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Cleaner Air Adds To Global Warming 751

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

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  • No, no, no... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Cally ( 10873 ) on Friday April 07, 2006 @12:57PM (#15085437) Homepage
    The story submitter has profoundly misunderstood the BBC story.
    "> reduced air pollution and increased water evaporation appears to be
    >adding to man-made global warming.

    Actually, the pollution was (or 'is', in southern Asia and China) *masking* the effects of increased warming at ground level. Cleaning up the air doesn't add additional forcing; it merely keeps it elsewhere.

    I don't think I can bear to read the following hundreds of ignorant "I've heard it's all due to the sun getting hotter" crap we always get on Slashdot AGW stories. If you think that, you don't know what you're talking about. Go away and read Real Climate [] or, for a comprehensive refutation of all the trolls we can expect to see attached to this story, please refer to this excellent debunking of so-called 'sceptic' canards, lies and deliberate mis-statements of facts [].

  • by hawkfish ( 8978 ) on Friday April 07, 2006 @01:06PM (#15085560) Homepage
    In the 70s, scientists were absolutely convinced that they'd mastered the complex climate change models, and confidently assured us all that an Ice Age was imminent.
    No they didn't [].
    And not only does it appear that global warming is much greater in scope than any amount of anthropogenic factors can account for
    No it isn't [].
    it also appears that there's not much we can do about it anyway.
    If we can cause the problem, we can fix it. The only question is, will we?
  • Re:Angels Down? (Score:5, Informative)

    by JasonKChapman ( 842766 ) on Friday April 07, 2006 @01:06PM (#15085563) Homepage
    he referred in that book to a world that was suffering from an ice age, but that was not the issue, and it was not solved it in the text...

    Acutally, the book was Fallen Angels [] by Jerry Pournelle and Michael Flynn, and it went a little further than that. The ice age had been held off by pollution-related greenhouse warming. It was only after the world cleaned up its act that the ice age came on.

    It's a great book. The heroes were SF fans.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 07, 2006 @01:08PM (#15085583)
    About seven years ago, I was reading an astronomy magazine that discussed the effect of increased solar output on the environment. The helio physicist in the magazine said the effect would depend on the response of the strong greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. The most significant gas he was most concerned about was water. He wasn't much concerned about any of the other gasses.
    When you look at it, water vapor is far more powerful than CO2 and far more plentiful.
    Maybe it is time we look at the effect irigation has on the environment. We might (or might not) be able to substantially reduce global warming by banning lawn sprinklers. It would be truly ironic if our quest for a green lawn, using grasses that only seem to survive natively in England and Kentucky, were the cause of global warming.
  • by muyuubyou ( 621373 ) on Friday April 07, 2006 @01:11PM (#15085617)
    I can travel 30 miles in any direction and be far far from any 'over population'.
    Which doesn't matter in the slightest. They are consuming resources from all over the world, be it the Amazon rainforest, oil from Saudi Arabia or cheap manufactured goods from polluting factories in southern China.
  • by code shady ( 637051 ) on Friday April 07, 2006 @01:13PM (#15085641) Homepage

    No, really, it is.

    Each gas that comprises the atmosphere has the capability to act as a greenhouse gas, and each one blocks different wavelengths of infared radiation. Some of then trap it when the sunlight passes through the atmosphere, some of them capture it when the radiation bounces off the earths surface back into the atmosphere.

    C02, Methane, and *gasp* water vapor all contribute to heat retention in the atmosphere. It's basic Geography 101 shit that everyone learns.

    However, since water vapor is, you know, an integral part of the atmosphere and several cycles on earth, we really can't do much about that. Better to worry about all the other gasses we up dump into the atmosphere that we can control.

  • by techno-vampire ( 666512 ) on Friday April 07, 2006 @01:17PM (#15085705) Homepage
    Volcanos add to global warming by releasing CO2, and to cooling by releasing clouds of ash. Sometimes one predominates, sometimes the other. It can go either way.
  • What an amazingly short-sighted view you have! If you're right, I suppose that means I should just go step out back and burn some plastic.

    Even if you don't believe in a human contribution to global warming (hint: even the bush administration is admitting a link now, although they seem to think we shouldn't do anything about it) you must realize that things are getting worse for the humans. The majority of our oxygen comes from oceanic algae (the rainforest consumes almost as much oxygen in decomposition as it produces in the first place) and we're killing it off. When CO2 levels rise, bad things happen to all animals, but we don't seem to be capable of significantly checking our CO2 production.

    One very simple principle of successful existence is that you don't shit where you eat. We're breaking that rule, and we're suffering for it, whether global warming is real or not. Which it probably is. All inputs cause output. We're creating a great deal of input. You really think that's not going to make anything happen? We put out something like 50 times more CO2 per year than all the world's volcanoes put together...

  • by stupidfoo ( 836212 ) on Friday April 07, 2006 @01:30PM (#15085856)
    reach almost universal agreement in the scientific community

    There is tacit agreement that the earth is heating up, not that the cause of it is man made. These are two very different things.

    There is also a large degree of opinion among those who think humans are to blame. Are they:

    Causing most of the change, with minimal amounts of change being natural
    Causing some of the change, and other parts are natural
    Causing minimal change, and most of the change is natural

    There is also a hugely varying amount of opinion on what, exactly, will happen if the earth continues to heat up.

    Three major ones are:
    1. Ice Age
    2. A warmer planet
    3. Earth becomes Venus
  • by Theatetus ( 521747 ) on Friday April 07, 2006 @01:41PM (#15085988) Journal
    Two degrees? On the surface? That's the best scare you can give us? Two degrees is nothing! Industrial revolution, mass globalization, nuclear weapon testing - and two degrees?!

    OK, dude, time for calorimetry 101. Let's assume for a second that the temperature increase was just for the oceans (to avoid messing around with too many different specific heats). Let's further assume that it only applies to the top centimeter of the water (ie, the rest of the oceans are not affected). What would the impact be of a 2 degree fahrenheit increase in the surface temperature?

    • The oceans are 361,000,000 square km, which is 3.61e18 square cm, which by the assumption would yield 3.61e18 cc of water raised by 2 degrees F
    • 2 degrees F difference is 1.11 Kelvin difference
    • The specific heat of water is 1 cal / g * k, and the density of water is 1 g / cc (yes, ocean water is slightly less dense and has a slightly higher specific heat; the ballpark will be correct though)
    • So, the amount of extra energy this represents is temperature * mass * specific heat (which then factors out since it's 1): 1.11 k * 3.61e18 g * 1 cal / gk = 4.01e18 calories
    • 4,010,000,000,000,000,000 cal (that's 4 quintillion calories), or 1.68e19 joules, or approximately 4010 megatons of TNT, or about 1000 modern middle sized nuclear devices

    That's a lot of energy to have floating around that we didn't used to have.

  • Re:No, no, no... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 07, 2006 @01:49PM (#15086090)
    The sun IS burning hotter.

    yeah, yeah, solar cycles. Now kindly go and correlate data on solar activity with temperature measurements on Earth over more than the last several years and see if you can spot a pattern to explain the current temperature increase. It's OK if you don't - you'll not be the only one. Oh, but what if there are longer cycles that we didn't notice yet? you may ask. Well, if they had a period long enough not to be seen in direct solar observations yet short enough to explain the sharpness of the current teperature increase then there would have been other such spikes in the data for Earth's temperatures since the last glaciation, wouldn't they? It's a simple exercise - take the temperature data for the largest reliable range we have, do a Fourier transform on it and look at the spectrum with and without the data from the last 20 years. If we're following a cycle, its frequency should show up in both cases.

    Global Warming is just this week's excuse because you guys decided fear might sell better than greed and class envy.

    Right. Forget that suggestion about analyzing the data yourself. Now please don't let any actual science hit youon your way out.
  • Re:No, no, no... (Score:3, Informative)

    by MindStalker ( 22827 ) <> on Friday April 07, 2006 @02:11PM (#15086280) Journal
    sharpness of the current teperature increase Sharpness, I'm sorry yes I agree that there is a temperature increase, but you can't call a world wide average of 1 degree "sharp". Hell by some methods after canceling out urban effect (concrete areas having more heat yadayadayada) your looking at a .2 increase. I'm not saying its not happening, but sharp isn't the world for it.
  • by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Friday April 07, 2006 @02:16PM (#15086333) Homepage Journal
    You're twisting reality pretty severely. Most agriculture in the U.S. is done on land that you would describe as unarable. According to, the U.S. is in the 35-49% range (1), i.e. 35-49% of land is used for agriculture. Thus, if only 19% is so-called "arable land," we must be growing at least half our crops on land that is artificially irrigated. Not a surprise if you've ever lived in the South....

    Thus, by your math, the U.S. can provide all of the agricultural products that it needs, and this is supported by the positive balance of agricultural trade that the U.S. has shown for the last 40 years (2). We ship out things that we can grow more easily (e.g. corn), and import things that we can't (e.g. rice). That margin is dwindling, and we may start to import a bit more than we export, but this is primarily due to an increase in import of consumer-oriented products, not bulk imports. This suggests that to a large extent, this is due to consumers being more savvy and choosing to buy more imported products for variety, rather than because we can't produce enough food.

    Anybody who says that that the U.S. can't feed itself is either misinformed or outright lying. Either way, that's a sure sign of somebody with a political agenda.

    1. Source: []
    2. Source: []

  • In the 70s, scientists were absolutely convinced that they'd mastered the complex climate change models, and confidently assured us all that an Ice Age was imminent.

    No they didn't.

    Yes, yes, they did. Perhaps you're too young to remember the scare, but I very clearly remember being terrified after listening to a scientist explaining to the viewing audience that we were all going to starve to death in the near future. Your link is quite convincing, and I'd probably believe it if it weren't for the fact that I was there and I remember what was said.

  • by barawn ( 25691 ) on Friday April 07, 2006 @02:23PM (#15086396) Homepage
    Yes, yes, they did. Perhaps you're too young to remember the scare, but I very clearly remember being terrified after listening to a scientist explaining to the viewing audience that we were all going to starve to death in the near future.

    You were watching the scientist in the media. What the media thinks and what science actually thinks are two totally different things.

    The media was convinced that cold fusion was real. Science was notably more skeptical.

    Now, if you're trying to say that global warming is just "science in the media" again, that's a valid criticism - but it's also wrong, as many of the studies on 'is there scientific consensus regarding global warming' have shown.

    Had you done the same studies in the 1970s, you would not have found the same result regarding global cooling. See the link. They specifically quote papers that say "yah, we don't have a clue."
  • Re:Angels Down? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 07, 2006 @03:35PM (#15087042)
    Global dimming is a fairly new scientific concept, and it's increasingly making sense to a lot of reasearchers out there. Neat understandable shortversion @ wikipedia as usual: []
  • by Eccles ( 932 ) on Friday April 07, 2006 @03:37PM (#15087059) Journal
    These days, your cousin is a relative rarity, at least in the First World. Americans are reproducing slightly below the break-even level (approx. 2.1 kids per woman), while Western Europe and Japan are well below that. Some countries even have programs to encourage people to have kids so the population doesn't drop at too rapid a rate (it would be tough medically to have 90% of the population be 50 or above.)

    Now, because of the aging of the population and immigration, this hasn't translated into negative population growth yet.
  • by RsG ( 809189 ) on Friday April 07, 2006 @03:54PM (#15087214)
    Actually, not "reflected", but rather "radiated".

    The greenhouse effect does not affect the rate of heat absorbtion of the planet; instead it affects the rate of heat dissipation by slowing the rate at which heat radiates into space (IIRC, this has to do with the amount of IR radiation reflected by Co2 in the upper atmosphere).

    Ice ages happen when the rate of reflection increases; glacial growth leads to more of the planet covered by reflective ice, leads to lower temperatures, leads to glacial growth (loop). That may have been what you were thinking of.

    I suppose global warming might make less light reflect back into space if the glaciers recede further, in which case there would be actual reflection involved. But that would be a side effect if it did happen, and I don't know enough meteorology to make an educated guess.
  • Re:not that far off (Score:3, Informative)

    by MajorDick ( 735308 ) on Friday April 07, 2006 @04:37PM (#15087593)
    OK, here goes "Power generation from most current power plants, even coal burning ones, are less polluting per watt of power output than an internal combustion engine".

    At the powerplant Yes , at the Wheel NO, not even close.

    Average loss in transmission is around 25-30% , Right there is enough, to make them equal.
    And thats just on the high side, then look at step down transformer loss at around 5%

    Ok, now on to transforming AC to DC and Charging the batteries. Here loss is around 20% depending on whos system youre using.

    Now Transfer from storage battery to motor. Here the MOST efficent systems are running 85% so lets say at a minmum 15%

    Then estimate drivetrain loss at on a direct drive electric at %5 based on average. What you have is a 75% loss from the original power generation to the wheels.

    I would be more than HAPPY to provide you the resources to do your own calculations.
    I suggest the Handbook of Electric Power Calculations , mine is 2nd edition but third is out.

    So While what you say is true at the plant (and only by a small margin) is nowhere even close to reality in the real world applications.
    175% is damm close to "Twice"

    Do most people on slashdot really pull shit out of their asses or their uninformed minds and just post it ?
  • Re:not that far off (Score:3, Informative)

    by locofungus ( 179280 ) on Saturday April 08, 2006 @03:04PM (#15091821)
    Your calculations are wrong. (using your figures)
    Transmission efficiency * transformer efficiency * charging efficiency * storage to motor efficiency * drivetrain efficiency = .7*.95*.8*.85*.95 = .43 (57% loss)

    This is better than pump to wheel for an IC engine powered car.

    I don't have, and can't find, the figures for refining crude but I've seen claims that the cost of refining a barrel of oil in 2004 was $10 so I'll assume 25% loss.

    Gas fired electricity plants say 50% efficient. (probably can do better) .43*.5 = 22% efficiency for an electric car powered by gas fired powerstation. .3*.75 = 23% efficiency for a gasoline powered car. (Not sure what you meant when you said "Right there is enough, to make them equal" with regards to the 25-30% losses in transmission - this is losses in transmission, but efficiency for a car - read about the air otto cycle in any undergraduate thermodynamics textbook if you really think cars are getting 70-75% thermal efficiency)

    The best you are ever going to get from an IC engine is about 50% efficiency - the biggest marine diesels can just exceed 50% thermal efficiency when run in their most efficient configuration.

    Push that powerstation efficiency up to 60% and you are going to struggle to build an IC engined car that doesn't have more losses in the car than the entire energy chain has for the electric car.


"I shall expect a chemical cure for psychopathic behavior by 10 A.M. tomorrow, or I'll have your guts for spaghetti." -- a comic panel by Cotham