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Unexplained Leap In CO2 Levels 1215

Posted by Hemos
from the when-not-if? dept.
Cally writes "The Guardian is reporting that atmospheric CO2 concentrations have leapt by 4.5 ppm in the last two years. This raises the ugly possibility that the capacity of a large carbon sink (possibly the oceans) has been exceeded, and the worst-case scenario is that a tipping point has been reached and a runaway warming scenario is in progress. Quote from Dr. Piers Foster of Reading University: 'If this is a rate change, of course it will be very significant. It will be of enormous concern, because it will imply that all our global warming predictions for the next hundred years or so will have to be redone.'"
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Unexplained Leap In CO2 Levels

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  • More on sinks (Score:5, Informative)

    by erick99 (743982) <homerun@gmail.com> on Monday October 11, 2004 @08:32AM (#10491967)
    Carbon Sinks [umn.edu] are an important component of this discussion. From the article referenced in the first sentence:

    Buildup of atmospheric C02 is moderated by "sinks" on the earth's surface that use some C02 and store much of the carbon in living organisms, organic matter and carbonate minerals, says soil scientist H.H. Cheng. These carbon sinks include the oceans that cover more than 70 percent of the earth surface, forests and other vegetation covering the land, and organic matter in the soil.

    Interestingly, this article talks about soil as a possible source of CO2 buildup in the atmosphere, making the El Nino effect not always a good indicator of how much a rise or fall in atmospheric CO2 should be. Finally, here is article that that argues that rises in atmospheric CO2 are not a cause for alarm: PortlandTribune.com | Rise in CO2 levels is no cause for alarm [portlandtribune.com]

    • Re:More on sinks (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DreadPiratePizz (803402) on Monday October 11, 2004 @08:38AM (#10492003)
      PortlandTribune.com | Rise in CO2 levels is no cause for alarm

      This isn't true. I heard an article on NPR the other day that discussed Global Warming's treatment in the media. The man being interviewed thought that the media did the issue a great disservice by trying to be fair and covering both sides of the issue. The fact is, there IS NO OTHER SIDE. The scientific evidence that humans are affecting the climate with CO2 is as clear as day, and scientists who say otherwise are hired by special interest groups or oil companies. That article is true when it says that the effects we will have on climate aren't fully known, but the connection is there in a strong way. All of the research I have read suggests the link. We NEED to be concerned.
      • Re:More on sinks (Score:4, Insightful)

        by jd (1658) <imipak&yahoo,com> on Monday October 11, 2004 @08:48AM (#10492084) Homepage Journal
        Agreed, 100%. The "other side" tends to be those causing the pollution. However, that's just how they are, right now, when their ultra-expensive coastal home is above water. If CO2 levels are spiralling rapidly, it's unlikely to remain that way.


        On a side-note, British scientists have observed that, although they've largely eliminated acid rain causing pollution from power stations, etc, the problem of acid rain is actually getting worse in places. This has now been shown to be a product of marine fuels and an increase in shipping.


        Consider, then, the impact this increase will be having on countries that have not put in the time, effort and money to reduce pollution...

        • Re:More on sinks (Score:4, Insightful)

          by mrseth (69273) on Monday October 11, 2004 @10:06AM (#10492725) Homepage
          "Agreed, 100%. The "other side" tends to be those causing the pollution. However, that's just how they are, right now, when their ultra-expensive coastal home is above water. If CO2 levels are spiralling rapidly, it's unlikely to remain that way."

          This is the unfortunate thing about the so-called neoconservative mindset. Modern conservatism is nothing more than the rationalization of greed, avarice, and self-interest. The only time you see these folks change their mind about issues such as gay marriage or stem cells is when it touches them emotionally such as when Dick Cheny's daughter is gay or Nancy Reagan's husband develops Alzhiemer's. Global warming has not affected them adversely yet, so therefore they will always take the decision that allows them to continue their quest on attempting to collect more shiny things then their neighbors.

          • by keli (143788) on Monday October 11, 2004 @11:00AM (#10493208) Homepage
            ... continue their quest on attempting to collect more shiny things then their neighbors.
            [emphasis mine]

            Yes those neighbour-collecting neoconservatives can be a pain in the behind. :-P
          • Re:More on sinks (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Thuktun (221615) on Monday October 11, 2004 @01:22PM (#10494828) Homepage Journal
            The only time you see these folks change their mind about issues such as gay marriage or stem cells is when it touches them emotionally such as when Dick Cheny's daughter is gay or Nancy Reagan's husband develops Alzhiemer's.

            One wonders what would have happened had Mr. Reagan needed some medicinal marijuana to relieve his symptoms. Would Mrs. "Just Say No" Reagan have said no?
          • Re:More on sinks (Score:5, Insightful)

            by bigberk (547360) <bigberk@users.pc9.org> on Monday October 11, 2004 @01:52PM (#10495123)
            This is the unfortunate thing about the so-called neoconservative mindset. Modern conservatism is nothing more than the rationalization of greed, avarice, and self-interest . . . Global warming has not affected them adversely yet
            It's probably not even on their radar of "cares", since the damage is really being done in the long-term and the awful effects are to be seen long after the money is made, and the corpse is rotting.

            In my mind, these business people who try to get their way even at the detriment of the planet are among the worst humans ever. A cruel dictator or invader might result in thousands of peoples' deaths. In contrast, the individuals allowing large portions of the forests to be cut down; rare freshwater pollution; and overconsumption of resources to the brink are endangerous the lives of millions, even billions of people in the future.

            I don't want to be part of the generation that is looked back on in history and blamed as the group of people Who Finally Fucked It All Up during a period of unprecedented development.
        • Re:More on sinks (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Trailer Trash (60756) on Monday October 11, 2004 @10:07AM (#10492739) Homepage
          The "other side" tends to be people like me - informed scientists who recognize that the surface temperature of the planet, and the patterns of those temperatures, have naturally fluxuated since the beginning of time, long before human involvement. While human-created CO2 may well be causing global warming (if there is a warming trend), it might also be the natural warming trend that started at the end of the last ice age.

          We need to understand that climates change, always have and always will. We like our current climates, but they won't be here forever, even if we reduce the atmospheric CO2 levels.

          I can imagine you fruitcakes at the end of the ice age: "The glaciers will be *gone* if we don't act now!!!!"

          Well, they're gone.
          • by Vintermann (400722) on Monday October 11, 2004 @10:17AM (#10492820) Homepage
            Um, it may be that you are indeed an "informed scientist" in some field, but if you expect this to influence our views, it's probably wise to trade your nickname, "Trailer Trash", for something more impressive, even though that would cost you your five-digit user ID...
          • Re:More on sinks (Score:4, Insightful)

            by teromajusa (445906) on Monday October 11, 2004 @10:43AM (#10493064)
            We need to understand that climates change, always have and always will. We like our current climates, but they won't be here forever, even if we reduce the atmospheric CO2 levels.

            You won't be here forever either, but if people were trying to accelerate your death, I doubt you would be so fatalistic. Stopping global warming isn't about halting climate change. Proponents of the global warming theory aren't claiming that the climate does not change naturally. You claim to be an 'informed scientist', but your representation of the views you dismiss are grossly uninformed.
          • Re:More on sinks (Score:5, Insightful)

            by jd (1658) <imipak&yahoo,com> on Monday October 11, 2004 @11:09AM (#10493262) Homepage Journal
            "Informed" scientists tend not to need to boast about how informed they are. It's so obvious by the content that the labelling and branding become superfluous. Steven Hawking doesn't need to have "PhD" stuck in large neon colors on his books and papers, for example.


            Truly informed scientists also recognise that, yes, climates change over time. We're actually in a warm spell, in the middle of an Ice Age. The tempertures should, on average, be going down, not up. The fact that the temperatures are rising at all is significant. The fact that they have sharply risen only since the Industrial Revolution in the 1800s is also significant.


            The fact that industrialists aren't keen on paying the costs to upgrade and modernise their rather archaic and inefficient systems is significant only in the amazing naivety of it. Modernising costs, sure, but if you can produce more for less, then you end up the long-term winner from spending that money.


            By avoiding responsibility, industrialists not only endanger the environment, they also hurt themselves. So, even if you disregard the environmental aspect, these people are STILL commiting suicide.


            Are you sure it's the suicidal lunatics we want to be listening to?

      • Re:More on sinks (Score:3, Insightful)

        by julesh (229690)
        The fact is, there IS NO OTHER SIDE. The scientific evidence that humans are affecting the climate with CO2 is as clear as day, and scientists who say otherwise are hired by special interest groups or oil companies.

        As a layman with a little scientific background, I think I can see both sides here. There are two sides, whatever you may say. There is the side saying that our CO2 emissions are going to bring about serious climate change that could be disastrous to us, and there is the side that says the ot
        • Re:More on sinks (Score:5, Informative)

          by stevelinton (4044) <sal@dcs.st-and.ac.uk> on Monday October 11, 2004 @10:14AM (#10492790) Homepage
          First the meta point. You can find "qualified scientists" taking both sides of practically any question you can think of. This is good, from an academic freedom point of view, and because, just occasionally, some idea will slowly creep in from "a silly point of view held by a few awkward cranks that no one listens to" to eventually become mainstream (although it is important to remember that 99+% of such ideas will NOT do this). It is precisely to ensure this breadth of viewpoints that academics have tenure, so that they cannot be fired just because their views are unpopular.

          The down side of this breadth is that when the media present a scientific issue, they, wishing to be "balanced" and not understanding the issue, will look around for some one who takes the opposite view, and find someone. So, they give equal air time to someone who represents the consensus view of 99.5% of the world's scientists who have thought about the question, and a random member of the other 0.5%. The result is that the public really has no idea what is a genuine scientific controversy with the world's experts split 50/50 and what is a few oddballs railing against an otherwise solid consensus.

          Global warming is a good example of this. The media makes it seem like a closely fought evenly balanced scientific dispute, which it might have been 20 years ago, rather than an issue that the vast majority of climatologists will agree is settled in general terms (although many important questions remain), which it is today. This is exacerbated when oil companies and their hirelings (like the US federal government) spend their billions to push their viewpoint as well.

          On your technical points. Firstly the "drop in the ocean" thing is just wrong. We are emitting a substantial fraction (something like 30% I think) of all the CO2 released every year. The CO2 levels and temperatures have varied historically, but (a) The consequences were pretty unpleasant (rising sea levels, etc.) and (b) many of the changes happened over millions of years, not decades.

        • Re:More on sinks (Score:4, Insightful)

          by R.Caley (126968) on Monday October 11, 2004 @10:29AM (#10492934)
          O2 levels vary dramatically whether we're here or not,

          This is, of course, irrelevant. That the CO2 level, and hence climate, has varied in the past is not going to be much comfort if you wake up to find your bedroom 3 feet deep in seawater.

          No one (sane) is arguing that the change in CO2 and hence climate we seem to be seeing is moving the earth somewhere it hasn't been before, or that it will somehow destroy the biosphere. Indeed if it seriously impacts on human life it will likely improve things by reducing the number of people and their ability to screw things up.

          The isssues are

          1. Is it happening.
          2. If it is and keeps happening, will we be seriously screwed.
          3. Is human activity part of the cause.
          4. If 1, 2, and 3, then how can we change our activity to minimise the `we are screwed' level.

          The people who think it is a bad thing when evidence is found that human activity is causing CO2 levels to rise haven't thought it through[*]. If you are in a car accelerating towards a wall, would you prefer it to be because you are going down hill, or because you absent mindedly put your foot on the accelerator?

          Personally I like Terry Pratchett's suggestion that we should all buy more books.

          [*] Well, haven't thought it through or are part of the fossil fuel industry and hope to earn enough to build a bunker.

      • Re:More on sinks (Score:3, Interesting)

        by RodgerDodger (575834)
        There is no question that human activity has resulted in increased carbon dioxide levels.

        Of course, we don't emit as much CO2 now as was done in the mid-12th century (aka "the Little Ice Age"); over a period of about 50 years, it got so cold that about 75% of the Black Forest was cut down, reducing it to smaller than its current size. All of that went up in smoke.

        And we don't emit as much in a year as a good size active volcano can do in a week. But we do emit enough to cause CO2 levels to rise.

        Of course
        • Re:More on sinks (Score:5, Informative)

          by brsmith4 (567390) <brsmith4NO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday October 11, 2004 @10:26AM (#10492906)
          Quoting Lars T. from earlier, Regarding "And we don't emit as much in a year as a good size active volcano can do in a week. But we do emit enough to cause CO2 levels to rise."

          "Scientists have calculated that volcanoes emit between about 130-230 million tonnes (145-255 million tons) of CO2 into the atmosphere every year (Gerlach, 1999, 1992). This estimate includes both subaerial and submarine volcanoes, about in equal amounts. Emissions of CO2 by human activities, including fossil fuel burning, cement production, and gas flaring, amount to about 22 billion tonnes per year (24 billion tons). Human activities release more than 150 times the amount of CO2 emitted by volcanoes--the equivalent of nearly 17,000 additional volcanoes like Kilauea (Kilauea emits about 13.2 million tonnes/year)!"


          Hope this helps.
      • Re:More on sinks (Score:3, Insightful)

        by DarkSarin (651985)
        Since you haven't shown any proof of your statements, then I don't feel the need to do so either.

        I have heard a number of credible sources state that the case for global warming is not that strong. From what I remember, we know that there has been a very slight warming trend over the past few decades--but that we aren't truly certain of the causes. Remember, the correlation between rising C02 levels and rising temperatures is just that--a correlation, which does not indicate causality. This is a basic t
    • Re:More on sinks (Score:5, Informative)

      by moonbender (547943) <moonbender@g m a i l.com> on Monday October 11, 2004 @08:45AM (#10492059)
      Finally, here is article that that argues that rises in atmospheric CO2 are not a cause for alarm: PortlandTribune.com | Rise in CO2 levels is no cause for alarm

      For what it's worth: The article - it's really just a brief op-ed piece - is fairly old (Fri, Jun 20, 2003), does not deal with the "leap" dealt with in the original article, and is written by the "environmental policy director at Cascade Policy Institute, a free-market think tank in Portland".
    • Re:More on sinks (Score:5, Interesting)

      by GooberToo (74388) on Monday October 11, 2004 @09:34AM (#10492450)
      I saw a story on (I think) PBS about this. A guy, many years ago (5-8 years) marked off some plots in various locations. Once a year he goes and samples the soil from these plots. His finding was that carbon (CO2) is being depleated from the soil. In turn, the the warming planet will increase the rate of CO2 release from the soil. IIRC, from his test plots, the carbon levels present in his plots were down something like 5x what they were when he started his experiment.

      His conclusion that the warming of the planet will greatly accelerate the release of carbon from the soil, which in turn, will warm the planet, which in turn will release more carbon from the soil. As you can see, he predicts a nasty spiral.

      Perhaps someone here saw this story too and can offer the name of it? Perhaps it was a Nova show? I must admit, I did not see the whole show, nor did I pay a lot of attention to it? So, perhaps I missed some details. At any rate, hopefully someone will provide more details.

      • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Monday October 11, 2004 @12:05PM (#10493859) Journal
        His conclusion that the warming of the planet will greatly accelerate the release of carbon from the soil, which in turn, will warm the planet, which in turn will release more carbon from the soil. As you can see, he predicts a nasty spiral.

        One way to drastically drop the carbon level is to seed the southern Pacific ocean with small amounts of iron. This has been shown to cause an algae bloom, drastically increasing the sinking of CO2 from the air. (A major fraction of the algae die without being eaten and sink, taking the carbon with them to the deep ocean where it sits for millenia until the sluggish currents bring it to an upwelling.)

        If we have a runaway we can try using this to turn it around. Attempting to fine-tune the carbon content of the atmosphere with it now risks the opposite spiral and a new ice age:

        - Carbon sink lowers the C02 level and greenhouse effect.
        - CO2 drop produces global cooling.
        - Cooling results in more glaciation on Antarctica and the polar extremes of the other continents.
        - Sequestered water and cooler temperatures reduce rainfall.
        - Reduced rainfall expands deserts.
        - Expanded deserts result in more dust in the atmosphere, including iron and other micronutrients.
        - Some of this dust falls in the ocean, reenforcing and expanding the algae blooms.

        There is currently some question as to whether this, rather than (just) solar cycles or continental drift modifying weather cycles, is the cause of ice ages.
    • Re:More on sinks (Score:4, Insightful)

      by mark2003 (632879) on Monday October 11, 2004 @10:26AM (#10492916)
      Interesting the diference in opinion on this topic in the US as compared to the rest of the world.

      I have not seen any articles in credible scientific magazines, such as New Scientist, Scientific American, Science etc. that have dismissed the link between carbon dioxide and global warming or that man is responsible for the majority of the change in CO2 levels and I have not seen (in a long time) any articles in major European newspapers denying the existence of global warming. Yet the Portland Tribune is held up as evidence. The author has a Masters degree and works for a free market think tank - what is his Masters in? What is this author's scientific qualification for his claims?

      Unfortunately it seems that in the US the press is full of this kind of political opinion masquerading as science. You can see the consequences on Slashdot - the discussion generally becomes divided into US readers and everyone else. The readers from the US denying the cause and effect relationship that appears to exist and everyone else expressing their amazement that people living in the world's most industrial nation do not seem to understand this simple science...
  • by aborchers (471342) on Monday October 11, 2004 @08:33AM (#10491976) Homepage Journal
    We're in the run up to an election in the US. It's all the candidates hot air...
  • What about.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 59Bassman (749855) on Monday October 11, 2004 @08:34AM (#10491986) Journal
    It will be of enormous concern, because it will imply that all our global warming predictions for the next hundred years or so will have to be redone.
    Or just maybe it implies that the model of global warming is flawed? Perhaps the ecosystem is a bit more complex than any of us realize, and perhaps this is a natural phenomenon?

    • Re:What about.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by moonbender (547943) <moonbender@g m a i l.com> on Monday October 11, 2004 @08:40AM (#10492016)
      It's most certainly flawed, and I'm sure the people working on those models are very aware of that. Perhaps it's a natural phenomenon, perhaps not, probably it's a combination, but what do I know. You get a better idea as to what is the case by working with and improving on the existing models. And at any point in time, the respective existing model is all you've got to base a sound argument on.
    • Re:What about.. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by StrawberryFrog (67065) on Monday October 11, 2004 @08:47AM (#10492073) Homepage Journal
      Or just maybe it implies that the model of global warming is flawed?

      Of course it implies that the model of global warming is flawed. And it indicates that things are probably worse than the doomsayers thought.

      Perhaps the ecosystem is a bit more complex than any of us realize,

      Some of us realise that it's very complex indeed.

      and perhaps this is a natural phenomenon?

      That's not what the evidence indicates. So there's no absolute prof yet, but hey, maybe that gun isn't loaded. Why not point it at your head, pull the trigger and see. But please, don't you take that risk with my future.
    • Re:What about.. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Ardanwen (746930) on Monday October 11, 2004 @08:52AM (#10492118)
      Well, chances are that the model is flawed. I'm a theoretical biologist, so modelling biological processes is what I do (HIV evolution for me at the moment), and as the co2 level is in part a biological problem, I can spew some incoherent thoughts about it, claiming it's the opinion of an expert. ;)

      Just because there's no way for us to give a good estimate of the impact of our actions on the earth, doesn't mean that we need to consider those actions more carefully then we are now. We're only just emerging from a few centuries in which we just exploited everything, assuming that we wouldn't run out of resources.

      If we slipped past a threshold and we're in a runaway heating, then life as you know it ends soon. It might be because of human actions, or it might not be, but that's not important. We don't want the earth to end up as either Mars or Venus, and we'll have to take what actions seem neccesary (and that doesn't include saving the economy :P).

      Too bad it isn't my turn to rule the earth.
  • last two years... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Daniel Ellard (799842) on Monday October 11, 2004 @08:38AM (#10492000)
    Any chance this has something to do with burning oil wells? (I guess if so then there would have been another spike about ten years ago...)

  • *sigh* (Score:3, Insightful)

    by GR1NCH (671035) on Monday October 11, 2004 @08:40AM (#10492014)
    Every time there is some big post about a comet hitting earth in the next 20 years, or global warming, or any other earth ending disaster it stays in the news for about 1 day. Just long enough for every other scientist in the world to say the guy that came up with it is a crank and the whole thing doesn't matter. I give this one maybe 2 days.
    • Re:*sigh* (Score:3, Funny)

      by BarryNorton (778694)
      If only we would just hurry up and die then it would stop...
    • Re:*sigh* (Score:4, Insightful)

      by YouHaveSnail (202852) on Monday October 11, 2004 @08:52AM (#10492119)
      Then it should tell you something that global warming has been in the news for twenty years or more, and that it's a theory that's been widely accepted by scientists.

      The only people you hear saying that it doesn't matter these days are politicians with links to the oil and gas industries.

      This particular article may be out of the headlines in a few days, but the issue will be with us for the rest of our lives.
  • Stop Reading (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 11, 2004 @08:41AM (#10492023)
    David J Hofmann of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration centre, which also studies CO2, was more cautious.

    "I don't think an increase of 2 ppm for two years in a row is highly significant - there are climatic perturbations that can make this occur," he said. "But the absence of a known climatic event does make these years unusual.

    "Based on those two years alone I would say it was too soon to say that a new trend has been established, but it warrants close scrutiny."

    --

    Nothing to see here, run along.
  • by Viol8 (599362) on Monday October 11, 2004 @08:42AM (#10492038)
    Someone will be along soon to tell us that this is all part of a natural progression and we have nothing to worry about and to all go back to driving 5.0 SUVs as we can't hope to understand the climate and so figures are irrelevant and its not are fault etc etc etc. I wonder how many of these people STILL have their heads in the sand after this?
    • by erick99 (743982) <homerun@gmail.com> on Monday October 11, 2004 @08:47AM (#10492076)
      You have to take these alarmist predictions with a grain of salt. Remember in the 1978 when we were told that we had less than 10 years worth of oil still in the ground? Since then we have learned quite the opposite. I am not saying we shouldn't address the issues of so-called "greenhouse gases," but we don't have to go at it in a panic-stricken manner. We should do what we can to maintain a clean and stable atmosphere.
      • by Asha2004 (460204) on Monday October 11, 2004 @09:03AM (#10492194)
        True we shouldnt panic, and we should always carefully look at the evidence. But the issue has been on and off the political agenda for the last 20 years and we are still all producing more co2 each year. So we can assume that since 78 nobody believes or acts upon warnings with any seriousness anymore, "because in 78 it turned out to be nonsense....".
        "We should do what we can to maintain a clean and stable atmosphere." I agree, but must also note that we are not doing that at the moment.
    • Leave our cars alone ! Even though they suck in air, burn it with millions years old Dinosaur-meat, then plunge out recycled Dinosaur-meat in the form of CO(2), that doesn't mean they are the problem.

      I think we can only test your far fetched hypothesis by producing new 10-20 liter cars, and decrease the petrol cost by 75% at least. If, after say 25 years, we are imitating the faith of the creatures we now burn, I would say we need to discuss the consequences.

      In the mean time, keep burning that oil folks
  • Convergence (Score:3, Funny)

    by DrWho520 (655973) on Monday October 11, 2004 @08:45AM (#10492053) Journal
    Thirteen hurricanes by the first week of October, and a very active Typhoon season in the Pacific.

    Mt. St. Helens rumbling.

    Earthquakes in California.

    And now, a build up of CO2 in the atmosphere!

    So when are the Tsunamis and land slides do? When will the Mississippi start to flood? The Yellowstone caldera even reaching its theoretical 640 thousand (million ?) year cycling point! Game over, man! GAME OVER!
    • Re:Convergence (Score:3, Interesting)

      by arivanov (12034)
      You missed Cumbre Viejo. If it slides as its northern brother did 1.2 million years ago there will be nothing left on the entire US coast. Remember the end of the Deep Impact movie? The same.

      In btw, interestingly enough it is all hitting mostly the US :-)
  • by cluge (114877) on Monday October 11, 2004 @08:46AM (#10492066) Homepage

    Peat Bogs outburn Western Europe New Scientist 18 Oct 1997


    PEAT bogs in Indonesia that have been set alight by the country's raging forest fires could release more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere over the next six months than all the power stations and car engines of Western Europe emit in a year. The finding backs up claims that the fires could have a significant impact on global warming.


    Sometimes there is very little that we can do to stop the production of CO2 into our atmosphere. Natural causes, like breathing put tonnes of CO2 into the air. Why haven't we begun a program using iron oxide spread on the ocean to trap and remove CO2? It's viability was proved years ago?. Why are environmentalist opposed to a scientific solution?

    • by mr_null (16516) on Monday October 11, 2004 @09:02AM (#10492181)
      I really think the only thing that recent experiments in HNLC ocean waters has proved is that Fe2+ is the limiting nutrient in phytoplankton production.

      There really doesn't seem to be a solid link between increased production and Carbon sequestering. It's definatly worth further study, but as for proven?

      Do you have well regarded source you could list that states some hard numbers for Carbon sequestering rates? I wouldn't mind seeing it, as I certainly havn't read every article out there on the subject.
    • by mcbevin (450303) on Monday October 11, 2004 @11:59AM (#10493776) Homepage
      Why are environmentalist opposed to a scientific solution?

      Is that a question or a statement? What makes you assume that environmentalists are opposed to scientific solutions per se?

      Do you not think that developing greener cars or greener ways of creating energy are 'scientific' solutions? Or using technology to reduce the CO2 emissions from existing power plants / factories? Or using more efficient light bulbs etc etc? Environmentalists seem to generally support these things, in addition to other methods. If they're against any 'scientific' solution (i.e. say nuclear energy or this idea of yours) its not due to it being scientific, rather (possibly overblown) concerns about side-effects it may have (i.e. nuclear waste).

      Also, the fact that there are unavoidable causes of CO2 doesn't mean we shouldn't avoid the avoidable - the earth exists in a balance (i.e. of CO2 sinks and sources), and its the very avoidable increases over the past few hundred years in our increase in CO2 that appear to be tipping the balance, not the occasional forest fire etc which have always occasionally happened.
  • More Evidence (Score:4, Insightful)

    by squoozer (730327) on Monday October 11, 2004 @08:47AM (#10492080)
    How much more evidence do we need before we start to do something about this problem? The problem, IMHO, is that even if we are at the point of seeing the start of run away global warming there is little incentive for our governments to do anything about it as it won't affect the current generation significantly.

    If any of the governments of the world were thinking ahead though they would start investing very heavily in alternative power generation technology. In global terms it's not all that long before we run out of fossil fuels or damage the climate to the point where fossil fuels cost more than they are worth. The country that owns the technology to generate clean power will be in a very strong position. Imagine if your country didn't have to rely on the middle east for transport - suddenly your country becomes very powerful.

    At the end of the day though while the American sheeple continue to vote idiots into power nothing is going to be done about the problem.
  • The sky is falling (Score:3, Informative)

    by Kohath (38547) on Monday October 11, 2004 @08:51AM (#10492110)
    Everyone run for the hills.

    Here's a graph of temperature vs. Carbon-dioxide levels [junkscience.com]. See a relationship? Neither do I.

    It's from this article [junkscience.com].
    • by Graham Clark (11925) on Monday October 11, 2004 @09:06AM (#10492229)
      Some atmospheric measurements don't show warming, or even show cooling.

      However (see this [nasa.gov] Nasa page) Earth-surface and near-surface measurements do show warming. As we live on or very near the earth's surface, this is the imporant point to notice.

      The graphs you point at is somewhat selective in its choice of data.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 11, 2004 @09:28AM (#10492397)
      Steven J. Milloy publishes JunkScience.com and is an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute and a commentator on Fox News.

      He has spent his life as a lobbyist for major corporations and trade organisations which have poisioning or polluting problems. He originally ran NEPI (National Environmental Policy Institute) which was founded by Republican Rep Don Ritter (who tried to get tobacco industry funding) using oil and gas industry funding. NEPI was dedicated to transforming both the EPA and the FDA, and challenging the cost of Superfund toxic cleanups by these large corporations.

      NEPI was also associated with the AQSC (Air Quality Standards Coalition) which was devoted to emasculating Clean Air laws. This organisation took up the cry of "we need sound science" from the chemical industry as a way to counter claims of pollution -- and Milloy became involved in what became known as the "sound-science" movement. Its most effective ploy was to label science not beneficial to the large funding corporations as "junk" -- and Milloy was one of its most effective lobbyists because he wrote well, and used humour (PJ O'Rourke was another -- but better!)

      He joined Philip Morris's specialist-science/PR company APCO & Associates in 1992, working behind the scenes on a business venture known as "Issues Watch". By this time, APCO had been taken over and become a part of the world-wide Grey Marketing organisation, and so Milloy was able to use the international organisation as a feed source for services to corporations who had international problems.

      Issues Watch bulletins were only given out to paying customers, so Milloy started for APCO the "Junkscience.com" web site, which gave him an outlet to attack health and environmental activists, and scientists who published findings not supportive of his client's businesses. Like most good PR it mixes some good, general criticism of science and science-reporting, with some outright distorted and manipulative pieces.

      The Junkscience web site was supposedly run by a pseudo-grassroots organisation called TASSC (The Advancement for Sound Science Coalition), which initially paid ex-Governor Curruthers of New Mexico as a front. Milloy actually ran it from the back-room, and issued the press releases. Then when Curruthers resigned, Milloy started to call himself "Director" (Bonner Cohen - another of the same ilk also working for APCO - became "President")

      Initially all of this was funded by Philip Morris, as part of their contributions to the distortion of tobacco science, but later they widened out the focus and introduced even more funding by establishing a coalition -- with energy, pharmaceutical, chemical companies. TASSC's funders include 3M, Amoco, Chevron, Dow Chemical, Exxon, General Motors, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Lorillard Tobacco, Louisiana Chemical Association,National Pest Control Association, Occidental Petroleum, Philip Morris Companies, Procter & Gamble, Santa Fe Pacific Gold, and W.R. Grace, the asbestos and pesticide manufacturers.

      TASSC was then exposed publicly as a fraud. And so Milloy established the "Citizens for the Integrity of Science" to take over the running of the Junkscience.com web site.

      http://www.disinfopedia.org/wiki.phtml?title=Steve n_J._Milloy [disinfopedia.org]

      amazing what you find on the internets
    • by Lars T. (470328)
      Well, at least that graph shows that there is global warming.
    • by julesh (229690) on Monday October 11, 2004 @09:34AM (#10492457)
      This data seems to disagree with yours [daviesand.com].

      Which do you believe?
  • Remember that talking about Global Warming is very unpatriotic in the US!

    Just ask a "sponsored" (read: lobbied) politican.
    Then ask a "censored" (read: cut off from money because of non compliant research) scientist.
  • by Illserve (56215) on Monday October 11, 2004 @09:23AM (#10492360)
    The earth's carbon sinks are not static in capacity. Everything is interlocked feedback cycles. As CO2 goes up, so too does the growth rate of all vegetation.

    It is the naive simplicity of the mathematics used by many lay-men(and sometimes experts) in their discussions of climate change that cause me to seriously doubt their prediction.

    Check out this web page for example
    http://www.hydrogen.co.uk/h2_now/journal/ articles/ 2_global_warming.htm

    which tries to use *addition* to predict changes in CO2. We produce X billion tons, the amazon absorbs Y billion tons, net change is X-Y billion tons.

    This approach is as hopelessly naive as trying to calculate the flight dynamics of the space shuttle with natural numbers.

    That's just not how it works in a real dynamic system and alarmist crap like this only serves to push through ridiculous laws like Kyoto, the funding for which could bring food and water to a huge proportion of the third world instead of affecting some laughable 7% of the annual *human* CO2 output.

    Get those people fed and industrialized, and they'll stop cutting down their own forests, start going to school, and add their share of brainpower to the world's thinktank.
  • by dangineer (687802) on Monday October 11, 2004 @09:29AM (#10492409)
    In a recent National Geographic they say that the CO2 is rising, but the temperature changes through history (from ice cores and other things studied) show that temp changes over time are also tied to changes in the way the earth orbits and we are in one of those changes in orbit right now...

    Just makes it a little more

    http://magma.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/0409/index .html [nationalgeographic.com]

    Some one needs to do a sensitivity analysis on all these two.
  • by jonathanbutz (721096) on Monday October 11, 2004 @09:44AM (#10492550)
    Geological evidence suggests there were periods in the planet's history when CO2 levels were substantially higher than they are now.

    The climate was warmer, and the planet overall appears to have been more productive as a result, spawning larger land creatures (average and maximum) and rain forests at higher latitudes.

    Maybe this is just what we need to support our burgeoning population.

  • by Prototerm (762512) on Monday October 11, 2004 @09:47AM (#10492573)
    I cannot find the link at this time, but the scientists who came up with the whole Global Warming research deliberately ignored years in the middle ages where the average temperature in Europe was a lot higher than it is today. Apparently, that data did not fit their theory, so they ignored it.

    Another thing to keep in mind is that one of the more recent ice ages was caused by arctic ice melting into the Atlantic, the resulting rush of fresh water causing the warm waters of the Gulf Stream to sink. The glaciers started to move in after only 70 years (a short time in Geological terms).

    So, it's possible that this whole warmup is natural, and we're actually heading for an ice age. Freeze or Broil, take you pick, everyone.

    I wouldn't worry, though, we'll all be killed in the Nuclear War soon, anyway.
    • by Avumede (111087) on Monday October 11, 2004 @10:29AM (#10492937) Homepage
      Yeah, maybe none of the global warming scientists know that they are talking about. Perhaps they have all ignored very good evidence you have brought forward. In that case, the skeptics could easily write a paper blowing the lid off the whole deal and get it published in a presigious journal.

      However, since that has not happened, and since I am not a climatoligist myself, I choose to believe the experts.

      Doesn't this seem like a wise thing to do?
  • The Guardian (Score:5, Insightful)

    by peterpi (585134) on Monday October 11, 2004 @11:10AM (#10493272)
    It should be pointed out to non-UK readers that The Guardian is incredibly anti-Bush.

    I'm not saying that this proves anything, but it's worth keeping in mind as you read the article.

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