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A Guide to Climate Change (neilkakkar.com)
44 points by neilkakkar 75 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 17 comments

Skimmed parts of it.

Read this bit:


    Right now, we are at net positive emissions. Every year, we add more CO2 to the atmosphere. Even if we reach net zero emissions by 2050, we’ll keep adding more greenhouse gases to the atmosphere for 30 years. Thus, we’ll keep increasing the rate of heating. Even in 2050, the planet will continue heating up - faster than today, but at net zero, the rate will stabilise.

    Imagine a car on a super long path2 that ends in a cliff. We are pushing this car harder and harder, which makes the car keep going faster and faster. We will continue pushing for 30 years, and when we stop, the car will continue going at its current speed. This roughly translates to the car falling off the cliff. It doesn’t matter how long the path is, we will get to the cliff.

This view that a given CO2 level determines a rate of global heating does not match any scientific view of the greenhouse effect of which I'm aware.

Yeah I got to that, too, and it's not correct. A given CO2 level basically determines the temperature at which the Earth will be in net radiative equilibrium between heating and cooling.

The Earth can't simply continue heating up until the oceans boil and the rocks melt because the CO2 level has gone up a bit. That would only be possible in the presence of a very strong positive feedback loop that made the Earth better and better insulated the hotter it got, which would be unlike any other thermal system we know of.

Edit: there are some positive feedback effects, like water vapor being a greenhouse gas, that will likely make the end result hotter than that expected based on the change in CO2 alone, but it will not lead to heating just continuing indefinitely.

Isn't there a bunch of methane trapped in icebergs or something?

I'll be honest, I'm convinced humans have a big hand in climate change, but I can't seem to determine whether I merely need to lobby my rep for green legislation or start taking survival classes for an impending collapse of JIT supply chains and society in general.

You're right, there is time of methane trapped in permafrost. Those are melting now and realising the gas.

Lobby for green legislation. We need to influence politics to finally act in a serious manner. As we accomplished with the ozone hole as mentioned in the article


He's either confused or has trouble expressing himself.

If human CO2 emissions stopped, atmospheric temperature would still go up for a while (perhaps decades), because of thermal inertia - for instance, the oceans haven't fully warmed to equilibrium, so they currently have a cooling effect on the atmosphere. There could then be some further increase in atmospheric CO2 because warm water holds less CO2 than cold water. There could be other positive and negative feedbacks (eg, higher CO2 and warmer temperatures may increase plant growth, sequestering CO2.)

It's very unlikely that any of these feedbacks are of the "runaway" variety, because if that's how the earth worked, it would have become uninhabitable long ago, since there have been various temperature shocks over the last billion years or so that haven't lead to this fate. (If there were really "runaway" feedbacks, it wouldn't even take a big shock - the tiniest change would be amplified and push the climate into either extreme heat or cold.)

> a given CO2 level determines a rate of global heating

This IS the greenhouse effect. Increased levels of greenhouse gasses result in a warmer planet over time as Earth reflects less solar energy back into space. This warming leads to many known runaway feedback loops: increased wildfires that release more CO2 and destroy natural carbon sinks, reduced albedo from ice melt, increased moisture in the atmosphere, warmer oceans leading to less carbon sequestration by phytoplankton, methane release from ice melts.

There are more. Please read some recent literature to understand this better than anyone can summarize on HN. I recommend The Uninhabitable Earth

It's just slightly badly worded. They're saying that we won't stop emitting until 2050, so until then we'll be heating, because a given CO2 level (assuming it is static e.g. no feedback) determines an equilibrium temperature.

> at net zero, the rate will stabilise

should read something like; at net zero [emissions], the temperature will stabilise.

Thanks fur this article! I like the comparison to the ozone hole problem a couple of decades ago. People panicked at that time and that resulted in immediate change. I think we should panic more in this situation as well.

Besides climate change not being a spicy enough story and consequences being more long-term another important factor in my opinion is that we rely much more on processes that create CO2 than we were relying on ozone-eating gases. Lobbies are much bigger and the transition requires much more effort

Whenever random folks post dire climate change articles, I like to point to a somewhat less random engineer's take on things:



The physicist Richard Muller had similar doubts about global warming, so he took some money from climate deniers (allegedly) and founded Berkely Earth. They used - at least at the time - more data than anyone else, dating back to the 1700s.

Surprise surprise they not only found that the temperature was rising with the so-called IPCC hockey stick, but also the correlation with CO2 was strong too.


From my five minute assessment, this is nonsense. I didn't flag it immediately because I wanted to give it the (remote) chance of being legitimate questioning of alarmist articles, but it's just the typical person denying the whole thing.

Please don't spread this around. It's practically a conspiracy theory saying that all actual climate scientists are trying to get us to reduce CO2 for their own ends.

That seems to be about as accurate and helpful as any random and unknown layperson's "insight" something they don't understand. Or multi Nobel winner Linus Pauling's entirely misplaced obsession with vitamins, spawning a multi-billion dollar but pointless industry.

Why does this random aerospace engineer have any credibility on climate? What peer reviewed research has he on climate? How does knowing something about aerospace engineering provide insight on climate?

Well I don't like to dismiss someone based on the argument that they didn't study for it. Hackers of all people know how effective self education can be. But yeah, in this case, there is nothing that makes him more qualified than the large number of professionals he's disagreeing with.

True, but then I'd hope to see something brought to the party a little more substantive than just shouting at the consensus. Maybe an attempt to show credibility, or humility if making a case for a previously undiscussed aspect or link etc.

Congrats on finding a scientist that is against climate change:

>I put myself in the (Those who fear expansion of Government control) group, and do not hide the fact that I have a clear bias on Anthropogenic global warming (AGW). My bias is based on fear of Government expansion and the observation of AGW data presentation fraud – not based on financial or any other personal benefit. I merely have found that the closer you look at the data and alarmists’ presentations, the more fraud you find and the less you think there is an AGW problem... For decades, as a professional experimental test engineer, I have analyzed experimental data and watched others massage and present data. I became a cynic; My conclusion – “if someone is aggressively selling a technical product whose merits are dependent on complex experimental data, he is likely lying”. That is true whether the product is an airplane or a Carbon Credit.[1]

You may not face the "dire climate change" but the future generations will. Or we can nitpick the studies and claim it as government fraud-- it's probably easier that way.

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burt_Rutan#Anthropogenic_clima...

Whenever random folks post climate change articles, I like to point them to the official IPCC reports. ;-) The executive summary of the last assessment report is at https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/wg1/. It's written for policymakers so it does not assume detailed technical knowledge.

I have tremendous respect for Burt Rutan as an aerospace engineer, but on this topic I think he's completely off base.

Why would an aerospace engineer have any particular insight into climate change moreso than any other random non-climate-science engineer? Burt might be one of the most famous aerospace engineers currently living, but that is mostly due to his aerobatic stunts, and not his knowledge of climate science.

Personally, I think anthropogenic climate change is clearly happening, but I think the dire prognostications about our future is too much - I think we'll be just fine. So it appears I may agree with Mr Rutan, but I just don't see why his opinion is relevant to point out.

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