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Old 04-20-2010, 10:42 PM   #1
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The global warming catch-22

First off, I have to say that most AGW (anthropogenic global warming) deniers don’t make their arguments logically. I’ll admit this a generalization, but a very common argument is “AGW is a fraud because it’s a message pushed by liberals and government who have an agenda to push their socialist ways on the rest of the world at any cost and by any means necessary”.

They don’t appreciate that it can just as easily be turned around by the other side to say: “AGW deniers are a fraud because their message is being pushed by right wing conservatives who are so adamant about maintaining the status quo that they will do what ever it takes to do so and by any means necessary”.

The moral is both sides need to argue their points based on scientific evidence and not use the “damning the origin” fallacy and other “political agenda” arguments which can be used both ways. Frankly the AGW side is doing this better than their opponents.

Personally, I am in the middle and I also forecast weather for a living:

I see two parts to the warming issue (yes, we have warmed): Qualitative and quantitative.

1. Qualitatively there is strong evidence showing that increased CO2 will lead to higher temperatures and also that humans are increasing CO2 levels due to their industrial activities. This, coupled with the fact that proxy data, satellite data, and actual observations shows us that our temps in all likelihood are higher than they’ve been in hundreds if not a thousand or more years provides strong evidence that we are having at least some influence on the warming that has coincided quite well with increased industrial activity. Computer model simulations have been run and the results support this. The models show that while natural cycles have contributed to warming since the 19th century, they alone can not account for all the warming. I know models are not perfect but in this case the results support other evidence that is saying the same thing - we are having at least some influence. Bottom line, AGW side wins here.
Now the other side….

2. Quantitatively we simply can not know just how much “some human influence” actually amounts to since in all likelihood natural cycles (solar, ocean, etc) have contributed as well. Most notably the post 1979 warming coincides well with the warm phase of the Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO). In addition, solar activity has generally been much higher in recent decades than it was from 1550 - 1850 ( see little ice age / maunder minimum). So we just don’t know how much in terms of percent and actual numbers is natural vs. man made. It could be that the man made component is only a few tenths of a degree out of the 2 deg. F we have warmed since the late 1800s. This amount could still be enough to help tip the scales toward us being the warmest we’ve been in a very long time but otherwise means we don’t have a lot to worry about since it doesn’t amount to that much human influence - especially if feedbacks are more negative rather than positive and tend to counteract the warming as in increases. On the other hand it could be largely man made and it could also be that we have yet to “catch up” with all that we have put into that atmosphere since the earth’s response time is slow and a lot of heat can be stored deep in the oceans. In addition, if positive feedbacks kick in such as melting permafrost and methane release warming will increase dramatically as feared. So we just don’t know, we really don‘t! And I’ll admit that it is here where the sceptics (notice I didn’t say deniers) have some merit - Many people on the AGW side are more confident about the consequences of inaction than they rightfully can be since there are too many variables - both in ascertaining the causes of what has happened climate wise and in predicting future climate. But then in their defence, in a worst case scenario what if by the time we do know that we should have done something that it is too late to actually do something? And what if the only way to garner the political will to do something before then is to emphasize the negative and potentially catastrophic outcomes?

So the real incontinent truth may be the following catch 22:

We don’t know what will happen - GW could cascade into calamity or it could fizzle out and be a non issue in 30 years. However if is going to result in potential calamity we may have to act now before it is too late. The problem is people are only likely to take action if there is certain or near certain future danger. This comes back the first statement: we don’t know what will happen so we can’t be certain but if this truth is emphasized no action will be taken even though it may be vital we do take action!
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Old 04-20-2010, 11:15 PM   #2
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The big criticism I have of those who argue that global warming is happening is that they tend to go over to the Doomsday scenarios, sometimes to the point where they make it sound like no matter what we do, we're already likely screwed anyway. Which then tends to make people, even those who agree with them, go, "Well, if we're on an irreversible course anyway, what's the point in fighting this?" That, and if we criticize the Republicans for using scare tactics, it kinda doesn't make sense to turn around and use them on the other end. Just state the bare facts. Stress that it is imperative that we fix what we can from this, yes, but do it in a way that doesn't cause mass hysteria, but instead causes people to go, "Wow, that's not right. Let's see what we can do to take care of the problem."

I also think we desperately need to clarify exactly what the terms "climate change" and "global warming" mean, because there's still a lot of people out there that I don't think fully understand the definitions (like Fox News, for instance-see their reaction to the East Coast snowstorm of a couple months ago).

Anywho-global warming itself. I'm not going to get into the numbers portion of all of this, 'cause I'm no expert on that stuff and it's complicated math and that kind of math makes my head spin. But I don't see how people can deny that there isn't something weird going on in the atmosphere. When Vancouver doesn't get snow in the middle of winter and southern Louisiana does, when we go through a hurricane season where we get through all letters of the alphabet and into the Greek names (2005 season), when we have really warped periods of excessive precipitation or drought...I gotta think something's up. I think the earth will survive through it all-keep in mind the earth has survived some massive geological and atmospheric situations in its billions of years in rotation-but we won't, if whatever negative complications we're adding are severe enough. So mainly, the fight is for humans' survival more than it is the earth's, really.

Some of what's going on is, I believe, natural changes in the earth. Every number of years, it goes through cycles and we're just fortunate or unfortunate enough to be witness to some of those natural shifts. But some of it is man-made, too, you can't argue that, and most, if not all of our additions, aren't for the better, so it's worth investigating our part in all of this.

Besides, even if the global warming/climate change situation isn't as serious as people are making it out to be, I would think you'd want to take care of the earth just because it's a nice thing to do. Don't you want clean air and lakes? Don't you want to have species continue to thrive? Don't you want to go to a park and not have trash everywhere? I don't get the stubborn resistance some people have to environmental issues.

Angela
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Old 04-24-2010, 08:47 PM   #3
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"I would think you'd want to take care of the earth just because it's a nice thing to do. Don't you want clean air and lakes?"

~Angela


Yes, I agree.

I live on a farm where we grow vegetables, livestock, and we cut firewood.

The trees really do grow back.
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Old 04-24-2010, 08:57 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by the iron horse View Post

The trees really do grow back.
Yes, but if you cut down all the trees on your land in one season, how long would it take for you to have trees that size again?

The question isn't if they grow back, but at what rate?
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Old 04-24-2010, 09:12 PM   #5
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Some of us are very much conservationists. We enjoy nature, clean water to fish and swim in and clear air. We support setting land aside for parks and regulations that limit the levels of actual toxins that spoil nature or are unhealthy.
But we don't think CO2 is a toxin and we think modern environmentalism is guided by socialist politics, corrupt science and Pantheism.

Oh, and Al Gore is an ass-clown.
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Old 04-24-2010, 09:38 PM   #6
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Some of us are very much conservationists. We enjoy nature, clean water to fish and swim in and clear air.
If this was true, you'd still want cleaner cars, corporations, and other "socialist" environmental precautions.

I think when Beck-likes started labeling environmentalist as socialists conservationists selfishly stayed quiet in your party. This was something all sides could have agreed on decades ago, except people on the right started playing political games. Then of course you have the Rush-likes who braggingly go against conservationist living just to try and prove a point.
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Old 04-24-2010, 10:04 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by INDY500 View Post
Some of us are very much conservationists. We enjoy nature, clean water to fish and swim in and clear air. We support setting land aside for parks and regulations that limit the levels of actual toxins that spoil nature or are unhealthy.
But we don't think CO2 is a toxin and we think modern environmentalism is guided by socialist politics, corrupt science and Pantheism.

Oh, and Al Gore is an ass-clown.


Amen
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