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#765245 - 03/12/12 11:40 AM Re: Global Climate Change [Re: pbharvey]
Bill_Walker Offline
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Registered: 09/18/04
Posts: 3641
Loc: San Marcos, CA USA
Originally Posted By: pbharvey
Maybe this is simplistic, but how can science determine that global temperature change is due to something particular that humans are responsible for such as industrialization rather than the sun's activity or some other natural phenomena? That seems presumptuous beyond the boundary of scientific reasoning.

By the way, I think everyone should be a good steward of the environment. I just don't think the government should make me buy a $50 lightbulb.


Actually, it's not presumptuous. It's based on physics, measurements and data analysis. Here are a few resources that will answer your question:
- NASA Climate Change Page - Hit the buttons in the left column to go through the evidence and methods.
- 10 Indicators of a Warming World - Shows the various signs that the world is, in fact, warming.
- 10 Indicators of a human fingerprint on climate change - How we know it's us.
- Empirical evidence that humans are causing global warming - A more detailed discussion of how we know it's us.

You'll note that the latter three linked articles have many links to peer-reviewed scientific papers from which their data and conclusions are drawn. The NASA pages have citations, but you'll have to find the papers yourself. Unfortunately, papers in many scientific journals are behind paywalls, because money is needed to support the journals.

P.S. We know it's not due to changes in the sun's output because we can measure the sun's output, and it has gone down while the earth has warmed.


Edited by Bill_Walker (03/12/12 11:42 AM)
Edit Reason: Added P.S.
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#765295 - 03/12/12 03:50 PM Re: Global Climate Change [Re: moshe_levy]
Dave McReynolds Offline
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Registered: 09/25/03
Posts: 3649
Loc: Sacramento, CA
Quote:
Finally I see some ideological frustration on the non-believer side with the idea that any aspect of one's life whatsoever be changed in an effort to conserve and thus lessen the effects of excessive carbon emission. There is almost a "we'll cross that bridge when we get to it" response to the alarm bells surrounding this issue. We'll solve it "somehow."



It does seem odd to many of us that a significant risk would be ignored until it's proven beyond a shadow of a doubt. But like cigarettes and motorcycle helmets, we all have different risk tolerances, and most people would like to make their own decisions about how much risk they choose to assume.

It's a little different when other people's actions affect the amount of risk I have to assume. For example, if you choose to drive drunk it affects the risk I assume on the highway, so we outlaw drunk driving, even though any particular individual person may feel, and perhaps even be able to demonstrate, that they are able to drive as safely as the average driver with a BAC in excess of the legal limit.

While we seem generally willing to limit activities that effect other people's individual risks, such as drunk driving, our history is that we tend to ignore activities that effect global risks. For example, nobody really knew whether early experiments with atomic fission would start some kind of out-of-control chain reaction that couldn't be controlled, or if planting genetically engineered crops would cause some irreversable problem with the food chain. I suppose we still don't know all the answers to those questions today, although we know more than we did. In fact, I don't know of any human activity so far where the brakes have been applied until the consequences could be determined or at least reasonably predicted.

Global warming is just the latest in a long line of activities where risks have been identified, but we have chosen to forge ahead without really understanding the consequences.
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#765304 - 03/12/12 04:20 PM Re: Global Climate Change [Re: Dave McReynolds]
Selden Offline
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Registered: 02/18/08
Posts: 4686
Loc: Atlanta, GA
Originally Posted By: Dave McReynolds
Global warming is just the latest in a long line of activities where risks have been identified, but we have chosen to forge ahead without really understanding the consequences.

We don't understand the consequences partly because change occurs over a long time, and partly because the interactions of various systems is very, very complex, and difficult to model. For example, Judith Curry of GIT, recently published a paper suggesting that arctic ice cap melting could lead to increased snowfall. Another model has suggested that melting of the Greenland glaciers could release so much cold, fresh water that the flow of the Gulf Stream would be disrupted, with disastrous consequences for eastern North America and west Europe. The one thing that I feel reasonably certain of is that increasing carbon dioxide concentrations are changing the climate, and we won't be certain of how until long after I am dead.


Edited by Selden (03/12/12 04:21 PM)
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#765313 - 03/12/12 04:46 PM Re: Global Climate Change [Re: Lineareagle]
Jaguar Offline
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Registered: 06/12/11
Posts: 213
Loc: Palm Coast, Florida
Back in the & 70's it was global cooling. We were all going to freeze to death.
In the 80's it was acid rain. We were all going to burn to death.
In the 90's it was global warming. We were all going to fry to death.
So now, they just clump it all into Climate Change. So just because these brainiac scientists have certificates on their wall, and come up with their theoretical science, we're all supposed to run scared that the world is coming to an end.
I don't buy it!
I won't buy it!
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#765319 - 03/12/12 04:57 PM Re: Global Climate Change [Re: Jaguar]
Lineareagle Offline
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Registered: 12/11/05
Posts: 1088
Loc: ON, Canada
Let's suppose the world's legitimate scientific institutions, academies, climate scientists, and most of the world's governments are wrong.

Maybe, as some people have argued, they're involved in a massive conspiracy to impose a socialist world order. Maybe the money's just too damn good. It doesn't matter. Let's just imagine that they're wrong, and that the polar ice caps aren't melting and the climate isn't changing. Or, if you prefer, that it's happening, but that it's a natural occurrence -- nothing to do with seven billion people spewing carbon dioxide, and other pollutants into the atmosphere.

Would it still make sense to continue rapidly burn the world's diminishing supply of fossil fuels? Does it mean we shouldn't worry about pollution?

We could pretend global warming isn't happening, or that humans aren't a factor if it is. That would be crazy in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary, but even if it weren't, there would still be no reason to continue down the road we're on.

Energy is at the heart of modern society's needs, but when the source is finite, it seems foolish to be hell-bent on using it up in a few generations, leaving the problems of depletion and pollution to our children and grandchildren. The longer we delay implementing solutions to our energy challenges the more costly and difficult it will be when we have to face the inevitable. David Suzuki
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#765324 - 03/12/12 05:04 PM Re: Global Climate Change [Re: Jaguar]
beemerman2k Offline
Member

Registered: 07/19/00
Posts: 6887
Loc: Ellington, CT
Originally Posted By: Jaguar
Back in the & 70's it was global cooling. We were all going to freeze to death.
In the 80's it was acid rain. We were all going to burn to death.
In the 90's it was global warming. We were all going to fry to death.
So now, they just clump it all into Climate Change. So just because these brainiac scientists have certificates on their wall, and come up with their theoretical science, we're all supposed to run scared that the world is coming to an end.
I don't buy it!
I won't buy it!


A little bit of education will go a long way. I would suggest watching debates on YouTube. I'll bet there are some very good and informative debates where scientists discuss this matter and the data that backs it to a skeptical audience. Go and listen to the discussion, learn how scientific evidence gathering works, learn why they feel these issues are real and important, then you can better decide if it's credible or not.

The mass media and/or politics are no place to look for credible information, that's for sure.
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#765330 - 03/12/12 05:18 PM Re: Global Climate Change [Re: Jaguar]
moshe_levy Offline
Member

Registered: 07/05/06
Posts: 3721
Loc: NJ - God Help Me
Originally Posted By: Jaguar
So just because these brainiac scientists have certificates on their wall, and come up with their theoretical science, we're all supposed to run scared that the world is coming to an end.


And here we come to what I mentioned above. There is politics creeping into it. Why "run scared" of anything? Let's assume for a second that there are several concrete steps we could take to reduce our pollution output. (This is a fact, not an assumption, but humor me here). Wouldn't it be prudent to consider those steps in the context of all the factors involved, including cost? Even if Climate Change is a total hoax, didn't we do the right thing by reducing our pollution output?

Energy is one of those subjects you could argue from multiple angles. I am comfortable arguing it from a political perspective - that much of it comes from places which are our country's antithesis. Places we enrich, and who then turn and use that wealth against us. Fact.

We can argue it from a purely moral perspective. Is it moral to enrich nations like Congo, Syria, Saudi Arabia, et. al. knowing what they do with that money?

We can argue it from an environmental perspective as is being done here. That the pollution generated is "bad." Causing Global Climate Change? Most scientists say so. Don't believe them? Fine. Would you rather live closer to a field of smokestacks, or farther? There is the "common sense" answer to whether reducing pollution is a good thing for the environment.

Really, no matter what angle you approach the subject of energy from, I am not hearing any rational, factual arguments for continuing down the gluttonous road we're on. The arguments I'm hearing are mainly bumper sticker sloganeering which leaves the problem for the next generation to deal with. I've got 3 kids. I don't want them to look at me when I'm an old man as part of the problem.

-MKL
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#765354 - 03/12/12 06:55 PM Re: Global Climate Change [Re: Jaguar]
Selden Offline
Member

Registered: 02/18/08
Posts: 4686
Loc: Atlanta, GA
Originally Posted By: Jaguar
...In the 80's it was acid rain. We were all going to burn to death.
In the 90's it was global warming. We were all going to fry to death.

We weren't going to burn to death from acid rain; forests and bodies of water were being killed. The acid rain problem was recognized, and largely dealt with in North America/Europe through power plant scrubbers. The Chinese are now facing huge pollution problems, including acid rain. The pollution they are producing isn't just staying in China, it moves eastward, and what doesn't drop into the Pacfic makes it to the USA.



You omitted CFCs and ozone layer depletion. Low altitude CFC levels have been dropping since the mid-90s, and upper atmosphere CFC levels (which lag) are projected to start dropping over the next 20 years. The Montreal Protocol was a major success story of science, public policy, and diplomacy. Unfortunately, it's far more difficult to find replacements for carbon-based fossil fuels than for CFCs.
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#765362 - 03/12/12 07:40 PM Re: Global Climate Change [Re: Lineareagle]
Mike Offline

Administrator
Member

Registered: 07/19/00
Posts: 9609
Loc: Chicago area, IL, USA
I view the climate change claims with at least a bit of skepticism, since, like many here, I clearly recall the predictions of an imminent ice age not more than a few decades ago. "But we're smarter now . . . we understand more!," claim the proponents. Yet, the same degree of certitude was exhibited by the sages who foretold of the coming ice age, just a few decades ago. So, while not being entirely dismissive--and actually accepting that there's apparently a certain logic to the current predictions--I come to this party with a skepticism born of experience.

I add to that skepticism the degree to which I see scientists with a contrary opinion vilified--they are not referred to as scientists with dissenting theories; they are belittled as "deniers," suggesting that the majority viewpoint represents the inescapable and immutable truth. In my view, it's an illustration of the Religion of Science at its worst, reminiscent of the treatment we have seen accorded scientists back as far as the Middle Ages, scorned for failing to toe the line of those who apparently believe that the consensus opinion is not to be questioned.

Whenever I see the attacks on skeptics--whether they're scientists with impressive credentials or moderators on a motorcycle discussion board--I'm reminded of the Church's persecution of Galileo, who dared to challenge the religio-scientific view of the Universe that was the only acceptable viewpoint at the time of his discoveries.

Having gotten that off of my chest, I do think it's more likely than not that human activity has and will continue to affect the climate until we manage to kill ourselves off or until we get blasted by a big-ass asteroid. However, I'd submit that we're just going to have to deal with it. With an unruly population of 7 Billion, ranging from bejeweled one-percenters to dudes who think a mud hut is living large, it's unlikely that we'll ever arrive at a workable and enforceable global approach to optimizing the climate. And, I'm not at all confident that anyone--even guys as smart as Fernando Belair--know how you would do that.

So, in a nutshell, we are either screwed or we are not. I do believe that there's a great deal to recommend the notion of trying to keep the Earth as healthy a place as we can for those of us who reside here. I don't think, however, anyone really grasps how to do that.
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#765365 - 03/12/12 07:52 PM Re: Global Climate Change [Re: Mike]
Selden Offline
Member

Registered: 02/18/08
Posts: 4686
Loc: Atlanta, GA
Originally Posted By: Mike
Having gotten that off of my chest, I do think it's more likely than not that human activity has and will continue to affect the climate until we manage to kill ourselves off or until we get blasted by a big-ass asteroid. However, I'd submit that we're just going to have to deal with it. With an unruly population of 7 Billion, ranging from bejeweled one-percenters to dudes who think a mud hut is living large, it's unlikely that we'll ever arrive at a workable and enforceable global approach to optimizing the climate. And, I'm not at all confident that anyone--even guys as smart as Fernando Belair--know how you would do that.

So, in a nutshell, we are either screwed or we are not. I do believe that there's a great deal to recommend the notion of trying to keep the Earth as healthy a place as we can for those of us who reside here. I don't think, however, anyone really grasps how to do that.

Great summary! But probably not enough to stop the thread in its tracks....
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