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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.
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Consensus on Global Warming

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  • by stecoop (759508) * on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @04:51PM (#11024254) Journal
    So Should I be Running climate prediction.net [ox.ac.uk] on my P4 Prescott or not?
    • by tolan-b (230077) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @05:05PM (#11024500)
      No because the heat generated by the Prescott's core far outweighs the benefits to the research ;)
  • by Draoi (99421) * <.moc.cam. .ta. .thcoiard.> on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @04:52PM (#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 :-))

    • It does matter (Score:4, Informative)

      by daveschroeder (516195) * on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @05:00PM (#11024408)
      And the US supports the principles of Kyoto, but does NOT support the exemption of countries termed "developing", like China [wikipedia.org].
      • Re:It does matter (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @05:17PM (#11024686)
        China has signed the treaty and is expected to become an Annex 1 country before 2015. Since the United States wouldn't be required to meet polution reduction deadlines until 2010, it wouldn't leave much time that China would be free from the same regulations as the United States. China really isn't a good excuse anymore...
    • by Wateshay (122749) <bill.nagel@nOsPam.gmail.com> on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @05:00PM (#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 Scarblac (122480) <slashdot@gerlich.nl> on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @05:13PM (#11024620) Homepage

        I agree with you that Kyoto will probably not do all that much; however, it is a start. The point of Kyoto is that it is intended to lead to a stricter treaty after Kyoto's goals have been met in 2010 (fat chance, but anything is better than nothing).

        Of course, if the US wants to propose a much stricter treaty that will cut back their output to something more in line with what the rest of the world does per capita so that actually might be significant, the rest of the world would welcome that!

        That said, I guess I mostly agree with the second FA, which explains that we're mostly fucked, probably within our lifetime.

    • by raider_red (156642) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @05:03PM (#11024475) Journal
      You mean the treaty that Clinton wouldn't even submit for ratification by the Senate? And about which the Senate passed a resolution 95-0 stating that they would not ratify if it was submitted?
      • by e_lehman (143896) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @05:29PM (#11024863)
        The 95-0 vote was in 1997. In a 2003 vote on emissions reductions, the vote was 55-43. Attitudes are changing.

        Furthermore, a major objection to Kyoto was that it does not require emissions reductions from third-world countries. However, the major third-world producer of CO2-- China-- has been steadily reducing it's emissions anyway. So that argument isn't so compelling anymore. (Then again, they're at 1/8 the US level per capita anyway...)
    • 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'.

      Well, the Bush administration is pushing hard for renewed development of nuclear power, which is the third recommendation urged by the panel of scientists in the linked article.
    • by radinator (805064) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @05:13PM (#11024621)
      "Unfair is one nation producing over 25% of global CO2 emissions ..."

      "...and produce 31% of the worlds output." Conveniently, you forgot this part. Seems a common oversight.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @05:27PM (#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 nomel (244635)
        But, you also have to consider how much of that output we consume ourselves.
      • 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 we
  • Great (Score:5, Insightful)

    by daveschroeder (516195) * on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @04:53PM (#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.
    • Re:Great (Score:3, Insightful)

      by eln (21727)
      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
      • Re:Great (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        The Bush Administration rejects the Kyoto protocols

        True. But even if Bush were all over Kyoto, Congress would never ratify it. It's a non-starter. If you can sell it to Congress, then maybe you can finger-point at Bush.

        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.

        Great! Let's start building the nuclear power plants now. And let's fund development of hydrogen as an infrastructu
      • by kippy (416183) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @05:19PM (#11024722)
        The Bush Administration rejects the Kyoto protocols, whether for good reasons or not, and then refuses to do anything else about global warming.

        Bullshit.

        14 Nations to Participate in Plan to Reduce Methane [washingtonpost.com]

        This is largely driven by the US and it includes India and China. It'll have the same greenhouse effect as removing 7% of US fleet of cars from the road and it costs next to nothing.

        Just because Bush doesn't sign up to a program with name recognition, doesn't mean the US government isn't doing anything.
      • Re:Great (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Martin Blank (154261) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @05:49PM (#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.
    • Re:Great (Score:4, Insightful)

      by wwest4 (183559) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @05:09PM (#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:3, Interesting)

        by daveschroeder (516195) *
        The US isn't being unfairly singled out in any of the articles posted.

        No, but it will be in most of the replies to this article.

        What is unremarkable about that?

        You just took two unrelated things I said and strung them together.

        What's not remarkable is the idea that experts consider human activity related to global warming. The article insinuates that there is serious, credible opposition to this idea. There isn't. There may be disagreements on degrees of impact, but everyone agrees human activity is
  • by the_mighty_$ (726261) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @04:53PM (#11024283)
    The official EPA Global Warming website is located at: www.epa.gov/globalwarming/ [epa.gov]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @04:53PM (#11024293)
    Mars Emerging from Ice Age, Data Suggest
    By SPACE.com
    posted: 03:00 pm ET
    08 December 2003

    Scientists have suspected in recent years that Mars might be undergoing some sort of global warming. New data points to the possibility it is emerging from an ice age.

    full story at http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/mars_ice-age _031208.html [space.com]
    • by mrn121 (673604) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @05:06PM (#11024520) Homepage
      Scientists have suspected in recent years that Mars might be undergoing some sort of global warming. New data points to the possibility it is emerging from an ice age.

      See, that's what happens when we start putting vehicles on Mars [cnn.com], too. That thing isn't aerosol powered, is it?

    • by FatRatBastard (7583) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @05:50PM (#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 Daniel Dvorkin (106857) * on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @07:13PM (#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 kellman (8394) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @08:03PM (#11026969) Journal
          But what he is talking about is scientific assumptions not based on scientific evidence or where the evidence is insufficient to prove any point at all.

          Many other people have done Einstein's equations and arrived at the same result. Many other people have measured the distance to the sun and arrived at the same conclusion.

          People were dismissing pellagra as being related to malnutrition, yet they were not using the scientific method to dispute Goldberger, just their guess that it must be a germ. Not only that but even worse, they were prejudiced that it must be a germ because they didn't want to have to make social changes for some medical epidemic.

          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.

          "Because that's what the consensus tells him."
          And what has the consensus told you?
          • 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 co
        • insightful? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by vena (318873) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @08:38PM (#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 Jhon (241832) * on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @04:54PM (#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".
    • by EnderWiggnz (39214) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @05:00PM (#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.
    • 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 p

      • that's pretty. (Score:3, Interesting)

        by vena (318873)
        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.

        what wonderfully circular logic. don't question an article for its lack of information, as doing so is devoid of information. wow.
  • Danger danger! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nizo (81281) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @04:54PM (#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 lucabrasi999 (585141) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @04:56PM (#11024349) Journal

    From the article:

    The American Meteorological Society (6), the American Geophysical Union (7), and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) all have issued statements in recent years concluding that the evidence for human modification of climate is compelling (8).

    The American Meteorological Society and the American Geophysica Union? What a bunch of communists. They are just trying to destroy our way of life. They don't want me to live my life the way I want. Now, where did I park my Ford Explorer? I gotta run and buy a pack of smokes...

  • by gargonia (798684) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @04:57PM (#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.
    • 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,
      • Volcanic activity does not contribute much to greenhouse warming. The average annual output of CO2 from volcanic activity is far less than 1% what human activity emits. Volcanos also emit sulphur dioxide and ash which helps cool the planet by reflecting radiation back in to space.

        On average, volcanos emit 200 million tons of CO2 per year. Human activity averages 26 BILLION tons per year.

        See here [fs.fed.us], here [csiro.au] or here [nodak.edu], taken from an earlier Slashdot thread [slashdot.org].

    • by anthony_dipierro (543308) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @05:28PM (#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 Dystopian Rebel (714995) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @04:57PM (#11024371) Journal
    Oh come now, you panicky Chicken Littles in lab coats!

    We can just hide in our SUVs. They have heated seats.

  • Tobacco (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bombadillo (706765) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @04:59PM (#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 ajs (35943) <ajsNO@SPAMajs.com> on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @05:01PM (#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 Garse Janacek (554329) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @05:56PM (#11025316)
      Okay, this shows such a poor understanding of the concept of a peer reviewed journal that I'm not even sure how to respond.

      For starters, how many papers were rejected from the peer review process is almost entirely irrelevant. The peer review process is in place for a reason, and the reason is to ensure that bad science (not politically unpleasant conclusions) are not published in major journals. Unless you have a strong reason to believe that most peer reviewers have a strong personal stake in suppressing legitimate research because they don't like the conclusions, then this objection is bunk. We aren't talking about a 60-40 split on a controversial subject -- no papers that contradicted human involvement in global warming made it through the process. What possible benefit would it be to any of those reviewers to suppress opposing opinions? They have no personal stake one way or the other, except arguably their reputations, and that presupposes that there is not a single scientist that has done enough legitimate research to be a peer reviewer and yet still thinks global warming isn't a human issue (or at most, no more than a handful) -- a strong argument for thinking global warming is a significant issue, as far as I'm concerned.

      You also rant about how these papers are only published because people don't want to lose funding by being perceived as anti-environment. It seems fairly evident that the current government establishment would be most served by producing strong evidence that global warming is not a serious issue -- so why would it be more politically safe to contradict the notion that things are okay, and question the status quo? If people wanted "safe" conclusions to ensure their funding, they would be saying that global warming is no big deal. Furthermore, you seem to be implying that no funding exists for the production of honest results. Again, this isn't a 60-40 split -- if anyone, even a single person, has ever received funding to do legitimate research on this subject, and has come up with findings against human involvement, it has not been able to make it through a peer review, which probably means that it used questionable methods or was otherwise flawed. Peer reviewers are not as politically motivated as you seem to suppose.

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

      A valid question, but one that is entirely irrelevant until you have shown that this fear actually exists.

  • by Saeger (456549) <farrellj@gmai l . c om> on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @05:02PM (#11024452) Homepage
    ...is being suckered into accepting the neutral "Climate Change" euphemism, which downplays its significance. I wonder who started that trend?...Hmm...
    • by dankelley (573611) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @05:29PM (#11024873)
      The phrase is not a euphemism. It's a recognition of the fact that we care about more than just global averages and we care about more than temperature.

      The world-averaged temperature could remain unchanged by cooling some regions and warming others, and both things could be difficult in terms of crop adjustment, etc. And there is a lot of concern about water as well as heat; think drought.

      The expanded phrase also includes the "climate of weather", i.e. the slowly varying statistics of the quickly varying fields. For example, we ask whether the weather would be more stormy in the future.

      I've never heard it said that climate change is a euphemism ... to folks like me who work in this field, it's a more encompassing phrase.

  • Inexpensive land? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nizo (81281) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @05:04PM (#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) <bill.nagel@nOsPam.gmail.com> on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @05:06PM (#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 geneing (756949) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @05:17PM (#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.

  • by serutan (259622) <snoopdoug AT geekazon DOT com> on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @05:33PM (#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 Cally (10873) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @06:21PM (#11025658) Homepage
    I've been getting gincreasingly despondent reading climate change stories on Slashdot over the last few years, seeing well-established science ridiculed and ignored by people apparently intelligent enough to know better. In particular I see the same tired old straw man arguments, deliberate canards, propaganda, misinterpretion and plain ol' ignorance trotted out again and again. No doubt the comments here are full of the same nonsense - see below for my working list of tired attempts to refute rationality.

    After the most recent Slashdot story I actually steeled myself to do something about it. I re-read the whole story at Threshold 2 to gather UIDs of people who might help. The idea is to build a list of myths and authoritative answers to them. For example, the old line that the sun's getting hotter, and that this explains global warming, comes up over & over again. Many, very patient! and knowledgable people posted to that story with excellent refutations of such nonsense.

    I'm going to put my plaintext mail address in this comment, that's how serious I am about this! You can even help if you believe that Climate Change is hippie nonsense trotted out by pseudo scientists who just want more funding!!

    What I am looking for:

    • A list of skeptical objections to the hypothesis that human CO2 emissions are changing the climate, and that this is a bad thing. I don't really mind how loopy or paraniod your objections are: whatever reason you use to claim that it's nonsense, let me know so I can add it to the list.
    • More importantly - people who can help prepare authoritative, rational refutations of these assertions.

    If you have violent objections to the idea that global warming is a bad thing, please email me at the address below describing why you think this. As you will see if you hit 'see the rest of this comment', the existing list - which were collected from a single Slashdot story - is already pretty long, so this isn't so vital.

    If you can help knock down such gibberish- if you have posted with a calm, well-argued and ideally knowledgable or carefully referenced refutation of a wild claim - please email me and make yourself known; I will get in touch in the next few days.

    If you want to subscribe me to lots of spam lists, don't bother; Gmail are very good at spam filtering, you'll get yourself blacklisted when I hit 'report spam' and you won't be helping your cause one little bit.

    If you can help, mail me at:

    username: imipak; domain (at): gmail.com

    Here's the list I collected from the last Slashdot climate change story, only a few days ago, about "why anthropogenic climate change is a myth". Read it and weep.

    • We only have temperature records for the last few hundred years.
    • The sun is getting hotter.
    • Climate change == global warming - great! It's too cold where I am!
    • Climate change is pseudo-science
    • Climate change is just a theory - we should wait until it's proven before taking action
    • Climate scientists deliberately falsify and/or manufacture fake data to support the theory, because otherwise they wouldn't get grants for further research.
    • Climate science is skewed by unconcious assumptions that climate change is anthropomorphic
    • Climate change is a conspiracy by the UN or the French or Europeans or Chinese to hurt the USA
    • Volcanoes emit more CO2 than humans (several variants on this one - eg more than all humans ever, this year, etc)
    • For every scientist who predicts global warming doom and gloom, you will find as many who say that it isn't happening, or that human activity isn't a significant factor.
    • we are barely 10,000 years out of our last one, and may still be warming FROM it? 10,000 years are mere seconds in geologic time.
    • the Earth has sustained worse temperature fluxations. (variants: in human history / last 10,000 years / lifetime of the planet)
    • Cows produce methane!
    • Has the Northern Hemisphere been warming for at least the last 100 years? No question. But I would suggest that what is important is the *rate* of change -- the delta. Also important is the question: "How warm is warm?"
      Let me explain.
      Circa 900 AD or so, Eric the Red was tossed out of Iceland (he and his bunch were a tad too rowdy for the Norse already there) and began settling what was known as Greenland in the last century. At one time I used to think that Eric and his son Lief ran not only the first but a
  • by sfjoe (470510) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @06:23PM (#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 mulescent (682036) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @07:18PM (#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.

  • by Jim_Callahan (831353) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @07:33PM (#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 xant (99438) on Tuesday December 07, 2004 @08:18PM (#11027118) Homepage
    Time for rampant hedonism and fornication. We're all doomed.

    Can we get an exact date on the doom? I want to start the bacchanalia about a week before, so as to optimize my avoidance of consequences.

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