Geostorm Movie Review

Posted in Algae by Robert Tulip on the October 25th, 2017

In watching an action fantasy world apocalypse movie like Geostorm, a temptation for the cynical can be to just see the surface appearance. First a village mysteriously freezes solid in an instant in Afghanistan, then the streets of Hong Kong erupt in flaming explosions sending skyscrapers collapsing like dominoes while a driver miraculously escapes through the rippling volcanic chasms opening around him. And next the bikini babes on Copacabana turn to blocks of ice as a super cold front somehow pushes a tsunami onto the Rio beachfront.
The cause of the disasters is problems with geoengineering satellites deployed in 2019. But is this just a programming malfunction? If not, who are the baddies who have sabotaged the world weather management system run by the USA? Why and how did they do it, and how can they be stopped? Who is the rogue on board the geoengineering space station? Will the clock that he started tick down to zero, causing a geostorm, a fiery end to life on earth? Will the US President die in the robot car chase through massive lightning bolts hitting every second? Will the hero return from exile, and will he survive on the space station? Will his brother get the girl? Which city is next?
Such plot details are classic Hollywood formula. This movie combines amazing disaster scenes, excellent visuals and production, a strong simple plot, a vivid range of characters and great acting into a gripping thriller. Geostorm is full of tension and drama and surprise and new ideas down to the wire. It is a worthy popular successor to Independence Day and Godzilla, which were both also produced by the Geostorm producer/director Dean Devlin.
Geostorm deserves to be a smash hit for a serious reason though. This movie makes an important and well considered contribution to advancing policy debate on response to climate change. The question raised at the start is how to address the threat that global warming could destroy the world economy. This explicitly raises the need for urgent concerted technological response to avert catastrophe, since previous methods focused on emission reduction have failed.
The movie deliberately chooses an impossible geoengineering technology, aiming to blend the topical ideas of weather management and space travel to create a science fiction fantasy. But the parable is equally applicable to realistic geoengineering proposals, ranging from solar radiation management to large scale ocean based algae production for carbon mining. Any large scale climate intervention needs proper risk management if it is to help forestall the impending climate impacts.
In a nod to human corruption, the plot raises the risk of weaponizing a peaceful technology, evoking the failed military Star Wars Initiative idea of death from the skies. And recognising human fallibility, Geostorm asks if this magical system installed by technological geniuses at the last minute will become like Goethe’s Sorcerer’s Apprentice, producing uncontrollable and unforeseen damage.
The movie explores the real risk of whether a technological fix to mitigate extreme weather could be built too quickly under political imperatives. The need to respond to weather events that destroy whole cities could mean decisions will be made by politicians who will not take on board the best information. The rapid deployment then opens the unsettling policy risks of how such a system could be corrupted and misused for political motives, how it could sideline the high ideals of global scientific cooperation in favour of national or commercial interests. And then, with the process already compromised, could the resulting security gaps, political appointments and weak governance systems risk manipulation by criminals who don’t have a clue about the science of what they are doing, and who lack concern about the scale of damage they might cause?
The need for geoengineering means these issues should already be big questions in world politics today. Unfortunately they are not, because the dominant attitude is that if we ignore or deny climate change or only accept unworkable responses the problem will go away. With CO2 level continuing to grow apace, the risk is that far from going away, the problems will go awry.
Emission reduction alone cannot hold temperature rise this century below four degrees Celsius, so technological fixes are essential. Putting on an alarmist hat, it seems possible that failure to deploy geoengineering could even make the current sixth world extinction event rival the mass death that ended the Permian Age 252 million years ago. That seems to be the partly unconscious apocalyptic worry driving popular interest in movies like Geostorm.
Geoengineering is absolutely necessary and urgent for climate stability. We need world leaders to take up the ideas implied by this movie, through large scale funding of lab and field trials looking to select and deploy systems that will stabilise and repair the climate as a primary global security concern.
A bunch of reviews are at https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/geostorm/, but as you might expect from the usual foolish cynics writing in popular media, they have no eye for the meaning of this movie. They wrongly see it only through a surface movie industry lens without caring about its meaning and purpose for core ethical problems facing humanity. Geostorm raises major existential concerns of our age in an accessible popular way. It should be celebrated and debated as a major event. Geostorm could help achieve the political tipping point we need to deploy geoengineering systems with sound governance, reversing the current path towards mass extinction and economic and social displacement and collapse in favour of practical methods to stabilise the global climate.
Robert Tulip

Book Review: The Case Against Sugar

Posted in health by Robert Tulip on the October 5th, 2017

The Case Against Sugar by Gary Taubes

Here is my review, posted at Amazon. (link)

This book tells the tale of the scientific paradigm shift from blaming fat to blaming sugar as the main cause of disease. The noncommunicable lifestyle illnesses of modern sedentary society include diabetes, cancer, heart attack, hypertension, tooth decay, obesity, gout and senility. Sugar is the main culprit for the epidemic explosion of these conditions in recent years. The science behind this discovery, and the social failure to see and address it, is laid out by Gary Taubes in forensic detail. It is a story of grand corruption and stupidity, both moral and political. The sugar industry, hand in glove with its close partner the tobacco industry, has systematically deceived and suborned public health in its pursuit of filthy lucre, at massive avoidable cost in health expenditure and quality of life.

Starting with the key role of sugar in slavery, Taubes explains how the depravity continued with the key role of sugar in making cigarettes so pleasant and addictive by enabling easy inhalation of their smoke. Gross conflict of interest was then allowed by government, allowing so-called scientists paid by the sugar industry to systematically deny and conceal the ghastly and obvious criminal role of sugar in driving avoidable suffering. Like drug pushers, the sugar industry has tried to hook its addicts when young, for example with the lying portrayal of breakfast cereals as health foods, while concealing the scale and effect and coordination of its assault on our health.

The toxic cocktail of Coca-Cola and cigarettes given to American servicemen in World War Two was one example of Big Sugar’s cynical marketing exercise that destroyed health while repaying the advertising investment many times. The marketing of high sugar foods as “healthy” should be a criminal offence. Its continued occurrence shows how badly our politics are corrupted by money and stupidity.

For decades, sugar pushers promoted the baseless false claim that dietary fat is the main cause of bad health, a message enabled by direct conflict of interest for sugar industry employees making decisions on public policy. Without the sugar industry corrupting the research, the false theory that eating saturated fat is bad would have been destroyed long ago. Like the astoundingly impudent attack by the sugar industry on artificial sweeteners, Big Sugar’s war on fat has been a Big Lie. They have successfully displaced sugar’s own cancerous effects, seen in how insulin causes metabolic syndrome, onto innocent products such as saccharine and cyclamate.

As Taubes well explains, sugar and fat are digested very differently, meaning sugar causes diabetes and other noncommunicable conditions while dietary fat does not. The sugar industry has exploited the comfort food factor of its sweet poison, keying into our instinctive desires, while purveying the false but seductive psychological message that eating fat makes you fat. This whole dietary nutrition paradigm of fat restriction is wrong, and has been completely overturned in recent years.

As with other scientific paradigm shifts, those who have vested interests in the old false theory will not give up without a fight, and will remain in denial. [i]The Case Against Sugar[/i] is a brilliant summation of the urgent need for dietary change, in the face of the concerted industrial assault that Big Sugar has waged on human health, and the great difficulty of removing its damage.

We can only hope that the information here leads to immediate policy changes of the same type that have been applied to tobacco. Governments should ban companies from advertising sugar products as healthy. They should increase tax on sugar, place health warnings on poisonous sugar drinks, and stop so-called health bodies from promoting sugar. More generally, the public must be informed that the fleeting pleasure of sweetness, especially in sugary drinks, comes at immense price to our health, happiness and prosperity.

Lecture on Aion by Carl Jung

Posted in Theology by Robert Tulip on the October 4th, 2017

Link to text R Tulip Lecture to the Canberra Jung Society on the book Aion by Carl Jung 5 May 2017

Opening Paragraphs

Aion – Toward a Gnostic Reformation
Robert Tulip
Canberra Jung Society, 5 May 2017
In his book Aion – Researches into the Phenomenology of the Self, Carl Jung analysed archetypes of the collective unconscious against the identity of Jesus Christ as a model of psychological wholeness, providing ideas about cultural transformation into a New Age. Building upon Christian traditions, Jung reinterpreted the Christ story through astronomy, examining how images of Jesus provide symbolic reflection of slow changes in the visible stars, with a focus on the archetype of the fish. Jung applied the old hermetic idea from the Lord’s Prayer, ‘on earth as in heaven’, to explore how Jesus symbolises eternal truths, aiming to develop a scientific psychology of religion rather than accepting any claims from traditional dogma. My reading of Aion is that Jung’s symbolic cosmology presents a pathway to a Gnostic Reformation of Christianity, pointing to a paradigm shift that uses knowledge to reconcile religion with logic and evidence. Aion investigates a radically different interpretation of Christian historical origins as primarily Gnostic and cosmological.
An archetype is a pattern with strong symbolic meaning in human life. Archetypes can include common patterns of character, action, situation and art. The universal symbols emerging in archetypes are not generally understood, and can exercise social power through popular resonance in concealed unconscious ways. In Aion, Jung applied methods of analytical psychology to uncover hidden meanings in powerful collective symbols of Christian religion, aiming to bring unconscious spiritual tendencies and energies out of the irrational realms of mythology and into conscious awareness. As an exercise in the philosophy of culture, Jung studied how widely shared experiences manifest in enduring rich archetypal forms of expression.
Aion explored “the myths that underlie Christianity and the whole of mythology as the expression of a universal disposition in humanity”. Jung saw symbolic archetypes of Christian faith, such as the Christian fish, the snake, the cross and the stone, as “complex thought-forms which [are] unconscious organizers of our ideas.” For Jung, archetypes and the collective unconscious come together in the person of Jesus Christ as “an ever-present archetype of wholeness”. As he explained in the Foreword, “the archetypal image of wholeness, which appears so frequently in the products of the unconscious, has forerunners identified very early with the figure of Christ.”

Discussion and further links https://www.booktalk.org/post162590.html