fig tree wrote:
This is the one position that we can be completely sure is not true. We're putting tens of gigatons of CO2 into the atmosphere every year. Some of it is absorbed (some of it is causing damage by lowering the pH of the oceans for example) while much of it remains there. We can measure pretty well how much remains. Checking the composition of the CO2 by isotopes indicates that the added CO2 is produced by our burning fossil fuels, not some natural source secretly churning it out. CO2 does not magically cease to absorb infrared light when we put it into the atmosphere just because it's inconvenient that it does.
It's unreasonable to suppose that this activity would fail to warm the atmosphere unless it had some other effect that compensated. For instance, the one skeptic at M.I.T. always used to argue that the atmosphere could get dried out by this process in such a way as to compensate (since water vapor is also a greenhouse gas). Other skeptics have been known to say that maybe we'd get increased cloud cover instead, and that this would compensate (by reflecting the light). None of these notions have panned out. Not only have they not panned out, all the evidence is in favor of there being more of a positive feedback loop (espcially by warming causing there to be more water vapor in the atmosphere, amplifying the warming) than a negative one. Additional positive feedback loops are proving to be stronger than originally expected.
But even more fundamentally, even if one of these "skeptical" notions were correct, it wouldn't mean that we were not "driving" a change in the climate; it would just mean that we were changing it in a different way than by warming. More cloud cover, a drier stratosphere... these are changes too. Nobody has provided a reasonable scenario on which putting tens of gigatons of CO2 into the atmosphere each year could be doing just nothing, nor can they.
CO2 has been much higher in the past, and the oceans didn't turn into pools of acid. IMHO, it's probably more likely that sulfur emissions are to blame for changes in ocean pH levels. We've done a great job of limiting those type of emissions here in the states, but countries like China are cranking out lots of sulfur, which is a valid problem that needs to be addressed.
Decaying plant matter releases more gigatons of CO2 into the atmosphere every year than humans do. I did look for data on natural CO2 sources vs. human emissions, but I couldn't find the stuff I'd seen before. People like to throw around the gigaton thing, but when put into perspective to the natural world, what we emit is only a tiny fraction of the global carbon content. Also, it's flawed logic to assume that all the CO2 we put into the atmosphere will just hang around forever.
The IPCC has been pushing a lot of flawed models.
There has been no evidence of a positive feedback loop. The fact that temperatures have been flat and trending downward for the last decade disproves the possibility of a positive feedback loop caused by humans.
fig tree wrote:
People have been measuring the changes in solar output, and gathering evidence about its past changes. The Planck institute produced a paper on this. The past 60 years or so have had higher solar output than there had been before, helping to explain why the 1940s were as warm as they were (comparatively). The past 30 years or so have had even a bit more. The sun also changes in output during the solar cycle (as the number of sunspots rises and falls). But the last few solar cycles have not seen much change in the output of the Sun. It has essentially nothing to do with the recent observed changes in global average temperature. The recent changes also stand out relative to most of the changes that have occurred for a long time.
The people behind the misinformation campaign about these issues are very fond of trying to get people to think of warming as a question of some temperature data (which they might try to cast doubts on) going in search of an explanation. That way, the hapless layperson who is their victim can be led to suppose that attention paid to one explanation (the effect of CO2) is due to bias leading researchers not to take other explanations seriously enough. "It's so complex! How can we be sure which explanation is correct?"
But this ignores what we know of physics. CO2 due to its physical properties changes the radiation balance in the atmosphere. That this is likely to produce warming was predicted around a century ago, and now we see the prediction coming true. For this not to result in warming, there would have to be a compensating other effect produced by CO2. For decades people have looked for such a thing.
Now, suppose hypothetically that no warming were occurring. Then this would require some explanation, some cause for the trapped heat to be released some other way, or for the energy not to be arriving in the first place. Unless one found a connection between CO2 and this (hypothetical) other mechanism, the safest conclusion would be that we had both warming due to the CO2 and cooling due to some other mechanism that were canceling each other out. To some extent, the warming has been canceled out by aerosol-caused cooling.
Suppose hypothetically that some auxiliary cause for warming were found. That also would not be sufficient reason to imagine that CO2 was having zero effect. As it happens, however, despite a lot of hunting (and some wishful thinking) no such alternative explanation has serious evidence behind it. Yet you have no trouble digging up sources that pretend that there is... because so many of those sources are based on lies.
What warming was being predicted a century ago? The furthest back of any climate predictions I can recall is the global cooling scare and predictions of a coming ice age in the 1970s.
Also, as Pink Trike mentioned, how do you explain the warming on other planets? Surely our emissions can't be to blame for the warming on Mars. Also, the sun's energy is more complex than just the number of sunspots. There is also the solar wind and how solar radiation interacts with the earth's geomagnetic field. Cosmic radiation from outside the solar system may also play a part in our climate system, particularly in cloud formation, which we still understand very little about. To say that our knowledge of physics is advanced enough to understand all these things is false. Hopefully, someday we will be able to understand everything, but we're just not there yet.
fig tree wrote:
There are sources of propaganda on the American political right that seem to be extremely keen on producing caricatures of what their opponents are saying, and they describe objective climate scientists as if they were as you say, people who try to scare us by forecasting "thermageddon". Try looking at what people are actually saying, however, not what one end of the political spectrum is portraying them as saying. What you see is people who believe there is a problem, and want to enlist others of us in helping to solve the problem. If anything, there is a tendency for them to try to put an upbeat spin on all of it, by implying that just a few "green" changes in habits will suffice to solve the problem. The fact that they are not cheerfully forecasting that everything will be fine without our doing anything at all is because they are avoiding lying, in spite of some nice monetary incentives that have been put in front of them to do so.
Probably you can find some shrill people engaging in scaremongering, but you can also find such people on the other side. Who is claiming that we will be ruined economically if we put a tax on carbon emissions? Who sees it as the first step toward tyranny? Almost all the manipulation is coming from that side.
The lying that certain of the (best informed, especially) self-proclaimed skeptics have been engaging in is what is absurd and offensive. Having been refuted on a point, there remain sources who just keep repeating the same claim as long as it continues to sway the public. All of their own vices (being motivated by greed and politics, being willing to distort the data, trying to stifle the opposition, playing on emotions) they attribute to the other side. Mainly, though, it's just unfortunate that so many people have been misled by them.
I am not attached to either right or left wings. I tend to dislike politicians no matter which party they are with.
The opening video for COP15 has a bit of doomsday scaremongering in it:
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There are plenty of legitimate environmental concerns, but this bit with CO2 is political and not based in fact. I would like to see the legitimate environmental problems addressed. Unfortunately, the global warming hysteria tends to overshadow real pollution issues.
fig tree wrote:
The original sources of this kind of thinking (not to suggest you are like this yourself, mind you), for the most part have no interest in serious third world economic development; not in the first world yielding up any of its advantages in international trade to the third world, in our paying them any more for their resources (such as oil) that we consume; or in our spending more than about 0.1% of our GDP on helping them out. They also tend to support the U.S. being the country that produces half the world's armaments and supplies them around the world, including to oppressive regimes that they think are "pro-U.S.", especially if they're good oil-exporters. That the revenue gets controlled by a little oligarchy is just fine as well. If islands and coastal areas are getting inundated, well, they say this is not our fault, so we should not do much to help.
Now, however, they want to claim that one of the best ways to encourage peace and prosperity for those poor, is for us to burn fossil fuels in an unrestrained way. This is all supposed to be good for the world, because if we (especially executives and share-holders in oil companies) become richer (able to consume ever more consumer luxury items) that economic growth is supposed to trickle down to the third world... someday.
Don't let them fool you. If you would be half as skeptical of them as you are of climatologists, I bet it'd do the trick.
There's been a lot of talk of sea level rise, but none of it is actually happening. This is probably due to the fact that global ice content has not dropped. Of course, at sometime I would expect the sea level to change, as it does change from time to time. Our towns and cities will not last forever. I think clinging to a city or piece of land is wrong. These things are impermanent.
Speaking of oil companies. They have been funding global warming research and backing carbon trading schemes. The big corporations and governments stand to benefit the most from carbon trading and taxes. A carbon derivatives market would make them a whole lot richer and more powerful.
I guess I just don't share your trust in politicians. All I see are politicians who are motivated by greed and lust for power. I don't think adding taxes on energy will help the developing world develop any faster or cleaner. And I doubt those politicians have the best interests of the people or the planet in mind.
If I missed anything, please let me know. I couldn't find the sources or exact numbers for what I wanted to, probably because I'm kinda tired. If you want I can look again for you later.