Peter Doran in the NY Times

Peter Doran published a paper several years ago showing that parts of Antarctica were actually cooling, rather than warming—that there were local variations in temperature trends. This is not surprising. It's also not surprising that he was quote-mined like mad by the global warming denialists. He has now written a calm, solid rejection of the misuse of his data in the NY Times.

Our results have been misused as "evidence" against global warming by Michael Crichton in his novel "State of Fear" and by Ann Coulter in her latest book, "Godless: The Church of Liberalism." Search my name on the Web, and you will find pages of links to everything from climate discussion groups to Senate policy committee documents—all citing my 2002 study as reason to doubt that the earth is warming. One recent Web column even put words in my mouth. I have never said that "the unexpected colder climate in Antarctica may possibly be signaling a lessening of the current global warming cycle." I have never thought such a thing either.

Our study did find that 58 percent of Antarctica cooled from 1966 to 2000. But during that period, the rest of the continent was warming. And climate models created since our paper was published have suggested a link between the lack of significant warming in Antarctica and the ozone hole over that continent. These models, conspicuously missing from the warming-skeptic literature, suggest that as the ozone hole heals—thanks to worldwide bans on ozone-destroying chemicals—all of Antarctica is likely to warm with the rest of the planet. An inconvenient truth?

This is great stuff, but anyone want to take any bets on whether the anti-scientific global warming crackpots will now extract that penultimate sentence and use it to urge easing the ban on fluorocarbon release?

More like this

Nacreous clouds above McMurdo Station in Antarctica.Image: Matt Thompson. Nacreous means pearlescene or pearl-like, and these clouds are commonly referred to as "mother of pearl clouds". These rare clouds form at altitudes of 15,000-25,000 meters (50,000-80,000 ft) above the earth's surface…
Did you ever leave your freezer door slightly open on a humid day only to find chunks of new ice formed at the gap? When that happens, did you conclude "Oh, my freezer is colder than usual, I wonder how that happened?" No. You concluded that you had left the door slightly open, some cold got out…
According to a new computer model that accurately reproduces the dynamics of the ozone layer over Antarctica for the last 27 years, the ozone hole is predicted to close, albeit later than expected. Following adoption of the Montreal Protocol which banned chlorofluorocarbons and other compounds…
When Mount Pinatubo erupted in 1991, 10 tons of sulfur were blasted into the stratosphere, which is 10-40 kilometers above the earth's surface. As a result of this eruption, earth's average surface temperature decreased by 0.6 degrees celsius (1 degree Fahrenheit) for two years afterwards. The…

This is why many people now choose to call the problem "climate change" rather than "global warming". I saw some models in a paper a few years back (yikes, it's almost 5 years now, I'm getting old) that showed that Canada, instead of getting warmer (which most of us 'nucks wouldn't mind) will stay the same temperature and just become a dessicated wasteland. I don't know if that model is still accepted, but it illustrates that, while the average temperature is rising worldwide, local cold variations are still possible.

Sucker's bet.

And as the "Canada as a cold desert" example(don't know the curent status of that) shows, many of the local changes that don't involve warming will be far from
benign.

By Steve LaBonne (not verified) on 27 Jul 2006 #permalink

I got into this epically long debate over global warming with a guy on a conservative blog. I was trying to steer the discussion away from the science, which I only know very basically, and focus on how the system of science works and why it's smart to trust the consensus on this issue. Anyways, the one "science" question the guy wouldn't stop asking is "why is it warming on Venus and Mars too?". I might as well answer him - does anyone know? I assume this is part of some solar cycle and only makes up some smallish fraction of our own global warming.

BTW, when you all were science students, when you had a question about something for a professor or advisor or something, did you interpret the existance of your question as some sort of refutation of the established science in question, or did you simply see it as a question you needed to ask to further your understanding? It seems when global warming deniers/creationists dream up a question, it means they must have the smoking gun that means little 'ol them just took down "man" of science. It's very frustrating... obviously I know that science advances by asking probing questions but I also realize that with things having advanced as far as they have, it takes a serious amount of experience for there to be a likely chance that any question I ask has not been thought of already.

*
Ha!
You stupid ranting evolutionistic, global warming suckers!
Don't you know that Global Warming is in direct conflict with the second law (or theory or wathever!) of thermodynamics which states implicitly that any system can only go from warm to cold (it's called the ENTROPIC PRINCIPLE!!!), and thus GW is only a liberal lie, made up to support evolution and undermine the 2nd law, a law that makes evilution impossible
*

Now seriously, what are the real motivations for denying GW. Apart from being totaly, rambling mad, in denial of facts, or just a plain old stupid DF?

What is a global warming cycle? Something made up to justify Anti-GW, or a just term to describe the events we're observing?

I think the "warming cycle" bit may be associated with one of the standard denialist talking points, that the projected warming is "within the range that has occurred naturally in the earth's history". Sure enough, but look at what the sea level was at those times and at how many hundred million people's homes would be under water at similar sea levels...

By Steve LaBonne (not verified) on 27 Jul 2006 #permalink

Some people seem to conveniently forget all the math...
Have they anywhere heard about the "mean of n values"?

It seems that conservative's math only considers the four arithmetical operations as valid...

QUOTE: "...BTW, when you all were science students, when you had a question about something for a professor or advisor or something, did you interpret the existance of your question as some sort of refutation of the established science in question, or did you simply see it as a question you needed to ask to further your understanding?..."

Hehe, I sense your frustration. I got into a huge discussion a couple weeks back on a car forum about the topic of GW, and ran into the usual "I'm not convinced it's happening" stuff. It wasn't a particularly heated discussion. No one resorted to calling people names outright or claiming mass conspiracy, but the people that were "not convinced" did not have a solid reason they were articulating as to why they weren't convinced.

I had seen Gore's movie by this point, and the Discovery special, so I was retelling the stories that the facts present to us and just some of the little indicators. Each time they came up with a question, I'd address it by pointing out part of either of those documentaries.

But there was this persistent "I just don't see how we can affect the climate" thing. I'd shoot down every one of their questions that asked about caveats, but one person just kept saying he didn't see the evidence. I asked him what his theories might be as to the cause, but he said he was not convinced CO2 was the problem. This was coming from a Honda driver, too mind you. He drives a fuel efficient car, and he's giving me all this stone-walling about not believing that humans can cause GW. It's particularly frustrating, because people are not believing their own eyes, and they do't trust others who are telling them there's a problem.

So to answer your question jeffk, I'd say there is definitely this fairly pervasive sense out there that if you have a question about something and don't know the science, you simply MUST have found the brick in the structure that brings the whole thing down. This is IMO an acidic side-effect of the propagation of right-wing crap talk. All their seemingly self-empowered question asking without truly listening to the answers has given some in the general public a sense of cart blanche to go around feeling like a renaissance man asking all these questions everyone else seems to either not be asking, or is diligent in suppressing. It's pretty sad. These are the same people today refusing to listen to the answers that in truth have always been there.

By BlueIndependent (not verified) on 27 Jul 2006 #permalink

I am not convinced that in the short 100 years or so that we have even cared about global warming, we could possibly detect a trend in an ecosystem as complex as the earth's.

I realize that geologists are weighing in on this too, and in that regard, there is a lot of opinion on both sides based on that information.

But humans do some pretty predictable things, and polarization is a pretty typical one. The Left loves to go the hyper environmental route, even while they drive their Hummers, while the Right likes to take a more relaxed approach. However it is the extreme swing of the pendulum that hopefully will bring a rational middle, one we can live with and grow in the proper direction.

Here is a final thought. One volcano eruption throws more pollution into the air at one time than all the pollution generated by industry and the automobile ever produced. Eruptions happen every year all around the globe. I am not saying man made pollution doesn't contribute, its just dwarfed by nature itself.

We should conserve, lower man made pollution, etc simply because the day to day effect is a healthier living environment. However, the WHEN is important. The mad rush to lower auto pollution is intended to drive a market. Draconian requirements from the EPA are targeted at moving the automobile market and nothing more. We exported our industrial pollution problem to China, cleaning up our back yard in the process.

Think about that guys...

So much time has been spent by people whose time really is valuable, listing all the scientific issues Ann Coulter has gotten wrong.

I'd like to propose an alternative, more efficient approach.

On every scientific issue she writes about, Ann Coulter is wrong, except..

(Please feel free to contribute possible items for inclusion)

But they're probably not talking about the wheat fields of Saskatchewan! That's currently just a cultural desert. ;)

By Steve LaBonne (not verified) on 27 Jul 2006 #permalink

"why is it warming on Venus and Mars too?"

I don't know if it's currently getting warmer on Venus, but if I were an anti-global warming advocate I'd avoid mentioning Venus which is the classic example of a greenhouse effect gone out of control. Venus is quite similar to the Earth in many respects except for its greenhouse atmosphere and the resulting phenomenally high temperatures. Definitely not a good anti-global warming example.

I realize that geologists are weighing in on this too, and in that regard, there is a lot of opinion on both sides based on that information.

Well, as a geologist, I would have to emphasise that all these discussions about the range of natural variation of the Earth's climate ignore the important point about the rate at which these changes occur. Sure, it was much warmer in the Cretaceous - but that was 60 million years ago. Even the change from glacial to interglacial conditions in modern times takes a few thousand years. The problem is that we're driving changes as large as that over much smaller timescales (decades). Mass extinctions happen that way.

One volcano eruption throws more pollution into the air at one time than all the pollution generated by industry and the automobile ever produced. Eruptions happen every year all around the globe. I am not saying man made pollution doesn't contribute, its just dwarfed by nature itself.

Luckily, climatologists are thinking about volcanos. See http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/05/current-volcanic-…

One point that is also worth making is that although volcanoes release some CO2 into the atmosphere, this is completely negligable compared to anthropogenic emissions (about 0.15 Gt/year of carbon, compared to about 7 Gt/year of human related sources) . However, over very long times scales (millions of years), variations in vulcanism are important for the eventual balance of the carbon cycle, and may have helped kick the planet out of a 'Snowball Earth' state in the Neo-proterozoic 750 million years ago.

(emphasis mine)

Volcanos throw out a lot of stuff, but a lot of the stuff they do throw out doesn't stay in the air very long.

I am not convinced that in the short 100 years or so that we have even cared about global warming, we could possibly detect a trend in an ecosystem as complex as the earth's.

I am not convinced that in the short 150 years that scientists have studied humanoid evolution, we could possible detect a trend in a biological system as complex as the human body.

Look, I can do it too!

"Relaxed" - lol. True, a Republican would NEVER overreact to a perceived or imagined threat.

Today's Global Warming Alert Level is... AMBER!

"...even while they drive their Hummers..."

Republican Humvee owners outnumber Democrats by a ratio of 2.25 to 1. For every four Dems you see driving a Hummer, you'll see ten GOPpers. Got any more unsupportable generalizations you'd like to wrap in implication?

Current methane and carbon-dioxide levels are 130% and 30% higher than the highest detected in ice cores dating back 600,000 years. We can't blame that on volcanic activity. Most natural events, even spectacular ones, are part of the background.

Methane levels have doubled since the dawn of the industrial age, CO2 has increased by 25%. Those are increases of 100% and 42% respectively of the totals expected over an entire 100,000 cycle, produced in less than less than one-quarter of one percent of the glacial-interglacial period. It's hard to argue that human industry is NOT the reason why these levels are significantly higher than they've been in over half a million years. We're in an interglacial warm spell, yes, but these levels are unprecedented.

Let me remind you that DDT was found in the bodies of penguins in Antarctica, and radioactivity from the Chernobyl accident has been detected in ice at the South Pole. If you still want to argue against even the possibility of significant anthropogenic contributions to climate change, I'd say "Please, be my guest," but this head-in-the-sand approach may adversely impact the health and well-being of my descendants so instead I object, if only on Darwinian grounds. ;-)

"However, the WHEN is important."

Yes, it is. Climate is a complex system with many variables, including a delayed reponse. We cannot dodge a bullet at the last minute. Sooner is better than later, yet you seem to be arguing for "later" - why? Politics?

"I realize that geologists are weighing in on this too, and in that regard, there is a lot of opinion on both sides based on that information."

Yes, but I think the greater differences of opinion are espoused by political ideologues outside the scientific community.

"But humans do some pretty predictable things, and polarization is a pretty typical one."

I have to agree with you on that one. But I urge you to ignore politicized debate, ignore policies rooted in economics, and focus on the science. Exporting "the problem" to China isn't exporting it. This is a small planet and a closed system with a relatively constant energy supply (the sun). If we create an environment of increased radiative forcing, the temperature will go up more than it would it we didn't. On that level, it's as simple as ABC.

Venus.

Venus has become a solar-powered steam room with a mean surface temperature hot enough to melt sulphur and lead. The mean and maximum surface temperatures are higher than those of Mercury, despite being twice as far from the sun and receiving only one-quarter of the solar irradiance. Why? Runaway greenhouse effect. But what POSSIBLE relevance could that have to Earth, eh? ;-)

Paul's comment above illustrates the situation perfectly, and the "volcano" soundbite that refuses to die - the climatological equivalent of Darwin's deathbed recantation - serves as a one sentence epitome. Many otherwise well-educated people simply have no quantitative grasp of the sheer magnitude of humanity's impact on the earth's atmosphere and biosphere. They have picked up this notion that "we are so small, nature is so vast, how could our trivial activities possibly have any long-term or global consequences?"

Paul, check out http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/Hazards/What/VolGas/volgas.html
Volcanoes emit about 200 million tons of carbon dioxide per year. Emissions due to human activity are 150 times larger.

By Robert P. (not verified) on 27 Jul 2006 #permalink

I notice one thing with some scientists their reports. They are ambiguous fence erecting excercises.

You can tell that Global Warming is real by just looking at pictures of the northern polar caps melting. See there's finally something to point to and say, "Hey, that's different". What I don't like is the hysteria that usually surrounds any proclamation of Global Warming. I get the feeling this is a power play and GW as a excuse to grab it. What's really causing GW? If you google green house gasses you'll see that Water is a higher on the list than CO2. I'm not convinced yet that CO2 is the culprit. It's measured in parts per million. What have they ruled out? There was talk of El Niño years ago. Was there a consensus of what caused certain area of the ocean to warm up? Finally, if CO2 is the reason, aren't we smart enough to come up with a way to take it out of the atmosphere? All this hysteria assumes there's nothing we can do about it unless we go back to living like we did in the ice age. But you know; Global Warming ended that too.

By NatureSelectedMe (not verified) on 27 Jul 2006 #permalink

Paul, I'm sorry but you make a few assumptions in your post.

First of all, humans have been changing ecosystems for thousands of years, simply by damming rivers. To say we have not the capability of doing it by other means is foolishly errant. Even the Native Americans practiced something so simple as respecting the earth and what it provides you.

Thank you, those of you addressing the volcano argument. I've heard that one myself before, and it's just not realistic. First of all, volcanos aren't erupting daily in hundreds of point locations throughought the globe and in all climate zones. Cities with people driving cars however, are, and around the clock no less.

Paul, go see Al Gore's movie. The point about GW is not that this has been building for thousands of years and is going to get us, it's the fact that a very stark change can be shown from the time the industrial age began (only a little over 100 years ago) until now, that the CO2 content of the atmosphere has risen almost completely unabated. No other naturally occuring phenomenon has been observed that can explain this, other than the fact that human are not only far more industrious than we have EVER been in thousands of years, but our population density has TRIPLED in that time as well.

The "Left" is hyper enviromentalist? It sounds like you dont know your history well. Environmentalism actually started its life in the public eye with Teddy Roosevelt, a Republican. He was right about the environment then, and modern day equivalents are right about it now. In fact Teddy Roosevelt IV is a modern day classical conservative in the Republican party that comepletely disagrees with the line his party has taken on the environment. If you ask me no other man in that party knows more about it than he does, and he's agreeing with this "hard-left" power group you are implying. Saying the Republican party is taking a "relaxed" point of view sounds like a comment colored by their arguments. If by "relaxed" you mean "head in the sand", then you are right.

There is a rational middle on this issue. Unfortunately the debate is over, and the Republicans have lost on the facts, if not the propaganda. The middle ground is simply this: GW is a problem, and we need to do what we can to reduce our chances of not being able to turn back from the damage letting it go further will cause.

As far as liberals driving Hummers, I think you're making an assumption you can't back up. I'd like you to point me to the nationwide study that shows this. The liberals I know don't drive anything close to a hog like a Hummer.

Regarding your EPA comments, again, where's you proof of this? If the EPA didn't impose restrictions, we'd still be driving 60's era machinery, and polluting the air 4 times faster. Draconian requirements? You still honestly believe that after having oil men in the WH for the last 6 years?

Nixon established the EPA. It's not the orchestration of "elitist liberals". As bad of a guy as Nixon was, at least he got some things right. It was not created to drive the auto market. That's a cynical, extremely myopic view of its role. Please educate yourself further before spouting your emotion-based opinions.

Regarding China, even they have higher emission standards than we do. That's pretty sad, considering the opportunity this country is squandering.

By BlueIndependent (not verified) on 27 Jul 2006 #permalink

"I am not convinced that in the short 100 years or so that we have even cared about global warming, we could possibly detect a trend in an ecosystem as complex as the earth's."

As an undergrad, I was involved in some paleoclimate research, and I just have to say that we have detected all kinds of trends and patterns in the long-term climate history of this planet. One of the more famous ones is the glacial-interglacial patterns:
http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/slides/images/base/iceage18.gif

Just FYI.

QUOTE: "...If you google green house gasses you'll see that Water is a higher on the list than CO2. I'm not convinced yet that CO2 is the culprit. It's measured in parts per million. What have they ruled out? There was talk of El Niño years ago. Was there a consensus of what caused certain area of the ocean to warm up? Finally, if CO2 is the reason, aren't we smart enough to come up with a way to take it out of the atmosphere?..."

The reason water is listed is because the melting ice caps produced the water that is then heated by the sun and causes a much faster melting effect on the glaciers. This is really simple science.

Ice reflects solar energy, water absorbs it. That's the problem. CO2 is the root cause because it traps solar energy in the atmosphere, heating the air, melting the ice, which becomes warm water, which melts more ice.

Add to this massive deforestation in South America, and the problem very quickly becomes one we are less capable of controlling.

People are already devising ways to take CO2 out of the air. A few people have devised CO2 fan fields similar to the windmill fields now in several states and countries. But they don't get a lot of funding, and nobody has undertaken construction of these devices yet. They are still in proof-of-concept.

I'll say it again: see Al Gore's movie and it will make much more sense.

By BlueIndependent (not verified) on 27 Jul 2006 #permalink

The reason water is listed is because the melting ice caps produced the water that is then heated by the sun and causes a much faster melting effect on the glaciers. This is really simple science.

I don't think that's the reason. Do you know what "Greenhouse gas" means? Water vapor traps heat also. Like CO2.

By NatureSelectedMe (not verified) on 27 Jul 2006 #permalink

Yes I know what GH means. What do you think is causing more water vapor? Higher temps maybe?

You haven't proferred anything that might be a new theory, only symptoms of the problems we've already described.

By BlueIndependent (not verified) on 27 Jul 2006 #permalink

Yeah, and the problem is then it's implied that you're an elitist academic, that you're giving people a free pass because of their "qualifications", that you're advocating for not questioning the scientific establishment, that years ago everyone thought this but some guy came along and showed them they were wrong, etc.

I genuninely wish that every layman could have serious discussions about every kind of science. Maybe that was even true 300 years ago. It's not true now. Scientists spend 10 years or even a lifetime becoming specialized in one out of 1000 fields. And whlie it's still *possible* that some guy could come along and overturn things, it's probably a bad idea to base policies on a non-expert's doubt.

You haven't proferred anything that might be a new theory, only symptoms of the problems we've already described.

You want a new theory? A new THEORY?!! How about Your're an... :)

How about GW is caused by more water vapor. Look at how much water we use in industrial nations. Some of that will turn into water vapor. More water vapor traps more heat. What do you think? Remember to quote me if you use it.

By NatureSelectedMe (not verified) on 27 Jul 2006 #permalink

that's a great hypothesis, water vapor causing global warming. let's see how it holds up to scientific scrutiny:

http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/04/water-vapour-feed…

the most pertinent passage:
"While water vapour is indeed the most important greenhouse gas, the issue that makes it a feedback (rather than a forcing) is the relatively short residence time for water in the atmosphere (around 10 days)."

care to refine your hypothesis?

that's a great hypothesis, water vapor causing global warming.

You agree I see. :)

care to refine your hypothesis?

My hypothesis includes the increased use of water in industrialized nations. Think about it. Every shower puts more water in the atmosphere. Lawn watering and crop irrigation. The page you linked to doesn't address that. It's a good link, don't get me wrong. But I still question the effects based on the relative proportions: [Water vapor] about 0.3% of atmospheric mass, compared to about 0.06% for CO2)

By NatureSelectedMe (not verified) on 27 Jul 2006 #permalink

i find bold text helpful

"While water vapour is indeed the most important greenhouse gas, the issue that makes it a feedback (rather than a forcing) is the relatively short residence time for water in the atmosphere (around 10 days)."

Relatively short for each molecule. But if there a more molecules added than before, shouldn't that make a difference?

By NatureSelectedMe (not verified) on 27 Jul 2006 #permalink

Opps, my mistake, its a House Energy Committee report, NOT GAO.

I don't imagine this will change anything for the skeptics because they aren't really that interested in the science. The skeptics have been very good at framing the debate in their terms. I've written a detailed argument here so I won't repeat it, but in a nutshell they find a single piece of data, like cooling in parts of Antarctica, and then act as if the entirity of climate change science rests on that one piece of data. And when we win that battle, they simply find another piece of data and repeat the argument.

At this stage in the debate we really need to switch the burden of proof. There is so much evidence for climate change that the onus should be on the skeptics to come up with an explanation as to why increasing CO2 and the laws of physics wouldn't cause the planet to warm up. If their arguments aren't addressing either CO2 levels or the effect of CO2 in the atmosphere, then they are simply trying to distract everyone away from the real science. The concensus scientific community needs to do a better job of explaining this.

..."My hypothesis includes the increased use of water in industrialized nations. Think about it. Every shower puts more water in the atmosphere. Lawn watering and crop irrigation. The page you linked to doesn't address that. It's a good link, don't get me wrong. But I still question the effects based on the relative proportions: [Water vapor] about 0.3% of atmospheric mass, compared to about 0.06% for CO2)"

Your hypothesis is tempered yet again by the fact that Ray H stated. Water vapor stays in the air on average 10 days. Also, showers aren't running 24/7/365 like, for example, tractor trailers hauling cargo cross-country. Truckers don't shut their trucks off when they stop to unload, or to sleep. They leave the thing running because it often needs to move, and they leave the truck on while sleeping because the truck powers the cabin features they need to live in the cabin.

This is a small example of how CO2 is much more important to focus on. There are other greenhouse gases, but CO2 is by far the most important. I know it takes me longer to drive to work than it takes me to shower. How about you? Even if showering was a serious, measurable cause, they still aren't running as long as car engines, and their efficiency doesn't increase or decrease like a combustion engine's does.

It's really not even comparable. your observation is possibly more salient than say, people who claim smokers contribute to GW, but it's not even close to the CO2 that engines produce. Has anyone ever done such a study on showering?

By BlueIndependent (not verified) on 27 Jul 2006 #permalink

Every exhalation of hot air puts more water into the atmosphere, too.

Ok, no showers, sprinklers, or debates for ten days, ladies and gentleman. Problem solved. :-D

NSM: your issue is answered in the comments to the RealClimate posting (comment 75), ironically enough by a global warming skeptic:

hate to rain on your parade, John, but I think reason for the distinction between H2O and CO2 is quite clear. CO2 sticks around a good while while H2O rains out quickly. Therefore how much H20 is released is meaningless unless it is both constantly being released and the amount released is an appreciable % of the total H2O in the atmosphere. Autos and power plant emissions of H2O don't pass this test. I've worked through the math before and it's tiny.

What an interesting debate. But still the same tired old claim-counterclaim exchanges that have been going on concerning causes of an now obvious, global climate change.

Surely it's time to stamp on the skeptics. Humanity demands it of us when we deal with other nasties like pedophiles, who see nothing wrong in what they do. And the AGW skeptics are patently threatening our children, grandchildren.....

Water vapor from rainwater will have no effect on global warming, since the water we use came out of the atmosphere in the first place. Water from unrecharged aquifers would be a better analogy to burning CO2 from fossil fuels -- though not, of course, if the added water promptly rains out.

"Finally, if CO2 is the reason, aren't we smart enough to come up with a way to take it out of the atmosphere? All this hysteria assumes there's nothing we can do about it unless we go back to living like we did in the ice age."

Ah straw men, watch them burn... the hysteria here is from the denialists, who seem to think the world would go to hell if the scientists are right, and some of the Deep Green environmentalists. The mainstream is not assuming there's nothing we can do about it, but instead assumes that things will be bad *unless* we do something about it. Like solar power or nukes or sequestration, and above all investing in more efficient cars and devices. The whole point of predicting doom is to get people to do something to make the doom not happen.

Would those of you who've asked questions (volcanos, water vapor) tell us where you got your questions, and why you believe the source where you found them?

When we see the same questions come back over and over, either
-- they're 'intuitively obvious' mistakes, the kind kids make before they learn how to ask questions the smart way,* or
-- they're cut and pasted from one of the PR "advocacy science" advertising sites that provide puffery for the Western Fuels Association et al. ("Puffery" is defined as advertising that no reasonable reader is expected to take seriously.), or
-- they're the same people with new userids.

Where did you all get the idea that volcanos pollute more than people?

Where did you get the idea that water vapor residence time in the atmosphere would change if there were more of it? (On that latter point, take a few marbles and drop them. Then take a big handful of marbles and drop them. Do more marbles take longer to fall? That was intuitively obvious for a long time, everyone knew that was true. Is it still true?)
----------------------------
* http://catb.org/esr/faqs/smart-questions.html

Of course these are cut-and-paste "questions". Just as there hasn't been a really novel creationist claom in years. The same old crap just keeps on making the rounds.

By the way I note that there have been stories today about the coal and utility industries shoveling money at Pat Michaels. How shameful, not only that Michaels lets himself be bribed, but that businessmen are willing to try to promote garbage science and inhibit a rational response to a potentially devastating global problem that will affect their own children and grandchildren, all out of short-term financial self-interest. The love of money really is the root of all evil.

Truly, early 21st Century America is going to get a mighty rough ride in the history books a century on.

By Steve LaBonne (not verified) on 27 Jul 2006 #permalink

The mainstream is not assuming there's nothing we can do about it, but instead assumes that things will be bad *unless* we do something about it. Like solar power or nukes or sequestration, and above all investing in more efficient cars and devices. The whole point of predicting doom is to get people to do something to make the doom not happen.
The hysteria I hear is usually from environmentalist. Proposals like the Kyoto treaty are what I mean when I say this issue is a power grab. Hmm... who would be the big losers with that? If that were implemented would that even make a difference?

People are investing in solar power and the like now more than ever because of the recent spike in fuel prices. There's a need to fill made for entrepreneurs.

By NatureSelectedMe (not verified) on 27 Jul 2006 #permalink

"While politics and money have always polluted science, the Bush administration has made the business and religious perversion of science in federal policy-making so systematic that the subjugation of science in this country by these interests appears to be the administration's policy." - Dr. Erik Steele, in the Bangor Daily News, October 11, 2005

Would those of you who've asked questions (volcanos, water vapor) tell us where you got your questions, and why you believe the source where you found them?

How elitist of you. Can you be available all the time so when I have a question, I can run it by you first?

By NatureSelectedMe (not verified) on 27 Jul 2006 #permalink

Let's see. Who has the greatest incentive to lie? University scientists whose careers in no way depend on espousing a particular political position? (And to what "power" can they aspire? It is to laugh...) The energy industry, which worries about carbon taxes costing it a lot of profits? Michaels, perhaps the only significantly qualified sceptical scientist left, who is funded directly by the energy industry? Hmmmm...

By Steve LaBonne (not verified) on 27 Jul 2006 #permalink

Damien makes a perfectly obvious point too. Water from showers is naturally occurring. However, gasoline is a refine product from a natural medium that never gave off CO2 to begin with. CO2 is one of the biggest causes of GW because humanity is using it in ways that help humanity, but come about via a human-devised system that is widespread and not naturally occurring. If humans weren't here with all this ingenuity, CO2 wouldn't get released.

Humanity has immeasurable power over what happens to this planet, I don't care what anyone says. If we can control atoms to explode and kill millions of ourselves in one motion, we most certainly can affect over 100+ years the course of climate change.

Hank also makes a very valid request: who are the supposed scientists who are coming up with the anti-GW questions? What work have they done? What are their names? What are their backgrounds? Where's their data? Who has tempered their work to make sure it's honest? Asking these talking-point style questions has been given the air of refutation, when all it does is keep people in the undecided column for as long as possible. It is a dishonest form of debate, and it serves no one, least of all our children.

The arguments against GW in part argue for the continuation of our massive consumption of a limited resource that could ultimately end up killing us. Using all this oil has been a geo-political issue now for 3 decades, and it will only get worse until we slow down and get off the drug. I just sold my V6 car for a 4-cylinder model with a smaller gas tank. I fill up just as often, but I'm also using less. Everyone needs to do more, like working from home (which I've also started doing more of).

I would listen to other credible theories on what may be causing GW or rising temps, but no one has floated a theory as backed up as the one for GW. Thousands of scientists have come into agreement (some from previously divergent positions) over decades on this question, and I'm not about to crap on their hard work when they've helped us all positively on past problems, such as the ozone hole.

I am truly sick of all the scientist bashing from people who don't know jack about what they're criticizing, and assume all scientists are out to score political points. If republicanism has done anything in this country, it's created a wildfire of misplaced public distrust and obfuscation of issues that were once settled for very solid reasons. IMO, scientists have a track record that speaks for itself, and that track record makes me inclined to let them continue doing their job.

By BlueIndependent (not verified) on 27 Jul 2006 #permalink

IMO, scientists have a track record that speaks for itself, and that track record makes me inclined to let them continue doing their job.

Scientists are human you know. They can make mistakes too. But it's usually not the scientist that is the problem, it's the spokesperson. A scientist will do some research and a person with an agenda will interpret it a certain way. Take the amount of CO2 released into the atmosphere. One person will say humanity is releasing 26.7 billion tons of it but another will say it's increased only 1.7 parts per million. Both are correct but one sounds more alarming.

By NatureSelectedMe (not verified) on 27 Jul 2006 #permalink

The most immediate effect of global warming is rising sea levels due to melting ice, not the more indirect impact on the atmosphere and various ecosystems. How is it, then, that continental seashores across the world have not changed? By the hockey stick theory, there should already have been a perceptible advance of the shoreline into the coast, but there hasn't been one. Is it expected that the mean global temperature will reach some threshold at which point a massive tidal wave will drown coastal cities as beautifully dramaticized by "The Day After Tomorrow"?

The land ice hasn't really started melting yet on a large scale. (Melting sea ice doesn't raise sea levels.) It's not a linear process either- there is a long period of undermining followed by a rapid (in geological time) collapse. Google "meltwater pulse 1a" for an example of this happening in a previous interglacial period.

By Steve LaBonne (not verified) on 27 Jul 2006 #permalink

Hey, it works! That's neat! Haha!

I prefer a more objective approach which is that Yes, the planet most likely is getting warmer. The planet (with or without humans) has ALWAYS been either cooling, Ice Age, or warming. Take your pick. This is where we are NOW. Do we really know how far and for how long it will warm? no - the data is out for, oh probably several tens of thousands years. As for the 60 thousand dollar question - what can we insignificant little humans do about it? Nothing - the data and actual visual consensus says the Grand Canyon (and other areas around the globe) was under sea level wwwaaayyyy before Hummers, industry, hair spray or even the thought of humans. Sorry folks, we're just not that important. So relax, take care of your immediate environment and quality of life. Hope things get better before they get worse. We'll be LONG gone before things get ugly.

That's the stupid approach, not the "objective" approach. There's a big difference in the predicted rate and ultimate extent of sea-level rise with a 2 degree average temperature rise, which is achievable if we start significantly slowing the rate of growth of CO2 emissions now, and the 5 degree rise that is expected to result from business as usual.
It's the difference between a serious but manageable problem and a globall catastrophe. I wonder how many people with kids think "apres nous, le deluge" is a responsible atttude.

By Steve LaBonne (not verified) on 29 Jul 2006 #permalink

Carol, honey, stop sniffing the hair spray. Let the nice scientists share the real data and the nice, honest policy makers change policies before we ruin the future for my kids. My sister is a little loopy, and doesn't like it that I'm thinking about my children (she can't have any). Sorry to waste your time.