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Global warming caused by chlorofluorocarbons, not carbon dioxide, new study says (phys.org)
65 points by DanielBMarkham on May 31, 2013 | hide | past | favorite | 108 comments



This would be really, really good news if it were true. We have demonstrated the ability to put these things into the atmosphere, with 40-50 year-old tech, and as an accidental side effect rather than a deliberate attempt to do so. We have demonstrated the ability to let them decay out of the atmosphere without adding significantly more. If the CFCs had this level of impact on the atmospheric temperature, this would give us such an enormous stick in global temperature management that at the very least the fears of a new ice age [1] could be put to rest for the duration of our technological civilization, and of course there's the fact that it would also demonstrate that our CO2 contribution is also not that big a deal so our warming fears could also be all but put to bed.

It's such good news, in fact, that I daresay it's too good a bit of news. The Cynic's Razor [2] may not be quite as reliable as Occam's Razor, but it's still pretty darned reliable. (Unfortunately.) Alas, the Cynic's Razor must slash this theory away without a great deal more evidence.

[1] I fear global cooling far more than I fear global warming. I say that without regard to any immediate probability estimates of the two, I'm considering the whole life span of civilization here. Take the worst global warming scenario you've ever heard. The compare it to this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Iceage_north-intergl_glac_... And bear in mind that "areas with no growing season to speak of" continues a significant distance beyond the glaciers themselves. Canada and Britain completely uninhabitable. The US, Russia, and most if not all of Europe with zero growing season for any commercially-viable crop. Similar problems in the southern hemisphere. Global warming may be bad for civilization, an Ice Age is potentially death to the entire concept of civilization. YMMV.

[2] Drat! Not quite an original construct: https://www.google.com/search?q=%22Cynic%27s+Razor%22 So close.


Eh...the worst global warming scenario I've ever heard? Positive feedbacks like methane emissions take hold, and even if we stop emissions entirely the planet tips itself into its hot mode, when sea levels were about a hundred meters higher and most life on the planet was clustered around the poles.

No wait, the worst is a repeat of the greatest mass extinction ever, killing off 95% of the species on Earth, caused in part by ocean acidification leading to mass emissions of hydrogen sulfide.


Well, fair enough based on my wording I suppose. But on the one hand you have events that happened a very long time ago, whereas on the other you have the fact that we're in an "intraglacial period" in a "current ice age" right now: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holocene (first paragraph, I suggest also clicking on the "current ice age" link).

I'm actually more worried that warming could still somehow lead us back into the ice age (chaos is nasty stuff) than the catastrophic warming scenarios. Both are theoretically possible, but we are so much closer to an ice age than heat disaster right now. However much we may or may not moved the climate it certainly hasn't been very far away from "ice age" in the grand scheme of things.


Well if you're really talking about history-of-civilization timeframes, warming problems could get pretty bad. Most projections you see don't go past 2100. The last time CO2 levels were as high as they are right now, sea levels were at least ten meters higher. At the same time, the rate at which we're adding CO2 is much higher than the planet has ever seen.

In geologic history, higher CO2 levels have always been associated with higher temperatures and sea levels. However, if you're worried about an ice age, it's easily prevented, because ice ages are actually pretty delicate. A single factory producing NF3 and venting it to the atmosphere would be enough to keep us out of one. (Source: Hansen's book again)


Qing-Bin Lu doesn't have a good record in climate science as discussed here: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2011/07/lu-fro..., so I'm not holding my breath over this one.


It actually seems like the Lu paper being debunked in that RealClimate link is the same paper that for some reason has been republished in another journal now.

http://www.worldscientific.com/doi/abs/10.1142/S021797921350...

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0370157309...


Those appear to be different, though related, papers.

It looks like the new paper contains attempts to address the previous criticisms.

The new paper is on arxiv, for the curious

http://arxiv.org/pdf/1210.6844.pdf


It may help if you refuted the central argument rather than attacking the source.


They're both wrong. Global warming is caused smartphone batteries.

And don't give me the old, "That's obviously stupid" response. I demand a good faith refutation that treats my central thesis seriously, even though my predictions have a poor track record and my thesis is outside of mainstream consensus.


Well, for one thing, you didn't even show a graph that at least hints at a correlation between smartphone batteries and global warming. I wouldn't attack your track record, I would attack your complete lack of an attempt at demonstrating evidence for your claim.


I'm sure a graph could be made, something like this:

http://www.venganza.org/images/PiratesVsTemp.png


Have you even looked at that graph? The x axis randomly changes to suit the data.

I get that it's a joke - but it's not even a very good one if you have to fake it to make it work.


It could be made, but it wasn't in this case, which was my point.


You're missing my point:

Graphs are completely meaningless. Correlation does not imply causation. Asking for a graph is the last thing you should do. Ask for a hypothesis about why there might be a causal relationship. Test that hypothesis.


Correlation very much implies causation, it just doesn't guarantee it. After you test that hypothesis, you'd find correlation if the hypothesis was correct. Saying "correlation is not causation" is useful for dismissing data offhand, but where you find causation you'll find correlation.

Also, graphs are demonstrably NOT completely meaningless. They can absolutely be misleading, but they can also accurately depict the underlying data. I think the point of this thread is that the authors of this study have proposed a hypothesis and collected data that supposedly reinforces it. The data (and methodology) can be analysed and verified. There's no need to start from scratch, in this case, to determine if the findings can be substantiated.


Yes, everything you said made sense. Except the part where this particular thread was about cell phone batteries causing global warming.


There have been plenty of times that ideas outside of mainstream consensus are right and the consensus was wrong.

Is this guy a genius who'll prove everyone wrong? Personally I seriously doubt it. But that doesn't mean the scientific community should pooh-pooh his paper.

Treating this paper as if an adult wrote it can only do good things for the climate debate. Even if it doesn't really deserve that kind of treatment.


There are many times that people test positive for pregnancy tests but are not pregnant. Basic Bayes theorem. The odds are very poor that this persons thesis is correct in the first place, and the odds are not improved based on: unsubstantiated warming mechanism in his model, lack of experimental data, almost complete lack of consensus support, previous bad results, extremely well supported competing model... I mean, what set of heuristics would you go by to give this guy the time of day? I can point you to a couple of poorly written books by hobbyist mathematicians with purported proofs of Riemann's hypothesis and Goldbach's conjecture. If you want to wade through the insanity you're than welcome to spend weeks of your life coming to the conclusion that they are wrong.



Are you agreeing with me, or not? Sending me that link without any other kind of comment, as if I were one of the few dozen people on the internet that are unfamiliar with the ad hominem fallacy, is a bit patronizing.

My point is that attacking someone's argument by noting their poor academic track record is not ad hominem, it's a perfectly valid approach. Otherwise non-science people seeking to alter scientific consensus would have a trivial loophole to DoS the process.


Someone in my public speaking class several years ago, during a persuasion speech, actually tried to dismiss CO2, CFCs, et al as a cause of global warming in favor of methane from cow farts (bovinepogenic global warming?)


Interestingly, methane from livestock is a large factor.

>According to a new report published by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the livestock sector generates more greenhouse gas emissions as measured in CO2 equivalent – 18 percent – than transport.

http://www.fao.org/newsroom/en/news/2006/1000448/index.html

(Though it's worth noting that that report is a few years old at this point.)


Given that he's making the same argument that was refuted previously, the link is very applicable.

In any case estimating the relative impact of different chemicals in the air right now is a relatively straightforward modeling problem. And from that we know that our introduction of CFCs contributes a lot less radiative forcing to the atmosphere than our CO2 and methane increases. (What is much harder is estimating future growth in gasses, and the variety of feedback loops. But current impact of changes is something we know pretty reliably, and CFCs are not the top cause.)


"What's striking is that since 2002, global temperatures have actually declined"

What about this claim? Is this verifiable? A 10 year decline in global temperature would be quite extraordinary, given that global CO2 emissions have increased over the last 10 years (despite efforts of some, they are nothing compared to the growth of India and China).


It all depends on what data set you look at.

The best data sets that we have for the whole globe indicate continued heat absorption, with a high absorption of that heat by the oceans. However data sets taken from land do not show a clear warming trend. So, of course, that is what this particular researcher uses.

The discrepancy between global absorption of heat and global temperature becomes very understandable when you note that a lot of that absorption of heat takes the form of melting ice. And when you melt ice you both absorb a lot of heat energy, and flood the environment around you with cold water that cools it off.

(It is worth noting that this particular absorption pattern cannot continue forever. For instance see http://www.slate.com/blogs/bad_astronomy/2013/05/28/arctic_s... for information about how quickly we're losing the arctic ice cover.)


But don't the climate models that predict global warming take into effect the ocean's heat absorption and the resulting ice melt and the resulting change in the earth's albedo and so on?

I know it is complicated but the 'conventional wisdom' has been that the best climate models take all these feedback mechanisms into consideration and predict a catastrophic increase in temperatures and that the science is 'settled' on this. We've been told over and over again that the models are trustworthy and beyond criticism. All the radical regulatory and economic policy recommendations are based on these models being correct. Anyone who doubts this is labeled as a 'denier' and politely escorted out of the room.

And yet, you say that the land temperatures are not increasing as predicted by these trustworthy models. Hmmm.


But don't the climate models that predict global warming take into effect the ocean's heat absorption and the resulting ice melt and the resulting change in the earth's albedo and so on?

They attempt to. But many of those feedbacks are complex, poorly understood, and hard to model. That is one of the reasons why predictions have large error bars on them.

I know it is complicated but the 'conventional wisdom' has been that the best climate models take all these feedback mechanisms into consideration and predict a catastrophic increase in temperatures and that the science is 'settled' on this. We've been told over and over again that the models are trustworthy and beyond criticism. All the radical regulatory and economic policy recommendations are based on these models being correct. Anyone who doubts this is labeled as a 'denier' and politely escorted out of the room.

There are stupid people on both sides, and certainly a lot of people state certainties that go way beyond what scientists would consider settled.

And yet, you say that the land temperatures are not increasing as predicted by these trustworthy models. Hmmm.

They are not increasing as fast as the median prediction. But they are well within the error bars that we've had all along.

This is a disconnect between scientific consensus and popular belief that we've seen before in other fields, like evolution. Science, by its very nature, always has a lot of rough edges and unexpected bobbles. Scientists focus on these. In their discussions of all of the ways in which they have failed to perfectly understand, and how they can understand better, they say lots of things that can be (and are!) cherrypicked for propaganda among people who think that the scientists are dead wrong. But when you trace back the quotes to the source, and look at the overwhelming bulk of the research, you realize that the scientists actually had broad agreement all along (with occasional exceptional data points).

The scientist who wrote the article this discussion is about would be an exceptional data point. Fred Hoyle's rejection of the big bang theory would be a similar one. So would the creationist beliefs of Kurt Wise and Timothy H. Heaton. (Both got PhDs in geology from Harvard and studied under Stephen J. Gould.)

I list these exceptions not to dismiss them. But to say that you cannot understand the nature of scientific consensus without understanding that not all scientists will agree with it. And the nature of science done right is that people who disagree, but who manage to maintain the forms and standards of science, are permitted to maintain their arguments until the day that they die. Other scientists may disagree and shake their heads. You may get articles like http://www.secularhumanism.org/library/fi/dawkins_21_4.html written in disbelief. But the contrary argument is allowed to be made. Is allowed to be heard. And if evidence is on its side, will eventually be allowed to overturn what people had thought settled. This is part of the scientific process.

However scientific history shows that while we celebrate people on the scientific fringe who proved to be right, the smart money wouldn't generally bet that that fringe beliefs were right. And at this point, denying the reality of anthropogenic global warming is very much a fringe belief. (Though one that will see you well rewarded by some powerful economic interests.)


Bottom line: reality is diverging from the models and in some cases diverging from the range covered by the error bars. The radical policy recommendations have been predicated not on some warming or mild warming but on catastrophic warming and been justified by pointing to 'scientific consensus'.

The natural skepticism that a scientist should have has been severely lacking in the climate science community.


I fail to see any support for your "bottom line" in this article.

Do you have a citation for me to look into?


The title itself says "extreme rates of warming 'not as likely'. That is, the error bars have shifted down.

The second paragraph says there has been an 'unexplained standstill' since 1998.

Further down Dr. Otto from Oxford is quoted as saying that the "hottest of the models in the medium-term, they are actually looking less likely or inconsistent with the data from the last decade alone".

Certainly sounds to me as if there is something going on that wasn't anticipated in earlier models, especially the 'hottest models' -- the ones that are most worrying.


Oh dear. Proposals that had been on the extreme side of the possible are now considered impossible. Everything that we thought has fallen through! It is time to stop believing everything that scientists say!

Do you have any idea how many garbage theories are published every day? It is all part of the scientific process, as is the process by which we constantly weed out proposals. Wake me when the scientific consensus has moved to a median rise below 1.0 C per century. Until then scientists are not actually disagreeing with what a lot of them claimed in the IPCC report you were blasting.

And even if that report was wrong, until the bottom of the range includes 0 C/century, the consensus is global warming.


> It is time to stop believing everything that scientists say!

This is exactly the sort of nonsense that I was talking about regarding the response to criticisms of the climate models. You've gone even farther than usual by suggesting that I'm denying the entire edifice of science.

I get that there is uncertainty in science. I get that natural variations in climate aren't perfect fits to pretty theoretical models. I get that short-term variations don't automatically invalidate long-term predictions.

What I don't get is how scientists can advocate multi-trillion dollar public policy initatives and incredibly disruptive changes to our economy based on these uncertain models. Even if you accept the predictions as certain the costs of the 'remedies' seem to exceed the costs of simply adapting to the higher temperatures.


Unfortunately sarcasm does not come across well sometimes.

My point is that scientists put up a variety of models with a variety of assumptions and know full well that some of those assumptions are going to prove wrong, and so will the corresponding models. This is part of the model fitting process.

It is absolutely true that the extreme models from a decade ago are clearly wrong. However you were trying to conclude from that normal and expected result that the entire process a decade ago is clearly wrong and this is somehow a crisis. Far from being a crisis, this is normal science, and entirely expected.

What is far more important is that the best models we can produce today fit in the range that was being predicted a decade ago. And none of that range is good news.

What I don't get is how scientists can advocate multi-trillion dollar public policy initatives and incredibly disruptive changes to our economy based on these uncertain models.

If we could produce better models, we would. But when your best projections about the future show an oncoming train, at what point should you pay attention?

Even if you accept the predictions as certain the costs of the 'remedies' seem to exceed the costs of simply adapting to the higher temperatures.

There have been many, many attempts to quantify this. These attempts are even more controversial than climate studies because they also depend on economics, which is both less settled and more political than climate science. And furthermore they could be changed radically by future scientific improvements that we don't know about yet. However as http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Economics_of_global_warming#Res... says, No models suggest that the optimal policy is to do nothing, i.e., allow "business-as-usual" emissions.

As an example of a limitation, there are climate mitigation strategies that have been discussed which might be considerably cheaper. For instance the release of particles into the stratosphere might cool the planet. However wouldn't help with ocean acidification - what value do we put on having shellfish? Adding trace minerals to the ocean in certain places will cause ocean blooms that help with CO2 and acidification, but have unknown impacts on the deep ocean.

This leads to a classic problem. At what point do we decide to act on the basis of what our best available information says? As http://www.amazon.com/Collapse-Societies-Choose-Succeed-Revi... makes abundantly clear, the historical pattern is for cultures who don't want to make hard choices to put them off, despite the best information they had available, until it was too late. With disastrous results for the culture. I don't want that pattern to repeat to my children and grandchildren.

You, obviously, consider the risk worthwhile.


This is probably one of the most controversial and highly politicized topics of the last and current decade. Lets see if we can discuss this without bringing politics into the discussion.


I am not qualified to judge either side (nor did I even find this link: someone on r/science commented with it), but this article may be interesting to those who are (and I certainly would be interested in hearing the opinions of others):

http://www.skepticalscience.com/Could-CFCs-be-causing-global...


Nice graph! It was very strange that the graph in the original article only covers the last 50 years. (I understand that a graph is not a proof, but it's an easy way to look at the information.)

I searched for a similar graph of Temp-CO2. The first entry in Google images is: http://zfacts.com/p/226.html It covers a similar period of time and has a similar scale.

The first thing I noted is that there is a temperature bump circa 1940 and neither the CO2 or CFC concentrations have a bump at that time. Is there any explanation for it?


Is the "International Journal of Modern Physics" as published by "World Scientific" considered a reputable journal?


It's indexed by a number of scientific abstracts services[1], but not being a physicist, I can't tell you how significant that is.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Journal_of_Moder...


That link claims that global temperatures have declined since 2002, which is untrue. Will hunt for more authoritative sources, but a quick search turns up this story from Forbes, refuting that non-fact: http://www.forbes.com/sites/petergleick/2012/02/05/global-wa...


Yeah the problem there is that isn't not conclusively proven either way.

The crux of the argument is that the error bands on the last 10-15 years of temperature data show that the trend isn't cooling, and that in fact it's just a slow decade and about to be followed by a warm one. And we all know that can happen.

Problem is, the error bands are significant relative to any cherry picked "things are warming up" 8-15 years OR any "things are cooling down" 8-15 years and as such, no rigorous conclusion can be drawn.

We'll know more in a decade. Sadly that's how it works when you're measuring stochastic processes.


I believe the general consensus is that there is no statistical increase in temperature over the past decade. However, that source isn't exactly reliable considering the existence of global warming is, in a large part, key to his business model.


As we move from coal based to natural gas based electricity generation around the world, the amount of CO2 emissions as a percentage of energy produced will naturally decrease. There are fewer carbon atoms attached to natural gas than coal, and as a result, less are launched into the atmosphere as a by product of burning it for power. Even if we do nothing other than let the natural gas revolution take root, the amount of CO2 in the air, and hence the amount of global warming will be reduced significantly.

tl;dr if CO2 does cause global warming, it will be fixed on its own


But the energy density of natural gas is a lot less than coal, so you are burning more gas to get the same energy output. I'm not sure it is quite a wash, gas is cleaner in a lot of other ways (no particulates, no or very little sulfur, etc.)


> But the energy density of natural gas is a lot less than coal, so you are burning more gas to get the same energy output.

No you aren't, and no it isn't. Not if you measure by weight. By weight natural gas is 2 or 3 times more dense.


However, the half-life of atmospheric CO2 is about 100 years.


What's up with "global warming" these days? I was under the impression that, since there hasn't been any recent evidence of warming, everybody had just substituted the more general term "climate change" to deal with anthropogenic environmental stuff.

I'm really crossing my fingers that preventing anthropogenic global warming is as simple as banning CFCs. A lot of the CO2 emission control schemes being considered could seriously stress the economy.


>A lot of the CO2 emission control schemes being considered could seriously stress the economy.

A lot of the CO2 emission control schemes being considered are lame.

The key to reducing CO2 is to commit to a policy that will affect the energy market in a gradual, predictable way: A slow phase in of a carbon tax. Raise the carbon tax the equivalent of $0.25/gallon every year, forever. No increase in the year the tax passes.

That means no economic effect this year. No change at all -- except that everyone now expects gas to be $5/gallon in four years, so if you're buying a car now you better get something with an electric motor on it. If you're investing in energy you better invest in renewables rather than petroleum. And then by the time the gas tax is $1 higher than it is now, the installed base of cars has been replaced with higher efficiency ones, so the burden of the tax is already mitigated because a) you're now buying less gas, and b) so is everyone else, so demand goes down, so the pre-tax price of gas goes down and cancels out a significant portion of the tax.

Meanwhile the government collects a large pile of cash (largely at the expense of oil company profits -- what a shame) that can be used to subsidize the installation of renewable energy generating capacity, which creates jobs etc. etc.


Your central argument rests on anthropogenic, CO2-caused global warming being irrefutably true. This statement is not yet known to be certain, and the reality is that the economic effect of such an infinitely-increasing tax must be weighed against the risk of that statement being wrong.

Your proposition is example of exactly the extremist control scheme I was talking about.


>Your central argument rests on anthropogenic, CO2-caused global warming being irrefutably true.

Nonsense. There is in any event finitely much petroleum in the ground. Even if CO2-caused global warming is complete rubbish, it is still preferable to transition to renewable energy in a gradual fashion rather than hitting a global price spike that would induce an enormous economic catastrophe when a supply panic occurs at a time when all the world's infrastructure is still tooled for fossil fuels.


>hitting a global price spike

Again, this is not a certainty. Prices may very likely rise gradually on their own, allowing market forces to dictate a shift towards renewables. No reason to get incompetent bureaucrats involved


Why does it have to be a certainty rather than a significant risk we can insure against?


That's not unreasonable, but there should be proper risk management involved first. The decision is too important to leave up to scare tactics and knee-jerk reactions.


It isn't reasonable to think that oil will suddenly become unavailable leading to an abrupt price spike. Instead, the cost to extract the oil will increase over time causing the market to adjust via lower demand or substitute products.

The 'invisible hand of the market' will have no problem in directing a transition. The recent increase in oil production due to fracking and horizontal drilling is a perfect example of the market directing investment in response to an increase in price.


How likely does it need to be that we will destroy the world in the next century due to our present energy policy before it is worth the economic cost to change it? (I'm pretty sure most people wouldn't say 100%...)


Your electric car simply transfers the carbon emissions from the tailpipe to the local powerplant smokestacks (unless your utility uses nukes).


Where does this misconception come from? Isn't it obvious that large electric power plants are far more efficient than the tiny internal combustion engines?

Running an electric car on pure coal is more CO2 efficient than any gasoline car out there. And it's easy to switch to cleaner electricity sources.


> Running an electric car on pure coal is more CO2 efficient than any gasoline car out there.

That claim is contentious. http://elpc.org/plug-ins#4


Maybe I'm having serious reading difficulties, but I believe your link refutes your claim:

>Multiple studies have shown that EVs and PHEVs reduce total pollution compared with conventional gasoline or diesel-fueled vehicles, even when batteries are charged with electricity from coal plants.

I've run the numbers myself several times (simply Google for 1. coal's CO2 output per KWH, 2. miles/KWH, 3. CO2 output per gallon of gasoline), and coal-EV has always come out as a super CO2 efficient way to travel, the equivalent of a 50-60 MPG/car, if I recall correctly.

Do you have any sources of contention for that?


He's suggesting a carbon tax. That means you can expect low-carbon energy sources to slowly win out price-wise over high-carbon sources. The electric car will use whatever is economical for the utilities, whereas a gas car is committed to gasoline.


Right, but petrol-fueled cars will still emit CO2 regardless of whether the local power plant uses clean energy or not.


You forget that the line between "government" and "oil companies" in many countries is a fuzzy one. Most people will either blame this on the oil companies (stereotypical liberal viewpoint) or the government (stereotypical conservative viewpoint), but I prefer to just point out that there's not a big difference between the two.


That is a plausible explanation for why it hasn't been done. Do you have any argument for why we shouldn't do it?


I think if there was more separation between oil companies and government (or in general, a decrease in legal power of the oil/government cooperative), then it would be less necessary.


Given our government's not very excellent management of Social Security I wouldn't bet on them wisely spending on renewables when there are all kinds of other things the money could be spent on. As such I'm a bit skeptical of your proposal.

EDIT: sarcasm removed


"The government screws everything up" is not an argument, unless the point of the argument is that we shouldn't have a government. We know the government is capable of doing bad things, but unless we intend for them to do nothing whatsoever, the idea is to do what we can to have them do something good rather than something bad.

For example, the problem here is "how can we subsidize renewable energy efficiently." Obviously there are plenty of stupid ways to do that. See: Solyndra. Let me suggest a better alternative: Forget about which companies should get money or qualifications or anything of that nature. Just take the money from the tax and give it to the people generating electricity from non-fossil sources in proportion to the number of kilowatt hours they push into the power grid. No complicated rules, no governments speculating about which companies are going to succeed or fail, just this: you produce a KWh from solar/wind/hydro/whatever, you get a check. The end.


And I wouldn't mind too much if what you're suggesting happened. But I've seen too much politics to bring myself to believe that it could get passed just like that, with no loopholes, pork, or other corruption.

You could structure it as a 95% of payments in go out to renewables producers. But the problem there is it doesn't provide any kind of stable payment structure for the renewables folks to structure their 10-50 year financing on.

If you set $x/kWh that's fine at first blush, but we could easily run into a situation with a big surplus (which goes into general coffers and is probably spent on wars) or a big deficit (which we definitely can't afford).

I like the idea but I can't see any way to implement it that doesn't end in tears in some way or another.


The UK has been doing just this for the last three years: people get paid for all renewable KwH they generate - even those they use themselves. It's cut the ROI for renewables to 5-10 years in many cases - and 'free' energy and income thereafter. http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/Generating-energy/Gettin...


>But I've seen too much politics to bring myself to believe that it could get passed just like that, with no loopholes, pork, or other corruption.

There is a natural law that applies to politics as much as anything: If you think you can't do it, you don't try. And you can't do it if you don't try.

>You could structure it as a 95% of payments in go out to renewables producers. But the problem there is it doesn't provide any kind of stable payment structure for the renewables folks to structure their 10-50 year financing on.

I don't see how the volatility there would be any worse than the normal volatility in the energy market -- if anything it's a hedge against it because the primary method that could cause the subsidy to be reduced would be as a result of renewables rapidly supplanting fossil fuels, and in that scenario the renewables market is booming and the subsidy is less important.


>There is a natural law that applies to politics as much as anything: If you think you can't do it, you don't try. And you can't do it if you don't try.

I agree with this. It's absolutely true.

That said, I don't agree that government is necessarily the right place to "try" things as the nature of government is fundamentally VERY different than product design or other entrepreneurial endeavors. If you have a theory about how the business world should be and you fail, the company folds and it's undone. If a law is passed and it's imperfect, bad, or horrible we'll likely have to live with it forever or nearly so. The majority of the laws ever passed are still on the books today. The Patriot Act and the Brady Bill are the only two things I can think of that had an automatic expiration.

In other words, in markets there is virtually no hysteresis. When talking about conglomerates or other big, big businesses there is definitely some. When dealing with the law, hysteresis is the rule not the exception.

It is for that reason I find I am always hesitant to argue that we simply have to pass "A law stating X" and that we can fix things.


That must be what optimism looks like.

You need to understand that many - a minority perhaps, but many - of the supporters of emission controls are opposed to industry per se, not the effects of same.


And many - who knows what percentage - of deniers are motivated by hatred of liberals or environmentlists or Democrats or the UN or scientists. So what?


'Deniers' isn't a useful term - in fact, it's the kind of label that is designed to shut down debate. Like "communist" in the McCarthy era, or "defeatist" during WWI (hat tip to PG for opening my eyes to this).

Leaving that aside, my point to the OP was that he was being naive in assuming that calls to limit industry would cease if CFCs were proved to be the sole agent of AGW.


What term would you use? I can't think of one that's less loaded than "denier", which is at least fairly correct.


I wouldn't use a term at all. There isn't a convenient description for a group of people whose opinions vary from "God promised he wouldn't drown the Earth, and that's why he creates rainbows" to "we think that CFC levels correlate better with climate data than CO2 levels".

Terms like "denier" or "warmist" are only useful if you want to shut down reasoned debate.


I don't know that their opinions are as varied as all that. Certainly they express that full range, but in my experience, they're all just contrarians of one stripe or another at heart, with the "God" or "CFC" stuff being rationalizations that stem from a belief that climate change is false, rather than the other way around.

If there were substantial numbers of people going from evidence to the conclusion that climate change is not real, then I could see not labeling them all with the same term, but there isn't.


Of all the things about the climate debate, the use of "denier" is the one I despise the most.

It's very clearly meant to be pejorative and to up the political rhetoric level. It's taken directly from "holocaust deniers", and that's a shameful association to be making.

I can't take anyone who uses the term seriously on the issue, it's just too much of political hack word.


skeptic


I thought of that, but it seems to have far too many sarcastic overtones.


I was under the impression that, since there hasn't been any recent evidence of warming, everybody had just substituted the more general term "climate change"...

Addresses a couple of your impressions rather directly:

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/04/23/1909881/debunkin...


It's been called climate change for quite some time; for instance the IPCC was established in 1988: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ipcc


That Fox News myth has been debunked http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2013/04/23/1909881/debunkin...

But like a lot of propaganda it continues being spread after being killed. Zombie propaganda.


I'm not quite sure what point the article was trying to make. It simply read like an unnecessarily rude and polarizing circle jerk. One one had, the author vaguely hints towards some sort of conspiracy only to offer one of his own (Frank Luntz and his back-room terminology redefining). Pure crap.


"I'm really crossing my fingers that preventing anthropogenic global warming is as simple as banning CFCs."

The snarky response of What's the weather like on your planet? has never seemed more appropriate.


Yeah, what about the so-called 'global warming'?? We need to protect that oil and gas industry at all costs.

BTW, I heard that evolution is just a 'theory', and many experts seriously doubt that it can be true.


We know much less about the climate than we do about evolution.


You could say that of very many things... perhaps even most things. The body of research we have on evolution is awe inspiring.


Yeah - it's all just so mysterious and uncertain. 97% of climate scientists might say that human produced carbon causes warming. (http://climate.nasa.gov/scientific-consensus) But that's just their opinion. There is still doubt. The imperative is to protect the oil and gas industry, and keep putting carbon into the atmosphere. It's great for the economy, and some say it's good for plants!


Consensus is not science. 97% of "biologists" in the 17th century might have said that acquired traits are heritable, or perhaps that there is no common ancestry among species, but that is scientifically false now and was scientifically false then (barring for the moment epigenetics and neo-Lamarckism). Of course, without the luxury of hindsight, you can't really be sure yourself unless you are more confident in your scientific abilities than the so-called experts at the time or are able to personally recreate experiments and observe contradictory results (which is unlikely for things like speciation and climate change).

Note that I'm not saying I believe any specific theories are correct or incorrect. I'm just trying to make a general statement that appeals to consensus are themselves not that useful and are certainly not "science." Also note that I am well aware that opposing political groups might purposefully publicize articles disagreeing with the consensus in order to make it seem like there is less of a consensus than there actually is.


"Consensus" is not a valid scientific argument. For the longest time it was the "consensus" that the earth was flat and that existence was only 6000 years old (although not if you ask early Catholic theologians - they always saw Genesis in a metaphoric light, but I digress).

Between this and your last comment, your "scientific" arguments aren't very persuasive, they sound more like daily kos talking points.


No, that was never the concensus among scientists.

Scientific consensus is a valid argument in the same sense that "extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof"; the probability that mainstream science is wrong and you are right is low, proportionally to the amount of science at either end.

The fact that the Earth is round was known by the Greeks and has been acknowledged ever since, not least following several circumnavigations by people such as Magellan. The notion that people (scientists and laymen alike) believed in a flat earth is really a popular myth perpetrated, probably, to make the Columbus story more interesting. Columbus knew perfectly well that the Earth was round.

The fact that Earth and the universe are very old was pretty much agreed upon since the 18th century with the arrival of geology as a branch of science. Aristotle thought the universe was infinite in age. The Hindus thought it was billions of years old. The 6000 year thing is a very recent Christian idea.


>Aristotle thought the universe was infinite in age

If we're going to nit-pick, this was the scientific "consensus" until a Catholic priest postulated the big bang.


Considering that there are indications that black holes contain universes, implying that "big bangs" happen more than once, Aristotle's idea may not be wrong.

[1] http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2010/04/100409-black...


When was it the "consensus" that the Earth was flat? As far as I understand it, the Earth has been known to be round for approximately as long as people both thought to ask the question and attempt to figure out an answer.

"Consensus" may not give us proof, but in the absence of compelling evidence against it, it's fairly strong.

Yep, they could be wrong. But it's not the way to bet.


>When was it the "consensus" that the Earth was flat?

I don't know man I just threw that down as a hypothetical. Look at the sibling comment next to mine for a more well-thought-out refutation :)


> For the longest time it was the "consensus" that the earth was flat and that existence was only 6000 years old

Actually, the educated (still pre-scientific, as the scientific method wasn't really established as a thing) consensus had turned against the former before the latter was even a thing, much less a consensus (which it never really was, either the first time, ~AD 500 with biblically-based -- from the Septuagint -- estimates of the date of creation ~5500 BC, or the second time ~AD 2000 with biblically-based -- from the Masoretic texr -- estimates of the date of creation ~4000 BC.)


The physics of CO2 trapping heat is well-established, and pretty well matches the amount of warming we've seen. So if it's actually CFCs causing warming, then two things have to be true:

1) There's some kind of unknown physical process that prevents warming by CO2, and

2) The warming from CFCs happens to match the expected warming from CO2.

Seems shaky.


Except that the article claims that global temperatures have decreased since 2002, correlating with a decrease in CFCs but with no correlation to CO2.


or that CFCs and CO2 are both responsible?

Why does everything need to be black and white?


Indeed they are both responsible. Right now I'm looking at page 6 of Hansen's book Storms of My Grandchildren, which has a table of climate forcings. CO2 is the biggest, but CFCs are in there too, along with methane, N2O, ozone, and black carbon aerosols.

It's just the "not carbon dioxide" part that seems dubious to me.


Because these days, everything is political even if it shouldn't be. And people need to feel good about themselves for picking the "correct" party, whichever party that is. Think for yourself? Why bother! Jump on our bandwagon instead.


> Because these days, everything is political even if it shouldn't be.

I think the problem isn't that "everything is political", the problem is that everything that is political is tribal. The problem isn't that it has a connection to politics, the problem is that it is tied up in group identity and that people respond to it on that basis rather than rationally.


You got that a lot more right than I did.



That is really suspicious. It seems the paper was published by Elsevier's Physics Reports in 2009 and now republished by South Korea's International Journal of Modern Physics B.


This article doesn't address the CFC effect relative to the effect of CO2 emissions fallout landing on the glaciers and polar ice caps, which changes the albedo of the ice, resulting in melting them. More and more ice melts every year, and less re-freezes, raising the sea level, altering the salinity, changing the worldwide currents, resulting in massive change to the ocean biomes. Does that result in less climate change than CFCs eroding the ozone layer over the poles?


> of CO2 emissions fallout

The what? Did you typo? If you didn't, then the article did not address it because there is no such thing.


Ok, sorry, I meant carbon particulate (soot), not CO2.


There's probably less soot now than there was in the past.

Wood fires (campfires, stoves, hearths, etc) make a TON of soon. Modern burning techniques are much better.

So if it didn't do anything in the past, it's certainly not doing anything now.




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