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Old 04-20-2018, 10:16 PM
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Is global warming for real?


Is global warming for real?

NB: This is a column from 2006. I'm commenting on it because it was on the front page (very briefly) recently. But it doesn't seem to be listed in the history of recent columns, so maybe it was an error?

First of all, I want to applaud Cecil for taking on the topic, and then also re-sharing a link from 12 years ago, when technology available, and public attitudes, were very different.

But I'm going to mostly be complaining, so let's get to it.
The article actually ducks the main question of whether GW is happening, let alone whether humans are responsible. The word "temperature" is only used once, and that's in paraphrasing a global warming denier/skeptic.

And it's basically a bunch of standard excuses for not doing anything, scrunged together. But the thing is, when you do that, it doesn't form a consistent view of what's happening. For example, Cecil at one point argues that fossil fuels are (at least at this time) intrinsically linked to economic activity. Then later he's suggesting that we can aid poorer countries in getting their CO2 footprint down. So does that mean that we want to make poor countries poorer? Or that the earlier blanket statement was too broad?

Finally I question the logic of (paraphrasing) "Their contribution will swamp ours, so let's do nothing". Perhaps the earth can tolerate only developing countries doing business as usual, but developing countries + developed reaches a crucial tipping point? It doesn't follow at all that until the biggest contributor(s) do something the rest of us can ignore the problem.
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Old 04-21-2018, 08:13 AM
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Although I'm slightly disappointed with that column I disagree that it says "Let's do nothing." What it says is: What we've said we're going to do isn't going to do much to reverse the trend, but lets do it anyway because wasting a limited resource is stupid.
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Old 04-21-2018, 02:58 PM
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The column seems eminently sensible and realistic to me, exactly what one would expect from Cecil.
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Old 04-21-2018, 05:21 PM
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Actually there were more up to date columns where Cecil noted that indeed we should worry:

How bad is the warming world going to get?
https://www.straightdope.com/columns...-going-to-get/
Quote:
Some say the world will end in fire, Jeremy, and some say in ice. I hold with those who say: Why choose? The ice, melting off the poles, will be what does us in, but only as a result of the great anthropogenic fossil-fuel inferno — a combo that wasn’t on the menu of options Robert Frost had in mind. We discussed this stuff a few years back, when I noted that global warming seems to have forestalled any future ice age, perhaps indefinitely. That wasn’t good news then, and the future doesn’t look much rosier now. It does look wetter, however, according to a pileup of more recent studies on the sea-level problem.

Don’t get me wrong: there are plenty of other ways climate change will wreck the planet, including in the places that’ll escape the oceans — they’ll merely have drought and general aridity to deal with, and all its knock-on effects. A study last year held climate change responsible for a doubling of wildfires in the American west over the last 30 years. Elsewhere drought will mean new migration patterns and resultant strife — I’ll point you toward convincing arguments that already we can assign some degree of responsibility for the Syrian civil conflict to rising global temps, the short version being that warming-induced drought pushed local farmers off their land and into cities, exacerbating preexisting social tensions. But if it’s the worst-case scenario you’re looking for, pal, then you’re gazing into the deep blue sea.
And yes, Cecil points at human emissions as responsible because they do need to be curtailed to avoid really bad scenarios, I do remember congratulating Cecil for not avoiding that in that latest column.
  #5  
Old 04-21-2018, 05:55 PM
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At this point, even if the will existed to make the decision to stop using fossil fuels today, getting a significant portion of the world’s population to transfer to carbon-neutral forms of power production would be the work of three or four decades. China, which clearly sees the need to transition to a fully renewable source of energy with reduced pollution (greenhouse gas and otherwise), is still burning coal and high sulfur fuel oil and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future because they need it to support the growing demand of their increasingly urbanized population for higher standards of living. We are not going to abate carbon emissions to a sufficient degree to prevent the increase in atmospheric carbon and corresponding rise in average global temperature without destroying the world economy and putting hundreds of millions of people at risk to famine.

That does not negate the responsibility of the developed world to aggressively pursue renewable and reduced carbon footprint forms of energy, because those nations dominate the current atmospheric carbon output, and the technologies they adopt now will be passed onto developing nations as they mature and the cost declines. By leading the charge, the US, Europe, and China will reduce the eventual worst case consequences of global climate change, and also preserve reservoirs of natural gas and rich liquid hydrocarbon deposits for future use in producing needed fertilizers for agriculture and hydrocarbon sources for non-power-producing industrial purposes without having to resort to low efficiency biomass sources.

In terms of climate change, it is unequivocally occurring regardless of whether you accept the anthropogenic hypothesis or not, and the need to plan for the consequences of the reasonable worst case scenario are critical not only to reduce the humanitarian impact on billions of people who live a sustenance existence and cannot afford to relocate from affected areas, but also the international security impact of climate change effects. This is something the US Department of Defense, NATO, and I’m morally certain the PRC and other regional powers are actively studying because of the serious impact it can have on both the inflammation of regional warfare and upon the operational logistics of access to fuel and other critical materiel.

Stranger
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Old 04-21-2018, 06:45 PM
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I'm glad to see that there were more recent columns with better information. With regard to that 2006 column, however, I'm afraid I have to side with those who find it disappointing. Yes, it was 12 years ago, but many of the basic facts were known even then. At best, the column contains a great deal of unnecessary equivocation in the face of clear and abundant evidence, and the arguments being made by Essenhigh are so clearly wrong that they should have been addressed much more definitively.

Consider that the IPCC Third Assessment Report was issued in 2001 -- the third major iteration of a comprehensive scientific review of the current state of knowledge on the subject -- and the more definitive Fourth Assessment (AR4) was being finalized at the time this column was written, based on scientific evidence that had already been available for at least several years.

Based on that evidence, the IPCC at that time had already concluded, among other things, that:
  • Global atmospheric concentrations of CO2, methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) have increased markedly as a result of human activities since 1750 and now far exceed pre-industrial values determined from ice cores spanning many thousands of years.
  • Atmospheric concentrations of CO2 (379ppm) and CH4 (1774ppb) in 2005 exceed by far the natural range over the last 650,000 years. Global increases in CO2 concentrations are due primarily to fossil fuel use ...
  • There is very high confidence that the net effect of human activities since 1750 has been one of warming.
  • Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic GHG concentrations.
  • During the past 50 years, the sum of solar and volcanic forcings would likely have produced cooling. Observed patterns of warming and their changes are simulated only by models that include anthropogenic forcings.
(Emphasis is mine.)

For these reasons, among many others, I have to disagree that "beats me" was, even in 2006, an acceptable factual answer to the question of whether greenhouse gases from fossil fuels are a significant contributor to climate change. I also have to frankly state that "it doesn't matter even if they are" was not a reasonable position to take even back then. It wasn't that long ago. Just nine years later, at the UNFCCC Paris meeting in 2015, every country in the world -- at the urging of the scientific community -- signed an agreement that essentially answered both questions in the affirmative: yes, anthropogenic carbon emissions are significantly affecting the climate, and yes, that fact matters very much -- so much that a broad international agreement was essential in order to meet mitigation targets.

There are also other reasons that Essenhigh's arguments -- which is what prompted this question to be submitted -- are demonstrably wrong. It should have been dismissed out of hand. There has never been any compelling scientific evidence for Essenhigh's argument that the currently observed global warming is part of any "natural cycle". Conversely, there is an abundance of evidence that current global climate change is being driven by anthropogenic carbon emissions from fossil fuels, contrary to Essenhigh's fanciful and unscientific argument that human-caused emissions are somehow "very small". The rate of anthropogenic climate forcing is in fact dangerously fast. There is a huge and growing CO2 spike that occurred post-industrialization and continues to grow with increasing fossil fuel use; that excess CO2 can be quantitatively linked to increased radiative forcing and consequently accelerated warming; and a final nail in the coffin of contrarian arguments like Essenhigh's is that the elevated levels of CO2 bear the distinctive isotopic signature of fossil fuel emissions.

Just as a concluding comment, Robert Essenhigh's field of study is the effect of chemical kinetics on the rate of coal combustion, so we can see where his pecuniary interest lie. He has published only two articles on climate change, one in the journal Energy And Environment, a journal with notoriously low standards that has been plagued with scandal and a reputation for climate change denial and publishing garbage, and the other in Energy Fuels, a publication of the American Chemical Society, another low-grade journal highly biased because of its industry ties. Both articles have a denialist slant, basically anti-AGW propaganda. Essenhigh is also listed a climate "expert" consultant to the Heartland Institute, despite having no credentials in the field. Heartland is a right-wing think tank active in the disinformation campaign to deny anthropogenic global warming. Take that for it's worth. What it says to me is that Essenhigh has neither credentials nor credibility, and this fact should have been more clearly noted.
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Old 04-21-2018, 10:42 PM
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Originally Posted by wolfpup View Post
I also have to frankly state that "it doesn't matter even if they are" was not a reasonable position to take even back then.
Agreed. It smacks of the appallingly bad logic that climate change is some sort of digital phenomenon, and that continued emissions wouldn't generate worse results from temperature change, whether in terms of sea level rise, agricultural production, desertification, biodiversity loss, health impacts; all are altered by the size of the final temperature change, not just the fact of its change.
  #8  
Old 04-26-2018, 09:35 AM
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Originally Posted by wolfpup View Post
I'm glad to see that there were more recent columns with better information. With regard to that 2006 column, however, I'm afraid I have to side with those who find it disappointing. Yes, it was 12 years ago, but many of the basic facts were known even then. At best, the column contains a great deal of unnecessary equivocation in the face of clear and abundant evidence, and the arguments being made by Essenhigh are so clearly wrong that they should have been addressed much more definitively.

Consider that the IPCC Third Assessment Report was issued in 2001 -- the third major iteration of a comprehensive scientific review of the current state of knowledge on the subject -- and the more definitive Fourth Assessment (AR4) was being finalized at the time this column was written, based on scientific evidence that had already been available for at least several years.

Based on that evidence, the IPCC at that time had already concluded, among other things, that:
  • Global atmospheric concentrations of CO2, methane (CH4) and nitrous oxide (N2O) have increased markedly as a result of human activities since 1750 and now far exceed pre-industrial values determined from ice cores spanning many thousands of years.
  • Atmospheric concentrations of CO2 (379ppm) and CH4 (1774ppb) in 2005 exceed by far the natural range over the last 650,000 years. Global increases in CO2 concentrations are due primarily to fossil fuel use ...
  • There is very high confidence that the net effect of human activities since 1750 has been one of warming.
  • Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic GHG concentrations.
  • During the past 50 years, the sum of solar and volcanic forcings would likely have produced cooling. Observed patterns of warming and their changes are simulated only by models that include anthropogenic forcings.
(Emphasis is mine.)

For these reasons, among many others, I have to disagree that "beats me" was, even in 2006, an acceptable factual answer to the question of whether greenhouse gases from fossil fuels are a significant contributor to climate change. I also have to frankly state that "it doesn't matter even if they are" was not a reasonable position to take even back then. It wasn't that long ago. Just nine years later, at the UNFCCC Paris meeting in 2015, every country in the world -- at the urging of the scientific community -- signed an agreement that essentially answered both questions in the affirmative: yes, anthropogenic carbon emissions are significantly affecting the climate, and yes, that fact matters very much -- so much that a broad international agreement was essential in order to meet mitigation targets.

There are also other reasons that Essenhigh's arguments -- which is what prompted this question to be submitted -- are demonstrably wrong. It should have been dismissed out of hand. There has never been any compelling scientific evidence for Essenhigh's argument that the currently observed global warming is part of any "natural cycle". Conversely, there is an abundance of evidence that current global climate change is being driven by anthropogenic carbon emissions from fossil fuels, contrary to Essenhigh's fanciful and unscientific argument that human-caused emissions are somehow "very small". The rate of anthropogenic climate forcing is in fact dangerously fast. There is a huge and growing CO2 spike that occurred post-industrialization and continues to grow with increasing fossil fuel use; that excess CO2 can be quantitatively linked to increased radiative forcing and consequently accelerated warming; and a final nail in the coffin of contrarian arguments like Essenhigh's is that the elevated levels of CO2 bear the distinctive isotopic signature of fossil fuel emissions.

Just as a concluding comment, Robert Essenhigh's field of study is the effect of chemical kinetics on the rate of coal combustion, so we can see where his pecuniary interest lie. He has published only two articles on climate change, one in the journal Energy And Environment, a journal with notoriously low standards that has been plagued with scandal and a reputation for climate change denial and publishing garbage, and the other in Energy Fuels, a publication of the American Chemical Society, another low-grade journal highly biased because of its industry ties. Both articles have a denialist slant, basically anti-AGW propaganda. Essenhigh is also listed a climate "expert" consultant to the Heartland Institute, despite having no credentials in the field. Heartland is a right-wing think tank active in the disinformation campaign to deny anthropogenic global warming. Take that for it's worth. What it says to me is that Essenhigh has neither credentials nor credibility, and this fact should have been more clearly noted.
Thanks for a great post. You nailed it to the wall, in my opinion.
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Old 04-26-2018, 03:13 PM
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Obligatory XKCD

Another obligatory XKCD
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Old 04-26-2018, 04:41 PM
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Originally Posted by wolfpup View Post
With regard to that 2006 column, however, I'm afraid I have to side with those who find it disappointing. Yes, it was 12 years ago, but many of the basic facts were known even then. At best, the column contains a great deal of unnecessary equivocation in the face of clear and abundant evidence, and the arguments being made by Essenhigh are so clearly wrong that they should have been addressed much more definitively
I blame Li'l Ed. Cecil has apparently placed too much confidence in him for too long. I mean, doing Cecil's grunt work while holding down a real job has to be wearing and maybe he's found that Cecil is too busy canoodling with Marilyn Vos Savant (you KNOW they've done it!) to check his work.
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Old 04-27-2018, 05:04 PM
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Originally Posted by wolfpup View Post

Consider that the IPCC Third Assessment Report was issued in 2001 -- the third major iteration of a comprehensive scientific review of the current state of knowledge on the subject -- and the more definitive Fourth Assessment (AR4) was being finalized at the time this column was written, based on scientific evidence that had already been available for at least several years.
As discussed in the Climategate emails, leading to the definitive statements about the Himalayan glaciers in AR4. Building on the reputation established by the Hockey Stick.

They have been their own worst enemies.
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Old 04-27-2018, 05:17 PM
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As discussed in the Climategate emails, leading to the definitive statements about the Himalayan glaciers in AR4. Building on the reputation established by the Hockey Stick.

They have been their own worst enemies.
Kinda quaint now to keep in mind misunderstandings that were made worse by the contrarian media.

http://science.time.com/2010/07/01/c...es-to-crumble/
Quote:
But the idea that those emails and a few errors within the IPCC’s massive reports somehow represented an international scientific conspiracy—as more than a few websites argued—is simply untrue. And as Mann’s exoneration and the Sunday Times retraction shows, it’s the skeptics who seem to be pushing the facts too far, not the other way around.

...

So what to do? As Nature argued in an editorial June 30, climate scientists need to be more open with their data and steer clear of hype. But the public—and the media—need to be more open as well, open to the reality that climate change is a reality, even if we can argue endlessly about how to deal with it. It’s not a conspiracy. It’s long since time to deal with the consequences, and stop arguing about the footnotes.
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Old 04-27-2018, 07:42 PM
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As discussed in the Climategate emails, leading to the definitive statements about the Himalayan glaciers in AR4. Building on the reputation established by the Hockey Stick.
The implications and innuendoes here are such complete unmitigated bullshit for so many different reasons that it appears to be coming from some other planet.

The Himalayan glaciers thing was one passing comment in 3000 pages of densely packed scientific data, of so little import in itself that it didn't even make it into the key document for policymakers, the Summary for Policymakers (SPM). It appeared only in the detailed body of the Working Group 2 report on impacts and vulnerabilities, which is necessarily less rigorous than the WG 1 science report. It was nothing more than an unrealistic estimate for when Himalayan glaciers might disappear entirely, and does not change the fact that they are, indeed, melting and receding due to global warming, as are other glaciers all over the world. It was based on a non-peer-reviewed article that had been cited by one IPCC author, something that very rarely occurs as the many thousands of cites on which IPCC conclusions are based are virtually all from reputable peer-reviewed journals, especially in the most important WG1 report on the physical science basis of climate change.

And this was apparently the one mistake that climate skeptics, deniers, and oil industry shills managed to find after scouring 3000 pages of well-cited science with a fine-toothed comb, much of which was a conclusive and definitive indictment of greenhouse gases from fossil fuels as the dominant and dangerous factor driving rapid climate change.

And finally, your attempt to somehow use this minor matter to implicate Michael Mann's research that resulted in the "hockey stick" climate reconstruction is laughable. As a result, again, of the machinations of climate skeptics, deniers, and oil industry shills, Mann's work has been subject to more intense and relentless scrutiny than any other body of scientific research that I've ever come across. It's been checked and rechecked, replicated, re-replicated, proxies investigated for accuracy, statistical methods scoured by statisticians. The National Academy of Sciences itself was asked to look into it by an official request from Congress. Michael Mann himself was subject to no less than three different academic and scientific inquiries. And the result of all this was that Mann was not only completely exonerated and his work validated, but he was praised for the excellence of his contributions to the science.

The so-called "Climategate" emails, which were mostly technical correspondence, have turned out to be the most misunderstood, misinterpreted, and misrepresented documents that I have ever seen in the annals of leaked and stolen documents. Virtually all representations in conservative media and among denialists of what these emails purport to say have about as much value and veracity as the comments you just made.
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Old 04-29-2018, 04:56 PM
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I'm waiting with baited breath for your spirited defense of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.
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Old 04-29-2018, 11:48 PM
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I'm waiting with baited breath for your spirited defense of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.
Well, besides still continuing to argue about the footnotes, the point you are making is a bankrupt one.
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Old 04-30-2018, 01:01 AM
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… We are not going to abate carbon emissions to a sufficient degree to prevent the increase in atmospheric carbon and corresponding rise in average global temperature without destroying the world economy and putting hundreds of millions of people at risk to famine. …
Choosing instead to set our children and grandchildren up of a collapse of the global economy and worldwide famine.
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Old 04-30-2018, 05:37 PM
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I'm waiting with baited breath for your spirited defense of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.
What have you baited your breath with? And what do you hope to catch?

Last edited by Colibri; 04-30-2018 at 05:37 PM.
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Old 04-30-2018, 09:30 PM
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What have you baited your breath with? And what do you hope to catch?
A joke? In this of all fora? Tsk, my friend. Tut tut. <--inside joke

As a guide for newcomers lured in by a thread title that could suggest that the question is in doubt, yes, global warming is real, and humans, by dumping a gajillion tonnes (a technical measurement so I went metric) of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere every year (since we're metric, remember that today is 11 Floréal CCXXVI -- a French Revolution geek joke and the sort of thing you'll get used to here), um, back to the point I am trying to make, because we put a metric bunch of CO2 into the atmosphere we have had a lot to do with global warming. Which is real.

Really. And welcome aboard!
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Old 05-01-2018, 01:08 AM
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What have you baited your breath with? And what do you hope to catch?
From what I can tell, when he found himself unable to respond to the substance of the discussion, he baited his breath with one of the most ridiculous non sequiturs I've ever come across, hoping someone was willing to bite. I was not.

It wasn't even very attractive bait. No self-respecting fish would even have nibbled on it. It was something along the lines of "Lehman Brothers ... something something ... investments in low-carbon economy ... something something ... and now they're bankrupt ... something something ... therefore climate change is a hoax!" Guy spends too much time on denialist websites. Honestly, he was better off with the Himalayan glaciers.
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