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Global Warming Debunked? 1120

Posted by kdawson
from the concensus-or-what? dept.
limbicsystem writes, "I'm a scientist. I like Al Gore. I donate to the Sierra club, I bicycle everywhere and I eat granola. And I just read a very convincing article in the UK Telegraph that makes me think that the 'scientific consensus' on global warming is more than a little shaky. Now IANACS (I am not a climate scientist). And the Telegraph is notoriously reactionary. Can anyone out there go through this piece and tell me why it might be wrong? Because it seems to be solid, well researched, and somewhat damning of a host of authorities (the UN, the editors of Nature, the Canadian Government) who seem to have picked a side in the global warming debate without looking at the evidence." The author of the Telegraph piece is Christopher Monckton, a retired journalist and former policy advisor to Margaret Thatcher.
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Global Warming Debunked?

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  • by dammy (131759) on Monday November 06, 2006 @04:14PM (#16740091)
    http://www.junkscience.com/ [junkscience.com] is always a good place to read.

    Dammy
  • by FhnuZoag (875558) on Monday November 06, 2006 @04:33PM (#16740419)
    A bunch of errors leap up from a random scan.

    Hansen's testimony to congress: Hansen presented three graphs, giving three possible scenarios of future events. The 0.3 (in fact, 0.45 C) claim comes from Scenario A.

    http://www.cato.org/testimony/images/pm072998a.gif [cato.org]

    But the fact that it is called Scenario A is because there are also scenario B and C. A is a 'business as usual' scenario, involving exponential growth in emissions. What happened since 1988 was nothing like that. If anything, industrialisation declined in the West, creating a situation closer to B and C - moderate controls to emissions.

    http://www.giss.nasa.gov/edu/gwdebate/00fig1.gif [nasa.gov]

    It's not like this is secret information. NASA itself has discussed this.

    The objective was to illustrate the broad range of possibilities in the ignorance of how forcings would actually develop. The extreme scenarios (A with fast growth and no volcanos, and C with terminated growth of greenhouse gases) were meant to bracket plausible rates of change.


    By quoting this assertion, the author of this article has shown that he is either deliberately deceptive, or has not looked at all of the evidence. Don't listen to the regurgitated rants of this non-expert.
  • by Macthorpe (960048) on Monday November 06, 2006 @04:37PM (#16740497) Journal
    I'm hoping that was a joke, because I thought it was fairly common knowledge (amongst those interested in this kind of thing, anyway) that JunkScience is maintained by someone in the employ of ExxonMobil and Philip Morris, a Mr. Steven Milloy, who also works for Fox News. Hardly a neutral point of view, or an authoritative source.

    There are plenty more reputable sources to find your debunkings, most of them far preferable than "JunkScience".
  • by alex_guy_CA (748887) <.moc.tdlefneohcs. .ta. .xela.> on Monday November 06, 2006 @04:39PM (#16740539) Homepage
    I am a global warming believer. I personally have been concerened about the possibility of global warming since the 80's. A good site on the subject is http://gristmill.grist.org/skeptics [grist.org] It contains a complete listing of the articles in "How to Talk to a Climate Skeptic," a series by Coby Beck containing responses to the most common skeptical arguments on global warming. There are four separate taxonomies; arguments are divided by: * Stages of Denial, * Scientific Topics, * Types of Argument, and * Levels of Sophistication.
  • by Mateo_LeFou (859634) on Monday November 06, 2006 @04:42PM (#16740601) Homepage
    ..which is generally pretty levelheaded:

    "Sir Nicholas may well err on the gloomy side. And it is certainly impossible to predict precisely what effect climate change will have had on the world economy in a century's time. But neither point invalidates Sir Nicholas's central perception -- that governments should act not on the basis of the likeliest outcome from climate change but on the risk of something really catastrophic..."
  • Re:My Two Cents (Score:5, Informative)

    by Jeremy Erwin (2054) on Monday November 06, 2006 @04:45PM (#16740669) Journal
  • Re:probably but (Score:3, Informative)

    by Wah (30840) on Monday November 06, 2006 @04:49PM (#16740773) Homepage Journal
    actually...

    What if the increased temperature is driving more CO2 [in] the atmosphere

    This actually happens, as the increase in temperature causing ground soil to give up more C02. This is why it is an accelerating trend. That trend ends at Venus.
  • So many lies. (Score:5, Informative)

    by FhnuZoag (875558) on Monday November 06, 2006 @04:52PM (#16740869)
    Let's carry on debunking this debunkation, then.

    First, the UN implies that carbon dioxide ended the last four ice ages. It displays two 450,000-year graphs: a sawtooth curve of temperature and a sawtooth of airborne CO2 that's scaled to look similar. Usually, similar curves are superimposed for comparison.


    Yes, but where did the UN actually say that CO2 ended the ice ages? How is the author reading their minds? Such a view would certainly be contrary to must of mainstream science, of course, so where's the evidence that the author isn't setting up a strawman?

    The Co2 graphs show the reliability of ice core CO2 data as a proxy for finding out historical temperature levels, and also the potential for positive feedback effects if temperatures rise. They give an idea as to the sensitivity of the situation to perturbations.

    They gave one technique for reconstructing pre-thermometer temperature 390 times more weight than any other (but didn't say so).


    So how does the author know, then?

    They used a computer model to draw the graph from the data, but scientists later found that the model almost always drew hockey-sticks even if they fed in random, electronic "red noise".


    This is pure and simply a lie. It's a lie, because all of these critics have ever show is the tendency for hockey sticks in PV01. But PV01 is a certain statistical consequence that is not the same as the actual reconstruction. Studies searching for the hockey stick tendency in the full reconstruction have come up with nothing, because there are other components in the full reconstruction that cancel out the first term.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/graphics/2006/11/0 5/nwarm05.gif [telegraph.co.uk]

    This graph is comparing apples to oranges. The top graph is a global temperature anomaly graph. The bottom is the temperature of a relatively small continent, dominated by a warm ocean current. One is a average data over the world, and the other is strongly affected by local effects - such as the medieval warm period. The top graph is what global warming is talking about. The bottom graph is not relevant to the debate at all.

    You don't need computer models to "find" lambda. Its value is given by a century-old law, derived experimentally by a Slovenian professor and proved by his Austrian student (who later committed suicide when his scientific compatriots refused to believe in atoms). The Stefan-Boltzmann law, not mentioned once in the UN's 2001 report, is as central to the thermodynamics of climate as Einstein's later equation is to astrophysics.


    From wikipedia:
    The Stefan-Boltzmann law, also known as Stefan's law, states that the total energy radiated per unit surface area of a black body in unit time (known variously as the black-body irradiance, energy flux density, radiant flux, or the emissive power), j*, is directly proportional to the fourth power of the black body's thermodynamic temperature T (also called absolute temperature):


    Stefan Boltzmann applies to a perfect blackbody. The Earth is not a perfect blackbody. In fact, not alot of things are. Doesn't it seem wrong to say that energy exposure always raises temperature to the same degree regardless of the object?

    And so on and so forth.
  • by grcumb (781340) on Monday November 06, 2006 @05:14PM (#16741427) Homepage Journal
    The Canadian government changed. And scrapped the previous government's policy. Actions speak louder than words.

    The policy changed because the party that took power gets most of its wealth from its Alberta base. This province's economy is entirely driven by resource extraction, especially oil revenues. The leading strategists of the Conservative party come straight from the US neo-con fold. The influence of Straussian thought is remarkably strong, because their lead strategist (who cut his teeth contesting indigenous land rights) actually studied under Levi Strauss at the University of Chicago, then took a professor-ship there for years. The right-wing, corporate industrialist agenda is to debunk climate change data in order to block moves that would affect their hegemony. It's perfectly understandable, but don't for a minute believe that it has anything to do with science, or even common sense.

    If you meant to imply that there is consensus in Canada concerning this policy turn-around, perhaps you could explain why the New Democratic Party threatened to topple the minority government unless the Clean Air Act was sent back to committee for readjustment.

    The recent policy change has nothing to do with science, and everything to do with the political imperatives driving the Conservative party. And that is exactly what the submitter should be considering, too: when it comes to debunking Climate Change, qui bono? Who benefits from this kind of attack?

  • by Malc (1751) on Monday November 06, 2006 @05:14PM (#16741439)
    The actions by the new government in Canada don't speak anything about climate change. They do speak a lot about the backing of the Conservative Party of Canada: Alberta and the oil companies. Think they want to promote the Kyoto Protocol and/or reductions in energy usage? Then there's the kow-towing to the auto industry in Ontario *sigh* That's s not even talking about how excessive and wasteful Canadians are with energy consumption (far more per capita than even Americans) - nice graph in fact about this in today's or Saturday's Globe and Mail in an article about California and their energy policies.
  • Re:My Two Cents (Score:5, Informative)

    by Coryoth (254751) on Monday November 06, 2006 @05:19PM (#16741547) Homepage Journal
    Since this is science, that information *should* be publicly available somewhere.

    There are vast amounts of data available from the NOAA [noaa.gov], from tree rings, to coral, to pollen, to ice cores, complete with search engines and mapping systems to help you locate the dataset you want. All of it is freely available for download and analysis. As for modelling - a quick search pulled up this page [ucar.edu] which provides R [r-project.org] code for the MBH graph. Feel free to grab that, check their assumptions, and redo whatever you wish.
  • by Ruff_ilb (769396) on Monday November 06, 2006 @05:27PM (#16741727) Homepage
    I was just ready to mod, but your comment caught my eye.

    There are several things to this:

    A) Reducing emissions doesn't mean an overall reduction in green house gasses - it just means a reduction in the rate of increase. So we're still increasing the amount of greenhouse gasses, just at a slower rate.

    B) The environment doesn't turn around that fast; it probably takes longer than 30 or so years for our efforts to have a noticible effect.

    C) Our measurement systems might not be precise enough to account for any differences, even if they did happen. AFAIK, a lot of the evidence comes from really old-school ice-core samples from a long time ago. Now, it's hard to prove a correlation (much less causation) with only 30 years of data, however precise. Climatologists are much more worried about (and, thus, I think, do more research about) trends spanning at least a century.
  • by HappySqurriel (1010623) on Monday November 06, 2006 @05:38PM (#16742025)
    there's absolutely no upside to telling Americans that dumping tons of pollutants into the atmosphere is going to have a bad effect

    I would actually disagree with this because (for the most part) we have a gigantic media circus that works by making sure everyone is too afraid to not watch the news (or read the newspaper) that will make you "famous" if you play into their fears; this strategy has existed for decades with the world being on the "brink of destruction" whether the threat was from Nuclear Weapons or Global Warming. Rational voices are usually silenced in favour of more radical messages to increase ratings and readership.

    Now, there have been several pieces of evidence that bring into question the conclusion that "Humans are causing global warming" that have not been brought to public attention because they're in a field that requires much stronger proof than climate science does. The most damaging piece of evidence I have seen is that the cycles of heating and cooling are directly related to sunspot activity (the greater the sunspot activity the warmer the earth is) even though the irradiant energy arriving from the sun to the earth doesn't change; currently the sun is at a historic high for sunspot activity (historic from studying it for ~400 years). Even though we see this relationship (which could explain global warming) it can not be published until we understand why it would influence the temperature of the earth; is the electromagnetic energy from the sunspots doing something to the atmosphere that allows the irradiant energy to reach the earth more effectively?

    Have you ever heard of the connection between sunspots and global temperature? Was this because the science isn't strong enough or because it is a more moderate explanation of global warming?
  • Re:So many lies. (Score:5, Informative)

    by The_Wilschon (782534) on Monday November 06, 2006 @05:40PM (#16742077) Homepage
    Stefan Boltzmann applies to a perfect blackbody. The Earth is not a perfect blackbody. In fact, not alot of things are. Doesn't it seem wrong to say that energy exposure always raises temperature to the same degree regardless of the object?
    IAAPhysicist, and I can tell you that the Stefan-Boltzmann law applies quite well to an awful lot of things, even though they are not perfect blackbodies. For a perfect blackbody, the Stefan-Boltzmann law is exactly right. For most other things, it is a quite good approximation. The earth is far closer to a perfect blackbody than you might expect.
  • by Trails (629752) on Monday November 06, 2006 @05:46PM (#16742257)
    If there was a globat greenhouse effect, we should see temperature rises in data from pretty much anywhere in the world. This is not the case. There are plenty of data sets from different parts of the world that show either a flat line or a decrease...
    there are some pockets where drastic temperature increases are seen... urbanization of an area increases its temperature.
    Hmmm, you seem to be contradicting yourself.

    At first you claim that all locations must follow the trend, or they invalidate the trend. Then you allow for location-specific reasons of temperature increases. It swings both ways.

    If one is trying to demonstrate the greenhouse effect, one would expect to see a general trend towards higher temperatures. However, deviation from this trend at some locations in the world does not invalidate the theory of the trend.

    As you point out a cause for location-specific temperature increase(urbanisation), there could also be causes for location-specific temperature decreases that are unrelated to or even caused by a general global trend towards higher temperatures. For example, rising global temp -> higher water levels for a given area -> more % of surface covered by water -> less light absorbed -> lower temp in immediate area.
  • by arpk4n3 (919729) on Monday November 06, 2006 @07:03PM (#16743829)
    Agreed. Anyone who says that greenhouse gas emissions are decreasing: you are utterly out of touch with reality. In the next five years, the United States and Europe will fall to #3 and #4 in terms of coal burning (a large source of greenhouse gases) behind India and China, who are INCREASING their use of fossil fuels--China is sitting on a reserve of coal and is burning it...fast. The article is both wrong and right. Global warming exists, but only in a certain fashion...calling what's happening with Earth's climate 'global warming' is a bit convoluted. Look up the current theory of Climate Change (NOTE: NOT global warming) that is essentially a cybernetic system between cooling and warming. Global warming is influenced (and induced) by a rise in greenhouse gases (CO2, SOx, NOx, H20, etc) and the earth's greenhouse effect; these are shadowed by what is now known as Global Dimming, which is essentially the cooling of the atmosphere due to particulate pollutants. The small particle emissions (from fossil fuel burning, for example) create vapors and clouds in the atmosphere that, rather than absorbing light, like unaffected clouds, REFLECTS light from the atmosphere, thus resulting in the cooling effect some areas are seeing. So no, kids, the problem isn't simply switching to hydrogen-powered cars or reducing particle pollution--that results in the devastating heatwave in Europe during the summer of 2003 that led to the deaths of 20,000 people in Italy and 10,000 in France. By reducing particle emissions to reduce respiratory illness, we are inadvertently creating an entirely accelerated set of problems... This stuff is fairly new, and most policy makers are utterly unaware of it. Human-influnced climate change isn't new...(mesopotamia was once called the 'fertile crescent')
  • More debunkation. (Score:5, Informative)

    by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Monday November 06, 2006 @07:15PM (#16744009)
    You started well, so I'll just stick to what I know.

    * Monckton mentions that there is a direct correlation between number of sunspots and grain prices falling, attributing it to the fact that more sunspots mean that the sun is hotter. Actually, that's wrong. Sunspots are cooler regions on the surface of the sun (3800 K vs 5400K on the rest of the surface), which means that the sun is actually radiating *less* energy in the visible and infrared spectrum. So his entire point completely falls apart with this basic item of astrophysics.

    * Monckton categorically states that the temperature of the oceans has decreased, without using sources. From what I know though, temperatures have increased. Can't find a bullet proof link for it (was looking for NOAA timelines, but no luck), but you can use coral-reef die-offs as a good proxy. There was also a lot of hubbub when people tried to tie the increase in surface temperature of the Gulf of Mexico to the increased strength and number of Hurricanes that hit the US coast.

    These are the two things that I categorically to be false. As for the rest of his arguments, they lack the data support I would expect from a debunking report. For example, why exactly did the ICCP remove the old temperature graph that showed in extreme fashion the warm and cold periods of the middle-ages? Besides, the temperature differences are still there - they are just not as blatant as before. There are also his 10 points which he thinks needs to be proven for Global Climate Change to be true, and what he thinks of them. Point 1 is a nice straw man, as someone pointed out already. Point 3 is another one, as people aren't arguing that the sun doesn't influence temperatures. They are arguing that the sun is less important than greenhouse gases. For the other points, I can give him the benefit of the doubt, even though all have significant problems with their wordings and his assessment of them.

    In short, he might not be a shill - but there are enough problems in his "debunkation" to make me doubt the sincerity of his approach and his intentions. This might still be ok, if there weren't some massive errors in some of his arguments, which completely invalidate the points he is trying to make. As a result, I'm filing this under "waiting without bated breath to be properly ripped apart by people who know more".

    Quite frankly, one reason I'm confident that we are in the beginning of Global Climate Change is that the only counter-arguments I see are poorly thought out, rife with personal attacks, lack data and make lots of statements without supporting data. If a group arguing for a position sounds like a bunch of idiots, I tend to take the opposite view.
  • by enodo (603503) on Monday November 06, 2006 @07:32PM (#16744281)
    You miss the point. Hansen's argument was that there were various possibilities. For example, one climate forcing is the eruption of volcanos. Since the timing and number of eruptions can't be predicted, you just put in an average number and guess. Hansen explicitly said that he constructed scenario B to be the best guess, so when the article goes around saying that Hansen "predicted" scenario A, they're just lying.

    You can actually read Hansen's explanation of all this here: http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/hansen_re-crichton.p df [columbia.edu] As you can see Hansen was pretty much BANG ON.
  • Re:More debunkation. (Score:3, Informative)

    by dragons_flight (515217) on Monday November 06, 2006 @08:25PM (#16745067) Homepage
    Monckton mentions that there is a direct correlation between number of sunspots and grain prices falling, attributing it to the fact that more sunspots mean that the sun is hotter. Actually, that's wrong. Sunspots are cooler regions on the surface of the sun (3800 K vs 5400K on the rest of the surface), which means that the sun is actually radiating *less* energy in the visible and infrared spectrum. So his entire point completely falls apart with this basic item of astrophysics.

    This is incorrect. Sunspots are cooler, but during active periods on the sun they are surrounded by large regions called faculae that are slightly brighter than normal. The net effect is that in spite of the darkening by sunspots the sun as a whole is actually slightly brighter (~0.1%) during the phase of the solar cycle with many active sunspots.
  • by Bastian (66383) on Monday November 06, 2006 @08:31PM (#16745175)
    No offense, but I think you're doing little more than spewing vitriol.

    Er, another way to phrase that is, "we made a bunch of sh** up." I'm shaking my head right now. That's EXACTLY what says! "Ignorance of how forcings would actually developed."

    Would you prefer he really did make a bunch of shit up? Because that's what he would have been doing if he didn't make a bunch of scenarios. In the absence of a crystal ball, all you can do is figure out what the range of possible future events is, and then plug that into a model in order to bracket what might happen. Those graphs were never meant to be final predictions. The way things like this are used are that, if anybody has any information that can help predict the likelihood of certain events (say, a massive volcanic eruption) over a range of time, you can start narrowing the probability cone.

    I certainly don't understand the assertion that this set of scenarios was wrong because reality turned out to be closer to scenarios B and C rather than A, especially when history turned out to follow the "future events" models used to produce those scenarios. To me, the fact that what has happened pretty closely matches the results he predicted for the hypothetical that turned out to be true means he was pretty damn right about these predictions.

    What he did is pretty standard practise in everything from monitoring potential asteroid strikes to forming business plans and family budgets. If you don't like it, I'd suggest you come up with an alternative. The only other two I know are making firm assumptions about the future and proceeding with an attitude that these arbitrary predictions are prophecy; or failing to think about consequences at all and stumbling blindly into the future without a care in the world. Which would you prefer?

    Hell, I can give you "extreme" scenerios that would "bracket" plausible rates of change without knowing a damn thing!
    Moot. How closely would they bracket them?

    Note that the article in question actually misquotes and misinterprets NUMBERS and SCIENCE
    Quote edited to improve accuracy.

    versus the typical, "W-w-w-well, what if THE SKY STARTED FALLING!!! WE NEED TO TAKE ACTION JUST IN CASE!!!!"
    I like hyperbolie as much as the next person, but pointing out that there are people who are standing out there screaming the end is near is not useful for arguing that people who are making much more moderate predictions and suggesting much more reasonable risk management policies are wrong. I don't think the US economy is likely to collapse without warning anytime soon, but that doesn't keep me from maintaining a nest egg just in case I lose my job.
  • by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) on Monday November 06, 2006 @09:10PM (#16745641) Homepage Journal
    Sure!

    They are breaking off the Antartic ice shelf, as this thins and melts...
  • Re:So many lies. (Score:5, Informative)

    by icensnow (932196) on Monday November 06, 2006 @09:55PM (#16746211)
    The earth is far closer to a perfect blackbody than you might expect.
    IAAClimatologist, and the earth-atmosphere-clouds system is not a surface and follows the Stefan-Boltzmann blackbody law quite poorly. That's why we have a greenhouse effect. Usually, we parameterize outgoing longwave flux in a way that the sensitivity to temperature is about half of what S-B predicts. A reference to which I cannot provide a link without (c) violations: Bintanja, R., 1996: The parameterization of shortwave and longwave radiative fluxes for use in zonally averaged climate models. J. Climate, 9, 439-454
  • Re:So many lies. (Score:5, Informative)

    by tbo (35008) on Monday November 06, 2006 @10:58PM (#16746849) Journal
    I am also a physicist. Lambda is dT/dP, evaluated at some temperature approximately equal to the earth's mean surface temperature. Taking the derivative and inverting, you get dT/dP = 1 / (4 sigma epsilon T^3). For epsilon = 1 and T=280 K, this gives lambda ~= 0.2. Wikipedia claims the average albedo [wikipedia.org] of earth is about 30%, which very roughly implies the emissivity epsilon = 0.7 (since a blackbody is 0% albedo, and perfect reflectivity is 100% albedo). I'm ignoring frequency dependence and other effects, but this is a first order calculation. With that value for epsilon, I get lambda = 0.29 for the aforementioned parameters. So far, things look good for Monckton.

    Now, let's try to refine our estimate of epsilon to account for frequency dependence. The 30% albedo given by Wikipedia is based on reflection of sunlight, and is thus probably heavily weighted to the visible spectrum, which is where the sun's radiated power peaks. Earth's thermal radiation, on the other hand, peaks in the infrared, since earth is much cooler. Due to the natural greenhouse effect, the 30% albedo may not be accurate at infrared frequencies. Thus, we want to calculate epsilon', the emissivity of the earth at infrared frequencies. The natural greenhouse effect provides an excellent mechanism for us to do this. Let s be the solar constant [wikipedia.org], 1366 W / m^2. Multiplying by (1-0.3) to account for the albedo of earth, and dividing by 4 to account for the ratio of the earth's cross-section to its surface area, we obtain an average absorbed power flux of 240 W / m^2. We then solve the Stefan Boltzmann Law to determine the value of epsilon' necessary to achieve equilibrium, substituting Earth's mean surface temperature for T: 240 W / m^2 = sigma epsilon' T^4 ==> epsilon' ~= 0.7. Thus, it looks like our first estimate was good.

    To recap, we use the Stefan-Boltzmann Law, the (measured) albedo of earth, the approximate mean temperature of earth, and the solar constant to estimate the effective emissivity of earth for infrared. We find it agrees with Earth's mean albedo. Using this value of the emissivity and the Stefan-Boltzmann Law, we estimate lambda as 0.29 K / (W / m^2), in good agreement with Monckton, and poor agreement with the other estimates he mentioned.
  • by DrProton (79239) on Monday November 06, 2006 @11:00PM (#16746865)
    I'm a scientist. If you want the straight dope on climate science, just visit realclimate.org. It's a site maintained by real climate scientists, expert in the science behind global warming. Global warming denialism is only interesting from a psychological viewpoint to me.

    I can't visit the linked article, the telegraph website appears slashdotted. I will point out that NOAA, NASA, the American Institute of Physics, the American Geophysical Union, the American Meteorological Society, the Royal Society of the UK, as well as many other scientific societies (http://illconsidered.blogspot.com/2006/02/global- warming-is-just-hoax.html) have all issued statements that a) global warming is real, and b) humans are the cause. Maybe one journalist knows something that has slipped by tens of thousands of scientists, but I seriously doubt it. Slashdot might be able to generate ad revenue by visiting this topic, but it won't advance the state of human knowledge.
  • by cdn-programmer (468978) <terr@@@terralogic...net> on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @12:17AM (#16747603)
    WHERE are the peer reviewed articles that debunk global warming.

    Here: http://friendsofscience.org/ [friendsofscience.org]

    Especially here: http://friendsofscience.org/index.php?ide=7 [friendsofscience.org]

    Anyone who is really conserned about CO2 emissions can do something about it simply by stuffing R50 insulation into the walls of their house. This is about 1 foot thick. The time to do it is during new construction (best) and during any renovation and failing that doing it room by room when painting for instance needs to be done.

    Cost of the insulation is about $1 bux per square foot. Labour is extra but a do-it-yourselfer can eliminate most of these costs.

    This will already pay for itself from the cost of energy alone.

    If
  • by Jerry (6400) on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @01:50AM (#16748265)
    So, you didn't read the article?

    The Chinese sent a fleet to sail around the north pole in 1421 and didn't find any ice.
    It must have been those mid-evil Chinese coal-fired power plants...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 07, 2006 @12:58PM (#16753213)
    The difficulty with this kind of science is that conclusive proof that one or the other view is correct is hard to impossible to find. At best we can say that on the basis of what we've seen, there is definitely grounds for concern - the odds that we are warming the earth with our greenhouse gasses - and that this warming is "A Very Bad Thing" are certainly non-zero. They may not be 100% - but they certainly aren't 0%.

    There are two questions we can have a shot at though:

    * What is the cost to humanity if we shift gears and work hard to stop CO2 emissions when in fact we didn't need to do that?

    * What is the cost to humanity if we do nothing and it turns out that the greenhouse effect is real and that the effect of increased temperatures is a major global crisis?

    That study that came out of the UK last week offers answers to these questions. It said that:

    * If we take action immediately, the cost is 1% of GDP - and we gain the benefit of increasing the time before we run out of fossil fuels and improving air quality, etc.

    * If we wait (and the implication is "If we wait and it all goes horribly wrong") then the cost is 15% to 25% of GDP - with a recession worse than any the world has seen, the destruction of cities, the loss of animal species, etc.

    So - there are four outcomes: If we make the mistake of assuming that global warming is true and it turns out we were utterly wrong - it costs us 1% of GDP and brings with it some other benefits. If we mistakenly assume global warming is bogus and it turns out we were utterly wrong - wave goodbye to civilisation as we know it. If we assume global warming is true and we're right - then we pulled ourselves back from the brink at a reasonable cost. If we assume global warming is false and we're right - then we have the status quo.

    If you just ignore all of the pro- and con- science and said "I can't tell whether all of this stuff is true or not - I'm going to say it's a 50/50 chance" - then what is the prudent course of action? OBVIOUSLY it's worth spending 1% of GDP in order to remove a 50/50 chance of losing the planet. What if you say it's only a one in three chance? One in ten? What is your tolerance for risk?

    People spend MUCH more than 1% of their income on car, house and personal insurance, extended warranties on electrical goods, health insurance and so on. The risks for those things are tiny by comparison to the likely probability of global warming being true. Adding a further 1% GDP burden as "global warming insurance" seems like a small thing to me.

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