May 2008

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« Global Warming – Part 1 | Main | Peer Review »

Comments

Kyle

It is quite clear that golbal warming does exist, and that most scientist suporting the other side of the debate are paid of. It should be admitted too, though, that poeple on both side of the debate do act like idiots at times. The thing is that there are many good, rational people on the global warming is bad argument, and only a few idiots, there is the same number of idiots in the other side.

Also all this bull shit about how much it will cost pisses me off. Th eonly people who will pay are big buisness, and the bastards earn enough money already. The idiot on the movie who complains that envoromental people are anti humen is really quite stupid. That same bastard got paid thousands of dollars buy big buisnesses to defend them with his "credible" name, I wonder how much of that he gave to struggling third world companies.

Also any real restricitons will not come out of a U.N resolution, it will come from individual state legislature. The number one way to do this is quite obvious, tax the bastards till they stop, and fine them while you're at it, then use that money to start doing whatever you need to do to clean up the enviorment.

I have a lot more to say but can't be bothered to say it.

Borjan

To reiterate my point from my comment on Global Warming Pt.1:

if GW is happening it wouldn't be so much a problem if there wasn't so many of us.

Bono

blah blah and more blah - could it be perhaps the reason we have all these problems and feel good blaming others (i.e America and the wealthy nations) for all the world's evils is because we 'mankind' have rejected the true solution of our problems, so instead we wander around like blind gnats, groping in the darkness - always crying the sky is falling, always try to come up with new laws and dictatorships to enforce fallible unjust ordinances to control the minions.

Read these passages, written 4,000 years ago - pretty much tells us where we are doesn't it.

Deu 28:15 But it shall come to pass, if you will not listen to the voice of the LORD your God, to observe to do all his commands and his statutes which I command you this day, that all these curses shall come on you, and overtake you.
Deu 28:16 Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the field.
Deu 28:17 Cursed shall be your basket and your kneading trough.
Deu 28:18 Cursed shall be the fruit of your body, and the fruit of your ground, the increase of your livestock, and the young of your flock.
Deu 28:19 Cursed shall you be when you come in, and cursed shall you be when you go out.
Deu 28:20 The LORD will send on you cursing, confusion, and rebuke, in all that you put your hand to do, until you are destroyed, and until you perish quickly; because of the evil of your doings, by which you have forsaken me.
Deu 28:21 The LORD will make the pestilence cleave to you, until he has consumed you from off the land, where you go in to possess it.
Deu 28:22 The LORD will strike you with consumption, and with fever, and with inflammation, and with fiery heat, and with the sword, and with blight, and with mildew; and they shall pursue you until you perish.
Deu 28:23 Your sky that is over your head shall be brass, and the earth that is under you shall be iron.
Deu 28:24 The LORD will make the rain of your land powder and dust: from the sky shall it come down on you, until you are destroyed.

Pretty cool huh?

Susan

I have to say, aside from the compelling evidence as to the stupidity of the human race this debate has provided me, I find myself highly amused by the choice of "Mobutu the goat herder".

Was that deliberate? Or was it just your brain molecules sparking randomly?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobutu

[It was random. -- Scott]

Josh

What finally convinced me was when I began reading PRO global warming sites (see, e.g., http://realclimate.org) and my bullshit detector started firing non-stop.

It's easy to be swayed by slick propaganda - and like Scott, I have been swayed in both directions by it on this issue. But the theory of AGW continues to have small unexplainable holes that, every time they appear, get plugged by the climatological equivalent of the Ptolemaic "epicycles". "10 yrs ago: Look at the climate record - CO2 and temperature are perfectly correlated." "Today: Oh, actually CO2 lags temperature by 800 years, but that just means that it still explains MOST of the correlation." ::bullshit detector fires wildly:: When the data reverses sign and your theory remains intact, I get suspicious.

And I'm sorry, but we claim to have a consensus and yet the science relies heavily on what are essentially under-constrained models (GCMs) with more parameters than data points. How can such a thing lead to consensus?

I've been wrong before, I'll probably be wrong again, and I may be wrong about this. But for now, I need to trust my bullshit detector and it's definitely going CRAZY on this one.

Susan

Good job, Scott. Admitting your ignorance is the first step to wisdom.

Now, all of you, either do the reasearch or shut the fuck up. And by research I mean go out, learn about the science, read the papers for and against. Draw yourself up a handy-dandy little "for" and "against" column, and see what it looks like after you check out both sides.

Some starting rules;
1. If you think what you read in "State of Fear" counts as evidence, I suggest you head over to Europe to look for the Holy Grail a la The Davinci Code.
2. If you think "random blog poster" counts as evidence, I suggest you go tell your boss the sky is falling because the guy on the subway told you so.
3. If you think that the local weather, your friends/relatives opinions, your favourite loudmouthed radio personality or your latest conspiracy theory counts as evidence, I suggest you go stand in a corner and smash your head against the wall a few times. Keep doing this until some modicum of common sense returns to you or you have suffered irreparable brain damage. Trust me, you'll be doing the world a favour.

Chris P

I think global warming can be tied directly to population. There are just too many damn 98.6 degree people on this Earth and their body heat is warming up the Earth.

Goran Mitrovic

you americans are so ignorant... you don't care about global warming, but, all of you drive toyota priuses, possibly the ugliest and the most pointless car on the earth

Peter Johnston

The world is engaged in one massive displacement activity. In 1900 there were 1 billion people on the planet, now there are nearly 6 billion and the graph is going up exponentially. With this many people using fossil fuels and breathing out CO2 there's bound to be an effect. But which world leader is courageous enough to tell half the world they have to die or at least stop having babies. And which people do we stop - people in Alabama - or perhaps Capitol Hill. George Bush is doing a good job of reducing the world population but unless there are more like him we'll never get it down to a manageable level. So instead we muck about with people's cars and bin collections. Really it is just a big opportunity for the people who like to tell others what to do to restrict the rest of us in the name of a bigger power. Bit like that God thing really!

Nobuddy

The world's climate has been cycling between warm and ice age pretty much forever; it's silly to think that this has come to a halt just because WE'RE here, not to mention that we've coincidentally caused the exact same process to happen due to our actions.

I've read that one average volcanic eruption shoots out 10,000 times more ozone-eroding and greenhouse chemicals than we've produced in our entire time on Earth; the rebuttal at the time was that those upwardly-rocketing chemicals somehow didn't reach the ozone, but our aerosols did... lol!!

Nobuddy

The world's climate has been cycling between warm and ice age pretty much forever; it's silly to think that this has come to a halt just because WE'RE here, not to mention that we've coincidentally caused the exact same process to happen due to our actions.

I've read that one average volcanic eruption shoots out 10,000 times more ozone-eroding and greenhouse chemicals than we've produced in our entire time on Earth; the rebuttal at the time was that those upwardly-rocketing chemicals somehow didn't reach the ozone, but our aerosols did... lol!!

Alexandre

Ok, serisously, what the hell. The reason why occidental countries should slow their pollution levels isn't only to prevent global warming, come on! In this debate, everyone forgets about polution and it's direct impact : acid rains, polution of the forest, disapearing of the wild life, ... Those are serious reasons for recycling and every hippie thing you got to do in order for your children's children to be able to experience wildlife et large green spaces.

André

Frankly, I am a little embarrassed for Scott here, especially since he's obviously a very bright guy. It's unfortunate that he's gone so far astray. He should have stuck with his first instinct of trusting the scientists. The Durkheim documentary is total joke and taking it seriously if even briefly is regrettable.

There are a number of problems with this post, a few random points:

-The question of whether human activity is involved is hardly irrelevant since it has a direct bearing on the second of the "only important questions". The warming is heavily attributable to human GHG emissions and land use changes and any viable attempt to mitigate it stems from acknowledging these facts. I don't deny that making the necessary changes will be challenging but it is definitely possible and looking more likely as support for action has grown dramatically in the past few years. The bigger uncertainty is whether enough will be done in time to avert the worst impacts.

-The concern about he impact of of mitigation on the global poor is noble but misguided. Adverse climate change impacts (e.g., sea level rise, draught) will likely affect third world countries disproportionally. Further, the mitigation interventions with the lowest marginal cost tend to be in developing countries. Developed countries can pay to pluck these low hanging fruit (say through the Clean Development Mechanism) to compensate for some of their emissions.

-We are in fact pretty sure climate change effects will be negative on balance. For an overview: http://www.ipcc.ch/SPM13apr07.pdf
True, there are some benefits such as the potential for increased crop yields (for 1-3 degrees of warming but not beyond that) but they are likely outweighed by a concordant increase in extreme weather such as drought, floods, and an increase in invasive alien species, not to mention sea level rise.

-There is strong evidence that the sign on the cost-benefit for mitigation is positive. See Bill Nordhaus's work for a conservative but rigorous treatment: http://www.econ.yale.edu/%7Enordhaus/homepage/web%20table%20of%20contents%20102599.htm
Of course the IPCC WGIII AR4 SPM is also worth reading although it is not a CBA. http://www.mnp.nl/ipcc/docs/FAR/ApprovedSPM0405rev4b.pdf

-I fully agree that the uncertainties in the economic modelling are large. However, the uncertainties strengthen the case for action as it is better to "purchase an insurance policy" against catastrophic risk. Martin Weitzman has a good albeit technical discussion of this in a working paper for the Journal of Economic Literature regarding the Stern Review: http://www.economics.harvard.edu/faculty/Weitzman/papers/JELSternReport.pdf

Two top Australian climate economists express some similar sentiments in a more accessible and brief statement here: http://johnquiggin.com/index.php/archives/2007/05/17/reply-to-davidson-and-robson/

The last link is highly recommended for those that want to read a bottom-line rationale for mitigation without wading through a lot of material.

I'm also a mystified by his criticisms of the New Scientist piece. So what if they don't list the precise number of credible scientists on the petition. Even if it is as many as twenty (doubtful given the number of cranks and retirees but anything's possible) it's a trivial number compared to the 10,000+ on the other side and the mountains of evidence. Given a large enough sample there will always be extreme outliers on any issue, even amongst experts.

The criticism on the atmospheric carbon budget is also bewildering. The piece explains how the human contribution is identified through isotope testing. References include the IPCC Working Group I AR4 SPM and a study put out by the British Geological Society. The SPM in particular puts the evidence of the human influence front and centre in the first five pages. How could Scott miss this? I believe others have commented on this but at the risk of beating a dead horse I refer you to this brief treatment in Physics Today:
http://www.physicstoday.org/vol-58/iss-5/p16a.html

You can read a comprehensive overview of the carbon budget here: http://www.grida.no/climate/ipcc_tar/wg1/095.htm

I'm not terribly interested in scrutinizing the rest of the New Scientist piece since it covers very familiar, well-worn territory but it seems decent upon a superficial skim.

Sorry for carrying on too long. I sincerely hope Scott will spend a bit more time reading the copious evidence for mitigation before concluding the answers to his important questions are "beats the shit out of me". There's good reason the preponderance of experts takes this seriously and more and more "convert". As they said about East Germany and the so-called attractiveness of communism, people crossing the wall tend to be going in one direction.

Steve

I agree with you entirely Scott.

And I'm not sure about all that polly anna crap these so called "medical Authorities" have been saying about cigarettes. I'm not saying that a lot of people don't get sick mind, but hey it could be something else right?

When it comes to reasearch on Global Warming, I'll be much more comfortable with trustworthy folk from Exxon and Shell than some bunch of long haired tree huggers...

HyperActiveX

"I’d like some clarity before I decide whether or not to kill Mubutu to save my beach house."

Dude - poor taste. You've dropped a couple of notches on my scale. You don't have to go overboard with the cavalier attitude - your humour works pretty well as it is.

Waxy

You say "So regardless of how sure the scientists are that human activity is causing most of the global warming, it won’t have much impact on policies." but I have to disagree. Politicians will change their policies if they think it can win votes. And it will win votes as the media have gone nuts about Global Warming as its an easy topic to do stories about with lots of easy shots to get. What would you rather report on ... the front line of the Iraq War or get sent to New Caledonia to do a story on the ocean rising? The government needs an issue to polarise the voters with propaganda and global warming is a lot better choice than the Iraq War and before that the Cold War. So if nothing elase global warming will be useful as a political football and I say bring it on as I'm sick of wars being used as for political gains.

Blue Mikey

Mark,
Coffee for breakfast every morning. Just coffee and more coffee.

I would say that any time one side of an issue has valuable vested interests to protect and invests huge amounts of money into directed propaganda, that side is always wrong. I don't even need to hear what the issue is.

I don't much care about global warming, though, because it's already too late. The kind, gentle Al Gore approach of encouraging token action and offering gentle reassurance is, sorry to say, complete mouthfart. If we put EVERY conservation and anti-GW proposal extant into effect the day after tomorrow, we couldn't even arrest the rate of carbon emissions INCREASES to the rate that exists this second. Holding carbon emissions to current levels with NO increases is clearly an impossibility, even if there were no debate at all and every nation were 100% compliant, and we are completely, utterly incapable of REDUCING overall carbon emissions, no matter how long we had to do it--one year, ten years, whatever. We can't do it. We're helpless.

Then again, evolution and the environment are very much like the free market: they will adjust. It's just that nagging question of how many people will get hurt in the adjustment, and how badly, that should concern us.

So we're really reduced to two options: 1.) to hope that leading scientific giants like John Stossel, Michael Crichton, and Dennis Miller are right and we have nothing to worry about, or 2.) attempt to prepare for the consequences of global warming--chiefly increasing droughts putting pressure on food production and mass population dislocations. I personally think it would be prudent to address #2 even in the unlikely event that #1 turns out to be the pleasant surprise the future has in store for us, but then, that's just me.

--Blue Mikey

Cincinnati_Bob

What an incredible scam global warming is. Embrace the change if there is one. Improve life today, let tomorrow's folks improve tomorrow. They'll have better science and tools to work on it. Relocate Jimmy Buffet. He needs new material anyway.

No matter what the subject, mankind and its scientists have historically been so far off the target as to make it supremely embarrassing to anyone tempted to stand on the rooftops and proclaim "I Have the Answer!" Granted they are usually dead when the data comes out to show how absurd they were..

Anyway, the fact that they are not embarrassed to do this over and over proves their ignorance and/or insatiable greed beyond doubt.

Blue Mikey

Mark,
Coffee for breakfast every morning. Just coffee and more coffee.

I would say that any time one side of an issue has valuable vested interests to protect and invests huge amounts of money into directed propaganda, that side is always wrong. I don't even need to hear what the issue is.

I don't much care about global warming, though, because it's already too late. The kind, gentle Al Gore approach of encouraging token action and offering gentle reassurance is, sorry to say, complete mouthfart. If we put EVERY conservation and anti-GW proposal extant into effect the day after tomorrow, we couldn't even arrest the rate of carbon emissions INCREASES to the rate that exists this second. Holding carbon emissions to current levels with NO increases is clearly an impossibility, even if there were no debate at all and every nation were 100% compliant, and we are completely, utterly incapable of REDUCING overall carbon emissions, no matter how long we had to do it--one year, ten years, whatever. We can't do it. We're helpless.

Then again, evolution and the environment are very much like the free market: they will adjust. It's just that nagging question of how many people will get hurt in the adjustment, and how badly, that should concern us.

So we're really reduced to two options: 1.) to hope that leading scientific giants like John Stossel, Michael Crichton, and Dennis Miller are right and we have nothing to worry about, or 2.) attempt to prepare for the consequences of global warming--chiefly increasing droughts putting pressure on food production and mass population dislocations. I personally think it would be prudent to address #2 even in the unlikely event that #1 turns out to be the pleasant surprise the future has in store for us, but then, that's just me.

--Blue Mikey

Kilgore J. Trout

Scientists are self-centered weasels like the rest of us.

I remember the coming ice age at the end of the 70s. It was kind of cold back then into the early 80s. It seemed hot 15 years before that.

If polar bear cease to exist in nature, does it really matter in my day-to-day existence. Maybe some giant rock is going to come to earth looking for extinct cetaceans like in one of the Star Trek movies, except in the case it wil be ursines. Then we'll be in deep shit.

One thing I've noticed is that my landscape shrubbery seems to be growing at an accelerated rate. Must be the extra CO2.


tord

I think debate about the greenhouse effect is interesting, but even I, as a scientifically trained observer working in the field find the dicussions on the topic heard to follow. Personally I prefer to see it as a debate on fuel efficiency and energy security. The deabte makes a lot more practical sense that way

Theo Bee

I thnk we should have a closer look at the benefits of global warming rather just the negative panick side.

Plants need CO2 warmth and water to grow better, the projected conditions will provide all three, the projected population growth will surely need it.

Trying to reduce C02 emissions in a panic is also all good, it means we are targeting increased plant efficiencies and encourage alternate energy sources, as said many a time, any fool can waste coal and oil resources by just burning them.

The real gains to be made are when we can discourage the Umsil family from switching their cooking from camel manure to oil or coal, they need to skip that step and go direct to some form of solar.

It could be done though the carbon trading mechanism, industry can supply say a free solar cooker to them worth six credit points or some such thing.

In addition manure makes good fertilizer.

Theo

Jim Geraghty

A number of people have posted comments along the lines of...
"I don't know whay you are confused, I just did a Wikipedia search on global warming and got all the facts immediately."

When you are dealing with people that think like this, you know it is time for global warming (or something) to do some thinning-out of the species.

No wonder you couldn't be arsed to look into this topic before now. There are no experts, but millions of them.

jim

Back in the seventies scientists were predicting that we were in the beginnings of a new ice age. They seem to have forgotten all about that prediction now though.

Tophe

From the Introduction to Bertrand Russell's 'Sceptical Essays' (1928):

"I wish to propose for the reader's favorable consideration a doctrine which may, I fear, appear wildly paradoxical and subversive. The doctrine is this: that it is undesirable to believe a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true.

First of all, I wish to guard myself against being thought to take up an extreme position. ... [Pyrrho] maintained that we never know enough to be sure that one course of action is wiser than another. In his youth, ... he saw his teacher with his head stuck in a ditch, unable to get out. After contemplating him for some time, he walked on, maintaining that there was no sufficient ground for thinking that he would do any good by pulling the old man out. ... Now I do not advocate such heroic scepticism as that. I am prepared to admit the ordinary beliefs of common sense, in practice if not in theory. I am prepared to admit any well-established result of science, not as certainly true, but as sufficiently probable to afford a basis for rational action.
....
There are matters about which those who have investigated them are agreed. There are other matters about which experts are not agreed. Even when experts all agree, they may well be mistaken. .... Nevertheless, the opinion of experts, when it is unanimous, must be accepted by non-experts as more likely to be right than the opposite opinion. The scepticism that I advocate amounts only to this: (1) that when the experts are agreed, the opposite opinion cannot be held to be certain; (2) that when they are not agreed, no opinion can be regarded as certain by a non-expert; and (3) that when they all hold that no sufficient grounds for a positive opinion exist, the ordinary man would do well to suspend his judgment."

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