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.