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Cleaner Air Adds To Global Warming 751

Posted by samzenpus
from the catch-22 dept.
shmlco writes "In the "You Can't Win For Losing" department, an article on the BBC web site is reporting that reduced air pollution and increased water evaporation appears to be adding to man-made global warming. Research presented at a major European science meeting adds to other evidence that cleaner air is letting more solar energy through to the Earth's surface. Burn fossil fuels, you make things worse. Clean up your act, and you make things worse. Is it time to set off a few nukes and see if nuclear winter can cool things down?"
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Cleaner Air Adds To Global Warming

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  • by cliffski (65094) on Friday April 07, 2006 @12:52PM (#15085372) Homepage
    Air pollution kills people anyway, so its not exactly a 'solution' to encourage air pollution surely?
    Cue lots of 'hilarious' ironic tabloid newspaper columinsts suggesting that we all fill up the SUVS to 'do our bit' though.
  • not that far off (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Goldsmith (561202) on Friday April 07, 2006 @12:52PM (#15085374)
    I've seen a (semi) serious suggestion that the best way to deal with global warming is to put a thin film of dust in between the earth and the sun. This wasn't from some internet hack either, but a rather senior physicist.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 07, 2006 @12:53PM (#15085384)
    I wasn't under the impression that air pollution was getting better. Are we not still horrendously more polluted than we were a hundred years ago, when the temperature shifts started getting nasty?

    Hopefully somebody can explain this in simple terms. Also, hopefully that somebody isn't on somebody else's politically-based payroll.
  • I agree (Score:2, Interesting)

    by MajorDick (735308) on Friday April 07, 2006 @12:53PM (#15085389)
    "set off a few nukes and see if nuclear winter can cool things down"

    By the time my kids are my age that may be the only option.
    And it may not be a bad one
    The U.S. has some nice large yield hydrogen bombs that are "clean" well as "clean" as a thermonuclear device can be.

    Where is the question, would sea level blasts in the arctic work ? or maybe mid atlantic, shit Bikini Atol is still crapped up from last time maybe thats a good place

    A "PURE" fusion device would be ideal.

    Maybe we could create a "Dust Pump" to chock all that shit upwards, or better yet, figure out how to trigger about 5 large volcano blasts. A volcano produces MUCH more ash and reduces temperatures much more than a Nuke....

    Say bye bye Mt. St Helens....
  • by Poromenos1 (830658) on Friday April 07, 2006 @12:55PM (#15085407) Homepage
    1. Create huge heat-powered laser
    2. Shoot the beam to outer space
    3. Profit!
  • Change != Worse (Score:4, Interesting)

    by notnAP (846325) on Friday April 07, 2006 @12:55PM (#15085421)
    Burn fossil fuels, you make things worse. Clean up your act, and you make things worse
    s/make things worse/change the environment/
    Maybe we should just realize that we live and therefore we affect the world around us, and that the environment is ever changing. Oh, and things evolve. And it's not a good idea to build a dream home on a sand dune.
  • by RandomPrecision (911416) on Friday April 07, 2006 @01:09PM (#15085596)
    Heh. We sent a dihydrogen monoxide ban around my high school. With details like

    It is found in 99% of cancer cells

    Large quantities are known to kill people

    It is found in quantity in the brains of sociopaths

    It is a vehicle for spreading most diseases

    A powerful solvent in and of itself

    Allows the breeding of mosquitos

    We actually got quite a few vehement people wanting to ban this chemical in all of its forms.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 07, 2006 @01:09PM (#15085598)
    So as long as there are places where there aren't many people, we can conclude that the total population is not more than can be sustainably supported? Does that actually make sense to you?
  • Re:Angels Down? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by techno-vampire (666512) on Friday April 07, 2006 @01:10PM (#15085614) Homepage
    I think, if you check, you'll find that Larry Niven had something to do with it. In fact, if you check carefully, you'll find that Larry and Jerry called in Mr. Flynn (I don't use his first name because I don't know him personally, unlike the other two authors.) because they were having problems make it jell.
  • When are the environmentalists going to admit that it's not "Global Warming" they're trying to prevent? It's all about DESTROYING industrialization.

    Hmm... interesting conclusion.

    Let's see, the earth is warming due in large part to the effects of human beings spewing crud into the atmosphere. A warmer earth tends to be covered with more water, have more violent weather patterns, and be all around less hospitable to life as we currently enjoy it. How do we spew crud into the atmosphere or otherwise adversely affect the ecosystem? Well, there's burning things in bulk, sometimes for transportation and sometimes for industry, there's promoting a certain type of environmentally impactive animal over another less harsh type, there's the paving of large swaths of the earth's surface, and so on and so forth.

    Now, you're positing that people who want activities such as the above to be curtailed desire to destroy industrialization. You, sir, win today's specious reasoning award.
  • by Ferretman (224859) <ferretman@gam e a i.com> on Friday April 07, 2006 @01:26PM (#15085816) Homepage
    Um....there's precious little discussion of volcanic contributions on that link, and it's hardly a neutral reference in any case.

    An interesting site, but hardly a neutral one. Ought to find a better link than one that's the scientific equivalent of "because Al Gore said so!".

  • by eno2001 (527078) on Friday April 07, 2006 @01:38PM (#15085958) Homepage Journal
    OK. I'll put it in terms that Slashdotters can understand. Imagine that the Earth and it's vital resources (air, water and food) are a server providing services to users. You load up the server, get the services ready for the users and you start off with a base of 10,000 users. You've sized the server for growth with a maximum of 40,000 users. Time goes by and your user base increases until you reach about 39,999 users. Then you add users 40,000 and it all goes to hell (an oversimplification but it works for now). The real truth is that by the time you'd hit about 25,000 users you are probably already feeling a lot of pain in those services. The users are complaining about strange errors, lost data, or somesuch. Now... assume that the IT department has been completely axed because management decided they were too much of a money pit. So you continue on. You eventually have 70,000 users. The server is REALLY unstable and unrealiable. But not because it was poorly designed. Simply because it wasn't meant for that capacity. And that is the key word. In ecology, there is a term for the Earth called "carrying capacity". It refers to how many human beings the planet can sustain at a very, very basic level. This doesn't mean the "I can have a laptop, iPod, cell phone, SUV and nice suburban house" level. It doesn't even mean the "I'll only eat McDonald's, drive a Yugo, and use an 80s Walkman" level. It means the basic primitive level of living for EVERY human on the planet. The "I live in a grass hut, eat rice every day, and walk everywhere" level. The estimated carrying capactity for the Earth the last time I was studying this stuff was 11,000,000,000 humans. If we're talking in terms of servers, we're fucked unless the admin can grow our capcity or give us a second server.
  • by Shihar (153932) on Friday April 07, 2006 @02:11PM (#15086286)
    The US grows more then enough food to feed the entire fucking world. The average American diet might require 3 acres of arable land per person per year (which is a bullshit number or one people don't agree on as this http://www.planorganic.com/about%20us%20.htm [planorganic.com] offers a number of 1.5), but the average American eats a few dozen pounds of meat per year as well. There is no danger of starvation. At the very worst, if prices for food was to dramatically go up, we would have to eat less meat.

    Your argument defies simple logic. Food cost are going down and have been going down for over a hundred years. This implies a growing surplice of food, not a shortage. You also blatantly ignore the fact that the US, like Europe and Japan, is in a death cycle. That means that the number of kids we are having per year does NOT replace the next generation. How is it that our population could possibly be going up then? Immigration. If it wasn't for immigration, the US would be in the same ugly death cycle that Western Europe and Japan is in, and we would have all the same social ills that come when more and more of your population is old, dependent, and not working.

    Wealth kills the drive to reproduce. The only reason why this isn't a great tragedy in the US is because immigration helps to bring in more and more young strong hard working people.
  • by gryf (121168) on Friday April 07, 2006 @02:23PM (#15086394) Homepage
    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/20 02105397_volcano01m.html [nwsource.com] Actually, scientists are finding that even sulphur poor volcanos like Mt St Helens put out more polution than all the industry and cars in the state. And that measurement was only for a partial year. Moreover, they have to guess at the upper range because you can't meter the output of a volcano effectively. This means that volcanos are hardly considered 'chump change' when it comes to adding to 'global warming'.
  • by Liam Slider (908600) on Friday April 07, 2006 @03:39PM (#15087081)
    You can fit the entire world population into Texas with a population density the same as that of Manhattan....the Earth is not overpopulated.
  • Re:No Surprise... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jc42 (318812) on Friday April 07, 2006 @04:24PM (#15087472) Homepage Journal
    Actually, the story with clouds turns out to be a bit more complicated. Some studies of the subject have been published. The conclusions are that some kinds of clouds produce a net cooling; other kinds of clouds produce a net warming.

    The weather satellites do give us pretty good information on the cloud cover, and the subject is known well enough to give good estimates of the total effect. Unfortunately, whether the total effect is "cooling" or "warming" varies on a daily (or hourly) time scale.

    With a bit of googling, you can find a number of discussions of the topic. I just asked google about "cloud cover warming cooling effect", and got over 1.6 million hits. A casual glance shows that you have quite a lot of reading ahead if you want to understand the topic. Words like "variable", "depends" and "mixed" are common in these articles.

  • by jc42 (318812) on Friday April 07, 2006 @04:39PM (#15087613) Homepage Journal
    If cows pollute more than cars, it's because we breed them in huge numbers. This is not "natural".

    Perhaps, but the evidence is that before our agriculture, the grassland habitats that are best for grazing animals were populated with lots of large grazers. We may not have changed the total number by much; we just replaced the wild grazers with domesticated grazers. We really don't know which direction we changed the numbers.

    But the really fun part of the methane story is the recent discovery of the "missing methane source". We'd had good estimates that roughly 1/3 of the methane came from our industrial pollution and 1/3 from ungulates (wild and domestic). But the remaining 1/3 was long a mystery. No more. We now know that most of the rest comes from termites.

    This sounds like a joke, of course, and some of the science news stories were pretty funny in a geek-humor fashion. But it turns out that the total biomass of termites is greater than that of the grazing animals. Termites digest plant matter in much the same way as the large grazers, and they even use symbiotic bacteria that are close relatives of those inside cattle.

    So imagine every second there are billions of tiny termite farts, each releasing a microlitre or so of CH4. There are trillions and trillions of termites in the world, each constantly letting go with tiny bursts of methane.

    The world is more complex (and sometimes funnier) than we imagined.

    BTW, geese and kangaroos are also grazers, and they add a tiny amount to the world's methane supply. But there aren't really enough of them to make a difference.

  • by beautiful leper (892064) on Friday April 07, 2006 @05:49PM (#15088128)
    We always talk of human rights. But what about planetary rights? I think that if we came up with guisde lines for sustainability that human rights would follow. Because the factory conditions that people would have to work in would be better. The smog problems in cities that cause all kinds of skin problems would diminish. Basicaly if we worried about the planets rights first than human rights would follow. I think we got our priorities fouled as a human race. We are so self centeredly worried about ourselves that we may kill ourselves off neglecting the greater responsibility that comes with the kind of self awareness where a species starts to create their own invironment, where a species changes the earth. At the point where a species drasticaly changes the earth at the moment that it become self aware of its own effect than it should take action not just for the sanctity of the earth and all the other animals but for humans. if we were looking out for number one than we would worry about a sustainable society and that would mean a lot of americans might have to chhange their behavior patterns and belief systems. It is time for us to stop thinking about imdiate gradification and move on to long term sustainability. Oh but my oil stocks keep racing up. You know what happened with eron. Well dick Cheney did the same thing to halberton but sense he got into government and gave them no bid contracts on iraq they didn't go bankrupt. These rich fucks, when they know oil is going down are going to liquidate again I am sure. So at some point pull your money out of oil. My opinion of course, michael

Money can't buy happiness, but it can make you awfully comfortable while you're being miserable. -- C.B. Luce

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