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If global warming is real, why is it cold outside?
June 20, 2010 1:24 AM   Subscribe

"...Arctic sea ice – frozen seawater that floats on the ocean surface – is now at its lowest physical extent ever recorded for the time of year, suggesting that it is on course to break the previous record low set in 2007.
...
Earth has been 0.65C warmer over the past 12 months than during the 1951 to 1980 mean, and that the global temperature for 2010 will exceed the 2005 record."

2010 set to be the warmest year on record.
posted by p3on (306 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm just going to preempt every possible objection to this report.

Ok, so I read this book by the Jurassic Park guy and it had some graphs and stuff which said global warming was made up and also that one scientist said he lied in the emails and thats just like evilution which scientists also believe in.

So global(ist) warming is not happening but if it is happening we didn't cause it because of sunspots and if it is happening it will also be good for the economy because we can grow oranges in Canada but it's not happening.

I remember when I was a kid and everybody talked about global cooling and the TV man said that everything would be cold but now everything is hot and why can't these scientists make up their minds its because they need grant money to live on because scientists don't have real jobs like me I'm currently in between jobs (used to work at the paper mill but got closed down 8 years ago and went to China) but thats because of Obummer and socialism.

I don't get why people love spotted owls more than Americans God gave us dominion over the animals not the other way around. We love owls more than human babies that we murder in the womb so think about that liberals.

Also its colder than a witches teat over here in Sparkplug, MO so I don't get what everybody is saying about global warming it all sounds like a bunch of crazy atheist talk and read the 5,000 Year Leap it's about freedoms.
posted by Avenger at 1:38 AM on June 20, 2010 [187 favorites]


Seriously, it's just painful at this point that we have to deal with climate change deniers, whose sole motivation at this point seems to be either a fanatical worship for industry or a brain disease that makes them constantly seek contrarianism.

Yes, global warming is real - it's not some giant conspiracy so climate scientists can get grants to buy porsches and Al Gore isn't some snake oil salesman. The Earth we will leave to the next generation is fundamentally different from the one we inherited. A distressingly large portion of our population is gleefully shitting all over the family china.

I guess in the future, I'd like to see less posts about how real global warming is, and more about how a good standard of living will be achieved in this vastly different world.
posted by heathkit at 1:38 AM on June 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


more about how a good standard of living will be achieved in this vastly different world.

imho we'd need to start by scouring the webz for verified or valid information on the conditions emerging due to these changes, considering them the shifted frames of reference for starting over

its easy to say its going to be the environment, increased material and resource scarcity, shrinking wallets etc but is that necessarily the only changes or are there more nuanced elements involved as well?

what about the timing and duration? will the transition happen overnight or will take a generation or two? does that imply that there is an interim change period with different conditions than the final outcome? in that case will new systems be adaptable and thus evolve towards these new conditions? or if we're unable to predict them with any degree of accuracy, would we design systems that are self evolving and adapting based on the feedback from the operating environment?

finally how do we redefine "good standard" and also for whom?
posted by infini at 1:53 AM on June 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


I remember when I was a kid and everybody talked about global cooling and the TV man said that everything would be cold but now everything is hot

Well, what about that? I mean, had we done what the TV people told us to in the 70's, such as coating the ice caps with ash and whatnot so that they would absorb more heat, we'd be pretty well fucked now, right? I wasn't alive in the 70's, but my parents sure were and this is exactly why they have zero respect for the current environmental movement, which decries global WARMING. Someone explain this? To a genuinely curious progeny of parents who came of age in a world that was evidently getting colder in 1978?
posted by deep thought sunstar at 2:01 AM on June 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


If I believe the end of the world means Jesus, or the Mahdi, comes back, what incentive do I have to postpone it?
posted by orthogonality at 2:12 AM on June 20, 2010 [7 favorites]


Still can't say I agree with "global warming" theorists. Climate change? Well, yeah... but isn't it always changing?
posted by dhdrum at 2:16 AM on June 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


finally how do we redefine "good standard" and also for whom?

That's kind of the rub. My feeling is that a lot of what we can generally call 'global warming contrarianism' is actually anti-globalism. It's a lot of people in energy-intensive societies (mainly the U.S.) who think that their lifestyles are going to be sacrificed for the benefit of people in Bangladesh or something. I.e., they don't see how the problem, if it exists, would affect them and therefore they don't want to do anything that would require changes in any event. But because they realize it's impolite to say "well fuck those guys," they instead attack the underlying science. But the argument isn't about the science so it doesn't make sense to respond to it in that way.

There seem to be two responses: one, make people in the U.S. care about people in Bangladesh (or Fiji, or other areas that will be immediately affected by climate change); two, point out ways that people in the U.S. will be affected in the short term. I think the second option is the easier one, but I am admittedly somewhat cynical.

The weirdest thing that you notice, if you have the questionable fortune of being near people who really bang on the anti-global-warming drum, is that there's a huge undercurrent of fear. And really, it seems to boil down to a fear that it's all just a sham to somehow chip away at their lifestyle and redistribute it to others. It has nothing to do with global warming per se — in some cases anti-global-warming people are actually pro (in the sense of being obsessed with) peak-oil-crisis people. So it's not always "the world's perfect, I don't want to hear anything bad." The hatred of anything related to global warming / climate change is very selective and rooted in deep insecurities about their position in the world.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:22 AM on June 20, 2010 [38 favorites]


I'm an environmentalist who doesn't buy the global warming ideas. Does that make me bad?

Pragmatically, you won't be able to tell me apart from someone who believes in global warming. I think we are polluting the environment. I think the amount of garbage we produce is destroying the environment. Species of animals are dying at an alarming rate. Forests, which sustain us and these species, are disappearing. The ocean is being overfished and over-polluted.

I've believed in all of the above things since I was young - way before anyone talked about global temperature changes. I'm not sure I believe the Science. And it is too tightly wrapped up with politics at this point, too. Can't I just keep doing what I have always been doing?
posted by vacapinta at 2:22 AM on June 20, 2010 [12 favorites]


Still can't say I agree with "global warming" theorists....

Really? You don't "agree" with them? Like the way you don't "agree with" wearing white after Labor Day, or string ties, or red wine with fish?

You're not qualified to "agree" or disagree. Sorry, I know that's so elitist, but it's the case.

You don't get to "agree" or "disagree" unless you have a graduate degree or the equivalent in a relevant discipline. I mean you can, just like you can "disagree" about the curvature or lack thereof of the Earth, or what 7 + 8 equals, and just as usefully.
posted by orthogonality at 2:24 AM on June 20, 2010 [81 favorites]


Above to dhdrum, not to vacapinta, who is, presumably qualified to disagree.
posted by orthogonality at 2:26 AM on June 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


And really, it seems to boil down to a fear that it's all just a sham to somehow chip away at their lifestyle and redistribute it to others.

I agree, although below the blather about watermelons and econazis and so forth, there is an actual eco-socialist movement.

i.e. just because you're paranoid it doesn't mean they're not out to get you.
posted by MuffinMan at 2:32 AM on June 20, 2010


2010 set to be the warmest year on record.

Just a statistical anomaly. On the other hand, a cool day in May definitively proves that global warming is bunk.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 2:34 AM on June 20, 2010 [12 favorites]


2010 set to be the warmest year on record.
except for the UK, which has a standing backstage pass to rehearsals for the next Ice Age.
posted by MajorDundee at 2:35 AM on June 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


.
posted by fourcheesemac at 2:51 AM on June 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


on vacapinta's words

- while I was never able to attend Texas Tech's Environmental Engineering program though I'd been admitted as a high school senior and ended up taking a different path, I hear what you are saying. there's a part of me that agrees with you - to be honest, I don't know why and how regarding 'climate change' per se but its undeniable what is happening to our environment (biosphere? i remember those guys going to live in a bubble as an adolescent) and the way we're polluting it. It was brought home during last months' visit to China where I observed the precautions locals took against "toxins" on general principles, aware in a way that we who live in 'cleaner' or more regulated societies aren't (and should be).

on Kadin2048's thoughts

what's interesting about the conundrum you pose regarding the shift in the "global standard of living" and those that are fighting tooth and nail to maintain the status quo, is that they're acting on the belief that its a zero sum game.

imho, the shifts that are taking place and the challenges we face are inevitable and almost impossible to reverse - if we have indeed consumed a significant proportion of our resources and are continuing to piss on our own legs (gulf oil spill anyone?)

that means that the change in teh standard of living is going to happen anyway - already the 'richest' nation on earth is facing multiple economic and social challenges that it didn't just a couple two three decades ago.

the fear of course is that poor bangladeshis or tongans will be blamed for this rather than the impersonal systems of economic growth and industrial production based on waste/consumption/productivity that were set into place about 60 odd years ago

the point is that "standard of living" is almost always equated with "two cars/microwave/leisure vacation" rather than relooking at it and redefining what it might mean in the context of the changes that we are already facing

rather, i see it like "water finding its own level" - where earlier there were bottlenecks to information and wealth flow, today that balance has shifted/is shifting/under transition

if "quality of life" can be redefined for humanity as a whole - in the context of the systemic changes taking place to our common residence - then perhaps it wouldn't have the pressures that we seem to be perceiving right now

meaning I don't see it as a zero sum game. I don't see it as a loss to my standard of living here if someone needs food or shelter there

not if we can redesign the system itself based on new principles emerging from the changes to our operating environment instead of being stuck thinking that what we've got going is the only way there is

because either way ALL our standards of living in OUR lifetimes are going to change if they haven't already done so

/there's more here, need to think and articulate it better
posted by infini at 2:51 AM on June 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


So for the people who have a hard time believing that humans don't have any impact on the climate: what do you think the consequences are for burning nine million barrels of gasoline of gasoline every single day for years on end? If you don't think this has an impact on the climate, how many millions of barrels of gasoline do you think would need to be burned daily before it did? And this is only counting gasoline consumption United States. It seems crazy to me that we could be releasing unimaginable amounts of carbon into the atmosphere on a daily basis and somehow not be making even a small dent.
posted by mullingitover at 2:56 AM on June 20, 2010 [17 favorites]


When they run out of water in the Southwest, that will be the only thing that convinces deniers.

except for the UK, which has a standing backstage pass to rehearsals for the next Ice Age.

Northern Europe is clement only because of the gulf stream. Warm the planet too much, turn off the gulf stream, and Europe gets a lot colder even while the American SW becomes uninhabitable.
posted by maxwelton at 3:11 AM on June 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


I mean, had we done what the TV people told us to in the 70's, such as coating the ice caps with ash and whatnot so that they would absorb more heat, we'd be pretty well fucked now, right?

Why would you listen to TV people? Were they also "experts" like some we have now?

But to answer your question, no Ice Age was predicted in the 70s:
So global cooling predictions in the 70s amounted to media and a handful of peer reviewed studies. The small number of papers predicting cooling were outweighed by a much greater number of papers predicting global warming due to the warming effect of rising CO2.
posted by Bangaioh at 3:26 AM on June 20, 2010 [29 favorites]


I have this irrational feeling of optimism, because Obama said he would get us off fossil fuels. I know it's probably ridiculous to actually think it might happen, but for some reason, I can't help but believe that man.

He'll have to get China on board next.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 3:29 AM on June 20, 2010


since we're talking about the historic reasons for global warming and one of the best known changes made was that of the way refrigerators worked, I'm curious to know how long ago that was and would such old fashioned fridges still be in the market? wouldn't enough time have passed that even a ten year old working fridge met the new standards?

i ask because I just came across this piece on the banning of refurbished fridges in Uganda, something that will impact the income of many small storekeepers and cafes etc
posted by infini at 3:31 AM on June 20, 2010


"warmest year on record". And just how long has man been keeping accurate records of earth temperatures?

I'm still ambivalent about global warming. I have no doubt that man's industrial civilization is having some effect on the earth's weather; but considering the earth is several billion years old, the minimum scientifically-proven weather sample size would have to be at least a few hundred thousands years to be convincing one way or the other.

Unfortunately I won't be around long enough for it to matter much. =(
posted by rmmcclay at 3:38 AM on June 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


To a genuinely curious progeny of parents who came of age in a world that was evidently getting colder in 1978?

The Global Cooling Myth. You know, this shit is pretty googleable. It's not in code, or hidden or anything.

Vacapinta, I'm not going to get into why you disagree with over 90% of climate scientists, every national scientific body on Earth, every government, the notoriously timid and careful UN, and pages and pages of data & peer-reviewed research clearly demonstrating the effect, in favour of carbon-polluting multinationals, the lobbyists they fund (the literal same ones who said smoking didn't give you cancer), right wing think tanks, non-climate scientists and weathermen, but guess what dude? You don't believe in science not Science, and you haven't even bothered to educate yourself. The information is out there, it's everywhere - despite the best efforts of the multi-national carbon cartel - and easily understandable. You have made a choice, not to read it, not to engage.

Does it make you bad? Sure, a little. Mainly, it just makes you ignorant, just like people who don't believe in evolution, a heliocentric solar system, the silliness of homeopathy and other arrant health nonsense, the safety of vaccination, etc etc and sound off about it. You are one of these people. Take the time, educate yourself. It's easy. It's pretty scary once you understand what's happening - terrifying, actually, I now understand the fear my parents had as children of nuclear war - but I believe it's your responsibility, as a citizen, a human, a parent perhaps, a voter, a living being on a planet we are unambiguously changing in irreversible, likely irreparable ways.
posted by smoke at 3:43 AM on June 20, 2010 [45 favorites]


Please don't call me a denier, but the presentation of data often doesn't help. Look at:

Earth has been 0.65C warmer over the past 12 months than during the 1951 to 1980 mean,

I want to believe that this is an objective evaluation and a significant result, but it is impossible not to notice that 1951 to 1980, without some explanation, is a strangely arbitrary period. What was wrong with 1950? Then you can't help wondering why they've chosen a mean anyway, and it naturally comes to mind that that's something you might do if you wanted to avoid drawing attention to a lot of variation, variation which might suggest that 0.65 of a degree isn't necessarily significant.

I'm sure there were good, objective reasons for these presentational choices, but in the current context, doesn't presenting data in a way that naturally raises this kind of question risk doing more harm than good?
posted by Phanx at 3:47 AM on June 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


rmmcclay: that's why they use tree ring samples and ice cores. Tree rings go back several thousand years, in some cases. They can then tie those records to ice cores from glaciers, and then go back much further into deep history. It's not perfect, but ice cores are quite accurate when measured against tree rings, so presuming that they're pretty accurate going further back is reasonable.

The science is already pretty convincing. I saw a comment from a climate researcher once. He said, approximately, that usually scientists just make observations, and the media hypes it to the moon, making it sound much more important than it actually is. In the case of climate change, however, it's the scientists that are very upset, jumping up and down and yelling alarm, and they almost never do that. Yet, in the only case he's aware of where the scientific opinion is very close to unanimous, and that consensus opinion is that extremely urgent action needs to be taken to avoid climate catastrophe, the media badly underplays it, and gives far too much credence to 'contrary opinions' that have little weight or real authority behind them.
posted by Malor at 3:51 AM on June 20, 2010 [17 favorites]


imho and I could be wrong, but I read vacapinta's comment to mean more along the lines of "climate change information has been so buggered by all these parties that its almost undeciferable, otoh, its undeniable that our planet is changing and we're harming it"

or at least that's how I see it.
posted by infini at 3:57 AM on June 20, 2010


Phanx, here's a lovely post all about running means, chock-full of pretty much all the graphs you can poke a stick at.

tl;dr? Anyway you slice it - except using 1998 as a base (which deniers do, _all_ the time) - we're pretty fucked.
posted by smoke at 4:00 AM on June 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thank goodness. I'm one of those naturally chilly people, and I can use every .65 degrees I can get.
posted by planet at 4:02 AM on June 20, 2010


"warmest year on record". And just how long has man been keeping accurate records of earth temperatures? ... the minimum scientifically-proven weather sample size would have to be at least a few hundred thousands years to be convincing one way or the other.

Is 740,000 years long enough for you? Fucking mouth breathers.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 4:08 AM on June 20, 2010 [23 favorites]


To answer the title question - even if it was rhetoric:
This site gives a good overview about nearly every denialist argument used out there.

Except: "It's the pirates!"
posted by Triton at 4:16 AM on June 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


What is needed is nothing short of a vigorous new critical global politics of innovation. As much as other areas of public life, the directions taken by innovation are a matter for legitimate democratic engagement and challenge.

This requires fundamental redistributions of attention, resources and power. The result will be a flourishing of a more vibrant and creative diversity of pathways – scientific, technological, organisational and social. It is only in such ways that human ingenuity may truly rise to the imperatives of poverty alleviation, social justice and environmental sustainability.

posted by infini at 4:20 AM on June 20, 2010


When they run out of water in the Southwest, that will be the only thing that convinces deniers.

It won't convince them. They'll just blame liberals for not doing enough to prevent or fix the situation.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:20 AM on June 20, 2010 [9 favorites]


He'll have to get China on board next.

China is already on board. It has been for some time.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:25 AM on June 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


maxwelton, Kirth Gerson
"It won't convince them. They'll just blame liberals for not doing enough to prevent or fix the situation."

Even if it does convince them, it would not change anything immediately. Hoping for geoengineering and ccs provides another convenient excuse.

Convincement ladder:
1. It is not happening
2. Maybe it is happening, but it is not our fault
3. maybe it is happening and our fault, but it is not harmful
4. maybe it is harmful, but we cannot do anything about it
5. maybe we can do something, but the "future tech" will sort it out
6. maybe ... oh, we actually have to change something personally.

If you move someone from step 1. to step 2. there is still a long way to go. Even then, there are still the sidetracks of "i don't plan to have children anyway" and "the market will handle it". I really despise the last one.
Worth a try, though.
posted by Triton at 4:30 AM on June 20, 2010 [8 favorites]


For all the various degrees of skeptic here, please go read this New Scientist piece. If you still have questions, the people at Real Climate have answered them. Yes, all of them.

If you're going to keep questioning the science, you ought to at least read up on it.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:31 AM on June 20, 2010 [34 favorites]


Feeling perpetually fucked in 5...4...3...2...∞
posted by ZaneJ. at 4:37 AM on June 20, 2010


on the other hand, it'd be interesting to muse upon the thought that while country A faffs around figuring out whether all believe or not before actually doing anything about it, countries B to Z plus institutions 1 to 15 take steps to observe, identify and respond to the changes
posted by infini at 4:38 AM on June 20, 2010


We are talking about waaay different levels of "on board". Sure, China is investing in solar power. That should be appreciated. But they would be stupid not to. Everyone is these days, there even is BP Solar.
And we all know they are really concerned about the environment.

What sacrifices would really be needed is still unclear, but definitely more than any big industrialized country is showing so far.

(I don't want to attack Obama or those Chinese politicians making the right choices. Just playing Devil's advocate here.)
posted by Triton at 4:40 AM on June 20, 2010


"I'm not convinced" is not an argument.
posted by LogicalDash at 4:47 AM on June 20, 2010 [28 favorites]


Pragmatically, you won't be able to tell me apart from someone who believes in global warming. I think we are polluting the environment. I think the amount of garbage we produce is destroying the environment. Species of animals are dying at an alarming rate. Forests, which sustain us and these species, are disappearing. The ocean is being overfished and over-polluted.

And all of those are probably just as big a problem as climate change, and certainly a lot more worrying in the short term.

I'm also annoyed by the disproportionate amount of attention global warming gets compared to all other environmental problems because I imagine the (completely implausible) scenario of everyone getting their act together and drastically reducing GHG emissions to somewhat acceptable levels, only to be greeted with further environmentalists' demands regarding biodiversity, water stress, topsoil loss, resource depletion, etc.

"What, you mean I have to stop eating fish now? Won't you environazis ever shut up?"
posted by Bangaioh at 4:54 AM on June 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


I am so disappointed in the quality of knowledge and thought demonstrated by some in this thread. I thought MeFites were better informed.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:58 AM on June 20, 2010 [10 favorites]


Jeez, I'm ignorant like people who don't believe in heliocentrism! And a little bit bad, too! Tell THAT to the people who don't think I belong at the biker bar! (just a LITTLE bit bad...)

Having presented evidence that major changes in past climate were associated with variations in the geometry of the earth’s orbit, we should be able to predict the trend of future climate. Such forecasts must be qualified in two ways. First, they apply only to the natural component of future climatic trends – and not to anthropogenic effects such as those due to the burning of fossil fuels. Second, they describe only the long-term trends, because they are linked to orbital variations with periods of 20,000 years and longer

Righto, smoke. I may be a little bit of a bad person, but this article that you linked to proves anthropogenic global warming in which way exactly? I know, I know, I quoted the parts that were self-serving... because I'm a little bit bad, but ignorant? Really? I'm part of the..."carbon cartel?" I don't think homeopathy is silly? I don't think vaccinations are safe? Those are some fairly unwarranted attacks upon a not entirely stupid and not at all hostile question.
posted by deep thought sunstar at 4:59 AM on June 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


He'll have to get China on board next.

China is already on board. It has been for some time.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:25 AM on June 20 [1 favorite +] [!]


Erm...

investing in green energy != stopping climate change

China has been racing full throttle towards coal energy. They're still behind the US in per capita carbon emissions, but considerably past the US in total carbon emissions. China has doubled its use of coal over the last 10 years.

Jesus, if that's what "on board" looks like, we are totally screwed.

We're totally screwed, aren't we?
posted by Salvor Hardin at 5:00 AM on June 20, 2010


You're not qualified to "agree" or disagree. Sorry, I know that's so elitist, but it's the case.

You don't get to "agree" or "disagree" unless you have a graduate degree or the equivalent in a relevant discipline. I mean you can, just like you can "disagree" about the curvature or lack thereof of the Earth, or what 7 + 8 equals, and just as usefully.
excuse me, but what the fuck, orthogonality? if we all had to have advanced degrees to have an opinion on something, each post would get about 2 legitimate comments--possibly from experts in the field who may well disagree with each other--and the rest of the thread would be pinheads arguing about qualifications. and for the record, i have an advanced degree in assholism, and i can spot 'em when i see 'em.
posted by msconduct at 5:02 AM on June 20, 2010 [7 favorites]


Thanks, smoke - a useful discussion which sort of confirms my point:

The NASA graphs use the 1951-1980 mean while NOAA uses 1901-2000. No doubt they have their reasons. I would prefer something like 1850-1880 or whatever is deemed best to represent the pre-industrial temperature.
posted by Phanx at 5:07 AM on June 20, 2010


2010 set to be the warmest year on record.

There's nothing you can do about it. Move on. Be kind to others. Pay your bills. Don't let your emotions become engaged with issues over which no one has any control that turn you into a hater.
posted by Faze at 5:14 AM on June 20, 2010 [6 favorites]


When they run out of water in the Southwest, that will be the only thing that convinces deniers.

Yeah, no, I'm pretty sure that will probably turn out to be the fault of illegal immigrants somehow, just like everything else that happens to the poor, downtrodden, underrepresented white republicans of the southwest.
posted by elizardbits at 5:15 AM on June 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


No worries, Phanx, I agree it can be very confusing with regard to temperature means. :)

Deep Thought Sunstar, neither of my links were "proving" anthropogenic climate change; they were both responding to specific questions from mefites, one from you and one from Phanx. If you still think global warming needs proving, frankly you're probably beyond my help.

The takeout from your comment is not "Science is wrong about global warming!!", it's "People on tv [or more accurately like two magazines] are not scientists and make bad policy development advisors!".

Those are some fairly unwarranted attacks upon a not entirely stupid and not at all hostile question.

The second part of my response was dedicated at Vacapinta's superstitious ignorance - not yours, which I clearly stated - which was a statement not a question, and was both ignorant and also hostile to the vast majority of life on this planet, which is plenty hostile for me.

However, If you are superstitious, please feel free to apply what suits, read some, you know, science about climate change and get back to me. I see, however, that your "genuine curiosity" has curbed somewhat.
posted by smoke at 5:18 AM on June 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


if we all had to have advanced degrees to have an opinion on something, each post would get about 2 legitimate comments

That's quite a disingenuous interpretation of orthogonality's comment. Try "if you want to disagree with people who do have advanced degrees in the topic under discussion - lots and lots and lots of such people sitting on a mountain of evidence that would stretch from here to the moon and back that's been peer-reviewed to death and still standing stronger than ever - you'd be best be able to put up in some sort of authoritative manner. If you can't, then you're just the sound of even more drool hitting the steadily warming pavement."

Short version - what makes you think you're smarter than the experts? Because if you're not, we need extraordinary reasons to listen to you.

(waits for somebody to trot out 'but those guys in Superfreakonomics said...')
posted by obiwanwasabi at 5:28 AM on June 20, 2010 [22 favorites]


I have to join vacapinta on this one. Pull the science away from the emotionalism and end of the world agendaists and I'm on board. Pull the science away from the luddites and anti-technologists and I'm on board. Pull the science away from the progressives/liberal/marxists who want to score political points and I'm onboard. Lump the science in with all the other challenges facing the planet and I'm on board. Pull the science away from a few authors/alarmists who've made big bucks on the subject and I'm on board. "But wait.... we can't separate these things out." Then I'm not on board.
posted by Xurando at 5:33 AM on June 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Why does climate change make people so angry?
posted by planet at 5:34 AM on June 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


You may have trouble convincing people that global warming is real, because the data is pretty noisy to the average layman.

But, here's what you can convince people of: Eventually, and sooner rather than later, we need to find some way of generating energy that doesn't rely on burning things, because we are going to run out of stuff to burn.

For your US friends, point out how relying on burning things makes the US dependent on the middle east; if we can get the energy we need from non-burning-things sources, the US can send its troops home.

The point is, even if you can't convince them that global warming is a problem, you can convince them to take the actions that will correct global warming by other means. Changing their actions is more important than changing their minds.
posted by JDHarper at 5:39 AM on June 20, 2010 [9 favorites]


The point often missed in terming China and India big emitters is that
global warming is not caused by current emissions of GHGs but by their
accumulated stock in the atmosphere. Once released, these gases can
stay in the atmosphere for up to 100 years. A tonne of CO2 emitted by
industrial revolution-era Britain in the late 1800s is almost as bad as a
tonne of CO2 emitted by China or India today. So, EU with 16 per cent of
current emissions accounts for nearly 27 per cent of cumulative
emissions, ranking second only to the US. For the UK, an early
industrialiser, the difference is even more pronounced: its historic share
is nearly three times its current share. Conversely, the historic share for
many developing countries is sharply below their current share of global
emissions. China's and India's cumulative shares (7.6 per cent and 2.2
per cent, respectively, since 1850) are only half their current shares.


reference

note: the author was part of the Nobel prize winning team etc etc
posted by infini at 5:40 AM on June 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


excuse me, but what the fuck, orthogonality? if we all had to have advanced degrees to have an opinion on something, each post would get about 2 legitimate comments--possibly from experts in the field who may well disagree with each other--and the rest of the thread would be pinheads arguing about qualifications

There are posts where unscientific (call it "commonsense") opinions are perfectly acceptable because the topic is about culture or history or sociological phenomena. That's most of the FPPs at any given time.

Then there are posts where advanced degrees are necessary to make an informed opinion: Supreme Court decisions, for example, usually end up being two lawyers arguing the ramifications while the rest of us weigh in about what we think is going on but end up looking undereducated.

Then there are a few that fall somewhere in between.

I really don't care what your opinion is as to whether or not global warming is happening-- I look to trained experts in that regard-- however feel free to comment about what you personally plan to do or what you think the USA should do or even where you think a good place to buy land might be. In other words comment away, but denying global warming at this stage will just get you dismissed as a babbling child.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 5:41 AM on June 20, 2010 [18 favorites]


it is impossible not to notice that 1951 to 1980, without some explanation, is a strangely arbitrary period. What was wrong with 1950?

What's arbitrary about it? It's thirty years, even. Count it on your fingers - I'll wait. If they started counting at the start of 1950 they'd have to stop counting at the end of 1979, and you'd be all "hurf durf what happened to 1980? Why are scientists so strangely arbitrary? Why are they so shifty? What are they trying to hide?"

Nothing will convince you, because Science Is Hard and You Are Too Dumb And/Or Too Lazy And/Or Too Willfully Ignorant To Learn (and apparently the same is true of simple arithmetic, at least for you). They could have presented the data year by year and you still wouldn't be able to understand it and so you'd still be suspicious of it.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 5:43 AM on June 20, 2010 [17 favorites]


Xurando you are confusing the message with the messengers. The science - the facts are there - it's up to you what you do with them; don't blame others for your own ignorance and suspicion.

Planet, it's because it's literally the end of the world as we know it, our trivial actions today are going to kill literal billions of people in the future, action is being delayed and hjijacked by companies and people that have historically killed thousands and cared nothing for the welfare of the planet or its citizens, and people are too lazy/unquestioning/ignorant to do the kind of research a high-schooler could manage to see that:

a) this is happening
b) it's our fault
c) we're screwing ourselves and everyone else

It's like if we're in a plane about to crash into a mountain, and you're complaining about the quality of the in-flight peanuts, and whether we've heard what the mountain thinks about all this. That's why.
posted by smoke at 5:45 AM on June 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


Why does climate change make people so angry?

It doesn't. Idiots who can't subtract simple numbers in their head and so are willing to watch the planet burn as a result make people angry.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 5:47 AM on June 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Having not read all the research and investigated the findings for myself, I'm pretty glad I fall on science's side by default.
posted by bonaldi at 5:51 AM on June 20, 2010


Then I'm not on board.
posted by Xurando at 8:33 AM on June 20 [1 favorite +] [!]


Unfortunately, you are on board, unless you plan on catching the last flight out from the U.S.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 5:55 AM on June 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


I didn't mean that it's unfortunate for us that you're on board. I just meant...nevermind. Disregard as snark.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 5:56 AM on June 20, 2010


What really depresses me is that the arrogance of unfounded opinions on display here are precisely the sort of hubris that's going to wreck this planet. No doubt, humans will continue to exist — but they sure as hell will not be existing at anything approaching our current standard of living and comfort.

Way to fuck-over your children, folks. Way to fuck them over.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:57 AM on June 20, 2010 [7 favorites]




Smoke
,It's like if we're in a plane about to crash into a mountain, and you're complaining about the quality of the in-flight peanuts, and whether we've heard what the mountain thinks about all this. That's why.

Years ago I was on a flight and we it a big band of turbulence and the plane fell what seemed a thousand feet. A woman behind me stood up in her seat and screamed at the top of her lungs "We're faaaaallllliiiiing." When we didn't die we all turned around and glared at her. That's why.
posted by Xurando at 6:05 AM on June 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


In New Brunswick, it was 31 degrees yesterday. I had to end up sleeping on my living room's couch just to be able to fall asleep.

This isn't relevant, because in no way does one location's temperature for one day (or one year) give any evidence for or against global climate change. But I just woke up and my back hurts.

I don't understand (or maybe just don't agree with) this statement:

Pull the science away from a few authors/alarmists who've made big bucks on the subject and I'm on board.

The alarmists, as people above have said, are the scientists. Sure, there will be people trying to cash in on it, but that's true of every topic. Would you also claim that you don't believe in, say, the HIV/AIDS pandemic because the people who talk about it will get research grants / tenure / speaking gigs / whatever from it?
posted by Lemurrhea at 6:06 AM on June 20, 2010 [7 favorites]


but they sure as hell will not be existing at anything approaching our current standard of living and comfort.


this aspect, to me, is a debatable point or rather its a maybe/maybe not. we don't know what will emerge from innovation or science looking at all of these issues

we didn't know that we needn't use paper for envelopes and postage anymore to send mail for example until it embedded itself and changed our daily interactions

similarly, I hope for such changes even as we go out to discover how to manage in challenging conditions yet still be considered demanding customers

*drools at thought of poking around such things*
posted by infini at 6:06 AM on June 20, 2010


Xurando, your experience with turbulence on a flight years ago has completely overturned the entire science and foundation of global warming. I'm so glad you are in this thread to demonstrate how and why they go it wrong.

I'm sorry, I know I shouldn't snark; it adds nothing and is unlikely to convince you (I don't know what would, but that's another question), but when I see this facile, eyes wide shut nonsense. I mean, have you even read anything that the _real_ scientists are saying about climate change? Even one page of the IPCC (a best case scenario, I might add). It saddens me, even more than it scares me, it saddens me. My children will inherit a dark future, simply because people couldn't be bothered.
posted by smoke at 6:10 AM on June 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Pull the science away from the progressives/liberal/marxists who want to score political points and I'm onboard.

haha what
posted by cmonkey at 6:13 AM on June 20, 2010 [17 favorites]


As someone who used to be a CC skeptic, what it took to convince me was not people calling me a moron or appeals to authority (which of course are the opposite of helpful--"Why don't you believe in God...are you smarter than the Pope?") or even current events, but specific directions for me to educate myself further. Kirth Gerson's New Scientist links are a great place to start. CC Deniers are indeed assholes that deserve our scorn, but CC Agnostics just need more and better educational resources along with the right approach: Say: Skepticism is good...it is the scientific attitude. But in order to make statements about the subject beyond "I Don't Know" you have to do the work yourself to uncover the complexities of climatology. Please disregard anyone who isn't a scientist presenting a rational explanation or anyone who is a scientist who is talking bullshytt, on either side. Then make up your own mind, one way or the other. But keep in mind that if you dismiss the body of evidence that has been amassing for the past 20 years or so, you also have to take a stance on what policies should be taken by the human race. This isn't theoretical. So after you've read all of the evidence for and against, consider the implications of disregarding what could be a devastating trend.

In the end I choose to believe that CC was real based on the work done by a variety of scientists that made it very likely that it was happening, though not "proven," because it seems like a safer choice: either we spend valuable resources to improve the climate and make individuals lives better because the world is getting warmer, or for no reason at all. Either way we win.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:22 AM on June 20, 2010 [8 favorites]


Smoke, who says I can't be bothered. You have no way of knowing that. All I am saying is politics and emotional "the sky is falling" arguments make it very difficult to hear the science inside.
posted by Xurando at 6:23 AM on June 20, 2010


Pragmatically speaking, I too am a moderate environmentalist who doesn't believe in global warming. Oh, I believe that there might be some climate change going on, and it might have a very, very negative effect on certain parts of the world, maybe even mine, but I find it's unhelpful except to the sort of person who is religious about these things- and yes I know people who explain how everything up to that big tsunami are all our fault thanks to some sort of secular global retribution against the sinful life of polluters.

Growing up with Captain Planet and Fern Gully, as a child I was indoctrinated with this stuff in an emotional, non logical fashion, it therefore makes me skeptical when it gets trumpeted as moral rightness and the latest Armageddon prophecy. I believe in not peeing in the village water supply, I try to buy organic when I can afford it, and I’m against superfluous plastic packaging and the mentality (and urban planning) that says that everybody needs at least one car to function, but I can think of a lot of better reasons, like air quality or soil health, that can be immediately and easily measured.
posted by Phalene at 6:26 AM on June 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


Xurando, that's not really what you're saying at all. What you said was you are not on board. Coal and oil companies and those that make money are trying to make it difficult to hear the science, but even they are not succeeding.

Given you seem to think the whole thing is some kind of commie conspiracy, in lieu of actually discussing any facts, I feel quite confident that the only (if any) info you've read is coming from buffoons, shills or cranks somewhere along the denialist spectrum. I also say this because there are a plethora of scarily convincing, easily googleable links (some in thread, even) for anyone interested in learning more about this.
posted by smoke at 6:28 AM on June 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why does climate change make people so angry?
posted by planet


Talk about ungrateful!
posted by gman at 6:38 AM on June 20, 2010 [6 favorites]


Pull the science away from the emotionalism and end of the world agendaists and I'm on board. Pull the science away from the luddites and anti-technologists and I'm on board. Pull the science away from the progressives/liberal/marxists who want to score political points and I'm onboard.

Is pH freighted with agendaist luddite anti-technologistic marxism? (Actually the first question should be what the fuck is an "agendaist," but never mind . . .) And never mind, either, about mean global average temperature. If this whole weather v. climate thing's beyond you and seems politically problematic, set it aside for a moment.

The aggregate pH of the world's oceans has declined from 8.2 to below 8.1 since the dawn of the industrial revolution, owing to the oceans' absorption of excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This is a process known as "ocean acidification" - just one of the empirically observable consequences of anthropogenic climate change.

On our current trajectory, the pH will continue to decline past the point where corals and the algae species known as zooxanthellae that live symbiotically with the corals can work together to form expelled coral skeletons into calcium carbonate - the engine of coral reef growth. When this "commitment" point is reached, it will trigger a mass extinction event in nearly every coral reef on earth. Marine scientists are divided only on whether this commitment point is half a century or just a decade or so away. When you speak to them candidly, they are even more alarmed than they come off in their strongly worded public alarm calls.

The reason they are so alarmed is because a mass extinction of all the world's oceans will be an ecological and human catastrophe that will make this BP spill look like a child's oopsie. Imagine coastal communities with populations numbering in the hundreds of millions losing their livelihoods. Imagine a quarter of everything that lives in the oceans losing the origin of its food chain. These are not possible outcomes of acidification - they are inevitable consequences.

When agendaists like myself suggest that "skeptics" or otherwise unconvinced lay people lack the knowledge and training to make credible counter-arguments, what we mean - or what I do, anyway - is that unless you've at the very least read a book like this one by Charlie Veron, former chief scientist at the Australian Institute of Marine Science, you simply don't have enough information to evaluate whether climate change is happening or not and why and what it means. Because Dr. Veron is absolutely unequivocal in his certainty about acidification and its catastrophic consequences, and the scientific data and argumentation in his work has not been refuted anywhere in the literature. If his whole book is too much for you, then maybe just read this or listen to this.

If, however, this is your first encounter with phrases like "ocean acidification" and "mass extinction" and "commitment" (in the context of acidification), then truly you don't understand the scope and scale of the climate change problem, and truly it is ignorant in the most basic sense to claim to be unconvinced, because you lack far too much crucial information for the word to even mean anything.
posted by gompa at 6:40 AM on June 20, 2010 [96 favorites]


While I'll grant obiwan's contention that innumeracy and apathy are infuriating, it's pretty clear that climate change does make people angry. Group A gets angry because in spite of an unprecedented scientific consensus, in spite of every bit of evidence pointing in one direction, there are some reasonable people of good faith still vacillating and fidgeting in the face of the single most irremediable existential threat our species has faced.

Group B (to which I admittedly do not belong) are mad because, I can only guess, "science" is telling them that the life to which they believe they have an absolute right is not just unsustainable, but affirmatively dangerous. They tend to think that "science" is more or less a special interest group fundamentally at odds with their worldview anyway, and so when science tells them that the earth is not in fact a giant bonbon with an infinite creamy nougat center of resources for them to exploit for ever greater material wealth and creature comfort (to which they aspire and feel manifestly entitled), this feels like its own sort of existential threat.

When Group A fails, as it often does*, to explain the issue in the way a genuinely curious layperson can understand and instead resorts to in-group shortcuts and even occasionally a derisive dismissiveness of those who don't "get it," both groups retrench.

I'm eliding the fact that Group B tend to be respectful of almost any sort of authority except that of expertise. I do not understand this and my explanation is no doubt impoverished by this fact.

* I will certainly grant and maintain that this issue does not lend itself to simple explanations that remain inherently meaningful. That is, this is complicated stuff.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 6:41 AM on June 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


(That should read ". . . mass extinction of all the world's corals . . .")
posted by gompa at 6:42 AM on June 20, 2010


Oops again. "Mass extinction of all the world's coral reefs . . ." Dammit.
posted by gompa at 6:42 AM on June 20, 2010


Phalene: if that's your only reason for not believing in a scientific theory you should really examine whether you're making rational choices. Aren't you pretty close to saying "I HATE THE BEATLES BECAUSE CHARLES MANSON LIKES THEM?" Why not evaluate the argument on its own merits rather than let shrill fantasies poison your understand of an important and well-documented phenomenon?

Believe me I understand the desire not to be bullied or tear-jerked into believing in something--but that's not how the actual science is done. Truth is the best revenge.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:46 AM on June 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


I once was a "sceptic" as well, simply because of the way the global warming case was initially laid out for me: a 2 to 4 degrees Celsius increase in global average temperature. I thought: "So what? Humans won't melt because of that."

The thing is, the problem is not the surface temperature increase per se (although it is a factor) but the fact that we are, slowly in a human timescale but very rapidly in a geological one, altering the planet's atmosphere composition, resulting in an energy imbalance that will drastically alter weather patterns all around the globe during the next centuries. The fact that this is not unprecedented in the geological history isn't relevant because there were no humans back then, much less humans with a complex civilisation that is surprisingly sensitive to even small disturbances as a moderate eruption in Iceland.
posted by Bangaioh at 6:48 AM on June 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


infini: "already the 'richest' nation on earth is facing multiple economic and social challenges that it didn't just a couple two three decades ago. "

The fact that this is entirely due to financial and political mismanagement over the last century is as much a cause for concern as climate change. In the face of the huge social and economic problems the US faces, how are people going to do something about GG reduction? Any long-term planning is going to be derided as socialism, and the kind of decisive (possibly radical) political initiatives required will continue to be put off until after the current election cycle. And I don't think the rest of the world is much better off, except for the debt thing.
posted by sneebler at 6:49 AM on June 20, 2010


Smoke, who says I can't be bothered. You have no way of knowing that. All I am saying is politics and emotional "the sky is falling" arguments make it very difficult to hear the science inside.

Not if you fucking look at it. It's science.
posted by scrowdid at 6:54 AM on June 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's about time somebody with no expertise told the world that science doesn't convince them. I'm glad this thread exists.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:54 AM on June 20, 2010 [14 favorites]


This controversy really gets my goat.

I think media people need a lesson in the history of science. I have not studied science since high school, but what I remember of it goes something like this:
1. Someone notices something happening.
2. They test to find/confirm a pattern.
3. They come up with a theory to explain the pattern.
4. The most scientific theory wins.

All that has to happen for an acceptable theory is that the pattern has got to hold and the theory, when assumed and tested, continues to explain it. This is how we came up with the age of the earth, the theory of evolution and global warming. This is, afaik, all scientific theory: explanation that takes account of as much as possible (of what we know) and has as few holes as possible; that does not contradict our already existing science without replacing it with a better explanation.

So here’s global warming. It satisfies all the criteria to be a scientific theory, it does not refute existing science and it is the most widely accepted theory in the scientific community explaining temperature patterns observed not in your town or mine, not on a particularly cold day in June or September, but globally, long term. Like the theory of radioactivity, it explains what is happening and what will continue to happen. But here’s where it differs: it dares to imply that our little human choices, taken as a whole over a large period of time, have consequences. And worse, it implies that if we don’t change our ways, the future will be worse than the present.

So what do we take issue with? That it’s not convincing enough. But how can we be convinced of a theory until we assume it’s true and put it to the test? Reduce emissions, use cleaner technology, control population and slow down the rate at which we’re eating through our forests – then see how temperatures respond. There is no other way to prove or disprove this theory; forget the idiots who can’t look beyond their town or country – the skeptics really need to get on board with the testing.

What else? That it’s become too political. Okay, yes, but what kind of politics? It’s politics that is utterly content with the status quo, it’s the politics of those already in power, that’s what all politics is at the global level. Nations which are concerned with maintaining their own stability at the expense of their citizens, and leaders who are concerned with staying in power by keeping us scared and confused. This is truly petty politics – where a handful of jetsetting brand names have the audacity to jeopardize the entire planet because, oh, the theory of cause and effect isn’t convincing enough to slow down our giddy consumption. And this is what they’re choosing to obstruct, as opposed to, say, British Petroleum. Every time I see Obama talk he’s reassuring the American people with some technocratic platitude or another, but when it comes to global warming he's unmoved by expertise. The skeptics need to pick a side if only to give him some direction, and unless you never step on a plane or use a toaster, you need to get with the scientific program.

I live in India, where every other day temperature records are being broken. (It’s 111 F today, a relatively unterrible day.) Rains are erratic and for as long as I can remember, summers have been getting hotter and the winters colder. Fuck the media - I have memory and I live in the environment, and if the theory in question is correct? The number of people who stand to lose their houses, their livelihood and their lives is too immense to compute. The people of Bombay and of Bangladesh, the farmers of developing countries and citizens of tiny island nations – who have, inspite of their numbers, nearly no hand in this, who have no power to bargain with and who are already bearing the brunt of climate change.

Part of me takes some cold comfort in globalization, because, well, this was always one world and we were always one people. Western money and stability is now tangled up in the rest of the world and every time there’s payback, I cheer a little for reason, which will prevail whether or not common sense does.

Environmentalists have long known that this is a fight not for science but against power, which will not yield an inch willingly. But this is ultimately about taking responsibility for our actions and putting a check on our desires. The problem is not that we are bad people but that we're broken up into countries and colors and professions and politics, and that our shortsightedness is incentivized. That we are coddled in our ignorance and deliberately kept from making larger, non-commercial connections between ourselves and everyone else, between what we do and what it leads to.

So okay, this will not be fixed because hey, where’s the problem?
posted by mondaygreens at 6:56 AM on June 20, 2010 [17 favorites]


I find myself unable to care about global warming. I don't deny it exists, or that it's human caused, but the only solutions to the problem are exceedingly unrealistic forced grand lifestyle changes for most of the first world. I suppose I should feel guilty and join some campaign to fight for greater awareness, but honestly I'd rather just try and forget about it and wait for green energy solutions to offer some sort of panacea. I know that probably won't happen, but honestly anyone who seems to be deeply concerned with global warming just seems focused on making everyone else as depressed as possible, as evidenced by all the comments saying "oh god we're doomed." I mean, yeah, we are - but honestly I just don't care about whining about something impossible to stop.
posted by Bleusman at 6:58 AM on June 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


When I don't care about something, I am polite enough to keep it to myself.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:00 AM on June 20, 2010 [5 favorites]


Your favourite end-of-world-scenario sucks.
posted by Lemurrhea at 7:06 AM on June 20, 2010


since we're talking about the historic reasons for global warming and one of the best known changes made was that of the way refrigerators worked

Wrong problem. We changed refrigerants because the old CFC refrigerants were eating away the ozone layer. While CFCs are greenhouse gases, that had nothing to do with their ban in the 80s.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:12 AM on June 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


Still can't say I agree with "global warming" theorists. Climate change? Well, yeah... but isn't it always changing?
posted by dhdrum at 5:16 AM on June 20 [+] [!]


This is exactly why anyone who believes in Global Warming should use the term "Global Warming" and not "climate change". Global Warming means something different from climate change, and people who use the term climate change in place of Global Warming are basically either ill-informed, apologists or weak kneed and unwilling to stand up for what they believe in.
posted by stbalbach at 7:12 AM on June 20, 2010


mondaygreens: related to that musing is the fact that we're so heavily oriented toward capitalism, and capitalism is primarily dependent on externalizing costs. That is, many, if not most of the manufacturing and construction businesses of the world (where wealth actually comes from) produce large amounts of waste and pollution. They extract the profit, and push some or all of the costs onto others.

This is something that fundamentally is going to have to change, but the people with the money and power won't like that, because they won't have as much money and power if they have to truly pay their own way in the world.

I'm rather libertarian, myself, but it's quite clear that freedom has to give way in this instance. "Externalizing costs" is another way of saying "stealing", and we are not free to steal. The mechanisms to stop that stealing will entail a loss of liberty, and libertarians are likely to fight tooth and nail against the central controls that will be required.

If there's an alternative, though, I'm not smart enough to see it.
posted by Malor at 7:14 AM on June 20, 2010 [5 favorites]


but the only solutions to the problem are exceedingly unrealistic forced grand lifestyle changes for most of the first world.

I don't know what forced lifestyle changes you're talking about. Everything I've done to alter my lifestyle for the greener has been my own choice. Believe me, I only do what I find comfortable. Still, I'm trying something.
posted by scrowdid at 7:15 AM on June 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is exactly why anyone who believes in Global Warming should use the term "Global Warming" and not "climate change".

Not that I disagree, but I figured "climate change" replaced "global warming" in order to help the slow folk who didn't understand how we still had blizzards.
posted by scrowdid at 7:17 AM on June 20, 2010 [12 favorites]


Libertarians shall be free to move to coastal areas so that they can continue to externalize each other's costs and not steal from the rest of us.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 7:19 AM on June 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Truth is the best revenge.

this is the one time in my life I don't want this outcome if it means that we all sit around with our grandchildren looking at cracked earth and sipping our own sweat in a stillsuit

I'd rather dig in a trash heap for lessons learnt today to apply for a better tomorrow

i have to go out now but will be back. i just want to say that participating in this thread this morning has been a crystallizing wake up call that has helped give me the larger contextual framework to hinge the specific areas where my own interests lie

it has also made me realize that contrary to definitions of "get a life" and all that, my work is not simply a job or work anymore but a life's work (though I'm neither a scientist, activist nor policy maker etc)

at least for as long as I am alive

funny how epiphanies can sneak up on you on a sunday afternoon
posted by infini at 7:19 AM on June 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


If sticking your fingers in your ears and chanting "nyah,nyah,nyah,Ican'thearyou!" solved problems, we'd be golden.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:21 AM on June 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


This kinda reminds me of the talk about the collapse in fisheries in Newfoundland. I remember the warnings when i was a child that the fish stocks were threatened, but the fishermen and the Newfoundland government insisted the science was wrong and it could be managed without really reducing the catches. Well the industry collapsed and now fish'n'chips has gone from a cheap meal to a special treat. And the fish aren't coming back. History doesn't repeat itself but it often rhymes.
posted by saucysault at 7:23 AM on June 20, 2010 [30 favorites]



since we're talking about the historic reasons for global warming and one of the best known changes made was that of the way refrigerators worked

Wrong problem. We changed refrigerants because the old CFC refrigerants were eating away the ozone layer. While CFCs are greenhouse gases, that had nothing to do with their ban in the 80s.


to me, irrelevant issue, the point is that the fridge design was changed 30 years ago, why are they banning used fridges in Uganda now?
posted by infini at 7:27 AM on June 20, 2010


This is exactly why anyone who believes in Global Warming should use the term "Global Warming" and not "climate change". Global Warming means something different from climate change, and people who use the term climate change in place of Global Warming are basically either ill-informed, apologists or weak kneed and unwilling to stand up for what they believe in.

From the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change:
"Climate change" means a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods."

For example, the acidification of the ocean isn't really covered by Global Warming. But it's a damn serious problem. Climate Change and Global Warming are both real, and different beasts.
posted by Lemurrhea at 7:31 AM on June 20, 2010


i'm in favor of a carbon tax, even though i think the global warming threat is overblown.
posted by empath at 7:33 AM on June 20, 2010


Unfortunately for you lot who are convinced, other factors are emerging
posted by A189Nut at 7:35 AM on June 20, 2010


Pooh pooh to those who're saying they're too good for all the politics and hysteria, and that if only global warming science came to them unmediated by self-serving media/politicians, they might deign to consider it. This is about avoiding responsibility and denying that actions have consequences. This is about power resisting change.

There's two kinds of fear: one's what Bush used to justify waging war. The other's what the surgeon general tells you to convince you to quit smoking. You're saying, the clarity of the message SMOKING CAUSES CANCER gets in the way of you trusting the science behind it?

You're saying that because global warming would require you to change, you feel entitled to demand purity of intent from media corporations and your government?

Kudos to Bleusman for saying 'fuck the rest of the world' - your honesty is refreshing and deserves response.

Now, what would be an appropriate response to "fuck you"?
posted by mondaygreens at 7:36 AM on June 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Here's an informative video about Arctic ice mass at the end of the 2009 season from Climate Denial Crock of the Week. It's not just area that's been declining (a rebound after the surprising 2007 decline still continues the downward trend); starting at 1:12 is a discussion of the very large decline in *perennial* Arctic ice. At the end of 2009, "only 19 percent of the ice cover was over two years old, the least in the satellite record and far below the 1981-2000 average of 52 percent."

I'm now reading After the Ice: Life, Death, and Geopolitics in the New Arctic by Alun Anderson and it's pretty good on a range of issues, including corporations and governments considering the clear possibility of an "Arctic shipping boom." I've heard The Future History of the Arctic by Charles Emmerson is very good, too.
posted by mediareport at 7:37 AM on June 20, 2010


For example, the acidification of the ocean isn't really covered by Global Warming. But it's a damn serious problem. Climate Change and Global Warming are both real, and different beasts.

This suggests unconnected phenomena. It's like this: greenhouse gases - carbon dioxide, in particular - produced by human industry are causing anthropogenic (i.e. manmade) climate change. Among the symptoms of this larger disease are global warming (due to the greenhouse effect) and ocean acidification (due to absorption of atmospheric CO2). They have the same root cause - GHG emissions.

One of the reasons global warming is a problematic term and increasingly uncommon as the catch-all term in scientific circles is because it refers to only one aspect of a much broader phenomenon.
posted by gompa at 7:37 AM on June 20, 2010 [6 favorites]


I don't really blame the average right-winger for believing the junk science they're presented. Like most people, they believe what they are told by sources they trust. In this case, they are told two conflicting stories. One story is supported by flag-waving gung types who support all of the other stuff they believe in. The other story is supported by just the sort of people they would like to punch in the mouth. Right-wingers don't exactly have a hard time making up their minds which side to believe.

The bad guys are those who do know the truth but who twist it for the sake of ratings. In the US, it's mainly Fox News. If they really believed in the god and the hell they pretend to believe in, Fox heads would turn around right now on this issue and tell their viewers that global warming appears to be real and dangerous, and that people need to adjust their lives to try to slow or prevent it. But they won't do that, because their god is money and their hell is not being rich enough to say "Fuck You!" to the world.
posted by pracowity at 7:46 AM on June 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


Some science on sunspots from the Max Planck Institute
posted by scrowdid at 7:46 AM on June 20, 2010


Unfortunately for you lot who are convinced, other factors are emerging

I hate to sound foolish, but what is "unfortunate" about it?

Some of you talk as if this were a game, with winners and losers. You need to understand that there are no winners: weather destabilization is going to make life very difficult for everyone. The loss of stable water supplies is going to make life very difficult for everyone. The loss of ocean life is going to make life very difficult for everyone. There is no win to be had: climate change fucks us all up.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:48 AM on June 20, 2010 [20 favorites]


What makes people disagree with global warming science? Do they think the methodology is wrong? Do they think the reasoning used to reach the conclusions are wrong? It's science. You can't just say "I disagree" any more than you can say you disagree with the color blue.
posted by scrowdid at 7:50 AM on June 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


So far the best book I have read on climate change is Mark Lynas Six Degrees where the effects, both positive and negative, of each degree is explained and backed up with multiple studies. It is easy to be dismissive of global effects when we experience a six degree flucuation in a day, but that six degree average actually translates much higher at different parts of the world, some that cannot sustain their current environment with the changes in temperature and rainfall/snowfall.

After that depressing read you really need to read The Geography of Hope where realistic, sustainable projects making a difference are outlined. Because when a problem becomes overwhelming it can be tempting to just enjoy the end days and pretend no else will have to face the consequences of our actions.
posted by saucysault at 7:54 AM on June 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh, I totally disagree with the color blue--professional white background for life, yo.
posted by box at 7:55 AM on June 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


The real conflict here isn't so much between science and something else as between gradualism and catastrophism.

In the 19th century, when most of our current political and economic theories were formed, the Earth was regarded as a huge, stable place far too large and well-regulated by natural forces for humans to significantly impact. The Earth and the Universe were seen as stable, nurturing places for life.

This is why, when Alfred Wegener suggested that the continents move around, he was laughed at even though he collected mounds of fossil evidence and any child could see the continents fit together like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle.

This is why, when it was first suggested that the K-T iridium layer might be the residue of an asteroid that caused the K-T extinction event, you were considered a kook. It took many, many years and piles of evidence to come to the current consensus that yes, a big rock from space did show up one day and kill nearly every living thing on Earth. Tough luck, dinosaurs.

It is only in the last few decades that we've really been piecing together how unstable and violent a place the Earth is. Sea level has varied by hundreds of meters. On two occasions in Earth's deep past the whole planet has frozen over. On both occasions the oceans froze to a great depth and only Earth's geology saved the day, pumping out CO2 from volcanoes which wasn't removed by the mostly dormant remnants of life until the greenhouse effect finally started melting the ice. And then the heat ran away, and for more ages it would have been too hot for humans to survive just about anywhere on Earth, but then life saved the day by taking all that carbon out of the atmosphere, laying down thick beds of carbonate rock whose reason for existence in the fossil record was only recently understood.

Recently enough to be witnessed by humans there have been ice ages that covered much of where people are living now under a mile of ice.

And finally, the last insult, the very orbits of planets aren't stable; the stability of our solar system is something of a quirk, with the outer gas giants having settled into a nice harmonically turned pattern. Turns out Jupiter could have just as easily tossed Saturn down toward the Sun, sweeping up all the little dirt like Earth in the process.

And yet gradualism persists as a habit of thought, the nearly religious idea that humans are too small next to God or Nature or the sheer size of the Earth to have a meaningful effect. Well, what the climate scientists are warning us about is a pimple on the butt of what could happen if the Universe really went all Extinction Level Event on us. There is nothing hysterical, unlikely, or unbelievable about the threat of climate change.

It's true that the climate will change even without our help, and we'll have to deal with that, but there is absolutely nothing good that can come from artificially pumping CO2 levels up to a point that has never been seen in our 650,000 years of ice records. The idea that the system will react to such a vicious kick by placidly regaining its equilibrium is just stupid.

Alfred Wegener is back, and he's right again. Don't let him die a laughingstock this time.
posted by localroger at 7:55 AM on June 20, 2010 [64 favorites]


Not that I disagree, but I figured "climate change" replaced "global warming" in order to help the slow folk who didn't understand how we still had blizzards.

Right, which is why during the winter months "climate change" is in vogue and during the summer months most people say "global warming".

But you look even sillier playing games with terms and the slow people notice and distrust the science. The official name of the theory is global warming (look it up) and specifically refers to the warming in the past century or so caused by humans. Climate change just refers to any climate change for any reason at any time anywhere (including Pluto). These terms mean something, use them appropriately otherwise your doing a disservice. Also, "climate change" allows the silent denier to remain silent - he can just chalk it up to natural variation. Global warming forces one to either agree or disagree it is man-made.
posted by stbalbach at 7:56 AM on June 20, 2010


What makes people disagree with global warming science? Do they think the methodology is wrong? Do they think the reasoning used to reach the conclusions are wrong? It's science.

Two possibilities:
1. They don't believe it's science. They've had enough of people telling them that scientists can lie and be bought (hello, tobacco), and want to be wary of people with an agenda, that they think this is just another commie plot to take away their trucks and guns.

2. They don't understand science. They think that further information and understanding (like the sunspots stuff) adds up to an "unfortunately" for people who are acting on the best information available, instead of actually contributing to greater understanding.

Both require different approaches.
posted by bonaldi at 7:57 AM on June 20, 2010


I wish we had a solid, quantitative theory of global warming, i.e. one that can make a numerical connection from human interference and environmental effects. Just look at the Guardian article—all the lay reader can infer is a qualitative causality. The numbers reported in the article are like scattered puzzle pieces; lacking a unifying statement that links the disparate observations together weakens the argument. So, I think that if scientists could make meta-facts such as: "we actually predicted this amount/range of Arctic sea ice loss using our best-validated models of human-induced global warming" as part of casual, public discourse, it would go a long way in communicating the reality of the crisis to non-experts.
posted by polymodus at 7:58 AM on June 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Gompa, thanks for explaining it more clearly than I did.

stbalbach, you are using the terms incorrectly. That's why it's the IPCC and not the IPGW. Look at the link I posted above.
posted by Lemurrhea at 8:02 AM on June 20, 2010


MetaFilter: you're not qualified to agree or disagree
posted by bwg at 8:02 AM on June 20, 2010


Malor: I'm absolutely libertarian - I think we just need to finesse the definition of liberty to include justice. Because, as you said: freedom does not mean the freedom to steal.

So yeah, no alternatives, but there is some hope. Those in power are too few and too arrogant to abide, and I do believe that their hypocrisy is catching up to them. The distance between the rich and the middle class is growing. Technology and globalization have raised the stakes too high, the consequences of our leaders' decisions are becoming too big (financial crisis, BP oil spill, endless war spending) and it's becoming difficult for ordinary people to avoid connecting the dots between all of that and what's happening in our own lives (no jobs, poor health care).

And there's the internet too, which is reducing or at least complicating our dependence on traditional media. I mean, when the writing's on our own wall, we don't really need the media to come into our house and read it for us, and having grown up on "free" media, we're definitely going to resist paying them to do it. The irony is that if we become poor enough, they'll need us to. Advertisers are already pulling away because we have too little money to spend.

So, yeah - part of me (the hopeful part) thinks its just a matter of when the scales tip. I'm not relying on the middle-class to get smart as much as for the rich to be as stupid and short-sighted as the rest of us.
posted by mondaygreens at 8:06 AM on June 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's science. You can't just say "I disagree"

Technically, you can, if you are armed with actual quantitative data from extensive research and multiple studies and have been subject to peer review.

This is not really the case with the most strident climate change deniers, obvsly. Their idea of "peer review" seems to focus on forwarded emails with excessive punctuation, lackadaisical grammar, and comic sans.
posted by elizardbits at 8:06 AM on June 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


Unfortunately for you lot who are convinced, other factors are emerging
posted by A189Nut at 10:35 AM on June 20 [+] [!]


Re: the Newscientist sunspot article. Yes sunspots play a role in climate. As do many other natural variations. The system is complex.

Lets say you have a bathtub of water that is very cold and you want to heat it up. You place a hot metal rod into the water and that does it. However, so does the electric light bulb that is heating the air in the room, and so does your body heat, and so does the heat of tile and the radiant heat from the rooms radiator - all these things contribute to heating the water. The problem is, they don't contribute very much. That's mostly the case with the earth's climate - there is one giant cause of the heating up (greenhouse gases) and lots of small mostly unimportant causes that a few people get overly excited about.
posted by stbalbach at 8:11 AM on June 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


localroger: Absolutely, the history of science is filled with stories of resistance in the face of irrefutable evidence, even by scientists (let alone the Catholic Church etc).

This is why I keep thinking that it's really important to embrace science as the human thing it is and to participate in it as opposed to expecting it to be infallible. Because yes, while what you say is true, I think another thing is also happening: post-Enlightenment/Nietzsche/Richard Dawkins, many of us have replaced God with science - we keep waiting for some 'objective', quantitative proof that will convince us that what is suggested is pure enough to be considered science. This misplaced belief is what the media and politicians are exploiting.

Science isn't pure, it's just grounded. The hypocrisy of power is that this kind of standard (give us proof that this is worth doing before we do it) is applied only to stuff like global warming and taxes, not to Wall Street or war.
posted by mondaygreens at 8:16 AM on June 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


"You're not qualified to "agree" or disagree. Sorry, I know that's so elitist, but it's the case. You don't get to "agree" or "disagree" unless you have a graduate degree or the equivalent in a relevant discipline. I mean you can, just like you can "disagree" about the curvature or lack thereof of the Earth, or what 7 + 8 equals, and just as usefully."

Does Freeman Dyson get to disagree?

You are so full of shit and you sound like some kind of religious fanatic. Geologically speaking we are heading towards another ice age. Does that mean we should just keep spewing CO2 into the atmosphere willy nillly? Obviously not. Prudence is always the better option. One that in this case I agree with, but anthropogenic climate change has not been scientifically proven and that is just a cold hard fact whether you like it or not. Let me be very clear so as not to confuse people. While I am not convinced about global warming I do think we need to exercise prudence and try to curb our usage of fossil fuels and other pollutants. This is for two reasons: 1) aforementioned prudence and 2) 500-1000 years down the road we can look back and see what the actual effects of putting less carbon into the atmosphere were.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 8:17 AM on June 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


bleusman: -- I just don't care about whining about something impossible to stop.

It shouldn't be that hard to stop. Summary of actions required (from an earlier thread):
Obviously, we depend on fossil fuels for power and transport. But we already have the technology to solve the problem. Battery technology has improved fast enough that plug-in hybrid vehicles are already here. We know how to generate additional electricity without emitting more carbon: hydroelectric dams, nuclear power plants, coal-burning power plants with carbon sequestration, renewables.

We can minimize the cost by replacing old equipment as it wears out. Scrapping a two-year-old car is expensive; scrapping a ten-year-old car isn't. The best policy to achieve this shift is a rising tax on fossil fuels, phased in over ten years or so. [British Columbia, where I live, has already done this.] To avoid slowing economic growth, the revenue from this tax can be offset by matching cuts in other taxes, or refunded directly as a dividend.

The atmosphere is global, while any individual country can only set national policy. Therefore, we need agreement that each of the major industrialized countries will either bring in a carbon tax at comparable levels, or have some equivalent policy (like the European cap-and-trade system).

Of course politics is a slow process: it takes time to resolve conflicts between interests and to bring public opinion on board. What should individuals do in the meantime? We can behave as though a carbon tax were already in place. If gas prices were higher than they already are, and you know they were going to keep going up, what would you do? The next time you buy a car, you'd look at smaller, more fuel-efficient cars, or even a hybrid. The next time you need to move, you'd think about finding a place where you don't need to drive as much. If you run a business, you'd anticipate rising fuel prices. Etc.
We're not talking about drastic lifestyle changes; do you really care if your car is powered by an internal combustion engine or an electric motor? Or if your electricity comes from burning coal or from nuclear power?

The reason global warming gets so much attention, compared to other environmental problems, is that it's so hard to tackle. A local environmental problem that affects only one country is comparatively easy to solve. Global warming is going to require coordinated action by all the industrialized countries.
posted by russilwvong at 8:18 AM on June 20, 2010


That's why it's the IPCC and not the IPGW. Look at the link I posted above.

The IPCC did choose CC as being synonymous with GW this is true. That's a huge precedent no doubt. But there still is a difference between GW and CC, as the Wiki articles explain. I think the IPCC has taken some flak by its critics for switching to the CC term as being politically correct - GW was the term with the oldest precedent and what the theory is usually called, the theory of global warming, because the theory says the earth is "warming".
posted by stbalbach at 8:30 AM on June 20, 2010


Freeman Dyson is a British-American theoretical physicist and mathematician, famous for his work in quantum field theory, solid-state physics, and nuclear engineering. Dyson is a member of the Board of Sponsors of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Is any of these a kind of climate scientist? Well, then, he can disagree all he wants, but I'm still going to give a lot more credence to the evidence laid out in thousands of peer-reviewed studies by climate scientists.

Why, look what I found! Climate scientists and others with expertise in the field dismantling Freeman Dyson's arguments!
posted by gompa at 8:30 AM on June 20, 2010 [13 favorites]


localroger: -- there is absolutely nothing good that can come from artificially pumping CO2 levels up to a point that has never been seen in our 650,000 years of ice records.

The latest estimate is that atmospheric CO2 is higher than it's ever been in the last 15 million years. (Earliest proto-humans were around 2 million years ago.)

polymodus: I wish we had a solid, quantitative theory of global warming, i.e. one that can make a numerical connection from human interference and environmental effects.

A good summary:
How much does temperature change for a given radiative forcing? This is determined by the planet's climate sensitivity. The more sensitive our climate, the greater the change in temperature. The most common way of describing climate sensitivity is the change in global temperature if atmospheric CO2 is doubled. What does this mean? The amount of energy absorbed by CO2 can be calculated using line-by-line radiative transfer codes. These results have been experimentally confirmed by satellite and surface measurements. The radiative forcing from a doubling of CO2 is 3.7 Watts per square metre (W/m2) (IPCC AR4 Section 2.3.1).

So when we talk about climate sensitivity to doubled CO2, we're talking about the change in global temperatures from a radiative forcing of 3.7 Wm-2. This forcing doesn't necessarily have to come from CO2. It can come from any factor that causes an energy imbalance.

How much does it warm if CO2 is doubled? If we lived in a climate with no feedbacks, global temperatures would rise 1.2°C (Lorius 1990). However, our climate has feedbacks, both positive and negative. The strongest positive feedback is water vapour. As temperature rises, so too does the amount of water vapour in the atmosphere. However, water vapour is a greenhouse gas which causes more warming which leads to more water vapour and so on. There are also negative feedbacks - more water vapour causes more clouds which can have both a cooling and warming effect.

What is the net feedback? Climate sensitivity can be calculated from empirical observations. One needs to find a period where we have temperature records and measurements of the various forcings that drove the climate change. Once you have the change in temperature and radiative forcing, climate sensitivity can be calculated. Figure 1 shows a summary of the peer-reviewed studies that have determined climate sensitivity from past periods (Knutti & Hegerl 2008).
posted by russilwvong at 8:34 AM on June 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


My father is a professor of pharmacology and he says global warming is bunk!
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:36 AM on June 20, 2010


It's been the hottest summer on record where I am, temps above 90 degrees for at least the past 3 weeks in a row, not interrupted all that much by typical early summer thunderstorms or much of anything else. Normal June temps here are mid-80s. The 90s don't usually happen for days and weeks in a row till July and August. Anecdotal, but there it is.

They asked a woman at an art fair on the news last night why she thought it was unusually hot and she said, "Well, my grandma always said that if you've had a really cold winter, you're gonna have a really hot summer!" That's about the apex of discourse on global warming in this state.
posted by blucevalo at 8:41 AM on June 20, 2010


Does Freeman Dyson get to disagree?

One of the main causes of warming is the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere resulting from our burning of fossil fuels such as oil and coal and natural gas.

--Freeman Dyson (from the linked Edge article, 2007)

My objections to the global warming propaganda are not so much over the technical facts, about which I do not know much, but it’s rather against the way those people behave and the kind of intolerance to criticism that a lot of them have.

--Freeman Dyson

Sure Dyson can disagree. But Dyson, like so man other experts, are just spewing opinion. The real experts know and understand those pesky "technical facts".
posted by stbalbach at 8:43 AM on June 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


The thing that kills me about all of this, is that even if you humor the deniers on global warming (in Science, by definition, you can *never, ever, ever* say anything is 100% true, not about global warming, not about vaccines, not about gravity) -- even if you just say well, there's this thing about changing the climate out there that may or may not be true -- aren't there like a million other reasons why changing as quickly as we can from an fossil fuel based economy isn't *still* a good idea? The oil is going to run out and will get expensive before it does. We continue to fight wars over it. American foreign policy is a slave to the priniciple of cheap oil. It pollutes the air we breathe and gives children asthma. The money we spend on cars and the time we spend commuting in them diminish our quality of life. Accidents on tankers and drilling rigs are costly and ruin entire economies. Oh, and by the way, there *might* be a global environmental catastrophe brewing.

And it's not like getting serious about this issue at a government-level means everyone's going to have to walk the 7 miles to Wal-mart tomorrow. It means that strawberries are going to be more expensive in the winter. It means more of your property taxes will be spent on light rail and less on roads. It means that your next car will be a little smaller but will still get you where you want to be. It means that on your next vacation you might need to rent a hotel room on the beach instead of driving your RV with your ATVs in tow to the desert. The notion that my son might have a significantly worse quality of life because Amurikins are won't accept these kinds of minor changes in their worlds makes me want to puke. I mean, why don't people see how incredibly, incredibly self-centered we've become as a nation?

The global climate change movement needs better P.R. The same oil companies and news media that tell us not to pay attention to climate scientists are the same people who tell us that cutting back on our individual fossil fuel would cause unmanageable hardship in our lives. 2009 was the year that I stopped driving (at least routinely) and I started buying everything locally in a serious way. To be sure, it has been a conscious, radical shift, one that few Americans would accept, but my lifestyle has never been better. I'm healthier, happier, and I spend more time with my family.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 8:44 AM on June 20, 2010 [11 favorites]


It doesn't matter if I agree or disagree with the scientists. I can't do anything about it. I already try to live a low-impact life, i.e. conserving energy, reducing waste, recycling.

The only people who can do something about it are the politicians and corporate leadership. I don't have ANY confidence that they will come to a consensus about the best path forward. So everyone prepare to live in the post-climate change apocalypse and, in the meantime, hope the scientists are overstating the effects.
posted by Roger Dodger at 8:48 AM on June 20, 2010


I remember when I was a kid and everybody talked about global cooling and the TV man said that everything would be cold but now everything is hot
Seriously? People have known about global warming since the 1950s. I was born in the 1980s (in 1980 exactly) and all I've ever heard about was global warming. I think this 1970s global cooling hysteria is something of a conservative retcon, so to speak. Maybe one or two people mentioned it, I know there was an article in TIME, but beyond that I think it's mostly B.S. People were much more worried about the potential for global warming in the 1970s. As they were in the 1960s and 1950s and so on.
I'm an environmentalist who doesn't buy the global warming ideas. Does that make me bad?
Uh, yes?

How is this even a question?
When Group A fails, as it often does*, to explain the issue in the way a genuinely curious layperson can understand and instead resorts to in-group shortcuts and even occasionally a derisive dismissiveness of those who don't "get it," both groups retrench.
The problem is group 'a' as opposed to group 'A'. Lowercase instead of uppercase. Who tell people that there are going to be huge sacrifices and that are actually innumerate themselves who create this false sense of doom. They are also unhelpful. The worst are the people who run around saying "oh, it's already to late we can't do anything now". The truth is putting solar panels on your roof, driving a hybrid or electric car, using renewable instead of coal, and so on are not huge lifestyle sacrifices. Otoh, rising ocean levels will be.

There have been times in the earth's history that the ocean level was far higher, and times when it was far lower. You used to be able to walk from Alaska to Russia. This isn't controversial, it's taught to elementary school students.

The denialism is just insane. Seriously, where does this 'liberal denial' shit even come from?
posted by delmoi at 9:02 AM on June 20, 2010


The only people who can do something about it are the politicians and corporate leadership. I don't have ANY confidence that they will come to a consensus about the best path forward.

I do; they appear to have decided already. Short term gains and making sure the quarterly dividend exceeds expectations is more important that pretty much anything else.

When the path we/they are on is no longer fiscally feasible, they will change it, because that's what they do. I for one hope that the current path either a) becomes unprofitable on its own or b) some outside agent makes it unprofitable.
posted by Mooski at 9:07 AM on June 20, 2010


Arctic Sea Ice at Lowest Point in Thousands of Years
posted by homunculus at 9:11 AM on June 20, 2010


I mean, why don't people see how incredibly, incredibly self-centered we've become as a nation?

In many parts of this nation, there are many people who think that global warming is a form of liberal fetishism and that anyone who would deny anyone else his or her rights as an American to have any lifestyle that he or she wishes to have is self-centered.

As Mark Lilla puts it in his recent essay on the Tea Partiers, "Many Americans, a vocal and varied segment of the public at large, have now convinced themselves that educated elites—politicians, bureaucrats, reporters, but also doctors, scientists, even schoolteachers—are controlling our lives. And they want them to stop. They say they are tired of being told what counts as news or what they should think about global warming; tired of being told what their children should be taught, how much of their paychecks they get to keep, whether to insure themselves, which medicines they can have, where they can build their homes, which guns they can buy, when they have to wear seatbelts and helmets, whether they can talk on the phone while driving, which foods they can eat, how much soda they can drink … the list is long."
posted by blucevalo at 9:11 AM on June 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Regardless of their particular area of expertise, people in the Sciences are familiar with the methods. They are trained to be able to interpret data. They know the study of statistics. If Astro Zombie's father says global warming is bunk, that should carry some weight.

Now, if the statement had been: "My father is a pharmacologist and *I* say global warming is bunk," it would be a different thing.
posted by Trochanter at 9:13 AM on June 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


What if we create a better world for nothing?
posted by tamitang at 9:15 AM on June 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Pull the science away from the progressives/liberal/marxists who want to score political points and I'm onboard.

haha what


In Soviet Russia, climate changes you!
posted by joe lisboa at 9:26 AM on June 20, 2010


Regardless of their particular area of expertise, people in the Sciences are familiar with the methods. They are trained to be able to interpret data. They know the study of statistics.

I'm not a scientist, but I don't think science works that way. Even if a pharmacologist had the requisite "scientific mindset," he'd have to familiarize himself with the data itself and the studies in the field, which a pharmacological training would not prepare him to do.
posted by Bromius at 9:34 AM on June 20, 2010


"dismantling Freeman Dyson's arguments"

That's the weakest dismantling I've ever seen as Dyson doesn't attempt to disprove global warming he just states that there are ways to combat it and is taking the long view that in 200-500 year we will probably be well on the way to understanding complex planetary systems and will be able to terraform planets to our liking.

"The real experts know and understand those pesky "technical facts"."

What technical facts prove anthropogenic warming?

And even if it is anthropogenic what do we do once our culture's carbon footprint is cut down and the climate continues to change like it inevitably will? What do you propose to do then? Shit some other chemicals into the air to change the climate to what we like? Basically what people want to do is not save the planet but save the climate of the last 5000 years. Guess what humans survived the last ice age so I think we will survive a warming. New York City and Los Angeles might not survive it but in the long run that's probably a good thing as the lifestyle that urban areas promote is not conducive to living "in balance" with nature what ever the fuck that is supposed to mean.

Notice I'm not denying that global warming is happening, in fact I'm willing to entertain the possibility that it may be anthropogenic. All I'm saying is we have no frame of reference and that to promote global warming as gospel is ridiculous. Am I saying we should keep polluting our planet? No, I think we should cut down on carbon emissions and try to keep our planet in as good a condition as possible. But really in the long run we can keep the planet in as good a condition as possible and that is still no guarantee of anything. The fact that we know of seven major extinction events should make it obvious to anyone with half a brain that we have way bigger problems to worry about than the planet warming and the sea levels rising.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:40 AM on June 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


You're absolutely right, I'm going to die anyway and I can be hit by a stray bullet when I least expect it, so I might as well not worry about watching out for incoming cars before crossing a road.
posted by Bangaioh at 9:46 AM on June 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


They say they are tired of being told what counts as news or what they should think about global warming; tired of being told what their children should be taught, how much of their paychecks they get to keep, whether to insure themselves, which medicines they can have, where they can build their homes, which guns they can buy, when they have to wear seatbelts and helmets, whether they can talk on the phone while driving, which foods they can eat, how much soda they can drink … the list is long."

Right on! This is a free country, too much regulation and control. But man, what a bunch of whiny irresponsible children complaining they can't do bad things to themselves and others.
posted by stbalbach at 9:47 AM on June 20, 2010


Guess what humans survived the last ice age so I think we will survive a warming.

The fact that we know of seven major extinction events should make it obvious to anyone with half a brain that we have way bigger problems to worry about than the planet warming and the sea levels rising.


Contradict yourself much?
posted by blucevalo at 9:48 AM on June 20, 2010


The "global warming" vs. "climate change" discussion has a tangled history. The phrase "global warming" was coined by Wally Broecker in a 1975 article in Science "Climatic Change: Are We on the Brink of a Pronounced Global Warming?" Broecker uses global warming to refer to a particular type of climate change. The way the phrase is used is to shorten and encompass the idea that "human burning of fossil fuels increases greenhouse gases in the atmosphere which then warm the Earth's near surface temperatures and changes the circulation of both the atmosphere and ocean which then alters sea levels, storm strengths and tracks, drought frequency and severity, heat wave frequency and severity...."

As the scientific understanding of the climate system increased, and more people became aware that this type of climate change could lead to serious problems, activist groups pick up on the phrase but use it without all the caveats and subtleties that the climate science community has internalized. In essence, "global warming" becomes "global warming = bad" in the popular imagination.

That's a nice catchy, simple message that can be used to push for policy changes. Throw in a heat wave or a spate of extreme weather and you have a powerful message.

How do those in opposition argue against that message? One way is to use the Rovian tactic of using the opponents strength against them. Ignore all the science behind the term and redefine global warming as "the earth warming every where all the time". This leads to the joke that p3on plays off on in the title of this post and the cherry picking and highlighting of those few monitoring stations around the world where the temperature is not increasing (i.e. There's no warming in Barstow, therefore global warming doesn't exist.)

Another way to argue against "global warming = bad" is to get rid of the term. This is exactly what Frank Luntz did in his infamous 2002 memo to the Bush administration:

"'Climate change' is less frightening than 'global warming.' ... While global warming has catastrophic connotations attached to it, climate change suggests a more controllable and less emotional challenge”

So now we're left with "global warming = bad" and "climate change = neutral" which leads to lots of claims, some mentioned above, that climate change is perfectly natural and happening all the time, thus there's no reason to worry about this particular change. Interetingly enough I've also seen skeptics accuse those warning about global warming of using the phrase "climate change" as some sort of devious, underhanded way of getting their global warming message across.
posted by plastic_animals at 9:53 AM on June 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


"The fact that we know of seven major extinction events should make it obvious to anyone with half a brain that we have way bigger problems to worry about than the planet warming and the sea levels rising."

Yes, let's stop worrying about humans oppressing and exploiting other humans, let us stop worrying about what's happening and what we can scientifically predict will happen in our own lifetimes - and definitely let us stop worrying about what kind of beaches and resources we will leave for our children. We have bigger problems to worry about, like... a major extinction event?

Controlling global warming is not about caring for the planet. It's about protecting the only place we have to live and raise our kids in.
posted by mondaygreens at 9:53 AM on June 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


"The fact that we know of seven major extinction events should make it obvious to anyone with half a brain that we have way bigger problems to worry about than the planet warming and the sea levels rising."

Um, that is exactly the kind of extinction event we are talking about.
The Term-Prias extinction event was partly triggered by destabilizing methane hydrates in the ocean. Granted, the trigger was a striking asteroid.

But we do have large methane hydrate reserves in todays oceans. They are only stable in cold water. So guess what could trigger them going unstable again?
posted by Triton at 10:06 AM on June 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


Let me clarify: it's not even about protecting our place of living but about keeping it liveable - and not making it unliveable for anyone else.

This doesn't mean you have to come and take care of my house. Sure, my house could burn down tomorrow while yours doesn't. Global warming "alarmists" aren't asking you to worry about my house... just worry about your own house and don't burn mine down - not because you should be good but because basically we live in the same house okay?
posted by mondaygreens at 10:07 AM on June 20, 2010


we will probably be well on the way to understanding complex planetary systems and will be able to terraform planets to our liking.

We're already well on our way to understanding these systems via terms of large-scale climate models. These models account for all the physical inputs to climate that we know about, including those from increased solar radiation, albedo, etc. These models and their parameters are some of the "technical facts" that Dyson didn't bother to investigate, and are currently humanity's best possible estimate of what's going on in the climate. That he didn't bother to look into them before criticizing climate science, despite having the mathematical skills, shows that he's not an authority and can't be trusted more than a random politician. Dyson has ceded any and all scientific authority on the matter, and is just another bloviating uninformed voice on the matter.

What technical facts prove anthropogenic warming?

Our best understanding of the climate system shows that when we include the effect of the CO2 that we can use past measurements to predict future climate. However, when we take out the influence of the anthropogenic CO2 from climate models, predictions become much less accurate, and do not describe the warming trend that we've seen in the last century. It's not like this is a big surprise or anything, it only takes rudimentary physics to show that CO2 should have some input, but it does take more complex models to show that CO2 is largely responsible for the observed warming trends.

I took your question as an earnest question of somebody who really wants to know, rather than the rhetorical question of somebody who has already decided. Since you took an extremely elementary question and combined it with rather strong opinions, it really came across that you have no interest in actually investigating this matter, and only want to influence the discussion towards your pre-determined opinion. I hope that's not the case.
posted by Llama-Lime at 10:08 AM on June 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


This thread demonstrates why we are doomed as a species.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:10 AM on June 20, 2010 [18 favorites]


"You're absolutely right, I'm going to die anyway and I can be hit by a stray bullet when I least expect it, so I might as well not worry about watching out for incoming cars before crossing a road."

Yep that's exactly what I was saying when I said this:

"Am I saying we should keep polluting our planet? No, I think we should cut down on carbon emissions and try to keep our planet in as good a condition as possible."

Prudence is the word of the day children.

"Contradict yourself much?"

How is it a contradiction that I think we will be able to survive global warming because we survived the last ice age with stone tool technology being our highest achievement? My point is that extinction events are rare and that temperature variation has usually not led to extinction but rather to migration. So rather than get all hysterical about the planet warming we should be trying to develop technology that will help prevent extinction level events. Like a meteor impact which would change the environment much more rapidly and much more radically than anything humans could ever do.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:17 AM on June 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


I come from a long line of Democrats, but we have one Republican in our big family. He also happens to be a mathematician, and doesn't beat around the bush when he talks. I asked him what he thought about the "global warming debate," and he said "What debate?" In the circle of hard core scientists, there is no debate about whether or not the planet is warming, nor about why it is warming. The number of posts on this topic, this early in the day, is alarming.

I'm just happy I'm living in one of the few blue zones on the map today. I have no illusions about life in the decades to come. Do global warming deniers think that going back to the good old days could extend to our climate, as well?
posted by kozad at 10:19 AM on June 20, 2010


"Um, that is exactly the kind of extinction event we are talking about."

I'm sorry with all due respect no it's not. I admit I may be wrong about this but somone please link me to a peer review article that proposes global warming is going to cause an extinction level event.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:21 AM on June 20, 2010


I must say I'm very pessimistic. Climatology is complex, and the vast majority of people are not going to be able to investigate it too closely. The dangers are easily dismissed when it requires a ton of reading and education to contradict the naysayers.

A small illustration from the great state of California. We have a senate race on: the incumbent Barbara Boxer (D) vs Carly Fiorina (R). Here's an ad from Fiorina dismissing Boxer's concern about climate change. She shows Boxer talking about how one of the great security dangers we face is climate change. Fiorina's rejoinder: "terrorism kills, and Barbara Boxer is worried about the weather".

The ad in question.

In the latest poll, Fiorina has moved ahead of Boxer. We'll soon have a new senator, and as Obama loses supportive legislators, you can forget about any progress on climate issues.

Boxer is the strongest environmental advocate in the senate. And she's going to lose. Shows you how much the voters really care about all this stuff.
posted by VikingSword at 10:32 AM on June 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


My point is that extinction events are rare and that temperature variation has usually not led to extinction but rather to migration. So rather than get all hysterical about the planet warming we should be trying to develop technology that will help prevent extinction level events. Like a meteor impact which would change the environment much more rapidly and much more radically than anything humans could ever do.

The crises that global warming will probably cause absent significant and immediate action (e.g., tens or hundreds of millions of refugees, loss of coastal cities, collapse of ocean ecosystems, attendant economic collapse, etc) are of such a magnitude that they may prevent the deployment of effective countermeasures against threats like large asteroid strikes. It's hard to maintain a global asteroid monitoring network and develop and mount a countermeasure system when coastal cities that form an enormous part of your economy are now underwater, many people are going hungry, and millions are unable to find work because of ecological and economic collapse.

Anyway, it's a false dichotomy to say that dealing with climate change will mean we can't look for asteroids at the same time. But if we don't deal with climate change we may find ourselves unable to do anything about asteroids or other large scale threats.
posted by jedicus at 10:34 AM on June 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


Kudos to Bleusman for saying 'fuck the rest of the world'
---
We're not talking about drastic lifestyle changes; do you really care if your car is powered by an internal combustion engine or an electric motor? Or if your electricity comes from burning coal or from nuclear power?
---

I'm not saying that I don't want to make lifestyle changes - I feel that though some of them will be quite unpleasant (rationed energy use, the shift of jobs towards manual labor) I would much prefer them to the ones a global warming fueled disaster would bring. I'm saying that any actions I, personally, could do to ebb the tide of global warming are insignificant unless I dedicate my life to it. I already live ecologically but I do not believe it is an appropriate use of my time to dedicate my time to a cause that requires massive political upheavals in order for a possible reversal of current trends to occur. I also do not believe my response to this thread is any more useless than the stream of "welp, we're doomed" comments.
posted by Bleusman at 10:38 AM on June 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Um, that is exactly the kind of extinction event we are talking about."

I'm sorry with all due respect no it's not. I admit I may be wrong about this but somone please link me to a peer review article that proposes global warming is going to cause an extinction level event.


here, here, here

This took me literally like 10 seconds to google and another minute or two to review and make sure they were talking about peer-reviewed papers. There's a lot more. I threw out results pointing to wildlife conservation group studies and such because I figured you wouldn't like that they weren't peer-reviewed and any that did not explicitly contain the phrases "global warming" or "climate change", but many articles that even made it into the mainstream news (CNN in particular, for some reason) talk about how we don't know why certain groups are becoming extinct.

What exactly do you qualify as an extinction event? Are the ones we're seeing or working towards right now not big enough? Ocean acidification, as mentioned up above, is a very significant threat, and will wreak all kinds of havoc. We can't link you to more relevant articles if we don't know exactly what your criteria are, and although I am not a paleontologist, I do work in geology, and to my knowledge the term 'extinction event' can be somewhat vague.
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 10:40 AM on June 20, 2010 [10 favorites]


I'm sorry with all due respect no it's not. I admit I may be wrong about this but somone please link me to a peer review article that proposes global warming is going to cause an extinction level event.

How to kill (almost) all life: the end-Permian extinction event (also reprinted here [pdf]) is a 2003 summary of the Permian-Triassic extinction that proposes in its conclusions section the possibility that the runaway greenhouse effect that probably caused the PT extinction could reoccur as a result of current global warming trends. The paper was published in Trends in Ecology & Evolution, which is a peer-reviewed journal.

No doubt someone more knowledgeable about this area could point you to a paper even more directly on point.
posted by jedicus at 10:44 AM on June 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


somone please link me to a peer review article that proposes global warming is going to cause an extinction level event.

Oh, so now you care about the science.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:45 AM on June 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


I admit I may be wrong about this but somone please link me to a peer review article that proposes global warming is going to cause an extinction level event.

How about one in Nature, one of the most highly regarded peer reviewed science magazine in the world?
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:46 AM on June 20, 2010 [7 favorites]


Oftentimes The Blue reads like Little Green Footballs for party line liberals. On the "global warming" issue I am sympathetic to George Carlin's routine about the arrogance of "Save the planet" crusades.

I know what you're thinking, MetaFilter groupthink: "Oh, you fucking mouth breather, he's a comedian! An ignorant entertainer! Not a scientist and who unequivocally has all the pertinent data and has come to the absolute correct conclusions about it! Wont somebody please think of the children??!!??"

Ecological catastrophe is undeniable, climate change is inevitable, but what ticks me off about the anthropogenic global warming hypothesis is the absurdity of the response to the perceived threat: the extreme examples include unseemly indoctrination of the youth and charging farmers for their livestock's methane gas output. But this thread offers its own examples: the usually urbane and articulate MetaFilter posters are here in this thread foaming at the mouth with rabid zealousness, calling names and using anti-intellectual rhetoric themselves (no, surely only the "deniers" are narrow minded...) and the intelligent users here are actually promoting the carbon tax as a viable "solution", as if purchasing carbon credit indulgences can absolve Mankind for its environmental sins. A "green" police state and carbon-taxes for the average carbon-based individual is the last thing we need right now.
posted by thescientificmethhead at 10:55 AM on June 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


This Smithsonian article claims we are in the midst of just such an event, and we are causing it. See #3.

It doesn't even bring into mention the potential threat of global warming, that's just our future icing on the cake.
posted by Max Power at 10:55 AM on June 20, 2010


Of course we are already causing a great deal of extinctions through simple overconsumption and habitat destruction and tying the extinctions specifically to AGW may not be the simplest thing to do.
posted by furiousthought at 10:55 AM on June 20, 2010


"Anyway, it's a false dichotomy to say that dealing with climate change will mean we can't look for asteroids at the same time. But if we don't deal with climate change we may find ourselves unable to do anything about asteroids or other large scale threats."

I'm sorry if I implied this I think we can and should do both.

"These models and their parameters are some of the "technical facts" that Dyson didn't bother to investigate, and are currently humanity's best possible estimate of what's going on in the climate. That he didn't bother to look into them before criticizing climate science, despite having the mathematical skills, shows that he's not an authority and can't be trusted more than a random politician. Dyson has ceded any and all scientific authority on the matter, and is just another bloviating uninformed voice on the matter."


Did you even watch the youtube videos I posted? He addresses these models. Dyson's point is that we can't gain understanding through models we can only gain understanding through a big picture view of the planetary ecosystem. His argument is that we need to better understand the relationship between carbon reserves(organic biomass) and the atmosphere.

"I took your question as an earnest question of somebody who really wants to know, rather than the rhetorical question of somebody who has already decided."

I have not decided which is exactly my point. It seems most of the people posting here have decided. Again to reiterate my earlier statements I am not against cutting down carbon footprints and exercising prudence. What I am against is the dogmatic nature of the global warming supporters.

Llama-Lime you still haven't shown me anything that would convince me that global warming isn't just part of some natural process of climate change which by the way is going to keep happening one way or the other. To clarify, it might be anthropogenic, it might not be. I don't know and neither does anybody else. Given the current situation we should exercise prudence and attempt to reduce humanity's carbon footprint. I don't understand what is so controversial about my opinion.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:56 AM on June 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Aren't we living through a mass extinction event even leaving anthropogenic climate change aside?
posted by Trochanter at 11:01 AM on June 20, 2010


John Christy, atmospheric scientist, has presented some strong criticism against the IPCC "consensus" process in the Interacademy Council Review of the IPCC very recently:

"disturbing homogeneity of thought"
"surface temperature record is flawed as a metric to detect greenhouse imposed warming"
"climate model [predictions] are failing simple hypothesis tests"
"critical value of climate sensitivity to greenhouse gases was overstated because it was incorrectly calculated"

Listen to a Windows Media version of the sessions. John Christy starts around the 2:12 mark (2 hours, twelve minutes).

Atmospheric physicist Richard Lindzen has also chimed in last year with his lecture Deconstructing Global Warming.
posted by eeeeeez at 11:02 AM on June 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


Sorry, I've already wasted too much time with Dyson speaking outside his field to sit through another youtube video. I'm a biologist, and reading his thoughts on biology have pretty well convinced me that he's not going to have much insight in climate change either. I did read an Edge article of his and an NYTimes piece on his skepticism a while back, and the only concrete thing I could read was that climate scientists believed their models too much. A conclusion he reaches without actually investigating *why* they believe them so much.

His argument is that we need to better understand the relationship between carbon reserves(organic biomass) and the atmosphere.

Something that we do through what? Models of course! Of course, if he had bothered to do any investigation he would realize that biomass and atmosphere do enter into many people's models...

You can't trust somebody as an authority if they have no expertise in the subject (which of course goes for my own words too!)
posted by Llama-Lime at 11:06 AM on June 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


"We can't link you to more relevant articles if we don't know exactly what your criteria are, and although I am not a paleontologist, I do work in geology, and to my knowledge the term 'extinction event' can be somewhat vague."


From the wikipedia article:

An extinction event (also known as: mass extinction; extinction-level event, ELE, or biotic crisis) is a sharp decrease in the diversity and abundance of macroscopic life. They occur when the rate of extinction increases with respect to the rate of speciation. Because the majority of diversity and biomass on earth is microbial, and thus difficult to measure, mass extinctions have little effect on the total diversity and abundance of life, but rather affect the easily observed component of the biosphere.

Seems pretty clear cut to me. The way I am using it is in comparison to the major extinction events that are evidenced in the geologic record. Just because the articles you linked to are using the term vaguely doesn't mean that I am.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:06 AM on June 20, 2010


the extreme examples include charging farmers for their livestock's methane gas output.

Why is that extreme? Methane is a very potent greenhouse gas, roughly 20 times as potent as carbon dioxide. Large scale factory farms and CAFOs are extremely concentrated pollution emitters. Not just methane but lots of other effluents, which can be highly detrimental to water and air quality.

You may have an image of cattle farmers as rugged individualists on horseback watching over a peaceful field of a handful of grazing cows and calves. This is no longer accurate in many cases. This is what a cattle CAFO looks like. These operations are very common, and their pollution profile is significant. Why shouldn't they be regulated?

the intelligent users here are actually promoting the carbon tax as a viable "solution", as if purchasing carbon credit indulgences can absolve Mankind for its environmental sins.

First, you are confusing a carbon tax with a carbon credit system. Carbon credits are usually part of a cap-and-trade system. Carbon taxes are direct taxes on greenhouse gas emissions, typically by taxing oil and other major sources of carbon emissions, like concrete production.

Second, how else would you give people the necessary incentive to stop polluting? Outright regulation (e.g., saying you can only drive X miles a day or somesuch)? That smacks me as much more of a "green police state" than a carbon tax, which would act to shift priorities towards smaller cars, shorter commutes, more efficient housing, renewable energy sources, etc.

Third, why do you think a carbon tax wouldn't work? Lots of economists (including conservative ones) and environmentalists think it would work well, probably better than cap-and-trade in fact.
posted by jedicus at 11:08 AM on June 20, 2010 [8 favorites]


Just because the articles you linked to are using the term vaguely doesn't mean that I am.

The journal article I linked explicitly proposes that current global warming trends may result in the same runaway greenhouse effect that probably caused the Permian-Triassic extinction event that resulted in the extinction of 95% of the species on the planet. I don't know how much more clear cut it can be.
posted by jedicus at 11:11 AM on June 20, 2010


"Llama-Lime you still haven't shown me anything that would convince me that global warming isn't just part of some natural process of climate change which by the way is going to keep happening one way or the other. To clarify, it might be anthropogenic, it might not be. I don't know and neither does anybody else."

You make several strong claims here: "[it's] going to keep happening one way or another." "I don't know and neither does anybody else." Can you provide any peer-reviewed evidence for these claims? Even Freeman Dyson thinks we can influence the climate, and the entire field of climate science is dedicated to knowing, and have made great inroads.

Am I correct in thinking that you believe all of climate science to be a crock? Because if you reject the models, reject the possibility of knowing, and reject that the course of the climate can not be influenced by humans, you really have rejected all the science.
posted by Llama-Lime at 11:16 AM on June 20, 2010


Oftentimes The Blue reads like Little Green Footballs for party line liberals.

That's a useful structure for criticizing without substance. Let me try:

Your comments oftentimes read like the Ann Coulter of MetaFilter critics.

Yes, that works very nicely. I must remember that. Thank you.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:18 AM on June 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


Why does climate change make people so angry?

Because:

1- It conflicts with their belief that God is in charge, and that humanity is capable of fucking with God's creation.

2- People can't think that big. These are the same idiots who think the WTC falling down was a bomb, because steel is really strong and if the planes caused it, why didn't they tip over?

3- It is Science, and therefore Confusing, and therefore Liberal, Commie, Knowitall claptrap.

4- It's just a way for the The Liberals to steal from the masses.

5- Climate isn't weather, but they don't know the difference.

6- Maybe some of them do believe that it is happening, but they can't imagine we are the cause of it.

7- Maybe some of them believe it is happening, but refuse to agree because letting The Enemy win an argument means awful things will happen.
posted by gjc at 11:24 AM on June 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


My take on global warming is that even if it were unmitigated bullshit, it would still be a useful mechanism to get people to move away from oil dependency in the imminent expectation of peak oil.

People who deny global warming and still insist that heavy oil use is just fine? It's a special class of stupid, up there with people who use food blenders to clip their toenails.
posted by MuffinMan at 11:25 AM on June 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


somone please link me to a peer review article that proposes global warming is going to cause an extinction level event.

A few papers I looked for were already mentioned by others.

Do you consider the IPCC Fourth Assessment report to be peer reviewed?

Here you find the following: "As global average temperature increase exceeds about 3.5°C, model projections suggest significant extinctions (40 to 70% of species assessed) around the globe."

Not as hard as the 95% of the Perm-Triassic border, but we most likely won't stop at 3.5° either.
posted by Triton at 11:31 AM on June 20, 2010


To clarify, it might be anthropogenic, it might not be. I don't know and neither does anybody else.

That's a remarkably bold claim (the possibility that climate change might not be anthropogenic). The surface area of the earth (including the oceans) is 5.1 x 10^8 square kilometers. The population is about 6.7 billion. That gives 0.0761 square kilometers per person or about 18.8 acres or a little more than 10 football pitches. I don't know about you, but I could easily reshape 18.8 acres in a lifetime. Given modern equipment I could do it in a couple of weeks. Given a few tons of explosives I could do it in a day.

The idea that humanity, with all of its agriculture, industry, mining, development, overfishing, war, etc has not drastically affected the earth itself, its ecosystems, and thus its climate in the past 100 years is absurd.

Do non-anthropogenic factors have a significant effect on climate? Yes, of course. Snuff out the sun and it would get a lot colder, for example. But to suggest that we haven't become one of the major drivers of climate change on both a local and global scale isn't supported by science or even common sense.
posted by jedicus at 11:31 AM on June 20, 2010 [10 favorites]


New York City and Los Angeles might not survive it but in the long run that's probably a good thing as the lifestyle that urban areas promote is not conducive to living "in balance" with nature what ever the fuck that is supposed to mean.

I've lived in both places. Los Angeles is definitely out of whack, but New York City? Really? For the most part, living in apartment buildings and using public transportation leaves a whole lot less of a carbon footprint than the detached houses and required-car cities found everywhere else.
posted by griphus at 11:32 AM on June 20, 2010 [5 favorites]


Oh, Zombie: you are unaware of your hypocrisy as a fish is unaware of the water in which he swims.

And far too many people here are equating skepticism of anthropogenic global warming with "God-fearing, liberal-hating, anti-intellectual, teabaggers." Thus the substance of my LGF comparison.
posted by thescientificmethhead at 11:33 AM on June 20, 2010


jedicus, re: my skepticism of carbon tax and cap-and-trade: From Matt Taibbi's "The Great American Bubble Machine" (Rolling Stone, July 2009):

“The bank owns a 10 percent stake in the Chicago Climate Exchange, where the carbon credits will be traded. Moreover, Goldman owns a minority stake in Blue Source LLC, a Utah-based firm that sells carbon credits of the type that will be in great demand if the bill passes. Nobel Prize winner Al Gore, who is intimately involved with the planning of cap-and-trade, started up a company called Generation Investment Management with three former bigwigs from Goldman Sachs Asset Management, David Blood, Mark Ferguson and Peter Harris. Their business? Investing in carbon offsets. There’s also a $500 million Green Growth Fund set up by a Goldmanite to invest in green-tech … the list goes on and on. Goldman is ahead of the headlines again, just waiting for someone to make it rain in the right spot.”
posted by thescientificmethhead at 11:36 AM on June 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


methane from cows ---> gobar gas ---> alternative fuel source


what concerns me is that the hoo haa over climate change/global warming/whatever is diminishing the concerns we still face regarding environmental degradation, shrinking natural resources, biosphere and life extinction and all the other things that polluting our planet has caused. whether its a puff of hot air in the sky or a piss in the bucket or a oil leak at the bottom of the ocean the bottom line is that we're messing up the only planet we have right now

oh yeah, god made the earth only 6 years ago and he's on holiday today, its sunday
posted by infini at 11:37 AM on June 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


re: my skepticism of carbon tax and cap-and-trade

That's a criticism of cap-and-trade, not a carbon tax. A carbon tax is, like most taxes, administered directly by the government. One great advantage of a carbon tax, listed in the link I gave earlier, is that it avoids the problem of becoming a profit center for hedge funds and banks, which is a potential downside of a cap-and-trade system.
posted by jedicus at 11:48 AM on June 20, 2010


Atmospheric physicist Richard Lindzen has also chimed in last year with his lecture Deconstructing Global Warming.
"Lindzen clearly relishes the role of naysayer. He'll even expound on how weakly lung cancer is linked to cigarette smoking. He speaks in full, impeccably logical paragraphs, and he punctuates his measured cadences with thoughtful drags on a cigarette"
The world is full of contrarians, even those with degrees. I don't mean to shoot the messanger, and perhaps Lindzen has some things to add to the debate, but keep in mind his MO is to take an extreme contrary position on many topics, Global Warming being just one. Lindzen's graduate students describe him as "fiercely intelligent, with a deep contrarian streak." This is actually what most of the deniers are, contrarians - it's a useful and important position, sort of like market bears, sometimes they get it right, most of the time not. I hope he doesn't die of lung cancer, but don't your life bet on it.

John Christy, atmospheric scientist.. critical of the IPCC

Criticism of the IPCC is fine, in particular when your a ex-employee not asked to return. But Christy is a bit disingenuous on the science of Global Warming, I wonder why he was kicked out after cooking the data?
posted by stbalbach at 11:52 AM on June 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why does climate change make people so angry?

Let's address this question from both ends. I try not to judge any position now.
Those who accept the evidence* are angry, because there is a incredibly dangerous development underway nobody is doing anything against. It is like a fire burning through a city, but the fire engines are still at their HQ, because they don't want to waste fuel. The black plague spreading, but no one gets vaccinated or treated. When faced directly with a potentially life-threatening situation, most of us would instantly jump to action.** When possible actions are not only not undertaken, but everyone fails to even acknowledge the problem one has a hard time not going mad.

Those who don't accept the evidence* are angry, because some crooks are manipulating the whole world into buying their products and everyone beliefs them. They are asked to trust scientists and politicians, which are by nature aloof and untrustworthy. They are told, "you will agree when you understand", the classic hook used by greedy sects. Does no one remember the times when scientists thought radiation was good for you? Why trust them with their next scheme?

(I only know the first position from experience. If I am wrong in presenting the second one, will somebody please correct me?)

* no judgment here - at least not in this post. ;-)
** or at least always assume they would, given the situation, jump to action.
posted by Triton at 11:57 AM on June 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Angry voices on both sides, and in the middle, the "calmitarians" who automatically disagree with any argument expressed with passion, regardless of merit, because, you know, the important thing is to avoid sounding "shrill."
posted by Pants McCracky at 12:10 PM on June 20, 2010 [8 favorites]


jedicus: I don't think we can tax ourselves out of a problem. I consider myself a Transhumanist Libertarian (and please, for fuck's sake, nobody bring up Glenn Beck...if he was in any way legitimate then why would he be there on Faux News 24-hour propaganda machine for idiots? Beck was put on Fox after Obama was elected precisely to demonize the Libertarian movement in the eyes of Democrats/liberals, or anyone who was unfortunate enough to have two functioning brain cells during the fascism of the Bush years...same reason why Fox News and Sarah Palin have "sponsored" the Tea Party protests...oh, shit, sorry guys: I mean Tea Baggers. Because under the Bush tyranny dissent was the highest form of patriotism, but now that an articulate non-white Democrat is on the television its about racism) who believes Americans are already over-taxed.
posted by thescientificmethhead at 12:13 PM on June 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


The real problem with global warming is that it kills people's belief in God.

It's actually way more potent than the theory of evolution in that regard.

In my personal experience, scientists who don't believe in global warming have always turned out to be believers in God.

Dyson would be exhibit A, if I had to try to write an article to this effect relying on public sources.

The general thinking seems to be 'global warming cannot be true because God would not let that happen.'

Not that different from Einstein's 'God does not play dice with the world' justification for rejecting quantum mechanics.

And exactly like that, an enormous blunder.
posted by jamjam at 12:18 PM on June 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Is global warming denial mainly an American thing?
posted by fuq at 12:24 PM on June 20, 2010


jedicus: I don't think we can tax ourselves out of a problem. I consider myself a Transhumanist Libertarian (and please, for fuck's sake, nobody bring up Glenn Beck...if he was in any way legitimate then why would he be there on Faux News 24-hour propaganda machine for idiots? Beck was put on Fox after Obama was elected precisely to demonize the Libertarian movement in the eyes of Democrats/liberals, or anyone who was unfortunate enough to have two functioning brain cells during the fascism of the Bush years...same reason why Fox News and Sarah Palin have "sponsored" the Tea Party protests...oh, shit, sorry guys: I mean Tea Baggers. Because under the Bush tyranny dissent was the highest form of patriotism, but now that an articulate non-white Democrat is on the television its about racism) who believes Americans are already over-taxed.

That's the biggest paranthetical statement I've ever seen.
posted by codacorolla at 12:24 PM on June 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


"disturbing homogeneity of thought"

yeah its really disturbing when scientists agree on something amirite dog
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:29 PM on June 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


The general thinking seems to be 'global warming cannot be true because God would not let that happen.'

Pat Robertson made that argument, but a few years ago he decided he believes now because it was June and my, wasn't it so hot?


*sigh
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:30 PM on June 20, 2010


Triton: I would disagree with your illustrations (fire in the city, black plague) because those are short-term problems with easy, obvious solutions ("if we would just send the fire trucks, or if we would just vaccinate everyone") which I don't think the ecological catastrophe is. Its more a giant tire fire that has been burning out the outskirts of a city for 100 years, and the denizens of the city based an economy and massive industry around constantly adding tires to the inferno. Then after a century of blissful ignorance/arrogance about the effects of the fire, people began realizing that the air quality in the city was nigh un-breathable and water, trees and wildlife were all being harmed, too. But by that time it's far too late for a quick fix (regardless of how much fuel would be used in the effort). As for the second position: I would agree, and I would add a few more points of contention. But thank you so much for not characterizing the skepticism as "Because science kills God." Seems a lot of posters here consider global warming "denial" as an affront to their atheist ideals. Science is the new religion, another reason I am skeptical of the anthropogenic global warming hypothesis that clearly some here embrace with the religious fervor of a fundamentalist.
posted by thescientificmethhead at 12:35 PM on June 20, 2010


Is global warming denial mainly an American thing?

its seems to be that way afait. creationism is another, for the most part

sometimes, like now, just for a moment, it feels like the kid with the ball won't even come to the playground in time for the match because he doesn't think the world cup is on
posted by infini at 12:35 PM on June 20, 2010


New York City is threatened not because the people there contribute more carbon than other Americans, but because it is coastal.

Of course, it's not as immediately threatened as lower lying coatal areas such as Bangladesh, most pacific nations, the Netherlands, northern Cambriheshire, New Jersey right beside New York...
posted by jb at 12:36 PM on June 20, 2010


I am skeptical of the anthropogenic global warming hypothesis that clearly some here embrace with the religious fervor of a fundamentalist.

You can keep trying to use rhetoric to make it seem like you're a reasonable person up against a horde of religious, irrational zealots, but rhetoric can't change the facts, which you have decided to ignore.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:00 PM on June 20, 2010 [7 favorites]


I can't tell of you're being facetious or not, mr. Pope.
posted by thescientificmethhead at 1:04 PM on June 20, 2010


Is global warming denial mainly an American thing?

Not anymore: Climate Fears Turn to Doubts Among Britons
posted by homunculus at 1:06 PM on June 20, 2010


I just want to add that it is sweltering in Philly. Hence it was 420 time before it was, you know, 420. And I read this thread and in my altered state, found in myself no desire to thunk some nonbelieving heads.

Hence, marijuana is good for:
1. Living in oven apartments
2. Not wanting to thunk
3. Will absorb carbon.

So, legalize as soon as possible.
posted by angrycat at 1:09 PM on June 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


To clarify, it might be anthropogenic, it might not be. I don't know and neither does anybody else.

This statement is completely unsupportable and ignores decades of scientific research. If you are going to make and argument, make an argument. Don't throw out a claim that is known to be wrong by the scientific community.

The earth's atmosphere is warmed by trace gases that are transparent to shortwave solar radiation but absorb longer wave radiation given off by the earth's surface. Direct measurements show that those trace gases, mainly carbon dioxide, have been increasing over the last half- century. Indirect measurements show that the trace gas concentrations started their rapid increase at the same time that humans started burning fossil duels in large quantities. Isotope measurements show those trace gases come from plants that were living long ago. Do you disagree with any of these observations? If so publish your results and you will join Newton, Darwin and Einstein in the pantheon of great scientific minds.

To know how climate has changed and might change in the future we have to take into account all the things that can alter how much energy enters and leaves the earth-atmosphere-ocean system and how that energy is distributed within the system. This has been studied for more than a century. Variation's in the sun's output, interstellar dust clouds, volcanic eruptions, continental drift, earth's orbital variations, and the trace gas variations mentioned above (I'm probably forgetting a couple because I'm typing this up on a phone in the park). Take direct and indirect measurements to figure out the physical relationships between those variables and the climate. Using those relationships try to simulate how the climate has changed over the past century.

You know what happens?

The only way recent climate changes can be explained is to include the increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases. Solar varions alone don't explain the trend. Dust, volcanic or man-made, don't explain it. Again, the only way to make sense of thelast century's climate variations is to include greenhouse gases. Well, that or a very mysterious Factor X, heretofore unknown, unobserved and unconnected to the climate. Are you seriously suggesting there is a Factor X?

Finally, take all the known drivers of climate change and project them into the future as best you can. Over the next century the forcing by the greenhouse gases predominate the projected forcing by all other known variables and that increased forcing warms the climate faster than has happened in a long, long time.
posted by plastic_animals at 1:11 PM on June 20, 2010 [14 favorites]


homunculous, the skeptic in me notes that it is the New York Times that is the source of that. and course the 'special' friendship that flowers across the Pond
posted by infini at 1:13 PM on June 20, 2010


thescientificmethhead:
fine, my illustration had the wrong time scale. There are no easy, obvious solutions to fix global warming. But there are indeed some easy obvious measures to start right now. There is not even a need to be creative, just pick some political and technical ideas already working around the world. If all they achieve is buying time, that would be great. We're running out of it.

Concerning "science is the new religion" - I disagree sharply.
Do you mean "science" as a industry line, or the scientific method?

Believing everything someone in a lab coat says would indeed be a religion, and a bad one. Idolatry in every sense.

But the scientific method in itself - working with hypotheses, falsifiability and reproducibility is as far removed from every religion as possible. Could you show me a religion were a dogma is dropped when it is refuted by experiment?
posted by Triton at 1:21 PM on June 20, 2010


I can't tell of you're being facetious or not, mr. Pope.

I don't know if you're serious or if you're trolling, thescientificmethhead, but either way you present yourself as ignorant and boorish. Are you trying to convince anyone of anything but this apparent fact? If so, you may want to rethink your whole approach here.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:40 PM on June 20, 2010


Mr. pope, I think the point of my rhetoric is lost on you. There is a New Inquisition, as I see it, rooted in Fundamentalist Materialism and dogmatic adherence to scientific "truths". The history of scientific thought is the story of the subversion of general consensus hypotheses leading to revision of hypotheses and paradigm shifts. I think it's naive to believe you have THE TRUTH and THE ANSWER. I sure don't. Seems the ideals of free thinking and healthy skepticism so often espoused in regard to unquestioning xians/conservatives are so much hot air when the issue at hand is the pet project of climate clergyman Al Gore.

Oh, but what sort of fool would deny the supremacy of reason and the scientific method? Well, GIGO. Call me a heretic and burn me at the stake: I find myself in good company.

"Oh but what about the earth! We don't have time to debate the science, the data is in and we must act! We must stop the global warming NOW!" Don't worry: our loving government will provide the action you so desire. You'll get your carbon tax, and maybe even some de-industrialization. Hopefully these concessions will pacify your ideological insecurities.

Triton: Of course I believe the scientific method and empiricism is the best tool for studying and making statements about the universe. But in many ways Darwin's theory of evolution became a new religion for people as society embraced his idea. And why not? After centuries of superstition and unsatisfying theological explanations that we now consider insulting to anyone of average intelligence, it is only natural that people would so eagerly adopt Darwinian evolution..."An absolute church eventually produces an absolute opposition". But my point is that this is just another belief system that people believe in dogmatically. Who is to say how human beings will conceive of and understand their universe if the species survives another century or two? We're still trying to make sense of quantum mechanics in a way that has real meaning for our daily lives. And I am skeptical of supporting a "cult of the expert," accepting someone's word as fact just because they wear a lab coat. This is analogous to priest's robes in my New Religion metaphor. I highly recommend F for Fake for anyone who hasn't seen it.

Blazecock: I was being serious. Reading pope's remark just under my comment that he quoted was a weird juxtaposition...it seemed as if he could have meant his comment to be read with a winking sarcasm.
posted by thescientificmethhead at 1:51 PM on June 20, 2010


Honest question: does it really matter if everyone believes global warming is real? Can't every single policy that reduces carbon emissions be defended on more popular grounds? All of those policies likely have tangible benefits that people can experience in their daily lives, making them an easier sell than asking people to make sacrifices to benefit some Bangladeshi in 2045 (no offense). If Metafilter was the Climatology Science Audit Society, this discussion would have a point, but it's not; it's a public forum that will influence what people say to their friends and family.

So, if you care about stopping climate change, I'd say pick your favorite policy and talk about why people should support that policy even if they don't believe in global warming (and by "people," I mean the key constituencies of the Congressperson who runs that committee, or similar for the country of your choice, or failing that level of detail, a random person raising a family on a tight budget). The first paragaraph of slartybartfast's comment here is the best part of this thread imo. Don't get me wrong; I believe strongly in climate change. Even still, the best way to get me out of my car and onto my bike is to think about how much better I'll feel if I get some exercise.
posted by salvia at 1:52 PM on June 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


Furthermore Triton: the point I was getting at with the "Darwinian evolution as new religious belief" thread is that for many people I know concepts like "random chance," natural selection," or what have you have taken the place of deities in their views on the universe or of life on earth, and they are not to be questioned.
posted by thescientificmethhead at 1:57 PM on June 20, 2010


thescientificmethhead, you're using the (true) idea that we don't have perfect knowledge of a system as a reason to believe that we are wrong about it. For example, when you say "The history of scientific thought is the story of the subversion of general consensus hypotheses leading to revision of hypotheses and paradigm shifts. I think it's naive to believe you have THE TRUTH and THE ANSWER.

But I would characterize the history of scientific progress as a narrowing in on the truth. The geocentric model was able to make some predictions. Then the heliocentric model "lead to a paradigm shift". Then the elliptical models via Kepler came in. They were more correct, but it's simply that they were more accurate. The same goes for Einsteinian relativity & Newtonian mechanics. The newer models work better, but the older is still correct up to a point.

There won't be a fundamental, throw old the old garbage revolution in how we view climate systems. There will be better hypotheses that are more accurate in edge scenarios. But what we have now will still be true enough.
posted by Lemurrhea at 2:01 PM on June 20, 2010


Ok to many to reply one by one but let me reply to the articles that people are saying claim global warming will cause and extinction level event. The first one from science daily which doesn't even have an author listed(sketch) isn't a peer reviewed paper it is an extended abstract on one. From the article, I added the bold:

"Using vegetation models, the research is one of the first attempts to assess the potential effects of climate change on terrestrial biodiversity on a global scale rather than just looking at individual species. Scientists looked specifically at the effect that climate change would have on 25 of the 34 globally outstanding "biodiversity hotspots" -- areas containing a large number of species unique to these regions alone, yet facing enormous threats.

Since these biodiversity hotspots make up about one percent of the Earth's surface, but contain 44 percent of all terrestrial vertebrate species and 35 percent of the world's plant species, they are good indicators of the magnitude of global species that might be affected by rising CO2 levels in the atmosphere."


So basically they are arguing using models, not actual field research, that some areas might be susceptible to species becoming extinct if CO2 levels keep rising. They are not claiming that there is going to be an extinction event.

The second one from Mongabay is again not a peer reviewed paper but sensationalizing what a peer reviewed paper has claimed which is again not a claim of an immanent mass extinction but rather a reduction of "biodiversity in the tropical forests of Northern South America."

The third one from About My Planet; again not a peer reviewed paper but an article making sensational claims. This article claims that a mass extinction is currently underway but really does not present any evidence to support this claim given that it is only three or four paragraphs long.

Jedicus the paper you linked to says:

"Evidence on causation is equivocal, with support
for either an asteroid impact or mass volcanism,
but the latter seems most probable. The extinction
model involves global warming by 68C and huge input
of light carbon into the ocean-atmosphere system
from the eruptions, but especially from gas hydrates,
leading to an ever-worsening positive-feedback loop,
the ‘runaway greenhouse’."


The paper isn't about the current situation leading to a extinction event. It is an investigation into the possibility that volcanism was responsible for the Permian extinction. It isn't until the end that they tag on this part:

"Models for ancient extinction events affect the current
debate about global warming and its possible mediumterm
consequences. Some scientists and politicians look
to the sky for approaching asteroids that will wipe out
humanity. Perhaps we should also consider how much
global warming could be sustained, and at what level the
runaway greenhouse comes into play."


For you to claim that a throwaway paragraph at the end of the paper constitutes a peer reviewed article claiming an extinction event is immanent because of global warming is intellectually dishonest.

"Sorry, I've already wasted too much time with Dyson speaking outside his field to sit through another youtube video."

Well I guess we don't have anything more to talk about then do we.

I will again repeat my position as most people replying seem to ignore my actual position and latch on to my critique of the global warming mania.

I Believe that we should be good stewards of the planet and cut down on our carbon footprint because it is the most prudent action to take. My position on global warming is that nature can fuck with us a lot worse than we can fuck with ourselves or any other species for that matter. Remember, THERE HAVE BEEN FIVE MAJOR EXTINCTION EVENTS IN THE HISTORY OF LIFE ON EARTH WITHOUT THE HELP OF HUMANS. What does this mean? This means that we should be good stewards of our planet and use the tool of science to understand it as best we can. To claim that we know exactly how the ecosystem works and that we can accurately predict it with computer models if fallacious at face value and extremely arrogant. That is my only point. That so many seemingly educated people cannot see this is kind of depressing.

I can see that I will get nowhere trying to discuss things rationally so I will bow out of this conversation. Good day.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 2:06 PM on June 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ok one more :(

"This statement is completely unsupportable and ignores decades of scientific research. If you are going to make and argument, make an argument. Don't throw out a claim that is known to be wrong by the scientific community. "

We don't know enough about long term cycles to accurately say anything about our impact. In truth my opinion is that yes we are having an effect but how big is the real question. It is a question of magnitudes which aren't easily answered. Especially with computer models which are only as good as their inputs which are unfortunately, in our case, hopelessly incomplete.

"Are you seriously suggesting there is a Factor X?"

I am suggesting not only are a multitude of X factors but also a deeply flawed understanding about the relationships between all pertinent factors.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 2:13 PM on June 20, 2010


fix typo: I am suggesting not only are there a multitude of X factors...
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 2:16 PM on June 20, 2010


How can I favorite this (gompa at 6:40 AM on June 20) a million times?

I know scientists who are working on figuring out when the cusp of coral extinction will occur. Their preliminary experiment, artificially acidifying seawater to match the predicted levels of 2050, was horrifying. The coral grew, but at less than 20% of its current rate.

Even if you don't believe in global warming, are you ready to deny that just dumping so much carbon into our atmosphere has to have some sort of effect?

Time travel has to be impossible, because if it wasn't, future generations would be here right now kicking our asses.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 2:18 PM on June 20, 2010


Time travel has to be impossible, because if it wasn't, future generations would be here right now kicking our asses.

Who is to say that they're not trying right now? Think about it: it will be scientists that discover the ability to travel through time, either forward or back. Scientists are as ego-driven as anyone else and they take great pride, as they should, in their advanced degree is Scientism. They're not going to think of coming back through time as anything but men/women of highly advanced knowledge. Ergo, they would come back as climate scientists.
posted by NoMich at 2:27 PM on June 20, 2010


Oh, and the only way that scientists know how to "kick ass" is with knowledge and facts and shit.
posted by NoMich at 2:28 PM on June 20, 2010


For you to claim that a throwaway paragraph at the end of the paper constitutes a peer reviewed article claiming an extinction event is immanent because of global warming is intellectually dishonest.

I claimed no such thing. I said the article "proposes that current global warming trends may result in the same runaway greenhouse effect that probably caused the Permian-Triassic extinction event," which I think is a fair reading of "Perhaps we should also consider how much global warming could be sustained, and at what level the runaway greenhouse comes into play," especially given that the paper defines 'runaway greenhouse' as "The extinction model involves global warming by 6ºC and huge input of light carbon into the ocean-atmosphere system from the eruptions, but especially from gas hydrates, leading to an ever-worsening positive-feedback loop, the ‘runaway greenhouse’."

An increase of about 6ºC, huge input of light carbon from fossil fuels, and potentially a methane hydrate release is exactly the scenario in play today. The parallels are obvious. I also pointed out that the paper was from 2003 and there are no doubt other papers that are more directly on point.
posted by jedicus at 2:28 PM on June 20, 2010


There is a New Inquisition, as I see it, rooted in Fundamentalist Materialism and dogmatic adherence to scientific "truths".

This was nonsense when Robert Anton Wilson proposed it, it's nonsense when postmodernist writers elaborate on it, and it's nonsense now- nothing more than than emotionally-driven anti-intellectualism.
posted by Pope Guilty at 2:39 PM on June 20, 2010 [2 favorites]


AElfwine Evenstar: Remember, THERE HAVE BEEN FIVE MAJOR EXTINCTION EVENTS IN THE HISTORY OF LIFE ON EARTH WITHOUT THE HELP OF HUMANS.

You can make that six. With or without global warming, every naturalist I know believes we are currently in the middle of the largest general extinction since the K-T event, and yes humans most definitely caused it.

What does this mean? This means that we should be good stewards of our planet and use the tool of science to understand it as best we can.

It means the main question is not whether there will be an extinction event but whether the list of extinct species will include h. sapiens. Meanwhile, if there is a complicated irreplaceable system upon which you depend and it is acting up, given the choice between viciously kicking it and not viciously kicking it, kicking it is almost always the wrong thing to do.
posted by localroger at 3:07 PM on June 20, 2010


It doesn't. Idiots who can't subtract simple numbers in their head and so are willing to watch the planet burn as a result make people angry.
Yeah, the planet's not going to burn. Maybe you should calm down.
posted by planet at 3:12 PM on June 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


I can imagine worse things to be called than a Fundamental Materialist.

I like my eggs unscrambled and really real.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 3:14 PM on June 20, 2010


"I can see that I will get nowhere trying to discuss things rationally so I will bow out of this conversation. Good day."

You aren't discussing global warming rationally, AElfwine Evenstar, you're making unsupported assertions based on no known science or observations. Just look at your next comment:

I am suggesting not only are a multitude of X factors but also a deeply flawed understanding about the relationships between all pertinent factors.

What are you basing your suggestion on? In science, it is not enough to say an idea is flawed. To gain a deeper understanding you have to have an alternative explanation that better explains the relationships between factors than the current explanation. What observations need to be made? What forcings are missing? What relationship between all pertinent factors are flawed?

Hand waving and saying "I know the science is wrong" without showing how it is wrong isn't rational and isn't scientific. You don't give any indication of understanding the science yet you claim that the understanding of those with expertise based on more than a century of research are wrong. How is that rational?
posted by plastic_animals at 3:15 PM on June 20, 2010 [5 favorites]


> I am suggesting not only are a multitude of X factors but also a deeply flawed understanding about the relationships between all pertinent factors.

It's been asked several times but what facts lead you to this conclusion? What facts would convince you of the consensus IPCC view?
posted by Skorgu at 3:18 PM on June 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think it's naive to believe you have THE TRUTH and THE ANSWER.

Indeed it is, which is why no one has ever claimed such a thing - the key words are "beyond reasonable doubt".
posted by Bangaioh at 4:09 PM on June 20, 2010


Holy Christ, this'll teach me to check MeFi at midnight with a belly of Laphroig and Guinness! Has someone put a blue background on reddit? I cannot believe the bullshit being spewed forth here. I propose a mass housing exchange, “skeptics” can pair up with a buddy in Bangladesh and swap houses, nothing to worry about sure? Unbelievable.
posted by nfg at 4:17 PM on June 20, 2010 [4 favorites]


I propose a mass housing exchange, “skeptics” can pair up with a buddy in Bangladesh and swap houses, nothing to worry about sure? Unbelievable.
To be fair, there's basically no climate scenario that would make living in Bangladesh seem attractive.
posted by planet at 5:08 PM on June 20, 2010


Oh, Zombie: you are unaware of your hypocrisy as a fish is unaware of the water in which he swims.

I'd like to back up and say this makes no sense.

Although I have never had a conversation with a fish to ask about their awareness of water. Perhaps they truly are oblivious. They wouldn't be alone.
posted by Astro Zombie at 5:10 PM on June 20, 2010


It took many, many years and piles of evidence to come to the current consensus that yes, a big rock from space did show up one day and kill nearly every living thing on Earth

But it didn't kill the planet, and this event probably helped make humans possible. And we know of several other mass extinction events -- and yet, here we are, on a planet teeming with life, again.

I'm not trying to be Suzy Sunshine Creamcheese here, just a long-tail, big-picture realist. The facts and reasonable conclusions as I understand them are:

1. Like many other mammals, humans have been manic gluttonous consumers from the get-go. Most of what we use our great big brains and thumbs for is developing ever faster, more rapacious consumption. In the short term, this is unfortunate for us and many other forms of life that are going to suffer profoundly, but it's unlikely to change.

2. This pattern of behavior is causing all sorts of increasingly dramatic changes to the planetary environment. That is overwhelmingly likely to continue. The results will probably kill many skejillions of humans and other species who had the shit luck to exist on the wrong planet in the wrong epoch. Oh well, species come and go, so it's better not to get too attached [looking fondly at several canis familiarises] even to one's own.

3. We have the gift/curse of consciousness, awareness of consequences and mortality, etc. that allows us to understand 1. and 2. and decide what to do with that knowledge and how best to live our lives. I'm not sure anybody else's way is inherently more or less moral than mine.

But hey, the comforting thing is that the planet will recover from our tender mercies, eventually, and who knows what totally cool new forms of life may emerge next time?
posted by FelliniBlank at 5:34 PM on June 20, 2010


From my point of view, these sorts of climate change/global warming threads are annoying because of the vitriol (eg, "If you don't buy into man-made climate change, and even though you respectfully and thoughtfully state your case, you are still an idiot") to the hopelessness these sorts of threads help facilitate (eg, WE ARE ALL FUCKED, CHINA IS BAD).
posted by KokuRyu at 5:44 PM on June 20, 2010


I figure I've got another forty to fifty years on this planet. I'd really prefer them to not involve the hassles of trying to subsistence survive in a failing ecosystem. And while I don't have kids (thank gods), it does rather annoy me that the kids I do know are going to have the shittiest future ever foreseen.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:55 PM on June 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Can we please have a discussion about climate change without being as condescending as we possibly can
posted by tehloki at 6:10 PM on June 20, 2010


How is it a contradiction that I think we will be able to survive global warming because we survived the last ice age

Glad 'survival' is good enough metric for you. Sure, most of us will starve to death, and life for those left will be a daily hell, but you'll have your wicked LARPing skills so you can hide in a forest and live on mushrooms, yeah?

temperature variation has usually not led to extinction but rather to migration.

Where are you going to migrate to get away from a planet-wide catastrophe, Evenstar? The Grey Fucking Havens?
posted by obiwanwasabi at 7:27 PM on June 20, 2010 [5 favorites]


From the New Scientist article referenced above:

a firm and ever-growing body of evidence points to a clear picture: the world is warming, this warming is due to human activity increasing levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and if emissions continue unabated the warming will too, with increasingly serious consequences.

Yes, there are still big uncertainties in some predictions...
(my bold)

What is disturbing in the climate change debate is the denial of uncertainty. The uncomfortable truth seems to be that we don't really know how climate change is going to play out - in particular will we see catastrophic impacts or will it be gradual? We can guess at the probabilities, but at the end of the day the predictive power of climate science is nowhere near say, the predictive power of quantum mechanics.
posted by storybored at 8:11 PM on June 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hey Storybored, why don't you post the rest of that paragraph you so selectively quoted?

but these swing both ways. For example, the response of clouds could slow the warming or speed it up.

With so much at stake, it is right that climate science is subjected to the most intense scrutiny. What does not help is for the real issues to be muddied by discredited arguments or wild theories.

posted by smoke at 8:34 PM on June 20, 2010


You people are cranky like a day care center full of Clint Eastwood.
posted by kid ichorous at 11:12 PM on June 20, 2010


This was nonsense when Robert Anton Wilson proposed it

Granted, but I tend to think RAW knew that, and was just perpetually stirring the shit for a good giggle. He was hilarious, but also the proto-/b/tard.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:04 AM on June 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


This thread has reminded me that the only way to deal with Climate Change 'agnostics' or 'skeptics' or whatever lone wolf fantasy they're running is to stop taking them seriously. They behave like spoiled idiots.
posted by Gamien Boffenburg at 2:44 AM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


If every couple volunteered to having no more than one child maximum (unless adopted) would this solve a great many of the world's environmental problems?
posted by The ____ of Justice at 2:47 AM on June 21, 2010


If every couple volunteered to having no more than one child maximum (unless adopted) would this solve a great many of the world's environmental problems?

Probably, but there's quite a few other solutions that start with "If everyone volunteered".
posted by Lemurrhea at 5:30 AM on June 21, 2010


[A few comments removed. Cool it.]
posted by cortex at 7:03 AM on June 21, 2010


As Mark Lilla puts it in his recent essay on the Tea Partiers, "Many Americans, a vocal and varied segment of the public at large, have now convinced themselves that educated elites—politicians, bureaucrats, reporters, but also doctors, scientists, even schoolteachers—are controlling our lives. And they want them to stop. They say they are tired of being told what counts as news or what they should think about global warming; tired of being told what their children should be taught, how much of their paychecks they get to keep, whether to insure themselves, which medicines they can have, where they can build their homes, which guns they can buy, when they have to wear seatbelts and helmets, whether they can talk on the phone while driving, which foods they can eat, how much soda they can drink … the list is long."

They sound like they have first-apartment syndrome, those “many Americans”. Don’t tell me to clean up after myself – you sound like my parents! Best to avoid living with until they learn that, yes, adults do in fact clean up after themselves. That’s what being an adult is. This sounds like “Tired of being told they can’t do what they want when they want and fuck the consequences” – ie: they’re children.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 7:38 AM on June 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


What is disturbing in the climate change debate is the denial of uncertainty.

I think uncertainty about the range of possible outcomes should make people more in favor of trying to prevent it, not less.

I mean, sure it could be no big deal, but it could also be a catastrophe.

This is a real life Pascal's Wager that we're looking at here.
posted by empath at 8:07 AM on June 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


I mean, on carbon taxes, cap and trade, etc.

Even assuming that global warming ends up not being a big deal, at the very least, carbon taxes would reduce pollution, stop the US dependence on foreign oil, prevent more oil spills, reduce mountain top removal for coal mining, and so on. The benefits to reducing our use of fossil fuel are enormous, even if global warming is complete BS.
posted by empath at 8:09 AM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


What is disturbing in the climate change debate is the denial of uncertainty.

How so? There is considerable uncertainty in the IPCC report. There is no prediction of what is going to happen, only scenarios.

But another thing missing in the debate is the denial of the known history of climate over the past 30 years - one should be able to look at the early computer model scenarios and compare them with actual outcomes - and guess what, those early computer models have been nearly exactly right.
posted by stbalbach at 8:39 AM on June 21, 2010


Regardless of their particular area of expertise, people in the Sciences are familiar with the methods. They are trained to be able to interpret data. They know the study of statistics. If Astro Zombie's father says global warming is bunk, that should carry some weight.

Perhaps. But what actually advances science is more peer-reviewed studies, not opinion. A dissenting opinion means very little unless there's real science to back it up.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:24 AM on June 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


But hey, the comforting thing is that the planet will recover from our tender mercies, eventually, and who knows what totally cool new forms of life may emerge next time?

Maybe, maybe not. But what we do until then is really what's at issue.
posted by krinklyfig at 9:32 AM on June 21, 2010


There is considerable uncertainty in the IPCC report. There is no prediction of what is going to happen, only scenarios.

I've been thinking about this - ambiguity versus uncertainty - that is, its an ambiguous situation and we don't know the outcomes, we can only extrapolate and create different scenarios, but its not uncertain that changes are taking place.
posted by infini at 9:36 AM on June 21, 2010


Cool it.

I see what you did there.
posted by lord_wolf at 9:41 AM on June 21, 2010


I can "see both sides of this argument" - which doesn't mean that I'm not convinced of the "scientific truth" of climate change.

Yes, there is "great uncertainty" in what is about to happen - I don't think anyone who really understands the idea of the scientific method would deny that there's some chance that our models are wrong - but even the people on the "other side" in this conversation would have to concede that there is a good chance we are in serious trouble.

Imagine a heavy smoker in his 50s who starts getting chest pains... he said, "You can't prove it's a medical condition," but anyone would tell him, "See a doctor already!"

This is compounded in this case by the fact that if you really accept the truth of climate change, you have to accept that our lifestyle is profoundly wrong - that our wasteful and polluting lifestyle of cheap consumer products is simply not sustainable, and that our descendants will probably look back at us in horror for it (... holds up a Happy Meal toy: "Our ancestors, who squandered the world's resources on junk and fouled the land, leaving us in poverty cleaning up their toxic filth...")

So our dissenters are saying, "You haven't 100% legally proved that climate change is coming," because the consequences of admitting that things are probably wrong would also involve admitting this unpleasant truth is probably true.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:31 AM on June 21, 2010 [2 favorites]


This is compounded in this case by the fact that if you really accept the truth of climate change, you have to accept that our lifestyle is profoundly wrong - that our wasteful and polluting lifestyle of cheap consumer products is simply not sustainable, and that our descendants will probably look back at us in horror for it (... holds up a Happy Meal toy: "Our ancestors, who squandered the world's resources on junk and fouled the land, leaving us in poverty cleaning up their toxic filth...")

I don't know if these two elements are necessarily "if then... so" kind of thing. Yes, there are GHG that are influencing climate change which in turn has effects on the biosphere. But also yes we are consuming with no regard to the future or the fact that there's no supermarket of natural resources out there once we've gorged on our cupboard of goodies.

But aren't they all outcomes of man's (recent as in the past 250 odd years) sense that the earth belongs to him to do as he wishes with it for progress?

If anything the above is what is the underlying belief that perhaps we need to look at again.

Here's a link to something I posted earlier, which wasn't read through because too many were too busy looking at who was saying it. For this time, lets put the speaker aside, forgive him his lineage and listen to the concepts and ideas put forth:

I imagine the responsibility you bear compels you from time to time to step back and take stock of your perspective. After all, our view can so easily become obscured by the cultural values that surround us all and if our view is not wide enough - or deep enough - then our perspective cannot be sure.

In fact, there is mounting evidence that our collective perspective is not at all as sure as we once thought it was. Wherever you look the arguments that justify what we call “progress” are finding it harder and harder to hide the less than glamorous side-effects of all we have achieved. The present crisis in the financial world, known to us all as the “Credit Crunch”, is but one recent graphic example; the environmental crisis that confronts us and is, in fact, a “Climate Crunch”, is another. I wonder, though, whether these crises would have flared so alarmingly had our perspective been somewhat wider when the decisions that have caused the troubles we now face were originally taken?

Also, we live in an age when technological ease has become so much a part of the accustomed way of life that it seems “natural” to some, and even their right. But what does our comprehensive dependence upon such technology do to our connection with Nature and its patterns? Is it possible that it has loosened our inner moorings and shifted our orientation onto something extraneous to us? Does our increasing dependence upon technology begin to make us believe that we, too, and the world about us, are merely part of some enormous mechanical process?

[...] I would like to explain what lies at the heart of my concern and why I have expended so much of my energy trying to rectify the problem in the areas where it has manifested itself most virulently. I want to do this because the way you see the world, Ladies and Gentlemen - the way you understand why things are the way they are – is, I would suggest, vital to the future of this threatened planet.

It was a question from a newspaper correspondent back in the 1930s that drew from Mahatma Gandhi one of his pithiest responses. During his visit to Britain he was asked what he thought of Western Civilisation, to which he replied, “it would be a very good idea.”

Gandhi realized that Humanity has a natural tendency to consume and that if there are no limits on that tendency we can become obsessed simply with satisfying our desires. The desire grows ever more potent as we consume ever more, even though we achieve very little of the actual satisfaction we desire. Is this not so in the Western world today? Despite such high levels of consumption, we hear so many people admitting to feeling deeply dissatisfied. Studies now show this to be the case too. A report by the Children’s Society in this country concluded earlier this year that the pressure on children, particularly those from poorer backgrounds, to have the latest designer clothes and computer games is resulting in more and more of them falling into depression. Which reminds me of that wise observation about Gross National Product made by Robert Kennedy forty years ago, that it “measures everything except that which makes life worthwhile.”

One of the downsides of consumerism, it seems to me, is that it forces us to compromise on issues that should not be compromised. I’m sure there are many people who know that it is wrong to plunder the Earth’s treasures as recklessly as we do, but the comprehensive world view which we now inhabit persuades us that such destruction is justified because of the freedom it brings us, not to say the profits. In other words, our tendency to consume is legitimized by a view of the world that puts Humanity at the centre of things, operating with an absolute right over Nature. And that makes it a very dangerous world view indeed.

It is an approach which accepts as the norm a one-sided, entirely “linear” form of progress and an extremely literalized view of the world. For some reason we have been persuaded that what we see is all we get. It is a view encouraged, I am afraid, by some of the Media, and it concentrates only on the outward parts of creation. It does not look to the whole - so much so that we happily de-construct the world around us, dismissing as unreal anything that cannot be objectively measured and tested. It is, if you like, a world of only visible quantities.

The question I would ask you to ponder this evening, then, is whether this predominantly rational, technologically driven and secularist approach to life is actually “fit for purpose” in the twenty-first century?

[...]

So, what I am suggesting then is a regaining of an active appreciation of the harmony inherent in all life. And that means, shifting our perception; taking a step back and seeing that we are not separate from Nature - we are immersed in it completely, as a fish is in water. ~ Prince Charles


Perhaps its time for the Age of Balance...
posted by infini at 10:56 AM on June 21, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Hey Storybored, why don't you post the rest of that paragraph you so selectively quoted?

'but these swing both ways. For example, the response of clouds could slow the warming or speed it up.

With so much at stake, it is right that climate science is subjected to the most intense scrutiny. What does not help is for the real issues to be muddied by discredited arguments or wild theories'."



Um, I don't have a problem with the rest of that quote. In fact it underlines exactly what I'm saying namely there is uncertainty which must be recognized. The response of clouds could slow or speed up warming. I'm also fine with leaving out discredited arguments and wild theories. The uncertainty remains.

@Stbalbach - The IPCC does have a healthy regard for uncertainty in its work. It's in the debate where the nuance gets lost. Unfortunately, it's the one nuance which is most important because in the middle of spectrum of opinion between the deniers and the apocalyptos, are those who are trying to grapple with the uncertainty.
posted by storybored at 11:45 AM on June 21, 2010


This has been such a painful thread to read.

The simple, uncontestable fact is that the closer you get to having scientific expertise about anthropogenic climate change, the more likely you are to accept the general hypothesis and conclusions, and when you've truly got an opinion worth considering, there are no alternatives but to accept the general theory. And the likely ramifications, even considered conservatively and accepting that it's based in part on probabilistic modelling, are vast, for current civilisation and the biosphere.

This has all been very well proven, is not even worth debating.

So, if you don't like or don't want to 'believe' the above facts, you have to basically reject the scientific approach which has served us rather well for rather a long time.

Which I guess is your right. Idiocy is still not criminal

However, you need to accept that you've made a non-rational decision, and that you are a willing or unwilling dupe of vested interests, that are seriously likely to fuck up the planet beyond recognition in less than a century.

Which makes many people, me included, rather angry.
posted by wilful at 11:17 PM on June 21, 2010 [3 favorites]


As somebody who does not follow climate change arguments at all any more - is anybody actually DOING ANYTHING about climate change, aside from flying around the world for climate change conferences? I seem to recall a recent one being in Bali, of all places.
posted by antifuse at 7:47 AM on June 22, 2010


We either make the necessary changes voluntarily and over time, or we are forced to make changes rapidly. The latter will be much harder on us.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:49 AM on June 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Study examines scientists' 'climate credibility'
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:07 AM on June 22, 2010


Antifuse and fff's comments reinforce my point above: we -- as people who believe in climate change and care what happens -- need to stop trying to win the debate about whether it's occurring and start talking about why people should [support renewable energy subsidies] even if they don't.
posted by salvia at 8:17 AM on June 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


salvia makes a strong point. The issue is not who believes or not or who wins. The issue is enabling and incentivizing positive change.

If email works and improves your communication great (and its side effect is less paper and postage and deliver/gas/manpower) for example
posted by infini at 8:26 AM on June 22, 2010


Yes, some of the conferences (Bali was in 2007) are an excuse for some groups/politicians to get an all-expense free trip but the goal of most of the conferences is not so much educating people as agreeing on (realistic) legislation and regulations that can be brought back to the attendee's home countries and hopefully passed, making a difference in that country's carbon footprint. Small steps though, small steps.
posted by saucysault at 8:42 AM on June 22, 2010


But hey, the comforting thing is that the planet will recover from our tender mercies, eventually, and who knows what totally cool new forms of life may emerge next time?

If the next 'cool form of life' developed consciousness and investigated leftover ruins and fossils, would you really want that to be our legacy? that we had actually figured out what was happening, understood what we had to do to stop it, but in the end, just couldn't give up our SUV's?

It could also be a pretty rough road to extinction - it's not some abstract thing. You are endorsing the idea of leaving the next generation with a harsher world in order to enjoy extra appliances now. Sure, the planet will eventually recover, but what about all the individuals who suffer in the short term? If that can be avoided, or if we can do our best to avoid it at least, it seems like the obvious choice.

It's not even as if the climate scientists are asking anything crazy - just some emission reductions, some conscientiousness... As far as I understand it, the only downsides being claimed are economic, and those aren't very convincing, considering we could invest in new energy technology. But it's not like anyone's making radical "let's cause cooling" sort of plans - it's all just "reduce the footprint".
posted by mdn at 9:13 AM on June 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


You are endorsing the idea of leaving the next generation with a harsher world in order to enjoy extra appliances now. Sure, the planet will eventually recover, but what about all the individuals who suffer in the short term? If that can be avoided, or if we can do our best to avoid it at least, it seems like the obvious choice.

I'm not endorsing any such thing, and I'm always in favor of preventing preventable suffering among living creatures. I'm just looking dispassionately at the odds here, which seem strongly in favor of inertia. Of course, people can change their attitudes and behaviors, but we're talking about 1) hundreds and hundreds of millions of people voluntarily adopting a lifestyle they perceive to be significantly less comfortable and convenient -- and for the long haul, not for 3-4 war years; and 2) whole leviathan, lucrative industries (the ones that own most of government) being somehow motivated to retool or go away.

The question is, what does it take to inspire that level of change? "Science says" isn't doing it. Chicken Little isn't doing it. "Oh, won't someone think of the children" ain't working. As others have noted, the kind of scary-ass events that might spur masses of people to action are ones that will likely signal it's already way too late for course correction.

Salvia is absolutely right: "we -- as people who believe in climate change and care what happens -- need to stop trying to win the debate about whether it's occurring and start talking about why people should [support renewable energy subsidies] even if they don't."

And nobody needs to worry about educating people over 40. First of all, the ones with the power aren't going to listen or care. And the powerless ones like me grew up in a world where a family routinely shared a single bathroom and a single car and a single phone bolted to the kitchen wall -- so we'll have no big problem adapting. It's the people under 30, who have never lived in that world, and particularly kids, that everybody needs to chip away at.

I'm still pretty skeptical that humans will turn off of a road our species has been merrily skipping down for millennia now, but I'd love to be proved wrong.
posted by FelliniBlank at 2:15 PM on June 22, 2010


"The likely ramifications(of GW), even considered conservatively and accepting that it's based in part on probabilistic modelling, are vast, for current civilisation and the biosphere."

This is true climate change in general. Our current civilization has evolved in a hospitable phase(ie intergalacial) which isn't guaranteed to last human induced warming or no. As I've said before we are geologically heading towards another ice age. So my question is what do we do cut back on CO2 emissions until the earth starts cooling down and then start pumping them into the atmosphere again when the inevitable slide towards the next ice age begins? My point is not to say we shouldn't be good shepherds of our planet but to point out the absurdity of your statement.

"This has all been very well proven, is not even worth debating."

This statement goes against the very nature of what science is and stands for. Nothing is ever proven, nothing is ever not worth debating. That's kinda the whole point of science last time I checked.

Again to be clear so no one misunderstands my position. I am not saying that we should keep pumping CO2 into the atmosphere. I support a recudtion of our species carbon footprint as a matter of prudence. What I do not support is the position of a large majority of the people posting here that we completely understand the ecology of our planet and that the current "warming trend" is anthropogenic beyond all shadow of a doubt. I am willing to accept that it may well be the cause but to say it is proven is kind of premature considering how long we've been keeping track. Again this does not mean i think it is ok for us to keep going on business as usual. Which bring me to my next point(rant).

How many of you GW adherents own cars? How many of you have solar panels on your roof; or windmills in your backyards? Guess what I don't own a car. And I can guarantee that my carbon footprint is definitely smaller than the majority of people posting here. I think it is very hypocritical of you to criticize me, typing on computers made possible by the burning and extraction of fossil fuels, for daring to suggest that maybe we don't completely understand the relationship of our atmosphere to the planets carbon reserves.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 2:58 PM on June 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Felliniblank: The question is, what does it take to inspire that level of change? "Science says" isn't doing it. Chicken Little isn't doing it. "Oh, won't someone think of the children" ain't working.

It's not all that complicated: High gas prices do it. They do it very reliably. They did it even in the 1970's in the US, when suddenly people became interested in small cars by the millions, and those people became uninterested when availability recovered and prices dropped.

This suggests that the only "scary-ass events that might spur masses of people to action" are the ones that hit the pocketbook. Make it hit the pocketbook now, by making both individuals and industries eat those costs instead of externalizing them, and people will find all kinds of reasons why solar cells and tiny electric cars are cool.
posted by localroger at 3:00 PM on June 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


Make it hit the pocketbook now, by making both individuals and industries eat those costs instead of externalizing them, and people will find all kinds of reasons why solar cells and tiny electric cars are cool.

That's an excellent idea -- but first you need to generate a certain critical mass of public and political will to make that cost-eating a reality. It's that group of early adopters I'm wondering how to convince. Once you get enough of them on board to tip the scales, then you can strongarm the rest.

In my rural region, most folks feel about their gas the way the NRA feels about its guns. Cold. dead. hands. I'm talking about a place where many 10-year-olds have snowmobiles and on weekday mornings, parents fire up the ol' SUV, drive their progeny 200 feet down the driveway, and idle for 15 minutes until the schoolbus arrives. I have personally witnessed guys in enormous pick-up trucks leave them running in the parking lot while they go have breakfast and coffee and jaw at the local diner for an hour or two.
posted by FelliniBlank at 4:26 PM on June 22, 2010


Obama to push climate change on back of BP spill: "The US president will host senators from both parties at the White House – including those who have proposed variations on a climate change bill – but analysts are sceptical about whether he can overcome the political impasse on a proposal that is seen as essentially a tax."

And for the record: I don't "deny" climate change, I disagree with the reactionary "Government act NOW! Do something!" attitude, to which the government replies, "You got it: more taxes."
posted by thescientificmethhead at 4:40 PM on June 22, 2010


"Key senators are weighing a request from Big Oil to levy a carbon fee on the industry rather than wrap it into a sweeping cap-and-trade system that covers most of the U.S. economy."

3 oil giants to support climate legislation.

Exxon boss signals support for carbon tax.
posted by thescientificmethhead at 4:50 PM on June 22, 2010



"This has all been very well proven, is not even worth debating."

This statement goes against the very nature of what science is and stands for. Nothing is ever proven, nothing is ever not worth debating. That's kinda the whole point of science last time I checked.


You're wilfully misunderstanding my point. It is of course worth debating in a scientific sense. That debate continues, however only those with the necessary qualifications are able to participate in that debate, and there is no one in this thread who has credibly claimed that right or ability. Amongst experts, who are the only people whose opinion counts, the consensus is very very strong that there is a high likelihood of anthropogenic climate change occurring.

If and when there are unaccountable facts to contradict the central hypothesis, these are or will be debated vigorously. At this point in time though, there are no central contradictory facts, so there is no fundamental debate occurring.


I was thinking about the concept of relevance on the train this morning, and I think I can discern three levels at which an opinion can be formed about the science that forms the ACC hypothesis, in declining levels of importance or relevance.

Firstly, there are those who are primary researchers, who are publishing in the field and have direct, immediate experience in how the evidence is gathered and interpreted. These are mostly climatologists, but it's multi-disciplinary. There are basically a grand total of two semi-sceptics (who both actually accept ACC, just quibble over particulars) in existence at this level, Lindzen and Pielke Jr., swamped by thousands of credible researchers who are basing their research on well-proven physical attributes of atmospheric gases, that have been accepted since 1896, and actively researched since the 1950s.

At the second level, there are those, mostly scientists, who understand the scientific process properly, and who may have associated or devolved research programs, such as biological impacts of climate change, and philosophers of science. These sorts of people aren't able to directly critique the science, but can check that the proper credible processes are being followed and that this is rigorous science. I am in that group, I have a research masters degree in a biological science, I have studied philosophy of science, I read the primary literature and I currently commission and manage climate change related science. I know what the review and checking process actually entails. Of the things like the "Oregon Petition" there are in fact a few people who legitimately belong in this group, as well as rather a large number of people who would like to think they belong in this group, but frankly don't. Overwhelmingly, but less than in the first rank, members of this group accept ACC. The aforementioned Freeman Dyson is obviously some form of dissenter, who has some general qualifications to comment on science principles, but not on climatology. At this level, the term "sceptic" can be used accurately.

The theft of the CRU emails was a (failed) attempt to damage credibility at this level, to say there was something stinky with the processes. Of course, there was no such thing, and even if there was, it didn't affect the hypothesis one little bit.

The third level of opinion are those who think they understand science but frankly don't, they just don't have the experience or education to understand it. Which is not to say they're uneducated or stupid - hey some of my best friends are arts graduates. This group thinks that science is constructed in the same way as politics, economics etc are constructed, as a matter of contesting ideologies. They have been supported unwittingly by a populist, unsophisticated reading of Kuhn and the antirealists, and by post-modernism. These people mostly tend to see the debate from previous positions. Due to a strong trust in science, thankfully most people accept ACC as a "fact". At this level, the term "denier" is more appropriate, because people aren't even qualified to be sceptical.

The third level is the level at which most of the critics have had to be focused (since they've got not much else to work with). This is the level that attacks the credibility of the popularisers of science (Al Gore is fat!!), that says that international meetings are hypocritical, etc etc. It's pretty desperate, and pretty evil, since it's quite blatantly motivated by perceived short-term advantage, either in economic and resource terms, or trying to win the culture wars.
posted by wilful at 5:13 PM on June 22, 2010 [5 favorites]


I think it is very hypocritical of you to criticize me
It's not in the slightest hypocritical to criticise your position on doubt, regardless of the size of your critics' carbon footprint. Ad hominem on your part springs to mind, though.
posted by bonaldi at 5:35 PM on June 22, 2010


Felliniblank, a couple of years ago in the dead of night Congress made an entire very popular industry illegal -- online video poker. They did it with no public input, as a rider amendment on a totally unrelated must-pass bill, and poof went a $15bn a year industry.

Our government has amply proven that it doesn't need the kind of consensus you speak of to move. It only requires the wealthy people who actually run things to reach such a consensus. And if those people wake up one day and realize it will suck even for their kids to live in a world where billions are starving and there are no more beaches, you will see your $10 gas no matter how much your friends like to ride their snowmobiles.

It hasn't been about popular will for a long time. It's about whether the masters of the universe, most of whom aren't nearly as smart as they think they are, figure out what's in their own best interests.
posted by localroger at 6:00 PM on June 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


I think it is very hypocritical of you to criticize me, typing on computers made possible by the burning and extraction of fossil fuels, for daring to suggest that maybe we don't completely understand the relationship of our atmosphere to the planets carbon reserves.

Actually, you're being criticized for being a dumbass about it all. No one claims ultimate perfect knowledge of the entire shebang. But the consensus on AGW is as close to 100% as any science gets, yet here you go again putting quotes around "warming trend" and denying that humans are responsible for what's currently happening to our atmosphere, and other dumbassery of that sort.

Perhaps you're being contrary and thick just for kicks. I don't see how it can otherwise be of any benefit to you.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:33 PM on June 22, 2010


It is of course worth debating in a scientific sense. That debate continues, however only those with the necessary qualifications are able to participate in that debate, and there is no one in this thread who has credibly claimed that right or ability. Amongst experts, who are the only people whose opinion counts, the consensus is very very strong that there is a high likelihood of anthropogenic climate change occurring.

If and when there are unaccountable facts to contradict the central hypothesis, these are or will be debated vigorously. At this point in time though, there are no central contradictory facts, so there is no fundamental debate occurring."


I totally agree with everything you have said here. I am not claiming to be an authority or claiming that I am making a deeply insightful point. My only claim is a very simple and straightforward one: We don't completely understand what is happening, we have evidence that we are causing GW by dumping CO2 into the atmosphere, we run models on our computers to try and predict what will happen. These models are by their very nature flawed and incomplete. Is this a reason to ignore the evidence? As I have stated time and time again in this thread HELL NO.

So where does that leave us? As a species we have some hard choices to make. Our urban based society is untenable as is. Either a lot of people need to die or we need to seriously change the way we are all living our lives. Not just Americans or Chinese, but every human on the planet. You and I aren't making these choices. These choices are being made by the plutocrats that run our economies, governments, and financial institutions. Individuals have two options; they can lobby their governments for change(good luck with that) or they can take matters into their own hands.

What are you doing? Are you living your life normally? Because if you are and you come on here and post about how sure the science is and how fucked the planet is you are the very definition of a hypocrite. Sell you cars. Sell your urban houses. Sell everything in your urban based shit life and move to a place where you can buy some land. Build a windmill, buy some solar panels, and plant a garden and a shit ton of trees. Because if the planet is really fucked like you are all claiming it is then you have to do this. Continuing with your current lives just makes the tragi-comedy all the more tragic and all the more comedic. If what you people are saying is true then just cutting carbon emissions is not enough.

Now we have come full circle back to Freeman Dyson. His position is not that of a "denier" as some of you have claimed. His position is actually more proactive, and fundamentally more hopeful, than any I have heard here. (or anywhere else for that matter)

Metafilter: OMG PLANET HAXORZ WEZ ARZ FUXORZ.

Freeman Dyson: Now don't get all worked up. Yes the planet is probably warming up and the CO2 in the atmosphere is increasing, but we can change this by changing our land management policies. No need to predict the apocalypse. Besides our picture of the situation is far from complete and the models are only as good as their inputs. Instead of rogering about with at bunch of models we should be looking for practical ways to solve the problem.

Metafilter: OMG DENIERZ IDIOT NOT AUTORIty OURZ SCIENZ iZ SuPERIOR

Freeman Dyson: Now chaps no reason to get offended. We just need to roll up our shirt sleeves and use our knowledge of science, ie biology, to genetically engineer microbes that will consume CO2. Combined with smart land management we can beat this!

Metafilter: (more pissing and whining about how fucked we are and pontificating on the purity and truth of GWT)

...meanwhile the earth overheats and 93% of all species die because humans were to busy pontificating about the dangers of global warming instead of changing their lifestyles and doing something proactive about the probelm.

"yet here you go again putting quotes around "warming trend" and denying that humans are responsible for what's currently happening to our atmosphere, and other dumbassery of that sort."

See above tirade.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:46 PM on June 22, 2010


"The theft of the CRU emails was a (failed) attempt to damage credibility at this level, to say there was something stinky with the processes. Of course, there was no such thing, and even if there was, it didn't affect the hypothesis one little bit."

This whole fiasco was blown out of proportion by the MSM, and as you pointed out is really a non-issue as far as the actual science is concerned. The interesting thing about the whole issue, besides everybody dying and the planet burning up, is the social engineering that both sides have engaged in.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 9:59 PM on June 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


actually AE, I pretty much have done all of the things that you've mentioned, my lifestyle is probably below the four tonnes per year individual carbon budget that we'd all get in some contract and converge model.

Your dichotomy between the contents of this thread and practical action by individuals is completely false, and I find it hard to believe you believe it. When people on this thread shout down deniers, and defend the use of sophisticated modelling, that says absolutely zero about everything else they may be doing about climate change, personally or participatory. You don't know what I do, or smoke, or FFF, or anyone else. Chances are however, we're doing more than average.

if you haven't heard or read much optimistic and positive about what individuals can do to help combat climate change, then I don't think you've been paying any attention at all for the last decade. Just one example, this is the most popular climate change book written in the last decade, in Australia, and its focus is primarily on individual action.
posted by wilful at 10:06 PM on June 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Social engineering? huh?
posted by wilful at 10:08 PM on June 22, 2010


AElfwine Evenstar, you make a brave but unconvincing attempt to salvage your thread cred. You change your stance on a couple of key things but also act like this was your take all along, which I don't think is the case.

You go from denying global warming flat out:
"...but anthropogenic climate change has not been scientifically proven and that is just a cold hard fact whether you like it or not." ^ to

"Notice I'm not denying that global warming is happening, in fact I'm willing to entertain the possibility that it may be anthropogenic. All I'm saying is we have no frame of reference and that to promote global warming as gospel is ridiculous." ^ to

"And even if it is anthropogenic what do we do once our culture's carbon footprint is cut down and the climate continues to change like it inevitably will? What do you propose to do then? Shit some other chemicals into the air to change the climate to what we like?... Guess what humans survived the last ice age so I think we will survive a warming." ^ to

asking for peer reviewed journals (which you got quite a few of) that propose that AGW is going to cause an extinction level event, to

the statement about how all science is open to debating, to

in your last comment, "totally agreeing" with wilful's statement: If and when there are unaccountable facts to contradict the central hypothesis, these are or will be debated vigorously. At this point in time though, there are no central contradictory facts, so there is no fundamental debate occurring... and admitting that "we have evidence that we are causing GW by dumping CO2 into the atmosphere".

That was quite a journey you made there.

You don't admit that you were wrong, which is fine by me, but what I don't agree with is how you make it seem like this was your admission all along (it wasn't) and then go on, pretty much right away, to accuse people on the thread of being hysterical ("OMG PLANET HAXORZ WEZ ARZ FUXORZ") hypocrites (because some of us still have cars and don't have solar panels).

What I want to point out is simply this: no one has to be a zero-carbon footprint person to "prove" that their belief in the science of AGW is legitimate. Science already gives it that legitimacy. As you said yourself, these changes are hard, and accepting that AGW is real and threatens our habitat is the first and most crucial step towards that belief. It is also all that AGW scientists, environmentalists and many people of this thread are trying to convince the skeptics to do: agree on the science - in order to build strong political will. Maybe political will won't accomplish much (we can't know), but the lack of it and the apathy towards GW is really hurting the broader conversations and keeping the waters muddy.

I was already behind the theory of AGW, but I have learned a great deal from the excellent comments on this thread, not just about the science but about the reasoning behind people's skepticism and the viability and efficacy of possible solutions. In addition, many people don't comment but do read threads - so you can't tell everything that's going on here just by the comments that are posted (which are naturally, as about any topic, from those who feel strongly about it one way or another).

Most of all - this thread has made you go from being a disbeliever of AGW to agreeing that there is strong evidence which calls for radical actions like giving up cars and building windmills.

If you don't want to give credit to the commenters above (who have patiently debated with you on every issue you've raised), that's fine. But don't be a douche and attack them for not having planted "a shit ton of trees" before they expressed their genuine and science-backed worry about the climate.

In short, I think:
1) This thread was great, not least for changing your mind.
2) You're the hypocrite.
posted by mondaygreens at 10:30 PM on June 22, 2010 [2 favorites]


Thanks for the book. I will start reading as soon as I finish my current reading material.

I'm not trying to question the validity of the science based on what people are doing in their own lives. I am merely pointing out the absurdity hypocrisy of ranting about GW and then living the American dream. If you read what I am saying in this thread you will see that I am on your side. I think we need to take the initiative before any crisis. Unfortunately, wilful, the initiative is going to have to happen on the individual level, because our fearless leaders aren't biting. Unfortunately the best reliable estimates for weaning ourselves off fossil fuels are around 40 to 50 years at this point. If some of the current models are correct, and I hope to god they are not, we ARE fuxored.

Not to mention a lot of other problems

Speaking of reading material, I have been on a Vaclav Smil reading binge lately. If you like the first book here a few other good ones:

Sustainable Energy without the Hot Air

The Earth's Biosphere: Evolution, Dynamics, and Change
- I am just starting this one
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:59 PM on June 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


"You don't admit that you were wrong, which is fine by me, but what I don't agree with is how you make it seem like this was your admission all along (it wasn't)"

Bullshit. Read the first link and two youtube videos I posted. What am I supposed to admit I am wrong about? I still don't believe that we have proven, at least to my liking(which isn't very important in the big picture btw), that GWT is correct. I still don't think that we have good enough of a handle on our planetary ecology to accurately predict or even know if we are on an up or down trend. You are selectively quoting what I say, conveniently leaving out the parts where I repeatedly say that prudence is the best course of action either way.

"asking for peer reviewed journals (which you got quite a few of)"

Actually this is not true. No one linked to any peer reviewed journals claiming an extinction level even is immanent. They linked to pop science articles sensationalizing peer reviewed articles. The one peer reviewed article linked to was an examination of the hypothetical cause for the permian extinction. It wasn't until the last paragraph that our present day situation was even mentioned.

"this thread has made you go from being a disbeliever of AGW to agreeing that there is strong evidence which calls for radical actions like giving up cars and building windmills."

Wrong again, I have always agreed that there is strong evidence, but evidence is different from proof. From my second post in the thread:

"Notice I'm not denying that global warming is happening, in fact I'm willing to entertain the possibility that it may be anthropogenic. All I'm saying is we have no frame of reference and that to promote global warming as gospel is ridiculous. Am I saying we should keep polluting our planet? No, I think we should cut down on carbon emissions and try to keep our planet in as good a condition as possible. But really in the long run we can keep the planet in as good a condition as possible and that is still no guarantee of anything."

I think it's kind of irrelevant whether I believe or disbelieve in AGW, what is relevant is actions. Either way I have never said anything close to the "drill baby drill" position so don't try and paint it that way. As far as my views on what we need to do as a species I think that building windmills, giving up cars, and returning to a more agrarian based society have been my opinion for quite some time and are not a result of this thread.

"2) You're the hypocrite."

Actually I'm consistent. I disagree that AGW is proven beyond a shadow of a doubt. I think as a prudent measure we should immediately begin cutting our CO2 emissions. I am personally trying to do my part. Trying twist my words by selectively quoting is kinda lame and quite pathetic. OH NOES MY METAFILTER CREDZ AREZ FALLINGZ :(
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:27 PM on June 22, 2010


Here's my first post in the thread:

You are so full of shit and you sound like some kind of religious fanatic. Geologically speaking we are heading towards another ice age. Does that mean we should just keep spewing CO2 into the atmosphere willy nillly? Obviously not. Prudence is always the better option. One that in this case I agree with, but anthropogenic climate change has not been scientifically proven and that is just a cold hard fact whether you like it or not. Let me be very clear so as not to confuse people. While I am not convinced about global warming I do think we need to exercise prudence and try to curb our usage of fossil fuels and other pollutants. This is for two reasons: 1) aforementioned prudence and 2) 500-1000 years down the road we can look back and see what the actual effects of putting less carbon into the atmosphere were.

sorry I'm a newb at this. How do you link to a specific post? Anyways there is the full quote before chop job.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:32 PM on June 22, 2010


oh shit I forgot what the mean of is is. fix: what is relevant are actions.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:37 PM on June 22, 2010


Elfstar, nobody cares about your lifestyle. We care about your arguments, which are self-righteous and terrible and seem more geared toward puffing yourself up and making you feel good about yourself than in actually saying anything productive.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:55 PM on June 22, 2010 [1 favorite]


"saying anything productive."

because we're going to solve the problem here right?

"We care about your arguments, which are self-righteous and terrible"

Which arguments are you talking about? My epistemological problems with AGW? How is that self righteous? My original comment was in response to Ortho saying that no one gets to have an opinion. I merely stated mine and caught hell for it. Does that makes me self-righteous? And as far as being productive the only thing you've contributed to the thread have been snarky little remarks here and there which have absolutely nothing to do with the substance of what's being discussed. Care to address anything substantive or are you going to continue with the snark?
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 12:07 AM on June 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


And I'm saying: talking to others about the science and questioning unscientific beliefs is also an action. An important one, in politics.

In your first post, the person you were calling a religious fanatic was making the exact same point that wilful made in the end (that scientific debates are for the scientific community, which you aren't a part of - and that this issue is not much of a debate there), which you ended up quoting and agreeing with.

I didn't quote your most wrong-headed/trolly comments because I was trying to keep things as polite as possible, but okay:

"Guess what humans survived the last ice age so I think we will survive a warming. New York City and Los Angeles might not survive it but in the long run that's probably a good thing as the lifestyle that urban areas promote is not conducive to living "in balance" with nature what ever the fuck that is supposed to mean."
*
"The fact that we know of seven major extinction events should make it obvious to anyone with half a brain that we have way bigger problems to worry about than the planet warming and the sea levels rising."
*
"How is it a contradiction that I think we will be able to survive global warming because we survived the last ice age with stone tool technology being our highest achievement? My point is that extinction events are rare and that temperature variation has usually not led to extinction but rather to migration."
*
"Remember, THERE HAVE BEEN FIVE MAJOR EXTINCTION EVENTS IN THE HISTORY OF LIFE ON EARTH WITHOUT THE HELP OF HUMANS. What does this mean? This means that we should be good stewards of our planet and use the tool of science to understand it as best we can. To claim that we know exactly how the ecosystem works and that we can accurately predict it with computer models if fallacious at face value and extremely arrogant. That is my only point. That so many seemingly educated people cannot see this is kind of depressing."

After this last comment you say that since such kind of "rational" commenting isn't getting you anywhere, you're going.

First: No one (AFAIK) was saying that we know EXACTLY how the ecosystem works and that we can ACCURATELY predict it. What everyone here's been saying, to the best of my understanding, is that we HAVE been using "the tool of science to understand [the planet] as best as we can" and what our science is telling us with strong consensus and no significant contradictions is that anthropogenic GW is a real threat.

No theory can be 100% true. No threat can be proven until it actually materializes. You're saying this is where science fails to convince you, and also that this is what the people on this thread are insisting AGW is - "ACCURATE", which justifies your calling them "fanatics" spouting "gospel". Also refer to the HAXORZ quotes above which you claim define the tone of this thread. No one said that, or anything close to that.

When that strategy failed - with wilful's comment - you hid behind the BS "prudence" line you've been spouting since the beginning when you were saying you don't believe AGW is a real threat. Yes, we should do the right things for the environment because it's prudent, but AGW theory is specifically saying that it's not just prudent but Important, and that the risks of not doing the right thing Urgently are too great to take a chance on. Don't you see how unscientific skepticism then goes utterly against the grain of the kind of solutions (and timeframe) that AGW theory is recommending?

Then you also resorted to saying that those who have carbon footprints were hysterical hypocrites for espousing AGW with such vigor. I mean, whatever - that's not reasoning; that's just spin.

All that wasn't my point, my point was that you CHANGED YOUR MIND. AGW is "scientifically proven". (Science isn't exact; but it is based on evidence and is as such quite reliable, sensible and believable. What it is not is prudent.)

Changing your mind in light of argument is a GOOD THING - so why are you so invested in having been right this whole time? (Don't answer that, it's rhetorical.) As I said before, you don't have to be thankful, but don't be a... anyway. Me, I just like the challenge of trying to write a post you Can't Willfully Misinterpret.
posted by mondaygreens at 12:13 AM on June 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


How do you link to a specific post?

Right-click the time stamp of the post comment.
Select "Copy link location."
In your comment, select the text you want to be a link.
Click link, then paste in your copied URL.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:18 AM on June 23, 2010


Elfstar, nobody cares about your lifestyle. We care about your arguments

Ah, so that's how we save the world: ARGUMENTS!
posted by thescientificmethhead at 7:30 AM on June 23, 2010


self-righteous and terrible and seem more geared toward puffing yourself up and making you feel good about yourself than in actually saying anything productive.

Every criticism is a little autobiography.
posted by thescientificmethhead at 7:37 AM on June 23, 2010


Note to self: ignore the jerk in the corner.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:42 AM on June 23, 2010


thescientificmethhead , I don't know about saving; but how we change the world ethically is by agreement. Which, when people are open minded, comes from trying to convince each other.

In a reasonably free (non-violent) society, that requires argument. That's the whole logic behind democracy. And behind science.

But yes, it breaks down when people are not open-minded. Or talk about irrelevant things instead (especially when the intent is to derail). If you think every criticism is a little autobiography, you need to stop listening so much to people who make everything personal and take everything personally. And maybe try to look for a more, um, scientific method?
posted by mondaygreens at 10:45 AM on June 23, 2010 [2 favorites]


"When that strategy failed - with wilful's comment - you hid behind the BS "prudence" line you've been spouting since the beginning when you were saying you don't believe AGW is a real threat. Yes, we should do the right things for the environment because it's prudent"

How can I "hide behind" a comment that has been a central part of my whole argument from my first post? I've never said GW isn't a real threat I have said that it is not an immediate threat to our species and that an extinction event is not immanent. Another point I have made along this line is that climate change is and has been happening on this planet since time immemorial. So like it or not our comfortable little niche is not going to last whether AGW is happening or not. Prudence is not BS it's logical and in this situation the correct decision. Listen, if you want to keep misrepresenting my clearly stated position from the beginning just because you don't agree with it fine, that's your prerogative.

Now the interesting thing to me, about this whole discussion, is that it is a perfect example of Gödel's incompleteness theorems. The implications of his theorems are basically that any system you try to set up to explain a particular phenomena or prove an axiom will always be internally inconsistent or incomplete. There are always some unprovable assumptions. This is why you can never "prove" something to be true. Hence my position that GW, specifically AGW, is not a scientifically proven fact. I first replied to this thread because of what Orthogonality said:

"Really? You don't "agree" with them? Like the way you don't "agree with" wearing white after Labor Day, or string ties, or red wine with fish?

You're not qualified to "agree" or disagree. Sorry, I know that's so elitist, but it's the case.

You don't get to "agree" or "disagree" unless you have a graduate degree or the equivalent in a relevant discipline. I mean you can, just like you can "disagree" about the curvature or lack thereof of the Earth, or what 7 + 8 equals, and just as usefully."


This statement is what I responded to with posting Freeman Dyson's opinions illustrating that there are some dissenting voices out there. In fact Freeman Dyson, although trained as a physicist, worked for the Lawrence Livermore National Lab on guess what problem???? Global fucking Warming. Something you would know if you actually took the time to watch the youtube links. He admits that he is not trained as a climatologist, but if LLNL is hiring him to work on the problem I guess that means he isn't qualified to have an opinion. Notice that Freeman Dyson isn't a GW denier, as some have claimed. If I was denying that there was a threat or that it was happening why would I link to someone who doesn't deny that it's happening. Furthermore Dyson's position is identical to mine ergo my position is not unique or insightful. My position(Dyson's) has been consistent from the get go although most of you commenting on my position seem to not understand the very simple point I(Dyson) was trying to make.

I then commented on the absurdity and hypocrisy of most people who "believe in" AGW. But I actually hope I am wrong and all of you who are converts are actually following through on your belief system. I hope you are being, ironically, internally consistent. Unfortunately like most religious adherents I'm afraid you say one thing and do another. Please don't get angry at me for challenging you to do the things you say need to be done.

And if you are doing everything you can I hope that you are trying to pass that on to your neighbors, family, and friends because it's going to take a grass roots movement to make a difference on this one. Our corporate overlords aren't gonna play ball I'm afraid.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 5:33 PM on June 23, 2010


you know guys, I think the thread's dying here. There's not a lot of point proving AE wrong, it's not that important. As long as s/he accepts that ACC is vitally important, that's all that matters. All the rest is ego.
posted by wilful at 6:04 PM on June 23, 2010 [3 favorites]


I saw a comment from a climate researcher once. He said, approximately, that usually scientists just make observations, and the media hypes it to the moon, making it sound much more important than it actually is. In the case of climate change, however, it's the scientists that are very upset, jumping up and down and yelling alarm, and they almost never do that. Yet, in the only case he's aware of where the scientific opinion is very close to unanimous, and that consensus opinion is that extremely urgent action needs to be taken to avoid climate catastrophe, the media badly underplays it, and gives far too much credence to 'contrary opinions' that have little weight or real authority behind them.

Coming in very late just to comment on this. A few years ago, curious about this issue, I read a whole bunch of books on climate change and global warming. Some were just crap--I don't understand why anybody would write a book arguing that we are already past the tipping point, that we're doomed already, and then somehow segue from that to all the things I'm supposed to be doing to improve things.

But reading the exact thing you mention in one of the books really made me prick up my ears. I'd been sort of dismissive of global warming fears because the media always makes things sound worse than they are. It's pretty much their stock in trade. So reading a comment like that from a scientist was probably the thing that most made me sit up and take notice.

I was just kind of excited in a "hey, me too!" way to see your comment.
posted by not that girl at 9:17 PM on June 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


AElfwine Evenstar has been here for three weeks and made forty comments, and I bet he's just made a wider reputation around here than I've got.
posted by box at 7:19 AM on June 24, 2010


Here's a nice video detailing an example of the media, not the scientists, blowing things out of proportion.

tl;dw: Daily Mail misinterprets study and makes alarmist claims, blames environmentalists 5 years later.
posted by Bangaioh at 8:22 AM on June 24, 2010


"I bet he's just made a wider reputation around here than I've got"

:( I've been a lurker for years and I signed up to comment on the latest I/P threadnaught. In this particular thread I thought I was making a simple, but interesting, epistemological point about GW. One that maybe gives us some hope instead of the usual doom and gloom. I do think that I came across as heavy handed because I felt that I, and anyone else who dares hold an opinion contrary to the AGW dogma, was being lumped in with the right wing denier drill baby drill crowd. For that I am sorry. Unfortunately the majority of my comments in this thread have been aimed at correcting people trying to twist my very simple argument into something that it is not and then claiming that somehow my original argument isn't what I originally thought and that this thread has somehow changed my mind to what my original opinion was??????? My head hurts.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:32 AM on June 24, 2010


The problem is that you're trying to use the fact that you live what you regard as an exceptionally virtuous lifestyle (the fetishization of lifestyle being one of the more obnoxious and useless aspects of environmentalism) as some kind of argument. We don't give a shit how you live. We care if your positions and arguments are coherent, reasonable, and sound. And rather than make coherent, reasonable, and sound arguments, you've chosen to bludgeon people over the head with your half-assed moral superiority and expected to be treated as some kind of superior being because you claim to have cut your carbon footprint down- as if the act of a private individual were in any sense meaningful against the enormity of society. It's like not filing a lawsuit because you think it'll help society be less litigious when the vast majority of lawsuits are filed by large companies. It's nothing but liberal individualism at its most useless and irritating, and that you're trying to use it as some kind of rhetorical weapon in lieu of actual arguments is bad argumentation and bad community-participation.
posted by Pope Guilty at 12:41 PM on June 24, 2010


OK forget I ever mentioned myself forget me. I believed that I mentioned myself in one post. Jesus Christ you people are the ones fixating on me.

I am actually becoming confused as to what you guys are trying to convince me of.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 1:16 PM on June 24, 2010


Ok I actually recieved some books I ordered today. I began skimming through this one to see if I could find any answers about extinction events and climate change.

Apparently geologists have traditionally blamed ice ages/global cooling or asteroids for extinction events. It is a fairly recent development that global warming has been attributed to extinction events. That being said the time scales we are talking about here range from hundreds of thousands of years to millions of years. So I guess if you are claiming that an extinction level event is immanent you are correct, geologically speaking. This also implies that we have plenty of time to fix the problem which in the end makes Dyson's position much more tenable.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 1:37 PM on June 24, 2010


That being said the time scales we are talking about here range from hundreds of thousands of years to millions of years.... This also implies that we have plenty of time to fix the problem --

Unfortunately, that's not correct. We've really hit the accelerator on geological change. In the 200 years since the start of the Industrial Revolution, we've burned enough fossil fuel to increase atmospheric CO2 from 280 parts per million to 387 parts per million (we know this by direct measurement, not modelling, and we know that the increase is caused by fossil fuels by looking at carbon isotope ratios). The last time it was that high was 15 million years ago. In other words, we've gone through 15 million years of geological change in just 200 years; and we're accelerating, not slowing down. MIT's median projection for atmospheric CO2 in 2095 is 866 ppm.

Note that humans evolved over the last couple million years; we weren't around 15 or 20 million years ago. In an indoor environment, once CO2 reaches 1000 ppm, people start to get drowsy (because of other pollutants, not the CO2 itself).

What effect will this have on temperature? This is known as climate sensitivity, and it can be estimated based on past geological records (not just models). Doubling atmospheric CO2 to 560 ppm will increase average global temperature by roughly 3 degrees. Mark Lynas summarizes anticipated impacts.

How fast is this happening, and how much time do we have to cut back on carbon emissions? The melting of the Arctic sea ice provides a pretty good indication that things are happening quickly. More worrying is the Antarctic land ice: as the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets melt, sea levels will rise.

None of this is particularly mysterious. This is why scientists have been "jumping up and down and yelling alarm," as Malor puts it. They can tell us that we need to do something, but actually doing something is a political problem, not a scientific problem.

The argument that "climate changes all the time, why are we responsible for what happens to the weather?" doesn't make sense because geological change happens over very long time periods -- hundreds of thousands or millions of years, as you observed. During shorter time periods, the climate is stable. Agriculture-based human civilization is only about 8000 years old. To human beings, a hundred thousand years might as well be infinity (the same reason we don't worry about the sun blowing up a couple billion years from now).

Putting the science aside, you've said yourself that it's imprudent to keep pumping CO2 into the atmosphere. So what should we do?

Freeman Dyson isn't too worried because he thinks that in the near future, we should be able to genetically engineer carbon-eating trees. Of course, we don't have that technology yet, so it seems unwise to count those chickens before they're hatched. More geo-engineering ideas.

Paul Krugman provides a good overview of climate economics: how to control greenhouse gases with minimal economic impact. The two main free-market solutions are cap-and-trade, used successfully to control sulfur dioxide emissions in the US at considerably lower cost than expected; and a carbon tax. What would the overall economic impact be?
Just as there is a rough consensus among climate modelers about the likely trajectory of temperatures if we do not act to cut the emissions of greenhouse gases, there is a rough consensus among economic modelers about the costs of action. That general opinion may be summed up as follows: Restricting emissions would slow economic growth — but not by much. The Congressional Budget Office, relying on a survey of models, has concluded that Waxman-Markey "would reduce the projected average annual rate of growth of gross domestic product between 2010 and 2050 by 0.03 to 0.09 percentage points." That is, it would trim average annual growth to 2.31 percent, at worst, from 2.4 percent. Over all, the Budget Office concludes, strong climate-change policy would leave the American economy between 1.1 percent and 3.4 percent smaller in 2050 than it would be otherwise.

And what about the world economy? In general, modelers tend to find that climate-change policies would lower global output by a somewhat smaller percentage than the comparable figures for the United States. The main reason is that emerging economies like China currently use energy fairly inefficiently, partly as a result of national policies that have kept the prices of fossil fuels very low, and could thus achieve large energy savings at a modest cost. One recent review of the available estimates put the costs of a very strong climate policy — substantially more aggressive than contemplated in current legislative proposals — at between 1 and 3 percent of gross world product.
Whenever the status quo is unsustainable, it takes a long time to convince people that things need to change. (Lord Salisbury: "The commonest error in politics is sticking to the carcass of dead policies.") But the longer we delay, the more painful it will be to change.
posted by russilwvong at 4:32 PM on June 24, 2010 [11 favorites]


I would also note that a 3 degree global increase doesn't mean that temperatures go up exactly 3 degrees all over the planet. That increase is an average measure, with the temperature at the equator rising slightly while temperatures go up by increasing amounts the closer you get to the poles. A single degree of increase worldwide means several degrees' increase at the the poles.
posted by Pope Guilty at 8:14 PM on June 24, 2010


"Unfortunately, that's not correct. We've really hit the accelerator on geological change."

So how much CO2 do you think the Siberian and Emeishan Traps pumped into the atmosphere over their eruptive lifetimes? The extinctions that occured and the climate change that occurred still happened on a geologic timescale. over hundreds of thousand to millions of years. If you are going to sit here and claim that 150 odd years of industrialization can compare to 500,000-1,000,000 years of two separate supervolcano complexes pumping CO2 into the atmosphere then go right ahead.

There are other explanations for the warming.

"A single degree of increase worldwide means several degrees' increase at the the poles."


If you look at this graph Pope Guilty you will see that global temperature has varied greatly over the course of this planets history. Variations which put our current warming to shame. This is actually a great site which kinda puts things into perspective. I find it disingenuous when someone shows me a graph of the last fifty years and expects me to make an informed opinion.

"The last time it was that high was 15 million years ago."

This is a horrible argument. Was life in danger of an immanent extinction event 15 million years ago? Guess what C02 levels were even higher 30 million years ago and there were alligators and palm trees in greenland and northern alaska. To claim that we are on the verge of catastrophe is just plain silly. Life and our planet are resilient.

Again let me reiterate that I DO NOT conclude that we should go on burning fossil fuels willy nilly. We should be very careful what we do to our planet until we are able to understand and manipulate it on a reliable basis.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:18 AM on June 25, 2010


"Of course, we don't have that technology yet, so it seems unwise to count those chickens before they're hatched."

Which is precisely why I think we should cut down on carbon emissions.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 10:30 AM on June 25, 2010


To claim that we are on the verge of catastrophe is just plain silly.

Billions of people that are going to die because their water supplies and food sources dry up and disappear. Not a catastrophe at all: what a bunch of pussies!
posted by five fresh fish at 11:00 AM on June 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Was life in danger of an imminent extinction event 15 million years ago? Guess what CO2 levels were even higher 30 million years ago and there were alligators and palm trees in greenland and northern alaska. To claim that we are on the verge of catastrophe is just plain silly. Life and our planet are resilient.

Your perspective is admirably broad. I'm reminded of this great comment:
From a geologic point of view, carbon dioxide is irrelevant to climate. This is because the CO2 will simply accelerate silicate weathering, drawing it out of the atmosphere and eventually precipitating it as carbonate.

While there may be transient effects, the timescale of those effects is too fine to resolve geologically, so they aren’t worth worrying about.

As for the effects of climate on the biota, that too is irrelevant. Species go extinct all the time, and when they do, something else radiates into their niche.

So from the planetary perspective, this whole CO2 thing is just another blip like the PETM. In a few million years, it will be nothing but a curiosity. Narrow-minded activists interested in the survival of particular subgroups such as ice-dwelling pinnipeds or bipedal primates might complain, but to what end? We’re all headed for the fossil record eventually, so changing the extinction time of a particular group by a few tens of kiloyears isn’t going to be detectable in the long run.
If you are going to sit here and claim that 150 odd years of industrialization can compare to 500,000-1,000,000 years of two separate supervolcano complexes pumping CO2 into the atmosphere then go right ahead.

You may find it hard to believe, but the scale of industrialization is truly massive. According to Wikipedia, the Emeishan Traps are relatively small compared to the Siberian Traps. How much carbon was released by the Siberian Traps? A 2002 article by Rosalind V. White (a British geologist) on the end-Permian mass extinction:
Over the entire eruptive period, up to 11 000 Gt of carbon was released by the Siberian Traps (assuming a volume of 2.3 × 106 km3 and degassing of 0.6 wt% CO2). The total CO2 released is equivalent to addition of ca. 5000 ppm CO2 to the atmosphere (cf. modern-day value of 370 ppm), although the protracted period of release and the activity of CO2-drawdown mechanisms means that the volcanism probably led to an approximate doubling of atmospheric CO2 (this assumes release over only 200 kyr, see Berner (2002)).
According to this page on the carbon cycle, there's 5 000 Gt of carbon locked up in conventional fossil fuels, and we're releasing it at a far faster rate than the Siberian Traps.
A look at this table (and at figure 1) shows that if we were to burn all the world's fossil fuel reserves in a short period of time, atmospheric CO2 would rise by about a factor of eight. The air around us would then hold almost ten times more CO2 than in pre-industrial times, when for millennia the concentration held relatively steady at 280 ppm.
Again, our best estimate is that each time we double atmospheric CO2, average temperature increases by 3 degrees Celsius.

There are other explanations for the warming.

See this explanation of climate sensitivity. By doubling atmospheric CO2, we're increasing the average temperature. There may be other factors which are also increasing the temperature.
So when we talk about climate sensitivity to doubled CO2, we're talking about the change in global temperatures from a radiative forcing of 3.7 Wm-2. This forcing doesn't necessarily have to come from CO2. It can come from any factor that causes an energy imbalance.
posted by russilwvong at 12:26 PM on June 25, 2010 [5 favorites]


This article claims that 100,000 GT or more was released along with a host of other nasty shit including methyl chloride. This peer-reviewed paper claims it was the introduction of methyl chloride and other ozone killing compounds that caused the great dying by depleting the ozone leading to "increased terrestrial incidence of harmful ultraviolet-B radiation." Also as the paper states these numbers are surely low because of the erosion of the permian deposits which form the siberian traps. Also these numbers do not include the Emeishan Traps or any other volcanic deposits which have been destroyed due to subduction. In fact if the mass volcanism at the end of the Permian was caused by a large bolide impact as has been hypothesized by many geologist, then the total amount of CO2 and other poisonous gases released is almost surely higher than anything that has ever occurred in the history of the planet and surely more that humanity can ever hope to release into the atmosphere. This is evidenced by the Permian extinction event itself. It is a unique event(as far as magnitude is concerned) in the geology, biology, and ecology of our planet.

Also the paper you linked to has this to say about CO2 induced GW:

"Global warming alone, however, struggles to explain an extinction of the magnitude
observed. While the effects on land could have been sufficiently devastating to explain
the terrestrial extinctions in terms of loss of habitat and breakdown in the food chain,
in the oceans the increased temperatures might be expected to favour an increase in
diversity, especially at high latitudes."


and she ends the paper with this:

"One issue to contemplate is whether the present Earth is liable to undergo a
similar series of events, leading to extinction of modern biota. Several factors point
to our relative safety for the immediate future: no massive-scale volcanism, effective
oceanic circulation and efficient carbon sinks. Nonetheless, this stability cannot be
guaranteed, and although the chances of us as individuals experiencing this sort of
trauma are vanishingly small, in geological time, the destruction of Homo sapiens is
a near certainty."


So the paper you linked to does not even support the position you are trying to take here. If I understand your position correctly, that is. I bolded the important part that relates to Freeman Dyson's position; that the solution to our current situation is a land management issue.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 1:54 PM on June 26, 2010


Here is the reason for the increase in estimates of the CO2 release by the Siberian traps.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 2:04 PM on June 26, 2010


Also, just for reference, humans produce around 8 GT of CO2 per year. That means it will take us 12,500 years to produce the amount of CO2 that the Siberian traps released over an estimated 200,000 year period. So granted we are doing it at a much quicker pace, but I must once again point out that 100,000 GT is most surely a low-ball estimate and not the sole cause of the extinction event as discussed in the second paper I linked to.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 2:53 PM on June 26, 2010


From this site that you linked to russilwvong.

"What the science says...
The climate reacts to whatever is forcing it to change at the time, which nowadays is dominated by humans."


Ok this perfectly illustrates what is wrong with most AGW arguments. The science says nothing about AGW. Science is a mute mistress. Their interpretation of the evidence leads them to conclude that humans are the main driver of climate change. It's like the quantum theory in physics or the sun revolving around the earth. Just because the evidence is interpreted in a certain way doesn't make it correct. This is basically my epistemological problem with AGW in a nutshell.

Just because a majority of scientists interpret data a certain way does not make it true or infallible. Given the complexity of our planetary ecosystem I am highly skeptical that at this early point in time we have a firm grasp of what drives our climate. Pope Guilty you claimed I was using rhetorical tricks in place of good arguments, but part of my point is that unfortunately most of the time these types of arguments are "won" by rhetorical tricks like: "you can't argue with the science", "there is a consensus", or "you don't get to have an opinion," without ever actually addressing any of the pertinent facts. Which as we can see when addressed are a little more complex than the MSM and most scientists present them as.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 3:38 PM on June 26, 2010


So the paper you linked to does not even support the position you are trying to take here. If I understand your position correctly, that is.

The point I'm making is that we're adding CO2 to the atmosphere at an extremely rapid rate compared to past geological processes, and so we can expect changes to happen much more quickly than they have in the past; it's not going to take hundreds of thousands of years. As you said: we're releasing CO2 at a much faster pace than even an extreme event like the Siberian Traps eruptions (about 15 times faster!). Which is why we're on our way to tripling the preindustrial level of CO2 by 2095, whereas the Siberian Traps eruptions are believed to have only doubled CO2 levels.

An aside:

This article claims that 100,000 GT or more --

Actually, it says "as much as 100,000 gigatons", i.e. that's a maximum estimate, not a minimum. Unfortunately I couldn't find the actual scientific paper (I'm curious if they're talking about gigatons of CO2 or gigatons of carbon).

Another estimate (Jonathan Payne at Stanford, April 2010): 13,000 to 43,000 gigatons of carbon.

I'm not making any argument about the role that CO2 played in the Permian-Triassic extinction event. According to Wikipedia, the causes of the extinction aren't well-understood; there's several theories (meteor impact is just one).

To me, the "geological perspective" is a red herring. Yes, over the course of hundreds of thousands of years, the Earth's climate isn't stable, it can change dramatically. To me, this is about as relevant as saying that five billion years from now, the sun is going to blow up. On a human time scale--again, agriculture-based civilization is only about eight thousand years old--a hundred thousand years might as well be infinity. On a human time scale, the climate has been stable. We've now driven atmospheric CO2 to a level last seen 15 million years ago.

Their interpretation of the evidence leads them to conclude that humans are the main driver of climate change.

Nowadays, yes. This Skeptical Science article summarizes the various factors causing radiative forcing (including cosmic rays).

As I said before, it's pretty simple: we know that we've increased atmospheric CO2 from 280 parts per million to 387 ppm, heading for 866 ppm in 2095 (i.e. a tripling of preindustrial CO2 levels). We know that each doubling of CO2 corresponds to a radiative forcing of 3.7 watts per square metre, and we know that a radiative forcing of this magnitude results in an increase in average global temperature of roughly 3 degrees Celsius. How much interpretation do you need?

--the solution to our current situation is a land management issue.

It's a possible solution, not the solution. Freeman Dyson:
To stop the carbon in the atmosphere from increasing, we only need to grow the biomass in the soil by a hundredth of an inch per year. Good topsoil contains about ten percent biomass, [Schlesinger, 1977], so a hundredth of an inch of biomass growth means about a tenth of an inch of topsoil. Changes in farming practices such as no-till farming, avoiding the use of the plow, cause biomass to grow at least as fast as this. If we plant crops without plowing the soil, more of the biomass goes into roots which stay in the soil, and less returns to the atmosphere. If we use genetic engineering to put more biomass into roots, we can probably achieve much more rapid growth of topsoil. I conclude from this calculation that the problem of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is a problem of land management, not a problem of meteorology. ...

We do not know whether intelligent land-management could increase the growth of the topsoil reservoir by four billion tons of carbon per year, the amount needed to stop the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. All that we can say for sure is that this is a theoretical possibility and ought to be seriously explored.
Which seems perfectly reasonable to me; but assuming that it'll be successful would be counting our chickens before they're hatched.

Hence the need to reduce our carbon emissions, which we both agree on. I think we disagree on the time scale; if I understand your position correctly, you think we have plenty of time (tens of thousands of years, which is basically infinity). My understanding is that atmospheric CO2 is already at a dangerous level, and if we keep going in the same direction for another couple decades, things will get more and more exciting. In a bad way.
posted by russilwvong at 11:37 PM on June 26, 2010 [2 favorites]


Just because the evidence is interpreted in a certain way doesn't make it correct.

Just because there's lots more CO2 in the air and sea, and people are dumping lots and lots of CO2 into the air and sea, doesn't mean those two things are connected. Because my epistemology says we can't know anything. At all.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 12:15 AM on June 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


"Payne said humans may not ultimately release as much carbon dioxide as the Siberian traps, but we may be doing it at a faster rate. The end-Permian extinction could be viewed as a "worst case scenario" for what we could be facing as we burn more fossil fuels and increase ocean acidity, he said.

"We won't necessarily end up with a world that looks as bad as it did after the end-Permian extinction, but that event highlights the fact that things can go very, very wrong," Payne said."


Ok basically I think we can both agree that it comes down to whether you think we are in imminent danger of an extinction event. Several peer reviewed papers I have read state that we are in no imminent danger. Even the above quote from one of your links seems to imply that we have plenty of time to fix the problem. It explicitly states that an extinction event is a worst case senario, and says nothing about the timescales involved. I doubt most climate scientists would make the claim that we are in imminent danger of an extinction level event. What they do claim, more believably, is that we are in danger of making coastal areas uninhabitable by humans.

"Actually, it says "as much as 100,000 gigatons", i.e. that's a maximum estimate, not a minimum."

Sorry I was referencing the second link not the first article that I linked to. In the second link it says:

"Inclusion of pyroclastic and intrusive sediments increases the total area of the
province to 1.5!106 km2 although the original area was undoubtedly much
larger."


Since estimates of emissions are partly based on the are of the volcanic deposits this means that 100,000 is a low estimate. Again this doesn't include any other instances of volcanism that were occurring at the same time. The Siberian and Emeshian traps are the only two surviving examples we have.

"the causes of the extinction aren't well-understood; there's several theories"

There are currently 5 competing theories:
1. meteor impact
2. mass volcanism
3. out-gassing, through the ocean, of toxic compounds into the atmosphere
4. volcanism associated with the out-gassing of ozone killing compounds leading to increased exposure to UV radiation
5. meteor impact triggering mass volcanism which leads to rising CO2 levels and injection of ozone killing compounds which lead to rising levels of UV radiation exposure.

I think the last one is the most likely but what do I know. You have to admit it is the shitstorm of all time. It also explains why the permian extinction was as big as it was compared the other extinction level events the planet has experienced.

"On a human time scale, the climate has been stable."

Really are you sure about that? I was under the assumption that sea levels have risen and fallen, ice ages have come and gone, ecosystems have been created and destroyed. But I guess that depends on what your definition of "human time scale" is. Again I am guilty of taking the long view here.

"My understanding is that atmospheric CO2 is already at a dangerous level, and if we keep going in the same direction for another couple decades, things will get more and more exciting. In a bad way."

Please explain to me what the mechanisms are that are going to trigger an extinction level event in the next couple of decades. Again I guess we just have different ideas about the timescales involved, but you are right in that land management is not something we should take as the only solution in the short term. Although, as a caveat, I do think that in the long run land management is going to be the final solution pertaining to a science of terraforming.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 11:09 AM on June 28, 2010


Ok basically I think we can both agree that it comes down to whether you think we are in imminent danger of an extinction event.

I'm afraid I have to disagree; to me, rapid climate change is dangerous even if it's not as dangerous as an extinction event. When I quoted the "geological perspective" earlier (who cares whether bipedal primates survive?), I was being sarcastic.

What they do claim, more believably, is that we are in danger of making coastal areas uninhabitable by humans.

Yes, that would be bad. Also bad would be destroying our agricultural land, and destroying our sources of fresh water. According to the economists, preventing this from happening by putting a CO2 policy in place would slow GDP growth, but not by much; we're talking about a world economy which would be 1-3% smaller in 2050 than with no policy. It's not that hard!

Aside:

"Inclusion of pyroclastic and intrusive sediments increases the total area of the province to 1.5x10^6 km2 although the original area was undoubtedly much larger."

Since estimates of emissions are partly based on the area of the volcanic deposits this means that 100,000 gigatonnes is a low estimate.


Thanks for the clarification. The Beerling et al. paper doesn't support your argument, though. That paragraph continues:
The eruptions are estimated to have produced an immense volume of basalt lava, with estimates ranging from 2 to 4x10^6 km3,
although only 4x10^5 km3 remain (Courtillot et al. 1999).
In other words, the volume estimates are already taking erosion into account.

The paper also indicates that the mass of CO2 released by the Siberian Traps eruptions can be calculated "given a known volume of basalt produced and a CO2 degassing rate of 1.6x10^4 Tg of CO2 per 1 km3 of basalt erupted (Gerlach & Graeber 1985; table 1)."

Doing this calculation, we get 4x10^6 km3 basalt x 1.6x10^13 g CO2/km3 basalt = 6.4x10^19 g CO2 = 6.4x10^4 gigatonnes CO2 = 1.7x10^4 gigatonnes of carbon, i.e. 17,000 gigatonnes of carbon.

That said, I've found the Henrik Svenson paper, and it does say: "Basin scale gas production potential estimates show that metamorphism of organic matter and petroleum could have generated > 100,000 Gt CO2" (not "up to"). Converting to carbon, that would correspond to more than 27,000 Gt of carbon. Over 100,000 years, that would be about 0.27 Gt per year.

We're releasing 7 Gt of carbon each year. That's 25 times faster than a massive supervolcano.

Another aside:

Please explain to me what the mechanisms are that are going to trigger an extinction level event in the next couple of decades.

Not the next couple of decades, but Peter Ward (a paleontologist at the University of Washington) suggests that if we don't stop dumping CO2 into the atmosphere, we're risking an extinction event in the next century or so, caused by ocean anoxia. See this October 2006 Scientific American article, which discusses the Permian-Triassic extinction event in detail, concluding:
Most troubling, however, is the question of whether our species has anything to fear from this mechanism in the future: If it happened before, could it happen again? Although estimates of the rates at which carbon dioxide entered the atmosphere during each of the ancient extinctions are still uncertain, the ultimate levels at which the mass deaths took place are known. The so-called thermal extinction at the end of the Paleocene began when atmospheric CO2 was just under 1,000 parts per million (ppm). At the end of the Triassic, CO2 was just above 1,000 ppm. Today with CO2 around 385 ppm, it seems we are still safe. But with atmospheric carbon climbing at an annual rate of 2 ppm and expected to accelerate to 3 ppm, levels could approach 900 ppm by the end of the next century, and conditions that bring about the beginnings of ocean anoxia may be in place. How soon after that could there be a new greenhouse extinction? That is something our society should never find out.
posted by russilwvong at 4:28 PM on June 28, 2010 [1 favorite]


it comes down to whether you think we are in imminent danger of an extinction event

What does your epistemological outlook say about the effect of the oceans becoming too acidic to allow calcifying organisms to form shells? Would that qualify as an extinction event?
posted by Jimmy Havok at 4:39 PM on June 28, 2010


Polar bears are more or less up shit creek. Habitat loss due to warming.

The Kokanee Snowsquatch is gonna have a rough time, too. No glacier-sourced water for his beer.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:07 PM on June 28, 2010


10,000-year-old weapon found in melting glacier
posted by homunculus at 10:37 AM on June 30, 2010


10,000-year-old weapon found in melting glacier

The first line of that article stole my joke. :/
posted by antifuse at 11:10 AM on June 30, 2010


Climategate’s death rattle
posted by homunculus at 12:58 PM on July 2, 2010


'Climategate' review clears scientists of dishonesty over data: 'Rigour and honesty' of scientists not in doubt but Sir Muir Russell says UEA's Climatic Research Unit was not sufficiently open
posted by homunculus at 8:38 PM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


Hey this thread is still going... homunculus I don't think anyone was arguing that climategate is a reason to not believe in GW. In fact I think I pointed out how absurd it was somewhere up there. I have been reading quite a bit and it is interesting as Geologists seem to be a lot less concerned about GW than climate scientists are. But there are respectable dissenting voices out there. People that aren't right wing loons and/or aren't being paid off by big oil. And I guess that's the point that I was trying to make in the beginning. This gestapo shit is tired; anyone who deviates from the line is shouted down.


"We're releasing 7 Gt of carbon each year. That's 25 times faster than a massive supervolcano."


Except that the Siberian traps were not the only supervolcano active at the time.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 6:07 PM on July 9, 2010


Except that the Siberian traps were not the only supervolcano active at the time.

Really? What were the other ones? I thought the Emeishan Traps were created millions of years earlier.

We're releasing 7 Gt of carbon each year. By geological standards, that's unprecedented; according to Svenson's estimate, the volcano that created the massive Siberian Traps only released 0.27 Gt of carbon each year.
posted by russilwvong at 1:55 PM on July 11, 2010


Last month was the hottest June recorded worldwide, figures show: US government climate data suggests 2010 on course to be warmest year since records began
posted by homunculus at 12:50 AM on July 17, 2010


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