Climate Change
Posted: 19 February 2008 10:30 PM   [ Ignore ]
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I am not a climatologist or a meteoroligist or a physicist, but I have created mathematical models and I know that by fiddling with free parameters I can make predictions that explain existing data.  Does this mean that I can predict the future?  I need your help in understanding why changes in a trace gas will create a future of a flooded New York (which will probably increase the global utility of mankind) and will force all of us to live in Northern Canada and Antartica.

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Posted: 20 February 2008 06:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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HL Mencken - 19 February 2008 10:30 PM

Does this mean that I can predict the future?

Let’s try this: what is the weather going to be like in New York one month from now? Tell us now, and we’ll tell you on March 20 if you can predict the future. Go!

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Posted: 20 February 2008 07:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Excellent topic, I just got involved in this issue at work.  My co-worker does not believe in Global Climate Change.  I collected a series of links from Wikipedia detailing what we know on the topic, but I know this evidence will go unread due to the volume of content.  I am looking for short intuitive information that explains Global Climate Change.  Are there any efficient memes on the topic that are hard to argue against or at least get people interested in the details?

If you know of examples that target specific personality types: my coworker is the kind of person that will become an outspoken advocate for whatever the Catholic Church declares as their position.

Edit:  I should ad that, according to my co-worker, Al Gore has been branded as a liar and that he is speaking out because his lies make him money and that there is a huge money machine in favor of global warming conspiracy.

I think “debunking the anti-climate change position” would be a good topic for POI - maybe Chris Mooney could do this?

[ Edited: 20 February 2008 07:38 AM by retrospy ]
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Posted: 20 February 2008 08:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Here is my in progress email.  Any further contributions would be appreciated

Global Warming & Global Climate Change have become popular topics of division in recent politics.  My hope is to offer information on what we know and to overlook and/or look over our assumptions in order to build bridges and create solutions that meet everyone’s interests.

“In the last decade, climatologists have reached a consensus that a doubling of CO2 would warm the Earth 1.5-4.5°C (3-8°F), which could leave our planet warmer than it has ever been during the last two million years (National Academy of Sciences, 1979). Moreover, humanity is increasing the concentrations of other gases whose combined greenhouse effect could be as great as that due to CO2 alone, including methane, chlorofluorocarbons, nitrous oxide, and sulfur dioxide (Ramanathan et al., 1985). Even with the recent agreement to curtail the use of CFCs, global temperatures could rise as much as 5°C (9°F) in the next century (Smith and Tirpak, 1988). Global warming would alter precipitation patterns, change the frequency of droughts and severe storms, and raise the level of the oceans.”
From: http://www.epa.gov

Global warming or Global Climate Change is definitely happening and it will have an effect on the coming generations.  It is not entirely possible to prove that humans are the cause of global warming, but it is possible to monitor the trends.  Regardless of who or what is to blame, there are things that need to be done, and can be done; by humans, to limit ours and future generations suffering.  Following, is a list of some valuable global warming information.  I hope you take the time to get informed on these issues.

Global Warming Basics
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_warming

Global Climate Change Basics
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_change

Global Dimming Basics
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_dimming
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2058273530743771382
(thanks psik, I saw that show on television a while back)

Scientific Opinion
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_opinion_on_climate_change

POLITICAL INTERFERENCE WITH CLIMATE CHANGE SCIENCE
UNDER THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION

BY The
UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
COMMITTEE ON OVERSIGHT AND GOVERNMENT REFORM
DECEMBER 2007
http://oversight.house.gov/documents/20071210101633.pdf
(Thanks for this link Doug)


SOLUTIONS:

TED Videos: A Greener Future?
The environmental debate has traditionally been characterized as a conflict between economic progress and preservation of the planet. Most TED speakers, however, insist that we can have both—provided we’re smart about it.

William McDonough: The wisdom of designing Cradle to Cradle
http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/104

Alex Steffen: Inspired ideas for a sustainable future
http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/74
http://www.worldchanging.com/

Stephen Petranek: 10 ways the world could end
http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/167

John Doerr: Seeking salvation and profit in greentech
http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/128

Al Gore: 15 ways to avert a climate crisis
http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/1

[ Edited: 21 February 2008 07:48 AM by retrospy ]
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Posted: 20 February 2008 02:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I need your help in understanding why changes in a trace gas will create a future of a flooded New York (which will probably increase the global utility of mankind) and will force all of us to live in Northern Canada and Antartica.

Part of the problem is chain reactions.  The Ice and snow toward the poles reflect sunlight back into space preventing it from raising the temperature much.  A slight rise in CO2 causes some ice and snow to melt back exposing bare ground.  This absorbs the sunlight instead of reflecting it back further increasing the temperature and giving the CO2 more heat to hold in.

Additionally some of that warmed tundra gives of methane which is an even “better” green house gas than CO2.

On top of that is the particulate matter effects.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2058273530743771382

psik

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Posted: 20 February 2008 05:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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It’s about as likely to convince someone who believes global warming is a myth that it’s real as it is to convince a creationist that evolution is real or a theist that it’s quite probable that god doesn’t exist.  You have to recognize that scientific evidence is not a valid argument to these people.  As such, it’s much easier to just avoid the topic and let them find the truth themselves a few years from now when the sea level starts rising significantly and weather patterns change drastically.

Occam

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Posted: 21 February 2008 08:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I thought of a compelling argument why religious people have incentive to believe humans are contributing to Global Warming. 

According to the Noah & the arc story in the bible, God says he will never flood the earth again.  So, when sea level rise becomes harder to dismiss, I think religious followers will jump on the “humans did it” band wagon in order to take the blame off God, which contradicts the all loving part, and put it on their own free will.

It could also be explained that science is the language God is using to speak to us, and we should learn to listen.  Just like God whispered in Noah’s head thousands of years ago to build a huge boat, God may be imparting knowledge via science today.  Can you think of any repercussions to the ends justifying the means, in this case?

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Posted: 21 February 2008 10:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Sounds like a good argument, but I forgot to mention that the theists also reject logic in their thinking.  LOL

Occam

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Posted: 22 February 2008 11:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Thank you all for your views on climate change.  Let’s say that we believe that feedback from a doubling of CO2 has a probability of .75 of producing a +3 degree C change in average global temperature over this century.  (I know the IPCC is > .95 but they’d be out of a job otherwise.) What if we’re wrong with a probability of .25? What if there is negative feedback instead of positive feedback? What if most of the change is the result of cosmic rays (p=.10)? The religous right will have a field day. “What does science know?”, they will say.  My fear is that by not being more skeptical, those of us who support science will be made to look like fools.  I would like to see a more balanced approach to climate change. Let’s support those things that clearly benefit mankind such as alternative energy sources that decrease dependence on Islamic countries instead of using our resources directly for carbon reduction.  We’ve already screwed up with biofuels.  What specific actions should we take?  Does this “check spelling” thing work?

[ Edited: 22 February 2008 11:16 PM by HL Mencken ]
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Posted: 23 February 2008 09:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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HL Mencken - 22 February 2008 11:12 PM

Thank you all for your views on climate change.  Let’s say that we believe that feedback from a doubling of CO2 has a probability of .75 of producing a +3 degree C change in average global temperature over this century.  (I know the IPCC is > .95 but they’d be out of a job otherwise.) What if we’re wrong with a probability of .25? What if there is negative feedback instead of positive feedback? What if most of the change is the result of cosmic rays (p=.10)? The religous right will have a field day. “What does science know?”, they will say.  My fear is that by not being more skeptical, those of us who support science will be made to look like fools.  I would like to see a more balanced approach to climate change. Let’s support those things that clearly benefit mankind such as alternative energy sources that decrease dependence on Islamic countries instead of using our resources directly for carbon reduction.  We’ve already screwed up with biofuels.  What specific actions should we take?  Does this “check spelling” thing work?

It’s a good question, Mencken, but one that we are always able to ask about any subject which scientists have an opinion. We are always working with imperfect information, and always in danger of taking the wrong conclusions from a small data set.

One could imagine that someday astronomers will see some large comet which has a 50% chance to hit the earth in 50 years. OK, they tell us that if we act now we may be able to reduce that 50% to something significantly lower, but “acting now” will cost us X billions of dollars, where X is a large number.

We don’t always have the luxury to wait until all the data is in. Sometimes we have to decide to act now.

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Posted: 03 March 2008 09:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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dougsmith - 23 February 2008 09:19 AM

We don’t always have the luxury to wait until all the data is in. Sometimes we have to decide to act now.

The trouble is there is not the political will to act now, people either do not believe, willfully ignore, or are completely unaware of the evidence that has accumulated over the last 20 -30 years for climate change.

There is not yet any pressing economic or political reason to enforce change on a global scale, until one or more of the great coastal cities are flooded by the continuing collapse of the great ice sheets in Greenland or Antarctica people can turn a blind eye and think they are doing their bit by putting their daily newspaper in the re-cycle bin.

There is not one political party in an industrialised or developing nation with a realistic chance of acheiving power that advocates ending any form of dependence on the carbon based economy that has led us to our current position and any policy that did so would necessitate the complete abandoning of pretty much any form of global involvement and reversion to localised food production and extremely limited industrialisation.

Are you going to give up your TV, your car, your PC, your vegetables and fruit in the middle of winter, your holiday travel, your trips to the supermarket, will you tell your children that they can’t have the new iPod, mobile phone, cheap clothes produced in China or Vietnam and there is no prospect of ever having them again, I’m not going to and I doubt if many around here will. Let’s be honest we like what ‘ve got and we want more of it.

Imagine if one of the candidates in this year’s US Presidential election was to advocate any of these policies, how many votes do you think he or she would get when all his or her opponent has to say is “It’s not that bad, we can find a way round it while still having all the good stuff we’ve always had, we can put a mirror in space, we can suck all the CO2 out of the atmosphere and bury it in old coal mines or oil wells” or any of the other pie-in-the-sky solutions speculated upon so far and all the time we’re sucking up and burning more and more oil, digging coal out of the ground faster than ever before and ripping up forests to produce bio-fuel or animal fodder while looking over our shoulder at the dveloping nations who want what we in the west have had for the last 50 years and don’t see why they should settle for any less.

And no I haven’t got an answer either.

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Posted: 03 March 2008 04:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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We can’t suck all the CO2 out of the air. Plants make plenty of CO2 and part of the problem (besides humans contributing to it too) is that the earth goes in cycles where there is more C02 in the atmosphere causing a bit of a warming.  All of this is natural, but when we throw in the human component, we have problems because we are cutting down the rain forest, which helps with some of the natural CO2, even during naturally high times.  Then we also pump in even more with our automobiles and alike.  So the natural highs are out of control and based on all of that, I’m not sure how long it’s been since we had a natural low. Some cities are working on the plant problem by adding green ways and alike, but that won’t be enough if we keep cutting down the rain forest and continue to use oil and like.  I see it as a catch-22, because not every city has public transportation or if they do, it’s not usually a good one.  Then you have people who live outside the city and have to drive to get to work.  Until we can solve out transportation issues, use energy efficiant products and alike, as well as stop cutting down rain forests and alike, we can’t solve the unnatural CO2 we contribute.

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“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

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