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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.

Similar stories abound here in Michigan of the late 19thc. "deforestation". I occasionally here of old "hardwood pine" that was harvested out of existence here. The natural pine that survives in the wild is ugly "Jack" pine. Anything else is from reforestation.

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Environmental Heresy

Opposition parties are attacking the Harper government for backing away from Kyoto targets. Environmental lobbyists are demanding the resignation of Environment Minister Rona Ambrose as chair of the United Nations discussions on climate change. And yet, scientists -- those men and women whose work is supposed to be the basis for all pro-Kyoto policy -- continue to speak out more and more against the establishment view on climate change. Is this mere irony, or are we witnessing a trend? . . .

Tom Harris, Vancouver Sun, June 8

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ruthie   

This past Wednessday (June 14), Andrew Revkin covered this topic during Fresh Air on NPR. He was very good at two things

  1. Keeping his head on his sholders by presenting multiple sides and not presenting the evidence reactively.
  2. Communicating the scientific theory interestingly and understandably to the general population.
We were very impressed and intrigued by him and his interview. I recommend listening to it at the link above. One of the items he noticed is yes, what we are seeing are part of bigger fluctuations and cycles, but like has been stated before, there is evidence to suggest that the amplitude of the fluctuations (and thus the worry that is caused by them) is getting more severe and can no longer be explained just by the fact that we're in "part of a cycle". He discouraged huge reactionary efforts, drawing rickety conclusions (eg. "this hurricane was caused by Global Warning"), and feeling us to be in a state of large crisis because of this information. But he didn't take away from the seriousness that this is a problem.

He also addressed Gore's Inconvenient Truth briefly.

Like I said, check out the link above and take a listen if you are interested in this topic. He's an interesting and well-spoken specialized journalist.

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SZPT   

FWIW, Author Michael Crichton weighed in last November with this speech. Seems he was doing research for a global disaster novel, and he discovered some things along the way. This led him to drop the original idea and write a novel called State of Fear (weird, but I never heard about any of this until yesterday, and scanning the internet reveals quite a kerfuffle over the novel). I know that when he tackles a subject he tends to do thorough research, and this speech shows some of the fruit of that.

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SZPT   

Wikipedia on Michael Crichton and his "credentials" in this area.

Of course. Neither you nor I have the right credentials either, and yet here we are...

I'm not talking about his work of fiction. I haven't read it. I'm talking about the speech I linked to. Without attacking the man, what about the points addressed in the speech?

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So the main criticism to his comments is that he's a science fiction writer??? SERIOUSLY?

Thank GOD that other scientists were never bothered by the fact that Arthur C. Clarke was a science fiction writer, or they space program would never have come as far as it did... :P

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MattP   

No, it's not that BDR. It's bad science, not that he's a writer. And that he's abusing his position to push bad science.

What if I think Al Gore's abusing his position to push bad science?

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MattP   

Sorry Alan,

I have to admit that was more meant to push your buttons than anything. I'll try not to do it again...

:D

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SZPT   

You may think whatever you like, but the support of the scientific community is clearly behind one of these men and not the other.

That is a debatable point, as evidence by previous discussion on this very forum.

What do you find in Crichton's speech that is bad science?

It seems to me that we have here a man who came to the issue with your same preconceptions, he dug a little deeper, let the facts speak for themselves, and then changed his mind. He didn't go looking for things that would back back up his current point of view, but after his research he was compelled to alter his perception. If he was a right-wing hack I could see how easily he could be dismissed, but I've never known Crichton to be a conservative (maybe it is that I never paid attention to his political views). Again, until he began his research he states that "had very conventional ideas about the environment and the success of the environmental movement."

And what I appreciate is that he isn't calling for an abandonment of environmental concerns, but he is calling for a new strategy that steps away from a mindset that amounts to religious fervor and dangerous meddling.

As for me, I'm not trying to push anyone's buttons. Crichton's analysis makes a lot of sense to me. If it doesn't make sense to you it would be great to know why.

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Doug C   

UK, Calif. to strike global warming deal

By JOHN HEILPRIN, Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Britain and California are preparing to sidestep the Bush administration and fight global warming together by creating a joint market for greenhouse gases.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger plan to lay the groundwork for a new trans-Atlantic market in carbon dioxide emissions, The Associated Press has learned. Such a move could help California cut carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases scientists blame for warming the planet. President Bush has rejected the idea of ordering such cuts.

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Chashab   

UK, Calif. to strike global warming deal

By JOHN HEILPRIN, Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Britain and California are preparing to sidestep the Bush administration and fight global warming together by creating a joint market for greenhouse gases.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger plan to lay the groundwork for a new trans-Atlantic market in carbon dioxide emissions, The Associated Press has learned. Such a move could help California cut carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases scientists blame for warming the planet. President Bush has rejected the idea of ordering such cuts.

They're trading pollution rights? That's a new one on me. Or did I not read it right . . . ?

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Doug C   

They're creating a market for business incentives that will reduce greenhouse gases in their respective jurisdictions.

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And this today:

The global sea level rise caused by climate change, severely threatening many of the world's coastal and low-lying areas from Bangladesh to East Anglia, is proceeding faster than UN scientists predicted only five years ago, Professor Chris Rapley, director of the British Antarctic Survey, said yesterday. . . .

This was in The Independent last week (15 Sept):

Ten years ago, when the world was groping its way towards the signing of the 1997 Kyoto protocol, the sense that the issue needed to be tackled urgently was largely based on one thing only: computer programs. . . .

Things have changed. Since the turn of the millennium, observations of the concrete effects of rising temperatures have started to mount up . . . most of all, the melting ice.

. . . It means two things: firstly, you can't deny it any more. . . . Secondly, it's coming, to you. . . . A lot sooner than you think.

Edited by Tony Watkins

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Tony, that's a bit of a longish quotation from a copyrighted source...and the link doesn't go where you think it does.

Whoops. I take copyright very seriouslys so I'm glad you alerted me to it. I had copied the whole thing intending to ellide most of it, but in my haste forgot. Hence why the url from a previous poste was still on my clipboard instead of the one for the article in question!!

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Just a reminder Earth is not a closed system. Is there a new window for leaders finally to DO something?

I noticed that article was in The Observer but bought another paper and forgot all about going online to read it so thanks for posting this.

An astronomer friend and I were talking recently about the problem of funding etc. in a field which has no obvious direct benefits. There are great spin-off benefits from developing space gear, but what use is it to know about Jupiter or wherever? (I believe in knowledge for its own sake, but there are nevertheless legitimate questions to be asked). But here is a significant example of direct application - we really do need to understand the sun better.

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Just a reminder Earth is not a closed system. Is there a new window for leaders finally to DO something?

I found this part to be truly profound: Studies have shown that when solar output is high, the climate tends to be hot. We needed a study to show that?

But, seriously, my question is a rather naive one about melting polar ice-caps and rising sea levels. Of course, we all know that ice takes up more volume per unit mass than liquid water. So, when the ice caps melt, the total volume of the water/ice system will be smaller. Is the predicted (or observed) rise in sea level due to much of the ice being located above sea level?

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Interesting question, anglicanbeachparty. It reminds me of how A.I. Artificial Intelligence seemed to say that the waters were rising because of the melting ice caps ... and then, in the future, when the oceans are frozen, the cities are STILL underwater (or, rather, underice). That didn't seem all that consistent. (Looked beautiful, though.)

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

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But, seriously, my question is a rather naive one about melting polar ice-caps and rising sea levels. Of course, we all know that ice takes up more volume per unit mass than liquid water. So, when the ice caps melt, the total volume of the water/ice system will be smaller. Is the predicted (or observed) rise in sea level due to much of the ice being located above sea level?

Ice floating in the sea is not an issue since it displaces the volume of water which it will occupy when melted - that is, the water level will stay the same whether or not we have large quantities of sea ice. The total volume will, as you say, be less because you haven't got bits sticking up anymore for the polar bears to hunt on. (Given the threat to polar bear survival, Pullman's stuff about Iorek Byrnison and the panserbj

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Many, if not most and possibly all, glaciers are melting faster than they should be.

Tony, when you say "should be" do you mean simply, "Faster than we would like them to"? Or "Faster than they would if no humans lived on the planet", perhaps? I'm asking about your baseline assumption of how fast the glaciers should be melting. Indeed, should they be melting at all?

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Many, if not most and possibly all, glaciers are melting faster than they should be.

Tony, when you say "should be" do you mean simply, "Faster than we would like them to"? Or "Faster than they would if no humans lived on the planet", perhaps? I'm asking about your baseline assumption of how fast the glaciers should be melting. Indeed, should they be melting at all?

Good question. We seemed to be experiencing a warming phase of Earth's history anyway, as far as I understand it. So there was some net decrease in glacier volume. But the rate of melting has been accelerated by human activity - and the recent results from the Arctic show that the rate of melting has leapt up to a staggering 30 times (if I remember rightly) what it was just a few years ago (see the articles linked from earlier posts for more precise figures).

So my 'should be' really means 'faster than they were doing.'

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MattP   

"Climate Porn"

Another speech by Sen. Inhofe - delivered yesterday.

Obviously a partisan speech, and I have no reason to trust Sen. Inhofe's climate knowledge any more or less than any of the other talking heads out there, but one section of his speech helped me put a finger on why I find it so hard to get on board with the current climate change "consensus."

The boy who cried wolf has nothing on climate scientists...

Global Cooling

1895

New York Times:

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Cool on Climate Change

New Christian coalition says fighting global warming will hurt the poor.

Christianity Today, September 26

- - -

For some reason this reminds me of how Jerry Falwell and others used to say back in the 1980s that imposing sanctions on South Africa would not end apartheid but would only hurt the blacks who couldn't find work (a claim I found myself remembering and processing again when I saw Catch a Fire the other day, but I'll save that for another thread).

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Chashab   

This is almost as much fun as guessing how many blades will be on the next revolutionary shaving razor...

Good post . . .

. . . and my guess is that the next revolutionary shaving razor will have

* drum roll *

um, INVISIBLE blades!

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