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Climatologists Wager on Global Warming 591

coflow writes "The Guardian is carrying a story about a $10,000 bet that a pair of Russian scientists have entered with British climate expert James Annan. According to the article, the Russians believe the world will be cooler in 10 years. "If the temperature drops Dr Annan will stump up the $10,000 (now equivalent to about £5,800) in 2018. If the Earth continues to warm, the money will go the other way.""
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Climatologists Wager on Global Warming

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  • Global warming, eh? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by 42Penguins ( 861511 ) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @07:36PM (#13364012)
    I'm not sure about the rest of the world, but I think we could use some global warming in northern Ohio. After a while, the bipolar weather patterns aren't so bad, but the winters can get pretty nasty. I realize it probably won't change too much in my lifetime, but it's a thought.

    As for the climatologists, is a bet really news?
  • by drewcaster ( 517860 ) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @07:40PM (#13364028)
    I thought I'd never say that. It's interesting how mainstream media has declared that a majority of scientists say global warming is real and directly tied into carbon emissions. When the only consensus is that things are getting warmer (opposite of when the planet was getting cooler in the 50's through 60's and causing the global cooling panic).

    I have no trouble accepting that carbon emissions could cause warming, however the evidence isn't there yet. I have several friends in climatology, geology and astronomy who shake their heads everytime a new panic prediction is released. They're not right-wing anti-environmentalist idealogues. They're scientists who see multiple cause for global warming, man being only one of them.

    The "better something than nothing" crowd loses traction with me when it comes to Kyoto. It's just a bad plan.
  • by John Jorsett ( 171560 ) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @07:41PM (#13364038)
    Obviously inspired by the 10-year Julian Simon/Paul Ehrlich wager of 1980.M [] Simon had Ehrlich choose five of several commodity metals. Ehrlich chose 5 metals: copper, chrome, nickel, tin, and tungsten. Simon bet that their prices would go down. Ehrlich bet they would go up. Simon won.
  • by rucs_hack ( 784150 ) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @07:43PM (#13364047)
    That says global warming may well stave off the next ice age, and this wiill be no bad thing for our species. Now I suspect that this would be better acheived deliberately and with planning, rather than through polution. Whichever way it happens though, given that I live in england, a country which was covered to a depth of several kilometers in ice during the last ice age, I can't say I mind too much, however it happens.
  • by DevanJedi ( 892762 ) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @07:50PM (#13364075) Homepage Journal
    Finally somebody putting their money where their mouths are. This will be interesting- though I can't understand the math that makes 2005+10=2018. I just hope this isn't one of those stories that you hear the first half of but never the second; meaning that in 2015 (or 2018), nobody will remember this story and the winning of the bet won't be news enough. Scientific bets have been happening for many, many years. Some famous wagers include:
    • Feynman bet a $1000 that no one could construct a motor no bigger than 1/64th of an inch on a side
    • Hawking bet against his own theory of black holes (a subscription of Penthouse to the winner, no less)
    And other similar stuff...
  • Re:Weather futures (Score:5, Interesting)

    by abulafia ( 7826 ) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @08:17PM (#13364188)
    Sure. This is a longer-term gamble (and a PR stunt, even if a good one, and with a purpose). AFAIK, one can't buy, say, 20 year futures on the weather.

    Robin Hansen [] has been trying [] to set up markets in this sort of thing [] for a while, but with little success. It seems that, for the most part, people get more than a little conservative*, and not only don't want to bet, but also don't want to see the odds.

    *I'm using that in the general sense, not the current flame-fest sense.

  • Re:After the bet... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @08:22PM (#13364205) Journal
    Well, it is pretty telling that the for the most part, the slimate skeptics do not like the idea of taking the bets except for ridiculous odds (where they have no risks). So yeah, I do care. I like to know that the ppl who are making these claims believe in it enough (and their science), that they are willing to take major risks.

    Of course, it is just possible the Russians will win due to the thermal conveyor being shutdown and bringing a new ice age to Europe.
  • by ( 707997 ) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @08:26PM (#13364219) Homepage Journal
    The Kyoto Protocol and UNFCCC were designed to prevent global climate change. If the climate gets warm enough, ocean currents can be forced to "switch" in a way that can trigger a mini ice age.
  • by geek ( 5680 ) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @08:26PM (#13364221)
    "No, it's not at all interesting. Global warming is happening. That is fact. Don't try to dispute it, or you'll look like an even bigger idiot."

    It is? As far as I know we barely have 60 years of factual concrete weather data. From that you people wish to extrapolate the entire warming and cooling of the planet over 4 billion years and then yell and scream when the temperature goes up 2 degrees.

    You fail completely to take into account the planets warming and cooling trends. For Gods sake, the Sahara desert was once a swamp. Had that change happened in the last 100 years people like you would be crying "end of the world".

    The only one here looking like an idiot is you for flaming this guy for making a reaosnable and sensible post.
  • by heroine ( 1220 ) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @08:28PM (#13364227) Homepage
    After a 1 month Summer in Calif* and several years of declining temperatures, we feel the climate is cooling down from particulates more than it's heating up from CO2. Everyone knows sulfur from China's factories is reducing the amount of energy reaching Calif*. The sunsets today are a lot redder than they used to be.
  • Re:on what grounds? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Decessus ( 835669 ) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @09:51PM (#13364516)
    A. Sun (I know it's a crackpot theory, but some people actually do think the sun has something to do with Earths Climate, and the Suns output does vary

    Wouldn't they be able to tell if the sun was having some kind of effect? Aren't they able to measure these kinds of things?

    B. Water vapor (Much greater greenhouse gas than either Methane or CO2, also dictated by the laws of Physics, also increasing over time through natural means)

    I would think they could measure this also. If they can tell how many parts per million of CO2 is in the air, I would think they could do the same thing for water vapor.

    C. Natural variation (Entropy, ringing)

    I don't know what this has to do with global warming, so I can't comment on it.

    D. Loss of cloud cover

    Wouldn't the loss of cloud cover be a result of other things? The loss of cloud cover wouldn't really cause global warming. It would merely be the byproduct of something else that was causing it.

    E. Natural emissions of greenhouse gasses (Volcanoes, deepwater CO2 and Methane out-gassing)

    Have there really been enough volcanoes in the last hundred years or so to produce the kind of effect that is happening?

    Do you honestly think that's mans carbon emissions are the ONLY thing that effects climate. Do you think that the earth had no climate variations before man?

    The climate has certainly changed many times before mankind was around. The question is, has it ever changed as drastically as has been reported?

    If we know that CO2 can cause the greenhouse effect, and we know that our CO2 output has increased since the start of the industrial age, isn't it a safe bet to think that we are indeed changing the climate? Here are some graphs that show CO2 concentrations: The last 60 years. [] and the last 420,000 years. []
  • by MichaelSmith ( 789609 ) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @10:35PM (#13364634) Homepage Journal
    Everyone knows sulfur from China's factories is reducing the amount of energy reaching Calif*

    People I work with who have recently returned from China described the air as being extremely polluted. I was offered a two year job in China and declined because I didn't want to expose my family to that kind of environment.

    Sooner or later we are going to have to cut down on airborne particles. Just as we are clamping down on smoking. When this happens global temperatures are going to rise, quickly.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 20, 2005 @10:41PM (#13364651)
    Sounds like you're admiting that the science is weak, the fear argument always comes out at that point. "Well what if?"

    At the very least we should be able to quantify the outcome if Kyoto was accepted and measure whether or not it is actually working. Otherwise it's just wealth redistribution which is what I think most of the countries wanted anyways. The harm that Kyoto could cause is radical changes to the current financial landscape of the world and as someone who is a member of a country with the upperhand, I'd rather that not happen without good reason.

  • by killjoe ( 766577 ) on Saturday August 20, 2005 @11:59PM (#13364892)
    According to your logic, everytime the price of anything goes up it leads to more unemployment. If that was true everybody in the world would be unemployed by now.

    The price of oil has been rising for decades and I still don't see less employees in the oil sector.

    YOur theory needs refinement. It does not jibe with real world data.
  • by distantbody ( 852269 ) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @12:20AM (#13364961) Journal
    We all know about global warming, but there is also the theory of "global dimming", which been backed up by extensive research. The global dimming theory says that the true extent of global warming is being masked by pollution particles, which block out UV rays and therefore prevents them from warming the planet. The cruel irony is that if we move to a %100 renewable, non-pulluting energy existance, these UV blocking particles will dissipate back to natural levels, thus allowing more UV to bounce around in the greenhouse, and exposing us to the full effect of global warming!

    The greenhouse particles exist for greater than 100 years, meaning the only solution would be to remove both the greenhouse particles and the UV blocking particles, how that may be achieved is unclear.
  • Re:on what grounds? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by SidV ( 800332 ) <slash@sidv-dot-org> on Sunday August 21, 2005 @01:04AM (#13365097)
    Using a graph from another poster. []

    This shows 5 separate changes in excess of 6 Degrees C in 450 thousand years. This graph is supplied by the AGW crowd.

    I don't know where you get the 1 degree change in a million years, I don't know of any scientific study that would claim such a thing. We regularly see greater changes than that in any time scale greater than a minute. Day, hour, month, year, decade, Century, Millennium. In fact we saw a change greater than 1 degree from 1850 to 1900.

    As to the permafrost comment. A recent glacier receded in Greenland. They talked about how it had been there since the last Ice Age. They also mentioned that under the Ice was revealed a Viking Church. I don't know how to correlate the two comments, as the Vikings weren't around 10,000 years ago, since the church is tangible, and the comments is un-substantiated. I would go with the fact that the glacier was not there during Viking times, since I don't believe they would go through the trouble to build a church under a glacier.

    As to the permafrost. The concern is the decomposing of the Peat underneath. Since peat is made of plants that cannot grow in permafrost, I would reckon that there never was much "perma" in permafrost. I would be greatly interested in any carbon dating of said peat.
  • by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @01:38AM (#13365193)
    It would seem that economic strength is directly tied ot energy consumption.
    Consider China, and also consider the trend of US economic strength does not follow it's energy consumption. Also, how much of the US economy is merely consrtuction of residences? The economy of my own country only looks good at the moment due to a lot of overseas borrowing to build houses, and I believe that is happening to a lesser extent in the USA.
  • Re:After the bet... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @02:15AM (#13365291) Journal
    Well the vast majority of all glaciers are those on the South pole, so a small number of glaciers have been shrinking (as they have been doing since the end of the last ice age) while most have been growing.

    Well, first off, the vast majority of glaciers is not in the south pole. Antarctica simply has monster ones. There are glaciers spread throughout the world. Greenland, Canada, and Russia are loaded with them. In addition, all the ice at the south pole have been shrinking except for at the pole itself. Now, glaciers normally go through growth and shrink over several decades. Most of these have been here since the last ice age. But for the last 20-30 years, ALL glaciers except for those at the poles have been shrinking. Here in Colorado, we will probably lose all of ours in the next 10 years, just as Africa, Europe, Asia, and South America are losing theirs. But this is not normal. Yes, with the addition of new evidence, scientists had to modify the global warming hypothesis.

    Actually, most models were not changed. The already showed that this what would happen.

    Thats because unlike settled fact (under which you apparently try to classify global warming), Actually, global warming is a fact. The global temperatures are increasing. The ocean temperatures are rising. ALL Glaciars, except at the extremes of the poles, are melting. That is by definition, global warming. To deny otherwise would be akin to saying that earth is flat or that all of the heavens revolve around the planet.

    Now, the questions are:

    1. How long will it occur?
    2. Is it simply a cycle?
    3. Which factors contribute what to it?
    4. Does it need to be changed?
    5. And perhaps most importantly, if it needs to be changed, how can we change it?

    The models are simply ways of trying to figure out what is going on.
  • by mystyc ( 561347 ) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @03:22AM (#13365435)
    "You do realize that just because a majority of people believe one thing does not make it true, right?"

    Your belief, and anyone else's belief is irrelevant to science in regards to a "scientific conclusion". Let me explain it to you historically with one of your own example, "At another, people thought atoms consisted of a proton with electrons orbiting around it."

    This is not true, because it is inaccurate. No scientist thought or believed that atoms consisted of electrons orbiting atoms. It is more accurate to say that at one time, the best theory, which had the fewest weaknesses and was based upon empirical data and scientific methodology, was the model that electrons orbited protons. Yet even then, this theory was known to have weakeness, like the electron radiating because it was accelerating, but there was no better theory so this was the "scientific conclusion".

    Now we physicists have gone even further, down to the level of quarks and leptons. The physics that describes this is "quantum field theory", and the model is called the "standard model". No scientist believes that atoms are made out of quarks and leptons becuase this believe is unnecessary. It is more accurate to say that scientists have concluded based upon empirical data and scientific methodology that the best theory with the fewest weaknesses is the standard model. Yet even now, without a better theory, this theory is known to have weakenesses. For instance, it can explain neither mass, nor neutrino oscillations, nor gravity.

    One of the hottest topics in physics is the search for the next best model to describe the atom. Would physicist's be so eager to search for something they did not believe in? The answer is neither 'yes' or 'no', but rather 'belief is unnecessary in science to scientific conclusions'.

    Similarly, no scientist believes in global warming. Their belief is irrelevant. It is more accurate to say that the best theory that describes the climate and the recent climate changes, is a climatological theory which includes the theory called "global warming", because this theory has the fewest weaknesses and is based upon scientific methodology and empirical data. To dispute this, you must show, using the scientific methodology of climatologist's, that there is a theory that better fits the empirical data and has fewer weakness than the previously prevailing theory, "global warming". Even though I am a physics graduate student in an accredited PhD program, I do not possess the scientific background that includes the scientific methodology and empirical data of the climatologists. Thus, I cannot dispute this. I will hazard a guess that neither can you, nor can 'certain politicians' (even if they right fancy books and news articles) nor anyone else who is not trained in the scientific methodology of the climatologists and their empirical data.

    All you have is your beliefs, which you are free to have, so long as you are aware that they are both irrelevant and unnecesary to the scientific discussion of "scientific conclusions".

  • by ccmay ( 116316 ) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @05:28AM (#13365730)
    Not being able to see the stars has nothing to do with particulate pollution, rather it has to do with those horrible sodium (the orange ones) lamps that started popping up in the 70's.

    I seem to recall that the sodium lamps actually came into use in part to help astronomers. IIRC, they have a very narrow spectrum that is easily filtered, unlike broad spectrum white lights.


  • Re:After the bet... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by KDR_11k ( 778916 ) on Sunday August 21, 2005 @05:33AM (#13365741)
    Now ask someone closer to the equator what they'd think about a temperature increase of 10 or even 5 C. That'd greatly reduce the rainfall in the tropical and subtropical zones, expand the desert and reduce the size of the rainforest. Many subtropical and tropical countries would become even less inhabitable since they're already lacking water, more heat -> even less water.

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