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Climate Change

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What on Earth is going on?

Questions about why the climate changes are not new. The French physicist Joseph Fourier first explained the greenhouse effect in 1824, and the Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius investigated it in 1896. Ever since, the public has been baffled. In 1920, the poet Robert Frost wrote, "Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice," but he never ventured a guess as to who was actually correct, only that both "would suffice."

Today, the science is far advanced, especially in the field of computer modelling, but there are still questions, and claims of a scientific consensus are oxymoronic from the get-go.

"I'm a scientist, and I go where the science takes me," said Tim Patterson, professor of earth sciences at Carleton University. "Science is not a popularity contest and it's not a democracy. It just takes one new paper to change everything." . . .

And what is a layman to make of all this? For one thing, as they promote their alternative theory of solar forcing, skeptics are offering more and more testable hypotheses and experimental results of their own. Most intriguingly, some say the world is about to get a lot colder. . . .

The theory of solar forcing predicts that, starting in the early 2020s, an inactive 11-year cycle in solar activity will coincide with a low point in the longer-term Gleissberg cycle. According to this theory, the world is about to get colder, not warmer.

"Cover up your magnolias," is how Prof. Patterson puts it.

This will be a crucial short-term test for both believers and skeptics.

National Post, May 27

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According to this theory, the world is about to get colder, not warmer.

Indeed, and we will all be thankful we drove our cars so much back in the good old days (e.g., now).

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I don't pretend to be a scientist (nor do I play one on TV), but have always a question about the theory of global warming which I don't think anyone has answered for me yet:

Has anyone considered that our meteorological records are but a snippet of history, and that this warming trend may be a natural cycle of sorts?

That said, I'm all for less pollution and more efficient, or alternately fueled, homes and vehicles. I've just never thought of global warming as having a very strong case

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Has anyone considered that our meteorological records are but a snippet of history, and that this warming trend may be a natural cycle of sorts?

In a former career (before engineering) I was a science teacher, and thus used to read a lot more about this sort of thing.

Of course, yes, this has been considered. Even the larger fluctuations mentioned above are miniscule compared with what has apparently gone on temperature-wise in the earth's history. But scientists who mention this are not the ones who get much ink (or electrons, I suppose).

When I was in undergraduate school (1970s) it was not uncommon to hear predictions of global cooling, of another ice age. Let's face it, there have been times in earth's history, before any disturbances from man-made technology, during which the earth has been practically uninhabitable. Because we have it pretty good right now, we seem to imagine that it is the normal state of things, a sort of divine right.

To try to guarantee that the temperatures around the globe would remain where we'd like them, we'd need at least 2 things ... a means of control which would affect the temperature relatively quickly ... and extremely accurate foreknowledge about future conditions affecting the temperature balance. I don't really think we have either at present. The computer models (I do computer modeling for a living) are always going to be as good as the assumptions. And as we say in the computer modeling business: "All models are wrong ... but some are useful." It is not always known until after the fact which models were good enough to be useful.

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Can't wew just set off a bunch of nukes to bring a minor nuclear winter to counter act it all? I'll pick the targets.

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Has anyone considered that our meteorological records are but a snippet of history, and that this warming trend may be a natural cycle of sorts?

I've been thinking this around a bit too. I live among the Great Lakes, merely puddles left from huge glaciers that receded so long ago. Puddles that overflow their shores for 20 years, then cause a panic when the shorelines recede for 20 years (I'm in the middle of my second cycle right now). What got me to thinking along these lines was the upper Mississippi floods of about five years ago. 100 year flooding, not climate change brought those on.

coltrane and I were discussing hurricane season as well. He told me that they became accustomed to relatively benign hurricane seasons until Andrew down there. This bad patch of heavy hurricanes will relax as well. OTOH, global warming might get me my beloved palm trees in my back yard.

Edited by Rich Kennedy

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There are definitely cycles; most environmentalists acknowledge that. But the cycles are themselves cycling more severely. So, for example, it is in the regular hurricane rhythm for us to get a larger number of hurricanes about now. But what's NOT regular is the severity (number of Cat 4s and Cat 5s).

With this I can agree, simply based on the entropic nature of Creation caused by the Fall. Things will continue getting worse until Jesus returns. And isn't there a verse that says there will be more natural disasters towards the end?

I sometimes chock some of the severity and frequency of natural disasters we know of these days to the plethora of communication across the globe — which wasn't, even 100 years ago in such a capacity. But it's probably both.

Edited by Chashab

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Things will continue getting worse until Jesus returns.

We must have differing eschatologies. When I was a bit more Postmillennial, I used to think things would get better and better until Christ'st return. Now I tend more toward Amillennialism, so I think things will average out to be about the same balance of better and worse until our Lord's return.

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Things will be what they will be -- why would we try to change facts to fit a somewhat speculative interpretation of the Bible, especially the parts of the Bible that are least specific?

Such an approach has been shown TIME and TIME again to be wrong, whether it was confronting heliocentrism, the round earth, young-earth Creationism, etc., etc.

This is actually how my own worldview, if that's the right word in this case, plays out. Thus I mentioned my own skepticism in suggesting part of the worsening-of-the-world, from our viewpoint, is a result of mass media coverage. Obviously such catastrophes have happened for millenia, as recorded in history.

I Timothy 4 and Matt 24 talk about false teachers in the latter days, and there are some other passages speaking of how things will be "in the end." Of course, there were false teachers in the days when these books were written, in the same century as Jesus' death. So will things necessarily get worse? No, by my limited theology. (I know my previous post suggested this is what I believe — and I know this is what I was brought up believing in the church, whether it was their [my church's] intention or not. So I'm probably still reconciling what I learned in my upbringing with what we can actually know from Scripture.)

Verse 6 in Matt 24 says "And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet." Which gets to the crux of what you're saying, if I understand. We just can't and won't know exactly how it will go down.

Furthermore, it can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. If the earth is going down the tubes, ecologically, but Christians fail to do anything because that's what's "supposed to happen," then they're actually complicit in the problem rather than being salt and light, and they are not being the good stewards they are commanded to be.

Ah, reminds me of "Should we not then sin more so that grace will abound all the more?" Of course not.

Edited by Chashab

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Has anyone considered that our meteorological records are but a snippet of history, and that this warming trend may be a natural cycle of sorts?

To the extent that "anyone" includes the scientists doing the climate-change research, trust me...this issue is prominent. Of course, there are always a few wackos...

A limited data set is a fundamental part of doing science. Our inability to make an infinite number of measurements, to record data at all points in space and time, leads to an intrinsic uncertainty that must be considered. Scientist and mathematicians have spent centuries developing the statistical tools to understand, quantify, and communicate the extend of this uncertainty in scientific results.

For fields like meteorology and climatology, data sets consist of millions or billions of recorded numbers and published, technical results always come with an associated error. The magnitude of the associated error is, in many ways, just as important as the result itself. If the conclusion of the study is that <blah> = 2 degrees with an error of plus or minus 2 degrees, then the result isn't statistically distinguishable from zero. "Errors", and here I use the term more loosely, can also express the statistical certainty that an observed trend is or is not part of a larger cycle of 10, 1000, 1M yrs, etc.

The fact that we only have climate data from the last ~100 years is reflected in the error associated with results being published by climate scientists. The PROBLEM, however, is the translation of those technical results into newbites. A scientist can do an experiment and legitimately say that s/he sees evidence for <blah> aspect of climate change WITH all the associated errors and confidence levels and other satistical jargon. But none of that makes it to the news. That's where things get confusing.

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Has anyone considered that our meteorological records are but a snippet of history, and that this warming trend may be a natural cycle of sorts?

To the extent that "anyone" includes the scientists doing the climate-change research, trust me...this issue is prominent. Of course, there are always a few wackos...

A limited data set is a fundamental part of doing science. Our inability to make an infinite number of measurements, to record data at all points in space and time, leads to an intrinsic uncertainty that must be considered. Scientist and mathematicians have spent centuries developing the statistical tools to understand, quantify, and communicate the extend of this uncertainty in scientific results.

For fields like meteorology and climatology, data sets consist of millions or billions of recorded numbers and published, technical results always come with an associated error. The magnitude of the associated error is, in many ways, just as important as the result itself. If the conclusion of the study is that <blah> = 2 degrees with an error of plus or minus 2 degrees, then the result isn't statistically distinguishable from zero. "Errors", and here I use the term more loosely, can also express the statistical certainty that an observed trend is or is not part of a larger cycle of 10, 1000, 1M yrs, etc.

The fact that we only have climate data from the last ~100 years is reflected in the error associated with results being published by climate scientists. The PROBLEM, however, is the translation of those technical results into newbites. A scientist can do an experiment and legitimately say that s/he sees evidence for <blah> aspect of climate change WITH all the associated errors and confidence levels and other satistical jargon. But none of that makes it to the news. That's where things get confusing.

1) It's good to hear this from someone who sounds like they know what they're doing

2) I'm glad you mentioned how the percent of error doesn't make it into the news. My concern in reading it all before your last paragraph is that a) The scientists (information) is generally conveyed as truth, and end-all, not to be challenged and B) The general public usually seems to regard such statements as not able to be challenged

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There are definitely cycles; most environmentalists acknowledge that. But the cycles are themselves cycling more severely. So, for example, it is in the regular hurricane rhythm for us to get a larger number of hurricanes about now. But what's NOT regular is the severity (number of Cat 4s and Cat 5s).

Maybe only in the last 30 years, but there were quite severe storms in the early 20th c. Accounts of early exploration of the area detail horrific storms never experienced by Europeans. It is hard to say whether that was a rookie talking or accounts of extreme hurricane behavior. Lack of meteorological data analysed as such is a severe crimp on modern data. It's easier to dig into icecaps.

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Chill Out Over Global Warming

You'll often hear the left lecture about the importance of dissent in a free society. Why not give it a whirl? Start by challenging global warming hysteria next time you're at a LoDo cocktail party and see what happens.

.....

Both Gray and Pielke say there are many younger scientists who voice their concerns about global warming hysteria privately but would never jeopardize their careers by speaking up. "Plenty of young people tell me they don't believe it," he says. "But they won't touch this at all. If they're smart, they'll say: 'I'm going to let this run its course.' It's a sort of mild McCarthyism.

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But if they approach science with preconceived "beliefs" about a purely scientific matter, then that's something worthy of destroying their careers.

I understand that there is no such thing as a person completely without bias. But I'm afraid that such preconceived beliefs may be common place among the scientific community in general. More than they know, certainly more than they're willing to admit. I'd like to believe otherwise, but often feel I can't.

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If "plenty of young people" dissent from global warming, then they should do the science and publish their results. Period.

That's certainly ideal, but maybe less than realistic when most scientists rely of funding from other people/organizations who have plenty of other places they could steer their money.

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I'm getting weird flashbacks to the "Intelligent Design" debate.

I wonder how many evangelicals are completely sold on global warming (because of the apparent, if recent, scientific unanimity) but still disbelieve in evolution (despite the apparent, and much older, scientific unanimity).

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I'm getting weird flashbacks to the "Intelligent Design" debate.

I wonder how many evangelicals are completely sold on global warming (because of the apparent, if recent, scientific unanimity) but still disbelieve in evolution (despite the apparent, and much older, scientific unanimity).

I would imagine many, if for no other reason than there's no specific biblical passage to (correctly interpreted or not) deny global warming. Or confirm, but whatever... you get the idea.

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There are definitely cycles; most environmentalists acknowledge that. But the cycles are themselves cycling more severely. So, for example, it is in the regular hurricane rhythm for us to get a larger number of hurricanes about now. But what's NOT regular is the severity (number of Cat 4s and Cat 5s).

The

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So I don

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I'm still trying to figure out where and when the frequency and strength of hurricanes got so tied to global warming and climate change. The scientific concensus on large-scale climate change is relatively convincing... well, as much as any scientific concensus is convincing to me. But where did hurricanes come in, and why in the world was Katrina such a catalyst for debate about global warming? It was as if (speculation here) some liberal folk needed some way of blaming conservatives for the disaster and all they could come up with was this tenuous link to environmental negligence. Has there been established a direct link between, say, increased levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and the frequency or intensity of violent weather? Maybe I just missed it...?

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Um, did I miss the information?

I doubt it, I didn't give much. :)

If I understand correctly, Will, you, as a writer, are speculating that storms experienced over 120 years ago were as strong as the storms we're experiencing today, right?

Yes. But not as a person who is a writer, but as a person who has done a bit of admittedly non-scientific research... because the scientific data does not exist.

Is the information that the area had big nasty storms back then that wiped out pre-modern construction in communities without meteorologists?

Well, it couldn't wipe out modern construction because there wasn't any. And there weren't meteorologists (in any modern sense) because that science only really began in the mid-19th century. In the United States, the Weather Bureau was not established until 1870, and had very limited staff and resources until well into the 20th century.

Although I did not go into it in my previous post, one comperable thing I did take into consideration that is somewhat similar between 1880 and 1995 is the amount of damage to timber well over 100 miles inland. Hurricane Rita last year caused less damage (although there was an amazing amount of damage that I've seen with my own eyes) than those storms 125 years ago -- and those trees were predominantly old growth hardwoods and Texas long-leaf yellow pine (now extinct) which was considerably stronger and pliable than the pines that dominate the Piney Woods and Big Thicket region of Southeast Texas.

Edited by TexasWill

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Extinct?

There was a certain Texas variety of longleaf yellow pine that was prized for construction. Unregulated lumber interests in the 19th and early 20th centuries harvested all known examples of such trees and ran them through the mills.

"Extinct" might be the wrong word, but I don't think there are many, if any, of that tree left.

The Stark House in Orange, Texas is built primarily of that type of yellow pine. It was built by one of the lumber barons of the era.

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If buildings made from those trees still exist, would there be any possibility of cloning them?

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If buildings made from those trees still exist, would there be any possibility of cloning them?

They do exist, see the above post regarding the Stark House, but I don't know a thing about cloning, so one of our scientists needs to answer that one.

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