An Opinion-Editorial on ‘Global Warming’
The statement “rising temperatures are causing widespread melting of ice” is a commonly heard statement that flags a problem in our culture, in our popular manner of conceiving dynamics, not only in the media and public at large, but also in much of science. It lies at the root of current widespread public fear of ‘global warming’.
A ‘rising temperature’ is an observation; it has no ‘power of causality’. The observation that temperatures are rising informs us that ‘something is going on in the world’ but it does not inform us as to ‘what is going on’.
There is nevertheless a simple ‘correlation’ there, between ‘rising temperatures’ and ‘ice melting’, in some places but not everywhere (not where the temperature remains below 0 degrees Celsius). Our cultural habit (this will be explored in a moment) is to capture this correlation in terms of ‘time’; i.e. ‘WHEN the temperature rises above 0 degrees Celsius, ice turns to water and WHEN the temperature falls below 0 degrees, water turns to ice.’. The alternative is to capture this correlation ‘spatially’; i.e. ‘WHERE the temperature rises above 0 degrees Celsius, ice turns to water and WHERE temperature falls below 0 degrees, water turns to ice’.
This difference in the way we formulate our observations is not trivial. It was the source of fundamental disagreements between Albert Einstein and Henri Poincaré, contemporaries in the development of relativity theory, as is discussed in Peter Galison’s book ‘Einstein’s Clocks, Poincarés Maps’.
Psychologically, the choice of formulations makes a big difference. For example, rising and falling temperatures are moderated by the melting of ice.
Temperature is a measure of kinetic activity, and in the transition of H20 from the water (high kinetic energy) phase to ice phase (high potential energy where we define potential energy as negative kinetic energy or ‘dark energy’ as in a ‘black hole’), considerable kinetic energy is transferred into the space in which the newly formed ice is included. For this reason, farmers used to put tubs of water in their root cellars so that on cold nights in the winter, the partial freezing of the tubs would exude kinetic energy into root cellar and prevent the potatoes etc. from freezing. Conversely, the farmer may have put a block of ice in his house on a hot summer day since when ice melts, it extracts considerable kinetic energy from the space it is included in.
The forming of ice and the melting of ice are manifestations of a moderating of the amount of free kinetic energy in space. On a global scale, nature has many processes for moderating the difference between opposites. For example, ocean currents and atmospheric currents are mobilized in the service of moving thermal energy (kinetic energy) from thermal energy rich equatorial regions to thermal energy poor polar regions.
[N.B. -The notion of ‘energy moving’ is based on conceiving of space as absolute, vacuum-filled space. If one considers space as energy-loaded, as in modern physics, then the view is one in which the energy-loading of space is transforming, rather than energy ‘moving’ from place to place.]
The accumulating of ice in the polar regions can be thought of as the equivalent mother nature putting a tub of water in the root cellar to moderate the decline of kinetic energy (as signalled by falling temperatures), and the southern flow of icebergs and cold water currents, can be thought of as mother nature’s moderating response to the rise of kinetic energy (rising temperature) in the equatorial regions. This way of looking at these dynamics grounds our view in ‘energy relationships’ in precedence over ‘material dynamics’ as is suggested by relativity and quantum physics.
However we think of it, our observations indicate a SPATIAL-RELATIONSHIP that provides global context for the local water-based moderation of the tendency towards rising kinetic energy (moreso towards the equator) and the water-based moderation of the tendency towards declining kinetic energy (moreso towards the poles).
Interpreted in this way, the system involves ‘simultaneous ‘bidirectional innovation’ (as in Mach’s principle) rather than unidirectionally innovating as is the standard simplification that associates with local time-based observations.
ONLY IF we remove the spatial relationship and ‘think locally’ do we get the observation that ‘WHEN the temperature rises above 0 degrees Celsius, ice turns to water’.
The more general observation acknowledges is that ‘melting’ and ‘freezing’ not only transpire at the same time but are correlated (or ‘anti-correlated’ as in a circular/cyclical process) over large regions of space such as the earth’s surface. This more complex and comprehensive observation is more accurately alluded to, but still not fully captured by; ‘WHERE the temperature rises above 0 degrees Celsius, ice turns to water and WHERE the temperature falls below 0 degrees, water turns to ice’. In order to visualize these two things as occurring simulteously and reciprocally in a manner that transcends sequential time, we have to recall that a relative compression in the atmosphere is inherently, at the same time, a complementary reciprocal expansion in the atmosphere since the atmospheric volume that wraps around the surface of the sphere of the earth is ‘one finite and unbounded volume’ which must itself ‘give way’ to accommodate its own ‘thrusting’. That is, in the flow of the atmosphere, expansion and compression are two sides of the same coin, or, ‘the dynamical figure and the dynamical ground’ are two aspects of a single dynamic.
The natural fact that ‘space’ is a participant in dynamical phenomena was a psychological realization that astounded scientists at the turn of the nineteenth to twentieth centuries. The century that has since passed hasn’t been sufficient for breaking millenia-old ways of thinking, not in the general public and not in the mainstream scientific community.
In the case of ‘temperatures’ and ‘freezing’ and ‘melting’, the classical approach was to study the behaviour of local objects and local materials in the laboratory, out of the context of ‘space’. Thus science could determine, in the laboratory, that a block of ice would melt WHEN the temperature rose above 0 degrees Celsius (and a ‘body’ of water would freeze if the temperature fell below 0 degrees Celsius). These two equal but opposite dynamics have us think in terms of unidirectional innovation. However if we visualize space as the energy-loaded base, we can visualize the two unidirectional innovations as one bidirectional innovation, in the manner that the storm-cell (dynamic figure) and atmospheric flow (dynamic ground) are one dynamic with two simultaneous aspects, only one aspect of which is visible to us.
This re-visualizing of unidirectional innovation as bidirectional innovation is a common feature of upgrading to ‘relativity’ and ‘quantum theory’. Dennis Gabor’s quantum theory compliant ‘communications theory’ suspends the viewing of signal content as a unidirectional innovator, a ‘dynamic figure’ that assumes a fixed reference ground. Gabor likens the change to complementing the ‘rotating vector’ (which is all there in classical communications theory) with a reciprocal complementary ‘rotating field’. That is, the visible aspect of a hurricane may be its pinwheel like (rotating radial arms)’; i.e the local dynamic figure, but we are aware also of the implicit, real, but invisible, reciprocal complementary rotating flow (dynamic ground) and these two are two observer imposed aspects of a single dynamic. In Gabor’s communications theory, the two aspects relate as complex conjugates, the one being 90 degrees phase shifted from on another. A ninety degree phase shift is equivalent to multiplication by the imaginary unit ‘i’. In terms of human experience, if we were standing on a raft that was caught in a vortex, the rotational acceleration that we would feel would be 90 degrees phase-lead from the actual visible turning of the raft.
Thus our total experience would understand the ‘two-part’ dynamic (dynamic figure and dynamic ground) as one dynamic with two observer-imposed aspects.
In the case where space is acknowledged to be a participant in dynamical phenomena; i.e. in the case where we acknowledge that space is an energy storehouse and not the proverbial ‘vacuum’ that inhabits a rectangular Euclidian space frame, … we can start with space, such as the space on the surface of the earth, and describe what goes on SPATIALLY in terms of conversion between potential energy (‘energy of ‘place’’, or ‘space’) and ‘kinetic energy’. If we divided up the surface of the earth into little elemental volumes of space we could describe what we actually see in terms of how much free kinetic energy (e.g. free water) and how much stored potential energy (e.g. ice) resides in each of these space elemental volumes. This is the conception that Henri Poincaré preferred which made ‘time’-based dynamics secondary to the space-based dynamics. Einstein preferred to keep ‘time’-based dynamics in the primary role.
Unlike time-based dynamics, space-based dynamics are capable of the ‘backstretched connexion’, where the dynamic figure and the dynamic ground are one dynamic in which the dual aspects are the result of backstretched pull-apart. For example, the rising crest and the descending trough in the following mode, as might occur from dropping a pebble in a pond, are simultaneous reciprocal complements;
If we remove the spatial-relational aspect, where we can capture the simultaneous ‘bidirectionally innovative’ character of this dynamic, we can plot this in standard fashion as a rise in amplitude FOLLOWED IN TIME BY a decline; i.e. as two unidirectional innovations; i.e. two dynamic figures that, instead of being mutually referencing, reference to a notional fixed reference space frame.
If we conceive of the space of the earth’s surface and atmosphere as ONE SPACE, we could conceive of polar cooling and equatorial heating, also as two observer imposed aspects of a single dynamic. Certainly our intuition demands a ‘backstretched connexion’ between the two’ since it would not be reasonable to expect the polar cooling to intensify while conditions at the equator remained flat. Neither would our intuition support the notion that cooling would remain the same at the poles while the equatorial region continued to heat up.
If our starting point is not ‘dynamic figures’ (local objects) and we start with the space volumes whose ratio of kinetic to potential energy is continually changing, we have a fully general basis for describing any and all dynamics (recalling matter-energy equivalence), without having to start from particular objects or bodies (dynamic figures) whose location and motion changes in time. In this case, our template for capturing our observations themselves, is in terms of ‘spatial-relational energy transformation’. This view is entirely in energy/space terms without direct dependency on local material objects or material substance. (In Gabor’s communications theory, the treatment of signal (dynamic figure) and context (dynamic ground) as conjugate aspects of one dynamic similarly does away with dependency on local objects, hence, holography or ‘holodynamics’.
In the energy/space-based formulation, when we examine the climate on earth, we can see simultaneous mutually opposite patterns of changing understood by the changing of potential/kinetic relations in the elemental volumes of space. HOWEVER, if we were to take a clock over to a particular cell, we could also capture the potential-energy/kinetic-energy dynamics of the MATERIAL in the particular cell and we could report that “WHEN the temperature rises above 0 degrees Celsius, ice turns to water and WHEN the temperature falls below 0 degrees, water turns to ice.’.”
That’s true, nobody can refute that, so it will stand up as a ‘scientific truth’ (but there are ‘incomplete truths’ as well as ‘inconvenient truths’ and the very notion of an ‘incomplete truth’ can be rather ‘inconvenient’ to those who confuse the ‘incomplete truth’ for ‘reality’). That is, while the ‘truth’ formulated in terms of the local behaviour in terms of ‘how things change in time’ is irrefutable, it fails to capture our observations that there are highly correlated spatial relationships involved in this ‘freezing’ and ‘melting’; e.g. the relationships that make clear that freezing and melting is spatially correlated so as to serve the moderating of SPATIAL DIFFERENCES in the distribution of thermal energy; i.e. over the surface of the earth that ranges from pole to equator to pole.
What is clear here is that ‘the backstretched connection or ‘bidirectional innovation’ can only be represented ‘spatially’ where it is possible to one thing move in two directions AT THE SAME TIME as in the stretching of an elastic band. If we measure movements of local objects in ‘time’, the object cannot be going in different directions at the same time (unless it is becoming more than one object such as an exploding shell). This is the decision we have to make in interpreting such dynamics as those of a storm cell;
It seems ‘sort of dumb’ to capture the rule dealing with freezing and melting of water/ice in the ‘time-based version’ because it reduces the dynamics of the earth (and the universe) to a mere ‘ambient condition’ relative to the local phenomenon; i.e. the full time-based statement would be; “WHEN the ambient conditions are such that the temperature rises above 0 degrees Celsius, ice will turn into water”.
Where our initial observations were far richer in information, informing us of a highly spatially-correlated energy-tranformation phenomenon, when we reduce our observations to what goes on LOCALLY in the laboratory, these richly informing spatially correlated patterns are reduced to ‘the ambient conditions’; i.e. ‘space’ is taken out of the inquiry and the entire focus turns to the behaviour of LOCAL MATTER. Since the ambient conditions such as ‘temperature’ change in time, we come away with an understanding based on ‘how local material things change in time’.
This latter ‘incomplete truth’, based on,‘how local material things change in time’; i.e. this unidirectional innovation that invests all of the innovation in the dynamic form and none in the dynamic ground is a very popular way of conceiving of the world dynamic (another exemplar of which is the notion that ‘the Colorado river carves out the Grand Canyon). This mode of viewing dynamic phenomena which ‘holds the dynamic ground constant while crediting the dynamic form with all of the innovation is the same sort of ‘de-spatialized’ viewing associated with the notion of ‘global warming’; i.e. ‘WHEN the temperature rises above 0 degrees Celsius, ice turns to water’.
Returning to the initial observation; ‘rising temperature’ is NOT a ‘causal agency’ as it is popularly depicted (e.g. ‘rising temperatures are causing the melting of glaciers’). A rising temperature is merely our own observation. It is a signalling that something is going on that involves the transformation of potential to kinetic energy and that ‘something’ is decidedly ‘spatial-relation’ in nature.
The term ‘global warming’ is of the type just described; i.e. how local material things change in time’, the ‘thing’ in this case being ‘the globe of the earth’. But on what grounds do we ‘split off’ the earth as a local ‘thing’ and seek to understand how it changes relative to ‘the passage of time’ instead of relative to its spatial relationships?
There is no way to split the earth out its spatial relationships as ‘global warming’ implies, except ‘mentally’ by imposing a notional ‘Euclidian space reference frame’ that notionally captures the earth within it so that the dynamics on earth are conceived of as being relative to an absolute space frame, reducing its ‘real-time spatial relationships’ to ‘ambient conditions that change in time. Only then is the mathematical option afforded to us, to ‘hold the ambient conditions constant over time’ while we theorize that local internal dynamics are changing the condition of the globe. As Alvin Toffler says in his ‘Science and Change’ forward to Ilya Prigogine’s ‘Order out of Chaos’,
“One of the most highly developed skills in contemporary Western civilization is dissection: the split-up of problems into their smallest possible components. … This skill is perhaps most finely honed in science. There we not only routinely break problems down into bite-sized chunks and mini-chunks, we then very often isolate each one from its environment by means of a useful trick. We say ‘ceteris paribus’ — all other things being equal. In this way we can ignore the complex interactions between our problem and the rest of the universe.”
The understanding that is conveyed by the term ‘global warming’ is founded on the ‘useful trick’ that Toffler speaks of. After we conceptually ISOLATE the globe of the earth inside the mental abstraction of a Euclidian space reference frame, we invoke the ceteris paribus trick and make it seem as if the overall global kinetic-energy dynamic (which is what ‘temperature’ is) is determined from the inside; e.g. ‘by the actions of man’ amongst other notional unidirectionally innovating ‘internal causal sources’.
The notion of ‘global warming’ and ‘man-made global warming’ are a sort of ‘short-hand’ that comes from mentally modeling dynamics in terms of the change in LOCAL objects or material substance (e.g. ice, water) in TIME. This notional ‘localizing’ of a material object; i.e. notionally stripping it out of its dynamic spatial relations, is accomplished by the imposing of an abstract absolute space reference frame. Once we impose this notional frame, we are free to impute the notion of ceteris paribus (a close relative of hocus pocus) and proceed to model change LOCALLY as if it were the result of local internal (inside the euclidian box) processes).
Just as ‘gravity is everywhere at the same time’, so it is with the ‘energy-of-space’. There is no ‘time-lag’ between equatorial heating and polar cooling, these two are conjugate aspects of a single spatial-relation energy dynamic. The dynamics of the storm-cell (dynamical figure) and the dynamics of the flow of the atmosphere (dynamical ground) are not two different dynamics; i.e. the storm-cell does not push the flow of the atmosphere around so that the flow of the atmosphere pushes the storm-cell back in some kind of mutually interacting (in time) feedback cycle, the fluid energy dynamic, like gravity, is ‘everywhere at the same time’ and what we observe is a spatial-relational dynamic; i.e. the conversion of potential energy to kinetic energy. The dynamical ground of the flow of the atmosphere ‘pressures up’ with solar irradiation so that it has excess potential energy. Like the tensions on the opposite faces of a fault, the way to remove this buildup of potential energy is ‘to move’; i.e. to liberate some of the potential energy buildup by converting it to kinetic energy. An increase in kinetic energy corresponds generally to an increase in temperature.
The point here is that we tend to isolate the dynamical figure (the pinwheel part of the storm-cell) by notionally framing it in an absolute space reference box, and studying it as if it were a ‘local phenomenon’. In so doing, we split it out of the flow of the atmosphere or ‘dynamical ground’ in which it is intrinsically included by way of dynamical spatial relations. Henceforth, we can speak of the dynamics of the ‘dynamical figure’ AS IF IT WERE, NOTIONALLY, A LOCAL SYSTEM, NOTIONALLY, WITH ITS OWN LOCALLY ORIGINATING (INTERNAL AGENCY DRIVEN) BEHAVIOUR.
The earth is a dynamical figure within a dynamical ground in the same sense as the convection cell is a dynamical figure within a dynamical ground. It has been our habit, particularly in science, as Toffler observes, to split everything apart and to try to understand the parts in isolation. The notions of ‘global warming’ and ‘man-made-global warming’ are the products of this splitting apart and the latter is the product of the invoking of the ceteris paribus hocus pocus.
That is, the notion of man-made global warming is the product of our scientific ‘hocus pocus’. Man does not have the power to change the system he is included in, as if it were a local system whose behaviour was internally derived (the earth is not such a system). Man’s relationship with the space he is included in has been described by Ernst Mach in his principle of the relativity of space and matter which can be expressed as follows; ‘The dynamics of the habitat (dynamical ground) condition the dynamics of the inhabitants (dynamical figures) at the same time as the dynamics of the inhabitants are being conditioned by the dynamics of the habitat’.
In other words, man can cultivate and sustain or poison and pollute by way of his conjugate habitat-inhabitant relation’ but he cannot control the system that he is included in, an unbounded spatial-relational dynamic which not only conditions his behaviour but which continuously creates more of him. The two dynamic figures of man and woman may be presented against a blank backround to imply that THEY are solely responsible for producing the child in a sequential time based enterprise involving unidirectionally innovative action, but the reality is that the space they are included in is not ‘blank’ but is the dynamic ground that all dynamic features emerge from, including man, wife and baby. If we quarantine a man and woman in a laboratory, we can prove that the copulation of human males with human females creates new human offspring, but this fails to acknowledged the ‘backstretched connexion’; i.e. father, mother and infant are all included in a spatial medium or ‘dynamic ground’ which is the parenting source of these three ‘dynamic figures’. The innovation is thus not unidirectional through the human parenting lineage but bidirectional as between dynamic ground and dynamic figures.
The observer’s option of focusing on what happens to the dynamic figure over time, as with monitoring the pinwheel figure of a hurricane over time, blinds him to the backstretched connexion with the dynamic ground. Mentally lifting the dynamic figure out of the dynamic ground and placing him in a laboratory box where we can make observations of local dynamics over time, rather than observing the transforming spatial relations, and then muttering ceteris paribus, so as to focusing the observations only on what goes on with the box, is the synthetic recipe for viewing innovation in a unidirectional sense, through the objects; e.g. Katrina is forming, she is developing, she is intensifying, she is heading northwest, she is raging, she is destroying, she is dissipating, she dead. But of course the dynamic ground of her backstretched connection that pulled her back in remains alive and well.
The notion of man-made global warming is ‘hocus pocus’ that derives from our attempt to simplify the complexity of nature.
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[[ Technical Note: -As has often been pointed out, the imputing of a Euclidian space frame which provides a notional ‘isolating laboratory chamber’ to conceptually put the globe of the earth inside, to cut it off from its celestial spatial relations so that we can ‘see what makes it tick in-its-own-locally-existing right’ is pure abstraction. As Poincaré observes in ‘Science and Hypothesis’;
“Space is another framework we impose upon the world” . . . ” . . . here the mind may affirm because it lays down its own laws; but let us clearly understand that while these laws are imposed on our science, which otherwise could not exist, they are not imposed on Nature.” . . . “Euclidian geometry is . . . the simplest, . . . just as the polynomial of the first degree is simpler than a polynomial of the second degree.” . . . “the space revealed to us by our senses is absolutely different from the space of geometry.”
And as Einstein similarly observes in ‘Ether and Relativity’ and ‘The Evolution of Physics’;
“[Space] not only conditions the behaviour of inert masses, but is also conditioned in its state by them.”, … “the recognition of the fact that ’empty space’ in its physical relation is neither homogeneous nor isotropic, compelling us to describe its state by ten functions (the gravitation potentials g(μν), has, I think finally disposed of the view that space is physically empty.” … “Our world is not Euclidian. The geometrical nature of our world is [reciprocally] shaped by masses and their velocities. The gravitational equations of the general theory of relativity theory try to disclose the geometrical properties of our world. . . . It [relativity] forces us to analyze the role played by geometry in the physical description of the world.”]]