• Global Warming

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 • Global Warming

Posted by DavidMc at 2006-10-09 06:36 AM

Things are “hotting up” on global warming. Gore is just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak. Demonizing of climate skeptics has reached new heights with calls for them to be considered criminals. See Spiked

http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php?/site/article/1782/

The official line, as we know, is that if we don’t act immediately to significantly reduce greenhouse gases they are sure to reach levels that could very likely cause drastic climate change.

Extravagant claims occur in two areas:

1.      the growth in CO2 emissions that we can expect from a business as usual approach over the next half century; and

2.      the effect on the climate (and then the environment) of a relatively low increases in CO2 levels and other kinds of greenhouse inducing activities. First we have spurious or tenuous claims about current weather events being caused by the 0.6 degrees Centigrade warming to date (“smoking guns”). Then we have extravagant speculation about future eco-catastrophes from a doubling of CO2 over its pre-industrial level,  i.e.,  280 to 560 ppm. It is currently 380 ppm.

The neo cons (and us)  are just as embattled on this issue as Iraq.

Anyway, I’ve just added some global warming links at my home page - both skeptics and others.

See http://www.lastsuperpower.net/Members/DavidMc

I’ve also got a link there to the penultimate draft of my book called Bright Future:  Abundance and Progress in the 21st Century. Most of it is taken up with showing that nature is no obstacle to widespread affluence by the end of the century. It ends with an inchoate, but I think useful, exposition of how economic progress initially requires capitalism but then finds it an obstacle. The three page introduction and summary gives you a good idea of what the book is about.

 • Re: Global Warming

Posted by DavidMc at 2006-10-18 11:57 PM
I can recommend a draft of a new book on Al Gore's convenient nonsense.

A Skeptic’s Guide to An Inconvenient Truth
CEI WORKING PAPER
By Marlo Lewis*
September 2006
(Last Updated, September 22)


http://www.cei.org/pdf/5478.pdf


Also see the shorter 10 page piece:

Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth"
One-sided, Misleading, Exaggerated, Speculative, Wrong
by Marlo Lewis, Jr.
September 28, 2006

http://www.cei.org/pdf/5539.pdf

Big Al is doing a talk in Melbourne on November 16. From what I hear all the tickets (which were free) were gone 10 minutes after bookings opened.

 • Re: Global Warming

Posted by DavidMc at 2007-01-27 11:12 PM

Here is an interesting little item from someone at The New zealand Climate Science Coalition:

 
NEW REPORT SAYS GLOBAL WARMING IS NEGLIGIBLE, SHORT-LIVED, AND NOW ENDED

 .The draft “Summary for Policymakers of the Fourth Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has been widely leaked to the Press

Its crucial conclusion is as follows:


“It is very likely that anthropogenic greenhouse gas increases caused most of the observed increase in globally averaged temperatures since the mid-20th century”


The widely available graph of the globally averaged annual  temperature anomalies  between 1857 and 2005 shows, for the period since the mid-20th century:

 No warming between 1950 and 1978

No warming between 1998 and 2005

The only ”observed” warming over the period is from 1978 to 1998, 20 years only, out of the 55 years.

 The actual warming involved over this short period of 1978 to 1998 was 0.53ºC.

 The above statement considers that it is very likely  that  most of this 0.53ºC was caused by anthropogenic (human-induced) greenhouse gas increases. “Most” of this would be between 0.3ºC and 0.5ºC, the amount that the statement considers to be due to human influence.

 
This temperature rise is negligible. None of us would  notice if it happened instantly, let alone over 50 years.. It is below the amount considered in the weather forecasts. Yet this small temperature rise over 55 years is routinely blamed for all manner of climate disasters.

 The IPCC pronouncement is not a certain one. The term “very likely” is defined  as amounting to a probability above 90%. In other words, there is one chance in ten that they are wrong. Also, the probability is based on the opinion (or guess)  of “experts” who are financially dependent on an expectation of positive results.

 Finally,  there has been no “warming” at all since 1998, now eight years. “Global Warming” seems to have come to an end.

 This temperature record is quite incompatible with the computer climate models, so why should we believe their pessimistic forecasts for the future?

 It should also be noted that there has been negligible warming in New Zealand since 1950, and, according to the temperature record for Christchurch, there was no warming since 1910, with a maximum temperature in 1917.
 
 
Vincent Gray
75 Silverstream Road
Crofton Downs
Wellington 6035
New Zealand
Phone/Fax 064 4 9735939
"It's not the things you don't know that fool you.
It's the things you do know that aint so"
Josh Billings

These are the post 1998 figures that Gray is refering to

On page http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/temperature/hadcrut3vgl.txt
we find the temperature anomaly for each year since 1998 to be...

1998 0.526
1999 0.302
2000 0.277
2001 0.406
2002 0.455
2003 0.465
2004 0.444
2005 0.475
2006 0.422

In other words 2006 was the coolest since 2001.

 • Re: Global Warming

Posted by arthur at 2007-01-28 04:55 AM

Pointing out that only 90% certainty is claimed so there is admitted to be a 10% chance of being wrong is not a very convincing argument.

I don't know what is meant by the figures cited for "temperature anomaly" but would want to see a more "serious" refutation of the authoritative pronouncements being made. The tone of these refutations is amateurish rather than serious.

If a major fraud is being perpetuated by large numbers of climate scientists it will not be easy to refute. I would focus on the economic modelling concerning costs of inaction and proposed action and alternative action. Those strike me as better candidates for convincing refuations demonstrating that the claims are dodgy.

On the face of it I would assume that if in fact urgent action was required to deal with global warming then the action proposed would involve some sort of crash R&D program to accelerate deployable sources of energy that don't contribute to global warming and engineering projects to modify climate in the other direction and mitigation of consequences expected in the period between initiation of accelerated R&D and solutions being found.

Carbon taxes would be proposed only for genuinely taking into account "normal" (not "crash program") external costs of carbon emissions so that economic growth continues at maximum feasible rate given available resources and constraints to facilitate the R&D and other measures required to deal with this and other problems both known, unknown and unknowable.

Instead I gather the Stern report is proposing carbon taxes at levels designed to restrict emissions with an expected side effect of both raising revenue to finance R&D from the taxes and more importantly push up the prices so that it becomes attractive to invest in the R&D.

This seems to be an inherently dodgy roundabout approach reflecting the usual problem that it is easier to persuade people to regulate something than to fork out large sums of cash directly.

Detailed analysis of the economic models and alternatives would seem more productive than detailed analysis of the climate models.

 • Re: Global Warming

Posted by dalek at 2007-01-28 03:06 PM

The real problem is that feedback mechanisms that have stabilised CO2 levels for millenia may be overwhelmed. These include soil bacteria, ocean sequestration, sequestration in the arctic peat and so on. Rising temperatures also tend to make these mechanisms less effective. In a way its all about growth rate, the rate of CO2 generation due to anthropogenic sources has exceeded the growth capacity of normal evolutionary process. (The rise in CO2 levels puts this beyond dispute)

The consequence of even a 10C rise in average global temperature is that  this represents a vast increase in the captured energy in the system. This energy will assert itself by driving normal weather events to extremes (the oscillation amplitude will increase).

We should all remember that this planet was not designed by some God for the benefit of Humankind, the ecological system has no knowledge of us. It does not care about us, fluffy ducks or kittens. It is entirely blind to our wills and desires.

I have read all your global warming denial stuff, I doubt that "a major fraud is being perpetuated by large numbers of climate scientists".  I know many of these guys and let me tell you that they agonise over the things they discover in much the same way that Darwin agonised over the real meaning of evolution. There is no conspiracy.

The practical solution for power generation lies in artificial geo-thermal power, the problem here is incumbency , the existing power companies have vast investments in coal, gas and nuclear stations.

Dalec

 

 

 • Re: Global Warming

Posted by DavidMc at 2007-01-28 06:41 PM
In answer to Arthur's query about temperature anomoly, it is  is the divergence from the 1961-1990 average.

I think the fact that there has been no warming trend in the last 8 years deserves to be shouted from the roof tops. This is not controversial. It comes from party HQ.

Certainly the word "conspiracy" does not adequately describe the behaviour of the global warming industry. It's more a malaise that needs to be far better understood. One factor seems to be - "shout big problem if you want funding".  Climate scientists have a financial incentive to overstate global warming just as zoologists have an incentive to overstate any risks to their favourite specie. This is then backed up by subordination within organizations and  peer pressure. Then there is self-selection. I would assume that "concern" about the issue attracts students to a particular field.

Gaining a reasonable handle on the costs of  reducing CO2 emissions and the costs of not doing so is ultimately what really matters. Unfortunately, estimates of the latter depends quite heavily on research being done by the global warming industry. Firstly we have the estimates or projections of temperature change for given CO2 emission scenarios. Then there is the effect of the temperature change on climate. And finally the effect of climate change on humans and the natural environment.

Arthur's proposal that we do nothing that would impede economic growth now other than the (relatively minor) diversion of resources to major R&D efforts certainly appeals to me. However, I am not sure how much work would be required to develop and promote this idea. I don't know what relevent economic research is already out there.  

To the extent that this R&D is stuff we would eventually want to do anyway, the cost of CO2 abatement is then the cost of doing R&D earlier than it would otherwise have been done. I am thinking here of the fact that it makes sense to develop a range of  energy technology options regardless of global warming.

Also when thinking about  adaptation it is important to make the point that the faster economic growth the richer we will be and the more capable  of coping with climate change.


Darlec says:

The practical solution for power generation lies in artificial geo-thermal power, the problem here is incumbency , the existing power companies have vast investments in coal, gas and nuclear stations.

I think those assets would be a "problem" even in a collectively owned economy. You do not lightly discard perfectly good existing assets. Also given that global energy production will grow considerably over the next few decades there will be plenty of room for new capacity. If we average 2 per cent growth between now and 2030 (and that is not an unreasonable expectation) there will be a 60 per cent increase in capacity. Then of course there will be a lot of decommissioning over this period.




 • Re: Global Warming

Posted by dalek at 2007-01-28 07:18 PM

Average global temperatures, are of little value as an analysis tool because they do not take into account mechanisms that we do not fully understand - yet. The one undisputed statistic that really means something is the rise in CO2 in the atmosphere. Theoretical studies show that this must lead to an increase in the trapped heat in the atmosphere, I know of no reputable Physicist or climate professional who would dispute this, it is basic thermodymanics.

 It has only recently been recognised that pollutant aerosols are a major factor that increases the effective albedo of the upper atmosphere, thus mitigating to some extent for the infra red trapping effects of increased CO2.

The irony of this is that as China and South East asia clean up their air the effect of this will be diminished. In fact one US think tank has come up with the idea of injecting Sulphur Dioxide into the upper atmosphere to counteract GW!

What is also beyond dispute is that we live in an interglacial period, this means that we live in a cyclic system that is very responsive to (very) small pertubations. The simple fact that the period of past interglacials seems to be randomly distributed about a mean proves this.

People may sneer about the precautionary principle, but I ask, where is planet number two?

Dalek.

 

 • Re: Global Warming - Reference site

Posted by dalek at 2007-01-28 09:27 PM

I find this site to be good value http://www.realclimate.org/

The writers are all working scientists with good jobs that do not depend upon hyping up the situation.

They debunk some of your fellow skeptics, including that Bolt character.

I would seriously suggest that you all study it closely.

Dalek

Alternative power generation:

BTW. the idea of converting power generation to Geo Thermal is being fought tooth and nail in the power generation fora. The nuclear industry does not want it because the entire rationale for nukes is destroyed by GT, the fossil fuel people point out that they have made investments on the basis of 30+ year life cycles and want compensation. The usual "unproven technology" canards are being thrown about and the so called CO2 sequestration schemes (also "unproven technology") are offered as options. The academics want some mug to fund luxurious GT research facilities so that they can swan about writing papers for the next 10 -20 years.

It has taken over twenty years for Wind power generation to be accepted by mainstream power generation engineers; artificial Geo Thermal generation is way outside their comfort zone even though it does involve the steam cycle and hole drilling - all standard and well proven technologies.

"Solar" energy; here the greenies are dead wrong. Solar energy has only a small part to play in the energy mix, unless a completely new and very low cost long lifetime energy storage system is invented. Otherwise it fails on Annual Capacity Factor grounds alone.

 • Re: Global Warming

Posted by arthur at 2007-01-28 11:59 PM

David, "shout big problems if you want funding" is certainly a major factor.

But I suspect there is a deeper ideological attraction to the idea of some barrier to economic development that is more important than the influence of climate scientists in proposing major economic shifts.

There seems to be a desperate desire to talk about the weather rather than about the social system. Climate is just a whole lot of weather.

People (of a certain type) actually like the idea that we face constraints which require us to cut back on growth for "sustainability".

Getting into detailed arguments about climate is unlikely to be productive. Getting to grips with the economic models is going to be essential anyway as part of getting to grips with the ideology of "sustainability".

A sustainable society would be a stagnant nightmare. Development implies continuously undermining, transforming and transcending the technological and economic basis on which the existing social order rests - including the emergence of fossil fuels replacing previous sources of energy and future methods replacing fossil fuels (which may have to be accelerated due to CO2 emissions but would have had to occur anyway eventually).

Taxing carbon appeals to the "stop the world I want to get off" mentality while massive R&D for transforming the way we do energy production and transport (and our control of climate) appeals to the opposite mentality of lets speed things up so we can reach for the stars instead of remaining stuck on this stupid planet where the native hominids keep talking about the weather.

 • Re: Global Warming

Posted by bpors at 2007-01-29 01:34 AM

Arthur: But I suspect there is a deeper ideological attraction to the idea of some barrier to economic development that is more important than the influence of climate scientists in proposing major economic shifts.

 

I understand where you arew coming from Arthur,  if you can see anti development, anti technology in the climate warming debate.

 

But I see it as a technological challenge. The fumes that would spew out of  mid-nineteenth century steam engines thould would be required to power today's needs would leave us all choking to death. Its not anti development that we got rid of them.

 

I don't think you could accuse all those that are responsible for today's technologies anti-development because they have made a cleaner world.

 • Re: Global Warming

Posted by DavidMc at 2007-01-29 04:15 AM
Arthur, I think you are right about the ideological factor in society at large. However I don't know about it's relative importance among climate scientists. You may be right there too.

I'll do some more thinking before commenting on your point about taxing carbon versus massive R&D.

Dalek,  describing realclimate.org as just a bunch of typical climate scientists with no axe to grind is a bit disingenuous. I seem to recall that the site was set up by the friends of Michael Mann as a consequence of the hockey stick scandal.

Regarding your point about aerosol pollutants having a cooling effect, my understanding is that the cooling effect of sulfur emissions was counteracted by the warming effect of soot emissions.

I take your point about incumbent players in the energy industry influencing government decisions.

By artificial geothermal, I assume you mean "hot rock".  There seems to be some modest movement on that front. You've got various projects in Australia which is supposed to have the best resource what with granite only a few kilometers down. Then there is the project in Swizterland which has upset the locals by causing earth tremors. And now the recently released US DOE sponsored report is generating some interest. See New Scientist. I notice however that the report is basically asking for chicken feed funding and only expects geothermal to play a second fiddle role in electricity generation by mid century. I guess that is what you mean by "swanning about".

 • Re: Global Warming

Posted by dalek at 2007-01-29 03:05 PM

The hockey stick "scandal". Well it may be a scandal in some eyes, to me it was just another statistical argument. The problem with these arguments is that they are post hoc and deal only with the manifestation of underlying laws not with the laws themselves.

The difficulty with the climate change debate is that although the underlying physical laws are straight forward the the interaction of these laws is hugely complex. The nearest analogy that I know of would be the Darwinian theory of evolution. Becuase the system of evolution and the interaction of its components is so complex and our knowledge is incomplete there has arisen a "God of the Gaps" theory of "intelligent design".

Errors in understanding do not all stem from the theistic world view. Because of the incomplete state of knowledge of the time charlatans such as Lysenko who promoted Lamarkism were uncritically adopted by the emergent Soviet Union as Darwinian. The official endorsment of Lamarkian theory caused huge damage to Soveit agriculture and huge damage to the soviet scientific effort. (Lamarkism for those of you hopelessly mired on the other side of the CP Snow divide is the theory that characteristics acquired during life can be passed on to progeny)

The contrarian argument in the global warming debate shares certain characteristics with the "intelligent design" movement.

  • It siezes eagerly oupon technical errors by the scientists in the field and labels these errors as fraud or scandal
  • It siezes upon gaps in their knowledge and triumphantly announces that they must be wrong, accuses them of cover up etc
  • It cooks up Lamarkian style plausible alternative theories that are usually just plain wrong, and a waste of effort refuting. 

LSP at least lays out its ideological program for all to see and in this it differs from its its nutbag cohorts such as Bolt, and (best of all) ex Senator Walsh. http://www.lavoisier.com.au/

Interesting that this group takes its name from a paedophile, plaigarist and tax collector for Louis 14th  who was suitably rewarded for his efforts by the french revolutionaries. His mate Du Pont who was smart enough to get out did very well in the US I hear.

Frankly I don't understand why LSP has entered into this debate at all. All it does is identify you with the raving loonies of the right. Oh perhaps I do................

 • Re: Global Warming

Posted by DavidMc at 2007-01-30 06:43 AM
My enthusiasm for the fact that there has been no warming trend in the last 8 years has been somewhat dampened. It certainly augurs well for warming at the lower end of expectations but that is about all. Looking at the same data for the period 1978 to 1998 I noticed that you could choose a number of periods of similar length during 1978 to 1998 that had no warming trend either.

There is no warming trend between 1978 and 1986 nor between 1987 and 1996. This is despite the fact that the two periods combined had a noticeable warming trend.

I think the general point is that you need to be careful when looking at relatively short periods.

I put these figures in Excel, did charts for the various periods and added a linear trend line.

1978    -0.059
1979    0.046
1980    0.071
1981    0.11
1982    0.016
1983    0.171
1984    -0.019
1985    -0.037
1986    0.034
1987    0.178
1988    0.174
1989    0.109
1990    0.247
1991    0.203
1992    0.07
1993    0.104
1994    0.169
1995    0.27
1996    0.138
1997    0.347
1998    0.526
1999    0.302
2000    0.277
2001    0.406
2002    0.455
2003    0.465
2004    0.444
2005    0.475
2006    0.422

 • Re: Global Warming -Insurance companies and Global warming.

Posted by dalek at 2007-01-30 02:25 PM

If you want to do statistics on GW then I suggest that Insurance companies know more than most - since they bet the firm on stats every day.. Swiss re and many others have published statements on GW. 

Dalek.

 

 • Re: Global Warming

Posted by kerrb at 2007-01-31 05:37 AM
dalek,

You talk about Darwin, intelligent design, Lysenko, Global warming, religion and contrarian non religious blind faith in a stream of consciousness. I think there are some pretty big, no enormous, leaps in the way you join those dots together. I take exception to it because its not right to equate intelligent design debate with the global warming debate.

What you seem to be saying is that here at LS we go in for blind faith in contrarianism wrt global warming issue, you are suggesting that  there is some quirky consensus here that  global warming is not happening.

First up, any fair reading of this thread and others shows there is a variety of viewpoints on global warming.  For instance, in this thread David is suggesting GW is exaggerated, quoting data and also later re evaluating his opinion. Arthur is saying that probably significant global warming is a reality but that is not the main issue, that technological advances will produce the solution to this problem. Or something like that. I'm paraphrasing to make it obvious that there is a real debate here.

I'd say there are very good reasons why people ought to be skeptical about media pronouncements on the environment. A lot of this was debunked in the past by Lomborg in The Skeptical Environmentalist and there are other studies that expose how religious environmentalism can be. Environmentalism is a modern, media promoted religion. The God of Gaia and all that. If you were going to make a general statement about religious views and the environment you would have to say that it is all about the litany and impending disaster, IMO.

I think your stream of consciousness linking intelligent design to debate on environmental issues at LS is right off target. It's an issue that is complicated and does need to be discussed. It is an issue where "technical errors by scientists" and "gaps in their knowledge" are significant. That is a totally different issue to gaps in the fossil record in the intelligent design debate.

The Lysenko debate in the Soviet Union was complicated (as many scientific debates are) because the opposition to Lysenko made other, separate errors but I agree with you that the Soviet government should have stayed out of it and let the scientists have a free and open discussion.

(It's a separate issue but I'd also say that the intelligent design issues ought to be debated as well because that's the best way to handle it, not because it has any real validity)

I think in your other posts on this topic you've made good points. But you've spoilt that with your stream of consciousness post and a tendency to make "authoritative" pronouncements. I'm sorry that I can't research or debate the substantive GW issues more but I'm too busy on other issues to do that at the moment.
_________________________
Bill Kerr

 • Re: Global Warming

Posted by DavidMc at 2007-01-31 05:47 AM
According to The Australian a report to the New South Wales government predicts "disaster" for Sydney as a result of global warming. According to the newspaper story Sydney's average summer maximum temperature will rise 4.8 degrees Celsius by 2070 and average rainfall will fall by 40 per cent by 2040. Maybe the report provides more information on the dire consequences of these figures. However, the figures themselves simply tell me that Sydney rainfall will be more like Melbourne or Adelaide and summer temperatures more like Darwin or Townsville. Possibly unpleasant but certainly not apocalyptic.

We are told that heat-related deaths of people over 65  will increase almost eight fold by 2050. It would be interesting to know whether present heat-related death rates among the elderly in Darwin and Townsville are eight times higher than Sydney.  I also wonder to what extent the report takes into account the fact that 50 years from now we will simply be better able to prevent such deaths.

 • Re: Global Warming

Posted by arthur at 2007-01-31 11:12 AM
dalek writes:


LSP at least lays out its ideological program for all to see and in this it differs from its its nutbag cohorts such as Bolt, and (best of all) ex Senator Walsh. http://www.lavoisier.com.au/


Interesting that this group takes its name from a paedophile, plaigarist and tax collector for Louis 14th who was suitably rewarded for his efforts by the french revolutionaries. His mate Du Pont who was smart enough to get out did very well in the US I hear.


Frankly I don't understand why LSP has entered into this debate at all. All it does is identify you with the raving loonies of the right. Oh perhaps I do................



 I agree with kerrb that some of dalek's other points in this thread were actually relevant to the topic (eg discussion of Geothermal). Also I can understand the point of politely referring to the effect being spoiled by a "stream of consciousness" and authoritative pronouncements.


That could be more productive than my references to dalek arguing with voices in his head, if in fact dalek is willing to stop doing that and engage in rational discussion. But really, is dalek in fact willing to stop doing this and engage in rational discussion? I've asked him to stop having dialogues with voices in his head several times but he always returns to doing so. I believe he does actually try sometimes but is simply unable to control himself. Up to now he has never been asked to apologize and promise to stop doing this if he wants to continue posting here. I think the time has come for that.



This kind of drivel about paeophile plagiarist tax collectors in a thread about Global Warming is a loud proclamation of flat rejection of the basic criteria for rational discussion. Tolerating it and responding politely is tolerating either deliberate brutishness or mental illness.



I believe the fact that we are driven to responding to this kind of stuff is a symptom of being huddled together talking to ourselves and would not be happening if this web site was actually attempting to interact with the rest of the world.

 • Re: Global Warming

Posted by dalek at 2007-01-31 03:09 PM

Hey Arthur, lighten up. I sort of knew you would come down hard on my Lavaioser lacunae.  I took it from a speech I gave to the ESAA once, I thought it was funny. I do have a tendency to be flip and I am sorry if it upsets you.

Dalek

 

 

 • Re: Global Warming

Posted by dalek at 2007-01-31 04:33 PM

David,

This post by you makes my point about understanding statistics clear.

"We are told that heat-related deaths of people over 65  will increase almost eight fold by 2050. It would be interesting to know whether present heat-related death rates among the elderly in Darwin and Townsville are eight times higher than Sydney.  I also wonder to what extent the report takes into account the fact that 50 years from now we will simply be better able to prevent such deaths."

Firstly, temperature at any place on the surface of the globe is related to humidity; thus the tropics do not see the high peak temperatures that occur in Melbourne for example even though the average temperatures may be similar or higher.. You cannot extrapolate from one latitude to another. This is basic stuff.  A 4C rise in the average temperature in Melbourne would invoke peak temperatures of 50C+ on a really dry day. An average rise of 4C in the tropics would lift the peak temperature up by a degree or so - but the cyclones would be really great.

Kerry,

My point about Lysenko was deliberately made - in my view Lomborg is in the same bag. Yes I agree that dragging in Intelligent design was an indulgence.

There is a real philosophical problem that underlies all this debate and it is basically that there is a strong thread that began with the enlightenment, that "Man" is the pinnacle of creation and later evolution. thus it is inconcievable to many people that the environment is not there for us to do with as we wish (read the mad "environmental" ravings of Trotsky if you want a good example of this). The spectrum ranges from global terraforming plans of Trotsky to the nature worship of the Greenies.

I take view that this is the only environment we have and that we need to nurture and cherish it and before we mess with it either inadvertantly or deliberately we had better be very sure of what we are doing. 

 

 • Re: Global Warming the apple exercise

Posted by dalek at 2007-01-31 05:33 PM

Take the Earth and shrink it to the size of an apple - scaling everything.

Now take an apple peeler and remove the skin of the apple, in our model we have now removed all of the atmosphere and many living things, trees, mice, fluffy ducks and us. All that is left is the microbial biota and possibly some deep sea creatures.

From our point of view on the surface of the earth the sky seems to go on forever, shift your perspective to space and you can see for yourself how thin the atmosphere is relative to the Earth.

The truly amazing thing is that the atmosphere is so basically stable, it is stable because we have large water masses (An interesting exercise for the climate scientist would be to determine the minimum water mass required for stability).

Water in vapour form acts as an oscillating heat engine, add energy to the water vapour and the physical oscillations must get bigger, even though the temperature may not rise much. If there is a low water vapour level at any point of the surface the temperature rises more if you add the same amount of energy. To complicate matters the rising temperature means the air can "absorb" more water vapour and thus tend to self stabilise.  Thus you get cyclones and hurricanes in the middle latitudes where the temperatures are relatively constant and really big swings in temperatures at around Melbourne latitudes, but no cyclones.

Now this is a very very complex system, it tends to behave in a chaotic manner and is very sensitive to initial conditions. Modelling it in detail and over useful time would take far more computing power than we have at the moment.

The other reason the Earths climate is so stable is because water has both latent heat of vapourisation (which drives cyclones) and releases absorbed energy and latent heat that is involved in the transition from liquid to ice and back. An ice age is a stable state and we do not exactly know what triggers the transitions into and out of ice ages.

There are anumber of other feedbasck mechanisms but I will not go into them here

My concern is that we cannot just blithely talk about temperature rise until we really understand the ramifications in terms of the feedback mechanisms and the underlyng physics. 

Have to go:

Dalek