Is Climate Change Ever Good?

The cumulative effects of human actions over past centuries such as widespread deforestation and the abundant use of fossil fuels has caused changes in the present climate state that would otherwise not have occurred. This trend of an increase in the global average temperature shows no evidence of slowing into the future, which suggests that uncomfortable climate change will persist in the centuries to come. Most of the problematic aspects of climate change involve its negative impact on humans. This includes shifts in farmable regions of the world, destabilization of parts of the world due to fluctuating food prices, changes in flooding and drought patterns, and forced migration due to sea level rise.

A warming planet might pose problems for humans, but how would climate change affect the welfare of other species on Earth? In a recent paper titled “Is climate change morally good from non-anthropocentric perspectives?” and published in Ethics, Policy and Environment, Toby Svoboda and I examine the impact of climate change on non-human organisms. If we temporarily set aside the interests of humans, might it be possible that climate change provides net benefits to other organisms?

The context of this study is the belief by some people in “nonanthropocentrism” or “anti-humanism” as a philosophy. Such beliefs tend to place human interests beneath those of other organisms in Earth’s community of life. If such philosophical positions are accepted at face value, then this might suggest that climate change is in fact a good thing. Climate change might cause the decline of civilization and even a reduction in biodiversity, but it might allow other organisms to flourish as a result. The net effect could be a much more thriving planet, albeit one in which humans are worse off.

This is not to say that we should ignore the effects of climate change on humans. Instead, this analysis demonstrates that nonanthropocentrism and anti-humanism may be in conflict with modern attempts at mitigating climate change. Our analysis therefore challenges adherents of nonanthropocentric ethics to examine the extent to which non-human interests should take priority over the collective interests of human civilization.

Exomoon Atmospheres

As astronomers continue to search for potentially habitable planets orbiting other stars, some have also started to consider the possibility of habitable moons orbiting giant planets in such systems. Such exomoons could be the size of Mars, Earth, or even a few times larger, based on observations of similar large moons orbiting Jupiter and Saturn. A few scientific studies have demonstrated that exomoons should be expected in other planetary systems and could even be observable with the next generation of space telescopes.

I recently published a paper with RenĂ© Heller in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society titled “Exploring exomoon atmospheres with an idealized general circulation model.” This study presents the first three-dimensional climate modeling of exomoon atmospheres. Exomoon atmospheres receive daily instellation from the host star of the planetary system, which would make them similar in climate to an Earth-like planet. But exomoons are also in synchronous rotation with the host giant planet (similar to the synchronous rotation of our moon around Earth). Exomoons therefore receive additional thermal energy at the top of their atmospheres from their host planet, in addition to the star. This configuration leads to a climate with warmer poles (a phenomenon known as “polar amplification”) and stronger dynamical energy transport.

Some exomoons atmospheres could enter a runaway greenhouse from the additional thermal energy of the host planet, but others should be able to maintain stable and potentially habitable atmospheres. Exomoons remain viable prospects in the search for life, and future astronomical surveys will gradually reveal the frequency of such worlds.

Now Curating Games on Steam

If you fancy yourself a gamer, then follow along with my reviews on Steam. As a lifelong video game enthusiast with roots in the NES era, I’ve enjoyed immersing myself in the vibrant community of modern indie gaming.

My reviews only feature games playable through Linux with full controller support. I focus primarily on games from small and independent developers in the role playing game, point-and-click, action-adventure, and puzzle-platformer genres. And with a bit of aesthetic discourse added into the mix, we get my aptly-named steam curator: Linux Gaming Philosophy.

Mysterytrain 2018 Schedule

We’re enjoying festival season this summer with plenty more to come in the fall. I’m really excited to have a new van for traveling to shows.

February 16-17 – The Pajama Jam (Tipton, PA)

April 13-14 – Willie’s Midnight Crazy Train (Lehighton, PA)

May 19-20 – Private Party (Chalfont, PA)

June 29-30 – Grateful Getdown III (Biglerville, PA)

July 28 – Pinnacle Jam (Strausstown, PA)

August 2-5 – 13th Annual Bears Picnic (Blain, PA)

August 24-25 – Festival in the Field (Millersburg, PA)

August 31-September 1 – Peace of Mind (Laurelton, PA)

October 18-20 – Panda Fam Fest (Forksville, PA)

November 24 – 10th Anniversary Show (Tipton, PA)

December 31 – New Year’s Eve (Tipton, PA)

We now offer online ticket sales on the Mysterytrain website. Contact us if you’re planning on going to some of these events, and plan on camping with us, too!