NASA Has It’s Head In The Clouds

Apparently there are not enough stars to gaze at it or space to explore. Those wacky scientists, not the least bit concerned that their days might be numbered and they might have to go out and get real jobs, have decided to go into the socio-economic business, and their progressive slip is showing;

Few think Western civilization is on the brink of collapse—but it’s also doubtful the Romans and Mesopotamians saw their own demise coming either.

If we’re to avoid their fate, we’ll need policies to reduce economic inequality and preserve natural resources, according to a NASA-funded study that looked at the collapses of previous societies.

“Two important features seem to appear across societies that have collapsed,” reads the study. “The stretching of resources due to the strain placed on the ecological carrying capacity and the economic stratification of society into Elites and Masses.”

Here we go again, more of this wealth redistribution crap, progressivism is so noxious. The Elites against the Masses, two distinct and separate animals, never ever cross breeding or sharing of common goals or common beliefs, us against them, how boring. And what is this “ecological carrying capacity”? Is this codespeak for population control?

In unequal societies, researchers said, “collapse is difficult to avoid…. Elites grow and consume too much, resulting in a famine among Commoners that eventually causes the collapse of society.”

There is so much wrong with this, it’s hard to know where to start. What is an “equal society” and has there ever been one for us to look are and compare? In a free market/capitalist society don’t we want the Elites to consume stuff? Isn’t that how economies are moved forward to grow? When rich people (I will take literary license here and assume that is who they mean by “Elites”) inject their capital into the marketplace, goods are produced, jobs are created, and profits puts food on the dinner tables of the workers. Why are they bitching about that?

Who decides how much is too much? If Warren Buffett decides to take 10 fancy vacations a year instead of 5, or Bill Gates thinks he needs 3 yachts tied in port instead of 1, is this really hurting society? Is it wasteful (The travel industry workers and the yacht builders don’t think so), and how pray tell is any of those taking away from the Masses? More of that finite pie crap, that since the rich has a bigger piece, it only follows that the poor will have a smaller slice. So their conclusion is that because the rich buy too much stuff, the poor will will go hungry, famine is created. Mind numblingly stupid.

A few words about natural resources. I always thought scientist types did not limit themselves to “what we have now” but could project to “what are the possibilities in the future”. We know that we have more trees now then ever before. Sure, the earth contains a finite amount fossil fuels under ground, but who says we are even remotely close to running out. More advanced and efficient extraction methods, tar sands, heavy oil, oil shale, gas shale, even the discovery and commercial viability of different energy sources, all could prolong and preserve the abundance of available natural resources.

NASA and the stupid have not been strangers so I am not surprised at this little jaunt through progressive fairyland, but in the conversation of what government agencies need to get the ax (many are worse than useless and would not be missed) NASA is on the bubble. Yes, I know that when their budget is put up against the avalanche of waste we see in most entitlement programs, we are talking pennies on the dollar. But when they get sidetracked with proclamations damning the rich and parrot the president’s redistributionist junk, that tells me they do not have enough work to do and maybe they need to be redistributed back into the private sector.

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  1. Seattle Outcast

    Looks like NASA needs to be either abolished or have a massive change in management.

    I mean, just look at that total joke of a “scientist” Hanson – he should have been shitcanned decades ago.

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  2. Miguelito

    You know, the irony of something like this coming from a place that doesn’t exactly employ a bunch of minimum wage earning, non-educated people is rather deep.

    To see talk of “elites” vs the “masses” from a place that has literal rocket scientists working for it… whee.

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  3. Hal_10000

    Actually, resource monitoring is part of NASA’s mission. We need orbital data to monitor global trends in fresh water, forestation, etc. This study is a very tiny drop in NASA’s pool — probably a bit of funding added to an NSF/UMaryland program because of NASA’s interest in the impact of resource depletion. People who get any amount of funding from NASA — even if it’s ten cents — tend to claim it’s a NASA-funded study even if it really isn’t. The amount of money we’re talking about is almost certainly less than the White House’s budget for commemorative doilies.

    That having been said, this seems like a study from the 70’s. Fresh water is a resource concern right now, as are fish stocks. But forest, as Rich noted, aren’t. And overpopulation is long gone as a real concern. We’re feeding more people using less land than we were twenty years ago. And that would be even more true if the lefties would drop the GMO hysteria. I’m not sure what inequality has to do with anything since global inequality is massively shrinking.

    (And SO, quit trying to threadjack onto your favorite and least knowledgable subject)

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  4. Hal_10000

    Hmm. Dug up the paper. A few things worthy of note:

    1) It has not been submitted to a journal. Sometimes releasing a paper before the referee stage is justified if it’s on a critical topic. But you have to have earned the street cred for that (see below).

    2) it relies almost entirely on models. Models are useful, but this looks like a classic “well, the model is interesting and … the model is interesting. They don’t seem to have tested it with actual data.

    In this paper we attempt to model collapse mathematically in a more general way. We propose a simple model, not intended to describe actual individual cases, but rather to provide a general framework that allows carrying out “thought experiments” for the phenomenon of collapse and to test changes that would avoid it

    3) It says it was partially funded by a NASA grant to a PI who is not on the paper. I suspect the deal is that they got a small amount of money because NASA is interested in resource projection.

    4) The lead author is a PhD candidate, so we’re now talking about an unrefereed dissertation project. He’s a PhD candidate in applied math/public policy, which is why it’s heavy on theory.

    Ok, um, why is this news? It must be the Scientific Peter Principle again. He made a dramatic claim based on some models. And the press is eating it up because it comports with their biases. See this cartoon for this process works:

    Well played, media. An unrefereed theoretical study by a PhD candidate is now being touted a thorough NASA study by a Goddard.

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  5. richtaylor365 *

    To see talk of “elites” vs the “masses” from a place that has literal rocket scientists working for it… whee.

    That was my sentiment as well. I have great respect for most scientists, they are smarter than me and abide by a disciplined approach of analysis. They, by nature, are not prone to emotion, projection, superstition, or speculation and understand that their theories only work until empirical facts are discovered to refute it. So why all the sudden are these scientists going all wobbly? To posit the belief that a) our natural resources are dwindling at an unacceptable rate, and b) that income inequality will cause wide spread famine within the Commoners, causing them to either revolt or upset the apple cart demising society, most scientists would counter with ,”show me your proof”.

    It is not like NASA (or studies written under that moniker) to politically pander to those in power and those that could affect the purse strings. Their work lies within the scientific world, they should limit their endeavors to that realm and stay out of the prognostication business.

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  6. Seattle Outcast

    Go fuck yourself HAL – as a mod you should have some fucking manners/sense rather than casually insulting one of the last few people that actually seem to give a shit about this blog just because about 95% of the people here disagree with you on a touchy subject. Are you having a bad day or something?

    The whole issue of NASA quietly not doing a fucking thing about a highly paid “scientist” on the payroll that spends much of his time getting arresting and making unsupported statements/predictions about eminent global destruction because we aren’t driving electric cars is well tied to this “study” as a pattern of behavior. It’s sort of like Bill Clinton’s whole “can’t control his dick” thing – one fat chick with this spooge all over her dress isn’t a trend, but when there’s a line of women lined up at the National Enquirer you do have one. NASA has been moving into political advocate territory for some time, this is just another example of it, Hanson not being shut up and having his connection to NASA cut 20 years ago is the first example.

    Now, go tell us again how all the “global warming” is “hiding” in the deep ocean for the past two decades, and we’ll see who doesn’t know what the fuck they’re talk about…

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  7. CM

    He’s 100% right though Seattle, you’ve shown time and time again that you’re a conspiracy nutjob on this issue. You employ the same tactics as Alex and the multitudes of others online – make accusations but never back them up, never get down into detail. Ever. You just repeat conspiracy/fraud mantras because you’re an ideologue and it doesn’t compute otherwise.
    Mind his manners? He’s not the coward constantly accusing people of fraud left right and centre without any basis. That’s having no manners and yet you and others do it constantly because you are intellectually lazy and there is are consequences to your actions. Take some personal responsibility for a change, you’re a grown man aren’t you?

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  8. Hal_10000

    I don’t object to an AGW debate. I object to trying to bait one on a post that has nothing to do with global warming, which has happened several times recently.

    The study that Rich blogged about is worthy enough of discussion without having to drag something else in. There’s a lot of debate in scientific circles about what caused the collapse of various civilizations. One of the debates is about the Maya, who may have exhausted their environment. But I don’t think that’s really relevant to a society that takes environmentalism as seriously as ours does. They might have had a point thirty years ago. But given the improvements in land use, pollution, etc., it’s become less of an issue. Almost every environmental indicator is positive with a few exceptions. And almost all of those have workable solutions. This is old environmental hysteria wrapped in a sleek mathematical model.

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  9. richtaylor365 *

    Ya think social causes was a factor in this so called scientific model of theirs? The proliferation of slavery, moral turpitude, the decline of patriotism, and the birth of a little obscure religion (Christianity), were these accounted for in that mathematical model in determining the fall of Rome?

    The researchers used what they termed a Human And Nature DYnamical (HANDY) formula to reach their conclusions. The formula uses factors such as birth rates, resources, and income classes to create a mathematical equation to project outcomes.

    What’s “handy” is that this government-funded study just happens to mirror what our ideological president and his party keep peddling as fact.

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  10. Hal_10000

    Rich, I sense that you have read some of Gibbon. :)

    The rise of fall of empires is a rich subject for study. But one thing I’ve learned is that they are all different. You really can’t play this eco-determinism game. The Maya may have fallen because of the environment. But Rome, the Empire I feel we are most comparable to, fell because people stopped defending it.

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  11. AlexInCT

    But Rome, the Empire I feel we are most comparable to, fell because people stopped defending it.

    Funny how the same thing that killed Rome, the empire we are most compared to, is what’s also killing us….

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  12. CM

    CM, if there are any nutjobs at this blog, that label belongs to you.

    Good point – that “make accusations but never back them up, never get down into detail. Ever.” applies more generally too. Thanks for pointing that out.
    As always, you be sure to let us know when you’ve ACTUALLY got something. ;-)

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  13. hist_ed

    Hansen should have been fired when he started ranting about how he was silenced. One of the most well known scientists in the world, sitting atop the premier space agency (well, it used to be), published in scientific journals and mass media-yet he is “silenced.” Obviously this guy doesn’t have a logical bone in his body.

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  14. AlexInCT

    At least their head isn’t as firmly up their ass as I once believed it was…

    Ok, that was a bad joke. It’s so far up there that these people are now able to breathe methane.

    Maybe in the atmosphere where one bunch of credentialed elites, some with science degrees, have to kiss the asses of a bunch of other credentialed elites, the bulk of them with law or studies types bullshit degrees, for those federal dollars, this is what passes for doing the smart thing, considering the people holding the purse strings these days, but it all reeks.

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