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Topic Title: Cancun Big Freeze Special
Topic Summary: IET Magazine
Created On: 30 November 2010 11:49 AM
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 08 December 2010 03:26 PM
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rogerbryant

Posts: 854
Joined: 19 July 2002

"here's a link that can explain some of the evidence far better than I can, complete with links to the supporting published papers: "

There is a significant diference between published papers and peer reviewed papers and in both cases you have to look deeper to determine the credibility.

I have looked at the link and it is obviously written by ardent believers in man made climate change so I then traced down a couple of the references.

Ghosh 2003

http://www.bgc.mpg.de/service/...ations/PG_WB_IJMS.pdf

This is scientific paper looking at the problems of obtaining reliable histoical climate data to support climate modelling and ends with conclusion:

"Models require experimental
input of roughly equivalent quality and a high spatial
density which is difficult to get for the present
and impossible to provide for the past. For reducing
the uncertainty of our understanding of the Earth's
climate system, the puzzle needs more pieces."

In other words the climate models used are not accurate or certain.

Usoskin 2005

http://www.mps.mpg.de/dokument...onen/solanki/c153.pdf

This paper looks at solar output over more than 1000 years which includes the classic "Hockey stick" over the last 200 years.

The conclusion is interesting when quoted in full:

"The sunspot number index related to solar activity that
has been reconstructed from the cosmogenic ''Be isotope
data since AD 850 shows correlation with terrestrial northern
hemisphere and global temperature reconstructions at
a significance level above 95%. The major part of this correlation
is due to similar long-term trends ('hockey-stick
curve') in the data, but there is also a consistent (although
only marginally significant) correlation in the detrended
data, i.e., on centennial and intracentennial time scales.
This suggests that long-term climate variations are affected
by solar magnetic activity.
Note that the most recent warming, since around 1975,
has not been considered in the above correlations. During
these last 30 years the solar total irradiance, solar UV irradiance
and cosmic ray flux has not shown any significant
secular trend, so that at least this most recent warming
episode must have another source."

The last two sentences seem to have been tacked onto the end as they an afterthought, possibly as a sweetner to the manmade global warming believers as the rest of the paper seems to support solar output as the cause of the temperature increase in the last 200 years.

As I have said before don't just go with the dogma, look into some of the background data, do some research and then make up your own mind based on the evidence.

Best regards

Roger
 09 December 2010 10:48 AM
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roddalitz

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Joined: 19 April 2002

"respect" trolls? In a word, no. I have given sufficient time to trying to balance wild opinions. This thread was started by one well-known troll and continued by another. I have no indication that either has any qualification on climate science to respect. I am unwilling to let what I regard as wrong statements go by without comment, though I feel I am wasting my time, since there are uncounted millions of people need education, who are convinced their opinion is as valid as anyone else's. This is a failure of modern society - see "Suicide of the West" by Koch and Smith.

No-one has respect for anyone who believes the world is flat; no-one has respect for anyone who denies special relativity, or general relativity. Not everything is fully agreed about the Big Bang, though there is no doubt that there was one. There is room for doubt about super-symmetry, since it is only beautiful and self-consistent, but not experimentally supported. Apart from American fundamentalists, there is no doubt that evolution takes place, only some of the detailed mechanisms. There was a cloud of doubt about tobacco, mostly generated by the tobacco companies. There was doubt about CFCs and the ozone layer, which is now well-established. There is no serious doubt that global warming and climate change is happening, and there is no doubt that human activities add to whatever natural causes exist.

To suggest that climate change is a fraud perpetrated by big government is a Tea Party stance, and deserves no more respect than Sarah Palin's understanding of science and economy.

Is this an engineering forum or a "general science for laymen" forum? On another thread, there have been complaints that the IET fails to deliver a sufficiently professional magazine, instead delivering the "intelligent layman" E&T magazine. Perhaps some of those who complained might like to comment on this discussion?

-------------------------
regards, Rod Dalitz (CEng MIEE FInstP)
rod.dalitz@blueyonder.co.uk
 09 December 2010 11:43 AM
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StewartTaylor

Posts: 99
Joined: 18 January 2003

Rod,

I already did, and I'm with you all the way on this one.

-------------------------
Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away.
 09 December 2010 12:10 PM
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mike.mcclory

Posts: 30
Joined: 26 April 2006

A troll? That's a new one. I would consider myself opinionated, though I don't restrict myself to purely this subject. As far as the role of the forums, I believe that they should be more wide ranging than we presently hold them to be. Engineering has a much wider impact in our world and the influence of pure science (providing avenues for exploitation, as well as supporting the scientific studies) is one of the areas where theyaffect each other. But if we also ignore the politics and economics that affect our fields of endevour, then it is at our own risk.

The climate debate is probably the greatest challenge facing our world today. The effort (and cost) in space can be easily seen and explained. we can show the direct benefits that have come out of it (GPS, weather satellites, increased understanding of the universe and the solar system in particular). But how do we explain the risks, costs, and potential benefits and hazards associated with climate change?

That climate change is occurring is undeniable. Personally, I don't understand how people can say that throwing all of the CO2 into the atmosphere each year doesn't affect the climate. Frankly there's nothing we can do about the CO2 we've already put into the air, it's going to be there for millenia and I've yet to see any evidence that the grand geo-engineering schemes will be effective or practical. So that leaves us with engineering solutions to deal with sea-level rise and to minimise production of CO2 to give us breathing space to decide on next steps.

I don't believe that we should be restricting our lifestyles, we're engineers, it's our jobs to provide people with the resources to live the life they want. But that shouldn't stop us educating so that people make informed choices. Nor should it stop us acting in a professional and sensible manner.

Sorry, this seems rambling, I've just been noting down my feelings without structuring them. My point is that we cannot seperate engineering from science, economics and (god help us) politics. If we restrict ourselves to purely technical discussions then we'll see these forums continue to be a graveyard that hardly anyone frequents.
 09 December 2010 12:13 PM
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mike.mcclory

Posts: 30
Joined: 26 April 2006

It seems I may have been a little premature in saying taht orbital mechanics hardly effect climate. I should have said it's hardly affecting it at the moment. Here's a useful primer (though I have commented on an error with regards to the triple points of water and CO2):

http://www.brightstarstemecula...EarthOrbitClimate.html
 09 December 2010 01:03 PM
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amillar

Posts: 1918
Joined: 28 May 2002

Originally posted by: mike.mcclory
My point is that we cannot seperate engineering from science, economics and (god help us) politics. If we restrict ourselves to purely technical discussions then we'll see these forums continue to be a graveyard that hardly anyone frequents.


I would generally agree with that, as long as we understand our own limitations. So whereas an engineering discussion here might be expected to be carried out at an expert level, a discussion on the risks of bird 'flu (for example) is inevitably more at a bar stool pundit's level. And other discussions, maybe on abtruse areas of project management for example, might sit somewhere in the middle.

Where I get concerned about the above discussion is where it falls into the "I've read a paper on climate change so now I know as much as someone with a PhD and ten year's experience in the subject" role. When the discussion rests on "who do you trust?" it is instructive to turn this around and think "why should anyone trust me as a professional engineer?". We don't expect those outside the profession to understand the details of our individual expertise: what we have is a system of third party qualifications, professional registration, and in - for example - safety case work peer groups reviews. This shoudl then be open to scrutiny so that we can say "this is why you can trust me to rewire your house / design your aircraft flight systems / etc". For some reason many in the engineering profession struggle to accept that exactly the same process exists in science (and, indeed, all other professions). But then I suppose many in the engineering profession refuse to accept that other engineers are competent either...

Now, as voting members of the population it is perfectly reasonable to become alarmed if evidence of systematic bias becomes evident. Personally,most evidence I have seen on this on the climate change issue occured in the past and involved scientists being coerced into suppressing information demonstrating man-made climnate change: the fossil fuel companies were as unprofessional here on this issue as tobacco companies were in the past. The fact that even the oil companies (who stand to lose billions by it) now agree that this is a real issue should tell us something.

I don't think anyone has a working sociological solution to the basic problem yet. What happens when scientific research gives (to coin a phrase) "an inconvenient truth". Take speed cameras: there's is loads of evidence that they save lives, and they pay for themselves. But driving slower than you think you can is irritating, and not being trusted is irritating. So voters / taxpayers demand their removal: and in a liberal democratic society - in which I for one enjoy living - these demands have to be responded to.

So with climate change: it's really irritating having to change things, it's expensive, it means admitting that someone else knows more about a subject than you do, it appears to mean letting someone else tell you what to do, and there's no (apparently) immediate problem: it's generally a real pain in the backside, let's try and find a way that we can make it go away. (Bother: I start off saying that we shouldn't tread on other's areas of expertise and now I'm doing just that to psychologists.)

So an equally rambling post, the bottom line is that I am honest enough to admit that I can only begin to understand the science behind climate change, but I have tried to look as much as a layman can at the potential political (small p) biases and at present the scientific consensus comes out, to me, pretty well.

(Apologies as ever for appalling spelling and grammer due to posting in short lunchtime!)

-------------------------
Andy Millar CEng MIET CMgr MCMI

http://www.linkedin.com/in/millarandy

"The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress." Joseph Joubert
 10 December 2010 12:08 AM
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westonpa

Posts: 1771
Joined: 10 October 2007

Originally posted by: roddalitz

who are convinced their opinion is as valid as anyone else's.

It's called democracy.

This is a failure of modern society - see "Suicide of the West" by Koch and Smith.

Try to get out a bit more and cheer up.

No-one has respect for anyone who believes the world is flat; no-one has respect for anyone who denies special relativity, or general relativity.

So little respect.

Not everything is fully agreed about the Big Bang, though there is no doubt that there was one.
Someone does so like their absolute statements which are so easily disproved.
http://www.spacedaily.com/news/cosmology-02c.html

There is no serious doubt that global warming and climate change is happening, and there is no doubt that human activities add to whatever natural causes exist.
Humans are a product of nature and thus by default what humans do is also a natural cause.

To suggest that climate change is a fraud perpetrated by big government is a Tea Party stance, and deserves no more respect than Sarah Palin's understanding of science and economy.
If be honest I have not seen that suggested in this discussion....Nowt like a good cup of tea to start the day.

Is this an engineering forum or a "general science for laymen" forum?

The clue's in the title actually......'Feedback and Questions forum'.

On another thread, there have been complaints that the IET fails to deliver a sufficiently professional magazine, instead delivering the "intelligent layman" E&T magazine. Perhaps some of those who complained might like to comment on this discussion?

They may even get to read comments about the "Suicide of the West" and "the decline of the West is becoming scary"....and ask themselves if someone is not also applying the same negative bias to their comments about 'climate change'.

Regards.

Edited: 10 December 2010 at 12:42 AM by westonpa
 13 December 2010 12:30 AM
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Ipayyoursalary

Posts: 265
Joined: 21 November 2009

Originally posted by: mike.mcclory
The number of vineyards has grown from 46 recorded in the Domesday survey to over 400 now:

Thanks for the info Mike. Yes - in 1086 the UK population was only 1.5 million and farming was primitive. Today we have 62 million people and 100's of years of agricultural progress, hardy varieties, chemical fertilizers and another warm period - just like the Medieval one - except this time the warmth is entirely caused by man, right? The fact is - the Medieval Warm Period was just as warm as today. The number of vineyards is just one of many pieces of evidence. A huge variety of temperature proxies and historical documents confirm the Medieval Warm period. Despite numerous failed attempts by some scientists to erase it from history. Continued attempts to minimise the significance of the MWP only serve to raise suspicions about the motives of those involved. Their dilemma is clear: How can today's warmth be blamed on man when it was just as warm 800 years ago?

It's also worth looking at the MWP and modern warmth in the context of the longer ice core records as shown in this brilliant video

PS. I hope to reply to some of the other points raised when I get time.

Regards

PPS. Mike.McClory wrote: "Silly denialists"
Roddalitz wrote: "Trolls.. teabaggers.. uniformed views... "

I won't be dignifying these insults with a reply other than to ask a question: If the case for man-made global warming is so strong, why do you need to resort to personal insults? It's childish and won't win anyone round to your viewpoint.

Edited: 13 December 2010 at 12:56 AM by Ipayyoursalary
 13 December 2010 04:23 AM
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mike.mcclory

Posts: 30
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Congratulations in ably demonstrating the first and primary tool of a denialist, cherry picked, incorrect, and misrepenting quotes...

You said:

PPS Mike.McClory wrote: "Silly denialists"

What I actually wrote was:

"Lets not try and propagate the more silly denialist objections, especially ones so easily countered."

Which was in response to the use of wine production in the UK as a temperature indicator with the fallacy that grapes couldn't be grown north of York. Nothing to do with population, fertilizers, etc. So which of us is demonstarting an unprofessional approach to debate that is unlikely to garner support? As I pointed out earlier I have yet to see you comment on other technical issues on these fora, hence my reference to you as a 'one-trick pony', you only seem to post here to preach your point of view.

The MWP certainly existed, but there is conflicting evidence that it was global in nature and present day temperatures are highly likely to be greater today than they were then.
 13 December 2010 01:39 PM
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Ipayyoursalary

Posts: 265
Joined: 21 November 2009

There you go again with the insults. As I said - it's childish and won't win anyone round to your viewpoint.

Re Vineyards. You seem to have missed my point: Having 46 recorded vineyards in 1086 - considering the scarce population and primitive farming - does indeed indicate the UK climate was just as warm then as now - if not warmer.

Regarding 'conflicting evidence' for the MWP. The conflict stems entirely from recent work by Michael Mann who's Hockey Stick graphs purport to show temperatures flat for 1500 years, only spiking up after 1975; Flying in the face of the majority of scientific and historical evidence of past temperature variations - but accepted uncritically by climate scientists as an excellent solution to "the MWP problem".

However, thanks to the diligent work of Steve McIntyre the Hockey Stick graphs have now been thoroughly discredited - as the product of dodgy statistical methods which mine hockey sticks from tree ring data - placing undue emphasis on a small number of bristle cone pine trees, which are prone to growth spurts associated with their strip bark behaviour.

An excellent and highly readable book on the subject is "The Hockey Stick Illusion" by A.W Montford.

PS. I'd also like to debate some of your other points when I get time.

Regards
 13 December 2010 02:10 PM
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roddalitz

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I see no insult. mike.mclory seems a sensible person.

I would suggest that with 900 posts westonpa should take his own advice, "Try to get out a bit more and cheer up."

Can we give this subject a rest now, please?

-------------------------
regards, Rod Dalitz (CEng MIEE FInstP)
rod.dalitz@blueyonder.co.uk
 13 December 2010 04:22 PM
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Ipayyoursalary

Posts: 265
Joined: 21 November 2009

Originally posted by: roddalitz
Can we give this subject a rest now, please?

Nope, because our government is spending £20Bn pa of our taxes on "fighting climate change", imposing suicidal 80% cuts on CO2 emissions (=economic activity) - via the 2008 Climate Change act - passed with only five MPs dissenting in what Peter Lilley described as "a wave of self-righteous euphoria", without any prior cost-benefit analysis.

Secondly, because without member consultation, the IET board have thrown their weight 100% behind this huge waste of money, forcing long standing members like myself to give up their membership in protest.

In the long term, I believe the IET's support for catastrophic man-made global warming alarmism and climate profiteering will do immense damage to the good reputation of the Institution - once the general public becomes aware of the huge costs, the non-existent scientific case for alarm, and the extent to which vested interests are profiting from this giant scam.
 13 December 2010 04:58 PM
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Ipayyoursalary

Posts: 265
Joined: 21 November 2009

Originally posted by: mike.mcclory
...He's convieniently missed the stories about how NOAA and GISS have rated 2010 as the warmest year ever. HadCRUT has it rated joinly with 1998, but HadCRUT ignores polar temperatures, making it consistantly lower than GISS.


As you know 2010 was an El Nino year like 1998 - in which natural oscillations of the Pacific Ocean create a short-term spike in temperatures - completely unrelated to climate change.

Nevertheless, GISS is the only one of the 'big 4' global temperature sets which has 2010 as the warmest year. This is because GISS extrapolates temperatures across huge swathes of the Arctic where they have no actual measurements.

Hadcrut still have 1998 as the warmest year - despite a recent press release by the Met Office's Vicky Pope saying they were working on the problem - and hoped to 'correct' their data to cool off 1998 so they could declare 2010 the hottest year to advance their political agenda.
 15 December 2010 04:44 PM
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amillar

Posts: 1918
Joined: 28 May 2002

Originally posted by: roddalitz
I would suggest that with 900 posts westonpa should take his own advice, "Try to get out a bit more and cheer up."

Oh, it's perfectly possible to have a rather large number of posts and still get out! (Posted from a balcony overlooking a very nice and cheerful square in Madrid...)

-------------------------
Andy Millar CEng MIET CMgr MCMI

http://www.linkedin.com/in/millarandy

"The aim of argument, or of discussion, should not be victory, but progress." Joseph Joubert
 15 December 2010 05:32 PM
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roddalitz

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westonpa demonstrated such a gross misunderstanding of energy: "nearest approach by both Jupiter, Uranus and Venus that is causing the minimization of potential energy and maximization of kinetic or heat energy" that his post is "not even wrong."

Let us keep this simple.

Perhaps Ipayyoursalary could tell me (without resorting to words like "idiotic") which propositions you disagree with:
- do you accept that the transparency of different gases as different wavelengths results in a greenhouse effect, whereby the ratio of absorption of solar energy and radiation of longer-wavelength energy into space, is changed?
- do you accept that this greenhouse effect will result in a higher average global temperature, with more CO2 in the atmosphere?
- do you accept that burning hundreds of millions of tons of coal, oil, and gas will result in more CO2 in the atmosphere?
- do you accept that higher temperatures and more evaporation and condensation will result in more energy in the atmosphere, and more violent weather?
- do you accept that higher temperatures result in widespread melting ice and glaciers?
- do you accept that, whether or not there is an additional natural source of CO2 and temperature variation, that the scenario of rising sea levels and extreme weather is bad for most of mankind?
- do you agree that in the absence of perfect data that it would be prudent to minimise human addition of CO2?

Finally, what is your motive in your persistent posting? What industry do you work in? What region of the world do you work in? And who do you expect to influence?

-------------------------
regards, Rod Dalitz (CEng MIEE FInstP)
rod.dalitz@blueyonder.co.uk
 16 December 2010 01:05 PM
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rossall

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This is an important debate but please, to remain in line with the conditions of use of these forums, restrict discussions to the issues, and avoid personal comments on other participants.

-------------------------
David Rossall
The Institution of Engineering and Technology
 16 December 2010 02:46 PM
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westonpa

Posts: 1771
Joined: 10 October 2007

Actually the real problem is that the politicians know that the increasing world population means that more people will want to enjoy a better standard of living and thus will require more energy than they currently use. As we do not currently have the means to generate and or get reliable supplies for all that is required they know the only solution is to get the people who use a lot to use less so that others who use little can use more, i.e., spread what we can currently generate around a bit. No politician wants to admit to their failings to plan ahead and build enough facilites to generate the energy required. Years ago it was no problem because we would just start a war and take what we wanted and leave the 'losers' with nothing by comparison. So it's easy for the politicians to use the 'global warming' argument to get people to use less energy and thus grants go in the correct direction to ensure those who say the right things get to say it more and also louder.

At some time oil and gas will run out and so it is sensible to develop renewable alternatives at a reasonable cost and also we should recycle, reuse and reduce because it makes good sense to not waste that which we do not have to. This also allows for the precautionary approach which will also address some of the issues just in case the 'global warming' argument was correct. However the real issue is that the only way we will ever know that it is correct is if we do nothing and in 100 years everything is messed up and it's then too late anyway because otherwise it will not happen and it could not then be proven that it would have otherwise happened.

I remain unconvinced by the data which suggests that the world will warm by the amounts stated and that humans have made any significant difference to it however I am happy to follow the precautionary approach, but not at any cost and/or without critically analysing it.

Regards.

Edited: 16 December 2010 at 02:59 PM by westonpa
 17 December 2010 08:34 PM
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Ipayyoursalary

Posts: 265
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Originally posted by: roddalitz
Ipayyoursalary could tell me which propositions you disagree with:

Yes - always happy to help:

Do you accept that the transparency of different gases at different wavelengths results in a greenhouse effect, whereby the ratio of absorption of solar energy and radiation of longer-wavelength energy into space, is changed?

Yes. But two things to note:
1) The effect of H2O massively outweighs the effect of CO2. Water is the key greenhouse gas.
2) As the concentration of a particular GHG increases, the absorption wavelengths become saturated - so each doubling of a particular GHG produces less and less effect. According to the IPPC report, on its own, a doubling of CO2 from the current levels would lead to a 1oC rise in temperature. Claims of greater rises are based on unsupported speculation about positive feedback effects. As any engineer knows - in natural systems negative feedbacks dominate.

- do you accept that this greenhouse effect will result in a higher average global temperature, with more CO2 in the atmosphere?

No - since the atmosphere is a complex non-linear system with many negative feedbacks. eg. Increased temps -> more evaporation -> more clouds & rain -> cooler. Also any GHG effect may be swamped by other natural phenomena - eg. Sun cycles -> solar wind -> effect on cosmic rays -> effect on clouds. It's worth remembering that a 3% change in global cloud cover is enough to account for all the warming seen last century.

- do you accept that burning hundreds of millions of tons of coal, oil, and gas will result in more CO2 in the atmosphere?

Yes. But it's important to put the figures in perspective: Our atmosphere weighs about 5 million gigatons - 0.039% of it is CO2. Natural sources emit about 770 gigatons of CO2 every year. (Rotting vegetation, oceans etc). Plants absorb about 440 Gt pa by photosynthesis. Man's emissions of 50Gt pa account for only 6% of total CO2 emissions. The level of CO2 is rising at 0.0002% per year.

While there's no evidence of a link between increased CO2 and bad weather, increased CO2 is most certainly partly responsible for the greening of the Sahael and record vegetation growth rates.

- do you accept that higher temperatures and more evaporation and condensation will result in more energy in the atmosphere, and more violent weather?

No. Firstly there is no evidence to support claims that violent weather has increased.
Paper after paper has found no link between storm damages and warming.
And tropical cyclones are at an all-time low right now.

One of the main causes of 'violent weather' is believed to be the turbulence caused by the temperature difference between the poles and equator. As the globe warms these differences lessen which might well lead to calmer weather.

- do you accept that higher temperatures result in widespread melting ice and glaciers?

Ice and glaciers have been melting since the last ice age ended 15,000 years ago. The types of short term fluctuations we've seen over the last century aren't going to have much effect on that trend until the next ice age arrives.

- do you accept that, whether or not there is an additional natural source of CO2 and temperature variation, that the scenario of rising sea levels and extreme weather is bad for most of mankind?

Sea levels are rising at between 2-3mm per year - and have been for thousands of years. I contend this is absolutely nothing to worry about. It's well within man's ingenuity to adapt to such a glacial rate of increase - as we have been doing for 1000's of years.

As for extreme weather - an interesting point to note here: The ability of a society to cope with natural disasters is directly proportional to their wealth. Compare the impact of the earthquakes on Haiti and New Zealand this year - both magnitude 7.0 quakes:

+ Haiti = 230,000 dead.

+ New Zealand = 0 dead

The best way to ensure resilience against future climate change, whether natural or man-made, is to encourage rapid economic development of poor countries. This requires cheap energy.

- do you agree that in the absence of perfect data that it would be prudent to minimise human addition of CO2?

No. Cheap energy from fossil-fuels is essential for the economic growth and development necessary to alleviate poverty and starvation. 1.4 billion people lack access to electricity and 3 billion rely on unventilated, inefficient charcoal, and dung cooking stoves. To limit the supply of cheap energy would be a humanitarian disaster - condemning millions to a short life of starvation and hardship.

Based on the answers I've given above, I see no rational reason to limit the use of fossil fuels. It is not 'prudent' to cripple our economies on the basis of unsupported, irrational, irresponsible scaremongering by a vocal minority.

I hope that helps you understand my position. Apologies for the long post.

Best Regards

Edited: 20 December 2010 at 04:34 AM by Ipayyoursalary
 20 December 2010 11:45 AM
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roddalitz

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Originally posted by: Ipayyoursalary

Yes. But two things to note:

1) The effect of H2O massively outweighs the effect of CO2. Water is the key greenhouse gas.

2) As the concentration of a particular GHG increases, the absorption wavelengths become saturated - so each doubling of a particular GHG produces less and less effect. According to the IPPC report, on its own, a doubling of CO2 from the current levels would lead to a 1oC rise in temperature. Claims of greater rises are based on unsupported speculation about positive feedback effects. As any engineer knows - in natural systems negative feedbacks dominate.


Not always. For example, if H2O is a key greenhouse gas, then since there is a huge reservoir of H2O in the oceans, as the earth warms there will be much more H2O in the atmosphere. That is a positive feedback.

Another positive feedback example is a geyser or volcano, where the reduced pressure due to bubbles causes more bubbles and then eruption. Although foxes might be a negative feedback on the rabbit population, the population dynamics is not stable but fluctuates, just like plagues of locusts.

My body has a very good negative feedback temperature regulation mechanism, but positive feedback messes up my hands in winter - when they get a bit cold, the circulation shuts down and they get very cold and do not warm up until my whole body is warm. When the limb of a tree is laden with snow, a few fibres break, and the load spread over a smaller area or fewer fibres causes the whole limb to break - positive feedback.

These simple examples demonstrate that there is a lot of positive feedback in nature.

... - since the atmosphere is a complex non-linear system with many negative feedbacks. eg. Increased temps -> more evaporation -> more clouds & rain -> cooler.


But you just pointed out that H2O is a "key" greenhouse gas, which means more evaporation > more water vapour > higher temperature.

You missed out the unknown extent to which the oceans provide a buffer for CO2, which is why I wrote simply "more." Similarly negative feedback gives just some amount "more." Positive feedback may give "lots" for an unknown critical value, which you really didn't want to find out by experiment.

... in perspective: Natural sources emit about 770 Gigatons of CO2 every year. (Rotting vegetation, oceans etc). Plants absorb about 440 Gt pa by photosynthesis. Man's emissions of 50Gt pa account for only 6% of total emissions.


... and rising. By the way, rotting vegetation only balances all the CO2 which went into growing that vegetation a short time previously - quite different from ancient coal coming back into the biosphere.

Ice and glaciers have been melting since the last ice age ended 15,000 years ago. The types of short term fluctuations we've seen over the last century aren't going to have much effect on that trend until the next ice age arrives.


You are begging the question, making the assumption that there will be no effect and taking it for granted that there will be another ice age "soon."

The fact that there have been many ice ages supports the idea of positive feedback instability, or at any rate a magnified response to driving forces.

The ability of a society to cope with natural disasters is directly proportional to their wealth. Compare the impact of the earthquakes on Haiti and New Zealand this year - both magnitude 7.0 quakes:

+ Haiti = 230,000 dead.
+ New Zealand = 0

The best way to ensure resilience against future climate change, whether natural or man-made, is to encourage rapid economic development of poor countries. This requires cheap energy.


I can add the Turkish earthquake with a huge number of deaths compared to the San Francisco earthquake of a similar period with I think 7 deaths and one freeway collapse. However this has a lot more to do with building standards, politics, and perhaps corruption than simply wealth. The middle scale of badly constructed concrete building is the most deadly, whereas single-story hovels are not too dangerous when they do collapse.

From my reading, for example Jared Diamond "Collapse," the difference between Haiti and the Dominican Republic next door is huge, nothing to do with natural factors. Meanwhile countries like Zambia have gone a long way downhill since independence, in spite of science and technology, and nothing to do with energy. Third-world poverty has been largely unaffected by Western aid, hydro power, or science in general. That is another topic.

... Cheap energy from fossil-fuels is essential for economic growth and development ... To limit the supply of cheap energy would be a humanitarian disaster - condemning millions to a short life of starvation and hardship.


Energy is important, but why limit the scope to fossil fuels?

... unsupported, irrational, irresponsible scaremongering by a vocal minority.


Worse is the unsupported irrational irresponsible denial of legitimate science by a vocal minority.

It looks as though the world may have passed Peak Oil, and in the UK coal production has almost shut down. There is a lot of coal remaining in the world, but if we are to provide energy to developing countries by investing in new plant, we should be able to choose from many technologies, not just copy old approaches from last century.

Personally I reckon the best way forward is a combination of solar power producing heat or electricity and GM algae producing oil substitutes which feed into the existing supply chain.

You never answered: What industry do you work in? What region of the world do you work in? And who do you expect to influence?


More generally, I am puzzled why many people prefer the non-peer-reviewed words of dodgy bog websites to the voice of world science. It is true that some angles of science are not as solidly researched as say high-energy physics, and yet we are a very long way from social sciences and politics, where firmly held opinions can triumph over evidence-supported analysis.

I do not pretend to be a climate expert, I am very general-purpose with specialisation in electronic design. However I believe my background allows me to make some level of judgement on what the experts - and pseudo-scientists - tell me.

I repeat, I do not think this forum is a good place for this kind of discussion.

Happy Christmas ...

-------------------------
regards, Rod Dalitz (CEng MIEE FInstP)
rod.dalitz@blueyonder.co.uk
 20 December 2010 04:38 PM
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Ipayyoursalary

Posts: 265
Joined: 21 November 2009

Thanks for the reply Rod. Some good points. As I understand it H2O acts as a warming greenhouse gas in the vapor state and as high cloud. But as low clouds it acts as a cooling sun-shade - reflecting heat back up into space. So the net effect is a hotly debated topic at the moment.

Originally posted by: westonpa
Actually the real problem is that the politicians know that the increasing world population means..... they know the only solution is to get the people.. to use less...

Hang on. Politicians aren't wise and all-knowing custodians of Earth's resources. I'm afraid politicians are interested in one thing and one thing only : Power. And they'll say whatever they think will get them elected. They've latched onto "fighting climate change" because they think it makes them look caring and far-sighted.

For politicians it's always preferable to fight an exaggerated problem way-off in the future. Who wants to fix real problems in the here and now? Real problems require real solutions, and people have a nasty habit of expecting results and judging you on them. Far better to fight a distant demon - especially when there's no way the claimed benefits can ever be measured.

"Fighting climate change" is a dream come true for politicians. It's the oldest one in the book: from the Aztecs to the Salem Witch Trials. Corrupt authorities have always used weather scaremongering to control and tax the gullible populace.

This also allows for the precautionary approach which will also address some of the issues just in case the 'global warming' argument was correct.... I am happy to follow the precautionary approach, but not at any cost and/or without critically analysing it.

There are always a large number of unlikely but possible catastrophies just waiting to happen: Flu pandemics, nuclear terrorism, asteroid collision, the onset of a new ice-age. While we should always monitor risks, due to limited resources we can't spend infinite amounts of money guarding against each and every possible eventuality. If we did there'd be no money left to spend on the here and now: Health, education, welfare, and leisure. So spending needs to be guided by a rational assessment of probabilities and by a careful cost-benefit analysis of any actions.

Remember all spending has an "opportunity cost":

For every £ wasted on windmills or researching the effect of climate change on the lesser spotted frog - a cure for cancer or MS is delayed due to lack of research funding.

For every 'low carbon' subsidy added to energy bills, another pensioner dies from the cold and another Brit loses their job to an overseas competitor.

In the midst of one of the coldest winters on record, in one of the deepest recessions, our politicians are spending £20Bn each year trying to make the weather a few tenth's of a degree colder next century. It beggars belief.

Happy Christmas everyone!
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