Saturday, February 03, 2007

IPCC Report

As an aside on scientific predictions here is a brief snippet from The Skeptical Environmentalist:

In 1970, as the first Earth Day approached, Paul Ehrlich wrote an article in The Progressive as a fictitious report to the US President, looking back from the year 2000. The ostensible report underlines how environmentalist scientists in the 1960s and 1970s had "repeatedly pointed out" that overcrowding, hunger and environmental deterioration would lead to "environmental and public health disasters." Unfortunately, people had not heeded the warnings, and Ehrlich tells us of a US that is almost unrecognizable, with a severely decimated population at 22.6 million (8 percent of current population) with a diet of 2,400 daily calories per person (less than the current African average). As an almost ironic glimmer of hope, Ehrlich does not expect that the US is faced with any immediate limits-to-growth threat of running out of resources, because of the "small population size and continued availability of salvageable materials in Los Angeles and other cities which have not been reoccupied."

The United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has released a report (PDF) on climate change with much media fan fare. The press hyped it as proving human-caused global warming and saying there are only ten years left to avoid disaster. A National Geographic News story started off with "Global warming is here, it's human-caused..." National Geographic News followed up with a story which hinted at the IPCC report may not be predicting Doomsday enough. Other events coincided with the summary release like Paris voluntarily going lights out for five minutes (after the five minutes they resumed normal polluting practices). Prince Charles celebrated his green-ness by accepting an environmentalist award (which he used a private jet that spews out 10,000 pounds of carbon dioxide an hour!)

But before you built your new house on the tallest mountain or construct Arc 2.0 you may want to learn some things.

First the report does not sit well with the global warming litany, it only is being spun like so. It disagrees with the likes of Al Gore and others by not firmly coming down on human-caused global warming. Gore and crew would like you to think there is no doubt what so ever on human-caused dramatic global warming. Robert Christopherson would go so far to yell at you and make you talk to polar bears while Heidi Cullen would strip you of all scientific rights if you did not believe in 100% human-caused dramatic global warming. To be fair the report says human-caused global warming is "very likely" man made but the fact that these scientists could not pin it down and used weasel words says something. Secondly it says global warming would continue for centuries with or without human behavioral changes. Sure this is bad but did not Al Gore say at the end of his Oscar-nominated movie which qualified him for the Nobel Peace Prize that simple and moderate changes would greatly stop global warming? Division exists in the debate, always remember that.

Catholicgauze read the report and was disappointed. No where does the report address why global warming started in the 1850s at a similar rate it advances today while human-activity was much lower than. Nowhere does it try to determine why there were several cold-snaps in the warming trend. A decrease in global mean temperature from 1900 to 1910 negated all gains from 1850 to 1900. A sudden rise in the 1930s which disasters like the dust bowl can partially be blamed on was canceled out from 1940 to the 1970s (remember global cooling?). Also not considered are previous dramatic climate changes like the Little Ice Age and the fact global warming is occurring on other planets.

Climate Change has the potential to be a serious problem, as described by Harm de Blij. However, when "leading" scientists still cannot find blame enough to convict debate is open to causes. Instead of wasting time trying to find blame and using it as a political tool to enforce treaties which impose no regulations on serious offenders like China and India, let us spend resources on efforts to prepare any needed adaption. If one believes the IPCC report, this is the only reasonable option. Wineries once existed in England and Scotland but natural climate change put an end to that during the Little Ice Age. I am not saying we should not worry about climate change. One warming trend ended the last Ice Age and raised sea levels over 300 feet so there are hazards. All I am saying is we need to be realistic and not join a Robert Christopherson-style cult of global warming.

I will leave with some news which may ease a little bit of fear. As pointed out in "Planning for sea level rise and shore protection under climate uncertainty" by Gary Yohe and James Neuman in Climatic Change in Volume 37 on page 250 estimate for sea level rise have been steadily decreasing. They were once estimated by the Environmental Protection Agency to rise 2 meters (six and a half feet!). No one today comes anywhere close to that, the IPCC only estimates 7 inches to slightly under 2 feet (talk about a margin-of-error).

If the weather man has problems getting tomorrow's weather correct imagine the problems with predicting 100 years into the future.

One geologist said this of Al Gore, "What he's doing is no less than the scare tactics used by people like Karl Rove." Dang! Finally, Delaware's chief climatologist is taking a stand against the Global Warming mania. Here is a skeptical wrap-up of other global warming going ons.


Jay@Soob said...

Thanks for providing some refreshing, non-hysterical analysis of an issue otherwise immersed in a maelstrom of rhetoric.

Further appreciated is your recognition of the virtual ignorance regarding the need to prepare for what might well be inevitable and natural. Excellent as always.

Anonymous said...

I dont even know where to begin. Global warming is taking place people. Get it into your dense heads. The vast majority of the scientific community recognize this. The only ones who dont are the likes of Bjorn Lomborg, Bush and oil companies. Science cannot be 100% sure in many issues, however it can offer a far better answer than anything else. So when scientists say that Global Warming is human caused with 90% surity, I would like for someone to provide scientific data to dispute that rather than say no for god knows what reason. Statisticians (not true environmental scientists) like Lomborg might dispute this, but the vast majority of scientists (and we're not talking 51% here) have for the most part discredited him. How can we fix a problem when we have people who do not even recognize it exists. To me personally, not recognizing that global warming is happening due to human activity is just as ludicrous as sounding like the Iranian president who denies the Jewish holocaust ever happened. In both cases the nay sayers are a minority, but the sheer ignorance still exists. It is of no surprise that the nay sayers use scientific data that in most cases is produced by SCIENTISTS who are hired by oil companies because of a vested interest. What vested interests would environmental researchers have other than to speak the truth. If global warming was not happening, then they would find another research topic to work on. But for oil companies, they have to protect their source of income until it runs out. Probably then will they recognize that, 'oh shit, global warming does really exist.' In conclusion, I recognize that the scientists might be wrong, however, the chances of that wrong are slim to none. If they happen to be wrong in the future, what is the worse thing that would have happened, other than us protecting mother earth for a bit longer. If they are right and we dont take action, the worse thing that can happen is that we really get screwed. Finally, I have to agree that China and India have to sign deals to reduce emissions. So far, they have been reluctant to sign the Kyoto Protocol just like the U.S. However, for the U.S. to use that as an excuse for not signing the protocol is simply childish. I will not do it because you will not do it. The U.S. is the single biggest contributor to CO2 emissions (25-30%). India and China dont even come close although they support 8 times the population the U.S. does. If the U.S. wants to be a true global leader (not just military), I suggest we start acting more responsibly. So if the nay sayers still want to deny what is most likely happening to the environment, no amount of logic can make sense to them.

Catholicgauze said...


Thanks! Your blogging thoughts are great as well.


I am making a whole post as a reply to your comment. Prepare to be Catholicgauzed!

Adrian said...

"Global warming has happened forever, natural cycle, blah blah blah."

So what? If it is happening (I'll go with the scientists on this one) then we need to make it stop. Climate change will lead to tremendous hardship and suffering and may even decrease the number of human beings this planet can support. Thus we need to stop it. If it is being caused partially (whether 10% or 90%) by human activity, we need to stop it. If it is caused naturally, we need to figure out some way to reverse it.

Adrian said...

Also, forgot to add, that I think the distinction between "natural" and "man-made" is totally bogus. Man-made causes are a subset of natural causes. Making an explicit distinction merely perpetuates our dream of being totally unreliant on our environment and on things (partially/mostly/totally) out of our control. Man is a subset of nature.

Catholicgauze said...

"If it is happening (I'll go with the scientists on this one) then we need to make it stop."
If global warming is mostly human caused there may be the moral and survival reasons to make it stop. However, if this warming trend is natural why must it be stopped? How many times have we been told and learned the hard way that standing in the way of nature leads to bad things?
What if global warming can be a good thing [1] regardless if it is man-made or natural?
As for your second part read the two man in/above nature posts [2]for my thoughts.

[1]Global Warming Good?.

Adrian said...

That article didn't actually list any benefits Tol thought of, it just mentioned that there might be some.

There are plenty of natural phenomena that are disadvantageous to our survival as a species. Climate change is one, species extinction is another, natural disasters, etc. "Natural" is not a synonym for "good." Over history, most species that have existed have also naturally gone extinct.

There are plenty of examples of when humans have "stood in the way of nature." Damming rivers, building dikes, genetic engineering, etc.

Catholicgauze said...

I think I didn't make my point clear. You used the example of how flooding can be a natural thing which is bad. Well sometimes (and I stress sometimes) damming in the long run can cause even more problems like a worse flood. You say we must stop global warming. Maybe we should (if it is even possible) but one must bear in mind our fix might only be temporary.

And what happens if there can be more winners than losers in global warming? Dr. Barrnet hints at that. Should Global Warming be stopped then?

Dan tdaxp said...

I'm guessing that Adrian and Catholicgauze agree 100%.

Catholicgauze is criticizing the view that "man makes nature change" by noting how we really don't know.

Adrian is criticizing the view that "man is bad" by pointing out that often nature is bad as well.