemption. That turns itself into self-loathing and a desire to blame humanity for natural things, and burns a deep desire to sacrifice to the (small g) god of the environment, or socialism, or . . . whatever.

If I turn it into a post, it will obviously have more fart jokes.

robins111 said...

We had a reputable well know environmental scientist who was moaning about the water usage in Canada. He was explaining that we use vadtly more that the Congo etc. Upon closer review of his water usage stats, it was discovered that about 85% of the usage was from Hydro-electric generation. On has to presume he believes that the water that flowed through a turbine was unusable for anything else.

Anonymous said...

"On has to presume he believes that the water that flowed through a turbine was unusable for anything else."

No more stupid (stupider?) than the Colorado State legislator who thought rifle mags were only good for one use.

Just when you think it has hit Peak Stupid you are proven wrong and The Stupid expands exponentially.
_revjen45

Ned2 said...

When watching the comedy Idiocracy again recently, I found myself unable to laugh.
The dumbing down is almost complete.

Aesop said...

@Joe Mama

You're missing the point:
The doc thought anyone, anywhere was going to run out of water.

Your canteen might run out of water.
Your dinner glass might too.
But the day when sea water doesn't evaporate, form clouds, and precipitate over land run down to the ocean, and repeat the process would be never in billions of years.

Unless someone blows out the Sun, this is a slam dunk forever.

The only question after that is how to get that from where it lands to your tap.

But he kept on asking "Where does our water come from?", as if it were oil reserves in Oklahoma, that might someday be expended forever, and never come back.
He literally couldn't grasp that CA gets its water for the most part from the Pacific Ocean, and has since ever.

This is three orders of magnitude stupider than thinking cow farts could bollocks up the atmosphere sufficient to warm the globe 1/2 a degree for five minutes, even if the planet's land surface was carpeted with cattle standing three high on each others' shoulders.

It's literally the grasp on the process one would expect to hear from a retarded child dining on lead paint chips three meals a day.

Ned2 said...

I grew up on lead paint chips.

Anonymous said...

For the Doc worried about H2O (that's science talk for water): "Against stupidity even the gods contend in vain".

NE Heretic

Anonymous said...

Scary to think this Doc has responsibility to treat patients. Please tell me he's not as stupid ref say bacteria.
If you didn't like/need your job you could have some fun at his expense
I remember Pat Brown. Too bad he wasn't infertile.
Boat Guy

Joe Mama said...

Thanks for the clarification. I missed that he thought that water tunneled to a parallel universe after it was used.

Anonymous said...

Curious how those who complain that there are 'too many people' don't live their beliefs and do what they can to help solve that problem. I call on them all to lead by example and take the first step to population reduction. You know, think globally, act locally - right at home. If they all would many of those 'problems' would also disappear.