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Earth Science

New Photos Show 'Devastating' Ice Loss On Everest 895

Posted by timothy
from the heatin'-up-the-whole-outdoors dept.
Simmeh writes "The BBC reports on new photos of the Himalayas taken from exactly the same position as ones from 1929 and compares the ice coverage. The Asia Society, which did the groundwork, are quoted as saying, 'If the present rate of melting continues, many of these glaciers will be severely diminished by the middle of this century.' I guess the previous claim wasn't too unrealistic."
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New Photos Show 'Devastating' Ice Loss On Everest

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 19, 2010 @01:14AM (#32947742)

    TFA doesn't mention anything about the time of year each of the pictures was taken. It also ignores the fact that some glaciers seem to be growing in the Himalayas
    http://news.discovery.com/earth/himalayas-glaciers-shrink.html

  • by mrcaseyj (902945) on Monday July 19, 2010 @01:14AM (#32947746)

    I don't know about the credibility of this report. Maybe the glaciers are melting because of human CO2, maybe they would have melted anyway, or maybe they aren't even melting. But when the supposedly respected Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change made that mistake in their report where they claimed the Himilayan glaciers would melt by 2035, it exposed more than a simple mistake. It showed that for their report, the IPCC didn't do what you would expect, which is thoroughly scrutinize what they cited. Nor did they look over what they cited to see if it was reasonable. No, they didn't bother with all that. They didn't even check to see if the evidence they cited about the effects of global warming EVEN EXISTED.

    The entire climate science community has defended "Mike's Nature trick" to "hide the decline" so that people wouldn't see how bad their evidence is, instead of criticizing the hiding of results that cast major doubt on their evidence. None of them have any credibility left, and will never get it back until they condemn instead of defend "Mike's Nature trick".

    My criticism of climate science on Slashdot are routinely the target of moderator abuse, so watch the down moded comments for good stuff.

  • by Just_Say_Duhhh (1318603) on Monday July 19, 2010 @01:28AM (#32947810)
    Yes, there are people who study these things, and who get research grants to do so. Grants that in NO WAY influence the conclusions of such research? Reducing use of fossil fuels is a noble cause, but using AGW as the reason is akin to telling a teenage boy to stop what he's doing because he's gonna go blind!
  • Re:I am not scared (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bertok (226922) on Monday July 19, 2010 @01:46AM (#32947892)

    Conspiracy theories and scientific hypes aside, is man actually capable of changing the properties of something as huge as planet Earth?

    Or, in other words, can we stop this even if we want to? Earth will continue changing as it will continue rotating, and we might as well take our minds off what we cannot change and work a little bit more on what we can, i.e. the misery of mankind.

    You say that like you're thinking of "one man" affecting an entire planet.

    Think of it this way, the surface area of the planet is 5.1x10E8 km^2, but there are 6.75 billion people alive today.

    The real question is, can "one man" have an impact on their own personal share of 0.07556 km^2? That's only 7.6 hectares per person, of which only 2.2 hectares is 'land', which includes mountains, desert, and ice. This leaves about 1 hectare of productive land for each human being.

    So the better question to ask is:

    Are men capable of changing the properties of something as huge as 1 hectare each?

    I'd say: YES

  • Re:I am not scared (Score:5, Interesting)

    by popo (107611) on Monday July 19, 2010 @01:50AM (#32947912) Homepage

    Please define the difference between "environmental change", and "environmental damage". Do you believe that the current environmental "stasis" (however incredibly brief it is, by any measure of geologic time) is somehow "good" and any deviation from this stasis is "bad"?

    Do you believe that climate is static, consistent and invariable? (There are mountains of data to refute this).

    Do you believe that changes in climate are inherently "bad"? Do you believe that it is possible to differentiate between man-made climatic shifts and naturally occurring climatic shifts? How? Do you believe that a man-made influence on the environment is "worse" than a naturally occurring climatic shift? Why?

    Do you subscribe the puritanical view of causation whereby actions and causations which are man-made, are by definition 'evil'?

  • Re:I am not scared (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TheLink (130905) on Monday July 19, 2010 @02:00AM (#32947952) Journal

    > From the article it sounds as if the issue in questions is water supply and how changing the normal rate of glacial melt could change how people live.

    They may be able to fix that:

    http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-news/4932332-indian-engineer-builds-glaciers-to-fight-climate-change [allvoices.com]

    Quote: As of this year he has built 10 artificial glaciers, using a simple system of pipes and stone dams to pool and direct streams of water into heavily shaded parts of valleys above a given village. During winter the pools become thick ice masses - frozen water tanks for farmers who need reliable summer flows as a hedge against changing weather patterns.

    Some people have done glacier growing for a long time:
    http://www.umb.no/statisk/noragric/publications/master/2007_ingvar_tveiten.pdf [www.umb.no]

    Quote:
    People in the districts of Baltistan and Gilgit practice 'glacier growing' with the intention of
    making glaciers that will enhance water availability. This is done by carrying glacier ice from
    a naturally occurring glacier up to elevations over 4000 m a.s.l., where it is placed in a dug
    out cave in a scree-slope. Apart from the ice, gourds containing water are also added to
    interior of the cave. Then a layer of charcoal, and sawdust or wheat husks is put on top of the
    ice. The workers close off the cave by piling up rocks to cover the entrance.

    Lastly, by growing many glaciers, you can affect the albedo of a mountain, or even a mountainous region and thus affect local climate. Darker mountains absorb more heat and thus lose ice faster, reverse that by making more glaciers and other glaciers could appear without you having to make them directly.

  • by jcochran (309950) on Monday July 19, 2010 @02:03AM (#32947968)

    Sigh. When the global warming people are able to explain just a couple of minor details, then and only then will I believe them. Here are a few little facts that tend to be conveniently omitted when global warming is mentioned.

    1. Yes, there is a definite positive correlation between CO2 levels and global temperatures. Using ice core samples, tree growth rings, etc., this has been confirmed. But the fly in the ointment is that the CO2 levels *lag* the temperature changes by 40 to 50 years. Excuse me? The "cause" of the global warming happens "after" things warm up? That little datum all by its lonesome is rather hard to dispute.

    2. The major greenhouse gas in our atmosphere isn't CO2. It's H2O. Yup, plain old water. The effect of the CO2 is about 1 percent of the overall greenhouse effect. And of that 1%, mankind is contributing a much smaller percentage.

    3. There seems to be some viking farms being uncovered in Greenland. Yup, the glaciers are melting and in the process exposing abandoned farms. Hmm. Seems to me that if there were farms where there's currently glaciers, that would imply it being much warmer in the past.

    4. And finally, the polar ice on Mars seems to be also shrinking. Guess those probes we've sent there have had a massive effect on Mar's temperature as well.

    Seems to me that the global warming crowd have a bit of a secondary agenda running that has nothing what so ever to do with actual global warming. When the above independently verifiable but inconvenient little facts are explained, then I will consider the GW crowd to have done due diligence and be worth listening to. But until then, it's a transparent attempted power grab and quite frankly they can take their propaganda and stuff it into the nearest fireplace. Should make 'em quite happy since paper is carbon neutral and no fossil fuels would be used.

  • by colinrichardday (768814) <colin.day.6@hotmail.com> on Monday July 19, 2010 @02:12AM (#32948004)

    I don't know about Waxman's district, but his cosponsor's (Markey (MA)) district has some very low-lying land (sea-level).

    Let us say, just for the sake of argument, that the AGWers are correct. What do you expect us to do?

    The very raising of the problem may well encourage people to solve it.

    The simple fact is after years of searching we simply haven't found anything with the energy density of oil, and short of wiping out a good 60% of the world's population and going back to a pre-industrial society I don't see anything on the board that will cause any real change.

    And if we do nothing we may suffer that population loss anyway.

  • Re:I am not scared (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Tumbleweed (3706) * on Monday July 19, 2010 @02:19AM (#32948036)

    Is that the main cause of climate change? That is what the real arguments are about.

    There is no real argument among the people who are actually professionals in that particular field. The only arguments I hear are from the aggressively ignorant who claim that anything that is not in the Bible isn't real, and therefore is anti-American. Even claiming that "we don't know" is a lie perpetrated by these wackos.

    The unfortunate part of all this is, it IS too late to stop it. WAY too late. The ending of Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" was interesting, where he said something along the lines of, he wanted to make sure people didn't come away from his documentary thinking it was too late to stop it. He also didn't talk about a lot of things that made his scenario much worse. The permafrost melting in Siberia, which makes things MUCH worse, and several other things around Earth that are happening far faster than even some of the nightmare scenarios climatologists have been talking about. It's WAY too late.

    The problem then becomes, can we use technology to reverse it? Probably so, if we were willing to invest in some sort of global Manhattan-scale project to do something with nanotechnology or some other grandiose not-yet-there technology. But with the current climate of people being misled into thinking that this is even not real, that's NEVER going to happen. It's just not; that's a total fantasy. This may be the Fermi Paradox at work, though I doubt it'll get that bad. We can probably adapt to any Man-made disaster short of total nuclear annihilation. But the population left over may be quite a small fraction of what we have now. Not that Mother Nature would consider that a bad thing. It seems it's time to cull the herd. I'd just rather not be one of the ones culled.

  • Operation Hat (Score:2, Interesting)

    by afabbro (33948) on Monday July 19, 2010 @02:29AM (#32948068) Homepage

    This should really get exciting once the icepack around the lost Operation Hat SNAP reactor melts.

    If you've never heard the story...briefly...in 1965, the US put a spy station in the Himalayas to observe Chinese nuclear tests. It had a SNAP (keg-sized) nuclear reactor as its power source. Unfortunately, it was lost in an avalanche. It's still there, buried under a pile of snow, its plutonium poised over the headwaters of the Ganges...

  • by hsthompson69 (1674722) on Monday July 19, 2010 @02:58AM (#32948164)

    when the correct prediction suggests dire consequences for millions of people who rely on the rivers fed by those glaciers. "Several hundred years" might seem like a long time, but it is a geological blink of an eye. We should be very concerned.

    The problem is that if we take the measures often suggested by warmists, and increase energy prices by eschewing the cheapest forms of energy available to us, we'll drive the poorest of the poor deeper into poverty and despair in several hundred days. If you're willing to assert we should be concerned about the fate of millions of people hundreds of years from now, surely you'll admit that we should be more concerned about millions of people hundreds of days from now, right?

  • by meringuoid (568297) on Monday July 19, 2010 @03:29AM (#32948270)
    None of them have any credibility left, and will never get it back until they condemn instead of defend "Mike's Nature trick".

    Just to be sure you're not a crank: could you explain to us what "Mike's Nature trick" was, what was in "decline" and how it was hidden? I mean, you're not just regurgitating memes from denialist blogs, right? You do actually know what you're talking about, right?

  • by LKM (227954) on Monday July 19, 2010 @03:55AM (#32948390) Homepage

    The only serious actions I know of in regard to global warming are those that will a) make some people some serious money, and b) cause some serious changes in our lifesyles for the worse, i.e. lots of us have to live like peasants

    I've seen a lot of proposals that could help against climate change, but I've never seen one that would turn people into peasants; quite the contrary, they usually involve a ton of technological progress. The countries who would mainly lose out are the ones that are basing their economy on oil—and those people are often already mostly peasants.

  • by nothings (597917) on Monday July 19, 2010 @03:57AM (#32948396) Homepage
    It's true that they're not taken from the same spot, although what you describe could be true of photos taken from the same spot but in slight different directions, or just somebody screwing up the cropping.

    However, comparing the prominent S-curves in the foreground reveals a significant difference in perspective/foreshortening that makes it clear that the color photo is taken from a higher elevation. The distant shapes seem to match pretty well so I don't think it's an aspect-ratio fuck-up, although that would be all too common in this modern world where nobody seems able to notice that effect either.

  • Simplistic Arguments (Score:2, Interesting)

    by LKM (227954) on Monday July 19, 2010 @04:03AM (#32948430) Homepage

    It takes quite a bit of arrogance to believe that humanity can change the Earth's climate that much, that fast

    It takes quite a bit of arrogance to believe that a little virus can kill such a big human that quickly.

    I'm sorry, but the real world doesn't work the way you imply. Nature doesn't care about your simplistic intuition of what's possible; the climate isn't a stable system that requires a lot of input to change in fundamental ways. It's constantly in flux, and small changes can cause the balance to shift in fundamental ways.

  • by rainmouse (1784278) on Monday July 19, 2010 @04:03AM (#32948434)

    The biggest problem with people who deny the massive amounts of evidence pointing towards a significant human effect on global warming tend to be those who are financially benefiting from the alleged destruction of our environment .

    Out of 3,146 scientists surveyed as to if they believed human activity to be of significant contribution to the increase in global temperatures since the 1800's, 82 percent said they did. Interestingly out of the petroleum geologists asked in this survey (who's job is oil exploration) only 47 percent believed.

    (source:http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/americas/01/19/eco.globalwarmingsurvey/index.html)

  • by arivanov (12034) on Monday July 19, 2010 @04:14AM (#32948484) Homepage

    Ice melt is one of the worst indicators imaginable of antropogenous warming. Glaciers, snow and ice are more influenced by the dust we produce than by temperature.

    Up to as recent as the 80-es the industrialized countries have been producing immense amounts of soot from buring coal, diesel, etc.The developing nations (including India) are now the main polluters and they are producing more and more of it. I am not surprised that Asian glaciers are retreating. Considering the complete lack of pollution control in India and China I would be surprised if they were not.

  • Re:I am not scared (Score:2, Interesting)

    by h7 (1855514) on Monday July 19, 2010 @05:06AM (#32948692)

    We only have records for a couple 100 years. Only when we get the data for the other millions of years can we accept your statement as fact.

  • Re:I am not scared (Score:3, Interesting)

    by UnHolier than ever (803328) <unholy_@nOSPaM.hotmail.com> on Monday July 19, 2010 @05:07AM (#32948700)
    To create a picture in your mind:

    86M barrels per day corresponds to ~158 m^3/s.

    This is equivalent to the average discharge of a middlish river. The Shannon, for example, has a discharge of 186 m^3/s. The Potomac has ~300m^3/s on average. The River Thames is only ~65m^3/s.

    So, stand on the London bridge and have a look below. The total usage of oil in the world is twice that, every single second.
  • Re:Hubris? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Pax681 (1002592) on Monday July 19, 2010 @06:22AM (#32948932)

    Even if we didn't do it, it's happening. Even if it isn't happening, pollution and landfill are still major problems we have to solve. Oil is still going to run out.

    This is a huge opportunity. People developing green forms of power generation, better recycling methods and more efficient devices stand to make a fortune selling them to the rest of the world. It also saves us money on petrol and waste disposal services (i.e. local taxes).

    hmmz well have a wee look at this, in general it's about recycling however at 21:45 it specifically goes on about lanfills. you might find it very interesting indeed.

    seems from this that recycling, apart from tin, isn't the benefit most people think and is generally worse environmentally than making from scratch
    Penn and Teller's Bullshit on recycling [veoh.com]
    Lanfills also can be used, as seen here to help generate power from the gases in it. it gets tapped and voila.. a groovy source of electricity.

    if i have got you wrong on what you meant about lanbdfills then sorry bud, howevere it's worth a watch anyways.

  • by hairyfeet (841228) <bassbeast1968@@@gmail...com> on Monday July 19, 2010 @06:45AM (#32949050) Journal

    So your answer is to go "The sky is falling!" and then stand there? How is THAT supposed to help? Here is my own "inconvenient truth"...nobody ATM has even a half assed, much less a comprehensive plan for dealing with AGW. Instead what we have is a bunch of leeches that have figured out a way to cash in on others misery. The ambulance chasers of AGW basically.

    Look, I'm not "for or against" either side here. What I AM against is bullshit and thievery disguised as "being green". ANY plan that is based on "Fuck the west" is doomed to failure, because the west is ALREADY in decline. The USA? We don't make shit anymore, hell I wouldn't be surprised if even our bullets had "Made in China" stamped on them. Europe? Wouldn't be surprised if the EU splits up with Greece and now Ireland circling the bowl.

    And of course cap and trade ignores the twin elephants in the room...India and China, who simply will tell you where to stick it. And notice how old Al Gore and his fellow cap and traders have NOT ONCE demanded heavy tariffs or other protectionist measures to get China and India to comply with carbon caps, why? Because they make massive profits there, that's why!

    So if someone comes up with a real plan, like closing down all coal fired plants and replacing them with a combination of nuclear, wind, molten salt solar, and other long term zero carbon energy sources? I'll be the first one on the bandwagon. But carbon trading is nothing but a scam, a Catholic indulgences scheme cooked up by the same folks that gave you credit default swaps to yet again bleed cash from what little the American people have.

    There is a reason why old Al Gore and the other 1%ers have made 85% of the wealth since '75, while the rest of us get to scrabble over the scraps, and it ain't because they worked harder. It is because, thanks in part to SCOTUS saying "corps=people" and "money=speech" that massive corruption have allowed the 1%ers to bribe...err I mean lobby, the laws to be tilted into their favor time and time again. And now they seek to do the same with a very real problem. Don't let them. If you truly believe in global warming, not this weasel worded climate change bullshit (since when DOESN'T the climate change?) then demand REAL change, not the snake oil Rev Al Gore and his pals on Wall Street are pushing.

  • by turbidostato (878842) on Monday July 19, 2010 @06:46AM (#32949052)

    "No, I don't think it's unrealistic. What IS unrealistic to to blame ONLY man to the exclusion of all other contributing factors, which is what the A in AGW and all the real debate is about."

    I don't think anybody sane would deny there are other forces in the game since it's obvious the climate has changed, quite widely, in times when human activity can certainly be discounted.

    Anyway this is not what I was arguing nor it is the position of those that want to give credit to the option that anthropogenic causes should be considered for changes for about the two last centuries up to the point of considering a trollish straw man even mentioning.

    "This blinkered "it's all mans' fault" is nonsense. It's partly mans' fault at best."

    Up the point that it is maybe at least partially "man's fault" it's all that counts: or have you heard anyone proposing we can do something about sun's emissions variations or rotation angle or any other of the cosmic or Earth-based variations? Since all we can do about is anthropogenic variations all that rests is cost/benefit analysis. And we'd better don't let the energy tycoons (esp. oil tycoons) be the ones to assess such cost/benefit analysis.

    "Will reducing man's contribution in a real way (not Carbon Credits, or other bullshit), have a significant slowing affect considering the input of the above mentioned phenomena ? Again, show me !"

    On one hand it's due diligence. Given that it's certainly worthy the proposition that human beings are able to significantly affect their 13.7 football fields in just a single life timespan and that we have been doing it at an exponential rate for about eight generations we'd better be safe than sorry and start acting now if even "just in case".

    On the other hand, you seem to consider that Sun is so much "bigger" than anything that man can do that it's a bit silly even considering the options (13.7 versus 164,377 football fields or a factor of about a x10000 on your accounts). It's only you should consider two other things:

      1) While Sun is big and hot beyond ordinary human common sense, it's far away beyond human common sense too. The average energy we recieve from Sun taking account for distance, angle and albedo is more or less 106 W/m^2. So Sun's energy finally reaching the Earth is at odds with what is needed to light up an office table (a "traditional" 100W bulb on an office table lamp for a table about a square meter). Not quite impressive expressed that way, uh?
      2) It's not about raw energy as much as catalizer effects: one drop of poison can trash away a full well of fresh water, right?

  • Re:News Flash! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lumpy (12016) on Monday July 19, 2010 @06:55AM (#32949110) Homepage

    Yup most sane people understand that recycling at home is useless (in the separate your crap containers to feel good about yourself) Recycling in general IS effective. Lead recycling is hugely successful and has significantly reduced the need for mining new lead. Steel and metals recycling is hugely sucessful, almost all foundries use scrap metal in their furnaces. Plastics recycling makes us that horribly overpriced plastic decking that the rich people use to feel good on their new 6800 sq foot 8 bedroom home for 2, but there are other things that are real uses like fleece.. just don't get it near open flame as that crap goes up faster than gasoline soaked rags...

    Composting at home is recycling that does work well.

    Recycling works, it is that feel good, separate your trash, recycling at the curb that is fake. In fact more could be done to help the environment by having these feel good yuppie environmentalists STOP drinking bottled water. Bottled water is really bad for the environment as most bottling plants destroy the aquifer for the area they tap into for the real spring water.... The rest is just city water put in plastic bottles that are not recycled if you don't take the cap and ring off. because the makers are too stupid to make the cap and bottle out of the same plastic. Well not too stupid, it's on purpose... Cheapest price is far more important that recyclability.

  • by Vintermann (400722) on Monday July 19, 2010 @07:13AM (#32949234) Homepage

    And notice how old Al Gore and his fellow cap and traders have NOT ONCE demanded heavy tariffs or other protectionist measures to get China and India to comply with carbon caps, why? Because they make massive profits there, that's why!

    Nearly. I don't know how much Al Gore personally makes from polluting in China, but no matter how much it was it would be a small share of all the money being made by polluting in China. That money is hard to fight against politically, tempting politicans to choose easier paths.

    By the way, there is at least one prominent climate scientist in this debate [wikipedia.org], who is railing against politicians like Gore for taking the easy path, and stating that the political influence of money is the largest problem in fighting global warming.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 19, 2010 @07:18AM (#32949284)

    What he's referring to is that if you don't get some conclusions similar to the ones they're looking for in the grants, you won't get more money along those lines- and possibly elsewhere.

    Grant funded research really isn't very good research in that it's politics, not science, that really drives what is getting done and reported.

  • Re:News Flash! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ultranova (717540) on Monday July 19, 2010 @07:28AM (#32949362)

    What percentage of the information here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice_age [wikipedia.org] must we ignore in order to make our current interglacial period all our fault?

    It doesn't matter who's fault it is; what matters is what consequences it has for us, and what can we do about it if - as is likely - the consequences are bad.

    How conceited do we have to be in order to come to the conclusion that we can: A) Determine the optimal level of glaciation and,

    Optimal level of glaciation from our point of view is what our infrastructure is built for, which of course would be the current one, or the one a few decades back.

    B) Determine the means by which to stabilize the climate of the earth so as to maintain this level?

    Now this is an interesting question. In the long term the most effective means would likely be to control the amount of sunlight that reaches Earth with space-based sunshades and mirors, but right now we don't really have many tools besides controlling the levels of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere.

  • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Monday July 19, 2010 @08:03AM (#32949698)
    As you demonstrate, those who benefit financially from believing in AGW, do so (the scientists, take a look at how much money has been poured into climate science in the last few years, and how much of it went to scientists who are skeptical of AGW vs how much went to strident supporters of AGW) and those who benefit from not believing in AGW do not. Unfortunately, that doesn't tell the rest of us which is correct.
    However, the real question is, is it more efficient to spend money ameliorating the negative affects (sorry if I got the wrong one of those two words, I always have trouble with them) of global warming or to try and stop it?
  • Re:I am not scared (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Vintermann (400722) on Monday July 19, 2010 @08:10AM (#32949788) Homepage

    I for one like the climate conditions on Earth in which civilization arose. If that's threatened by natural climate change one day, I'll suppose my descendants can decide how to deal with it, if at all. Hopefully it might be gradual enough for adaption.

    But it's not natural change which is a threat to our civilization-friendly climate today. Nor is it necessarily gradual enough for adaption without great human suffering.

    My actions aren't by definition evil, but taking responsibility for them means realizing the possibility that they could be.

  • Further (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sycodon (149926) on Monday July 19, 2010 @08:25AM (#32949972)

    In fact, I'll take the analogy even further.

    The reason anyone feels the need to declare their environmentalist bonfides is because there is a new bigotry developing, which I will ball the EnviroBigot. This is a person who feels others who do not show the appropriate amount of deference to the "Environment" is any one or all of Stupid, Selfish, Evil.

    It allows EnviroBigots to discount policy arguments with a simple dismissals such as "oh, he drives an SUV", or "ignore what he says, he works for Big (Insert most currently reviled industry here)". It saves the EnviroBigot the need to think critically and re-enforces the echo chamber that they call debate.

    So everyone get ready. Soon you won't be able to say squat about the environment without first declaring that you are a "friend" to the environment.

    Here are some handy dandy phrases you can use...

    "I recycle, but I don't think I should have to pay a fine if I miss a can in the trash."

    "I really support Alternative Energy, In fact, I have a solar array on my roof. But I think that at this time Nuclear Power is the best bet to reduce carbon emissions"

    "I drive a car that gets 1000 miles per gallon and I never use the A/C, but we really do need to keep drilling for oil because it is used for so many other things than just fuel."

  • by scorp1us (235526) on Monday July 19, 2010 @10:27AM (#32951518) Journal

    The problem is everyone sees ice loss, and assumes melt. It's not melt, it is sublimation.

    Sublimation - when solid goes directly to gas is to blame. This is like water ice on Mars evaporating (not melting) into the martian atmosphere. Here on Earth the increased sublimation is caused by land use changes. What was once moist forest at the feet of the mountains, has become drier farm land. This drier air then travels over the mountain and picks up moisture directly from the ice.

    How else can you explain ice loss at below-freezing temperatures? You can't just say the "ice melted" unless you show that it is warmer at the peak. These pictures are proof that man is modifying the environment, but only locally, and has nothing to do with temperature.

  • I call bullshit (Score:3, Interesting)

    by 2names (531755) on Monday July 19, 2010 @10:56AM (#32951886)
    6)Has to be able to support thousands of pounds while filled with liquid without breaking or deforming (this isn't an exaggeration. Cases of water will be stacked 6 or 7 tall on a pallet then two or three more full pallets will be stacked on top of that.)

    A friend of mine owns the local Culligan water business. I have been in the warehouse many times and have NEVER seen one water bottle holding up 5 or 6 layers of cases of water on its own. In fact, each layer of the pallets have always contained [gasp] the SAME NUMBER OF WATER BOTTLES, which means if the cases are stacked 7 high, each bottle on the bottom only needs to hold up the weight of 6 water bottles and a little extra weight from cardboard and plastic packaging, which doesn't amount to much. Even if you do stack pallets 3 high of 7 layers, each bottle on the bottom layers is probably holding up roughly 30 lbs, which is much less than your "thousands of pounds" claim.

    I should probably tell my friend to let the rest of the bottled water industry know that they no longer have to balance 6 layers of cases of water onto a single bottle. It gets tricky moving those stacks around with a skid loader.
  • by sean.peters (568334) on Monday July 19, 2010 @12:00PM (#32952834) Homepage

    Now this is an interesting question. In the long term the most effective means would likely be to control the amount of sunlight that reaches Earth with space-based sunshades and mirors, but right now we don't really have many tools besides controlling the levels of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere.

    There are a lot of problems with sunshade methods of climate control. The most realistic methods involve putting reflective particles (sulfates or water droplets) into the stratosphere.

    • These methods reduce the earth's average temperature, but (per modeling) still result in significant warmups in polar regions (they work by slowing down warming in equatorial regions). Problem: ocean currents are driven mainly by temperature differences between the warm equator and cold poles. If this temperature differential continues to be reduced, do the currents slow down or stop? If that happens, do the oceans become stagnant? Do they continue to produce sufficient O2, etc? No one knows.
    • This does nothing to address another problem with high CO2 in the atmosphere: ocean acidification (sulfates might even make the problem worse, as they're acidic). We know that molluscs can't build their shells below a certain pH... if there's a massive mollusc die-off, what does that mean for the ocean ecosystem? No one knows. Are there other bad effects? No one knows.
    • These methods worsen a less remarked-upon phenomenon: global dimming [wikipedia.org]. Sounds funny, but the amount of light reaching the earth's surface has been gradually decreasing since measurements started to be taken in the 50's. There are real concerns that crops that require intense light (example: tomatoes) may suffer productivity losses. Are there other ecological effects? No one knows.
    • Once you start with these methods, you're stuck: if you ever stop, all the warming you were holding at bay comes back with a vengeance, in a period of a few years. Catastrophic doesn't begin to describe it. There's also the danger that people will act as if the problem is solved and go back to profligate use of fossil fuel, causing warming to worsen again.

    I won't even bother discussing space umbrellas and the like. If we can't afford to switch to green energy, we really can't afford these. It's pretty much pie-in-the-sky.

    Bottom line: the whole idea of geoengineering on this scale is a giant exercise in "what could possibly go wrong?" Trying to do this on the only planet you have to live on is not much short of crazy. We know the cause of global warming, and we know how to mitigate it - burn less carbon. So why don't we just get started?

  • Re:News Flash! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Artifakt (700173) on Monday July 19, 2010 @12:38PM (#32953260)

    So long as 'Man-made' and 'Supernatural' are both common antonyms to 'Natural', natural is a word to use very cautiously. On Slashdot, it's also most frequently misused by the very same people who misuse 'Rational' to mean 'Reasonable', and 'Logical' to mean 'Scientific' (and various combinations of these). (In the wider world, 'natural' is as often misused by the same people who aren't clear about the differences between 'illegal' and 'immoral' - that seems less frequent around here).
          As a preternaturalist, all this bugs me enough to hope something with tentacles does some pruning.

  • Re:News Flash! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tbannist (230135) on Monday July 19, 2010 @04:19PM (#32956546)

    Also, it should be noted that Penn and Teller sometimes miss obvious things because they don't properly research before debunking. For instance, I'm betting they totally missed the fact that recycling (at least here) is a municipal program and the people who do the recycling make money because they are contracted to do the work. The municipality probably looses money on the actual recycling but that's not the goal of the program. It's about saving money on landfill, by diverting significant amounts of garbage (I think my city has hit a 50% diversion rate) the municipal government doesn't have to use as much landfill space and that saves a lot of money on building new dumps or transporting garbage to other dumps.

  • by ultranova (717540) on Monday July 19, 2010 @07:06PM (#32958492)

    Bottom line: the whole idea of geoengineering on this scale is a giant exercise in "what could possibly go wrong?" Trying to do this on the only planet you have to live on is not much short of crazy.

    That being the reason why I said it's a long-term solution :). The thing is, the Sun is slowly but surely getting hotter due to its evolution in the Main Series, so eventually we must do this if we wish to keep Earth habitable. Of course it'll be a few million years more, but still... In a way we evolved in the last possible moment.

    We know the cause of global warming, and we know how to mitigate it - burn less carbon. So why don't we just get started?

    The Libertarians are against it because it'll require government regulation to force power producers to bear the external costs. The Conservatists are against it because it might lessen corporate profits. The Greens are against nuclear power, thus forcing us to keep using polluting oil and coal instead. Everyone is against windmills at sea because they "spoil the view".

    Basically, any attempt to transfer to green power has to fight both the oh-so-fashionable right-wing ideologue and corporate lobbyists, and then run the gauntlet of NIMBY. It's hopeless. We'd better just get used to live with a superwarm planet, and energy shortage once oil runs out. Any attempt to do something about it runs against the brick wall of the usual assholes, both well-meaning and malicious.

    I can only hope that humanity survives long enough to get over its fear of nuclear power, and uses it to colonizes a few other planets, to serve as our springboard to the stars. The other choice is that we die, and Earth dies once Sun gets bright enough.

    I also hope there's a special place in Hell for BP executives and Greenpeace members both.

  • Re:News Flash! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Vintermann (400722) on Tuesday July 20, 2010 @02:49AM (#32961116) Homepage

    Ask yourself why would someone want to compare the rate of change of temperature to the rate of change of CO2?

    It's not even obvious how those are expected to corellate. Why not look at temperature and CO2 levels directly?

    Because the results from that would be too hard to weasel away from. But if you have a noisy dataset, you are a lot less likely to be able to prove correlation between the derivatives. Thus you get the lack of conclusion that you want.

    This retreat to the derivative is a special case of the general denialist strategy (not only in climate change, but in everything exposed to political hackery): If you throw out enough data, the results become "inconclusive".

    Taking a needless derivative or two is an easy way to throw away data. It looks impressively mathy, too.

    The choice of the Sargasso sea as the one and only reliable climate proxy is another example of throwing out data. This simple variant is what we call cherry picking.

Never tell people how to do things. Tell them WHAT to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity. -- Gen. George S. Patton, Jr.

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