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Science Technology

Climatologists Wager on Global Warming 591

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the dollars-for-degrees dept.
coflow writes "The Guardian is carrying a story about a $10,000 bet that a pair of Russian scientists have entered with British climate expert James Annan. According to the article, the Russians believe the world will be cooler in 10 years. "If the temperature drops Dr Annan will stump up the $10,000 (now equivalent to about £5,800) in 2018. If the Earth continues to warm, the money will go the other way.""
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Climatologists Wager on Global Warming

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  • From TFA... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Keamos (857162) <Keamos&gmail,com> on Saturday August 20, 2005 @07:41PM (#13364040) Homepage
    "To decide who wins the bet, the scientists have agreed to compare the average global surface temperature recorded by a US climate centre between 1998 and 2003, with temperatures they will record between 2012 and 2017"

    I'd say to RTFA next time, but this is /., not like anyone would listen anyway...
  • by Travoltus (110240) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @07:43PM (#13364046) Journal
    Scientists who stand firm on the belief that humans are causing global warming, have been involved in several bet-challenges with skeptics. Here's how two of them panned out:

    "Dr Annan first challenged Richard Lindzen, a meteorologist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who is dubious about the extent of human activity influencing the climate. Professor Lindzen had been willing to bet that global temperatures would drop over the next 20 years.

    No bet was agreed on that; Dr Annan said Prof Lindzen wanted odds of 50-1 against falling temperatures, so would win $10,000 if the Earth cooled but pay out only £200 if it warmed. Seven other prominent climate change sceptics also failed to agree betting terms."
    - In other words, Lindzen made it so it wasn't a fair bet. He poisoned the wager.

    "In May, during BBC Radio 4's Today programme, the environmental activist and Guardian columnist George Monbiot challenged Myron Ebell, a climate sceptic at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, in Washington DC, to a £5,000 bet. Mr Ebell declined, saying he had four children to put through university and did not want to take risks."- In other words, Monbiot flat out chickened out.

    The thing is, what happens if (by a miracle) enough nations enact policies that cause lower greenhouse gas emissions and global warming stops? Then who wins?
  • Weather futures (Score:5, Informative)

    by G4from128k (686170) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @07:58PM (#13364113)
    This type of "betting" has been going on for a while now at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Weather futures [cme.com] lets companies and traders buy and sell the risk of high or low temperatures For example a utility company might fear that it will incur high costs if the summer weather is too hot and a softdrink maker might fear that the summer weather will be too cold. These parties can agree to trade a weather future contract that profits the utility if the weather is hot (offsetting the extras costs) and pays the drink maker if the weather is cold (offseting the lost sales). Both sides reduce their own risks. Agriculture and energy traders can also use weather futures to hedge or correct for weather-related price changes in commodities to profit from non-weather-related effects.
  • by Ingolfke (515826) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @08:02PM (#13364129) Journal
    What an obscure and insightful reference. Great post.

    An interesting quote from the wikipedia article you cited:

    "[Simon] always found it somewhat peculiar that neither the Science piece nor his public wager with Ehrlich nor anything else that he did, said, or wrote seemed to make much of a dent on the world at large. For some reason he could never comprehend, people were inclined to believe the very worst about anything and everything; they were immune to contrary evidence just as if they'd been medically vaccinated against the force of fact. Furthermore, there seemed to be a bizarre reverse-Cassandra effect operating in the universe: whereas the mythical Cassandra spoke the awful truth and was not believed, these days "experts" spoke awful falsehoods, and they were believed. Repeatedly being wrong actually seemed to be an advantage, conferring some sort of puzzling magic glow upon the speaker." [4] [wired.com]
  • Re:2018? (Score:4, Informative)

    by richdun (672214) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @08:08PM (#13364155)
    "To decide who wins the bet, the scientists have agreed to compare the average global surface temperature recorded by a US climate centre between 1998 and 2003, with temperatures they will record between 2012 and 2017."

    I believe the reason for the extra three years is so that the data from 2012-2017 can be collected and processed, thus giving an "average" temperature for 2015...at least, that's what TFA seems to say.

    I know, I know, no need to read TFA when you can make a snappy remark for free +1 Funny points but look like an idiot cause you didn't read the article you are trying to poke fun at.
  • Re:on what grounds? (Score:3, Informative)

    by SidV (800332) <slash@sidv-dot-org> on Saturday August 20, 2005 @08:19PM (#13364196)
    "So, what's your plausible alternative warming mechanism,"


    A. Sun (I know it's a crackpot theory, but some people actually do think the sun has something to do with Earths Climate, and the Suns output does vary)

    B. Water vapor (Much greater greenhouse gas than either Methane or CO2, also dictated by the laws of Physics, also increasing over time through natural means)

    C. Natural variation (Entropy, ringing)

    D. Loss of cloud cover

    E. Natural emissions of greenhouse gasses (Volcanoes, deepwater CO2 and Methane out-gassing)


    Do you honestly think that's mans carbon emissions are the ONLY thing that effects climate. Do you think that the earth had no climate variations before man?

  • by SocietyoftheFist (316444) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @08:30PM (#13364231)
    Seems odd but here is why. The ocean currents carry water from the Polar regions to the Tropics. The reason Northern latitudes are able to sustain large populations is because of the moderating affect of the ocean. If the Polar latitudes warm up suffciently all the ice melts and the process that was sending heavy dense water down to the tropics is disrupted and the Polar regions get really cold and and Ice Age comes along. I don't think there is rational person that doesn't believe we are modifying the environment but this process has happened over and over through history. The Sun is in a very active state and has been pumping out a lot of heat at the same time so I think the chance of this happening isn't so remote. In the 1600-1800s there was a pronounced cooling in Northern Europe and it may be on the way again once the Planet heats up enough to start the cycle all over again. The Earth is very dynamic and climate change is inevitable. Evidence of vineyards in England has been found but you won't be growing any grapes there today!
  • by grqb (410789) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @08:53PM (#13364317) Homepage Journal
    Here's a study [newscientist.com] that says that oil and gas will run out too fast and prevent any type of doomsday global warming. Actually, it's not the fact that oil will run out, it's the fact that oil and gas will peak and so we won't be able consume them at a fast enough rate.

    That is of course if we don't replace the depleted oil with coal, which may be a possibility. But even still, it seems as if there are enough signs of global warming [thewatt.com] already and the oceans will be releasing so much CO2 that even if we stop using fossil fuels today there will still be net CO2 emissions.
  • by GigsVT (208848) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @09:07PM (#13364368) Journal
    Read the names. Bet you wish you could edit posts now. :)
  • Re:on what grounds? (Score:2, Informative)

    by sp00nz (619149) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @09:17PM (#13364401)
    greenhouse gases will _still_ cause earth to warm on a global scale.

    Which in turn causes global cooling. When the earth warms up the poles melt. the water floods the earths currents. The currents no longer bring warm water throughout the world. Global cooling starts.

  • by Linker3000 (626634) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @10:12PM (#13364579) Journal
    "Evidence of vineyards in England has been found but you won't be growing any grapes there today!"

    Obviously not visited a vineyard in Kent or East/West Sussex or tasted their wines recently eh?

    Pop over and visit one here's a list of the ones nearest me together with a history of English winemaking: [naturaldiscovery.co.uk] Quote: "There are now in excess of 400 vineyards in England and Wales."

    Oh - greetings from West Sussex!
  • by violet16 (700870) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @10:57PM (#13364697)

    If Kyoto were a serious plan it'd include China, India, Brazil, etc., but it doesn't.

    Why do people keep saying things like this? There are only 2 countries in the UN that refuse to join the Kyoto Protocol [wikipedia.org]: the US and Australia.

    Yes, the the protocol imposes different targets on different countries, but this is as you'd expect. For example, you would never expect India, which puts out one-fifth of the CO2 of the US despite having 3.6 times the population, to cut its emissions by the same percentage. Ditto China, which puts out 40% less CO2 than the US, but has 4.4 times more people. And Brazil! Brazil has 62% of the US's population, and 5% of the CO2 emissions. Look for yourself [wikipedia.org].

    You could more plausibly argue the opposite: that every country should be allowed to emit, say, 20 tons of CO2 per capita. That sounds fair. But that would mean allowing massive increases by every undeveloped country, while imposing cuts on the US. Because developed countries are responsible for many times more [wikipedia.org] per-capita emissions than undeveloped ones.

    The Kyoto Protocol targets aren't especially difficult anyway. The US target was a 7% decrease [wikipedia.org] over 20 years. That's 0.35% p.a. And less than the reduction target accepted by the European Union (8%). The idea, obviously, is not to make countries shut down important industries, but to encourage the use of cleaner technologies where they are appropriate. To begin taking steps in the right direction.

    But Republicans apparently believe that the environment is nothing more than an infinitely exploitable resource, so while 153 countries do their part, the world's #1 greenhouse gas polluter continues to belch out 25% of the world's CO2 [wikipedia.org].

  • Re:on what grounds? (Score:4, Informative)

    by SidV (800332) <slash@sidv-dot-org> on Saturday August 20, 2005 @11:29PM (#13364800)
    While there are some isues with that graph, lets not examine those for a moment. Lets look at some of that data. A smaller portion of the whole.


    If you will look at the date of ~1940 until ~1975. You will not something. The temperature during that time actually drops from a high in the late 30s until approximately the Oil Crisis of the 70s.


    To give some context to this time. This period starts right about the time Hitler was invading Poland, and the entry of the world into WWII. During the beginning of this period, much of the world, including the US, was still agrarian. Few people owned cars, even fewer had ever ridden on an airplane. This is shortly after the rural electricification program ended, prior to this there were many people in the US who didn't have electricity or indoor toilets (In rural areas). As we entered WWII industry the world over soared, this was a period of the greatest increase in industrial output in all of Human history, dwarfing anything we have now. This continued throughout WWII, and then after (How are you going to keep them on the farm after they've seen gay Parie). It was during this time that two cars per household became common. People that had not flown on a plane were in the minority, not just here, but the world over. More importantly this wasn't the "efficient" and "clean" industry of today, recall the muscle cars of the 60's. Then energy efficiency wasn't even thought of. More importantly they didn't have the materials or technology to make efficient boilers or engines like we have today. It was during this period that we had the largest increase of greenhouse gasses.


    And it was also during this time that the global climate dropped in temperature, enough so that Newsweek published the concerns of scientists that People were causing the problem of Global Cooling. http://www.numberwatch.co.uk/cooling1.pdf/ [numberwatch.co.uk].


    As to the graph. This is the surface temperature record. One of the serious weakness of AGW (that is often glossed over) is that based on "Greenhouse theory" The atmosphere warms, warming the surface. What we see from direct measurement is that the surface is warming faster than the atmosphere, precluding that greenhouse warming is causing the surface temperature increase, and that a large portion of the heat increase can be attributed to larger land development, and the closeness of the sensors to developed areas, and less in rural, or in wilderness. And before someone posts any articles referencing the recent UAH MSU data that corrects for atmosphere warming by allowing for satellite drift. Keep in mind that that number, even in the most optimistic interpretations, still does not bring atmospheric warming up to the same level as surface temperatures, and based on greenhouse theory, atmospheric temperatures should be ~30% higher than surface. Even with the correction they are still below surface temperatures.
  • by tsotha (720379) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @02:16AM (#13365298)
    Why do people keep saying things like this? There are only 2 countries in the UN that refuse to join the Kyoto Protocol: the US and Australia.

    Yeah, I suppose the easy way for the US to deal with this is to actually sign the treaty, then ignore it... like the Europeans [washingtonpost.com].

    But Republicans apparently believe that the environment is nothing more than an infinitely exploitable resource, so while 153 countries do their part, the world's #1 greenhouse gas polluter continues to belch out 25% of the world's CO2.

    Time for a little history lesson, isn't it? Perhaps you'll recall the Democrats controlled the Senate for three years after Kyoto was signed, and it never came up for a vote because the Democrat-controlled Senate wouldn't ratify it. You see, neither party is really itching to commit political suicide. If the Dems regain control of the Senate in 2006, one thing you can be sure of is Kyoto still won't come up for a vote unless it's substantially modified.

  • by demachina (71715) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @02:24AM (#13365320)
    Coal fired power plants and steel mills are just as much of the problem as oil and gas and coal isn't going to run out for hundreds of years.

    Also once oil gets expensive enough, like it pretty much already is, it becomes economical to start tapping oil shale and tar sands in the Western U.S. and there is most probably enough oil there to last for hundreds of years too. Its just really dirty, expensive, energy intensive and hard on the land scape cooking it out of the rock and sand. Pilot projects started during the energy crisis in the '70's, then oil prices cratered and it wasn't economical so they all stopped. All indicators are oil is going to stay high now and that is going to green light resuming oil shale and tar sand extraction.

    The world isn't running out of oil, its running out of cheap, easy to extract oil. It doesn't help that Iraq's oil production is now in a shambles thanks to George W. It also should be noted gas and oil prices are high more due to market manipulation than shortages. Supplies are tight but speculators are taking advantage and inflating prices far beyond market realities. In the U.S. refiners have also intentionally reduced refining capacity to insure there is a perpetual tight supply of gas. They make huge profits maintaining an artificial shortage in refining capacity. If they built adequate refining capacity they would make much less money. Oil is not a real free market in this world. Oil companies have consolidated back to a near monopoly status, and they collude to rig prices. If we lived in a world with real free markets someone would step in, build new refineries and create competition and lower gas prices but for some reason no one does.

    There is irony that it Russian scientists betting against global warming and you have to wonder if there is an ulterior motive. The Russian government has as much incentive as Exxon Mobile to deny global warming and launch a PR blitz against it. People forget but Russia is one of the worlds largest oil and gas exporters. Europe is massively dependent on Russian gas. The one save grace for the Russian economy is its vast oil and gas reserves. The current high oil prices have been a major boost to Russia's economy which was a key motivator in Putin and his cronies seizing control of Yukos, one of Russia's largest, formerly privately held oil, companies.
  • by techno-vampire (666512) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @03:00AM (#13365406) Homepage
    You're darn well right. Imagine if we got it all wrong. What if we thought that the world was getting warmer from greenhouse gasses so we reduced carbon emissions when that wasn't even needed. God help us then.

    If you want to read a great book based on exactly that premise, read Fallen Angles. [barnesandnoble.com] It's an easy read and funny. SF Fandom saves the world!

  • by mpcooke3 (306161) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @05:18AM (#13365708) Homepage
    Here is the real list of reasons that Bush didn't enter into Kyoto.

    Enron $1.8m
    Exxon $1.2m
    Koch Industries $970,000
    Southern $900,000
    BP Amoco $800,000
    El Paso Energy $787,000
    Chevron Oil Corp $780,000
    Reliant Energy $642,000
    Texas Utilities $635,000

    source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/1336960. stm [bbc.co.uk]
  • by cfan (599825) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @06:20AM (#13365816) Homepage

    the world's #1 greenhouse gas polluter continues to belch out 25% of the world's CO2

    And continues to produce 27% of the GWP [wikipedia.org] with it... Looks like we're making good use of that consumption.

    No, it doesn't!

    CO2 emissions [wikipedia.org]
    GWP [wikipedia.org]

    As you can see, European Union produces 31% of GWP, and Japan produces 10% of it, producing only 15.3% and 5% of CO2 emissions!

  • by FleaPlus (6935) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @06:48AM (#13365871) Journal
    A poster to the extropy-chat [extropy.org] mailing list pointed out that James Annan also created a global warming claim on the Foresight Exchange [ideosphere.com] that people can bid on:

    http://www.ideosphere.com/fx-bin/Claim?claim=GW203 0 [ideosphere.com]

    If I'm reading the current bid correctly, global average temperatures are predicted to rise 0.72 degrees celsius by 2032.

    There's also a Nature news item [nature.com] covering this.
  • by FleaPlus (6935) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @06:59AM (#13365891) Journal
    There's plenty of other wagers similar to this one on longbets.org [longbets.org], except the loser pays money to a charity instead of to the winner.

    A few examples [longbets.org]:

    * A $20,000 bet between Mitchell Kapor (founder of Lotus) and Ray Kurzweil on whether or not the Turing Test will be passed by 2029

    * A $10,000 bet between Esther Dyson and Bill Campbell on whether or not Russia will be the world leader in software development by 2012

    * A $2,000 bet on whether or not someone alive in the year 2000 will still be alive in 2150

    * A $2,000 bet between Craig Mundie (Microsoft CTO) and Eric Schmit (Google CEO) on whether or not commercial passengers will routinely fly in pilotless airplanes by 2030
  • While the countries of the EU produce 31.5% of GWP and only 15.3% of global CO2 emissions. Looks like the US is far from making good use and is proud of being as energy efficient as 2nd world countries.

    Maybe sticking to low tech is fashionable in the US these days, but we Europeans will pass, thanks.

  • by WindBourne (631190) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @03:23PM (#13367377) Journal
    But the guy I was talking to was most obviously not a scientistst and obviously was taking this in as a belief,

    How funny. I have multiple degrees all in science(Microbio/genetic engineering and Computer Science). I have worked at C.D.C., IBM Watson, Bell Labs, and US West AT, all in research positions.

    Oh, on a side note, I have been a registered libertarian since 1994 (as well as voted that way except for the last election), and yet, I would never refer to CATO for science.

    As to your believing in the scientific method, I seriously doubt that.

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