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Baked Alaska 632

mithras the prophet writes "Global warming stories usually focus on the hotbutton politics, scientific debate, or latest disturbing anecdote of receding ice. A very interesting New York Times story takes a different tack, highlighting the reality of climate change for small-town Alaskans. Whatever the cause, temperatures in Alaska have risen by seven degrees in the last 30 years. This has very real consequences for ordinary citizens; the rest of us would do well to consider their stories. Lucy Eningowuk and her 600 fellow citizens of Shishmaref will vote next week whether to move their town to the mainland. Despite community efforts, thawing of permafrost and wave action from melting ice has eroded away most of the land the village is built on. Residents of Barrow (warning: MIDI-enabled page), on the North Shore, are swatting mosquitos for the first time in their lives. In an ironic twist, managers of the Trans-Alaska Oil Pipeline are putting in supports to keep the pipeline from breaking as permafrost thaws."
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Baked Alaska

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  • by phillymjs ( 234426 ) <slashdot AT stango DOT org> on Sunday June 16, 2002 @06:07PM (#3712087) Homepage Journal
    ...they had better hurry up and make Mystery, Alaska 2 [] while they still can!

  • by Lethyos ( 408045 ) on Sunday June 16, 2002 @06:09PM (#3712103) Journal
    Recently, a Cray supercomputer was installed in Fairbanks, Alaska. I think there is much more than mere coincidence between this event and the increasing temperatures in the region.

    It cannot be denied. Wherever Cray computers go, high heat production follows. It's only a matter of time before Cray raises the sea levels and seizes control of a panicked world. I wouldn't put it past them... they have developed a superior computational advantage over the rest of known civilization.

    Be on guard!
  • Cause? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mlknowle ( 175506 ) on Sunday June 16, 2002 @06:11PM (#3712107) Homepage Journal
    People seem to suspect that this is caused by global warming, but there isn't really that much evidence that the changes here in Alaska are the result of some kind of cyclical phenomenon. Note that I'm not trying to be a global warming denier (a fleeting phenomenon these days with the Bush administration's about face last month) but just pointing out that the cause is still uncertain.

    What isn't uncertain is that this change is real; one look at my driveway is proof enough for me.
    • Re:Cause? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by mangu ( 126918 ) on Sunday June 16, 2002 @06:59PM (#3712238)
      If the cause is uncertain, then we should act wisely and work to reduce every possible cause we can think of. If, fifty years from now, we discover that carbon dioxide wasn't the true cause for global warming, perhaps our planet will be just as warm, but less polluted.
      • Re:Cause? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ralphbecket ( 225429 ) on Sunday June 16, 2002 @09:02PM (#3712718)
        No, we should not take extraordinarily expensive action on the basis of uninformed speculation.

        The Mediaeval Warm Period was generally hotter than today and extended for some centuries up until the 14th or 15th century. Between then and the end of the 19th century the Earth went through the Little Ice Age when temperatures were cooler. Since these were natural phenomena, it seems quite likely that we may be entering another warm period.

        There is indeed evidence that human activity has affected the climate; the real question is "by how much?" and "what are the likely effects, over and above what will occur naturally anyway?" If we conclude that human factors are significant in both cases, then we should ask ourselves how best to tackle the problem, not just act on folk wisdom along the lines of "fossil fuels are bad, we must stop using fossil fuels as soon as possible."

        For instance, the global cost of implementing the Kyoto Protocol is staggering. The cost incurred for just one year would pay for the delivery of quality drinking water and sanitation to every human on the planet. The mind boggles to think what we could do with that money each year over the next century. The reason why Kyoto is not very convincing as a save-the-Earth policy is that it will only offset the expected climate change at the end of the century by about five years. Big deal. A far better way to use the money would be to (a) quickly advance the developing world to the point where they can use cleaner, more efficient technologies already deployed in the developed world and (b) invest in research into more efficient (renewable) resources.

        Read "The Skeptical Environmentalist." It's a fantastic book.
      • Cop 1: Hmm, we can't out who the killer is.

        Cop 2: Okay, then the wisest course of action is to arrest everyone in the town before they can kill again.
    • this is caused by global warming

      Well, yeah, it is caused by global warming, because, well, the globe IS warming a bit at the moment. It just so happens that colder regions warm up more than average. What people are arguing about though is how much is a result of natural cycles, and how much is caused by 6.3 billion pesky humans' technology. I'd wager that us humans have a small but increasing effect due to greenhouse gases.

      If you look longterm you can see that the temperature has fluctuated a lot more than 1 degree per century, and that it's been much hotter & colder in the past.

      If you had a choice between global warming, cooling, or the status quo, which would it be? Personally, I'd choose a slow warming... we could even grow more food further north/south... until the polar ice melts, and the earthquakes start, and volcanos erupt, and plagues spread! ahhhh! noooooooooo! save us! (that's your cue to give me FUD money)


  • by Lethyos ( 408045 ) on Sunday June 16, 2002 @06:12PM (#3712110) Journal
    At first glance, I thought this was going to be a story about increasing marijuana use in Alaska. Imagine my disappointment... I had already packed my bags.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 16, 2002 @06:12PM (#3712112)
    1 quart chocolate ice cream
    1 quart coffee ice cream
    Sponge cake, recipe follows
    1 pint strawberries, tops removed and sliced
    Meringue, recipe follows
    Warm glossy chocolate sauce, recipe follows

    10 eggs
    2 cups vegetable oil
    4 cups sugar
    Vanilla extract, to taste
    6 cups flour
    2 tablespoons baking powder
    2 cups milk

    1 cup egg whites, room temperature
    1 cup sugar

    Warm Glossy Chocolate Sauce:
    3 ounces unsweetened chocolate
    7 ounces semisweet chocolate
    3/8 cup light corn syrup
    1/2 cup hot water

    Sponge: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the eggs, vegetable oil and sugar until light. Add the vanilla. Sift together the flour and baking powder. In 3 additions, alternately add the flour and baking powder with the milk. Pour the batter into a greased, parchment-lined jellyroll pan. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until it springs back to the touch. When the cake is cool, invert from the pan onto a piece of parchment paper. Halve the cake lengthwise. Place a 2 quart bowl on top of 1/2 the cake and cut around the bottom of the bowl. Reserve the rest of the cake. Set the cake round on a parchment lined sheet pan.

    Remove ice cream from freezer. Using a large spoon mound the chocolate ice cream on top of the cake round. Layer the strawberries on top of the chocolate ice cream. Top and continue to mound the coffee ice cream. You can make as many layers as you like. If the ice cream begins to soften too much, return to the freezer until firm and continue. Cut the remaining cake into triangles and cover the mound of ice cream with cake. Return cake to the freezer for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.

    Meringue: Whip the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and beat until stiff and glossy. As soon as the meringue is ready, remove the ice cream cake from the freezer. Spread the meringue evenly over the dessert in a swirling motion or pipe decoratively. Return to the freezer for at least 3 hours or up to 2 days.

    Warm Glossy Chocolate Sauce: In the top half of a double boiler, combine the 2 chocolates over simmering water. Stir constantly until melted, then whisk in the corn syrup and water. Whisk until smooth and shiny.

    When ready to serve, heat the oven to 500 degrees. Remove the dessert from the freezer and place it in the oven. Bake 3 to 4 minutes or until browned. You can also use a blow torch to brown the meringue. After it is browned it's possible to freeze dessert again overnight before serving. Serve in slices with warm glossy chocolate sauce.

    Prep Time: 10 minutes
    Cook Time: 6 hours 35 minutes
  • by DeadBugs ( 546475 ) on Sunday June 16, 2002 @06:29PM (#3712155) Homepage
    The weather here in Michigan is still too cold. I for one support global warming. Bring it on, the warmer the better. I can't believe that global warming is only bad. I heard that they can grow crops further North now than they could before and there are longer growing seasons providing more crops. And soon people may be able to live in Canada.
  • by autopr0n ( 534291 ) on Sunday June 16, 2002 @06:44PM (#3712202) Homepage Journal
    It seems to me that anti-global warming advocates are made up of the same kind of people who are anti-evolution. Their main reason for doubt is that it conflicts with their biases (in the case of global warming, that's largely commercial or ideological, with evolution it's religious).

    Of course both groups have lots of 'scientific' evidence that mostly amounts a few anecdotes in comparison to the huge reams of evidence that the supporters have, but are yelled very loudly.

    Also, both groups demand from their adversaries 'irrefutable proof' that evolution/global warming is true, even though a 'logical proof' of an empirical phenomena is impossible. You can't prove evolution and global warming the same way you can prove that 1+1=2. You can't even prove gravity to that extent.

    Finally, if this report is true, and these weather changes are happening all over Alaska, it really should be enough evidence that something is happening. Alaska is pretty big, and the effect can't really be called 'local'. It's at least regional.

    Finally, it comes to the question of cyclical vs. artificial warming. Is the earth getting warmer just because it is, or is it getting warmer because of something we're doing? Certainly, humanity is producing lots of CO2, but the amount isn't really that much compared the naturally occurring water vapor. Honestly I'm not sure if science really has the answer. But I do really think we need to be cautious about it. The effects of global warming could be pretty dire.

    A while ago I read a slashdot post about global warming, and the poster said he opposed any kind of change in regulation unless we could be 100% sure. If you ask me, that's pretty stupid. It's like driving towards a cliff and being opposed to a change in direction unless you were 100% sure there was a cliff there, the argument being the trip would be longer assuming there was no cliff (or something equally stupid).

    Perhaps there would be some economic constraints caused by greenhouse gas controls, but they would probably be a lot better then the economic problems caused by global warming.
    • You are in denial (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      "But I do really think we need to be cautious about it. The effects of global warming could be pretty dire."

      Since there is zero evidence of human activity having an effect, there is no point in being "cautious" in regards to global warming.

      "It seems to me that anti-global warming advocates are made up of the same kind of people who are anti-evolution."

      True, only if by "anti global warming advocate" you mean the whackos who fight against "global warming".... which is like fighting against a mountain with a wet noodle: human activity does not effect it.

      "A while ago I read a slashdot post about global warming, and the poster said he opposed any kind of change in regulation unless we could be 100% sure. If you ask me, that's pretty stupid"

      No, what is stupid is changing regulation while having NO evidence at all that regulation will change anything. That is real stupid: the un-informed change of public policy based on nonscience.
    • Is the earth getting warmer just because it is, or is it getting warmer because of something we're doing? Certainly, humanity is producing lots of CO2, but the amount isn't really that much compared the naturally occurring water vapor. Honestly I'm not sure if science really has the answer. But I do really think we need to be cautious about it. The effects of global warming could be pretty dire.

      Lets rephrase:
      Is my eyesight getting worse because I masturbate? Certainly I don't masturbate that often, the amount really isn't much compared to the times I have actual sex. Honestly, I'm not sure if science really has the answer. I do think I should be really cautious about it, the effects could be pretty dire.
      The point is, there is no evidence linking human activity and global warming. There is a weak correlation between it and human emissions, but that is as strong an argument as the masturbation/eyesight link.

      Just because a lot of people say something, doesn't make it worth paying attention to. As the AC said, no one has produced any evidence at all that we are having an effect. "No evidence" is a lot different from "wanting to be 100% sure".
      • As the AC said, no one has produced any evidence at all that we are having an effect.

        This is bullshit. There might not be enough evidence to convince everybody (or even most people), but some is certainly there. You can't deny that during the last century, both the production of various waste gases and global temperature have risen.
      • Cost of failure. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Jason Pollock ( 45537 ) on Sunday June 16, 2002 @08:00PM (#3712462) Homepage

        There is a difference between the two. The cost of the correlation between masturbation/eyesight is a pair of glasses. The cost of global warming is conceivably a lot higher, and so deserves more attention and effort.

        I think a better example would be the Challenger disaster, which killed the crew, and stopped NASA in its tracks for years. All because they asked the engineers to "Put their management hats on".

        At the end of the day, we have three things to decide:

        1. Is Global Warming is happening? The answer seems to be "Yes".
        2. Should we do anything about it?
        3. What can we do about it?

        Now, we can argue about what the causes of global warming are, but that shouldn't stop us from finding a solution. There are only a few variables that we can conceivably control to bring the warming back down. One of those is CO2 emissions. It doesn't matter if the warming is a result of human activity, all that does matter is that it is happening and that we need to do something about it.

        Jason Pollock
        • by GigsVT ( 208848 )
          The cost of global warming is conceivably a lot higher

          The cost of taking measures to prevent global warming are pretty high in some cases.

          I'm not against intelligent ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions when they don't cost too much, but that is the key. Creating huge economic inefficiencies for something that may or may not have an effect on something that may or may not be caused by the emissions in the first place is what is bad.

          Higher cost of items in stores, possible inflation, reduced GDP, companies driven out of business... I'd say the cost is high.
          • I'm not against intelligent ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions when they don't cost too much, but that is the key. Creating huge economic inefficiencies for something that may or may not have an effect on something that may or may not be caused by the emissions in the first place is what is bad.

            The issue has to be what is the potential cost of not doing anything. It doesn't matter if you caused the problem with car exhaust, or if it's the Earth's core turning up the heat. If the sea levels go up by as little 5', most of the people on the coast will have to move. Can you imagine the $$ involved in protecting New Orleans alone?

            As with anything, we shouldn't have a panic response. However, doing nothing because we believe (rightly or wrongly - who cares) that warming is natural isn't a solution.

            This is why we build flood control systems. It may be a natural event, but we still act to mitigate the damage caused. We need to do the same on a global scale to handle global warming.

            Sure, companies will go under, others will flourish, and new millions will be made. Is that a problem? Probably not, look what happened to the .coms. No lasting damage was done. I would say that the displacement of coastal populations is going to be worse, but that's just a guess... :)

            Jason Pollock
        • by FreeUser ( 11483 ) on Sunday June 16, 2002 @08:48PM (#3712666)
          There is a difference between the two. The cost of the correlation between masturbation/eyesight is a pair of glasses. The cost of global warming is conceivably a lot higher, and so deserves more attention and effort.

          More to the point, there isn't, and never has been, any evidence that masturbation leads to blindness (or poor vision at all).

          There is a mountain of evidence, piling ever higher, that our industrial wastes are changing the albedo of the planet, that the planet is thus radiating less heat away than previously, and as a result the climate is growing warmer.

          Is it absolute proof? As you point out, no, it isn't, and absolute proof wouldn't be possible even after the entire process runs its course and Earth comes to resemble Venus (assuming it were ever allowed to go so far), as one could still argue that it might have been a natural phenomenon.

          It is like arguing that an oily beach is a natural phenomenon. It is possible that an oil reserve is exposed to the sea through natural causes (like an undersea earthquake opening a rift), but the hulking remains of the Exxon Valdeze would, for example, make the argument that the cause could have been natural pretty weak, even without 100% irrefutable proof.

          So to with the ever warming planet. It could possibly be natural, but a mountain of strong evidence suggests it isn't, and to proceed on the very unlikely assumption that it is natural is folly to the nth degree, and an action only someone living in complete denial because they simply don't want it to be so could ever advocate.

          BTW, you can't even 'prove' 2+2=4 ... much less explain why. It is aximoatic that 2+2=4 ... one could build a methematics just as easilly on the notion that the plus sign adds 1 to the value, such that 1+1=3 and 2+2=5. It wouldn't yield very useful results, but it can be done. 2+2=4 because that is how we have axiomatically defined addition to work.
          • It is like arguing that an oily beach is a natural phenomenon. It is possible that an oil reserve is exposed to the sea through natural causes (like an undersea earthquake opening a rift), but the hulking remains of the Exxon Valdeze would, for example, make the argument that the cause could have been natural pretty weak, even without 100% irrefutable proof.

            Well, natural oil slicks [] occur all the time, so I suppose what we need to see here is the Exxon Valdeze which links human CO2 production to global warming. At one point in the past, the Gulf of Mexico reached the base of the rocky mountains with help from high global temperatures (see Discover Magazine/May 2002) and without the help of human CO2 production. The Green party folks were certain that human pollution was sending us into another ice age [] back in the 1970s, and now they're just as certain that the Sky is Falling yet again. Those of use who urge caution are signaled out as ignorant duffs who do not pay attention; e.g. "You're with us or you're against us". Personally, I'd rather see some rational discussion happen over this. I want to see all the side-effects of atmospheric CO2 found. I want to see good reconciliation with satellite data []. Most importantly, I want scientists, and not politicians, to draft specific reccomendations after the research has become sufficient.

      • by bashibazouk ( 582054 ) on Sunday June 16, 2002 @08:21PM (#3712549) Journal
        Why is it when ever one of these "there is no evidence for global warming" posts pop up there is NEVER any proper debunking? There have been many studies on global warming, pick one and (this is the hard part) using logic, debunk it.

        Why is it wrong?

        Is there flaws in the data gathering?

        Do the theories not match the data?

        If so, what is a better theory?

        There are two major parts to science. Observation/experiment and theory as to why. The research is usually done right. Why? Because science strives to ensure all experiments/observations are Reproducible and most are reproduced. Researchers caught fudging data fall from grace and have a very hard time being taken seriously again. The theory on the other hand is rarely right, at least 100% right. But it is usually close.

        To illustrate: the theory of relativity has never been "proven" 100%. It has seen lots of minor changes and some major competing ideas. But the science behind it have made some pretty impressive bombs, yes? Should we ever have some form of unified theory, I would guess major parts of the theory of relativity will be part of it, some will be fine tuned, some will be found completely wrong.

        The usual "global warming is wrong because I say so" is NOT an argument. "global warming is just a left wing plot" is NOT an argument.

        If you don't think global warming is real, great, PROVE IT!

        Your assertion that there is no evidence of global warming is total BS. There are many, many studies full of evidence that something is happening and well thought out reasons for linking them to the idea of global warming. They could be wrong. That is possible, but to say so without a good argument or referring to a good argument is nothing more than ideological posturing and should not be taken seriously.

        • by mesocyclone ( 80188 ) on Sunday June 16, 2002 @11:29PM (#3713300) Homepage Journal
          First, a note to moderators. The last time I tried an informative post on this topic, it was modded as a troll (although it ended up a 5 troll somehow). This post is an attempt to actually represent the opposing position, with an editorial at the bottom discussing the implications of current politics on this...

          anyway... to respond to the previous poster..

          You ask why it [the theory of global warming] is wrong. First of all, there is the issue of why it has to be wrong, as opposed to not proven. But let me at least throw some doubt on the science:

          1) Much of the data is indeed flawed. It is riddled with assumptions and inconsistencies. It depends on long chains of assumptions. For example, sea temperature data has been inferred from characteristics of coral growth. And yet just in the last month a paper was published (Science) showing that the coral growth is significantly affected by other factors, blowing away that assumption. Tree rings are used as a substitute for temperature or precipitation data, but have been shown to be unreliable in many cases. Other data is significantly contaminated - I am using one such data set right now.

          Refusal to accept that mankind CO2 is responsible for all or most of the warming we see is not the same as evolution denial, because the weight of evidence for evolution is enormous and rapidly growing. OTOH, the evidence of the effects of the human produced increase in CO2 is poor. It is based on poor data; good data is over too short a time period to be meaningful in a climate discussion; data may be contaminated by a number of factors (surface station urban heat island effect, for example), and even when known these contaminations are "adjusted" as best as possible.

          2) Which "theory" are you referring to when you talk about global warming? As far as I know, the only theories are:
          1) CO2 increases cause warming (trivial physics, but not a real hypothesis to test man-made global warming in this complex system).
          2) Computer simulations show warming, and with enough tuning can sort-of match the past since temperature records were kept.

          The latter is not a theory so much as a numerical computing based on known and unknown physics. However, if the predictions are accurate, who cares if it is a true theory or not? But one needs to understand the nature of climate models to understand the uncertainties. Let me list a few:
          1. Resolution - due to computing limitations, the models have gross resolution, on the order of tens to hundred of kilometers on the surface and hundreds of meters in the atmosphere. Since weather, which is ultimately what is simulated (climate is the long term integral of weather), these problems are significant. The best known weather models in the world today are essentially useless beyond 5 days.
          2. Parameterization - the physics of the atmosphere and the ocean are known very accurately on a small scale. But those physics do not scale well - it is like trying to predict a human from their genes... in theory you could do the simulation of the cells and proteins, etc... but you would never actually do so. Instead, one uses parameters to approximate effects that one does not want to compute. Thus one parameterizes the effect of topography, for example, because the model resolution does not allow actual representation of the details of topography. There are hundreds of the parameterizations.
          3. Selection bias - models which predict the past are naturally selected. But with the large number of parameters, and the sensitivity of the models, it is pretty likely that some will approach an accurate forecast of the past. But that does not make them predictors of the future. To believe otherwise is to imagine that top stock pickers got that way because they can predict the market, when in fact they are just those selected that have a long run of luck!
          4. Missing feedback - The system is unbelievably complex. For example, how does one simulate the response of the earth's biology to climate change, or even to CO2 concentration change? How much does this affect the resulting climate (hint - potentially a whole lot)> There are lots of other complex subsystems that also cannot be modeled.

          As far as competing theories, how about changes in solar irradiance? Evidence that this is a significant climate forcer has become undeniable recently. This doesn't mean that the global warming hypothesis is wrong, but it certainly means that it *was* wrong in its mechanisms.

          On another vein, modeling relies upon estimates of atmospheric CO2 dynamics and yet we still can't account for about 30% of the CO2 disappearance from the atmosphere. This is a huge uncertainty.

          The burden of proof of a theory is on the proposer. Science works by constant refinement of theories, and outright refutation of some.

          3)It is not necessary to propose a better theory to disprove, or more importantly, cast doubt upon an existing theory. Science does not require that! One could have refuted Newtonian physics by detecting gravitational lensing, without having any idea what caused the gravitational lensing!

          4) Casting doubt on anthropogenic global warming does not make one a nut. True, there are nuts who cast doubt on it. And there are prople who tend to doubt it based on their political leanings, just as there are people who tend to support it based on their own political leanings.

          To gather from the hysterical reporting (each event of something warmer is reported as "casting more evidence for global warming" or something stronger), I would suspect there are more of the latter than the former.

          A truly scientific viewpoint is that the earth has warmed about a degree in the last 100 or so years, but that the links between that warming and human activity are insufficient to establish a strong cause-and-effect relationship. Thus one should suspect that anthropogenic CO2 may contribute to warming, but not conclude that it does.

          Finally, to move on a little bit. Even if we accept that global warming is caused by humans, and that the (ever changing) climate models are providing an accurate forecast, there is a complete lack of critical thinking about what to do about it! For example, recently on here we had a debate about the Kyoto treaty. Few of the debaters realized that the best climate models (that are accepted by the IPCC and the treaty community) show that Kyoto would only retard warming by 6 years in 100 years (or in any year make a difference of a tiny fraction of a degree). And yet most advocates of doing something about global warming jump on the Kyoto bandwagon. Without the (hidden from most of the public) agenda that Kyoto is only the start of significantly more onerous and costly measures, this is completely illogical.

          Equally illogical is the resistance of the global warmists (if I can coin a term) to measures that might be taken to ameliorate the negative effects and maximize benefits from the positive effects of the putative warming. This trend illustrates a strong ideological agenda - a strong bias towards forcing solutions upon unwilling mankind without a real cost-benefit analysis.

          Finally, what is really illogical is the idea that we, as the people currently on earth, can do much about global warming. We have already seen that the US will not sign onto a basically symbolic (if expensive) measure: Kyoto. We must know that more significant measures will face much stronger resistance. We excuse China and India from Kyoto and yet somehow in the next 100 years imagine that they will not make up for the CO2 emissions reduced by Kyoto.

          We have the arrogance (or some do) to believe that we can change the behavior of mankind, against the near and medium term benefit of most, and maintain that change for 100 years. I have seen no evidence that humans are better behaved now than they were 100 years ago, when people were then postulating utopian ideas (before WW-I, WW-II, Soviet Communism, Einstein's theories and the consequences, etc).

          Even worse, we have the arrogance to assume that we should punish people today in the blind assumption that those in the future will not come up with technologies that will make the whole issue moot! Amazingly, this is even strong here on this board where most of the participants have been involved in remarkable technological transformation over short periods of time.
          • For example, sea temperature data has been inferred from characteristics of coral growth

            Sea temperature is measured by satellite [], not by inferring from coral growth. A correllation may be seen between coral growth and sea surface temperature, but the temperature is not measured by looking at the growth. See this NOAA site []

            2) Which "theory" are you referring to when you talk about global warming? As far as I know, the only theories are:
            1) CO2 increases cause warming (trivial physics, but not a real hypothesis to test man-made global warming in this complex system).
            2) Computer simulations show warming, and with enough tuning can sort-of match the past since temperature records were kept.

            Number 2 (computer simulations) Isnt a hypothesis, or a theory, it is an attempt to verify the global warming hypothisis that you state in 1. A computer simulation is not a hypothesis in any case.

            So really were only arguing about 1. Does an increase in Co2 decrease the rate of heat radiated by the planet. Thats the question. Does CO2 trap heat? Your alternative hypothesies, solar irradiation etc, may or may not be true. If solar variability is true, then that will contribute to an overall warming effect. Regardless we know one simple fact that cannot be disputed: CO2 traps heat. If it werent for some CO2 wed be living in an icebox. CO2 allows for liquid water, which then takes over as the dominant greenhouse gas. An increase in CO2 can therefore be assumed to increase the amount of heat trapped by the earths atmosphere, since CO2 has been doing that since the beginning of time. Regardless of any other causes to global warming, increasing CO2=Increasing trapped heat. So you may be right and solar variability may be a factor, granted, but this does not negate the effect of CO2 on the atmosphere. In fact it makes controlling CO2 even more vital, since we have to compensate for solar variations as well as human caused effects.

        • "If you don't think global warming is real, great, PROVE IT!"

          The debate isn't IF global warming is occuring, It's the cause of the warming. The burden of proof lays on those who claim that humans are responsible.

          There are facts that contradict the "humans cause global warming" assertion of the neo-ludites.

          The average Global tempature is lower than it was 700 years ago. At that time wine was produced in areas of England where grape cultivation is impossible today. The Vikings had a thriving colony in Greenland. Some crops were grown in higher elevations in Europe than are possible today.

          This warm period was ended by the little Ice Age which saw a period of global cooling. There is also evidance for a similar period of cooling near the end of the Roman Empire though it isn't as well documented that preceded the Medeval warming period.

          The historic periods of warming and cooling preceded the industrial era and are certainly natural. The present warming may be no more than a natural end to the natural cooling period that started about 650 years ago, and the fact that tempatures are still lower than they were between 1000 and around 1350 points seems to show that we still haven't recovered from the global cooling.

          The biggest falicy of the neo-ludite views on global warming is that the tempature at the start of the Industrial period was "normal" rather than just another period in the long cycle of natural warming and cooling eras.

      • That's a nice example, and it works well because we know for a fact that masturbation doesn't cause eyesight loss. But lets examine another one, one from the real world.

        A few years ago, some doctors noticed that there was a certain kind of bacteria that lived in stomach ulcers, a high correlation just like the rise in temperature and greenhouse gasses. Anyway, some people suggested that perhaps the bacteria caused the ulcers, but people were skeptical. Perhaps it was just an opportunistic infection, you know, it was easy for them to live there due to the damage cells.

        So, either the bacteria caused the ulcers or the ulcers caused the bacteria. Which one was it? Medical researches didn't believe the bacteria caused the ulcers, and traditional remedies were continued (you know, lots of bland food, stress free lives, etc). I would say that there was some evidence, you would say there was none. Apparently a correlation isn't evidence in your eyes, right?

        Eventually, one of the people who believed the bacteria caused the ulcer simply ate a large quantity of it, and came down with all kinds of gastro-intestinal problems. Including ulcers. Now we know that ulcers are caused by the bacteria, and that they can for the most part be cured by antibiotics.

        If you had ulcers, would you have waited until the final study, the one where the scientist infected himself before trying antibiotics to cure an ulcer?

        By the way, those same researchers have discovered a bacteria that is often found in people with heart disease. I don't think there are going to be many scientists willing to inject themselves with this. Should we change treatments now? Or should we go on and say it's just a bunch of BS?
    • by dimator ( 71399 ) on Sunday June 16, 2002 @07:34PM (#3712372) Homepage Journal
      Funny observation #1: A serious, thoughtful post, signatured with a pr0n link.

      Funny observation #2: You have two thoughts that start with "Finally," neither of which is the last.

    • by nemesisj ( 305482 ) on Sunday June 16, 2002 @07:43PM (#3712396) Homepage
      I think isolated reports like this story are a prime example of why its so hard for some people to accept global warming because this story has no basis in fact. It's just a report of one city having a rise in temperature. Who's to say what the cause is? There's a lot of good evidence for both sides of the issue, and I agree that its best to proceed with caution and treat the environment with respect, BUT I also believe that the environment is much more resilient then most global warming advocates would have people believe. It's a fact that the earth warms and cools regardless of human intervention - the question is more along the lines of are we contributing to the fact?
    • by THB ( 61664 ) on Sunday June 16, 2002 @07:45PM (#3712407)
      What has happened is that the term global warming has been hijacked by the people who believe that global warming is mainly caused by CO2 buildup. So often one who is anti-global warming really believes that global warming is natural, with CO2 levels having little effect. It is really a word game, something the environmentalists seem very good at.

      While I agree that we have to be careful, but even if human influence was the only cause, and kyoto was completely ratified by all countries, it would only be a drop in the bucket. This along with the fact that the treaty is quite unfair to certain countries, namely the US, Austrailia and Canada makes me quite happy that the US is so unwilling to sign it.

      • Well, whatever the reason, the warming of Alaska should make it easier to get the oil out. Thus, my trusty hydrogen powered Jeep and I will be happy!
    • It seems to me that anti-global warming advocates are made up of the same kind of people who are anti-evolution. Their main reason for doubt is that it conflicts with their biases

      As opposed to pro-global warming advocates, whose main reason for belief is that it agrees with their biases? Come now, if you expect that the majority of people are going to hold well-reasoned out beliefs about issues that are very complex, you should sell whatever it is that you are smoking.

      There are two issues with global warming: (1) what regulations, if any, should be enacted to minimize the effect of people on our environment and (2) what is really going on?

      They are two completely unrelated questions, but both important. Now, people who are against the idea of being careful of what we spew into the atmosphere are the sort who seem very short-sighted, as the belief that economic progress is more important than caution is just plain dumb. Of course, people who favor instant gratification over long-term good planning are just dumb, but there's nothing particular about global warming for these people.

      The other issue, what is really going on, is a completely different matter, as you point out. The world came out of an ice age fairly quickly without the help of SUVs. The world that the dinosaurs lived in appears to be warmer than the one that we currently live in. It certainly seems plausible that no matter what we do the world is going to get warmer.

      Thus it is worthwile not to paint everyone with the same brush, since some of the positions are quite reasonable ones.

    • by ChristTrekker ( 91442 ) on Monday June 17, 2002 @10:09AM (#3714982)

      A Henry Lamb article [] pointed me to an interesting link you may like. Over 17,000 scientists have signed [] a petition to reject Kyoto. The petition in part states the following.

      There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere and disruption of the Earth's climate. Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth.

      The earth's climate is variable and cyclical. The variation we're seeing is within normal bounds. Some places in the world are actually cooler, and the places that are warmer (like Sibera and Alaska) could probably use it. I feel for the people that have to move off their erosion-prone island, just like I feel for the people that continue to build houses in flood plains. I feel that where they want to live is up to them. Don't take advantage of their distress to give control of my life to the government. Thank you.

  • Not so fast... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by primenerd ( 100899 ) on Sunday June 16, 2002 @07:11PM (#3712285)
    As a lifelong Alaskan I must take issue with the alarmist nature of the article and post. First there have always been mosquitoes in Barrow, the town is built on the tundra (in other words, thousands of square miles of stagnant water and marshy ground). Secondly there have been dozens of instances of towns being moved or abandoned over the years. As for the town of Shishmaref, it is built on a barrier island (which are erosion prone by nature) on the Chukchi sea which is known for its violent storms. Just because the town was built on a poorly chosen site does not mean that global warming is by default to blame. Finally, the issue of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline (TAPS) having to deal with melting permafrost. This is not caused by global warming, it is caused by a metal pipe filled with hot oil (500+ degrees) sitting on ice. Great efforts are taken to refrigerate the ground, as when it melts, it has the consistency of pudding and is unsuitable to be even walked on (that's what the refrigeration fins on the structural supports are for).
    I smell a poorly researched article written by a reactionary reporter with an agenda.
    • Someone with actual experience in the Alaska area refutes the article this story is based on and I have no mod points at the moment.

      My cousin spent summers in Alaska visiting his dad and a few Christmas vacations too. He had some interesting tales to tell about the hot and sometimes muggy weather that didn't match stereotypical Alaska weather. My brother in law spent a year in the region doing cleanup work for the huge oil spill and a friend spent three full years in the area with a fishing outfit. The info that Primenerd posted matches what each has said about weather and summer conditions. Winter was also described as a big, dark, endless freezer.

    • The article is not citing these anecdotes in order to convince you of the reality of Alaskan warming. Alaskan warming is a broadly accepted fact - no one disputes the increase in average temperatures. The article cites the examples from daily life in order to bring personal meaning to the numbers. Nonetheless I will address your particular points:

      1. Barrow. Examine this graph []. Do you agree or disagree that averages temperatures in Barrow have risen over time?
      2. Shishmaref (and the numerous other towns cited in the article). I agree that some rate of erosion and forced relocation should be expected over time. But permafrost warming is an accepted fact []. (I cite a Geological Survey of Canada report)
      3. Trans-Alaska Pipeling. I quote from the article:
      "We're not going to let global warming sneak up on us," said Curtis Thomas, a spokesman for the Alyeska Pipeline Service Company, which runs the pipeline. "If we see leaning and sagging, we move on it."
      Do you agree or disagree that he is in a position to explain the nature of the thawing, and the likely causes of it?
    • Just a slight correction, the maximum temperature of the oil [] (scroll down to the "Thermal Expansion" section) in TAPS is about 145 degrees F (not 500).
  • Anyone else seen Eric the viking (not especially good) has some of Monty python characters in it.

    One part that is apt:

    As the island was sinking the 'king' and his followers are happily singing ignoring the sinking fact, They are urged to leave (or die) and they happily say no, its not sinking.... sing song sing song....

    We don't know for SURE about temp rise etc or if it is caused by industrial activity, but it seems wise to assume that we should be cautious to ensure future liberties.

    It is difficault thou', as it seems that many events are taken advantage of to press too far for power grabs rather than actually helping the situation (eg terrorism) and thus destroying current hard won liberties.
  • Obvious! (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by Cally ( 10873 )

    Whatever the cause, temperatures in Alaska have risen by seven degrees in the last 30 years.

    Why, isn't it obvious?

    • The sun's natural variations in output cause fluctuating temperatures here on earth;
    • Temperatures have gone up and down many times in the last few thousand years, regardless;
    • Scientists said we were heading for a mini-ice age opnly fifty years ago!
    • It's within the bounds of natural variation
    • It's all the fault of those pesky Indians and Chinese. Goddam those anti-american creeps!
    • It's a conspiracy by the World Bank / the interantional Jewish rulers / the freemasons /the Euro-weenies/ economic competitors to the United States / the UN / the World Bank

    Don't you idiots pay attention to those well-informed Slashdot posters? They have all the answers as to why I don't need to worry about changing my lifestyle. Hey, a badly-reasoned ill-informed load of Ayn Rand bullshit posted on Slashdot by a complete nobody in Butt-Phuck, Nebraska, is good enough to get moderated up to +5, Informative -- so it must be true!!

    Or I could pay attention to real scientists who, like, know what they're talking about. But that would just be falling into the trap prepared by ${evil_people}!

  • When the pot gets too hot, the culprit is usually the fire. In my opinion, the sun, the main source of heat for earth's atmosphere, should be the primary suspect. Maybe the sun is going through a warming cycle.
  • Whatever the cause, temperatures in Alaska have risen by seven degrees in the last 30 years.

    I think that quote says exactly why this is an interesting story that has little implication for the larger debate about our environment. I am the first to declare that all the industrial toxins and whatnot we're pumping into our atmosphere are having negative effects. However, one of the main arguments that's always made in global warming discussions is that climate change has been a constant over the history of the Earth. We simply don't know how much human actions are responsible for what we're experiencing now. So while I'm sure increased rates in asthma, cancers, and birth defects in some places are probably industry related, I'm not convinced about a bunch of wackos who live on an ice shelf losing their "land".

    • well thats easy all you have to do is check whether the temp incresed in a similar way the previous 30 years. and then the thirty years before that.

      I dont know the data for alaska but similar data for the world says thats not true.
  • Pork-priming? (Score:3, Informative)

    by torgosan ( 141603 ) on Sunday June 16, 2002 @08:00PM (#3712458) Homepage
    "While President Bush was dismissive of a report the government recently released on how global warming will affect the nation, the leading Republican in this state, Senator Ted Stevens, says that no place is experiencing more startling change from rising temperatures than Alaska."

    Good ol' Sen. Stevens...priming the pork-pump, count on it.

  • by elefantstn ( 195873 ) on Sunday June 16, 2002 @09:26PM (#3712821)
    And I have not found a single pro-warming post that does not either a) dismiss its opponents as simpletons or b) provide any non-anecdotal evidence. It may just be a Slashdot-related phenomenon, but is there anyone who can provide any good reason we should "act to stop global warming" other than "people who say we shouldn't are hicks" or "well, we might be right, so let's do it anyway"?
  • Interesting quote (Score:5, Interesting)

    by krogoth ( 134320 ) <slashdot@garBOHR ... minus physicist> on Sunday June 16, 2002 @09:43PM (#3712877) Homepage
    "2001 was the warmest year since 1653 (or thereabouts) which begs the question, exactly who or what was emitting CO2 at present day levels back then?"

    (dates may be off)
  • Yeah that's when I'll start to think there's problem that needs to be address, REGARDLESS of the reason. When the salmon come come out of the water already poached. When the birds drop out of the sky already deep fried.

    Or when Mr. Cheney tells me, whichever comes first.
  • NEWSFLASH!!!! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by night_flyer ( 453866 ) on Sunday June 16, 2002 @11:12PM (#3713246) Homepage
    We've been in a global warming cycle since the ICE AGE!

    and in the 1970s they said we were heading for another ice age...

    the scientists say "we cant look at localized warming or cooling, we must look at the whole picture" yet here they are pumping localized warming... why dodnt they come to OKLAHOMA? its cooler than it has been for a while AND there are LESS tornadoes...
  • by g4dget ( 579145 ) on Monday June 17, 2002 @01:30AM (#3713698)
    People like to debate whether global warming exists based on temperature measurements. But that is missing the point. We don't need to interpret noisy temperature measurements in order to determine whether global warming exists. Instead, we just need to look at CO2 measurements.

    We have excellent records of CO2 concentrations over thousands of years from inclusions of gas in ice cores, as well as other sources. CO2 concentrations have unquestionably increased significantly since the 1800's. And increased CO2 concentrations invariably will lead to higher temperatures. The only scientific debate is whether the temperature increase from our current levels of CO2 will be modest or dramatic.

    But that question doesn't really get to the core of things. CO2 emissions aren't standing still, they are growing exponentially. If we don't curb CO2 emissions, atmospheric CO2 won't just double, it will double over and over again. At some point, even the most conservative climate models predict catastrophic consequences, whether that be 2x, 4x, 8x, or 16x current levels.

    Sooner or later, we have to put a limit on the growth of CO2 emissions because, while we may debate how much CO2 is too much, there exists some level that is going to be too much. So, we might as well impose the limits now, since there is no economic reason to keep belching out CO2 at current rates. Besides, with a reduction in CO2 come a lot of other benefits, like reduction in particulate emissions, sulfur, and other pollutants.

  • by AntiTuX ( 202333 ) on Monday June 17, 2002 @05:15AM (#3714183) Homepage
    I don't know about you guys, but I don't find people who make fun of this amusing whatsoever. I lived in nome for 5 years (which is on the mainland, by shishmaref). I never saw any real global warming stuff going on, but I do know that having to move a whole town off the island is going to be *EXTREMELY* detrimental. I loved alaska, but hated it at the same time. For fuck's sake, they're voting on moving EVERYONE off the island, and onto the mainland, giving up their homes, their jobs, everything. Fucking quit making it out to be a joke, it's not funny. What if everyone in your neighborhood had to move because some corporation bought the entire block, and you didn't get a cent of it. Would you appreciate it if everyone fucking laughed at you? didn't think so. Show some respect for christ's sake.
    Back off, seriously.
  • I realize that there's no examination to be qualified as a Slashdot reader, but it amazes me that people with the wit to read Slashdot make such ridiculous arguments as people inevitably do on this subject.

    Correlation is not causation, but there's a mechanism, a prediction, a verification of the prediction, and a complete lack of any alternative plausible hypotheses at this point.

    Just because we understand the physiology of hangovers, and you drank like a fish last night, and you have a terrible headache just like the last six times you overdid it doesn't mean that your headache is a hangover. After all, correlation is not causation. Still, it might be a good idea to ease up on your drinking anyway.

    Anyone who claims the evidence is weak at this point is willfully ignoring the evidence, or selecting *very* carefully from it, or listening to someone else who is doing so.

    Things are pretty much on track with the earliest greenhouse predictions from 15 years ago. (Biggest and earliest changes were expected at high northern latitudes. What do you know...)

    And it gets dramatically worse from here on. Fossil fuels, in addition to being responsible for a lot of otherwise dangerous global entanglements, are doing damage to the world not only increasingly but acceleratingly. Nothing but ideology and special interests prevent us from escaping our headlong dive toward widespread environmental disruption combined with getting messed up in medieval throwback geopolitics. Losing fossil fuel dependency fast is a big double win, but it's a little inconvenient to some corporations. Hmm.

    It's really time people with any brain cells started to look at the evidence [].

Statistics are no substitute for judgement. -- Henry Clay