Global Warming

November 10, 2008

Global Warming is one of those topics that can get you into hot water no matter what side of the debate you fall. I've always felt that the basic arguments behind global warming make sense logically and that to me has always been that the amount of industrialization we've seen in the last 100 years on our planet is something that has never happened in the world's history and it could have an impact on the planet's atmosphere.


That to me is the basic premise that global warming proposes, whether or not it will affect the planet in a warming way or a cooling way or whether or not it will have immediate effects are the deeper below the surface issues that are a bit open to debate and interpretation.


Today I watched the YouTube videos of John Coleman's views (4 parts in all) on global warming, and for the first time while watching I came to the realization that global warming has lost the Republican vs. Democratic battle that originally created most of the divide as to where people fell on the topic. For years the debate traditionally lined up the value difference for both parties, Democrats became Global Warming proponents while Republicans took the opposite side of the debate. Since that divide is now seemingly over (except with a few holdouts) and politicians on both sides of the political ticket believe that global warming is a real threat to the world, this has actually made me re-question what I think about global warming and it's affects on our planet.


Coleman makes some interesting points about global warming and what his thoughts are on the subject. He basically puts it in the realm of if people believe in a giant flying spaghetti monster due to a media blitz and some scientific jargon explaining that one exists, eventually the general consensus will be that a giant flying spaghetti monster is out there threatening us and we must do something to fight it.


Essentially Coleman doesn't believe in Global Warming because the scientific data to back it up is not agreed upon by all scientists who have done studies. He also believes that there is a large potential for people to want to believe it exists which causes them to draw the wrong conclusions when finishing studies or potentially massaging data to get the conclusions they purposely set out to achieve. Basically proving your conclusion regardless of what information you find out during the course of the investigation. Now that both sides politically are aligned to combat the threat, there is no longer questioning of the proposed evidence and people gladly drink from the water cooler to serve their own political agendas.


That's all fine and good he makes some good points, but while watching him explain the doubts he has and the causes as to the public's beliefs in the global warming threat, I couldn't help but ask myself "who cares?".


It may sound a little cynical, but I can't help but look at the larger picture which really is the world's energy use and the source of that energy being fossil fuels. Fossil fuels are a limited resource, period. People disagree on how much longer we can solely survive on them and how much remains, but it remains that at some point they will run out. As far as I am concerned that is an undisputed fact.


So to me, the question really becomes how to replace our reliance on fossil fuels for the sole purpose that at some point we need an alternative to generate the massive amounts of energy we rely on them to provide the world? And further more, how do we motivate that change to the alternate energy sources or at least accelerate their research and development? This kind of change is a massive undertaking, fossil fuels are cheap to use and easy for businesses to generate profit. They are widely used across the world in a variety of applications.


So at the end of the day, whether or not Global Warming actually will do anything to the planet that wouldn't already happen naturally is pretty irrelevant. It is the catalyst that will be the driving force that helps convert the world from fossil fuels to different energy sources. Coleman would say to that point that it's stupid to have to create a false reason like Global Warming to use in this manner, and I would agree with that observation, however, I also believe that people are naturally a little too complacent and resistant to change especially when talking about changes of such a grand scale. In order for their to be a driving force behind the change, everyone must feel a bit threatened. The threat that the world may end is a lot scarier than the threat of just running out of fossil fuels. While both are extremely catastrophic, it's much easier for the average Joe to picture the world being destroyed by severe climate shifts (thanks to movies) than gas pumps running dry.

The real question posed by the "Global Warming Threat" is actually a philosophical one. If the belief in the giant flying spaghetti monster proves to be false, but as a result of that belief we as people of the world are able to make advances in science that reduces or removes the world's reliance on fossil fuels, are we not better off? Or in other words do the ends justify the means?

Fun Demos to Try

November 3, 2008

At the end of last week I took the opportunity to download the demos on XBL for Mirror's Edge and the new Tomb Raider Underworld games which are soon to be released. I took notice of Mirror's Edge when E3 hit and it really appealed to me as a genre-changing type of game. I really like the idea of taking the first person shooter type of game play and re-tooling it into something similar and yet new at the same time. As for Tomb Raider, I wasn't originally too interested "oh gee look, another Tomb Raider game..." but then I saw it with a little demo time on Xplay and it looked worth a try.

 Mirror's Edge

I'm going to really have to give this game a solid play through, it will be worth a rent for sure, possibly a buy. There are a couple of things that irked me about the demo, but let's talk about the positives first: the graphics are very well done and while the environments which are mainly the tops of buildings and once and a while indoors a bit while atop those buildings, the feelings of scale in the city really sell the visual quality. You really get immersed in seeing a building ledge off in the distance and knowing that you can make some amazing jumps to get there. The story is interesting enough to carry the game and at least give you a reason for all the death-defying leaps from building top to building top. The combat or really fleeing from combat except for those few in your way is fun in a frantic feeling that adds pace to the game play. What I'm not really to happy about is the controls. The default buttons seem odd and uncommonly used for a first person game. Moving yourself and the camera are controlled with the left and right thumb sticks as you would expect, but then the similarities sort of disappear. LB and RB will be your main button presses in the game instead of a more normal A or X to jump, roll, etc. I found this a little awkward, especially using LB to jump and I really hope I can map that to a better button that I'm more likely to press. Instead they have a bullet-time mode mapped to the X button but I don't think I will ever use it except in combat which is how they choose to teach you about what X does.

I really had fun with the demo, I think the way they have presented the 1st-person shooter is really more of a new 1st person action game. Now the best thought I had about using this game play model while running around building tops was to use this method of presentation to make a Batman or Spiderman game, that would really be something.

Tomb Raider: Underworld

I was a fan of the very first Tomb Raider game from way back when. The puzzles were fun to solve and the environments were really well done and that to me was what "made" the game stand out on it's own. The series sort of lost that a bit as it had various sequels try to improve upon the original game and as a result I lost interest long ago. I thought this latest version would also pretty much suck but I happened to catch a 5 minute hands-on demo on Xplay and it looked good enough to pay attention to it. Once the demo became available on XBL I snatched it up and I have to say it's very much reminiscent of the original. The demo gives you a look at the Thailand level which you approach via boat with a quick swim and then climb and Croft-ian jumps and flips up a few ledges. While going through this exercise, I became familiar with the controls which were fairly well done. You have to do battle with the camera once in a while but that is pretty much standard in any 3rd person action game (when will a camera ever just work?). Graphics in the game definitely have a good level of polish. I found myself pulling out the binoculars to have a good look around whenever I got up high and had a great view or just wanted to check out some of the areas better. I'm looking forward to this one now as well having played the demo, it really gave me the old feeling I had when playing the original game.

So now of course, I have to add these to my list of games to get this season. I'm going to go broke with all the great stuff that's out there.