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GLOBAL WARMING SKEPTICS, please read

 
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User ID: 76175
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05/23/2006 05:34 PM
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GLOBAL WARMING SKEPTICS, please read
It is time to flip from skepticism to activism...
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[link to www.sciam.com]


The Flipping Point
How the evidence for anthropogenic global warming has converged to cause this environmental skeptic to make a cognitive flip
By Michael Shermer



Image: BRAD HINES

In 2001 Cambridge University Press published Bjørn Lomborg's book The Skeptical Environmentalist, which I thought was a perfect debate topic for the Skeptics Society public lecture series at the California Institute of Technology. The problem was that all the top environmental organizations refused to participate. "There is no debate," one spokesperson told me. "We don't want to dignify that book," another said. One leading environmentalist warned me that my reputation would be irreparably harmed if I went through with it. So of course I did.
My experience is symptomatic of deep problems that have long plagued the environmental movement. Activists who vandalize Hummer dealerships and destroy logging equipment are criminal ecoterrorists. Environmental groups who cry doom and gloom to keep donations flowing only hurt their credibility. As an undergraduate in the 1970s, I learned (and believed) that by the 1990s overpopulation would lead to worldwide starvation and the exhaustion of key minerals, metals and oil, predictions that failed utterly. Politics polluted the science and made me an environmental skeptic.


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Nevertheless, data trump politics, and a convergence of evidence from numerous sources has led me to make a cognitive switch on the subject of anthropogenic global warming. My attention was piqued on February 8 when 86 leading evangelical Christians--the last cohort I expected to get on the environmental bandwagon--issued the Evangelical Climate Initiative calling for "national legislation requiring sufficient economy-wide reductions" in carbon emissions.
Then I attended the TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference in Monterey, Calif., where former vice president Al Gore delivered the single finest summation of the evidence for global warming I have ever heard, based on the recent documentary film about his work in this area, An Inconvenient Truth. The striking before-and-after photographs showing the disappearance of glaciers around the world shocked me out of my doubting stance.



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Reducing our CO2 emissions by 70 percent by 2050 will not be enough.
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Four books eventually brought me to the flipping point. Archaeologist Brian Fagan's The Long Summer (Basic, 2004) explicates how civilization is the gift of a temporary period of mild climate. Geographer Jared Diamond's Collapse (Penguin Group, 2005) demonstrates how natural and human-caused environmental catastrophes led to the collapse of civilizations. Journalist Elizabeth Kolbert's Field Notes from a Catastrophe (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2006) is a page-turning account of her journeys around the world with environmental scientists who are documenting species extinction and climate change unmistakably linked to human action. And biologist Tim Flannery's The Weather Makers (Atlantic Monthly Press, 2006) reveals how he went from being a skeptical environmentalist to a believing activist as incontrovertible data linking the increase of carbon dioxide to global warming accumulated in the past decade.
It is a matter of the Goldilocks phenomenon. In the last ice age, CO2 levels were 180 parts per million (ppm)--too cold. Between the agricultural revolution and the industrial revolution, levels rose to 280 ppm--just right. Today levels are at 380 ppm and are projected to reach 450 to 550 by the end of the century--too warm. Like a kettle of water that transforms from liquid to steam when it changes from 99 to 100 degrees Celsius, the environment itself is about to make a CO2-driven flip.

According to Flannery, even if we reduce our carbon dioxide emissions by 70 percent by 2050, average global temperatures will increase between two and nine degrees by 2100. This rise could lead to the melting of the Greenland Ice Sheet, which the March 24 issue of Science reports is already shrinking at a rate of 224 ±41 cubic kilometers a year, double the rate measured in 1996 (Los Angeles uses one cubic kilometer of water a year). If it and the West Antarctic Ice Sheet melt, sea levels will rise five to 10 meters, displacing half a billion inhabitants.

Because of the complexity of the problem, environmental skepticism was once tenable. No longer. It is time to flip from skepticism to activism.
Waist deep in the Big Muddy
And the big fool says to push on
xxx (OP)
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05/23/2006 07:27 PM
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bump
Bubba Cotton

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05/23/2006 09:02 PM
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Methane and Global Warming


Core samples taken from old ocean sediment layers have been used to trace back in time the climate changes that have occurred over the past tens of millions of years. By analysing the incidence of different fossil shell remains of sea creatures occurring in these sediments it is possible to track the changes in the sea water temperatures and levels of atmospheric CO2 occurring at the time the shells were formed and deposited. These shells contain carbon from the CO2 in the atmosphere which was dissolved in the sea water in which the creatures lived just as takes place today.

From these records it appears that there have been short periods of only a few hundred years in the geological past when rapid increases of the Earth's temperature have occurred superimposed on top of the rise and fall of average temperatures over the longer term. For these short periods temperature rises of up to 8 degrees centigrade appear to have occurred on top of existing long term rises of 5 to 7 degrees to give temperatures up to 15 degrees centigrade warmer than today. Temperatures then fell back to the long term trend, the whole rise and fall only lasting a few hundred years.

The most likely cause of this rapid global warming over such a short period is the release of methane into the atmosphere. Methane is 60 times more powerful than CO2 as a greenhouse gas but only remains in the atmosphere for about ten years and so looses it's greenhouse effect quickly compared to CO2 which remains in the atmosphere for 100 years. CO2 would not be available in sufficient quantities to achieve the rapid warming and if CO2 was the cause then the raised temperatures would last a lot longer.

Methane hydrates occur extensively today all over the world. They consist of methane stored within unstable water bound deposits that if disturbed release the methane. They occur in major river deltas such as the Amazon delta and in old delta areas such as the Gulf of Mexico. Major rivers carry millions of tons of silt containing vegetable matter that continues to decay after the silt is deposited in the river delta. This anaerobic decay produces methane which gets trapped in the silt as methane hydrates until the conditions of water temperature and pressure change which can release the methane in vast quantities very quickly. Another form is a frozen slush/ice methane hydrate where the methane is trapped in an ice/water mixture which releases the methane when it warms up or the pressure on the ice is reduced. Frozen methane hydrates can contain 170 times their own volume of methane. These frozen hydrates occur in the seabed deposits of the Arctic Ocean.

Methane can also be trapped by permafrost layers which over-lay lower unfrozen layers of vegetable material that is decaying and producing methane which remains trapped by the frozen permafrost on top. If the permafrost layer were to melt then the methane in the layers below would escape into the atmosphere. Given the vast areas of permafrost in northern latitudes there is a significant potential for methane to be trapped that would be released if the permafrost melted as a result of global warming.

The theory for these rapid rises and falls of temperature, based on the geological records from 55 million years ago, is that gradual global warming due to some natural cause had resulted in temperatures 5 to 7 degrees centigrade higher than average ( i.e. higher than today's temperatures). At this point methane trapped in methane hydrate deposits started to be released into the atmosphere and accelerated the rate of warming. This would result in further warming releasing more methane. As the atmosphere warmed different types of methane deposits would start to be released and so a cycle of methane release leading to increased warming leading to more methane release from other areas of methane deposits elsewhere in the world would become established as global warming effected different areas of the world.


There is an intriguing photograph of what appears to be a methane plume coming up out of the Arctic ice sheet which indicates that the phenomenon described above can occur. There have also been incidences of oil drilling inadvertently triggering large releases of methane from hydrate deposits. One theory to explain the loss of ships in the so called Bermuda triangle is that they have been engulfed in a sudden methane release which reduces the buoyancy of the sea water so that the ship sinks.

So, does methane pose a threat today? Let us review the situation. We know there are extensive methane hydrate and permafrost deposits all around the world. We have evidence that we are at the beginning of a period of global warming that is probably being made worse by the continuing build up of CO2 in the atmosphere due to fossil fuel burning. Recent computer modelling incorporating the feed back effects of global warming that has already occurred suggests that by about 2050 we may start to loose the beneficial effects of the Amazon rain forest as a carbon sink. This could lead to temperature rises of 5 to 8 degrees centigrade by 2100. This would be uncharted territory and no one really knows at present how the world's environmental systems would change but we now have the evidence from the geological past. On the basis of this evidence global warming can lead to methane releases which once started would escalate. This would be the worst possible thing to happen because once started there would be no way of stopping a runaway methane global warming event. We CAN reduce our CO2 emissions from fossil fuels but we COULD NOT reduce methane emissions once they started, huge natural forces would take over and change our world. This would probably result in the melting of the Antarctic icecap which would raise sea levels by 50 metres and would completely change the climates of the world.




[link to www.hydrogen.co.uk]
Bubba Cotton

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05/23/2006 09:16 PM
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"Research suggests that rising temperatures could boost plants' methane production, which might help to retain heat and spark further temperature increases in a self-perpetuating cycle."



[link to news.nationalgeographic.com]
Bubba Cotton

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05/23/2006 09:19 PM
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The Alaskan village of Shishmaref sits on an island known as Sarichef, five miles off the coast of the Seward Peninsula. Sarichef is a small island—no more than a quarter of a mile across and two and a half miles long—and Shishmaref is basically the only thing on it. To the north is the Chukchi Sea, and in every other direction lies the Bering Land Bridge National Preserve, which probably ranks as one of the least visited national parks in the country. During the last ice age, the land bridge—exposed by a drop in sea levels of more than three hundred feet—grew to be nearly a thousand miles wide. The preserve occupies that part of it which, after more than ten thousand years of warmth, still remains above water.

Shishmaref (pop. 591) is an Inupiat village, and it has been inhabited, at least on a seasonal basis, for several centuries. As in many native villages in Alaska, life there combines—often disconcertingly—the very ancient and the totally modern. Almost everyone in Shishmaref still lives off subsistence hunting, primarily for bearded seals but also for walrus, moose, rabbit, and migrating birds. When I visited the village one day last April, the spring thaw was under way, and the seal-hunting season was about to begin. (Wandering around, I almost tripped over the remnants of the previous year’s catch emerging from storage under the snow.) At noon, the village’s transportation planner, Tony Weyiouanna, invited me to his house for lunch. In the living room, an enormous television set tuned to the local public-access station was playing a rock soundtrack. Messages like “Happy Birthday to the following elders . . .” kept scrolling across the screen.

"Traditionally, the men in Shishmaref hunted for seals by driving out over the sea ice with dogsleds or, more recently, on snowmobiles. After they hauled the seals back to the village, the women would skin and cure them, a process that takes several weeks. In the early nineteen-nineties, the hunters began to notice that the sea ice was changing. (Although the claim that the Eskimos have hundreds of words for snow is an exaggeration, the Inupiat make distinctions among many different types of ice, including sikuliaq, “young ice,” sarri, “pack ice,” and tuvaq, “landlocked ice.”) The ice was starting to form later in the fall, and also to break up earlier in the spring. Once, it had been possible to drive out twenty miles; now, by the time the seals arrived, the ice was mushy half that distance from shore. Weyiouanna described it as having the consistency of a “slush puppy.” When you encounter it, he said, “your hair starts sticking up. Your eyes are wide open. You can’t even blink.” It became too dangerous to hunt using snowmobiles, and the men switched to boats."

[link to www.newyorker.com]
Bubba Cotton

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05/23/2006 09:34 PM
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Reagan right again!

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

"Just one full-grown dairy cow can emit some 100 to 130 gallons (400 to 500 liters) of methane each day as a product of digestive microbes breaking down their grassy diet."



[link to news.nationalgeographic.com]
WOTIF

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05/23/2006 09:37 PM
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and exactly how does all this methane and other above the surface gasses HEAT THE OCEAN SEAS.

The sea ice is melting not from surface heat but from the warming water.

yet this question is NEVER addressed,

gotta keep that research money a flowing
when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro
Bubba Cotton

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05/23/2006 09:40 PM
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It's causing the air to be able to hold more heat. Hot air is the problem.
Anonymous Coward
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05/23/2006 10:57 PM
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And it causes the water to be able to hold more heat. Hot water is the problem.
Anonymous Coward
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05/23/2006 11:02 PM
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nocomment
Anonymous Coward
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05/23/2006 11:40 PM
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so why are all of the other planets warming too? where are the SUVs on Mars? It is NOT man-made. There is something else going on...
Anonymous Coward
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05/23/2006 11:40 PM
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HOt air IS the problem, all of it from the CO2 or methane is causing the heating of the seas.

You gonna make hot water bubba. You hold the match above or below the water.

The amount of snow and ice in Anartica is growing. Most of the worlds glaciers are growing. The sea ice is melting, and the "scientist" say this is from "ABOVE" the sea AIR.

LOL.

maybe someone should show them how a bunsen burner works
Anonymous Coward
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05/23/2006 11:42 PM
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that is HOT AIR IS THE PROBLEM, from all the scientist claiming CO2 and methane in the air is heating the seas. They don't know how to make hot water.


also if you check. you will find H2O is better at holding heat than either of the above gasses.

NOW, where is all that water in the atmosphere coming from. What water you say.

Look at all the flash floods and huge snowstorms happening.
Bubba Cotton

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05/24/2006 04:55 AM
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AC, it is an interesting problem to speculate about, isn't it. Methane is mostly hydrogen with some carbon. Maybe WE are the CO2 problem.
Anonymous Coward
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05/24/2006 05:39 AM
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Maunder minimum.
Anonymous Coward
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05/24/2006 05:42 AM
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The Maunder Minimum and Climate Change: Have Historical Records Aided Current Research?
[link to www.stsci.edu]
Anonymous Coward
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05/24/2006 05:46 AM
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5. Is Global Warming Solar or Man-made?

The vested interests on both sides of the argument between the ``greenhouse'' party and the ``solar warming'' party are obvious. Scientifically, the meteorologists, climatologists, and atmospheric physicists, who were responsible for ``discovering'' the human contribution to the terrestrial greenhouse effect, have been the most consistent champions of its importance, while the solar physics community, and especially those interested in solar-terrestrial relations, have increasingly stressed the possible importance of the long-term variations of the solar constant as the chief cause of climate change. Both communities tend to take the change for granted, and to neglect any purely statistical or chaotic effects which could lead to excursions of the Earth's surface temperature during periods of a couple of decades, without requiring a secular change either in the solar constant or in atmospheric transparency. In addition, the debate is conditioned by more powerful vested-interest groups. The oil industry in all its guises would obviously like to believe, and would like the public to believe, that greenhouse warming has been greatly exaggerated, and exploits any genuine scientific differences to undermine the credibility of the climatologists. Solar physics has been losing ground steadily compared with other branches of astrophysics during the past few decades, and many of its practicioners have seen solar climate change as a chance to move into an area where funding may be more assured. These aspirations are of course legitimate, and there is indeed much work to be done in the field, but one should be aware of the political background to this delicate issue, and not fall into the trap of using possible solar warming as an excuse for delay in reducing man-made emissions of greenhouse gases. Whatever the magnitude of the effects of these in the long term, there is no doubt that their concentration has increased dramatically in the past 30 years, and that for many reasons this is not a desirable path to follow.
[link to www.stsci.edu]
Anonymous Coward
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05/24/2006 05:49 AM
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Most of the worlds glaciers are growing?
[link to www.google.co.uk]
AJ
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05/24/2006 05:53 AM
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Numerous underwater volcanoes are adding more heat, as well as the darker ice and underlying rock now becoming exposed, which holds even more heat.
AC
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05/24/2006 06:04 AM
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We are obviously doomed. I suspect most of us are about as intelligent as AC 52913.

Water can be heated from above. It just takes longer than if you heat it from below but it is heated. Heat exchange between the ocean surface and the air can at times be extremely strong.

And please tell us where all these growing glaciers are.
Bubba Cotton

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05/24/2006 06:11 AM
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"The vested interests on both sides of the argument between the ``greenhouse'' party and the ``solar warming'' party are obvious. Scientifically, the meteorologists, climatologists, and atmospheric physicists, who were responsible for ``discovering'' the human contribution to the terrestrial greenhouse effect, have been the most consistent champions of its importance, while the solar physics community, and especially those interested in solar-terrestrial relations, have increasingly stressed the possible importance of the long-term variations of the solar constant as the chief cause of climate change."

....................

I'm all for Sun research. I think it's very important. It's a matter of where one wants to focus in the carbon cycle. When we burn oil, we are burning the Sun. Same for wood, coal, atoms, ect. Whatever needs to happen to tune the balance in the cycle will happen, regardless of where one focuses their attention. Over the long term, it will work itself out. I have maybe 20 years left(maybe more/maybe(lot) less, who knows about such things!), so I may never know the answer or outcome, but like your article states, if we keep records, somewhere down the line, someone may see what's happening in a very clear way.
Anonymous Coward
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05/24/2006 06:39 AM
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For those interested in this subject, there is a new BBC programme on climate change being aired this evening.

Are We Changing Planet Earth?
Wednesday 24 May, 9pm, BBC One
David Attenborough draws on his life-long insights into our planet and presents his personal take on climate change. Part two follows next week.

And for those that cannot see it, you should be able to download it from here in a couple of days, [link to www.uknova.com]
unless the bbc decide to show it on the web.
Bubba Cotton

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05/24/2006 07:10 AM
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Thanks for the info, 17.
Anonymous Coward
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05/24/2006 08:53 AM
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No problem Bubba.
AC
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05/25/2006 12:59 AM
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Still waiting for information regarding the growing glaciers...
Anonymous Coward
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05/25/2006 03:58 AM
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Did anybody see the bbc program "are w3e changing planet earth" or yesterdays "green peter" (environmental blue peter).
In "green peter" they brought on a lady from greenpeace and the first thing the presenter said to her was, "some people say that climate change is due to natural cycles" then switched to the greenpeace lady to correct him.
And also in the BBC program changhing planet earth they brought up the solar theory and then went on with an attempt to debunk it.
It seems that the BBCs climate change week is a deliberate attempt to debunk the natural cycles theory.

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