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Global Warming? Please....

By madgeo in Op-Ed
Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 09:15:49 PM EST
Tags: Science (all tags)
Science

I generally do not recycle, I do not give to environmental organizations, and I do not agree with environmentalists. Yet every day is Earth Day for me. My career is cleaning up hazardous waste. As such, I am very much concerned and aware of the problems associated with civilization. It also makes me very aware of the pseudo-science and outright propaganda that are bandied about by politicians and the media regarding the environment and so-called "global warming".


Human experience always seems to indicate that temperatures are going to hell, and the last summer/winter was particularly cold/warm, blah, blah, blah. Human experience of the weather is obviously not a reliable indicator, but that does not stop the media and politicians from running off at the mouth about the latest global weather "trend" (colder or hotter).

An absolutely classic example of the hysteria and ridiculous rhetoric associated with global climate changes is what was published in science textbooks in the 1970s. For example:

"WILL THE ICE AGES RETURN? Climatologists report that the world's weather is turning sharply cooler. Signs of this are evident. Drifting icefields have hindered access to Iceland's ports for the first time in this century. Since 1950 the growing season in England has been shortened by two weeks. Director Reid Bryson of the Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of Wisconsin reports that, if this trend continues, it will affect the whole human populace. A long term study of climactic conditions would place the first half of the twentieth century into an exceptionally warm period. The warming trend peaked in 1945, and the temperatures have been dropping since. The drop to date is on 1.5 degrees C, far from the 10 degrees C drop necessary for a new Ice Age. If this trend is not reversed, however, the planet may be caught in an ice-forming cycle similar to that of the Pleistocene." From Physical Geology by Eugene Mitacek 1971

Isn't that amazing? You can hear or read the exact same arguments in the media today, except they are reporting that the world is going to cook instead of freeze. This is illustrated in the following excerpts (emphasis added):

"An authoritative U.N. scientific team warned earlier this month that if global warming is not halted, rich and poor countries could be hit in coming decades with massive flooding, disease and drought. Scientists have said global temperatures are likely to rise by 2.5-10.4 Fahrenheit by 2100 and sea levels could rise by as much as 35 inches. " LA Times Wednesday, February 28, 2001

"Global warming threatens Arizona with dangerous side effects, including more cases of deadly hantavirus, fewer native fish and falling cotton yields, environmentalists and scientists contend. With state temperatures projected to rise by 3 to 5 degrees in the next century, "bad things are going to happen," warned Rob Smith, Southwest representative for the Sierra Club. " Kathleen Ingley / The Arizona Republic Feb. 21, 2001

A new report says rising global temperatures could have serious health consequences for Massachusetts residents. The study from the Washington-based Physicians for Social Responsibility predicts Bay State residents could experience more heat-related illnesses and respiratory problems if global warming is not addressed. The 54-page report also warns that a build-up of toxic algae could affect the fishing industry. The findings prove that climate change is occurring and is related to man-made production of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels. MSNBC March 1

That last sentence is particularly irresponsible.

All of this discussion of extremely short term weather patterns is ridiculous, as our longest human recorded temperature measurements are comparable to a pixel sized dot on a large movie theatre-sized screen. Geologists routinely think in terms of hundreds of thousands of years when we look at weather patterns, like the ice ages.

Most climatologists that study the alleged global warming problem do not agree or are uncertain that radical action is required. And there ARE some reasons to be cautious with our conclusions. The financial resources being wasted on the problem could power a third world country (or California lately), but that is not the gravest problem. The real problem is the potential cost in human lives. What many environmentalists do not take into account is that when large governments and countries agree on a course of action and force small countries to comply with the same rules, the results can be disastrous to the poor population. For example, a few factories being shut down due to carbon dioxide emission cuts would have little effect on employees in the United States. They just look for another job. In third world countries those cuts could cause the former employees to starve to death. When you live on the razors edge like many poor people do, your job IS your safety net.

And radical action is far from justified. The best data comes from three sources; ground based thermometer readings, satellites, and weather balloon measurements. Ground-based thermometer readings are the least reliable but extend the furthest back in time as they have been collected for roughly 100 years, but careful examination of the data has revealed that human error and the encroachment of civilization may have significantly skewed the data. A hypothetical example: lets say a temperature station that took measurements in the forest 100 years ago became pasture land then a paved parking lot in the middle of skyscrapers. The data might be affected just a little towards the hot side first due shade, and then a lack of shade, and then due to reflected heat. These urban heat islands are debated but properly illustrate the vagaries of earth based readings. In addition, the ground-based readings have missing data or no data on 71 percent of the earth's surface.... Oceans.

Satellite and balloon data are a lot more accurate resources and are available for the last 22 years. They also have the added advantage of being truly global measurements and not land-biased. The satellite data can be seen here.

The historical records show that weather balloon data show trends of cooling from around -0.07 to -0.02 degrees Celsius per decade. Satellite data (adjusted for various orbit decays) varies from around -0.01 to +0.08 degrees C per decade, and land and sea surface temperatures measure at +0.15 degrees C per decade. Given this data, scientists are quick to point out how weather models may need tweaking to explain the data. What they really mean to say is "we really don't know squat about global temperature variations" but we need the money to fund research! It is also telling that the single greatest contributions to weather fluctuations is not mankind but volcanic eruptions, which not only cause radical temperature fluctuations but are the best contributors to "greenhouse gas" emissions. Shall we plug the volcanoes?

So what should we do? Possible solutions have been proposed including seeding of the ocean with iron to cause carbon dioxide eating phytoplankton blooms (see this Wired magazine article).

We could even make all 6 million plus people on the earth wear mirrors on their heads to reflect the heat. Where does the point of insanity begin?

We could start seriously using nuclear power. That is the simplest solution if global warming regulations shut down the coal and gas power plants. Is more nuclear power what we really want or even need?

Environmentalists need to pick their battles more sensibly. Hysterical rantings based on little or no information is an idea whose time has past. Sensible and sound environment policies can help those of us that do the real environmental cleanups get our job done and make our cities clean places to live. Stupid regulations and rhetoric will only exacerbate the real environmental problems.

For additional information and some suggestions on good environmental policies visit:

Heartland.org

Instant Expert Guide to Global Warming

Julian Simon Article

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Poll
Is Global Warming a Problem?
o No, its all a bunch of hooey. 24%
o Maybe, We need responsible solutions. 37%
o Probably, We need radical solutions. 20%
o Definitely, Shut down industry. 17%

Votes: 193
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o here.
o this
o Heartland. org
o Instant Expert Guide to Global Warming
o Julian Simon Article
o Also by madgeo


Display: Sort:
Global Warming? Please.... | 268 comments (257 topical, 11 editorial, 0 hidden)
The Hidden Agenda (2.94 / 19) (#1)
by the Epopt on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 01:08:14 AM EST

"Global warming" is just an excuse dreamed up to justify hatred of the internal combustion engine, which lets anybody jump in a car and drive anywhere at any time. If they were serious about cooling the planet, they would
  1. Advocate planting trees. Everyone understands that trees sop up carbon dioxide. What everyone does not understand is what a significant effect planting trees can have. If done correctly, it could reduce the total CO2 output of the United States by 30 percent.
  2. Give everyone buckets of white paint. A study published a couple of years ago by the Department of Energy showed that if you painted every roof in Los Angeles white and if you planted trees in the traffic islands, you could lower the cost of air conditioning by 18 percent and Los Angeles would instantly become cooler than Orange County, instead of being, on average, five degrees warmer on a summer day.
But they aren't serious about "global warming." Sherwood Rowland, who won the Nobel Prize in 1995 for predicting the depletion of the ozone layer, is a good example of those opposed to mitigation procedures. He admits that mitigation is probably cheaper than prohibition, but maintains that we shouldn't do it.

"It will give people the impression that there is some better way to do it than by controlling their own urges to burn fuel," he says.
--  
Most people who need to be shot need to be shot soon and a lot.
Very few people need to be shot later or just a little.

K5_Arguing_HOWTO

Not white, green. (4.28 / 7) (#13)
by sinclair on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 06:34:40 AM EST

See www.greenroofs.com for an even better idea than painting roofs white: growing plants on them. Among the advantages: aesthetics, insulation, longetivity, storm-water management, and possible reduced pollutants.

[ Parent ]

Downsides (4.50 / 4) (#34)
by flieghund on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 10:58:33 AM EST

Just to play Devil's Advocate, growing plants on roofs also means:
  • Increased structural costs. Soil weighs *a lot*. Add water to it, and it weighs more than concrete. You gotta support that weight somehow, and traditional stick-framed walls are not really a good solution.
  • Increased seismic hazards. Related to the point above, all that weight at the top of a building increases the likelihood of collapse in an earthquake. Since the original post in this thread mentioned Los Angeles, this is a particular concern.
  • Leaking. As if people don't have enought problems with leaking roofs now, adding soil and plants to the roof will only exacerbate the problem. Especially when the roots of said plants go travelling and start worming their way through your structrual members.
All that being said, it's a great idea, especially for aesthetic and insulative reasons. The problem, however, is how long before you see a return on investment: If it saves you, say, $100 a year, but it cost you an additional $10,000 for the structural and waterproofing upgrades, you're going to have to live there for 100 years before it was worthwhile. Most people don't live that long, let alone live in the same house. Now, for larger-scale developments (apartments, office buildings, etc.), it becomes much more reasonable and effective...

Using a Macintosh is like picking your nose: everyone likes to do it, but no one will admit to it.
[ Parent ]
Re: Downsides (2.75 / 4) (#38)
by sinclair on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 11:46:53 AM EST

Good points.

For structural reasons, a green roof is probably not suitable for retrofit on many existing houses. However, it can't be all that bad. The one green roof I've seen is on Al Johnson's Swedish Restaurant in Sister Bay, WI. That roof looks of fairly typical construction for Wisconsin, except that it's got grass and goats on it. (Yes, goats!)

I hadn't thought about seismic threats. I guess that comes from living on top of bedrock that hasn't moved much in 5 million years. If you do a green roof in L.A., do it on an earthquake-resistant building, for goodness sake! :-) Still, I don't imagine it's much of a factor on larger structures like it is on houses, since larger structures already weigh a lot.

As for leaking problems, a green roof is actually supposed to help. Obviously, it has to be done right, but when done right, there are some materials out there that will resist water and roots quite effectively. Furthermore, with soil and plants sucking up water, not much water even gets down to that layer, and so leakage is greatly reduced.

[ Parent ]

That's better than my solution (3.00 / 3) (#49)
by weirdling on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 01:21:47 PM EST

It would be really simple, too, to put up huge mylar screens in space that would reflect large amounts of solar radiation and result in cooling the earth. This idea is so trivial and cheap to implement compared to reducing carbon emissions and takes care of all heat-polution on this planet. We could make other screens to reflect light to the earth to heat it up, and put up thermostats to control the mess...

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
Tackle the cause, not the symptom (2.33 / 3) (#55)
by Philipp on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 02:24:11 PM EST

"It will give people the impression that there is some better way to do it than by controlling their own urges to burn fuel,"
I guess his point is that you can do all kinds of things to reduce the effects of global warming (paint houses white?), but all this is meaningless, if you don't deal with the cause of the problem, which is the burning of fossil fuel, and the subsequent rise of CO<SUB>2</SUB> emmissions.

alias kn 'killall -9 netscape-communicator'
[ Parent ]
Yes...paint the roof white (3.00 / 1) (#123)
by ChannelX on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 11:19:35 PM EST

The white paint will reflect more of the sun therefore making the house cooler therefore reducing the need for air conditioning. Its done in most warm climates (like in the mediterranean).

[ Parent ]
Sure (3.00 / 1) (#162)
by Philipp on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 05:43:47 PM EST

Hey, I am all for white roofs, but this does have little effect on the macroscopic picture - the stronger greenhouse effect due to higher concentration of CO2

alias kn 'killall -9 netscape-communicator'
[ Parent ]
Its impossible to know.. (3.00 / 1) (#168)
by ChannelX on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 10:42:48 PM EST

what would happen for sure. If everyone had a white roof we do know that there would be a smaller need for cooling and thus not as much power generated to feed power to air conditioning. Its upsetting to see people toss aside possibilities simply because they would be small steps. there isn't going to be one catch-all that will solve all problems.

[ Parent ]
just to say... (2.00 / 1) (#179)
by Philipp on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 05:51:04 AM EST

You are absolutely right.

alias kn 'killall -9 netscape-communicator'
[ Parent ]
Consider the source (4.00 / 1) (#121)
by Eccles on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 11:10:34 PM EST

Sherwood Rowland [...] admits that mitigation is probably cheaper than prohibition, but maintains that we shouldn't do it. Hmm, a Cato Institute member's claim of an off-the-cuff remark by Mr. Rowland? I'd rather have a somewhat less biased source of evidence. And there are numerous tree planting programs, including currently an international conference on desertification and how to reverse the process. China has a major reforestation project. White roofs stain readily, and do I have to paint my house so you can keep driving that Suburban? The key thing, really, is to try to make the cost of everything reflect its real cost, including disposal. You want to drive that Navigator and produce more CO2 (not to mention send more money to Saddam Hussein?) Then that should be reflected in the cost of gasoline.

[ Parent ]
best methods? (4.57 / 21) (#2)
by dilinger on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 01:08:23 AM EST

"And radical action is far from justified. The best data comes from three sources; ground based thermometer readings, satellites, and weather balloon measurements."

I have to disagree with this article. You argue that we're blowing global warming out of proportion, since we don't have proof that we're significantly affecting the earth's climate. The "best data" sources, which you use to back your argument, are actually incorrect. There are numerous other methods used to measure weather, aside from those 3. These methods have been used to detect patterns in climate from hundreds of thousands of years ago.

For example, atmosphere bubbles, trapped in ice cores from Greenland and Antarctica, have been used to determine the climate from 400,000 years ago. Likewise, Deuterium content in ice has also been used to determine climate from 160,000 years ago. Certainly, these methods are not as bullet proof as simply whipping out a thermometer and recording the temperature for 100 years, but they certainly give stonger indications than your article gives credit for.

My point is, you're assuming that scientists are formulating hypotheses about global warming based on simply the last 100 years, when in fact, they are not. Your "best methods" are not, in fact, THE best methods used to correlate long term temperature flux. I find this view much more irresponsible than the MSNBC quote.

one of the problems (3.00 / 1) (#113)
by jeanlucpikachu on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 05:53:08 PM EST

with atmosphereic bubbles is that I've heard that our heating/cooling cycle is something like ~1500 years. 100000 yr or 400000 yr samples may not be accurate enough. But hey, more points of reference is better than fewer...

--
Peace,
Capt. Jean-Luc Pikachu AIM: jeanlucpikachu
[ Parent ]
Best Course of Action? (4.00 / 7) (#3)
by fsh on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 01:13:30 AM EST

I agree that our weather models need work in order to accurately predict the weather patterns. However, look at it this way: if golbal warming is a hoax, and the earth's climate is easily able to absorb our greenhouse gasses, then no problem. If global warming is real, however, then we're in trouble. I don''t think we should just act willhe-nillhe, however, but I wholeheartedly agree with the scientists who crow for more money for more research. If there is a problem, and it's anywhere near as bad as some scientists are saying, then we need to act with all due speed to fix the problem. After all, it's not the whole world's problem; it's the industrialised societies' problem.

As far as climactic knowledge, there are a vast host of other techniques for climatological research: ice cores from the artic and antarctic ice packs, fossilized tree rings, and geological evidence. While these methods are nowhere near as accurate as weather satellites (obviously), they do give a general idea.

I totally agree, however, with the scientific irresponsibility of the statement: "The findings prove that climate change is occurring and is related to man-made production of greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels." Nothing is ever proven in science, certainly not when your mathematical models are as sketchy as the weather models.
-fsh

Science, argument and global environment problems (4.68 / 16) (#4)
by jesterzog on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 01:21:49 AM EST

I don't know a lot specifically about the topic, but there are always going to be people arguing extremes in both directions.

Some scientists are arguing proof that global warming is a serious problem, and similarly you're arguing that there's no serious problem.. or at least that there's no evidence of one. Which is fine, because arguing is how science works.

I think it's quite important that people don't start ignoring the possible problems though. One of the freaky things about global environment catastrophes is that they don't always make themselves evident everywhere at the same time. Because it doesn't effect people, it doesn't occur to them that what they're doing creates massive problems for someone else.

Take parts of Europe as an example, and consider what causes the acid rain that gets dumped on some areas. Often it's not a problem created by the countries suffering from it.

Did you know that there are now parts on the southern tip of South America where you simply can't go outside in the middle of the day at certain times of year? The reason is that the ozone hole currently opens up around the South Pole, and it's just now been getting large enough to reach some civilisation directly.

My sister was there last year, and she met an American tourist who was ignorant enough about the problem to ask her if it was because they have heavy exhaust producing cars around there.

The answer is, of course, that if the theories on what's causing the ozone hole is correct, it's irrelevant where on the Earth the pollution is produced. Most of it comes from the industrial areas in parts of the Northern Hemisphere.

Recent evidence has shown that the ozone hole's not been getting as big in the past year or two, and again it's opened up some debate about exactly what's causing it and what's going on up there. But I don't think that's an excuse not to take the theories seriously.

As for global warming.. well if we just ignore it competely because there's no 100% firm evidence available about what causes it, the first casualties will be any number of small island nations that will completely cease to exist given even a relatively small rise in the sea level. Follow that with some major waterside cities around the world getting flooded and wiped out.

It's a lot harder to take things seriously when it's not going to effect you directly. That's the problem with potential global implications.


jesterzog Fight the light


Here's something .. (4.25 / 12) (#5)
by Eloquence on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 01:45:43 AM EST

.. that everyone who wants to take part in the Global Warming debate should read:

The PR Plot to Overheat the Earth by Bob Burton and Sheldon Rampton.

The whole issue is closely related to industry interests -- it's similar to the "Does smoking cause cancer?" question. This should always be kept in mind when evaluating different studies and opinions on the subject.
--
Copyright law is bad: infoAnarchy · Pleasure is good: Origins of Violence
spread the word!

What a waste of bits (3.80 / 5) (#23)
by Simon Kinahan on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 10:07:03 AM EST

That article proves nothing. The closest it gets to presenting scientific evidence is to declare "near unanimity" amongst scientists, as if truth could be established by a vote.

The rest of it just documents the fact that the oil industry has front groups doing climate research. Well, big surprise there, but to assume that such research is automatically less good than that from the IPCC (whose conclusions seem amazingly radical given the paucity of actual supporting evidence), is to commit the genetic fallacy.

This is quite distinct from the "Does smoking cause cancer ?" question in the nature of evidence. Smoking was found to cause cancer by a team of epidimiologists who were looking for a cause for an established epidemic. They originally suspected car exhausts, but found no supporting evidence and eventually traced the cause back to cigarettes. Epidimiology is a well established statistical science where many cases can be found and common factors detected.

The nature of global warming is very different. We only have one test case for meterology because we only have one planet. We know the climate has varied a great deal over time, and we have some theories about the causes, but no overrarching theory comparable with evolution, or the germ theory of disease in other fields. Knowing what will happen in a situation we have never observed directly and have few historical cases for - the release of moderate amounts of CO2 into an Nitrogen-Oxygen atmosphere on a living planet - is hard. The temperature evidence we have about what is going on now is pretty indecisive. Yes, things are getting slightly warmer, but 1500-1800 was an unusually cold period and we're still recovering from that in many respects.

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]
Not our fault! (2.83 / 6) (#6)
by Blarney on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 02:20:09 AM EST

There's a lot of cruddy pseudoscience out there. People will cheerfully tell you that the average temperature of the Earth has risen one and a half degrees during the last century, and ignore the fact that thermometers of a century ago were only accurate to five degrees or so. I mean Fahrenheit degrees here, apologies to all the good folk who use metric. Personally, I like Fahrenheit for measurement of weather, as it's calibrated to the human body. 100 F is approximately the point where sweating no longer dissipates heat efficiently, and 0 F is near the point where flesh freezes..... I'm rambling, so forget this part.

But it is quite likely that temperature is rising globally, according to historical sources.

In the Jewish Bible, it is recounted that the Middle East used to be a fertile land. Today, it's mostly desert! Well, that's millennia ago. Look at a more recent example.

Paintings and early photographs of people in the Victorian era show that they wore a great deal of clothing. Women wore dresses with 5 or so layers, they were about 6 feet in diameter. Men wore several shirts and pants at one time. The official explanation for this manner of dress is that it was to enforce sexual modesty - but I'm sure that nobody would dress in such a manner that they would overheat and become ill, especially in a time when any medical problem could quickly turn fatal!

I conclude that it was probably a lot colder in the past then it is today, and this trend has been going on for a long time - longer then the age when people were burning significant amounts of fossil fuels.

It probably is getting warmer, and people are burning lots of fossil fuels now, but there is not necessarily a causal relationship here. After all, the fossil fuels we mine today were once carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and the world did not become a charred ember.

Perhaps the Earth simply goes through cycles of climate, and there is little or nothing that we can do about it.

The climate there even now justifies such clothing (3.00 / 2) (#51)
by Peeteriz on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 01:44:51 PM EST

It is rather simple - in those times, temperature withing buildings was at best a dozen degrees warmer than the weather outside - heat isolation and walls/windows which don't let wind through were not there.
In order to feel comfortable, when the temperature outside is well below freezing and inside is above but close to it, as it would be often in the north (remember that Victorian times were in England, which is at the same temperature zone as the northern part of USA), then you *would* need such layers of clothing to feel good. Near a fireplace, or in your bed would be warmer, but the usual dress style would be nearly as thick as needed to go outside in winter snowfall.
Thus, the Victorian thickness of clothing just proves that England was a much colder place as, let's say ancient Greece or Rome was, or New York is now, not that the climate was colder back then.

[ Parent ]
Climate cycles (3.00 / 1) (#114)
by infraoctarine on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 06:38:29 PM EST

Perhaps the Earth simply goes through cycles of climate

It is a quite well established fact that the climate changes naturally, both over longer (think ice ages) and shorter periods of time. For instance, only a few hundred years ago it was warmer than today. It is not necessary with accurate thermometer readings to establish temperature changes. One method is to track how the type of plants and wildlife change in an area over time. This is quite accurate, I've been told.

There's a lot of cruddy pseudoscience out there

Like judging temperature shifts based on reading bibles and looking at paintings perhaps :-)

Personally, I like Fahrenheit for measurement of weather, as it's calibrated to the human body.

Well, this is OT, but anyway. The measurement issue seems to pop up every now and then. There was an amusing thread on slashdot on the subject a while ago. I've seen the most amazingly innovative explanations why this or that system would be better. It's important from a scientific/engineering standpoint, but for everyday use it boils down to what you are used to. I think it is perfectly normal when my body temperature is 37 degrees, hell, I would be boiling at 100 :-)

[ Parent ]
Caution seems appropriate (3.85 / 7) (#7)
by bjrubble on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 03:17:08 AM EST

If global warming is real, the consequences will be dire. I strongly disagree that "most climatologists do not agree" about this -- most anecdotal evidence I've heard is that the debate is pretty much over, but I've never seen a definitive answer on this -- but even if it were a sizeable minority preaching gloom and doom I'd pay attention to them, just because it is such gloom and doom. Climate is chaotic, and it is absolutely capable of going places that we really don't want it to. An ice age would be disastrous; in monetary costs alone, orders of magnitude more expensive than a few regulations and research grants.

I think of it this way: I know it is overwhelmingly unlikely that a meteor will hit tomorrow and wipe out all life, but I still want to take precautions.

Nuclear power is good (3.66 / 18) (#9)
by Delirium on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 03:40:05 AM EST

Nuclear power is good. It is safe, clean (compared to other alternatives), and reliable. The simple fact that one nuclear reactor in the world had a major problem many years ago is not a good reason to abandon the technology entirely. Chernobyl was a bad design, and that design is no longer used. (Even taking Chernobyl into account, coal power plants have killed more people than nuclear power has). France currently generates nearly all of its power from nuclear power plants and has had no significant problems.

Nuclear power (3.66 / 6) (#10)
by driftingwalrus on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 05:49:24 AM EST

Remember the Hindenburg - one disaster by one airship destroyed all the potential that the design had.

As for nuclear power, reactors such as the slowpoke designed in Canada are actually very safe. The design relies on the presence of water in the reactor vessel to function, the less water there is, the slower the reaction goes. As a result, before explosion is possible the reaction stops dead in it's tracks.

During the '60s, there was even talk of developing small, refigerator-sized slowpoke reactors for home power generation. They where to be completely self-contained, and have enough fuel in them to last for 20 years. After the fuel was used up, they would properly disposed of. Nuclear reactors don't produce an awful lot of waste, and it is entirely possible to come up with a better way of dealing with said waste than burying it.

Think of buying a car with all the fuel it will ever need already under the hood.


"I drank WHAT?!" -- Socrates
[ Parent ]
nuclear waste disposal (4.00 / 3) (#17)
by kmon on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 08:10:53 AM EST

... it is entirely possible to come up with a better way of dealing with said waste than burying it.

What would that be? The most popular ways to dispose of nuclear waste today are:

1. Bury it
2. Seal it in a barrel and drop it in the ocean.

The only other thing I can think of is to shoot the stuff off into space, and that comes with a whole myriad of other problems. AFAIK, there is no way to make nuclear waste safe.
ad hoc, ad hominem, ad infinitum!
[ Parent ]
patience, patience, patience (2.66 / 3) (#24)
by Anonymous 242 on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 10:24:12 AM EST

AFAIK, there is no way to make nuclear waste safe.
All you have to do is wait. Radioactive material degrades naturally.

OTOH, before nuclear power becomes more widespread we likely want a process to make today's radioctive waste safe today or tomorrow instead of thousands upon thousands of generations from now.

[ Parent ]

LOL (2.00 / 2) (#27)
by retinaburn on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 10:31:45 AM EST

All you have to do is wait. Radioactive material degrades naturally

So do plastics but we dont want those taking up space...at least they don't cause cancer and poison the environment.


I think that we are a young species that often fucks with things we don't know how to unfuck. -- Tycho


[ Parent ]
plastics do have poisons (3.00 / 2) (#43)
by Delirium on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 12:38:30 PM EST

FWIW the opposition to plastic use by environmentalists is not just one of "we don't want them taking up space in our landfills" - plastics do poison the environment. Apart from the obvious environmental effects such as wildlife being choked by plastic bags and the rings from six-packs, often poisonous chemicals leach from many types of plastics into groundwater.

[ Parent ]
Re-enrichment and reuse (4.60 / 5) (#26)
by jabber on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 10:27:23 AM EST

That's the other alternative. Nuclear waste can be re-processed and reused, repeatedly, until eventually it becomes completely inert. Properly recycled waste is less radioactive than the coal ash that gets removed from traditional fossil plants by the hundreds of tonnes each day.

The problem with recycling nuclear waste is political and not technological. Reactors for waste re-enrichment exist and are very efficient. But, they can also be used for making weapons-grade materials, and as such, make the international scene very tense.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"
[ Parent ]

Waste Disposal (2.50 / 4) (#63)
by j on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 03:00:48 PM EST

I say we seal the waste in steel containers, build some big-ass rail guns and practise target shooting with asteroids.
But that would of course necessitate the construction of some extra powerplants to drive those guns.

[ Parent ]
Sea floor disposal (3.66 / 3) (#82)
by bjrubble on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 11:03:28 PM EST

I found this article very interesting. The sea floor is geologically inert, geographically isolated, and extremely non-porous. The biggest problem is reliably transporting the waste to its destination.

[ Parent ]
There *are* methods to deal with nuke waste... (5.00 / 1) (#124)
by ChannelX on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 11:31:34 PM EST

...that unfortunately haven't been used because of the ridiculous anti-nuclear stance of most people in the US. Check out: http://www.anlw.anl.gov/anlw_history/general_history/gen_hist.html and look at the IFR reactor info at the bottom of the page. Current reactors are *very* inefficient as far as materials use.

[ Parent ]
One? (3.00 / 2) (#30)
by finial on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 10:46:43 AM EST

Chernobyl is the worst, but by no means the only one. Three Mile Island, remember that? The one in Japan last summer (it was a fuel processing plant, but the were processing fuel for the reactor). And those are only the ones the spring immediately to mind.

France also recycles most of their waste unlike the US who, by law, prohibits the use of spent fuel for any purpose whatsoever and so must find "somewhere" to dump it all. Even though France recycles most, they still dump their remains on their South Pacific "protectorates." (Just ask Austrailia and New Zealand about that.)

I'm not saying your other arguments are wrong (specifically about the coal plants killing more than nuclear) but you're undercutting your position by saying there's only been one problem with nukes.

[ Parent ]

no radiation release *despite* failure (3.75 / 4) (#42)
by Delirium on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 12:35:12 PM EST

Three Mile Island, remember that?

I had considered that, but did not include it in my original comments because TMI was not a nuclear disaster. In fact no harmful effects came about from TMI except for monetary losses - the radiation immediately around the power plant was no higher after the event than typical background radiation anywhere (including areas remote from nuclear plants). In effect TMI was an "almost-disaster," stopped because of the numerous safety systems implemented there (several important safety systems failed and it was still prevented by the remaining ones) - IMHO this indicates the relative safety of nuclear power when implemented with such redundant systems, since even in the case of a failure as egregious as TMI there was still no radiation release.

[ Parent ]

only one? (4.50 / 6) (#50)
by Anonymous 242 on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 01:26:10 PM EST

  • Tokaimura Japan 1999
  • Chernobyl USSR 1986
  • Three Mile Island US 1979
  • Greifswald East Germany 1976
  • Windscale Pile Number One UK 1957
  • Chalk River Canada 1952
Granted, the death toll was only high at Chernobyl. The price of nuclear accidents goes far beyond the toll in human deaths. Fifteen years after the accident at Chernobyl, the surrounding environment still has not recovered.

As far as Three Mile Island goes, there was radiation released into the environment, albeit a small amount. According to the Uranium Institute:

Radiation releases during the accident were minimal and well below levels associated with health effects. The average dose to people within ten miles of the plant was 8 millirem with no more than 100 millirem to any single individual. Eight millirem is roughly equivalent to a chest X-ray and 100 millirem is about one third of average background radiation received by US citizens in a year.
I don't believe that there has been any clear evidence of severe environmental impact from Three Mile Island. On the other hand a clean up tag that exceeds one billion dollars and a rather large useless chunk of concrete and steel have had a tremendous impact on the econcomy.

The element I see missing from most debate over nuclear power is a clear cost benefit analysis. Typically the anti-nuclear folks simply chant about how it isn't safe and the pro-nuclear folks chant about how it is safe. What I want to know is how much benefit might come of a nuclear power plant vs. the cost if something goes wrong like it did at Three Mile Island. What to do with nuclear waste in perpetuity also needs to be figured into this analysis. Currently in the US we simply stockpile it for future generations to figure out.

[ Parent ]

Only one? (4.00 / 1) (#99)
by Ricdude on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 10:21:42 AM EST

Besides Chernobyl, there were also "incidents" at Three Mile Island and the experimental Fermi reactor. Yes, I know that no radioactivity escaped from TMI, but the plant was shut down and is no longer usable. The Fermi accident is more interesting, having resulted in three deaths, one by being impaled to the roof by a control rod. The PC statistic is "no civilian deaths in the US".

However, taking a realistic viewpoint, in order to shut down all of the US's nuke plants would require cutting back electricity usage by an amount approximately equal to the amount of energy used to refrigerate and air condition the country. I don't see it happening any time soon.

Fundamentally, *all* forms of mass power generation have deficiencies. Pick your poison carefully. Personally, I'm interested in seeing how difficult it would be to put a deisel engine in my SUV, and supplement by fuel budget with processed vegetable oil.

[ Parent ]
Nukes are both risky and hazardous (4.00 / 1) (#234)
by keyeto on Wed Mar 07, 2001 at 01:55:34 PM EST

Seven or eight years ago, I started working for a startup, as the first employee, using some borrowed computers. After a couple more employees joined, we finally got some of our own computers, and had to choose a naming scheme. I proposed nuclear accidents, and everyone thought it was weird and funny enough to accept it. Whilst I no longer work there, I still know people who do, and they are still using the same naming scheme, despite being about a hundred people strong.

That's an awful lot of accidents involving nukes. The mixture of radioactivity and heavy metals required for nuclear power is as toxic as hell, and a total nightmare to clean up when (not if, but when) things go wrong.

Reprocessing nuclear fuel is a myth. Reprocessing was invented to enrich nuclear waste for nuclear weapons. There are a couple of exprimental reactors that can use reprocessed fuel nowadays, but they only got built because Sellafield faked the results on it's "research" into the safety of those reactors. There were none at all during the cold war. Reprocessing also creates a hundredfold increase in the amount of readioactive waste that need to be stored safely somehow, which is merely one more great unsolved problems with nuclear power.

Global warming is a serious issue, and the consensus amongst climatologists is that *something* is happenning, even if they're not sure what or by how much. Sooner or later, we will get some clearer answers, and will have to think seriously about what we can get by using less fossil fuel (using the cooling fluid to heat cities, as in combined heat and power in Scandinavia, is one), but the dangers of nuclear power are just too great to for it to be considered a solution, let alone the panacea you seem to think it is.

There are still only two reactors in the world that There are only a couple of reactors that can use reprocessed fuel in the world, and they seem to have real trouble with it. Reproce


--
"This is the Space Age, and we are Here To Go"
William S. Burroughs
[ Parent ]

Problems with enviornmentalists (4.09 / 11) (#14)
by finkployd on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 07:40:43 AM EST

The movement to protect the enviornment should be a positive thing, that everyone supports and does their part to contribute to. It is unquestionable that the world would be a better place if that were so.

However, most people are eventually turned off from this movement due to the VAST number of innacurate statistics, prophets of doom, and out right rabid liars that seem to speak for the movement. For some reason, the enviornmental movement has attracted more than it's share of radical wackos.

Radicals who time and again lie, mislead, and (sometimes) commit terrorism can really do damage to a group that is mostly filled with well meaning and intelligent people. What we really need are accurate, non politically motivated studies to be done and real, unbaised answers as to the state of this world, junk science.

Finkployd
Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
Maybe... (2.66 / 3) (#84)
by spcmanspiff on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 11:36:26 PM EST

... us 'radical wackos' are forced to be that way.

I see one of two reactions whenever I bring up environmental issues:

There are the people who immediately assume that, because I'm advocating conservation and question our culture of consumption, I must be a crazy bomb wielding tree spiking aethist communist.

Then there's folks who nod their heads, quietly agree, and pipe everything to /dev/null -- it's either that or they may have to question their successful, happy lifestyles.

To be honest, you're not helping. If you think, as I do, that the world would be a better place if we worked to protect the environment, why let people/zealots who share your belief get in your way? There are plenty (lots more, I would say) of equally obnoxious, misinformed, and violent right-wingers out there but that's never stopped anyone from taking a conservative stance before.



[ Parent ]
Agreed (3.00 / 1) (#97)
by finkployd on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 10:13:33 AM EST

Oh, I agree completly. I'm in the pro-second amendment camp and we have some of the more professional nutcases hurting us. It think you are probably going about it the best way, state your case, and don't worry about the people who just don't listen/care. Having some people not caring is much better than having people hate/despise/out to get you and what is normally the reaction to the extreemists.

Of course, the people I really feel for are the pro-lifers. I'm sure 99.9% of them are kind peace loving people, but then you get the violent demonstrators and clinic bombers who give the their whole movement a bad name.

Finkployd
Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
[ Parent ]
-1 excess B.S. penalty (1.23 / 17) (#15)
by Da Unicorn on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 07:45:34 AM EST

-1 Excess Bullshit penalty.

Lets put ta reactor in your back yard.

Yeah, global warming thats why I have an ice sheet in my yard in March, and we have had snow cover since early October. Yeah getting damn hot.

Have you actually read this article? (2.75 / 4) (#16)
by kaemaril on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 08:01:55 AM EST

Yeah, global warming thats why I have an ice sheet in my yard in March, and we have had snow cover since early October. Yeah getting damn hot.

Incisive analysis there, sparky. Are you, by any chance, George W. Bush?


Why, yes, I am being sarcastic. Why do you ask?


[ Parent ]
Burning in Australasia (3.00 / 4) (#29)
by jedm on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 10:36:04 AM EST

What about burn times of 6 minutes down in australasia? That's walking outside without sunblock and being burned in six minutes by the UV radiation! Sure we may not be feeling it in the northern hemisphere, but directly under the ozone hole (Australia / New Zealand) effects have definately been felt.

[ Parent ]
Re: Burning in Australasia (4.00 / 2) (#152)
by tim on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 12:42:11 PM EST

What about burn times of 6 minutes down in australasia? That's walking outside without sunblock and being burned in six minutes by the UV radiation! Sure we may not be feeling it in the northern hemisphere, but directly under the ozone hole (Australia / New Zealand) effects have definately been felt. What's that have to do with greenhouse gases? That's ozone reduction.
... --- ...
[ Parent ]
Sharp Climate Change (3.66 / 3) (#35)
by fsh on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 11:12:40 AM EST

I would love to have a nuclear reactor in my back yard. I am familiar with the risks and benefits of these clean power generators which don't pollute.

Any change in the overall climactic pattern is preceded by a very weird climate for a few years. In different areas of the world, the local temperature could rise or fall, and the rainfall levels could substainally rise or fall. IE, just because you're experiencing unusually cold weather doesn't mean that we're not hitting an overall warming trend. Of course, it also doesn't mean that we're entering a cooling trend.

This data comes from two separate sources, the ice core data and the current weather models. While the weather models can't accurately predict the weather in advance, this is mostly because of a lack of point sources. Chaos theory shows that the less accurate your starting data is, the faster the reiterative model will fail to produce accurate forecasting data. However, if you're just trying to figure out what would happen if...., then the models are pretty good. And the models show a chaotic period before the climate settles around it's new center point.

For anyone who is familiar with fractint, check out the lorenz attractor. This is a *very* simplified weather model (more of a pressure model, really, but it applies to weather) to see how there can be a chaotic transition from one stable level to another.

Here's the link to Fractint, a fractal geometry program made by the Stone Soup Group.
-fsh
[ Parent ]

Umm... (3.00 / 1) (#125)
by ChannelX on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 11:38:36 PM EST

...you're sadly misinformed if you think global warming means that you're not gonna have ice in your front yard. please read on the subject *then* get back to us.

[ Parent ]
I'd rather a nuke in my yard than a coal station (3.00 / 1) (#142)
by leonbrooks on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 07:23:00 AM EST

Lets put ta reactor in your back yard.
Good idea, it's much safer than a coal station. Muja (a coal power station 200km south of where I sit) eats 12 tonnes of Uranium every year, to say nothing of Radon (also released during mining) and other radioactives. And they've just built another one next to it. I'd suspect other fossil stations of not doing fantastically better than that.

I don't recall seeing a nuke lose 12 tonnes of anything in a year, even once. Can you imagine the oscillating that would go on if a nuke lost 12 kilos of something radioactive?
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]

The opposite of FUD = (3.00 / 7) (#19)
by timefactor on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 08:50:08 AM EST

EIO. Everything Is OK.

- I cannot believe in the existence of God, despite all the statistics. - Borges
Is this a troll? (2.41 / 17) (#22)
by maketo on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 09:50:43 AM EST

I cannot explaint it otherwise - you cant be _this_ ignorant, right? I dont know whether to laugh or cry...
agents, bugs, nanites....see the connection?
Then cite the evidence (4.25 / 4) (#25)
by Simon Kinahan on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 10:26:01 AM EST

I don't beleive the author is ignorant. Since you clearly do, please cite the countervailing evidence. While the author has not been particularly careful, serious doubt can be cast on both the evidence for global warming and program for action contained in the Kyoto accords.

While there is evidence of rising temperatures over the past few years, and for increasing CO2 cocentrations in the atmosphere, there is no evidence connecting the two and the temperature evidence is in doubt anyway as ground based and sattelite readings do not agree.

As regards the program of action semi-agreed at Kyoto, it is unclear that reducing emissions is the best way to reduce temperatures even if they are rising.

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]
uhhh (1.40 / 5) (#28)
by retinaburn on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 10:36:02 AM EST

We put extra bad stuff in the sky, the ozone depletes because of floating bad stuff and the un-natual (at least in quantity) bad stuff traps in more heat. These as far as I am aware are undeniable facts. Now follow along..

If the bad stuff traps in more heat then the earth gets hotter ...then ice melts and we drown.


I think that we are a young species that often fucks with things we don't know how to unfuck. -- Tycho


[ Parent ]
But they aren't undeniable facts (3.75 / 4) (#46)
by weirdling on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 01:11:14 PM EST

It is assumed that increased CO2 is related to increased temperature, but whether temperatures are going up globally or not is in doubt, where that CO2 comes from is in doubt (volcanoes, heated water, buncha sources other than human), and since a correlation cannot be established, even the 'correlation doesn't imply causality' statement doesn't apply.
The fact is that there isn't a shred of scientific evidence to back up the global warming theory, just lots of elegan models that may or may not be correct and may or may not be running on faulty data. This isn't science.

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
Just for a moment (2.66 / 3) (#52)
by retinaburn on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 02:03:10 PM EST

Forget the CO2 emissions, what about all the other nasty things 'we' have put up there, with no other attributable source. CFC's, etc. These are 'known' to have a negative effect. To believe that spewing chemicals and altering the natural balance DOESN'T have a negative effect on our surroundings is in my opinion ludicrious (unless increased cancer risks, and the like are a positive effect)

Humans do expel more CO2 artificially every year than the previous year. We have a decent idea what C02 does in the environment...pumping a whole lot more up is NOT a good thing.

The way I see it is this: Say we don't know 'for sure' whether what we do harms the environment, we curb our behaviour anyways and never know. OR We don't do anything, use styrofoam containers, use air-conditioning year round, hell spray CFC's as a fertilizer and wait for definitive proof. 'IF' that ever materializes theres a 50-50 chance we will be too late...yeah thats a good reason.

I think that we are a young species that often fucks with things we don't know how to unfuck. -- Tycho


[ Parent ]
Unless, of course, CO2 is *good* for us... (4.40 / 5) (#57)
by weirdling on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 02:38:13 PM EST

Hard to believe, but most of the anti-CO2 rhetoric is aimed at the internal combustion engine and electricity generation, two parts of an industrial society. These are the same type of people that randomly attack other parts of society that they don't like; witness the anti-smoking campaigns, the anti-gun campaigns, anti-paper campaigns.
They all turn on faulty logic, which is to say that if we don't do something, something might happen. The problem is that there is no clear idea of what we should do, and doing it costs a lot.
In CO2, doing it hurts an economy, and, as other posters have pointed out, some economies can ill bear being hurt. With smoking, doing it removes someone's rights. I have a lot of smoker friends, and they are all pissed off that the government is trying to tell them what to do. With guns, doing it is removing a way of enjoying one's self and also a way of defending one's self as well as a certain amount of personal authority. With paper, it is often ignored that paper has carbon in it, and putting paper in landfills removes carbon from the air. Besides, pulp is normally made from trees grown for that purpose, not virgin timber, because it really doesn't matter what kind of wood you use for paper.
My problem is that you are taking away things I like because a) you don't have the same attatchment to them and b) a problem *might* happen if we don't.
Well, removing CO2 emissions from the atmosphere *may* result in cooling temperatures. If temperatures *aren't* rising, it's going to get pretty cold in equatorial Africa.
And, of course, all this is predicated on the idea that man makes all that big of a difference, which can easily be called into question as one volcano emits far more than man does in a year.
Further, doing something can be as easy as painting your own house a reflective color. We don't need to reduce CO2 emissions to fix the problem. Planting trees and painting houses could have a *huge* impact, at least locally.
However, I urge caution until we know that we need to do this or we may all be out painting our houses black to avoid the next ice-age.

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
Insanity (1.40 / 5) (#66)
by retinaburn on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 04:02:36 PM EST

These are the same type of people that randomly attack other parts of society that they don't like; witness the anti-smoking campaigns, the anti-gun campaigns, anti-paper campaigns.

These 'types' of people are not 'randomly' attacking parts of society. They are no different than 'your' kind insisting that its necessary to carry a Fully Automatic Machine Gun with Armor piercing, hollow point rounds strapped to your chest in a Kwiki-Mart.

In CO2, doing it hurts an economy

Economies aren't 'hurt' they change theres a difference.

With smoking, doing it removes someone's rights. I have a lot of smoker friends, and they are all pissed off that the government is trying to tell them what to do.

It is your right to smoke or not, it is not your right to damage those around you because you are smoking. It is also within the right of others to not have smoke near them. The government protects the people from you, and you from the people. If it is illegal to smoke in a bar then it is because enough people lobbied to have that law passed because they felt they were better off not inhaling someones smokes. If you don't like it because 'its infringing on my rights' then lobby to have it changed instead of bitching. It is still your right to smoke though. I smoke and I still believe this.

With paper, it is often ignored that paper has carbon in it, and putting paper in landfills removes carbon from the air. Besides, pulp is normally made from trees grown for that purpose, not virgin timber, because it really doesn't matter what kind of wood you use for paper.

I'm not sure what point you are trying to make ...seems like ramblings, please clarify.

My problem is that you are taking away things I like because a) you don't have the same attatchment to them and b) a problem *might* happen if we don't.

Whatever we do has an affect on the environment around us. Some may be good, some may be bad. But I trust 'mother nature' alot better than I trust 'man', she's got a far better record at running a planet than we do.

I wish to change the way things work because I want to protect 'my rights'. I want to have an ozone in 50 years. I want to be able to see the sky when I visit a major city instead of smog that chokes me and causes asthma and burns my eyes.

You have a coin. If its heads you get a chocolate bar, if its tails you get shot in the head. Do you flip the coin ? I'm not willing to flip a coin with the environment. We reduce our impact on the environment for good and bad until we know more. AND within reasonable measures so don't even go there...

As for the gun argument I would rather not get into that whole mess. How often does someone get the chance to defend themselves with their gun if they are mugged ? What about in a drive-by ? How about when you're in the bank and robbers come in ? When you are sitting watching TV at home and someone breaks in ?

Now unless the crooks are armed with platic forks and spoons from Denny's they got you nailed. They are already cocked, loaded and aiming. Hey how about everyone gets whatever guns they want, and we all walk around with the gun cocked, and aiming it at people as we walk around. Then we will always be able to protect ourselves.

The only reason carrying a gun makes you feel safe is because either no one else is wearing one, or theirs is holstered too.


I think that we are a young species that often fucks with things we don't know how to unfuck. -- Tycho


[ Parent ]
Ok... (3.25 / 4) (#70)
by weirdling on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 04:56:13 PM EST

<--
These are the same type of people that randomly attack other parts of society that they don't like; witness the anti-smoking campaigns, the anti-gun campaigns, anti-paper campaigns.

These 'types' of people are not 'randomly' attacking parts of society. They are no different than 'your' kind insisting that its necessary to carry a Fully Automatic Machine Gun with Armor piercing, hollow point rounds strapped to your chest in a Kwiki-Mart.
-->

A), how is this a bad thing, and B), how do you know it is my type? As to the random attacks, it sure looks that way from my perspective, as none of them have any fundamental compelling reason to do it. As to my type, I would prefer a small revolver to a machine-gun. As to me being able to carry a fully-automatic machine gun with armor piercing rounds *anywhere* without a *truck*, it only shows my point, that there is a lot of disinformation going around. Even that statement is misleading, because I speak of a .50 BMG or a 40MM buzz saw or some like, which are considered armor-piercing by the military, while you may be talking of something that can go through a bullet-proof vest, which my .300 Weatherby hunting rifle would do nicely. Truth is that a skilled shooter can kill as many with a semi-automatic pistol as with a machine-gun if there is no effective response.

As to the smoking stuff, I was referring to the suing into oblivion, which was rather clearly motivated to cause 'big tobacco' problems; further, current anti-smoking lobbies advocate taxes to reduce tobacco consumption, which is clearly a violation of smoker's rights. I have nothing against banning smoking in public places as long as there are places smokers *can* go to smoke and relax.

Anti-paper have a knee-jerk reaction that paper destroys trees and therefore is bad. It was my intention to demonstrate that the use of paper isn't necessarily bad in an environmental context.

<--
You have a coin. If its heads you get a chocolate bar, if its tails you get shot in the head. Do you flip the coin ? I'm not willing to flip a coin with the environment. We reduce our impact on the environment for good and bad until we know more. AND within reasonable measures so don't even go there...
-->

My point was that this is exactly what you are doing. We don't know if the environment will be aided by reduction in CO2 emissions, so it is possible that when you flip the coin, you will trigger an ice age. It is just as possible that that will happen given the current data as that it will fix global warming. Both are unlikely, though, but there are huge economic downsides that *will* happen *for sure* if we flip that coin.

<--
As for the gun argument I would rather not get into that whole mess. How often does someone get the chance to defend themselves with their gun if they are mugged ? What about in a drive-by ? How about when you're in the bank and robbers come in ? When you are sitting watching TV at home and someone breaks in ?
Now unless the crooks are armed with platic forks and spoons from Denny's they got you nailed. They are already cocked, loaded and aiming. Hey how about everyone gets whatever guns they want, and we all walk around with the gun cocked, and aiming it at people as we walk around. Then we will always be able to protect ourselves.
-->

According to numbers published in 'America's First Freedom', as quoted from US government crime statistics, the number of recorded defensive uses of guns are slightly higher than the number of recorded homicides. Several of my friends have used guns in defense and I have chased off a prowler with one, although I was not endangered as I later discovered. None of us ever fired a shot, which is also pretty common. The poiint is that I have the right.
As to drive-bys, these are done by *criminals* who already own their guns *illegally*.
Most break-ins in a home are burglaries, not robberies. Your having a gun will practically guarantee they will flee. In a robbery, if you exchange gunfire, you will survive about 85% of the time if hit and the criminal will survive around 17% of the time if hit. The odds are in your favor.
As to the question of safety with guns, if, say 10% of society has a gun and knows how to use it, odds are very good that the next time someone wanders in and loads, cocks, and aims, he will be shot before too much damage is done. Of course, that requires that those who have guns know how to use them. I have them; I know how to use them. I will defend my house with them if necessary, and that resolve will make your life safer because it raises the barrier-to-entry for violent crime.
I know this isn't a debate about guns, but it is a debate about misinformation and spin, both tactics of which have been used against everything from asbestos to guns to global warming to anti-paper rallies to anti-corporation tactics to anti-smoking rallies. The statement that 'something must be done because something might happen' is illogical and doomed to create more problems than it solves. When someone says of the global warming debate, 'Here, exactly, is the raise in temperature, and the data are unassailable, and here is how much less CO2 that is needed in the air, and here is how much trees, &c. will affect it, and here is our projection and alternate solutions and their projections', then will I believe we can act without placing ourselves in potentially greater jeopardy.

I think your statement that mother nature is good at avoiding these things is apt, if possibly incorrect, as the dinosaurs would likely testify under oath, for the actual increase in temperature will result in greater cloudiness, potentially lower ocean levels, no real change in ice caps (I know the northern ones are melting, but this is easily due to current changes, not temperature), and improvements in agriculture. The doom and gloom projected is based on the idea that mother nature *can't* handle these and we must step in to deal with it, which is just more man-monkeying that can go horribly wrong.


I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
You have got to be kidding me (2.50 / 2) (#126)
by ChannelX on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 11:48:11 PM EST

We don't know if the environment will be aided by reduction in CO2 emissions, so it is possible that when you flip the coin, you will trigger an ice age.
You do realize of course that the arctic ice has melted by approximately 45%? You also realize that for the first time in recorded history that there is open water up there?

I can't believe that people would rather piss around waiting to see if something is going to happen instead of working on the problem now which buys us two things: less damage to the environment and more effecient use of materials. What is going to happen when everyone in India or Chine wants to live like Joe Average in the US? Do you have any clue how much of the worlds resources the US consumes?

[ Parent ]

Rubbish. (4.50 / 2) (#175)
by sec on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 11:57:30 PM EST

You also realize that for the first time in recorded history that there is open water up there?

Back in the 50's, the submarine Skate surfaced near the North Pole in a patch of open water.

I don't know about you, but I thought recorded history went back a lot further than 40 years.



[ Parent ]

Anecdotal evidence (5.00 / 1) (#193)
by weirdling on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 12:43:25 PM EST

<--
You do realize of course that the arctic ice has melted by approximately 45%? You also realize that for the first time in recorded history that there is open water up there?
-->

This is, indeed, true. However, the arctic area is a tiny percentage of the globe. Did you know that antarctic ice caps are growing? And that they have been for nearly as long as the arctic has been melting? The earth is perhaps on one of its second or third order precessions, wherein the north pole wanders closer to the sun than the south pole for a while. Anyway, it will take a rather severe warming for the temperature of the air to have any effect at all on ice caps. What the arctic melt most likely means is that one of the ocean currents has changed direction. Since the warmth of the water has a lot to do with the speed of the melting, we can safely assume that the most likely cause of the melting is that a warmer current has for some reason or another, rerouted itself under the pole, as happens from time to time.
However, since the average temperature of the oceans worldwide doesn't seem to have gone up, it is easily perceived as a localized phenomena and doesn't require drastic action to correct.

<--
I can't believe that people would rather piss around waiting to see if something is going to happen instead of working on the problem now which buys us two things: less damage to the environment and more effecient use of materials. What is going to happen when everyone in India or Chine wants to live like Joe Average in the US? Do you have any clue how much of the worlds resources the US consumes?
-->

First, one of the problems with the Kyoto accords is its total ignorance of China and India. If China and India were to live like Joe Average in the US, their output of CO2 would significantly *decrease*. The fact is that both China and India have a per-capita emission of CO2 that is orders of magnitude higher than in the US, which is actually one of the more efficient countries on a per-production basis. Essentially, the Kyoto accords needlessly punish the US and the rest of the West, when China and India are major offenders.
That being said, the question of damage to the environment isn't settled. The question of where the bulk of the CO2 is coming from isn't settled. The question as to whether any other gases affect it isn't settled. The question as to whether planting trees helps or not and to what extent isn't settled.
As to more efficient use of materials, that will come with time anyway. Forcing it now would be hideously expensive, and unwarranted in the face of the current amount of discussion ongoing in the global warming debate.
See, people who are for 'doing something' do not realize that the global-warming theorists have us as balanced on the edge of a knife, which may or may not be true, but the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere may affect the temperature to the degree they insist, in which case, if the truth is that the temperature is *not* rising, or if a miscalculation is made in how much CO2 should be cut, we *can* create an ice age.
Fortunately, I don't think that is the way this world works. First, humans do not emit the majority of greenhouse gases. Volcanoes and ruminants (cows, elephants, anything else that lives on grass) do. This is also true of the ozone layer. So, whether reducing our CO2 emissions would or not have any effect really isn't known. Second, the earth has a built-in thermostat or we wouldn't have survived this long. When it gets cold, the clouds tend to disappear, and the earth absorbs more heat. When it heats up, the clouds tend to increase, and the earth absorbs less heat. It is almost universally accepted amongst those not in the global warming camp that one degree hotter would be a good thing, not a bad thing.
As to the use of the raw materials, that is something that is the result of a strong economy. I do not see any real reason to destroy our economy here in the US simply because others believe there might be a problem and reduction of CO2 might fix it. It doesn't really matter how catastrophic things might be. A good-sized meteor might destroy earth, and while a healthy space presence could help prevent it, I don't see these same people out picketing for more rockets launched. As long as all our eggs are in one basket, that basket is in danger, and we are going to have to watch it closely, but prudence must prevail over panic and we must use scientific means to determine the threat, not merely looking at a specific example and pointing it as proof. There are plenty of cheap, quick engineering responses to this problem that do not require reductions in CO2 emissions, and, should at some time, the global warming theory be proven correct, these can be employed. Until then, I get the feeling that the global warming people are far more interested in the demise of the internal combustion engine and the American way of life than they are planetary survival.

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
CO2 and paper (3.33 / 3) (#77)
by janra on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 09:02:59 PM EST

Unless, of course, CO2 is *good* for us...

Well, we do need a certain amount, as it triggers the breathing reflex. But CO2 is poisonous - you get too much in the air and people start getting sleepy, headachey, and as quantities increase they eventually die. Generally considered a bad thing, no? :-)

Besides, pulp is normally made from trees grown for that purpose, not virgin timber, because it really doesn't matter what kind of wood you use for paper.

Frequently, yes. It's also made from recycled paper and (very frequently) waste chips from sawmills. But the type of wood used does make a difference. The fibers are similar but not the same between different types of wood - for example, hemlock fibers are small tubes with relatively thick walls, while cedar fibers are relatively large tubes with thin walls. As my supervisor at the pulp mill put it, 'would you rather wipe yourself with ribbons or steel rods?' Paper made from cedar is more expensive, at least on the plant side of things (I have no idea how much cedar chips cost when compared to hemlock or fir, so I can't comment on that). Because it has such thin walls, it tends to collapse into ribbons, making the water drain out of it much more slowly, which means that the machine has to run a lot slower to get the pulp to the same water content, which means that for the same amount of time and money put in they get less product out...

Ok, enough of that.

Further, doing something can be as easy as painting your own house a reflective color. We don't need to reduce CO2 emissions to fix the problem. Planting trees and painting houses could have a *huge* impact, at least locally.

Both are needed, I think. CO2 is not only a greenhouse gas, when dissolved in water it's an acid (though SO2 is more of a problem in this particular). Doing just one isn't enough - planting trees and painting houses will make cities nicer, but letting that plant/factory/whatever a few miles away spew out CO2 will make things worse for the rest of the world.


--
Discuss the art and craft of writing
That's the problem with world domination... Nobody is willing to wait for it anymore, work slowly towards it, drink more and enjoy the ride more.
[ Parent ]
Ozone depletion and CO2 (5.00 / 2) (#104)
by Simon Kinahan on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 11:43:42 AM EST

Ozone depletion is undeniable. I'm not arguing about that, and neither was the author of the article unless I missed it. Some doubt can be cast on the cause, but there's enough evidence that CFCs are to blame that eliminating them is a reasonable precauation.

I am arguing about global warming. Climate change is an undeniable fact. Its been going on for thousands of years, and is not likely to stop. Temperatures in northern europe have varied so widely that at one time you could grow grapes for wine in Yorkshire, and at another time the river Thames used to freeze in the winter. There is no evidence - not even a probable causal mechanism - by which current levels of CO2 emissions could perturb the normal variation by any significant amound.

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]
Education is an asset (2.00 / 6) (#31)
by maketo on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 10:53:24 AM EST

I am beginning to propagate this more and more through my neural network layers. Even in geography 110 here at entry level university, in an en masse used textbook for first-year students, the link between CFCs and ozone layer depletion is established as a fact. Same goes between emissions, trapping of heat and global warming. It is evident it is hapenning. Trying to shift-away from the blame is another miserable attempt of the wealthy countries to deny the responsibiity they have for this situation. You really have to be _ignorant_ and pretend that tons of different polutants we exhauts into the atmosphere was something that the planet was designed to take and that there will be no problems, in time. While we sit and argue whether it is something we did or did not, the Earth is disappearing right from infront of our noses. The more I read posting such as the author, who by the way is an authority on global warming and the environment because he cleans toxic waste (hey, I have cleaned penguines during an oil spill, that makes me an expert on global warming too!), the more I believe that CONSERVATION 101 should be a part of any COMPULSORY high-school and university curriculum. So should be ETHICS 101.
agents, bugs, nanites....see the connection?
[ Parent ]
Well (3.50 / 4) (#36)
by finkployd on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 11:39:00 AM EST

Scientists disagree quite a bit on this topic. Most people's beliefs on global warming are founded in politics, not actual science. Also, the elitist attitude you take with anyone disagree with you is somewhat damaging to your position. Would it not be better to debate the facts (and sources) we know than to name call?

Finkployd
Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
[ Parent ]
Science books are often wrong (4.20 / 5) (#47)
by weirdling on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 01:15:09 PM EST

Books written for a smattering of science are often written for politically-motivated, not scientific ends. The statement that CFCs were destroying the ozone layer was actually demonstrable, although there was a lot of debate as to whether it was *our* CFCs, or volcanoes. In the end, it turned out to be the rash of volcanoes, which, incidentally, produce most of the greenhouse gases, followed by animals, then humans.
My HS history book said that the USS Constitution and her sister ships stopped the Barbary pirates from requiring money from American ships. However, this is not so. The dreadnought class of ships that came after the Constitution class heavy frigate, in conjuction with those heavy frigates, stopped the Barbary pirates. The Constitution and her sisters merely got us a discount.
That a school book is inaccurate should not come as a surprise to anyone who has been through an 'intro to computers' course.

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
Science textbooks are also often right... (4.50 / 2) (#110)
by plutronic on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 04:55:27 PM EST

There is a good amount of science which (rational) humans are relativly certain has at least some element of fact behind it, though there is no science which (again, rational) humans accept as unquestionable fact. Gravity is not known to be a true phenomenon, but science has taken the bold risk of assuming (for the sake of calculation) that is is true, because there has been no evidence or theory which disproves it as a phenomenon. And the same holds for most of the science which is published. Your argument is sadly similar to an 'ad hominum' argument; i.e. because some fallacies are published in a science textbook exist, then all information published in that medium is either wrong, or very suspect.

When it comes to science, always keep in mind that true science never establishes fact, it only develops theories which best explain natural phenomenon. Those theories are rejected if a new theory better explains nature, or new instruments allowing new measurments or greater precision in existing measurments break the theory down. Science, in short, is not about fact; science is about the attempt to approximate fact with the most reasonable and most supportable theory that can be established at a period in time.

-------sig----
DeCSS
[ Parent ]

You misunderstand (4.00 / 2) (#184)
by Simon Kinahan on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 09:30:51 AM EST

The person you were replying to was not arguing that presence in a science textbooks is evidence that something is not true: clealy that would be absurd. He was countering someone who cited the presence of material in undergraduate and high school courses as evidence of its indisputal truth.

Thats clearly nonsense. Anyone here who ever sat through a high school "computers" class will know that.

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]
Right... (4.00 / 4) (#48)
by regeya on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 01:16:01 PM EST

You landed in my trap. I'm working up a story here, but I'm going to show my hand here and hit you with something here:

Even in geography 110 here at entry level university, in an en masse used textbook for first-year students, the link between CFCs and ozone layer depletion is established as a fact.

Ever seen old science textbooks referring to the canals of Mars, the rainforests of Venus, etc? I've seen them. People used to accept those claims as fact. And really, those claims were based on observed phenomena.

The real danger is that, right now, you're basing your statement on something you read in a textbook. I don't know how many times I've dealt with people who will criticise others for spiritual beliefs, and then speak of scientific knowledge as fact. Unless you've done the studies yourself, verified that yes, without a shadow of a doubt the tests we've done verify that this is indeed the case (frogs come from rain, y'know) then you're accepting something you've not observed on faith.

The author may have been a troll, yes, but he reminded me that I need to finish writing that article. :-) People are all too willing to denounce various forms of spirituality as ridiculous superstition, yet accept scientific "fact" in the same manner that others accept religion.

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
[ Parent ]

Pollution (4.00 / 1) (#185)
by Simon Kinahan on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 09:52:55 AM EST

What exactly is the basis for assuming that all emissions are pollution - in the sense of being "bad" ? Humans and animals emit all kinds of things all the time. Why are the differences made by human industrial civilisations bad, whereas those made by life forms and by volcanos OK ? The planet, after all, was not "designed" any way at all: it just turned out like this, and most of its systems have survived much worse than we're putting it through. Supervolcanoes, asteroid ipmacts and ice ages all probably have far more impact on the ecosystem that anything we have ever done.

I do not see the precautionary principle: the idea that we should avoid changing anything unless we have definite scientific evidence that it is OK, as a sound basis for decision making. We can never have scientific evidence that anything is entirely safe. There might always be harmful effects we did not anticipate, so we must proceed on the basis of what seems most likely after our best efforts to investigate. Right now, although its certainly possible that human CO2 emissions might tip some balance in the greenhouse effect, it does not seem terribly likely, given the length of time the carbon cycle has been successfuly keeping the planet's tempertaure more or less constant for. Earth's temperate is amazingly stable compared with other planets in the region of 15 degrees celcius on average.

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]
Lack of knowledge doesn't necessitate complacency (4.36 / 11) (#32)
by tweeg on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 10:54:41 AM EST

As a geologist, I agree with the argument that we don't yet understand the extent or causality of short-time-scale global temperature change. All of our paleo-temperature data is on such a greater time scale and lower resolution than our data since the industrial revolution. And we have not yet had enough variation in our CO2 production to see if we can correlate these variations with temperature data.

With that being said, I don't think this at al implies that we shouldn't address the situation urgently. If we decide, "Nah, there's probably no correlation, let's just keep on going as we have been," we might end up fine, but there's a chance that we would be wrong, and end up in a deeper hole, from which it will be very difficult to recover. However, if we decide, "Hey, there might be something to this, let's play it on the safe side, and try to help our world towards sustainability," then we win either way.

If hyping global warming leads to the people of our world adopting a more sustainable, green lifestyle, than I'm all for it.

-jim

What, and risk an ice age? (4.50 / 2) (#45)
by weirdling on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 01:07:36 PM EST

If the CO2 correlation *is* there, but the temperature rise is not, simply reducing CO2 might cause an ice age. The reason for inactivity is that we don't know what activity to take, so there's no sense in wasting time and money on something we don't even *understand*.

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
re: What, and risk an ice age? (4.00 / 1) (#60)
by tweeg on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 02:53:07 PM EST

If the CO2 correlation *is* there, but the temperature rise is not, simply reducing CO2 might cause an ice age. The reason for inactivity is that we don't know what activity to take, so there's no sense in wasting time and money on something we don't even *understand*.

First: if the CO2 correlation *is* there, then the temperature rise has to be there, by definition of correlation.

We are not going to throw ourselves into an man-made ice age by stopping our excessive combustion of dinosaur juice and rainforests.

-jim

[ Parent ]

Correlation != Causality (4.50 / 2) (#71)
by weirdling on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 04:58:59 PM EST

I meant to say causality. Sorry.

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
Oh, yeah, baby. (2.38 / 13) (#37)
by trhurler on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 11:44:04 AM EST

If this is a troll, I'm glad I just voted front page, because there are an amazing number of silly fools who need to learn that what gets posted on cnn.com's science section ain't necessarily so.

If not, I'm still glad I just voted front page, because there are an amazing... nevermind.

Anyway, this article and the links referenced ought to be required reading for anyone who plans to quote the Sierra Club or some similar bullshit crew. It is infinitely entertaining to me to note that while serious scientists studying related fields cannot agree on global warming, the fact that a few politically well connected and funded second-rate losers all say it is Truth[tm] is enough for almost everyone. I'm convinced that one day, these "scientists" are going to buy a super bowl ad. It's going to be 30 seconds long. A black screen, with four big red capital letters on it. "YHBT." Hehe...

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

heh (4.25 / 4) (#44)
by regeya on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 01:06:24 PM EST

That's true, the bit about cnn.com. While I didn't get these from cnn (and I didn't write it down, sorry) within a week's time, I heard two reports, one stating with absolute conviction that we're on the verge of an ice age, the other that we're starting on an unstoppable global warming trend.

My personal hope is that the two absolutely unstoppable forces cancel each other out ;-)

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
[ Parent ]

Do you want to gamble with the planet at stake? (2.87 / 8) (#39)
by gbd on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 11:53:06 AM EST

Sure, there are some inconclusive studies about global warming. But there is plenty of evidence that suggests that humans and their activities do have an impact on the environment (if you doubt this, take in the Los Angeles skyline on a typical day.) The only reasonable conclusion is that we must take common-sense precautions to mitigate the effects of global warming.

Let me put it to you this way: You say that there is absolutely nothing to global warming. I say that there is. If we take my approach and use common-sense steps to mitigate its effects, and if I am wrong, then we will have lost nothing. On the other hand, if we do absolutely nothing and you are wrong, then we will have lost everything. The eventual fate of the planet is far too important to recklessly gamble with. Reasonable environment restrictions are, if nothing else, a safe bet.

--
Gunter glieben glauchen globen.

Everything has a cost (4.50 / 4) (#40)
by fuzzrock on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 12:24:21 PM EST

<<If we take my approach and use common-sense steps to mitigate its effects, and if I am wrong, then we will have lost nothing.>>

The original article (and I as well) actually takes exception to this. There IS a cost associated with most steps to mitigate the effects - and that cost is actually drastically high in some cases. Not so much for those of us who are rich on a global scale (if you are reading this, you are RICH RICH RICH), more for people who make $2 a day.

Maybe you meant something different from me by "reasonable". But most precautions that are thought to actually make a difference are really expensive.

-fuz

[ Parent ]

Gambling goes both ways... (4.25 / 4) (#62)
by seebs on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 03:00:15 PM EST

We're fairly ignorant; are we *that* sure that the actions we take will make things better, not worse? I'm not.


[ Parent ]
If we do nothing, now, and I am wrong.... (3.50 / 4) (#76)
by madgeo on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 07:28:17 PM EST

Then we have other options such as CO2 phytoplankton farming of the oceans as discussed in the Wired magazine article I mentioned in my Op-Ed. Technology is the cure to most future problems.

[ Parent ]
uh... (3.00 / 1) (#129)
by ChannelX on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 11:57:20 PM EST

"Good" technology may be the cure. "Technology" in general includes things like SUVs. It is absolutely disgusting that in the US when gas was really cheap that instead of figuring out how to make vehicles more effecient the major auto manufacturers started selling gas-guzzling SUVs. All the things that we could be doing to combat the chance of global warming will do more than just combat global warming. How about the meteoric rise of athsma among kids in major metro areas? It still amazes me that people keep arguing that we should just sit and wait and keep consuming like we are (in the US). Its really sick.

[ Parent ]
LA skyline and smog (2.00 / 1) (#208)
by rabert on Tue Mar 06, 2001 at 01:18:48 PM EST

Los Angeles has always had a haze over it - even before the spanish settled there. Do your research.

[ Parent ]
Astroturf? (3.85 / 14) (#53)
by Philipp on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 02:06:05 PM EST

The author never posted any stories or comments before, doesn't participate in the discussion, and only cites evidence from industry-funded research. Ahhh... the sweet smell of astroturf...

Seriously. We previously had an discussion here about scientific "proofs", so rail against a well-established and well-founded theory on the bases that "there is no proof", is rather poor.

It is interesting that the question of global warming is only in debate in the US, where there is so much power of industry in the public debate. For pretty much the rest of the world, this is a closed case, the only discussion is about how to stop global warming.

alias kn 'killall -9 netscape-communicator'

Heres (another) reply (3.66 / 6) (#58)
by madgeo on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 02:39:35 PM EST

Global warming being a "well-established and well-founded theory" is highly debatable based on the limited data set available. Just look at the quote I included in my Op-Ed from the 1970s to see how much scientists predictions are good for at this time. And I include ice-cores and the other available means in that assessment.

Of course the rest of the world would love to hobble the US economy with additional regulation in order to compete with us.



[ Parent ]
Nonsense answer. (2.33 / 3) (#79)
by pig bodine on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 09:37:37 PM EST

"They've been wrong about this sort of thing before, therefore they must be wrong now" is not an argument. It's nonsense. Didn't scientists once think that the atom was the smallest indivisible part? Guess that debunks all modern atomic theory, after all if they were wrong once...

[ Parent ]

The difference is... (4.33 / 3) (#89)
by madgeo on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 01:16:02 AM EST

I present that the data has...for all intents and purposes, conclusively demonstrated nothing, both times. Lack of good data in the 70s, lack of good data in 2001.

In fact, arguably, the best data was discovered in the last 22 years (satellites) and in fact appears to fight the global warming evidence.

All that changed was the "spin" and hype. Science does change, its the hype with little solid data that is the real problem. At least with the atom, we had good repeatable measurements. We don't have good repeatable measurements sufficient to determine if we should hurt people in the name of a "theory" that may not exist.

If you look at the big picture, we have been warming since there was glaciers in Yosemite during the last Ice Age!



[ Parent ]
Yes, but... (3.00 / 1) (#241)
by BiOFH on Thu Mar 08, 2001 at 03:04:24 AM EST

..these climate temp increases (and decreases, to be fair) have not been significantly influenced by mankind until now (relative now -- unknown period following industrial revolution and the rise of the automobile).

A 5 to 10 degree temperature increase (according to the last computer modeling reports from the Union of Concerned Scientists) sounds like nothing to the man on the street, but the shifts that you are referencing are nowhere near this severe (global upheavals such as ice ages, etc. are so unique and cataclysmic that they are not valid here). 5 to 10 degrees is more akin to those global upheavals we're not discussing.

PS - Yes, the world has warmed since the Ice Age. You expected otherwise? That 'big picture' is a bit too big (or narrow, depending on your POV).

[ Parent ]
3rd world (2.50 / 6) (#54)
by delmoi on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 02:18:42 PM EST

Get your facts straight. 3rd world contries are exempt from Global Warming treties.
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
My facts are straight (3.00 / 2) (#56)
by madgeo on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 02:29:26 PM EST

The issue is not if the third world coutnries are included, so much as what happens to them when bigger countries cause an over-reaction. i.e. If the gas prices in the US go up and drive world prices up, the poor people in third world countries cannot afford those prices.

[ Parent ]
Hah (2.27 / 11) (#59)
by trhurler on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 02:49:55 PM EST

I read all the comments, and about 10 million times, I see people saying "That's just an industry front group," or "that's just a bunch of greedy businessmen!"

I wonder, do they honestly believe the government funded scientists who destroy any work that doesn't support the government's predetermined answer that yes, global warming exists are any better? I mean, the government HAS an agenda - they want a pretext to regulate us ever more tightly, to control our lives even more, and so on. And yet these idiots act like the government is their infinitely wise friend and business is all evil all the time.

What a bunch of deluded twits... seriously, folks, if you go to places that are receiving neither huge government grants nor huge industry grants, you find that the scientists there are largely undecided about global warming. Most of them think government action that will cause any significant side effect is foolhardy. But don't let that bother you; the government's boys say it is happening, therefore it IS, right?

"Morons. Pathetic morons in my employ, stealing my precious money!"

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

Related link... (2.00 / 3) (#65)
by seebs on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 03:26:32 PM EST

The Denver <A HREF="http://www.rockymountainnews.com/">Rocky Mountain News</A> has an article today about the Honda Insight, their 70mpg car... which is overwhelmingly driven by Republicans, not Greens. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be a link to it anywhere on the site.

Thats because (1.50 / 2) (#88)
by doormat on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 12:46:01 AM EST

Rebpublicans are cheap bastards! =^) I know, I am a cheap bastard myself. They'll spend the $20K on the car and only spend $20 on gas a month instead of $45-$50. =^)
|\
|/oormat

[ Parent ]
Greenhouse Effect (4.18 / 11) (#67)
by anewc2 on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 04:10:19 PM EST

Studying global warming through historical temperatures is like driving down the road keeping your eyes glued to the rear-view mirror. Now maybe the front windshield is still foggy, but at least science gives us a road map.

Start with the greenhouse effect. We know it exists and keeps us alive. A simple calculation shows that solar luminosity alone can only sustain a average surface temperature of –28° C rather than the observed 10° C.

We know what causes it. The various "greenhouse gases" are transparent to the high-frequency photons coming in from the sun, and opaque to the lower frequency photons radiated out into space by the earth. This much is well-accepted theory. We know further that at least one greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide, has measurably increased in the last half-century or so as our industrial civilization has spread, and it is continuing to increase. That is a well-attested observation.

The question for global warming is not if, but when? Debunk the argument, or answer the question. If you can't do either, then don't complain about those who are at least trying to locate the cliff before we drive over it.


The world's biggest fool can say the sun is shining, but that doesn't make it dark out. -- Robert Pirsig

greenhouse gases (3.66 / 3) (#78)
by janra on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 09:07:24 PM EST

I've seen those figures before... I also recall that water vapour is one of the biggest sources of heat retention in our atmosphere, because it has a fairly high heat capacity. And there's a lot more water vapour in our atmosphere than there is CO2.


--
Discuss the art and craft of writing
That's the problem with world domination... Nobody is willing to wait for it anymore, work slowly towards it, drink more and enjoy the ride more.
[ Parent ]
Water vapor (3.00 / 2) (#158)
by anewc2 on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 02:25:55 PM EST

But the water vapor is not systematically increasing the way the CO2 is. Its influence on the greenhouse effect is relatively constant. The influence of CO2 is growing.

The world's biggest fool can say the sun is shining, but that doesn't make it dark out. -- Robert Pirsig
[ Parent ]
just found something... (3.00 / 1) (#254)
by janra on Fri Mar 09, 2001 at 12:06:10 PM EST

I was looking up something for my pollution prevention class, and I came across this page.

I actually thought you were right, and I was just pointing out the bit about water because it was interesting, but apparently atmospheric water vapour (at northern hemisphere mid-latitudes) has been increasing over 'the last 14 years' (ca. 1994) in the stratosphere, which stimulates the formation of polar clouds which help halocarbons destroy ozone, as well as doing its usual job of absorbing and holding solar radiation as heat. I wonder if there's been an update to that report...


--
Discuss the art and craft of writing
That's the problem with world domination... Nobody is willing to wait for it anymore, work slowly towards it, drink more and enjoy the ride more.
[ Parent ]
A couple more questions: (4.00 / 5) (#80)
by roystgnr on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 10:04:52 PM EST

The various "greenhouse gases" are transparent to the high-frequency photons coming in from the sun, and opaque to the lower frequency photons radiated out into space by the earth. This much is well-accepted theory.

Well-accepted, incompletely stated theory. How much infrared radiation in the bands currently blocked by CO2 is getting through? If the answer is 90%, then doubling the amount of CO2 in the air is going to block 99% of those bands, not 180%.

How many sources of positive feedback (infrared absorptivity of increased water vapor, reduced CO2 absorption in warmer oceans, reduced albedo from shrinking icecaps, increased forest fires from temperature) are in the system, and how much effect do they have?

How many sources of negative feedback (diminishing returns from increased greenhouse gas levels, increased plant growth from higher CO2 and rain levels, decreased forest fires from rain, increased albedo from cloud cover, increased radiation emission from higher temperatures, etc.) are in the system, and how much effect do they have?

How many sources of noise (volcanic eruptions, volcanic outgassing, forest fires, solar output variations) are in the system, and do they dwarf or are they dwarfed by human involvement?

The question for global warming is not if, but when?

Can you answer my questions above? I mean them seriously, because I think the "if" question is still open. If asked to guess myself, I'd say that global warming will occur, but I'd be hard pressed to say whether it will be 2 degrees or .2 degrees. Even if the answer to "if" is "yes", then the question of "how much" is still extremely important.

If you can't do either, then don't complain about those who are at least trying to locate the cliff before we drive over it.

A lot of people are trying to locate the cliff. A few others claim to have inferred the existance of a cliff, and want us to throw away the car.

[ Parent ]

A couple more answers (4.00 / 1) (#157)
by anewc2 on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 02:22:39 PM EST

How much infrared radiation in the bands currently blocked by CO2 is getting through? If the answer is 90%, then doubling the amount of CO2 in the air is going to block 99% of those bands, not 180%.
Essentially all of the radiation gets absorbed. Then it gets re-radiated again, some to the sky, some to the ground. Then it may get absorbed again, and re-radiated again, and so on. The important question is, how many times? The answer is, about 2. Increasing CO2 has its temperature effect by increasing this value. The book Consider a Spherical Cow has a calculation that a doubling of atmospheric CO2 is likely to lead to a 1.4 K rise in surface temperature, concluding "Given the range in uncertainties in this calculation, a round-number range of values from 1 to 2 K is appropriate." This sees to be in the ballpark of more sophisticated models.

CO2 concentration has risen by about 0.39% per year since 1958, as measured at Mauna Loa. At that rate it will double in about 180 years. Given the tremendous job of changing our petroleum-based economy to one more sustainable, and the tremendous costs of evem small temperature changes, and the uncertainty of this number, I think now is not too soon to start.

How many sources of positive feedback (infrared absorptivity of increased water vapor, reduced CO2 absorption in warmer oceans, reduced albedo from shrinking icecaps, increased forest fires from temperature) are in the system, and how much effect do they have?

How many sources of negative feedback (diminishing returns from increased greenhouse gas levels, increased plant growth from higher CO2 and rain levels, decreased forest fires from rain, increased albedo from cloud cover, increased radiation emission from higher temperatures, etc.) are in the system, and how much effect do they have?
The calculation above neglects feedback or noise effects, which are the source of much of the uncertainty and controversy. Suppose the increased cloud cover, say, exactly balances the increased greenhouse effect, for no net temperature change. But this too has costs: what happens to agriculture with reduced sunlight?

My point is that the burden of proof is on those who would say no problem, given the logic of the situation.

A lot of people are trying to locate the cliff. A few others claim to have inferred the existance of a cliff, and want us to throw away the car.
Then there are those who question the sanity of playing chickie run in the first place.


The world's biggest fool can say the sun is shining, but that doesn't make it dark out. -- Robert Pirsig
[ Parent ]

Taihen na.... (3.77 / 9) (#68)
by oleandrin on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 04:23:09 PM EST

I generally do not recycle, I do not give to environmental organizations, and I do not agree with environmentalists.

I accept your views on the second and third points, but why not the first? Are you a fan of suburban landfills? Surely, as someone in the hazardous waste cleanup industry, you've probably seen some bad, bad stuff. A relative of mine does the same kind of thing; while working at a certain military base which will remain unnamed, they discovered a forgotten stash of old chemical weaponry... directly beneath a newly-constructed barracks. For whatever reason, the military decided to err on the side of caution and have the hazardous waste people examine huge chunks of the area--cases like the above show that because of this, they have avoided potentially disastrous situations.

Should we simply assume that there is no problem, and continue dumping all our polymers into landfills and pumping the sky full of greenhouse gases, only to later find out that that particular course of action was really, really bad? Who do you trust more--industry scientists or government scientists? Can you honestly say that the immeasurable quantity of greenhouse gases ejected into the atmosphere over the past few hundred years has had no effect on the planet, therefore we should keep spitting them out?

All scientific theories are refined over time. Producing a quote from a 30-year-old geography textbook and using it to "prove" that today's theories are wrong is questionable at best.

BTW, perhaps coincidentally, today's Salon has an article on truth in global warming.

Well said, but.... (2.25 / 4) (#75)
by madgeo on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 06:45:55 PM EST

I do not recycle because my time is worth more money than running to the recycler will pay me, and I do my share for the environment (way more than most people). It is also my opinion, readily proven by many examples, that technology will solve most if not all of the environmental problems given a little time. An example would be landfills that are now being used as methane energy sources for power. I am quite confident landfills will find their use(s) in the future.

My citation of a 70 year old textbook shows what scientists "knew" at that time, which is now been catagorically reversed in what they know. My point is if they are wrong then, what makes them right now, when there is contradictory evidence.

Another point: the government is and for all intents always has been the worst polluter. If the government would clean up its act, industry would look like angels.

Thanks for the Salon article, more grist for thought.



[ Parent ]
Recycling Programs (4.00 / 1) (#91)
by nurglich on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 02:59:54 AM EST

I'd have to agree that the time spent hauling your own recyclables to the recycler is not worth the money they give you. However, this is why I applaud programs such as the one in my home town. Recyclables are picked up one day a week, just like garbage. Assuming you have a basic system to seperate types of stuff (paper, plastic, glass) as you use them, it takes all of about ten minutes a week to bag the stuff and put it on the curb. You do pay a small fee, but its all included in the same bill as the rest of your city utilities. And you don't really make much money from recycling anyway. And while landfills will most likely be used for something else in the future, its best to keep each one active as long as possible, as its a HUGE bitch to get a new one built when the old one is filled up. Plus, the less garbage, the better.

------------------------------------------
"There are no bad guys or innocent guys. There's just a bunch of guys!" --Ben Stiller, Zero Effect

[ Parent ]
One word... Plastics (3.00 / 1) (#128)
by cpt kangarooski on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 11:55:18 PM EST

I think recycling's great, and there really ought to be more of it for some stuff. (metals, notably - I have distant relatives who were junk men) I'm not really in favor of plastics recycling yet, though. Not because I think it's a bad idea, but because I think that the timing may be poor. Generally, plastics are produced with petroleum, but another major use of the stuff is as fuels. Consumed fuel petroleum however is not useful for making plastic, and can't be recycled. Plastics at least can be recycled and reused - perhaps many times. Thus I'd prefer that plastics be stockpiled, with an eye towards future recycling and with serious research done into recycling processes. Eventually, as petroleum reserves run dry, by not recycling much, we can have a larger stockpile of plastics for future recycling and usage than we would if we had recycled in the first place. That doesn't mean tossing the stuff in a landfill of course - many aspects of a recycling program would remain - just that no recycled plastics would enter the marketplace until there was no alternative. Contacts in the petroleum industry tell me that they'd actually like to do something like that (after all, they know a lot about the stuff, and expect that they'd not be bad at recycling it on very large scales either) but that they don't for various other reasons. (from which I infer the negative PR by saying "Don't recycle," and political/economic reasons attached to that) Just my thought though - feel free to tear it apart.

--
All my posts including this one are in the public domain. I am a lawyer. I am not your lawyer, and this is not legal advice.
[ Parent ]
who cares about global warming anyway (1.30 / 10) (#69)
by alprazolam on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 04:29:22 PM EST

we'll all be dead in 100 years in any case. now if you make a living off global warming stuff then i understand making a big deal about it.

political science... (4.00 / 9) (#72)
by ana on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 05:24:58 PM EST

And I'm not talking about the study of politics.

It's always a bad thing IMO when scientific topics take on a political overtone. It's expected as a matter of course that people will lie, cheat, and steal to get what they want in the political sphere. So when it becomes politically correct, for example, to believe in global warming, even honest attempts to examine the evidence get shouted down. The weather is such a noisy system that spotting long term trends is very hard, and then knowing if they're global or just because (say) we built cities around our weather stations in the last century is even harder.

I think the right way to do it would be to divorce the scientific argument (is the earth warming up? If so, what could be the reasons for it?) from the political one (What, if anything, should we do about it? What economic hardships are we willing to bear to accomplish that?). But it's never going to happen in the real world.

So since conservatives tend to want to do nothing and liberals tend to want to take draconian measures (against evil business), the conservative press may in fact have a point when they say that the vast majority of scientists are liberals (with the unstated implication that of course they'll lie about their results to obtain their desired political outcome). If not actually improper, it presents the appearance of impropriety (as they say in ethics cases). Likewise, the liberal press may have a point when they shout about the few scientists willing to say out loud that they have doubts about the global warming bandwagon.

What a mess. Stated another way, it's astonishing how many people, when doing homework problems, can get the answer in the back of the book, even if it's wrong.

Ana

Years go by; will I still be waiting
for somebody else to understand?
--Tori Amos

Hechz (2.50 / 6) (#73)
by Hechz on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 05:57:11 PM EST

All right it is mostly visceral. (-1) That and the fact that there is no interpretation of the research, nor is there any support than conclusion, there is a conclusion and some thin links.

Does it really matter? (4.25 / 16) (#81)
by protus on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 10:50:41 PM EST

I personally don't see how it matters if global warming is real or not.. If it is real, then we should do everything and anything we can do to stop it, and reverse the damage we have done to our planet. If it is not real, we should still recycle, and limit the amount of gasses we release into our atmosphere.

There is literally NO reason that I can think of that would justify our societies view towards recycling, and preserving our enviroment. People are willing to kill off herds of animals, and destroy delicate ecosystems in order to save a few cents a month on gasoline. Why don't people realize that they are destroying their own future?

I have seen estimates (albeit they are very biased) that the world will begin running out of fresh water within twenty years. Although this is a biased number, it still makes you think. What if it is right? What will happen when we run out of fresh water? What will happen when we have no fertile farm land remaining?

The simple fact of the matter is that we cannot afford to take any risk when it comes to the health of our worlds ecosystem. We cannot afford to assume that global warming is not real, because we do not currently have the technology to reverse the damage we 'may' have caused to our worlds ecosystem.

long horses we are born; creatures more than torn; mourning our way home.

Solving "problems" before there problems (4.50 / 2) (#103)
by acronos on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 11:11:26 AM EST

"What if it is right? What will happen when we run out of fresh water? "

The issue is not really running out of fresh water but getting enough fresh water to cities to use in the tremendous quantities that they do.
A few Ideas on what will happen:
1) Water will become much more expensive.
2) People will reduce their consumption of water for cleaning their cars, watering their lawns, and even in a worst case scenerio taking showers
3) People will begin to use substitutes for water where they can (most water is not consumed by drinking)
4) People will devise better ways to cheeply filter water.
5) The human race and all life on earth WILL NOT DIE OFF.

"What will happen when we have no fertile farm land remaining? "
thoughts:
1) We will create fertilizer.
2) We will discover that there are nutrients missing from fertilizer when people start getting sick.
3) We will add those nutrients to fertilizer.
4) Food will become more expensive until mass production drives the price down.
Hint: We don't even need land to grow food!

My point, We can solve problems as they present themselves much better than we can when we are speculating incorrectly about them. Are we abusing the land, maybe, but if we are eventually we will pay for it. But it won't kill us off. To raise a big stink and cause prices to go up to meet political agendas is a much more stupid idea. Again, the real issue to many of these people is stopping the advance of civilization, not water.


[ Parent ]
The problem of producing power (4.00 / 1) (#105)
by mattw on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 12:27:40 PM EST

Nonetheless, we are a society and world addicted to electricity. There's a lot of things I think I could give up for the sake of the environment, like my car (if public transit or some alternative existed). I could happily scrap my BMW in favor of a Honda hybrid. (I'm looking into one anyhow) But electricity -- I'm not willing to give it up. And I think I'm in the overwhelming majority.

So the question becomes: what are our alterative power sources? We have the Sun -- if we had hyperefficient, ultra-easy-to-install photovoltaics, then this would be choice. We may be able to engineer in the near future a biological-based photosensitive cell, maybe a sort of plant that would use photosynthesis to convent light and put off electricity. Or we have nuclear power. Nuclear power has come a long way, from what I've read, but even the non-problematic plants in their heydey registered a pretty hefty amount of radioactivity.

I guess the real point is: we can't move from oil & natural gas to alternative power sources until there IS an alternative power source. But as a general libertarian, the one thing I've never been convinced of is the libertarian attitude toward environmental regulation, and I support government-sponsored regulations. (Such as those which produced the first set of electric and now hybrid cars). So we need to keep up the research, and keep our minds open to the possibilities. When there is an alternative, people will support it. We're addicted to power, not greenhouse gases.


[Scrapbooking Supplies]
[ Parent ]
How to remove the limits to growth (3.00 / 1) (#139)
by leonbrooks on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 07:08:59 AM EST

I guess the real point is: we can't move from oil & natural gas to alternative power sources until there IS an alternative power source.
It turns out that if you take the depressing model which produced the Club of Rome's Limits to Growth and account for two factors - one existing and one new - you wind up with a happy, stable, and to Matt's delight highly energetic society here on Earth.

The known factor not modelled is that birth-rates are inversely proportional to prosperity: make everyone rich, and birth-rate problems evapourate in the course of a few decades.

The unknown factor is large scale solar power satellite construction - and unfortunately NASA have just scrapped research into the vehicles that may have made this possible.

The biggest beneficiaries would have been the poorer countries. Pity. ``My name is Inego Montoyez. You killed my future. Prepare to die.''
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]

That doesn't do it. (3.00 / 1) (#187)
by flimflam on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 11:26:46 AM EST

The known factor not modelled is that birth-rates are inversely proportional to prosperity: make everyone rich, and birth-rate problems evapourate in the course of a few decades.
The problem is that rich people consume more resources (duh -- that's what makes them rich!). The problem isn't just overpopulation, it's overconsumption. I don't know how you overcome that problem. Perhaps we've been doomed ever since we invented the wheel.
-- I am always optimistic, but frankly there is no hope. --Hosni Mubarek
[ Parent ]
Finally, a skeptic. Good. Another reference. (3.00 / 5) (#83)
by jet_silver on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 11:33:47 PM EST

Down the page some there is a complaint that "the writer doesn't participate in discussion..." or something like that, implying that if you weren't already here you still shouldn't be. That's insularity, foax - and that is how you get a positive-feedback social system. Eventually the whole thing wobbles out of control and goes down the drain in a burst of noise.

I'll welcome you, madgeo, and thank you for posting this. There certainly shouldn't be any fear of discussion or criticism of what certain organizations are trying to do: mobilize billions of dollars' worth of Big Government Spending to 'cure' a 'problem' that is itself a huge positive-feedback system riding on a few observations. A little less hubris and a little more digging make a whole lot of sense around this issue.

The reference is the (dead tree) publication of P.J. O'Rourke's called "All the Trouble in the World". ISBN 0-87113-580-9. O'Rourke's research amplifies the statements in the article, and throws in a few extras. Quoting from O'Rourke's direct quote of Jonathan Schell, a global-warming Big Cheese in Discover magazine in 1987:

"We need to act on theory alone, which is to say on prediction alone....It follows that the reputation of scientific prediction needs to be enhanced. But that can happen, paradoxically, only if scientists disavow the precision that they normally insist on."

So here we have a global-warming activist saying 'Trust us, even though we admit we're fudging our data.'

And it only took seventeen years for the wringing of hands to switch from global cooling to global warming. Something's rotten here. That happens to be prit'near the length of the second Gleissberg solar cycle (there are cycles of 11, 22, 78, 100 and 200 years).

O'Rourke also comments that recycling isn't economic, otherwise people would be competing to buy your trash. Name a recycling program without a government backing it.

Well done, madgeo.
"What they really fear is machine-gunning politicians becoming a popular sport, like skate-boarding." -Nicolas Freeling

Recycling (3.50 / 2) (#86)
by Delirium on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 12:00:24 AM EST

In regards to recycling, it is rarely claimed that recycling is economic; that would be poor justification indeed for those who support government-funded recycling programs, since if it were economic such programs would be unnecessary (as you correctly noted). The usual claim is that recycling is not in fact economic, but that it is nonetheless worth the monetary cost it entails because of its environmental benefits.

[ Parent ]
Jet Silver, many thanks, (3.00 / 1) (#90)
by madgeo on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 01:41:42 AM EST

I am getting some great grist for thought from some very well thought out replies. I gotta wonder if Schell ever regrets that statement (probably not). I would think that if we abandon precision, by definition it is not science, it is at best dogma, or worse. Maybe anarchy? Thanks very much for the feedback!

[ Parent ]
Environmental Economics (3.00 / 1) (#100)
by woofbot on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 10:23:47 AM EST

If you measure the economics of recycling based purely on the transfer of common currency, then yes it will not appear economic. The trick is, there are a lot of unseen costs that such an measurement ignores. For every can/whatever that ends up in the trash, there's that much more material which must be extracted directly from the environment. Currently, this may be cheaper, but as natural resources become more and more difficult to obtain, people are going to wonder why the hell we didn't take the easy route and recycle when it was convenient.

[ Parent ]
Recycling economics and politics (4.50 / 2) (#108)
by rjh on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 01:43:15 PM EST

The fierce anti-capitalist fervor of many ecofreaks and the fierce anti-ecofreak attitude of the financial press keeps many people from seeing the obvious. Recycling successes include:

Steel - a $10+ billion industry in the US alone. It is so large that it is given an entire industry category by the stock analysis reports of Value Line. This is entirely recycled steel. Fresh raw steel production is another category.

Other metals - these are smaller, but you will still find a daily small table in the Wall Street Journal reporting the current pricing status for several recycled metals.

Paper, especially corrugated box board - This is more strongly affected by government programs. Sometimes recyclers will pay for recycled boxes. Sometimes you have to pay them. But for the past few decades it has been much cheaper to recycle boxboard than to pay trash hauling fees. Even for regular paper is often less expensive to pay a recycler to remove than it is to pay trash hauling fees.

These people do pay you to recycle material. These industries are profitable.

[ Parent ]
To hell with recycling (3.00 / 1) (#207)
by JonesBoy on Tue Mar 06, 2001 at 12:50:22 PM EST

To hell with recycling. In 50 years, we can just move the mining equipment to the dumps. They'll be a goldmine!

It may be running at a loss, but think of how much time and effort has been put into optimizing the mining and refining industries versus the recycling industries. Give it a while until things are better set up, and people start designing materials with recycling in mind. Anyway, I'd rather spend twice as much money on recycling and half as much on dumps, even if it costs more. Reducing is also a very inexpensive part of recycling that is more overlooked in the US than anything else at the moment.
Speeding never killed anyone. Stopping did.
[ Parent ]
$0.02 (3.00 / 3) (#85)
by jokulhaups on Fri Mar 02, 2001 at 11:53:26 PM EST

I understand both sides of the argument, but i have only to look at the current state of north american "environmental concerns" to wonder what else we could do to get people to worry about the environment..

I figure that propaganda that tells people "if you don't clean up your act, then catastrophes will occur" is the only way to get a large mass of apathetic people off their collective arses. I'm not saying that it's necessarily "good" or "truthful" but what else is there to get people who don't give a hoot about science to not pollute?

Well... (2.00 / 4) (#87)
by doormat on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 12:37:06 AM EST

While I agree that we have no way to accurately measure long-term (50-100yrs) trends in global temperature right now, I think that humans putting all this shit into the air/water/ground probably isnt good for us. Whether or not it is having an effect on the specific issue of global tempterature is a seperate issue. If the planet is able to compensate with what we do, then its not as bad as some people would make it to be, but the question is how tolerant is the earth to us abusing it? Instead of all these theories saying 'by the year 2050...' what if it was analagous to a twig snapping in two, instead of a gradual bending? Who knows? Certainly not me, but this was my two cents...
|\
|/oormat

Tidyness (2.83 / 6) (#92)
by MrEd on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 03:15:22 AM EST

Didn't you learn in preschool that you're not supposed to soil your own bed? Why not recycle? Or, even the forgotten twins, Reduce and Reuse? Too inconvenient to throw your beer cans in a blue box? Refuse to give in to 'the Man'? Enjoy the ambiance of a suburban landfill? That sort of mindset really ticks me off (as this flaming post obviously shows). I can't help but harbor the suspicion that the author of this Op-Ed drives a three tonne V-8 SUV on pavement all day long because he likes the image. Better get in the miles now, the gas ain't gonna last forever... (Apologies. I feel better now for the ranting of this)

Watch out for the k5 superiority complex!


Answer (2.00 / 1) (#102)
by madgeo on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 10:47:33 AM EST

I drive a small 4x4 pickup for work reasons. Its my wife that drives the 3-ton SUV for safety reasons! And if your smart you'd do the same for your significant other.

[ Parent ]
Safety reasons?? (3.00 / 1) (#119)
by PoBoy123 on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 08:29:05 PM EST

Personally, I think that if your wife is worried about her safety, maybe she shouldn't put a gallon of gasoline into the air for every 10 miles she drives. I live in an area where, because of the high traffic (I live in a small suburb just outside of New York City), I have a 1 in 10 chance of getting lung cancer regardless of whether or not I smoke. So quite frankly, don't tell me that driving a gas guzzling SUV is going to help you lead a longer, healthier, safer life. You drive one for work reasons and that's understandable, but I don't think that polluting the air is the best thing for your wife's safety.

[ Parent ]
Irony (4.00 / 1) (#122)
by marimba on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 11:17:14 PM EST

"Its my wife that drives the 3-ton SUV for safety reasons!"

And who is she trying to be safe from? Other 3-ton SUV's.

Ironic, huh?



[ Parent ]
Oh god... (3.00 / 1) (#130)
by ChannelX on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 12:09:05 AM EST

The work reason I can understand. Safety as a reason to drive an SUV is a total crock. Driving an SUV makes the roads less safe if anything because they'll cream any car but they'll get creamed by a semi. If she wants safety get her a TDI VW New Beetle. One of the safest cars on the road and it gets 45mpg highway.

[ Parent ]
Safest car on the road, emphasis on car..... (2.00 / 1) (#155)
by madgeo on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 02:15:51 PM EST

The guy that posted the comment about protecting her from other 3-ton SUVs had it dead on. Safest car on the road will lose to almost any given SUV, and there are a lot of them. And all will lose to a semi. The point is best safety devices PLUS inertia PLUS height most likely wins. Otherwise known as an SUV. There a reason semi trucks win.

[ Parent ]
Trump car (2.00 / 1) (#166)
by leonbrooks on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 07:24:12 PM EST

Safest car on the road will lose to almost any given SUV, and there are a lot of them. And all will lose to a semi.
Better buy her a large rubber-tracked tank, then, in case she finds a semi to hobnob with... (-:
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]
Its still a ridiculous argument (2.00 / 1) (#169)
by ChannelX on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 10:51:07 PM EST

Nice try. I know someone who also bought an SUV supposedly for safety reasons. In an accident where the weight of the SUV almost dragged her downhill into traffic on the expressway she traded up for a regular-sized automobile. Maybe your wife needs to be driving a Humvee instead. Never know when she might have to go off-road to feel safe.

[ Parent ]
Her safety, or everyone else's? (3.00 / 1) (#141)
by leonbrooks on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 07:16:24 AM EST

Its my wife that drives the 3-ton SUV for safety reasons!
Isn't that awfully selfish? (-:

Also, some studies done here in Oz showed that they weren't necessarily as safe as claimed. And now the ultimate bizarrity: some companies are making 4WDs that aren't, to cater for people who like them but never leave the bitumen...
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]

Selfish *and* wrong (2.00 / 1) (#199)
by goonie on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 11:13:32 PM EST

  • Safer . . . at the expense of all the other road users out there. Or don't you care?
  • That additional safety is mostly chewed up by the far inferior primary safety (basically, the handling, grip, and braking limitations of the SUV means you're far more likely to crash in the first place), and inferior secondary safety devices (crumple zones, seat belt pretensioners etc).

Oh, and another question. Has your wife ever done a defensive driving course? It'd probably do far more to improve her safety while driving than a gas-guzzling road-hogging pedestrian-killing SUV will *ever* do.

[ Parent ]

I probably shouldn't.... (2.00 / 1) (#214)
by madgeo on Tue Mar 06, 2001 at 10:05:54 PM EST

I probably shouldn't continue with this inane discussion of SUVs, but let me ask the question. What right do any of you SUV-haters have to criticize anyone for their choice in vehicle? Is this NOT the land of the free? Are we all to become Marxists "for the greater good"? Geez, I mean think about what you are proposing here, banning SUVs because they are more of a vehicle than a car?

Benjamin Franklin had a great quote (paraphrased): "Those that would give up liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."



[ Parent ]
Law of Conservation of Pollution (1.66 / 3) (#93)
by rbt on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 03:40:44 AM EST

After realizing that recycling does very little to reduce polution, but rather just 'moves' it I came up with the Law of Conservation of Pollution.

There are preferred forms of polution, but it's really just translated from one form to another. The problems occur when it's not balanced. If theres a low clear cutting destruction, and high CO2 we have a problem (no, trees don't actually create oxygen -- bitrot eats it back out of the system when they die). If it's low nuclear waste but high disruption to wind patterns due to wind based power generation plants we have problems.

The best we can do is achieve a balance. There is ALWAYS a by-product thats not wanted, even with things that seem perfectly safe. Gas or electric car -- is one actually better? Don't even bring up fuel cells. H2 + O is good, but thats not all thats put into the system.

Anyhow, do what you do because it won't make a difference. Just make sure it's not the same thing as everyone around you is doing as the balance will be thrown off.

Um, what? (4.00 / 1) (#116)
by delmoi on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 07:36:15 PM EST

(no, trees don't actually create oxygen -- bit rot eats it back out of the system when they die).

Bit rot? Bit rot? Bit rot is when the information stored on computer media deteriorates, and you loose bits. It has nothing to do with trees.

And secondly, yes, everything is going to have some effect, both negative and positive. but that doesn't mean the effect is going to be the same for everything. Sure more then hydrogen and oxygen go into making a fuel cell, but that doesn't mean it's 'just as bad' as a gas burning engine. Where is the trade off in environmental impact when moving from a 5mpg engine to a 50mpg one? Saying that the environmental impact of everything is the same is ludicrous
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Bit rot... (3.00 / 1) (#148)
by rbt on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 10:15:11 AM EST

heh... Sorry, bit rot (in my mind) is when something decomposts a bit at a time... I could have said rotting over a long time though how do you include the leaves in that? Poor terminology, but I still can't think of better to denote that the collection of all pieces of the tree, over all time take as much oxygen out of the system during it's death as was put in during it's life.

[ Parent ]
Re: Um, what? (none / 0) (#149)
by rbt on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 10:20:49 AM EST

And secondly, yes, everything is going to have some effect, both negative and positive. but that doesn't mean the effect is going to be the same for everything. Sure more then hydrogen and oxygen go into making a fuel cell, but that doesn't mean it's 'just as bad' as a gas burning engine. Where is the trade off in environmental impact when moving from a 5mpg engine to a 50mpg one? Saying that the environmental impact of everything is the same is ludicrous

Actually, a properly tuned (perfect) gas engine has very very little polutant as well. A perfectly tuned fuel cell has no polutant at all. We can't accomplish either of these, and although i highly dislike CO, NO isn't going to be any better (just different). Not to mention that the hydrogen has to come from somewhere. Which powerplant is going to be making the energy to collect the hydrogen with? Coal, Nuclear, or solar powered. Personally I feel solar collectors are horrible things as the process to create them is quite nasty.

[ Parent ]
A recent column on global warming. (4.47 / 17) (#94)
by sakico on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 06:11:21 AM EST

(This is no longer available on their website, so I don't feel that badly about posting it here.)

Halifax Herald - Sunday, October 29, 2000

Nine myths about climate change

Both sides in the debate over greenhouse gas emissions
exaggerate their claims

By Tim Patterson and Tom Harris

THE GLOBAL warming controversy has
started to resemble a House of Commons
debate.

On the government side we have climate change alarmists who confidently
assert that industrialization has caused the temperature increases observed
in the past century. Enormous changes are required to our energy
consumption patterns, they say, or we are headed for an environmental
disaster of unparalleled proportions.

On the opposition side are skeptics who dismiss the whole thing as
irresponsible scaremongering. They maintain that we should continue with
business as usual" and not slow the engine that has brought us to a level of
material prosperity unmatched in human history.

Like many of our politicians, both sides in the debate discredit new findings
that could cast doubt on their ideologies. Both sides exaggerate. And of
course, both sides have hidden agendas that taint their messages. What is
the concerned lay person to believe?

The modern global warming debate was ignited in 1988, when NASA
climatologist James Hansen testified before a joint U.S. House and Senate
committee that there was "a strong cause and effect relationship between the
current climate" - then a blistering drought - "and human alteration of the
atmosphere." His computer models predicted an average global temperature
rise of 0.45 C between 1988 and 1997 due to greenhouse gas buildup.

Despite enormous uncertainties in his simulations, it wasn't long before the
politically correct view of the future included a global warming catastrophe.

Since then, special interest groups on both sides have reduced the global
warming controversy to a number of oversimplified myths, ideas that are
scientifically wrong or, at best, quite uncertain.

At the recent climate change meeting in Quebec City, federal and provincial
environment and energy ministers clearly demonstrated what can happen
when one side succeeds in suppressing dissenting views: not a single
government press release acknowledged that the premise on which the
conference was based, namely that climate change is being caused by
humans, may in fact be false.

Let's examine some of the propaganda surrounding this issue . . . and some
of the facts.

1.The greenhouse effect is a threat to life on Earth.

FACT: Were it not for the greenhouse effect, our planet would be locked in a
perpetual ice age with average global temperatures 33 C lower than they are
now. All life on Earth owes its existence to the blanket of greenhouse gases
above us.

2.The most important greenhouse gas is carbon dioxide (CO2).

FACT: Water vapor causes 98 per cent of the greenhouse effect, with
additional contributions from CO2 (about 0.04 per cent of the total), methane,
nitrous oxide, ozone and other trace gases. An increase in the production of
water vapour at the equator during the 1998 El Ni?o climate event caused
worldwide average temperatures to spike by almost one degree Celsius that
year. The human contribution to the atmosphere's total water vapour content
is trivial by comparison.

3."Things are going to be better on Earth because we're putting more CO2 in
the air." - Fred Palmer, CEO of Western Fuels Association, Inc., a major coal
cooperative.

FACT: CO2 is a basic building block of life and the major nutrient of plants.
Studies have shown that recent CO2 level increases have led to a "greening"
of North America and Europe that has resulted in significant increases in crop
productivity. So, for humans, and other animals that consume plants, CO2 is
the very elixir of life.

However, associated with the CO2 released when fossil fuels burn are a host
of real pollutants. Coal combustion produces sulphur dioxide, which cripples
people and acidifies lakes. The nitrogen oxides emitted cause ground-level
ozone, or smog, that damages lung tissue. Coal burning also results in the
release of mercury and other toxins into the environment which poison people
and wildlife, and the list goes on.

Unbridled growth in the use of coal (as advocated by Palmer) and other fossil
fuels is a recipe for serious problems, no matter how good CO2 may be for
the planet.

4.Alarmists say the Earth has been getting warmer for decades. Skeptics say
there's been no global warming for 70 years.

FACT: The Earth is warming . . . and it is getting colder . . . and it is staying
the same. It all depends on what time frame you are speaking about and
where (and how) you look.

Over millennia, the planet is certainly getting colder and the next major ice
age appears to be around the corner. Fears of a coming glacial period
dominated the seventies when Iceland's fisheries were destroyed by
advancing sea ice, winters in North America were unusually cold and it was
first realized that global temperatures had fallen steadily between 1940 and
1975.

However, the past century saw a global temperature rise of about 0.6 C, most
of it before 1940. The largest portion of the warming for the second half of the
20th century was limited mainly to winter in the coldest continental air masses
of Siberia and northwestern North America.

Between 1975 and 1980, we saw a rapid temperature rise and, since then,
the temperature has not changed significantly. All this variability has been
occurring during a period of continuous rise in CO2 and other greenhouse
gases due to human activities.

So where do Environment Canada and environmental groups get the idea
that our planet has warmed in recent decades?

The answer is simple - they are using the wrong data.

Until recently the best we could do to estimate the Earth's overall temperature
was to average data collected at ground stations around the globe. These
readings are notoriously inaccurate as most come from developing countries
that do not properly maintain their stations or records. In addition, there are
two other problems with data collected at the Earth's surface.

First, nearly all these stations are land-based, even though three-quarters of
our planet is covered with water. There are far too few temperature-sensing
buoys deployed at sea to give an even remotely accurate assessment of
atmospheric temperature trends in these vast areas.

Second, urban sprawl has enveloped many temperature sensing stations in
"heat islands" significantly warmer that the surrounding countryside. The
warming measured at these sites is therefore problematic in determining
global trends.

The only way to properly take the planet's temperature is to use sophisticated
space-based sensors mounted aboard Earth-orbiting satellites. Two decades
of orbital observations have shown no meaningful trend, up or down.

5.As the Earth warms, there will be more extreme weather.

FACT: Historical evidence indicates that weather has been more moderate
and human civilizations have flourished when our planet has been warmer.

Here's an example: Between 900 and 1300 AD, the Earth warmed 1 to 2 C,
depending on latitude, about what climate models now predict for the 21st
century. This warming resulted in one of the most favourable periods in our
history. Food production surged due to mild winters and longer growing
seasons. Primary agricultural regions had fewer droughts and floods so
human populations rose accordingly.

Concerning fears of near-future extreme weather events, Tom Wigley of the
U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Science explains, "There is no
consensus between (computer) models on changes in . . . temperature and
precipitation. Even the best models perform poorly in simulating such
variability."

Sir John Houghton, chief scientist of the United Nations-sponsored
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), adds, ". . . there is little
agreement between models on . . . changes in storminess . . . (and)
conclusions regarding extreme events are obviously even more uncertain."

6.Scientists are able to make meaningful climate predictions based on
observed, and anticipated, changes in CO2 levels.

Environmental activist David Suzuki and Monte Hummel, President of the
World Wildlife Fund Canada, said recently in an open letter to Prime Minster
Chretien, "A doubling of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has the potential to
destroy over 35 per cent of the world's terrestrial habitats (due to climate
change) . . ."

FACT: Credible global warming forecasts are not possible until we have a far
better understanding of the science involved. Here's why:

1. Atmospheric CO2 is part of a highly complex, and poorly understood,
system called the carbon cycle. Within this system, 745 billion tons of carbon
pass through the atmosphere each year, exchanging CO2 with other
components of the carbon cycle such as the oceans, soil and plants. Of the
seven billion tons of carbon released into the atmosphere each year from
human activities, three billion tons remain there, causing the observed
increase in the CO2 level. Another two billion tons of carbon are absorbed by
the oceans each year, leaving two billion tons unaccounted for.

Scientists assume that there must be a yet-unidentified carbon sink,
something that is sopping up this excess carbon. One popular hypothesis is
that the biosphere itself could be the sink, since CO2 is critical to plant
photosynthesis.

2. It is not known whether temperatures rise as a result of, or a cause of, CO2
level changes.

Most climate models start with the basic assumption that changing CO2
concentrations drive temperature variations. However, in carbon cycle
models, the opposite is assumed; carbon cycle modelers first impose
temperature changes and then calculate the resulting changes to the world's
carbon reservoirs (including CO2 levels in the atmosphere).

This is more than an academic argument. If temperature changes drive CO2
levels, and not the other way around, then even the most severe reductions
in our production of CO2 would have no effect on global climate.

3. Current computer models simply don't work. These simulations are so
primitive that they are unable to determine today's climate when starting with
known past temperatures and rates of CO2 level rise.

After the U.S. spent $10 billion on this issue, Hansen now admits his computer
simulations were wrong and that today's climate change models are
unreliable. Writing in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,
Hansen explains "The forces that drive long-term climate changes are not
known with an accuracy sufficient to define future climate changes."

7.Historical records confirm that global warming has resulted from higher
atmospheric levels of CO2.

FACT: The hypothesis that rising CO2 levels result in a direct increase in
temperature originated in 1896 with Swedish chemist, Svante Arrhenius.

However, the concept was abandoned in the 1940s because global
temperatures had not even remotely matched the 1 C rise predicted by the
theory. Since then, the rate of global warming has slowed despite the
acceleration in industrialization and CO2 emissions.

Considerable evidence now supports the carbon cycle modelersā on the
assumption that atmospheric CO2 levels respond to temperature changes,
not the reverse.

Ice core records show that at the end of each of the last three major ice ages,
temperatures rose several hundred years before CO2 levels increased.

At the beginning of the most recent glacial period 114,000 years ago, CO2
remained relatively high until long after temperatures plummeted.

Climatologists Marcel Fligge and Sami Solanki demonstrated in a recent
edition of the respected journal Geophysical Research Letters that the
warming or cooling of the Earth during the past four centuries closely matches
variations in the sun's brightness.

Whether they were looking at the Little Ice Age of the latter 17th century, the
rapid warming in the early part of the 20th century or the relatively
unchanging temperatures of recent decades, our star's output and global
temperatures were closely correlated. NASA's Paal Brekke explains, ". . . the
sun may be a much more important contributor to global climate change than
previously assumed."

8.North America is not a net contributor of CO2 to the Earth's atmosphere.

Skeptics drew this conclusion from a recent study led by Princeton University
scientist Jorge Sarmiento.

FACT: While it is true that the Princeton team identified North American
forests as a surprisingly large sink of CO2 in the period studied (1988-1992),
Sarmiento said recently, "We intentionally stayed away from identifying North
America as a net source or sink since we feel that this way of viewing things is
misleading." He explained that their measurements lacked the accuracy to
draw such a definitive conclusion and that much of the absorption was due to
the re-growth of forests previously cut down. As these forests age, their
contribution to CO2 uptake will diminish.

In addition, the study's authors emphasized that ". . . carbon dioxide from all
parts of the Earth mix together rapidly, certainly much more quickly than a
local sink can act. Thus, today's results should not be interpreted as
justification for claiming that pre-existing carbon sinks in a given region act to
offset that region's combustion-produced carbon dioxide." In other words,
pollution sources in North America contribute just as much as the rest of the
world to rising CO2 levels.

Also ignored by skeptics was the fact that the strength of CO2 sinks vary by a
factor of almost five from year to year and may also vary in location.

No one knows if the study results still apply today.

9.The Kyoto Accord, and other climate change initiatives, are focused solely
on environmental problems.

FACT: Houghton calls global warming a "moral issue." Reducing greenhouse
gas emissions will, he says, "contribute powerfully to the material salvation of
the planet from mankind's greed and indifference." Christine Stewart, the
former Canadian environment minister, said "No matter if the science (of
global warming) is all phoney . . . climate change (provides) the greatest
opportunity to bring about justice and equality in the world."

Paying developing nations billions of dollars to buy the pollution credits
awarded by "environmental" treaties may be the real objective of many
alarmists. The transfer of wealth from rich to poor countries should be
discussed for what it is, not incorporated into environmental agreements.

Despite his apparent acceptance of the theory of human-induced climate
change, Ontario's Minister of the Environment, Dan Newman, best summed
up what should be our next step when he said in an open letter to federal
Environment Minister David Anderson, ". . . to fully inform decision-makers
and citizens across the country as further steps are contemplated, the federal
government must ensure that credible and thorough analysis of
environmental and economic impacts be undertaken and made available.

"Obviously, such research is a key part of the development of future
implementation plans, and must be received and considered prior to their
approval."

In closing the recent climate change meeting, environment and energy
ministers congratulated themselves concluding that they had "made
significant progress with respect to climate change."

Meeting attendees seemed unaware that elaborate schemes "to combat
global warming" may well be akin to combating continental drift - very unlikely
to work, of highly uncertain value and unbelievably expensive.

Tim Patterson is a geology professor at Carleton University. He uses
microfossils and geochemistry to study evidence of climate change in lake
and oceanic sediments. Tom Harris is a freelance writer and speaker based in
Ottawa.

Wrong! Take the smoking analogy... (3.15 / 13) (#95)
by imperium on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 07:51:19 AM EST

Until relatively recently, doctors used to recommend cigarettes to sooth the throat: a famous advert here in Britain for Craven "A" cigarettes was even fronted by a doctor offering one to a patient. Now we know that cigarettes aren't good for you, and anyone claiming otherwise (e.g. Phillip Morris until very recently) is rightly mocked.

So thirty years ago there was concern that the earth was cooling: the last twenty years have seen the fastest rise in global temperatures ever recorded, way more than the statistical margin of error. The polar ice caps are melting at an extraordinary rate, such that parts of the Antarctic are navigable for the first time in recorded history (which I appreciate isn't so long for Antarctica, but still...). An American submarine found open sea at the very North pole recently. Species distribution patterns are moving noticeably northwards across Europe. Africa's highest peaks are losing their snow caps.

There is only one conclusion the evidence supports.
Global warming is happening.

We know what causes it. And we know what we have to do to avoid the complete loss of low-lying land. It's going to hurt industry, especially in the world's most polluting country (you know who you are!), but it's a price worth paying.

And to deny it because we didn't understand the science 20 years ago is like smoking and denying the health effects on the basis of your grandfather's doctor's advice in the 1940s.

x.
imperium

Are you sure (4.00 / 2) (#96)
by kovacsp on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 09:37:53 AM EST

Are you sure that's the only conclusion? How can you be so sure? How much data are you using? As the article states, we only have 100 years worth of ground based temperature readings. How do you know what the warming trend is caused by?

Here's another plausible theory. The most recent ice age ended about 15,000 years ago. But how do you know when an ice age ends? No bells go off. How can we be sure that the ice age is finished? What if we're just on the tail end of the ice age, and the warming trend we see is caused by other reasons?

There is never only one conclusion. Anybody who says so is either a) wrong or b) delusional.

[ Parent ]
As has been pointed out elsewhere in this thread (3.00 / 1) (#181)
by imperium on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 06:32:57 AM EST

On the question of data, we have the records from ice cores taken from permafrost. We also understand the science of heat reflectivity, and what contributes to increased reflection in the atmosphere. The role of the greenhouse effect in the Earth's history is a scientific commonplace.

And the idea that this is suddenly the end of an ice age: I don't see recent records of sheets of ice across Europe or Asia in the summer. Even so, why would a gradual warming suddenly start accelerating? Can you really be so blasé about that?

Finally, if the weight of scientific evidence is strong about something (such as, say, the fact that the world is not flat), is it a) wrong or b) delusional to regard the debate as settled? There are plenty of scientific questions where more than one conclusion is supported by the evidence, and the quest for more evidence in these areas must go on. On global warming, endless searching for more evidence rather than the pursuit of solutions is little more than the modern equivalent of fiddling while Rome burns.

x.
imperium
[ Parent ]

Counter arguments (4.75 / 4) (#101)
by idanso on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 10:40:20 AM EST

The so-called "fastest rise in temperatures" is highly doubtful. If you count surface mesuarements, then yes, question is, can you count these?

Earth had much hotter periods. during 1000-1200, Earth's temperature was much hotter than today, so hot that it allowed the vikings to settle Greenland.

during 1400-1700, on the other hand, earth was much cooler, practicly causing a collapse of the vikings.

All of that had no relation to any kind of CO2
emission.





[ Parent ]
you make my case for me (3.00 / 1) (#180)
by imperium on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 06:23:39 AM EST

The fluctuations you talk about are good examples. The Arctic trends you mention are interesting cases, but they occurred over centuries- I claimed that we're looking at faster changes, such as those we have seen over decades, particularly the last two.

x.
imperium
[ Parent ]

The crux of the argument (3.75 / 4) (#98)
by acronos on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 10:18:23 AM EST

Someone said in one of the posts:
"Whatever we do has an affect on the environment around us. Some may be good, some may be bad. But I trust 'mother nature' alot better than I trust 'man', she's got a far better record at running a planet than we do."

It seems to me that this is the general opinion of most of the people I have met who believe in global warming. People who love nature see man and civilization destroying what they love. This is evident in the small things more than the big. Cities level forests. Oil spills kill plants and animals. Pollution desecrates the environment.

People become religious about these things and their religion is not based of fact or truth but rather emotion.

I would beg to differ with natures track record. Remember the dinosaurs? The number of extinctions before man ever entered the scene is greater than every species alive today. If man killed off every animal on the planet he wouldn't do nearly the harm that "nature" has done. But that is natural so it must not be bad, right.

Civilization has provided much more security than nature ever did. Famine and starvation have been virtually eliminated in "civilized" societies. Technological advances have dramatically increased the human life span in "civilized" societies. Technology actually might provide the ability to stop meteorites destroying the earth. It might enable us to shape our environment such to prevent our own extinction. Or even change the temperature of the earth to what it needs to be to support "our kind of life." Nature on the other hand is a sure exterminator.

If we were talking about a time bomb that was able to destroy the earth in a few seconds, I could see the value of the "we must stop it in case it destroys us" argument. But global warming is a very slow phenomenon. If we start to see real evidence that there is danger then we can start to deal with it. As it is there is little evidence and that evidence contradicts itself. To embark on a path that is virtually guaranteed to destroy our economy is stupid. We KNOW that trying to stop our emissions will have devastating effects on our economy. Just look at what a few cents in gas prices have done to our economy in America. We do NOT know it will warm up the earth or even if it does that that is bad.

It is obvious to me that the best way to protect the most human life is to continue our technological advance. The key to such technology is a good economy. This might actually enable us to counter such a horror story as described by so called environmentalists. As it stands now we are nothing but blind untrained fools trying to protect ourselves from something we can't even really see.

Mother Nature is dangerous (3.00 / 1) (#133)
by bjrubble on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 03:34:21 AM EST

I like Nature, but I fear Nature more. Like you say, it will exterminate ruthlessly and completely when it wants to. The true question of global warming is, what Natural forces are we provoking?

[ Parent ]
Mother nature's [criminal] record (3.00 / 1) (#137)
by leonbrooks on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 06:38:32 AM EST

But I trust 'mother nature' alot better than I trust 'man', she's got a far better record at running a planet than we do.
More fool them. I seem to recall something about critters called ``dinosaurs'' running around. In the best skeptical spirit, I'm not convinced that all of the dinosaurs are indeed dead... but there clearly used to be a heck of a lot more of them than there are now. And wombats the size of a van. Where are they now? Did mankind wipe them out with his own little hands? I think not.
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]
We can and have impacted our environment (3.00 / 4) (#106)
by substrate on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 12:32:48 PM EST

I know that environmentalists have been misusing statistics. On the other hand there are other historical indications of global warming (I'm going to look for references as I write this, not sure if it will work or not, I originally found the information while researching a completely unrelated topic).

As North America was settled by Europeans they brought with them customs from back home, but modified them and formed their own culture. A pretty popular thing to do seemed to be to trot your religious icon over a frozen body of water. Bundle up the Virgin Mary, she's in for a cold day, we're dragging her across the lake. Where evidence comes for global warming are the records of these events. They were done in many locations much later in the year then we would now expect a frozen body of water, especially a frozen body of water you'd drag a religious icon and a congregation across.

Scientific climate investigation has really only been around for a very short time, a few decades depending on how loosely or stringently you define scientific. Cultural evidence and archaelogical evidence, where preserved, can fill in a lot of details. They can't be used to say that "The Midwestern United States has warmed by 5 degrees Farenheit", but they can be used to say that "Indications are that the spring thaw is now occuring 2 weeks earlier than it was for our forefathers".

I'm not an environmentalist (as related to the scientific pursuit of the environment, not as in the many celebrity environmentalists, most of whom make real environmentalists shudder) but I don't feel this can necessarily be used to make a blanket statement "Fossil fuel usage is causing rampant global warming". The big picture needs to be looked at, how else did we change our environment? How does the fact that heavily urbanized areas are a few degrees warmer fit in?

No offense, but madgeo came across as an uninformed troll, which is why I used my voting priveledges to try to vote this topic down. A lot of the things he stated just mean that science is doing its job. Yes, once scientists felt we were heading to an ice age, scientists examined the data, examined their theories, examined their assumptions and changed their forecast. To think that we aren't among the greatests impacts on the environment is blindness or greed.

We're unique in that we can choose how and to what degree we impact the environment. We can't tune down volcanoes, earthquakes or the tides, but we can control how fast we pump hydrocarbons into the atmosphere. We can control how fast we consume resources. We can impact our environment, and we have impacted our environment.

I apologize for I can't find the references I'm looking for, I'll think of new word combinations to use and if I find it I'll post links.

Maybe we were (2.00 / 3) (#109)
by Paul Johnson on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 03:27:01 PM EST

Yes, once scientists felt we were heading to an ice age

Its quite possible that we were heading into an ice age until global warming stopped it.

Actually the current temperature of the Earth is above average. "Ice age" is the normal state of the planet. What triggered civilization several thousand years ago was the the start of the current "hot age".

Paul.
You are lost in a twisty maze of little standards, all different.
[ Parent ]

What about sustainable development? (4.85 / 14) (#107)
by iGrrrl on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 12:54:20 PM EST

One of the problems I see in this kind of discussion is the black/white division. There are "evil corporate interests" and "hair shirt environmentalists". Very rarely does the term "sustainable development" ever enter the discussion.

Humans have been changing their environment since they started herding goats. People in the US tend to think of Syria and Lebanon as deserts, but what Christian, or Jew hasn't heard the phrase "the cedars of Lebanon" [Isaiah, 14:7-8]? Great forests used to exist, but are now one of the first documented examples of the effects of deforestation. With the denuding of the forests (which finished about a thousand years ago), the topsoil washed away. With no topsoil, no trees could regrow.

There are examples closer to our time. Deforestation connects directly to flooding in China. The short-term economic gain of cutting trees for farming and animal grazing has long-term effects. The effects lie not only in the toll in human lives (over 2000 in China), but in the sheer waste of the land. As the soil becomes exposed and farmed, the nutrients disappear and the land becomes barren. Degraded soils require large inputs of fertilizer, which is expensive and has its own environmental risks.

"Evil corporate interests" generally don't think beyond their next quarterly profits, but "hair shirt environmentalists" don't generally think accurately about human behavior. People in 3rd world countries want the Western lifestyle because, dammit, it's comfortable. Who can blame them? and who can blame them for being annoyed at Western do-gooders? Joe Jackson put it succinctly in the first verse of Obvious Song.

So what's the answer? People like consumer goods. They like cars. They like houses cool in the summer and warm in the winter. The hair shirt tree-hugger types are foolish to think otherwise. The answer does not lie in growth along the current models; it lies in sustainable development.

The article points to all the "research" arguing against global warming, but even major oil companies have pulled out of the industry consortium sponsoring much of such research. BP now claims that their initials no longer stand for British Petroleum, but rather indicate their new heading, "Beyond Petroleum." The short-term interests of major energy and automotive companies lies in maintaining the status quo. BP seems smart enough to realize that their long-term success lies in developing more sustainable energy sources.

A lot of information on sustainable development can be found at the website for The International Institute for Sustainable Development. A more readable and hopeful summary of the issues can be found (I confess to shamelessness) in my brother's book, Believing Cassandra: "An optimist's look at a pessimist's world." One of his contentions -- and the source of his title -- is that we didn't have Rachel Carson's Silent Spring or hit the limits to growth because people took action. More action needs to be taken.

Action does not have to mean freezing our economies or limiting technology. It can mean making sensible and long-term decisions about development which let everybody ride the bus. Or drive the hybrid car.

--
You cannot have a reasonable conversation with someone who regards other people as toys to be played with. localroger
remove apostrophe for email.

Action at a distance (4.00 / 1) (#165)
by leonbrooks on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 07:20:06 PM EST

we didn't have Rachel Carson's Silent Spring or hit the limits to growth because people took action.
The actions that China and India took have not had time to make a significant difference to population levels (for example, India recently cross the billion-people mark). We've missed hitting Limits because the model was wrong. As I mentioned in another post on this article, if you take into account the effects of prosperity (which muffles population growth) and space-based power (which makes the whole planet wealthier and cleaner, easing terrestrial resource useage), Limits doesn't happen in the foreseeable future, and for a change the poor also get richer.
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]
Global warming != Everything hotter (3.00 / 2) (#111)
by grahamsz on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 05:16:39 PM EST

I live in scotland and whilst it would be nice to expect that i'll have a mediterreanean climate to retire to, it's not going to happen. If (and it's a big if) the planet is really warming up, then the icecaps will melt and the extra volume of water should be enough to send the gulf stream southwards.

For those of you who aren't in the area the gulf stream is a flow of water from the gulf of mexico which keeps britain as warm as it is. The net effect will be that scotland will become a lot colder and snowier.

If you'd asked me last year then i'd have said that the anecdotal evidence that the planet is actually heating up did amount to something. I've seen drawings done by local people in the 20s showing them skating on the local loch when it was frozen over - and yet hadn't seen it happen in 10 years. But I was home today, and the loch is frozen over, and there are 8ft snow drifts in some nearby areas. I just feel that we should be averaging the temperature of one century and comparing it to the ones around it.
--
Sell your digital photos - I've made enough to buy a taco today
Look at all the facts first.. (4.11 / 9) (#112)
by plutronic on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 05:36:13 PM EST

Stating that long-term climate change can't be known from short-term calculations is dosen't prove or disprove anything. If you are going to try and disprove climate change, look at all the evidence that's been collected first, and look at the theoretical side of the argument. I'll give a short summery of what I know of each now; I'll try and get some links to back myself up by tonight and post them as a reply to this.

Areas of Evidence for climate change:
The general areas of evidence for climate change, as I know them, are

  • Ground-based temperature measurment
  • Balloon-based temperature measurment
  • Sattelite-based temperature measurment
  • Permaice-based atmospheric chemical content measurment

It's the last one, measurment of atmosphereic chemical content through drill-cores of permanent ice (in areas having very long term ice formations - Greenland, the Antarctic region, and so forth) which you have failed to mention, and which give some of the most compelling evidence yet - due to the informaiton's long-term charecteristics - of global climate change. What is derived from such measurments (as I said, I'll post some links tonight) is that the CO2 content in the atmosphere is now - i.e. in the last 100 or so years - increasing at a rate not seen since the last major global temperature change. What gives this evidence it's added weight is both the fact that it isn't limited to the last 100, 50, or 20 years; rather, the body of informaiton extends over thousands, tens of thousand, or more years. The other methods of measurment, too, give some proof of short-term temerpature change; further, their body of evidence, though short-term, does demonstrate three things which are not of negligable importance. First, that the temperatures measured are fluctuating, though in which direction I (under the assumption that what you have written is mostly truthful) cannot say. Second, that there that these fluctuations are occuring on a global scale. Their global scale, and their simple fluctuation - with the best sensors we have - demonstrate that there is someting happening, though exactly what cannot be known from that. Thirdly, the changes occuring are demonstrating a pattern to their change, and have been for as long as measurments have been taken. These last ten years, keep in mind, have been the warmest past ten years on record (or so I've been told more than once, though I will - as I said - get some links to back this up); further, each of these past ten years has been warmer than the previous year.

The theory of global warming
Despite the number and the justification of the questions concerning the current consensus on global warming, these arguments given have rested on questioning the evidence of the warming. What hasn't yet been addressed is the theory behind global warming. Just as CFCs were considered to be dangerous because of a theory which saw them as such, there is a method to the (to some, apparent) madness of the people who see warming as a threat. That is that C02 is a greehouse gas - i.e. the level of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere is corelated to the amount of solar radiation kept within the atmosphere of a given planet. Given this, and given that there is ample evidence that humans have been releasing - through the conversion of petrochemicals into mechanical energy - the dormant CO2 from the earth's crust into the earth's atmosphere - leads to the contention that humans are having some effect on the environment through the activites of our civilization. The only thing left to question, so long as the theory of CO2 being a greehouse gas and the contention that humans have been releasing it into the earth's atmosphere are not disproven by some unaccounted for or unmeasured piece of evidence, is the scale of the change. Given what I stated above (i.e. that the level of CO2 in the atmosphere has been seen to be increasing at it's greatest level, year over year, in an extremely long time, leads one to conclude that there is a significant possibility that humans have, or will have, some direct influence on the average temperature of the earth's atmosphere and surface. Given that a large proportion of the accessable petrochemicals have already been used, and thus that a significant proprtion of the dormant CO2 in the earth has been released into the atmosphere, I would then put forth that there is at least some cause for concern around this issue. Given, further, that there are methods by which we can now reduce, if we so desired as a population, our CO2 output, I see no compelling reason why we should not do that.
MH

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I have... (3.50 / 2) (#118)
by madgeo on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 08:24:51 PM EST

Your own argument demostrates (one of) my point(s) "Their global scale, and their simple fluctuation - with the best sensors we have - demonstrate that there is someting happening, though exactly what cannot be known from that."

We don't know, and the best data, the three I listed, show grossly contradictory evidence. The fact is we've been "global warming" since the last Ice Age. Are we the cause, almost certainly not. Does this justify radical action, almost certainly not.

In addition, CO2 levels are not good prognosticators either. If you doubt it I suggest you read the longish article attached by Sakico in the Comments.



[ Parent ]
Re: I have... (5.00 / 2) (#143)
by plutronic on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 07:41:27 AM EST

I've been looking more and more for a resource to which I can point to and say 'there! that _proves_, beyond a reasonable doubt, that global warming will be a negative influence in our collective lives in the near future if nothing is done to combat it!", but the more I look, the more I need to know. The best summation I've found yet (and this is after the half-page of links I gave) was on NASA's site; it's located at href="http://www.giss.nasa.gov/edu/gwdebate/. The linked article is one of the reasons why I find this debate so bottomless, at least with what we know now. The author points to not temperature change, or atmospheric chemical change, as his most definitive evidence of a human-affected greenhouse effect; rather, he points to the 'planetary 'disequilibrium'' ; between incoming and outgoing radiation on earth. Papers have been published (the one he references is at http://www.giss.nasa.gov/gpol/abstracts/1997.HansenSatoR2.html) which point to a disequilibrium of .5 W per square meter, the energy of which is being stored in the oceans (ocean warming, anyone?). This idea - that the increase in energy on earth due to human activity is measurable in the ocean - makes much sense, for two immediate reasons (to me, off the top of my head):

  • The most marked increase measured over the past 20 years has been that of 'surface temperature', in which is included measurement of ocean temperature. I don't have accurate data on 'surface temperature' from even a single source, let alone separated data on temperature change on the land and the oceans, so I base this on an assumption of scientific validity by those measuring temperature. The effect of city encroachment on temperature measurement is not a newly-found phenomenon; further, measurement of ocean temperature would not reflect this.
  • The oceans both cover more surface area (~70%, as we all know) and have more 'accessible' depth (i.e. matter at the surface of the ocean has a far greater probability of being heated and then moving into the subsurface of the ocean than does almost any matter on the surface of land on earth), both of which would presumably (I don't have enough backing in oceanography to back this up) make it the ideal candidate to absorb energy in the global system.

As for the idea that 'we've been global warming since the last Ice Age'; everything is relative. What is important to remember is that the warming of the past two decades - at least using surface measurements - has been more pronounced than in times previous. Further, the correlation between the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere and the temperature of the earth has not been disproven by anything I've read yet. The closest I've come is the comment you mentioned, in which it states two things - CO2 is a minor part of overall global warming, and that CO2 can be good for plant life. Neither of which even addresses the issue of whether or not CO2 has an effect on climactic conditions. Yes, water vapor plays it's own, far greater part, in the whole system of global warming; that is not the issue at hand. We (as a species and as a planet) have adapted to the 'current' conditions (whatever they are.. say, the average from the past 500 years?), and the danger is not global warming relative to what the earth would be like with no atmosphere. The danger is that there will be a change in the warmth, or a warming. And, considering that planets with no atmosphere have temperature swings taking them from the negative 100s celsius to the positive 100 celsius in a single rotation, the effect of CO2 in overall global warming (the last I heard was .4%) dosen't have to be high for it to change the temperature by a few degrees centigrade.

Lastly, your use of my own writing to disprove me.. simple facts can never tell you what is happening. When, however, you have both a theory, and facts to support it (as well as having no facts to disprove it), you can then hope to explain - with your limited means - what is going on, and what should be done about it. You can look as hard as you want, but you'll never find proof that the sun is going to come up tomorrow - all you can do is base your prediction for the next day on both observation (ie - the sun has come up every day pervious), and theory (ie - the sun is related to the earth through the phenomenon of gravity, among other things, and the sun isn't near an age where it will go nova, etc etc etc) to come up with a prediction (ie the sun will come up tomorrow). From your prediction, you can then plan further action (ie I won't build my own underground lair using geothermal energy, and live there for my life as civilization crumbles). That is the process of science - it is not the search for fact, but rather the search for the most probable reality and future.

The facts around the global warming debate have thrown some question as to the scale of human effects on the environment, but have not truly questioned the process. What is then required is a more analysis of the evidence at hand. I've given quite a few links here, and in another post; from what I've read so far, there is significant evidence pointing to human's effect on the environment to be significantly warming, while there is some that points to human's effects on the environment to be smaller. Given that the only disadvantage of not acting on global warming is that we'll get to use our gas-using cars a bit longer (CO2 isn't the only chemical that comes out of the exhaust, as you know), before we all eventually shift to a more clean-burning solution anyway, and the disadvantage of not acting is potentially much more serious (you know the scenerios), I see no reason - scientific or otherwise - not to act on this issue now, and presume global warming to be a significant phenomenon worth fighting against.

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[ Parent ]

Links, &tc (4.50 / 2) (#131)
by plutronic on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 02:00:15 AM EST

Here are some of the links I had mentioned:

<h3>General Links</h3>
The most useful link I've come across thus far is at http://www.badc.rl.ac.uk/data/chemistry.html, which is itself a listing of several sites related to climate change and atmospheric chemical change. There is also an effort underway, whose website is http://www.badc.rl.ac.uk/data/cambchem/, which aims to consolidate the available information on the subject into one central source and format, though it is not yet complete.

<h3>Past atmospheric chemical content measurement through ice and snow core samples</h3>
There is an article at http://www.cmdl.noaa.gov/info/pressspo.html that gives a short overview; most useful is a paragraph which states:
Although longer histories of some gases can be obtained from ice cores, the gas samples are tiny. Current analytical techniques do not allow for accurate measurement of trace gases in these minute amounts. In the snowpack, however, the amount of air is essentially unlimited. This allows for high-precision measurement of gases that occur in very low concentrations in the atmosphere.
At the same time, the University of New Hampshire has a comprehensive site on the topic of ice core sampling at http://www.nicl-smo.sr.unh.edu/icwg/icwghtml.html . On that site, it says:
Ice core records provide detailed descriptions of climate change that are extremely valuable for comparison with modern observations. Further, they document not only a wide range of environmental parameters that are both measures of and responses to climate change (e.g., atmospheric chemistry and circulation, temperature, precipitation) but also many of the causes of climate change (e.g., solar variability, volcanic activity, greenhouse gases). Because of their high resolution (sub-annual), long time span (several glacial cycles) and precise dating (annual), they also provide a framework for interpreting other records of past climate.
This discrepancy in opinion regarding the utility of ice-core sampling is at least partially explained by the fact that those studying snow cores are looking at a period of 100 years, with a resolution much finer than that. Those looking at ice-core samples are examining a dataset from a period of up to approximately 420 000 years (at Vostok), allowing even a resolution of one thousand years to provide useful data. The data obtained from such samples (data from the Vostok ice core, seen at http://www.nicl-smo.sr.unh.edu/icwg/fig2.html, demonstrates a clear correlation between CO2 content and temperature change. More data is available from http://www.cmdl.noaa.gov/info/ftpdata.html, which has an FTP-based archive of the most current data on climate change, though you'll need a postscript viewer.

A good review of CO2 and climate change is available at http://www.ems.psu.edu/info/explore/globalwarming/trends.html. That's about if for now; suffice it to say - from what I've seen, and in my opinion - that there is a strong body of evidence (both the evidence of global warming and of global climate change and the coorelation between them is strong enough to act upon.

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[ Parent ]

Oops, perma-ice isn't (4.00 / 1) (#136)
by leonbrooks on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 06:17:09 AM EST

Permaice-based atmospheric chemical content measurment
Unfortunately for this idea, it is becoming well known that ``permanent'' ice isn't anywhere near as permanent as was once thought.

For example, oxygen varves are not annual, or event-based but an artefect of atoms migrated (sorted, to some degree) by gravity and time - very little time, months and years rather than centuries and millennia.

Another striking eye-opener happened when some Americans flitted across to Greenland to recover a flight of WW2 planes that were downed there. Instead of simply picking them up, or at worst chipping a few inches of ice from them, they found that they had to bore down through two hundred feet of ice to get to them. Count it, that's two feet a year. So if you're looking for (say) the last five thousand years of history there, expect to find them in a big cake of ice three kilometers thick... (-:
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]

hmm (3.00 / 1) (#160)
by plutronic on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 03:07:20 PM EST

Take a look at some of the links I posted elsewhere in this thread, particularily at http://www.cmdl.noaa.gov/info/pressspo.html, where at one point it mentions that Geochemical measurements have been conducted to a depth of 3350 meters, and the results indicate that the age of the ice at this level is approximately 420,000 years, covering more than three full glacial/interglacial cycles (Petit et al., 1997).; that gives about 125 years per meter of ice, far more than 1 year per every 2 feet. The reason is found at http://www.cmdl.noaa.gov/info/pressspo.html, where it says "(the researchers) will draw air from the snowpack at incremental depths, stopping at about 120 meters, at which point the snow turns to ice. .... 'It is important that we get these air samples now,"said Jim Butler of NOAA. "Each year we delay, we lose a year of history, as the snow turns to ice at the bottom of the hole'"

In short, the 'ice' they're talking about - due to, one would assume, the rather significant pressures at such depths, is much denser than the material on the surface, which is considered to be snow. Further, the time-scale being measured is at times over 400 000 years; the information being gathered is not what day-to-day, year-to-year or even century-to-century levels of CO2. It's millenia-to-millenia.

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[ Parent ]

Some crushing observations (cold, hard facts?) (3.50 / 2) (#164)
by leonbrooks on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 07:08:44 PM EST

In short, the 'ice' they're talking about - due to, one would assume, the rather significant pressures at such depths, is much denser than the material on the surface, which is considered to be snow.
Er, ``one would assume?'' A couple of the items I'm basing my ideas on speak of - for example - Oxygen ``varves'' in ice being formed by short-term osmotic processes.
Geochemical measurements have been conducted to a depth of 3350 meters, and the results indicate that the age of the ice at this level is approximately 420,000 years, [...] the time-scale being measured is at times over 400 000 years; the information being gathered is not what day-to-day, year-to-year or even century-to-century levels of CO2. It's millenia-to-millenia.
Given the depositional rate of two feet of ``snow'' a year at the aircraft site (and bear in mind, they needed a mattock to deal with this ``snow,'' not a snowshovel), even if you compressed snow 10:1 (ha ha, but I chose the ratio overgenerously to make the point, not to be accurate) in the process of turning it into ice, 3350m represents only about 55,000 years (even counting some ``snow'' as ``ice'').

Picking a more realistic compression factor of 3:1 you would need over 80km of ice to represent 400 millennia. And a very special drill. You would only get about 15,000 years out of 3350m at this rate. And this is all entirely dependent on the ice having been deposited more or less evenly, which I imagine that even one ice age would have some impact on.

Quite often specialists get so wrapped up in their theories, and competing with other theories in the field, that they forget to take a step back from their work and see if it still makes any kind of sense in a wider context. Those who do try interdisciplinary work get heckled, abused and rejected even on points where they're obvious correct - or at least, obviously much more correct that science at large. (-:
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]

better late than never.. (4.00 / 1) (#217)
by plutronic on Wed Mar 07, 2001 at 02:13:23 AM EST

to respond, that is.

I can't really see how you think oxygen varves would i) be the only method by which scientists (interdisciplinary or otherwise) would date ice-cores. http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/icecores.html is a site which both offers an overview of ice-cores, and the many methods by which they can be dated. Further, http://www.daviesand.com/Choices/Precautionary_Planning/New_Data/ is a news article which discusses recent developments in ice-core-ing, along with some links to other more substantive sites about the subject.

Anyway, give some facts to back up what you say, or don't complain about heckling by others, regardless of how many fields you study.

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[ Parent ]

Pseudoscience? Please... (3.00 / 9) (#115)
by wiggum on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 07:33:10 PM EST

I'm very disturbed by your claim that such studies done on "Global Warming" are pseudoscience. Most people claim the Global Warming theory to be invalid based on the fact that other theories can explain the weather patterns experienced just as well. I urge you to pick up a Scientific Method Book. This is not enough to discount the "Global Warming" theory, and is certainly NOT enough to conclude that your theory is valid.

I urge you to read books like "Trust us we're experts," about PR campaigns done at some companies you'd recognized. Most of these studies that concluded that Global Warming is an invalid theory are done by companies with a conflict of interest in the matter. I will not dispute that fact that the same can be shown for studies which cite that Global Warming is the fundamental cause of the temperature increase experienced in the past century.

Please note, that I have not defended the "Global Warming" theory you so callously refute, but do however urge you to actually look at the science and biases involved. I will however note that studies have concluded that an increase of greenhouse gases in micro-environments which were tightly controlled (statistically) resulted in a statistically significant increase in the overall sustainable temperature of the system. Anyone who had ANY experience with thermodynamics would probably conclude the same. This seems to be a little known fact that Oil Companies don't want you to hear though. :)

Cheers.

Pseudoscience, yes (2.66 / 3) (#117)
by madgeo on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 07:54:30 PM EST

The same scientists that try to claim objectivity, get funding from the government to examine Global Warming. So what incentive do they have to follow the scientific method. What makes them be "more objective" than a scientist paid by a Big Company. I would say nothing! Being a practicing scientist myself, I look at the data myself, and what I see does not impress me from either side of the argument. Lack of data, which is the norm with global warming, does not a crisis make.

My (main) point is, this is not the end of the world so why are so many people saying it is? And worse, making rash decisions and actions on it like treaties!



[ Parent ]
Scientific Bias != Pseudoscience (3.00 / 1) (#120)
by wiggum on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 09:11:50 PM EST

As the subject says Bias != Pseudoscience.

All scientists have biases. Are you going to to discount all theories because of this? A correlation has been observed between two variables. While one still may not be able to claim causation, this is still no reason why to call it "Pseudoscience." Please read a Scientific Reasoning book, for a proper distinction between *REAL* Science and Pseudoscience.

How can reduction of pollution be a bad thing? I argee with you that there may be instances where we may have to "draw the line," but as an asthma sufferer, I can tell you for a fact that pollution does hurt people.
Cheers.

[ Parent ]
Call it a coincidence, but... (5.00 / 1) (#135)
by leonbrooks on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 05:59:19 AM EST

All scientists have biases. Are you going to to discount all theories because of this?
No, but I will discount some theories because of this.

For example, nuclear reactions were not much thought of when science as a whole settled for the ``big burning ball of coal in the sky'' theory for the Sun's operation. Plasma physics was not well understood when science as a whole re-settled on the ``big fusing ball of hydrogen in the sky'' theory for the Sun's operation. But are sunspots blinding blue-white, as you would expect from a fusing Sun? Do charged particles decelerate as they leave the Sun, as you would expect from a gravitationally-driven process? Is the corona cooler than the Sun's surface, as you would expect for a fusing Sun? No (darker), no (they accelerate!) and no (hotter).

Given that most of astronomy is vocally wrong about the visually largest, brightest item in the sky, the closest star by several orders of magnitude, would I be sensible to trust astronomy's other conclusions about remoter, less distinct objects?

Now... isn't it a striking coincidence that DuPont's patent on chloroflourocarbon propellants just happened to expire as the hullabaloo about ozone holes and this same propellant began to be raised? Was the ozone flap entirely real, or was it largely driven by a megacorporation poisoning a waterhole?

Consider what all of the players have to win and lose, wiggum, before taking the press at face value.
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]

Way off topic: color of stars (5.00 / 2) (#191)
by antra on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 12:15:47 PM EST

I just ripped this off of askjeeves because, although I was at one time an astrophysics major, it's 0836 and I'm still drinking my coffee. I know for a fact that your bunk about star color is incorrect, I just didn't know specifically why. And here we are. I find it highly offensive that you discount an entire branch of science because you yourself don't understand the principles involved. I've no comment on the global warming debate (I've not formed a solid opinion yet), but this just ticked me off. And yes, I took 15 minutes or so to think about and formulate a response :). The use of starlight color is one of the most solid foundations of astronomy today. Anything else I'll have to refer you to the experts. Two sources for arguments below...one from askjeeves, the a few others from several people on an astronomy/physics forum I've joined, and they ARE knowledgable about these things, complete with (as I am lacking) terminology.


If the sun is a star just like all the others, why does it appear yellow rather than white? (Stolen from askjeeves.com)

There are two main reasons why stars appear white, even though they really cover a wide range of colours from deep red (cool stars, less than 3000 °C) to bluish-violet (hot stars, greater than 30 000 °C).

First, the human eye is poor at detecting colours at low light levels. For example, all cats look grey in moonlight. Hence, most stars, especially the fainter ones, appear white.

Secondly, many of the stars visible to the naked eye are genuinely white or bluish-white, being among the hottest and most luminous ones in our region of the Galaxy, such as Rigel in Orion.

Notable exceptions are Betelgeuse in Orion and Antares in Scorpius, which are highly luminous, cool red giant stars near the end of their lives, although these do appear distinctly red when compared to other stars.

Other stars of the same temperature (about 5500 °C) and size as the Sun, or even cooler and smaller ones, are either too dim for their colour to be distinguished by the naked eye or cannot be seen at all without a telescope.

PAUL HATHERLY University of Reading


And from physics-competent person #1:

Sunspots are not blinding blue-white. I don't see any reason you would
*expect* that either. In fact, it's only in the central regions of the sun
that fusion takes place, not the whole thing. The heat generated in the center
diffuses and convects outward to the surface. The temperature of the sun's
surface is about 5800K, which peaks in the yellow. Sunspots are actually
*cooler* than the rest of the sun's surface, probably due to the high magnetic
field inhibiting higher temperature gas below it rising to the surface. Thus
the gas at the sunspot cools, and hence is darker than the rest of the surface
of the sun.

Point two, charged particles etc... I imagine so, but the deceleration is
going to be small. What "gravitationally driven process" is the person talking
about? The ejection of particles isn't gravitationally driven. Usually it's
due to radiation pressure and sometimes interesting magnetic effects.

The corona is much *hotter* than the Sun's surface. I'd like to know why
they'd expect it to be cooler for a fusing sun. The current theory is that the
corona is heated by interation of the magnetic field and the sun's rotation.
In fact, the corona is so hot that this feeds into their question #2, and the
gas escapes the Sun's gravity because it's too hot... this is the solar wind.

As for the last point, "astronomy is vocally wrong about [the sun]" I'd argue
that that's not true, and I'd like to see his supporting argument for that, and
I won't agree with it until he does the physics in detail like the rest of us
have.


Person #2:

a) Sunspots are cooler than the surronding photosphere. Still bitching bad-ass
hot, but a bit cooler. Something to do with the extrusion of magnetic fields
in those areas, I believe. Not sure anyone fully understand them.

b) If you solve for the behavior of the solar wind, there is a term in the
velocity for the loss of energy to gravitational potential of the Sun. There
is also a term for the expansion of the gas as it enters lower density regions.
If you're really thorough, you also add in the effects of the magnetic fields
from the Sun spinning it up. Gravity isn't the only game in town.

c) Yes, the corona is hotter. But this appears to go against ANY theory of the
Sun you can name, since the interior of the Sun is clearly hotter than the
photosphere (see: limb darkening). We have a number of ideas on how to heat the photosphere involving the magnetic field of the Sun. I know of a couple and have even run some simple models of them. trouble is, we don't have a lot of data on what is going on near the surface of the Sun as far as B-field goes.

[ Parent ]
Thanks for writing that... (2.00 / 1) (#198)
by spindo on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 10:58:18 PM EST

The poster you replied has put down about 10 tracks in this debate, and they are in total the least considered of the lot. Talk about something not burning too brightly...

[ Parent ]
So which theory are you refuting there? (none / 0) (#220)
by Ceebs on Wed Mar 07, 2001 at 04:37:48 AM EST

1.) the Sun is hot?

2.)The Sun exists?

3.) The theory of Gravity?

[ Parent ]
I am very much aware of scientific reasoning..... (5.00 / 3) (#153)
by madgeo on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 01:03:10 PM EST

I looked at the global warming data and found it wanting, which is why I wrote the article.

As a working member of the environmental cleanup industry, I can assure you, reduction of pollution can be a good, even great thing. As a generalized trend smog is down the greatest it has been (over all of the recorded air pollution history). If you doubt that see some of Julian Simon's articles on air pollution. He presents concrete evidence of same.

Pollution reduction in some cases is more than warranted. The problem's I have (daily in my career) include lack of proper focus within the regulatory agencies on real problems, lack of removal of chemicals that are proven to not be harmful to humans from action lists (they DO exist), and a lot of similar issues.

For example, a certain state agency had a major study done by Lawrence Livermore Laboratories researching the effect of underground storage tank leaks (i.e. gasoline). To the government agencies horror, the study found that very few tanks severely impacted the water supplies and scientifically proved it. The agency had to close most of the files they were working on, which almost evicerated their usefulness. Of course within two years they found another chemical of concern to reactiviate all those tank files, MTBE, which was put in gasoline in the first place to protect air resources by the very same government!

As I said, I make a living by cleaning this stuff up, so I do have an interest in it continuing. But I would be happy to take a hit in the paycheck in exchange for a little common sense from the government agencies, but that is not what they are about, in this or in global warming!

Aren't you glad you asked



[ Parent ]
Rather than repost (3.62 / 8) (#127)
by Dacta on Sat Mar 03, 2001 at 11:48:15 PM EST

Please read my reaction to Harry Brownes "Environmental" policy.

Some of it irrelvent to this discussion, but I do include a few nice links that debunk the "Greenhouse is Psuedo science" arguement.

Also, read the K5 article on the "Failure at the Hague Climate Conference", particually the bit about the membership of the "Global Climate Coalition" (Oil and Car companies? Hmmmm!).

Also, I highly recommend taking a look at the heartland institute's donor's list before using them as an authority.

Any organisation who's backers include Chrysler Corporation, American Petroleum Institute, Citgo Petroleum Corporation, General Motors and Exxon Corporation better have really, really evidence for their claims (which they don't)

Don't forget that this orgainisation also supports bizzare claims like having good public transport doesn't reduce traffic or pollution.



I couldn't make any sense of your reaction (2.50 / 2) (#231)
by weirdling on Wed Mar 07, 2001 at 12:52:14 PM EST

Other than that, most of the rest of what you have here is rehashed liberal societal management.
The fact is, to pull one out of the air, that mass transit is a failing proposition in the US. That is why people, by and large, do not use it. I realize there are exceptions, but, by and large, this is the rule.
Do you know why I don't ride the bus? It takes me twenty minutes to drive home during rush hour, but it takes the bus an hour on its best route. Now, some would say the bus is more efficient, but, instead of driving approximately fifteen miles in my car, I have been on the bus for closer to thirty. My car makes around 25 MPG on my daily commute. The bus, in order to make the same efficiency as an average car (20MPG), must carry at least seven passengers. In other words, it makes about 3MPG. Now, since I would actually be going half as far, it would require that fourteen people ride the bus to my destination to make it more efficient than my car. I *may* have been on a bus once or twice that had that many people on it.
As to the question of who sponsors a thinktank, that does not make what they say tainted. The people who sponsor the pro side of the global warming debate seem to be gunning for the internal combustion engine and/or 'American excess', which is why their solutions don't even solve the problem according to their models, but do cost an enormous amount of money and will bring American industry to a closer level of cost with the EU, which is where most of the political drive to curtail global warming is. There is plenty of money backing their side, too. Maybe we should look more closely at where it comes from...

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
Proof of global warming is not required (2.58 / 12) (#132)
by spindo on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 02:54:59 AM EST

I can't fathom people like madgeo (Mad Earth? Good choice!). Proving anything related to something as complex as Earth's ecosphere is probably beyond us at this point. But it's idiotic to think that our inability to prove something relieves us of all responsibility. These are big issues with big consequences. If global warming is in motion, the cost to the human race will be terrible. The possibility that we are contributing to devastation and loss of life on a planetary scale should shift the purden of proof to the naysayers like madgeo.

It strikes me as a little odd that madgeo is being paid to clean up hazardous waste. What do you think the folks that created most of the toxic dumps would have said at the time? Something like "Harmful? Hooey! Prove it!" I doubt that the madgeo set is actually stupid; but rather think that they just don't care. It won't personally affect them so much, at least so they hope. It's like the tobacco industry; they knew they were killing thousands, but they just didn't care. All that jazz to the effect that the ill effects were not proven were just to enable the business end of things to carry on. I'd rather these folks just spoke plainly and tell us they don't care.

On the other hand, this article is written at such a sophomoric, or rather kindergarten, level (like the attempted proof presented by quoting from the 70's textbook; what a laugh!) that it makes me wonder if the article is just a troll.

The little doors open, but no bird comes out (2.80 / 5) (#134)
by leonbrooks on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 05:20:23 AM EST

But it's idiotic to think that our inability to prove something relieves us of all responsibility.
Is it really? ``We have no idea whether such-and-such is really happening, but in order to fulfil our responsiblities, we are taking definite action to correct the situation.'' /ME flinches, hurriedly leaves scene before he gets hurt or sees something distressing.


-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]

Some birds have their heads in the sand (3.75 / 4) (#144)
by spindo on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 09:04:33 AM EST

The extremely complex idea I was attempting to communicate was something along the lines of "If you see indications that you might unwittingly be contributing to your own self destruction, maybe it's worth taking some precautionary steps just in case it's true, and as you learn more about the situation."

Apparently, for many people this kind of thinking is a bit of a stretch. Whatever.

[ Parent ]

Birds of a feather panic together (3.75 / 4) (#163)
by leonbrooks on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 06:51:16 PM EST

If you see indications that you might unwittingly be contributing to your own self destruction, maybe it's worth taking some precautionary steps just in case it's true, and as you learn more about the situation.
Given that there are usually an extremely large set of reactions available in any situation, but that only a small subset of those reactions will eventually work out to be helpful, how about considering what we're doing with the planet extremely carefully before we change it?

For example, if you suddenly find yourself caught in the middle of a freeway, your first instinct might be to escape by running. Straight under a car. Much safer to stop, observe and plan for a second or two so your first running steps take you somewhere other than zero-to-sixty in no time at all.

At least while you're stationary, the oncoming traffic has some hope of avoiding you. It is worse than useless to act decisively if you're short an important fact.

The indicators of warming may be short-term or false; a longer-term prognosis may be an ice age. If what we need to do to prevent, hold off or reduce the impact of an ice age is exactly what we're doing to cause the warming, we've just shot ourselves in the foot. Expensively. And almost inevitably the cultures which take the biggest hit from knee-jerk reactions like this are the poorer ones, those who can least afford to.
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]

No arg here; hold the popcorn (1.50 / 2) (#167)
by spindo on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 09:14:26 PM EST

I agree with your point. Lets consider what we should do about the problem, if there is a problem, before we take action. Instead of just blindly doing something, like making lots of popcorn. You're clearly miles ahead of the pack with this type of thinking, thanks!

[ Parent ]
Maybee in some situations (3.00 / 1) (#202)
by Ceebs on Tue Mar 06, 2001 at 09:58:42 AM EST

That might work in a situation where the drivers of the cars might get out of the way
But how about if the situation is that you've jumped out of an aircraft, Are you saying that you shouldn't pull the parachute till you've worked out exactly how hard you're going to hit the ground?

[ Parent ]
It is relatively easy (3.00 / 1) (#230)
by weirdling on Wed Mar 07, 2001 at 12:41:33 PM EST

To deduce the effect of landing on the ground at terminal velocity. Even if you're an order of magnitude off, it won't matter; you'll still be dead. Global warming is another story; order of magnitude off and we have an iceage due to our own efforts.

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
Yes, it really is... (4.33 / 3) (#173)
by partingshot on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 11:23:08 PM EST

> ``We have no idea whether such-and-such is
> really happening, but in order to fulfil our
> responsiblities, we are taking definite action
> to correct the situation.''


Do you realize that you used a classic straw man
argument here?

So, yes, it really is:

"We _THINK_ such & such is really happening,
so we are going to take action to try and
correct the situation."




[ Parent ]
The little doors open, but no bird comes out (2.75 / 4) (#140)
by leonbrooks on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 07:09:26 AM EST

But it's idiotic to think that our inability to prove something relieves us of all responsibility.
Is it really? ``We have no idea whether such-and-such is really happening, but in order to fulfil our responsiblities, we are taking definite action to correct the situation.'' /ME flinches, hurriedly leaves scene before he gets hurt or sees something distressing.


-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
[ Parent ]

Maybe, but "possibility" is not enough (2.75 / 4) (#146)
by mw on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 09:35:23 AM EST

...it's idiotic to think that our inability to prove something relieves us of all responsibility. These are big issues with big consequences....The possibility that we are contributing to devastation and loss of life on a planetary scale should shift the [b]urden of proof to the naysayers like madgeo.

Mere "possibility" is not a rational basis for doing anything unless the cost of acting is zero. And as the article points out, there are very real costs involved in acting on alleged global warming.

The comment above omits the step of balancing possibility of disaster with the costs of prevention.

If there were a 0.5% possibility that global warming is true and that the effects of would be devastating to human life, but the cost of preventing it were sure to result in a world-wide economic downturn, then a rational person would not advocate action.

I'm not saying these are the numbers, but am simply tring to show that an analysis of such things is not optional, as implied by the comment.

Mark



[ Parent ]
Balance this (4.00 / 1) (#159)
by spindo on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 02:58:13 PM EST

You said: "If there were a 0.5% possibility that global warming is true and that the effects of would be devastating to human life, but the cost of preventing it were sure to result in a world-wide economic downturn, then a rational person would not advocate action."

I agree. With those figures, I'd qualify as one of your rational figures. But as far as I can tell, the shoe is on the other foot. The number of scientists that say there is significant evidence of global warming, and that it's quite likely due to our civilization of the planet, has increased dramatically over the last five years. Those are not just news sound bites; they're our best collective estimtes of current trends. And of course some reports go the other way. That's what happens when you're collecting data about an unbelievably complex set of interactions and attempting to draw reasonable conclusions, you get a mix.

What if you posit our situation as being more like 25% that's we're contributing to global warming and messing things up badly. Here I'm giving the "What Me Worry?" crowd the benefit of the doubt; as far as I can tell, most of the folks studying this issue are on the seriously concerned side of things, but ok, it's not "proven" to everyone. Well, I'd say 25% with high stakes like these is riveting.

What to do about it, how much we should disturb the status quo is a different matter. Even if you are willing to spend your tax dollars to be on the safe side of things, a sure solution to the problem has to be even less clear than the tennative description of the problem. And as we can see there is plenty of diversity of opinion, and frankly many don't care. X will still be able to buy his SUV, and that's all that counts for a lot of folks. So we're never going to all be pulling in the same direction.

I hope at some point in the near future things get clear enough so that the rational end of the human race will show itself and we'll at least make an effort to set things right, if it's at all in our power to do so.

[ Parent ]

100% possibility (1.50 / 2) (#174)
by partingshot on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 11:29:27 PM EST

That the air sucks in my city because of
manufacturing/autos. Sure, all of that
manufacturing gives me a better life, yada
yada yada...

Can't I have both?

Clean air _AND_ the benefits of modern tech?

I also know that I sail one of these bad
boys:
http://www.hobiecat.com/cats/h16pic/16fly.jpg

and I fucking _HATE_ jet skiers and the oil
they leave behind and the noise they make.

[ Parent ]
Couldn't resist.. (4.33 / 3) (#151)
by madgeo on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 12:37:41 PM EST

Your right, "proving anything related to something as complex as Earth's ecosphere is probably beyond us at this point.", you got (one of) the point(s)!

I am very amused by the troll comments. I can assure you (for whatever it is worth) I beleive what I wrote. Some of the troll comments are just a simplistic attempt to dodge the logic of my article. I wrote it at a "sophomoric" level for general consumption. If a kindergartner can understand technical writing, maybe a non-scientist will. Not everyone is a rocket scientist (presumably) such as yourself.



[ Parent ]
A clue for you... (2.00 / 2) (#161)
by spindo on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 05:18:13 PM EST

If you want to have any chance of "making friends and influencing others", don't talk down to them. The quote from the textbook is a valid point - if the point is "THEY can be wrong!" or maybe "Hey, THEY can assert as fact something that is conjecture! But this is something that most everyone's figured out by now. Really! They do assert stuff in error sometimes, and probably so do you and I. But by sharing this brilliant insight of yours in a manner that is supposed to lend weight to just your side of the debate, it reduces the scope I at least as a reader can possibly grant you. There were many other points in your essay on the same level, anyways...

Here's another, in your first paragraph:

"...I do not agree with environmentalists. Yet every day is Earth Day for me. My career is cleaning up hazardous waste. As such, I am very much concerned and aware of the problems associated with civilization."

Uhh, to me a least you sound like you are an (shudder) environmentalist of sorts; you just don't like or trust a lot of what "those" environmentalists assert. If you'd just said "Hey anyone have any insight into how much of the current global warming buzz we're hearing is bs? Some of it almost by definition has to be... and here is my take on it."

At the end, you'd have come to your senses, and would immediately embrace your local recycler. <g>

[ Parent ]

Embracing my local recycler.... (3.00 / 1) (#213)
by madgeo on Tue Mar 06, 2001 at 07:25:48 PM EST

I've seen my local recycler and it isn't pretty. But joking aside, I'm not sure one can "make friends" with this topic, its too Politically Correct as evidenced by numerous ranting comments posted in response. One can only present the facts as clearly and concisely as possible for public consumption. As for the tone(s) that I used, well it WAS an Op-Ed piece.

Actually I do refer to myself as a "conservationist" because environmentalists do things to give themselves a very bad name, in my book. I beleive in reasonable conservation of wildlands (i.e. forests) and other types of reasonable conservation. I'm even not particularly in favor of Nuclear power (although even that is being solved by better technology).

It is my belief (with more than sufficient evidence) that technology will solve the bulk if not all of the problems environmentalists dream up. It has in the past, almost catagorically! Take a look at Julian Simon's writings if you doubt it.

We started out with wood as an energy source, till that got thin, then coal (nasty air problem), then whale oil (till almost extinction), then hydrocarbon oils. Each of those events came to crisis but ultimately were solved. So it will be with this.

Man is nothing if not creative in a crisis (even when its a perceived crisis).

[ Parent ]

why do I let this get my blood pressure up? (4.66 / 3) (#172)
by partingshot on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 11:16:28 PM EST

His 'proof' from a 1970's textbook was great.

Then he backs it up with some links to
conservative 'think' tanks.

The greatest failure of the public school
system is that they don't teach a course
on logic & critical thinking. Well,
that and personal finance.

[ Parent ]
Worst comes to the worst (1.00 / 1) (#219)
by Ceebs on Wed Mar 07, 2001 at 04:29:46 AM EST

at least it gets rid of all those pesky Florida democrat voters

[ Parent ]
Going off half-crocked (3.36 / 11) (#138)
by leonbrooks on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 06:55:22 AM EST

I see a truly stunning number of posts in here which amount to either ``I'm not sure that we know what's going on, but let's react anyway'' or ``well, yes, so we exaggerated, but we needed to lie to get people to do something about it.''

The first is insane, the second is immoral. In reverse order, the-end-justifies-the-means may sound like a good idea at the time in philosophy class but it sucks big-time when implemented in the real world, and doing aerobatics on instruments when you have no idea whether they work or not is not my idea of a survival trait.

Do you guys really think like this, or do you just forget to think before you type? Enquiring minds probably don't want to know, but are masochist enough to ask anyway... it's a serious question - even though I'm shaking my head sadly as I type - please answer!
-- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee

Correlation != Causality (3.77 / 9) (#145)
by redelm on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 09:33:43 AM EST

This article gets into the neoluddite acrimonious debate on the role of CO2 in global warming. The acrimony in itself is telling. I've seen the data showing CO2 levels going up and down nicely with global temperatures. To this I have one basic response: "Correlation is NOT causality."

If temperatures were to go up from any event (solar, geothermal, or the bellowing of prehistoric /.ers), the CO2 levels would _have_ to rise because of decreased water solubility. Ever opened a warm soda can? Some quick calcs with an aqueous ionic equilibria program confirmed it's about the right order of magnitude.

I dunno what causes global warming if such a thing is real. It might even be an increase in CO2 emissions! But I sure wouldn't go spending $billions or trying to change lifestyles without much better evidence than currently available.

Look at it another way -- in 100 to 300 years, using fossil fuels will be about as rare as using wood is for us today. Economics will force it. The replacement will likely be nuclear [fast breeder reactors], although solar has a chance [Mercury orbit].



Superficial Analysis (4.00 / 1) (#171)
by Komodo321 on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 11:12:36 PM EST

It's not like someone said "look, I found a correlation!" and everyone panicked over CO2. There is a solid body of physics that establishes beyond a doubt that certain gasses (like CO2) increase the retention of heat in the Earth's atmosphere. Based on our distance from the sun and planetary reflectiveness, Earth would be much colder if not for naturally occuring greenhouse gasses. And humans have doubled the concentration of CO2 in the last 200 years, while also dramatically increasing the level of other heat trapping gasses like methane, CFCs, and NOX.

Yes, the amount of change and its rate is uncertain. Its effects on a complex, non-linear system cannot be predicted to the nth degree. But each year, thousands of meteorologists and climatologists sign on to the notion that there is evidence for global warming, and that the influence of human activity is real. The vigorous debate in the scientific community is a sign that real thought is occuring; the unanimity among the conservative economists opposed to the idea of global warming is a sign that ideology has supressed a real examination of the data.

[ Parent ]
Solid body of physics? (3.00 / 1) (#229)
by weirdling on Wed Mar 07, 2001 at 12:35:11 PM EST

Beyond a shadow of a doubt? Did you even read the heartland.org link? There seems to be plenty of doubt about the assertions you have made, and the implication that conservative climatologists are letting political ideology control their thought processes is an interesting counterattack to the assertion many have made that the liberal climatologists most certainly are letting their ideology control their science.

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
It shouldn't matter... (4.71 / 7) (#147)
by Ming D. Merciless on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 09:40:43 AM EST

Let's just pretend that the Earth isn't on the edge of a dramatic climate change. Also, let's pretend that even if it were that it wasn't due to human activity. So what? Doesn't it still make sense to search for and fund the search for cleaner, more efficient ways to power our homes, move our cars and fuel industry? Irrespective of the climate, it seems to me that the cleaner, more efficient our energy supplies are, the more we win. It's Sunday morning and I haven't had my coffee yet, so please tell me people -- am I making any sense here?

==============================================
A little slice of 1987 on the internet. Visit KAOS -- Central NY's premiere BBS. Multi-user, telnetable, Citadel/UX.
Sure you make sense... (3.00 / 1) (#154)
by spindo on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 01:25:29 PM EST

You've expressed the core of common sense in this matter.

It puzzles me when I hear folks in total denial. There are several posts that just ridicule the possibility that we could be contributing to global warming, and the original author comes close to that too.

On the other hand, I think most of the people here that are posting in the "we should watch out for global warming" vein are just being cautious in the face of mounting evidence. I don't see a lot of assertions of proof or fact; but rather a willingness to at least consider the possibility, and that the magnitude of the consequences demand attention and possibly action.

[ Parent ]

I agree, but... (4.00 / 1) (#182)
by acronos on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 06:38:44 AM EST

>I don't see a lot of assertions of proof or
>fact; but rather a willingness to at least
>consider the possibility, and that the magnitude
>of the consequences demand attention and
>possibly action.

I agree that we should consider the possibility and even fund significant research into it. It is the magnitude of the "possible action" that is being considered that concerns me. The type of regulations that are being considered for a "possible problem" have TREMENDOUS economic impact. If there was more conclusive evidence available then I would consider such action important. But, as it stands now, such action seems VERY foolish. Why destroy our economy and cause a recession for a "possible" problem. Unless that problem could only be dealt with NOW because of some rule of cause and effect. But that it can only be dealt with now is not true. If we prove than certain gasses cause a problem then we already know the solution. Come up with ways to take that gas out of the atmosphere. ONE way to do that is to reduce production of that gas. That is only ONE way though, there are hundreds of other ways to solve the problem. And at such time as we are sure of the causual relationship between our putting out certain gasses and the rise of global temperature we will be much more able to deal with the situation becuase the science will be better. As it stands right now that RELATIONSHIP IS NOT CLEAR. At least not that man plays a significant part in it. I know greenhouse gasses are very real and VERY NEEDED FOR LIFE ON EARTH. Once the science is properly developed we would actually be able to regulate our environment in yet another very human way. Not that I would encourage that unless it became important to the survival of the human race. As it stands now, the threat to our survival seems more like the y2k issue. Lots of hype and fear about what is likely to be a very real but solvable problem.

[ Parent ]
The cynic's view. (3.42 / 7) (#150)
by Sax Maniac on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 12:15:19 PM EST

I take the most cyncial view one could possibly imagine:

A large concentration of the world's population lives on the coastline (look at population density map sometime). Of that, all the most powerful people in the world live there.

These people have the most to lose global warming happens, even if it is natural. The oceans rise a foot or so, and all the expensive real estate disappears. Buh-bye. (Somehow, this reminds me of Superman, where Lex Luthor plots to destroy part of California in order to make the desert land more valuable.)

Oh, that can't happen. So, they pester governments, the UN, and other various organizations to force everyone else in the world a futile effort to save their ephemeral patch of property. So, my bogometer gets pegged whenver I hear a global warming story.

I never understand why people all get bent out of shape when the Mississippi river floods out. Such thinking is similar to me expecting that there will always be an exactly equal amount of water running down my gutters for time eternal. Guess what? It doesn't. Live there and expect it, or don't live there. Duh!


Stop screwing around with printf and gdb and get a debugger that doesn't suck.

This is a stupid argument... (3.09 / 11) (#156)
by jd on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 02:17:57 PM EST

First, the author seems very confused. There is a big difference beween a mean temperature rise and a global temperature rise. "Global Warming" refers only to the former.

BUT, if you increase the temperature at one point, you will typically -REDUCE- the temperature at a different point. The system, as a whole, will tend towards stability.

So, those who fear ice-ages are NOT contradicting those who fear Global Warming. It's the SAME fear, not an opposite one.

This is why debates like this are counter-productive, when led by someone ignorant of the basic chemistry and physics of the atmosphere.

What makes me any more "knowledgable"? First, logging my own data. (Wind speed/direction, maximum/minimum temperature, perticipation quantity and form, pressure, cloud cover, etc.)

Yeah, sure there are those who have "golden memories", which don't match their present-day experiences. The difference is, I have the numbers to prove those differences are real, for me.

Secondly, let's take a look at some basic mechanics, here. The climate (NOT the weather) is a system that is very sensitive to initial conditions. That means, variances in conditions at one time will NOT dissipate, but actually accumulate, given time. That is why forecasts are notoriously inaccurate. Not because the models are screwey, it's because even tiny variations can totally mess up the largest weather system, in a very short time.

(See James Gleik's book: "Chaos", and Benoit Mandelbrot's book: "The Fractal Geometry Of Nature", for a better explanation.)

Third, let's look at some basic chemistry, here. Earth is essentially a closed system, for all intents and purposes. In the early atmosphere, there was no free oxygen. Today, there is. If you reverse the chemical processes that have taken place, as you cannot create or destroy matter, you would end up with the initial conditions. Simple as that.

Those initial conditions would be lethal to all living things, today. Nothing could survive them. By burning fossil fuels, we are reducing the atmosphere to a more primitive state, far far faster than it can restore itself.

Yeah, sure, CO2 is absorbed by the oceans. It turns into carbonic acid, and then into limestone. I don't fancy breathing limestone, do you?

Then Sulphur Dioxide and Nitrogen Dioxide also react with water, turning into Sulphuric Acid and Nitric Acid. Much of the Netherlands has become deforrested, due to acid rain so extreme that no living plant or tree can survive the conditions.

Does it REALLY matter, given all this, as to the exact temperature on some beach in Hawaii? Does it REALLY matter, given all this, as to whether the ice sheet'll withdraw or expand?

If the answer is yes, then there's no hope for you. You're too busy living in the problem to find your way into the solution. I don't care if you're living in the problem by causing it, believing in it's righteousness, or because you're too stupid to make life better for yourself. "Why" doesn't matter. You're killing yourself and/or others by holding such a view. What difference can the reason make?

If the answer is no, then you're freed from this obsession with pointless point-scoring and childish bickering over "who's right", and can ACT. Living in the solution is so much better than dying from the problem, whether you believe any particular name that problem is given. Neither the name, nor your belief, can change the outcome. It's what you do, as a result, that can make a difference.

observations... (3.00 / 2) (#176)
by flash91 on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 01:31:03 AM EST

> from your message:
Secondly, let's take a look at some basic mechanics, here. The climate (NOT the weather) is a system that is very sensitive to initial conditions. That means, variances in conditions at one time will NOT dissipate, but actually accumulate, given time. That is why forecasts are notoriously inaccurate. Not because the models are screwey, it's because even tiny variations can totally mess up the largest weather system, in a very short time.

(See James Gleik's book: "Chaos", and Benoit Mandelbrot's book: "The Fractal Geometry Of Nature", for a better explanation.)
> end

I believe I have read both books ( a long time ago, 80's I think). However there is no proof (as far as I can see) that weather systems behave like julia sets,etc. Math imitates life, life does not imitate math. Don't confuse salesmanship with science.

Now we know that the earth heats up and cools down regardless of whether we are here (multiple ice sheets)

I've heard that we are destroying the Ozone. These sort of claims can be refuted easily. The "ozone" is a layer of oxygen that exists in an ionic form, due to solar radiation. While you can put of CFC's, as long as we have oxygen, and the sun, you can't do long term harm.

The global warming argument needs more work before it is put out. Credibility is lost because theories with obvious problems keep being presented. Better science, less grandstanding would help.




[ Parent ]
Lowest Energy Level Wins (4.00 / 1) (#183)
by jd on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 09:25:35 AM EST

You only form ozone from oxygen & radiation IF that is the preferred state. It's the preferred state if there' s nothing else present, but that does NOT mean that it remains the preferred state when you add CFC's.

Indeed, as CFCs act as catalysts to reduce ozone, ozone is reduced to oxygen. All you need, then, for net depletion, is for the catalyst to reduce ozone a single molecule per unit time faster than the radiation can form it.

Indeed, it is generally always going to be easier to reduce molecules which are inherently unstable than to extend stable ones into unstable configurations.

[ Parent ]

Who needs facts anyway? (5.00 / 3) (#205)
by goaway on Tue Mar 06, 2001 at 11:36:35 AM EST

Secondly, let's take a look at some basic mechanics, here. The climate (NOT the weather) is a system that is very sensitive to initial conditions. That means, variances in conditions at one time will NOT dissipate, but actually accumulate, given time. That is why forecasts are notoriously inaccurate. Not because the models are screwey, it's because even tiny variations can totally mess up the largest weather system, in a very short time.
Why are you saying that it's the climate and not the weather that's sensitive to initial conditions? The generally accepted view is that it's exactly WEATHER that's chaotic, and your arguments even agree with this. Forecasts are concerned with weather, not climate.
Third, let's look at some basic chemistry, here. Earth is essentially a closed system, for all intents and purposes. In the early atmosphere, there was no free oxygen. Today, there is. If you reverse the chemical processes that have taken place, as you cannot create or destroy matter, you would end up with the initial conditions. Simple as that. Those initial conditions would be lethal to all living things, today. Nothing could survive them.
Nonsense. We are not "reversing the chemical processes that have taken place". This sort of broad, sweeping statement without any facts to back it up means nothing.
Yeah, sure, CO2 is absorbed by the oceans. It turns into carbonic acid, and then into limestone. I don't fancy breathing limestone, do you?
So now the threat is that of us depleting the Earth's oxygen supply, is it?
If the answer is no, then you're freed from this obsession with pointless point-scoring and childish bickering over "who's right", and can ACT.
Yes, let's ignore the truth, and act (it is important to ACT!) on out slightest whim!
Living in the solution is so much better than dying from the problem, whether you believe any particular name that problem is given.
I think the original article, if you'd read it, was concerened with dying from the solution.

[ Parent ]
Pray, do tell (4.00 / 2) (#228)
by weirdling on Wed Mar 07, 2001 at 12:30:08 PM EST

What is the difference between mean temperature rise and global temperature rise?
You have been loggin your own data? Over the oceans, at various levels in the oceans themselves, over all land, both poles, in all strata of air? This is a notoriously difficult thing, and the actual mean earth temperature is in doubt at this very moment, so any historical measurements are not likely to be accepted.

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
I logged data for where I lived. (4.00 / 2) (#232)
by jd on Wed Mar 07, 2001 at 01:10:19 PM EST

After all, that was the easiest data to log.

Yes, you can argue that regional changes != global changes. And that is certainly true. However, I'd also argue that any data > no data at all.

As for the difference between "global" temperature and "mean" temperature: The mean temperature is defined as the sum of all temperatures, divided by the number of temperatures.

This would be the "global" temperature, if the specific heat of all objects were the same. However, because the specific heat varies wildly, over even small distances, the "mean" temperature is not a good indicator of the actual heat present within Earth's biosphere.

A true "global temperature" is not the average of the temperatures, but rather an average of the heat, divided by the average specific heat.

This difference is extremely important, especially when studying things like the melting ice-caps. To melt ice requires heat, but it does NOT change the temperature. Thus, looking at the temperature alone does NOT indicate the amount of heat present.

[ Parent ]

This is exactly so (3.00 / 1) (#233)
by weirdling on Wed Mar 07, 2001 at 01:44:22 PM EST

The 'global temperature', as you have defined it, is the holy grail of climatology, and, unfortunately, devilishly difficult to measure. No one has ever successfully measured it yet.
A note about your data: while it is certain that some data is better than no data, if data is horribly incomplete, no conclusions can be drawn at peril of being very wrong. Essentially, it is easily demonstrable that any place on the ground where temperature is taken near a human dwelling will result in a history of rising average temperatures. There is absolutely no doubt of this. However, it doesn't even begin to predict the 'global temperature', nor is it even really correlated to it in any significant way. What a lot of this observance does show is that things are getting systematically milder on land, while at sea and in the air, things are getting somewhat cooler. In other words, there is less of a sharp divide due to lattitude and more of a sharp divide due to content of medium.

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
I love a good argument... (3.00 / 3) (#170)
by Lord Snott on Sun Mar 04, 2001 at 10:51:48 PM EST

Although I think the world probably is heating up, it's good to see a well presented argument for the contrary. The media generally likes to jump on whatever profitable bandwagon it can find (ie anything that says your way of life is going to send you to hell). The Y2k problem is a perfect example. Due to media hype $300 Billion was spent worldwide to fix an issue, then everyone complained nothing went wrong! (That is why the money was spent...) Human influence on the environment cannot be ignored, but don't get carried away by hype. -I have principles, if you dont like them I have others-
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
This sig in violation of U.S. trademark
registration number 2,347,676.
Bummer :-(

Sure! (5.00 / 1) (#252)
by gunnk on Fri Mar 09, 2001 at 09:43:26 AM EST

From a strictly Homo Sapiens point of view -- absolutely! The biggest reason we look to fight global warming or ANY climate change is to protect our collective standard of living. A new ice age would wipe out much of the wheat-producing parts of the world -- especially Canada and much of the Great Plains production. Global warming could cause the mass abandonment of coastal cities and (again) big disruptions to food production. Most people would consider either warming or cooling to be a Bad Thing (TM) due to these disruptions to human life. Therefore -- we study them and do our best to prevent them!

[ Parent ]
An order of magnitude out... (2.50 / 2) (#178)
by PhadeRunner on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 05:24:41 AM EST

We could even make all 6 million plus people on the earth wear mirrors on their heads to reflect the heat. Where does the point of insanity begin?

6 billion, yes b-i-l-l-i-o-n...

:)

(P.S. Great article BTW...)

whew... (4.00 / 1) (#194)
by jxqvg on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 12:45:38 PM EST

That's like, 6,000 times more reflective power, making it a 6,000 times more effective solution!

[sig]
[ Parent ]
Life Under the Hole in the Sky (1.50 / 2) (#186)
by dj@ on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 10:50:54 AM EST

This article is about people in Punta Arenas, Chile, who are actually living with the results of global warming. It's not a myth to them, so it's quite lame of you to shrug off a problem that they mostly didn't create, but have to deal with more than anyone.

I think scientific evidence is there, as I saw a very comprehensive study on teevee that looked at temperature variations over the past 6,000 years, and cleary showed a relatively *huge* jump beginning with the "Industrial Revolution". Even so, all you have to do is fly into LA and observe for yourself the think blanket of smog to know that something is very wrong. The blanket of smog is itself the negative consequence, and you don't have too look at the consequences of having smog and pollution to see that it's not good. Saying there's no proof that smog and pollution produce any bad consequences is just stupid. If we can find a way to have "progress" without all of the downsides, the world would be a better place. This is what's meant by sustainable development.

Ozone hole and even less data, (4.75 / 4) (#188)
by madgeo on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 11:36:20 AM EST

It is true that the people of Punta Arenas are living with a real problem. A problem that we have even less data on than the best data available for global warming. The ozone hole was discovered around 1982. Scientists believe that it is being enhanced by choroflourocarbons (CFC), but for all we know the ozone hole has been there since the beginning of time. And you can bring the best evidence on the ozone subject and I will show you evidence riddled with assumptions, just like global warming. Herein lies the problem.

Now, that being said, at least in the case of the Ozone Hole there is now a real and present danger to humans instead of a presumed danger that could cause an irrational response that might hurt more humans as is the case with global warming.

It also brings up a great example. Halon is a fire fighting chemical that has been effectively banned due to the fact it is a ozone-impactor. And I would wager people have died as a result, because a halon fire suppression system was not cost effective and/or available to control a fire that started.

The interesting thing is, Halon was banned, and yet its use was very limited compared to consumer aerosols and such. So now, based on a typical governmental over-reaction based on limited scientific data we have people probably dying as a result.

Now who gets to decide who dies, do you?



[ Parent ]
Wrong, wrong wrong (4.00 / 2) (#189)
by sparks on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 11:38:58 AM EST

The ozone "hole" is nothing to do with global warming. It is a completely unrelated issue.

But your lack of knowledge hasn't stopped you getting all moralistic about it, has it? And that's exactly the problem.

[ Parent ]

Yes it may (3.00 / 1) (#195)
by dj@ on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 03:48:50 PM EST

The current wave of thought is that global warming is contributing to the ozone hole. This is also stated in the article here.

Basically, since the hole in the ozone has accelerated despite efforts to reduce CFC's, the feeling is that global warming is contributing to the destruction of the ozone.

[ Parent ]
Or just maybe (4.00 / 1) (#227)
by weirdling on Wed Mar 07, 2001 at 12:21:55 PM EST

The ozone hole was caused by something other than *our* emissions of CFCs. From the data I'm reading, the reduction in the ozone-destroying chemicals are not comparative to the reduction in output of said chemicals. It has long been postulated that volcanoes do, indeed, have a larger effect on the ozone hole than anything else. Incidentally, this is where the two problems are related: by far the largest emitter of greenhouse gases is volcanoes as well.

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
just small clarification (4.00 / 2) (#190)
by hany on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 11:41:34 AM EST

I just want to state this: madgeo is writing about global warming, you are writing abou ozone hole.

Both thinks are related to wheather, our lives and to environment and also to each other. But they are still two different things so we can't do argument like this:

A: Oh, I think global warming does not exist.
B: I disagree, ozone hole does exists!

Or am I missing something?


hany


[ Parent ]
The view form Northern England. (2.33 / 3) (#192)
by shippo on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 12:25:39 PM EST

Last year, my part of England had really severe weather. Basically it rained all year, with terrible flooding in some areas. People in my town suffered sever flood damage for the first time; further downstream the river levels in the city of York were at the highest ever recorded. Main roads were impassable, whole communities cut off, and so on. Pretty indicative of global warming.

Now it is March, and we are having one of coldest spells at this time of year for a long time. Temparatures are well below freezing (-6 degrees C). Global warming??

Wheres the inconsistancy. (4.00 / 1) (#201)
by pallex on Tue Mar 06, 2001 at 09:13:09 AM EST

Just cos its called `global warming` doesnt mean everyone will get warmer. England is warmer than similar countries (Denmark, for example) because we are heated by the Gulf Stream. Which is losing strength, because of global warming, so we`re going to get a lot colder over the coming years.

[ Parent ]
Or it's just possible (3.00 / 1) (#225)
by weirdling on Wed Mar 07, 2001 at 12:08:27 PM EST

That the gulfstream is changing due to some other, misunderstood cause.

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
No it's not (4.00 / 1) (#209)
by briandunbar on Tue Mar 06, 2001 at 02:41:00 PM EST

Sorry to take the cold rational view .. but severe weather in your part of England is indicative of . . . severe weather in your part of England. Nothing else.


Feed the poor, eat the rich!
[ Parent ]

Climate Change. (4.00 / 4) (#196)
by broody on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 06:00:31 PM EST

Hmm...

Journalist simplify so much they lose the background but then again, who would understand it if only the "experts" wrote the articles.

Ironic essay considering recent stories about the UN's Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change has just claimed the most evidence to date that humans are the cause of global warming.

Then there are all the other nitpicky little details lurking about such as:
  • Species doing strange things due to Global Warming
  • Ice now cover 15 percent less of the Arctic Ocean than it did 20 years ago.
  • Recent temperatures on Earth have been warmer than any in at least 1,000 years.

    Of course we all know this is just some liberal hippie conspiracy to destroy the automobile industry so I will just hop in my SUV and turn up the radio. NA, NA, NA, I can't hear you.


    ~~ Whatever it takes
  • Ironic, indeed. (4.66 / 3) (#197)
    by sec on Mon Mar 05, 2001 at 07:01:21 PM EST

    Ironic essay considering recent stories about the UN's Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change has just claimed the most evidence to date that humans are the cause of global warming.

    Point of fact: The IPCC is composed completely of bureaucrats. There isn't a single scientist on it. I don't see how they're any more qualified to evaluate the evidence than the essay writer is.

    Of course we all know this is just some liberal hippie conspiracy to destroy the automobile industry so I will just hop in my SUV and turn up the radio. NA, NA, NA, I can't hear you.

    You seem to be ignoring:

    - the satellite records which show that the temperature has not significantly increased in the last 20 years.

    - The problems with the surface temperature record.

    - Evidence that the sea level has in fact been falling in the last century, rather than rising.

    And yet, you accuse those you disagree with of ignoring the evidence! This truly is ironic.



    [ Parent ]

    Choking on Irony. (4.00 / 1) (#203)
    by broody on Tue Mar 06, 2001 at 10:40:55 AM EST

    The IPCC is composed completely of bureaucrats.

    Correct, bureacrats who organized the scientific and technical community's peer review process to generate a report that covered the evidence and impact of climate change of every region of the world. It was a massive undertaking to organize the scientists involved which is evident after reading the preface alone.

    - the satellite records which show that the temperature has not significantly increased in the last 20 years.

    Funny how the NOAA / NESDIS differs with your interpration of the data as they are the parent ogranization to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who notes a half a degree temperture rise in the last twenty years, noted by those wacky sats. I guess they are part of the conspiracy too, huh?

    - The problems with the surface temperature record.

    There have been several efforts to reconcile the variance of land stations, for example here is one. The variance is normal and does not remove the solid statistical support for warming.

    - Evidence that the sea level has in fact been falling in the last century, rather than rising.

    Perhaps a little essay from the Union of Concerned Scientists will clarify this "problem" a bit. The quickie response, it will happen just not quite yet.

    One little note, yes I admit that I am being caustic but it hardly is unique when discussing this topic.


    ~~ Whatever it takes
    [ Parent ]
    Stupid Typo. (3.00 / 1) (#204)
    by broody on Tue Mar 06, 2001 at 10:45:00 AM EST

    Oops!

    I typed:
    Funny how the NOAA / NESDIS differs with your interpration of the data as they are the parent ogranization to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who notes a half a degree temperture rise in the last twenty years, noted by those wacky sats.

    Please replace twenty years with twenty five. Thanks.


    ~~ Whatever it takes
    [ Parent ]
    Twenty Five Years, not 25 Centuries (3.00 / 1) (#238)
    by SEWilco on Wed Mar 07, 2001 at 05:42:00 PM EST

    Yes, twenty five years is better. 1975 was unusually cold, so it's a better year to use for warming comparison than 1970 or 1940, when it was warmer than 1975.

    [ Parent ]
    Not bad, but... (4.00 / 2) (#210)
    by sec on Tue Mar 06, 2001 at 05:23:01 PM EST

    Correct, bureacrats who organized the scientific and technical community's peer review process to generate a report that covered the evidence and impact of climate change of every region of the world. It was a massive undertaking to organize the scientists involved which is evident after reading the preface alone.

    There are plenty of scientists who fail to find the evidence of enhanced global warming convincing. Are they part of the conspiracy too? Is that why the IPCC ignored/dismissed them?

    Funny how the NOAA / NESDIS differs with your interpration of the data as they are the parent ogranization to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who notes a half a degree temperture rise in the last twenty years, noted by those wacky sats. I guess they are part of the conspiracy too, huh?

    If you actually read the satellite data, you'll see that they give the trend as being 0.035 degrees C per decade. (0.063 degrees F) Over 25 years, that ends up being a change of 0.0875 degrees C (0.1575 degrees F).

    Whoops! Perhaps the 0.5 degree figure didn't come from the satellites at all, but from the highly flawed surface record.

    Why NOAA ignored the evidence from their own satellites can only be speculated. Perhaps there really _is_ a conspiracy. :)

    There have been several efforts to reconcile the variance of land stations, for example here is one. The variance is normal and does not remove the solid statistical support for warming.

    However, this reference uses the words 'estimated' and 'probably' a lot. It also mentions that part of the correction is based on computer climate models, which, as another poster has pointed out, are nowhere near adequate.

    Sorry, very unconvincing.

    Perhaps a little essay from the Union of Concerned Scientists will clarify this "problem" a bit. The quickie response, it will happen just not quite yet.

    How about sticking to what _is_ happening, rather than what _might_ happen?

    Tide harnesses also have a slight problem in that they are tethered to the land -- wherever the land moves, the guage must necessarily follow. In many places, excessive subsurface water withdrawal has caused land to subside, causing the tide guages to read higher.



    [ Parent ]

    Scientists are not experts on everything (2.50 / 2) (#212)
    by Matthew Guenther on Tue Mar 06, 2001 at 07:01:38 PM EST

    There are plenty of scientists who fail to find the evidence of enhanced global warming convincing. Are they part of the conspiracy too? Is that why the IPCC ignored/dismissed them?

    Just because somone has a PhD does not make them an expert on climate or climate change. Considering that every word in the reports from the IPCC has to be agreed to by every member nation of the WMO (essentially any nation in the UN that has a weather service), I have a hard time believing that these represent scientifically valid dissenting opinions (i.e. section 4.2.5 of the IPCC policy manual). For that to be so it would have to be not just the IPCC ignoring them, but every national government on the planet, even those with seriously vested interests in keeping fossil fuel use high (i.e. OPEC nations).

    As a totally anecdotal, but I think intriguing story: A local climatologist who worked on the IPCC report, Dr. Andrew Weaver, was asked by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. (CBC) to do a telivised debate on global climate change. He agreed, but only on the condition that the person representing the opposing side also have a climatology PhD. The CBC could find no one who fit the bill that did not agree with Dr. Weaver. While this is not damnning evidence by any means, it has caused me to keep an eye out for the "everybody's an expert" syndrome when talking about this stuff.

    Finally, if you don't believe the UN, you can always check out the EIA, the statistical body of the U.S. Department of Energy. I have not read all of their literature, but I found this report to be an interesting and level-headed look at emissions and climate change.

    MBG



    [ Parent ]
    Piled Higher and Deeper (4.00 / 2) (#215)
    by sec on Tue Mar 06, 2001 at 10:25:15 PM EST

    Just because somone has a PhD does not make them an expert on climate or climate change.

    True enough. However, approximately 40% of the signers of that petition come from related fields.

    I don't consider this petition to be evidence one way or another. I mainly consider it useful for dispelling the notion that scientific opinion is unanimously in favour of the enhanced greenhouse effect.

    Just because somone has a PhD does not make them an expert on climate or climate change. Considering that every word in the reports from the IPCC has to be agreed to by every member nation of the WMO (essentially any nation in the UN that has a weather service), I have a hard time believing that these represent scientifically valid dissenting opinions (i.e. section 4.2.5 of the IPCC policy manual ). For that to be so it would have to be not just the IPCC ignoring them, but every national government on the planet, even those with seriously vested interests in keeping fossil fuel use high (i.e. OPEC nations).

    I find it likely that this apparent unanimity is evidence that the report's scientific integrity has been compromised for political reasons.

    However, it doesn't really matter how it was prepared. Ultimately, the report will stand or fall on its scientific merits.

    As a totally anecdotal, but I think intriguing story: A local climatologist who worked on the IPCC report, Dr. Andrew Weaver, was asked by the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. (CBC) to do a telivised debate on global climate change. He agreed, but only on the condition that the person representing the opposing side also have a climatology PhD. The CBC could find no one who fit the bill that did not agree with Dr. Weaver. While this is not damnning evidence by any means, it has caused me to keep an eye out for the "everybody's an expert" syndrome when talking about this stuff.

    Climatology is by no means the only scientific discipline involved in the study of the enhanced greenhouse effect. Why limit the debate to climatologists? Or to PhD's, for that matter? In your own words, "Just because somone has a PhD does not make them an expert on climate or climate change," and that works the other way around, too.

    [ Parent ]

    Dissenting opinions (1.66 / 3) (#224)
    by Matthew Guenther on Wed Mar 07, 2001 at 12:08:12 PM EST

    I don't consider this petition to be evidence one way or another. I mainly consider it useful for dispelling the notion that scientific opinion is unanimously in favour of the enhanced greenhouse effect.
    Obviously, I would not expect everyone to agree on anything, but simply because it is not a unanimous tenet of science does not eliminate it's validity. As well here we must be careful as there is a difference between scientific opinion as the opinion of a scientist as a person, and scientific opinion as a scientific argument supported by evidence and published in a journal.
    I find it likely that this apparent unanimity is evidence that the report's scientific integrity has been compromised for political reasons.
    Perhaps we simply see the world through different colour glasses, however I would expect that if this group of countries who can't agree on anything (ex. Pakistan & India), can agree on this, that there must be some fairly strong scientific arguments in place. Further, while there has been some dissent, if it was such a gross compromise of scientific integrity I would expect to see a veritable wave of public denounciations (especially given the media's love of scandal).
    However, it doesn't really matter how it was prepared. Ultimately, the report will stand or fall on its scientific merits.
    As always, history will be the final arbiter of truth. The problem being that if human-induced global climate change is indeed a reality, but we wait for overwhelming evidence before accepting it as fact, there may be nothing at that point to be done to alleviate it.
    Climatology is by no means the only scientific discipline involved in the study of the enhanced greenhouse effect. Why limit the debate to climatologists? Or to PhD's, for that matter? In your own words, "Just because somone has a PhD does not make them an expert on climate or climate change," and that works the other way around, too.
    I'm not sure exactly what you're getting at here, but if I understand you correctly I would point out that who other than a climatologist would be better qualified to talk about climate change? If they cannot find a single dissenting opinion in that group it begs the question why not?

    MBG

    [ Parent ]
    Politics and Authority (4.00 / 1) (#256)
    by sec on Fri Mar 09, 2001 at 03:04:55 PM EST

    Obviously, I would not expect everyone to agree on anything, but simply because it is not a unanimous tenet of science does not eliminate it's validity.

    Which is basically what I said.

    Perhaps we simply see the world through different colour glasses, however I would expect that if this group of countries who can't agree on anything (ex. Pakistan & India), can agree on this, that there must be some fairly strong scientific arguments in place.

    You seem rather naive about politics. Once a critical mass of the participants decides that a certain course of action is in their best interests, they will usually be able to sweet-talk, strong-arm, or bribe the rest into falling in line.

    As for India and Pakistan, both are relatively poor countries which stand to have funds transferred to them by the Kyoto Protocol. Why would they choose to disagree, and risk those funds, just because they happen to be having a boundary dispute?

    Further, while there has been some dissent , if it was such a gross compromise of scientific integrity I would expect to see a veritable wave of public denounciations (especially given the media's love of scandal).

    The media also loves scares.

    As always, history will be the final arbiter of truth. The problem being that if human-induced global climate change is indeed a reality, but we wait for overwhelming evidence before accepting it as fact, there may be nothing at that point to be done to alleviate it.

    As others have mentioned, this course of action only makes sense if the actions that are proposed to deal with the problem are relatively inexpensive and risk-free. The Kyoto Protocol-mandated actions would have been quite fantastically costly, and have risks of their own associated with them.

    If they cannot find a single dissenting opinion in that group it begs the question why not?

    Perhaps it simply means that due to budget cuts, the CBC didn't have the resources to do a proper search?

    In any case, your arguments seem irrelevant to me. What makes you think that trying to determine the truth of the matter is best done by examining the behaviour of the people involved? It seems so much easier, and more accurate, to just look at the facts instead.



    [ Parent ]

    Conspiracy :) (3.00 / 1) (#226)
    by broody on Wed Mar 07, 2001 at 12:15:24 PM EST

    There are plenty of scientists who fail to find the evidence of enhanced global warming convincing.

    I never denied that there were skeptics, nor that they are getting louder as time passes. Yet the IPCC remains the authorative source to many, particularly policy makers. While not as much so as in the past, the skeptics do seem to be a "vocal minority".

    OTT, please spare me the "no scientific consensus" links and I will spare you the "consensus on warming" links, deal?

    Why NOAA ignored the evidence from their own satellites can only be speculated.

    My understanding is that the results you linked to were measurements of trends in the lower troposphere and not represenative of tempurature readings closer to the surface, hence my choice of links. BTW, the link above references a report dedicated to this very topic we are discussing, if you are interested. I think there are references to sat data in the report that do support warming in other areas of the atmosphere but I don't have it available to refresh my memory.

    How about sticking to what _is_ happening, rather than what _might_ happen?

    I have not made the claim that the seas are significantly rising, though they seem to be to a minor degree. From the literature that I have read, rising sea levels are a "likely" occurance rather then a "might". To put it another way, just because there is not a hurricane _right now_ doesn't mean that I won't prepare my house when told of a coming storm.


    ~~ Whatever it takes
    [ Parent ]
    Amusing reference. (3.00 / 1) (#257)
    by sec on Fri Mar 09, 2001 at 03:19:36 PM EST

    I never denied that there were skeptics, nor that they are getting louder as time passes. Yet the IPCC remains the authorative source to many, particularly policy makers. While not as much so as in the past, the skeptics do seem to be a "vocal minority".

    Yes, and this is one of the reasons for my skepticism. My understanding is that the results you linked to were measurements of trends in the lower troposphere and not represenative of tempurature readings closer to the surface , hence my choice of links. BTW, the link above references a report dedicated to this very topic we are discussing, if you are interested. I think there are references to sat data in the report that do support warming in other areas of the atmosphere but I don't have it available to refresh my memory.

    This article is really quite amusing -- it boils down to, "Yes, humans are definitely causing global warming, and we have the data to prove it, but we really need some better data, and could the weather services of the world please help us gather it?"

    There is also the implicit assumption that the discrepancy is a real phenomenon, and not simply an artifact of the flawed surface data. (The reference that you quoted previously did nothing to convince me otherwise.)

    I have not made the claim that the seas are significantly rising, though they seem to be to a minor degree. From the literature that I have read, rising sea levels are a "likely" occurance rather then a "might". To put it another way, just because there is not a hurricane _right now_ doesn't mean that I won't prepare my house when told of a coming storm.

    You can do what you want, but this makes that reference rather useless as proof that global warming is in fact occurring.



    [ Parent ]

    Sea Level is... up at high tide. (3.00 / 1) (#237)
    by SEWilco on Wed Mar 07, 2001 at 04:58:52 PM EST

    The above Concerned Scientists are concerned about tide gauge measurements. There are many problems with tide gauges (and this does not include that the Indonesian continental plate is sinking -- see the March 2001 Scientific American cover story; oddly, the latest "Global Warming" prediction is that the Indonesian sea level will rise less than elsewhere, even through those islands are sinking).

    [ Parent ]
    SUVs (3.50 / 2) (#250)
    by Brandybuck on Thu Mar 08, 2001 at 06:22:02 PM EST

    I can't hop into my SUV. You see, I live in the California Bay Area, and all the green liberals bought them all. The number of green bumper stickers on SUVs in Berkeley would amaze you! Don't get me wrong, mind you. A lot of environmentalists here drive small cars. Like my friend who doesn't bother to get his oil changed or his engine tuned on his ancient unsmogged datsun, then bitches during his two hour daily commute that the central valley farmers are destroying the earth with their diesel tractors.

    [ Parent ]
    If you recycled.... (2.00 / 5) (#200)
    by ogfomk on Tue Mar 06, 2001 at 01:42:05 AM EST

    If you recycled, you would have a nicer job.
    This is my opinion. I am not liable for any disclosed information.
    Vulcanism (4.00 / 4) (#206)
    by andrew mcguinness on Tue Mar 06, 2001 at 11:49:32 AM EST

    Point one: human activity cannot possibly be destabilising the climate, because the climate wasn't stable to start with. Beyond the small variability for the last hundred years, which has been discussed above, global temparatures were much lower than current in the seventeenth century, and were much higher than current in the elevent century - so, global warming is not massively improbable, whether we can identify the causes or not, and similarly an ice age is equally a possibility.

    Point two: It's odd that no-one has mentioned the number one cause of climate change - volcanoes. The amount of CO2 and general other stuff injected straight into the atmosphere by a large eruption utterly dwarfs all human activity. Most scientific studies I have come across looking at past climate changes centre on volcanoes as the major cause.

    Point three: Anecdotally, most scientifically-literate people I talk to are sceptical about global warming, but just grumble about it. True or false, it is not surprising that the only people actually bothering to organise opposition to the bandwagon are the big companies with the biggest stake in debunking it. That doesn't mean they're suddenly trustworthy, but it doesn't discredit the science either. As has been adequately pointed out, many of those in the Global Warming movement openly have other agendas. (note that I am not making a claim that "most people" or "most intelligent people" agree with me - the circles I move in are probably not representative! My point is that the sceptics that exist tend to be quiet, which produces a false impression that "the debate is over".)

    Point four: Regarding the 0.4% of greenhouse effect which is caused by CO2 - another point is that the CO2 in the atmosphere absorbs almost all the infra-red that is in the wavelength band that CO2 can absorb. The result of this is that quite large increases in CO2 level have relatively small influence on the greenhouse effect.

    Point five: the "Better safe than sorry" argument really doesn't cut it. I'm not saying that we should insist on 100% proof before acting, but what the original poster and I are arguing is that the evidence for human-produced global warming is very weak. If that is true, then the costs of pretending it isn't are far too high. Firstly, it moves attention from the real environmental problems, which are mainly local in effect. City smogs, river pollution, overfishing, acid rain... there is quite a list of things that in my view require much more attention than they're getting. Secondly, as the original poster pointed out, the biggest killer in the world is poverty. Whatever one's opinion on the way resources are distributed in the world, it is certainly the case that if industry is more efficient, there are more resources to go round, and if it is less efficient, there are less resources, and therefore there is more poverty. If you are well-off enough that you can support the idea that industrial inefficiencies which make you poorer are a good idea on the off-chance that they reduce global warming, you need to consider what the effect would be of giving up the same amount to directly offset poverty.

    Bravo! (4.33 / 3) (#211)
    by sec on Tue Mar 06, 2001 at 05:51:05 PM EST

    Excellent post. Just a few points to add:

    Depending on whose figures you believe, only 1-10% of the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere is produced by human activity. So, no matter which figure you believe, the overwhelming majority of the CO2 released into the atmosphere is of natural origin.

    Firstly, it moves attention from the real environmental problems, which are mainly local in effect. City smogs, river pollution, overfishing, acid rain... there is quite a list of things that in my view require much more attention than they're getting.

    Exactly my thinking. Also, I fear what might happen when the truth about the matter becomes known -- and it will, sooner or later.

    What if, sometime in the future, a _real_ environmental threat becomes evident? What if, this time, the scientists have overwhelming evidence that this is a real problem? What if nobody believes them because they remember the whole Global Warming thing, and how it turned out to be a non-issue?

    I believe there's a children's story written about a similar situation. It's called "The Boy who Cried Wolf".



    [ Parent ]

    How the heck did you get this posted? (2.66 / 3) (#216)
    by Sheepdot on Wed Mar 07, 2001 at 01:40:49 AM EST

    Just out of curiousity, I've never seen anything so blatantly anti-green party get front page on k5. Almost makes me want to come back again as if the tides are switching to favor libertarians.

    Aw, who am I kidding, I won't even come back to see who replies to this message. The socialistic bull that keeps getting posted is enough to keep me away for quite some time yet.

    And yeah, I suppose this could be considered a troll, but I just wanted to point out that I'm suprised something that questioned global warming made it this far.

    www.junkscience.com - If you want to see more interesting stuff.


    junkscience.com. mmmmmmm. (4.00 / 1) (#221)
    by hemul on Wed Mar 07, 2001 at 07:08:46 AM EST

    www.junkscience.com - If you want to see more interesting stuff.

    junkscience.com is probably now what you think it is. See here

    sheepdot. what an appropriate nick!

    moi.

    [ Parent ]

    Perhaps (1.00 / 1) (#249)
    by Brandybuck on Thu Mar 08, 2001 at 06:15:09 PM EST

    Perhaps all the socialists modded this story up so they could rant and rave a bit more about how other people are destroying the earth.

    [ Parent ]
    Hmmm. (2.50 / 2) (#218)
    by gromm on Wed Mar 07, 2001 at 02:28:10 AM EST

    This article does bring up some important questions. I used to believe this very thing, but lately I've been turning a slightly pale shade of green, so you'll have to excuse me. :)

    The supposed science of global warming is an interesting take on people with global weather simultations and "I can predict the future of the stock market with this here graph", when in reality we can't reliably predict what the weather in New York will be like a week ahead of time, and any stock analyst will laugh long and hard at your predictions that are based almost solely on last year's graph. See also the clipping from the textbook the article writer quoted.

    At the same time, smog is bad. It is comprised in large part of Ozone, which is poisonous, not only to people but to plants as well. We can reduce the amount of ozone in the air by making fossil-fuel burning vehicles and industries more efficient. Efficiency is good for everyone because after all, fuel costs money, and even the most evil industrialist wants to save money wherever he can. However, smog is mostly a localized event, and there are plenty of places in the world with hardly any of it at all. If there were suddenly a magic bullet that made fossil fuels unnecessary, then I'm sure we'd all embrace it with open arms, but in the here and now, it's the best form of storable energy we've got so we'll have to make do.

    So, while the author is probably right, and the greenies are probably wrong in this particular case, it's not to say that a lack of a greenhouse effect is a green light to abandon plans for making the air cleaner. We should instead be worrying about more important things though, like doing our best to make sure Love Canal doesn't happen again, or "where the hell are we going to put all this garbage."

    BTW, I'm still buying a Honda Insight. They're nifty little buggers. :)
    Deus ex frigerifero
    Real Life, Quality of Life, Natural Life (3.00 / 1) (#236)
    by SEWilco on Wed Mar 07, 2001 at 04:25:45 PM EST

    Many things have to be balanced in real life. Smog is a local event, so if you don't like it then you have to decide whether to prevent it (make your car and business operate more cleanly), avoid it (don't move to Los Angeles), or cure it (carve out ventilation valleys for the L.A. basin or replace all the hardwood trees in the Smoky Mountains). Yes, many trees emit carbon vapors -- that's what causes the haze in the Smoky Mountains. (Houston Trees, or search for Biogenic or BVOC)

    [ Parent ]
    3rd Party Conspiracy (3.00 / 1) (#222)
    by KhalDrogo on Wed Mar 07, 2001 at 10:50:07 AM EST

    Below is a quote from this web page:

    "Through the PR firm of Burson-Marsteller, Philip Morris also created the "National Smoker's Alliance," a supposedly independent organization of individual smokers which claimed that bans on smoking in public places infringed on basic American freedoms. The NSA was a "grassroots" version of the third party technique, designed to create the impression of a citizen groundswell against smoking restrictions."

    I fear that my beloved kuro5hin has fallen pray to the same tactic. Some of you may remember that in an effort to reduce the outcry, after anti-trust proceedings were first brought, Microsoft hired a PR firm to artificially produce a nationwide groundswell of support for them and against the government. Who is "madgeo" and why should I trust him/her?
    • He/She has posted no other articles.
    • He/She has no diary entries.
    • He/She has posted comments only associated with this article.
    I trust the independent scientists who warn against global warming because they don't make billions per year from their industry. I don't trust people arguing on behalf of large corporations who don't give me their personal backgrounds. So, madgeo, who's agenda are you on? If you're for real madgeo, give us some more background, some personal history. If you really care about this issue you'll sacrifice some of your personal privacy for some credibility.

    What personal history would you like? (4.66 / 3) (#223)
    by madgeo on Wed Mar 07, 2001 at 11:06:37 AM EST

    I beleive in my postings you will find numerous references to what I do for a living. I do not work for a large corporation, but rather a rather small consulting firm. I have no affiliation with any environmental entity other than my employer, pro or con. It is however, the case that this is my first posting to kuro5hin.org, and I am working on the next posting which has absolutely nothing to do with environmental issues. I have been writing all my working life, which is why my article appears (presumably) to have fallen from the sky. I just never had a venue for my personal writings, and I now find this writing thing rather addicting and kuro5hin a great venue for same.

    What I want to know is, why are you trying to minimize my writings by attacking me personally instead of addressing the issues? Are you afraid that your own arguments are not meritorious?



    [ Parent ]
    Personal Attack Unintended (4.00 / 1) (#235)
    by KhalDrogo on Wed Mar 07, 2001 at 01:55:42 PM EST

    My posting in response to your article was not intended as a personal attack, though I admit it may have come off as such, but rather as a stimulus to the community as a whole to question the source of any information. IMHO, if an individual presumes to present an argument based on facts they must be prepared to defend their motives and affiliations. Reporters and the like are supposedly held to some sort of journalistic code of ethics. In reality I believe they live more in fear of embarassment to their parent corporations than to some strong ethical values. However, as an individual, you must be prepared to defend your own ethics. I realize that Kuro5hin exists to present a forum for the everyday joe, but if you want to convince me you can't simply pass off facts without telling me where you're coming from. I did not read every comment and every response you wrote so I may have missed your answer to the questions I want answered. IMHO, a disclaimer at the beginning of your article would have provided some reassurance.

    I appreciate your response and attention to my questions. Frankly, disclaimer or not I still wouldn't believe you, not in the anonymous confines of cyberspace. Trust is not something gained after a few discussions. It is also certainly not something gained simply by possessing the title of scientist. In light of that the only factors I see for examining the presentation of disagreeing facts are motives.

    • What are the motives of the scientists and environmentalists that present Global Warming as a problem?
    • What are the motives of the fossil fuel producing companies who claim it is not an issue?
    For me the answer is clear. My trust lies in my own beliefs concerning basic human nature. I don't see a reason that many intelligent people would present Global Warming as a problem if they didn't believe it was. There are plenty of other things they could receive research money for.
    • Who do you trust?
    • Textbooks?
    • Heartland.org?
    • Why do you trust them?
    In the end, because of the stance you have taken and the easily seen motives for such a stance, I feel you have to convince me of why I should trust you're 'facts' and argument.

    [ Parent ]
    Trust... (4.50 / 2) (#239)
    by madgeo on Wed Mar 07, 2001 at 07:07:08 PM EST

    Who do I trust with this topic? Good question. I will say this, based on the latest media articles on errata in school textbooks, I certainly wouldn't start there. Heartland.org is a good place to start to find the articles necessary to research the issue(s) as well as any articles IMHO from Julian Simon (as attached in the article). In addition, one should read as many scientific articles, journals, and papers as possible to become literate on the topic. Lastly, one should read pop-sci magazines and news articles to keep up to date as possible. News being the least "scientific" of all sources. This is what I did/do BTW, for what it is worth.

    After completion of the study I will say this, there are well meaning and good scientists on both sides of the issue. And if you read both sides of their work I think you might arrive at some, if not all, of the conclusions my article presents. And that is another way trust is formed. By well demonstrated arguments. Certainly not by beleiving media hype (not to imply necessarily that you are).

    One of the things I have stated in numerous comments to various entities, is that I chose the Op-Ed section for a reason. It is Opinion. I did my best to present a well stated, realtively scientifically based, and reasoned one, but still an opinion. I am not prepared to go out and measure the benthic water temperature of the Pacific Ocean to make scientific comparisons (grin).

    As for the motives of the scientists and the oil companies, scientists will espouse a general theory in order to gain funding and will use a general theory such as Global Warming toward that end until enough people start to say its a dead end. And then it will fade away into the next funded program (or not). I do not necessarily agree that there are "plenty of other things they could receive research money for." The scientists I know fight for almost every dime (and one I know does global warming research).

    The Oil Companies are what they are, they are in it for the bucks, period.

    Lastly, I was not trying to pass off facts without telling you (the reader) where I was coming from. I felt the article would convey that, but maybe not. One of the things that makes me nervous about the internet (and even magazine publication) is that there are people (i.e. hackers and environmentalists) that if they don't like what you have to say regardless of its merits, will attack you. So some of my security needs may have come through in the article. I'm sure many of my comments would assist you in my mindset. If it helps, I'm libertarian and thats one of my "biases".



    [ Parent ]
    Fallacies. (5.00 / 2) (#242)
    by Loyal Opposition on Thu Mar 08, 2001 at 08:51:31 AM EST

    Trust is not an issue in argumentation. The issues are whether the premises are reasonable, and whether they support the conclusion to the stated degree. I believe there to be exactly two exceptions to this prescription, neither of which apply here.

    To argue otherwise is to commit the fallacy of argumentum ad hominem. I believe Mr. KhalDrogo has indulged in the circumstantial form of the fallacy (So, madgeo, who's agenda are you on?) and Mr. madgeo has indulged in the abusive form (Are you afraid that your own arguments are not meritorious?)

    -Loyal

    [ Parent ]

    Nice analysis (2.00 / 2) (#245)
    by madgeo on Thu Mar 08, 2001 at 11:00:52 AM EST

    Must be a lawyer (no abuse intended)<g>.

    [ Parent ]
    Billionaire scientists (3.00 / 1) (#248)
    by Brandybuck on Thu Mar 08, 2001 at 06:12:20 PM EST

    I trust the independent scientists who warn against global warming because they don't make billions per year from their industry. I am aware of no scientist making a billions dollars on either side of the controversy. I am aware of many scientists making instead millions on the side of global warming. After all, scaring the public sells lots of books and scaring congress gets lots of grants.

    [ Parent ]
    What does he care... (2.00 / 2) (#240)
    by BiOFH on Thu Mar 08, 2001 at 02:28:52 AM EST

    ...it won't be him (but maybe his children's children) who are inadequately fed and constantly dehydrated... who are prone to heretofore thought of as 'medieval' ilnesses... and who would have a hard time posting a reply to great-grandpa's K5 letter on some future archive because ... well, they really have alot of trouble concentrating ...

    And I submit this argument... what's so wrong with trying to do something while there's time instead of lamenting later how "if we'd only listened". Even if the purveyors of global warming warnings are wrong, at least you cared enough about your civilization to do the right thing... try to proactively save their lives.

    No one can 'prove' global warming is real at the moment... but is it worth the risk considering the empirical (and statistical) evidence that's coming from a lot of people who know far more about this sort of thing than you or I?

    "No one can prove global warming is real" (3.50 / 2) (#244)
    by madgeo on Thu Mar 08, 2001 at 10:57:19 AM EST

    That is my (main) point. To answer your question, "what is so wrong with trying to do something?" The answer is that radical or even not-so-radical solutions have effects that no one can forecast. Effects on people that don't live in a industrialized high-tech country such as yourself (presumably, since your communicating via computer).

    I will take your hypothetical scenario of my children starving and raise you a different one:

    What if 10 years from now we find out that global warming was wrong (not a stretch at this point) but due to the policies and treaties that resulted from it, 100,000 people died in Africa due to increased fuel costs from global warming policies. How do you know that won't happen? What if it does? What about their children's children?

    Oh, and incidentally, I am not having children, so you might say I'm doing my part for reducing the global population, are you?



    [ Parent ]
    Your answer to your question. (4.00 / 1) (#246)
    by BiOFH on Thu Mar 08, 2001 at 11:14:37 AM EST

    The 100,000 people don't have to die if we follow the basic argument you endorsed with the CO2 phytoplankton farming gambit -- the assertion that new technologies can fix old tech problems. The difference being, we have the technology 'now' to address the fuel issue. Your assumption is based on "fossil fuel forever".

    And, no, I'm not contributing to the population explosion. But, I do have a great degree of sympathy for those living on Earth now 'and' in the future.

    [ Parent ]
    Now you are making my point. (3.00 / 2) (#251)
    by madgeo on Thu Mar 08, 2001 at 11:34:33 PM EST

    Thats right, the "CO2 phytoplankton farming gambit" could provide a near (in atmospheric terms) immediate response to global warming if you read the Wired article I linked.

    What I am hearing from you is emotion (fear) based not logic based. First, my children's children are going to starve, then you try to use my own point (erroneously) to say we can solve my illustration! Duh, thats (one of) my point(s)!

    Let me give you some historical perspective on "fossil fuel forever". In the past humans have "run out" of energy, wood; replaced coal; run out of whale oil; and currently settled on hydrocarbon oils, and this too will pass. And this too will be no big deal when it does!

    Technology will ultimately solve virtually all of the environmental crisis issues I have heard to date, although I am willing to submit there may be something somewhere that are (currently) intractable. I have mentioned a number of solutions in my other comments, but I will give you some examples.

    We routinely clean up gasoline from groundwater with bacteria, air extraction, and even light! 20 years ago we couldn't do that.

    Car manufacturers are creating hybrid cars with awesome fuel economy, and they don't even have to!

    I could go on and on, but suffice it to say, you should relax and not listen so much to the media hype! Yes, there may be a global warming issue, and yes we will know soon enough. But for now the sky is not falling and the world will go on, and until we know for sure we should in essence be VERY careful with radical solutions we implement, because people could get hurt!



    [ Parent ]
    No, I'm not. (3.00 / 2) (#259)
    by BiOFH on Sat Mar 10, 2001 at 03:23:22 AM EST

    One of us is either reading something wrong, writing something wrong or not assessing honestly.
    If you are hearing emotion, it's because there is a passion in what I say, not irrationality. I am not listening to the tripe and hype spouted on what passes for news these days, I'm listening to my brain. I believe global warming is happening. I believe this based on my collation of the material I've processed, not some talking head on TV.
    Also, I think my point still stands -- expending energy to find a solution now makes more sense than risking having to start a mad scramble for a solution later (and most probably expending even more energy then than now). Obviously we will never agree on this.

    I work in the technology sector so I am also a firm believer that it can change the world in sometimes unbelievable ways. However, technology is limited by the current state of the art. If the "something somewhere that" is "(currently) intractable" turns out to be our blatant disregard for this huge terrarium we live in manifested in global warming, then we are well and truly screwed. One more thing we don't know and can't prove is 'can we fix it once it has taken hold' (If you could proof this today, you could proof the question of global warming as well). That's a risk of a magnitude never taken by mankind. Ever. If we lose, we lose it all. No second chances. Sure, we might take to the stars and thrive somewhere else, but all that says is that we're self-destructive and immature.

    One thing we might find more common ground on is that I am not a proponent of extremely radical solutions. I firmly believe there are hundreds of small steps we could take to move us in the right direction. I just do not believe that there is a big window of opportunity to intiate this.

    As for the fossil fuels comments... your historical perspective is, forgive me but, extremely vague and erroneous in some respects. Many of our fossil fuel shifts had nothing, in some cases, and very little, in other cases, to do with expending a previous source to its limits. They've been greatly influenced, in most cases, by social and political influences as well as economic re-alignments. For instance, the proliferation and widespread adoption of automobiles came not through a natural or forced move to the next energy source It came about because, after the tapping of one of the largest oil veins ever found, there was suddenly a very cheap and extremely large supply of this stuff called gasoline which, up until then, was seen by crude producers as an annoying by-product. And there happened to be these new machines which ran very well on the stuff.

    PS - I'm not willing to relax. I believe that is counter-productive and, IMO, selfish. But, I do know I need to let go of this duscussion before I end up spending my vacation on it. :) Although... I am itching to take up the whole volcanic emissions discourse. ;)

    [ Parent ]
    Vacation? This is REALLY important :)...... (4.00 / 1) (#261)
    by madgeo on Sun Mar 11, 2001 at 12:50:37 PM EST

    Sorry to impede on your vacation :). I am going to take a few minutes from my Sunday to reply to a couple of things: Your quote "One more thing we don't know and can't prove is 'can we fix it once it has taken hold", is interesting in that the guys that did the research on iron enhancement of the ocean were joking "give me a tanker full of iron and I'll give you the next ice age".

    This indicates to me (if true) that the tech solution already has been found, although the environmentalists are horrifed at the prospect of man attacking the ocean to solve the global warming problem. The irony kills me.

    Actually I am in favor of expending some "energy" now to explore the possibility. I am just not in favor of any radical action, particularly treaties until the verdict is in....and I submit the verdict is not even close to in at this juncture.

    As for my fossil fuel arguments, I will accept vague, but not particularly erroneous. I was generalizing, but correct me if I'm wrong in that we darn near extinctioned our way out of whale oil and hydrocarbons came in at just about the perfect time relative to that.

    The point I was trying to make is this. The energy crisis IMHO is yet another example of environmentalist/media tripe. I could find a whole plethora of articles for the last 30ish years predicting that "We're going to run out of oil in (5,10,15,XX) years!" And most of those prognosticators are now horribly embarrassed (or should be if they were intellectually honest). I have read (one) of their apologies to date. And no, I do not live with my head in the sand, we WILL run out of hydrocarbon fuel someday like we almost ran out of whale oil before. But that is not likely in the very near future.

    I am fairly confident we will 1) find new untapped super-deep reserves 2) find new ways to squeeze incredible results from the reserves we find (we already do! i.e. hybrid engines, maybe even this much-hyped IT by Dean Kamen <g>) and 3) find new and unusual power sources including solar, etc.

    Enjoy your vacation!



    [ Parent ]
    Fallacious (3.50 / 2) (#247)
    by Brandybuck on Thu Mar 08, 2001 at 06:08:47 PM EST

    No one can 'prove' global warming is real at the moment...

    ...so why are you willing to bet our future on your vague premonitions? Many of the "solutions" proposed by the environmentalists will cause real and concrete harm to our lives, liberties and properties. Why are you balancing this real and genuine harm against an unprovable possibility of a greater future harm?

    As a responsible person, it is up to you to prove that the danger is real.

    Let's take your logic to the extreme to see how well it holds up: some sociologists have proposed that many criminals had bad childhoods. Little Johnny has a bad childhood. Isn't it worthwhile to imprison him now rather than lamenting later after he's gone on a possible ten state killing spree?

    [ Parent ]

    Shifting gears (3.00 / 1) (#258)
    by BiOFH on Sat Mar 10, 2001 at 02:36:00 AM EST

    OK, let's remove the niceties. I believe global warming is real. I am educated, well-traveled and perceive that I am an intelligent person based on feedback I receive from my peers, career and endeavors. So let's remove this idea that I'm buying into anyone's fear tactics (media or otherwise). I'm buying into what my brain has processed as a highly probable real and tangible threat.
    As a responsible person I would love to 'prove' global warming exists in an irrefutable manner. Unfortunately I cannot. At this point in our technological evolution, neither can anyone else. An absolute proof is simply too complex at the moment. The inverse being that no one can prove, at this moment, that it does not exist.
    Why am I willing to bet the future on my belief? Because I'm honest enough to admit that, if (when) it comes to pass and becomes a real and undeniable problem, we'll have wasted precious time and have to start scrambling for solutions (which may or may not work, and may or may not happen in time to make a difference). Game over.

    And let's get off this 'environmentalist' slant. It's a crutch. I'm not an 'environmentalist' in the way the word is being slung around. I'm a human who cares about the fate of her planet and species.
    Pining about how this will hurt our pocketbook or impede our ability to just continue to do what we want with respect to our ecosystem is just plain selfish. IMO it's also grossly irresponsible and 'asking for it'.

    PS - Your 'extreme' version of my logic is pedantic and completely irrelevant. We're not talking about social criminology. It illustrates nothing. I stand by my assertion that doing something about global warming proactively can only bring about change for the better.

    [ Parent ]
    New science information on global warming. (4.00 / 1) (#243)
    by madgeo on Thu Mar 08, 2001 at 10:41:45 AM EST

    There is new information on a newly discovered effect that may have an effect on the climate models used to determine if global warming is happening. The search for truth goes on!

    I just hope we don't make rash treaties/decisions before the truth is found.



    Unbelievable anti-environment propaganda (3.00 / 2) (#253)
    by Ulf Pettersson on Fri Mar 09, 2001 at 11:36:42 AM EST

    I simply can not believe how educated people can actually buy this anti-environment propaganda. Global warming is in no way a myth, and there really isn't much controversy over whether we are seeing the results of it in nature today or not.

    Media writing stupid things or making unfounded conclusions (like rises of sea level on the wrong basis) is one thing. The observable fact that global temperature is rising is another. The most common popular misconception is that sea-levels will rise because of melted polar-ice caps. They wont (probably not much anyway) - the icecaps are too small. This is something ignorant critics cite as proof that warming effects are bogus. But the sea-levels _are_ most likely going to rise. Not because of ice but because water expands when the earths temperature rises.

    Like so many other stupid, unecessary debates - like the one on evolution - this is a debate that is going on only in the US. The rest of the educated world has since long settled both of these issues. But I guess that makes sense considering that the US is not only the by far worst offender when it comes to global warming but also one of the most obvious corporate run states as well as the center of much of the worlds auto and oil-industries.

    That most climatologists do not agree on this is simply a lie, it doesn't matter that it seems to be repeated often in the US - try to discover who is saying what and why.

    This is the one single greatest threat to humanity that we know of - hiding from it isn't going to help. The dangerous part of is not the higher temperature as such, but the (for climatic changes/ecosystems/humanity) extreme speed of change. If it was a slow transformation, people could move and ecosystems adapt, but at this rate that isn't possible.

    So what if volcanoes erupt every now and then. They always have been and the CO2 levels have not changed due to volcanoes for many many hundreds of years. Obviously volcanoes have been nothing compared to 250-years of massive industrialization - it is during the period since the ind revolution that CO2-levels have begun to climb. Again - it is the speed of change that matters with ecosystems, not the levels.

    The sources you quote are all extreme and i saw nothing there on 'good environmental policy.' You have become the victim of propaganda. World carbon emissions have risen from 1700 million tons/year 1950 to 6400 million tons/year 1994 (Brown 1996).

    In 1991 the OECD contributed 36% of world greenhouse-gas emissions. The US alone contributed 18%.(OECD 1991) OECD countries are 15% of world population, the US 4%. The OECD consumed 51% of the worlds energy in 1998. Reading this you have to understand that it is only the emissions of carbon that have not been recently transformed by ecosystems that cause global warming - such as burning of fossil fuels. In almost all developing nations most of the emissions comes from burning renewables such as dung or wood.

    The US per capita emissions of greenhouse-gases are 4 times the global average - Japan or Swedens are only 50% higher. It clearly is possible having both a close to 30000$ GNP/capita and lower emission levels. These are a sacrifices europeans have already made with harsh (compared to the US non-existant) environmental laws (every single county in many countries in the EU has to apply the Rio-treaty for instance, many countries have very high taxes on CO2-emissions/petrol). Clearly some are more willing to take responsibility for the world than others. Not only are the conditions of the Kyoto treaty _extremely_ favourable to the US and Japan to begin with, but they also refuse ratifying it after agreeing upon it. They make a deal and then they come back a few years later saying they won't keep it. A deal concering the single greatest human predicament.Unbelievable.

    But even the EU, that have ratified the Kyoto-agreement, hasn't yet followed it in practice. And still the Kyoto-protocol is very toned-down and nowhere near enough what is needed to stop greenhouse-effect emissions. European nations aren't nowhere _near_ any type of good guys, but at least they can admit there is a problem.

    Further numbers:
    Greenhouse-gas emissions: USSR 12% (have since declined sharply), Brazil 10%, China 7%, India 4%. (OECD 1991) These countries constitute 3,7 billion people - 62% of world population.

    The US to India/capita ratio of coal-consumption: 12:1, petrol 43:1, natural gas 184:1 (World Resource Institute 1995).

    Industrialized countries relative consumption-levels, 1986-1990: Fossil fuel - 160 times. Developing countries - 17 times (World Resource Institute 1995).

    The impacts of global warming, however, will not hit us in the OECD nearly as much as it will hit the third-world south. In general - the warmer the place, the greater the change. And these countries often have nothing to replace their already minimal crop-yields with.

    Lets end this with a quote from the recent study (one of several _hundred_ like it I might add) Global Temperature Patterns in Past Centuries: "not only is the global-scale warmth of the most recent decade observed to be quite unusual in the context of at least the past six centuries (and evidently, at least the past millennium), but 1998--the warmest year in the instrumental record--is seen to be truly exceptional in a long-term context."


    Ulf Pettersson

    Unbelievable ignorance. (4.00 / 2) (#255)
    by madgeo on Fri Mar 09, 2001 at 02:31:19 PM EST

    First off, I never even used the word myth in my article. In addition, if you read the article, I am (mainly) calling for responsible analysis of the issue!

    As for numbers, let me give you one from the eruption of Mount Pinatubo on June 15, 1991: "The minimum volatile emissions for the climactic eruption --from preeruption vapor phase and degassing of melt--were 17 Megatons of SO2, 42 Megatons of CO2, 3 Megatons Cl, and 491 Megatons H2O".

    Hmmm, your statement of "CO2 levels have not changed due to volcanoes for many many hundreds of years". Seems to be grossly in error! And all that Chlorine and Sulfer Dioxide can't help the global weather models.

    The rest of your response was riddled with discrepancies with regards to logic and facts as well. You stated 1998 was the warmest year on instrumental record, but overlooked December, 1997 was the coldest month on record in the Stratosphere. The same article discusses the notable increase in warming following Mount Pinatubo and El Chichon volcanic eruptions.

    I will not waste my time correcting all of your suppositions, but will suffice it to say I am not the one quoting "extreme sources" here.

    While you are at it, why don't you evaluate your US-bashing mentality. It makes your argument (such that it was) seem rather juvenile.



    [ Parent ]
    Cores and CO2 (4.00 / 1) (#264)
    by gregbillock on Mon Mar 12, 2001 at 05:16:06 PM EST

    By way of comparison, worldwide CO2 emission levels are currently about 6000 Megatons annually (over 100 volatile Pinatubo-scale events a year).

    One line of argument about recent temperature change that hasn't been mentioned, and that you might appreciate as a geologist, are borehole geothermics measurements taken by Chapman &co over the last few years around the western US. Basically, you drill a borehole and measure the temperature. The ground is a pretty good insulator, and so has a temperature record that can be read back centuries.

    Geothermics and climate change (parts 1/2), Harris RN, Chapman DS
    JOURNAL OF GEOPHYSICAL RESEARCH-SOLID EARTH 103: (B4) 7363-7383 APR 10 1998

    The result there is a 0.6 degree increase in the last hundred years. The authors think this method is an improvement on the highly variable surface air temperature measurements--their data gets smoothed by the thermal conductivity of the ground, which is exactly what you want for something like this. (They measure oscillations of less than 13mK, better than three orders of magnitude of improvement over surface air temperature readings.)

    It would be instructive to do this all over (it looks from the literature like there are only a few folks doing this), but in this paper:

    Climate reconstruction from subsurface temperatures Pollack HN, Huang SP
    ANNUAL REVIEW OF EARTH AND PLANETARY SCIENCES 28: 339-365 2000

    you get more of the story. The ground temperature seems to have been rising for several centuries. There has been a dramatic acceleration since the turn of the century, however, with half of the 1 degree C change in the last 500 years occuring this century.

    The question of climate change seems to me basically settled. Paleotemperature data and the ice ages, Milankovitch cycles, ice cores, etc. indicate without reservation that the planet goes through global temperature and climate shifts on the scale of centuries and millenia. The next question is, what is the global climate doing now? Data like the above (and lots more, the IPCC has metric tons of it in references to their reports) indicate that we're in an overall warming period. The next question is, what's causing the warming? Is it just more Milankovitch cycles of earth's orbital variations? Solar energy output variations? Some internal mantle circulatory variations driving ocean currents and CO2 solubility? Human effects? This seems to me a lot harder to resolve.


    [ Parent ]
    Clear one thing up... (3.00 / 1) (#260)
    by Remmis on Sat Mar 10, 2001 at 05:50:18 AM EST

    I would have to say that I partially agree with both sides on this. That is, it's probably a better idea to err on the side of caution, but at the same time it makes me sick how political the whole thing is. In general, I tend to not believe what politicians tell me, and immediately lean toward the opposite opinion or viewpoint. But in the case of human civilization, is it really worth it?

    Which brings me to my main point. I have seen a few comments here and there to this article talking about "saving the planet". I'd just like to point out that environmentalists are not trying to save the planet, they are trying to save humanity. It's a tiny problem with semantics, and those people were probably talking about saving humanity anyway, it just bothers me when I see people say "save the planet". If we all get incinerated because of the thinning ozone layer, we're gone, but the planet is still just fine.





    This is silly (4.00 / 3) (#262)
    by Alhazred on Sun Mar 11, 2001 at 07:23:47 PM EST

    This guy reminds me of the anti-evolution people who go on about how evolution can't possibly be true because we don't have a fossil of every intermediate form of life that every existed.

    Sometimes you don't have ALL the answers, but what our friend chooses to overlook is that almost univerally scientists recommend caution and some action on the problem. Business and industry drag their feet, but what if we ARE on the edge of a precipice?

    Just as a general principle its not a good idea to change the earth willy nilly. Anyone who believes otherwise is a great FOOL!!!!!!!!!!
    That is not dead which may eternal lie And with strange aeons death itself may die.
    Don' t let my facts stop you from spouting off.... (2.50 / 2) (#263)
    by madgeo on Sun Mar 11, 2001 at 11:41:42 PM EST

    What part of the evidence to the contrary did you miss? Not only do we not have enough answers, we don't even know if we're warming or entering the next ice age!!!! I repeat for about the third time here, What if were NOT "on the edge of a precipice" and we do something stupid and it kills people. Do you care? Or are we too busy reacting to anomolous or not-so anomolous temperature readings to think and evaluate our actions?

    [ Parent ]
    Don' t let MY facts either... (none / 0) (#267)
    by caracal on Fri Mar 16, 2001 at 02:06:13 AM EST

    Is this trustworthy enough for you?

    [ Parent ]
    Actually, no (none / 0) (#268)
    by madgeo on Sun Mar 18, 2001 at 01:40:55 PM EST

    Read the fine print in the article, which was conveniently overlooked by the author "There is no evidence in the report on whether or not the surface temperature of the Earth is actually rising. Harries said this is because the greenhouse effect could start a climate cycle that forms more clouds, keeping more of the Sun's rays from reaching Earth." So yet again, the media is generalizing without knowing! We do not have enough information!!! YET.

    [ Parent ]
    It's worse than that, he's fantasy, Jim! (3.00 / 1) (#266)
    by leonbrooks on Wed Mar 14, 2001 at 07:33:56 PM EST

    The retractions are getting stronger and stronger, any minute now, we'll have respect for observation. (-:
    This guy reminds me of the anti-evolution people who go on about how evolution can't possibly be true because we don't have a fossil of every intermediate form of life that every existed.
    Axe-surely, if I was to be bundled with ``the anti-evolution people'' it would be ``because we don't have a fossil of'' any ``intermediate form of life.'' There were precious few candidates in Darwin's time, and science has eliminated even those. And discovered new and interesting forms of life (like hallucenogenia) which defy classification.

    Mankind have now identified over 250,000 fossil species represented by tens of millions of fossils: surely if intermediates exist, there would be at least hundreds of clear examples in the fossil record?

    Lucy was neither ape nor human, nor anything in between. Many ``birdosaurs'' have come and gone, most of them (TIME magazine love doing this) arriving as front-cover headlines and departing as five-line retractions.

    It is refreshing to see National Geographic (October 2000, from page 128, apparently not on their website) publish a five-page discussion of ``birdosaur'' fraud and exaggeration in place of the usual five-line disclaimer. If there was a bit more journalistic honesty like this around (-: dead-tree kuro5hin? :-), perhaps we would knee-jerk-react less often to claims with which we happen to disagree.
    -- If at first you don't succeed, try a shorter bungee
    [ Parent ]

    Pretending to innocence (1.00 / 1) (#265)
    by wytcld on Mon Mar 12, 2001 at 05:46:10 PM EST

    Everything we know about ecological systems shows that they respond to massive human incursions. The atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide and a host of other chemicals have been dramatically changed through human intervention. The difficult scientific argument would be that this is a rare circumstance where a large scale alteration of major factors in an ecology will not cause dramatic shifts.

    The question of whether the disruption in the case of our large-scale atmospheric alterations will be toward hot or cold are secondary to the general case that the larger the disruption, the larger - quite predictably in the general case - the effects. And since much of what we are engaged in benefits from a continuation of relative ecological stability, even critically depends on it, the only attitude which can justify our not taking our atmospheric alterations seriously - and working strongly to minimize them - is a religious one claiming that on this scale some set of gods or goddesses maintains the balances, and that the systems our science comprehends have nothing to do with it.

    Because while science shows that sometimes small causes create large effects, it more often and generally shows that it is exceedingly rare for large causes to avoid creating large effects. And, relative to the Earth's atmosphere right now, we're a large cause, much larger than we've ever been before. We could claim we're just children, and don't know what we're doing in our inexperience, our innocence; but we'll be tried as adults, and sentenced to live in the mess we're sure to make if we don't act quickly to minimize our effects - even without being sure what they'll be. Because everything we know from science says that they'll be real, and they'll be a marked change from the previous balance. And everything we know from economics shows that changes on this scale to our background environment are exorbitantly costly - think flood, famine, plague, dust bowls, and massive wars over the remains.

    Global Warming? Please.... | 268 comments (257 topical, 11 editorial, 0 hidden)
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