View Full Version : Global Warming & Climate Change

2005-Jan-18, 09:54 PM
Global warming and climate change have been presented as the "death sentance" of the planet for quite a few years, but is there proof. Have we been told all the facts. So I opened this topic up to get everyones views, share some ideas and maybe do a bit of education and either change some misconceptions, or prove that what some of you believe is correct. So to get things started I have thrown out some of my conceptions for consideration;

A. Global warming is fact, records and data prove this, but how much is normal, we are coming out of a "mini" ice age which occurred from the 1600's until the mid 1800's.

B. Greenhouse gasses are said to be increasing, but from which sources, and how do we control it, or do we need to or can we ?

3. Ocean levels are rising, or are land levels falling. The Asian Earthquake of Dec 26th made the planet flatter, although term used was "...a reduction in Earth's oblateness ..."

I guess that's enough to start with...

2005-Jan-19, 06:48 PM
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2005-Jan-20, 06:05 AM
The argument about global warming runs something like this:

1. Global warming is occurring.
2. Global warming is having or will have substantial undesirable consequences.
3. Humans activity causes global warming.
4. The solution is for people to have less impact on the planet.

This argument is essentially anti-technological, i.e., less technology, or some surrogate of less technology, is the solution.

I would suggest thinking critically about all of the parts of the argument.

Start with the fact that there is not universal agreement global warming is occurring outside of natural cycles. Obviously, if global warming is an illusion, there’s no need for a solution. This may not be as far-fetched as it sounds, when one realizes that the people telling us the world will be two degrees warmer in a hundred years; in the next breath, warn of the coming ice age; and are certainly unable to tell us what the temperature will be next week.

There is certainly not universal agreement that global warming is undesirable. Arguments run like this:
The Earth was warmer for geologic periods many times in the past, if not most of the time; thus no great disaster awaits a warmer world.
Life, holding the amount of water constant, increases in quantity and diversity the higher the temperature, i.e.; the Earth on average is not optimally warm enough for life. Or, to be alarmist about it: The Earth is Too Cold for Life
The approaching next ice age needs to be staved off.
Many parts of the world will be better off a little warmer, such as most of Russia and Canada. Maybe the Sahara will get wetter, like it was the last time the Earth was two degrees warmer about six thousand years ago.

Obviously, if global warming is good, there’s no need for a solution. It does seem to me that rising sea levels as a consequence of global warming could be pretty undesirable, but nothing compared to an ice age. Think of all the new beachfront property.

The argument that human activity causes global warming runs like this: CO2 is a greenhouse gas that, in large quantities in the atmosphere, will cause the world to heat up. Humans put CO2 in the atmosphere (and other greenhouse gases), and the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere has gone up. Therefore, the world is heating up because of human activity.

But climate, like most other things, is not so simple. It’s argued that the effect of the human caused CO2 will be too small to be noticed, oceans will absorb the CO2, and plants will just grow more and use up most of the CO2. Also, water vapor is the most significant greenhouse gas; and methane from cows among others is almost as significant as CO2. It might be said that the real cause of global warming was too much beef; another arrow in the quiver of the Vegan.

And lastly, the solution to a problem is not dictated by the cause. The cause of an infection may be poor food handling; but the solution for the individual affected is not better refrigeration and increased attention to cleaning the cookware; but antibiotics. Cause may suggest possible solutions, but causes do not exhaust possible solutions. If global warming is occurring, and if the effects of the phenomena will be mostly negative, the cause is irrelevant to the solution. Even if the cause of global warming is human activity, the solution is not necessarily a return to the Pleistocene.


2005-Jan-21, 09:08 AM
Looks like ChromeStar beat me to plugging my own site.

There is still no evidence that humans caused global warming, although it is a distinct possibility. According to records in ice core samples, temperatures in Europe throughout the middle ages were well above average, allowing the Vikings to establish a "permanent" colony in Greenland, and enabling the growth of grapes in England. Obviously they weren't pumping out large quantities of greenhouse gases then, so that's proof that there are other possible causes for global warming. That being said, I don't think we should be taking the risk of dismissing the issue as a natural phenomenon when so much is at stake.

2005-Jan-21, 07:08 PM
I am interested in finding a source, scientific article, etc., that explains in fine detail how the claimed greenhouse effect causes warming of the earth. I am aware of the argument that CO2, methane, and water vapor trap long wave radiation that has reflected from the earth. But trapped radiation does not mean trapped heat. In other words the heat transferred to the ground or atmosphere by this trapped radiation, is soon lost back to space when the warmed atmospheric molecules, rise by convection and radiate back to space, just lke the atmospheric molecules that have been warmed by any other means. In my view, the very mechanism that is claimed to heat the earth, actually could be demonstrated to cool it, because these greenhouse gases would prevent incoming radiation (of the same wavelenghts as those said to be trapped) from ever reaching the earth. In other words, greenhouse gases prevent some portion of heating by the sun. Can you point me to a reference that counters these arguments in a scientfic way?Thanks.

2005-Jan-22, 08:58 PM
We are asking the wrong question. We shouldn't be looking for proof that we are infuencing the climate in a dangerous fashion. We should instead be requiring proof that this is not the outcome of our actions. The mere likelihood of manmade climate-based disaster should motivate us to act more responsibly. Clearly both sides are operating on the delusion that they have certain information on which to base a conclusion.

We don't know that there is overall warming. It is possible to have over-all warming and still lose the polar icecaps. Overall warming could lead to and ice-age also. We are probably creating climate conditions that have never existed before!

Recent thinking sugests that we have made two stupid mistakes that have so far canceled each other out. Atmospheric particulates have been blocking out sunlight by creating more clouds. This trend is not expected to continue as particulate cleanup progresses and CO2 levels continue to rise. So even doing the environmentally sound thing in too narrow a way can back-fire!

Wm. Scott Smith

2005-Jan-22, 09:25 PM

You’ve raised an extremely important and difficult point, which is completely unmentioned in most press accounts about these issues. The fact is the whole matter is very poorly understood. Which, I would think, means that the whole idea of human caused global warming is very poorly understood.

But we have lots of ideas. I think the currently accepted ones involve the idea that the added heat is mainly caused by reduced wind and evaporation preventing convection cooling. An increase in the partial pressure of water vapor, for instance, would clearly reduce evaporation and thus cooling from the heat ab-sorbed therewith. There’s an article by Held and Soden titled “Water Vapor Feedback and Global Warming” in the 2001 edition of the “Annual Reviews of Energy and the Environment.

There’s another article by Willie Wei-Hock Soon of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics titled “Modeling Climatic Effects of Anthropogenic Carbon Dioxide Emissions: Unknowns and Uncertainties” in Climate Research 2001, volume 18.

I don’t know if these articles are available on-line.


2005-Jan-22, 10:17 PM

I think one has to face the fact that doing anything serious about CO2 emissions would be really expensive and complicated, and that these costs and difficulties would proceed into the indefinite future. Kyoto is definitely not a sufficient effort, and, in any case, no one will end up abiding by its terms except those who have no emission limits. Like China and India who may well contribute the majority of CO2 emissions in the world by the end of the century.

It’s not going to do a lot of good to have Canada reduce it’s CO2 emissions by 5% by 2012 (which they won’t) while China doubles its emissions, which could happen.

To make a real difference would require a significant fraction of world GDP. GDP per capita means not just that Bill Gates has to get along with only 40,000 square feet, but that all of human society will be affected in many ways. There’s a strong direct correlation between GDP per capita and life expectancy; between GDP per capita and medium years of education.

What we face are choices: How many years of our life are we willing to contribute; how many of our children, and which ones, will be denied entrance to college as a contribution to an effort designed to deal with the possibility that the Earth is warming (it really doesn’t matter why) and that the effects of this warming will be undesirable.

Isn’t it easy to understand why people might say, “Rather than give up five years of my life, I think you should be more certain that this thing is happening, that it’s a bad thing, that we’ve selected the best and cheapest why to fix it, and that the sacrifice will really make the difference.”

Very few want to contribute anything, let alone years of their lives, to an effort that might not be necessary or won’t make any difference.


2005-Jan-23, 01:38 AM
I would like to add an observation to your statement that "we are probably creating conditions that never existed before" by burning fossil fuels. It is currently believed that fossil fuels originated from decaying vegetable matter that grew eons ago (hence the term fossil). This vegetation, trees, green plants, etc., is known to remove CO2 from the atmosphere. So in reality, these fossil fuels contain carbon that was once part of the CO2 that resided in the atmosphere. Thus in burning these fuels, we are returning CO2 back to the atmosphere where it once existed, i.e. recreating conditions that at one time did exist.

2005-Jan-23, 10:31 PM
I think that nearly everyone would agree that the solution to the myriad of environmental, political, social and economic issues involved in the greenhouse debate is the development of a near infinite supply of clean electricity. This would result in:
1. Phasing out of fossil fuel fired power plants.
2. Switching to electric or hydrogen powered automobiles. A huge amount of additional electricity is required to recharge those batteries in electric vehicles, or pruduce hydrogen.
3. Allow severing our dependence from mideastern oil.
4. A cleaner environment.
I contend that the long term solution is nuclear fusion power, which is 2 to 3 generations away from being developed. In the interim, there is a perfectly doable and acceptable solution, namely the 2nd and 3rd generation nuclear fission power plants which are on the drawing board, but not being constructed mainly because of political incorrectness and irrational fear. These, in conjunction with fuel re-enrichment, would nearly eliminate the need for nuclear waste disposal. We could eliminate the need to build such a debacle as the Yucca Mountain waste facility.
Two countries have already taken the first step by producing most of their electricity using the current first generation nuclear fission plants, namely Japan and France. It is ironic that one of these is the only nation to ever be a victim of a nuclear weapon. This shows that rational thinking can overcome irrational fear. And they reuse the spent fuel so they aren't looking to build nuclear waste facilities in the French Alps or Mt. Fuji.
We would all do better to spend our energy on getting on with the real solution.

2005-Jan-24, 09:55 PM
I kinda hoped this would be a lively Thread, and forgive me appearing to dis-appear but work does take priority. But I do thank all for weighing in. Announced today was another "finding" about Global Warming from the "Meeting the Climate Challenge" conference in London, which stated

"...According to the report, urgent action is needed to stop the global average temperature rising by 2 degrees Celsius above the level in 1750.."

"...No accurate temperature readings were available for 1750, the report said, but since 1860, global average temperature had risen by 0.8 percent to 15 degrees Celsius..."

these are the things that really have my doubts up as to the validity of "their" claims, If no temperature records exist for 1750, then how do we know how far it has risen, and why mention a temperature rise of 0.8% since 1860. By my calculations if the starting temperature was 0 Celsius, [which I don't think it was] then a 0.8% rise equals .12 degrees Celsius, so the temperature since the onset of the Industrial Revolution has risen from 14.88 to 15 degrees Celsius. why does no-one give complete, related and accurate figures ? I find this insulting and confusing.