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Doubling of CO2 Not So Tragic After All?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 09, 2010 @01:05AM (#34497202)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ocean_acidification stop calling the huge change taking place "global warming" that make it sounds like nice cozy sauna. The effects are much more complicated.

  • Hopefully (Score:2, Insightful)

    by baresi (950718) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @01:07AM (#34497208) Homepage
    Hopefully reports like this are taken as good news not fuel for the skeptics and deniers. Good news because we have a better chance and perhaps more time at managing with increased CO2
  • by Rockoon (1252108) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @01:13AM (#34497242)
    All of those previous models are crap, but so too is this one most likely crap.

    None of the climate models have shown skill at prediction, which is the only objective measure by which to conclude that a model is not crap.

    Until they can do that, its crazy to formulate policy based on model results. You wouldnt get in an airplane designed by model results as crappy as these.
  • Re:Hopefully (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 09, 2010 @01:16AM (#34497264)

    Hopefully reports like this are taken as good news not fuel for the skeptics and deniers.

    Doublethink detected!

    So the deniers are always wrong? Even when the proponents change their models to reveal that they were right?

  • Re:Hopefully (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Robert Bowles (2733) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @01:16AM (#34497268)

    Skepticism, I'd argue, is inherently good. Being environmentally conscientious should be a result of good science to be meaningful, not of being on the populist "team green". The moment we take a critical eye off our own views is the moment that our causes lose meaning.

  • by QuantumG (50515) * <qg@biodome.org> on Thursday December 09, 2010 @01:19AM (#34497300) Homepage Journal

    Yah! Finally! Some is asking the right question. Here are the wrong questions:

    1) Is the climate warming or cooling?
    2) Are humans responsible?

    Here are the right questions:

    3) What's going to happen that's so bad we have to "do something about" now?
    4) When is that going to happen?

    Maybe you need to answer the first two questions to answer the last two but if no-one is asking the last two then we're likely to run off half-cocked and implement political policy that does more harm than good. (see, for example, cap and trade).

  • Re:Hopefully (Score:3, Insightful)

    by baresi (950718) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @01:28AM (#34497348) Homepage
    You deduced 'always' from my one liner? Any way...No. to answer your question The point is there is plenty of evidence that it is happening, varying degrees of urgency or lack thereof does not change the overall message and science
  • by MacTO (1161105) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @01:31AM (#34497368)
    I don't care if the models are good or if they're bad. This is because I was brought up to believe that every action we take has consequences. Some of those consequences may be bad. Some of those consequences may be good. But something happens as the result of our actions. Now if the models are good and they're predicting nasty consequences, then clearly we must act otherwise people will die and there will be mass migrations of displaced populations that will come knocking at our doors. But some argue that the models are wrong, or that they are inconclusive, or that they are inconsistent with each other. Clearly the scientists don't know what they are talking about, so we can safely ignore them. WRONG. Just because we don't understand the consequences doesn't mean that those consequences don't exist. And if you have the choice between unknown consequences (bad *or* good) and the status-quo, then you should seriously consider the status-quo. After all, our world may be imperfect but at least we know that we can survive in it. Usually.
  • Re:Hopefully (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DerekLyons (302214) <fairwater@gmail. c o m> on Thursday December 09, 2010 @01:32AM (#34497382) Homepage

    This. Someone afraid of skeptics, and lumping them with the deniers, is someone pushing a religion, not someone interested in science.

  • Re:Good! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Abcd1234 (188840) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @01:38AM (#34497398) Homepage

    Err... you mean the models the conspiracy theorists like to believe exist, which would link solar activity to global warming? The ones that would've predicted a decline in the warming trend over the last solar minimum. A decline that, well, didn't happen?

    *Those* models?

  • by CaptainPatent (1087643) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @01:46AM (#34497432) Journal
    Climate models != Weather models.

    Weather models (which can easily be objectively checked via existing and coming weather patterns) are an attempt to describe the weather on small scale in great detail)

    Climate models (which cannot easily be objectively checked via weather data) are an attempt to describe the average weather in an area over a large period of time. The only evidence for or against is over periods of hundreds to thousands of years as regional or even global averages.

    The simple fact is climate models have not existed long enough for them to be checked with any great statistical significance, and they are at a huge disadvantage from human nature because people use weather fallacies to discredit climate all the time.

    Just because a climate model predicts lower-than-normal wind patterns, doesn't mean the windiest day on record for isolated regions can't happen during that period without invalidating the model. Just because a climate model predicts periods of colder-than-normal climates, doesn't mean the hottest day on record for isolated locations can't occur during that period without invalidating the model. Just because a climate model predicts cloudier-than-normal patterns, doesn't mean the sunniest stretch of weather on record for some regions can't occur during that period without invalidating the model.

    This is exactly what happens on a daily basis though. We have an idea that short-term climate models are getting closer and some are more accurate than others, but we don't have enough data to show statistical significance to even decade-length climate models. If you get to century-or-greater climate models, we have historical data and estimations to work off of, but no empirical "check" data to work off of.

    The mere suggestion that climate models are not accurately predicting shows you are suffering from this exact same fallacious logic.
  • Re:Hopefully (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gustgr (695173) <rondina AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday December 09, 2010 @01:48AM (#34497454) Homepage

    It's happening all right, but I still have my doubts if it is happening due to man or if it's part of some unknown cycle of Earth which is too complicated for us to grasp yet.

  • by Black Parrot (19622) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @01:52AM (#34497474)

    3) What's going to happen that's so bad we have to "do something about" now?

    Climate is going to shift; species are going to go extinct; agricultural and hydraulic "haves" are going to become "have-nots", and vice versa; nations will have new things to fight about; we're going to have to move all our coastal cities to higher ground; maybe a few other odds and ends.

    4) When is that going to happen?

    It's in progress now. Don't know when the shooting is going to start, but the effects seem to consistently outrun the predictions, so you should expect the shooting to start sooner rather than later.

  • Re:Hopefully (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gadget_Guy (627405) * on Thursday December 09, 2010 @01:57AM (#34497514)

    So the deniers are always wrong? Even when the proponents change their models to reveal that they were right?

    Who has been proven to be correct? Which deniers have ever stated that doubling CO2 will result in a 1.64C rise? I doubt anyone has said that before. Instead we get a range of responses, such as:

    • an increase in CO2 doesn't result in an increase in temperature
    • the Earth is actually cooling
    • temperature rises precede CO2 rises
    • it's all natural and not man-made

    You can't keep guessing at a thousand different outcomes and then claim success when one of those guesses comes true. It is just not scientific. It is the same as trying to claim you have ESP because you can accurately predict the outcome of a coin toss 50% of the time.

  • Re:Hopefully (Score:3, Insightful)

    by icebike (68054) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @01:59AM (#34497524)

    Well actually, it would seem the overall message and the science will have changed rather significantly if this study proves close to the mark.

    With a couple more centuries before dangerous warming takes place the situation changes drastically. Alternative energy supplies and improvements in scrubbing technology have time to advance in two hundred years. (And the increasing cost and scarcity of fossil fuels might have something to do with it as well).

    To say nothing of the modeling capability.

    (This is not the first suggestion that plant respiration was inadequately modeled, poorly understood, or simply left out all together. Prior objections were shouted down as delusional objections of deniers. But NASA and NOAA (under a democratic president) are harder to silence.)

    Increased evaporation from the oceans, and the resultant rain, may also start to arrest desertification, adding to the effect modeled by these studies.

     

  • by TapeCutter (624760) * on Thursday December 09, 2010 @02:07AM (#34497590) Journal
    The existing cap and trade system for sulpur emmissions implemented (and personally spearheaded) by Ronald Regan in the early 1990's has been an outstanding sucess at reducing acid rain. The scheme is international, based on sound science and free market ideals, I don't see what's to dislike other than paying more for your electricity if you choose a provider that insists on using antiquated technology.

    The four questions you raise have been discussed ad-nausem for the last 20yrs, your "finally" comment only serves to demonstrates you haven't been paying attention to the science or the politics.
  • Re:Hopefully (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tenchikaibyaku (1847212) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @02:09AM (#34497608)
    Skepticism is good. Denial in face of a mountain of evidence is not.
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @02:10AM (#34497618) Homepage Journal

    No, the only worthwhile question is:

    If we stop spewing so much CO2 (and equivalent) into the sky, will the climate stop changing as rapidly as it has been the past few decades?

    We have absolutely no science that says "No", and plenty that says "Yes". Reducing our GHG emissions will protect the relative stability of the climate upon which our civilization depends. With far better certainty that we ask to do anything else we do on the scale of the globe or billions of people.

  • Re:Hopefully (Score:4, Insightful)

    by IICV (652597) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @02:28AM (#34497684)

    I've yet to see an anthropogenic global warming "skeptic" who wasn't just a denier JAQing [rationalwiki.org] off. I mean seriously, what is there to be skeptical about? What part of the IPCC Working Group 1 report is wrong? The Earth is getting warmer, it's due to our carbon emissions, and all that's left to argue about is what the impact will be.

    You can kinda sorta be "skeptical" about how negative of an impact that will be, but again I've yet to see anyone who's managed to make a good argument that more carbon and warmer average temperatures will somehow be good for us in general. And no, "carbon is plant food!" [youtube.com] is not a good argument.

  • by TheTurtlesMoves (1442727) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @02:48AM (#34497784)
    Of course airplanes are wind tunnel tested to the tune of millions of dollars after the simulations to check the results. Then prototypes are built and tested to the tune of millions of dollars. If the models were soo good this wouldn't be needed. But it is. Also the scale of the "climate simulation problem" makes them somewhat incomparable really.

    Fact is that these climate models have a *lot* more uncertainty over decades and centuries that is presented in the media. Its presented as fact, a simulation result is *not* a fact, its a prediction with assumptions. These models don't even make clear prediction about whats going to happen really, yet we are all going to get flooded and turned into desert at the same time. Negative feedback loops are just not mentioned, and if you do someone shouts "denier" and feels they just won an argument.

    Yes the models we have are as good as it gets, but the confidence is way over sold, and any correction ends up being so politically charged that it *does* discredit the science in the public eye.
  • by j1m+5n0w (749199) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @02:55AM (#34497806) Homepage Journal
    Be that as it may, the level of carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere has risen from about about 280 parts per million before the industrial revolution, to about 380 ppm at present. The burden of proof is on those who believe that that's not going to have a noticeable impact to make their case, and if their conclusions are at all in doubt, the path of prudence is to not rock the boat, and do what we can to cut back on CO2 emissions.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 09, 2010 @03:03AM (#34497838)

    If an industry of trillions of dollars is built around something which has not been proved, then those taking in the trillions should have the burden of proof on their backs.

  • Re: Hopefully (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Black Parrot (19622) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @03:13AM (#34497878)

    Without ideology we wouldn't have the scientific method.

    I find it strange that people think the scientific method is based on a philosophy or ideology. What scientists do is no different from what us common folk do when we debug a program or try to fix a mechanical system: you notice something funny (program gives wrong result, car won't start, water rising in basement) so you or the called-in expert speculates on the cause and then proceed on the basis of that speculation. If the facts don't bear it out, you pause, scratch your head and come up with a new speculation. Repeat as needed.

    AFAICT even the most uneducated of us operate the same way in whatever we do. I suspect it's instinct, or at least such a basic result of the exercise of intelligence that no intelligent species could avoid operating that way.

  • by Man On Pink Corner (1089867) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @03:21AM (#34497916)

    I've got a better idea. If an economy of trillions of dollars is threatened by something which has not been proven, then those doing the threatening should bear the burden of proof.

    (Or, as a famous environmentalist once said, "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.")

  • by SnarfQuest (469614) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @03:31AM (#34497976)

    And I say that lowering the levels of CO2 will cause fairies to explode into flower scented farts. The burden of proof is on you to prove that it won't happen. Or do you want all the fairies to die?

    Why should we have to prove your speculations false, when you have no proof that they are true? You are the ones making such wild claims. The best you have are computer models with failed predictions, like the Arctic completely melting by 2006. Your "proof" that CO2 has anything to do with temperature, is that you took a vote (consensus) on it. Sorry, that isn't proof of any kind. If I got a group a school children (student scientists) to vote that pi was 12, would that really make it true?

    This sort of reverse proof is how religions work, not science. Until you stop praying to Algore and try to understand what is actually going on, you will be unable to do anything about it. You might as well just throw your favorite spouse and children into the nearest volcano. It would probably solve more problems than anything else you are doing.

  • Re:Hopefully (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Moridineas (213502) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @03:46AM (#34498044) Journal

    You can't keep guessing at a thousand different outcomes and then claim success when one of those guesses comes true.

    I guess my question for you is, why is it so important to you that the factions be in lockstep and monolithic thinkers? The science is not settled, and I don't think ANYBODY would argue that we have an even remotely complete understanding of environment/climate. Not all the "deniers" as you choose to call them believe the same thing. This is pretty standard for any academic field...and what's wrong with that? Furthermore, of your propositions, are any of them mutually exclusive?

    For instance, nobody at all argues that human industry has not emitted CO2 over the last 200 years... but how much compared to natural sources? Some people argue that point. Is that mutually exclusive with CO2 not impacting temperature as a causal factor? Are either of those in opposition to CO2 levels responding to global temperature changes? Obviously if those are your arguments, they're not inconsistent with each other.

    I read "skeptic" blogs and "established science" blogs on climate change, and frankly I don't know enough to judge much of any of the science, math, or methodology on the merits. I do see a lot of behavior that makes me skeptical about members on both sides. Climate Audit I think has jumped the shark, but the blog's purpose--to get scientists to open up their data, code, and methodology seems perfectly reasonable, and objections (or, the way SOME scientists have responded) to those things do make me question motivations, etc.

  • Sadly (Score:4, Insightful)

    by turkeyfish (950384) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @04:07AM (#34498138)

    There is nothing absolutely nothing in the paper that suggests that the authors have studied any plants at all. They merely extrapolate an effect based on some very large assumptions that plants everywhere can be represented by a few simple parameters in their model. A look at most of the arid regions of the world, demonstrate that these assumptions are wildly optimistic. Ground cover in these regions is shrinking dramatically due to lack of soil moisture.

  • Re:Hopefully (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bhiestand (157373) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @04:28AM (#34498206) Journal

    Not only that, but there is absolutely no evidence for the involvement of CO2 in 'it.'

    Wrong. There is plenty of evidence, you just disregard it and consider it invalid.

    correlation does not imply causation, it implies connection.

    Right. Only we have a lot more than correlation.

    Let's look at four steps for demonstrating causality:

    1. Temporal ordering? Check. CO2 increase came before temperatures started exceeding their normal variance.

    2. Correlation? Check. Temperatures continued to increase, as predicted, with minor variation and regression towards the mean, but that mean continually increased with corresponding CO2 (actually, GHG) increases.

    3. Causal Mechanism? Check. Radiative forcing is firmly established, as is the physics and other interactions that back this theory up. We have a lot of very solid work in this area, and our observations match our predictions. If anything, our predictions are overly conservative because our assumptions are so conservative.

    4. Eliminate Confounding Variables? Check. We've eliminated every other theory/hypothesis to explain temperature rise. We know the current temperature rises are abnormal and differ from previous changes. We know it's not due to solar variation or (heresy) a decrease in pirates. There may be another confounding variable out there, but nobody has found it or made a serious scientific case in its favor.

  • Re:Hopefully (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bhiestand (157373) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @04:50AM (#34498292) Journal

    I guess my question for you is, why is it so important to you that the factions be in lockstep and monolithic thinkers?

    Speaking for myself, not the GP, but my main complaint is that most of the deniers I've interacted with aren't even in lockstep with themselves. They vacillate between arguing that the planet is cooling, that the planet is warming naturally due to solar cycles, and that the rising temperatures are causing rising CO2. If you point out the flaws in their argument, many will go on to claim that it's all a socialist conspiracy to redistribute wealth, restrict freedom, and get more research money.

    My main concern is that the majority of deniers DON'T seem to have a cohesive, intellectually honest argument. Their most outspoken leaders frequently misrepresent both science and politics (ala "Climate Gate").

    Not all the "deniers" as you choose to call them believe the same thing. This is pretty standard for any academic field...and what's wrong with that?

    Other than my point above, I'll also add that very few of the deniers actually currently do research related to the field. I've seen some very prominent MDs and electrical engineers argue that climate scientists are clueless, but within the field there is very little variance. The vast majority of papers I've seen on the subject say, "Oh, I agree with your methodology and conclusions, but you got this little piece slightly off. You need to reconsider this little piece of your model and make an adjustment of 0.003 here." If anything, the field itself is far less divided than many others.

    For instance, nobody at all argues that human industry has not emitted CO2 over the last 200 years... but how much compared to natural sources? Some people argue that point.

    All available evidence shows that they are wrong. We have multiple lines of evidence, and all signs point towards the preponderance of CO2 and GHG level increases being caused by human activities.

    ...and frankly I don't know enough to judge much of any of the science, math, or methodology on the merits.

    Hey, now we can agree! Very few people know enough to judge the conclusions of a multidisciplinary area like climate modeling. Those who DO know enough are already working in the field. Even retired climatologists may not be trustworthy sources because they may not be keeping up with modern advances ("The evidence sucked when I retired in 1980, therefore it must be false.").

    Knowing this, we usually look at a consensus. Every good survey or report I've ever seen has shown an overwhelming consensus within the field that anthropogenic climate change is real. Every survey/petition/letter I've seen proclaiming the opposite has been flawed by including MDs, EEs, DDSs, and other "sciencey" fields to gather more signatures.

    Even ignoring a consensus, the conservative approach is to limit emissions until you know with high confidence that emissions are safe. People are trying to establish a 1% confidence level for AGW when they should really be establishing a 1% confidence level for emissions being safe.

  • Re:Hopefully (Score:2, Insightful)

    by DarkOx (621550) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @05:02AM (#34498334) Journal

    I am sorry but this is what the skeptics have been saying all along. It basically comes down to the science is not good enough to make decisions with, these are theories they are mere hypotheses that are constantly being disproven or modified.

    Its not fair to ask people to upend their lives based on this stuff. Its not far to hardworking Americans to transfer up to 1.5% of our GDP to the UN due to climate change, without even a promise it will be spent on that. That is what the Obama Admin is well on its way to agreeing to do.

    Proponents of Climate change are just political tools. It has nothing to do with science or saving the planet, its all about pushing their socialist agenda. If you can't see that you are a tool

  • Re:Mod parent up! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by turkeyfish (950384) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @05:18AM (#34498384)

    There is no coming ice age. As the arctic warms one can expect the jet stream to become more unstable and with warming there is a lot more moisture in the air. While Scotts are suffering because of their proximity to the North Sea from too much snow, Russians are having a relatively mild time of it. If one looks at the global average, last year was tied for the hottest ever recorded during human history.

  • by Japher (887294) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @05:46AM (#34498516)

    Did you read the article? It said exactly that increased levels of CO2 will be mitigated by increased growth of green plant life, and that the current models are too aggressive in their estimations of negative effects. And this report was not from the oil industry, but from NASA and NOAA, both of whom have been vocal supporters of existing global warming models. Why did you immediately dismiss this new report in favor of scientists who lived one hundred years ago?

    Why is it that when someone questions evidence of human caused global warming, he's labeled a "denier" (a term which was intentionally chosen to evoke images of Holocost Denial, by the way) but when someone questions evidence that it's not as bad as previously though, he's not just doing the right thing?

    The bottom line is that we don't really know what's going on. Ignoring evidence that doesn't support your claims is just bad science.

  • by nyctopterus (717502) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @06:01AM (#34498578) Homepage

    Uh huh, and I suppose you're a published researcher in a relevant field, and have published rebuttals to all the peer reviewed research that says ocean acidification is a result of increased atmospheric CO2?

    No?

    Better get on that.

  • Re: Hopefully (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mcvos (645701) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @06:35AM (#34498724)

    True, but that doesn't mean that previous scientific conclusions will be completely refuted. Newton's Law of Gravity turned out to be wrong and was replaced, but in practice their predictions are 99% the same. It's only that 1% that required a better theory. The Theory of Evolution has seen a lot of refinements over the past 150 years, but the basics stand. We don't fully understand all the effects and feedback mechanisms behind global warming, but the basic theory that rising CO2 means retaining more heat, is sound.

  • by Genda (560240) <mariet@got.nERDOSet minus math_god> on Thursday December 09, 2010 @06:36AM (#34498730) Journal

    This is exactly right, sequestering energy in a highly complex system with millions or billions of feedback loops, produces effects which are difficult to predict and are not intuitive. Increasing energy causes chaotic change. The Thermodynamicist Prigogine spoke of dissipative structures. Adding energy to steady state systems has little effect as the system absorbs the energy up to it's limit, and which point the system becomes perturbed, and goes into chaotic fluctuation (and continues to do so until it arrives at the next steady state.)

    Ocean acidification is reflective of a fundamental change in global environment. The "Rise of Slime" [sciencedaily.com] is a powerful indication that the chemistry and biology of our oceans is going through a revolutionary transformation. Even fresh water lakes are showing increasing signs of anaerobic bacterial growth, expanding growth of both cyanobacteria and blue green algae, and acidification.

    The accurate term now is climate and ecological change. The wise woods-man knows not to defecate close to where he masticates. It's time the species got that lesson, and stopped using the world we rely on as a toilet. The growing changes indicate wild swings and a system slipping into chaos.

  • Plenty (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @06:59AM (#34498826)

    The climate change thing is sold as a whole package, a "You believe all of this or you are a DENIER!" kind of thing. However it is really a series of arguments, and at each level someone might have questions. Even some of the basics there can be some questions about. I mean the most basic is "The Earth is getting warmer, outside of any currently known cycles and over a longer period of time." Ok, pretty strong evidence here, but still there is things to look in to. The temperature recording stations have not been controlled and monitored the way we might hope, the record is not as accurate as we would like. Probably nothing that affects any results but in good science you don't write shit off just because it might be inconvenient. That doesn't mean "Look we found a potential inaccuracy, throw it all out!" but it also doesn't mean that questions shouldn't be looked in to.

    A bigger things to question would be all the dire predictions, that a couple degrees in temperature rise leads to massive problems, massive loss of life and so on. This really doesn't have any good evidence and is pretty close to fear mongering. Yes I'm aware there are computer models, appreciate that means nothing. You can make a computer model to say whatever you want, a model is only good if it accurately models things, if it has proven predictive power. There is a lot to question in the "Warming means our DOOM," part of the argument.

    An even bigger question would be that in the case that is correct, that cutting emissions is the thing to do. The reason is best as we can tell the Earth has been much warmer, and colder, in the past than it is now. So real good chance that happens again, to think that we are in some magic time of stability where all variation has stopped would be extremely silly. Thus sooner or later, no matter what we do, the temperature will almost certainly shift multiple degrees. If that is truly going to be deadly to us, then the concentration needs to not be on what is causing this change, but how to survive such a change. It does no good to make drastic cuts to emissions and stop this change (presuming that it would indeed stop this change) only to then get hit with a change that humans DIDN'T cause and thus can't stop.

    You can very well accept many of the fundamental ideas (like that the Earth is getting warmer) and yet still question the conclusions and policy propositions. This idea that it is part and parcel, that you have to accept EVERYTHING, all the premises, all the conclusions and all the policy without question or your are a DENIER is false. It also leads one to question what the hell is going on. A student of human behaviour immediately recognizes that tactic: That of a con man. That is how people peddling fake crap, religions, and other things that don't stand up to scrutiny do it. They present their show and shout down anyone who questions it at all. They attack people who question because they know their argument does not stand up to questioning. Only blind acceptance of the entire package is acceptable, anything else draws hostility.

    As such one may wonder why this is done with regards to climate change. It makes some of us nervous.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 09, 2010 @07:34AM (#34498988)

    The paper you mention cites numerous [informaworld.com] studies [informaworld.com] supporting the models of the IPCC. Additionally, it isn't without it's own critics [realclimate.org].

    In other words: No, not end of story. I'm not dismissing the paper, as I'm not qualified to do so, but this certainly does not prove the claim: "Models are garbage".

  • Re:Hopefully (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheUglyAmerican (767829) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @07:47AM (#34499026)
    The science has been overcome by the politics. Let's take anthropogenic global warming as fact. What next? Obviously the offending anthropogenic behavior must be controlled. This leads to an increase in wealth and power for a select few; the natural evolution of institutions.

    At this point I don't care about the science. The politics must be stopped.

    When big government and big science collude, we all get screwed.
  • by Burnhard (1031106) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @07:58AM (#34499072)
    In Climate Science, "peer review" is more a guarantee that spelling errors have been corrected and that the gate-keepers are keeping the journal "on message" than it is a guarantee of correct methodology and/or conclusions. Two examples spring to mind: Mann's hockey stick and Steig's Antarctic warming paper. Both of these have had front-page placement in Nature and both of them were unmitigated bollocks. So no, on this issue particularly, peer review is more about censorship than it is about truth.

    Obviously OA is the next big Green scare. I can't believe you're such an idiot as to not see this for what it really is: political activism.
  • by INT_QRK (1043164) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @08:49AM (#34499338)
    "Climate change" is such a clever slogan because climate, almost by definition, is and has always been changing. So far, so good. It should be unsurprising, however, that skepticism is evoked when any idea, especially a scientific theory, is so passionately embraced by political movements spawned to both advance the theory and "solve" the expected ill. Yes, propaganda can be targeted for good or ill intent, but when it becomes so loud, obnoxious, and ubiquitous that it attempts to discourage all legitimate debate, intentions matter little regardless how pure and saintly the proponents. Sorry to say I just come equipped with activist warning lights. When it comes to the depth of our understanding of systems so complex and paradoxically subtle as climate, ham-handed political "solutions" are far more likely to spawn unknown and unintended consequences than mitigation to ascribed risks.
  • by iter8 (742854) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @08:52AM (#34499356)

    I've got a better idea. If an economy of trillions of dollars is threatened by something which has not been proven, then those doing the threatening should bear the burden of proof.

    (Or, as a famous environmentalist once said, "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof.")

    By the same token, it's not proven that an economy of trillions is threatened by reducing CO2 emissions. The notion that the economy is "threatened" by climate change or by attempting to cut emissions is a vague form of economic model. Economic models of what might happen if we try to reduce emissions have less rigor than climate models. It can be argued with just as much or perhaps more justification that developing energy efficiency and reducing emissions would have a positive effect on the economy.

  • by Aceticon (140883) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @09:17AM (#34499532)

    You are crossing the street with a friend and he spots an out of control long-haul truck careening towards you both. He shouts:
    - "Watch out, I think that truck is gonna hit us"

    Do you:
    a) Run away from the middle of the road?
    b) Ask him to prove to you beyond refute that the truck is going to hit you?

    ---

    In this world there are no certainties but death and taxes, so in a situation where in the future something bad might happen, choosing inaction until irrefutable proof that said event is really going to happen (which usually you will only get when it's too late to do anything about it) is not a rational choice.

    Usually you look at:
    - How likelly it is that it's going to happen
    - How bad is it gonna be
    - How much will it cost to do something now to make it not happen or be much less likelly to happen.

    A lot of people seem to make their points based on expectation of irrefutable proof (for or against) while the real discussion should be about what's the cheapest way to insure against this risk.

  • by dr2chase (653338) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @09:48AM (#34499758) Homepage
    The economy is hardly threatened. I'll try to list the reasons why I think so:
    1) Europe generally has a much smaller per capita GHG footprint than the US, yet their economies are doing just fine (this is especially true of chocolate-making countries). Note that they do this with hydro, nukes, and also with high fuel taxes. (Caveat: GHG "imports" and "exports" -- but if you ding them for the GHG embodied by their imports from us, we get dinged by the GHG from our imports from China.)
    2) There are at least two things we could do that would chop our GHG footprint that are hardly economy-destroying -- drive smaller cars, and eat much less beef and pork. 4 legs bad, 2 wings good.
    3) The carbon taxes I've seen proposed are relatively small -- enough to motivate industry, but within the range of price fluctuations we've seen for fossil fuel. An example is $40/ ton of CO2 (CO2-equivalent, if you consider methane and nitrous oxides). CO2-ton = roughly 100 gallons of burned gasoline, so $.40/gallon. We'd notice a price jump like that, but it would still be lower than recent price spikes. For comparison, the money we spend/spent (borrowed) on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, was in the ballpark of $.70/gallon.
    4) There's at least one economically neutral driving-disincentive out there that we could deploy; pay-per-mile auto insurance. The first is a simple economic efficiency -- by buying your insurance per-mile instead of per-year, you obtain the ability to save more money by not driving (the price is nowhere near linear per mile, but this does not reflect actual risk) [clf.org]. I can't convince myself that congestion pricing is also economically neutral, since it is creates a market for one kind of driving (uncongested) by excluding the other kind of driving (congested), but it also discourages driving.
    5) We're resistant to somewhat more gung-ho measures, like using bicycles more, because "we're not a dense country". Oddly enough, despite this lack of density there's also "no room for bicycle infrastructure". In fact, many (at least 1/3 of the population, I can't get a perfect answer from census data, but I can get a lower bound) lives in densities of 2000/sq mile or higher. 1/3 of us already live in places where we could drive far less, if we bothered to convert some of our infrastructure away from automobiles. Before-and-after experience in the Netherlands suggests that this is not economy-destroying -- you can cram many more people into a space if they arrive on bicycles (or busses, or trains, or a combination) than if they arrive in cars. More people = more economic activity. The goal here is not one-size-fits-all, "New York is dense, so you can bicycle across Montana" transit planning (that would be stupid), but to steal what works in other countries, and use it where it is appropriate.
    6) Improved building codes. Again, steal from Europe. Houses can hold heat better than they do. We're doing better now than we did, but we could do better yet, and the expenses (compared to property, and labor costs of construction) are not that large. Kind of a shame we just had a building boom under the less efficient building codes.
  • by tbannist (230135) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @09:57AM (#34499834)

    There's a few problems with your statement:
    1) "Climate change" isn't a slogan, it's the name of the problem. A slogan would be "More cars, less land".

    2) While the climate does change naturally, it changes naturally on a much slower time scale than we are currently experiencing. That's why scientists usually talk about Anthropogenic Climate Change.

    3) There are political movements spawned to fix many different problems, and all of them provide "solutions" for the expected ills of the problem. It wouldn't be a political movement if it didn't propose solutions to the problem. This is expected.

    4) Skepticism is good, and thus many people like to think or pretend that they're skeptics. It's usually pretty easy to spot the people who only claim to be skeptics because they do not critically examine their own evidence only the evidence of others.

    5) At some point debate has to end, there is literally no benefit to having to argue every day over whether 2+2=4 and whether gravity will continue working tomorrow.

    6) Ham-handed political solutions always spawn unknown and unintended consequences. The benefits of taking action have to weighed against the risks.

    Most of the world would rather be talking about the benefits and drawbacks of different solutions to the problems posed by climate change, however, as long as the so-called debate over whether the problem actually exists it's difficult to have a rational discussion about what to do about the problem. Upton Sinclair wrote in one of his books: "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!", and the debate over climate change has certainly demonstrated the profoundity of that statement. At some point, the debate has to end, regardless of how many people would rather that it continue until after they have retired and their salaries are no longer dependent on the problem not being addressed. There will always be a question of how much evidence is enough.

    That's something you might need to ask yourself. What would actually convince you that climate change represents a danger to the lives of millions, possibly billions of people?

  • by mrchaotica (681592) * on Thursday December 09, 2010 @10:48AM (#34500476)

    Except the problem was previously called "Global Warming" and when it became clear that maybe that wasn't panning out, "Global Warming" morphed to "Climate Change".

    The only reason "global warming" didn't "pan out" is that there are too many idiots around who call BS every time it snows because they can't comprehend that the warming is on average. What "global warming" really means is that you're adding more energy to the system and thereby increasing volatility -- hot places get hotter, cold places get colder, storms get stronger, droughts get drier. It's like how the surface of a glass of water gets less flat when you shake it. But you dumbasses just don't fucking get it, so it got renamed "climate change" to try to help you understand.

  • Re:Plenty (Score:2, Insightful)

    by blueg3 (192743) on Thursday December 09, 2010 @12:33PM (#34502056)

    The climate change thing is sold as a whole package, a "You believe all of this or you are a DENIER!" kind of thing.

    Only if you get your information solely from television news and Slashdot comments.

    However it is really a series of arguments, and at each level someone might have questions.

    If by "series of arguments" you mean "body of experimental and theoretical research work", then yes. It's important to keep in mind that scientific results aren't based on qualitative arguments, but on quantitative evidence. You might only see the statement "because of X, then Y", in the news, but that's not the entirety of the work. The work that eventually leads to global warming is, at the very least, decades worth of research by numerous scientists.

    I mean the most basic is "The Earth is getting warmer, outside of any currently known cycles and over a longer period of time." Ok, pretty strong evidence here, but still there is things to look in to. The temperature recording stations have not been controlled and monitored the way we might hope, the record is not as accurate as we would like. Probably nothing that affects any results but in good science you don't write shit off just because it might be inconvenient.

    No, indeed you don't. There are lots of ways to study measurement devices that are known to be biased (or, for that matter, not already known to be biased), quantify the influence of the bias, and handle the resulting error. Not surprisingly, these methods have been applied to exactly the data you refer to. (If I recall correctly, if you discard the data from all known-biased stations, you get a statistically-identical result.)

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