Global Climactic Change (Global Warming): Is it upon us?

I was reading through this article today and thought I’d post it here to continue the ongoing debate on Global Warming (or Global Climate Change).

Are these things indicated in the article enough data to definitively say that our climate has reached a critical point of no return? IS there enough data to predict (as the article does) what that change may be? Is it as grim as the article makes it out to be? What is the science behind all this really? How good are the theories…or are we beyond theories and into fact at this point? What are the counter views…and how well are they supported by science?

I don’t want to talk about the causes in this thread (there are plenty of other threads debating human vs natural reasons for Global Warming). I want to talk about whats actually happening and how good a handle we currently have on whats going on…and where it may be going.


Its going to warm up. And then in another 20,000 years, it will cool. And after that… it will warm up again. This is Earths cycle! Before it was ice, it was water. What does that tell you?

Nothing helpful. It is possible that, in this case, the inevitable warming cycle is not following the same schedule it would have without human agency. We might have speeded it up, a lot. And that would be bad. We would not have time to adapt to rising sea levels, as we would if it were a process stretched out over centuries.

I always suspected this might happen: those (not xt necessarily) who denied anthropogenic climate change (ACC) for years suddenly say we’re now too far gone to do anything about it, so let’s keep forcing the greenhouse gases off equilibrium willy nilly.

Yes, the may well be tipping points. But what climatologists are telling us is that, crucially, we probably haven’t reached them yet. We’re currently at 380 parts per million (ppm) for CO[sub]2** and rising (by about 3ppm per year), compared to 280 ppm for the hundreds or thousands of millennia before the 1980’s. Most climatologists think the tipping points in xt’s article are actually around 450 ppm or higher.

And that means we have decades at least to do something, but we have to start now. Even putting off the tipping point for a year or so might buy just enough time to develop the necessary technology or strategy. Otherwise, our grandchildren might well read these threads and articles and ask us how the hell we could be so myopic and selfish as to not even try when we had the chance.

I have only ever seen US conservatives railing against the anthropogenic effect. They seem to think that the IPCC is nothing but a UN plot to con the US economy out of its pre-eminence. Either that or it’s Big Oil lobbying that’s causing it.

And yet, despite this state of denial, the majority of the world’s meteorologists have been increasingly convinced by the theory, and latterly by the growing evidence. Personally, I’ll listen to the scientists not the politicians.

Over here our conservatives and Conservatives agree:

Hell, even our fascists agree that it’s real.

The political football outside the US is not that it isn’t happening, but rather the way to deal with it.

It’s time to stop this crazy denial, and start working out what the hell to do. And quick.

And, to add to jjimm’s list, even the US government are no longer ACC deniers. Heck, the Pentagon even thinks it might cause WWIII.

Well, for one thing you can kiss FLA as an important swing state goodbye.

I think almost all scientists believe it is real. They just don’t agree on what the denouement will be.

Watch how you talk about our lovely Florida Archipelago!

I agree with SentientMeat. It is becoming clear that we have already committed ourselves to at least a moderate amount of additional warming because of the amount of CO2 currently in the atmosphere (and also some additional CO2 that we will no doubt emit because we can’t change our whole system of energy production on a dime). So, adaptation is clearly important.

However, it is very likely that we can still avoid the worst effects if we start acting earnestly now. There are still considerable uncertainties associated various aspects such as the melting of land ice on Antarctica and Greenland, the slowdown of the thermohaline circulation (which in large part drives Gulf Stream), the possible additional release of CO2 and methane by natural processes that the warming causes (such as melting of permafrost, etc.) And, we don’t know exactly where the various “tipping points” are.

Basically, we are involved in a grand experiment on the planet’s climate system. We don’t yet understand all aspects of it well enough to know exactly what will happen. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that “nothing of much of consequence” is not a very likely scenario. if we continue merrily along our current path…and that, because of feedback effects, we may have less time to prevent severe consequences than we may have thought.

The amount of CO2 currently in the atmosphere is something that the earth has not experienced in at least the last 700,000 years and likely the last 20 million years. Of course, over the entire earth’s geologic history, there have been dramatic variations in the climate. However, this is no excuse for causing one of our own on an extremely short time scale geologically-speaking just to see what it’s like. Noone (or very few people) are claiming that the earth and life on the earth will not survive it. After all, there have been major extinction events before in the past. However, for our own welfare, we might want to avoid this experiment.

Humanity will survive but civilisation may not. If climate change swiftly reduces the major crop-growing regions to desert then things would get bad pretty quickly.

How many crop failures in North american grain growing regions will it take for things to get ugly. I read about an insurance industry study a few years ago that predicted that by 2050 the annual damage and destruction caused by climate change would exceed world GDP.

The current GDP, or including inflation at that time.

Slap a ‘?’ on the end of that.

which one is tolerable???

Well in 2050, if the GDP performs like it has in the last 100 years, and if they’re going by the current GDP, it may likely only be a fraction of what it will be in 2050. While it may cause some economic harm, it may only be slight. Where as if they’re predicting damages exceeding the GDP in 2050, then yeah, that would suck.

Also, if it was a prediction by the insurance industry, well, since when do they never cry wolf? An excuse to raise rates IMO. If I didn’t know any better, I would think that the insurance industry loves all this huss and fuss over global warming. Pay off damages, raise rates, profit, repeat.

I doubt that really matters.

No - they wanted someone to take the problem seriously so they aren’t ruined by payouts. Do you see them dancing in the streets after hurricanes?

If anyone believes for a single second that an annual damage rate of world GDP is in any way sustainable they are grotesquely mistaken.

For all but a few nations (and all industrialised democracies), the rate of GDP increase is far below the rate of weather-based damage increase (the decadal average smooths out the peaks from factors like El Nino).

If anyone believes for a single second that climate change could cause an annual damage rate equal to the world GDP they desperately need a reality transplant … it’s not even remotely possible.


Why not remotely possible? The value of global assets is unbelievably vast - tied up in property, agricultural futures, mineral resources, etc. etc. I don’t know how much “the world is worth”, but the value of that which is potentially damagable is likely to be millions, if not billions, of times the value of the world’s annual GDP.