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Old 07-28-2006, 05:17 AM   #1
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The Right Approach to Global Warming

Michael Shermer (editor of Skeptic) wrote this great opinion piece where he does a turnabout on anthropogenic global warming, I remain to be convinced on the nature and degree but this is definitely the right approach to the subject
Quote:
In 2001 Cambridge University Press published Bjørn Lomborg's book The Skeptical Environmentalist, which I thought was a perfect debate topic for the Skeptics Society public lecture series at the California Institute of Technology. The problem was that all the top environmental organizations refused to participate. "There is no debate," one spokesperson told me. "We don't want to dignify that book," another said. One leading environmentalist warned me that my reputation would be irreparably harmed if I went through with it. So of course I did.

My experience is symptomatic of deep problems that have long plagued the environmental movement. Activists who vandalize Hummer dealerships and destroy logging equipment are criminal ecoterrorists. Environmental groups who cry doom and gloom to keep donations flowing only hurt their credibility. As an undergraduate in the 1970s, I learned (and believed) that by the 1990s overpopulation would lead to worldwide starvation and the exhaustion of key minerals, metals and oil, predictions that failed utterly. Politics polluted the science and made me an environmental skeptic.

Nevertheless, data trump politics, and a convergence of evidence from numerous sources has led me to make a cognitive switch on the subject of anthropogenic global warming. My attention was piqued on February 8 when 86 leading evangelical Christians--the last cohort I expected to get on the environmental bandwagon--issued the Evangelical Climate Initiative calling for "national legislation requiring sufficient economy-wide reductions" in carbon emissions.

Then I attended the TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference in Monterey, Calif., where former vice president Al Gore delivered the single finest summation of the evidence for global warming I have ever heard, based on the recent documentary film about his work in this area, An Inconvenient Truth. The striking before-and-after photographs showing the disappearance of glaciers around the world shocked me out of my doubting stance.
link

I suggest reading the whole article.
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Old 07-28-2006, 10:05 AM   #2
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[q]July 27, 2006
Op-Ed Contributor
Cold, Hard Facts
By PETER DORAN
Chicago

IN the debate on global warming, the data on the climate of Antarctica has been distorted, at different times, by both sides. As a polar researcher caught in the middle, I’d like to set the record straight.

In January 2002, a research paper about Antarctic temperatures, of which I was the lead author, appeared in the journal Nature. At the time, the Antarctic Peninsula was warming, and many people assumed that meant the climate on the entire continent was heating up, as the Arctic was. But the Antarctic Peninsula represents only about 15 percent of the continent’s land mass, so it could not tell the whole story of Antarctic climate. Our paper made the continental picture more clear.

My research colleagues and I found that from 1986 to 2000, one small, ice-free area of the Antarctic mainland had actually cooled. Our report also analyzed temperatures for the mainland in such a way as to remove the influence of the peninsula warming and found that, from 1966 to 2000, more of the continent had cooled than had warmed. Our summary statement pointed out how the cooling trend posed challenges to models of Antarctic climate and ecosystem change.

Newspaper and television reports focused on this part of the paper. And many news and opinion writers linked our study with another bit of polar research published that month, in Science, showing that part of Antarctica’s ice sheet had been thickening — and erroneously concluded that the earth was not warming at all. “Scientific findings run counter to theory of global warming,” said a headline on an editorial in The San Diego Union-Tribune. One conservative commentator wrote, “It’s ironic that two studies suggesting that a new Ice Age may be under way may end the global warming debate.”

In a rebuttal in The Providence Journal, in Rhode Island, the lead author of the Science paper and I explained that our studies offered no evidence that the earth was cooling. But the misinterpretation had already become legend, and in the four and half years since, it has only grown.

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?

Also missing from the skeptics’ arguments is the debate over our conclusions. Another group of researchers who took a different approach found no clear cooling trend in Antarctica. We still stand by our results for the period we analyzed, but unbiased reporting would acknowledge differences of scientific opinion.

The disappointing thing is that we are even debating the direction of climate change on this globally important continent. And it may not end until we have more weather stations on Antarctica and longer-term data that demonstrate a clear trend.

In the meantime, I would like to remove my name from the list of scientists who dispute global warming. I know my coauthors would as well.

Peter Doran is an associate professor of earth and environmental sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago.



http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/27/op...gewanted=print

[/q]
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Old 07-28-2006, 01:46 PM   #3
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Quote:
Another Ice Age?

Monday, Jun 24, 1974 Time Magazine cover story

In Africa, drought continues for the sixth consecutive year, adding terribly to the toll of famine victims. During 1972 record rains in parts of the U.S., Pakistan and Japan caused some of the worst flooding in centuries. In Canada's wheat belt, a particularly chilly and rainy spring has delayed planting and may well bring a disappointingly small harvest. Rainy Britain, on the other hand, has suffered from uncharacteristic dry spells the past few springs. A series of unusually cold winters has gripped the American Far West, while New England and northern Europe have recently experienced the mildest winters within anyone's recollection.

As they review the bizarre and unpredictable weather pattern of the past several years, a growing number of scientists are beginning to suspect that many seemingly contradictory meteorological fluctuations are actually part of a global climatic upheaval. However widely the weather varies from place to place and time to time, when meteorologists take an average of temperatures around the globe they find that the atmosphere has been growing gradually cooler for the past three decades. The trend shows no indication of reversing. Climatological Cassandras are becoming increasingly apprehensive, for the weather aberrations they are studying may be the harbinger of another ice age.

Telltale signs are everywhere —from the unexpected persistence and thickness of pack ice in the waters around Iceland to the southward migration of a warmth-loving creature like the armadillo from the Midwest.Since the 1940s the mean global temperature has dropped about 2.7° F. Although that figure is at best an estimate, it is supported by other convincing data. When Climatologist George J. Kukla of Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory and his wife Helena analyzed satellite weather data for the Northern Hemisphere, they found that the area of the ice and snow cover had suddenly increased by 12% in 1971 and the increase has persisted ever since. Areas of Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic, for example, were once totally free of any snow in summer; now they are covered year round.

Scientists have found other indications of global cooling. For one thing there has been a noticeable expansion of the great belt of dry, high-altitude polar winds —the so-called circumpolar vortex—that sweep from west to east around the top and bottom of the world. Indeed it is the widening of this cap of cold air that is the immediate cause of Africa's drought. By blocking moisture-bearing equatorial winds and preventing them from bringing rainfall to the parched sub-Sahara region, as well as other drought-ridden areas stretching all the way from Central America to the Middle East and India, the polar winds have in effect caused the Sahara and other deserts to reach farther to the south. Paradoxically, the same vortex has created quite different weather quirks in the U.S. and other temperate zones. As the winds swirl around the globe, their southerly portions undulate like the bottom of a skirt. Cold air is pulled down across the Western U.S. and warm air is swept up to the Northeast. The collision of air masses of widely differing temperatures and humidity can create violent storms—the Midwest's recent rash of disastrous tornadoes, for example.

Sunspot Cycle. The changing weather is apparently connected with differences in the amount of energy that the earth's surface receives from the sun. Changes in the earth's tilt and distance from the sun could, for instance, significantly increase or decrease the amount of solar radiation falling on either hemisphere—thereby altering the earth's climate. Some observers have tried to connect the eleven-year sunspot cycle with climate patterns, but have so far been unable to provide a satisfactory explanation of how the cycle might be involved.

Man, too, may be somewhat responsible for the cooling trend. The University of Wisconsin's Reid A. Bryson and other climatologists suggest that dust and other particles released into the atmosphere as a result of farming and fuel burning may be blocking more and more sunlight from reaching and heating the surface of the earth.

Climatic Balance. Some scientists like Donald Oilman, chief of the National Weather Service's long-range-prediction group, think that the cooling trend may be only temporary. But all agree that vastly more information is needed about the major influences on the earth's climate. Indeed, it is to gain such knowledge that 38 ships and 13 aircraft, carrying scientists from almost 70 nations, are now assembling in the Atlantic and elsewhere for a massive 100-day study of the effects of the tropical seas and atmosphere on worldwide weather. The study itself is only part of an international scientific effort known acronymically as GARP (for Global Atmospheric Research Program).

Whatever the cause of the cooling trend, its effects could be extremely serious, if not catastrophic. Scientists figure that only a 1% decrease in the amount of sunlight hitting the earth's surface could tip the climatic balance, and cool the planet enough to send it sliding down the road to another ice age within only a few hundred years.

The earth's current climate is something of an anomaly; in the past 700,000 years, there have been at least seven major episodes of glaciers spreading over much of the planet. Temperatures have been as high as they are now only about 5% of the time. But there is a peril more immediate than the prospect of another ice age. Even if temperature and rainfall patterns change only slightly in the near future in one or more of the three major grain-exporting countries—the U.S., Canada and Australia —global food stores would be sharply reduced. University of Toronto Climatologist Kenneth Hare, a former president of the Royal Meteorological Society, believes that the continuing drought and the recent failure of the Russian harvest gave the world a grim premonition of what might happen. Warns Hare: "I don't believe that the world's present population is sustainable if there are more than three years like 1972 in a row."
Here's what's interesting to me about this 30 year-old article. Take out the dates and switch all references about cooling to heating and you'd swear you were reading a 2006 article on global warming. Because it:
1) Quotes lots of scientists.
2) Cites anecdotal evidence as proof.
3) At some point blames humans.
4) Uses the word catastrophic at least once.
5) Concludes the article with a prophecy of doom.

One final question. If, as this article suggests, mankind was now up to our ass in an Ice Age in the year 2006...would SUVs still be evil?
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Old 07-28-2006, 06:26 PM   #4
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hmmm... ok, what happens if you guys are wrong, and Al Gore is right? Would we just say 'Oh, too bad'?
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Old 07-28-2006, 06:58 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by all_i_want
hmmm... ok, what happens if you guys are wrong, and Al Gore is right? Would we just say 'Oh, too bad'?
Isn't that a lot easier than actually doing something about it?
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Old 07-28-2006, 07:06 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally posted by randhail


Isn't that a lot easier than actually doing something it?
you have a point. it actually IS pretty easy!
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Old 07-28-2006, 07:08 PM   #7
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Please define "doing something about it".
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Old 07-28-2006, 09:19 PM   #8
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Precicely, the ability to actually do anything about it is very important, Kyoto does not do anything about it and is an effectively dead treaty. We should be spending a fraction of the spent setting up these absurd regulations to get a better idea of the facts and then start applying cost-benefit analysis.
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Old 07-28-2006, 09:28 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by nbcrusader
Please define "doing something about it".
Participating in research to come to a definite conclusion on the whole controversy would be very constructive indeed. That way we'd have a better idea of who's "right" and who's "wrong".
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Old 07-28-2006, 09:33 PM   #10
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But thats not what Gore or any of the doom mongers are advocating, they just use the issue to pursue their own political agenda, green politics is left wing.
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Old 07-28-2006, 09:41 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by A_Wanderer
But thats not what Gore or any of the doom mongers are advocating, they just use the issue to pursue their own political agenda, green politics is left wing.
I know they're not, and I think they are making a mistake by not advocating research. There's a way to resolve this controversy. To be perfectly honest, I'm not a huge Gore fan. I was really turned off when he endorsed Howard Dean. He should have been endorsing his old running mate Joe Lieberman. The guy has loyalty problems.
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Old 07-28-2006, 10:29 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by A_Wanderer
But thats not what Gore or any of the doom mongers are advocating, they just use the issue to pursue their own political agenda, green politics is left wing.
did you read the article you posted ?


(as you suggested we do)



or did you just stop with what you posted


he has gone from skeptic to believer

because of the evidence and science



Quote:
Because of the complexity of the problem, environmental skepticism was once tenable. No longer. It is time to flip from skepticism to activism.
as for Al Gore

at least he is getting the message out

that the "House is on fire"

while all the others are just saying
"isn't it cozy"

If people will stop debating the message
maybe we can put the fire out
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Old 07-28-2006, 11:04 PM   #13
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I posted the story because it shows the right way to approach the issue, he has weighed up the evidence and come to a conclusion, I tink that more work needs to be done on what exactly is going on before finding the most effective solution, I respect the manner in which he reached the conclusion.
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Old 07-28-2006, 11:12 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally posted by A_Wanderer
I think that more work needs to be done on what exactly is going on before finding the most effective solution, I respect the manner in which he reached the conclusion.

he is a regular on one of my public stations
and i live driving distance to Cal Tec
and have almost gone to hear him speak
he is a rational thinker, repectful of religious people,

anyways, his conclusion is that time is running (or has ran) out

it is time to do something
not study it more
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Old 07-28-2006, 11:44 PM   #15
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What course of action if any delivers a positive result? What are the benefits of a warmer planet, what are the costs?
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