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Space Science

Satellites Show That Earth Has a Fever 596

Roland Piquepaille writes "A recent study from NASA says that satellites are acting as thermometers in space. Contrary to meteorological ground stations which measure the air temperature around two meters above the ground, satellites can accurately measure the temperature of the Earth's skin. And this new study, which covers the 18-year period going from 1981 to 1998, shows that the Earth's temperature is rising 0.43C per decade instead of the O.34C found by previous methods. Unfortunately for us, if satellites can more precisely measure this rise of the Earth's temperature, they cannot cure this fever. This overview contains more details and a spectacular image showing the European heat wave of the summer of 2003."
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Satellites Show That Earth Has a Fever

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  • So? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by hackstraw ( 262471 ) * on Friday April 23, 2004 @03:16PM (#8953005)
    Here we go again with the whole "Global Warming" theory. Lets just drop it. Hasn't everyone heard of ice ages? If not take a look here []. The last sentence says:
    If "ice age" is used to refer to long, generally cool, intervals during which glaciers advance and retreat, we are still in one today. Our modern climate represents a very short, warm period between glacial advances.
    And all of these ice ages and thaws (global warming if you will) happened without cars, humans, or anything. It just happened, and life went on when it was warm and cold. Can anyone tell me the worst case scenereo if global warming got as bad as its gonna get in the next century or so? (Baring the seas boiling, but I havn't heard any predictions of oceans boiling or anything.) Even some ppl think that cosmic rays cause global warming. Also, you can check out this article [] that says:
    Between 52 and 57 million years ago, the Earth was relatively warm. Tropical conditions actually extended all the way into the mid-latitudes (around northern Spain or the central United States for example), polar regions experienced temperate climates, and the difference in temperature between the equator and pole was much smaller than it is today. Indeed it was so warm that trees grew in both the Arctic and Antarctic, and alligators lived in Ellesmere Island at 78 degrees North.
    So if the next bad warming experience was as bad as the one 50 some million years ago, it would mean that people would have to move more inshore (there will still be a coast mind you) and we can live further north and south than we can now. Trama. I wish it was beer time!
  • Re:So? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by U.I.D 754625 ( 754625 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @03:20PM (#8953042) Homepage Journal
    I agree, and 18 year study proves nothing for a world and solar system that is 4.55 billion years (plus or minus about 1%).
  • past climates (Score:1, Insightful)

    by millahtime ( 710421 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @03:20PM (#8953043) Homepage Journal
    Over the past there have been many different climates. It is said that flying dinosaurs couldn't have flown in todays enviornment. The air isn't dense enough or humid enough. It needed to be more tropical.

    Even look at the earths poles. THere is evidence to show that the poles are reversed from a previous point in history.

    THe point is the earth goes throgh changes in climate without any human intervention at all. The continents weren't the same way way back when. Why are we harping so much on this?
  • by FroMan ( 111520 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @03:21PM (#8953058) Homepage Journal
    Perhaps we need a sample size of more than 20 years?
  • Earth cycles (Score:2, Insightful)

    by marika ( 572224 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @03:22PM (#8953073)
    We don't even know the earth enough to really be sure we are the ones causing these events. What if the planet is just due to warm up. Yes we mess a lot with the planet, humans are very good with messing with unlown stuff. There is so much we don't understand yet.
  • Re:So? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tango42 ( 662363 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @03:23PM (#8953083)
    I'm inclined to agree with most of your points, but I think the point the environmentalists are trying to make is that the temperature change is much faster now than it has been in the past, rather than it changing more. Things can adapt to slow changes, but fast changes can be more drastic.

    I still don't think we have anything to worry about, personally.
  • When in doubt... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by phaetonic ( 621542 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @03:23PM (#8953088)
    use the butterfly theory [] to explain it.
  • by the_2nd_coming ( 444906 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @03:23PM (#8953089) Homepage
    define what is causing it.

    is it nature or is it humans.

    we do not know, all we have is correlational data which is far from proof of anything at all.
  • Come on already (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 23, 2004 @03:24PM (#8953094)
    The one thing I've noticed about Slashdot is that a huge number of users seem dead set against the idea of global warming. Am I the only one who thinks that regardless of the exact status of global warming its reasonable to take steps to reduce emissions and so on?
    Assume global warming is real, and then enviromentally friendly policies are needed.
    Then assume it isn't. Its not like enviromentally friendly policies require you to sacrifice your first born son. We enact them, maybe have fewer SUV's, and live in a slightly cleaner world.
    You don't stand to lose anything by assuming global warming is real and going from there. You stand to lose a lot by ignoring it and having it turn out to be real.
  • by millahtime ( 710421 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @03:24PM (#8953101) Homepage Journal
    So, the Earth is getting warmer. Who says change is a bad thing??? Is it bad for the earth to be warmer than it is today??? I would guess not since it has been there before.

    I would assume it's because we humans are resistant to change and like what we know. But we are highly adaptive so, I'm sure we will be fine.
  • Re:So? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Unnngh! ( 731758 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @03:25PM (#8953105)
    True, it proves nothing. That doesn't mean that all the current changes, however, are natural. We definitely have the means to cause large-scale climate changes, means which have not been present on earth in all but the last few of those billions of years.

    So, are we inadvertently changing the climate for the worst? I personally don't think we are (at least not on a large scale), but there's no good way of telling right now. We probably won't know that we are until it's too late enforce negative gains (i.e. stop using so many fossil fuels) and we will have to do something very proactive to make the climate more pallatable for us humans;)

  • Re:So? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mobiux ( 118006 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @03:26PM (#8953113)
    And what the non-environmentalists are saying is that there is probably nothing we can do to stop it. It's a natual cycle on the planet.

    We have to look beyond what our personally kept records are and look into history to see what may be coming our way.
  • Climate change (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Doug Coulter ( 754128 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @03:26PM (#8953118) Homepage
    The problem isn't global warming, per se -- some like it hot. The problem could be better described as climate change. Sure the Earth's been through many cycles, but none where we were trying to have a technology-based civilization at the time, with food production concentrated in small areas, and the rest as cities/suburbs. All it would take to create major problems would be a major change in the pattern of rainfall. No one's going to want to tear down, say, New York, just because the climate there is suddenly good for growing crops, while California's went too dry and hot for that. And oak trees take a long time to migrate. Sure, the race will survive, but it might not be with as much fun as it could have been.
  • Re:So? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Friday April 23, 2004 @03:26PM (#8953121)
    Global warming most definitely exists as a short-term trend over the last 30 years, as so many different measurements can't all be wrong.

    The next question, however, is whether us humans are really the cause of it... would the Earth still be getting warmer even if we weren't creating manmade polution? It may just be that even if were we able to eliminate all of the anti-ozone polution in the world, the global average temerature might still go up anyway simply because the Sun keeps throwing more energy our way.

    It may be possible that the environmentalists are identifying a real problem, but not proposing a strong enough solution... that we'll actually have to somehow reflect-away a good chunk of sunlight in order to keep the Earth's temperature stable.
  • Re:So? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Daniel Dvorkin ( 106857 ) * on Friday April 23, 2004 @03:27PM (#8953127) Homepage Journal
    War. Plague. Famine.

    The mass migration you describe is certainly possible, and if temperatures rise enough to melt enough ice tochange coastlines, it's what will happen. Even if the coastlines don't change, there will still be disruptions, and we'll deal with them. Humanity will survive. Life will go on. That's a good thing.

    But millions, perhaps tens or hundreds of millions, maybe even billions, of people will die in the ensuing chaos. You may be sanguine about that; I'm not. I've seen mass movement of refugees on a much smaller scale, and trust me, it ain't pretty.
  • Re:Come on already (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 23, 2004 @03:29PM (#8953158)
    You don't stand to lose anything by assuming global warming is real and going from there.

    Wrong. People stand to lose their lifestyle.

    But isn't it easy to order others to make sacrifices?
  • so this... (Score:5, Insightful)

    The fact that the parent wasn't modded as "sarcastic" is an affront to /.'s moderation options. In seriousness, there are the 4 million brits who stand to lose their homes,,3604,120 0272,00.html (Sorry I don't know how to highlight links), and that's just the impact in one place. But I think the importance is that, although we are coming out of an iceage, there is a definite climate change being caused by human impact on the Earth. No, it won't wipe out all life on Earth or even cause us to go extinct, but (in the spirit that Earth day was yesterday) at least consider that we may be messing with things that we cannot control, and may be damaging things that we certainly cannot undo.
  • by LostCluster ( 625375 ) * on Friday April 23, 2004 @03:30PM (#8953167)
    Life is adaptive, but even species are not. I kinda think we as humanity want to keep this delaying this meek-inheriting-the-Earth thing as long as possible.
  • by GillBates0 ( 664202 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @03:31PM (#8953169) Homepage Journal
    According to this medical site []:
    The temperature increases for a number of reasons:
    * Chemicals, called cytokines and mediators, are produced in the body in response to an invasion from a microorganism, malignancy, or other intruder.
    * The body is making more macrophages, which are cells that go to combat when intruders are present in the body. These cells actually "eat-up" the invading organism.
    * The body is busily trying to produce natural antibodies, which fight infection. These antibodies will recognize the infection next time it tries to invade.

    Taken together with Agent Smith's insightful words []:
    "Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You are a plague. And we are... the cure."

    I think the message is clear - Mother Earth is trying to get rid of us.

  • Just more data (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Nurf ( 11774 ) * on Friday April 23, 2004 @03:31PM (#8953177) Homepage
    The problem with this is that it really means nothing. It's useful data to have, but with our current state of knowledge, we can't infer anything from it.

    The Earth's weather is a chaotic system. About the only thing you can be sure of is that things will be different tomorrow, compared to today. With a lot more research, we may be able to find strange attractors for some places at certain times, and use them to predict what is going to happen.

    The human concept of "climate" is entirely that: a human concept. Eighteen years of observations is a miniscule speck in the age of this planet, and we can't say with any certainty that any trends in those eighteen years will carry to the next eighteen years. A thousand years of observations falls into the same category - a tiny sample of a big and complex system.

    The Earth's weather changes on many scales: years, decades, centuries, millenia, and more. At each of those scales, there is change. Until we can understand or predict its behaviour across all those scales, we are practising voodoo when we make predictions.

    I have seen arguments and models that predict that the world will heat up dramatically in the next century. I have also seen others that predict that we will be entering a new ice age. The thing is, the models for both predictions are quite reasonable.

    So. We have a little data, and that's all we have. Conclusions may follow in the indeterminate future. Until then we have speculation.

    This is all fine and well, but the part that annoys me is that the media (in general) are treating the speculation as fact, and only covering the speculation that fits their agenda. Please beware!
  • Re:So? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by U.I.D 754625 ( 754625 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @03:33PM (#8953203) Homepage Journal
    The study is important and needs to continue, but you can't assume a rise in temperature over 2 decades means something bad is happening. I don't think we'll ever have enough data to prove whether we are right or wrong until the damage has been done (or apparently not done).
  • Re:So? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LS ( 57954 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @03:37PM (#8953238) Homepage
    I smell a troll.

    I see that you admit at least there is a global warming phenomena. Most scientists finally agree with that. But you question two things:

    1. Whether humans are causing global warming
    2. Whether global warming is a bad thing

    Let's address these two issues:

    1. Do humans cause global warming?

    1600 scientists, include over 100 NOBEL LAUREATES, agree that human activity is causing global warming. I trust them FAR MORE than you:

    It's obvious that climate has changed on Earth with or without humans, but it's also a known fact that human activity is accelerating climate change in a way different from natural causes

    2. Is global warming a bad thing?

    Here's where the troll part comes in. Do you actually believe the only consequence of global warming is rolling up our pants and walking inland a couple feet? The economy falls apart when the prices go up on oil. What do you think will happen when we are asked to MOVE LOS ANGELES AND NEW YORK INLAND??? What happens when the phytoplankton are no longer able to survive in the ocean water with low salinity? Well, let me tell you that phytoplankton produce most of the oxygen you breath...


  • Re:past climates (Score:3, Insightful)

    by FlyingOrca ( 747207 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @03:37PM (#8953239) Journal
    Because this time we appear to be causing it ourselves, and because the ramifications for our descendents are immensely disruptive and expensive.

    While many otherwise reasonable people seem to like to question the former point, the fact is that the best climate models we have predicted a certain amount of anthropogenic climate forcing. Observations are right in line with those predictions.
  • by rock_climbing_guy ( 630276 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @03:41PM (#8953286) Journal
    This article just reminds me why it is that we need the ability to moderate entire articles -1, Troll.

    OMG, t3h w0r1d iz g3771ng h07, OMG.

  • by maxpublic ( 450413 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @03:41PM (#8953289) Homepage
    Maybe the scientists do know, and this is just a case of bad reporting...

    It's a case of bad reporting. The loss of ice in both the poles and Greenland is well-documented and goes back more than two decades, with some pretty spectacular and sudden melts or glacier break-aways occuring within the last half-dozen years.

    However, as a number of people have pointed out, there's absolutely zero evidence that this is due to human activity. It could very well be natural, as was the case in human history for both the 'little ice age' and period of abnormal warming during the previous millennium which allowed the Norse to colonize the southern tip of Greenland. Both of these changes were more extreme than the changes we're currently seeing.

    Hell, it could just be due to a tiny increase in our sun's thermal output. Most people don't know that our sun is a VARIABLE star, which means that it's energy output changes on an irregular, unpredictable basis. If the solar output were to increase by less than 1/10th of 1 percent over a sustained period of time, you'd get much the same thing we're seeing today - and since the alteration itself would've happened a couple of centuries back (it takes awhile for minute changes to broad impacts) we wouldn't know about it today, since two centuries ago there was no reliable way to accurately measure solar energy output.

  • Riiiight... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Andorion ( 526481 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @03:44PM (#8953315)
    Because, you know, one day Los Angeles will be ok, and five, ten years later it'll be submerged.

    What kind of timescale do you think we're talking?

  • Re:past climates (Score:3, Insightful)

    by millahtime ( 710421 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @03:44PM (#8953316) Homepage Journal
    Because there's a good chance we're not only causing this change

    Who says we are causing the Earth to heat up??? How do we know it wouldn't have heated up on it's own anyway??? If you study the history of the earth you will learn that the Earth is always changing. It has had hotter and colder times in history. It was fluxuating like this before cars, aersol cans, computers and many other modern inventions. To take a look at a small window of a few years to make a judgement is like a doctor looking in your ear for a knee pain and diagnosing you.
  • Re:So? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by aceat64 ( 706106 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @03:47PM (#8953336)
    It's not all going to happen at once, the ice won't all melt in 3 seconds sending massive tidal waves at us. The level of the ocean will slowly rise, and we'll slowly move back, no one's going to die from that.
  • Re:So? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dun Malg ( 230075 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @03:50PM (#8953374) Homepage
    Humanity will survive. Life will go on. That's a good thing. But millions, perhaps tens or hundreds of millions, maybe even billions, of people will die in the ensuing chaos.

    At a rise of .024 deg C a year, I seriously doubt the flooding and and mass migration will happen in a short enough span to cause "chaos", much less the kind that kills billions..

  • Re:So? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by southpolesammy ( 150094 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @03:53PM (#8953406) Journal
    Nature is self-regulating. Even if we artificially heat our planet past the point of our viability, mother nature will make sure that doesn't continue to cook the planet by making our existence less and less viable. At that point, we will either be forced to adapt our ways or we will prove Darwin's theories.
  • Re:So? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by WormholeFiend ( 674934 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @03:54PM (#8953423)
    by that rationale, you can just dismiss humans as a footnote in the solar system's history.

    moreover, the whole "ecological" movement can also be shown as a frivolous endeavour, since at some point in the future, the Sun is going to bake this planet dry, then swallow it and blow apart in a supernova.

    come to think of it, why are we doing all this science crap? why do we go to work?

    nihilist homeless bums are starting to look damn smart now, dont they? //rant
  • by Oligonicella ( 659917 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @03:55PM (#8953436)
    The "butterfly theory" is right up there with the "holographic univers theory". Utter pap.
  • Re:So? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Daniel Dvorkin ( 106857 ) * on Friday April 23, 2004 @03:57PM (#8953450) Homepage Journal
    It doesn't work that way. These things don't happen smoothly. Bigger storms (with bigger storm surges), large flat areas at low elevation suddenly becoming uninhabitable, agricultural disruption ... Nobody's talking about massive tidal waves. What they are talking about, very reasonably, is a change in global climate that will require relocation of a significant portion of the people on the planet, and that will cause death and misery on a massive scale.

    Most of the world's population centers are built on coastal land. There is no way around this.
  • by danharan ( 714822 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @03:57PM (#8953453) Journal
    How do we know that snow-covered regions aren't getting colder, you ask.

    Simple- glaciers are retreating everywhere [] and polar ice [] is melting too. This of course changes albedo...

    As for the oceans? They are getting warmer too: rftemp /1996.html

    It is incredible that we are still asking whether warming is actually real.

    [freak-out]IT'S REAL DAMN IT, IT's REAL![/freak-out]

    I can understand people questionning what causes warming, but for chriss' sakes people- it's getting warm down here, and weather patterns have become rather erratic:

    Insurance companies have paid out $91.8 billion in losses from weather-related natural disasters in the 1990s so far, close to four times the weather-related claims handed out during the entire decade of the 1980s. ( link []

    Even without the satelite data, we should know by now that things are changing, and likely not for the better.

    Since I'm commenting... the next stage of uncertainty and doubt is what portion of climate change is caused by humans, with the implication that we shouldn't do anything about it. And the F of FUD, being we'll run the economy.

    Well, none of this is true or relevant. Moving beyond fossil fuels can be good for the economy.
  • Re:so this... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by kippy ( 416183 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @03:58PM (#8953466)
    In seriousness, there are the 4 million brits who stand to lose their homes,

    God didn't create Holland, the dutch did. []
  • Re:So? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ThosLives ( 686517 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @03:58PM (#8953475) Journal
    That doesn't mean that all the current changes, however, are natural.
    Interesting philosophical debate: If humans are a product of nature, and humans do something, shouldn't that still be considered "natural"? If the evolution of a species such as humans is then natural, and that evolution "naturally" results in technology which stresses an ecosystem in strange ways, is that bad? Is it good?

    I think this whole debate is moot until people can decide on how to determine such fundamental things. Saying stuff like "because it will cause certain species to die off" doesn't mean anything in an amoral, evolutionistic world view: is it bad for species to die off?

    I also like to point out for all you who like their statistics: correlation does not imply causality. (For instance: the fact that trees always move when there is wind does not mean that the movement of trees causes wind.) I do not yet think it is possible to set up an experiment to test the relationship between millions of variables and some average global temperature reading. The inertia and chaotic nature of the terrestrial atmospheric system also makes it quite difficult to put into a control system - do you use a PID controller? H-infinity? What *should* the setpoint be? The answer to most of these is "nobody knows".


  • Re:Earth cycles (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @03:59PM (#8953486) Journal
    During the middle ages and during another time a few thousand years ago, the earth was warmer then today.

    Grapes were grown in winneries in southern Scottland by the 1200's and 1300's. I believe its still too cool today to grow them there but I dont know. Also the Vikings described greenland as a warm place like their native homeland. They wore jackets of course but not heavy ones like the eskimo's.

    If we study history or read the b ible, we know that grains and large grasslands and farms as well as animals like crocodiles and even lions once grew in ancient Egypt and Israel. Today its all dust and desert. It was warmer and wettier in the old days which explained why the empire did so well storing massive food that they would sell to other nations. Whole flocks of birds in which ancient egyptians hunted are now only in wettier parts of Afria. and former cannels and tributaries of the Nile are gone.I currently live in Las Vegas and there is history from a few thousand years ago that Indians hunted goats and wild deer?? Today they are all gone, except for a few deerover 6k feet in elevation in the highest mountain peaks.

    The climate changes all the time. It has got warmer before and cooler.

    However it should be noted that strong cold snaps come as a result of this that last centuries.

    After thewarm 1200's and 1300's, the mini ice age started extremely quickly. It killed the Vikings in Greenland and Iceland, crushed villages in the alps. Caused fammine and froze many people to death. It lessed for awhile but stuck around to this day.

    As soon as grapes grow in scottland then we know we are in trouble. Theory points out that if the polar ice caps melt, they dilute ocean currents, which effect temperature, rain patterns, and also make it much easier for artic air to head south via cold fronts. Warm water keeps or pushes cold air north.

    Infact this may be starting now! I heard though in London plants are coming into bloom 3 weeks earlier then just 30 or 40 years ago by people who track them. So it is warming up. That is almost month ealier. But how much? As soon as Scotts can plant grapes, then we know something might be happening like the mini Ice Age. That is why scientists are scared. The gulf stream is slowing down, and the northeast had the coldest winter on record as result. But that is still subjective. It could be dusturbances underwater which also effect surface currents.

  • by panurge ( 573432 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @04:03PM (#8953539)
    Well, that seems to be the general approach's not happening, or it's natural, perhaps the poles are getting colder...nyaah,nyaah, I can't hear you.

    The point is surely not that the Earth gets hotter and colder. I accept that (where I live I can look out the window and see some leftovers from the last glaciation or so.)
    Rather, it is that the heating up is very, very rapid in geological terms. During the 19th Century when the age of the Earth was realised, it was understood that natural processes were very slow. Now they are happening really rather fast, and the satellite data suggests it is faster than previously believed. There has been, in geological terms, a step change in atmospheric carbon dioxide, and a lagging step change in temperature. (as an aside why can't a geek site manage subscript and superscript? Step changes are usually bad news. I have just become a grandfather and I can't help contrasting when I was born into a post-WW2 world rather full of optimism despite McCarthy et al, and my granddaughter being born into a world where accelerating climate change, population migration, hydraulic, food and energy wars may be the norm. A load of /.ers announcing that everything is just fine does nothing for my peace of mind. You are the intelligent people, for the most part. If you aren't taking it seriously, what are the morons doing?

  • Re:So? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 23, 2004 @04:06PM (#8953578)
    Nature is self-regulating. Even if we artificially heat our planet past the point of our viability, mother nature will make sure that doesn't continue to cook the planet by making our existence less and less viable

    Yes, of course. This is why Venus and Mars have the climates they have.

  • Re:past climates (Score:4, Insightful)

    by killjoe ( 766577 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @04:06PM (#8953585)
    "Who says we are causing the Earth to heat up???"

    The climatologist, physists, chemist, oceonagrophers and geologists. You know, those people with PHDs who have been studying the climate for decades and who have run all kinds of experiments and have made lots of observations.

    I know that you probably know more then all those people combined and are in a better position to make judgement, after all they are probably ignorant liberal elite collage professors who never listen to Bill Oreilly or Rush Limbaugh. So what if you have a PHD and have been stuying the atmosphere all of your adult life. That's just "book learnin". You know better. You have common sense and street smarts.
  • by 2marcus ( 704338 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @04:09PM (#8953627)

    Given that we receive about 340 W/m2 of solar radiation, and given that the forcing due to human induced greenhouse gas emissions is _already_ 2.4 W/m2 and even if we stabilize CO2 concentrations at 550 ppm it will rise _another_ 3 W/m2, we are going to be effectively adding 1.5% or more to solar luminosity. (Yes, there is some cooling effect due to aerosol emissions, but aerosols are a flow pollutants, GHGs are a stock, which means that the aerosol influence won't grow the same way).

    So if you are sticking by your "1/10th of 1 percent" would make big changes, then you have to admit that we're making HUGE changes.
  • Re:So? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ninjadroid ( 622900 ) <> on Friday April 23, 2004 @04:09PM (#8953635) Homepage

    1600 scientists, include[sic] over 100 NOBEL LAUREATES, agree that human activity is causing global warming.

    A consensus has nothing to do with science; that's politics. Science is based around proving/disproving a testable hypothesis. Show me the proof of global warming.

  • Re:So? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mobiux ( 118006 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @04:20PM (#8953787)
    Who's saying it not natural? What scientists?

    They are looking at a couple hundred years of data and trying to explain why something that's been around for 4.3 billion years is suddenly warmer.

    These same scientists would be blaming SUV's for an ice age if it were suddenly getting colder. When it's well know that there are cycles to temperature change on the planet.

    Yeah maybe in the last 18 years it's gone up relatively alot, but who know's in the next 18 years it may average out.

    You gotta look at the bigger picture. Like eons not decades.
  • by Scrameustache ( 459504 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @04:25PM (#8953844) Homepage Journal
    would the Earth still be getting warmer even if we weren't creating manmade polution? It may just be that even if were we able to eliminate all of the anti-ozone polution in the world, the global average temerature might still go up anyway

    Sigh, the ozone issue and greenhouse gasses that cause global warming are 2 different environmenal issues. They are both atmospheric pollutant issues, but they are not the same.

    Ozone stops ultraviolet rays from reaching the surface, greenhouse gasses stop infrared heat from escaping to space.
  • Re:So? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pclminion ( 145572 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @04:25PM (#8953851)
    Interesting philosophical debate: If humans are a product of nature, and humans do something, shouldn't that still be considered "natural"? If the evolution of a species such as humans is then natural, and that evolution "naturally" results in technology which stresses an ecosystem in strange ways, is that bad? Is it good?

    This is what really gets to me in these debates. Most people are unwilling to view humans as merely a part of the complex biological system that exists on the surface of the planet. I see no logical reason why the human species should be set apart specially from everything else, and no reason to arbitrarily define human actions as "unnatural."

    I think the reason people are unwilling to consider this idea, is that they assume the reason it was brought up in the first place was to justify the trashing of the environment, under the guise that we are simply behaving "naturally." But seriously, that isn't the point. The point is, the Earth must be viewed holistically, as a system of many interacting and not always distinct parts. To think that we, as one small part, can somehow direct our actions in such a way as to favorably control its evolution, is arrogant and mistaken.

    Life and climate are dynamic, chaotic systems. We've all heard of the Butterfly Effect. Even the smallest, insignificant action has profound effects on everything, given enough time. Are these effects good or bad? What causes them to be good or bad? Suppose that we are causing global warming, and in 100 years the world will be a tropical rainforest. All sorts of new species will evolve in the hot jungles of northern Canada. What "right" do we have to alter the Earth's climate, cooling it down, and preventing those species from emerging?

    The fact is, global warming is a problem because it is a problem for humans. I don't think the Earth cares if species die off, and new ones emerge. It is a continual process of trying to come into equilibrium -- except the equilibrium is always shifting because of the billions of outside influences. Except this term "outside influences" is also a misnomer, because there are no truly "outside" influences -- the universe is one big system of cause and effect, and the closer you look at it, the harder it is to make distinctions between any of the parts.

    Does any of this mean that we shouldn't do our best to curb our production of CO2? It depends, first of all, on what the immediate consequences to human civilization would be. Are we going to flood all our coastal cities? If so, it hardly makes sense to argue about whether the decision is "right" or "wrong" -- it's a matter of practicality. But if not... Suppose species are wiped out, migration patterns shift, ecosystems turn to deserts, deserts to to jungles, evolution gets a kick in the pants in general... Can somebody give me a fundamental, justifiable reason why that is "wrong?" Are natural changes only "right" if they are not guided by conscious awareness? Can you provide a justification for such an arbitrary viewpoint?

  • by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @04:27PM (#8953879) Homepage
    We simply can't wait to collect a geologically significant body of data.

    If pollution is causing unnatural global warming, then we can't wait until said warming is undeniable fact before we act.

    I suggest an experiment: let's attempt to drastically reduce our emissions, as if we were addressing a real global warming problem. Then we can study temperature changes. If the rise in temprature decelerates or reverses, we could reasonably conclude that our pollution was the cause. If not, then we've made our air and water cleaner for no good reason, but at least we'd know!

  • Re:So? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by schon ( 31600 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @04:30PM (#8953922)
    would the Earth still be getting warmer even if we weren't creating manmade polution

    It's not just that - even if the earth were still getting warmer without manmade pollution, would it be getting warmer as fast?

    This is what the environmentalists are trying to say - but it keeps getting drowned out by people who don't want to hear it.
  • Re:So? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Suidae ( 162977 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @04:31PM (#8953936)
    I think 'unnatural' things and events are usually those things and events that are caused by human activity, particularly as related to technology.

    Hydroelectric dams are unatural, the Great Wall is unnatural, huge areas of land cultivated with plants of highly uniform genetics are unnatural.

    The fact that a thing is unnatural is not bad by most measures, but good and bad tend to be highly subjective. In the context of the environment good and bad relate mostly to the long-term impact of humanities activities. Bad things are things that disturb the ecology in ways that are not sustainable in the long term, such as reduction in genetic variety and depletion of topsoil.

    These 'bad' things are acceptable in the short term, as long as they are properly managed. Take our current high rate of usage of fossle fuels. Its a bad thing in that it causes things like acid rain and perhaps contributes to global warming by disturbing the carbon cycle. However, the damage is probably not permanent and it was a necessary step to fuel the industrial age. Tempering the progess during that time with economy and efficency might have resulted in a different technological and social outcome. Now that we as a species have reached a new technological level, we may now be able to leave behind the unsustainable technology of the industrial revolution.

    Related to your point about no one fully knowing what variables effect the system in what ways, I agree. That is one of the reasons why it is wise to try to keep our activities as low-impact as we can, and to keep a watch out for possible effects. I don't believe we all need to go live in yerts and become subsistance vegans, but we should make an effort to identify unsustainable resource usage and plan to keep it as short as we can without causing serious economic problems.
  • Re:Well, actually, (Score:3, Insightful)

    by FlyingOrca ( 747207 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @04:32PM (#8953943) Journal
    Are you an environmental scientist? Have you read the papers, articles, and books written by those who are, and share the concerns I've outlined?

    I'm not saying those are opposite ends of a spectrum. I'm saying that they are identified possible consequences of climate change; I'm saying that the best science on the subject to date suggests that we are contributing to that change; I'm saying that we should act now on what we strongly suspect while trying to find out more. What's so unreasonable about this one particular aspect of environmental science that Slashdotters don't seem to get it? It's like fundies and evolution.
  • Re:Come on already (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dachshund ( 300733 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @04:46PM (#8954105)
    Wrong. People stand to lose their lifestyle.

    Most of our "lifestyle" is still possible with more energy-efficient technology. Inefficient engines don't really add much to my lifestyle.

    And in the process of moving to more efficient tech, we get an economic dividend, as well... Not to mention the defense/political benefits of moving away from a fuel primarily obtained from politically unstable parts of the world.

  • Re:So? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Uggy ( 99326 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @04:49PM (#8954145) Homepage
    I think it all boils down to agenda. Nature seems to have an agenda, and that agenda is balance. Stuff eats other stuff. If there is too much prey, more predators are bred. If there is not enough, they die off. The animal and plant kingdom has no ability to look ahead, adapt to coming changes. They only respond and they have no agenda save survival.

    We humans, on the other hand, have our own agenda. For better or worse, our agenda does not at all times mesh well with nature's. We don't just die when there are too many of us.

    And we certainly value comfort at a comparable level to survival *G*.
  • Re:So? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by perlchild ( 582235 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @04:53PM (#8954172)
    Natural, in this case, is opposed to artificial which generally denotes the product of willful activity of sentient beings. Humans use "natural" to mean "without conscious thought" in many cases and "what these other humans didn't do" in many others.

    The fact that nature ignores many of our willful changes(because it has inertia, and the power granted by being a system in instable equilibrium for the best part of 10E5 years does not mean we WANT nature to regulate against us. It doesn't mean nature can't adjust to our changes, it means we might not like the consequences.

    Global warming means the overall temp might go up, but with the weather being a dynamic system, it might only mean that the temps at the poles rise up 10 degrees, and the equator and tropics go down 2 degrees, and guess what, it's warmer, globally, but more people are cold, because less people live in the Arctic Circle than in Quito, Ecuador, despite the fact that Quito is a bit smaller. I haven't gotten into altitude either... It's interesting that the article refers to the surface temperature of the "rock" we live on, as it might be a long term effect of the warming of the air on top of it.

    It might also be related to the magnetic shifts covered in other slashdot posts(geologic events that take millenia, and could share a cause with the ice ages[it would be surprising, but it's still possible]) and yet the article speaks of the evolution over decades.

    The problem with the climate is that we have trillions of life forms who all contribute part of the problem(breathing) and the solution(photosyntheis) to global warming. But approximately 6 billion of the actors are going on strike, saying we want to be a bigger part of the problem. While the other actors just watch, shake their head, and hope they don't get hit by the backlash of whatever "Correction" to use the economics term, the "gas balance" of the planet will apply.

    After all, that is a self-regulating equilibrium people "tend" to understand a (admittedly little) better.

    Being regulated by your equilibrium hurts... Much better to regulate yourself, when you can.
  • by DR SoB ( 749180 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @04:54PM (#8954190) Journal
    Actually they can tell the temperature of the past 2000-5000 years depending on which scientist you talk too. Tree's have rings which grow with age, and can tell you a lot about the climate of that year, that's one method, another are rocks/lava, the cooling and formation can tell you a lot about the environment and with carbon testing you can tell when the lava formed. There are many other methods as well.
  • 100 Laureates (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rumblin'rabbit ( 711865 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @04:56PM (#8954205) Journal
    100 Nobel Laureates means very little. How many climatologists are in this number? My guess is few or none. Mostly they will be biologists, physicists, chemists, possibily even economists.

    Now someone with a Nobel prize in physics is going to be a very smart person, but he or she will be no more able to assess claims in climatology than myself.

  • Re:So? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Catbeller ( 118204 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @05:02PM (#8954266) Homepage
    Nicely done, but semantics are irrelevant.

    The earth's average temperature is rising. Fact.

    There are other facts. The glasiers are melting. Ground formerly that was permafrost in Alaska is melting, dropping entire villages into the ocean. Weather patterns are starting to change consistent with warming. All the measurements we can make show the temperature is climbing.

    Natural or not. It doesn't matter. What matters is the fact that dumping CO2 into the atmosphere is greasing the slide into hell. It doesn't matter if the warming is a "natural", normal turn of events. What matters is that we are abetting it enormously, and we need to stop dumping CO2 in massive quantities into the soup.

    It's the difference between sitting still in a sinking boat, and deciding to start slamming holes into the boat because it's fun and profitable.

    CO2 emmissions need to be reduced far, far more than the Tokyo treaty, the bane of the right, required.

    We're melting. No semantics.
  • by geomon ( 78680 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @05:06PM (#8954319) Homepage Journal
    How thick is the crust where these measurements are made? Crustal thicknesses, thus the depth to which solar energy or other radiant source can penetrate, vary considerably throughout a continent - and between different continents.

    How much geologic activity is occurring in the region sampled? Is it active, like the Pacific Rim areas, or is it relatively inactive, like the cratonic regions of the continenets?

    I consider this pretty important information if one is evaluating this kind of data.

    The first-blush inference drawn from the article summary is that mechanisms contributing to global warming (i.e., anthropogenic sources) are driving surface temperatures on the Earth in the same way as air temperatures. No mechanism is described in either the long article from Goddard or from the summary on exactly how surface temperatures could be affected by human activities.

    The Earth's crust varies from one or two kilometers to several kilometers in depth and there is a great deal of geologic activity that is going on all over the planet irrespective of man's presence. While the evidence of global warming continues to point to a strong antropogenic contribution, both article and summary fail to explain how this paticular information is realted to anything .

  • Re:So? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Wildfire Darkstar ( 208356 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @05:06PM (#8954324)
    And you're ignoring the message in favor of dismissing the messenger. The fact of the matter is that there is scientific basis for the global warming argument. Does that mean that global warming is happening? As you suggest, no, it does not. We've only been measuring this in a serious way for two decades, which is far less than a flash in the pan in terms of Earth's geological history. And, certainly, there've been massive climate changes on the planet well before humanity started pumping flurocarbons into the atmospher.

    So, yeah, the "anti-environmentalists" have quite effectively presented the case that global warming might not be happening. Which, don't get mw wrong, is fine and dandy and a voice which should be heard. But, just as we don't have the information to conclusively prove the existence of global warming, we similarly don't have the evidence to disprove it, either. Given this, the message being presented by the (possibly mistaken) environmentalists is still a valid one: taking steps to reduce the factors that might be causing global warming are, at best, going to prevent us from broiling ourselves off of this planet, and, at worst, have little effect at all.

    To put it in other terms, if I decided to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel, I might only get scraped up a bit, or I might die. But, if I don't have to do it in the first place, why put myself at risk? Even if I could promise myself a 99% chance of survival, what's the point at risking that 1% chance of death if I can avoid it?
  • by maxpublic ( 450413 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @05:15PM (#8954428) Homepage
    then you have to admit that we're making HUGE changes.

    I have to admit no such thing. What I'd like to see is some empirical evidence in favor of human intervention over naturally changing conditions. So far no such evidence exists.

    The Earth has warmed up and cooled down many times in our geological past. Some of these changes have been gradual, others have been rather dramatic. It could very well be that humans are at least partially responsible for the current changes, but as yet this is merely speculation and nothing more. The yahoos who keep going on about the 'evils' of industrial society are grossly oversimplifying the complexity of the problem (and the equally complex task of determining responsbility) in favor of their own black hat/white hat world-view.

    In any event, the changes have been made and there's no reasonable way to reverse them. Regardless of the cause what we should be looking at is how we adapt to the new conditions, not futile attempts to maintain stasis or turn back the clock. Either of these options is far beyond current technology in any event, as any attempt to 'reverse' the trend is just as likely to cause some other disaster our primitive understanding of the situation couldn't foresee.

    We can wail, and gnash our teeth, and feel morally superior to everyone else because we just *know* that it's The Evils of Technology and Greed(TM) that's the root of the problem, but this doesn't help the situation and ultimately just makes the finger-pointers look like idiots. Or we can prepare for the worst and try our best to ride out the storm, without wasting energy trying to decide who's to blame - if anyone is to blame.

  • Re:So? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tango42 ( 662363 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @05:17PM (#8954455)
    Ice cores, former seabeds, current lakebeds. There are ways of finding out the state of the climate before we started keeping records. They're not as reliable, prehaps, but they are still useful.
  • Re:Come on already (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Baki ( 72515 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @05:26PM (#8954549)
    People don't want to hear bad news, they don't want to change their comfortable way of life and give up their SUV toys.
    Therefore people keep rationalizing that measurements could be false, or warming is happening but it is not due to human causes etc. etc.

    While I am not yet convinced that the warming has a human cause and am annoyed by those that bluntly claim so while the statistical and scientific evidence cannot proof it yet, I think it is extremely stupid and shortsighted to not act as if it might be true. Yes it is not certain, but there is a good chance that we are seeing an extreme speed of temperature rise which is caused by humans. Just to be sure we should take measures to stop it. It also has some other beneficial side effects such as leaving some oil and wealth for future generations, i.e. just being decent and responsible also for the future of mankind.

    How egoistic and selfish many are. I don't know if this is a typical slashdot thing, or because it is because slashdot is mainly populated by americans and if the general opinion/mentality in the US is such. If I talk about it with people here (in Switzerland or elsewhere in europe) I can hardly find anyone who doubts a human caused greenhouse effect. Some, like me, think it goes too far to claim it as an abolute truth, but almost anyone thinks it might be and thus it is a good idea to behave a bit more responsible and try to reduce CO2 emissions and save some oil for future generations.
  • by Intraloper ( 705415 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @05:30PM (#8954591)
    And yoe said more than that. You said: "there's absolutely zero evidence that this is due to human activity." That isnt true. Not even close. Right now, there isnt bulletproof, conclusive evidence. But there is a mountain of circumstantioal, mechanistic, theoretical, field-observation, and model-derived evidence in support of anthropogenic causes for at least a good part of observed warming. When you make a dogmatic statement like "there's absolutely zero evidence," please dont come back with nitpicking about how you are being misread.
  • by 2marcus ( 704338 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @05:42PM (#8954693)
    Ah, selective quoting.

    I said that _if_ "you are sticking by your '1/10th of 1 percent' would make big changes" _then_ you would have to admit that we are making huge changes. Or are you saying that the sun changing by 1/10th of 1 percent is significant, but humans changing its effective radiation by 1 percent is small? Or are you saying that humans haven't effected the radiation budget of the earth?

    It is quite likely that humans are responsible for much of the last several decades of warming. There have been plenty of attribution studies attribution studies [] that have shown this statistically. More to the point, if we maintain a business-as-usual path, we are very likely to radically warm the earth over the coming centuries. We can't stop change from happening, but we can take actions that would reduce the rate of the change that we are causing. And yes, we need to balance the costs of emissions controls against the expected value of the environmental benefits we will receive - I believe that economic growth is vital to improving the health, happiness, and well-being of humans, but not without regulation.

    The yahoos who keep going on about not doing anything to reduce emissions until we are absolutely certain about its impact are ignoring the fact that decisions are made under uncertainty all the time. There is certainly enough evidence that we are impacting the earth's climate, and enough basic scientific understanding to know that we will continue to do so, and enough economics understanding to be able to make some guesses about what the right balance of controls are, that we should be at least implementing starter policies (not necessarily Kyoto - I'd prefer a carbon tax, and real scientific investments into fusion and zero-carbon technologies)

    Or we can stick our fingers in our ears and chant mindlessly that "its not happening" and "its not our fault" because, after all, this is a long term problem and who cares if future generations curse us for our short sightedness?

    There is a chance that you are right, maybe we'll luck out, maybe the climate sensitivity will be at the low end of the model results. Are you willing to take the greenhouse gamble [] for the next generation? I prefer to take the optimal path given our level of understanding rather than saying "maybe nothing will happen so let's do nothing".


  • Re:Come on already (Score:2, Insightful)

    by John M Ford ( 653329 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @05:53PM (#8954779)
    I do not think you are ignorant. I do not think you are a fool. As a matter of fact,
    I've never studies economics or sociology, so forgive me if I'm an ignorant fool, but its always seemed to me that as long as we are not experiancing large amounts of disease, drought or other reduction in the availability of natural resources, that economic slowdown is more a result of psycology than anything else.
    I agree with you.

    Drought []
    Disease []
    reduction in [] availability of [] natural resources. []

    I guess that by our shared criteria, we can rule out psycology.

  • by 2marcus ( 704338 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @05:53PM (#8954783)
    Um. So, a dyed-in-the-wool moderate takes a position that is at one end of the distribution of all the scientists who work in the field? I assert that you are nowhere near the middle of this argument. Anymore than intelligent design advocates are the "moderate" side in the evolution vs. creationism debate.

    The vast majority of the models out there agree with the "emissions folk" (here I include, in no particular order, the GFDL labs, the PNNL labs, Wigley et al, the AGU, the MIT Joint Program on Climate Change, NOAA, the NAS, the IPCC, Schneider et al, the Hadley Center, etc. etc.). The "no impact" folk on the other hand - Christy, Lindzen, Baliunas, Singer - are a real minority.

  • Re:Come on already (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Epistax ( 544591 ) <epistax&gmail,com> on Friday April 23, 2004 @06:00PM (#8954835) Journal
    A) Do things for the good of everything, possibly at your own expense.
    B) Do things for the good of yourself, possibly at the expense of everything.

    It's perfectly alright to chastise, and excommunicate for (B). It's not alright to do it for any other reason. Most people hit a balancing point in their own life. If being environmentally friendly is beyond your balance, you're an asshole. Not believing there is any problem despite any amount of evidence is B, and pretending to have an argument about it is B and lying about it.
  • Re:So? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bombadillo ( 706765 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @06:38PM (#8955192)
    Sure the world has natural temperature fluctuations. However, your logic is really flawed. Combine this data with the other data and we begin to see that the odds that this is not a coincidence are growing. For example have you ever heard of Global Diming []. Global diming is caused by increased pollution in the atmosphere which blocks light from reaching the earth surface. It also makes sense that more particles in the air will mean more objects which can absorb solar heat. When you combine what we know about Global Dimming with this new data on Atmospheric temperature one could logically conclude that polution is most likely cause for the warming.

    It's dangerous to be apathatic and reason that the issue is too complicated so we shouldn't be bothered.
  • Re:100 Laureates (Score:3, Insightful)

    by RedWizzard ( 192002 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @06:42PM (#8955222)
    Now someone with a Nobel prize in physics is going to be a very smart person, but he or she will be no more able to assess claims in climatology than myself.
    You have an extremely high opinion of yourself.
  • Re:So? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by RedWizzard ( 192002 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @06:52PM (#8955304)
    1. Is there anything we can do to reduce the human component in global warming?
    2. Would the impact of these actions be significant in comparison to the natural warming trend?
    The answer to one is almost certainly yes. Reduction of C02 output will definitely slow global warming. There is a secondary question that should be asked along side this one: is there anything we can do to reduce the natural component of global warming?

    The answer to 2 is unknown. It is probably best to err on the side of doing something that may be ineffective.

    The answer to three is almost certainly yes if you look at a long enough time period (e.g. 100-200 years). If predictions for climate change based on current warming trends are correct the economic costs will be higher than anything mankind has faced before.

    What it boils down to is that action now is insurance: we pay a cost now in the hopes that we'll reduce a potentially larger cost in the future. I'm willing to bet that very few Slashdotters aren't covered by some form of insurance so I find it difficult to understand why so many of us are against any action when it comes to climate change.

  • by tuxlove ( 316502 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @07:07PM (#8955399)
    Wasn't it back in the late 70's and early 80's that everyone was freaked out about what looked like an upcoming ice age? We just do not have enough historical data to know what a "normal" temperature pattern is. No question that pollution is not good, but we just don't know what effect it's having on global temperatures.
  • by Gunark ( 227527 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @07:29PM (#8955576)
    To all those repeating the old mantra "you can't prove that we are causing the warming -- it might be natural".

    Yes, the fact that global warming seems to be correlated with our spewing of CO2 into the atmosphere may be a coincidence. It might all just be part of some natural planetary cycle.

    But add to this the fact that we are currently seeing a mass extinction unlike anything in the last 65 million years, and you've got quite a conspicious coincidence.

    I'm surprised how few anti-warmists (or would it be anti-anti-warmists?) see this.
  • Re:So? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dustmite ( 667870 ) on Friday April 23, 2004 @11:31PM (#8956901)

    The world is in a natural warming state. We could stop using fossil fuels at all and it's not going to keep the planet from warming.

    And you know this, HOW, exactly? Proof please. Some references proving this warming is entirely natural.

    So you know nothing about how the Earth's climate works, you post an uninformed opinion on /. with no references at all to back it up, that flies in the face of what thousands of scientists with much more knowledge about this topic than you have, and you get moderated as "Informative".

    YOU DO NOT KNOW if the current warming is natural at all. You cannot claim to know, because nobody knows. If you really do know, well gosh, you're damn brilliant and know something everyone else doesn't, and I'll be the first to congratulate you on your Nobel prize.

    I suppose this is just your innate, instinctive religion-grasping denial to feel as if you really have an answer, where there are no answers available. Is it so difficult to just acknowledge that you just don't know something?

  • Re:Come on already (Score:2, Insightful)

    by shiftless ( 410350 ) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @12:08AM (#8957022) Homepage
    If being environmentally friendly is beyond your balance, you're an asshole.

    I daily drive a 70s Cadillac that gets 14 MPG and requires premium fuel, and I run the air conditioner all the time. I removed my catalytic converter and other emissions equipment long ago in favor of a big honkin dual exhaust with Flowmasters. When I change the oil, the old oil is taken to a place where I don't want anything to ever grow again and poured out on the ground (handy weed killer). Same for gasoline or diesel fuel that I use for cleaning parts.

    I don't have my trash picked up. Fuck that, I burn it instead. When I have a ton of shit to burn, especially wet brush, I use an old tire and diesel fuel to get the fire started and burning for days, all the while pouring out huge amounts of black smoke and acrid fumes (and burning green, too- cool stuff).

    My computer and other electrical devices stay running all the time in the house, as well as the air conditioner and other stuff. Fuck energy consumption, I'm gonna live in comfort.

    Yeah, I'm an asshole. What's your point?
  • Re:So? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by rblum ( 211213 ) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @12:24AM (#8957086)
    You know, the whole "we don't have long term data" argument doesn't really work.

    We're not talking about temperature per se, we talk about the differential. Temperature is not only rising, according to all evidence, it's rising faster than it ever did - as far as we know.

    Yup, that might be perfectly natural - that doesn't help the people who will die due to climatic changes in the next couple of decades.

    If you just want to sit back, give up, and watch the fireworks, that's fine. Just don't get in the way of those who want to fix things.

    Or are you afraid your lifestyle might suffer?
  • by Fortress ( 763470 ) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @12:34AM (#8957124) Homepage
    I seem to remember global warming described as a self correcting phenomenon. The argument wnet as follows:

    1. Earth warms. Could be due to pollution, increased solar activity or increased volcanic activity.

    2. Ocean evaporation increases. Warmer air and water means easier evaporation.

    3. Increased levels of water vapor in the air leads to increased global cloud cover.

    4. Increased cloud cover raises the Earth's albedo (measure of reflectivity) causing less solar gain.

    5. Less solar gain leads to global cooling trend.

    So the atmosphere seems to be a feedback system, like a thermostat or buffer solution. Note that the reverse happens when the Earth is too cool. Also, the increased ocean evaporation mitigates somewhat the rising sea level due to melting ice caps.
  • Re:Come on already (Score:3, Insightful)

    by lavaface ( 685630 ) on Saturday April 24, 2004 @03:38AM (#8957664) Homepage
    I can't help but think that humans have the ingenuity to provide current standards of lifestyle and still reduce emissions.
  • Re:Priorities.... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by doom ( 14564 ) <> on Saturday April 24, 2004 @11:00AM (#8958855) Homepage Journal
    And stop picking on SUVs. They may be the vehicle of choice of Yuppie Scum, but modern examples get decent gas milage and thanks to the latest generation cat converters and emissions hardware/software, produce tiny fractions of the noxious crap that used to come out of cars.
    I was going to point out that getting 25mpg when you could get 40mpg hardly counts as decent gas mileage.

    It's also interesting that SUVs don't appear to actually be any safer for the driver, despite being more dangerous for everyone else, not to mention polluting at about double the state-of-the-art.

    But then I realized that you're a total nut-job:

    In some places, the tailpipe emissions from an SUV is cleaner than the ambiant air.
    However, a reasonable person might make the point that SUVs are probably not the biggest problem we've got as far as pollution goes. How about coal power, which still produces about half of the US electrical supply? Electric vehicles will never really be "zero emissions" until we do something about the coal problem.

The shortest distance between two points is under construction. -- Noelie Alito