Inconvenient Uncertainties and Moral Ambiguities

An Inconvenient Truth, the new movie centered on former vice-president Al Gore's famous global warming slide show, will open in select theaters on May 24th. The movie trailer warns: "If you live on this planet: If you love your children: You have to see this film." Gore declares that man-made global warming "is really not a political issue so much as it is a moral issue." At the conclusion the words "Nothing is scarier than the truth" appear on screen and then Gore portentously intones: "Our ability to live is what is at stake."

Gore is correct that the scientific consensus is that humanity is causing global warming. Earlier this month, a report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration concluded: Global-average temperature increased at a rate of about 0.12 degrees C per decade since 1958, and about 0.16 degrees C per decade since 1979. In the tropics, temperature increased at about 0.11 degrees C per decade since 1958, and about 0.13 degrees C per decade since 1979.

Gore warns that melting ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica could lead to a sea level rise of twenty feet inundating Florida, Bangladesh, Shanghai, and New York City. But there is a lot less certainty than he implies in such scenarios. For example, a 2005 computer modeling study in Geophysical Research Letters found that Greenland is losing ice which is contributing annually about 15 millimeter to the rise in global sea levels. However, another 2005 study published in Science found that Greenland's ice sheet was growing in the interior while melting along the edges, perhaps resulting in some net accumulation of ice. And then in February 2006, yet another study in Science finds that glaciers in southern Greenland are flowing faster into the sea.

And scientific knowledge about what is going on with Antarctica's ice sheets is similarly uncertain. For example, a perspective article in the June 25, 2005 issue of Science found that on balance Antarctica's ice cap is thickening and thus reducing sea level rise. A new study based on satellite measurements that detect minute differences in gravity found that Antarctica is losing ice. But others conclude from those measurements that melting ice from Antarctica may not be contributing to sea level rise.

Researchers generally project that the complete melting away of the Greenland ice sheet caused by global warming would take between 500 and 1000 years. A new modeling study suggests that if the average temperature increases by 4 degrees centigrade, we could see a rise in sea level of 20 feet by 2100. Keep in mind that 4 degrees centigrade is at the high end of projected average increases in global temperatures. The trends in the NOAA study cited above suggest that temperature increases over the next century will be at the low end of the projections.

In any case, while there is wide agreement that man-made global warming is happening, what to do about it is very much contested. Having seen only the movie trailer at this point, I don't know exactly what Gore's latest plan is, but I suspect that he favors schemes for reducing greenhouse gases emitted by humanity, given his support for the Kyoto Protocol. If the goal is to stabilize concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, then emissions will have to be cut by 70 percent. What will be cut? The use of fossil fuels which have powered a 20-fold increase in world gross domestic product from $2 trillion in 1900 to over $40 trillion today. It may well be possible to shift to other energy sources to fuel humanity's future, but some argue that global warming is not the main problem that faces the bulk of humanity -- poverty is.

In an attempt to counter the media blitz that will accompany the release of An Inconvenient Truth, the free-market Competitive Enterprise Institute, based in Washington, DC, is launching a campaign today featuring two television spots proclaiming that the chief greenhouse gas "CO2 Is Life." The first ad, titled "Energy," properly reminds viewers that fossil fuels "freed us from a world of back-breaking labor" and are used "to create and move the things we need." The ending voiceover declares, "Carbon dioxide. They call it pollution; we call it life." The second spot entitled "Glaciers" points out the scientific uncertainties about how global warming is affecting glaciers in Antarctica and Greenland. The "Glaciers" spot also makes the point that the media tend to headline findings that portend doom, while overlooking less alarming scientific results.

Neither of CEI's TV spots denies the existence of man-made global warming, but they do call attention to the enormous benefits that people have gained from fossil fuels and point to significant scientific uncertainties. CEI's spots are not subtle (hard to do in 60 seconds of video), but neither is the trailer for the movie about Gore's crusade. In both media presentations, CEI and Gore are ignoring scientific evidence that cuts against their views.

In the end, the debate over global warming and its obverse, humanity's energy future, is a moral issue. Global warming may well harm humanity by disturbing the environment, but forcing the world's poorest people (2 billion of whom have never even turned on a light bulb) to use more expensive and technically challenging fuels would also cause great harm. In a sense, Gore is right: What is at stake is our ability to live.

Disclosure: I was the 1993 Warren Brookes Fellow in Environmental Journalism at the Competitive Enterprise Institute and I have been the editor of three CEI volumes on environmental policy and science. I also dine and go drinking with CEI staff members from time to time and we usually split the check.

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  • ||

    Ronald Bailey,

    Are you serial?

  • ||

    What was with that "joke"? Serial? Yeah, he keeps mispronouncing "serious"...why? Is that something that he does in real life? Someone help me out here.

  • ||

    ...nobody doubts the existence of Manbearpig---the moral question is, what do we do about it?

  • ||

    I'd drive 500 miles to see this movie!!

  • ||

    I am not certain that it is "widely accepted" that man has had a significant impact on global warming. A lot peopel agree, maybe, especially the ones who get a voice in the media, but it isn't clearly some super-majority.

    Try selling this to a movie producer: "I've got this idea for a documentary that conclusively demonstrates that the impact of human-induced is negligible. We interview a few Vikings who saw first-hand how the ice sheet were dropping into the sea a thousand years ago. It got warm back then, too, then cooled until 1880 when fossil fuel abuse began. Unfortunately, the Manbearpig refused to be interviewed on camera." The WOW factor just isn't there.

    I suspect that that has more to do with the one-sidedness of the global warming "debate" than just about anything else.

  • ||

    Just for fun, I'd like to see a gross estimate of how much fossil fuel was used in the making of this movie. Not that it would bear on the arguments therein one way or another, but it would be fun to point out to Gore how much oil was burned to make his little movie.

  • ||

    It makes sense that Gore is calling it a moral issue since global warming hysteria is more religion than science. We are all terrible sinners for tacky consumptive lifestyles and must pay a pennance by letting people like Gore run our lives and save us from ourselves.

  • ||

    It is absolutely false that there is any warming, I don't believe it. Also, I cannot see how we could ever run out of oil. It is accepted truth tah as long as we keep looking for it we will always find it.

  • ||

    >>It is accepted truth tah >> I meant >> It is accepted truth that

  • ||

    Evan,

    Is that something that he does in real life?

    You can google it.

  • ||

    Evan,

    It would also be fun so see how many times Gore flys on private jets instead of commercial ones and rides in limos rather than sedans, where he sets his thermostat, and so forth and figure out how much energy Gore uses every year and then compare that to the energy used by the average person and also the average energy use Gore wants us to adopt. Again, not that it would have any real bearing on the argument, but it would be fun to see what a hypocrite he really is when it comes to his lifestyle.

  • ||

    Sounds like one of those "In Search Of..." movies.

  • ||

    Actually the second of these CEI commercials *does* imply that the scientific consensus on global warming is wrong. But if you actually read the two Science papers they reference, you'll find that both make it clear their results are consistent with the predictions of global warming. So the studies in the commercial show the exact opposite of what the CEI claims.

  • ||

    Russ:

    Thanks. Now I can't get that "In Search Of.." theme out of my HEAD!!

    The sideburns looked cool on Spock, though.

  • ||

    I'm not claiming the sea wouldn't rise with global warming.

    However, with global warming, wouldn't we see more evaporation than now? And hence more rainfall somewhere as the evaporation turned to precipitation? Is it really clear whether this precipitation takes plave over the ocean again, or whether less than 100% of the water is returned to the sea with the 100-x% going to land-based rain?

    This is only a thought. I have no idea of the science of it all.

  • ||

    Oh, okay, so oh jesus this is funny...

    Sorry, okay, so Phileleutherus Lipsiensus recommended that I google the whole Al Gore "serial" thing. While I found no good explanation other than it was just a dumb joke about his drawl, I did come across this DailyKOS thread regarding the SP episode. Um, well, you'll have to read it for yourself, but, suffice to say, it's funny as a MOTHERfucker to watch these uber-liberal pussies bitch and whine about how Southpark isn't funny and that episode was awful and Matt & Trey are idiots...all because they weren't nice to their buddy Al.

    If that episode were devoted to ripping Bush instead of Gore, those little fair weather monkeys would be sucking Matt & Trey's nuts as we speak.

  • ||

    I'm sure that Gore's previous ties with Big Oil were purely Occidental.

  • R C Dean||

    while there is wide agreement that man-made global warming is happening

    Is there? I thought NOAA had said it finally reconciled the data, and only now could say unequivocally that warming was occurring. I thought NOAA was silent on the cause.

    . But if you actually read the two Science papers they reference, you'll find that both make it clear their results are consistent with the predictions of global warming.

    Which only means that the data does not falsify the predictions of global warming.

    However, as far as I know we are a long way from understanding the mechanisms that drive long-term climate change, which means it is very premature to assign any level of causation to something like anthropogenic CO2.

    Now, if reducing CO2 was a cost-free exercise, these would be academic questions. Since, however, people are pushing insanely costly schemes to do just that, I don't think its asking too much that they get the science right first.

  • ||

    It's obvious that Ron is now on Gore's payroll.

    That was a joke, just a joke....

  • ||

    On carbon cycle

    It's a slow day, now that the finals have passed, so I have a few minutes to lift some figures from a textbook I am using for my Environmental Science class (Cunnigham, Cunningham and Saigo, 9th ed.). On p.68 there is a diagram depicting the carbon cycle. Overall emissions of CO2 into the atmosphere is about 197 Gt per year. Human component there? Fifty percent? Seventy percent? No. Being generous, one can say that humans are responsible for whopping 7 Gt of carbon. My point? It's actually twofold. One, Kyoto Protocol might well be the ONLY thing Bush got right over the last 5 years: calculation of the carbon emission reduction allowed me to liken it - if fully implemented - to $0.25 rebate on a $100 purchase - only to get that rebate you need to do 100 pushups, 25 pullups, send in the form via certified mail and then the rebate may be issued (or maybe not). Two, since CO2 uptake is so massive (192 Gt), boosting it by lousy 5% (iron in the open ocean, whatever works) will take care of all the human-emitted CO2, and then some. Point two-b - OK, is uptake boosted by that much with increased CO2 - without human interference?

    Engineering approach, anyone?

  • ||

    David: I don't hear the implication that man-made global warming is not happening--it does imply that global warming is not necessarily a disaster. I actually linked a Science press release describing the Greenland article and a link to an abstract of Antarctic one cited by CEI is here. I would link to the actual articles but Science wants people to pay for access to them. As you say they are "consistent" with man-made global warming, but they do also suggest that 20 foot rises in sea level may be overstated and that more research needs to be done.

  • Jeffrey Smith||

    The defining characteristic of the left may be turning technical issues into moral ones. In general, this does not lead to better thoughts, or better policy.

    Jeff

  • ||

    If I am not mistaken, water vapor constitues about 92-95% of all greenhouse gases. CO2, nitrous oxide, and methane make up the remainder. The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere even in concentrated forms is only about 1-2%. This equates to about 370 ppm, of which how much is man made no one knows.

    If that is the case, why hasn't anyone studied the effects of water vapor on GW?

    I do like the point some people have made about made made GW as a religion. Perhaps ALGORE should start building churches with confessionals. Before the ordained GW Priest gives absolution we must confess our sins of consumption, and promise to stay away from the near occaisons of sin (SUVs, lawn mowers, and jet travel).

  • Charles||

    I'm sure someone can explain to me why exactly this is impossible, but I've always thought it would be a good idea to lower the sea levels by pumping water deep into Antarctica, where it would turn into taller and taller mountains of ice. Somebody could do this I think in Russia, too -- aren't parts of northern Siberia continuous permafrost? Countries could be required to do so by the amount of carbon dioxide they produced -- the US, under some median estimate, will cause so many feet in rising sea levels over the next fifty years, so they have to pump so many millions of gallons of sea water in the same time period. It would be ridiculously expensive at the outset, but it would also be a lot cheaper than signing Kyoto. Even without global warming, that might be a good idea.

  • ||

    Er... JP. What "ppm" stands for? And how does it convert to percentages?

  • ||

    The defining characteristic of the left may be turning technical issues into moral ones. In general, this does not lead to better thoughts, or better policy.

    No, but it does allow you to scream at disbelieving heretics with holier-that-thou uppityness and impunity. Much more fun.

    If that is the case, why hasn't anyone studied the effects of water vapor on GW?

    Because, big, bad capitalists don't emit water vapor, at least not at the same magnitude. Doesn't scale well with their politcal ambitions as well as CO2 does.

    Water vapor you say? And then they came for the Hydrogen-fueled cars....

  • ||

    RC,
    NOAA also keeps a nice site that tracks changes in ENSO (Southern OScillation). This is still a rather vague field (the study of teleconnections is still a new branch of climo), but the very warm global temps of the late 90s corresponeded to a very intense cycle of warm water temps in the Central Pac. Likewise for the heatwaves of the late 80s.

    So, unless someone could prove that El Nino is caused by GW, NOAA isn't quite in agreement with ALGORE>

  • ||

    Al Gore aside, that was one of the dumbest south park episodes on record...

  • VM||

    what is NBSN.edu?

  • ||

    Ron, you've got the wrong link to:

    "But others conclude from those measurements that melting ice from Antarctica MAY NOT BE CONTRIBUTING to sea level rise."

    Could you re-post the right one? I'd love to see it.

  • ||

    Ron, you've got the wrong link to:

    "But others conclude from those measurements that melting ice from Antarctica MAY NOT BE CONTRIBUTING to sea level rise."

    Could you re-post the right one? I'd love to see it.

  • ||

    VM - you REALLY think I'd post my real Email address?

  • ||

    ppm = parts per million

  • ||

    Pro: yeah. And what that would be in percents? JP?

  • ||

    My point here being that JP doesn't know what s/he is talking about, because 300 ppm is not 1-2%, and it is not anywhere near. Oh well, 99% of the global warming skeptics give the rest a bad name.

  • Warren||

    Say Ron,
    How come your name has a mailto link here in the comments but not on the main page? Just wonder'n

  • MP||

    VM - you REALLY think I'd post my real Email address?

    Pussy.

  • Statistics Geek||

    Pro: yeah. And what that would be in percents? JP?

    1% = 10,000 ppm. So 1 ppm = 0.0001%.

  • ||

    Statistics Geek:

    *SIGH* But I wanted to hear that from JP...

  • ||

    I don't know about Al Gore's energy consumption habits, but I do know he didn't teach his son that cars get much better gas milage somewhere under 105 miles per hour.

  • ||

    "I'm sure that Gore's previous ties with Big Oil were purely Occidental."

    *badump-kssshh*

  • ||

    Someone with a better understanding of climatology help me here. Let's imagine that it is true, global warming causes glacial melting. But, at the same time, it would increase global evaporation levels. This would increase precipitation. Doesn't rain act as a cooling agent, consequently balancing the effect of greenhouse gases?

  • ||

    Ann O'Nymous

    Regarding the small percentage of the carbon cycle attributed to man. It is interesting to think of this as an economy... if a factor was responsible for 5% of economic production, it would be considered a major player.

    When you are talking about a fantastically complex system, a small push in one direction or another can have large and very unpredictable consequences. An economy is very complex... but certainly no more complex than the atmosphere.

  • ||

    Slightly on topic:

    Canada, who signed the Kyoto Treaty with much fanfare and finger wagging at the U.S. is 39 percent ABOVE their greenhouse emissions. Canadian officials, they'd have to ground all commercial airlines or some such dramatic exercise to meet the protocol, so all they can do is purchase 'credits' from small countries which haven't exceeded their limits (but soon will as their economies expand).

  • ||

    Brad:
    This would increase precipitation. Doesn't rain act as a cooling agent, consequently balancing the effect of greenhouse gases?

    Yes, maybe, or not... possibly, depending on where and what feedback mechanisms take over, etc. etc. etc. Welcome to the dismal science that is climatology.

    This is why even with a 'concensus' of scientists agreeing that yes, there is some warming occurring and that warming is probably due to 'human activity' read: co2 emissions, exactly what the future holds is highly uncertain. There are many so-called feedback mechanisms such as the water vapor upon which you comment. An increase of warming could and probably will set off other environmental factors which could limit and in some cases, even reverse a warming trend. But even if true, that will lead to more warning calls of environmental disaster.

    One thing that's rarely discussed is that 'global' climate change can be caused by other factors, not related to co2, but still related to human 'activity'. If you add up the effects of all human activity- say-- plowing a field, or growing a grove of trees-- those will have global implications. The question then becomes, do we take this as a matter of truth, accept it, adapt and move on, or do we simply try to stop all human activity (or unpopular human activity) which can arguably be tied to any climate change.

  • ||

    I'll also add that as temperatures rise, the precipitation tends to be more in the form of rain, as opposed to snow. As any Californian can tell you, rain rushes down hills, erodes the land, and causes flooding. Snow on the other hand is buffered - the water is released gradually and in a manner that is generally more beneficial.

    This is a REALLY complex system, and as with any complex system, subject to the laws of chaos and such, you never really know what its going to do in response to a given input.

    Then again, the same goes for the economy. One might be tempted to think that forcing down levels of CO2 emissions would slow economic growth. It does seem reasonable, but I would be interested in a deeper study looking at the economic activity spurred by being forced to adopt new energy sources and delivery methods.

  • ||

    Bush voters are stupid, and this thread proves it.

  • ||

    So Paul, as I understand it you're saying that climate systems are large, poorly understood, and filled with feedback mechanisms which will produce continuous oscillations, no mater what humans do or don't do. This means that we can count on our friends, the quasi religious environmentalists to implicity assume that climate should be static and argue that selected oscillations are evidence of man-made interference with our quasi sacred environment and therefore we should surrender our lives to their continual and intrusive regulation in order that they may save us from ourselves.
    Is this a fair summary of what you were saying? If so, I think you're right.

  • James Anderson Merritt||

    Bailey says, "In any case, while there is wide agreement that man-made global warming is happening, what to do about it is very much contested..."

    I add my voice to those who doubt that there is "wide agreement" on the human contribution to global warming. I also doubt that there is much that people can do about it, except adapt. Climate shift does seem to be happening, but Mother Nature is by far the most likely perpetrator of the change. I think we are being very arrogant to assert that we either caused or can cure what is happening.

    JP says, "If I am not mistaken, water vapor constitues about 92-95% of all greenhouse gases. CO2, nitrous oxide, and methane make up the remainder. ... If that is the case, why hasn't anyone studied the effects of water vapor on GW?"

    Water vapor is the pre-eminent greenhouse gas, such a huge component of the total that most accountings I've seen don't even bother to mention it. What's screwy to me is that envrionmentalists don't have a problem recommending vehicles that use hydrogen engines and fuel cells, despite the fact that these emit the single most common greenhouse gas in the world. Do they think that hundreds of millions of engines and fuel-cells, all emitting water vapor, will only affect the world's total amount of water vapor by a negligible amount; or that the injection of a similar amount of CO2 will have a more profound effect on warming than the water vapor? I'm really not clear about what's going through their heads; I've never seen the question directly asked or answered in any "legitimate" forum.

    MainstreamMan says, "When you are talking about a fantastically complex system, a small push in one direction or another can have large and very unpredictable consequences."

    Yes, which is why the prescriptions about "what to do" about warming are BS. EVEN IF we can someday convince ourselves through rigorous science that humans caused the latest global warming, that does not mean that we will be able to simply stop doing what we did, or undo what we did, in order to "cure" the problem. If we were responsible for a small push that tipped the balance, there is nothing to say that another specific small push will restore it, or even that a massive effort on our part will make a difference. We really need to avoid basing public policy on unsettled, half-baked science.

  • ||

    I'm normally not a fan of handing over the decision making process to the 'experts', but is anyone else amazed by the number of armchair climatologists this debate seems to create?

    I add my voice to those who doubt that there is "wide agreement" on the human contribution to global warming.

    And your voice matters because of...????

    What the hell, I'll add my voice to those who don't have a fucking clue and wish people could stop politicizing science. I'll also add my voice to those who think there are a gazillion(that's my sciencerific knowledge at work right there) more important civil liberties issues that I care about that I'd rather worry about than if my govt wants to be prudent and try to cut back emissions? Yes I know its evil and all, but in the scheme of things... come on...

  • ||

    I'm pretty ignorant on this issue. Can anyone recommend an informative book that sheds light on the global warming debate?

  • ||

    Evan, from the Wikipedia entry for Manbearpig:

    "Al Gore uses the word 'serial' in place of 'seriously/serious'. This is in reference to his gaffe on The Oprah Winfrey Show when he was asked for his favorite cereal and his answer was 'Oprah', mistaking the word 'serial' for cereal."

    Learn something new every day..I've been wondering about this for a month now.

  • ||

    A textbook on climatology... oh wait, academia is infiltrated with communists trying to destroy civilazation as they sap and impurify all of our precious bodily essences...

    You could try Michael Crichton's State of Fear.. oh wait, he's a nazi-bastard who wants to power his SUV with the blood of your children....

  • sourav||

    I would say that finally, last year (2005), the preponderance of evidence has fallen clearly in favor of human-caused global warming; I would not yet call it "perverse" to not believe it, like it would be to deny the existence of electrons for example.

    The climatological models have attained a sophistication such that they nail the climate of the Earth during the 20th century using only measured inputs (solar radiation, volcanic activitity, etc.). Therefore, they suggest a fair bit of predictive power in judging the climatological consequences of various amounts of current and future carbon emissions.

    The results are buried in this paper:

    http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/abstracts/submitted/Hansen_etal_1.html

  • ||

    So, when will the nuts show up and start yelling:

    PEAK OIL! PEAK OIL! PEAK OIL!

  • ||

    matt and trey were once interviewed about their political views, and to which way they lean. the answer was. "we hate conservatives. but we REALLY F*CKING hate liberals."

    and that is made clear by the fact that their #1 archvillian is Barbra Streisand, even moreso than Kim Jong Il.

    There is literally a whole movement called "south park conservatism", not to mention "crunchy conservatism" (conservatives who like Phish and the Grateful dead i suppose)

    how about if all these "anti-oil" people put their $$$ where their mouth is (hear me SOROS!!!) and work on the development of COST EFFICIENT and CLEAN alternatives.

    heck, even the green party is finally admitting that (oops) - the whole No Nukes campaign probably did more to contribute to fossil fuel "dependance" than Exxon Mobil could ever do

  • ||

    I swear I saw this movie 25 years ago, but it was about nuclear holocaust or the population bomb or something. Really, they could be using the same stock footage - time elapsed photography of the end of "life as we know it", skeletal remains on desert plains, etc.

    It looks like instant camp. Does anyone know any links to web sites to campy fear mongering films over the years?

  • ||

    The Climatologists and their monkeys discuss Al Gore's Movie:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/05/al-gores-movie/

    Verdict. Basically correct, with a few minor errors.

  • ||

    Some here have contended that climaotlogists don't take into account watervapor in their models datasets and whatnots.

    False:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/11/busy-week-for-water-vapor/#more-212

  • ||

    Have the South Park guys ever lampooned Bush or any one in his administration? Just curious. They seem more partisan than they are willing to admit.

  • James Anderson Merritt||

    Sam said,
    "Some here have contended that climaotlogists don't take into account watervapor in their models datasets and whatnots."

    Well, _I_ never said that. I said "most accountings I've seen don't even bother to mention it." I've seen quite a few accountings, and those that do mention water vapor tend do so only as a statistic. The text concentrates on the other greenhouse gas components, without suggesting how variance in the water vapor component might affect global warming, or whether the variance caused by a switchover from CO2 emitters to H2O emitters would be significant.

    The piece you cited also doesn't really talk about what kind of H20 emission level would cause significant weather/climate effects, though it does deal with the issue of water vapor as an exacerbator of warming effects in Europe. I was amused to read opinions about how the authors of cited papers seemed "unsure" or "confused" about the water vapor mechanics. There seems to be as much consensus in climate science as there is backslapping comraderie in a HitNRun thread.

    My point is simple: while the scientists are still getting their ducks in a row (and reading your citation, it is clear that the ducks are still in some disarray) each individual can make up his or her own mind about the validity and significance of global warming science to date, and how to respond to that information. Only when the case has actually been made and proven should it be used as a basis for public policy that obligates and affects all (if that soon).

  • James Anderson Merritt||

    Jasno says, "I'm normally not a fan of handing over the decision making process to the 'experts', but is anyone else amazed by the number of armchair climatologists this debate seems to create?

    "I add my voice to those who doubt that there is 'wide agreement' on the human contribution to global warming.

    "And your voice matters because of...????"

    Because I am a citizen who has followed these issues for years -- to more depth than AP wire reports and blog postings, even beyond "Scientific American" and "Nature" -- and I have seen the many scientific flip-flops in climate issues in the past several decades.

    Because I paid attention when studying science in school (and have worked for decades in engineering disciplines). I have some idea of the limits of our knowledge, and where to find the holes in the "scientific" arguments often put forth by demagogues to cow the populace into submission.

    Because my day job involves cutting through mumbo jumbo BS to get to the heart of technical arguments, as thousands or millions of dollars may be riding on the decisions made on the basis of those arguments. So they had better be watertight.

    The reason I said "I add my voice," is because too many who have real, reasonable doubts about the advertised consensus are silent, and I hope that more people, expressing their doubts, will force advocates on both sides to explain their reasoning, and make their public policy case, more respectfully of the people who will be affected, than they have to date.

    Although perhaps you didn't mean it that way, your comment sounds like "sit down and shut up." Not going to happen. If you want me an others like me to go away, make the case (or join us in demanding that it be made) with clearly explained facts and reasoning. Make no mistake: the point of invoking "science" in this debate is to cow people into accepting behavior modification by force, well before the legitimate scientific case is properly settled. I live in California, and I can tell you that air quality standards and pollution controls have a real and non-trivial cost, which should only be borne if the science backing them up is solid. Blinding people with pseudo-science or unsettled science may work with kids, but not with those of us who have been around the block a few times and who have seen where that road has led in the past.

    Finally, my voice matters because I am willing to use my real name, and to stand behind what I say. It's pretty easy to take potshots from behind an essentially anonymous screen name. Why does YOUR voice matter?

  • ||

    Have the South Park guys ever lampooned Bush or any one in his administration? Just curious. They seem more partisan than they are willing to admit.

    You can't be serial.

  • ||

    "Well, _I_ never said that. I said "most accountings I've seen don't even bother to mention it." I've seen quite a few accountings, and those that do mention water vapor tend do so only as a statistic. The text concentrates on the other greenhouse gas components, without suggesting how variance in the water vapor component might affect global warming, or whether the variance caused by a switchover from CO2 emitters to H2O emitters would be significant."

    James,
    sorry if that sounded like a strawman type of thing. It wasn't directed at you, but the spirit that persists. ...also I was late for work.

    I have been paying attention to this discussion for a while too; when climatologists have mentioned water vapor, the do note that water vaper, while it is a very strong greenhouse gas, it is much less important than other greenhouse gasses, becuase it dissipates quickly. Without other forcings to maintain evaporation, watervapor will precipitate into snow and rain.

    If all other greenhouse gasses (CO2 Methane etc) magically dissapeared, the Earth would quickly (geologically speakign) become an Iceball.

    Even though Co2 is a weak greenhouse gas, since it sticks around for hundreds to thousands of years an increase, even slight increases, of this gas has a profound impact on the amount of water vapor we see.

    This is not a hard concept to understand. Climatologists do not ignore watervapor, it is just not worth paying as much attention to as Co2, methane, and other persistent forcings.

  • ||

    "Climatologists do not ignore watervapor, it is just not worth paying as much attention to as Co2, methane, and other persistent forcings." ...on a global long term scale.

    Regional (the realclimate article I linked) and temporary changes (El nino and La Nina) are pretty much outside of the Anthropogenic Co2 argument.

  • ||

    I'll add my voice to those who don't have a fucking clue and wish people could stop politicizing science.

    Perhaps you can help me out here...

    One side says that the scientific knowledge is not complete and the future damage due to global warming is uncertain.

    The other side claims an open and shut case in their pet area of global warming research and wants government legislation and regulation based on what we currently know to impose massively expensive restrictions on human action.

    Which is the side that is politicizing science?

  • ||

    PEAK OIL!!! PEAK OIL!!! PEAK OIL!!!

  • ||

    PM: You wrote:

    Ron, you've got the wrong link to:

    "But others conclude from those measurements that melting ice from Antarctica MAY NOT BE CONTRIBUTING to sea level rise."

    Could you re-post the right one? I'd love to see it.


    Thanks very much for pointing up the screwed up link. I've fixed it now.

  • ||

    The Competitive Enterprise Institute, funded by ExxonMobil, Texaco, the American Petroleum Institute and General Motors, has produced TV spots claiming that fossil fuels are great and global warming is nothing to worry about.

    Well, that certainly convinces me!

    Just out of curiosity, is Al Gore being bankrolled by some shadowy cabal of solar panel manufacturers? No?

    Sort of looks like he's got the ethical high ground on this one, then, doesn't it?

  • James Anderson Merritt||

    Sam says, "This is not a hard concept to understand. Climatologists do not ignore watervapor, it is just not worth paying as much attention to as Co2, methane, and other persistent forcings."

    Thanks for your attempt to provide a clear and succinct explanation of the relative unimportance of water vapor in the global warming mechanism. One would think that your words, or something like them, would have received more ink in the discussion of global warming by now. Basically, yours is an answer to the question, "which is the most important greenhouse gas, and why?" When trying to make the case, especially to the public, it is crucial to get the key questions answered and the key concepts established early, so people can move on to subtler aspects and acquire a firmer grasp of the real, whole problem. I regret that Isaac Asimov is no longer with us. As a science writer, he knew how to line up the ducks and was, as far as I could tell, from several decades of reading his columns, honest about what was settled vs. unsettled science.

    "Where have you gone, Isaac Asimov? A nation turns its baffled eyes to you ... woo woo woo."

    Who will do for climate science what The Good Doctor did for so many other scientific topics? Whoever you are, we need you now, more than ever.

  • ||

    Yep ajay, ol' Al is on his way to blessed sainthood. He was spawned from the original singularity of Objective Reality. Nosiree, no ulterior motives, no agendas, no falsehoods possible, well, because he is Saint Al. He only cares for us so much as we're too moronic and preoccupied with living our dreary little, prol lives to do it ourselves.

    I just hope he chooses the Bearded Al for the statue.

    Oh, and Feed the Server Squirrel!

  • ||

    MAinstreamMan:

    Sure, one can argue whether 5% is a big deal or not. However, that 5% of the global C cycle account for 85% of energy produced (in the U.S., worldwide figure will be lower... or maybe not). What would appear easier - reduce energy consumption by 85% (or find alternative for that amount) or boost CO2 removal by less than 5%? Particularly if some money could be made out of it - tree farms, perhaps? I tend to favor the second solution. Your mileage may vary.

  • aspendougy||

    Rather than attacking Gore, Mr. Bailey should focus on more vital issues, such as the rapid melting of glaciers in the Himalayas, which could have catastrophic conssequences for the most populous area of the world. Also, the rapid disappearance of the world's grain reserves over the last five years.

  • aspendougy||

    Rather than attacking Gore, Mr. Bailey should focus on more vital issues, such as the rapid melting of glaciers in the Himalayas, which could have catastrophic consequences for the most populous area of the world. Also, the rapid disappearance of the world's grain reserves over the last five years.

  • ||

    The use of fossil fuels which have powered a 20-fold increase in world gross domestic product from $2 trillion in 1900 to over $40 trillion today. It may well be possible to shift to other energy sources to fuel humanity�s future, but some argue that global warming is not the main problem that faces the bulk of humanity � poverty is.

    That�s the point. The wealth that we�ve accumulated in our fossil fuel economies has been produced on credit, because we aren�t paying for the true cost of fossil fuels (in terms of environmental impact, geopolitical instability, etc.). Fossil fuel economies are artificially inflated.

    The first ad, titled �Energy,� properly reminds viewers that fossil fuels �freed us from a world of back-breaking labor� and are used �to create and move the things we need.�

    No, they saddled us with an enormous future debt that we weren�t smart enough to see at the time. A debt that could have a significant impact the world's economies if we don�t address it. The costly energy transition which we will be forced to make at some point (because fossil fuels are finite) is part of that debt.

    "Carbon dioxide. They call it pollution; we call it life.�

    Retro-thinkers. Primitives.

    The second spot entitled �Glaciers� points out the scientific uncertainties about how global warming is affecting glaciers in Antarctica and Greenland.

    Glaciers are the least of our problems. Global warming, by altering temperature and precipitation distributions, can have disastrous consequences (on agriculture and other industries) without the ice caps melting.

    Global warming may well harm humanity by disturbing the environment, but forcing the world�s poorest people...to use more expensive and technically challenging fuels would also cause great harm.

    As if DVD players still cost $500. As we innovate and mass produce alternative energy technology, the price will drop. The important thing is to convince people to do it, not to dissuade them from doing it by fomenting complacency.

  • ||

    Wow, this is the longest review of a movie (that the reviewer admits he has only seen the trailer of) that I have ever seen.

    Seriously, you could not wait a few days until you actually saw the movie before you pick it apart?

    You must be a great date, because I am sure you know what your partner is going to say before she says it. It must be really comforting to be Omniscient.

  • Ken Barber||

    The wealth that we've accumulated in our fossil fuel economies has been produced on credit, because we aren't paying for the true cost of fossil fuels (in terms of environmental impact, geopolitical instability, etc.). Fossil fuel economies are artificially inflated.



    [snip]


    No, they saddled us with an enormous future debt that we weren't smart enough to see at the time. A debt that could have a significant impact [sic] the world's economies if we don't address it. The costly energy transition which we will be forced to make at some point (because fossil fuels are finite) is part of that debt.



    It's clear that this person has no understanding of economics, and no concept of how the world actually works.



    Vague statements about "the true cost" of this or that activity have been the stock in trade of environmental fraudsters for decades, along with doomsaying predictions about saddling our grandchildren with unintelligible "debts" that are never specified.



    This is nonsense, folks. The illiterate babbling of uneducated fools. The "true cost" of energy is -- well, what we pay for it! Duh. If/when fossil fuel costs exceed the costs of producing energy in other ways, then someone will begin producing energy using those other ways. There is no "costly energy transition" coming, and "we" (meaning, of course, the enlightened ones who still believe that economic systems need Central Planning) don't need to do anything in particular to "address" it except get out of the way. The market will take care of things rather nicely.



    Global warming, by altering temperature and precipitation distributions, can [emphasis added] have disastrous consequences (on agriculture and other industries) without the ice caps melting.



    And a butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil can have disastrous consequences in Philadelphia too. So maybe we should destroy every butterfly in the Amazon, just in case?


    No, what "can" happen doesn't count. What counts is what is (and is not) likely to happen in the Real World.


    Global Warming didn't destroy civilization the last time it happened; indeed, it ushered in a period of greater agricultural productivity, peace, and advancements in human rights (for example, the Magna Carta was developed during that period). So what do you think is the more likely scenario if the present warming period gets to the point where it equals the previous one? Productivity, peace and human rights, just like the last time, or the global apocalypse that you doomsayers are peddling?

  • ||

    "Global Warming didn't destroy civilization the last time it happened"

    Past performance is no gaurantee of future earnings...or expenses.

    Anyway right now you can calculate your curerent 'cost' at www.carbonfund.org.

    "So what do you think is the more likely scenario if the present warming period gets to the point where it equals the previous one?"

    We are already past that point, and with no sign of slowing down.

  • TokyoTom||

    For those of you who haven't been reading Ron closely, here are some excerpts by which he acknowledges that anthropogenic climate change is really happening:




    May 17: 2006 [Inconvenient Uncertainties and Moral Ambiguities]:
    "Gore is correct that the scientific consensus is that humanity is causing global warming."

    April 3, 2006 [Losing Bet on Climate Change; Temperatures are rising-what now?]:
    " The question of how much danger the trend toward higher average global temperatures poses is still open, but that the earth's temperature is going up is not. The debate now is how bad it might get."

    "So what about the future? According to an article last October, Michaels [a climate skeptic] seems unlikely to offer another bet on lower temperatures. 'We already know that the world is warming and that it will continue to do so for the foreseeable future(with or without any greenhouse gas emission controls),' wrote Michaels. 'Record temperatures will continue to be set every couple of years or so.' [quoting Michaels]

    "Christy and Spencer [both climate skeptics] observed 'a global average temperature that was three-tenths of a degree Celsius (0.54º Fahrenheit) warmer than seasonal norms, 2005 tied with 2002 as the second warmest year in the past 27.' They added that, according to their data, 'the five years from 2001 through 2005 have been five of the six warmest yearsin the 27-year satellite global temperature record.'"

    August 11, 2005 [We're All Global Warmers Now; Reconciling temperature trends that are all over the place]:
    "Anyone still holding onto the idea that there is no global warming ought to hang it up. All data sets-satellite, surface, and balloon-have been pointing to rising global temperatures. In fact, they all have had upward pointing arrows for nearly a decade, but now all of the data sets are in closer agreement due to some adjustments being published in three new articles in Science today."

    "the Remote Sensing Systems team has made some additional adjustments, such that their global trend is 0.193 degrees per decade. … If RSS is right, a straight-line extrapolation of future temperature trends implies that global average temperatures in 2100 will be about 2.0 degrees centigrade (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) warmer than they are today-more than double the original Christy and Spencer [client skeptic] trend. The RSS trend is more in accord with the higher projections of future temperature increases generated by climate computer models."

    [TT note: of course a straightline projection is an UNDERSTATEMENT of expectations, as temperature increases have been accelerating.]

    Dec 16, 2004 [TCS COP 10 Coverage: Can We Avoid 'Dangerous' Climate Change?]:
    "In the real world, absent transformative technological breakthroughs in energy production, whatever the chances that average temperatures may one day exceed 2 degrees Celsius, there is absolutely no chance that steep emissions reductions scenarios are even remotely possible."

    December 14, 2004 [Adapting to Climate Change]:

    "So those worried about possible catastrophic global warming will have to resign themselves to figuring out how best to live with projected higher temperatures."

    In other words, Ron, are you now telling us that we are heading into trouble, and should be VERY, VERY WORRIED, since there is little we can expect to do to prevent the warming?

    Sincerely,

    TT

  • ||

    As others may have noticed is that Ron equates a necessarily incomplete trailer of a movie he hasn't seen, with two frankly misinformative commercials. One the commercials points to a few press articles; find them really read them and you'll see they dont't actually support the CEI view.

    (Ron may have seen Gore's slide show in the past though, but he doesn't mention it.)

  • ||

    With all this talk about manmade global warming on earth, where is the alarm of the global warming occurring on Mars and Jupiter? What have we done to screw up those supposedly pristine worlds? How do we stop it?

    Maybe there is a common cause.

  • Tim Lambert||

    Ron Bailey seems to be the only person in the whole world not laughing at the ads.

  • Tim Lambert||

    Ron Bailey seems to be the only person in the whole world not laughing at the ads.

  • ||

    Rich,
    the Martians and Jovians are responsible for their own world; and Earthlings can't be blamed for Sol's increasingly hot temper, but they can be blamed for adding on the Co2 blankets to their own world.

    Anyone who didn't bother with my www.carbonfund.org plug, well,, here are my numbers:
    Dierct: 6.43 Tons $35.34 /yr ; $2.95 /mth
    ZeroCarbon: 16.07 Tons $88.36 /yr ; $7.36 /mth

    That's what it costs me to pay for cleaning up my Co2 emmissions. Another calculations shows I spend over $600 each year on Stabucks Coffee.

  • ||

    Anyone who didn't bother with my www.carbonfund.org plug, well,, here are my numbers:
    Dierct: 6.43 Tons $35.34 /yr ; $2.95 /mth
    ZeroCarbon: 16.07 Tons $88.36 /yr ; $7.36 /mth

    Yes. I am always astonished at how little those show the cost of one's anthropogentic CO2 to be when compared to what the enviromentalist loons want to charge for it.

    For instance, the CO2 charge on gasoline indicated by TerraPass and the like is under a dime per gallon. On a previous thread I cited three very diverse sources for CO2 reduction that were all less than a quarter per gallon.

    Yet one doesn't hear the global warming alarmists ever say, "By the way, it will only cost 25 cents per gallon of gas to completely eliminate the resulting CO2." No, somehow the solutions are always an order of magnitude more expensive, extremely authoritarian, and -- rather than eliminate the problem -- only reduce the problem by reducing the productive activity its a collateral result of.

  • ||

    Of the CO2 emitted into the atmosphere, man only contributes 4% which can easily be swamped by the fluctuations of all the CO2 that is naturally emitted into the atmosphere. It is not clear that what little CO2 man contributes to the atmosphere has any or much effect at all. It may even have a beneficial effect for all we know such as contributing to more vegetation that would otherwise be the case. It is sad that we have such airhead demagogues like Al Gore and other leftists in politics and the media that are misleading the public out of their resentment against Capitalism and technology. I hope that the public becomes well informed on this issue before it's too late, before we destroy our economy by holding to the Kyoto Treaty which will have virtually no effect on the CO2 level in the atmosphere. Yes, that is one good thing that Bush has done or not done by not signing us up on the Kyoto Treaty. We may not be so lucky in the future if McCain or Hillary are elected President.

  • ||

    Of the CO2 emitted into the atmosphere, man only contributes 4% which can easily be swamped by the fluctuations of all the CO2 that is naturally emitted into the atmosphere. It is not clear that what little CO2 man contributes to the atmosphere has any or much effect at all. It may even have a beneficial effect for all we know such as contributing to more vegetation that would otherwise be the case. It is sad that we have such airhead demagogues like Al Gore and other leftists in politics and the media that are misleading the public out of their resentment against Capitalism and technology. I hope that the public becomes well informed on this issue before it's too late, before we destroy our economy by holding to the Kyoto Treaty which will have virtually no effect on the CO2 level in the atmosphere. Yes, that is one good thing that Bush has done or not done by not signing us up on the Kyoto Treaty. We may not be so lucky in the future if McCain or Hillary are elected President.

  • ||

    Herb,
    there is over 30% more C02 in the atmosphere now than 200 years ago. Almost all of it is man made (we can tell from the isotope differences). There might have been even more, but natural has absorbtion has managed to munch about half of our output...though it is not clear that it will continue to be able to keep up.

    Vegetation needs water and various nutrients to grow, not just sun and Co2. These other elements aren't necessarily in equally growing abundance in the wilds.

    Kyoto 1 was never expected to have much effect. It is a means of getting started, see what works and what doesn't. And I don't see any nations' economies actually yet 'destroyed' by merely trying to implement the treaty...struggle yes; but noone ever got anywhere really good by not struggling.

  • ||

    Sam,

    Many climatologists would disagree with you on your claim that almost all the CO2 put into the atmosphere is man-made. I am on the road so I don't have my source to give you pertaining to the 4% figure. Even if all the CO2 were man-made as you claim, there is no concensus that the level of CO2 in the atmosphere is necessarily a bad thing. Our economy would be seriously injured if we were to abide by the Kyoto treaty and all for nothing if the CO2 level in the atmosphere is not a serious thing. More studies are needed before we wreck our economy for nothing.

  • ||

    Thinking more about Kyoto 1,
    It has less to do with the ideological war between two EnviroNazis and Capitalist Pigs, and more to do with moving away from the paradigm of assuming that the undeveloped natural realm has no economic value form jsut sitting there. It costs real money to build and power a desalination plant to get potable water. This shows just how valuable an aquifer or watershed or gently melting glacier really is in providing a natural service in providing the same. Coastal wetlands provide economic service in buffering against storm surges and tsunamis, as well as providing natural fisheries and waterfowl; these things otherwise cost real money for us to provide with our own infrastructure.

    The new paradigm is to incalculate these natural services into our own economies. This includes the including the net effect of the changes we make to Co2 atmospheric concentrations into our economies. The Kyoto treaty should thus be seen as a step on our ascent to the next stage of human Civilization, not as a stumbling block.

  • ||

    Herb,

    By "all of it" i meant the All of the change in Co2...there is still plenty of natural Co2. Sorry about that.

    And More studies are on the way I welcome them.

    I have no idea what the optimum Co2 Levels and thus climate is for human Civilization, but theonly way to really find out is to include Co2 into the Great Global Economic Calculus.

    =)

  • ||

    agh darn server slow...

    how we know that 30+% is our Co2:
    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=87

    me go sleep now.

  • ||

    Sam,

    The studies that show a lower level of CO2 200 years ago are subject to error. They were determined by the amount of CO2 in air bubbles in ice of that age. Under pressure, molecules of CO2 can travel in and out of bubbles, so we don't know what was the original content of the bubbles.

  • ||

    Sam,

    The studies that show a lower level of CO2 200 years ago are subject to error. They were determined by the amount of CO2 in air bubbles in ice of that age. Under pressure, molecules of CO2 can travel in and out of bubbles, so we don't know what was the original content of the bubbles.

  • ||

    Herb,
    Errors have error margines, also Ice Cores aren't the only prehistorical sampling method: Tree Rings, Sediments, Coral samples etc are all valid means of extracting the data, and all these can be checked and calibrated with the direct sampling of Co2 at stations around the world, which has been in progress since the early 50's; and by itself these stations have confrimed a growth in Anthropogenic CO2.

  • ||

    Sam,

    It all goes back to "so what!". Even if there is a higher level of CO2 in the atmosphere, is this necessarily a bad thing? It has not been proven that it is. There is no consensus on this. The climate is warming regardless of any anthropogenic input. It will be easier to adjust to gradual changing climate and gradual rise in sea level than it will be to a dramatic change in fossil fuel use. Such a drastic change will be a serious blow to the world economy because of the higher costs of alternative energy. Some companies will go under because they can't afford the higher costs, especially the smaller companies. With more money spent on higher cost energy, less money will be available for other goods and services, which will have a rippling effect on the whole world economy.

    Pertaining to calibrating tree ring data with ice core data, I seem to remember a descrepancy between the two, that the tree ring data doesn't show as high an increase in CO2 over the centuries. As I said, I am out of town and unable to confirm the source of my recollections.

  • ||

    Sam,

    Another point I should make is that not all scientists beleive that CO2 is causing global warming. Some believe the opposite, such as Robert Essenhigh, the E. G. Bailey Professor of Energy Conservation in Ohio State's Department of Mechanical Engineering. He believes that rising temperature, which has been rising since the end of the Little Ice Age, creates more water vapor which creates more CO2, so, therefore the natural warming that has gone on over the last 200 years has created the additional CO2 in the atmosphere.

    Other scientists point out how today's warming rate does not differ from the warming rate during the Middle Ages. There was no anthropogenic input of CO2 during the Middle Ages, so if man's input of CO2 into the atmosphere is increasing temperature rise, why is the rate of warming the same as it was during the Middle Ages when there was no anthropogic contribution of CO2 to the atmosphere?

  • ||

    Sam,

    IPCC points to global warming of .3 to .6 degrees Celsius over the past 100 years. Climatologist Fred Singer points out that most warming occurred between 1910 and 1940, (.5 deg. Celsius)even though 80% of greenhouse gases have been added to the atmosphere over the last 50 years. Where is the connection here between greenhouse gases and global warming? Further confirmation of this comes from tree ring analysis. Jacoby et al's analysis of 500 year old tree rings from Mongolia show that rings have getting wider since the mid 1800's, before significant accumulation of greenhouse gases. The tree wing widths peaked in the 1960's, indicating no increased growth and no increased global warming since then. So if there is more greenhouse gas due to anthropogenic causes, where is the problem with this if it is not established that it is really contributing to rising temperatures or climate change?

  • ||

    Another point I should make is that not all scientists beleive that CO2 is causing global warming.

    There are more than enough who do...and there is always some few with an axe to grind or a pet theory to defend. And all the guy is describing is feedback loops. Current climatology already takes these into account.

    Other scientists point out how today's warming rate does not differ from the warming rate during the Middle Ages. There was no anthropogenic input of CO2 during the Middle Ages, so if man's input of CO2 into the atmosphere is increasing temperature rise, why is the rate of warming the same as it was during the Middle Ages when there was no anthropogic contribution of CO2 to the atmosphere?

    I disagree with your rate estimate (more later). And irregardless, the process of warming then does not need to be the same process as now. There are many fluctuating forces involved, and current climatology already takes them into account.

    IPCC points to global warming of .3 to .6 degrees Celsius over the past 100 years. Climatologist Fred Singer points out that most warming occurred between 1910 and 1940, (.5 deg. Celsius)even though 80% of greenhouse gases have been added to the atmosphere over the last 50 years. Where is the connection here between greenhouse gases and global warming?

    It is true that there was a warm period in the 30's...so what, oscillations do happen. If you look carefully at the records, you'll see that the peak then is less than current temperatures, and 'trough' following was a higher temperature than the preceding trough. Strongly suggesting a growing upward trend. Climatologists have already taken into account such oscillations and the sum of natural forces don't add up to current temps, only adding in the anthropogenic forces can the sums match reality.

    Further confirmation of this comes from tree ring analysis. Jacoby et al's analysis of 500 year old tree rings from Mongolia show that rings have getting wider since the mid 1800's, before significant accumulation of greenhouse gases. The tree wing widths peaked in the 1960's, indicating no increased growth and no increased global warming since then. So if there is more greenhouse gas due to anthropogenic causes, where is the problem with this if it is not established that it is really contributing to rising temperatures or climate change?

    Tree rings get bigger or smaller depending on how wet they get, not on how much CO2 there is. Other natural forcings could esily explain the wetter climate (resulting in thicker tree rings). And as I said, we don't need tree rings and coral reef samples or Vostock Cores to show a 30+% growth in Co2, with accompanying change in the composition of the CO2. We have had monitoring stations throughout the world since the 50's recording these changes directly.

    Key points Again:
    The world doesn't need Co2 to experience the occasional warming period.

    We do need Anthropogenic Co2 to explain part of the current warming. Oscillations of other forces sum up the rest.

    We can explain the Anthropogenic Co2 because of the monitoring stations, and changes in the proportions of Carbon and Oxygen isotopes.

  • ||

    It all goes back to "so what!". Even if there is a higher level of CO2 in the atmosphere, is this necessarily a bad thing?

    Rapid Changes are an inhernetly difficult thing to adapt to. Right now we are like teenagers learning to drive; one foot on the accelerator, one on the brake, but noone is there to guide us, or tell us when to slow down, how best to turn etc.

    It will be easier to adjust to gradual changing climate and gradual rise in sea level than it will be to a dramatic change in fossil fuel use.

    Who says it will be gradual climate change? Not the climatologists. Exxon most likely.

    Such a drastic change will be a serious blow to the world economy because of the higher costs of alternative energy.

    Alternative energy for cars is already viable at current oil prices...especially if the world governments stop subsidizing fossil fuels (and everything else for that matter). Methane prices are skyrocketing; Coal has doubled in price over the past ten years. Alternatives are dropping in price, even without the help of subsidies. The writing is on the wall.

    Some companies will go under because they can't afford the higher costs, especially the smaller companies.

    Tough titties. Actually I disagree about the smaller companies, they have less legacy capital to pay for (aging infrastructure, loans, pensions etc.). I am no bleeding heart liberal nor a bleeding heart corporate welfare-ist...pay to clean up your wastes bitches!

    With more money spent on higher cost energy, less money will be available for other goods and services, which will have a rippling effect on the whole world economy.

    The ripple effect will be to become more efficent at creating wealth. At least in the capitalist economies...so stop wasting time denying the climatologists for the truth they find, and start getting rid of corrupt inneficient governments.

    And even if you doubt all that, consider this nifty tool:

    http://flood.firetree.net/

    basically, it's a google map modified to show the oceans at different sea levels. It's default is an unlikely 7 meters, but even the innevitable one or two meters of sea level rise (by 2100)would be devastating for the community I live in, more would be worse! I have to weigh that versus the 25� a gallon it costs me to clean up my Co2.

  • ||

    Lastly, regarding rates and levels of warmth of the Mideival warm period; here is the latest reconstruction of temperatues and their possible ranges using the latest and most careful off data:
    http://tinyurl.com/k3sa9

  • ||

    Lastly Lastly...price of biofuels:
    http://www.ybiofuels.org/bio_fuels/products.html

  • ||

    Sam,

    There is no dispute that man is contributing to an increase in the level of CO2 in the atmosphere. The question is "is this a matter of concern?" You didn't comment on Robert Essenhigh's theory that temperature rise is increasing the level of CO2 in the atmosphere because of the increase in water vapor caused by global warming. Nobody disputes that on the net, there is an increase in global warming. The issue is how much is man contributing to it? The burden of proof is on the claimants. I don't think the people who have made the claim that man is contributing significantly to global warming or climate change have proven their point. You seem to be implying since there are more people who support anthropogenic global warming than those who are skeptical of it, that being in a majority makes them right. If that is the case, Gallileo must have been wrong about his heliocentric theory because he was in a minority. You think that all anthropogenic global warming skeptics have an axe to grind or are paid by the oil companies. This is not necessarily the case in every case. There are alot of those who support the anthropogenic global warming theory who have an axe to grind as well. There are some scientists who feel they have to create a scarry scenario in order to get Government funds. There are some people with an anti-business, anti-capitalist agenda that would love to see businesmen brought to their knees.

  • ||

    hmm...it would appear that my super-long-winded post didn't get past the Hall Monitor. Oh well,please just pay attention to reaclimate.org (you can do a search for that Essenhigh guy); and that Ill-considered blog thing.

    thanks

    off to sleep..ZZZzzz...

  • ||

    ajay,

    Gore has the ethical high ground? You don't think he has a leftist anti-capitalist bias that influences his position on anthropogenic global warming?

  • ||

    Sam,

    Pertaining to your claim that only a few scientists with an axe to grind are anthropogenic global warming skeptics, what do you think of the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine's petition of 17,000 scientists including 2660 physists, geophysists, climatologists, meteorologists, oceanographers, and environmental scientists who claim a complete lack of evidence for anthropogenic global warming.

  • ||

    According to the Kyoto Treaty, we would have to cut our CO2 output to 7% below 1990 levels which would require cutting fossil fuel use by as much as 25% which means cutting our prosperity by 25%. All to avoid a disaster that has not been proven.

  • ||

    https://cf.iats.missouri.edu/news/NewsBureauSingleNews.cfm?newsid=9842

    'COLUMBIA, Mo. - Recently, the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a non-profit public policy organization based in Washington, D.C. and partially funded by large oil companies, announced a national television campaign claiming that global warming is not causing ice sheets to shrink. Curt Davis, director of the Center for Geospatial Intelligence at the University of Missouri-Columbia, says CEI is misrepresenting his previous research to back their claims.

    "These television ads are a deliberate effort to confuse and mislead the public about the global warming debate," Davis said. "They are selectively using only parts of my previous research to support their claims. They are not telling the entire story to the public." '


    More at the link.

    though, IRRC, CEI was saying that they thought there was too much uncertainty, not that there was no glacial melting. Nonetheless, an authors sourced by CEI is now pissed at them.

  • ||

    oops.
    Distorialismm==Dictatorialism (dictatorships) authoritarianism.
    bleh!

  • Mark Bahner||

    "Gore warns that melting ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica could lead to a sea level rise of twenty feet inundating Florida, Bangladesh, Shanghai, and New York City."

    And when might the sea level rise hit 20 feet, Al Gore?

    "Ohh...maybe 2300."

    And what is the likely warming in THIS century...at the end of which the world is likely to be almost unimaginably wealthier and longer-lived?

    "Ohhh...maybe 1 or 2 feet."

    These are some pretty "Inconvenient Truths," aren't they?

    "Yes, that's why I never mention them."

  • Mark Bahner||

    Note: PreviousconvesationwithAlGoreisentirelyimaginedbutIplan toaskhimthosequestionsifIeverseehim.

  • TokyoTom||

    Sam, great posts.

    Herb, dealing proactively with climate change is cheaper than ignoring it, and like any other "tragedy of the commons" type of problem, just letting it be is essentially a subsidy to those causing the problem.

    Now that Bailey is acknowledging that warming IS occurring, we should be talking seriously about the correct mechanisms to deal with it - actually, the Senate Energy Committee already is seriously investigating what manadatory approaches may be appropriate. However, there is no reason to think that a solution will be prohibitively expensive (and we should be clear that ignoring the problem is also costly).

    An optimal solution would of course involve China and India, with whom we have trade leverage. To the extent that the US tries to simply go alone then we are facing a free rider problem that will undercut our contribution to providing a solution.

    Climate change denial is not a libertarian position. Libertarians simply recognize that the government is often the problem on resource issues (if the government owns or manages them), but also acknowledge that government can provide a solution to environmental problems by reinforcing private property rights and enforcement mechanisms. Cap and trade in SO2 is a case in point.

  • ||

    It never surprises me to see Libertarians denying the scientific consensus on madmade global warming, or at least downplaying its effects, as bailey does. In effect, they are tacitly acknowledging the fact that their ideology has no solutions to the problem.

  • ||

    "In effect, they are tacitly acknowledging the fact that their ideology has no solutions to the problem."

    I disagree, I think that Libertarian ideology does have a possible solution (Integrating the value of natural services into the global freemarket, e.g. the Carbon Exchange); but that persons present just don't want to even contemplate it because of an irrational fear that just contemplating it might validate the EnviroNazis and their unworkable command economy non-solution.

  • ||

    Mr. Schaffler posted about Robert Essenhigh's water vapor calculations. These have been thoroughly dissected and disposed of by the climate scientists on realclimate.org: see comment 27 and following here. Executive summary: He made a scientific error. Essenhigh is alone in his insistence about the importance of H2O forcing vs CO2 forcing.

    More on water vapor
    here
    .

  • Mark Bahner||

    "I disagree, I think that Libertarian ideology does have a possible solution (Integrating the value of natural services into the global freemarket, e.g. the Carbon Exchange);"

    How do you know that extra CO2 causes a net loss in the value of "natural services?"

    How do you know CO2 hasn't provided a net increase in the value of "natural services"...and won't continue to do so?

  • TokyoTom||

    Sam, I think Brad is right that the pure libertarian position on solutions to climate change is for the government to do nothing.

    Government inaction is favored, both because libertarians find government action inherently wrong, but also because of understandable concerns about the benefits to be gained may be lost as a result of bueaucratic/regulatory/legislative inefficiencies and through the predictible "rent-seeking" behavior of by which concerned parties manipulate the government for their own benefit at the costs of others. Once the government gets involved in a problem, it frequently never lets go of "solving" it, despite the fact that much regulation is not as efficient as possible, may have many perverse effects, and gets in the way of private solutions that tend to move towards increasing efficiency.

    While there is much to respect in the the libertarian criticism of government and of economic/environmental regulation, unfortunately in the case of climate change libertarians conveniently ignore that doing nothing is essentially a continuing subsidy to vested interests, and wrongly fail to criticize the rent-seeking in which fossil fuel producers and manufacturing concerns are already successfully engaged.

    In fact, it is this sell-out of our domestic and foreign policy on this matter that I find most outrageous, and it bothers me to no end that purported "libertarians" and other "skeptics" like Ron will rail about the "fear-peddling" "enviros", but ignore that they are doing exactly the same thing - peddling fear, but about enviros - either as deliberate or unwitting stooges for big corporate interests who prefer to push the costs of their free use of the atmospher off onto others generally and to future generations.

    That a purely libertarian position simply won't work should be obvious, given that this is a global tragedy of the commons issue. Without government, it is impossible to create a private-property solution such as tradeable emissions permits, or to solve the free rider issues. A reasonable libertarian would recognize this and push for quasi-libertarian solutions that are least meddlesome, while not forgetting to rail at the influence-peddling and purchasing that is the heart of the current do-nothing policy.

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