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UN Report Downgrades Human Impact on Climate 378

Posted by Zonk
from the hot-air dept.
GodInHell writes to mention an article in the Telegraph, stating that man's impact on the environment has been 'downgraded'. A UN report has found that our species has not had as large effect on climate change as was previously thought. The average temperature is still due to rise almost 5 degrees C in the next 100 years, bringing drastic changes in weather patterns. From the article: "The panel, however, has lowered predictions of how much sea levels will rise in comparison with its last report in 2001. Climate change skeptics are expected to seize on the revised figures as evidence that action to combat global warming is less urgent. Scientists insist that the lower estimates for sea levels and the human impact on global warming are simply a refinement due to better data on how climate works rather than a reduction in the risk posed by global warming."
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UN Report Downgrades Human Impact on Climate

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  • Damn (Score:4, Funny)

    by Colin Smith (2679) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @06:37PM (#17187630)
    And I was due to have some river front property.

     
    • And I was due to have some river front property.
      Don't you mean beach front property??? I've never heard that the rivers were going to rise in respone to global warming. I could be wrong.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by oggiejnr (999258)
        I would be very concerned here in Hull, UK if sea levels rise as the River Humber is tidal and some areas of the city and nearby area are below sea level. London would have similar problems with a rising in the level of the Thames. There loads of other areas around the world which would suffer similar problems.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      "And I was due to have some river front property."

      Boy I hear ya. Superman foiled my plans, too. Tights wearin git.
  • by Jeremiah Cornelius (137) * on Sunday December 10, 2006 @06:41PM (#17187666) Homepage Journal
    Led by China, they don't want their "path to prosperity" cut off by the big 5 or 6, who already burned the carbon, and will maintain another era of dominance.
    • by Moridineas (213502) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @06:49PM (#17187722) Journal
      Well, who knows. People today seem to be almost solely fixated on "global warming" and carbon dioxide emissions. There are many, many other pollution problems--sulfur dioxide / acid rain being one of them. China for instance today has huge sulfur dioxide emissions, roughly comparable to the US 25 years ago before we got good about it.

      It's a difficult position, seeing as I saw one estimate that in terms of co2, China would overtake the US in roughly 5 years at current rates. (I'm not sure how accurate that is). It's truly got to be a global initiative, but one that doesn't do more harm than good. Plans like Kyoto makes huge exceptions for countries like China and India. This is of course good for them, not so good for everyone else.

      In short, I have no idea what's going to happen :p
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        here are many, many other pollution problems--sulfur dioxide / acid rain being one of them. China for instance today has huge sulfur dioxide emissions, roughly comparable to the US 25 years ago before we got good about it.

        Which is fortunate because sulfur dioxide combats global warming sort of the same way a nuclear winter combats global warming, but to a smaller scale. Many scientists are considering increasing sulfur dioxide emissions in certain locations if we can't do anything else to stop global warmi
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by ronanbear (924575)
          Recent research has indicated that one of the short term effects of SO2 is to reduce climate forcings but the long term implications are less clear.

          For example SO2 causes acid rain which damages vegatation releasing CO2. It's far to early to tell whether increasing SO2 emissions will help or will just cause a lot more damage. It's an interesting theory but it's still not well understood.

          We've gone from trying to predict whether it will rain this afternoon to trying to predict the climate for 100 years. It's
      • Any Irony Here? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@gmFREEBSDail.com minus bsd> on Sunday December 10, 2006 @07:27PM (#17188010) Journal
        China for instance today has huge sulfur dioxide emissions, roughly comparable to the US 25 years ago before we got good about it.
        Yeah, you know, you kind of skipped something important in this whole 'fairness of polluting' issue. You know, our (I'm American) economy raged when we didn't care about dumping shit in the environment. And it's still pretty evident that green products cost more (not always but usually). In fact, carbon neutrality would almost certainly raise the price of your product and a carbon tax would stagnate the economy at least a little.

        So, when we chastise other nations for doing what we did 25 years ago, we may be hobbling them somewhat in the international market if we force them not to do that. I mean, look at the great infrastructure and products that we've produced while destroying the environment. You have to admit that it's given us an upper hand.

        And this doesn't just apply to chemicals and gases, remember our 'save the rain forest' campaigns? Well, who was campaigning us to stop logging in North America (pictures on the right side [wikipedia.org])? We've literally deforested much of the United States and benefited from it quite a bit. Who's to say we're not completely hobbling the economies in 3rd world countries that are attempting to tap their nation's natural resources of wood?

        I guess in the end I just ask that you don't tell a nation not to do something but offer them an inexpensive or practical alternative ... or, hell, maybe even compensate them for lost wealth? I don't know, I'm not an economist and I'm sure I'm going to get a lot of negative replies for defending China or people cutting down rain forest for land. Oh well.
        • Re:Any Irony Here? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by ebers (816511) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @08:39PM (#17188612)
          > I guess in the end I just ask that you don't tell a nation not to do something but offer them an inexpensive or practical alternative ... or, hell, maybe even compensate them for lost wealth? I don't know, I'm not an economist and I'm sure I'm going to get a lot of negative replies for defending China or people cutting down rain forest for land. Oh well.

          You are right on. This is an angle that the environmental movement has not yet come to terms with. The gorilla in the room is not the carbon production of the currently industrialized countries, it is the carbon production in the near future (20-50 years) of the currently inductrializing countries, which are far more populous. Most of the rhetoric of the global warming movement has been centered about modest lifestyle changes in developing countries: smaller cars, power conservation, and subsidizing carbon neutral energy sources. These are easy changes to make for the average westerner: They don't strongly impact our quality of life. Too bad the the carbon withheld from the atmosphere due to these changes is so small compared to the quantities that will be released a generation from now from the populous countries that are currently industrializing.
              For the global warming movement to address the gorilla in the room, they would have to ask people in China and India to forgo that first refrigerator, automobile, computer, tractor, or paved road. And that is not a morally defensable or politically feasable position. Until the global warming movement faces up to this fact their efforts in the developed world are just a sideshow.
              I think human carbon emmisions contribute to global warming, and that human carbon emmisions will explode in the next 50 years due to the industrialization of populated countries and due to increasing carbon emissions from alternative oil sources. (Coal gassification, tar sands, extra heavy oil... all of these release a ton of carbon just to produce, before they are even burned!) Greens should be lobbying the governments of devloped countries hard for r&d into affordable carbon neutral technologies that can be scaled to the meet to enourmous quantities of energy that the developing world will soon be demanding. The only tech. I know of that is carbon neutral, sufficiently scalable, reasonably affordable, and could be implemented on a massive scale just one generation from now is nuclear fission. If greens aren't advocating for this than I don't think they are serious about putting a major dent in global warming.

          • This is an angle that the environmental movement has not yet come to terms with. The gorilla in the room is not the carbon production of the currently industrialized countries, it is the carbon production in the near future (20-50 years) of the currently inductrializing countries, which are far more populous.

            You are wrong. There are numerous environmental organizations working on the issues of the industrializing nations. Just because you have not heard of them, does not mean they do not exist. Here is jus [nature.org]

        • Re: (Score:2, Offtopic)

          by bug1 (96678)
          "a carbon tax would stagnate the economy at least a little"

          Stagnate: To cease to flow; to be motionless

          So the economy would be a little bit motionless ?

          You could have said it would _slow_ the economy, less typing, and it even makes sense.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by sumdumass (711423)
          The problem with the You did it so why cannot they do it type of argument is that we now know what we didn't know then.

          This is important because We now know that some forms of pollution and emissions totally fuck everything up. Thats why we stopped, not just because it sounded like the next evolutionary step in the process. Imagine if we didn't discourage third world countries from placing their waste water and sewage runoff treatment facilities a quart mile upstream from their drinking water intake source
        • Re:Any Irony Here? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by evilviper (135110) on Monday December 11, 2006 @02:22AM (#17191304) Journal
          So, when we chastise other nations for doing what we did 25 years ago, we may be hobbling them somewhat in the international market if we force them not to do that.

          1) it's been more than 25 years ago...

          2) back then, nobody had much of any idea of the effects.

          3) what we were doing was the pinacle of high tech at the time. Pollution controls didn't exist, until we invented them.

          Today, the Chinese government certainly knows the cause and effects of pollution, know the technology exists to significantly reduce the problem, and yet they don't bother to use it, anyhow, usually for reasons of national pride (they'd have to buy this tech from foreign companies, instead of using extremely dirty domesticly made products).

          THAT is the difference.

          offer them an inexpensive or practical alternative ... or, hell, maybe even compensate them for lost wealth?

          So China shouldn't have to pay for their own pollution or pollution controls? Somebody else should pay for it, for them?

          Not likely. China is now quite wealthy, they just chose not to control their pollution, because nobody has forced them to do so. Threaten to ban Chinese imports if they aren't produced "green", and they'll straighten up real fast. Of course I realize the political will to play chicken with cheap Chinese junk just isn't there, but that's besides the point.
  • Politics apart, if sea levels forecasts are lowered, that in itself represents a lower risk.

    The logic is so simple, it is even ridiculous: part of the risk of global warming is higher sea levels.

    If sea levels are not expected to be so high, to the expected risk is not so high.

    Now if (these) scientists think the risk is still high enough to still warrant our worries, that is quite another thing.

    I for myself still think global warming could be nice, after the initial, inevitable adaptation pains. More crops,
    • by Decaff (42676) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @06:50PM (#17187730)
      I for myself still think global warming could be nice, after the initial, inevitable adaptation pains. More crops, more habitable lands.

      Global warming does not imply more crops, or more habitable lands. It implies less. For example, a significant fraction of the world relies on the glaciers in the Himalayas for water. If those go, there will be vastly less habitable lands.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by fredmosby (545378)
        a significant fraction of the world relies on the glaciers in the Himalayas for water. If those go, there will be vastly less habitable lands.

        The water doesn't have to come from glaciers, as long as there is precipitation in the mountains there will be water downstream. Global warming would only result in less arable land if it makes the world dryer overall, but most simulations show the world getting wetter if it gets hotter.
        • Glaciers vs. Rain (Score:4, Insightful)

          by MarkusQ (450076) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @07:45PM (#17188168) Journal

          The difference is in how it's delivered. Having a steady flow of melt-water is much nicer for agriculture than occasional flash flooding, even if the later does provide more water per year on average.

          --MarkusQ

        • by anagama (611277)
          Rain is often seasonal. Part of the problem in the Western US, is that if there is not a sufficiently cold winter, snow pack in the mountains melts early and then in the dry season (summer), there isn't enough water flowing down the rivers because it already flowed away. Summer BTW coincides with the growing season. Water and ice are not really the same thing -- sure it's all water, but snow is water storage and rain is water runoff.
          • by fredmosby (545378)
            But water can be stored by building dams. And I believe China, which is where most of the people who would be effected live, already has a lot of dams for flood control and power generation.
            • Dams can only do so much. Watch how arizona, nevada and cali all bicker about the colorado river for an idea of why. Of course, it doesn't help that someone had the bright idea of building cities with parks, lawns and fountains in the desert, but that's not my point.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by StikyPad (445176)
        Actually, they rely on the precipitation caused by the Himalayas; the glaciers are incidendal. The mountains force all of water vapor to condense as the air rises to pass over them, thus it's rainy in India and dry in Tibet. Granted, at some point the mountains will erode, and glacial melting may well facilitate that erosion, however it is unlikely that this will happen at any time in the relevant future, nor that, in 50 million years, anyone will look back and say "Those 20th Century bastards.. if only t
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Nasajin (967925)

      I for myself still think global warming could be nice, after the initial, inevitable adaptation pains. More crops, more habitable lands.

      ...more disease vectors, greater drought, more flooding, colder and longer winters, drier summers... The list goes on. The fact that the issue has been "downgraded" is irrelevant. If we're still going to suffer 5 degrees increase in climate temperature, then the point is moot. Climate change is still happening, and its still a bad thing. I can see the evidence locally: th

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by leandrod (17766)

        ...more disease vectors, greater drought, more flooding, colder and longer winters, drier summers... The list goes on.

        Bzzt. The list is all about local effects, and part of what I described as painful adaptation may include migration from areas adversely affected to areas favourably affect. In fact, it is ludicrous to think about colder and longer winters globally when the issue is global warming.

        Anyway, Russians haven't migrated in masse from Moscow because it has cold, long winters and hot, dry summ

    • As some of the other reponses noted, global warming does not mean more land or crops. As the temperature rises, climate patterns change, usually making dry places more dry and wet places more wet. This means increased flooding for the wet places and droughts for the dry. It's hard to grow most of our current produce staples in either of those environments.

      On the topic of more habitable lands, that seems pretty ridiculous to me. If the sea level rises [nationalgeographic.com], earth's total land mass will decrease significantl
      • by leandrod (17766)

        As the temperature rises, climate patterns change, usually making dry places more dry and wet places more wet. This means increased flooding for the wet places and droughts for the dry. It's hard to grow most of our current produce staples in either of those environments.

        These are two ideas that are very difficult to reconcile. There must be lots of place with the opposite effects, and places with no significant humidity difference. BTW, less ice and more sea would in the average mean more humidity, whi

        • Ok, I'll admit I went a little overboard, maybe even a lot. However, it was in response to the comment "I for myself still think global warming could be nice, after the initial, inevitable adaptation pains. More crops, more habitable lands."

          I was trying to give a bunch of examples as to why that probably wouldn't be true (in my opinion, definitely won't be true). My intention was not to prove the effects of global warming, just to list other possible consequences of it, which I felt the parent poster ne
  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @06:44PM (#17187684) Homepage
    ...our revised data show we're only going to graze that iceberg.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 10, 2006 @06:45PM (#17187692)
    Sea level is currently 0.000 meters above sea level, and is predicted to be 0.000 meters above sea level in 100 years.
  • by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @06:46PM (#17187696)
    man's impact on the environment has been 'downgraded'

    I'll celebrate by having baked beens and onions for dinner.
  • "It also says that the overall human effect on global warming since the industrial revolution is less than had been thought, due to the unexpected levels of cooling caused by aerosol sprays, which reflect heat from the sun."

    Wow, so uh, the aerosol sprays were helping? Damn... I'm getting rid of these awful pump-style hairspray bottles!
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by spikexyz (403776)
      Aerosol means fine particulate matter in the atmosphere....not aersol cans.
  • Mind Boggles (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Jarjarthejedi (996957)
    "Scientists insist that the lower estimates for sea levels and the human impact on global warming are simply a refinement due to better data on how climate works rather than a reduction in the risk posed by global warming."

    Wait...wait...the sea won't rise as high, and yet the risk is the same...someone explain that one to me.

    Personally I've always been a fan of the 'Humans aren't capable of doing much damage to the Earth' theorists who say it's due to the sun becoming hotter (which happens quite often, don'
    • So are you just ignorant to the huge yellow and brown clouds lingering over even moderately sized cities in the US? I'd say we affect the climate more than we admit.
  • by b17bmbr (608864)
    perhaps we can rethink our blind devotion to global warming and man's supposed virulent impact. I have never understood why is it accepted completely that we're somehow responsible for supposed "global warming" and that we think we can do anything about it. There is still much scientific debate (unless looking for government research funding) and (yes, I RTFA) much information still coming in and I'm sure more will come in the future. The truth is probably more troublesome, in that we simply don't know.
    • by pnot (96038) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @07:12PM (#17187898)
      The earth has been around 6 billion years, give or take, and it's gone through more violent and extreme changes long before a single human emerged from the primordial sludge.

      Oh, the earth can certainly handle what we're throwing at it; even if we succeed in wiping ourselves and 99% of existing species out, evolution will just continue with the remaining 1% and produce something that can handle the new conditions. It won't be the first mass extinction.

      Make no mistake: it's not about "saving the earth", it's about saving the human race, or at least civilization as we know it.

      When I see a Monday night football game in Seattle in November, and there's snow on the ground, I can only conclude "global warming" is causing it. Sure.

      You're missing the "global" in global warming. Just because the earth as a whole is getting warmer and the ice caps are melting, it doesn't necessarily mean your backyard is getting a tropical climate. For some regions the long-term prognosis is that it will get a whole lot colder -- for example, western Europe if the gulf stream shuts off.

      One reasonable inference we can make is that weather will get more violent and less predictable, simply because we're pushing more energy into a system that exhibits chaotic behaviour. So expect more freak weather -- and on a local, short-term level, that's could just as well be snowstorms as heatwaves.
      • Make no mistake: it's not about "saving the earth", it's about saving the human race, or at least civilization as we know it.

        We've gone from a 5C raise in average temperature and say 20' raise in sea levels to the end of civilisation, the extinction of the human race, 99% of the life on the planet and the end of the plant itself.

        It's ALL bullshit. Hyperbolic hysteria and it harms the case of the environmentalists.

        Civilisation will not end.
        The human race will certainly not become extinct.
        99% of the existing species will also not be made extinct.
        The planet will not end.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by pnot (96038)
          We've gone from a 5C raise in average temperature

          Yes, five degrees sounds so innocuous, doesn't it? But a 5-degree rise across the whole earth requires an enormous input of energy, and can have enormous consequences. The temperature difference between now and the last glacial period -- with ice sheets covering much of North America and Eurasia -- is around 8 degrees.

          and say 20' raise in sea levels to the end of civilisation

          A 20-inch sea-level rise isn't so trivial either; in Bangladesh alone, that translat
    • by grcumb (781340) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @07:25PM (#17188000) Homepage Journal
      perhaps we can rethink our blind devotion to global warming and man's supposed virulent impact. I have never understood why is it accepted completely that we're somehow responsible for supposed "global warming" and that we think we can do anything about it.

      [Emphasis mine.]

      Nicely trolled, sir. You've begged the question quite nicely, and you'd have effectively sand-bagged any reasoned response, except you forgot something: Your understanding doesn't matter. Your failure to comprehend scientific consensus has no effect on the accuracy of the findings, nor on the continuing refinement of the data models, which, after all, is what this story is reporting about.

      The earth has been around 6 billion years, give or take, and it's gone through more violent and extreme changes long before a single human emerged from the primordial sludge.

      Absolutely right, and on several of those occasions, the conditions were antithetical to human existence. See, the issue here is not saving the planet. Earth will do just fine, thank you very much. The issue, if I may, is saving the humans, who are not nearly so resilient, and to whom, heaven knows why, many of us seem to have a sentimental attachment. Perhaps it has something to do with being human ourselves.

      HTH, HAND.

      • by StikyPad (445176)
        The issue, if I may, is saving the humans, who are not nearly so resilient, and to whom, heaven knows why, many of us seem to have a sentimental attachment. Perhaps it has something to do with being human ourselves.

        That's just more nonsense. Humans are as resilient as pretty much any creature on the planet, except perhaps cockroaches, especially where climate is concerned. The average temperature would have to rise pretty substantially -- which would almost definately be checked by evaporative cooling fro
      • by slughead (592713) on Monday December 11, 2006 @12:43AM (#17190594) Homepage Journal
        Nicely trolled, sir. You've begged the question quite nicely, and you'd have effectively sand-bagged any reasoned response, except you forgot something: Your understanding doesn't matter.

        Apparently, nobody's understanding matters.

        I know a few things about global warming but I'm hardly a scientist. I do know what to look for when I'm gaging expertise, and total ignorance of evidence and blindly calling everyone a 'troll' who disagrees with you will definitely get your idea flushed down my mind's toilet.

        The studies on this subject are not actually all that hard to read. When all is said and done, temperatures have only risen 0.6 [bbc.co.uk] degrees in the past 100 years. Yes I know it doesn't matter what happens globally, but in specific and dangerous locations like Greenland (whose ice loss we now know was exaggerated [nationalgeographic.com]).

        This is all in addition to the standard gripes I have with the sensationalism and lies [bbc.co.uk] coming from the media, and the near silence of the scientific community unless confronted by inquisitive people. Peer review doesn't work if nobody's willing to speak. Essentially, the reported findings of the world's largest climate experiment stated "11 degrees"... the data really pointed to 3 degrees. "Peer review" was silent until a journalist ASKED them. Listen to the radio show link (earlier in this paragraph), it's chilling (note my brand new global warming pun!).
    • by kalidasa (577403)

      So much for post-modern, secular humanism, eh? We are not omnipotent and omniscient.

      Actually, it's religions that are into the whole "omnipotent and omniscient" bit, not secular humanists.

      When I see a Monday night football game in Seattle in November, and there's snow on the ground, I can only conclude "global warming" is causing it. Sure.

      On the other hand, there have been a bunch of 60 degree days in late November and early December in the Northeast. What happens when you add more energy to a stable

    • by dangitman (862676)

      We live in a world of perfect access to information, and we expect to be able to know everything, and we assume we have complete control as well.

      We do?

      I'm not sure what world you live on, but on Earth, we don't - and I don't know very many people who believe this. I hear some anonymous strangers on the internet saying things like this, but when it comes to people I actually know and trust, I haven't ever heard anyone express this opinion.

    • by Goaway (82658)
      I have never understood

      I'm not sure why you think your ignorance is an interesting topic of discussion for the rest of us.
    • by Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @08:02PM (#17188328) Homepage Journal
      >our blind devotion to global warming

      Straw man argument do not lead to good policy decisions.

      >we simply don't know

      There could be no better argument for avoiding large-scale experiments, then. But we do know that CO2 levels are rising, that it's not coming from living organisms, and that the pattern of change (warmer lower atmosphere, cooler upper atmosphere, warmer nights) matches the effects physics says to expect from CO2.

      >So much for post-modern, secular humanism, eh?

      Straw man arguments do not lead to good policy decisions.

      >The earth has been around 6 billion years, give or take

      4.5 billion.

      >now we're to believe that somehow earth's perfect harmonial environemntal equilibirum, which never ever existed in the first place, is being upset by man?

      Straw man arguments do not lead to good policy decisions. Neither do non sequiturs: none of the big excursions in the geological record happened while we were trying to feed six billion humans with climate-sensitive crops. Or had hundreds of millions of humans living within a few meters of sea level.

      >When I see a Monday night football game in Seattle in November, and there's snow on the ground

      A dry day in Seattle doesn't mean the climate is dry. A rainy day in Tucson doesn't mean the climate is wet. The fact that there was a cold day in winter in one place is not climate data. Confusing weather with climate, like the media do when they yammer about a heat wave during a climate change conference, is stupid.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jugalator (259273)

      The truth is probably more troublesome, in that we simply don't know.

      And until we do know, we should be careful about greenhouse gas emissions.
      Or do the "better safe than sorry" not mean much to people?

      This is a logic I haven't really understood in this debate -- people go on about "we don't know if it's much about us!" like it was going to help.

      That's actually an even worse scenario, where we need to be extra careful until we do know the extent of our responsibility for the detected dramatic changes in at

  • by caseih (160668) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @06:59PM (#17187798)
    And it's not pretty either. Even if you ignore global warming or global climate change for a moment, you just have to step outside in any of our urban centers, look at the sky and take a whiff. Of course we're hurting and changing the environment. That's the real shame of it. I happen to work with an environmental scientist and he says the number one bad thing that everyone is ignoring is the short-term, immediate affect on our health. We're slowly killing ourselves in our own pollution.

    Whether the long-term effect of what we do is 10 degrees of warming, 5 degrees of warming, or even 5 degrees of cooling, we're still have a pretty drastic affect on the poor earth. Apparently, there is new research coming out all the time (and not from the grand right-wing conspiracy) that global warming isn't happening as fast as some think. But does it really matter that it's slower than we thought? We still have to confront the same issues. Net carbon increase, particulates, and nitrous oxides, all of which damage our health, as well as the environment.
    • by Jugalator (259273)
      I agree, it's interesting to watch the furious hunt for a cure for cancer, when it's pretty obvious why it's so frequent in the societies of today.

      What we're looking for is probably for another cure for cancer than an improved environment.
      • by khallow (566160)
        The main cause of cancer is people failing to die of other causes first. Second, is whether the person smokes or not. Pollution along with diet is further down the list.
      • The reason cancer is such a large killer in industrialized nations (and it should be noted that heart disease and stroke are larger killers) as opposed to the 3rd world is that it is in the 3rd world you die of something else first. Cancer is by and large an old person's disease. It simply doesn't affect the young very often. Well when you are dying of Malaria or the like first, cancer rarely has a chance to strike. Also, due to poor medical care, if you do die of cancer it's usually not chalked up to that
    • We're slowly killing ourselves in our own pollution.

      In the book Ghost Map [amazon.ca], Steven Johnson shows how Cholera was transmitted through the consumption of polluted drinking water in Victorian London. The disease spread easily because people were drinking water they took a shit in. So what'll be the next big epidemic that's spread through the consumption of polluted air? Ah wait, I think I already found one. [wikipedia.org] This gives the expression "the shit hitting the fan" a totally new meaning. :P

    • by Skippy_kangaroo (850507) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @10:55PM (#17189762)
      Do you know the greatest cure for that?

      Economic growth. As we get richer we are less willing to tolerate pollution and can afford to pay for the removal of pollution. (It's just the growth of the NIMBY movement writ large.)

      Compare, say, Taiwan and China who are at lower levels of economic development with big US or UK cities. The US and UK cities are immesurably cleaner. Furthermore, these same US or UK cities that you are complaining about are much cleaner than they were, say, 100 or even 50 years ago. Why do you think countries moved to unleaded petrol? Because they could afford to. Lead is cheaper as an additive, but the side effects in terms of smog are pretty dire. Consider, even, the move to diesel as a more environmentally friendly fuel. It happened because we could afford to develop high efficiency diesel engines and low-sulphur fuels.

      So people are not ignoring pollution - its just that they prefer to have functional hospitals and schools and police forces. And when they can afford to they'll get rid of as much pollution as they want to. And when enough people care enough about greenhouse gas emissions to actually pay for it in their electricity bill (using the alternative energy suppliers that seem to be popping up in many countries) they will switch.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        That would be a nice counterargument, if "economic growth" in modern terms wasn't just shorthand for "turning nonrenewable natural resources into trash at a faster rate than ever before." Our entire economic infrastructure is based on ever accelerating consumption of oil, metals, water, and timber, all of which are being used faster than they can be replenished. The faster we consume, the harder it's going to hit us when we finally run out of all the things we need.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by argStyopa (232550)
      "we're still have a pretty drastic affect on the poor earth. "

      The Earth doesn't give a shit. The only ones who care or are even AWARE of an impact are the stupid hairless monkeys that infest every continent.

      "Net carbon increase, particulates, and nitrous oxides, all of which damage ... the environment."
      They change the environment, they don't damage it. The earth started (apparently) a coalescing ball of dust and rock, for a long time was little more than a sphere of semisolid molten rock. For the majorit
  • by dsanfte (443781) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @07:03PM (#17187832) Journal
    It really doesn't matter to what extent Global Warming is man's problem or nature's: it's still happening, and we can still help slow it down.

    It's clear that it's heppening, now do we want it to happen faster, or slower?
  • Want to do your part to fight "global warming", then dump that SUV for something that gets at least 25MPG and stop eating beef [independent.co.uk].
    • Look at the near luxury sedans that are so popular today. Hell look at most sedans and coupes in the 25K+ range...

      for cars most of them get abysmal mileage. 18 in the city? Sheesh, my crossover averages 21 and its bigger than many sedans.

      A lot of cars are overpowered today. For the most part SUVs suffer because of their size and gearing. Too many are still geared to tow which many people will never do. But whats the excuse of all the new 8cylinder and overpowered 6 cylinder cars?

      I already use my motor
    • by caseih (160668)
      Give me a break about the cows. I can fix that one anyway. Just add flare stacks to each animal and burn it off harmlessly (it is carbon-neutral). Or collect it and heat your home with it. It's actually such a small amount that neither suggestion is serious.

      The truth of the matter is that our landfills are giving off more methane than cows. The first step should be to collect that gas. As for cows farting, I gather there are several orders of magnitude more people on the planet than cows, who have th
  • by Aphrika (756248) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @07:12PM (#17187896)
    man's impact on the environment has been 'downgraded'. A UN report has found that our species has not had as large effect on climate change as was previously thought
    Last time I checked, environment was very different from climate change.

    Man has undeniably had a huge effect on the environment; making species extinct, over fishing/hunting other species to the point of extinction, using up the Earth's non-renewable fuel sources - wood, oil, coal, building over huge chunks of the planet, not to mention the various poisons, dioxins and various nuclear stuff we throw into the atmosphere, ground and oceans.

    In this case the submitter has his facts wrong. The Telegraph article linked mentions only climate change, not man's impact on the environment as a whole. Sorry to nitpick, but I see those words being substituted for each other way too much now. You can argue all you like about climate change, but man's impact on the environment as a whole is proven.
    • by izomiac (815208)
      While I agree with you in essence, I suppose I'll nitpick as well.

      Main Entry: environment
      Pronunciation: in-'vI-r&(n)-m&nt, -'vI(-&)r(n)-
      Function: noun
      1 : the circumstances, objects, or conditions by which one is surrounded
      2 a : the complex of physical, chemical, and biotic factors (as climate, soil, and living things) that act upon an organism or an ecological community and ultimately determine its form and survival b : the aggregate of social and cultural conditions that influence the lif
  • I remember back when I was a teenager circa 1980 and the UN and virtually everyone else confidently explained that the world was running out of oil, that oil would only grow more rare and more expensive and that anybody who claimed otherwise was just a payed shrill of the oil industry.

    The more things change the more they stay the same.

    It was really funny watching people try to explain in 1985, after the oil crash, exactly why they so confidently predicted permanent oil shortages only 5 years before. I can't
    • by dangitman (862676)

      I remember back when I was a teenager circa 1980 and the UN and virtually everyone else confidently explained that the world was running out of oil, that oil would only grow more rare and more expensive and that anybody who claimed otherwise was just a payed shrill of the oil industry.

      And that is happening right now. So, what was wrong with that sentiment?

      • Well, the problem is that (1) known oil reserves are much higher today than they were 20 years ago, something few at the time would have predicted and (2) the recent price spikes were caused by rapid increases in consumption, not reductions in available stocks. The "Energy Crises" proponents held that oil stocks would be in perpetual decline from the late--70's onward. Had you told them that in the year 2000 people would be driving giant SUVs and the major environmental concern would be that we were burning
    • At least in the US, the reason we haven't noticed _much_ difference, is because we've been able to unlock old reservoirs that we promised ourselves we wouldn't touch, in addition to having more advanced technology to find more supply. There's no secret we have plenty of oil right now, but the way you word that response is that you're confident we'll have oil indefinitly, which is certainly not the case.
      • People have been confidently predicting the exhaustion of oil supplies since literally 1867, shortly after the first modern oil well was drilled. The problem is that people think of oil and all other "natural" resources as being some discrete substance that basically lays in large natural barrels underground and that when you reach the bottom of the barrel you run out of resource. It doesn't work that way. There is no such thing as a "natural" resource (unless you want to count oxygen). Everything else is
  • This is so lame. The report will not get published until February. We only have an unnamed source saying that while the estimated magnitude of the effects of global warming on sea level are lower than previously thought, this does not reflect a lowering of the risk posed by global warming. The reason given for this lowered estimate is unexpected reflection of solar rays by man-made aerosol sprays. How does this deserve the headline, "UN downgrades man's impact on the climate"? If anything it means that
  • Whether humans are 10% or 90% responsible for climate change doesn't really matter. What matters is that sea levels are rising, and more chaotic weather patterns are predicted, regardless of the cause. Saying "it's not our fault" doesn't stop the sea from rising, or weather patterns affecting our lives. So, we have to adapt to that.

    The climate change "skeptics" mostly come from a position of not wanting to change anything about the way we live on this planet. They never really cared about environmental effe

  • by charlie (1328) <charlie@anti[ ]e.org ['pop' in gap]> on Sunday December 10, 2006 @07:37PM (#17188112) Homepage Journal

    Let us imagine that one night you wake up and discover that your house is on fire.

    You dial 999 (or 911, if you're American) and ask for help: the nice despatcher tells you that the police department were watching your house and they're pretty sure there was no arsonist.

    Do you think, "oh, it's not an arson attack," and go back to bed?

    (Or do you evacuate the burning building anyway, and wait for the fire service to get there?)

    Here's the point: the house is on fire. It doesn't matter why it's on fire, in the first instance; the fire is an emergency situation and needs to be dealt with regardless of the cause.

    And by analogy, it doesn't matter whether the observations of climactic change are attributable to anthropogenic warming or to some other cause, or to a mixture of causes -- if we don't take action we're going to be in deep shit.

    • by cirby (2599) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @07:49PM (#17188218)
      The real case:

      Someone tells you that, if you don't take drastic action right now, your house will catch on fire some time in the next 100 years. A while back, the same guy was telling you the house was going to be flooded due to the same actions that will now, supposedly cause that fire.

      The current "fire prediction panel" has downgraded the actual fire risk, to boot, since all of their previous predictions of fire have not come true, and it turns out that some of the evidence they were using to predict the fire was actually made up. It seems that the computer model they were using also predicts fire if you put random noise into the input hopper.

      Meanwhile, the people who scream most about how the fire will destroy the house are going to bed while smoking, while insisting that you need to turn out all of your lights and sleep on the floor.
    • by MoneyT (548795) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @07:51PM (#17188232) Journal
      Let's try a better metaphore. Let's say you wake up one night and think that because your house is made of wood, that it might catch fire if some burning embers from a lit cigarette fall on it, after all, that's how smokey the bear says forest fires get started.

      So you institute an imediate policy againsts lit cigarettes of all types within 100 yards of your house and comission some studies on house fires.

      Over the years, your studies begin to reveal that while cigarettes can cause a fire, it's not the most likely cause.

      Do you continue your capaign against cigarettes or do you revise your protection models.

      The point is, your house isn't on fire, it's at risk, but effective safety is knowing which risks are most important to minimize.

      Also the point is that analogies are shitty, why don't you just say what you mean, which is, despite the fact that the study shows human impact is lesser AND shows that newer understandings demonstrate a reduced risk, you would rather blindly continue with current policies as is, much like the few crackpots who completely deny global warming want to continue with their current policies as is.
  • They're dialing back predictions of human impact by 25%. That is less than the known uncertainties in the range of possible predictions.

    Then, the revised forecast includes one scenario of a 4.5 degrees C rise in average global temperature. That's still well into the severe range.
  • RTFA before commenting. :-)

    I can only say it wasn't very "calming" to me:

    "The bottom line is that the climate is still warming while our greenhouse gas emissions have accelerated, so we are storing up problems for ourselves in the future."

    It warns that carbon dioxide emissions have risen during the past five years by three per cent, well above the 0.4 per cent a year average of the previous two decades. The authors also state that the climate is almost certain to warm by at least 1.5 C during the next 100 y

  • by crmartin (98227) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @08:07PM (#17188370)
    ... in other news, Al Gore's head explodes, realclimate.org accuses UN of being funded by Exxon through the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
  • by shma (863063) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @08:27PM (#17188504)
    And unsurprisingly, the article ends with this:

    However, Julian Morris, executive director of the International Policy Network, urged governments to be cautious. "There needs to be better data before billions of pounds are spent on policy measures that may have little impact," he said.

    Of course, they don't bother to say who these people are, or the fringe views they hold. From wikipedia [wikipedia.org]

    In November 2004, IPN released a report claiming that "climate change is 'a myth', sea levels are not rising and Britain's chief scientist is 'an embarrassment' for believing catastrophe is inevitable." It called "the science warning of an environmental disaster caused by climate change ... 'fatally flawed'" and contested predictions that the global sea level would increase by a meter over the next century, saying that "sea level rises will reach a maximum of just 20cms." Moreover, the report listed some benefits of global warming, including "increasing fish stocks in the north Atlantic and reducing the incidence of temperature-related deaths among vulnerable people." The British newspaper The Guardian claimed that IPN had received $50,000 from ExxonMobil, which "list[ed] the donation as part of its 'climate change outreach' programme."
  • The information in the past has been slightly better than unfounded fearmongering.
    Some of the claims being made by some environmentalists were quite simply ridiculous, fearmongering undermines their whole arguement.

    I'm glad that someone is finally putting together more accurate and reasonable data. This might get more support as more people accept it.

    Oh and score one for those who claimed the fearmongering was a bit of an exageration.
  • Irrelevant! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by shma (863063) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @09:00PM (#17188764)
    The IPCC has been forced to halve its predictions for sea-level rise by 2100, one of the key threats from climate change. It says improved data have reduced the upper estimate from 34 in to 17 in.

    Once again, newpapers show that they have absolutely zero knowledge of science or statistics. Tell me, if I do two experiments to try and find the radius of the earth, and find the first time that my results are 6,370 +/- 3210 km, and the second time that my results are 6370 +/- 10km , is this 'junk science' because my upper bound has dropped by 33%? Of course not. All this quote shows is that their calculations are getting more precise. If you want to show that they were wrong in their last report you'd have to show a large change in their AVERAGE value, and since the sensationalist reporter here didn't bother to even quote it, there's nothing we can say.

    By the way, if you want to, you can see projections of sea level from the 2001 report online [grida.no]. The sea level rise for several different scenarios [grida.no] is given in the graph on the right. The overall error bounds are larger because they combine all the data for these scenarios, which are vastly different in their assumptions about economic, technological and population growth in the next century.
  • by wytcld (179112) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @09:49PM (#17189080) Homepage
    However, Julian Morris, executive director of the International Policy Network, urged governments to be cautious. "There needs to be better data before billions of pounds are spent on policy measures that may have little impact," he said.

    Most often when a reporter puts a quote at the end of the article, that quote presents the conclusion the reporter would like the reader to take away. In this case, it wasn't even worth the reporter's time explaining who in hell the "International Policy Network" is, let alone why an opinion from them should be pertinent here. Note also that the article above that details a lowered prediction of sea level rise precisely because there is now better data. So Mr. Morris's comment is a non sequitor.
  • A long time ago, environmentalism meant not doing things which damaged environments. Lead contamination was reduced by not using lead. Acid rain was reduced by not producing acid. Deforestation was reduced by not deforesting.

    Now the "new environmentalism" says you can assign a dollar value to every kind of environmental damage and instead of preventing the damage you can recover the lost value by feeding money into another cause.

    Use all the lead you want but compensate by paying into disposal funds. Mak
  • by Robotbeat (461248) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @11:55PM (#17190274) Journal
    Okay. So, the article says that in 100 years, the sea level will rise by up to 17 inches. Now, I live in Minnesota, the Land of 10000 Lakes. My family's cabin is on a lake north of wear I live, and we have had fluctuations of, like, one or two meters over the last twenty years. Guess what? When the level goes up, we move the dock up. When it goes down, we bring the dock back down. Sometimes we have more beach, sometimes we have less. It's not really that big of a deal.

    In the ocean, you already have tides and storms and such. I think that 17 inches would have even LESS of an impact in the ocean, since those other effects already have to be accounted for when finding a good spot to put a dock or a house.

    And, if we have 100 years to deal with this, I really don't know why we don't just take a couple billion dollars or so from one of these studies and invest it in some high-growth investment market and just let compound interest give us the solution? If Kyoto would put any significant pressure (like, at least %1) on the $13 trillion American economy, we could just go without Kyoto and put that $130 billion a year for twenty years and then pay every islander in the world a $5000 stipend every year forever from the interest earned? I mean, I could survive on $5000 a year, and I live in America! That amount of money would allow one to pretty much live in luxury in a third world country. Am I the only one who thinks that Kyoto would put more pressure than just 1% on the American economy, assuming it was actually followed?

    If a sea level rise of 17 inches is really one of the biggest problems of global warming, then it sure doesn't make me that worried (especially since Minnesota is land-locked and, hey, it gets pretty cold here in the winter...).

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