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Topic Title: Environmental effects: It's our doing
Topic Summary: Human activity is the dominant cause of global warming observed since the 1950s
Created On: 09 October 2013 08:32 AM
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 09 October 2013 08:32 AM
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kingsmith

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Joined: 09 October 2013

"Because the rates of emissions are growing, it looks like we could burn through the other half in the next 25 years" under one of the more dire scenarios outlined in the report.

Other scenarios show that the threshold will be reached later this century. The finding constitutes a warning to governments to cut emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, which is generated by the burning of fossil fuels, industrial activity and deforestation.

Calling climate change "the greatest challenge of our time," panel co-chair Thomas Stocker said humankind's fate in the next 100 years "depends crucially on how much carbon dioxide will be emitted in the future".

In the report, the panel said it is 95% certain that human activity is the dominant cause of the global warming observed since the 1950s. That is up from 90% six years ago.

"Human influence has been detected in warming of the atmosphere and the ocean, in changes in the global water cycle, in reductions in snow and ice, in global mean sea level rise, and in changes in some climate extremes," the report said.

The report is the panel's fifth major assessment since 1990. It reaffirms many of the conclusions of past reports, but with greater confidence.

"The atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amounts of snow and ice have diminished, sea level has risen and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased," the panel wrote in a 36-page summary of its findings.

More info:
crowncapitalmagement.over-blog.com/environmental-effects-it-s-our-doing

Edited: 09 October 2013 at 08:41 AM by kingsmith
 09 October 2013 11:43 AM
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jarathoon

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In Engineering and Science confidence limits are normally used to describe the precision of the results obtained, by making a statistical assessment of the errors and how they are distributed.

People without a science and engineering education often confuse accuracy with precision; systematic error with random error.

The 95% confidence limits reflect the broad distribution of results coming out of climate models, together with some allowance for the random error; the measurement uncertainties in the data.

What comes across in the media is these confidence limits give an indication that the accuracy of the climate models has increased over the last six years (meaning the systematic errors having decreased).

For the low frequency (larger scale and longer term) components (both spatial and temporal) making an assessment of accuracy is very hard indeed, especially for such a complex system as the earth's climate. The systematic errors may well have decreased, but how can we be sure without more data.

For the higher frequency components both spatial and temporal(smaller scale and shorter term; regional scale or lower and 20 year timescales and lower) everyone can see quite clearly that there are large systematic errors arising in the climate modelling outputs, and that these seem to have got larger in the last decade.

- I accept we have a problem in terms of CO2 integrating up in the atmosphere.
- I accept we have serious problems in terms of pollution emitted particularly from coal burning power stations and dense traffic in inner cities.
- I accept that fossil fuels such as gas and oil are gradually going to become more expensive, and the fact that there is no ceiling to how expensive they can become if demand for fossil fuelled power world wide exceeds the instantaneous rate at which the fossil fuels can be extracted from the ground and processed.
- I accept that if energy gets too expensive for poorer citizens, people out of desperation will illegally cut down trees to keep warm, in the process trashing the local environment.

Having accepted all this I don't accept that we need to run around like headless chickens, predicting catastrophe, panicking at the predictions and then spending money in knee-jerk and extremely wasteful ways that have little or no long term effect in addressing the underlying problems.

- Many scientists, engineers and economists are calmly working hard to identify the problems and the potential solutions. I support them in this this effort.

- Most engineers and economists realise that technological innovation is required to solve potential problems already identified in sustainable and cost effective ways, but no one quite agrees on the ideal portfolio of investment needed for the future. (The developmental timescales for innovation are long and the risks are great, which makes much of the private sector wary of investing. However both governments and pension fund investors are both motivated to find new ways of maintaining long term and healthy income streams.)

- Many engineers claim they have the necessary training and skills to find the solutions long term, given the right balance of investment for the future. However, as yet, none of the available or potential technological solutions are ready for the mainstream, without significant subsidy to support their roll-out (Wind, Tidal, Nuclear etc).

Taking all this on board I find that the only really immediate, urgent and vital problem to solve is not primarily scientific, engineering or economic in nature.

What we really need to decide is the sort of political system we want to have in place so we can solve these environmental and energy related problems in a fair, cost-effective and transparent manner:

- Do we want a top down authoritarian political system that effectively relies on a group of elite stewards to design and create 5 year plans that can be implemented by a large and powerful central government (Soviet Era Style),

- Do we want a bottom-up system based on free market economics, with a small weak central government (like the Tea-Party seems to want in America),

- Or do we want a mixed system where bottom-up thinking drives innovation in tandem with fair competition for top-down research and development resources that are publicly funded. In the mixed system where bottom-up thinking drives innovation we have to recognise that it is the wide bottom that holds all the expertise and knowledge in society, not a narrow top of self aggrandising band of elite stewards, academics and consultants.

I think we may just end up with a Hobson's choice at the next general election: a choice between Ed Miliband's brand of socialism and David Cameron's brand of crony capitalism [the new energy bill it appears can be used as a tool to promote either political agenda; to bankrupt and nationalise the existing energy companies (socialism) or to sustain lazy and risk adverse business models using public cash (crony capitalism)].

James Arathoon


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James Arathoon
 09 October 2013 09:04 PM
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westonpa

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Originally posted by: kingsmith
Calling climate change "the greatest challenge of our time," panel co-chair Thomas Stocker said humankind's fate in the next 100 years "depends crucially on how much carbon dioxide will be emitted in the future".


Of course it does not depend on food supplies, population, world peace, having a proper defence against the rocks spinning around in space, protection against new viruses, etc., nope it all depends upon CO2. I see plenty being done in the EU to reduce CO2 and plenty more being worked on to improve the future and so do not see Climate Change causing humankinds destruction.

It's not the greatest challenge of our time, it's just a challenge which needs to be worked upon in a reasonable level headed way.

I am all for the worst polluting countries to do a bit better and if the IPCC can achieve that then all well and good.

Regards.
 14 October 2013 10:51 PM
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aanderson

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A scientist/engineer has to look at the facts and try to put aside any other considerations. The scientific method has to be adhered to. Put forward your theory and open it up for the peer review process when it can , with scientific fact and argument be refuted, amended or approved.
The report I assume being referred to is that from the IPCC which claims they are now 95% certain global warming is being caused by increasing CO2 from human activity.
However, bear this in mind. The IPCC is portrayed to the media as a genuinely scientific body. It was set up in 1988 by a small group of scientists who were already convinced that rising CO2 levels were the the prime factor in global temperature rise. Since then its five major reports have been shaped by a small, close knit group of scientists, all dedicated to the same cause. They are not an objective scientific body. They are more like a political pressure group.
On hearing of the recent IPCC report Prof Seitz, a former president of the US National Acedemy of Science protested that never in 60 years as a scientist had he "witnessed a more disturbing corruption of the peer review process".
No mention was made in the report that over the last 15 years global temperatures have notably failed to rise as the IPCC's computer predicted.
 15 October 2013 08:18 AM
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Zuiko

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Weston,
A changing climate will stress water and food supply and access, increase land and resources disputes and environmental depletion- it has the potential and actuality to impact all the things you mention; save being struck by an asteroid.

What many choose to ignore is that although climate has change dramatically in the past; and the world has kept spinning; modern human civilisation started and grew in very stable conditions, and the stability of civilisation demands a stable environment.
 15 October 2013 12:04 PM
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westonpa

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Good points Zuiko.

Did climate change cause WW1 or WW2 or have something to do with the 2 Nuclear bombs dropped on Japan? Did climate change cause what has happened in Iraq, Afganistan, Libya, Egypt etc? With all these so called terrorists and killings and wars going on around the world do we consider that to be a stable environment?The 'environment' is more than just the weather and what contributes to it is more than just CO2 and therefore climate change is an important challenge but it is not the greatest challenge facing humanity. I would suggest that overcoming our own human 'weaknesses' is the greatest challenge facing humanity.

Modern civilisation will change and adapt as it always has thus far and climate change will not wipe out the human population in its entirety. Of course weather patterns will cause deaths, but let's be honest we kill far more of each other deliberately each and every year than does the weather.

Regards.
 15 October 2013 04:10 PM
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Zuiko

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The facetious comments about WW2 (well done on invoking Godwin's Law so early) and nuclear bombs show that you deliberately miss the point, and rely on fallacy.


However, I salute your ability as a soothsayer to be able to predict not only the future of humanity, but what will the greatest challenges faced.
 15 October 2013 09:54 PM
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westonpa

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Seems like acknowledging someones good points and offering a beer out of respect does not really work for them. In addition, it's the writer who decides if their comments are 'facetious' or not and I do not really see WW1&2 as humorous. My point was that we humans seem to have an issue which has been prevalent throughout our history and which overall has not been caused by climate change. I 'suggest', which does not translate into 'predict', that is the greater challenge facing us. I have not however said that climate change is not an important challenge.

Now of course 'climate change' will have an impact on all other things and I really do not think anyone is going to disagree with that point. However, I 'suggest' that the risk has been identified and a lot of effort is being targeted to address it and if we look back on history we seem to reasonably good at finding solutions. Therefore I conclude future technological advances will address the risk such that it does not cause any major issue for human civilisations, in our time....not necessarily for all time. But we do not seem to be too good at the stopping of the killing each other or else wanting too and if that is not solved then sooner or later, and as people are asked to live ever closer to each other, there is a risk that will cause far greater issues for our civilisations.

In addition, if the climate change thus far is all our doing then great because as we seem to have the highest population to date, and as was said it needs a stable environment in order to grow, it would seem to suggest that the warming thus far has been good. Now we have not yet arrived in 'Armageddon' territory, with regards to the climate, and we cannot today prove that we will. In addition, history may show that the climate warmed a little more and overall it was more beneficial to our civilisations, we will see. Maybe that is what it will take to prevent another ice age. There are however, at this very moment, conflicts going on around the world which seem to suggest we have not quite resolved what is possibly the greatest challenge of our time.

Regards

Edited: 15 October 2013 at 10:08 PM by westonpa
 16 October 2013 08:38 AM
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jencam

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Is the reduction of CO2 emissions compatible with the reduction of unemployment? There are economic theories that CO2 emissions are roughly proportional to the number of people employed. Similar theories are around that unemployed people generally have a lower carbon footprint than people who work full time. The carbon footprint is defined as how much CO2 has been produced from all the activities during a day of the life of an individual. Also factor in the CO2 produced from the goods that they buy.

Of course the reality is that some types of employment produce more CO2 than others. For example an HGV driver or a blast furnace worker will have a larger carbon footprint than a proof reader who works from home. It could also be possible that some employment such as an insulation installer has a negative carbon footprint.

In the light of this information should unemployed people be vilified by the Daily Mail? Should they be forced into employment under IDS style workfare? Are menial low paid jobs in the profit making private sector like stacking shelves in supermarkets appropriate or sensible employment for 'dole scroungers'? Is income tax to blame for why so many people who work hold grievances towards those who claim benefits?
 19 October 2013 08:59 PM
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cookers

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Am I allowed to say, "I don't care". The IPCC state the bl**ding obvious!

Human beings are bound to have affected the planet, there are 7 billion+ of us, we cannot avoid affecting the planet, just messing about with CO2 emissions changes this fact not one jot.

Whether we are affecting the planet in a ruinous way is a subjective judgement, the environment out of my window still seems to be doing OK. No sight yet of the "four horsemen of the Apocalypse" and I would have thought by now I would have noticed if all the doom mongers were correct.

Scientific Atmospheric Models have proved next to useless with making predictions about Ozone recovery which was the last great scare. By the way as atmospheric ozone hasn't recovered as the models predicted shouldn't we all be dead!

Every human civilisation has believed that if they live their lives a little better, made sacrifice to the gods, that the weather would be gentle on them and their grandchildren would live in a land full of milk and honey. This is our nature this is who we are.

Whether my grandchildren will think of wind turbines as their saviour from disaster, or just useless rusting monuments to a failed belief , only the future can tell, we cannot because we are human beings with beliefs. in my view either outcome looks likely!
 20 October 2013 12:20 AM
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Zuiko

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Originally posted by: cookers
Whether we are affecting the planet in a ruinous way is a subjective judgement, the environment out of my window still seems to be doing OK. No sight yet of the "four horsemen of the Apocalypse" and I would have thought by now I would have noticed if all the doom mongers were correct.


You should try to take an objective rather than subjective view. But it may mean taking a broader view than the view from your window affords.
 20 October 2013 09:42 PM
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cookers

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Originally posted by: Zuiko

You should try to take an objective rather than subjective view. But it may mean taking a broader view than the view from your window affords.


Thanks Zuiko, my window has a very broad view, I have traveled the world, and seen many sights of crushing economic poverty ,human suffering that I wish I had not seen, I have openly cried watching parents carry their dead children up the street in sacks, these things haunt me. I have been to many countries, probably more than half the world is run by Gangsters or military police states where no freedom other than to be poor and die exists.

I am therefore very objective, and have no idea why people like you think climate change is a big problem. There are plenty of problems we should do something about, but we seem to focus on something that is probably not that important. I have never seen anybody die of climate change and I suspect I never will
 21 October 2013 08:25 AM
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rogerbryant

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Most of these discussions tend to move in the same way. Man-made climate change and natural climate change tend to be smeared together. I believe that the climate has changed, is changing and will almost certainly continue to change. What is not so clear is man's influence. I also believe we should do our best to reduce our impact on the planet and our consumption of finite resources.

My main issue is as follows:

1) Do we believe the various proxy methods of measuring historic temperatures? If no then all the models are not credible. If yes then we must also accept the Ice Age cycles of around 40,000 years.

2) Looking at these temperature cycles we are currently on the steeply rising part of the curve before we drop into the next ice age. The cause of these cycles is not very well understood but the best suggestion appears to be constructive interference between various cyclic variations in the earth's orbit and cyclic variations in the sun's output.

3) The current climate models do not appear to incorporate any of this and yet are predicting a rise in temperature due to man when there is already a rise in temperature caused by these cycles.


I also try to take an objective view, starting with things I can see and understand:

Glacier recession:
10,000 years ago where I live was under a glacier. Now I have to drive at least 100km to reach the end of this glacier so on average it has been receding at 10m per year. Some centuries it probably grow and others it receded much faster that 10m per year. Is it currently receding faster that average? Maybe. Is it receding at a rate outside the normal variation? Probably not.

The temperature CO2 link:
When I was at school we had to carry out an experiment putting measured quantities of a yeast sugar mix into test tubes and sealing the tops with balloons. These tubes were then put into water baths at different temperatures and after a set time the size of the balloons was measured. Result, increasing temperature increases the rate of emission of CO2 from living organisms. Challenge: If the global temperature is increased in some way there will be more CO2 generated increasing the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. Is the CO2 driving the temperature or is the temperature driving the CO2?

Mathematical models:
The problem with mathematical models was highlighted to me by a college maths project that my daughter had to do a few years ago.
The background of the project was to develop an algorithm that could be used to control the times that street lighting was turned on and off through the year. They were given a table of the 'lighting up' times by week for a year from a city somewhere and a commercial graphing program. The students had to work out a formula without the graphing program and then use the program to produce a 'best fit' to the data set and see which gave the better result.
With a bit of understanding of the earth going round and orbiting the sun the students own formula was a SIN function with a few constants to get the correct values. The graphing program came up with a multiple order equation which fitted the data set very accurately but shot off to infinity outside of the range. The complicated equation actually fitted the data set slightly better than the SIN function but was completely meaningless as a predictor!
How good is the model used to predict climate change? It will fit the current data set because that's what it's based on, but does it settle down to a regular pattern or fly off to infinity?


In summary there appears to be two scenarios:

1) The IPCC is correct about man-made CO2 causing temperature increases with melting of ice caps and sea level rises. Without major and I think unfeasible political change in the developing countries, including China, this is going to happen anyway. In this case rather than arguing about the details we should be looking at how to mitigate the consequences. The Dutch have managed to live successfully below sea level for a few centuries.

2) The climate changes are due to natural variations and are going to happen anyway. In this case we should be looking at how to manage the consequences.

In both cases the real answer is the same!

Best regards

Roger
 21 October 2013 09:49 AM
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williamjack

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This is really a wonderful discussion , Keep it up guys !!!!!!!
 21 October 2013 01:32 PM
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Zuiko

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Originally posted by: cookersThanks Zuiko, my window has a very broad view, I have traveled the world, and seen many sights of crushing economic poverty ,human suffering that I wish I had not seen, I have openly cried watching parents carry their dead children up the street in sacks, these things haunt me. I have been to many countries, probably more than half the world is run by Gangsters or military police states where no freedom other than to be poor and die exists.


You may have had some terrible experiences in life, but they have absolutely nothing to do with the debate about climate change.


There is a fallacy called confirmation bias. Because you have not seen or experienced climate change does not mean it is not real.



Climate change is, along with evolution, a branch of scientific study that non-experts with pre-confirmed bias feel they instinctively know is wrong. I know of precious few other fields of scienctific study that lay people have such strong opinions (based not on evidence, but in many cases political and or religious objections).


I admit to not being a climatologist, geologist, oceanograhper, botanist, zoologist, glaciologist or meteorologist. These scientists have an overwhelming body of evidence that I am in no poistion to fully understand.

In a similar manner; my partner is a medical doctor, and I am in no position to debate with her the effacy of certain treatments - I take her expertise on a position of trust. Blind trust is worth no more than faith and about half as useful. But there is an overwhelming consensus amongst scientists and so my question would be, in the face of having no personal expertise in the field, why doubt an overwhelming consensus of experts and not doubt a very vocal minority of non-experts?
 21 October 2013 09:54 PM
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cookers

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Zuiko I can understand you point, and I used to believe in global warming, but got involved in trying to solve a real environmental problem and it came as quite a shock to me when I realised Friends of the Earth etc were just spouting propaganda and were not being truthful.

My doubts have increased and I feel uncomfortable with the climate change consensus because human induced climate change fits so well with our primitive beliefs, it may be confirmation bias at work, or it may not. I certainly doubt all "expert" views these come with a baggage of self interest and corporate rubbish. History is littered with the wreckage of expert views and consensus. I have reviewed the science and understand much, but am not convinced by the atmospheric model predictions and expert predictions which are proving to be inaccurate.

More that half the human world genuinely believe in the supernatural, with no scientific evidence at all, so given facts like this I think it best I make up my own mind!
 21 October 2013 10:56 PM
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jarathoon

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There are two climate talks in November to compare and contrast theoretical approaches, one less mainstream, one more mainstream.

The less mainstream talk by Murry Salby ?"Climate Change: What We Know and What We Don't" on one of the three available dates:

http://bishophill.squarespace....date-murry-salby.html

(see itinerary pdf http://bishophill.squarespace....age/Salby_Itin%203.pdf )

and

The more mainstream climate talk is at Imperial College on 26th November 2013 see here

I shall be going along to both.

James Arathoon



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James Arathoon
 22 October 2013 10:03 AM
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Zuiko

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Originally posted by: cookersMore that half the human world genuinely believe in the supernatural, with no scientific evidence at all, so given facts like this I think it best I make up my own mind!


But I am not believing claims with no evidence. Quite the opposite.


I am not involved in climate research and I am no expert, so my options are to trust (for want of a better word) the evidence, research and accumulated overwhelming consensus of suitably qualifed experts from a vast array of scientific fields involved in the study of climate change.

Or

To trust individuals on internet forums with little or no expertise, and no evidence, but with a hunch based on personal subjective experience.



Again, it is a branch of scienctific study, just like evolution (and increasingly worryingly, medicine), that those unqualified feel they instinctively understand better than experts. A strange phenomena.
 22 October 2013 10:12 AM
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Zuiko

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Originally posted by: cookers

Zuiko I can understand you point, and I used to believe in global warming


Belief is a strange way to put it.

I wouldn't say I believe in germ theory, or evolution, or the existence of gravity. They are facts, in as much as any description of a phenomena based on evidence can be called a fact; and remain facts until there is stonger contrary evidence.



Regarding agendas and propoganda; I plump with the agenda of greenies over those with a huge monetary interest in continued pollution. But that is just subjective prejudice!
 22 October 2013 10:55 AM
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rogerbryant

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Zuiko,

What actually are you taking to be factual?

1) The climate is changing.

2) The climate is changing solely due to man's influence.

3) Man is having some defined level of influence on the climate.

1 is obviously true. 2 is obviously false. 3 at what level?

Best regards

Roger
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