The 35th anniversary of global warming

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83 Responses to “The 35th anniversary of global warming”

  1. Stefan Jones says:

    Cinematic scoop:

    In Soylent Green (but not the book on which it was based), Edgar G. Robinson’s character “Sol” bitches about how the greenhouse effect makes it stinking hot all of the time.

    Of course, in the actual 21st century we have real things to worry about, like the Ground Zero Mosque and Death Panels.

  2. Anonymous says:

    That’s a *great* image. -v

  3. Anonymous says:

    What’s scary about then and now is how heated the debate gets when talking to right-wingers. I grew up in a fundamentalist family, so I had to endure a John Birch Society Summer Camp back in ’83. We were shown a few films and given a lot of literature on how Global Warming was a reality, and that there were human forces who wanted to destroy the Earth for their own gain. Times have definitely changed.

    • Nadreck says:

      Yes, well remember that the Left and the Right swapped positions on just about everything the day after 9/11.

    • AndrDrew says:

      I’d kind of love it if someone found those old films. They deserve to be preserved! I can’t find any on the ‘Tubes, though.

  4. Patrick Dodds says:

    But Ito, they are exactly that.

    • Ito Kagehisa says:

      No they aren’t. My own religious beliefs are in perfect accordance with scientific observation and reasoning. If they weren’t, my religion would be false, so I would change it.

      Some religions contradict science, and indeed many contradict observable reality. But this is not a characteristic of all religions or of religion as a whole. False categorization is not scientific.

      Remember, Einstein was a theist, and Lysenko was an atheist.

      When you let one religion’s doctrine substitute itself for all religion in your mind, you are doing their work for them. You are letting them dictate your perception of reality.

      • travtastic says:

        May I ask what religion you subscribe to? Because if you really do mean that, you’re confusing ‘religion’ with ‘philosophy’.

        • Ito Kagehisa says:

          I’m a pantheist, an ordained minister, and I attend a Unitarian Universalist Church where I am currently a sexton (that’s the guy that fixes stuff). I used to help teach Sunday school and sometimes I still do if more qualified people are not available.

          But honestly I had hoped to prevent this from becoming the 10,000th BoingBoing thread that degenerated into atheists roundly condemning all belief systems but their own.

          If you would like to attend a church that does require your religion to contradict science, look up the local Unitarian Universalists. They will mostly treat you the same regardless of what dogma you believe; plenty of my co-religionists are atheists. And you’re as likely to find enlightenment there as anyplace else.

          Can we get back to talking about climate change now? I’ll start:

          I don’t like to say “global warming” because it is one symptom of a larger problem, namely climate disruption by pollution. I think when you use the jargon of your opponents it strengthens their arguments.

          • Anonymous says:

            I don’t like to say “global warming” because it is one symptom of a larger problem, namely climate disruption by pollution.

            But global warming specifies a particular type of disruption, very different from ozone depletion, local cooling caused by aerosols, and so on. I think the examples given up top are enough to show the name wasn’t invented by its opponents; should they get to steal it?

          • Ito Kagehisa says:

            But global warming specifies a particular type of disruption, very different from ozone depletion, local cooling caused by aerosols, and so on. I think the examples given up top are enough to show the name wasn’t invented by its opponents; should they get to steal it?

            That’s true, but look at the discourse: First they say “global warming isn’t happening”. Then after it’s shown that it is, they say “global warming isn’t caused by humans”. Then after it’s shown that it is, they say “global warming will be good for crops”. It’s fighting on a battlefield of the oil companies’ choosing, where they can avoid talking directly about the evil that they are profiting from.

            I think that if you say “turning a profit by sucking up valuable lubricants from beneath public land, converting them into poison, and forcing everyone’s children to breath those poisons is evil and wrong” it confronts the real issue much more directly, and perhaps we can get people to see the real issue regardless of what the oil shills say.

          • Anonymous says:

            The problem is it doesn’t confront the issue at all. A clean burning fossil fuel, like natural gas, can be used in a way that demonstrably won’t produce any toxins. Oil companies can justifiably accuse you of lying if you say it does.

            But it will still produce greenhouse gases, and ultimately can wreck the climate because of it. Because that’s a slower process, oil companies can always claim it isn’t happening, isn’t caused by humans, and would be beneficial anyways, no matter what you call it.

            The only thing you can do is try to educate: global warming is a real problem. I think that would only be confused by changing terminology, especially since it could easily be seen as scientists admitting fault or engaging in political maneuvering.

          • Ito Kagehisa says:

            The problem is it doesn’t confront the issue at all. A clean burning fossil fuel, like natural gas, can be used in a way that demonstrably won’t produce any toxins. Oil companies can justifiably accuse you of lying if you say it does.

            You make a very good point. The argument against releasing geologically sequestered carbon has to be presented without making it dependent on toxicity, since there are some (relatively) non toxic means of polluting the atmosphere, and your audience might not accept that carbon dioxide is a toxin in large doses.

            But I can easily modify my example talking point to cover your concern: “turning a profit by removing valuable hydrocarbons that were safely stored beneath the earth, destroying them by burning, and forcing everyone’s children to breath the exhaust is evil and wrong”. Or “burning fossil fuels releases billions of tons of pollution into the atmosphere – do you think it’s fair to our children to change the atmosphere they will have to breathe when we can’t even predict the weather more than a week or so in advance?” You have to pitch it to your audience, who may or may not be aware that wood is a carbon-neutral fuel, and that burning coal releases more radioactivity than a properly functioning nuclear plant, etc. etc. etc..

          • travtastic says:

            Don’t forget coal!

          • Ito Kagehisa says:

            carp… sed ‘s/does require/does NOT require/’ previous post replying to travtastic.

            Although actually it works OK either way…

          • travtastic says:

            In what way is pantheism a disprovable hypothesis?

            The lack of a creator-god doesn’t make your particular mysticism rational. In fact, it really gets to my whole point. Religion as a general rule will be forever pulling back from itself when faced with debunking. Pantheism just happens to be the whole way back.

            To say that ‘god is the universe’ is the logical equivalent of saying ‘all is all’.

            It literally, mathematically, is a meaningless statement.

            That being said, you’re more than welcome to believe in folklore AND trust in scientific fact. But that (I mean no offense, honestly) is nothing more than the measure of your cognitive dissonance on the subject. Science is provable and repeatable. Religion is defined by it’s opposition to scientific principles. We can’t really debate this too much more, because it really is just what the words and actions mean.

            I can appreciate some of the sentiments and moral stands of some religions. I consider myself a philosophical Buddhist on many accounts…but I am a materialist. I don’t try to follow mindful living because it’s truth, but because I think it’s right. To believe in unknowable powers is to disbelieve in science. You genuinely just have to choose, if you’re interested in being internally consistent.

          • travtastic says:

            Also, please, please, please:

            plenty of my co-religionists are atheists.

            Atheism is not a religion, not related to religion, does not follow religious principles, and is not even really a coherent thought process.

            Atheism is in fact a concept solely defined by other people’s religious leanings. It is definied in the negative sense.

            “Atheism is a religion like not collecting stamps is a hobby.”

      • David A says:

        No Einstein was not a theist.

        “The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weakness, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish.”
        -Albert Einstein

        http://www.nytimes.com/2008/05/17/science/17einsteinw.html?_r=1

        • Ito Kagehisa says:

          “I believe in Spinoza’s God who reveals himself in the orderly harmony of what exists, not in a God who concerns himself with fates and actions of human beings.”

          Albert Einstein, upon being asked if he believed in God by Rabbi Herbert Goldstein of the Institutional Synagogue, New York, April 24, 1921, published in the New York Times, April 25, 1929; from Einstein: The Life and Times, Ronald W. Clark, New York: World Publishing Co., 1971, p. 413; also cited as a telegram to a Jewish newspaper, 1929, Einstein Archive 33-272, from Alice Calaprice, ed., The Expanded Quotable Einstein, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000, p. 204.

          • travtastic says:

            I would really have to see a lot more context on that quote and how he meant it. Depending on your view, it could be taken to mean that he is a deist, or that his ‘god’ is science. The latter simply being a semantics-laden approach to declaring agnosticism.

  5. sporkinum says:

    http://blog.modernmechanix.com/2006/07/07/carbon-dioxide-causes-global-warming-1932/
    “Carbon Dioxide Heats the Earth
    DR. E. O. HULBURT, physicist of the naval research laboratory, Washington, has found conclusive mathematical evidence that the earth’s temperature is being warmed by the increased amount of carbon dioxide present in the air. Smoke stacks emit huge volumes of this gas, which is also found in the breath and waste products of humans and animals.”

  6. Melanie says:

    Imagine how different the world would be if we had taken these concerns to heart and made better choices 35, 50, or over 100 years ago (depending on your idea of who was first).

    Imagine how different the wold would be in 35, 50, or over 100 years if we took the concerns to heart and made better choices now.

  7. Ito Kagehisa says:

    A long time ago I attended a lecture by George Woodwell, who was introduced by Ruth Patrick.

    Dr. Patrick, who was probably in her 80s at the time (she’s 102 now I think) told me a number of flattering and unflattering things about Dr. Woodwell. One of them was that he’d invented the term “global warming”. I can’t remember for sure if he admitted that he’d invented it, but he agreed he’d popularized the term, and he said it was the worst thing he’d ever done in his lengthy scientific career. That has stuck with me over time, and probably has a lot to do with why I don’t like to use the phrase.

    Nowadays Woodwell’s concerned that some models show a possible sudden rapid cooling event – if the global average temperature continues to rise, the “North Atlantic Heat Pump” could shut down and make the USA noticeably colder. See the FAQ at Woods Hole for more info on that:

    http://www.whoi.edu/page.do?pid=12455&tid=282&cid=10149#ocean_5

  8. mikeout says:

    I was watching Carl Sagan’s Cosmos recently. One episode (#4, Heaven and Hell) warned of the dangers of global warming by showing us how Venus reached searing temperatures with its runaway greenhouse effect from so much CO2 in the atmosphere. He compared that with CO2 emissions here on Earth as a warning of having too much of a good thing. It was filmed in 1979.

  9. trent1492 says:

    Did anybody actually read at least to the second paragraph?

    He wasn’t the first to predict that rising CO2 levels in the atmosphere would alter climate patterns, but, explains scientist Stefan Rahmstorf, Broecker was the first to take predictions of CO2-linked warming and put them into the context of other, ongoing, climate trends—coming to the conclusion that the cooling experienced from the 1940s through the 1970s was about to reverse itself in a big way.

  10. tubacat says:

    Yeah, 35 years sounded too recent to me too. After all, 42 years ago my 8th grade science fair project was a (very crude) experiment involving two glass jars, a candle and a thermometer, and since I’m no genius, I must have gotten the idea of the “greenhouse effect” from somewhere…

    But the article is fascinating – thanks!

  11. Doug Sharp says:

    My father, Jack Sharp, was an Air Force meteorologist and climatologist who was proud to have helped establish baseline measurements of carbon dioxide by taking high altitude air samples over the Pacific in 1958 as part of an IGY (International Geophysical Year) project. He took off from Fairbanks and flew to Hawaii in the nose of a B-50, attaching vacuum flasks to an external probe to take the samples. He wrote about carbon dioxide sampling in this chapter of his book Cold Fronts: http://www.awra.us/coldfronts/cf_ch4.html

    “Our data showed that in 1958, the average amount of CO2 in the Northern Hemispheric atmosphere was approximately 312 parts per million (ppm). Keeling reported in 1960 that this amount was increasing 1.4 ppm annually in the Northern Hemisphere and 1.2 ppm in the Southern Hemisphere. This trend continues.”

  12. Anonymous says:

    Global warming was invented 10 years earlier in the PK Dick book 3 stigmata of palmer eldritch,nobody cared then apparently. High I guess?

    • Anonymous says:

      That lecture is a wonderful hit-job. Instead of looking at evidence directly, you look at a completely different situation that didn’t have such solid evidence. And you find similarities, because both have a political side, but you can imply those similarties are because neither has a scientific side.

      A quick look-up of climate change on google scholar would show how utterly false that is, but Crichton can trust that his audience won’t care. Oh, and did we mention that second hand smoke isn’t bad for you, and that scientists have been unfair to the creationists? If only the intelligentia would shut up and let money and faith run things!

  13. Anonymous says:

    OSHA: 30,000 PPM unhealthy, 100,000 ppm lethal, I so scared. We are so more likely to die from the ambient level of around 250-400 ppm rising world wide to 100,000, a 100 fold increase, than almost anything else, the most dangerous thing people do is day to day is combustion, nothing else is wrong with our species, if we could just figure this out!!! We’d be fine. I so sure. –Jung Soo Kim

  14. BlackPanda says:

    I did, but wasn’t going to reply, since there would only be a hysterical response and probably vile personal attacks.

  15. nutbastard says:

    “I want to pause here and talk about this notion of consensus, and the rise of what has been called consensus science. I regard consensus science as an extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped cold in its tracks. Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you’re being had.

    Let’s be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world.

    In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus. There is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. Period.

    …I would remind you to notice where the claim of consensus is invoked. Consensus is invoked only in situations where the science is not solid enough.

    Nobody says the consensus of scientists agrees that E=mc2. Nobody says the consensus is that the sun is 93 million miles away. It would never occur to anyone to speak that way.”

    • Anonymous says:

      “In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results.”

      This is directly contradictory. For results to be reproduced, at least one other person has to do them. That then means there has to be consensus between the original researcher and the verifier as to whether the results have or have not been reproduced. The more parties involved, and the more data points gathered, of course, the better, the more likely accuracy becomes.

      Mr. Crichton was an OK novelist, and, given how many have taken up this quote, a middling polemicist.

      He wasn’t a good source for logic, though.

    • Ito Kagehisa says:

      Nobody says the consensus of scientists agrees that E=mc2. Nobody says the consensus is that the sun is 93 million miles away. It would never occur to anyone to speak that way.

      I get 5,700 hits on Google for “the consensus of scientists agrees that E=mc2.”

      But admittedly they are all channelling a science fiction writer well known for a lack of contact with consensus reality.

      NB, I personally investigated the science of climate change over 15 years ago by obtaining and correlating the data available to me as a staff member at the Academy of Natural Sciences. I found the evidence extremely convincing and that the claims made in my presence by scientists from Woods Hole and NOAA were completely supported by the data. I am not believing in “consensus of scientists” or “corporate propaganda” – I have actually reduced the data myself on a PDP-11/34 computer. That’s science. I consider myself a scientist.

      What’s the source of your own beliefs? Have you compared the tree ring data, ice core data, and Mauna Loa data with historical records?

      I ask this because your previous post makes some statements I approve of – basically, that science involves reproducible results. And the science of climate change relies on reproducible analysis of records sourced from different people in different disciplines.

    • Anonymous says:

      Funny, it occurs to me to speak that way exactly whenever someone disputes the idea that E=mc^2, but refuses to discuss the particulars of why we think so. Which is exactly what’s happened in global warming: people happily quote Michael Crichton as a source, and misinterpreted articles as sources, but give them any of the huge body of published literature on the subject and they just ignore it as a single “opinion”. How does one properly disagree with that sort of movement?

    • trent1492 says:

      @nutbar,

      How about a consensus of evidence?

  16. bascule says:

    I like how the earth as egg graphic shows the earth not only broken but actually on fire. Hilarious

    • greebo says:

      …although not perhaps so hilarious to those people in the parts of the world that *are* actually on fire, like say, Moscow, or British Columbia. How much has to burn before you get it?

      I think the problem with Broecker’s term “global warming” is that it really doesn’t get across what we’re really doing to the system – all that extra energy slopping around. The entire globe’s weather system is essentially one big pump, moving heat from those parts of the world that absorb more than they emit (the equatorial regions) to those that emit more than they absorb (the poles). You crank up the amount of energy this system has to deal with and what you get is not so much a “warming” as massive disruption to existing climactic states. “Climate disruption” would have been a much better term: http://www.easterbrook.ca/steve/?p=1677

  17. Anonymous says:

    I believe that Aliens and oil dragons are the culprits for Global warming! And that it actually exists in Big-time ways we are not always aware of!
    Putting a stop to it is asking people to find their spirit connections to Mother Earth soon, and often, if you can, to really know we are trying to be conscientious Non-polluters.
    The Great Plastic gere scares me into action! Why doesn’t that scare others!? The refuse is appalling, and we are going to clean our way back to the Oceania of happiness as soon as people realize their connections are like a tide of plastic death, that will swallow them whole, if they do not respond and know how to take action to protect their happiness’s.
    All ages are welcomed by the spirit, to clean a path to God, and the higher realms of existence.
    It is a natural selection of tools for the future that we are putting together. I am going to be ready for it! I hope you will see to a way to cause a plastic free day This week!
    I am going to head into it, with straight and narrow paths of building a fiberglass workshop! For the future of plastics with a meaning to life, not for discarding as trash or careless- consuming! And I’m just starting out! It’s not possible to feed myself at the present time with out plastics in the proper sense! Plastics in improper sense is like Plastics to the -5th power!
    The Plastiki is giving us away to gauge our plastic worlds into ship shape for the future. As a graph of what is possible, They are saying the world is being “an impossible giant Baby” “BP” who won’t learn to pick up after itself.!
    What Am I going to Do about that? “I am going to build a Raft(Trimaran) of oilskins and melted down Sands to release my frustrations about pollution in the world.com. It is the least that i can do with the captaining skills and boat experiences. Cap Dinogator Nav persona

  18. GeorgeStanton says:

    “correctly predicted the carbon dioxide-linked warming trends”

    This is a subject of considerable scientific debate.

    compare:

    http://solarphysics.livingreviews.org/Articles/lrsp-2008-3/fig_15.html

    http://www.aip.org/history/climate/xmillenia.htm

    It’s likely that climate change is due primarily to solar variation. CO2 levels might even be partially a side-effect as ocean CO2 retention efficiency varies with temperature. As far as I know, solar variations are not taken into account by climate models because we don’t know how to predict them yet.

    • PaulR says:

      Interesting: as per the second link you supplied, it’s not quite “It’s likely that climate change is due primarily to solar variation”

      You can read the whole page, it only takes a few seconds.

      The main highlight:
      By 2006 even skeptics agreed with the authors’ basic conclusion that “late 20th century warmth is unprecedented.” The recent steep rise could only be explained as a consequence of the equally steep rise of greenhouse gas emissions.
      [Emphasis mine]

      • GeorgeStanton says:

        PaulR, see comment #28.

        Maybe it would be polite to assume that people you disagree are not necessarily idiots, or at least that they can read. Who cares what the caption says? Next time I’ll find a figure without a caption that way we can all think for ourselves.

        • Antinous / Moderator says:

          You do know that anyone can click on your name and see your comment history? Defending torture, defending Glenn Beck, defending corporations buying the government with donations. You’re a veritable right-wing meme machine.

          • GeorgeStanton says:

            Antinous, I have no problem with people seeing my comment history. I think if they look they’ll see you’re exaggerating a bit. I stand by what I’ve said. Your comments show that you take mostly Left-Wing positions. I doubt you’re insulted if someone points that out. What’s your point?

        • Anonymous says:

          Who cares what the caption says?

          If you don’t trust the experts to interpret the data, why do you trust what they’ve gathered? Both involve statistical analysis.

        • Anonymous says:

          When the text is a conclusion based on statistics that are hard to see just from glancing at a chart, you’d think it would matter what it said.

    • Nelson.C says:

      Can you call it revisionism if it’s contemporary rather than historical material that’s being mis-represented?

      George, there is a broad scientific consensus on the subject of climate change, which is that it is happening. There’s debate over details, of course, because it’s a big subject, but “considerable scientific debate” is simply not true.

      And did you read those links you pasted in? The first is talking mainly of the frequency of solar events in deep time, that is, over billions of years, and says nothing about the Sun warming over centuries.

      And the second actually says:

      By 2006 even skeptics agreed with the authors’ basic conclusion that “late 20th century warmth is unprecedented.” The recent steep rise could only be explained as a consequence of the equally steep rise of greenhouse gas emissions.

      I know BoingBoing commenters are notorious for not reading links, but you’re insulting even us. Did you think no-one would read your links?

      • Charlotte Corday says:

        There is a reasonably well established consensus that

        (1) the planet is somewhat warmer than historical patterns would indicate,
        (2) this is correlated with the increased usage of fossil fuels, and
        (3) there is science which adds causation to the correlation of (1) and (2).

        The consensus seems less established on the further questions of

        - How bad will it get? and
        - What action is required to stop or reverse the trend?

        ….which two questions are very much connected to one another.

        For example, if I’m told that the projected temperature rise over the next 150 years is something between 1 degree Celsius (likely tolerable) and 10 degrees Celsius (obviously cataclysmic), that’s like telling me that the chance of my house being hit by a tornado in the next year is something between 1 in 50,000 and 1 in 2.

        The actions I will take are very different depending upon where I place myself on that risk continuum.

        I don’t question the science based on historical climate data. I do question the application of the so-called “precautionary principle” as a mandate for extensive and immediate action.

        I recognize that there is a chance that I’ll be struck on the noggin by a meteorite as I walk down the street. I’ll not deny the science that tells me this is so. Nonetheless, I’m willing to venture out of my house without a steel helmet.

        • Anonymous says:

          Did you know science can also give you the chances of different outcomes? For instance, it tells you not to worry much about meterors, whereas for global warming it gives some pretty serious outcomes as reasonably likely.

          If our best predictions of the future aren’t a mandate for action, what is?

        • anwaya says:

          Mademoiselle Corday,

          Since you have made the case for anthropogenic global warming, you might also deduce that the difference between temperature rises of 1 Celcius and 10 Celcius in years to come is in part whether or not we take action en masse to reduce our CO2 emissions. This is not a matter of the statistics of rare events, this is the statistics of large populations, and such statistics are good enough to produce the second law of thermodynamics.

          • Charlotte Corday says:

            I have a browser window open to the IPCC 2007 report. On page 14 it shows comparatives for several scenarios.

            Scenario “A1F1″ which appears to be the no-holds barred usage of fossil fuels, shows a possible range of temperature increases from +2C to +6C. That’s a pretty wide range given a fixed CO2 output.

            There are of course other and more favorable scenarios in this report, however, they’re not really well defined in terms of what’s done, where.

            For example, I think an interesting IPCC scenario would be “what happens if the USA adopts the ‘Clean Energy and Security Act’, passed by the House in June 2009, while China and India continue to burn 2.5+ billion tons of raw coal per year?”

            Because that’s exactly the kind of question that Americans will ask.

      • cymk says:

        While I lack links to back up my assertions, astronomers have found the whole solar system has been heating up, not just earth. Just because Co2 levels have been on the rise does not necessarily mean that it is the direct cause of a warming in the climate. In addition, scientists have found via ice core samples that ice ages in the past have been preceded by periods of warming in the climate. To me that suggests a cycle, not a deterioration.

        • trent1492 says:

          @Cymk

          While I lack links to back up my assertions, astronomers have found the whole solar system has been heating up, not just earth.

          I am sorry but that is simply not true.

        • travtastic says:

          In your comment, replace ‘links‘ with ‘evidence‘, and then ‘evidence‘ with ‘pertinence‘. No one cares about The Sarah Palin Cyclic Climate Hypothesis.

      • GeorgeStanton says:

        Nelson, did you look at the figures in the links? Nothing jumps out at you when you look at them? You don’t see the very strong correlation between solar variation and the temperature of the Earth?

        Well, maybe carbon dioxide is leaking into space and heating up the Sun!

        Also, the sun does vary over timescales of centuries. Look up the Maunder and Spoerer minima for examples.

        I don’t see any reason to blindly follow some climate models that don’t even understand the fundamental forcing mechanisms. You get out of models what you put into them.

        • trent1492 says:

          @George Stanton,

          You seem to be utterly unaware that for decades the Sun’s total irradiance has been monitored and the TSI shows no increase and even a slight decrease. Why would you think that the geophysicists of the world would not rule the Sun out?

          • GeorgeStanton says:

            I am well aware of the solar irradiance measurements. I am also aware that such measurements are very uncertain. In particular changes in the far ultraviolet have not been well monitored in the past.

            In any case, what makes you think the earth is influenced by something so simple as solar irradiance? It could be the particle flux influences cloud formation in the atmosphere or some similarly complex interaction. The data clearly shows that there is strong correlation between the Sun’s magnetic activity and the Earth’s climate. Now, maybe it’s a coincidence. But it makes as more sense to me to think the Earth’s climate is varying because the Sun is as to think it’s due to variations in CO2.

          • trent1492 says:

            @George Stanton,

            I am well aware of the solar irradiance measurements. I am also aware that such measurements are very uncertain. In particular changes in the far ultraviolet have not been well monitored in the past.

            Why do you think you just make assertions without a body of empirical evidence? You seem utterly unaware that the Sun has been ruled out as a cause of the modern warming trend by multiple lines of evidence. Here let us take a look at what falsifies the Sun as cause of the current warming trend:

            1. If the Sun was the cause what portion of the atmosphere would you expect to heat up first? The top or bottom parts? The answer is that we could expect the top parts. But we are seeing the opposite. The troposphere is warming while the stratosphere is cooling.

            2.If the Sun is the cause of the warming what part of the Earth would expect to warm up the fastest? Hint: It would be that part which receives the most energy from the Sun. That is we are talking about the Equator. What we are seeing is that the Arctic is warming up at about twice the rate of the rest of the planet.

            3. If the Sun is the cause of the current warming trend would you expect more daily high temperatures to be more broken in the day or night time? Would you seem more warming in the day than the night? Hint the evidence is the opposite of that expectation.

            Each one of the points I brought up is based on empirical peer reviewed evidence.

        • David A says:

          George,
          Perhaps you could explain this then?
          http://imgur.com/Nn9w2.png

          Or how about longer time scales?
          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w5hs4KVeiAU#t=20s

          It’s rather obvious that we got an imbalance of infrared radiation.
          http://www.skepticalscience.com/empirical-evidence-for-co2-enhanced-greenhouse-effect.htm

        • Anonymous says:

          Everybody knows that the sun has a huge influence on Earth’s temperature. It’s something scientists routinely take into account when they do their modeling. The important part, though, is that our climate is changing on top of what you’d expect through solar forcing, as your link supports.

  19. Ito Kagehisa says:

    I’m not going to talk about religion any more in Maggie’s thread. I shouldn’t have risen to Patrick’s bait… pass that bottle over here, Patrick!

    Did y’all know Nickie Tesla said around 1915 that burning fuel was stupid, and that we had to find a source of energy that did not use up resources to assure our future?

    He favored hydro- and geothermal power, and would have probably said the same things about nuclear power that he said about coal and oil – it’s stupid to use stuff up that you can’t easily replace.

    • travtastic says:

      Well it’s more important to fight nuclear for it’s massive toxicity, than for any resource-allocation reasons. The same with fossil fuel: the overwhelming majority of experts will tell you that we’ll destroy the biosphere (as we know it and depend on it) a long time before we actually run out of the stuff.

      • Ito Kagehisa says:

        it’s more important to fight nuclear for it’s massive toxicity, than for any resource-allocation reasons. The same with fossil fuel: the overwhelming majority of experts will tell you that we’ll destroy the biosphere (as we know it and depend on it) a long time before we actually run out of the stuff.

        Totally agree!! and now I must be off. G’night all!

  20. VagabondAstronomer says:

    It was about halfway through my 7th grade year that I first heard the term “greenhouse effect” applied to our environment, courtesy my science teacher. That was around January 1976, and it started when discussing ways that Earth could be imperiled; it was one of the many.
    Of course, at that time, I believed, as many did, that we were headed towards another ice age. It was also at a time when the US was struggling with oil, and that was also a that Detroit was still basically snubbing fuel efficiency standards (and one of the many reasons I think that Japanese imports became so popular, as they were more efficient). Yet I still hear people saying that this is all recent speculation.
    Well, I suppose in geological terms, it is…

  21. Anonymous says:

    It’s easy to forget that “consensus” is a term opponents of global warming introduced: They weren’t going to be satisfied by single studies without one. And now that the scientists do use the word consensus, it proves they’re trying to hide something. I imagine that once scientists stop using the term, they’ll start demanding one again.

    I like the idea that blindly supporting consensus is what Lysenkoism was all about. Because Lysenko totally represented what the majority of contemporary scientists though, rather than using special interests to promote his own anti-consensus theory.

  22. hassenpfeffer says:

    MWAHAHAHA! I, AN OBSCURE MOUNTAIN DEITY FROM THE MIDDLE EAST RAISED THROUGH A SERIES OF HISTORICAL MISHAPS TO BE THE ONE TRUE GOD, LAUGH AT YOUR ATTEMPTS TO KNOW THE UNIVERSE! YOU CAN HAVE KNOWLEDGE ONLY THROUGH ME! TREMBLE IN YOUR IGNORANCE! I DEMAND THE SACRIFICE OF ONE MAMA GRIZZLY AND SEVEN CLOSETED CONSERVATIVE HOMOSEXUALS! AND NONE OF THE UNCLEAN MAY SET FOOT ON THE HALLOWED GROUND ZERO! YOU ARE ALL UNCLEAN!

    /Mom, Ba’al’s hogging the beanbag again!

  23. ADavies says:

    And world governments agreed to do something about it 18 years ago.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Nations_Framework_Convention_on_Climate_Change

  24. JorgeBurgos says:

    One of the more amusing memes that go around from time-to-time is that ‘They’ changed the name from ‘Global Warming’ to ‘Climate Change’.

    However the term ‘Climate Change’ (in respect to modern anthropogenic causes) predates the ‘Global Warming’ term by at least two decades – for example, there is the seminal paper by “The Carbon Dioxide Theory of Climatic Change” by Gilbert Plass 1956.

  25. Patrick Dodds says:

    nutbastard, you say:

    “There is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. Period.”

    Whilst I agree with your point more generally, this specific point seems a bit loosely made. Science helps establish consensus – the earth is round, for example. Whilst of course people used to all think it flat and it was science and individuality that established otherwise, if scientists can get no further than constantly refuting what went before (i.e. trying to now prove the earth is flat, as this is not the consensus), we would never move forward in our understanding. Similarly, if we cannot establish some basic consensus (the earth is round), we can never progress. Thankfully we do of course, as secularisation proves (albeit that there are of course worryingly persistent enclaves hanging on to theism).

    Advance apologies if I have misunderstood you – I am up 1.5 glasses of Chardonnay.

    As to global warming, not enough people give a s**t – check out your local shopping centre, airport or car park.

    • travtastic says:

      There’s an important distinction to make here, though:

      Not enough people give a shit about the abstract-to-them concept of climate change. It’s a small distinction that makes all the difference in the world.

      You’d be hard-pressed to find one case of a person outside the corporate field who is okay with destroying their children’s future, if not even their own. This tells us that it’s not apathy, it’s a lack of understanding, of education.

      That’s something we can theoretically fix. When you realize that, it turns an impossible proposition into one that’s just enormously difficult. But it is workable, and that fact could very well save a lot of lives.

    • Ito Kagehisa says:

      Please don’t start dragging religion into this, as if religion and science were opposing forces.

      There’s enough propaganda in the thread already.

      • travtastic says:

        Science is evidence-based, and religion specifically runs on a lack of evidence. The two always have been, and always will be, opposing forces.

        We’re talking about dictionary definitions. If any religion was provable, it would be science.

        This might be easier if we just replaced ‘religion’ with ‘superstition’. There are too many unearned positive connotations to the concept of religion in world culture. When religion gets to frame the argument in its favor, the odds are stacked against science and reason.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Svante Arrhenius assertation mentions Joseph Fourier (I’m Swedish and I like to read old books and manuscripts). Altough I’m reasonably sure Svante Arrhenius was the first to describe the phenomenon in the terms of a greenhouse.

    It is a shame that the Library of Alexandria was destroyed, or we would likely have found a 2000 year old manuscript describing global warming ;). I’m only half kidding, during the antique the Greeks and Romans where aware that vulcano eruptions and great fires could create a warmer climate, as where the Vikings a couple of hundred years later.

  27. David A says:

    Frankly I’m far more comfortable with the term global warming than climate change.

    Mainly because they are two separate terms.

    Put simply,
    Global Warming = Cause = Now
    Climate Change = Effect = Future

    And it’s a lot more simplistic to say the entire world isn’t sending out enough infrared radiation into space, right now.

    Than it is to calculate the regional impacts of heat distribution, exactly when and where, decades to centuries in the future.

    http://www.reddit.com/r/science/comments/d1ed3/global_warming_will_feature_heavier_rainstorms_in/c0wtzrr

    “Global Warming” is dramatically more simplistic, and obvious.

    • Ito Kagehisa says:

      But that’s not true; “global warming” is not a cause in the sense you are using it.

      Global warming is a phrase describing an upward trend in the globally averaged temperature. It’s a metric, an effect of localized climate changes all over the earth that are caused by pollution.

      Burning fossil fuels causes the release of geologically sequestered carbon into the atmosphere, which changes the earth’s albedo, which causes changes in existing weather patterns, which causes climate change.

      One way of measuring the magnitude of climate change overall is to average the global temperature taken from a set of places where we have a strong historical record. This reveals an upward trend in the average, but some places are actually getting dramatically colder – because what’s changing are the weather patterns.

      Look at it this way: do you get a speeding ticket or a miles per hour ticket? When the judge says you are going to jail, does he say it’s because your speedometer needle moved too high, or does he say you were speeding? He’ll say your speed was a problem, not that the cop’s radar gun reading was a problem.

      Anyway, there are probably thousands of things that could cause global warming to stop or reverse without curing the fundamental problem of pollution caused by burning fossil fuels. I don’t want to make building a sustainable future dependent on a single metric – especially one as over-politicized as global average temperature. So I don’t argue on that basis. I argue against pollution and depletion of resources, and in favor of clean renewable power sources like biologically generated methane. Let the wingnuts rant about global warming as a scientific conspiracy – I can tell Joe Six-pack to stick his faces in his tailpipe and take a deep breath, and Joe will agree with my point that burning fossil fuels is bad.

  28. Alex_M says:

    Actually, the _very_ first scientist to predict CO2 causing global warming was the Swedish chemist/physicist Svante Arrhenius (one of the founders of physical chemistry) all the way back in 1896!

    He of course did not arrive at the theory in its current form, but it’s an oversight not to mention him at all, as they do. Did he predict anthropogenic global warming? On one hand he did not explicitly say that human CO2 burning would cause climate change, but his papers do show he was well aware that human industrial activity was changing the CO2 balance of the atmosphere.

    So with no disrespect whatsoever to Broecker, Arrhenius deserves mention as well.
    (OTOH, Arrhenius was such a distinguished scientist he’d have been famous regardless, for his theory of ions in solution, for his theory of reaction rates, and much else)

  29. Aloisius says:

    Nobody says the consensus of scientists agrees that E=mc2. Nobody says the consensus is that the sun is 93 million miles away. It would never occur to anyone to speak that way.”

    I believe we are all figments of the creator’s imagination and the universe doesn’t actually exist. There is no consensus that we aren’t! Teach the controversy! E=mc^2+i. Teach the controversy! The space between the earth and the sun is warped and not taking into account warped space means the concept of distance is flawed. Teach the controversy!

    Also, a good number of people believe in ghosts! Teach the controversy! And aliens who visit Earth and probe humans for their own pleasure.

  30. Clifton says:

    Beat me to it, Alex_M – I was just signing in to mention Arrhenius.

    However, I can add to your comment that Arrhenius specifically predicted anthropogenic global warming as well, in a 1906 book Världarnas utveckling, translated into English as Worlds in the Making. At that time, with the prehistoric ice ages being a relatively recent discovery, scientists were worried about it recurring, and his assumption was that warming up the world would be a Good Thing.

    That makes this roughly the 104th anniversary of the first scientific prediction of anthropogenic global warming, not the 35th. Who would have thought that the hippie environmentalist conspiracy had time machines, eh?

  31. Anonymous says:

    Actually, all the way back in 1726, Jonathan Swift wrote that the Laputans were unable to sleep at night for fear of the Earth burning up:
    “For if, in its perihelion, it should approach within a certain degree of the sun (as by their calculations they have reason to dread) it will receive a degree of heat ten thousand times more intense than that of red hot glowing iron, and in its absence from the sun, carry a blazing tail ten hundred thousand and fourteen miles long, through which, if the earth should pass at the distance of one hundred thousand miles from the nucleus, or main body of the comet, it must in its passage be set on fire, and reduced to ashes: that the sun, daily spending its rays without any nutriment to supply them, will at last be wholly consumed and annihilated; which must be attended with the destruction of this earth, and of all the planets that receive their light from it.

    They are so perpetually alarmed with the apprehensions of these, and the like impending dangers, that they can neither sleep quietly in their beds, nor have any relish for the common pleasures and amusements of life. When they meet an acquaintance in the morning, the first question is about the sun’s health, how he looked at his setting and rising, and what hopes they have to avoid the stroke of the approaching comet. This conversation they are apt to run into with the same temper that boys discover in delighting to hear terrible stories of spirits and hobgoblins, which they greedily listen to, and dare not go to bed for fear.”

  32. Anonymous says:

    Venus destiny.

  33. David A says:

    Yeah, I’m not quite sure how this paper counts as “first”.

    For instance, here’s a video from 50 years ago on the subject.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0lgzz-L7GFg

    And there were dozens of papers from that time period that predicted warming.
    http://www.usatoday.com/weather/climate/globalwarming/2008-02-20-global-cooling_N.htm

    So yeah, I’m a bit confused by this title.

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