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Sep 14, 2006

Comments

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Joel Gillespie

Me again,

I also am a slight skeptic on the science of global warming. However, this is my take. Almost everything we might do to diminish greenhouse gases is also good for other reasons. A full assault on the issue of air and water purity would itself help with the greenhouse gas issue greatly. And there are huge reasons to deal with that, one of them beign human health, not to mention environmental and ecosystem health. Reducing our dependence on fossil fuels would do the same. And it's NOT just CO2 that is a problem. It is an array of nasty little chemicals. I will confess, and take my flogging, that the clean air issues combined with new technologies have tipped the scale for me toward reconsideration of nuclear as one of many ways to attack this beast. It is be one of the few things the French have really done well the last fifty years! Anyway, clean up the air and you diminish greenhouse gases. Period.

Billy The Blogging Poet

Joel,
While I see global warming as real you'll not get any flogging from me on nuclear energy as one of the many ways our environment and our growing dependence on imported oil from hostile countries could be improved. Nuclear can be combined with active solar, passive solar, electric commuter cars, hybrids, wind, wave, and other clean technologies.

A perfect example is the solar hot water heater that I installed in my home 25 years ago. Our family's electric bill dropped 40 dollars a month in 1981. Considering the fact that electric rates have gone up many times since then and no pollution has been produced I'd say that was the best investment my family ever made but thanks to Ronny Reagun the development of alternative energies came to an abrupt hault. Just think: 40 bucks a month for 25 years and people will then begin to understand that green solutions are best in the long run.

And then there's my StreetPlane that gets 100 miles per gallon of regular gasoline. I've traveled all over town since July 4th for less than 6 bucks. No it's not practical but I am working on practical.

Long term solutions are the key and hydrogen powered cars are not a long term solution.

Bubba

"And it's NOT just CO2 that is a problem. It is an array of nasty little chemicals."

In a practical application for the cause of "climate change", none of that matters. Water vapor is the major culprit in climate change by a HUGE factor, not human caused CO2.

Contrary to the Economist, it's clearly NOT worth the money to effect a mini-microscopic, less-than-a-trace change that would conceivably be possible, given the true cost/benefit ratio.

Bubba

Here is a much more concise summation of the topic than what the Economist offers.

Noteworthy:

"Lindzen believes: “The answer has much to do with misunderstanding
the science of climate, plus a willingness to debase climate science into a
triangle of alarmism. Ambiguous scientific statements about climate are
hyped by those with a vested interest in alarm, thus the political stakes for
policy makers provide funds for more science research to feed more alarm to
increase the political stakes. After all, who puts the money into science –
whether for AIDS, or space, or climate – where there is nothing really
alarming?” And he detects “a more sinister side to this feeding frenzy.
Scientists who dissent from the alarmism have seen their grant funds
disappear, their work derided, and themselves libelled as industry stooges,
scientific hacks or worse. Consequently, lies about climate change gain
credence even when they fly in the face of the science that supposedly is their
basis… what the public fails to grasp is that the claims neither constitute
support for alarm nor establish man’s responsibility for the small amount of
warming that has occurred”. Lindzen has also drawn attention to what he
sees as “the peculiar standards in place in scientific journals for articles
submitted by those who raise questions about accepted climate wisdom. At
Science and Nature, such papers are commonly refused without review as being
without interest”."

Once again, there is no such thing as "scientific consensus" on "Global Warming".

PotatoStew

Bubba,

Regarding water vapor - as I've pointed out before, your comments on that subject seem to neglect feedback effects. Manmade increases in greenhouse gasses cause a small temerature rise, which increases moisture in the air, which then amplifies the temperature change, further increasing the moisture in the air, and so on. In other words, the fact that water vapor is the largest contributor to our greenhouse effect does not mean that manmade contributions can't lead to large effects.

Joel Gillespie

As a science major and lifelong science geek I read enough literature to know that the science of global warming is anything but really settled. However, the water vapor impact is also unresolved. Indeed, water vapor has contrary effects - both for warming and for cooling. It is far from being, simply, a "greenhouse gas." My point is that I don't think the science on warming itself justifes the expenditures required. I think those expenditures are justified for other reasons, and if it helps global warming, fine.

Dave Dobson

Huh. As a geologist/paleoclimatologist with published work on the subject, I can say authoritatively, Bubba, you're full of crap on this subject. Sure, water vapor is a greenhouse gas, and an important one. But it stays in equilibrium with the oceans and is not changing significantly, while CO2, methane, and other greenhouse gases are. Furthermore, atmospheric warming will also increase the water vapor content, which makes CO2 emissions have even more of an impact than they otherwise would.

There's near universal consensus among the scientific community that (1) the Earth has been warming over the past 100 years, (2) increased human greenhouse gas emissions are the fundamental cause of that warming, and (3) the warming trend will likely continue over the next century. The "uncertainty" is not in whether or not it's happening, but in how much warmer it will get - a little bit versus a lot.

The interesting questions that remain with global warming are how extreme it will be, what we can do about it, what the effects on human society and other ecosystems will be, and whether the solutions we might attempt will be worth their economic costs. Not whether it's happening - that's been resolved.

Ed Cone

The Economist is clear that it does not see the scientific case as being carved in stone, as quoted in the brief excerpt in my post:

"[A]lthough the science remains uncertain, the chances of serious consequences are high enough to make it worth spending the (not exorbitant) sums needed to try to mitigate climate change."

If the game is to find people who disagree that global warming (and human impact on it, and possible amelioration, etc) is a certainty, great, enjoy the game.

But when a publication as sober and business-minded as The Economist comes out with a statement of this sort, I think a lot of people who aren't interested in playing games will pay attention.

Bubba

"Huh. As a geologist/paleoclimatologist with published work on the subject, I can say authoritatively, Bubba, you're full of crap on this subject."

Many people say otherwise, people with a lot more gravitas on this then you.

There is no such thing as "scientific consensus" on "Global Warming".

Bubba

"If the game is to find people who disagree that global warming (and human impact on it, and possible amelioration, etc) is a certainty, great, enjoy the game."

I don't recall anyone making an argument that "global warming" didn't exist, Ed.

It's no "game". The intention is to establish that there is no such thing as "scientific consensus" on "global warming", which more properly shoould be refered to as climate change.

The idea that the politically correct version that was accepted as gospel for so many years on this subject is absolutely preposterous. That was the whole point around the earlier thread regarding Pat Michaels.

Bubba

Speaking of Pat Michaels, the introduction of his most recent Cato paper on the subject sums it up nicely:

"The sheer volume of these stories appears to be moving the American political process toward some type of policy restricting emissions of carbon dioxide."

The agendizing here on this subject fulfills part of that process mentioned by Michaels.

Bubba

And then we have this.

Key point:

"But let's dream that California does lead the nation and even the world, and that every nation that has any obligations under Kyoto magically achieves a California reduction in emissions. According to scientists from the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research, the amount of warming these reductions would prevent by the year 2060 is 0.05 degrees Celsius. That's right, one-twentieth of a degree. But that nothing will cost something."

Exactly.

Bubba

Regarding Stew's comments on water vapor and "feedback effects", here is what Professor Lindzen says on the subject:

"More important, the climate is a complex system where it is impossible for all other internal factors to remain constant. In present models those other factors amplify the effects of increasing carbon dioxide and lead to predictions of warming in the neighborhood of four to five degrees centigrade. Internal processes within the climate system that change in response to warming in such a manner as to amplify the response are known as positive feedbacks. Internal processes that diminish the response are known as negative feedbacks. The most important positive feedback in current models is due to water vapor. In all current models upper tropospheric (five to twelve kilometers) water vapor-the major greenhouse gas-increases as surface temperatures increase. Without that feedback, no current model would predict warming in excess of 1.7 degrees centigrade-regardless of any other factors. Unfortunately, the way current models handle factors such as clouds and water vapor is disturbingly arbitrary. In many instances the underlying physics is simply not known. In other instances there are identifiable errors. Even computational errors play a major role.

*****Indeed, there is compelling evidence for all the known feedback factors to actually be negative.******

In that case, we would expect the warming response to carbon dioxide doubling alone to be diminished."

Dave Dobson

Ed -

The Economist article and the quote you cite are somewhat unfortunate. The article smacks of being written by a journalist rather than a scientist, who would be more careful about words like uncertainty, evidence, and consensus. Even so, nearly all of the uncertainties mentioned in the article go toward the extent of warming (e.g. the IPCC's range of estimates) rather than its presence.

Bubba -

Your Cato reports are from a political group with a decidedly anti-regulation agenda. If you could actually produce articles from peer-reviewed scientific journals, the standard when it comes to scientific consensus, you'd be closer to making your point. You won't be able to do that, though, because there aren't any except for the occasional outlier study.

I'd also say that it's pretty offensive to have my career, scientific training, and body of research dismissed by you. I wouldn't presume to tell Sam how a court case would be argued, nor would I tell you what it's like to serve in uniform. But whatever. If you want to go on being wrong, go ahead. I'll just contradict you when you lie, which you're doing repeatedly here.

Dave

Ed Cone

DD, I think it's especially powerful to have a business-minded, famously sober publication like The Economist come out and say that we should go ahead and start doing something about this problem.

Bubba

"I'd also say that it's pretty offensive to have my career, scientific training, and body of research dismissed by you. I wouldn't presume to tell Sam how a court case would be argued, nor would I tell you what it's like to serve in uniform. But whatever. If you want to go on being wrong, go ahead. I'll just contradict you when you lie, which you're doing repeatedly here."

Button pushed!

So let's see....by extension, you call Michaels and Lindzen liars also.

How do your credentials match up to theirs?

Specify what information you feel is a "lie" and the rationale behind your opinion, and I will ask them both to comment on your information.

Dave Dobson

I'm not calling Michaels and Lindzen liars. I'm calling you a liar, or perhaps merely willfully ignorant, on this topic as on so many others. You see, Lindzen and Michaels aren't saying what you say they are.

Lindzen's piece actually stipulates that global warming is real, if you actually read it instead of just googling it. He's just arguing about the magnitude, and pointing out that if you ignore water vapor, the magnitude of the greenhouse effect is smaller. So what? If you get rid of the greenhouse effect entirely, our planet is frozen and uninhabitable by us. It's a question of magnitude. The very part you quote says that 1.7 degrees C (3 degrees F) is still there even if you completely ignore changes in water vapor. Ergo, you're lying about his statements and his paper, and you don't know jack about climate change.

The Michaels piece you cite appears to be a complaint that the news media (NOT the scientific literature) are now over-covering events that may or may not be related to global warming and inferring warming causes when they're difficult to prove. So what? Even if that's true, that doesn't mean global warming isn't real; that means that reporters should work harder and learn more science. Ergo, you're lying about his statements and his paper, and you don't know jack about climate change.

Dave Dobson

Ed -

I agree about the article, and am happy to see a call to action, even if the text of the article muddies the waters in some ways.

Shawn Tuttle

Whether the article instigates action for mitigation or not, I think the very existence of these words in the Economist is a good sign. If nothing else, it indicates the awareness of the issue of global warming and would imply that major decision-makers must take it into consideration.

Bubba

"I'm not calling Michaels and Lindzen liars. I'm calling you a liar, or perhaps merely willfully ignorant, on this topic as on so many others. You see, Lindzen and Michaels aren't saying what you say they are."

Dave, Dave , Dave!

Where have I said "global warming" is not real?

Once again, I ask you: What are the "lies" you referenced earlier, and what is your rationale behind your opinion?


There is no such thing as "scientific consensus" on "global warming", no matter how much you and others would want us to believe.

Dave Dobson

I just did that, Bubba - your misstatements and my rationale. Can't do it any more clearly.

Bubba

"I just did that, Bubba - your misstatements and my rationale. Can't do it any more clearly."

No you didn't, Dave. You made statements of opinion based singularly on nothing more than your True Believer agenda and its tired, worn out tactics for dealing with "heretics".

In other words, you can't back up your rhetoric.

Why am I not surprised?

Meanwhile, Pat Michaels has much more to tell us.

Noteworthy:

"It's science fiction. The slight loss of Greenland ice in the last few years is hardly unprecedented. Its cause is thought to be a reversal of a fifty-year cooling trend that ended in the late 1990s over the southern (melting) part of the landmass. For several decades in the early 20th century -- before humans could be considered a factor in climate change -- Greenland was much warmer than it has averaged in the last decade. Look for yourself. The UN's climate history is at this site."

Once again, there is NO SUCH THING as "scientific consensus" on "global warming".

Deal with it, Dave.

Ed Cone

Bubba, You have stated your view many times. I think we've got it.

Perhaps more interesting is your disagreement with The Economist (not a publication easily classified as trendy or unfriendly to business) that the time has come to act on the threat, even if the extent and cause of the threat is not a certainty.

At what point do you think actions and expenditures would be justified?

David Boyd

The problem is what actions and how much. It's going to be impossible to measure progress for years, thus putting in place the framework for game playing of unimaginable scale.

Ed Cone

The Economist suggests that meaningful action can be taken at costs that are "not exorbitant."

PotatoStew

And, as has been pointed out before, there are plenty of other reasons for taking such actions, which could justify whatever costs there are, even if we couldn't immediately measure progress against global warming.

David Boyd

I noticed that 'not exorbitant' phrase. Wonder if they mean things like decreasing regulatory barriers to nuclear energy and LNG ports? Decreasing regulation is very cheap.

Bubba

"At what point do you think actions and expenditures would be justified?"

Ask that question of those who propose it.

Those actions and expenditures have yet to be justified.

We could always put another bond issue on the ballot locally, don't you think?

Ed Cone

Uh...we don't need to ask at what point those who propose taking action now would take action. That's what taking action "now" means.

I was asking when you would think such actions might be justified.

Bubba

Um....ask them again, Ed.

Preferably after they correct their mistaken assumptions.

Then ask me again.

Bubba

Meanwhile, here is an earlier article from the Economist which discusses the same subject.

Key point:

"They found that efforts to fight malnutrition and disease would save many lives at modest expense,
whereas fighting global warming would cost a colossal amount and yield distant and uncertain rewards."

Bubba

Of course, not everyone thinks man-made CO2 is the big, bad booger of "global warming".

Excerpt:

"So we say again, let the air's CO2 content rise. It's the right thing to do, both scientifically and morally."

Dave Dobson

Bubba -

Quoting two fringe scientists, not from scientific papers, but from their opinion pieces written for money at the same arch-conservative think-tank, doesn't support your contention that there's no scientific consensus on this issue. It doesn't. It can't. It's not even relevant. Even if these guys were correct, they're still outside the mainstream, which agrees that warming is real and human-caused. And regardless, even the new Michaels piece you cite is attacking politicians and the news media about hyping the supposed effects of warming (hurricanes and ice melting), not denying that warming is real and measurable.

You plainly don't understand how climate works, how science works, and how the scientific community does its business. Science is about truth, not opinion - we put the observable facts first and follow where they lead us, rather than adopting a position we like ideologically and then trying to bend every remotely favorable observation toward it while madly explaining away anything contrary to our opinion. It doesn't always work right - we're not perfect - but any working scientist would tell you that's the basis of scientific endeavor.

I'm trying to explain where you're going wrong, and actually what arguments might better be made in support of your desired political outcome, and you're sitting there smugly with two fingers in your ears going "LaLaLaLaLaLaLaLa..."

Bubba

Michaels and Linzden are "two fringe scientists"?

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!

That's too funny! And it's straight out of the True Believer playbook. It's the standard tactic when you can't refute an argument.

There's no need to go any further. From your opening statement, I've discovered all I need to know about your academic/intellectual integrity.

Bye, Dave. Thanks for playing.

Ed Cone

DD, at a certain point the person talking to the person with his fingers can give up in good conscience.

You can see the results above of my attempt to engage Bubba in a conversation about when we might prudently begin to take steps to address the issue.

Bubba

"You can see the results above of my attempt to engage Bubba in a conversation about when we might prudently begin to take steps to address the issue."

What did you not understand about what THIS post said, Ed?

Stop running your mouth and actually READ what is posted. It answered your question.

Ed Cone

Bubba, I'm sorry, I'm not finding the answer to my question, so please be so kind as to answer it again here: at what point do you think we would be justified in taking specific steps to counter possible human causes of global warming?

Bubba

Based upon known, there is no point where it would be justified.The amount of greenhouse emmissions caused by anthropogenic activity is so small that no practical effect of reducing them is worth the costs.

We discussed it here,
and here.

Ed Cone

Thanks.

PotatoStew

Ah, I remember that last thread... speaking of "intellectual integrity". Awesome.

Kirk D.

Bubba is never wrong guys. Have you not learned that yet? Where do you get off throwing facts and scientific concensus at him? His side is always right and at no point will he ever be wrong. Get that through your thick skulls for once will you please? I personally want to see the ocean rise 3-5 feet and lose millions of square miles of coastline and costal communities. Nothing justifies taking action now. Besides, some of the right told me this morning on our local radio stations that even if global warming is happening, it would be a good thing because the northern passage through the ice caps would open up and make shipping easier. Never mind the fact that most of the worlds port city's would be unlable to deal with the higher sea levels, but you get the picture.

Billy The Blogging Poet

Bubba,
I'm with you, when this global warming thing takes off my getto property here in Greensboro will be beach front and worth a fortune! There is no such thing as global warming. There is no such thing as global warming. There is no such thing as global warming. There is no such thing as global warming. There is no such thing as global warming.

If you say it enough everyone will believe it to be true. Everybody shout: There is no such thing as global warming. There is no such thing as global warming. There is no such thing as global warming. There is no such thing as global warming. There is no such thing as global warming. There is no such thing as...

Ed Cone

To be clear, Bubba is NOT saying there is no such thing as global warming.

What he has said is that there is no scientific consensus on the scale and cause of global warming.

I have argued that this focus on universal (rather than widespread) agreement is a way of changing the subject, especially in a thread started by an Economist article that acknowledges a lack of universal agreement.

Now Bubba has made a more definitive statement, based on his understanding of the known science: "The amount of greenhouse emmissions caused by anthropogenic activity is so small that no practical effect of reducing them is worth the costs."

So, both Bubba and The Economist have weighed in on the issue of what we should do now, and they have come to different conclusions.

It seems unlikely to me that The Economist was unaware of the dissenting voices cited by Bubba when reaching its conclusion.

As Bubba points out, The Economist has in the past argued against precipitous action on global warming. He sees the prior argument as a blow against the current argument for action; I see it as a reason to take the new point of view more seriously. We know The Economist has been cautious about cause, cost, and benefit, and so its current stance is all the more resonant.

Bubba

"The amount of greenhouse emmissions caused by anthropogenic activity is so small that no practical effect of reducing them is worth the costs."

I have said that all along, not only here, but at my own blog and at other places that I visit.

Returning to the original thread, I'm not sure either article was an actual editorial opinion of the Economist.

The time span between them is too small, plus there was no definitive statement by the publication that they disavowed the conclusions of the first piece, which were clearly at odds with the penultimate paragraph of the second. I suspect each article had a different author.

I believe you accept the Economist as an authoritive source, Ed. Otherwise you would not have used it for a post.

As you suggested, it's clear that the Economist has done its part to illustrate that there is no such thing as "scientific consensus" on "global warming".

Bubba

"Ah, I remember that last thread... speaking of "intellectual integrity". Awesome."

I wouldn't go there if I were you, Stew. If you would like to talk about "intellectual integrity", we may have to start talking about certain first amendment "rights" again.

Kirk D.

Bubba, I'm so tired of your schtick that there is no "scientific concensus" and that saying otherwise labels us as "True believers". If listening to over 5,000 scientists around the globe with over 2,300 peer reviewed abstracts doesn't qualify as a "concenus" in your mind that is your own problem. But I'm through taking this kind of blantant fact-backwards cheerleading.

The FACTS of the matter are this: there IS concensus and you have only to follow your nose to see it. This concensus includes:

Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change - Concluded as recently as 2001 "There is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities."

G8 Joint Science Academy - In 2005 the national science academies of the G8 nations, plus Brazil, China and India, three of the largest emitters of greenhouse gases in the developing world, signed a statement on the global response to climate change. The statement stresses that the scientific understanding of climate change is now sufficiently clear to justify nations taking prompt action, and explicitly endorsed the IPCC consensus.

US National Research Council - In 2001 their report was summarized thus: "Greenhouse gases are accumulating in Earth's atmosphere as a result of human activities, causing surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures to rise. Temperatures are, in fact, rising. The changes observed over the last several decades are likely mostly due to human activities, but we cannot rule out that some significant part of these changes is also a reflection of natural variability. Human-induced warming and associated sea level rises are expected to continue through the 21st century."

American Meteorological Society - In 2003 concluded: "The report by the IPCC stated that the global mean temperature is projected to increase by 1.4 °C–5.8 °C in the next 100 years... Human activities have become a major source of environmental change."

Federal Climate Change Science Program - A science program commissioned by PRESIDENT BUSH HIMSELF concluded: "clear evidence of human influences on the climate system (due to changes in greenhouse gases, aerosols, and stratospheric ozone). The study said that observed patterns of change over the past 50 years cannot be explained by natural processes alone, though it did not state what percentage of climate change may be anthropogenic in nature."

And the examples continue on and on and on and on. I suspect I could fill this entire blog with examples of organizations and scientists that agree witht the actual concensus that humans are affecting the climate of the earth, but that you would still be a kool-aid drinking sheep and say that there was no concensus. For this you have lost all credibility in my and other's minds.

Ed Cone

It's a big cover package, Bubba, with a subhed "The uncertainty surrounding climate change argues for action, not inaction."

I've added a cover image to the post.

There's not really much doubt on where The Economist stands on the issue at this point.

They've paid attention to the data and the debate over time, and changed their position based on their understanding of the facts.

Bubba

"And the examples continue on and on and on and on. I suspect I could fill this entire blog with examples of organizations and scientists that agree witht the actual concensus that humans are affecting the climate of the earth, but that you would still be a kool-aid drinking sheep and say that there was no concensus. For this you have lost all credibility in my and other's minds."

Blah blah, woof woof.

The more evidence to the contrary, the harder the True Believers defend their sacred cow, as is evidenced by this.

Key passage:

"Even if you ignore the enormous cost of Kyoto (estimated recently by Prof. George Taylor of Oregon State University--see http://www.sitewave.net/news/s49p628.htm--at one trillion U.S. dollars a year for full implementation in OECD countries), climate science research is rapidly moving AWAY from the hypothesis that the human release of greenhouse gases, specifically CO2, is in any way significantly contributing to global climate change."

Meanwhile, BACK ON TOPIC, here is the link for the article mentioned above.

Key point:

"According to one American climatologist, the 'scare-them-to-death' approach seems to be the best way to get money for climate studies. Dr. Stephen Schneider, a leading prophet of man-made climate warming, stated this bluntly:

'To capture the public imagination... we have to... make simplified dramatic statements, and little mention of any doubts one might have.... Each of us has to decide the right balance between being effective and being honest.'"

No, there's no issue about academic integrity and intellectual honesty at play here, is there?

Jim Caserta

Bubba, do you know what a peer-reviewed scientific journal is? Have you ever published or even read one? I'm just wondering because all you ever link to are think-tank self-journals and op-ed type articles.

Bubba

"Bubba, do you know what a peer-reviewed scientific journal is? Have you ever published or even read one? I'm just wondering because all you ever link to are think-tank self-journals and op-ed type articles."

And your point is?

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