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Earth Stats

Study Rules Out Global Warming Being a Natural Fluctuation With 99% Certainty 869

Posted by Soulskill
from the let's-blame-the-dinosaurs dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A study out of McGill University sought to examine historical temperature data going back 500 years in order to determine the likelihood that global warming was caused by natural fluctuations in the earth's climate. The study concluded there was less than a 1% chance the warming could be attributed to simple fluctuations. 'The climate reconstructions take into account a variety of gauges found in nature, such as tree rings, ice cores, and lake sediments. And the fluctuation-analysis techniques make it possible to understand the temperature variations over wide ranges of time scales. For the industrial era, Lovejoy's analysis uses carbon-dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels as a proxy for all man-made climate influences – a simplification justified by the tight relationship between global economic activity and the emission of greenhouse gases and particulate pollution, he says. ... His study [also] predicts, with 95% confidence, that a doubling of carbon-dioxide levels in the atmosphere would cause the climate to warm by between 2.5 and 4.2 degrees Celsius. That range is more precise than – but in line with — the IPCC's prediction that temperatures would rise by 1.5 to 4.5 degrees Celsius if CO2 concentrations double.'"
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Study Rules Out Global Warming Being a Natural Fluctuation With 99% Certainty

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  • by rubycodez (864176) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @11:42AM (#46733597)

    we cannot ascertain the temperatures of past centuries with enough precision to make any such study nor claims

  • by Eunuchswear (210685) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @11:47AM (#46733633) Journal

    Splendid. Where have you published this remarkable result?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 12, 2014 @11:49AM (#46733649)

    Not only that, 500 years? Are they thinking the world started 7000 years ago and so 500 years to now represents a significant chunk of time to have merit?

  • by rubycodez (864176) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @11:49AM (#46733653)

    You have it backwards, please point me to the authoritative record of temperatures to within say a quarter of a degree C for the last 500 years.

  • by petes_PoV (912422) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @11:50AM (#46733663)

    So what do we have to give up to have a zero change in the global temperature

    Only one thing: having so many offspring.

    The problem isn't that we have an excessive lifestyle. The problem is that there are TOO MANY of us having an excessive lifestyle. Get the population down to a billion or so and we can all have diesels, coal-fired power stations and as much beef as we could ever desire.

    It's just that all 7 billion of us can't all do that at once.

  • Deniers (Score:3, Insightful)

    by whisper_jeff (680366) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @11:52AM (#46733679)

    And yet the climate change deniers will CLING to that 1% and continue to stick their ignorant heads in the sand and pretend that we aren't messing up our climate.

  • by VortexCortex (1117377) <VortexCortex.project-retrograde@com> on Saturday April 12, 2014 @11:52AM (#46733689)

    I suppose you can't ascertain whether the universe was created 5 seconds ago either. Fortunately the laws of physics, chemistry, thermodynamics, biology, etc. allow science to make Predictions not only about the future outcome of an event, but also about the probability of circumstances which caused observable outcomes.

    If you leave your sandwich near me and come back to find a bite taken out of it, would you accept the argument, "You cannot ascertain the intake of past consumption with enough precision to absolutely blame me for eating your sandwich", or would you say I'm full of shit?

    You're full of shit.

  • WRONG WRONG WRONG (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rolfwind (528248) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @11:56AM (#46733711)

    The confidence levels in the data are 99%, not in the conclusion.

    PS - I believe in man driven global warming, I just hate sensationalized headlines.

  • by purpledinoz (573045) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @12:03PM (#46733737)
    I don't get it, after reading the comments here, why is there so much resistance accept that man is causing climate change? Just thinking logically, it makes sense. We're taking carbon that's been buried for millions of years, and then burning it, on a huge scale. How can this not affect the climate? I actually hope that the climate skeptics are right.
  • by American Patent Guy (653432) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @12:17PM (#46733823) Homepage

    People who actually work in the field and spend decades of their life in this dedicated study have a vested interest in reaching a positive conclusion. If they found that there was no man-made global warming, they'd be out of jobs.

    A baker will always claim his bread is the best.

  • by Stumbles (602007) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @12:17PM (#46733825)
    Because they are talking out their ass and ignoring or minimizing anything that does not support their "theory".
  • by popo (107611) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @12:19PM (#46733837) Homepage

    The poster you are referring to made a legitimate argument. Your strategy was a silly ad hominem.

    I don't know what the right answer is, but between your two comments I can easily say who the winner is.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 12, 2014 @12:19PM (#46733839)

    It's become a political litmus test. Just look at the names attributed to anyone who doesn't agree with you: denier, alarmist.

    There's no room for real science.

  • by popo (107611) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @12:22PM (#46733865) Homepage

    But who is dismissing what? There has never in the history of the world been climate-stability. The causality of *all* prior changes appears to have been dismissed.

  • by kruach aum (1934852) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @12:24PM (#46733883)

    Because the debate has been politized by people with money on the line. They have a vested interest in claiming that global warming is not caused by humans, which is, as you point out, patently retarded. But there is another problem in addition to that: because the debate has been so politicized, sometimes the science gets sucked into the shit-slinging as well, and when that happens it leads to bad science, which is a legitimate concern. The problem with bad science is that it can be attacked by legitimate scientists, which the Oil Barons can then use to say "look! look! the science isn't settled! We're right!" even though the science very clearly is settled and they're not right at all.

    Basically the global warming 'debate' is such a clusterfuck because the pro-oil lobby can spin it any way they want because the public in general doesn't understand how the scientific process works. That's what leads to situations where there are 10,000 studies claiming anthropogenic global warming is real for every 2 studies that claim it isn't on the one hand, and the public at large thinking the debate isn't settled on the other.

  • by blahplusplus (757119) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @12:25PM (#46733897)

    "There's no room for real science."

    Ummm the real science has been done and it's overwhelmingly in the favor of climate change. The idea that "two sides" are equal is bullshit, the same way you wouldn't treat a creationist who believed the earth and life was 6000 years old on an equal level with evolution of life on earth.

    The idea that "both sides" deserve consideration is just fucking nonsense.

  • by BasilBrush (643681) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @12:26PM (#46733903)

    People who actually work in the field and spend decades of their life in this dedicated study have a vested interest in reaching a positive conclusion. If they found that there was no man-made global warming, they'd be out of jobs.

    And yet SETI aren't reporting any alien contacts.

    You're full of shit. There is MORE money available for any scientist that publishes papers that say there is no global warming. Oil companies are rich, and there are few qualified scientists willing to take their preferred side of the argument. And the reason they aren't taking this easy money? Because the science to say global warming isn't happening isn't there. It's easy to write blogs or newspaper articles denying it. It's impossible to write proper scientific papers that do so.

    A baker will always claim his bread is the best.

    And yet no bakers say yeast doesn't make CO2 to make the bread rise.

  • by BasilBrush (643681) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @12:30PM (#46733951)

    The poster you are referring to made a legitimate argument.

    He's not made any argument at all. He's simply repeated his opinion, contrary to the scientists paper, with nothing to back it up.

    It's classic denial, no more.

  • by kruach aum (1934852) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @12:44PM (#46734053)

    Equating science with faith is the new Godwin.

  • by swb (14022) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @12:47PM (#46734073)

    This. It's less about the existence of global warming than the use of the existence of global warming as a cudgel for all manner of environmental regulations. That's what's controversial.

  • by Eunuchswear (210685) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @12:48PM (#46734083) Journal

    Hopefully in a journal that is reviewed by skeptics rather than Ideologues.

    All scientific journals are reviewed by skeptics.

    That's because all scientists are skeptics.

    Wacky global warming deniers are not skeptics, they are credulous fools.

    Skeptics look at the evidence before making their minds up, and change their minds if new evidence comes to light.

    Deniers deny. Disprove one nutty theory and the continue denying with another, often incompatible nutty theory. This sometimes goes around in circles 'till they come back to the first, already disproven, theory.

  • by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @12:53PM (#46734129)

    Personally I reckon that human activity probably does play a reasonably large part in accelerating climate change that was happening anyway (although 99% sets off my bullshit meter given that we're in an interglacial period)

    It doesn't say that 99+% of the warming is anthropogenic, it says that there's 99+% certainty that the warming is less than X percent natural or something like that (with X being...what? 100%? 95%?).

  • by fortfive (1582005) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @12:55PM (#46734139)

    Isn't this the Bill Nye v. Creation Guy debate?

    Bill Nye made the point repeatedly that no, of course we can not observe directly with our biological sensing apparatuses the world of 1000 years ago, but we can create a fairly educated surmise of the reality based on what we observe today, combining bench studies with field observations, etc. Ken Ham's argument, repeatedly, was "We weren't there, so we can't know to any useful degree (degree, get it?) what it was like."

    Science may be wrong about the anthropogenic nature of global warming, but science is quite clear and confident in its conclusion. Given Science's track record so far, I'm going to bet on it.

  • by dietdew7 (1171613) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @01:06PM (#46734225)
    If you can afford a Tesla, I'm not surprised you didn't notice the increase in your bill. Don't forget to thank the rest of us for the tax subsidy on your Tesla.
  • by naasking (94116) <naasking&gmail,com> on Saturday April 12, 2014 @01:16PM (#46734295) Homepage

    How does a 500 year data set apply to a 4.5 billion year old planet?

    Anthropogenic warming isn't dangerous to the planet, it's dangerous to us. The timeline of the planet is irrelevant.

    Think about it. Could you predict the sentiments of every human on the planet (over 4 billion) by asking the last 500 people born?

    Yes, for an analogous meaning of "predict" as applies to the AGW scenario, ie. not predict precise emotions and behaviour at any given instant, but predict general trends with a certain probability distribution. What do you think psychology is all about? They conduct surveys and studies of small a percentage of the population to find correlations and establish general trends about humanity, like what makes people happy, angry, sad, how they respond to trauma, etc.

  • by TomGreenhaw (929233) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @01:17PM (#46734299)
    We sacrificed other things so we could buy what was for us a swing for the fences dream car. Thank you everyone for the tax subsidy. And you are welcome for our support of the Tesla strategy to get the cost of electric cars low enough so that gas cars don't make sense.
  • by serviscope_minor (664417) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @01:28PM (#46734397) Journal

    How dare you let facts get in the way of left-wing "science.

    There is no such thing as "left wing science", only science.

    Your belief that science and politics are somehow the same thing amkes my thing you're probably a loopy wingnut who doen't let facts get in the way of a good political position.

  • by blahplusplus (757119) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @01:38PM (#46734479)

    "Your post is self-defeating. First you claim no one is an authority on what he or she knows, then you claim to know something "

    No it isn't self defeating, there are people who CAN reason through natural unconscious superiority, not that they are able to take credit for that. Because smart people are unable to justify why it is they know what they know because it simply takes too much time. i.e. our brains simply do not work like we think they do. Consider if I asked you how much a given representation of really boring bits of your everyday visual field cost in biological terms (how much does it cost to perceive a door, a car, etc). You would have no fucking answer, yet you are able to do it. So we are capable of knowing things and not being able to explain why we know them. The hard part is trying to explain to OTHER PEOPLE not because they are stupid but because they are unaware that they are flawed (aka it's a time vs resources vs what is that animals modus operandi problem). Human beings are locked in their brain circuitry, you search whats in your memory to make a judgement, the problem is you can't see the contents of your own memory. Most of the information you're using to make judgments is not available to your conscious awareness.

    I'm interested in truth for no political reason, I just want to know how the universe works, but for others they see it as an attack on their religion, politics, etc.

    The problem is to find truth you have to take the attitude to rip it apart all the time (how can this be wrong? etc?). The problem is you wouldn't be able to know if you were in a position to do this unless you already possessed that unconscious superiority. Now this doesn't mean it's impossible for you to learn, it just means you'd have to spend an inordinate amount of time with a fine tooth comb going over what it is you know to find the contradictions.

    Most of this is really just a lack of time in one's life to ferret out one's own hidden false premises that are just beyond the edge of your conscious awareness.

    And I know you've never done it, to really find what is true requires unreal dedication few people have and you have to do it not in an argumentative environment or mode of operation because you want to not deceive yourself. When you're trying to "win" you're not trying to understand. The natural world is an unfolding process and that is the approach you have to take.

  • by dunkelfalke (91624) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @01:48PM (#46734535)

    Well, just imagine how strained the economy will be when the results of global warming hit.
    Your answer reminds me of that guy who was caught trying to smuggle some radioactive isotope in his pants.

  • by unimacs (597299) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @01:54PM (#46734591)
    People have made up their minds unfortunately. Changes in climate can easily be brushed off as natural variation. A few days of locally cold weather is enough to re-enforce a denier's belief that global warming is a farce.

    Over time the consequences will become increasingly hard to ignore and people will suffer. As is typical, the poor will suffer the worse. Ironically, many otherwise conservative organizations such as insurance companies will be willing accept global warming as fact because it gives them an excuse to raise their rates in coastal areas.
  • by ClickOnThis (137803) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @02:07PM (#46734661) Journal

    No, the original statement is a fabrication so the conclusion is a non-sequitur.

    The original statement from rubycodez was as follows:

    we cannot ascertain the temperatures of past centuries with enough precision to make any such study nor claims

    That's not a fabrication. That's just wrong. Calling it a fabrication bestows too much grace on it.

    Sadly, the anti-science (and particularly anti-AGW) crowd has no shortage of wrong statements, because unlike scientists, they are not tethered to facts.

    We may not have direct records but that's not what the paper presents. Science is not always able to have first-hand accounts, but only indirect data sources, and yet we rely on it for a shocking amount of findings. Will you start dismissing those as well because they don't suit your agenda? Because an agenda it must be, for you to make such unreasonable demands and yet draw unrelated conclusions from them, while trusting other science based on similar methods.

    This. Claiming that indirect evidence does not count is a desperate, sophomoric attempt by the anti-science crowd.

    Recall the recent debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham on the theory of evolution. One of Ken Ham's favourite strategies was an attempt to make a distiction between "observational" science and "historical" science, with the latter being invalid in his opinion. How often did we hear him say "you don't know, you weren't there" in response to indirect evidence?

    What if, after the debate, Ken Ham had walked to the parking lot of his museum and discovered that the driver-side front fender of his car was damaged, with debris from his front driver-side headlight strewn on the ground? He would no doubt conclude that someone hit his car while he was parked there. But not so fast, Mr. Ham. Let's apply your own standards of evidence: You don't know. You weren't there.

  • Re:Deniers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rally2xs (1093023) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @02:34PM (#46734837)

    Yeah? What's your solution? We absolutely, positively need petroleum right now in order to exist. Without it, we'd have to fall back to an 1800's agrarian existence, farming with horses and oxen, and OBTW we couldn't produce enough food for the vast majority of people to survive. We need modern farming methods for that, and that requires petroleum to fertilize it, petroleum to work the land, petroleum to move the food, and petroleum to heat homes and so forth.

    The only way to NOT use petroleum RIGHT NOW is to kill about 90% of the population, world-wide. Simply making things more efficient isn't going to work, we're already too close to our capabilities for that.

    The solution in the short term is to use the best methods to obtain petroleum based products, fracking, to keep costs down so we have enough research money to throw into things like geothermal electricity, battery technology, and geo-engineering solutions to removing CO2 from the atmosphere. That might have a chance. But simply complaining about those who are going about the business of making things better for us NOW is of absolutely no use whatsoever.

  • by rally2xs (1093023) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @03:00PM (#46735007)

    Where the H did that come from? There's other things to tax, don'tcha know? We didn't even have income taxes 'til 1913 and were getting along just fine until Democrats insisted on being able to steal people's money directly. We even had the golden age of the 1880's, which was our greatest economic expansion of our entire history. Its no coincidence that there was no income tax at the time.

  • by PRMan (959735) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @03:57PM (#46735371)
    They ALWAYS pick 500 years. Because it was at the height of the "Little Ice Age". It's so transparent now it's completely ridiculous, but the GW crowd eats it up time and time again.
  • by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @04:54PM (#46735695)

    Much warmer in the past, with no anthropogenic CO2 influence.

    And? Are you trying to prove that cyanide won't kill you because vacuum does? An increase in temperature can be caused by many things, and neither of them disproves that the others don't. Also, Greenland is just one place. When climate scientists talk about global warming, they're referring mostly to global accumulated heat rather than to local temperatures. Local temperatures in individual places can have the same peaks or valleys of equal magnitude. Or, they can have peaks and valleys of lesser or greater magnitudes. Or, in some places, they can even go in completely different directions.

    Certainly no catastrophic AGW, humans do well in warm times. Cold is cop failures, starvation, and freezing to death.

    Hey, if you want to go down the "let's make anecdotal evidence out of isolated data points" road, two can play this game. Look how your Greenland data have temperature spikes where Egyptian First and Second Intermediate Periods and European Bronze Age Collapse lie.

  • by microbox (704317) on Saturday April 12, 2014 @05:38PM (#46735921)

    It's less about the existence of global warming than the use of the existence of global warming as a cudgel for all manner of environmental regulations. That's what's controversial.

    What regulations? If we could have a debate about regulations, that would be awesome. Personally I think a gently phased in carbon tax is a good idea, combined with massive investment in all of the above R&D. Should barely make a dent in our style of life, and we don't know what clever things we'll develop of the next few decades. Also, even if you discount carbon pollution (which is truly skewing the energy market), wind power is now cheaper than coal. So let's level the playing field.

    But instead we get bizarre arguments about Popper from people who know nothing about the philosophy of science, and strong predictions of cooling based on 15 year time series that shows warming -- albeit not strong monotonic warming.

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