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It's getting hot in here...
January 3, 2006 4:34 PM   Subscribe

It's official. 2005 was the hottest year on record. Despite this new alarming evidence that the world is heating up, countries like Australia and the United States are still refusing to sign up to the Kyoto Protocol. But with many (mostly on the conservative side of politics) claiming that the Kyoto Protocol is a failure, what else can be done to stop the now clearly visible effects of climate change to our world?
posted by Effigy2000 (130 comments total)

 
Invade Siberia?
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 4:36 PM on January 3, 2006


And, just for some balance, there are others who say the Kyoto hasn't failed.
posted by Effigy2000 at 4:36 PM on January 3, 2006


uhm... AusFilter?

meh. If it was global, I'd be more interested, but this is just another mile-marker on the highway.
posted by id at 4:37 PM on January 3, 2006


I wonder if there was a corresponding rise in purchases of A/C units, tank tops and ice cube makers, or if there'll be a one-year delay before those effects occur.

I don't know why I brought that up, really
posted by davejay at 4:37 PM on January 3, 2006


(the Kyoto Protocol, that should read).
posted by Effigy2000 at 4:37 PM on January 3, 2006


Solar Towers.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Awesome at 4:41 PM on January 3, 2006


Of course the protocol is a bloody failure. If you go out of your way to sabotage something and make sure it doesn't work, where's the frigging logic of then turning around and saying "jeez that was crap, glad we didn't get into that!".

In the bizzaro world of Australian federal environmental policy (or the poor facsimile of policy that we have), Australia is committed to meeting it's Kyoto protocol targets, without actually signing up for Kyoto because it would be too onerous. The logic totally fucking escapes me. We're only meeting our targets because of a free get out of jail card anyway, stopping QLD land clearing that should have been stopped a long time ago.

Critics of Kyoto are right in one sense - it isn't going to do diddly squat to impact anthopogenic climate change. We need permanent reductions of about 60%, which is going to be hard work and will do interesting things to the economies of the world. But if we cant even stabilise our emissions at 1990 levels, picking up the really easy efficiency measures, just how fucked are we?

Totally, unfortunately.
posted by wilful at 4:50 PM on January 3, 2006


I still want to know why failure to sign the treaty is any worse than someone like Russia signing it and then failing to adhere to it.
posted by Krrrlson at 4:51 PM on January 3, 2006


There's no global warming? What are you talking about?

Just to get that shit out of the way.

Anyway, I'm worried that a side effect of global warming will be colder winters in Minnesota. I love it here, but I don't think I could stand that,
posted by maxsparber at 4:53 PM on January 3, 2006


Wait a minute. Most of the EU is not adhering to a treaty they signed, and it's the US's fault for not signing it? Isn't it better to not sign something than to sign it then not do what you promised?
posted by unreason at 4:53 PM on January 3, 2006


Oops. More properly: There's no global warming! What are you talking about?

I always had problems with punctuation.
posted by maxsparber at 4:54 PM on January 3, 2006


I'm curious as to what Australia having its hottest recorded year has to do with "the world...heating up." You and I both know that to anyone on the opposite side of this (those conservatives you mentioned) aren't going to buy this as evidence of global warming, let along anthropogenic global warming.
posted by Captaintripps at 4:55 PM on January 3, 2006


Hrm. What good's a treaty ignored by its signatories?
posted by swerdloff at 4:56 PM on January 3, 2006


Here's an interesting article about what future progress might be built on the Kyoto protocol. Especially interesting is the discussion of Robert Socolow's "stabilization wedges". You can read Socolow's Science paper on the wedges here, if you have access (I think; I don't know whether their older articles are publicly available...).
posted by mr_roboto at 4:56 PM on January 3, 2006


This is not confined to Australia. 2005 was the hottest year ever, according to a variety of reasonably authoritative sources.
posted by killdevil at 5:01 PM on January 3, 2006


2005 is the hottest year in record for the WORLD.. not just australia. More info here.
posted by stbalbach at 5:02 PM on January 3, 2006


An interesting tidbit, though -- while copyediting the article on dinosaurs over at Wikipedia, I learned that CO2 levels were 12 times higher than they are now during the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretacious periods, with interesting effects on global temperatures. I wonder whether the parameters of acceptable environmental conditions aren't much broader (in terms of "greenhouse" gases) than the climate polyannas would have us believe?

Nota bene: I'm only speculating; please don't kill me.
posted by killdevil at 5:07 PM on January 3, 2006


"At the dinosaur era's peak, sea levels are estimated to have been between 100 metres and 250 metres (330 feet to 820 feet) higher than today, with no polar ice caps. The planet's temperature was much more uniform, with only 25 degrees Celsius separating average polar temperatures from those at the equator. On average, atmospheric temperatures were also much warmer; the poles, for example, were 50 °C warmer than today."

climate pollyana?
posted by stbalbach at 5:13 PM on January 3, 2006


that's hot.
posted by keswick at 5:16 PM on January 3, 2006


It's been in the upper sixties to low seventies here lately. In the beginning of January. Granted, I live in South Carolina, but that's absurd, even for here.

I am of course concerned and 99% convinced that global warming is taking place, and doing my part to try and help reduce emissions, but just to play devil's advocate here- yes, they said it was the hottest year on record, but they've only been keeping records, according to that article, since 1910. In terms of climate change, that's a very, very short amount of time. The earth heats up and cools down over millenia, sometimes even centuries. The little ice age of Europe happened only a few centuries ago, and National Geographic warned just a few weeks ago that another one may be soon to hit- as a result of global warming and the decrease in cold currents in the Atlantic. Nature may balance itself out yet.

/devil's advocate

Personally, though, I think we're fucked.
posted by Meredith at 5:16 PM on January 3, 2006


God help us if the temperature runs away.
posted by A189Nut at 5:28 PM on January 3, 2006


I know that this got almost no coverage in the U.S., so you can be forgiven for not knowing about it... but... At the beginning of December 2005, there was a massive UN conference on climate change in Montreal, Canada.

There was plenty of news coverage, just not in the U.S.

The U.S. sent Harlan Watson, who was selected by Exxon Mobil to represent the United States of America on climate change. His strategy was simply to object to any action on climate change at all, and then walk out in a huff near the end of the meeting, which is the same thing he did in 2001 at the original Kyoto meeting.

Just about the only U.S. news coverage was of Clinton's speech.

If you're an American and not a neo-con nutball, you should be deeply embarassed about your government.
posted by jellicle at 5:38 PM on January 3, 2006


[img]http://www.environment.sa.gov.au/sustainability/images/c02_levels.jpg[/img]
posted by wilful at 5:39 PM on January 3, 2006


crap! Serves me right, shouldn't be posting images anyway: graph of CO2 for past 400k years.
posted by wilful at 5:41 PM on January 3, 2006


err... did you mean:


posted by killdevil at 5:41 PM on January 3, 2006


Hottest year on record my ass.

Here in Perth we've been getting low 20s all december. Nary a beach faring day in sight. It's only now that we finally got a day pushing past 30.
posted by Talez at 5:44 PM on January 3, 2006


Well Talez... right now it's zero C here. And I'm not happy about that, either.
posted by killdevil at 5:48 PM on January 3, 2006


Cripes, Talez. As Merideth says, for the last frikken time, it's climate-change, NOT global-warming. People experience weather, and then confuse it with climate. This manifests itself in different ways in different places, and climate overall is also influenced by other global dynamics at play. Your tiny area might not be experiencing warmer weather, but the PLANET is.

What is indisputable is that human populations are destroying the delicate balance of the world's eco-systems. The Earth simply can't sustain the activities of its burgeoning population now, just wait till China's industrialization ramps up.

Meanwhile, it's obvious that George Bush and Dick Cheney would anally rape their dead grandmother's rotting corpses if they thought they could extract an ounce of energy profit from it. STOP giving those oil gluttons who've hijacked the American government an excuse to continue their avaricious raping of the planet! In misstating the situation we give those bastages the ammunition they need to dismiss the cold, hard, facts.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 5:49 PM on January 3, 2006


That graph is interesting, killdevil. I believe the explanation for the dramatic increase in CO2 levels in the planet's atmosphere can be attributed to to the dramatic increase of Homo Sapiens on the planet's surface.

Not to quarrel with you, but this is the same logic the religious freaks use when they declare the End Times are almost here. "How do you explain the increasing number of earthquakes?" they ask. "I think it's probably linked to the increasing number of earthquake measuring devices." I reply.

Personally, I blame September 11, and The Terrorists.
posted by fandango_matt at 5:50 PM on January 3, 2006


Yup, terrorism is right.
posted by Mr Bluesky at 5:56 PM on January 3, 2006


I believe the explanation for the dramatic increase in CO2 levels in the planet's atmosphere can be attributed to to the dramatic increase of Homo Sapiens on the planet's surface.

That's Homo sapiens sapiens to you, buster.

And yes, we're all fucked. Fucked fucked.
posted by interrobang at 5:56 PM on January 3, 2006


I believe the explanation for the dramatic increase in CO2 levels in the planet's atmosphere can be attributed to to the dramatic increase of Homo Sapiens on the planet's surface.

I may belch and fart my fair share, but I'd be surprised if this was completely reponsible for the "dramatic increase in CO2 levels". Although, if it is, sorry, I promise to respect etiquette a little more in the future.
posted by clevershark at 5:57 PM on January 3, 2006


The most important thing here is that we find some way to turn climate change into a partisan issue, and then accuse current leadership of having evil motives. Maybe work some sort of offensive sexual imagery to emphasize the point. That's always the best way to win the confidence of rational people, and to really solve a problem, right?

Yes, if only we can belittle our political adversaries, then we can solve the world's problems.
posted by JekPorkins at 5:58 PM on January 3, 2006


PareidoliaticBoy:
What is indisputable is that human populations are destroying the delicate balance of the world's eco-systems. The Earth simply can't sustain the activities of its burgeoning population now, just wait till China's industrialization ramps up.


You seem confused. The only consistent message we have been able to uncover is that there is no such thing as a delicate balance of the world's eco-systems. Tree rings, ice cores, and gelogic evidence all suggest that the earth's climate has changed quite dramatically over time. It has been both hotter and cooler in the past than it is now. It has been drier and cooler than it is now. Humans have very specific environmental preferences, but the earth will keep on existing regardless of what we do.

It is unfortunate that the people most concerned with climate change are completely unable to grasp even the most basic relevant scientific data. That we are screwed is due more to pervasive ignorance than any deep inability to make positive change.
posted by b1tr0t at 6:03 PM on January 3, 2006


Well JekPorkins it's like you said, you just have to work the word "blowjob" in there and THEN people will take it seriously.
posted by clevershark at 6:04 PM on January 3, 2006


geologic

[returns to a state of pervasive ignorant bliss]
posted by b1tr0t at 6:06 PM on January 3, 2006


I remain skeptical:

We've only been keeping records for a short amount of time, and where's the in depth analysis of the methods by which pre-record keeping climates are determined? Especially those millions of years ago? While the definite change in climate is disturbing and undeniable (I remember winters were always much more severe when I was younger), I question whether this is man-made or not.

Welcome to yet another thread with people arguing about global warming. Glad this is new and interesting enough for y'all.
posted by cellphone at 6:06 PM on January 3, 2006


Is the planet warming up? Probably.

Is human activity responsible? Ah, that's the question. There's strong geologic evidence that the sun is a variable star, and that it heats and cools on about a 1400 year cycle. The geologic evidence is that the most recent heating cycle of the sun began about 300 years ago, and if it follows historic patterns it will end in about a hundred years, after which the sun -- and the planet -- will cool for about the next thousand years.

Is the planet now hotter than any time in the historic record? Afraid not. The peak of the previous heating cycle was about a thousand years ago and it was warmer then than now. At that point the cooling part of the cycle kicked in, a period known as "the little ice age".

What can be done to prevent climate change? Probably nothing whatever. There's every reason to believe that the climate would continue to change even if we stopped producing CO2 entirely, because the entire idea of climatic stability is a myth. Climate change is the norm.

Does that mean we should give up and ignore the issue? Of course not. But it does mean that we should make sure we really understand it which we do not now before we try to make any real plans. For the other ignored little piece of this puzzle is that predictive climatology is not a mature science, and most of the predictions that have been made, including that nifty chart up there, are little better than half-assed guesses.

You know all those wonderful computer models they tout that predict climatic armageddon in a hundred years? What they don't tell you is that if you plug the situation on Earth in the year 1900 into those models, none of them correctly predicts the climate in the year 2000. Why the heck should we believe them, or pay any attention to what they say?
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 6:08 PM on January 3, 2006


Clevershark: That's the stuff! Pretend I'm advocating a political position other than your own, and have at it. I can feel the climate stabilizing already!

If we all really cared about saving the planet, we'd stop using so much electricity with our computers.
posted by JekPorkins at 6:09 PM on January 3, 2006


posted by clevershark I may belch and fart my fair share, but I'd be surprised if this was completely reponsible for the "dramatic increase in CO2 levels".

Look, I had the same problem with those latkes, but as far as the CO2 levels in my aunt's dining room are concerned I won't be inviting you over again for Hanukkah.
posted by fandango_matt at 6:10 PM on January 3, 2006


"I still want to know why failure to sign the treaty is any worse than someone like Russia signing it and then failing to adhere to it.
posted by Krrrlson at 7:51 PM EST on January 3 [!]"


Yes!
posted by ParisParamus at 6:13 PM on January 3, 2006



"A problem once posed becomes unsolvable."

-W.S. Burroughs
posted by bukharin at 6:17 PM on January 3, 2006


It IS a partisan issue, JekPorkins. Those bastards are nothing more than oil-company whores. They are over in Iraq murdering women and children and wasting American lives on order to steal the oil and line the pockets of their big business masters.

This is the most corrupt adminstration in American history. There is nothing they fwon't stoop to in order to advance their limitless greed; including torture, arrest without cause, and outright treason. They have turned a democracy into a police state, Geroge Orwell was an optimist.

What I find offensive are all the god damn dead bodies those bastards are littering the planet with so that they and their ignorant ilk can drive Hummmers to the mall and live in McMansions in the desert. But Clinton had sex, so it's all justified.

I'm not confused, b1tr0t . There are two seperate issues here. Climate change, and human population growth which has resulted and ecological genocide. I didn't conjoin them in my post, but you did. In fact, my post pointed out that the dynamics of climate change are affected by influences other than human popultaion growth. Next time you throw the phrase ignorant about, you might make sure that your own comprehension is more precise.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 6:18 PM on January 3, 2006


Here's another interesting point:



That's a chart of average planetary temperatures over the last 250,000 years. It's on a logarithmic scale, as opposed to the linear scale of the CO2 chart above. Nonetheless, try comparing the two and see if you can see any correlation whatever between them. I don't see one.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 6:22 PM on January 3, 2006


Steven C. Den Beste: Is there a way to even out the x-axis numbers (time in thousands of years) on that chart?
posted by fandango_matt at 6:26 PM on January 3, 2006


They are over in Iraq murdering women and children and wasting American lives on order to steal the oil and line the pockets of their big business masters.

And how does that influence the global climate? If the problem is too many people on earth, how does "murdering women and children" contribute to global climate change?

This is the most corrupt adminstration in American history.

And how does that contribute to global climate change more than the inaction of every previous administration?

What I find offensive are all the god damn dead bodies those bastards are littering the planet with

Me too, but this thread is about global climate change. See above re: too many people is the problem.

But Clinton had sex, so it's all justified.

Did Clinton sign Kyoto? As I recall, Clinton took several dramatic steps to help Chinese industry to grow. Certainly that had some minor effect on the environment, don't cha think?

But this is not a partisan issue. Nobody's fixing it, and everyone should be.

And why is it that the only thing anyone ever remembers about Clinton was his sex life? It's really a shame.
posted by JekPorkins at 6:27 PM on January 3, 2006


Steven C. Den Beste: I totally did not expect to see anything other than the usual fearmongering in this thread. Thanks for surprising me.
I just plain don't understand the people screaming "We're fucked!". I mean, we're not. Not in any way, shape, or form. Things will probably change, sure, and probably a lot of people who can't (or won't) adapt to those changes will die or suffer. Lots of land that was previously a prime location for us will no longer be so. Likewise lots of land that was previously crap will no longer be so. We'll deal with change as it comes along. But that's hardly "being fucked".
Should we try and stop screwing with the environment? Sure thing. Do changes in the environment which may or may not be our fault mean our imminent destruction? Not really. Remember, it's called the "end of the world as we know it" not just the "end of the world".
posted by nightchrome at 6:31 PM on January 3, 2006


A brilliant observation by Mark Steyn that applies to Kyoto and global warming: ...a good basic template for U.S.-EU relations that recognizes the basic differences between the two: Americans have responsibilities, Europeans have attitudes. Indeed, the EU has attitudes in inverse proportion to its ability to act on them. It's able to strut and preen on the world stage secure in the knowledge that nobody expects it to do anything about anything. If entire nations want to embrace self-congratulatory holier-than-thou gesture politics as a way of life, why not give them a hand?
posted by ParisParamus at 6:33 PM on January 3, 2006


There's every reason to believe that the climate would continue to change even if we stopped producing CO2 entirely, because the entire idea of climatic stability is a myth. Climate change is the norm.

Climate change IS the norm, Steven, but there's a difference between letting your car coast down a hill in neutral, and driving down the same hill with the gas pedal to the floor. Sure, the earth might be warming up anyway, but there's an awful lot of overwhelming evidence to support that we're vastly speeding up the process.

The earth will continue to exist, yes, but perhaps not in a manner that's inhabitable for us. The ecosystem is fragile, but adaptable- but the ways in which is balances itself out to compensate for mankind's enormous meddling and impact on it may very well kneecap us in the end.

Might as well head over to Exit Mundi now to read up on all the many ways this world will perish in my lifetime. Didn't need to sleep tonight anyway...
posted by Meredith at 6:34 PM on January 3, 2006


Steven C. Den Beste writes "Nonetheless, try comparing the two and see if you can see any correlation whatever between them. I don't see one."

Does this help?



Source.
posted by mr_roboto at 6:39 PM on January 3, 2006


Roboto, I did really well on the Iowa tests in 4th Grade; nonetheless, what do these graphs show? I see patterns and cycles but no correlations. Or long-term trends?
posted by ParisParamus at 6:44 PM on January 3, 2006


Wait. Doesn't this graph indicate that temps were highest 125 and 340 years ago? Is George Bush that old?
posted by ParisParamus at 6:48 PM on January 3, 2006


And doesn't it show that CO2 emissioner were highest 330 years ago? Is Dick Cheney that old?
posted by ParisParamus at 6:49 PM on January 3, 2006


And aren't we having a dust shortage?
posted by ParisParamus at 6:50 PM on January 3, 2006


Paris, are you going to make one post per minute all night long?
posted by Meredith at 6:52 PM on January 3, 2006


We likely agree more on this issue than it might appear, JekPorkins. If my language was offensive, it reflects my bitter horror that it's probably too late to do much to stop the inevitable slide into the abyss. I realize that it's unlikely to persuade the ditto-heads. But, if it shocks just one progressive into taking some action, any action, I'll weather the displeasure of those who are incorrigibly corrupt, and gladly.

My point is that the current Administration is in absolute denial of the facts. This denial is not driven by any genuine ignorance of the facts, or an altruistic (if naive) belief that their course is of benefit to humanity. Nope. It is out of pure, unadulterated, greed.

The Iraq war is an out-right oil grab, a symptom of a mentality of growth driven by corporate culture. This is something that a more rational approach recognizes as inherently suicidal.

It looks as though the almighty dollar has won the revolution; while everyone was watching Survivor and scarfing Super Size meals. Not much is likely to change, and it pisses me off.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 6:53 PM on January 3, 2006


No. My question are done here. Can someone please answer?
posted by ParisParamus at 6:53 PM on January 3, 2006


Conservatives: The climate is changing. We might be causing it, we might not. Let's not change a damn thing.

Liberals: The climate is changing. We might be causing it. Lets see if we can do something to mitigate the potential damage from climate change.

Which is sound thinking?
posted by Freen at 6:59 PM on January 3, 2006


"Wait. Doesn't this graph indicate that temps were highest 125 and 340 years ago? Is George Bush that old?"
posted by ParisParamus at 12:48 PM AEST on January 4.

"And doesn't it show that CO2 emissioner were highest 330 years ago? Is Dick Cheney that old?"
posted by ParisParamus at 12:49 PM AEST on January 4.

"My question are done here. Can someone please answer?"
posted by ParisParamus at 12:53 PM AEST on January 4

Given your glib questions, I'll respond with an equally glib answer; It would explain their apparent senility.

In all seriousness though, I too, would like an explanation of that graph.
posted by Effigy2000 at 7:08 PM on January 3, 2006


Dear Freen:

Conservatives (whatever that means): The climate is changing. It has always been changing. We might be having a tiny effect on it, and most certainly can't have any predictable effect on mitigating it. Let's vote for Republicans, since that's what our neighbors are doing and we're mad at liberals for being jerks about religion (the "spite" vote, as I call it).

Liberals (whatever that means): The climate is changing. We are definitely changing it, and probably a lot more than any scientist has ever been able to demonstrate. Instead of actually doing something about it, let's bitch about politics and pretend that, somehow, which party is in control in America will have some effect on a climate cycle that has been going on for millions of years. Why? So that we can turn a genuine problem in to a means for scoring political points for our "team," the Democrats, who actually have nothing in common with us.
posted by JekPorkins at 7:09 PM on January 3, 2006


Freen: the kind of thinking that causes a person to take a complex situation and reduce it to two opposing sides for the sake of mocking members of what they perceive to be "the other side", is most certainly not sound thinking.
posted by nightchrome at 7:10 PM on January 3, 2006


CO2 levels correspond closely with temperature - this is an established fact - and CO2 levels are now thought to be higher (or will be soon) than anything seen in the past millions of years (not including all the other man-made greenhouse gases). The medieval ice age and whatever are not even on the same radar in terms of CO2 levels. We are beyond the normal bounds of CO2 natural variation according to the ice core records.

It's interesting to see Steven C. Den Beste, one of the most prolific MeFi posters in the early days, return after a long absence, with his posting record wiped clean. Or perhaps I'm missing something.
posted by stbalbach at 7:12 PM on January 3, 2006


ParisParamus writes "Can someone please answer?"

Read the paper I linked to. It's clear.

ParisParamus writes "I see patterns and cycles but no correlations."

You should be able to see a correlation between deltaT (in degrees C) and concentration of CO2 (in parts per million by volume). If you can't see it, I don't know what to say; it's obvious.

These data show that CO2 levels are correlated to temperature, as predicted by models. The fact that historic data confirms the correlation is a strong argument for the validity of the models, which hypothesize a causal connection between CO2 concentration and temperature (commonly called "the greenhouse effect").

I assume the questions about George Bush and Dick Cheney are spurious (note, however, that the x-axis is in thousands of years).

By the way, the fact that someone as intelligent and well-educated as you are, Paris, has difficulty reading such a simple plot says a lot about the state of science education in the US. It desperately needs to be prioritized if we hope to remain competitive in the modern global economy.
posted by mr_roboto at 7:15 PM on January 3, 2006


nightchrome writes "I just plain don't understand the people screaming 'We're fucked!'. I mean, we're not. Not in any way, shape, or form. Things will probably change, sure, and probably a lot of people who can't (or won't) adapt to those changes will die or suffer.... We'll deal with change as it comes along."

I wish I could as glibly overlook human death and suffering as you do. I, unfortunately, am burdened with a consciousness and a sense of humanity.
posted by mr_roboto at 7:17 PM on January 3, 2006


mr_roboto writes "consciousness"

erm... conscience

Stupid error ruins a perfectly good snarky rant....
posted by mr_roboto at 7:19 PM on January 3, 2006


From my perspective, "consciousness" kind of worked anyway...
posted by Meredith at 7:20 PM on January 3, 2006


mr_roboto: hrm, then you must be absolutely paralyzed with fear and concern over the countless people dying right this very moment of innumerable things for which solutions already exist.
Part of humanity is coping with change. People who can't, can be helped, and I'm all for that. People who won't, well, you can't force them to survive.
posted by nightchrome at 7:21 PM on January 3, 2006


And, really, read the stuff I linked to above. It takes a very practical, economically responsible approach to the problem of climate change.
posted by mr_roboto at 7:23 PM on January 3, 2006


nightchrome writes "People who can't, can be helped, and I'm all for that."

Which is why we need to address climate change. I'm glad you agree with me. And don't make me do a y2karl blockquote on that Economist article by refusing to click on the link.
posted by mr_roboto at 7:26 PM on January 3, 2006


That's Hot.
posted by Paris Hilton at 7:26 PM on January 3, 2006


mr_roboto: As I said above, I am totally in favor of trying to reduce humanity's imprint on the environment. My only real complaint was against the "The End Is Nigh" sandwichboard people, which this topic brings out in droves.
posted by nightchrome at 7:27 PM on January 3, 2006


Fucking right-wingers with their heads in the sand. Seriously though, we need a new treaty that doesn't let china and India off the hook.

The Neocons are morons for not recognizing the ability to use this to hamper China's growth.
posted by Paris Hilton at 7:28 PM on January 3, 2006


I'm so tired of people automatically associating global warming with human factors. Yeah, the earth has been heating up in recent years, but all the evidence suggests that atmospheric temperatures are cyclical and we're bouncing back from a markedly cold period in the earth's history. Maybe the earth's "normal" temperature is warmer than you think.
posted by TunnelArmr at 7:28 PM on January 3, 2006


mr_roboto : "By the way, the fact that someone as intelligent and well-educated as you are, Paris, has difficulty reading such a simple plot says a lot about the state of science education in the US."

No, it shows a lot about the state of political science in the US, where people can't think about anything not reducible to two sides. Hence, if you think the human activities is responsible for global warming you're must be a "Democrat" or "Liberal", because doing anything about it will hurt the corporations profits. If you think human activities are irrelevant to global warming you're a "Republican" or "Conservative", because exploring natural resources to their limit is good for the corporations profits. In either case you must be blind to any data that contradicts or challenges you point of view, so the TV debates are better.
posted by nkyad at 7:29 PM on January 3, 2006


What can be done to prevent climate change? Probably nothing whatever.

I agree with this, because it is vague enough and slow enough that it can be indefinitely elided and obfuscated until the point of inevitable catastrophe (if it gets that far*; I'm currently wondering about CO2 levels vs. peak oil/hydrocarbons, myself.) It wouldn't matter if the science were rock solid: imagine what would happen if evolution had significant economic interests arrayed against it.

* Please consider that a Permian-level mass extinction would not "destroy the Earth!" but isn't considered a win. Please.
posted by furiousthought at 7:29 PM on January 3, 2006


TunnelArmr writes "'I'm so tired of people automatically associating global warming with human factors."

Christ. I give up. The fact that you think there's an "automatic" association is a dead giveaway that you know absolutely nothing about any of the climate science done in the past 15 years. Nothing.
posted by mr_roboto at 7:33 PM on January 3, 2006


mr_roboto: I'm not talking about the damn scientists. I'm talking about the laypeople who make that association. Like some of the people in this thread, including the poster, who assumes that the evidence is "alarming" and turns it into a discussion of Kyoto.
posted by TunnelArmr at 7:38 PM on January 3, 2006


"I assume the questions about George Bush and Dick Cheney are spurious (note, however, that the x-axis is in thousands of years).

By the way, the fact that someone as intelligent and well-educated as you are, Paris, has difficulty reading such a simple plot says a lot about the state of science education in the US. It desperately needs to be prioritized if we hope to remain competitive in the modern global economy.
posted by mr_roboto at 10:15 PM EST on January 3 [!]"

I did miss the x-axis scale; whether that means my education or the US education system is mediocre, or whether it just means it's late evening on the East Coast...

Mr. Roboto, the graphs just show that every 125K years or so, CO2 levels and temperature spike, and they did this WAY before the industrial revoltion.

So the most reasonable conclusion and to draw is: IF WE CAN REDUCE POLLUTION AND CO2 EMISSIONS, GREAT, BUT THERE'S NO PROOF THAT WE'RE CAUSING CO2 EMISSIONS TO SPIKE, OR THAT WE CAN PREVENT THEM FROM SPIKING, CURBING ECONOMIC ACTIVITY TO CURB CO2 EMISSIONS MAKES NO SENSE; MORE/SOME EVIDENCE/CORRELATION, PLEASE...

So basically, the anti-Kyoto camp seems more reasonable to me than the pro-Kyoto camp.
posted by ParisParamus at 7:40 PM on January 3, 2006


So... because we're not (all) scientists, we can't and shouldn't be able to discuss scientific reports and evidence? Being laypeople, we're overreacting to what scientists are saying and are silly for discussing global warming and measures being taken to stop it?

Are you serious?
posted by Meredith at 7:42 PM on January 3, 2006


Here here, Meredith.
posted by Effigy2000 at 7:46 PM on January 3, 2006


stbalbach:
It's interesting to see Steven C. Den Beste, one of the most prolific MeFi posters in the early days, return after a long absence, with his posting record wiped clean. Or perhaps I'm missing something.

He apparently had two accounts, one he used previously and one he uses now. Now thats planning. I personally figured it was another old bruteforced account from who-know-who, but I guess it's actually him.
posted by puke & cry at 7:47 PM on January 3, 2006 [1 favorite]


, BUT THERE'S NO PROOF THAT WE'RE CAUSING CO2 EMISSIONS TO SPIKE

No.

From the article:

"Comparing contemporary processes with the 420,000 years prior to the Industrial Revolution, they determined that atmospheric CO2 levels have risen at a rate of some 10 to possibly 100 times faster than at any prior time in the Earth's history."

posted by Meredith at 7:47 PM on January 3, 2006


well I fucked that up.

two accounts
posted by puke & cry at 7:48 PM on January 3, 2006 [1 favorite]


Erm, the article which I thought I linked to in my above comment.
posted by Meredith at 7:48 PM on January 3, 2006


That's the stuff! Pretend I'm advocating a political position other than your own, and have at it. I can feel the climate stabilizing already!

What the fuck are you talking about?
posted by clevershark at 7:50 PM on January 3, 2006


Not everyone on this planet is an American, JekPorkins. Your division of Liberals as Democrats, and Conservatives as Republicans is illustrative of the provincialism and myopia of too many Americans. This is, of course, one of the major problems that got us into this frikken global mess in the first place.

Open your eyes to the damage that the war-profiteering fascists you idiots elected are causing. The muslims are pissed that the infidels are in their Holy lands, and they wouldn't be there, if it wasn't for the god damn oil.

You don't see Hallliburton/Cheney invading North Korea, which actually is a genuine threat to the rest of world. Nope ... there'd be no profit in that venture. But an over-populated world needs more energy; the energy cartels have ensured that the only viable source is oil. So, the Gulf needs to be conquered. ANY excuse will do.

When the suit-case nukes start going off in Chicago and Seattle, your glib cynicism and intellectual posturing won't count a whit in mitigating the fall-out. And it will be a direct result of the policies of that ambulatory human-smegma Dick Cheney, and his stinking, foul familiar, George Bush.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 7:50 PM on January 3, 2006


ParisParamus writes "Mr. Roboto, the graphs just show that every 125K years or so, CO2 levels and temperature spike, and they did this WAY before the industrial revoltion."

OK; what you're not understanding is that the historical data (which someone else brought up, drawing me into this particular conversation) is confirmation of a correlation predicted by models of the atmosphere. These models hypothesize a causal relationship between CO2 levels and atmospheric temperature. The fact that the historical data matches the model predictions certainly does not, in and of itself, prove (apart from mathematics, we really don't have the idea of "proof" in the sciences) the validity of the models; it is, however a strong argument for this validity. That's the reason people care about the historical data.

These same models have recently been show to be robust in predicting future trends, as well, which is another reason to put some stock in their validity.

The way I like to look at it is this: Let's say there's a 1% chance that the models are valid, and that increasing CO2 concentrations will lead to increased temperature. (The actual chance is probably much greater than this, but for the sake of argument, let's say 1%). It's easy to predict, from these models, the economic impact of climate change. These guyspdf put it in the tens of trillions of dollars (that's discounting the human cost, of course, death and suffering, etc.) Doesn't a simple risk-management philosophy call for an investment of hundreds of billions of dollars (1% of the predicted cost) to prevent such a scenario?
posted by mr_roboto at 7:58 PM on January 3, 2006


People still think the climate change idea came from observation of climate changes and might therefore be explained by non man-made causes?!

The climate changes being observed today are the first of the predicated results of modeling the effects of the man-made gases being added to the atmosphere, modeled and predicted decades ago.

It doesn't matter if the sun is changing or whatever claptrap is the vogue of the moment, the man-man effects will occur on top of and in addition to all of that, and are not insignificant.

What it means for my future, I have no idea. Buy cheap land in northern Canada maybe?
posted by -harlequin- at 8:00 PM on January 3, 2006


Legislating the actions of human beings in order affect global climate change is like yelling at buffalo for grazing in yellowstone.
posted by benightedly_heedful at 8:01 PM on January 3, 2006


PareidoliaticBoy: silly pacifist.

Meredith, I will read the article, and not just look at the graph. But what I can say now is that if it's "either 10x or 100x, that sounds pretty imprecise to me.

In any case, I will continue to not own a car and take mass transit for the foreseeable future.
posted by ParisParamus at 8:02 PM on January 3, 2006


Buy cheap land in northern Canada maybe?

If things keep going the way they are headed, it'll be beachfront property up there soon enough.
posted by clevershark at 8:03 PM on January 3, 2006


Paris: I simply did a google search for "human impact on CO2 levels." That was the first article that came up, published in late 2000. There are over 3 million more results if you want to do the search yourself, and I suggest you should, if you really believe there's no proof we're causing CO2 levels to rise.

But props for taking mass transit. I don't have that option, so I bought a civic hybrid about a year ago. If everyone tried to do something, hopefully it won't be too little too late.
posted by Meredith at 8:09 PM on January 3, 2006


"Doesn't a simple risk-management philosophy call for an investment of hundreds of billions of dollars (1% of the predicted cost) to prevent such a scenario?
posted by mr_robot at 10:58 PM EST on January 3 [!]"

Yes, if in fact that's the cost/benefit ratio.

Good luck (and I don't mean that in a facetious way) persuading the public there's a problem. We may need some Cat 6 hurricanes to do that. Or flooding, or something.
posted by ParisParamus at 8:11 PM on January 3, 2006


ParisParasmus: IF WE CAN REDUCE POLLUTION AND CO2 EMISSIONS, GREAT, BUT THERE'S NO PROOF THAT WE'RE CAUSING CO2 EMISSIONS TO SPIKE--

Actually, there is. Discussed previously on AskMe.

From that thread: my favorite global warming graph.

JekPorkins: Yes, if only we can belittle our political adversaries, then we can solve the world's problems.

Blaming is a form of escapism.
posted by russilwvong at 8:16 PM on January 3, 2006


Good luck (and I don't mean that in a facetious way) persuading the public there's a problem. We may need some Cat 6 hurricanes to do that. Or flooding, or something.

Paris is right about this. The only thing that would convince the public that there's a problem is if Jesus Christ came down from heaven on a golden fucking staircase and told them himself.
posted by puke & cry at 8:23 PM on January 3, 2006 [1 favorite]


"Paris is right about this. The only thing that would convince the public that there's a problem is if Jesus Christ came down from heaven on a golden fucking staircase and told them himself."
posted by puke & cry at 2:23 PM AEST on January 4.

Nah. Not even then. If that happened, the Neocons would ask what his agenda is. They'd say he has a book to sell, or a movie to promote. All the while O'Reilley and Limbaugh would be reminding us of the fact that this is a guy who admits to having sex with a prostitute. Before you know it, Jesus' credibility would be shot.
posted by Effigy2000 at 8:31 PM on January 3, 2006


Even that sea level rising thing doesn't seem that bad. I live on a hill.
posted by smackfu at 8:34 PM on January 3, 2006


ok. so, my father is a meteorologist/oceanographer. he is a scientist. he was in the American Navy for 20+ years, worked at the pentagon, wore a uniform, saluted the flag, was a good american, etc. the poster boy for the american right. earned his masters degree at the navy college in Monteray, California. his graduate work involved identifing the "el nino" weather pattern, in the early sixties. he is convinced we are screwed. so, where does this fit into the mold which seems to be mindlessly repeated in this post, of the left vs. right? for christs sake stop simplifying this into the simplistic level which our propoganda money machine is rubbing its hand in glee over, and start figuring out how you are going to explain this to our children and grandchildren behind them.
posted by tarantula at 8:36 PM on January 3, 2006


Oh and PareidoliaticBoy, I realize PP angers up the blood, but that was kind of off the deep end.
posted by puke & cry at 8:41 PM on January 3, 2006 [1 favorite]


hm, the comment is gone now, presumably flagged to death so I will quoteth:

As I assume you might be a human being Paris, I'm going to have the coutesy to respond to you once. This is once, and once only, PP. I've been reading this forum for 4 years, and I recognize you for what you are.

You are the cork up the asshole of human progress. Proof positive that abortion might be a good thing. A contemptible bit of badly mis-engineered DNA. A darwinian dead-end, reason's own nightmare. You're not worth the gunpowder to blow up. Pissants like you fed the killing machines of every fascist empire in history. A snivelling coward and a contemtible troll, the depths of your rotten withered soul are proof postive that there is no God.

I will never respond to anything you say, ever again. Now, fuck off.

posted by puke & cry at 8:42 PM on January 3, 2006 [1 favorite]


Oh. And as for TunnelArmr, who derided some of the laypeople in this thread, including me, for thinking that this evidence is "alarming" and turning it into a discussion of Kyoto, I just want to say that the reason I included it in the original discussion is because the political debate that this story has aroused has encompassed discussion on Kyoto.

The conservatives in power here in Australia, the Liberal Party, were the ones to announce the information that 2005 was the hottest year on record (for us, but as other links in this thread have shown, for the rest of the world also), and then they immediately mentioned that Kyoto was a failure and that they would instead use avenues such as the Asia-Pacific Partnership for Clean Development and Climate agreement to try and find ways of cooling things down. In short, they want to keep doing what we're doing, not join Kyoto, and find a technical soloution to the problem instead.
posted by Effigy2000 at 8:43 PM on January 3, 2006


Which is still not great, but even as a mere layperson, I can see it's better than nothing. Though I think, as a mere layperson, that Kyoto would work better if Australia and especially the United States got behind it. If the US took the lead and threw its weight behind Kyoto, as someone who has a keen interest in politics (and is in that respect by no means a layperson), other countries like Australia would sign, and countries that are signatories but arent really keeping to the agreement would be more inclined to do what's required of them.

Which leads me to say that the Howard Government's plan of looking to technology via the Asia-Pacific Partnership for Clean Development and Climate agreement to solve climate change isn't great, but as far as I know, it's more than what Bush and the US is doing.
posted by Effigy2000 at 8:48 PM on January 3, 2006


By the way, it's important to distinguish serious efforts to reduce pollution and CO2 emissions from Kyoto, which is just the latest BS endeavor to make the US look bad.
posted by ParisParamus at 8:57 PM on January 3, 2006


I'm so tired of people automatically associating global warming with human factors. Yeah, the earth has been heating up in recent years, but all the evidence suggests that atmospheric temperatures are cyclical and we're bouncing back from a markedly cold period in the earth's history. Maybe the earth's "normal" temperature is warmer than you think.

I'm sick if bitches like you buying Exxon paid for propaganda. Let me guess, you're a big fan of Intelegent Design, too?
posted by delmoi at 9:02 PM on January 3, 2006


By the way, it's important to distinguish serious efforts to reduce pollution and CO2 emissions from Kyoto, which is just the latest BS endeavor to make the US look bad.

True, true, utter tosh. The USA was closely involved in the original Kyoto negotiations. It was hardly some scheme cooked up to make the US look bad - unless you'd like to explain the logic of your statement?

Still, you are correct, Kyoto means diddly squat in the big picture of what needs doing.
posted by wilful at 9:05 PM on January 3, 2006


By the way, Carl Zimmer has a really great blog about evolution, the science and the politics. here is an interesting blog post of his about anti-anthropogenic climate change people (I used to say anti-global warming, but that's rather ambiguous, no?). He shows an example of how people who disclaim global warming selectively quote-mine scientific research in the same way ID people do.

The crazy thing is that I personally emailed Zimmer about this very issue before, saying how I felt that 'anti-global-warming' people are similar to anti-evolutionists in tone and style, and got a reply. Zimmer is the third moderately famous person to personally respond to an email (along with Lawrence Lessig and Glenn Reynolds). I feel special :P

Zimmer's blog is awesome if you're interested in science.
posted by delmoi at 9:12 PM on January 3, 2006


True, true, utter tosh. The USA was closely involved in the original Kyoto negotiations. It was hardly some scheme cooked up to make the US look bad - unless you'd like to explain the logic of your statement?

Duh, Kyoto was negotiated by a democratic government, and everyone knows the democrats hate America just as much as the Chinese.

By the way, isn't the UK on track to meet Kyoto?
posted by delmoi at 9:14 PM on January 3, 2006


Duh, and which government decided Kyoto would be suicidal for the economy?
posted by ParisParamus at 9:31 PM on January 3, 2006


Delmoi, no, the UK is not. But because it recently switched away from coal to gas, it looks like it is. Except that the gains will be limited and short-term.
posted by ParisParamus at 9:33 PM on January 3, 2006


The great thing about climate change is that it doesn't effect the likes of us much. Our quality of life may be impinged upon in some way, but we wont suffer massively as we live in prosperous and powerful countries.

Those who are suffering now and who will continue to die or live chaotic lives are the poor of the world. Whether we are talking about Kashmir/Pakistan or New Orleans it is the poor who suffer and die almost exclusively. They don't have the luxury of discussing whether or not global climate change is a serious issue because they are too busy surviving it's consequences.

Clearly, the way to impact global climate change is through less consumption of energy, this would result in an 'economic downturn' in just about any model that one can predict. The unsustainabilty of our present way of life is to blame. This is not an easy subject for many people to consider, ensconced as we all are within the web of greed that sustains our saturated capitalist lifestyles.

Ironically, the few of us (globally speaking) who could make some impact will be the last to suffer the worst effects of our societies' excesses. We will continue to fly, drive, aircondition and heat our way toward climate disaster. The metaphorical late-onset diabetes that we will experience will come too late to save the health of the planet.

One way to think of the environmental pollution synomymous with our high-octane lifestyles is as deferred genocide. Whilst it is obvious that the human race cannot all live in the luxury that we enjoy, it is tragic that those who would appreciate a taste of what many of us take for granted will die as a consequence of our apathetic inertia.

It's getting hot in here, so turn the heating off, I don't want to get a fucking big gas bill. - MC Pitman Flash and RealPlayer twattery

Brown coal, brown air, brown future!
posted by asok at 9:40 PM on January 3, 2006


Jesus, this is like a Fark thread.
posted by interrobang at 9:48 PM on January 3, 2006


By the way, it's important to distinguish serious efforts to reduce pollution and CO2 emissions from Kyoto, which is just the latest BS endeavor to make the US look bad.
posted by ParisParamus


oh come on. i was just about to say 'i really have enjoyed the give and take in here tonight, between paris and mr roboto and others.' but that comment !? wtf dude. watch fox news much ? don't tell me you don't have a tv paris. you could have stolen that line about " . .. latest BS endeavor to make the US look bad " from bill o'reilly. come on man.

i think you have been having us on about the tv , and maybe thats not all :P
posted by nola at 9:49 PM on January 3, 2006


If the 2005 hurricane season is not enough to wake some people up nothing will. Not because the season was caused by climate change (we wont know for sure until long after the fact). But because even if the season is within normal natural variation (it broke all records), it demonstrates how normal natural variation can cause 21st century civilization incredible damage. This is not your grandfathers civilization. If your not worried about the possibility of weather getting significantly worse in the future, and the possibility that man has influence over it.. well, it's unpatriotic and downright un-American. Ask the people of the Gulf Coast.
posted by stbalbach at 10:12 PM on January 3, 2006


"The great thing about climate change is that it doesn't effect the likes of us much. Our quality of life may be impinged upon in some way, but we wont suffer massively as we live in prosperous and powerful countries."

I wouldn't be so confident about that. Chaotic systems have a funny way of flipping things upside down and wreaking havoc that nobody ever considered possible. I wonder if temperature changes won't cause problems at the /bottom/ of the pyramid of life (both macro and nicro) that will then extinct those at the top. Look at the Aztecs and Native Americans. Both wiped out by germs from relatively unhygenic europeans who had been incubating them for centuries. If you look at the world right now, who are the Aztecs?
posted by muppetboy at 10:30 PM on January 3, 2006


Niced idea muppetboy, but I would suspect those who live in 'permanent' housing have the edge over those who live in 'shanty towns' as regards the effects of extreme weather.

Bird flu, or some similar potential epidemic could do a good job of thinning the numbers, but I would once again suspect that more money would mean more likelihood of survival at the top of the pyramid.

Personally i think that we could learn alot from the Aztecs. Were we to kill soccer players after a match their ludicrous wages might seem justified. Also, it would contribute to a general atmosphere of justifiable sacrifice. ; >
posted by asok at 10:51 PM on January 3, 2006


Want a conversation about alleged anthropogenic climate change? 'Don't feed the trolls'.

The two charts I noticed above didn't help much, but there are extensive collections available.

I thought these pages


http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/2005/

seem to sum it all up, with a LOT of graphics; but maybe only enough to give a good feel for what's changing without looking at the math and tables behind the pictures.
posted by hank at 11:03 PM on January 3, 2006


By the way, it's important to distinguish serious efforts to reduce pollution and CO2 emissions from Kyoto, which is just the latest BS endeavor to make the US look bad.

I actually kindof agree with this. Kyoto isn't great; it's mostly politics. Again; see my earlier links for a better approach...
posted by mr_roboto at 11:27 PM on January 3, 2006


I have one question about that graph that mr roboto posted. Could it be that temperature and CO2 levels are correlated because when temperature goes up more plants grow and pump out more CO2?

Not that I doubt that CO2 emissions from the industrial revolution aren't effecting climate now, i'm just wondering about that graph.
posted by afu at 1:18 AM on January 4, 2006 [1 favorite]


I thought plants pumped in in CO2 and pumped out O2?
posted by wtfchuck at 1:59 AM on January 4, 2006


but if a higher temperature allowed a higher biomass in genreal it still might pump out more CO2

My question is just why they think the causality is CO2 to higher temp, rather than higher temp to higher CO2?
posted by afu at 2:29 AM on January 4, 2006 [1 favorite]


AIUI, the UK is going to meet the Kyoto target (thanks to the coal-to-gas switch), but is not going to meet the higher targets that the new Labour government set itself in 1997.

That said, there is a lot of stress about climate change in Britain at the moment, and the Chief Scientific Advisor (Prof. Sir David King) is a loud voice pushing for more action.

I tend to agree with Cassius:
When these prodigies
Do so conjointly meet, let not men say
'These are their reasons; they are natural;'
For, I believe, they are portentous things
Unto the climate that they point upon.
posted by athenian at 4:59 AM on January 4, 2006


the current Administration is in absolute denial of the facts.
A very good book covering this is The Carbon War by Jeremy Leggett (sample)

I came away with an understanding that goverments simply arent going to change anything (like increase the tax on air travel) until it's far too late.

If you want to make a difference then taking direct personal action i.e choosing to fly less, choosing not to drive an SUV, will have far more effect then rallying for a different political party.
posted by Lanark at 5:01 AM on January 4, 2006


Look. Even assuming global warming is happening--it might just be a natural cyclical thing--and even assuming human activity is affecting the warming--again, not clear--things like Kyoto are basically a "take from Peter to pay Paul" approach to a solution. Not only is Kyoto not going to solve the problem (because most of the world, even excluding the US is exempt), but the vibrant economy that will come up with a real solution (whatever that might be) will would be severely impacted by adherence to a Kyoto-like approach.

So, while I don't endorse the Bush Administration's PR skills, I do endorse there approach.

Kyoto=a lot of hot air.
posted by ParisParamus at 5:29 AM on January 4, 2006


THEIR, not there!
posted by ParisParamus at 5:32 AM on January 4, 2006


Paris, I am glad to see that you approve of tougher, more binding international controls on greenhouse gas emissions. So much of the current administration's argument rests on out-of-date ideas of indivisible national sovereignty that it's refreshing to see you step up to the plate and say 'Kyoto is not enough - we need more!'

I'm right behind you.

Of course, that's not quite the Bush approach...
posted by athenian at 6:21 AM on January 4, 2006


Let's build some new nuclear plants and decommission some old coal ones. That'll do a hell of a lot more to ameliorate CO2 emissions than any number of treaties.
posted by darukaru at 8:08 AM on January 4, 2006


because when temperature goes up more plants grow and pump out more CO2?

as wtfchuck said, plants turn CO2 into oxygen. Animals are the ones that pump out the CO2, and when those animals cover the plants in concrete and build lots of machines that pump out even more CO2, we get the greenhouse effect.

Sure, there could be a natural cycle of periods of imbalance - more animals or more plants would change the percentages... animals are always producers of CO2, which is good since plants need it (& vice-versa, animals need the oxygen plants produce). The problem arises when the balance is thrown off, though. In a completely natural cycle, if the species can't survive in those temperatures, it will just die off and the planet will go on, new species will develop to use whatever gases etc there are to use. So I don't think we have to worry about the planet, especially. But if we want humanity to continue, we should start paying attention. We've only really been around maybe 100,000 years; civilization maybe 10,000; industrialized global civilization is the tiniest blip in this planet's history - a couple hundred years. Dinosaurs lived for millions of years (the Jurassic era was 70 million years long).

So we are setting ourselves up to just be an insignificant hiccup in the course of nature*, if we don't take seriously the power of nature. We start thinking it doesn't matter because we'll just develop technology to deal with it, but I think that underestimates what we're up against. We can do some very cool stuff with our ingenious inventions, but it's still dumb to fly too close to the sun.

*yes, we can argue this is the case no matter what, but in a sense it doesn't truly become the case until we've wiped ourselves out or been wiped out by external forces. It is not impossible to imagine that we could last a very long time if we take seriously our responsibility to nature, as a part of nature. you can guide things without struggling against them.
posted by mdn at 8:51 AM on January 4, 2006


"I wouldn't be so confident about that. Chaotic systems have a funny way of flipping things upside down and wreaking havoc that nobody ever considered possible."

Quite right, muppetboy. A massive, prolonged drought across the US Midwest, coupled with torrential rains around populated areas like the West Coast and Northeast would be just the sort of thing that's possible with climate change.

And that would be quite uncomfortable for the top end of the pyramid, methinks.
posted by zoogleplex at 1:39 PM on January 4, 2006


things like Kyoto are basically a "take from Peter to pay Paul" approach to a solution. Not only is Kyoto not going to solve the problem (because most of the world, even excluding the US is exempt), but the vibrant economy that will come up with a real solution (whatever that might be) will would be severely impacted by adherence to a Kyoto-like approach.

You don't actually know a thing about Kyoto, do you? It's based in lvery arge part on trading carbon and market based solutions.
posted by wilful at 2:02 PM on January 4, 2006


The Kyoto Protocol is too little and too late, not to say it's a horrible thing but it's just not enough. It won't singificantly reduce a rise in average global temperature.

By the way, for anyone still debating the existence of global warming should take a look into the last 40 years of oceanographic research. How the Manua Lao curve corrolates to the rise of average global temperature, how current carbon dioxide levels are higher than in every natural ice age cycle, and so on. Putting that all together this isn't a suprise, isn't the average global temperature already 1 degree higher? You look at the mini ice age during the time the Vikings settled Novia Scotia was only an average of 3 degrees colder, and you'll see that this is significant.

On Preview: looks like I'm just summarizing everyone.
posted by vodkadin at 11:13 PM on January 4, 2006


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