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Humanity Responsible For Current Climate Change 775

Posted by Zonk
from the we-screw-things-up dept.
tehanu writes "Scientists working with Antarctic ice have found that the level of greenhouse gases is at the highest level in over half a million years. Carbon dioxide is 27% higher now than any other time over the last 650 000 years. Methane, an even stronger greenhouse gas is 130% higher. The period of time studied covers eight full glacial cycles including a time when the earth's position relative to the sun is the same as it is today. Other scientists have found that the annual rate at which the sea has risen since the industrial revolution is twice that of over the last 5000 years. It is predicted that by 2100 the sea level will be 40cm higher. These results provide strong evidence that human activity since the industrial revolution, rather than just natural processes, has strongly altered the world's climate. As one of the scientists involved in the research put it: 'The levels of primary greenhouse gases such as methane, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide are up dramatically since the Industrial Revolution, at a speed and magnitude that the Earth has not seen in hundreds of thousands of years.'"
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Humanity Responsible For Current Climate Change

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  • by NotQuiteReal (608241) on Friday November 25, 2005 @10:39PM (#14116314) Journal
    People have only been here a few thousand years, right? Intelligent design and all that.

    Any rise in temperature must be part of the Grand Design.

    Don't sweat it! (e.g. shit happens.)

    • Artic land rush...... now you know what the plan is.
    • Re:No! God did it! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by bigman2003 (671309)
      Sadly, the best possible response we will see in America, is people putting some sort of 'Stop Global Warming' magnet on their SUV.

      I am a proponent of HUGE tax increases on gasoline. Push it up to the $6 level. People won't stop driving until it really hurts to do it.

      We really need to do something about cutting down on emissions. This is a serious problem, and our society is just moving further and futher towards making it worse.

      Look at the electronics industry- look at our computers, and how much energy
      • Re:No! God did it! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by StarvingSE (875139) on Friday November 25, 2005 @10:58PM (#14116405)
        Yeah thats really smart. Make gas $6 a gallon so people already hurt by the poor economy the US is experiencing can be hurt even more. For the record, I am very environmentally minded, but the fact is that people will drive no matter what the price is. We pay around $2.50 avg around the country (not an exact figure, just estimating for sake of argument) and no one takes the bus to work. The main problem is that in many US cities there is no choice but to drive everywhere. Public transportation is seriously lacking, and I feel that should be top priority in any large metropolitan area. Make public transportation easy, cheap, and readily available, and people will gladly use it instead of paying high gas prices.

        And besides, we're going to run out of oil in the next 100 years anyway, and the earth will balance itself out and go back to equilibrium, and everyone will be happy (except for the oil companaies).
        • Re:No! God did it! (Score:3, Informative)

          by InvalidError (771317)
          Depending on where you work and where you live, driving can make the difference between a 30 minutes drive and a 2-3h public transportation journey. Public transportation zealots have to keep things in perspective. Politicians say people should use public transportation... but how many do so themselves on a regular basis?

          If I had a job with a ~100km round-trip, already owned a car and gasoline prices mysteriously tripled overnight, I would most likely do as you said and still keep driving - I wouldn't want
          • I am baffled (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Ogemaniac (841129) on Saturday November 26, 2005 @03:31AM (#14117576)
            Instead of taxing gasoline, they should increase registration fees, tax unnecessary supersized vehicles with supersized engines and offer registration fee reductions for low emission, high efficiency, well-maintained, etc. vehicles down to (or even below) current rates. This way, people with average cars could work their way around the registration hikes/taxes by keeping their vehicles in perfect working order and by opting for more fuel-efficient and low-emission vehicles in the future. Many places already do things along those lines, some even go as far as offering subventions and tax deductions for hybrids. Taxing gasoline would do all the things you suggest, much more simply, much more fairly, and much more effectively. Why have the government have a billion-and-two regulations for which vehicle gets what tax or registration fee, when you can just tax gasoline, which forces people to pay in direct proportion to how much they pollute? Your proposed system is completely arbitrary - someone who drives a decently fuel-effecient vehicle hundreds of miles per week pays nothing, while someone who owns the "wrong" vehicle may drive only fifty miles per week but pays through the @$$, even though he or she is polluting far less.

            If you are concerned about the poor, the situation can be handled with a fuel credit equal to the average value that people put in each year. For example, a typical person driving 12k miles per year at 20 mpg uses 600 gallons. Let's say we implement a $1/gallon tax, but give a $600 tax rebate. This is approximately tax neutral, but slams gas hogs and rewards those are frugal. It encourages everyone, rich and poor alike, to conserve. It also does not harm the poor. as most will find a way to come out ahead, and the gas hogs who don't are SOL.

            A gasoline tax is quite close to economically efficient, and fairly taxes everyone in direct proportion to the problem they create. It is both fair and effective. Arbitrary regulations and cut-offs, such as you suggest, are neither.
        • Re:No! God did it! (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Daath (225404) <{kd.redoc} {ta} {pl}> on Saturday November 26, 2005 @03:53AM (#14117629) Homepage Journal
          The main problem is that in many US cities there is no choice but to drive everywhere.

          Sure. I can accept that. What I can't accept is the whine about gas prises, from people who drive cars that aren't really economic. I mean with 10 MPG or there abouts, you have no right to complain ;P
          Invest in a more economic car, that goes 50 MPG or more.

          For the record, I pay around USD $5.70 per gallon. And yes, I do whine about it too. Car prises in Denmark are insane though, so I can't afford to switch cars (mine only gets around 32 MPG)...
          • Re:No! God did it! (Score:4, Insightful)

            by bluGill (862) on Saturday November 26, 2005 @10:06AM (#14118464)

            Last I checked there was only one car for sale in the US that got better than 50MPG: the Honda Insight, which is rated for a max of 2 people. That SUV (which gets closer to 20mpg, though I agree that is bad) will haul 6 people. Divide it out, and a per person when full. The SUV can also haul around a lot more cargo, which is handy from time to time.

            So if you need to haul a load even once in a while, haul a family once in a while, or need 4 wheel drive once in a while; the question is can you justify the second car as well. I did the math - it pays for me, but I drive 100 miles/day, and then I only can justify it for a cheap used car, not a new car. When my commute was half that it didn't pay.

            There are a couple cars that get in the 40mpg, but not many. There are laws of physics that make it really hard to get that high, without compromises that most people do not wish to make.

            My solution to high gas prices is to mi 50/50 ethanol/gas in my cars (My cars don't run right with more ethanol than that).

            • Re:No! God did it! (Score:3, Informative)

              by smithmc (451373) *

              There are a couple cars that get in the 40mpg, but not many. There are laws of physics that make it really hard to get that high, without compromises that most people do not wish to make.

              VW was getting over 50 mpg way back in the '70s with the Rabbit Diesel. Today they've got the Lupo 3 that gets over 80 mpg. Even the Passat TDI got 41 mpg while it was for sale in the US. A hybrid like the Honda Accord could easily get over 40 mpg (it already gets 37 on the highway), if they didn't feel the need

      • Egads! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by zogger (617870) on Saturday November 26, 2005 @12:17AM (#14116752) Homepage Journal
        Did you EVER have a job where you had to haul tools and material around? Where every job you get might be two counties over from where you live? The entire planet is NOT just people who only need to haul a laptop or some schoolbooks from the apartment to some convenient office or school. You are suggesting that some plumber or carpenter needs to take 18 trips on the bus just to get to work and back with all his tools, plus walk hauling a backpack of tools and lumber over his shoulder from wherever the bus stop is and the job site isn't? Or are you prepared for the price of about everything to go up like triple or more? That's the choices you have. That's what tripling the gas price would do, it ripples throughout our economy. All these people who actually build stuff and grow stuff and do stuff-actual wealth PRODUCING jobs-not wealth re arranging jobs or paper or electron shuffling jobs-have to drive, have to haul mass quantities of stuff,there is no other way around it, and if you up their prices, they will guaranteed "up yours". Like ordering stuff online and getting it delivered by UPS or Fedex? Think they will keep the same rates? how about snail mail? Trip on the plane to go see grammaw? All the stuff that has to get from factories or mines or farms to the processing plants and manufacturing plants then to the wholesalers then to the jobbers then to the retail outfits "downtown"? In the US anyway, 6 buck a gallon prices would cause a great depression to make the last one look like a charity give away.

        Perhaps you might need to think this reactionary tax through just a scosh more, follow the economic food chains around. And speaking of actual food chains, I live and work on a farm, you raise the fuel prices to triple what they are now, well get ready for 12$ chickens and 3$ a piece corn on the cob and 6$ loaves of bread at your local urban store. And because the costs of energy are closely related, how about tripling your winter heating bills now? When one fuel goes up in price, they ALL do basically.

        I think a better idea is what we are doing now, people switching to hybrids or the coming soon plug in hybrids, adding solar to their roofs, large wind generational projects going in, research into clean coal burning technologies, and etc.

        and..just for grins.. .what you got going at home now, how large is your personal solar array? Or anything similar? How much organic food do you produce with a hoe and shovel and carry to the local food coop or haul with your bicycle trailer and sell cheap?

        See? It's big problem, it's not all just cars and finger pointing. That just gets the finger pointed right back at ya.. That crap with cars is sorting itself out just fine now, people may be dumb but they aren't so dumb as to not notice fluctuations at the pump with mostly UP as the range and the general rise of "other" fuel prices like in their natgas bills and propane and whatnot. People ARE switching to better mileage and cleaner burning cars. check the stats, hybrids are the fastest growing market. And an SUV made it into the top 5 mileage vehicles sold in the US this year, the Escape hybrid. Clunky as it is and slow, the system is starting to work. We are talking overcoming inertial with 300 million people in the US and a lot of entrenched industries. This stuff takes time and a lot of individual effort as well as corporate effort and governmental incentives. . And the track record of governments passing laws and RAISING taxes to try and fix stuff is just mostly pure dismal. People fix stuff when it is practical, logical and do-able to do the fix and not much sooner. That's just how it works.

        We are a mobile society, we sunk our infrastructure bucks into roads designed for personal vehicles and trucks as the primary method of travel, and it just isn't practical to have full public transport that goes everywhere, it would cost dozens of trillions of dollars just to get started on it and even then it would never fit all situations..

        Want to make
        • Re:Egads! (Score:3, Interesting)

          I enjoyed your poat, and totally agree, but you are wasting your time arguing with ideologues (and only an ideologue would suggest the artificial tripling of gas prices).

          We are neck deep in ideologues, and when I use that term, I mean the mass of humanity that has totally and completely abandoned critical thinking and reason in favor of myth, lies and ignorance. Instead of analyzing a particular situation for a solution, they run and check whatever manifesto they follow. It's a "one size fits all" playboo

    • You insensitive clod! Everybody knows it is because of the pirates [venganza.org]!
  • Of course the world is heating up. The rapture is nigh! [raptureready.com]
  • Hmm (Score:3, Informative)

    by Overly Critical Guy (663429) on Friday November 25, 2005 @10:41PM (#14116324)
    I take issue with the conclusion of this submission headline, as there is plenty of evidence suggesting the possibility that we're not much of a contribution at all. I have yet to hear explanations for why temperatures actually DROPPED from the 1940s to the 1970s despite an increase in our use of automobiles and other gases. Not to mention that when you add the numbers up and take into account water vapor, mankind is only responsible for--wait for it--0.27% of the so-called greenhouse gases.

    So, as Penn & Teller put it in their Bullshit! episode on the matter, we're still gathering data. So stop jumping to conclusions!
    • Links (Score:2, Insightful)

      Forgot to post the link where I got the 0.27% number from: Global warming--a closer look at the numbers [geocraft.com]

      I was discussing the global warming issue just last Tuesday with someone who was very adamant that humans are responsible for everything. As I offered more and more opposing evidence suggesting that there is no definitive proof that mankind is responsible, he grew more and more emotional until he told me "attitudes like yours are why the planet is going to hell" and wouldn't discuss it further. Unfortun
      • Re:Links (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        This is what I got out of your post:
        1. You had a discussion about this subject in the past week or so.
        2. You think you won the discussion.
        3. Your opponent was, in your opinion, unreasonable.
        4. He didn't appreciate your attitude.
        5. You didn't appreciate his attitude.
        6. People like him usually make their points by pointing out people and organizations supporting their view.
        7. Monte Hieb, who posts at geocraft.com, supports your view.
        8. Over the past 65 years temperatures have sometimes trended up and sometimes trended down.
      • Re:Links (Score:5, Informative)

        by blamanj (253811) on Saturday November 26, 2005 @12:12AM (#14116738)
        I don't know if I find that site particularly credible. For one thing, he claims that the Irish Potato Famine was caused by climate change, when in fact it was caused by a fungus [nationalgeographic.com].

        In addition, other sites suggest that water vapor accounts for much less of the greenhouse effect, 60% according to these folks [espere.net], and the Wikipedia offers anywhere from 36% to 70% [wikipedia.org].
        • Re:Links (Score:3, Interesting)

          by CheshireCatCO (185193)
          Furthermore, the effect of the greenhouse gases is seriously non-linear. Adding more water vapor (even if it stayed resident for a long time, which it doesn't) wouldn't do a whole lot of damage because the water lines are nearly saturated anyway. CO2 has bands that are in relatively unabstucted parts of the spectrum, so a little CO2 goes a long way. Plus, there's the residency issue. (CO2 doesn't flush/react out as fast as water, ozone, or methane. I don't know about nitrous oxide, alas, but those five
      • Re:Links (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Coryoth (254751) on Saturday November 26, 2005 @12:57AM (#14116956) Homepage Journal
        I was discussing the global warming issue just last Tuesday with someone who was very adamant that humans are responsible for everything.

        Are humans responsible for everything when it comes to Global Warming or the greenhouse effect? Of course not, don't be silly. And nobody who actually has a clue but is concerned about the issue claims that. The claim is that humans are responsible for a significant deviation in the expected natural lavels of global warming via the greenhouse effect.

        As I offered more and more opposing evidence suggesting that there is no definitive proof that mankind is responsible

        There isn't any "definitive proof" that humans are responsible for significant deviations in factors affecting global climate. Just like there isn't any "definitive proof" that evolution is correct, or that dark matter exists. What there is, is a weight of evidence toward the degree of impact of human factors that puts the burden of proof pretty squarely on those claiming humans are not responsible.

        What do we know? We know that in the past 200 years humans have produced large volumes of carbon dioxide and methane through various industrial processes. We now know that current levels of carbon dioxide and methane are the highest they've been for over 650,000 years. We know that global temperature correlates extremely closely with atmospheric carbon dioxide levels over a range of 650,000 years. We know that atmospheric carbon dioxide traps heat, and can cause global warming. We know that there has been an acceleration in the rate or rise of global temperatures (beyond what would be expected coming out of the "little ice age" 400 years ago) that is apparently unprecendented for the last 2000 years or so.

        Are humans solely responsible for the current warming trend? No, we're coming out of small dip in global climate, so there was some warming anyway. You'll also find that solar variation accounts for around 30% or the observed warming (or at least that's what the IPCC reports claim), and other natural cycles are responsible for some as well. The fact remains that humans have produced a lot of carbon dioxide and methane in the last 200 years, that those gases do cause warming, and that the levels of those gases are unprecendented to the last 650,000 years. Humans are providing a significant forcing compared to natural fluctuations, it would be surprising if that didn't have an impact.

        Jedidiah.
      • Re:Links (Score:4, Insightful)

        by RoLi (141856) on Saturday November 26, 2005 @08:35AM (#14118267)
        Global warming--a closer look at the numbers

        Ewww, that's just another "folk science" website. It essentially puts together some numbers and lulls people into judging them with their gut and not with their brain.

        Or to put it in another way: It's irrelevant wether your gut thinks that man-made amounts of CO2 are too small to affect the climate. That's now the way you do science. In science you use the brain and not the gut. Fact is that during thousands of years rises in CO2-concentration were followed by rises in temperature. Fact is that in the last decades rises in CO2-concentration were followed by rises in temperature.

        Fact is also that man puts lots of CO2 into the atmosphere while reducing the vegetation that absorbs CO2.

        You say: "I offered more and more opposing evidence" but you don't post any. All the anti-global-warming websites are just like anti-evolution websites: They attack some details, come up with outdated or just plain wrong numbers and most importantly they don't offer any explanation at all.

        Essentially the anti-global-warming position is that it's just a coincidence that we have the highest CO2-concentration and highest temperatures in hundreds of thousands of years. Which is no explanation at all. To say that some cycle that "we don't understand" is responsible is just like saying that God did it (like the anti-evolutionists) or that it's just a coincidence that the highest temperatures fall in the period of the industrial revolution. The anti-global-warming people provide exactly zero evidence for their "cycle"-theory, their whole theory is based on belief, not fact - and wishful thinking (that we don't have to change anything) of course.

        On top of all that the most stupid point of all is: The "We don't understand it perfectly, so let's just do what we want" - argument. Sane people would say that you have to be extra-careful if you don't understand what concequences your actions have. Only a complete moron thinks that lack of understanding is a reason to mess even more with things.

    • Re:Hmm (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      A 30 year span is insignificant in terms of global climate TRENDS. The authors of the study never said that fluctuations in mean temperatures do not occur on the scale of years or decades - they are talking about hundreds of thousands of years, and you're talking about an insignificant blip on this scale.

      One could argue (and there are scientists who do) that the global mean temperature should be influenced by the 11-year solar cycle. The magnitude of this variation is not the same from cycle to cycle, and d
      • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Dashing Leech (688077) on Friday November 25, 2005 @11:54PM (#14116645)
        "A 30 year span is insignificant in terms of global climate TRENDS."

        Actually, you just made the argument against the conclusions of the study. The argument for humans causing global warming goes something like this:
        - The temperature is higher now than it's been in x years of records. (X here is usually in about 1000 years of measurements, though there's arguments about a few periods in there where it might have been warmer.)
        - The greenhouse gases are higher now that they've been in Y years. (Y = 650,000 years from this study.)
        - Humans have been creating a lot of greenhouse gases since the industrial revolution started a couple of hundred years ago.
        - Aha! We must be causing it.

        That 30 years is insignificant over these time scales also means that 200 years or so is insignificant as well, which is the entire argument about us causing global warming. You can't claim 200 years is significant and 30 isn't whenn compared to these time-scales.

        There are many missing pieces from the argument so far to keep it from being a solid argument of some sort:

        (1) What is the time-correlation of the greenhouse gases. Fine, they're higher now than any time in the last 650,000 years. Did they keep within some normal fluctuations until about 200 years ago and then steeply climb, or did they start climbing 200,000 years ago, and are slowly leveling off? What's the pattern? If it's the former, one could correlate it to the industrial revolution and us. (Not necessarily causation, but higher correlation is more convincing.) If it's the latter, it essentially removes any use of the study as an argument for humans being the cause since we didn't produce greenhouse gases 200,000 years ago. This is highly important to the argument.

        For instance, when I moved away to university, I was taller than I had been in my previous 18 years. Therefore, university causes growth spurts. If I suddenly grew tall right after moving, perhaps it's true(but not necessarily). If I grew taller over years and was leveling off when I moved, it has nothing to do with it. The correlation over time with events is the most important part of the argument and we don't have it for gases.

        (2) We do have some of the correlation over time with events for temperature, and there is a rough correlation of temp with increased greenhouse gases, but not a firm one and there are correlations with other things (such as increased solar activity). If human-produced greenhouse gasses are the cause, what happened in the 30 years from 1940 to 1970. We can't claim to understand the causation of climate change over 200 years but can't understand causation over 30 years. Either we understand what affects climate or we don't. You can't have your cake and eat it too.

        (3) How can such a small fraction of greenhouse gases, as produced by humans in comparison to naturally occuring, cause such large changes? Why is the climate so much more sensitive to these small amounts?

        There are probably more missing pieces. Incidently, I actually do believe that humans are having a bad effect on climate. I hate SUV's, waste, inefficiency, and so on. However, I also have a firm understanding of deductive reasoning and the scientific method and can't throw that out just because I believe something is true. The argument for human causation is so full of holes right now it isn't convincing. That doesn't make it wrong or that we shouldn't be trying to be more efficient and less polluting; but there's either insufficient evidence yet for the argument or it's not being presented properly.

        • No gradual increase (Score:5, Informative)

          by tehanu (682528) on Saturday November 26, 2005 @02:21AM (#14117370)
          It doesn't gradually increase. As I said in other posts, the results show a clear cycle in greenhouse gas levels and temperatures. This is the natural cycle. Then close to the present time, there is a massive almost delta-function like spike in the greenhouse gas levels that elevate the gas levels far beyond any other point in the graph. It's so sharp it's practically vertical. And the delta function occurs in all three gases measured (CO2, methane, nitrous oxide). There are no similar events in any of the other results from the last 650 000 years. There are other spikes but they are a magnitude smaller and occur over a longer time scale.
        • From one of the research papers (deltaD is what they use to measure temperature BTW):

          The coupling of CO2 and {delta}D is strong. The overall correlation between CO2 data and Antarctic temperature during the time period of 390 to 650 kyr B.P. is r2 = 0.71. Taking into account only the period 430 to 650 kyr B.P., where amplitudes of deuterium and CO2 are smaller, the correlation is r2 = 0.57. Corrections for changes in the temperature and {delta}D of the water vapor source, which also affect {delta}D of th

    • Re:Hmm (Score:5, Informative)

      by apsmith (17989) * on Friday November 25, 2005 @11:06PM (#14116435) Homepage
      Hope you're still there - here's the explanation:

      the nowadays accepted interpreation [is] that the cooling was largely caused by sulphate aerosols [realclimate.org]

      Those particulates that the clean air act got rid of in the 80's and 90's, caused cooling up to the 70's. They also caused smog, acid rain, lots of health problems etc. so it's a good thing we got rid of them. But the aerosols masked the warming trend for a while. Pretty well understood in the models.
  • by TripMaster Monkey (862126) * on Friday November 25, 2005 @10:42PM (#14116327)

    This is an interesting turn of events...

    When the evidence was less than conclusive about either global warming in general or our role in it in particular, the administration roundly decried it, calling global warming a 'myth' and a 'fantasy'.

    When the evidence was conclusive about global warming in general, but inconclusive about our role in it, the administration switched to "well...perhaps it is real, but it's surely just a natural phenomenon...we can't be more than marginally responsible".

    And now that the evidence about both global warming in general and our role in it in particular is conclusive, the line will now be "oh well...water under the bridge. There's nothing we can do about it now".

    In other words...business in usual. It might be a good idea to sell that beachfront property and start shopping for property further north...particularly since you'll be hunting for your own food when the climate shift causes worldwide food shortages.

    • OK, what do we do now?

      Sign up and adhere to Kyoto? Will China be interested in throttling down their energy use?

      Let's see some ideas.
    • by nharmon (97591) on Friday November 25, 2005 @10:51PM (#14116368) Homepage
      Well, we know what happened the last time a few experts were taken at face value...No WMDs.

      "Scientific" studies are supposed to be criticised, repeated, disproven...and then when all else fails...accepted.
      • by Lifewish (724999) on Friday November 25, 2005 @10:54PM (#14116382) Homepage Journal
        "Scientific" studies are supposed to be criticised, repeated, disproven...and then when all else fails...accepted.

        You're right. It's essential for scientific ideas to be challenged by the scientific community. On the other hand, what's happening here is the scientific community's consensus being challenged by the political community, which is insane.
      • Well, we know what happened the last time a few experts were taken at face value...No WMDs


        That isn't a very good example -- in that case, only the experts who predicted the presence of WMDs were "taken at face value". The other experts who expressed doubts were either ignored, suppressed, or told to re-evalutate their conclusions until they did come up with the desired answers.


        I guess the moral of the story is, if you want correct answers, keep politics out of science.

    • It might be a good idea to sell that beachfront property and start shopping for property further north

      I heard an interesting story on NPR [npr.org] this afternoon about a village in Alaska that is being threatened by storms. Historically the village was safe because by this time of year the ocean near the shore had frozen. In recent years (past decade?) the oecan is not freezing before the severe storms hit. As a result, the erosion is removing the sand that the village is settled on. The general trend appears to

  • by Crashmarik (635988) on Friday November 25, 2005 @10:43PM (#14116338)
    Galileo started recording sunspots. Mars has its polar caps showing sines of melting and pluto also shows signs of warming.

    It would be nice if all the reports about the environment didn't carry the chicken little byline.
    • Oops make that signs should not read slashdot while doing math.
    • by e_lehman (143896) on Friday November 25, 2005 @11:12PM (#14116461)

      You're a bit off on your timescales. The southern icecap on Mars is melting because it is spring there:

      From NASA [nasa.gov]:

      Like Earth, Mars has seasons that cause its polar caps to wax and wane. "It's late spring at the south pole of Mars," says planetary scientist Dave Smith of the Goddard Space Flight Center. "The polar cap is receding because the springtime sun is shining on it."

      Similarly, the warming on Pluto is also apparently seasonal (though its seasons are long, of course). From Space.com:

      Pluto's atmospheric pressure has tripled over the past 14 years, indicating a stark temperature rise, the researchers said. The change is likely a seasonal event, much as seasons on Earth change as the hemispheres alter their inclination to the Sun during the planet's annual orbit.

      When scientists worry about global warming on earth, they're not just griping about the arrival of spring!

  • Will it scare humanity into changing their habits? I would hope so, but the US ignores the Kyoto Treaty, and burns CO2/CO-producing fuels at hell-bent rates. Mass transportation? Nah.

    It proves that unless you're interested in murdering subsequent generations, we need to start now to get energy that doesn't smut-up the atmosphere, our lungs, and forestry/ag plans that don't cut the lungs out of the earth so that someone can have cute cabinets in Miami.

    Unfortunately, a little more natural drama (maybe a few d
  • by xmas2003 (739875) * on Friday November 25, 2005 @10:49PM (#14116360) Homepage
    While I personally agree there is some truth that we are affecting the planet on a global scale, let me play devil's advocate for a moment here. Assuming the data is good (a BIG assumption), how do we know this isn't part of some bigger natural geological cycle? Remember that continents/mountains move SLOWLY ... like millions of years. It may be that this is the natural ebb and flow of nature. And the "sea level" raising 40cm by 2100 makes one wonder about places like New Orleans.

    BTW, I usually run Firefox, but happened to open this up in Internet Exploder - all three URL's in the article had popups - you forget about those things when you predominantly use Firefox.

    P.S. I'm argueably contributing to global warming with my 20,000+ Christmas lights [komar.org] ... although at least I signed up for wind power.

  • Bad news? (Score:3, Funny)

    by MutantHamster (816782) on Friday November 25, 2005 @10:50PM (#14116367) Homepage
    "It is predicted that by 2100 the sea level will be 40cm higher."

    Awesome. That's 40 cm less I have to drive to get to the beach.

    • Actually it is better than you think. If you live in one of the interior states then the beach will come to you....
    • Actually, if you know trigonometry, it's 40cm / tangent(beach slope angle). For example, if your beach slope is 5 degrees, the tangent is 0.0875, and thus you have to drive 40 cm / 0.0875=457 cm less, or 4.5 meters less. If your beach slope is only 1 degrees, barely sloping, then the tangent is 0.0175, and you have to drive a whopping 23 meters less!
  • by Ex-MislTech (557759) on Friday November 25, 2005 @10:52PM (#14116376)
    Well the Tech is out there to reverse this .

    We just need a Apollo program level of devotion to it .

    University of Wisconsin has a working 3HE reactor, he fuel is just the issue, the moon is the answer.

    Helium-3 on the moon, and the new finding of altering Hydrogen atoms molecular
    orbits in a manner unknown before and pointing to fundamental errors in physics/Calculus .

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/story/0,3605,162 7424,00.html [guardian.co.uk]

    Keep in mind he has had some peer review on this before chucking it on the bone pile .

    The Algae that makes enormous amounts of oil for biodiesel and other uses also
    gives as a short term methodolgy vs. drilling for oil . It also burns cleaner .

            * Soybean: 40 to 50 US gal/acre (40 to 50 m/km)
            * Rapeseed: 110 to 145 US gal/acre (100 to 140 m/km)
            * Mustard: 140 US gal/acre (130 m/km)
            * Jatropha: 175 US gal/acre (160 m/km)
            * Palm oil: 650 US gal/acre (610 m/km) [2]
            * Algae: 10,000 to 20,000 US gal/acre (10,000 to 20,000 m/km)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biodiesel [wikipedia.org]

    There is yet Hope, but stray a little and you will fail to the ruin of us all - LOTR

    Ex-MislTech

    • We just need a Apollo program level of devotion to it .

      Not even that.. Just getting some iron into the Pacific ocean west of South America would make a good start.

      -jcr
    • Algae: 10,000 to 20,000 US gal/acre (10,000 to 20,000 m/km)

      Even though this number shows up on Wikipedia (and its 1000 spam clones), I looked at some of the references and could not find where they claimed this number. Since it is 20,000%-50,000% (fifty thousand percent) more efficient than soybean oil, why would the latter even be considered for a second? Are we saying I could set aside 1/10 acre of my yard (the size of a garden) and produce 1000-2000 gallons of fuel a year?? That might provide all

      • How about this? (Score:4, Informative)

        by Goonie (8651) * <robert@merkel.benambra@org> on Saturday November 26, 2005 @01:49AM (#14117224) Homepage
        This article [unh.edu] quotes figures from the US government suggesting that you can produce 7.5 billion gallons of biodiesel on 500,000 acres of land. That works out to about 15,000 gallons per acre, per year. The Wikipedia article (which is actually well-referenced, but doesn't include references for those specific figures) was right. Why can algae do so well? Because it grows really, really fast, and a huge fraction of the plant is actually oil.

        However, it's not as simple as that; the technology hasn't been developed to actually farm the stuff on a commercial scale, but there are people working on that. The first test deployments are by these guys [greenfuelonline.com], who are using the exhaust systems from conventionally-fired power to provide nutrients for the algae and prevent the release of CO2 and NOx into the atmosphere.

        But yes, in the future you might well be able to grow all the fuel for your car in your backyard.

    • One gallon [ornl.gov] of diesel has 135000 Btu of energy, or 142 MJ. 10,000 gallons is 1.42 TJ. One acre [google.com] is roughly 4046 square meters. So (presumably you're talking about annual yields here), each square meter of land will be producing roughly 350 MJ per year.

      Peak solar power at sea level [wikipedia.org] is 1 kW/m^2. Let's make the totally unrealistic assumption that the sun shines at peak brightness for an average of eight hours a day, no clouds or anything. That makes 28.8 MJ of solar input energy per day.

      Huh. I'm rather stunned.
      • More specifically. (Score:3, Informative)

        by Grendel Drago (41496)
        Wait, I can get more precise. Average values have been shown to be around 125 to 375 W/m^2. So, guessing an average of 250, we can get 7.2 MJ per day. Since algae doesn't care about seasons or anything like that, we can multiply that by the 365 days in a year to get 2.6 GJ per year.

        So, the algae has to be around 13.3% efficient to get an energy yield of 10,000 gallons of diesel per acre. I have no idea if that efficiency is plausible or not.
  • by Robotbeat (461248) on Friday November 25, 2005 @10:53PM (#14116377) Journal
    I live in Minnesota, and it was about 8 degrees Fahrenheit (about -13.3 C) on Turkey Day morning, so I don't really give a hoot that all you suckers in Florida are gonna drown, winter is COLD up here, and I'm for as much global warming as we can push out of our gas-guzzling tanks-as-SUVs. I mean, I think there's a "Minnesotans for Global Warming" club somewhere, and I want to join! (We have recorded -60F (-51C) temperatures in MN like 10 years, and that ain't no stinking wind chill, either, so we have pretty harsh winters!)

    (In other news, sell any property you own near sea level.)
    • Too bad warmer Winters isn't what we can expect from climate change. The changes are not bound to mean that every day through the year will be warmer, just that on average they will be. We might still have extreme cold, but instead broken up by periods of thaw, which will hurt trees for one thing, and make roads icy and broken. And we'll have bugs moving north, with more trouble for our crops, since we might get snow in August now and then.

      Change in the climate stresses every biological creature, and whe
    • Congrats, you've finally figured out a way of making Minnesota appealing.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    There is too many reports citing scientists on global warming doom and gloom and next to nothing being published about our progress in using hydrogen as the source of energy. It almost makes you want to say "Sceintists, stop with the global warming stuff, start working on the renewable energy already!".

    The reason? Doom is sensational - and guess what the news outlets will publish first?

  • by wombatmobile (623057) on Friday November 25, 2005 @10:56PM (#14116392)

    Carbon dioxide is 27% higher now than any other time over the last 650 000 years.

    But the Earth is 4.5 billion years old.

    Maybe the C02 level rises every million years or so, each time life evolves into things that make internal combustion engines. Then it falls for a while after each thermonuclear war.

    A graph [v2.nl] of the last 3 million years?

    • Possible. (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jd (1658)
      Certainly, in the first 500,000 years of Earth's existance as a solid body, there was no free oxygen at all. Once life evolved, oxygen levels rose. Since then, the biosphere (as a whole) has been relatively stable. Which is remarkable, given that most of it is inherently unstable and, without life, would collapse extremely quickly.

      The situation is further complicated by the fact that we're coming to the end of an interglacial period - the last Ice Age technically didn't finish, and will be back for more. Su

  • So, (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Descalzo (898339) on Friday November 25, 2005 @11:05PM (#14116433) Journal
    at a speed and magnitude that the Earth has not seen in hundreds of thousands of years.

    So what were those lousy smegheads doing to the earth hundreds of thousands of years ago? Stupid cavemen and their earth-raping!

  • I still don't understand how global warming is supposed to make sea levels rise. Ice has a lower density than water. If you put ice cubes in a glass of water and allow the ice cubes to melt, the water level will go down. So as the polar icecaps melt, won't the sea level go down? (I'm assuming that the outlying pack ice overlying the Antarctic Ocean will melt before the pack overlying the continent.)
    • by apsmith (17989) *
      Floating ice will make no difference due to hydrostatic balance. The difference in sea level comes from warming of ocean water itself and resulting expansion, and melting of continental glaciers - Greenland probably most worrisome right now.
  • who's to blame? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by RussP (247375) on Friday November 25, 2005 @11:14PM (#14116471) Homepage
    If the thesis of this article is true -- and that's a big "if" -- then who is more to blame than anyone else for global warming? Why, it't the anti-nuclear "environmentalists," of course. Nuclear power produces no greenhouse gases -- none! Yet the U.S. gets half its electric power from coal. Folks, we burn three tons of coal per *second* in the U.S. alone, and the gaseous emissions kill an estimated 50,000 people per year.

    If indeed human activity is causing global warming, then we can solve this problem inteligently or stupidly. The intelligent solution starts with nuclear power. The stupid solution is to give up our mobility and regress to third world living conditions.

    If you oppose nuclear power, please educate yourself [russp.us].
    • Re:who's to blame? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by HebrewToYou (644998)
      What a terrifically insightful post!

      It is those concerned with "saving" the enviornment that frighten me the most, for they are the ones most willing to recklessly change the status quo using the trendy science of the decade. We still don't know shit about the climate cycles of this planet and what we do know is hindered by all sorts of complexity. The systems interaction alone is enough to make me doubtful of anyone's claims of understanding this spinning rock.

      And if climate change does occur on a
    • Irony (Score:5, Funny)

      by MarkusQ (450076) on Friday November 25, 2005 @11:58PM (#14116665) Journal

      What I find ironic is how often people who don't trust the fossil fuel industry, and claim not to believe anything they say, etc. have been taken in by the anti-nuclear FUD spread by the very people they claim to distrust.

      It's like some bad comedy routine.

      Joe Public: I don't trust you.
      Coal and Oil guy: I can understand that.
      Joe Public: Nothing you can say will make me trust you.
      Coal and Oil guy: I know just how you feel.
      Joe Public: You do?
      Coal and Oil guy: Sure. See that guy standing over there? The one with the pocket protector?
      Joe Public: What, Nuclear Guy? Sure, I see him.
      Coal and Oil guy: I don't trust him at all.
      Joe Public: Why not?
      Coal and Oil guy: He wants to kill all our babies and make giant insects and stuff.
      Joe Public: Really?
      Coal and Oil guy: Really. And he wants to make stuff that will kill people a bazillion years from now if they so much as think about it. That's why I don't trust him.
      Joe Public: Wow. Thanks for the warning. But this isn't going to make me trust you any more than I did before.
      Coal and Oil guy: I can understand that. Just so long as you don't trust him either.
      Joe Public: Or don't worry about that. That guy is scary!

      --MarkusQ

    • Re:who's to blame? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by dubl-u (51156) *
      If indeed human activity is causing global warming, then we can solve this problem inteligently or stupidly. The intelligent solution starts with nuclear power.

      No, the intelligent solution is to tax carbon and let individuals figure out the best way to get emissions back in line. Fission power seems like the obvious choice on a simple analysis, but economic considerations (like insurance costs and waste disposal costs) make it a much more dubious proposition over the long haul.

      The fact is that we don't know
    • Re:who's to blame? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by orzetto (545509)

      The governments of the world could not care less about the environment. It's known as "the tragedy of the commons". Even if people were afraid (as they are) of nuclear power, their governments would not care and build nuclear power anyway.

      The reason why no one builds more plants is that nuclear power in anti-economical. It simply costs too much. Its production costs once online for fuel and such are low, but the investments and fixed costs (security and safety procedures, for instance) are gigantic. Invens

  • by Stalyn (662) on Friday November 25, 2005 @11:36PM (#14116575) Homepage Journal
    Why is it so hard to believe that us humans are responsible for global warming? The Industrial Revolution brought about automated machinery which required energy and power. We decided to use fossil fuels like oil and coal. We burn these things and it releases carbon dioxide into the air. The more we produced the more people could be sustained, so there was a population boom. This meant more farm lands needed to be created so we cut down more trees. This also lead to more factories, more power stations, the need for more energy. We burned more fossil fuels hence more carbon dioxide.

    Why does it seem to some that humans can not bring about climate change? Our population keeps swelling, we keep burning fossil fuels and chopping down trees. Do you think we are unable to produce enough greenhouse gases? Is nature so vast and giant that humans seem to dwindle in strength? We humans are a part of nature. Locusts can devour forests. Why can't us humans ravage the earth?
    • by fireboy1919 (257783) <rustyp@@@freeshell...org> on Saturday November 26, 2005 @02:50AM (#14117462) Homepage Journal
      Why is it so hard to believe that us humans are responsible for global warming?

      It's not. Therein lies the rub. Even if it the evidence is flimsy its not hard to believe. We can look at how much we waste, how much power we personally consume, and how much we have changed the world from how it was and think, "how could I not be responsible for destroying the Earth?" When the basic thought is so simple, but the true understanding is so complex, I think that we tend towards acceptance without burdening our limited understanding with actual proof.

      There are so many, many studies on it. Are they right? Could be so, but I've yet to see any direct proof, nor working (practically testable) models that demonstrate the principal. Without that, I always have my doubts - especially in the face of so much extrapolation.

      Of course, the converse is also true. I've yet to see any working models that demonstrate that we're not causing global warming. However, I'm holding the default view of "I don't know, and until I do I won't use the idea in any decision I make," which in this case is generally a ruling in favor of the idea that we're not responsible.

      It should be noted that I might be totally wrong here. I don't have an opinion on the veracity of any theory of cosmic origins or of evolution (or creationism), or even on the current "theory of everything" models for precisely the same reason - lack of a tested model and an abundance of extrapolation. I've noticed a lot of ./'ers seem to be so sure of their opinions on these subjects as to consider the opposing side ignorant, and deride them.

      I'm open to suggestions, of course. Why should I lower my standard of what constitutes reasonable proof to weigh evidence in favor of one view over another?
    • "Why is it so hard to believe that us humans are responsible for global warming?"

          Because that would involve a moral obligation to change our ways. If, instead, you had said that human activity caused climate change on a distant, ininhabitted asteroid, you'd have little problem getting people to accept it.

      steve
  • SpaceBalls (Score:3, Funny)

    by chef_raekwon (411401) on Saturday November 26, 2005 @12:02AM (#14116685) Homepage
    1. Buy Air Filtration Unit before Air gets really bad

    2. Start putting Air into neat little cans, with 2 nostril holes

    3. Call your new product 'Perri-Air'

    4. !?!

    5. PROFIT!!
  • by tehanu (682528) on Saturday November 26, 2005 @12:22AM (#14116785)
    A common comment I see here is:

    - humans only contribute 1% of the CO2.
    - hence a 27% increase is a 0.27% increase

    This is NOT what the studies show. It is 27% higher than ANY CO2 level in the past 650 000 years. This includes BOTH natural processes and man-made processes. It does not distinguish between the two sources. I've seen their graph. There is a nice cycle with greenhouses gases, and temperature with temperature slightly lagging behind C02 levels. This is the natural cycle that people talk a lot of. Who knows what causes it. Then suddenly, in recent times, the cycle is destroyed and there is a sudden upsurge in C02 levels near present times. It is very clearly anonomalous.

    Don't forget the 1% is someone's guess about how much mankind contributes.
  • by NeuroManson (214835) on Saturday November 26, 2005 @02:08AM (#14117310) Homepage
    By the same guys who largely deny there's any such thing as global warming: "We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.", in regards to Iraq's nonexistant weapons of mass destruction.

    Well we don't want the smoking gun to be beachfront property in Utah. Even now, those same cretins who claim no proof of global warming, are thinking up ways to spin a fast buck from the disappearing arctic ice caps.

    Hell, for all we know, maybe all the excess CO2 is coming from right wingers chanting denial.
  • by MannyOHara (105880) on Saturday November 26, 2005 @02:30AM (#14117405)
    If you're really interested in what people who know what they're talking about on this issue have to say do the research. One place already mentioned by other posters is http://www.realclimate.org/ [realclimate.org] and another is http://www.begbroke.ox.ac.uk/begbroke/Display/page /Climate.Basics.html [ox.ac.uk] which is the Oxford University site Climate Basics. RealClimate includes information on pretty much every objection that some of the people here have posted. They also explain a lot of the misinformation that's out there and also take suggestions on subjects to post about. It's definitely interesting to see here how many technically knowledgable people aren't really scientifically literate.
  • by Shadez666 (736779) on Saturday November 26, 2005 @03:54AM (#14117631)
    The fact that the earth hasn't seen levels like this in half a million years is like stating that it will never snow because the last three days has been 20 degrees celcius. Half a million year is nothing on a timescale measured in billions of years. What is interesting in the article however is that we see a shift from blaming carbon dioxide to blaming methane. This is done because a lot of evidence has been accumulated that contradict the doomsday scenarios of climate change caused by CO2. This is basically another article that is aimed at increasing funding for research into a change that is quite natural and has occurred over and over again for a long long time.

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