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Science

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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  • by night_flyer (453866) on Monday January 24, 2005 @10:43AM (#11455136) Homepage
    since the Ice Age...

  • Already Flipped (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SerpentMage (13390) <ChristianHGross@@@yahoo...ca> on Monday January 24, 2005 @10:46AM (#11455162)
    I was reading National Geographic and they were talking about climate change. One of their opinions was that climate change is already underway. Essentially the switch was flipped some fifty or so years ago.

    They also said that 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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 24, 2005 @10:56AM (#11455286)
    "The countdown to climate-change catastrophe is spelt out by a task force of senior politicians, business leaders and academics from around the world."

    Obviously being a politician or business leader qualifies you for all sorts of fear mongering.
  • by MinotaurUK (763706) on Monday January 24, 2005 @10:56AM (#11455287)
    Bloody hell, there's some serious conservative politics slanting that article. I guess it's kinda like the folks who claim there's no proven link between HIV and AIDS, or the cigarette companies claiming there's no proven link to common cancers.

    As with everything - the truth probably lies somewhere between the Independent's article and the one above, though in my experience (and I have read the Independent on and off for the last 15 years) they generally are pretty centrist politically.

  • by wild_berry (448019) on Monday January 24, 2005 @11:00AM (#11455341) Journal
    Funny that Kyoto got ignored by the States when everyone bent over backwards to accommodate the wishes of the US State department.

    And to have Putin's personal economic advisor slander the people who put Russia up to Kyoto, led by Tony Blair, with "bribes, blackmail and murder threats" sounds utterly fictitious (unless they were able the possibility that not making a difference now threatens your livelihood, children and very life itself...). I think that's just someone who doesn't want their ways to be curtailed by concern for the environment.

    That's basically what it says the US don't want either. I refuse to believe GWB's claim that there are enough forests in the USA to cope with the US production of carbon emissions (a whole quarter of world output!), and so think that something needs to be done.

    Global Warming isn't a cover for robbing people of private enterprise today, it's got to be about being alive and able to continue to produce and sell tomorrow and in our childrens' lifetimes. Isn't that a good reason to go light on the resources we have today so there's something for tomorrow?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 24, 2005 @11:03AM (#11455382)
    From TFA you quoted:

    Under the Kyoto Protocol, undeveloped Third-World nations - including China, India, Brazil and Mexico - will be free to produce whatever they want. Yet 82 percent of the projected emissions growth in future years will come from these countries. This is why many critics see is global wealth redistribution scheme rather than a real plan to improve the environment.

    "The wealth of the United States is, and has always been, the target," says Tom DeWeese, president of the American Policy Center. "The new scheme to grab the loot is through environmental scare tactics."

    He predicts international corporations, "who owe allegiance to no nation, will bolt America and move their factories, lock, stock, and computer chip to those Third World countries where they will be free to carry on production. But that means the same emissions will be coming out of the jungles of South America instead of Chicago. So where is the protection of the environment? You see, it's not about that, is it?"

    He points out that hidden in the small print of the treaty is a provision that calls for the "harmonizing of patent laws."

    "Now, robbing a nation of its patent protection is an interesting tactic for protecting the environment, don't you think?" he adds.

  • by wild_berry (448019) on Monday January 24, 2005 @11:06AM (#11455422) Journal
    Greater energy within the earth's system means greater diversity in weather systems. So your record lows and Florida's huge hurricanes last year are a part of this process.

    The adaptation we need will involve burning less fossil-based fuels, and preparing the rest of the planet to survive the extremes of weather: Bangladesh floods every year the spring rains and this will get worse, so assistance will be needed to avoid massive loss of life. Adaptation so they survive? If you do something...
  • And what if... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by SaDan (81097) on Monday January 24, 2005 @11:08AM (#11455437) Homepage
    by "fixing" this warming trend, we don't really screw up some cycle the Earth goes through every couple of ten thousand years, and wipe out all of the rainforests? Or kill off a large percentage of sea life?

    The planet has been around MUCH longer than we have, and goes through warming/cooling trends we really don't know all that much about. Hell, the poles shift every once in a while too... You think we ought to "fix" that as well?
  • Re:I am tired (Score:3, Interesting)

    by MKalus (72765) <mkalus@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Monday January 24, 2005 @11:27AM (#11455634) Homepage
    You know, the 40 years that you have spent on this planet won't even register as a blip in the entire history of this planet.

    Just because it didn't happen yesterday doesn't mean we cannot observe real change.

    True, the current warming (I am in Edmonton and have +5 today?) could just be a blip (because of the large timeframe changes take on the planet) but it could also be a sign of things really getting screwed.

    As another poster pointed out: The planet will survive, we may not, at least not as cushy as it is right now.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 24, 2005 @11:29AM (#11455663)

    Watch all the euro-hippy doom-sayers come out, because 50 years of America-bashing can't be wrong.

    Any climate change we see or don't see may or may not be caused in part or in whole by man's existence and deeds. I'm not even opposed to erroring on the side of safety. I'm just not happy with the political agenda of the people that have hijacked environmentalism.

    And you'll have to forgive me for not immediately buying this climate change thing, because the last global environmental fix we needed was to save the ozone by banning CFCs, and several other chemicals that actually aren't anything like CFCs but have similar names. As it turns out, the science linking CFCs (and the complete lack of science concerning substances like HCFCs) to the ozone hole is deficient; there may be a relation, but it's not the one that they sold us.

    The truely funny part though, is that the available replacements for CFCs as refrigerents are less efficient and therefore contribute to -- you guessed it -- global warming due to increased energy use. So we got fake environmental fix that is actually contributing to the next environmental problem.

  • by batemanm (534197) <batemanm.gmail@com> on Monday January 24, 2005 @11:34AM (#11455722)
    I didn't learn that this was all junk science from oil industry propaganda. I saw this on the O'Reilly Factor and it had SCIENTISTS and EXPERTS on it saying that this was all bunk.

    And we all know that scientists and experts all live of thin air and don't need to eat. How do you know they were scientists and experts did you programme makers say so? That isn't proof, I watch Enterprise and get told we can travel faster than light it doesn't mean I should believe it. How do you know that the programme maker don't have an agenda and therefore chose scientists and experts that happen to agree with them. How do you know that those scientists and experts are not the only experts that believe global warming is junk while the other 99.99999% believe it is true. There is always disagrements concerning differing viewpoints in science. You _cannot_ make an informed decision about something from a television programme since they cannot present you with all the information that you need in order to make a decision. Considering that the people who are the most qualified to make that decision are the people who have PhDs in the field perhaps we should believe what the majority of them say. That doesn't mean that they are always right, both Newton and Einstein were wrong about certain aspects of their work. In fact Einstein spent about 30 years of his life being wrong because he could reconsile his religious views with the direction that physics had taken based on his earlier work.

    So maybe YOU just need to do a little research, my friend.

    And perhaps you need to think a little more about what you see on television nothing is presented without bias (including this post). People are inclined to believe what supports their view and dismiss information that doesn't even if that information is the overwhelming majority* . You have to learn to be objective.

    Maybe the view to take is if we take action against global warming and it was true we have saved ourselves but if global warming isn't true we haven't doom outselves just spent some more money and made the air a little cleaner (not a bad thing in my opion). On the other hand if we do nothing and there isn't such a thing as global warming then we are fine, but if global warming is true and we do nothing then we are screwed. Doing something about it seems to have a better outcome to me.

    * See Slashdot moderation for an example.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 24, 2005 @11:37AM (#11455750)
    "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."

    BIZZZZZTTTTT Wrong answer but thank you for playing. When will you political minded fear mongers get it through your heads? It is not that I don't understand what your saying! It is that I don't believe you! Get real! Answer two questions if you seriously believe this. A why are there no trees in Greenland now and their were 1000 years ago when man arrived their? Hint humans' cutting them down is the wrong answer. It got way colder their over the last few centuries. Would it surprise anyone to learn that the global cooling that caused that nearly wiped out the human population? It sure would me. If fact WE DID NOT EVEN NOTICE and until we proved that at one time it was warm there (well more like Iceland then an ice sheet) we thought the people that named it had a sick sense of humor.

    Question 2 Are we or are we not in a cooling pattern right now? More as it applies to the last 1500 years or so. The answer is we don't know. Now what I want to know is how can you establish a norm without a baseline? You know basic science here what is it supposed to be?

    Is it really flame bait?
  • by BigFire (13822) on Monday January 24, 2005 @11:41AM (#11455795)
    Human activities masked another Ice Age [examiner.ie]. Kind of like the novel, Fallen Angels [larryniven.org] by Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle and Michael Flynn.
  • by Detritus (11846) on Monday January 24, 2005 @11:42AM (#11455803) Homepage
    Let's say that Pakistan and India go to war, and it escalates to nuclear war. Each side is estimated to have roughly 70 small fission weapons. Even if all of these weapons were assembled, delivered and detonated, the global environmental effects would be minimal. A substantial number of Indians and Pakistanis would be killed or injured, and the political and economic consequences would probably be severe for the region, but there would still be very large human populations in the area. Life would suck, even more than usual, for the survivors. The cities would be rebuilt and life would continue.
  • by hairykrishna (740240) on Monday January 24, 2005 @11:44AM (#11455824)
    Poxy Hummer. I'm placing a bid on this bad boy: http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&ca tegory=9883&item=4520636938&rd=1 [ebay.co.uk]

    Two seven ltr V8 petrol engines. Those soviets sure knew how to make an off- roader.

  • Re:Original Study? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by iwan-nl (832236) on Monday January 24, 2005 @11:53AM (#11455954) Homepage
    nothing [...] can ultimately compare to the question of Human survival.

    I think most (non-domesticated) animals won't agree. I hope you ment to say something like this:
    " to us, nothing can ultimately compare to the question of Human survival."

    The Earth is truly nothing without us.

    Yeah, just like earth was truly nothing during those 4 billion years that passed before we came along.

    You may think I'm some vegetarian, pot-smoking hippy. But then again, I am.

  • by optimus2861 (760680) on Monday January 24, 2005 @11:56AM (#11455986)
    The relatively warm period (compared to a full glacial period, anyway) we've experienced over the past 10-15,000 years is only an interglacial period of the current Ice Age.

    Pick your link [google.ca] (Umm, except that one about the Genesis flood...)

  • by CAIMLAS (41445) on Monday January 24, 2005 @11:57AM (#11455991) Homepage
    Heh. here [slashdot.org] is a post I made shortly prior to my response.

    I'm well aware of the various implications. I just don't think it's as bleak as everyone makes out to be. Sure, there might be killing, chaos, and a fairly abrupt end to our current way of life (IMO, things will simply reach critical mass and go reactor critical). The dollar losing value will likely have a large impact as well. There'll be a fair amount of cultural residue for a good while after US decline hits critical, I think, but we can likely expect the US to disappear from the world arena.

    Whether that means the US is completely demolished and most of its citizens resort to rogue states (or smaller citizen states) or the US is simply converted to 3rd-world status with constant terrorist problems, I don't know. But those are the unfortunate scenarios I see playing out in my mind.

    How can we prevent this from happening? I don't rightly know, and I don't really think we can. I do know that city residents won't likely have a good chance of surviving.

    I personally kind of romanticize about such a situation in some respects, as it would be a true test of a person's "worth", if you will: you wouldn't survive unless you've got the skills and inborn abilities to "make a living" - in the purest sense of the phrase. The economy of skill would be balanced, with people who make copious amounts of money as a trader or corporate tycoon getting blasted back down to the level of factory workers by the over-night worthlessness of all their money and stocks. "Men would be men", as the saying goes, with personal merit being the truest form of assessment available - not how much someone is worth or what kind of car they drive, but what they know and can do.

    Yes, I realize this is romanticized quite a deal. Yes, there will likely be death, murder, mayhem, disease, and starvation. It would be a natural restabilization of ecology, though. We've lived on the tit of oil for too long, and the earth can't bend that way much longer.
  • by optimus2861 (760680) on Monday January 24, 2005 @12:03PM (#11456066)
    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.

    You don't know the half of it. We've had three blizzards in the last seven days. The winds are still howling outside right now.

    Days like this I wouldn't mind a little of that global warming ;).

  • by argoff (142580) on Monday January 24, 2005 @12:04PM (#11456083)
    No No No No, the only thing I agree is that it's not the planet, it is us! Countries have had all sorts of pressure, eg the former USSR, but that has not caused global political disaster beacuse even when in desperate straights people can still make the choices necissary to act in their own best interest.

    The *REAL* issue is that today many countries have signed a treaty (Kyoto) and the only reason why they think that it is a good deal is because it tries to screw the US harder than all the other countries combined. Its promoters know that they only chance they have of getting it thru is by screaming bloody murder that the sky is falling every time a weather or temperature anoymaly occurs. And since the last few years have had record sun spots (which coorelate 1000 times better than man made activities BTW) they have been exploiting that to the max.

    The most pity-full part is that the treaty would actually make things far worse if implemented. The new regulations would increase the barriers to entry for the fossel fuel industries, which would drive down competition, which would allow them to reap more profits, which would guarantee the securement of financing to use up as much pollution "shares" as possible - and if anyone thinks that the rules wouldn't be "tweeked" once they've maxed out and locked in their monopoly, then I have some shares of the Brookland bridge to sell you.

    Ironically, countries like US today tend to be moving away from an industrial production based economey that uses heavy environmental resources to an information based service one that tends to be more efficient. Kyoto would do allot to help dying industrial rellics lock in high prices to live a little longer, but nothing to promote such a service based economy or the environment.
  • Re:Original Study? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ChrisMaple (607946) on Monday January 24, 2005 @12:13PM (#11456190)
    As I understand it, particulates are in the air because they are produced continuously. Any substantial reduction in particulate production would quickly (1 or 2 years) reduce the quantity in the air, thus reducing the "global dimming".

    Particulates are heavier than air, and consequently sink out of the air. The particles that settle on water mostly continue sinking.

    Most of the weather effects of Mt. Minatubo were gone in two years.

  • by RayBender (525745) on Monday January 24, 2005 @12:19PM (#11456253) Homepage
    This of course ignores the whole fact that no one agrees that we've actually "turned the burner on" as far as Earth is concerned.

    We have. It's indisputable that we are releasing CO2 into the atmosphere, and that CO2 levels are rising. It's also beyond dispute that CO2 absorbs IR radiation, and that such absorption will act to warm the surface. That means to me that "we've turned on the burner". People argue about negative feedback that might counteract the warming effect - but that's not the "burner".

    Further we don't know what would happen if we "turned the burner off"

    We know withing some range of uncertainty; and the odds are that it would be less disruptive than keeping the burner on. We have recent historical data to indiucate what the world does at lower CO2 levels, and it's probably ok.

    The other article about Global Dimming also would suggest that there are other changes we aren't accounting for.

    I remember studying the effects of aerosols 5 years ago in my radiative transfer class; the effect you mention is a second-order effect that will amplify current warming trends.

    It's a complex system that is "described" using things like chaos theory.

    "Chaos theory" is one of those words that should never be used in a scientific/political context because it means different things to different people. You seem to think it means "can't be predicted and so isn't real". In a scientific context it has a more definite meaning; and my example does include that - fluid flow during boiling is "chaotic" and unpredictable. The effect of radiative forcing on climate is somewhat less so.

    statistical analysis against the old "hockey stick" temperature data suggests that the seed data is flawed and will always create a hockey stick shaped graph no matter what data is fed in to it.

    That's an underhanded piece of crap for an argument. Care to provide a reference for that claim? Care to defend it? I take issue with you blithely dismissing many thousands of temperature measurements from dozens of researchers based on some bogus "statistical argument" that you won't even elaborate.

    p.s. Why was my original comment modded "flamebait"? It wasn't inflammatory. Overrated I could accept, but "flamebait" is just wrong.

  • by eventhorizon5 (533026) <ryan.tliquest@net> on Monday January 24, 2005 @12:34PM (#11456488) Homepage
    >They are conveniently ignoring the fact that 6 Billion human beings BREATHING emit more CO2 in one year than all of the fossil fuels that have been combusted since they were first extracted from the ground.

    Actually they're not ignoring that lol ;) A while back one group claimed that *anything* that emits CO2 was a pollutant. By using a little logic (which is a good thing haha), that would immediately include humans and all animals. Countries might as well just start doing Stalin-like population reduction tactics (and my family history goes into that - my grandpa escaped the Ukraine during Stalin's mass starvation tactics; my grandma lived in West Germany and her dad was very outspoken against Hitler; her family was always afraid he was going to be taken away)

    -eventhorizon
  • by Chris Mattern (191822) on Monday January 24, 2005 @12:35PM (#11456516)
    Or, if you want a link Geocities hasn't shut down for bandwidth overuse, you can try this. [snowcrest.net]

    Chris Mattern
  • Re:Original Study? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by j-turkey (187775) on Monday January 24, 2005 @12:43PM (#11456598) Homepage
    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.

    I agree that skepticism shouldn't mean inaction...but where we will disagree is the question of how much action is necessary over how much time.

    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.

    Well...here's where we will certainly disagree. First of all, your "*no other option*" assertion is just silly. There are certainly other options. The same people flailing about global warming are also flailing that our oil reserves will be gone in a week. If they're right about both things, who cares, right? If fossil fuels go away, global warming won't be a problem, right? (I mean, disregarding the alarmist "point of no return" in TFA). Also, you are totally wrong about "every shred of evidence...". Well, not totally wrong -- because I'm assuming that you're saying that every shred of evidence points to global warming...caused by humans. You made this statement without actually objectively looking at the data. The fact is that if you look at climate changes over geologic time, the climate change that we have witnessed is not even a blip on the radar screen. In fact, the climate change we've seen doesn't look like anything that falls outside of normal long-term climate trending. What is alarming is that this trend coincides with the industrial revolution (which is why I believe that some action is warranted). But is normal climate change trends coinciding with the industrial revolution rock-solid, ironclad evidence of anything? No, probably not...no more than the Bible is proof of the existance of god (I'll fill this in for the hardcore believers...the Bible is not evidence of anything). Does the evidence that we do have mean that we need to start freaking out now? No. We've got enough ameteur alarmist scientists around to tell us what conclusions we should draw from the data. To draw on my previous religious analogy: There are millions and millions of religious folks who will tell us that we are in imminent danger of eternal damnation if we don't accept their god in their way. Now, by your logic, it's probably safest to just listen to the largest religious group, and accept their god to save us from eternal damnation. I mean, they're the largest group and 50,000,000 Elvis fans can't be wrong, can they? Personally, I don't care for the message, and just because the consequences are more dire, doesn't mean that I'm going to believe them any more. Now, I understand that global warming is different from religion, but by your logic, it isn't. You want this taken as gospel, and you're similar to them in that they would tell us that everyone who doesn't believe them (or contradicts them) is an agent of the devil.

    It means: not stopping current trends of production, and only industry lobbyists are being skeptical.

    IANAIL (I am not an industry lobbyist) and I still disagree with you as a healthy skeptic. I am also not religious, and not an agant of the devil either.

  • Re:Original Study? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by thered (256861) on Monday January 24, 2005 @12:43PM (#11456603)
    This article just sounds like more scare mongering...As always, the devil is in the details, I want to see the details.

    The head of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) - hand picked by the Bush administation - a person who was intrusted to find the "devil in the details," has begun to '[call] for immediate and "very deep" cuts in the pollution if humanity is to "survive"'. Dr Rajendra Pachauri [independent.co.uk] is no Chicken Little when it comes to global climate change.

  • Re:Already Flipped (Score:2, Interesting)

    by spike1 (675478) on Monday January 24, 2005 @01:05PM (#11456913)
    Pah, flooded indeed.

    They didn't sink and drown
    They launched their city into space and took up residence in the pegasus galaxy.

    THEN they sunk the city, deliberately. :-p
  • by rkischuk (463111) on Monday January 24, 2005 @01:39PM (#11457413)
    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).
    Are you aware of what China looks like NOW? There's a near-permanent haze over most of eastern China [nasa.gov]. I was there in October, and even on a "sunny" day, we couldn't see the sun. Most mornings in Hong Kong, we could barely see across the Bund, and even at mid-day, good luck seeing all the way across town, or seeing the tops of the skyscrapers. Even in more rural areas, the sun was something seen dimly through the haze.

    Perhaps in western countries, we turn out some sort of less-visible and more harmful pollution, but there are perhaps only a few U.S. cities that come even close to the garbage we saw covering the entire eastern region of China. Judging from the responsibility they take with their industrial pollution there, I can only imagine that mass-owned vehicles over there would have little emissions control and make the problem even worse, if that's possible.

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

    by khallow (566160) on Monday January 24, 2005 @02:04PM (#11457766)
    I'm a trained biologist, but not *not* an eco-nut. However the variety of scientific evidence coming out lately, combined with the interesting stuff on global dimming has got me seriously worried. And I mean seriously.

    I'm sure you are right and the Earth's biosphere will probably cope, over the space of a few thousand years. However I have a two year old daughter, and I would really rather prefer her to enjoy the fruits of our society, rather than watching N. American and Europe become a dust-bowl over the next 40 years.

    I want to see hard evidence and good, proven climate models. One thing I've noticed is that we seem to be heavy on the scary speculation and light on actual warming. And a dust bowl over the next 40 years? Could happen since its happened before, but would it be due to global warming?

    I think one way you could help your daughter is by thinking rationally about these things. We're hearing about the potential dangers of global warming but not about the dangers of restricting economic growth which is currently bettering peoples' lives all over the globe. The benefits of any solution to a problem should also be weighed against the costs of that solution. I just don't see a lot of thought being put into public policies for global warming.

  • by jtriangle (106516) on Monday January 24, 2005 @02:24PM (#11458025)
    You raise some good points and I am concerned about a lot of them too. I do have three children to feed. However, I refuse to run around in a panic just because "a task force of senior politicians, business leaders and academics from around the world" are scared. This is not science, it's politics. In fact most everything I read about Global Warming reeks of politics.

    Read this essay for a more detailed explaination on why I refuse to scare easily:

    http://www.sepp.org/NewSEPP/GW-Aliens-Crichton.htm l [sepp.org]
  • Global Cooling (Score:2, Interesting)

    by pete-classic (75983) <hutnick@gmail.com> on Monday January 24, 2005 @02:26PM (#11458055) Homepage Journal
    Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

    Countdown to global catastrophe
    By Michael McCarthy
    24 January 2005

    In as little as 10 years, or even less, their report indicates, the point of no return with global warming may have been reached.


    Terrifying!


    The Cooling World
    April 28, 1975

    There are ominous signs that the Earth's weather patterns have begun to change dramatically and that these changes may portend a drastic decline in food production- with serious political implications for just about every nation on Earth. The drop in food output could begin quite soon, perhaps only 10 years from now.


    Terrifying!

    We've already seen this "movement" abandoning "global warming" in favor of "global climate change."

    I'm going to make my own prediction:


    Climate, Like, Totally Changing
    04 July 2035

    There's no question that the Earth's climate is changing, but leading scientist predict that it will be, like, totally changed within as little as, like, 10 years. Or even less. OMG!


    Terrifying!

    -Peter
  • by Yartrebo (690383) on Monday January 24, 2005 @02:41PM (#11458264)
    Well, it annoys me that you get to choose the temperature and CO2 levels on my property.

    If you can get a zero-emissions SUV (or one that only releases harmless gasses like H20 or CO2 in a closed cycle like with biofuels), then it wouldn't be any of my business, but that SUV pollutes and effects me, so it is my business.

    It's also my business what other countries do, since their pollution does effect me.

    CO2 is a global problem, and individualism is not going to solve it.
  • by Lars T. (470328) <Lars DOT Traeger AT googlemail DOT com> on Monday January 24, 2005 @02:42PM (#11458283) Journal
    From The Discovery of Global Warming [aip.org]:
    In January 1961, on a snowy and unusually cold day in New York City, J. Murray Mitchell, Jr. of the U.S. Weather Bureau's Office of Climatology told a meeting of meteorologists that the world's temperature was falling.

    [...]Around 1980 two groups undertook to work through the numbers in all their grubby details, rejecting sets of uncertain data and tidying up the rest. One group was in New York, funded by NASA and led by James Hansen. They understood that the work by Mitchell and others mainly described the Northern Hemisphere, since that was where the great majority of reliable observations lay. Sorting through the more limited temperature observations from the other half of the world, they got reasonable averages by applying the same mathematical methods that they had used to get average numbers in their computer models of climate. (After all, Hansen remarked, when he studied other planets he might judge the entire planet by the single station where a probe had landed.) In 1981, the group reported that "the common misconception that the world is cooling is based on Northern Hemisphere experience to 1970." Just around the time that meteorologists had noticed the cooling trend, such as it was, it had apparently reversed. From a low point in the mid 1960s, by 1980 the world had warmed some 0.2C.

    Hansen's group looked into the causes of the fluctuations, and they got a rather good match for the temperature record using volcanic eruptions plus solar variations. Greenhouse warming by CO2 had not been a major factor (at least, not yet). More sophisticated analyses in the 1990s would eventually confirm these findings. From the 1940s to the early 1960s, the Northern Hemisphere had indeed cooled while temperatures had held roughly steady in the south. This was largely because of normal variations in natural forces, although industrial aerosol pollution had helped. Then the warming had resumed in both hemispheres.

    The temporary northern cooling had been bad luck for climate science. By feeding skepticism about the greenhouse effect, while provoking some scientists and many journalists to speculate publicly about the coming of a new ice age, the cool spell gave the field a reputation for fecklessness that it would not soon live down.

    Any greenhouse warming had been masked by chance fluctuations in solar activity, by pulses of volcanic aerosols, and by increased haze from pollution. Furthermore, as a few scientists pointed out, the upper layer of the oceans must have been absorbing heat. These effects could only delay atmospheric warming by a few decades. Hansen's group boldly predicted that considering how fast CO2 was accumulating, by the end of the 20th century "carbon dioxide warming should emerge from the noise level of natural climatic variability." Around the same time, a few other scientists using different calculations came to the same conclusion -- the warming would show itself clearly sometime around 2000.

    In January 1961, on a snowy and unusually cold day in New York City, J. Murray Mitchell, Jr. of the U.S. Weather Bureau's Office of Climatology told a meeting of meteorologists that the world's temperature was falling.
  • by Yartrebo (690383) on Monday January 24, 2005 @02:56PM (#11458507)
    Count yourselves lucky for the expensive petrol. I'm sure that the price keeps usage down, meaning that you have more to export. The taxes also help pay for what is some of the best, if not the best, social services in the world.

    I'm sure that is my country (USA) taxed petrol even half as much as Norway taxes it, there would be massive amounts of money to help reduce the deficit, and our balance of trade would improve tremendously.
  • by MacDork (560499) on Monday January 24, 2005 @03:18PM (#11458829) Journal
    Err, no? Heh, look at the area around chernobyl

    Why not look a little closer to home? 2000 nuclear weapons were detonated over a period of about 40 years by the United States government. About 500 were above ground tests. That averages one test every two weeks with one above ground every two months for a period of four decades.

  • by tmortn (630092) on Monday January 24, 2005 @04:03PM (#11459545) Homepage
    Perhaps in round one when there is something sieze. but prolonged agricultural displacement does not favor such tactics.

    It favors survivors that can live off the land in ways that simply cannot sustain a large concentrated populations.

    If you kill the high yield crop centers you kill modern civilization.

    Odds are in the event of a true shift you would see a mad scramble to move agricultural production capacity to where the new sweetspots for agriculture occured due to new weather patterns. Additionally you would see a massive attempt to increase agricultural independence from weather in the less severely affected areas. For example massive greenhouse structures and hydrofarms which suddenly become viable because the alternative is starvation. WWII levels of population effort might for the first time be marshalled for something other than war. We went from fabric covered wood planes to jet fighters in about 8 years for WWII, one wonders what 8 years of similar effort could do to our food production process given the right motivation.

    I think it would be unwise to dismiss the ability to technology to adapat a solution that would preserve alot even in the face of significant climate changes. Remember we are talking very small average changes here except perhaps for Europe if the Gulfstream died. The changes will be real and in time dissatrous for current agricultural centers but they will not be on the ridiculousely short time scale of "Day After Tommorrow". Adapting could be more like moving out of the way of a slow flow of lava than a surprise tsunami.

    It is dangerous. But only if we don't adapt fast enough. Folks we are pretty adaptable. Have faith. Short of a super crater erruption, or asteroid impact I doubt climate change is going to get us any time soon. Just the same I doubt investing in beach front property would be the wisest thing if the more serious ocean rising predictions begin to pan out.
  • by pete-classic (75983) <hutnick@gmail.com> on Monday January 24, 2005 @04:06PM (#11459607) Homepage Journal
    I'm not a Scientist. I don't read Scientific journals. The source of my quote above is this transcript [globalclimate.org] of a Newsweek article.

    I didn't say anything about a frenzy. I have demonstrated that the "environmental movement" used the very same scare-tactics in the past over "global cooling" that they use today over "global warming" and "global climate change."

    I wrote the Earth Day folks and asked them if the first Earth Day was, as I'd heard, to raise awareness of global cooling. The ignored me. I'm inclined to take this to mean that it was.

    This whole thing is rather separate from the Scientific issue, which I don't pretend to be informed about. The BS seems to be impenetrable on both sides of the debate. :-/

    -Peter
  • by EvilTwinSkippy (112490) <yoda&etoyoc,com> on Monday January 24, 2005 @04:45PM (#11460239) Homepage Journal
    Half the world's land area is uninhabited. [mindfully.org] Most of the uninhabited areas are desert and mountain wilderness.

    So really, we are talking about 0.02% of the (usable) Earth's surface. My point is that it just so happens to be the 0.02% where more than 1 billion (and counting) people live, in the neighborhood of another country (China) that is in the path of the fallout with another 1 billion (and counting) people.

    Powder keg... meet Mr. Match.

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

    by WhiplashII (542766) on Monday January 24, 2005 @05:37PM (#11461075) Homepage Journal
    For many people (I would venture to say most of the US), public transportation is not an option. I live in Chicago now, so I can see how many people would not understand that (I didn't even own a car for 3 years, and didn't really miss it), but much of the US is sparsely populated.

    Sparsely populated can mean 100-200 miles to nearest store. There is no public transportation available (because there is practically no public!). I have lived in areas where driving to the nearest department store would be equivalent to driving through 2 countries in Europe! People just cannot get this if they haven't lived it. Especially people from California and Europe.

    Removing cars by economics (because that is they only way it could be done) would take cars away from the poor rural areas that need them, and would keep them in the rich cities. Yes, people would really die. My father was the only Pediatrician (Children's Doctor) within 200 miles of where I once lived. Cars were absolutely necessary.

    That is the problem with trying to decide things for others - you don't have enough information to make the correct decision. In fact, that is why the free market economy works so well, because the one making the decision is at the lowest level and has (presumably) the best information.

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