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Climate Change: The Megathread - Read Post #1 before posting

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  • Thanks for the reply.

    Ok, but surely, in contrast to a falling object, there are so many unknowns, and so many aspects that are difficult to factor in (such as biotic influences) that the result is consequently only a sort of hi-tech guess? (A bit exaggerated, perhaps, but just to get the idea across.)

    On the other hand, if, on multiple occasions in the past, such-and-such happened every time CO2 levels reached a certain level, doesn't that give a more reliable guide to the way the planet behaves under certain circumstances?

    You could go back several epochs and find a period where CO2 was higher than it is now. That seems reasonable until you consider that the earth's orbit or tilt might have been different. There might have been more forestry. Less ice, darker oceans, higher levels of sulphates, lower amounts of solar radiation. The aspect of earth's surface temperature controlled by internal influences may have been different. The atmosphere doesn't contain artificial substances that exist today. Some of these e.g CFCs are known to drive climate. Others merely influence the albedo a little. But you still got to account for that.

    All you can do is examine various aspects of the climate system. Figure out how these sensitive the climate is to these aspects. Generate a range of values or estimates for their sensitivity. Then try to construct a model that will include as many ranges of the significant factors as possible. See, then how these model ranges stacks up when simulating past climates and the climates of other planets.

    tl;dr It is incredibly unlikely that you'll find a climate from the past that would indicate precisely how everything would behave today. So many things have changed since. You can use those individual changes in the past to predict how things may change in the future.




  • Can't reply point by point as posting from phone on the move, but some very valid points there.




  • Climate modeling is very complex
    Basically, they input the parameters for the variables that are known to affect climate. These parameters are only known to an approximate value due to the amount of uncertainty there is about historical data and current data

    The modelers run the model starting at some time in the past and the model is run numerous times

    The parameters are adjusted within the ranges of the approximate values thatand the models are run over and over again. We compare the model output for the past with our climate records and we eliminate the models that have clearly diverged from the past climate and we fine tune the models that are closest to the historical recorded data.

    It's a process of evolution by (scientific) selection. The models get closer to the recorded temperatures but whenever we discover a new mechanism that affects climate or whenever we get a new value for a variable, we need to go back and feed it into the models again. If the new variable completely skews the best models that we had previously, if we are confident about the value of the new variable, then it indicates that the old models were fine tuned too much based on incorrect assumptions so the fine tuning starts again based on the best evidence we have available to us.




  • The Warsaw climate talks seem to have been characterised in part by strong pressure from lobby groups representing the fossil fuel industry, prompting a mass walkout on Thursday by environmental groups.

    Quote:
    Hoda Baraka, global communications director for 350.org, said they were walking out because lobbying from fossil fuel companies was impeding progress at the talks.
    "It has become quite flagrantly obvious that progress to reach any legally binding climate treaty is being obstructed by the lobbying forces of the fossil fuel industry. As we can see from this COP, they've had a very strong presence before and during."

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/nov/21/mass-walk-out-un-climate-talks-warsaw

    In light of the above, it is very interesting to see the publication of a new report which shows that 63% of emissions produced since the industrial age began have been caused by just 90 companies:

    http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/nov/20/90-companies-man-made-global-warming-emissions-climate-change

    Quote from Guardian article:
    "Half of the estimated emissions were produced just in the past 25 years – well past the date when governments and corporations became aware that rising greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of coal and oil were causing dangerous climate change.
    Many of the same companies are also sitting on substantial reserves of fossil fuel which – if they are burned – puts the world at even greater risk of dangerous climate change."

    83 of the companies are in coal, oil and gas, and the other 7 make cement. It seems pretty clear that these companies don't care a damn about what is happening to the climate - only their profits, and that they will do whatever they feel is necessary to protect those into the future.

    In effect, a tiny group of people ("...they could all fit on a Greyhound bus or two.") would appear to be holding the rest of the planet to ransom.




  • In effect, a tiny group of people ("...they could all fit on a Greyhound bus or two.") would appear to be holding the rest of the planet to ransom.
    That tiny group of people are in charge of a system that is providing the consumers (the rest of us) with what "we" demand!
    If "we" cut back on "our" consumption, that tiny group of people will be less inclined to demand increased emissions.

    Fat children & sweet shops spring to mind.


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  • dolanbaker wrote: »
    That tiny group of people are in charge of a system that is providing the consumers (the rest of us) with what "we" demand!
    If "we" cut back on "our" consumption, that tiny group of people will be less inclined to demand increased emissions.

    Fat children & sweet shops spring to mind.

    Fair comment dolanbaker.

    However I think it's also fair to say that the vast majority of people (leaving aside momentarily all of the other inhabitants of the planet) would choose another path given a choice between that and unabated fossil fuel use leading to climate collapse.

    The fossil fuel lobby are doing everything in their power to stop us taking that other path.




  • Fair comment dolanbaker.

    However I think it's also fair to say that the vast majority of people (leaving aside momentarily all of the other inhabitants of the planet) would choose another path given a choice between unabated fossil fuel use and climate collapse.

    The fossil fuel lobby are doing everything in their power to stop that.
    Given the choice between "cheap & plentiful" and "expensive & scarce", regardless of what the possible consequences of the choice.

    You already know what "consumers" will choose.




  • dolanbaker wrote: »
    Given the choice between "cheap & plentiful" and "expensive & scarce", regardless of what the possible consequences of the choice.

    You already know what "consumers" will choose.

    If consumers genuinely understood the implications of continuing on our present path, they would be prepared to take the economic hit. However the message doesn't always seem to be getting out there as much as it should, largely because of distortion of the facts by climate change deniers and partly because of the media.

    We pay insurance for our cars and houses and health (those that can afford it, that is!) etc., despite the costs involved. Nobody can reasonably deny that maintaining a stable, liveable, climate into the future is worth paying a little extra for now.

    Besides that, we elect governments to make the decisions that are in our best collective interests - like everyone having to pay tax, for example, regardless of how much we might resent that on occasion.

    When it comes to attempts to remedy climate change, that is not happening: lobbyists for fossil fuel companies are in large part dictating the agenda to suit their own interests.




  • I'd have to agree with Eoghan Barra. Industry is good at giving us what we want but they're masters of hiding the reality of their industries. That goes for fossil fuel industries as much as food industries, etc.

    There's also the fact that companies thrive off 'creating' demand.




  • If consumers genuinely understood the implications of continuing on our present path, they would be prepared to take the economic hit.
    I'm not convinced that's the case. People are well aware of the dangers of smoking, for example, but plenty choose to continue smoking.


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  • dolanbaker wrote: »
    That tiny group of people are in charge of a system that is providing the consumers (the rest of us) with what "we" demand!
    If "we" cut back on "our" consumption, that tiny group of people will be less inclined to demand increased emissions.

    Fat children & sweet shops spring to mind.

    One aspect of this that's worth considering is that cutting back on consumption of fossil fuels reduces demand, which in turn has the effect of lowering prices, which in turn only creates more demand elsewhere (in other parts of the world, for e.g.).

    So it's arguable as to how much effect individuals voluntarily reducing consumption of fossil fuels will have unless it happens universally.

    (That doesn't mean I don't try to do so on principle regardless.)




  • Unfortunately people are generally selfish and more concerned about the here and now than anything in the future. You can't really blame them either, many of them are struggling to make ends meet. The only way people will cut back on using carbon is if there's a financial incentive to do so. Most people burn coal and peat because it's the cheapest and there's an abundance of it. Their problem is that in terms of their priorities the lowest ones to them are the sulphates it releases into their immediate environment or the carbon dioxide that contributes a minute amount to concentration levels in the atmosphere. Atmosphere's a future problem. Why should they be the ones to pay? The only thing that will mitigate warming is policies and industry that create viable alternatives. Once people find a cheaper way to heat their homes they'll use it. Currently fossil fuels are the best option. I expect that once we reach have peak oil then people will start seriously looking for alternatives, transportation wise at least. Getting them to cut back on the others may prove an even larger problem.
    So it's really up to the alternatives industry to provide stuff that can match the current fossil fuels. Which means, Governments and lobbying will ultimately decide.
    As things stands, I think the best approach is adaptation. I cannot see how we're ever going to reduce emissions enough. However, there's not a whole lot of that going on there either is there? We're ridiculously lethargic. Regardless of what someone thinks is the cause of the planets rising temperature it's pretty simplistic that more heat energy in water causes water to expand. Why areas e.g London aren't doing anything to improve their flood defenses is beyond me. :confused:




  • djpbarry wrote: »
    I'm not convinced that's the case. People are well aware of the dangers of smoking, for example, but plenty choose to continue smoking.

    Most women who smoke quit smoking if they become pregnant.


    People are prepared to make sacrifices for their children




  • Akrasia wrote: »
    Most women who smoke quit smoking if they become pregnant.


    People are prepared to make sacrifices for their children

    Yeah but that's only, as they say, for 9 months. Do parents stop smoking in front of their children? I'm not wholly sure on this, but I think too many smokers grievously expose their kids to high amounts of passive smoke?




  • Generally they do, not enough, but parents generally try to do their best to protect and nurture their children, and parenting is influenced by culture and the collective mood as much as anything else. For example, attitudes towards corporal punishment are dependent on the mood of the society. It's either a parents duty to physically discipline their child, or an it's an unacceptable behaviour depending on the cultural mood at the time.

    When the science is settled, and effectively communicated to the people people's actions generally fall into line

    People used to let their kids sit in the back of the car without a seatbelt because they had a blind spot to the dangers involved. It took a lot of work on public education and enforcement, but now, most parents would never dream of allowing their children to sit in a car without a seat belt.

    It would be extremely irresponsible if there was a anti-seatbelt lobby who were arguing that it is more risky to put children into a seatbelt (this used to be an actual argument) because creating that kind of uncertainty even if there is no scientific basis creates a doubt and reduces compliance amongst the percentage of the population who are vulnerable to these kinds of tactics.

    We have smokeless coal in urban environments but there is a perception that smokeless coal isn't as hot as normal coal (it's actually hotter, cleaner and it burns longer) so we have people driving miles to places where there are no restrictions and buying their sooty coal there.

    When they burn this coal in the towns and cities, this creates smog which makes their lives worse for little or no benefit. If we had a proper public information campaign about the benefits of smokeless coal, the need for these clean air initiatives, and possibly some education on how to light their fire properly (a lot of people have difficulty getting a smokeless coal fire started) the mood would shift and people would no longer even consider using sooty coal in their fires.

    There is also a lack of information about the effects of inhaling the fumes from an open fire. Parents are usually very careful about making sure that everything their baby touches is safe and clean and sterilised, but usually don't think twice about having their child in the sitting room with an open log fire. Wood fires create very fine particulates which can cause health problems and damage developing lungs. Parents are worried about keeping their baby warm, but there's no health risk from being in a room at room temperature, while a cosy warm fire could be doing long term damage.

    My point is that parents are generally well intentioned and will make decisions about what they believe is in the best interests of their children but it's hard to constantly keep up to date with all the various costs benefits and risks associated with daily life.

    The risks associated with climate change are so enormous that parents really should be prepared to make some sacrifices now so that their children and grandchildren will have a chance of a peaceful safe life in the future.

    We just need to take collective decisions, when people act together and share the costs then we are generally prepared to dig in and take the pain. When there are free riders, this causes conflict. If it is seen that some people are exploiting the situation or forcing others to act while not acting themselves then this will make mitigating the worst effects of global warming much harder.




  • Jernal wrote: »
    Unfortunately people are generally selfish and more concerned about the here and now than anything in the future.

    This is a fairly reasonable, if gloomy, assessment, and the reasons why people are like that is due to our evolutionary past: for most of human existence there wasn't much advantage in thinking decades into the future, when the challenge was to survive from day to day, month to month, or year to year.

    However, don't underestimate the capacity of humans to rally to a cause when some tipping point makes us collectively decide that's the right or necessary thing to do, often precipitated by the energetic and determined actions of a very small few at the right time.

    One example of many would be the role played by a small, but passionate and indefatigable, group of English anti-slavery activists - largely Quakers - in the 19th century. They managed to change the paradigm from one in which slavery was generally accepted as a necessary evil (largely on economic grounds - sound familiar?) without which 'civilised' society would collapse, to one in which slavery was widely seen as totally unacceptable.

    It could be argued that slavery would have mostly died out anyway, but it's likely that without those few stubborn individuals to act as catalysts it would have taken a lot longer. Those who walked out of the climate talks in Warsaw could be seen in some ways as a modern equivalent, trying to alert the rest of us to what's going on.

    (Actually, funnily enough, I read somewhere recently that many of those involved in setting up Greenpeace were Quakers; I am not a Quaker, by the way.)




  • dolanbaker wrote: »
    Given the choice between "cheap & plentiful" and "expensive & scarce", regardless of what the possible consequences of the choice.

    You already know what "consumers" will choose.

    Yet every day people fill their trolleys up with gallons of bottled water because they don't trust the quality of drinking water for their family.

    Drinking water is safe 99% of the time, but some people are still prepared to spend hundreds of euros a year to buy bottled water because they think it's safer than tap water.

    People are often willing to pay a premium for safety. If the international community can agree on a program to accellerate our migration to a carbon free economy, people would go along with this even if it cost a bit more in the short term. (and especially if it is properly communicated and implemented so that the cost is spread fairly and it is seen as a global cooperative effort in solidarity with our future generations)

    (there will even be some benefits from adopting 21st century technologies so it's not all a cost)




  • Akrasia wrote: »
    If the international community can agree on a program to accellerate our migration to a carbon free economy, people would go along with this even if it cost a bit more in the short term. (and especially if it is properly communicated and implemented so that the cost is spread fairly and it is seen as a global cooperative effort in solidarity with our future generations)

    This is the biggest difficulty however, as I'm sure you're very well aware: just what exactly does spreading the cost fairly mean? The developed and undeveloped nations have very divided opinions on that.

    It's a difficult one, with undeveloped nations like China building more coal-burning electricity generating plants at a rate of knots (another 315,000 coal-derived megawatts of capacity due to come online there over the next 3 years alone, apparently).




  • Interesting article in Nature yesterday on the so-called global warming "hiatus":

    http://www.nature.com/news/climate-change-the-case-of-the-missing-heat-1.14525?WT.ec_id=NATURE-20140116

    I suspect the article is behind a paywall, but the general gist is there is increasing evidence that there is a strong correlation between surface temperatures in the Eastern Pacific and the rate of global temperature increase.




  • djpbarry wrote: »
    Interesting article in Nature yesterday on the so-called global warming "hiatus":

    http://www.nature.com/news/climate-change-the-case-of-the-missing-heat-1.14525?WT.ec_id=NATURE-20140116

    I suspect the article is behind a paywall, but the general gist is there is increasing evidence that there is a strong correlation between surface temperatures in the Eastern Pacific and the rate of global temperature increase.

    I read this article and my interpretation is that climate scientists are desperately trying to unearth excuses as to why their predictions were wrong. Yet another case of "a beautiful theory destroyed by an ugly fact", (Huxley).


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  • which predictions were wrong?




  • Roger_007 wrote: »
    I read this article and my interpretation is that climate scientists are desperately trying to unearth excuses as to why their predictions were wrong.
    I would say the article explains how climate scientists are trying to unearth explanations as to why global warming has slowed over the last couple of decades. Contrary to popular belief, the planet is still warming, just more slowly than it was twenty years ago.




  • The Climate Research Unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia has made its worldwide historical record of over-land temperature data available as an overlay on Google Earth:

    http://spectrum.ieee.org/tech-talk/at-work/test-and-measurement/now-on-google-earth-150-years-of-global-temperature-data




  • Akrasia wrote: »
    which predictions were wrong?

    Many predictions were wrong.

    clip_image022.jpg

    This is a graph of five predictions of temperature increase 1990-2050 together with two observable and recorded trends, one of which is from the HadCRUt4 monthly global mean surface temperature and reflects a warming of 0.11° K per decade since 1950, and one the RSS satellite temperature record. Four are the IPCC predictinos and one is from Dr. James Hansen of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies who, in 1988, told the USA Congress that the world "will warm 1°C for every 20 years until 2050".

    As we can see, the projections bear no relation to what has been observed and recorded.

    Indeed, it is refreshing to see that the IPCC’s final draft of the Fifth Assessment Report says any warming is now likely to be 0.4°C over 30 years, which means that global warming this century might be in the region 1.3°C.

    What is interesting is the admission that the IPCC is no longer relying on its computer models, (not surprising as they greatly over estimated the amount of warming given that we have actual data vs their predictions) and the IPCC are now relying on “expert assessment” rather than the flawed computer models. I am sure all of us can be thankful that the scale of global warming is now a fraction of what was once claimed.

    Some still rather stupidly claim “the science is settled” and, to them, I’d ask which of the rather large projections above is the science settled upon?

    Second, the actual observations show that the observed climate keeps demonstrating that the settled science keeps getting it wrong. That pesky actual observed climate in reality keeps not doing what the settled science says it should do in theory!




  • djpbarry wrote: »
    The Climate Research Unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia has made its worldwide historical record of over-land temperature data available as an overlay on Google Earth:

    The graph below is a mean of GISS, HadCRUT4, NCDC, RSS, & UAH temperature data. Despite record levels of CO2, it shows no warming for 13 years;

    clip_image014.jpg




    The graph below shows that by satellite measurements there has been no global warming for nearly 18 years.




    clip_image016.jpg

    it can be observed that the concentrations of CO2 have increased considerably, in both graphs, with no observable rise in global warming.




  • Ruby4711 wrote: »
    This is a graph of five predictions of temperature increase 1990-2050 together with two observable and recorded trends…
    I can’t help but notice that none of those predictions have any margin of error associated with them? And why are all the other predictions featured in IPCC reports? Cherry-picking the data, methinks.
    Ruby4711 wrote: »
    The graph below is a mean of GISS, HadCRUT4, NCDC, RSS, & UAH temperature data. Despite record levels of CO2, it shows no warming for 13 years…
    Why are we only looking at the last 13 years? What about the rest of the temperature records? Cherry-picking the data, methinks.




  • djpbarry wrote: »
    I can’t help but notice that none of those predictions have any margin of error associated with them? And why are all the other predictions featured in IPCC reports? Cherry-picking the data, methinks.

    The margin of error works both ways, and if you wish to produce two more graphs showing the margin of error added to the predictions, and also subtracted from the predictions, then that’s a great idea.

    The IPCC is the world authority who advises governments and their predictions are valuable as evidence. If you have other predictions you wish to add than that's a great idea.

    djpbarry wrote: »
    Why are we only looking at the last 13 years? What about the rest of the temperature records? Cherry-picking the data, methinks.

    The post is to show that there has been no global warming for some time according to GISS, HadCRUT4, NCDC, RSS, & UAH (18 years according to RSS).

    Here is a graph which shows HadCRUT4's observable results from 1950 to 2013 showing an increase in Global warming of 0.69°C over the last 63 years.

    clip_image012.jpg



    All evidence is good, and I’d suggest that evidence has considerably stronger weight in this discussion than our personal opinions.


    djpbarry wrote: »
    Contrary to popular belief, the planet is still warming, just more slowly than it was twenty years ago.

    Your opinion, given here without evidence, seems to be largely at odds with GISS, HadCRUT4, NCDC, RSS, & UAH.




  • Ruby4711 wrote: »
    The margin of error works both ways, and if you wish to produce two more graphs showing the margin of error added to the predictions, and also subtracted from the predictions, then that’s a great idea.
    The point is that citing a prediction without it’s associated margin of error is disingenuous. As such, the graph you produced above is essentially meaningless. For example, the IPCC First Assessment Report predicting warming at a rate of between 0.10 and 0.35 degrees per decade – the observed increase of 0.15 degrees per decade falls within that range.
    Ruby4711 wrote: »
    Your opinion, given here without evidence, seems to be largely at odds with GISS, HadCRUT4, NCDC, RSS, & UAH.
    The GISS dataset shows an upward trend:
    http://climate.nasa.gov/key_indicators#globalTemp

    The HadCRUT4 data shows an upward trend:
    http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/temperature/HadCRUT4.pdf

    The NCDC data shows an upward trend:
    ftp://ftp.ncdc.noaa.gov/pub/data/anomalies/annual.land_ocean.90S.90N.df_1901-2000mean.dat

    The RSS and UAH datasets are not surface temperature records.




  • djpbarry wrote: »
    The point is that citing a prediction without it’s associated margin of error is disingenuous. As such, the graph you produced above is essentially meaningless. For example, the IPCC First Assessment Report predicting warming at a rate of between 0.10 and 0.35 degrees per decade – the observed increase of 0.15 degrees per decade falls within that range.

    The graph was in response to another poster asking the question "which predictions did not come true", and was posted in response.

    Your margins of error are a red herring and its impossible to believe anyone reading the graph would seriously consider whether your margins of error would materially make any substantive change. Of course, the way to show that would be for you actually produce graphs with your margins of error on them to show how they affect the results, and then we can all see that they are irrelevant.

    Otherwise we are just talking about opinions which seem to have little value compared to facts.
    djpbarry wrote: »

    There is a difference between "the trend" and the "observed and recorded facts" and I am assuming everyone reading this knows the difference between the “trend” and the “observed results”.

    The trend has indeed been upwards for global warming over a long period. What we have seen is that the trend over, for example, the last 63 years has been upwards, while the observed results for the last number of years (see graphs in posts above) has shown no increase in temperatures.

    It is likely global warming and the latest predictions of the IPCC, suggesting an increase of 0.4°C over the next 30 years, shows that global warming is not the climate catastrophe which it was once claimed, and which is great news for us all.


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  • Ruby4711 wrote: »
    Your margins of error are a red herring…
    Every projection has an associated margin of error – it’s disingenuous to expect otherwise.
    Ruby4711 wrote: »
    Of course, the way to show that would be for you actually produce graphs with your margins of error on them to show how they affect the results, and then we can all see that they are irrelevant.
    Here is the “business as usual” scenario from the IPCC’s very first report in 1990 (in blue) with observed temperature data (GISTEMP, in red):

    IPCC_FAR_Since_1880.png
    Ruby4711 wrote: »
    The trend has indeed been upwards for global warming over a long period. What we have seen is that the trend over, for example, the last 63 years has been upwards, while the observed results for the last number of years (see graphs in posts above) has shown no increase in temperatures.
    The trend over the last twenty years has been upward, which was my original point.


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