Guys What is your take on the climate change deal situation

It’s just another socialist wealth redistribution scheme. Until we figure out how to invent a thermostat for the sun, there’s not a damn thing humans can do about global warming or cooling.


Not so tiny…

So far, the best, best, chance I see for the skeptics is to discover an unknown natural mechanism that will accelerate the sequestration of CO2.

IMO Abortion in the end is a moral issue, the oceans rising up don’t care if one is a moral person with beach property.

We have to remember that the science remains, Copenhagen is part of “so what we leaders will do about climate change?” With the science I’m confident, with politicians I’m not.

I think the earth is warming - it would be warming about about a degree per century right now even if man wasn’t here.

I also agree that man-made CO2 increases are increasing the amount of warming.

I do not believe that there is good evidence that the warming will be above 2-3 degrees C - the natural forcing rate of CO2.

I believe that an overall warming of 2-3 degree will be not hurt the planet overall, but will help the temperate nations and hurt the equatorial nations and to some degree coastal areas. Therefore, a perfectly valid approach is to simply help those countries pay for the damage when it occurs.

I don’t believe that you can pass a treaty and get countries to voluntarily restrict their own economic output. Self-interest is far too strong. The only way to stop them from burning fossil fuel to make fossil fuel uncompetitive by introducing cheaper alternatives.

I also believe, based on the standing ovation Hugo Chavez got for his anti-capitalist rant at Copenhagen yesterday, that this is more about leftists trying to control more of the economies of the world, and frankly I think they’d do more damage that global warming might do.

As a result, I hope nothing happens at Copenhagen, and the world instead turns towards increased emphasis on mitigation, renewable energy research, nuclear power, and other solutions that don’t involve world government bureaucracies managing our lives.

And the political theater continues. Scheduling a global warming summit in Mexico in July will have a lot better visuals than scheduling one in Copenhagen in the middle of winter.

Or show that the positive feedback mechanisms required (but not proven) for high levels of warming don’t exist. The science on these is still shaky, which is why the IPCC’s estimates have error bars so big that their predicted warming could range from 1.8 degrees to 6.4 degrees. 1.8 degrees is only slightly higher than the non-CO2 warming expected in the inter-glacial period.

Or come up with a cloud model that shows a negative feedback, since the current cloud models suck, and this is a very important factor.

Or show that the raw data was cherry-picked and massaged, and the original assumptions are wrong. (I’m not saying it was, but I think there is some scant evidence that it may have been to some degree).

Or just wait, and watch whether warming actually tracks the model predictions.

Or just wait for the price of fossil fuels to increase and the price of alternative energy sources decrease, and fossil fuels become uncompetitive and go away on their own.

Cite for this warming being expected? Both sun activity and warming from the earth’s orbit are not the main cause of the current warming.

I wonder where that is, because so far there is just evidence that it is positive:

Nope, you are still just listening to Rush and the Fox bloviators.

That may work, but I would like to see more pressure towards that goal and not just seeing the pressure that the fossil fuel lobbies are doing to many governments.

I thought Gregg Easterbrook had a pretty reasonable synopsis on the current state of climate change in his most recent column on ESPN (of all places). To summarize, he basically says that climate change is real, but probably not the most dire threat to humanity on the table right now. He notes that “Smog and acid rain turned out to be far cheaper to control than predicted; the same may happen with greenhouse gases.”

Here is the article, scroll down about 3/4 of the way to the section entitled “Heads of State Pause Their Limos at Their Personal Jets to Denounce Fossil Fuel Use:”

The rebuttals to Gregg Easterbrook have not been kind.

GIGObuster, you are conflating the water vapour greenhouse effect with albedo changes due to cloud cover, and they are two entirely different mechanisms.

The warming effect of CO[sub]2[/sub] is simple physics, but the sensistivity of the amount of radiation absorbed by CO[sub]2[/sub] to changes in the level of CO[sub]2[/sub] is relatively small. (A 50% increase in CO[sub]2[/sub] gives about a 1% increase in the radiation it absorbs.) The expected warming for a simple grey-body Earth model for a doubling of CO2 all on its own is 1.2 deg. C.

The rather larger IPCC predicted range of 1.5 to 4.5 deg. C increase for a CO[sub]2[/sub] doubling is based on the quite reasonable assumption that the CO[sub]2[/sub] greenhouse effect will be amplified by the water vapour greenhouse effect. And it has been confirmed by measurement that the overall humidity of the atmosphere rises with increasing temperatures (as you would expect, but the climate is an odd beast, and it was barely possible that circulation changes from increased temperature might have reduced the Earth’s average relative humidity of about 20%.)

This additional water vapour certainly increases the water vapour greenhouse effect, but it is invisible vapour we’re talking about, not clouds. The effects of clouds are a whole different matter, which aren’t captured very well by climate models, hence the factor-of-three variability in the IPCC figure. Measured fluctuations in cloud cover give decreases of about 0.5 W/m[sup]2[/sup] for 1% increases in cloud - increased clouds give cooling. (Note that this cite is Kevin Trenberth’s paper, linked to by Realclimate as an explanation of Trenberth’s “climategate” email stating it was a “travesty” that we can’t account for the lack of warming over the past six or seven years, so it gets your favourite cite’s seal of approval!) It’s also a pretty good summary read in general, showing where the science is at. Interestingly we still cannot measure “total energy in” and “total energy out” at the top of Earth’s atmosphere in absolute terms - estimated energy imbalance at the top of the atmosphere 2003-2005 was estimated to be 0.9 +/- 0.5 W/square metre - that’s a BIG uncertainty. And looking at figure 4, it doesn’t look like cloud cover is included at all, if I’m reading it right. (The “cloud albedo effect” refers to aerosols increasing the albedo of clouds and is not an estimate of the effect of natural cloud cover.)

I wish climate change would stop being used as the reason to switch to green technology. I can think of a lot more pressing reasons that are applicable in the present time, not something that may or may not happen in 2200.

Notice too that in the video I linked to it is explained that Trenberth was not hiding the issues he had, in the end he still supports the science. The ones claiming that he was privately discussing doubts missed the paper that he had published with his concerns (and he linked to it in the stolen e-mail!). His position was and is that the earth is warming but we are not doing a good job of accounting where the heat is going into the system, not that there is no unnatural heat.

But yes, you have a point about the water vapor and clouds. (However Sam did mention feedback, so I did think that he was referring to it). But I would not be so confident that clouds would be our saviors in this case.

The point is that the more greenhouse gases that we add, the warmer the world will get and the more time and money future generations would use to allow nature and technology to reduce the concentration of those gases.

A fair amount of people don’t believe this. So using it as the main reason to push green technology on them is pretty silly and counter productive IMO.

And even if it is true and they agree it’s true it’s still a questionable strategy – it’s not gonna happen for like 100 years. No one cares what happens in 100 years. Use other motivations that apply to the here and now, like national security, pollution, or their pocket book. Maybe mention getting free from Arab and Mexican oil. People eat that stuff up.

Re the OP - personally I think there is time, not to waste but to work out properly what is going on and how to fix it. Wer’re going to feel a bit stupid if we switch to nuclear and natural gas and it turns out the cooling sulphate aerosols from burning coal make it a warming-neutral fuel. (It’s barely possible - the uncertainties in the cooling effects of sulphate aerosols are BIG.) Or we plant a bunch of carbon-offsetting trees and their methane emissions offset the CO2 they absorb.

Time or not, if we’re serious as a species about ditching our fossil fuel habit, all this piddly little treaty signing isn’t going to achieve much. To stop using fossil fuels, we either have to dial right back our industrialised, mechanised, energy hungry economies, which isn’t going to happen, or make some fairly drastic changes in our infrastructure, which is going to take a hell of a lot more focus and work than what is being proposed. Politicians cruising around in limos watching presentations written by staffers doesn’t get a lot done.

All this bullshit about caps and tariffs, which will be tough even to monitor and tougher still to enforce, isn’t going to work. Who’s going to measure how much CO2 various countries are emitting? Who’s going to measure how much carbon they’re offsetting by planting trees? What standing army of technicians are going to install and callibrate sensors on the various international smokestacks? Any country can cheat SO easily - thumbs on the scales, bypasses on the meters. Are we going to have an international “greenhouse” CIA to spy on countries and check they haven’t surreptitously increased the lengths of their coal rail wagons by 10%? It all comes down to an effort to force the market to fix the problem - make energy expensive, especially high -carbon energy, and the market will develop alternatives and people will learn to conserve. Weak, unco-ordinated, slow way to do things.

What we need is an international effort on the scale of the Manhattan Project to develop the needed technologies fast, ship them out and get them in place. If we want to go nuclear, take the standardised French versions of the Pressurised Water Reactor, build a monster production facility for the reactor cores and ship them out al over the world. The rest is just industrial plumbing, steam turbines and poured concrete for redundant containment - anyone can build them. Set up an international school and teach everyone how to do it, and do it right.

I’m always been a fan of OTEC and ICETEC - solar power that uses the whole ocean as a collector, but you don’t have to build all over the ocean. (I’m delighted to see that a Google seach of “otec icetec” leads to my previous Straightdope posts on the subject as hits 3 and 4!) And the offshore energy companies are the VERY people to build the plants - they have the ships, the expertise, the divers, the ROVs, the people. But nobody wants to build the first big OTEC plant - it’ll take more energy to construct than it’ll generate over it’s lifetime, and it’ll never turn a profit. But building the first one is a giant learning exercise for building all the following ones, and governments need to stump up a big cash incentive, right now. Pay for the first one outright, or offer a prize for the first company to build a 100 MW plant, or guarantee a subsidised price for OTEC electricity.

Our industrialised nations employ thousands of talented scientists and excellent engineers, at high salaries and with HUGE budgets, to develop stealth bombers and kill drones and x-ray invisible grenade fragments. That is a hideous waste of all that expensively-educated brain power. Turn them over to something constructive! We could do it tomorrow. Our armies and navies and airforces are also full of engineers and technicians. Mothball half the death machines, change the uniforms, get them building solar power plants in the deserts. We could do it, but we won’t.

As I pointed out before, believing that it will go away by doing nothing is wishful thinking. (Not that you said it, buy I get the impression that you support what that “fair” amount of people are proposing)

Corporations and governments that lasted longer than that do.

Why do you assume those are not **also **mentioned?

So is mine, as it happens. I just don’t think we have as good a handle on how much of that heat is down to what humans have put into the atmosphere as we’d like to believe. The CO2 contribution alone is easy to calculate, the feedback effects aren’t so simple. For example, take a peek at this figure from Meehl’s 2004 paper.

It’s quite impressive - the model takes the effects of solar variation, ozone, greenhouse gases, volcanos and sulphates, adds them all up and “predicts” the whole 20th century temperature record. Not perfectly, but it apparently captures the dips in the 1900’s and the 1970s and the steep rise through the 30’s. Problem is, it didn’t predict a plateau decade after 2000, nor did any other models. A model that matches the past doesn’t mean that much, especially if you’re using the temperature record itself to calibrate it! And Trenberth’s paper basically admits that we probably have a net radiative imbalance right now but the temperature isn’t rising, and we don’t know where the energy is going, or why it wasn’t going into the same places in the 90’s. The models are far from perfect. Interesting times.

I think you’re reading more into my statement than was there, or perhaps you’re addressing Sam? I was simply pointing out that your cite re water vapour feedback was not directly relevant to his statement regarding clouds. Cloud feedback is a topic that is still being studied - earlier work by Lin also found a positive cloud feedback.

The cites I posted on the feedback and modelings are from this year.

Also the cloud citation came from this year, but wasn’t the Iris effect used to discredit the models and projections? That cite is against it.

So? I’m pointing out that older models failed to predict the current temperature plateau. I’m not interested in whether a model from this year includes the current temperature plateau unless it also predicts when it’s going to end, so we can test the model properly.

Um, yes? I was offering an earlier cite than yours for positive cloud feedback, just fyi. Did you just read the link title, see the word “iris” in it and assume I was arguing for negative cloud feedback? I even said Lin’s paper was about positive feedback in my post!

Potential Biases in Feedback Diagnosis from Observational Data: A Simple Model Demonstration, Journal of Climate, Feb 2008:


I don’t strongly disagree with most of what you have written in terms of the current uncertainties and such but I do think that the above statement is incorrect…or at least irrelevant. The current climate models predict trends over time periods long enough that the climate forcings rather than internal variability dominate the temperature change. The internal variability is more of an initial conditions problem, and it is well-understood that the system is very sensitive to initial conditions. (There is some recent work trying to predict trends on decadal scales, with some hope that this is possible since the timescales for variability in the oceans might be long enough to allow some predictability over periods of several years, but this work is still in its infancy.)

So, yes, the models did not predict exactly the trend over the last ~10 years…but the errorbars in such trends due to the internal variability component (not primarily due to any measurement limitations) are so large as to make such trends largely meaningless. And, while the models may not have predicted the particular trajectory that we are following, they do in fact predict that periods of 10…or even 15…years where a linear least squares gives essentially no trend or even a small negative trend are to be expected over some periods even in a system driven by steadily-increasing forcings due to greenhouse gases. See here.