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Author Topic:   Anthropogenic Climate Change - What's in Dispute?
crashfrog
Member (Idle past 1544 days)
Posts: 19762
From: Silver Spring, MD
Joined: 03-20-2003


Message 1 of 16 (390732)
03-21-2007 6:05 PM


I've been debating (if you can call it that) with two global warming deniers - "skeptics", they call themselves, although what they're doing bears no relationship to skepticism as I know it - and what I can't get them to answer, exactly, is what part of the consensus science on global warming it is that they dispute.
The issue, as I see it, is fairly simple. The Earth's climate is obviously a difficult thing to model accurately, but in principle, global surface temperatures come down to basically two factors:
1) The heat that comes from the sun ("insolation"), and
2) The degree to which that heat is either retained in the Earth's surface and atmosphere, or reflected back into space.
I think it's safe to say that these are the two predominant factors that affect global surface mean temperature.
Insolation can be easily measured by space probes and other measurements, and it seems to me fairly trivial to get a sense, over time, of the gas composition of the atmosphere. That's just a matter of chemical gas analysis from a bunch of samples. The Earth's atmosphere is sufficiently turbulent - i.e. weather - that gases should be fairly evenly distributed.
Also, the chemistry of burning fossil hydrocarbons can be discerned by a freshman chemist; the products of that reaction are not unknowns. It's also not unknown roughly how many such reactions occur in the course of a year of human industry. This is just a problem of gathering data and making calculations.
Again, another area where the science is pretty established are the physical properties of carbon dioxide gas. Since the gas was discovered about 150 years ago it's been the subject, obviously, of countless experiments and its properties have been extensively examined.
So, it's not clear to me how the basic, skeleton claim of anthropogenic climate change - essentially, human-produced gases like CO2 increase the "greenhouse effect" and cause the atmosphere to retain more of the sun's heat, causing warming - could be disputed. To dispute that claim would be to assert, essentially, that human-produced CO2 doesn't enter the atmosphere; that it just "disappears" and a purely natural source of CO2 is magically substituted. Certainly we can dispute the extent of the warming, and various models return various minimum and maximum projections for the future, but the denialist's position that no change will occur seems predicated on magical thinking, not on evidence. And it seems to fly in the face of the simple physical properties of the planet we live on and the materials out of which it and it's atmosphere are made.
I guess what I'm asking is - what's the debate about?

Replies to this message:
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crashfrog
Member (Idle past 1544 days)
Posts: 19762
From: Silver Spring, MD
Joined: 03-20-2003


Message 2 of 16 (390733)
03-21-2007 6:09 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by crashfrog
03-21-2007 6:05 PM


Side topic
Also, it'd be funny to hear the most ridiculous objections and conspiracy theories of global warming deniers that people have come across. A guy I used to talk to on the internet was adamant that the whole global warming issue came about because the professional scare-mongers realized that, with global warming, they could use graphics that were predominantly red in color, and it's well-known that the color red makes things more eye catching.
LOL! Sure, buddy, that explains it.

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melatonin
Member (Idle past 6286 days)
Posts: 126
From: Cymru
Joined: 02-13-2006


Message 3 of 16 (392105)
03-29-2007 10:34 AM


Three I see consistently are:
Scientists need to use scare tactics to get funding. Climatologists are using this method for money.
It is a conspiracy to fleece people through new taxes. The carbon tax and Gore's association with this are usually brought up.
The advanced nations are involved in a conspiracy to hinder the development of third-world nations. By restricting the forms of energy sources they can use, we are consolidating our position at the top of the global pile.
It's not unusual to find all three together.

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AZPaul3
Member
Posts: 8593
From: Phoenix
Joined: 11-06-2006
Member Rating: 4.5


Message 4 of 16 (392111)
03-29-2007 11:29 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by crashfrog
03-21-2007 6:05 PM


It's about time, space and the human race.
I guess what I'm asking is - what's the debate about?
Conspiracy theorists, skeptics and nay-sayers can hang their hats on all kinds of issues in opposition to the mainstream re: Global Warming and the human role.
Global Warming Skeptics
[aside]
Gotta love Wiki. With few exceptions it is quite accurate and, as I've seen over the last decade, it has become the quick "go-to" source in all Internet debate. It is begining to rival the great libraries of the world as a repository for human knowledge. Interesting what "thinking sand" can be made to do.
[/aside]

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JustinC
Member (Idle past 4920 days)
Posts: 624
From: Pittsburgh, PA, USA
Joined: 07-21-2003


Message 5 of 16 (392113)
03-29-2007 11:35 AM


The most plausible (i.e, not completely retarded) response I hear is:
1.) Yes, there is anthropogenic heating of the earth but it is insignificant
and
2.) The real cause of global warming is an increase in insolation due to increased solar activity.
Unusual activity of the Sun during recent decades compared to the previous 11,000 years

ABSTRACT:
Direct observations of sunspot numbers are available for the past four centuries, but longer time series are required, for example, for the identification of a possible solar influence on climate and for testing models of the solar dynamo. Here we report a reconstruction of the sunspot number covering the past 11,400 years, based on dendrochronologically dated radiocarbon concentrations. We combine physics-based models for each of the processes connecting the radiocarbon concentration with sunspot number. According to our reconstruction, the level of solar activity during the past 70 years is exceptional, and the previous period of equally high activity occurred more than 8,000 years ago. We find that during the past 11,400 years the Sun spent only of the order of 10% of the time at a similarly high level of magnetic activity and almost all of the earlier high-activity periods were shorter than the present episode. Although the rarity of the current episode of high average sunspot numbers may indicate that the Sun has contributed to the unusual climate change during the twentieth century, we point out that solar variability is unlikely to have been the dominant cause of the strong warming during the past three decades.
http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/paleo/pubs/solanki2004/
Though this paper does point out that it is unlikely to be the cause of recent warming.
You are right: it is either increased insolation or increase in greenhouse gas (ignoring geothermal effects). Climatologists and other physical scientists are responsible for running the numbers and seeing which is more likely to be the case, i.e., it's not necessarily obvious. As of now, and likely in the future, the consensus is increased man-made greenhouse gasses.
Unless you are going to appeal to a conspiracy theory or question the scientists integrity, I see no reason to think that their data and calculations are wrong.

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ThingsChange
Member (Idle past 6003 days)
Posts: 315
From: Houston, Tejas (Mexican Colony)
Joined: 02-04-2004


Message 6 of 16 (392521)
04-01-2007 1:31 AM
Reply to: Message 3 by melatonin
03-29-2007 10:34 AM


you have it backwards
The advanced nations are involved in a conspiracy to hinder the development of third-world nations. By restricting the forms of energy sources they can use, we are consolidating our position at the top of the global pile.
It's the other way around. The trailing economies want to limit the leading economies. One of the problems with Kyoto was the absense of third-world countries, and very populous second-world countries.
On another note, some other major issues of dispute:
- The significance of a contribution of CO2 to warming compared to the fluctuations in the Sun.
- The cycle of CO2 and its absorbtion rate as it increases

'Liberalism is a mental disorder' - Michael Savage

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ThingsChange
Member (Idle past 6003 days)
Posts: 315
From: Houston, Tejas (Mexican Colony)
Joined: 02-04-2004


Message 7 of 16 (392522)
04-01-2007 1:36 AM
Reply to: Message 5 by JustinC
03-29-2007 11:35 AM


don't forget the Mars global warming
NASA has published a report on the melting of the polar caps on Mars. It must be those man-made rovers. :-)

'Liberalism is a mental disorder' - Michael Savage

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crashfrog
Member (Idle past 1544 days)
Posts: 19762
From: Silver Spring, MD
Joined: 03-20-2003


Message 8 of 16 (392523)
04-01-2007 1:39 AM
Reply to: Message 6 by ThingsChange
04-01-2007 1:31 AM


Re: you have it backwards
The trailing economies want to limit the leading economies.
Did they write Kyoto? I assumed (you know, from the name) that the Japanese had some involvement in it. But you're saying it was all an Sino-African plot to hobble the first-world economies?

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crashfrog
Member (Idle past 1544 days)
Posts: 19762
From: Silver Spring, MD
Joined: 03-20-2003


Message 9 of 16 (392524)
04-01-2007 1:42 AM
Reply to: Message 7 by ThingsChange
04-01-2007 1:36 AM


Re: don't forget the Mars global warming
NASA has published a report on the melting of the polar caps on Mars. It must be those man-made rovers. :-)
No, it's actually a well-understood consenquence of Mars' orbital inclination eccentricity - which is most definately not happening on Earth. (You may have noticed that we don't have polar caps made of solid CO2.)
But, you know, don't let the facts get in the way of a good misrepresentation, especially in this thread. The "Mars global warming" is definately a golden oldie for GW denial types. Good catch!

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Replies to this message:
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petrophysics1
Inactive Member


Message 10 of 16 (392564)
04-01-2007 11:25 AM
Reply to: Message 9 by crashfrog
04-01-2007 1:42 AM


Re: don't forget the Mars global warming
The OP is a straw man.
Let's talk about the following:
During the 1000's to 1300's wine grapes in Europe grew 300 miles further north than they do today. Present wineries in Southern England are only 40 years old. A thriving wine industry existed until the last winery in England closed in 1317. It appears it was warmer during this period. Why was that?
There was also a warm period during the expansion of the Roman Empire.
There was also the Holocene High, as I recall 4000-7000 years ago. It was much warmer then. Why was that?
For about 90% of the time from the Cambrian to today the average Earth's temperature was 72 degrees F. It is presently about 58 degrees F.
Do you think we are warmer or colder than NORMAL?
Please compare the amount of CO2 emitted by man vs. its natural occurrence.
Please compare the CO2 today to all times past, to at least the Cambrian. Looks to me like the only other time CO2 was this low was during the glaciations during the Pennsylvanian
What is the biggest green house gas? (If you answer anything but H2O, you are a liar). So I have seen anything from 93%(EPA) to 97% of the green house gas effect attributed to H2O. Why is it you don't mention this? Don't you want to talk about something you can't do anything about?
Is global warming bad? Evidence shows people, animals and plants all do better if the average temperature is higher. Deserts shrink, agricultural production goes up, and in short everyone does better. Why are you against that?
If our CO2 production has kept us from returning to the last ice age, which I doubt, it's man's greatest accomplishment. In case you didn't notice, living during an ice age sucks.
Is there a plot? No! But I could point out that there is no money to be made by saying there is no problem. Problems need funding, non-problems do not.
Would you agree with that?
In case you missed it
1.) Explain why it was warmer in the past.
2.) Show that man's contribution of CO2 has been significant today in regards to TOTAL green house warming (that would include H2O) vs. the natural occurrence.
3.) Show that a warmer average temperature (say back to the Cambrian) is BAD.
Edited by petrophysics, : Please note:This message has nothing to do with Mars. I typed it in response to the OP. This board is different, in that it allows responses to actual posts. This is not what I see typically on forums. Please excuse my error. This is only a response to the OP.

This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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ThingsChange
Member (Idle past 6003 days)
Posts: 315
From: Houston, Tejas (Mexican Colony)
Joined: 02-04-2004


Message 11 of 16 (392571)
04-01-2007 12:04 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by crashfrog
04-01-2007 1:39 AM


Re: you have it backwards
Typical. Completely missed the point.
Go back to the quote that I was responding to.
The accusation was that advanced countries were trying to limit third world countries.
That is absurd, since the third world countries are exempt, and it would be the advanced countries that take the ecomonic hit.

'Liberalism is a mental disorder' - Michael Savage

This message is a reply to:
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crashfrog
Member (Idle past 1544 days)
Posts: 19762
From: Silver Spring, MD
Joined: 03-20-2003


Message 12 of 16 (392575)
04-01-2007 12:27 PM
Reply to: Message 10 by petrophysics1
04-01-2007 11:25 AM


Re: don't forget the Mars global warming
Do you think we are warmer or colder than NORMAL?
From what I've read, it's getting warmer now than it's been at any other time in human history, above and beyond the historic, cyclical temperature variation. In other words it looks like we hit the normal, cyclical high point - and then it kept on going up.
I'd say that's abnormal.
Please compare the amount of CO2 emitted by man vs. its natural occurrence.
I don't see the point of that, exactly. More is more. It's not like anthropogenic CO2 just disappears. Anything we produce is an addition to the normal atmospheric levels of CO2.
Please compare the CO2 today to all times past, to at least the Cambrian.
Why? There were no human civilizations during the Cambrian.
What is the biggest green house gas? (If you answer anything but H2O, you are a liar).
True, but man's direct contribution to atmospheric water vapor levels is negligible; moreover, water vapor doesn't force climate change, it's a feedback of climate change. Water vapor is too heavy to remain in the atmosphere for long; excess water vapor returns to the Earth as rain, obviously.
But there's no such precipitation for greenhouse gases like CO2 and methane, which human industrialization creates many millions of tons per year, which is why those gases are so significant to the discussion. Water vapor is significant only as a feedback of climate change since it can't really force climate change on its own.
But I could point out that there is no money to be made by saying there is no problem.
Well, I'd definitely disagree with that. I doubt there's many more climatologists now than there were, say, 40 years ago; before global warming they got along just fine, didn't they?
And you seem to have a completely wrong idea about the scientific grant process. You don't "make money" from research grants. You don't even get paid from your grant. So it's just not the case that there's any "money to be made" from global warming - except by denying it. (That money, the money oil companies pay to their misinformation mouthpieces, you can spend on anything you want.)
Deserts shrink, agricultural production goes up, and in short everyone does better. Why are you against that?
No, deserts grow when the temperature rises, and the modeled effects on agriculture are devastating. Not to mention the rise in ocean volume from both thermal expansion and melting land ice. If you live on a coastal city you might be very much against that.

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crashfrog
Member (Idle past 1544 days)
Posts: 19762
From: Silver Spring, MD
Joined: 03-20-2003


Message 13 of 16 (392577)
04-01-2007 12:31 PM
Reply to: Message 11 by ThingsChange
04-01-2007 12:04 PM


Re: you have it backwards
That is absurd, since the third world countries are exempt, and it would be the advanced countries that take the ecomonic hit.
Well economists can't come to any kind of agreement on that. (Not surprising; economics isn't a science, it's a kind of philosophy.)
But you did directly assert that the third-world economies want to limit the first-world ones. Did you have evidence for that, or not?

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Chiroptera
Inactive Member


Message 14 of 16 (392845)
04-02-2007 3:36 PM
Reply to: Message 10 by petrophysics1
04-01-2007 11:25 AM


Re: don't forget the Mars global warming
Wow! I thought I dreamed that you posted another dumb post, but here it is!
quote:
But I could point out that there is no money to be made by saying there is no problem.
Hey, yeah, just like geologists lose funding if they don't suppress incovenient radiometric dates that don't support the evolutionists' old earth theories. Since you are part of the anti-Christian evolutionist conspiracy, you must know how all scientists are all a bunch of greedy liars, eh?

Actually, if their god makes better pancakes, I'm totally switching sides. -- Charley the Australopithecine

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fallacycop
Member (Idle past 5597 days)
Posts: 692
From: Fortaleza-CE Brazil
Joined: 02-18-2006


Message 15 of 16 (392853)
04-02-2007 5:03 PM
Reply to: Message 10 by petrophysics1
04-01-2007 11:25 AM


Re: don't forget the Mars global warming
3.) Show that a warmer average temperature (say back to the Cambrian) is BAD.
If I remember it right, there were no ice caps during those warm periods you speak of. What do you think would happen to Florida (for instance) if the icecaps melted today? I call that BAD.

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