by The Editor
More "Last" Words
The Holy Spirit
Lao-Tzu, fl. BCE 600
The Universe is a trinity made of name, form, and action. The source of all actions is the body, for it is by the body that all actions are done. The body is behind all actions, even as the Eternal is behind the body.
Upanishads, c. BCE 800
When I wrote Last Words, I felt that this website was essentially complete and I wanted to bring it to a "tidy" conclusion before advancing years enforced an abrupt termination.
Having now entered my 81st year in good health and spirits, and feeling uneasy about certain political dogmas exaggerating the importance of certain highly specialised "scientific" findings imperfectly understood but over-enthusiastically applied without due consideration of their place in a holistic global context, I feel impelled to revert to unfinished business.
I have threfore decided to add one more essay in an attempt to weld the various separate items in this compilation more tightly together under the unifying aegis of The Holy Spirit in order to emphasise the essentially holistic nature of the Universe in which we find ourselves and of which we (you and I) are inseparable components.
In the "wee" school in Applecross where I learned to read and write and do arithmetic, the curriculum also included lessons on the Christian religion for which the "text-books" were The Holy Bible and The Shorter Catechism. The latter consisted of over a hundred questions with the "correct" answers as laid down by Church authorities. Pupils were encouraged to learn all these questions and answers by heart. I was never very enthusiastic about the Catechism, but two sentences remain in my memory. I have already written about the first in
The Holistic Hypothesis
In the "wee" school in Applecross where I learned to read and write and do arithmetic, the curriculum also included lessons on the Christian religion for which the "text-books" were The Holy Bible and The Shorter Catechism. The latter consisted of over a hundred questions with the "correct" answers as laid down by Church authorities. Pupils were encouraged to learn all these questions and answers by heart.
I was never very enthusiastic about the Catechism, but two sentences remain in my memory. I have already written about the first inThe Enjoyment of God. The other states that "God is a spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable".
Conscienscious consideration of personal living experience in the lights afforded by wide reading of many authors has after many years convinced me that I need no longer concern myself with questions of religious dogma but may place complete trust in The Holy Spirit that underlies and sustains you and me as both products and components of ONE completely rational and understandable Universe governed by a living intelligent Holy Spirit.
I conceive of the modus operandi of the Holy Spirit as a self-sustaining complex of mutually balancing processes discernible as motions within motions in space proceeding as cycles within cycles in time, the spatial scales ranging from the immensely large to the unimaginably small and the time scales from the infinitely long to the unimaginably short as exemplified by the spectra of all kinds of vibrations detectable by the human consciousness.
The "life" sciences afford the most striking illustrations of this modus operandi and the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has over the years broadcast many such illustrations on both radio and television. I most strongly recommend "The Secret Life of Rock Pools" broadcast on BBC4 in April, 2013, and I hope the BBC will make it widely available on DVD at an easily affordable price.
Limited as I am to the medium of prose, I shall in this essay attempt to convey some flavour of the same modus operandi while confining myself to a topic about which I have long felt uneasy because my "faith" in The Holy Sprit is challenged by politically-inspired scare-mongering to the effect that Planet Earth is in danger of getting too hot principally because human activity is releasing too much carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
Prophets of doom predict dire consequences for life on Earth merely because they imagine that a barely detectable increase in the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will trigger unprecedented chaos in the world's weather systems.
I confess that my initial antagonism to the idea of runaway global warming arose because I could not understand why the proponents of such a strange dogma should pick upon a relatively inert gas like carbon dioxide as the villain of the plot.
As a former practising meteorologist, the only explanation I could think of was that because carbon dioxide is an inevitable consequence of burning fuel, it was supposed that the hot carbon dioxide would heat the rest of the atmosphere. But as all the other gases in the vicinity of a fire are also heated, I could not see any special role for carbon dioxide.
Having listened to a radio discussion on the subject, I sent an email to one of the participants, Chris Rapley, Professor of Climate Science at University College, London. I posed the following question:
"After listening to Material World on the BBC, I am writing to ask if you can please explain to a simple old-fashioned meteorologist why carbon dioxide (which constitutes less than 0.04 per cent of the Earth's atmosphere and has a specific heat at constant volume of 0.655 kilojoules per kilogram) is considered to be a more significant "greenhouse" gas than nitrogen (which constitutes nearly 80 per cent of the Earth's atmosphere and has a specific heat at constant volume of 0.743 kilojoules per kilogram."
I added: "A logical and persuasive answer may compel me to retract several essays in the "World Views" section of my website."
Professor Rapley very kindly replied by return:
"Nitrogen (and Oxygen) are transparent to heat radiation. Carbon dioxide, water vapour, methane and other gases such as the CFCs are not. So it is the trace gases that produce the greenhouse warming that keeps the surface of the Earth 30degC or so warmer than it would be otherwise. John Tyndall was the first to discover this in the mid C19. The apparatus he used is still on display at the Royal Institution in London. I hope this clarifies."
In a later email, the Professor added:
"Interestingly, it's all to do with the shape of the molecules. The atoms of CO2 and H2O molecules have bonds that can vibrate and rotate - and hence can interact with infrared radiation (the wavelength and bond lengths are comparable), whereas the atoms in O2 and N2 molecules bind very tightly together and do not! Hence their infrared transparency."
I am very grateful to Professor Rapley for his succinct response. In my thankful reply to him, I promised to repent and reconsider the various essays I had written in blissful ignorance of Tyndall's work. This essay is the result.
Bearing in mind that to repent is to think again, news of John Tyndall's discovery set me wondering why I had no recollection of its having been mentioned in my various encounters with physics at school, university, or during a later course in meteorology at the Royal Naval School of Meteorology and Oceanography.
So I 'Googled' "John Tyndall", and interested readers may do the same. They will be referred to a fairly comprehensive Wikipedia article which will probably tell them as much as they need to know in order to assess the significance of his work in the context of this and my other essays on "global warming".
The figures quoted in respect of the lack of transparency to infrared radiation of carbon dioxide and water vapour are indeed very high compared with those given for nitrogen and oxygen, and I have no reason to dispute Tyndall's findings. However, my repentance makes me question the validity of transferring results obtained in a very small apparatus in a physical laboratory to the context of a planetary atmosphere which is an integral part of an infinite Universe governed by The Holy Spirit.
It is regrettable that many political economists are apparently unaware that scientific experiments are esentially questions put to Nature (i.e. to The Holy Spirit) in the hope of gaining a better understanding of how some particular natural process works. All such experiments necessitate strict limitation of the environment in which the process under investigation is confined lest the results be "contaminated" by "stray" effects outwith the experimenter's control.
The skilled experimenter is therefore driven towards becoming a "specialist" in a limited field of endeavour. This has given rise to the jibe that the specialist is someone who knows more and more about less and less, and that the "deep" specialist is someone who knows everything about nothing.
I therefore invite the reader to join me in considering how the importance of Tyndall's experimental results should be assessed when placed in the context of a planetary atmosphere beyond the control of any human experimenter.
Meteorology is the science which studies the atmospheric processes which give rise to the world's weather systems and attempts to predict weather conditions likely to prevail over a defined area of the Earth's surface during a limited period in the immediate future. I shall briefly outline the main points to be borne in mind.
I, for one, am extremely grateful that the relative lack of transparency of "trace gases" to low-frequency radiation keeps the lower atmosphere (and thus myself) up to 30 degrees warmer than we might otherwise be, and I remain confident that The Holy Spirit shall continue to do a "good job" despite the wishes of politicians to bend it for their own short-sighted selfish purposes. Please refer to my essay onDomestic Cooling.
Like Water, carbon and its derivatives occur naturally (i.e.under that aegis of The Holy Spirit). Please consider the following facts which you will find stated in elementary school text-books.
Refuse to be unduly influenced in your personal behaviour by panics generated for political reasons on the basis of nothing more significant than fascination with large figures taken out of context and misinterpreted due to lack of consideration of the relevant relative scales.