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Humanity Responsible For Current Climate Change 775

tehanu writes "Scientists working with Antarctic ice have found that the level of greenhouse gases is at the highest level in over half a million years. Carbon dioxide is 27% higher now than any other time over the last 650 000 years. Methane, an even stronger greenhouse gas is 130% higher. The period of time studied covers eight full glacial cycles including a time when the earth's position relative to the sun is the same as it is today. Other scientists have found that the annual rate at which the sea has risen since the industrial revolution is twice that of over the last 5000 years. It is predicted that by 2100 the sea level will be 40cm higher. These results provide strong evidence that human activity since the industrial revolution, rather than just natural processes, has strongly altered the world's climate. As one of the scientists involved in the research put it: 'The levels of primary greenhouse gases such as methane, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide are up dramatically since the Industrial Revolution, at a speed and magnitude that the Earth has not seen in hundreds of thousands of years.'"
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Humanity Responsible For Current Climate Change

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  • by xmas2003 ( 739875 ) * on Friday November 25, 2005 @10:49PM (#14116360) Homepage
    While I personally agree there is some truth that we are affecting the planet on a global scale, let me play devil's advocate for a moment here. Assuming the data is good (a BIG assumption), how do we know this isn't part of some bigger natural geological cycle? Remember that continents/mountains move SLOWLY ... like millions of years. It may be that this is the natural ebb and flow of nature. And the "sea level" raising 40cm by 2100 makes one wonder about places like New Orleans.

    BTW, I usually run Firefox, but happened to open this up in Internet Exploder - all three URL's in the article had popups - you forget about those things when you predominantly use Firefox.

    P.S. I'm argueably contributing to global warming with my 20,000+ Christmas lights [] ... although at least I signed up for wind power.

  • Re:No! God did it! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bigman2003 ( 671309 ) on Friday November 25, 2005 @10:50PM (#14116362) Homepage
    Sadly, the best possible response we will see in America, is people putting some sort of 'Stop Global Warming' magnet on their SUV.

    I am a proponent of HUGE tax increases on gasoline. Push it up to the $6 level. People won't stop driving until it really hurts to do it.

    We really need to do something about cutting down on emissions. This is a serious problem, and our society is just moving further and futher towards making it worse.

    Look at the electronics industry- look at our computers, and how much energy they suck up. Blindly imagining that this problem won't affect us, is like putting our heads in the sand.

    But the other day I was looking at some 'Enviro-Logs' I bought. They are like Duraflame logs, but they are made from recycled 'waxed cardboard' (which they can't use for making new cardboard.)

    The label touted them as being environmentally friendly because they took the cardboard out of the waste stream and landfill. But is burning it even worse?

    This is a very very complex problem, and we Americans are the biggest consumers, and therefore the biggest offenders.

    Once again, I say tax the crap out of things. Make it hurt to buy...use that money to correct some of the wrongs that have already been done. Protect the forests, lower emissions, etc. etc.

    I'm not a tree-hugger, but I am serious about this.
  • by Ex-MislTech ( 557759 ) on Friday November 25, 2005 @10:52PM (#14116376)
    Well the Tech is out there to reverse this .

    We just need a Apollo program level of devotion to it .

    University of Wisconsin has a working 3HE reactor, he fuel is just the issue, the moon is the answer.

    Helium-3 on the moon, and the new finding of altering Hydrogen atoms molecular
    orbits in a manner unknown before and pointing to fundamental errors in physics/Calculus .,3605,162 7424,00.html []

    Keep in mind he has had some peer review on this before chucking it on the bone pile .

    The Algae that makes enormous amounts of oil for biodiesel and other uses also
    gives as a short term methodolgy vs. drilling for oil . It also burns cleaner .

            * Soybean: 40 to 50 US gal/acre (40 to 50 m/km)
            * Rapeseed: 110 to 145 US gal/acre (100 to 140 m/km)
            * Mustard: 140 US gal/acre (130 m/km)
            * Jatropha: 175 US gal/acre (160 m/km)
            * Palm oil: 650 US gal/acre (610 m/km) [2]
            * Algae: 10,000 to 20,000 US gal/acre (10,000 to 20,000 m/km) []

    There is yet Hope, but stray a little and you will fail to the ruin of us all - LOTR


  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 25, 2005 @10:54PM (#14116385)

    There is too many reports citing scientists on global warming doom and gloom and next to nothing being published about our progress in using hydrogen as the source of energy. It almost makes you want to say "Sceintists, stop with the global warming stuff, start working on the renewable energy already!".

    The reason? Doom is sensational - and guess what the news outlets will publish first?

  • Re:No! God did it! (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Doppler00 ( 534739 ) on Friday November 25, 2005 @11:17PM (#14116482) Homepage Journal
    I am a proponent of HUGE tax increases on gasoline. Push it up to the $6 level. People won't stop driving until it really hurts to do it.
    And what would that accomplish? Cars in the U.S. are only a small fraction of the total emissions of greenhouse gases. It won't do any good. It will sure give politicians a nice piggy bank of money to spend on their pet projects. It won't help us in anyway though.

    But the other day I was looking at some 'Enviro-Logs' I bought. They are like Duraflame logs, but they are made from recycled 'waxed cardboard' (which they can't use for making new cardboard.)
    Good for you, I'm glad you did your part to reduce greenhouse emmissions by 0.000000000001%. Guess what, people have been using this renewable resource called "firewood" for several millenia now. What's great is that it can be efficiently harvested and regrown year after year netting a zero increase to greenhouse gasses. Unfortunately, due to environmental restrictions more rural areas are burning natural gas which used to be trapped underground where they were not contributing to global warming.

    The label touted them as being environmentally friendly because they took the cardboard out of the waste stream and landfill. But is burning it even worse?
    No, because it originated from a tree which would have burned down or decayed into greenhouse gas naturally anyway. If it is in a landfill it consumes landmass and will decay in many more centuries than if it was burned.

    Overall I still don't buy any of the arguments that global warming is "bad". "bad" is only a human definition. The environment changes, yes, but you can't say it is "good" or "bad".
  • State of Fear? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by frank249 ( 100528 ) on Friday November 25, 2005 @11:24PM (#14116521)
    The research, published in today's issue of the journal Science, describes the content of the greenhouse gases within the core and shows that carbon dioxide levels today are 27% higher than they have been in the last 650,000 years.

    So what? There has been a history of natual climate change cycles. Why would a relatively miniscule change in CO2 be the culprit for global change? 27% is not miniscule you say. well lets look at the composition of the atmosphere.

    Think of the composition of the atmosphere in relation to the size of a football field. Nitrogen takes you all the way to the seventy-eight-yard line. And most of what's left is oxygen. Oxygen takes you to the ninety-nine-yard line. Only one yard to go. But most of what remains is the inert gas argon. Argon brings you within three and a half inches of the goal line. That's pretty much the thickness of the chalk stripe. And how much of that remaining three inches is carbon dioxide? One inch. That's how much CO2 we have in our atmosphere. One inch in a hundred-yard football field. So, you are told that carbon dioxide has increased in the last fifty years. Do you know how much it has increased, on our football field? It has increased by three-eighths of an inch--less than the thickness of a pencil. It's a lot more carbon dioxide, but it's a minuscule change in our total atmosphere. Yet you are asked to believe that this tiny change has driven the entire planet into a dangerous warming pattern?

    Well we still should take action, you say?

    Like the Kyoto accord? Many articles estimate the effect of Kyoto, even with the US signed on, as reducing temperature change by 4 hunthreds of a degree over the next 100 years. Most recently, Nature 22 (October 2003): 395-741, stated, with Russia signed on, temperature affected by Kyoto would be-.02 degrees C by 2050. IPCC models estimate more, but none exceed .15 C. see Lomborg, p. 302. Wigley, 1998: "Global warming reductions are small, .08-.28 C."

    Unfortunately it appears that there is nothing we can do in the near future. Tom Wigley and a panel of seventeen scientists and engineers from around the world made a careful study and concluded that there is no known technology capable of reducing carbon emissions, or even holding them to levels many times higher than today. They conclude that wind, solar, and even nuclear power will not be sufficient to solve the problem. They say totally new and undiscovered technology is required. *

    [from the article]...levels of methane, an even more powerful greenhouse gas, are 130% higher, said Thomas Stocker, a climate researcher at the University of Bern and senior member of the European team that wrote two papers based on the core.

    Ah, good point. Methane is a much worse green house gas than CO2. Is this humanities fault? Well we raise cows and cows burb methane. Sorry, not a fraction of what termites produce.

    The total weight of termites exceeds the total weight of all the humans in the world. A thousand times greater, in fact. Do you know how much methane termites produce? Lots.

    Man, I am tired of these self rightgious echoterrorists scarying the shit out of my kids at school. What is even worse is that some industries or even governments may be exagerating the dangers just to scare people. Why else would we see almost daily headlines about how pacific islands are being washed over by rising sea levels. While while the average air temperature at the Earth's surface has increased by 0.06 C per decade during the 20th century, and by 0.19 C per decade from 1979 to 1998, the average temperature in Antartica has decreased and the thickness of the ice there is increasing. See article in Nature []. This is important since Antartica has 90% of the world's ice. Greenland has 4% and the rest of the world combined has only 6%. So even if the world's temperature rise
  • Re:Hmm (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 25, 2005 @11:24PM (#14116522)
    1. Water vapor is a greenhouse gas, it contributes to global warming. Since you appear aware that there's lots of water vapor, from your comments that the Earth is "used" to it, then maybe you can understand the grandparent's post that we're not adding all that much greenhouse gases to what is already in the atmosphere.
    2. You say carbon monoxide is harmful. Define harmful. Harmful for you and I to breathe? Sure, and I'd like less of it in the atmosphere. Harmful as a greenhouse gas? Maybe, but regardless of the article description and title, the article doesn't provide conclusive evidence that the 0.27% of greenhouse gases we contribute to the ecosystem is causing global warming (the earth is a lot older than 650,000 years).
    3. Even if we're responsible, there's no conclusive evidence that it's not a good thing. The Earth goes through warm cycles and ice age cycles. Another ice age *is* going to happen. Us causing it to happen sooner through global warming would be bad, but it's not entirely clear we're not delaying it through global warming either.
    4. Numbers of internal combustion vehicles and jet aircraft isn't a very good metric, unless you can quantify the damage of one car or one plane. There are billions of microbes in your body right now! Oh my god, you're going to die! The Earth is pretty big. Those billions of cars and hundreds of thousands of aircraft are still only providing 0.27% of greenhouse gases.
  • Nope (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ToasterofDOOM ( 878240 ) <> on Friday November 25, 2005 @11:25PM (#14116526)
    I'm blaming the dolphins and mice. They actually know what they are doing.
  • Re:Links (Score:2, Interesting)

    by saskboy ( 600063 ) on Friday November 25, 2005 @11:27PM (#14116533) Homepage Journal
    Part of the problem with defending global warming as possibly just a natural cycle that's barely affected by humans is that it removes one of the incentives for positive pollution change. We undeniably would be healthier if we polluted our environment less, yet many of the changes are so gradual over years, that the average joe just doesn't give a crap unless it can be shown without a doubt to be hurting his wallet or health. New Orleans floating away is a tangible sign that something might be different with the weather; it's something that Joe can get his head around. If Joe can be convinced that NO won't float away again if he doesn't buy an SUV, and replaces his light bulbs with CFLs, then what harm is being done by hyping it a little bit? Ideally we'd not have to fib to Joe, but after 10 years of warnings that hundreds of millions of cars and factories spewing out greenhouse gasses, the facts were just not getting through to him.
  • by Overly Critical Guy ( 663429 ) on Friday November 25, 2005 @11:31PM (#14116546)
    The thing is, correlation does suggest causality, and in this case it is likely because *we understand the mechanism by which our actions cause global warming*.

    Nothing has been proven to show that it is "likely." Correlation != causality is an important scientific idea to prevent people from jumping to conclusions based on a symptom that might be caused by something else.

    We know what we're pumping into the atmosphere, and we have solid science and chemistry that allows us to understand how the chemicals we are pumping into the atmosphere can affect climate.

    What we're pumping into the atmosphere is a total of 0.27% of the Earth's greenhouse gases. The rest are completely natural, most of which comes from volcanic eruptions and natural water vapor.
  • by emagery ( 914122 ) on Friday November 25, 2005 @11:31PM (#14116550)
    Heh, dude... you really don't want global warming, if you don't like the cold... why? cuz if the freshwater ice in greenland/northern canada and cap conntinue to melt--and (with the possible exception of greenland) they're doing a whole heck of a lot of melting--it would kill the salinity balance in the northern atlantic (and recent articles (sorry, no links, but I did see them here and in discover/scientific american) suggest the levels are already way off standard) ... currently, the ocean currents that bring warm water to northern north america and most of europe operates in that the warm water comes north, cools, and sinks, and moves south again to counterbalance... it's literally the pump that provides us with a climate warmer than is natural for these regions. Changing the salinity level would cause the water 'density' to lessen, thus making it unable to sink even when cold... this would mean a temporary increase in temps, but would also collapse the circuit, and (in an as yet only speculative few years) cut off our access to warm weather. You, I (being a mainer), and europe would suffer harshly from suddenly harsh weather and the onset of either another mini ice age (like the one seen from about 1300 to 1900) or major one (since we're overdue).

    so.... uh, yeah... you don't want global warming... at all.
  • Re:No! God did it! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bigman2003 ( 671309 ) on Friday November 25, 2005 @11:33PM (#14116559) Homepage
    I lived in Germany for 3.5 years (you can probably guess why). And when I was there, gas was about what you quoted, except at the time is was in Deutschmarks- but it was about the same price. And that was 15 years ago.

    And when gas is that expensive...people FIND other ways to get around. You do it by necessity.

    American's won't change until this happens.
  • Re:Hmm (Score:3, Interesting)

    by apsmith ( 17989 ) * on Friday November 25, 2005 @11:42PM (#14116600) Homepage
    Why did you say you'd not seen an explanation, and then admit you had?

    Human contributions are small relative to the natural cycles (biology, oceans, volcanoes), but enough to put things out of balance. That's what the fuss is all about. Without any greenhouse gases in our atmosphere, Earth's average temperature would be about -20 degrees C, so there's obviously a major natural greenhouse effect. We're providing an artificial perturbation that has recently amounted to enough to be noticeable, and will continue to grow relentlessly unless we start perturbing the system less.

    I strongly recommend Real Climate [] and The Discovery of Global Warming [], sites that explain the science in understandable terms from real experts (I would take stuff from Wikipedia with a big lump of salt).
  • by Lurking Zealot ( 716714 ) on Friday November 25, 2005 @11:46PM (#14116619)
    It might be a good idea to sell that beachfront property and start shopping for property further north
    I heard an interesting story on NPR [] this afternoon about a village in Alaska that is being threatened by storms. Historically the village was safe because by this time of year the ocean near the shore had frozen. In recent years (past decade?) the oecan is not freezing before the severe storms hit. As a result, the erosion is removing the sand that the village is settled on. The general trend appears to be supported by a report from the US Global Change Research Corportaion. [] which states in part
    All components of the cryosphere (the frozen portions of the Earth) in the Arctic are experiencing change, including snow cover, mountain and continental glaciers, permafrost, sea ice, and lake and river ice. For example, glaciers in Alaska, as throughout the Arctic, have retreated through most of the 20th century. Estimated losses in Alaskan glaciers are of the order of 30 feet in thickness over the past 40 years, even while some have gained thickness in their upper regions.
    And don't cherry pick that "gained thickness in their upper regions" part. My guess (I'm not a glacial hydrologist) is that there is a small gain at the top due to increased precipitation -- possibly also caused by warming. Bottom line is the the ice mass is decreasing. On the matter of erosion the USGRP report says
    In fact, there are already numerous ecosystem changes observed due to permafrost thawing. They include: ... increased coastal and riverine (along the banks of rivers) erosion
    Of course, being authored by an agency of the US goverment the report finds the silver lining
    In the longer term, longer ice-free seasons are likely to bring substantial benefits to marine transport and offshore operations in the petroleum industry
    Me. I think we've set in motion a huge experiment. We should do our best to minimize our impact, but being humans, we won't. The mass would rather swill another budwiser and flick the remote.
  • Re:Links (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CheshireCatCO ( 185193 ) on Saturday November 26, 2005 @12:30AM (#14116829) Homepage
    Furthermore, the effect of the greenhouse gases is seriously non-linear. Adding more water vapor (even if it stayed resident for a long time, which it doesn't) wouldn't do a whole lot of damage because the water lines are nearly saturated anyway. CO2 has bands that are in relatively unabstucted parts of the spectrum, so a little CO2 goes a long way. Plus, there's the residency issue. (CO2 doesn't flush/react out as fast as water, ozone, or methane. I don't know about nitrous oxide, alas, but those five species are the top five in our atmosphere.) And non-linear feedback effects (melting ice caps).

    Also, bear in mind that the water vapor and other gases have already raised our global mean temperature from 255 K to 288 K. That's 33 degrees Celsius, which totally changes Earth's habitability.
  • by ortholattice ( 175065 ) on Saturday November 26, 2005 @12:43AM (#14116874)
    Algae: 10,000 to 20,000 US gal/acre (10,000 to 20,000 m/km)

    Even though this number shows up on Wikipedia (and its 1000 spam clones), I looked at some of the references and could not find where they claimed this number. Since it is 20,000%-50,000% (fifty thousand percent) more efficient than soybean oil, why would the latter even be considered for a second? Are we saying I could set aside 1/10 acre of my yard (the size of a garden) and produce 1000-2000 gallons of fuel a year?? That might provide all of my heating needs, gasoline needs, and electricity needs with room to spare! Where do I sign up? I'm sorry, I just find it hard to believe. But if you can find an authentic source (not Wikipedia) - and I hope you're right - please post it.

  • Re:Good (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jamu ( 852752 ) on Saturday November 26, 2005 @12:47AM (#14116902)

    who's running more and more Diesel engines?

    It's impossible to tell from the article. However if you limit it to just 1992 to 2002 then it's not Ireland; but it is Austria, Denmark, Switzerland, Italy, Sweden, Belgium and Germany. The telling part is that there's no mention of the US or the whole of Europe in the article itself. The statistics are also three years too early to have a bearing on the effectiveness of the Kyoto protocol (this came into force in 2005).

  • by hcob$ ( 766699 ) on Saturday November 26, 2005 @12:47AM (#14116907)
    Well, go look at this nice little website [].

    Apparently, we're just now coming out of an ice age(oh... about 460 Million years ago) and according to the Illinois State Museum,

    "Our modern climate represents a very short, warm period between glacial advances."

    I know very few people who can think on geological time scales. I am not one of them. However after hearing all this stuff about being "short sighted", what would one call an over-reaction to bad science (i.e. the hockey-stick graph []) that started the global warming "problem"? Also, wasn't there a fear of "Global Cooling" [] a few decades back?

    The Human Race needs to get their collective head out of it's ass and start learning about the world surround it. That learning might lead to enlightenment. And, God knows what Enlightenment MIGHT lead to!
  • Re:Links (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Coryoth ( 254751 ) on Saturday November 26, 2005 @12:57AM (#14116956) Homepage Journal
    I was discussing the global warming issue just last Tuesday with someone who was very adamant that humans are responsible for everything.

    Are humans responsible for everything when it comes to Global Warming or the greenhouse effect? Of course not, don't be silly. And nobody who actually has a clue but is concerned about the issue claims that. The claim is that humans are responsible for a significant deviation in the expected natural lavels of global warming via the greenhouse effect.

    As I offered more and more opposing evidence suggesting that there is no definitive proof that mankind is responsible

    There isn't any "definitive proof" that humans are responsible for significant deviations in factors affecting global climate. Just like there isn't any "definitive proof" that evolution is correct, or that dark matter exists. What there is, is a weight of evidence toward the degree of impact of human factors that puts the burden of proof pretty squarely on those claiming humans are not responsible.

    What do we know? We know that in the past 200 years humans have produced large volumes of carbon dioxide and methane through various industrial processes. We now know that current levels of carbon dioxide and methane are the highest they've been for over 650,000 years. We know that global temperature correlates extremely closely with atmospheric carbon dioxide levels over a range of 650,000 years. We know that atmospheric carbon dioxide traps heat, and can cause global warming. We know that there has been an acceleration in the rate or rise of global temperatures (beyond what would be expected coming out of the "little ice age" 400 years ago) that is apparently unprecendented for the last 2000 years or so.

    Are humans solely responsible for the current warming trend? No, we're coming out of small dip in global climate, so there was some warming anyway. You'll also find that solar variation accounts for around 30% or the observed warming (or at least that's what the IPCC reports claim), and other natural cycles are responsible for some as well. The fact remains that humans have produced a lot of carbon dioxide and methane in the last 200 years, that those gases do cause warming, and that the levels of those gases are unprecendented to the last 650,000 years. Humans are providing a significant forcing compared to natural fluctuations, it would be surprising if that didn't have an impact.

  • by ppanon ( 16583 ) on Saturday November 26, 2005 @01:06AM (#14117014) Homepage Journal
    Global warming is change. So what?

    I've looked into it. I know what could happen.

    Look harder. The soil in the permafrost is very poor because most of the good stuff was scraped by glaciers down into the prairies. With significantly less rainfall, those prairies could be heading for another dustbowl (you've heard of the 1930's, no?). Generally, the most productive soil for farming is in temperate zones and as the temperature rises, rainfall in those areas will decrease (on average) and so will crop returns. As temperature rises, loss of water to evaporation increases, and past a certain point, food production drops and it's not compensated for by the increase in growing season. The U.S. has already been depleting the water table across the midwest, and it's only going to get worse. For anybody even more south, sufficient crop irrigation will be really hard to come by. Get ready for lots more illegal immigrants/economic refugees as equatorial countries start facing more droughts and starvation.

    But hey, don't worry and be happy. It's all a hippy plot to make you feel guilty about driving an SUV.
  • by NeuroManson ( 214835 ) on Saturday November 26, 2005 @02:08AM (#14117310) Homepage
    By the same guys who largely deny there's any such thing as global warming: "We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.", in regards to Iraq's nonexistant weapons of mass destruction.

    Well we don't want the smoking gun to be beachfront property in Utah. Even now, those same cretins who claim no proof of global warming, are thinking up ways to spin a fast buck from the disappearing arctic ice caps.

    Hell, for all we know, maybe all the excess CO2 is coming from right wingers chanting denial.
  • Re:No! God did it! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by akaariai ( 921081 ) on Saturday November 26, 2005 @03:23AM (#14117553)
    Even if gas prices would have no effect to the amount of driving it will have an effect to the amount of gas used. That is, there is no reason why everybody should drive to work with SUVs even if there is no alternative to going with car.
  • Re:Egads! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Quiet_Desperation ( 858215 ) on Saturday November 26, 2005 @04:00AM (#14117642)
    I enjoyed your poat, and totally agree, but you are wasting your time arguing with ideologues (and only an ideologue would suggest the artificial tripling of gas prices).

    We are neck deep in ideologues, and when I use that term, I mean the mass of humanity that has totally and completely abandoned critical thinking and reason in favor of myth, lies and ignorance. Instead of analyzing a particular situation for a solution, they run and check whatever manifesto they follow. It's a "one size fits all" playbook.

    It used to be there was a political extremist fringe, but over the past 50 years or so this debilitating set of memes has trickled down to everyday folks.

    I gave up discussing politics years ago when most of them started going like this.

    OTHER PERSON: Clinton was the best president ever.

    ME: Meh. I didn't care for his approaches to several issues.

    OP: Oh, yeah, your hero Bush is doing so much better.

    ME: My hero? What are you talking about. I like Bush less than Clinton.

    OP: You're just upset you couldn't impeach Clinton.

    ME: What? He *was* impeached but acquitted, and I didn't support impeachment. It was a waste of time and resources.

    OP: It was just a blow job.

    ME: He wasn't impeached for that.

    OP: You hero Rush Limbo tell you that?

    ME: I don't like Limbaugh.

    OP: Oh, please, you Repugnicans are all the same.

    ME: (blank stare and pondering if I should tell OP I'm a long time independent voter) So, how about those Dodgers?

  • by sg_oneill ( 159032 ) on Saturday November 26, 2005 @04:06AM (#14117656)

    I dunno man, I think we are a poorer society without our philosophers. I was looking back at the archives at my uni, and they had old records from philosophers., that families used to sit around the phonogram and listen to. I suspect we'd be a lot more thoughtful society if people still revered philosophers like they used to.
  • Re:No! God did it! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mcrbids ( 148650 ) on Saturday November 26, 2005 @05:02AM (#14117800) Journal
    For the record, I am very environmentally minded, but the fact is that people will drive no matter what the price is.

    Uh, don't think so. If gas is $6/gallon, people won't commute anymore. Neighborhoods will become more dense, community size will shrink. Freeways will open up, and neighborhood grocery will reappear.

    It's simple economics - if travelling becomes more expensive, then anything that requires regular travel will become more expensive. Thus, that $70,000 job 1 hour's drive away might not be as lucrative as a $55,000 job much closer. So, eventually, either the $70,000 job gets filled by somebody more local (preventing both you and that other guy from tying up the freeway driving the combined 240 miles/day) or the job gets moved closer to where the people are, with more or less the same effect.

    Or, you get the job, and telecommute. (which is how my whole career works - as a freelance programmer, I work routinely with clients hundreds of miles away, armed with my cordless phone and my laptop)

    But, there's an interesting twist to rising the price of gasoline, espcially if raised by a tax... it could actually IMPROVE the economy as a whole.

    If less oil is going overseas because people buy less of it, than that means other commodities will get more money. The price of foreign oil goes up against other commodities, people will buy oil less and other commodities more. Presumably, more of those commodities would be produced locally than in the Middle East, resulting a greater disposable income for local folks and less for the shieks.

    This is especially true when you consider that many alternative energy sources become price-competitive at approx 1.5x-2x the price of oil!

    Do not fear the rising price of oil. The basic principles of economics will take care of it, as soon as it becomes profitable to do so.
  • by tehanu ( 682528 ) on Saturday November 26, 2005 @05:42AM (#14117915)
    Your calculations show that 0.01% of the atmosphere is CO2. Hence you argue, it is impossible for a 27% increase in the CO2 levels to affect anything. 0.004% of the human body is iron. So the percentage of CO2 in the atmosphere is 250 times the percentage of iron in the human body. [] Using your reasoning, I guess iron has absolutely no effect on the human body and is just there as filler eh? 20grams is 0.03% of the weight of a 60kg man. Yet, the lethal human dose for arsenic is 20g. [] 50mg is 0.000083% the weight of a 60kg man. Yet, the lethal human dose for hydrogen cyanide is 50mg. If it is inhaled, concentrations of 300 parts per million is all that is needed. []
  • Re:Irony (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Bacon Bits ( 926911 ) on Saturday November 26, 2005 @06:27AM (#14117999)
    It doesn't matter that there were no major health issues caused by Three Mile Island. It is still the primary reason for the souring of opinion toward nuclear power in the US because it was a mistake that nearly ended in disaster. It still exhibits the fundamental problem of nuclear power: one mistake and you're done. People do not believe it is wise to try to operate a facility with those kinds of tolerances.

    Something can be very safe, and still be considered too dangerous to use. For example, we don't use hydrogen in lighter-than-air vehicles anymore. It can be done safely for significantly less money than helium, and there were very few accidents. But you make a little mistake and "Oh the humanity!".

    It doesn't really matter that you only have a 1 in 6 chance of death in Russian Roulette. Eventually, you get a bad pull. And the truth is that no other form of energy can have such a long-lasting or damaging disaster. Hydroelectric dams come close, but you don't have to deal with millions of acres of radioactive land, just death and mud.
  • Re:No! God did it! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jawtheshark ( 198669 ) * <slashdot@ja w t h e s h a r k . com> on Saturday November 26, 2005 @06:35AM (#14118017) Homepage Journal
    If gas is $6/gallon, people won't commute anymore

    Europe calling in here: In my country I have to pay about 4.65€ per gallon for premium gas (Converted using google and My country actually has one of the lowest gas prices in Europe. Compare to the UK: it would be about 6.48€ per gallon. Now, I cannot talk for the UK, but I can talk for my country: most people do take the car for their commutes. Some have a choice, many have not. I, for example, have no choice: my workplace is 35km from home and there is no direct way to get there. I could take, 1 bus and then a train, resulting in about 2 to 3 hours commute. With the car it's 35 minutes if there is no traffic, 1 hour when the traffic is dense. The main reason for this is that I work in a smaller city and not in the capital.
    I can't change my job: I didn't choose the place where I work, it has been imposed by my employer (the state). My wife is in a very similar situation, except she has to drive 50km to her job! We're thinking of relocating close to her job, but then my commute will certainly exceed 100km.

    I'm not complaining, I just want to point out that even with high gas prices people will continue to use their cars if the alternatives are sub-par. Yeah, if we both worked in the capital we could take the bus! Oh, and about bus usage: read my latest journal and weep... []

    Don't kid yourself: high gas prices do not equate lower car usage. Sure, if gas prices were 50€ per litre, I couldn't use the car to get my to by job. The thing is: I wouldn't need to go to my job anymore because the transportation cost would exceed significantly what I earn. I'd simply be out of a job in such a case. Note that nobody who doesn't work in the capital would be out of a job: you would essentially kill economically all smaller cities that cannot connect to the rest of the country without huge investments.

    Of course, I made the mistake five years ago to buy a sports car. Dumb decision now, but back then it was cool. Selling my car is not an option: nobody is going to buy it and I can't get a new one for what I would get for my current car. My wife has a small Diesel car, but she has also noticed the extra cost in her commuting.

  • Re:Greenhouse (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cruachan ( 113813 ) on Saturday November 26, 2005 @07:14AM (#14118108)
    er no, 650,000 years is just how far they got back in the ice core

Nondeterminism means never having to say you are wrong.