Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Science

Consensus on Global Warming 1200

Posted by michael
from the heads-buried-in-the-sand dept.
FredFnord writes "Well, here's an interesting one: the fine folks at Science Magazine have done an analysis of the last ten years' published scientific articles (articles from crank or non-peer-reviewed publications were not counted) on the subject of global climate change. The results themselves are interesting, but the most remarkable part was that, of the 928 papers they found, 75% accepted that global warming was caused by human activities, either explicitly or implicitly. 25% made no mention either way. And not a single paper asserted otherwise." JamesBell submits this article by a geologist which suggests that the Earth is in serious, imminent, unavoidable danger.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Consensus on Global Warming

Comments Filter:
  • by SoupGuru (723634) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @05:52PM (#11024263)
    I just don't get why this is news to some people, but unfortunately it is.
  • by Draoi (99421) * <<moc.cam> <ta> <thcoiard>> on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @05:52PM (#11024275)
    ... as Dubya probably doesn't read Science Magazine and won't be signing [wwf.org.uk] the Kyoto protocol any time soon. So, while the US government recognises the seriousness of global warming, they refuse to do anything about it as they claim it to be 'unfair'. Unfair is one nation producing over 25% of global CO2 emissions ... :-/

    (BTW, that 'fine fellow' at Science Magazine happens to be a woman :-))

  • Great (Score:5, Insightful)

    by daveschroeder (516195) * on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @05:53PM (#11024279)
    Soon, it will be China and India that you're pointing fingers at, and not the US (or Europe).[1]

    So... Then what?

    And uh, is this news? Does anyone credible seriously disagree that emissions from human activity are at least in part contributing factors? Or is this another jab at boogiemen that don't exist? There's nothing "remarkable" about these so-called findings.

    Also, the "Earth" isn't in danger. Yes, I know this distinction is splitting hairs, but what's in danger is Earth's inhabitants. Our actions are not going to alter a several billion year old rock.

    [1] Don't feed me the per capita shit. China will be a far, far greater polluter in this realm, per capita or no. Further, the economic empowerment of the Chinese people will eventually drive them to a level of concern about the well-being of the environment, so, in a way, their accelerated economic development is a good thing, politically and environmentally. Incidentally, China has proven they can reduce greenhouse emissions, even while growing economically (1 [commondreams.org], 2 [nrdc.org])...but the point is, they're still on an upward trend. And they've got a lot more people who will begin to thirst for energy-hungry luxuries.
  • Great (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Limburgher (523006) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @05:53PM (#11024296) Homepage Journal
    Now what are we going to DO about it?
  • by Jhon (241832) * on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @05:54PM (#11024310) Homepage Journal
    75% accepted that global warming was caused by human activities
    Ok. How many of those actually attempted to show a LINK between global warming and human activities rather than just "accept" it?

    Regardless, the final paragraph of the article begs a very interesting question:
    Many details about climate interactions are not well understood, and there are ample grounds for continued research to provide a better basis for understanding climate dynamics. The question of what to do about climate change is also still open. But there is a scientific consensus on the reality of anthropogenic climate change.
    The begged question is Will it be bad or will it be good? Wouldn't warmer climates provide more arable land? What I get out of this is "We dont know what it means, but it looks like at least SOME climate changes are caused by man".
  • Danger danger! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nizo (81281) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @05:54PM (#11024316) Homepage Journal
    This article by a geologist which suggests that the Earth is in serious, imminent, unavoidable danger.

    Global warming will cause the earth to explode? Oh wait, you mean people (and possibly much of the life on earth) could be in danger. I doubt global warming will make much of a difference to the planet itself, except possibly to allow it to make more room for heat resistant lifeforms :-)

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @05:57PM (#11024368)
    So no consensus is valid as a scientific argument.

    First Century News:
    Scientifics reach a consensum: The earth is the center of the universe
  • by gargonia (798684) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @05:57PM (#11024370)
    I think the reason this is news is because the Bush administration is still trying to pretend that this is not proven science... that it's just a theory that can be ignored. They want to ignore it because it's inconvenient for their business cronies, and those business cronies fund party activities and candidates' re-elections. I don't think there will be any changes on this front until this administration is out of office, no matter how much evidence is presented. It's quite unfortunate.
  • Re:Great (Score:3, Insightful)

    by eln (21727) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @05:57PM (#11024378) Homepage
    Screaming about how things are "not fair" is just an excuse to keep from doing anything at all. The Bush Administration rejects the Kyoto protocols, whether for good reasons or not, and then refuses to do anything else about global warming. We can't simply refuse to do anything because the one proposed solution is not fair. As one of the world's most advanced nations, it's our responsibility to do everything within our power to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, starting in our own country. Once we have a plan in place to reduce our own problems, then we can go out and try to reform the solutions that other people have come up with. Instead, we're pointing fingers, and refusing ANY solutions because the ONE solution that has been presented to us by the rest of the globe is seen as "unfair".

    Also, as people love to point out so much in political flamewars, pointing to someone else and saying "they're doing it too" is not a reasonable justification to continue doing the wrong thing.
  • Tobacco (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bombadillo (706765) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @05:59PM (#11024401)
    The Global Warming issue reminds me of big Tobacco. Deny , Deny , Deny. Years from now their will be no doubt that our habbits accelerated Global warming.
  • by Wateshay (122749) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {legan.llib}> on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @06:00PM (#11024417) Homepage Journal
    Show me some hard numbers that show the Kyoto treaty will do anything significant, other than redistribute wealth around the world and then we'll talk.
  • by EnderWiggnz (39214) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @06:00PM (#11024428)
    What I get out of this is "We dont know what it means, but it looks like at least SOME climate changes are caused by man".

    and SOME studies suggest that cigarettes cause health problems.

    some.
  • by daknapp (156051) * on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @06:01PM (#11024430)

    If you had RTFA, you would have noticed that they explictly point out that:

    The problem can only be marginally (i.e. ineffectually) addressed by increases in alternative energy and energy efficiency, any likely savings being offset by population and economic growth. And, given the huge energy and material demands in the construction of, say, wind farms, the ultimate value of these is debatable.

    Kyoto would have essentially no effect on CO2 production, at the cost of essentially destroying the global economy. While I am sure you find that an attractive idea, most people don't.

  • by ajs (35943) <ajs@ a j s . c om> on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @06:01PM (#11024435) Homepage Journal
    How many were rejected from the peer review process which suggested or concluded otherwise? More to the point (and obviously, this cannot be known) how many were never submitted for peer review in the first place because of concern over the backlash?

    Most US science funding in climate and solar research comes from the federal govt (in geological and oceanic research sizable amounts can come from private groups). When politicians don't want to look like they're anti-environment they screen funding to make sure it's not going to go to "enemies of the planet" (I kid you not, that's the phrase).

    How can a survey of peer reviewed journals be a valid source of data when people are afraid to publish "the wrong results"?

    Perhaps global warming is caused by adult white male toenail clippings, but I'm pretty sure we have no reasonable way of finding that out right now.
  • by Saeger (456549) <farrellj&gmail,com> on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @06:02PM (#11024452) Homepage
    ...is being suckered into accepting the neutral "Climate Change" euphemism, which downplays its significance. I wonder who started that trend?...Hmm...
  • by warrped (202864) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @06:03PM (#11024474)
    The use of most arable land conforms to a somewhat narrow range of temperature and rainfall. While there is certainly the capacity to adapt farming techniques to these different norms, to be perfectly honest, it would be very expensive and difficult, not to mention resulting in a rather precipitous drop in agricultural output in the meantime. Like it or not, we (people who rely on agriculture) have a fairly entrenched set of interests in the status quo insofar as it relates to climate.
  • Inexpensive land? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nizo (81281) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @06:04PM (#11024492) Homepage Journal
    Sea level has constantly fluctuated in the geological past: its highest recorded level was in the Cretaceous Period, some 80 million years ago, when CO2 levels were considerably higher than at present, and ice-caps were virtually absent from the earth. Then, sea level stood at least 200 metres higher than today, with most of the UK being submerged.

    Now the key is to figure out where the least expensive land is that is currently about 202 meters above sea level so I can have beachfront property to retire on. I wonder if I can get a good deal on a submerged English castle to ship over to move onto said property?

  • Finally a solution (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Wateshay (122749) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {legan.llib}> on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @06:06PM (#11024515) Homepage Journal
    A solution from the last link:
    a large-scale switch to civil nuclear power. This has the benefit of being proven technology. We are aware of the problems, and current public unpopularity of this route, but we consider the dangers posed by global warming to be orders of magnitude greater than those likely to be caused by the controlled use of nuclear power. This energy source, additionally, could lie at the heart of future hydrogen-based transport systems.


    Now, there's a solution I can get behind (no, I'm not joking). Nuclear energy, pursued with a strong eye towards safety and security, would be a step forward in terms of our efficiency and use of energy.

    Bankrupting the industrialized nations of the world for an unproven solution isn't.
  • by Orne (144925) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @06:07PM (#11024529) Homepage
    That's funny, because I look at this as news that the mass media is pretending that it is proven science... Read the details, 100% of the articles did not mention that global warming could be produced from valid geological / astrophysical events... temporary increase [space.com] in the sun's energy output, recent random volcanic activity [msn.com], you know, the kind of alternative sources that can easily be found in a google search...

    I am not saying that human industrial pollution is not a contributor towards global warming, I just find it interesting that so many people think that it is the only contributor...
  • by mirko (198274) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @06:09PM (#11024560) Journal
    Do not speculate : USA is currently the biggest polluter, whether others will become worse soon is another story, what we want is the US to show an example and make radical progresses towards making the Earth a better planet to give our children.

    In Switzerland, where I live, they developed recycling, public transportation and also motivated people to make more sport, use their bikes whenever possible... walk instead of taking their big greasy trucks to the mall, the result is a better environment aware society.
  • Re:Great (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wwest4 (183559) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @06:09PM (#11024580)
    > Soon, it will be China and India that you're pointing fingers at, and not the US
    > (or Europe).[1]

    The US isn't being unfairly singled out in any of the articles posted.

    > There's nothing "remarkable" about these so-called findings. ...
    > what's in danger is Earth's inhabitants.

    What is unremarkable about that?

    The idea that China and India (and other major greenhouse contributors) should be brought to task is fine. As a US citizen, however, I am primarily concerned with what my country can do to help, not in deflecting blame. Surely, we would be in a better position to apply pressure to other countries in this regard, were we at the forefront of C02 emmissions reduction?

  • Re:Great (Score:1, Insightful)

    by danheskett (178529) <danheskett AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @06:11PM (#11024600)
    it's our responsibility to do everything within our power to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, starting in our own country.
    Really, you mean that? Congress could ban all pollution. Period. You cannot cause anything to be emitted into the air. No automobiles. No coal burning. No non-renewable 100% clean power plants. No aersol, no burning of leaves, no burning of wood, no unlicensed burning of anything.

    They could. It would be legal. You are saying it is our responsibility to do that?
  • by Reducer2001 (197985) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @06:15PM (#11024654) Homepage
    I basically agree with you on this, the evidence isn't air tight. However, that doesn't change the fact that we're still dumping tons of poisonous gas into our atmosphere every day. If nothing else, we should cut back on that.
  • Re:Lovely (Score:3, Insightful)

    by RedWizzard (192002) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @06:15PM (#11024657)
    I love how lately on Slashdot anything a particular individual doesn't agree with has become "groupthink". As though that somehow makes it invalid. Has it occurred to you that maybe the consensus has been reached because global warming is a real problem, and that the evidience is overwhelmingly in support of humanity being a major factor?
  • by twiddlingbits (707452) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @06:16PM (#11024668)
    If there was anyone allowed to watch I'd say China would be the biggest polluter. I'd venture to say Russia is right behind. Since the fall of Communism Russia hasn't done much to clean up the mess that the Soviets dumped everywhere. Or are you forgetting that Chernobyl was a HUGE pollutor ever far beyond Bhopal and the Exxon Valdez, on the par with the Kuwait oil fields Saddam set on fire (funny how no one damns Saddam as a pollutor but hammmer on GWB).
  • by geneing (756949) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @06:17PM (#11024679)
    Or as the article itself says: "The scientific consensus might, of course, be wrong."

    At the risk of being labeled a troll. There are only a few ways that can convincingly prove a scientific theory: 1) carefully done experiments where all the extra parameters are kept constant, which is impossible in this case, or 2) either analytical derivation or computational simulation from "first principles" (also can't be achieved despite all the progress in HPC).

    Studies that I'm aware of either show that there is a historical correlation between CO2 levels and temperature (no control for other sources that change climate) or ad-hoc models that are made to fit past data and then used to extrapolate into the future (approach has been tried before for stock market prediction without much success).

    It's just very hard to prove human influence on climate.

    Having said this, I think it's a very good idea to try find a better source of energy than oil and gas.

  • Re:Great (Score:3, Insightful)

    by danheskett (178529) <danheskett AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @06:18PM (#11024704)
    Taking arguments to an extreme is a classical logical fallacy intended to discredit other peoples' arguments. It's also a trick of simple minds. You and I both know he wasn't saying anything like that. Don't be an idiot.
    The point was and remains that we can do anything from nothing to a very lot, yet everyone who clamours for "something to be done" is unwilling to specify at what cost. Kyoto was so vicious to the US economic outlook that the president whose vice-president negogiated the treaty wouldn't even let it come to vote. There wasn't a siggle sitting senator - even amoung the left leaning ones - who'd agree to support it even in a non-binding way.

    So the question remains: how much are the "clamouring" types willing to pay? 1Million jobs? 2Million? 5M? 10M? 15% of GDP?

    That's the real question.
  • by Twirlip of the Mists (615030) <twirlipofthemists@yahoo.com> on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @06:18PM (#11024705)
    You mean apart from the fact that "redistribution of wealth" is usually a euphemism for institutionalized larceny, an offense which is rejected out of hand by every legal, ethical and moral tradition we have?

    Nothin'. Nothin' at all.
  • by bonch (38532) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @06:20PM (#11024739)
    The reason is that not everybody agrees. For instance, the ozone hole that has been growing and shrinking every few decades. As kids, we were all told the hole's expansion was caused by greenhouse gases. But it actually grows and shrinks, and the cycles correspond with solar cycles of the sun. That's just one of many reasons there is disagreement; here are some others:
    Study by Swiss and German scientists shows Earth is getting warmer because Sun is burning brighter [telegraph.co.uk]
    "Global Warming Bomshell" [technologyreview.com]
    Global warming or lack thereof [kafalas.com]
    The Real Cost of Global Warming [globalclimate.org]

    Not saying I agree with everything stated in those articles; I'm merely pointing out that there is another side to the issue. I'm sure there is an effect that our manmade chemicals are having, but the fact that there is a despute over the extent of its effect (despite what Michael seems to think with his "heads-in-the-sand dept." quip...) or its permanance means there are plenty of scientists who disagree that humans are the cause any more than natural climate cycles of the Earth are. Studies show the ozone is a lot more self-maintaining than you and I were raised to believe, and that most of the chemicals we hear about that are so damaging never even reach the altitudes necessary to do damage to the ozone.

    To sum it up--there is disagreement because there is little proven evidence either way (think of it as similar to brain tumors and cell phones), and the studies that are out end up being contradicted by another. Simply looking at percentages of scientific papers published in the last decade doesn't necessarily prove much more than a general published consensus in the last decade in those specific science magazines.
  • Re:Meaningless (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Durandal64 (658649) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @06:21PM (#11024749)
    I was unaware that there existed separate journals for each conclusion on politically controversial topics. Maybe you should learn more about how the peer review and journal submission processes work. Oh, and by the way, the article never said that "crank" journals were singled out and rejected. It said that any journal in the ISI was searched for relevant articles, and one would assume that the ISI does not include crank publications in its listings, and it certainly doesn't include non-peer-reviewed publications.
  • Science is science (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Ryan C. (159039) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @06:22PM (#11024770)
    I agree that the scientific community has a history of being affected by groupthink and politics.

    But, this is the scientific process. That community has come up with most of the innovations of the last few centuries, including the computer and networks you're reading this on. They can be and sometimes are wrong. But betting against them is not a smart bet. Especially with life as we know it on the line.

    Books generally don't count since they are not filtered though peer review. The one you link to, "The Skeptical Environmentalist" has the distinction of generating some peer discussion in scientific magazines. The only problem is that the discussion has been unilaterally negative. At least he did get some arguments started, so hats off to him. But if he's serious about changing scientific opinion, he should (and maybe has) submit to peer reviewed papers. They may not be published, but that's where the true battle is waged.
  • by Alwin Henseler (640539) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @06:22PM (#11024776) Homepage
    From the article summary: ".. of the 928 papers they found, 75% accepted that global warming was caused by human activities, either explicitly or implicitly. 25% made no mention either way. And not a single paper asserted otherwise."

    Just because everybody is saying it, doesn't make it true.

    But okay, I'm the last person to deny global warming is upon us. Other than some US folks still not convinced or thinking it's not that big a problem (or simply putting their head in the sand), global warming is observed, and the only question is about how much of it is the result of human activities, and how much by natural causes. Oh yeah, and what to do about it [earthday.net].

    For the rest: nothing to see here.

  • by eclectechie (411647) <mredivoNO@SPAMbinarytool.com> on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @06:23PM (#11024780) Homepage
    Wouldn't warmer climates provide more arable land?

    Not if it is flooded with salt water...

    Try this. Get a globe that shows contour lines, get a blue pen, and color everything less than 200 meters[1] above sea level blue, like the ocean.

    Now see how many of the continents you can recognize.

    Hint: St. Louis, Missouri is 140 meters above mean sea level.

    [1] See article.

  • by Durandal64 (658649) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @06:23PM (#11024788)
    This is a rebuttal to right-wing politicians' common claim that there is controvery in the scientific community about global warming. This is a lie, and it's the same tactic that creationists use to drive evolution from public schools. They claim that biologists are split on evolution, so it shouldn't be taught in schools. (In reality, there is only debate about certain details, like whether natural selection is the exclusive mechanism driving the observed process of evolution. No biologist worth his salt is going to dispute that evolution occurs.)
  • by G. W. Bush Junior (606245) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @06:26PM (#11024827) Journal
    Ok. How many of those actually attempted to show a LINK between global warming and human activities rather than just "accept" it?

    By asking this question you raise doubt about the quality of the work without actually presenting evidence that only a minority of the scientists do serious work on this. But if you are driving an SUV a statement like that might seem insightful even though it's completely void of information.

    The begged question is Will it be bad or will it be good? Wouldn't warmer climates provide more arable land? What I get out of this is "We dont know what it means, but it looks like at least SOME climate changes are caused by man".

    You would have to be pretty biased to read it that way.
    Two trains are heading for a collision, the respective train drivers have a lot of options, they can jump out or try to stop the train.
    I could state that the question of what to do is open - but you would probably argue that I'm begging the question "Will a train collision be good or will it be bad?"
    The sentence you quote has nothing to do with whether anthropogenic climate changes are good or bad.

    Oh yeah... a pet peeve of mine... "begging the question" can mean two different things. If you use it the way you do you confuse the people who took the time to find out what it means, and if you use it correctly a majority of people will misunderstand what you say - so it's probably better not to use the expression at all.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @06:27PM (#11024832)
    "...and then consume that output." Funny how those who are so eager to "correct" this mistake never notice their own.

    Seems a far more common and far more damaging oversight, eh? In fact, it's so common that one would almost think that this oversight is a deliberate untruth propogated for rhetorical purpose.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @06:27PM (#11024833)
    I notice very few of the comments on here have anything to do with the science. It's all a bunch of political arguing. This really tells me global warming is much more about political ideology than any actual science. Considering an earlier report showed 80% of college professors were liberal, the 75% number here sounds just about right.
  • by anthony_dipierro (543308) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @06:28PM (#11024851) Journal

    I think the reason this is news is because the Bush administration is still trying to pretend that this is not proven science...

    I think we should take a look at exactly what is proven science...

    "In its most recent assessment, IPCC states unequivocally that the consensus of scientific opinion is that Earth's climate is being affected by human activities." Of course Earth's climate is being affected by human activities. No one, including the Bush administration, denies that.

    "Admittedly, authors evaluating impacts, developing methods, or studying paleoclimatic change might believe that current climate change is natural. However, none of these papers argued that point." But even if you say that everyone in those selected papers believes that climate change is due to man, it still doesn't get to the heart of the matter: what is the effect of global warming, is there anything we can do to stop it? And of course, the most important, and non-scientific, but political question, is it worth it?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @06:29PM (#11024864)
    It's unavoidable if we continue on the current path. If you had something important to contribute, you can post now. (-1, Waste of time to get an early post)
  • by WebCowboy (196209) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @06:29PM (#11024884)
    Well, I HOPE you aren't anyways.

    Yes, groupthinking like 2+2=4 and the earth is round, is just sooo bad.

    How are mathematical statements and established facts groupthink? Groupthink is belief in an opinion or hypothesis because it is the most popular one. There is consensus based on scientific observation of climate data that global temperatures are rising along with atomspheric CO2 levels. There is actual evidence of this.

    The evidence pointing to the CAUSE of global warming isn't so solid. All we know for sure is that CO2 and other greenhouse gases are heating up the planet. The impact of human activity on CO2 levels may be negligable for all we konw. One major volcanic eruption, for example, can pump out more climate-altering emissions in days than all of humanity could do for years. The observations in this article do not present any evidence at all, they just demonstrate that scientists who write papers happen to have come to a consensus that human CO2 emissions have an impact on global warming. Being there is not SOLID, DIRECT proof of that one might say it is "group think"...scientists have succumbed to "group think " before...

    The article itself makes a good statement:

    The scientific consensus might, of course, be wrong. If the history of science teaches anything, it is humility, and no one can be faulted for failing to act on what is not known. But our grandchildren will surely blame us if they find that we understood the reality of anthropogenic climate change and failed to do anything about it.

    Science isn't always right. One thing is for sure though, reducing CO2 emissions due to the burning of fossil fuels might not stop global warming for sure, but it certainly can't make the problem worse. And besides that, it is probalby wise to conserve the worlds biggest NON-renewable resource, much of which happens to be unfortunately located in politically unstable countries where mentally unstable terrorists like to hide.
  • by Jhon (241832) * on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @06:31PM (#11024916) Homepage Journal
    Funny that, but many of the things I've seen [usatoday.com] seem to indicate that if the ENTIRE polar ice caps melted, we'd see a rise of about 65 meters, not 200 meters. And that's if the ENTIRE cap melted -- I dont think anyone is suggest that possibility.

    Maybe you just mixed up meters and feet? Your point is valid, however -- even 20 ft would be bad.

    But would that happen? Global warming doesn't necessarily mean the polar ice cap will melt. The really interesting questions arise when we see the change in ocean salinity...
  • Re:Bah... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nomadic (141991) <nomadicworld&gmail,com> on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @06:32PM (#11024927) Homepage
    It is still surprising to me that only 1 in 4 bothered to include alternative polution sources...

    Because they're professional geologists, so that goes without saying? These are peer-reviewed scientific journals, not introductory textbooks. If a physician writes an article claiming some chemical causes cancer, is he going to also mention everything else causes cancer? Is he going to mention the sun also causes cancer? Of course not, because he most likely is not a complete and utter moron, and he assumes his readers aren't either.

    Find me a single geologist anywhere who has ever publicly stated that anthropogenic sources are the only things that cause global climate change.
  • by serutan (259622) <snoopdoug@g e e k a zon.com> on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @06:33PM (#11024939) Homepage
    Maybe this is just a nitpick, but people tend to overestimate the importance of humans and our impact on the planet. The issue here is our own survival. The opening of the article lays it out plainly:

    Global climate change is increasingly recognised as the key threat to the continued development - and even survival - of humanity.

    Exactly. The Earth will go on spinning and evolving new land masses and creatures as it has done for billions of years, no matter what we do to it, short of actually blowing it to pieces. Even massive global nuclear contamination would fade away eventually, becoming a mere hiccup on a geological time scale. Our activities might destroy a lot of species in addition to ourselves, but in planetary history mass extinctions are routine non-events.

    What motivates my concern is not that we need to preserve this or that for its own sake, but that we want to maintain a pleasant world to live in. For some people that might include spotted owls and obscure mud lizards, for others not. I think the environmental movement might get more attention from the people who make the decisions if they give up on the sacred earth-spirit thing and focus on the fact that nobody wants to think of their great grandchildren living in shelters and subsisting on hydroponic fungi.
  • by Yokaze (70883) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @06:34PM (#11024955)
    Except on that matter the FA is plain wrong: There is no statistical correlation between the GDP growth (economic growth) and CO2 emissions.

    Contrary to your statement, the author suggested that the economical value of wind farms is debateable. But so is the economical value of pyramids. But on that matter, I refer you to Lord Keynes [wikipedia.org].
  • Re:Cranks (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Rasvar (35511) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @06:35PM (#11024961)
    Of course, 600 years ago a "peer review" would call you a crank for saying the world was round.

    There is human influence on the climate. The harder question to answer is to what degree and how fast? Most of the global simulations have some pretty fatal flaws. Some do not account for the oceans ability to hold heat very well. Others do not take into account how changing currents in the deep levels of the oceans will affect upper currents. Heck, the GFS[NOAA's main forecast model] had a 30 degree miss on the weather in New England this past weekend three days out. Computer modeling is not the be all end all.

    This is not to say that nothing needs to be done. I think there is a bit of Chicken Little in the research community. Especially the ones who know that fear brings them more funding.

    Some have stated Kyoto was a "start." In international treaties, there are no such things as starts. Once you get a bad treaty, you tend to be stuck with the damn thign forever because the other countries feel like they did what they needed to do. That is politics. You can not accept a bad treaty like Kyoto. It had major flaws and would have been a band aide on a monster gash.

    Is the administration doing enough, hell no? However, Kyoto flat out sucked as a treaty goes. It had been rendered as nothing but a way for third world countries to make money by selling their pollution rights. It was full BS.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @06:38PM (#11025025)
    I do not understand this frequently heard claim.
    Clearly environmentalists do not want the global economy destroyed. It's exactly this that they're trying to prevent.
  • by mce (509) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @06:42PM (#11025092) Homepage Journal
    Look, I for one am convinced that we humans are causing a (large) part of this. But whether or not we do should not even matter!

    It is an undeniable fact, backed by a large volume of evidence, that the climate is changing worldwide. Whether or not we humans co-caused this, we will have to live with the consequences! And if we're sufficiently open minded about what is going on we may be able to mitigate some of the bad effects, or at least slow down these unwanted changes by pro-actively looking for "solutions".

    I simply fail to understand how scientifically educated people can be so stubbornly blind to this simply because "they don't like the consequences"!

  • Re:Great (Score:2, Insightful)

    by nero4wolfe (671100) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @06:43PM (#11025116)
    First, you need to create some political "capital" that people are willing to look at this issue. A problem so far is that in the publications, media, etc. seen by the majority of this country, they see exactly two types of stories:

    1. A story with claims that this is a problem, and needs to be solved. No real details; no background info, etc. is given; the tone is similar to a church sermon.

    2. A story saying that there is no problem, or no worldwide problem (e.g., something similar to the Rush Limbaugh, etc. stories)

    What is needed are intelligently written articles, giving background information, and saying why the current conclusions have been reached. They should be written for people with non scientific backgrounds. There should be no preaching. The articles should intelligently cover topices like:

    Temperature changes. Show that temperature changes won't affect each area on the planet equally. Show real data; show what historical data we have. Recognize that some data (like temperature history at US reporting stations) might be affected more by "urban heat island" growth rather than by any greenhouse effects.

    As there are known periods in the planets past with warming, say what we think we know about what happened then.

    Talk about different things that can affect temperatures. Talk about urban heat islands. Talk about energy from the sun (is it going up?). Talk about volcanism effects. Talk about greenhouse changes.

    If the premise is that the main component of current changes is greenhouse gases, say what is known. If we have any information on past average atmosphere mixtures to current time, show those. If we have that info for different areas on the planet, show those.

    Talk about what can be done. You can bring up the Kyoto Treaty, but talk about positive & negative parts. Could it have any practical effect whatsover? Is it just symbolic? If it had a short term economic impact, would it help long term?

    And above all, try not to force a conclusion on the reader; let the readers come to their own conclusions.

    Trying to teach always works better than frenzied preaching.

  • by nomel (244635) <`moc.tibroni' `ta' `drut'> on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @06:46PM (#11025150) Homepage Journal
    But, you also have to consider how much of that output we consume ourselves.
  • by Russ Nelson (33911) <slashdot@russnelson.com> on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @06:46PM (#11025152) Homepage
    The climate is always changing. Sometimes it gets warmer and sometimes it gets colder. What is controversial here is 1) should we attempt to stop changing the climate if that is indeed what is happening, or 2) save our resources for adapting to the inevitable change?

    If you think 1) is correct, then you worship Kyoto as the God that will Save Mankind (nevermind the fact that if the predictions are correct, and they are not likely to be, that Kyoto is only intended to reduce the INCREASE IN CO2 emissions by less than 10%).

    Kyoto will do nothing to actually save us, but it WILL cause a huge amount of resources to be consumed. Somehow, environmentalists think that consuming resources to no good result is good IFF the intentions are good. You see this all the time. That's because environmentalism is a religion, and has nothing to do with science.
    -russ
  • Hammering GWB (Score:2, Insightful)

    by theblacksun (523754) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @06:46PM (#11025156) Journal
    I hammer GWB over his environmental record because he is my elected representative and he has done a very piss poor job of representing my environmental views.

    What Saddam did was in the middle of war; we are prepared at any time to fire nuclear missles at other countries, which just might be a bit worse on the environment than Saddam's oil fires. FYI when Saddam asked the US about invading Kuwait, Bush Senior's administration told him they had no opinion on the matter. Not that I'm defending him, but I can see how he might have been a bit bitter on his way out of Kuwait.

  • Re:Great (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Martin Blank (154261) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @06:49PM (#11025201) Journal
    The Bush Administration rejects the Kyoto protocols, whether for good reasons or not, and then refuses to do anything else about global warming. We can't simply refuse to do anything because the one proposed solution is not fair. As one of the world's most advanced nations, it's our responsibility to do everything within our power to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, starting in our own country.

    Please help in getting the hardcore greens and the NIMBYs to stop filing lawsuits blocking construction of nuclear reactors. That will go a long way towards reducing the CO2 output of the US. The combustion of coal, oil, and methane in electricity production in the US in 2002 released 2,249 million tons of CO2, not to mention the various other things that are released (particularly by coal) like sulfur dioxides, NOx gases, and of course thorium and uranium. I know the filter technology does a pretty decent job of things, but some of this stuff still gets out. Total US CO2 output in 2002 was 5796 million tons -- meaning 39% of our output is from the electrical sector alone.

    Imagine what the world reaction would be if in, say, 20 years, we managed to cut our output by 25% or more just by switching off of combustibles. We might even be able to do a lot more if we could get natural gas heating to be more expensive than electrical heating (it's quite the reverse at the moment, though with natural gas becoming so popular, it might change soon on its own). I'm still undecided on global warming, as the evidence may be there but the most reliable evidence is still relatively short-term and weather systems have patterns of their own that can really screw with observations. But I figure that there are other issues -- like pollution of rivers and streams, as well as various political nightmares -- that might be solved by switching so much of our infrastructure over to fuels we can find domestically.
  • by FatRatBastard (7583) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @06:50PM (#11025213) Homepage
    This made me think of Michael Crichton's Aliens Cause Global Warming [sepp.org]" speech, which is actually quite apropos since he took on the idea of scientific "consensus:"
    In addition, let me remind you that the track record of the consensus is nothing to be proud of. Let's review a few cases.


    In past centuries, the greatest killer of women was fever following childbirth . One woman in six died of this fever. In 1795, Alexander Gordon of Aberdeen suggested that the fevers were infectious processes, and he was able to cure them. The consensus said no. In 1843, Oliver Wendell Holmes claimed puerperal fever was contagious, and presented compelling evidence. The consensus said no. In 1849, Semmelweiss demonstrated that sanitary techniques virtually eliminated puerperal fever in hospitals under his management. The consensus said he was a Jew, ignored him, and dismissed him from his post. There was in fact no agreement on puerperal fever until the start of the twentieth century. Thus the consensus took one hundred and twenty five years to arrive at the right conclusion despite the efforts of the prominent "skeptics" around the world, skeptics who were demeaned and ignored. And despite the constant ongoing deaths of women.

    There is no shortage of other examples. In the 1920s in America, tens of thousands of people, mostly poor, were dying of a disease called pellagra. The consensus of scientists said it was infectious, and what was necessary was to find the "pellagra germ." The US government asked a brilliant young investigator, Dr. Joseph Goldberger, to find the cause. Goldberger concluded that diet was the crucial factor. The consensus remained wedded to the germ theory. Goldberger demonstrated that he could induce the disease through diet. He demonstrated that the disease was not infectious by injecting the blood of a pellagra patient into himself, and his assistant. They and other volunteers swabbed their noses with swabs from pellagra patients, and swallowed capsules containing scabs from pellagra rashes in what were called "Goldberger's filth parties." Nobody contracted pellagra. The consensus continued to disagree with him. There was, in addition, a social factor-southern States disliked the idea of poor diet as the cause, because it meant that social reform was required. They continued to deny it until the 1920s. Result-despite a twentieth century epidemic, the consensus took years to see the light.

    Probably every schoolchild notices that South America and Africa seem to fit together rather snugly, and Alfred Wegener proposed, in 1912, that the continents had in fact drifted apart. The consensus sneered at continental drift for fifty years. The theory was most vigorously denied by the great names of geology-until 1961, when it began to seem as if the sea floors were spreading. The result: it took the consensus fifty years to acknowledge what any schoolchild sees.

    And shall we go on? The examples can be multiplied endlessly. Jenner and smallpox, Pasteur and germ theory. Saccharine, margarine, repressed memory, fiber and colon cancer, hormone replacement therapy. The list of consensus errors goes on and on. Finally, I would remind you to notice where the claim of consensus is invoked. Consensus is invoked only in situations where the science is not solid enough. Nobody says the consensus of scientists agrees that E=mc2. Nobody says the consensus is that the sun is 93 million miles away. It would never occur to anyone to speak that way.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @07:01PM (#11025416)
    Let me get this right. A scientist works for years on an experiment or study and then looks like an idiot to his/her funding body by not publishing, because he/she is *afraid*? Afraid of what his/her peers will think of well-done science that comes up with a non-herd conclusion? Bullcrap. Scientists love publishing controversial stuff as long as the science is sound. It advances their careers, makes 'em famous, the whole schmeer.

    Are you a closet apologist for the denial boys that have been running the USA since Regan got elected?
  • by bonch (38532) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @07:06PM (#11025497)
    That's not a good comparison. Taking one situation and applying it to another doesn't prove the point. It's obvious that cigarettes are the cause of smokers' problems, but such direct links don't exist about global warming. While global warming may be an observed phenomena, the cause of the phenomena is what is often in question in debates on the issue--human-caused, or natural?

    I'd rather not offer my opinion either way because I haven't been convinced either way. I believe more scientific study should be done on the issue to learn more first, but I also believe in treating the environment well regardless.
  • by Frymaster (171343) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @07:10PM (#11025538) Homepage Journal
    I still say that reguardless of global warming it is better to continue on and deal with problems as they arise

    so the solution is to deal with the symptoms rather than address the cause?

    If we throw away our technology, as some would seem to prefer

    slow down, there! it's a bit of a leap to conclude that those who advocate a meaningful reduction in greenhouse gasses are calling for us to "throw away our technology".

    a hundred and twenty years ago, all the western world's major cities had a horse poop problem. lots of horses in the streets, lots of poop. how was this addressed? by "throwing away" the technology of horses? no. the solution was technological improvement rather than regression.

    now we just have to deal with the car poop.

  • Re:Lies (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @07:11PM (#11025541)
    So, what is W doing now to move forward?
  • Re:Great (Score:3, Insightful)

    by marick (144920) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @07:18PM (#11025626)
    'So the question remains: how much are the "clamouring" types willing to pay? 1Million jobs? 2Million? 5M? 10M? 15% of GDP?'

    Me? Well, I'd give up my Bush tax-cut. But I guess you don't mean that as an option. Aren't we going to lose those jobs anyway, when the oceans rise and eat Florida's coastline?

    You act like it's either-or. "either we damage our economy OR we damage the environment". That's a false-choice.

    Here's another way of looking at it. Perhaps we could find a way to create an "alternative-energy" economy? Then we could have economic growth, selling this "alternative-energy technology" to other countries, and also reduce our greenhouse gases. All it would take is massive government investment in alternative energies the way they invest in invading other countries, like Iraq.

    By the way, I also like the idea of switching over to nuclear power. And no, before you ask, I don't drive a car. I walk to public transportation every day. But there's room for improvement there as well, in the form of cars that get better gas mileage, such as the various hybrids out there these days.

    Of course, the alternative is to let global warming happen and watch as Florida sinks into the ocean. That wouldn't be all bad, I suppose. I mean, many in New Orleans could use a good bath.

    -Michael
  • by sfjoe (470510) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @07:23PM (#11025703)

    The Earth will be just fine. It will go on evolving as it has for billions of years. We humans, however, may not be so fortunate if we don't change our habits. As George Carlin once said, "the Earth will shake us off like a bad cold".

  • by El Cabri (13930) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @07:47PM (#11026006) Journal
    The US does not output anything. Have you checked the US trade balance lately ? How come a nation with 31% of the world "output" does not export anything ? You are counting the GDP. But the US GDP includes stuff like the markup retailers make on imported Chinese goods, the legal costs of the Clinton-Lewinsky incident, the health insurance industry profits, the DoD purchasing of the bombs that killed 100,000 human beings in Irak recently, the profits of people who cashed out of their Manhattan apt and went to retire in Florida. It's just a number, just an accounting figure.

    The share of "useless" GDP is higher in the US than in most industrialized nation. Plus it is compared with other nation's figures using purchasing power parity conversion, which values the USD much more than the currency market currently does.
  • by runderwo (609077) * <runderwo&mail,win,org> on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @07:51PM (#11026045)
    They played the same trick on us with CFC's and the "loss" of the ozone layer (which for some odd reason was centered around the magnetic poles). That turned out to be a load of crap too.
    Oh really? Please feel free to link to the debunking. You're not going to find any, because whether your worldview likes it or not, CFCs _are_ greenhouse gases and _do_ destroy ozone. I'm sure you'll argue that it is pure coincidence that the ozone was thinnest at the poles and over Australia during the time of greatest CFC use by industrial society. You'll point to the fact that the ozone layer seems to be repairing itself today as "proof" that CFCs really weren't that big a deal.

    Whether you believe humans generate enough CO2 today to cause global warning is irrelevant. (I'm sure you'll retort with something politically attractive but blatantly false like one volcanic eruption produces more CO2 than the whole US in a year, or that the greenhouse effect is made up by scientists looking for funding.)

    Ecopolitics of today does not change the fact that the "alarmists" and "pseudoscientists" were right about CFC compounds and their effect in the upper atmosphere, and you'd best get off that horse if you expect anyone to pay attention to your opinions on today's global enviroment issues.

  • by solanum (80810) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @07:54PM (#11026087)
    I saw this article on the front page and wondered to myself if there would be yet another stream of comments denying that there is evidence of climate change or that it could have any deletarious impact. Of course there was.
    I am a scientist, not working directly on how anthropogenic activities are effecting the atmosphere but on what the predicted effects may have on vegetation.
    As a scientist I look at all the available evidence for a question and come to some conclusion based on that evidence. There is no other sensible way to make a decisison. Where the evidence is lacking, I would try and do some work that would provide evidence one way or another.
    Virtually all available evidence points to anthropogenic emmisions causing climate change and there is plenty of evidence as to what those changes may be and what the effects of those changes on the biosphere may be.
    Consequently, what I wonder about the, extremely predictable, Slashdot response to an article such as this is whether it reflects the attitude of the US or whether it reflects the attiude of the predominently young, middle-class and technical readership of Slashdot?
    Either way, I'm fearful of the general ignorance and lack of logical thought.
  • Re:Great (Score:2, Insightful)

    by demachina (71715) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @07:58PM (#11026153)
    "Kyoto was so vicious to the US economic outlook"

    How do you think these will impact the U.S. economic outlook:

    - Crop failure
    - Floods
    - Drought
    - Class 5+ Hurricanes (Hurricanes were a big boon to the construction industry in Florida I'll grant you).
    - Flooding coastal cities(which tends to be where lots of people live), flooding islands and most of Florida
    - Massive Wildfires and forests cratering
    - Devastation of the reefs and the seafood that lives in them
    - Mass extinctions

    On the plus side in another couple of decades the Arctic ocean will probably melt enough that a Northwest passage will open between the Atlantic and Asia which will allow Walmart to ship Chinese goods to Europe more efficiently.

    I personally am buying beach front property on the northern coasts of Siberia and Canada since they will be prime beachfront and termperate in the new world order. Well not really beach front I'm only buying realestate a couple hundred feet above sea level.

    I'll grant you Kyoto was flawed but not for the reason you give. Thanks to globalization putting pollution limits on national boundries is insane. China in particular, as a developing country, gets a free pass in Kyoto and it is the worlds biggest up and comer in the pollution arena. I imagine the U.S. can in fact meet Kyoto limits without any alteration of its current economy simply by moving all its heavy manufacturing to China which its already doing. Only remaining domestic pollution would be cars which no one is interested in fixing and power generation which could probably be moved to Canada or Mexico in a pinch.
  • by Capitalist1 (127579) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @08:03PM (#11026215)
    Far more common and damaging oversight? Absolutely not. Why shouldn't the people who produce the wealth be the ones who benefit from it? That's what so-called economic "output" is - material wealth, the goods and services that make our society such a (relatively) great place to live.

    Certainly, the population of China is many times larger than that of the U.S. Consider that the vast majority of the Chinese populace are peasants who live on subsistance farms, and it's easy to spot the cause of that "gap".

    Unless you've been to college in the West. Then you'll probably never understand simple things like economics and critical reasoning.
  • by Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @08:13PM (#11026320) Homepage Journal
    The Crichton canard gets pulled out every time global warming is mentioned. There are so many things wrong with it that it's hard to know where to start tearing it apart, but I'll point out one of the obvious ones right away: Michael Crichton, himself, has almost surely never done the experiments to show that E=mc^2, or that the sun is 93 million miles away, or that malnutrition causes pellagra. So why does he believe these things?

    (wait for it)

    Because that's what the consensus tells him.
  • by mulescent (682036) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @08:18PM (#11026385)
    Usually, I stay out of Slashdot discussions on pseudo-religious scientific topics, but the comments I have read so far demand a reply. Unfortunately, many /. posters seem to forget that scientists are highly trained human beings whose job it is to answer questions such as the one being considered here.

    Don't get me wrong. I am not saying that scientists are any different than most human beings. Individual scientists can succumb to greed, lust for fame, etc and, occasionally, will get away with publishing intentionally erroneous data. Usually when this happens, especially in an area where so many scientists are working (like climate change), their lies will be uncovered and they will be ruined (ex: cold fusion, etc).

    The article being discussed here states that the vast majority of hundreds of studies on the subject have all come to the same conclusions: global warming is both real and anthropogenic. I suggest that the groundswell of /. opinion that all these researchers are wrong/lying is due to the rather unfortunate consequences of the truth. We will have to face the facts that our climate may change. Maybe for Canadians, this will be a good thing. For ocean algae and those in the lower lattitudes it will most certainly be bad.

    Society invests a huge amount of money in scientific research each year, and does so in a way that ensures maximum objectivity and honesty on the part of the researchers. Averaged over time and sufficient numbers of studies, science usually hits pretty close to the mark. Therefore, to all those doubting, suck it up and deal with the damage we've done. Don't blame the messenger if you dont like the message.

  • Re:Lies (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dubl-u (51156) * <2523987012.pota@to> on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @08:29PM (#11026544)
    I don't have much time for the AC's reflexive Bush-bashing, but the picture you paint doesn't seem to be any less one-sided.

    From my understanding of it, the US did pretty much disengage from the process, so although they didn't technically pull out of the treaty, they certainly have withdrawn from the process of dealing with global carbon emissions. And there's no denying that Bush welched on his campaign promise [nwsource.com] to do something about it.

    And I think there's an important difference with Clinton's actions: the main post points out, we're six years further along with the science of it. The room for reasonable doubt has greadly shrunk, and we've got six more years of excess CO2 emissions to clean up now.
  • by Jim_Callahan (831353) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @08:33PM (#11026617)
    (1) there has never been any doubt that human activities contribute to global warming. The only point of contention is wether an alteration of our current activities would cause a significant change in the rate of global warming, and wether, if this is the case, we should attempt to do so.

    (2)Consensus has nothing to do with truth... unless you subscribe to the WOD view of the universe, in which case we could fix all our problems by believing at them really hard.


    Good to know that human foolishness is once again aligned in a predictable direction, though.
  • by Dashing Leech (688077) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @09:01PM (#11026944)
    Just because everybody is saying it, doesn't make it true.

    Mod this way up. The "study" itself is pseudo-science. It basically says the majority of climate scientists believe something is true without questioning it or citing proof. There are at least two logical fallacies in this study, Appeal to Authority (they're climate scientists therefore their beliefs must be the truth) and Appeal to Majority (most believe it therefore it's true). Science magazine has taken flak for their silliness on global warming [globalwarming.org] before.

    When you look at the actual science behind global warming and its causes, things are a lot less clear. In the same link [globalwarming.org] above, you can see that when atmospheric scientists actually studying the causes of global climate change, the data at leasts points to a significant amount (>80%?) of climate change due to solar activity [www.cseg.ca]. But this doesn't make for entertaining or shocking headlines. Boring old science just doesn't have the flash of wild claims and bizarre pseudo-science. Unfortunately, it seems more and more scientists are incapable of separating the two themselves.

  • by Garse Janacek (554329) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @09:02PM (#11026954)
    Show why peer reviewed journals are a valid source.

    I doubt this will satisfy you, but -- the people who run and are published in peer reviewed journals for a given subject are almost exclusively the most educated people in that subject, and typically devote the majority of their lives to studying it. If you are going to trust anyone to do major research in this area, it almost by definition has to be these people. And they seem, so far, pretty unanimous.

    I should emphasize that I'm not saying there is never bias in peer-reviewed journals, or that political concerns never prevent publication of valid research. Certainly political issues, professional rivalries, and funding can affect the peer review process. The notion I reject is that there is a strong case to be made against human impact on global warming, but that every single paper that talks about it has been rejected. Bias in individual instances, yes, or even bias against papers reaching an unpopular conclusion -- but bias so strong that there is not even a single exception?

    You've also concluded that article reviewers have no personal stake. What's the basis for that conclusion? Lack of imagination?

    No, personal experience and statistics. I don't work in environmental science, but I know many people who work in academia (and expect to end up there myself), and while funding and politics certainly matter, the vast majority of these people are voluntarily doing work for less pay than they could get elsewhere because they love the work, and want to learn more about their field of expertise. The notion that not only the majority of these researchers, but virtually all of them (in any way that can be measured) are deliberately suppressing valid research because of some personal stake in it seems very implausible to me. As I said above, in some cases, sure, but every single time? In every single journal, by every single review committee?

    Because the government is much more likely to fund research into something that's "no big deal" than something that's a crisis.

    My point was that right now it is to much of the elected government's advantage if people believe that global warming is not a serious issue. In that light, it seems that they should discourage doomsaying, especially if they thought it was inaccurate. Yes, exaggerating the importance of your research may get you more funding in the short term, but reaching the conclusion that our entire country needs to spend uber-billions of dollars cleaning up our act hardly seems like the sort of thing that would make the government happier about your research.

  • Semantic Nit-Pick (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Koryu (686012) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @09:17PM (#11027107)
    The Earth is decidedly NOT in "serious, imminent danger". The planet is going to be just fine for quite a while, as far as anyone can tell. Get it right. Life on Earth might have a hard time adjusting to rapid climate change, but that's happened before, and life (and, yes, the planet Earth itself) has continued to exist. The REAL question (as the discussion appears to notice) is how much of this climate change do we have control over, and what should we be doing to keep ourselves out of trouble?
  • Re:Cranks (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Sique (173459) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @09:19PM (#11027129) Homepage
    Simple point is that a scientific consensus has not always been the most accurate thing in the world.

    Simple point is, that science in the way we know it today is a thing developed during the 19th century. Before it there was knowledge, there was lots of speculation and there was no separation between hypothesis, theory and fact.

    Even the great scientist of the late 17th and early 18th century, Isaac Newton, was more interested in alchemic experiments and metaphysical speculation than in the Physics and Mathematics where he laid the fundamentations for today's Calculus and Mechanics.

    Today's scientific consensus is still lacking, and it is no replacement for a thoroughly tested theory. But it is the best thing we can get, if said theory is still missing. Just because it's not perfect you shouldn't just throw it away.
  • by syphax (189065) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @09:38PM (#11027258) Journal
    Same as today where the scientists are saying "It must be the humans!" because humans are Bad for the Earth(tm) when there is not near enough evidence to in any way conclusively state that.

    I hate to feed the trolls, but...

    It's well known, and not controversial, that CO2 traps heat.

    It is well known, and not controversial, that atmospheric CO2 concentrations are increasing, thanks to us.

    Arrhenius [nasa.gov] knew these things; he was the first to examine the impact of CO2 on global climate over 100 years ago.

    Of course, there are a ton of other influences on global climate; the big question is what sort of negative feedback loops may exist, and how effective they might be at countering the forcing due to CO2 increases.

    There is uncertainty because climate science is tough. You've got a combination of a ton of complicated physical, chemical, biological, etc., systems involved, and you can't do controlled experiments very easily (we're doing an interesting one now with CO2, but don't have a good control).

    In addition to general warming, CO2 emissions pose other threats. There's the legitimate worry that warming will screw up [washington.edu] oceanic circulation (this is the basic idea behind that movie that, um, took a little poetic license with the concept). Also, we're increasing atmospheric CO2 levels, so we're also increasing oceanic CO2 levels, and isn't it nice that CO2 + H2O => H2CO3 => H+ + HCO3-. That's right, we're acidifying the oceans, the effects of which aren't too well known.
  • insightful? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by vena (318873) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @09:38PM (#11027265)
    this criticism is pretty slack. it ignores the point of Crichton's diatribe - that being concensus is often used when there's no hard supporting science - in favour of a rib jab. E=mc2 is a quantifiable equation, as is the distance to the sun, and the effect of malnutrition. human affect on the environment, on the other hand, is not honestly quantifiable as the historical data is severely lacking in context. regardless of the simple fact that i'd look sideways at any scientist that claims we're not affecting the global climate, i'd probably look *down* on a scientist that claims it's proven.

    does that dismiss human affect on climate change? absolutely not, but there are people who believe that questioning an absolute certainty of it does dismiss it. they're wrong, they're arrogant, and they're not learning from history.
  • by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris.beau@org> on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @10:07PM (#11027525)
    > Au contraire, there is a hell of a lot of money up for grabs for any
    > 'scientist' who wants to 'disprove' global warming.

    Not really. But even if you found some funding (probably from a corp) to do some research in a 'forbidden' direction, try getting your conclusions published in a peer reviewed journal. Won't happen. And of course after that you will be blacklisted so you can change careers because you will never be accepted as a 'real scientist' again, because all 'real scientists' believe in Global Warming about like Christians believe in the Virgin Birth of Jesus.

    > The question here is not a political one.

    I'll give you that one. Politics gets into it, but at core, Global Warming is religion. If the weather warms somewhere, it is Global Warming at work. If it cools off, well that is Global Warming also. (Yes, they have theology already in the can for that one, I have seen it in action.)

    > What's controversial about this issue?

    By asking that question it is clear no rational discourse is possible with you, you too are a religious zealot. Hopefully others reading this thread are less invested in the theory to reject all discussion out of hand on the issue. I'll not reguritate the other side here, that is what Google is for. Suffice to say that despite twenty years of vigorous politically correct intellectual supression there are still a few intellectually independent souls standing up and shouting that you guys are full of it.

    Are they right? Not really sure myself, but they do make some good points, enough that calls to close discussion and move on to dismantling Western Civilivation in response to a -potential threat- is somewhat rash in my humble opinion.

    Then if one is politically aware, one notices that the loudest voices in the Global Warming crowd also want to dismantle Western Civilivation for any of a dozen other totally unrelated reasons, a little more suspicion is justified.

    Then add in the Russians just ratified Kyoto so of course the drums are beating like mad for us to be 'reasonable' and sign on and the timing is just SO convienient. Politics and Religion aligned is almost never a good thing, and that is exactly what we have here.
  • by bill_kress (99356) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @10:13PM (#11027570)
    All the examples seem to be cases of a newer idea being overshadowed by old beliefs until the new idea becomes impossible to ignore.

    Kinda like global warming.

    Also, if you threw out the crackpots and the unsubstantiated claims from any of your examples, the results would seriously skew towards the "true facts".

    Kind of like what happened with this report.

    Finally, when most of the world was able to ignore the fact that it was round, it probably occurred to people to use words like Consensus to describe the shape. Even though it's scientifically obvious that global warming exists and is caused by humans, there are still people able to deceive themselves--so we use examples like this.

    It's strange how some otherwise intelligent people are so adamant about points like this--almost like they have a personal stake in being right. I never got that.
  • by Archie Steel (539670) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @10:19PM (#11027615)
    Any time you see every scientist agree...

    All scientists agree that the Earth is round.

    All scientists agree that the sun is made up of Hydrogen.

    All scientists agree that gravity pulls things down.

    All scientists agree that smoking is bad for you.

    All scientists agree that splitting the atom will produce energy.

    Why is it that when all scientists agree that human activity is having an effect on Global Climate, all of a sudden your hear all these people begin to doubt them. Claiming that all that these scientists care about is their funding is ludicrous, because many of them will get funding either way. Of course, those that are really into money, like Bjorn Lomborg, will actually argue against the mounting evidence. In exchange they'll get huge grants from industries whose profits might be diminished by scientific enquiry. And those who doubt only when scientists challenge their love for their SUVs, like ostriches, will be happy to put their heads back in the sand and say: see, there's a couple of scientists who say that Global Climate change isn't happening. They must be right!

    Personally, I'd rather not take the chance. If Global Warming has only a 10% chance of being true, then the odds are still way too high, because the consequences are catastrophic.

    So, in response to you, I say that if every scientist agrees (or at least no scientist disagrees) that Global Climate Change threatens us, then we should be very concerned. We should fund their studies, and if we find out that they misused the funds or overstated the threat in order to get more money, we can always cut that funding. In other words, unlike the most catastrophic scenarios linked to Global Warming, it's a reversible mistake.

    Better safe than sorry, especially when the future of humanity is at stake.
  • by Analogy Man (601298) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @10:29PM (#11027699)
    And of course after that you will be blacklisted so you can change careers because you will never be accepted as a 'real scientist' again, because all 'real scientists' believe in Global Warming about like Christians believe in the Virgin Birth of Jesus.

    Unlike Christianity, science is not a religion. The "truth" is based on the basis of observation and data. If someone had compelling data that say North American deforestation was a natural process and not due to the timber and pulp industries cutting of trees and conversion of that land to agriculture, industry, and mini-marts, it would be published. In this case as in the case of global warming there is compelling evidence that there are human factors.

    If scientists cannot agree whether mean temperatures will rise by 3 degrees or 5 degrees, it is not particularly fair to dismiss their theories outright.

    Sound policy in my opinion would be to immediatly consider at least the easier reductions in our emissions. It certainly won't harm anything. In the decades when some were in denial of the harmful effects of smoking would it have been unhealthy to quit?

  • by king-manic (409855) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @10:43PM (#11027839)
    "In other news, 75% of the owners of McDonald's franchises believe that including McDonald's in your diet is not a bad idea. The other 25% had no opinion but that may be because they didn't stop munching on their Big Mac.
    This is not surprising at all. Very few human beings bite the hands that feed them and scientists are human--those in academia are especially human and especially political. They're not going to be out there proving that global warming isn't happening or that it is a natural phenomenon when doing so, in sufficient numbers, will guarantee that funding will dry up on the topic and they'll have to find another research gravy train.

    This also doesn't consider how many studies may have been done, submitted for publishing, and rejected. This could be just as much a political condemnation on those that decide whether or not a study is worthy of being published as it is any comment on the validity of global warming and/or its possible human sources.

    Any time you see every scientist agree (or at least no scientist disagree) on a very controversial topic, be very suspicious.

    "


    And your basically saying "I have no credible proof of my side of the agrument, so it must mean all the credible proof is magically hidden from us".

    There as much money to be maid refuting global warming (Halberton and the auto-industry would dearly love to see a credible study refuting climate change) as there are supporting global warming.
  • by de Selby (167520) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @10:52PM (#11027908)
    "Appeal to Authority (they're climate scientists therefore their beliefs must be the truth) and Appeal to Majority (most believe it therefore it's true)."

    You've got the word of "appeal to authority" but not the spirit. It's a mistake to rely only on authority to justify something (because reasoning and evidence are the only things that justify), but in the case of climate scientists they supposedly determine the truth as best as anyone can on this subject, using reason and evidence. It's proxy reasoning; not necessarily authority.

    Or, to maybe put it better, it's an authority only because it's a good thing to appeal to. You can't throw it out because it made it that far.

    Same with "appeal to majority". If we were talking about a simple survey of the ignorant, majority would mean nothing. And if this were deduction, it would be bad deduction. But this is about who's argument is more convincing, and thus most likely to be true (or truer). You could not perfom a survey on a better sample to determine who's argument is more convincing on this topic.
  • by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris.beau@org> on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @10:58PM (#11027958)
    > Unlike Christianity, science is not a religion.

    No, but all too many 'scientists' are Gaians or worse. And it isn't ALL scientists, just the ones who spout this stuff like it was settled fact. Of course they are the only voices you will hear in the mainstream press. Or the scientific papers, because disenting voices can't make it past peer review and scientists being generally above average in intelligence know this so would tend to not bother attempting to publish a career ending paper.

    > If scientists cannot agree whether mean temperatures will rise by 3
    > degrees or 5 degrees, it is not particularly fair to dismiss their
    > theories outright.

    Yes it is. Because unless their predictions can follow reality fairly close one can't believe their CONCLUSIONS as to cause. If the earth is warming because it is SUPPOSED to be warming, say due to the documented increase in sunspot activity being related to increased solar output, then Kyoto means destroying our economy just to boost the self esteem of a few hippy freaks.

    > Sound policy in my opinion would be to immediatly consider at least
    > the easier reductions in our emissions.

    Why? Under what authority do you lay claim to dictate how me and others live our lives? If a proven danger to thee, me and everyone exists, then yes our government then has a duty to act in the common defense as provided for in the Constituition. But until the threat is at LEAST as proven as Saddam's threat was; please piss off and stop trying to run everyone else's life.

    > It certainly won't harm anything.

    Unless you happen to be one of the ones who loses their livelihood in the economic chaos that signing Kyoto would bring.

    > In the decades when some were in denial of the harmful effects of
    > smoking would it have been unhealthy to quit?

    The data on smoking was pretty damned clear. The Tobacco industry was forced to keep up a front on the issue because they realized what the trial lawyers were trying to do... what they DID do eventually. There ain't too many people alive today who didn't (or shouldn't have) know that smoking was bad for you when they lit their first one. Bad example.
  • by Eric Damron (553630) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @11:01PM (#11027978)
    You might want to think of someone other than yourself for a change. Our children and our children's children maybe...
  • by letxa2000 (215841) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @11:20PM (#11028139)
    Me: Any time you see every scientist agree... You: All scientists agree that the Earth is round. All scientists agree that the sun is made up of Hydrogen. All scientists agree that gravity pulls things down. All scientists agree that smoking is bad for you. All scientists agree that splitting the atom will produce energy.

    I knew that was coming when I posted it. That's why my original post was written "Any time you see every scientist agree on a very controversial topic, be very suspicious." The issues you mentioned are not controversial.

    Convenient quoting on your part. Usually indicative of an agenda.

    Why is it that when all scientists agree that human activity is having an effect on Global Climate, all of a sudden your hear all these people begin to doubt them.

    If all scientists truly agreed that human activity is having an effect on global climate (lower case is fine) then I don't think you'd have a lot of people doubting them (not just beginning, we've doubted them for a long time!). The fact is that all scientists do not agree this is true. The only thing this article proves is that the collection of articles they selected from the subset of scientific literature that they deemed worthy of reviewing supports their conclusion. You don't even have to be a scientist to recognize just how hokey the whole basis for this article is.

    Claiming that all that these scientists care about is their funding is ludicrous

    I'm not claiming it's the only thing they care about. But you're naive if you think it doesn't enter their mind.

    ... because many of them will get funding either way.

    Oh really? Who is going to fund research proving that global warming is not real. Industry, that's about it. So they'll be quickly labeled an industry stooge by their colleagues (just as you did in your message) and their standing in the community will go down. Not because they're wrong but because they're going against the grain.

    And those that would (or would have) funded research to prove that global warming is not ocurring has already done that. We know that there is a lot of doubt regarding global warming. Anyone with an open mind and critical thinking skills can recognize that there is more than reasonable doubt as to the accuracy of the predictions of the pro-global warming crowd. As their models become "more accurate" their predictions of natural calamities slowly become less and less severe. And they spend more time engaging in gloom and doom and explaining why the satellite record doesn't confirm their predictions than actually getting real science done.

    In exchange they'll get huge grants from industries whose profits might be diminished by scientific enquiry.

    Or by "junk science." Take your pick of terms.

    Personally, I'd rather not take the chance. If Global Warming has only a 10% chance of being true, then the odds are still way too high, because the consequences are catastrophic.

    Sorry, that's extremism talking. If there is a 10% chance of it being true and it's going to cost a trillion dollars worldwide to fix the problem then we had better be avoiding at least $10 trillion worth of damage. If not then it was not a worthwhile investment. It may be cheaper to just move the people that live too close to the ocean than to try to keep the ocean from rising and pay a little more in insurance for the supposedly more frequent severe storms.

    Not to mention no-one really knows what the consequences of global warming is if it's true. All we have are models created by scientists that find themselves, quite frankly, in a position of power and public importance that scientists would not normally find themselves.

    So, in response to you, I say that if every scientist agrees (or at least no scientist disagrees) that Global Climate Change threatens us, then we should be very concerned.

  • Re:Lies (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dubl-u (51156) * <2523987012.pota@to> on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @11:21PM (#11028149)
    There is no reason to sign the treaty.

    Aside from impending climate change, of course.

    There are countries who are largely hardly even bound by it (China)

    China just recently joined the WTO, but that doesn't mean we should have waited for them. If we want to be a global leader, a good way to do it would be by leading.

    and it would put our sovreignty in jeapardy. [sic]

    Sorry, I missed the provision of the treaty where it said that the carbon police could annex territory or replace the president if we didn't cut emissions. Could you point that part out to me?

    Besides, through our own regulation we've already cut our emissions by half since about 1972.

    Based on what data? Government data [ornl.gov] says there's been a 25% rise from 1972 to 2000. And as far as I know, there are no CO2 emissions regulations in the US yet. Could you point us at them?
  • by jmorris42 (1458) * <jmorris.beau@org> on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @11:34PM (#11028296)
    > You are simply suffering under a conspiracy theory view of Science if
    > you believe otherwise.

    Ignore the political biases of the Global Warming crowd, ignore everything but blatent self interest, and unless you want to be laughed at you must admit that scientists are human and subject to act in their self interest. At this point in the game, if someone DID debunk Global Warming and managed to get published, how many climatologists would still have careers since every last one of them has staked their professional reputations on this theory being fact? No, at this point is is illogical to expect reason from the scientists on this issue. Religion clouded their judgement and now they are in too deep to even consider whether they were wrong.

    > Again, I'm not going to reject out of hand any discussion based on
    > evidence and a scientific understanding of that evidence out of hand.

    Ok, then consider these items:

    1. Sunspot activity has been increasing over most of the 20th century. If Mr. Sun is responsible it is natural climate change.

    2. To the best of my knowledge, No computer models exists that can be loaded with 1900 and then allowed to run and produce the 20th century without a lot of unexplained fudge factors to make it come out right. No model exists which has been allowed to run into the future and then checked with what actually happened a decade later has produced a match.

    3. Very few records of long term tempratures exist where the measuring station is not now inside a urban heat dome.

    Taken together, just those three items means we can't say with confidence the temp is actually currently rising globally, and even if it is we can't say whether our actions are responsible. And we can't make any sort of meaningful predictions as to how much it might go up, whether other forces will act to accelerate or moderate any rise, etc. Basically all we CAN say is global and regional tempratures change over time and they may or may not be changing now.

    Yes there is also a lot of very compelling evidence on the other side, but not enough to call the matter settled, and in my opinion not enough to justify preemtive war against ourselves that will certainly cause massive social and economic harm.

    > I'm quite unable to see how shifting from oil to uranium amounts to a
    > dismantling of Western Civilization.

    Why not call for Fusion power while you are at it. Too many (so called) Scientists are just as religiously opposed to anything related to the N word to seriously consider it as an option. To get a paniced retreat from fossil fuels would require the Global Warming zealots to be in political ascendence and that means they would say no to more reactors.

    I'd say build reactors to get us away from depending on Middle Eastern Oil, and that argument is equally valid whether Global Warming is real, natural, wrong or an outright hoax. And if the Earth does start warming we can always just orbit some mylar sheets and block a fraction of a percent of the Sun until we rebalance, problems we create by being overly clever primates we can probably fix the same way, especially ones that operate over such a long time horizon.
  • Re:Nero fiddling (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Capsaicin (412918) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @11:36PM (#11028314)

    What I am trying to say is, people have made careers out of studying global warming. If they all suddenly came out with research showing that global warming doesn't exist or is naturally occurring, it would be the end of their careers. Grant money would dry up. Most people are unwilling to self-terminate their careers, so they engineer research (intentionally or not), that will assure them more grant money and continuance of their field of study.

    As has been pointed out above, there is more money out there available to people to want to show that global warming is not a result of human activity. If you could come up with a plausible mechanism which explains the observed climatic changes, and totally discounts anthropogenic causes, you would not be wanting for funding.

    In any case your reply is not really pertinent to my post. Your theory doesn't explain, for instance, the climatic change that has already been observed, nor why the insurance industry (which does not fund itself by grants) is so concerned about the impact of climate change.

    Scepticism is ususally a very healthy thing. When it is coupled with a conspiracy theory, however, it can be pathological. It really is a bit late in the piece to be indulging in this kind of fantasy my friend.

  • by Xabraxas (654195) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @11:41PM (#11028367)
    If the earth is warming because it is SUPPOSED to be warming, say due to the documented increase in sunspot activity being related to increased solar output, then Kyoto means destroying our economy just to boost the self esteem of a few hippy freaks.

    Are you utterly clueless? Have you seen the Los Angeles skyline, or worse Mexico City? Decreasing emissions is beneficial whether or not they cause global warming. The first thing the government should be thinking about is the health of the people, not the economy.

  • by Mr_Matt (225037) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @11:44PM (#11028397)
    Are you an atmospheric scientist? You make some good points, but your general attitude leads me to believe that you don't have much experience in dealing with scientists. To wit:
    • Scientists think about funding, but pushing an agenda to acheive funding is ultimately a career-limiting move when the political pendulum shifts, as it has in recent years. And as with most things, the scientific ego supercedes the need to seek acceptance through funding - scientists will push theories they believe in, and try to swing funding their way, not vice versa.
    • Have you actually read any of the literature regarding climate change? It doesn't sound like it - you don't see much politicizing in peer-reviewed journals. Certainly the exacting of personal/institutional spats occurs, but the literature certainly doesn't read the way you imply it does.
    • I don't think stating that no scientific paper reviewed discounts anthropomorphic climate change will have a chilling effect on climate research: scientists are well aware that correlation is not the same as causation, after all. When reliable evidence that supports the theory that climate change occurs independent of human activity surfaces, it will be published. When reliable evidence that supports the theory that climate change occurs because of human activity, it will also be published. Until then, we'll continue to study the mechanisms behind climate change and look for links. It's just that simple.
    • The Science article merely states that the bulk of peer-reviewed literature allows for the possibility of anthropogenic climate change, nothing more. Anything you read into it sounds more like your agenda than anything else.
    Anyways, take it as you will - I doubt seriously you're prepared to think critically about this topic. But making blanket statements accusing scientists of massive malfeasance to further a political agenda that counters your own smacks more of conspiracy theory than a reasoned argument, and it certainly doesn't impress the average scientific Slashdot reader.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 08, 2004 @12:24AM (#11028749)

    Ignore the political biases of the Global Warming crowd, ignore everything but blatent self interest, and unless you want to be laughed at you must admit that scientists are human and subject to act in their self interest.

    I started off by arguing that self-interest would lead scientists from accepting the much more lucrative funding which is available to the skeptics. In any case you cleary are indulging a consipracy view here, which leaves little room for sane discussion, so next topic.

    Sunspot activity

    You really believe this isn't (has been) incorporated into the models?

    No computer models exists that can be loaded with 1900 and then allowed to run and produce the 20th century.

    Two things. 1. Agree, computer models are just complex models. I'm unconvinced that the specific predictions being made will come to pass. On the other hand, it is beyond doubt that singificantly altering the constitution of the atmosphere will have climatic implications. It is also beyond doubt that climatic changes, which are not inconsistent with theoretical predictions are being observed. You need also to remember the geological record.

    2. Your statement seems to indicate that you are confusing a model with a simulation.

    Very few records of long term tempratures exist where the measuring station is not now inside a urban heat dome.

    A valid argument in 1989, but no longer in 2004. You will find peer reviewed papers from this era pointing that out (which argues against your conspiracy theory). In the meantime the instrumental record has been corrected for this effect. There's no longer any doubt about warming. Nowadays even the most extremist skeptic only argues about the anthropogenic nature thereof.

    Why not call for Fusion power while you are at it.

    Simple. It's not a proven technology (or any technology). I might as well called for solar, wind etc. power. But you haven't answered my question, which was "how does moving from oil to uranium amount to a dismantling of Western Civilization?"

    Being overly clever primates we can probably fix the same way, especially ones that operate over such a long time horizon.

    Yes, but what about immediate time problems like global warming? We think we are overly clever primates, but the very fact that we are still arguing about whether a problem exists, rather than getting on and fixing it would seem to evidence the opposite.

  • by mr_e_cat (611996) on Wednesday December 08, 2004 @02:18AM (#11029488)
    but at core, Global Warming is religion

    You are using a conspiracy theory to argue against a scientific theory. You may be right but your arguments are less than rigorous.

    I would like to see some actual scientific rebuttal of the available evidence for global warming (and there is some, Ice cores, melting glaciers etc. Also there is no doubt that CO2 levels are much higher).

    Fight science with science. Not just a conspiracy theory.
  • Re:I'll be dead... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Fizzl (209397) <[fizzl] [at] [fizzl.net]> on Wednesday December 08, 2004 @02:45AM (#11029612) Homepage Journal
    Just wait 'till you have kids.
  • by Martin Spamer (244245) on Wednesday December 08, 2004 @05:29AM (#11030208) Homepage Journal
    is that all these are consensus despite the evidence, global warming is a consensus because of the evidence.
  • by Mant (578427) on Wednesday December 08, 2004 @05:41AM (#11030258) Homepage

    No, but all too many 'scientists' are Gaians or worse.

    Some scientists in the environmental areas do subscribe to the Gaia Hypothesis, but even that has many levels. At it's most basic it means treating the whole ecosystem as a macro-organism. It doesn't mean you think the Earth is one living creature, or you are some tree-hugging hippy, just because some of those people believe in the more extreme end of the hypothesis.

    Of course they are the only voices you will hear in the mainstream press.

    You must have missed that whole Slashdot thread based on a Wired article, about how media's desire to show both sides of the argument in cases like global warming meant they had to hunt around for people on the "humans have no effect side". The mainstream press was out there looking for these guys, but all they could find was people in the pay of companies. The whole thing was about how they got a disproportionately large amount of media coverage in the name of balanced reporting.

    Or the scientific papers, because dissenting voices can't make it past peer review and scientists being generally above average in intelligence know this so would tend to not bother attempting to publish a career ending paper.

    Proving the rest of the scientific community wrong is about the best career move you can make. Scientific history is full of examples, indeed, the whole scientific process relies on it. Science establishes a consensus, until there is sufficient evidence against it,

    If nobody brought up anything against the current scientific consensus, science would never move anywhere. Your tinfoil hat ideas about how science work just undermine your whole credibility.

    If a proven danger to thee, me and everyone exists, then yes our government then has a duty to act in the common defence as provided for in the Constitution.

    It would be nice if life always gave us all the information we need before making a decision. Sometimes though, it doesn't. You have to try and assess the risks, and potential consequences, if you wait too long for proof, it will be too late.

    Unless you happen to be one of the ones who loses their livelihood in the economic chaos that signing Kyoto would bring.

    Because all those other countries that signed up are head straight for economic chaos, right? Kyoto has flaws, but those aren't an excuse for doing nothing because you don't want to upset big business. It looks to the rest of the world like the US Government isn't just showing some scepticism, which would be no bad thing, but sticking its fingers in its ears and going 'la la la' to the topic. As irrationally opposed to the concept as these fiendish "worse than Gaian" types whose danger you highlight for us.

  • by bw_bur (634734) on Wednesday December 08, 2004 @06:41AM (#11030454)
    I'm a scientist (though not a climatologist) and I find it incredibly frustrating to read posts like this.

    They're not going to be out there proving that global warming isn't happening or that it is a natural phenomenon when doing so, in sufficient numbers, will guarantee that funding will dry up on the topic and they'll have to find another research gravy train.

    This is pretty offensive. Research is not a "gravy train": it's something we do because it's stimulating, challenging and interesting. Scientists don't want to spend their lives working on ideas that they know are wrong.

    That's not to say that they we are never wrong, and many of the greatest leaps in our understanding came about when someone went against the general consensus. However, what you're suggesting is that scientists are wilfully suppressing the truth because it's in their own personal interest.

    This also doesn't consider how many studies may have been done, submitted for publishing, and rejected. This could be just as much a political condemnation on those that decide whether or not a study is worthy of being published as it is any comment on the validity of global warming and/or its possible human sources.

    There is an excellent response to this point later in the thread, by someone involved in scientific publishing.

    Any time you see every scientist agree (or at least no scientist disagree) on a very controversial topic, be very suspicious.

    Why? The subject is only controversial because (if true) it means we have to make some painful changes to our lifestyles. Just because that's hard to swallow doesn't make it a conspiracy by the scientific community.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 08, 2004 @06:47AM (#11030468)
    Scientists think a LOT about funding, esp. those in academic circles (yes, there are scientists outside academic circles). When funding gets cut off or reduced, the submissions to acquire new funding increases of course BUT ALSO the reasonings for that funding is adapted to the current political environment.

    You state the previous poster hadn't read the breadth of literature. Frankly, I doubt you have either, or at least literature from both sides of the aisle, no matter how ridiculous.

    More importantly, I highly doubt you ever sat on a funding review board. Or in a lab where funding was drastically cut. If you had, you'll see the scientists change their views very quickly. If they do not, they don't work.

    Your talk about the recent political changes affecting science--sorry, that smacks of partiality. Why? Because it always clearly was. Science is and has always had political ties, from warfare to social policy, even raw economics. Alchemists, gold. Chemistry, weaponry. Physics, bombs and sonar. Clearly, an agenda is set not only in practicality but funding as well.

    No politicizing in peer-review journals? Are you freakin kidding me? Maybe you were trying to limit this to the papers themselves, but that's not what you said. The journals themselves clearly do not. To me, this shows clearly you are nutcase that has lost all sense of impartiality in understanding your own profession, mistake or not. Nearly every substantial peer-review journal have letters to the editor. Many have commentary by established members on the hot article of that issue. Read them. You'll see the slants.

    Furthermore, read the background of many of the reviewers. Many have big time slants. What becomes the prominant emphasis or puts one article over the top of another in order or what goes bold on the cover easily matches the expertise of the reviewers, not the value or worth of the papers themselves.

    Then again, you'd like to say the Science article doesn't really say much and should be read in a vacuum. Sorry, it reeks, if only for the bad timing to Kyoto.
  • by Tau Zero (75868) on Wednesday December 08, 2004 @07:51PM (#11037390) Journal
    In a blatant examples of seeing others as you see yourself, you wrote:
    No, at this point is is illogical to expect reason from the scientists on this issue. Religion clouded their judgement and now they are in too deep to even consider whether they were wrong.
    Oh, yeah. Like the General Relativity skeptics refused to consider themselves wrong after the 1919 solar eclipse showed that gravity bends light. Or like skeptic geologists refused to consider themselves wrong when continental drift was proven. Or the doctors who had been skeptical of the infectious theory of ulcers refused to consider themselves wrong when helicobacter pylorii was discovered, cultured and proven to be capable of causing ulcers by infection (and of curing ulcers using antibiotics to kill the infection). They all stuck to their orthodoxy to save their careers.

    Oh, wait, none of that happened. So why are you claiming that scientists are close-minded?

    There are a few things that are known beyond any principled denial:

    1. Earth is roughly 50 degrees F warmer than a body with its absorptive characteristics would be at our distance from the Sun, absent other influences. (Venus is an extreme example.) This proves the greenhouse effect.
    2. The greenhouse effect is due to a number of gases in the atmosphere, including carbon dioxide.
    3. Adding more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, particularly non-condensible ones, will have a warming effect on the Earth.
    Now, you can have principled disputes about the interactions of mechanisms at work (greenhouse vs. reflective clouds), but you cannot deny that increasing the concentration of the most important non-condensible greenhouse gas by a large fraction is certain to do something. I see you dismissing the entire concept as religious dogma; it appears to me that your dismissal is itself dogma, like the political attempt to dismiss evolution from biology classes.

    You also engage in non-sequiturs.

    Yes there is also a lot of very compelling evidence on the other side, but not enough to call the matter settled, and in my opinion not enough to justify preemtive war against ourselves that will certainly cause massive social and economic harm.
    You are using a claim of economic damage to deny a scientific conclusion which suggests a need for action. Well, gee, if I posit a scientific conclusion about the way that cholera and typhoid are spread it might suggest a need for billions of dollars of investment in water treatment systems! Our budgets are too tight, so by your "reasoning" my conclusion has to be wrong.

    Or maybe it's time for you to realize that the world isn't always as you like it. In other words, grow up.

  • by ccmay (116316) on Thursday December 09, 2004 @01:20AM (#11039493)
    Can you and your thinkalike buddies fix it them so the rest of us is ok? (sic)

    Can you? Or your thinkalike buddies?

    Even if I grant that global warming is occurring, do you have a shred of proof that things like the Kyoto Protocol will result in a net benefit to the welfare of most people? Ever hear of unintended consequences?

    Poverty kills [typepad.com], and if there is one thing we can take as near certain based on experience, it is that collectivist prescriptions from the watermelon Left will result in increased poverty and misery.

Thus mathematics may be defined as the subject in which we never know what we are talking about, nor whether what we are saying is true. -- Bertrand Russell

Working...