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Global Warming Worse Than Thought 624

Posted by Hemos
from the continuing- dept.
yulek writes "This AP article summarizes the IPCC report released today which states that global temperatures will rise as much as 5.8 degrees instead of the 3.5 degrees (C) originally estimated for the period between 1990 and 2100. The U.S. is still the primary culprit responsible for 25% of climate affecting pollution."
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Global Warming Worse Then Thought

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  • And no, it's not just a localized phenomenon. It's cold in CA. Siberia is having their coldest winter ever. It's 30F in Florida! It's so cold that oil and electricity demand for heating is at near strangulation levels. There is no global warming . In the 1920s, all the environmentalists were freaked about global COOLING. When weathermen can't predict the weather tomorrow, you expect anyone to belive that warming trends for the next 100 years can be predicted? Put down the crack pipe now.

    "When it gets warmer everywhere that's global warming. When it gets colder everywhere, that's global warming." Youz gotz ta be grokkin' dat leftist liberalz logic, man!

    When you can explain what caused the last Ice Age or the warm period 65e7 years ago, I'll believe you can even guess at the next 100 years. But to predict weather changes over goelogic timer periods with a loust 70 years of worldwide weather data is like predicting the stock market 200 years from now based on today's Wall Street Journal. It's not just stupid. It's collosall fucking insanity.

  • If you're charging the batteries with your gasoline engine, that's the same as charging them with coal-produced electricity! It's just a bit more efficient because of the regenerative braking. Leave that out, and the car is a heavy, inefficient, unreliable, STUPID design.

    Actually, no. Internal combustion engines run best (and cleanest) at constant load/rpm. Electric motors don't care. The idea is to keep the energy density and the lack of (electrical) transmission losses, but gain the efficiency of an engine running at constant speed.

    With good design, the overall system may be simpler. After all, no more hydraulic transmission and no constant adjustment of engine parameters (by computer) to adjust for current loading and RPM. With a small booster battery (small reletive to electric only vehicles that is), the engine can be smaller since it no longer has to have enough power for quick acceleration (on acceleration, the battery drains and is replenished while cruising and during braking).

  • Molecule length is not the only factor in octane rating, but when you compare molecules of the same family (in this case the alkanes), then the smaller molecules will have a higher octane rating that larger ones. Obviously, you can't compare methane and methanol, which would be a similar size, and expect similar octane ratings because alcohols and alkanes are significantly different. But octane number also increases with branched isomers, as well as with having double bonds (aklenes or olefins) or being an aromatic (benzene or toulene). Of course, you can't just add octane numbers together for a gas mixture, as it's not an associative property -- you have to test the mixture (which the above post pretty much has correct).

    One more quick point: if the mixture of hydrocarbons has a octane number of X, then it has the same knocking characteristics of a mixture of X% of iso-octane and (100-X)% n-heptane (thus why those two are assigned 100 and , respectively).

    But the key point I was trying to make is that when you do deep HDS, you will increasingly break down the branched alkanes and alkenes (with high octane numbers) to smaller straight-chained alkanes (with pitiful octane numbers) as you increase the sulfur removal level.

  • by Masem (1171) on Monday January 22, 2001 @06:37PM (#489052)
    While reducing emissions is a good thing, it's one of those things where you reach a practical limit before cost well outweighs effectiveness.

    A good example is the process of hydrodesulfurization (HDS). Sulfur is a natural component of crude oil; gas that is burnt with sulfur in it will produce sulfur dioxide, which, of course, is bad as it helps with smog creation. In addition, sulfur is what causes most cat converters to degrade, and if/when we go to fuel cells, sulfur will completely ruin the typical fuel cell catalyst (platinum based).

    So the process of HDS removes sulfur from the crude oil to create hydrogen sulfide and clean hydrocarbons; in this form, it's easy to extract the hydrogen sulfide and convert it separately to a non-toxic/hazardous waste form. The problem is is that the sulfur is buried deep in the molecules of hydrocarbon, and to remove these sulfurs will generally destroy the hydrocarbon into smaller pieces.

    Now we base our gasoline ratings on octane number, which is a combination of how large the hydrocarbons are and how many are olefins (double bonds) or not; a large number of long-chained hydrocarbons or olefins increases the octane number. If you try to remove all the sulfur before you distribute the gas, the octane number will drop terribly, and the gas will be worse than with the sulfur in it, as there's a better chance of CO production and reduced feul efficiency from low octane gas. So there's a practical balance between the effective sulfur removal levels, and the quality of gasoline that we get.

    Mind you, as we head towards feul cells that can use methanol or ethanol as produced by bioproducts as opposed to crude, the amount of sulfur to start with will be much lower, and octane number will not be as great; you still need to deal with it, but you don't really have to worry that much about how much fragmentation of the hydrocarbon that you get.

    Now, IMO, most of the problem with Global Warming is not a result of the last 20 years, but of the first 40 years of the 20th century with the unfettered industrial revolution and two wars that introduced aircraft to the world. Since at least 1960, we've been aware of environmental damage, and while it may have not been a consumer issue until the 1980s, we as scientists and engineers were already aware of it and layed the groundwork for what research is being done today to continually improve what we've got. I also think that we still don't have sufficient evidence to yet conclude if we are in a warming or cooling cycle for the planet, though I can't disagree that mankind has had a small effect.

  • The Satanic Gases [amazon.com]. Lots of facts about global warming.

    Through Green-Colored Glasses: Environmentalism Reconsidered. [amazon.com]

    Earth Report 2000: Revisiting the True State of the Planet. [amazon.com] And spare the criticism bias -- the same can be done for the U.N. organization that released the global warming alarm call.
    The Ultimate Resource 2 [amazon.com] Julian Simon's excellent work on population & global trends.

    The State of Humanity [amazon.com]

    Note: I'm actually in favor of reducing greenhouse emissions. At the same time, I find it disconcertaining that a lot of environmental rhetoric has a tremendous amount of counter-cultural, anti-corporate, 'fuck the man'-type reasoning that I have a hard time taking seriously. I found these books to have moments of objectivity in them (and definte moments of bias at times, but who can really be free of it?)

    If you were looking for scientific papers, sorry, I don't carry a library in my backyard.
  • by joss (1346) on Tuesday January 23, 2001 @12:24AM (#489056) Homepage
    Do you really believe this ?

    I can't tell whether you are a clever troll of just genuninely deluded.

    USA has many (not terribly effective) local controls, but on a global scale is biggest polluter. Also, it is the country which managed to scupper the last two world environmental summits by refusing to sign up for lower emissions, and trying to get an exemption so that you wouldn't have to reduce your emissions to a level similar to rest of industrialised world. Your standards are the *worst* in the world for a major economy.

    You're like the family that is always throwing garbage into the street, but says "but we're the cleanest household on the street, I clean my stove twice a day".

  • Hybrids are a stopgap. They do not solve the problem, (global warming) longterm. They introduce needless mechanical complexity which is good for the automotive and automotive repair industry, but bad for the consumer. They still don't improve the crappy weight and aerodynamic trade-offs that have to be made to create an efficient vehicle. Long term, full-on electric (or fuel-cell) is the only answer. Hybrids only get us closer until real batteries are available.
  • I recently took a tour of California's Diablo Canyon nuclear plant.

    The on site security force was quite impressive.
    Armed guards, background checks, metal detectors and xrays.
    The guards were armed with AR-15's, pistols, MP-5's, and they even had a shooting range on site.
  • hm. cancer? or starvation and loss of standard of living?

    i'll take the cancer, I guess. :(
  • by jafac (1449) on Tuesday January 23, 2001 @09:55AM (#489060) Homepage
    electric cars are not necessarily a stupid idea ; according to Bill Nye. I watch his show, and he elucidated, to my 6 year old son, how electric cars are good because if you have a bunch of fossil-fuel burners spread out all over a city, generating smog, you can't easily do anything about it except ask people to curtail their driving.
    But if those are electric cars, the polution is produced at a big plant, instead of spread out, so you can do things, like filter it, or improve the generation technology (using nuclear instead of coal, etc). Electricity is electricity, and eventually, I believe that is the way cars are going to go, but definately NOT with today's battery and generation technology. The trade-offs that have to be made for weight and aerodynamics make for a very undesireable car.
  • I've heard this argument (roughly: "mankind isn't causing global warming -- it's a normal, natural shift in the planet's temperature") several times.

    The point is moot. Whatever the cause, it's going to cause problems for mankind (water levels rising, habitable permafrost melting away, places which were previously only tolerably hot becoming too warm to set foot in, blah blah blah).

    We're faced with a choice: either adapt to it, or slow it down (or to me more realistic, a little of both).

    However, the levels of CO2 in the air have shot up wildly in the last 2 centuries, and the mechanism by which this is said to cause warming seems pretty logical to me. I'll bet industrialisation and forest depletion is at least a contributary factor.
    --
  • Apparently, naturally occuring carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide gases are causing more harm than artificial hydrofluorocarbons (HFC), perfluorocarbons (PFC), and sulfurhexafluorides (SF6). I'd say they need more sinks.

    From the EPA's page " Most of these emissions, about 82%, are from burning fossil fuels to generate electricity and power our cars. The remaining emissions are from methane from wastes in our landfills, raising livestock, natural gas pipelines, and coal, as well as from industrial chemicals and other sources."

    If the Carbon Dioxide is synthesized in an internal combustion engine, or in a coal burning powerplant, it is not "naturally" occurring. Don't blame a decaying swamp for the emmisions from your SUV. Besides, Carbon sinks are overrated. Rapidly growing forests absorb the most Carbon Dioxide, but many forests in the United States are essentially stable. Natural decay processes may also eventually rerelease CO2 into the atmosphere.

  • "I know some people will cry about Chernobyl, but that incident really just goes to show you the drawbacks of communism, not nuclear power."

    That's not really a fair statement. Certainly the Russian communist system seems to have bred the kind of incompetence and laziness that led to Chernobyl, but you would be naive to think that these traits don't exist in spades under capitalism. Corporate culture is some ways similar to communism, in that it provides individuals all sorts of ways of abdicating personal responsibility.

    I do agree that nuclear research should be pursued as an important counter-measure to global warming, but the problems with nuclear power generation are not limited to the potential for catastrophes such as Chernobyl. Modern reactor designs may be theoretically safer, but the process still produces (to my mind) an unacceptably large amount of toxic waste.

  • "I say the Ice Age is coming."

    Don't joke about it. Here in Ireland, one of the most likely effects of global warming will be the diversion of the Gulf Stream - the warm air current which provides us with the temperate climate we enjoy here on the Western edge of Europe. If this current is disrupted, we will no longer be shielded from the extremes of low temperature experienced by areas on the same latitude, such as Newfoundland. The global increase in temperature will be more than offset by savage wintry conditions.

    The only question is: will this happen before or after the island sinks beneath the waves of all that polar ice meltwater?

  • I knew I had heard of the so-called "Greening Earth Society" before, but couldn't quite place them. Then I read to the bottom of their "The CO2 Issue" page [greeningearthsociety.org]:

    Western Fuels Association, founders of the Greening Earth Society, continues to engage this issue at a leadership level. One way we do this is by partnership with the National Mining Association (NMA). Western Fuels and NMA will dedicate substantial resources in resisting the EPAs initiative to regulate CO2 as a pollutant under the Clean Air Act. Western Fuels also continues to defend Americans reliance on fossil fuels through grassroots mobilization.

    Folks, I won't even bother making fun of this. The "Greening Earth Society" is a joke of an astroturf campaing fronted by a coal mining cartel. Couple the link to obvious astroturf site with nonsense sentences like "Further, the technology developed to help handle global warming, such as more energy efficient devices, would be useful just in the context of on an expanding popular", and you've got a rather sad troll. But at least Mr. Alien54 is indirectly helping to spread the word of Greening Earth's astroturf status.

    -Isaac

  • I think you're going to find that most of them were taken in the center of metripolitan areas.

    What's present all over those areas?

    Concrete and Asphalt.

    These absorb heat and slowly, but slowly release it.

    Measured temperatures are on the average 3-7 degrees colder on the outskirts of the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex when compared with the inner cities or the measuring points at DFW International Airport, Love Field, or Meecham.

    While I'm not saying they're wrong, I'm asking that they and everyone else happen to have more accurate data points before making statements.
  • I live in Houston. Mass Transit doesn't work well here because our population density is so low.

    Plus our major cities are spread out quite a ways:

    Distance from Houston
    City Direction Miles Kilometers
    Dallas North 239 384
    Corpus Christi South 220 355
    El Paso West 749 1202
    Orange East 110 177
    Tried to make this look nicer, but no HTML table's allowed :-(

    Orange and El Paso on on opposite sides of our state, 859 miles(1379 km) apart.

    Another factor in the equation is the Houston area alone has about 60% of the nation's(not just Texas but the entire country!) petrochemical processing.

  • Interesting tradeoff - instead of worrying about Global Warming, the survivors of WW III (ie: you can bet you're ass we won't go down alone) will be worried about surviving a Nuclear Winter.
  • You don't find it the least bit odd that the octane rating has little to do with the presence of octane?

  • In the long term, do you think we'll be synthesizing gasoline? Perhaps wood alcohol, but that'll be a hell of a lot more expensive than the stuff we're currently pumping out of finite ground reserves, and I suspect battery/fuel cell improvements will make all-electric cars superior.
  • But, we have never had a disaster that has wiped out all higher life, although the Dinosaurs certainly took a hit, but it still didn't wipe out all the higher vertebrates. Doesn't this indicate that the earth has incredibly powerful equilibrium mechanisms that we probably don't fully understand, primarily because of our lack of historical perspective?

    In case you're listening to doomsayers for your global warming news, let me bring things back into perspective. Nobody is worried that global warming will boil the oceans and wipe out all vertebrate life. Many people are worried that global warming will cause trillions of dollars worth of flooding damage, reduced crop production, etc. The other vertebrate species don't have billions of members living in difficult to abandon habitats in coastal regions, or dependent on high-yield agriculture; nor do they understand/care if drought-induced starvation cuts their population by a fraction.
  • The problem with the power in California is that the power producers turned plants off in order to reduce supply and drive up prices.

    Despite Mr. Bush's feverent wishes, all those plants could be turned back on and run at 100% capacity without violating any environmental regulations.

    Therefore the regulations have absolutely nothing to do with the power shortage.

  • The current attitude towards nuclear power is ridiculous.

    The truth is that nuclear power is much more expensive than oil, coal, or gas power. If nuclear power suddenly became cheaper than coal, I'm sure the NIMBY/enviro factor could be overcome.

    It is my belief that over the next 50 years, there will not be a significant (inflation adusted) increase in the price of oil, and this will be a significant confounding factor to attempts to reduce CO2 emissions. Crude oil only costs $1-$2 per barrel to pump from middle east countries right now, so theoretically the price of refined oil could be as low as $5-$10 per barrel and still be profitable for them.

    Our only hope is a fuel cell mechanism to extract energy from oil and that does not produce CO2 gas.
  • Too bad I've already posted in this thread. Someone, please mod the parent up!

    --

  • This is what happens when you can't use nuclear fission to produce most of your power, thanks to the pseudo-environmentalists and NIMBYists and their shortsighted anti-everything stance.

    So, those of you who are so deathly afraid of nuclear power, tell me: would you prefer to generate your power using "clean" natural gas which emits lots of CO2 and get an increase in the global temperature of 5 degC, or would you prefer to generate your power using "dangerous" nuclear power (not with the old RBMK technology that everyone loves to point to when they think of nuclear power, but with real modern nuclear designs like the Integral Fast Reactor) and deal with the "problem" of disposing of the comparatively little waste produced? Sorry, you don't get any other choices, because nothing else even comes close (coal and oil? Puhleeze. Solar? Yeah right...let me know when the production of a cell uses less power than the cell can generate over its lifetime. Hydro? How many ecosystems do you want to destroy in the process of building it? Wave? How many plants would you have to build to generate enough power, and what effect will it have on the coastline ecology?).

    Bottom line: you're going to affect the world around you if you generate power. Conservation helps but it won't help nearly enough and, in any case, why do it when you can generate your power using something as clean as nuclear?

    But, of course, nuclear power will never happen in this country thanks to the very people I'm talking about, so I guess we're all just going to have to deal with a hotter world (if the prediction referred to is correct).



    --
  • Reason magazine ran an article [reason.com] by Gregory Benford a few years ago that suggests many possibilities for a technological fix, giving the pros and cons to each proposal. Some of the ideas explored were to plant a lot of trees, to seed the oceans with iron, and to increase the reflectivity of the planet My favorite idea is what Benford calls "the geritol solution" of seeding the oceans with iron filings to produce plankton blooms to soak up the CO2. This might even be done at a profit if the resultant fishing rights are properly exploited.

    That approach, invented and pioneered by scientist John Martin, definitely shows promise [palomar.edu].

  • by GlenRaphael (8539) on Monday January 22, 2001 @08:17PM (#489103) Homepage
    According to this page [stanford.edu] from John McCarthy's Sustainability FAQ: [stanford.edu]

    -=-=-

    How long will nuclear energy last?

    These facts come from an article by Bernard Cohen.

    Nuclear energy, assuming breeder reactors, will last for several billion years, i.e. as long as the sun is in a state to support life on earth.

    Here are the basic facts.

    1. In 1983, uranium cost $40 per pound. The known uranium reserves at that price would suffice for light water reactors for a few tens of years. Since then more rich uranium deposits have been discovered including a very big one in Canada. At $40 per pound, uranium contributes about 0.2 cents per kwh to the cost of electricity. (Electricity retails between 5 cents and 10 cents per kwh in the U.S.)

    2. Breeder reactors use uranium more than 100 times as efficiently as the current light water reactors. Hence much more expensive uranium can be used. At $1,000 per pound, uranium would contribute only 0.03 cents per kwh, i.e. less than one percent of the cost of electricity. At that price, the fuel cost would correspond to gasoline priced at half a cent per gallon.

    3. How much uranium is available at $1,000 per pound?

      There is plenty in the Conway granites of New England and in shales in Tennessee, but Cohen decided to concentrate on uranium extracted from seawater - presumably in order to keep the calculations simple and certain. Cohen (see the references in his article) considers it certain that uranium can be extracted from seawater at less than $1000 per pound and considers $200-400 per pound the best estimate.

      In terms of fuel cost per million BTU, he gives (uranium at $400 per pound 1.1 cents , coal $1.25, OPEC oil $5.70, natural gas $3-4.)

    4. How much uranium is there in seawater?

      Seawater contains 3.3x10^(-9) (3.3 parts per billion) of uranium, so the 1.4x10^18 tonne of seawater contains 4.6x10^9 tonne of uranium. All the world's electricity usage, 650GWe could therefore be supplied by the uranium in seawater for 7 million years.

    5. However, rivers bring more uranium into the sea all the time, in fact 3.2x10^4 tonne per year.

    6. Cohen calculates that we could take 16,000 tonne per year of uranium from seawater, which would supply 25 times the world's present electricity usage and twice the world's present total energy consumption. He argues that given the geological cycles of erosion, subduction and uplift, the supply would last for 5 billion years with a withdrawal rate of 6,500 tonne per year. The crust contains 6.5x10^13 tonne of uranium.
    7. He comments that lasting 5 billion years, i.e. longer than the sun will support life on earth, should cause uranium to be considered a renewable resource.

    Comments:

    • Cohen neglects decay of the uranium. Since uranium has a half-life of 4.46 billion years, about half will have decayed by his postulated 5 billion years.
    • He didn't mention thorium, also usable in breeders. There is 4 times as much in the earth's crust as there is uranium.
    • He did mention fusion, but remarks that it hasn't been developed yet. He has certainly provided us plenty of time to develop it.
    The main point to be derived from Cohen's article is that energy is not a problem even in the very long run. In particular, energy intensive solutions to other human problems are entirely acceptable.

  • > This is what happens when you can't use nuclear fission to produce most of your power, thanks to the pseudo-environmentalists and > NIMBYists and their shortsighted anti-everything stance. Wrong. Thanks for playing, though. You can't use nuclear fission because no one has figured out what to do with the spent radioactive waste. Nevada doesn't want it. Neither does South Carolina. Nor does Washington. Seems that although lots of states would like to have nuclear scientists within their borders so they can tax them & claim how advanced their state is, they don't want to deal with a problem that isn't about to go away for at least 100,000 years. Think about it, techno-boy. One hundred thousand years. More than twenty times the length of recorded history. That's the stumbling block -- not some alleged nancy-boy, pinkish inability to do the right thing for the greater common good. And we haven't even touched on whether nuclear fission can be safely used to generate power. (Hints: Three Mile Island. Chernobel. How well we have dealt with less toxic materials & avoided environmental damage.) Bottom line: you don't know what you're talking about. When you have figured out the answers to these questions, & how they can be implemented in a cost-efficient manner, you can come back & play with the grown ups. But until then, stay in lurk mode. Geoff
  • >> You can't use nuclear fission because no one has figured out what to do with the spent radioactive waste.
    >
    > You could just bury it. The proposal to store waste in Nevada was killed for political reasons, not scientific ones.

    Yep. That's what I would assume one could do with it. Or rocket it into the sun. The PTB said it would be safe down there. However, not all of the experts agreed. They said there was some chance that the geological formations would move & compromise the seal on the deposits.

    >> And we haven't even touched on whether nuclear fission can be safely used to generate power. (Hints: Three Mile Island. Chernobel.
    >> How well we have dealt with less toxic materials & avoided environmental damage.)

    > [Blatant Plug for Canada]The Candu reactor design is pretty damn safe. If the core overheats, your moderator (heavy water) boils
    > off, and the reaction stops.[/Blatant Plug]

    Hey, I got an idea: let's buy a bunch of those kind of reactors from our neighbors from up north. And when the US has created a bunch of radioactive waste, our neighbors to the north can take it off our hands & store it somewhere in the Canadian Shield. After all, we're talking about geological formations that have not changed significantly in a couple BILLION years. They ought to be happy over the prospect of trading a lot of waste land for millenia of millenia of maintenance payments. Which ought to cover much of their national debt for generations -- & then some.

    > Ad hominem attacks are often the last resort of those without a good argument. Try to be more civil, please.

    You mean like your colleague a few posts below?

    Would it be an ad hominem attack to suggest you couldn't convince the nation of Canada that accepting the nuclear wastes of the US? (And for the sake of our discussion, I'm happy to admit you up there have the ability.)

    If I were a citizen of Canada, I would shed no tears to tell us to clean up our own mess. But then, maybe you see a way to make money from our own foolishness. If so, please fix it.

    Geoff
  • > Nuclear waste lasts 100,000 years, but toxic
    > waste from coal-burning lasts forever.
    > It doesn't decay, ever.

    Call for citations. Medieval Britain burned a lot of coal & I haven't seen any evidence that it damaged the ecology of the islands there.

    [snip]

    > So which would you rather have:
    >
    > 1) an enviromental disaster of a coal plant,
    > which causes 1.4M tons worth of mining
    > (often strip mining) and produces hundreds of
    > thousands of tons of toxic waste, much of
    > which is toxic forever and not for 100k years
    > only

    Ever hear of hard rock mining? (Hint: that's what the adults were doing in the movie ``October Sky".)

    > OR
    > 2) A nuclear power plant, which doesn't require
    > the mining of 1.4M tons of raw materials,
    > and doesn't produce 200k tons of toxic waste,
    > but rather *15* tons of high level waste,
    > *35* tons of mid-level waste, and *100* tons
    > of low-level waste.

    How many people die in mining that? Oh, & be sure to ask around the Navaho & Hopi reservations -- I hear a lot of folks living there died due to years of mining uranium.

    > WORRYING ABOUT NUCLEAR WASTE WHILE CONTINUING
    > TO BURN COAL FOR POWER IS UTTERLY MORONIC.
    >
    Elaborate. Or would *you* be accusing me of an ad hominem attack? Sorry, but I get these responses confused. I've been having a lot of senior moments lately, even though I'm far from 50.

    > You also bring up Three Mile Island and Chernobyl.
    > Did anyone even *die* in TMI? No. How many
    > people die every year from breathing in all
    > the toxic waste from burning fossil fuels?
    >
    How many people could have died? Would you like to live next to a nuclear power plant?

    I didn't bring the topic up for two reasons:

    first is that I doubt most people on /. were alive when the topic of nuclear power was first debated -- & I would have to spend days to research enough to educate them about the issues (well, we could think about the fact Homer Simpson works at a nuclear power plant, & wonder just how many workers are different from that example; I think people would be amazed);

    second is that the ability to recreate safe nuclear reactors is now a lost art (e.g. I have been told that the division of Westinghouse that builds the boilers for nuclear power plants has been closed & the expertise scattered decades ago)

    > And as for Chernobyl, we're not stupid enough
    > in this country to use flammable graphite to
    > moderate the reactor core. *our* worst
    > nuclear accident killed no one and didn't even
    > *injure* anyone.

    So we've been told. And the US government spent millions of dollars & untold manpower to keep _The_Progressive_ magazine from reporting negative details about nuclear power. Do you think that we've heard about all of the near misses, or can trust that the PTB learned from these mistakes?

    > How many COAL MINERS die *every* year?
    >
    > WORRYING ABOUT THE SAFETY OF NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS
    > IS MORONIC WHILE WE'RE STILL MINING AND
    > BURNING COAL.

    A lot less than die as police officers.

    How many people would die from mining uranium, if we used it as amply as coal?

    > MORONIC.

    Excuse me. Are you talking to me? Or to people who share in your delusion?

    Geoff
  • > There was a system in place to recycle the fuel after it was used, but President Carter freaked out and killed it... it's called
    > reprocessing.

    And how is this different from fussion technology?

    No, this is not a sarcastic comeback or an ad hominem attack. Educate me -- & everyone else reading this topic.

    (For those unfamiliar with my language, fussion was this promised goal where -- in a nutshell -- running a nuclear plant in a certain way would result with more fuel coming out than went in.)

    Last I heard about fussion technology was that it just didn't work. Heinlein's observation that ``there is no such thing as a free lunch" held up for even nuclear physics. I can believe that politics might kill the best solution to a problem. But I can also believe that reality would do the same thing -- only more efficiently.

    Geoff
  • There has been talk of "urban heat islands" before, about how temperatures at many monitoring stations are significantly higher now than in the past due to urban expansion, but you seldom see any consideration of this except to sweep it under the rug. Of course, "the sky is falling" gets more grant funding.
  • A significant problem with sulfur dioxide emissions is the respiratory effect on people, especially children with asthma.
  • I guess exaggerating about it being worse is probably a good thing, means that governments will be under pressure to do something. The bigger issue should be scrapping the carbon credits crap. Currently a loophole exists that means that a company can do nothing about stopping emmissions, if it grows some trees. The real problem with this is that they can cut down trees and plant new ones to comply.

    I don't know how good exaggeration is -- especially with the plans of some like Ocean Fisheries that wants to "seed" the oceans with iron oxide to increase algae, reduce CO2 in the atmosphere, and increase fish stocks -- such a plan is said to be capable of lowering global temperatures up to 4 degress C. If such a plan is approved on exaggerated global warming claims, I'm moving out of Canada fast (51 degrees N is where I am) because in 50 years there will be nothing but glaciers here.
  • I live in Canada, at least until recently one of the biggest exporters on nuclear reactors, and modern, safe reactors at that. I think in most other places (except France) research has stagnated, and focused on light water reactors, whereas here we have heavy water moderator reactors where the reaction is much easier to stop than the light water counterparts.
  • Many people don't realize this, but "ozone" depletion is what is normally considered at fault for increased UV. CO2 is normally considered at fault for increased temperature. This article is about warming, not UV.

  • Here's my global warming survival strategy [supertramp.com].
  • First off, there is nothing wrong with electric cars. They are no more inefficient than gas or diesel when fossil fuels are used to create the energy.
    Indeed, you get lower emissions and cleaner air because you can install better filters, scrubbers and cleaner generation facilities at the point of burn. Not to mention that you get a superior tourque curve from an electric motor.

    The problem with electric cars is that you have to haul the extra deadweight that the battery, generator and traction motors are.

    So, to do the SAME job, you have to burn more fossil fuel. And that, no matter how little emissions the engine gives out, that's still MORE carbon dioxyde spewed up in the atmosphere.

    Face it, TRANSIT is the ONLY solution. The vast majority of trips always are the same, day in, day out, so there is no reason that people can't use transit at least on the more used portion of their trips.

    What? No transit? That's no excuse. Demand transit and there it should be.

    --

  • > and the US starts to really work on reducing emissions.

    But they are. School kids in New York, Chicago and Philadelphia have been painting green trees on inner-city houses for months now, and they will keep doing it until all the CO2 emissions have been neutralized.
  • There's this guy who's name I can't recall who's discovered that dumping iron into iron poor regions of the ocean causes massive plankton blooms. Most of these plankton die and sink to the bottom taking their carbon with them to turn into calcium carbonate rock.

    The main problem I see with this is possible ramifications of messing with the ocean ecosystem. Since the iron poor regions tend not to support much of an ecosystem in the first place (no plankton, which is the bottom of the ocean food chain) I'm not sure this'll be a big problem. The other problem is that iron is not a renewable resource, and not very recoverable once it's sunk to the bottom of the ocean. It doesn't take enormous amounts of iron though, just a few tons for a fair sized bloom.

  • that this supposedly accurate prediction was just drastically corrected. If it can change from 3.x to 5.8 degrees, then clearly these "brilliant" scientists' science is not that exact of a science. It seriously suggests that they could also be estimating too high, especially when taken in context of previously inflated and failed predictions.

    I'm not saying there is _no_ danger, but for anyone to say they _know_ with absolute certainty is ridiculous. What's more, given the political, economic, and social implications of what the proponents of global warming advocate, I think we SHOULD scrutinize their predictions. Perhaps we DO need to take corrective action, but perhaps we DON'T. This matter needs further study.
  • What are you quoting from? I'm not sure I understand the koan as a "folk story", as that implies to me that it's not something real or practicable. But perhaps the quote means it's like an oral transmission, used to carry knowledge?

    The koan is within ourselves, and what the Zen master does is no more than point it out for us so that we can see it more plainly than before. When the koan is brought out of the unconscious into the field of consciousness, it is said to be understood by us. -- D.T. Suzuki,
    Zen Buddhism and Psychoanalysis

    Which is how I'd sorta understood it -- something to do, an exercise.

    Perhaps you can reconcile Enlightenment and Understanding based on personal realization.

    Not been there. Not done that. No T-shirt. But say, boing boing, hows your interest in Zen and Buddhas formed?

  • > Have a look at JunkScience.com for more on this.
    ...
    > Perhaps some skepticism is in order.

    Skepticism is always in order when something appears in JunkScience.com. JunkScience.com is a PR mouthpiece for anti-environmential propaganda by the biochemical, pesticide, fossil fuel, and nuclear power industries.

    Have a look at this <a href="http://www.prwatch.org/prw_issues/1999-Q4/av ery.html#milloy">PR Watch article</a> for more about lobbyist Steve Milloy's news articles and his web sites JunkScience.com and Consumer Distorts.
  • Nuclear plants absolutely make more energy
    than they take to make! No utility would
    ever CONSTRUCT one which didn't. I
    mean, think about it: 30 years of continuous
    1GW operation. Let's say $.02 per KW-hour.
    (We pay $.11/KW-hour now retail).

    That's $5G just to build a plant, on *top*
    of all the other capital investment.

    Now, with the burden of changing government
    regulations on operating nuclear plants and
    mid-construction design changes, it might well
    *cost* more to build a nuclear plant then
    you get out of it.
  • Nuclear waste lasts 100,000 years, but toxic
    waste from coal-burning lasts forever.
    It doesn't decay, ever.

    A 500MW coal plant consumes
    1.4 million tons of coal. When you burn
    this coal, you get:

    10K tons of sulfur dioxide. (acid rain)
    10k tons of nitrogen dioxide. (smog, acid rain)
    3.7 million tons of carbon dioxide (warming)
    (note: the O2 in C02 comes from the air)
    .125M tons of ash
    .193M tons of sludge
    (the ash and sludge contain mercury and other
    heavy metals which are toxic, including
    more radioactivity released into the
    environment than a nuclear plant.)

    So which would you rather have:

    1) an enviromental disaster of a coal plant,
    which causes 1.4M tons worth of mining
    (often strip mining) and produces hundreds of
    thousands of tons of toxic waste, much of
    which is toxic forever and not for 100k years
    only

    OR
    2) A nuclear power plant, which doesn't require
    the mining of 1.4M tons of raw materials,
    and doesn't produce 200k tons of toxic waste,
    but rather *15* tons of high level waste,
    *35* tons of mid-level waste, and *100* tons
    of low-level waste.

    WORRYING ABOUT NUCLEAR WASTE WHILE CONTINUING
    TO BURN COAL FOR POWER IS UTTERLY MORONIC.

    You also bring up Three Mile Island and Chernobyl.
    Did anyone even *die* in TMI? No. How many
    people die every year from breathing in all
    the toxic waste from burning fossil fuels?

    And as for Chernobyl, we're not stupid enough
    in this country to use flammable graphite to
    moderate the reactor core. *our* worst
    nuclear accident killed no one and didn't even
    *injure* anyone.

    How many COAL MINERS die *every* year?

    WORRYING ABOUT THE SAFETY OF NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS
    IS MORONIC WHILE WE'RE STILL MINING AND
    BURNING COAL.

    MORONIC.
  • >Call for citations. Medieval Britain burned a lot of coal & I haven't seen any evidence that it damaged the ecology of the islands there.

    http://www.ucsusa.org/energy/brief.coal.html

    That is where I got the tonnage data.

    And Medieval Britain did NOT burn "a lot" of coal by today's standards. I mean, do you REALLY think that they burned megatons of coal per year? REALLY?

    Are you really ignorant of smog and acid rain and poor air quality today?

    >> (often strip mining) and produces hundreds of
    >> thousands of tons of toxic waste, much of
    >> which is toxic forever and not for 100k years
    > only

    > Ever hear of hard rock mining? (Hint: that's what the adults were doing in the movie ``October Sky".)

    I'm perfectly aware that not all coal is strip mined. That is why I said "often strip-mined."

    Hard-rock mining has its environmental impact as well: I admit it's not as self-evidently bad as strip-mining.

    >How many people die in mining that? Oh, & be sure >to ask around the Navaho & Hopi reservations -- I >hear a lot of folks living there died due to >years of mining uranium.

    I don't know. Why don't you tell me?

    263 people died mining coal from 1992 to 1997
    according to

    http://www.dol.gov/dol/opa/public/media/press/ms ha /msh97470.htm

    >> WORRYING ABOUT NUCLEAR WASTE WHILE CONTINUING
    >> TO BURN COAL FOR POWER IS UTTERLY MORONIC.

    > Elaborate. Or would *you* be accusing me of an ad hominem attack? Sorry, but I get these responses confused.

    That was not personally directed at you, but at our society, which has a very irrational way of balancing risks.

    It is STUPID to worry so neurotically about a possible nuclear accident when we're creating a worse in negative environmental impact to a nuclear accident by burning coal for power.

    Looking at the record of the two industries, it is coal burning which should be banned and nuclear power which should be promoted. Nuclear power has the *risk* of a terrible accident: coal mining and burning has a 100% probability of having a huge negative environmental impact.

    Even Chernobyl is nothing compared to the damage the USSR's dirty industrial complex has created in that country.

    The fearful attitude of the American public toward nuclear power is like a smoker fearing brain cancer from his cell phone. He won't quit smoking but refuses to use his cell phone! Even though he's 10000 times more likely to suffer an adverse effect from his smoking!

    >So we've been told. And the US government spent >millions of dollars & untold manpower to keep >_The_Progressive_ magazine from reporting >negative
    > details about nuclear power. Do you >think that we've heard about all of the near >misses, or can trust that the PTB learned from >these mistakes?

    Do you think you've heard about all the "near misses" with chemical plants? Massive chemical spills? Bhopal, India? Gasoline spills? You live with many much larger risks every day without giving it a second thought.

    If I had to choose between living next to a chemical plant, a coal plant, and a nuclear plant, I'd pick the nuclear plant every time--unless
    it had a graphite core! Naturally I'd like all of these things far from me, but of those three, which would YOU choose?

    >> MORONIC.

    > Excuse me. Are you talking to me? Or to people who share in your delusion?

    I'm accusing a society that is so utterly stupid about calculating risks. That kind of thinking is moronic. It is imposing high costs to ameloriate microscopic risks while ignoring daily practices which cause huge amounts of real damage every day.

    PeterM
  • I live in northern germany and it has been 3-5C every day -with some exceptions. Also it was like 10C until almost xmas or so. Definitely strange weather. Is it global warming at work? Could be a fluke. But it makes you think.
  • Time to start work on off-Earth power sources - a good first step is lunar-based solar... see Criswell's [space.com] plans for example. A cure for global warming, power plant pollution, and more. And no need for nuke's.
  • You're not generating any CO2, so there's no extra heat-trapping caused by fossil-fuel burning. The amount of power we're talking about to power the electrical needs of the planet (5-10 TW) is pretty small compared to the actual incoming solar energy (100,000 TW or so).
  • Whether that's actually true or not for Earth-based solar power, it's unlikely to be true for Criswell's lunar power scheme. Read the links. In space the sun is there all the time. Plus most solar cell arrangements don't use concentration, but solar cells are capable of handling 10x or 100x concentration of sunlight, sometimes at even higher efficiency than under ambient lighting. Believe me, serious people have looked at this, and it does work.
  • by apsmith (17989) on Monday January 22, 2001 @06:40PM (#489152) Homepage
    Oh yeah, that's an unbiased look at the science alright. 10 sentences on the "science", and pages and pages on the economic disaster the Kyoto treaty is foisting upon us! 68 cents/gallon higher gas taxes! 2.4 million American jobs lost! And a little "instant expert" page that tells you among other things, "the best strategy to pursue is one of 'no regrets.'" - doesn't that tell you something?

    Have you tried reading the REAL sites on global warming, like
    the EPA's site [epa.gov]? They don't just TELL you everythings terrible (or OK, like the globalwarming site) - they show you in pages after page of graphs, numbers, and statistics. Read through that stuff, and then go back to the globalwarming.org site and decide which one looks more believable to you.
  • by apsmith (17989) on Monday January 22, 2001 @06:56PM (#489153) Homepage
    We have from this website:

    Dec 2000 [junkscience.com] - a scientist claims that, while climate change is serious, more research is needed...

    Nov 2000 [junkscience.com] - well it was too slow to load, so all I have are the search quotes, referring to the "stalled climate treaty", the Hague conference, etc. Doesn't look like much one way or the other there.

    May 1999 [junkscience.com] Bush warms to global warming! - Even George Bush is quoted as saying: "I've had some briefings recently and I'm becoming more convinced that the science proves there's global warming."

    All the remaining references I could find there date back 2 years or more - have they been having trouble recently finding any real scientists who agree with their position?
  • by apsmith (17989) on Monday January 22, 2001 @06:10PM (#489154) Homepage
    Nope, Celsius is perfectly linear - it's just Kelvins plus 273 degrees - of course since Kelvin's are absolute then for any absolute comparison (eg. today is 1% hotter than yesterday) you want Kelvin, but Celsius is fine for addition/subtraction purposes.
  • by apsmith (17989) on Monday January 22, 2001 @06:19PM (#489155) Homepage
    Nope - since when did Volcanos manufacture complex chloro-fluorocarbons? Pinatubo spewed lots of chlorine (and some fluorine) into the air, but it all got rained out within a year or two - quite different from the effects of man-made ozone-destroying chemicals. Of course this article was about CO2, not CFC's, so what's the story there? Pinatubo also didn't send up much CO2, but it did produce a lot of sulfur dioxide, resulting in airborne sulfuric acid droplets that likely cooled global temperatures by 1 degree for a year or so. But they got rained out too. The problem with CO2 (and CFC's) unlike what comes out of volcanos - they don't drop out of the air in rain, they just accumulate. Like a lot of other man-made pollutants.
  • > Will this end soon? Not likely. The reason for the rising temperatures is that many current technologies are not environmentally sound.

    People might want to do a Web search on The Tragedy of the Commons. It's no new thing for short term economic interests to wreak havoc over the long term.

    Of course, it's easy to say "Fuck 'em, I'll be dead and gone before it matters." At that point it becomes a moral issue rather than merely an issue of common sense.

    --
  • > But the global warming has seem to become the favored theory of environmentalists, regardless of evidence.

    As indicated by the "environmentalist" bashing your reply, GW-denial is a political movement.

    Yes, GW is a hypothesis. But yes, we have evidence that we're changing the atmosphere, and we have science that tells what various mixtures of gases do to incoming and outgoing radiation. A hypothesis, but the best one you can build on theory+evidence right now.

    Denying GW might be good for your stock portfolio, but it probably isn't good for your planet.

    In a newsgroup full of Libertarians, it's no surprise to see a lot of GW-denial. (See, I can put a political spin on it too!)

    --
  • > I totally agree with you that nuclear is the way to go.

    I could go the nuke route, but I'd like to see a requirement that power plants make prior arrangements for their waste disposal and plant decomissioning before a license is granted, and pre-pay for them before construction starts.

    The main failure of nuclear power in the USA isn't Three Mile Island, but rather the "what do we do with the mess" situation that it has left us.

    --
  • > Ummm... that's what the US Nuclear Waste Policy Act was for. By law, electric utilities do not "own" the uranium they use in power plants, it is only leased from the Department of Energy. So in this circumstance, and again by law, final disposition of spent fuel must be performed by the federal government.

    Thanks for the info.

    --
  • the latest cars that use electricity are hybrids: they use a gas and electric motor. The batteries are charged not only when the gas motor runs but also when you break. I don't think anyone is pushing electric-only anymore. Rather, I think people have realized that hybrids are the future.
  • Dude, take a class in chemistry, please. Biological chemistry, or something that explains the chemistry of fire, please.
  • No I was just saying that more than just CO2 gets burned released while burning trees
  • Steve Milloy is an idiot:
    http://skepdic.com/refuge/junkscience.html

    has the specifics. He has a mind that automatically rejects any scientific study, real or false, which seems to threaten conservative, corporate interests as false by definition.

    He rejects ALL studies against DDT while enthusiastically embracing pro-DDT stories. He rejects ALL studies supporting global warming, wrong or right, while accepting studies that are ambiguous or disagree with the Global Warming Theory. Why does he do this? Because he isn't interested in what's real and what isn't, he's just a conservative Rush Limbaugh type zealot who only sees what he wants to see.

    I used to read his site, and for a while shared his simple-minded, market-oriented view of the world. But what we do affects others, whether it be second-hand smoking or supporting polluting companies. And regardless of his head-in-the-sand beliefs, we must be responsible to ourselves and our planet.

    -Ben
  • by ZaMoose (24734) on Monday January 22, 2001 @06:08PM (#489179)
    When Mt. Pinitubo erupted, it spewed forth more CFC's and air contaminates than the entire human race has been able to produce in its entire history. I'm not advocating rampant excesses and environmental irresposibility, I'm just saying that I think global warming is a farce and a lousy reason to base any amount of conservationism on. Base it on preventing the extinction of rare species or even preserving natural beauty, just don't base your beliefs on highly suspect bogus science.

    -------------
  • The story is by an organization created to promote "Global Warming". Of course those in favor of the idea that humans affect the climate are attracted to the organization. There's also this BBC story "Global warming 'not clear cut'" [bbc.co.uk].

    And why do you want to scrap carbon credits? If vegetation removes carbon, why ignore that? Remember that the Central Prairies had six feet of black dirt under the prairie grass? That's carbon rich soil -- how do you think it got there? Well, we have stopped letting the prairie burn every year and instead have megatons of crops and timber every year...

    Oh, yeah...and why not cut down trees? They're a renewable resource and the new ones grow also. If your issue is favorite old growth, mention it.

  • Mt Pinatubo emitted at least 42 Mt of CO2 [usgs.gov]. The world total is 34,000 Mt [grida.no] (according to the "Explanation" link, the latter includes gases other than CO2). The former is clearly less than the latter, whatever the sources (ie, are natural sources such as tree carbon monoxide included or not?).

    What was significant about the Pinatubo eruption was the 17 Megatons of sulphur dioxide (which measurably increased ozone damage for at least two years), and the sulfates in the cloud of debris (5 cubic kilometers of stuff [usgs.gov], with much of the heavier stuff landing nearby) in the upper atmosphere which shaded the Earth [doe.gov] and decreased global temperatures [greenpeace.org].

  • by SEWilco (27983)
    Actually, Global Cooling was making headlines in the 1970s, when the 55 MPH energy-saving policy was adopted, so the science is more recent than 1920. Within five years Global Warming was in the headlines. And they've been tinkering with computer models for decades trying to prove the theory.
  • Gee, that's too bad. They're using bad data. Ocean temperatures are higher than air temps [unisci.com]. Thus those studies which use air temperatures over land and ocean temperatures over ocean are using temps which are higher than true air temps.
  • Just an addendum to this:

    First, the radioactivity from coal mines is in the form of radioactive rocks and gasses, radon or radium, or any variation of heavy metals that inhabit the earth. The fact coal plants do release these is rarely known, but worse is the fact that they are completely unregulated!

    With Nuclear, at least the radioactivity levels are monitored at all times by an independent body.

  • Japan had a incident about a year ago...someone mismeasured reactants, and a small explosion and release of material occurred in neighborhood around a processing plant. Hold your nose!!

    It wasn't an issue of mismeasured reactants, it was an issue of blatantly ignoring the procedures for performing a procedure. By doing things in a rushed manner, materials came together in a way that yielded a nasty radiation dose for those doing the work, and not much else. (That'll teach you to follow directions ...) I don't have a link handy, but I think it was in Physics Today.

  • by Claudius (32768) on Tuesday January 23, 2001 @08:37AM (#489205)
    A scientist working for a corporation tends to lie to help the corporation.. Wouldn't a scientist who's funded by an environmental group also tend to lie to help that group?

    Science in the U.S. is generally funded by public money and not by "environmental groups," unless you consider organizations like the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, and NASA as being "environmental groups." The grants are obtained by applying for the money, and there is intense competition for each research dollar. A scientist who habitually lies about his or her results can expect that, eventually, the ruse will be discovered, and the scientist will lose all credibility in the eyes of his or her peers. The scientist will then be unable to secure research grants in the future. Let's "follow the money," as you say, and realize that credible studies are in most scientists' best interests; a scientist's currency is his or her reputation. You will find few who are reckless enough to risk that for a dubious immediate gain.

    Has Paul Erhlik [sic. Ehrlich] a scientist ever admitted his mistaken predictions?

    See a recent biographical article in Scientific American where Dr. Ehrlich indeed admits that many of his doomsday predictions did not come true. How is this relevant again?

    Much of the evidence of global warming is in indicators; people who claim they can measure fractions of a degree in tree rings or atospheric gasses. That's something that makes me reluctant to trust them.

    Please elaborate on the flaws in these lines of research and convince my why they shouldn't be taken any more seriously than, say, economic indicators that point to a recession on the horizon. Just why should I care about the CPI or the trade deficit or the number of new housing starts in a quarter? What relevance could these possibly have?

    Face it. You are yourself biased because you do not wish to lose your beloved SUV or admit that your USA "consume and discard" lifestyle is at all damaging to the environment. You are eager to accuse those who have devoted their careers to answering the difficult questions of climate change of being as biased as you. You choose, instead of elevating yourself to their level by learning of the issues and debating the results of the studies, to dismiss all studies whose outcomes you don't like.

    Rush Limbaugh claimed once on his radio show that global warming wouldn't matter anyway because (to paraphrase) ice melting in a glass of water doesn't change the level of the water.
  • I just got over reading Billions and Billions by Carl Sagan and in it he talks in great depth about global warming. [snip]

    2) If at sea level, wholly intact, the ozone layer is about 3 mm thick or just slightly thicker than one's finger nail.


    Oh, not this again... Global warming and ozone depletion are two separate, largely unrelated problems. I hope it was just you and not Carl Sagan who got confused. Furthermore, the ozone hole has shown signs of closing [flatoday.com].

    1) Even if we stopped production and useage of all greenhouse-effect causing gases, these gases would remain in the upper atmosphere doing harm for a little over a century.

    Let me point out that the only way to completely stop producing greenhouse gases is to kill yourself (remember, you breathe out carbon dioxide and fart methane), and, even then, your rotting carcass would release more greenhouse gases.

    The amount of confusion between global warming and the ozone hole is really disheartening. If nobody even knows what they're talking about, how can we possibly expect to get anywhere?
  • OK, first of all, the ozone hole and global warming are two separate, largely unrelated problems. Was it you or Carl Sagan who confused the two?

    Second, saying "you can't do X. Read book Y for an argument I can't be bothered to summarize" is a lame debating tactic. I'd love to hear your (or Sagan's) explanation of why releasing particulate matter into the atmosphere won't work, so please post with more info if possible.

    The real solution is to get our damn greenhouse emissions in order...

    That would be the ideal solution, but it's just not going to happen. The negative economic impact would be too large, especially for developing countries that can't afford sophisticated pollution-control technologies. We have to look to solutions that can actually be realistically implemented.
  • by tbo (35008) on Monday January 22, 2001 @06:09PM (#489221) Journal
    Before people freak out completely, I'd like to make a few observations:

    First of all, it's worth noting that this is a prediction based on a theory. Scientists are trying to explain why we haven't yet seen as much global warming as the models would suggest, and this is one possible explanation--not absolute fact. Remember, back in the '70s, global cooling was the environmental boogeyman. Second, the IPCC has done some shady things before, such as changing the executive summary of a report after it was peer reviewed (my source for this is a series of letters to the editor published in the Wall Street Journal several years ago). Finally, there is a significant amount of controversy in the scientific community [sepp.org] surrounding global warming.

    The point is, take the IPCC report with a large grain of salt. People on both sides of the issue have their continued grant funding depending on whether they find evidence for or against global warming, so the science has unfortunately become very distorted by politics.

    That said, I'd like to suggest a simple technological solution to the potential global warming problem. Disperse sufficient fine particulate matter into the upper atmosphere to reflect about 1% of the sun's light. Volcanoes do this naturally, and there's plenty of data to show that it can cool the planet. The cost of doing this artificially, while expensive, is likely to be far, far cheaper than meeting the goals set out in the Kyoto Accord. I can't take credit for this idea--I heard it mentioned once somewhere else. Why, with all the concern about global warming, do you hear so little about using technology to directly fix the problem?
  • by tbo (35008) on Monday January 22, 2001 @06:23PM (#489222) Journal
    I totally agree with you that nuclear is the way to go. I know some people will cry about Chernobyl, but that incident really just goes to show you the drawbacks of communism, not nuclear power. An intelligent reactor design (such as Candu) operated by well-trained individuals would never suffer such a catastrophe.

    In the Candu design, if the reactor core starts to overheat, the heavy water moderator boils away, and the reaction stops. Simple physics prevents meltdowns. There are plenty of other good designs that avoid the Chernobyl problem, but people just freak out when they hear nuclear.

    Another thing worth noting is that electric cars are a stupid idea if the electricity is generated by burning fossil fuels. Finally, your average coal plant puts out more radioactivity than your average nuclear plant (due to radioactive isotopes in the coal).
  • by Kohath (38547) on Monday January 22, 2001 @08:13PM (#489237)
    Our friends at JunkScience.com [junkscience.com] have this covered. Here's a quote from the report:
    "In sum, a strategy must recognize what is possible. In climate research and modeling, we should recognize that we are dealing with a coupled non-liner chaotic system, and therefore that the
    prediction of a specific future climate state is not possible."
    -- Final chapter, Draft TAR 2000 (Third Assessment Report), IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change).

    (I added the bold.)

    Have a look at JunkScience.com [junkscience.com] for more on this.

    My take is this:

    We're being asked to believe an assertion by some people. They are trying to prove something that can't be observed, because it hasn't happened yet, can't be reliably seen to be happening, and has been repeatedly exploited, exaggerated, lied about, and then coined into gold by political extremists.

    Perhaps some skepticism is in order.

  • by Convergence (64135) on Monday January 22, 2001 @06:18PM (#489283) Homepage Journal
    www.junkscience.com

    There is a lot of junk science out there in all fields. But the global warming has seem to become the favored theory of environmentalists, regardless of evidence. Check out the website for another perspective. You don't have to agree with it, just read it and reflect.

  • by ka9dgx (72702) on Monday January 22, 2001 @08:01PM (#489300) Homepage Journal
    ... and he was a nuclear engineer. WTF?

    Yes, He's a Nuclear Engineer, but that doesn't make his policy choices wise. He assumed that a once through fuel cycle was an acceptable alternative to recycling. The nuclear industry knew that public acceptance of nuclear power was dependent on a closed cycle, where the fuel is reused, and stays out of the waste stream. That is why nuclear plants have "cooling ponds" designed only as temporary storage for spent fuel, before it was to be taken away for reprocessing.

    Carter figured that it was an unacceptable security risk to have civilian facilities reprocessing plutonium. While some may agree with his conclusion, I believe he was wrong. We've created a royal clusterf*ck by opening a loop that was designed to be closed. This change, which created a new artificial need to dispose of fuel instead of reusing it. Simultaneously the repercussions of this new waste removed any credible process for disposing of this otherwise reusable fuel.

    We need to get our sh*t together, come up with a sane way to get value out of the fuel we have piling up, instead of treating it as waste, and get safety back into our overregulated into complacency nuclear power industry.

    --Mike--

  • by Tau Zero (75868) on Tuesday January 23, 2001 @02:17PM (#489308) Journal
    I just can't resist...

    I thought that I would never see
    A nuke defender from Ber-kley
    But if PC-ness does not fall
    We will have no nukes at all.

    One nit: Graphite moderation is only a problem if it can come into contact with air. There are a number of designs for HTGRs (High Temperature Gas-cooled Reactors) which use graphite as the moderator. They avoid problems by using CO2 (Britain) or helium (just about everyone else) as the coolant. HTGR designs have some advantages over PWRs, including:

    1. Higher thermal efficiencies due to higher operating temperatures.
    2. Reduced radioisotope leakage due to the coolant being in the gas phase.
    3. Easier to use continuous refuelling by the method of "pebble bed" reactor cores, with graphite-coated ceramic "pebbles" as fuel elements.
    4. Easy to make inherently safe by using Doppler broadening to shut off the reaction if coolant flow is lost.
    5. Inherent resistance to thermal damage due to large thermal mass and guaranteed over-temp shutdown even without use of control rods.
    I agree with most of your points, I just wanted to point out that you are probably tarring graphite moderators with the brush of the Soviet RMBK and that the whole bunch don't really deserve it.
    --
    Knowledge is power
    Power corrupts
    Study hard
  • by ChannelX (89676) on Monday January 22, 2001 @05:53PM (#489328) Homepage
    and the US starts to really work on reducing emissions. We need to really work on fuel efficiency and more importantly we need to start research again on nuclear power. The current attitude towards nuclear power is ridiculous. It is the only currently viable high-energy source we have that doesn't pollute as badly as alternatives like coal. We also need to start working on retrofitting all coal-fired power plants in order to reduce emissions there. These things are common sense. Lets hope the new US leadership understands.
  • by Jonathunder (105885) on Monday January 22, 2001 @05:58PM (#489369) Homepage
    As a Minnesotan, I'm trying to figure the downside to global warming. Winters will continue to be a little warmer: yeah! Summers warmer: spend more time at the lake, or reading slashdot at my air-conditioned workplace. Icecap melts; oceans rise; Wash. D.C., New York and other coastal cities, as well as all of Florida is flooded: less gov't, faster election results, and NYC is like Venice. Cool!
  • by hexx (108181) on Monday January 22, 2001 @06:47PM (#489377)
    ...that we (citizens of the US) produce 25% of the world's climate affecting pollution!

    I mean we DO produce 10-25% of the world's food... [usda.gov].

    :)
  • by systemapex (118750) on Monday January 22, 2001 @06:09PM (#489396)
    I just got over reading Billions and Billions by Carl Sagan and in it he talks in great depth about global warming. The scary facts of the matter are that:

    1) Even if we stopped production and useage of all greenhouse-effect causing gases, these gases would remain in the upper atmosphere doing harm for a little over a century.

    2) If at sea level, wholly intact, the ozone layer is about 3 mm thick or just slightly thicker than one's finger nail. That puts things into perspective - there isn't much there to begin with and we're totally fscking with what's there!

    3) There was a key "Conservative" in the U.S. (I'm assuming Republican...I'm not American) during some environmental negotiation who was of the opinion that we should all just wear hats to cover us from the extra U.V. rays. - that was his stated recommendation on the issue. Unfortunately, it was beyond their capability of comprehension that the phytoplankton at the very bottom of our fragile food chain cannot wear "hats". But regardless of party-lines, no politician wants to do anything about the issue because it takes much longer than a political term for the rewards of any proactive efforts to be reaped.

    We can only point fingers at someone else for so long. It's time for us individuals to take small but significant steps to better our environment. I mean, do you really need a Ford Navigator to drive to and from work through bumper-to-bumper freeway traffic? Is it too much to buy things in bulk where practical (which would save packaging material and the energy wasted on recycling/throwing-out the packaging material)? Is it too much to get off our lazy a$$es and walk to the local mall or store when we're only going to shop for a few things?

    We've really got to start accepting responsibility for our actions because everyone knows the politicians aren't going to do a damn thing until its way too late...and trust me, we're almost there!

  • by systemapex (118750) on Monday January 22, 2001 @06:14PM (#489397)
    Do yourself a favour and read Billions and Billions by Carl Sagan. In there, he talks about global warming in great depth and you'll understand then, why you cannot just disperse fine particulate matter (or even ozone) into the upper atmosphere to fix the problem. The real solution is to get our damn greenhouse emissions in order...then let the earth heal itself. But seriously, read this book...
  • by SuperJ (125753) on Monday January 22, 2001 @06:10PM (#489411) Homepage
    First of all, reducing C02 doesn't really lower greenhouse gases. The biggest greenhouse gas is water vapor, making up 98% of all greenhouse gases. We can't control water vapor. Also, the sunatmosphereearth system is a very tricky system. No scientist can claim to understand it completely. Greenhouse gases reflect sunlight away from the Earth as well as holding it in.

    Secondly, during the 60s, people worried about a global cooldown. It was similar to the worry about global warming now, only the reverse. As we know now, this didn't happen.

    Third, global temperature depends on where you measure temperature. If I measure temperature in the middle of the city, it will go way up as the city increases in size and population. If I measure it in the country, it's not going to increase. Statistics lie, that's what they're good for.

    Lastly, scientists don't agree on global warming. There was a similar conference earlier this year where scientists decided that they couldn't come up with a solid decision on global warming.

    Don't let allow bad science to impede your rights!

  • by legLess (127550) on Monday January 22, 2001 @06:42PM (#489415) Journal
    What you need most is a sense of scale.

    First, asking climate studies to be accurate on a scale of 3-4 years is stupid - pure chaos theory: noise. They're not talking about predicting whether a thunderstorm's going to hit your house today, but the average temperature of the globe. Ask someone to predict the position and velocity of a baseball and they'll do pretty well, because it's huge. An electron - no dice; too damn small (see, there was this guy called Heisenburg [hmc.edu] ...).

    Second, re: above, 5.8 degrees is a fucking huge difference. Again, not to you sitting in the heating/air-conditioning, and not on a yearly/seasonal scale. Averaged over the course of decades, though, such changes can wreak serious havok: melting ice caps, rising oceans.

    Thirdly, you should really do some research on climate simulation. Here's a handy Google link [google.com] to start you off If you really think climate simulation is bullshit, you're pitting yourself against some of the most hardcore and brilliant mathematical analysis ever done - WTF are your credentials?

    Finally, let's be clear about what really matters here: Mother Earth is in absolutely no danger from us humans. Nothing we could do short of saturation-bombing the entire planet with nukes is going to "destroy the earth." She's been around 4 billion years and, on that scale, we're barely hiccups. The real danger is that we make our environment so toxic that we ourselves can't survive it. That's well within our power, even on such a short scale as 100 years.

    question: is control controlled by its need to control?
    answer: yes
  • by cyber-vandal (148830) on Monday January 22, 2001 @10:06PM (#489450) Homepage
    A train may produce 10 or 20 times more waste than a car (I don't know the exact figures), but it can carry 50 times as many people, so it's more efficient that way. I'd much rather use public transport than drive, but I'm not given the chance due to the UK's incredibly short-sighted transport policy.
  • by rich22 (156003) on Monday January 22, 2001 @05:55PM (#489465) Journal
    I live in Florida. Its been below 32 for almost everynight this month. Ridiculous. I say the Ice Age is coming. Which is good for us overclockers.
  • by Ace905 (163071) on Tuesday January 23, 2001 @06:14AM (#489474) Homepage
    "According to whom? Different people have different ideas of what is and is not dangerous. "Danger" is a subjective term, and too often used as a defense for NIMBY and NIMBY's big brother, BANANA (Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything)."

    Who are you, Rush Limbaugh? Radioactive material is dangerous, hands down, no matter what. Contained Nuclear Explosions fall in to the 'potentially dangerous' category. Take in to account that this technology is hard, and very expensive to fix when problems are found, and you have many potential disasters worldwide.

    "If the design is that badly flawed, they won't be able to run the plant. That's one of the nice fringe benefits of living in a capitalist society; people get to choose who they work for."

    And who they live beside, and what water they drink, Hey, if all your waters polluted, you just work a little harder and buy bottled water from farther north. WhoU! capitalism! Hey, if you think you might be absorbing radiation leaked from hundreds of miles away, just move somewhere where nobody effects the planet. simple!

    "this same news media is so incompetent they can't cover major nuclear disasters?"

    Correct! Welcome to the world of 24 hour OJ Estate coverage not being informative, major Gulf War cover-ups, and bad 80's nintendo looking graphics selling the entire country a billion dollar space-war program.

    "Let me get this straight. If they were designing and building the controlling circuitry at the office, that'd be fine, no matter how lousy the design was."

    Umm no, that's not the point at all. The point is that if you want to design circuitry to run a nuclear reactor, you don't; you get someone who knows what they're doing to do it. Circuitry gets detailed fast. Here's a small list of things you would easily overlook in that situation.

    1) Failsafe Details, do circuits open or close on failure
    2) Noise failsafes, what amount of noise will cause dangerous operation of the circuit
    3) Home soldering & Home PCB fabrication are not trustworthy
    4) Chips used are probably not military grade, as the average electronics hobbyist uses the $10.00 cheaper brand which does the same thing.
    5) You can not accurately test the design at home against problems.
    6) will the circuit ever be exposed to radiation, how much? What occurs in that event.
    7) Soldering by hand will easily cause problems with 'wicking' and cold-solders which will break once the circuit is in place.

    Please don't reply, summoning the strength to impart these small bits of common sense was enough work for 1 year.

  • First it was 3.5, now it's 5.8. That's a difference of 2.3 degrees! So what happened with the original computer model? Are now to believe that "Oh, that original one was flawed, but this one is the real deal! AND GOOD GOD IT'S WORSE THAN EVER BEFORE!!"

    The fact is, climate simulations are not even close to being able to predict patterns 1 year in the future, much less 100 bloody years. Not only is our understanding of climates at the stone knives and bearskin level (to quote Star Trek), but our computers are multiple orders of magnitude away from being able to do anything accurate. Proof? Give me a link to a study that was done, say, 3-4 years ago that correctly predicted the climate for this year. You can't, because it's all garbage.

    This is not science, this is 1) pure politics, and 2) pure money raising. It's well known that the more dire the prediction, the more money you can ask for grants.

    Global warming may or may not be happening, but climate simulations tell us absolutely nothing. In fact, it's worse than nothing because it is intentionally misleading.


    --

  • by metis (181789) on Monday January 22, 2001 @09:03PM (#489499) Homepage

    Someone has already point out that you are wrong. I do not have a mastery of the evidence to prove you wrong. But while you may be right you are certainly irrational.

    There is a clear consensus among scientists ( excluding a few coropate sponsored disinformation) that global warming is real and can have extremely disastrous consequences. Scientists can be wrong. But it is irrational to believe they are unless you are a climatologist with solid credentials. Would you dismiss with the same attitude a doctor who told you you must remove a tumor to survive? Even if you thought he was wrong you would ( assuming you are rational) at most seek a second opinion. And if most doctors told you you have cancer would you dare ignore their advice?

    Well, most climatologists have concluded global warming is real. Rationality requires that we act as if it is true even if they can be wrong: first, because we have no alterntative to science, and second, because if we fail to act and they are right, it may well be our last mistake.

  • by cculianu (183926) on Monday January 22, 2001 @08:16PM (#489504) Homepage
    The fact of the matter is that you have some scientists saying that the Earth is warming. Their evidence for this is based upon basically two things: some local statistical anomalies, as well as some atmospheric and geological simulations.

    Both these sources of 'evidence' are flawed.

    First, we shall look at why statistics is flawed: Over the past 100,000 years, during any 200-year period, the Earth's average annual temperature has varied within a 10 degree Farenheit range. This means that the Earth's climate varies greatly even during relatively local time periods. Thus, any statistical obvervations of the past 40 years (which is as far back as most scientists go when they issue their 'doomsday decrees') are statistically insignificant observations.

    Certain simulations used to model the atmosphere given X ppm CO2 and Z ppm CO, etc, etc are the second source of evidence doom-sayers use to prove a global warming trend. Most of these simulations are oversimplified. They fail to take into account some major forces and phenomena in the environment. All of them neglect the dynamic nature of biological influences on the environment. They simply treat the amount of CO2 conversion (basically as a result of photosynthesis) as a constant, rather than as a function whose parameters would be something like average yearly temperature, CO2 content of the atmosphere, etc. This is one of the more glaring examples of oversimplification in certain atmospheric simulations.

    Other scientists have modeled the earth differently (using more optimistic rules to model certain phenomena) and have obtained different results. But the fact of the matter is that crucial pieces of our knowledge about the Earth are missing. We just don't know how dynamic a system the Earth is and how easy or difficult it is to disrupt its equilibrium. We don't know what the true function is that biology plays and to what degree its slope varies. Most well-respected researchers are the first to admit this, and they refute the findings of the sensationalists on just these grounds.

    Basically, doomsayers are bending the rules just slightly, with minor assumptions and simplifications, in order to get their agena across. Most of them simply want funding and are looking to do research that sounds groundbreaking in order to distinguish themselves. The fact that you get seemingly contradictory reports almost weekly on this topic, and many others, is an indication of junk science, human nature, and the sensationalist nature of much of the press.

  • by RedWizzard (192002) on Monday January 22, 2001 @10:50PM (#489517)
    There's a better article [newscientist.com] at NewScientist.com
  • by RedWizzard (192002) on Monday January 22, 2001 @10:44PM (#489518)
    prediction of a specific future climate state is not possible.
    No one is predicting a specific climate state for the future. They are predicting that on average global temperatures will be as much as 6 degrees higher.

    They are trying to prove something that can't be observed, because it hasn't happened yet, can't be reliably seen to be happening...
    You, and presumably JunkScience.com need to do a little more reading. Start here. [newscientist.com] Some highlights: 1987 was the warmest year on record to that date. The '80s had 7 of the 8th warmest years. 1995, then 1998, then 1999 broke that record. The '90s became the hottest decade of the last millenium, despite the eruption of Mt Pinatubo which interrupted the trend for two years.
  • by RedWizzard (192002) on Monday January 22, 2001 @11:26PM (#489519)
    First of all, reducing C02 doesn't really lower greenhouse gases. The biggest greenhouse gas is water vapor, making up 98% of all greenhouse gases. We can't control water vapor.
    Let's assume human activities have no effect on atmospheric water vapour (which is obviously false: water vapour is a primary byproduct of hydrocarbon combustion). Atmosphere starts at a balance. Humans industrialize, we emit some (comparatively) minor amounts of greenhouse gases. Temperatures rise slightly, it may be hardly detectable. That results in increased water evaporation. Water vapour in the atmosphere increases. Nasty positive feedback loop. See here [climateark.org].

    That's a gross simplification, and may not even occur. But we don't know. We don't know how delicate the system is. And we don't know if some previously undiscovered feedback loop is going to leap up and bite us on our arses (several candidates [newscientist.com] are already known [newscientist.com]).

    It was similar to the worry about global warming now, only the reverse. As we know now, this didn't happen.
    You display a lack of understanding. Global warming doesn't mean "everywhere gets hotter", it means that the Earth's average temperature goes up. Which results in changes to climate patterns which can result in regions getting colder, and possibly cause localized ice-age like conditions. This article [newscientist.com] (which is a year old) expresses concerns that Europe may face an ice-age style cooling effect. Again I stress: we don't know what effects these climate changes might have, but there's a good chance they won't be pleasant. Are you willing to take the gamble? Also note that we're talking decades to centuries here, not years.
    Third, global temperature depends on where you measure temperature. If I measure temperature in the middle of the city, it will go way up as the city increases in size and population. If I measure it in the country, it's not going to increase. Statistics lie, that's what they're good for.
    That's why they use averages. Sheesh. This stuff is not the result of some propaganda machine, despite what you might hear around here. The research is available in the applicable journals. Go read it.
    Lastly, scientists don't agree on global warming. There was a similar conference earlier this year where scientists decided that they couldn't come up with a solid decision on global warming.
    That sounds like lies to me. Produce a reference. Scientists can't agree on the exact effect of global warming but there are very few on deny it outright these days.
  • by the Atomic Rabbit (200041) on Monday January 22, 2001 @06:47PM (#489527)

    Actually, even if electric cars ultimately derive their energy from fossil fuel-burning electrical power plant, they'll probably still be cleaner than cars with internal combustion engines. Vehicle-mounted engines sacrifice fuel-burning efficiency for portability, whereas power plants go to great lengths to burn the fuel as thoroughly as possible.

    I don't have any numbers handy, but IIRC the savings are quite considerable.

  • by w00ly_mammoth (205173) on Monday January 22, 2001 @11:42PM (#489534)
    "Two South Pacific islands have disappeared beneath the waves, as climate change raises sea levels to new heights.

    They are Tebua Tarawa and Abanuea - which ironically means "the beach which is long-lasting" - in the island state of Kiribati"

    That's from the BBC [bbc.co.uk]

    One thing I've found interesting is the level of disconnect between cause and effect in the US. The average American produces 70 times the level of pollution as the average person in a developing country, but most Americans I talk to never realise the damage they cause because they never see it . For instance, DDT is banned in the US as a toxic chemical, but it's exported for household use to developing nations.

    If you only looked at the facts from an unbiased perspective, and actually had some contact with those who suffer the brunt of these damages, trust me, your opinion would be different.

    Another thing I find interesting is that most Americans seem to get their opinion about scientific issues such as global warming and evolution from politicians and talk show hosts. The topmost post on this page is a guy quoting Rush Limbaugh on how volcanoes are more polluting than anything humans ever made (and it's been moderated up to 5). Guys....these people aren't educated enough to barely understand these topics, let alone form an opinion or explain it to others. Don't follow them like sheep. Columnists, politicians, left-wing and right-wing ideologues have agendas and try to sway your mind. Trust them as much as you would their expert knowledge on how to partition your HD for optimum seek times.

    For issues on science, the best people to refer to are *scientists*. Yes, they are sometimes wrong, and they have competing theories, but they are heaps better and more reliable than anybody else, because they do it for a living and have to prove things more accurately and with greater impact on their lives than anybody else who talks about these things.

    But then, judging by the wise posts in response to the article, what would scientists know....
  • by tswinzig (210999) on Monday January 22, 2001 @08:37PM (#489540) Journal
    I like to take the broader view of this whole situation. A dominant theory of Earth history says it has gone through cycles of "hotter than normal" and "colder than normal" for billions of years.

    And you guys are worried about a measly century of global warming? As Carl Sagan said, if the history of the universe was described as a 12-month calendar, Earth's human race would have taken up less than ONE SECOND of that entire calendar year.

    Kinda puts things in perspective, doesn't it?

    Bring on the global warming! As George Carlin would say, "The planet is fine... the PEOPLE are fucked! Big difference!"

    -thomas
  • by Preposterous Coward (211739) on Tuesday January 23, 2001 @12:59AM (#489546)
    I actually don't believe the bulk of global warming alarmism, but I feel compelled to point out that your comment is severely flawed. First of all, one data point (i.e., one cold winter) does not a trend make. Even if there were strong global warming, that doesn't mean that there wouldn't be occasional exceptions to that pattern. (And by the way, it's been a beautiful and unusually warm winter here in Seattle :-)

    Second, global warming does not simply mean "warmer winters". It means warmer average temperatures across the globe as a whole (most of which is water, remember), which could have dramatic effects to either warm or cool specific areas if ocean currents were to shift, for example. One possible scenario is that hotter years would be hotter and cooler years would be cooler -- i.e., that global warming spreads the extremes of climate at both the bottom and the top end.

    Third, your analogy between weather forecasting and climate forecasting is incorrect. Your analogy to predicting the state of the stock market is actually an interesting one, as it's very hard to predict where the DJIA (or any individual stock) will close tomorrow or next week, but it's not unreasonable to make a prediction like this: In 200 years the DJIA will be at least 10x and perhaps as much as 100x what it is now. (I pulled those numbers out of my ass; they are probably way too low.) Your prediction could still be wrong, of course, but my point is that sometimes longer-term trends are easier to identify than short-term ones because the underlying drivers are not obscured by unpredictable short-term fluctuations.

    As I mentioned in the beginning, we're on the same side of the argument here. I just think that you should choose the arguments that defend the anti-global-warming position a lot more accurately so you don't end up making us all look stupid.

  • The EPA [epa.gov] recently launched their brand new global warming [epa.gov] web site, complete with great facts about global warming. Apparently, naturally occuring carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide gases are causing more harm than artificial hydrofluorocarbons (HFC), perfluorocarbons (PFC), and sulfurhexafluorides (SF6). I'd say they need more sinks.
  • by superposed (308216) on Monday January 22, 2001 @10:12PM (#489657)
    I think a few clarifications need to be made here and for some of the messages further down:

    (1) CFCs have almost nothing to do with global warming. They are the main cause of ozone depletion, which is a different problem. Ozone depletion allows more ultraviolet light to reach the Earth's surface. The most commonly cited threat from ozone depletion is a rise in skin cancer.

    Global warming (a different problem) is caused by a buildup of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which trap solar heat reflected from the earth, and send it back down again, raising the planet's average temperature. The most commonly cited threat from global warming is a rise in sea level. But there are other scary problems. The one that I worry about is the fact that global warming could shift lots of climate bands hundreds of miles toward the poles. Existing ecosystems are built around the current temperature regimes -- forests and other ecosystems simply can't move as fast as the climate bands will shift, and they could be gradually weakened or killed off.

    (2) This is not "bogus science." The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is the single most authoritative source on this topic. They were established with the blessing of most world governments and with the mandate to come up with a genuine scientific consensus on the issue of climate change. They started in the early '90s with meek statements about the possibility of human-induced climate change, and have gradually become more decisive as more evidence has accumulated. The most important thing about this report is not the exact numbers that they are estimating, but the fact that most of the world's scientists who know anything about the topic (including a number of former skeptics) now believe that the evidence shows beyond a reasonable doubt that humans are causing global warming which is clearly distinct from the Earth's natural variation. You can always find some scientists (and more often pseudoscientists) who will disagree, but they are now a slim minority.

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