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It's Getting HOT in Here, so...

Here's an excerpt from an article I just read:
...there is no real direct evidence which can be used to incriminate anthropogenic greenhouse gases as the being the main factor responsible for the observed global warming. The reason these gases were blamed are primarily because (1) we expect them to warm and indeed the global temperature increased, and (2) there is no other mechanism which can explain the warming.

Although this reasoning seems logical, it turns out that (1) We don't even know the sign of the anthropogenic climate driving (because of the unknown indirect aerosol effects), and (2) There is an alternative mechanism which can explain a large part of the warming.

Solar activity can explain a large part of the 20th century global warming, on condition that there is a strong solar/climate link through modulation of the cosmic ray flux and the atmospheric ionization. Evidence for such a link has been accumulating over the past decade, and by now, it is unlikely that it does not exist.

This link also implies that Earth's global temperature sensitivity is also on the low side. Thus, if we double the amount of CO2 by 2100, we will only increase the temperature by about 1°C or so. This is still more than the change over the past century. This is good news, because it implies that future increases in the amount of atmospheric greenhouse gases will not dramatically increase the global temperature, though GHGs will probably be the dominate climate driver.

I have not identified the author, but you could easily find the source article by Googling any sentence from the excerpt. Please complete the following poll before tracking down the source material:

Poll #1052523 It's getting HOT in here...

The intent of the author of the above excerpt is to...

advance a politically motivated ideological position on the topic of climate change.
advance an apolitical scientific view on the role anthropogenic GHGs on climate change.
secure a "research grant" from some big corporate energy conglomerate.
Not sure.

The author of the excerpt probably has...

respectable scientific credentials.
bogus scientific credentials.
no scientific credentials.

The excerpt author's primary motiviation for articulating this particular message is most likely...

related to his tin foil hat.

KMO's motivation for posting this poll is most likely...

to make an indirect and disengenuous political point.
to encourage folks to examine their biases and thought processes.
to shamelessly promote the C-Realm Podcast.
to shamefully promote the C-Realm Podcast.


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 9th, 2007 06:59 pm (UTC)
I could only comment on one of the questions - the first. It seems absurd to try to guess someones credentials from two paragraphs. It seems equally absurd to try to figure out their motivations - or yours.

Sep. 9th, 2007 08:30 pm (UTC)
If belief systems are like belly buttons...
then I picture you with a very smooth tummy.

Thanks for posting your comment.
Sep. 9th, 2007 11:33 pm (UTC)
Sep. 10th, 2007 01:19 am (UTC)
I'm sorry, but what exactly is the point of this?

Science is proven neither by consensus or polls. Either AGW is happening or it isn't. It's either a disaster or not. It's either time-sensitive or not particularly.

I just can't get too enthused over a poll about it.
Sep. 10th, 2007 01:28 am (UTC)
I'm sorry, but what exactly is the point of this?

Well, I'd rather not spell it out until after the folks who roll in and find this when they get to work tomorrow morning have had a chance to throw in their two cents.

I will say that your middle paragraph seems to indicate that you're looking in the exact opposite direction of "the point of this." But that in and of itself is very much to "the point."

Thank you for taking the time to comment.

Sep. 10th, 2007 01:31 am (UTC)
Science is proven neither by consensus or polls.

Notice that none of the questions in the poll ask, "Do you think he's right?"
Sep. 10th, 2007 02:40 am (UTC)
I cheated on the Googling part thus I shall refrain from voting. At least for now.

I would, however, like to make largely the same point I always make vis-a-vis global warming. It would be fascinating—truly fascinating—if Mr. Shaviv is right about the galaxy and all. That seems, at least on the surface of it, after 30 seconds of study, an intriguing hypothesis. I have no idea how the data actually stack up, but I'd be interested to learn. However, we KNOW that atmospheric CO2 has been rising since the dawn of the industrial age, and that the rate of its rise seems directly correlated to the rise of global industrialization. And lo, over this same time period, we have this apparent warming. And further lo, CO2 absorbs infrared radiation and whatnot. This could all be a coincidence, yes. And maybe if we were just running a lab experiment it would be wise not to make too much of these associations. However, this is not a lab experiment. This is the damn planet we live on. However we go forward in scientifically analyzing Earth's climate, the obvious correlations that have already been proven between the rise of global temperature and the rise of CO2 (among other gases the data for which I do not feel like researching presently) would suggest, to me at least, that we ought to be a bit more proactive in doing something about our current industrial behavior. This is, essentially, a political opinion, not a scientific one—because as far as I'm concerned the scientific issue has been settled to the degree necessary to force political action. Yes, by all means let's look into Mr. Shaviv's theory. And all the other weird ideas going around out there. I'm all for that. Meanwhile, we have a situation now—suppose we were undertake some sort of radical and far-reaching global policy to cut global greenhouse gases, what's the worst-case scenario (I mean besides, you know, total socioeconomic collapse and all)? We'll have cleaner skies, a cleaner environment, and maybe in retrospect we'll look back 200 years from now and realize the global warming thing was a bit over-the-top,but so what? Would we be better of just waiting for the spiral arm data to come in over the next millennium or so and run the off chance that we may end all advanced life on the planet? That seems silly to me.

My point is that I think we ought to at this point separate the "scientific" from the political or public-policy aspect of this if you will. I have nothing against scientists taking political positions, or politicians forming scientific opinions, as long as we all have a good understanding of where the one realm of human activity ends and the other begins. I think there is more than enough evidence at this point to suggest that humans are responsible, via greenhouse gases, for climate change. And even if this has not been proven to everyone's satisfaction, I simply see nothing to be gained from postponing public policy movement on the matter. Public policy movement to say the least! Now, I listen to your podcast these days (and I've enjoyed it quite a bit I should say), and I feel I have a better idea of where you're coming from than I used to from just reading your journal, so I'm pretty sure your motivations here are more, I don't know, epistemological than political, and to that extent I agree with you, but I feel it an important point to make anyway. That is all.

Fuck it I'll vote anyway.
Sep. 11th, 2007 04:15 am (UTC)
I've read all your comments, and...
the kids are asleep, and now I'm happy to move from the meta-content down into the actual content of the possible causes of climate change and what to do about it.

It seems to me, regardless of how the science of GHGs and global warming shakes out, that 21st century life will answer far more to the satisfaction of human psychology if we make a deliberate effort to do things on a human scale rather than on a massive corporate/industrial scale. It just so happens that in re-organizing to elevate human satisfaction over ever-growing corporate profits, we would also tackle the GHG issue.

If I understand you right, you'd like to see people riding bikes rather than driving cars because then they wouldn't be putting so much carbon into the atmosphere. I'd like to see people riding bikes (or even horses) rather than driving cars because they would enjoy a higher quality of life by getting the exercise, being outdoors, and staying closer to home and interacting with the people who live near them and form their actual local community.

Now if it turns out that global warming is taking place on Mars and Neptune as well as on Earth thus indicating that some larger scale phenomenon is at work, I'd still like to see a shift away from the corporate/industrial agriculture and a central banking/warfare model of enormous government because it represents a better way to live.

I'm glad to learn that you listen to the podcast. You get a much clearer picture of what I'm about that way. I know I come off a lot more strident in print. I've considered giving up "writing" all together for just that reason.
Sep. 12th, 2007 10:17 pm (UTC)
Re: I've read all your comments, and...
I agree with everything you say of course about doing things on a human scale being beneficial to the whole spectrum of our existence, the GHG issue being one of many that would (hopefully) be addressed in the process. I would just turn that around a bit though. As far as I'm concerned the survival of the planet and its biosphere (without a wholly unnecessary and human-caused mass-extinction) is a transcendental moral issue that dwarfs the problems facing humanity internally. There are other issues—development and population obviously, non-warming related extinctions due to development and agriculture, nuclear war, et cetera. But I would say at this point climate change is probably the preeminent threat to the biosphere, and it is my deep belief that we have a duty here transcends mere political and moral theorizing. By re-organizing human society along lines we would both probably find more agreeable, we will elevate human satisfaction, et cetera, and make as good a stab as we can at the current GHG issue. I think all are worthy and attainable goals, which conveniently and happily will probably be found to have many overlapping remedies, but to my mind there is no question that climate change represents a unique threat to—essentially—the entirety of known life in the universe, and that is something that ought to weigh fairly heavily in our deliberations on where we go from here as a species.

(And let me point out that I use the phrase "climate change" advisedly here, even though it is supposedly a phrase of the anti-warming establishment. The operative point is that the climate is evidently being thrown out of balance, perhaps resulting warming in the short-term due to GHGs and all, but perhaps the long-term effects will be different. Possibly radically so. Various models have been put forth, about ocean currents and all, et cetera. I'm basically just getting sick of George Will bringing out those old headlines from the '70s warning about "global cooling." He has utterly missed the point as far as I can tell. Anyway I suppose I should properly say "anthropogenic climate change," but I won't, despite my fondness for all manner of words starting in anthropo-.)

The point is, the kind of changes in socioeconomic organization and lifestyle we would have to implement to curb our environmental impact on the planet, GHGs included, are not terribly traumatic things to contemplate. Even if they were, I would posit that it would still be worthwhile to take them up. But they are not. The technology exists today for humanity to live well, with all the amenities of modern Western society or their equivalents, assuming the whole population curve works itself out. I think we should be getting off-planet too, but I'll partition that part of my opinion off for another time. If the consequences of falsely judging GHGs to be chiefly responsible for climate change were somehow potentially horrific or traumatic, I would certainly be more amenable to this wait-and-see approach posited by Mr. Lomborg and, apparently, Prov. Shaviv. But this is not the case at all, and I see nothing to be gained from this approach. I find Lomborg's argument, at least in its latest media-savvy incarnation, highly specious—as if tackling climate change is some sort of zero-sum game where if we cut carbon emissions we won't invent cheap fuel cells or something. I just don't understand this. What is the worst that will happen if we take action and the whole GHG thing doesn't pan out? Not a goddamn thing as far as I can tell, except cleaner industry and maybe a few pissed off capitalists.

-> continued
Sep. 12th, 2007 10:17 pm (UTC)
Re: I've read all your comments, and...

The technology exists today for humanity to get all its energy from sustainable and renewable resources. It does not require any vast "billions of dollars in research," nor faith in any future singularity. And even if we don't pursue the sort of radical socioeconomic shifts that I believe both you and I would look favorably on, something stupid like a cap-and-trade system is still a good idea. I won't even call it a "step in the right direction," since I think it's just another step along the dead-end continuum of Western capitalism, but it's still a good idea. And I am deeply, deeply suspicious of people like Shaviv and Lomborg who immediately attack even these rather modest proposals at the slightest sign of any half-baked alternative. Even if not a manifestation of sloppy science and political bias, such reactions are certainly a sign of some sort of desperate contrarianism that doesn't seem particularly constructive in either the scientific or policy debates here.

Again, to return to the data: Wheras carbon dioxide IS a greenhouse gas, and whereas direct and indirect measurement of global atmospheric CO2 levels have risen in apparent direct correlation with the rise of human industry since the dawn of the industrial revolution, and whereas the global average temperature has, at least of late, been rising at a more rapid rate than at any other time in geologically discernible history, THEREFORE it seems to me a not unreasonable Occam-esque conjecture to make that there could be, and probably is some correlation between them. This is perhaps not "proven," but it is a very good hypothesis, at the very least. It seems a bit desperate to me when these anti-warmists put forward any fringe conjecture they can throw together as evidence of why we shouldn't go forward on the working assumption that the GHG model is more or less accurate. As I said, I fully support their research, I find it genuinely interesting, but to just throw aside the obvious GHG correlations, which we can do something about, when there's no good or pressing reason to do so just seems irresponsible. And that was my original point: I think I am perfectly able to analyze Prof. Shaviv's ideas without any real political bias, because for the reasons I have tried to convey here, they wouldn't really change my political thinking in any event.

And yes I do enjoy biking, although I enjoy driving too. And I am going out biking right now before the sun sets. Which, unfortunately, is fairly early these days. Also: I wrote this in like three different this afternoon and late last night so I probably repeat myself several times. I apologize for that.
Sep. 13th, 2007 03:06 am (UTC)
warming memes
Hey RG,

Vincent Casspriano Jr., the guest on the most recent C-Realm Podcast, has been following the discussion here. He directed me to a blog post he recently made on the subject. I think it's worth a look:

Sep. 13th, 2007 05:44 pm (UTC)
Re: I've read all your comments, and...
My primary concern with massive scale, governmental "solutions" to climate change can be encapsulated in two proto-slogans:

1) The primary source of problems is solutions. In a world ruled by governments which openly serve at the behest of corporations, any grand scale governmental projects aimed at addressing climate issues will, eventually and inevitably, become enormous systems for increasing corporate power. "Global warming" will serve this end just as readily as the "the drug problem" and "terrorism" does today.

2) I don't want global warming to become "the health of the state" in the way that WAR IS THE HEALTH OF THE STATE.
Sep. 10th, 2007 05:29 am (UTC)
An interesting and synchronous post on your part. I spent a few hours yesterday researching the statements on "A gallon of gasoline is assumed to produce 8.8 kilograms (or 19.4 pounds) of CO2." This has ALWAYS bothered me because the numbers just don't add up. I don't care WHAT the EPA says. To me, that's a political statement, and one hell of an excuse.

Perhaps someone here can explain to me how this math works out. I know when I was doing chemistry that I couldn't create 20 pounds of something out of 6 pounds of material. I know that if I separate the oxygen from 1 pound of water, I don't get 8 pounds of oxygen.

What REALLY pisses me off is that I think there is plenty of proof of global warming without having to use bad math to explain the situation. I think that bad math such as this creates an atmosphere for people to challenge the CO2-global warming connection.

Sep. 10th, 2007 05:43 am (UTC)
Nevermind, I'm an ass.. The oxygen in the CO2 doesn't come from the gasoline.
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )

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