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Space Earth Science

Of Late, Fewer Sunspots Than Usual 628

Posted by timothy
from the sundials-largely-unaffected dept.
esocid writes "The sun has been laying low for the past couple of years, producing no sunspots and giving a break to satellites. Periods of inactivity are normal for the sun, but this period has gone on longer than usual. The sun usually operates on an 11-year cycle with maximum activity occurring in the middle of the cycle. The last cycle reached its peak in 2001 and is believed to be just ending now, with the next cycle just beginning and expected to reach its peak sometime around 2012. Today's sun, however, is as inactive as it was two years ago, and scientists aren't sure why. In the past, solar physicists observed that the sun once went 50 years without producing sunspots, coinciding with a little ice age on Earth that lasted from 1650 to 1700." (More below.)
esocid continues: "The Hinode, a Japanese satellite mission with the US and UK as partners, has three telescopes that together show how changes on the sun's surface spread through the solar atmosphere. It orbits 431 miles (694 km) above the Earth, crossing both poles and making one lap every 95 minutes, giving Hinode an uninterrupted view of the sun for several months out of the year. Scientists are not extremely worried, but have added extra ground stations in case of interference from extra solar activity, and are ready for the Sun to resume its activity." (The Little Ice Age is fascinating, full stop.)
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Of Late, Fewer Sunspots Than Usual

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @11:46AM (#23728803)
    I blame the loss of pirates.
  • by Alain Williams (2972) <addw@phcomp.co.uk> on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @11:49AM (#23728891) Homepage
    and we are still seeing global warming effects at a greater rate than expected, what will happen when the sun becomes active again ?
  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @11:54AM (#23729011)
    While you probably don't agree with most of his stances on the myriad issues, his position on global warming is spot on. Even if all the hullaballoo surrounding whether humans are the primary cause of global climate change or not, if we take actions now to stem wholesale dumping of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, whether it turns out that we have a huge impact on the global ecosystem or not, at least the world we leave behind will be cleaner and more hospitable for our children and future generations.

    With new data pointing to a possible solar cause to global climate change, it does not change the fact that sucking up all the available fuels and dumping CO2 into the atomsphere is making the world a worse place to live.

    Hopefully we can make the right changes whether or not the science backs us up.
  • by beoba (867477) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @11:55AM (#23729041) Homepage
    Unfortunately, the Sun doesn't care about the Earth.

    Sorry
  • by ArcherB (796902) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @11:57AM (#23729105) Journal

    Yeah, everybody knows that it's sunspots that cause climate change. Or maybe its absence of sunspots. Yeah, must be that, cause that's what we've got. It certainly isn't my SUV!
    Not unless you've been driving your SUV on Jupiter, which is also experiencing warming...

    Couldn't be the sun causing GW. Why would anyone even think that the primary source of heat in the solar system would be responsible for warming?
  • by sm62704 (957197) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @11:59AM (#23729169) Journal
    What happens when an asteroid hits the sun? Does it splash? Or does it vaporize before it hits the sun?

    I've read that sunspots are caused by the sun's internal magnetic field, how do we measure it?
  • by CyprusBlue113 (1294000) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @12:04PM (#23729295)
    So what you're saying is that with the sun at a low point, the fact that we have not lost overall tempature here is evidence *against* global warming?

    I am stunned
  • by spun (1352) <loverevolutionar ... minus physicist> on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @12:08PM (#23729415) Journal
    First, lack of sunspots corresponds to lowered solar output. Second, while the warming of Jupiter can be explained by increases in solar output, the warming of Earth can not. Do you honestly think climate scientists don't take this into account? That's either bordering on a tinfoil hat level of crazy conspiracy theory, or it represents an equally crazy level of disdain for other people's intellect.

    I can't understand why anyone falls for this argument, it represents a complete lack of respect for science.
  • by shma (863063) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @12:12PM (#23729483)

    Incidentally this lull in solar activity coincides with there having been no discernable warming since 2000. But yeah, it's CO2 that's to blame for warming ... nothing to do with solar activity.. *rolleyes*


    No discernable warming since 2000? And this gets labeled informative? Sorry, but you can't just make up arguments. 2005 is the warmest year on record since records started being kept. In fact every one of the 7 years since 2000 is in the top 8 warmest years on record [wikipedia.org] (NOAA data), and there is an obvious pattern of warming over that period as well. So sorry, you don't even have correlation, let alone causation.
  • by Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @12:19PM (#23729647) Journal

    I can't understand why anyone falls for this argument, it represents a complete lack of respect for science.


    Well, its easy to understand once you realize that those that fall for the argument *have* a complete lack of respect for science. So the argument's lack therof, reinforces their value system.
  • by wass (72082) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @12:23PM (#23729765)
    I find it amazing that this relationship (sun spots vs agricultural output) is dismissed so easily by the current anti-CO2 crowd.

    Are you kidding? It is this very observation (solar activity vs earth temperature) that has led scientists to conclude that global warming is caused by another factor beyond solar output.

    Scientists haven't used wheat prices per se, but there exist hundreds of years of sunspot data from astronomers around the world.

    Increased solar activity leads directly to increased terrestrial temperatures, and the correlation is quite good for all the sunspot and temperature data for the past few hundred years. Except the recent few decades, where terrestrial temperature is increasing at a far greater rate than what it should be for the solar output.
  • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @12:24PM (#23729793)
    I always found this assertion interesting. The highly indirect measurements of the temperature of the outer planets, which could potentially indicate a warming over the last few years, are taken at face value. Yet the increase in temperature on Earth, measured in countless ways and recorded over hundreds of years, mean nothing.

    Nice confirmation bias you got going there.
  • by Burnhard (1031106) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @12:28PM (#23729873)

    Do you honestly think climate scientists don't take this into account
    Frankly, yes; at least the "adjusters" (Hansen et al). As for having a lack of respect for science, I refer you to the Wegman Report.
  • by Davenport Spiff jr (1076315) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @12:35PM (#23730021)
    So, let me see if I understand. The UNUSUAL lack of sunspots coinsides with a LACK OF WARMING, and your conclusion is that the prior warming is caused not by CO2, but by the USUAL prior sunspot activity? I guess people really do see what they want to see, and not what is there. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confirmation_bias [wikipedia.org]
  • by spun (1352) <loverevolutionar ... minus physicist> on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @12:39PM (#23730125) Journal
    You are trying to defend this guy by stating that thousands of climate scientists all don't check their facts. Nice.
  • "But the Sun's temperature has not increased that much."

    Yeah! Those sun thermometers are super accurate...until they melt...

    (I'd be extremely surprised to learn that we have the capability to measure a .3% change in solar temperature with our current technology. It's hard to do that on Earth, much less a hot ball of gas 96 million miles away.)
  • by spun (1352) <loverevolutionar ... minus physicist> on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @12:53PM (#23730435) Journal
    You think they just hold up a bulb thermometer? Be surprised. We can measure the temperature of the sun a lot more accurately than that. You really don't have any understanding of the kinds of tools scientists have available these days, do you?
  • by peragrin (659227) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @12:55PM (#23730499)
    that's my favorite part of global warming. They are all worried about a 3,000 year old ice shelf collapsing.

    yet they can't seem to figure out if it is 3,000 years old then the ice shelf one generation before it must have collapsed due to the slave labor building the pyramids. It's not some natural collapse when it gets to heavy every 3-5 thousand years, noooo it must be humans fault.
  • by stankulp (69949) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @01:10PM (#23730831) Homepage
    You have just proved that belief in AGW is a religious belief.

    The idea that global climate is never supposed to change is as primitive as any creationist idea.
  • by Quadraginta (902985) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @01:16PM (#23730959)
    I imagine one could fit a black-body curve to the solar spectrum, for example. That would probably give a pretty precise answer.

    However, the OP has a point, even if it wasn't put all that sophisticatedly. The question of the influence of solar output on the Earth's energy budget is not as settled as you imply. In the first place, he's right, only very subtle changes in the huge amounts of energy flowing in and out of the Earth's ecosystem are required, and these are inherently difficult to measure accurately. Generally speaking, you're subtracting large and nearly equal numbers from each other, which is always tricky.

    Secondly, the Sun does more than simply heat the Earth through radiation. It emits ionizing radiation that ionizes the atmosphere (which is what allows over-the-horizon radio communication). It injects charged particles into Earth's magnetic field. It has a magnetic field itself that interacts with that of the Earth, and changes the way charged particles from the Sun and the cosmos hit the Earth. These things may have subtle effects on, for example, cloud formation -- and therefore on the Earth's albedo.

    One might well say who cares about all this weird third- and fourth-order stuff if we were talking about big changes in Earth's climate. But we're not. We're not trying to explain an Ice Age, still less a "snowball Earth" event, or the runaway hothouse climate of Venus. We're trying to explain a temperature trend that is so slight that it is not only much smaller than annual and diurnal variations, it is smaller than the unexplained "background noise" variations in the measurement. It's only by averaging over a long time that you can even see any temperature change.

    Does that mean the leading explanation of the day for the observed temperature change (anthropogenic CO2 emission) is wrong? Nope. But it very well does suggest a bit of humility about the possibility of other explanations. Mother Nature has a long, long history of confounding "obvious" explanations.
  • by ArcherB (796902) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @01:18PM (#23730993) Journal

    Yes, you're right, all the climate scientists are wrong, the climate isn't changing, you can have your SUV and its $20:gallon gas with the AC blasting and the windows open.
    Well, not all of them are wrong. Many of them dispute man made global warming. Both sides can't be wrong!

    Here are two articles I found that may shed light on the whole "Sun output has no effect climate" argument. Here [global-war...limate.com] is one. Here [web.cern.ch] is another. The second one is from CERN (PDF warning). They have some interesting ideas as to why an increase in cosmic rays can cause cooling.

    A striking correlation has recently been observed between global cloud cover and the flux of incident cosmic rays. The effect of naturalv ariations in the cosmic ray flux is large, causing estimated changes in the EarthÃ(TM)s energy radiation balance that are comparable to those attributed to greenhouse gases from the burning of fossil fuels since the Industrial Revolution.
  • by Moraelin (679338) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @01:21PM (#23731045) Journal

    Your characterization of climate scientists as a high priesthood says all I need to know about your respect for real science. You are one of those people who jumps to conclusions and then reasons backwards to find a comfortable theory that fits what you'd like to believe is true.


    Heh. No, dearie. That was my satire at people who treat it as some kind of fucked-up religion. The moment you go some variant of "OMG, you're not worthy to question The Great Scientists", you're not about science any more.

    Get this: you don't need anyone's seal of approval to use your own head. Einstein was a nobody working as a patent office clerk, when he thought he could do better than the great Lorentz. Galileo was a nobody to question the great scientists of the Aristotelian establishment. Etc.

    There is _nothing_ that's sacrosanct and beyond questioning, no matter what Great Man said it. Even if he's a scirentist. In fact, _especially_ if he's a scientist.

    Now I'm not saying that you or I are as smart as Einstein but the principle remains the same. Capisci? Attitudes like, basically, "OMG, don't even try to question The Scientists, you're not worth it," have _nothing_ to do with _science_. That's how religion works, not science.

    Science works more like, "Ok, let's see your data."

    And in a nutshell _that_ is what ticks me off about the carbon cultists. That fucked up attitude that there's only one Truth, some High Priests... err... "Scientists" hand it down as some sacrosanct beyond-questioning Holy Truth, and you're not worthy to question Them. And everyone is the Enemy if they even try to think about it on their own. That's _not_ science. That's religion in pseudo-science garb.

    Regardless of whether the scientists studying that are right or right, and they probably are are real scientists... the gang of rabid eco-zealots waging holy crusade in their name, are not. They just perverted that science into some weird kind of religion.
  • by OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @01:22PM (#23731099) Homepage
    Actually if you read the IPCC's "guidelines" you will be forced to admit that at the very least there's good money to be made by not taking it into account.

    (you're excluded from UN research funds if you claim the sun warms the earth, the UN is certainly not the only organisation doing that btw.)

    So while whether they take em up on that offer or not, one thing's for sure : the scientist that claim it's the sun are the poorer ones.
  • by Alsee (515537) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @01:30PM (#23731291) Homepage
    It's simple physics. The atmosphere greenhouse effect ALREADY keeps the earth about 50 degrees F (about 28 C) warmer than it would be if there were no atmospheric greenhouse effect. Most of the earth would be an iceball if the greenhouse wasn't there already warming the earth quite substantially.

    When you crank up the CO2 content of the atmosphere, it's like adding additional layers of insulation to an glass greenhouse. And CO2 doesn't cover the entire infrared spectrum - it's like there are parts of the greenhouse are open holes not covered by glass... when we add in methane and chlorofluorocarbons and other powerful greenhouse gases... well that's like closing those openings in the window - covering them with insulating glass too. Simple physics, additional gases have a particularly powerful effect because they cover parts of the infrared window that were previously uncovered and wide open.

    It is simple irrefutable physics. The fact that human emissions will trap heat is absolutely undeniable. It's like we're spraying water around, and some people are denialists of "human caused wetness".

    If the sun is having some effect on earth and jupiter and other planets, any such effect is strictly on top of the basic-physics-undeniable effect of humans dumping mass quantities of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and that it does trap thermal radiation.

    Measuring the size of the effect is difficult. Separating the effect from sun or other simultaneous effects is difficult. Predicting the future size of the increasing effect is extremely difficult and carries significant error bars of uncertainty. And trying to accurately predict the cascade of secondary effects it *will* have on climate and general life on earth is crazy difficult and subject to enormous uncertainties.

    However trying to denying the fundamental effect itself, well that is just pure blind denialism.

    Megabucks of corporate relations and junk science was spent to create the confusion and FUD on the science, and unfortunately a couple of politicians jumped onboard early on and got the issue associated with partisan politics. Created the ridiculous association that if if you are Republican/Conservative you are supposed to be on one side of the issue, and if you are Democrat/Liberal you are supposed to be on the other side of the issue. An absolutely ridiculous association. What we should or shouldn't do about it is indeed a political question, however whether the effect is real or not is a question of basic physics. The gases we are pumping into the atmosphere either do or do not trap thermal radiation, a simple direct question of physics. And the answer is yes, it is impossible to deny that they do.

    But as I said it's unfortunate that this got associated with politics at all. People hear that they are supposed to to be on one particular side of the issue because they have some political association, and then it is basic human nature to resist breaking that link and to resist changing position.

    In fact I noticed some new TV ads on this lately - I'm not sure if there's multiple versions with different people, but the one I recall is with Al Sharpton and Pat Robertson sitting side by side on a couch. They play up the fact that they are icons of the Left and the Right. They talk about how they disagree on almost everything, but that they agree on this. That this issue is NOT legitimately tied to political sides. That it's not Left vs Right or Liberal vs Conservative or Democrats vs Republicans, that it is REAL and that it's time to come together and figure out what we want to do about that fact.

    -
  • by packeteer (566398) <packeteer.subdimension@com> on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @01:36PM (#23731439)
    Before you go claiming "tinfoil hat science" I would look at the universities where those climatologist teach. With Berkley, Stanford, and any other liberal biased university behind their name, you can bet on their position.

    I find it interesting that anytime the facts don't line up with someone's values they say there is a "liberal bias" going on. That is a classic ad hominem attack. It's literally a textbook example of one, but I'm sure that textbook must be biased.

    Maybe rational people and the apparent facts of the world have a liberal bias. Or perhaps the forces of unreason in the world have seen a polarized society and chose to exploit one side to support their arguments. Most of the time if someone is greedy and they need public support for themselves all the need to do is claim this is a political issue and generally poor conservatives will support them.
  • by slashname3 (739398) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @01:37PM (#23731469)

    Except that in the 70's there was already a huge calmour about a Global Cooling.
    And the SUV saved us all! Proof that the system works!
  • by A beautiful mind (821714) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @01:40PM (#23731549)

    What I'm getting at is that the average temperature of Earth is in the ballpark of 300K. We had an increase of 1K in a whole bloody century. That's the whole Global Warming. That's an increase of 0.3% or so. Plugging it back into the StefanBoltzmann law, we need an increase of only 1.003^4=1.01205 times in solar output to _fully_ explain it. That's 1.2% btw.
    You are incorrect. Black body radiation alone only explains an average global temperature of 254K or -19C. The difference between that and the current 14C or 287K global average temperature is the greenhouse effect. That's 33K difference.

    You're theoretically correct about that a small variance in solar output would result in global warming. But it doesn't happen. Yes, climate scientists checked. Yes, they have checked accurately. They determined that taking the worst case scenario, only 1/3rd of the current global warming we're seeing could be explained by solar variance.

    You're allowed to question science, that's how it works. But you better be familiar with the observations, theories and basically the problems of the field, otherwise all you achieve is demonstrating ignorance.
  • by mevets (322601) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @01:50PM (#23731809)
    Don't really care if the rocks are uncomfortable. Presumably there is a narrow band that 'life as we know it' exists within. 0K..270K really doesn't matter, we'd all be dead. Suppose the narrow band is in the range 290K .. 310K. Then 1K is ~5%. Thats a bit more troubling. What is the actual range?

    Second, I think part of the issue is about distribution - head in the oven, feet in the fire - and all that. Although, the feet in the SUV, head up the ass seems more popular...
  • by Quadraginta (902985) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @01:52PM (#23731857)
    Hmm, well...I dunno if the existence of photosynthesizers that do something with the incoming radiation other than simply absorb it, like a rock, matters. Maybe. I suppose one could argue that some small fraction of the incoming radiation is being turned into stored chemical energy instead of re-radiated as heat. Does that matter? Got me. We're talking about incredibly subtle effects.

    increasing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is known to have a warming effect

    Wrong. It's known to increase the warming effect in the laboratory. That's easy physics. But in real life? That's harder. We don't know enough about the atmosphere to calculate the effect with enough certainty, and we can't measure the effect because we can't do the control experiment (go back in time 200 years, not start burning fossil fuels, and see what happens).

    Even if the effect of the CO2 is smaller than an as yet unproven warming by the sun: We can't change the sun, can we?

    You speak as if reducing CO2 emissions is entirely a cost-free enterprise. But it's not. It would have enormous dislocating economic effects. That means it will greatly reduce the size and health of the future world economy, slow down scientific and technological progress (which both depend on a healthy economy to pay for them), and greatly strain social and political agreements that keep world peace.

    That's all fine if it's necessary to prevent an Ice Age or runaway warming that will leave Earth like Venus.

    But what if it's not? The problem is, we can only make such a staggeringly huge change in our habits perhaps once in a thousand years. By making that change now, in the direction of reducing CO2 emissions, we give up the ability to make any similarly massive change for a long time. Is that a wise bet? Or might there be some other climate effect, driven by the Sun, say, to which we will in the future really wish we had preserved our ability to respond?

    If reducing global CO2 emissions is something like buying insurance, we do need to consider the fact that that insurance is very expensive, and, once we buy it, we'll have virtually nothing left in the bank with which to buy anything else we might need in the future. That doesn't say we shouldn't do it. That does say we should as a species approach this giant purchase with extreme caution, the way one might hesitate before committing to buy a very large house in an uncertain real estate market.
  • by d3ac0n (715594) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @02:06PM (#23732241)
    Um...

    You do realize that there is a difference between Cosmic Rays [wikipedia.org] and Solar Radiation [wikipedia.org]. Right?

    As far as the article goes, More sunspots mean more solar radiation, less sunspots mean less solar radiation.

    If the sun has been going through a period of low activity as of recent years, that would certainly explain the cooling trends [dailytech.com] seen by scientists in recent years. Of course, some refuse to talk about it, and continue to hyperventilate about "Anthropogenic Global Warming" as if it was some kind of gospel [telegraph.co.uk], rather than just another scientific hypothesis that has yet to be proved even enough to garner "theory" status.

    Of course, this is why real scientists continue to collect data, and to test the hypothesis. Many scientists are beginning to see serious cracks in AGW thought, and are beginning to question it's legitimacy. Unfortunately, AGW seems to have garnered quite a few political opportunists and quasi-religious acolytes who continue to insist there is a consensus [scienceand...policy.org] where none exists.

    Personally, I've not bought into the AGW hysteria, and am continuing to gather data. But the more I gather, the more I see that our Earth's climate has been fluctuating between warm and cool for eons, well before Man arrived on the scene, and will continue to do so until the death of the Sun. We are just a passing fancy for our planet, soon to be forgotten. How arrogant of us to think we could affect the deep and wide forces that move and shape our world.
  • by Alsee (515537) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @02:16PM (#23732501) Homepage
    My question is what is the optimum temperature to sustain life on our planet?

    You could change the temperature by a hundred degrees in either direction and the earth would cheerfully continue to sustain life. However the life sustained would not include us, nor most other species.

    Talking about an "optimal" temperature isn't really meaningful. But I will tell you what *is* optimal and extremely meaningful for sustaining life... a constant temperature. Or at least one that only changes slowly over geological timescales.

    Changing temperatures, especially rapidly changing temperatures, are extremely destructive to life. It only takes a fairly small change to start a cascade of extinctions. And it also only takes a small change to be extremely disruptive to us. Humans live everywhere from the equator to the deep arctic circle, but in every case we are highly adapted- to and reliant-on the expected conditions. If the climate changes even a small amount, the effects would be wide ranging and harmful to us. Not the least of such effects is changes in rain and other agricultural factors. Areas where we expect low rainfall can be inundated with flooding, while major farming areas and population centers can be hit with devastating droughts. A less deadly but still disruptive effect is is agricultural areas remain viable, but farmers have to figure out and adapt to different crops viable in the new climate conditions. Another major issue is that warming brings a massive increase in the range of mosquitoes and deadly mosquito-born diseases like malaria. Another issue is that many major cities and vast swaths of population live along low-lying coastal areas, and even a modest rise in sea level would be a disruption to humanity of colossal proportions. It's not merely about land that would fall below the new sea level, you have to consider hurricane storm surges. Every foot of higher sea level massively increases the frequency and range of land flooded under a storm surge. The disruptive effects on humanity just go on and on. We have built our civilization on hundreds of years of hard lessons about the local climate and what the water supply is and what grows where and what the various animal insect and disease ranges are and on the sea level and what the storm flood threats are and on and on and on. Change itself is enormously disruptive and costly.

    -
  • by Bandman (86149) <bandman@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @02:22PM (#23732677) Homepage
    could fill a proverbial thimble.

    The changes we're witnessing (Solar activity, climate change here and on other bodies) are very likely related, but we don't have the proof or experience yet to determine that, or what the ultimate result will be.

    Lets face it. We know next to nothing about how Sol works and cycles. We've been paying attention for, maybe, 400 years. The longest running cycle we've noticed is ~ 22 years, for the sunspots. 22 years is absolutely nothing in celestial time.

    The timespan of humans on this planet hasn't yet been sufficient to do long-term forecasting, unfortunately. That doesn't mean that we should bury our heads in the sand and ignore the changes around us.

    It may be that we are not responsible for the changes happening in our environment, but we sure as hell have to deal with them. It behooves us to take action to try to prevent what may end up being cataclysmic environmental changes.
  • by SBacks (1286786) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @02:36PM (#23733107)
    I was about to refute your statement and link to several places that show the massive increase in hurricane damage over the past few years, but then I stumbled across data that was normalized to population/infrastructure and you're right. There's more damage from hurricanes these days, but it looks to be driven by the value of the areas rather than the intensity of the storm.
  • by JebusIsLord (566856) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @03:00PM (#23733803) Homepage
    That's a straw person argument, and you know it. What climate scientist out there would ever suggest that the global climate stays constant? It doesn't, and they all know that. They study the degree and rate of change, and identify causation. The broad scientific (not dogmatic) consensus is that the change is too rapid, too large, and the corelation with increasing levels of CO2 is impossible to ignore.

    Don't make dishonest attacks.
  • by ArcherB (796902) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @03:32PM (#23734771) Journal

    Individual climate scientists might not take every piece of info into account but that is the beauty of science. As a group scientists move towards the truth because many people are working on parts at once. Just because you can't get 1 person to enter a debate who knows every single part of the story and convince the world does not mean climate change is wrong. Just because you can corner a few scientists and find holes in their specific knowledge does not mean they are on the wrong path.
    No one is saying that climate change is not happening. Hell, change is the one thing we can count on in terms of the climate. What is debatable is WHY.

    I don't expect climatologists to consider what is happening on other planets just as don't expect an astronomer to predict the weather. However, when you place the two differing studies together, you can reach previously unconsidered conclusions. For example, if all the planets and even asteroids in the solar system are warmer, then you can eliminate all the causes that are unique to one particular solar body. On the other hand, if one particular body is warming more than the others, THEN you look at that particular object to find out what makes that body unique that could be the cause.

  • by Omestes (471991) <omestes @ g m a il.com> on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @03:33PM (#23734789) Homepage Journal
    Summary: They disagree with me, and therefore can't be called scientists.

    I always wonder about the warming deniers. I, myself, and a anthropogenic warming agnostic, but support measures to reduce carbon (and other greenhouse) emissions, just to error on the side of caution.

    A) If they are wrong, and we do nothing, then there is no cost.
    B) If they are wrong, and we do something, then there is a short term economic cost.
    C) If they are right, and we do nothing, then there is a HUGE long term economic, and human cost (not to mention extinctions, and other esoteric ecological costs)
    D) If they are right, and we do something, then there is a short term economic cost, and minimal long term costs.

    Think of it as the ecological Pascal's Wager, the possible benefits of belief outweigh the possible benefits of denial.

    The short term costs may or may not be true, since we fail to consider the investment into new "green" infrastructure, and manufacturing, and the capitol gained from new innovations. We'd be creating a new sector of economy, therefore the impact might be minimized.

    I guess I don't belong here, since I am one of the few Americans who beleive in short-term sacrifices for long term gains, and actually think that the weight of the well-being of future generation outweigh my own. In other words, I'm not a self-justifying egotistical greedy SOB.

    As for the ZOMG ILLUMINATI!!!111one! problem, I'll leave that to the tin-foil hat club. Perhaps the Time Cube will save us from the Zionist Illuminati Bilderberg Liberal Right-Wing Catholic Commie Global Conspiracy (ZIBLRCCG for short).
  • by ihuntrocks (870257) <ihuntrocks@noSPAM.gmail.com> on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @04:57PM (#23736749)
    Yes, you are correct, it is a rapid (geologically speaking) and large process. However, it isn't the fastest we've ever experienced a warming event in our history. I also think that it's interesting to note that nearly all of our previous warming events either predate our species or at least predate our technology. Thankfully this isn't a topic of who is to blame for climate change, so forgive me for straying slightly off topic to mention that.

    What I would like to mention is that I am really loving the increasing levels of CO2. It's a perfect compliment for all of the free oxygen we're getting out of the deal. Think about it: oceans warm, ice melts, algae grows in the now exposed and warmer waters and is further fed by the growing levels of CO2. We can see evidence of this happening many times (rock flowering is one such source). Geologists have known that this seems to happen to our planet, largely of its own volition, from time to time, and to tell you the truth: we haven't been worried. I honestly don't see what all the fuss is about. Oh, no, the average global temperature is going up by a degree Celsius over the course of half a century due to the millions of tons of carbon output we have as a species. Yeah, well, when Mount Pinatubo erupted, it released enough ash to lower (bear in mind, this is with global warming working against it) the average planetary temperature by one degree Celsius for two years. We also won't go into the random releasing of tons and tons of methane that was compressed as ice under the oceans quite a long time ago which fried the crap out of the planet. Now THAT was global warming. The planet itself spontaneously released more greenhouse gases than we as a species have since our inception. Oh, the things nature does when no one is paying attention. Honestly, someone should lobby against random acts of nature which are harmful to....nature.

    I'm just going to kick back and enjoy the benefits of this naturally occurring process. I'm really okay with more oxygen, and better beach locations popping up around the world that haven't been exploited as such, what with the past temperate spell we've been having (glad to see we're not stuck in that anymore).

    On another note, I believe this may encourage a healthier life style for people in general. We've all known for a long time that fat people don't do well in the heat. This is just a little incentive from nature (in small part helped by humans) and I welcome it.
  • by caluml (551744) <slashdot@spCOWam ... minus herbivore> on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @05:23PM (#23737233) Homepage

    ... that just happens to coincide with us digging up sequestered carbon and burning it by the megaton,
    Correlation, meet causation.
  • by NeutronCowboy (896098) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @06:28PM (#23738197)
    Causation: Hi. I'm Causation.
    Correlation: And I'm Correlation. Causation, you don't actually exist. Just because one event followed another doesn't mean that there's causation.
    Causation: CO2 is more efficient at absorbing infrared than N2 or O2. Physics - it works, bitch.

    At which point causation beats correlation to a bloody pulp.
  • by Yfrwlf (998822) on Tuesday June 10, 2008 @10:07PM (#23741487)
    You're right to question other points, but if physics has seemed to nail down that CO2 retains heat from the greenhouse effect and would lead to a warmer planet if CO2 replaced the other gasses that are there, that's a fairly simple concept to swallow and I don't think you really have justification to attack that specifically. However, you're right that the reality and complexity of the actual setup could indeed make different outcomes possible, for example does the Earth actually have more CO2 gas now than before in total (sure, it may be higher in polluted cities, but how about the upper atmosphere and other areas, how are they doing?), and if it has the same amounts of the other gasses, or if less, how much less. Nature's ability to counter-balance is also important. Despite the fears of how delicate of a balance exists here and there in nature, if you increase CO2 perhaps you'd get an increase in plants and plankton life to counter it.

    Quite simply, it is difficult scientifically to make the world your test tube, you're right, just like it's difficult with complex lifeforms. But, the alarmists could also be correct, and it may be important and delicate. There is evidence that suggests this other places in nature, too, so it's not a stretch to suggest that a few degrees difference could cause cataclysmic problems.

    Quite simply, no one really knows for sure, but reducing the dependence on oil, creating a healthier atmosphere by reducing air pollution in cities, and striving for cheaper power that isn't so disruptive to the environment are all pretty good goals. The only question really is if you think the government should step in and use your tax money to help/force it to happen sooner rather than later when all the oil is gone.

10.0 times 0.1 is hardly ever 1.0.

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