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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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  • 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 EzraSj (993720) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @06:43PM (#17187676)
    Yes, God forbid an international agency change its mind about something when new information sheds light on the problem!
    There is nothing admirable about stubbornness in face of facts. I, for one, am glad that the UN isn't dragging it's feet on this issue. If only others were so prescient.
  • by leandrod (17766) <{l} {at} {dutras.org}> on Sunday December 10, 2006 @06:43PM (#17187678) Homepage Journal
    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, more habitable lands.
  • Mind Boggles (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Jarjarthejedi (996957) <christianpinch.gmail@com> on Sunday December 10, 2006 @06:48PM (#17187714) Journal
    "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't laugh) or some other kind of trend we haven't been around long enough to notice.

    Of course they claim that it's because the Ocean's absorbing it and aerosols are reflecting it so I guess I'm still a crackpot eh? Anyone else notice that every Global Warming report seems the same? 'Our last estimate was too high, but it's still dire because of "insert new theory/problem"'?
  • 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
  • by b17bmbr (608864) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @06:50PM (#17187728)
    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. 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. So much for post-modern, secular humanism, eh? We are not omnipotent and omniscient.

    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. And 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? 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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?
  • by Nasajin (967925) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @07:05PM (#17187850)
    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: the domestic livestock are delivering their young at the same time each year, but these days it's still frosting, and a lot of young die from the amniotic fluids (from their birth) freezing.
  • 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.
  • 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.

  • Any Irony Here? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> 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.
  • 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 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.
  • Re:Mind Boggles (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 10, 2006 @07:50PM (#17188222)
    There is more potential dangers than just the ocean cover beach front condos. Just the fact that the atmosphere itself will be 5 degrees warmer can lend itself to changes. Just take weather patterns for example. If the average temperature is 5 degrees more, than the volume of air that is warmer is mich larger than it currently is. Air might not cool as fast, and might heat up quicker. Whole weather patterns can be changed if there is interruption, thus interrupting regular precipitation globally.

    England is at a latitude where many other countries of the world are pretty cold (look at parts of Canada at the same lat. eh), and depends on the warm stream that traverses the Atlantic from the equator to bring warm water and air to it. Now lets say the 5 degree temp change increases the amount of warmth England gets. It's sea side could turn from what it is into something closer to the southern French coast. There are also plant and animal life which are fairly delicate and require a certain range of temperature to survive. If they're already at their upper boundary, then an increase could push them over that boundary.

    It's all extremely complicated and very much a highly elaborate domino's game.
  • 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.
  • by leandrod (17766) <{l} {at} {dutras.org}> on Sunday December 10, 2006 @07:52PM (#17188240) Homepage Journal
    ...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 summers. Human society is incredibly adaptable, and we have lots of other more important issues to care about, such as literacy, malaria, AIDS, and the cultural wars. Caring about global warming when most people are still striving to make a living (not talking about unemployment in the First World, but misery in the Third) may be after all counter-productive, as our culture could well crumble in a few generations if it continues its decadence and so many people continue without their share in its riches.

  • 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.

  • by Jugalator (259273) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @08:12PM (#17188400) Journal
    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 atmosphere composition as for CO2 lately (yes, it seems to be going far above the former natural cycles the past hundred of thousands of years).
  • 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.

  • by Colin Smith (2679) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @08:50PM (#17188680)

    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.

     
  • reality check (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Ignatius (6850) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @08:59PM (#17188758)
    So climate changes? Big deal. It always has and always will, locally and gobally, with or without human intervention. It does not matter a bit whether the next climate change will be caused by human activity or not.

    The current peak in CO2 emissions will decline all by itself when the coal and hydrocarbon deposits slowly run out. As those reserves are, in historic timescales, basically fixed, so is the total amount of CO2 that will eventually be released back into the biosphere, and it does not really matter if this happens in 200, 500 or 1000 years. Will will have to deal with the effects eventually, both the economic (the end of the fossil fuel era) as well as any climatic ones (in addition to any climatic changes which come about for unrelated reasons).

    And guess what? That's exactly what we will do! If the oil supply stopped overnight, it would be the end of the world as we know it. If global sealevels rose five or ten meters within a week, it would be a global catastrophy. If the same things happen in the course of a decade, it will be a huge crisis, but civilisation will survive. If it happens over the course of a century (in line with the most pessimistic scenarios), mankind will face huge changes, of course, but to the average person, IMO, those changes will be LESS noticable then the major conflicts and revolutions of the 20th century. Think about how life has changed for the average European or American in the last hundred of years.

    Adopting to slowly changing circumstances is something that we, as humans, are really good at. It's basically our second nature. We are so good at dealing with these slow revolutions, that most of us don't notice them in their everyday life.
  • 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 cagrin (146191) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @09:10PM (#17188826) Homepage Journal
    So what? It will be neither the first nor the last mass extinction. Nature has recovered everytime, and the Earth has been shaken quite a few times.

    We(Humans) have become the caretakers of the world environment through our technology and population growth. I believe it even says something about this in the bible. If we don't care about our environment - in which we live - than may we go extinct as well, since we will deserve nothing less.
    Salt-Water Fish Extinction Seen By 2048 [cbsnews.com] Seafood May Be Gone by 2048 [nationalgeographic.com]

    If anything, it seems that biological diversity has been increasing except for some minor human-induced damage in the last two or three centuries.

    Unless you're talking about the increase of invasive species, i have no idea where you're getting this.

    We can't be sentimental about nature.

    How irritating ;/

    It isn't a person,

    It supports the life around us.

    and humans are different from animals

    Not so different...many examples of this can be seen on the daily news.
  • Re:MOD PARENT UP (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mondoterrifico (317567) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @09:37PM (#17188998) Journal
    I am always reminded of the Maynard Keynes quote,
    "When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?"
  • by startled (144833) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @09:47PM (#17189068)
    I, for one, wouldn't want us mucking around trying to change nature under the auspices that we're doing it for nature's own good.

    Mucking about doing unnatural things like burning less oil?
  • Re:Any Irony Here? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by gb506 (738638) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @10:32PM (#17189544) Homepage
    ...or, hell, maybe even compensate them for lost wealth?


    That sounds like it'd be a great idea if a.) the science and collective wisdom at the time we got our "head start" supported the fact that we were seriously damaging the environment AND we did nothing at all to change, and b.) the people in the US and elsewhere who would be on the hook to pay (the under 40 crowd today, probably) were primarily responsible for the current state of things.

    It'll go over like a lead baloon...

  • 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:Report details (Score:2, Insightful)

    by poochNik (51956) on Sunday December 10, 2006 @11:01PM (#17189816)
    From the article: 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.

    That is a huge change (and bear in mind that's the "upper estimate") and shows that this has about the same rigor as, say, sociology or, maybe, economics. Basically, we don't really understand this incredibly complex weather system because it's way too complex with its huge number of sub-systems and sub-sub-systems, etc., that we are still discovering (putting aside understanding how they work and why). It's only to be expected that the IPCC messes up on a major prediction.

    And why did the IPCC lower the range? It turns out that the aerosols that were banned way back because they were "evil" had a beneficial effect -- with respect to global warming. Who knew?

    And that's the point: we don't know. We all want to solve the problem NOW, but in extremely large scale systems that's extremely difficult. We might look at a coding practice for a guideline: change only one thing at a time, then see what happens. If everything's OK, try another small change. Changing a lot of stuff at once is almost certain to make the system worse and much more difficult to get right.
  • Re:Any Irony Here? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by lionheart1327 (841404) on Monday December 11, 2006 @12:06AM (#17190366)
    Quite frankly, from all I've seen from the Greens, it looks like they're much more interested in making all us filthy heathens return to "mother nature" and not actually address the problem in a sane technological manner.

    But that's just my impression.
  • Re:Any Irony Here? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sumdumass (711423) on Monday December 11, 2006 @12:24AM (#17190478) Journal
    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? Imagine letting other countries develop and use nuclear weapons because the US did it once. Imagine letting these countries force children to work in factories and have slave labor because we did it once.

    I know it is easy to get caught up in the what feels right type policies. It does seem right to let others do anything we did in hopes they can become just as strong as we are. But we should only extend that to processes we have upgraded because of efficiency, safety or something else. When we change a proccess because it damages the people working or the enviroment then it shouldn't really be considered. It is one of those things, if it is bad enough to stop it in one area, it should be discouraged in every area. Of course some things are matters of perspective like to what degree certain steps should be taken and whatnot. But it is generaly a bad idea to approve of something because you did it once.
  • by An Onerous Coward (222037) on Monday December 11, 2006 @12:28AM (#17190496) Homepage
    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.
  • 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!).
  • 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.
  • by hxnwix (652290) on Monday December 11, 2006 @02:22AM (#17191310) Journal
    So, because humanity has survived many a storied & horrid deprevation, this next repulsive calamity will be more of the same, namely:

    ocean levels rising
    large swaths of the most densely populated land in the world vanishing beneath the waves
    tropical diseases heading north
    the desertification of the tropics

    Yes, we will deal with it. We'll probably handle it the same way that we handled the wars that you mentioned: by fighting each other and making a bad situation worse.

    Would you tell a heroin addict to continue shooting up since the consequences will resemble his previous anguishes? Would you suggest that a diabetic with an amputated foot have a get-well cake, seeing as how losing the leg is sorta like losing the foot?
  • by argStyopa (232550) on Monday December 11, 2006 @09:23AM (#17193304) Journal
    "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 majority of its history it hasn't had what we would call a breathable atmosphere. It's been both 100C warmer and 100C cooler, and it seemed to settle at a much warmer temperature than now. In the last several million years it's gotten significantly cooler (on average).

    Yes, those hairless monkeys may have polluted their cage past the point of habitability. We shall see. But the earth? Even if you can't help but anthropomorphize, it couldn't care less. She's seen the obliteration of 99% of all species not once but SEVERAL times, and they keep growing back.
  • by snowwrestler (896305) on Monday December 11, 2006 @12:23PM (#17195548)
    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 just one example. [nature.org]

    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.


    This completely misses the point. The focus is not on modest lifestyle changes, it is on developing technologies that produce major impacts on carbon dioxide emissions, with only modest impacts on lifestyle. It's not just about getting everyone to buy a smaller car--the important work is getting the car makers to produce much more efficient machines that do the same thing. My 1997 car gets 30 MPG; my mom's hybrid gets more than 40 MPG; and my friend's turbo diesel gets 50 MPG. All three cars are the same size and go the same speed.

    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.


    Bullshit, this is a stupid straw man. The U.S. went through our polluting phase with these technologies because we were developing them for the first time. Now they are already developed and vastly improved. There is absolutely no reason China should have to recapitulate the entire nasty process, especially when we are so open to sharing technology and subsidizing a modern manufacturing base through open global trade. The point is to encourage them to learn from our mistakes and build energy efficiency and clean technologies into their infrastructure from the beginning--a choice we did not have.

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