But that is a tricky problem since we have 4 million a year dying from indoor cooking smoke, and millions more from other various aspects of extreme poverty. Most of which would be a greater ameliorated by cheap coal plants. Cheap coals plants are horrible polluters, but they are cheap, aren't as bad as indoor pollution, and allow countries to pull themselves out of abject poverty, thus saving lives immediately by fertilizing crops, making cheap concrete, powering factories, all the things a richer society needs.
China's use of coal has probably peaked. Any developing country would do well to follow China's lead and build renewables rather than coal, whatever its short-term advantages.
To see some of the issues involved with running and maintaining wind power on large scales, this is a great article showing China's struggles.
People in developing countries want "real electricity, not fake electricity" as villagers in Dharnai, India told the Chief Minister of Bihar state when he came to inaugurate a solar microgrid. (subscription required) http://www.eenews.net/climatewire/stories/1060026477
Yes, Beijing's air quality is bad, but you can put pollution control systems on power plants and China is doing exactly that. A very large problem for Beijing is uncontrolled pollution from automobiles, scooters, trucks and other small engines.
The point about coal is that it keeps the lights on and it is affordable. That matters a huge amount when you don't have electricity.
Their coal use clearly hasn't even remotely peaked. All the plans on their table right now call for building a lot more coal power plants.
Their analysts are working on the ground in China, whereas many other Western agencies just look at official numbers... So the truth may be somewhere in between, but Greenpeace's analysis can't be summarily discounted.
Hmm. I think it's more correct to say the /rate of increase/ of China's use of coal has probably peaked.
"China added 39 gigawatts of coal-fired capacity in 2014 — 3 gigawatts more than it added in 2013. That is equivalent to three 1,000 megawatt units every four weeks.[v] At the peak, from 2005 through 2011, China added about two 600-megawatt coal plants a week, for 7 straight years. And, China is expected to add the equivalent of a new 600-megawatt plant every 10 days for the next 10 years. "
China is increasing renewable power generation, but they continue to add coal power generation as well.
The discrepancy is mentioned in Greenpeace's report: "China is still building lots of new coal capacity — it’s just not using it."
The comparison here is between clean energy and fossil fuel. It has little to do with cooking, or extreme poverty.
There always will be a debate on global warming. So keeping global warming as the prime focus of fossil fuel usage kept people divided.
If pollution was the prime focus from day one, then more push would have been given to renewable.
Maybe, Arnold is able to bring more people to think in this direction.
Bullshit. Whatever the focus was, vested interests would have funded opposition and that's what kept people divided.
It blows my fucking mind that people accuse scientists of being untrustworthy due to having a financial interest in proving global warming to be true; this is in spite of the fact that the fossil-fuel industry has already been caught putting out junk science that justified poisoning humans to protect their profit.
The oil industry didn't give a shit about whether or not TEL was put in gasoline. It was the auto companies who put it in there in the first place, and the auto and chemical companies who fought its removal.
> It blows my fucking mind that people accuse scientists of being untrustworthy due to having a financial interest in proving global warming to be true; this is in spite of the fact that the fossil-fuel industry has already been caught putting out junk science that justified poisoning humans to protect their profit.
It blows my mind that people judge scientific work based on its funding source over its content and merits. Not saying its irrelevant, but good science is good science and bad science is bad science, regardless of who paid for it.
I don't think anyone would argue with that, but I think determining what is "good" science and what is "bad" science is out of the reach of most people, let alone people who understand the scientific process. There's also often more than one conclusion to be drawn from any data, as well as the difficulty in gathering sufficient data or even knowing whether the data gathered is enough to provide any kind of accuracy. I think the "who paid for it" question has been used more and more try and provide more context (sometimes useful, sometimes harmful) into scientific or psuedoscientific conclusions... of course it gets misused as a non-sequitur just like everything else in rhetoric.
Again, not saying it's right, just trying to provide the context for _why_ people might use financial motives to judge scientific merit.
Given limited time and flawed or incomplete domain expertise, I think "follow the money" is an excellent heuristic shortcut.
They lied about lead: why in hell should we ever believe them again?
You have hard evidence in the form of visible undeniable toxic pollution occurring in China due to rampant and unchecked fossil fuel usage. This is not data extrapolated decades out—it's happening right now! Instead of using this as evidence to justify current "stringent" environmental regulations in the West and why we should continue them, you have people still talking about melting glaciers and rising ocean temperatures.
Shifting the conversation back to pollution and renewable energy achieves the same result: stopping catastrophic climate change. And it'll get us there faster than the current Bible-thumping message.
It's all about ease of delaying regulation to maximize profits, not conspiracy theories, just dirty tricks as means to ends.
I also doubt that people would be unified on pollution if not for global warming. In my experience, the people who doubt climate change also downplay pollution in general. It's largely the same people saying global warming is a liberal hoax, and complaining about how the government says they can't dump used motor oil down the storm drains, can't buy freon anymore, cars have to come with catalytic converters, and such.
Yes, a focus on pollution will result in cleaner dirty energy, but cleaner dirty energy is better than dirty dirty energy. Clean dirty energy is probably more likely to have lower CO2 emissions.
Climate change deniers may try to deny pollution, but pollution is a lot harder to explain away. Pollution happens in your face today (see China), but climate change happens 100 years away in extrapolated data models. You can explain over fishing destroying jobs instead of ecosystems. Or explain over-logging creating soil erosion that destroys homes.
People understand problems that affect people today, not ecosystems tomorrow.
The ideal combustion cycle with a hydrocarbon produces pure carbon dioxide and water. You'll never get all the way there, but you can approach it pretty closely. A world concerned only with pollution would likely converge on a lot of natural gas power plants and clean-burning oil-powered cars. A world concerned with climate change would converge on nuclear, solar, wind, and such.
Don't underestimate people's ability to deny the effects of pollution, too. Go look at the comments in the recent thread about Beijing's smog alert. There are a ton of people in there calling into doubt the health effects of chronic high-concentration particulate pollution, even from people who have experienced it first-hand, and this is the sort of stuff that makes your eyes and nose burn with a few minutes' exposure.
Lots of pollution is silent and long-term, too. Smog is very visible, but how about long-term contamination of groundwater or the oceans?
All in all, I just don't see much difference in membership in the set of climate change deniers and the set of people who think pollution controls are a bad idea.
As long as the denialists are well-funded:
Unearthing America's Deep Network of Climate Change Deniers
If the guide is based on "follow the money" the Warmists will lose by orders of magnitudes.
We added lead to gasoline in the 1920s and it remained legal in most countries (including the US) until 1990s. In other words, it took us seventy years to stop actively adding toxic heavy metal to gasoline so that it spreads everywhere cars can go.
After all, we're talking about an industry that can spread FUD about a whole branch of science. I see no reason why they wouldn't do the same to other pollution problems.
It is really quite absurd to deny something the entire scientific community says is true.
It's weird you are attacking someone who agrees with you in policy. Just because he does not think "correctly". Given that your argument is out of authority, it's bit alarming.
By other scientists when doing science sure, that's cool; by the ignorant public when working on policy, that's just ignorance.
> Most of our current scientific knowledge was originally someone disagreeing with the majority.
No, if you are not a scientist in the field, your disagreements are just ignorance. Science can and should be challenged by those actually doing the science, not arguments from ignorance from the general public.
If you really wish to know the shit, you find the facts science has provided. There are facts. This "99% of scientists" stuff is making the signal/noise ratio quite bad.
No it isn't, it's not possible to educate yourself to the depth required on a great many things without becoming a professional in the field and while that's cool for those that want to; it's utter arrogance and ignorance to ignore the entire scientific community as a laymen and pretend you know better. Quite simply, if you are not a climate scientist, you're talking out of your ass. The people educated enough in the evidence to have the rational debate, have already had it, the intelligent debate is over and the conclusions have been publicized. The only people still debating are the few scientists in the extreme minority (which is fine), and the utterly ignorant (i.e. the public).
1. CO2 causes the greenhouse effect. This can be replicated in aquarium. It's a fact.
2. Burnind fossil fuels creates CO2 as material does not disappear. Carbon included.
3. CO2 is not absorbed by oceans. It goes to atmosphere. Measurable fact, documented by Mauna Loa observatory since 1956.
4. The change in radiation balance shows in significant ways. As is shown by change in glacier mass balance. Again measurable fact, easily understandable by layman.
It is not hard so far. We have human made climate change there. Now if we go into the "what will happen and how much?" territory, 99% of climate scientist agree that we don't really know. There are educated guesses with freakishly huge error bars.
If we compare this to "should smoking be banned", nobody speaks about 99% of doctors. "Is flyin safe?" and you don't hear about 99% of engineers. This "99% of climate scientists" stuff makes the whole business sound like it's matter of opinnion.
...a short time later...
4. Oh, I was standing at the bottom of a hill, so the ball just rolled back to my feet.
Do you understand? We are discussing an insanely complex system, with feedback loops everywhere, and a scant (at best) 100 years of quality data on a planet 4 billion years old. There is nothing simple about this. The physics of the radiation balance isn't in question, but for all we know it may be dwarfed by negative feedbacks. They are forced to fallback on computer models for a reason.
Nobody talks about 99% of doctors and smoking, because we can empirically test this. Hundreds of millions of people have smoked, and we have observed the effects.
The smoking/cancer analogy always makes me smile, because it is actually a very good one. Let's turn it around. The physics of how smoking causes cancer is pretty solid. We know about toxins and carcinogens, etc. But let's say I hand you a single human being, and I ask you, "if he smokes for the next 40 years, will he get cancer?". We don't have a freaking clue. The human body - the feedback of the immune system defences, nutrition, genetics - are beyond our power to model. Science is hopelessly unable to answer that question. And ponder this for a moment - we have 6 billion potential test subjects to work with! We have one earth. This is the state of climate science. The biosphere/atmosphere/oceans/etc. are every bit as complex as a single human body, and we have only one patient to study, and data for maybe 0.0000025 of the patient's lifetime.
But, I hear you say, "shouldn't we be cautious then? Shouldn't we quit just in case?". And fair enough, we probably should be cautious. But the counterpoint to that is that fossil fuel usage isn't a nicotine hit. It doesn't deliver us a few moments of pleasure in return for the risk of cancer. It fuels our entire industrial civilization. So the risk/reward calculation looks quite a bit different, doesn't it?
In one case, we have the potential risk confirmed by the empirical evidence of a test set of hundreds of million of smokers, and the potential reward being a nicotine hit. In the other, we have no way of testing the theorized risk outside of models, and the reward is the energy to power our entire civilization.
So yeah, it is an analogy that always makes me laugh a little.
In science that is extremely important, we probably don't disagree. This is obvious.
For laymen who vote about this shit and need to be informed? Again important. If we just wave around this "99% of scientist" shit, the intelligent, but uninformed part of populace is not going to buy it. They feel like being called idiots. There is nothing like that to make a person to vehemently oppose you, if he has based part of his ego on being intelligent.
Now in my circle of friends, who am I going to believe on this subject. The guy who goes "420 blaze it! 99% of scientist agree cars are bad!" Or the guy who is bachelor of something and is really really skeptical about all this climate change stuff. I would go with the latter.
The message should be "We hear you and we aren't 100% certain. Let's start from the easy stuff to minimize the potential bad stuff."
"If P were true then I would know it; in fact I do not know it; therefore P cannot be true."
For example, it's not that Einstein in 1905 made Newton's formulas from around 1700 unusable, quite the opposite, for a lot of purposes they are still used: it's just that for the very high speeds they need adjustment factors and more complicated math to express what's going on. The expected improvement in the science certainly won't make "everything we know wrong." Such formulations are just spammy titles. There will be only refinements.
For the current state, see:
I'm not "climate skeptic", I'm true believer. I just try to combat these authority heretics.
> It's weird you are attacking someone who agrees with you in policy. Just because he does not think "correctly".
No, it isn't weird. It's perfectly rational to disagree with people because they reach the right conclusion for the wrong reasons because "thinking" wrong is often dangerous and leads to superstition.
It's often unnecessary, because you need the fact anyhow. In some cases it's justified to save time. Like in the military.
Your line of argumentation doesn't make sense here. We can look for backing up an authority with facts which come from...that same authority, who we then have to believe or not, short of replicating their study. Or we can get someone else to replicate the study, and someone else to replicate that study, and...suddenly we're talking about scientific consensus again.
You do not have time to replicate and verify the work of every scientist. At some point you are going to have to choose to take some authority's word for it.
The person I choose to believe is the one who talks about radiation balance and p-values and confidence intevals. Then I expect to see peer revieve publication and some peer revieved confirmation. It's also possible to establish somekind of authority to conduct meta-study. This works nicely in medical field.
Someone talking about "99%" of scientists is just distracting. Link the IPCC document and call it a day.
Honestly, how convinced you are about it is only relevant because economic interests have planted a seed of doubt about it.
Your position to question the science on climate change is about as good as it is on a myriad other issues which no one seems keen on questioning. If there weren't a lobby doing it, your uncertainty would be as much as what qualified experts have.
Let's not look at who is on what side of the fight when making these decisions. Both sides currently have entrenched economic interests, both sides are turning it from a practical issue to one that is moral and identity politics, ruining the conversation.
Anyhow, I don't think it's a stretch to believe that there are strong economic powerhouses controlling billions of dollars trying to promote the green movement.
I'm not totally sure if the other side of the coin is particularly relevant, unless it's the case that politicians are all already bought and paid for by fossil fuel interests, and thus not available to be bought by newer "green" economic interests.
Regardless, what were we discussing?
I still assign a nonzero probability to finding out we're wrong. Because, y'know, science.
We should pay applied math PhDs to just answer questions as a general service :)
Even green tech is dirty. Refining rare earths is environmentally disasterous (gotta rip those high valence electrons somehow) and battery recycling in Nigeria has created a huge spike in lead poisoning cases and deaths.
Fighting climate change is the biggest conflict in the history in humanity. Our species is our enemy and our ally, and we are tasked between holding onto the plummeting biodiversity we have on this day, December 7, 2015, or complete and utter extinction. It won't be easy, and we will all have to make choices we don't like.
That seems mostly a US problem. In the rest of the first world, even in BRIC countries, there does not seem to be any debate on Global warming but on the economic repercussions and the fairness of the measures considering First World countries polluted as much as they wanted.
Actually, considering the complete lack of controversy in the scientific community, the US position is rather strange. I guess it is just easier internally to sell wacky conspiracy theories than some hard truth like "it is not our economic interest and we are the world leader, so sorry guys".
The shift in conversation towards Climate Change really hurt the environmental movement, IMO.
I doubt this is true without the caveat: ...so long as the energy industry keeps funding an opposition.
Which is why China is going to keep their emission levels completely uncapped for the next 15 years at least, allowing for dramatic growth in said emissions. The best they've agreed to, is that maybe emissions will fall after 2030 (emphasis on the fact that it's an entirely empty pledge).
It is remarkably similar to a DOS attack.
The only people who are questioning the science are the ones who don't have the necessary knowledge to evaluate the claims scientifically and who have an economic stake in continuing fossil fuel usage.
No climate scientists oppose it. I have not seen a single, reliable and useful model which goes against the fundamentals of climate change. There are no alternative hypothesis that explain the climate phenomena we're experiencing now.
No has dismissed anything reflexively. It is only the years and years of ludicruous, ignorant and politically motivated arguments against climate change that have solidified that position for many of us.
Trying to wave away statements by alleging ulterior motives or lack of knowledge only empowers the opposition. Debate them rationally, and you'll start to change more views.
I don't have the link handy, but not too long ago there was an interesting article about that posted to HN. Using reason doesn't actually work well with most people, most of the time.
People get emotionally attached to certain ideologies. It becomes part of their core identity, much like sports team affiliation.
It is often more effective to find emotional arguments instead. Show them pictures of smog in Bejing, for example. Or how the Marshal Islands are sinking under the ocean (well, the sea level is rising).
Annual Arctic ice cap melt increasing.
Bird migration ranges moving poleward, migration times moving winterward.
Animal and plant range moving poleward and upward.
Do you have an explanation for these facts other than climate change aka global warming? If not STFU. If you do, I'd love to hear it.
That's dismissive: you're claiming that the people who disagree with you are only disagreeing because they're idiots who should be ignored, and/or are being paid to disagree.
Where as, Warmists have Arnold, Gore, Pope Francis, Hollywood celebs and lying pols, &c ... all eminent scientists in their own right ... NOT! And let's not forget the infamous head of the IPCC who was also NOT a climate scientist.
"No climate scientists oppose it. I have not seen a single, reliable and useful model which goes against the fundamentals of climate change. There are no alternative hypothesis that explain the climate phenomena we're experiencing now."
That straw man is so obvious, I expect to see Dorthy, Tin man and the Cowardly Lion joining in anytime soon. There are no reliable or useful models which correctly defines fundamentals of climate change, period.
And speaking of Dorthy, how about NOAA jiggering the satellite data (the most accurate climate date source) to erase the 18-20 global warming cessation period:
I could go on and provide many more links bogus claims being refuted but with Warmists, it's just a waste of digital pixels.
This is why I hate environmental discussions with a passion, because at some point if one expresses less than total agreement with the AGW crowd you apparently are in the pocket of Smokey McCoalstove and enjoy smog, dead fish, and coughing babies. Martin Luther received a warmer response from the Catholic Church than some "deniers" who dare question the established dogma.
Sorry, are you disagreeing with or supporting my position at this point? Or perhaps both?
For Schwarzenegger, X seems to be "therefore". For me, X is more like, "but not". I treat the two arguments as separate.
Shocking warnings have always come with pollution. For me, those warnings have mostly born out as true. I have chronic asthma, probably from air pollution. And, I have eyes so I can observe the haze and smog over the city in the morning. I've been to China and seen and felt what happens when there are no pollution controls at all. Rivers catching fire/all the life being killed off in them by dumped waste is a real thing that happens.
Acid rain, though? That one jumped the shark for me; I think acid rain was all hype. Fantastic claims need really fantastic evidence is all I'm saying.
I do like pollution controls though and I am amazed at how improved the air quality is in the states over what it was in the 1970's. I have kids, and I want to continue our regime of pollution controls. Renewable energy sources are the way to go.
Global warming appears to me to be bad science, however. All the computer models predicted a spiraling warming effect, but instead we're cooling off, and we're potentially heading for another mini-ice age. The sun, being the primary energy input for the system, is never causally linked to warming or cooling trends on our planet. Why is that, especially when we can measure the sun's energy output is not a constant? Money and power is my guess. I don't see any proof - at our current rate of energy consumption and pollution - of how we are making a dent in this absolutely massive system. The scientific claims seem to predict destabilization, and I just don't see any proof of that happening.
Honestly, if global warming theorists want to bolster their claims, they should keep links between pollution and warming very abstract. Trying to use health effects of pollution as a proof of atmospheric destruction weakens the argument because they're two separate effects. Arnold does a disservice to his cause here.
This is not "bad science."
And it leads to predictable effects. The North West of England is partly underwater this week because of yet another "once a century" storm - the kind that have been rolling around every few years since 2000 or so. Increased rainfall for the UK has been predicted since the late 1980s as an effect of CO2 output.
"The sun, being the primary energy input for the system, is never causally linked to warming or cooling trends on our planet."
Climate change models have allowed for solar output for decades. See e.g.
It might be an idea to educate yourself on the real science.
The sun inputs many orders of magnitude more energy as humans into the atmosphere. Even 0.01% variability in solar output should create fluctuations in surface temperatures that we can measure.
There's a solar irradiance section that explains:
> Solar irradiance varies systematically over the cycle, both in total irradiance and in its relative components (UV vs visible and other frequencies). The solar luminosity is an estimated 0.07 percent brighter during the mid-cycle solar maximum than the terminal solar minimum. Photospheric magnetism appears to be the primary cause (96%) of 1996-2013 TSI variation. The ratio of ultraviolet to visible light varies.
> The current scientific consensus is that solar variations do not play a major role in driving global warming, since the measured magnitude of recent solar variation is much smaller than the forcing due to greenhouse gases. Also, solar activity in the 2010s was not higher than in the 1950s (see above), whereas global warming had risen markedly. Otherwise, the level of understanding of solar impacts on weather is low.
The last sentence and the section on hypothesized cycles basically state "we're not sure" about what the sun is doing in the long term and what it's effects on earth are.
That's okay, I'm fine with not having answers on that while science and tech catches up with nature.
What I'm not fine with is drawing extraordinary conclusions from incomplete computer simulations about man's role in climate given the primary sun and cosmic ray inputs into the system are not well understood.
I fail to see, however, how this fact in any way discredits the research done by other scientists.
You have a hypothesis that is untested, that is not necessarily mutually exclusive from the already tested hypothesis.
Until that hypothesis is tested and confirmed, I will live my life by the already tested and confirmed hypotheses.
What really confuses me about this whole issue is, what exactly are people afraid of us doing if we operate under the assumption that climate change is man made? Why such vitriol (not from you, but others) against the idea that humans can/have contribute(d) to a changing climate? I'm honestly asking.
I haven't discredited anyone, that's just my opinion. I'd like to think I've read enough that I can chat confidently at parties, that's all. I think your opinion is fine too, and you have lots of friends at the parties I go to which is always a nice thing.
There is not anything sacred about "scientific consensus". There's always new hypotheses to test coming from outliers in any scientific field, always unexplained measurements to explore. Whenever I hear the term "settled science", I flip my wig. There's simply no such thing. My experiences with researchers at university is there is usually a pet theory chased by the lead researcher and you better toe the line or you get no grant funds. If most researchers are on the anthropomorphic global warming band-wagon then that's where everyone's head is at.
Yeah, well, the ugly vitriol flows both ways, I can attest. What you observe may be people who are grumpy being called idiots all the time and they're just lashing out, and probably just as many intellectually lazy people who like to troll. I wouldn't normally say anything in a forum that counters the popular viewpoint because I don't care enough to take insults, but people are mostly civil here at HN, thank goodness.
There's the skeptical professor from the BerkleyEarth project who was doubtful about many aspects to the science, but when we looked at it in detail became concerned enough to devote all his time to the problem. http://berkeleyearth.org/. His opinion, after studying it for years along with research assistants, is that it is happening, man made, and probably a very bad thing for many, many people on Earth.
I think what frustrates a lot of folks is that there seem to be many people hanging around daycares smoking saying that they don't believe it is hurting anyone, while the US Pediatrician Organization, WHO, etc, etc all say that second hand smoke is bad, causes asthma, etc, and the only way to convince anyone seems to be waiting 5, 10, 20 years until all the consequences are apparent (and irreversible).
I'm sure that you can still find a doctor who says smoking is good for you and those around you, but the consensus is that is has a lot of negative externalities that other people bear.
I can't tell if you are equating "pollution is bad" with "earth will become uninhabitable". Are you?
I agree 100% that pollution is terrible, and we should curtail it where we can without slowing down our technological advancement as a species too much. That's simply the responsible thing to do, and anyone that disagrees should visit China's big cities and take a deep breath or go swimming in some algae plume ocean water.
But, the mental leap to "imminent planet death" caused by us at our current technology level is too far a leap for me to take. The world and its systems are just too huge and humanity is too insignificant and primitive.
I contend the system is complex and we don't have adequate models to simulate it. And, the system is robust and can adjust to and absorb much larger disruptions than mankind can currently create.
Climate scientists do and have studied the link between climate and the sun, as well as many other factors, but in the end GHG emissions from humans are contributing the most to increasing global temperatures.
Also while it's a big system, there are also 7 billion of us. In 2012 we released over 30 billion tonnes of C02 into the atmosphere.
I believe we should be doing whatever we can to control pollution. It sickens me that factories pump out pollution, that we can barely eat fish anymore because of all the garbage and poisons we pump into our oceans. I think we need very strict controls on every form of pollution as well as garbage and creating plastic waste (including microplastic particles in our oceans), although I do believe CO2 pollution is on the bottom of the scale in terms of importance. I believe that fines for factories that pollute the environment should be material, ie. very heavy relative to yearly revenues. Personally, I do my best to ensure that I create as little waste as possible, and that I do my part in terms of recycling, composting, etc.
So I consider myself an environmentalist, I just don't believe that global warming is caused by human activity, and CO2 pollution is the least critical of the pollutions.
EDIT: That's not rhetorical. I'll entertain any logical reasoning you have as to why your reasoning is superior to those educated and practicing the subject daily.
I think given the broad definition of "human activity is causing global warming", you'd be hard pressed to find disagreement. If you refine it to "human activity is causing a majority of global warming and that warming is bad" there is a lot less agreement.
Only according to really flawed and biased sources.
>In any event, Consensus does not equal science.
Actually science is very much the consensus among practicing scientists.
Short of reproducing millions of man-hours of international research to verify or refute it personally, what exactly would be the alternative?
Scientific consensus is just educational and political tool. Get everybody on the same page. But it's pretty detached from the actual process of science itself.
Questioning established consensus has been scientifically very valuable in the history.
Truth is an abstract concept. You can't get hold of "truth" in raw form. Consensus is the only thing that validates a statement, and scientific consensus, that is consensus among experts following (each perhaps imperfectly) the scientific method, is the only thing that validates a scientific statement.
Even direct experience is not some failsafe -- a single person might just be misinterpreting, lacking skills and knowledge to understand what you see, or plain delusional (e.g. Wilhelm Reich and orgone or Linus Pauling and vitamin C).
>Scientific consensus is just educational and political tool. Get everybody on the same page. But it's pretty detached from the actual process of science itself.
Not according to any philosophy or practice of science that I know of.
>Questioning established consensus has been scientifically very valuable in the history.
Sure, but only to establish a new consensus, not to say that "my sole opinion, that remains my sole opinion, is more valid than the rest of the scientific world's".
Unfortunately, philosophers of science might add. They'd observe that a good determinant for a new theory to prevail over an old one is, well, when the old guard retires.
Not discounting the value of scientific literature mind you. Or the fact that we've indeed been seeing what looks like warming of late. Merely pointing out that a consensus does not a Truth make, that the consensus has remained unchanged since the 1970s , that the bloody mess is rather chaotic in nature, and that we're still learning new things about it every year.
The question has to be considered primarily from a qualitative point of view. The only reason people discuss the science so much is because they lack good instincts about the environment. It is so easy to believe that humans are an insignificant part of the environment when you entire world is made by man.
CO2 in the atmosphere--what's historically known as the greenhouse effect--leads to earth's warming. CO2 emissions are also undeniably connected to the the greenhouse effect, which we clearly have a role to play in. That's science that no one disputes.
But somehow people come out of the woodwork as climate change denialists.
It doesn't really make sense unless seen through a political lens, since politics is antithetical to science in a lot of ways.
But that isn't the entire global warming theory.
There are many feedback effects that occur. Like warming -> melting ice -> water vapor from condensation -> water vapor is a greenhouse gas -> more heat
But there are negative feedback effects too. Like warming -> melting ice -> less reflection of sun -> less heat
So many people are pushing theories with high feedback multiples. Some people are pushing theories with high negative feedback.
Depending on how you model the feedbacks--Climate change can either be a small issue with a degrees or two warming or a mass extinction event with 5 degree C warming.
The problem is it is very hard to test the models.
The state of CO2: now around 400 ppm, 20 years ago was 350 ppm, and that was already more than during the last 800 thousand years, and now it's increasing unbelievably faster:
(based on http://cdiac.ornl.gov/trends/co2/ice_core_co2.html )
As an "engineer" (note: software engineer, not a real engineer), I'd prefer to leave as much wiggle room as we can possibly muster on the spectrum of activities heading us towards "mass extinction event".
The most believable negative feedback I have seen is about increased cloud coverage. Clouds should then reflect visible light back to space. At the same time water vapor is the most significant greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. We really don't know how it's going to turn out.
If human activity is causing global warming, is that a good or bad thing?
If that is a bad thing, does it present an existential threat to our civilization?
If it presents an existential threat, is it the most significant existential threat our civilization currently faces?
If it presents an existential threat, can our civilization do anything about it?
Where does the danger of global warming rank compared to the danger of, say, population growth? Other pollution? Terrorism stuff? Nanobot grey goo?
If our civilization can do something about an existential threat from global warming, could a cap-and-trade or some other kind of government policy be a good solution?
If etc, could the dynamics of our culture, markets, or technology be a good solution?
Sure, and a large majority of physicists supported General Relativity 20 years ago.
If your point is that vague analogies aren't helpful and specifics are needed, I think that was precisely what toomuchtodo was getting at.
> The result confirmed that the predictions of general relativity were borne out at the 10% level. This was later improved to better than the 1% level by Pound and Snider. Another test involving a space-borne hydrogen maser increased the accuracy of the measurement to about 10^−4 (0.01%).
Nutrition and diets are more difficult to measure (you can't enclose a few thousand persons in the lab for 20 years) and it's full of side effects and interactions. IIRC a low fat diet is still recommended. I think that a better example of the changes in nutrition is the butter vs margarine recommendations, see for example http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/1179683...
The climate researchers are able to dig back literal millions of years and chart their findings.
sorry, this is pretty funny. Do you know what the data those charts of millions of years are based on? models based on thin evidence and scant data. We are talking like 10 ice cores and 5 trees will swing the data wildly.
I am not a denier (CO2 causes some warming!) but this comment was kinda funny.
Remember the "global warming hiatus" that happened over the past 15 years? The one that most climate scientists accepted? Well, it looks like the models we're wrong. Tweak a few model input and "oops!" it's actually been warming the last 15 years.
I don't think you would have found a single scientist, doctor or dietitian since the 70s that would have disagreed with the above. It was taken as fact and anyone who thought differently would have been a laughing stock.
The same goes with global warming caused by CO2. It makes for an easily digestible theory, but it doesn't explain many known facts. Global warming caused by CO2 has never been proven, obviously, since you can't do experiments on a global scale. So there's already a lot of faith that you would need to take into consideration. There's circumstantial evidence at best. But still a lot of unknowns about climate and the vast changes that the Earth has undergone over the last 6B+ years, so to say that we know that the current warming trend is caused by CO2 to me is not science.
If you read this thread, it's humorous to read all of the people who think that there is data going back millions of years that links CO2 to climate change. It's a great example of how regular people just take whatever is spoon fed to them without thinking "really, does that make sense?"
For example, North America was covered in ice at one point, and the temperature increased dramatically over the last hundreds of thousands of years. What caused this, and could the same process be responsible for the warming we have seen in the last several decades?
The 5000 year old Iceman found in the Alps attempted to cross the Alps when there was very little snow. We know this because of the clothes that he was wearing when his body was found. So obviously the climate was much different 5000 years ago than today. What caused this change, and could the same process be responsible for the warming we see now?
We know that during the Medieval Warming Period, it was a lot warmer than it is now. What caused this change, and could the same process be responsible for the warming we see now?
I would like these questions answered before I change my opinion. As a man of science, I see too many people flocking like sheep to the answer of CO2 causing climate change. Just like the whole fat-in-the-diet belief, too many people don't really think, they assume that the scientists are right, which is not thinking, in my opinon.
Except... that data does exist. Sediment cores do contain evidence of past levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide to a fairly high degree of accuracy, and we have sediment cores going back up to about million years ago, or so.
>Global warming caused by CO2 has never been proven
Sure, you can't do a double-blind randomized control experiment with the earth, but when two variables are clearly correlated with a time difference, over millions of years, controlling for confounding factors, it's pretty clear that one causes the other.
>For example, North America was covered in ice at one point, and the temperature increased dramatically over the last hundreds of thousands of years. What caused this, and could the same process be responsible for the warming we have seen in the last several decades?
According to Scientific American , the last ice age ended because of a rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide.
Sediment cores and being able to extrapolate data going back thousands or millions of years is a theory only. No one can state CO2 levels going back thousands of years with any level of certainty, certainly not in the Ppm accuracy.
Current CO2 levels recently broke 400 ppm and still rising.
To represent the current situation, you'd need to add a spike at the end roughly double the height of that graph.
It's true that there's a historical feedback loop between CO2 and temperature, which operates in cycles. But we are now operating far beyond the usual range of that system, whatever it is, and nobody knows exactly what will happen next.
Very disingenuous of you.
I don't think we can risk this outcome (and the extinction of our race) just because because a couple of people think CO2 may not cause global warming.
Not saying you're wrong, just that criticisms of Pascal's Wager have validity.
Let's be a bit more concrete about this. In the near term, reducing emissions is going to reduce economic output. That is literally going to kill people. (The stress of poverty kills people. Lack of money to pay for food and healthcare kills people. So unless you've got a redistribution scheme that you can make actually happen in the real world, reducing economic output means killing people.)
That's the other side of this "Pascal's Wager". If we run off and cut emissions before we know how to do it without reducing economic output, more people that we would like are going to die. They're not going to make headlines, because they're going to be marginal people in marginal places... oh, yeah, the same kind of people who are going to die (first) from climate change.
It may be a net win to fight climate change. But don't act like it's completely one-sided.
The physics of a Venus aren't on the table - SFAIK, all the carbon we're digging up and burning was once animal or vegetable matter, derived from a Carboniferous era level of atmospheric CO2.
For hundreds of years, people thought stress and food caused ulcers. It was scientific fact and if you doubted it, you'd likely be labelled a crackpot. Until a scientist in Australia proved ulcers were caused by bacteria.
So consensus was wrong. Very wrong.
I'd prefer it if people kept questioning everything. How else do we push forward our knowledge?
Unless I'm seriously wrong with my scientific history (and it's extremely possible!) I didn't think this was the case. Decades ago there were people talking about it but the consensus was that it was crackpottery.
However now that consensus has decided "yeah, we were wrong" people point at that consensus and say "hey, consensus has been wrong before!". I look at that and just think... yeah, we know. It was wrong and we've spent a heap of time finding that out.
I mean, it's not the case that 100% of people knew it as a 'scientific fact' that CO2 lead to climate change and now we're starting to question that consensus. The questioning has already happened.
Or I completely wrong in this?
Before people thoughts ulcers were caused by stress they probably thought it was due to too much "humor" and required treatment by bloodletting.
The point is that we advance scientific thinking by challenging ideas. If right now most scientists thinking global warming is real, then fine. Just don't try and shutdown the ones that don't agree.
If the global warming data is as rock-solid as they, I wouldn't worry to much about it.
But yeah, I see your point.
Interestingly, among people who have Helicobacter pylori in their stomachs, only a subset develops ulcers. Some people have bacteria, but no ulcer. I don't know if there is a consensus on why this happens, but it is correlated with stress. If you are stressed and have h.pylori, you are more likely to develop an ulcer, compared to h.pylori and no stress.
So the consensus was wrong, but still not a hundred percent wrong.
Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers, Third Edition
Quite a fascinating book on stress.
Believe, the magic word, makes it a religion basically. I'll take the sceintific consensus. They have evidence.
Being that it is the observed reality of the world, the causal link between human industrial activity and global warming exists no matter who or what believes it.
Since it sounds like you'd support policies that encourage pro-environmental action anyway, I'm happy for you to believe whatever you want.
The plausible worst-case scenario of charging ahead with measures to combat climate change isn't actually that bad, not to mention the ancillary benefits outlined by Schwarzenegger. Aggressively stimulating the renewables economy would be a death knell for the fossil-fuel industry, which could harm the overall economy (though renewables would also contribute positively). It would be disruptive to sections of the country that are dependent upon the fossil-fuel industry (coal country in Kentucky, for instance), which would be very hard on the people living there. This is certainly bad and should not be done lightly, but it's hardly apocalyptic.
The plausible worst-case scenario of failing to address climate change is _really_ bad, ranging from property destruction all the way to civilizational collapse or even potentially human extinction. In a world with nuclear weapons, large-scale destabilization resulting from famine, drought and loss of land to flooding is a very dangerous thing. The Earth is the only home we have, why even flirt with the possibility of disrupting our currently livable climate?
...and that argument doesn't even take the scientific consensus on the existence of human-cased global warming into account.
It's extremely important to determine whether the global warming is caused by us or not, and whether or not we can alter global warming whether we caused it or not. If it's mostly natural (and we know the earth has gone through much warmer periods long before we showed up) then the measures we need to take involve protecting our coastal cities and our food and energy supplies. If it's mostly caused by us, then we need to stop doing what's causing it, and probably need to protect our coastal cities and food and energy supplies anyway.
"The precautionary principle or precautionary approach to risk management states that if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm to the public or to the environment, in the absence of scientific consensus that the action or policy is not harmful, the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those taking an action."
Perfectly sound, perfectly logical, and the basis of (much the same as you) the argument I present when I find people who either don't understand, or disagree with (a subset of not understanding?) the science.
But I agree that in general it's good principle. For climate change it's not that applicable. It's easy to show that burning oil is good for the economy. It's difficult to show that it's bad for the climate. If we say that Shell needs to show some proof that burning oil is overall good two things will happen: 1. Shell forges bullshit. 2. Everybody keeps burning oil just like today until there is some kind of replacement. Just for practical reasons.
So then it goes to "why we need to invest money to the alternatives". And then that precautionary principle could be applied to that investment.
TL;DR You need to show fossil fuels are bad, for practical reasons.
In the case of action against climate change, the downsides of doing something are minimal compared to the downsides of inaction. It's a much more binary choice than what Pascal put forward.
In the 70s, for example, one respected movement held that there would be an overpopulation crisis that justified drastic measures to halt the birth rate. There have been similar movements against nuclear power.
Alternatively, if we took immediate action on the crisis global poverty and got everyone up to Western living standards, that would conflict with the goal of reducing our environmental load. (Just as taking Pascal's Wager for God one conflicts with God 2.)
Is it an analogous dynamic if the cure for almost all of the emergencies in the basket is reduction in harmful levels of pollution including inefficient farming/manufacturing/transport methods, noting the associated benefits such as food security that comes with unpolluted waterways in poor villages, not acidifying oceans, not tainting arable land with heavy metals etc? Belief in a certain God among many seems more variable than reduce pollution, aim for zero.
if we took immediate action on the crisis global poverty and got everyone up to Western living standards, that would conflict with the goal of reducing our environmental load
You make an interesting point - the big one is India which needs cheap energy to bring itself up from having no clean running water, no integrated sewerage system and severe poverty to competing with Europe and the Americas who have reaped the benefit of cheap [polluting] energy for a long time and before emissions were taxed.
But I see it as a benefit, at least in the long term, to start from this stage. Just as African countries have benefited from mobile networks and services like M-Pesa money transfer and microfinancing, never having to deal with maintaining an aging wired telecom infrastructure - India could reap the benefits of starting with a peer-to-peer energy network using residential solar, similar to what Germany has implemented. Of course this would need to be supplemented, however using fewer base load power stations than if it were purely centralized energy production.
But what you really want is a method of weighing the harm of a given amount of pollution against the benefit. "Reduce it" doesn't translate into a heuristic for deciding which uses should be targeted first, and regresses to the original problem of "for which crisis is it okay to emit an additional unit of pollution to emit in service of fighting?"
So the worst case scenario all depends on what is being proposed.
The bigger issue is making sure the tax is applied consistently everywhere, otherwise we just move polluting industries to countries with lax enforcement and put countries that are enforcing the tax at a disadvantage.
This is the type of thing that can reach her and change people in her boat's way of thinking. Way to go Arnold.
If the majority of the "7 million" die from indoor cooking, It seems like it would be better to focus our resources on developing infrastructure in SE Asia so that every household has electricity and modern cooking appliances.
Across the US, 37.4% of our electric power comes from coal. I don't want to detract from the overall message because it is clear and accurate but I think it's important to think about how electric power is currently generated.
Coal statistic pulled from: http://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-10/documents/...
I've seen people commute in a minivan every day because the space was useful taking their kids' stuff back and forth to college a handful of times a year. I've seen people buy SUVs because they tow a boat or a horse box once every six months. I've seen people buying larger cars so they can transport five adults in greater comfort - even though they only need to do that a handful of times a year.
Now, it's possible that these people would be better served by one car for their everyday needs, hiring different cars for these occasional needs - but most car buyers aren't used to behaving that way at the moment.
Exactly right. I don't want to pay for and maintain cars for different purposes, so I buy based on peak requirements.
I live within a 5-mile radius of 5 of my siblings, my parents, my grandparents, and my aunt and uncle. I'm a stay-at-home parent, my wife works from home, and our son attends an excellent school a block away. My wife's family lives a little less than 600 miles away. We travel out that way 2-3 times per year, which is frequent enough that I wouldn't want to rent a car every time we did it. It wouldn't make sense to try to move closer, but it does make a lot of sense to have an efficient vehicle. If a full electric could make the trip with quick-charging stations along the way, I'd be all for it. For now (given that my old car was totaled in a hit-and-run this weekend) I'm leaning toward something like the Chevy Volt.
The GP poster may be in a situation with similar characteristics -- frequent enough travel to want to do it in your own vehicle (rather than flying or renting something), too far for most electrics.
Shockingly similar. Though I am the working parent, and my job is only about 1/3rd work-from-home.
Even adding losses from transmission and the electric motors at the end, it's a net-win.
Yes, other power sources are better, but even as a stopgap coal has its use.
Of course those electric cars still virtually emit CO2^Wpollution when you refuel them using coal-generated power, so I guess we can go back to going back and forth about the pros and cons of nuclear energy now.
See: comments here.
The top reason to reduce carbon emissions is not to reduce global toxicity and prevent climate change. Saving the planet is a bonus. Energy independence creates a stable geo political environment, almost all wars have a root cause of fighting over resources. There's little point in saving the planet if we're going to kill ourselves by the time comes when need to save it.
California also has the second highest energy costs in the continental United States.
Also worth considering is economic activity per unit energy, where California is placed third in efficiency, so it looks like those energy prices are doing fine.
Which potentially includes lots of coastal areas, like, say, New York, large portions of Bangladesh, and a few entire island nations. That's a pretty high cost.
But the linked post is politics, so I'm flagging it in any case.
1. The data is crap. What you need is average temperatures and other data (humidity, pressure, cloud cover, albedo, etc.) over the entire Earth down to a fairly small scale. What we have is a mismash of horribly calibrated weather station data near cities combined with limited satellite data and various proxies, all of which has to be massaged a great deal to make it usable. Sea level data has the same sort of problems, nearly impossible to properly calibrate to sufficient precision. The fact that people have poured tons of effort into collecting and attempting to calibrate data doesn't mean the data is actually very good.
2. The models are also crap. A century ago Svante Arrhenius came up with the greenhouse effect theory and did some back of the envelope calculations on its magnitude, coming up with a figure of climate sensitivity of about 2 deg. C per CO2 doubling. Today all of our vaunted climate modelling hasn't managed to come up with a more accurate figure than that. Current estimates are still "maybe 2 deg. C per doubling, with some enormous error bars". Modern models have several problems. The conceit is that climate models are de novo elaborations from first principles and are as rock solid as our understanding of the laws of physics. In practice all climate models contain multiple "empirically determined" fudge factors. They fit the data, they don't predict it. And that's assuming we even had enough good data to really run good prediction checks, which is dubious at best.
3. The climatology scientific community is very problematic. There is little indication of sufficient rigor, and criticizing results is an easy way to get effectively excommunicated from the community. Take, for example, the famed "hockey stick" paper, which has now been thoroughly discredited, but all of the discrediting happened effectively "behind the scenes" and quietly. Science works best when it's open and boisterous. It's surprising that climatology isn't in even worse state given how insular and political it is.
4. Even if we assumed that man-made carbon emissions were going to cause a huge degree of global warming there is still a huge gap between that fact and figuring out what to do about it, which many folks simply skip over. The actual damage (to the biosphere and to human activities) is just as difficult to determine as the climate is to predict. The right course of action to take depends a great deal on lots of different factors: sociological, technological, and economic. Especially since a lot of the CO2 production of the 21st century will come from economies that are climbing out of poverty and into affluence. It may well be the smartest choice to simply continue polluting until the world is richer and more technologically advanced and then consider mitigation strategies.
4a. CO2 emissions may not be, and likely is not, the most important pollution issue everywhere in the world currently. But it gets the most attention and sometimes that makes it more difficult to get traction on other issues.
Meanwhile, there really are serious "climate change denialists" and some of the folks on that side are absolutely terrible. Canadian PM Harper banned government scientists from talking to the press, for example. But the answer to science being perverted for political reasons isn't to simply pervert it in the opposite direction to compensate.
It's just a complete shit-show across the board and I'm not happy with how any of it is being handled at either the level of scientific inquiry or public policy.
There could be some major breakthroughs since 1970, but the whole shebang is so polarized, that I would not know that to believe.
From policy point of view human emotions have to be taken to account. Motivations for denialism are often either "nah, it doesn't matter" or alternatively "They say we all die! I don't want to believe that." I was in the latter camp.
Prehistoric events show us that climate change is probably not the end of humanity.
And on the other hand ask any farmer how he feels about unpredictable weather. Agriculture is completely based on predictable seasons. It's very likely that combating climate change could save millions of lives.
I despise this type of rhetoric.
(EDIT: That said, ozone in rather small amounts can be quite damaging to long term health.)
That being said, ozone can be fatal over the long term, and researchers regularly segment pollution death estimates to include ozone pollution .
I want you to pick a door to open, and enter the room and shut the door behind you. You have to stay in the room you choose for one hour. You cannot turn off the engine. You do not get a gas mask.
I'm guessing you chose the Door Number Two, with the electric car, right? Door number one is a fatal choice - who would ever want to breathe those fumes?
This is the choice the world is making right now.
The choices aren't that simple, Arnold, and the analogy you're making isn't valid, either. Does he not understand that that "clean" electric car requires an energy grid to run on? And that this grid is very far from "clean", and will be for quite some time? And that the process of creating (and decomissioning) electric cars is very far from environmentally harmless, also?
I'm not saying that there's no positive trade-off in favor of electric cars; most likely there is. But fear-driven arguments (even if pointed in the "right" direction) don't help much, and have a similar effect on the brain as carbon monoxide, over time.
The same cannot be said about power plants.
There's also the renewable angle. Surplus wind power, as experienced in Spain, would basically provide free power for recharging vehicles overnight. You cannot do this with gasoline.
The sealed room is also a way of presenting what we're doing to our climate, that the automobile emissions don't just go "into the air", but become part of the environment.
Bit of a silly analogy though, as many are.
Would not say that is 'anti-intellectual' though.
My point is that the rhetoric Arnold is using is a classic form of what psychologists call "extremifying," i.e. presenting a danger or tradeoff as much more dangerous or binary than it really is -- in order to, you know, get people to "do the right thing". (Or perhaps because he can't really tell the difference).
And in a world beset with ignorance, chronic attention deficit and a lack of critical thinking skills all around, this is not a good thing.
> First - do you believe it is acceptable that 7 million people die every year from pollution?
Answer this, how many of that 7 million year over year die from carbon dioxide?
This is the major issue with deniers. Carbon dioxide != pollution.
I don't know anyone not in favor of clean energy. I know plenty who warn of government overreaching using climate change scare tactics.
You want to take a stance on pollution, then do that. Don't rant about climate change deniers.
*- Move the x as you want, and set y as (7 - x) million.
It's what plants crave!
[EDIT] Since I'm getting so many down votes, thought I'd link the EPA calling CO2 pollution. http://www.epa.gov/cleanpowerplan