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Science

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

    by 59Bassman (749855) on Monday October 11, 2004 @07:34AM (#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:More on sinks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DreadPiratePizz (803402) on Monday October 11, 2004 @07:38AM (#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.
  • *sigh* (Score:3, Insightful)

    by GR1NCH (671035) on Monday October 11, 2004 @07:40AM (#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:What about.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by moonbender (547943) <moonbender@NOsPaM.gmail.com> on Monday October 11, 2004 @07:40AM (#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.
  • Stop Reading (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 11, 2004 @07:41AM (#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 @07:42AM (#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?
  • Re:What about.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by StrawberryFrog (67065) on Monday October 11, 2004 @07:47AM (#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.
  • by erick99 (743982) <homerun@gmail.com> on Monday October 11, 2004 @07:47AM (#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.
  • More Evidence (Score:4, Insightful)

    by squoozer (730327) on Monday October 11, 2004 @07:47AM (#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.
  • Re:More on sinks (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jd (1658) <<moc.oohay> <ta> <kapimi>> on Monday October 11, 2004 @07:48AM (#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:2, Insightful)

    by 0123456 (636235) on Monday October 11, 2004 @07:49AM (#10492091)
    "The scientific evidence that humans are affecting the climate with CO2 is as clear as day,"

    Nonsense, of course. We know that humans have slightly increased CO2 levels in the atmosphere, but hard evidence linking that to temperature rises is minimal.

    "scientists who say otherwise are hired by special interest groups or oil companies"

    You are parodying the lefties here and not being serious, I presume? That is, making fun of the fact that most scientists who claim that 'global warming' is a threat are being paid by governments to do 'global warming' research and would be out of a job if they didn't keep claiming that it's a big threat?

    'Global Warming' is a multi-billion dollar a year industry around the world: if you wouldn't believe McDonalds if they said that their meals are good for you, why would you believe the global warming industry?
  • Re:What about.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Ardanwen (746930) on Monday October 11, 2004 @07:52AM (#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.
  • Re:*sigh* (Score:4, Insightful)

    by YouHaveSnail (202852) on Monday October 11, 2004 @07:52AM (#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.
  • Re:More on sinks (Score:3, Insightful)

    by julesh (229690) on Monday October 11, 2004 @07:55AM (#10492140)
    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 other side is overreacting. The latter frequently point to evidence in this planet's fossil record that suggests that CO2 levels vary dramatically whether we're here or not, and that the amount of CO2 we produce is a drop in the ocean compared to what is produced and consumed every year by the rest of the planet. The argument is convincing, and I haven't heard a good counterargument.
  • by mr_null (16516) on Monday October 11, 2004 @08:02AM (#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.
  • Re:More on sinks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Oddly_Drac (625066) on Monday October 11, 2004 @08:02AM (#10492185)
    "Nonsense, of course. We know that humans have slightly increased CO2 levels in the atmosphere, but hard evidence linking that to temperature rises is minimal."

    The main problem is that if the tipping point has been reached, then the first time you might get your 'hard evidence' is the entire population of Florida migrating north.

    Still, it's fun to see people backpedalling from the 'global warming isn't caused by humans argument'. That was always fun.

    "'Global Warming' is a multi-billion dollar a year industry around the world:"

    Really? How? Where did you get that figure? Your ass?

  • by Asha2004 (460204) on Monday October 11, 2004 @08:03AM (#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.
  • Re:More on sinks (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dont_think_twice (731805) on Monday October 11, 2004 @08:09AM (#10492249) Homepage
    You must not be a scientist.

    'Global Warming' is a multi-billion dollar a year industry around the world: if you wouldn't believe McDonalds if they said that their meals are good for you, why would you believe the global warming industry?

    Scientists are different. You don't go into science to make money, or to get power. You go into science because you have a fundamental desire to understand the truth about the world we live in.

    I am glad you posted, though. I have always had a hard time understanding how anyone can dismess global warming, considering that 95% of the climate scientists agree that global warming is real. Now I understand. You think that scientists are a type of business-people who are just looking about for their own self interests. You are wrong.

    I am not sure what I can say to persuade you otherwise, except that you should talk to some people who do science for a living. Ask them if they would rather have billions of dollars, or discover a fundamental law of nature. Or consider this: somewhere around 80% of scientists (or maybe physicists) believe in global warming, even though they don't study climate science. Why? Because they understand science and how scientists think.

    I am sure that there are many scientists out there who are just trying to help their careers. But that vast majority of scientists would rather lose their job than publish dishonest work. To suggest that being a scientist is just like running a McDonalds proves that you have no idea what science is all about.
  • Re:More on sinks (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Yartrebo (690383) on Monday October 11, 2004 @08:09AM (#10492254)
    Nonsense, of course. We know that humans have slightly increased CO2 levels in the atmosphere, but hard evidence linking that to temperature rises is minimal.

    First, there is plenty of hard evidence. Thermometers around the world, satellite data, and much soft evidence like receding glaciers and retreating sea ice points quite clearly to global warming being real.

    Second, the theory is quite sound. CO2 pushes the energy budget of Earth up. Less energy out means Earth has to heat up.

    "scientists who say otherwise are hired by special interest groups or oil companies"

    You are parodying the lefties here and not being serious, I presume? That is, making fun of the fact that most scientists who claim that 'global warming' is a threat are being paid by governments to do 'global warming' research and would be out of a job if they didn't keep claiming that it's a big threat?


    Well, it's true. Most 'scientists' who are outspoken against there being global warming are paid by industry. Other scientists either believe that there is global warming, or are not informed on the subject and have no strong opinion.

    As far as government hiring goes, my government (USA) tends to fire scientists with outspoken views in favor of global warming.

    'Global Warming' is a multi-billion dollar a year industry around the world: if you wouldn't believe McDonalds if they said that their meals are good for you, why would you believe the global warming industry?

    Pollution and CO2 generation (essentially all heavy industry and transportation, along with the fossil fuel industries) are a multi-trillion dollar a year industry, and you could be more specific in terms what is the 'global warming' industry.
  • Re:More on sinks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 11, 2004 @08:19AM (#10492328)
    "We know that humans have slightly increased CO2 levels in the atmosphere, but hard evidence linking that to temperature rises is minimal."

    This is insightful?
    There's hardly any argument in this statement.

    As a climatologist researching on global climate models, I can say, with the risk of losing my job, that global warming due to CO2 gases are definitly happening.

    And almost all the climate models in the world will agree with me. Take a look at the Climate model inter-comparison project overview [jussieu.fr], especially Figure 20. That's a simulation for both the present state of the climate AND the future.

    Given the limitations of computer models, the numbers may not be accurate yet, but we are very much sure that this trend is happening RIGHT NOW.
  • Re:More on sinks (Score:2, Insightful)

    by MrHanky (141717) on Monday October 11, 2004 @08:23AM (#10492358) Homepage Journal
    There is a fundamental difference here, though. Climate and weather research would go on even if there was no possibility of global warming due to burning of fossil fuels. Because it is important. "Independent" think tanks and research centers that need corporate funding, needs to do research that can be used by the corporations funding them, though.

    Governments also fund research in comparative literature, philosophy, theatre history and other studies that do just fine without any looming threat of global destruction.
  • by Illserve (56215) on Monday October 11, 2004 @08:23AM (#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.
  • Re:More on sinks (Score:2, Insightful)

    by asuffield (111848) <asuffield@suffields.me.uk> on Monday October 11, 2004 @08:24AM (#10492369)
    We know that humans have slightly increased CO2 levels in the atmosphere

    Actually, we don't. We do not have an accurate record of what 'normal' CO2 levels are, so we cannot even say *if* CO2 levels have increased.

    The global warming pundits insist that they must ordinarily be constant. That's fairly unlikely; there appear (in the small amount of data we have collected over the past few decades) to be complicated cycles at work. We do not understand those cycles. Therefore we cannot claim to have altered them.
  • Re:More on sinks (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JCMay (158033) <JeffMayNO@SPAMearthlink.net> on Monday October 11, 2004 @08:29AM (#10492401) Homepage

    The main problem is that if the tipping point has been reached, then the first time you might get your 'hard evidence' is the entire population of Florida migrating north.


    Tipping point? Proof, please?

    Look, just because we had a three- or four-sigma year [floridatoday.com] doesn't mean that it's the end of the world. Has anyone around here taken statistics? I would think that the crowd around here would be better educated.

    The language of the article indicates that it's a sham: atmospheric CO2 levels jumped 4 PPM? Four Parts Per Million? First of all, they don't mention what the level was before. Is 4PPM isn't a large number. From a table I found through Google [ornl.gov], 4 PPM would be a normal monthly swing.

    This is just like the TV news reporting that "unemployment claims skyrocketed 1% this past month." Attaching such emotional language to tiny numbers illustrates their political bent.
  • by dangineer (687802) on Monday October 11, 2004 @08:29AM (#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.
  • Re:More on sinks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DZign (200479) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {ehreva}> on Monday October 11, 2004 @08:31AM (#10492425) Homepage
    Scientists are different. You don't go into science to make money, or to get power. You go into science because you have a fundamental desire to understand the truth about the world we live in.

    That's true. That's why you get into science.

    But then you're graduated and you are a scientist.
    Only a few scientists can stay at university, the others will work for a company.. and then it's the company and the business-people who decide what direction your research goes.
  • Re:More on sinks (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DarkSarin (651985) on Monday October 11, 2004 @08:32AM (#10492437) Homepage Journal
    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 tenet of statistical based research.

    Another important fact to remember is that we simply don't have the data over a long enough period to know if the current trend is abnormal, or if it is a cycle that repeats itself every so often.

    Am I willing to dismiss, without any evidence, the possibility of global warming? Do I think that companies shouldn't be very careful? Do I think that companies should be allowed to run rampant and throw unlimited amounts of contaminants into the air? Absolutely not, on all counts. I think we should be careful.

    That said, I do think that there is an OTHER side. One that is willing to learn and take measured, cautious action on this front, but isn't going to go nuts and react too quickly.

  • Re:More on sinks (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 11, 2004 @08:35AM (#10492463)
    He didn't demonize anyone. He just said global warming denialists are stupid at best and dishonest at worst.
  • Re:Probably... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Red Rocket (473003) on Monday October 11, 2004 @08:38AM (#10492485)

    Seriously, isn't it time people realised that environmental studies is still a discipline in its infancy, and political action taken on the basis of a young science is irresponsible ?

    Get with the program, dude. ALL our science is in its infancy. Environmental science is no different than any other science. There is uncertainty involved and if you're not comfortable with uncertainty then you're not likely to be able to understand and evaluate the value of scientific study. What you're arguing is for the elimination of science as a basis for the deployment of policy. That leaves us with only faith to go by. I prefer to use uncertain science as a basis for policy rather than certain faith.
  • by Viol8 (599362) on Monday October 11, 2004 @08:38AM (#10492486)
    "assuming that their choice of car can affect anything so massive as a planet."

    Don't act dumb. Plain logic dictates that while 1 persons choice of car affects very little , the choice of 6 BILLION people does! Ok , say only 500 million actually own a car , thats still a LOT of cars. So put the one-person-can't-make-a-difference argument to bed , its so old and decrepit I almost feel sorry for it.

    "At most, we could wipe *ourselves* out,"

    That may be thse case , but thats hardly something to sit back and relax about.
  • by jonathanbutz (721096) on Monday October 11, 2004 @08:44AM (#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 Analogy Man (601298) on Monday October 11, 2004 @08:47AM (#10492569)
    Get those people fed and industrialized, and they'll stop cutting down their own forests

    True...and a noble gesture at that...but they will also want to live in bigger houses, drive automobiles, have more stuff, use more energy etc. We Americans use energy and natural resources at a much higher rate than subsistance farmers cutting down trees. Deforestation is a huge issue, but transforming a resource extraction economy for an industrial one does not necessarily have a net decrease in impact.

  • Re:More Evidence (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 11, 2004 @08:47AM (#10492575)
    >> How much more evidence do we need before we start to do something about this problem?

    A little more. I have been reading on the subject for a while now and I am still a little confused. First, wait for more scientists to way in on this current finding before you go off on global warming. As for the current "evidence", I would like it if someone could answer the next few questions:

    What effect does solar activity have on our climate? I have seen reports saying that solar activity accounts for between 4% and 70% of the global climate changes. I can't really believe the 4% (seems to low considering my understanding of the solar system), but has anyone come up with a definitive answer to this question? My guess is no.

    What about the difference between the atmospheric temperature and the surface temperature? I'm sure this has been answered, but I haven't found the study. A link would be appreciated.

    What role does cloud cover have to play? I have seen one paper on that subject, but I was a little confused by it;)

    Now, the social questions:

    Why do people insist on viewing the Earth as a stable planet? If you look at the climatic and geological history of the planet, you would see that, if anything, chaos is the norm. These warming trends that people study? Not significant when viewed in the context of the history of the planet. (And this could also be related to increased solar activity during the same period of time...)

    Why do the proponents of the global warming theory always call scientists that disagree with global warming greedy? Do all scientists that support global warming do so out of the kindness of their hearts? Or could their research also be bought by special interests?

    Now, I'm not saying that we should go and forget about the global warming thory altogether. What I am saying is that rather than moan about the stupidity of the population and how wasteful people are, start learning about alternative sources of energy (both pros and cons) and try to contribute. Not to an environmental outfit(who seem to enjoy angry rhetoric rather than advancing arguments) , but to scientific research groups that are actually working on solutions that YOU think are viable.
  • Re:More on sinks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GooberToo (74388) on Monday October 11, 2004 @08:49AM (#10492589)
    First, there is plenty of hard evidence. Thermometers around the world, satellite data, and much soft evidence like receding glaciers and retreating sea ice points quite clearly to global warming being real.

    This is exactly right. Those that say global warming doesn't exist, is living, 100% in a fantasy world. AFAIK, the only question is, is global warming part of a cyclical trend, directly caused by human efforts, or both?

    There is certainly some trending which indicates that human's are part of the "cycle". The only question is, are human causing the trend to be above what the "normal" cycle would normally be.

    Second, the theory is quite sound. CO2 pushes the energy budget of Earth up. Less energy out means Earth has to heat up.

    I personally believe that humans are pushing the trend above the bell curve. Simple fact is, the theory is well supported by physics, as we understand it, and we are able to make observations which support our level of understanding. To me, the only question which remains, how far off the curve are we? And, will the departure be enough to matter in the long run? Those questions, IMO, are the really tough questions to answer. Frankly, I'm not sure we have the ability to answer it unless the environment makes a huge swing, for good or bad.

    'global warming' industry

    It seems, he considers basic science to be part of that budget. I agree with you, that his numbers appear to be completely baseless.

  • Re:More on sinks (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Matrix272 (581458) on Monday October 11, 2004 @08:49AM (#10492590)
    First, there is plenty of hard evidence. Thermometers around the world, satellite data, and much soft evidence like receding glaciers and retreating sea ice points quite clearly to global warming being real.

    I find that in particular hard to believe. I don't know what kind of thermometer you have, but the last few years where I live (Pennsylvania, USA) have been much colder than usual. In fact, it's been a running joke around here. Whenever someone mentions how cold it is, inevitably, someone says "Yeah, must be that Global Warming."

    In fact, we're on track to beat a record for the number of days without seeing a 100+ degree day in summer. It's been at least 2 years now, and we definitely won't see it for another year at least. It used to be at least once a year that we'd see a few days that hit 100+ degrees.

    Second, the theory is quite sound. CO2 pushes the energy budget of Earth up. Less energy out means Earth has to heat up.

    IANAS, but doesn't less energy mean that the Earth will cool down? If I run my laptop with half a battery, it won't run hotter... in fact, after a long enough period, it'll cool down quite a bit.

    If you accept that the average temperature around the world is rising (which I do not yet), would you suppose it has nothing at all to do with sunspots or solar flares? Is the fact that the solar activity has increased greatly in the last few decades of no consequence? Have you taken into account the previous thousand years, and worked the reported data into your algorithms to see if modern industry is truly the culprit? Have any of these possible explanations been tested and studied?

  • Re:More on sinks (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Monday October 11, 2004 @08:49AM (#10492592) Homepage Journal
    [sigh] Sometimes, you know, the other side is just wrong, or lying, and pointing this out does not constitute demonization. The idea that we should always be "balanced" when it comes to arguments of political import leads to a lot of bullshit getting consideration it doesn't deserve. Global warming deniers at this point are in the same class as creationists, Holocaust-deniers, and flat-earthers -- it's not that they're being dismissed out of hand, it's that their arguments have been proven wrong time and time again, to the point that there's really no point in continuing the argument, and yet they just keep going.
  • Re:More on sinks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GigsVT (208848) on Monday October 11, 2004 @08:52AM (#10492613) Journal
    I agree that sometimes the other side is wrong or lying. Sometimes the other side might take a correlation, and somehow transmute that into a causation. You must be vigilant in watching for such junk science, especially if the other side claims that there's no point in even evaluating the criticism against their claims.
  • by Tek Tekson (601577) on Monday October 11, 2004 @08:53AM (#10492628)
    Well even if we are really lucky and there is no relationship between climate change and pollution, we should still back off on the pollution.

    It's just common sense. Don't shit where you eat, right?

    This trend toward polarizing and over-simplifying every issue is really lame. I find it really scary when I see people validating their outrageous consumption levels with arguments like "global warming isn't real". Climate change is just one of many symptoms of industry's impact on this planet that anyone who is paying attention would notice.

    Lets find ways to reduce waste soon. Everyone agreed? This is one of those things where "every little bit" does count and there is lots that you and me and the guy next door can do to effect real change. IMO anyone who won't even TRY to reduce their waste is a selfish moron.
  • Re:More on sinks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by stevelinton (4044) <sal@dcs.st-and.ac.uk> on Monday October 11, 2004 @08:54AM (#10492633) Homepage
    Oh go away! Climate research would carry on whether human CO2 releases are found to be warming the planet or not.

    As one example among many, the US National Academy of Sciences, whose leaders have all the grant money they could ask for already, and everything to lose in terms of reputation if they distort their science for any reason at all were asked by the Bush administration to take a skeptical look at global warming. Given the administrations attitude, they could clearly have pleased their lords and masters and perpetuated their influence and funding by reporting that there was no problem, but they did not! They concluded in a detailed study, after considering a huge range of alternatives that the evidence strongly favoured human releases of CO2 as a major cause of the warming which is being observed.

    If we don't believe climatologists, who should we believe? oil companies? Ford?
  • Re:More on sinks (Score:3, Insightful)

    by 10Ghz (453478) on Monday October 11, 2004 @08:55AM (#10492636)
    First, there is plenty of hard evidence. Thermometers around the world, satellite data, and much soft evidence like receding glaciers and retreating sea ice points quite clearly to global warming being real.


    Few points:
    a) Is the warming caused by humans? And not by the sun for example?
    b) Did you know that we are still recovering from the previous ice-age? And that means (naturally) that temperature rises towards the "normal" temperature.
    c) They showed a documentary here few weeks ago about global warming. After studying the glaciers in Sweden, they noticed that they haven't got any smaller. Sure, the size does change a bit every year, but they have been more or less stable in the big picture.
    d) They also showed that while temperature has risen a bit in urban areas, there has been no rise in the wilderness
    e) IIRC the satellite-readouts showed that the Earth is getting cooler, not warmer. But then again, my data is from few years back
  • Re:More on sinks (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Snocone (158524) on Monday October 11, 2004 @09:02AM (#10492690) Homepage
    I have always had a hard time understanding how anyone can dismess global warming, considering that 95% of the climate scientists agree that global warming is real.

    Well, for starters, we happen to be in an unusually cold period right now by geological standards; for over 70% of the lifespan of the planet, geology tells us, there have been no icecaps at either pole, and there's a wide consensus that we are actually in an interglacial period right now, which could go back to a full on Ice Age, or back to the more accustomed steambath. So, given that; if things are getting warmer, it's a lot more plausible to figure that climate is just reverting to geological norms than that there's anything significant humans are doing or can do to affect it. The sunspot activity data over recorded history sure seems a hell of a lot more compelling proof that our climate depends directly on the Sun's activity than it does on anything that humans do or don't do. But it's a lot harder to indulge your anti-capitalist prejudices if the problem is sunspots, so the fear-mongering types do their ignore any astronomical contributions to the global warming debate, and actively supress funding for that line of inquiry if they can. However, if the sunspot theorists are right, there should be a slight cooling over the next couple of years and a marked cooling by 2012 or so, so if that happens and their models are the only ones that explain it, well it won't matter at that point what anyone's politics are, I imagine.

    On a more philosophical level; you little kiddies may be easy to work up about the sky falling, but us grizzled oldies remember the 70s when that same 95% of climate scientists, using the same data, assured us that a new Ice Age was just about to engulf us all and we had to panic to deal with *that* threat. So when we hear that everything's flipped 180 and now there's a 95% consensus around the exact opposite position, although the data hasn't changed; well, fool me once, and all that...
  • Re:More on sinks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gmknobl (669948) on Monday October 11, 2004 @09:05AM (#10492715) Journal
    No, I don't think you've done your research. And I am educated enough to tell you 4PPM is big in this instance.

    See, it's not that it's a small amount in our eyes. What is small differs greatly from one area of science to another. Some chemicals, if put into your system will be enough to give you cancer. Some, breathed in over the course of a few months, say by being in the atmostphere you have in your office, will make you sick and if you keep going back to the office will kill your at worst or cause permanent damage to your system.

    Now, given that fact, is 4PPM small and insignificant. No. It's large and it's bad in those instances. So what makes you so sure 4PPM is insignificant here?

    The people that are saying that this is nothing to worry about or okay or even that we are in a minor perturbation (sp?) not a true warming event are 1% of the scientists out there. Plus, I have not heard from one who isn't a paid spokesman for the oil industry in one way or another. And given big industries vested self interest in making us think everything is okay - these "scientists" are not to be trusted. You need independant, real scientists, and you won't find them saying we don't have a problem.
  • Re:More on sinks (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mrseth (69273) on Monday October 11, 2004 @09:06AM (#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.

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

    by Dr. Evil (3501) on Monday October 11, 2004 @09:07AM (#10492733)

    Of those who work for companies, most don't work as scientists, and of those that do, most don't work on research which the general public would find remotely interesting... like studying abrasion and powder formation on Cheerios.

    A handful, a scant tiny handful might be pulled to be given 6 figure salaries to run long studies countering univeristy and government sponsored research, so as to fortify their company's position in the marketplace. Their agenda is clear, and they're not working as scientists, they're spreading jibberish and they're being paid well to counter the damage to their reputation... but... These might be the scientists which would rather create media circuses and travel the world spreading lies than hanging out in a lab devising new ways to abrade breakfast cereals.

    I'm just saying that even if the majority of scientists are in corporate back pockets, it's no worse than the fact that most of the working population is in the back pocket of one corporation or another... we don't all feel such undying corporate loyalty as to irrationally defend our company's policies.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 11, 2004 @09:08AM (#10492746)
    First, over 95% of the greenhouse effect is due to water vapor - not greenhouse gasses. While Carbon Dioxide is the largest contributor to the greenhouse gasses that make up the rest of the greenhouse effect, the human contribution to this is estimated somewhere between 0.2% and 0.3%. The impact of the Kyoto Protocol will have only about a 0.04% effect on the total greenhouse effect. Natural changes are much more significant.

    Furthermore, the greenhouse effect is only one minor factor in the global warming equation. Bigger factors are due to precession and eccentricity of the Earth's orbit, changes in axis tilt, plate tectonics, and solar fluctuations. Global warming periods are a normal "feature" of our planet's life cycle, as are ice ages. If you want to have a real impact on global temperatures, you probably need to do something about that pesky gravity that's really causing all this havoc.

    However, before you run off and stop global warming, you might want to reconsider. The Earth is about 5 thousand years overdue for it's next ice age...

    Finally, realize that one man's science is another man's bunk. While it is true that many scientists are measuring increases in global temperatures, you should understand that this is based on a sampling methodology where temperatures are measured at various "accessible" sites, but not uniformly around the globe. An alternate scientific method uses satellite thermal imaging to measure the overall global temperature trends. Satellite measurements show that we are actually in a cooling trend. Who's science do you choose to believe???

    There's a lot of good reasons to cut fossil fuel consumption, but global warming is probably not one of them. Plus, whether we are headed for a roast or the big chill, there's very little that we can do about it... In the immortal words of Douglas Adams... "Don't Panic!"
  • Re:More on sinks (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Urkki (668283) on Monday October 11, 2004 @09:10AM (#10492766)
    • The global warming pundits insist that they must ordinarily be constant. That's fairly unlikely; there appear (in the small amount of data we have collected over the past few decades) to be complicated cycles at work. We do not understand those cycles. Therefore we cannot claim to have altered them.

    Uhum. We're digging and pumping carbon (oil and coal) out of the ground all the time and dumping most of it into the atmosphere. Do you disagree with this "claim" (more like an observation)?

    If you claim that this does not affect CO2 levels of our atmosphere, I'd like to hear some reasoning and explanation... Where does the carbon we burn go then, if it doesn't increase CO2 levels in the atmosphere?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 11, 2004 @09:12AM (#10492777)
    But I guess when that's all you have left to fight with, it's what you use.
  • by Derling Whirvish (636322) on Monday October 11, 2004 @09:16AM (#10492808) Journal
    That's a very interesting chart [daviesand.com]. It clearly shows each rise in global temperature levels *precedes* the rise in CO2 levels. It also shows wild swings in CO2 and temperature levels over the eons -- clearly not human-related -- prior to the latest levels. It also shows all human progess in civilization occurred during the latest very high temperature levels.
  • Re:More on sinks (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 11, 2004 @09:16AM (#10492813)
    The Earth has survived, yes. The Earth will survive whatever happens. That isn't the problem.

    It's us susrviving that's the point in question.
  • by CJF (36940) on Monday October 11, 2004 @09:17AM (#10492817)
    > 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?.

    It has been tried recently. Despite what lab results may suggest, it turns out that in reality, adding iron salts to the sea removes less CO2 than is generated by the ship that is used to transport it... doesn't sound like a viable solution to me.

    > Why are environmentalist opposed to a scientific solution?

    Because they may in turn also have unexpected and undesirable consequences themselves, or indeed carry a risk that they may make things worse in the long run?

    E.g. we could bury liquified CO2 in the oceans or in deep mines, as some oil executives suggest, only for it all to bubble up in a few decades time as the temperature rises, or because of natural landslips, leading to local suffocations and dramatic increases in global temperatures. (There are precedents with natural, underwater C02 and methane deposits in lakes in Africa, where entire towns and villages have been suffocated as a result.)

    If your boat springs a leak, you fix it, you don't just install a bigger bilge pump.
  • Re:More on sinks (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mark2003 (632879) on Monday October 11, 2004 @09:26AM (#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...
  • Re:More on sinks (Score:4, Insightful)

    by R.Caley (126968) on Monday October 11, 2004 @09:29AM (#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.

  • by Avumede (111087) on Monday October 11, 2004 @09:29AM (#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?
  • Re:More on sinks (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 11, 2004 @09:30AM (#10492954)
    Yeah, well we've proven that CO2 causes a greenhouse effect, and that our carbon sinks aren't soaking it up as fast as we pull it out of the earth and burn it.

    It isn't that much of a leap of faith to forsee what the next stage will be, just as it isn't a leap of faith to go some place devoid of hills (like the ocean), and see that the horizon ends about 26 miles away no matter where you are, and then base an idea that the world is round on that fact, just like the greeks did ~5,000 years ago, just to have a bunch of goddamned christians to burn your libraries down, and contribute that much more to global warming.

    'Fo shizzlee.
  • Re:More on sinks (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Matrix272 (581458) on Monday October 11, 2004 @09:30AM (#10492957)
    We may not have an accurate record, but we can say that CO2 levels have increased over the past decades. How could they not?

    Little trivia fact for the global warming pundits: There are more trees in North America now than there were in 1970. It's true.

    (For the less-intuitive of you, here's a very brief explanation.) Humans inhale oxygen and exhale CO2. Yet global warming people don't advocate killing everyone in China and India, which would reduce human exhalation of CO2 levels by nearly 40%. Now here's where the trivia fact comes in. Trees "inhale" CO2 and "exhale" oxygen.

    We've come up with many many ways to pump out more of it, and we weren't doing that a few hundred years ago.

    I would expect you to provide some evidence showing CO2 levels and the average global temperature from a few hundred years ago. I think going back 1000 years should be sufficient for this exercise. Most experts agree that the average global temperature was higher in the middle-ages than it is now... except those experts who don't like to talk about things like that.

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

    by Dr. Evil (3501) on Monday October 11, 2004 @09:34AM (#10492988)

    Tipping point? Proof, please?

    Do you want proof that the tipping point exists? Do you want proof that the tipping point is a problem? Do you want proof that the tipping point has been reached? Do you want proof that the problem is imminent? Do you want proof that no other affect will appear which counteracts the tipping point?

    Or are you just going to change the question until you reach a point where science is forced to answer "we don't have the data", and raise your finger, proclaiming "a-ha! so this is an emotional argument!"

    The bottom line is that there is a proponderance of evidence that the vast change in industry and global human activity has impacted our environment. Lakes are poluted, the oceans are polluted, even harmful chemicals are spreading through the arctic. Species are dying, there is no question that these things are real. The only question is... what is going to happen?

    There is a personal ethical decision one must make to determine if these things are important to you. I think it is a legitimate decision for a person to say "hey, this is the world I live in, you're talking me destroying a world I won't be living in. I can't say it is important to me."

    Now science doesn't have a full handle on what is going to happen. Humanity hasn't destroyed a planet before, so it is tough to tell how bad things might be. We should however, err on the side of caution. If we care about the world we leave behind, we should only be as damaging to the environment as the best of science says we can afford to be be.

    Finally, if the majority of humanity feels that the environment is important, then to preserve their interests (the planet), regulations must be established to prevent those who do not share their interests from attaining immense profits from destructively exploiting the planet.

    So as long as the scientists are out for debate on global warming, the government should treat it as seriously as if it were real... whether it is real or not.

    If you don't care, and again, I think that is a legitimate position, you should not be refuting the science and pretending that it is in the best interest of those who do care, but you should simply state "I don't care!"

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 11, 2004 @09:36AM (#10493001)
    Geological evidense shows that most of the life on the planet is dead.

    Do we join them early?
  • Re:More on sinks (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 11, 2004 @09:38AM (#10493018)
    By the same logic, you also cannot claim that we have NOT altered them. And in this case, I would rather err on the side of caution.
  • Re:More on sinks (Score:4, Insightful)

    by teromajusa (445906) on Monday October 11, 2004 @09:43AM (#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.
  • by HangingChad (677530) on Monday October 11, 2004 @09:46AM (#10493086) Homepage
    Tipping point? Proof, please?

    How do you prove a tipping point in a complex system? If you're looking strictly at statistical variations from the norm in a complex system the variations in any one element prior to calmity can be quite small initially. It's a little like trying to predict the butterfly effect.

    I certainly wouldn't be so quick to dismiss a 4 ppm increase as insignificant because it falls within the range of monthly variations. If that turns out to be a sustainable average increase the previous author's suggestion that our first real indication of trouble could be plans to relocate Miami are not inconceivable.

    I'd also remind you that it wasn't that long ago that the suggestion of the scientifically valid possibility that the Earth could experience an extinction event caused by a giant rock falling out of the sky would have not only been ridiculed by their fellow scientists, but the author might well have been burned as a heretic.

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

    by jd (1658) <<moc.oohay> <ta> <kapimi>> on Monday October 11, 2004 @10:09AM (#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?

  • The Guardian (Score:5, Insightful)

    by peterpi (585134) on Monday October 11, 2004 @10:10AM (#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.

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

    by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Monday October 11, 2004 @10:14AM (#10493306) Homepage Journal

    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.

    By the time this process makes the world a substantially more dangerous place to live these people and their children will both be dead. Their stockholders don't pay them to care, and they personally have no real interest in it - protecting the environment doesn't make them any money - so why should they care? I mean, I understand why they should care, but from a purely selfish standpoint there's really no reason.

  • Looting? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Azureflare (645778) on Monday October 11, 2004 @10:18AM (#10493340)
    This is not something to joke about. Sure, you may think they are doing a lot of handwaving, but my impression is that they are saying this is very unusual and we need to study it. They don't know anything about it because they've never seen it before.

    Unlike you and many of the American population who demonize science and those who follow it, I trust these scientists to follow the scientific method and monitor the situation of the world.

    This is not a joking issue. This is serious. It is not an issue where we should be panicking and running around like chickens with their heads cut off. This needs reasoned thought and we need to listen to the people who are capable of it.

    Sadly, most of the population of the United States is incapable of calm reasoning and sound logic (ha, when was the last time that was taught in public schools?)

    Just because it tells you something you don't want to believe doesn't make it untrue, or unimportant.

    I still find it amazing that science has gone from being worshipped in the '50s to being demonized in the 21st century. It's cool to be the bully, but not to be the geek...

    P.S. The Day After Tomorrow was a total flop and no amount of handwaving is going to get people to buy it.

  • Oh puh-lease (Score:2, Insightful)

    by windermere (820972) on Monday October 11, 2004 @10:36AM (#10493521)
    4 years of a dazzlingly stupid drunkard (okay, I know he's just stupid, but he seems drunk) at the helm of the world's largest polluting country, arrogant flouting of the Kyoto protocol... who can honestly be surprised that we've seen a leap in CO2 levels!
  • Re:More on sinks (Score:3, Insightful)

    by letxa2000 (215841) on Monday October 11, 2004 @10:37AM (#10493541)
    A question: Why is that anyone that disagrees with the theory of human-induced global warming is automatically being paid by someone while alarmists based on junk science are assumed to be as pure as the white-driven snow?

    Come on guys, your liberalism is showing.

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

    by rjh (40933) <rjh@sixdemonbag.org> on Monday October 11, 2004 @10:46AM (#10493643)
    Either that, or else the global-warming advocates are consistently misrepresenting and/or demonizing the careful, considered objections the "anti-global-warmers". Me, for instance. Do I believe global warming exists? Sure I do. Am I in favor of Kyoto? Hell, no.

    Even its proponents agree that it would only delay global warming by a handful of months, at a cost of trillions of dollars. Kyoto opponents, such as myself, are generally not opposed to fighting global warming: we're opposed to fighting it in silly non-cost-effective means which are more public relations than results. For a trillion dollars, I'd far rather see Kyoto abandoned and a thousand coal plants converted to nuclear. Think about those carbon savings for a moment--uff da!

    On the other hand, do you know how often "global-warming advocates" have heard my alternative to Kyoto, given it consideration, and responded intelligently? Zero. All they hear is I'm anti-Kyoto, and suddenly I'm a crackpot neocon. (I'm neither.)

    You're right that "sometimes, you know, the other side is just wrong, or lying, and pointing this out does not constitute demonization."

    On the other hand, sometimes the side that's just wrong is your side, when you state what the other person's perspective is.

  • by amper (33785) on Monday October 11, 2004 @10:50AM (#10493686) Journal
    Is that no one who seems to be speaking out about the rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and the possible effects on the "global warming" phenomenon seems to think about the issue in a truly critical manner.

    For one thing, I personally don't believe that the rising concentration of carbon dioxide is really having all that much effect. I think the CO2 issue is merely a symptom of what is actually causing the average temperature to rise.

    Here's the kicker--why is it that no one really seems to be talking about all the waste heat that the human species tosses into the environment as a direct result of our ever-increasing consumption of energy in all its forms?

    The Kyoto Treaty was *not* the answer. That's why the US effectively pulled out. No long term solution to global warming can be effective if the rapidly expaning economies of countries like China and India do not accept the same committments we do. Yes, right now the US consumes more. That will not be true for very much longer. While the US does, indeed, need to reduce it's per capita consumption, we all need to make sure that no other country ever even approaches current US levels of consumption. This, of course, does not sit well with developing nations, but perhaps they should be more concerned about learning lessons from American failures than trying to duplicate American excesses.

    Look, a modern Hummer engine puts out less emissions than much smaller engines of yesteryear. But it still produces an amazing amount of waste heat!

    We cannot ignore this issue any longer. The only answer is, we need to stop using so much damned energy!

    Yes, right now, the US is the biggest problem--and the US's problem will be particularly difficult to solve, given the profligate nature of most US citizens. It is sad to see that in a time when the US needs the help of the global community the most, the Bush Administration has chosen to erode our moral position even further by squandering much of the trust we have been able to build in the world.

    None of this is to say that carbon dioxide does not contribute to global warming by trapping heat in the environment--but CO2 is not a source of heat, and the environment's ability to cope with increased levels of CO2 is very great. The real problem is that we've created a positive feedback loop here--more energy consumption causes more heat and more CO2, more CO2 helps trap more heat, especially from a heat source which we cannot control. Reducing consumption *will* reduce CO2. Reducing CO2 without reducing consumption will not have enough of an effect to matter.

    Technology cannot solve this problem. Conservation is the only answer.

    PS: I apologize for my lack of ability to produce a subscript...but there's only so many times I can type "carbon dioxide" without getting bored, and you know what I mean...
    .
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 11, 2004 @10:51AM (#10493701)
    This is not the only place were CO2 levels are shown to rapidly increase. Just do a literature search or check the links others have given here for CO2 trapped in ice-layers. Pretty reliable data. I've been measuring background CO2 concentration now and then last 4 years, and I know from recorded data from people who worked here before me that 20 years ago, the levels around here were at least 20 ppm lower.

    Ofcourse, in the past levels have been high as well (according to the ice records). But the rapid increase of today is unprecedented. in addition, I do not care so much that the dinosaurs had a very hot climate and lots of CO2 around. They were well adapted to live in such an environment...I do care about the climate in which my childeren have to grow up in.

    Also don't forget that it is not the warmth per se that you have to be afraid of. It is the whole environment that is affected by CO2 and temperature.
    Some plants will not grow anymore where they used to do, cause of different temperature/humidity levels. And the yield of plants doesn't always increase under high CO2. This could have very bad effects on our food industry.

    Many pathogens thrive at hotter temperatures. Malaria and other nasty things could become common in north america and europe. But then, maybe we finally are concerned enough to find a suitable cure for those things if it starts borthering the rich.
  • by EmagGeek (574360) <gterich@@@aol...com> on Monday October 11, 2004 @10:53AM (#10493720) Journal
    Uhh, wouldn't the scientifically responsible thing to do before publishing this fearmongering tripe have been to go MEASURE the CO2 in the ocean to see if indeed it has absorbed as much as it can?

    Here's what is likely causing the increase in CO2:

    1) China is consuming oil and burning it as fast as they possibly can.
    2) The world economy is picking up, which naturally causes the world to need more energy, which it gets most of from burning fossil fuels
    3) Massive wildfires have contributed massive amounts of CO2, albeit temporarily, while at the same time reducing the amount of plant life to absorb it. (this will negate itself when the plants grow back)

    All of these have happened in the last two years, especially #1, that could easily explain a quick spike in CO2 levels. Scientists are not supposed to jump to conclusions.

    Speaking of reliable measuring points, FTFA:

    "Measurements of CO2 in the atmosphere have been continuous for almost 50 years at Mauna Loa Observatory, 12,000ft up a mountain in Hawaii, regarded as far enough away from any carbon dioxide source to be a reliable measuring point. "

    Uhhh, isn't a volcano a huge source of CO2? It's there an active volcano somewhere in hawaii? Did they look at any possible shifts in the prevailing winds that might bring in CO2 from another source?

    Also FTFA:

    "It is possible that this is merely a reflection of natural events like previous peaks in the rate, but it is also possible that it is the beginning of a natural process unprecedented in the record."

    Uhhh, isn't this a completely speculative non-statement? It's also possible that aliens have dropped a CO2 bomb somewhere on the planet in order to suffocate us and take over. It's also possible that monkey are about to fly out of my ass at hypersonic speeds. Of course, part of the scientific process is speculating as to why things happen, but this is just pointed fearmongering.

    "Dr Keeling said since there was no sign of a dramatic increase in the amount of fossil fuels being burnt in 2002 and 2003, the rise "could be a weakening of the Earth's carbon sinks, associated with the world warming, as part of a climate change feedback mechanism. It is a cause for concern'."

    This is a blatant LIE. The price of oil would not be twice what it was 3 years ago if demand had not increased dramatically. As with any economic upturn, energy consumption NECESSARILY increases. Ergo, more fossile fuels MUST be consumed to generate that energy.

    Tom Burke, visiting professor at Imperial College London, and a former special adviser to the former Tory environment minister John Gummer, warned: "We're watching the clock and the clock is beginning to tick faster, like it seems to before a bomb goes off."

    More blatant fearmongering. There is no scientific evidence to support any of the things they are trying to scare you with.

    The article FINALLY starts to make some sense after the point which most modern ADHD people would have stopped reading:

    Measurements of CO2 levels in Australia and at the south pole were slightly lower, he said, so it looked as though something unusual had occurred in the northern hemisphere.

    "My guess is that there were extra forest fires in the northern hemisphere, and particularly a very hot summer in Europe," Dr Cox said. "This led to a die-back in vegetation and an increase in release of carbon from the soil, rather than more growing plants taking carbon out of the atmosphere, which is usually the case in summer."

    Finally some speculation that is direct, and could make sense with the proper research, stating some SPECIFIC possible causes rather than just "oh this could be very very bad!"

    So, after pages of FUD on "global warming," the article finally closes with a spurt instead of a bang:

    "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."

    well DUH... talk about people just trying to get published somewhere...

    Jeez...
  • Re:Probably... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by StrawberryFrog (67065) on Monday October 11, 2004 @10:54AM (#10493741) Homepage Journal
    political action taken on the basis of a young science is irresponsible ?

    And political inaction on the basis of "well hey, it might not happen" is what exactly?
  • Re:More on sinks (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gfxguy (98788) on Monday October 11, 2004 @11:09AM (#10493935)
    The question is if stopping all of our CO2 emissions will have the desired effect. It's certainly not helping, but the question is, and always has been, exactly how much is it hurting?

    I'm in the camp that realizes and understands this, but also realizes and understands that everything on the planet is, and always has been, cyclical - how many ice ages does it take to drive that point home? I know it's warmer than it used to be - the pilgrims to America had horrible winters to deal with - it's not just that they didn't have proper clothing and housing, they REALLY did have harsher, colder winters... but things changed long before our CO2 emissions increased, and they'll continue to change even if we stopped it completely.
  • Re:More on sinks (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mefus (34481) on Monday October 11, 2004 @11:10AM (#10493938) Journal
    Last time I checked, not a whole lot has been PROVEN about global warming.

    Both the CO2 levels and average temperature are rising. That's a priori knowledge beyond dispute.

    You are laboring under some misapprehension. Global warming is a reality. There is a small cadre of pseudo-scientists (they are working outside their domain of knowledge in an area of science which is notoriously inaccessible) in the pay of the big polluters that are casting about for any indication it may not be caused by human activities. And the refutation of their so-called analyses are done in the scientific community and the scientific community lays the controversy to rest. Unfortunately, the "skeptics" have chosen a public forum to air their notions, and that's all their masters really wanted: a way to influence public policy comprising an end run around the experts and their inconvenient opinions.
  • Re:More on sinks (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gadget junkie (618542) <gbponz@libero.it> on Monday October 11, 2004 @11:22AM (#10494084) Journal
    "The idea that we should always be "balanced" when it comes to arguments of political import leads to a lot of bullshit getting consideration it doesn't deserve. Global warming deniers at this point are in the same class as creationists, Holocaust-deniers, and flat-earthers"

    .....oh, dearie me, and I always thought I was a balanced person. Now I am put into the same corner as (sigh) holocaust deniers.
    let me recap: there is at least one person (me) thinking that at the basis of science there is at least a modicum of methods, like Occam's razor, [vub.ac.be].
    Now, the raw data are before our very eyes, and I do not dispute them; but, dear Sir, I dispute their extrapolations in the future, on the grounds that all these so called models do not explain great climate changes of the past, like the maunders minimum [marshall.org] and the other variations of temperature in historical times in which the Impact of human activity was, by today's standards, negligible.
    Now, I can understand the primeval impulse of Man, in the face of things that hurt him and that he doesn't comprehend, to atone and offer sacrifices; after all, we are but a few generations removed from ancestors that made human sacrifices to appease the weather.I do not understand the same behaviour in people that follow a scientific site, in which the ability to deliver balanced reasoning and correct behaviour is defined as "Kharma".

    So who is wrong, or lying: the person who says that today's model are inadequate and require further study, or the person that in the face of exogenous events says :"It is all my fault" and self mutilates, in an unselfish sacrifice to blind and deaf Gods?

    As I said, further study is worthwhile. But remember, in science, it is the true scientist that tries to prove himself wrong. No opposition is required.
  • Re:More on sinks (Score:1, Insightful)

    by BrokenHalo (565198) on Monday October 11, 2004 @11:28AM (#10494130)
    Hmmm... Maybe it's time to dust off that Kyoto protocol that neither the US nor Australian governments could be bothered ratifying.
  • Re:More on sinks (Score:3, Insightful)

    by prisoner-of-enigma (535770) on Monday October 11, 2004 @11:29AM (#10494151) Homepage
    Global warming deniers at this point are in the same class as creationists, Holocaust-deniers, and flat-earthers -- it's not that they're being dismissed out of hand, it's that their arguments have been proven wrong time and time again, to the point that there's really no point in continuing the argument, and yet they just keep going.

    Allow me to interject something here. What you're really arguing is two separate things. First, you're saying the Earth is getting warmer. Second, you're attributing that climate change solely, completely, and unequivocally to human-caused CO2 emissions. While it's easy to argue the former, it is nearly impossible to prove the latter, but that's what you're trying to do here.

    Is the planet getting warmer? Yes, it is. Global reviews agree on this no matter what. But is this change due to humans? Consider, for a moment, that our sun varies its solar output quite a bit over a fairly regular period, heating and cooling the entire planet. As it so happens, the sun *is* warming up a bit right now, so naturally the planet would get a bit warmer. I'll quote from the following website:
    The sunspot or solar cycle does not have the same magnitude every eleven years, however. Entire cycles can have lower activity levels than usual, as during the Maunder Minimum from 1645 to 1700, or the upcoming maximum might have more activity than ever. A look at the sunspot plot for the last two centuries will show the fluctuation in minima and maxima.
    .

    Source: http://www-istp.gsfc.nasa.gov/istp/outreach/solarm ax/learnmain.html

    I think it's safe to say NASA knows a bit more about this solar phenomena than you do. It's also worth noting that these solar cycles do not have predictable magnitudes. It could be that this solar maxima is unusually large. There could also be larger patterns outside of the standard 11-year solar cycle that we do not yet understand about our sun.

    So, not to put too fine a point on it, your insistence on referring to those who disagree with you as "lying" is merely showing your own ignorance in this matter. The bald truth is that nobody is sure why the planet is heating up. CO2 emissions may or may not have anything to do with it, although scientific evidence actually does seem to indicate our CO2 output is far below what is necessary to cause global climactic change (a large volcanic erruption can issue more CO2 than a major industrialized nation, yet we don't see massive climate change after those).

    So, to use your phrase, I plant to "just keep going" in my quest to discover exactly why the planet might be getting warmer. If it is indeed human-caused, I fully support anything that must be done to curtail it. Now is not the time, however, to close one's mind to the scientific process. The scientific community as a whole has not reached consensus over this issue, despite what the one-sided press would have us believe. Right now, there is just not enough data to blame humanity for any kind of global climate alteration. But if more people reacted like you, making up your mind on incomplete facts, supposition, and wild-assed guesses, we could end up doing more harm than good. I strongly urge you to reconsider your close-minded approach to this issue. You are doing nobody any favors by ignoring evidence you simply don't agree with.
  • Continue Reading (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 11, 2004 @11:39AM (#10494291)
    Never never stop reading. Always keep on reading. Always listen to arguments from both sides and evaluate them on their own merits and compare them. Always keep a lookout for new arguments for both sides. This is a quite young area in science, not all rules and formulas are known. And when the formula is known the parameters are not certain, resulting in a wide range of results and predictions. More is known every day, but until we have a solid comprehension of the environment, nobody can speak on the subject with 100% authority.

    This is not a trivial issue. What happens in the others' backyards may come to haunt you. Never stop reading.
  • Re:More on sinks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Firethorn (177587) on Monday October 11, 2004 @11:46AM (#10494399) Homepage Journal
    Let me propose a different reasoning.

    1. longer term temperature measurements, where sombody actually read a thermometer each day (or recorded by a machine) tended to be located in towns and cities. I'm talking more centuries than a couple decades here.
    2. Population centers, because of heating, AC, vehicles and everything else tend to have higher temperatures than undeveloped areas
    3. Over time, these centers have grown on average, making the area where the temperature is being taken more within these locally heated areas.
    4. In the age of industrialization, the average heat produced by humans and their activities has grown. Examples are the deployment of AC, motor vehicles, various electronics.
    5. Even without "human" input, five of the seven climatic models that show global warming show increases in temperature. They have a run-away problem in that they don't eventually stop heating up. A equilibrium point should be reached sometime.


    And as far as measuring radiated heat from satellites, don't they comensate for that?

    -Oh and I'd replace every coal plant with a nuclear one for the pollution savings. I haven't been convinced that carbon dioxide is a problem.
  • Re:More on sinks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mrseth (69273) on Monday October 11, 2004 @11:54AM (#10494507) Homepage
    What did I say that had anything to do with liberalism? I am only speaking to the current lot in power. They want us to all live like a bacteria culture in a petri dish which just grows unchecked until it either dies from drowning in its own waste products or from exhausting all of its resources. I am simply saying that greed is negating rational judgement.

    Perhaps we need to restate the issue in a way that will resonate with greed: I would imagine many a conservative would find it unprofitable if the surface temperature if the Earth was hot enough to melt lead (like on Venus). Until they figure that out, they will continue on their current course.

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

    by mrseth (69273) on Monday October 11, 2004 @12:06PM (#10494654) Homepage
    "That's rich. I've seen more liberals act this way than conservatives."

    Then they're not really Liberals, are they? I can say I am a tuna fish sandwich, but it does not make it true. And let me be very clear, I am not talking about true conservatives. They realize that the Earth is worth conserving. For example, who do you think created the EPA? Real conservatives are much more pragmatic then the modern version. What we call conservatives today are actually radicals. I can only guess that they think they can pollute all they want because Jesus will either come and invoke the rapture or otherwise "fix" the environment via some miracle (yes, I've actually been told this by supposed conservatives).
  • Re:More on sinks (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Wakko Warner (324) * on Monday October 11, 2004 @12:15PM (#10494749) Homepage Journal
    Nuclear? Nuclear has its problems, yes. On the other hand, we know what those problems are; we know how to mitigate those risks; and we know that nuclear scales extraordinarily well. It's a good solution that's available right now, and that's a hell of a lot better than a perfect solution which won't be available/debugged for another twenty years.

    Good. Maybe, once everyone who remembers Three Mile Island is finally dead, we can start using it more. (I volunteer to help expedite the process!) I'm sick and tired of people using it and Chernobyl as their sole, pathetic reason against making further use of nuclear power, stupidly neglecting three decades of technological advances in the field.

    - A.P.
  • Re:More on sinks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Thuktun (221615) on Monday October 11, 2004 @12:22PM (#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?
  • by prisoner-of-enigma (535770) on Monday October 11, 2004 @12:33PM (#10494934) Homepage
    We need to start doing something to reverse the trend or the costs will be catastrophic. The causes don't matter and the facts are indisputable: the Earth is getting warmer and there is more CO2 in the air.

    Using your logic, you could also say "the Earth is getting warmer and there are more humans on Earth than 100 years ago. Therefore, we should kill enough people to put our population numbers back to what they were." You've just arbitrarily chosen CO2 as the linchpin of your argument. You could have just as easily chosen a huge number of other variables, each of which may be just as important or even more important to the overall climate equation. But, hey, doing something is great, right? Sure, let's just make a decision based on incomplete, unsupported findings by a few scientists and disregard the equally-valid counterclaims of other scientists.

    Your mentality in this is alarmingly uninformed, but common these days. It amounts to saying "we don't care what science says, we know what's going on and we're going to do something about it." Try being a bit more humble and you'll see the utter folly of your argument.

    Let me tell you what would happen if everyone suddenly decided to think like you: everyone would focus on CO2 emissions to the exclusion of everything else. Research into possible other causes of global warming would wither and die. If you're wrong, you just made the situation much, much worse by jumping to an unsupportable conclusion.

    There are three possible cases here: CO2 is reponsible for it all, CO2 is partially responsible, or CO2 has little or nothing to do with it. You're taking case #1 and calling everyone else liars. However, with better studies and more exacting information, we can emphatically say that CO2 is or is not the bogeyman we need to be pursuing. I'm not saying we wait forever, but a delay of a decade might give us much more valuable insight into a global climate we know very, very little about.

    If history has shown us anything, it's shown that the more important the decision being made, the more reliable and voluminous the data must be before making that decision. Your thinking would shortcut that entire process. I again urge you to rethink your position on this and consider that science is far from being "done" with the entire question of climate change. This is not the Dark Ages of mysticism, so quit acting like you've got a crystal ball telling you the infallible truth.
  • Re:More on sinks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bigberk (547360) <bigberk@users.pc9.org> on Monday October 11, 2004 @12:52PM (#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:3, Insightful)

    by Mesozoic44 (646282) on Monday October 11, 2004 @01:05PM (#10495263)
    Yep - I agree too. There is an interesting and somewhat chilling (pun intended) article on this by Bruno Latour: Has Critique Run out of Steam? [ensmp.fr]

    Latour writes: "What has become of critique, I wonder, when an editorial in the New York Times contains the following quote? Most scientists believe that [global] warming is caused largely by manmade pollutants that require strict regulation. Mr. Luntz [a Republican strategist] seems to acknowledge as much when he says that "the scientific debate is closing against us." His advice, however, is to emphasize that the evidence is not complete. "Should the public come to believe that the scientific issues are settled," he writes, "their views about global warming will change accordingly. Therefore, you need to continue to make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue." Fancy that? An artificially maintained scientific controversy to favor a "brownlash" as Paul and Anne Ehrlich would say.

    I'm not sure I'd call this the neoconservative mindset - but I don't have a good label for it. Basically it's in some people's interest to make the science appear to be problematic - this isn't just a lazy media habit of having to report both sides.

    The rest of the article is very interesting and deals with the issue of how to look at the social forces on scientists (which is often viewed as attacks on scientists) while promoting and persuing empirically based knowledge.

  • by AaronW (33736) on Monday October 11, 2004 @01:18PM (#10495437) Homepage
    While many agree that nobody is exactly sure what will happen with increased CO2 in the atmosphere, most models predict major problems. Should we wait until someone develops a perfect model, which might not be possible due to limited computing power, or do something about it now. If there's a 50% chance that widespread damage will occur due to global warming (i.e. rising oceans, more hurricanes/tornadoes, stronger weather, more drought, frozen Europe), then doesn't it make a lot of sense to try and limit the damage we cause?

    Bush and others claim huge costs with complying with Kyoto. I don't buy it. Some companies (Du Pont, BP) are already complying and have found that they're saving money because they use less energy. Sure, hybrid vehicles cost a bit more to produce than regular vehicles, but I think the extra efficiency will more than make up for it over the life of the vehicle, especially with the rising cost of oil.

    And using the fact that China doesn't have to comply is just an excuse. If the rest of the world follows Kyoto, it will help encourage China and those who don't to follow. Not only that, it will make the technology they need to comply cheaper.

    I've seen a number of articles about other effects caused by the warming of the oceans. For example, while melting the polar ice cap won't in itself raise the oceans, it will raise the temperature further since ice reflects the sunlight back out into space whereas water absorbs it. A rise in the ocean temperature could cause massive amounts of methane to enter the atmosphere from all the methane hydrides at the ocean floor, and methane is a much bigger greenhouse gas than CO2.

    Ignorance of the full global warming effects is no excuse for inaction when we have enough evidence that serious problems are likely.

    Maybe we should also try and aid Indonesia with putting out their peat bog fires, which are releasing huge amounts of CO2 as a start.

    As it is, today I was contemplating replacing my ancient inefficient refrigerator with a new efficient one. I think I'll go ahead and do it (it helps that Orchard Supply has a tax-free day today when sales tax is 8.75%).

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

    by shawnseat (453587) on Monday October 11, 2004 @01:20PM (#10495468)
    I'm a creationist.

    Sorry to hear that.

    So your saying I'm stupid, that I don't believe in science?

    Assuming these are apposite (i.e., that the comma should be there), I would say you are ignorant, which is a wholly different matter. If they are not apposite (so you meant, "Is it stupid not to believe the results of science?") then yes, you are stupid.

    [W]ho do you think created earth[?]

    Not who but what. Basically gravity (accretion), angular momentum (so most solar bodies rotate in the same sense) and a prior supernova explosion.

    People don't want to admit there is a God so they bury their head in the sand and search for decades for evidence that doesn't exist.

    Over the last four centuries, the things one might plausibly say a god is responsible for have steadily been reduced. At one time, weather was considered the sovereign acrion of the gods, while now we determine days in advance what the weather is likely to be using scientific methods. Although Darwin described descent with modification 145 years ago, gene sequencing is now allowing us to know much more detail about how it actually happened. The greatest triumph of science over religious philosophy in our time, though, has been the revolution of medicine. As late as World War I, medicine was a combination of folklore and religion (look up Dr. Kellogg if you want to see a local maximum of that weirdness). Life expectancy and survival of various maladies has improved breathtakingly during a century of science as compared with (at least) ten millenia of religion.

    Albert Einstein belived that God created the earth, You think he's full of BS too?

    Einstein referred to 'God' at times, but was emphatic that it was impersonal, and most of the time he used it as a synonym of 'the mechanism(s) of the universe.' Einstein was not full of BS (though he was occasionally wrong); you, however, might be.
  • Re:More on sinks (Score:2, Insightful)

    by deman1985 (684265) <dedwards AT kappastone DOT com> on Monday October 11, 2004 @01:27PM (#10495528) Homepage
    I find it appaling that what I thought to be a generally intelligent readership here on /. could be so damn ignorant and emotional over a bunch of hype. There is something that most of you here seem to be forgetting; useful atmospheric data has been collected now for only a very short period of time, in the grand scheme of things. 50 years is hardly an adequate window of time on which to construct any kind of accurate model, or even to make assumptions. Hell, we STILL can't predict the weather beyond a week with any kind of certainty, so how can we honestly expect to understand the climate on a global scale, over the course of tens or hundreds of years?

    Those who think we're in a warm spell during an ice age and so it ought to be getting colder again, how do you know? Maybe this warm spell is just getting started. While we can't deny that it's a strange correlation between industrialization and these effects, we also can't deny that there were tons of catastrophic climate changes long before man had any influence. It's not unlikely that this same thing happened a couple hundred years ago, but we can't say one way or the other, as we weren't recording data at the time.

    Now, don't take my point the wrong way. I'm not saying that industrialization has no effect on the environment; in fact, there is no doubt in my mind that man has influenced the climate to some extent. The more efficient we are, the better. All that I'm saying is that we need to sit down and think about what we are observing, in an intelligent manner, and stop running around and screaming that this is the end of the world. The fact is, if there really is a problem and we continue drawing random conclusions and pouring money into bogus solutions, it may be too late by the time we really figure out what's going on. Maybe there's some other kind of natural global change on the way which will have catastrophic long-term effects; if we just assume these changes to be a result of pollution, then we're doomed.

    Let the researchers do their jobs and work towards a more conrete answer. In the mean time, relax and carry about your business; if you're that concerned, change fields and start doing your own research. Either way, stop bitching and predicting the end of the world as we know it.
  • by ylikone (589264) on Monday October 11, 2004 @03:04PM (#10496594) Homepage
    Why is that a such a large portion of the american public will believe the corporate lies that humans aren't responsible for causing havoc to the environment. It's just an obvious thing in my mind that if you put crap into a system, you get a crappy system. Duh! The MAJORITY of scientists all around the world already know this and try to warn us all the time... yet, stupid americans just continue to deny and accuse the scientists of just wanting grant money or something (yeah, nice logic there).

    Grow up americans, take some responsibility for your actions and stop denying any wrong-doing.

  • Re:What about.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Bilestoad (60385) on Monday October 11, 2004 @03:16PM (#10496725)
    Here's a thought: America is a naughty boy who got caught doing something bad and won't stop because the others are still doing it.

    Shame the idea of leadership and guidance over the rest of the world disappears when stimulating the arms industry and gaining domestic popularity isn't involved.
  • Re:More on sinks (Score:4, Insightful)

    by barawn (25691) on Monday October 11, 2004 @04:05PM (#10497097) Homepage
    like the maunders minimum and the other variations of temperature in historical times in which the Impact of human activity was, by today's standards, negligible.

    The Maunder Minimum describes sunspots - the Little Ice Age is what you're referring to. The times were close, but the two labels are not the same.

    If the people of Europe, at the time of the Little Ice Age, had any reason to believe that their actions were causing the cooling of the planet, it would've been incredibly foolish for them not to have taken action. But they didn't have any reason to believe that.

    Here are the facts:

    • The planet is warming up. All data so far show that the average global temperature is rising.
    • CO2 levels are rising. The predominant source of rising emissions is human activity.
    • We do not know conclusively that the human activity is causing the warming, however, basic physics says that a higher level of CO2 in the atmosphere leads to a higher temperature.


    We do not know that we are the source of the warming. That's correct.

    But as another poster put it before, suppose you are accelerating towards a brick wall. If someone tells you "the brick wall will go away before you get there", and someone else tells you "the brick wall will not go away before you get there", aren't you going to at least start slowing down??
  • Re:More on sinks (Score:4, Insightful)

    by killjoe (766577) on Monday October 11, 2004 @05:15PM (#10497740)
    Actually your premise is wrong. Although every city has a lots of thermometers everywhere the only ones that "count" are the ones from official weather stations. The vast majority of those are either on the airport or on a military base. In both of those circumstances the areas are away from the core of the city.

    There are also temprature reading taken from ships at sea.

    Finally the entire global warming thesis is not based on JUST air temprature readings. There are also ocean currents, ocean tempratures, CO2 levels, ice core data, rate of melting of glaciers and icebergs, geologic data, and of course tons of theoretical frameworks.

    "I haven't been convinced that carbon dioxide is a problem."

    That's probably because you haven't really studied the matter and probably don't really understand the studies that have been done. The vast majority of climatologist in the world do agree that CO2 is the problem.

    But what the hell they are just idiots and you know so much more then them.
  • by VendingMenace (613279) on Monday October 11, 2004 @05:52PM (#10498091)
    of course, he didn't say anything that required citation, as it is not really nessesary to cite something that is taken to be common knowledge -- which his claims were. But just so we are all in agreement, let us look at his arguemnt...

    1) Climate fluxuates.
    2) It fluxuates even without human intervention
    3) We do not fully understand these fluxxions

    Conclusion:
    The warming trend we see in the earth's climate may not be due (in part or in full) to increasing CO2 levels. And even if we were to reduce CO2 levels we might still see an increase in warming.

    ie:
    our inability to understand the trends in climate change may mean that we do not understand why the climate in increasing in temp right now.

    Yeah?

    Ok, so now lets look at his claims and see wich ones need citing...

    1) So we will start off slow with this one...
    What was the temp where you live this morning at 3am? How about at 3pm. Did it change? (hint: the answer is probably "yes"). If it did we see that the climate can flux in temp.

    Moving along to slightly longer times...
    What was the temp of your home town January 1st. How about July 1st. Were they different? (again, the answer is prolly, "yes"). The temp changes throughout the year too!

    Ok, a bit longer then...
    Do you suppose that it was cooler durring the last ice age than it is now? (hint: the same answer as for the above questions). If you answer "yes" (you should have) then you will see that the temp can change over thousands of years.

    So, i would say that through common sense and knowledge, one should be able to arrive at the conclusion (and just know it) that the earth's climate has changed with time. so we will just go ahead and mark down this one as "common knowledge" ok? Cool.

    2) Now number 2 might seem a bit less like common knowledge, but i assure you it still is.

    Think about how long humans have been around. Lets say around 10 million years (overkill)i think a reasonably educated person should at least know this sort of ballpark figure -- at least the target audeince of his post. Now how old is the earth. Lets say 10 billion years.

    Now we use "logic." Do we assume that the temp of the earth just started to wildy flux in the last 1% of its life? Of course not. That would be rediculous. For one, the earth radiates heat away from its surface into space, so that it would seem to cool. But for another, it vents heat from its core so that the surface would seem to warm. Overall, the temp of the earth would have to be in flux throughout its history. This is assuming the uniformatarianism hypothesis is correct, which again is logical.

    Thus we see that there is cause to belive that the earth has fluxed in temp on its surface one way or the other through most of its life. Thus, the surface temp of the earth has fluxed whilst humans were not around. And this was arrived at by the simple process of thinking. No need to cite something as obvious as this.

    3) This one is so mind bendingly simple that i will not even present an argument. Show me one person that thinks the fully the climate fluxes of the earth and i will show you an arogant bastard who has clearly not thought much on this topic.

    Now onto the conclusion that was offered. It was simply this;

    Since we do not fully understand the climate fluxations of the earch without humans and we do not understand them WITH humans around, we cannot be sure of anything regarding the fluxxes of the earths temp. Thus, we cannot totally differentiate the efffects of CO2 from the natural fluxxes. Thus, we cannot make any definative statemtns. Futhermore, the whole mess is so complicated that there may be other factors that we haven't thought of. And lastly, even if we were to stabalize the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere, it may be that the temp would still change (very likely) and perhaps even rise.

    Of course this is not to say that CO2 CAN"T contribute to the rise in temp. THere are ve
  • Re:More on sinks (Score:2, Insightful)

    by DerWulf (782458) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @07:07AM (#10502080)
    Implied they do claim that the climate is a constant. How else is it justifiable to show the 'hockey stick' chart that only extends a hundred years in the past? Presentation of this 'evidence' just screams: look, until here it's all steady then, bam, industrialization correlating with a warming trend'. It doesn't show that the climate has become steadiely warmer since the past ice age, with the exception of the roman climate optimum and the little ice age in the middle ages which where great variances from the trend. Not showing this general, actually more relevant, trend means either a) ignorance of the volatiale nature of the climate or b) willfull misleading of the puplic opinion by hiding vital context that would frame the question in a more accurate light. Now the rule 'never blame something on malicious intend when stupidity answers just as well' applies, thus the 'scientiest' must suffer from condition a).

"Probably the best operating system in the world is the [operating system] made for the PDP-11 by Bell Laboratories." - Ted Nelson, October 1977

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