Gut Rumbles
 

January 24, 2005

we're all gonna die--- again!

While you people up north are digging out of snowbanks and I am freezing my Cracker ass off in Southeast Georgia, stop shivering for a moment and read this. Enjoy frostbite while you can. It's all going to end soon.

The report, Meeting The Climate Challenge, is aimed at policymakers in every country, from national leaders down. It has been timed to coincide with Tony Blair's promised efforts to advance climate change policy in 2005 as chairman of both the G8 group of rich countries and the European Union.

And it breaks new ground by putting a figure - for the first time in such a high-level document - on the danger point of global warming, that is, the temperature rise beyond which the world would be irretrievably committed to disastrous changes. These could include widespread agricultural failure, water shortages and major droughts, increased disease, sea-level rise and the death of forests - with the added possibility of abrupt catastrophic events such as "runaway" global warming, the melting of the Greenland ice sheet, or the switching-off of the Gulf Stream.

Now THAT'S some serious shit to worry about when you're gonad-deep in a blizzard. Stop shoveling. We're at "the point of no return" and Mother nature is gonna melt all that snow and then fry your ass. It's THE TRUTH!!! Who are you gonna believe? You own lying eyes or the opinion of "senior politicians, business leaders and academics from around the world?"

More ominously still, it assesses the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere after which the two-degree rise will become inevitable, and says it will be 400 parts per million by volume (ppm) of CO2.

BWHAHAHAAAA!!! If you ordered a drink in a bar and the bartender mixed by "parts per million," you'd never buy another drink there. Most commercial beer is about 3.5% alcohol. If our atmosphere were a beer, and CO2 were alcohol, it would be 0.003.5% alcohol. "Non-Alcoholic Beer" is 0.5% alcohol. (I'm an English major and I don't do math. Correct my figures if I'm wrong. But I am NOT impressed with the threat of "parts per million" of a natural gas that we exhale with every breath destroying this planet.)

I don't doubt that these changes are "already in the pipeline." Do you know where these numbers come from? Some grant-seeking, anti-civilization, tree-hugging, publicity-seeking nutball shoves a hand up his own ass and grabs them from THAT pipeline.

And if this report is so "omnious," what do you think of this one?

They can't BOTH be right.

Comments

How about this number then - 20% ?

That's the amount of change in percentage of carbon dioxide over the past 100 years, as best we can tell. That's a faster change than a scientist has EVER seen in any lcimate record ever dug up. Ask any scientist who studies this stuff, and he'll tell you that the greenhouse effect is real - in fact without it the Earth WOULD be a frozen ball. No one disputes this. However, 65 millions years ago, when Africa and India and South America were farther south, when there was a global equatorial current, and the concentration of CO2 was around 480 ppm, you could go swimming in the ocean in Anchorage. In January. And you'd like it.

Now we don't have this big belt of water carrying heat all around the planet (which keeps the temperature from fluctuating so much), the amount of CO2 (which had dropped) is going up again, and there's not nearly as much forest to absorb it and turn it into wood, peat and/or soil. So there's most definitely a new change coming, and one report that says we might have partially staved off an ice age in the past doesn't have a lot to do with what might be coming. Hell, the article even says we warmed up the planet! How does that contradict what they're saying about warming up the planet NOW, when there is so much more industry and combustion, and so much less forest to pick up that extra gas? (Not just because of people cutting down trees - the planet's cooler and drier now that it has been in a long time, maybe forever, and that affects where and what trees will grow. But that's when we stepped up and took over, so we've built a civilization based on a climate set that may not be around much longer. How do we deal with that?)

And one snowstorm doesn't throw all that probable "hellzacomin" in the gutter. Just like one good rainstorm in California doesn't end a drought.

I don't want to "overwrite" given your post above, but you're comparing shovels and Chevys here. It's not valid.

CS

Posted by: Captain Sunshine on January 24, 2005 07:56 PM

CS,

Nice try, but Mr. Acidman argument against global warming involves analyzing alcohol content. Do you really think you're gonna change his mind?

Posted by: Oberon on January 24, 2005 08:19 PM

That's the amount of change in percentage of carbon dioxide over the past 100 years, as best we can tell.

Most of that came after 1950 -- but most of the measured warming was before 1950.

Of course, maybe these days cause can come after effect instead of before like when I was a kid.

Posted by: McGehee on January 24, 2005 09:05 PM

A 60% increase to a trace gas concentration in the atmosphere is still an increase in a "trace gas. "

If you tell me that OXGEN content may change, from the 20.5% to 22.0% limits that red-line for a Confined Space Entry gas test, I'll worry. Until then, hyperventilate all that CO2 you want.

That gas doesn't impress me.

Posted by: Acidman on January 24, 2005 10:15 PM

And Oberon--- was my example of PPM WRONG, because I spoke of beer instead of Gaia's delicate atmosphere?

I think I know what a PART PER MILLION is. I once did boiler water treatment.

Posted by: Acidman on January 24, 2005 10:19 PM

Well, there is a reason why they report it in parts per million. So it sounds like more.

I think the amount is really 0.036% Acidman is off by a decimal point. This is a trace element, far below argon gas (about 1% as I recall.)

Can the global warming people, with all their computer models, point to any predictions they made 10 years ago that have come true?

Can anybody believe that these modest rises in a single trace molecule in the atmosphere is going to destroy our climate? The problem is that these "scientists" can only see positive feedback, not negative feedback mechanisms in climate. If they weren't so stupid, or so political, they would realize that there must be negative feedback mechanisms at work to maintain any climate stability at all.

Another problem are the looneys. The people who see this situation as a morality play (God [Gaia] is angry and going to destroy us.) There are lots of them.

And, since the USA contributes only a minor fraction (? 20%) of this noxious chemical, upon which all plant life depends, why beat up so much on the USA over this.

Indeed, belatedly, methane gas is getting some prominence for its powerful greenhouse gas properties.

Bottom line: We do not know how to predict the weather and have no idea what the climate will be like in 100 years.

Expert opinion:
Climate is what you expect. Weather is what you get.


Posted by: joel on January 24, 2005 10:27 PM

And Oberon--- was my example of PPM WRONG, because I spoke of beer instead of Gaia's delicate atmosphere?

No, it was not wrong.

Was I wrong to think that Captain Sunshine's comment would completely fail to change your mind?

Posted by: Oberon on January 25, 2005 06:55 PM

McGehee:

Most of that came after 1950 -- but most of the measured warming was before 1950.

Not true. Evidence shows a definite warming trend from about the 1760s on to now (you can look at tree ring growth for data on length of growing season, for one. The longer the tree grows, the longer the temperature was warm enough for it to grow, and the warmer the growing year). Most of the past fifteen years have each been the warmest on record, each surpassing the last.

As for our host -

The trace gas ozone saves you from getting sunburned pretty much every day. If you could squeeze all the ozone in the atmosphere down to ground level, under normal air pressure, you'd have a layer of ozone about 1/8 of an inch thick. A couple of pennies' worth. That's a trace gas. And it's enough to block almost all (99%+) of the hard UV light that would fry you quick. Ozone is the only absorber of that kind of light in the atmosphere.

You can smell ozone at ground level at a concentration of 80 parts per billion. Once you can smell it, it's already starting to damage your lungs. Trace gases are not good for you.

You know that nasty red-brown crap in smog? That's nitrogen dioxide. It turns into acid in your lungs. All you need in the atmosphere is 60-120 parts per billion, and your visibility goes to pot, AND you get ozone going up past 150 parts per billion in the same area (since they feed off of each other). Another trace gas you should worry about.

The fact that there's "only" 360 parts per million should bother you, because CO2 is one of the best infrared absorbers around. Heat the earth gives off doesn't get into space; the CO2 stops it. So does water vapor, in parts per thousand, and methane, also in parts per million. Other gases, like nitrogen and oxygen, don't come close to matching these compounds in their heat-absorbing and reflecting capability. Orders of magnitude worth of difference. So a little change in concentration of CO2 gives a much bigger change in heat retention than a similar change in other gases.

If you want to see some potential evidence of global warming in your backyard, go look for some young beech trees in Georgia. The southern border of the state was historically the southern limit of the range for this tree. The seeds need good hard freezes to crack open - usually two weeks' worth to crack enough open to keep the stands alive. The line where that still happens is creeping northward, and south of that line the number of viable seeds has gone down. A lot.

Maybe you'd like to bump up the amount of the trace metal lead in your drinking water, or in your boilers, and see how that goes for you. I think your bar would lose customers if they started fixing drinks with parts per billion of lead, considering that 15 ppb is toxic.

But you're welcome to those drinks. You'll need them as your blood pressure goes up, and your kidneys start to fail. But I'd slip in some clean water now and then.

CS

Posted by: Captain Sunshine on January 25, 2005 11:34 PM

[I apologize to the host and others. This got really long. -CS]

To Joel -

Your post is so full of inaccuracies, you get your own comment.

Can the global warming people, with all their computer models, point to any predictions they made 10 years ago that have come true?

Yeah. Things are getting warmer. The boreal treeline creeps farther northward every year. (That's the line in the Arctic where no trees can grow, 'cause it's just too damn cold.) The Antarctic ice shelf is starting to thin out, or did you miss the iceberg the size of Rhode Island about ten years back? Polar ice is getting thinner; ask the Inuit and Eskimos who can't find enough solid ice on to hunt whales for winter meat anymore. The loss of beech tree habitat (and don't go out and find one sapling and crow about how I'm wrong. That's just ignorant.)

Can any climate model tell you exactly what's going to happen ten years from now? No. It's a MODEL, not a crystal ball. We're only now getting a handle on what is and isn't important. But the models keep getting better, and the message isn't changing much.

Can anybody believe that these modest rises in a single trace molecule in the atmosphere is going to destroy our climate?

It's not a matter of belief, sir. It's a matter of determining what explanations fit the data the best. And your belittling and factually incorrect language is again ignorant. CO2 isn't working in some vacuum - you're the one that points out feedback mechanisms. It's not the ONLY gas, just one of the most important. And it's not going to DESTROY the climate, but it's probably changing it right now, and if the climate changes faster than civilization can adapt, people could die. That's a possibility worth preventing.

The problem is that these "scientists" can only see positive feedback, not negative feedback mechanisms in climate. If they weren't so stupid, or so political, they would realize that there must be negative feedback mechanisms at work to maintain any climate stability at all.

Piss off with your "stupid" remark. You do a good job with parroting the la-la-la-la party line, but I'm not seeing any examples backing up your crap.

Here is a little primer for you on feedback mechanisms. It also states that we don't in fact know which mechanisms are the most important as yet. Scientists being honest! What a concept! Which happens all the time, if you bother yourself to get out of your little cocoon.

Here is an article on a possibly important negative feedback mechanism dubbed the Infrared Iris. Does more heat mean more clouds to hold in even more heat than they reflect back to space, or do clouds disappear when the heat increases and let more heat out? Jury's still out on what the actual direction and magnitude of the mechanism will be, but - *gasp* - scientists are actually looking at a negative feedback mechanism! Will wonders never cease? There's also the possible improved sequestration of carbon dioxide in greater plant growth to drawdown CO2 and put it in peat and wood, but that might not work out the way you want it to. See below.

And, since the USA contributes only a minor fraction (? 20%) of this noxious chemical, upon which all plant life depends, why beat up so much on the USA over this.

Twenty percent is minor? The USA dumps more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than any other country, including China and India, with their populations at, what, quadruple ours? This makes us the single biggest CO2 dumper on the planet. Go here for more info. So whatever decisions we make have a big impact on the overall economic and political approach to this potential problem.

And in case you missed it, trees are the best organism for sequestration of carbon dioxide (grasses are too small to physically measure up). But there aren't as many trees around. The global forest coverage a few hundred years ago is estimated at 6 billion hectares; now it's less than four billion (3.87 billion hectares is what I remember). So we have more CO2, and not as many trees to take it up and turn it into food and wood, and yeah, that's another potential problem.

Indeed, belatedly, methane gas is getting some prominence for its powerful greenhouse gas properties.

Well, DUH. And what does this have to do with your argument? Oh, that's something ELSE the stupid scientists missed. Actually, no, they knew about it, but global data on methane concentrations - like for most potential greenhouse gases - is only available for recent years, because global studies like this are brand-ass new. Computer modeling, for weather forecasting and for climate models, is less than twenty years old. (Pollution studies weren't serious until after World War II.) And the models are continually changing as scientists find new components to factor in. (You can't get good data on global cloud coverage without satellite photos, so that information wasn't available until, what, the 1970s? Reliably, at least.) So yeah, there's quite a lot of variation, discussion, and argument about what's exactly going on.

But a whole lot - and I would say most - of the data and models point to a probable increase in global temperature over the long term. And until someone can come up with a good counterexplanation, with facts and models and some math to back it up, a warming trend is the hypothesis that gets the most attention, and has the best chance of being right based on what we know now.

CS

Posted by: Captain Sunshine on January 25, 2005 11:52 PM

Evidence shows a definite warming trend from about the 1760s on to now (you can look at tree ring growth for data on length of growing season, for one.

1760 -- that was about the peak of a "Little Ice Age," wasn't it? Way to take data out of context, CS. You're talking about natural climatic cycles that have been known to exist within the planet's natural equilibrium for millions of years.

A scale on which tropical conditions in Alaska and glaciers in the American Midwest are both well within the normal oscillation.

If you're going to argue that human industrial activity endangers the planet, you're first going to have to show that the global climate is close to an extreme position within its normal range of conditions. And you can't -- as your tree rings demonstrate.

Posted by: McGehee on January 26, 2005 08:03 AM

And I'm not conceding your denial of my point about more warming before 1950 -- I just can't respond because I don't have the source material at hand.

Posted by: McGehee on January 26, 2005 08:05 AM

Knew I'd find it: Against the backdrop of the pre-existing trend -- that would be your "warming since the end of the Little Ice Age -- there was more warming before 1950 than since.

Posted by: McGehee on January 26, 2005 08:06 AM

Actually, the paper I was referring to went back to the early 1600s using data obtained from tree ring analysis. The wider the tree rings, the longer the growing season. The denser the wood within the ring, the higher the temperature at different times during the growing season. The data showed warming, then cooling - the Little Ice Age - then warming again. There was some speculation that human influence may have mitigated the length or depth of the Little Ice Age, but I haven't checked into that in a while.

A scale on which tropical conditions in Alaska and glaciers in the American Midwest are both well within the normal oscillation.

Ummm, no. It was a whole lot warmer in the age of the dinosaurs, when you could swim in Alaska in the "winter" - than it is now. The planet has been cooling off gradually ever since. The problem is that we as a species come along at a temperature minimum, and adapted to the planet as it is now. A warming trend will affect civilization because of where we live, how many we are, and what we need to keep living. This is worth looking at. And I agree with your post "at home" - there are plenty of other threats to the planet, and plenty of people who abuse science, in any direction you wish to choose. But there's enough evidence to warrant further investigation, and caution based on a lot of evidence is not "Chicken Little" fearmongering.

If you're going to argue that human industrial activity endangers the planet, you're first going to have to show that the global climate is close to an extreme position within its normal range of conditions. And you can't -- as your tree rings demonstrate.

Averaged over the entire planetary history, you can find much cooler and warmer conditions. This is true. Nice big playground you choose to define as "normal," incidentally. But conversely, you can't prove that evidence of your "variations" is natural, or "forced" by some catastrophe, because we don't have the evidence for that, either, in all cases. There is evidence that the rate of change in mean annual temperature and greenhouse gas concentrations in the past two hundred years has not been matched by the rate of change in natural variations over a similar time period (ice core gas samples, for example). There is also new evidence that one of the five mass extinctions - the one before the age of the dinosaurs - may have been caused by a change in climate and not by an asteroid strike. There is a marked lack of impact evidence in the strata. I'm not drawing a strict parallel between that possible explanation and the current potential problem - the mechanisms may be very different, even if they share some characteristics - but I am pointing out that "natural variation" if defined as anything not manmade is not necessarily harmless, as you seem to imply. And if human influence parallels evidence of past climate change, that is again worth looking at.

You can go here for link about the new hypothesis. If you have a link for your quote, I'd appreciate the read.

CS

Posted by: Captain Sunshine on January 26, 2005 11:25 PM

I really appreciate blogs like this one becuase it is insightful and helps me communicate with others.
thanks.also, that guy billyz, I really need to talk to you about that cure you mentioned.

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