Is global warming real?

Ocean view with clouds

Sunny day on the Atlantic

It doesn’t matter whether global warming is real or not.  The way I look at the atmosphere is much like a lake.  It is fairly self-sufficient on its own and short term changes are dealt with as long as things go back to normal.  But when a short term change becomes the norm the lake changes.

The example I like to use is a bit vulgar but gets the point across.  If one person defecates into the lake it isn’t a big problem.  The lake can handle the contamination and not impact the rest of the ecosystem.  When there are two, still not a problem, but when there are hundreds or even thousands of people all defecating into the lake the impact can be felt across the entire lake.  The water becomes contaminated, if not poisonous, and the species that used to rely on the lake either die or move to another lake.

What I see is the burning of fossil fuels and release of large amounts of methane into the atmosphere as the equivalent as defecating in the lake.  Whether it will cause global warming or not isn’t the problem.  We are literally poisoning the air we breath and not worrying about the future generations that will deal with our ignorance.  Just look to the large factory centers in China for an example of how bad things could be if there aren’t any meaningful regulation.

We can add natural cleaning filters by replanting forests and even look towards technological solutions for scrubbing the air.  But we can only clean so much before the system is overwhelmed.  We have to change our lives, how we make money, and how we grow our food.

As to whether I believe global warming is real or not, I do believe it is real.  I find it impossible to believe that you can pump large amounts of energy trapping gasses into the atmosphere for over a hundred years with no increase in ways to remove said gases and expect the planet not to warm.

Privacy?

There has been a lot of talk about adding backdoors to electronics and secured communications lately.  Politicians and intelligence officials say it is the only way to gaurantee we can thwart terrorist attacks.  It has gotten to the point where governments are looking to force companies into designing weaknesses in their products.  The BBC has a couple of nice writeups; Paris attacks:  Silicon Valley in the crosshairs over encryption and Can the government ban encryption.

Now don’t be mistaken, I realize this isn’t an easy issue to deal with.  On one hand you don’t want child pornographers, terrorists, or human traffickers to have the ability to hide their digital tracks.  There should be a way to lawfully get access to the evidence.  If all commercial encryption had backdoors then there wouldn’t be any problems.  Get a warrant, request the data through the backdoor, and voila, all secrets are exposed.  But how do you guarantee privacy online when all secrets can be exposed?

Some people will say this is fine.  They have nothing to hide so they aren’t worried about the police or government having access to their digital life.  But the issue isn’t having nothing to hide, it is having the ability to keep your personal life private.  Moxie Marlinspike has a great article on Wired.com from 2013 that goes over this exact concept.

This route also has another problem.  It assumes that the criminals will knowingly use products that have this insecurity.  Why wouldn’t they just use a known secure security algorithm like public key encryption to keep their information private?  They could easily use standard communication applications like SMS or email and still encrypt the message before it is sent.  The algorithm is simple to implement, anyone with a high school diploma and some basic coding skills can impement it in a matter of a few hours.

So what does this leave us with?  How can we thwart criminal activities?  Human intel still works.  Creating custom malware and viruses to install on their electronics has been a proven method.  Realize, once a freedom is lost it is hard to get back; as each piece of privacy is taken we get closer to 1984.