Friday, January 26, 2007

CO2 Past Cause or Effect?

OK so I'm still trying to get back to blogging, but here is a cool new tool I couldn't resist trying. I compiled some of the CO2 and temperature data from the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (CDIAC) Trends Studies and uploaded it to a new collaborative data visualization project called Many Eyes. From there I produced the following visualization that clearly shows the correlation between CO2 and temperature deviations over a period of 420,000 years!

In addition I produced another graph showing how we are reaching record high levels of CO2 over the same period. One bug/issue is that the line graph didn't work for the larger data set so this one was produced by taking 20 year averages.

An interesting note in working with this data that is harder to see from these graphs is that in the past, increases in temperature mainly preceded the increases in CO2. Perhaps I misinterpreted the different year scales, but it does provoke some interesting questions. If CO2 is already rising before temperatures, does that mean that worst is yet to come? For example, I did a small model of what might happen if the CO2 currently trapped in permafrost was released by thawing and it produced some startling results. In summary, the CO2 released created a feedback via increased temperatures that accelerated the release rate. A similar dynamic may be true in the melting of polar ice that reflects sunlight back into space.

Anyway, it is clear that we have some challenging problems ahead of us, but I for one believe we are on the cusp of a technology and social revolution that will finally provide us with a means to solve them or at the very least mitigate the damage.

I made some corrections to how the the data was serialized. See the data set for the visualization below for a detailed description.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Blog relaunch: Feedback Governs Dynamics

Well it is high time that I kick the dust off this blog and get back to it. It has been nearly three years and a lot has changed both in my life and in the world. I still have been pondering the ideas I started on this blog, but have been keeping them mostly to myself for some reason. Hopefully no more, because my thoughts have matured and the growing problems in the world seem to be just screaming for better answers.
I've changed the name from "Global Mind Project" to my favorite mantra: "Feedback Governs Dynamics". This statement comes from the System Dynamics community, and I’m not sure if there is a true originator, but after a friend stated it, I was taken by its simple truth. To me, feedback is the root of all change, and without it our complex world would not exist. This is different than cause and effect to me because cause and effect only flow in one direction. It is not till a chain of causes and effects close to form a loop, or feedback, that true dynamics emerge. I see this process occurring at both the most fundamental physical level and at the most complex social level.

Anyway, the reason I felt that I must change the name is because, as much as I’d like to help deliberately build the Global Mind, I believe that the only way it will come about is to form on its own just as everything else in the universe has thus far. My role is then to take part in the feedback that is governing its dynamics and to try and help strengthen the reinforcing influences.