Saturday, January 24, 2009

Question of the Day

Do you think that anthropogenic global warming is real?

29 comments:

sleepwriter said...

NO.

I think we need to be better stewards of the world around us but the earth has been much much hotter and much much cooler periodically throughout history. We didn't cause that.

Presently, we are in a ten year cooling trend. Hysteria about warming is a political ruse to sell carbon credits.

sleepwriter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
truevyne said...

I don't even know what that means...

Stresspenguin said...

Fake.

I'm waiting for Ashton Kutcher to come out and declare that we've all been punk'd!

In all seriousness, you're asking a two part question. As a layperson in this field, I chose, with my limited knowledge, to believe that the planet is getting warmer. As far as it being anthropogenic, I think global systems are so complex and our knowledge base is so limited (yet growing very rapidly) that we cannot say definitively one way or the other.

As far as what we should do about it, well, that's not the question of the day. :-)

John Wilks said...

Given that other planets in the solar system have also warmed and given that the recent drop in solar activity has contributed to a mild 2008, my guess is that our role in climate change is overstated.

That said, burning petroleum and coal based hydrocarbons does seem like a bad idea for a long list of reasons.

In other words, even if we aren't causing drastic climate change, we still need better, cleaner, more renewable sources of energy.

willdeuel said...

My training in interpreting scientific data reminds me that correlation can be proven, causation cannot. Therefore I believe that the majority of data suggest anthropogenic global warming is likely.

To answer the question directly: is anthropogenic global warming real? Prolly.

rocksalive777 said...

No. I believe anthropogenic accelerated climate change is real, though.

John said...

truevyne -- it means global warming caused by human activity.

truevyne said...

John,
I don't mind showing my ignorance. YES, I believe humans could be contributing to global warming. We are careless and wasteful with the resources given freely to us, and human behavior is negatively effecting the earth.

While environmentalism is not my religion, I am concerned.

Richard Hall said...

Yes, of course.

bob said...

No

I believe that environmental fanatics like to espouse this to promote drastic measures reguardless of expense.
Manufacturing a false emergency is an easy way to manipulate the gullible.

doodlebugmom said...

Yes.

JD said...

No! For us to think that humans are the sole cause of this is a little egotistical. Should we be better stewards of the world we have been entrusted with? Yes!

Regardless of what side of the fence you are on, everyone should see this video, or read Bjorn Lomborg's book Cool It!"

The facts speak for themselves. I love his comments about trying to spend billions to save 1 polar bear when we could save hundreds each year if there was a ban on hunting them, at a tremendously reduced cost.

PAX
JD

Jeff Lutz said...

I guess as meteorologist I'll weigh in on this. It is my belief that we are having an effect, but I feel as willdeuel said that correlation does not prove causation. The modeling that climate scientists to me have yet to be bared out. They often predict more warming than happens. Also, there is a discrepancy in the data sets. One is based on the surface observations, which if we are lucky goes back with much more than a couple hundred years, not to mention the instrumentation has been changed over the years and many times the tolerance of the instruments (i.e. thermometers) are +/- 2F. The rises of temperatures have yet to rise above the noise of the instrumentation.

The other data set which is of the whole atmosphere is from the satellites. They have only monitoring since the early 1980s. They have seen little to no change.

I believe that most of the climate change is based on natural phenomena, with some minor enhancement by dumping pollutants in the air.

With all that said, however, I think we do a terrible job at taking care of God's creation. Our stewardship is pretty much non-existent and centered on us being self serving. So I'm all for looking for cleaner and cheaper energy options. If that reverses the climate change and I'm proven wrong well then cool. I'm not hurt by being proven wrong.

BruceA said...

Yes, it's real.

BruceA said...

sleepwriter -

Presently, we are in a ten year cooling trend. Hysteria about warming is a political ruse to sell carbon credits.

Not true. The ten hottest years on record are, in order,

1998
2005
2003
2002
2004
2006
2007
2001
1997
1995

And preliminary data from 2008 show that it will replace 1995 as the 10th hottest. Now, while it's been ten years since we've set a new record hottest year, the data clearly do not show anything like a "cooling trend."

John said...

Ditto what John Wilks said. I'm only guessing, because we have scientists who disagree with each other. It's an issue of other people's facts; other people with knowledge that I cannot reasonably acquire disagreeing vehemently with each other.

So I really only have my BS detector to go on, and it beeps a bit when I see people flying around on corporate jets and living in huge mansions saying that the earth is dying. Like Glenn Reynolds says, "I'll believe it's a crisis when the people who are saying it's a crisis start acting like it's a crisis."

What do scientists do when they believe that their planet is dying? They launch their infant children into space on rockets. Krypton, anyone? That's not happening, so I'm hesitant to believe that global warming is man-made as has been said.

JD said...

Bruce,

I hear ya man when it comes to hot years on record, but it still begs to be determined the exact cause for the warmer years. I am still under the impression that we, as humans, tend to think our place in the universe is really bigger and more impactful than it really is. Should we do our best to be good stewards God's blessings? Darn spiffy! Is it warmer because of man? Possibly, but in the grand scheme of things, unlikely. As pointed out by Bjorn Lomborg, we could do better spending the money we have on what IS and not on WHAT COULD BE. It is amazing that those in high places that are clamoring the loudest about this are those that would gain the most financially if some of these "treaties" were put into effect.

PAX
JD

Jeff the Baptist said...

No or at least I'm very skeptical. For reasons Bruce A touches upon in his comment:

"Now, while it's been ten years since we've set a new record hottest year, the data clearly do not show anything like a "cooling trend.""

Actually the data shows what is essentially a temperature plateau for the last ten years. Which means the globe is warm, but not still warming. This is an empirically observed trend that all the current modeling has missed. Not a good sign for the modeling.

I'd like to see us move away from hydrocarbons to something more renewable, but I think we need to do it by phasing in newer cleaner technologies while upgrading the old ones. Not by doing things that will, for instance, further bankrupt the domestic vehicle manufacturers.

BruceA said...

It looks like there's a lot we can agree upon even if we disagree about whether anthropogenic global warming is real.

* Flying cross country or across the ocean for a climate change summit is hypocritical.

* If humans really are responsible for climate change, many of the popular proposed solutions are stopgap measures at best, and completely ineffective at worst. A carbon tax or a cap-and-trade system will not reduce global dependence on fossil fuels; nor will fuel efficiency standards.

* On the other hand, even if human activity has no impact on climate change, a move away from fossil fuels to renewable energy still has a lot of benefits.

sleepwriter said...

Bruce, sorry to disagree, but the globe has cooled from a 1998 peak according to your list. That is ten years. 2008 was only slightly above the mean for the last 100 years.

Records only exist to the late 1800s, so we have no real "historical" record to go by and we know that it has been much warmer and much cooler throughout history.

NASA has noted the lack of solar activity, which has traditionally hinted at a cooling trend.

sleepwriter said...

Jeff, I think you assessment is spot on. I also agree with Bruce when he says that flying around to warming summits is hypocritical. I think we all agree that good stewardship of our planet is in order and that moving away from burning carbon fuel is a good idea.

I just reject the notion that we have any clue about warming trends. We have a bit over 100 years of data to work with and that is simply not enough to proclaim that a slight warming (and that is all we have had) is not absolutely normal.

Great discussion!

JD said...

Consider the following articles:

Scientist predicts Mini Ice Age

Earth on the Brink of Ice Age

Sun Blamed for Warming of Earth and Other Worlds

Study: Sun's Changes to Blame for Part of Global Warming

There is more and more evidence that a large factor for "global warming" is due to solar activity. One article, in particular, looks at the other planets in the solar system having the same issues with heat as Earth.

Bruce, on your last post, I can agree with those three points. Did you watch Bjorn Lomborg's video?

PAX
JD

jockeystreet said...

I think so. I don't "know" so, but it seems plausible. People that I have no reason to disbelieve and who have much more knowledge of the matter than me say it's so. So, you know, I go with that.

I get that there's some disagreement among the experts. But this is the sort of situation where I think a little caution might be in order, where you play it safe and make sort of a wager. I mean, if the scientific community was at a 50/50 split (I don't think the dissenters are anywhere near that level, but lets say they were), if both sides had equally plausible arguments and no reason for us to think their judgment was tainted (like, links to the oil lobby, or substantial stock in solar panels)... wouldn't it make more sense to act is if the people saying that we ARE causing it were right?

Because we could get it wrong either way. If we try to reduce emissions and behave more responsibly and so on and so forth, and it turns out we're wrong, well, hey, not much loss. In fact, there are so many other benefits to that behavior (cleaner air, cleaner water, national security, food independence, etc, etc) that even if we were wrong, we'd benefit (assuming we made decisions wisely). On the other hand, if we don't change our behavior and we're wrong, well, we've all heard about the horrible, horrible, horrible disasters that could befall us. So, I'm a gambler... I'll say, let's act in the way that if we're wrong, we're not dead.

As to the hypocrisy of people flying around in jets to global warming conferences and such.

John, you said something like "I'll believe it's a crisis when the people saying it's a crisis act like it's a crisis." As in, when people start changing their behavior, putting it in line with what they're saying, you'll be able to take it more seriously. I have two thoughts on that.

One, I think there are plenty of people out there who are changing their behavior, who are acting like it's a crisis. Don't let the celebrities on jets represent all of us. In my own life, I stick to a strict vegan diet, shop with cloth bags, use a manual lawn mower in the summer and a shovel in the winter, spend time working on an organic farm, eat mostly local food, compost my kitchen waste (though I'm not very good at this and often make a putrid mess), recycle, get my electricity purely through solar and wind, drink out of a reusable mug, drive a gas efficient car, buy second hand goods as often as possible, and so on and on and on. I'm not alone, and I don't do nearly as much as many people I know. I've got friends who drive cars fueled by recycled vegetable oil and live in houses (well, trailers) that are entirely off the grid. Who do laundry by hand. Haven't been within six feet of plastic in the past five years. There's ecovillages popping up all over the place. There's a real movement, there's a real effort that many people are making to change their lifestyles, and it isn't driven by celebrities, it isn't in emulation of a Hollywood fad. So if your BS detector is going off and preventing you from taking it seriously... please, point it to someone else, you might get a different reading.

But the other side of that, the second point. All these lifestyle changes that people are making... they're good, they're important, sure. But they're not enough. Residents of the ecovillage nearest me grow 70% of their own food, they are employed in sustainable industries, they have built very "green" houses, they restrict automobile use. And yet their average consumption is twice the level of sustainability. That's better than the average American (most of us consume six times the sustainable level), but it's still not sustainable. An NPR piece over the summer documented the carbon emissions of two families. There was an American family similar to my own-- avid recyclers, hippies, environmentally conscious, making a real effort to consume as little as possible. And then there was a rising, middle class Chinese family that made no effort to curb their impact. The American family, of course, was responsible for more carbon emissions than the Chinese family.

The point is, we can't do this just with lifestyle changes. So much of it is institutional. So much of it is just part of the structure, the system, the culture. We need to make bigger changes, policy changes, to go hand in hand with the lifestyle changes. How do we get people to change policies? Do redesign cities and invest in innovations? Sometimes, people with clout need to fly to global warming conferences, need to lobby politicians around the world, need to get face to face with decision makers and business leaders and pundits. It might seem hypocritical, but the reality is that the positives that can come out of that by far exceed the negatives of a flight from D.C. to L.A. So, sometimes, those people ARE acting like it's a crisis by flying around in their jets and going to expensive cocktail parties... it just doesn't always seem so obvious on the surface.

BruceA said...

Historically, temperature increases have led to increased CO2, which created a feedback loop, increasing temperatures, increasing CO2, until outside forces disrupted the cycle.

Currently, humans are sending more than 21 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the air. Is it so hard to believe that the increase of CO2 could start the same kind of feedback loop?

JD -

I haven't yet watched Lomborg's video. I've got it bookmarked and will watch it when I get time.

Regarding the links from your last comment, first, warming on other planets is only speculation. We don't have any direct temperature data from anywhere but Mars, and only in a few places there, and not consistently over time. We don't really have any idea what temperature trends are like on other planets.

The sun, accoring to your link, may be responsible for "10 to 30 percent" of global warming. Other natural processes (e.g. El Nino) are likely responsible for another percentage. But are you really denying that human activity is responsible for any warming at all?

And the astronomer's prediction of a mid-century cooling may sound nice, but it's not taken seriously by climate scientists. But who knows? Maybe he understands something they don't.

sleepwriter -

1998 was an anomaly, caused by a very strong El Nino. Taken as a whole, this decade has been warmer than the 1990s. And while 2008 was cooler in the U.S., it was one of the ten hottest globally. The outlier of 1998 does not by itself mean that we are in a cooling trend. 2008, a relatively cool year for this decade, would have been the second warmest year of the 1990s.

JD said...

Bruce said:

"We don't have any direct temperature data from anywhere but Mars, and only in a few places there, and not consistently over time. We don't really have any idea what temperature trends are like on other planets."

We don't really have a long enough historical record here, either. But remember this, there is a reason that Greenland is called Greenland and when it became known as such, we were not driving cars around.

Bruce said:

"The sun, accor[d]ing to your link, may be responsible for "10 to 30 percent" of global warming. Other natural processes (e.g. El Nino) are likely responsible for another percentage. But are you really denying that human activity is responsible for any warming at all?"

1.) El Nino does not cause global warming.

2.) I am denying it in the sense that, while we may not be doing a good job being a steward of God's blessings, we have to be arrogant to think that WE are the main and only cause for global temperature change.


Bruce said:

"And the astronomer's prediction of a mid-century cooling may sound nice, but it's not taken seriously by climate scientists. But who knows? Maybe he understands something they don't."

Depends on the climate scientists commenting and their political agenda. I would rather trust hard, scientific, calculated, and correlated research than the belief that man, in the last 100 years, is causing the climate to warm when it was much warmer, historically, than it is now and man was not plentiful enough nor released as many "green house" gases. I am just not on board with the whole, "Man is a contributor and can fix this," band wagon.

BruceA said...

JD -

But remember this, there is a reason that Greenland is called Greenland and when it became known as such, we were not driving cars around.

Are you joking? Greenland's ice sheet is at least 110,000 years old. The Viking explorers had a sense of irony.

El Nino does not cause global warming.

It has a warming effect over a large part of the globe, and has been widely credited for the 1998 record temperatures. It doesn't have a lasting effect, however, El Ninos have been increasing in frequency over the last 20 years. This increase is one factor in the elevated temperature trends we've seen.

...we have to be arrogant to think that WE are the main and only cause for global temperature change.

And we would be irresponsible to think that we shouldn't take better care of the environment. But you're not claiming we shouldn't take better care of the environment, and I'm not claiming we are the main or the only cause for global temperature change.

If you don't want to answer the question, I won't be offended. But I'm going to ask again: Do you think human activity is responsible for any warming at all? We can make it a multple choice if you'd like:

What percentage of global temperature increase in the last 30 years is attributable to human activity?

(a) 0%
(b) 1 to 50%
(c) greater than 50%

I'm just curious. When you say, "No," to the title question of this post, are you saying human activity has no effect on our climate, or that it is simply not the primary cause of climate change?

JD said...

Bruce asked:

"Are you joking? Greenland's ice sheet is at least 110,000 years old. The Viking explorers had a sense of irony."

Actually, the melting ice on Greenland is allowing archaeologists to find 1,000 plus year old farming communities from the Vikings. So it was once warmer.

About El Nino, Bruce added:

"It has a warming effect over a large part of the globe, and has been widely credited for the 1998 record temperatures. It doesn't have a lasting effect, however, El Ninos have been increasing in frequency over the last 20 years. This increase is one factor in the elevated temperature trends we've seen."

El Nino does not cause global warming, but does affect weather patterns. These weather patterns cause normally arid regions to be wetter than usual and temperate regions to be drier than usual.


The biggest debate in all this is more political than faith based. The reason I posted the link for Bjorn's video is because he does a good job of looking at all aspects of this issue from a purely scientific view, as opposed to a political. It seems to me that most scientists that jump on board the human factor of global warming due so in return for govn't grants and a way to further their career. There is a great deal of pseudo-science going on, and no one wants to admit it.

From a faith standpoint, we should be doing all that we can for the environment because God gave us this earth and told us to watch over it. Is using fossil fuels wrong? No, but not extracting them in a way that does not harm the rest of the ecosystem around the drilling areas is irresponsible.

Bruce asked:

"If you don't want to answer the question, I won't be offended. But I'm going to ask again: Do you think human activity is responsible for any warming at all? We can make it a multple choice if you'd like:

What percentage of global temperature increase in the last 30 years is attributable to human activity?

(a) 0%
(b) 1 to 50%
(c) greater than 50%

I'm just curious. When you say, "No," to the title question of this post, are you saying human activity has no effect on our climate, or that it is simply not the primary cause of climate change?"


I say no because there is not enough non-happenstance empirical data to say one way or another that we are causing it. With an ecosystem as big as the earth, we cannot 100% accurately say that man is having an effect of the earth's temperature. Are there coincidences? Yes, but facts, not really. There are theories. Just like Darwin's theory of evolution. It is a theory, but so many in science believe that it is fact and they will not allow any other discussion to the contrary.

So it comes down to this, whether one believes in man made global warming or not, as Christians, we should all do what we can in our lives to be good stewards of God's blessings while here on earth.

PAX
JD

BruceA said...

JD -

I say no because there is not enough non-happenstance empirical data to say one way or another that we are causing it.

And I say you're just not looking.

So it comes down to this, whether one believes in man made global warming or not, as Christians, we should all do what we can in our lives to be good stewards of God's blessings while here on earth.

With this, I can agree. I have nothing more to say here.