Sunspots don't cause global warming, people do

Climate change denialists like to cite Danish scientist Henrik Svensmark's theory that global warming is caused by sunspots in excusing the ongoing de-terraforming of the Earth (Svensmark's work was the basis for a film called "The Great Global Warming Swindle"); but research from Lancaster University undermines Svensmark's conclusions.
The idea is that variations in solar activity affect cosmic ray intensity.

But Lancaster University scientists found there has been no significant link between them in the last 20 years.

Presenting their findings in the Institute of Physics journal, Environmental Research Letters, the UK team explain that they used three different ways to search for a correlation, and found virtually none.

This is the latest piece of evidence which at the very least puts the cosmic ray theory, developed by Danish scientist Henrik Svensmark at the Danish National Space Center (DNSC), under very heavy pressure.

Link (via Futurismic)

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  1. Your headline is wrong, it should be: Sunspots don’t cause increased formation of clouds.

    No more, no less has the study shown.

    Thanks.

  2. Russian solar physicists Galina Mashnich and Vladimir Bashkirtsev, and Danish scientist Henrik Svensmark have done studies saying that the solar cycle influences climate.

    Brits Terry Sloan and Mike Lockwood have done a study saying that it doesn’t.

    OK, great, this is how the scientific process is supposed to work: competing theories exist, work is done on both sides, and over time, the preponderance of evidence supports one side or another.

    …but I don’t understand how Cory takes one data point and boldly proclaims “Sunspots don’t cause global warming, people do”.

    Really?

    Is the preponderance of evidence in, and that’s what it says?

    Cory, what would you say are the strongest and weakest points of Sloan’s argument? What would you say are the strongest and weakest points of Mashnich’s argument? What further data would you like to see to really settle things?

    My strong guess is that you don’t have opinions on any of these topics, because you really don’t know anything about the topic.

    As a layman reading the various press releases (and, yes, the BBC article and most other articles are based on press releases), neither do I.

    I imagine that you’d be pretty skeptical of a single press release “conclusively” proving something that you didn’t agree with about, I don’t know, the correlation of IQ with ethnicity, or the risky sexual behavior of different demographics…and you wouldn’t immediately write a blog post with a subject line that boldly states “X does not do Y; Z does”.

  3. “Denialists”? It should be expected that questioning orthodoxy leads to condemnation and vilification in a religious context. This article purports to discuss science, not religion. Why assign insulting tags to those who are willing to look beyond orthodoxy?

  4. Anyone with a basic understanding of physics will instantly be highly suspicious of theories stating that currently-underway climate change/global warming is a result of sunspot activity. Anyone with a serious understanding of physics will be not only suspicious but annoyed that this nonsense continues to be repeated by the same deniers who no doubt also support flat-earth and creationist drivel, because their tiny little minds simply aren’t up to the task of dealing with reality.

    I recommend (among other things):
    http://www.badastronomy.com/bablog/2007/04/29/is-global-warming-solar-induced/
    and
    http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2008/02/27/global_warming_deniers/index.htm
    and
    http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2008/3/9/878/93026/133/472774

    The short summary is: the sun’s output is one of THE most-studied phenomena in all of astronomy, for what I trust are obvious reasons. Every twitch, every flutter is recorded by hundreds of terrestrial and space-based instruments, then pored over by thousands of scientists, many of whom have spent the entire professional careers doing so, and all of whom are no doubt aware that the sun’s output is the single biggest factor to consider when building a mathematical model of climate. Were there actually any evidence showing a relationship between solar output and current climate change — and there is absolutely none — then (a) someone would be on track to a Nobel Prize and (b) we would be in deep, deep trouble because while we have ways of controlling other variables influencing climate (such as emissions) we are completely powerless to control solar output.

    This farsical sunspot “theory” is no more a theory than my offhand assertion that the reason I can’t find my coffee cup right now is that gnomes crept in overnight and relocated it to Thailand.

  5. ah, nice… take 20 years worth of “data”… makes it look nice and well studied… such a pity we’re talking about average solar output over several hundred years, not short term cycles… the short term 22 year solar sunspot activity cycle barely has any effect on the global temperature…

    One factor that doesn’t get mentioned much is the solar systems’ passage through the different arms of the galaxy… those density waves don’t stay put going round the galaxy at the same rate as the stars do… who’s to say whether we haven’t recently passed through a slightly denser patch that caused the solar heliopause to get pushed in and resulted in more cosmic rays getting through to form clouds…

    and what about volcanic activity?… that has a major effect over geological timescales…

  6. The wrangle over whether global warming is anthropogenic is a distraction. Climate change denialists are pushing this agenda to bring attention away from the main issue, which is that global climate change is currently happening. We are currently observing global climate change.

    (I did some work in the field as an undergrad. While there may be legitimate scientists who think doubling or tripling global CO2 won’t affect climate in some way, I haven’t ever met one.)

    The debate over the causes is ultimately a distraction. We’re not going to convince the denialists — many of them are politically motivated, and they’ve got a lot riding on keeping this debate going. They are the trolls of science.

    What matters is that climate change is happening. Maybe you have overwhelming evidence that it’s being caused by moonbat farts, and it isn’t humanity’s fault. Whatever. I don’t care.

    Even if it’s not our fault, it’s still happening. We still live here. We have — we should have — some very serious motivations for keeping the world in a state capable of maintaining our continued existence. The question of who or what is responsible shouldn’t change that.

  7. Really “Good” science states a hypothesis (the world is warming up because…). Then the hypothesis needs to be tested. Over time. A long time. Until then, global warming is a theory that seems to make sense, but it’s only just a theory. What happens if there is a 15% increase in volcanic activity over the next 100 years? Guess we’ll have to see what happens in the next 100 years to find out. That’s how science works. I predict an Ice Age is coming. “They” were saying that less than 30 years ago. Guess what, “They” were wrong. People are such lemmings.

  8. There is a two page article in the March issue of Physics Today [sorry, but the article is only available to subscribers] discussing periodic variation in solar activity and its relationship to periodic variation in Earth’s climate. One of the points made is that modeling periodicity allows researchers to account for (or at least describe) observations that linear models (e.g., correlation) miss.

    I would also like to second the objections to the use of terms like ‘denialists’. Climate science is still pretty young, and skepticism of the most dire predictions is, in my opinion, still warranted.

  9. G Jules, the argument about the reason for climate change is far from being a distraction. If people cause it, then there’s reason to think that we can reverse it (which may or may not be worth the cost), whereas if it’s due to, e.g., solar activity, what could we possibly do to be “keeping the world in a state capable of maintaining our continued existence”?

  10. It’s interesting that research into factors affecting climate change make someone a ‘climate change denialist’.
    Or perhaps it just means ‘people who propose combined effects other than solely the result of a group of humans’. But who knows, it’s not like we’ll get to find out anything if any scientist who investigates otherwise is shunned and denied.

    In this case, appropriate research has disproved his theory. Well done science. It has found something out by disproof, the only tool it has. Henrik was as essential to this research as the team who disproved him.

  11. Good discussion already! I second TJIC’s comment regarding the post title. And Manicbassman raises a good point… 20 years isn’t even a blink of an eye over the relevant time frame, so to extrapolate from that limited review that there is no relationship over the course of millennia strikes me as somewhat ridiculous.

    That’s one thing about the global warming debate that I find irksome… on both sides people are looking at a window of time that is so minute as to be statistically irrelevant when compared to the length of time the Earth and Sun have been interacting with one another, and then trying to pin the results on human activity. Actually seems rather egotistical to suggest we humans have that kind of influence.

    However, I do believe in the effects of climate change, they are real and they are drastic. A fascinating book on one of the many side effects of global warming is “No Way Home – The Decline of the World’s Great Animal Migrations” by David Wilcove. Wilcove goes into great detail illustrating how inter-related the varying climates of the planet are in relation to migratory species, and the severe impact climate change is having on them. The book doesn’t get bogged down in the debate about global warming itself, which is nice.

  12. Re: “denialists”. Fine, I’ll use a more apropos term, the same one that I use for creationists: morons.

  13. Allow me to make one small, but important, point. I don’t think ANYONE is actively denying the fact that the planet is warming. What we are at odds about is what is the cause of it. Is it due to human action, such as increased carbon emissions or is it part of the natural cycle that causes ice ages and heat waves on the planet?
    I tend to believe it is a combination of both… I’ll jump on the “green” bandwagon because I believe we are stewards of this earth and should protect it, but I don’t see humans as the sole cause of global warming. There really are so many unknown factors that cause climate change and I have not seen convincing evidence to suggest that our input alone is sufficient to produce the results we have seen.
    But seriously folks, take care of the planet, currently it’s the only life-sustaining planet we know of, it’s taken pretty good care of you.

  14. The effects of climate change will only be proved as they happen, but ‘possible’ scenarios scare us because we don’t like change.
    G Jules #7 said we ought to be “keeping the world in a state capable of maintaining our continued existence”. How do you propose to do that with the entire earth? A climate changes, that’s what weather, ice ages, volcanoes, a dynamic planet does. We can no more control it than we can the core of the earth.
    Whether it’s change is ‘bad’ or ‘good’ is moot.
    Unless humans did it. Then it’s bad.

  15. Aw, c’mon. Don’t use the word “denialist” which makes questioning any aspects of the mainstream view of climate science tantamount to denying the Holocaust. Climatology is a complex and evolving science and the details are important, just as they are in any science. Calling various hypotheses “denial” based on whether they seem on the face to support a given conclusion or not is just lazy.

  16. The real problem is not whether or not the earth is warming, but whether or not it’s a catastrophe that we need to be rescued from.

    Bureaucrats the world over are salivating at the possibility of taxing carbon emissions so they can “save us”. Can someone remind me what was the last global problem the bureaucrats were able to solve? (Hint: it the eradication of AIDS, global poverty, malaria, nuclear proliferation, genocide, or anything else these international bodies have been tasked with) But if we just give them power over this… they will save us all!

    From what exactly? Rising temperatures will ramp up the hydrologic cycle… more rain, and more C02 will accelerate plant growth. Global warming could halt desertification and turn the Sahara, the Gobi, and the American Southwest into gardens.

  17. @5: anyone with a basic understanding of science will know that intriguing facts ought to be considered carefully. It may be just a coincidence that the Little Ice Age of the late 1600’s just happened to coincide with the Maunder Minimum, a period of solar activity so low that there were essentially no sunspots. But that would be weird.

    Given that fact–and remember, facts are the basis of science, not political expediency, favoured theories, or what the Bible says–it would be a major failure of the scientific community if no one followed up on mechanisms that might account for it.

    And it would be anti-scientific in the extreme to say “the debate about causes is a distraction.”

    A distraction from what? From someone’s favourite political agenda?

    It is certainly not a distraction from science, which is the only thing that is going to lead to an understanding of our world and our effect on it.

    The reflexive dismissal of any investigation into non-anthropogenic causes of global climate change is one half of the poison in this debate, and anti-scientific political activists are not doing humanity any favours by denying the legitimacy or relevance of scientific investigation into these questions.

    The falsehoods of Big Carbon can only be countered by our best estimate of the truth, not more falsehoods from politically-motivated operatives of what amounts to just another anti-scientific agenda.

  18. @ 18: “G Jules #7 said we ought to be “keeping the world in a state capable of maintaining our continued existence”.”

    Hmm. I should clarify my argument a bit. I’m not arguing that we need to live up to some moral or ethical requirement to keep the Earth livable (although I should note that I’m not arguing that we don’t).

    My argument is that if we want to stay around as a species, we need to look into what’s going to happen to our climate, and how we’re going to survive it. Finding convincing proof we don’t cause climate change isn’t going to make it go away.

    I think we should be researching technological fixes because I’m self-interested. I live in Boston. I’d like my city to be here in another century. And I’d like the press to stop writing stories that give courage to the groups arguing that if we didn’t cause it, we don’t have a reason to try to fix it.

    On technological fixes. We know climate is a non-linear system; we know there are a lot of tipping points built in. The better we understand those tipping points, the better our shot at finding a way to work with them. Assuming that a planet is just too big to do anything about doesn’t give humanity much credit.

    (Note: I think the sunspot research is great. Cloud effects are highly non-linear, and there are intriguing studies showing correlation between sunspots and climate. I just hate seeing it framed in the press as work done specifically to disprove the denialists. Gives ’em too much credit.)

  19. I’ve always considered this debate a litmus test for idiocy.

    Most of the climate denialists are the same folks who jump on here to defend the Bush administration, the creationist museum, the TSA, and police brutality. Arguing with them is tantamount to going down to your local insane asylum and yelling at folks for licking the floor.

  20. Why assign insulting tags to those who are willing to look beyond orthodoxy?

    Because there is no “orthodoxy” in this context. The use of religion as a metaphor is spurious and insulting on many levels. It’s used as a disingenuous tool to bait and harass those that have accepted the work of IPCC as scientific fact rather than engage in a genuine critique of the evidence.

  21. Hooray! I am impressed with the quality of argument from those, who like myself, are tired of seeing research that fails to support the CO2 global warming connection as favored by the IPCC as being a part of some sort of cabal of “denialists” (a thoroughly loathsome word every bit as offensive as any of the others. A degree of diversity in the perpective on just what is happening to our global environment, the temperature of which is but one assault that threatens a lot more than just polar bears, is much needed. I for one favor Freeman Dyson’s perspective, not because I passionately believe he must be correct but because he accepts that he might not be and therefore seeks further understanding while doing those things we know we can to and that will benefit all of us. Cheers to the fellow heretics who stand up to orthodoxy wherever it resides, even in the climate debate (and I use that term “debate” in its most noble and charitable sense). Thanks.

  22. Old news for anyone who follows the field; detection & attribution studies eliminated all the usual alternative sources of the increasing global temperatures long ago. On top of that, the skeptics have never been able to answer the basic physics question: “If the irrefutably higher levels of CO2 over the last century have NOT lead to a rise in temperature, where has all the extra forcing (heat trapped within the atmosphere), that basic physics shows will be trapped in the atmosphere and oceans, gone instead? And by what miraculous new process hitherto unknown to science did it get there?”

  23. Hmm, two comments spring to mind. Firstly, 20 years of data seems rather minimal, given that the effect would be expected to have 11 years as its shortest period.

    Secondly, it is relatively uncontroversial that solar forcing was a major factor before 1950. Finding the mechanism of that forcing would be interesting quite independent of any current environmental concerns and useful insofar as it improves knowledge of climate mechanisms.

  24. @Doug L.

    I’m not sure I agree with the use of the term “orthodoxy” any more than I agree with the use of the term “denialist.” Is it really fair to decry one religiously-charged term and replace it with another? I’m also not sure any segment of the scientific community has been at a consensus for long enough on the global climate change debate for there to be any kind of “orthodox” view.

    I’ve found that it’s best to qualify your conclusions on this topic before making them. If you find that you’re more certain than uncertain, the precautionary principle should be used. If you find the opposite, look harder, but still employ precaution.

    But at any rate, this debate hasn’t been about science. It’s been about political statements, interest group funding, and talking heads. I don’t think anyone can form a realistic opinion without conducting an exhaustive study of available information just to decide which studies are most credible. In my opinion, the whole argument is more about the reliability of modern scientific reporting than whether or not human beings are causing climate change.

    I’ve spent some time researching, working on climate models, and reading the fodder that comes down through the political pipelines. I’ve got my own perception of what’s going on. Each time one of these new studies comes out, the arguments that follow just continue to dilute an issue that should be receiving serious and undivided attention. Afterall, even the skeptics are just skeptics…no one is truly *sure* of what’s going on.

  25. It’s SAFE to say I think we carry the blueprints to our destruction…

    I also think it’s never one reason. Life in general (counting the earth) is pretty resilient. Look at the honey bees dying off. It is not one reason. i.e. microwave towers, pollution, weather change, human intervention, etc. This singular blame thing is just an offset of our society.

    “Hey shut up! American gladiators are dancing with the mediocre idols on the tonight Bush Nazi show!”

  26. @28: This is a good question, but not necessarily the best way of putting the question. I actually became notably more sceptical about the urgency of the climate crisis precisely by asking a closely related question.

    It works like this.

    Either increased levels of anthropogenic CO2 will increase the heat content of the atmosphere and oceans, which will result in what I’m going to call “Direct Climate Change”, or the climate will respond in ways that keep the heat content more-or-less constant, which will result in “Indirect Climate Change.”

    Either way, the climate is necessarily going to respond to the additional CO2.

    The problem is: no one knows with any certainty to what degree climate response is going to be direct vs indirect, and no one knows with any certainty how large either effect will be in terms of changes in local weather patterns anywhere in the world. There is general agreement that seems pretty robust that polar areas will be most strongly affected, but neither the absolute size of the effect nor in many cases even the sign of the effect in terms of warmer/colder wetter/drier is reliably known for regional climates world-wide.

    The only thing we can say for sure is that it is absolutely certain that the weather will not get worse everywhere, unless by “worse” you mean “different”, for which there is some economic justification.

    I tried to produce a robust first-order estimate of the probable magnitude of climate-response that did not depend on very fine details and assumptions of a given model, and couldn’t. Nor has anyone else been able to do so, which is not at all surprising given the nonlinear feedbacks and small-scale phenomena that have important effects.

    So in trying to produce an argument that would convince sceptics, I became a good deal more sceptical myself about the specific claims being made.

    That said, by adding so much CO2 to the planet’s atmosphere we are performing a great experiment with our only home, and this is a bad thing. We should be working vigorously toward reducing carbon emissions on the basis of risk-reduction alone. And if we are not intelligent enough to do that, well, then it sucks to be us. We should not succumb to the desire to make strong unsupported claims for the purpose of engendering panic simply because it will motivate people to “do something.”

  27. Another Aaron – “Most of the climate denialists are the same folks who jump on here to defend the Bush administration, the creationist museum, the TSA, and police brutality. Arguing with them is tantamount to going down to your local insane asylum and yelling at folks for licking the floor.”

    I’m more or less a global warming denialist, but thanks for denoting the difference between the sane ones and the insane denialists. Based on your scientific criteria, I shouldn’t be in the asylum.

    But, overall, the “global warming” issue is being used politically to hurt and hinder humankind through the form of a tax scheme. The carbon credit scam is ridiculous.

    Isn’t the largest producer of CO2 the soil, then the ocean? If so, why are humans only to blame?

  28. The important take away from all this:

    1) Let’s be worried about Climate Change and do things to be less wasteful, less polluting, and to exist more harmoniously with the environment which we are a part of. The worry factor is useful to motivate individual and collective actions for a better environment.

    2) Let’s watch out for the bogus politicization of this issue (especially through the usage of orthodoxy and conflict inducing characterizations like “denialist morons”) The worry factor should not be an enabler of increased government bureaucracy and overweaning social control policies. (And worst of all, as a scheme for some kind of world government.)

  29. “…the UK team explain that they used three different ways to search for a correlation, and found virtually none.”

    “Virtually none”? Isn’t that the same as saying “some”? :)

    I’m not saying that sunspots cause global warming. I just think that there is not enough data on either side to assume that climate change is caused by humanity. Assuming that the Earth is billions of years old, does data collected from the past 100 years count as statistically significant?

  30. @34: You only have to look at the growth of atmospheric CO2 in the past two hundred years to understand that humans are having a very significant impact on its level. To say that “soil and the ocean” are the largest producers may be true, but it isn’t relevant to the debate.

    There is no doubt that humans are responsible for almost all of the change in atmospheric CO2 levels in the past 200 years. Some of that human contribution may be due to changes in land use, but those are still anthropogenic changes.

    I defy you to look at a curve of carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere in the past 200 years and not conclude that humans aren’t the dominant factor in it’s dramatic growth.

    The problem is that no one knows what the effects of that growth will be. Computer models of the climate are far more dependent on assumptions than physics. This is a necessary consequence of how complex the climate is, and it isn’t going away any time soon.

    Complex models that depend on plausible assumptions do not produce robust predictions.

    This is as much a fact as the fact that humans are the largest contributor to changing CO2 levels in the past 200 years. Complex models that depend on plausible assumptions produce predictions that are poor tools of extrapolation no matter how well they match the past. The only way to know what the effect of all the CO2 we are adding to the atmosphere will be is to wait and see.

    This sounds to me like a bad plan, and I believe that for lots of reasons we should be moving to limit in absolute terms the amount of CO2 we add to the atmosphere. But we should not pretend a greater certainty than we have while doing so, and we should not label everyone who is looking more deeply into the past and future of the Earth’s climate a “denialist”. That just stifles the scientific process, which is the only thing that is going to help us make even near-term predictions that will aid us in adapting to the new world climate we are actively creating.

  31. I’m impressed with the quality of most of the commentary here…particularly the immediate exposure of the religious nature of “denialism” and orthodoxy. There’s a tendency that’s repeatedly bugged me about certain BB posters over the years: on some issues it’s all about rationality, reasoned debate, and science, until someone comes up with a counterpoint. At that point, emotionalism and name-calling kick in, and this hypocrisy, if noted at all, is defended as irony or Abbie Hoffmanesque japery.

    Anyway.

    I really just dropped by to issue a call for a massive, reckless geoengineering project. That’ll fix everything. Yay Greg Benford! Or Monty Burns, your choice.

  32. You’re missing the point. Climate-change deniers (e.g., morons) aren’t DOING science. They’re doing politics, religion, economics, wishful thinking, avoidance, and everything else BUT science. They do not deserve any respect in the context of a scientific debate because they’re not party to one. Like the equally-moronic creationists, they like to pretend that there’s a “controversy” when there isn’t, claim that they’re being “suppressed” when they’re not, allege vast conspiracies when none exist, and use anecdotal, flawed, incomplete, discredited, irrelevant or fabricated evidence as support for all this. They’re dishonest, incompetent, or both.

    We know (a) the climate is changing — I prefer the term “global climate weirdness” because I think it’s more apropos than “global warming”, but I use both and (b) the proximate cause of that change is human activity. Debate still exists over many points surrounding these, such “how fast is it changing?” and “what will be the consequences?” and “what can we do about it?” and “what metrics provide the best assessment of this?” but we’re well past the point where serious argument over the basic points is meaningful. As one of the articles I referenced (above) pointed out, the moronic claims of denialists that climatologists somehow forgot en masse about solar input are like claiming that NASA mission planners neglected the effects of gravity.

  33. It is not the sun spots themselves, but the intensity of the sun’s output that is determined by counting sun spots. But that is not the issue. Don’t show me facts and data. Al gore has told us that the science is settled. There is too much discussion of science going on in here.

    It is all about taxes and control.

    It is very important that anthropogenic global warming be caused by CO2. It is a simple concept. You can sell the idea to non-technical people through media sound bites on CNN, CBS, and MS-NBC. Once the dogma is accepted as “fact” by non-scientist, we can pressure governments to impose caps and fines for CO2 (read taxes). Since we hate the United States, we can use the UN to impose global taxes and control.

    We will then tax what for millions of years has been normal weather cycles. History is filled with records of warm and cold periods. Some of them have been pretty severe (little ice ages and warm periods that lasted for decades or even centuries).

    If you ask a small child to tell you the cause of a nice summer day, they will draw you a picture with a large yellow sun. You have to indoctrinate children to think that warm weather is caused by evil SUVs. You can’t tax and regulate the sun.

    When I was a kid they used to joke about taxing the air we breathe. In fact, you are exhaling CO2 right now. It may soon come to pass.

    Global Warming is the new home of big government socialists and communists. You can’t fix what isn’t broken, but you can tax the hell out of people for it.

  34. “Denialist” is not such a bad label, since it puts one in the company of many eminent scientists, including but by no means limited to:

    Prof. Freeman Dyson–one of the world’s most eminent physicists

    Dr. Edward Wegman–former chairman of the Committee on Applied and Theoretical Statistics of the National Academy of Sciences

    Dr. David Bromwich–president of the International Commission on Polar Meteorology

    Prof. Paul Reiter–Chief of Insects and Infectious Diseases at the famed Pasteur Institute

    Prof. Hendrik Tennekes–director of research, Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute

    Dr. Christopher Landsea–past chairman of the American Meteorological Society’s Committee on Tropical Meteorology and Tropical Cyclones

    Dr. Antonino Zichichi–one of the world’s foremost physicists, former president of the European Physical Society, who discovered nuclear antimatter

    Dr. Zbigniew Jaworowski–world-renowned expert on the ancient ice cores used in climate research

    Prof. Tom V. Segalstad–head of the Geological Museum, University of Oslo

    Dr. Syun-Ichi Akasofu–founding director of the International Arctic Research Center, twice named one of the “1,000 Most Cited Scientists”

    Dr. Claude Allegre–member, U.S. National Academy of Sciences and French Academy of Science

    Dr. Richard Lindzen–Professor of Meteorology at M.I.T., member, the National Research Council Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate

    Dr. Habibullo Abdussamatov–head of the space research laboratory of the Russian Academy of Science’s Pulkovo Observatory and of the International Space Station’s Astrometria project

    Dr. Richard Tol–Principal researcher at the Institute for Environmental Studies at Vrije Universiteit, and Adjunct Professor at the Center for Integrated Study of the Human Dimensions of Global Change at Carnegie Mellon University

    Dr. Sami Solanki–director and scientific member at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Germany

    Dr. Eigils Friis-Christensen–director of the Danish National Space Centre, vice-president of the International Association of Geomagnetism and Aeronomy

    …and many (most?) former members of the IPCC who were originally appointed to that Committee to provide scientific oversight, and who later found themselves unwelcome when their observations conflicted with the IPCC’s stated policy goals.

    Yay for the Denialists!

  35. #33 posted by WWEBoing
    “The solar-activity deniers reveal their fear that the global warming hoax is found out. Critics are called “morons” and rhetorically linked to creationists, etc. No science, just name calling.”

    Not true Weboing – TJIC is a creationist. If you go to his web page you’ll find he is a creationist and apparently believes that blacks are inherently inferior to whites. Among other delusions.

    I love it how all the trolls came out to play.

    “we should not label everyone who is looking more deeply into the past and future of the Earth’s climate a “denialist”.”

    Follow the money. You’ll find that the likes of Friis-Christensen (and no doubt others) have been well rewarded by Exxon for their “contributions” to the debate. Scientists I think rightly feel themselves to be under attack. Their only real defenses are rhetorical and so I think they have a right to label certain nutcases as denialists.

  36. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t just a little bothered by being lumped into the same category as creationists/world-is-flattists (big thanks there, Gore…) just because I don’t believe climate change is alltogether human-caused. And I’m certainly not a denialist.

    I do happen to lean more toward the left politically. I am not denying that pollution = bad. However, I see the phrase “global warming” bandied about as a way to wag fingers and a way to gain power politically more than anything else, and I also happen to believe the Earth’s climate is subject to change no matter what we try to do about it. And since we can barely predict the weather accurately (wasn’t it supposed to rain this week in northern california?), I reserve the right to be suspicious of even the most convincing-sounding science that points to the polar ice caps turning into saunas thanks to cow farts.

    And if I even try talking about my views away from the protective anonymity of the internet, I’m crucified.

  37. #40:

    Let me put it this way. The first and second comments in this thread has it exactly right. But the attitude Cory expressed apparently blinded him to the reality of the science presented by both Svensmark and Lancaster University, so he put up a headline that had nothing whatsoever to do with the research in question. Bluntly associating Svensmark’s research with “deniers” instead of simply treating it as a piece of research that’s been contradicted by further research cheapens and obfuscates the entire scientific process.

    Non-scientists with poor understanding of the mechanics involved will jump all over the fact that global mean temperatures haven’t risen since 1998, but that doesn’t mean that this research isn’t worth exploring further. Neither does the fact that people will no doubt misinterpret and abuse Miklós Zágoni’s research.

    The point is that a language of orthodoxy–which is exactly what “denialist” is–does not foster free debate. It is a language of suppression.

    You may think that the word “moron” has a place in serious debate about important issues, but I don’t. If such people are “not party” to the scientific debate…then why keep bringing them up with such casual frequency?

  38. Sigh.

    Some researchers investigated a theory by trying to find evidence that sunspot activity caused climate variations. They did not find any significant evidence. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t any, it means that they didn’t find any. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

    The net result of this is that we don’t really know anything more than we did before that study (except perhaps that pursuing this study further is probably not a good use of funding).

    We still don’t really know what’s happening to the climate. There’s a lot of posturing and loudly promoted hypotheses on both sides, and none of them have been able to ground their hypotheses in real science; about the best they have been able to do is use science to disprove the hypotheses of their opponents. However, we have learned a couple of things from the past few decades of climate research:

    – We suck at creating models of the planet’s climate. We can create plenty of (contradictory) models that fit the available historical data, but we’ve been able to do that for quite a while now, and so far none of them have turned out to be correct when new data was fed in. This indicates that our latest attempts at creating models by fitting the historical data are probably also wrong. There’s something here that we don’t understand on a fundamental level.

    – Nobody is really interested in the truth. People don’t want to find out how the climate is actually behaving, they just want to have their unsubstantiated claims vindicated.

  39. CO2 is not the problem. We are currently at about 300 ppm. Dinosaurs lived when it was over 1000 ppm. Did dinosaurs die out due to global warming? No. I believe asteroid strike is the accepted theory.

    Asteroids, super novas, gamma ray bursts, super volcanoes (Yellowstone), pandemic diseases… all things that can kill us. CO2. Way, way, way far down on the list.

    Earth’s four billion year history has shown us that catastrophic extinction is the norm. However, the chances of it happening in the next 1000 years is remote.

    If we are living in the end of days, there is very little that “carbon credits” can do for us.

  40. @#37: To say that “soil and the ocean” are the largest producers may be true, but it isn’t relevant to the debate.

    Much of the debate over global warming is whether humans are the cause. If you say that non-human sources of CO2 are irrelevant to the debate, then you’re throwing scientific analysis to the wind.

    It would be logical to assume that over the past 200 years we’ve contributed, as we’ve had explosive growth of CO2 producers just exhaling CO2 called humans, not including the animal population.

    I do agree that we do need to start practicing conservative measures, but forcing it through government taxes and regulations isn’t the way. People have to make a conscious decision to do so.

  41. Forgive me. In post #49, I meant meteor or comet. I know that asteroids are generally small. Maybe, to many video games.

  42. The way the bbc article is written is somewhat misleading. The scenario suggested has two components:

    1. The cosmic ray flux on the earth is anti-correlated with the solar cycle.
    2. Cosmic rays some how seed clouds.

    So during solar max, fewer cosmic rays at earth, fewer clouds being seeded and so the earth heats up.

    The problem is that the bbc are mixing the two arguments together saying both are unproven in the new Sloan paper. There is strong evidence that the cosmic ray flux in the inner-heliosphere is related to the solar cycle. But its the second component that the sloan paper argues against, not finding a correlation between cloud cover and cosmic ray flux or the solar cycle.

  43. Cry, fr shm. “Dnlsts”? Snc whn ds scnc s trms brrwd frm rlgs rthdxy?

    Clmt chng s hppnng. Whthr t s drct rslt f hmn mssns f C2 s ndr stdy. Glbl wrmng s stdy hs bn gng n fr 40 yrs t th mst. T lvt th cnclsns rchd n th lst 40 yrs f stdy t sttld fct s prmtr.

    ‘m wth th bv. Glbl wrmng hs bn c-ptd by sttsts nd cmmntrns s n xcs t tx nd rglt. t dsn’t mttr nymr f th scnc s crrct, t mttrs hw mny ppl y cn cnvnc tht th scnc s crrct.

  44. Wow, a thread on global warming that’s full of condescending explanations of what the idiots on the other side refuse to recognize as The Obvious Truth, not to mention a couple of visits from the grammar Nazis.

    You could knock me over with a feather.

  45. @49: Current CO2 levels are at a significantly increased 380 ppm. (Up from about 280 ppm at the end of the little ice age and largest extent of alpine glaciers in the middle of the 19th century.)

  46. “‘Sunspots don’t cause global warming, people do’.
    Really?
    Is the preponderance of evidence in, and that’s what it says?”

    Yes, you have it exactly: The preponderance of the evidence is in, and that’s what it says.

  47. Oooooh! Statists and communitarians coming to eat our lunch and take away our SUVs!

    I guess that’s progress. Last year’s talking points called the whole climate change thing a hoax cooked up by climatologists who wanted to scare people into giving them grant money.

  48. The people I believe to be intelligent (and I thought them so before I knew their opinions) believe humans are damaging this planet. The people I believe to be idiots (and I thought them so before I knew their opinions) believe that humans have nothing to do with it….not only that, but they often turn out to have a connection to Exxon are whoever.

    It’s not too difficult to reach a conclusion.

    Don’t tell me to read up on the subject either…I have no intention of becoming a climate scientist. “We need to do more research!” is a hole you’ll never find the bottom of.

    Why don’t we just trust the smarties and put emission filters on our cars and factories already? Oh right, because the CEO of Exxon will have to sell one of his eight mansions.

    Yeah, that’s right. You, STOP LICKING THE FLOOR. For God’s sake, people walk on that.

  49. Like your confused headline the article
    from the researchers at Lancaster University
    also misunderstands the hypothesis they are trying to refute.

    Svensmark’s hypothesis has to do with Galactic Cosmic Rays, high-energy particles and gamma rays
    that originate from astrophysical processes in our galaxy such as supernovae, star formation etc.
    Thos GCRs have enough energy to produce a shower of charged muons at low altitudes that have a major influence on cloud formation by ionizing certain molecules in the atmosphere which then become nucleation sites. Charged particles from the Sun, mostly protons emitted during Sun storms do not have enough energy to produce a large flux of muons at low altitudes. They do collide with nuclei in the upper atmosphere producing isotopes of certain elements that permit reconstruction of solar cycles of the past beyond the period during which sunspots began to be observed and recorded. The charged particles from the Sun are strongly affected by the Earth’s magnetic field while the GCRs (the ones that are charged) are too energetic to be affected by the Earth’s magentic field. Bu the Sun’s magnetic field and the cloud of thin plasma that surrounds the Sun and emcompasses the Solar system because of its extension can block a significant portion of the charged GCRs when the Sun’s activity is particularly intense. The effect of GCRs is stronger on low altitude clouds over the oceans, specially on a band of30 degrees of latitude about the Equator where most of heat absorption by the oceans takes place. This region of the world provides the energy supply for most of the weather.
    The Lancaster paper focused on the effect of the cosmic rays from the Sun at high latitudes and has no effect on Svensmark’s conclusions. That article at best is a straw man.

    Riobaldo

  50. “Lst yr’s tlkng pnts clld th whl clmt chng thng hx ckd p by clmtlgsts wh wntd t scr ppl nt gvng thm grnt mny.”

    Flr f cmpstn. Fl.

    Clmt chng hs hppnd n th pst. Vstly lvtd C2 lvls hv hppnd n th pst.

    W nd strtgy t dl wth th fct tht th ss *wll* rs nd th tmprtrs *wll* bcm wrmr. Prd.

    gn, t dsn’t mttr f th scnc s crrct, t mttrs hw mny ppl y cn cnvnc th scnc s crrct. Y cn’t tx th sn. Y cn’t mk lws rstrctng vlcns. Bt y cn tx crs nd rstrct ppl.

    cld cr lss, dn’t vn wn cr.

  51. Tempatures on earth have only been rising for about 50 years. In order for the sun to raise the tempature of the earth it must increase it’s output. the Earth reacts quickly to the extra energy, it’s not like energy released by the sun hundreds of years ago waits until today to have an effect.

    For the temparture to continue to rise (and be caused by the sun), the output of the sun must continually rise almost in step with the temp increase seen on the earth. a 20 year study covers about 40% of the time of rising temps, and includes the rises we’ve seen this decade. If the sun output did not significantly increase over the period of time temps are rising, then it is not a cause of current changes. Past changes may very well have been caused by sun output variations, but the current one isn’t.

    And yes the majority of CO2 put in the atmosphere is not of human origin, however that CO2 isn’t increasing and nature is part of the natural carbon cycle. So all that natural CO2 has remained a realtive constant. It’s the additional man made carbon that is causing the heating, heating from natural CO2 is what set the climate prior to man dumping tons of the stuff in the air. If some natural cycle kicks in to sink the additional man made CO2 we’ll be saved. But I’d rather not bet the world on it.

  52. @57

    OK 380 ppm. The point was it has been a lot higher in the distant past. CO2 hasn’t been credited with past extinctions. In fact, high CO2 levels have been attributed with healthy plant life and the ability to support dinosaur size animals.

    Pointing to CO2 and saying it suddenly drives climate change is like saying that if I paint my truck red, it will accelerate faster.

    If you want look at greenhouse gasses and climate, look no further that water vapor.

  53. And of course the great global climate scientist conspiracy to get grants. Point to a global climate scientists that made $123 billion in profit. I think you’ll find the group of people with real profit motive in the climate “conspiracy” isn’t the scientist.

    Further the one scientist that proves the consenus wrong is typically rewarded with a Nobel Prize. You think buying into some conspiracy is a way to win the prize?

  54. @50: I don’t think you understood my comment.

    Look at it this way: during the Young Dryas the vast majority of the water in the North Atlantic was NOT fresh-water outflow from Lake Agassiz. But to conclude on that basis that fresh-water outflow from Lake Agassiz was not responsible for the dramatic change in thermohaline circulation would be quite wrong.

    Climates are quasi-equilibrium systems that are known to be susceptible to violent changes under relatively modest stresses. The Younger Dryas is an excellent example of this, despite the undoubted fact that it’s cause was never the dominant source of water in the North Atlantic.

    Likewise, simply because humans are not the dominant source of CO2 in the atmosphere, it is still perfectly plausible that anthropogenic CO2 is capable of producing quite dramatic changes in the existing quasi-equilibrium state.

  55. @64

    I just wanted to make sure you knew the correct value and put it in perspective. Nothing else was implied in my posting.

  56. We humans can’t seem to shake the feeling that Paradise was created for us, but our fatal flaw is that we are destroying it, a sin for which we’ll pay on some not-to-distant Judgment Day.

    So it it with every major religion in the world. So it is with Global Warming(R).

    Therefore it’s only to be expected that proponents will defend Global Warming as loudly as if it were their religion.

    Really, the scientists have spoken. what you choose to hear is a matter of faith.

  57. Criminy, lay off Cory with the nitpciking, wouldja? At least he’s doing something.

    Cory! Someone on the internet is wrong! Please argue with them!

    But seriously… my response to the inevitable science geek objection that we are mostly laymen here and really know nothing about this (no disrespect intended, science geeks) is simply that policy decisions are made by citizens and politicians, not soley by PhDs– nor should they be.

    My point being that there has to be a debate about it among laymen like ourselves, and the fact that we will only know for sure who is right sometime in the future (if then) does not mean that taking some prudent precautions now makes us “lemmings.”

    One more thing: why is this topic such a magnet for unpleasant ideological posturing? It just clogs up a discussion which obviously demands a lot of detailed back and forth on difficult scientific points–and that’s hard enough!

  58. All of you people who have faith in the scientific method and want more studies – Sure, I don’t really think reasonable people have a beef.

    I think there are really people who deny GCC’s existence. I don’t equate it to holocaust denial, but there are people who do ignore the evidence for their own reasons.

    But I think that there is a vast difference between groups who want to study ALL the angles of global climate change and everything that influences it from a scientific standpoint, and people who want to spout talking points debunking it, shout about how this new scientist’s interest in other factors is more proof against human involvement… These are two completely different groups of people, and if people who talk about honest scientific inquiry into non-human, non CO2 influences want to be taken seriously, they need to stop letting people who are ignoring the peer-reviewed scientific consensus and just want to make human involvement in GCC disappear stop hiding behind them. In America, half of the problem is the mainstream media’s insistence on giving equal credit and page-time to viewpoints that are scientifically not REMOTELY seen as equal, and creating a false sense of schism and controversy.

    When groundbreaking new evidence with really good data comes along to knock us off the #1 cause list, I have faith it’ll be seriously looked at.
    But for now… Temperatures all over are changing, up and down, even if mean temperature isn’t growing.

    Didn’t anyone look at http://www.boingboing.net/2008/03/26/slides-from-wonderfu.html?

    As if that’s not enough, I see two other things going on – A constant maneuvering of the goalposts by people who oppose the scientific consensus for non-scientific reasons. First, it was whether GCC existed. Then it was whether C02 made a difference. Then there are people who state that it doesn’t matter, or that GCC will have financial benefits to people. I don’t care who can grow new crops when GCC screws up their climate, it’s not worth projected 10%+ species destruction.

    Now it’s whether humans caused that CO2. And apparently, now ‘bad people created thousands of years of ice core data and paid off a huge percentage of the world’s scientists as an excuse to tax us more’. I guess that for some people this is a logical conclusion, but It -Sounds- like the new goalposts that we keep getting as this ‘Debate’ goes on.

    I can’t see how someone can make that claim that people concerned about GCC are profit/politically motivated, when the people who have a CLEAR financial interests – Companies that do business based off of C)2 producing technologies, the businesses that will be impacted if we DO make a real effort to regulate CO2 emissions – Are not considered to be financially motivated. That’s intentionally blindfolding yourself to argue a weak point.

    To me, it looks like a massive number of people who do worry about climate change and want to reduce emissions have nothing to gain from it, other than not saddling future generations with a different looking climate.

    Even if you don’t buy human involvement, there’s all kinds of pragmatic reasons to reduce emissions… Energy independence and air quality are probably the most obvious. But it comes down to, if we are the cause of climate change, -Even if we do something right now-, global average temps are going to likely rise 3 degrees in the coming centuries, CO2 won’t stabilize for 100 years and sea levels will rise (slowly,) for a thousand. I’d rather act now than wait and let the potential problems get WORSE.

    Ramen.

  59. A few questions, so we don’t conflate issues.

    1. Is global climate change happening? yes/no

    If No goto 5.

    2 Should action be taken as a result of global climate change? yes/no

    3. Should we attempt to prevent global climate change? yes/no

    4. Is global climate change occurring because of human activity? yes /no

    5. Should we increase or decrease the human generated levels of greenhouse gases? yes/no

  60. To me, it looks like a massive number of people who do worry about climate change and want to reduce emissions have nothing to gain from it

    I see them as primarily wanting to be seen as right at any cost – they are under the delusion that physics is a democracy, and if they can convince enough people to agree with them and do what they propose, then they will be correct. In other words, it’s politics as usual.

    There is a relatively small lobby with large resources who stand to gain financially on one side of this fight, but so far as I can see, most people involved are just acting out of religious fervour.

  61. Hey guys, this thread has been fun and all. I love arguing with the greenie weenie true believers. However, I think we’ve all beaten the topic to a pulp. I am off to see more of the wonderful things that boing boing is a directory of…

  62. I think the main reason this sets off so many alrm bells with so many people is that normative judgements always seem to come along with the reports. Not in the papers themselves, mind you, but in most of the people relaying them.

    And those normative judgements have HUGE implications. They are beyond the scope of any single scientist, politician, or economist. They may save humans from terrible climate dangers, or it may keep billions in poverty for another century.

    For the deniers/skeptics, the disagreement may have originated with the normative cure proposed, and they simply worked backwards to find faults in the science itself without considering its veracity. Equally, many supporters may have agreed with those normative judgements and simply found the problem to the solution they already wanted. This “working backwards” is usually what causes the typical debates modeled on religion.
    There are plenty of these faults on both sides.

  63. Right… because nothing makes a politician more popular than raising taxes!

    I wasn’t aware that the free market had found solutions to these problems.

    Silly, uninformed me. I forgot that industrialists are super-competent ubermensches motivated by love of their fellow man, and that the deforestation of the Amazon and the obliteration of the ocean’s fish stocks are the work of diabolical pencil pushers growing fat on taxpayers dollars!

    Not always. How long did it take for scientists to prove the feasibilty of atomic fusion? Pretty quick turnaround there.

    Also, much of the support for evolution was there when Darwin and his colleagues were writing. Much of the subsequent evidence has merely confirmed what they established.

    I’m not a scientist, but I was under the impression that scientists have more sources of data than historical experience. I.e., fossil records, astronomical dat, etc.

    That is, the fact that there were no climatologists in the Roamn Empire does not mean we are totally lacking data about what took place then.

  64. The Farmer’s Almanac has always used sunspot activity as part of their crop prediction. Last time I checked, the Farmer’s Almanac has been around (and trusted) a lot longer than this study.
    I prefer the label: “skeptic”
    OK OK OK…
    The earth is warming, according to the IPCC’s report: http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-report/ar4/syr/ar4_syr.pdf 4MB download.
    On the 5th Page: an entire page of disclaimers to explain all of the “might’s, possibly’s, perhap’s, maybe’s”. All that and you still have FAITH in this report?
    On the 9th page: A chart showing the global warming over the last ~150 years. It shows the temperature rising A WHOLE 1 DEGREE CELSIUS! So in a couple of DECADES, my nice, spring day will go from 72F to 73F…..RUN FOR THE FRIGGIN HILLS! Did we even have worldwide, calibrated instruments measuring the surface temperatures in 1850? How accurate would those devices be?

    I love how someone used the Bad Astronomy link, they clearly did not read the last paragraph: http://www.badastronomy.com/bablog/2007/04/29/is-global-warming-solar-induced/
    “With all of these facts lined up, it’s clear that the one thing we need to do is be very, very careful when someone comes in and makes a broad, sweeping statement about global warming’s cause, especially when they have ulterior motives for saying what they do. This may sound like an ad hominem, but we have seen, over and over, how science gets abused these past few years by those in power. A jaundiced eye is critical in science, and a little skepticism — or in this case, a lot — is a good thing.”

    What should scare everyone is these WAGs (Worshipers of Al Gore) want to spend MANY TRILLIONS on the THEORY that the earth MIGHT be warming A COUPLE OF DEGREES over the next FEW DECADES!!! And you thought the war was expensive!

  65. In order for the sun to raise the tempature of the earth it must increase it’s output. the Earth reacts quickly to the extra energy, it’s not like energy released by the sun hundreds of years ago waits until today to have an effect.

    This is the kind of thinking that makes easy targets for sceptics.

    The effect of the sun on the Earth is more complex than just the solar constant. In the case at hand, there is an open question about the effect of the solar magnetosphere on the cosmic ray flux, which may or may not influence the rate of cloud formation.

    Also, it does in fact take some time for the climate to respond to changes in insolation, due to the large heat capacity of the oceans.

    It’s sad to see how little reason there is on either side of this issue. “Following the money” is no more a way of doing science than is “following your religion”. The truth doesn’t care who is paying for the research. Nor does it care about anyone’s politics. It stands and falls on the evidence, and the very fact that perfectly good peer-reviewed papers can reach substantively different conclusions based on equally plausible input assumptions means that there is a very high degree of uncertainty, and the differences are due to how different researchers value different input assumptions.

    Personally, I think that the very possibility of anthropogenic climate instability is sufficient reason to scale-back our current experiment in practical climatology. As someone else pointed out here, there are lots of practical benefits to reducing our dependence on fossil fuels that go beyond reducing the risk of accidentally inducing a civilization-ending climate event. Nor is the existence of such events speculation: we know they have happened in the past ten thousand years or so, and there is some indication from ice-core data that they have happened naturally in other inter-glacials.

    So it doesn’t really matter to me that CO2 levels were higher millions of years ago, and frankly I’m not sure what that’s supposed to prove. Dinosaurs walked the Earth millions of years ago too, but that doesn’t mean I’d like to wake up tomorrow and find a T. Rex in my back yard.

    You folks need to learn a very simple truth: a statement is not an argument. Presenting statements as if they were arguments just makes you, and the position you think you’re arguing for, look silly.

  66. Phew, I’ve just read all the posts; a surprisingly well-reasoned debate on both sides (trolls aside) for what is clearly an emotive issue.

    It’s funny how the most emotive issues are the ones that are so much bigger than ourselves that we can only ever see the edges of them.

    Here’s a thought:
    Say the climate is changing in such a way that this little planet will support less human life comfortably within a generation or two.

    Say there might be reason to suspect that some of the more extreme aspects of our behaviour may be contributing factors in this change.

    Wouldn’t it still be sensible to pour the millions of dollars we seem keen to spend to “fix” the problem into raising the living standard of the poorest people on this planet through education and healthcare, so that, as a (within a generation or two) result, there will be fewer people living in the kind of marginalised squalor that climate change is predicted to hurt most?

    By all means step more lightly on this planet, it’s the rational thing to do anyway, but when it comes to Big Fixes, we do seem a little keen to ignore the fact that the bigger part of the human population are still poor, short-lived and that their survival issues, determination to have what we take for granted, and population growth will make a mockery of our efforts to live sustainably.

  67. If climate change is mans fault then how do people explain the medeval warm period followed by the little ice age. I would assume it was the sun, but I am not a climatologist.

  68. You folks need to learn a very simple truth: a statement is not an argument. Presenting statements as if they were arguments just makes you, and the position you think you’re arguing for, look silly.

    Although I agree with your point, I feel compelled to mention that your first phrase is the verbal equivalent of shooting yourself in the foot.

  69. hey u who call yerself bobdobbs, the warming period followed by the the ‘little ice-age’ was caused by a volcanic eruption that spewed enough dust and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as to almost block out the sun for several years, if not a decade! u sir, are not only no climatologist, you are no salesman. and i think that u r a pink! put down that pipe in shame, sir.

  70. Wow – a study on global warming that takes in the changes of an ENTIRE 20 year period! I guess that’s conclusive…

    What about the period between 1600-1700 when sunspots nearly DISAPPEARED and there was a corresponding “mini ice age?”

    No matter, I guess a 20 year study on something that takes decades and decades to make small changes is enough. Let’s keep buying hybrids.

  71. 1. Is global climate change happening? yes/no

    Yes

    2 Should action be taken as a result of global climate change? yes/no

    Yes.

    3. Should we attempt to prevent global climate change? yes/no

    No. Mind you, I don’t say “don’t care about global climate”, but you can’t fix the climate in its current state no matter what. (See 5)

    4. Is global climate change occurring because of human activity? yes /no

    Partly.

    5. Should we increase or decrease the human generated levels of greenhouse gases? yes/no

    We should decrease CO2 emissions because we have good reasons to believe they might do damage if they go unchecked, so, better to keep them in check until we can say what role they play in the “system of the world”. (To borrow that term from Neal Stephenson.)

    Knowledge of the global climate system right now is spotty at best – neither can we predict with accuracy the consequences of a certain amount of extra CO2 released into our atmossphere on its temperature, nor the consequences of the changed temperature on other climatic variables nor the consequences of these consequences on human living conditions. (And ultimately the question is centered on these, isn’t it?) But since those COULD be negative, it seems to be wise to reduce the emission of certain gases and aerosols until our understanding of the climate system is mature enough to determine their effects with any accuracy.

  72. Crap. I messed up my post. Allow me to repost:

    “Bureaucrats the world over are salivating at the possibility of taxing carbon emissions so they can “save us”.

    Right… because nothing makes a politician more popular than raising taxes!

    “Can someone remind me what was the last global problem the bureaucrats were able to solve? (Hint: it the eradication of AIDS, global poverty, malaria, nuclear proliferation, genocide…”

    I wasn’t aware that the free market had found solutions to these problems.

    Silly, uninformed me. I forgot that industrialists are super-competent ubermensches motivated by love of their fellow man, and that the deforestation of the Amazon and the obliteration of the ocean’s fish stocks are the work of diabolical pencil pushers growing fat on taxpayers dollars!

    Also, I wasn’t aware that bureacrats write legislation and pass tax hikes. But hey… don’t let logic deter you from demonizing while segments of populations.

    Really “Good” science states a hypothesis (the world is warming up because…). Then the hypothesis needs to be tested. Over time. A long time.”

    Not always. How long did it take for scientists to prove the feasibilty of nuclear fission? Pretty quick turnaround there.

    Also, much of the support for evolution was there when Darwin and his colleagues were writing. Much of the subsequent evidence has merely confirmed what they established.

    “If climate change is mans fault then how do people explain the medeval warm period followed by the little ice age. I would assume it was the sun, but I am not a climatologist.”

    Well, no, obviously you’re not.

  73. “Climate change denialists.”

    Sorry, sparky. Your point of view is based upon chicken little pseudo-science and goracle agitprop.

    Real science simply doesn’t concur with you.

  74. This story has also been picked up by William M. Connolley at Stoat.

    “The solar folk tend to take this on a long term basis, which is fraught with problems because the cloud obs aren’t good over those scales due to inter-satellite calibration etc etc. But Sloan et al. seem to have decided to take Svensmark seriously (which most people don’t :-) and look to see if short-term cloud changes correlate to short-term changes in cosmic rays (because the mechanism, if it works at all, should also work on short time scales). The result: they don’t, and hence it doesn’t.”

    Direct link to the paper by Sloan and Wolfendale.

    Stoat is a really good resource for facts and not hysteria (from either the left or the right). Link to a Google site based search of Stoat for Svensmark. Svensmark is not well respected, they know what he’s up to and what his agenda is.

    As far as debates goes. I don’t think it’s possible to have genuine debate with the trolls like jlbraun, TJIC, cwilmire or the others. Past experience here and with internet trolls in general shows the futility of that.

    Tom is the only scientist that I am aware of who is posting in this thread. But he is a computational physicist and not a climatologist. I think he deserves some respect. He’s made good contributions to BB and argues honestly. Tom’s objection as I understand it is he doesn’t trust the models because they have to make fine grained assumptions. I guess that is true but I also suspect the the climatologists would reply, as they did to Dyson, that they feel they’re on pretty good ground making those assumptions, i.e. they are based on sound research. Neither Dyson nor Tom are climatologists, they are out of their field.

    The real reason global warming is opposed so vociferously by conservative extremists is because it means an end to the neo-con’s imperialist dreams of empire.

  75. I forgot to add, that CO2 and other gases are not the only human contribution to changes is climate. Deforestation in particular has caused massive changes in climate since ancient times. (This is unrelated to questions of CO2 emissions, plant cover provides shade and reduces evaporation of water on ground level WHILE increasing it overall and thus causing more rainfall. It has been found in one study for example, that the sahara would probably be a savanna in the current climate, if only it had plants on it … catch22)
    Western Europe and mediterranian countries including the fertile crescent (mostly barren these days) used to be covered with forests, so were large parts of Northern America, China, probably India as well. I don’t know about Africa since it has been inhabitated by humans for such a long time. But there were changes on a MASSIVE scale that nobody is talking about.

  76. “What should scare everyone is these WAGs (Worshipers of Al Gore) want to spend MANY TRILLIONS on the THEORY that the earth MIGHT be warming A COUPLE OF DEGREES over the next FEW DECADES!!! And you thought the war was expensive!”

    This is in contrast to the BALs (Bush Ass Lickers) who have already spent MANY TRILLIONS on the war in Iraq over the last FEW YEARS.

    Not to mention you are ignoring a non-trivial body of work showing that it is quite profitable to spend ‘nega-dollars’ and improve efficiency by significant amounts.

  77. “Knowledge of the global climate system right now is spotty at best…”

    I don’t think the world’s climatologists would agree with this. Climatology is not a pseudoscience like astrology, nor is it ignorant of how the biosphere functions.

    “…neither can we predict with accuracy the consequences of a certain amount of extra CO2 released into our atmossphere on its temperature, nor the consequences of the changed temperature on other climatic variables nor the consequences of these consequences on human living conditions.”

    With total accuracy, no… but generally? Yes. Yes, we can. Or at least it seems so to me.

    “Rising temperatures will ramp up the hydrologic cycle… more rain, and more C02 will accelerate plant growth. Global warming could halt desertification and turn the Sahara, the Gobi, and the American Southwest into gardens.”

    At the risk of offending Fightcopyright, I have to point out that at least Bob Dobbs is aware he’s not a climatologist (nor am I, I hasten to add) but it seems that Fightcopyright IS. Or maybe he just slept at a Holiday Inn last night.

    No, no, I kid. He (she?) is as entitled to armchair speculation as any of us.

    But on a philosophical note: it’s EXTREMELY arrogant and rash to assume that we can tamper with an ecosystem that took billions of years to evolve, and that somehow we can make it turn out alright!

  78. I hate to respond to a blatant troll (Tim), but according to a report submitted to Congress: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/natsec/RL33110.pdf

    5 years of Iraq war: ~½ trillion

    According to the International Energy Agency, the costs of meeting the proposal, brought up in Bali last December, are staggering. The IEA says that it would require the construction of 30 new nuclear power plants, 17,000 wind turbines, 400 biomass plants, two hydroelectric dams the size of China’s Three Gorges Dam, and 42 coal fired power plants equipped with still-experimental systems to sequester their carbon-dioxide emissions underground each year from 2013 to 2030. THAT IS JUST ONE DIRECT COST!

    Ina 2007 study, Yale economist William Nordhaus demonstrated that the package of policies advocated by Al Gore would leave the world $44 trillion worse off at the end of the 21st century IN CURRENT DOLLARS!!!

    And talk about a rip-off: CARBON CREDITS!!!
    My wife works at Haleakala National Park. At the book store there, you can “buy carbon credits to offset the carbon that was burned to fly you here (Maui, Hawaii). Now ask ANYONE there where the money goes or what is being done with it. NO ONE KNOWS FOR SURE!

    So instead of someone “selling the Brooklyn Bridge” or “selling oceanfront property in Death Valley”, the “Nigerian Bank scam”, I guess I can start “selling Carbon Credits”

    Send me billions, I’ll plant a bunch of trees and put up windmills………promise……cross-my-heart…

  79. Noen: although it’s true I’m not a climatologist, it’s also true that climatologists are not physicists, and are often not well-versed in fundamentals. Having moved around in various areas of pure and applied physics, I have a bias toward people with a pure physics background. We are less likely to reify model assumptions.

    And climate modelling is nothing but a specialized form of computational physics. Even when you can compute everything almost exactly, as in radiation transport physics, getting differential results within 1% of reality is extremely good, and absolute results are rarely better than 10% unless you add a correction parameter to make them that way, which is what GCMs effectively do.

    While it’s true that models can be tuned to do match the current climate much better than that, it is unrealistic to expect that a model with as many parameters as, for example AM2–which has to have energy conservation imposed internally by hand–will predict changes with very high accuracy when being integrated fifty years out.

    Again: I think we should stop dumping CO2 into the air as if there was no tomorrow, because doing so imposes a very real risk that so far as our civilization is concerned there really will be no tomorrow. But the details of climate modelling are still to my mind extremely suspect.

    Antious: I am large. I contain multitudes.

    Ok, now I’m really done!

  80. > I don’t think the world’s climatologists would agree with this. Climatology is not a pseudoscience like astrology, nor is it ignorant of how the biosphere functions.

    It doesn’t have to be a pseudoscience to be unaccurate. We don’t even know all the rules that govern the system.

    What we do know for sure is, that it is a non-linear system. And just this fact makes a mockery out of most extrapolations. Unless you know the non-linearities (and we don’t) you just can’t predict the effects of a change of variables unless they are small enough to make the system act in a linear way – and they are not. (CO2 concentration rose from 280ppm to 380ppm – is projected to rise to 450 ppm at least and the IPCC has models that would let it rise to 600ppm and more.)

    We can not even program a computer to predict the outcome of a game of go on a standard board. Even though the system is quite limited (boardsize is a mere 361 fields), the rules are extremely simple and algorithms for the solution are known. The game just turns out to be so complex – despite rules that fit on the back of an envelope – that no computer can even get the general drift of a game. (Because the algorithms don’t finish in times significantly less than than the age of the universe.) Otherwise they wouldn’t consistently be beaten by amateur players.

    But even if the effect of CO2 on temperature could be calculated, the next layer is even more complicated. What are the effects of temperature on vegetation, cloudcover, rainfall, snowcover and all their interdependencies? Those effects too are non-linear and not small at all. And it doesn’t stop here, because it still doesn’t answer the most important questions: will the net effects of those changes on human living conditions be positive or negative?

    Just one more point to think about: Given the assumption that warming is negative, would cooling be positive? Given that only the current climate is good for humankind and any deviation bad, what happened in past times when climate changed? Have those changes all been negative for humankind? What reason is there, that a climate that dooms northern Africa to be a desert is supposed to be the best of all possible climates?

    I can only plead ignorance and no scientist can do more than guess the answer to the main question right now. (Positive or negative net impact of global warming.) All I can say is, we should reduce emissions of CO2 until we can deal with this kind of system or gather practical experience by observing the system.

    Point in case: we only know about the extent of ice cover on the north pole since we have satellites that can take photos of it. Those have been around for maybe 30 years – a mere blip for such a massively complex system.

  81. Does anybody here remember the scary predictions made in the 70’s by Paul Erhlich and others? Their detractors were considered by some to be the equivalent of today’s “denialists”.
    Their detractors turned out to be right.

    In regards to global warming, let’s just see what happens. And let’s hope that stupid decisions are not made in the meantime.

  82. Erhlich was, in general, correct. Even though some of his specific predictions were not. The famines and forced migrations did indeed happen, just not in America. I guess if it doesn’t happen to rich white folk it never happened at all.

    Paul Erhlich
    “Dr. Ehrlich reviewed the predictions in his book The Population Bomb in a 2004 interview and the subsequent criticism that followed due to the specificity of the dates in his predictions.[2] He stated that some of his predictions did not occur, but noted that it was still “horrific” that 600 million people were very hungry and billions under- or malnourished He stated that his predictions about disease and climate change were correct.”

    Global cooling
    In his 1968 book “The Population Bomb”, Paul Ehrlich wrote “The greenhouse effect is being enhanced now by the greatly increased level of carbon dioxide… [this] is being countered by low-level clouds generated by contrails, dust, and other contaminants… At the moment we cannot predict what the overall climatic results will be of our using the atmosphere as a garbage dump.”

    Sounds about right.

    “1970s Awareness
    Concern peaked in the early 1970s, partly because of the cooling trend then apparent (a cooling period began in 1945, and two decades of a cooling trend suggested a trough had been reached after several decades of warming), and partly because much less was then known about world climate and causes of ice ages. Although there was a cooling trend then, it should be realised that climate scientists were perfectly well aware that predictions based on this trend were not possible – because the trend was poorly studied and not understood (for example see reference[6]). However in the popular press the possibility of cooling was reported generally without the caveats present in the scientific reports.”

    As today, the press is the main culprit here.

    “In the science series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, physicist Carl Sagan warned of catastrophic cooling through the burning and clear cutting of forests. He postulated that the increased albedo of the earth’s surface might lead to a new ice age. He also mentioned that this may be counteracted and overcome by the release of greenhouse gases.”

    1975 Newsweek article
    “The article emphasized sensational and largely unsourced consequences – “resulting famines could be catastrophic”, “drought and desolation,” “the most devastating outbreak of tornadoes ever recorded”, “droughts, floods, extended dry spells, long freezes, delayed monsoons,” “impossible for starving peoples to migrate,” “the present decline has taken the planet about a sixth of the way toward the Ice Age.”

    On October 23, 2006, Newsweek issued a correction, over 31 years after the original article, stating that it had been “so spectacularly wrong about the near-term future” (though editor Jerry Adler claimed that ‘the story wasn’t “wrong” in the journalistic sense of “inaccurate.”‘)”

    1975 National Academy of Sciences report
    “The 1975 NAS report titled “Understanding Climate Change: A Program for Action” did not make predictions, stating in fact that “we do not have a good quantitative understanding of our climate machine and what determines its course. Without the fundamental understanding, it does not seem possible to predict climate.”

    “This is not consistent with the claims like the SEPP’s (Science & Environmental Policy Project) that “the NAS “experts” exhibited … hysterical fears” in the 1975 report.”

    And so one and so on. The objections of AGW deniers reads exactly like the objections of creationists. The exact same techniques of pulling quotes out of context, fabricating “research” and outright lies is all the same.

  83. http://www.usatoday.com/news/military/2007-10-23-wacosts_N.htm claims a CBO estimate of 2.4T through the next decade (I guess they mean ‘up to the end of this decade’ ?). CBO is hardly an anti-govt. organ.
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2006/jan/07/usa.iraq reports a Noble winning economist claiming the cost between 1 & 2 T.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/03/07/AR2008030702846.html claims 3T.

    Maybe they’re wrong – and maybe they’re right. I doubt it will ever be possible to correctly work it out, even though we’re talking historical figures for which there ought to be actual records of some form.

    Nordhaus claiming to be able to work out the final cost of something over an entire *century* in the future – now that’s trolling. And he did it with a ‘small but comprehensive model’ as well. Funny how a large, heavily researched, well backed up set of models of the climate built by dozens, hundreds, perhaps thousands of researchers, will be derided as merely a guess but Mr Nordhaus’s ‘small but comprehensive model’ is welcomed as the real deal.

    According to http://www.reason.com/news/show/121926.html – a vigourously right wing source – Nordhaus’s claims don’t seem to involve numbers like 44T. I see claims of Stern’s proposal having a net cost of 14T, Gore’s 22T and Nordhaus’ own suggestion claiming a net benefit of 3T (whilst only reducing estimated damage by ~5T instead of the ~12T for the other plans). He does at least proffer the advice that a low-cost minimal carbon technology would be worth 17T.

    And you completely ignored the really sensible, profitable, effective suggestion to consider ‘nega-dollars’. Profit now, benefit now and for the future. Real efficient use of capital, not the panty-waist half-brained feeble-minded capitalism beloved of Wall St. and their coke-addled pushers.

  84. Was there ever a period in human history when we didn’t think that we were all mighty enough to control the weather?

  85. Yes I do remember it. They more or less got things right. Their prediction that oil would peak in 92 was correct for what they knew at the time. Then as now there are others who distort and misrepresent because it is in their interest to do so.

    There are some people who say there is no need to plan ahead for peak oil, climate change, disease and famine. That we can just rush headlong and keep using natural resources because human demand will create what we need out of thin air. These people are called conservatives.

    There is another group of people who feel we should plan ahead, not consume to excess and distribute our natural wealth fairly. These people are called liberals.

    The mind boggles.

  86. Don’t assume that all global warming “denialists” are also creationist types. I’m skeptical about the global warming thing, and I am also an atheist who despises the creationist kind of mentality.
    Just thought I’d share…

  87. Noen: Erhlich pronouncing on the accuracy of his own predictions is a bit like those delightful cases where the cops do something nasty, investigate themselves, and much to everyone’s astonishment find themselves not guilty. Or, say, Big Oil investigating climate change and finding Everything is Just Fine. :-P In fairness, Erhlich has always been such a polarizing figure I don’t know where you’d look for anything resembling a dispassionate assessment, but I’m damned sure his own will be amongst the top contenders for high favourable bias.

    In my understanding, fewer people are hungry today than ever before, and the largest mass migration in world history is taking place right now in China due to an economic boom, not famine. Which sounds like the opposite of what Erhlich predicted, despite the high environmental and human costs of what is actually happening.

    Takuan: I’m glad you mentioned that. I just had a look at my copy of “Limits to Growth” and am amused to see their predictions for nuclear power, which should be about almost 1 TW in the US right now according to their predictions. As it happens, actual capacity in the US today is just over 100 GW. Oops.

    Curiously, the Club of Rome got atmospheric CO2 just about dead on, at 380 ppm in 2000. This is uncanny, given their model assumes the widespread use of nuclear power. It’s almost as if the nutjobs who suggest that CO2 released by the oceans is the primary atmospheric source were right (which I’m very sceptical of!) Or more plausibly that the “morons” like Julian Simon were right, and human technological innovation was able to utilize power way more efficiently after the oil shock of 1973.

    Erhlich and the Club of Rome et al were sincere in their concerns, but were statists to the core in their beliefs about how to best deal with the end of the anomalous period of human history that has been the industrial revolution. They correctly pointed out “we can’t go on like this forever” but complete missed the boat on how the future is likely to play out because they radically underestimated human adaptivity.

    This is not necessarily a good thing, because some of that adaptivity has involved keeping the price of business-as-usual much lower rather than letting prices rise and making more sustainable adaptations. But the fact that the Club of Rome were wildly wrong over a period of thirty years modelling a system that is considerably simpler and better understood than the Earth’s climate is a cautionary tale for all who would seek certainty where there is none.

    Ok, now I’m REALLY done.

  88. Re: manicbassman, post #6


    One factor that doesn’t get mentioned much is the solar systems’ passage through the different arms of the galaxy… those density waves don’t stay put going round the galaxy at the same rate as the stars do… who’s to say whether we haven’t recently passed through a slightly denser patch that caused the solar heliopause to get pushed in and resulted in more cosmic rays getting through to form clouds…

    The reason it doesn’t get mentioned much is that it’s bollocks.

  89. Jeff, Post #8:

    “Really “Good” science states a hypothesis (the world is warming up because…). Then the hypothesis needs to be tested. Over time. A long time. Until then, global warming is a theory that seems to make sense, but it’s only just a theory.

    “What happens if there is a 15% increase in volcanic activity over the next 100 years? Guess we’ll have to see what happens in the next 100 years to find out. That’s how science works.”

    Nonsense. Were that the case we would not have sciences of astronomy and cosmology for starters. You seem to be confusing hypotheses and theories.

    “I predict an Ice Age is coming. “They” were saying that less than 30 years ago. Guess what, “They” were wrong. People are such lemmings.”

    Well-known to be a myth, by anyone who’s been paying attention anyway. Insofar as lemmings are popularly believed to blind hurl themselves to their destruction from cliffs, the comparison with humanity is apposite.

  90. Scissorman, Post #15:

    That’s one thing about the global warming debate that I find irksome… on both sides people are looking at a window of time that is so minute as to be statistically irrelevant when compared to the length of time the Earth and Sun have been interacting with one another, and then trying to pin the results on human activity.

    For statistically useful direct measurements of climate variables(which actually extend back further than you’d think – several centuries, and there are plenty of incomplete or regionally limited records before then) you’re right that the data cover a very short period relative to the Earth’s history.

    However, there is a substantial and well-established science of paleo-climatology that (amongst other techniques) uses proxies for various climate variables. For instance, the ratios of specific isotopes of carbon in sea-floor sediments work as a proxy for atmospheric temperatures. (Obviously the temporal resolution decreases as the records get older – sediments that have been lying below five miles of water for hundreds of thousands of years will tend to form very thin layers.) And so on and so forth.

    There are also more direct proxies, such as polar ice cores which actually contain minute bubbles of atmospheric gases which can be measured directly. This is why thousands of grad students spend months living in steel huts in a desolate, howling wilderness for months at a time for. (And when their grant applications are approved, they get to visit Antarctica as well! =) )

    Naturally these data sources are useless unless they can be calibrated and compared with the historical record, and indeed other sources of proxy data that overlap; this is a discpline in itself.

    Secondly, what you refer to as “pinning the blame on humans” is called by climatologists “detection and attribution”. First you detect a signal in the noise of climate records. Then you seek to attribute that to a causative agent. In this case, a human contribution has been unambiguously detected and attributed to anthropogenic CO2 emissions.

  91. KyleJBritt, Post #17:

    There really are so many unknown factors that cause climate change

    Were that the case, GCMs (global circulation models – “computer predictions”, if you will, based on our current understanding of factors that cause climate change) would not be able to ,a href=””>reproduce the historical record so accurately. (warning – longish PDF – see, e.g., FAQ 6.1 .)

  92. Tom, post#32 (or @32 :) )


    Either increased levels of anthropogenic CO2 will increase the heat content of the atmosphere and oceans, which will result in what I’m going to call “Direct Climate Change”, or the climate will respond in ways that keep the heat content more-or-less constant, which will result in “Indirect Climate Change.”

    Not quite sure what you mean by “keep the heat content more-or-less constant”. The global climate is considered as one system. The oceans, atmosphere etc have a certain capacity to absorb energy – the solar energy input. That energy has to “go somewhere” – the only way it could not affect the climate would be if it were re-radiated out to space at a higher rate (and radiation don’t work that way – see Planck, et al.) This is really well understood physics, which is what I was getting at in #28. If electromagnetic radiation (such as the heat we get from the sun) didn’t work like this, then -well, for starters, digital electronics wouldn’t work, but on a more basic level the universe we live in wouldn’t work, because matter would never condense out of the fireball following the big bang, so no galaxies, stars, supernovae, and thus no metals or anything else except hydrogen and helium in the universe. Which would be dull :)

  93. Re: #45, postted by reptiles_and_samurai:

    since we can barely predict the weather accurately (wasn’t it supposed to rain this week in northern california?), I reserve the right to be suspicious of even the most convincing-sounding science that points to the polar ice caps turning into saunas thanks to cow farts.

    There is a difference between “climate” and “weather”. A little climatology 101:

    http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/pale/ctl/digging_weather.html

    http://weathereye.kgan.com/cadet/climate/climate_vs.html

    http://www.gcrio.org/gwcc/booklet1.html

  94. JLBaun, #62:

    I could care less, I don’t even own a car.

    I bet you use electricity, though. And I bet you posess lots of stuff that costs a lot of energy to manufacture and ship to you.

    The question of what to do about it – or rather, how to slow or stop the increase in atmospheric CO2 – is of course secondary to the whole straw man argument that the science is somehow faked. The science is well established and not in dispute outside of supermarket tabloids and crank blogs. What to do about it seems to boil down to technological answers and/or changed human behaviour. The former is a last straw to clutch at. The price mechanism is pretty much the only way to change behaviour in any but the most jack-booted of authoritarian regimes. People don’t really want to bite the bullet not because they don’t want change, but because they don’t want their standard of living to fall if they can possibly avoid it. Sadly I fear that this is the factor that will prevent effective action taking place at all; we’ll just muddle through with a few million dead here from famine, a couple of hundred thousand in a flood there, and a few hundreds of millions of economic refugees from the flooded coastal cities. Seeing the amount of straw-clutching and basic ignorance on show here, a forum which definitely over-represents the smarts and knowledge of the general public, frankly makes me despair for the future of our civilisation.

  95. Imipak @109:

    Plank does not matter
    if radiation reflects.
    Google albedo

    Ok, it should be Stephan-Boltzmann, but have you ever tried to compose a haiku with “Stephan-Boltzmann” in it? Hmm…

    Stephan-Boltzmann says
    nothing about summer clouds
    reflecting the light

  96. “What should scare everyone is these WAGs (Worshipers of Al Gore) want to spend MANY TRILLIONS on the THEORY that the earth MIGHT be warming A COUPLE OF DEGREES over the next FEW DECADES!!! And you thought the war was expensive!”

    I think that people have a really poor grasp on what exactly ‘A few degrees’ actually means, in terms of a global mean temperature. Climate change is not -Just- warming – Some areas experience cooling. So a two degree rise could mean a rise of as much as 4 degrees for an areas average temps. And possibly 6 degrees difference between adjacent areas in the atmosphere.

    Two degrees can have a large impact on specific weather phenomenon. The problem is that some of these examples sound silly and alarmist, but a lot of people won’t give any credence to global climate change until we see, say, a foot rise in sea level, or hurricanes hitting Houston, or other equally strange phenomenon. By the time these sorts of extremes manifest in coming decades, if people finally sit up and notice these effects, then we’ll be that much farther behind in changing them. The Earth’s weather system does not react -now- to what we put in the atmosphere, it is a gradual and continual change, and when you mess up the equilibrium of these cycles, they could take centuries to correct themselves, and even then they’ll likely stabilize at a different location.

  97. My point, #110, is that science is imperfect in many areas.

    But thanks for assuming I’ve confused the two anyway. Ya know how we “denialists” are complete idiots and all…

  98. “Deniers” is a good word to use in this case. There’s a group of people who go beyond reasonable scientific debate.

    Sure, there’s plenty of research that’s left to be done on the climate, but at this point new research needs to be viewed in the context of the overwhelming evidence that we’re to blame and need to act fast.

    Handy resources for dealing with the denier types:

    – Gristmill’s, “How to talk to a climate skeptic“.

    – New Scientist’s “Climate change: A guide for the perplexed

    – The RealClimate blog – Has a good post on Svensmark’s work

    DeSmogBlog – Tracks denier’s PR.

  99. Nn,

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  100. JlBraun, if it isn’t happening lying to people to get them to pay for something they don’t need is immoral.

    No Retiles, your point wasn’t that the science is imperfect.

    “I also happen to believe the Earth’s climate is subject to change no matter what we try to do about it. And since we can barely predict the weather accurately…”

    You are clearly confusing weather with climate while rejecting global warming. Try again.

  101. When many many people share a single idea, I got really worry!

    Whatever the cause of global warming, or what ever geen is about:

    Now, too many people are getting into this business not because they knew about it, they care about it but IT BENEFIT them.

    When even a child are talking global warming and nobody talk about the weather history of our globe, and people repeat other’s talk as if they knew it very well.

    I especially worry human TAKE actions, especially drastic actions to FIX what they think were problem. Like what they have done in oil.

    Really, the spirit of boingboing is about? To lost in the mad mind of all humans or remain sound by oneself?

    I got really worry when people get into a single mind, that is crazy? People just lost their mind, by simply repeating others as their own.

  102. 119 posts!

    I have to admit, I did not read all of them… I like to think I have a life aside from the computer but I am very impressed at the capacity of people discussing, debating, having an over all conversation about this.

    Do you think possibly the people in our government could have such an open conversation? Do you think anyone could come up with a solution that doesn’t cost us millions and isn’t one sided?

    Is the United States in our over zealous-ness to remain as we are, trying to over compensate for all the countries that are not doing anything about the “Global warming” theory. (I’m still a doubter but I think there is no harm in some preliminary planning)

    I think the “scare tactic” is proof that it is NOT all together an “eminent” danger, needs more research and that the people (Al Gore) involved are hiding some important facts. I don’t believe at this point it can be proven or disproven but I do believe it is being blown out of proportion to the benefit of someone’s pocket book.

    I’m sorry.

    Penguins at the south pole (according to “March of the Penguins”) walk 75 miles to lay their eggs each year. When the babies are ready to swim several months later the ocean is at their front door…. each year 75 miles of ice melts? Explain that. And God Bless us all

  103. Geez if you just look at a 500 year temperature graph you’ll note this isn’t the first time earths climate has changed noticably. Not you mention no one ever talks about the earths weakening magnetic field? That could easily cause some increase in cosmic rays effecting cloud cover. And why is it you hear people wailing about global warming and then the same people will turn around and tell us we may be approaching a small ice age? WFT!

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