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Comment Re:Grab some popcorn (Score 0) 434

We can't accurately predict the weather for 5 days

Can't predict a coinflip either, yet we can predict very accurately the average result of 10,000 coinflips. Same with climate, which is a long-term aggregate of countless individual weather events. But sure, all those thousands of egghead climate scientists from all over the planet are obviously just making shit up, right? And apparently coordinating it all in a massive global conspiracy.

It's not a fact.

Then how do you explain the vast amount of peer-reviewed evidence supporting it that's cited in the IPCC reports? Gonna wave that all away?

There certainly is a huge monetary motivation to say it's NOT a fact.

Fixed that for you. And if you doubt me, let me know if you find any monetary motivation bigger than $33 trillion in stranded assets. Or perhaps just compare salaries.

Everything they do makes it LOOK like they are covering shit up.

According to whom? Certainly the studies cited in the IPCC reports are about as clear as it can get. Every scientific institution and meteorological department in the world endorses its conclusions - are all of them also covering this shit up, risking their reputations and sabotaging everything science stands for? Or perhaps other interests just want you to think so? There's certainly plenty of direct evidence for that.

You want data? Oh we deleted it.

Oh look, found it again.

You have an opinion we don't agree with?

Then provide evidence to back it up, or STFU. That's how science works.

The curves don't match what we said was going to happen ten years ago?

They look OK to me.

Don't get me started on having Al Gore as a spokeman

Haha, nobody elected Gore as any sort of spokesman other than himself, and certainly he has ZERO to do with the scientific case for AGW. That's like saying the entire Republican party are frauds because Trump is kind of a dick.

show me a solution that does NOT put us back into the dark ages

Well first off, the type of solution has NOTHING to do with the existence of the problem. Seriously, are you really going to deny the problem even exists just because you don't like someone's proposed solution to it? Is that rational?

Second, there are any number of proposed solutions. Pick some that you like. Nuclear is fine by me, if you can make an economic case for it (and certainly in some areas it makes a lot of sense). Solar and wind are obvious choices to be part of the energy mix, particularly in areas where there's lot of sun and/or wind. Geothermal, wave power, thorium - there are plenty of carbon-neutral energy sources to choose from.

And for intermittency, power companies already have to deal with that, since no power plant is perfect - e.g. coal plants are offline 40-60% of the time, so they have to be covered too. The answer is wide distribution and redundancy from a variety of sources ("the wind always blows somewhere") with some storage to smooth it out. Doesn't have to be batteries, either - pumped hydro, thermal solar, compressed air storage - there's lots to choose from. There's plenty of studies and discussions of this around - here's one.

Comment Re:Grab some popcorn (Score 1) 434

The IPCC Working Group 2 report covers that.

Yes, there are certainly some positive benefits from climate change (which are indeed described in the WG2 report), and in the long term (hundreds/thousands of years), once the pace of change has settled down, some (mostly higher) latitudes will likely be significantly better off. However lower latitudes will likely be significantly worse off, and as more energy is pumped into the climate system then extreme weather events are likely to increase too.

But in the short term, the impacts are almost all negative, some massively so. The main reason for this is the rapid pace of the changes - our infrastructure and agriculture are all designed and located for our current climate, so as the climate changes (and we can already see it changing), then we will have to move/fix/protect/upgrade/relocate large amounts of our society along with it. Coastal cities will need levees to deal with higher storm surges, large areas of farmland will need more irrigation or flood protection, etc etc - and any countries or communities that can't afford those adaption costs (or have nowhere to move agriculture or population to) will suffer. The worst off will have to leave, creating refugees that will worsen international tensions - leading the DoD and NATO to class climate change as a "threat multiplier" that is already having visible effects.

Estimating the net monetary costs from these impacts is not easy, but some studies have been done, and they've all concluded the costs of later adaption far outweigh the costs of earlier action to mitigate climate change.

Comment Re:Grab some popcorn (Score 3, Informative) 434

I'm not sure we actually KNOW that the current warming trend is entirely man made

We know to a high level of scientific certainty. In fact, the evidence strongly suggests the world would still be slowly cooling, if it wasn't for our greenhouse gas emissions.

Given that the science behind this specific part of the question is far from conclusive

It absolutely is; that's why every scientific institution on the planet endorses the conclusion that we're causing the warming we're seeing. We can even quantify it - the IPCC AR5 WG1 summary says our emissions of CO2 alone have caused a radiative forcing of 1.68 W m^2 (+/- 0.3), plus another 0.97 W m^2 from methane - which dwarfs the cooling effects of atmospheric dust and nitrates at about -0.42 W m^2 in total. We know it's our CO2 that's causing it because a) we can easily measure the CO2 levels rising rapidly, and b) isotopic analysis shows a match with carbon from fossil fuels (not to mention the observed levels happen to agree nicely with our calculated emissions, and that nothing else has been observed that could come close to causing the effect we're seeing).

None of this attribution has anything to do with our land temperature models (which btw are working just fine).

What's still uncertain is exactly how much warming we'll see, and when. Not what's causing it.

Comment Re:Interesting idea.. (Score 1) 434

the same companies that fund almost ALL climate research

[Citation needed], but nice try at deflection. CRU itself says:

The Unit undertakes both pure and applied research, sponsored almost entirely by external contracts and grants from academic funding councils, government departments, intergovernmental agencies, charitable foundations, non-governmental organisations, commerce and industry.

Then there's NOAA and NASA, whose funding is from the government, not the fossil fuel industry, not to mention universities all over the world that run primarily on government grants. Do you have any evidence for this "$1 billion a year" from Big Oil? Or is it all undeclared, like Willie Soon's?

If Big Oil is such a proponent of climate change research, then how come over 80% of their public statements about it are misleading or outright denial?

Comment Re:Interesting idea.. (Score 3, Informative) 434

The American Petroleum Institute, in particular its members Exxon and Chevron, have been funding denial and manufacturing doubt ever since their own scientists told them of the risks of continued fossil fuel use back in the 80s (here is an empirical study describing their efforts to deny and deliberately misrepresent climate science findings, including from their own scientists).

And the reason fossil fuels appeared as cheap as they did was because the huge emission and pollution costs were being borne by the public, rather than the industry. If these externalised costs were factored in, the price of coal-fired electricity would triple (study) - and the RoI for investment in alternatives like renewables or nuclear would have been much larger. Likewise, the health and other external costs of oil exceeded $56 billion annually back in 2005, adding at least 23 to 38 cents per gallon (again without including climate costs).

External costs are a market failure. Regulation is one option to correct that failure, but it's not the only possible option. Feel free to choose a solution that fits your political preferences, but ignoring or hand-waving away the problem won't make it go away. You'll still be paying for it, with excessive health premiums, illnesses and lost productivity, and tens of thousands of avoidable deaths every year.

Comment Re:Alternative (Score -1, Troll) 434

And the fact that the oil companies deliberately misinformed everyone about the problems with oil, suppressing research and funding pro-oil campaigns they knew full well were untrue or misleading, is quietly glossed over in your attempt to blame anyone else? That's like blaming smokers for getting cancer from the cigarettes they were told were perfectly safe.

Comment Re:Alternative (Score 1, Insightful) 434

What kind of straw man is that? Nobody is suggesting banning all petroleum-based products - the health and climate impacts of plastics are tiny next to fossil fuels that are burned in vast quantities.

What's being demanded is that fossil fuel companies are held accountable for their deliberate misinformation campaigns, and for the hundreds of billions of avoidable health and societal costs that the entire public has had to bear, just so they could keep their bottom lines rosy by delaying as much as possible the inevitable transition to safer energy sources.

Comment Re:A lack of imagination? (Score 1) 285

You wouldn't go for the "nearest" candidate, you'd go for the asteroid that has the best combination of accessibility and return - probably 162173 Ryugu, an 850m closely-approaching asteroid which has quite reasonable delta-v requirements to get it here, and contains enough nickel & iron to turn an estimated $30B profit on $50-60B costs. We'll get even better estimates when Hayabusa 2 returns samples from it in 2020.

And of course I understand the money has to be diverted from other productive ventures - but a lot of the ventures people currently spend on are not particularly productive. Entertainment is a good example, and if we can divert even a small percentage of viewership towards a Mars mission then that has little real productivity cost elsewhere.

There's no denying the most compelling reasons to explore our solar system today are largely intangible. You're right that it's too soon to turn a guaranteed profit - but given that companies from Planetary Resources to SpaceX are already pursuing long-term plans to do exactly this, they clearly feel the benefits are sufficiently attractive to start investing immediately.

Comment Re:A lack of imagination? (Score 1) 285

There's a heck of a lot more than $5k on offer as a jackpot for asteroid mining, when most potential targets offer billions in estimated profits (commonly 20-30% RoI) and some even reaching trillions. There are very good reasons for the dozen or so companies currently working towards this to believe their investments will pay off, and in a reasonable timeframe.

But I'm gathering that you're not really opposed to commercial space development or robotic research, just politicians declaring arbitrary manned-flight goals, which is perhaps understandable, even when it worked out pretty well with Apollo. There are certainly scientific reasons to put humans in space, even if only to learn about how it affects those humans and what we can do about that, but there's not many commercial cases where it's currently worth the effort.

Nonetheless, there's still the other reasons I mentioned, which you didn't address. It's undeniably inspirational to a lot of people (because it certainly is "cool", and epic pioneering journeys make damn good TV as they found with Apollo - the entertainment rights alone could pay for a sizeable chunk of the cost). And habitat redundancy is a species survival issue, something we do not want to ignore forever. Plus it's a lot more feasible than you seem to think - at least in the opinion of Musk and his engineers, who probably have a better idea of that than you or I.

Comment Re:A lack of imagination? (Score 2) 285

So if you agree that pure research and long-shot investments can be worthwhile, despite no immediate prospect of profits, why do you feel that "sending a bunch of crap into space" is done for no reason?

Apart from the many ancillary benefits of space research (spinoff technologies, entertainment prospects etc), the science we learn in space and on other worlds is often clearly applicable to our own world, or at least could well be in the future.

And for human space travel, there's no denying the enormous inspirational boost that society gets when humans achieve something as epic as travelling to a different world. How many of today's terrestrial scientists and engineers, valuable and productive members of society, were inspired by their childhood memories of Apollo?

Then there's the prospect of vast resources in the asteroid belt, the longer-term objective of habitat redundancy for the species, general ongoing growth and expansion etc etc - all clearly beneficial to society, at least at longer time scales.

Comment Re:Not aggressive enough. (Score 4, Informative) 182

I'd like to see laws on the books that would require new commercial developments to include solar+battery for each housing unit.

This is one of the dumbest things we could do. In order to make a real change, alternative energy HAS TO ACTUALLY MAKE ECONOMIC SENSE.

It only sounds dumb if you keep ignoring the elephant in the room: external costs.

The economic fact of the matter is, fossil fuels cost us a lot more than the sticker price, and not only in nebulous future climate costs but in real, measurable damage to our health. US coal alone costs $300-500 billion a year, easily doubling the wholesale cost. When you look at the whole picture, it actually made economic sense to get off fossil fuels a long time ago, and what doesn't make sense is why people keep pretending these costs don't exist.

Since it's abundantly clear that the energy market is in no hurry to factor these external costs into their prices, the issue has to be forced - ideally by government evaluating full, levelised costs for all the alternatives then applying a suitable market correction (regulatory mandate, carbon price, cap & trade, whatever suits your politics), or the hard way - let the problem keep getting worse until the pain can no longer be ignored, and hope that the alternatives aren't too unattractive.

We've done exactly this in any number of other industries (sulphur emissions cone to mind), but the energy industry has been pushing back extra hard.

Comment Re:This strange stuff I heard of once... (Score 1) 624

Science is simply a collection of facts and theories of various quality.

Let me stop you right there. A collection of facts is called "evidence". Theories without evidence are called "hypotheses". Theories with evidence are called "theories", and a theory with sufficient evidence from independent sources to convince a majority of scientists in the field that it is highly unlikely to be methodological error is accepted as "knowledge" - unless/until it is superseded by a better theory that more completely or more elegantly explains the evidence. We call this process the "scientific method", and I'll thank you not to redefine it.

The knowledge that humans are causing the climate change we're seeing is a result of the tens of thousands of peer-reviewed papers in dozens of different geophysical fields accumulated over decades, which have convinced the vast majority of practicing scientists in those fields that yes, AGW is really a thing. Of course there is plenty of science to be done in the details of "where" and "when" and "how much" etc, but unless/until someone comes up an alternate theory that better explains all the evidence then anyone simply claiming "the scientists are wrong and this one guy is right" is going to get dismissed out of hand.

The fact that you cite only a blog (that cites only other blogs) to back up your claim, while ignoring the vast number of peer-reviewed studies showing otherwise (rigorously cited and summarised in the IPCC reports), not to mention the considered conclusions of every major scientific, academic, and meteorological organisation on the planet, shows only that you are happy to cherry-pick your sources and aren't too concerned about quality of evidence. Your claim that your practical expertise in a single aspect somehow enables you to contradict the conclusions of thousands of trained and practicing climatologists from many other fields who have spent decades actually gathering evidence shows only that you don't realise how little you actually know about those fields.

More directly, your evidence-free claim that contrary science is being suppressed is pure conspiracy fodder. Your reference to "money to be made" might actually be on the ball - if you had noticed that there was vastly more money being made by those with an interest in seeing climate science discredited, not to mention no shortage of documented evidence of those interests spending hundreds of millions doing exactly that. BTW I'm happy to cite reputable sources for any of these statements, but I'm assuming at this stage that you're unlikely to consider new evidence.

And if you think pages as provably wrong as that CO2 denial link are convincing, then think again. Point 1 is nonsense (greenhouse gases work by re-emission of energy back towards the surface, not just absorbing it), point 2 is apparently claiming that the Stefan-Boltzmann constant has been wrong all this time (who knew), and point 3 is true but irrelevant to the issue, which is how much energy is effectively blocked. This shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the issue, perhaps stemming from the simplified popular explanation of CO2 as a "blanket" that is getting thicker, but of course the actual atmospheric science is rather more nuanced than this (as practicing climatologists are well aware).

For example, it's true that the atmospheric column as a whole already absorbs most of the IR on the CO2 absorption bands - but it cannot be "completely opaque" as absorption is logarithmic, and thus some IR still gets through. Secondly, it's much easier for IR to escape from the uppermost layers of the atmosphere where CO2 is thinner, so increasing CO2 makes a significant difference to the energy radiated from there. And third, we've directly measured the decreasing IR radiation in those CO2 bands from satellites, so we have hard experimental evidence of the increasing greenhouse effect in action.

Comment Re:Required them to buy offshore wind?? (Score 1) 228

How about if it was something that the customers needed anyway, and the choice was between a product with most of its costs up-front, and a cheaper-looking but dirtier product that cost consumers and society a lot more in the longer term? Obviously the first is a better investment overall, but the second would still look attractive to many, unless a way was found to make the greater costs more obvious.

I'm not a fan of heavy-handed legislation either, but when the current alternative is a product that is popular only because its hundreds of billions of annual external health costs (in the US alone) are not being factored into the sticker price, then it seems obvious to me that leaving it solely up the free market is clearly not in our best interest.

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