The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

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The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby aerojad » Thu Nov 22, 2007 6:09 am UTC

(meta: I searched and saw global warming talked about in numerous threads but no specific thread for it, but if I swung and missed, please merge. and if posting something I wrote somewhere else is bad, let me know. oh, and first SB post. eep.)


Not that I was ever someone who denied global warming, I think it's a real problem and really happening, but I never actually stopped to notice effects here, local effects around me. And so I wrote about it, as I tend to do.

I used to be rather annoyed when people pointed to one event and said “that, that right there, that's global warming!” Some of it is justifiable – the ungodly strength of 2005's Hurricane Katrina. Other things, like blaming a routine severe weather outbreak in the plains states on global warming – not so much. Unfortunately for most people bad weather = bad weather, so it all must be caused by the same root event. Not true, and the obsession with that caused people to focus in on smaller events rather than the big picture. That, and sometimes the weather is just going to be bad – disasters happen in every climate. We as a people just need something to blame.

Then this summer came. The summer of 2007 will probably go down as being a watershed moment – a moment when people began to notice for real that perhaps there might just be something to this whole global warming bit. Unfortunately for us all, the fact that the event has come and gone, it means we're already too late to get off with little to no disruption to our lives. It's time to start pondering how we are going to live the rest of our century.


Rest is over here. I'd love any feedback anyone might want to give.
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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby WraithXt1 » Thu Nov 22, 2007 7:37 am UTC

Yeah?

So the Earths climant isn't 100% stable, and this is somehow news for people? Does ice age ring a bell? Temperatures on this rock go up and down quite often, so welcome to the real world.

I'd say come back in 50 years or so when we have some actual data to go on. It's far too soon to tell if we are actually the reason for any temperature increase.

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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby zenten » Thu Nov 22, 2007 2:52 pm UTC

WraithXt1 wrote:Yeah?

So the Earths climant isn't 100% stable, and this is somehow news for people? Does ice age ring a bell? Temperatures on this rock go up and down quite often, so welcome to the real world.

I'd say come back in 50 years or so when we have some actual data to go on. It's far too soon to tell if we are actually the reason for any temperature increase.


But we have the data now.

Also, I wonder if this is more of a science forum entry. The existence of global warming is the sort of thing that belongs there, it's what to do about it that would be in this forum.

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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby WraithXt1 » Thu Nov 22, 2007 2:55 pm UTC

zenten wrote:But we have the data now.


No, we have data on global temperatures, NOT facts about how much we contribute to it.

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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby zenten » Thu Nov 22, 2007 2:58 pm UTC

WraithXt1 wrote:
zenten wrote:But we have the data now.


No, we have data on global temperatures, NOT facts about how much we contribute to it.


Yes, we do. Or at least to say with a high degree of certainty that we do.

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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby WraithXt1 » Thu Nov 22, 2007 3:05 pm UTC

zenten wrote:
WraithXt1 wrote:
zenten wrote:But we have the data now.


No, we have data on global temperatures, NOT facts about how much we contribute to it.


Yes, we do. Or at least to say with a high degree of certainty that we do.



No, we don't. We know that since we have been able to measure, the earth has been heating up a little. Did it start before we were able to record? After? Thousands of years ago? We don't know. THAT is a fact.

Again I point you at the Earths history. The weather/temperature changes on its own, fairly often.

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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby jestingrabbit » Thu Nov 22, 2007 3:32 pm UTC

WraithXt1 wrote:No, we don't. We know that since we have been able to measure, the earth has been heating up a little. Did it start before we were able to record? After? Thousands of years ago? We don't know. THAT is a fact.

Again I point you at the Earths history. The weather/temperature changes on its own, fairly often.


That first paragraph contains a fairly serious fallacy. On the one hand you say that we only know temperatures that we have directly measured, on the other you say that we know that the temperature has varied significantly.

Either we can make inference from observations (of ice cores, fossilized pollen records etc) and understand the long term climate to some extent, or we can't and we have only the recent records to work with. Pick at most one of those positions, because together you have a real mess.

And to meet your logical fallacy with one of my own: the IPCC says that it is more than 90% certain that climate change is being principally caused by human actions. Are you so much smarter and better researched than thousands of scientists?
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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby WraithXt1 » Thu Nov 22, 2007 3:39 pm UTC

My fault on that last post, We can only say with a few degrees margin of error the earths temperature since we've been able to measure.

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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby LikwidCirkel » Thu Nov 22, 2007 4:46 pm UTC

Have any of you seen Gore's movie? Now, it has it's flaws, so I'd rather not get into picking it apart, however, some elements of it really stood out to me:

1)
The percentage of peer-reviewed, scientific papers on global warming that say it is happening and we are causing it: 100%. Contrast that to media reports, which are about 50/50.

2)
The really pretty graphs that show global temperature plotted alongside atmospheric CO2 over billions of years.

pretty graph
refuting the "how do we know that temperature changes AFTER CO2?" argument

If you really want to try to deny that humanity is contributing to a large extent, first get a PHD in atmospheric sciences, try to prove your theory and get it reviewed by other scientists, and maybe you might have an argument. Until then, your words are meaningless to me, and I just hope that you don't pursue a career in media.

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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby zenten » Thu Nov 22, 2007 4:55 pm UTC

There are two parts of the argument really.

That there are such things as "greenhouse gases".

That humanity has produced sufficient greenhouse gases over what would happen normally to affect things.

Which of those two do not have enough evidence?

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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby SimonM » Thu Nov 22, 2007 7:10 pm UTC

jestingrabbit wrote:And to meet your logical fallacy with one of my own: the IPCC says that it is more than 90% certain that climate change is being principally caused by human actions. Are you so much smarter and better researched than thousands of scientists?


I completely agree with everything you said, except this bit about the IPCC. Not everyone there could really be classified as a scientist. Many peoples names were added who didn't want to be on there and many of them weren't actually qualified in a certain sense.
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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby tiny » Thu Nov 22, 2007 7:30 pm UTC

I think we'll have enough time argue about if humankind actually contributed to global warming, after we did all we could to take effective precautions to face it's effects, while reducing every behaviour that could possibly contribute to the warming process (taking better care of our environtment is never a bad idea).
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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby '; DROP DATABASE;-- » Fri Nov 23, 2007 12:34 am UTC

WraithXt1 wrote:Yeah?

So the Earths climant isn't 100% stable, and this is somehow news for people? Does ice age ring a bell? Temperatures on this rock go up and down quite often, so welcome to the real world.

I'd say come back in 50 years or so when we have some actual data to go on. It's far too soon to tell if we are actually the reason for any temperature increase.

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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby JayDee » Fri Nov 23, 2007 12:47 am UTC

That second graph does strike me as odd. Brings to mind the arguments against using ice cores that I've heard bandied about - all the data from ice cores is 100 ppm lower than the more recent, direct recordings of atmospheric C02 and lending strength to the argument that ice core data is not exact. If the point where that graph jumps is the point where ice core data is swapped for direct measurements, it does seem a little dodgy.

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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby e946 » Fri Nov 23, 2007 12:48 am UTC

The problem with waiting 50 years is that, if the people who believe in climate change are right, it'll be too late by then.

JayDee wrote:That second graph does strike me as odd. Brings to mind the arguments against using ice cores that I've heard bandied about - all the data from ice cores is 100 ppm lower than the more recent, direct recordings of atmospheric C02 and lending strength to the argument that ice core data is not exact. If the point where that graph jumps is the point where ice core data is swapped for direct measurements, it does seem a little dodgy.


Why exactly would they stop using ice core data more recent than 100 years ago? I would understand data from the last few years not being compacted or something, but 50 years ago should be enough, and the graph starts going up before 50 years ago.

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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby Yakk » Fri Nov 23, 2007 1:25 am UTC

You just posted a graph that claims to explain a scientific fact, and you neither:
A> Had error bars on it, or
B> Included the source material so someone could work out the error bars.

You fail. Statistics and scientific data without error bars is useless. With error bars you can at least look at it.

And don't even try telling me that the error bars on CO2 levels from 100,000 years ago is smaller than the lines drawn on that page. If you can't find good statistics, don't quote the bad stuff.

When you make a statement and want to be accepted on your credibility, you need to include a reference to your thought process that resulted in the statement. That way your statement can be checked against your thought process. If an error is found in your thought process, then your credibility is shot.

Interesting statement from a link in this thread:
. The rates of those exchanges are now being completely overwhelmed by the rate at which we are extracting carbon from the latter set of reservoirs and converting it to atmospheric CO2.


As far as I know, the tonnage of CO2 emitted by people & industry per year is on the order of 1% to 5% of the CO2 exchange on the planet. Am I wrong?

...

There are problems with climate models: the climate is too hard to model. On top of that, it isn't hard to fudge a model until the data you have causes the results you see: and because the details are not understood, one has to fudge the model.

Then again, I've heard some pretty darn convincing arguments, like the spectral black hole around the CO2 abosrbtion lines that is growing as CO2 increases in concentration.

Global Climate Change caused by human atmospheric activities seems likely, but it isn't certain. Climate scientist is an observational science, and is hence is less accurate than experimental sciences: they cannot take their model, build a world, and run it in order to test their theory. They must instead rely on models based off of their theory, and if their theory is wrong so are their models they are using to test it.

The test of theory quality is how well it models the past: and if you have enough free parameters, even a false model can be designed to match known data points to an arbitrary degree of accuracy. It is when your model fits existing data points and loudly predicts unexpected data points that, when looked for, turn out to be correct, that your model gets some standing.

Also of interest is the claim that it will take on the order of 100 years, due to the heat-sink of the oceans, for temperatures to climb.

Note that there are ways to cool off the earth that are not "restrict CO2 emissions". Crazy-ass shit like "launch dust into the atmosphere" and "paint the ice black" and "launch unstable-orbit black things that soak up solar light".

The last of these has a pretty known economic cost: on the order of 1% of the world's current economic output per year, every year. If lowering CO2 emissions is more expensive than the "ham-handed" solution, and the problem is a gradual one whose costs we can estimate as it happens, then the argument that "waiting is the best policy" has legs to stand on.

Remember, this isn't "can we get to the moon" type of decision whose costs are on the order of a few percent of one nation's GDP: this is "should we constrain and change the direction of human society". Testing if the science is right on "can we get to the moon" is pretty easy: you try small jumps first, and if the science works out you try larger jumps. Testing if the climate change science is right requires an experiment that involves decreasing world-wide economic growth by an amount similar to the great depression, possibly dooming to poverty and preventing the industrialization of entire sub-continents.

It is an extraordinary claim: it requires extraordinary proof.

The current increase in temperature doesn't do it, especially with the recent mars data showing a similar rise there.

...

We do not know for certain how much impact CO2 levels have on global average temperatures. There are models that give them the responsibility for 1/3 of the temperature changes in the past: but those models are of ridiculously complex systems. Short of causing a huge boost in CO2 levels and checking to see if the world temperature changes, we cannot know: which sort of sucks, because poking with the climate isn't a good thing. (Or we could build another Earth and do the tests there... ;) )

It would actually be good if we could control world temperature that much by CO2 emissions. An ice age is coming (not on the order of 100s of years, but on the order of 10,000s of years), and if we aren't off this rock by then we'll probably want some extra heating.
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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby JayDee » Fri Nov 23, 2007 2:15 am UTC

e946 wrote:The problem with waiting 50 years is that, if the people who believe in climate change are right, it'll be too late by then.
JayDee wrote:That second graph does strike me as odd. Brings to mind the arguments against using ice cores that I've heard bandied about - all the data from ice cores is 100 ppm lower than the more recent, direct recordings of atmospheric C02 and lending strength to the argument that ice core data is not exact. If the point where that graph jumps is the point where ice core data is swapped for direct measurements, it does seem a little dodgy.

Why exactly would they stop using ice core data more recent than 100 years ago? I would understand data from the last few years not being compacted or something, but 50 years ago should be enough, and the graph starts going up before 50 years ago.

I do admit, I'm just going off an article or two I read in a magazine. Thought it was interesting at the time, and the graph bought it too mind. I'm not sure why ice core data wouldn't be used from start to finish. The idea of mixing the data without making it clear how the mixing is being done strikes me as silly, but [conspiracy theorize] it could have the effect of showing that CO2 levels rose sharply at a given time - and that's what they want you to think. [/conspiracy theorizing]

Yakk wrote:Note that there are ways to cool off the earth that are not "restrict CO2 emissions". Crazy-ass shit like "launch dust into the atmosphere" and "paint the ice black" and "launch unstable-orbit black things that soak up solar light".

If I had've known about cool ways to cool the earth like this a few years back, I'd have never gone through that AGW denying phase at all.

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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby rcunn87 » Fri Nov 23, 2007 7:59 am UTC

jestingrabbit wrote:And to meet your logical fallacy with one of my own: the IPCC says that it is more than 90% certain that climate change is being principally caused by human actions. Are you so much smarter and better researched than thousands of scientists?


Actually I heard from one of my professors that the IPCC only said 90% because all of the scientists from the US would not sign off on it with it saying 99%. Now I do not have a link to back this up, but this professor (PolySci@IIT) has done nothing but research Global Climate Change for the last year, and he has always said that he was not sure of something if we asked him something technical/something what he did not know. Point being he does not seem to be one to make shit up. Another point to all, before you want to complain about the IPCC report read it yourself first.

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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby mister k » Fri Nov 23, 2007 12:11 pm UTC

The thing is, even if we can't be sure, we know fossil fuels will not last forever anyway, and with considerable evidence suggesting that we might be causing serious irreversible (within a short time period, anyhow) damage to our planet, it seems reasonable to take measures to not do that. Obviously one can look at this as an economic question, as doing this will probably cost more, but not being dependent on oil would be good for pretty much every nation in the world.
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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby zenten » Fri Nov 23, 2007 3:03 pm UTC

Yakk wrote:You just posted a graph that claims to explain a scientific fact, and you neither:
A> Had error bars on it, or
B> Included the source material so someone could work out the error bars.

You fail. Statistics and scientific data without error bars is useless. With error bars you can at least look at it.

And don't even try telling me that the error bars on CO2 levels from 100,000 years ago is smaller than the lines drawn on that page. If you can't find good statistics, don't quote the bad stuff.

When you make a statement and want to be accepted on your credibility, you need to include a reference to your thought process that resulted in the statement. That way your statement can be checked against your thought process. If an error is found in your thought process, then your credibility is shot.

Interesting statement from a link in this thread:
. The rates of those exchanges are now being completely overwhelmed by the rate at which we are extracting carbon from the latter set of reservoirs and converting it to atmospheric CO2.


As far as I know, the tonnage of CO2 emitted by people & industry per year is on the order of 1% to 5% of the CO2 exchange on the planet. Am I wrong?

...

There are problems with climate models: the climate is too hard to model. On top of that, it isn't hard to fudge a model until the data you have causes the results you see: and because the details are not understood, one has to fudge the model.

Then again, I've heard some pretty darn convincing arguments, like the spectral black hole around the CO2 abosrbtion lines that is growing as CO2 increases in concentration.

Global Climate Change caused by human atmospheric activities seems likely, but it isn't certain. Climate scientist is an observational science, and is hence is less accurate than experimental sciences: they cannot take their model, build a world, and run it in order to test their theory. They must instead rely on models based off of their theory, and if their theory is wrong so are their models they are using to test it.

The test of theory quality is how well it models the past: and if you have enough free parameters, even a false model can be designed to match known data points to an arbitrary degree of accuracy. It is when your model fits existing data points and loudly predicts unexpected data points that, when looked for, turn out to be correct, that your model gets some standing.

Also of interest is the claim that it will take on the order of 100 years, due to the heat-sink of the oceans, for temperatures to climb.

Note that there are ways to cool off the earth that are not "restrict CO2 emissions". Crazy-ass shit like "launch dust into the atmosphere" and "paint the ice black" and "launch unstable-orbit black things that soak up solar light".

The last of these has a pretty known economic cost: on the order of 1% of the world's current economic output per year, every year. If lowering CO2 emissions is more expensive than the "ham-handed" solution, and the problem is a gradual one whose costs we can estimate as it happens, then the argument that "waiting is the best policy" has legs to stand on.

Remember, this isn't "can we get to the moon" type of decision whose costs are on the order of a few percent of one nation's GDP: this is "should we constrain and change the direction of human society". Testing if the science is right on "can we get to the moon" is pretty easy: you try small jumps first, and if the science works out you try larger jumps. Testing if the climate change science is right requires an experiment that involves decreasing world-wide economic growth by an amount similar to the great depression, possibly dooming to poverty and preventing the industrialization of entire sub-continents.

It is an extraordinary claim: it requires extraordinary proof.

The current increase in temperature doesn't do it, especially with the recent mars data showing a similar rise there.

...


Unfortunately, your claims that the measures needed would lead to depressions and decreasing world-wide economic growth are *also* based on observational "science", in fact "science" that is on much shakier grounds than climate change.

mister k wrote:The thing is, even if we can't be sure, we know fossil fuels will not last forever anyway, and with considerable evidence suggesting that we might be causing serious irreversible (within a short time period, anyhow) damage to our planet, it seems reasonable to take measures to not do that. Obviously one can look at this as an economic question, as doing this will probably cost more, but not being dependent on oil would be good for pretty much every nation in the world.


Well, no, we're not in danger of running out of coal any time soon, even if we switch all cars to a fuel source that requires electricity (such as electric or hydrogen).

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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby Yakk » Fri Nov 23, 2007 10:35 pm UTC

But we have historical instances of nations generating depressions. Multiple of them. With many different methods. And ridiculous amounts of data about what happened during them, thanks to humanities tendency to write down economic actions.

During those events, there where economists trying to understand what was happening, and taking measurements of what was going on.

Economists have then convinced people to engage in different behavior locally, whose local results where recorded and measured.

None of that has happened with climate change. Economics is not purely observational -- it actually can engage in experiment. It is a ridiculously complex thing that it is trying to study, so it is pretty hard to do.

But climate change is both ridiculously complex and non-experimental and takes place, historically, over long eons in the past.

And the experiment that climate change scientists want to engage in is to manipulate our carbon output. Doing so has huge costs, and I cannot think of a result of the global experiment that would falsify the climate scientists theory.

See the difference?

I wouldn't advise running an entire huge nation based off of a new economic theory that had never been tested. First, you take the theory and implement it in a smaller case, and see if the results match your predictions. Only after multiple regions and then multiple nations try it out and it works does it have the credibility to propose that everyone should try out the economic system.
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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby gmalivuk » Sat Nov 24, 2007 4:52 am UTC

Yakk wrote:But we have historical instances of nations generating depressions. Multiple of them. With many different methods. And ridiculous amounts of data about what happened during them, thanks to humanities tendency to write down economic actions.

During those events, there where economists trying to understand what was happening, and taking measurements of what was going on.

Economists have then convinced people to engage in different behavior locally, whose local results where recorded and measured.

None of that has happened with climate change. Economics is not purely observational -- it actually can engage in experiment. It is a ridiculously complex thing that it is trying to study, so it is pretty hard to do.

But climate change is both ridiculously complex and non-experimental and takes place, historically, over long eons in the past.

And the experiment that climate change scientists want to engage in is to manipulate our carbon output. Doing so has huge costs, and I cannot think of a result of the global experiment that would falsify the climate scientists theory.

See the difference?

I wouldn't advise running an entire huge nation based off of a new economic theory that had never been tested. First, you take the theory and implement it in a smaller case, and see if the results match your predictions. Only after multiple regions and then multiple nations try it out and it works does it have the credibility to propose that everyone should try out the economic system.

How do you address the fact that many current climate models, when applied to historical data, gave predictions similar to subsequent observations?

Also, if the climate scientists are right (and so far you seem to just be waving the "climate science is hard!" flag instead of offering any real evidence to the contrary), we really don't have the luxury of waiting to see whether continuing to pump billions of tons of CO2 into the air might not be the greatest idea ever.
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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby zenten » Sat Nov 24, 2007 5:01 am UTC

You know, now that I think about it, from a purely selfish point of view global warming could be good for me, or at least not that bad. Where I'm going to be moving to in the near future (and where I live right now isn't to bad in these ways either) has *huge* quantities of fresh water, is no where near the ocean, has terrain that makes flooding *very* unlikely, is in a country with a large number of unused natural resources, and is in a place that could do with a couple of extra degrees in average temperature, but also wouldn't be in too bad shape if the temperature fluctuations got worse. It's also a place that needs immigrants to keep it's economy going.

So you know what, let out all the greenhouses gases you want. If things get really bad where you are you can always move to where I live and serve my coffee.

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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby Akula » Sat Nov 24, 2007 5:16 am UTC

aerojad wrote:(meta: I searched and saw global warming talked about in numerous threads but no specific thread for it, but if I swung and missed, please merge. and if posting something I wrote somewhere else is bad, let me know. oh, and first SB post. eep.)


Not that I was ever someone who denied global warming, I think it's a real problem and really happening, but I never actually stopped to notice effects here, local effects around me. And so I wrote about it, as I tend to do.

I used to be rather annoyed when people pointed to one event and said “that, that right there, that's global warming!” Some of it is justifiable – the ungodly strength of 2005's Hurricane Katrina. Other things, like blaming a routine severe weather outbreak in the plains states on global warming – not so much. Unfortunately for most people bad weather = bad weather, so it all must be caused by the same root event. Not true, and the obsession with that caused people to focus in on smaller events rather than the big picture. That, and sometimes the weather is just going to be bad – disasters happen in every climate. We as a people just need something to blame.

Then this summer came. The summer of 2007 will probably go down as being a watershed moment – a moment when people began to notice for real that perhaps there might just be something to this whole global warming bit. Unfortunately for us all, the fact that the event has come and gone, it means we're already too late to get off with little to no disruption to our lives. It's time to start pondering how we are going to live the rest of our century.


Rest is over here. I'd love any feedback anyone might want to give.


I'd just like to point out that Katrina was a Category 3 when it finally made land fall. I'd hardly call it ungodly. It just bullseyed a city that was overdue for a disaster that it was just begging for.
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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby gmalivuk » Sat Nov 24, 2007 7:31 am UTC

Akula wrote:I'd just like to point out that Katrina was a Category 3 when it finally made land fall. I'd hardly call it ungodly. It just bullseyed a city that was overdue for a disaster that it was just begging for.

Which time it made landfall? I may be remembering wrong, but as I recall, it got stronger over the Gulf of Mexico, after being a relatively minor event in Florida, and was indeed Category 5 when it made landfall the second time.
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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby Yakk » Sat Nov 24, 2007 5:22 pm UTC



Easy. You have lots of free parameters that your theory doesn't predict. You train your models by twerking your free parameters until it matches the observations. If there is a missing input that causes some of your other outputs, then you will read the caused effect as the thing that is doing the causing.

Also, if the climate scientists are right (and so far you seem to just be waving the "climate science is hard!" flag instead of offering any real evidence to the contrary), we really don't have the luxury of waiting to see whether continuing to pump billions of tons of CO2 into the air might not be the greatest idea ever.


As mentioned in a link above, "the best" models seem to indicate that it will take 100 years to have a 3 degree impact, due to heat sinks on the planet.

And, as noted, we can do mass engineering to change things if we need to: we could, for example, block off a good percentage of incoming light by just setting up a "curtain" (the "launch blockers into an orbit that blocks light from reaching the earth" tactic).

The argument "by the time something bad happens, it will be so horrible it will be too late!" seems like hyperbole.

On the other hand, given how politics works, the green religion is sweeping enough of politics that industry now knows that if it isn't at the table, it will be completely screwed by regulation, and that the only permitted way to sit at the table is to lobby for controls on emissions. So regardless of the truth-value of the "if we don't do something now, it will be too late", in the short-term things will be done, and trillions of dollars will be spent on averting the apocalypse.
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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby Ghandi 2 » Sat Nov 24, 2007 6:29 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
Akula wrote:I'd just like to point out that Katrina was a Category 3 when it finally made land fall. I'd hardly call it ungodly. It just bullseyed a city that was overdue for a disaster that it was just begging for.

Which time it made landfall? I may be remembering wrong, but as I recall, it got stronger over the Gulf of Mexico, after being a relatively minor event in Florida, and was indeed Category 5 when it made landfall the second time.

No, it dropped down to 4-3 right before it hit. The reason it was so destructive was because it had one of the largest storm surges in US hurricane history (possibly the largest, I don't rememer) because it was much, much wider than most hurricanes. So it is fair to cite Katrina to some degree because it was an unusually desctructive hurricane; it just wasn't the wind that destroyed everything.

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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby gmalivuk » Sun Nov 25, 2007 6:14 am UTC

Yakk wrote:

Easy. You have lots of free parameters that your theory doesn't predict. You train your models by twerking your free parameters until it matches the observations. If there is a missing input that causes some of your other outputs, then you will read the caused effect as the thing that is doing the causing.

Fair enough. I doubt that plays as much of a part as you're thinking, but don't have any references at the moment to check one way or the other.

But one major issue I've always had with the "climate is super complex" argument is that, if you're so sure the models are probably wrong, what makes you think they overestimate the changes. Maybe the temperature will actually go up twice as much as these models predict, instead of only half as much?

Also, if the climate scientists are right (and so far you seem to just be waving the "climate science is hard!" flag instead of offering any real evidence to the contrary), we really don't have the luxury of waiting to see whether continuing to pump billions of tons of CO2 into the air might not be the greatest idea ever.

As mentioned in a link above, "the best" models seem to indicate that it will take 100 years to have a 3 degree impact, due to heat sinks on the planet.

Again with quoting the same models you complain about in the next breath. And 3 degrees average is not 3 degrees everywhere. It's likely to be more at the poles, less at the equator, all other things being equal. And all other things are unlikely to be equal. There are a number of potential positive-feedback systems, many of which probably have a tipping point somewhere within those three degrees. Ice melt, for instance. If enough of either ice cap melts, it will leave more dark water or rock to absorb solar energy instead of reflecting it, in addition to wreaking havoc with ocean currents by dumping a whole load of cold fresh water into the seas. If CO2 were the only thing at work here, I'd agree that we don't have as much to worry about as the likes of Al Gore suggest. But it's not. As you keep saying yourself, the climate is a hell of a lot more complicated than that.

And, as noted, we can do mass engineering to change things if we need to: we could, for example, block off a good percentage of incoming light by just setting up a "curtain" (the "launch blockers into an orbit that blocks light from reaching the earth" tactic).

Could you remind me again of how this would somehow be cheaper than taking action now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions? Massive engineering projects on a scale never before attempted, as opposed to fairly straightforward emissions reductions that don't seem to have bankrupted any of the countries actually doing something about it?

The argument "by the time something bad happens, it will be so horrible it will be too late!" seems like hyperbole.

It may seem like hyperbole to you, but probably you don't live in Bangladesh or one of the many other places that could have huge problems with even a slight rise in sea level. Probably you're not living in one of the areas currently being afflicted by record-setting droughts (or floods) that are expected to only get worse by people who believe in anthropogenic climate change. In other words, probably you're not someone who could be made homeless or worse if we sit on our asses and hope someone will get around to launching a bunch of shit into orbit to provide us with some shade.

On the other hand, given how politics works, the green religion is sweeping enough of politics that industry now knows that if it isn't at the table, it will be completely screwed by regulation

Yes, completely screwed. Just like "industry" (as if it were some kind of unified thing with one single interest that was completely opposed to whatever single interest followers of "the green religion" have) has been completely screwed in all those countries that had the balls to sign Kyoto.

Yes, those silly hippie countries whose economies are doing quite a bit better than the US economy, despite this huge expensive "burden" of having to buck up and privatize just some of the environmental costs of their industry, instead of merely privatizing profits while treating nature as one giant commons.
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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby zenten » Sun Nov 25, 2007 4:32 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:Yes, completely screwed. Just like "industry" (as if it were some kind of unified thing with one single interest that was completely opposed to whatever single interest followers of "the green religion" have) has been completely screwed in all those countries that had the balls to sign Kyoto.


Just a nitpicky detail, but signing Kyoto doesn't mean much. My country signed it, but is not following it at all.

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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby Ghandi 2 » Sun Nov 25, 2007 6:09 pm UTC

zenten wrote:
gmalivuk wrote:Yes, completely screwed. Just like "industry" (as if it were some kind of unified thing with one single interest that was completely opposed to whatever single interest followers of "the green religion" have) has been completely screwed in all those countries that had the balls to sign Kyoto.


Just a nitpicky detail, but signing Kyoto doesn't mean much. My country signed it, but is not following it at all.

Yeah, and all the exceptions it gave for developing countries made it mostly useless.

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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby gmalivuk » Sun Nov 25, 2007 6:49 pm UTC

Fine, then replace signing Kyoto with actually trying to reduce emissions, and my argument still stands. It may involve fewer countries, but some nations are reducing emissions and not suffering these terrible economic consequences that our own country supposedly will face.
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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby Yakk » Mon Nov 26, 2007 2:02 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
Yakk wrote:

Easy. You have lots of free parameters that your theory doesn't predict. You train your models by twerking your free parameters until it matches the observations. If there is a missing input that causes some of your other outputs, then you will read the caused effect as the thing that is doing the causing.

Fair enough. I doubt that plays as much of a part as you're thinking, but don't have any references at the moment to check one way or the other.

But one major issue I've always had with the "climate is super complex" argument is that, if you're so sure the models are probably wrong, what makes you think they overestimate the changes. Maybe the temperature will actually go up twice as much as these models predict, instead of only half as much?


Because the pink unicorn says so?

I respect Science, but that is because it makes falsifiable statements. If you make a BS prediction, it can be falsified and checked -- so you aren't just speaking out of your ass.

But when a Scientist makes a non-falsifiable statement -- a statement that can't be tested, which cannot be simplified, that means that there isn't a way to determine if the statement is false.

I mean, if Bob says that the IPU is coming and will destroy the earth unless I give him 100$ in the next day -- he could be right! I better give him 100$ before it is too late. Sure, the IPU hypothesis is silly, but it still illustrates a point.

What point? The inability to falsify a statement is not something that makes the claim stronger, or makes me want to heed something more.

Also, if the climate scientists are right (and so far you seem to just be waving the "climate science is hard!" flag instead of offering any real evidence to the contrary), we really don't have the luxury of waiting to see whether continuing to pump billions of tons of CO2 into the air might not be the greatest idea ever.

As mentioned in a link above, "the best" models seem to indicate that it will take 100 years to have a 3 degree impact, due to heat sinks on the planet.

Again with quoting the same models you complain about in the next breath. And 3 degrees average is not 3 degrees everywhere. It's likely to be more at the poles, less at the equator, all other things being equal. And all other things are unlikely to be equal. There are a number of potential positive-feedback systems, many of which probably have a tipping point somewhere within those three degrees. Ice melt, for instance. If enough of either ice cap melts, it will leave more dark water or rock to absorb solar energy instead of reflecting it, in addition to wreaking havoc with ocean currents by dumping a whole load of cold fresh water into the seas. If CO2 were the only thing at work here, I'd agree that we don't have as much to worry about as the likes of Al Gore suggest. But it's not. As you keep saying yourself, the climate is a hell of a lot more complicated than that.


Sure -- I am allowed to say "take the predictions with a grain of salt" and "if they are right, then the most reliable ones say that the problem isn't Oh me yarm panic level", both as justification for "maybe we shouldn't burn trillions of dollars to solve the problem right now".

If you say "why are you worried about money?", what if I replaced "trillions of dollars" with "enough resources to raise 100s of millions of people out of absolute poverty, misery and early death"?

Because that is what is being asked for.

And, as noted, we can do mass engineering to change things if we need to: we could, for example, block off a good percentage of incoming light by just setting up a "curtain" (the "launch blockers into an orbit that blocks light from reaching the earth" tactic).

Could you remind me again of how this would somehow be cheaper than taking action now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions? Massive engineering projects on a scale never before attempted, as opposed to fairly straightforward emissions reductions that don't seem to have bankrupted any of the countries actually doing something about it?


No nation has done anywhere close to enough emissions reductions as greens claim are needed. And none of them solve the problem of "what about raising the other 5 billion people on the planet to a high standard of living, without impoverishing the richest 1 billion?"

Africa. India. China. The middle east. South-east Asia. Russia. Central America. Areas with billions of billions of people. And I want to make them as rich as people are in the west right now. And that means energy.

The arguments I see from the greens who do propose a complete solution either involve the impoverishment of the richest 1 billion (they are taking more than their share!), and often also leaving the poorest 5 billion in absolute poverty.

On the other hand, given how politics works, the green religion is sweeping enough of politics that industry now knows that if it isn't at the table, it will be completely screwed by regulation

Yes, completely screwed. Just like "industry" (as if it were some kind of unified thing with one single interest that was completely opposed to whatever single interest followers of "the green religion" have) has been completely screwed in all those countries that had the balls to sign Kyoto.


Kyoto has no teeth. A contract or law without consequences of breaching it is no law at all.

Japan, Canada, UK -- signatories which are no where close to being in compliance.

U.S., China, India -- huge producers who aren't signatories.

Entire developing world -- excluded!

Yes, those silly hippie countries whose economies are doing quite a bit better than the US economy, despite this huge expensive "burden" of having to buck up and privatize just some of the environmental costs of their industry, instead of merely privatizing profits while treating nature as one giant commons.


I'm not aware of any non-postage-stamp nation that isn't a huge oil/energy exporter which has a PPP per capita GDP higher than the USA? You apparently do know a nation whose economy is doingn "quite a bit better" than the US economy.

Be aware that by US standards, Western Europe is poverty stricken, and Canada/Japan (roughly equal PPP to each other) is not that well off.
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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby gmalivuk » Mon Nov 26, 2007 6:36 am UTC

Yakk wrote:But when a Scientist makes a non-falsifiable statement -- a statement that can't be tested, which cannot be simplified, that means that there isn't a way to determine if the statement is false.

Why is the statement, "global climate is getting warmer, and human factors play a significant role in making this trend larger than would be expected naturally" unfalsifiable in principle? Science is not simply about making statements we can test, say, within the next year with current technology. It's about making statements that are, in principle, falsifiable.

If you say "why are you worried about money?", what if I replaced "trillions of dollars" with "enough resources to raise 100s of millions of people out of absolute poverty, misery and early death"?

You can go ahead and replace your phrases all you like. And if I actually believed there was any chance the resources we don't put into fighting climate change would actually go towards lifting billions of people out of poverty, I might have a slightly different pragmatic opinion on the issue. But I don't think for a second that that's actually what would happen. Most of the money that doesn't get spent on paying for the environmental costs of doing business will instead go into the hands of people who already have money.

Be aware that by US standards, Western Europe is poverty stricken, and Canada/Japan (roughly equal PPP to each other) is not that well off.

Really? By what measure of "poverty stricken"? Seems like a country in which an average person can expect reasonable medical treatment without being assraped by hospital bills isn't doing too poorly to me.
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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby superglucose » Mon Nov 26, 2007 7:18 am UTC

Global temperatures actually change at a fairly rapid pace. The closest ice age was about 150 years ago (over the course of 4-6 billion years: not that long a time at all, even though it was admittedly very small), and while I don't have a source (I saw it on... the History Channel. They had a hypothesis that dense wood caused by the dramatic cooling of the climate helped produce the magnificent Stradovarious violins) it does demonstrate that the Earth's climate isn't just not stable, it's effin crazy, especially temperature wise.

Now as for the cause. I don't believe that my car (well, a car as I don't have one) significantly contributes. I'm more likely to buy that mass clear-cutting rainforests and burning it and then pretending to farm it, and then burning it AGAIN is the culprit. In fact, I think that intense stabalizing of south american governments (and central american) and having actual enforcement of environmental policies in those countries would take care of the vast majority of carbon emissions caused by humans. For the rest? Hydroponic algae ftw!

The last part is a total joke though. We, as humans, need to find a way to reduce this trend for self-preservation.
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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby theonemephisto » Mon Nov 26, 2007 11:01 pm UTC

superglucose wrote:Now as for the cause. I don't believe that my car (well, a car as I don't have one) significantly contributes. I'm more likely to buy that mass clear-cutting rainforests and burning it and then pretending to farm it, and then burning it AGAIN is the culprit. In fact, I think that intense stabalizing of south american governments (and central american) and having actual enforcement of environmental policies in those countries would take care of the vast majority of carbon emissions caused by humans. For the rest? Hydroponic algae ftw!

The last part is a total joke though. We, as humans, need to find a way to reduce this trend for self-preservation.

A car may not, but keep in mind that there are a lot of cars in the US (and in the world) that could have a major impact. Especially with the huge amounts of CO2 that one car can produce.

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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby gmalivuk » Mon Nov 26, 2007 11:25 pm UTC

superglucose wrote:I'm more likely to buy that mass clear-cutting rainforests and burning it and then pretending to farm it, and then burning it AGAIN is the culprit.

Not regarding CO2 levels, it isn't. While clearcutting and burning rain forests may be terrible for other reasons, it's completely carbon-neutral, since pretty much all of the CO2 released in burning was already in the atmosphere pretty recently. It would have been breathed out by anything that ate the plants, anyway.
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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby Yakk » Tue Nov 27, 2007 12:12 am UTC

Reducing the amount of forests is not carbon neutral.

Why is the statement, "global climate is getting warmer, and human factors play a significant role in making this trend larger than would be expected naturally" unfalsifiable in principle? Science is not simply about making statements we can test, say, within the next year with current technology. It's about making statements that are, in principle, falsifiable.


It isn't, in principle. You can, for example, build multiple planet Earth's and run them differently for a few centuries and see whose predictions are better.

The current method consists of using historical data, and building models that more closely match the historical data. What is worse is that this is mixed with archeology-difficulty reconstruction of the historical data!

You can go ahead and replace your phrases all you like. And if I actually believed there was any chance the resources we don't put into fighting climate change would actually go towards lifting billions of people out of poverty, I might have a slightly different pragmatic opinion on the issue. But I don't think for a second that that's actually what would happen. Most of the money that doesn't get spent on paying for the environmental costs of doing business will instead go into the hands of people who already have money.


First, alleged environmental costs. Second, that is a problem of wealth redistribution.

In order to drop CO2 emissions significantly, we will have to both:
A> Massively reduce the energy usage of the wealthy nations, and
B> Cripple any hope of industrializing amoung the poorer nations.

China's industrialization may have lifted 100s of millions out of abject poverty, but it was done on the back of producing a huge increase in the world's CO2 emissions. Making the entire world as wealthy as the top 10% of China would require additional huge energy expenditures. Preventing the world from becoming that wealthy is a massive, huge, expensive decision to make that will result in the poverty of billions of humans for their entire lives.

Or is it your position that the West should massively reduce CO2 emissions and then give the extra room to the third world? And do you think that the amount of reduction done by any Western nation has even gotten close to what would be required to implement that plan?

Really? By what measure of "poverty stricken"? Seems like a country in which an average person can expect reasonable medical treatment without being assraped by hospital bills isn't doing too poorly to me.


Do you mean average? Because the average American does have quite good medical insurance. It is the poor in the USA who could have it worse off than the poor in other nations.
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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby yy2bggggs » Tue Nov 27, 2007 5:11 am UTC

Yakk wrote:It isn't, in principle. You can, for example, build multiple planet Earth's and run them differently for a few centuries and see whose predictions are better.

I think you missed gmalivuk's point. If you can build multiple planet Earth's, run them differently for a few centuries, and see whose predictions are better, then you necessarily have something that can in principle be falsified.

It sounds like you have a test in mind, that we can't possibly perform, that is the only way you can imagine that we can test the effects of humans on the environment. But from this, all we can legitimately conclude is simply that you are unable to imagine how to test this.

If you really want to claim that testing the effects of humanity on the environment is not falsifiable, you can do a lot better than an argument from personal incredulity.
The current method consists of using historical data, and building models that more closely match the historical data. What is worse is that this is mixed with archeology-difficulty reconstruction of the historical data!

The fact that the historical data is difficult to reconstruct is not a problem with principle. This is present in not a few sciences. You have a lot of data, and you have to figure out what it means. You have to interpret some of the data based on various things you know--other facts which can and often do involve other established theories. That the data is difficult to assemble means nothing but that it is difficult to assemble. You're arguing degree, not principle. In order to build a convincing counterargument to current climatology theories, you need to point out some specific flaws in specific theories.

The fact that this is past data is inconsequential. You're making it sound like the only possible way to study this is to create post hoc theories, but that is certainly not the case. Sure, there is historical data, but there's quite a bit of it. There's plenty of available data to build theories, and try to hunt down the other data to see if they fit your theories. Furthermore, the historical data we have isn't fixed--you can fetch more of it, and can make predictions about what you will find.

There's nothing here that in principle forbids good, solid scientific study of this phenomenon. This isn't too different than, say, cosmology.
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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Nov 27, 2007 5:33 am UTC

Yakk wrote:
gmalivuk wrote:Most of the money that doesn't get spent on paying for the environmental costs of doing business will instead go into the hands of people who already have money.

First, alleged environmental costs.

Global warming may only be an alleged environmental cost. But more generally, I think businesses ought to stop treating pollution like a commons issue. A company reaps all the benefit of manufacturing a certain way, and it's the people at large who are left with much of the burden of cleaning up afterwards.

Yakk wrote:In order to drop CO2 emissions significantly, we will have to both:
A> Massively change the means of energy production of the wealthy nations, and
B> Help the poorer nations industrialize more quickly without spending as much time burning coal as Europe did.

Fixed to give an alternative possibility.

Also, it's always worth noting that technological progress doesn't just move in the direction of being able to produce ever increasing amounts of energy. It also involves being able to do the same things with ever decreasing amounts of energy. In other words, pushing for more energy efficiency in everything we do would counter a good bit of any necessary reduction in total energy usage.

yy2bggggs wrote:The fact that the historical data is difficult to reconstruct is not a problem with principle. This is present in not a few sciences.

Evolution, for instance. The deniers of which are even more wont to bring up this crap "unfalsifiable" accusation than global warming deniers.
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Re: The leaves turned a month late & things that just seem off

Postby Yakk » Tue Nov 27, 2007 6:04 pm UTC

*nod*, and cosmology spent a huge amount of time in rather serious flux. Eventually a prediction was made, based off of the Big Bang theory, which was then checked against as-yet un-read data, the microwave background radiation, and we ended up with a theory that predicted results to a ridiculously accurate amount.

That's strong evidence that the Big Bang happened.

Meanwhile, in Climatology, we have ridiculously huge error bars on the best models it produces. There is no "microwave background radiation" level of proof hanging around that I've seen.

On top of that, Cosmology isn't asking for humanity to do a huge restructuring of the entire industrial economy.

I'm trying to say that Science is just as capable of walking off the garden path as any other area of human endevour. What corrects the path that Science walks is making predictions that are then attempted to be falsified.

You can make progress in a theory without that falsification test -- and that is still Science (go Kuhn!), and it is a way of generating theories. But without that falsification test, the resulting theories are not that convincing (go Popper!)

And even if the scientists are convinced, before I'm convinced I require that falsification test. Scientists can be as wrong as anyone else. If what the scientists are convinced about doesn't require me to change my behavior all that much, I'll say "sure, that is likely" -- but if what the scientists are convinced about has a high cost, then they need to produce something more convincing than mere consensus.

Predicting the procession of mercury, and that light bends in a graviational well, and that a rotating sphere is frame dragged? Relativity is damn convincing.

Predicting the microwave background radiation curve? The big bang theory is damn convincing.

Predicting DNA and the effectiveness of "genetic algorithms" to solve problems? Evolution is damn convincing.
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