"The planet is fine....
The people are fucked."
Whether we like to admit this or not; the earth and life will go on without us. It's our own survival we are fighting for over here; not a complex system in which life has taken hold by surviving through tough odds without the intend of surviving. This piece of rock really doesn't give a damn.
But if we care about how convenient it is to live on? Then global warming is worth trying to avoid, probably.
It just strikes me how far away from reality this debate has taken us. Yes, none of this will kill the planet or this species for that matter, but it will kill this civilization.
In fact, this has happened again and again throughout history as Jared Diamond points out in his book, Collapse. When you see the record of civilizations and the choices they have made then 5 key metrics stand out;
1) Environmental damage
2) Climate change
3) Hostile neighbors
4) Friendly trade partners
5) The societies response to it's environmental problems
What's interesting is how he compared these metrics and individually isolated cases in histories where only a few were present and used them as examples to see what was going on. It's a beautiful and thrilling exploration between the factors, stakeholders at play and why those choices were made (as far as we know). A comment simply won't do that entire thing justice.
The thing is that there is a delicate interplay between our surroundings and our civilization and stretching it too far without healing won't lead to pleasant consequences. A civilization is a delicate state of things that needs to be maintained at a certain cost be it resources, intellectual or cultural capital. Everything joins to create an integrated whole and that's the problem; you can't have one without the other.
So, essentially we need to make a series of choices about how we are doing things and how we could do them if we want this period of prosperity to survive beyond a few decades.
Yes there is hope, but there's loads of work to do.
That sounds like alarmism to me.
You can find examples of writers worrying about running out of the specific resources industry used at the time running back to the 19th century. The modern environmentalist movement has predicted apocalypse like clockwork every ten years dating back to 1960.
The current environmentalist movement is much more well-funded and professional. I guess time will tell if that means they are more accurate.
I'm not familiar with Diamond's book, but it's worth pointing out that the civilizations he examines are at a much earlier phase of technology. Individual differences often confound authors who try to paint historical trends with a broad pen.
You really need to read him. Check his wikipedia page out ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jared_Diamond )
>>>are at a much earlier phase of technology<<<
Ironically, our ancestors said analogous things. Are we truly that different?
The difference between human society before 1800 and today is huge.
Just to be clear, the parent argument is that people have been saying that our activities are dangerous for a while, but nothing really bad has happened yet. That's like saying no one has detonated a nuke yet so we shouldn't worry about nuclear proliferation.
"Alarmism" is a loaded term...of course it has a bad track record. If it turned out well, it wouldn't be called "alarmism" but foresight.
So, no duh. It's like saying "Murder has a really bad track record".
It's highly arguable that this is "alarm-ism"...that would imply it's a knee-jerk uninformed reaction, when in fact this is a scientific consensus coming from years of research.
So what matters is: this is science.
You can apply some loaded term to it...but it is science.
...and science has a pretty good track record overall. Also, science is constantly improving it's own ability and therefore track record.
Is it infallible? no...but if you want to start pulling out stuff about "track records" it's pretty silly to bet against the science.
Africanized Killer Bees, Asteroid Impact, Global Warming, Mayan Calendars, etc. Another new one comes down the pike every 5 years, and it's always going to end the world in the next 20 years. Fortunately, they're almost always blowing the downside way out of proportion.
You're comparing apples to oranges.
The "overblown" ones you're talking about are overblown by the MEDIA.
There are basically no scientists in the relevant fields saying we need to freak out because we might get hit by an asteroid tomorrow.
It's a possibility, and we need to study it and prepare for it...but to say it's overestimated or overblown (by the people who matter) is just not true.
Global Warming on the other hand, has a huge majority of scientists in the field agreeing that we are contributing to it, and if we don't stop there are serious consequences.(note that the consequences are gradual and completely realistic).
Your comparison is flawed: you're comparing something like an asteroid strike which would be devastating and perhaps impossible to stop, but also extremely extremely unlikely, with Global Warming which is gradual and pretty well demonstrated to be occurring....it's also dishonest in claiming that those things were "overblown" (and/or the nature thereof).
Then there's the Maya thing which is just a complete joke, and the Killer Bee thing, which again was something that serious scientists brought up as a (valid) concern, but nobody was ringing huge alarm bells screaming it was the end of the world.
The first IPCC assesment report was published 20 years ago. It would take copious amounts of confirmation bias to pretend they're being alarmist.
By the way here is another picture:
Human deforestation and burning of fossil fuel has raised atmospheric CO2 to over 380 ppm in the last century, well above pre-industrialized levels, and "off the scale" of this graph top.
The mean global temperature in the carboniferous period, with CO2 concentrations over double of present day was an astounding, just wait for it... 14C, which is the incredible, * unbelievable* 0C above the mean present day global temperature.
As CO2 levels spiked in the carboniferous period, it is marked by the drop of sea levels by 120m to the present day level, and as the CO2 level subsided, the sea levels rose 80m.
Sorry, but "off the scale" only counts when you actively pick and choose what scale you want to use, which in terms of geological temperature, CO2 and O2 concentrations quite literally means disregarding millions of years of geological time.
Also, when discussing matters scientific, please cite your scientific sources --- otherwise the discussion is of little value. Like so:
As other people have said, life on earth will go on in one form or another. But "off the scale" is a necessary term in this context to drive home the incredible turmoil and human suffering that will result as we are forced to adjust the local pressures of water shortages, mass human migration, and agricultural failures that will be caused by this...
Here are estimated CO2 levels through geologic time -- "currently" rather low! -- at UCSD site:
CO2 is essentially airborne fertilizer. Our planet wouldn't be so green without lots of it. (I'd rather be alive during an interglacial, abundantly green geological period.)
Sure, but as with fertilizer on fields, there are consequences for using way too much.
> I'd rather be alive during an interglacial, abundantly green geological period.
As long as there aren't a billion or so refugees from the low-lying areas rampaging through.
Hence my link to CO2 levels over Geologic Time. Do you think there was "way too much" CO2 in the past?
Humanity survived the ice age, but that didn't make it a fun period in our history.
Does the fact that CO2 levels have varied hugely in Geologic Time affirm that we are under imminent threat of terrible climate changes? is it irrelevant? or contradictory? or a puzzle? is it impolitick to ask such questions?
Edit: I want to be scientific, include all relevant evidence, and some people here dislike it? (I'm not interested in the politics -- I've never even voted in a national election. And yes, I see these down-votes as a form of political activism. Disagree and argue if you have reason and facts.)
This issue as other's have pointed out is the CAUSE of the current levels and the implications thereof.
In the past the high levels of C02 were at least partially due to ice ages, which prevented the normal processes for the mitigation of C02, once the levels built up enough the greenhouse effect melted the ice and restored the levels.
Look around, there's no ice age.
So not only is there no discernible cause for the increase except out actions, we don't have a huge C02-eating army trapped in the ice waiting to be released.
Some natural mechanism will probably step in, but who knows what effects it will have.
We are monkeying with a system we know to have far reaching and potentially devastating effects.
A friend of mine (who works in energy) was telling me about how the case for renewable energy is being made (to some extent) successfully in Kansas. They push three points:
- reduce expenditure
- US should reduce reliance on foreign oil
- have a duty to protect the earth god gave us
One thing that has always baffled me about American Christians is how apathetic they are towards the environment.
At its core, I guess, the issue is that many are suckered by the right wingers and propaganda from large corporations to vote in their camp, by always bringing up other, more "pressing", moral issues.
I think as long as there are only 2 main viable parties to vote for, many of those folks will still vote along the traditional party lines.
So I agree with you, but it is an uphill battle.
By the way, as evidence of global warming, repeated snowless winters in Detroit would not be especially more convincing than the huge amount of evidence we already have.
You don't have to wait to observe the effects of climate change. Where I come from - the south-west of Western Australia - when compared to the 70s, rainfall levels are way down, stream flows into dams are way down, number of hot days per year are up, and average temperatures are up.
However, I haven't heard of any new good cost/benefit analysis that makes the case for drastic action. Most economic studies I have heard of recommend only modest action, certainly nothing like what is proposed at UN climate conferences. The Kyoto Protocol, for example, easily fails any cost/benefit analysis.
Studying Economics in University again ruined my chances of being a "good person". I can never get on board the "Act Now!" train, I can only think "is the cost of acting worth the benefit it provides?", and that manner of thinking is doomed to make you unpopular at cocktail parties.
I'm sure the same thing happens with people who are not convinced.
Its strange. I believe in vaccines, following my doctors advice, and recycling. But, then I go to the gas station and see signs that my cellphone could cause an explosion. I remember the "going into an ice age talk" from the 1970's and the plans to heat the earth. I also remember the hate on for nuclear. Most people I know also see the "security theater" at the airport as not really addressing any real problems. Never mind the constant "you are a nut!" when people ask about the data collection, the e-mail investigation, and which politicians make money from wind as opposed to other new attempts. Also, all that "Hydrogen Economy" talk seems to have died pretty fast.
Solar and wind won't work. They are not constant as burning coal or oil, and we don't seem to have massive electrical storage technology to compensate. There aren't enough rivers to damn for power and those that are cause their own set of problems. Nuclear probably would have been ready along with a better electrical grid, but hollywood and certain environmental groups blew that.
Add to this, a whole new group of people (the "third world") that is just being able to take advantage of the products, energy creation, and manufacturing techniques that allowed the "first world" to get where they are. Now, we are telling them to not use those because they are harmful, while not providing an actual alternative.
The US is a road, liquid fuel, central electrical production country. No amount of yelling will get rid of roads. Liquid fuel might be replaceable, but it needs to be something as convenient, cheap, and easily taxed (in small chunk / not one big bill). The central grid needs to be improved and we need real, full-time replacements for coal and gas.
The worst part is whatever solution we come up with better be good enough for the third world to skip to.
These are supposed to be cyclical, so it's pretty much guaranteed sooner or later we will have to face one.
In general, in a time-series, use a baseline that shows the data not the zero point. If the zero point reasonably occurs in plotting the data, fine. But don't spend a lot of empty vertical space trying to reach down to the zero point at the cost of hiding what is going on in the data line itself. (The book, How to Lie With Statistics, is wrong on this point.)
For examples, all over the place, of absent zero points in time-series, take a look at any major scientific research publication. The scientists want to show their data, not zero.
The urge to contextualize the data is a good one, but context does not come from empty vertical space reaching down to zero, a number which does not even occur in a good many data sets. Instead, for context, show more data horizontally! .
-- Edward Tufte, October 18, 2001
Ugh, the more I read of Tufte the less I like him. He loves to make blanket statements (like calling a point "wrong") in an authoritative way, and he's amassed enough adoring followers that people repeat his words like gospel instead of calling him on it.
It's valid to say that a non-zero-based scale shows the data better. But it's also completely valid to note that non-zero-based scales can be used in alarmist ways to make data extremely misleading.
I thought "The Visual Display of Quantitative Information" was terrible, and I went in really wanting to like it: http://www.amazon.com/review/R11NYC3OE3LBE
What does tell you about that type significance of (rational) data is the delta, which requires the 0 in order for you to see the scale. Now, in many interesting cases this could be represented as error bars under H0, but that's usually not done in publications, because they only have room for one plot type.
The range of the plot is not arbitrary. To suggest otherwise is deceptive.
Yeah, I'll buy that.
0 is the only number that is not arbitrary in a scalable measurement such as a graph. That's what makes it important.
Science has come to a conclusion. Do you listen or merely justify your previously held belief?
So in order for these people to be good, upstanding Americans, they must be 100% diametrically opposed to the hippies, even if the hippie is saying "the sky is blue".
Personally, I'm ok with dropping the gaia and taking the science.
A defense contractor is involved with public relations for this facility, not Indymedia.
Typically, climate models require the resources of high-performance computing facilities with thousands of processors. These facilities cost tens of millions of dollars to implement, and millions to maintain.
Why is climate research a matter of national security, involving the oversight of defense contractors and personnel with security clearance? For at least two reasons. First, it is of strategic interest to the United States to know how the planet will be affected by global warming. If large parts of China or the Netherlands are going to end up submerged under 20 feet of water, and millions of people will have to be evacuated, this U.S. would not want to outsource the ability to forecast this to, let us say, non-allied countries.
Another reason is that with the increased likelihood of hurricanes in the Gulf (to mention one case of extreme weather) it is a matter of national security to have better models for predicting the likely trajectory of a hurricane as it approaches land. A wrong guess can cost billions.
Despite the global warming deniers among politicians who are loyal to the big energy lobby, you can rest assured that funding for the development of sophisticated climate models and the elaborate high-performance computing systems, scientists and operational support personnel needed to design, run and maintain them them is provisioned by the federal government as a matter national security.
1. City: Cranbrook BC
2. Days: June 1 to October 1
3. Click Report
4. Repeat for any number of Canadian cities
Only about 1 in 10 surface weather stations is sufficiently properly sited to produce data accurate to within 1 deg. C.
The site says nothing about global warming or the cause. The site does show that there is a consistent warming trend over summer months across all of Canada, and is most extreme in northern Canada. Also, I believe the Environment Canada data is accurate to within 0.2 degrees C.
"...in the US; here's a good study on the subject:" would.
Seriously, ice core samples: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ice_core
Oh and yes, the graph was limited to 400K years,because otherwise it would show CO2 levels in the past FAR higher than today. And it doesn't show CO2 vs temp over geological timescales, because that graph clearly shows that CO2 lags temp, not the other way round.
It's the same old story - figure out who hopes to make money from a scam, and things get a lot clearer.
So let's get this straight. Your theory is that a 95% scientific consensus exists because they're all trying to make money off a scam? What's the scam, you get a PhD, postdoc, do 4 years of research at poverty-level wages and you get a 40k grant? Wow, that's effective.
Wouldn't they just work in finance or technology if they wanted money? Or, if they know climate science, they could probably just call the coal industry and build graphs saying the opposite for 10X what they're making right now.
So the reality's actually the exact opposite of your statement.
"Trying to make money off a scam" is way too strong. "Trying to keep their heads down and fit in" maybe. I can see that happening, sure. BTW I am neither for nor against global warming†, just wanted to disagree with your thesis.
† I really just don't know what to think.
All of those would disappear if convincing evidence against climate change were found. I once heard a top scientist in solar science complain that his field had been corrupted that way.
I agree that Science is our best hope for understanding climate, but let's not idealize it.
The problem isn't incentives, it's evidence. The overwhelming majority of evidence points towards an existing warming trend that's exacerbated by CO2.
"Solar weather forecasting is much more complicated than anticipated. The medium-term prospects are grim."
He bitterly complained that his paper was ignored. All the other scientists were busy making (possibly hopeless) predictions and applying for more grants. See also: the AI winter.
Yeah, so in that field, if you're one of the 5% guys and you're actually right, and can make a convincing case?
The issue here is that in a complex field, with such incredible uncertainty, when do we ever have a truly "convincing case"? Who's to be the judge on that? Hacker News readers? The government? So that leaves us with the other scientists. If they are any good, they'll graciously acknowledge the challenger's criticism. But if they are heavily invested in the status quo, they might find it easier to just ignore you.
I love science. But I'm uneasy its politicization. We've discussed a prominent scientist's resignation from the American Physical Society before: http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1775143 The top comment was great.
The same people who cannot accurately predict whether or not it will rain tomorrow know with 100% certainty that the polar ice caps will melt if I don't buy a Prius.
And your money argument doesn't work. Are you seriously saying those who argue AGW is NOT real don't have a financial interest in that?
Are you seriously saying that every single person who has ever questioned the establishment line on AGW has a financial interest in some kind of carbon emitting industry? Bollocks. I am not a "believer" or a "denier" but rather a skeptic, of both sides, whom I find to be very agenda-driven.
Now you might think I'm an idiot, and fair enough, but my argumentativeness is in no way whatsoever driven by financial interests. I don't think I am alone in that. Please factor that into your thinking.
I'm exactly like you. Except that I happen to generally think that the vast majority of climate scientists probably are honest and know what they are doing.
But neither you nor me are pushing our opinion in the media, in congress, etc. So we're not really relevant to your argument, neither of us.
Let's think about who have financial interests, shall we:
On the "would prefer a world where fossil fuels are fine and dandy all around" side we have entities like oil and automobile companies, which just so happen to be some of the largest and most powerful organizations in the world.
On the "would prefer the world be going to hell" side we have... green-tech startups? Maybe climate scientists have a slight incentive because research funding is probably easier to get if people generally think an issue is important. But that might have been true 20 years ago. Nowadays I bet you'd get as much funding really proving there's nothing to worry about, lots of politicians would like that to be true. For the oil companies, on the other hand, there's no silver lining, they need to sell less oil and that'll come right out of their bottom line.
If we now compare the amount of money in climate research grants with oil company profits, it is at least to me pretty clear which side I think has the largest financial interest.
How do you know the people behind the link you gave aren't self-interested?
Besides, just because a foolish/corrupted person says X, doesn't mean that NOT X is true.
* It's TWO lists. Pay attention.
* They're not 'stream of consciousness', they're chronological archives of links to AGW related articles, posts, papers, documentaries, etc.
* They're ascii because that works best for maintaining such a record. Deal with it.
* They're 'huge' because there's been so much going on in the AGW discussion, especially since the CRU emails story broke. I'm not in any way trying to present a convenient summary, but an archive of events. Deal with that too.
Also,can't help laughing at the poor sods who still believe (or pretend) that '95% of climate scientists agree AGW exists and is due to CO2' twaddle. Yeah, if they did I'd have been wasting my time keeping such lists.
However,there's no such consensus, only a small number of individuals pretending they represent a near-universal consensus. And being supported in that effort by various media and journals. As becomes clear to anyone who actually looks into the matter. Which could involve reading through a 'huge list of references'- heaven forbid that it might require actual effort. Or that anyone would dare to subvert the 'consensus' by providing a convenient list of dissenting resources.