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Arctic Ice Holds Much CO2 128

scottie2shoes writes "The Edmonton Journal is reporting fascinating research on the role of arctic ice in absorbing carbon dioxide. It seems that (contrary to what was previously thought) arctic ice actually absorbs significant quantites of CO2 and is thus a key player in the 'greenhouse gas game'. So melting the ice caps won't just flood thousands of square miles of land and wipe out thousands of species, now it is is starting to sound serious..."
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Arctic Ice Holds Much CO2

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  • Circular (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cybermancer ( 99420 ) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @06:51PM (#8310961) Homepage
    So greenhouse gases cause global warming which melt the ice caps and then releases greenhouse gases?
    • Re:Circular (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Molina the Bofh ( 99621 ) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @06:56PM (#8311009) Homepage
      Not only this, but the Arctic ice melting decreases Earth's albedo, thus melting more ice and releasing more greenhouse gases.
      • Re:Circular (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Except that there is also the posibility that the open seas that replace the ice will absorb more carbon dioxide than the ice itself did, regulating the whole mess and stopping any runaway effect. Of course it's only a theory, and not one I'd bet the farm on. More research is needed (when isn't it?).
        • Re:Circular (Score:2, Insightful)

          by ralphclark ( 11346 )
          Actually some of these processes are fairly well understood. eg. warmer waters plus increased dissolved CO2 in the ocean causes massive algal blooms which wipe out all the fish.

          However, your so-called "theory" is just uneducated armchair bullshit because - as anyone who has done high school chemistry would know - the solubility of gases in water decreases as temperature increases. So as the ice melts and the oceans get warmer, the dissolved CO2 would in fact be released into the atmosphere, accelerating th
          • Re:Circular (Score:2, Insightful)

            by DigiShaman ( 671371 )
            Of all the years the Earth has been around (4.5 billion?), why would a run-away process happen now? I have a gut feeling that maybe all of this climatic change is just one of the many cycles that the Earth goes through. So regardless of the outcome, the poles shouldn't be melted forever.
            • So in, say, 10 millenia, it probably be the old climate again. How comforting.
              This will make the storms, droughts, floodings and the massive migration caused by it much more bearable.

              > why would a run-away process happen now?

              Um, some totally unimportant lifeform achieved to increase the CO2 level in the last 50 years to the highest amount in the last 100 millenia.

              Probably more important, those impertinent pigs and cows are producing tremendous amounts of CH4.
            • Re:Circular (Score:3, Insightful)

              by fluffy666 ( 582573 )

              Of all the years the Earth has been around (4.5 billion?), why would a run-away process happen now?

              Over the very long term, the history of the earth's climate has been a case of the sun getting gradually hotter, and CO2 levels dropping in compensation. This system nearly broke down around 800 million to 600 million years ago, leaving the earth almost entirely frozen over.

              75 million years ago, temperatures were extremely high by today's standards; there is a lot of leeway within the long term equlibriu

          • Re:Circular (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Random832 ( 694525 )
            Ice is not water. [PP was saying that] it's possible that cold open water works better than ice and would offset the warm water elsewhere
          • Re:Circular (Score:3, Interesting)

            by duffbeer703 ( 177751 ) *
            Perhaps warmer ocean temperatures will encourage the growth of plankton, which are the largest consumers of CO2 gas in the atmosphere.
            • Re:Circular (Score:3, Insightful)

              by geoswan ( 316494 )

              ...plankton, which are the largest consumers of CO2 gas in the atmosphere...

              Excuse me, but how can ocean plankton be the largest consumers of CO2 in the atmosphere ?

              With the exception of those animicules that die, dropping a calcium carbonate shell to the ocean floor what happens to plankton blooms? Don't they get eaten, metabolized, and turned back into CO2? Or, if they don't get eaten, don't they poison the water, rot anaerbically, producing CO2 and CH4?

              With the exception of animicules that l

              • They make the most amount of oxygen (yes, even more than the rain forests), so, I'm assuming they intake the mot amount of CO2.
          • I can't figure out what "theory" you are calling bullshit. Please elucidate.
          • Wouldn't the huge algae boom cause lots of C02 to be absorbed? Maybe the yucky algae will save us!?
        • Re:Circular (Score:5, Informative)

          by Molina the Bofh ( 99621 ) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @10:15PM (#8312476) Homepage
          In order to the ice melt, temperature must be increased. A hotter liquid can hold less dissolved gasses. An increase of one degree C on the oceans means some billions of tons of CO2 more on the air.

          And we simply dump too much CO2. "The average American per capita emission is 5 tons of carbon annually." [ucsd.edu]> (Damn! It's TOO much!)

          More CO2 on the air, plus oceans retaining less C02 means something bad will happen.
          • We must do everything in our power to reduce the heat we are generating. Everyone, if you are reading this post from a Pentium IV, please SHUT DOWN NOW! Thank you.
          • Yeah, a hotter liquid can hold less gas than a colder liquid, that's not the question here. The question is, can a liquid ocean (and all the life in it) suck up more CO2 than a frozen ocean. My guess would have to be yes. It's not the water itself that accounts for most of the CO2 absorption from the atmosphere, it's the life in the water.

        • Of course it's only a theory, and not one I'd bet the farm on.

          Literally, we have bet all the farms on it already.

          Coastal flooding is the least of my worries should there be an actual significant warming trend, man-made or otherwise.

          It's that once arable land helping to feed 6 billion people will lose it's agricultural productivity. Oklahoma may become a dustbowl and we'll all need to move north to Manitoba to grow wheat. And that's taking the optimistic view that the area of temperate climate just "mo

      • I believe its called an autocatalytic process
    • Re: Circular (Score:3, Informative)

      by Black Parrot ( 19622 )


      > So greenhouse gases cause global warming which melt the ice caps and then releases greenhouse gases?

      Yep, positive feedback cycles are "circular".

      • Re: Circular (Score:1, Interesting)

        by cybermancer ( 99420 )
        How come Homer and Krusty look like clones?

        This is way off topic, but it was in your signature line. I was listening to an interview with Matt Groening on Fresh Air (I think) and he explained this point. He was trying to make it a point that Bart hates his father but loves this clone that looks exactly like his father.

        You can listen to the interview [npr.org] online. I may be remembering a different interview, but I am quite sure that the similarities between Homer and Krusty was intentional.

        • >> How come Homer and Krusty look like clones?

          > This is way off topic, but it was in your signature line. I was listening to an interview with Matt Groening on Fresh Air (I think) and he explained this point. He was trying to make it a point that Bart hates his father but loves this clone that looks exactly like his father.

          Thanks. Several other people have answered, and I just haven't gotten around to changing my .sig.

    • Oh, it gets even better. Here's another nasty feedback loop.

      Many people are unaware that fully one third of the world's biomass is taken up by methane-metabolizing microbes of the Arcaea family -- close ancestors to the lifeforms that dominated the Earth before the evolution of plant species forever changed us from a primarily methane atmosphere to one of oxygen, CO2, and nitrogen. Marine biologists have only become fully aware of their existence in the past few decades. Buy this month's Discover magazi
  • by El ( 94934 ) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @07:03PM (#8311069)
    But couldn't we do something useful with all that carbon, say, make artificial diamonds out of it, thus preventing it from forming C02? More O2 and less C02 would be a good thing, wouldn't it? (Unless you're a plant.)
    • But you're not necessarily creating more oxygen through doing this. All you are doing is getting rid of CO2 which (theoretically) could be used to help grow plants, which in turn produce oxygen.
    • Let me introduce to you the concept of something called "chemical bonds" and something called "energy."

      Basically, different atoms are bonded together with these "chemical bonds," and the "bond energies" of these "chemical bonds" determines the stability of the compound and how much "energy" is needed to break them or is produced in creating them.

      The "chemical bonds" in CO2 are quite strong, so breaking them apart to form C and O2 would require a LOT of chemical "energy" (the same "energy," in fact, produc
      • Yes, the suggestion that we convert the carbon in C02 to diamonds was deliberately tongue-in-cheek, as it is obvious that ridiculous amounts of energy would be required. However, I was hoping to provoke some discussion on whether or not there are actually any feasible methods of sequestering C02 to remove some of the greenhouse effect.
        • It has been suggested that we sequester liquid CO2 in abandoned natural gas mines and seal them up. Perhaps that is what an ancient civilization did in the Artic. ;)
          • liquid CO2? That makes little sense, CO2 sublimates(goes directly from solid to gaseous state) at atmospheric pressure- in the solid form it's commonly referred to as "Dry Ice". CO2 can be made liquid given the right temperature and pressure, but it wouldn't be easy or efficient to put mines under high pressure just to make CO2 liquid.

            Whoever made that suggestion didn't know much about chemistry.

      • Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the breaking of CO2 into C and O2 exactly what plants do during photosynthesis? So this is essentially cheap regardless of how much energy it takes, all you need is a large surface area with sunlight striking it, and algae, trees, etc. will do it for you? The problem then becomes how to capture the carbon before it oxidizes again - and we had an article some weeks back on collecting algae on the bottom of the ocean as a method of sequestering carbon.
      • Your posts while definitely factually correct were worded very condescendingly, don't you think? Not everybody is well versed in chemistry as you or I.

        I think you'll find that as you progress through college that your depth of knowledge is actually quite small and that you can never know as much as you want too. The breadth of human discovery is just too large for any one person to know everything. It is actually quite interesting to see how specialized some Doctoral thesis are. Someday soon you will f
        • Haha, of course I think it was condescendingly worded. However, it was partly tongue-in-cheek, and partly a reference to Dr. Evil's "time machine" and "laser."

          Seriously, though, I know that I am not omniscient, and I know that I want to learn more. Also, keep in mind that the original poster pointed out later that he knew what he was posting was ridiculous.

          If I were to be truly condescending/unhappy/mad at someone here, it would be because he pretend to know what he is talking about, even though he was
      • Nonsense!

        You just need a very sharp chisel.
      • by aminorex ( 141494 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @11:13AM (#8316298) Homepage Journal
        > Let me introduce to you the concept of
        > something called "chemical bonds" and
        > something called "energy."

        Hey, no problem: Global warming means more
        energy, right?

        And we can easily exploit it, since
        temperature differences are what make
        engines run. Here's my plan: Take a big
        wire, put one end in the cold past, and
        the other end in the hot future....

        Uh, nevermind.

        • Here's my plan: Take a big
          wire, put one end in the cold past, and
          the other end in the hot future....


          Whoa! You just invented the Trans-Temporal Atmospheric Sterling Engine. Once you begin construction, I'm going to follow the wire that leads to the past and patent the idea. Unless...you've already laid the wire that leads to the future and you knew I was going to post this so you've already patented it. Damn you!
  • More Info? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Overdrive_SS ( 243510 ) <Overdrive_SS@yah[ ]com ['oo.' in gap]> on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @07:06PM (#8311102)
    The article seemed pretty light on the details. How do they go about measuring these things? Is it possible that there was just more CO2 in the atmosphere when the ice formed?
    • Re:More Info? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jgardn ( 539054 ) <jgardn@alumni.washington.edu> on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @01:35AM (#8313464) Homepage Journal
      You'll find any study that espouses global warming to be light on the details and any empirical numbers.

      No one ever compares the actual amounts of energy or chemicals, nor do they estimate the CO2 sinks in the world that are natural.

      It's kind of like the traffic studies that say "If we build another lane, people will just fill it up, so why do it?" rather than "Building one more lane will increase traffic flow by X0 and decrease travel time by X1, which is estimated to increase the economy by Y, and it will cost Z to build it."

      • Re:More Info? (Score:4, Informative)

        by stevelinton ( 4044 ) <sal@dcs.st-and.ac.uk> on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @07:34AM (#8314617) Homepage
        Try http://books.nap.edu/html/climatechange/ (US National Academy of Sciences review).

        The really detailed numbers are in http://www.grida.no/climate/ipcc_tar/ (which is about 1000 fairly technical pages. There are various summaries and the US report independently confirmed that they are reasonably accurate summaries,

      • No one ever compares the actual amounts of energy or chemicals, nor do they estimate the CO2 sinks in the world that are natural.

        There is the trap of killing the messenger, upon hearing bad news. You aren't falling into this trap, are you?

        So, what are these carbon sinks that you want us to gamble on?

        It seems to me that most carbon sinks that are put forward only work in the short term. Can we lock carbon up in forests? Temporarily, maybe. Forests burn. Or trees fall down, and decay, and their

  • Is this new? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RevAaron ( 125240 ) <revaaron@@@hotmail...com> on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @07:08PM (#8311119) Homepage
    Is there anything new with this? I thought this was something known for quite a while.

    Another nasty factor contributing to the runaway positive feedback loop is the warming of bogs. The strip of bogs around the northern part of the world holds 25% of all of the world's carbon- it's one helluva sink. As the climate warms up, the bogs start warming up, which will start releasing a lot of methane and CO2. A professor here at my school (John Pastor) has been doing work measuring this. Spooky stuff.
    • Yeah, I learned this is school many years ago. This isn't news at all.
  • Where does it go? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by jgoemat ( 565882 ) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @07:11PM (#8311154)
    I don't quite get what they are trying to say... If the ice is "sucking down" the carbon dioxide, where is it going? It's not a black whole to get rid of carbon dioxide. Is it putting it down through the ice into the ocean? Is it storing it in the ice itself? Is the ice absorbing oxygen and nitrogen as well?

    If passing the CO2 down to the ocean, I think it would be beneficial to have less ice to allow more plankton in the open water to convert CO2 to O2.

    If absorbing in the ice, are there huge bubbles? What is the capacity? Has the ice not reached it's capacity over the last several thousand years? If not, then when would it reach it's storage capacity anyway?

    What is the mechanism for the transmission of CO2 through solid ice?

    How did the earth get rid of CO2 before man started generating it by burning fossil fuels?

    • by jgardn ( 539054 )
      The earth is a tremendously complicated system and anyone that pretends to understand it completely is lying. We only understand very small bits of it, and we're like the blind men trying to ascertain what an elephant is. Some see a small part of it and get worried that we're turning the planet into an ice world. Others worry about a water world. Others say we are going to turn it into a tropical paradise. There were people running around in the 70's claiming that the world would be so full of people that t
      • I have to second this one. In an age where we can't even get an accurate prediction of the local weather 1 *day* in advance, we are trying to claim we know what will happen on a global scale years in advance.

        There are a huge number of variables when you are talking about the climate and we only know the smallest bit about it. We know Earth has gone through warming and cooling cycles before without our help and for all we know, trying to prevent it might end up making it worse.

        Luckily, we are rather adapti
        • > I have to second this one. In an age where we
          > can't even get an accurate prediction of the local
          > weather 1 *day* in advance, we are trying to claim
          > we know what will happen on a global scale years
          > in advance.

          That's like saying that because you can't predict in detail the motion of a bit of soap scum when you open the drain that you can't say that the tub is going to empty.
    • Although icebergs appear solid, they and nearly all naturally-formed ice are in constant transition between liquid and solid. As small portions transition to liquid, the super-cool water is extremely capable of dissolving gases - like CO2. When it refreezes not all of the gas escapes. Over time, CO2 is consumed and trapped. That's where it goes.

      Were nature allowed to take its course, it sounds like this spiral would lead to a dominance of plant life that maximizes growth (CO2 consumption) and minimizes ne

  • by melquiades ( 314628 ) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @07:29PM (#8311326) Homepage
    What happens if we finally manage to get consumers, corporations, and governments of industrialized nations to get their act together, and they all get the greenhouse crisis under control and CO2 levels back to normal...

    ...and humanity exhales a huge collective sigh of relief?!?

    • What happens if ... humanity exhales a huge collective sigh of relief?!?

      According to some "back of the envelope" math that I found on Google, the breaths of human beings contribute 0.000036% of the worlds carbon dioxide supply per day (which balances out with the fact that all the carbon they exhale comes from eating plants or things that eat plants).

      If you drop that down to a single collective simultenous breath, we all put out about 2.9 million liters of carbon dioxide or about the amount equal to the
  • Buoyancy please.... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by CrosbieFitch ( 694308 ) * <crosbie@cyberspaceengineers.org> on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @07:33PM (#8311358) Homepage
    Did someone say caps?

    Plural?

    Remember that melting the north polar ice cap will not raise sea level...

    • by crow ( 16139 ) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @07:54PM (#8311483) Homepage Journal
      I wasn going to post and say the same thing. I remember reading how Arctic ice (which is floating) obviously won't alter sea levels if it melts, and there was an explanation of why Greenland ice melting wouldn't make a big difference. The big concern in one section of Antarctica.

      But that isn't all exactly true, because the Earth is spinning. As ice melts at the North Pole, the Earth will become slightly less spherical, resulting in higher sea levels at the equator, and possibly making a slight difference in the need for leap seconds.

      Now whether that effect is significant or not, I have no idea.
      • It would be interesting to know whether or not tides would be more dynamic due extra water in the oceans.
      • by Noren ( 605012 )
        Ice melting at the north pole would have minimal effects on the Earth's rotation for exactly the same reason that it wouldn't effect sea levels- the same total mass of H2O will be present at equilibrium over any given point whether it's floating ice or liquid. Given that the same mass of water would therefore be stored at the pole, this change by itself would have no direct effect on the water level at the equator.

        It is true that the (slightly) less dense ice is somewhat taller, so it might effect the Ear

    • don't forget that most of the world's fresh water is locked up in the Antarctic ice cap, and that isn't floating in the sea - it's on dry land.
      • don't forget that most of the world's fresh water is locked up in the Antarctic ice cap, and that isn't floating in the sea - it's on dry land

        The greenland icecap is also on land, and it's on par with the antarctic icecap in terms of volume of ice. BUT, theres a big difference if it all melts. The greenland icecap is situated between a couple mountain ranges, and is in places more than 3 miles thick, with a bottom well below sea level. If it all melts, it becomes a huge lake, whereas if the antarctic

        • The greenland icecap is ... on par with the antarctic icecap in terms of volume of ice.

          Are you sure? The CIA factbook says that Greenland is three times the size of Texas, and that Antarctica is 1.5 times the size of the USA. The CIA factbook says Greenland has 1,755,637 sq km ice-covered, and Antarctica has 13.72 million sq km ice-covered.

          ...The greenland icecap is situated between a couple mountain ranges, and is in places more than 3 miles thick, with a bottom well below sea level. If it all

    • Remember that melting the north polar ice cap will not raise sea level

      True, but rising sea level is only one of the problems associated with the green house effect. Too much fresh water flowing from the north pole could stop the gulf stream which will have catastrophic effects on the climate throughout the world, and start a new ice age in Europe and north America. Similarly, the raising of atmospheric temperature will have an unpredictable effect on weather everywhere, and could cause severe economic d

      • ah there you go... polar ice melting increases greenhouse effect which increases global warming which increases polar ice melting which shuts down the gulf stream which decreases temperatures which creates more arctic ice...

        the next Ice Age will solve the problem of global warming!!!

        I cant decide whether I'm joking or not... :-/
  • Does this add to the non-linear and chaotic nature of the atmosphere? In particular, does it cause the earth to swing between states where it is cold and the generated ice is storing CO2, stopping any greenhouse effect and keeping the earth cold, and vice versa?
  • by neuraloverload ( 751606 ) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @07:46PM (#8311432)
    http://www.theecologist.org/archive_article.html?a rticle=272&category=56 this gives a decent overview of the issue. effectively it states that co2 levels were much higher in the past, and as the climate turned a significant portion of it was locked in the ice sheets that up until recently were pretty stable. not any more. other concerns are methane gas pockets from rotted plant deposits that were eventually covered by the oceans or ice as well as bacteria colonies (http://www.discover.com/issues/mar-04/cover/) and could cause some pretty serious problems from a bunch of different angles. things like- you can't breathe co2 or methane with much success, so, like the big bubble that rose out of the lake in south africa http://www.smithsonianmag.si.edu/smithsonian/issue s03/sep03/killer_lakes.html and killed a bunch of people in the immediate vicinity. or tsunami activity. heck, a bubble coming up under a carrier battlegroup would probably swallow it whole and start another war, which would keep our minds and mouths occupied with everything but the selfextinction of man.
  • yeah. great. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mugnyte ( 203225 ) * on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @07:49PM (#8311453) Journal

    Unless people are actually dying at an alarming rate, no amount of evidence is going to change anything. The US is not focused on being "earth happy" is any way. Be superpower, stay superpower, alone. Through economic and military might now, but perhaps scientific or educational might on a better day.

    However, until the Atlantic currents slow to a crawl and we have another Ice Age, we're going to have to just deal with freakish weather and high insurance premiums.
    • Re: yeah. great. (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Black Parrot ( 19622 )

      > Unless people are actually dying at an alarming rate, no amount of evidence is going to change anything.

      I think the Great Melt is already upon us. Just look at the news of the past few years: Glacier National Park is becoming Bare Rock National Park; unprecedented signs of melt in the Artic last year; signs of instability in Antartic ice; predator-prey relationships getting out of whack due to an earlier spring melt. A few years earlier, Otzi melting out of the Alpine snow for the first time in 5000

    • The US is actually doing a lot more than other countries such as Russia and China, regarding pollution and other environmental issues.

      Fact is, I've always seen "Global Warming" as a bunch of balony... the Earth goes through Cycles. Ice ages, warmer periods, etc. There are a lot of paranoid people out there.

      Yes, pollution harms the environment, but it happens slowly. People like Green Gore that want to eliminate the Internal Combustion engine overnight are just nuts. This technology needs to Develop proper
  • by TheSHAD0W ( 258774 ) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @07:57PM (#8311503) Homepage
    I'm more worried about ANTARCTIC ice. You know, the big ice cap stuck on top of a field of active volcanoes, down South? A little bit of extra activity could really ruin our millennium.
  • by sdedeo ( 683762 ) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @08:10PM (#8311642) Homepage Journal
    As printed in the article:

    Here is where today's science becomes guesswork, however. Less ice could actually be better. Scientists still know very little about how the Arctic Ocean processes carbon, and a competing theory holds that open water could actually pick up more greenhouse gases.

    If human activity is turning "much of the Arctic into a polynya (a body of water that doesn't freeze in winter), then the Arctic or polar seas may become much more effective at removing the atmospheric carbon than they currently are," Papakyriakou said.

    The poster of this article (and those discussing the potential positive feedback mechanism that kicks in if ice is a greater sink than open water) are really smudging the issue here, and smudging it for political effect without regard either for the necessarily tentative nature of science at the margins (here, the untested margins of modelling an entire planetary ecosystem) or for the consequences of making scientists look like ridiculous Chicken Littles.

    I ride a bicycle to work, take the train, and am generally supportive of environmentally friendly living and governance. But, as a scientist, I am severely disappointed when other scientists (let alone journalists or Greenpeace) take an unfinished scientific debate and use it to propose sweeping changes in our lives -- changes that woud plunge a huge number of people into poverty (I live an environmentally sustainable life, but it does cost a lot more and I wouldn't demand that a single mother of two do it as well -- hey, you driving that pickup! shell out $50,000 for an electric car.)

    This is turning into a bit of a rant, but if you want to learn what other enivronmentalists -- who are also scientists -- think about the current fights over the greenhouse effect, GMOs, etc, you should read Patrick Moore [taemag.com]'s recent article (Moore was the cofounder of Greenpeace.)

    • (I live an environmentally sustainable life, but it does cost a lot more and I wouldn't demand that a single mother of two do it as well -- hey, you driving that pickup! shell out $50,000 for an electric car.)

      How the #$#@ is one supposed to pull a trailer or get hay with a wimpy $50k electric car? Especially when one can get a recent used pickup for $10k and pay less than half the insurance to boot?

      If it's used exclusely as a commuting vehicle, perhaps I can see your objection. But a truck is a working ve

      • Sorry, forgot to flag for irony. You are right, of course -- this is exactly my point.
        • Ah, okay. Just not the vehicle I usually picture for a single mother, unless in a rural environment where she would need one. More of the older 4-door, room for kids, groceries and safety seat.

          And sorry.. you hit the button on the 'wasteful polluting pickup' and got the stock response. (What kind of milage does that hybrid get hauling a 2 horse trailer? No? How about a ton of grain? A couple sheets of sheetrock and a dozen 2x4s?)

          Now the just for show 'don't come near it or you'll scratch the paint' trucks
          • Heads up: different poster now.

            I don't think anyone's saying that if you really have a need for a large vehicle, that you shouldn't use that vehicle. I don't think anyone's ever said that. If you need a truck, then when people say we need to cut down on trucks and SUVs, they clearly aren't talking to you.

            What is more often complained about is people who only think they need a truck or SUV. My girlfriend is a case in point. Much as I would like her to simply get a small car, she won't for a couple reason

      • In DC's Virginia suburbs I see a lot more Hummers than working pickups. And the new Prius starts at 20K$. (with a 5 month waiting list)
        • Well, I haven't been shopping for hybrid (and thus took the figure from the Original Poster) but I know you can get a ~2 year old truck with low mileage for about $10k, and insurance was literally half that of a compact (~$500 vs ~$1000 / 6 months).

    • But, as a scientist, I am severely disappointed when other scientists (let alone journalists or Greenpeace) take an unfinished scientific debate and use it to propose sweeping changes in our lives...

      Are you sure you're a scientist? Most scientific theories are continually debated and the debates are never finished. There will never be certainty on this issue. That's the nature of scientific theories. Playing the uncertainty card is the tactic of corporate spin-meisters who are content to drag this issu
      • by sdedeo ( 683762 )
        Are you sure you're a scientist? Most scientific theories are continually debated and the debates are never finished. There will never be certainty on this issue. That's the nature of scientific theories. Playing the uncertainty card is the tactic of corporate spin-meisters who are content to drag this issue out while they continue to sell our future livelihood away.

        Playing the "playing the card" is the tactic of far too many people.

        Some science is better understood than others. Tobacco causes cancer: p

        • Have you considered the vast economic disruption that would be caused by stopping all CO2 emissions instantly?

          Ironically, the biggest single change - moving to an all-Nuclear electric grid with off-peak electricity used to make some liquid fuel (Methanol being my preference) would actually lead to cheaper and more reliable electricity, as well as slashing CO2 emissions.

          Of course, suggesting a technically feasable and affordable solution that requires no major lifestyle changes, eliminates acute pollutan

    • by Anonymous Coward
      The poster of this article (and those discussing the potential positive feedback mechanism that kicks in if ice is a greater sink than open water) are really smudging the issue here

      Oh my god! They had the temerity to express a dissenting opinion? Off with their heads. In science there is no room for debate, only blind adherance to the status quo.

  • Oh great. Now even Slashdot is breaking with the skeptics on global warming. Now I know it's real.

    Solar, solar, solar, solar. Switch to solar now.

  • by Crypto Gnome ( 651401 ) on Tuesday February 17, 2004 @10:47PM (#8312708) Homepage Journal
    In an interesting twist on the question of global warming, many and various recent scientific studies show that Research into Global Warming leads to additional releases of Greenhouse Gasses (most notoriously, scientists blowing smoke and being full of hot air)

    In a most impressive statement of The Blindingly Obvious, Professor Julian Something-Thriller was heard commenting that

    "See-oh-two is a GreenHouse Gas, every conference and research project on Global Warming involves vast amounts of rather heated debate greatly increasing the output of said GreenHouse Gas due to the aspirations of the entire scientific community"

    When asked why nobody had seen this coming he retorted that "Even a bumbling fool knows that most GreenHouse gases are invisible to the naked eye."
  • if the whole global warming/greenhouse effect is not merely a cycle since we know that at several points in history the earth has been much warmer or much colder than it is at present. now I am not saying humanity has played its part in this warming trend but what we need is good hard evidence that the process is not completely natural. since I am not an ecologist this is just mumbling
  • What we need is some higher order statistical processing... We should take data such as industrialization, CO2 production, ice cap area, etc and calculate such features as Bicoherence, Tricorrelation, etc... . Let some real math show the real story.

    And the journalists can all go to hell...
    • Re:What we need... (Score:2, Insightful)

      by grozzie2 ( 698656 )
      Let some real math show the real story.

      There is a problem with this, real math is not sensationalist journalism, and it wont get the public attention required to continue scraping out grants for research.

      This whole issue of warming, it's all sensationalized, and, the single biggest factor is completely ignored. If you read the common media, you are left with the impression that because we release a little more co2 than we used to, a whole bunch of heat gets trapped, and everything changes. Well, hat

      • Re:What we need... (Score:5, Informative)

        by HalfFlat ( 121672 ) on Wednesday February 18, 2004 @03:56AM (#8313931)
        I thought the key issue with CO2 was that it did not have the same opacity to radiation at all frequencies. The basic scenario being as follows.

        A range of solar radiation hits the Earth, a chunk of which is passed unimpeded by the CO2 in the atmosphere. This radiation hits the ground, water, whatever, gets bounced around a bit, absorbed and re-emitted preferentially at frequencies at which CO2 is more opaque. Thus CO2 in the atmosphere has a greater effect on decreasing the energy radiated part of the equation and less on the energy absorbed part.

        If this picture is correct, a greater CO2 percentage in the atmosphere, other things being more or less equal, would lead to a higher steady state mean temperature.

        PS: I'd wager most serious climatologists don't get a kick (or kickbacks) from scaring the population with the spectre of global warming. In fact, if you're looking for kickbacks, you're much more likely to find them on the other side of the fence. There is a real fear, backed by observed facts and admittedly primitive models, that the effect of mankind's activities on the environment will yield severe changes in climate in the not so distant future. Given how painful such changes would be, this ostritch approach towards the issue seems incredibly stupid.
        • If this picture is correct, a greater CO2 percentage in the atmosphere, other things being more or less equal, would lead to a higher steady state mean temperature.

          Therein lies my whole point. The assumption of 'other things being more or less equal'. Look again at the equation, accounting for what you bring up.

          Xfa-Yfb=E

          X = Input from the sun
          Y = Radiation to space
          fa= Filter factor for atmosphere incoming
          fb= Filter factor for atmosphere outgoing

          If the change in atmosphere composition affects the

          • We have a pretty good idea of the historical variations in X, and a reasonably good probabalistic idea of the scale of likely variations over the next few hundred years. We also have a pretty good idea of the long-term (billions of years) trend in X (which is up).

            Historically, variation in X does not plausibly explain the variation in mean temperature shown over last hundred years or so. Looking forward, it seems unlikely (although not impossible) that X will drop enough over the next hundred years to coun
      • CO2 is more than an insulator. It's a selective insulator.

        It is transparent to most of the energy coming from the Sun, which gets through and is absorbed by the land and sea (but not by ice, which reflects just about all of it).

        The warm land and sea then radiates heat. BUT, it is not nearly as hot as the sun, so it radiates at much longer wavelengths. CO2 is opaque to these wavelengths, so it absorbs this energy and re-radiates part of it downward.

        A planet with a CO2 atmosphere (eg Venus) receiving the s
      • thier entire arguement is based on the premise that the heat output from the sun is NOT changing.

        Liar [aip.org]

        Reading the rest of your post, do you seriously think that the scientists have not thought of this (and a whole lot more besides)? Do you bother to look at the science behind the headlines?

    • mount to nothing when you don't know all the variables.

      So really, don't get your panties in a know every time a new alarm sounds.
  • In other words, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere may be unstable, meaning that a small perturbation can result in a huge change in state. That means, if global warming actually were occurring, that it quite possibly would be (a) not our fault, but something that has been happening over the past several hundred, thousand, or ten thousand years, and is accelerating as the state of the system moves away from an unstable equilibrium point; and (b) impossible to stop, no matter what we do.

    • That means, if global warming actually were occurring, that it quite possibly would be (a) not our fault, but something that has been happening over the past several hundred, thousand, or ten thousand years, and is accelerating as the state of the system moves away from an unstable equilibrium point; and (b) impossible to stop, no matter what we do.

      You left out (c) that human acitvity will be just enough to push the system out of the current equilibrium.

      I wonder if, when the climate goes bonkers, God

      • Well, I didn't list (c), because it was the "default" - just about everyone who says global warming is occurring also blames it on human activity. I wanted to contrast the common assumption, and so I mentioned other possibilities (hence the phrase, "quite possibly would be").

        For that matter, (d) natural changes occurring as a result of other non-climatological cycles (solar activity, volcanic activity) could be to blame. Either of those could also nudge the system off the equilibrium point.

        "I wonder if
  • The Day After Tomorrow
    http://www.apple.com/trailers/fox/dayaft ertomorrow /

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