Sunday, April 23, 2006

"Wilma" 2005 & "Monica" 2006


Here's Monica. Current info (4/23/06) describes the monster offshore Australia's north coast as "strong category 5"; "much stronger than 1974's Tracy, the benchmark storm for the area," with gusts near the center at 350 km/h.

Storm intensity depends on central pressure, quantified in hectoPascals (hP) in the metric world, and in millibar (mb) in quaint overseas colonies. Nasty weathers are low pressure systems. Really nasty weather has really low pressure. The lowest ever recorded was 882 mb of Wilma in the 2005 Atlantic hurricane season.

Until today, that is. Monica measures at 879 mb.

The Monika-Puzzle:

In 2005 all meteorological records came crashing down.

The Atlantic hurricane season started weeks earlier and ended a month later than normal; a record 28 storms formed; a record 15 hurricanes formed; 2 hurricanes spun all the way from Florida over to Portugal and the Canary Islands; the US weather service ran out of alphabet names and switched over to Greek letters.

And I don't even mention the 2005 weather madness in China, Japan, and Taiwan.

Natural dynamics plays out in waves, and any crest is followed by a trough. So you'd think that 2006 should be a breather since 2005 was a peak, and that a higher crest would follow 2007. So why Monica's 879 mb now? Does it have anything to do with the fact that the 2005 extremes unfolded in the northern hemisphere, and that it is now the turn of the points south of the equator?

The Wilma-Puzzle:

Kepler discovered the law of light radiation (photometric measurement), Newton applied it to gravitation, and Kant generalized it to free field radiation.

The idea is well known: As distance from a power point increases, the force expanding into inflating activity-bubbles weakens.

Since the surface area of a bubble increases as the square of its radius, force falls off as the inverse square of distance in three dimensions. Which means it falls off sharply. And that means one shouldn't sense the field beyond rather short limits.

Wilma broke the 2005 power-record with 882 mb offshore Yucatan before noon October 19. Yucatan is quite a ways from Tampa. At noon, I was bicycling to campus. It was hot and muggy but nothing out of the ordinary. But when leaving the classroom at 3:15 EST, I felt like being struck by a hammer. The pressure was the weirdest thing. I ran into Kwasi Wiredu; neither of us could make sense of this. Later that afternoon there was mock-hurricane weather over campus -- blue sky and sunshine alternating every 20 minutes with dark clouds and gusts. But Wilma was far away!

How can one feel weird pressure in Florida when the pressure is weird in Mexico?


Wednesday, April 19, 2006

climate philosophy think tank


I received an overwhelmingly positive response to the announcement of the think tank.

Thank you all!

USF Philosophy is now looking at ways of accommodating the many requests for participation. Since the responses are coming from all over the world, this raises the question of how distant philosophers and experts can be involved. Rupert Read and his colleagues at the University of East Anglia, UK, suggested we should look into virtual participation via videoconferencing. After all, it's a bit paradoxical to fly long-distance to a climate conference!

We are planning with minimal resources and no funding. There is no administrative enthusiasm for green ideas in Florida. The USF Department of Environmental Science & Policy will be dissolved after the end of this term. But that's another story.

The announcement follows.


A conference on “Climate & Philosophy” will be held at the University of South Florida, Tampa, USA, on 15-16 September 2006. The conference is organized by USF Philosophy and aims to be a think tank on the meaning of climate change.

The panel on practical philosophy will discuss the sociopolitical, cultural, ethical, and existential issues of climate change.

The panel on theoretical philosophy will discuss the formal, epistemological, and ontological features of climate change.

The panel on pedagogy and didactics will discuss strategies for integrating climate change in the general philosophical curriculum.Various speakers will talk on first-order and second-order aspects of climate change (individual paper topics TBA).

We will be examining the heuristic potential of European, Asian, and African thinkers, such as Leibniz, Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Zhuangzi, Laozi, Xunzi, Watsuji, or Fanon, for meeting the conceptual challenge posed by the accelerating global warming and the impending climate crash.

Many of us in USF Philosophy think that the unfolding events of the human-nature interplay highlight the potential of thinkers that are marginalized or at best ‘problematized’ in the academy.

Analytic and postmodern mainstreams have retreated to skepticism and have dismissed systematic explorations of deeper questions of being and nature; English-language philosophy is now largely concerned with second-order inquiries.

We feel it's time to bring creative, critical, and synthetic approaches back into the fray. We believe climate change requires a rational and holistic response by scientists, scholars, and philosophers alike.

We hope that other universities can follow our lead.

Martin Schönfeld,PhD "The Mad Hun"
Philosophy FAO 248
University of South Florida
Tampa FL 33620 USA


Tuesday, April 04, 2006

be worried


Polar Caps Melting Faster Than Ever...

More And More Land Devastated By Drought...

Rising Waters Drowning Low-Lying Communities...

By Any Measure, Earth Is At The Tipping Point

by Jeffrey Kluger

Suddenly and unexpectedly, the crisis is upon us.