Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Global warming - resource sites, Steele and Lomborg

Update: 19 graphs showing the evidence for global warming; they're from Open Mind, a science blog that's new to me, and looks to be really, really good.

One thing I can do locally to fight global warming is to counter the misinformation being dispensed by deniers and doubters in our neck of the blogospheric woods. So I've started doing just that; if you'd like to watch or assist, please drop by Russ Steele's NC Media Watch.

Confidential to Russ: a while back I'd asked you not to comment extensively about global warming in my comments here on NCFocus; this was because I didn't want to get sucked into tracking down and debunking the claims you passed on here. Now, with the accumulated evidence that the problem's worsening much faster than anticipated, I think debunking the denialism is essential. So, I'd like to retract my earlier restriction - you're more than welcome to come over and discuss global warming in the comments here any time now.

(FYI to others - the most valuable online 'debunking' resources have been DeSmogBlog and the climatologists' weblog RealClimate, and Open Mind. Many thanks to these sites' proprietors/contributors.)

Bjorn Lomborg has a new "no need to get alarmed" book out, and I'm told he sounds great on TV, but please do not be taken in. Over at DeSmogBlog, science journalist Chris Mooney evaluates Lomborg's reasoning and finds it deficient:
Lomborg's argument isn't that global warming is a hoax--thank goodness, we're mostly past that. Instead, he merely argues that climate change is not as big a deal as some think (e.g., Al Gore)--and further, that it doesn't make good economic sense to take dramatic steps to address the problem by imposing mandatory emissions caps.
What I found [when looking at Lomborg's treament of hurricanes] is pretty consistent with what critics say about his treatment of other matters. Lomborg seems to ignore worst-case scenarios and precautionary thinking....

From the Salon review of Lomborg's book:
The glaring error in "Cool It," and the one that disqualifies the book from making a serious contribution, is that Lomborg ignores the main concern driving the debate. Incredibly, he never mentions even the possibility that the world might heat up more than 4.7 degrees. Although he claims IPCC science as gospel, in fact the scientific body gives no single "standard" estimate as its official forecast for this century's warming....

The global warming "alarmism" that Lomborg finds so distasteful is motivated by a serious, science-driven concern that hidden within our global climate system are powerful positive feedback loops. So that as we inch up from 3 to 4 and then 4 to 5 degrees of warming, we may very well cross some temperature threshold that would trigger a couple of degrees of further warming, causing a catastrophic upward spiral in global temperatures.
But give Lomborg his whole argument. Suppose, as he believes, that Kyoto-level controls will cost a cumulative $5 trillion over the next 100 years. That is about two years' worth of increase in global output. Suppose also that we ignore Lomborg's advice and in the next few years freeze global warming pollution in the rich countries. That would mean that a century hence, our descendants, living in a much richer world, would have to wait an additional two years -- until 2109 -- until a growing global economy left them as rich as they otherwise would have been in 2107.

Will they thank us? Stabilizing emissions now will open the door for deeper reductions should our kids need to make them, and send powerful signals to the marketplace about future demand for the low-carbon, low-cost technologies that will be critical to stabilize the climate by the end of the century.

The Guardian last Saturday: State inaction on climate is a grave dereliction of duty ("Government exists to achieve tasks individuals cannot tackle alone. On the environmental crisis, it has badly failed")

Sunday's SF Chronicle editorial, The Issue Of Our Time:
The world effectively lost eight years in the effort to apply a brake to climate change while the Bush administration slowly evolved from denial to foot dragging in response to a strong scientific consensus that human activity - namely, the consumption of fossil fuels - was putting life on Earth on a collision course with disaster.


Mike M. said...

Sites like yours don't worry me a bit. You're far more interested in wallowing in your self-righteousness than actually accomplishing anything. All of your demagoguery, smear tactics, hysteria, hypocrisy, and suppression of dissent has gained you nothing but a thoroughly pissed off electorate that will prevent any meaningful legislation from being passed. In the meantime your case for co2 will weaken. All those factors that the IPCC was unable to figure into their climate models, like cloud formation and precipitation? Well, science marches on. Climatology is a young science studying an extremely complex and chaotic system. Time is on our side and when major cooling begins around 2012 you and your ilk will be forgotten.

Anna Haynes said...

> Well, science marches on.

Yes, it does and it has; leaving the anti-science folks further and further behind.

Please Mike, for your children's sake, don't get your news from oil-industry-funded propaganda outlets, get it from reputable sources. You wouldn't trust an ad to tell you the whole story, would you? Public relations is advertising; it's not journalism, and it's not science.

Think about the stuff they're feeding you, and whether any reputable, competent experts in the field find it accurate.
(Almost always, they don't - hucksters aren't truth-tellers.)

(and remember - "it is the mark of an educated man to be able to entertain an idea without accepting it"; even if you don't accept the idea that the climatologists are right, please invite it in for the evening and open-mindedly consider it. Yes, this means running the risk of changing your mind - but that's a GOOD thing, it means that you know how to use your steering wheel.)

richard said...

"All those factors that the IPCC was unable to figure into their climate models, like cloud formation and precipitation?"

IPCC reviewed models, and the data behind them, from various research papers. IPCC did not do much modeling itself.

If you (mike m) go to the IPCC site you will see that a large number of possible explanations for GW were reviewed. The climate models have been shown to be quite robust and predictive. Those who do not agree that the data largely support AGW have had the opportunity to develop credible (published in peer-review journals) alternate hypotheses. The fact that they have not been able to do so says a lot about the strength of their case.

Keachie said...

"Climatology is a young science studying an extremely complex and chaotic system. Time is on our side and when major cooling begins around 2012 you and your ilk will be forgotten."

On the one hand it can predict nothing and on the other you're darn sure there wil be cooling in 2012 ? Very interesting, do you have crystal balls ? they are prone to shattering, you know....