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Earth Science

International Climate Panel Cites Near Certainty On Warming 510

Posted by Soulskill
from the bringing-the-heat dept.
mdsolar writes "An international panel of scientists has found with near certainty that human activity is the cause of most of the temperature increases of recent decades, and warns that sea levels could conceivably rise by more than three feet by the end of the century if emissions continue at a runaway pace. The scientists, whose findings are reported in a draft summary of the next big United Nations climate report, largely dismiss a recent slowdown in the pace of warming, which is often cited by climate change doubters, attributing it most likely to short-term factors. The report emphasizes that the basic facts about future climate change are more established than ever, justifying the rise in global concern. It also reiterates that the consequences of escalating emissions are likely to be profound." This comes alongside news of research into one of those short-term factors: higher than average rainfall over Australia. "Three atmospheric patterns came together above the Indian and Pacific Oceans in 2010 and 2011. When they did, they drove so much precipitation over Australia that the world's ocean levels dropped measurably." According to Phys.org, "A rare combination of two other semi-cyclic climate modes came together to drive such large amounts of rain over Australia that the continent, on average, received almost one foot (300 millimeters) of rain more than average. ... Since 2011, when the atmospheric patterns shifted out of their unusual combination, sea levels have been rising at a faster pace of about 10 millimeters (0.4 inches) per year."
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International Climate Panel Cites Near Certainty On Warming

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  • Money and age (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Thanshin (1188877) on Wednesday August 21, 2013 @07:18AM (#44629067)

    sea levels could conceivably rise by more than three feet by the end of the century

    - Only governments have the power to change this.
    - If someone is rich enough to have any influence on governments, he probably won't be alive by the end of the century.
    - If someone is rich enough to have any influence on governments, he is rich enough to move his beach mansion three feet higher.
    - If someone is rich enough to have any influence on governments, he probably doesn't give a fuck about what happens to those who aren't.

    • Re:Money and age (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rasmusbr (2186518) on Wednesday August 21, 2013 @07:33AM (#44629201)

      The good news is that governments don't have to do a lot. Increase taxes on fossil fuel, lower taxes on income, fund basic research and other promising but currently unprofitable research into energy saving and energy production and distribution.

      The details are going to be a bit tricky, but not prohibitively so if all political parties agree that it needs to be done. That 'if' is admittedly a rather significant one, but it may help to talk more about the carrot part of the deal, i.e. the lower income taxes.

      • Re:Money and age (Score:5, Insightful)

        by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Wednesday August 21, 2013 @07:46AM (#44629331)

        The 'increase taxes on fossil fuel' part is a deal-breaker in the US. Even with the current very low petrol tax, the national pasttimes include grumbling about the cost to fill up. People there aren't going to be at all happy about losing their cheap gas - the car is more than a means of transport, it's a symbol of individual freedom and independence.

        • by aitikin (909209)
          This. Above all else, in the US, if gas (petrol) were taxed even .01% higher, 2/3s of the people I know would bitch about it. Frankly, it'd make sense to me to have them tax it and put said tax to use funding green energy initiatives, but I don't foresee Congress being able to do that.
        • Re:Money and age (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 21, 2013 @08:17AM (#44629701)

          The tax isn't just low, the petrol is subsidized. (With about $4 billion annually.)

          You just need to convince people that subsidizing is a sign of communism and let them weigh their fear of communism against their symbol of freedom and independence.

          • I'm convinced that there is a conspiracy in place, in which the parties agree on which issues are not permitted for public mention. Not a smoke-filled room conspiracy like you'd expert of a foil-hatter, but just an informal agreement among all those involved, and an unspoken agreement not to promote anyone who breaks the taboo. It'd just upset too many people.

            It'd explain why no politician in the US ever even mentions publically the subsidies on oil or corn production. Not even to support them - they are ju

        • Re:Money and age (Score:5, Insightful)

          by malakai (136531) on Wednesday August 21, 2013 @08:19AM (#44629729) Journal

          Let's also not forget we have 50 contiguous US states, many of which are the size of the whole of UK ( Louisiana is probably closet ). Our 'symbol' of individual freedom is often times the means by which we visit family, go on vacation, and for some unlucky people commute for over an hour in to get into work. Then there's the people who work on the road, as well as the haulers.

          I'm really glad some of you EU nations have managed to put up a full service light rail system connecting all your major cities, in an area about as large as the five boroughs of NYC.

          Our lack of "petrol" tax has more to do with keeping our economy strong then remaining 'independent'.

          • There are quite a few countries in the EU bigger than the UK. Quite a few of those countries have managed to create decent public transport systems, something that the UK has been destroying for the past 5 decades.

          • Re:Money and age (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Sockatume (732728) on Wednesday August 21, 2013 @08:42AM (#44630031)

            National travel is not the issue*. Almost all gasoline vehicle use in the United States is local, and that really needs to be cut back. You shouldn't have to drive (as I did) five minutes to the supermarket, and ten minutes to work, because you're in spitting distance but walled off by major roads.

            *Anyone who thinks you can have transport in a nation the size of the US without air and long-distance road is fooling themselves.

            • Re:Money and age (Score:4, Interesting)

              by Cimexus (1355033) on Wednesday August 21, 2013 @12:00PM (#44632833)

              This. Coming from Australia, a country similarly sized to the US and also lacking high speed rail (and thus essentially dependent on the car and air travel), there are a lot of short trips that I am forced to make in my car here (in the US) that I could have walked in Australia. This is because many (not all, but most) US cities are terribly designed. It's not suburban sprawl that's the issue (Australia has just as much of that as teh US), but rather that there's no sidewalks, random uncrossable highways (walls, no pedestrian underpasses/overpasses), isolated far-flung strip malls and malls far from residential neighborhoods (instead of the little local shopping centres like you have in Australia).

              I work from home and thus don't need to commute. I live in a similarly sized city than I did in Australia (400,000 vs 360,000). But nonetheless I am noticing I'm putting approximately twice the miles on my car per year than I did at home, despite living a similar lifestyle. I used to be able to walk 10 minutes and get to my local shops, which had a supermarket, butcher, baker, post office, newsagent and a few cafes and restaurants. Now I have to drive ten minutes to get to that stuff. And I'd still have to drive even if I lived closer, because it's a giant mall surrounded by 2 square miles of concrete parking lot, right off a major highway with no way of crossing.

              In both countries, long distance travel relies, and will continue to rely on air and the car (though Australia is seriously considering an east-coast high speed rail line - the 600 mile long Sydney-Melbourne corridor is the fourth busiest air route in the world so it'd probably work). But car use could be reduced locally in the US with some urban planning changes (and incentives to get people to change their habits ... which may or may not include raising the price of fuel, which is very low by developed-world standards anyway).

          • EU nations have managed to put up a full service light rail system connecting all your major cities, in an area about as large as the five boroughs of NYC.

            The area of NYC is somewhere between 650 sq.km and 950 sq.km, depending on how [hypertextbook.com] you measure [wikipedia.org]. There are 44 European countries larger than 1000 sq.km [wikipedia.org] - NYC is only larger than Andorra, Malta, Liechtenstein, San Marino, Monaco and Vatican City. Even the 44th largest on the list, Luxembourg, is more than two and a half times bigger than NYC.

          • I'm really glad some of you EU nations have managed to put up a full service light rail system connecting all your major cities

            Light rail isn't used to connect cities. Light rail operates within cities, and out to the suberbs. Inter-city is proper railway(railroad).

            And the longer the distance, the better rail competes with road. So don't think there's a distance argument for it being rare in the USA.

            For sure the longer the distance, also the more air competes with them both. But that's still a fraction of passenger miles, and less still of freight.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Tokolosh (1256448)

        Increase taxes on fossil fuel, lower taxes on income, fund basic research and other promising but currently unprofitable research into energy saving and energy production and distribution.

        You have unilaterally decided what needs to be done, and want to argue about how it should be done.

        Methinks you should first, scientifically, prove that the actions you so blithely assume as a given, have the best outcome.

        And before you do that, get unanimous consensus on what "best outcome" means.

        Return when you have finished this task I have set you.

        • by rasmusbr (2186518)

          Well, there are other ways.

          You could cap and trade. You could ration fossil fuels war-time style. You could plain outlaw them. Finally, you could decide to don't fix the problem and let people, businesses and local governments adapt to the changing climate.

          None of these options seem feasible and/or nice if you ask me.

        • Re:Money and age (Score:5, Interesting)

          by i kan reed (749298) on Wednesday August 21, 2013 @08:20AM (#44629733) Homepage Journal

          This is a threshold of evidence required of exactly 0 other taxes and government activities, and in the face of pretty substantial economic and scientific research saying exactly that. I think that it's fair to reject your special pleading.

      • by Kvan (30429)
        They have to do a lot more - there is no way to avoid reduced quality of life in a large part of the world (especially the West) if we want to make a significant dent in AGW before it's too late, especially if birth rates aren't brought down. We're talking fewer imports, less meat, fewer electronics, fewer plane trips. Plus we would need countries like India and China to stop lifting so many people out of poverty and into modern consumption - a matter in which the West has a hard time bringing any moral arg
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Tokolosh (1256448)

          T...we want to make a significant dent in AGW before it's too late.

          Where is your scientific and economic proof that this is the appropriate response?

      • Heck, if they'd just switch the subsidies from oil/gas to renewables, and still expect the same kickbacks, they'd help themselves and the rest of us.

        But that seems too logical.

    • sea levels could conceivably rise by more than three feet by the end of the century

      - Only governments have the power to change this.
      - If someone is rich enough to have any influence on governments, he probably won't be alive by the end of the century.
      - If someone is rich enough to have any influence on governments, he is rich enough to move his beach mansion three feet higher.
      - If someone is rich enough to have any influence on governments, he probably doesn't give a fuck about what happens to those who aren't.

      Why would a rich person not care about his grandchildren?
      Any 1000 average people are richer than one rich person. If they act as a group, they are just as influential.

      • Why would a rich person not care about his grandchildren? Any 1000 average people are richer than one rich person. If they act as a group, they are just as influential.

        Who says they wouldn't care about their grand children? They're rich enough to look after their own and give the rest of us the fuck off. Good luck getting the 1000 average people to agree to a consensus.

      • by invid (163714)
        There you go. It is far easier for one person to "act as a group" than 1000 people. It is also far easier for 1000 fanatical religious people to act as a group than 1000 secular people. That's why we have policies that favor the rich, and why the fanatically religious have a skewed amount of influence. The problems of our age can be answered by the relative difficulties of coordinating wealth and power by different groups.
      • by crashcy (2839507)

        Any 1000 average people are richer than one rich person. If they act as a group, they are just as influential.

        That is incorrect. Discretionary income is what matters here. If the 1000 average people make just enough to cover their basic necessities, and assuming the 1 rich person has the same basic necessities, than he has a near infinite greater discretionary income, which is the source of influence in this argument.

    • Only individuals have the power to do anything.

      Regardless of the purported effect on climate, we, as individuals, should be using all our resources as efficiently as possible.

      Do you hate fossil fuels? Then why do you own an SUV, walk so little, and consume plastic in such abundance?
      Do you hate coal-fired power plants/nuclear plants? Then why do you have so many electronic devices, an airconditioner permanently on, and a swimming pool in your backyard?
      Do you hate the cutting of forests? Then why do you ph

      • by Sockatume (732728)

        Have you tried to walk in a US city lately? Even use public transport in one? The barrier to reducing vehicle use for the individual is enormous, so nobody can do it. Yet if everyone did it, it would suddenly become trivial.

        Sometimes collective action is the only way to get over a hump.

    • Only governments have the power to change this

      Patently false. There are other possibilities. Ultimately, through one mechanism or the other people will change their behavior, or not. And then attempt to deal with the consequences.

    • by Joce640k (829181)

      - Only governments have the power to change this.
      - If someone is rich enough to have any influence on governments, he probably won't be alive by the end of the century.
      - If someone is rich enough to have any influence on governments, he is rich enough to move his beach mansion three feet higher.
      - If someone is rich enough to have any influence on governments, he probably doesn't give a fuck about what happens to those who aren't.

      Worse, they're funding campaigns to undermine belief in climate change:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climate_change_denial [wikipedia.org]

      (Taking action will be bad for oil barons, etc.)

  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Wednesday August 21, 2013 @07:29AM (#44629165) Homepage

    Those organizations with the power to do something are steadfastly pretending the problem doesn't exist.

    On the upside, the Great Lakes region where I live is likely to become prime real estate, because it will be (A) not underwater, (B) well-supplied with fresh water, (C) relatively safe from hurricanes, (D) not on fire, (E) not a prime tornado target, and (F) less cold.

    • by Kvan (30429) <slashdot@kvans.dk> on Wednesday August 21, 2013 @07:41AM (#44629271)
      What I've never understood about all the climate "debate" is this: how can anyone look at the state of international politics, then at a giant problem that requires cooperation and sacrifice from every single nation to solve it, and conclude anything other than "this is fucked, best start mitigation strategies ASAP"?

      It just boggles my mind that anyone could be so naive as to think emissions can be curbed significantly, in a relevant time frame, by multilateral international agreement. This to the extent that they will even spend decades trying to convince the doubters that "no, it really is anthropogenic" - as if the problem is people just don't believe enough.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by intermodal (534361)

        Actually, for me, it's just an issue of "I don't care". Let the oceans rise three feet. Couldn't bother me less. What does bother me is the huge amount of government (at whatever level) that it would take to actually implement the "mitigation strategies" you present.

        • by riverat1 (1048260)

          If you're worried about too much government then you should be wanting to do as much as you can to slow down or stop AGW. Once the effects of global warming become manifestly obvious so "the people" start demanding action in sufficient numbers to make the politicians worried the government involvement is going to skyrocket.

      • What I've never understood about all the climate "debate" is this: how can anyone look at the state of international politics, then at a giant problem that requires cooperation and sacrifice from every single nation to solve it, and conclude anything other than "this is fucked, best start mitigation strategies ASAP"?

        Yes, we're screwed (and my children / grandchildren are screwed). I'm not sure what to do about it. I'm convinced that there are corporations / government cronies that will prevent us from solving the problem for all humanity. (Yes, I'm doing what I can to support causes opposed to them, but my guess is that they will lose and we'll continue to cause climate change). So, what to do to protect myself (and descendents)?

        I've considered buying land in Canada. Prince Edward Island is supposed to be nice.

      • by dkleinsc (563838)

        An analogy:

        A train heading towards a bridge over a chasm, but the bridge is actually out. 15 km away, you find out about the problem and starts telling the train staff "Hey, you really ought to hit the brakes now!", but the staff say "We can't do that, we'd be late to the next station!" Now, you may start making plans to somehow get off before things get worse, but you're still going to do your best to convince the engineer to stop as quickly as possible. And of course there will be some folks on the train

    • not a prime tornado target

      Until Sharknado hits New York and magically travels 800 miles inland.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <mojo@NOspAm.world3.net> on Wednesday August 21, 2013 @12:18PM (#44633055) Homepage

      Correction: The US is refusing to do something about it. Europe has made a lot of progress.

      Since someone will inevitably bring it up, China is not an excuse. Clean your shit up.

  • by Tokolosh (1256448) on Wednesday August 21, 2013 @07:36AM (#44629221)

    I wish that a similar amount of scientific effort would go into deciding what (if anything) to do about it.

    Instead there is a rush to reduce greenhouse gases, without any scientific or economic analysis to ascertain whether this is the optimal response.

    • by Sockatume (732728)

      Unfortunately when anyone even proposes research into another response - geo-engineering, perhaps - it's branded apocalyptic climate alarmism and shouted down. As long as there's a well-funded lobby arguing that the problem doesn't exist, it's going to be an uphill battle to even test alternatives, much less actually apply them.

      • You might want to read this [newyorker.com] article on it. Good quote: "There is only one reason to consider deploying a scheme with even a tiny chance of causing such a catastrophe: if the risks of not deploying it were clearly higher. "

        We are still learning about the climate; we know enough, probably enough to say that pumping CO2 into the air is not a good idea and is likely the cause of climate change, but not enough to consider all the options and determing a geoengineering fix yet. But, people _are_ working on

        • by Sockatume (732728)

          For what it's worth, I think geoengineering is a terrible way to solve the problem right now - like you point out, it has a low probability of a very, very bad outcome - but it's hard to engage in any discussion of, say, social solutions, when even the idea of billing someone for their CO2 output is considered utterly unacceptable.

        • by Tokolosh (1256448)

          "There is only one reason to consider deploying a scheme with even a tiny chance of causing such a catastrophe: if the risks of not deploying it were clearly higher. "

          Why does this caution not apply to policies and regulations aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions?

  • by Kodack (795456) on Wednesday August 21, 2013 @08:51AM (#44630139)

    The earth is a cold place. snow and ice are relatively new things in earths history and on geologic time scales they just started ocurring. The earth has historically had higher levels of CO2, and far warmer temperatures, Did this cause any problems? No it did not.

    There were more species, greater plant growth, and more bio diversity than at any other time in earths history. Sea levels were higher but there were no ice caps and far from being a climate disaster, the warmer, higher CO2 earth could support MORE life.

    Contrast that with the global cooling that's occurred in the last 20 million years and it's plain to see that having entire continents like Antarctica frozen solid and under miles of ice is not a normal or healthy state for our planet.

    The irony is that so called 'green' movements actually seek to keep the global thermostat set on deep freeze, which HURTS plants, limits bio diversity, and we all suffer cold winters, countless deaths caused by incliment winter weather and millions of dollars of damage every year during winter months. Entire continents of our planet are uninhabitable frozen wastelands, and the most fertile soil in the northern and southern hemispheres goes to waste under months of permafrost every year.

    There is nothing "green" about climate alarmists. They want to keep the earth cold when the greatest benefit to actual plant and animal life is to let it warm back up.

  • by Golden_Rider (137548) * on Wednesday August 21, 2013 @08:52AM (#44630149)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AE6Kdo1AQmY [youtube.com]

    A video worth thinking about.

  • There's no such thing as absolute certainty in science.

  • by brian0918 (638904) <brian0918NO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday August 21, 2013 @09:21AM (#44630523)
    Our CO2 emissions have increased significantly these last couple decades, yet warming has been flat for 15+ years. What is the explanation? How can claim to be so certain of this causal link yet have no explanation for the last 15+ years?

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