Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Science

2006 Was the Warmest Year Ever 782

Posted by kdawson
from the El-Nino-and-humankind-conspiring dept.
kpw10 writes "Dr. Jeff Masters from Wunderground has a great summary of this year's rather abnormal weather (his blog is the best source on the net for in-depth weather analysis). The post discusses some of the cyclical climate forces at work this year and compares this year's record temperatures to records from the past. There are some interesting differences, particularly in the extent of the northern hemisphere seeing record highs this year." From the article: "December's weather in the Northeast U.S. may have been a case of the weather dice coming up thirteen — weather not seen on the planet since before the Ice Age began, 118,000 years ago. The weather dice will start rolling an increasing number of thirteens in coming years, and an ice-free Arctic Ocean in summertime by 2040 is a very real possibility..." Here is the The National Climatic Data Center's report announcing the entry of 2006 into the record books.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

2006 Was the Warmest Year Ever

Comments Filter:
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @04:48AM (#17536738)
    As, probably, the most powerful country on Earth at the moment I'd like to see the US taking much more of a lead in the process of dealing with climate change.

    It is after all them who have benefitted most and contributed most to global warming in order to build up their industries and economy.

    Other, not so advanced countries, such as China and India are still developing and shouldn't need to be as active in reducing greenhouse gases as the US should.

    Whoever takes the lead in developing the new technologies and processes required to in this new environment will gain an invaluable lead when the rest of the world goes through the same process.

    It seems to me, from comments posted on /. and elsewhere that the problem is in the hands of not only the US administration but also the US citizens who need to all grow up, face their responsibilites and the damage they are responsible for and begin to put things right.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @04:52AM (#17536764)
    While I will agree with nearly all of it, the one point that MAY be wrong is that this is man-made. It is possible for this to be a natural phenomenon. Now, with that said, I would rather err on the side of caution and assume that this is man-made and at least try to back out our damage.
  • Not just hotter (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wrmrxxx (696969) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @05:11AM (#17536874)
    In the Victorian Alps (south eastern Australia) the ski season was a dismal flop due to lack of snow. Due to the drought there wasn't enough water for snow making either. But on Christmas day (which is summer here of course), there was a large snow storm up in the mountains: more snow than there was during winter. My entirely unscientific impression of the recent weather is not just that it's getting hotter - it's getting weirder.
  • by AlXtreme (223728) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @05:14AM (#17536894) Homepage Journal
    Indeed. I'm off to Serre-Chevalier myself on Friday, with 90cm/25cm it isn't perfect. Even so, most of the slopes are open and they're expecting a bit of snow over the next few days, so it'll be okay. GP is a bit alarmist.

    Happy boarding! Besides, if it turns out bad we can always go to Norway next year...

  • by packeteer (566398) <{packeteer} {at} {subdimension.com}> on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @05:16AM (#17536908)
    That was an argueing point years ago. Before this was widely studied nobody honestly knew if it was our fault or not. The jury is in, we know what is causing climat change and its us. Now to be fair there is a real and measurable increase in global temperature that is natural but that barely accounts for the *ahem* tip of the iceburg of climate change. The natural "cyclical" climate chance is blown out of the water by the unnatural, unhealthy, and unexpected speed of human caused climat change.
  • by Nanpa (971527) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @05:17AM (#17536910)

    Climate Change is real, it is man made and only people who think New Earth Creationism is a good idea could be so dumb as to ignore it.

    That's quite a strawman you've got there.

    and there are loads.... okay one... decent scientist who says it isn't Man made or true or nothing

    Exactly correct. Everyone knows that the present of a specific scientific principle is decided by a central committee and then approved by the electorate at large. It's an excellent system, look how the Catholic church managed to keep us at the centre of universe!

  • by stsp (979375) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @05:17AM (#17536916) Homepage
    Could this really be avoided? Is it still time to revert those climate changes? Shouldn't we be preparing for the worse yet? Instead of deciding whether or not it's really happening ?
    Well, according to Douglas Adams' stories, people start to panic only when it is already way too late to do something about the situation.
  • by ElephanTS (624421) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @05:17AM (#17536918)
    Well said, refreshing to read that.

    I just read in 'Revenge of Gaia' that this period of warming may take 100,000 years to subside. R'uh-oh.

    A critical fact in Al Gore's film: after compiling the results of 1,100 serious scientific papers about GW not one suggests that it is anything but man's fault. The percentage of journalistic articles suggesting that it may not be man's fault: 53%.

    That's where this argument stems from I think. That and big oil sponsored research. Additionally It's very hard for a /.er to see past the techno-fix as this is the general mindset here.

  • by myurr (468709) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @05:18AM (#17536922)
    For me at least, your first paragraph hits the nail on the head. Climate change is happening - but it has always happened. The arrogance of man is to presume that the current climate is one which would remain stable were it not for our interference. The climate has always changed, it is a dynamic system, and will always change. Why should we presume that the climate that we currently have is the natural balance for the Earth?

    It is a complex and ever changing system and our understanding is really very limited. There could be factors at work that come into play as the temperature rises which then tip the Earth back the other way and heading for an ice age.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @05:21AM (#17536942)
    It is after all them who have benefitted most and contributed most to global warming in order to build up their industries and economy. Other, not so advanced countries, such as China and India are still developing and shouldn't need to be as active in reducing greenhouse gases as the US should.
    I'd like to see some real figures because it seems to me that it could just as easily be the opposite. I mean, in the U.S. business is moving away from heavy industry which is most responsible for pollution, whereas industries like that are flourishing in China and other countries. Also, although the U.S. has certainly has more lax environmental restrictions than many industrialized European countries, they are still miles ahead of those in China.
  • by dammy (131759) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @05:32AM (#17536998)
    Quoting from http://www.junkscience.com/ [junkscience.com] on this article:

    "s it happens we're just reformatting the thermometer graphic to give people a better idea of global mean temperatures and trends. Using a thousand less-urbanized sites from the METAR database suggests the last year (calendar date to calendar date, in this case) was about as near average as can be expected, within a tenth of a degree of the calculated mean without any enhanced greenhouse forcing.

    Is the world really hot and getting hotter? That's a very good question but one to which no one has a good answer. The urbanized record is a little warm but that doesn't mean very much. The planet? Well, that's an open question as yet."

    Dammy
  • by packeteer (566398) <{packeteer} {at} {subdimension.com}> on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @05:36AM (#17537018)
    You are half-correct (maybe more than half). Carbon capture and storage (CCS) is the onyl way to solve the problme but we cant feel helpless and give up takign any measures becuase the problem is too big. Kyoto is flawed becuase it won't SOLVE the problem but it is a step that is crucial for our future. The CO2 is not a zero sum system. Not only the oceans absorb CO2. Plant growth and other "natural" CCS system are working for us but at the same time that we are removing rainforest we are burning the trees which releases the CO2 theyb absorbed to grow and replacing the trees with most often cattle. The cattle create methane which is 23 times more powerful than CO2 as a green house gas.

    As i said before Kyoto is not the solution and neither is the saving the rainforest. There is no magic solution here, the only possible way we can pull out is by taking care of the environment everywhere. We cant seperate the important of different life support systems on earth and think we can do away with some of them.
  • Too late.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by cookie_token (1048774) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @05:37AM (#17537026)
    I wonder why people start to worry about our environment now, when even 20 years ago it was obvious that something like that will happen.

    But now, when it begins to get really expensive (think about damages caused by hurricanes, floodings etc.), people start to care. Before that, the attitude was "Uhh, greenhouse effect? Doesn't concern me, as long as I can live like I used to."

    It's almost too late..
  • by timmarhy (659436) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @05:43AM (#17537062)
    you don't honestly think al gores film was objective reasearch on the issue do you? honestly it's whole point was doom and gloom, no one was going to watch a film "everythings ok"
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @05:44AM (#17537072)
    Yes thats the point, the US and other modern countries ( UK, Russia, Germany, Japan ) have in the past had huge industrial output with the attendant pollution and contribution to Global Warming.

    It is because of this industry that they are in the position they are in today and why they can afford to cut back on their industrial output ( through outsourcing to less expensive countries ) in order to clean up the pollution in their countries caused by their industrial legacy and enact laws to curb the kind of worst excesses of industry which is still undertaken.

    Without having this industrial base and without causing the pollution they did the US, UK, Germany, Japan and Russia would not occupy the powerful positions in the world which they do.

    Up and coming countries such as India and China ( where a lot of our production and industry have moved to ) can make similar gains through industrialisation to become more wealthy and improve the standard of living of their citizens, it is unfair to penalise them for their current industrial output as much as we penalise the US, UK, Germany, Japan etc since we have already caused an awful lot of the global warming problem before being able to do something about it.

    Thats not to say China etc don't need to do their bit to prevent Global Warming but since we caused the majority of the problem it ought to be down to us to provide the majority of the solution.
  • Re:Contradictory (Score:2, Insightful)

    by cyclomedia (882859) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @06:01AM (#17537142) Homepage Journal
    The way that the warming effect manifests itself is in the spread of the regions, that is. towards the equator we have an hot arrid region, at the poles we have cold frosty regions and inbetween we have somewhat of a gradient in temperature but also the crucible of interaction between the two. This is how weather is "made": in the interaction between the hot and cold air and water of the equator (solar heated) and poles

    Heat up the planet and the hot,dry band around the equator expands, initially the temperate zone is squashed, concentrating the effects of the cold/hot interaction and producing the "extreme" weather we are seeing.

    Which is how a globally hotter climate can cause colder weather events in temperate areas.

    basically the hotter the global temperature the steeper the gradient of temperature increase is from the poles. the poles themselves recieve little to no solar heating so will continue to sit there stubbornly trying to remain icy cold. steeper temperature gradient = wilder weather with greater extremes

  • by Xugumad (39311) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @06:13AM (#17537206)
    What amuses/terrifies me is the people that argue that global warming isn't humanity's fault, and as such we don't have to do anything about it. I mean, the apocalypse may be coming, but if we didn't cause it, no point in us trying to stop it *shakes head quietly*
  • by Pentagram (40862) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @06:18AM (#17537232) Homepage
    Any proposed solution that involves hurting the economies of the nations with resources to actually deal with the problem is not the answer.

    Whilst it would be desirable to have a solution to climate change that does not involve hurting the economy (and I believe this is certainly possible), we should get our priorities straight. I would not want a bigger television at the expense of living in a filthy polluted desert.
  • by werewolf1031 (869837) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @06:20AM (#17537240)
    Inconvenient truth is pretty much boring for the educated people - there's nothing in it that I wouldn't know already. I can't help but feel sorry for people who find it creepy or shocking - that just shows they live in some dark basement or something
    Your attitude is self-righteous, narcissistic, and condescending. It is far better to have learned something for the first time, than to never have learned it at all. I can't help but feel sorry for people who too-easily forget that they, too, once learned something for the first time, when it was new to them.
  • by autOmato (446950) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @06:20AM (#17537242) Homepage
    make our children proud of this spineless generation.

    Nah.
  • by Pentagram (40862) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @06:32AM (#17537308) Homepage
    The first thing I thought when I saw those charts was 'correlation doesn't equal causation'.

    You're joking right? Correlation does not *necessarily* imply causation but it gives you the right to be damned suspicious that it does. And this is a very good correlation, with a known scientific model that points to causation.
  • by jamie (78724) * <jamie@slashdot.org> on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @06:35AM (#17537338) Journal

    Kyoto is flawed becuase it won't SOLVE the problem but it is a step that is crucial for our future.

    Exactly. Kyoto would buy our children time to figure out and implement more technologically-advanced, cheaper, and less-painful ways of altering their world.

    Coincidentally, Kyoto has not been ratified by the same country where "lower taxes!," i.e., lower taxes for me and higher taxes for my children, is the one political rallying cry that always works.

    Why the party that campaigns on lowering taxes and refusing to ratify Kyoto hates the world's children has yet to be determined.

  • by j3w (860785) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @06:35AM (#17537340)
    Despite the fact that this is the warmest year since we've started keeping track, I do believe we are still geologically below the average temperature of the earth overall. I would never argue that we don't contribute to the warming of our current era, but to what extent is and probably always will be pretty inconclusive. We should be careful when we make these comparisons, and realize that even without our help the earth will be both warmer and cooler than it is now at different points in the future. So the penguins and the polar bears were going to be soggy toast eventually anyways, just perhaps not so soon. Besides there are plenty of other reasons to want to do something about our pollution problem. For example I just read on bbc news that there were 3600 deaths attributed to smog in Iran just last October. The problem with the Global Warming band wagon is that its hard to quantify, but who can deny air quality problems in urban settings. It seems to me that perhaps Global Warming is over emphasized in comparison to things it might be relatively easier to get people to care about. People are generally short sighted, and pretty much only care about what is right in front of them right now, not whats going to happen in 2040. Trying to get a signifigant portion of the earth's population to change their ways is probably a lost cause no matter how you present it, and the looming spectre of global warming definitely won't be signifigant enough in the herds mind until its way way to late. The problem should be attacked from a different angle. Thats my $0.02 anyways.
  • by paskie (539112) <pasky@ u c w.cz> on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @06:41AM (#17537380) Homepage
    So the choice is:

    1. Try. Make the environment cleaner in the process and more friendly to other species. Develop technologies that will also help human survive the hotter environment as a side effect.

    2. Don't try. Either hope maybe - just maybe - it's not happenning at all or that all the effort is useless anyway. Blindly carry on as far as possible without inconvenciencing oneself and either get *really* lucky and all the statistical data was just an error, or die happily as one of the two hundred last humans on the Earth.

    Well... I guess it's a question of personal values and philosophy.

    (The bottom line is: how does it matter if humans actually were the major cause, and how does it make it bad to try to reduce human environmental impact? So if it's 50-50 (very optimistic for you) we still have answer that works great in _both_ cases, so why still argue against it?)
  • by dingDaShan (818817) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @06:46AM (#17537410)
    Correlation does not prove causation. Yes, this is skeptical, and I am for environmental protection, but I must add that even 118,000 years of data does not even begin to understand the climate of an Earth that is millions of years old. There is no way to truly test global warming as variables cannot be isolated. ------------- What would a longitudinal study to test global warming entail?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @06:56AM (#17537446)
    ...how about both of them, since feedback processes seem fairly fundamental to this whole discussion.
    In which case, the additional forcing of CO2 levels by human civilisation can be magnified by the positive feedback process you just outlined. Reality isn't either-or, you know...
  • by LarsWestergren (9033) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @07:02AM (#17537470) Homepage Journal
    This post has been made with my current understanding of the problem; if a more informed person can correct me wherever I am wrong, I'd be grateful.

    Ok. You use the logical fallacy "straw man" twice. "this is the fallacy of refuting a caricatured or extreme version of somebody's argument, rather than the actual argument they've made. Often this fallacy involves putting words into somebody's mouth by saying they've made arguments they haven't actually made"

    For instance. You imply that "green eco-activists" say that CFCs are (solely) responsible for the antartic ozone hole. Most of us do NOT say that. We KNOW that ozone degradation occurs naturally. And by the way, ozone is not decayed by lack of sunlight. UV radiation breaks down oxygen molecules, and ozone molecules, so it both creates and destroys ozone. Cold however, accelerates the breakdown.

    The problem is that the degradation was accelerated to dangerous levels.

    And the same thing is true for global warming. We know climate goes through natural fluctuations. You are again using a strawman when you say the claim is that it has been caused by "the U.S., industry or humanity".

    That is not the claim, the claim is that human activity has caused a huge increase in the rate of change.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @07:27AM (#17537594)
    "The jury is in, we know what is causing climate change and its us. "

    Is the planet warming at the moment? - we aren't sure, but probably yes. We have a fair bit of data about temperature variations, though interpretation and comparison is still a problem. The Southern Hemisphere, in particular, does not seem to be warming noticeably.

    Is the planet hotter than at any point in the past? - certainly not. We know the planet's temperature frequently varies. It has been going up since the last Ice Age, and in particular going up since the last cold snap in the 1880s. The last time it was warmer than this was Medieval Warm Period, back in the 1300s.

    Is the cause primarily mankind's actions? - we do not know how climate drivers work. We have models, which are guesses, which can be made to react to human CO2 inputs, but which equally could be made to react to other drivers. Given the small size of human inputs compared to natural forces it would be surprising if mankind's actions were critical, but we really do not know. No one has been able to propose a definitive experiment, so all we have to go on are model guesses.

    Is there anything we can do about it? - this is the biggie. Even assuming the models are correct and the small human input is critical, humanity would have to collapse its current economy (and probably loose 50% of its population) to have an effect according to the models. This assumes that we approach the problem only by cutting CO2 emissions. Other, much cheaper technical fixes have been proposed, but are invariably ruled out, seemingly on the political grounds that if technology causes an (alleged) problem then technology should not be allowed to play any part in the solution.

    This is why scientists characterise the 'cut carbon emissions' lobby as a religeon rather than a science. This doesn't make it wrong, just that it requires faith rather than proof to accept that mankind is the guilty party.
  • by digitalhermit (113459) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @07:47AM (#17537760) Homepage

    A critical fact in Al Gore's film: after compiling the results of 1,100 serious scientific papers about GW not one suggests that it is anything but man's fault. The percentage of journalistic articles suggesting that it may not be man's fault: 53%.


    This is an extremely important point. From reading regular articles, many people believe that the scientific community is evenly balanced on the question of whether human activity is causing global warming.

    There's a trap in journalism that can cause this. In an effort for scientifically untrained reporters to report "fairly", they may try to get both sides of a story, even if the other side is not scientifically valid. This leads to the disproportionate number that you quoted above.

    That said, there are enough reports that news articles and supposedly scientific studies have been influenced by corporations that I can't blame the journalists entirely.
  • by vhogemann (797994) <victor@hogeman[ ]om ['n.c' in gap]> on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @07:48AM (#17537764) Homepage
    AFAIK the industrial economy of the USA is heavily subsidized by the government, especially the heavy industry, like metallurgic plants.

    With such subsidies, industries tend to invest less on their infra-structure, use less than optimal processes, be less productive and pollute more.

    I think that the real problem here is that the USA don't want to pay the price that everybody else already payed to be able to compete on the global market. Take for example the metallurgic industry, here at Brazil we have the most competitive, and efficient, plants... yet the Brazilian steel has a hard time to enter into the USA market because of the subsidies.

    If anything, investing on more modern equipment, that pollute less and is more efficient, would drive the USA industry forwards and probably increase the number of jobs. But its easier to rely on governments subsidies.

    Just my $0.02
  • by guidryp (702488) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @07:58AM (#17537838)
    The pattern I see from those in the denial business is not one of serious honest skepticism, but of cheap shots, hazy generalizations, unsupported assertions, cherry picking research data out of context etc. There is no new facts that they wish to present. They only wish to undermine the facts of human influence on climate change.

    To counter information about melting glaciers they will point out that certain parts of Greenland has accumulating glaciers, but they leave out the information that this was predicted as the edges of the glacier melt more rapidly and result in more snowfall inland. The also leave out that there is still a net loss.

    Another ridiculous claim was that 1998 was the hottest year and we have not been getting hotter since and therefore climate models are broken (I saw this in a newspaper article in the last few months) It neglects that 1998 had a strong El Nino and thus was somewhat anomalous, and that 2005 was as hot or even hotter than 1998 (depending on data, google hottest year on record) or that 2006 was quite warm and turns out it will now have the record.

    Bottom Line: We dump billions of tons of C02 (heat trapping gas) into the atmosphere annually and it is accumulating. How could this not be having an effect? Wishful thinking?

    I think we owe to future generations to at least make an effort to slow the damage we are doing.

    Higher energy taxes, more renewables, more nuclear plants, higher CAFE standards would be a start. The climate deniers will whine that this might cost the economy $$$, but seriously do you really think it will be that much of a net cost, how about the Trillion dollars spent on misadventures in Iraq? Would it cost more than that?

    Consider the trade deficit benefits of importing less oil, the price for oil would probably drop along with this further improving the deficit. Conservation efforts will have offsetting economic benefits. Putting money into locally constructed nuclear or renewables is money kept in country and not sent out to purchase oil from volatile regions.

    Until we find Earth 2, we need to treat Earth 1 with a tad more respect.
  • by argStyopa (232550) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @08:01AM (#17537858) Journal
    It's a multipart question, and the people who either have a vested interest in the answer or a political motivation (ie because they enjoy attacking Republicans/Bush, usually forgetting it was Clinton that refused to sign Kyoto...) cheerfully build strawmen to ignore this.

    1) is there climate change?
    2) is it caused to a significant degree by human activity?
    3) is the result of climate warming bad?
    4) can the human activity be changed such that the effect is altered, and what is the opportunity cost for doing so?
    (each question is followed by an "if yes, then...")

    Few people debate 1; as the poster(s) above pointed out, climate has *always* changed, and is changing. It appears to me that only eco-nuts are claiming that climate should somehow be static from here forward (apparently to remain convenient for humans, ironically). Yet eco-nuts nevertheless like to claim that the 'neanderthals' of the Right are constantly denying 'global warming'. No, as a likely member of this cohort, we don't deny the warming we merely deny your nutball hysteria and most of your solutions, swampie.

    2 seems likely, although I haven't seen conclusive proof. We're putting a LOT of heat out, as well as large amounts of CO2. So anecdotally it seems credible to me. But the earth is a BIG system. Almost inconceivably big. Larger shifts in CO2 and temp have occurred historically, and just as quickly, long before humans showed up. It's NATURAL for humans to try to correlate events and their own actions - that's how we got dryads, superstition, and arguably, God - but that doesn't mean they are actually connected causally. Further, it's not impossible that something happens for the first time; it doesn't mean that the observer somehow caused it, no matter how politically convenient he'd find it.

    3 NOBODY seems to know, although we managed to live quite successfully at lower tech levels and higher temps at regular periods in our history.

    And 4 is what's really under argument. Environmentalists stamping their sandal-clad feet and crying that "we have to" is unpersuasive. And a report claiming that global warming is going to cost X is (nearly) meaningless unless it's compared to the Y cost of mitigation.

    Environmentalists' arguments are only going to convince the choir until they first acknowledge that their history of 'global prediction' is really quite bad. Have we run out of clean water? Space for landfills? Food? Trees? Oil? No. None of the 'sky is falling' predictions have come true, so pardon me if I am somewhat skeptical of your latest crisis cry.
  • by packeteer (566398) <{packeteer} {at} {subdimension.com}> on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @08:09AM (#17537924)
    Is the planet warming at the moment? - we aren't sure
    This is just not true. Spreading FUD and lies will sure make people THINK we aren't sure but that doesn't mean that an informed and educated person can be as sure about climat change as they are about the "theories" of physics which we can safely rely on despite being "just a theory".

    Is the planet hotter than at any point in the past? - certainly not.
    Your arguement is a textbook case of a fallacy of logic called the appeal to tradition, if i remember right. You try to make it seem like the fact that this is not THE HOTTEST it has ever been means that it's not getting any hotter.

    Is there anything we can do about it? - this is the biggie.
    The only way we won't be able to do anyhting about it is if enough people are stalled with partisan rhetoric about how this is a polical issue that people need to take sides on based about political values. The energy companies managed to exploit the fact that we are a divided country and they simply chose a side to be against (liberals) and they got the other half of the country aon their side becuase of it.
  • by EzInKy (115248) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @08:24AM (#17538064)

    Actually, that is the only thing we have to do: cut back on CO2 emissions - problem solved.


    Not true. While that may buy more time it won't reverse the damage that has already occurred.
  • by Ambitwistor (1041236) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @08:24AM (#17538070)
    As the AC pointed out [slashdot.org], both effects happen and enhance each other. Greenhouse CO2 makes the Earth warmer, which releases more CO2 from the ocean, amplifying the warming trend, which in turn releases even more CO2, in addition to the continuing increases in atmospheric CO2 due to human emissions (under business-as-usual scenarios).
  • by Darth Daver (193621) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @08:36AM (#17538240)
    And by "Ever" we mean since the 1860's, which is the limit of accurate records. If you try to estimate temperatures based upon other data (gases in ice core samples, tree rings, etc.), there were years warmer than this one including the medieval period and a time when the arctic circle was tropical, long before SUVs.
  • by EzInKy (115248) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @08:48AM (#17538390)

    But there is no way to do that.


    Fifty years ago there was no way to go to the moon, but motivation, research, and yes...money solved that problem.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @08:51AM (#17538436)
    NOT.

    WE are HELPING climate change, but good god get your ego under control. we are not the cause of it. Most scientists openly admit that if everything was stable the human race and it's polluting can NOT cause global warming. WE can help it along, we can do lots of things to set in motion changes.

  • Analogy (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Metasquares (555685) <slashdot&metasquared,com> on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @09:11AM (#17538660) Homepage
    Let's say that instead of climate change, a large meteor was headed for the planet in, say, 2029. Would we argue for twenty years over whether mankind's radio emissions (or whatever) caused the meteor to near the earth or would we try to think up ways of doing something about it?

    I personally think that climate change is caused by increased CO2 emissions from human industry because all of the theory supports it, but it honestly doesn't matter. We have a major problem. We can either point fingers endlessly like a bunch of 5 year olds, or we can try to solve it before it becomes a catastrophe.
  • by benhocking (724439) <benjaminhockingNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @09:17AM (#17538744) Homepage Journal

    Against the Mars canard:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=192 [realclimate.org]

    If you're one of those who don't trust realclimate.org (after all, it is biased in favor of climatology!), feel free to follow the references. If you're someone who trusts junkscience.com more, then I guess you also think that smoking is healthy. (I'm just covering my bases here. I seriously doubt that you trust junkscience over realclimate, but there are those who do.)

  • by MrFlibbs (945469) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @09:23AM (#17538826)
    This is an excellent point, but it cuts both ways. As you've pointed out, the available evidence during the Middle Ages made an Earth-centered universe viable. Thus, it was entirely possible to rigorously follow the scientific method and still conclude we are at the center.

    Rigorously scientific, and quite wrong. This is something that's overlooked all too often -- Science can never promise Truth. The best any theory can hope for is to be very well verified. Please don't get me wrong -- the Scientific Method works better than any other method known to us. We can never know with absolute certainty that our conclusions are true, but using any other method is much worse. I'm not advocating that we replace Science with something else; I'm just pointing out that the conclusions are never absolute.

    This is something to keep in mind with the current global warming debate. The evidence suggests that human burning of carbon fuels is a big part of the problem. A strong majority of Scientists across multiple disciplines are convinced we need to do something about it. But they could be wrong.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @09:26AM (#17538856)
    Neither wind or solar power will be sufficient to fuel their industrial boom, especially whilst coal is plentiful and cheap.

    We should certainly encourage them to take what steps they can to reduce greenhouse emissions but really the US should convert as far as it can to carbon neutral sources of power before China or India should think about making the switch themselves.


    What? This is everyones planet, we all have an interest in taking care of it. To say that this or that country should do something first is nonsense. Everyone needs to do what they are able to do. Yes, the US should take the lead, especially in research given our position. But that doesn't mean the rest of the world should wait around for some miracle technology to solve the problem.
  • by TapeCutter (624760) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @09:42AM (#17539088) Journal
    I'm not from the US but I think you are being a tad harsh with the "all" qualifier, 50% of all climate research has been funded by the US, much of it well spent on collecting and interpreting raw data via sattelites. OTOH: The current US Administration and the current government of my country (Australia) are both guilty of deliberate obstructionisim, willfull ignorance, and have actively engaged in anti-science propoganda to garner serious financial benifits for a select few at the expense of everyone else. Here in Australia our weather has been so bizzare this year even the prime minister has started back peddling as fast as he can, alas the US Administration still seems to be "caught in the headlights".

    IMHO all countries should operate under the same rules for carbon emmissions and the vast majority of corporations are looking to government to set up "the rules" so that they can invest in 30yr energy projects with some degree certainty about their future ROI. Developed countries alone are responsible for what is occuring now and what will occur over next 50yrs or so due to the time lag in the climates reation. It is not only our moral responsibility but it is also in our long term self intrests to compensate nations such as China and India with the technology and resources required for them to "leap frog" fossil fuel technology and I applaud the publicly stated aims of the US/India/Australia deal to supply nuclear fuel to "leap frog" India's energy infrastructure into the 21st century.

    China is said to be bringing one "city sized" coal fired plant online every three weeks, the sooner every nation in the global energy bussiness sits down at the table in good faith and agrees on a scientifically based plan of action the better. To do otherwise will just continue the exponetial growth in what is otherwise known as "the tradgedy of the commons".
  • Re:Ever? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dystopian Rebel (714995) * on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @09:58AM (#17539318) Journal
    Your argument is that our data are statistically insignificant. Your general position, I assume, is that people should be rational and not panic. I agree with the latter but the former is a flawed argument.

    Much of the planet's 4 billion years has been spent in a slow process of stabilization. Complex life is relatively recent (and therefore, you would say, "statistically insignificant"). Human existence is even less statistically significant among all life. However, the conditions for human life have been favourable during this "statistically insignificant" period. So it ~is~ a reasonable inquiry to analyze this period and conclude that something is changing in what we can prove has been relatively constant for us and other creatures.

    Since I doubt that you breathe car exhaust and eat plastics, I assume you understand the threat to the environment and biodiversity that 6-8-10 billion humans represent, that the collapse of the food chain is no fantasy, and that man-made pollutants have permeated the biosphere.

    There are several points of interdependency between living things and climate. We are affecting both in ways that must be evident to people who give themselves the trouble to think, observe, and read. It is reasonable to conclude that human activity is at least a significant contributing factor in any remarkable change, because our impact on the environment has been significant.

    There are planetary processes that we cannot control. But we are affecting things that affect planetary processes.

  • by Khammurabi (962376) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @10:02AM (#17539364)
    This just shows that people don'r really understand what global warming means.
    Most people erroneously lump global warming together as both the cause and effect. More clearly stated, "Global Warming" is the term that aptly describes humanity as producing an inordinate amount of greenhouse gases, which in turn is allowing the earth to trap much more of the sun's rays and converting them into heat. Whereas "Global Climate Change" is the likely effect of this process.

    - Fact: Humanity is producing a considerable amount of greenhouse gases.
    - Fact: Greenhouse gases cause more sunlight to be converted into heat.

    Here is where the discussion usually breaks down into fisticuffs. We do know that this unnatural stress on the environment (global warming) will cause the global climate to change. However, we do NOT know exactly what will happen in response to this stress. In the past, global warming was a gradual process, as flora and fauna produce greenhouse gases naturally at a much reduced rate. This time the stress is acute, and we have no real past historical basis to predict what will happen.

    Personally, I'm with the scientists on this one. (That this is most likely a "bad thing".) Earth has a nasty habit of responding with mass extinctions whenever it gets hit with something big and bad. However, there is a slim possibility that the earth will just "get warmer", which is not entirely a bad thing, but would make dwindling fresh water supplies a real cause for war and conflict.

    So to sum up, "global warming" will most likely cause "global climate change". However, we don't know what exactly will change, but it's likely it'll be bad for us.
  • by E++99 (880734) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @10:09AM (#17539488) Homepage
    This is something to keep in mind with the current global warming debate. The evidence suggests that human burning of carbon fuels is a big part of the problem. A strong majority of Scientists across multiple disciplines are convinced we need to do something about it. But they could be wrong.

    Yes, but when scientists "across multiple disciplines" are all weighing in on what the right conclusion should be on a question of climate science, that's a pretty good indication that something other than science is going on.
  • Hard to argue (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PopeRatzo (965947) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @10:17AM (#17539598) Homepage Journal
    For years the Right in America tried to argue that there was no global warming. Finally, what was merely overwhelming research showing that there was indeed warming became impossible to argue, so now the Right tries to argue that "OK, there's global warming, but it's not our fault".

    People who are trying so hard to pretend that there is no harm at all in fouling our environment can no longer be taken seriously by the rest of us. We're trying to patiently explain to these knuckleheads that there has to be something done to turn around the damage we're doing to the environment, and while we're arguing, nothing is being done. China will soon (maybe a decade) have a bigger economy than ours and how are we supposed to tell them to back off from all the growth so we don't destroy our environment when we can't even get our own act together?

    The Right-Wing in America is being used by multinationals to stall on any sort of effort to change things, so for the foreseeable future, it's going to be more of the same. There's just no more time to waste trying to convince people who believe the Earth is 6000 years old and that Jesus is going to come any day now to take them home that we have to act to protect the world for our grandkids.

    I mean really: "What about the Martian icecaps?"?? Is that the latest Investors Business Daily meme to try to keep record profits flowing into the coffers of Shell?
  • by Simon la Grue (1021753) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @10:29AM (#17539770)
    Exactly. If my three year old intentionally spills a cup full of milk on the floor and then my two year old only spill a little, I am going to make them both clean it up equally to teach them not to spill their milk.
  • by cayenne8 (626475) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @10:30AM (#17539796) Homepage Journal
    "China is said to be bringing one "city sized" coal fired plant online every three weeks, the sooner every nation in the global energy bussiness sits down at the table in good faith and agrees on a scientifically based plan of action the better."

    Trouble is...this isn't just a happy world of cooperating peoples. It is made up of countries in competition for everything! Competition for land...resources...food....economic power. Until there is some kind of one world order (God forbid), this will be the way of things. If something, while good for the world at large, will be detrimental to a country economically, then, it won't be done.

    I don't personally see the 1st world countries willingly sacrificing their lifestyle and world position for the 'greater good'.

    No one claws their way to the top, just to willingly let go and slide back down, no matter what the cause....

  • by Gryle (933382) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @10:47AM (#17540100)
    Add a Dairy Queen, some damn fine margaritas, and a homeless drag queen that runs for mayor and you have a small taste of life in Austin, Texas.
  • by chewedtoothpick (564184) <chewedtoothpick@ ... m ['hot' in gap]> on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @10:57AM (#17540296)
    I apologize for the harsh bluntness of this following statement; but hopefully those included in that "Better us" will not include the hypocrites such as yourself.

    First of all the planet can easily sustain a populous double our current size, if people would just use the grey matter known as our brains that we have been greatly blessed with. There is plenty of arable and forest-able land left that we can continue to grow our overcrowded cities and support them. Sure, if everyone would just farm their own materials and become self-sufficient then the world would be a small fraction of our current population, but can you not imagine how inefficient AND how bad that would be for the human species?

    I hear so many of the far leftists say "stop breeding" and such mantra to that effect, but you are unquestionably the most promiscuous people there are. That is like saying that we should all stop eating, yet you continue to grow in girth at an alarming rate. By your own philosophies and beliefs, if you let nature do it's work unobstructed then it will balance itself. Especially those on the left push us farther and farther from this law of selection.

    It will be a very long time before we have discovered all of the species of the ocean, let alone consumed said species. Again, there are laws of selection that nature lives by, and if left alone all will balance out. This 'make everyone equal (financially) so they can all have the same lobster dinner' and such mentality of "you can't be better than me" goes so directly against the law of Natural Selection that even I (who convenes regularly with friends who are marine biologists and assure me otherwise) am starting to wonder the validity of the leftist "we are killing the ocean" propaganda.

    Foremost, for you specifically, or anyone who sees this post, to balk at consumerism - especially that of technology - is amongst the highest form of hypocrisies possible. Every employed person in the world is employed due to consumerism. Every successful individual, every technology every war and every medical advancement is due to consumerism either directly or indirectly. For anyone to say "stop consuming" is equivocal to saying "stop living" because consumption is the number-one basic instinct of all that exists.
  • by Goaway (82658) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @11:05AM (#17540444) Homepage
    And there are far more reputable scientists who are actually doing useful work on the problem instead of whining about it being too hard.
  • by ajs (35943) <ajsNO@SPAMajs.com> on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @11:19AM (#17540674) Homepage Journal
    I'm just covering my bases here. I seriously doubt that you trust junkscience over realclimate, but there are those who do.


    I trust neither, as they are both poltical organizations, and politics has had far too strong a hand in climate of late.

    What I find bothersome is that boilerplate arguments are had in lieu of actuall science because heaven forbid you should produce the "wrong results" and become controversial... that would end your career overnight.
  • by jackbird (721605) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @11:51AM (#17541286)
    The big "visible" difference between the 2000ish global warming and 1970ish global cooling?

    Better data collection, analysis, and collation from many more terrestrial and orbital observers?

    Better models and more powerful computers to run them on?

    30 years' more historical data and advancement in the state of the art?

  • by SnapShot (171582) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @12:03PM (#17541512)
    There is plenty of arable and forest-able land left that we can continue to grow our overcrowded cities and support them.


    I'm not going to go though a point-by-point on the parent comment, but I would like to respond to this assertion. We don't have as much arable land as you might think. There are three things working against us:

    1. A lot of what is considered arable land (and activly used as farmland) is irrigated though aquifers. These are non-replenishable in the scale of human life span. Once they are gone, they are gone.

    2. The best arable land is also where we want to live. People don't want to live in deserts or on mountaintops. They want to live in nice temparate plains. Farms become villages become towns become cities. Once that apple orchard becomes a Chevy Dealership parking lot it is never going to be used to produce food again.

    3. Finally, climate change (irregardless of whether it is man-made or not) is going to shift arable land around; and it is much easier to "desertify" areable land than it is to "reclaim" desert. Good soil comes from a build up of organic waste. A desert that suddenly starts getting rainfall is going to take many years and a lot of hard work and fertilization to become usable farm land.
  • by thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) <marc.paradise@gma i l . c om> on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @12:26PM (#17542074) Homepage Journal

    A critical fact in Al Gore's film: after compiling the results of 1,100 serious scientific papers about GW not one suggests that it is anything but man's fault. The percentage of journalistic articles suggesting that it may not be man's fault: 53%.
    So what you're saying is that in Gore's film, they hand-selected 1100 serious scientific papers to support their point?
  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @12:43PM (#17542368)

    First of all the planet can easily sustain a populous double our current size, if people would just use the grey matter known as our brains that we have been greatly blessed with.

    Of course we can, we just have to be more efficient and cooperative and/orreduce our quality of living. But, since that isn't happening because people like you revile the concept of cooperation claiming it is opposed to natural selection, expect to be naturally selected and removed from the populace or have your quality of living greatly reduced.

    I hear so many of the far leftists say "stop breeding" and such mantra to that effect...

    "Leftists? Left and right are artificial political assignations used to oversimplify politics so it can be superficially reported to people with below average IQs. Trying to imply that those assigned to the left end of the spectrum think others should stop breeding is a big stretch. It sounds a lot more like you're looking to vilify a group, out of mental laziness.

    ...but you are unquestionably the most promiscuous people there are.

    Umm, I don't think you are properly using the word "unquestionably." Promiscuity has a strong positive relationship with poverty, low education rates, and adherence to particular religions including catholicism and some protestant sects. Those traits have a negative correlation with members of political groups generally assigned to the "left." I'd say it is more than questionable. Just as a side note, calling groups "hypocritical is meaningful only if you can demonstrate that contradictory actions are those of an individual, or large number of individuals. If half of the people in a town publicly claim guns are evil and half are gun owners the town is not hypocritical.

    It will be a very long time before we have discovered all of the species of the ocean, let alone consumed said species.

    Perhaps you're misunderstanding the meaning of "sustainable." It means live in such a way that our supplies will not run out in the foreseeable future. If we're gradually reducing the number of species by consuming them, we're not behaving in a sustainable manner.

    Again, there are laws of selection that nature lives by, and if left alone all will balance out.

    This is a weak cop out. It is simply a denial of responsibility. "Nature" will take care of things. It is true, but the way it takes care of things might be to eliminate our species or kill off large portion in a slow and painful way, like starvation. One of the defining traits of humanity is intelligence. Thus we define goals and then logically address how best to achieve those goals. Depending upon your definitions that may or may not be "natural."

    This 'make everyone equal (financially) so they can all have the same lobster dinner' and such mentality...

    Wow, way to cram a lot of logical fallacies into a small amount of words. Argument by association is where you assume people that hold one view must hold another (worried about global warming means you must favor extreme socialism) and then you argue against the second point without ever addressing the first point. This is wrong because people don't all hold the same sets of opinions and because even if the second opinion is wrong, it does not mean the first one is.

    ...even I (who convenes regularly with friends who are marine biologists and assure me otherwise) am starting to wonder the validity of the leftist "we are killing the ocean" propaganda.

    The "left" is a nebulous assignation. By definition it cannot crete propaganda. More importantly, propaganda requires a deceitful motivation. What is the motivation of marine biologists and fishing organizations around the world to misstate the facts about fishing harvest sizes. How come most of the fish I can now buy in the supermarket was considered to be "junk" 50 years ago and not suitable for people to eat since other types were plentiful and better? Is i

  • by MyNymWasTaken (879908) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @01:35PM (#17543290)
    We don't know *anything* with a 100% certainty. However, it is better to base decisions off all available facts rather than "what if"s.

    You can't infer any correlation [...] with the limited dataset provided above.

    Exactly. So let's fill out the known facts in that situation.
    Planetary Fact Sheet [nasa.gov]

    Venus
    • CO2 by volume: 96.5% (965,000ppm)
    • Surface Pressure: 92 Bars
    • Distance from Sun: 108.2 million km
    • Average temperature: 464C
    Earth
    • Distance from Sun: 149.6 million km
    • Surface Pressure: 1 Bar
    • CO2 by volume: 350ppm
    • Average temperature: 15C
    Mars
    • Distance from Sun: 227.9 million km
    • Surface Pressure: 0.01 Bars
    • CO2 by volume: 95.32% (953,200ppm)
    • Average temperature: -63C (yes, minus)

    Given those facts, it is very easy to come to substantiated conclusions about CO2's effect, as well as solar intensity's effect, on temperature.

    My point is that there are more factors affecting temperature than the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.

    Your point was made by ignoring key facts and going "well, gee... what if?"
  • by Coryoth (254751) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @01:38PM (#17543354) Homepage Journal
    A few points worth discussing:

    Larger shifts in CO2 and temp have occurred historically, and just as quickly, long before humans showed up.

    I would be interested to know how you justify that claim. We do have decent historical carbon dioxide records via ice cores, and temperature proxies, but the high resolution short term data doesn't support your claim at all, and the longer term data which does, at least, provide significant changes in carbon dioxide and temperature are simply of far too poor a resolution to make any claims about "just as quickly": ice core co2 records that cover previous interglacial periods have resolution of around 500 years; moreover they don't show changes in carbon dioxide as large as what we are currently witnessing; records that go further back to periods with significantly higher carbon dioxide levels have resolution that is orders of magnitude worse.

    Is the result of climate warming bad? NOBODY seems to know, although we managed to live quite successfully at lower tech levels and higher temps at regular periods in our history.

    When mankind lived through previous changes in glacial/interglacial change the rate of change was more than likely slower. More significantly the lower technology levels of the time (and, equally importantly, lower populations) likely actually helped: humans were sparsely spread and nomadic - if climate changed then groups ould easily move to new areas. What we face now is a far denser population where any movement of significant percentages of population with have dramatic effects, and significant amounts of investment in fixed non-moile infrastructure. We can't just pick up and move all our farming infrastructure somewhere else at the drop of a hat - any transition would be costly and significant. Ultimately if you want an accounting of costs then ask an economist. The UK government did, and the result is the Stern Review [hm-treasury.gov.uk] from Nicholas Stern, a world respected economist. By his accounting (and it was an extremely detailed and in depth study - some 700 pages of report) the effects will be detrimental. Expect more such reports from other economists in the near future.

    Can the human activity be changed such that the effect is altered, and what is the opportunity cost for doing so? [This is] really [what is] under argument. Environmentalists stamping their sandal-clad feet and crying that "we have to" is unpersuasive. And a report claiming that global warming is going to cost X is (nearly) meaningless unless it's compared to the Y cost of mitigation.

    At this point I would again direct you to the Stern Review [hm-treasury.gov.uk] which is specifically what you ask for: an accounting of the costs of both inaction, and a comparison of those costs with an equally detailed accounting of the costs of mitigation. The results were that, providing mitigation action was taken sooner rather than later, the costs of mitigation efforts would more than repay themselves within 50 years. Indeed, costs of mitigation could amount to around 1% of global GDP if taken now, while inaction was expected to cost between 5% and 20% of global GDP by 2050. And just to reiterate: this was a detailed report from a respected economist (former chief economist for the World Bank), not a bunch of "sandal clad hippies".
  • by BumBiscuit (744070) on Wednesday January 10, 2007 @05:01PM (#17547154)
    Interesting. So that brings our data set from .00000327% of the Earth's estimated age all the way up to .00000778%?

    All right. Now I'm convinced.

Old programmers never die, they just branch to a new address.

Working...