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Australian Federal Election

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It appears that the Australian Labor Party has won office.

For those not in the know, The ALP is sort of like the US Democrats.

The Liberal Party (US Republicans) will no longer be able to push its pro-Bush agenda.

The Australian people will however, I feel certain, continue with our close relationship with our American friends.

More news at 11. :wink:

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Rudd has named global warming as his top priority, and his signing of the Kyoto Protocol will leave the U.S. as the only industrialized country not to have joined it.

Don't I wish that were true. Canada, shamefully, has waffled unbearably on this and is in that same house of shame.

"I accept full responsibility for the Liberal Party campaign, and I therefore accept full responsibility for the coalition's defeat in this election campaign," Howard said in his concession speech in Sydney.

Well, that certainly sums up his sense of things. Nothing he has done or not done over the years could possibly have had an affect on voters; it's only the campaign that counts. Geesh!

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One of the Labor campaign promises was to modify 58 federal laws that discriminate against same-sex couples. However, before anyone celebrates I've been having a close look at the situation in the federal senate and the Labor party may have trouble getting the legislation through.

Currently (and until 1st July next year), the now opposition Liberal/National coalition has a majority in the senate. The new senators take their seats on 1st July but current predictions still have the coalition with one seat short of 50% of the senate (only half the senate was up for re-election). Since a majority is required to pass legislation, they only need one other senator (such as the conservative Family First senator) to block the passing of any bills. The Labor party will also have to negotiate with the Greens and independent senators (though the Greens are in favour of this change, so that part shouldn't be difficult).

In Australian politics, unlike the USA, the members of parliament almost always vote according to the party line. It is a rare and newsworthy event when someone votes against what their party has said they should do. This means that any contentious legislation will have to get the acceptance of the Family First senator (who is against any recognition of same-sex couples), the Greens (who are in favour) and the independents OR get some Liberal/National senators to "cross the floor" and vote against their own party's position.

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Whilst I am pleased to see the Liberal party losing the election, I am not at all certain that Labor will keep its promise to modify the 58 federal laws that discriminate on equality for same sex relationships, anytime soon. This is especially so because there are a number of Labor members in both the senate and the house of Representatives who appear, shall I say, to not be sympathetic to those changes. (I am being polite.) :wink:

In general I think the best hope we have is that after the new senate is formed next July (2008), if the Greens Party hold the balance of power in the senate, they could be in a position to force the presentation of a bill to effect the changes so needed. I won't hold my breath though on the bill's survival.

I sense a tide flowing against the liberation of same sex orientated people everywhere. Make no mistake there is still a lot of work to do before discrimination is overcome. I believe there are still far too many gays and lesbians who are not fully appreciative of the need for universal equal rights.

For the moment I will just be pleased that the Liberal Party is no longer in power. :lol:

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There's another ray of hope. Peter Costello (the Liberal Treasurer and heir-apparent to John Howard, the former Prime Minister) has announced he won't be standing to be the new Liberal leader. That means it is likely to be between Malcolm Turnbull and Alexander Downer. Malcolm Turnbull was one of the leading Liberals who, before the election, tried to convince the Prime Minister to approve the changes to those 58 laws. If he becomes the Liberal leader, then the legislation is more likely to have an easy passage through the senate.

Unfortunately, it's unlikely that the Greens will hold the balance of power in the senate. It's possible, but not likely. It is more likely that if the Liberal party wants to block legislation, they will only need one vote from the independents or minor parties to do so.

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Rudd has named global warming as his top priority, and his signing of the Kyoto Protocol will leave the U.S. as the only industrialized country not to have joined it.

Don't I wish that were true. Canada, shamefully, has waffled unbearably on this and is in that same house of shame.

Well, that certainly sums up his sense of things. Nothing he has done or not done over the years could possibly have had an affect on voters; it's only the campaign

Arrrgh!! Man-made global warming is nothing more than a politically fueled hoax! There is no scientist who can say with 100% certainty that the rising levels of CO2 can be directly linked to increase in global atmospheric pressure. Anyone who does agree only does so to recieve government subsidation. I refuse to believe anything spoken from a man who once claimed to have "created" the internet. Global mean surface temperatures have only risen 1* in the past half century, yet this has been blamed for everything from Hurricane Katrina to the melting of the polar ice caps.

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here is no scientist who can say with 100% certainty that the rising levels of CO2 can be directly linked to increase in global atmospheric pressure.

No reputable scientist will say anything with 100% certainty. There is always some doubt. The issue is whether there is reasonable doubt.

As the Intelligent Design advocates state, evolution is only a theory. They are correct, but then Isaac Newton's Theory of Gravity is also only a theory -- but we operate on the basis that it is fact. Indeed, it is possible that Isaac Newton's theory is wrong in detail (eg. Einstein postulates gravity as being a space-time distortion, rather than a force of attraction) but the end result is still the same -- the empirical observation is that objects are attracted to each other based on their mass and distance apart.

If, on the basis of probability, climate change as a result of human activity? I honestly don't know enough to be sure, but the options are easy. I can treat the answer as 'No' and do nothing, and if I'm wrong the planet is likely to suffer serious damage. If I treat the answer as 'Yes' and I'm wrong, then I've wasted some effort and money, but otherwise there is no change. A simple risk/benefit analysis shows it makes sense to treat the potential danger as serious, rather than spending excessive effort trying to 'prove' the case.

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No reputable scientist will say anything with 100% certainty. There is always some doubt. The issue is whether there is reasonable doubt.

As the Intelligent Design advocates state, evolution is only a theory. They are correct, but then Isaac Newton's Theory of Gravity is also only a theory -- but we operate on the basis that it is fact. Indeed, it is possible that Isaac Newton's theory is wrong in detail (eg. Einstein postulates gravity as being a space-time distortion, rather than a force of attraction) but the end result is still the same -- the empirical observation is that objects are attracted to each other based on their mass and distance apart.

For me it is important to state that a theory does not have to be accurate for it to be usable for limited purposes of demonstrating consistent behaviour. Repeatable demonstration is the foundation of scientific investigation along with that of the scientific method, that you do not claim or assume what cannot be verified. That is the rule that so called Intelligent Design ignores in my opinion.

If, on the basis of probability, climate change as a result of human activity? I honestly don't know enough to be sure, but the options are easy. I can treat the answer as 'No' and do nothing, and if I'm wrong the planet is likely to suffer serious damage. If I treat the answer as 'Yes' and I'm wrong, then I've wasted some effort and money, but otherwise there is no change. A simple risk/benefit analysis shows it makes sense to treat the potential danger as serious, rather than spending excessive effort trying to 'prove' the case.

Graeme that is the most sensible attitude I have seen in the, "What do we do about the Global Warming?" conundrum. I have seen both the pro and con contentions put forward with substantial, if not totally verifiable, scientific references and I am damned if I can reconcile the differences in their arguments.

It also strikes me as opportune to point out that admitting we do not know the answer is not a sign of ignorance or weakness in the arguments or our own abilities in making a decision on the matter. Indeed true scientific investigation begins with admitting we do not know and then postulate theories to explain the phenomena we observe.

On the other hand the Earth's resources are obviously finite and many are not renewable, so it makes good sense to err on the side of caution and conservation and as you say treat the situation as serious.

I have just read one academic's statement that here in South Australia, if there are no substantial rainfalls next year we will run out of water by the middle of the year and be reduced to buying bottled drinking water. :wink:

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The problem is that The Kyoto Protocol would have little, if any, impact on global warming even if you believe in AGW. The only impact that I can see it having is as a way to punish the U. S. economically, along with the rest of the western industrial economies. Oh it sounds great, but even its supporters admit that the growing economies of China, India, and other developing countries will pump more of the so-called "greenhouse gases" into the atmosphere than will be eliminated by the industrial nations following and meeting its goals. So if you believe in AWG, Kyoto doesn't come close to helping solve the problem. In fact, I would argue that Kyoto is a detriment in that adopting it accomplishes little and leaves people feeling that they have done their part to halt global warming. If you believe in AWG and really wish to do something about it, you need to come up with something a lot better than Kyoto, something that controls all the countries of the world and not just the highly industrialized ones.

As for myself, I'm still not convinced that man has much to do with global warming. Understand, I'm not saying we don't, only that I'm not convinced that we do. The earth has gone through many cycles of warming and cooling long before man was alive, so obviously there are cycles and man did not affect them in times past because he didn't exist. I will also say that it does nothing to convince me when many of those who support the concept are unwilling to debate their findings and instead resort to saying it is settled science. That statement is far from the truth and there are many atmospheric scientists who don't believe in Anthropological Global Warming. I also notice that many of those supporting the concept are not atmospheric scientists and instead are scientists from other fields. Now it may very well turn out that man is part of the problem, but at the present stage of research I don't think anyone can say with reasonable certainty. We simply don't know enough. Also, CO2 has a minuscule effect and so to blame it on CO2 is silly when methane or water vapor have a far greater effect. I could also point out that space measurements don't show the warming that land measurements do, and that those land measurements only show warming in the northern hemisphere which leads to the question of why that is true. Hint, the answer to that likely has something to do with the changes in landscape, ie, such things as cities raise the temperature for the surrounding area and any measurements taken close to them. There are too many unanswered question for me to believe in AWG at this time.

It is fine to say that so what, even if we are wrong it is safer to try to do something than not. That shows little understanding of the costs involved. I suggest reading Bjorn Lomborg's "Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming," for a take on how we should view warming and how we might best spend money to benefit society as a whole.

Finally, remember we have been warming up for the last ten thousand years and there were not many people with cars and factories to start it way back then. It was about as warm or warmer back in 1100 A.D. before the Little Ice Age, and Greenland supported farming at that time. While I am not convinced of AWG, I do think it needs to be studied. However, I don't see any need to jump off the cliff until the science is much better on the subject. So far none of the models used by the doom and gloom crowd can account for what we know happened in the past, so to believe them is a real stretch. It is a very complex subject that is just now being explored. I don't think waiting ten to twenty years or so for a better understanding will make things that much worse, and may very well allow us to make far better decisions as to what , if anything, needs to be done.

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It's tempting to weigh into this discussion, but from what I've read so far, I think it would be pointless. Some will not be convinced one way, and others will not be convinced the other way. In a way, it's much like discussing religion: there is more of a belief system in place than proven actuality.

The catch is, there is literally no way to prove this from within. We, as a planet, can continue on as is, living with the results of whatever is taking place, or we can try to change what is taking place albeit without full, or possibly even partial, understanding of what actually IS taking place, or we can try to change the results of the things that are taking place.

Some places are taking this latter action, like the Netherlands, in trying to anticipate higher water levels and storm surges and raising their dikes. Some places are taking the second option, and trying to change the process, however incompletely they understand it with the Kyoto Accord. The vast majority of countries and people and corporations are taking the first option, to simply wait and see, and hope for the best. That is certainly the least difficult, the least expensive in the short term, and the best for anyone who lives for the moment.

I think it is a symptom of the long and painful Cold War. A whole generation, and more, grew up with the threat of nuclear annihilation. Doom and gloom shadowed our lives. We didn't plan for anything, because we were going to die soon anyway. Our houses, our factories, our landfills, our complete infrastructure was built without any thought of it needing to last. And then what happened? All the doom and gloom scenarios didn't occur. Well shit. Our whole perspective has been so skewed that now we cannot accept anything but the immediate needs as being valid, and worse, we now believe that doom and gloom scenarios are inherently false scenarios.

So here we are: short sighted, disbelieving in long term, and our world crumbling around us. Have you noticed who are the ones pushing for change? Who are the ones out there trying to make things better? It is the young. It is the generation which hasn't been affected by that Cold War doom effect.

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Trab, I think you are right it has become almost a belief system. While Fritz makes very sound references to the pros and cons put forward by both sides I am unable to deduce which if any of these things are relevant let alone supportive of a determining view.

So it becomes increasingly impossible to take sides and argue either case as both sides have the weight of seemingly substantial amounts of research, facts and data.

When such a quantity of opposing information is at hand the only reasonable answers are inconclusive even though that is quite unsatisfactory.

The path of least resistance here is not to take one side or the other in debate, but to act in a reasonable manner as I suggest is Graeme's approach, until such time as there is a clearer qualification of data and facts that are indicative of enabling an appropriate response.

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I am in no way for the blatant abuse of our obviously finite resources, but I cannot stand the whole politically fueled panic of "Global Warming". I agree that changes should be made, though, but not at such drastic rates that we will hurt ourselves in the long run. I'd love to see a switch from gasoline to man-made ethanol and methanol, or at least a high blend (I.E. E85), but I'm not about to adandon my combustion engine for an electric one. I think we need more research with substantial results before any decision to be made.

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I am in no way for the blatant abuse of our obviously finite resources, but I cannot stand the whole politically fueled panic of "Global Warming". I agree that changes should be made, though, but not at such drastic rates that we will hurt ourselves in the long run. I'd love to see a switch from gasoline to man-made ethanol and methanol, or at least a high blend (I.E. E85), but I'm not about to adandon my combustion engine for an electric one. I think we need more research with substantial results before any decision to be made.

That seems reasonable to me Insomniac. I couldn't afford the purchase price of a new car of any kind.

While waiting for more research though, I can do a few things which will conserve resources, switch off the lights in the house where I am not using them, make sure I only use the washing machine with full loads, wear extra clothing instead of turning up the heat (unless we're having an orgy, of course), as well other little things. My neighbour empties her bath water onto the garden. We don't wash the car, but just wipe it over.

Everyone will have different priorities in these matters. Conservation can be effective while we wait for someone to work out what the heck is going on, or down.

Now do I switch the computer off and not?

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You guys seem to be walking directly down the middle on this. Okay, I'll take a stand. A definitive stand.

I think there's something to worry about with Global Warming. (There. I capitalized it. It therefore MUST be a problem.<g>)

I think it's real. From what I've read, there are certainly arguments on both sides of the issue, with eminent scientists weighing in for and against. But the proponderance of opinion seems to fall on the side of the issue claiming it's real. Both sides have managed to politicize the issue, which of course obfuscates it. It would be easier to get at facts without that, but it's what we have.

I attended a conference at Cal Tech recently where the matter was discussed. The people who work and teach there are far smarter and better informed on this than I am. They discussed the arguments on both sids of the issue, and it was debated by panelists in front of the audience and they took comments from the audience and discussed them as well.

I left the conference with the feeling that there are a lot of questions still to be answered, but that a lot of very smart people are very concerned that this is a very real phenomenon. I went into the session feeling it was a lot of poppycock. I left thinking I should change my opinion.

One thing that was suggested is that all nations should stop burning so much oil. If this would done, it would certainly hurt developing and developed nations disproportionately. But I think it's an obvious direction to be walking in.

I don't think the world is ready for us to run that way. Not quite yet.

Cole

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In a way, the Global Warming discussions reminds me a bit about sexual orientation discussions. If it is NOT a choice, we should have equal rights, but if it IS a choice, then we should just change to get our rights. Nobody has absolutely 100% positively proven orientation to be nature or nurture, genetic or situational, so should we not have any rights until this is proven? I think not.

Also, I read somewhere that Global Warming, as a name, is causing more misunderstanding of the issue than benefiting it. It's not so much that we see higher temperatures, but that the overall energy is greater, which leads to stronger storms, longer droughts, longer monsoons, etc. More aggressive weather is only the first of the dangers.

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hmm...

also i would like to add:

Kevin Rudd (Quoted from wiki):

On the issue of same-sex marriage, Kevin Rudd is firmly opposed:

"I have a pretty basic view on this, as reflected in the position adopted by our party, and that is, that marriage is between a man and a woman."

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I hope everyone noticed that I specified AGW and not just GW. I have no problem believing that the planet is warming some, and I also believe that it is only smart to do some of the things suggested as they make sense economically. For example, I switched to fluorescent bulbs because they use less energy, and I also stop and think before just jumping in my car and taking off. I pay more attention to tire pressure because that improves mileage, and there are lots of other things I think people would be better off doing simply because it makes sense to do so.

My problem is that things like Kyoto or methanol are no longer debated as scientific matters, but as political matters. We have various politicians advocating turning corn into fuel as though that would solve the oil problem and help because methanol burns cleaner, but they neglect to mention the amount of farmland it would take to make a dent in the needed fuel supply. Hint, it would require about three quarters of our available farmland to grow enough corn to replace our current oil imports and I don't know what we would eat if that took place. Or as I mentioned earlier, the Kyoto Protocol would make the cost of producing goods in the developed world much more expensive and so the production would simply move to the undeveloped world where there are no such controls and actually make things worse because of the many pollution controls now in place in the developed world. Sure, you could set up tariffs to stop that, but I would point to the results of the last tariff war. Again a hint, think the depression of the thirties followed by WW 2.

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I hope everyone noticed that I specified AGW and not just GW. I have no problem believing that the planet is warming some, and I also believe that it is only smart to do some of the things suggested as they make sense economically. For example, I switched to fluorescent bulbs because they use less energy, and I also stop and think before just jumping in my car and taking off. I pay more attention to tire pressure because that improves mileage, and there are lots of other things that I do and I think people would be better off doing simply because it makes sense to do so.

My problem is that things like Kyoto and ethanol are no longer debated as scientific matters, but as political matters. We have various politicians advocating turning corn into fuel as though that would solve the oil problem and help because ethanol burns cleaner, but they neglect to mention the amount of farmland it would take to make a dent in the needed fuel supply. Hint, it would require about three quarters of our available farmland to grow enough corn to replace our current oil imports and I don't know what we would eat if that took place. Or as I mentioned earlier, the Kyoto Protocol would make the cost of producing goods in the developed world much more expensive and so the likely result would be that the production would simply move to the undeveloped world where there are no such controls and actually make things worse because of the many pollution controls now in place in much of the developed world. Sure, you could set up tariffs to stop that, but I would point to the results of the last major tariff war brought about by the passage of Smoot-Hawley. Again a hint, think the depression of the thirties followed by WW 2. Remember that countries caught in a severe economic squeeze don't always act in a rational manner. Also remember that Hitler came to power not to conquer the world, but rather to improve Germany's economic conditions in the aftermath of WW 1.

So with that in mind, I think that spending a little more time in order to get a better grasp of what is needed and what can be done about it makes more sense than to rush blindly in and make changes which might not be necessary and could well be injurious to the economic health of many nations. Also remember that when the gloom and doomers first started, the oceans were going to rise 300 feet. Since that is pretty much impossible, they lowered it to thirty feet, then twenty feet, and the latest is one to five feet with all that downward revision taking place over about fifteen years. It may turn out that we need to make drastic revisions in our lifestyles and energy use, but then it may turn out that much smaller changes will be needed. At the present time I simply don't know and remain unconvinced that the anthropological part is as big as some think it is, although it may turn out to be so. However, many of the solutions being talked about appear to me to be very poorly thought out and in some cases exactly the opposite of what needs to be done. Such things as turning corn into ethanol and Kyoto appear to be examples of very poor thinking and reasoning.

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I am in no way for the blatant abuse of our obviously finite resources, but I cannot stand the whole politically fueled panic of "Global Warming". I agree that changes should be made, though, but not at such drastic rates that we will hurt ourselves in the long run. I'd love to see a switch from gasoline to man-made ethanol and methanol, or at least a high blend (I.E. E85), but I'm not about to adandon my combustion engine for an electric one. I think we need more research with substantial results before any decision to be made.

To replace 100% of oil consumption used to manufacture gasoline in the U.S. would require that 65% of all current cropland in the U.S. be converted to the production of corn or bunch grass dedicated to ethanol production. Assuming that only 85% ethanol was used in gasohol blending, that's still 55% of all current cropland that would have to be converted and dedicated for this purpose. There isn't enough arable land that can be added for this production, nor would there be enough water to provide the needed irrigation. This concept is impractical. It would create food shortages, both vegetation used for human food and that used for animal feed. The cost of ethanol produced from corn or bunch grass or any other crops that will grow in the U.S. has been calculated, and is estimated to be significantly higher than oil at a cost of $350/barrel.

Electric vehicles, based on proposed future technologies, will also be much more costly on a energy-unit basis than either gasoline or ethanol.

Colin :wink:

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"Electric vehicles, based on proposed future technologies, will also be much more costly on a energy-unit basis than either gasoline or ethanol."

While this may be true, and I don't know either way, if those figures are correct, it ignores the eventual loss of all oil as part of the 'equation'. That is a dangerous omission, as the price of the oil will rise till ultimate depletion.

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To replace 100% of oil consumption used to manufacture gasoline in the U.S. would require that 65% of all current cropland in the U.S. be converted to the production of corn or bunch grass dedicated to ethanol production. Assuming that only 85% ethanol was used in gasohol blending, that's still 55% of all current cropland that would have to be converted and dedicated for this purpose. There isn't enough arable land that can be added for this production, nor would there be enough water to provide the needed irrigation. This concept is impractical. It would create food shortages, both vegetation used for human food and that used for animal feed. The cost of ethanol produced from corn or bunch grass or any other crops that will grow in the U.S. has been calculated, and is estimated to be significantly higher than oil at a cost of $350/barrel.

Electric vehicles, based on proposed future technologies, will also be much more costly on a energy-unit basis than either gasoline or ethanol.

Colin :mad:

You cannot compare ethanol to a barrel of oil as a barrel of oil yeilds many more products than just gasoline. Ethanol cannot give us propane, diesel, etc. Also, what is the current percentage of cropland that we export to other countries? What is the percentage that we import? I really doubt that with America's large importing/exporting economy that we would have any type of shortage. Though, we would merely be going from one dependant import to another.

It is obvious that there is no quick and easy solution here, although lobyists and lawmakes would like us to believe otherwise.

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To extend the debate a little further, we can imagine that eventual depletion of oil as well as the threats to the environment, whatever they prove to be, will generate a push towards the globalisation of the computer networks for all cultures. This would mean an increasingly large majority of the workforce would not need to go to work; they could work from their homes. Alternatively workers could be forced to live in rooms provided at the work-place. I believe this is already happening in some countries.

If people all over the world can work and be entertained at home or in the work-place, via those networks, then travel will be minimised to essential services and to the various necessary practical physical operations of business and industry. These would increasingly be done by robots as they become developed.

Reliance on fossil fuels for travel will be minimised. That will leave us with the problem of solving the need for energy to cook, wash, heat and cool as well as electricity to run the computer network.

Would the net outcome be more friendly to the environment? With restrictions we might say, probably.

I do not think that this is well thought out at present if at all. The ramifications of such thinking are scary and potentially dangerous for the masses, societies in general, as well as for humanity. Yet there does seem to be some movement in this direction even if it is not yet planned as an objective in itself.

The danger comes from private corporations running the networks outside the governance of the democratically elected representatives of the various countries on the planet.

Manipulation of governments for political purposes also cannot be ruled out through the above scenarios.

We should perhaps remember that with every advance in technology a megalomaniac has arisen to conquer the world.

What Alexander, Caesar, War-lord, Khan, Napoleon or Hitler could ignore the control that the computer might provide for world domination under their command?

These and other interesting questions will be answered in the future, but the preservation of the environment may well be an early reason given for our submission to a less than human existence.

At the moment these thoughts scare the crap out of me far more than Orwell's predictions of 1984 which by the way have become effective in ways he could not have imagined.

Just thinking aloud. I am not playing Nostradamus here. :icon11: Pleasant dreams all. :mad:

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