Friday, April 21, 2006


The Crisis of Global Warming

Occasionally, I wonder about the severity of the actual threat of global warming. Reading op-ed column by Jonah Goldberg in the LA Times (via Instapundit) made me wonder some more. I'm environmentally concerned but a long way from Al Gore.

A couple of weeks ago, I was watching a Discovery Channel show on dinosaurs. The narrator mentioned that during the time being discussed the Earth was 20% warmer than now. The Earth obviously survived this episode of global warming. But we must admit that dramatically warmer temperatures would have a tremendous impact on human civilization. There were no ice caps during the warmest periods of the dinosaurs.

With a little research what I found was this at - Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute:
These data suggest that globally averaged surface temperatures in the mid Cretaceous were more than 10°C higher than today.
This report includes a discussion of sea level, greenhouses, etc. Undoubtedly a 10° Centigrade higher is great. Many areas now heavily inhabited would be under water as well as climatic differences.

The Atmosphere, Climate & Environment Information Programme in the UK states:
Most significantly, global average surface temperature
has risen by between 0.4 and 0.8°C since about 1860. Other trends
in precipitation, tropospheric temperatures and ice volume have also
been observed. It is very likely that such climatic changes are the
result of man's interference with the climate, through increased
concentrations of atmospheric greenhouse gases.
Fact Sheet
For those of us who never paid attention in school, the Earth has been warming since the last Ice Age. With an increase in average temperature on less than 1° Centigrade over the last century and a half, calling for radical actions is histrionic.

Sure we need to study the man's potential impact on the climate and be prepared to possibly abandon the coastal areas sometime in the next few centuries not matter what we may or may not do. But the Earth has shown dramatic climatic swings in the past. There is no reason to think it won't in the future. Unless you're one of those who some how believes that the Universe stands still for modern man. In the mean time, watch for pieces of falling sky.

of course the "global warming" could cause a global cooling,#

and of course they dont mention the little ice age in the 1400's to 1860's

Western Europe experienced a general cooling of the climate between the years 1150 and 1460 and a very cold climate between 1560 and 1850 that brought dire consequences to its peoples. The colder weather impacted agriculture, health, economics, social strife, emigration, and even art and literature. Increased glaciation and storms also had a devastating affect on those that lived near glaciers and the sea.
Right. The alarmists are just trying to draw too many conclusions from too little data.
curiously this article is on spiked online, a very good site, with a british slant ;-)..

Climate change: a model cock-up
A climate model program downloaded by thousands of PC users had an internal error that meant it overstated how hot the world might get. Oops.

by Rob Lyons

Researchers behind a much-hyped climate model downloaded by hundreds of thousands of home PC users have had to admit that many of their results are wrong because of errors in the program. And it's not just their software that's flawed.
"be prepared to possibly abandon the coastal areas"

Then I'll never hear the end of it from you, especially if winters aren't so bad up in Ohio.

The thing about global warming that is alarming for the here and now is not the global cycles of heating and cooling that take place over time; the planet has been here for quite a while, and will be here for quite a while. What must be determined is how much impact we have, and how much we will be impacted during our lifetimes. I beleive the scientific community when they say that we are having a significant impact, independent of these global cycles.

The problem, to me, is a self-centered one. I like my island home and I want to live in New Orleans. If the global cycles of warming threaten those things, and those cycles are sped up by things we can control, I want those things to be reduced, and I work pretty hard on my own to reduce them.

Besides, this is actually where good policy and environmental politics may be moving in the same direction. With gas prices at $4 some places in the Northeast in what appears to be an increasing upward spiral, with technology empowering folks to either work from home or work out of their home (a la Glenn Reynold's "Army of Davids"), and with business (slowly) starting to see the aesthetic benefit of something other than parking lots, environmentalism is growing in relevance to people who aren't even thinking about it.

But there are some ludicrous things that happen that can be changed with environmentalism in mind. In Athens, there were recycling centers everywhere, and if you drove your own recycling in, it was free. In Island City, even if you haul the stuff to one of our two countywide recieving centers, you have to pay the County to recycle. I recycled almost a ton of paper and glass and aluminum in Athens over the years (literally), I haven't recycled 2 ounces down here. We also have a ridiculous tax code down here that says you get taxed less for a parking lot (considered developed land) than you do with trees on your land (considered undeveloped). I'd much rather side with the tree farmers and greenspace on that one.
but there are things other than human impacts that can affect stuff so much more radically, when krakatoa blew, there was a drop in temperature. theres also sun spot activity, and so on.. all these CANNOT be predicted. the models they give are not accurate, because of these intangible unpredictable effects.

you cant for a fact say the temperature will go up, or go down. without taking into account these things. the world has been warmer that is is now, before the last ice age it was many degrees warmer. then it got cold how do we know the natural temp isnt higher than we have now.

over 30,000 years ago england was part of europe, then water rose, and seperated us from them. it had nothing to do with human and human pollution. But i do say we humans are using up the planet faster than ever, the world's biosphere is breaking due to massive populations, 1/3rd of all people starving . why.. why are so many animals going extinct. the pressure for food. yes recycle, yes, minimise your environmental impact on the planet. but you cant say whats going to happen.

$4 a gallon.. thats cheap, in the UK its about its 4.5 litres per gallon, at 97p a litre, in the US its 3.7 litres to the gallon.
thats about $8 dollar a gallon.

more than double the prices there.
Oh, I'm well aware that the planet may be heating up/cooling down for reasons completely independent of human behavior. I'm jsut sayin' that there are a lot of really smart folks who seem to think we're having a pretty big impact right now.

Can we predict the future, absolutely not. Can models be wrong? Absolutely. Can I loose my island home for reasons completely unrelated to climate change? You betcha: one ill timed Atlantic tsunami would make my home the most picturesqe sandbar on the eastern seabord.

But, if there's a chance we're changing the climate independently of nature, and not in a good way, I'd like to have those considerations worked into policy. I'd like policymakers to start taking those possibilities more seriously. Erring on the side of caution, you could call it.

Also, those considerations could work well with market changes we are already seeing. I wouldn't mind paying so much for gas if my car got double the mileage, and we could work on getting the West out of depending so much on the Middle East.

More drive for my dollar, less dependency on Sharia controlled governments, and cleaner environmental policy? That just sounds win, win, win to me.
but whats good for one isnt necessarily good for the other.

i personally beleive people should think before bringing so many kids into the world. and they will have an impact on the environment, and their kids and theirs.. this is the problem i see, the unrestrained have as many kids as you can and forget the rest of the world.

thats the biggest problem, the massive resources used by the first world. we use 10 times as much resources for less population. this is what should be addressed.

i agree human impact is massive. but not just in regards to fuels we burn, but the ones the next generation will do.. and so on..

the problem with modern cars they arent built to be as efficient at low speeds. if every car was built to go 20 mph then pollution would be less (or more).. but cars that are built to go 60, and slow down produce more low level toxins that dont move.

and there are some pretty dumb people too, setting policy. i agree with you, but i can see problems, if you have read douglas addams, hitchhikers guide to t he future, theres a planet there that due to pollution etc from visitors this beautiful planet, all the waste is calculated and if you use more resources on that plant they get to cut a bit of you off..

yes humourous, but its also cautionary,
Great discussion, guys. I've been gone all weekend on a Boy Scout camp out with my son.

I try to be environmentally conscisous in my daily routine. My car gets better than 30 mpg. I recycle when possible. I direct my leisure activities towards activities that don't burn motor fuel, i.e. canoing instead of motor boating, cycling instead of motorcycling, camping, hiking, etc.

There's a lot more I could do, I know. But I conserve a lot more than most "environmentalist" I know. We face tremendous challenges on Earth simply due to the huge human population.

I agree with Mercurior that "people should think before bringing so many kids into the world." I have 4 kids (with 2 ex-wives). Often I wonder what their world will be like when they are my age (55). Sometimes I wonder if it was fair to them for me to bring them into this world.

I hope and pray that they will be able to enjoy the world as much as I have or more. With all the challenges facing us we need to make tremendous steps forward. If you look at the progress made in the last 50-100 years you will realize we can do it.
but we also have rampant materialism, more violence, the ability to destroy the world in less than 7 days.

i dont object to people who want and teach their kids how to be people, its the ones who dont teach their kids and let them become little monsters, these are the next generation, what will the world be like for the generation after that..its the monstrous kids who will become monstrous adults, and they ruin it for the good kids, like i think your kids are dadvocate.

and yes, the world needs to focus more on keeping the world alive, or none of us will be here. but we have to be careful that technological progress doesnt out strip our social progress. we have the powers to create a paradise, or a hell. and we have to be careful.

which seems to be happening a little at the moment.
Good points. I worry about rampant materialism. I blogged along those lines at least once. I believe that after a certain point consumption/materialism is wrong. I have a natural tendency to be a minimalist.

When you compare the level of consumption and materialism to that of the 1950's and 1960's, in the U.S. anyway, you find tremendously increased levels of both. I don't believe this is healthy for the individual, our societly or the Earth.
we spend so much time getting this new thing, that new technology, that we neglect our social evolution. in fact we are reverting into a more violent, more grasping mentality that was best seen in the mid 80's when wall street was rampant.
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