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Author Topic: Global warming again
carmachu
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Harvard Study:

http://www.news.harvard.edu/gazette/2003/04.24/01-weather.html

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meworkingman
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If you'd like to read a fictional book that really puts the global warming scare into perspective, I'd recommend Michael Crichton's new book, "State of Fear." It is not only a pretty decent read (although it's not his best work, it's also not his worst), it also gives a great deal of information to rebut the scare tactics of the global warming crowd. It's extensively footnoted and contains a good bibliography.

[Edited to fix up grammar]

[ January 04, 2005, 04:23 PM: Message edited by: meworkingman ]

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KidA
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I thought this was known amongst most scientists. Maybe this is study is noteworthy for being more comprehensive, but I remember hearing (from some folks at CFA, no less) that global warming was "2 parts nature, 1 part humanity". Still, it's not a bad idea to reign in that 1 part as much as possible. The steps taken to slow global warming will be environmentally beneficial in many other ways, as well.
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Wayward Son
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Unfortunately, Crichton’s views on global warming are not universally lauded.

For instance, see this critique and the second part that details the problems that some climate scientists have with Crichton’s analysis.

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John L
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No matter what will be the final outcome of this 'so called' anthropomorphic Global Warming thing, M. Crichton is right on about one thing. I agree completely with him that the Eco-Wacko kooks are using ecology to buttress their own religious beliefs.

And it is simply a part and parcal of the secular funfamentalist movement that has been creeping into society over the years. It is quite simply a religious conversion that must be fundamentally adhered to or open warfare is declared. Sort of reminds me of what is shaking up Islam right now.

And as the good witer states, if you cast out one religion, why eventually you are required to establish another one to take it's place. It's the natural human thing to do.

So let's hear it for narrow minded secular fundamentalism, coupled with the shackles of environmental kookdom, and we will all worship at the cathaderal of Man, the Central State, and the living, breathing, thinking Mother Earth.

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Wayward Son
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The problem, John L, is that on the other side of the coin, there are those who would deny any problem with global warming because they fear they will lose money and their accustomed lifestyle. They have as much religious fervor as any Eco-Wackos, and often have money to help back up their beliefs. So while there are those on one side who want to take things too far, there are those on the other side who will deny any findings because it does not suit their interests and beliefs.

What we need to do is concentrate on the good science, and discover what it indicates about what is truly happening.

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Haggis
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That's "Gaia" to you [Razz]
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Richard Dey
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Those of us who are in favor of global warming are at once heartened and disappointed; and I've been smoking heavily all these years just to warm things up a bit (its the arguments, not the smoking, that's killing me).
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The Drake
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I do agree that Eco-wackos, or as I call them the anti-humanists, are definitely part of an odd fervent backlash against... ourselves. The anti-human agenda, had it been in force over the past 400 years, would have prevented the contruction or widespread use of:

* The majority of present-day Boston, and quite likely many other major cities.
* The Hoover Dam
* The steam and internal combustion engines
* All nuclear power plants

The list goes on and on. Imagine how we would all be living if we had been "conservationists" then. That's enough for me to avoid taking action on any claims in question about global warming.

Today, these same policies contribute to problems in:

* affordable housing
* unemployment
* public health

Isn't it about time we gave it a rest?

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Everard
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No, not really. The evidence is overwhelming that humans have at least some impact, if not more then some, on climate, and the evidence is also overwhelming that air and water pollution are deadly. While we certainly shouldn't destroy our civilization based on those concerns, we also need to make sure that we don't prevent future civilization by ignoring them.
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meworkingman
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quote:

Unfortunately, Crichton’s views on global warming are not universally lauded.

At the risk of sounding disrespectful, my first reaction to this statement was, "well DUH!". As a matter of fact, much of the bibliography he provides are references to authors that disagree with many of his conclusions. He clearly states that he wants the reader to come to his own conclusions about CO2 and global warming.

In a section at the end of the book (the author's message), Crichton plainly states his views on global warming:

1. Carbon dioxide levels are increasing, most likely due to industrialization

2. The world has been in a natural warming trend since 1850, prior to the time industrialization could have exerted much of an effect

3. Computer models of climate have been unsuccessful at predicting long term changes in temperature, and precisely what role CO2 levels play in those changes

4. Perhaps some of the measured increases in temperatures already observed are due to factors other than CO2, such as land use

It's interesting that the critique you link to uses an argument that mirrors statement #4 above to debunk Crichton's citation of the fact that temperatures in the northern hemisphere fell while CO2 continued to climb between 1940 and 1970. So, we are to believe that other factors overpowered the effect of CO2 in the cooling of the northern hemisphere, and, conversely, other factors couldn't possibly overpower the effect of CO2 in the warming of the northern hemisphere. Nice... Kind of like having your cake and eating it too.

However, aside from this back-and-forth over global warming, Crichton makes a more important point as stated in this critique:
quote:

But beyond taking a particular stand on global warming, Crichton goes on to make a broader, more fundamental point: So much of the passion generated over environmental and other scientific issues is fueled by political dogma, as opposed to hard evidence born out of the scientific method. Appendix 1 details instances where social action taken under such conditions of ignorance and hubris led to terrible consequences.


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The Drake
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I wouldn't mind if these problems were discussed on that basis. Dumping poison into the water, and other "ecological" disasters harm humans directly as well. This is a very helpful form of environmentalism.

A good example of the bad type of policy is the story of DDT, when use in Sri Lanka reduced malarial cases from 2.8 MILLION in 1948 to SEVENTEEN in 1964. In 1969, it was back up to 2.5 MILLION - five years after DDT use was discontinued.
http://www.acsh.org/healthissues/newsID.442/healthissue_detail.asp

A lovely quote on behalf of the Environmental Defense Fund goes like this:

quote:
Around the time of the DDT ban, Dr. Charles Wurster, chief scientist for the Environmental Defense Fund, may have revealed how some environmentalists really feel about human beings when he was asked if people might die as a result of the DDT ban: "Probably...so what? People are the causes of all the problems; we have too many of them. We need to get rid of some of them, and this is as good a way as any."
DDT, btw, has never harmed human beings, even those who regulary handled the chemical during sprayings. It was rumored to have harmed wildlife, including birds and fish, but this was never proven.

I agree that we should try to understand the costs to humans in our impact on the environment, and global warming would be among these - if it represented a higher standard of proof, and if the remedy is not more destructive than the problem.

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meworkingman
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quote:

The list goes on and on. Imagine how we would all be living if we had been "conservationists" then.

Not to quibble with your terms or anything, but I hope you meant "environmentalists" as opposed to "conservationists." I consider myself a conservationist in good standing. Just because I believe that much of the global warming rhetoric is bunk, doesn't mean that I don't do my best to conserve resources and care for the environment around me.

[Edited to fix something I left out due to my typing getting ahead of my thoughts]

[ January 04, 2005, 06:48 PM: Message edited by: meworkingman ]

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John L
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quote:
What we need to do is concentrate on the good science, and discover what it indicates about what is truly happening.-WS
Obviously you have been reading M. Crichton's Commonwealth Speech
quote:
Because in the end, science offers us the only way out of politics. And if we allow science to become politicized, then we are lost. We will enter the Internet version of the dark ages, an era of shifting fears and wild prejudices, transmitted to people who don't know any better. That's not a good future for the human race. That's our past. So it's time to abandon the religion of environmentalism, and return to the science of environmentalism, and base our public policy decisions firmly on that.

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meworkingman
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quote:

DDT, btw, has never harmed human beings, even those who regulary handled the chemical during sprayings.

This is one of the instances of allowing ignorance and hubris to override scientific proof that Crichton cites. He notes that the insecticide that replaced DDT was very toxic and that many of the same people who handled DDT safely were poisoned by DDT's replacement because they weren't used to handling such toxic substances.

[ January 04, 2005, 06:55 PM: Message edited by: meworkingman ]

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meworkingman
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Wayward Son:

I just wanted to point out one other thing about the critique that you linked to. It's interesting that the critique impugns Crichton's "cherry picking" of certain facts/statements in his book and then turns around and does the same thing when it quotes from a paper by Richard Lindzen. It quotes Lindzen thus:
quote:

Even Richard Lindzen , normally an arch-skeptic on these issues, stated that "ocean temperature increases present some support for the surface temperature record"

But here is the actual quote:
quote:

Stated differently, the ocean temperature Increases present some support for the surface temperature record, but they do not provide support for the climate models themselves. It must be added that we are dealing with observed surface warming that has been going on for over a century.

It's a little difficult to take a paper seriously when it attacks someone for employing a rhetorical tactic and then turns around and employs the same tactic. Clearly, the average global temperature has risen, at least as measured on the surface (though the atmosphere shows no such rise). This is hardly a startling admission by Lindzen. What is in dispute is the cause of this rise and the models that are employed to forecast what future temperatures will be. If the warming is mostly natural (due to some cycle of the earth or some other natural cause), there is little need to adopt economically dangerous protocols like Kyoto.
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rolva
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It is interesting how some people here readily accept the Theory of Evolution and yet discredit scientists when it doesn't fit their belief. I would venture those of you who do not "believe" in global warming have no argument against or are actually for Intelligent Design being taught in science class.
Taking it directly from Real Climate, how many of you "believe" that
quote:
  • The earth is getting warmer (0.6 +/- 0.2 oC in the past century; 0.1 oC/decade over the last 30 years)
  • People are causing this
  • If GHG emissions continue, the warming will continue and indeed accelerate
  • This will be a problem and we ought to do something about it

It seems you would agree only with the first point . Most climate scientists agree with the first three and they make sense to me. On the third point the question is how much will it warm? And that's were the models come in and they can certainly be made better. If you really don't believe one of these three points then base it on science and publish it in a peer-reviewed journal. Scientists are actually quite good at accepting new ideas if sufficient proof is shown.
Where science can only help us so much is in the fourth point. First, is it a problem? I think it is if we don't do anything. Second, what should we do? While Kyoto is not a great solution, it does go in the right direction because we must realize that there is a cost associated with releasing GHGs that right now we are not paying for. If not, why would private American companies be doing it voluntarily? However, in order to maintain and improve our standard of living, the answer is to invest in developing cleaner technology.

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LetterRip
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Drake,

Have you considered that you might want to reserve some of your 'skepticism' for the skeptics?

The WHOs plan for eradicating malaria was spray intensively for 4-6 years, and stop before resistance developed, at which the incidence of malaria infection should be extremely low. Monitor the population for disease for four years to be sure it was eradicated.

Here is a quote from 1957 by Paul Russel (who would head the eradication efforts)

quote:
Generally, it takes four years of spraying and four years of surveillance to make sure of three consecutive years of no mosquito transmission in an area. After that, normal health department activities can be depended upon to deal with occasional introduced cases. . . . Eradication can be pushed through in a community in a period of eight to ten years, with not more than four to six years of actual spraying, without much danger of resistance. But if countries, due to lack of funds, have to proceed slowly, resistance is almost certain to appear and eradication will become economically impossible. Time is of the essence [his emphasis] because DDT resistance has appeared in six or seven years.
http://info-pollution.com/ddtban.htm

In the case of Sri Lanka what happened?

quote:
Sri Lanka did stop DDT-spraying for Malarial control in the early 1960s but this was not because of concerns about DDT. Sri Lanka was
following normal WHO procedure in moving from attack to consolidation phases. This procedure had been successfully used to eliminate Malaria in a number of countries.

There were several reasons for the subsequent resurgance[sic] in Malaria.

Sri Lanka tended to have malaria epidemics at 3-5 years intervals for climatic reasons. Population movements for chena? [sic] cultivation and gem mining facilitated the creation of epidemic foci. A gradual build up of undetected, untreated cases occurred because few blood smears were done by health institutions and there was a great backlog in processing these.

"After the resurgance was recognised, administrative and financial difficulties prevented the purchase of insecticides of which there were no residual stock, and the employment of temporary squads for spraying them"

Although malaria was temporarily controlled again, it deteriorated again in the early 1970s mainly because of a rise in mosquito resistance to DDT. Sri Lanka was forced to switch the more expensive
Malathion in 1977 as a result.

As summarized by Andrew Taylor from "Malaria - Principles and Practice of Malariology", ed. Wernsdorfer and McGregor, Volume 2, p1367. in sci.environment

If you want to be truly informed about Malaria, try a credible source, such as

Malaria: Obstacles and Opportunities, by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) and published by the National Academies Press

LetterRip

[ January 05, 2005, 12:02 AM: Message edited by: LetterRip ]

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The Drake
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quote:
Originally posted by LetterRip:
Drake,

Have you considered that you might want to reserve some of your 'skepticism' for the skeptics?

The WHOs plan for eradicating malaria was spray intensively for 4-6 years...

I'll admit that my DDT to malaria link was not well researched, I rather stumbled across the example as I was hoping to post something other than global warming that demonstrated the point.

It is clear, however, that DDT use in the US was not constrained economically (unlike, apparantly, Sri Lanka) - yet it remains banned by our Senate - and by extension rides along with US aid which can't be used on the chemical. This policy is not based on any science that I've seen quoted, or found on a second trip through Google just now. I can find many references to scary build-up of DDT in fatty tissue, but no references to DDT related illness. This hardly makes me an expert or constitutes research, obviously.

I do wonder what you think about my broader point, beyond global warming and DDT, and I hope you'll comment on that aspect of the discussion.

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LetterRip
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meworkingman,

quote:
If you'd like to read a fictional book that really puts the global warming scare into perspective
while I've enjoyed Crichtons writings since I was first introduced to them, I don't think I've read a novel he's written where he doesn't make siginificant misunderstandings of the science he is dealing with. I'll probably pick up his latest, maybe I'll post a review of it too.

There seems to be this belief among the public that having a bazillion references or footnotes means your work is well researched and fact based (look at all the footnotes and impressive sounding words - it MUST be true...)

quote:
This is one of the instances of allowing ignorance and hubris to override scientific proof that Crichton cites. He notes that the insecticide that replaced DDT was very toxic and that many of the same people who handled DDT safely were poisoned by DDT's replacement because they weren't used to handling such toxic substances.
Haven't read Crichtons book yet, but farmers were switching to other pesticides in the 1960's not because of any concerns over DDT but because insects had already gained resistance to it. As noted above resistance sets in at about seven years, and becomes stronger with continued usage. Insect resistance develops to a class of chemicals not just the exact molecule, thus the effectiveness of other organochloride based insecticides was greatly reduced as well. The only way to regain the pesticides usefulness is to stop using until the target insect population loses its resistance.

Also read this bulletin from 1945,

http://www.newton.dep.anl.gov/natbltn/001-099/nb037.htm

Drake,

quote:
It is clear, however, that DDT use in the US was not constrained economically (unlike, apparantly, Sri Lanka) - yet it remains banned by our Senate - and by extension rides along with US aid which can't be used on the chemical.
There are about 20 countries out of 100 that have malaria that currently use DDT, but most don't because resistance is too high and the rate of malaria is fairly low. In some areas malaria has developed resistance most of the drug treatments, the mosquitos have developed resistance to the available pesticides (including different classes of pesticide), and some have evolved to no longer land on surfaces that are likely to contain pesticides (which is scary as hell...).

Regarding the effects of DDT on humans - animal studies have shown it to be cancerous, human studies haven't been large enough to give conclusive results. It appears to reduce lactation. It has some neuro effects.

See

http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/phs35.html
http://www.inchem.org/documents/iarc/vol53/04-ddt.html

for more details. Also it gives (some) info regarding environmental impact, although not the primary focus.

The biggest concern is that it has a very long half life (150 years in an aquatic environment) and has significant impact on non target species - such as predators of the pest targeted; salmon fry, mussels, and a number of other aquatic species; and an assortment of beneficial insects such as pollinating insects, insects that do decomposition and soil treatment.

http://www.the-piedpiper.co.uk/th13_l_.htm

(replace underscores with ( and ) )

LetterRip

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Wayward Son
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And, of course, even if the banning of DDT was the result of politics rather than good science, it has no relevance on global warming. At most, it would merely illustrate that politics could trounce science, but I think almost everyone would agree that it is at least theoretically possible. But it would not indicate whether global warming was actually in the same category.
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The Drake
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Right, Wayward. It all comes down to your approach. "Better safe than sorry" is a tough pill when it means guaranteed reduced livelihoods today for a potential minor benefit tomorrow.

To me, "The Environment" has no inherent value beyond how it affects the humans who live in it. I don't care about an endangered fish, because the species doesn't exist in large enough quantities to mean anything to humans - apart from a few ichthyologists and ichthyophiles. I do care about fish stocks and fish contamination - because I love to eat those little rascals.

Extend this to the global warming scenarios. Global warming certainly can have a large effect on humans over the long term. While there is ample evidence to suggest that the Earth has been warmer in the past, rate of change also has to be taken into account. Let's say it is a natural climate change, and not dominated by human CO2 emissions. If this climate change is due to some other phenomenon - we'd best find out what that is and apply our efforts in that direction if we want to keep cool.

My big problem with Global Warming is that it seems that Environmentalists desire it to be true so they can deride industry and human progress on the Earth. This doesn't mean research is wrong, but it does call it into question. We're all familiar with why the ideal experiment uses the double blind method. Since hardly anybody gets a grant to disprove global warming, I consider the research to be suspect. Not to mention, most people who go into environmental science tend to be capital-E environmentalists.

To be clear, I believe that the research is being carried out in good faith, I just think that you can't fully overcome this bias.

The other problem that I have is that the only solutions widely proposed involve limiting GHG emissions. Aren't there other options? Why don't we hear about that? I'm not suggesting that we try to extinguish the sun, but surely there is more than this one approach.

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LetterRip
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quote:
Since hardly anybody gets a grant to disprove global warming, I consider the research to be suspect.
Out of curiousity, are you aware that the vast majority of research funds for individuals on both sides of the debate have been governments? Nobody gets grants to 'prove global warming'. There are grants to characterize historical climate data, grants to model the climate, grants to examine subjects that may impact interpretation of temperature data, etc. What 'disprove global warming' theories are you aware of that haven't recieved government funding?

quote:
Not to mention, most people who go into environmental science tend to be capital-E environmentalists.
Physics or mathematics (most climate modeling research), chemistry, biology are all degrees relevant to studying the environment. Most researchers I know view environmentalists with skepticism. Only a small percentage of the scientists that investigate issues related to 'global warming' could be considered environmentalists by any stretch of the imagination.

quote:
The other problem that I have is that the only solutions widely proposed involve limiting GHG emissions. Aren't there other options? Why don't we hear about that? I'm not suggesting that we try to extinguish the sun, but surely there is more than this one approach.
There have been a few other possibilities offered, but they are generally have major flaws (things like changing the earths albedo). There really aren't too many options - 1) change the energy recieved by the earth from the sun - ie block the sun 2) increase the energy returned to space by the earth - change the earths albedo, or change the earths atmospheric composition (reduce GHG or increase aerosol content) or change the electrical character of the atmosphere. Or 3) move the causes of GHG off earth. That is pretty much an exhaustive list of the options. Reducing GHG emissions is relatively straight forward with huge number of possible approaches (sequestration, conservation and efficiency), and has a known risk profile.

LetterRip

[ January 05, 2005, 08:16 PM: Message edited by: LetterRip ]

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LetterRip
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The Drake,

quote:
"Better safe than sorry" is a tough pill when it means guaranteed reduced livelihoods today for a potential minor benefit tomorrow.
Which 'guaranteed reduced livelihoods', and which benefits do you characterize as a 'potential minor benefit'?

LetterRip

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The Drake
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quote:
Originally posted by LetterRip:
The Drake,

quote:
"Better safe than sorry" is a tough pill when it means guaranteed reduced livelihoods today for a potential minor benefit tomorrow.
Which 'guaranteed reduced livelihoods', and which benefits do you characterize as a 'potential minor benefit'?

LetterRip

Minor benefit is probably out of context, I was thinking of Kyoto when I wrote this segment. Reduced livelihoods refers to data on immediate economic costs that would result in higher energy costs with widespread impact. Obviously, if global warming is a looming crisis, it would be a major benefit to reverse the trend if possible. Which is also worth considering. If it is not possible to reverse the trend or slow it significantly, effort would be better spent on mitigation.
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The Drake
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quote:
Originally posted by LetterRip:

Out of curiousity, are you aware that the vast majority of research funds for individuals on
both sides of the debate have been governments?

Not really a surprise, relatively few studies are funded privately. Everyone I know who is in research is always writing grant proposals, not business plans.

quote:
Nobody gets grants to 'prove global warming'. There are grants to characterize historical climate data, grants to model the climate, grants to examine subjects that may impact interpretation of temperature data, etc. What 'disprove global warming' theories are you aware of that haven't recieved government funding?

Forgive my imprecision. They get grants to study global warming. But their stated mission belies their objectivity. And maybe that's ok, but it increases my skepticism. Objectivity wouldn't be a problem for me, if the science were more than a couple of decades old.

I can't find good examples of Grants approved (and I doubt that there is a rejected list out there), so this may just be a perception of mine based on media reports - never a great source of information about research even in the best of circumstances. Very recently we're seeing reports questioning global warming in the news - because now that is the exciting controversial POV.


quote:
There have been a few other possibilities offered, but they are generally have major flaws (things like changing the earths albedo). There really aren't too many options - 1) change the energy recieved by the earth from the sun - ie block the sun 2) increase the energy returned to space by the earth - change the earths albedo, or change the earths atmospheric composition (reduce GHG or increase aerosol content) or change the electrical character of the atmosphere. Or 3) move the causes of GHG off earth. That is pretty much an exhaustive list of the options. Reducing GHG emissions is relatively straight forward with huge number of possible approaches (sequestration, conservation and efficiency), and has a known risk profile.

I'm not against targetting GHG emissions and content, as you point out, it would be nearly risk-free and higher impact. But I reject the idea that reducing consumption (conservation) is going to go anywhere. People are just not going to count pounds of CO2 for the benefit of future generations (see thread on deficit spending for further proof), nor are they going to pay double for clean energy.

Some other solutions include increasing research into safer nuclear energy technologies, funding nanotechnology initiatives that promise to improve solar efficiency (especially good if the sun really is partly responsible for the growing
temperature).

An effective solution has to acknowledge human nature and must be based on accurate information. This includes taking into account emissions in all nations as a whole, as well as points of future emission growth.

Of course all this assumes that the current global warming isn't helping us to avoid a future ice age, but I guess we can always burn down some forest to warm back up again.

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LetterRip
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quote:
Some other solutions include increasing research into safer nuclear energy technologies, funding nanotechnology initiatives that promise to improve solar efficiency (especially good if the sun really is partly responsible for the growing temperature
Those all fall under methods to reduce GHG emissions - reduction by improved efficiency, by sequestration, by alternate energy source, etc. are all possibilities. The current state of the art in nuclear technology is extremely safe. Solar cell efficiency (or usage of solar concentrators etc.) are unrelated to the theory of how the sun is impacting the climate(the theory is that solar flux variations change the ionic character of the atmosphere which results in changes in cloud cover resulting in increased or decreased heat retention - the variable thermal output and variable output in the visible spectrum of the sun is pretty much negligble as far as global warming is concerned... Incidentally, I suspect that the reporter of the above article somewhat misunderstood Balinaus and Soon)

LetterRip

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Star Pilot 111
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The Pacific Islanders notice the ocean tides are rising. Some say it's because of the excessive melting of the Arctic ice. Global warming or not, these people could lose their islands in a few years.

http://www.itvs.org/risingwaters/islands.html

Although global warming impacts the entire world, Pacific Islanders are suffering the consequences of climate change most immediately and dramatically.

Marshall Islands
During the last decade, the island of Majuro has lost up to 20 per cent of its beachfront.


Kiribati
Straddling the equator and the international dateline, Kirabati (pronounced Kee-ree-bas) is composed of 33 islands spread over 2 million square miles in the central Pacific Ocean. One of the smallest and most isolated nations in the world, the terrain is mostly low-lying coral atolls surrounded by extensive reefs. In recent years, Kribati islanders have reported unusually high tides, rogue waves, the loss of small islands, and storms more powerful than those of the past. Sea water continues to encroach onto the fresh water lens underneath the coral atoll, contaminating drinking water and destroying crops.

Bikeman, Kiribati
The small island of Bikeman, located near Tarawa, Kiribati, was once a landmark to guide fishermen home. Now, Bikeman is submerged underwater, probably due to the rise in sea level. Years ago, the island was called Tebuneuea, meaning "the place for chiefs," where people used to present their gifts to the gods. Today, people can only walk on the former island in knee-deep water.

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The Drake
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quote:
Originally posted by Star Pilot 111:
The Pacific Islanders notice the ocean tides are rising. Some say it's because of the excessive melting of the Arctic ice. Global warming or not, these people could lose their islands in a few years.

I don't suppose they'd like to relocate to the newly available land in Antartica that will be available when the ice melts?

http://www.coolantarctica.com/

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The Drake
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quote:
Originally posted by LetterRip:
Solar cell efficiency (or usage of solar concentrators etc.) are unrelated to the theory of how the sun is impacting the climate(the theory is that solar flux variations change the ionic character of the atmosphere which results in changes in cloud cover resulting in increased or decreased heat retention - the variable thermal output and variable output in the visible spectrum of the sun is pretty much negligble as far as global warming is concerned... Incidentally, I suspect that the reporter of the above article somewhat misunderstood Balinaus and Soon)

Very interesting. I was going by the caption on the picture above the article, which is apparently totally unrelated to the research - which sought to determine whether current climate data fell outside historical norms.

Regarding your statement about nuclear fission, would you say that the risk of extended global warming should be responded to, in part, by construction of new power plants?

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Slander Monkey
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quote:
Originally posted by The Drake:
I can't find good examples of Grants approved (and I doubt that there is a rejected list out there), so this may just be a perception of mine based on media reports - never a great source of information about research even in the best of circumstances. Very recently we're seeing reports questioning global warming in the news - because now that is the exciting controversial POV.

Here's a source for some Grants approved: NSF Grants Search (Climate + Warming). Because the list was generated from a search, there may be some grants that have little to do with either climate or warming, but it ought to get you close.

Here's a challenge (to everyone): see if you can find obvious (or subtle) bias in the abstracts -- I don't know if there is any (I'd be interested to know if there is), but for those of you who have had no experience with government funded research proposals, you may be surprised at how "scientific" and "disinterested" most of them sound. They typically stand in stark contrast to the sensationalism of the political side of the "Global Warming" debate.

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LetterRip
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quote:
Regarding your statement about nuclear fission, would you say that the risk of extended global warming should be responded to, in part, by construction of new power plants?
I'm not sure what you are asking, do you mean, should we prefer to build new nuclear plants instead of new coal plants? Or should we build nuclear and replace old coal plants?

While I think nuclear is fine as an energy source, and reactors are safe, the cost estimates per MW are grossly underestimated in my opinion. Ie they tend to ignore decommissioning costs and disposal costs. Also they have a huge upfront capital investment (but much less for some of the modern designs). Also I seem to recall that lifecycle carbon output (ie total carbon output when you take into account mining the uranium and building the plant) are fairly high. I probably need to update my info a bit though...

Personally I lean towards 'Solar Space Power' (large solar panel arrays in space) and carbon sequestration from coal plants as the most realistic long term solutions.

LetterRip

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LetterRip
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Okay just checked,

Basically ore above .02% are needed to get reasonable results, .1% being preferable. Currently there is 3 world energy equivalents worth of ore that is .1% or higher available.

Here are the reserves that have such

http://www.nuclearfaq.ca/cnf_sectionG.htm

If nuclear became a primary energy dependence, certain countries could easily start charging monopoly prices for uranium.

LetterRip

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The Drake
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quote:
Originally posted by Slander Monkey:
Here's a source for some Grants approved: NSF Grants Search (Climate + Warming).

Outstanding link, I really appreciate the information - and the associated challenge.

Using your resource, I decided to examine things by looking at the category CLIMATE & LARGE-SCALE DYNAMICS, and limit grants to those > $1 million (otherwise I'd have to get a grant to read the grants). There were 75 of these listed.

I've read enough of them to be convinced that the researchers themselves are probably not as biased as I would have guessed, and I'm willing to concede that they may not be biased at all (grants listed below for easy follow-up by interested parties).

But what stands out even more starkly after reading the research abstracts, is how little we know about the process. To quote part of an abstract:

"Presently, however, there are major uncertainties about the CO2 gas exchange processes involving the oceans and terrestrial biosphere. The goal of this research project is to gather the type of data which can be used to obtain a more reliable estimate of the oceanic and biospheric carbon dioxide sink and source strengths."

The time for this grant is nearly complete, after four years of research, so the major uncertainties may have been resolved by now. But this reads like we don't even know how much CO2 is emitted and absorbed by natural sources. And, if this data is not available, what are all the predictor models based on?

It sounds a little shaky to base public policy on, and I now suspect that the global public policy is based more on popular and media hysteria than scientific data.

http://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward.do?AwardNumber=0082131

http://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward.do?AwardNumber=0084270

http://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward.do?AwardNumber=9910853

http://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward.do?AwardNumber=9121986

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LetterRip
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Drake,

quote:
The time for this grant is nearly complete, after four years of research, so the major uncertainties may have been resolved by now. But this reads like we don't even know how much CO2 is emitted and absorbed by natural sources. And, if this data is not available, what are all the predictor models based on?
I think you misread the dates on that grant,

quote:
Start Date June 15, 1992
Expires May 31, 1998 (Estimated)

See this paper for a brief view of the evolution of climate modeling. It is in doc format.

evolution of climate modeling.doc

The problem of not knowning exact parameters for certain variables is handled by paramaterization. What is done is that for each variable a parameter is randomly selected from its range (either with equal probability or with weighting based on 'most likely' values), and then the climate model is ran with that set of parameters. Then the result is presented as either a range (and statistics), a probability curve, or an average.

LetterRip

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The Drake
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Thanks, LetterRip. My eyes must have glazed over after too many abstracts. I got my dates swapped. Either that, or MY bias asserted itself (not on purpose).

Given what you're saying about the paramaterization, and your obvious knowledge and interest in the subject, where do the "best case" and "worst case" predictions lie? Where along the probability curve are the values reported by the media? Have the models been around long enough, and do they have sufficient precision, to be confirmed as accurate predictors?

With regard to solutions, doesn't any kind of conservation simply slow the process - rather than solve it? If we burn fossil fuels at half the current rate, it takes two centuries instead of one to reach the same amount of CO2 atmospheric concentration.

I'm going to say that I'm putting my money on nuclear fusion.

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LetterRip
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Drake,

quote:
Given what you're saying about the paramaterization, and your obvious knowledge and interest in the subject, where do the "best case" and "worst case" predictions lie? Where along the probability curve are the values reported by the media? Have the models been around long enough, and do they have sufficient precision, to be confirmed as accurate predictors?
I was/am writing a book on the environment that is intended to be the ultimate guide, and as unbiased as humanly possible. Thus I know a fair bit about most of these topics. Regarding the best and worst case predictions of the IPCC, a new study suggests there is a 5% of the lowest prediction being too high, and a 40% chance of the IPCCs highest prediction being too low. My personal opinion - well, first we'd need to define for amount of warming by when. Haven't decided yet, I haven't checked the projections in depth enough yet to see which has the most reasonable set of human factors.

quote:
Where along the probability curve are the values reported by the media?
The media almost always repeats the the median value.

quote:
Have the models been around long enough, and do they have sufficient precision, to be confirmed as accurate predictors?
The majority of modern models can reproduce many of the 'macro' features of climate fairly well for historical climate, and some have spontaneous occurence of things like ENSO and collapse of the thermohaline circulation. While the modeling techniques vary, the conclusion of warming is consistent across models for the future projections.

quote:
With regard to solutions, doesn't any kind of conservation simply slow the process - rather than solve it? If we burn fossil fuels at half the current rate, it takes two centuries instead of one to reach the same amount of CO2 atmospheric concentration.
Basically the slowing gives you more time to find a permanent solution.

quote:
I'm going to say that I'm putting my money on nuclear fusion.
Nuclear fusion is an eventual possibility, I haven't checked the research on it lately. I prefer solutions that are more 'mere engineering' though for planning purposes.

LetterRip

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LetterRip
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Interesting piece regarding some of the errors in Crichtons most recent book

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=74#comments

LetterRip

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Everard
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" I prefer solutions that are more 'mere engineering' though for planning purposes."

Just noticed this. Thats basically what fusion has been at for 20 years.

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Wayward Son
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Another nail in Crichton’s global warming coffin comes from
Gregory Benford and Martin Hoffert
. They write a scathing editorial on Crichton’s bibliography.

quote:
Perhaps because he wanted a dramatic, contrarian theme, Crichton did not let facts get in the way. For example, he argues in "State of Fear" that our oceans are not warming. This is important because, as Arthur Clarke reminded us, it makes little sense to call our planet "Earth" when 70 percent of its surface is ocean. Not only are the oceans warming at the surface, there is well-documented and pronounced subsurface warming and heat storage – as predicted 20 years ago and consistent with atmosphere and ocean climate models.

He's wrong, too, when he claims that a simple fact – that cities are warmer than countryside, leading to a "heat island effect" – has been ignored in climate temperature data taken near cities. He misleads his readers when he has his characters say that temperatures measured by Earth satellites are inconsistent with global warming derived from thermometers on land. To "document" his claims, Crichton shows many plots downloaded from the NASA/GISS Web site – but he misrepresents the data.

quote:
To believe Crichton and company, you have to believe that there's a vast conspiracy – involving the editors of Science, Nature, Scientific American and some dozen other peer-reviewed journals – to exclude and reject climate skeptics papers. The skeptics mainly publish books and on Web sites, avoiding journals.
But the most damning criticism, IMO, came from their undisputed area of expertise:

quote:
Despite "State of Fear's" long bibliography, Crichton seems to have actually read only secondary sources, and does not understand them. He writes that our paper "concluded that there is no known technology that will enable us to halt the rise of carbon dioxide in the 21st century." But we didn't say that. Instead, we outlined plenty of technologies that must be further developed to stop a probable several-degree rise in global temperatures.
(Emphasis mine.)

No one can argue that a scientific paper's author does not know what his paper says, especially on something as simple as the information contained in it. Misquoting a paper shows, at best, that the author did not do his work, and at worst is being purposefully deceitful. It is becoming increasing obvious that Crichton falls somewhere in that spectrum.

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