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Tilting at Windmills

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June 26, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

GLOBAL WARMING UPDATE....More on Emily Yoffe and global warming today from Bob Somerby (here) and Chris Mooney (here). Bob unearths the reason Yoffe is so skeptical of X-Y graphs. Chris patiently explains why Yoffe doesn't know what she's talking about. Too little mockery for my taste, though.

By the way, I just got a copy of Chris's new book, Storm World, yesterday, and I started digging into it last night. Pretty good so far. I'll have more about that later, and Chris himself will be guest blogging about the book right here next week. Should be fun.

Kevin Drum 3:31 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (56)

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Comments

What's this about global warming? I've not heard of it.

Posted by: Spirit on June 26, 2007 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

From Chris Mooney's article:

"Because of human enhancement of that effect, we know that the global average temperature is going to be hotter in the future."
____________________

To be precise, we think we know that because of certain models which project it to be the case. It is about the nature and assumptions of those models that the discussion should take place. An hypothesis is not proven by consensus. It is proven by observable data and the timeframe for most climate models is too short to be completely convincing. The question is not if global warming exists, or even if anthropogenic global warming exists. Periods of global warming have occurred in the past and subsided. The question is what observable data exists to convince us that the influence of mankind makes enough difference to change an acknowledged warming trend into an uncontrollable event.

Posted by: Trashhauler on June 26, 2007 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

It is proven by observable data and the timeframe for most climate models is too short to be completely convincing.

Please provide the basis for the claim that "the timeframe for most climate models is too short to be completely convincing." What, in your opinion as a climate scientist, is a reasonable timeframe, and why?

Posted by: Stefan on June 26, 2007 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

Yoffe, from an excerpt the Howler dug up:

Flunking math tests was such a regular part of my childhood that I have lived the rest of my life trying to avoid anything numerical. (I wouldn't dream of doing my own taxes. I've never tried to balance my checkbook. I can barely make change.)

This person is a moron -- at least, when it comes to mathematics and science. Why get up in arms about a moron's opinion on global warming?

I know, I know...the real issue is why a moron is getting published in the Washington Post. Gah.

Posted by: Remus Shepherd on June 26, 2007 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

A fundamental law of physics states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. While this strongly suggests that Mother Nature always seeks harmonic balance, that upcoming period of adjustment may not necessarily be in mankind's best interest, especially if it means thinning out through disease or famine the now-vast herds of humans overpopulating this planet.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on June 26, 2007 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

Because she writes for Slate (not just as the human guinea pig, but also as Dear Prudence) -- and since Slate is part of the Washington Post this is all about corporate synergy. And not paying more writers than it has to.

Dear Prudence was actually a decent advice column before she took it over from the daughter of Dear Abby.

And now her answers and her amazement at the human condition make it unreadable.

Yoffe doesn't seem to be qualified to give marital advice to forlorn housewives. For some reason, this makes her Op-Ed material on global warming (not that an Op-Ed has to be an expert, but gosh...)

Posted by: DC1974 on June 26, 2007 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

Somerby mocked the Wapo for having an editor so consumed with Gore that Hiatt would publish this piece. She didn't write this op-ed about global warming, she wrote it to fulfill Hiatt's mandate that a hit piece on Gore must appear every week.

Otherwise, readers of the Wapo might realize that Gore has been right about Iraq, prescription drugs, global warming and other issues a president needs to get right. Then those readers might wonder why the Wapo and its cadres were so very wrong and cancel their subscription. Delong is correct: the Wapo has at most 10 more years.

Posted by: TJM on June 26, 2007 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

It's about climate CHANGE and how these climate changes will affect our civilization at every level.

Status quo (getting the expected results for any activity) is good for business and government and insurance companies. Climate change severely disrupts the status quo. For instance, a farmer plants expecting rains to grow his crops, which you, the consumer, need. But climate unpredictability may cause the rain to come in the fall. He might witness normal average rain for the year, but not grow any crops. The rains might fall in totally different unpredictable patterns each and every year.

So if you, in any way, depend on maintenance of the status quo, you'll want to learn all about climate change. America is about 15 years behind much of the rest of the world. You'll want to hurry.

Realclimate.org is a good place to start.

Posted by: slanted tom on June 26, 2007 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

Donald from Hawaii, brush up on your high school physics. Newton's Third Law pertains to the movement of objects in classical physics. You can't make sweeping statements about "Mother Nature" based on it.

This is a prime example of the liberal pseudo-science that is used to "prove" global warming.

Posted by: Al on June 26, 2007 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

Wow...what did happen to Yoffe? Like Somerby says, he seems like the last person in the world to write about this subject, or take shots at Gore...and yet there she is. Was she threatened? Tortured? Were her children kidnapped??

Posted by: Xanthippas on June 26, 2007 at 4:31 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan, historical global climate changes have been documented by many climate scientists. The question of timeframe isn't unique to the question of climate change. It is inherent in the nature of all models. For models to be considered accurate, their projections have to be confirmed by observable data, not once, but repeatedly. The idea that some models have accurately "predicted" past global climate changes is not the same thing as saying they will accurately predict future events, especially in the short term. After all, those past global changes all receded, many ebbed and flowed over the course of centuries. It would be nearly miraculous to expect any model covering centuries to be accurate in any given period of a couple decades or so. That would be especially true if the model is supposed to be predicting an out of control event in the near future.

Haven't you taken any modeling and simulation courses, Stefan?

Posted by: Trashhauler on June 26, 2007 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

"This person is a moron -- at least, when it comes to mathematics and science."

The title of her piece was "The Math Moron." She's honest, at least.

Posted by: TomT on June 26, 2007 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

Haven't you taken any modeling and simulation courses, Stefan?

I've dated some models. Does that count?

Posted by: Stefan on June 26, 2007 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

I've dated some models.Does that count?
Only if you didn't use Carbon dating, or claim that they're more than 5,000 years old.

Posted by: thersites on June 26, 2007 at 4:47 PM | PERMALINK

The title of her piece was "The Math Moron." She's honest, at least.

Until that last sentence, I thought you were talking about Al.

Posted by: DJ on June 26, 2007 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK

I hate to be on Al's side regarding Donald from Hawaii's unjustified sweeping generalization of Newton's Third Law.

Trashhauler is almost right about the limitations of the accuracy of the predictions based on physics based models, but the uncertainty in the prediction over long term comes not from the inaccuracy of the models themselves, but the approximate nature of the data that is needed to drive the models. Of course, because of the nonlinear nature of the models, any inaccuracy in the initial data is magnified over time, and predictions over long term are inherently subject to this error. I assume, though, that when a climatologist makes a statement regarding the climate far into the future, he or she takes all this into account.


Posted by: gregor on June 26, 2007 at 4:49 PM | PERMALINK

Only if you didn't use Carbon dating, or claim that they're more than 5,000 years old.

Nah. 21, 22, tops.

Posted by: Stefan on June 26, 2007 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

Stefan wrote:

"I've dated some models. Does that count?"
____________________

Hell, that works for me.

Posted by: Trashhauler on June 26, 2007 at 5:07 PM | PERMALINK

Trashhauler is almost right about the limitations of the accuracy of the predictions based on physics based models, but the uncertainty in the prediction over long term comes not from the inaccuracy of the models themselves, but the approximate nature of the data that is needed to drive the models.

I think you're reaching a bit with that one. I bet there remains much model uncertainty, along with input uncertainty. Even over the last few weeks papers have been published that update the modeling of the North Atlantic Conveyer, for example.

Trashauler's complaint is with lack of data to validate the models. You'd really like *good* data that spans a couple of big climate swings, so you can have some assurance that you modeled the change dynamics correctly. What we have are things like ice cores for way back when, and detailed record keeping for a few hundred years. It is easy to create models that correctly hindcast past data but predict differently going forward. But smart guys are working the problem.

My general take on global warming is that the globe is indeed warming. Is it human caused? It seems unlikely that dumping a few hundreds of millions of years of sequestered carbon into the atmosphere in a few lifetimes would not have some effect.

But past performance is no guarantee of future returns.

Posted by: Volunteering Red Stater on June 26, 2007 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

gregor wrote:

"[T]he uncertainty in the prediction over long term comes not from the inaccuracy of the models themselves, but the approximate nature of the data that is needed to drive the models."
_____________________

Hear him, hear him!

Posted by: Trashhauler on June 26, 2007 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin.

Global wamring is totally bogus, a whimsy conjured on the back of an envelope by a cadre of professors, academics, and Hollywood celebrities and Dempols - the left.

It is a way to fiost socialism, secularism and athiesm upon us.

The left has made its inroads in fits and starts over the years:

The first was on the heels of Darwin's Origin of Species, when the Left sought to replace G_d with their own socialist idols. The second parry was when the New Deal was thrust on the people. Now, this global warming hocus pocus is the third and final attempt. I predict, just like the previous two movements, it will experience initial success, and then fail and get rolled back.

Posted by: egbert on June 26, 2007 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

what's the fun of dating a model if her dada is driving her?

Posted by: thersites on June 26, 2007 at 5:33 PM | PERMALINK

The tacit conclusion is that Republican elites (such as the editors / owners of the Washington Post) do believe in global warming. They are attempting to sock away as much money as they can in offshore tax havens or Swiss banks before the planetary shit hits the fan. People like Emily Yoffe are just useful idiots.

Posted by: sara on June 26, 2007 at 5:35 PM | PERMALINK

"My general take on global warming is that the globe is indeed warming. Is it human caused? It seems unlikely that dumping a few hundreds of millions of years of sequestered carbon into the atmosphere in a few lifetimes would not have some effect."
_____________________

That would be my take, as well. Human activity is quite likely to have some kind of effect. The question remains, is it enough to change a naturally occurring, self-dampening process into an uncontrolled, runaway disaster? There is scientific basis to argue either way, with a whole lot riding on models of uncertain performance. Debate on the models and the data continue, including an growing debate about how much effect solar energy and cosmic radiation have and is it accurately reflected in the most popular climate models. Any "concensus" reached thus far can only be political, not scientific. The scientific method doesn't work that way.

Posted by: Trashhauler on June 26, 2007 at 5:36 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry. I should have said:

the uncertainty in the prediction over long term comes not primarily from the inaccuracy of the models themselves, but the approximate nature of the data that is needed to drive the models.

Posted by: gregor on June 26, 2007 at 5:40 PM | PERMALINK

The latest Newsweek ("July 9") has a great rundown rebuttal to skepticism of anthropogenic global warming.

Posted by: Neil B. on June 26, 2007 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

Scrambled egbert, are you so terrified or your god that you dare not speak the word?

And for fucks sake! learn the meaning of the word socialism

Damn those heathen Green Bay packers!

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on June 26, 2007 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

Trashhauler:

You might need to take some basic science and philosophy of science yourself. It isn't just a matter of models existing in abstraction and needed verification: there is the theoretical grounds for believing in them. We know (and have for well over 100 years!) that CO2 absorbs infrared, and that more should increase the average temperature. Sure, there are other things going on, but the reasonable assumption is that if we keep dumping lye into a lake, the pH number will go "up" (using the positive number.) That is a perfectly good basis, along with all the other factors, to presume what is likely. (And there are other things, like the lower part of the atmosphere heating up instead of the higher, the warming of the oceans, etc - well described in the very timely Newsweek article.)

Not only that, but action is based on risks - how about the idea that we should do strong things just to avoid a 1% chance of a big terrorist attack? (I don't get along well, though, with the idea that we can torture peole just because they might be terrorists, even absent a direct ticking bomb connection....) It is a logical fallacy to confuse that policy criterion with the presumed need for absolute truth in science per se (and even that is a myth, for scientists end up believing in credible theories long before past the point of no return on confirmation...)

So, just rambling about how climate changed around, we can't be sure, generic blah blah -- it sounds better than the insanely air headed trash puff from Yoffe, but it isn't really much an improvement.

PS - What is the background of the owners and editors of WaPo? Please spill some goods, because there is a deep thing (I mean, as the strategy, heh) going on there ...

Posted by: Neil B. on June 26, 2007 at 5:54 PM | PERMALINK
To be precise, we think we know that because of certain models which project it to be the case.

To be more precise, we think we know that because certain models which have been shown to have predictive power in predicting results not used to generate them project it to be the case.

Or, IOW, exactly the way we think we know anything that will hold true in the future through science.

An hypothesis is not proven by consensus.

A hypothesis is not proven at all, it merely can fail to be disproven for a period of time. Science doesn't prove models, it rejects and/or refines them.

It is proven by observable data and the timeframe for most climate models is too short to be completely convincing.

What timeframe? The timeframe of the data from which the model is generated? The timeframe of the data which was not used to generate it that was used to validate it? Really, I'm not inclined to accept conclusory statements you offer without support about the quality of climate models, particularly when you don't appear to be climatologist, or even understand the scientific method enough to articulate a coherent objection.

The question is not if global warming exists, or even if anthropogenic global warming exists.

Uh, okay. Did anyone say those were "the" question?

Periods of global warming have occurred in the past and subsided.

Or, rather, we have models of the relation of observation to global mean temperature which suggest that there may have been global warming periods in the past that have later subsided.

It's interesting how things supported by the exact same process (and, often, the exact same empirical evidence) that you cast doubt upon as a source of knowledge at the outset you present as certain fact, later, when it is convenient.

The question is what observable data exists to convince us that the influence of mankind makes enough difference to change an acknowledged warming trend into an uncontrollable event.

Why should that be "the" question? I would think a much more relevant set of questions would be:

1) What are the likely consequences of the current acknowledged warming trend?
2) Are those consequences desirable?
3) If not, what are the options to mitigate or avoid entirely the undesirable consequences, and what costs are associated with those options?


Posted by: cmdicely on June 26, 2007 at 5:56 PM | PERMALINK

egbert -

a cadre of professors, academics, and Hollywood celebrities and Dempols - the left.

True, professors and academics do tend to be on "the left" because they are smart honest thinkers. Your kind doesn't like thinking as a true investigative art, but just for guile.

Posted by: Neil B. on June 26, 2007 at 5:59 PM | PERMALINK

I think if the physics of the global warming theory makes sense, then that's something you have to take into account along with the mere general abstract statement that all models don't categorically continue to predict the phenomena they're intended to map accurately as time drags on further and further from an initial period when their predictions may have been accurate.

If the physics seems to make sense in the absence of more data, there's not really a great reason to hold off on doing something to correct the problem suggested by that physics until we've waited a hundred years to confirm whether the model is really right.

Donald from Hawaii, I find your statement about overpopulation disturbing. Your statement that this planet is overpopulated and that nature "wants" our population to be thinned is an opinion, and a bizarre one than that. A more noble goal for a conscious, self-directed humanity than worrying about the will of the "nature" Donald has fabricated is to find ways that the population, whatever it is- even 10 billion- can live in peace and dignity with a decent standard of living.

Posted by: Swan on June 26, 2007 at 6:00 PM | PERMALINK

The question remains, is it enough to change a naturally occurring, self-dampening process into an uncontrolled, runaway disaster?

That's not the question at all that is addressed by mainstream climate scientists or any widely publicized consensus report (AAAS, National Academy, UN, etc.). These reports are very conservative and try to highlight controversies and uncertainty where it is present.

Projections in the reports are only out 50 to 100 years and therefore minimize the importance of controversial positive or negative feedbacks (related to oceans, ice caps, sediments, permafrost, methane hydrates, etc.). They are simply creating global climate models bound by our understanding of physical processes on earth and inputing reasonable projections for atmospheric CO2 increases. Some models have even been run under scenarios where CO2 levels in the atmosphere remain at current levels. All of the models I'm aware of project measureable warming over the next several decades.

At this point these short term projections are the equivalent of a two body collision. Unless there is some physical process (acting on the short term) that no one is aware of -- a minimum warming over the next 50 years is inevitable.

Almost no scientists try to make precise projections for the long term effects of anthropogenic CO2 (greater than 1000 years). This is a region of extreme speculation that is almost unpublishable. An exception I'm aware of is Archer (and other's studying massive climate change in the past) -- but his models are pretty academic, his concerns are primarily with past climate change, and his figures aren't included in any widely publicized climate change report.

Posted by: B on June 26, 2007 at 6:01 PM | PERMALINK

Good job cmdicely. You sliced and diced Mr. "To-be-precise" Trashhauler wonderfully, using both logic and superior knowledge of both the scientific method and climatology. So I do hope this thread will be spared from any more attempts at refuting global warming by using scientific sounding gobbledygook.
___________________________

Posted by: Aris on June 26, 2007 at 6:29 PM | PERMALINK

If you have ever worked on any environmental campaign for anything, you recognize the plea that “we need more data” is functionally (and usually morally) equivalent to saying “let’s not do anything”.

One point overlooked by the climate change skeptics is that the predicted rate of change (and the observed rate of change over the last few years) exceeds most of the previous “natural” climate changes. This raises serious questions about the ability of organisms (including humans) to adapt.

Above all I don't get what the skeptics are so upset about. If we do start regulating carbon emissions and the climate turns around in a few years and starts cooling we won't be out all that much, and the skeptics will be able to smugly proclaimed "told you so". On the other hand, if climate change is real every year we delay will carry a severe price.

Posted by: fafner1 on June 26, 2007 at 6:58 PM | PERMALINK

This whole global warming hoax is going to go the way of the Y2K hysteria eventually; I just wish it would hurry up and get gone.

Posted by: Ron on June 26, 2007 at 7:19 PM | PERMALINK

For (some) climate scientist`s perspective on "Storm World"

For (some) climate scientist`s perspective on, well, earth`s climate & what it might be doing (slanted tom beat me to this one)

For your very own climate modeling attempts (MSWindows required)

For reasonable discussion of "global warming" (global climate instability actually) you certainly want to know about this fellow`s points about the IPCC scenarios (yes, the post IS about coal but so what, facts are facts)

[Sorry Mods but I gotta include all these links to make my point(s)]

"...it's the ideas that count, not the number of trees you kill to print them." - Phil Carter@Intel-dump.com

Posted by: daCascadian on June 26, 2007 at 7:25 PM | PERMALINK

Why aren't conservatives skeptical about all scientific theories? Why is it that only global warming and the theory of evolution are routinely challenged by cons as "unproven" or "controversial"? Why do they accept the theory of general and the theory of special relativity, or any other theory?

So, here's a question for Trashhauler and our other polymath cons in this thread: Have you studied all scientific theories with equal vigor and determined that only the science behind global warming and/or the theory of evolution are suspect? Have you studied thoroughly, and are you comfortable with, let's say, the theory of a heliocentric solar system?
___________________________

Posted by: Aris on June 26, 2007 at 7:31 PM | PERMALINK

First, thanks to Egbert for the beautifly assinine comment. I often wonder why the world is so screwed up. But then Egbert reminds me that much of the world's populace is willfully ignorant, and then I can understand why we have the problems we have. Fortunately, we are not all as ignorant as Egbert, so there is hope for us.

As for the modelling issue, I think we are looking at it the wrong way. The uncertanties in the modelling are usually provided as a reason for not acting on global warming. But they really should be a reason to act more quickly. This sounds strange, I know, but hear me out. What is not in question is the fact that we have significantly changed the composition of our atmosphere and that we continue to do so at an increasing rate. What is less clear is what effect changing the atmosphere will have in the long term. So why we do we think it's a good idea to continue to change the atmosphere when our models are not sufficiently accurate to predict that these changes will have no negative consequences? It would seem that the rational course of action would be to try to keep the composition of our atmosphere the same until we are sure that it's okay to change it. We might someday learn that we can change our atmosphere without causing any harm, but we should verify that with accurate models before trying it out on the only planet proven to be capable of sustaining us. In my field of engineering, we do our best to prove a bridge won't collapse BEFORE we build it. We don't just blindly build bridges hoping that nobody can prove that they will collapse. Well, we try not to, at least.

Posted by: fostert on June 26, 2007 at 7:32 PM | PERMALINK

Just so it's a part of the discussion, I think it's useful to recall that we have THOUSANDS of years of data, e.g., from polar cap ice cores, from which a number of climatic and atmospheric conditions can be inferred with high reliability. So neither the baselines of "normal" climatic variation nor the relationships between climatic and atmospheric conditions are limited to real-time observations made in the few hundred years since the Enlightenment.

Posted by: bleh on June 26, 2007 at 7:49 PM | PERMALINK

Why is anyone bothering with explaining to conservative ideologues the science behind global warming? You have as much chance convincing creationists that the theory of evolution is valid.

For those who actually understand the science, the evidence is overwhelming. For those who don't, at a certain point they have to trust that the vast majority of scientists are neither venal not deluded, and they need to accept the fact that experts climatologists know more than some fat drug addict with radio program.

End of discussion.

___________________________

Posted by: Aris on June 26, 2007 at 7:57 PM | PERMALINK

Trashhauler is demonstrating some knowledge of science, but unfortunately he's using it to make an implicit argument for an irrational course of behavior.

Posted by: Swan on June 26, 2007 at 8:30 PM | PERMALINK

We know (and have for well over 100 years!) that CO2 absorbs infrared, and that more should increase the average temperature.

And that more CO2 in the atmosphere means more dissolved in the oceans which raises the pH and kills off the bottom of the aquatic food chain.

The basic science on this stuff is so simple that even a moron can grasp it. The problem is that we are dealing with sub-morons.

Posted by: Disputo on June 26, 2007 at 9:00 PM | PERMALINK

The uncertanties in the modelling are usually provided as a reason for not acting on global warming. But they really should be a reason to act more quickly.

You're making the Precautionary Principal argument.

Posted by: Disputo on June 26, 2007 at 9:05 PM | PERMALINK

So, here's a question for Trashhauler and our other polymath cons in this thread: Have you studied all scientific theories with equal vigor and determined that only the science behind global warming and/or the theory of evolution are suspect? Have you studied thoroughly, and are you comfortable with, let's say, the theory of a heliocentric solar system?

The one thing we know for certain about global temps is that they have oscillated widely, randomly, and continuously over the entire history of climate records that we can dredge up from whatever sources we can dredge them up from, ice core samples being an obvious one. From *way* before humans were around. The climatalogical signal is very noisy. It has made slow increases and rapid changes. It has rarely been steady state. Yet we are trying to extract a particular signal from a very noisy background and draw direct inferences.

What are all the things that can affect it? Whoever suggested that we have detailed ice core records failed to note that we do *not* have corresponding detailed records of the sun's solar flux, for example. What other forcing functions are out there that we didn't capture? Some huge outgassing of CO2 from other sources? I think there is a lot that we don't even know we don't know yet. Extracting a signal from background noise is always a matter of probabilities.

In contrast, you can basically set your atomic clocks by the motions of the celestial bodies. Smooth, deterministic, predictable, non-noisy.

Posted by: volunteering State of Red on June 26, 2007 at 9:12 PM | PERMALINK

End of discussion.
___________________________
Posted by: Aris

Now that's funny.

Posted by: volunteering State of Red on June 26, 2007 at 9:18 PM | PERMALINK

randomly

F

Posted by: Disputo on June 26, 2007 at 9:20 PM | PERMALINK

Would someone care to justify this phrase "self-dampening process"? It is more likely, that GW is self-reinforcing, because of the melting of ice and decreased albedo. The increase in clouds will reflect some light but also trap heat at night, not clearly a compensation. Most importantly, we are imposing a heating influence upon whatever else is going on, and that is a dangerous thing. Finally, most of what we could do to reduce CO2 is good anyway for other reasons: reduce use of fossil fuels (pay less per mile) and electricity with fluorescent lights, etc.

Posted by: Neil B. on June 26, 2007 at 9:42 PM | PERMALINK

Would someone care to justify this phrase "self-dampening process"? It is more likely, that GW is self-reinforcing

I'm going out on a limb, now, but I'd say it was a "self-limiting process" in that fluctuations are bounded. Otherwise we'd have long ago had our Mars or Venus moment, where the climate runs away cold or hot. Within those bounds it can take a broad range of values, however.

Finally, most of what we could do to reduce CO2 is good anyway for other reasons: reduce use of fossil fuels (pay less per mile) and electricity with fluorescent lights, etc.
Posted by: Neil B.

I agree.

Posted by: volunteering State of Red on June 26, 2007 at 9:49 PM | PERMALINK

...uncertanties...usually provided as a reason for not acting
So as long as there isn't absolute certainty that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, we won't invade. Right?

Posted by: thersites on June 26, 2007 at 10:03 PM | PERMALINK

I'm going out on a limb, now, but I'd say it was a "self-limiting process" in that fluctuations are bounded. Otherwise we'd have long ago had our Mars or Venus moment, where the climate runs away cold or hot. Within those bounds it can take a broad range of values, however.

Correct. So far it has been a self limited process locked between largescale equatorial glaciation (i.e. snoball earth in the Proterozoic) and forested frost free poles(i.e. early Triassic).

Being that we currently have extensive ice caps, cold deep seas, and abundant methane clathrates -- we're on the wrong part of the pendulum swing to hope that our CO2 inputs will have a minimal short term impact.

Posted by: rewolfrats on June 26, 2007 at 10:10 PM | PERMALINK

"Okay, so I’m hanging with my girlfriends and they’re all like, “wow, it’s 75 degrees in January, this like really really scary!!!” and I’m like, “no way guys this is totally awesome!!”

This dude called Al Gore, who I think is like a teacher or something, is trying to scare us and bum us out with all this global warming stuff. Like, what...ever!!!

That guy is just trying to terrify a lot of innocent little children so he can win like a Noble Prize or Oscar or whatever. And dude, that is just so uncool. I refuse to hear it. It’s hawt and as far as I’m concerned that totally rocks!

Who wants to shovel snow when you can sunbathe in balmy weather?? Next he’ll tell me I can "get skin cancer" if I don’t "wear sunscreen." What a killjoy that dude is!!"

Posted by: The Bobblespeak Translations on June 26, 2007 at 10:51 PM | PERMALINK
The basic science on this stuff is so simple that even a moron can grasp it. The problem is that we are dealing with sub-morons.

No, the problem is that we're dealing with selfish bastards who lie their asses off to confuse the issue and obstruct other people's understanding, not because they are too stupid to understand, but because they understand just fine but either hope that the impacts won't hit them in their lifetime, and are just concerned with their own immediate wealth, or because they consider a slightly longer term but simply see maintaining their own class's existing absolute advantage over most of the rest of the world's population more important than the long term prospects of human society.

Posted by: cmdicely on June 26, 2007 at 11:38 PM | PERMALINK

cmdicely: No, the problem is that we're dealing with selfish bastards who lie their asses off to confuse the issue and obstruct other people's understanding,

I think we're dealing with two distinct conservative types.

I'm afraid there are plenty of real morons whose source of wisdom is whatever is on AM radio. It's pointless to argue with them. How can one explain germ theory to someone who believes in demons and spirits? They are the ones who totally deny both global warming and the theory of evolution.

But I think you're right about the other type, the far more dangerous one, the Ayn Rand freaks who are smart enough to understand science but are too shellfish and too enamored of their weird corporation-worshipping religion to want to do anything that may prove inconvenient to Exxon. They are the ones who pick up their arguments from the WSJ opinion page, and use them to obfuscate and confuse. These are really scary because they are sophisticated and know how to shift the argument; they started with outright denial of global warming but moved to far more nuanced positions: It may be happening but it's natural, it may be happening but it's not bad, it may be happening but not as fast, it may be happening but it may not, etc. So, what should someone who actually understands the specifics of global warming supposed to do with this type? Constantly engage nonsense and rebut inane points? To what end, exactly?

I'm beginning to think that it is as pointless to engage these global warming denialists as their moronic brethren. One should just taunt them. Debate with people who are this wrapped is futile.

Posted by: Aris on June 27, 2007 at 12:14 AM | PERMALINK

Like Burce Willis said on David Letterman's show last night, it's not the global warming, it's the global humidity . . .

Posted by: Mazurka on June 27, 2007 at 12:33 AM | PERMALINK

Guys, there's no point in arguing with the wingnuts about global warming.

There's no point in arguing with them about anything. They're mentally ill.

Why are you wasting your time?

Posted by: TomT on June 27, 2007 at 1:21 AM | PERMALINK

"Above all I don't get what the skeptics are so upset about. If we do start regulating carbon emissions and the climate turns around in a few years and starts cooling we won't be out all that much, and the skeptics will be able to smugly proclaimed "told you so"."
Posted by: fafner1 on June 26, 2007 at 6:58 PM

There *are* practical and substantial benefits to restricting hydrocarbon consumption that are often overlooked (even assuming that AGW is nonexistent). There is a multiplying effect of economic efficiencies when your transportation base becomes lighter, homes are more sanely sized and better insulated, the technological spin-off from development of alternatives, and people live closer to where they work or work from home. The pricing of the hydrocarbons that are being used will be more stable since the oil peak would be spread out. Perhaps the most important benefit would be the reduced amount of world conflict related to competition for hydrocarbon resources.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on June 27, 2007 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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