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A Countdown To Global Catastrophe? 1403

Posted by Hemos
from the you-said-crossing-the-streams-was-bad dept.
An anonymous reader writes "From The Independent: The global warming danger threshold for the world is clearly marked for the first time in an international report to be published tomorrow - and the bad news is, the world has nearly reached it already. For the full story, see this article."
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A Countdown To Global Catastrophe?

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  • Original Study? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The Snowman (116231) * on Monday January 24, 2005 @10:42AM (#11455131) Homepage

    The possibility of changes to the world's ocean currents is a very real possibility, and could have catastrophic consequences. However, they are not irreversable. I have read reports citing the fact that these currents have cycles, where every 10 or 20 thousand years they shut off, only to restart a century or two later. Yes, that would be catastrophic to us, but not to the planet. Hell, it survived a fiery birth, multiple major meteor impacts, magnetic pole reversals, caldera supervolanoes, et al. and the planet is still around. We might not be around later, but good ol' Earth sure will be.

    Does anyone have a link to the actual report? This article just sounds like more scare mongering and dumbing down. As always, the devil is in the details, I want to see the details.

  • Now what? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Dr.Opveter (806649) on Monday January 24, 2005 @10:44AM (#11455146)
    I thought we already knew we're too late fixing things up, plus some of the countries that polute the most don't really want to do much about all this anyway. Better rake in the profit before we all perish. Really, is there anything that can be done?
  • I am tired (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 24, 2005 @10:47AM (#11455171)
    I am getting so tired of this junk science. The world has been coming to an end for my entire 40+ years on this planet. Nothing has happened yet. Ain't going to happen either.

    Why has it better getting progressively colder over the past 20 years in places like Russia and China?

    Let's start worrying about REAL threats like UFOs and Pumpkinhead.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 24, 2005 @10:48AM (#11455186)
    a Swedish scientist was warning about global warming in the early 20th century. Nobody did anything then, nothing meaningful is being done now. Nothing meaningful will be done until literally hundreds of millions or billions of people are killed. The world economic system is too narrowly focused in objectives to have people work for the wider good unless all individuals' survival is directly and personally threatened.
  • Re:stupid tsunami (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 24, 2005 @10:49AM (#11455202)
    That's why they call it global warming... The global mean is rising.
  • by LegendOfLink (574790) on Monday January 24, 2005 @10:49AM (#11455204) Homepage
    We are arrogant, mankind is, to think that because of a half-century of climate fluctuations, that we are all going to die tomorrow. Please, the climate has been changing in HUGE ways for much longer than the life-span of a human being.

    Global Warming is alarmism, coming from political agendas of people who want attention. Remember how we all laughed at those people who purchased electric generators and resurrected old bomb shelters for the Y2K scare?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 24, 2005 @10:50AM (#11455209)

    The report urges all the G8 countries to agree to generate a quarter of their electricity from renewable sources by 2025, and to double their research spending on low-carbon energy technologies by 2010. It also calls on the G8 to form a climate group with leading developing nations such as India and China, which have big and growing CO2 emissions.

    Unfortunately the people who benefit the most from the current environtmentally unfriendly energy sources are the same people who are in power today (G. W. Bush), so there is a real incentive for them to just sit tight and block any such initiatives from having a real effect. The need for energy is only increasing and most people will keep ignoring this whole disaster scenario until it actually happens.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 24, 2005 @10:51AM (#11455218)
    Climate scientists are long resigned to the fact that, having increased CO2 levels through anthropogenic forcing, we really aren't prepared to stop the processes thus initiated. The fact is that our policies and technologies are woefully inadequate to handle what's going to happen.

    This doesn't mean we shouldn't work to slow the release of CO2 into the atmosphere, since continued efforts in that direction will probably (absent a "runaway Earth" scenario) have a measurable effect on climate changes. Emergent carbon sequestration technologies also offer promise, but we're in the very early stages, and beneficial effects from those technologies would also lag behind implementation.

    The nature of this panel, which includes Republican politicians as well as climate scientists, may mean that it gives added credibility to the problem we're facing. But there's nothing really "new" about this report, except that it makes explicit to the public the fact that we've stepped over the threshold of climate change.

  • by khasim (1285) <brandioch.conner@gmail.com> on Monday January 24, 2005 @10:51AM (#11455226)
    There is always some type of disaster that is "going" to happen. It's all propoganda just to keep everyone frightened into doing whatever it is the flavor of the month wants you to do. Here's an idea, let's just live .. because when the time comes to die, you will.
    And that was mod'ed "Insightful"?

    This isn't about you or your death.

    This is about leaving the planet in a habitable condition for the next generation.

    Or do you also suck on loaded revolvers because "when that time comes .. big deal.. death is the completion of life in whatever form it may take"?
  • Re:Big Deal.. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The Snowman (116231) * on Monday January 24, 2005 @10:52AM (#11455236) Homepage

    Stop worrying about every little thing that can kill you and start living.

    Yes, but I want my son to live, and his son, and his son...

    The environmentalists and some politicians may be a bit extreme to either side, but I think the issue is worth taking a closer look at... for my great great great grandchildren's sake.

  • by Undefined Tag (750722) on Monday January 24, 2005 @10:54AM (#11455257) Homepage
    What I don't understand about this issue are the arguments against doing something to resolve the problem. They seem to be:
    1) We're in a warming cycle/trend and this problem is not our fault.
    2) The earth will survive the warming.
    3) The problem is not as bad as people say.

    Given that the earth is warming, and that this warming will cause catastrophes in excess of anything we've seen, shouldn't we be trying to do something about it? Does it matter if it's caused by us or something else? Does it matter if the problems will arrive in 100 years or 1,000 years?

    If we see a clear path to fixing a problem that could save millions of lives, shouldn't we do that?

    This whole thing seems like a server admin arguing against doing system backups. Sure, they *might* not be necessary, what what sane person doesn't do them?
  • Re:stupid tsunami (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 24, 2005 @10:55AM (#11455275)
    Need to differentiate between weather, short-term daily effects, versus climate, the long-term trends.
  • by ianscot (591483) on Monday January 24, 2005 @10:57AM (#11455289)
    Yes, that would be catastrophic to us, but not to the planet.

    You just touched on the colossal, huge, central point that virtually every dimisser of global warming fails to "get." It's not that the world won't survive. Life on earth has survived, and thrived, at higher global temperatures than we have now. It's just that, when major transitions occur, the dominant forms of life do not remain dominant. And that would mean us.

    This ain't about hugging spotted owls. It's not about whether Sandhill cranes have a place to roost on their way north in the spring. The debate's about our survival. When we read:

    ...could include widespread agricultural failure, water shortages and major droughts, increased disease, sea-level rise and the death of forests - with the added possibility of abrupt catastrophic events such as "runaway" global warming, the melting of the Greenland ice sheet, or the switching-off of the Gulf Stream.

    Those are serious risks. Any *one* of those would stand a considerable risk of destabilizing the world as we know it. Imagine a Pakistan, armed with nuclear weapons as it is, whose politics were affected by a massive drought. That's the easiest thing to predict in the world; climate change precipitated the Mfcane, which set loose a huge migration of people in southern Africa, which in turn had a lot to do with the military dictatorship of Shaka Zulu. Governments, in a state of global climate change, would be made drastically unstable.

    The risk of nuclear war, during the cold war, was not a certainty -- it was a risk. We spent untold resources to address that risk, on both sides. The question is, how much do we commit to addressing this one? When an overwhelming majority of scientific opinion is playing the role of Cassandra, how seriously do you take the possible tragedy?

  • blech... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LetterRip (30937) on Monday January 24, 2005 @10:57AM (#11455301)
    It sounds like the newspaper writer is making statements far beyond what the report says.

    This happens all the time, the journalist misreads (or overinterprets) the report, makes irresponsible claims and statements supposedly based on the report, which inevitably results in the authors of the report being accussed of alarmism by pundits.

    Which means the general populace gets bad information all around, and the zealous individuals of the 'right' and 'left' continue to feel they are vindicated in their opinions on global warming and how the 'other side' are ignoring the obvious truth.

    LetterRip
  • by Anita Coney (648748) on Monday January 24, 2005 @10:58AM (#11455309) Homepage
    Every generation needs to have an irrational fear. I wonder what the next generation's fear will be. I'm guessing it'll be a fear of weather stasis.
  • by hcdejong (561314) <hobbes@xmsnBLUEet.nl minus berry> on Monday January 24, 2005 @10:58AM (#11455312)
    If you define "we" to include more than "Texas" (hard to do, I know, just take a deep breath and face the fact that Yessirreebob, there's folks livin' beyond them thar hills), then yes, "we" did have record highs last year. In N-W Europe, 2004 was one of the warmest years in a century. Not only that, in 1994-2004 8 out of 10 years were warmer than usual.
    And the earth may have a climatic cycle of its own, but this time we're helping it along. You can debate the extent of our influence, but just assuming that extent is 0% and adopting an "Après moi la déluge" attitude is Just Plain Dumb.
  • Re:Original Study? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 24, 2005 @10:58AM (#11455314)
    he article clearly states that the report will be released tomorrow. However, the report is likely a summary of fairly well known and accepted science (accepted by the people who pay attention to climate) most of which is publicly available. The new part is how they quantify the future effects, which of course will be imprecise, but we must try and quantify this stuff if we are going to get anyone to stop making as much CO2 as they please.
  • by proclivity76 (755220) on Monday January 24, 2005 @11:01AM (#11455364)
    . . . there's absolutely nothing we can do about it. The earth has been warming and cooling for hundreds of years. The earth warms and cools on documented cycles of the sun. The earth has never stopped changing, and expecting it to be stable just because we think it "should be" is ludicrous. Stop listening to the moronic press who don't know how to use their cell phones, let alone try to understand the flawed methodologies of studies by ideological driven scientists whose jobs would disappear the day we all finally put our foots down and say, "STFU. We don't believe you." Back in the early 80's I did a science report on what some magazines had printed as the eminent global warming that would cause NYC to be 4 feet under water by 2004. They said the damage was irreversible and we needed to prepare for disaster. Well, it's 2005 and the only thing NYC is under right now is 2 feet of SNOW! Before the '80s the buzz in the press was global cooling. Recently Slashdot had a story on global dimming. Which is it??? At what point do we finally call "BS" on these a-holes that keep duping our governments into spending more money on studies (wasting millions) and wasting our broadcast time with pointless interviews done by reporters who don't understand the periodic table, but love dramatic, apocalyptic stories?
  • by failedlogic (627314) on Monday January 24, 2005 @11:02AM (#11455367)
    I live in Halifax, N.S. Canada for 10 years. In the 10 years since I've left, there's been record snowfalls for 3 years ... so much I never would have imagined. Also, hurricanes have been striking with increasing devastation whereas the cold water of the Atlantic usually diminished the hurricane significantly.

    California and Vancover have been having record rainfalls (each over 600 mm in a week). There's flooding and landslides.

    So far, to me, it sounds a bit like freak weather we get every 50 years or so. If this is a sign of what's to come, due to global warming we're in for a rude wake up call.

    What's worse: the brunt of the pollution stems from North American and European industrialization. I cannot image what would happen if India or China had a 2 or 3 car family (let alone, the emerging trend of one car as income increases).

    With the increase in industrialization of many countries (in part because of consumer culture) and also because of economic expansion and the lower cost of the automobile (namely, in India and China) what can we do to help stop, slow down or perhaps (if possible?) reverse this trend?
  • Re:stupid tsunami (Score:1, Insightful)

    by PoderOmega (677170) on Monday January 24, 2005 @11:04AM (#11455387)
    Remember, if it gets warmer or cooler it is global warning. How can you argue with 100 years of decent weather data when the Earth has been here for hundreds of millions years?
  • by KontinMonet (737319) on Monday January 24, 2005 @11:05AM (#11455408) Homepage Journal
    ...gonna run all this on solar and wind power... or something like it.

    You're gonna have to sometime, the oil will not last forever. And without oil, no electricity, little economy and yep, grass huts and beans. Spend your children's inheritance, so long as you had fun in your Hummer, right?
  • Re:nota bad thing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mtg101 (321836) * on Monday January 24, 2005 @11:06AM (#11455410) Journal
    Global warming means that the global temperature will rise. It doesn't mean that all areas will suffer/benefit from higher temperatures. It means we can expect a shake-up in global weather patterns as the world heats up. This could mean that the Gulf Stream moves and London becomes as cold as Moscow; or that el-nino is dissrupted occurning more or less frequently than ussual; or that Texas gets snow, or Israel gets a plague of locusts.

    The point is that our actions are causing changes, over and above the normal warming we'd expect to see due to normal ebb and flow of ice ages. Just because the phenemenon is called Global Warming doesn't mean that the effects to all will be a warmer domicile. To Floridians it might mean more hurricanes, and to Texans more of that snow stuff.
  • Well, I consider myself a radical moderate (because moderates are so rare - we must be the radicals now). The article you cite is as bad as the one in the article summary but from the other perspective. For example:
    • While some in the U.S. have offered sharp criticism of the ideology driving the global warming crusade, none of the rhetoric has been as penetrating as Illarionov's, who compared it "with man-hating totalitarian ideology with which we had the bad fortune to deal during the 20th century, such as National Socialism (and) Marxism."

    The slam against the global warming crowd by comparing them to militant feminists is just plain silly. But by the same token (from the summary article), there's just as much silliness on the other side:
    • The countdown to climate-change catastrophe is spelt out by a task force of senior politicians, business leaders and academics from around the world ...

    As if politicians and business leaders have the expertise to make this pronouncement? Right. I'd be interested in what the acedemics have to say (and interested in their qualifications), but the rest of the group? They're just along for the ride. And although the article makes a statement that 400ppm for CO2 is a critical point - it never explains what evidence supports this number. Now, the report may be correct, but when a news article reports only the conclusions and none of the methods, it is just so much fear mongering. Just as the opposing side is so much head-burying. As someone else said, the original results would be much more interesting.
  • Re:nota bad thing (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Wyatt Earp (1029) on Monday January 24, 2005 @11:11AM (#11455469)
    No, actually Global Warming doesn't mean all those shake-ups will occur.

    It doesn't mean any of them will occur. The fact of the matter is, all the computer models in the World and wildassed guesses mean that we know very little about how the planet, and solar system for that matter, are warming and what the ultimate side effects of that warming are.

    We don't know that our actions are causing changes. Any speculation about "expecting a shake-up" is 99.99% BS.
  • Re:Original Study? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Omestes (471991) <omestes@gmail.CURIEcom minus physicist> on Monday January 24, 2005 @11:15AM (#11455505) Homepage Journal
    The Earth is truly nothing without us.

    I'd be quite interested to see your reasoning behind that statement. Wouldn't the earth without us just be the earth where we do not exist? Probably a slightly healthier biosphere, even. Wouldn't you mean that we are nothing without the Earth, it seems like it could chug along just fine without us.

    I'm not saying down with humans or anything, I just find your statement borderline nonsensical.
  • by BenBenBen (249969) on Monday January 24, 2005 @11:15AM (#11455510)
    Let me just speak for the rest of the world when I say ARRRRRRRRRGHHHHHHHHH Fucking, fucking, fucking dumb shits like you are the problem. Man, I'm so pissed off today and having to read through sixteen pages of yanks spouting think-tank bullshit ain't gonna help. Also; insightful??? Please!
  • Run for Cover (Score:2, Insightful)

    by null etc. (524767) on Monday January 24, 2005 @11:16AM (#11455523)
    The countdown to climate-change catastrophe is spelt out by a task force of senior politicians, business leaders and academics from around the world

    I'm glad that senior politicians and business leaders are spearheading this "scientific" effort. We constituates needs someone to put a spin on the issues for us in order to understand them.

    "There is an ecological timebomb ticking away," said Stephen Byers, the former transport secretary, who co-chaired the task force that produced the report with the US Republican senator Olympia Snowe.

    As always, it's great to see the former transport secretary weigh in on a topic so close to his area of expertise. BTW, Olympia Snowe sounds suspiciously like the name of a hippie child of greenpeace parents.

    The report says this point will be two degrees centigrade above the average world temperature prevailing in 1750 before the industrial revolution, when human activities - mainly the production of waste gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2), which retain the sun's heat in the atmosphere - first started to affect the climate.

    Wow! The earth has been around for 4+ billion years, and it only takes us 250 years to set it on an "irreversible" course of destruction. That kinda power indicates how far we've come since the Ice Age!

    So, the production of waste gases started to affect the climate in 1750, huh? Well, let's consider:

    In 1750, the population of

    • the world was only 760 million people.
    • North America was 5.3 million people.
    • Europe was 158 million people.
    • South America was 19 million people.
    • Africa was 82 million people.
    • Asia (including Russia) was 493 million people.
    • Australia was 1.5 million people.
    Now, we all can imagine how heavily industrialized South America, Africa, Asia, and Australia was during that time period. Which leaves North America and Europe as the truly industrialized countries.

    I find it very interesting (or rather, highly implausible) that just 169 million people were capable of generating a measurable change upon the earth's climate in 1750.

  • real thread (Score:2, Insightful)

    by vlipper (785186) on Monday January 24, 2005 @11:18AM (#11455535)
    It's a sad thing to see that a lot of people stick their heads in the sand when reading new like this. And that's one thing: walking away. But, please, don't tell everyone that reports like this are not real, or that the threads are not real. Stop using arguments that are not valid, like: "Global warming has been going on since the last ice age". Reactions like this only make us numb, and don't help anyone.

    If you have given these kind of reactions, and you honestly believe that your reactions is valid indeed, I would be very, very interested to see where you got your information. Please, share your info, or forever hold your silence.

  • Re:Already Flipped (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ezavada (91752) on Monday January 24, 2005 @11:19AM (#11455544)
    ...climate change happens and that's a fact of life. For example the downfall of the Egyptian empire was partially due to a massive warm spell that caused crops to fail and deserts to form. Ironically the article pointed out that there were no cars at that time.

    Biological warfare happens and is a fact of life. The downfall of the Mayan and Incan Empires was partially due to a massive smallpox epidemic deliberately released by Europeans as a deliberate act of war. Ironically, there were no biological weapons factories hidden in Iraq then -- so clearly we should do nothing about the threat of biological warfare.

    While I completely agree with the parent's statements, they imply that we should do nothing. What's more, they overlook several important factors:

    1) There is a general scientific consensus that human activity is increasing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, and that a runaway greenhouse effect will result from too much CO2 in the atmosphere.

    2) There is a general scientific consensus that long before that point climate change will have disastrous impacts on the humanity and other species as well.

    3) There are many changes we can make to reduce CO2 production that wouldn't wreck our economy, such as using alcohol as a fuel and passive solar construction for new homes.
  • by 16K Ram Pack (690082) <tim.almondNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday January 24, 2005 @11:19AM (#11455548) Homepage
    Whenever you see an argument made by someone, it's often best to look behind the motivation.

    Very few people I know who like to find convenient articles regarding global warming are people with small, efficient cars who also use the trains quite a lot. Basically, they lap up the "global warming is a myth" because they don't want to face the question that their unnecessary SUV may be causing serious damage to the planet.

    For goodness sakes people, get out of your cars. If we find that we got global warming wrong, what's the result? Oh, you probably got a bit healthier and maybe met some interesting people on the bus.

  • Re:Original Study? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by QMO (836285) on Monday January 24, 2005 @11:20AM (#11455552) Homepage Journal
    It is an extremely uninformative sunmmary. Even the points where it quotes from the report suggest that the report contains no actual science.
    Everything is said in one-sided extremes. Everything is worst-case, without best-case to balance it, or even most-likely-case to give a baseline.
    There may be actual, real, levelheaded, factual, balanced, non-alarmist science to support the theory of human-induced catastrophic global warming, but I haven't seen any, and I've looked.
  • by MoralHazard (447833) on Monday January 24, 2005 @11:21AM (#11455563)
    Sorry for the excessive quotations marks, but I just feel like there's some simplistic thinking going on about the ability of human beings to react en masse like this.

    If a scientific consensus exists that certain human activities (industry and commerce, mostly) are affecting the environment in ways that will eventually harm us, that's still a long way from doing anything about it. Reversing industrial and economic trends costs money--mostly opportunity costs from having to cease certain profitable, but polluting/warming endeavors. It's not always possible to set up a system in which those costs are rationalized to the people who can deal with them.

    A lot of it comes down to what "we" means, in this context: you have to get a politically enabled consensus on the existence of the problem, AND on the view that the harms of environmental damage outweigh the economic costs of changing how we do things. In the US, right now, I don't see either of those realizations taking root enough to affect policy substantially. Even if the science and economic analyses are sound, there's still going to be a long, drawn-out debate over the merits.

    But is this really so bad? We're deliberative, not knee-jerking. I've been convinced lately that the scientific evidence in favor of human climate influence is pretty strong, but it's still an enormously complex question.

    And remember, getting the answer wrong will be just as harmful to the human race if we go overboard on trying to prevent climate change: all those opportunity costs, whoever pays them, will be felt collectively as a lower standard of living.

    Basically, I just think you're being unfair by labelling humanity "stupid, paranoid, ignorant, and arrogant" (not to mention suggesting that we should go extinct!). This is an incredibly difficult question to get right, and the consequences EITHER way are pretty nasty if the human race gets it wrong.
  • A boat? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nounderscores (246517) on Monday January 24, 2005 @11:22AM (#11455573)
    What the hell would Noah want with a boat?
  • Re:Original Study? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by pVoid (607584) on Monday January 24, 2005 @11:22AM (#11455575)
    I love you and your ilk's mentality:

    Here we are faced with a situation where every single shread of evidence points to the fact that there is global warming, and still you are being skeptical about it.

    Being skeptical is being mascaraded in the streets as a 'scientific trait of character', but in fact it is nothing of the sort: who is being skeptical, what does being skeptical mean? It means: not stopping current trends of production, and only industry lobbyists are being skeptical.

    Sure we can be skeptical about the theories from a scientific standpoint, but that shouldn't mean inaction. It should mean stopping and assessing. Since we do not have the luxury to stop everything and see if things are going to get better, we have *no other option* but to take these theories as true.

    It comes down to plain and simple risk analysis, one theory says current trends will lead us to irreversible damage, and that we must stop now, while another theory says that it might not, and stopping now will do... what? hurt the economy a bit? In any case, it is clear that reducing emissions is not going to do irreversible damage to the economy.

    *Anyone* who argues the second theory is sound should be shot... IMO.

  • Re:Big Deal.. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by 16K Ram Pack (690082) <tim.almondNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday January 24, 2005 @11:28AM (#11455651) Homepage
    There are lots of small things we can all do right now. Going to a shop a mile away? Walk instead of starting up the car. Next car, get something more efficient. Take a train on a long journey. Don't do journeys you really don't need to. Work from home instead of commuting. Car share. Cut back your lifestyle. Buy stuff produced locally (like food and beer) and cut down on people transporting it. Get your house insulated. Turn off your monitors/TVs when you aren't using them.

    I'm no saint. I don't do all these things, but there's some food for thought there.

  • wolf! wolf! wolf! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by peter303 (12292) on Monday January 24, 2005 @11:29AM (#11455666)
    Crying wolf every day wont help solve the problem.
  • by Waffle Iron (339739) on Monday January 24, 2005 @11:29AM (#11455671)
    Remember how we all laughed at those people who purchased electric generators and resurrected old bomb shelters for the Y2K scare?

    That crisis was averted because people worked hard to fix the bugs before they became a problem. So the lesson that you take away from that episode is that it's best to just ignore big risks? That's the opposite of what actually happened.

  • Key point: not (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Caractacus Potts (74726) on Monday January 24, 2005 @11:33AM (#11455712)
    You just touched on the colossal, huge, central point that virtually every dimisser of global warming fails to "get." It's not that the world won't survive. Life on earth has survived, and thrived, at higher global temperatures than we have now. It's just that, when major transitions occur, the dominant forms of life do not remain dominant. And that would mean us.

    I'd wager to bet that most of the "dismissers" you mention are well aware of these facts. Scientifically literate people can see what's going on and visualize the possible long-term consequences, but it's going to take more than public opinion polls and stock-market prediction techniques to understand the process well enough for longer-term predictions. Cassandra is being listened to, just with a grain of salt.
  • by cnelzie (451984) on Monday January 24, 2005 @11:34AM (#11455723) Homepage
    Except that we have enough time, before the death of the Sun, to travel the interstellar distances to any of a million? or billions? of stars that have planets we could support human life with...

    The perspective of that much time is vastly different then looking at the prospect of starving to death within our lifetime for no other reason then the human race failing to at least attempt to control the change of our climate. The survival of the human race should be important to us.

    We have the technology available to create large carbon dioxide scrubbers, they aren't cheap, but they are possible. We have the technology to decrease the absorbtion of heat in major cities which would decrease the impact major cities has on weather systems.

    Almost everything we need to lessen our impact and the impact of Nature on the global climate is at our fingertips. There is no reason for humanity to be so apathetic and downright stupid about our own ongoing survival.

    It's not about giving things up, it's about changing the means we reach our ways and fixing the problems we do cause. This is about owning our own existence and future survival. This is about owning up to our past mistakes, even though we knew not what we were doing. Now that we know what to do, we just need to do it and stop acting like the stupid s--ts we collectively act like.
  • by Mononoke (88668) on Monday January 24, 2005 @11:37AM (#11455746) Homepage Journal
    People are even connecting the environment to the tsunamis, which have nothing to do with the environment, and everything to do with Earthquakes that are going to happen anyway.
    This may be simplistic, but: Wouldn't a rise in the ocean levels--due to the contributions of glaciers (etc.) melting from global warming--cause load shifts on the tectonic plates, thus causing the plates themselves to shift?
  • by stankulp (69949) on Monday January 24, 2005 @11:38AM (#11455760) Homepage
    ...opinion is playing the role of Cassandra, how seriously do you take the possible tragedy?"

    Not very, when the vast majority of "scientists" whose opinion is being cited are SOCIAL Scientists [cspo.org].

    I really don't believe economists and sociology professors know as much about climate as meteorolgists and geologists.

  • by Dun Malg (230075) on Monday January 24, 2005 @11:45AM (#11455850) Homepage
    Given that the earth is warming, and that this warming will cause catastrophes in excess of anything we've seen, shouldn't we be trying to do something about it?

    Well the obvious answer to such a hypothetical situation is "yes", but it's a classic case of begging the question. Your statement of "Given...that this warming will cause catastrophes in excess of anything we've seen" flies in the face of the main point of argument. You're basically saying "let's assume I'm right, so we have to do things MY way, right?" That's hardly an effective debating position.

  • Re:Already Flipped (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Yokaze (70883) on Monday January 24, 2005 @11:45AM (#11455851)
    Either it was simply a bad article, or you misunderstood something. Citing the downfall of an empire due local climate as an example for "everyday" global climate change is quite weak.

    The page titled Global Warming @ National Geographic [nationalgeographic.com] doesn't seem to suggest such a causal view of climate change.
  • Re:nota bad thing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RayBender (525745) on Monday January 24, 2005 @11:48AM (#11455879) Homepage
    It doesn't mean any of them will occur. The fact of the matter is, all the computer models in the World and wildassed guesses mean that we know very little about how the planet

    Don't confuse knowing very little with knowing nothing at all. Take a pot of water and put it on the stove. Turn on the burner. You know that the water will get warm and eventually boil. Scientists could make some measurements and tell you pretty much exactly when it will boil, and how quickly it will boil dry. But no computer program in the world can accurately tell you exactly what the pattern of bubbles will be during the boiling. So what? It just means that there are some things we can't model/predict, like boiling or weather, and there are some we can, like climate and thermodynamics.

    We do know that our actions are causing changes, and we know that further actions will cause further changes - within a range of uncertainty. This won't change just because you want to continue to pollute.

  • Re:I am tired (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 24, 2005 @11:51AM (#11455929)
    Global warming means a global average temperature increase that results in mass upheaval of current meteorological systems. This does not mean that every place in the world is going to get hotter (at first). Colder temperatures could be the result of former warm-air currents that are no longer reliable, leaving their former destinations cooler.

    There are also other factors, such as contrails, which mean cooler day-time temperatures and warmer night-time temperatures. Noticeable temperature change is more likely a product of local phenomena like this, rather than global trends.

    Furthermore, if you've been around for 40+ years and you haven't noticed some substantial difference in climate, even as a result of local atmospheric changes, then I hypothesize that you are missing certain physiological organs necessary for proper sensory function.

    An anecdote: My father has been painting landscape art since the 50s, and he always complains that the sky has become increasingly less vivid in many areas, due to water in the higher atmosphere. Likewise, the naked-eye resolution of the horizon has diminished in recent years, even in rural areas where there is little 'smog'.
  • Re:I am tired (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Zocalo (252965) on Monday January 24, 2005 @11:51AM (#11455930) Homepage
    Why has it better getting progressively colder over the past 20 years in places like Russia and China?

    Because, like many others, you are equating Global Warming to mean a literal rise in temperature across the globe. While Global Warming would indeed cause temperature rises, you need to take the step and think about what warming means to a substance being heated at a molecular level. Think about what happens to a pan of water as it is brought to boiling point and the increasingly extreme motion instilled in the water by the heat. Now apply that to the Earth's oceans and atmosphere, maybe even the planet's molten core too, although studies on this are *very* light on the ground.

    All that extra molecular activity has to go somewhere, so we get increased extremes of climate in *both* directions. Because gasses are more susceptible to this than liquids, we are noticing these changes more in our weather than ocean current patterns, but it's there. All that adds up to hotter summers, colder winters, more energetic storms and all the other abnormal weather we are seeing.

  • Re:Risk analysis? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Lars Clausen (1208) on Monday January 24, 2005 @12:00PM (#11456027)
    How many American families will have to do without their third car, or maybe their second, or even *gasp* use public transportation! And think of the third-worldness of not having a TV in every room. And heaven forbid you can't get Cheez-Its at 3AM.

    Most Americans are incredibly spoiled and could cut back consumption by a huge amount without getting even *close* to third world status.

    Assuming global warming is a fact, these cutbacks would give the human race a much better chance at surviving without depriving Americans of basic necessities.

    If global warming is not a fact, it will reduce your dependence on foreign oil to possibly nil, thereby freeing up a lot of the military budget for, say, tax cuts or better schools.

    When you see a sign on the highway saying "Missing bridge ahead", you don't keep cruising and say "I assume that's not a fact". Not if you value your life, at least.

    -Lars
  • Disappointed (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Cackmobile (182667) on Monday January 24, 2005 @12:00PM (#11456034) Journal
    I thought slashdotters were intelligent. Every post here is saying global warming is a sham. If you actually spend some time looking you will find out that global warming doesn't just mean it gets hot. It means everything goes hay wire. Most likely is that we will have hotter summers and colder winters. Weather will be extreme. More tornados, more hurricanes, more droughts and more floods.
  • Re:nota bad thing (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Wyatt Earp (1029) on Monday January 24, 2005 @12:06PM (#11456094)
    Actually, we don't KNOW that our actions are causing the changes.

    We KNOW that in a vacuum light goes so far a second. We KNOW that at sea level in a vacuum the gravitational acceleration is 9.81something something meters per second squared.

    We don't know what out actions are causing and we don't know that further actions will cause further changes.

    This has nothing to do with my wanting to pollute. But thanks for throwing that out, makes your argument much more believable. The old, if you don't agree with me, you must be bad routine.
  • by SpongeBobLinuxPants (840979) on Monday January 24, 2005 @12:09PM (#11456138) Homepage
    hurricanes have been striking with increasing devastation

    Record devistration in terms of $$ amount, but as far as people hurt, that number has gone down. Little to do with weather, more to do with rich people building houses out on the beaches where the huricanes hit land.

    There's flooding and landslides.

    Again, more to do with people building houses where they shouldn't and cutting down trees that used to hold the soil in place.

    The bigged threat to the human race is the human race itself.
  • by Kohath (38547) on Monday January 24, 2005 @12:11PM (#11456160)
    Freak weather is normal. Every year, it's either unusually hot, unusually cold, unusually wet, unusually dry, unusually windy, or unusual in some other way.

    Think about it. When was the last year when nothing interesting happened with the weather? Wouldn't it be odd to have an entire year of weather when nothing notable happened?
  • by stankulp (69949) on Monday January 24, 2005 @12:11PM (#11456161) Homepage
    ...it's happening too."

    My previous link says they (physical scientists) don't believe global warming is happening.

    You can read my documentation for my statement.

    Where is yours?

  • by aaamr (203460) on Monday January 24, 2005 @12:17PM (#11456230)
    Why is this marked funny?

    One of the key culprits in global warming is the increased use of large, fuel inefficient vehicles - like the Hummer whose fuel efficiency is best measured in gallons per mile.

    If we (mostly North Americans) could end our love affair with huge, wasteful vehicles that more often than not are driven by only one person at a time, perhaps we wouldn't be in this situation now.

    I for one make extensive use of public transportation, and the cars we own are small and fuel efficient. When our family grows to the size where we need a larger vehicle, it won't be an SUV, becuase we *never* go offroading, and frankly, a minivan gets better mileage.

    But I'll still take public transport whenever possible.

    In short, the parent comment is *not* funny. It's symbolic of the larger problem. I found it depressing.
  • by bigberk (547360) <bigberk@users.pc9.org> on Monday January 24, 2005 @12:19PM (#11456257)
    Anyone who is aware of the situation knows that there is a definite environmental crisis looming. This isn't just about global warming and resource depletion, but about eliminating our forests and converting nature into a wasteland. The side effects already affect your day to day life: more health problems, environmental pollutants, decreased quality of and less diversity of food, climate uncertainty.

    But for us to sit here and say "nothing will change" and turn a blind eye is just plain stupid. If you're older, than ... keep your mouth shut (thanks for the mess, btw). If you're younger, you have a responsibility to not contribute toward a spiralling problem because. What do you do?
    • BUY LESS STUFF and don't throw out so much trash (help decrease the resource consumption cycle)
    • Demand resource and energy efficient alternatives
    • Tell your politicians that you care about environmental issues such as air, water quality, waste responsibility
    • Steer clear of, and tell others to stay away from practices you know to be harmful
    If you are fearing that such practices will destroy the US economy, don't worry -- the economy is on its way to collapse under the weight of decades of corporate scandals and greed. You are NOT going to destroy the economy by cutting down consumption. Nor are you going to save the economy by purchasing new cars or computers.

    Do what you know is right. And if you're religious at all, take pride in the fact that you will not be eternally marked with the sin of helping destroy the lives of your fellow humans.
  • by Rick.C (626083) on Monday January 24, 2005 @12:23PM (#11456300)
    It's just that, when major transitions occur, the dominant forms of life do not remain dominant. And that would mean us.

    Don't count on the cockraoches taking over just yet. Humans would not be wiped off the face of the Earth, it's just that a lot of us would die. The ones who depend on technology, commerce and "artificial" food/water distribution would be hardest hit. It just so happens that those are the ones responsible for a disproportiately high share of the warming problem.

    So this whole global warming thing is a self-correcting problem - when it gets too bad, the chief problem-causers die off. Ain't Nature wunnerful?

    It still irks me though, that I'll be one of the culs.

  • by Lord Kano (13027) on Monday January 24, 2005 @12:23PM (#11456318) Homepage Journal
    Funny, I'll provide a Winston quote that seems to sum up the beliefs of the professional environmentalists.

    "If there's a steady paycheck in it. I'll believe in anything you say"

    LK
  • Re:nota bad thing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by RayBender (525745) on Monday January 24, 2005 @12:28PM (#11456402) Homepage
    we don't KNOW that our actions are causing the changes.

    Well, Sherlock, we have some pretty good evidence for it. As I keep having to repeat: we know we are releasing CO2, we know that CO2 is staying in the atmosphere, and we know that CO2 absorbs IR radiation. We also know a bunch of other facts about the physics of radiative transfer, thermodynamics, fluuid flow etc etc. We know that when we combine those facts in a computer model that that model shows warming (on average). Finally, we know that it is getting warmer (on average).

    Don't confuse not knowing everything with knowing nothing.

    if you don't agree with me, you must be bad routine.

    Well, I see you using deliberately disingenous arguments to defend a position that would allow you to continue polluting, even in the face of evidence that such pollution causes long-term risks for the survival of others (and yourself). Is that "bad"? Are you actually an environmentalist? Perhaps, but I'd be willing to wager my left nut that you aren't.

  • Re:Original Study? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Wizzy Wig (618399) on Monday January 24, 2005 @12:29PM (#11456410)
    [GP]The Earth is truly nothing without us.

    [P]I'd be quite interested to see your reasoning behind that statement.

    If the earth f@rts, and there's nobody left to smell it, would it still stink?

    Ipso facto - humanity could not give a cr@p what happens to the earth if it were extinct.
  • by SnapShot (171582) on Monday January 24, 2005 @12:29PM (#11456411)
    Funny, it's the "scientists" that are being funded by fossile fuel burning industries that claim that global warming is not real. The quote you provided sure applies, but you just picked the wrong side to apply it to.
  • mod this up (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 24, 2005 @12:31PM (#11456446)
    global warming is the biggest bunch of horse-puckey ever forced on the world's non-scientifically educated populations ... which is most of them ...

    not a SINGLE study relating to this shows Earth "changes" vs. solar output ... hellloo? anybody out there witha CLUE? If ol' Sol changes output by 0.000001% we're gonna FEEL it ... and don't tell me the Sun is a constant-output reactor!

    Just total bullshit, fostered by communist countries that can't compete with the U.S.
  • by Lord Kano (13027) on Monday January 24, 2005 @12:36PM (#11456519) Homepage Journal
    When our family grows to the size where we need a larger vehicle, it won't be an SUV, becuase we *never* go offroading, and frankly, a minivan gets better mileage.

    Maybe you understand. When you have a family a minivan makes sense. Before you have a family you're better off with an SUV because single guys who drive minivans don't get laid.

    LK
  • Troll busting (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Cally (10873) on Monday January 24, 2005 @12:36PM (#11456527) Homepage
    Sadly I haven't the time to read this story at 1 or 2 to read this week's climate change trolls. Could I therefore just request that anyone about to opst about Michael Crichton, the 'new ice age we were warned about in the 1970s', farting cows, fluctuations in the sun's output, or anything else that attempts to deny the basic scientific consensus on climate change that they please go and read the relevant RealClimate.org articles [realclimate.org] first on their current misapprehension first, then include a reasoned explanation of how the scientists have all got it wrong. (Explanations based on the assumption of a world-wide scientific conspiracy will be moderated down to -1... I hope.)

    Thank you.

  • by Paradox_001 (835540) on Monday January 24, 2005 @12:42PM (#11456586)
    The current administration in the white house have religious ideologies that fall in line with apocalypse being nigh. They believe that when catastrophe hits, the elect, or chosen, (by God) will be greeted by Jesus from the heavons and provided a new earth, provided Isreal is status quo upon the arival of this doomsday. This is my own belief as to why the administration is living like there is no tomorrow. Even though the pentagon has been doing studies on how global warming and climate change might be the worst security threat we have ever faced, the administration is encouraging business as usual, why? The first President Bush said the American way of life is not negotiable.

    Here is the cold hard truth - we Americans are living in the 29th day of a lifestyle that is not sustainable, and it will end soon, very soon. The world, as well as basic geology and the second law of thermodynamics is begining to tell us we can't keep living this way. Our consumer driven lives do come at a cost, in economic terms the hidden costs of our lifestyles are called "externalities". These externalities include massive degradation to the environment. 25% of the coral reefs in the world are dead. Most fish is unsafe to eat now because of heavy metal content. Our fisheries are dying out. Rainforrests are becoming a thing of the past.

    For those of you who live down in the desert what happens to Las Vegas when the Colordo river stops turning the turbines in the Hoover dam - the flow rate was down 70% below average last year and we have had 2 wet decades and are now entering into a dry era.

    The average American meal travels 1300 miles fueled by hydrocarbon energy before we eat it. Every calorie of food we eat requires 10 calories of hydrocarbon energy input to produce it, not including packaging and transportation. All of our fertilizers and pesticides are derrived from oil and natural gas. 90% of an Iowa farmer's costs are directly and indirectly related to the cost of fuel. Every pound of beef produced uses 2500 gallons of water and 16 pounds of grain. Talk about unsustainable. What happens when the fuel runs out? We will we have a couple options, scale back usage, or go to war to procure the remaining scraps of what is left. Our administration chose plan B. Going to war for something that should be left in the ground in the first place.

    Right now is a very precarious time in American history and I think war is the last thing we should be pursuing, why? We are is massive massive debt. The trade deficit is gargantuan. Our dollar is financed to the hilt, and it's on the virge of collapse. Petrodollars as they call them now in economics are relying heavily on China buying our t-bonds, the corrupt world bank loaning money to third world nations which will never be able to pay them off (forcing them into credit card debt if you will), and the oil trade being financed in the dollar instead of the euro. That was in fact one of the hidden agendas of the war in Iraq, to get Iraq's oil trade switched back into dollars (it took about one week after the invasion to get that done) because Saddam had changed it over to euros and we weren't going to take it. But, the world is starting to consider switching anyway. We have 800 military bases around the world, fighting multiple front wars, buying, spending, consuming, pillaging, like there is no tomorrow. It's called imperial overstretch, it's why the Rome and the Soviet Union collapsed. If we don't stop imperial overstretch, there will be no tomorrow.

    By the way, did you realize that Saudi Arabia -the most intolerant regime on the face of the earth- has 7 trillion in our stock market? The lead the wold in beheadings you know. 15 out of 19 of the hi-jackers who did 9/11 were from, you guessed it, Saudi Arabia.

    Additionally the housing bubble is poised to collapse. Houses are WAY WAY WAY overvalued. I hope you didn't just buy a house. And the production of Oil and natural gas is going to start into a permanent decline when both of those peak, as soon as now - 2007.

  • by bigberk (547360) <bigberk@users.pc9.org> on Monday January 24, 2005 @12:47PM (#11456657)
    Crying wolf every day wont help solve the problem.
    This isn't crying wolf. This is reminding people, YOU ARE SERIOUSLY FUCKED if you don't change your behaviours, and influence behaviour changes in others. This is part of what we call warnings -- you know, preventing disasters, or at least mitigating their extent, before the shit hits the fan.

    This is kind of like me telling you, hey, that US economy doesn't look too hot... maybe you shouldn't be investing your life savings in it right now. Am I crying wolf? Or am I saving your ass? You decide... lemme know what you think in a couple years.
  • Re:Already Flipped (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ezavada (91752) on Monday January 24, 2005 @12:50PM (#11456682)
    Passive solar doesn't mean much except in temperate areas where little fossil fuel is used today for heating homes.

    I suppose you could consider Virginia a temperate climate, but nevertheless the gas bill for my modest house built in the 50s is $120/mo during the winter. Meanwhile they were opening the windows in my sister's passive solar house (about 10 miles away from mine) they day before yesterday (when the temperature was 19 degrees F) because it was 85 inside, without her backup heating sistem running. She expects her gas bill will be a few dollars a month.

    As for more extreme climates, at least some Canadians would disagree with you: Canadian buildings group FAQ [nrcan.gc.ca]

    You need to stop adding alcohol to fuel to keep farmers producing grain - when the grain production uses more diesel fuel than is saved by the alcohol.

    During WWII, many farmers switched to alcohol to fuel their farm equipment, because gasoline was rationed for the war, expensive, and they could produce the alcohol themselves out of the waste products from grain production.

    Since alcohol can be made from agricultural waste products of food that is grown to be eaten, there is no reason that it has to be used as a way to subside farmers. That is a political decision, not a technical one.

    I agree that changing the way electricity is generated is a good idea, and I'm all for promotion of public transportation.

    The idea of moving heavy industry outside of the US doesn't make any sense to me - how would that reduce CO2 production? Will those industries just decide all of a sudden to stop using electricity generated by fossil fuels because they are now in Mexico or China?
  • Re:Original Study? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 24, 2005 @12:55PM (#11456760)
    Unless you're in one of the 1/3rds that are dead.
  • by aaamr (203460) on Monday January 24, 2005 @01:10PM (#11456988)
    Yeah, but single guys don't need the space provided by an SUV *or* a minivan.

    And I fail to see how your getting laid should take precedence over global warming.

    Also, to the moderator, how is this flamebait?

    *sigh*
  • by orim (583920) <orimk@yahoo . c om> on Monday January 24, 2005 @01:15PM (#11457055)
    Greed is why.
    Getting an extra few hundred dollars back in your taxes is more important to people than the future of their own children (see under: Republicans' fiscal policies). Driving a Hummer to work is more important than not being able to breathe (see under: LA smog). And getting your way is more important than killing 15,000+ human beings you don't know (see under: Iraq war).

    If we were seriously concerned about any of this, starting with the most immediate, breathable air in our cities, we'd have hydrogen cars out there already. But until people start dropping like flies from lung diseases, until all those rich f**ks don't suffer themselves, we're not really going to come up with a solution. But by then, it'll just be too late.

    I just wonder once people start dying in the US, if the US will try to storm the remaining food/resource reserves by force. (yes, you might argue that Iraq already happened, but I'm talking resources other than oil).

    If our future depends on our ability to sacrifice something for the sake of our well-being 10+ years from now, we're all screwed.

  • by irritating environme (529534) on Monday January 24, 2005 @01:20PM (#11457111)
    Oh my god. Never have I seen a funnier Score 5 funny. Good job dude. Or not.
  • Re:nota bad thing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Cally (10873) on Monday January 24, 2005 @01:26PM (#11457228) Homepage
    The fact of the matter is, all the computer models in the World and wildassed guesses mean that we know very little about how the planet, and solar system for that matter, are warming and what the ultimate side effects of that warming are.
    Ding ding!! Troll!!

    Computer models are not, in fact, wildassed guesses. If you know otherwise, please explain. I'm sure the world's climate modellers would love to know what you're basing that assertion on... unless it's a wild-assed guess, of course? Just a hunch.

    Of course the models aren't perfect, and of course there is more to learn about the past & present climate. Yes, climate's a very complex, non-linear system, with emergent features, unexpected interactions, and the model's grids are getting finer and finer each year. Still, we know much more than you suspect [www.ipcc.ch], with much more certainty than you seem to think. As I keep saying, if you know better than tens of thousands of very intelligent, dedicated, hard-working scientists, with massive amounts of data, published in peer reviewed journals, I'm sure we'd all love to hear about it. If you're just spouting off on Slashdot cos you just don't like hippies, well enjoy your drought (if you're in the west of the US), your -30 degrees big freeze if you're in the NE, your thaw if you're in the arctic north, and your crumbling economy wherever your are.

    YAAT (BYHL). HAND!

  • Learn your physics, boy.

    70 nuclear explosions throws a tremendous amount of irradiated dust into the atmosphere, and each renders several square miles of land uninhabitable. Period. Several thousand square miles of land would be contaminated by nuclear fallout. All this in one of the most densly populated parts of the world.

    Read up on exactly how nasty low-yield nuclear weapons can be. [nuclearweaponarchive.org]

    Particularly the section on delayed effects. Life would suck for most of Asia. You would see a world war break out simply from the billions of people living on contaminated land looking at Australia, Africa, and Europe for arable land.

  • by khallow (566160) on Monday January 24, 2005 @01:40PM (#11457427)
    Nobody did anything then, nothing meaningful is being done now. Nothing meaningful will be done until literally hundreds of millions or billions of people are killed.

    It's called "crying 'wolf'". Where's the urgency? Why should we deal with global warming now when we can deal with it later with better technology, a wealthier society, and a greater understanding of the problem? Poverty kills a lot more people than global warming does and the current proposed solutions to global warming increase poverty. I don't think the Kyoto fix for global warming is worth the cost.

  • Re:Key point: not (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Analogy Man (601298) on Monday January 24, 2005 @01:43PM (#11457461)
    I am sympathetic to the Cassandra crowd and think some consumption habits need to change (and certainly would do no harm to reduce energy consumption). Statements like this:

    The current level is 379ppm, and rising by more than 2ppm annually - so it is likely that the vital 400ppm threshold will be crossed in just 10 years' time, or even less (although the two-degree temperature rise might take longer to come into effect).

    Are hard to take seriously. Kind of insults the mathematically literate ... you die if you eat a pound of dirt...but 15 oz is no problem?

  • Re:Risk analysis? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Alioth (221270) <no@spam> on Monday January 24, 2005 @02:35PM (#11458168) Journal
    No one need die.

    In Europe, people live a pretty good lifestyle. Yet the average western European consumes approximately HALF the energy of the average American. (http://www.nationmaster.com/graph-T/ene_usa_per_p er [nationmaster.com]). The average British person uses *less than half* of what the average American uses. Life expectancy is just as good in western Europe. Healthcare is good. The quality of life is good. This shows it can be done and it won't result in a 3rd world country.

    It's trivially easy for any healthy adult to drastically slash their energy usage - in winter, turn the heat down 2 deg C, in summer turn the AC up 2 deg C. Ride your bike to work instead of driving twice a week (or walk if you're close enough). That alone will make a huge difference in your personal energy usage, and it will improve your health too. Replace light bulbs as they blow with low energy replacements. Don't run the water continuously whilst brushing your teeth. Use a hand-powered lawnmower instead of a gas/electric one. Plant a tree if your yard is big enough. There are many things you can do on a personal level to make a serious dent in your energy usage.
  • by InadequateCamel (515839) on Monday January 24, 2005 @02:54PM (#11458481)
    And that's the problem. The government should not be using force to dictate what kinds of cars people drive.

    So the government should mind its own business because a few irresponsible people value their egos over the environment? This is EXACTLY what the government should be doing; intervening for the benefit of the vast majority of people in the country (and world, for that matter).
  • by WhiplashII (542766) on Monday January 24, 2005 @04:12PM (#11459732) Homepage Journal
    The way you can tell that this is a political piece, rather than a scientific one, is the lack of mention of nuclear power. They want countries to commit to generating 25% of their power through "renewable means." Why? Why not just "non global warming" means?

    People talk a lot, but look at what is really happening in the world - not what people are talking about. Nuclear power is unpopular, but we still use it for 20% of the US electric power generation [doe.gov] - we just do it quietly.

    This is obviously an environmentalist editorial - nuclear power is a much better answer, and probably is better for the environment too. (Studies have shown that wind mills and solar cells cause climat shifts too!)

Take care of the luxuries and the necessities will take care of themselves. -- Lazarus Long

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