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Global Warming Endangered by Hot Air? 503

Posted by Zonk
from the picking-and-choosing-from-news-sources dept.
oldwindways writes "The BBC reports that leading climate researchers are concerned that the tone of speculation surrounding many reports (scientific as well as in the media) could be making it more difficult for legitimate science to make a case for the future. Is Hollywood to blame? Have we 'cried wolf' too many times with global warming? Or is this just a case of some researchers who are not ready to face the truth? Either way, it raises the interesting question of how greater public awareness of Global Warming might be affecting the course of research and vice versa. Not to mention what happens when public awareness is shaped by factors other than scientific findings. This is especially troubling during what some are calling the warmest US winter in years."
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Global Warming Endangered by Hot Air?

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  • by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Saturday March 17, 2007 @02:40PM (#18388301)
    I supposed we should all stay quiet? We shouldn't talk about it? I guess then it won't exist at all.

    Please disregard this post as it comments on the taboo subject de jour, and I would hate to make it worse.
    • The /. summary is an excellent example of such unscientific hype. Linking last winter to global warming is pure speculation that does nothing to promote rational discussion about global warming. A mild wointer might indeed be a result of global warming or it could be just a peak in some other climatic cycle that we don't fully understand.

      Here in New Zealand, we have just had a very cool summer, following on from a very cool winter. Where's some of that global warming stuff? Could have used it at the beach!

      • by shark swooner (1077115) on Saturday March 17, 2007 @04:31PM (#18389417)
        To think that we (as a human race) have a very good understanding of long-term climatic processes is just arrogance.

        Did you notice this sounds exactly like the start of an argument for intelligent design?

        We have models which we are always refining, but they will always just be speculation. We look back mockingly at how ignorant some scientists were 40 years ago (eg. during the 1960s many/most geologists did not accept tectonic plate theory). It is silly to think that people forty years from now won't be doing the same about us.

        The whole point of theory and evidence is so you can be relatively more confident that this is not going to happen. If the criticism of science that it might be overturned one day is sufficient to reject its conclusions, then you should always reject every conclusion, ever.

        You're basically asking everyone to assume that you have some great piece of counter-evidence or theory that hasn't been thought of yet. If that were a good argument then you could "disprove" any piece of knowledge about anything, forever, and to be consistent, you'd have to. If later scientists disprove global warming theory some day, you should also reject that conclusion on the grounds that later scientists might disprove them in turn. And so on.

        The whole point of science is to come up with knowledge that is less likely to be overturned than other kinds of knowledge (hearsay, religion-based, mere postulation).

        That should be particularly true of climatic modelling. There is no robust equation for climate. People essentially just sit down and tweak the models until they get the results they expect, then use them to generate best case and worst case analysis. That folks, is hardly science.

        Science is about evidence. Do you have any evidence of any of this happening? Is there any reason to believe you're not making it all up?

        I have a hypothesis: you've just made all of this up off the top of your head but it sounds plausible to you personally. I invite you to disprove this hypothesis.
        • by EmbeddedJanitor (597831) on Saturday March 17, 2007 @05:38PM (#18390001)
          "...argument for intelligent design?"

          Nope. I just mean to point out that in some areas of science (eg. the laws of motion of slow things where Newton is Good Enough, thermodynamics,...) we have very robust models and in others (eg. climatology, earthquake prediction and functioning of the human brain we do not). We should be careful to take all results from the weaker models with a grain of salt. The "oooh look at last winter" remark in the summary was just plain stupid - particularly in a pievce about being rational.

          "... you should always reject every conclusion, ever." Nope. Just be cautious about what you say and to the degree you accept what is being said. The unwashed masses don't understand that some science is robust and other science is very tentative. I personally believe that we are having a global warming impact of sorts, but I don't believe that this is "scientifically proven" or even very strongly modelled. Reacting with alarm is not scientific. That's not to say we should not proceed with caution (ie. we are likely having an impact, therefore we should do things to lessen the impact.).

          As for the tweaking of models, well that's exactly what ckimatologists do. They try to make models that describe how the climate operates. Unfortunately this is a very difficult, slow, and error prone process. You cannot set up an experiment: "Say, tomorrow I'll heat up 500cubic km of ocean and see what that does.".THis makes it very difficult to control the variables and make robust models which is why most models have "best case scenarios" saying sea levels will raise by a foot or so, and "worst case" saying by ten feet or more. The result is that we have no real predictions for what will happen.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by dfghjk (711126)
          "The whole point of theory and evidence is so you can be relatively more confident that this is not going to happen. If the criticism of science that it might be overturned one day is sufficient to reject its conclusions, then you should always reject every conclusion, ever."

          You've just made a common mistake about science and the scientific method--that the best theory science can offer must necessarily be correct until proven otherwise. When no theory carries the weight of sufficient evidence, then we hav
      • by jfengel (409917)
        It's true that the models are far from perfect, but that's not a reason to dismiss them entirely and assume that all is hunky-dory.

        The models are not simply tweaked to prove whatever the researcher wants them to prove. These are scientists making sincere efforts at accurate modeling. If you're going to accuse an entire scientific community of outright fraud you'd better have some serious data to back that up.

        Even in the absence of sophisticated models, some things are both worrying and clear. The amount of
    • by thrawn_aj (1073100) on Saturday March 17, 2007 @03:12PM (#18388629)
      The "truth" is not taboo. However, if the so-called truth relies on your BELIEFS, then yes, it shouldn't be associated with science. It is a historical fact that any issue which gets politicized to such an extent as global warming has (other examples include evolution and abortion), has been firebombed out of legitimate scientific enquiry. And when this happens, the public makes "decisions" based on their emotions and that corrupts what used to be the truth. These issues are not the lame binary questions that are paraded in the media by brain-dead reporters who have no clue what the issue is or what the consequences are for the future. In short, if the people want to decide these issues, fine, let them. But we MUST require a certain level of education in this matter before that can be allowed to happen. Asking a random noob off the street a question is merely proves the intelligence of the examinee, not the merits of the argument itself.

      You can't vote on scientific truth. For example, if even a majority of America is seen to believe in Global Warming in some kind of inane Gallup Poll, well tough noogies if the evidence shows otherwise (random pov, the reverse is also true). People's opinions DO NOT matter unless they are informed decisions rather than the "close-your-eyes-and-pick-one" sprt of decisions that are ruining this country.

      • by uncadonna (85026)
        > You can't vote on scientific truth.

        Yeah, but you can vote on politicians, and so you affect policies.

        If this were just a matter of science, there wouldn't be a controversy. The side of this trumped up debate (which side that is, I won't specify here) which is lying would not exist if a great deal weren't at stake. Then you could read your typical pop science sources and get a good picture without the sort of noise pollution that this issue is subject to.

        The scientific community is healthy, friendly, an
  • Not so... (Score:5, Funny)

    by gbulmash (688770) <semi_famous@y[ ]o.com ['aho' in gap]> on Saturday March 17, 2007 @02:41PM (#18388317) Homepage Journal
    I don't believe Hollywood speculation about global warming will stop us from taking the threat seriously.

    The Hollywood speculation about evil robots has not stopped certain dedicated men and women from taking seriously all threats of domination by artificial life forms. For example, I recently caught my Roomba building an IED. When I shared that information on a forum that shall remain nameless, there were people who believed and recruited me for the Roomba Resistance.

    But perhaps I've said too much.

    - Greg
  • There seems to be a bit or rivalry here going on in the press. Seems like a "not invented here problem" to me.
  • by Kid Zero (4866) on Saturday March 17, 2007 @02:43PM (#18388339) Homepage Journal
    We can't seriously believe either side, but must stick to logic and examine all the facts. Both sides have their hysterical evangelists and paid shills.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Who would be a paid shill for the "global warming is a serious threat to us all" side? And who is paying them?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by phantomlord (38815)
        Who would be a paid shill for the "global warming is a serious threat to us all" side? And who is paying them?

        Anyone who manipulates their science, ignores contrary evidence or exaggerates the conclusions of the science in order to scare the government and/or people into more grant money.

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          Ah, right. It's all a conspiracy to secure more grant money. Thanks for sharing.
          • Blimey. (Score:2, Insightful)

            I get "Troll" while "Lots of people have something to gain by hyping global warming. Politicians looking for power, actors trying to look "caring", socialists making another attempt to weaken the United States." above gets +5 Insightful? Sheesh.
      • by 0111 1110 (518466)
        The entire nuclear industry for one. Horse and other pack animal breeders as well as any pack animal driven carriage manufacturers that may still be around. And the entire industry of surrounding horse care and feeding. As well as producers of alternative energy sources: photovoltaics, wind generators, construction companies that specializing in dams (we will need to dam up most large rivers). Also, manufacturers of air conditioners along with all the associated needs of OEM a/c manufacturers from air compr
      • Well there are a lot of people who want to go I was right. After Hitler and WWII people have been hyper sensitive on everything that is going on, trying to be the one when things go bad and they look for someone to blame they could be the ones who said, Yea I know and I warned people about it but they wouldn't listen. They don't want to be like the german citizens who turned a blind eye to the evils that were going on around them. Now it is easy for people to think something is evil if there are a bunc
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by sweaterface (1074076)
      I take it that by "either side" you mean those who support the claim that we are causing global warming and those that resist the claim. But, I don't see how we "can't seriously believe either side" simply because "both sides have their hysterical evangelists and paid shills." I would note, first, that both sides of *every* issue of any magnitude have hysterical evangelists and paid shills. And we can't take that fact as reason to not seriously believe either side of every issue of any magnitude. Moreov
    • by Shadowlore (10860) on Saturday March 17, 2007 @03:15PM (#18388681) Journal
      We can't seriously believe either side, but must stick to logic and examine all the facts. Both sides have their hysterical evangelists and paid shills.

      This is true. It is also true that there is a risk and danger in public disasterbation.

      And poster of the story/author of the blurb commits one of them. The poster referred to "the warmest summer US winter in years". This winter's temperatures are irrelevant to GW, AGW, NGW. Would the poster say that GW/AGW is obviously not a risk if this summer is one of the coldest US summers in recent years? The variance in annual temperatures is not part of the GW/AGW proponents' position - and rightly so.

      First of all, the GW/AGW people say that the average temperature will rise. There are many ways this can happen, and a warmer winter is not necessarily one of them. Oddly most people understand this, sadly they don't think about it.

      Furthermore, AGW==disaster proponents (the aforementioned disasterbators) are eager to tie anything to AGW. From tsunamis to finding whatever weather changes in your areas you wouldn't like and saying that will happen. Yes, this is the vocal minority doing it, but that's the problem; and some of them are doing it right here on /.. I'd say "you know who you are" but sadly, you probably don't. The man on the street sees these claims, sees they are full of hot air, and does what? Dismisses or discounts the entire thing.

      The other side of the problem is econazis hitching all of their "solutions looking for a cause" to AGW disasterbation. There are a great many things we can do that might be good to limit AGW that are good ideas even if AGW is entirely bunk. How is this bad? The more stuff is piled on to a notion the more we tend to discount it. It is also bad in that by tying these things to AGW we increase any harm or delay any benefits.

      For example, as long as their is public dissent or doubt about AGW, or the costs associated with changes to limit the alleged AGW causes, anything tied to to is delayed due to doubt and suspicion, and caution. Further, if it is shown that GW is more likely to be natural than anthropogenic, or it is shown that we can't stop AGW - i,e. we've reached the tipping point as some disasterbators have claimed (and other climate researches have dismissed) then these measures lose their impetus.

      When they lose their impetus and the proponents of them come back with another one, then they lose more credibility because they are suddenly looking for a cause to be the solution for. Ultimately, however, we have the instigators of the AGW hypothesis to thank for this. They stated up front that they should be changing policy and some have been shown to favor hyping the negative and downplaying any positive or non-negative aspects in order to scare the public into taking action they want done. All in the name of them being experts and us being idiots of course.

      The AGW disasterbators are the greatest thereat to civil discussion and thorough research, and are their own worst enemy. And in so being, are among mankinds worst enemies.
      • I wish I had mod points to give you.

        You're absolutely correct that we're not going to get anywhere as long as everyone's running around screaming at the top of their lungs like chicken little.
      • by ccmay (116316) on Saturday March 17, 2007 @03:51PM (#18389003)
        They stated up front that they should be changing policy and some have been shown to favor hyping the negative and downplaying any positive or non-negative aspects in order to scare the public into taking action they want done.

        Like Canadian Environment Minister Christine Stewart (a nurse by training, if you can believe that):

        "No matter if the science is all phony, there are collateral environmental benefits. . . Climate change [provides] the greatest chance to bring about justice and equality in the world."

        As long as the public faces of the global warming scare are building vast energy-hogging mansions [sfgate.com], flying around the world in private jets [nytimes.com], and shooting down alternative-power proposals [cbsnews.com] that clash with their refined aesthetic sensibilities, I will assume they are all power-crazed liars and mountebanks of the ilk of Christine Stewart.

        We are being asked to overturn the very edifice of free-market capitalism, on the basis of wild speculation about the significance of mere statistical noise, teased out of scant and questionable data by grant-chasing academics, and shouted hysterically by power-mad left-wing politicians who won't abide by the same draconian regulations they advocate for the rest of us. No thanks. I'm going to keep living my life as I please.

        -ccm

        • by XanC (644172)
          Bravo, sir. My earlier post was but a feeble attempt at this one.
        • We are being asked to overturn the very edifice of free-market capitalism

          There is no free market or free trade capitalism.

          Falcon
    • The situation is further complicated by the fact that the system in question is very complex and rather chaotic. The doomsday predictions are well within the range of outcomes of credible models. For instance, the film The Day After Tomorrow [imdb.com], stripped of the over-dramatization, actually presents a real possibility which is a better explanation for the frozen mammoth (with buttercups in teeth and stomach) than the original papers on the subject (hypothesizing volcanic eruption and rapidly expanding CO2). Tha

      • by Wildclaw (15718)
        The problem with climate models is that you only hear about the ones that give extreme results. There is no news value (or grant value for that matter) in reporting models that don't give extreme results.

        Combine this with the fact that climate models take a long long time to verify (So long that the model will most likely have been forgotten) and you have a nice recipe for bad science. I personally believe that most climate model research would be better spent on weather model research.
  • by cyberbob2351 (1075435) on Saturday March 17, 2007 @02:45PM (#18388349) Homepage
    There would be no issue with the public's misconceptions had Kevin Costner exercised more restraint [wikipedia.org]
  • hollywood (Score:4, Funny)

    by mastershake_phd (1050150) on Saturday March 17, 2007 @02:45PM (#18388351) Homepage
    Is Hollywood to blame? Only the day after tomorrow will tell.
  • Crying Wolf? (Score:2, Insightful)

    Legitimacy comes with the understanding, apparently. Hollywood to blame? "Oh, Puhhhhleeaze" (in my best drama queen ala Callas' voice) If you're going to blame anything on anyone, blame it on ignorance; excuse it and move on with our lives. (...and learn how to be less *ignorant* in the future)
  • What? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    >>This is especially troubling during what some are calling the warmest US winter in years."

    Seeing as how this is the winter with the two coldest 3-week periods (in Anchorage, Alaska) in history - where are you getting the above statement? The US does include Alaska you know...
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by d34thm0nk3y (653414)
      The troubling issue really is the amount of records being set. Global climate change is going to have varying localized effects but will likely result in more extreme cycles due to more total energy in the system. So warmth records in some areas, cold records in others, floods in some, droughts others, etc. Basicall all anyone can say is that things will change, how is uncertain.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Cheapy (809643)
      No it doesn't. Stop spreading lies you shill.
  • by unity100 (970058) on Saturday March 17, 2007 @02:55PM (#18388475) Homepage Journal
    See now ;

    Haliburton & co supporting and paying Bush & co in the u.s. presidential races and then securing no bid contracts to iraqi oil fields.

    sony, warner & co creating RIAA and paying senators to further their terror regime and then getting juicy laws protecting their interests in return

    Is it too hard to understand that there are HORDES of scientists who are paid and maintained by big buck industry interests ?

    Is it too hard to understand that these scientists, who are in fact little more than laymen, do their payers' bidding and bark at people who are trying to fix some matters ?

    There are people in this world, who care for nothing but their short term profit, you know.

    The micro climate here, where i live, is too different from what it used to be 10 years ago.

    No need for statistics either - for 15 years the micro climate have followed an EXACT pattern here, almost TOO exact.

    However for the last 4 years, we are increasingly having erratic weather to the extremes that old people are much anxious about.

    this winter, there was NO winter. really. it was spring/autumn all along.with very rare rain.

    just the goings here, leave aside my relatives' my colleagues' my internet friends' experiences all over the globe are enough for me to deduce there IS something wrong with the climate all around, and there are greedy bastards spewing out fud in order to conceal it.

    From this point on, yes, i will look upon these fud spreaders with an evil eye - it is readily deductable that such people have hidden agendas.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by pavera (320634)
      "No need for statistics either"

      And this my friend is why I will always be a skeptic of all environmentalist causes. This is almost always the tact that environmentalists take. "We don't need proof, we don't need scientific evidence its obvious that change is happening and the EVIL MAN must be causing it".

      Environmentalism is much more like a religion than anything else. They constantly ask everyone to change their lives based on their "say so" that man is causing irreparable damage. They rarely if ever re
      • by unity100 (970058)
        Let me put it this way - if my microclimate changes to the extent that where i live becomes unlivable, i dont care what statistics say.

        Would you ?

        Would you actually be content if statistics told that climate around the world was normal in general, but where you live, your relatives, friends live would become unlivable ?

        Having no winter i dont object to. however if this can happen, different things can happen too. having no summer would be an annoyance.
        • by Wildclaw (15718)
          I hate that argument because it is constructed to play on the emotions of people. It has a flawed assumption that a local area goes from habitable to inhabitable in a day, a year or even a decade.

          Locally, "random" factors affect weather too a much larger degree than even a 100 year climate change. 100+ years should be enough time for your ascendants to relocate. People have relocated through all of mankind's history. Why does everyone suddenly expect that to change.

          There will of course always be people who
          • by unity100 (970058)
            i understand what you mean. actually im rationale-oriented. i dont like to cite arguments or make statements right out of the box, as im a good debater.

            i also understand that you cant make an informed decision on the validity of my argument since you dont know mediterranean, the parts herearound. we are used to 40 celsius extreme head in 99% humidity. but, this changing abruptly in the course of 2 years, it is not something anyone is used to.

            there are people who have forgot how long their ancestors li
      • by WiFiBro (784621)
        "And this my friend is why I will always be a skeptic of all environmentalist causes. This is almost always the tact that environmentalists take."

        I read your comment and I fear your skepticism is biased. This is based on the terms 'all', 'allways', 'more than anything else'. And the use of the word 'skeptic', probably means you've read Lomborgs never-changing half~empty~glass opinions.

        Actually when you study the literature on climate, you will find the other camp is acting the way you accuse the scientists
      • Even worse, statistics are abused for the purposes of making a point more dramatically. Here in Washington State, there is currently a controversy of statistics regarding snowpack levels. Syopsis: The numbers being bandied about are that Washington State's snowpack levels have decreased 50% over the past century.

        http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/20 03618979_warming15m.html [nwsource.com]

        This happens over and over again, but all too often, if the cause seems noble (such as anti-smoking advertising), people
  • HA (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Kryptonian Jor-El (970056) on Saturday March 17, 2007 @02:58PM (#18388499)
    Global Warming?? I live in Maryland and we just got the heaviest snowfall of the winter, midway thru MARCH.
  • In my case, yes. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by MarkPNeyer (729607)

    I've got a bachelor's in physics, and although that doesn't make me a climate scientist, i think it at least qualifies me to evaluate scientific arguments on the basis of merit. . I've never read any of these papers, because I don't have the time to make myself an expert on another field. I consider myself a climate change agnostic - I have no idea whether or not it's happening.

    When I hear "oh noes we are all going to die unless we stop global climate change," however, I am very skeptical. My mind puts s

    • I'm in the same boat with you there. It's largely the same groups touting global warming now, that touted global cooling back in the 70s. The science back then seems just as sketchy as it is now.
    • OK, you're coming from a background in the sciences, but without ramping up on this particular set of issues:

      Whom will you believe, the people who say they predict between 1.4 and 5.8 Celsius of further warming and give a 90% confidence it's human-caused, or the people who talk about being persecuted instead of showing you their fieldwork?

      Back on the main topic, there is a risk of a backlash. The IPCC report gives best estimates for sea level rise that are way below what Al Gore was talking about. If we get
    • by shma (863063)
      For someone who says they are qualified to evaluate the science, you seem to have an easy time forming an opinion off solely unscientific statements, most of which only appear in the media. Would you like to link to an actual paper which says "we are going to all die unless we stop global climate change", or anything remotely like that? Would you like to explain how you are skeptical of the earth getting warmer in the face of experimental data [wikipedia.org] that the earth is getting warmer?

      If you feel your credential
    • by tfoss (203340) on Saturday March 17, 2007 @05:15PM (#18389841)
      Therefore, Until I read a series of papers about global climate change, papers that publish all of their source data, algorithms used in simulations, justifications for the use of those algorithms, and statistical analysis by qualified statisticians, I will refrain from forming a solid opinion one way or the other. Of course, the chances of that happening are exactly zero, because I don't have time to spend doing something like that. So I'll remain skeptical.



      Shorter MarkPNeyer:
      I'm ignorant, aware of it, and too lazy to do anything about it, so I'll remain ignorant.

      -Ted

  • Politics (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gnu-sucks (561404) on Saturday March 17, 2007 @03:03PM (#18388541) Journal
    Just like cold fusion, the amount of uninformed people making extremist claims about this diffuses the issue. And the main people making these claims are politically-motivated. Either they are politicians themselves, or talk show hosts, news paper writers, etc.

    What we need is a good, honest look at climate trends. Because words like "global warming" and "el niño" are so overused, diffused, and politicized, we have to look at this purely as a scientific study about climate trends, and the study has to be carried out by multiple parties.
  • How was this the warmest winter? The December to February temperature was near average and February 2007 was in the bottom 2/3rds in temperature over the past 113 years.

    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/research/2007/ feb/feb07.html [noaa.gov]
  • by rwa2 (4391) * on Saturday March 17, 2007 @03:13PM (#18388641) Homepage Journal
    Don't mix up science with politics. Whether it is happening or not has been established by scientists. Whether it was anyone's fault (and more importantly, whether we're going to do anything about it) is a political issue.

    First of all, you can start by calling it "Climate Change" instead of "Global Warming". If we just focus our efforts on the slow increase of merely one factor of the complex global climate system -- average temperature -- we're not going to convince anyone that there's been a significant man-made difference. However, if we could start focusing on how the climate of individual regions has changed drastically, it becomes much simpler to see and establish causality on how man-made activity has beat back glaciers, leveled mountains, polluted ecosystems, etc.

    Anyway, now that we're playing politics, anything goes, including Hollywood sensationalizing. Just remember to draw clear lines between scientifically-proved fact and political slander ;P .

    It sucks that science is getting attacked by political groups lately. But in the end, this will hopefully be helpful for science. People will fund "scientific" studies such as "Industrial activity has No Correlation with Climate Change" and "Creationism Explains the Origin of Species" and science will be bolstered when the data disproves these null hypotheses, which is after all how scientific method works in the first place :>
  • Last year's winter was very warm too. So obviously your claims have no merit. jk
  • Since global warming is so politicized and proof as to the extent of human responsibility for it is so tenuous, why don't environmentalists go after things that everyone can agree is bad for the planet and 100% caused by humans? Water pollution, deforestation, acid rain, smog, reliance on fossil fuels... the list goes on and on. And as an awesome bonus, fixing some of these problems would also reduce our greenhouse gas footprint, thus killing two birds with one stone.

    Does anyone know why environmentalists
    • by XanC (644172)
      Because it can't be proven or disproven; because if the Earth really is in a natural warming trend it will keep happening no matter what; because no progress can be shown, they can continue to scream about us all dying soon.
  • by LMNTK (759645)
    Even if humans are not contributing to global warming in any way, the steps that can be taken to fight global warming would lead to less pollution and more efficient use of energy. How is this a bad thing?

    Even those who support fossil fuel derived energy and the like are not immune to the cancer it causes...
  • by NeverVotedBush (1041088) on Saturday March 17, 2007 @03:32PM (#18388839)
    Is the scientific basis for saying it should be happening.

    The simple fact is that carbon dioxide has an extremely strong infrared absorbance and will act like the glass panes of a greenhouse. Very effectively.

    It's about the same as knowing there is gravity so you can predict an apple will fall when released.

    Couple that with knowing humans are spewing billions of tons of it into the atmosphere - with rates of release increasing every day - and you have a very solid basis to say that the effects of global warming will get stronger. Period.

    You can argue all you want that the weather conditions people are seeing now are not global warming. And maybe they aren't. But global warming is happening and the trends will be for stronger effects.

    How strong those effects are and will be can be debated, but the fact that they are coming cannot.
    • by CAIMLAS (41445)
      The rate of carbon dioxide release is inconsequential. A single volcanic erruption releases more CO2 than humanity has since the beginning of the industrial revolution.

      If you believe so strongly in decreasing CO2 release, then just don't drive your car. Don't eat meat (and go crazy as a result). Don't exercise too much, because that involves breathing - and that produces CO2 as well. YOu should also only eat raw, unprocessed foods, because the burning of wood to create heat (to cook your foods) will only re
    • The simple fact is that you are entirely confused about the mechanism by which CO2 retains heat.

      CO2 reduces radiative heat rejection by absorbing radiation: It happens to absorb radiation in bands not otherwise covered by atmospheric gases.

      An actual greenhouse works by interrupting convection (i.e. wind). Instead of heat being carried away from your plants by bulk fluid processes, it remains in the air trapped inside. There is still some heat transfer by conduction through the glass, but that is *much* s
  • by BenSnyder (253224) on Saturday March 17, 2007 @03:43PM (#18388949) Homepage
    First of all, like everything else we like to bitch about here on Slashdot, it comes down to money. There's gold in them thar hills! What you're actually hearing is the gearing up of industry to support products that are "environmentally friendly". Not that there's anything wrong with that.

    The problem with this question and the increasing vocalization of man made climate change die hards is this:

    1. Regardless of the causation of climate change, there seems to be universal agreement that it is happening. To the degree that we don't want to be like the vast majority of critters that have ever been on this planet and become extinct, we should focus on ways of planning to adapt to the possible outcomes of climate change. Arguing over who is responsible, at some level, is simply counterproductive.

    2. Once man made global warming becomes politically attractive we will begin to spend lots of tax payer money to reduce our impact on the environment. This invariably will siphon away money from other places or prevent that money from being used for something that could do more good. I don't mean to sound cold or uncaring, or even worse, ignorant on the subject of climate change. What I am suggesting is that there are a limited amount of funds to be used for what amounts to public works projects. Will funding for reducing man's impact on the environment do more good than, say, AIDS prevention? Folks smarter than me with more letters after their name than I have suggest that it will not.

    Bottom line: There are more rational ways to go about this process of identifying problems and developing solutions but causes have always needed some flash and sizzle to sell to your average American. Right now, man made climate change is about as sexy an idea as you can think of that has many supporters in the scientific community. Think about it, you have natural disasters, money hungry multinational corporations, underdog scientists, Hurricane Katrina, talk of cute animals going extinct, Al Gore, dramatic film clips, the idea that the big corps are fucking it up for the common man, themes of Armageddon, etc. It actually sounds like it has elements of every thrill movie ever made. I mean, goddammit! That's a show!

    So can we sit down, be rational, and allow scientists to conduct their research without having to deal with the celebrity of what they're researching? 'Fraid not.

    If you feel I've said things that are provocative, watch the TED Talks lectures from the brilliant physicist David Deutsch [google.com] and the thought provoking economist Bjorn Lomborg [youtube.com] for more information.
  • by CAIMLAS (41445) on Saturday March 17, 2007 @03:48PM (#18388983) Homepage
    So what if we've just had the warmest winter in years? That means absolutely nothing on its own, particularly when you consider the fact thta it's an El Nino (El Nina? I forget wihch is wihch) year, and that the respective seasons are going to be less severe. Maybe some people remember how mild last summer was? I don't believe there was a single day last summer when I didn't feel comfortable to wear long sleeves.

    The reason global warming has no credibility is because of reactionaries, yes, but also because the arguments made have not been internally or scientificially consistent for 30 years. You cry wolf long enough bolstering your points with manipulated data, and nobody is going to believe a word you say. Whether it's 'global cooling' from 30 years ago, 'global warming' a year ago, or what they're calling 'global climate change' today (yeah, apparently calling it global warming or cooling doesn't work anymore, because nobody believes a word of it), it doesn't matter the slightest.

    It's inconsequential to most people, in no small part to the fact that we've passed a dozen 'population extinction' dates for not only Earth becoming a huge desert, ocean, or desert, but claims that the world's population is going to surpass what the planet can provide (claims which often go hand-in-hand with the global warming hysteria). Nevermind the readily observeable information that while not only Earth's climate is getting warmer, so is Mar's - due to the rotational temperature changes in the Sun. IE, there's not a fucking thing we can do about it, and worrying about it, let alone doing anything for it, is just reactionary fear mongering.

    "Global warming" is the Left's "imminent emergency" scenario which they utilize to the greatest political end economic manipulation as possible - just like the Right's "war on terror" is its "imminent emergency".
    • by hankwang (413283) * on Saturday March 17, 2007 @07:24PM (#18390669) Homepage

      Nevermind the readily observeable information that while not only Earth's climate is getting warmer, so is Mar's - due to the rotational temperature changes in the Sun.

      Realclimate: Global warming on Mars? [realclimate.org]. The Mars argument is already two years old and a connection between the factors affecting the Mars climate and those affecting Earth climate is not supported by scientific evidence.

    • by Xyrus (755017) on Sunday March 18, 2007 @12:55AM (#18392325) Journal
      "So what if we've just had the warmest winter in years? That means absolutely nothing on its own, particularly when you consider the fact thta it's an El Nino (El Nina? I forget wihch is wihch) year, and that the respective seasons are going to be less severe."

      On its own, no it doesn't mean anything. However, combined with other global observations over the last few decades and one might begin to see a pattern.

      BTW, it was a mild El Nino, which liklely saved many peoples asses this past year by preventing hurricane formations and blowing the ones that did form way across the ocean. The formation of an El Nino results in increased wind shear across the tropics which prevents storms from getting too organized.

      El Nino does not ensure milder weather. For certain regions in the north it usually results in milder winters. That being said, with this mild El Nino the northern US and northern Europe remained snow free abnormally long periods of time (even for an El Nino) and multiple records were set as far as temperature goes (NY city hit 74 in the middle January).

      "Maybe some people remember how mild last summer was? I don't believe there was a single day last summer when I didn't feel comfortable to wear long sleeves."

      Um...yeah maybe where you were. However, triple digit temperatures set records where I was and at least for a good portion of the Northeast US. It was HOT.

      "The reason global warming has no credibility is because of reactionaries, yes, but also because the arguments made have not been internally or scientificially consistent for 30 years. You cry wolf long enough bolstering your points with manipulated data, and nobody is going to believe a word you say. Whether it's 'global cooling' from 30 years ago, 'global warming' a year ago, or what they're calling 'global climate change' today (yeah, apparently calling it global warming or cooling doesn't work anymore, because nobody believes a word of it), it doesn't matter the slightest."

      Ehm...no. They're calling it global climate change because...well...it's global climate change. Some areas are going to warm up, others may cool off. Some areas will get drier, others will get soaked. The only thing that is relatively certain is that the global temperature average is going up.

      "It's inconsequential to most people, in no small part to the fact that we've passed a dozen 'population extinction' dates for not only Earth becoming a huge desert, ocean, or desert, but claims that the world's population is going to surpass what the planet can provide (claims which often go hand-in-hand with the global warming hysteria)."

      To my knowledge, they only "population extinction" dates I've ever read about are very gross estimations (planetary impact, sup-er-volcano eruption, etc.). The population support issue is actually something to be concerned with, as there is only a finite amount of resources on this planet.

      "Nevermind the readily observeable information that while not only Earth's climate is getting warmer, so is Mar's - due to the rotational temperature changes in the Sun. IE, there's not a fucking thing we can do about it, and worrying about it, let alone doing anything for it, is just reactionary fear mongering."

      I love have hypocrites like you will fight tooth and nail against the terabytes upon terabytes of data we have clearing showing climate change then turn around and use the paltry amount of climate data we're getting back from a couple of satellites around Mars to justify their position.

      The scientists are INFERRING that warming MIGHT be happening on Mars. The scientists are MEASURING the KNOWN warming on Earth. We have countless satellites and models all gathering data, measuring, probing just about every aspect of our planet we can. By comparison we know absolutely JACK SHIT abou how the martian climate operates. Comparing Earth's climate dynamics to those of Mars is like comparing a blue whale to a football.

      In the end, we may not be able to do anything to reverse it, ho
  • by Jerf (17166) on Saturday March 17, 2007 @03:53PM (#18389027) Journal

    Have we 'cried wolf' too many times with global warming?
    We've cried wolf too many times, period.

    We've lived under the constant spectre of doom and gloom for a long time. Everything is bad, bad for us, and going to cause the death of civilization as we know it. Even just enumerating the big bad ones would take me a while; I caught the tail end of nuclear doom, just in time for a segue into environmental doom. I remember the tail end of "Communism is going to crush us". I remember numerous predictions that basically had us all dead by now. I know we were supposed to run out of oil in the mid-90s. I remember when the Japanese were going to crush us with their mighty economy. I remember how our school system was going to doom us. (That story hasn't changed much in 20 years, really.) I remember how Reagan's policies were going to cause certain world war. We've been on the verge of major plague now for years and years, bird flu is merely the latest virus du jour. I remember just this last year stories about the interest rates going up and how that was bad and going to hurt the economy, followed a few short weeks later by stories about how the interest rates going down was bad and was going to hurt the economy. So help me, I've seen stories about the low unemployment rate being proof our economy was doomed!

    I remember more doom than I can even enumerate in a single paragraph.

    I also think it's important to point out the ever-increasing sophistication of marketing techniques, especially as they increasingly feed back into politics and these claims of doom. Regardless of the truth of global warming, many people are selling global warming doom. Why are they selling it? Because it's being bought. The news sells doom, because bad news brings more eyeballs. Doom, doom, doom everywhere.

    And only a vanishing fraction of what we're being sold, be it doom, consumer product claims, or politicians is true. After a while, we can't help but notice this, and I think the general public is becoming increasingly suspicious of this sort of selling, on all levels. What's so special about today's predictions of doom? Why should I trust that this shampoo will make me sexy? I think this skepticism is all of a kind.

    I don't know how this is going to turn out in the end, but at least for the topic at hand, I think you can expect a growing AGW backlash over the next few months. For some reason, in these past few months AGW-advocates turned up the volume to eleven and starting selling like never before, and I think they've seriously overplayed their hand by selling it too hard. Anybody who can survive economically in the US in this environment is becoming increasingly cynical about "selling" of all kinds.

    (I say the US specifically because we seem to be farthest along the advertising/selling curve; even my English acquaintances who have lived here tell me we seem to be deluged in ads by comparison to them. If you don't become cynical about people selling you things, you will go bankrupt in the US; even as we have become immensely more wealthy, the number of things available for purchase has gone up even faster. Who in 1960 could bankrupt themselves on buying DVDs? Even if you say "but they had albums", well, so do we, only even more so.)

    Of course, there will be two natural responses: The AGW advocates will try to make their presentations that much more slick, while the AGW-skeptics will become increasingly organized and therefore creating slick sales pitches too. Very few people have been seriously fighting AGW in a large-scale, organized way. (Not zero, but very few.) I expect that will change. It's going to be a warzone out there, with the biggest casualty being the truth.

    (All-in-all, I expect the AGW people who seem to have cranked the volume up would have been better off leaving well enough alone.)

    This is all independent of the truth or falseness of the AGW claims.

    Increasingly, the market for doom is just getting tapped out. There's only such much worry available, even if you stoke it, and there's just too damned many people trying to tap it.
  • Here's My Problem... (Score:4, Informative)

    by ConceptJunkie (24823) * on Saturday March 17, 2007 @04:08PM (#18389191) Homepage Journal
    My immediate response to any subject that is strongly promoted by entertainers, especially Hollywood types, is to immediately write it off as complete nonsense.

    This has nothing to do with the merits of the global warming debate, just that I'm sick to death of hearing the ignorant opinions of some uneducated, amoral nitwit just because he can act or sing.

    That's not to say that some actors don't know what they are talking about, and that some actors support worthy causes, many do. It's just that Global Warming [cue ominous music] has become a popular cause celebre among the typical Hollywood idiots, who never have anything meaningful to say beyond empty platitudes, that I'm getting really sick of hearing about it.

    Oh, and politicians are only marginally better. I'm surprised John Edwards, for instance, isn't promising that the polar caps will magically regenerate if he's elected the way he promised people like Christopher Reeves would (would!) be cured if he was elected.

    The problem with topics that are scientific in nature is that you don't hear enough from spokesmen who actually have half a clue what they are talking about. You only hear from politicians, most of whom are ass-ignorant of anything other than politics and have made the topic totally political, celebrities, who are ass-ignorant about everything, or the mass media, who are ass-ignorant of everything but sensationalism, and pushing their own political agenda.

  • by rdean400 (322321) on Saturday March 17, 2007 @04:23PM (#18389341)
    The fact of the matter is that those that support the notion that global warming is predominantly caused by human activities are so self-righteous about the fact that one has to question the objectivity of their research. If the outcome looks like an assumption, then it looks more like the pushing of an agenda. Moreover, news that these researches are trying to stifle dissent (by removing funding for research projects) doesn't give their arguments any more credibility.
  • Pebble Bed Fission Reactors [wikipedia.org] are clearly the solution to the unseemly problem of Planet Overheating. Of course that is in addition to the act of making combustion punishable by death. Those found guilty of any form of burning will be summarily shot, electrocuted, hanged, or just buried alive with extreme prejudice by World Consortium Police. Burning at the stake will be forbidden except in the case of heretics such as members of the secret society: For a Warmer Planet. Resistance will be futile.
  • Example of hot air: (Score:3, Informative)

    by SetupWeasel (54062) on Saturday March 17, 2007 @04:32PM (#18389429) Homepage
    This is especially troubling during what some are calling the warmest US winter in years.

    This is EXACTLY what hurts any real discussion. A warm year or an active tropical season and everyone runs around like the end is nigh. People need to get a fucking grip.

    If this is a problem let's solve it. I don't know how we can, because we can't stop burning shit, but let's try to minimize what we think is causing it. If we are wrong, or if we can't ultimately stop burning enough, let's prepare for climate change as well. This is what sane people do.

    No one is playing fair, and there is far more rhetoric than threat.
  • The Earth is getting warmer, and at a greater rate than ever previously occurred. Rising levels of carbon dioxide (and some other greenhouse gases), as a result of our species industrial activities (ie. the mass combustion of fossil fuels) are at least partly responsible. Even if *another* effect was responsible for a significant part of the warming (say variations in the sun's output) and this effect was beyond our control, we'd still need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and by an even greater amount
  • Speaking of Hot Air (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sycodon (149926) on Saturday March 17, 2007 @07:02PM (#18390477)
    The U.S. had a normal winter.

    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/research/2007/ feb/feb07.html [noaa.gov]

    This is the kind of loose cannon crap that they are talking about.

    "Before this century is over, billions of us will die and the few breeding pairs of people that survive will be in the Arctic," predicted James Lovelock, a renowned environmental scientist.

    That is the kind of overblown, the world is ending crap they are talking about.

Vitamin C deficiency is apauling.

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