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Scientists Threatened For "Climate Denial" 1165

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the marching-to-the-beat-of-a-different-thermometer dept.
Forrest Kyle writes "A former professor of climatology at the University of Winnipeg has received multiple death threats for questioning the extent to which human activities are driving global warming. '"Western governments have pumped billions of dollars into careers and institutes and they feel threatened," said the professor. "I can tolerate being called a skeptic because all scientists should be skeptics, but then they started calling us deniers, with all the connotations of the Holocaust. That is an obscenity. It has got really nasty and personal." Richard Lindzen, the professor of Atmospheric Science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology [...] recently claimed: "Scientists who dissent from the alarmism have seen their funds disappear, their work derided, and themselves labelled as industry stooges. Consequently, lies about climate change gain credence even when they fly in the face of the science."'"
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Scientists Threatened For "Climate Denial"

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  • by andy314159pi (787550) on Monday March 12, 2007 @01:13PM (#18318387) Journal
    Stop with the " global warming is a political agenda driven conclusion" crapola like this. It's totally unacceptable. The mechanism for carbon dioxide IR trapping has been known since 1935 and it's not up for debate.
  • by Seoulstriker (748895) on Monday March 12, 2007 @01:14PM (#18318407)
    Check out the wikipedia article about begging the question [wikipedia.org].
  • Re:I Don't Buy It (Score:3, Informative)

    by Sciros (986030) on Monday March 12, 2007 @01:24PM (#18318579) Journal
    Well, when you mention polar bears and ice caps on mountains, etc., it seems like that's a whole other topic altogether. The scientific community isn't saying that global warming isn't happening; they're just not agreeing about how it is being caused. While it [sort of] correlates to CO2 concentration in the atmosphere, it correlates to other things as well. On top of that, ocean current changes (which can have an effect on climate), as well as other phenomena, are not fully explored or understood and may well be responsible as well. That is, there are many postulations and theories about what's causing global warming and there is no super ninja conclusive evidence for one over the others. Our climate models are simply not that good.

    I'm not defending this particular scientist's ideas; I am not familiar with them. But I do agree that there's just as much money to be made on the Green side of the fence as on the Exxon-Mobil side (or whatever). So like you, I want to question everything and I appreciate that this scientist at least inspires that tendency.
  • by dylan_- (1661) on Monday March 12, 2007 @01:27PM (#18318629) Homepage
    These guys are back public eye because they recently appeared in a UK Channel4 documentary called "The Great Global Warming Swindle". Basically a rehash of all the outdated silly arguments you've heard a thousand times before. You can read the RealClimate response here [realclimate.org] if you like.

    But that's pretty boring, science type stuff. What's much more fun is watching the right-wing contingent defending this piece of crap, proclaiming its truth and accuracy, when the film was produced by members of the Revolutionary Communist Party! Regular contributors to the RCP's journal, "Living Marxism" no less.

    What an interesting meeting of minds.
  • by slashkitty (21637) on Monday March 12, 2007 @01:35PM (#18318781) Homepage
    http://skepdic.com/begging.html [skepdic.com]

    You have no idea what begging the question means. You're welcome to ask other questions though.

  • by HappySqurriel (1010623) on Monday March 12, 2007 @01:37PM (#18318833)
    http://www.boston.com/news/science/articles/2006/0 8/30/mits_inconvenient_scientist/ [boston.com]

    Indeed. I attended a week's worth of lectures on global warming at the Chautauqua Institution last month. Al Gore delivered the kickoff lecture, and, 10 years later, he reiterated Schneider's directive. There is no science on the other side, Gore inveighed, more than once. Again, the same message: If you hear tales of doubt, ignore them. They are simply untrue.

    I ask you: Are these convincing arguments? And directed at journalists, who are natural questioners and skeptics, of all people? What happens when you are told not to eat the apple, not to read that book, not to date that girl? Your interest is piqued, of course. What am I not supposed to know?

    Here's the kind of information the "scientific consensus" types don't want you to read. MIT's Alfred P. Sloan professor of meteorology Richard Lindzen recently complained about the "shrill alarmism" of Gore's movie "An Inconvenient Truth." Lindzen acknowledges that global warming is real, and he acknowledges that increased carbon emissions might be causing the warming -- but they also might not.

    "We do not understand the natural internal variability of climate change" is one of Lindzen's many heresies, along with such zingers as "the Arctic was as warm or warmer in 1940," "the evidence so far suggests that the Greenland ice sheet is actually growing on average," and `"Alpine glaciers have been retreating since the early 19th century, and were advancing for several centuries before that. Since about 1970, many of the glaciers have stopped retreating and some are now advancing again. And, frankly, we don't know why."

    While vacationing in Canada, I spotted a newspaper story that I hadn't seen in the United States. For no apparent reason, the state of California, Environmental Defense, and the Natural Resources Defense Council have dragged Lindzen and about 15 other global- warming skeptics into a lawsuit over auto- emissions standards. California et al . have asked the auto companies to cough up any and all communications they have had with Lindzen and his colleagues, whose research has been cited in court documents.

    "We know that General Motors has been paying for this fake science exactly as the tobacco companies did," says ED attorney Jim Marston. If Marston has a scintilla of evidence that Lindzen has been trafficking in fake science, he should present it to the MIT provost's office. Otherwise, he should shut up.

    "This is the criminalization of opposition to global warming," says Lindzen, who adds he has never communicated with the auto companies involved in the lawsuit. Of course Lindzen isn't a fake scientist, he's an inconvenient scientist. No wonder you're not supposed to listen to him.

    Inspite of what you may believe, there is a politicaly motivated movement to ensure that scientists that do not agree with the Global Warming Consensus are not heard ...

    How about you ask some of these people about whether there is not political agenda:

    Dr. Christopher Landsea:
    Leading expert in the field of hurricanes and tropical storms.
    National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory

    - resigned as an author of the IPCC 2007 report, released earlier this month stating the IPCC was "motivated by pre-conceived agendas" and was "scientifically unsound."
    - wrote a lengthy and detailed open letter to his scientific colleagues explaining why he was withdrawing from helping to author the report.
    - "I am withdrawing because I have come to view the part of the IPCC to which my expertise is relevant as having become politicized." - "In addition, when I have raised my concerns to the IPCC leadership, their response was simply to dismiss my concer

  • Story is BS (Score:2, Informative)

    by klahnako (209184) on Monday March 12, 2007 @01:42PM (#18318961) Homepage
    It is a BS story by a small group of Bush lovers up here in Canada. The "professor" has a PHD in geography, not climate science, and has written no papers on the topic of climate.

    http://canadiancynic.blogspot.com/2007/03/ejankula tor-strikes-again.html [blogspot.com]
  • Re:Believe it. (Score:5, Informative)

    by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland.yahoo@com> on Monday March 12, 2007 @01:53PM (#18319181) Homepage Journal
    Yes, and if if people on slashdot starting saying the earth was actually a giant cube, they owuld have the same results.

    Before throwing your hat in with this guy, you might want to research his motivations.
    Also, he is a geographer, not a climatologist. Has written zero papers on climatology, has no experience in climatology.

    SUpposing he actually got death threats, it isn't suprising, because tere are stupid people in every 'group' an dit is a shame. it is wrong, and I hope they get the person who wrote them. That in know way is an arguement against or for global warming.

    "Their science is sound, and after doing my due-diligence I agree with them. I will not be shouted down by eco-religious fanatics or ideological thugs, and neither will these scientists."
    actually it is not, and also MOST scientists agree that humans have impacted the enviroment and are a major contributer to global climate change.

    However, I offer some proof.
    China does not want there to be global warming, they want to have the same things the Western worlds has. With all ther political might, the best influance they had on the paper was some minor down grade in the language. This speaks volumes. If there was any strong scientific support against global warming China would have brought it up.

    You go ahead and bury your head in the sand; where you can make yourself believe the humans haven't impact their enviroment at all.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 12, 2007 @01:53PM (#18319185)

    While I am concerned about the future of our planet and our species' place upon it, I am growing increasingly sceptical of the wild claims surrounding a looming global warming catastrophe.

    My main area of surprise and shock was learning that past concentrations of carbon dioxide were much higher than they are today, as revealed in the interview below:

    RES: Professor Robert E. Sloan, Department of Geology, University of Minnesota [ucl.ac.uk]
    JC: Dr Joe Cain, interviewer

    We are talking about carbon dioxide levels 6 to 10 times the present carbon dioxide level. When you have high amounts of carbon dioxide in an atmosphere up to a certain limit, which is considerably higher than it is now, the result is green plants grow very much better... And it is precisely at this time that the recovery from the first dinosaur extinction takes place. When the super plumes come and carbon dioxide increases, and the oxygen correspondingly increases as a result of photosynthesis... And yet the super plumes did not last forever and they started to die at the end of Cretaceous.... In any event, large dinosaurs really required to be living in an oxygen tent. An atmosphere in the neighborhood of 35 percent oxygen would be considerably more compatible with large dinosaurs than one in the neighborhood of 28. And so this suggested to me that this was perhaps a significant reason for the first dinosaur extinction, and probably one of the major factors in the second, the terminal dinosaur extinction, other than the birds. It also neatly tied together all of the really bizarre features about the Cretaceous... The Cretaceous is clearly a green house period as opposed to the present ice house that we have... Well, the rich carbon dioxide of course provides for a much greater biogenic diversity.

    I have come to learn that these past carbon dioxide concentrations have been documented in peer-reviewed research journals [harvard.edu]:

    We find that CO2 emissions resulting from super-plume tectonics could have produced atmospheric CO2 levels from 3.7 to 14.7 times the modern pre-industrial value of 285 ppm.

    My interest in past CO2 concentrations began by reading a (somewhat) more partisan [americanthinker.com] summary of this information:

    When dinosaurs walked the earth (about 70 to 130 million years ago), there was from five to ten times more CO2 in the atmosphere than today. The resulting abundant plant life allowed the huge creatures to thrive. . . . Based on nearly 800 scientific observations around the world, a doubling of CO2 from present levels would improve plant productivity on average by 32 percent across species.

    I have also seen a great rejection [canada.com] of the global warming panic in the scientific community (it is unlikely that "big oil" funds have "bribed" so many faculty members of such prestigous universities):

    Sixty scientists call on Harper to revisit the science of global warming... If, back in the mid-1990s, we knew what we know today about climate, Kyoto would almost certainly not exist, because we would have concluded it was not necessary.

    And I have also seen a growing political backlash [cnsnews.com] against scientifically-unfounded runaway global warming panic:

    Politicians who build campaigns around "alarmist" global warming claims are themselves becoming quite alarmed because of growing skepticism, Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) said.

    When I see interviews such as

  • Re:I Don't Buy It (Score:5, Informative)

    by SirTalon42 (751509) on Monday March 12, 2007 @01:57PM (#18319243)
    Your article was from 2005, through 2006 there was far more evidence showing Mars was warming (including reports from NASA and other groups saying exactly that).
  • Re:I Don't Buy It (Score:5, Informative)

    by TopherC (412335) on Monday March 12, 2007 @02:05PM (#18319377)
    The public have a disturbing lack of understanding of the scientific process. Yes, climate change is a hot issue, and rightly so! It takes an extraordinary level of public awareness of global warming just to push against a government that is normally driven by corporate interest. In many other fields, the government has demonstrated incredibly poor management of scientific programs, and also a complete disregard of scientific rationale when it comes to policy-making.

    Now that the stakes are so high, the public simply has to get involved. That presents a new difficulty for the scientists. The scientific process is that of constant questioning and evaluation. One has to be as objective as possible, exploring different sides of an argument, and so on. To attack a scientist for their professional opinion in their own field is to attack the scientific process. But the result of this process (which when you look at forefront research may seem chaotic and governed by sociology more than science) is firm conclusions that have withstood the storms of controversy.

    Another aspect of science that needs to be understood are the various relationships between theory and experiment. With global warming, I think this translates into climate models and the search for evidence of warming. I'm not aware of *any* climate models that deny any correlation between greenhouse gases and global temperatures. And I even suspect that all reasonable climate models give (within an order of magnitude) the same level of warming. The leading-edge global climate research is concerned with one aspect or another of *evidence* for climate change that's already occurred.

    What level of evidence do we require before we change our behavior and set new policies? Does any climate scientist feel that we can continue increasing the levels of CO2 without any serious consequences? I don't think so. Do I think that if I bite a cyanide capsule then I will die? Well, I haven't tried it so I guess I don't know for certain. But there is a well-established theory which strongly suggests cyanide will be fatal to me. I don't know how fast it would kill me, but it would most likely take much less than a day. Do I have enough information on this to decide on a policy of, say, not leaving such capsules lying around the house for my kids to discover? Of course I do! Now, this isn't a perfect analogy since there are many people, some of whom have performed this "experiment" already. But there's only one planet Earth. But even so, even the most simplistic models of the Earth's climate force us to conclude that we're hurtling toward catastrophic climate change.
  • Re:He's not alone (Score:5, Informative)

    by LionMage (318500) on Monday March 12, 2007 @02:11PM (#18319509) Homepage
    Kind of interesting that "The Great Global Warming Swindle" gets mentioned a lot in the comments on this article. So I might as well mention the RealClimate debunking [realclimate.org] of this documentary (mentioned briefly in another comment thread).
  • by Colin Smith (2679) on Monday March 12, 2007 @02:18PM (#18319633)
    Loads of climatologists said it was mostly down to the sun. It's on Youtube.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6IPHmJWmDk [youtube.com]

     
  • Re:He's not alone (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 12, 2007 @02:26PM (#18319819)
    The show's a big piece of crap by a guy who's notorious for his anti-environmentalist screeds. How Channel 4 were convinced to air it is a mystery. One of the scientists used, Carl Wunsch of MIT, has already blasted the filmmakers for how they systematically misrepresented their project, and then selectively and misleadingly used interviews with him to bolster arguments he categorically rejects. Same strategy as creationists and other conspiracy theorists.

    See http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2007 /03/swindled-carl-wunsch-responds/ [realclimate.org]

  • by SirTalon42 (751509) on Monday March 12, 2007 @02:35PM (#18319959)
    You do realize realclimate.org is owned by Environmental Media Services which is owned by a Fenton Communications which is an advertising company?
  • by Ambitwistor (1041236) on Monday March 12, 2007 @02:38PM (#18320043)

    Assumption 1: Solar radiation has remained constant OR warming cannot be completely explained
    by changes in solar radiation
    Warming cannot be completely explained by changes in solar radiation. Solar variations contribute, but not by much. See Figure SPM-2 of the 2007 IPCC FAR SPM report, as well as the 2006 review article by Foukal et al. in Nature.

    Assumption 2: Atmospheric water content has remained constant or warming cannot be completely explained by changes in atmospheric water content.
    Warming cannot be completely explained by changes in atmospheric water content. In fact, atmospheric water content is largely determined by temperature: if there is warming, more water will evaporate and enhance the amount of warming (the climate sensitivity), but it doesn't cause a warming trend in the first place because of how quickly it equilibrates (in climatology jargon, water vapor is not a "forcing", it is a "feedback"). (See here [realclimate.org].)

    Assumption 3: Ditto for methane
    Warming cannot be completely explained by changes in atmospheric methane. Methane contributes, but not as much as CO2. Furthermore, much of the increase in methane from pre-industrial times is also due to human activity, particularly pollution, animal husbandry, and land use changes.

    Assumption 4: Bulk of increased CO2 level cannot be accounted for by natural CO2 releases
    Easily demonstrated, as the CO2 generated by fossil fuel burning has a unique isotopic signature: we know directly that most of the increased CO2 is from fossil fuels. See here [realclimate.org].

    Once the assumptions are dealt with, we must also show that why temperature increases on other planets and temperature changes during the Medieval Warm Period and Little Ice Age are irrelevant.
    Other planets: see e.g. this post [slashdot.org].

    LIA and MWP: the reasons for the climate change in those periods are different from the conditions today. The LIA is attributed mostly to greater volcanic activity and less solar activity than today. The MWP is at least partially attributable to an increase in solar activity. The increase in solar activity in modern times, however, is not large enough to account for the recent warming (see above).

    So yes, CO2 aborbs IR. But no, the case is not closed.
    The case is far closer to closed than you apparently believe.

    Note, in particular, that the timing, rate, and magnitude of the global warming agrees well with corresponding changes in CO2, and that all climate models fail dramatically at reproducing the global warming if you leave out anthropogenic forcings — far more so than if you leave out other forcings instead, particularly when it comes to the climate over the last 40 years. Human activity has become the dominant effect upon global mean temperatures.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 12, 2007 @03:11PM (#18320671)
    How about Dr. John Christy @ University of Alabama in Huntsville?

    Since November 1978, the Arctic atmosphere has warmed at a rate that is more than seven times faster than the average warming trend over the southern two-thirds of the globe.

    "It just doesn't look like global warming is very global," said Dr. John Christy, director of UAH's Earth System Science Center. "Obviously some part of the warming we've observed in the atmosphere over the past 27 years is due to enhanced greenhouse gases. Simple physics tells you that.

    "But even if you acknowledge the effects of greenhouse gases, when you look at this pattern of warming you have to say there must also be something else at work here.

    "The carbon dioxide from fossil fuels is distributed pretty evenly around the globe and not concentrated in the Arctic, so it doesn't look like we can blame greenhouse gases for the overwhelming bulk of the Northern Hemisphere warming over the past 27 years. The most likely suspect for that is a natural climate change or cycle that we didn't expect or just don't understand."
    You can read a portion of this yourself at this link [uah.edu]
  • Re:I Don't Buy It (Score:2, Informative)

    by Profane MuthaFucka (574406) <busheatskok@gmail.com> on Monday March 12, 2007 @03:18PM (#18320799) Homepage Journal
    The stakes are that we have a range of outcomes, which is narrowing. The worst outcomes are truly dreadful, and the best outcomes are just really bad.

    Worst: temperature rises by 30 degrees. That would kill the trees, most people, and force abandonment of most of the globe. We'd be living and fighting around the artic circle with the other 100 million humans left for food and energy. Good thing Canada is such a pushover. The Chinese and the Russians are going to have much more interesting lives as they fight for land in the artic.

    Best: Do you live in Boston? Why not move to Atlanta Don't have time to move to Atlanta? Not to worry, you can retire in a similar climate without having to leave your house.
  • I'm not being sanctimonious, but I'm not going to waste my time watching some infomercial. Have you watched "An Inconvenient Truth" yet or are you too sanctimonious?

    I already know that Steve McIntyre and Dr. Ross McKitrick are not climatologists. Are any of them?

    Prof. Tim Patterson: Geologist
    Prof. Edward J Wegman: Statistician
    Prof. Bob Carter: Marine Geophysicist
    Dr. Willie Soon: Astrophysicist
    Dr. Madhya Khandekar: ???
    Prof. Wibjorn Karlen: Paleoclimatologist
    Dr. Henrik Svensmark: Physicist
    Dr. Dick Morgan: Law Professor?
    Dr. Fred Goldberg: Physicist
    Hans H.J. Labohm: Economist
    Steve McIntyre: Mineralogist
    Dr. Ross McKitrick: Economist
    Dr. Chris Landsea: Meteorologist

    OK. So I've had to do a lot of work to get one name. Prof. Karlen is a climatologist. So, what was his contribution? If I do a Scirus search [scirus.com], I don't find much, but perhaps I'm not searching on the right terms. He wrote a paper in 1973 on Holocene climatic variations and another in 2000 on high-altitude fresh waters.

    Ahah. I did another Scirus search [scirus.com] and found this article [nih.gov]. Unfortunately, there doesn't appear to be anything there. I really wish I knew what he had written as every other article I can find only deals with the holocene. Although the title is suggestive, it wouldn't be the first time that what one would infer from a title did not agree with the conclusions.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 12, 2007 @03:25PM (#18320951)
    This letter is from Carl Wunsch, who appeared in this program, to the producer. I haven't got explicit permission to repost it here personally, but I grabbed it off another public forum where it was posted with permission:

    Mr. Steven Green
    Head of Production
    Wag TV
    2D Leroy House
    436 Essex Road
    London N1 3QP

    10 March 2007

    Dear Mr. Green:

    I am writing to record what I told you on the telephone yesterday about
    your Channel 4 film "The Global Warming Swindle." Fundamentally,
    I am the one who was swindled---please read the email below that
    was sent to me (and re-sent by you). Based upon this email and
    subsequent telephone conversations, and discussions with
    the Director, Martin Durkin, I thought I was being asked
    to appear in a film that would discuss in a balanced way
    the complicated elements of understanding of climate change---
    in the best traditions of British television. Is there any indication
    in the email evident to an outsider that the product would be
    so tendentious, so unbalanced?

    I was approached, as explained to me on the telephone, because
    I was known to have been unhappy with some of the more excitable
    climate-change stories in the
    British media, most conspicuously the notion that the Gulf
    Stream could disappear, among others.
    When a journalist approaches me suggesting a "critical approach" to a
    technical subject, as the email states, my inference is that we
    are to discuss which elements are contentious, why they are contentious,
    and what the arguments are on all sides. To a scientist, "critical" does
    not mean a hatchet job---it means a thorough-going examination of
    the science. The scientific subjects described in the email,
    and in the previous and subsequent telephone conversations, are complicated,
    worthy of exploration, debate, and an educational effort with the
    public. Hence my willingness to participate. Had the words "polemic", or
    "swindle" appeared in these preliminary discussions, I would have
    instantly declined to be involved.

    I spent hours in the interview describing
    many of the problems of understanding the ocean in climate change,
    and the ways in which some of the more dramatic elements get
    exaggerated in the media relative to more realistic, potentially
    truly catastrophic issues, such as
    the implications of the oncoming sea level rise. As I made clear, both in the
    preliminary discussions, and in the interview itself, I believe that
    global warming is a very serious threat that needs equally serious
    discussion and no one seeing this film could possibly deduce that.

    What we now have is an out-and-out propaganda piece, in which
    there is not even a gesture toward balance or explanation of why
    many of the extended inferences drawn in the film are not widely
    accepted by the scientific community. There are so many examples,
    it's hard to know where to begin, so I will cite only one:
    a speaker asserts, as is true, that carbon dioxide is only
    a small fraction of the atmospheric mass. The viewer is left to
    infer that means it couldn't really matter. But even a beginning
    meteorology student could tell you that the relative masses of gases
    are irrelevant to their effects on radiative balance. A director
    not intending to produce pure propaganda would have tried to eliminate that
    piece of disinformation.

    An example where my own discussion was grossly distorted by context:
    I am shown explaining that a warming ocean could expel more
    carbon dioxide than it absorbs -- thus exacerbating the greenhouse
    gas buildup in the atmosphere and hence worrisome. It
    was used in the film, through its context, to imply
    that CO2 is all natural, coming from the ocean, and that
    therefore the human element is irrelevant. This use of my remarks, which
    are literally what I said, comes close to fraud.

    I have some experience in dealing with TV and print reporters
    and do understand something of the ways in whi
  • by jnaujok (804613) on Monday March 12, 2007 @03:26PM (#18320969) Homepage Journal
    The sad part is that you believe what you wrote.

    Man-made CO2 represents 4% of the annual output of CO2 on the planet. 96% of all CO2 is generated by natural causes.

    The Earth has gone through more massive changes in it's history than you seem to be capable of conceiving. CO2 levels have been as high as 7000ppm in the past. Yes, we have a bunch of arctic ice cores that may indicate CO2 levels have been mostly invariable in the past, but, as one PhD Chemist I know pointed out, "All that may be measuring is the level of CO2 dissolution in water at 0 degrees C." In other words, CO2 in ice is more likely to be the function of how well CO2 dissolves into ice water than any other mechanism like atmospheric density.

    I'm not saying that there aren't some signs of warming, but I am highly skeptical of the supposed disastrous consequences.

    Sea levels are "noticeably rising"? Not according to the 1841 sea level marking in Tasmania found here [john-daly.com]. Even the IPCC only claims a maximum of 15 millimeters [grida.no] over the 6000 year average. If you can see 2/3rds of an inch difference, more power to you, but calling it "Noticeably Rising" is a vast overstatement. The 2007 IPCC report is claiming a maximum rise of about 18 inches, or about the same as during the Medieval Climate Optimum. Al Gore is claiming 20 feet, but he also claims to have created the Internet...

    Weather, overall, is not getting worse. The 1930's saw worse hurricanes then even the 2005 season. The difference being that now we can name storms 2,000 miles out to sea that never touch land, whereas, the 1930's used ships that passed storms in the ocean and very few storms were measured until land-fall. In fact, the largest hurricane (Typhoon Tip) occurred in 1979, in the midst of a "slow period". In 2005, the increase in Atlantic hurricanes was matched by a decrease in Pacific Typhoons (hurricanes), meaning that overall, the number barely increased. The link to storms and global warming is hotly debated. [mongabay.com]

    In fact, were anthropogenic global warming a reality, we'd find that storm severity would decrease because storms are driven by the heat engine effect, namely the flow of heat from the equator towards the poles. Global Warming, as predicted by the models and climate scientists, indicates that the majority of warming occurs at the upper latitudes, with the largest increases at the poles. This means that the gradient of temperature from equator to poles would be less, and thus, the storms would decrease in severity. In fact, this was the prediction published in several papers up until about 1999, when they suddenly reversed themselves.

    I could speculate that it was because they had seen a record storm year with the 1998 El Nino season, and they wanted to use the connection between strong storms and global warming to sell the science, but that would be a correlation vs. causation fallicy. Of course, in 2006, those same scientists predicted a "killer" Atlantic hurricane season, and not one single hurricane touched North American soil. (Yes, one storm was a hurricane when it approached Cuba, but by the time it made landfall it had been downgraded to a tropical storm.) Suddenly we were back to the climate scientists, and they actually said, "The reason we had so few hurricanes was because of global warming." So, now we have global warming if there's more hurricanes, global warming if there's less hurricanes, and, we must assume, global warming if there's no hurricanes. That's called non-falsifiable, and there's a name for its practice, but it's not science. The word is religion.

    Is the Earth warming up? Satellite measurements continue to show, at most, a mild and limited warming, mostly in the Northern Hemisphere, and mostly in the middle latitudes. Claiming that glaciers melting (which they are)
  • Re:I Don't Buy It (Score:3, Informative)

    by Stephan Schulz (948) <schulz@informatik.tu-muenchen.de> on Monday March 12, 2007 @03:44PM (#18321251) Homepage

    I know you pulled those figures out of your hat, but let's consider. If the cost of energy increases by 25%, that means the cost of everything increases by 10-25% (depending on what fraction of a widget is labor versus what fraction is materials). Everything.
    How do you arive at that quote? To go up 25% on a 25% energy increase, all of the cost of a product would have to be energy. But energy is actually very cheap in out society. The most expensive part of nearly everything is labour cost. Raw materials is another biggy, and, depending on how you calculate, refinancing of investments (factories, machines,...). I'd be suprised if even a doubling of energy prices would create even 5% inflation.
  • by Shadowlore (10860) on Monday March 12, 2007 @03:48PM (#18321325) Journal
    If they aren't, then rising CO2 probably isn't helping and should still be reversed, and we might also look into other solutions for it.

    As a scientists, it saddens me to see you make such a statement. IF C02 increases do not cause warming, then we should look to *increase* them. Why? It has been shown through hundreds of studies that plants perform better, produce more biomass, use less water when CO2 levels are increased. It has likewise been shown (again through actual physical experimentation) that decreasing CO2 levels leads to loss of plant life. Most any greenhouse grower can tell you of the difficulties in keeping enough CO2 present. Indeed, it has been experimentally (and theoretically) shown that increase CO2 concentration can turn marginal land into productive land. it is indisputable that increased CO2 concentration in our atmosphere means more plant life, which by the way means more life in general. It has been shown that more plants == more food == more animals.

    So, we have the two:
      More CO2 == good for plants
      More CO2 == higher temperatures (which to an extent is good for plants)

    If we consider for sake of discussion that B is a negative toward A, and B is determined to not be so, then we should further A.

    The fact is we have more vegetation now than we did a few decades ago. This is an undeniably good thing. More vegetation increases biodiversity. Biodiversity has been tied directly (in a causative sense) to the health of an ecology. The more diverse it ecology of an area is, the healthier and more resilient it is. Furthermore it can be shown that increased CO2 availability leads to increased life.

    1) Life as we know it is based on Carbon
    2) CO2 contains carbon
    3) Carbon sequestered miles or even hundreds of feet below ground is not available to be made into life
    4) Releasing carbon from it's sequestered locations below ground makes it more available to be turned into biological matter (life).

    Therefore, provided there are no harmful effects from CO2 increase that outweigh the positive effects, we should increase the CO2 level of our atmosphere. Given the size of our atmosphere and the process of life cycling carbon from CO2, if increased CO2 does NOT increase temperatures to a point where life is suffering a NET negative impact, we should seek to increase CO2 levels in the atmosphere.

    So if CO2 level increases do not have a net and biologically significant increase in temperatures (as in other effects such as increased plant growth 'sequestering', and other climatological effects counter the effect of CO2), and there are no other net negative effects we should strive to increase CO2 production.

    Now, before some of you go apoplectic (or more accurately continue to go apoplectic) at that comment, note that is not saying we should burn more oil. It means we should not be worrying about CO2 as a "pollutant", and turn our attention to things that are shown to be directly negative such as the various *zenes (such as benzene), or uranium (coal plant emissions). These items we have shown via experimentation to have detrimental effects on life. The burning of oil, among other sources, produces these. I still advocate a move from gasoline, just as I always have. GW has had no positive impact on this advocacy, and increasing or maintaining high CO2 production also bears no impact on it. One can advocate CO2 indifference while still advocating burning less and less gasoline.

  • by HoneyBeeSpace (724189) on Monday March 12, 2007 @04:07PM (#18321629) Homepage
    If you'd like to study climate change yourself, the EdGCM [columbia.edu] project has wrapped a NASA global climate model (GCM) in a GUI (OS X and Win). You can add CO2 or turn the sun down by a few percent all with a checkbox and a slider. Supercomputers and advanced FORTRAN programmers are no longer necessary to run your own GCM.

    Disclaimer: I'm the project developer.
  • Re:I Don't Buy It (Score:3, Informative)

    by syphax (189065) on Monday March 12, 2007 @04:08PM (#18321667) Journal

    In the US, natural gas is the #2 fossil fuel [doe.gov] for generating electricity, behind coal. Oil is used somewhat, but first went out of fashion after the OPEC thing in the 1970's. Oil now generates less than 3% of our electricity.

    As for natural gas, read this: [epa.gov]

    The average emissions rates in the United States from natural gas-fired generation are: 1135 lbs/MWh of carbon dioxide, 0.1 lbs/MWh of sulfur dioxide, and 1.7 lbs/MWh of nitrogen oxides. Compared to the average air emissions from coal-fired generation, natural gas produces half as much carbon dioxide, less than a third as much nitrogen oxides, and one percent as much sulfur oxides at the power plant. In addition, the process of extraction, treatment, and transport of the natural gas to the power plant generates additional emissions.


    Coal is cheap and abundant in the US (and China, and India...). Those are its advantages. Otherwise, it is an environmental nightmare, from mine to smokestack. If you fully internalize its costs, it might not appear so cheap.

    There are reasons for using coal for electricity. Cleanliness is not one of them. Putting the word "clean" in front of the word "coal" doesn't instantly make it so.

  • Re:I Don't Buy It (Score:4, Informative)

    by ajs (35943) <<moc.sja> <ta> <sja>> on Monday March 12, 2007 @04:10PM (#18321687) Homepage Journal

    Considering that it is still the case that solar intensity decreased slightly for most of the time that this warming took place, exactly what process do you think is at work on Mars that has any relevance at all to the Earth's climate?
    Do we need a model for the forcers in order to theorize their existence? It seems to me that we didn't have a model for global warming when we started theorizing its existence, and now that that theory is pretty solid, we're developing new, related theories. One observation is that Mars and Earth show similar warming trends... if they are, then there are some scenarios under which they are related. Could be increased magnetic field strength. Could be changes in the solar wind. Could be all sorts of things (keeping in mind that solar astrophysicists are VERY careful these days about saying anything that could involve them in a controversial debate about terrestrial temperature changes... whole institutions have seen their funding dry up over that sort of thing).

    What's important is that we have an observation that needs more investigation.
  • by aggiefalcon01 (730238) on Monday March 12, 2007 @04:11PM (#18321713)
    We're now seeing evidence of current climate change on several extra-terrestrial bodies:

    Mars (National Geographic [nationalgeographic.com]):

    "Habibullo Abdussamatov, head of the St. Petersburg's Pulkovo Astronomical Observatory in Russia, says the Mars data is evidence that the current global warming on Earth is being caused by changes in the sun."
    Pluto (MIT [mit.edu]):

    "the average surface temperature of the nitrogen ice on Pluto has increased slightly less than 2 degrees Celsius over the past 14 years."
    Note: Pluto is currently moving away from the Sun. That it is warming indicates that something doesn't fit into the "Solar Constant" dismissal theories.

    Jupiter (Space.com [space.com]):

    "The latest images could provide evidence that Jupiter is in the midst of a global change that can modify temperatures by as much as 10 degrees Fahrenheit on different parts of the globe."
    Triton (MIT [mit.edu]):

    "At least since 1989, Triton has been undergoing a period of global warming. Percentage-wise, it's a very large increase," said Elliot, professor of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences and director of the Wallace Astrophysical Observatory. The 5 percent increase on the absolute temperature scale from about minus-392 degrees Fahrenheit to about minus-389 degrees Fahrenheit would be like the Earth experiencing a jump of about 22 degrees Fahrenheit."
    Clearly, the oil industry must have infiltrated these august publications; or, these entities are all simply industry stooges. Because it cannot possibly be anything other than anthropogenic global warming is happening on Earth.
  • by guidryp (702488) on Monday March 12, 2007 @05:04PM (#18322487)
    Ball is a propagandist for "Natural Resources Stewardship Project", formerly for "Friends of Science". Both oxymoronically named groups, funded by carbon producing industry. They exist to lobby politicians and fund propaganda pieces. They don't exist to further extend knowledge.

    Anyone threatening this lobbyist is playing into his hands and is thus an idiot. If there were real threats, they should be turned over to law enforcement and those behind them should be charged. We should go back to ignoring Ball.

    Also skepticism is good. But most of these self identified "skeptics" are nothing more than propagandist who are clearly being disengenous much of the time, quoting the work of real scientist completely out of context in an attempt to fit the facts to the message they are paid to sell.

    Case in point is the "Climate Swindle" program that is mentiond in the original article, that misrepresented Carl Wunschs views:

    "
    In the part of the "Swindle" film where I am describing the fact that the ocean tends to expel carbon dioxide where it is warm, and to absorb it where it is cold, my intent was to explain that warming the ocean could be dangerous---because it is such a gigantic reservoir of carbon. By its placement in the film, it appears that I am saying that since carbon dioxide exists in the ocean in such large quantities, human influence must not be very important --- diametrically opposite to the point I was making --- which is that global warming is both real and threatening in many different ways, some unexpected.
    "

    Do emotions run high? Yes, because some of us are tired of being lied to by industry spin doctors. The issues here are important and we need real science to provide to most likely and realistic outcomes and best course of action. Paid lobbyist that are merely engaged in the process to inject a "Preach the controversy" message hard enough to ensure that no action gets taken are only a detriment.

    BTW these guy attack the issue from any angle they can come up with. Recently Balls organization published a piece indicating that we are on a global gooling cycle in recent years (using 1998 as a base comparison). Do I need to point out the issues with that claim? This is not science it is propaganda that routinely misrepresents fact.

    We shouldn't give this spin doctor any more attention and we shouldn't give him the label of skeptic which he certainly doesn't deserve. I imagine his favorite film is: "Thank you for smoking".
  • by Shadowlore (10860) on Monday March 12, 2007 @05:06PM (#18322509) Journal
    You honestly think that pumping tons of CO2 into the atmosphere has no effect?

    I'll assume you mean trillions or billions of tons. honestly pomping ten tons into the atmo of this planet has no effect on the planetary scale, no. Sure it does, do you honestly think it has one and only one effect, and that nothing else changes?

    We know for a fact that increased CO2 means highly increased plant growth. Plant growth ranges from a 50% increase to a 100% increase with a 600ppm CO2 concentration on the low end - and for some like pine trees 170% or more increase in biomass at only 400ppm CO2. Plants store CO2 (as we all do). More plant life means more animal life. All of which pulls CO2 from the atmosphere. Further, there are additional effects that are tropospheric that are happening that counteract CO2's "effect" on temperature.

    The question is what the *net* effect, if any, there is. If I piss in the ocean while swimming my local temperature will increase slightly for a short period of time, as will the salinity of my locale. But that doesn't mean the entire ocean suffers, or that my change is permanent or even long-term.

    To give you an idea of the scale we are talking about, in 2000 the average estimated (yes, estimated, we don't know for fact) annual human carbon (CO2) output was 5.5Gt (giga-ton). The It is estimated that the atmosphere contains 750 Gt of carbon (CO2). All told the ocean is estimated at about 40,000Gt. Annually (according to bio-records) the ocean and atmosphere exchange about 240 Gt of carbon. Annually the surface vegetation (i.e. plant life) swaps some 60 Gt of carbon. That is an annual exchange of about 300Gt of carbon. If the exchange rates vary by as little as 1% the annual variance could be 3Gt/year. If a non-anthropogenic change in the natural carbon exchange rate occurred where the atmosphere picked up 2% more than usual, how would we know? We wouldn't. And that would be more than the estimated human contribution of about 3 Gt per year net.

    So let us just explore a few thoughts here. If CO2 levels doubled, plant life could increase by 50% to 100% (assuming we let it) How much of the roughly 60Gt vegetation locked carbon would have to increase to soak up the difference? Just think about it.

    It may suprise you to know but the likelihood is that the Earth's atmosphere is not so fragile as to be severely impacted by a 1% change. The anthropogenic GW proponents claim it is but provide no experimental or historical evidence of it. They also want to limit discussion of temperatures and levels of CO2 to only the last 100 years, and claim everything is based off of it. This is persisted despite knowing that in the longer history of the Earth that CO2 level increases have lagged warming by some 800 years. - www.realclimate.org even talks about this. If we take their comments about an 800 year lag (over a 5000 year warming period), and assume (they do not say otherwise last I knew and the site has DB issues atm) that this can be applied to more than one warming period, then we should be able to extrapolate backward by looking at when the warming began and when the CO2 increase began. If we go back to the start of the CO2 rise, and then backtrack 800 years what will we or do we find in the temperature record as we know it?

    Sea levels are noticably rising,
    And falling. Over the last century it has been shown that the global average (global sea level isn't level) has been a decrease, with an annual variation of about 8 inches. Eight inches.

    Furthermore, the long term average for seal level on this planet is much higher than it is now. Much higher. Yet the end of the last ice age some 18,000 years ago had sea level nearly 400 feet lower than today, and it has been rising ever since. Some 120,000 years ago it was several meters higher than it is today. All of this is before man was keeping track of this kind of stuff, and ages before we deserved even so much as a thought about our carbon footprint as a species.

    "Sea level is higher now
  • "Do Something" (Score:3, Informative)

    by Dirck_the_Noorman (1072638) on Monday March 12, 2007 @05:29PM (#18322889)
    eldavojohn wrote - "His article only mentions a professor from MIT but not what his criticisms are." The MIT professor is Richard Lindzen. He is a physicist and Professor of Meteorology at MIT. Google him to learn more. ----- misleb wrote "Depends on what was done about it, but I can't help thinking better safe than sorry." The problem with this logic is that it assumes there is no cost to "doing something." "Doing something" in this case means slowing the world economy, dooming billions to continued poverty, granting arbitrary power to foreign and domestic bureaucracies, and slowing the very engine that makes innovation possible. "Doing something" just to be "better safe than sorry" in the 1960s meant stopping the expansion of nuclear energy in the US - if we hadn't done that, and had instead moved forward with France and Japan (generating 80% of electricity from nuclear now) the US would now be generating 40% less CO2. "Doing something" for Nobel-Prize-winning chemist Paul Crutzen means pumping millions of tons of Sulfur into the atmosphere (to help reflect sunlight). The US has spent the last 40 years reducing the emission of this powerful pollutant (creates acid rain), but when Al Gore calls climate change "the greatest spiritual challenge mankind has ever confronted" anything is on the table. http://tinyurl.com/3xkxf2 [tinyurl.com] "Doing something" about Global Cooling in the 1970s meant "melting the arctic ice cap by covering it with black soot or diverting arctic rivers". http://tinyurl.com/yqzd4a [tinyurl.com] ----- The greatest threat to humanity is not human-induced climate change, it is abuse of power by grasping bureaucrats. Add up all the fatalities of all the natural disasters of the 20th century and you will have a fraction of the number killed by abuse Marxist governments. Like the Marxists in the 20th century, climate alarmists favor central control over individual liberty, claim scientific support for their harebrained schemes, and command sympathy from many among American academia, celebrities, and trustifarians. http://tinyurl.com/22hy4u [tinyurl.com]
  • by blank axolotl (917736) on Monday March 12, 2007 @06:15PM (#18323595)
    And anyway, the problem with CO2 isn't it's direct effect on plant and animal life, it is that it may cause global temerature increase.
    So the quote is doubly irrelevant.

    However, the point that CO2 levels were higher millions of years ago is interesting. Here are two graphs from Wikipedia:

    Data over the past 400 Thousand years [wikipedia.org] showing the sudden increase after the industrial revolution. Also a subplot over the past 1000 years.

    Data over the past 500 Million Years [wikipedia.org] showing the higher levels of CO2 in the past.

    I can see how the effect of CO2 is controversial.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 12, 2007 @11:05PM (#18326967)
    "we can't take the added CO2 concentration."

    Human beings breath air for the oxygen.

    So, yes, we can take the CO2 concentration. Easily.

    You ignore the simplest, fundamental understanding of human physiology learned in junior high school...your claims are beyond scary in how just freaking incorrect they are, worse that the /. mods don't even know basic chemistry or the simplest factors in how our lungs work.

    Let me be clear--simplistically, our bodies do not give a shit about CO2 in the air as long as suffient oxygen is present.

    The only time CO2 matters is if it prevents the displacement of CO2 from our bodies into the air. This is unlikely to occur, since air is made up of largely nitrogen anyways. (Not to mention, by releasing more CO2, more material is available for O2 conversion too as a side effect, but the plants decide that conversion rate which most people believe may have been met in the past year or so.)

    In fact, more CO2 due to the Bohr Effect causes oxygen-hemoglobin dissociation; CO2 atmospheric levels are nearly inconsequential to human physiology. Not only that, we have mechanisms in our blood (blood buffers) and kidneys (H+ pumps) to handle excess CO2. Similarly, our bodies are built to handle high levels of CO2, as it happens all the time during physical activity, but that's another matter entirely--internal and external CO2 levels are not related, as it's the oxygen level that matters and that occurs on intake; our breathing of CO2 out on exhaust has squat to due with atmospheric levels but our own internal processes.

    And your university sucks. Comas have a lot of factors, but most brain death is caused by lack of O2 which results in a buildup of CO2.

    Oh, if you're worried that fossil fuel CO2 production consumes O2, while that is correct, hemoglobin is an outstanding oxygen receptor. This is partly why CPR works. Oxygen levels have dropped, but there is a LOT of room for them to as well.

    And if you don't believe me or the basics, consider your own peer-reviewed 'pro-"human caused" CO2 is bad' articles--they rarely mention it, not because they are stupid, but because it doesn't matter.
  • Re:He's not alone (Score:2, Informative)

    by jwhitener (198343) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @02:51AM (#18328665)
    You cut off your quote of realclimate.org just one small sentence early....

    "The correct interpretation of this is well known: that there is a T-CO2 feedback:"
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2004 /12/co2-in-ice-cores/ [realclimate.org]

    How did this person get modded +5 for taking a partial quote and ignoring the explanation that was a mere one sentence below his inaccurate tirade?
  • by dylan_- (1661) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @05:53AM (#18329467) Homepage
    No, it's not. Read this [realclimate.org] before you start making things up.
  • by Ambitwistor (1041236) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @08:01AM (#18330195)

    (a) disagree with one another by a factor of three,
    In the main climate variables like temperature, modern GCMs do better than that as far as the global means are concerned.

    (b) even their least pessimistic predictions have been substantially in excess of the observed temperature rise,
    Untrue. See, for instance, Figure SPM-4 of the recent IPCC report.

    (c) depend upon the fine tuning of a large number of parameters
    Only partially true. They no longer rely on things like flux corrections. They do parametrize local physics like clouds. However, their parametrization does not allow them to fit any possible data set, which is what you would expect if they are overfitting the data. Notably, you cannot realistically fine tune them to fit the data if you leave out either natural or anthropogenic forcings.

    (d) do not calculate error bars,
    Untrue. Ensemble runs of GCMs are now routine, and when quantification of uncertainty is important, you can turn to EMICs.

    (e) are calibrated against a temperature record that is fraught with error (e.g.: weather stations largely cover only the relatively small area of well inhabited areas of the globe;
    Weather stations demonstrably do well at reconstructing global means as compared with data taken from remote land and sea locations by weather stations as well as other instruments.

    there is the urban heat island effect;
    Shown in numerous studies to be utterly negligible to global means.

    there is disagreement between satellite, balloon,and weather staion records;
    Most of that disagreement has been resolved since the last IPCC report. In particular, the discrepancies noted in the last report regarding balloon-borne and satellite measurements of tropospheric temperature are now consistent with the surface temperature record.

    temperature records do not go back very far; results obtained via proxies such as tree rings are very questionable and hard to connect to the instrumental record),
    Proxy results are not hard to connect to the instrumental record, and multiproxy methods lead to consistent reconstructions.

    (f) essentially assume that CO2 is the *only* climate forcing agent,
    Untrue to the point of being an outright lie. Modern AOGCMs take into account all major GHGs from both natural and anthropogenic sources, solar variations, volcanic forcings, anthropogenic aerosols and particulate matter, and so on, not to mention the numerous feedback effects at work.

    (g) assume vastly more pessimistic population and economic future growth than professional demographers and economists support.
    The SRES scenarios are out of date, I agree. But they are also not "vastly" inaccurate, and not everybody uses the SRES scenarios anymore. (The GCMs mostly do, though.)

    It sounds like most of your criticisms are themselves outdated by 5-10 years.
  • by Ambitwistor (1041236) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @08:07AM (#18330241)

    That's my biggest beef with the global climate change models.
    It's also wholly untrue. GCMs take into account numerous forcing mechanisms.

    One of the results of the three day 'no-fly' over the US in Sep 2001 was that nights were about 1C cooler due to the lack of contrails - clear skies have a lower sky temperature than cloudy skies.
    The cloud contrail effect is a feedback mechanism, not a forcing agent. GCMs do take into account many feedbacks, but not contrails. They are left out because a number of followup studies on the 9/11 results have indicated that the global average contrail forcing is rather small on an annual basis. I can try to dig up some of those studies if you like.

    What I'd like to see is some consistent estimates of how much warming is caused by CO2, how much by methane, how much by CFC's, how much by contrails and for good measure, how much by reducing particulates.
    Usually those figures are given in terms of forcings, not in terms of warming. You can see such results in Figure SPM-2 of the recent IPCC report.
  • by 'nother poster (700681) on Tuesday March 13, 2007 @11:47AM (#18333345)
    Sorry I couldn't reply until today. From OSHAs web site.

    Extreme and Dangerous CO2 Levels:

    slightly intoxicating, breathing and pulse rate increase, nausea: 30,000 ppm
    above plus headaches and sight impairment: 50,000 ppm
    unconscious, further exposure death: 100.000 ppm

    3 times the level (1100 ppm), which you say would kill, is listed as possibly causing minor drowsiness according to OSHA. General drowsiness: 1000 - 2500 ppm. Humans would survive.

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