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Global Warming...New Report...and it ain't happy news

 
 
Fedral
 
  1  
Reply Mon 24 Jan, 2005 08:36 pm
A little more about the climate of our wonderful planet:

http://www.geocraft.com/WVFossils/ice_ages.html


FUN FACTS about CARBON DIOXIDE

*Of the 186 billion tons of CO2 that enter earth's atmosphere each year from all sources, only 6 billion tons are from human activity. Approximately 90 billion tons come from biologic activity in earth's oceans and another 90 billion tons from such sources as volcanoes and decaying land plants.

*At 368 parts per million CO2 is a minor constituent of earth's atmosphere-- less than 4/100ths of 1% of all gases present. Compared to former geologic times, earth's current atmosphere is CO2- impoverished.

*CO2 is odorless, colorless, and tasteless. Plants absorb CO2 and emit oxygen as a waste product. Humans and animals breathe oxygen and emit CO2 as a waste product. Carbon dioxide is a nutrient, not a pollutant, and all life-- plants and animals alike-- benefit from more of it. All life on earth is carbon-based and CO2 is an essential ingredient. When plant-growers want to stimulate plant growth, they introduce more carbon dioxide.

*CO2 that goes into the atmosphere does not stay there but is continually recycled by terrestrial plant life and earth's oceans-- the great retirement home for most terrestrial carbon dioxide.

*If we are in a global warming crisis today, even the most aggressive and costly proposals for limiting industrial carbon dioxide emissions would have a negligible effect on global climate
0 Replies
 
georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 Jan, 2005 08:25 am
I have been sitting here contemplating just what might be the "intellectual equivalent of having sex with a snowdrift and then bragging about it." Frankly the metaphor fails at the snowdrift part - perhaps wet enough, but far too cold. Beyond that, any excuse for bragging is usually sufficient and sex certainly qualifies.

I didn't accuse Sen. Snow or anyone else of being "an environmental extremist". Instead I pointed out the alarmist character of the paper & accompanying announcement, and the truly absurd contradiction between the outcome they forecast and the remedy they propose. Common sense and simple deduction can be powerful, if occasionally rare, things.
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candidone1
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 Jan, 2005 09:50 am
So, is the solution then, to do nothing?
If you think that this is all just junk science dissiminated by extremists, then is inaction the logical or rational solution to polluting our living space?

Just curious what those who deny there is a problem (and I am referring to pollution and contamination of our living space, not global warming, climate change per se) propose we do?
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georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 Jan, 2005 09:53 am
Well if you buy the 'tipping point' nonsense then it is already too late to remedy the problem without measures sufficiently draconian as to create wars and starvation.
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Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 Jan, 2005 10:28 am
In the article Blatham's initial post links to, The Independent wrote:
The countdown to climate-change catastrophe is spelt out by a task force of senior politicians, business leaders and academics from around the world - and it is remarkably brief. In as little as 10 years, or even less, their report indicates, the point of no return with global warming may have been reached.

Aha. So the doomsday cult has rescheduled doomsday yet another time. Evidently they have learned nothing from the Club of Rome's Limits to Growth ('The world will run out of oil by 1991') or Paul Ehrlich et. al.'s Population Bomb ('I would bet even money that England won't exist anymore by the year 2000'). When they were published in the early 1970s, both publications were applauded by prominent members of the scientific community, mostly biologists and sociologists. So while it's possible that George is wring this time, he does have historical precedent on his side when he dismisses this particular task force.
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 Jan, 2005 10:48 am
Quote:
Thomas wrote:
Evidently they have learned nothing from the Club of Rome's Limits to Growth ('The world will run out of oil by 1991')


I've thought, Linits of Groth was more about population, but I may certainly have got that wrong.

From the "Short Version of the Limits to Growth":

[...]
The model we have constructed is, like every model, imperfect, oversimplified, and unfinished.
[...]
Our conclusions are :

1. If the present growth trends in world population, industrialization, pollution, food production, and resource depletion continue unchanged, the limits to growth on this planet will be reached sometime within the next one hundred years. The most probable result will be a rather sudden and uncontrollable decline in both population and industrial capacity.

2. It is possible to alter these growth trends and to establish a condition of ecological and economic stability
that is sustainable far into the future. The state of global equilibrium could be designed so that the basic
material needs of each person on earth are satisfied and each person has an equal opportunity to realize his
individual human potential.

[...]
Will new technologies alter the tendency of the world system to grow and collapse?

Let us assume, however, that the technological optimists are correct and that nuclear energy will solve the
resource problems of the world.

Let us also assume a reduction in pollution generation all sources by a factor of four, starting in 1975.

Let us also assume that the normal yield per hectare of all the world's land can be further increased by a
factor of two.Besides we assume perfect birth control, practiced voluntarily, starting in 1975.

All this means we are utilizing a technological policy in every sector of the world model to circumvent in
some way the various limits to growth. The model system is producing nuclear power, recycling resources,
and mining the most remote reserves; withholding as many pollutants as possible; pushing yields from the
land to undreamed-of heights; and producing only children who are actively wanted by their parents. The
result is still an end to growth before the year 2100.
[...]
Perhaps the best summary of our
position is the motto of the Sierra Club : "Not blind opposition to progress, but opposition to blind progress".
[...]
If there is cause for deep concern, there is also cause for hope. Deliberately limiting growth would be
difficult, but not impossible. The way to proceed is clear, and the necessary steps, although they are new
ones for human society, are well within human capabilities. Man possesses, for a small moment in his
history, the most powerful combination of knowledge, tools, and resources the world has ever known. He
has all that is physically necessary to create a totally new form of human society--one that would be built to
last for generations. The two missing ingredients are a realistic, long-term goal that can guide mankind to
the equilibrium society and the human will to achieve that goal. Without such a goal and a commitment to it, short-term concerns will generate the exponential growth that drives the world system toward the limits
of the earth and ultimate collapse. With that goal and that commitment, mankind would be ready now to
begin a controlled, orderly transition from growth to global equilibrium.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 Jan, 2005 11:30 am
Walter Hinteler wrote:
Thomas wrote:
Evidently they have learned nothing from the Club of Rome's Limits to Growth ('The world will run out of oil by 1991')


I've thought, Linits of Groth was more about population, but I may certainly have got that wrong.

Population growth was an important part of it, but it was also about resource scarcity. As best I remember from reading the book 10 years ago, the prediction was in the original version. At some point in the 90s, they published a book called "Limits to Growth Revisited", which I haven't read in full. Judging by second-hand accounts of the second book, they admit they were wrong about the date, but stand by the basic analysis underlying the misprediction.

If you are surprised that the misprediction is absent from the summary you posted, you may want to consider the summary's source, and its publication date.

blatham wrote:
There are two issues...is there a problem

There probably is a problem -- there now is a pretty broad consensus in the peer-reviewed meteorological literature on this topic. According to it, temperatures have been rising by about 1°F, or 0.6°C over the time for which we have reliable temperature records (about 150 years). There is an almost equally broad consensus that future greenhouse emissions will warm the globe further in the future. There is much dissent about the extent of the warming, some of which has to do with the reliability of climate models and their calibration. Most of which has to do with the assumptions that go into the model. For what it's worth, the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, using a spectrum of models and assumptions, projects a change of somewhere between 1.4 and 5.8°C over the 21st century.

blatham wrote:
(and how much of a problem)? ?

This question has been treated extensively in the peer-reviewed economics literature. William Nordhaus of Yale, who is politically liberal, is the father of this particular field of economics. His calculations, based on a middle-of-the-road projection of 2.5°C over the 21st century, yield a net cost of 0.5% of the worlds GDP.

blatham wrote:
and...what ought to be the policies in place?

Personally, I agree with the policiy of Bill Clinton, which was to do nothing but make a big show of appearing cooperative. For the sake of balance, I'll add that Nordhaus disagrees and suggests a very modest gasoline tax instead. But I will also add that in his article After Kyoto (PDF here), he argues that implementing the Kyoto Protocol would constitute a net loss to the world as a whole.

Politically, I mildly disagree with the Republican party line, which is to deny the existence of global warming altogether. As I said repeatedly in this forum, I think global warming is a problem, but it isn't worth fixing given the cost of fixing it. But judging by my debating experience here and elswere, this position, however true it may be, is extremely hard to defend in public debate. It makes you look like a heartless penny-pincher. Since political parties need the voter's affection, I understand the current Republican position from a political perspective. I am, for once, inclined to excuse them since their position distorts reality less than, say, Al Gore's Earth in the Balance, and they reach about the right policy conclusions.
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 Jan, 2005 11:41 am
Thomas wrote:
As best I remember from reading the book 10 years ago, the prediction was in the original version.


Well, my memory is worse: I wrote a term paper about that more than 30 years ago :wink:


Thomas wrote:
If you are surprised that the misprediction is absent from the summary you posted, you may want to consider the summary's source, and its publication date.


It's from 1972 - about that time, when I studied Political Sciences and wrote my paper about it :wink:

Btw. you can download the complete book via amazon (.com, .co.uk and .de).
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blatham
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 Jan, 2005 11:48 am
thanks thomas...good data there.

I promised McG I'd dig up I'd wade in and dig up some good unbiased scientific literature but I've got family in town (niece performing some opera pieces at Carnegie for first time), so anything others can dig up, as thomas has, would be appreciated. I'll just post this small item from an NPR interview with three scientists...
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1893089
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Fedral
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 Jan, 2005 12:14 pm
The part that makes me roll my eyes about all of this 'conclusive data' by the 'best minds on the subject' is an article I remember reading a very long time ago, and maybe some of the old farts like me will remember this one as well.

The article was written by some of the top climatologist, ecologists of the time and was based on the best and most accurate scientific data available... Can anyone guess what their conclusion was ?????

That pollution and particulate matter that was being pumped into the atmosphere would cause a new ice age due to the blocking of the suns rays.

Now excuse me for being a bit skeptical about the talk of global warming by all the top people in the field, because I am still not done panicking about the coming Ice Age that they promised was right around the corner if we didnt cease polluting... Rolling Eyes

It is not that I think they are all lying (Although I think some are exagerating a lot), it is just that I have learned to look with a somewhat jaded eye at all the doom and gloomers when they start yelling that the sky is falling...

After the 90th time you hear that the world is coming to an end, it just starts sounding like buzzes and clicks that you learn to tune out.
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georgeob1
 
  1  
Reply Tue 25 Jan, 2005 01:43 pm
Thomas makes several; interesting and likely accurate points.. However I do take exception to a couple of aspects of the political strategies he cites.

If Clinton's strategy, "which was to do nothing but make a big show of appearing cooperative", was wise, and remains (as it does) the implicit strategy of the Democrat Party, then it becomes very difficult for the Republicans to (1) admit that global warming exists as described, and (2) argue for doing nothing about it. In fact the Republicans have stopped short of denying it exists, contenting themselves with affirmations that its effects will not be those suggested by its proponents, and arguing for a more restrained approach and one that doesn't unduly threaten the sources of the new technologies that will eventually yield a solution to the problem. I believe this is both realistic and politically effective.
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Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Jan, 2005 02:08 am
Walter:

I tried to check the quotation about oil running out in the nineties. It turns out I couldn't check it directly because my copy of Limits is at my parents' place and I am not. What I did find is a passage in Bjorn Lomborg's Skeptical Environmentalist quoting the prediction. (Oil was actually supposed to run out in 1992, not 1991.) If you don't want to take my word that the Club of Rome predicted the world running out of oil in 1992, Lomborg's citation should be precise enough for you to check. It is

Meadows et al: Limits to Growth. Potomac Associates Book, London (1972), page 58.

(Gotcha on the publication date of the abstract though Smile -- and the title of the follow-up book was Beyond the Limits, not Limits of Growth revisited as I originally thought.)

georgeob1 wrote:
However I do take exception to a couple of aspects of the political strategies he cites.

Exception noted, and I think you may well be right. The intended thrust of my point, which I probably didn't get across, was that I find the Democratic and the Republican party lines in America both eminently more reasonable than the official positions of Europe's governments. I gather this position can be paraphrased as: "Everyone who doesn't sign and implement Kyoto is playing fast and loose with a global catastrophy." It's doomsday politics to a degree that would creep out our friend Lola big time if it came from born-again Christians.
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Walter Hinteler
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Jan, 2005 02:28 am
Thomas wrote:
If you don't want to take my word ....


I nearly believe everything you say/write. (Doubting Thomas - the Infidel, just comes to my mind Laughing )

And re oil: since I noticed by eyesight only last week that Germany still has some dozens oil pumps running on Usedom, I've no fear that gas stations will be closed :wink: )
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Montana
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Jan, 2005 02:30 am
I say we all go back to horse and buggy :-D
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Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Jan, 2005 03:38 am
Montana wrote:
I say we all go back to horse and buggy :-D

Good thinking, but arent' horses both exhalers of carbon dioxide and farters of methane? Their greenhouse gas emissions per distance travelled must be much worse than they are for cars. I say get rid of the internal combustion engine and equip our cars with nuclear reactors instead. This would also have the benefit of greatly encouraging defensive driving.
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Montana
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Jan, 2005 03:57 am
Good idea, Thomas, but I do find it hard to believe that horses are worse than cars.
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blatham
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Jan, 2005 05:53 am
Let's look at what the US EPA says on its site:

Quote:
Scientists know for certain that human activities are changing the composition of Earth's atmosphere. Increasing levels of greenhouse gases, like carbon dioxide (CO2 ), in the atmosphere since pre-industrial times have been well documented. There is no doubt this atmospheric buildup of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases is largely the result of human activities.


Quote:
Nevertheless, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated there was a "discernible" human influence on climate; and that the observed warming trend is "unlikely to be entirely natural in origin." In the most recent Third Assessment Report (2001), IPCC wrote "There is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities."


Quote:
As atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases continue to rise, scientists estimate average global temperatures will continue to rise as a result. By how much and how fast remain uncertain. IPCC projects further global warming of 2.2-10°F (1.4-5.8°C) by the year 2100. This range results from uncertainties in greenhouse gas emissions, the possible cooling effects of atmospheric particles such as sulfates, and the climate's response to changes in the atmosphere.

The IPCC states that even the low end of this warming projection "would probably be greater than any seen in the last 10,000 years, but the actual annual to decadal changes would include considerable natural variability."


Quote:
IPCC cautions, "Complex systems, such as the climate system, can respond in non-linear ways and produce surprises."


The fundamental scientific uncertainties are these: How much more warming will occur? How fast will this warming occur? And what are the potential adverse and beneficial effects? These uncertainties will be with us for some time, perhaps decades.

Quote:
Global warming poses real risks. The exact nature of these risks remains uncertain. Ultimately, this is why we have to use our best judgement - guided by the current state of science - to determine what the most appropriate response to global warming should be.


From the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Quote:
Human activity has been increasing the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere (mostly carbon dioxide from combustion of coal, oil, and gas; plus a few other trace gases). There is no scientific debate on this point. Pre-industrial levels of carbon dioxide (prior to the start of the Industrial Revolution) were about 280 parts per million by volume (ppmv), and current levels are about 370 ppmv. The concentration of CO2 in our atmosphere today, has not been exceeded in the last 420,000 years, and likely not in the last 20 million years. According to the IPCC Special Report on Emission Scenarios (SRES), by the end of the 21st century, we could expect to see carbon dioxide concentrations of anywhere from 490 to 1260 ppm (75-350% above the pre-industrial concentration).


Quote:
Large and rapid climatic changes affecting the atmospheric and oceanic circulation and temperature, and the hydrological cycle, occurred during the last ice age and during the transition towards the present Holocene period (which began about 10,000 years ago). Based on the incomplete evidence available, the projected change of 3 to 7°F (1.5 - 4°C) over the next century would be unprecedented in comparison with the best available records from the last several thousand years.


http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/warming/art/graph2.gif
Quote:
Graph showing roughly 1000 years of temperature in the northern hemisphere. It is based on combined data from ice layers, corals, trees, etc. The 20th Century's one degree Fahrenheit warming stands out dramatically.


http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/warming/art/graph3.gif
Quote:
Over a 40 year period, scientist Charles Keeling measured the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere. The above "Keeling Curve" shows the increase in total concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere from 1957-1997. This unbroken record of the carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere shows how it's gone up, in round numbers, from around 315 parts per million to around 370 parts per million on average today. This data is widely accepted by everyone.


http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/warming/art/graph4.gif
Quote:
Graph showing a 450,000 year record of carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the earth's atmosphere. This record was compiled from analyzing bubbles of fossilized air trapped in ice cores. The fossilized air shows the levels of carbon dioxide and other gases in the atmosphere throughout this 450,000 period. The last 100-150 years of the 20th Century show a significant rise in CO2.

graph source (nova)
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blatham
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Jan, 2005 06:08 am
Now, let's acknowledge in this discussion that there has been a large and very well funded campaign established and run by industry interests to denigrate climate change as a 'hoax', or as reflecting the views of 'radicals', or as a set of theories which have 'no consensus' in the science community, or as 'junk science', etc. Each of those claims is a lie, or at the very least, a serious misrepresentation (see data above).

Let's also acknowledge that this campaign is reflected in Bush administration statements and policies (commenting on his own science council conclusions that GW was real, and that human activity was an undoubted causal factor, Bush said "Yes, I'm familiar with what those bureaucrats said.") We'll note that the Texas Republican Party Platform of 2000 states, "We oppose...the theory of global warming."

And, let's acknowledge that such comments/opinions are forwarded broadly across the right wing media.

Finally, let's acknowledge that the publication of Lomborg's book was followed by Science Journal, Nature Journal, and Scientific American ALL releasing special editions presenting the problems and errors in Lomborg's analyses. For both of these scientific journals, the most significant science journals published in English, such a special edition on a single contemporary issue, was unprecedented.
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Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Jan, 2005 08:34 am
blatham wrote:
Now, let's acknowledge in this discussion that there has been a large and very well funded campaign established and run by industry interests to denigrate climate change as a 'hoax', or as reflecting the views of 'radicals', or as a set of theories which have 'no consensus' in the science community, or as 'junk science', etc. Each of those claims is a lie, or at the very least, a serious misrepresentation (see data above).

Yes. But there was an equally well-organized campaign of environmentalist volunteers who grossly exaggerated the state of peer-reviewed science in the other direction, usually by a larger margin than the industrial lobbyists did. I guess, without being able to prove it, that this campaign isn't much less well funded than the other one if you count the market value of the volunteer's labor as funding. And it is their version, not the industrial lobby's, that is reflected in today's conventional wisdom about global warming. I reject your implied notion that the junk science peddled in The Day after Tomorrow is somehow more acceptable than the industrial lobby's version. And it is the environmentalists' exaggerations, not the industry lobbyists, which have become the common wisdom about global warming.

blatham wrote:
Finally, let's acknowledge that the publication of Lomborg's book was followed by Science Journal, Nature Journal, and Scientific American ALL releasing special editions presenting the problems and errors in Lomborg's analyses. For both of these scientific journals, the most significant science journals published in English, such a special edition on a single contemporary issue, was unprecedented.

I think it still is unprecedented, because it didn't happen. As best I recall, your account of what these journals did is simply false, and none of them ever released any special editions in this matter. Is it possible that they sold reprints of their anti-Lomborg articles, and your source mistook them for special editions? Selling reprints is an everyday routine in academic publishing, including the publishing of Nature, Science, and Scientific American.

As I recall the debate, Scientific American released four articles -- a total of about 15 pages -- all of which disapproved of Lomborg's book, but none of which refuted any important substantial claim he made. (One of them, John Holdren, discovered two minor errors, and Lomborg immediately posted corrections on his website.) Two of the four authors had seen their own work criticized in Lomborg's book, so weren't impartial judges in the matter. (In a later issue of Scientific American, Lomborg was given one page to reply.) The Scientific American used to have a point-counterpoint account of the debate on its webpage, but it appears to be gone.

In the case of Nature and Science, the debate happened in the book review section and the "letters to the editor" section of those journals. These sections are not peer-reviewed -- unlike the original research articles published in other sections, which give these magazines their reputation, and unlike The Skeptical Environmentalist itself, which was peer reviewed in the process of being published by Cambridge University Press. Hence, your description of Nature's and Science's involvement in the matter is not literally false. But it misleads your readers into overestimating the scientific authority of the anti-Lomborg arguments published there.

All of this can be followed on www.lomborg.com as well as www.anti-lomborg.com . You may well be interested in reading it, blatham. The mistakes in your account of the facts, and the way they systematically end up being anti-Lomborg, look to me as if you have never read The Skeptical Environmentalist. It also looks as if you have never followed the debate about the book anywhere but from second- and third-hand accounts, published by somebody on the anti-Lomborg side.

(And, for Gaia's sake: I just quoted to him for a citation in his book! Nobody ever accused Lomborg of manufacturing bogus quotes! Evil or Very Mad )
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blatham
 
  1  
Reply Wed 26 Jan, 2005 05:11 pm
thomas

You can put the scowl away in your pocket. I have family here and haven't had time to fully read posts...and my last post was not a response to anything you'd written (other than noting you'd mentioned Lomborg). I'd promised McG I would pull up some data. The other comments weren't to or about you. I'll get back to you tomorrow.
0 Replies
 
 

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