Friday, June 15, 2007


Updates will be more frequent now as yours truly has time to clear some idea backlogs...and now the post:

With all this talk about weather (and 4^15 cicadas here in Chicago), I
can't stop thinking about scale. We all know the importance of time intervals and sample periods when looking at the markets, and it is somewhat unfortunate we lack millions of years of data to strengthen our inferences or provide additional hypothesis generation.

the financial markets rife with feedback mechanisms, both on granular (individual stocks) and global (indexes) scales.  Everything is connected and the thinking, human participants create another layer of complexity by adding 3rd (what do I think he thinks I am thinking??) order thinking into the mix.
Fortunately, the planet earth has a wonderful temperature regulation feedback system that serves to illuminate why global warming is a problem of scale – humans will have to actively engineer, on a massive scale (like blowing up the Rocky Mountains) carbon introduction into
the atmosphere in the future if we wish to live here.

The system can be characterized thusly: Plate tectonics produce carbon dioxide through volcanic emission, carbon dioxide warms the planet. Warming increasing weathering (surface water is a function of temperature, as temperature rises, water evaporates leading to clouds and subsequent erosion). Carbon dioxide then attaches chemically to silicate rocks experiencing weathering. This process removes the C02 from the atmosphere and cools the planet. Carbon Dioxide is introduced again by volcanic emission (and water is needed here as
well for subduction), and on and on.

This process that has kept the Planet at a relatively constant temperature (never below freezing and never above boiling) for around 4.5 Billion years. Planets need land, water, and plate tectonics to achieve this system that is very good for carrying life. An oceanic planet would not be a very nice place to live, and likely would not remain that way for long as the lack of temperature regulation would likely boil the planet. (in the spirit of good taste, I will withhold jokes regarding a certain movie starring Kevin Costner, as said movie has already experiences too much suffering)

This feedback loop is interesting to me because of its massive time scale. In the long run (geologic scale), we should be more worried about making more CO2. But on relatively short scales (hundreds of years), we may have a problem with increased temperatures due to our
own actions.

Looking at the markets, it is very clear what the "geologic" drift is, caused by an extremely complex feedback system of its own…but when you zoom in closer, it becomes apparent that too much on one side of the differential equation can kill 90% of "oxygen-dependent species".
Life does go on, but it takes a different scale of time for that to happen.

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