On Global Warming

Over on another site, there is an intresting discussion raging about Global Warming. Just thought that I would cross post my first response over here.

Let’s just stick to facts:

Over the last century the average temperature has climbed about 1 degree Fahrenheit (0.6 of a degree Celsius) around the world.

(National Geographic.)

That’s from 2004. A lot has happened since then.

So, now we have proven, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that global warming exists, is happening, is real.

The debate seems to be over two other points – 1) Do we have a global effect? and 2) What is it going to cause?

Let’s start with the last one… and go to the most extreme real world example we have.

Look at Venus. That is the classic example of runaway global warming – and some think that is where we are headed. Are we? Who knows. I don’t. However it is possible that we could end up with a Venus on our hands.

If you look at the theory about the gasses trapped in the permafrost, add in some basic albedo calculations, factoring the loss of ice (highly reflective to heat), the Earth just might become a pressure cooker.

Will it? There is a chance. What is that chance? I dunno. Should we try and do something to stop it? I believe that we should. Should the government do it? That is an entire other question, but suffice it to say, since they are taking our taxes, I would rather see that money spend on alternative fuels/energy research then some of the other silly pork barrel projects that are running amok.

Current theories believe that Venus might have been earth like at one time, however due to several factors, dumped all of it’s Carbon and H20 into it’s atmosphere in a horrific version of global warming.

So, with that in mind, do we contribute to the effects? Yes, with out a doubt we do.

World carbon dioxide emissions continue to increase steadily in the IEO2006 reference case, from 25.0 billion metric tons in 2003 to 33.7 billion metric tons in 2015 and 43.7 billion metric tons in 2030. Carbon dioxide is one of the most prevalent greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, and anthropogenic (human-caused) emissions of carbon dioxide result primarily from the combustion of fossil fuels for energy.

(US DOE report, International Energy Outlook 2006)

I ask one simple question: How can 20 – 30 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide not have some effect?

Take, for example Volcanos…

On the Big Island, we have a significant natural source of greenhouse gas. Kilauea volcano emits more than 700,000 tons of CO2 each year, less than 0.01% of the yearly global contribution by human sources

(US Geological Survey)

And, that’s in 1998. Almost 10 years later, the anthropogenic emissions have steadily risen. Do we have an effect? You bet.

Is all of this correct? Possibly: that’s why they are called theories and not laws. A theory is a working set of assumptions on how something works. When a theory breaks because of new evidence or what ever, you either change the theory or discard it and start anew. That’s what science is, folks. Science is not about faith – it’s about proof and skepticism. It is grounded in empirical reality.

4 thoughts on “On Global Warming”

  1. <blockquote>"I ask one simple question: How can 20 , 30 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide not have some effect?"</blockquote>

    Well, try thinking of it in these terms. 30 billion metric mm of water wouldn’t have that big an effect on the ocean. The atmosphere is MASSIVE, going nearly 70 miles up into space and covering the entire planet (unlike the seas which only go about a mile or so down – deeper in parts but not much). The atmosphere is of course less dense than the ocean, but it’s just an analogy.

    And I’d rather instead of the Government trying to fix something they have no control over simply give me back my taxes since they’re doing a piss poor job of managing the cash themselves.

    Seriously, if there is ANY way to make a cheaper energy source that was profitable it will get done on it’s own. Until then, we can pass all the laws we want but nobody is going to give up their lifestyle (especially the Goracle!), they’re going to force you to give up yours.

    Besides, if GW continues (and I seriously doubt it will) the Earth simply gets warmer and we evolve. If we don’t evolve correctly, we die off. That’s the course of nature in which we are totally a slave to.,

  2. I don’t entirely disagree with that, however I will point out that fossil fuels are very concentrated and very cheap energy. Perhaps we can develop something that will compete, but from what I can tell we don’t have anything that is the equal of fossil fuels yet. In the meantime, cheap energy is directly related to increased quality of life and their are very real costs, costs that are born disproportiately by the poorest amoung us, of making energy more expensive.

    Making a rational, realistic balance is more complex then what you present, and while we could theoretically abandon all use of fossil fuels tomorrow, it would almost certainly result in more suffering then the global warming would.

    And of course, the single biggest anthropomorphic warming effect is probably methane from livestock rather then CO2 from cars anyway. That gets ignored probably because it doesn’t ‘fit’ well with the anti-technology religion that many advocates of extreme measures to deal with global warming embrace.

  3. True…

    <blockquote>There are three competing theories here.

    1) Global Warming is going to destroy the earth tomorrow.
    2) Global Warming will have some effect, what we do not know
    3) Humans cannot effect the earth. We are too puny.

    From a risk analysis perspective, it would be prudent to assume that the truth is between 1 and 2, and take some actions.

    After all, if it is true – and we assume that it’s not, we are screwed. If it’s not true, and we assume that it is, we get cleaner vehicles and no dependency on oil.

    Unless you make your money from Oil, that seems pretty cut and dry to me.</blockquote>

    –<a href="http://www.nwgamers.org/ForumsPro/viewtopic/t=1284/finish=15/start=15.html">Me</a&gt; (with apologies to the apologists out there – Remember, religion is not insurance!)

  4. There are a few other ‘facts’ that you are missing though.

    One is, when looking into space we can look not just at Venus, but at Mars, which is currently experiencing a warming trend as well, with polar ice reductions. Unless we think that Pathfinder is the cause of this, it is unlikely to be anthropogenic.

    Another fact is that the Earth’s climate has been variable throughout history. It has been both warmer and cooler then it is now.

    While I would agree that ‘without a doubt’ we have an effect on the Earth’s, I think that their is a great deal of doubt as to how much of an effect we have and what precisely all of those effects are and how they inter-relate. Butterfly’s ‘without a doubt’ have effects on hurricane’s, but that doesn’t mean that they cause them, or that killing all the butterflys would end the hurricanes.

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