Cooking an environment (by Diego Fdez-Sevilla)


Cooking an environment. (by Diego Fdez-Sevilla)

(Feb 20, 2014. Comments updated at the bottom of the page)

Sometimes in researching environmental issues I have come to think that the approach chosen in most cases is like looking at an already cooked meal trying to identify the ingredients, the factors such as temperature and the correlations between them. So we look at it by its presence trying to identify if it was needed heat or not to prepare the meal and then the ingredients. If there is no need of heat we will not find any correlation between temperature and the final result or, it will be a negative correlation so if we use it we will no obtain the desired result. From there we can move to complex research for a heat-treated meal where we will start looking at the correlations between ingredients and temperature plus humidity (just because we know that heat induces molecular changes in water making it volatile and therefore it is going to scape from our ingredients making them to dry out)… And what is my point about this? How far correlations are the answer to find the recipe for our environmental questions? I believe that we find environmental situations like we see already cooked meals and that we try to find the recipe behind it. What are the ingredients? and the processes? What is it needed to cook such environment?

I believe that first of all, it is difficult to find correlations as answers when we don´t know the time line involved in the cooking. Correlations can give answers to direct approaches to a direct impulse reaction. Accordingly heat increases temperature but does not mean that it would cook. You only can cook with heat if you can control the temperature, the times and the sequence of processes involved to allow the properties of your ingredients to change in order to obtain the interaction desired to obtain the final meal.

Based on that idea, I like to take more time in identifying combination of parameters which allow or induce changes in the environment instead of taking parameters individually. And the change in the environment use to be an accumulative process as it is in cooking. A pot with two ingredients at the same temperature does not give the same result as if one ingredient reaches a determined temperature, accumulates a period of time under such temperature and following a second ingredient is brought with it.

An example of what I am talking about is the use of Humidity and Temperature to search for correlations or instead looking at what are the changes induced into the properties of the environment by combining these two parameters as one only parameter. One way is by evaluating the Vapour Pressure Deficit which gives the capacity of the atmosphere to take or share water. It affects the transpiration of plants, the atmospheric energy transfer system, the dynamics of pollen atmospheric transport, the formation of clouds, …

What a correlation sometimes does not say is if the effect of one parameter in order to be significant has to be before or after something else has happen.

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About Diego Fdez-Sevilla, PhD.

Citing This Site "Title", published online "Month"+"Year", retrieved on "Month""Day", "Year" from http://www.diegofdezsevilla.wordpress.com. By Diego Fdez-Sevilla, PhD. More guidance on citing this web as a source can be found at NASA webpage: http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/bibliography/citations#! DOIs can be generated on demand by request by email: d.fdezsevilla(at)gmail.com for those publications missing at the ResearchGate profile vinculated with this project. Author´s profile: Bachelor in General Biology, Masters degree "Licenciado" in Environmental Sciences (2001, Spain). PhD in Aerobiology (2007, UK). Lived, acquired training and worked in Spain, UK, Germany and Poland. I have shared the outcome from my previous work as scientific speaker in events held in those countries as well as in Switzerland and Finland. After couple of years performing research and working in institutions linked with environmental research and management, I find myself in a period of transition searching for a new position or funding to support my research. In the present competitive scenario, instead of just moving my cv and wait for my next opportunity to arrive, I have decided to invest also my energy and time in opening my own line of research showing what I am capable of. The value of the data and the original nature of the research presented in this blog has proved to be worthy of consideration by the scientific community as well as for publication in scientific journals. However, without a position as member of an institution, it becomes very challenging to be published. I hope that this handicap do not overshadow the value of my work and the intellectual rights represented by the license of attribution attached are respected and considered by the scientist involved in this line of research. Any comment and feedback aimed to be constructive is welcome. In this blog I publish pieces of research focused on addressing relevant environmental questions. Furthermore, I try to break the barrier that academic publications very often offer isolating scientific findings from the general public. In that way I address those topics which I am familiar with, thanks to my training in environmental research, making them available throughout my posts. (see "Framework and Timeline" for a complete index). At this moment, 2017, I am living in Spain with no affiliation attachments. Free to relocate geographically worldwide. If you feel that I could be a contribution to your institution, team and projects don´t hesitate in contact me at d.fdezsevilla (at) gmail.com or consult my profile at LinkedIn, ResearchGate and Academia.edu. Also, I'd appreciate information about any opportunity that you might know and believe it could match with my aptitudes. The conclusions and ideas expressed in each post as part of my own creativity are part of my Intellectual Portfolio and are protected by Intellectual Property Laws. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial conditions. In citing my work from this website, be sure to include the date of access. (c)Diego Fdez-Sevilla, PhD, 2017. Filling in or Finding Out the gaps around. Publication accessed 20YY-MM-DD at http://www.diegofdezsevilla.wordpress.com/
This entry was posted in Cultural Cognition, Energy Balance, Environmental Resilience, Finding out, Opinion and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to Cooking an environment (by Diego Fdez-Sevilla)

  1. Pingback: Cross-pollinators and the risks of specialization. The screw and the knife. | diego fdez-sevilla

  2. From LinkedIn. Names are kept anonymous to keep author’s privacy.

    (Independent Environmental Consultant)

    Your point is well taken. The environment and its changes are a result of multiple factors, some synergistic, some not. That makes it complex to understand and analyze in the context of the “whole.” That’s why it is important to use a truly integrated multdisciplined approach. That, almost invariably, requires a generalist at the helm, rather than a specialist. The fundamental reason for that is specialists tend to focus on their specialty at the expense of other factors. It’s analogous to the old parable of the blind men and the elephant.

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  3. From Diego Fdez-Sevilla:
    I think that, in environmental issues as much as with others, there is a lack of attention about finding the right questions and too much effort in debating answers. Since each person is different, each argument gets personalized and open to create a new debate. I see in many forums that there is no consensus in the questions that need to be answered. So, much harder is going to be finding consensus in the answers. And that is where the debate should focus their foundations.
    I don´t know if I am mistaken but I think that some minds are mostly in silence, getting pass unnoticed just waiting for the “right” question or argument to react. Critical thinkers that are dormant waiting for questions that nobody make.
    From an environmental point of view I understand that any ecosystem has a limited capacity to absorb perturbations. So, from a hypothetical approach to the subject on human impact versus environmental change I would like to see a case scenario study giving answer to four questions: Could humans alter the ecosystem at global scale? What would have to do humans to alter the ecosystem at global scale? Which part of the ecosystem (soil, atmosphere, light and heat (from our sun), water or living organisms) would reflect primary the impact from human perturbation? In case the answer is “yes” to the first question, how much of the answer for the second and third questions matches with actual facts?

    From a generalist approach to the subject of global environmental perturbations (human and non humanly driven) I understand that our environment has mechanisms of resilience that get activated at local and global scale. Are we aware of those mechanisms? Temperature in our atmosphere can increase due to a number of factors. Greenhouse gases and solar radiation among others. Just playing, the human body uses temperature to react against pathogens. It rises from its balance state giving fever symptoms and this increase triggers the release of water as sweat to absorb the heat through evaporation. Consequently the human body loses water that needs to be replaced. So, in our global ecosystem, there is a debate about if there has been an increase in temperature. Which would be the mechanisms of resilience in our global environment working to absorb those increases in temperature (I would go with water as the heat carrier and the weather systems as the physical mechanics to redistribute and release heat. Like using a spoon to cold down your soup. see link to related post Met Office. The Recent Storms and Floods in the UK (Feb 2014) https://diegofdezsevilla.wordpress.com/2014/02/17/452/)? If they are working properly, what about if the global ecosystem has mechanisms of resilience to absorb increases in temperature that makes our correlations weak? Which other parts of our ecosystem are getting affected by the mechanism of resilience working to absorb the increase in temperature? Would the human species interfere with the right functionality of the earth mechanisms of resilience?
    Would we see an increase in global temperature just when the mechanism of resilience gets to the point of not being effective? Then, for how long has it been working already?

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