January 09, 2004

Guest (CJG)-Global Warming

from - CJG

I have benn invited by smijer to guest blog on the topic of global warming. There are numerous arguments which claim to refute the evidence of global warming. I will try to discuss some of the more common points. First of all, the following points are well supported by out current knowledge:

1. The global temperature is increasing
2. This temperature increase is due to excess CO2 in the atmosphere.
3. The CO2 excess is anthropomoric in origin.

The consequences of global warming is certainly debateable at this point, but clearly, there will be consequences. As an objectivist, I feel that is better to react to what I feel is an inevitable eventuality.

So, here we go

Point 1. and 2.

Very few people who have engaged in rigorous debate disagree with point 1. However, some contend that the data is skewed due to measurements taken in metropolitian areas, which for a number of reasons, generate massive amounts of artificial heat.

This is true, but these effects are well known, and the data in these cities are adjusted, if needed. moreover, the data taken in rural areas supports the warming claim.

The claim that the sun has been hotter over the last fifty years is also taken into account not only in the measurements, but also in the global climate models. This effect is insignificant compared to the effect of greenhouse gases.

Point 3.

This is backed up looking at Carbon 14 levels in the atmosphere. The excess CO2 that we see in the atmosphere over has isotopic concentration of C14 akin with fossil fuels, rather than elemental carbon (from inside the Earth).

I am more than happy to discuss any points beyond these that you may have.

Now, with that said, here is what is debatable: We simply do not know what the consequences of global climate change are. The system is way too chaotic to know. However, it seems certain that glacial ice will melt, causing the oceans to rise, at least over the short term. We do see evidence of this happening currently (note that the crucial figure is glacial MASS, not area).

Another point that I would like to make is that if we ceased fossil consumption completely, the current global warming trends would still continue well into the next century. The Kyoto treaty is bad policy, and terrible for the world economy, and will prove to be completely ineffective. It is akin to flapping your arms as the plane is going down. A reasonable person would put on a parachute and bail out (i.e. adapt to the situation).

As a self professed "objectivist," Boortz is failing to use any reason on this issue. What would Ayn Rand think?


Posted by CJG at January 9, 2004 02:52 PM

Great post... thanks CJG.

univar.jpg Posted by smijer on January 9, 2004 03:00 PM
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The fact the weather system is incredibly complex -- as you pointed out, too chaotic to make long range determinations from (like whether it will snow tomorrow or not) -- and the fact that you can have an ice age and global warming at the same time (if you say so, sure) would lead me to believe that people could draw very different conclusions from the same pieces of data.

I'm not arguing that your points are wrong, just making a simple observation.

univar.jpg Posted by Mike on January 9, 2004 03:30 PM
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That is exactly my point. Global warming has been observed emperically over the last 50 years or so. At best, the models give semi-definite predicitons for what is going to happen globally. Region-to-region, the results are extremely unpredictable in the long run.

The global-scale predicitons are much more reliable. For instance, if I say that it is going to be snowing in Minneapols a year from today, you have reason to be skeptical. However, if I say that it is going to be snowing somewhere in the northern hemisphere a year from now, that is amost a certainty.

univar.jpg Posted by CJG on January 9, 2004 03:45 PM
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As far as the ice age thing, Take a look a globe sometime. Europe is much warmer than it should be, latitude-wise.

The reason is that the Gulf Stream in the Atlantic moderates the temperature there. If you short-circuit the gulf stream, the ave. temp. over Europe plunges to right around the ave. temperature of Canada.

This causes glacial ice to appear over the UK, and much of Northern Europe, so they would experience an ice age.

Note that this effect can occur with global warming, under certain circumstances (although it is an unlikely probability).

However, all of the models do seem to predict that as the global temperature increases, the ave. temperature over the North Atlantic falls.

univar.jpg Posted by CJG on January 9, 2004 03:52 PM
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Is there any downside to Europe getting cold while North America (particularly the northern/chillier parts currently with about 8" of snow in my driveway) get warmer?

univar.jpg Posted by Mike on January 9, 2004 04:27 PM
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Well, I can think of worse things...

Seriously, putting Europe under 10 feet of ice can't be good for the world economy.

univar.jpg Posted by CJG on January 9, 2004 05:14 PM
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As my grandpa used to tell me..... "son, there ain't much you can do about the weather"

univar.jpg Posted by boortzlistener on January 9, 2004 07:57 PM
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