• global warming causes cooling

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 • global warming causes cooling

Posted by kerrb at 2005-12-03 04:09 PM

Once you adopt the framework that global warming is causing an environmental catastrophe then it's hard to break out of it.

New Scientist is now speculating that global warming is now causing things to cool down. That might sound a bit odd but they don't seem to notice. No mention of dialectics here.

Along the way they do admit that they don't really know what is happening. But lets not stop that getting in the way of a good headline.
The ocean current that gives western Europe its relatively balmy climate is stuttering, raising fears that it might fail entirely and plunge the continent into a mini ice age...

The slow-down, which has long been predicted as a possible consequence of global warming, will give renewed urgency to intergovernmental talks in Montreal, Canada, this week on a successor to the Kyoto Protocol...

The changes are too big to be explained by chance, co-author Stuart Cunningham told New Scientist from a research ship off the Canary Islands, where he is collecting more data. "We think the findings are robust."...

But Richard Wood, chief oceanographer at the UK Met Office’s Hadley Centre for climate research in Exeter, says the Southampton team's findings leave a lot unexplained. The changes are so big they should have cut oceanic heating of Europe by about one-fifth – enough to cool the British Isles by 1°C and Scandinavia by 2°C. "We haven’t seen it yet," he points out.

Though unseasonably cold weather last month briefly blanketed parts of the UK in snow, average European temperatures have been rising, Wood says. Measurements of surface temperatures in the North Atlantic indicate a strong warming trend during the 1990s, which seems now to have halted....

Nobody is clear on what has gone wrong. Suggestions for blame include the melting of sea ice or increased flow from Siberian rivers into the Arctic. Both would load fresh water into the surface ocean, making it less dense and so preventing it from sinking, which in turn would slow the flow of tropical water from the south. And either could be triggered by man-made climate change. Some climate models predict that global warming could lead to such a shutdown later this century.

- Failing ocean current raises fears of mini ice age

If it gets warmer then that's because of global warming. If it gets cooler then that's because of global warming.

Bill Kerr

 • Re: global warming causes cooling

Posted by keza at 2005-12-03 11:04 PM

The idea that global warming could lead to cooling isn't nonsensical in itself - this isn't a matter of scientists being completely irrational.

The theory is that rising air temperatures would affect the Gulf Stream  by causing ice caps to melt which would in turn make the water less salty and therefore less dense so it can't sink and flow back south. 

The Gulf Stream pulls warm water from the tropics and is responsible for providing Western Europe with a far milder climate compared to similar latitudes in North America (such as Ontario and Minnesota).

So the issue here isn't one of scientists literally contradicting themselves and saying that warming = cooling.

I have no idea whether these latest reports of a 30 % reduction in the warm currents of the Gulf Stream are "good science" or not.

The issue for me is the hyped up doomsday theorising which accompanies the reporting of such findings.

Most of this theorising is based on a 2003  report commissioned by  Andrew Marshall (the originator of the Star Wars  defence system) entitled "Imagining the Unthinkable". 

The purpose of this report is to imagine the unthinkable – to push the boundaries of current research on climate change so we may better understand the potential implications on United States National Security.

We have created a climate change scenario that although not the most likely, is plausible, and  would challenge United States national security in ways that should be considered immediately.

The report is all about the possibility of climate change destabilising things and how this might impact on US national security interests.   Actually it's worth considering in the light of the discussion about how "being determines consciousness".  

Greenies and the pseudo left have used this report extensively - despite their normal knee jerk rejection of anything coming from the US imperialists (eg Flannery quotes extensively from it in his most recent book).

Here is an account of the report that was published in "The Age" in 2004

Abrupt climate change sparked by a Gulf Stream shutdown may seem a little farfetched, but it is also the scenario recently analysed by the Pentagon. Analysts took a worst-case-scenario modelled on an event 8200 years ago, when the conveyor belt of deep ocean currents collapsed, causing abrupt cooling.

Their report, Imagining the Unthinkable, says such an event is not likely to happen, but is nonetheless plausible. The report's authors, Peter Schwartz and Doug Randall, from the California-based consulting firm Global Business Network, recommend that the risk of abrupt climate change be elevated beyond a scientific debate to a US national security concern.

The report, quite frankly, is scary. It warned the Bush Administration that such abrupt climate change could cause a "significant drop in the human carrying capacity of the Earth's environment", sparking wars, riots, famine and global insecurity.

Under the scenario, temperatures drop over Asia, North America and northern Europe, while rising over Australia, South America and southern Africa. Mega-drought persists in critical farming regions, and water becomes scarce for big population centres in Europe and the eastern part of North America. Winter storms and winds intensify.

Europe is hardest hit, with the climate getting colder, drier and windier, making it more like Siberia. The US suffers loss of food productivity and rising sea levels, and "turns inward, committed to feeding its own population, shoring up its borders and managing increasing global tension". China is hit by widespread famine and Bangladesh becomes almost uninhabitable.

"Nations with the resources to do so may build virtual fortresses around their countries, preserving resources for themselves," the report says. "Less fortunate nations, especially those with ancient enmities with their neighbours, may initiate struggles for access to food, clean water, or energy.

"Unlikely alliances could be formed as defence priorities shift and the goal is resources for survival rather than religion, ideology, or national honour.


 • Re: global warming causes cooling

Posted by byork at 2005-12-04 01:06 AM

I agree that the ideology needs challenging but the science really is strange when evidence of cooling is used as proof of global warming, alongside evidence of warming as proof of global warming. If both cooling and warming are proof of global warming, then I think the hypothesis is nonsense. Insofar as there is evidence of warming, it should always be kept in mind that this is based on climate models which create scenarios based on the selected inputed data. The media wrongly refers to the outcomes of modelling as predictions, which they are not. They are merely computer-generated scenarios. But, given that we are still coming out of an Ice Age, and still have polar ice caps, it is possible that the planet is becoming warmer.


The reactionary ideology that blames this on modern industrial society, and which advocates a return to simpler forms of society, does need challenging. It amazes me the extent to which people - well, the people with whom I mix (academics, librarians, teachers, public servants) - genuinely believe that our way of life is ruining the planet. The doomsayers are under challenge, which is good, but they had a bit of a honeymoon for many years in which they created an negative ethos through the media. They have made it all the harder to argue for a more advanced society, one which uses the present level of development as a springboard into the future.




 • Re: global warming causes cooling

Posted by keza at 2005-12-04 02:07 AM
Barry, the scientific argument is all to do with the salinity of the Atlantic ocean. Theoretically global warming could set up a chain of events that would lead to cooling in some parts of the world and warming in other places.

The theory in this case is that the melting of the ice caps (due to warming)  will add massive amounts of fresh water to the Atlantic ocean thereby lowereing its salinity, which in turn will affect Gulf Stream (which is dependant on a certain amount of salinity). In the absence of the Gulf Stream,  Europe would be a lot cooler.

As I said in my first message I don't have the foggiest idea whether the study reported in New Scientist produced reliable results. But it can't be debunked just by saying that there's no sense in the idea that in this case cooling could be a sign of warming. While I don't agree with the Gaia hypothesis as an ideology that says we should leave nature alone,  I do believe that the climate is a complex interactional system in which a change to one thing can cause a cascade of other changes (which is why the models used by climate scientists are generally woefully inaccurate).

What I would challenge is the ideology being peddled by the global warming panic merchants.  Humanity can cope with change and solve problems - the key to doing this is development, not attempts to hold things back.

It's worth reading that Pentagon document that I mentioned in my other message (Imagining the unthinkable) for an example of the class view of the bourgeoisie (or one section of it anyway).

 • Re: global warming causes cooling

Posted by arthur at 2005-12-04 04:43 AM

The last sentence of "Imagining the unthinkable" pretty well sums it up:

"Disruption and conflict will be endemic features of life".

That's unthinkable folks - so let's all talk about the weather.

 • extreme weather

Posted by kerrb at 2005-12-04 06:00 AM
thanks keza, barry,

My initial post was superficial - mainly I'm upset because I thought it might be an example of dialectics (unity of the opposites of warming and cooling) and did mention that but glossed over it

The 'global warming causes cooling' title was intended as irony but now feels like foolishness on my part

The scenario of environmentalists that needs investigation is that global warming (increased human generated greenhouse gases) is causing extreme weather patterns - the phrase 'extreme weather' might better represent their position, which I believe is absurdly exaggerated but which does require some serious study

I need to look into it more when I have time - will try to post again

I hope that those who read this thread have a close look at the New Scientist article that sparked it as well as keza's links
Bill Kerr

 • extremism

Posted by arthur at 2005-12-04 03:03 PM
Bill, The foolishness was in looking to dialectics to show that something, in this case the climate, doesn't change or that if it does, then human development isn't a causal factor.

The (classic) liberal response to that foolishness is well stated by keza: "What I would challenge is the ideology being peddled by the global warming panic merchants. Humanity can cope with change and solve problems - the key to doing this is development, not attempts to hold things back."

Donald Rumsfeld exemplifies the spriteliness of doddering liberalism in its last stages of decay. He isn't afraid of the "messiness" of change and has contempt for the "Chicken Little's" warning that the sky is falling. A radical approach goes much further. We're going to get off this planet where the native hominids keep prattling about the weather - one way or the other. "What doesn't kill us, makes us stronger". "One must still have chaos within oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star"

"Don’t run away with the idea that the world is at peace. The situation is unstable. You may think you are ‘on firm ground’, but it will not remain firm. One day the continents will sink, the Pacific Ocean will become dry land, and we’ll have to move house. Small earthquakes are a frequent occurrence."

"The finite is transformed into the infinite, the infinite is transformed into the finite. The dialectics of ancient times was transformed into the metaphysics of the Middle Ages, and the metaphysics of the Middle Ages was transformed into the dialectics of modern times. The universe, too, undergoes transformation, it is not eternal. Capitalism leads to socialism, socialism leads to communism, and communist society must still be transformed, it will also have a beginning and an end, it will certainly be divided into stages, or they will give it another name, it cannot remain constant. If there were only quantitative changes and no qualitative changes, that would go against dialectics. There is nothing in the world that does not arise, develop, and disappear. Monkeys turned into men, mankind arose; in the end, the whole human race will disappear, it may turn into something else, at that time the earth itself will also cease to exist. The earth must certainly be extinguished, the sun too will grow cold — it is already much cooler than it was in ancient times. During the ice age, there was one change in two million years. When the ice came, a large part of all living creatures perished. Beneath the South Pole there is a great deal of coal, so you can see that in ancient times it was very warm there. In Yen-ch’ang hsien they have discovered petrified bamboo. (An author of the Sung dynasty said that bamboo grew in Yen-ch’ang in ancient times, but now it can’t.) All things must have a beginning and an end. Only two things are infinite: time and space. The infinite is made up of the finite. All things of whatever kind develop and change step by step."
 ("Talks at the Chengtu Conference")

 Dialectical materialism is a philosophy for extremists.

 • extremist distortion

Posted by kerrb at 2005-12-05 12:20 AM
arthur wrote:
Bill, The foolishness was in looking to dialectics to show that something, in this case the climate, doesn't change or that if it does, then human development isn't a causal factor.
No it wasn't because I didn't say that, nor did I think it.
Bill Kerr

 • Re: extremist distortion

Posted by arthur at 2005-12-05 06:55 AM
Bill, So what do you think? Your curt response adequately conveys irritation but doesn't help develop any ideas.

There is a widely held view that "global warning" is based on fraudulent science.

This is quite distinct from the view that "solutions" based on trying to prevent climate change by holding back economic development are unrelated to any science and flow from a reactionary ideology.

 Both your initial post and Barry's comment still strike me as unambiguously promoting that "fraudulent science" view. If I misunderstood, others would too and you need to clarify what you do think.

 Given the overwhelming scientific consensus that global warming is a phenomenon that should be taken seriously, ridiculing examples of that view as fraudulent appears to be based on assumption that the climate is not changing (more than usual) and/or that if it is, this is not the result of human activity.

 If you meant to say something else, don't blame me for still not knowing what it was, as you still haven't said it. Until you do, whatever point it was that you felt foolish about having unsuccessfully tried to make concerning dialectics, appears to have been an attempt to enlist dialectics in refutation of a scientific demonstration that the gulf stream, like everything else, is changing.

 • Re: extremist distortion

Posted by keza at 2005-12-05 04:32 PM
Arthur wrote:

There is a widely held view that "global warning" is based on fraudulent science.

This is quite distinct from the view that "solutions" based on trying to prevent climate change by holding back economic development are unrelated to any science and flow from a reactionary ideology.

Reactionary ideology does lead to bad science though. Science isn't done in a vacuum.  So the issue is a complex one. It is necessary to take a stand against the idea of consensus science (ie majority rule in science).  It is even been argued by some people in the  scientific community  that the threat to the planet is "so severe" that its acceptable to exaggerate the scientific evidence. (I will try to track down the scientist who said that and post the link later).

Certainly in the current situation the peer reviewing process seems to be allowing things such as the  reporting of findings that have failed to achieve statistical significance and so on.  The growing consensus that global warming is already causing an increase in the number of intense hurricanes (but not an increase in the number of huricanes overall) is based on dodgy statistics and on scientists giving media reports in which they clearly do exaggerate their findings.   (see the hurricanes and global warming thread).

Another example is the way in which Bjorn Lomborg has been pilloried by  the scientific community with claims that he somehow  breached the scientific method. 

However  Lomborg wasn't even conducting empirical research -  he was doing statistical analysis - which although vital to science is an entirely  different field.

The "Danish Committee on Scientific Dishonesty" (DCSD) actually "convicted" Lomborg of being "objectively dishonest" and "clearly contrary to the principles of good scientific  practice" but two years later an investigation by the Danish Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation concluded that the committee’s judgement "was not backed up by documentation and was "completely void of  argumentation  for the claims of dishonesty and lack of good scientific practice". 

It offered DCSD the option of  reopening the case for a new trial  but DCSD declined to do this and simply withdrew its original decision.  (Significantly although they translated their first judgement into English their retraction was only available in Danish.)

So we really do have issues related to the conduct of science itself as well as issues related to an ideology which is fundamentally reactionary in its attitude to  change and development . 

These things are difficult/impossible  to disentangle although I agree that simply denying that human activity is capable of influencing climate (and trying to debunk every bit of science which says that it is) would be just as one-sded and undialectical as the stance taken by the conservative prophets of doom.

Here's an article from Spiked entitled Bring Back the Weathermen  which argues that we should be consciously attempting to control the climate rather than fearing it.

 • Re: extremist distortion

Posted by arthur at 2005-12-05 05:28 PM
I really liked the Spiked article. Much better than our echoing the liberal view and also more lively and positive than their usual endless repetition of the same point about the "precautionary principle" and the bourgeoisie's moribund pessimism.

The corruption of science is certainly an important issue and another symptom of how moribund capitalism is getting. I do think it should be kept separate and disentangled though.

One interesting entanglement is your mention that the author of the "thinking about the unimaginable" report was also the originator of proposals for "Star Wars". I was struck when reading it with how blatantly it was seeking to manipulate opinion to secure funding for climate research.

Jerry Pournelle was quite open about promoting Reagam's "Star Wars" initiative in order to secure funding for high-tech that was being run down at the end of the Cold War.

Even astronomers have been getting on the bandwagon with promotion of films about catastrophes from collisions with giant meteors to secure funding for astronomy and the space program that was dismantled when ballistic missiles became less important.

An early example was the "Stop the Concord" project initiated from competitors in the aerospace industry which kicked off the whole ozone layer/greenhouse effect global warming/cooling stuff which in turn fed into "Nuclear Winter" and other fads.

The way to disentangle is to focus on the struggle between world outlooks.

 We want revolution. They want sustainability.

Communism will unleash the productive forces, including science as we reach for the stars.

Capitalism fetters and corrupts the productive forces, including science.

Cynicism, including the corruption of science, is best overcome by putting forward our program for "faster, faster" rather than by defending liberalism against its more reactionary opponents.

 • geosequestration

Posted by keza at 2006-01-08 08:46 PM
There's an interesting article in today's Age newspaper on the use of technology to deal with carbon emissions.  Who wants to bet that there will be massive greenie opposition to this project???  Here's the article.

VICTORIA is set to become a leader in fighting climate change with a landmark research project this year that will store greenhouse gas deep underground.

The carbon dioxide geosequestration project, a first for Australia, is being driven by the Cooperative Research Centre for Greenhouse Gas Technologies (CO2CRC) and will be located in the Otway Basin in western Victoria.

Industry and the federal and state governments are banking on geosequestration — the geological storage of carbon dioxide — to provide a way to make deep cuts into greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels at a time when international concern about climate change is escalating.

The CO2CRC plans to be injecting carbon dioxide by the end of the year or early next year. Yesterday it would not say where the project would be based in western Victoria. Its chief executive, Peter Cook, said that the site was not yet specified because talks were continuing with landowners.

But industry watchers said that the carbon dioxide-rich gasfields found about 10 kilometres inland from Port Campbell and Peterborough would be the likely location.

Dr Cook said that the project would involve 40 Australian and overseas researchers. It will simulate the capture of carbon dioxide from a power station. The gas would then be piped several kilometres for pumping into underground storage in a depleted gas reservoir about two kilometres beneath the surface.

"Western Victoria is a very good area for testing the technology, as large amounts of carbon dioxide are naturally trapped in the Otway Basin," he said. "Our experiments will simulate natural geological processes that trap carbon dioxide for up to millions of years.

"Over a one-to-two-year period we will inject the carbon dioxide (about 100,000 tonnes) and scientists will monitor all aspects of the project to ensure it goes according to plan and to demonstrate the safety and effectiveness of the technology.

"Global warming is a serious issue for communities and governments around the world. Our project will make a significant contribution to establishing technologies in Australia and globally, which have the potential of making deep cuts into greenhouse gas emissions."

Geosequestration has its critics. The Australian Conservation Foundation has referred to geosequestration as "greenhouse dumping" and others worry about the technology's safety and cost, and its promotion over strategies to reduce the world's reliance on fossil fuels.

The project in western Victoria will be funded by a mix of industry and government funding. In June 2004 the Federal Government announced its intention to create a $500 million Low Emissions Technology Demonstration Fund.

And in June last year, the State Government announced $83.5 million in funding for pilot projects related to brown coal under its Energy Technology Innovation Strategy.

Plans for the first geosequestration project to be based in western Victoria came ahead of this week's inaugural ministerial meeting of the Asia Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate in Sydney, which critics see as a forum to get around the Kyoto Protocol.

Participants at the Asia-Pacific partnership include the US, Japan, China, India, South Korea and industry representatives.

But US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has pulled out due to the ill health of Israeli leader Ariel Sharon.


Once again I point people to the Spiked article "Bring back the weathermen" as a refreshing antidote to green pessimism about the future.