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A Stark Warning On Climate Change 926

Posted by Zonk
from the that's-not-good dept.
cliffski writes "In a report based on computer predictions, UK government advisor Professor David King said that an increase of even three degrees Celsius would cause drought and famine and threaten millions of lives The US refuses to cut emissions and those of India and China are rising. A government report based on computer modeling projects a 3C rise would cause a drop worldwide of between 20 and 400 million tonnes in cereal crops, about 400 million more people at risk of hunger and between 1.2bn and 3bn more people at risk of water stress."
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A Stark Warning On Climate Change

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  • Recommended reading (Score:5, Informative)

    by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Friday April 14, 2006 @09:14AM (#15128623)
    If you haven't already, take a look at Jared Diamond's "Guns, Germs, and Steel", and "Collapse".

    I leave it up to another karma whore to provide affiliate links to Amazon.
    • by cuzality (696718) on Friday April 14, 2006 @09:41AM (#15128802) Journal
      Climate of Fear [opinionjournal.com] (opinionjournal.com)
      Global-warming alarmists intimidate dissenting scientists into silence.

      BY RICHARD LINDZEN
      Wednesday, April 12, 2006 12:01 a.m. EDT
      There have been repeated claims that this past year's hurricane activity was another sign of human-induced climate change. Everything from the heat wave in Paris to heavy snows in Buffalo has been blamed on people burning gasoline to fuel their cars, and coal and natural gas to heat, cool and electrify their homes. Yet how can a barely discernible, one-degree increase in the recorded global mean temperature since the late 19th century possibly gain public acceptance as the source of recent weather catastrophes? And how can it translate into unlikely claims about future catastrophes?

      The answer has much to do with misunderstanding the science of climate, plus a willingness to debase climate science into a triangle of alarmism. Ambiguous scientific statements about climate are hyped by those with a vested interest in alarm, thus raising the political stakes for policy makers who provide funds for more science research to feed more alarm to increase the political stakes. After all, who puts money into science--whether for AIDS, or space, or climate--where there is nothing really alarming? Indeed, the success of climate alarmism can be counted in the increased federal spending on climate research from a few hundred million dollars pre-1990 to $1.7 billion today. It can also be seen in heightened spending on solar, wind, hydrogen, ethanol and clean coal technologies, as well as on other energy-investment decisions.

      But there is a more sinister side to this feeding frenzy. Scientists who dissent from the alarmism have seen their grant funds disappear, their work derided, and themselves libeled as industry stooges, scientific hacks or worse. Consequently, lies about climate change gain credence even when they fly in the face of the science that supposedly is their basis.

      To understand the misconceptions perpetuated about climate science and the climate of intimidation, one needs to grasp some of the complex underlying scientific issues. First, let's start where there is agreement. The public, press and policy makers have been repeatedly told that three claims have widespread scientific support: Global temperature has risen about a degree since the late 19th century; levels of CO2 in the atmosphere have increased by about 30% over the same period; and CO2 should contribute to future warming. These claims are true. However, what the public fails to grasp is that the claims neither constitute support for alarm nor establish man's responsibility for the small amount of warming that has occurred. In fact, those who make the most outlandish claims of alarm are actually demonstrating skepticism of the very science they say supports them. It isn't just that the alarmists are trumpeting model results that we know must be wrong. It is that they are trumpeting catastrophes that couldn't happen even if the models were right as justifying costly policies to try to prevent global warming.

      If the models are correct, global warming reduces the temperature differences between the poles and the equator. When you have less difference in temperature, you have less excitation of extratropical storms, not more. And, in fact, model runs support this conclusion. Alarmists have drawn some support for increased claims of tropical storminess from a casual claim by Sir John Houghton of the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) that a warmer world would have more evaporation, with latent heat providing more energy for disturbances. The problem with this is that the ability of evaporation to drive tropical storms relies not only on temperature but humidity as well, and calls for drier, less humid air. Claims for starkly higher temperatures are based upon there being more humidity, not less--hardly a case for more storminess with global warming.
      • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Friday April 14, 2006 @09:50AM (#15128856) Homepage Journal
        As I posted earlier this week [slashdot.org], Lindzen is part of a professional network of Greenhouse deniers. By all means, read his work. And google [google.com] for rebuttals, cross-reference his citations. And look at the climate you get to see yourself. Then decide whether everything's OK.

        Here's a factoid to get you started [sourcewatch.org]:

        "In November 2004, climate change skeptic Richard Lindzen was quoted saying he'd be willing to bet that the earth's climate will be cooler in 20 years than it is today. When British climate researcher James Annan contacted him, however, Lindzen would only agree to take the bet if Annan offered a 50-to-1 payout."
        • by shotfeel (235240) on Friday April 14, 2006 @11:29AM (#15129660)
          It is certainly a good idea to read what people on both sides of the debate are saying. Personally, it disturbs me when I read articles like the one in the write-up. Lets begin with,

          Scientists admit the Earth's mechanisms are so complicated their calculations are uncertain.

          So we start with an uncertain model stating a potential 3 degree C increase in temperature with no data given on the reliability of that number -that's not science. For a model to be scientifically valid it not only needs to be tested and found reliable, one also needs to do the extra step in determining variablity in outcome. AFAIK that hasn't been done to a sufficient degree.

          Then, based on the results from this model, we use a second untested model with unknown reliability/variability and make another prediction on how this 3 degree change will alter crops on a global level and further how this extrapolates to starving people. What are the assumptions being made? Are we assuming farming techniques are unchanged?

          Then we take the results of that model and create policy. Anyone who works with computer modeling should be squirming uncomfortably in their chairs at this point.

          I'm not saying its all bad. We do need to act on what our best data tells us, but we really need to know how much stock to put in the analysis. So far that has been sadly lacking. IMO it has a great deal to do with the current political climate where any uncertainty shown is enough to get some people to completely ignore the results. OTOH I think its misleading to be presenting these things as "given" without more information.
          • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Friday April 14, 2006 @11:54AM (#15129905) Homepage Journal
            I think it's worth noticing that there are more than 2 sides to the climate change debate - and there's more than one debate. But if we frame the debate as "if we reduce Greenhouse pollution, will the climate remain more stable than if we don't", there are 2 sides. One side has most of the experts, saying "yes". The other side has some experts, and most of the stakeholders in the factors most of the experts say contribute to the change. The side warning that the problem is imminent and dire has been right before about atmospheric pollution, including the acceptable economic costs of stopping the change by stopping the pollution. The other side has never been right about anything scientific except extracting the most money from the smallest investment.

            And the stakes riding on that disagreement are human civilization, and survival of the species as we know it - as well as many other species.

            So I encourage everyone to take as broad a look as we can. The proportions and facts are there to be found. I'm not as optimistic about the ability of billions of industrialized people to make wise decisions about uncertainty, but that's all we've got.
        • by jcr (53032) <jcr@nOspAm.mac.com> on Friday April 14, 2006 @11:46AM (#15129814) Journal
          Lindzen is part of a professional network of Greenhouse deniers.

          Lindzen is a professor at MIT.

          -jcr
        • Yes, if you don't have a good argument, attack the messenger ("professional network of Greenhouse deniers") using religious terminology and conspiratorial implications, not the message.

          Issues:

          There are serious climatologists who believe the evidence for anthropogenic global warming is worthless. This is not to say that it might not happen or be happening, but that the issue is driven by speculation (primarily in the form of models which canbot be calibrated due to dramatic problems with the historical tempe
      • by TheNucleon (865817) on Friday April 14, 2006 @11:34AM (#15129691)
        OK, let's see if we can get past this...

        The world is getting warmer. The world is very big, so a small change (e.g., 1 degree Celsius) is a big deal. About this fact, there is little to no dissent.

        Mankind is contributing to this change. There is disagreement about how much, but don't be fooled - we are having an impact, and why shouldn't we? There are six billion of us, and rapidly growing. We think that our legacy of burning wood, coal, and now petroleum products, is going to have no impact, and that the exotic chemicals we have used (e.g., CFCs) have no role in this? Come on. Don't make me Google it for you, do the work.

        This change IS going to make a difference. Did it cause Katrina? I don't know. Could it cause floods, rise of global sea levels, famine, thirst, and the loss of thousands of species? Probably. Is it already killing polar bears, bleaching coral, and melting permafrost? Yep. Already.

        I want to move on to "how much _really_ is a result of our actions" and "what can we do now".

        Despite the misinformation campaign from a particular political agenda, this is NOT a political issue, and it IS something to be concerned about. Our lives are on the line, and people are still engaging in lobbyist games and misleading science, just to, what? Get some more power and money for a generation, so the next one can perish? Do we have no conscience at all?

        So, please, certain fellow folks in the US, bring the arguments. Tell me how it's OK for a country with 4 percent of the world's population to produce the most emissions, because we don't want to "slow" our economy. Tell me why we should ignore the problem because, of course, there's a big "scientific conspiracy". Tell me how it's OK, because India and China are doing it too, right? I mean, if other people are doing it, it's not "fair" if we can't. Tell me that the permafrost would have "melted anyhow". Tell me about the volcanoes, and that they put out more emissions than we do, which, of course, makes ours "OK".

        And, please send all these arguments to /dev/null. Because it's time for the rest of us to talk seriously about what is going on.

        I am not an alarmist. I am not part of a left-wing conspiracy. There are people who know 1,000,000 times more than I do (and more than you do...) about climate change and our role in it. And many, many of them believe there is a real issue, one that could get deadly serious in the not too distant future. Maybe they have a point? Have you checked it out - I mean, really, with an open mind, and not through the filter of the talking points you heard on AM radio this morning?

        • by Blakey Rat (99501) on Friday April 14, 2006 @02:10PM (#15131202)
          I seem to recall that every other time we (meaning mankind) have tried to "fix" an ecological problem, we end up making it about a dozen times worse. See Australia, for instance.

          There's about 4 layers here:

          1) Convince me that global warming is happening

          2) Convince me that it's due to human activity

          3) Convince me that it *can* be 'solved' or at least reduced

          4) Convince me that working to 'solve' it won't make things worse like it has in the past.

          Right now I'm somewhere between number 1 and 2 there.
          • 5) If "solving" the problem, or a small part of it, would cost an unimaginable amount of resource, convince me that those resources wouldn't be better spent some other way (per Lomborg, for example, providing everyone on earth with clean air, water and shelter).

                - AJ
  • by corporatemutantninja (533295) on Friday April 14, 2006 @09:15AM (#15128626)
    Won't this help solve the overpopulation problem?
  • China (Score:5, Informative)

    by Rydia (556444) on Friday April 14, 2006 @09:17AM (#15128633)
    To be fair to China, they've had much smaller growth in their pollution compared to other countries who underwent similar industrialization. Not saying they're perfect, but that should be mentioned.
  • Yes, the US refuses to cut levels (translation: "refuses to devolve our economy") precisely because the absurd Kyoto Protocol would put no such restrictions on developing nations such as China and India. They could grow and boom, consume all the energy the like and spew unlimited amounts of who-know-what into the atmosphere, but America would have to shrink it's economy to comply.

    No wonder it's been called the "Stop America Protocol."
    • Well boo fucking hoo. America would -- shock -- have to care! And, like, not shit on the rest of the world, but take a bit of shit _from_ the rest of the world.

      Cry me a river.

    • by penguin-collective (932038) on Friday April 14, 2006 @09:34AM (#15128752)
      Yes, the US refuses to cut levels (translation: "refuses to devolve our economy")

      There is no evidence that cutting the levels of CO2 emissions would "devolve [the US] economy". In fact, the opposite is far more plausible: the move to energy efficient technologies would spur new R&D, it would result in modernization of our transportation and manufacturing infrastructure, it would improve efficiency, it would lessen dependence on foreign oil (thereby also reducing the need for military expenses), and it would create lots of new economic activity and jobs. Pretty much the only people who lose are the big oil companies, some powerful US politicians, and the military.

      the absurd Kyoto Protocol would put no such restrictions on developing nations such as China and India. They could grow and boom, consume all the energy the like and spew unlimited amounts of who-know-what into the atmosphere, but America would have to shrink it's economy to comply.

      The US economy is already in deep trouble; it's living on borrowed money, provided by China and other nations, while China, India, and other nations are already booming.

      Furthermore, those other nations are rightfully arguing that it is not fair that the US has achieved its current economic strength by emitting carbon without restrictions and now they are supposed to limit their economies by not being allowed to emit equal amounts of carbon. But the solution is simple: everybody should pay for the carbon they have already emitted into the atmosphere; when such payments are set up, then India and China will probably be willing to agree to strong limits on their emissions.
      • by EastCoastSurfer (310758) on Friday April 14, 2006 @09:51AM (#15128861)
        In fact, the opposite is far more plausible: the move to energy efficient technologies would spur new R&D, it would result in modernization of our transportation and manufacturing infrastructure, it would improve efficiency,

        Good point. The problem is that those things cost money which you later admit US doesn't have much of anymore. Modernization of transportation is greatly needed, and the US is starting to move in that direction with more fuel efficient cars, hybrids, etc... What's really needed though is good mass transportation. The problem is that in the US there is a lot of ground to cover unlike many places in Europe. Something like high speed rail between cities would be great, but the costs are huge.

        The US economy is already in deep trouble; it's living on borrowed money, provided by China and other nations

        I agree totally. After 9/11 the gov. should've just let the US economy go through a recession and rebalance itself. Instead they lowered rates and China stepped in and started buying bonds so we ended up with a huge housing bubble and then the housing ATM. Eventually the recession that should've happened then will eventually come due.

        I used to really worry about China owning so much of the US debt, and how they had us by the balls until I realized we have them in nearly the same situation. If China were to dump all it's US debt and force our interest rates to sky rocket, basically crushing the US economy, it hurts them just as much. They are killing one of their biggest customers at that point. I guess they could just say screw it and do something like that anyways and play the odds that they come out ahead at the end of the day.
        • >I used to really worry about China owning so much of the US debt, and how they had us by the balls until I realized we
          >have them in nearly the same situation. If China were to dump all it's US debt and force our interest rates to sky rocket,
          >basically crushing the US economy, it hurts them just as much. They are killing one of their biggest customers at that
          >point. I guess they could just say screw it and do something like that anyways and play the odds that they come out ahead
          >at the end of
      • by gerf (532474) <edtgerf@gmail.com> on Friday April 14, 2006 @10:06AM (#15128945) Journal

        There is no evidence that cutting the levels of CO2 emissions would "devolve [the US] economy".

        Cool! Let's look at your logic, and play "follow the money"

        In fact, the opposite is far more plausible: the move to energy efficient technologies would spur new R&D, it would result in modernization of our transportation and manufacturing infrastructure,

        Yes, there would be vast capital expenditures to update many existing systems. But remember, "Follow the Money!" Where does updated transportation come from? Taxes, in some cases, and restrictions on vehicle emissions in others. Making vehicles or other equipment emit fewer emissions costs money in R&D, and manufacturing changes. Billions of dollars of overhead to attain the same performance, but with reduced carbon use.

        it would improve efficiency,

        Efficiency is not directly correlated to emissions. Though they're both ideals pushed for by environmentalists and conservationists, they often oppose each other.

        it would lessen dependence on foreign oil (thereby also reducing the need for military expenses),

        This is assuming the plan of action involves alternative fuel sources. Nuclear is an example of this, despite being controversial in itself, and possibly causing immense damage itself in the event of an unlikely accident.

        and it would create lots of new economic activity and jobs.

        True, new activity would be present. However, most of it would be because of higher overhead costs for companies. They then raise their prices to account for it, and inflation ensues. Also, higher energy costs hurt the little guy, even if he has kept his job this far.

        Pretty much the only people who lose are the big oil companies, some powerful US politicians, and the military.

        I disagree. Everyone suffers finacial losses when the government requires massive changes in the infrastructure of the country. BTW, how does the military lose? What the hell are you talking about.

        then India and China will probably be willing to agree to strong limits on their emissions.

        How naive. You're betting on the good will of a crackpot communist country, and a country that refuses to sign the nuke proliferation treaty. They don't care about carbon, they're just happy to be able to force us to give them jobs.

        I agree that it would be nice to cut carbon emissions. But the argument remains China/India/etc may be able to spend a minimal amount of money to reduce CO2 emissions, whereas the US may have to spend a substantial amount more to reduce emissions the same amount. But, the US would be required to, and the developing nations would not.

        Overall this would create an incentive for companies to move to developing nations. If you think your jobs are being outsourced now, you'd have another thing coming. And don't argue that it hasn't affected Europe; France is just showing an example of protectionist labor laws that exist in Europe.

        • Efficiency is not directly correlated to emissions. Though they're both ideals pushed for by environmentalists and conservationists, they often oppose each other.

          In most cases better efficiency results in fewer emmisions. This is true of almost any system. Why? Because running the system for the same amount of time now consumes less fuel and therefore expels fewer emissions. Explain to me how getting 40 mpg from your car does not result in less emissions than getting 20 mpg from your car assuming you're dr

      • by khallow (566160) on Friday April 14, 2006 @10:13AM (#15128984)
        There is no evidence that cutting the levels of CO2 emissions would "devolve [the US] economy". In fact, the opposite is far more plausible: the move to energy efficient technologies would spur new R&D, it would result in modernization of our transportation and manufacturing infrastructure, it would improve efficiency, it would lessen dependence on foreign oil (thereby also reducing the need for military expenses), and it would create lots of new economic activity and jobs. Pretty much the only people who lose are the big oil companies, some powerful US politicians, and the military.

        Why hasn't the US already switched away from oil? Because it's cheap compared to competitive technologies. Even adding in the war subsidy (a hundred or two billion dollars a year), I think you'd only add a dollar or so to the price of gas in the US (ignoring whether demand drops as a result). Also, despite all the talk of "modernizing" transportation, I have to side somewhat with the "peak oil" people here. I think a oil-based transportation infrastructure is more capable at current oil prices than the alternatives.

        The US economy is already in deep trouble; it's living on borrowed money, provided by China and other nations, while China, India, and other nations are already booming.

        Given that Japan and Europe which are far greener also suffer from the same problem, this indicates that the issue of national debt isn't related to oil consumption, but rather how governments borrow to fund regular spending.

        Furthermore, those other nations are rightfully arguing that it is not fair that the US has achieved its current economic strength by emitting carbon without restrictions and now they are supposed to limit their economies by not being allowed to emit equal amounts of carbon. But the solution is simple: everybody should pay for the carbon they have already emitted into the atmosphere; when such payments are set up, then India and China will probably be willing to agree to strong limits on their emissions.

        Then India and China should have chosen to be the advanced countries rather than be the ones catching up. China probably should get some slack since they are aggressively working on reducing their population.

      • by ScentCone (795499) on Friday April 14, 2006 @10:16AM (#15129011)
        everybody should pay for the carbon they have already emitted into the atmosphere

        Does that include all of the coal and wood that Europe burned for thousand+ years before they colonized North America? And, are you going to take into account the net increase in trees we plant in the US, as opposed the complete clear-cutting that's going on across all of Asia and Central/South America? How about countries that profit from exporting carbon to other places (say, Venezuela to China)? They're never going to burn as much as China, but their economy completely depends on it. I'd like to see the ledger sheet you've got in mind to take all of that, and the past emissions you refer to, into account. Oh... and "pay" to whom? At what rate? Do we pay (to whom, the UN?) for emissions 200 years ago at some rate equal to the per capita value of those emissions back then? Adjusted how, to current dollars? Do you adjust for changing life expectancy during those years? Please expand on that.
      • by Dachannien (617929) on Friday April 14, 2006 @10:24AM (#15129055)
        (thereby also reducing the need for military expenses), and it would create lots of new economic activity and jobs

        Okay, let me get this straight - public and private expenditure to meet environmental regulations is good for the economy, but public expenditure to maintain the military is bad for the economy? Military spending has historically been a big positive for the economy, as long as debt is properly managed. (Admittedly, the debt is certainly not being properly managed at the moment, but the drop in taxable income and the increase in public expenditure to meet new environmental regs wouldn't help that situation out any.)

        those other nations are rightfully arguing that it is not fair that the US has achieved its current economic strength by emitting carbon without restrictions and now they are supposed to limit their economies by not being allowed to emit equal amounts of carbon.

        If the intent of Kyoto is to help the environment, then fairness shouldn't enter into it. The reason why China and India support Kyoto now is that it gives them a huge comparative advantage over the US, by letting them continue to emit high levels of CO2 at the expense of the environment. The US gets demonized for opposing such an arrangement, while China and India (which are already heavy polluters, and which release far more CO2 per dollar GDP than the US or EU) are defended for supporting an agreement that not only benefits them economically, but also allows them to continue harming the environment.

        That's not fair. That's screwed up.

      • by Russ Nelson (33911) <slashdot@russnelson.com> on Friday April 14, 2006 @10:29AM (#15129088) Homepage
        There is no evidence that cutting the levels of CO2 emissions would "devolve [the US] economy". In fact, the opposite is far more plausible: the move to energy efficient technologies would spur new R&D,

        You *do* realize that you're pushing the broken window fallacy, right? I wouldn't want someone to attempt propaganda innocently.

    • by will_die (586523) on Friday April 14, 2006 @09:35AM (#15128759) Homepage
      It is even more meaningless. According to a scientist interviewed on NPR last week, who talked about localized glacier melting it, even if all humans on earth were to stop all emmisions the temperature would still increase by over 1 degree.
      • by The Fun Guy (21791) on Friday April 14, 2006 @11:23AM (#15129590) Homepage Journal
        I started drinking when this party first started.

        At first, I was just a little tipsy.

        Now, I am quite drunk.

        In fact, even though most of the other people at this party are also drunk, I am by far the drunkest (although the guys who just showed up are doing their best to catch up by sucking it down hard).

        If we all keep drinking, we will all get even more drunk, and we will eventually get into a fight when the keg runs low, fall down the stairs or otherwise hurt each other and probably trash this apartment.

        If we all agree to stop drinking right now, we will all still be quite drunk for quite some time.

        Even if we all agree to moderate our drinking to just maintain the buzz at its current level, I don't believe those guys when they say that they'll stop drinking if I do. They'll probably wait for me to stop, then keep hitting the keg when I'm not looking.

        There's only so much beer in the keg, so even if we all slow down our consumption, it will eventually run out.

        If somebody's going to get the beer, I want it to be me. I want mine while it lasts.

        Therefore...

        Where's my mug?
    • It's true, the US still consumes a disproportionate share of energy, epecially considering that we are outsourcing all our energy-intensive manufacturing to China. That's because oil is still way too cheap. There's no reason to optimize the use of a commodity that's cheap.

      As long as small-penised men are still buying Hummers and soccer moms are buying Expeditions, oil is too cheap. As long as business are saying, "Hey we just have to pay the increase and pass it along because it's the cost of doing business
    • translation: "refuses to devolve our economy"

      lol... Not to mention how much severe environmental problems would devolve your economy... :-p
  • by StevenHenderson (806391) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {nosrednehevets}> on Friday April 14, 2006 @09:19AM (#15128645)
    The US refuses to cut emissions and those of India and China are rising. Come on, now. Failure to sign Kyoto does not directly imply a direct refusal to cut emissions. It just prevents direct government support of such programs.

    Also, we are lucky to be in a country where being green is good for business. I can think of some companies [ge.com] that are making a pretty penny off cutting emissions and helping others to do so.

  • by Spud Stud (739387) on Friday April 14, 2006 @09:20AM (#15128655)
    Again.
  • by GWSuperfan (939629) <crwilson AT gwu DOT edu> on Friday April 14, 2006 @09:21AM (#15128666)
    ...is still just a guess. "A government report based on computer modeling..." So- a projection from the government based on a computer model says that this is what might happen if the global temperature were to rise 3 degrees. Of course, given that computer models are just themselves guesses about how the various systems that affect climate and weather interact anyway, I remain unimpressed. I'll be taking this with more than a grain of salt. Can someone pick me up a salt lick?
    • by Decaff (42676) on Friday April 14, 2006 @09:53AM (#15128882)
      ...is still just a guess. "A government report based on computer modeling..." So- a projection from the government based on a computer model says that this is what might happen if the global temperature were to rise 3 degrees. Of course, given that computer models are just themselves guesses about how the various systems that affect climate and weather interact anyway, I remain unimpressed. I'll be taking this with more than a grain of salt. Can someone pick me up a salt lick?

      I'm glad you are so confident. I am not. The models (the so-called 'guesses') have been developed and refined over decades, and based on data that goes back for millenia. Almost all scientific work is based on this sort of 'guess'.

      Even if you still label it a 'guess', surely you should be concerned that so many guesses from so many who have studied this matter are pointing in the same direction.

      • I think you need to check your facts "Decaff". That data that goes back for millenia is incomplete, and often "guessed". You see, ancient man didn't have modern instruments for tracking weather, even temperature so we don't really know with 100% accuracy what the weather was like in 1006. In fact, we can't be completely sure of what it was like in 1806 because THE RECORDS ARE INCOMPLETE. It's all guesswork. And contrary to what NPR would have you believe, not all scientists are in agreement on "global warm
  • So what's the big deal? We either reach a shortage of resources at 6-7-8 billion people, or we hit a shortage at 8-9-10 billion people. Running against the wall of finite natural resources will be just as painful, either way.
  • It seems to me that, while things like reducing carbon emissions and having meetings about global warming are nice, Japan [bbc.co.uk] and in fact all of Europe [bbc.co.uk] are having a hard time meeting their so-called "Targets." The fact remains that in the current world, you cannot maintain economic growth and at the same time reduce your carbon emissions to the levels they are talking about. The populace of the world would quickly put off global warming concerns if their unemployment went to 30% and their economies tanked. I
  • What's the point? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Luscious868 (679143) on Friday April 14, 2006 @09:22AM (#15128676)
    Climate change was occurring long before our species arrived here, has been occurring ever since, and will continue to occur long after we're gone. Are we contributing to it? Yes. Does it really matter in the end? No. There are forces at work here that are a lot bigger and lot more powerful than we are. Ultimately, our species is time limited on this planet anyway. Weather it is a large asteroid, nukes, the environment or the dieing sun, something is going to make this planet uninhabitable at some point. Let's spend less time fighting with each other and more time figuring out how we can get our species off of this lovely little rock and onto the next one because that's our only hope for survival in the end.
    • by Billosaur (927319) * <wgrotherNO@SPAMoptonline.net> on Friday April 14, 2006 @09:37AM (#15128778) Journal

      Climate change was occurring long before our species arrived here, has been occurring ever since, and will continue to occur long after we're gone. Are we contributing to it? Yes. Does it really matter in the end? No. There are forces at work here that are a lot bigger and lot more powerful than we are.

      From BBC News: The scientists making the predictions admit that the Earth's mechanisms are so complicated that their calculations are necessarily uncertain.

      This uncertainty has led critics to accuse them of either exaggerating the threats to the planet, or under-playing them.

      In the end, as I've said many times, we know how bits and pieces of things work, but we don't know how the system functions as a whole. This is very true in medicine, but especially true when it comes to climatology or any planetary science. Listen, you can take the base principles of physics, chemistry, etc. and create any kind of picture you want as to how a mechanism works, as long as it doesn't violate those principles. It doesn't mean you understand how the actual system works -- you only have a theory which happens to explain it in gross detail.

      Look at Venus: we know the CO2 level there is extremely high, that the planet is scorchingly hot and devoid of large amounts of water. We can extrapolate from that and from experiments here that the Greenhouse Effect may have caused current conditions there. We can further theorize that a similar catastrophe awaits us here if we don't do anything. The problem is, we don't know how Venus got that way, or really how long it has been like that. We haven't studied it in detail geologically, so we can't be certain that Venus hasn't always been like this.

      Yes, CO2 causes the Greenhouse Effect to trap more heat and raise global temperature. According to current theories, the Earth's biosphere has a mechanism for dealing with this, but of course that mechanism is affected by the things we do to it. It's folly to think we're having no effect on the climate, but it's also folly to say we're pushing it to the brink of catastrophe. The truth, as always, probably lies somewhere in the middle. I for one don't see the harm in reducing our CO2 emmissions; it seems like a sensible thing to do, given the fact that we have technologies available that could eliminate our need to use fossil fuels. We really don't need a debate over climate change to see that this is a good idea on general principles.

  • The problem with Kyoto is that many in the US saw it as unfair. Imagine if someone did a study that showed that internet usage was linked to obesity. So they want to pass a law that curbs internet use. Under this law, slashdot users, who are on the internet 15 hours a day, they need to cut their usage down to 5 hours. But meanwhile people who spend their time on ebay and click on banner adds, so they only spend 4 hours a day online, they don't have to cut down at all. And even worse, your little brothe
    • by ezavada (91752) on Friday April 14, 2006 @10:16AM (#15129009)
      Imagine if someone did a study that showed that internet usage was linked to obesity.

      This is an extremely flawed analogy, because the harm (obesity) falls on the actor (the internet user). Whereas with global climate change, the harm falls on everyone. A better example would be if pouring chemicals into the groundwater were linked to increased cancer rates in anyone who drank water. Strangely enough, the people affected in those cases tend to get upset and bring lawsuits that are extremely costly to the perpetrators. In some cases it's even outright illegal. That sounds fair to me.
    • The problem with Kyoto is that many in the US saw it as unfair.

      I see the problem as being that it will destroy our economy AND THEN after we've reduced our carbon emissions and delayed global warming by ONE YEAR, we won't be able to afford to deal with the INEVITABLE damage from global warming.

      Kyoto was stupid. Just because some idiots ratified it, that doesn't make it any less stupid. As your mother probably said to you, "Just because the other kids are jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge, you think that mea
    • That's a very interesting point you make, and I'd like to rant on a couple of tangents:

      1.) Very interesting that you mention obesity. I just ran through my mind the ways that obesity influence our society's use of energy
      - eat more food which creates demand for more water to feed crop and animals and gas for shipping that food and restaurants and stores that distribute it.
      - weigh more which causes tons of problems (no pun intended) - cars use more power to transport obese people, elevators u
  • by King_TJ (85913) on Friday April 14, 2006 @09:25AM (#15128693) Journal
    Since we know our supplies of fossil fuels are reaching depletion, has anyone actually tried calculating the total amount of future "damage" possible to do by burning all of what's feasibly left to use?

    It seems to me that most of the people spreading fear of global warming trends are acting as if, without new legislation and drastic changes, we'll keep on creating this pollution indefinitely.

    In reality, it seems to me that once gas prices rise to only another $2-3 per gallon (due to demand outstripping supply), the motivation will be there for some serious change anyway. The most likely alternatives for power generation are things like nuclear plants, and for cars, maybe hydrogen - which would nullify most of these concerns.
    • by MyNameIsFred (543994) on Friday April 14, 2006 @09:48AM (#15128841)
      Since we know our supplies of fossil fuels are reaching depletion...
      For as long as I can remember, and I am no youngster, fossil fuels have been on the verge of depletion. I can remember in college being shown predictions from before my birth that we were going to run out of fossil fuels in one or two decades. The point my college professor was trying to make was they we have a very poor idea of how much fossil fuel remains.

      In a similar vein, as prices go up, more expensive options open up. Do a Google on oil sands or shale oil. More expensive options than Saudi oil, but lots of fossil fuel remains.

      My point in all of this is that your hypothesis that we are on the verge of depleting fossil fuels is probably incorrect.

      Now watch me get hammered with strawman arguments that I am a Bushie with his head in the sand. Or that I don't believe in global warming. All which is untrue, but watch... :-)

  • Numbers (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 1000101 (584896) on Friday April 14, 2006 @09:27AM (#15128703)
    "a 3C rise would cause a drop worldwide of between 20 and 400 million tonnes in cereal crops"

    A little more accuracy might help their cause. Those numbers are laughable.
  • What about Canada? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LWATCDR (28044) on Friday April 14, 2006 @09:27AM (#15128704) Homepage Journal
    Canada actually consumes more energy per person than the US and also produces more CO2 per person.
    Simple question is why wasn't Canada mentioned?
    I am all for the US reducing Green house emissions. I think that we should start building a lot more nuclear power plants, use as much bio diesel as is practical, use solar where practical, and wind in the few areas where that makes sense.
    • by nursegirl (914509) on Friday April 14, 2006 @09:46AM (#15128824) Journal
      Part of it is that Canada has signed Kyoto, and we're being blasted by ads every day to join the "one tonne challenge" and decrease each individual's greenhouse gas emissions by one tonne. The government also has put a number of financial incentives in place (home retrofit grants, free vehicle inspection clinics) to encourage people to reduce their greenhouse gases.

      I don't know that it will work - there are a lot of cultural and socioeconomic factors that haven't been addressed. Also, right now the legislation governing corporate pollution is ludicrous. But, Canada doesn't get mentioned in these things because we look like the "good guys" because we signed Kyoto.

      • by heli0 (659560) on Friday April 14, 2006 @10:14AM (#15128998)
        "Canada doesn't get mentioned in these things because we look like the "good guys" because we signed Kyoto."

        http://www.canada.com/topics/news/national/story.h tml?id=2bb92ea7-3bb2-4826-a62e-7637bebb1323&k=5302 4 [canada.com]
        Under the Kyoto treaty, Canada is committed to a six per cent cut in emissions from 1990 levels by 2012. Yet emissions have risen by 30 per cent. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said the target is impossible to meet.


        Would the US also get a pass if we ratified this treaty and then completely ignored it?

        • Probably not (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Sycraft-fu (314770)
          One of the disadvantages of being the big kid on the block is the spotlight is always on you, and people always criticize your actions. Many nations signed Kyoto with no intention of really doing what it takes to cut their emissions. The problem is, there's no teeth behind it. You essentially walk on the treaty at any time with no repercussions. There's no sancations, no fines, etc, you just walk on it. They figure, correctly so, that it probably won't be major news. However, the US is major news because, w
  • Ah yes, a "government report based on computer modelling". Because we all know computers never make mistakes right? Let's just not mention the boatload of assumptions necessary to pull off a weather/food/hunger/thirst/death model. It will work as perfectly as the computer 's weather model in "The Day After Tomorrow". Its just a really fancy spreadsheet.

    And I love how America "refuses" to cut its emissions, yet China and India's emissions are simply growing. Why wasn't it written that they, too refuse to cut
  • by Rob T Firefly (844560) on Friday April 14, 2006 @09:34AM (#15128748) Homepage Journal
    My family in the suburbs will finally have that waterfront house they've always wanted, and they won't even have to move.
  • Doesn't matter (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gorbachev (512743) on Friday April 14, 2006 @09:38AM (#15128784) Homepage
    [paraphrasing the mentality of much of the industrial world]

    I'm rich, I'll survive. Who cares about all those poor people abroad.
    • does matter (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Russ Nelson (33911)
      But it does matter. Feel free to argue that the rich are only interested in themselves (that's bullshit, of course, but go ahead and make the argument if it makes you happy). But after you've reduced your carbon emissions, good people like yourself will have less money to help the poor (who are, as you point out, the ones who will truly suffer -- but that's the case whether global warming happens or not).

      The real question here is this inequality: $(global warming damage with carbon reduction) - $(cost of
  • by The-Bus (138060) on Friday April 14, 2006 @09:47AM (#15128831)
    As a perpetual optimist, I prefer to see this news not as a harbinger of devastation to the world's food supply, but rather as a wake-up call. A wake-up call to buy corn, wheat, and rice futures!

    And you know what? You don't even have to bother dealing with the pesky Chicago Board of Trade. While bread goes bad pretty quickly, saltines last for a long time, as does flour. But why go the boring route?

    Common breakfast cereals last for a year at least; also, if you buy now, they come with adorable Ice Age: The Meltdown(TM) toy which, down the road, will really make the irony sting. For example, once the famine sets in, you'll be amassing great wealth from selling $45 boxes of Corn Pops to the stupid starving masses who lacked your foresight. Then, as they finish eating their precious sugared grain pellets they will find an Ice Age toy at the bottom of the box. This mere bauble will become a caustic and bitter reminder of the witless folly that created the famine (and your fortune) in the first place.

    So it's win/win!

  • by RingDev (879105) on Friday April 14, 2006 @09:54AM (#15128888) Homepage Journal
    "a 3C rise would cause a drop worldwide of between 20 and 400 million tonnes in cereal crops"

    And a 3C rise would open up vast un(der)farmed plains in the northern Mid-West and Canada. Yeah, some currently farmed areas would have significant problems, others would likely see it as a huge benefit. And from what I've heard on climate change, it's not likely that the entire Earth is going to heat up. It's much more likely that some places will get hotter, and others colder as water currents and wind patterns change.

    -Rick
  • The deuce you say?! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by argStyopa (232550) on Friday April 14, 2006 @10:17AM (#15129014) Journal
    Computer models predict it? COMPUTER models? Head for the hills!

    Oh wait, there's a little principle called GIGO that's been with us for ages:
    Table 6.1 of Chapter 6 in Houghton et al 1996 (Kattenberg et al., Projections of Future Climate) gives a range of --0.8 C to -1.6C as the calculated temperature reduction during the last century due to sulphate aerosols. Since this represented 29% of the warming to doubling of carbon dioxide, the range of adjustment to the climate sensitivity for 100% warming (climate sensitivity) if the effects of aerosols increase at the same rate, is -2.8C to -5.5C. The adjusted IPCC climate sensitivity range now becomes -4.0C to +1.7C, with the "Best Estimate" in the range -3.0C to -0.3C. The range covers the established "Best Fit" value of 0.8C ± 0.6C, but, this time, at the upper end of the calculated range. The range places predominance on negative predicted values of climate sensitivity.

    From http://www.john-daly.com/bull-123.htm [john-daly.com] :
    The IPCC, in Chapter 6 of Climate Change 1995 (Kattenberg et al) make two alternative assumptions for the future behaviour of sulphate aerosols for their future projections to 2100. One assumes a moderate continued increase in aerosols and the other that aerosol values will remain constant at 1990 levels,. If it is assumed that aerosols remain constant up to the doubling of carbon dioxide, then the modifications to the range of climate sensitivity are -0.8C to -1.6C, giving a revised IPCC range of -0.1C to +3.7C, with a "Best Estimate" at 0.9C to -1.7C. This time the "Best Estimate" almost equals the "Best Fit" from the temperature data, at its lower end. The IPCC avoids admitting that the models can predict a zero temperature change or a temperature drop by selecting a figure for the sulphate aerosol effect which is above the extreme high figure, for the future predictions.


    So essentially the 'models' 'predicting' global warming actually only predict climate CHANGE (wow, surprising to anybody?), and bias upward when the base assumptions predict inputs far outside the high-extremes observed so far.

    RIGHT.

    All I can say is that it must be a bloody disaster, if New York city's temperatures were to rise in 100 years....to almost the level they were 180 years ago: http://www.junkscience.com/MSU_Temps/425725030010. 2.1.gif [junkscience.com]

    New York Times 1956: "ICE AGE PREDICTED IN GLACIER STUDY"
    1968: "NEW STUDIES POINT TO ICE AGE AGAIN"
    1933: "America in Longest Warm Spell Since 1776"
    Sept. 14, 1975 NYT editorial: global cooling "may mark the return to another ice age," that "a major cooling of the climate is widely considered inevitable" and that it was "well established" that the Northern Hemisphere's climate "has been getting cooler since about 1950."
  • by jmichaelg (148257) on Friday April 14, 2006 @11:20AM (#15129548) Journal
    It's not just Freeman, but a lot of other scientists [canada.com] have problems with Kyoto. Their letter includes this comment:
    Observational evidence does not support today's computer climate models, so there is little reason to trust model predictions of the future.
    But heck, Edward Lorenz [exploratorium.edu] knew that back in the early 60's. He found that even simple non-linear models produce unpredictable output. Adding complexities to attempt to model the real world just aggravates the underlying modeling problem. Those of you who think computer models can see far into the future would be well served by reading his paper [allenpress.com] in which he writes:
    When our results concerning the instability of nonperiodic flow are applied to the atmosphere, which is ostensibly nonperiodic, they indicate that predictions of the sufficiently distant future is impossible by any method, unless the present conditions are known exactly. In view of the incompleteness of weather observations, precise very-long range forecasting would seem to be non-existent.
    It's worth noting that not one climate model that doesn't incorporate climate data from 1960 on has autonomously forecast the climate since 1960. And yet we have folks telling us what the next century is going to look like.

  • by tota (139982) on Friday April 14, 2006 @11:24AM (#15129599) Homepage
    In 10+ years of slashdot reading, I don't think I have ever read so many pathetic posts for one story!
    Here are some of the best quotes:

    1) Dozens of posts about how unfair it is to let China and India polute so much. Funny that one, since we are talking about a cumulative effect, anyone care to calculate the total polution per capita since the industrial revolution? Hint: China has only just started and has more inhabitants than Europe and the USA put together. Their (mostly poor) citizens are the most likely to suffer from our (western-made) polution.
    But any excuse to blame it on others when you do/don't want to make a difficult decision works for some leaders.

    2) "...absurd Kyoto Protocol..."
    "..America would have to shrink it's economy.."
    "..you cannot maintain economic growth and at the same time reduce your carbon.."
    "..Countries in Europe are also failing to meet their targets.."
    "..the Kyoto Accords are a socialist mandate.."
    We have some Fox-news specialists at hand here, great!
    FYI: this story was not about America or capitalism. Oh, and some other economies have done quite well at reducing emissions whilst maintaining growth. Never mind.
    We haven't found a perfect solution to an imperfect world, so let's do nothing and keep burning it. That makes sense.
    Keep putting your head in the sand until you can't get out - no-one will hear you when the water rushes in!

    3) "3C isn't that bad". Right, this is the most clueless one. As if we can just ride this or hope that we develop the technology to correct it in time. 3C average on the scale of the earth is gigantic. This is just a question of scale: how big is the Earth compared to your living room? How much energy does it take to warm (or cool) 1 cubic meter of water (1 ton)? How many tons are we talking about? Google around.

    4) "The models are wrong" or "There are forces at work here that are a lot bigger and lot more powerful than we are" (...): implying that either the problem is not real or that the Earth ecosystem has been adapting for billions of years and will continue to do so. Maybe so, but the fact is that the last time on record there was a dramatic climate shift was when the dinosaurs went extinct. Dinosaurs are so 'last extinction event', we are so much more clever.
    I won't try to pretend that we know for sure that the situation is just as serious, but all the signs are there.

    5) Random:
    (warming) "...more favorable to the growing of fruits and vegetables. Good for everyone"
    "..would open up vast un(der)farmed plains in the northern Mid-West and Canada"
    Silly me! Let's launch a 'freedom to polute' site.

    "..African nations where slaughter of their own population is commonplace..." (as an excuse for not doing it here either)

    "...it is simply just a natural phenomenon like the Northern Lights."
    (someone who needs to do a bit more reading)

    "This data is being supressed by hysterical, global-warming cultists, like those found frequenting Slashdot"
    The good old conspriacy theories. There aren't any good slashdot stories without one of them.

    "So essentially the 'models' 'predicting' global warming actually only predict climate CHANGE"
    We are screwing with the climate but it could go either way. Well, here is the news: either way is bad. Any drastic change is bad, and that is what the data suggests.

    Summary: lots of posts not making any sense and most of them using some off-topic reason for not doing anything.
    • 1) China has only just started and has more inhabitants than Europe and the USA put together. Their (mostly poor) citizens are the most likely to suffer from our (western-made) polution.

      Either pollution is a problem, or it isn't. It's not just a problem for some people on earth, and not for others. If you contend that Global Warming is 'catastrophic' doesn't it seem pedantic to then say "But those guys over there should get a chance to pollute since they haven't had their turn yet." WTF?
      China and India do
  • by Kipper the Llama (454021) on Friday April 14, 2006 @12:38PM (#15130249)

    It's important to remember that global temperatures have been much colder and much warmer than they are now in the past 100 million years--I figure that a the most recent ~2.2% of Earth's history is a good enough starting point for us. Furthermore, if we look at the Sloss [cratonic] sequences, there's been a vast variation in sea level during that time, also. A common rebuttal to pointing this out is that our current climate change is happening at an "above average" rate. However, these models assume a gradualist model of climate change. Furthermore, there is no reason--given human records--to assume climactic gradualism based on the principle of uniformitarianism. Also there is good paleoclimatic evidence for drastic, relatively sudden shifts before [http://www.whoi.edu/institutes/occi/currenttopics /climatechange_wef.html%5D [whoi.edu].



    From the "next Ice Age" scare of the 70's, to the billions-dead famines predicted for the 80's, environmental groups have relied on pseudo-science and scare tactics to effect policy change. Current climate change is not monolithic--global temperatures fell slightly in the 1990s, and for another example last year's unusually warm Atlantic Ocean was accompanied by an unusually cool Pacific. Furthermore, CO2 levels are only weakly correlated to climate change in the paleoclimate record.



    In any case, I've had my geologist rant out.

    • Incorrect (Score:3, Informative)

      by geekoid (135745)
      Glaciers are melting faster then predicted in the 70's, and the oceans are warming faster then predicted in the 70's. Substantially faster.

      I am talking about peer reviewed published papers, not the scare published in the dying years of OMNI.

      Yes, both oceans are osilating wilder then predicted, but the average hasn't changed much. Why? well, becasue it is an average. If one goes up 3 degrees and the other down 3 degress that a huge change. Guess what the everage is? exactly the same.

      CO2 levels are STRONGLY r
  • Bullshit Alert (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Yonder Way (603108) on Friday April 14, 2006 @01:33PM (#15130829)
    "The US refuses to cut emissions"

    This is a very typical method used to win someone over to your side. Take a nugget of truth and twist it until it barely resembles the original fact.

    The fact is that the United States has refused to sign onto the Kyoto protocols.

    The other fact is that US auto makers are furious with the Bush administration for recent increases in demands on SUV fuel economy.

    The US has not refused to cut emissions. The US has been, and continues to push forward with emissions controls by its own sovereign processes.

    I will probably be modded down for being an American now.
  • by Spasmodeus (940657) on Friday April 14, 2006 @05:05PM (#15132673)
    All the alarmism about global warming, and also about "peak oil" [peakoil.org] has had me worried lately. But suddenly I realized there's nothing to worry about!

    When we run out of oil in twenty years, we'll stop producing greenhouse gasses, and global warming will be abated!

    Problem solved!
  • by rdean400 (322321) on Friday April 14, 2006 @05:36PM (#15132852)
    Saying that the U.S. refuses to cut greenhouse emissions is ignorant. Presumably it's based on the U.S.'s refusal to join the Kyoto Protocols over fears of competitive imbalance (e.g., several fast-growing economies wouldn't be party to the protocol as "developing nations"). That's not the same.

    I don't necessarily agree with the U.S. position, but I think any discussion about policy should require a fundamental sense of honesty that is missing from statements like the "U.S. refuses to cut greenhouse emissions."
  • by syukton (256348) on Friday April 14, 2006 @07:03PM (#15133282)
    I've often wondered about the actual heat impact of all our combustion engines expelling hot exhaust gases into the atmosphere. Nevermind the progressive warming caused by heat trapped under a layer of greenhouse gases, I'm talking about the mere fact that automobile exhaust, jet exhaust, and other internal-combustion engine exhausts are just plain hot. Does that make a difference? Also, we're changing the albedo of the earth every time we cut down a forest or build a new highway...how does that figure into global warming? Does the heat transfer between hot asphalt and the air amount to any measurable quantity which we could attribute at least partially to global warming? Would we be better off if we had white roads with black lines? Seriously, anyone have any idea about these questions?
  • Fucked up FUD (Score:3, Insightful)

    by M0b1u5 (569472) on Friday April 14, 2006 @09:26PM (#15133788) Homepage
    This is so funny: plugging information that is just wrong, into computer models that are nothing but guesses, and massaging the results until they meet your "OMG PONIES!!!11 We're all going to fry" scenario.

    Not only dot we not understand our climate, we can't measure it properly, can't even tell what it was like in the past (with accuracy) and so far can't MAKE EVEN A SINGLE ACCURATE FUTURE PREDICTION. Oh but wait, that's right, 3 Degrees C will kill us all.

    *SIGH*

    Wake me in a hundred years someone please.

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