Global Warming...Is it a scam?

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    Jun 21, 2007 3:15 AM GMT
    I was in the chat room the other day and talking about global warming. There was this one person in the room who claimed that global warming was a scam and completely unreal.

    I was appauled to hear this and to think that someone could actually beleive this. I have seen An Inconvenient Truth and understand that some of it is spin on the research but how can you just ignore the changes on this planet.

    What do you all think about it?
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    Jun 21, 2007 4:07 AM GMT
    People will believe what they want to believe: you can drag a horse to water but you can't make him drink.
    But to me it seems hard not to believe that the world isn't warming -- just ask the Greenlanders for whom life is looking up! You could quibble about the causes, and I know some who argue that the earth has warmed and cooled many times before, true, and that current warming has nothing to do with human activity. Maybe. But there is little doubt in my mind that it is due to human activity, and that we should act appropriately.
    Anyway I'll leave this soap box for someone else.
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    Jun 21, 2007 4:12 AM GMT
    Global warming is most certainly not a scam. It is not even the greatest threat, but rather a minute detail leading to a much more drastic occurrence - climate shift. Global warming is far from 'new'. The terminology certainly is, but not the process in which it names.

    The argument comes into play with regards to exactly what effect are we, as humans, having on such a change. Living in an antropocentric society, we all certainly seem to blame "man." In my opinion, this is not the case, but rather an entirely, and prevelant, natural effect. Global warming did not start with the Industrial Revolution, but rather roughly 18,000 years ago, bringing a hault to a 100,000-year ice age. This is a recurring and natural process. Climates shifts within the span of 15-20,000 years and as evident, we are in that transitional period.

    The effect that follows is an ice age. Not going to introduce the physiology behind the matter in an attempt NOT to lose readers. Science is a very interesting field but its technical terms often shuts the doors to many.

    However, "global warming," as it has adequately been named, is for all intents and purposes a politically driven idea. While we are, in effect, aiding the increase of Carbon Dioxide emisions, it is still a natural force that is driving the climatic change. Our influence is, in fact, minuscule. We account for less than 5% of the greenhouse effect, while natural water vapor is responsible for 95% of the heat that is entrapped.

    At this current point in time, the matter is debatable. There is currently no proof, with regards to "sound science", that the burning of fossil fuels is effecting the warming of the planet. While I most certainly do believe this could be so, there is no evidence.

    But this should not be turned into a "he said, she said. he did, she did" battle. The danger is evident and inevitable. We, as humans, should take steps to prepare and devise ideas to withstand such a change in our climate. Geological evidence certainly proves the sporatic and dynamic changing of our climate. Arguing whether or not it is real is preposterous. Our climate changes, it is natural. Either way, we would be subjected to those changings.

    Just my two cents which you already have ;p

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    Jun 21, 2007 4:21 AM GMT
    NO, it is most def not a scam... If you want to see a really GREAT series on what is happening NOW - take a look at the BBC's PLANET EARTH series... the best photography and most educational thing out there on what is happening around the globe. It is MUCH better than Al's pic... all those stupid cartoons ! His lame jokes and audience pandering really worked my nerves. Grateful he made it, but go to BORDERS and buy the PLANET EARTH series. You won't be sorry.
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    Jun 21, 2007 4:27 PM GMT
    It seems kind of far outside the scope of this forum, but: The answer is no... and yes.

    There are real physical phenomena going on but there is a huge cloud of politicoreligious envirobabble obscuring them. It is just a golden issue for witch-hunters and demagogues: an immense threat that, if the witches are not burned, could cause... WEATHER! They can point to ANYTHING and claim it's caused by "global warming."

    Lots of nonsense results from illogically cramming three or four distinctly different questions into one angry sound bite. (In this case, some of these issues include, introducing the public to the idea of a "greenhouse effect," then "is the climate warming," "is this within the range of historic variation," "to what extent is this human-caused," and "is it a bad thing?")

    I think the bottom line is that we have nearly grown as a species to the point where we can reasonably well control our environment. Now we have to rationally decide what we want that environment to look like.

    Most people seem ready to accept that blind growth at all costs won't produce the most desirable future environment. However, attempting to fanatically adhere to some fictitious "natural" or "steady state" would not be any better.
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    Jun 21, 2007 5:25 PM GMT
    Errr... some very BOLD statements from TooL - references for those STATISTICS you claim without justification?

    In particular, in order to claim that the gobal climate is "business as usual", you need to show that all RELEVANT parameters are within some reasonable definition of normal (e.g. within 1 standard deviation); and you need to show which parameters are RELEVANT or NOT. This is manifestly not the case: CO2 emissions measured from antarctic ice cores are higher today than they have been within 650,000 years! (just one example).... and it is the consensus of the scientific community (report below) that CO2 DOES influence climate.

    So in terms of the relative significance of various influences on climate change, the way this guy is thinking is relatively clear and helpful!

    And finally, if climate change is "a politically driven idea", what precisely is the point of it? C'mon! You can't just make WOOLLY assertions like that - WHO is making it and WHY?!?!!? WHOM would it BENEFIT?

    mindgarden is right in that much of the rhetoric around climate change is often vastly departed from the scientific, but I think he is misleading us when he says that we can control our environment. On the contrary, avoiding the worst of the possible effects is not going to be easy. He is right to suggest that thinking of stable points in the global climate is not a good way to think about a complex system, but thinking about METAstable configurations most certainly is... Check out this fascinating website mapping the history of the Earth's climate by looking at the distribution and presence of climactically sensitive rock.

    The report of the scientific community is the last word: IPCC2007 report. The are UNPRECEDENTEDLY HIGH levels of CO2 in the atmosphere due to HUMAN ACTIVITY and this is CAUSING THE EARTH TO WARM. To those of you in denial, read the science and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.
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    Jun 21, 2007 5:46 PM GMT
    My favorite quote from a public official regarding global warming:

    "Al Gore's testimony, and global warming in general, is the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people" Senator Inhofe, FOX News, 21 March 2007.

    Yes, it's entirely political, because public officials, particularly Republicans, continue to berate and censor the scientists that study this for a living. They publically shut down the scientists that live it every day. But a senator with a bachelor's degree in economics is certainly qualified to refute the findings of the entire IPCC and scientific-community-at-large, right?

    As a scientist, I feel that the evidence is pretty compelling to support the theories. But we have a number of things to concern ourselves with as well. Overpopulation, overdevelopment and the fact that we could be in the middle of a mass extinction event of species here on Earth. The current extinction rate is 1000x higher than any time in the last 100,000 years.

    Why don't you hear more about this stuff? Simple. In 2004, A group of more than 60 top U.S. scientists, including 20 Nobel laureates and several science advisers to past Republican presidents accused the Bush administration of "suppressing, distorting or manipulating the work done by scientists at federal agencies" in a 46-page report and an open letter.

    Even more of a reason to make sure you VOTE. Vote for people that care about the things that you do. And as constituents, we are responsible for making sure they stick to their promises.

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    Jun 21, 2007 11:04 PM GMT
    I just find it funny that a great deal of the politicians who disagree with global warming have their hands in coal or oil. whereas those who are trying to bring awareness are people with PhDs in environmental biology and such. I don't think the scientists are trying to pull a quick one on us. What would be their motive to deceive the world?
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    Jun 21, 2007 11:18 PM GMT
    "...What would be their motive to deceive the world?..."

    Clearly, I am under the thumb of the leftist agenda to undermine the US of A. :-)

    We meteorologists have been begging politicians to look at the evidence accumulated by climatologists and meteorologists since the 1990s...and even before that. We're still getting accused that we have a political agenda...and not a scientific one.

    Those with political agendas come up with "exposes" such as "The Great Global Warming Swindle" and hope that in the time between airing such claptrap and the instant when the whole screenplay has been debunked..some poor guy would be swayed by the anti-global warming arguments. That particularl British program was dismantled as manipulation of data, argument by authority, and devoid of statistical logic...none of which the public would realize, unless they had degrees in meteorology or statistics).
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    Jun 21, 2007 11:28 PM GMT
    Oh dear... Im lost.

    OK so if I read correctly.... the patterns of the Earths climate changes (ice ages, etc.) are all caused by drastic pollution to the atmosphere? Of course the climate changes naturally. But I think the reason its causing such concern is because we've sped it up so much and caused so much damage that the natural climate change is coming way to fast.

    If Global Warming was just a natural climate change, all of the chemicals we've released into the environment wouldn't have had an effect. I don't even want to get into this enough to start making quotes and refferences....

    We're guilty... we need to change our environmental policies, ignoring the coming doom is stupidity...

    You know all those crazy guys with "The End Is Near!" posters? They're right. Apathy has won out against action, so we will continue to destroy that which sustains us until its too late.

    Unless somehow somebody gets a message out that gets people off of their fat lazy asses and away from the TV long enough to realize that pissing and moaning about the war in Iraq shouldn't be priority. Who cares what happens in Iraq if the whole world dies?

    I don't think that lazy apathetic douchebags should be given the right to have an opinion. If you're not going to at least attempt to change things, you shouldn't be complaining about them and judging the people who actually are trying.

    Im sorry, I got off subject, I do that.

    here are some more interesting topics
    Global Warming is a hoax
    Bush won the office fair and square
    Osama Bin Laden had power, and was not just a figurehead
    Gas is expensive to us because of refining costs
    The wetlands torn apart to put up Walmarts arent significant parts of the environment and therefor not important
    Ethanol is a safe and cheap fuel alternative
    Monsanto isn't run by Satan
    Recycling isn't necessary
    All children should be forced to learn at the same pace
    The holocaust never happened
    Jesus was white

    Id keep going but Im bored. Im going to go do something productive

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    Jun 22, 2007 12:50 AM GMT
    TigerTim, what is justification for you? A website clearly supporting my point of view?

    What difference does it make whether it is human or natural?

    It is HAPPENING. The cause of the matter is beyond us. If you believe climate changes are not natural, please walk out of any university you attend because you debauch the idea OF a university.

    Our climate changes drastically, and I clearly STATED that I am WELL-AWARE (since you seem to enjoy using CAPS to get a point across) THAT WE, as humans, ARE HEAVILY RESPONSIBLE FOR INCREASED EMISSIONS OF CO2, the scientific community as a whole HAS NOT, and I'll repeat once more, HAS NOT, come to a conclusion of its direct effect on warming the planet.

    Keep up your bickering, the earth is still going to heat while your mouths (fingers) are running, arguing whether who or what started it instead of how to cope with the issue. Humanity's greatest threat is humanity itself.
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    Jun 22, 2007 12:54 AM GMT
    And your oh-so-wonderful websites are as pathetic as wikipedia. I hope you know ".com's" are privately-owned and, in a great sense, biased. Try something more scientific =]

    I might as well just GOOGLE global warming for my interpretation of the matter.




    -waste more time-

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    Jun 22, 2007 12:57 AM GMT
    Im sure you're doing something to stop it, aren't you Mr. Opinions?
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    Jun 22, 2007 1:03 AM GMT
    That is precisely where the fallacy lies. You cannot stop it... the process is irreversable. OUR CLIMATE CHANGES. IT IS DYNAMIC AND SPORATIC. The planet's history is CLEARLY a perfect representation of it, obviously. This idea of "global warming" is not NEW to the scientific community.

    Whether we aided in speeding it up is beyond us. It is not even concrete what effects CO2 has on warming the planet, and could very likely be benign.

    At this point in time, there is not much one single individual can do, Mr. Sarcastic. But I try to enlighten.
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    Jun 22, 2007 1:23 AM GMT
    You do know tool that tigertim does have a PhD in Physics right? And, while I'm may be wrong, I've gotten the impression that he works in the education field. And while you may question his sources at least he has given us sources which you have not had the courtesy of doing. Also web sites are easy to post and access by all, though if you don't like that I'm sure he will be happy to ply you with articles and books, or at least references.

    I don't know, and haven't look at all of tiger's sources, but IPCC (intergovernmental panel of climate change) is represented by many countries including ours and is probably one of the best authorities on the subject and not one that reaches it conclusions lightly or with haste.
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    Jun 22, 2007 1:27 AM GMT
    Well I'm impressed that this discussion has been(mostly) civil. I'm not a scientist but I enjoy "popular science" especially anything historical. (eg: bryson's: a short history of nearly everything)
    I'm struck that the scientific study of weather only began in the late 19th century - which is why records of daily high and low temps only go back that far. Since "climate" is the study of weather over an extended period of time, it seems we're relatively new at this. Given that fact, I'm always suspicious of anyone, including scientists, who are so certain about the meaning of global warming trends or anything else.
    in conclusion, i think we can predict climate about as well as we can predict weather... still, we have an obligation to be good stewards of planet earth and to avoid harm whenever possible.
    that's MY 2 cents!

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    Jun 22, 2007 1:34 AM GMT
    Because I provided a personal opinion deviating from the "cause" of the matter. I'm well aware of his sources and the direct effect we have on CO2 emmisions, but the matter is still debatable. While I adhere to his (and the rest of the scientific community's) scientific opinion, as I said, there is NO SENSE it focusing on our effect instead of devising ways to cope with the matter.

    And I certainly hope you do not think a Ph.D will intimidate me =]
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    Jun 22, 2007 2:02 AM GMT
    wrewick: I am a postdoctoral researcher in the Physics department of a major US university. Having just been offered a faculty job, I'm likely to be moving from Cleveland too :-)

    I do not expect anyone to be intimidated by my PhD; that is not it's purpose. It does however say I have undertaken a rigorous education on assessing evidence and clarity of thought. It would be ridiculous to ask me to summarize the literature on climate change in a single posting. I've tried to suggest some leads; I tried to give a flavour of the thinking. I cannot think of any document more conclusive that the IPCC report, written by some 800 scientists and a model of excellent scientific writing with lots of explanation about uncertainty and risk. Please please read it all of you.... that is why it is publicly available!

    People like TooL are very dangerous in society because they mistakenly believe that science is democratic, and that by shouting loud enough people can fly in the face of the evidence. We as scientists do not occupy a special position, however clarity of thought, rigour, evidence, quantification, error assessments, alternative explanations etc. do.

    You have made an extraordinary assertion that CO2 emissions caused by civilization will have no effect on the climate.... this flies in the face of the report and the literature... the burden of proof is on you, I think.
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    Jun 22, 2007 2:18 AM GMT
    I certainly do not believe Science is democratic and never did I assert CO2 has NO effect on climate. That is perfectly clear and evident. But there are historical tendencies that show increases in CO2 in our evironment, thousands even millions of years ago - absent of the industrial revolution, directly correlated to an increase in global temperature. It is an inevitable occurrence that we, as humans, have aided and hastened.

    AGAIN... MY ARGUMENT DOES NOT LIE with discovering what effect we are having on such a change, it is also clear and evident. It was purely to indicate that it most certainly IS business as usual, certainly here a lot earlier than normal.

    IT HAS turned into a politically-driven idea because everyone is caught up pin-pointing fallacies and erroneous statements made by both ends when they avoid the greater truth.

    We are currently in an interglacial period, the earth's temperature tends to rise and then drastically fall into the next ice age. I am not qualified to speak on the physiology of it, though certainly aware of it. I leave that to you, physicists.

    In my study, biomedical engineering, we focus not on the cause but rather a means of coping and dealing with the issue. The cause is benign, at this point.
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    Jun 22, 2007 2:18 AM GMT
    And I am not all that dangerous ;]
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    Jun 22, 2007 2:24 AM GMT
    Intimidated by a PhD? Hell, try and dig a decent post hole with out one!
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    Jun 22, 2007 2:42 AM GMT
    But we are WAY OUTSIDE of the levels of CO2 that have EVER been seen in the atmosphere for periods of time when we have information on glaciation. Surely TooL, you don't think operating outside the parameter space is a sagacious place to start extrapolating that we are in "business as usual". Anyone who knows ANYTHING about complex systems (such as climates) knows that the behaviour of complex systems is NOT LINEAR with respect to parameters; there are stable and metastable points, "phase transitions", etc.... this is as much to say that being away from know regions in the parameter space of the system, you really can infer VERY LITTLE. This is where climate simulations step in.

    It's a bit old but here's a good paper,and the key findings have only been extended and confirmed by more recent work:

    My Bibtex database for climate change is at work :-(

    And a fallacy that was repeated above is the old local/global fallacy. If we can't predict the weather in Cleveland tomorrow, how can we predict the climate? That's because predicting the climate involves spatially averaged quantities. The averages smooth out the local idiosyncratic behaviour; to predict that behaviour, your model needs to resolve spatial detail on length scales of at least HALF of the length scale you're interested in.... note that the weather models typically run on meshes of about 9km (obscenwish, please update this one, if necessary)... so not suprising they didn't catch that breeze in Shaker Heights :-). It's easy to predict the average though: the weather in Cleveland SUCKS :-)
  • gymingit

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    Jun 22, 2007 2:43 AM GMT
    It's not a scam... Scientist are just unsure what will happen when.

    Will we eventually burn the hell up


    Will we revert back to a mini iceage.
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    Jun 22, 2007 2:50 AM GMT
    And TooL, you have not yet explained who benefits from your imagined conspiracy....

    For sure, science does not.... I am fascinated by any problem you care for me to examine.... I am currently interested in the behaviour of cholesterol rafts on cell-membrane like vesicles. A marriage of cellular automata and computational differential geometry: perfection!

    I guess those woolly leftie-europeans are benefitting the most in that they have something to complain about. If global-warming were a conspiracy, it would surely rank as the world's most pointless ever!

    Now keeping the Republicans in power.... hmmmm..... there I can envisage a conspiracy!
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    Jun 22, 2007 2:57 AM GMT
    Of course not, and I have never disagreed with your perspective which certainly seems to be the prevalent consensus among your colleagues at MIT. Statistically speaking, CO2 has had a tendency of rising and dropping throughout history in the earth's atmosphere and the current amount of CO2 is greater than it ever has been, entirely aware of that. Geological evidence also proves your stance.

    Climate simply cannot be predicted, which is why transitional periods extende from 15-20,000 years. However, we can rely on compilations of statistical data providing a general idea of how atmosphereric and environmental changes have effected our climate. And currently, we are 17,000 (or so) years into that period. I personally would not pay mind to our actions now, they've already been done. We may take steps to amend them, as we should. But should realize that this event could very well have taken place, naturally, absent any human effect at all.