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Earth Science

New Research Forecasts Global 6C Increase By End of Century 746

Posted by Soulskill
from the yelling-match-begins-now dept.
jamie writes with this snippet from the UK's Independent: "The world is now firmly on course for the worst-case scenario in terms of climate change, with average global temperatures rising by up to 6C by the end of the century, leading scientists said yesterday. ... [The study] found that there has been a 29 per cent increase in global CO2 emissions from fossil fuel between 2000 and 2008, the last year for which figures are available. On average, the researchers found, there was an annual increase in emissions of just over 3 per cent during the period, compared with an annual increase of 1 per cent between 1990 and 2000. Almost all of the increase this decade occurred after 2000 and resulted from the boom in the Chinese economy. The researchers predict a small decrease this year due to the recession, but further increases from 2010."
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New Research Forecasts Global 6C Increase By End of Century

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  • How can they tell... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Quantos (1327889) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @10:20AM (#30193102)
    How do they know if the CO2 is from fossil fuels or from natural sources, is there actually a test for this?
    • by IWannaBeAnAC (653701) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @10:45AM (#30193262)

      CO2 is a molecule, containing one carbon atom and two oxygen atoms. One CO2 molecule is indistinguishable from another[*], so in principle no there is no test to determine whether any particular CO2 molecule coems from a fossil fuel or from another source.

      The obvious thing to do however is to measure and estimate the amount of man-made CO2, by summing up the CO2 emitted by smoke stacks, agriculture, forest clearing etc. Given this, I don't think anyone denies that the CO2 increase in the atmosphere comes from any natural source. In fact, so far the inceases in CO2 in the atmosphere has been less than humans have been emitting, due to some natural carbon sinks. For example, small amounts of carbon (but huge on a planetary scale) get dissolved in the oceans. These sinks have limits though, when the natural carbon sinks start to saturate it will only make the problem worse.

      [*] Ok, a pedant might argue that it has some internal degrees of freedom, nuclear hyperfine levels etc, that are irrelevant here.

      • by CheshireCatCO (185193) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @10:49AM (#30193292) Homepage

        [*] Ok, a pedant might argue that it has some internal degrees of freedom, nuclear hyperfine levels etc, that are irrelevant here.

        Actually, you needn't look to such minute differences. Different isotopes do react at slightly different rates, so biological processes often enrich molecules in one isotope over another. I don't know of any way to use this to trace CO2's source, but it has been used to chemically trace the earliest appearances of photosynthesis on Earth, for example.

        That said, your post is right: you can reasonably accurately measure and sum the man-made carbon sources.

      • by Rising Ape (1620461) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @10:55AM (#30193332)

        Isotopic composition is a good test. For fossil carbon, all of the C-14 will have decayed, so if the fraction of C-14 has gone down over time then that's a good indicator that the increase is from a fossil fource.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        One thing to remember, however, is that the carbon that is being dissolved into the oceans is doing huge amounts of damage to the ecosystems there. While the oceans have always pulled carbon into it, the vast increase in CO2 has led to the oceans becoming more acidic, which can cause the coral reefs to dissolve, which will lead to the destruction of the habitats of thousands of kinds of oceanic creatures, doing massive damage to the global ecosystem.
        • by Silvrmane (773720) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @12:18PM (#30194020) Homepage
          Prove it. Since CO2 levels have been higher in the past, it stands to reason that sealife is already adapted to higher levels of dissolved CO2 in seawater. Experts on the subject see no damage being specifically caused by CO2 in seawater. This is not to say that there is no pressing need for action on what happens in the ocean - pollution and fishing practices (like dredging and drag nets) are causing uncountable damage.
          • by AnotherUsername (966110) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @01:00PM (#30194412)
            How about http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8233632.stm [bbc.co.uk]

            Or maybe http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601081&sid=a5LmlZgQzoPQ&refer=australia [bloomberg.com]

            And http://www.azocleantech.com/details.asp?newsID=3740 [azocleantech.com]

            Then there is http://ecobridge.org/content/g_evd.htm#Disintegration [ecobridge.org]

            Also http://dsc.discovery.com/news/2008/07/29/coral-reefs-glue.html [discovery.com]

            Of course there is also the http://www.coral.org/resources/about_coral_reefs/threats_to_coral_reefs [coral.org]

            I could go on, but I have a feeling that it still wouldn't convince you. Global Warming is not a myth. True, the Earth does go through cycles. I don't dispute that. However, the rate of climate change is far faster than previous cyclic rates. The rate now versus that of the pre-industrial age is much, much faster. The global ecology cannot adapt fast enough to the change. What used to take thousands of years now takes hundreds, and increasingly, decades. There is plenty of research all around to find. Pretty much the only studies that disagree with the idea of global warming are those that are done by the oil companies and their allies.
            • Mod parent up (Score:4, Insightful)

              by catman (1412) <bjornst@skogkatt ... minus threevowel> on Sunday November 22, 2009 @02:12PM (#30194974) Homepage Journal
              However, the rate of climate change is far faster than previous cyclic rates. The rate now versus that of the pre-industrial age is much, much faster.

              And almost everyone who says "but it's been hotter before" miss this crucial point. Thank you.

            • by pkphilip (6861) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @03:17PM (#30195438)

              What are you basing your statements on? Can you cite some research which isn't based on CRU's Hockey Stick graph which has been debunked and which clearly indicates that global warming is happening and it is not due to any natural geological cycle?

              I am asking for research which indicates clearly that global warming is occurring due to humans and this research must not be based on CRU's data.

              No, I am not quoting some idiot paid by oil companies to distort science, I think it is perfectly reasonable to cite researchers who have:

              a) Placed their data online
              b) Placed the source of the programs they have written to arrive at the results
              c) Placed their detailed findings online

              http://forkbomb.org/~ml/cmail/mail/1254751382.txt [forkbomb.org]

              If you would rather believe a bunch of "scientists" who claim to have lost their raw data but who seem to have retained all the results data, then please go ahead.

              http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/08/13/cru_missing/ [theregister.co.uk]

              Just a few questions for you:

              1. Do you think that it is even remotely possible that all of CRU's data was stored on a single storage medium and that ALL scientists who ever worked on the data, worked on this single storage - that too on the only master storage of data without ever taking any copies of this data?

              2. Do you think that it is even remotely possible that all of CRU's data was lost despite the fact that the email log released yesterday includes emails even from the mid 1990s. Why is that email was backed up while the rest of the data was lost?

              3. Why is that even reputed magazines such as Nature and Science who have policies on data retention for all articles published in them didn't either a) Get the data from CRU or b) Retain this data - despite it being their own policy?

              4. Why isn't CRU releasing the raw data even now - despite all the controversy and wide-spread feeling that the research is flawed?

              Also, I would be interested in hearing a response from CRU on the email sent to CRU by Fred Pearce from New Scientist as early as 1996.

              http://forkbomb.org/~ml/cmail/mail/0845217169.txt [forkbomb.org]

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by Anonymous Coward

                What are you fucking talking about? "Can you cite some research which isn't based on CRU's Hockey Stick graph"?!? Are you saying that climate scientists aren't researching climate, but the tens of thousands of them around the world are just looking at a graph one person did a decade ago and nodding their heads? This is beyond ridiculous. Who mods this shit up?

            • by Russ Nelson (33911) <slashdot@russnelson.com> on Sunday November 22, 2009 @03:20PM (#30195462) Homepage

              However, the rate of climate change is far faster than previous cyclic rates.

              There have been at least 60 previous cycles, ranging between 500 and 2500 years. How do you know that the rate is "far faster" than the rate in any previous cycle? I mean, c'mon, pull the other one -- it's got bells on.

              So, if you were to do some research that went against the religion of anthrogenic global warming, exactly WHO is going to pay for it? You're not going to get it published anywhere, because it's heresy, so you can't use it towards getting tenure. You've GOT to get it paid-for by somebody, and the only people willing to fund such research are the oil companies and their allies. So the fact that science that contradicts AGW is paid-for by them in NO WAY undermines the quality of the research. Find another reason to dismiss it (like that it goes against your religion to believe that man isn't responsible for the warming).

          • by Artifakt (700173) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @01:16PM (#30194554)

            How does it stand to reason?
            Methane and cyanogen levels were enormously higher during the immediate post Hadean era, and remained somewhat high all the way to the precambrian. Does that say anything about modern life-forms tolerances for Cyanide? Oxygen levels were lower in the Cambrian, does that mean that modern life could get by just fine on 11% atmospheric O2? They reached 24% or so during the Jurassic. Does that mean modern forests wouldn't have massive wildfire problems if they rose that high again in your lifetime?
                  If you're going to throw around nebulous terms such as "the past" and "higher", don't you think you should know how long in the past, or how much higher, before you try to reason about it.

    • by wakaranai (87059) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @10:53AM (#30193316)

      You can measure the ratio of different types of carbon in tree rings.

      What has been found is that 13C/12C ratios are the lowest they've been for 10000 years, and that there is a sharp decline starting in 1850.

      http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2004/12/how-do-we-know-that-recent-cosub2sub-increases-are-due-to-human-activities-updated/ [realclimate.org]

      RJ Francey et al, Tellus 51B, pp.170-193, 1999

    • by bunratty (545641) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @10:56AM (#30193340)
      Yes, they can measure the concentration of the isotope carbon-14 [newscientist.com]. But even if we couldn't do so, what else do you think would make the concentration of carbon dioxide increase from about 285 ppm to about 385 ppm in just over 100 years?
    • by NeverVotedBush (1041088) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @10:58AM (#30193356)
      I think they are basing the CO2 increases on fossil fuel use increases. I don't find the methodology in the article, but by looking at the number of new power plants going on line, and the number of existing ones, it should be pretty easy to get a fairly accurate number.

      Regardless, it's a pretty depressing article. And it doesn't mention the methane hydrates that are starting to thaw and bubble up in the northern latitudes. That has the potential to push warming even higher and what is being forecast is already going to be disastrous to every living thing on the planet.

      People around now are going to have things bad enough after the next few decades. After that, well, I hope you like Mel Gibson Road Warrior movies...
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Afforess (1310263)
        Have they factored in Global Dimming [wikipedia.org] though? As the pollution increases, the extra particulate matter in the atmosphere relects sunlight away from the earth. This process is one of the few negative feedback loops that occurs when we increase pollution.

        I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but if we increased the amount of particulate matter in our pollution, we could reverse the warming trend.
  • 6C ? (Score:4, Informative)

    by jdb2 (800046) * on Sunday November 22, 2009 @10:28AM (#30193140) Journal
    For those to lazy to multiply, that's a 10.8 degree Fahrenheit increase in the mean global temperature.

    Sounds pretty alarming.

    jdb2
  • The hack (Score:4, Insightful)

    by santax (1541065) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @10:29AM (#30193152)
    I sort of believe in climate change, but at this point in time, a day after we all got to learn that the top-institute for climate-change knowingly and willingly changed the numbers, lied... I can not take this serious. First I want to know how much has been fabricated and lied. After that, I might support this type of research again, but only after all the liars are banned from 'research'.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by inthealpine (1337881)
      I don't think Global Warming (as it was sold to us, no bait and switch Climate Change) is poor science at best. Too much money and politics are involved; when Al Gore and Goldman Sachs agree on something you know it's very very bad. GOOD SCIENCE is all I ask for, which mean never hear the words ''the debate is over''. Here is a link to an article from the WSJ on hacked emails showing scientists deliberately manipulating data to get results they want. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125883405294859215.ht [wsj.com]
      • Re:The hack (Score:5, Insightful)

        by commodore64_love (1445365) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @11:33AM (#30193656) Journal

        >>>when Al Gore and Goldman Sachs agree on something you know it's very very bad.

        Not really. Both Gore and Sachs will get rich off the carbon-credit trading market. It's no surprise they're on the same side. Now if you said Al Gore and Ron Paul agree, then you'd scare me.

      • Re:The hack (Score:4, Insightful)

        by commodore64_love (1445365) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @11:43AM (#30193722) Journal

        A partial review of the emails shows that in many cases, climate scientists revealed that their own research wasn't always conclusive. In others, they discussed ways to paper over differences among themselves in order to present a "unified" view on climate change.

        On at least one occasion, climate scientists were asked to "beef up" conclusions about climate change and extreme weather events because environmental officials in one country were planning a "big public splash."

        Wow. The scientists are acting like politicians.

      • Re:The hack (Score:5, Insightful)

        by commodore64_love (1445365) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @11:56AM (#30193818) Journal

        More recent exchanges centered on requests by independent climate researchers for access to data used by British scientists for some of their papers. The hacked folder is labeled "FOIA," a reference to the Freedom of Information Act requests made by other scientists for access to raw data used to reach conclusions about global temperatures.

        Many of the email exchanges discussed ways to decline such requests for information, on the grounds that the data was confidential or was intellectual property.

        And people claim copyright/IP laws cause no harm. Science is worthless if you can't have review of the data and verifiability

      • Re:The hack (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Cedric Tsui (890887) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @01:07PM (#30194468)
        I don't know... To me, that article just says that there are a lot of e-mails going back and forth between climate scientists. Which makes sense. The hacked e-mails are between co-workers after all. It says they disagreed with each other, but that the disagreements were small enough that they could agree on a common message.
        It says that one scientist was asked to beef up his conclusions to aid in making a bigger public splash. There's nothing wrong with that. A paper is like an essay. You make different points with different amounts of stress depending on what message you're trying to convey and what you can back up by reference or evidence.

        What the article does NOT say is that there is any proof of people tampering with results. The article also doesn't say that anyone over-stated or exaggerated anything. Though, it sounds like Santax might have read another article that does have stronger proof? (Can you post that? I haven't read it)

        I believe the climate change scientists know what they are doing. Group-think does exist, and entire groups of scientists have been shown to be wrong. But this is the exception, not the rule. I want to present another anecdote.
        The surgeon general first announced that smoking had negative effects on health in 1964. It's the surgeon general's job to announce some semblance of a consensus of the opinions of all the medical researchers in the United States. How long did it take before the majority of people believed in this message? How many decades were there doctors actively trying to 'disprove' the link between smoking and lung cancer? And, we're talking about something that's easy to prove. The effects of one object on an individual organism. There's almost no wiggle-room to throw in a wrench of doubt into that picture.
        It doesn't take very many people to throw mud at a consensus of ten thousand scientists.
    • by cirby (2599)

      It's even better - the source cited in the story above is the CRU (funny how "University of East Anglia" started being the source when everyone found out that CRU was more than a bit corrupt) - the same people who just got busted with all of that leaked data and incriminating emails just this week.

      So they apparently decided to double down on their predictions, instead of trying to pretend nothing happened - but hiding the provenance.

      Anyone want to bet the lead author on the paper wasn't the lead author last

    • Re:The hack (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 22, 2009 @11:05AM (#30193416)

      climate-change knowingly and willingly changed the numbers, lied

      Having read that story, I saw no evidence that they lied or changed number. They discussed how to spin their results so as their findings wouldn't be used by the opposition to score political points and they discussed politics (including how to marginalize an opponent). But nowhere did I see evidence that they lied or fabricated numbers. Do you have proof that they did?

      After that, I might support this type of research again, but only after all the liars are banned from 'research'.

      Did you even support it in the first place? Your tone makes me suspect not and that the above sentence is a rhetorical flourish to make your refusal sound more reasonable.

      • Re:The hack (Score:4, Informative)

        by khallow (566160) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @02:37PM (#30195152)
        How about this story [squarespace.com]. The emails hint at two crimes, tax evasion in Russia and deleting data to dodge a freedom of information request (Jones did happen to "lose" the data and was unable to fulfill a freedom of information request. If the email is true, he discussed deleting the data prior to the "accident").

        Moving on there are several instances where the emails imply manipulating the data to reduce undesired features like the Medieval Warm period or recent cooling. And they of course attacked several journals that published certain rivals.

        If these emails turn out correct, it shows a serious disregard for the scientific process among a number of top researchers in the field, opens up a void in historical world temperature measurements (Jones and Mann apparently owned most of the data for that), and perhaps even jail time for someone.
    • Re:The hack (Score:5, Informative)

      by saltydogdesign (811417) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @11:27AM (#30193598)

      That's not what we "learned." The information coming from the hacked emails is ambiguous at worst and probably tells us nothing more than that scientists are humans. There's no serious evidence of falsifying data. If you believe there is, out with it, please.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by drooling-dog (189103)

      Scientists, schmientists. It's all a big conspiracy by liberal scientists who foolishly rely on reason and observation, renouncing all faith in our energy industry, the Republican Party, and God Himself. Don't tell me what these idiot climatologists say; they are far too tainted by having studied this stuff for much of their adult lives. When Rush, O'Reilly, Hannity, and Palin speak, we'll finally know the truth!

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by scamper_22 (1073470)

      As a Canadian I say...

      If it is not true... wonderful climate change is not that bad.
      If it is true... wonderful... no more snow in winter!

      Sorry to any part of the world negatively affected by global warming. Where I live (away from the ocean, in a cold climate), a degree warming can only be a good thing.

  • by hedgehogbrains (628646) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @11:07AM (#30193436)
    'Climate models predict disaster' is not news. Climate model always predict disaster.

    '1999 climate model validated by 10 years of actual data'. *That* would be news.
  • by perrin (891) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @11:11AM (#30193472)
    It is not only the estimates of temperature increase that are rising, but so are the uncertainties. We know very little about how the feedback cycles work once the temperature changes so many degrees, and we know next to nothing about how they work when faced with such quick changes. We do not know how much methane hydrate [wikipedia.org] there is stored on the ocean floor, but we do know there is a lot of it and that an eruption [wikipedia.org] of it 55 million years ago was at least in part responsible for a 6 degree C rise in global temperatures. It is also thought that the biggest mass extinction event ever [wikipedia.org] was caused by massive volcanism and methane hydrate release. There is plenty of evidence that large parts of the ocean can and have previously become anoxic [wikipedia.org] during climate changes. This is really bad news not only for everything that lives in the ocean, but also for us since a large part of our food supply comes from the ocean.

    Basically, we are getting into a territory where all bets are off, and it is not good news for humanity. I am linking to wikipedia since that is good place to start to read up on this stuff and find links to the actual research.
  • by Azureflare (645778) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @11:39AM (#30193694)
    Why do people use the term Global Warming. It is a misleading term that does not properly identify what is happening to our planet. The fact is that the atmosphere is variable and will continue to fluctuate in terms of average temperature.

    The real problem we are facing is rising sea TEMPERATURES. Here's just one technical article that studies the effects of rising sea temperatures on phytoplankton on Australia's coastline: http://www.int-res.com/articles/feature/m394p001.pdf [int-res.com] If you search the http://www.int-res.com/ [int-res.com] site you'll find a lot more really technical research articles that are great reads if you like this stuff :)

    Rising sea temperatures mess up the sea currents and make fish search out better habitats (or die), perhaps because of the rising temperature itself, or maybe because their food supply is damaged (due to phytoplankton dieoff). If something doesn't change soon, we are in danger of losing vast populations in the ocean. This will have huge repercussions on our global food supply.

    In the end, it doesn't matter if we are the ones causing it, or the sun is. Who cares. It is a complex system, and you can prove, through science, that carbon emissions directly affect sea temperatures. Maybe it's miniscule. Maybe it's not, but we have to do something or we are in severe danger of entirely losing our oceans.

    Imagine if the seafood industry went belly up. It would cause a worldwide depression the likes of which we have not seen or dreamed of, especially for areas that depend heavily on the ocean for their nation's food supply.

    AT THE VERY LEAST, if we are not going to reduce carbon emissions or whatever we can to reduce the effect on oceans, we need to have an actionable plan for what to do once the oceans die. Because it will happen if this trend continues. Having a plan doesn't mean it's going to be used, but we need to be able to continue functioning as a species if it does!
  • by rubycodez (864176) on Sunday November 22, 2009 @04:55PM (#30196244)

    I submitted article with the real truth, wonder if slashdot will post it?

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/0,1518,662092,00.html [spiegel.de]

Never test for an error condition you don't know how to handle. -- Steinbach

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