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The End of the World, according to ABC News.--

ABC News had a special report Wednesday night on the end of the world. I caught little more than the last segment, which focused on what was presented as the greatest threat to human existence: global warming.

Among the claims that were repeated multiple times (by Al Gore and others) were that there was no scientific debate over whether the cause of global warming was humans. Not only did ABC liken those scientists who did not accept this orthodoxy to Holocaust deniers and to scientists who claimed that cigarettes were not associated with cancer, but ABC actually showed witness after witness for tobacco companies claiming that tobacco did not cause cancer, as if it were not enough merely to mention the analogy in passing. (Query whether that airtime could have been devoted to at least one reputable expert who disagreed with ABC's smugly certain experts?)

ABC showed experts claiming that the reason that scientific dissenters were unwilling to accept the orthodox opinion is that they were being paid by major polluters to take those positions.

ABC also reported increased hurricane activity as if it were an established scientific fact that there were now more hurricanes and that they were caused by global warming.

ABC trotted out various group studies about the impending environmental disaster, as if ABC was unaware of just how inaccurate group environmental predictions had been in the 1970s and 1980s.

Last, ABC's experts seemed quite confident that global warming could be solved by human changes, as if the main question were a lack of will. The ABC report never considered whether the drastic GNP losses associated with steps that would be predicted to make a significant difference would cause more death, poverty, and destruction than the likeliest global warming scenarios.

I was struck by how different ABC's report was than Alex Beam's latest Boston Globe column on "MIT's Inconvenient Scientist," Richard Lindzen:

In the debate over climate change, [Stanford climatologist Stephen] Schneider said [to reporters 10 years ago], there simply was no legitimate opposing view to the scientific consensus that man-made carbon emissions drive global warming. To suggest or report otherwise, he said, was irresponsible.

Indeed. I attended a week's worth of lectures on global warming at the Chautauqua Institution last month. Al Gore delivered the kickoff lecture, and, 10 years later, he reiterated Schneider's directive. There is no science on the other side, Gore inveighed, more than once. Again, the same message: If you hear tales of doubt, ignore them. They are simply untrue.

I ask you: Are these convincing arguments? . . . What am I not supposed to know?

Here's the kind of information the "scientific consensus" types don't want you to read. MIT's Alfred P. Sloan professor of meteorology Richard Lindzen recently complained about the "shrill alarmism" of Gore's movie "An Inconvenient Truth." Lindzen acknowledges that global warming is real, and he acknowledges that increased carbon emissions might be causing the warming--but they also might not.

"We do not understand the natural internal variability of climate change" is one of Lindzen's many heresies, along with such zingers as "the Arctic was as warm or warmer in 1940," "the evidence so far suggests that the Greenland ice sheet is actually growing on average," and "Alpine glaciers have been retreating since the early 19th century, and were advancing for several centuries before that. Since about 1970, many of the glaciers have stopped retreating and some are now advancing again. And, frankly, we don't know why." . . .

I decided to check out Lindzen for myself. He wasn't hard to find on the 16th floor of MIT's I.M. Pei-designed Building 54, and he answered as many questions as I had time to ask. He's no big fan of Gore's, having suffered through what he calls a "Star Chamber" Congressional inquisition by the then senator. He said he accepted $10,000 in expenses and expert witness fees from fossil-fuel types in the 1990s, and has taken none of their money since.

He's smart. He's an effective debater. No wonder the Steve Schneiders and Al Gores of the world don't want you to hear from him. It's easier to call someone a shill and accuse him of corruption than to debate him on the merits. . . .

For no apparent reason, the state of California, Environmental Defense, and the Natural Resources Defense Council have dragged Lindzen and about 15 other global-warming skeptics into a lawsuit over auto-emissions standards. California et al. have asked the auto companies to cough up any and all communications they have had with Lindzen and his colleagues, whose research has been cited in court documents.

"We know that General Motors has been paying for this fake science exactly as the tobacco companies did," says ED attorney Jim Marston. If Marston has a scintilla of evidence that Lindzen has been trafficking in fake science, he should present it to the MIT provost's office. Otherwise, he should shut up.

"This is the criminalization of opposition to global warming," says Lindzen, who adds he has never communicated with the auto companies involved in the lawsuit. Of course Lindzen isn't a fake scientist, he's an inconvenient scientist. No wonder you're not supposed to listen to him.

Several aspects of this comparison of stories were striking to me.

First, I found Lindzen's claim that "the evidence so far suggests that the Greenland ice sheet is actually growing on average" to be shocking--and (in my ignorance) implausible after everything I've read or heard in the press (including in ABC's report). Obviously, I'm not an expert, but I'd like to see Lindzen's support for this claim.

Second, Lindzen must be speaking metaphorically, rather than literally, when he claims that scientific dissent is being criminalized.

Third, I thought it questionable for ABC to present as evidence of man-made global warming an increase in category 4 hurricanes. Our weather satellites are much better than they were 30 years ago (thus missing fewer large storms), our wind recording instruments are much more widely dispersed, and the annual natural variation in big storms must be large. It is good that scientists are beginning to explore in the scholarly literature whether there might be more storms today, but for ABC to present both the supposed phenomenon and its possible cause as if they were established seemed to me to go too far--especially since it was presented along with saying that anyone who disagreed with the science they presented was like a holocaust denier or a denier of a link between cigarettes and cancer.

Fourth, from the public debate it appears that the number of reputable scientific experts who think that global warming may not be primarily man-made is small but not trivial. No historical expert believes that the holocaust did not occur. Some climate experts do not think that the evidence that global warming is primarily man-made is yet persuasive (and a few even doubt that any uncommon warming is occurring). Thus ABC's analogy to holocaust denial is inapt.

Arguments that the scientists who disagree with ABC's experts are being paid by polluters to say what they are saying is irresponsible and false if Lindzen is telling the truth. Paying someone 11 years ago to be an expert witness does not mean that he is being paid now to express opinions discussing data, some of which were compiled long after he was paid for his expertise. Generally, scientific experts are hired because of their pre-existing opinions, not the other way around.

Further, as Michael Crichton argues in Aliens Cause Global Warming, science does not work by consensus. It is based on evidence. Those scientists who try to intimidate other scientists, such as some of ABC's experts, show such little respect for the norms of science that it is hard to take their scientific opinions as seriously as they probably merit. Heavy-handed attempts to bludgeon dissident scientists into submission does not advance the cause of science, even if (as seems more likely than not to me) those doing the bludgeoning are probably correct about the main cause of global warming. And, of course, even if much of the orthodox view of global warming eventually turns out to be correct, the cure for global warming may be worse than the disease.

fishbane (mail):
First, I found Lindzen's claim that "the evidence so far suggests that the Greenland ice sheet is actually growing on average" to be shocking--and (in my ignorance) implausible after everything I've read or heard in the press (including in ABC's report). Obviously, I'm not an expert, but I'd like to see Lindzen's support for this claim.

I don't know what he's referring to, but it may be reports that there is more ice accumulation centered on poles at the same time that melting occurs on the borders. If that is what he's talking about, that's actually predicted by several global warming models.

Heavy-handed attempts to bludgeon dissident scientists into submission does not advance the cause of science, even if (as seems more likely than not to me) those doing the bludgeoning are probably correct about the main cause of global warming.

I wonder how you feel about the role of the Intelligent Design types. They're clearly wrong, and extremely manipulative. Is it your position that they should be given a seat at the table, because they have an opinion? If so, what's the bright line rule - should the FSM people have a stake as well? If so, sign me on as a flying spaggeti monster devotee!

And, of course, even if much of the orthodox view of global warming eventually turns out to be correct, the cure for global warming may be worse than the disease.

Sure. Cost/benefit should be employed. It would be helpful, though, if you defined terms. Obviously, the cure can't be worse than the disease if it means the extinction of humankind. So you can't mean that. What, though, do you mean? Taking Gore at face value (this is for argument; I don't do so), suppose a 20 meter rise in the waterline over (some fairly near timeline; I don't remember what he's claiming). Who has done a C/B on the destroyed coastal cities, homes, businesses, and shipping lanes and compared that to the benefit of industry heating our environment? Can you point to one?

If you're positing some other situation, can you describe it, and maybe point to some data that supports it?
8.31.2006 2:51am
Lev:
What are you saying? That The Day After Tomorrow is not a documentary? That Algore doesn't know what he is talking about, even though he got a D in the only science course he took in college?

You are going to be burned at the stake heretic.
8.31.2006 2:51am
Volokh Groupie:
Lindzen's ice cap claim isn't that controversial because the evidence on ice cap growth is inconclusive.

The following has some links which talk about ice cap growth/shrinkage and how it fits into global warming theories (though the scientists at real climate feel research has at least presented substantive evidence for man made global warming- so you can take it with that grain of salt-though they generally tend to operate on a purely scientific level):

link to real climate
8.31.2006 2:53am
Volokh Groupie:
some problems fishbane:

first- there will definitely be gcm's that predict ice sheet growth. however there are so many different versions of gcm's and other simulations with such a complicated matrix of variables and feedbacks, that at this point the fact that one or several models may predict a certain feedback of global warming doesn't necessarily prove a causation.

second- i'm not sure whether your trying to be snarky or honest in your comparison of fsm and intelligent design with those who don't necessarily agree with certain views on global warming from a scientific perspective. The main problem with your line of argument is that lindzen and the bevy of other scientists (and there are several at harvard and other universities across the country) base their disagreements on empirical, scientifically viable theories. FSM and ID are not theories which fall under this criteria, so it's really unfair to compare the two.

third- youre right about cost/benefit analysis. for all those who claim that reactions towards compensating for global warming may be too costly, it would be very helpful for social scientists to start to put out some analyses of just those possible scenarios. of course there are many problems with this: the unknown nature of global warming (in terms of it duration, magnitude, etc), the unknown global AND regional effects of possible global warming, possible feedbacks of methods of combatting global warming and the time scales they would operate on, etc.

in some ways then such analysis may not be that helpful outside of using them for political advantage
8.31.2006 3:03am
guest:
I second the groupie's pointer to realclimate.org. They have some great stuff - its the experts presenting the science to the public in a way that the public can understand, but with much more complexity than is possible in the popular media. The global warming/hurricane link is a great example of that - several papers have suggested a link, and surely there's some effect, but the magnitude of that effect (which is what counts) is still pretty uncertain. Some recent papers suggest that the effect is significant, but more evidence is required. The popular media requires simplicity, so they treat those papers as fact, when that's not how the scientific process works.

They have a few columns with strong refutations of Lindzen, and a good FAQ for those who are interested but don't know much about the subject.
8.31.2006 3:03am
Eric Anondson (mail):
I saw most of the ABC show, and while it seemed to have good production values, it fell far short of the science of such apocalypse shows one could see on the National Geographic Channel or Discovery Channel.

The supervolcano threat was simply poorly put together compared to the stuff done by National Geographic.

Frankly, the global warming threat should not have been ranked #1, IMO. It should have been rated #2 with plague ranked at #1 instead.

Lastly, maybe it is because I have only just finished reading Steve Fuller's "Kuhn vs. Popper: The Struggle for the Soul of Science", but I only just recently became aware of Thomas Kuhn's 1962 book, "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions". So I find it a little wrong to say that science does not work by consensus. Ideally, sure. But the world of academic scientists have been living in a world shaped by Kuhn's book ever since.

If I may quote from a Scientific American review of Steve Fuller's biography of Kuhn,
The paradigms of normal science are not the ideal form of science, [Fuller] says, but rather "an arrested social movement in which the natural spread of knowledge is captured by a community that gains relative advantage by forcing other communities to rely on its expertise to get what they want."
The paradigms of normal science, Fuller goes on to assert, confer a phony legitimacy and autonomy on scientific practice. Alternative versions of the "truth" are delegitimized, and establishment science (with its consumerist-military alliances) becomes the only game in town. Young scientists are acculturated within the paradigm and spend the rest of their careers tweaking theories. Dissent is frowned upon. The real problems of society are ignored in the pursuit of the next decimal place.
8.31.2006 3:06am
r4d20 (mail):

I appears to me that skepticism regarding Global Warming is usually caused by skepticsm of the motives of those behind the message, but maybe it was just me. I am no longer skeptical of Global Warming, but I am still very skeptical of the people who appear to be hijacking it as a vehicle to advance another agenda.
8.31.2006 3:09am
Volokh Groupie:
to r4d20:

I understand what you mean in some senses. However, a particular view on how one should react to what could potentially be global warming should not necessarily be mistaken for an agenda.

Scientists can legitimately scientifically question whether the earth is experiencing runaway global warming which has been at least partially driven by man made causes, especially with regards to the current timescales of warming and considering the uncertainty in climate modelling (which is incredibly substantial).

However, there's nothing wrong with believing that at least some minimal effort should be made to decrease possible negative impacts man may be having on the climate. While this is cost/benefit dependent I don't think there is anybody who would disagree with the idea that decreasing pollution is a good thing. The positive externalties of such actions would probably extend into areas beyond global warming. So, while its fair to be questioning of global warming or is sources, not every single belief on how to react to it should be pigeonholed into an agenda.
8.31.2006 3:17am
James Lindgren (mail):
Fishbane:

Is there any scientific evidence for ID? I haven't seen it. Most of the "scientific" argumentation by ID adherents merely critiques evolution; it doesn't provide support for ID.

Obviously, a 20 or 40 foot increase in the oceans, which I believe is what Gore was talking about on ABC, would be catastrophic and would justify drastic reductions in GNP to prevent.

I don't have a link for it, but I believe that a large number of scientists (I believe over 100) signed on to a report a couple years ago that looked at the likeliest global warrming scenarios (not the most extreme ones) and concluded that it would require raising some bridges and abandoning some coastal areas, but this would happen gradually. And since existing warming seems concentrated at the cooler climes (very little has been measured at the equator), more, rather than less, of the world would become appropriate for agriculture. I can't judge this work, but not all of the effects of global warming would be negative (it's net effect on agriculture might be positive).

As for cost/benefit analysis, the place to start is with the Skeptical Environmentalist, which argues that global warming is occurring, but that the cost of most measures to prevent it would not be worth the costs. Despite the vitriol directed at its author, there has been little careful work critiquing his C/B analysis, and most of his analyses are based on public reports and public data accepted by environmentalists. The attack on the book in Science is embarrasingly badly done. He might well be wrong--after all, most experts think he is--but their arguments against him are remarkably weak IMO.
8.31.2006 3:21am
Lev:
In the debate over climate change, [Stanford climatologist Stephen] Schneider said [to reporters 10 years ago], there simply was no legitimate opposing view to the scientific consensus that man-made carbon emissions drive global warming. To suggest or report otherwise, he said, was irresponsible.


Scientists can legitimately scientifically question whether the earth is experiencing runaway global warming which has been at least partially driven by man made causes, especially with regards to the current timescales of warming and considering the uncertainty in climate modelling (which is incredibly substantial).


Another heretic to be burned at the stake!
8.31.2006 3:24am
Bruce Wilder (www):
Cost/benefit analysis is going to be a bit difficult to do, while the available models of climate change remain imprecise, and the an accounting of consequences outside our imaginative grasp.

The challenge of developing a scheme for controlling climate and then choosing a target climate for the planet is roughly analogous to the challenge of central banking: controlling the value of a currency and a national debt thru time. The economy is almost completely a human "caused" affair, and may be less complex by an order of magnitude or two, than the climate. Developing the institutions to control money took over 300 years, from the founding of the Bank of England in the 17th century. Various theories of money were proposed in that time. A misplaced faith in the value of specie led to deflationary policies, that proved disastrous. A misplaced faith in fiscal policy led to an inflationary policy that got out of hand. In the whole WWII policy, the basic imperative to never, ever invert the yield curve, remains controversial, despite repeated lessons in its wisdom.

In all the 300 years in which macroeconomic monetary policy was discovered and developed, there have been conservatives arguing against it. The same, inevitably, will true of climate control.
8.31.2006 3:27am
Lev:

I don't have a link for it, but I believe that a large number of scientists (I believe over 100) signed on to a report a couple years ago that looked at the likeliest global warrming scenarios (not the most extreme ones) and concluded that it would require raising some bridges and abandoning some coastal areas, but this would happen gradually.


That is, of course, an assumption, that because "things" have been changing "gradually" recently, they will do so in the future.
8.31.2006 3:28am
jminard (mail) (www):
Eric, nice to see someone else pick up on the Kuhn model of scientific endeavors. While many a scientist may be working on research that he has a firm belief in, I think that Kuhn fairly well lays out that concensus is a very necessary component for any type of scientific establishment to form.
8.31.2006 3:32am
guest:
James L. - I think the comparison to ID is appropriate regarding the approach that skeptics take - in particular, bouncing from argument to argument, misinterpreting existing results, making minor quibbles seem very important, and in general trying to make the issue seem so complex that people come away not knowing what to believe. Obviously, the science is different (ID is not testable in any way).
8.31.2006 3:32am
Volokh Groupie:
To Prof. Lindgren:

The report you're referring to might (you're description is a little to vague for me to be sure) be the ipcc climate report, in particular its section for policy makers: ipcc policy report

and your claim that global warming may actually create new arable land has some support behind it: article on greenland

however, considering many of the areas that would be under the sea under many global warming areas are highly developed and populated areas, its unlikely that the increase in arable land would offset any of the negative effects of global warming. the potential costs of combatting hypothetical global warming may still be too great however
8.31.2006 3:35am
zooba:
fishbane: I don't know if you're being naieve or witty, but your question "Who has done a C/B on the destroyed coastal cities, homes, businesses, and shipping lanes and compared that to the benefit of industry heating our environment?" is ridiculous.

The C/B analysis is not the costs and benefits of global warming itself but any solution to global warming. It's entirely possible that the (probable) costs of fixing global warming could outweigh the (probable) benefits of the solution. This is likely the case if there is no solution with even a moderate chance of success (i.e. we're already doomed, so spend it if you got it). Also, it may just be cheaper to build cities on moutains and floating cities than to stop polluting. WHO knows. No one has seriously talked about any response other than reducing emissions.
8.31.2006 3:38am
Volokh Groupie:
I think the comparison to ID is appropriate regarding the approach that skeptics take - in particular, bouncing from argument to argument, misinterpreting existing results, making minor quibbles seem very important, and in general trying to make the issue seem so complex that people come away not knowing what to believe. Obviously, the science is different (ID is not testable in any way).

It's still not appropriate. The scientific burden is always on the claimant of a theory. Thus it is the the theory of global warming which has to be verfied to such a substantial degree that it is accepted without any serious questions about its verity. In fact the only way to scientifically test theories is to put them under the stress of applying the theory under numerous novel and unusual circumstances. If this wasn't the case classical mechanics would still be the uncontested king.

As for minor quibbles, I can ensure you that many of the objections to particular theories of global warming (there isn't a concrete one endorsed by say a majority of scientists) are very substantial. Remember that climate data records don't exist that far into the past and much of the science done in the area is done by modelling. Modelling requires assumptions to beging and consequent feedbacks (which play an enormous role in climate modelling) are also subject to assumptions.

In fact, trying to claim that genuine scientific skepticism of a theory can just be reduced to either 'minor claims' or 'unnecessary complication' is more of a danger to the science done here and more analagous to ID and FSM than the opposite.

However, despite the past few paragraphs, there is still very good science which comes out of modelling as most scientists try to anticipate as many possible effects of assumptions as possible (which explains why programs like EBM's are still even used). This means, that while its fair to be skeptical of global warming advocates, they do have a substantial amount of evidence in favor of the theory.
8.31.2006 3:47am
guest:
Volokh groupie: Thanks for adding yet another method of evolution/warming skeptics. The idea that global warming hasn't been rigorously tested is completely absurd, yet that's exactly the type of intellectual dishonesty that skeptics promote. And then you suggest that it needs to be tested in "novel and unusual circumstances", which sets the bar so absurdly high that you would never believe global warming, gravity, evolution, or any other science result.

I don't think we want to get involved in a pissing contest about global warming here - there's more than enough on other sites that one can find anything they want. Me, I follow what the science says.
8.31.2006 4:04am
o' connuh j.:
"But the world of academic scientists have been living in a world shaped by Kuhn's book ever since."

This is false. Most working scientists have a healthy disdain for philosophers of science - Kuhn being one of them. The exception to this is Popper - who enjoys something of a positive reputation amongst scientists who are philosophically aware and even those who are not.

Peter Lipton made the point at a Royal Society Medawar Lecture sometime ago that there were more scientists interested in Popper's work than philosophers, and that the converse was true for Kuhn. Indeed, Peter Medawar himself regarded Popper as "incomparably the greatest philosopher of science ever" (similar claims may be found in Peter Munz's fascinating book _Beyond Wittgenstein's Poker_ as well as Malachi Hacohen's biography of the the early Popper in fin de siecle Vienna). I would concur.
8.31.2006 4:09am
godfodder (mail):
Groupie:
Do you know of any validation studies that have been done on these modeling programs? I know that there are these predictions that go out for years, but where is the validation of these programs? Are they nothing more than an elaborate set of known variables and educated guesses all packed into Rube Goldberg supercomputer?

The reason I ask is because I make my living in the medical field. The human body is another closed system about which much is known. Probably a great deal more (porportionally) than is known about long-term climate patterns. Nevertheless, there isn't a computer program out there that I would trust to come within a million miles of a patient. Computers are just not good at "thinking outside the box," which is what you need to be a good clinician.

I just am skeptical that computers have the ability to exercise judgment, or to operate in the complex world of multi-factorial decision making. Regarding global warming... I wonder. So many variables, that interact in ways that are not immediately obvious. Where are the validation studies?
8.31.2006 4:17am
guest:
godfodder: if you are genuinely curious, you shouldn't trust random posters at a lawyer blog, whether myself or someone else. In realclimate's FAQ, they have a posthere that describes some global climate models. There's a good chance that any question you have has already been answered on that site.
8.31.2006 4:27am
Gabriel Malor (mail):

Taking Gore at face value (this is for argument; I don't do so), suppose a 20 meter rise in the waterline over (some fairly near timeline; I don't remember what he's claiming).

This is exactly the type of sensationalism that gives rise to climate change skeptics in the first place. The UN's ICPP, a generally recognized international authority on climate change, predicts no more than a 1 meter increase in sea level through the year 2100. fishbane, you do your side a disservice.
8.31.2006 5:24am
JonBuck (mail):
Here's a rather interesting post over at Climate Audit on verifying the modeling predictions of James Hansen. Right here. Take a look at the second graph down.
8.31.2006 5:52am
A. Zarkov (mail):
If you believe that global warming is the biggest threat mankind faces then you should support accelerated construction of nuclear reactors. What other choice do we have?

What do we use instead of fossil fuel for cars and trucks? A liter of gasoline has about 34 million joules of available energy. That's a lot. Compare that to our most advanced battery, the lithium-ion (used in modern laptops), which has an energy density (by volume) between 2 and 19 million joules per liter. These batteries are very expensive, and they wear out fairly quickly. There are other approaches like hydrogen, but it too has lots of problems, like safety. The capital costs of a switch over to a new transportation fuel system will be horrendous.

As for Al Gore, what qualifications does he have to make any comments on pollution, global warming or anything else technical? Has he ever run any kind of business? Does he know any physics or mathematics? I have never heard him make what I would consider as an intelligent statement (ditto for Bush). He should shut up, I wouldn't trust him to mail a letter.
8.31.2006 6:01am
anonymous coward:
JonBuck: that second graph down appears to be rather contested.


Original post:
"The ABC report never considered whether the drastic GNP losses associated with steps that would be predicted to make a significant difference would cause more death, poverty, and destruction than the likeliest global warming scenarios."

So how much of developed economies would have to be destroyed to precipitate massive "death, poverty, and destruction?" 30, 40% of current GDP (spread over, say, the next 2 decades)? More?

As far as cost-benefit analysis, comparing expected values of different courses of action is nearly pointless in the presence of high uncertainty in valuation (certainly the case here) or near-infinities (small probability of utter catastrophe).
8.31.2006 7:07am
Libertarian theist:
He's smart. He's an effective debater. No wonder the Steve Schneiders and Al Gores of the world don't want you to hear from him. It's easier to call someone a shill and accuse him of corruption than to debate him on the merits. . . .

Sounds familiar, just like the argument made about the refusal of academic evolutionists to debate evolution skeptics made in comments to a post a few days ago. We were told it is okay for evolution professors at Columbia and academics elsewhere to refuse to debate their skeptics publicly because they would lose the debates to tricksters. Evolution is just too complicated a subject, even to debate in front of a friend audience of Ivy League students.

I hope that whatever their personal views of evolution and global warming the readers of this blog have enough intellectual integrity to be consistent in their epistemology. That is, those who think evolution is too complicated for a fair debate to be possible, should take the same view of global warming. I don't know which subject is more complicated than the other, but I am sure their levels of complexity are similar enough for purposes of this point.

Ultimately, this view says the public is just too stupid. The public just needs to trust the experts. Which experts? The ones favored by the media, apparently. Oh, so the media editors are the highest authority? Well ... This is the logical consequence of a refusal to debate certain subjects. Not only the undermining of the view of intellectual discourse on which the academy is based but also the undermining of the basis for not only democracy (otherwise known as mob rule, which most of the founding fathers hated) but also republican government, which was given to our posterity.

Thus there are bigger issues at state than evolution or global warming when people say these topics are not worthy of continued debate, that we must just accept them as true. On authority of the experts. On ... faith. Yes, faith. Just like religion. It all comes down to faith. Even the experts in these areas must begin with faith in certain things they cannot prove independently and continue in such faith.

Ultimately the question is not whether science and reason will triumph over dogma and irrationality (provided they can be shieded from public debate) but which faith and which dogma are favored by the dominant elites. At the moment, the dogmas favored by the ruling class include evolution and global warming. The favored dogmas of tomorrow have yet to be determined; hence the vigorous efforts to discredit and silence the skeptics for reasons other than reason.
8.31.2006 8:27am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Lindzen is speaking metaphorically about "criminalization", silly. It's a civil suit.

Thing is, with a civil suit, there is no double jeopardy issue, or at least not if you frame the thing differently each time.

This is intimidation by legal fees.

There is a website which I believe is funded by pro-fossil fuel people. Society for CO2 or something. They do two things, mainly. One is to find scientific papers on evidence for previous global warming (The Medieval Warm Period, The Roman Warm period,etc), or cooling (The Little Ice Age, The Dark Ages Cold Period, etc.). These are papers written by scientists who are out there doing research. The scope of the paper is generally small, as is the case with many papers. So somebody will be measuring stalagmites in South African caves and come to the conclusion that it was wetter a thousand years ago--or drier, or something. Or sea levels in New Zealand over the last forty thousand years. Or pollen counts in northern China covering the last fifty thousand years. THe accumulation of evidence continues to solidify the picture we have of the last ten thousand years as a continuation--thankfully less vigorous--of the usual climatic variation. IOW, our current situation may be regressing to the recent mean from the Little Ice Age, rather than a matter of man's efforts, or, man's efforts are puny. And, from time to time, the writers ask just how bad were things during the Medieval Warm Period, which was warmer than today. Ditto the Little Ice Age, a rotten time for Northern Europe.

The other thing they do is collect papers on plant growth in conditions of additional CO2.

It's an interesting exercise in combining an agenda and the facts.

Speaking of an agenda, I used to dismiss the assertion that green has red roots. But, from time to time, one of the greenies is caught before coffee or after wine and slips.
8.31.2006 8:33am
John C. (mail):
There are a couple of problems with the concept of human-caused global warming. One is, just exactly what is the "normal" temperature of the earth supposed to be? Another is that the total amount of the Greenhouse Effect due to human activities is 0.3%, which just about anywhere else in Science would be considered within the limits of observational error.
8.31.2006 8:37am
noahpraetorius (mail):
So are the environmentalists here for a wholesale switch to nuclear power? Or mandatory bicycles? Wind and solar account for less than 1% currently. (Not to mention the nearly impossible engineering problems associated with any switch other than to nuclear).

Give us a plausible scenario for controlling the problem, otherwise its just more hot air!

BTW there are reports that global temps have been flat since 1998. But try to find a global temp graph for the past 8 years...betcha you can't. Why is that info good or bad being suppressed? An inconvenient truth? LOL.

Don't get me wrong, I believe global warming is real. I just don't think there are politically plausible solutions at this time and I damn sure don't want the UN involved.
8.31.2006 8:38am
Libertarian theist:
...there are so many different versions of gcm's and other simulations with such a complicated matrix of variables and feedbacks, that at this point the fact that one or several models may predict a certain feedback of global warming doesn't necessarily prove a causation.

My brother used to do climate modeling at the Goddard Institute of Space Studies. His interpretation of what he saw in the climate modeling industry was that most of the time the findings were driven by research funding. Given that the models include 20 or 30 variables, it was easy enough to plausibly change one or two assumptions to get the outcome preferred by the those funding the research (which was almost always federal government proponents of global warming, who wanted to find it, if only to increase their budgets from Congress to solve the global crisis predicted by the models).

Because there is so much guesswork underlying the models anyway, why not choose assumptions that lead to better funding? That way the scientists would get expensive new computing tools they could use for real research when not running the climate simulations...
8.31.2006 8:38am
noahpraetorius (mail):
John C, your contention about the accuracy of scientific measurements in general or in the particular case of CO2 concentration is provably false. What may be false is the use of modelling of the earth's atmosphere to predict the future. Just a couple of days ago some Russian scientists predicted a "ice age" based on their model which includes variation in solar radiation. According to the current consensus they must be tools of the oil lobby I suppose.
8.31.2006 8:54am
AnandaG:
It seems to me -- and I hope those more familiar with the science will correct me if I'm wrong -- that one difference between evolution and the science underlying global warming alarmism is that much more *other* knowledge depends on evolution. If the ID crowd is right and evolution isn't true, then suddenly we are left without explanation for how a whole slew of other things work, from large chunks of modern medicine to other fields of biology. This is a big mark in favor of evolution. Is this also true of the climate science underlying global warming alarmism? What other, well-accepted fields would suddenly be undermined if the most extreme global warming models turned out not to be accurate?
8.31.2006 8:57am
PersonFromPorlock:
James Lindgren:

Is there any scientific evidence for ID? I haven't seen it. Most of the "scientific" argumentation by ID adherents merely critiques evolution; it doesn't provide support for ID.

A little OT, but we know ID exists, at least in ourselves; not just because we do genetic engineering but through classical animal breeding techniques and even through deliberately choosing our mates.

The logical problem is, given parsimony as a rule of thumb, the assumption that we're made of the same 'stuff' as the rest of the universe and the existence of ID in us, what evidence is there that ID is not the general case?
8.31.2006 9:17am
noahpraetorius (mail):
AnandaG, ID proponents for the most part are postulating an unknown mechanism to make evolution work. ID theorists other than crackpots for the most part accept the tenets of evolutionary theory. ID theory has no impact on science because it ain't science.

Climate modelling is a scientific endeavor but you have to have the right model and you will never know the "truth" of your model until it has predicted the future for thousands of years. The physics underlying the climate models would in no way be undermined if the climate models predicting extreme global warming turn out to be false.
8.31.2006 9:18am
James Stephenson (mail) (www):
Question, can any of these models start at 1000 and correctly predict the average temp till now? I have heard they can not do this. Mainly because there was a mini-Ice age in the middle ages, followed by a warming trend that hotter than now.

Could any of this be related to the Sun? Could the sun cycle hotter and cooler? I have read that Mars is also hotter today than it was 20-30 years ago. That could also be caused by the sun. The Weather is one of the most complex systems in the world. So is the human body, and we are still not sure what are the correct things to eat. Are you telling me that this complex system can be disected easily put into a computer model and accurately say it is Human activity? Humans which are nothing compared to the size of the Earth.

Color me skeptical.
8.31.2006 9:25am
DAK:
You must have missed the earlier segment about nuclear war. There was a classic bit from some 'scientist' about how the greatest nuclear threat was not from rogue states like Iran or North Korea but from, wait for it, wait for it; The United States and Russia going to war!

Yes, it seems that the US with its vast stockpiles of tens of thousands of missiles would probably be the cause of WWIII, due to an accident. A war they were quick to point out would be the end of the world as we know it.

Cliche? Sure, why not.
8.31.2006 9:40am
jtdavies (mail):
I'll believe that global warming has a human cause just as soon as a scientist explains how humans caused a new red spot on Jupiter. Since a red spot is like a hurricane, I would expect the same thing causing the red spot to be causing any increase in hurricanes.

My money is on increased activity on the sun.
8.31.2006 10:03am
Justin (mail):
DAK, it seems if the topic du jour is "end of the world", the only two countries who could legitimiately use nuclear weapons to destroy humanity are the USA and Russia. So that highly unlikely scenario you describe is still possible, whereas Iran and North Korea destroying the world is impossible, since they lack the warheads AND the delivery technology.
8.31.2006 10:06am
Random3 (mail):
I think people just fall in love with this notion that there is some sort of scientific consensus on global warming, and that it should matter one fig if there is. So who took the poll anyway? And what exactly did they ask? And who gets to vote? Surely not all you lawyers. "Scientific philosophers?" "Scientists?" But which ones? And what does mother nature think about that vote - does she decide that whatever the scientific consensus is must be right? I have these discussions with the attorneys where I work - they are very persuaded by the so-called scientific consensus - that the following are indisputable:

1. That global warming is occurring
2. That it is caused by man
3. That it is very very bad
4. That it can be stopped and reversed if only we adopt the correct policies.

Just ignoring the politics of it all, and looking at the data myself, and the predictions of various models, and knowing something about data analysis, model development, and the scientific method, I don't find the evidence cited for any of those four propositions very persuasive at all. I am on the fence about number one - we may be going through a period of warming, but there is plenty of contrary data. The other 3 propositions seem extremely dubious to me.

Fortunately, I am persuaded that none of it matters, because there is not much in our history to suggest that we will ever really do anything serious about global warming, other than adapt to it should it occur. Humans are pretty good at adapting. And in my judgement, that's about all that needs to happen.
8.31.2006 10:21am
Anderson (mail) (www):
one difference between evolution and the science underlying global warming alarmism is that much more *other* knowledge depends on evolution.

Well, yeah. Evolution is fundamental to biology. There's not much that's similarly fundamental in other sciences.

For that very reason, it's not a terribly fair comparison (which may be your point?).
8.31.2006 10:25am
Dick King:
To measure whether a green who believes global warming is apolocyptic has red roots, ask them whether nuclear power should be given a much bigger role in the US.

If they say "no", they either think that global warming is really no worse than say a chernobyl every fifty years or so, of they're simply anticorporate.

If they say "yes", they probably really believe what they say they believe and want what's best for the planet. They could be wrong, but they're not red.

-dk
8.31.2006 10:26am
JRL:

Just ignoring the politics of it all, and looking at the data myself, and the predictions of various models, and knowing something about data analysis, model development, and the scientific method, I don't find the evidence cited for any of those four propositions very persuasive at all. I am on the fence about number one - we may be going through a period of warming, but there is plenty of contrary data.


I know it's hard for me to buy it when 2 of our last six winters (in Ohio) were 2 of the 5 coldest on record.
8.31.2006 10:48am
liberty (mail) (www):
"Fortunately, I am persuaded that none of it matters" - that is, unless the Al Gore / UN's of the world get their way and run us into the ground economically and politically.

"They could be wrong, but they're not red." - good point but there is red and there is useful idiot; if the green movement is actually a watermelon, there may be many well meaning greens who are moving forward what amounts to a red agenda, and may lapse on certain issues (notice that the left is now open to both vouchers and nuclear power in many circles though they be very un-red policies).
8.31.2006 10:52am
T. O'Connor (mail):
"even if much of the orthodox view of global warming eventually turns out to be correct, the cure for global warming may be worse than the disease"

That last thought should constitute the proper public debate, and it's hardly ever mentioned by anyone.

So far, the debate at large seems to hinge on a guilty doubt whether it's wrong to direct anything at all, especially a "natural" thing, and then who has more legitimacy to not direct it. In that climate even conversation about the weather is muddled by religious and political concerns.

It's a real challenge for some to incorporate the anthropological truism that our very existence has always shaped the environment. Either way, does anyone nowadays really doubt that we can affect the global environment if we wanted to? The question then becomes ineluctable: What is the climate we ought to wish for?

Only when the sanctimonious acknowledge that NOT directing something is also a kind of directing will we be able to ponder together whether any cure could be worse than its disease.

In the meantime I'd have preferred directing the millions spent on deciding whether Pluto is a planet on R&D for carbon sequestering instead. Common sense dictates that in the end it will be better to have the tools at our disposal than not.

But making the usual supposition central in the debate, that the warming (which Lindzen himself acknowledges) is anthropogenic in nature, is not the clearest way of approaching whether warming is a problem, or even how to address it if it is. Al Gore is totally blind to that.
8.31.2006 10:52am
Bill Kaplan (mail):
There seems to me to be a danger common to scientific and nonscientific pursuits: the channeling of people interested in a subject area into a new theory. What happens then is that people trying to create a career for themselves find comfort in finding reinforcing data for the new theory rather than trying to actually test it.

Several areas within science come to mind. "String theory", which was thought to be a correct interpretation of the sub-partical world because of its "beauty" may in fact be coming to the end of the road. However, the very best and brightest minds of a generation were lured into that blind alley and have careers in something that may well be a failed theory.

"Dark matter" scientists have careers, yet as some Israeli Technicon scientists have pointed out, "dark matter" is not necessary to the universe, and some slight modifications of the Newtonian equations are all that is needed. How many PhD's were based on "dark matter" theses?

Thomas Huxley once said he feared for humanity because he had calculated the sun's mass and brightness and determined that there was only enough coal left to heat the earth for a few more years.

Please take global warming in the same light. The theory may be true, false or modifiable. Or it could be, "not even wrong."
8.31.2006 10:56am
Justin (mail):
I love how SCIENTISTS are trying to shut down debate about global warming, just because, you know, they have these "studies" and "research." Just because every time the anti-global warming forces point to a supposed flaw in the study, they're shown that the flaw was actually a predicted feature, and just because they have no real science of their own, doesn't mean they shouldn't be treated seriously. It's Wikiality, guys - it doesn't have to be true, you just have to WANT it to be true!

And it's a good thing that the antiglobalwarming people want to have a real debate, about whether we should ignore what scientists have to say because their commie scum. I mean, the scientists want to shut down that debate with facts, but let's be honest, they're just backing a hidden agenda that controls them - not like the anti-global warming guys at Tech Central Station (the fact that they're funded by BP and ExxonMobil is just a huge coincidence, as BP and ExxonMobil really have no financial incentive at stake here or anything).

Oh, and even if global warming exists and is caused by man, so what? Has anyone ever stopped to think that altering the Earth's climate which has sustained life for humans for 50,000 years over a narrow band of temperatures upon where human life could exist would be harmful? Naaaah :)
8.31.2006 11:03am
Justin (mail):
Ignore the typos and the one "their" instead of "they're" - I just woke up :(.

VC needs an edit function.
8.31.2006 11:04am
AnandaG:
The physics underlying the climate models would in no way be undermined if the climate models predicting extreme global warming turn out to be false.

No, what I meant was whether the climate models predicting extreme global warming underlie something else that everyone is very confident about, such that if those models were shown to be unreliable or flawed, that something else would then also be undermined. It *seems* to me that there is no such "something else" in the case of climate models, whereas there is a very large variety of "something else" in the case of evolution, and therefore the two are not analogous and it's disingenuous for people to claim that skeptics of the climate models and evolution skeptics are in some sense intellectually equivalent.

Well, yeah. Evolution is fundamental to biology. There's not much that's similarly fundamental in other sciences.

For that very reason, it's not a terribly fair comparison (which may be your point?).


Yes, that was my point.
8.31.2006 11:09am
Ben4343434:
So the voice of dissent is ok if it's the Iraq war, but not ok if it's global warming. That doesn't make sense - wait - it's just partisan politics... Ok now it makes sense.

On another note, I read an editorial in Car &Driver last month that at least purportedly poked a hole in the "man-made theory." From what I remember the article went something like this:

Under global warming theory, CO2 is the primary cause for global warming. CO2 is emitted from man-made sources. Therefore, man causes global warming.

But this is only true if either ALL or a SIGNIFICANT amount of the overall CO2 being emitted is man-made. The C&D article went on to argue that of the overall CO2 emitted, only a small amount of it is man-made, the rest being caused by the earth's natural vapors.

Of course, global warming proponents could chalk up the article as being merely the Voice of Detroit, and maybe rightly so. But a quick wikipedia search for 'global warming' reveals the following language:

"The increased amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases (GHGs) are the primary causes of the human-induced component of warming."

Now correct me if I'm wrong but that sentence seems misleading. Do increased levels of CO2 really CAUSE people to burn more fossil fuels? Or are CO2 emissions just the primary COMPONENTS of human-induced warming? Either way, the suspicious side of me wonders whether the above excerpt reflects a carefully constructed attempt to imply causation between human emissions and the overall rise in CO2 levels. If the word 'effect' were inserted instead of 'cause' the statement would take on a whole new meaning. I suppose after all, it is just wikipedia...
8.31.2006 11:09am
SR (mail):
BTW there are reports that global temps have been flat since 1998. But try to find a global temp graph for the past 8 years...betcha you can't. Why is that info good or bad being suppressed? An inconvenient truth? LOL.


The problem with people who are skeptical of global warming is that they say things like this and forfeit all credibility. One google search found this


Again, I don't know the provenance of this paper, but it shows that 1998 is the hottest year on record. So, of course, measuring from the hottest year, you don't find any increase. What was the second hottest year? 2005.

Obviously there is plenty of evidence of global warming, ad you don't need to posit a world-wide communist conspiracy to suppress contrary evidence to explain why the overwhelming majority of climate scientists believe that it is real. Sure, it might be an exaggeration to say that those who disagree are holocaust deniers, but there is very little question that man-made global warming is real.
8.31.2006 11:10am
SR (mail):
Sorry, the link didn't work, It is here: http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/info/warming/
8.31.2006 11:11am
strategichamlet (mail):
I've never understood how this is such a divisive issue. There are more people on the planet than ever before, and they are using more energy than ever before. I think we can all agree that that cannot continue indefinitely. So make that problem 1. Problem 2 is more unknown, that is what happens when we release large amounts of various gasses into the atmosphere? The answers are either nothing or something bad. I personally don't know which way it is nor do I have a good idea about the probabilities or how bad the bad things might be, but I do think that conducting an uncontrolled chemistry experiment on our atmosphere is a bit reckless so I would think that it would follow that some reasonable cautiousness would be in order. A poster compared the climate to the human body. I don't normally see reasonable people running around huffing the fumes off of various industrial processes, that wouldn't be very sensible.
In any case problems 1 and 2 may not have disastrous results, but they are problems that we have never encountered before and they do need to be considered and dealt with while they are manageable.
Yes, I believe nuclear power is a good idea. Burning hydrocarbons for energy is like burning $100 bills for heat. We need that stuff to make plastic which pretty much everything is now made out of.
Right on o' connuh j about Kuhn and Popper.
8.31.2006 11:23am
Finance:
I have spent a few years doing cost-benefits analysis, spreadsheets and computer models of capital projects for teaching hospitals. Small scale stuff, a few million dollars here, a few million dollars there, it adds up eventually.

In my experience, when the computer models return a conclusion that disagrees with the physicians who commissioned the study, the ask me to do it over and keep correcting it until it tells them what they want to hear. I have seen one model go through seventeen sets of 'fixes' until it helped the physicians get what they wanted.

I am confident the same thing applies to all the activists and 'scientists' who have computer models of climate systems. Computer models are just elaborate games.

People used to say 'the camera never lies'. But between digital cameras and photoshop now we know that digital photos lie constantly. It's the same with computer models.

Maybe I'll start to feel some confidence in computer models of climate after they have models that accurately predict the weather next year. Predict when there will be drought, predict where it will be too wet, that will be valuable. But the climate scientists and models all said 2006 will be a worse year for hurricanes than 2005. So far they've been prefectly wrong.

Why should I trust your forecasts for 100 years away are more accurate than your failed forecasts for 2006.
8.31.2006 11:24am
AppSocRes (mail):
The single most important factor determining the earth's climate is the radiation output of the sun. This output is currently completely unpredictable and its impact on climate is poorly understood. For example, although the Maunder minimum seems to correlate somehow with the "little ice age" of early modern history, there is disagreement about this correlation and about its significance. In fact, it's completely reasonable to argue that any recently observed warming may be a continued manifestation of a recovery from the "little ice age", caused by a resumption of temporarily decreased solar activity. Until solar phenomena can be included as an endogenous variable in climate models, these models have zero value for predicting climactic change on the earth. I don't see any way any reasonable person can disagree with the previous sentence.
8.31.2006 11:24am
MnZ (mail):
I have always found both sides on this argument to be disingenuous.

The anti-Global warming crowd is too unscientific. For example, they:
-Ignore evidence that CO2 levels are increasing.
-Question any evidence that shows temperatures are rising and cling to evidence to the contrary.
-Refuse to believe that CO2 can be a greenhouse gas (even though it well proven).

The pro-Global warming crowd is more scientific but often ingnore the critical questions. For example:
-How much of current and future global warming is due to human activities?
-How high will temperatures really go at current rates?
-What will be the costs of the increase in temperatures?
-How much of a reduction in greenhouse gases is needed to reduce global warming by X%?
-How much will that reduction in greenhouse gases cost?

Too often, both sides seem to be playing to their stereotypes:
-Anti-Global Warming crowd wants the government to always leave commerce alone (regardless of the effects).
-The pro-Global Warming crowd believes that pollution is a sin. Therefore, our goal should be zero greenhouse gases (regardless of the costs).
8.31.2006 11:24am
Cold Warrior:
Sometimes I feel like I'm alone on an island on this issue. I speak as someone who has had training at the graduate level in climatology, but who is by no means an expert (or even close to it) in the field. Rather, I consider myself an intelligent, reasonably well-informed layman interested in science and public policy.

And here's where I stand:

1. Climate change over the centuries/millenia is still quite poorly understood. Climate data over the past few hundred years are quite good, but the time frame is insufficient to make any hard and fast conclusions.

2. The weight of the evidence suggests, quite clearly, that global mean temperatures are rising.

3. This is not doubt due to various factors, some of which are created by humans, and some of which are not.

4. The weight of the evidence suggests, somewhat less clearly, that human activity is contributing to the global warming trend. The percentage of the trend attributable to humans is unknown, and is extremely difficult to determine.

5. Because global warming threatens dire consequences to life on earth, prudent measures to arrest or control the impact of human activity on global warming are called for.

6. Right now, it is difficult to determine whether the measures proposed (Kyoto) are prudent. Whether such measures are prudent is more a question for economists (measuring the costs of implementing such measures against their likely benefits in decades and centuries in the future, appropriately discounting for future benefits and the uncertainty that the warming pattern may reverse without human intervention).

I'm amazed by how few people seem to agree with these 6 propositions. I really don't think they are controversial.
8.31.2006 11:29am
Eric Rasmusen (mail) (www):
The parallel to Intelligent Design is apt. For years, Creationists claimed evolution did not occur, and scientists, ruling out arguments from authority, argued back with evidence and beat the Creationists hands down every time. Some of the Creationists, and others who weren't Creationists, then started arguing that maybe evolution did occur, but not quite the way (random mutation) that scientists said it did, and they presented evidence of flaws in the random mutation theory. That is Intelligent Design. Suddenly many scientists (not all, or perhaps most, but many) got all huffy, pulled out credentials, and told the ID proponents to shut up, on pain of law (the Dover decision) rather than trying to present counter-evidence.

Remember, the merits of the cases are not what this thread is about, but how they are argued.
8.31.2006 11:38am
M. Gross:
Regarding the Hansen graph, one should look at both the comments on Climate Audit and Deltoid. The author of the Deltoid piece (Entitled "Climate Fraudit" in due professionality) claims that the ClimateAudit graph is doctored due to using a 1958 starting temperature as the base point of the delta.

Of course, he provides no evidence that his other basepoint is correct, and Hansen apparently couldn't be bothered enough to provide sufficient documentation in his paper to allow the graph to be reproducable! If Hansen has simply done his paper with due diligence, we wouldn't even be arguing over the matter.

The AGW debate is a fascinating scientific debate, but the actions of many of it's proponents are absolutely reprehensible. A slog through the major papers supporting AGW is an exercise is poor science, shoddy mathematics, and an attempt to hide any data that might prove them wrong.

The reason they keep insisting there is "scientific consensus" is to keep people from realizing that the Emperor has no clothes.

The SEC won't let you claim oil reserves off of dynamic models akin to those used in Global Warming, yet they are supposed to represent evidence for which we must restructure our whole economy? As history matching is validation of a numerical model, they're not even good ones!
8.31.2006 11:39am
liberty (mail) (www):
MnZ,

Worse I think both sides don't pay enough attention top some of the points raised by commenters here including a) the sun and b) the lack of good evidence as the actual temperature and climate data over the past millenia and longer and c) ability to predict.

Both sides need to address these concerns carefull and make testable predictions. The anti-warming crowd ought to be treated better as they can simply refute the pro-warmers and say "we can't predict, but that's the point." However, too many treat them like anti-evolutionists although the pro-evolution crowd has not only predicted and tested many of the components of their theory but has also provided much evidence over millenial periods and has nothing like the sun which could explain away their theory.
8.31.2006 11:42am
Houston Lawyer:
Cold Warrior:

I agree with 1 through 4 and 6, but I can't agree with No. 5. Large portions of this planet are not settled by man because of extreme cold. Think of Canada, with more territory than the United States but only about 1/10th the people. The polar regions seem to be experiencing the most warming and I would think that the people there would welcome it.

Your proposition No. 5 assumes that current temperatures are ideal. That is conjecture.
8.31.2006 11:43am
Joshua (www):
I have these discussions with the attorneys where I work - they are very persuaded by the so-called scientific consensus - that the following are indisputable:

1. That global warming is occurring
2. That it is caused by man
3. That it is very very bad
4. That it can be stopped and reversed if only we adopt the correct policies.


What's bothered me about the whole debate is the very (over)emphasis on cause. It seems to me that once a consensus develops on 1, 3 and 4 above, that would be more than sufficient to warrant action to stop global warming (or, failing that, to adapt to it). 2 (that it is caused by man) is only relevant to the extent that it points to the appropriate specific actions to be taken, not that such actions are necessary in the first place.

To put it another way, if global warming really does spell the end of the world, then unless we can stop or adapt to it, we'll all still be just as dead either way. So, what difference does it make whether it's caused by nature or by man? This is the real trouble with proponents of the "orthodox" view of global warming: their primary argument is a PC appeal to environmental guilt, whereas you'd think an appeal to civilizational self-preservation would be a lot more convincing.
8.31.2006 11:48am
Charlie (Colorado) (mail):
Well, Cold Warrior, at least you've got one person who agrees --- I was going to write something very similar but you've now done it for me. The one place where I would differ, if only in degree, is that I don't think it matters whether or not the Kyoto protocols are prudent, because they in any case essentially ineffectual: they only change the predicted temperature curve by a tiny amount.
8.31.2006 11:50am
guest (mail):
I caught the end of this show too...another thing that struck me as very bizarre about it -- their discussion of nuclear holocaust was straight out of the 1980s -- the "likeliest" scenario for such being an accidental launch from the US or Russia -- not even the barest mention of North Korea, a nuclearized Iran, or Islamic terrorists. Nope, nothing to worry about there, folks!
8.31.2006 11:50am
Truth Seeker:
Climate has fluctuated for millions of years and anyone who says humans are at fault and must change behaviour according to their plans is a eco-fascist wanting power.
Priests did the same thing hundreds of years ago, telling people what to do to appease the gods and get better weather. So Gore and his ilk are just the latest in a long line of frauds trying to gain power by claiming to be able to control the weather.
8.31.2006 11:54am
Rickm:
If global warming isn't real, then why are polar bears' genitals shrinking?
8.31.2006 11:57am
liberty (mail) (www):
"If global warming isn't real, then why are polar bears' genitals shrinking?" - LOL, doesn't cold tend to do that?
8.31.2006 12:05pm
Gordo:
Any comment, Jim, on the recently reported action of California to reduce carbon dioxide emissions with a regulatory and market approach?

I didn't watch the ABC show, but I have a problem with anyone claiming that even the most radical global warming scenarios would result in extinction of humanity. Severe dimunition, maybe, but extinction? Someone's been watching "Waterworld" too many times!
8.31.2006 12:05pm
Moonage Webdream (mail) (www):
The problem I have with the entire scenario is there is a lot of conflicting "evidence" supporting Global Warming, but if someone wants those conflicts resolved, they are taunted in faux French and Al Gore claims we must be hanging out at Area 51 and still believe in a flat Earth ( he did say that ). For years the definitive proof of Global Warming was the "Hockey Stick". Several people pointed it is mathematically flawed, they were taunted and Al Gore said they needed to be ignored. The guy who designed the Hockey Stick claims his model is still correct. Only problem is the world is not heating up as rapidly as it should.

Two years ago the thinning ice shelf of Iceland was definitive proof of Global Warming and very shortly all the polar bear would die. This year, the thickening ice caps of Iceland are definitive proof of Global Warming but the shrinking testicals of polar bears is the fault of man and they will all die anyway from lack of sexual interest of the female polar bears.

Five years ago, the hurricane inactivity was the fault of man and would lead to runaway global warming because hurricanes help circulate and diffuse heat. Last year, increased hurricane activity was the fault of man and was a direct result of global warming. This year's revised hurricane schedule is the result of Global Warming as well. In 2005, they predicted a hurricane season that would not be as bad as 2004 was. In 2005 they predicted another season similar to 2005 for 2006. Both have been way wrong. The question that raises for flat Earth people like me is if they can not predict hurricanes to any great reliability six months in advance, how can they use hurricanes as evidence of anything? Hurricanes tend to follow cycles, a very noticable valley occured in the late 90's, and it's picking up since then. I have often pondered that hurricanes are affected by sun storms. I have reasons to think this. Katrina was an ordinary storm until a sudden HUGE storm on the Sun occurred. Last year was a banner year for people who love SOHO. This year has been a dud. So has the hurricane season. Coincidence? Al Gore would not allow that discussion. Period.

It goes on and on and on. CO2's a bad thing? It's not even a greenhouse gas. Some scientists you're not allowed to listen to are even pondering something called "Global Cooling". It is documented, they have tons of facts, and easily understood data that makes a compelling argument.

Understanding the Earth's climate is not an easy thing to do. If you ask an ecologist, they shrug off the affects of the universe. If you ask an astronomer, the sun rules all and what happens on Earth is simply a reaction to it. To me, it's a mix of everything and every aspect of it needs to be explored and understood as much as possible before making rash decisions. Solar cells were the answer to all that ails the ecology ten years ago, now there is speculation the increased hydrogen release could be more harmful than CO2. Global Cooling states that particles in the atmosphere ( soot if you will ), collects moisture and therefore blocks some of the sun's radiation thereby off-setting the effects of man-made global warming. THe problem that presents is IF it is correct, eliminating all air-born polutants will CAUSE runaway global warming. This COULD be the flaw in the Hockey Stick, that's man's pollution actually helps the Earth balance itself. Al Gore doesn't ponder things like that.

And lastly, Al Gore doesn't allow people like me to wonder why the Earth was so much warmer BEFORE MAN than it is now.

Al Gore has done much more harm to the Global Warming cause than good simply because of his arrogance. In the real world, when someone gets as defensive about a topic as Al has, it means they can't answer your questions.

I have a lot of questions. I believe Global Warming is real, but it is not the exclusive result of Man. I also think that IF the world starts heating up, Man will adjust his ways accordingly or die. The Earth will continue on and recycle man's genes as it sees fit. I also believe it is amazingly naive to the point of stupid for SOME people to assume that the ever changing environment of the Earth is somehow, for some reason now, the whim of Man. It's going to change as it has for millenia. We are not gods that can stop it at 72 degrees. It's not up to us to figure out how to stop it or even affect it. It's up to us to figure how to survive as it does change.

That's all.
8.31.2006 12:06pm
SeaDrive (mail):
Was Lingren's original posting about global warming, or about bad journalism by ABC? I sort of thought it was the latter. Shows how a hot button issue diverts the discussion.

I don't see that lung cancer is going to cause the end of the world. Can anyone fill me in on the chain of cause and effect?
8.31.2006 12:14pm
JohnAnnArbor:
A full-scale hurricane hit England in 1703.

Imagine if that happened today. It would be instantly blamed on climate change and George Bush.
8.31.2006 12:26pm
JimT (mail):
A thought I always bring to discussions like this: It wasn't that long ago that Ohio was under 30 meters of ice. Therefor, global warming has been going on for some time.

New thought, based on a recent trip down the Yangtze: The water level in the river is planned to rise by 30 METERS or more in the next three years. The Chinese are quietly moving a million or two people to new villages higher up the mountains in anticipation that their existing villages will be flooded. It's not a catastrophe, it's only a problem, and it is being solved.

Another thought: My understanding is that the rise in ocean levels over the next century is expected to be inches, not feet. What's the big deal?
8.31.2006 12:34pm
snark:
Will all of this warming-skepticism available online to undercut the mass media, I bet Al Gore is regretting that he invented the Internet.
8.31.2006 12:37pm
Michael B (mail):
Cold Warrior, bingo, that list reflects my own general impressions, less technically informed than your own, rather well. I would emphasize #1, and particularly so within the wider and critical context of a decided hypothesis view of scientific rigor, rather than a positivist view; would also be a bit more skeptical vis-a-vis Kyoto than you seemingly are, but am very much in line with your list.
8.31.2006 12:43pm
Michael B (mail):
If ID proponents are variously analogous to global warming deniers, are Joe Wilson and PlameGate in general variously analogous to the too shrill "enthusiasts," ideologues and agenda driven types, a la Al Gore and others?

Seems right.
8.31.2006 12:58pm
Eric Anondson (mail):
It was journalism like the History Channel was journalism, or National Geographic Channel is journalism. No, the ABC end of the world show was just bad research and presentation (but decent production values). As I mentioned, the supervolcano threat was below par compared to the stuff National Geographic has done.

Others have pointed to the nuclear war threat, that the show posited that the likeliest outcome would be from a USA/Russia nuclear MAD, not Iran or NK... yet the segment also said that as few as 20 nukes would be necessary to put the planet into a nuclear winter. Why it is more likely that USA/Russia would trade nuclear blow instead of Iran, Pakistan/India, North Korea acquiring more than 20 nukes is beyond me.

And the Global Warming threat. They seemed to imply that man-made warming would send Earth's climate spiraling to Venus-like weather. Then didn't really bother to explain how fast it would get there, or even if it could be reversed into Global Cooling. It would have been nice to see some reference to methane on the greenhouse effect, but barely a nod.
8.31.2006 12:58pm
paul (mail):
fishbane said
"I wonder how you feel about the role of the Intelligent Design types. They're clearly wrong, and extremely manipulative. Is it your position that they should be given a seat at the table, because they have an opinion? If so, what's the bright line rule - should the FSM people have a stake as well? If so, sign me on as a flying spaggeti monster devotee!"

If you are going to persuade portions of the general public that your views are correct, you will need to explain why your position is correct and your opponents are mistaken based on evidence and logic. This may be tedious when you believe that your position is obviously correct and your opponent's position is obviously wrong. Nevertheless, you will loose the public debate if your argument is nothing more than an appeal to authority (i.e. all expert agree) In fact, take a look at public opinion polls regarding evolution v. intellgent design. Very few people believe in naturalistic evolution. The vast majority believe in "theistic evolution" (which is a watered-down variant of intelligent design) or intelligent design.
8.31.2006 1:02pm
Jay (mail):
We're just back to human-centrism aren't we? If climate change is happening we MUST be the cause, after all we are the most important thing in the universe. If climate change is happening but our contribution is not the significant driver, let's say it's down to the sun, what can we do about it?

Gore isn't pedalling anti-corporatism he's peddling belief in the importance of man and the individual, and who doesn't want some of that, even if important = bad.

Let's not consider that we're irrelevant in the grand scheme of things, if you have a tantrum and hold your breath you CAN change the world ;)
8.31.2006 1:11pm
John H. Costello (mail) (www):
Just a few comments. On the 'criminalization' of dissenting views, well Al Gore has come close. He tried to get Ted Koppel to lead a witchhunt against dissenters back in the 90s, but Koppel has a characer quirk that Gore could never understand. I think it's called 'integrity.' Google for 'S. Fred Singer' and 'corrupt' for the hate sites. The story of the slander law suit is too long to retell here. When a group of 50 scientists called on the new Canadian government this past year to totally rethink its support of Kyoto, you could see that most of the people were very senior or emeretus. They do not have to worry about NSF funding, which they would lose, or attacks by Al Gore and his friends and the people who have built careers over the last fifteen or so years preaching the global warming faith.
Then there's the entire scientific fraud of the Mann et al. Hockey Stick, which is why I called it a global warming faith. According to the original hockey stick there was no Medieval Global Warming (650AD-1315AD) and no Little Ice Age (eight weeks after Easter in 1315AD to sometime in the 1850s See Brian Fagan's _The Little Ice Age_ and _The Long Summer_ for good climatic histories.) In fact, the Domesday Book records vinyards in England's Northumbria region when my ancestors invaded and kicked the shit out of Harold and his Saxons. The proxy data the Mannists use (no one had thermometers in 1000 AD so the data has to be interpolated) come from the tree rings of bristlelcone pines. Now tree ring dating is superb, each ring records a specific year, but what causes tree rings to have different widths? It's multifactorial (remember, Antartica is even more of a desert than the Sahara!) The proponents of global warming have also tested modern tree rings against recorded temperatures to prove thier theory and been astounded by the "Modern Discrepency." For some reason, perhaps because of the total evilness of George Bush (Think Time Bandits!), modern bristlecone pine tree rings do not record modern temperature data. How strange.
Will the world get warmer? Probably. Possibly. Global temperatures respond to a little item you can see up in the sky called the sun. During the Medieval Warming it was about 2 degrees centigrade warmer than now. In the Little Ice Age it was about two degrees colder (Charles II went ice skating on the Thames, and launched the Hudson's Bay Company to get furs to keep warm. The slushy 1940s movie _Forever Amber_ was historically accurate.) At earlier periods of Earth's history it was warmer still, and sometimes far, far colder. There's a Russian astronomer at Pulkovo who believes solar cycles are going to give us Little Ice Age conditions later in this century. Our politicians about 2030 may be demanding that we increase our production of green house gasses, but I have no doubt some people will blame the glaciers that take out Toronto on Global Warming even then.
8.31.2006 1:12pm
agesilaus:
There are several more rational sites to look at other than Real Climate. Real Climate tend to delete any posts that do noy conform to the party line and only presents one side of the issue. Look at

http://www.climateaudit.org

For a continuing look at the major holes and gaps in the AGW arguments. And Pielke's site presents a more technical look at the problems

http://climatesci.atmos.colostate.edu

Both of these sites allow both sides of the discussion to be heard unlike Real Climate.

One of the biggest problems with the AGW arguments is that the scientists on that side refuse to publish their raw data. How can we evaluate their claims unless we can see the data that they are using to make those claims.

They also admit to 'cherry picking' data, that is they throw out any data that does not fit their preconceived hypothesis.

Most opponents accept that temps may be rising, but the baseline is the LIA (Little Ice Age) a period of very cold temps that lasted for hundreds of years and ended around 1870 or so. Since then the earth has been getting warmer, but is just returning to the normal temps or is it abnormal? We do not know.

As for sea level, there is plenty of evidence that sea level has been rising at 1.5 to 2 mm a year since at least Roman times. That would be 3 to 4 meters (10-13 feet) increase of that time span. There are plenty of roman coastal towns and cities that are now under water because of this sea level rise. Alexandria in Egypt for one.

Don't forget that we are in an interglacial period and are recovering from the last glaciation 10 or 12 thousand years ago. If you look at long term historical temps we are in a quite cool period and have been for a long time.

This could go on fro many pages but I'll cut it off here.
8.31.2006 1:13pm
JRL:
2 more question for the science types:

1. Since water expands when it freezes and 9/10 of glaciers are below the surface, won't the ocean levels decrease if the glaciers melt?

2. If global temperatures rise, won't increased evaporation cause ocean levels to decrease?
8.31.2006 1:28pm
JRL:
Perhaps ocean levels are increasing because of a decrease in whale hunting. More and more whales are displacing water and causing the oceans to rise.

Get your harpoons!

We don't need Kyoto, we need Ahab.
8.31.2006 1:30pm
Random3 (mail):
All this back and forth is actually pretty encouraging to me. I'd figured most people have just been drinking the Al Gore purple Kool Aid on this, but it's clear that there are plenty of people that are skeptical. Its a good thing.
8.31.2006 1:39pm
lpdbw:
James Stephenson:

Question, can any of these models start at 1000 and correctly predict the average temp till now? I have heard they can not do this.


Even if they could, there are still problems. I'm an expert in this part of data analysis, and you need to be careful of a modeling flaw known as "data mining" (not to be confused with the database analysis technique with the same name.) I can guarantee a model that is 100% reliable on historical data, if you let me have enough variables. The problem then becomes that you have over-corrected the natural statistical variance by incorporating it into your model. A consequence is that to achieve that accuracy, you have factored in variables that are actually random in real terms, but can be given huge weight to correct for natural variations. You then carry that huge weight into your predictions for the future.

Perfect examples of this phenomenon can be found by searching for "mechanical investing". There are some excellent stock market prediction formulas over at the Motley Fool that demonstrate the pitfalls of data mining.

strategichamlet:

Problem 2 is more unknown, that is what happens when we release large amounts of various gasses into the atmosphere? The answers are either nothing or something bad.


Unscientific faulty dilemma. If you start out from this point of view, you have already closed your mind to the possibility (remote, I'll admit), of "something good". If you implicitly close your mind like that, what else have you missed?
8.31.2006 1:40pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
Since water expands when it freezes and 9/10 of glaciers are below the surface, won't the ocean levels decrease if the glaciers melt?


I think you are talking about icebergs rather than glaciers. Icebergs are located in the water whereas glaciers are located on land. If an iceberg melts, then the volume of water in the ocean shrinks because you're replacing frozen water with liquid water. If a glacier melts, then the volume of water in the ocean increases because you're adding new water from the runoff.
8.31.2006 1:44pm
Michael B (mail):
"Very few people believe in naturalistic evolution. The vast majority believe in "theistic evolution" (which is a watered-down variant of intelligent design) or intelligent design." Paul, summarizing our three options

A foppishly fatuous tendentiousness.

Indeed, given the issues and disciplines involved - from public policy to highly arcane and abstruse metaphysical, epistemological, philosophy of science, etc. debates - virtually stooge-like and nullish in its presentation of the options available. May as well suggest the three options are: the smart option, the dumb option and the dumb option which pretends to be the smart option.

Oh wait, that is what you're suggesting. Shocked, I'm shocked ...
8.31.2006 1:51pm
Caliban Darklock:
I think it's important to draw a distinction between believing that there is no such thing as global warming, and believing that global warming is not the looming shadow of the apocalypse. I don't for one second deny that on a planet where, all other things being equal, the population of warm-blooded primates has increased by some two billion just during my lifetime... yes, the temperature is almost certainly rising.

I do, however, deny that a rise in temperature is going to cause cataclysmic changes in the climate over short periods of time. It's simply not sensible. People keep saying "if the sea level rises forty feet, then San Francisco would be underwater!" - but it's not going to happen overnight. It will happen by inches over decades. We will have plenty of time to do small, sensible things to deal with what is essentially... if you'll pardon the pun... a true inconvenience.

We do not need to radically alter our way of life to deal with global warming. Everything is going to be fine, not because nothing is happening, but because human beings are a resourceful and industrious species with a strong survival instinct. We will deal with it as it happens, and life will go on.
8.31.2006 1:56pm
Gordo:
As a followup to Thorley, the major source of ice on the planet is in Antarctica, and almost all of it is well above current sea level.
8.31.2006 1:56pm
JohnAnnArbor:

when my ancestors invaded and kicked the shit out of Harold and his Saxons.

Now, be fair. Harold and his army had just kicked some Viking butt and had to quick-march down to Hastings. Kinda tires you out! :)


If you start out from this point of view, you have already closed your mind to the possibility (remote, I'll admit), of "something good".

Longer growing seasons in Russia and Canada?
8.31.2006 1:57pm
Nahanni:
You know the Dinosaurs were larger and more numerous then us. They destroyed whole ecosystems. They caused many species to go extinct. They put out more "greenhouse gasses" then we have. What killed them? A 6 mile wide asteroid hitting the Yucatan.

Of course you remember that 30 years ago we were being told by these same scientists (yes, the same) that we were supposed to be buried by glaciers by now. Oops, guess they were *gasp* wrong!

Do you remember all the hub bub in the 1980's from the ecojihadis about how we are destroying the rainforests and we are all going to die if we don't stop because the rainforests are "the lungs of the earth"? What happened to that? Well, a couple inconvenient truths were brought home to the ecojihadis. 1. The rainforests are not the lungs of the eart, the plankton in the oceans are. 2. It is not Halliburton and the "evil republikkkans" who are destroying the rainforests-it is the "noble savages", the indiginous people who use slash and burn farming techniques.

One would think that if Al and the Global Warming jihadis were so concerned by all this they would lead by example. By example does not mean screwing in a couple florescent lightbulbs, Al. It would mean giving up the SUV's you ride in, the private jet you fly in, 3 of your 4 houses and selling off that $20 million of Occidental Petroleum stock you own. That would be just for starters, of course.

Robert Kennedy jr. would be out there helping them build the cape cod wind turbines instead of vigorously opposing them because it will "spoil his view" from the family compound in Hyannisport.

Until I see the Al, Bobby jr. and Global Warming jihadis walk the walk instead of just talking the talk I will not take them seriously because I see all this global warming shinola for what it is. Pure politics.

Now...

The inconveneint truth is that we are not that THE PROBLEM in the greater scheme of things. Do we have an effect on the ecology? Of course we do, just like every other lifeform on the planet. Are we the main culprits in all of this? No. Do we play some part in it? Yes, but not in the way the Al Gores and the Global Warming jihadis want you to think we do.

The inconvenient truth for Al and his Global Warming jihadis is that the thing that is contributing the most to the rise in CO2 gasses are not "gas guzzling SUV's" or Halliburton. No, it is the overfishing of the oceans which is causing the collapse of the ecosystem of the oceans from the bottom of the food chain. No fish eating eating the zooplankton means there are more of them with no predators going after them. More zooplankton means they eat more phytoplankton. Less phytoplankton means less of them converting CO2 to O2. More CO2 means the temperature rises and so on and so forth and scooby-doobie-doo.

The inconvenient truth in that is that Al and his Global Warming jihadis is that they can not use overfishing and the alteration of the ecosystem of the ocean as a domestic political tool. To attempt to repair the damage done would require a strictly enforced worldwide ban on all fishing for at least a decade then strict regulation of it thereafter. It would mean that all those "meat is murder, but seafood is ok" elites would finally have to get off the fence and go full blown vegatarian. It means no more clam bakes and lobsters at the Kennedy compound. It would also mean depriving millions of the "noble savages" around the world of their main dietary staple. But worse then starving people to Al and his Global Warming jihadis is that they can not use it as a tool to bash "Chimpy McBushHalliburtonHitler" and the "gas guzzling SUV driving rethuganazis".
8.31.2006 2:07pm
JRL:
Thorley,

Icebergs, indeed. It was right before lunch and my brain was tired.
8.31.2006 2:10pm
jb (mail) (www):
All the way back to the original post, I found this article which seems to present data that backs up Linden's claim about the size of the Greenland Glacier.

Link
8.31.2006 2:24pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
I am somewhat cynical about Global Warming because in 1990 or so, I had to listen three times or so to former CO Senator Tim Wirth do with Global Cooling what Al Gore is doing today with Global Warming.

But mostly, I am somewhat ambivalent either way. On the down side, if GW is true, then I can expect slightly warmer winters here, resulting in possibly less snow and less skiing. To me, that is more of a concern that the requirement to move Manhattan. On the other hand, over the last 30 years, there seem to be fewer days that are too cold to ski, and the ski seasons are longer, given the extent of snowmaking. Not as many great powder days, but a lot more just good days skiing. And, now I can afford to go to Canada to ski most years, and they do have a lot of powder (and, maybe it isn't as cold there either anymore).

My problem with the whole thing is jumping from some questionable climatic models straight to Kyoto, without really addressing the fact that even if the predictions of global warming are true, we may ultimately be in better shape because of it, not worse shape.

For example, as alluded to above, Global Warming may open up billions of acres of farmland in Canada, and, in particular, Russia. Right now, there are tens of billions of acres of potential farmland stretching across North America and Eurasia that are too cold to farm. Moving the line of ariable land a hundred miles north would open up more than a billion acres of land for potential farming. It would also provide land for the increase in population growth that we can expect over the next 50 years.

My point there is that Global Warming, if true, has certain costs and certain benefits. The alarmists seem to only concentrate on the most speculative, most horrific, of the costs, and ignore any potential benefits. Before spending trillions of dollars addressing this decade's fad environmental danger, I would like to at least see a credible cost/benefit analysis done, that would also look at ways that the world may be better off too.

Finally, as to Kyoto, it was a stupid treaty signed by Clinton (but rejected almost unanimously by the Senate) in order to grandstand. He never made a serious effort to get the Senate to ratify it. The reason that I find it so distasteful is that the U.S., alone in the world, would have shouldered the bulk of the costs. The Europeans were let off by the timing of their conversion from coal compared to ours. And the developing world, notably China and India, were let off because they are, of course, developing. But where is the biggest growth these days in CO2 emissions? China and India, as they buy cars as fast as they can be shipped into their countries, plus, in the case at least of China, mass industrialization utilizing fairly dirty technologies - making cities that a couple of decades ago were fairly clean, dirty enough now to compete with London of the 19th Century.

Without getting the developing countries aboard, any treaty attempting to combat Global Warming is going to be like urinating into air rapidly moving towards you.
8.31.2006 2:25pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Thorley Winston:

If an iceberg melts, then the volume of water in the ocean shrinks because you're replacing frozen water with liquid water.

I don't think so. If we can model the oceans as similar to water in glass with ice cubes, then the water level in the glass will rise as the cubes melt. Look at an extreme case. All ice cubes and no water. As the cubes melt, the volume of water in the glass goes from zero to a little less than the volume of the ice cubes. How much less depends on the ratio of densities of sea water and icebergs.
8.31.2006 2:26pm
hurtline (mail):
Is there a scientific consensus as to what % of green house gasses is represented by CO2? What % of that is produced by human activity? How does that compare with the amount or % of greenhouse gases produced by animal flatulence? How well do any of these models correlate when compared to observed fact over an historical period? Do they correlate as well as solar activity does with changes in temperature? An observation I would make having lived on the Atlantic Coast for the last 35+ years, is that if the sea level rises five times as much in the next 35 years as it has in the past equivalent time period,I would still encourage my son to hold onto the family homestead as a solid investment.
8.31.2006 2:26pm
Truth Seeker:
The Earth is something like 70% oceans. Can there really be enough ice at the poles to make much difference in the sea level once it is spread over the 70%?
8.31.2006 2:28pm
skeptical of commies:
I admit, this isn't science, but I stand by it as valid reasoning:

The statist crowd wants to run my life. They keep changing their rationale for WHY they need total control, but they still want the same thing. They needed it to help the working class! Um, no, socialism screws workers. It's for the children! No, it's for the trees! It's to prevent the alien invasion!

I don't care if the Martians are landing in my front yard. I will not cede control willingly to people whom I know have always wanted to screw me. That means Al Gore, the UN, et al.

Put another way -- the floodwaters will have to damn high, with no other rescue in sight, before I get in the car with the known psycho killer. If the hurricane is a day away, I'm not accepting the ride.

Oh, and I'd give Gore a bit more credit if he weren't such a flaming hypocrite. Haven't we all heard by now about his multiple McMansions, his oil-stock wealth, etc.? And as for the Hollywood crowd, riding in Jetstreams that do more in one trip than a fleet of SUVs in a year . . . give me a break.

Bottom line: They're all still commies, and they want my stuff, and they want to run my life, while having no limits on their own preferred lifestyles. I will never trust them, or willingly give them more power.
8.31.2006 2:33pm
Former Clothing Company Executive:
If you are going to persuade portions of the general public that your views are correct, you will need to explain why your position is correct and your opponents are mistaken based on evidence and logic. This may be tedious when you believe that your position is obviously correct and your opponent's position is obviously wrong. Nevertheless, you will lose the public debate if your argument is nothing more than an appeal to authority (i.e. all expert agree). In fact, take a look at public opinion polls regarding evolution v. intelligent design. Very few people believe in naturalistic evolution. The vast majority believe in "theistic evolution" ... or intelligent design.

Amen.
8.31.2006 2:41pm
KG:
Regardless of whether global warming is caused by humans, there is so much documentation evidencing global warming and the bad effects it is having now and those that it will have later; and there is relatively very little evidence to the contrary. Being skeptical is fine, but when the issue is seemingly as critical as this, and scientific consensus is continuing to grow, why not err on the side of caution and do what we can to reduce any effects and to reduce/alternate energy consumption in general. We will need to do so anyway.

Reading the posts on this forum leads one to believe that global warming is a myth based on faulty science perpetuated by radicals. In fact, global warming is widely accepted by most experts (none of whom, I would guess, are on this site) and based on the best science and scientific evidence available to us. Can that evidence be wrong and the effects negligible? Of course, but if the opposite is true, it does not seem to me to be worth the risk.
8.31.2006 2:43pm
KG:
"...you will lose the public debate if your argument is nothing more than an appeal to authority (i.e. all expert agree). In fact, take a look at public opinion polls regarding evolution v. intelligent design. Very few people believe in naturalistic evolution. The vast majority believe in "theistic evolution" ... or intelligent design."

Scientists are not the general public.
8.31.2006 2:48pm
Ben4343434:
"Regardless of whether global warming is caused by humans,"

Well the problem with this is that California today just spent an astronomical sum of money assuming that humans are the cause. So whether humans are the cause has some far reaching ramifications. If man-made CO2 emissions make up only a negligible percentage of GHG emissions, then California just wasted a shit ton of money. Suprise!
8.31.2006 2:55pm
hurtline (mail):
KG if the motives of Al Gore and the other fear mongers(ABC) are so pure, why haven't any of them become cheerleaders for expedited licensing of new nuclear reactors? Am I correct that they don't produce CO2 and have a better safety record than the coal mining industry (miner deaths and black lung disease).
8.31.2006 3:06pm
Dick King:
I think the apocalyptic-global-warming folks such as Mr. Gore made a huge mistake to blame Katrina on global warming. They were way ahead of the science there. All the world would need is one one hurricaine season and they would be kneecapped.

If Ernesto is the best the Atlantic Ocean can come up with this year, the lines about Katrina in An Inconvenient Truth may end up on the cutting room floor for the DVD edition.

-dk
8.31.2006 3:11pm
KG:
"Well the problem with this is that California today just spent an astronomical sum of money assuming that humans are the cause. So whether humans are the cause has some far reaching ramifications. If man-made CO2 emissions make up only a negligible percentage of GHG emissions, then California just wasted a shit ton of money. Suprise!"

Oh no, saving energy and causing less green house gases by one of its largest emitters. What a waste of money. Especially when, according to a recent UC Berkeley study, "cutting California's greenhouse emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 could boost the state's economy by $74 billion and create 88,000 new jobs, according to a new University of California at Berkeley study."
8.31.2006 3:12pm
Michael Benson (mail) (www):
A. Zarkov:

If you believe that global warming is the biggest threat mankind faces then you should support accelerated construction of nuclear reactors. What other choice do we have?

I'm not sure about "biggest," but I think it's a major threat. And I do support the construction of nuclear reactors to replace our coal power. There are obviously problems with nuclear power, but they strike me as more manageable than the problems with coal power.

As for cars, I think we could easily drastically reduce our consumption of gas simply by doing a better job encouraging the purchase of gas effecient vehicles. I think people should be heavily financially penalized for buying ineffecient vehicles, that often in addition to burning more fuel tend to put more wear and tear on the roads, take up more valuable freeway space, and be more dangerous to other drivers.
8.31.2006 3:13pm
Michael B (mail):
"Scientists are not the general public." KG

Scientists wear various hats, in one capacity they are in fact a part of the general public, in another capacity they may speak as authorities or experts, in another capacity they may speak as consensus builders on committees and bureaucrats in larger organizations, they may wear other hats as well.

Put, perhaps, in its most benign form, science as an ideal is precisely that, an ideal which individuals (scientists) variously, with varying degrees of conscientiousness and ability and expertise, attempt to reify into real-world, "rubber meets the road" research and situations in general. Some succeed brilliantly and famously, some fail miserably and notoriously. Most fall somewhere between those two measures.

Scientists are not clerics. Though some, together with their benefactors, are given to sermonizing.
8.31.2006 3:19pm
KG:
"KG if the motives of Al Gore and the other fear mongers(ABC) are so pure, why haven't any of them become cheerleaders for expedited licensing of new nuclear reactors? Am I correct that they don't produce CO2 and have a better safety record than the coal mining industry (miner deaths and black lung disease)."

I'm not talking about Gore or politics. I'm saying that there are an overwhelming majority of scientists who believe that global warming is real. Are all these scientists "fear mongers"? These types of generalizations are at the core of the problem I have with many of the anti-global warming crowd because it ignores the scientific community's consensus and attempts to discredit people by calling them "fear mongers" and "ecojihadists", etc., and with the most minimal evidence.

On most issues, lay people tend to follow the scientific consensus (e.g., we're made up of cells, the earth is round, smoking causes cancer). But because this issue is political, people will find whatever means they can to dispute it. I'm not saying that we should blindly follow what others say. But for me, there is a certain point where I say to myself that I'm never going to have the expertise or experience necessary to have a meaningful opinion, so I will rely on the experts in the field.
8.31.2006 3:34pm
KG:
To Michael B.

Come on. Of course scientists may be part of the general public. But a survey of the general public about evolution and a survey of scientists about global warming or evolution v. creation is not nearly the same and will not yield the same results. My only point was that comparing scientific consensus to an opinion poll by the general public is disingenious. I'm not saying scientists are clerics or gods. But the scientific method is logical and purposeful, and though it may lead to incorrect results often, in my opinion, it is the best thing we have available.
8.31.2006 3:40pm
JerryM (mail):
Question, can any of these models start at 1000 and correctly predict the average temp till now? I have heard they can not do this. Mainly because there was a mini-Ice age in the middle ages, followed by a warming trend that hotter than now.

Answer: they can't even predict from 1990 to 2006 correctly. They don't even take into account clouds!

But this is only true if either ALL or a SIGNIFICANT amount of the overall CO2 being emitted is man-made. The C&D article went on to argue that of the overall CO2 emitted, only a small amount of it is man-made, the rest being caused by the earth's natural vapors.
Correct: Something like 3 giga tonnes are produced by man, 800 giga tonnes by the oceans.

The anti-Global warming crowd is too unscientific. For example, they:
-Ignore evidence that CO2 levels are increasing.
-Question any evidence that shows temperatures are rising and cling to evidence to the contrary.
-Refuse to believe that CO2 can be a greenhouse gas (even though it well proven).

Name on GW skeptic who ignores increasing C02 levels. Much of the increase in agricultural production is due to this 'Plant Food'.
Yes temperatures have risen from 1970 till 1998, but they also rose from 1900 - 1940 and then dropped from 1940 to 1970 as C02 continued to rise!
CO2 is plant food, greenhouse gas is a GW term.

The single most important factor determining the earth's climate is the radiation output of the sun.
Temperature anomalies correlate extremely well with sunspot activity.

Something seemingly as simple as calling Pluto a planet, a scientific consensus for hundreds of years is now wrong.
8.31.2006 3:45pm
Toby:
JRL

That's why Icebergs float. The net of floating ice melting is zero. The concern is what about the cumulative affect of Ice on land running into the sea.


To me, whther it is right or wrong, Global Warming is the ID in this question. All people who disagree are idiots or fools, if a model makes a prediction that comes true, it is furthr proof of GW, if the prediction fails it is proof of GW...

Severl have obeseved the need to separate out the watermelons from the scientists in the GW crowd. Simply ask them if it were proved that

a) GW was occurring
b) Man could do something about it
c) it was entirely natural (say the sun) -

what would they recommend.

I find many who are pro-Kyoto would advocate doing nothing if (c) is also true.
8.31.2006 3:50pm
Michael B (mail):
KG,

Well, I don't want to quibble or argue about this, tit-for-tat, but you miss my own point as taken on its own terms, which I believe was sufficiently stated in the referenced post.

And I certainly didn't denigrate the "scientific method," what I did do was distinguish the ideal or the ideality of the scientific method from the manner in which it is, as ideality, reified into real world situations.
8.31.2006 3:52pm
JRL:
<

i>"I'm saying that there are an overwhelming majority of scientists who believe that global warming is real."



How do you know this? Who is keeping track of the world's scientists and what they think? How do we know it's an overwhelming majority? How is scientist even defined?
8.31.2006 3:54pm
JohnAnnArbor:

c) it was entirely natural (say the sun) -

Solar activity has increased in the last few decades. Some think the Little Ice Age was related to lower solar activity, but of course it's hard to go back and prove that.
8.31.2006 4:11pm
agesilaus:
OK for JRL, Thorely and others. Floating ice displaces it's own weight in liquid water, not volume. This is known as Archimedes Principal. So when the ice melts it does not affect sea level.

http://www.bsharp.org/physics/stuff/icebergs.html

And there are floating glaciers, the terminal end of a lot of glaciers in Antarctica are floating in the sea. When they finally break off you get one of those large floating ice islands.
8.31.2006 4:23pm
T. O'Connor (mail):
A writer above, "o' connuh", incorrectly named T.S. Kuhn as a "philosopher" of science, while anyone who knew the man remembers that he was always at pains to describe himself as an "historian" of science.

Addressing the question of just how many climatologists accept global warming itself, I believe that all of the scientists at the renowned Lamont-Doherty Observatory do. Among these, and most significant probably, is Wallace Broecker himself, who I am happy to report is a harsh critic of Mann's. Broecker's near guru-status among his climatological colleagues suggests that everyone here ought to familiarize themselves with at least his web-accessible work.

I am in emphatic agreement with JOSHUA (posted at 10:48 AM), who asked:

"what difference does it make whether it's caused by nature or by man?"

"This is the real trouble with proponents of the 'orthodox' view of global warming: their primary argument is a PC appeal to environmental guilt, whereas you'd think an appeal to civilizational self-preservation would be a lot more convincing."

Surely that's the most reasonable approach one can take. As the self-same argument I've been offering for years I can assure Joshua that his utterance above is the first time I've heard it from anyone else.

T. O'Connor (also posted above at 9:52 AM).
8.31.2006 4:36pm
A. Zarkov (mail):
Michael Benson:

I agree with you. I said "biggest" because the leadoff for this thread was "The End of the World according ABC News."

I believe we should do everything: conservation, wind, solar, nuclear. Conservation would include encouragement of fuel-efficient vehicles. The point being most of our energy comes from fossil fuel combustion. If we want to significantly curtail combustion we need a big source, and I don't see anything other than nuclear. I don't take people very seriously who tell me that global warming is an existential threat to the planet, and don't want to go full out for nuclear. It's sobering to realize that the GDP per capita for the planet was essentially constant until the real beginning of the industrial age in 1820. That's when we started to replace muscle power with combustion. Without combustion we don't have modern life. Does anyone really want to live the way we did anytime before the 19th century? That would mean the population of the planet would have to shrink drastically.
8.31.2006 4:36pm
Dick King:

according to a recent UC Berkeley study, "cutting California's greenhouse emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 could boost the state's economy by $74 billion and create 88,000 new jobs, according to a new University of California at Berkeley study."


This sort of arguemnt has always struck me as bizairre. The purpose of the economy is to create things people want, not to consume resources [including labor]. Liberals in other contexts are fond of pointing out that creating GNP for GNP's sake is not a valid thing to do.

Does the left really think bug business is either so dumb or so bizairely ideological that they're willing to leave $74 billion on the table just to avoid cutting CO2 emission? No. This $74B created GNP is economic activity to meet the new law -- consumption and processing of resources including labor that would be otherwise available.

A better model might be that CO2 limits are creating a new need. Sure, there's money to be made fulfilling that need, but unless the need is real -- unless the benefits exceed the cost -- it's just wasted resources. People make money cleaning up after earthquakes, but would anyone create artificial earthquakes for the GNP increase? If there's no benefit worth $74 billion per year from curbing CO2 emissions, the $74 and 88K workers are a cost, not a benefit.

-dk
8.31.2006 4:57pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Something seemingly as simple as calling Pluto a planet, a scientific consensus for hundreds of years is now wrong.

First off, until last week the term "planet" was not very well defined, so whether Pluto was or was not a planet was not really the issue, but rather how we should define the term "planet", something that the astronomical community amazingly just got around to doing after all these many thousands of years. Unfortunately for Pluto, it didn't make the cut when the definition was formalized. Pluto was discovered in 1930, so it hasn't been the consensus for "hundreds of years" anyway. And astronomers have been arguing about whether or not it is really should be considered a planet since its discovery (because of its small size and its erratic orbit).

The Earth is something like 70% oceans. Can there really be enough ice at the poles to make much difference in the sea level once it is spread over the 70%?

Well yes there is. The ice caps on Greenland and Antartica, both very large landmasses (Antartica is about 1.5 times the size of the U.S. and contains 70% of the world's fresh water and 90% of the world's ice). The ice in both places can be several miles thick.
8.31.2006 5:15pm
Gordo:
Well, global warming skeptics, if you don't go for that theory, there is an even more compelling reason to reduce CO2 emissions emanating from the burning of fossil fuels.

Actually, reasons.

Saudi Arabia
Iran
Venezuela
Persian Gulf Emirates
Russia
Nigeria
(soon to be again) Iraq
8.31.2006 5:18pm
e:
What I learned from this thread:

1. Displacement is apparently not the intuitive concept I once though it to be.

2. The red-blue divide makes things a lot more confusing when talking about the red core of some greens. Blue is red after all, nyet?

3. Maybe there's hope against faith.
8.31.2006 5:21pm
James Lindgren (mail):

Eric Anondson wrote:
the segment also said that as few as 20 nukes would be necessary to put the planet into a nuclear winter.


I caught only the global warming story on ABC. Really, I thought that reputable scientists had dropped the idea of nuclear winter after their spectacularly wrong forecast in 1991. I remember in 199i seeing the prediction on Nightline that if Saddam were to light the Kuwait oil fields on fire, it would lead to nuclear winter. The eminent climate scientists were absolutely certain that the burning oil fields would lead to nuclear winter, and they ridiculed the scientists from lesser universities who disagreed.

Well, the oil fields were set on fire. And nuclear winter didn't happen, not even close to it.

I thought that the idea of nuclear winter had been so discredited that no one took it seriously anymore--but I guess not. I suppose some significant amount of nuclear winter is possible if there were thousands of bombs, but 20 seems like an awfully small number to generate such a catastrophic global climate phenomenon.
8.31.2006 5:31pm
Random3 (mail):
KG said:

Regardless of whether global warming is caused by humans, there is so much documentation evidencing global warming and the bad effects it is having now and those that it will have later; and there is relatively very little evidence to the contrary.


I submit that you are just not familiar with the great amount of evidence that does not support the theory. Like for example, the fact that nobody has produced a climate model that can replicate the historical climate data. What evidence do you cite for "bad effects" from warming that are occurring right now? I know of none.


Being skeptical is fine, but when the issue is seemingly as critical as this, and scientific consensus is continuing to grow, why not err on the side of caution and do what we can to reduce any effects and to reduce/alternate energy consumption in general. We will need to do so anyway.


Reducing wasteful energy consumption is fine - we should all do that. But the draconian reductions in energy use necessary to reduce human-caused CO2 generation would have immediate and severe negative impacts for the worldwide economy - certainly costing many humans their very lives.


Reading the posts on this forum leads one to believe that global warming is a myth based on faulty science perpetuated by radicals. In fact, global warming is widely accepted by most experts (none of whom, I would guess, are on this site) and based on the best science and scientific evidence available to us. Can that evidence be wrong and the effects negligible? Of course, but if the opposite is true, it does not seem to me to be worth the risk.


I can't imagine how you could know whether or not global warming is widely accepted by most experts. Maybe you read it on the cover of Time magazine or something. But it does not matter - mother nature does not care about your scientific consensus. History is replete with examples of the overwhelming majority of scientists widely accepting theories that turn out to be absolutely wrong. Scientific theories that stand the test of time have at least one very important characteristic that the theory of global warming does not have. Namely, they have the power to explain observed data and predict how those data will change in the future. Again, no climate model upon which global warming predictions are based can replicate the historical data. That means there is something wrong with the theory - there's no way around that.


On most issues, lay people tend to follow the scientific consensus (e.g., we're made up of cells, the earth is round, smoking causes cancer).


You are right that most lay people tend to trust the scientists and do not possess the gifts to judge whether or not most scientific theories are correct. But those theories have stood the test of time because they happen to be right (i.e., they explain the data!). Not to beat my earlier point into the ground, but well-established scientific theories (e.g., theory of gravitation, germ theory of disease, etc.) explain all of the observed data and are predictive (e.g., we can accurately launch space vehicles to orbit distant planets because we know how gravity will affect bodies in space), whereas global warming does not explain all of the observed data and is not predictive.
8.31.2006 5:32pm
Warsong (mail) (www):
One question: If we're causing Global Warming, how are we responsible for the temperature rise that is causing the Icecaps on Mars to vanish?

I've been searching for a 3 Image Animation, for hours, put together by Michael Malin of Malin Space Science Systems. Strangely, it has disappeared from the MSSS Website (lost in the labyrinthine ways of Michael's site). However, I found an article on Space.com that includes a reference to the animation: "Mars Ski Report: Snow is Hard, Dense and Disappearing, By Robert Roy Britt." It's on the second page of the article, which deals with Global warming on Mars.
8.31.2006 5:35pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
But this is only true if either ALL or a SIGNIFICANT amount of the overall CO2 being emitted is man-made.

This of course is nonsense. Like any system, what matters is the net change. The natural production of CO2 far outstrips that of manmade sources, but the important point is that natural sources roughly balance output with intake. Manmade sources are almost exclusively output, plus we are destroying the natural repositories that take CO2 out of the atmosphere (mainly through deforestation). Consequently, even though our contribution to the total amount of CO2 is relatively minor it is an excess amount that results in a net buildup of CO2 in the atmosphere.

It's like saying it does matter if you consume 2200 calories a day if you only burn 2000. After all 200 calories is less than 10% of your total intake, how could it possibly hurt. Just wait a couple years.

If this is the kind of the logic that passes for arguments against GW, no wonder people ridicule you.
8.31.2006 5:35pm
noahpraetorius (mail):
SR, I didn't say that flat global temps since 1998 would disprove global warming because I don't believe it myself and when I googled it I didn't find a graph. On the other hand some climactic models have shown relentless increases in global temps so flat temps recently COULD be an indication that at least those models are incorrect, no? Otherwise I could not care less about my credibility with you.

Notice you didn't offer a plausible plan to combat global warming which is what we need...not more hot air!
8.31.2006 5:38pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
The climate scientists were absolutely certain that the burning oil fields would lead to nuclear winter, and they ridiculed the scientists from lesser universities who disagreed.

Now you're just making shit up. No reputable scientist and certainly "the climate scientists" were "absolutely certain" that the burning oil fields would lead to nuclear winter. What a ridiculous assertion. Nuclear winter is caused by pumping huge amounts of dust, ash and particulates into the upper atmosphere. Although the oil fires were an environmental catastrophe, they didn't even approach the climatolgical significance of a major volcanic eruption. They didn't burn hot enough nor were they explosive enough to inject enough dust and ash into the upper atmosphere to have worldwide impact. Anyone who predicted a nuclear winter from them was simply a crackpot.
8.31.2006 5:46pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
If we're causing Global Warming, how are we responsible for the temperature rise that is causing the Icecaps on Mars to vanish?

This is the kind of dishonest diversion that GW skeptics use. This question has nothing to do with the issue. We know next to nothing about the climatology of Mars. We have no idea what is causing the melting of the icecaps on Mars (which by the way are solid CO2), so to bring it up as though it is the least bit relevant in the question of global warming on earth is completely ridiculous.
8.31.2006 5:52pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
JF Thomas.

The melting or vaporizing ice caps on Mars may not be completely understood. But they do make the case that such things can happen without SUVs and so maybe we should be a bit more careful about insisting it's us and only us. After all, it quite clearly isn't us doing it on Mars. What is, and is the same thing happening here? It seems reasonable to be sceptical about GW, as about many things, especially when we have evidence that the same thing can happen under much different circumstances.
8.31.2006 6:00pm
Bill Rowe (mail) (www):
Scientists can be wrong.

In the 1950s or so there were many respectable scientists that firmly believed that rocket engines would not work in the vacuum of space because there were no particles for the exhaust to push against.

It turned out that these science fellers were dead wrong: The combustion exhausts have a net effect of pushing against the front of the rocket engine, propelling the vehicle forward, or a process to similar effect if I haven't worded it correctly (I am not a scientist, mad or otherwise, myself).
8.31.2006 6:02pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
I think the apocalyptic-global-warming folks such as Mr. Gore made a huge mistake to blame Katrina on global warming. They were way ahead of the science there. All the world would need is one one hurricaine season and they would be kneecapped.

Actually, the argument is not that GW will produce more storms, but that you will tend to get more intense storms. So far we have had a quiet hurricane season. One season does not make or break an overall trend. Water temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, which after all fuel hurricanes, are still at all time highs (86-88 degrees in late August).
8.31.2006 6:02pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
especially when we have evidence that the same thing can happen under much different circumstances.

And what is it about Mars that makes it a good model as a basis of comparison for the earth. The similarities pretty much end at being in the same solar system and being of comparable size. Mars has no life, no liquid water, the atmosphere is thinner, it is further from the sun, and the icecaps aren't even made of water. They form by sublimation of Carbon Dioxide gas into solid Carbon Dioxide ice.
8.31.2006 6:11pm
Dave E:
I am a climate agnostic. A scientist by profession, I know enough to be critical and skeptical of modeling, but not enough about the subject at hand to doubt the 'consensus', though the very idea that the consensus matters strikes me as more religious than scientific. The Betrand Russel axiom- that in the absense of good reasons to doubt the experts, the laity should go along- seems to me to apply. I think the problem, if it exists, could be serious, or not.

On the other hand, with regard to the Gore contention that the science is beyond debate- to some extent, I think that the ID movement got traction because scientists would not stoop to debating evolution deniers. IF the data is so ironclad, the truth should out. I think the rhetorical high ground in the Evolution debate has been lost by science, because it looks, to the uninformed, that the scientists are unwilling to answer the claims of skeptics. While those in the know may agree amongst themselves that the great unwashed is too stupid to raise serious objections, part of the role of anyone on the public dole as a researcher is outreach and education. As long as the public purse is, through elections, in the hands of the public, we need to mind our manners, if only out of a healthy self-preservation instinct.

I would want to know- what do those convinced of AGW think should be done by the US? Voting Democrat and driving a hybrid enough? Dropping the temperature over the next 100 years by a fraction of a degree a la Kyoto? Or must we dismantle capitalism and live in yurts? I'm not kidding- what would you have us do? It is easy enough to burn the heretics, but that will just add CO2 to the atmosphere...what should be done instead to solve the problem, should it exist? Recall that the biggest emitters of CO2 are not eco-dictatorships, so draconian measures may be countered by voters.
8.31.2006 6:15pm
Michael B (mail):
"... so to bring it [Mars's melting ice caps] up as though it is the least bit relevant in the question of global warming on earth is completely ridiculous." J. F. Thomas

It's not the least bit relevant to global warming on earth per se. But it is, at least potentially (we simply don't know), relevant to the politics and attendant questions which surround that phenomenon. Too it is, again potentially, relevant to the set of hypotheses which inform those questions.

It's called science in its tentative/hypothesis conceptualization, as distinguished from a more assertive/positivist conceptualization. Within the former conception a humbleness vis-a-vis truth is maintained; not so within the latter conception.
8.31.2006 6:19pm
Michael B (mail):
Though Jim Chen disagrees.
8.31.2006 6:21pm
Darrell (mail):
Many scientists like to think that consensus, all by itself, is sufficient proof for their latest theories. As a scientist, I know that many modern scientific theories are probably wrong. Theories remain in the "theory" category because they lack definitive proof and consensus does little to change that fact. History is full of examples where popular, majority opinions were simply dead wrong. Global climate change has been happening as long as this planet has been in existence and, although it may be true that the current "consensus" theory is that man is responsible for a modern "bad" climate trend, 1) we don't really know if this trend is all bad, 2) we don't know if man is actually a significant contributor to these changes, and 3) we don't know if we can or should do anything about these changes except adapt to them. As another example, the consensus theory of macro evolution is supported by the biological sciences and evidence in the fossil record, but consensus still doesn't amount to proof. We still haven't observed one species morphing into another one, the fossil record has far too many glaring omissions, and the laws of probability & entropy argue against the current theory. The truth is that even things like the makeup and structure of the atom remain in the realm of theory, because we can't explain all subatomic phenomena with a single unified model. The inconvenient truth for science is that we know far less than scientists are willing to admit and politics/money dominate scientific consensus far more than the hard facts do. Science is a fun and interesting subject. But, we should be wary when we see scientists taking their intellects too seriously and allowing the scientific agenda to be taken over by political hacks like Al Gore.
8.31.2006 6:27pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
I would want to know- what do those convinced of AGW think should be done by the US? Voting Democrat and driving a hybrid enough?

All I'm asking for is to err on the side of caution. Let's pretend that Al Gore's worst predicitions are going to come true. But let's not panic. Let's just have a John Kennedy race to the moon moment. Set a national goal. Acknowledge that the burning of fossil fuels have warped our foreign policy, made us cozy up to some really nasty people, and may be making our planet unlivable, so we are going to set a national goal that in 10 years we will be completely self-sufficient in energy production and 10 years after that we will eliminate all fossil fuels.

It will be hard and take lifestyle changes and sacrfices. It will mean more public transportation, no more Chevy Suburbans or McMansions, but the rewards will be cleaner air, more national security and fewer foreign adventures in the desert. The technologies we develop will also revive our standing as the world's leader in innovation and industry, a position we may already have lost.

We should have started on this five years ago after September 11, but George Bush lacked the vision and the foresight to mobilize the country when he had the chance.
8.31.2006 6:31pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
As a scientist, I know that many modern scientific theories are probably wrong. Theories remain in the "theory" category because they lack definitive proof and consensus does little to change that fact.

You are either not a scientist or a really bad one since you are confusing the lay definition of "theory" with a scientific theory.
8.31.2006 6:34pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
although it may be true that the current "consensus" theory is that man is responsible for a modern "bad" climate trend

And it is incorrect to say that global warming theory says that global warming is bad. Scientific theories don't make value judgements, they just attempt to explain how and why things are (e.g., gravity is a bad thing if you fall off a cliff, but pretty beneficial overall). GW theory says that the trend of warmer temperatures is caused by manmade emissions of greenhouse gases, mainly CO2, nothing more, nothing less. The consequences of that rise may have dire consequences for the environment and man, but again that is not a predictive, not a value judgement.
8.31.2006 6:42pm
ray_g:
"the draconian reductions in energy use necessary to reduce human-caused CO2 generation would have immediate and severe negative impacts for the worldwide economy - certainly costing many humans their very lives."

And would require a world wide totalitarian government to enforce. That's why the environmentalists are sometimes referred to as "watermelons".
8.31.2006 6:42pm
Jordan (mail):
It will be hard and take lifestyle changes and sacrfices. It will mean more public transportation, no more Chevy Suburbans or McMansions,...


Ah, so we must burn the Bill of Rights along with the heretics.
8.31.2006 6:53pm
JohnAnnArbor:

Sagan famously predicted that smoky oil fires in Kuwait (set by Saddam Hussein's army) would cause an ecological disaster of black clouds. Retired atmospheric physicist Fred Singer dismissed Sagan's prediction as nonsense, predicting that the smoke would dissipate in a matter of days. In his book The Demon-Haunted World, Sagan gave a list of errors he had made (including his predictions about the effects of the Kuwaiti oil fires) as an example of how science is tentative.

Carl Sagan
8.31.2006 7:00pm
BobDoyle (mail):
Great post Jim -- it's drawing lots of interest and some pretty good commentary. My perspective -- GW, especially the part about our "role" in causing it, if it's actually even happening (remember, we're between ice ages here and 90+% or some such percent of prior world history appears to have had significantly higher temperatures than we have today) is about 99% politics and green-religion and about 1% real science.
8.31.2006 7:02pm
JohnAnnArbor:

As a scientist, I know that many modern scientific theories are probably wrong. Theories remain in the "theory" category because they lack definitive proof and consensus does little to change that fact.

You are either not a scientist or a really bad one since you are confusing the lay definition of "theory" with a scientific theory.

A better way to put it: People always think that the scientific consensus of the present is the "right" one. 100 years ago, that meant: no continental drift (the idea was ridiculed) and that the Milky Way was the only galaxy in the universe (the "spiral nebulae" were clearly nearby gas clouds). They could not have guessed the changes that altered our understanding of how the universe works.

In the same way, a century from now, some of what we take for granted as scientific concepts will have been supplanted by better explanations. Some of those will be VERY different. One place to guess where such differences are likely to crop up: sciences where the modeling relies on many thousands of variables and routinely fails to predict present conditions given known past data. Such as climate modeling.
8.31.2006 7:10pm
JohnAnnArbor:
As for Mars, the obvious: both Earth and Mars get their energy from the Sun. Increased solar activity would affect both. And increased solar activity has been seen for decades.
8.31.2006 7:13pm
Dave E:
J.F. Thomas-

I agree with you, that models don't make value judgements, but they are being used to strongarm people into coming to the same conclusions, and what looks (admittedly from the outside) like legitimate dissent or skepticism is being tarred with a broad brush- I mean, to claim that there is no debate elides a lot of true controversy even amongst the converted. Perhaps the bulk of climatologists agree AGW is a fact. That there are considerable differences between models puts the 'deniers' (and I hate that term; it is always used perjoratively) at the end of a broad continuum of opinions, from 'hmm, this looks like a problem' to 'The day after Tomorrow'.

One other thing- were I 100% convinced that global warming were all my fault personally, for driving my Saturn instead of riding my bike, I would still recognize a naked play for power, which is the reason some of the politicians on the pro-AGW will not brook dissent.

On that note- "George Bush is Bad" is not a plan to curb AGW. Nor, frankly, are 'lifestyle changes' or not building mansions (even non-GMO, soy-based yurt-mansions?) Assholiness aside, the details matter. What lifestyle changes, and who says? Who will you let decide? On what basis? The 'average' AGW impact model? What will you have to outlaw? Or what will you have to incentivize? I'm willing, even in an agnostic state, to do any of the so-called 'zero regret' things, assuming they are as advertized.

Who wants to be the first to say out loud that being green enough to combat AGW is incompatible with democracy? Short of that, you have to provide details, and sell them to people who vote.
8.31.2006 7:20pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
Bill Rowe, I believe the only scientist of any repute who said rockets wouldn't work in a vacuum was the kooky Fritz Zwicky. It was an offhand remark that he hadn't thought through and, very likely, in reflection he might have wished he could have taken the words back. But he was not the kind of man who took words back.

++++

guest (and many others) like to say that warming has been conclusively determined. Maybe. I think not. I could be wrong.

However, one thing there can be no question of is that anyone who claims that hurricanes have gotten more numerous or more powerful (or less, for that matter) is lying.

I have interviewed the principal hurricane scientists, in contexts apart from the dispute about warming, and they are all agreed that nobody has any idea how many storms there were before satellite surveys.

This is especially true for the eastern tropical Pacific, a vast and stormy area that is almost unvisited by humans.

I did not see the ABC show, but if it used hurricane frequency/strength data as part of its evidence, then it was dishonest (or possibly just drooling idiot ignorant, always a possibility with TV).
8.31.2006 7:35pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
JF. I know about the Martian ice caps. The point is, I say with determined yet fatiged persistence, that they are gas or solid based on temperature.

Maybe I wasn't clear enough. The ice caps are pretty obvious proxies for temperature.

Temperature.

So the temperature TEMPERATURE temperature on Mars is changing. And it's changing upwards.

Wow. Getting this basic to get around deliberate obtuseness is a chore. Okay. Whoof. [Wipes brow.]

Now. The TEMPERATURE is rising on Mars sans SUVs. Is it possible that the cause that the temperature on Mars is rising sans SUVs is affecting Earth?

If so, what does that mean to the concerns about anthropogenic GW, if it exists?
8.31.2006 7:42pm
Michael B (mail):
"As for Mars, the obvious: both Earth and Mars get their energy from the Sun. Increased solar activity would affect both. And increased solar activity has been seen for decades." JohnAnnArbor

Oh yea, the obvious. Scratch my earlier statement of truth hypothesis (that Mars's receding icecaps are not the least bit relevant to global warming on Earth).
8.31.2006 7:56pm
JohnAnnArbor:

However, one thing there can be no question of is that anyone who claims that hurricanes have gotten more numerous or more powerful (or less, for that matter) is lying.

Fragmentary historical records do give clues to violent hurricane seasons past.....
8.31.2006 8:04pm
Dick King:

The melting or vaporizing ice caps on Mars may not be completely understood. But they do make the case that such things can happen without SUVs and so maybe we should be a bit more careful about insisting it's us and only us. After all, it quite clearly isn't us doing it on Mars. What is, and is the same thing happening here? It seems reasonable to be sceptical about GW, as about many things, especially when we have evidence that the same thing can happen under much different circumstances.


Nonsense.

The US is shamelessly running a fleet of off-road automobiles all over the Red Planet and refuses to stop.

-dk
8.31.2006 8:16pm
agesilaus:
"All I'm asking for is to err on the side of caution. Let's pretend that Al Gore's worst predicitions are going to come true. But let's not panic. Let's just have a John Kennedy race to the moon moment. Set a national goal. Acknowledge that the burning of fossil fuels have warped our foreign policy, made us cozy up to some really nasty people, and may be making our planet unlivable, so we are going to set a national goal that in 10 years we will be completely self-sufficient in energy production and 10 years after that we will eliminate all fossil fuels."

Fine, but the only viable replacement is nuclear power. And the the environmentalists would rather roast than admit that. And a 20 year time frame to switch all transportation to hydrogen is pie-in-the-sky thinking.
8.31.2006 8:23pm
Warsong (mail) (www):
Dave E,

My point exactly in making reference to the Global warming on Mars. It's an empirical fact that affects the rest of the Solar System as well, and, as such must be factored into any theories purporting to point fingers wherever. I'm very uncomfortable with flat statements, and, pontificating by those who would demand much from me (aka - "the People"), while giving up nothing themselves. Especially when there are millions of Dollars in play that are snapped up by those who support Global Warming, while they attempt to denigrate anyone who disagrees.

The truth is, this warming was predicted years ago, when all they were going on was the history of Solar Maximum/Minimum Cycles. The cycle we're in now is one that occurs over a time scale of millions of years, compounded by coinciding with shorter scale cycles all coming together to create a super-cycle. That it coincides with an increase in CO2 production due to increased human activity is irrelevant, we won't be able to change anything controlled by natural cycles. In fact, there is sufficient evidence out there to say that this event can/will be the precursor to an Ice Age that is overdue when considering the natural rhythm, the historical cycles of the Solar System.
8.31.2006 8:29pm
exfizz:
J. F. Thomas: All I'm asking for is to err on the side of caution. Let's pretend that Al Gore's worst predictions are going to come true. But let's not panic. Let's just have a John Kennedy race to the moon moment. Set a national goal.

What if the goals contradict? What if to satisfy the goal of weaning ourselves off foreign oil we burn more domestic coal, which harms the goal of reducing CO2 emission? Which goal takes precedence? Or what if two goals have vastly different levels of cost and uncertainty, e.g. energy independence and avoiding GW?

"Err on the side of caution" is a pretty blunt scalpel for making such decisions. It should be replaced at the very least with a probability-weighted cost-benefit analysis, with the uncertain items clearly marked as such, and updated &rebalanced as new data come in.

...Why, yes, that is something the federal govt is notably bad at doing. I can easily imagine new data causing an update that argues, "Immediately cancel this $2B/yr program." Think that argument would fly? That doesn't pass the Ted Stevens Test.

The technologies we develop will also revive our standing as the world's leader in innovation and industry, a position we may already have lost.

If it's an innovation that no one wants or needs, I'm not sure that being perceived as the world leader is a good thing...
8.31.2006 8:55pm
TKBC (mail):
Yes, the earth is warming, because that is what the earth does when it is not cooling. There is no such thing as climatalogical equilibrium. No amount of green evanglism, much less switching to hybrids, will bring "balance to the force". As in the past, over the next tens, hundreds, thousands and millions of years, the earth will warm and cool. Glaciers will advance and retreat, oceans will rise and recede, tectonic processes will continue to alter the earth's crust, mountains will rise and erode - and the climate, both globally and locally, will change in response.
8.31.2006 8:55pm
Riskable (mail) (www):
I don't have time to read all the comments today, but I read most of them and I have the following to say:

I keep reading about "cost/benefit analysis" regarding global warming... Can someone PLEASE give me a real cost associated with solving it that has a net loss of wealth/jobs for Americans? Last time I checked, challenges breed opportunity and opportunity breeds economies.

There's money to be made in solving global warming. Probably more than there is in all the petroleum in the world. Quite simply, oil, coal, and natural gas wells are the largest contributors to CO2 in the atmosphere. To make use of these forms of energy we must move them around quite a bit. Oil in particular must be imported from foreign countries to feed our addiction. If we convert this nation to renewables which generate energy right here on American soil, won't that save us all money? Won't that improve the efficiency of the energy supply? Won't that create more jobs here in the U.S.? Won't that hurt many countries that support terrorist regimes?

-Riskable
http://riskable.com
"I have a license to kill -9"
8.31.2006 9:03pm
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Dick King, you silly goose. Those are solar-electric cars.

Maybe that's the problem. Hey.... No more solar power. It causes global warming.

Another issue. When we use fossil fuels, we are using stored solar energy. Stored over millions of years, released over a century or so. Current incoming solar energy is fixed, more or less. Some up, some down. Ditto tectonics and decay of radioactive elements. Not quite an equilibrium. But when you add into a somewhat stable system the release of previously stored energy, which degrades to heat, won't we have warming even not counting greenhouse gases.
8.31.2006 9:08pm
Warsong (mail) (www):
TKBC,

The "Wheel of Time" turns...
8.31.2006 9:16pm
Riskable (mail) (www):
Richard Aubrey, I have some facts for you. Do with them what you will:

* The ice caps on mars are not water. They are mostly made up of carbon dioxide (dry ice). That's not to say that there is no water to be found there, just that the white snow-like substance visible on the surface of mars is CO2.
* We have only have data regarding Mars' ice cap cycle dating back a very short time. In this short time of observation, we know that the *ENTIRE* ice cap melts away and disappears once a year. This melting increases the atmospheric pressure of mars by 25% (which is neat). Then it re-freezes and 25% of the atmosphere is again trapped in CO2 ice.
* Melting of the ice caps on Mars is not an indicator of increased solar activity.
* Increased solar activity does not necessarily equate to a rise or fall in temperatures on earth.
* The solar activity you speak of is part of the natural 8-year cycle of the Sun. It has been going on for billions of years. There is nothing unusual or strange about it and it is actually calculated into most global warming models.

If you would like to know more scientific facts about mars, see:

http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2003/07aug_southpole.htm

Generally speaking, there's also lots of great factual and unbiased climate data here:

http://realclimate.org

-Riskable
http://riskable.com
"I have a license to kill -9"
8.31.2006 9:19pm
Dan Hamilton:
20 or so Nukes cause Nuc Winter. Global Cooling!

Global Cooling + Global Warming = Steady Temps.

That is the answer!

Set off enough Nukes to knock out the Global Warming. Cheap. Effective. The same people say that they are both TRUE. How can they argue against it?

The problem is solved!!!!!
8.31.2006 9:24pm
Warsong (mail) (www):
Riskable,


* We have only have data regarding Mars' ice cap cycle dating back a very short time. In this short time of observation, we know that the *ENTIRE* ice cap melts away and disappears once a year. This melting increases the atmospheric pressure of mars by 25% (which is neat). Then it re-freezes and 25% of the atmosphere is again trapped in CO2 ice."


I agree with most of your points, however, speaking strictly as one who has viewed and worked with a significant number (thousands) of the images in the MOC Narrow Angle Image Gallery (I'm one of the "Anomaly Hunters"), the Caps on Mars seldom completly disappear. At least they have not in the length of time that MOC has imaged Mars (since 1996), nor, Mariner or Viking I and II (Pathfinder took no Global Images).

This is verified by the images that Michael Malin used in the Animation he presented to show the receding Ice Cap on the Southpole. He references those images in the article linked in my original post.

I also agree that there is a lot of great data in the file you link, but, in some cases I would not necessarily call it unbiased. i.e. - we have found hundreds of images, from Pole to Pole, that contain Water Streaks, on both sides of the Equator, and, in every Map Section between 30N and 30S. Only a 'bias' for a "dead, blasted Planet" could explain their denial of the amount of free Water on Mars, not just locked up in Ice.
8.31.2006 9:47pm
Bob Van Burkleo (mail):
The danger I see that never seems to be mentioned is the top 5 cm of ocean where most of the world's breathable oxygen is produced. If it can not adapt quickly enough it might fry and a declining oxygen level will cause one of your planets most complete disasters affectionately called a 'Great Die Off'.

I think we know the planet is getting warmer and that we are helping that along at the very least. This interglacial period is longer than previous ones and I read one report where it predicted it would be 5,000 years longer (just our luck - a nice ice age would go good right now).

So we need to fix it and if there is a strong 'natural' component everything we do to reduce the human contribution it might not be enough.

Fix it with technology, federalize the new in expensive printing technology solar cells and get every building with a southern exposure generating more power than it uses. Use the new nanotech battery and capacitor technology to produce hybrid cars with 500 mile ranges on electric alone and a hermetically sealed 'whatever' fuel tank for those rare occasions you can't stop and take the 15 minutes it takes to recharge these beauties. And once we have them, require them in a very short time span no matter how much they want to keep that old hummer.

Yes 'green' where you can but consider other options. Some say a few trillion dollars worth of satellites could reflect enough sunlight to reverse the trend - wouldn't the really practical solution be to stop one or two needless wars being primarily used to funnel money into corporate interests and fund something that actually might help the planet and the people living in this country in particular?

This is a problem we can solve by throwing money at it, wisely. We just need someone to start doing it.
8.31.2006 10:16pm
Harry Eagar (mail):
John, the fragmentary data tell us nothing about frequency of storms. Nor does damage tell us anything about strength.

When the first satellite went up over the Pacific, the weather prophets were astounded to learn that there were about twice as many hurricane-force storms as they had known about. Even in the more-traveled Atlantic, there were storms that rose and decayed without being noticed before satellite observation.

I repeat, anybody who says anything about secular changes in frequency/strength of storms going back more than about three decades is a liar, and you can ignore everything else he says.
8.31.2006 10:26pm
Scott Wood (mail):
-->I keep reading about "cost/benefit analysis" regarding global warming... Can someone PLEASE give me a real cost associated with solving it that has a net loss of wealth/jobs for Americans? Last time I checked, challenges breed opportunity and opportunity breeds economies. <--

The cost is the forgone opportunity of using the fossil fuels. Presumably the use of fossil fuels creates utility for the user. If he is in some way legally prevented from using fossil fuels, he has to resort to next best alternatives, which, as the term indicates, are not as valuable as the best alternatives.

If someone invented something that made the use of fossil fuels a next best alternative instead of a best alternative, there would be no need for any government action.

On another topic, I find it surprising that only one person amidst 150 or so commenters noted that for the most part the pro-global warming scientists have the same incentives to shade their research as the demonized tobacco company scientists. How happy do you think the EPA, the funding of which is heavily dependent upon the existence of environmental problems, would be with a staff researcher who discovered that, oops, global warming is no big deal, you can go ahead an cut our budget by 25%?

I believe in anthropogenic global warming because I am not in a scholarly position to believe otherwise. But that doesn't mean I don't think it's possible that 50 years from now people will look back on current scientific thinking as a high-tech cargo cult.
8.31.2006 10:37pm
o' connuh j.:
"A writer above, "o' connuh", incorrectly named T.S. Kuhn as a "philosopher" of science, while anyone who knew the man remembers that he was always at pains to describe himself as an "historian" of science."

Silly riposte and one that shows a poor grasp of Kuhn's work and his rhetoric. However he describes himself, Kuhn is not merely a historian of science. He is advancing a view and theory of scientific progression that undergirds his history of science. By making meta-historical claims, he is no longer 'merely' doing history - and simply 'reporting the historical facts, ma'am' - but advancing a philosophy of science to explain why the historical facts of science are as they are. Indeed, that is the entire reason for his significance in the philosophy of science. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy regards him rightly as a philosopher of science, notwithstanding whatever self-serving descriptors he appends to himself. But why quibble over labels?
8.31.2006 10:43pm
Truth Seeker:
J F Thomas said:

It will be hard and take lifestyle changes and sacrfices. It will mean more public transportation, no more Chevy Suburbans or McMansions, but the rewards will be cleaner air, more national security and fewer foreign adventures in the desert.

So we impose a fascist state on a formerly free country just in case Al Gore's harebrained theories MIGHT be right????

Sorry, I'd rather live free and know I might die in a globally warm world than create a slave state eco fantasyland because it migth save me from what might happen. You're talking about giving up tangible freedoms for a fantasy future that might avoid another fantasy future.
Kind of like communism: give up all your property and we will have utopia. HA! Fooled 'em once! Not twice!
8.31.2006 11:14pm
JohnAnnArbor:
Harry, I wasn't claiming anything other than what I said: that fragmentary historical evidence says that big, bad hurricanes have happened before, even during the Little Ice Age (1780).
8.31.2006 11:16pm
therut:
Since Environmentalism has become a fundamentalist belief for some much like a Religion I see no reason they should not have an End Time Apocolypse also.
8.31.2006 11:23pm
plunge (mail):
"ABC trotted out various group studies about the impending environmental disaster, as if ABC was unaware of just how inaccurate group environmental predictions had been in the 1970s and 1980s."

This has always seemed a somewhat dishonest point. In the 70s and 80s, most predictive capacity was VERY limited with numerous known flaws, and if you actually read the real journals of the time, they say so. This isn't to say that there are no flaws in the current predictive ability, but it's clearly leaps and bounds better today in such a way that saying "well, you were wrong two decades ago!" just isn't a fair criticism. It's like saying that "hey you were wrong about the existence of cells before the invention of the microscope, so why should I take your microscope data to be valid: it could be wrong too! Nobody knows anything. Pah!"
9.1.2006 12:10am
Richard Aubrey (mail):
Riskable. If I get your implication, the CO2 is gas or solid independent of temperature. Is that right?

If it's right, what does cause the change?

If that's not right,why are you bothering? Of course the ice caps melt once each year. And it has to do with what? Insolation? Or something else? What something else?

If the ice caps, when they return from gas, are smaller, than the year(s) before, they are said to be shrinking. Just as, here on Earth, we say a glacier, for example, is shrinking based on its winter extent from year to year, not its winter-to-summer extent.

So. The ice caps' extent is changing based on changes in solar energy. Well, slap your grandma. That's what I think I said. Or it could be SUVs we haven't noticed. I vote for solar radiation. And there are natural changes in solar radiation which are not alarming...? Where did I show any alarm? Thanks for telling me not to be alarmed. I was alarmed once, in 1979, I think. But it wasn't over climate. Something else.
But I feel better for the reassurance.
Here's a hypothesis: If the sun's energy increases so as to effect changes on Mars, possibly some of that energy increase HITS EARTH!! My guess is it's going out in all directions. How's that for a stretch? And if it hits earth, it might have an effect.
Which is, I submit, perfectly reasonable. And ought to be considered before insisting that anthropogenic causes are doing anything, much less anything serious.
9.1.2006 12:27am
Lev:
So, was the ABC show actually presenting scientific data in a scientific manner, or was it Hyped Media Revealed TRVTH presented by True Believers?
9.1.2006 1:29am
dcf:
I'm with P.J. on this one:


Ecology is the science of everything. Nobody knows everything. Nobody even knows everything about any one thing. And most of us don't know much. Say it's ten-thirty on a Saturday night. Where are your teenage children? I didn't ask where they said they were going. Where are they really? What are they doing? Who are they with? Have you met the other kids' families? And what is tonight's pot smoking, wine-cooler drinking, and sex in the backseats of cars going to mean in a hundred years? Now extend these questions to the entire solar system.

-- P.J. O'Rourke, All the Trouble in the World: The Lighter Side of Famine, Pestilence, Destruction, and Death. [1994]
9.1.2006 1:40am
exfizz:
Richard Aubrey: When we use fossil fuels, we are using stored solar energy. …… When you add … the release of previously stored energy, which degrades to heat, won't we have warming even not counting greenhouse gases.

For rough comparison,

World electricity production: 5.95e19 J/yr = 1.89e12 W on average
Solar energy striking Earth: 1.75e17 W = 100,000 times greater

I am not a climatologist, but I suspect the heat content of the energy we produce is insignificant compared to its sun-trapping properties.
9.1.2006 1:41am