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Need more money for global warming research

By Rasvar in Op-Ed
Wed Jun 27, 2001 at 10:40:18 AM EST
Tags: Science (all tags)

My attention was called to a very interesting Op-Ed piece in the Tallahassee Democrat from last Monday. A very well respected professor of meteorology at Florida State University, James J. O'Brien, gave his opinions on the global warming debate.

The opinions he expressed are ones that I have had about this debate for some time. Yes, global warming is there; but the data we are being given is either incomplete or flawed. Many folks here on K5 and elsewhere seem to see the Kyoto Protocol as a savior. I have to agree with Professor O'Brien comments on this.
"Nearly all of the physical climate scientists I know agree that minor limiting of carbon dioxide by the Kyoto Protocol will not stop the climate changes caused by the observed increase in the gas."

Professor O'Brien goes on to state that one of the biggest current problem is that the currently used climate modelers are using poor input numbers from the start. He also goes on to state that the US has not even financed a study for a climate model of its own. Among the models that do exist, there are widely varying results. None can be considered conclusive.

Professor O'Brien goes on to make a very compelling argument that $25M a year over for ten years would allow development of a much better climatic model than what is available now. I happen to agree with him. We need to have more accurate information in order to come up with a plan that will actually work and not be a feel good type of plan that lulls everyone into a false sense of security that the Kyoto Protocol will be able to do anything useful.

I urge you to take a look at Professors O'Briens Op-Ed. It is one of the most level headed and intellegent pieces on the problems with predicting global warming that I have seen in a number of years.


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Do we need more research on Global Warming
o Yes, the current data is not very good 17%
o Yes, but we need to consider doing something now 38%
o Yes, but we still have to agree to the Kyoto Protocol 23%
o No, Kyoto Protocol is enough to save us. 0%
o No, we will figure it out without spending a lot of extra money 0%
o No, there is no global warming 8%
o I have no idea 5%
o I don't care 4%

Votes: 67
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Op-Ed
o Also by Rasvar

Display: Sort:
Need more money for global warming research | 47 comments (41 topical, 6 editorial, 0 hidden)
Yeah, We All Need More Money for Something... (1.66 / 3) (#2)
by greyrat on Wed Jun 27, 2001 at 08:46:36 AM EST

~ ~ ~
Did I actually read the article? No. No I didn't.
"Watch out for me nobbystyles, Gromit!"

Out of shear curiousity (2.66 / 3) (#5)
by jayfoo2 on Wed Jun 27, 2001 at 09:21:22 AM EST

What would the size of his grant be?

Of course we need more research on global warming (and lot's of other things too). However saying we need more data before doing anything is like waiting to start chemotherapy until a better cure for cancer is discovered.

of course I realize (none / 0) (#7)
by jayfoo2 on Wed Jun 27, 2001 at 09:23:09 AM EST

it's sheer curiousity, not shear curiousity.

I need more spelling research.

[ Parent ]
actually, it's like (4.66 / 3) (#25)
by cory on Wed Jun 27, 2001 at 01:44:32 PM EST

waiting to start chemo until we know that would be an effective treatment. Your simile is especially accurate given the damage that chemotherapy does to healty tissue; any major change in so-called greenhouse gas emissions would cause great damage to the world economy. Why damage the patient if it isn't even clear the therapy would help?


[ Parent ]
Seti@Home type thing... (4.60 / 5) (#6)
by Paradocis on Wed Jun 27, 2001 at 09:22:32 AM EST

The subject line says it all...

Why not make climatological research a distributed computing project? Has anyone done this yet? Just a thought...

Already being done (4.40 / 5) (#8)
by jayfoo2 on Wed Jun 27, 2001 at 09:30:17 AM EST

Here is a project called climateprediction.com that is working on this.

[ Parent ]
hmmm (2.41 / 12) (#11)
by tarsand on Wed Jun 27, 2001 at 09:41:14 AM EST

Yes, more research is a good thing. Lack of action is another. There's no debate, increased carbon dioxide levels will increase the net energy retained by the atmosphere; the specifics are arguable. The Kyoto agreement might not be the best solution, but I don't see the USA proposing anything better itself. In fact, what I see the USA's gov't doing is basically saying: "the environment everyone lives in is not as important as the US economy."

Unfortunately, I cannot accept this, the US gov't has declared war on every human on the planet with their continued lack of action and their energy 'policy'. (and they call themselves world leaders; one has to laught at those who crown themselves emperor, ha!)

With my life being threatened by a society of overconsumers run by a gov't of idiots, what is left to do? Obviously they're oblivious to reason ... fun fun

"Oh, no, I agree with tarsand!" -- trhurler
I agree that the US needs to do more. (3.66 / 3) (#14)
by Rasvar on Wed Jun 27, 2001 at 09:53:17 AM EST

In a pure scientific aspect, I do not belive that Kyoto would accomplish any meaningful change. I actually see it as harmful from a political standpoint because once politicians and other world leaders sign off on something, it is almost impossible to get them to go back and look at it again. On Kyoto, I would rather wait for better data and come up with a better treaty.

As far as the US goes, it needs to unilaterally decrease its CO2 emissions. I agree with that 100% and think this needs to be a priority. I just really worry that much faith is put into Kyoto. I will not encourage the US to join Kyoto; but I darn well will speak my mind that the US has to do something on its own and do it now.

[ Parent ]
Purely scientific aspect (3.75 / 4) (#29)
by weirdling on Wed Jun 27, 2001 at 04:56:47 PM EST

Purely scientifically speaking, global warming is largely mythical. Sorry, but their current models predict that, based on 1970s data, the current temp should be several degrees higher than it is. Not strikingly confidence-inspiring, is it? However, spin doctors point out that we are getting a 'reprieve' in that mother nature seems to have chosen not to enforce this increase as she could have. Real scientists know this is bunk.

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
hrm (3.66 / 3) (#35)
by tarsand on Thu Jun 28, 2001 at 09:42:34 AM EST

Perhaps. Raw data is always fun especially given how much raw entropy goes into a massive system like the atmosphere, we just don't understand it completely.

What is quite easy to see is that we're producing greenhouse gasses faster than the biological systems of the Earth can reabsorb them. We know that greenhouse gasses increase the total energy level in the atmosphere. It doesn't take a genius to take a guess that things aren't going to be the same once that happens, the specifics of which are debatable, yes, of course.

As far as I'm concerned, I'm not going to assume an absolute worst case scenario as far as warming, but a healthy dose of a wary eye towards those that say it doesn't exist, or that there's not enough data -- those are just stalling moves so nothing will be done.

"Oh, no, I agree with tarsand!" -- trhurler
[ Parent ]
One minor nit (3.00 / 1) (#36)
by weirdling on Thu Jun 28, 2001 at 03:20:55 PM EST

We don't even know for sure that we are producing greenhouse gases faster than the atmosphere can absorb them, and we're absolutely certain that the amount of greenhouse gases produced by human behavior is dwarfed by those produced by natural processes. There's a consensus that the earth is .6 degrees warmer than it was 100 years ago, but no consensus as to cause, and plenty of people who insist that that is within the error rate of the measuring equipment. There isn't any consensus as to the rate of absorbtion of CO2 in particular, although there is an emerging consensus that it is likely that methane absorbs far more IR than does CO2, so it is likely that the most effective 'greenhouse gas' is actually produced mostly by natural processes. Of course, there isn't any real consensus that either CO2 or methane actually absorbs IR in sufficient quantities to affect the atmosphere. I could go on for quite some time. Essentially, no reputable scientific community is willing to do more than say that the earth has warmed .6 degrees, which could very well be a natural cycle, and that CO2 and methane concentrations appear to be increasing, but we haven't enough data to be sure that this isn't an anomaly, and we certainly haven't got enough data to be sure that it is significantly a result of human behavior, and we sure as heck don't know if it is a bad thing or not.

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
cow farts and burning coal (4.00 / 1) (#42)
by tarsand on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 04:11:48 PM EST

Yes, that produced by human activities is dwarfed by the natural carbon cycle. However, the Earth is a incredibly complex system, at dynamic equalibrum when left alone. Carbon will be absorbed as it is produced, that is homeostasis, the basis of all natural systems. Human activities just adds on top of that. I imagine it's much like a buffering solution, it can take slight variations in the absorbtion or production of CO2 and yet keep it at a overall constant level, but there is a limit to how much it can take before the buffering effect is lost. I think it's wise for humans not to push that too greatly. While atmospheric gas levels do change, it happens slowly, over great periods of time in which life has a chance to adapt ie. millions of years, it's happening far too quickly this time around.

As for other gasses, well yes, CO2 isn't nearly the best greenhouse gas. Everyone knows about methane, heck, water vapour is a better greenhouse gas than methane. However, due to the water cycle, excess water vapour tends to be taken out of the atmosphere regardless of concentration, since it's not highly dependant on biological entities to do it, whereas CO2 does. Since CO2 is the greenhouse gas humans produce in the greatest quantities other than water vapour, it's the one that's been concentrated on.

The Earth is coming out from the last orbital wobble, it is warming slightly nautrally, we have the data to detirmine that, what we don't have data for is to see where we've gone over the natural buffer for CO2 until it's gone, at which point there is going to be noticable warming. The properties of CO2 are well known, there's no debating what it does, and what it will do, all this is basically is bickering over when and at what level it will go over the edge, and how to prevent it, or buy more time until we know how to keep it from doing that.

"Oh, no, I agree with tarsand!" -- trhurler
[ Parent ]
Of course, assuming diminishing returns (none / 0) (#43)
by weirdling on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 05:30:27 PM EST

It is entirely possible that absorbtion rates for CO2 could very well go up as CO2 concentrations go up; that isn't known, either, but has been postulated, as plant growth does increase in the presence of increased CO2 concentration.
As to water vapor, one thing it does is increase the albido constant of the earth, causing a lower systemic absorbtion of energy and hence lower temperatures. This is an increasing returns cycle: the temperature goes up, the cloud cover increases, the clouds slow temperature gain, temperatures once again reach equilibrium.
Funny enough, right now there's a huge push to wind power to get away from CO2 belching coal plants. This push completely overlooks the fact that slower wind will result in lower white-cap counts on the oceans, which will result in lowered albido, or greater systemic absorbtion, and could very well be the actual contributing cause in global warming. Hence the adage, 'look before you leap'. There are literally thousands of variables that aren't being controlled. To insist that we reduce CO2 emissions is to focus on perhaps the least important and certainly, to all accounts, one of the least influencing factors in the system, to the ignorance of factors that may impinge more greatly. That is my biggest argument with global warming: we are just as likely to screw it up as help, given the appallingly deplorable lack of data. It is far wiser to just let it be.

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
yes my point (5.00 / 1) (#44)
by tarsand on Fri Jun 29, 2001 at 07:18:36 PM EST

As I suggested, there's a homeostatic buffer, with more CO2, more is absorbed, but with all buffers, there is a limit, I'm questioning where that is.

You're dead right with your comments, it just demonstrates how complex and self-sustaining natural systems are, they are inherantly self-buffering. There is a breaking point however, whilst we're pumping gasses into the atmosphere, we're also destroying the ecosystems that sustain the carbon sinks, mainly through habitat destruction, but this is an entirely different matter, yet interrelated, as most things are on this green and blue ball of rock.

The solution then, is to live low-impact, in order to sustain the ecosystems that sustain humans, humans must integrate back into them, as we once lived. I don't mean back to being nomadic hunters in small tribes, but we sure as heck can do more than we're doing now.

"Oh, no, I agree with tarsand!" -- trhurler
[ Parent ]
As a real scientist... (none / 0) (#46)
by ajduk on Mon Jul 02, 2001 at 09:17:02 AM EST

I have to disagree. CO2 levels and global climate correlate very well for the past 1 billion years, at least.

The current ice age (yes, we *are* living in an ice age) appears to be a result of the uplift of the himalaya, as increased CO2 drawdown via chemical erosion decreased CO2 levels to the Ice Age range. Prior to this, there had been no ice caps since the Permian. (about 225 million years ago, if I remember).

[ Parent ]
overdramatic (3.33 / 3) (#23)
by Ender Ryan on Wed Jun 27, 2001 at 11:14:13 AM EST

"the US gov't has declared war on every human on the planet"

Don't you think that's a little overdramatic? I think in reality the U.S. government doesn't want to be too strict about what it's citizens can and can't drive.

I think the real problem in the U.S. is that everyone wants to drive a big ass SUV sucking down 10 - 15 mpg on their 20 mile commute to and from work.

Exposing vast conspiracies! Experts at everything even outside our expertise! Liberators of the world from the oppression of the evil USian Empire!

We are Kuro5hin!

[ Parent ]

Oh, come now... (4.00 / 5) (#26)
by exanter on Wed Jun 27, 2001 at 01:50:20 PM EST

Unfortunately, I cannot accept this, the US gov't has declared war on every human on the planet with their continued lack of action and their energy 'policy'. (and they call themselves world leaders; one has to laught at those who crown themselves emperor, ha!)

Oh come on! Please explain why this is the fault of the US (or better yet, President Bush. For those without a clue about the constitution, the US Senate did vote 99-0 to NOT ratify the treaty). Last time I checked, there was one nation that ratified it. And that would be that world superpower Romania I belive. If it was that important, the rest of the world would have ratified it by now.

Now, what the US is really saying is that the Kyoto protocol is based on junk science, and they are not about to subject the country to ridiculous standards that would kill our economy while other countries are exempt. Running off and saying that the US gov't has declared war on every human on the planet is more than disingenuous (sp?), it's a crock of shit.

When all the other nations sign that useless treaty, then come back to the US and start whining about us signing it. We didn't get to be world leaders by kowtowing to every idiotic standard that comes along just because somebody bitches about it.

[ Parent ]

idiots (4.00 / 1) (#34)
by tarsand on Thu Jun 28, 2001 at 09:35:25 AM EST

there's no such thing as "junk science" just because someone doesn't agree with a conclusion. Anyone who uses the term smacks of a clueless git.

Again, it doesn't matter if it's the best, I don't see the USA doing anything at all. I live on this planet, the USA is the biggest contributor to things that are destroying the ecosystems I depend on, and apparently can do the most to help keep things from going to far. Oh but guess what, it's not good for the economy, guess that means the citizens of the USA living like spoiled pigs is more important than the survival of my family. Unfortunately, I just cannot accept that, and I really don't think most people will, they just don't grasp what has happened already, but they will, give it some more time.

When it comes to keeping things clean, unfortunately, the USA is not a world leader. Actually, it's not a leader in much, other than rampant capitalism and overconsumption, oh and military force. Not a role model I'm going to look up to, truthfully.

"Oh, no, I agree with tarsand!" -- trhurler
[ Parent ]
Yes, more money (3.20 / 5) (#12)
by Anatta on Wed Jun 27, 2001 at 09:42:04 AM EST

It seems that there really needs to be more research done on global warming. Even GW Bush has suggested that we go do some of our own research before acting. In this article in the wall st. journal's opinion section, one of the 11 scientists on the NAS board attacked the flawed models used, and suggested we wait and see what happens with our climate (though I would imagine he would support additional $$$ for research) as climate change by any estimation seems to progress in 100s of years... not exactly a huge rush...

Great topic, hopefully we'll see more.
My Music

>Even< GW Bush? (3.00 / 1) (#18)
by error 404 on Wed Jun 27, 2001 at 10:34:40 AM EST

Calling for more study before doing anything is a standard political stall tactic. Of course Mr. Bush wants more study - doing anything would cost his family and friends in the oil industry a lot of potential profit.

But I'm guessing that "gee, after that tax cut, we don't have any money to fund the study this decade. Maybe in 2012 when the tax cuts expire we can start a 20 year study and after that we might have enough information to do something."

Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
- Donovan

[ Parent ]

Waiting as a political strategy (5.00 / 1) (#21)
by Anatta on Wed Jun 27, 2001 at 10:49:49 AM EST

Calling for more study before doing anything is a standard political stall tactic.

It's also often the most wise course of action... (not at all saying that GW is wise, but rather happens to be right on this strategy). Take a look at this well argued (and actually quite humorous) article in the National Review. Yes, it's a very very conservative source... but the arguments are quite logical.
My Music
[ Parent ]

Humorous... (none / 0) (#30)
by magney on Wed Jun 27, 2001 at 05:20:25 PM EST

Was the line "Calvin Coolidge, the second greatest Republican president in the 20th century" one of the jokes? :)

Do I look like I speak for my employer?
[ Parent ]

Kyoto is a start (3.00 / 3) (#13)
by loaf on Wed Jun 27, 2001 at 09:49:24 AM EST

It might not be the be-all and end-all, but it's a start.

Research is good, but the 5 years that the research will take will take us further down the track. At least implement Kyoto in the meantime.

It strikes me as another apology for the US to do nothing for a bit longer.

Not an apology (4.00 / 1) (#15)
by Rasvar on Wed Jun 27, 2001 at 09:57:13 AM EST

Kyoto is just bad science and politics. The US has to do something unilaterally.

My opinion is that Kyoto will do more harm in the long run because other countries will not want to renegotiate or go though it again. It is better to kill this treaty and start over. Howvever, the US does need to take immediate steps to begin reducing CO2 on its own.

[ Parent ]
If Kyoto is so great, why doesn't Europe like it? (none / 0) (#47)
by sonovel on Thu Jul 05, 2001 at 06:43:33 PM EST

I have to assume that Europe hates the Kyoto treaty too. After all, they haven't ratified it. How do all you pro-Kyoto people respond to that?




Please, please respond. I'm biting my nails in anticipation.

[ Parent ]
Kyoto Protocol flaws (3.28 / 7) (#16)
by ritlane on Wed Jun 27, 2001 at 10:07:40 AM EST

I am one of those opposed to the Kyoto Protocol. I was glad when The US did not endorse it. I was not happy, however, with the logic that was used. Bush said more research was needed, which was true, but I don't believe more research is needed for us to realize that something needs to be done. More research has to be done to determine the effect of those things that are done (ie. no one could agree how much effect national tree planting efforts should count)

I am opposed to the Kyoto Protocol because (from what I understand) developing nations are given loop holes which allow them to not worry about environmental impacts while they develop their economy. What does this mean? US companies move overseas (more), the US gets screwed, and so does the environment.

The way I see it, environmental damage that was done developing current economies need not be repeated. Developing countries can learn from our mistakes. They need not string up telephone wires everywhere, use wireless. There are more clean alternatives now available.

I know, I can hear you all itching to reply, "This costs money." Yes it does, and developing nations certainly don't have enough money to worry about the environment, with all the problems many of them have.

So here is a proposal:

Nations should agree on a certain level of Greenhouse gasses to emit into the atmosphere per year. This amount is then divided up among the nations on a per capita basis.
This of course means that the US will be emitting too much per capita, while other less developed nations will emit less per capita.
Now here is the interesting part:
Nations should be allowed to trade their greenhouse gas emission allowances. They would not be able to do so for money though! This way developing nations could get things such as technology and infrastructure from the developed nations. There would be a dollar amount on these quotas, and they would be exchanged for a dollar amount of technology and infrastructure. Developed nations would also benifit as those building these things would be corperations from their economy. The developed nations would also then be able to continue their greenhouse gas emissions (while also given an incentive to reduce them) There would be, of course, hefty fines on those who went over their quota.

So in summary, Bush did the right thing for the wrong reasons. The Kyoto Protocol wasn't good enough and we shouldn't settle for it.

so what do you all think? Would this be a possibility?

I like fighting robots
Work it out. (4.00 / 3) (#17)
by pallex on Wed Jun 27, 2001 at 10:22:16 AM EST

"I am opposed to the Kyoto Protocol because (from what I understand) developing nations are given loop holes which allow them to not worry about environmental impacts while they develop their economy. What does this mean? US companies move overseas (more), the US gets screwed, and so does the environment. "

Well, the US has been `screwing` the environment about 250 times as badly as developing countries, so what do you expect. Also, the US can afford to do more about it.
I`m sure more research is needed, more tests, models, debates. Anything that will put off the inevitable.

[ Parent ]
Did you read? (4.50 / 2) (#20)
by ritlane on Wed Jun 27, 2001 at 10:48:58 AM EST

>Well, the US has been `screwing` the
>environment about 250 times as badly as
>developing countries, so what do you expect.

I'm sorry if my point was not clear. My point about Kyoto is that it simply gives companies more incentive to move from the US to less developed countries. This is a bad thing, because as much as we rail on US environmental policy, other nations would gladly reduce standards even more to attract business. This would mean the environment would not get protected (which is, remember, the point of the protocol) and the US economy would get screwed.

I know some feel that the US economy should take a hit, and some business should go to develop other nations, but this is not the point of the Kyoto Protocol. It is to protect the environment. The environment does not care from where it gets polluted, just that it is being polluted.

What I tried to offer as a solution was something that both protects the environment and develops the economies of developed and underdeveloped nations. As much as I dislike many of Bush's statements, it is true that we need to stop thinking of environmental and economic interests as opposing forces.

I like fighting robots
[ Parent ]
Bush is a patsy. (4.66 / 3) (#24)
by pallex on Wed Jun 27, 2001 at 11:41:04 AM EST

"As much as I dislike many of Bush's statements, it is true that we need to stop thinking of environmental and economic interests as opposing forces."

Read/check out `Small is beautiful` by E.F. Schumacher.

We need to put a financial charge/tax on anything which abuses the environment. People dump polluting waste in the sea/rivers, as it`s cheaper than creating/using landfill sites, or converting it into less harmfull material.

Solution? Make it more expensive to do so (ie environmentally damaging things), so that its included as part of the cost of the whole manufacturing/processing cycle.

That`s the sort of thing which big business is fighting. It`s job appears to be to put off the moment of realisation (or at least, doing something about it) for as long as possible.

As for US companies cynically going to other countries to take advantage of `loopholes` - well, thats been going on for ages. Check out the Union Carbide outrage in Bhopal, India 15 or so years ago for just one example (you can bet that would have cost just a little bit more in legal fees if it had been American civilians who were killed/maimed/blinded).

Some countries are making it illegal to go to other countries for `sex tourism` (having underage sex in Thailand, for examples) - if that principle can be applied to individuals, then surely there wont be a problem applying it to big business too?

Or am i just being naive now?

(sorry if i sounded sarcastic earlier :)

[ Parent ]
Rail against US environmental policy? (5.00 / 2) (#28)
by weirdling on Wed Jun 27, 2001 at 04:42:21 PM EST

According to here, something that has somehow been forgotten in all this debate is that, effectively, the US is cleaner than most countries on this earth.

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
In the interests of balance... (4.00 / 1) (#33)
by pallex on Thu Jun 28, 2001 at 06:23:42 AM EST

(that article made me smile! Unbiased, fearless reporting? We`ve heard of it...)

Heres another view:


"although it accounts for only 4 per cent of the world's population, it is responsible for 25 per cent of the emissions of gases that cause the greenhouse effect. Half of America's industrial might still burns fossil fuels and belches out fumes, while Americans themselves drive heavy trucks and cars further than any other people - to the mall and across the infinite landscape - and even the average household boasts 2.8 television sets and a wealth of electrical appliances"

[ Parent ]
Yes, GLOBAL WARMING IS HAPPENING!!!! (none / 0) (#37)
by weirdling on Thu Jun 28, 2001 at 03:26:57 PM EST

Nevermind it is a theory that ten scientists in a room, randomly selected, won't agree on. Nevermind that all models in global warming fail to correctly predict the current temperature. Nevermind there is no imperical evidence to prove that the CO2 in particular is responsible for global warming. Nevermind that methane is far more prevalent and far more likely to cause global warming should it be happening. GLOBAL WARMING IS HAPPENING!!!! HIDE THE KIDS, SEND THE SILVER TO GRANDMA'S AND RUN FOR THE HILLS, BECAUSE FLORIDA WILL BE UNDER WATER!!!!!!
Dang, if that's the only thing the US is doing to the environment, it's pretty shaky to get angry about, now isn't it? How about the Black Forest suffering from *ACID RAIN*, which is *ACTUALLY HAPPENING*? You can *GO THERE* and *SEE FOR YOURSELF*. How about European countries dumping *RAW SEWAGE*? Golly, none of those things are anywhere near as important as a *THEORY* that seems, to me, to only exist because Europe needs something to be pissed about.

I'm not doing this again; last time no one believed it.
[ Parent ]
News at 11 ! (2.85 / 7) (#22)
by Simon Kinahan on Wed Jun 27, 2001 at 10:51:58 AM EST

Scientist says government should give more money to scientists. Big surprise there.

Seriously though, there are 2 large scientific reports, taking in all the studies done so far on climate change, one from the IPCC, and one recent one sponsored by that chimpanzee in the big white building in Washington. Tellingly, even though the people paying them would have loved them to come out against, the American researchers concluded that on current evidence the IPCC's conclusions, including its advice for policymakers, were correct. In short, the current consensus has it that global warming is happening, and is partly due to anthopogenic gases.

This isn't to say that we don't need better predictions, but we also need to take precauctionary measures. That means CO2 reductions, and since those are unlikely to be adequate, it also means flood barriers. Although Kyoto was bad treaty in many respects, it had taken 10 years of horse trading to produce it, much of it designed to keep America on board. Pulling out was a dumb bit of pandering by the chimp to the people who paid for his campaign. Not that Europe's leaders (none of whom have ratified the treaty yet) are much better.


If you disagree, post, don't moderate
Pardon? (none / 0) (#38)
by stuartf on Thu Jun 28, 2001 at 05:01:15 PM EST

If you disagree, post, don't moderate

Like you do Simon? i.e. rating posts down to 1, instead of replying?

If you're trying not to be a hypocrite, I'd change your sig.

[ Parent ]

Nope (none / 0) (#39)
by Simon Kinahan on Thu Jun 28, 2001 at 05:17:36 PM EST

I didn't moderate your post to 1 'coz I disagreed. I did so because your link is broken - it points straight back to this article. Since that seemed to be the whole point of the post, it seemed to qualify as "inane". Had I disagreed, I would have argued with you. As it is, there wasn't even anything to disagree with.


If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]
Eek (2.00 / 1) (#40)
by stuartf on Thu Jun 28, 2001 at 06:41:01 PM EST

Well that's interesting. I even previewed it, and the link worked properly. I wonder how that happened?

My most humble apolgies to you, sir, and I bid you good day.

[ Parent ]

Hel-oooo... (4.00 / 3) (#27)
by Scrutinizer on Wed Jun 27, 2001 at 03:14:29 PM EST

Look, computer modeling of closely-coupled non-linear chaotic systems DOES NOT WORK. It will probably never work, as it is not even possible in theory as far as I am aware.

Other problems:

1) Anthropogenic CO2 is maybe 4% of the CO2 released into the system each year. Volcanic activity accounts for another 40% on average, released in a sporadic manner (some years none, other years lots more). The chances of the 4% controlling the warming effects are not good.

2) The US currently budgets around $2Bn (that's Billion, with a B) to climate related research.

3) Any agreements concerning global effects have to include EVERYBODY, or they are worthless.

4) Dubya didn't kill the US ratification, Congress did. Bush-baby just buried the stinking corpse.

What, me worry? -- Alferd E. Neuman

Another interesting bit (1.00 / 1) (#31)
by stuartf on Wed Jun 27, 2001 at 08:26:23 PM EST

This article presents an argument against global warming in laymans terms.

I personally think the global warming thing is based on junk science, however, I agree with limiting emissions, purely for the fact that anything that gives us cleaner air has got to be good.

Bugger (4.00 / 2) (#41)
by stuartf on Thu Jun 28, 2001 at 06:43:54 PM EST

Looks like that link got messed around with, it should have pointed here

[ Parent ]
That Link.. (5.00 / 1) (#45)
by ajduk on Mon Jul 02, 2001 at 08:29:39 AM EST

Was full of some of the worst lies I've ever seen in this debate...

<<Fact: CO2 occupies 0.035% of the atmosphere. If it doubled it would be 0.07%. I think we can all live with that.>>

Actually, the last time CO2 levels were that high, we were in the Eocene (about 40+million years ago). There were no ice caps in the Eocene. Eocene age marine deposits can be found under London, amongst other places.

<<Fact: CO2 is heavier than air. It is therefore utterly impossible to rise to form a 'greenhouse cover.' It dissolves in seawater. More CO2 produced just means more is going to dissolve. Scientists are still trying to find out how it gets from the sea to the trees. CO2 is found in centuries-old ice in Antarctica, way before any industrialisation on Earth. It is a natural part of the atmosphere and has a stable cycle of its own.>>

Errmm.. this guy has never heard of diffusion. Gravity has no effect on the distribution of CO2 in the atmosphere. CO2 is a natural part of the atmosphere - CO2 levels and global climate vary in precise step over the last 1 billion years.

<<Fact: More CO2 is absorbed by young plants than by grown-up trees. Therefore if all we're worried about is CO2 absorption then it makes more sense to cut down the rain forests and plant saplings or even grass, both of which would absorb far more CO2 than mature trees. It is hard to imagine the Greens advocating the cutting down of the rain forests. >>

Utterly stupid. Cutting down the rainforests would release more CO2 than would be adsorbed ab the regrowing vegetation.

<<According to satellite data, air temperatures in the lower atmosphere have NOT increased appreciably >>

This data if flawed, and was shown to be flawed several years ago.

<<If it wasn't distributed by the Moon daily, all of the atmosphere would end up on the sun's side because the sun would be the only body in space with any gravitational pull. There would be one giant cloud always on the sun's side. We would therefore never see the sun for the constant cloud. Moreover, trees, which need direct sun's rays, would not photosynthesize, therefore not produce oxygen which is so essential to life and our existence. So without the Moon there could be no life as we know it on Earth. When we are looking in space for evidence of life on other planets, scientists sometimes miss the fact that we should be looking for a planet that has a Moon just like ours. >>

Utter, Utter rubbish. He's forgetting that the Earth has gravity (hint: When did you last fall towards the Sun?)

<<Most of the climatological problems that are supposed to be facing mankind are questionable. For instance, take the story of poles melting causing sealevels to rise. Get a drinking glass and put an icecube in it. Now fill the glass with water until the water level is at the brim. Wait. Pretend the icecube is the Arctic and the water is the ocean. When the ice melts, does the 'sea' level overflow the glass? No. The level of the water actually stays the same, and if anything goes down. Oops. Schoolboy physics tells us that due to the flotation principle, the weight of water displaced is what pushes up or down the water level. It matters not whether the water is ice or water: the weight is the same. Plus, the volume of iced water contracts when it thaws. So if all the poles melted, if the sealevels are affected at all, they will decrease. And have you wondered why the Pacific atolls seem to be submerging, while the highwater mark on our beaches remains the same? Isn't sealevel supposed to be the same everywhere? >>

True - for the artic (actually, the water level stays the same in a glass as the ice cube melts). However, the Antartic ice sheets are based on rock, not floating on water, and represent enough water to raise sea level by 50-100m.

Sea level does vary by a few m around the world.

[ Parent ]
Poll option: Already working on climate modeling (5.00 / 2) (#32)
by zavyman on Wed Jun 27, 2001 at 10:03:15 PM EST

I'm fresh out of high school and working at the Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory as part of the climate group. I think many people misunderstand all the issues at hand here. So here is a bunch of background:

Part of the problem with climate modeling is that because of strange quirks in U.S. trade laws about selling below cost, the U.S. research groups have been unable to obtain fast vector-based supercomputers from companies located in Japan (Cray tends to be centrally at fault here), and instead were forced to typically buy Cray machines. In the previous decade, however, the groups have come to the conclusion that Crays are a waste of money, and since other vector-based supercomputers could not be bought, they switched to massively parallelized machines, (a.k.a.beowulf clusters in the Linux world). Argonne itself has Chiba City, which is a 512 processor (256 dual P3 machines) cluster with ultrafast Myrinet networking [great sales ad :-)].

Programming for vectorized machines is quite easy. The programmer codes normally, the compiler optimizes the code for vector operations, and the supercomputer rips through the operations. Great. However, programming for parallelized machines is wholly different. Although some implemenations exist where paralellism is handled by the compiler, they are quite slow and rarely what is needed. Instead, researchers have defined a standard called the Message Passing Interface, which forces the programmer to design the topology and the way that data gets sent around. Computations are much faster under this model.

But programming under MPI is quite complicated. Additionally, many climate models have been designed, but they all deal with one aspect of the global climate: you have the atmospheric model, the ocean temperature model, the land model, and the sea ice model. When working alone, the atmospheric model, for instance, assumes a constant ocean temperature. It would be nice to couple the systems together to work together to produce more accurate predictions, right?

This is where I come in. My small team is working on the Model Coupling Toolkit, which makes it very easy for climatologists to design couplers to hook up models and spread the computation evenly over all the processors available. Having data on different processors requires the toolkit to manage the transfer of data in a timely and efficient manner.

What does all this lead to? People are working on climates and are trying to make models as efficient and as realistic as possible. Climate@home sounds nice, but it really isn't that workable, because fast parallel computations require constant communication between the nodes, something that SETI does not do at all. Having extra funding does sound nice thought. I could use the $$ :-).

Do take a look at our Accelerated Climate Prediction Initiative. Before coming to work here, I had no idea about the effort involved.

Need more money for global warming research | 47 comments (41 topical, 6 editorial, 0 hidden)
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