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Science News

New Climate Change Warning 1023

Posted by samzenpus
from the getting-warmer-every-day dept.
sebFlyte writes "A new grid computing climate research project, climateprediction.net, has come up with its first major results, and they're really not good news for the planet according to the BBC. The simulations suggest that over the next hundred years we could see average rises of average temperatures of up to 11K, more than twice what was previously thought."
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New Climate Change Warning

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  • by gardyloo (512791) on Wednesday January 26, 2005 @11:19PM (#11488207)
    This thing was run on so many PCs. They obviously took the simulation itself into account -- good job!
    • Re:It's because.... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by demachina (71715) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @12:21AM (#11488727)
      Here is a good resource on global warming from EPA and National Science Foundation [epa.gov] though there estimates are little lower, 6 celsius is there upper end over the next century. The most impressive thing about this web site is that its created by people in the U.S. government, the Bush White House hasn't shut it down and they haven't fired the people who created it, so shhhhh don't tell them about it because they must know its there because they really hate anyone who says stuff like this.

      One of the more interesting sections. Those of you who've been through the big rains on the West Coast and the big snows on the East Coast should note that intense rainstorms and presumably snow storms are a potential indicator of global warming as the oceans evaporate off more water as they warm.

      "Global mean surface temperatures have increased 0.5-1.0F since the late 19th century. The 20th century's 10 warmest years all occurred in the last 15 years of the century. Of these, 1998 was the warmest year on record. The snow cover in the Northern Hemisphere and floating ice in the Arctic Ocean have decreased. Globally, sea level has risen 4-8 inches over the past century. Worldwide precipitation over land has increased by about one percent. The frequency of extreme rainfall events has increased throughout much of the United States."

      "Increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases are likely to accelerate the rate of climate change. Scientists expect that the average global surface temperature could rise 1-4.5F (0.6-2.5C) in the next fifty years, and 2.2-10F (1.4-5.8C) in the next century, with significant regional variation. Evaporation will increase as the climate warms, which will increase average global precipitation. Soil moisture is likely to decline in many regions, and intense rainstorms are likely to become more frequent. Sea level is likely to rise two feet along most of the U.S. coast."
      • Re:It's because.... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by calidoscope (312571) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @02:28AM (#11489665)
        Global mean surface temperatures have increased 0.5-1.0F since the late 19th century.

        A complicating factor is that 1850 marked the end of a several century global cooling event. The years 800 to 1200 AD were considerably warmer than from AD 1400 to 1800.

      • by Syberghost (10557)
        The most impressive thing about this web site is that its created by people in the U.S. government, the Bush White House hasn't shut it down and they haven't fired the people who created it, so shhhhh don't tell them about it because they must know its there because they really hate anyone who says stuff like this.

        A lesser man would have interpreted that as evidence that the "conventional wisdom" that the Bush administration covers this stuff up might be in error. I salute your unshakeable faith.
    • by Acts of Attrition (635948) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @12:21AM (#11488728)
      This is no laughing matter.
      The avg temp is going to go up 11000 degrees!
      We're doomed!
  • Someday... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by davew2040 (300953) on Wednesday January 26, 2005 @11:19PM (#11488208) Journal
    Someday people are going to feel awfully silly that they were worrying about terrorism instead of the warning signs of ecological degeneration.
    • It's better to deal with one issue then to not deal with any issues at all.

      You have to prioritize based on immediate threat.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 26, 2005 @11:34PM (#11488352)
        You also have to prioritise based upon possible casualties and cost of the threat.

        Terrorism in the USA: A few billion dollars, a few thousand lives, maybe once every 10 years.

        Warming: Sea defences, mass migration from low-land, and everything else: Hundreds of billions of dollars, millions? of lives, over the next 100 years.
      • More people die in cars than in terrorist attacks every year.

        Terrorism is overhyped. Planes are STILL the safest way to travel, yet we have this screening program hiring McDonalds rejects.

      • "You have to prioritize based on immediate threat."

        And what threat did Iraq pose?? No WMD. They Saddam was contained.

        Let's face it. This was a blood for votes war started by Bush.

        It's costing us billions of dollars and over 1000 American lives. And I don't give a shit if we did capture Saddam. His capture wasn't worth a single American life!

        I only hope that history will paint Bush as the evil little mental midget that he really is.
        • by That's Unpossible! (722232) * on Thursday January 27, 2005 @12:23AM (#11488746)
          And what threat did Iraq pose?? No WMD.

          Actually, they did have WMD. Sarin gas for starters. What else went over the border to Syria and Iran, we'll probably never know. Absence of proof is not proof of absence. Even the report that the media trotted out a few months ago highlighting the "NO WMDs" claim made it very clear that Saddam was going to keep his eyes on the WMD prize.

          And this is completely setting aside the question of the oppression of Iraqis.

          Let's face it. This was a blood for votes war started by Bush.

          Wait, first it was a blood for oil war. But then everyone pointed out we weren't making out on Iraqi oil. (Just the UN made out on that, right?)

          Now it's a ... blood for votes war? The war divided the fucking USA. How exactly did that win him votes? He won by a larger majority than 2000, but you act as if the war sealed the deal. I mean, the war was the single most hated thing about Bush by the left.

          It's costing us billions of dollars and over 1000 American lives. And I don't give a shit if we did capture Saddam. His capture wasn't worth a single American life!

          Is he worth hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives? Because that's how many his men have killed since he was in power. And they didn't just die from bombings, we're talking rape and torture. And no, not the kind of torture where people have sex in front of you and make you undress, but the kind where things are shoved up your ass that don't belong in your ass, where you are slowly killed, you know, real torture.

          And that's not even counting the Iraqis that were just made to suffer under his rule.

          I only hope that history will paint Bush as the evil little mental midget that he really is.

          Sad to tell you this, but if Iraq gets a taste of democracy and it catches on in the middle east, Bush is going to be the Reagan of the 21st century.
          • by Coryoth (254751) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @12:59AM (#11489068) Homepage Journal
            Sad to tell you this, but if Iraq gets a taste of democracy and it catches on in the middle east

            Yes, that's one possible outcome for Iraq. Another possible outcome is that out of all the chaos Iraq manages to form itself into an Islamic state - what Zawahiri and bin Laden have been trying (and repeatedly failing) to do for the last 15 years or so. Who knows, Zawahiri and bin Laden believe that, sould that actually happen it will cause the muslim masses to rise up, overthrow their leaders and create a slew of Islamic states throughout the middle east. That was, is, and will be their goal. For the most part the state "jihad against America" is a way to try and rally support - a lesson they learned when their attempted efforts in, for instance, Algeria failed to attract the support of the masses (oddly the general population was rather repelled, rather than attracted by, their violence).

            So, we have 2 competing theories:

            (1) Install a democracy in the Iraq and watch democracy then sweep the middle east.

            (2) Rally support by encouraging people to rise up against the Americans that interfere in middle east politics and institute an Islamic state in Iraq. The Islamic Jihad movement can then sweep the middle east.

            To be honest, no matter what happens in Iraq, I don't really expect anything to "sweep the middle east". In the meantime though the two theories seem to be fairly well in balance. Iraq is in chaos, there's ill will by the common people toward the US, and Islamic clerics (like al Sadr) are polling very well leading up the elections. In the meantime Iraq is actually having free and open elections so democracy will arrive. It looks to me if things could go either way - which means I'm not so sure this whole "introduce democracy and watch it spread through the middle east" idea was quite all it was cracked up to be.

            Jedidiah.
          • by metamatic (202216) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @01:31AM (#11489328) Homepage Journal
            Is he worth hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives? Because that's how many his men have killed since he was in power.

            And guess what? We killed ten of thousands ourselves "liberating" them [washingtonpost.com], and now the civilian death rate is worse than it was under Saddam [jhsph.edu].

            And they didn't just die from bombings, we're talking rape and torture. And no, not the kind of torture where people have sex in front of you and make you undress, but the kind where things are shoved up your ass that don't belong in your ass, where you are slowly killed, you know, real torture.

            You mean like the Iraqi teenager who was seen in Abu Ghraib, lying on the floor with his anus bleeding [xciv.org] while US troops discussed sodomizing him with metal objects? I guess that story didn't get reported on FOX News, huh?

            • And guess what? We killed ten of thousands ourselves "liberating" them

              That is what happens in a war. However, we did not intentionally kill civilians, unlike Saddam. And our goal is to free everyone there, unlike Saddam's goals.

              Do you know how many millions died fighting the good fight in WW2? How many innocent civilians? Does this mean we shouldn't have fought that war? There's more to war than just black and white.

              now the civilian death rate is worse than it was under Saddam.

              Ummm, nope, sorry, it's
    • the scientists who 30 years ago said we were starting experience global cooling. Or the intellectuals who said that the world couldn't support more than 2 billion people. Or, dare we mention, the people who claimed Y2K would matter.
  • by hwestiii (11787) on Wednesday January 26, 2005 @11:19PM (#11488210) Homepage
    I suspect that the planet will be fine in either case. Now perhaps not good news for it inhabitants...
    • mod parent up insightful

      The planet couldn't care less about change, the organisms on it are another matter. The organisms that evolve thanks to wonderous change may very well thank us for our SUV-driving efforts.

      I, for one, welcome the coming of our new -40 degree Celcius winter defeating climate masters.

    • by savagedome (742194) on Wednesday January 26, 2005 @11:28PM (#11488312)
      Planet will be fine. This is just the planet's way to get rid of us. We were here to create plastic and that need is over.

      In the words of George Carlin:

      If plastic is not degradable, well, the planet will simply incorporate plastic into a new paradigm: the earth plus plastic. The earth doesn't share our prejudice towards plastic. Plastic came out of the earth. The earth probably sees plastic as just another one of its children. Could be the only reason the earth allowed us to be spawned from it in the first place. It wanted plastic for itself. Didn't know how to make it. Needed us. Could be the answer to our age-old egocentric philosophical question, 'Why are we here?' Plastic...asshole.
    • I suspect that the planet will be fine in either case. Now perhaps not good news for it inhabitants...

      I am willing to make the ultimate sacrifice, since both the U.S. government administration and I are both inhabitants of Earth. Much like fucking the fat chick at the bar while your friends get the hot chicks that are her friends, this is called "taking one for the team." Ah, short end of the stick. We meet again...

  • by Space cowboy (13680) * on Wednesday January 26, 2005 @11:19PM (#11488214) Journal
    Disclaimer: I actually do think there's something in the global warming argument. I think putting loads more energy into a chaotic system gives that system the freedom to explore states in its phase space that could cause us some real grief. I actually don't care if "the planet will survive, it's seen worse". I'd prefer to survive personally, and I'd like to keep a few other humans around as well...

    However I think the results are pretty conclusive in their own right and right-minded politicians ought to be doing something on that basis alone (they're finally beginning to, as well :-). I don't think that alarmist, over-the-top "reports" are doing any real good - in fact I think they harm the argument they try to represent.

    So, by varying the parameters in a simulation, they've found a range of temperature increases which we should engender reactions from "concerned" (2 degrees) through "terrified" (11 degrees). Hey, I admitted my bias in the first paragraph! The press reports the "terrified" figure and it's big news. Until someone points out that it's a Normal distribution, and the massively-more-likely figure is in the "worried" temperature range of (guessing here) 5-6 degrees.

    The problem is not that the scientists are lying (they're not), and not that the press are lying either (they're not). The problem is a lack of understanding of the end-result in announcing a catastrophe and then saying "No, we'll be ok". There's a fable about this, and it involves a boy crying "wolf" too many times...

    I'm not sure who's to blame. Should the scientists state more forcefully what their expectation is rather than the extremes of their results? Would they ever get published in that case ? Should journalists be held accountable for doing the equivalent of shouting "Fire" in a theatre ? Well, a journalist's job is not to report the news, it's to sell papers, and catastrophes sell better. Perhaps there's a need for a neutral ground, some sort of arbiter that can interpret the results in a way the public can understand (since no-one seems to take science these days), but *that*'s open to *easy* abuse as well.

    Perhaps science was better off in its ivory tower after all. That's a depressing thought. Perhaps the best solution would be to comprehensively educate people about science (better, about statistics) and beat the snake-oil salesmen at their own game.

    Simon.
  • 11K? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by t3hl33t (853427)
    11K? Is that 11 000 *unknown units* or 11 degrees kelvin? If 11 degrees kelvin, why not just say 11 degrees celsius...
    • Re:11K? (Score:2, Informative)

      by yabos (719499)
      There is no degrees Kelvin. It's just 11 Kelvin. And it sounds more sciencey. Even though 11K = 11 degrees C.
      • Re:11K? (Score:3, Informative)

        by Teclis (772299)
        11K = 11 degrees C

        wrong.. 11K is not 11 degrees C. 11K is -262 degrees C. What I think you meant to say is that a difference of 11K is equal to a difference of 11 degrees C.
  • Hmm.. (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Oh well. As long as it's the The Century After The Next, and not the day after tomorrow... not my problem.

    If I have any kids, I'll be sure to painfully torture them myself long before climate becomes an issue.
  • The cause (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 26, 2005 @11:20PM (#11488230)
    Here's a graphic [alexrosen.net] that shows the cause of all this, in a particularly vivid way.
    Almost fell off my chair when I first saw this info...
  • by sdo1 (213835) on Wednesday January 26, 2005 @11:20PM (#11488231) Journal
    All this snow in the northeast is really starting to piss me off.

    -S
  • Anyone else read Michael Crichton's latest novel State of Fear [nytimes.com]?

    He has an interesting take on the subject, backed with documentation to his sources.
    • Hmm, an interesting review was posted on Slate: http://slate.msn.com/id/2110815 [msn.com]

      Not so good. I've had some issues with Chrichton and his reactionary, conservative stance before. This could help you take some of it with a grain of salt.

      Or not, I don't propose to be an expert. Just thought it might interest you.
    • by IvyMike (178408) on Wednesday January 26, 2005 @11:34PM (#11488366)
      Anyone else read Michael Crichton's latest novel State of Fear? The scientists at RealClimate [realclimate.org] read it; they're not impressed. [realclimate.org] For the lazy, here's the conclusion:
      In summary, I am a little disappointed, not least because while researching this book, Crichton actually visited our lab and discussed some of these issues with me and a few of my colleagues. I guess we didn't do a very good job. Judging from his reading list, the rather dry prose of the IPCC reports did not match up to the some of the racier contrarian texts. Had RealClimate been up and running a few years back, maybe it would've all worked out differently...
  • It was sunny today.

    The news was unable to predict either of these to any accuracy only 24 hours prior to the weather event.

    You want to believe that they can predict the weather 100 years from now?
    • First off -- I'm quite doubtful about the credibility of the eco-folks who cry Global Warming out loud every other week.

      That said, long term generic predictions are easier than short-term precision predictions simply due to the fact that you have more information and flexibility.

      However, we do not really have all that much information from our past to begin with and the system is too chaotic for folks to even begin formulating "predictions".

      But that does not seem to stop our "climatologists" though.
      • by Capt'n Hector (650760) on Wednesday January 26, 2005 @11:39PM (#11488397)
        Flamebait, but... I'm gunna hafta bite. Chaotic systems are predictable. A pot of boiling water is chaotic. But I can make several predictions. If I turn up the heat, the water will boil faster. If I leave the pot there for a long time, all the water will be gone from the pot. The atmosphere is chaotic in that it's a bitch to predict whether it will be sunny or raining two weeks from now. But, it's become nothing but painfully obvious to those in the field, people you degrade by putting quotes around their title, that over the long term a very orderly process is occuring. It's called global warming. This latest study is just another nail in ALL our coffins.
        • by metlin (258108)
          The weather system is so chaotic that we do not yet even know of all the factors involved. More importantly, we hardly have sufficient data showing the complete interaction of all the factors and parameters involved to make any kind of effective future prediction.

          And yet, we make tall claims. Your water boiling analogy is too simplistic - a better one would be you boiling water using minimal firewood in the middle of a forest on a mountain with wild life and equatorial weather. Can you still predict with c
    • by petra13 (785564)
      You want to believe that they can predict the weather 100 years from now?

      Well, actually, I think you're a little confused on the issue of weather vs. climate. First, predicting weather is different from predicting overall trends in the climate system. So no, obviously, they're not going to know exactly what's going to happen on a particular day a week from now to say nothing of a century from now. However, it is reasonable to predict an increase in the planet's temperature over the next several decade

  • by glrotate (300695) on Wednesday January 26, 2005 @11:24PM (#11488262) Homepage
    Out of sample results? Anything?

    it shows there's no such thing as a safe level of carbon dioxide.

    Uh. Ok.
  • BS, FP (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 26, 2005 @11:24PM (#11488263)
    Both.

    Again, why do I have to keep posting the same thing: where are the scientists?

    SHOW me a graph of solar infrared output versus Earth temperatures, over a period of at least 50 years.

    THEN we'll see how much B.S. this global warming crap is. ... if you think ol' Sol has a constant output, I have a bridge to sell you.

    Mankind doesn't have the ability to alter the planet in this way. We're off by dozens of orders of magnitude.

    Get real, folks. It's all about the sun.
  • by revscat (35618) on Wednesday January 26, 2005 @11:25PM (#11488281) Journal
    Let's get this over with:
    1. It's all a liberal apocalyptic myth
    2. The planet will be fine. It's been here for billions of years.
    3. It's part of a natural change
    4. Rush Limbaugh/Sean Hannity/Fox News told me different, and they're experts on the climate whose opinion I have every reason to trust.
    5. I think it's funny when liberals scream about the environment.

    Do conservatives just not think there are consequences, or does it just appear that way? "Pollute the environment? Don't worry about it. Dump motor oil on your lawn, screw it. Make a liberal cry. Hahaha. Torture innocents? Eh. Has to be done. Drive up the national debt? C'est l'vie. Declare war for no good reason? They love us for it, the liberal media lies if they say any different."

    I thought America was founded by *scientists*, non? The prevailing scientific opinion is that global warming is real and dangerous. Where'd these religious zealots come from, and when do we start shooting?

    • by Anonymous Coward
      The people who go into environmental sciences, like the people who go into journalism, are a self-selected group who have generally progressive ideas. Not so much with non-environmental Physics or Chemistry.

      This leads to an abundance of progressive thinkers in these fields which gives them the general left-leaning slant. It's nothing like a conspiracy, just the general direction that these things take. You'll find left-leaning lawyers making up the bulk of environmental law, you'll find right-leaning la
    • Good luck with that. Notice that gun control is one of the big lefty policies. Now go look at the states that voted for Kerry. Illinois (Chicago), California, New Jersey, New York...all of them make it very hard, if not impossible to own a gun.

      So, when the shooting starts, you'll have a bunch of people who think guns are evil and probably have never touched a gun, versus people who have been using guns for most of their adult lives.

      What's your scientific prediction of the outcome?
    • I thought America was founded by *scientists*, non?

      What, the people on the Mayflower where scientists?? ;)
  • average rises of average temperatures of up to 11K
    whoa whoa whoa... 11,000 degrees! Damn! I'm not even sure if you mean Fahrenheit or Celcius, but I know that's hot!
  • by pavera (320634) on Wednesday January 26, 2005 @11:45PM (#11488445) Homepage Journal
    "Stephen Byers claims to know that 400 ppm is the maximum 'safe' level; what we show is that it may be impossible to pin down a safe level, and therefore we should not focus exclusively on stabilisation."

    Ok, so its impossible to pin down a "safe level" of greenhouse gas, so we already might be over the "safe level" or it might not be "safe" if there are only 200ppm, so what we need to do is build this huge CO2 sink that will draw down CO2 to nearly 0ppm, that will be safe right? It has to be!

    This is the same logic that causes Superfund in the US to clean up toxins to lower than naturally occuring levels wasting billions of dollars digging tons of dirt and replacing it with new dirt just because arsenic is found in higher than 3ppb naturally in some area.

    We don't know what's safe, but we know that at some level it becomes bad, so that means at any level it's bad right?
  • by Dachannien (617929) on Wednesday January 26, 2005 @11:47PM (#11488472)
    Lrrr: We will raise your planet's temperature by one million degrees a day... for five days.

  • by caffeine_monkey (576033) on Wednesday January 26, 2005 @11:49PM (#11488492)

    I honestly do not understand how anyone can doubt that humans cause climate change. First of all, it is a fact that carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. Nobody can dispute this: you can prove it with a very simple experiment [espere.net], and of course the planet Venus is a very vivid example. Therefore, all other things being equal, increasing the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will cause the planet to heat up. It seems obvious that it's better to err on the side of caution than to say the future is too difficult to predict, and therefore we shouldn't do anything.

    • I honestly do not understand how anyone can doubt that humans cause climate change.

      (1) Because people (including many here on /. apparently) don't think for themselves and easily believe the (politically and economically based) propaganda claiming otherwise.

      (2) People simply don't like being told that their current lifestyles are unsustainable and that they'll have to make changes if we are to survive (i.e. they just don't like hearing that there is something "wrong" with the way they are living, so they

  • by miope (727503) on Wednesday January 26, 2005 @11:59PM (#11488576) Homepage

    The climates models are computed using the BOINC platform (distributed computing in your PC, similar to SETI, etc.).

    Please, help the project donating your idle CPU cycles, go to: the homesite of the project [climateprediction.net] and download [ox.ac.uk] the client.

    The client (BOINC) supports Linux, Windows, MAC OS, etc.

  • by nwbvt (768631) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @01:01AM (#11489093)
    ...that we don't live in a computer simulation. Otherwise we would have destroyed our planet a dozen times already.
  • by TheNarrator (200498) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @01:12AM (#11489178)
    I am far more convinced that Peak Oil [wikipedia.org] is going to be the next big catastrophe to hit humanity. Peak oil has far more evidence going for it in that oil supply's have followed the Hubbert's peak model in many different areas where oil has been discovered. Of course if world oil consumption falls this means that Global Warming is going to be a non-issue 100 years from now and we are either going to be somewhere in between the scenarios where we'll all be living in a nuclear powered hydrogen economy utopia where fossil fueled powered engines are as common as horse and buggy or living in poverty with 1/5 or less of the world's population due to mass starvation.
  • by rokzy (687636) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @02:35AM (#11489707)
    no offense, but no one on this site has enough knowledge or understanding to talk about this subject.

    it seems like there'd be less bullshit being posted if the topic were creationsm or some bollocks like that.
  • by null etc. (524767) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @02:58AM (#11489808)
    I think it's important to remember that what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger. I think the planet abides by the same philosophy. So after a few centuries of global warming, it should be indestructible.

    If we should need to solve the issue of global warming, it should be fairly easy:

    1. Set up solar reflection panels to direct concentrated rays of sun towards the ice caps, so that not only will the ice melt, it will evaporate as well.
    2. Set up a huge thermal vent so that evaporated water can waft up to space and out of our orbit.
    3. The planet will naturally start to spin faster as a result of reduced mass.
    4. A planet that spins faster will expose any given portion of the planet to the sun for shorter increments, allowing the sun less time to "heat up" the atmosphere.
    5. Furthermore, the evaporated water will freeze once it reaches space, making a nice little shiny reflector shield to block out some of the sun's radiation.
    I honestly don't understand why no one consults me about this problem. Thank gosh I can share my productive fruits with the slashdot population.
  • by SuperKendall (25149) * on Thursday January 27, 2005 @05:26AM (#11490347)
    This [virginia.edu] study is interesting as it posits that in fact the rise of CO2 levels really began 8000 years ago when people began clearing large tracts of land for farming.

    That accounts for half of the CO2 changes from the norm; the last 150 years accounts for the other half.

    He also notes that from climate models it seems the rise in CO2 has served to shield us from a large scale glaciation phase that was scheduled to hit long before now, and kept the climate more stable!

    The study is rather interesting (full link to study in article, check end) as he really ties together a wide variety of data from different sources.
  • by MadMorf (118601) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @10:22AM (#11491641) Homepage Journal
    The simulations suggest that over the next hundred years we could see average rises of average temperatures of up to 11K, more than twice what was previously thought.

    Ok, who else besides me read that as 11 Thousand Degrees, instead of the intended 11 Degrees Kelvin?

    Come on, admit it!
  • 'Worst case' context (Score:3, Informative)

    by Cally (10873) on Thursday January 27, 2005 @10:31AM (#11491724) Homepage
    Here's some relevant bits of info I dug up whilst researching my own rejected submission on this story....

    These results were collated from approx. 60,000 separate climate model runs [climateprediction.net]. Here's a link to the actual paper published in Nature [climateprediction.net] (PDF). ClimatePrediction.net passed the 50,000 run mark only a month ago, so it looks like participation is on the up. Kudos to everyone running it! Personally I've switched from SETI@Home to this project. (Of course, you may feel that cancer research into protein folding is more important. One of the nice things about the BOINC [berkeley.edu] framework is that you can contribute to multiple projects at the same time.)

    The 'eleven degrees rise over the next century' is of course the worst-case scenario. Of course, climate disruptions of that magnitude really would be catastrophic to human civilisation - for one thing, massive loss of agricultural production, the loss of large areas of expensive real-estate (many of the world's great cities would certainly be under water. I don't know precisely what magnitude of sea level rise 11 degrees would produce but consider that the Greenland ice sheet, which is already showing signs of increased melting, would produce approx. 7m rise - that's goodbye to London and New York and Amsterdam for starters.) Here's a chart from the IPCC's 2001 report [grida.no] showing the various scenarios they based their predictions on. As you can see, the worst-case they foresaw was about 5 or 6 degrees C. The significant thing about these results is that the upper bound of the range of possible temperature rises is shown to be about twice as severe as previously thought. Not only is more and more solid evidence being produced to back the fundamental prediction that human CO2 emissions are causing significant changes in our climate, but the magnitude of those predicted changes is getting greater and greater as time goes on. Note as well that the charts don't suddenly flatline at the year 2100...

    Finally I'm looking forward to a discussion on RealClimate.org [realclimate.org] on this. I've found it to be utterly addictive to see discussions amongst actual researchers in the field, not only showing the areas of legitimate disagreement, debate and uncertainty, but also the solidity of the scientific consensus, as well as busting various common myths - the Crichton garbage, the hockey-stick stuff etc etc. Strongly recommended.

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