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Global Warming Debunker Debunked 676

Earlier this month we ran an article linking Christopher Monckton's attempt to discredit global warming. The submitter asked plaintively, "Can anyone out there go through this piece and tell me why it might be wrong?" George Monbiot has now done so. From the article: "This is a dazzling debunking of climate change science. It is also wildly wrong... In keeping with most of the articles about climate change in [the Sunday Telegraph], it is a mixture of cherry-picking, downright misrepresentation, and pseudo-scientific gibberish. But it has the virtue of being incomprehensible to anyone who is not an atmospheric physicist... As for James Hansen, he did not tell the US Congress that temperatures would rise by 0.3C by the end of the past century. He presented three possible scenarios to the US Senate — high, medium, and low. Both the high and low scenarios, he explained, were unlikely to materialise. The middle one was 'the most plausible.' As it happens, the middle scenario was almost exactly right. He did not claim, under any scenario, that sea levels would rise by several feet by 2000." And on the political front, the only major ally for Pres. Bush's stand on global warming, Australia's Prime Minister John Howard, is now willing to look at carbon trading.
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Global Warming Debunker Debunked

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  • Re:Global Hubris (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ResidntGeek (772730) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @03:30PM (#16843198) Journal
    There's higher pressure in a warm beer because the product of pressure and volume increases with temperature. Carbon dioxide doesn't magically leak into the beer as it gets warmer. You're not an atmospheric scientist, don't try to act like one on slashdot.
  • by mark-t (151149) <markt@lynx . b> on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @03:33PM (#16843252) Journal

    ... can disbelieve in global warming.

    The earth *IS* getting warmer. This is a fact. Annual temperatures are hotter than they have ever been since we started keeping records, glaciers are drastically smaller than they've ever been in recorded history, and the polar ice caps are shrinking. The earth _IS_ getting warmer, ergo, global warming is real.

    What is causing it, however, is another matter... some say there is proof that humans are causing it, others will say it's merely circumstantial... that this warming is just part of a natural cycle the earth goes through before another ice age and then a gradual reheating (the latter period being one in which we are currently living).

  • Re:Moo (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gurps_npc (621217) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @03:42PM (#16843424) Homepage
    I strongly disagree. The cherry picking answer is key.

    The first article did NOT make an argument. Instead it attempted to convince everyone he was correct by saying how X,Y and Z arguments are false. But there are 100's of arguments for global warming. OF COURSE some of them are false.

    The first article was a poorly thought out piece of crap, because it did NOT do what science must do: present disprovable data. Instead it simply disproved a small portion of other people's arguments.

    That is called Cherry Picking. It is a stupid way to argue, I can use it to prove anything.

    Here: Some people (my 3 year old nephew) claim that Communists killed Jesus. This is patently false, because Jesus was killed and ressurected years before Communism was invented. Others (my 10 year old niece) claim that Communists killed their father. I have here a signed affadaivit that her father is alive and well, and living with a 19 year old stripper in Miami. Finally, some people (my insane neighbor), claim that Communists are poisoning our water supply with fluride, but I have here ten studies, all double blind, showing that Fluride is not harmfull in the quantities placed in our water.

    Therefore Communists do not kill people.

    This is EXACTLY what the first article did. It picked a VERY few articles, that may or may not have been false, and attacked them. This is called Cherry Picking. Such a methodology is foolish and proves nothing.

  • by Llywelyn (531070) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @03:52PM (#16843630) Homepage
    """there's a very simple reason people disbelieve global warming - their conscience."""

    Funny, this is part of the reason that people follow the concept blindly and vehemently, attacking any who attempt to raise even the specter of a rational debate.

    It is a lot easier to believe that we are responsible than it is to believe that we cannot do anything about it.
  • Re:Global Hubris (Score:2, Insightful)

    by syphax (189065) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @03:53PM (#16843652) Journal
    Talk about pseudo-scientific gibberish. Good frickin lord. What's your alternative hypothesis for the relationship between human emissions and atmospheric concentrations []? Yes, there's a lot of natural carbon flux going both ways. But we've tipped the balance. No one with more than three neurons firing debates this. There are plenty of things about global warming to debate; please for everyone's sake find a topic that's not so obviously wrong and easily disproved.

    Here's another fun graph []
  • by The Famous Druid (89404) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @03:54PM (#16843664)
    > Ever open a warm beer? CO2 increases at warmer temperatures.

    This one nearly made me spill my coffee !

    Ever hear of the law of Conservation of Mass?

    Put in simple terms, it says that the amount of Carbon in the can is fixed at the time the can is sealed.
    Heating it, cooling it, or giving it a really good shake makes no difference.

  • Re:Moo (Score:5, Insightful)

    by KeensMustard (655606) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @03:56PM (#16843686)
    You failed to mention that the article he debunked asserted that there was a global conspiracy headed by the UN to promote the concept fo global warming in order to establish a world government. Is that really the domain of serious science? Hmmm?
  • Re:Global Hubris (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @03:57PM (#16843728)
    Ever flown into LAX? Seen the giant toxic mushroom cloud that sits over the LA basin? Still doubt humans have any affect on the atmosphere?
  • by 2short (466733) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @03:57PM (#16843732)
    Over the recent past, the warming has not been "gradual". It appears it has been several orders of magnitude faster than ever before.
      Nobody says there is "proof" humans are causing it. They say a heck of a lot of smart people have tried very hard to come up with an explanation for it, and they've got exactly squat other than the industrial revolution.
        If you've got a realistic explanation for warming rates over the recent past other than human action, I'd love to hear it. But "it's just natural cycles" doesn't cut it. Something radically different is going on in the last hundred years of the temperature record. It's hard to see why people insist we just don't know what it could be except willful avoidance of the big obvious candidate.
        In any case, something different is going on in the last hundred years. If you've got a suggestion what it is other than human action, let's hear it, but dispense with the saying it's just the same natural cycles as before. Because it's nowhere close.
  • Re:no no no (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Brickwall (985910) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @03:59PM (#16843768)
    I agree we can't predict exactly what will happen, or what the rate of change of will be, but that doesn't stop the fools from trying. Here's what Jeremy Siegel, Ph.D., posted on Yahoo's Finance site last week:

    In the last century, carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere have shot up from 285 parts per million (ppm) to 377 ppm. Historically, carbon dioxide levels had averaged between 180 and 290 ppm. Every 10 ppm increase in CO2 concentration is associated with a half a degree Centigrade increase in temperature and a 10 meter increase in sea levels.

    Now I'm just an engineer, not a climatologist, but if the highest levels in the past were 290 ppm, and we are now at 377 ppm, we are 87 ppm over the past high. If each 10 ppm increase is associated with 0.5 C increase in temp, and a 10m increase in sea level, shouldn't average temps be some 4 C higher, and sea level 87m higher, instead of the negligible 0.3 C rise in temp, and the 17 cm rise in sea level the Earth has experienced over the last 100 years?

    Some wags have told me that we're not seeing the total effects because of "time lags" in the system. But, from 1900 to 1910, we saw a 10 ppm rise in CO2 levels. It's been one hundred years since that rise, and we haven't seen 2% of the expected rise in sea level. Of course for the last 90 years, we've been continuing to pump CO2 into the air, so one would think the integral effect of all those events would be even larger than the single 10 ppm increase from 1900-10.

    GW may yet prove to be a problem, but we're not seeing effects anywhere near the levels the scaremongers are throwing out. And, we have yet to prove that GW is anthropogenic; the Earth has gone through these cycles before, long before man was around. But as usual, the "Big Lie" propagandists are winning the battle.

    And, frankly, I could care less where Mike Moore or Ann Coulter stand on this, or any other issue. Do you seriously decide your position on an issue on the basis of who supports it, or do you look at the facts and theories, and try to choose the set that makes the most sense?

  • by syphax (189065) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @04:01PM (#16843812) Journal
    Gee, that's a lot of broken links.

    Ok, so I'll have to repeat my standard response to stuff like this.

    I love this logic:

    1. The climate has always been variable.
    1a. The climate is variable on other planets.
    2. Therefore, man is not having an impact on today's climate!

    QED, right?

    Here's an exercise: Explain to me how increased levels of CO2 (which are rising due to humans- I challenge you to find an alternative explanation that has not been debunked from here to Shanghai and back), which Arrhenius demonstrated over 100 years ago [] could cause climate change, can't possibly be causing climate change?

    Hey, climate science is uncertain, and questioning the current consensus is great. But if you are going to do so, please find a coherent argument why the current thinking is incorrect (again, please stick to the stuff that hasn't been shown to be wrong 100x over). So please go read RealClimate [], debunk them (you have to do better than the M&M side show []), and then we can have a conversation.
  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @04:03PM (#16843856)

    The easiest way to prove that global warming exists is to point out the fact that we are not living in the ice age. Since the time the world was almost completely frozen over, it has gotten warmer. It would seem the earth goes through a cycle of warming and cooling and we just happen to be around while the earth is warming up some. Even if we are contributing, the amount that we are is insignificant at best.

    This is the logical fallacy, non sequitur paired with proof by example. You have made empty assertions. Because the earth has warmed and cooled in the past in no way proves that the current warming is the result of or not the result of human interference. You assert that if we are contributing that contribution must be be insignificant, but you provide no support for that assertion and, if you look at the most reliable data we have to date, you'll notice that both of your assertions seem to contradict that data.

    The rate of climate change is orders of magnitude faster than any natural change indicated by indicators from the past. This implies that the process is being influenced by a factor different than what has happened naturally in the past. Something has changed. The rate of global change correlates to the rise of human industrialization and (contrary to what you might have read) correlation suggests a possible causation.

    Does this prove that global warming is caused by human influences? No. But because we have both a logical hypothesis as to how global warming could be caused by human influence (greenhouse effect) and because the scientific method to date has supported that hypothesis more than any other presented, it is the most likely cause. As a result a logical person, a scientist who objectively considers the issue, would conclude that the most reasonable course of action should be based upon the likelihood that humans are the cause and look to potential solutions based upon that.

  • Re:Moo (Score:5, Insightful)

    by greginnj (891863) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @04:04PM (#16843868) Homepage Journal
    The first article did NOT make an argument. Instead it attempted to convince everyone he was correct by saying how X,Y and Z arguments are false. But there are 100's of arguments for global warming. OF COURSE some of them are false.
    This is a pretty low standard... I believe in global warming. But it's also possible that the arguments for GW are simultaneously 1)true and 2) overhyped. The first article was the least shrill, least tendentious, attempt I have read to present the 'case against'. If we're right about GW, it shouldn't be hard to disprove it, using the same or higher standards of both rhetoric and logic. I notice that TFA didn't say anything specific about the 390x overweighting of bristlecone-pine climate data and its use in erasing the the warm period during the middle ages. I'm willing to believe the original article got it wrong; since science is on our side, it should be easy to explain how.

    Further -- the Monbiot article says that "climate sensitivity is an equilibrium concept" -- meaning that CO2 release precedes its effects by several decades. Nice, but the original (Monckton) article claimed that the problem was that warming preceded CO2 rise, which means Monbiot didn't really rebut him. There are many, many specific claims in the original article (and the linked-to PDF is even more detailed); Monbiot tackles very few of them adequately. Rather than slamming a journalist for lack of sufficient credentials, he should be congratulated for attempting to meet the scientists halfway by speaking their own language, and set right where he needs to be set right. The truth has nothing to fear from polemic.
  • by objwiz (166131) <> on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @04:09PM (#16843990)
    Not really. Interesting [] article.

    There was an ice age. The last ice age, even the last mini [], was well before any industrial revolution. The environment had to significantly warm to bring an end to such a period.

    Where I struggle with the global warming apologists, is that they haven't sufficently answered for me an number of questions. Here's a few:

    1) why do we keep seeing science like this. []
    If global warming is real, shouldnt this information be debunked as false?

    2) Or this (from a link below btw):
    Reports in the late 1980s found the amount of sunlight reaching the planet's surface had declined by 4 to 6 percent since 1960. Suddenly, around 1990, that appears to have reversed.
    "When we looked at the more recent data, lo and behold, the trend went the other way," said Charles Long, senior scientist at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

    3) Is global warming necessarily bad? If the earth getting warmer, that means more areas, such as Canada could have longer growing seasons which would produce more food for the world. Ok sure some coastly areas might get flooded. Is that bad? Is it possible that the fish would have more environment to live in and therefore better thrive? And is a 4" rise in the ocean really even noticable? A warmer environment would mean a growth in plant life, in general. Isn't that a good thing since plants are known to remove CO2 from the air?

    4) The sun is geting warmer []. It is affected other planets, most recently noted on Mars. Can we even theorectically counter the effects of the sun? The sun is huge and powerful. We cannot realistic predict let alone counter the effects of a warmer sun.

    There is a lot of hypocracy and conflicting information in the global warming research. Its really hard for me to buy into that its a people problem and that its even a problem at all until all of this gets sorted out.

  • Re:no no no (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Actinide (772269) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @04:12PM (#16844034)

    As a scientist working in a related field I find this desire to polarise the whole thing utterly exasperating. For whatever reason, mainstream scientific opinion gets lumped on one side of this divide, and the other side is left fixated on fringe opinions from a tiny minority of dissenters on one wing of the science. The media then jump into the fray with their desire for "balance" and give these fringe dwellers equal airtime and column space with the mainstream, in doing so manufacturing a series of debates which are not really there.

    If you want balance, and you want to put the opinions of a handful of scientists on one extreme of the argument into it, then leave the vast majority of us in the middle out of it and go find the same level of extremism on the other side. Those who argue that we're in danger of imminent collapse of both the East Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets, or who talk alarmingly of extreme "runaway greenhouse" feedbacks, for instance.

    Alternatively of course you could all just stop fixating on tiny minorities of fringe scientific opinion. There is plenty of genuine debate going on and opportunity for journalistic and political "balance" in covering it - but it is simply no longer over such big picture questions as "is the climate warming now?" or "are human emissions largely responsible for this warming?"

  • by 2short (466733) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @04:20PM (#16844162)
    Gee, you're right, indirect knowledge is impossible, so much for 99% of science.

    "As opposed to what? The 1500's? The 1700's?? The late Cretaceous???"

    All of the above.

    "Was anyone keeping record of the ACTUAL temperature back then? No. We have only been recording these kinds of things for the last 200 years at best."

    Did you personally check the temperature 200 years ago? I mean, all we really have is some marks on a peice of parchment that appear to be temperature observations made by some human of unknown reliability.

    Can we conduct experiments in plate tectonics? There may be lots of reasons the eath shakes. Nobody has ever seen a tectonic plate. Clearly geology is only based on scientific theory at best.

    Love that phrase, by the way, "only based on scientific theory at best". As if there were anything better anything could ever possibly be based on. Your suggestion the sun will rise tommorow is only based on scientific theory at best.

    Science attempts to construct explanations for observed data. Then it tests those explanations. No one is ever super-completely-definitely-sure, but they keep testing and trying to fit their explanations into the web of data and theory. Some things fit really well, and survive huge amounts of double checking.

    There are several ways to estimate pre-instumental temperatures via proxy records, including ice cores. They all agree fairly well. Nobody with knowledge of the available evidence could reasonably suggest our best guess estimates of pre-instrumental temperatures are so incredibly, radically wrong as to make the last hundred years warming look unexceptional. It's not different by a little bit. It's different by a fricking huge amount.
  • by Overly Critical Guy (663429) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @04:21PM (#16844172)
    I don't mind doing your research for you []. Does the National Science Board count?

    I'm being modded "Troll" for challenging the global warming hivemind on Slashdot, but that's cool. I have common sense on my side and don't go around declaring the end of the world when we can barely predict the weather tomorrow, much less 10 years from now.
  • by gstegman (988905) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @04:23PM (#16844196)
    I would like to see a climate study done by someone who doesn't have an agenda.

    It seems like everyone I see starts with the premise that Global Warming is reaching epic proportions or that it is bullshit. It doesn't seem like anyone is going out there from a neutral point of view.

    It seems like anyone can spin data to prove a point they already have in mind.
  • Re:Global Hubris (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DesertWolf0132 (718296) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @04:30PM (#16844330) Homepage
    True, for large values of one and extremely small values of 3... Seriously, I find much of the battle over this topic hilarious as most of the people posting here are in the field of IT, CS, or some other variant thereof. I would wager that the entire cast of characters here on Slashdot contains less that 1% climatologists.
  • by c6gunner (950153) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @04:38PM (#16844456)
    From the Arrhenius link which you provided:

    As Arrhenius predicted, both carbon dioxide levels and temperatures increased from 1900-1999. However, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has increased much more quickly than he expected, but the Earth hasn't warmed as much as he thought it would. (Graphs by Robert Simmon, based on data from NOAA and the Goddard Institute for Space Studies)

    You'll be hard pressed to find anyone who believes that carbon emissions have no effect at all on the global temperature. What's in debate is just how much effect they have. Will a tripling in global carbon emissions cause a 5 degree rise, or only a .005 degree rise? If the latter, do we really need to be worried about it?

    That's the kind of questions which lead to questioning of the overall global warming theory, because they've never been successfully answered. And that's why questions about climate change on Mars and Venus become relevant - because if the temperature is changing on those planets then it's quite possible that carbon dioxide is an almost insignificant factor in the temperature rise which OUR planet is experiencing, and that the major cause is the sun.

    Hell, for all we know, the rise in CO2 might be the symptom instead of the cause of global warming. Granted, it's unlikely, but how do we know for sure? Has anyone measured CO2 levels on mars and venus? So far the only proof we have that co2 is linked to global warming is that any time in the past when temperatures have gone up, so has CO2. How can we prove which one is the cause, and which one a symptom? And if we can't even prove that, how in the world can we possibly expect to determine exactly how much effect CO2 has on temperature?
  • by Socguy (933973) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @04:42PM (#16844514)
    The real problem with many of these articles 'debunking' global warming is that they have no real intent to disprove the science behind global warming, rather they have the goal of creating confusion and the appearance of controversy with a net result of inaction and a continuation of the status quo. This is why virtually all 'debunking' publications occur in the mainstream media whereas the actual science continues where it always has, in academia, away from the public eye.

    One can only speculate on the motives of these 'debunkers'. Obviously there are those who profit mightily and so have a powerful interest in the status quo. Next, there are skeptics who will never accept anything, no matter the evidence or risk of inaction. As near as I can tell, their only goal is to drag as many people as possible to their side. Finally, as an Albertan, I see many other people who have been frightened by the economic doom and gloom emanating from certain quarters. These people will not accept Climate change because they see it as an attack on them and their livelihood. They don't want to change how they live so they choose only to believe what will enable them to continue as they are. The first two groups of people can never be convinced so we shouldn't really bother trying, rather we must be mindful of their effects on legitimate debate. The third, and far largest group, can be convinced once they realize that combating climate change is not just a problem but can be an opportunity; an opportunity to reinvent society and unleash innovation! Certainly, once you accept the science behind climate change most rational people must acknowledge a moral imperative to our fellow human beings to combat this issue.
  • by Trails (629752) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @04:44PM (#16844554)
    It always seems to me that when scientists 'debunk' global warming naysayers, they result to attacks on methology(sp?) then their facts. To me it screams Gallileo and Darwin when scientists were attacked because they went against the tide

    That's a bit of a leap there, comparing the there-is-no-global-warming "scientists" (with degress in journalism no less) to Gallileo and Darwin.

    WRT attacks on methodology, consider:

    We have two numbers, and they are 5 and 6. The UN says they add up to 11. I say they are wrong, observe:
    5 + 6
    6 + 5

    Sometimes the methodology is the problem.

    In this case, the methodology of cherry picking (other comments have explained this well), over-simplification (using theoretical black bodies to model empirical data), and comparison of "apples to oranges", ie global temperature trends to europe temperature trends, are attack-worthy.

    Your attempt to relate this debunking, even if it is a bit sensationalised (cock-a-hoop, etc...) to religious-inspired attacks upon people advocating logical thought and divorcement of science from dogma is spurious.

    I'm perfectly happy to read articles, studies, etc... (light on the details though, IANACS) claiming humanity's impact on global warming is minimal provided they aren't using tricks and written "sleight of hand" to make their points. The more misinformation I read claiming global warming is not humanity's fault, the more I believe it is our fault. If there were valid reasons to doubt this, oil execs would be shouting it from the rooftops.

  • Re:Moo (Score:4, Insightful)

    by rho (6063) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @04:48PM (#16844606) Homepage Journal

    Nobody says "I believe in gravity." I think Michael Crichton made this point first, but it's still relevant.

    The main problem serious people have about global warming is the reactionary solutions, most of which seem to primarily be a kind of retroactive success-tax on Americans. Example: Kyoto didn't deal with emerging countries who are both 1) ramping up energy use, and 2) aren't saddled with any of the green regulations that 1st world nations put on themselves.

  • by larkost (79011) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @04:51PM (#16844656)
    1) Yep.. lots of scientific consesnsus on that.

    2) If you are talking about human recorded temprature mesurements from those periods then we agree. And so scientists generally try and use non-human recordings, such as effects on tree rings, the growth of coral (very temprature dependant, and in the middle of a huge heat sink), etc... So there is a lot of data that can be distilled into good records.

    3) If you took engineering then you should know about the laws of thermodynamics, and thus know that you are mearly playing with where the energy is absorbed or reflected, not changing those ratios. You should also know that most of the suns energy output that is absorbed by the earth is not in particales that are affected in any real way by magnetic fields.

    4) Your source does not say that Jupiter as a whole is warming up... only that certain spots seem to be. There is a huge difference in those two statements.

    5) We don't know enough about Mar's climate to be able to take any lessons out of it. In fact your article states this repeatedly.

    6) The answers to many of the rest of your questions are avalible from a lot of sites. A lot of them do examin cyclical effects, and look for the causes. But the very people who are doing those studies and are the best informed about these things are the ones who are very loudly sounding the alarm.

    The better question is why do people keep listening more intently to politicions and businessmen who have a vested interest in the status quo, as opposed to the scientists who have dedicated their lives to studying these things and have no vested interests (or at least not as big an interest).
  • by KeensMustard (655606) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @04:54PM (#16844696)
    Well, I suppose it depends on what you mean by "consensus". Certainly not all qualified scientists believe "human caused global warming" is a dominant factor in current climate change. You might check this 2002 article (for instance): [] /161152.shtml
    How many climatologists or otherwise qualified scientists actually disagree with the anthropogenic causes of global warming? Can you cite something that gives it in rough percentage terms? The article you linked to mentions 3 scientists, speaking on behalf of the Frontiers of Freedom Institute , a front for big oil [], set up specifically to combat environmental regulation. Is that the "voice of science"?

    The one tangible thing that's been done to try and address global warming is the Kyoto Protocol. It is quite flawed, though, in that it gives exemptions to the countries which are most likely to be big polluters in coming decades.
    Certainly, the Kyoto protocol does not go far enough, and carbon trading should (and probably will) be introduced as soon as possible. This does not make it flawed, specific exemptions were given to China and India so that they would have time to develop cleaner means of generating electricity, time that they have used well, I might add, since they have both reduced their carbon footprints and have substantial nuclear infrastructure. These exemptions only apply for a set period (15 years, I believe) in recognition that strong economies in those countries help the world in general. In contrast the concessions made for Australia and the US (revolving around the defintion of carbon sinks) were ongoing, yet those countries refused to sign, and in both cases, their carbon footprint has increased.

    It would also impose economic penalties on countries like the US which are already doing quite a lot to reduce their environmental impact.

    The US has done and is doing virtually nothing to reduce your carbon footprint, and ought, by rights, be penalised. The average US person has a carbon footprint 20 times the size of the average Indian. Someone has to pay for your indulgence - it should be you.

    If /.ers want to rally around a single approach that would be beneficial not just to human related global warming if it exists, but also to energy independence and reduced pollution, do whatever you can to advocate constructing new nuclear reactors here in the US. That is the single best thing we could do at this point.
    The majority of Slahdotters are not from the US, if the demographic from the rest of the web is true here. So we cannot advocate for more nuclear reactors in the US. What we can (and will) do, is advocate for a carbon trading scheme - user pays.
  • Re:no no no (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rho (6063) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @04:58PM (#16844748) Homepage Journal

    Until we know absolutely everything, we might as well do absolutely nothing. Just because all of our lab experiments lead to the conclusion that carbon dioxide makes warming worse, and we pump huge amounts of carbon dioxide into the environment, we should still do nothing. Humans changing our habits wouldn't fix all the problems, everywhere, forever, so we should still do nothing.

    I know this gets brought up all the time, but it's an important point. Just a decade or so ago, we were supposed to act now and change our habits in order to forestall global cooling. This odd hysteria and compulsion to act now and change our habits seems to be mostly political, not scientific. Carbon-trading isn't going to stave off global warming. Assuming it is actually implemented in an enforceable way, it will simply open a new avenue for corruption. Of course, nothing is quite so patently condescending as a rich shitpoke trading carbon credits with poverty-stricken fuckers in some hellhole [], so it will probably become huge, condescension being a very popular hobby.

  • Rain scrubbing (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tjwhaynes (114792) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @05:07PM (#16844894)
    The comment about rain scrubbing is utterly nonsensical. It shows no time component and is irrelevant because rain doesn't fall evenly over every square meter of the planet.

    Even more importantly, rain only falls in the lowest parts of the atmosphere. Anything above 40,000 feet won't ever see a drop of rain until it falls to lower altitudes. So expecting rain to clean the entire atmosphere is, at best, a slow process.

  • by eggfoolr (999317) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @05:10PM (#16844938)
    Why are humans now so afraid of change? It is the human ability to adapt to change that has made us so successful as a species on this planet (along with sparrows and cockroaches). It is through hardship and experimentation that we evolve our survival abilities, if we keep the earth the same as it is today we will just stagnate and ultimately become extinct when the earth finally does throw up an extinction scenario. We may have a very rich and diverse life on planet earth at the moment, but standing back and looking at the billion year picture, we're just a grain of sand about to swept away. We cannot harm earth, but it can harm us. We must ascend our reliance on the status quo and become more than just naked apes.
  • Re:Global Hubris (Score:3, Insightful)

    by CorSci81 (1007499) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @05:15PM (#16845026) Journal
    Temperatures _are_ higher. Ever open a warm beer? CO2 increases at warmer temperatures.

    You've missed one subtle point... the total concentration of CO2 water can dissolve at saturation does decrease with increasing temperature. However, Earth's oceans are nowhere near saturation. In fact, they are one of the largest CO2 sinks in most climate models, but that's a reservoir which is rapidly filling up.

    we emit annually about 0.070 kg/m2 (world average) into an atmospheric CO2 inventory of 5.4 kg/m2. 77 years of current [max] burning! And both are negligible compared to rain scrubbing of 800 kg/m2.

    Have sources for those numbers? Also, the removal of CO2 via rain is mostly a net change of zero, given this thing called the hydrological cycle. That water eventually evaporates and whatever CO2 it had dissolved goes right back into the atmosphere, minus the small fraction that does react to form an inert species (i.e. via weathering of certain rocks).

    P.S. as an aside to someone mentioning 1% of slashdotters having a degree in climate science... I actually do and I can tell you it's a very small field, I'd be surprised if it were even 0.1% of the people here.

  • by syphax (189065) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @05:21PM (#16845122) Journal
    Most of what you say is true. Up to the "and not vice-versa" part. Bzzzt! Faulty logic! The first part of your statement is true (CO2 can lag temperature changes), but you present nothing to prove the vice-versa (CO2 can't be a driver) part.

    Sure, in the past CO2 has lagged temperature. However, that doesn't mean that it hasn't sustained climate changes as a positive feedback. What it does mean is that CO2 has often not been the driver for climate change events. Until now.

    We are generating lots of CO2. A small amount relative to natural fluxes, but enough to . Can anyone provide a plausible alternative hypothesis for current conditions? []

    CO2 acts as a greenhouse gas. This is basic physics. What's not so basic are all of the other feedbacks, positive and negative- water vapor, ice cover, and so forth. That's where the action is. Let's talk about that. But to get caught up talking about whether we are responsible for increases in CO2, and whether or not CO2 is a greenhouse gas, is just a colossal waste of time. It's basic frickin physics and chemistry. It's the fluid dynamics that makes everything so hard to resolve.

    To recap:

    Climate varies naturally. That doesn't mean it can't be affected unnaturally.
    Historically, CO2 concentrations have lagged temperature changes (b/c yes, Virginia, there are other factors that affect climate). That does not disprove that you can drive climate change with CO2; it just hasn't been tried often.
    All else equal, higher CO2 = higher temperatures. Basic physics. The problem is the all else equal part.

    Humans are trying an interesting experiment. What happens if we try to force climate change with CO2?

    Why does everyone here think that they are smarter than climate scientists?
  • by Vellmont (569020) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @05:26PM (#16845172) Homepage

    There is plenty of genuine debate going on and opportunity for journalistic and political "balance" in covering it

    I've no doubt that journalists could do an excellent job at explaining this (and some do). But that would assume that the majority of journalism and media is about informing people. It's not. The media outlets are very clearly about selling eyeballs. What do you think would sell more eyeballs, an honest discussion about what we really know about global warming (it's happening, it's caused by us, we're not sure how large of an effect it'll have). Or examining the extreme positions? "Global Warming May Reach Tipping Point Soon!", or even "Global Warming is Big Fraud Created by Lefties!" sure will sell a lot more eyeballs to advertisers than "Will Average Global Temperature rise .4c or 2c over the next 30 years?".
  • by c6gunner (950153) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @05:36PM (#16845308)
    Well, unfortunately these questions won't be answered any time soon with any degree of reliability, but rest assured that if they are I'll be coming around to collect that house, bike, car, etc :) You can keep the wife and kids though, I'm not in a hurry to acquire any of those.

    Anyway, the way I see it, as long as we can't determine how much effect CO2 has on the earth, we can't effectively combat it. I mean, realistically, if we believed the global warming studies, we should be switching entirely to nuclear power within the next decade, and then bombing the shit out of any country that refuses to do the same. If the global warming proponents are right, the growing economies of India and China are a massive threat to the survival of our whole species. We either get them to stop polluting within the next 10 years, or we have to kill them off in order to preserve as much of our species as possible.

    On the other hand, I'd rather not be an alarmist. I'd rather not ruin our economies, turn global politics upside down, and start multiple wars on the idea that maybe, just maybe, CO2 might cause the world to overheat. We can't be certain just how much CO2 affects global temperatures....but we CAN be certain that the Kyoto protocol is useless at combating it...and we CAN be certain that the only truly effective ways to combat CO2 pollution would also cause massive global economic disruption, as well as requiring force to implement. So let's do a little more research first, huh?
  • Re:Moo (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rho (6063) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @05:50PM (#16845504) Homepage Journal

    You miss the point. Global warming is sold as a religion, which is why the instinct to say "I believe..." is so strong. It's presented as established science fact, when it's really highly dependent on a lot of assumptions and guesswork. Not that there's anything wrong with that--our climate is not a simple system that we can easily model. However it doesn't take too much thinking to come up with plausible alternative reasons for the phenomena we see.

    Example: it's been asserted many times that there's been a rise in temperatures that coincide with the industrial revolution. Now why is that? Could it be because that temperatures were being measured where people were, rather than where people were not? It's reasonably clear that human concentration in urban areas increase local temperatures. We weren't taking temperature readings in the 1800s because we were worried about the Earth. We wanted to know about the local weather.

    A simple thought experiment such as that starts to bring the data into question. If pressed, the climatologist may get frustrated because, in their mind, they've already accounted for that, but the full answer isn't simple to express. So what you get is, basically, "trust me, I'm a scientist", which is bollocks. For one, wearing the moniker "scientist" doesn't make you right; and two, if you're a scientist make some testable predictions. The ones mentioned in the original article sure didn't come true. That makes it bad science. The goal is not to make testable predictions, the goal is to convince people to act now. That's a religion. Or marketing. Either or, it's not science.

    You say you want to expose people to the debates, but that's the last thing that's going on. People who wander off the human-caused global warming reservation are not treated as skeptics, they're treated as heretics. Anti-science heretics, with suspicious agendas.

    Note I say this as a person who is supportive of some of the aims of the global warming activists. I think we do need to de-emphasize our easy-motoring lifestyle and to support more mass-transit systems. I think part of the reason we got where we are is because of intrusive and expansive government killing the incentive for people to remain in urban centers and driving the middle class out to the suburbs, and I find it daft that the proposed solution to the problem is invariably more intrusive and expansive government, this time on a global scale. It's crazy.

  • by syphax (189065) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @05:50PM (#16845508) Journal
    And now onto policy. Uncertainty yields inaction. That's quite a gamble. What happens if you wait too long?

    That's a nice strawman, that we have to go to war to reduce CO2 emissions. It's especially funny that you talk about turning 'global politics upside down', like the status quo hasn't had any of that (see: Middle East oil). The cost of (low carbon) energy independence, fully accounted, might not be so high.

    I agree that China and India are huge factors in the CO2 game. Especially considering their economic growth and coal reserves. Kyoto doesn't cut it. Agreed. One interesting issue here is fairness. In the U.S. we've generated a lot of wealth by burning fossil fuels; hardly seems fair to make the rest of the world cap their emissions at a fraction of our per capita emissions. But that's a challenge, not a deal-killer.

    I would submit that we can address our CO2 problems without "massive global economic disruption," but that's another debate for another time. I need to ride my bike home and play with my kids.
  • by jnaujok (804613) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @05:52PM (#16845544) Homepage Journal
    You missed the whole point. Your original post asked for any information that said CO2 followed warming and not vice versa. Read in that context, the single sentence you decided to pick at, makes perfect sense. I did not claim that CO2 is not a greenhouse gas. That would be foolish, nay, idiotic. I attempted no such thing.

    My answer was in reply your original comment which said, and I quote, "Explain to me how increased levels of CO2 (which are rising due to humans- I challenge you to find an alternative explanation that has not been debunked from here to Shanghai and back)...."

    So, that's what I did, I presented a source other than humans .

    Read in that context, the single line you chose to pick out has exactly that meaning. It is a mechanism for CO2 increase that is not the cause of warming, but the result of it.
  • by mrcparker (469158) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @06:04PM (#16845704)
    If CO2 was causing a change in the environment, we really couldn't combat or reverse it anyways. We are in a non-linear chaotic system. Of course, this is /., and the internet, so everyone's opinion, no matter how ill-informed, is equal.

    You are right, you should be modded up. In an honest world, the climate scientists would be laughed out of the room and we would have real mathematicians creating real theorems. We live in a world of headlines and pretty computer models. Plus, the math behind a system like the climate is insanely complex. It is easier to say CO2->warming.
  • again, irrelevant. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mbkennel (97636) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @06:19PM (#16845850)
    The existence of naturally observed causes for physical climate change does NOT rule out human-induced causes in any posssible way.

    All it does is point to a starting place for understanding the underlying physical mechanism.

    Everything you discuss has been known by actual climate scientists for decades upon decades.

    Consider yourself as an electrical engineer: It would be like observing "gee when I move my magnet there are induced EMFs" (true) and then going from that to being skeptical about elementary, and professionally-established, facts regarding the fundamental physics of all sorts of classes of transistors which have been professionally studied in laboratories for decades.

    The answer, "yes those people who make the transistor models do happen to have heard about Faraday's laws and can say whether some effect is important or not or explains the working of the transistor."

    Also, how do you explain huge ice ages on Earth? Were thse caused by huge carbon emissions or was it a small natural climate cycle that just happens?

    complicated answer, but best belief is that there are astrophysical and other forcings which can start warming and then there are feedback loops which amplify greenhouse gas emissions. This is bad for current climate change because human induced forcing could end up being multiplied to a large degree.

    Were those climate changes, which are no doubt more extreme than what's going on now, caused by the combustion engine?


    Does the existence of naturally occurring lightning in any way debunk the theories of physical causality in transistors? No electrical engineer imagines so. What they care about is of course the underlying physical principles of electromagnetism in in natural and engineered systems and these predict behavior. This is of course the right way to proceed.

    Why is it that when it comes to climate, and pretty much climate alone among scientific subjects, the equivalent sort of incomprehensible "arguments" or "skepticism" against the professional understanding of climate scientists come up?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @06:27PM (#16845920)
    Wow, you believe that the Earth is warming because its field is weakening, then you claim that we're not causing global warming because Jupiter and Mars show climatic shifts. And after all of that research you claim to have done, you don't see the obvious flaw in that position? Jupiter's field isn't weakening and Mars's field has been too weak to stop solar wind particles for as long as we've been around to see the planet. Any warming you see now on those two planets is not due to particles. (Nor is it on Earth: particles would be stopped higher up in the atmosphere, not near the surface where the warming is occurring. However, thanks to the way the atmosphere works, the stratosphere is actually *cooling*, as predicted by the greenhouse effect physics.)

    Also, you have to ask yourself, if you're a smart person: if the Sun is getting brighter, why hasn't it been observed? We've been monitoring the Sun quite closely for over 50 years now and less careful for more than a century. We've been taking daily measurements of it and yet you can't point to any source that says its energy output is increasing by any measurable amount. Why? Because it hasn't been observed. But don't let data get in the way, you've done your own *research*!

    As for explaining ice ages, the fact that you bring them up shows that you're either woefully ignorant of climate science or just trolling. There are very good reasons why ice ages occur and why they takes many thousands of years to start and then to reverse. And if you know a thing about what you were talking about, you'd know that they don't cause temperature fluctuations of the scale we're seeing now over a span of a century or less. But, again, you seem to think you're an expert so don't mind me or the facts!
  • by Mattsson (105422) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @06:55PM (#16846282) Journal
    Well... We can always do an experiment. Let's release massive amounts of greenhouse-gasses and see what happens.
    Oh, wait. We started that experiment at the beginning of the industrial revolution, didn't we?
    If nothing happens, we saved lots of money and effort on not developing low-emission technologies.
    If the outcome is screwing up the earth, it's lucky we've got nice biospheres like venus and mars right around the corner.

    But we have no reference so we wouldn't know what would have happened in the other scenario anyway...
    Maybe we should just restrain our emissions anyway... Just in case.
  • by Decaff (42676) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @07:03PM (#16846382)
    Why does everyone here think that they are smarter than climate scientists?

    That is very simple to explain. It is fear of what they (or their descendants) are likely to face if the climate scientists are right - either significant lifestyle changes or major climate problems. Far better try to convince yourself that the majority of respectable scientists are wrong than to live in fear of the future.
  • by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris&beau,org> on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @07:15PM (#16846522)
    > Try and pick somebody who isn't a complete loon next time.

    Yea, someone else noticed that. And went straight to -1 same as my post will go. You can't rationally discuss religious issues with fanatics and most of slashdot fits that description when it comes to socialism and it's pet front causes.

    Good grief, Slashdot thinks (from the way the posted it it is clear the editor is advancing this drivel as an "answer" to the earlier article) an op-ed in the freaking Guardian! by a socialist mouthpiece who thinks writing a book makes him an expert.

    Ok, other than hearing the name pop up in moonbat circles on a regular basis all I know about the guy I just pulled from Wikipedia. But it is generally held to be a leftist dominated site so it is probably being biased for him and not against. Other than what looks like a politically motivated "environmental science" gig his other formal education is all fuzzy/political/socialist stuff except a degree in Zoology. And he is criticizing his opponent for not being an expert. Pot, meet kettle.

    This only reenforces the asstertion I made in the thread for the original piece that in the end all us laymen can do is evaluate the credibility of the proponents for each side. On the pro GW side we have an assortment of socialists and marxists who, coincidence of course, are preaching that if we don't all adopt a one world socialist government that will be powerful enough to save us from Global Warming that we are all going to die. Meanwhile the GW believer who also belives in individual liberty and Repreventetive governments is all but unheard of.

    Now combine with the fact that all the leading lights in the political face of GW have been WRONG on every other major issue they have championed and it gets hard to buy into it. You name the failed idea, they pushed it. Appeasement of the Soviets, Nuke Freeze, Alar scare, Fat nazis, hell a lot of em were on board the Ice Age scare of the seventies. Then you get the ones who fell for Paul Erlich's doomsday scenarios like the population bomb who are now sure GW is going to kill us all... unless we abandon free markets and liberty.

    Plus we get what looks like blatent supression of alternate theories and contrary evidence on these political science theories. Somewhat related example: I was watching Nove recently, the ep about the impending magnetic pole reversal. They showed a map of localized distortions in the field. Guess where the biggest one is? Right about where the Ozone Hole is. Now a weak spot would allow more radiation in and radiation breaks up ozone. Plausable enough that even if there is a hole in that reasoning they should have anticipated it and added a few seconds to deal with it. Silence, nary a word. Considering the political bent of the show it tells me there is probably something being covered up.

    But back to GW. Solar output is up, temp increases are being observed on planets other than the Earth. No computer model to date have made an accurate PREDICTION of future longterm patterns. Managing, with enough massaging, to roughly reproduce past datasets isn't good enough to justify the sort of upheavals in society the GW faithful are proposing. We haven't had powerful computers long enough, period. Do a run today that predicts the weather patterns twenty years from now and in twenty years I'll consider the theory... IF it gets it right.

    Right now we have two theories. The earth is warming slightly along with the rest of the solar system, perhaps with some influence from us but it has both warmed and cooled in the past and will almost certainly continue to do both in the future. The other says it is all our fault and will spiral out of control unless we act NOW and only socialism can save us. Occam's razor makes short work of this decision.
  • by Procyon101 (61366) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @07:20PM (#16846584) Journal
    on your 3rd point:

    What evidence is there that bad events will outweigh good, or that the degree of the bad events are more than trivial??

    Of the cases you mention:

    1) seniors dyng in heatwaves. This is pretty negligible. Seniors have a tendency to move to areas comfortable to them. As the lifespan of a senior not capable of withstanding a heatwave is pretty short anyway (likely less than a decade) the location de jour for seniors will change with the climate; not trap seniors in a huge pressure cooker. We are a pretty mobile species after all. Mesa Arizona may not be the graveyard of the snowbird seniors in 50 years, but who cares. The population of inhospitable areas will fall gradually over time, but we have no shortage of land as overall, with the greatest landmasses on the planet being located in the far northern hemisphere, overall hospitible land will increase.

    2) pipelines and houses buckling due to vanishing permafrost. Trivial. Pipeline maintanance can shore that up simply, and a temporary loss of a pipeline wouldn't be a big deal anyway. The lines could be repaired in a couple days and shorn for little more than the price of casual maintainence. The exact opposite would happen with houses. Apparently you have never done much permafrost house building (I have) but the housing situation would improve VASTLY in the absence of it. Permafrost is a bitch to build anything on... it's loss is a good thing.

    3) Crops dying. Not gunna happen. Crops will CHANGE. The weather is not going to spike 20 degrees in a year. The heat will change gradually year to year and farmland will grow crops that grow well under the projected conditions. In the mean time, the cropland in the north expands faster than the cropland at the equator shrinks, so it's an overall win.

    4) It takes time to profit from change. No, it doesn't. It takes a very short amount of time to revolutionalize how humanity lives overall, profitting all the way. Establishments will go away, replaced by new empires, but at no time will the populace be left with money in hand and no one there to service their needs. Look at the computer revolution... 20 years ago they were next to nonexistant. The automobile revolution... the air traffic revolution... our society is much more willing to change than you give it credit. Change also STIMULATES the eonomy to produce higher profit than would otherwise take place, in the same way that a massive war effort stimulates an economy.

    I for one, stand to profit pretty well from global warming. I am an engineer who will doubtlessly be conscripted to solve some problems that arise; I have good ties with construction, and there will be ALOT of construction if places like Mid-Northern Canada become hospitable to urbanization. My own land value will doubtlessly increase, being located in an area that could do well to be a couple degrees warmer. Personally, I would be better off if it gets alot worse than projected.
  • by Crispy Critters (226798) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @07:24PM (#16846632)
    "How can you explain the recent same climate changes on different planets?"

    Experts apparently do not think the climate changes are related. Here [] is one example.

    So, in terms of a straightforward link between the two, an association between the Sun and Earth, it looks like the Sun has not been the cause of most of the late 20th Century warming. It could have made a contribution.
    Has not been the cause.

    There are tremendous difficulties when one is studying a system that cannot be broken into components and cannot be tested experimentally. Every result should be assessed skeptically.

  • by killjoe (766577) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @07:34PM (#16846746)
    "Anyway, the way I see it, as long as we can't determine how much effect CO2 has on the earth, we can't effectively combat it. I mean, realistically, if we believed the global warming studies, we should be switching entirely to nuclear power within the next decade, and then bombing the shit out of any country that refuses to do the same. If the global warming proponents are right, the growing economies of India and China are a massive threat to the survival of our whole species. We either get them to stop polluting within the next 10 years, or we have to kill them off in order to preserve as much of our species as possible."

    This is the "perfect is the enemy of good" argument. If we can't solve the entire problem then we should take no action at all. Not even a little.

    It's a dumb argument. Saying that you don't know the exact degree of risk and beause you can't quantify it to nth degree of certainty you will do absolutely nothing is just insane.

    "nd we CAN be certain that the only truly effective ways to combat CO2 pollution would also cause massive global economic disruption, as well as requiring force to implement. So let's do a little more research first, huh?"

    Bullshit on all accounts. Oh and by the way I think a little more research has been done. It's just that you refuse to believe it. I don't think more research is going to change your mind. Lucky for us not even bush is that stupid. Even he is starting to come around.
  • Kyoto (Score:3, Insightful)

    by falconwolf (725481) <falconsoaring_2000 AT yahoo DOT com> on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @08:28PM (#16847206)

    Agreed that political opposition to Kyoto motivates some people; they'd be better served by highlighting that than by trying to undercut the science. I was hearing about the GW debate for quite a while before I learned about the developing-countries Kyoto exemption.

    In 2000 instead of voting for who I wanted to vote for I specifically voted against Bush. Within weeks he confirmed my doubts about him when he came out against Kyoto. However when he did he said something I hadn't known, that not all countries had to meet emission limits. That very night I looked it up and sure enough some countries didn't have limits. China and India being two of them. At the tyme both were building a bunch of new coal fired power plants. In 2000 the per capita emissions of China and India was about 2 tonnes CO2, and the US emitted about 22 tonnes per person. With 300 million people that's 6.6 billion tonnes whereas together China's and India's emissions are about 6 billion. With a population of about 3 billion people between China and India if they were to double their emissions to 4 tonnes even if the US elimited all of it's emissions their increase would of made up for the emission reduction of the US. Fact is is without China and India limiting their emissions there's nothing any other country can do to reduce emissions.

  • by rilister (316428) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @08:30PM (#16847224)
    Great question, good answer.

    I'd only add that interested, wealthy parties (the energy industry being the most significant) have deliberately fuelled the idea that those climate scientists are corrupt or have some bizarre malign agenda of their own. For those who don't follow the basic concepts of science (eg. peer review) and are conspiracy minded, it's convincing, reassuring and reinforces their basic view of the world.

    You also get to play smart-ass by pointing out how different from the 'herd' you are by holding the 'alternative' view. Cool.

    Dangerous, self-defeating, stupid...

    I believe this is the great challenge of our maturing generation - everyone in their 20's and 30's now. The last couple of generations created this mess. The middle-aged politicians of this generation aren't capable of getting their heads around fixing this: they're still fighting the cold war and trying to fight for oil. We're going to have to step up or watch our children suffer the consequences.
  • by pavera (320634) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @08:30PM (#16847228) Homepage Journal
    The original article asked for a point by point analysis and evidence that the first article was wrong. This "believer" in global warming throws out a few personal attacks against the original author, and then boldly states that "The medieval warm period is accepted as having not happened" But gives no evidence whatsoever. I was taught about this period all through elementary school (in the early 80's). The leading theory then was it was this warm period that allowed the world to escape the dark ages because less people had to spend 100% of their time subsistence farming.

    Basically this article says "Global warming is happening, accept it" while providing no evidence other than "This guy's an idiot, he doesn't even have a degree". He only tries (very weakly) to debunk one of his claims, that the world has been warmer in the past. A claim which if not confirmed by the warm period of 5-600 years ago, is certainly confirmed in the earth's history. I read an article in Scientific American or National Geographic just last month that conceded this point, stating that the fluctuation of the earth's temperature has a range of 15-20C over the past 3-5 million years. Obviously more than 5 9s of that data is pre-industrial revolution (thus not caused by man). Those articles also plainly laid out that we are at historical lows in both temperature and CO2 concentration in the atmosphere.

    If this Stefan-Boltzmann equation is designed to model a "black body" how is the UN justifying any modification to this model? What are they basing their alterations on? How do they decide how "non-black" the earth is.

    The only other thing he mentions is Hansen's predictions. Ok, so Hansen had 3 predictions low, middle, high and said it would probably be middle, and it was close to that (.1C). The UN itself had much higher predictions (3C-5C) so why are we supposed to believe the UN now when they say 5C-9C over the next 100 years if its going to be closer to .1C? or even .3C?

    In short, this is a completely typical article to see from global warming believers. They pretty much all go like this "The world is over, if we don't turn off all electrical devices by tomorrow and start riding bikes then global warming will kill us all. If you don't believe this statement you are an idiot!". If you ask global warming advocates for evidence they say things like "The evidence is all around you! Look at the hurricanes! Look how many people died in the heat wave last year!" People die in heat waves every year, the temperature and localized weather events fluctuate wildly. The climate on the whole remains pretty steady, and if anything activity on the Sun is much more likely to change the climate than anything we do.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @08:41PM (#16847322)
    Well, these mushrooms are the only available food source.

    Fossil fuels are not the only available (or indeed the only practical) energy source. Your analogy fails.
  • by TapeCutter (624760) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @09:20PM (#16847576) Journal
    "Slashdot contains less that 1% climatologists"

    It should be such that a BSc in any field gives one the basic capacity to sort the shit from the clay when faced with conflicting scientific claims. This is the normal outcome for psuedo-science posted on /. The exception to this is the environment and earth sciences, on this subject many of the early posts contain a similar form of logic to flat-earthers and creationists (see first post for a shining example). This is not because of a failure amoungst /.ers to understand science but rather a success for industry propoganda, astroturfers and fools. Come back to the article in a few days (when the mods are finished), read at +4 and you will see that a bunch of computer nerds do indeed understand the basics of climate science.

    A BSc certaily does not give you knowledge about the climate but it should give you the ability to recognise and debunk psuedo-science when it smacks you in the face.

    Disclaimer: I have a general interest in science and a BSc in computer science, I use this site [] ( > 1% climatoligists ) to help me with any unfamiliar concepts peculiar to climate science.
  • by syphax (189065) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @09:28PM (#16847632) Journal

    Hey man,

    Here's an interesting exercise: replace "India" everywhere in your post with "the U.S.", and you'd basically have the status quo. If anyone is getting invaded over global warming, it'd be us. Except no one else is really into invading right now. You may not have noticed, but the U.S. is a teensy bit behind the rest of the developed world on this issue. And we're the ones accusing others of plotting to tear us down by saddling us with emissions restrictions. You've actually captured the situation quite nicely, but in reverse.

    it's useless unless we can convince ALL countries to do something about it. I don't see any way of achieving that short of war.

    There was a time, ancient history now, when nations employed something called- wait for it- diplomacy. You seem fixated on some sort of war on global warming. Frankly, I think that idea is, pardon me, retarded.

    You are mixing up a lot of issues. India and China have less oil than the U.S., so they will have similar geopolitical motivations to move away from it. Interestingly, the US, India, and China all have a buttload of coal; what will be necessary is to strike a deal on using that, or at least sequestering the CO2. Sequestering carbon will probably increase generating costs by 20% or so (that's the number I recall). Factor in distribution costs and you're looking at a 10% increase at the outlet of the cost of electricity. Not insignificant but not exactly catastrophic. Transportation is more challenging but still feasible. Let GreenFuel [] get their technology mature and use the CO2 from the coal plants to make biodiesel. I don't know what the technology will be, but the point is it's not that hard to do. But right now utilities, oil companies, etc. don't have the incentives to do jack. We do need global consensus, (and yes, it's OK if North Korea and friends don't play), and that isn't easy. But to oversimplify, it really comes down to the US, China, India, and Russia. That's where most of the coal is. Oil will more or less take care of itself through the price of scarcity and where it's located. Natural gas is a low carbon/unit energy fuel, so we don't need to worry about it so much either. If we figure out how to mine the methane hydrate deposits, though, all bets are off!
  • by Schraegstrichpunkt (931443) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @10:18PM (#16848014) Homepage
    Will a tripling in global carbon emissions cause a 5 degree rise, or only a .005 degree rise? If the latter, do we really need to be worried about it?

    Given the potential consequences, if we don't know, wouldn't it be wise to err on the side of caution?

    We can always dump more CO2 into the atmosphere later if we learn that it won't be a significant problem.

  • Re:Moo (Score:3, Insightful)

    by IamTheRealMike (537420) on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @10:25PM (#16848064) Homepage

    George Monbiot always posts his stories in the Guardian to his website [] and they are always cross-referenced against various sources there (where it's feasable to do). Say what you like about him but Monbiot knows what he's doing and has covered a lot of very interesting stories - the usually turn out to be backed up with substance.

    Sensationalist? Yes. Smart? Fuck yes. A "moonbat"? Dumb names tell you more about the people using them than anything else.

  • by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris&beau,org> on Tuesday November 14, 2006 @11:31PM (#16848438)
    > it's all about risk management from here on in, and any individual's 'opinion' regarding the 'facts'
    > should be ignored.

    Exactly. RISK MANAGEMENT and FACTS are the last things the GW faithful want to discuss. Before we get to risk management we have to get down to real facts so that we can determine the ODDS of each proposed action, the cost of implementing it and the potential costs of not implementing. And Paul Erlich had a lot better 'facts' on his side than Al Gore does and was still WRONG, WRONG WRONG.

    > If the nay sayers are right, and there really isn't this terrible threat to our planet, then the worst that
    > can happen is that nothing will happen, whether we choose to change our world dramatically or not to
    > accommodate... we'll get cleaner air and a whole stack of other benefits for free.

    In your land of Fairie perhaps. Here on planet Earth nothing is "free", not even Free Software. (Said as a 90% Pure member of the GNU Generation.) Poverty, lost productivity, millions dead when resources are diverted away from lifting the third world into the 20th Century, high probability of a new Dark Age when it is realized the only way to force the required measures on people is to remove what little liberty remains in the West. Perhaps you don't consider these things to be a 'cost.' I do.

    > If on the other hand the tree hugging socialist swine you refer to are right, then not doing anything
    > about the problem MAY cause our civilization to suffer irreparably, or worse.

    The fallacy of a binary choice with an assumption of 50-50 odds. Almost as stupid as any argument that begins with "if it saves just one life...." or when they have to invoke "the children" to sell a crackpot idea. By your logic we should say screw global warming and devote all our industrial output to building an asteroid defense. We KNOW there is a danger there and that the odds of another strike approach 100% eventually.

    But we don't do that because sane people know the game of life is about risk management, not risk elimination. Is man made change to our environment a problem? Probably. Important enough, at this time, to kill millions over? No. Important enough to divert resources from other more pressing problems? No. And that is exactly what the choice you propose is all about. You utopians get these grand notions so you can feel better about yourselves... because YOU are enlightened.... because YOU care more. Same sort of binary decision insanity that banned DDT and caused tens of millions of dead bodies in the third world from malaria. Was/is DDT a problem? Yup, but one that with proper RISK MANAGEMENT could have still saved millions AND kept concentrations low enough to keep secondary effects to managable levels.
  • by TobascoKid (82629) on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @05:52AM (#16850038) Homepage
    What happens if you wait too long?

    What happens if instead of waiting, knee-jerk reactions take place instead, the world's economy is trashed and then it turns out that not only was CO2 not the threat that it was made out to be, it was actually a red herring and that something else was really behind global warming and, without a functioning economy, there's nothing we can do about it.

    I'm all for reducing CO2 emissions (actually, I'd like to see a reduction in all forms of pollution) but there has to be a way to reduce C02 that doesn't require the destruction of the worlds economy.
  • by Abcd1234 (188840) on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @10:19AM (#16852328) Homepage
    The biggest credibility problem, though, is simple: weathermen can't predict the weather next week. Climate != weather, but really - why would anyone think that people could predict the weather in the next 200 years when they can't see through to next week?

    Because there's a big difference between long-term trends and short term variation. But since that argument has already, apparently, flown clear over your head, there seems little point in trying to explain it again.
  • by DuBois (105200) on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @10:49AM (#16852780) Homepage
    1. Are we releasing millenia-old stores of H2O?
      A: No, but Gaia is. And are millenia-old stores of CO2 being released by volcanoes, ocean outgassing, and animals enough to even completely mask human "contributions"?
    2. We can add up the mass of CO2 in the atmosphere and compare with 100 years of burning that is how much we've added.
      A: Well, have you done that? Has anybody? Al Gore? Bueller? Bueller?
    3. What do animals breathe?
      A: 02. So?

    Three more questions:
    1. Why is the presence of other GHG a cause for CO2 NOT to be a GHG?
      A: Who said it wasn't? But if it is a minor contributor instead of the awful horror it is being made out to be by the CO2 detractors, then maybe the fuss is a smokescreen for something else.
    2. Why didn't you do the work yourself?
      A: "If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about the answers." -- Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow
    3. Why pick on only one compound?
      A: Good question. How about methane? How about the aforementioned H20 vapor? Consider "Does increasing carbon dioxide affect Earth's mean temperature? Yes, although probably only trivially and to a declining extent." []
  • by syphax (189065) on Wednesday November 15, 2006 @10:50AM (#16852798) Journal
    You seem to think the whole world is a very reasonable and honest place. I'm sorry to break it to you, but that just isn't so.
    Thanks for the newsflash, kid. Your conclusion seems to be that there is no hope for nations to cooperate, ever, because not everyone is 100% honest and reasonable. Bullshit.

    India has a shitload of people who would be threatened by sea level rise. China has atrocious air quality, and at some point their citizens are going to be pissed about their kids dying from asthma (increased wealth leads to people caring about these things- see: US, Clean Air Act). Keep in mind China has a wee problem with civil uprisings already.

    You are asking me to provide The Solution. I'm not that smart. But if you have a global carbon emissions cap and trade system, for instance, who benefits? Perhaps those countries with, say, low-cost labor that can crank out solar panels at $0.50 per Watt? Whom might that be? And would it be advantageous to have an agreement that stimulates global demand for such products?

    The point is, it's conceivable to have a framework that are potentially beneficial for these countries, and not overly injurious to us.

    Your powers of recall appear weak. Canada says it remains in Kyoto climate pact [], posted 12 hours ago. Australia didn't follow through because the US didn't. Sure, Canada's waffling and having a hard time. But that doesn't exactly excuse the US for failing to offer any constructive alternatives to the (admittedly flawed) Kyoto protocol.

    In the CO2 game, compared to our peers in Europe, we are the bad guy, if you think CO2 is a problem. If you don't, we're frickin heroes. I am rightly critical of the US when our leaders do not act in a fashion that is consistent with our country's greatness. I criticize not because I hate my country, but because I love what it stands for.

    Do you remember the Non-Proliferation Treaty []? It was created at the height of the Cold War. I would submit that the world is collectively much, much better off than if this treaty had never come into place. Sure, you have Iran and North Korea, and we have to deal with that.

    And how about the Montreal Protocol [] on CFCs? Did we have to go to war over that one? Or did countries see a mutual problem and actually agree to do something? Did the switch to CFC alternatives lead to massive economic upheaval?

    War (used to) require an immediate threat. No one (myself included) is going to send their kid to die invading another country to reduce their CO2 emissions. The threat is too vague. Like CFCs, it'll have to happen through diplomacy.

    Anyway, I'm done here. Good luck.
  • Re:name calling (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kwiqsilver (585008) on Friday November 17, 2006 @06:56PM (#16891960)
    Fact is is not all environmentalists are anticapitalists, sure some are but not all.

    That is correct. But I never said anything to the contrary. I said the true goal of the movement is anti-capitalism (i.e. socialism). And by that I don't mean that every person who sends money to Greenpeace or the Sierra Club is a card carrying communist. What I mean is the core people in the movement are socialists, and they're willing to manipulate their followers to achieve that goal. Patrick Moore (the co-founder of Greenpeace) left the organization, because they (like most of the movement) had lost their focus and were abandoning true environmental improvement for anti-capitalism.
    Most people who support the environmental movement are people who think it would be nice for their grandchildren to know what a whale is, or not to have to change that age old question to "why is the sky brown?", views that any non-nihlist would share. They don't realize that the people at the core of the movement are not the friendly tree-huggers that they appear to be. Just like most people who send money to PETA don't realize that PETA wants to outlaw carnivorism and even wants to outlaw keeping pets.

Pound for pound, the amoeba is the most vicious animal on earth.