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Global Warming: Do You Believe? 764

Posted by JonKatz
from the -new-era-for-technology-and-politics?- dept.
Perhaps because science and technology have always been dominated by educated, sometimes arrogant elites, and are far beyond the attention spans or formats of conventional media, few scientific issues manage to attract the attention of large numbers of people. Gene mapping and genomics could change the nature of life itself, but few national political figures in the U.S. talk much genetics, or the impact of fertility drugs on kids and families. Spielberg raises some profound moral issues involving A.I. in his new movie, drawing a number of critical raves but proving a disappointment at the box office. And Hollywood hasn't yet even heard of nano-technologies. The emerging exception appears to be global warming, which Americans are suddenly very worried about. Maybe this is the beginning of a new era for science and politics.

This concern about global warming is significant, especially in light of the fact that the government's existing environmental policies (along with growing perceptions of technological and cultural imperialism) are making the U.S. once again the most resented country in the world. Already high on the agenda of Western Europe and a cause on U.S. college campuses, this could be the first in a series of techno-political issues that will rise up in the 21st Century. Issues like genomics will morph from gee-whiz cover stories in Time to very real concerns for individuals.

Most Americans are now aware of global warming, says a comprehensive report cited in American Demographics magazine, even though significantly fewer express concern or understanding about its impact.

In August 2000, the Harris poll asked Americans about their beliefs concerning global warming and, more specifically, about the relationship between temperature changes and forest fires. Many more than in previous surveys said they believed that global warming exists and is a serious environmental issue, although only 35 percent believe it was directly responsible for increasing forest fires in the United States.

In l997, 67 percent of Americans surveyed believed that increased carbon dioxide and other gases released into the atmosphere would, if unchecked, lead to global warming and increasing average temperatures. By last year, the figure had risen to 72 per cent. Even though they weren't aware of any specific or urgent impac on their own lives, and thus weren't particularly alarmed, nearly half thought that global warming should be treated as a "very serious" problem. In fact, only 13 percent of Americans said global warming wasn't a serious problem, a record low.

But science and the environment are becoming among the planet's hottest political issues. President Bush touched off a firestorm when he refused to sign the Kyoto accord. Although the reaction in the U.S. was less pronounced, a March 2001 Time/CNN poll found that two-thirds of Americans think the President should develop a plan to reduce the gas emissions that may contribute to global warming.

The U.S. has largely remained reluctant to address science through politics no matter how serious the issues. Big media political coverage tends to focus attention on scandal and confrontation, away from explanations of issues like global warming, or the equitable distribution of technology. Although they differ on certain scientific and environmental issues, neither of our two increasingly similiar dominant American political parties pay much attention to technological issues, or have anything resembling a scientific ideology or agenda.

When a serious matter like medical research involving stem cells from frozen embryos arises, politicians worry at least as much about religious support as they do about what scientists advise.

One might think members of Congress would be up in arms at the growing control of genetic research by a handful of bio-tech corporations; instead, there's hardly any debate about it at all.

My prediction: global warming will become the first issue of science and politics that captures the imagination of large numbers of American voters and becomes a national political issue (one on which the President definitely seems to have taken the unpopular side.) Why? Because it's a tactile phenomenon; people can feel that the weather is changing. They can see pictures of penguins dying in Antarctica. They read that skin cancer rates are rising.

Unlike more abstract scientific issues like genetics (which may become a highly visible political issue, but which isn't yet), or technologically-related social issues like intellectual property and copyright, even the myopic American political and media system, which focused for nearly two codependent years on Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton, will have to start paying attention to global warming.

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Global Warming: Do You Believe?

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    That you credit a petition signed by X thousand self-proclaimed "scientists" (dermatologists, industrial process engineers, opticians, linguists, and the like, all of whom deemed "scientists" by virtue of having a B.S. or M.S.) speaks volumes about your capacity for critical thought.
  • by Anonymous Coward
  • by Aaron M. Renn (539) <arenn@urbanophile.com> on Tuesday July 10, 2001 @07:27AM (#94177) Homepage
    Back in the 1970's the same global warming scaremongers were telling us that a new global ice age was coming. Now it is global warming. The prescription is the same though: immediate radical new government regulations, a reduction in industry, expensive new pollution control requirements, and forcing people to live lifestyles they haven't voluntarily chosen. And of course the sky is falling and if we don't do something NOW, we'll be in serious trouble.

    Well, the global temperature did rise about 1 degree - in the first half of the century. The temperature of the earth and the surface climate have radically changed many times in the past, and without any any artificial greenhouse emmissions from humans. The effect of the sun's radition, volcanos, etc have long had an effect on the earth. There may also be long term cycles we know nothing about.

    There is some evidence for the earth's warming, but the evidence is far from clean and many observations (such as (corrected) satellite data and weather balloons) show no warming. Most of the climate change predictions are based on computer models. Given our inability to forecast weather accurately at any interval, I doubt very much the computers can handle the much greater complexities of climate change. Certainly more research is warranted and we may yet find some links to human activity that need to be addressed.

    But "Global warming" as such as is a political program not science. WHen the New York Times famously said "Blame global warming for the blizzard" (notwithstanding the huge number of major weather events throughtout human history) it has to make you wonder. I honestly believe that if the temperature and precipitation came in right at normal every day, we'd be told that this was a catastrophe caused by global warming and "robbing the earth of its critical climate diversity needed to support its fragile ecology".

    There may be good reasons to cut emmissions of lots of chemicals, quite apart from global warming. But the use of hysteria and scaremongering to sell a political agenda is wrong IMO. Let's be honest about what we really want and debate these issues through the normal political process, not as another moral crusade. We've already got too many of those.
  • The fruit flies are an incomplete system. You can buy a sealed glass globe [well.com] containing water, brine shrimp, and everything else needed to keep it going apparently for months or years (if light is provided).

  • by Have Blue (616) on Tuesday July 10, 2001 @08:34AM (#94179) Homepage
    (Subtitle: and not a diatribe on global warming like the rest of the posts.)

    The reason no one cares about global warming is that it hasn't touched them directly yet. It's the inverse of the NIMBY factor: If it's not in my backyard it's irrelevant. Global warming has not yet provably hurt individual human beings; anyone they have direct contact with in their daily lives. It took a while for AIDS to catch the public eye, but once friends and celebrities started dying it became noticed, and now everyone uses condoms, or at least know it's a good idea. Wait until people start selling their coastal homes in droves, or until everyone around you has skin cancer, or until NYC becomes uninhabitable (well, more so).

  • Your bathtub experiment isn't appropriate. Only the ice at the north pole is currently floating in the ocean. At the south pole it sits on top of Antarctica - on top of land - up out of the ocean. To make your analogy appropriate, you'd have to have two big blocks of ice - put one directly in the water, floating. That's the north polar ice. Then put a stool or chair in the tub so its seat is up out of the water. Put the second block of ice on top of that. That's the south polar ice. Now wait for both to melt. The north pole ice won't make any difference in water level at all, but the south pole icewater will be added to the bathtub water and it wasn't displacing any bathtub water when it was on the stool.

    I'm rather neutral on this issue, since unlike conservative pundits I *recognize* that I am ignorant about climate science. I don't know if global warming is happening, because BOTH sides of this debate have political incentives to lie. I can't get a dispassionate opinion from anyone. But I *do* recognize BS when I see it, and you are generating a huge amount of it by convieniently not mentioning that the ice in antarctica isn't currently displacing any water right now so your experiment doesn't apply.

  • Yes, although we still haven't figured out quite what to do with the waste of nuclear power generation...
    Bullshit.

    It has been proposed to dissolve wastes in Pyrex glass, cast the glass into stainless-steel tubs, then case the result in concrete for shipping and bury it into geologically stable desert cave regions. The fatal objection to this plan is that if somehow it were subject to 1000-atmosphere pressures and 500-degree water containing phosphoric acid, it would dissolve the Pyrex and release the wastes.

    I'm sorry; I do not find this a credible objection. What I find in this objection is someone who wants to play God. And who doesn't mind lying in the attempt.

    FWIW.

  • by jafac (1449)
    I guess the real issue is; I'm shocked. Totally shocked, at the wide range of conclusions drawn from the SAME POOL OF EVIDENCE.

    My conclusion is that there is no hope for humanity, whether global warming is real or not. It's really a moot point whether we're changing the climate or not. If we can't *all* look at the same pool of scientifically gathered evidence, agree upon a rational conclusion, and take action to ensure our own survival - we, as a species are doomed.
    Whether it's global warming that eventually kills us, or a global plague, or some other threat. If people can't get together and agree on empirical evidence - we're just fucked.
  • Also, who is to say that global warming isn't going to save the human race from the next ice age?
    Who is to say that those pigs soaring through the air and those monkeys flying out of your butt don't use anti-gravity propulsion, but in fact rely upon the well known Bernoulli effect?

    Climate fluctuation over geologic time scales is much larger than the change we're seeing over the last 50-100 years; true. What you fail to mention is that change over geologic time scales vs. change over 50-100 years is a meaningless comparison -- as in apples to oranges.

    Extinction can be thought of as the effect from environmental change so radical and rapid that organisms previously well adapted in said environment become unable to reproduce and thus, instead of benefiting from selection pressure to evolve into the new environment, simply all die as a result. Vast numbers of species are going extinct the world over, which suggests radical environmental change at a very rapid pace. The change is permanent -- extinct creatures and the environment they create will never return. We are walking off a precipice without any safety ropes. From Rainforest clearcutting, Coral reef bleaching the world over (along with massive overfishing), and global climate change from industrial and energy production. I strongly doubt that we'll be able to survive without these basic habitats to maintain our food supply. JMO.

    --Maynard

  • This is real and serious. Not only has the UN and the vast majority of climate scientists agreed that Global warming and climate change is upon us, but even the Bush Administration has been forced to face these facts. Please read the US National Assessment [usgcrp.gov] of the potential consequences of human generated climate change. This is the report the Bush administration commissioned to assess the validity of the UN report on climate change which concluded ten years ago that it is happening and that it represents a serious threat to not only the survival of our civilization, but earth's very biodiversity is under threat by mass extinction.

    The business community would like us to put our heads in the sand and forget about all these pesky problems steamrolling our way. But the consequences of inaction could be devastating for life across the planet, and our species survival. To continue to trivialize the debate by turning the issue into one of belief instead of verifiable facts simply accepts the common US big media propaganda and spin. This is not a debate of the number of angels on the head of a pin, it's a scientific debate whereby the vast majority of academic scientists the world over have accepted a common view that global climate change is real and could be devastating to life on earth. Please also see: Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development [oecd.org] documents on the issue as well.

    --Maynard

  • by Watts Martin (3616) <layotl&gmail,com> on Tuesday July 10, 2001 @09:53AM (#94192) Homepage

    As the comments in this thread indicate, a lot of people don't believe. It may seem clear to you and I, not to mention virtually every scientist not employed by oil companies, that there's evidence that human activity affects the environment; it may further seem self-evident to you and I that if the evidence suggests it affects the environment negatively that we have sufficient grounds to modify our behavior without waiting for "proof" of the extent of damage, rate of decline, and computation of short-term economic consequences.

    But the greenwashing from companies that have vested interests in the status quo is pretty effective. "Hey," they say, "the earth has gone through climate change before without our contribution, so obviously that means we're not having an effect this time--it's just a natural cycle! So keep burning fossil fuels with impunity and ignore those idiotic regulation-loving liberals who talk about how much we'd conserve if we did horrible, freedom-oppressing things like raise fuel economy standards by 50%."

    See, if you believe the "chicken littles," you'll be inconvenienced. If you don't, you won't be. And, hey, who wants to be inconvenienced just on the theory, the unproven possibility, that our great-grandchildren might face mass extinction? We should at least wait for a few more decades to see if things are obviously getting worse. Sure, that means that trying to fix things then will cause orders of magnitude more hardship than they would now, if it isn't too late--but until then, check out my new Chevy Subdivision SUV!

  • by Watts Martin (3616) <layotl&gmail,com> on Tuesday July 10, 2001 @12:14PM (#94193) Homepage

    At risk of being pedantic, this is what is known as a "hard choice." Despite all the noise about spotted owls and New Age women who live in old growth trees, by and large we've consistently been choosing to protect that GDP than protect the environment.

    I don't disagree that we shouldn't take economic hardships lightly. I don't disagree that choosing to protect the environment won't have significant costs. In fact, I suspect if we put a serious effort into it, over the short term things could really suck.

    What I do disagree with is the contention that "let's wait and see" is a viable alternative. One of history's clearest lessons is that as expensive as proactive approaches may be, they are consistently far cheaper than reactive approaches.

    This is kind of like the "Year 2000 bug." Everyone in IT ran around frantically for two or three years fixing problems, and when the rollover finally came, the damage was virtually non-existent. And of course, everyone said, "Look, it wasn't any big deal after all." But if we hadn't proactively treated it like a big deal, it would have been. If we'd done nothing, and even a fraction of those systems that hadn't been fixed had failed, then what would the costs have been? Everything that was spent proactively, plus all the costs for cleanup. "Cleanup" would at the least involve billions, with a 'b,' in lawsuits, and might involve minor--or even major--disasters. (Some of the systems that were reported as having critical flaws were in hospitals, for instance, and in waste water treatment facilities.)

    There were great strides made toward reducing auto emissions, appliance energy use, and cleaning up power plant and factory pollution made in the '70s--and gosh, things in the '90s weren't nearly as bad as people in the '70s said it was going to be. This doesn't mean the people in the '70s were right--but it hardly proves they were wrong. And if they were even partially right, we've saved a whole damn lot of money in energy costs and air and water cleanup.

  • ...and a non-scientist is not whether they have theories or whether they understand what theories are. It is whether they test their theories against real-world data to determine the degree to which they predict that data. Everybody (scientists and non-scientists alike) has theories. Everybody tests them or accepts them without challenge. Those who rigorously test them in an open environment where others can review their work are scientists.

    Climatologists who believe in global warming have for years put forward theories which, to a greater or lesser degree, made predictions which (for the most part) have been borne out by the subsequent data. When they have proven wrong, they have modified their theories or become skeptics. Those who consider themselves "global-warming skeptics" have likewise put forward theories (global warming is not caused by humans, global warming is good, the homeostatic mechanics of weather will fix the problem). When they have proven wrong, they have changed their theories or become supporters of the global-warming hypothesis.

    To whatever extent any of those on either side have refused to accept evidence, they are not scientists. Right now, the tide of data is running against the skeptics. But that doesn't mean it always will. If they come up with theories which better predict the data, they will gain ascendency.

    The theory put forth in Fallen Angels is not a "competing" theory because it assumes that the global-warming theorists are right about the effect of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. The fact that this theory suggests that greenhouse gases are holding back an ecological catastrophe in no suggests that another ecological catastrophe would not be created by over-shooting the needed amount of warming. In fact, the theory in the book almost requires that the global warming theory be also possible.

    Fallen Angels is a fun book, but it has almost nothing to do with global warming. The real question it asks is whether a bunch of geeks at a sci-fi convention could actually put a spacecraft in orbit if they really wanted to. (I heard a rumor that an actual science-fiction convention raised money by holding an auction or raffle whose prize was a place in the book.)

    The use of the scientific theory in the book is to give them the motivation: The idea is that eco-extremists have instituted a totalitarian state to restrict greenhouse-gas emissions, triggering the ice age which those emissions were preventing. These enviro-Nazis are clamping down on technology, including the space program. (This explains why the government won't put up the spacecraft.) The last bastion of technology is the space station, which has fans among the clandestine groups who still meet at illegal, underground SF conventions. When two astronauts crash, the geeks have to get them back to space before the government finds them.

    All of which is fun, but not very believable. The theory is interesting, but of no particular relevance to the current debate over greenhouse gases. In the book, the banning of fossil fuels triggers an ice age, eliminating the need for the ban. But the government continues to suppress the one thing which could save the earth from the advancing sheets of ice.

    While this might be believable, the fact that the population continues to go along is not. (The exception is Milwaukee, where the city's government secretly burns fossil fuels.) People might be fooled into accepting a phoney ban on carbon dioxide when global warming was a real issue. But by the time it's snowing in July that argument is gonna fall real flat.

    This post says less about science or theories or greenhouse gases than about the will to believe demonstrated by its author. Robotech_Master obviously wants to believe that global warming is "just" a theory, so he is willing to ignore the fact that the theory he puts forward actually includes global warming. Indeed, one could argue that many of the posts to Katz's piece (on both sides) are more evidence of the will to believe than anything else.

  • I've noticed that, when somebody comes along with a counter-theory, the junk-science purveyors (again, on both sides of any issue) glom onto it. Even if the counter-theory was presented with a genuine interest in science (and not deliberate deception as appears to be the case here), those who've come to use it in their arguments do so without regard to whether it checks out or not.

    You can see the results here: surface temperatures versus atmospheric temperatures, ice ages held off, any number of items which (whatever their original validity) no longer hold water scientifically trotted forth by those who want to believe in what they want to believe more than they want to know what is really true.
  • Every EU country has passed the internal laws (or is passing them) required for Kyoto. Many are way ahead of us on this. The U.S. adopted a wait-and-hope-it-proves-wrong strategy in 1990 while the Europeans adopted a do-as-much-now-as-we-can-so-it'll-hurt-less-later strategy. Both were valid strategies. We now know which one was better.

    Why do the anti-Kyoto FUDsters think they can get away with saying the Europeans haven't ratified? Because it's technically true: Members of the EU are not allowed to ratify treaties. That's the EU's responsibility. The EU hasn't ratified because it hasn't yet decided what the procedure for ratification will be under the European Union. They are agreed on ratification of this treaty, but they aren't going to rush to create a bad ratification procedure just to ratify something they all know they're going to approve. They'd be stuck with that bad procedure.

    The Senate vote was 0-98 because those who support the treaty want the right to bring it up later, something which only those who voted against can do under the rules of the Senate. So, why do the opponents of Kyoto keep resurrecting this cannard? Because their goal is to deceive, not to inform.

    It is clear who is repeating lies, Shivetya, the only question is whether you are one of those deceivers or one of the deceived.
  • I was aware that the treaty had not been sent to the Senate for ratification. I was also aware that the reason it was not sent by the Clinton administration was that they knew it would not pass.

    That is a far cry from saying, as the FUDsters are, (and I do not put you in that category by any means) that there was no support for Kyoto in the Senate and no support in the EU. There is insufficient support in the Senate and overwhelming support in the EU, both among politicians and among the people (even in the business community).

    While I do not agree with you on the exemption of non-industrialized nations from the limits, I appreciate the fact that you acknowledge the arguments on the other side and address yourself to those arguments rather than spreading five-year-old disinformation.

    I'm sorry my carelessness caused you to doubt my statements about the EU. I will email you a transcript which may help restore my credibility. My main concern is that this discussion is dominated by oft-repeated FUD, which suggests that those who oppose the treaty don't have the kind of reasoned arguments you put forward. I hope my own mis-statements do not get repeated so often they similarly undermine my own position (which is less than full support for the treaty).
  • by freeBill (3843) on Tuesday July 10, 2001 @12:49PM (#94199) Homepage

    ...the sheer volume of nonsense and dishonesty being propagated by those who oppose the Kyoto Treaty. There are certainly questions about the scientific truth of global warming predictions. But they are not being accurately portrayed in the three posts above this one. Let's look at three posts (working downward in the current tree):

    general_re started with:

    ...there is far from any consensus that this warming is a result of human activity. --general_re

    Master Bait replied with:

    About the only people in the scientific community that don't believe in what you say are the very few who get research grants from big oil companies to make up research poopooing global warming. -- Master Bait

    And Golias weighed in with:

    That's fun to say, but the largest and most current study to date on the topic (a joint venture by the feds and the National Academy of Sciences done almost immediately after the final nail in the Kyoto Treaty coffin was hammered in), showed that there was, in fact, no consensus in the scientific community about this at all.

    I read a report from two members of NAS which raised several issues:

    1. There is no certainty about any of this. We are very bad at predicting weather, and still understand very little of it.
    ...
    4. Geological temeratures are in constant flux. From about 800 to 1300 AD there was successful agriculture in Greenland. The cold period of the centuries that followed forced the Vikings to abandon their settlements in North America, and shortened average human life spans in Europe by 10 years.
    ...
    6. The sun spot cycles seem to have a much bigger impact on global climate than we once suspected. When your main source of heat is a massive, chaotic, uncontrolled fusion reaction, change is something you need to learn to expect.
    7. Over the short term (less than a century or two), upper-atmosphere clouds have been discovered to be extremely efficient thermostats for the Earth. When the ammount of heat coming from the sun changes, the clouds get bigger or smaller to compensate, regulating the climate.

    Some people feel that the best way to counter all this carbon going into the air (mostly in the form of CO2) is to use some kind of machine to extract atmospheric carbon. Fortunately, such machines already exist. They are called trees. It appears that John Denver had the solution to global warming figured out before anybody ever heard of it. -- Golias

    Here we see FUD of the highest order: everything from outright lies to glib irrelevancies.

    Start with general_re's claim that "there is far from any consensus that this warming is the result of human activity." By any definition of "consensus" this is flatly false. There is a consensus (indeed, very close to unanimity) that global warming exists. There is a consensus (strong and widespread, verging on unanimous) that some portion of that warming is caused by humans. There is a consensus (strong and growing, but not unanimous) that the human-caused share is signficant and dangerous. There is even a consensus (much weaker, but still signficant) that most of the currently observed warming is caused by human activity. This last consensus derives primarily through negative data showing that other proposed causes are not contributing.

    While Master Bait's claim that only people who aren't part of this consensus get grants from big oil isn't strictly true, it is true that a disturbing number of the "skeptics" are financed by those with a financial interest in the results. Master's exaggerations are dwarfed by Golias' counter-exaggeration:

    "That's fun to say, but the largest and most current study to date on the topic (a joint venture by the feds and the National Academy of Sciences done almost immediately after the final nail in the Kyoto Treaty coffin was hammered in), showed that there was, in fact, no consensus in the scientific community about this at all."

    Which is also fun to say, I'm sure, but far more inaccurate than Master Bait's overstatement. Almost as fun as paraphrasing "members of the NAS" without citing references, credentials or names (or giving anyone a chance to see if they have since changed their minds -- as many skeptics have).

    Picking on four of Golias' itemized points, I would say: (1) wrong or irrelevant; (4) irrelevant; (6) irrelevant and wrong; and (7) totally irrelevant (as befits all good FUD). And then he ends with a true fact which argues against everything he seems to be saying. (All of this is not to imply endorse any of the other points.)

    (1) We're not very good at predicting the weather, but we're pretty good at predicting the climate. It's going to rain in the rain forest. It's going to snow in the mountains during winter. Weather is a chaotic system; climate is a thermodynamic system. Northern Europe might cool off while the rest of the world is heating up, but the average has been pretty accurately predicted (by those models Golias derides in item 2). And we're getting better. And the degree to which we aren't good at predicting climatic change is irrelevant if our best current knowledge says a disaster will come if we don't respond.

    (4) Geologic temperatures are in constant flux on a geologic time scale. And that flux has often meant bad things for the creatures of earth. The fact that historically recorded fluxes have shortened people's lifetimes is an argument against a concern for global warming only for those who don't care if their lives are shortened. The fact that geologically recorded fluxes have wiped out a vast majority of all the species which have ever evolved on the planet is an argument against a concern for global warming only for those who don't care if their species is wiped out.

    (6) Sun spot cycles have been long suspected as contributors to climatic change (since it was first realized that the earth could be viewed as a thermodynamic system and the numbers didn't add up). They have also been completely eliminated as the cause of the observed global warming of last 10 years (as recently confirmed by Pres. Bush's commission on which he made sure there were respected "skeptics"). To the degree that item 6 is not wrong, it is irrelevant: It would not matter to the dead people whether they were killed by sun spots or the combined neglect of two Bush administrations; they would still be dead.

    (7) Upper-atmosphere clouds (and, indeed, the entire chaotic system of weather and climate) have, in fact, been discovered to be extremely efficient thermostats by precisely the same kind of science which has discovered that greenhouse gases turn up that thermostat. The fact that upper-atmospheric clouds also regulate the temperature of Venus does not prevent it from being a hellish wasteland of greenhouse gas.

    And, finally, the fact that trees can be used to mitigate the accumulation of CO2 says nothing about whether that accumulation should be mitigated.

  • When the scientific community at large is as divided as they currently are about a topic that is as 'hot' (no pun intended) as this one is, we certainly owe it to ourselves to research all sides as best we are able.

    Otherwise, we are simply choosing and supporting a side as thought it were a religion.

    Passion is powerful, but rarely a direct indicator of truth, and any passion, once raised, becomes it's own motivator.

    We should ignore our passions until we have explored both sides. More often, however (and I'm guilty of this too), we choose the side that appeals to us (for whatever reasons reasonable or otherwise) and then seek out high-status opinions to support our chosen point of view.

    Always give the Devil his due. By exercising honesty and integrity, your final position will be much stronger and more flexible, imho.

  • I say flexible because, more often than not, when you research (however humbly) both sides of an issue, you usually can't help but see degrees of truth and delusion on both. This makes it less pleasing to hurl brimstone at those with whom you disagree, but makes you a far better human being/animal overall!

  • When not even the Nat'l Academy of Sciences or the head-in-the-sand Bush administration denies the reality of Global Warming, it would take a masterly writer to come up with...

    While the Bush administration may have acquiesced to pressure not to outrightly deny the 'reality of global warming', I wonder if you can point me to some sort of document in which they acknowledge that global warming does in fact exist ('global warming' as directly attributed to the pollutive aspects of modern industry, not simply the fact that the world today is warmer than it was a little while ago).

    Thanks in advance.

  • Sorry but are you expecting people to go out and "research" stuff and get results similar to that which professional scientists obtain?
    Agreed - more people should look the facts up BUT they should do so with an open mind, not as a reaction to the perceived status quo in the scientific community.
  • What's the worst that can happen if the environmentalists are wrong about Global Warming? People have to make sacrifices unnecessarily? Boo hoo.

    The worst thing that can happen is a global depression, including mass starvation. Here is the core of the issue: there is no way, I repeat no way, that we can significantly reduce human-produced greenhouse gas emmissions without a MASSIVE economic catastrophe.

    Even stabilizing US CO2 emmissions at 1990 levels by 2010 would require at least a $0.50 per gallon gas tax increase, as well as fuel cost increases of nearly 50% for electrical generation. Studies show that this kind of CO2 emmission reduction would cause US GDP to decrease by 1 to 2 percent annually, with nearly a million lost jobs. And this in a country that shouts "monopoly" when gas prices go up a few cents...

    But of course, stabilizing CO2 emmissions at 1990 levels is not enough. It would only slow down warming while simultaneously we destroy the world economy. And of course, most of these numbers are pulled "out of the air", and I think they probably underestimate the true tax levels required to reduce CO2 emmissions. I still can't explain SUVs.

    And that doesn't even include the economic damage required to reduce methane emmissions from Asia (more greenhouse potent than CO2). Perhaps China would just round up and shoot all the rice farmers. Actually, they have pretty good experience at politically inspired mass starvation already...

    So we're stuck in a situation where we either have disaster due to global warming or due to economic failure. The truth is that politics being what it is, most nations would not accept political solutions to CO2 and methane emmissions, with the possible exception of Western Europe :)

    So this leaves another alternative: innovate out of the problem. Don't destroy the economy now, hold out until we have a solution (such as a pure hydrogen/oxygen economy).

    We can look into sequestration to some extent as well. Globally, farms are becoming more productive, and farmland can be returned to dense biomass forest. Algae sequestration can be looked at as well.
  • this was the most controversial posting that I have ever had. 15 mods. Many were positive but apparently most were negative.

    Shows that moderation really doesn't work all the time, and good posts are sometimes buried b/c of it.

    Just my worthless .02
  • Dr. Fun [ibiblio.org] has a most appropriate cartoon for today. Except that it doesn't mention Katz by name...


    --
  • If any of the people surveyed could even give an accurate definition of the greenhouse effect, as opposed to "global warming caused by bad greenhouse gases."

    300 million sheep are not necessarily smarter than one person.

    Science lesson: the accurate definition of the greenhouse effect, which I thankfully learned in astronomy class, is as follows:

    greenhouse effect, n (1937): warming of the surface and lower atmosphere of a planet (as the earth or Venus) that is caused by conversion of solar radiation into heat in a process involving selective transmission of short wave solar radiation by the atmosphere, its absorption by the planet's surface, and reradiation as infrared which is absorbed and partly reradiated back to the surface by atmospheric gases."

    Mirriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, tenth edition


    In other words, any time any planet has an atmosphere, of any composition, that atmosphere will tend to be more transparent to sunlight than to infrared. So, light passes through the atmosphere, hits the planet's surface and warms it. The atmosphere then tends to hold in the heat which is reradiated from the planet's surface. This is a Good Thing: it helps keep the Earth at a habitable temperature.

    What's even scarier are the people who were TAUGHT the Al Gore version in their classes!

    Jon Acheson
  • Global warming is the biggest con job to come down the pike since - since I don't know when. It is a complete and total farce.

    Where we live, we just "enjoyed" one of the coldest, snowiest winters on record: in the top 10 in recorded history. But of course, the acolytes of global warming will (om-mane-padme-om) have an explanation, right?

    One little bit of info that the g.w. religionists like to point to is a receding glacier in Iceland. Problem is, they don't check their history records: the valley where the glacier is now was used for agriculture in the 1700s!

    "Global warming" is pure "B" as in "B", "S" as in "S". It is a pack of lies being dumped on us for the purpose of justifying more government regulation.

    Don't believe the hype.

  • It is precisely this commitment to global warming in the face of the facts that qualifies its ardent adherents as religious devotees (I'm not identifying you as one of them; your arguments, however, are like theirs.).

    First, I'll note that you didn't address the other issue I mentioned: allegedly man-generated "global warming" being at fault in the melting of an Icelandic glacier (in an area where farming was done just 3-4 centuries ago). This fact suggests that what we have here are cycles of global temperature variation, and that we are simply coming round for another period on the warm side.

    Secondly, I don't agree with this absurdist position of the global warming hacks at all: if global temperatures go up, I expect to find average temperatures in my region going UP, not down. This counter-intuitive "Well, global warming will cause really cold temperatures too" is nothing but utter nonsense: is the planet warming up or not?

    I have no problem with the idea that "global warming" - if it were actually occurring - would generate more violent storms, droughts, hurricanes, etc. It is simply a fool's errand to attempt to explain colder than average temperatures (over an entire season, in an entire region, mind you) as the product of generally "increasing" temperatures.

    And this doesn't even begin to address issues of causality, nor the problems associated with the fact that the data collection for this alleged "warming" occurs around cities (which are always warmer anyway).

  • It is recognized by most of the scientific community that humans are accelerating the trend of global warming.

    I'm sorry, but that's simply not true. While many scientists believe that the earth is gradually warming - and many have questions about even that - there is far from any consensus that this warming is a result of human activity.

    While I agree that it is important to continue studying this issue, I also think it is important to let the evedence accumulate before we all go off half-cocked, and start imposing "solutions" that have very real costs without first knowing what the benefits will be, or even if there will be benefits.
  • About the only people in the scientific community that don't believe in what you say are the very few who get research grants from big oil companies to make up research poopooing global warming.

    Ahh, yes. That would be why over 15,000 scientists signed this petition [oism.org] supporting the conclusions of this paper [oism.org] detailing how greenhouse gases have had little or no measurable effect on the global climate. That consensus. Stooges of the oil and gas industry, every one of 'em.

    Of course, if they are puppets of big oil, their fraudulent or misleading or incorrect research and conclusions ought to be relatively easy for you to expose, rather than making essentially ad hominem attacks.
  • Global climate change is a phenominally complex system that is not possible to describe in simple "cause-effect" arguments

    You're kidding, right? Look, either human activity (the cause) is changing the global climate (the effect), or it isn't. Since 20 years worth of satellite-based temperature measurements - which are far more accurate than surface-based measurements - show NO temperature change at all, there may very well be no effect. In which case, why go looking for causes? Or maybe you've finally blown away that whole causality thing by finding effects without causes.
  • From the link you cited:

    I couldn't find the names of anyone I knew.

    You'll forgive me, but not knowing who folks like Richard Lindzen and Pat Michaels are doesn't exactly inspire my confidence in his knowledge of the field.
  • Why, that's right. Now you're getting it. You don't really have to respond to the issues presented, or form some rational critique. You just have to make snide comments about the intelligence and motivations of the folks you disagree with, and everyone will understand you perfectly. And to do it all anonymously, too - what a bonus. Kudos! You are hereby promoted to Eco-Nut, First Class! Wear your badge with pride, little tree warrior, and when you feel you have some substantive criticism of the article, the adults will be more than happy to listen.
  • Pardon me for the long quote, but I really must respond:
    Start with general_re's claim that "there is far from any consensus that this warming is the result of human activity." By any definition of "consensus" this is flatly false. There is a consensus (indeed, very close to unanimity) that global warming exists. There is a consensus (strong and widespread, verging on unanimous) that some portion of that warming is caused by humans. There is a consensus (strong and growing, but not unanimous) that the human-caused share is signficant and dangerous. There is even a consensus (much weaker, but still signficant) that most of the currently observed warming is caused by human activity. This last consensus derives primarily through negative data showing that other proposed causes are not contributing
    That sir, is quite simply, the largest load of shit it has ever been my misfortune to be exposed to. Crack-smoking moderators notwithstanding.

    I stand by my original statement. Your assertion - and it is no more than your assertion - that it is false does not make it so. It is simply flat-out bullshit to imply that it is widely accepted that human activity is the cause. You made the claim, though - back it up. Show me the evidence suggesting that there is some widespread consensus that I'm not aware of. I'll wait.
    While Master Bait's claim that only people who aren't part of this consensus get grants from big oil isn't strictly true, it is true that a disturbing number of the "skeptics" are financed by those with a financial interest in the results.
    See? Wasn't that fun? You didn't even have to make any sort of rational refutation or logical argument. You just have to impugn the motives of those with whom you disagree, and everything's settled to your satisfaction. How convenient. Oh no, you don't actually come out and SAY that's what you're doing - you're far too clever for that - but what you did accomplishes the same thing. Goody for you - science AND public policy without any of that bullshit like logic, proof, investigation, refutation, whatever. You give ad hominem a bad name.
    And the degree to which we aren't good at predicting climatic change is irrelevant if our best current knowledge says a disaster will come if we don't respond.
    Wait, wait. So we don't know if we're good or bad at predicting climate change. Predictions of global warming could be right on the money, or they could be wildly inaccurate. Oh, by all means, let's start flushing money away based on THAT. Here's something - all the eco-friendly measures in the world really are irrelevant if there's no disaster coming.
    Geologic temperatures are in constant flux on a geologic time scale. And that flux has often meant bad things for the creatures of earth. The fact that historically recorded fluxes have shortened people's lifetimes is an argument against a concern for global warming only for those who don't care if their lives are shortened. The fact that geologically recorded fluxes have wiped out a vast majority of all the species which have ever evolved on the planet is an argument against a concern for global warming only for those who don't care if their species is wiped out.
    Sure, you say, the planet warmed up and cooled off in the past...but, but, that was BAD. And people who don't care are like, fucked up, or suicidal, or something. It must be truly gratifying to have such superior insight over the rest of us peons who have to make do with not caring nearly so very much as an insightful, sensitive person like yourself, and therefore have to get by on reason and logic and evidence.

    But I must have missed the archaeological evidence showing that paleolithic heavy industry led directly to the end of the last Ice Age. What? Don't tell me that humans aren't necessary for massive climate change. And surely you're not going to suggest that for most of the planet's history, the climate has varied wildly without any human influence. But this time it's REALLY DIFFERENT, right? We're here, and human activity is like, bad, and icky, and dirty. Oh yes, it must be us - this time, for sure.

    Homework assignment: what percentage of greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere by humans, and what percentage by natural sources? You might be surprised.

    So let's go back to the beginning:
    There are certainly questions about the scientific truth of global warming predictions.
    Oh really? Like what? What exactly is still in doubt in your mind. Please, please reveal it to us, so that a poor peasant such as myself might know what, exactly, is still open to questions, and what good sir freeBill has decreed is off limits for discussion by virtue of its inherent "nonsense and dishonesty".

    All in all, no doubt: +5 for blindly reinforcing the conventional wisdom.
  • But even the quote you posted hedges:

    Although uncertainty exists about exactly how earth's climate responds to these gases, global temperatures are rising.

    My point was never to suggest that no scientist believes the earth is warming. A few do not, but it is clear that the majority do. But it is disingenuous to suggest that there is some overwhelming consensus that human activity is to blame. When some of the contributors to the IPCC report make credible allegations that their positions have been misrepresented by the editors of the IPCC report in order to further a political agenda, that suggests to me that dissent exists. When well-known, reputable climate scientists like Richard Lindzen of MIT and Pat Michaels of the University of Virginia question some of the fundamental assumptions of global warming, that suggests to me that dissent exists.

    No one's interests are furthered by claiming that the science is settled. You suggest - thank you for your polite reasoning, by the way - that we should act even if we aren't sure, because waiting might prove disastrous. You could, of course, be right; however, I must point out that if the fundamental assumption that humans are causing global warming is false, the notion that we can slow its advance is very much suspect - the volcanoes of the world will continue to belch out sulfur and CO2 no matter what we do. In which case, we have undertaken a very expensive course of action, for absolutely no gain at all.
  • Can you explain why, if it's not our fault, we shouldn't do anything about it?

    Because, naif, if we didn't really cause it, what makes you think we can do anything about it?

    You sure looks like the kind of self-centered guy who'll let drown the next guy because, eh, it's not your fault, you didn't do anything wrong..

    Ahh, yes. You've sussed me out - I just do this because I'm self-centered. All that asking for evidence, looking for proof, suggesting that maybe it's not as clear as some would have you believe. Sheer intellectual laziness on my part. Sheesh.

    Well, i invite you to go sit in a corner and look at the people who actually *try* to do something

    'twould be nice if their "doing something" wasn't so very expensive to everyone else.

    and it would be nice if you'd just stop bitchin' ..

    I will, as soon as my objections are addressed and my questions answered. Although you've made your tolerance of dissent clear, until then, basically, tough shit.
  • > unless there is some huge problem with electric cars I am missing.

    Like the fact that transmission of electricity isn't terribly efficient? That electricity doesn't come from the magic electric fairies, and that you still have to burn stuff? That no one wants any of the new hundreds of power plants this would require sitting in their backyard?

    Well there's always nuclear. Except for that little waste problem (not like the crap they scrape out of coal plants is exactly health food though)
    --
  • The sea levels are NOT RISING 1 meter every 10 years. That would be very obvious to those of us who live in coastal areas.

    There are many reasons we should not act on the current knowledge about cliamte. The one that you may be most interested in is that wealthy people care about the environment, and poor people do not. The more wealthy people, the more pressure on government and industry to be clean. Poor nations can't afford the efficient systems that we use to:
    heat our homes (would you rather that they burn wood, making more CO2 and air pollution?),

    aquire our food (modern farming rather than slash and burn the amazon to grow their crops for a few years?),

    make scientific developments (viagra rather than grind up tiger penises as aphrodisiacs),

    be peaceful (build complex industries and trade rather than have to constantly war over resources that they will squander on the next war),

    and finally, to communicate in such a manner necessary to create special interest groups powerful enough to make them care about the earth.



    Surfing the net and other cliches...
  • Maximum Viable bias = 1 / (1-(% of peers with similar bias))



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  • The harm that would be done by choking the world economies will do worse for the environment and the environmental movement than waiting until we understand the problem. Joe Sixpack isn't going to sign on to kyoto 2 when kyoto 1 caused him and his friends their jobs. Kyoto is widely recognized as being too little to solve the problem that is proported to exist, but is presented as a symbolic first step. I am not prepared to pay a penny for symbolism, no matter how much anyone whines.

    It is absurd that people take so lightly the idea of shaving off a couple of percent of GDP; are so quick to sacrifice the livlihood of their fellow man.



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  • caused/cost



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  • ' I myself find it absurd, that people will rather take even the most remote possibility that their "fellow men" will drown, die of hunger and lose their whole countries (the Netherlands) than shave a couple of percent of their precious GDP!'

    Then stop breathing.


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  • Radius of the pie = scaryness * gullibility of the public.

    That so much is spent on climate change research is a result of the scare. When was the last time you sent out a memo showing how wasteful your job is?



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  • Y2K is not a good comparison. The cause problem was well understood. It was possible to test systems to determine if they were effected.

    The climate is not well understood. The variability of the sun is not well understood. Positive and negative feedback mechanisms are not well understood.

    What is well understood is that computer models that are predicting the changes are woefully inadaquate. Global warming by CO2 has been an idea in circulation for something like 110 years.

    Good observations of climate features have only been collected recently. For most of the earth, good observations have only started since we started launching satellites.



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  • I'm glad you think it's ironic for you to take the skeptic's position. Most lay people do not feel that the burden of proving HEG falls on its proponents, rather that the burden of disproving it falls on the skeptics, leading to the akward situation of trying to prove a negative.

    As for extrodinary claims, Lindzen put it best:
    "In some ways, we are driven to a philosophical consideration: namely, do we think that a long-lived natural system, like the earth, acts to amplify any perturbations, or is it more likely that it will act to counteract such perturbations? It appears that we are currently committed to the former rather vindictive view of nature." Richard Lindzen, in testimony to Congress, July 1997

    Critisism of treatment of clouds...
    http://science.nasa.gov/newhome/headlines/essd5f eb 97_1.htm

    From the horses mouth:
    http://www.ipcc.ch/pub/spm22-01.pdf (toward the end. Page 18 or 28?)

    Gov't Agency.
    http://www.arm.gov/docs/documents/project/er_044 2/ 2_objective.html

    Good model anecdote:
    http://users.erols.com/dhoyt1/annex8.htm



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  • I suggest you look into taking an economics class at your local community college.



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  • I don't imagine that the Brotherhood of Climate Modelers meets in the basement of the UN HQ and hatches secret plans to scare the public.

    Smart people are just as biased as everyone else. People are always biased toward their interests.



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  • Lots of people who take global warming as it is presented by the media do ask to prove a negative.

    There is a ton of evidence for climate change, but who would expect that a system as complex as the earth to be static?

    If it would take 10000 years to cool down, why should we expect it to only take 30 years to heat up? After all, direct CO2 warming is suppossed to be rather small, and positive feedback mechanisms are suppossed to amplify it. So positive feedbacks are fast and negative feedbacks are slow?

    From the Atmospheric Radiation Measurement Program's website:
    In order to understand energy's role in anthropogenic global climate change, significant reliance is being placed on General Circulation Models (GCMs). A major goal of the Department is to foster the development of GCMs capable of predicting the timing and magnitude of greenhouse gas-induced global warming and the regional effects of such warming. DOE research has revealed that cloud radiative feedback is the single most important effect determining the magnitude of possible climate responses to human activity. However, cloud radiative forcing and feedbacks are not understood at the levels needed for reliable climate prediction.

    When they figure out the clouds, and ocean mixing, the sun, and the many other factors glossed over in the current models, then I'll trust the models. The right thing to do now is to study, not create meaningless treaties.


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  • Farm subsidies are stupid. Paying people to not use land is stupid. Price controls are stupid. These factors may well be partly responsible for the state of modern farming, but technology would have advanced without them. In the absence of the subsidies, organic farming would be even less viable.

    Romantic notions about outdated methods are great for hobbies, and the methods should be remembered for many reasons, but modern methods are cleaner, more efficient, and safer.

    Incidentally, they may tell you "that we have boosted the economy somehow by increasing agricultural output by poisoning the ground, then having tax subsidies go to those same companies that have eliminated normal farming (for increased production!) for them to not sell the output because they produce too much?" and they'd be partly right. After all, agriculture has become a much smaller portion of our economy, yet still manages to feed us. This frees up many people and resources to pursue other things, indeed, it requires them to.



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  • He did present an analogy. He says so himself http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=01/07/09/16222 12&cid=512

    You can't model cloud cover until you know what causes coulds.



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  • I think it is important to note that all the greenhouse doomsday scenerios rely upon positive feedbacks. There are also negative feedbacks. Without understanding both the positive and negative feedbacks, we really can't say that we understand climate enough to model it. Take them away and you have an underwhelming half degree warming from doubled CO2. You will always have models biased toward weighting the effects we understand and minimizing the effects we don't understand.

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  • Buy all the organic food you want.

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  • There are models that predict everything. I can make a model that predicts whatever I want it to.

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  • You really should step back and think about this whole issue. You're really starting to look like an idiot.



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  • I must say I agree that global warming is not going to kill millions of people.

    The rest of your post was as your sig indicated, rather useless.

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  • Organic farming takes more land to produce the same amount of food.

    Are you going to be in charge of killing people so that the population matches our food production, or are you just going to let them starve? Or are we going to turn the 1/3 of land area used for agriculture and bump it up to 2/3 of land area? Are you going to shoot the farmers in brazil who burn down the jungle so that they can grow their own food because they can't afford your boutique organic food?

    Any long term plan that doesn't take into account that there will be 9 billion people in the world in 2040 is quite idiotic.

    Anyway, you want an economic arguement?
    You started this thread by asserting:
    If we stopped dumping chemicals into our farmland and went back to organic farming (which requires more manual labor ) there would be a lot more low-wage jobs available (hint: those are the jobs that are disappearing in the search for a higher GDP)...

    Is that what we need? More backbreaking manual labor? More low wage jobs? Are these low wage jobs going to be able to feed a family after food prices increase?

    You then said:
    Or will they tell me that we have boosted the economy somehow by increasing agricultural output by poisoning the ground, then having tax subsidies go to those same companies that have eliminated normal farming (for increased production!) for them to not sell the output because they produce too much?

    Our country


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  • Stupid keyboard.

    ANyhow, Our country does not have the guts to let farms fail as they should. More efficient farming has allowed for other industries to grow and become dominant in our economy. If those subsidies were so damaging, why does our economy continue to grow?

    Next:
    Organic farming is the single most profitable agricultural field today. It does not rely at all on subsidies (most subsidies are given to the argicultural megacorps -- independent farmers can't keep up with the govt hoops to jump through and paperwork). Of course, its so profitable because it is the "alternative", so they charge a premium -- if everyone used normal methods it would likely be no more or less profitable than modern/chemical farming.

    Two words: conspicuous consumption.

    Next:
    On the general safety of Organic vs. high yeild farming: Prove it.

    On the specific point about agent orange, please do tell us what the rate of cancer and other diseases amongst Viet-nam vets is, and what the rate amoungst the general population is. Make sure to check up on the vets who, as an initiation ritual into the unit that sprayed the defoliants, DRANK AGENT ORANGE BY THE CUP. They should all be dead, right?

    Finally, as to whether you're in danger even if you eat only organic food and bottled water and travel everywhere on your bike... (I hope you didn't *FLY* to Equador- you know how much CO2 and air pollution that produces! You must have taken a bus since they are safer. Must have been some trip.) To this I say: You're living on borrowed time, bub. In ancient times, you'd have been lucky to see 21, and today we don't consider a person an adult until the turn 21. Technology has enabled you live long enough to become scared of the tiniest theoretical risks. If you don't want to participate, don't.



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  • The models proported to support HEG are demonstrably wrong, yet they get past peer review.



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  • by seeken (10107) on Tuesday July 10, 2001 @08:24AM (#94261) Journal
    Bad analogy.

    The human enhanced greenhouse theories rely on positive feedback effects to produce any substantial warming. There are also negative feedback effects that lessen the warming. Most of the effects, both positive and negative are not well understood. When people plug these effects into computer models, they have to make a guesses about these effects. Guesses * desire for more funding = bias. You get what you pay for.

    If you drop your piece of paper off a building, you can't tell if one of the flutters it takes won't drop it onto a ledge or into a truck, unless you know a whole lot about the conditions of the air which could interact with the paper. Assuming there are no ledges and trucks is disingenuous.

    Littering is wrong.

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  • ... I know.

    --

  • I don't know you don't believe...

    --

  • Ironically, Americans aren't worried about the technological issues that are seriously changing their lives, and will increase in impact in the future, but are all in a tizzy about global warming, which is bullshit.

    But what do you expect, when most of us are products of the government schools?

    -
  • I can't quite figure out what you're trying to imply here. That all the technology that we create is somehow going to destroy us all?

    Clearly, you are correct; you can't figure it out.

    I'll requote myself:

    Ironically, Americans aren't worried about the technological issues that are seriously changing their lives, and will increase in impact in the future.

    You don't think genetic research and artificial intelligence will change our lives? Do you think computers haven't? How about the germ theory of disease transmission? Didn't that change our lives?

    I don't think advances in genetic research and artificial intelligence can help but change our lives, drastically. Each has the potential to eliminate poverty, or eliminate mankind, if the right mistakes are made.

    Do you honestly think that suggesting people ought to be more concerned with discussing these issues, instead of worrying that their SUV is going to destroy the world, somehow makes me a Luddite? Get real.

    Experimentation and improvement is the foundation of the human nature. Clubs worked much better than fists to kill things. If it weren't for that kind of innovation the carrying capacity of earth would be MUCH smaller than it is now, by several orders of magnitude.

    I 100% agree. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't be talking about the moral implications of how to implement these technologies.

    Genetic research is potentially at least an order of magnitude more destructive than nuclear weapons, and surely you're not opposed to public discussion on the ramifications of that technology?

    It sounds like you might be mistaking me for a Fundamentalist Republican, which is pretty damn funny since I'm an atheist Libertarian.

    -
  • No evidence, huh? Hogwash.

    A recent letter [sciencemag.org] in Science provides 13 citations for reports of such exciting phenomena as reduction in alpine glaciers, increase in permafrost thawing, later freeze-ups & earlier thaws of lakes, etc. etc. etc. occuring over the past 60 years.

    These 13 citations are A VERY SMALL FRACTION of the total evidence supporting a warming trend over the recent past. A quick search through the web of science [webofscience.com] over just the past 2 years turns up 595 articles. Do they all provide evidence of a warming trend? No. Do many of them? Yes.

    Heck, even a quick search on CNN turns up evidence [cnn.com] of ocean warming caused by humans.

    A more complete review of the evidence is presented here [www.ipcc.ch].

    There is very little doubt that the earth is getting warmer. The debates over the past few years settle on "is it caused by humans" and "how much will it affect climate". The evidence seems pretty clear that humans are responsible for a good portion of the warming. The overall affect of this warming, however, is still very much in doubt. THAT'S where the main scientific debate is.

    And, on a slightly unrelated rant . . .

    Comments like this really piss me off. It's clear you haven't done any poking through the scientific literature about global warming, and your "as i understand it" comes from mouthpieces of our good friends in the oil industry, rush limbaugh, and others.

    Plus, EVERYTHING in science is a theory. It's an explanation of how the world works, based on experimental data. A good theory explains the current data and makes predictions about the results of future experiments (ie, warming the earth will cause an increase in the rate of polar ice cap melting). Theories are NEVER PROVEN - there's always the chance that some experiment in the future will provide data that can't be explained by the current theory - which leads to its modification or, in very rare and exciting cases, a completely new theoriy. This is why we have a "theory of gravity" or "theory of evolution" - they can't be proven, but they explain very nicely all the data we've picked up to this point.

    Sheesh.

  • What I don't understand is why we don't have electric cars yet. No emissions, no high gas prices. Is it because of the influence of oil companies? lack of electricity (ex. rolling blackouts)? I just don't get it. Environmentally it makes so much sense- unless there is some huge problem with electric cars I am missing.

    There are many huge problems but the ones causing the most problem are range and slow fill ups.

    I can get in my car and drive 400 miles on a fillup, stop in a station and do another 400 miles after a 5 minute operation. Once an electric car can do that they MAY be more feasable.
  • Though IANAS (I Am Not a Scientist), as I understand it there is very little actual solid evidence about global warming one way or the other. It's just a theory, and as such has yet to be conclusively proven.

    A competing theory, put forward fictionally in the book Fallen Angels [baen.com] by Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, and Michael Flynn (available free in its entirety through the Baen Free Library [baen.com]), is that the earth is actually entering a cooler period (a Maunder Minimum), and if it weren't for the "greenhouse gas" in the atmosphere, we'd be experiencing another ice age.

    The book is fiction, but the scientific theory it cites is real. (And it has RMS in it.)

    --

  • Invogue? From an American perspective maybe, but the rest of the world has been aware of this, and looking to act for at least the last 10 years. Even if it's a small act like walking to the shops or using Public Transport instead of using their car.

    How about taking a look for yourself on the web for some of the information that is out there. I just hacked in 'Global Warming' into Google [google.com] and had a nice selection of sites from a variety of perspectives, including this, from the "Union of Concerned Scientists" [ucsusa.org].

    It's a fact. Wake up America.

  • by rleyton (14248) on Tuesday July 10, 2001 @07:52AM (#94282) Homepage
    Besides, I like hot weather.

    Tell that to someone living in a low level country such as Bangladesh or the Netherlands, as the sea levels rise up and destroy their countries.

  • by lordsutch (14777) <chris@lordsutch.com> on Tuesday July 10, 2001 @11:13AM (#94283) Homepage
    I believe George Carlin said it best: the planet's doing fine, it's the people who are going to kill themselves off.
  • Something will be done about it "soon" (that is geologically soon, say in the next couple millenia). The earth is an ecosystem, after a while, the earth will balance out, and buck off our species. Sure a few million of us will survive, but most will die.
    Don't worry about mankind destroying this planet, we can't do it, due to our ego's we think we can, but in real life, we can't. After a while, the problems that we are causing will balance out.
  • Following this logic, everybody should convert to my religion

    Then you didn't follow his logic.

    Given two choices, if one has disastrous effects and the other has negligible effects, and either one is equally likely, choose to avoid the disastrous effects.

    Choosing the wrong religion (at least western ones) would have disastrous effects regardless, because it measn an etenity of suffering. Therefore all choices are equally defensible and logical.

    ---------------------------------------------
  • It is absurd that people take so lightly the idea of shaving off a couple of percent of GDP;


    Compared to extinction? Yeah, I'd say the choice between extinction and a slightly higher GDP is pretty easy.

    are so quick to sacrifice the livlihood of their fellow man.

    When did using ecologically friendly equipment reduce the workforce? If we stopped dumping chemicals into our farmland and went back to organic farming (which requires more manual labor ) there would be a lot more low-wage jobs available (hint: those are the jobs that are disappearing in the search for a higher GDP)...

    ---------------------------------------------
  • I suggest you look into taking an economics class at your local community college.

    And there they will teach me that extinction IS an economically viable outcome?

    Or will they tell me that we have boosted the economy somehow by increasing agricultural output by poisoning the ground, then having tax subsidies go to those same companies that have eliminated normal farming (for increased production!) for them to not sell the output because they produce too much?

    You're right, it's just too brilliant for me to comprehend.

    The notion that the risk of us slowly choking ourselves to death is simply an opportunity cost eludes me...

    ---------------------------------------------
  • In the absence of the subsidies, organic farming would be even less viable.

    Organic farming is the single most profitable agricultural field today. It does not rely at all on subsidies (most subsidies are given to the argicultural megacorps -- independent farmers can't keep up with the govt hoops to jump through and paperwork). Of course, its so profitable because it is the "alternative", so they charge a premium -- if everyone used normal methods it would likely be no more or less profitable than modern/chemical farming.

    but modern methods are cleaner, more efficient, and safer.

    No, modern methods are the exact opposite of those things (they may or may not be more efficient depending how you define the term, from an economic standpoint they are more efficient in the short-term by boosting production, but in the long term we're seeing relatively disastrous effects equivelent to the dust-bowls of the midwest in the early part of the 20th century, when over-farming reduced huge swaths of land to desert -- but as long as the topsoil doesn't blow away in the next financial quarter I guess it's considered "better".)

    They are certainly not cleaner or safer by even the most abysmally permissive definitions -- unless you consider pouring Agent Orange into crops to be a safe and nutritious way to combat pests. Luckily, most places ran out of agent orange a decade or so after it was banned so you probably arent' getting much anymore (of course it's still in the ground water). Now they have much more powerful chemicals, and have to use more, because the only pests now are immune due to the liberal use of toxins. Rinse, later, repeat -- evolution in action.

    Unfortunately we don't reproduce as quickly as the insects, so I'm not sure how long it will take US to become immune to the stuff...

    ---------------------------------------------
  • Buy all the organic food you want

    Maybe you didn't understand -- you can eat organic food every day of your life and you'll still be poisoned by soil and water.

    Will the company have to chip in to help pay for the chemotherapy for all the people who get cancer from them? Do they get to take that as a tax deduction? Or will you and I just have to eat the whole healthcare cost through paying taxes to medicaid?

    Or does that not get covered in economics 101?...

    ---------------------------------------------
  • The whole issue of what? the total economic and healthcare ramifications of what we do? Is there a bigger "whole issue" I'm missing?

    When we die and the 2001 GNP has been spent, but we're still cleaning up the mess (at a measurable economic cost) what then? We've seen with medicare how easily a deferred economic cost can snowball. Later generations will have to make even greater profit just to tread water (forgive the pun) while paying to treat the problems we create today.

    Even a dog knows not to shit where it eats.

    I have yet to see a single long-term economic justification for contaminating limited (but vital) resources. You can claim all sorts of economic justifications for it in the short-term, but where is the idiocy in asking "what do we do then?"

    I supose if long-term planning makes one an idiot, then I wouldn't mind being part of that club. I have yet to hear you offer one actual justification or economic explanation other than "take eco 101".

    ---------------------------------------------
  • Right, I can see that most people here don't believe, given that the only serious posts that are above +2 are anti-global warming.

    We have four scenarios, as follows:

    1) Global warming is false, and we do nothing
    2) Global warming is false, and we take action
    3) Global warming is true, and we do nothing
    4) Global warming is true, and we take action

    1), 2) and 4) are fine - either there's nothing to worry about, or in 4), we at least try to avert disaster.

    In 3), we're fscked - the seas rise, climate changes, etc.

    Assuming that all 4 are equally likely(*), that effectively gives us a 75% chance of being fine. Of course, that means that we have a 25% chance of dooming ourselves. Personally, I wouldn't play Russian Roulette with a 6 chamber gun, let alone a four chamber one.

    What's the worst that can happen if the environmentalists are wrong about Global Warming? People have to make sacrifices unnecessarily? Boo hoo.

    What's the worst that can happen if they're right, though? I can't imagine that anyone is going to die through recycling too much of their rubbish, or leaving the car at home and walking too often.

    It seems to me that until we have conclusive proof that Global Warming is rubbish, we really ought to play it safe.

    (* Yes, I know that's not the way it works, but I'm simplifying things. Given that we have no consensus on the matter, it's not such a terrible simplification to make.)

    Cheers,

    Tim
  • by bee (15753) on Tuesday July 10, 2001 @11:51AM (#94293) Homepage Journal
    Normally I actually like Jon Katz's stuff. But reading the statistics he quoted just raised a red flag to me:


    In 1997, 67 percent of Americans surveyed believed that ...

    By last year, the figure had risen to 72 per cent ...

    In fact, only 13 percent of Americans said global warming wasn't a serious problem, a record low.

    ... a March 2001 Time/CNN poll found that two-thirds of Americans think the President should develop a plan to reduce the gas emissions that may contribute to global warming.


    Now this will sound like a digression, so bear with me for a minute. There is an old story about the nose of the emperor of China. This man wanted to know how long the emperor's nose was. The problem was, that no one in China had ever seen the emperor. So he went around to many thousands of people, asking each of them how long they thought the emperor's nose was. He accumulated a large amount of data, and was able to use the latest in statistical techniques to come up with a very good number, with confidence intervals and the whole nine yards.

    However, no matter how good the statistical analysis is, no one had ANY hard information at all, so all the statistical analysis means NOTHING. And this is what Jon Katz's numbers are. Asking what people think about global warming doesn't tell us anything about global warming at all.

    ---

  • Wait until people start selling their coastal homes in droves, or until everyone around you has skin cancer, or until NYC becomes uninhabitable

    Well, yes, that's exactly what i was planning on doing.

    --

  • by warpeightbot (19472) on Tuesday July 10, 2001 @11:45AM (#94300) Homepage
    IANAS either, but I know (and used to work for) a few good ones at Georgia Tech. One was an instrumentation geek; he was the guy who built the instruments and thus was privy to the raw data. While he concedes that it's generally considered rude to foul our own nest, the fact remains that (despite the executive summary of a certain study, which is a political diatribe having nothing to do with the actual contents of the study (the conclusion of which states "we need more study")) we're still getting a handle on this whole climate thing, and to say global warming is real is to commit the same error that the newspapers did concerning President Dewey.

    Global Warming is FUD.

    It is FUD perpetrated on us for the purpose of increasing the power of the Imperial Federal Government and the United Nations over the Evil American Capitalistas.

    Now, before you hit the "flame" button, think about this: I believe in saving the earth just as much as Greenpeace does. However, I believe in doing so sanely. I don't believe in shutting down the American industrial complex; I believe in transforming it so that it works with nature, rather than against it. Organic farming. Biodiesel. Composting. Recycling. Well-thought-out mass transit. Telecommuting. Reducing government and spreading what's left throughout the land, rather than concentrating it in smoggy cities, and linking them all with the Internet. Good Honest Hemp for paper and clothes and plastic and pig food. Wind farms. Houses made of rammed earth or straw bales or dug into the side of a hill. Yadda, yadda, yadda.

    The current crisis in California is the tip of the iceberg of what will happen if the eco-radicals get their way. California hasn't built a power plant of any kind in ten years. It Wasn't Allowed. And now, basically, they're screwed. And so are we, if we don't perform a crano-rectal reinversion and figure out that what's going on is that a very small, vocal bunch is trying to shut down America.

    Let me repeat myself here in case somebody doesn't get it. I believe in saving the planet too, for all the animals. Including the big semi-furless funny-looking mammals that have a real serious tool codependence. I believe that, instead of looking for things we should not do to the planet, we should look for things we can do to save both the whales and our civilization. I think we can be both high-tech and high-touch, green and gold, work with nature rather than either against it or abandoning it. When I see things like Mt. St. Helens and Yellowstone, I am reminded that the Earth has done far more terrible things to itself than we do, and recovers beautifully... and while I still feel physically ill every time I head down towards Mt. Ranier and see what Weyrhauser has done to our forests (Good, Honest HEMP!) I think the time and effort we spend beating down the timber companies would be far better spent promoting alternate solutions rather than simply trying to shut them down....

    If you tell a man "stop what you're doing, you're naughty-bad-evil-wicked" he's as liable to flip you the bird as anything. If you tell him "hey, there's a much easier, better way to do that" and even give him a business case including his conversion costs.... he might just take you up on it.

    This is what we need to be about. Global warming, global schmarming. Just find ways to sustainably do things cleaner and better, and let the Earth worry about the rest. It'll do just fine, and has for years. <carl_sagan> Billions and billions of them. </carl_sagan>

    P.S. Fallen Angels [baen.com] kicked ass.

  • by abelsson (21706) on Tuesday July 10, 2001 @08:21AM (#94305) Homepage
    That's right, you're obviously not a scientist.

    Theories dont get proven, only disproven. (newton's gravity is an unproven theory. As is elecromagnetism). An unsubstansiated idea is called a "hypothesis" in science lingo, once sufficient tests have been made that doesnt disprove the idea the hypotheis is elevated to a theory. A theory is acctually the most "certain" form of a scientific knowledge, usually backed up with a lot of observations that agree with the theory and none that contradict it.

    Unfortunately, many people mistake the word "theory" as meaning a "wild idea" and request that "the theory is proven" before they do anything. Repeat after me: Nothing is ever proven in science, only disproven. A scientific theory is backed up by loads of evidence and has next to nothing to do with the every day meaning of the word. Or, from a dictionary: "a plausible or scientifically acceptable general principle or body of principles offered to explain phenomena"

    -henrik

  • from merriamwebster.com:

    Main Entry: theory
    Pronunciation: 'thE-&-rE, 'thi(-&)r-E
    Function: noun
    Inflected Form(s): plural -ries
    Etymology: Late Latin theoria, from Greek theOria, from theOrein
    Date: 1592
    1 : the analysis of a set of facts in their relation to one another
    2 : abstract thought
    3 : the general or abstract principles of a body of fact, a science, or an art

    Refers to a body of knowledge. Gravitation is a theory, evolution is a theory, law is a theory. This doesn't mean "we're not sure." There may be some varying degree of surety within that body of knowledge, but that does not invalidate the entire body of knowledge.

    Not understanding the mechanism doesn't mean it doesn't do what it does. Gravitation kept everything earth-bound long before the apocryphal apple landed on Newton's head.
  • by lythander (21981) on Tuesday July 10, 2001 @08:39AM (#94308)
    The modern study of climate encompasses maybe 50 years. Oldest reliable weather obs date back about 400 years (and at a precious few locations), and older data are deduced from ice cores and such making assumptions which could be wrong and which yield less-than-finely-grained data. With an enormous and enormously complex system involved, and with the physics and chemistry incompletely understood, not to mention extremely challenging to model, and assuming infinite computational power (which is not as bad as you might think, since climate and nuke modelling are #s 1 and 2 on CPU use over most supercomputing facilities), we can't possibly venture more than barely educated guesses.

    Scientists are pretty evenly split on whether global warming even exists, though neither the press nor the politicians are clever enough to convey this to the public, who are probably not interested or educated enough to understand even that. Read this by a scientist involved in evalutaing claims used to support Kyoto. [opinionjournal.com] There is ample evidence to support claims on both sides, and only the most zealous and those with agendas will claim irrefutable proof.

    Do people affect the environment they live in? Sure. Do greenhouse gases warm the atmosphere? Of course, that's why they're called that. Can these effects really overwhelm the huge natural processes and cycles of the planet to modify it enough for us to notice? We don't know.

    Maybe we're staving off the now-overdue ice age. Perhaps we're experiencing a regular or otherwise cycle of climatic oscillation. Maybe we're screwing ourselves. Who knows? It is relatively certain that curtailing our emissions would have smaller impact on the environment, but that impact might already be much smaller than we think.

    Certainly it couldn't hurt, but Kyoto could, and a decision to support it or not should be based on solid environmental, economic and political considerations. Kyoto not only radically reduced limits on pollution in the US and other 1st world nations, but guaranteed the right of 3rd world nations to continue to pollute indefinitely. There were many other difficulties as well, many of which reflect the USA's decreasing involvement in international affairs (W can't even spell UN, so we shouldn't be surprised), and the diplomatic Napoleon complex being expressed by the EU, trying to throw it's new, generally left-leaning politcal weight around.

    The world is likely to be severely impacted by an asteroid large enough to cause catastrophic climate change, and will without doubt suffer even worse damage as our sun ages in a billion years or so. Politicians pay no atention to these issues, which would be easy to mitigate given the time until their effects will be felt. Any time they spend on Global Warming is to garner public accolades for their "green" side. Maybe this cancels out drilling in ANWAR.

  • Thank you for the addition of some logic and level-headedness to a topic that usually generates nothing but emotionalism and flame wars.

    It's nice to see there are a few people (still) out there who are not in a hysterical panic, and are willing to research the facts themselves.

    If we could only get it out there like a mantra-

    _There_is_no_global_warming_
  • i know this is a troll. i'm answering anyway.

    "Global Warming" (which is a dumb title for the Greenhouse Effect) will seem a lot more real in 40 or 50 years. the theory of the Greenhouse Effect states that as the amount of vapors (H2O, CO2, etc) in the atmosphere increases, more heat energy from the sun will be absorbed and trapped in the atmosphere. now we've set this ball in motion by doing two things: dumping large amounts of CO2 in the air (and cutting down a lot of trees that would gladly breathe it) and eating away at the ozone layer (in the upper atmosphere, where it absorbs ultraviolet rays). more UV is coming in, heating up more vapor in the air.

    the 0.5degC increase in global climate may not seem like much, but when you consider how many extra millions and millions of tons of water are in the air, you can probably easily imagine the climactic changes. more humidity planet-wide == more storms, more violent climate. a rise in sea level (from slowly-melting, enormous icecaps) is probably to come in the next 50 years too, putting major metropolitan ports underwater.

    the 0.5degC increase in climate is also a reversal of the natural trend in recent centuries. no one can say with certainty if it's just the Earth's natural cycle, but an intelligent human can tell that mayyyybe mankind had something to do with it.

  • Huh !! Check your facts dude ! the US alone is responsible for nearly 50% of world CO2 pollution. I think that an american must consume something as 100 times (not exactly sure, but ig gives an order of magnitude) as much energy than an indian ! amazing !? no
  • by Unknown Poltroon (31628) <unknown_poltroon1sp@myahoo.com> on Tuesday July 10, 2001 @07:32AM (#94333)
    Sure, I BELIEVED, then I researched paleoclimatology untill I got the facts, now I KNOW most of what they tell me is wrong, half assed, and for political reasons. Don't listen to me, go out there and look up the OPPOSIE of what youve been told, and see if there is more information and if their side makes more sense. Ever heard of the little ice age 200 years ago? Most people havent. Puts a new slant on the warming trend of the last 100 years when you realise we are coming out of a minor FSCKING ICE AGE. Mideveal england was 1-3 degrees warmer than it is now, which is why there were colonies on greenland which died off when the climate GOT COLDER!! Don't believe me, do your own research. Look at the ice core data, listen to that crackpot opposed to the Microsoft, I mean popular view.
  • by hey! (33014)
    OzonAnyone with any knowledge of chemistry realizes that when a cosmic ray hits O2 it form 03 (ozone). In other words, depleting ozone just makes the atmosphere produce more ozone. Anybody with a knowledge of physics knows that heat diffuses from hot to cold, and that pressure tends to equalize in a gas. So, the Earth's atmosphere has uniform density and temperature everywhere, right? (wrong) A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. You are assuming that there is an equillibrium between O2 and O3, which is simply not true.
  • Everyone has neglected to cover the cost anaylsis of producing electric cars.

    GM claims to have poured 1 billion USD into making the EV1. The Wall Street Journal says it's probably closer to $1.5 billion USD. So far they have "sold" 1000 EV1s. I say sold, because the car is actually leased -- at $900 down and $550 a month (plus $50/month for the charger if you want (need, and yes, you do) that). At 1000 copies, that breaks down to either a million dollars a copy or 1.5 million, depending on whose estimate you believe. This is for a car that doesn't handle particularly well, accelerate any better than average, is hauling around a ton (literally) of batteries, is built more like a light plane than a car (read spartan interior, no sound deadening, no luxuries), has a greatly reduced range, and only carries two people and about as much luggage as a Miata. You could also lease a Chevrolet Corvette for the same amount -- and the EV1 is obviously heavily subsidised. Any surprise that the auto companies are balking at building these?

  • by Robert Link (42853) on Tuesday July 10, 2001 @04:52PM (#94358) Homepage
    You should have stopped after your second paragraph; I was all prepared to believe you. Unfortunately, you misrepresented the situation in the US Senate so grossly that I can't help but question whether you have your facts about the EU straight.


    The motion you are thinking of is the motion to reconsider. Although one has to have voted on the winning side to make a motion to reconsider, one need not have voted on the winning side to vote for a motion to reconsider. Thus, it is wholly unnecessary (and highly irregular) for the entire support base for a measure to vote against it just to leave open the possibility of a motion to reconsider. Traditionally the party leadership takes on this duty. Furthermore, even if for some odd reason all the hypothetical Kyoto supporters in the Senate did vote against the treaty for the purpose of reconsidering, why didn't they do so?


    Your misunderstanding goes even deeper, however, because you don't seem to realize that the Kyoto treaty was never sent to the Senate for ratification. The 96-0 vote people keep referring to was for Senate Resolution 98, which was passed before the Kyoto treaty was signed. The resolution laid out the conditions any treaty would have to fulfill in order for the Senate to ratify it. Many analysts feel that the Kyoto treaty fails to meet these criteria, and thus would be disapproved by the Senate, were it to be submitted. Since SR-98 is nonbinding, it's entirely possible that the current Senate would ratify it, but the chances of mustering the required 2/3 vote are basically nil (and that, by the way, is why if Gore had been elected the Kyoto treaty would still not be law in the United States).


    All of that brings us to the final point, which is that whether or not you believe that climatic change is human caused (a whole debate unto itself), the Kyoto treaty is a bad treaty. There are plenty of analyses of the technical flaws of the treaty out there, but the most damning thing in my opinion is that it places responsibility for controlling CO2 emissions squarely on the shoulders of the industrialized nations. While that seems like a reasonable thing if you consider only that the (currently) industrialized nations have historically dominated world CO2 output. However, many developing nations have a tremendous rate of growth in their CO2 emissions, and when you take that into account, exempting them from emission limits will completely hamstring efforts to reduce global emissions. Advocates of Kyoto say that it isn't fair that industrialized nations have been emitting for years, and it isn't fair to ask developing nations to stop now that they are starting to ramp up their economies. They may have a point; it probably isn't fair, but the question you have to ask yourself is do you want to put a dent in global CO2 emissions or don't you? If the answer is yes, you do, then Kyoto isn't going to get you there. Controlling global emissions requires a global effort, not just effort from the nations the world loves to hate.


    -rpl

  • by ReconRich (64368) on Tuesday July 10, 2001 @08:15AM (#94378) Homepage
    Hold on there cowboy... First of all, the mechanics of climate change are very poorly understood (by any scientists).

    And the planet is getting hotter.
    But you are absolutely correct, the earth has been warming up. Never mind that its been cooling off for the last 1000 years.

    Ozone depletion (yes, it IS linked to global warming) is worsening.

    Ozone depletion research corresponds nicely with the expiration of the patent on Freon. Anyone with any knowledge of chemistry realizes that when a cosmic ray hits O2 it form 03 (ozone). In other words, depleting ozone just makes the atmosphere produce more ozone.

    These are scientific facts that no amount of bullshit rhetoric will change.

    You're not much of a scientist if you can't distinguish between facts and conclusions. Just because the planet is warming up doesn't mean that human activity has anything to do with it. (It doesn't mean that it doesn't have anything to do with it either) Any correlation between particular types of human activity and global warming is just that, correlation, which proves NOTHING, and certainly isn't a fact.

    If you would like to read more about the kind of fallacious argument you are making, read "Dancing Naked in the Mind Field" by Kary Mullis. He's a real scientist, and has a Nobel Prize. And he's not a conservative, nor is he bought by industry. Nor does he engage in "Bullshit rhetoric".

    --Rich
  • Ozone depletion research corresponds nicely with the expiration of the patent on Freon. Anyone with any knowledge of chemistry realizes that when a cosmic ray hits O2 it form 03 (ozone). In other words, depleting ozone just makes the atmosphere produce more ozone.

    Having personally launched and tracked balloons (with scientists from the University of Wyoming) to sample the ozone layer over Antarctica and worked with NASA scientists on the retrieval and processing of the data from TOMS-EP (a satellite that uses reflected sunlight to indirectly measure column ozone over any lit spot on the earth), I think can respond to this.

    Ozone is created and destroyed constantly all over the earth. It's how we are protected from UV radiation from the Sun. What occurs over Antarctica, the "Ozone Hole", is a case where under certain conditions, more ozone is destroyed than created, disrupting the equilbrium. You need three things in proximity to shift the balance - temperatures around -80C at about 100km altitude (30,000 ft.), a depletion agent (chlorine, bromine, etc.) and sunlight (energy). If you don't have the right temperatures, ice particles of the proper size can't form, eliminating the site where depletion happens. If you have no agent, there's nothing to catalyze the reaction. If you have no energy, there is no way to sever the O3 bonds.

    All winter long, ozone forms over the South Pole as the air gets colder and colder due to radiation cooling in the absence of sunlight. The cold air can't mix with warmer air from temperate latitudes because of the circumpolar winds which corral-in the air over the polar plateau (which is two miles tall, exascerbating the heat loss). By the time the first rays of sunlight hit in late August, the ozone concentration at 100km is at its annual peak. Over the next few days, the concentration of ozone plummets dramatically. By the first week of October, the air has warmed up enough that there are no ice crystals of the appropriate size for further loss to occur. There's still chlorine and energy, but no site for depletion to take place. A few weeks later, the upper atmosphere, now heated 24/7, is energetic enough to disrupt the circumpolar current and ozone poor air from above Antarctica mixes with ordinary air from the South Pacific and South Atlantic, diluting the concentration of ozone over the entire Southern Hemisphere.

    Perhaps you have missed the warnings issued to southern Chile over the past couple of years about particularly dilute patches passing overhead and the risk of skin and eye damage from as little as 15 minutes exposure if unprotected? New Zealand (occupying from approximately 43 degrees S to 48 degrees S) is at similar risk.

    Yes, depleting ozone just makes the atmosphere make more ozone, but it's not a uniform process. It's a seasonal process. This detail does not often make it into the popular press because it's a) not sensational enough and b) too complicated to fit into a sound bite. What scientists currently study is not the percentage of ozone in the stratosphere (at the right altitudes to form the right kind of ice crystals, it's 0% by the start of Summer), it's not the physical size of the hole (which is determined by the shape of Antarctica and the circumpolar current), it's how fast the hole appears as compared to the winter-time minimum and the spring-time maximum extent.

    As to the impact of human activity, the documented trends are that chlorine at 100km parallels (with a 18-month lag) the amount of release at ground level, and the more chlorine that's up there, the higher the rate of formation of the hole. It's not a straight uphill line; it has its minor variations up and down like a stock market graph. The overall trend, from decade to decade is up and up and up.

    -ethan
    http://penguincentral.com/ozone.html [penguincentral.com]

  • by Ender Ryan (79406) on Tuesday July 10, 2001 @11:13AM (#94404) Journal
    Learn to read. The climatic changes over the last 50 - 100 years are perfectly consistent with climatic changes that happen over such timespans. What we have is approximately a 1 1/2 degree temperature difference from ~100 years ago, which is perfectly consistent. What's got people worried is the fact that it coincides with the tremendous burning of fossil fuels. Creating CO2 SHOULD increase the temperature, that's a fact, but no one knows how much. We have NOT seen any changes that are undeniably the result of increased CO2.
  • by bellings (137948) on Tuesday July 10, 2001 @07:28AM (#94541)
    I'm glad Hollywood has finally gotten around to recognizing global warming. It's about time.

    Hopefully they can make a movie about a time in the near future, when we've destroyed almost all plant and animal life on the planet, even exausting the supply of plankton in the ocean, and the only thing humans have left to eat are other humans. But most people wouldn't know that their food is people -- it would be kept a secret from the population. And then, in the last scene, the truth should be revealed! That would be a cool movie. Why hasn't hollywood made something like that yet? What a bunch of lame asses.
  • by gowen (141411) <gwowen@gmail.com> on Tuesday July 10, 2001 @07:42AM (#94555) Homepage Journal
    Most of the climate change predictions are based on computer models. Given our inability to forecast weather accurately at any interval, I doubt very much the computers can handle the much greater complexities of climate change
    Then you misunderstand some of the complexities of weather forecasting. One of the reasons that many disparate models of long term climate change agree is that over sufficiently long time scales (10 years plus) the small scale effects (macroscale topography, daily wind variability as opposed to seasonal averages, the exact rate at which polynas open to create saline deep Antarctic water) that contribute to weather forecasting being hard can be neglected. Effectively, you don't need to know "There'll be a tornado in Kansas on Tuesday", when the long timescale model works perfectly well if it knows "They'll be some tornados in the Mid West in 2001".

    Think of it like this, if you drop a sheet of paper of a building, you can't tell every flutter it'll make, but you know damn well its going to hit the ground.

  • by Golias (176380) on Tuesday July 10, 2001 @08:25AM (#94614)
    That's fun to say, but the largest and most current study to date on the topic (a joint venture by the feds and the National Academy of Sciences done almost immediately after the final nail in the Kyoto Treaty coffin was hammered in), showed that there was, in fact, no consensus in the scientific community about this at all.

    I read a report from two members of NAS which raised several issues:

    1. There is no certainty about any of this. We are very bad at predicting weather, and still understand very little of it.

    2. The computer models that people keep talking about don't work. If you give them data up to 1970 and ask them to predict 1990, they are way off. Not even close. This gives one reason to believe that we should not trust what it says about 2020 when we give it current data.

    3. The land measurement records show a warmer earth now than 120 years ago... but most of the warming took place prior to 1940. This was followed by a couple decades of cooling! Then it started warming up again. The net change for those 120 years? Less than 2 degrees F.

    4. Geological temeratures are in constant flux. From about 800 to 1300 AD there was successful agriculture in Greenland. The cold period of the centuries that followed forced the Vikings to abandon their settlements in North America, and shortened average human life spans in Europe by 10 years.

    5. The only readings we have of the entire troposphere (from the Earth's surface to 30 miles up, measured everywhere, including over oceans), which have been gathered with the help of NASA and confirmed by balloon measurements, show absolutely no global warming over the last twenty years or so.

    6. The sun spot cycles seem to have a much bigger impact on global climate than we once suspected. When your main source of heat is a massive, chaotic, uncontrolled fusion reaction, change is something you need to learn to expect.

    7. Over the short term (less than a century or two), upper-atmosphere clouds have been discovered to be extremely efficient thermostats for the Earth. When the ammount of heat coming from the sun changes, the clouds get bigger or smaller to compensate, regulating the climate.

    Some people feel that the best way to counter all this carbon going into the air (mostly in the form of CO2) is to use some kind of machine to extract atmospheric carbon. Fortunately, such machines already exist. They are called trees. It appears that John Denver had the solution to global warming figured out before anybody ever heard of it.

    One last point. AI was not a bomb at the box office because interest in science is on the decline. Apollo 13 was a huge hit. AI was a bomb at the box office because it was a bad movie. Simple as that.

  • by RatFink100 (189508) on Tuesday July 10, 2001 @08:29AM (#94638)
    I agree with nearly all of what you've said.

    However I think Jon Katz actually raising the issue of belief is a key one. Until people believe the problem is real they won't be motivated to make the changes, or influence their governments to make the changes.

  • by Ereth (194013) on Tuesday July 10, 2001 @07:58AM (#94647) Homepage
    Since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the global temperature has risen about 1.5 degrees. If penguins are dying because it's less than 2 degrees warmer, then penguins were not going to survive anyway.

    Katz' argument that people can "feel the weather has changed" has nothing to do with Global Warming. Earths climate has regular cycles. There are periods of particularly mild climactic change, usually lasting about 100 years. We exited one of those periods in the mid 1990s. As predicted, the weather has become more volatile. This has nothing to do with global warming, and everything to do with normal variations in the Earths climate (probably caused by orbital changes). People, especially uneducated people, base their opinions on what they know and what they are told by the media. Since none of them were alive before we entered the period of mild climactic change, that period seems "normal" to them, rather than the abnormality it really was. We'll have a few thousand years of rougher weather, whether we drive SUVs, or were huddling around a campfire in a cave.

    Will it be a couple degrees warmer? Possibly. But Mt Pinatubo threw up enough dust to cool the average temperature 1 full degree for several years (reducing average global temperatures to roughly a half degree higher than before the Industrial Revolution). Averages, people, are averages. If we are 2 degrees higher for a few years, and a few degrees lower a few years, guess what? We are average.

    I agree that scientists should study these things. I don't agree that the time has come to worry about the sky falling.

  • by nick_davison (217681) on Tuesday July 10, 2001 @08:20AM (#94689)
    Global Warming unfortunately carries with it the assumption that "the earth must get hotter or it isn't happening." After all, it's warming, right?

    Maybe Global Climate Change is a better term. Even as the earth does get warmer, a degree or so either way isn't something we're really going to notice - daily variations tend to be much greater anyway. What we do notice is the weather systems getting screwed up as a result of the small rises knocking the established systems out of whack.

    Over the last year or so, we've had the atlantic weather systems reverse themselves; a weather front set itself up over Europe, all summer long, so the north didn't get a summer and the south stayed in the 100s (40s in C); the Mississippi has taken to flooding regularly; Southern California, as opposed to its usual 5 days of rain hardly stopped raining from January through March; and then there's South America that seems to go from one weather related disaster to another.

    I'm sure a load of people who know the subject far better than I [or at the very least are convinced they do] can offer other explanations. All I'm attempting to show is that Global Warming [assuming it exists] wouldn't be something that's visible by "Oh cool, extra beach days," but by that extra degree or two screwing up the weather in general.

  • by nanojath (265940) on Tuesday July 10, 2001 @07:48AM (#94763) Homepage Journal
    This would be a great point of view if it wasn't so full of shit. I am a degreed scientist (I'd like to know what you are) who has been following science news about global warming for close to a decade. In that time what I have seen is story after story, report after report, that affirms that global warming is occurring and, increasingly, that human activity is indicated in it's cause.

    "[R]eal scientists displaying real data..." I guess in your little fantasy world this doesn't include the World Meteorological Organization or it's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which includes scientists from a hundred countries, and has been developing the evidence that global warming is real since the 80's. I guees it doesn't include the National Acedemy of Science, which concluded last year that:

    "The warming trend in global-mean surface temperature observations during the past 20 years is undoubtedly real and is substantially greater than the average rate of warming during the twentieth century. The disparity between surface and upper air trends in no way invalidates the conclusions that surface temperature has been rising."

    I guess it doesn't include such publications as Science, Nature, Scientific American and Chemical & Engineering News (and literally hundreds of others which have all repeated the same conclusion: that the overwhelming scientific consensus is that global warming is real.

    The alternate opinion that you express is so phenomenally unsupported, so completely discredited by the overwhelming burden of valid scientific evidence, that it is espoused only by vested interests like power generation and conservative wackos like yourself. Practice what you preach and leave science to the scientists: you don't know what you're talking about.

    Evidence: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/ol/climate/globalwarming. html#Q9

    http://www.sciam.com/2000/0800issue/0800epstein.ht ml

    http://www.ucsusa.org/environment/0warming.html

    http://www.epa.gov/globalwarming/faq/index.html

    http://www.giss.nasa.gov/edu/gwdebate/

    Educate yourself. Sea levels are rising. The permafrost is melting. Ozone depletion (yes, it IS linked to global warming) is worsening. And the planet is getting hotter. These are scientific facts that no amount of bullshit rhetoric will change. And it will affect us in purely negative ways in our lifetimes and in our children's lifetimes.

  • by inerte (452992) on Tuesday July 10, 2001 @08:21AM (#94859) Homepage Journal
    First of all, nice article. I am a newbiew around here (two days :-)) and this is the best I have seen so far.

    Second, I am not from USA. I may have a different perspective from the average american, altought it is obvious that I do not have from who wrote this text.

    That said, I think the weather challenge cannot be won without the USA.

    That's quite obvious analizing the reasons that lead to the Kyoto protocol, which may fall without USA support.

    The United States is responsible for much of the pollution that goes to our air, land and water. There's no doubt about this, numbers everywhere to confirm.

    Per person, it is the country that produces more pollution.

    But at the same time, I believe a lot more is going on. USA has taken in the past years a role of technological leader in the world. Most research breakthroughs (spelling?) come from there. So much ahead of other countries, that the other countries are fighting back with more 'humanitary' global actions.

    ONU's chair in human rights was the 'concrete' action of something bigger. Slodoban's and Pinochet's happening on Europe enlarge that continent's role of 'social', 'humanitary' leader. What we have now are two sides of serious future consequences that need to develop and unfold together.

    In one corner you have tech development. On the other human society. Body and mind, matter and spirit if you wish. You cannot separate them, cannot only concentrate on one side. They must grow together for a better future.

    But, a historial view of the last years, after the Industrial Revolution, will make you think that we as humans have pend much more to the tech side than the spiritual one.

    Antique societies, old religions, they all got weaker since the beggining of the century. I am not talking about christianins (again, sorry for the misspelling, english is not my primarly languague), but instead, almost every other religion on the world, that takes the perception of life after dead very different than our ocidental way.

    To simplify, west tries to enjoy life at maximum because we all gonna die, so do it quickly and do it now. East, on the contrary, have a vision more like "we all gonna die anyway, why do it?".

    But, tech improvement is changing this. We don't die at 30 now, like 150 years ago. Most people that are 20 years old nowadays with go beyond 100, easy, easy.

    This perception that life has increased, that we really don't have to do it fast and do it now, the 'eastern' life and death vision, is losing its forces.

    With this in mind, you can justify people's concern with the weather. At the same time we are taking care of our lives, improving it, we are taking away the force of who gave us life, 'Mother Nature'.

    Prodigal sons, we are now taking the harder route to the 'eco growth', an economy based on the principles that we must take care of the enviroment.

    Earth has been around for billions of years with or without us, and will probaly be after we are gone from here to other planets. What we say now, is a 'rearrange' of forces, like a system where it must balance what is inside. There's no weather problem for Earth. Our planet is what it is. There is weather problem for ourselves, for our future as a race.

    I hope as soon as is possible we learn how to balance matter and spirit, tech and religion inside us, so we can exist in union with our planet.

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