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Author Topic: Global Warming: What would it take to get you to change your mind?
The Rabbit
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We all like to think of ourselves as open mind yet over the years we have debated numerous topics and it seems rare that anyone ever changes their mind.

This is the topic in which we will seriously consider what type of evidence or events would cause us to change our minds.

For the sake of coherence, lets pick one topic at a time beginning with Global Warming.

Begin by stating your current position, and then explain a circumstance that would cause you to change your mind.

Remember the object is not to defend your current position, but to seriously consider what type of evidence would get you to change your mind.

[ February 03, 2005, 09:37 PM: Message edited by: The Rabbit ]

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The Rabbit
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I believe that the existing scientific data, theories and models provide compelling evidence that the global climate is changing due to the burning of fossil fuels. The probable consequences of this warming are so serious that we should take immediate action to dramatically reduce our emissions of greenhouse gases even if it requires major personal sacrafices.

I would change that position if an international meeting involving the most respected scholars on the subject concluded that there were critical flaws in the data, theories and models which rendered their conclusions entirely unreliable and these same scientists concluded that taking action based on the predictions would be premature.

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Allegra
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I think I would agree with you Rabbit. I do not know enough about the atmosphere to look at data and drawn my own conclusions so I rely on the people that can. If well-respected scientists found flaws with the previous studies, or came up with a new theory that had even more support in the scientific community I would change my mind or support the new theory respectively.
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Synesthesia
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I also agree, but I am a bit sceptical, as always.
Still, there are things to consider like the ice caps melting, a tribe of people who never talked to outsiders went on a show to talk about how the snow on top of their mountains had started to melt primaturely. There are things like threats to the plankton population slipping and summers getting hotter that point that people have some sort of impact on the climate.
But, I don't always know the whole entire picture, so I keep an open mind.

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Lyrhawn
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First, it'd be more accurate if you address it as Global Climate Change, and not Global Warming, it's a more scientifically correct name, as some of the effects of the changing environment will actually lead to a cooling trend in some parts of the world.

But I agree totally and entirely with global climate change, it's here, it's doing damage, and it needs to be halted and reversed as fast as possible.

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Glenn Arnold
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This may be a "me too" thread. I think you've said it perfectly, and since it's so inline with basic scientific process, most people are going to echo the same sentiment.

"Cold Fusion" comes to mind. I read the description of the experiment, and there were clearly parts of the experiement that were beyond my understanding, but it sounded good. So I believed it, especially since they claimed to have valid laboratory data backing up the claim. But when the truth came out, I didn't disbelieve the naysayers, I was merely disappointed.

A harder belief for me to give up was whether glass was a liquid or solid. My father had taught me that glass is a liquid, and given me all the supposed support for that position. I believed it for most of my life, until I actually started working with the glass industry. When they explained why glass was a solid, it took me awhile to allow my mind to change. I suspect the same would happen if appropriate data on Global Warming was released, but I would change my mind in due course.

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Teshi
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I believe that Global Climate Change does exist and that we should take measures (not necessarily drastic, but definately immediate) to stop it.

I think everyone has to personally accept this before we can actually make some impact, though.

Glenn: You just made me think about glass, and I realised that it is a solid. Here is my argument with myself, correct me if I am wrong.

Me: Glass can be melted "more" than it is to a "more" liquid state, therefore the state before it is melted must be the solid.

Me 2: Yes.

Am I right. Fundamentally, not technically (I'm no chemist).

[ February 03, 2005, 10:21 PM: Message edited by: Teshi ]

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Glenn Arnold
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Well, no, that's not it.

The "glass is a liquid" argument claims that glass is highly viscous, so it appears solid. But that claim is simply false.

The arguments in support of glass as a liquid are:

Glass has no melting point, first it anneals, then gradually softens and becomes less viscous. Since there is no distinct change of phase, it must never change phase. Therefore, if it's ever a liquid, it must always be a liquid. (that's the strongest argument I know of)

Then there's: the glass in the old cathedrals of Europe is thicker at the bottom, because after several centuries, it has "run downhill."

Also, windows often appear to have ripples in them, especially older windows so it must have sagged over time.

These last two are simply invalid. Glass produced at the time the cathedrals were built was always thicker at one edge, either because it was spun, or because it was poured into a not-quite-flat-and-level tray and allowed to cool. When the glass was cut into pieces and installed in a window, they installed the thicker edge at the bottom, because it's stronger that way.

Glass produced before the invention of the float glass furnace had ripples from where the glass hardened before the ripples had completely slumped to a flat surface. (and one edge was still thicker than the other, although the difference was slight enough that it usually wasn't an issue)

But solidness refers to molecular mobility, and when glass is below the anealing temperature, glass molecules are completely immobile. In fact, metal is more "liquid" than glass, since it can be deformed without breaking it. You can't put a dent in glass.

And shards of volcanic glass (obsidian) can be millions of years old, and still have sharp edges, or one piece can be sitting on another for millions of years, yet the two will not have merged at liquids would.

Also, "plate glass" at the time of the cathedrals was ground to a completely flat surface (usually reserved for mirrors). Examples of plate glass from the same era as the cathedrals (or older) show no signs of "running downhill."

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Teshi
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[Big Grin]

Thanks Glenn, now I can go a set right all those people who have told me otherwise!

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Storm Saxon
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Given its name, I would think what most people would be looking for from a global warming theory would be an ability to predict temperature fluctuations in a region, or globally, somewhat accurately.
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HollowEarth
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quote:

"Cold Fusion" comes to mind. I read the description of the experiment, and there were clearly parts of the experiement that were beyond my understanding, but it sounded good. So I believed it, especially since they claimed to have valid laboratory data backing up the claim. But when the truth came out, I didn't disbelieve the naysayers, I was merely disappointed.

But just think how awesome it would have been if it had been true. They way it worked would have allowed us to make "Cold Fusion Guns", since there was no contact between the generator and the fusing material. Don't come and closer or I'll fuse your innards.

/derail

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A Rat Named Dog
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My current position is:

I am skeptical of the idea that human society's impact on global climate is strong enough that anything but catastrophically sweeping changes to our use of fossil fuels will noticeably affect the outcome of current trends. I also am skeptical about the certainty with which some people are willing to predict the future of global climate. I suspect that most of the specific predictions will turn out to be inaccurate, and that the most effective reactions to global climate change will involve conservative and practical use of our resources now, and timely responses to specific climate changes as they present themselves later.

Since my position primarily involves skepticism, it will definitely change to one of certainty, on one side or the other, after future history has played itself out [Smile]

But to get me to believe, fervently, right now, that human impact on global climate is significant enough that we can alter the future with plausible limits to our industry and other "dirty" behaviors, let me see ...

... If I saw a new, comprehensive plan for effectively and plausibly reducing our greenhouse emissions by some huge amount, without smacking down the world economy, that might persuade me that it could be worth it.

... If over the next ten or twenty years, global climate closely mirrored our current set of predictions, that would be helpful in convincing me ... but then, that's not "right now", is it?

... Hmm, I'm really not sure. I guess I'll have to see what comes up.

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Amka
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I'm skeptical about global climate change being caused by humans as well. But it really isn't my soapbox issue, so I don't spend a lot of energy researching it.

This might be a good site, though:

http://www.climatechangedebate.org/debate_links.html

It isn't going to happen overnight, but I think that natural technological progression will lead us to cleaner and safer energy technologies. I really see no reason to panic.

Besides, people living in a mountain valley have more immediate concerns about air pollution. *hates inversions*

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Jay
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Global Warming is sort of like evolution to me.
There’s lots of speculation and some evidence, but thank goodness God is in control.

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jeniwren
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I believe that the planet's climate is changing, as I believe that most systems have cycles of processing; that this is a natural progression that has cycled many times over thousands of years. I've seen mountains in Alaska that were clearly cut by something (like a massive ice-cream scooper had cut out the entire side), and it seems logical to me, having also seen glaciers, that long-ago glaciers did that cutting. It's also obvious that those long ago glaciers aren't there anymore and could not form today because those areas are much too warm. So it was once cold there, but now it's warm, and that takes a huge climate change.

I'm willing to believe that human technology can have an influence over climate, but I have a hard time believing that it is immenently catastrophic to the earth's ability to sustain life. Further, the US has only a small footprint on the world, so stating that our behavior and our behavior alone is turning the world into a dying cesspool in which our grandchildren will be unable to live is even *more* impossible. It strikes me as generated hysteria for some other purpose. Money, power, scientific recognition -- I don't know. But it doesn't ring true, so the hype must be for some other purpose.

I believe we must take care of what we have. To that end, I applaud environmentalist efforts. But I don't buy the hype and I resent being prodded by unfounded, unsubstantiated fears. So, to change my mind, those fears would have to be substantiated. A case would have to be made to break down my viewpoint in simple compelling arguments that do not devolve to fearmongering.

I had my viewpoint on abortion changed completely by Randy Alcorn's book Pro-Life Answers to Pro-Choice Arguments. In it, he took all arguments I've ever heard to justify being Pro-Choice and rebutted them one by one with hundreds of substantiating sources in the footnotes. I think I could be pursuaded to change my mind about many things, given that kind of methodical argumentation. Including human influence on climate change.

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Belle
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I'm closely mirroring Geoff on this. I have a huge amount of skepticism that humans can influence something like the changing of the overall climate. I think if it is indeed changing, (and honestly, it's not a hot-button issue for me so I haven't researched it) it's more likely part of a cycle that would have happened whether we were here or not.

I look at the power of natural forces like tsunamis and volcanic eruptions and see that they have a much higher impact on the world than any one thing we can do. If there is a tendency toward this global warming, I don't think humans are to blame.

What would convince me to change my mind? I have no idea. Like Geoff I'd have to see a consistent trend of negative effects that could be traced directly back to human intervention. And that would have to be on a global scale, not a local one. Certainly we can mess up areas, we can destroy forests and wetlands and such - but do those have an effect on the planet's climate as a whole? I'm unconvinced.

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vwiggin
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Thanks Amka, that is a great link.

Random debate from Amka's link:

quote:
From: Ernest Pessagno [epessagn@spectra.net]
Sent: Thursday, March 12, 1998 10:16 PM
To: globalwarming@buster.law.pace.edu
Subject: human impact on global warming

Water vapor comprises ~96% of greenhouse gases. There is not much we
can do to affect this part. CO2 is ~3.3% of the GHGs. 6% of the CO2
that goes into the atmosphere is produced by man. This means that if
all human activities ceased it would stop less than 0.2% of the GHGs
from entering the atmosphere. I have a hard time believing that this
planet's climate is that sensitive, especially if you consider the
geological and biological systems that would easilly absorb a miniscule
0.2%! As far as President Clinton's statement on there being any sort
of consensus among scientists he is correct - except that it is a
consensus of skepticism among scientists that have actually looked at
the data! If anyone is interested you may email me for additional
information on reference sources about this.

quote:
From: ned.ford@sfsierra.sierraclub.org
Sent: Friday, March 13, 1998 4:01 AM
To: globalwarming@buster.law.pace.edu;
globalwarming@buster.law.pace.edu
Subject: human impact on global warming

To: The person who sent the message below
From: Ned Ford (Ned.Ford@Sierraclub.org)

I'm new enough at listservs that while I know it is possible to change the
setting so I can see who sent things, I'm not completely sure how to do it,
and I haven't wanted to post attempted command lines to the forum. It would
help a lot if everyone would sign their messages with an e-mail address. This
would also solve the problem created when messages are forwarded several
times.

If the moderator of this list can give me the right command to show the
header, and the right address to send it to, I will be grateful.

I'm sure water is 96% of greenhouse gasses more or less, by volume. It is not
the same as by impact. I don't have the relative impact figures handy, but
clearly CO2 has a much greater effect proportional to volume than H2O.
Methane is 20 times moreso than CO2.

Saying that human activity comprises only 6% of the CO2 ignores the simple
fact that the natural sources of CO2 have existed in a balance for thousands
of years. Human release of CO2 coincides with a relatively substantial
increase in the atmospheric loading of CO2. In fact, it appears that the
buildup is at present equivalent to about one third of human source emissions.

In other words, if it were possible to continue to emit only that which is
presently being absorbed by the natural cycle in addition to natural source
releases, we would only have to cut emissions by one third. This is obviously
not possible. The next question of course, is how desirable or important it
is to control the CO2 level of the atmosphere perfectly. The answer is, we
don't know. But while a lot of people seem to assume that not knowing is the
same as not needing to know, we should also consider the current trend of
emissions growth.

It took about 140 years to add 25% to atmospherice CO2. It is taking 25 years
to add the next 25% (we are actually adding about 1% annually right now). At
present trends of growth, we shall accomplish the first doubling from
pre-industrial levels within 50 years from now. (Incidentally, last night I
read an article published in January of 1959, which suggested that we should
be worried about the possibility of a doubling of CO2 which was to be expected
in 350 years from that date, at the rate of emissions growth that existed at
that time).

While a lot of people waste a lot of time trying to prove that climate change
is or is not happening at the present time, that is not the key question.
The key question is whether significant changes can be expected in fifty
years, if we double atmospherice CO2. Doubling CO2 is not only extremely
significant in the terms established by current science of historical levels,
but it will take us substantially upwards, from the present time which is
already one of the warmest periods to occur since some time in the dinosaur
era.

I don't think the comment below called for an in-depth analysis, but I will be
happy to expand upon request. I need to add one point, which is that the
constant accusation that controlling global warming carries great cost is
utter nonsense, and the sooner we put the argument on rational terms, the
sooner U.S. policy can start moving U.S. business and industry out of the
1950's, and maybe help us from getting left in the technological dust.

There is an enormous gap between current practice, and energy efficiency
technology which is economically justified today. By economically justified,
I mean that it carries a payback of less than six or eight years, and
depending on the technology and its payback, lasts long enough to save
significantly more than its incremental cost (i.e. the cost of doing whatever
else you were going to do. In some cases, this means doing nothing, and in
other cases, this means spending a whole lot of money to replace something
with an inefficient replacement instead of the efficient one).

I'm perfectly comfortable defending the notion that the efficiency gap all by
itself is sufficient to meet the Kyoto goals. To achieve a comprehensive
global warming solution requires several other things: first, it will take
more than ten years, probably fifty or seventy-five years if we stick with the
most prudent economic approach; second, we will either have to acquire
virtually all of the efficiency savings that are technologically possible,
which is not clearly possible, or we will have to include some switching from
coal to natural gas (the most the industry expects to be able to handle is
about 25% of the current coal market, but I think that would probably raise
prices too much), a significant development of renewable resources, which
ought to be fully competitive within ten to twenty years (they are competitive
today in niches that are bigger than the industry can presently fill), or the
efficiency technology will have to become cheaper and better, which is a safe
bet, but a bet, over the next ten years.

Okay, a lot of people don't believe there is that much efficiency. Aside from
the fact that they can't have looked very hard, because the information is
widely available, let's put the question on the right footing. Assuming there
is any cost-effective efficiency resource to be acquired at all, why are we
not developing programs to get at the potential, no matter how big it is, and
worry about solving global warming and the respiratory epidemic due to
particulates and NOx, when we are satisfied that the efficiency gap is closed?

It is cheaper today, to put renewables and efficiency technology in the hands
of developing nations, than it is to replicate the industrialized nations'
approach. And while it is happening quietly, it is happening. The U.S. is
largely being left out of this technology revolution, because our public
policy is so hostile to the environment and sophisticated technology, that we
are convinced that people will buy American cars no matter how second-rate
their engineering is. No, it's not just cars, of course. It's every
energy-using technology you can think of.

I never cease to be amazed at people who think they understand economics,
and
yet who are willing to believe that nuclear power has a role here. If you
have enough money to build a nuclear plant and run it, you have more than
enough money to acquire the same electric capacity with wind and
photovoltaics. Time of use is not a problem, but it requires a more
sophisticated discussion than I'm going to provide here.

Efficiency requires a different approach than generation. That makes it
tricky to establish market-based programs that cause it to happen optimally.
Not impossible, just tricky.

What happened to the U.S. that was proud to accept challenges? Are we really
a Nation of Wimps now?

- Ned

Ned Ford
Vice Chair, National Energy Committee
Sierra Club

It's a really neat website. You should all check it out.
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Lyrhawn
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quote:
I really see no reason to panic.

The thing about global climate change is that everyone wants to wait until something happens, and then they will act. But the flipside is that once it happens, it's too late, and can't really be fixed except in the extreme long term. The reason some people are so up in arms about it is that we're starting to come to a point where the ozone layer and other environmental shields can't handle the amounts of gas we are creating.

quote:
Global Warming is sort of like evolution to me.
There’s lots of speculation and some evidence, but thank goodness God is in control.

If God is in control, he isn't a big fan of mankind apparently. Second, maybe he's pissed that we screwed up his planet. Third, where is the line between events God controls and things that man controls?

quote:
but I have a hard time believing that it is immenently catastrophic to the earth's ability to sustain life. Further, the US has only a small footprint on the world, so stating that our behavior and our behavior alone is turning the world into a dying cesspool in which our grandchildren will be unable to live is even *more* impossible. It strikes me as generated hysteria for some other purpose. Money, power, scientific recognition -- I don't know. But it doesn't ring true, so the hype must be for some other purpose.
Ice ages and the like have drastically altered the earth's inhabitants over time. Ice Ages have killed of thousands of species. If you want a danger in the here and now, just look at South America and the North and South Poles, ultraviolet radiation from the sun is starting to give people who live in those areas skin cancer, and the holes in the ozone are only getting bigger. That isn't fearmongering, it's documented fact. Furthermore, the US produces something like 50% of the world's greenhouse gases, so to call our footprint on the world small is ignorant.

quote:
And that would have to be on a global scale, not a local one. Certainly we can mess up areas, we can destroy forests and wetlands and such - but do those have an effect on the planet's climate as a whole? I'm unconvinced.
Destroying forests is what effects the world on a global scale. When you consider that deforestation didn't exist four thousand years ago and all the time before that, the earth has been in a delicate balance, where the atmosphere can absorb just the amount of CO2 that the earth produces, and the forests of the world help that balance. Now we are cutting down forests by the millions of acres, and pumping more and more CO2 into the atmosphere. Methane, CFCs, and other Greenhouse Gases are eroding the ozone layer faster and faster, and these things have global consequences. The local effects, like soil erosion, animal extinction, soil nutrient depletion and other things are damaging yes, but pale in comparison to the devastation that will be caused by the world wide effects.

That's a good letter from the Sierra Club guy. There are obvious signs of destruction in the future, if you study and look for it. But even beyond that, greenhouse gases are harmful to humans directly. Pumping that crap into the air causes lung cancer and smog, all of which shortens our life spans. Creating renewable energy will make us energy independent, improve our health, and be a boon to the economy. Argue with the science all you want, but who can argue with that?

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Puppy
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Lyrhawn, you may have missed the point of the thread. With such a strong opinion, what would it take to change your mind?

quote:
The thing about global climate change is that everyone wants to wait until something happens, and then they will act. But the flipside is that once it happens, it's too late, and can't really be fixed except in the extreme long term.
What if it cannot be "fixed" at all? What if there is no amount of regulation that can stop the earth from getting warmer? What if the earth enters a natural warming cycle that mankind has no significant effect on, positive or negative? At that point, what do you think a proper response would be?

quote:
The reason some people are so up in arms about it is that we're starting to come to a point where the ozone layer and other environmental shields can't handle the amounts of gas we are creating.
You mention this and, lower down, a bunch of skin cancer. Honestly, I haven't heard word one about the ozone layer since the CFC ban. Do you have any new evidence to share?

quote:
If God is in control, he isn't a big fan of mankind apparently. Second, maybe he's pissed that we screwed up his planet. Third, where is the line between events God controls and things that man controls?
While I'm not a subscriber to the viewpoint you're arguing against, you do seem to have a few misunderstandings about it. From the standard conservative religious point of view, mankind is the reason for the existence of the earth, so God is more concerned for our future than for the future of "his planet". We're not just some accident that is messing up his pretty green ball. Of course, if we ruin our own environment, it still concerns God because of the effect that will have on human society.

Also, I think the main purpose of the comment you're arguing against is to say that God's intent for this world won't be frustrated. If God intends for humanity to live on for a while, we'll find a way. If he intends human society to collapse, then perhaps collapse isn't an entirely bad thing. Either way, the "right" outcome will occur, so we should relax.

Again, I'm not a subscriber to this viewpoint; not entirely. I personally think that God expects us to determine the future of this world, and if some of us can't do it right, we won't be a part of it in the end. But that's just me.

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AndrewR
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That's a good point, Puppy. God may be in control, but He may be allowing us to make our own mistakes. So if we do something that happens to wipe out half of the human population, He may allow it, since it will not completely disrupt His plans.

So just because God allows it doesn't mean that its good.

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Lyrhawn
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I can't find the article I read on the ozone layer and South America, but here's something like it
quote:
Australia, with high sunshine levels, has very high skin cancer rates. An estimated 2 out of every 3 people in most parts of the country will develop some form of skin cancer. In Queensland, where sunshine levels are greatest, the probability jumps to 3 in every 4. In 1930s America the chances of developing the more serious malignant melanoma was 1 in 1500. In 1991 it had soared to 1 in 150, and it is predicted to rise to as much as 1 in 75 early in the 21st century.

That's from: Skin Cancer

quote:
What if it cannot be "fixed" at all? What if there is no amount of regulation that can stop the earth from getting warmer? What if the earth enters a natural warming cycle that mankind has no significant effect on, positive or negative? At that point, what do you think a proper response would be?

To respond to that, and I guess to the main point of the thread I would say this: To change my mind we'd have to pump craploads of Greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and clearcut rainforests for the next 40 years and have absoultely nothing bad happen as a result, then I will believe that global climate change is unfounded. Second, if it really can't be changed, which I highly doubt, but let's call it a hypothetical and say it can't be and we have no effect on it. I'd say let's still try and reduce air pollution and switch to renewables for the sake of our health and economies.

The main point I was trying to get across without coming right out to say with my last big post is that the answers to a lot of questions people have about global climate change are out there somewhere, but no one really wants to take the time or has the time to go look for them. Some who would deny GCC exists just believe what they are told, or follow what the news tells them, they don't go looking for answers. You say you haven't heard anything on the OZONE layer since the CFC ban was passed, there've been a lot of developments however, they just don't make the news, because they don't have anything to do with Britney Spears, the economy or war in a foreign country.

In closing, I'll apologize for going beyond the call of the thread's main question. I'm a hard core tree hugger, and this is probably the one subject more than any other that will get me up in arms, and I tend to go a little overboard. Sorry [Frown]

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bCurt
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I'm also with Geoff on this. This is what we know...

  • Global Climate Change is occuring
Wow! That is a short list. We do not know the cause though there are suspicions. There is so much contradictory information out there that any drastic changes to halt a suspected cause may 1) do nothing to fix it because it ain't causin' it, 2) throw something else out-a-wack, worsening our situation or 3) result in our damaging our climate in another way.
Computer models can't even predict the past correctly, so why should we trust their predictions of the future? One minute it is discovered the ice is melting, the next it is found to be thickening in other areas (both found by submarine studies in the Arctic).

Alarmism over the environment is irresponsible. Doing nothing to improve how we treat the environment is irresponsible.

[ February 04, 2005, 03:38 PM: Message edited by: bCurt ]

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bCurt
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What would it take to change my mind? Of course, facts that don't contradict each other. Frankly, since I'm not an alarmist and I'm not a "do-nothing" I can agree and disagree with both sides.

It is easier and more fun to disagree with the alarmist side because they are so rabid and sure of themselves. The do-nothings are just complacent and selfish.

[ February 04, 2005, 03:40 PM: Message edited by: bCurt ]

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AndrewR
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What would cause me to change my mind is a sizable portion of climatologists--the experts that actually study climate--who agree that our emissions are not causing the warming.

Sorry to all those who don't, but I do have faith in scientists. They are a contentious lot who usually like nothing better than prove that they are smarter than the next one, so if a sizable portion come to a conclusion, it has pretty much been checked for errors all ready. Of course, you have to look at what the scientists actually say rather than what the news reports, since reporters often sensationalize results. But if most climatologists agree that global climate change is occurring, it is doubtlessly our best educated guess at this time.

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The Rabbit
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quote:
posted February 03, 2005 10:07 PM                   
First, it'd be more accurate if you address it as Global Climate Change, and not Global Warming,

Yes, I've made that point here several times my self, but it made the title too long.
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A Rat Named Dog
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Lyr, please don't take my reminder about the thread topic as a criticism or a dismissal! I appreciate your views as much as anyone else's here, and I think we'd all say the same.

quote:
Some who would deny GCC exists just believe what they are told, or follow what the news tells them, they don't go looking for answers.
First of all, the "you're only believing what you're told" is an easy accusation to throw at either side in almost any debate. Most people don't know or read as much as they could on a topic. That isn't enough of an accusation to invalidate their opinions.

Second, "GCC" undoubtedly exists. I mean, North America used to be practically encased in ice, so clearly, the climate changes. We've spent the last few centuries in the midst of a relative cold spell. Before then, it was warm for a few centuries, and before THEN, it was cold.

I think only the most die-hard Bible literalists could ever even attempt to make a case for a completely unchanging global climate, and to so, they would have to stretch way beyond what even the evidence they value suggests.

The issue isn't whether or not the climate of the world is in a state of flux, but rather, what the specific causes and effects of modern trends are, and what policies will most benefit mankind's future here.

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fugu13
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Its worth pointing out we have some fairly potent evidence of humans effecting environmental change on a grand scale -- take a look at israel, for instance (hint: it used to have a lot more green stuff in places that are now desert).

We are able to consume huge rivers, and we can do it so offhandedly that we must strictly watch ourselves so that we don't (take a look at California).

Humans can have very direct impacts on the environment in this way. Heck, here's another example: the Nile flood plain. We have dramatically changed the character of the local environment there.

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bCurt
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quote:
What would cause me to change my mind is a sizable portion of climatologists--the experts that actually study climate--who agree that our emissions are not causing the warming.

I want to note that at this site a petition can be found signed by 17,200 (when I last checked) scientists who agree to the statement:

quote:

There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gasses is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere and disruption of the Earth's climate.

No, they are not all climatologists.
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Lyrhawn
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I'll go along with what you said about it being an easy claim to say that "you only believe what you are told.

quote:
The issue isn't whether or not the climate of the world is in a state of flux, but rather, what the specific causes and effects of modern trends are, and what policies will most benefit mankind's future here.
I believe

I was only speaking to the issue of man's effect on GCC.

[Edit to add: Don't know about that site with the scientists. Plus, there are just as many that disagree]

[ February 04, 2005, 04:56 PM: Message edited by: Lyrhawn ]

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Glenn Arnold
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This whole issue of belief is one of historical perpsective, especially, our own personal history, since we have no experience outside of our own lifetimes.

On top of that is that accurate measurements of worldwide temperatures have been recorded only recently, in the grand scheme of things.

So when we see a chart showing earth's "average temperatures" over the last million years or so, it's hard to grasp how such a chart could be accurate. In order to understand it you would have to have personal experience with the study of tree rings or gases trapped in arctic ice, ocian currents, and so forth. Very few people have real experience working with that of data.

So we really have to take the word of the experts. And as I see it, the scientists that study global warming (or whatever you want to call it) are in agreement that the earth is warming up, and that human activity is at least partially responsible for that. The naysayers are arguing from ignorance, based on specious reasoning.

Which brings me to this quote:

quote:
Global Warming is sort of like evolution to me.
There’s lots of speculation and some evidence, but thank goodness God is in control.

This simply isn't a position anyone can afford to take, and I'm glad to see arguments against it from the theistic veiwpoint. Like Dagonee in the other thread, I feel like biting my tongue off, because any contribution I make will be discredited merely by virtue of my perspective.

But we come down to a Pascal's wager type situation: Either global warming is real or it's not. If it's not, then it doesn't matter what you believe, but if it is, then "remaining skeptical" and doing nothing is a really bad bet.

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SausageMan
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I find arguing about this topic extremely tiresome. I know little about it, and have little influence on it even if I did know anything.

In fact, I will make no judgments on anyone here, but I get the feeling that this is just one of those topics that people like to take sides on just so they can argue about something.

Liberals like to yell about how this is going to be the end of the world as we know it, and we must stop it now or we will die. Often the link between the problem and human fallacy is drawn, as one of their favorite hobbies is talking about how much humans suck.

Conservatives, on the other hand, absolutely refuse to agree on anything with liberals, so they immediately take the side that global warning isn't even happening, that it's nothing to worry about, and any scientist who believes otherwise is not to be trusted.

I have no opinion here, if you haven't figured that out yet. I'm tired of arguing about things I know nothing about.

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Glenn Arnold
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Since I finished posting last I looked at this: (provided by the link)

quote:
Global Warming Petition
We urge the United States government to reject the global warming agreement that was written in Kyoto, Japan in December, 1997, and any other similar proposals. The proposed limits on greenhouse gases would harm the environment, hinder the advance of science and technology, and damage the health and welfare of mankind.

Sorry, but this doesn't make any sense. Limiting greenhouse gases would harm the environment? Bull. Harm the economy? Sure. Guess what I think.
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bCurt
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quote:
Don't know about that site with the scientists. Plus, there are just as many that disagree
My only point is that there is no overwhelming consensus of the cause of Global Climate Change being manmade.
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The Rabbit
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quote:
My only point is that there is no overwhelming consensus of the cause of Global Climate Change being manmade.
As an scientist involved in Atmospheric research I beg to disagree.

From the American Chemical Society

quote:
The overwhelming balance of evidence indicates that reducing greenhouse gas emissions is the prudent and responsible course of action at this time. Although vigorous climate research is certainly needed to reduce uncertainties and to identify potential adverse effects, it should not forestall prudent action now to address the issue. ACS believes that public and private efforts today are ePssential to protect the global climate system for the well-being of future generations.
link

From the American Geophysical Union

quote:
Human activities are increasingly altering the Earth's climate. These effects add to natural influences that have been present over Earth's history. Scientific evidence strongly indicates that natural influences cannot explain the rapid increase in global near-surface temperatures observed during the second half of the 20th century.

Human impacts on the climate system include increasing concentrations of atmospheric greenhouse gases (e.g., carbon dioxide, chlorofluorocarbons and their substitutes, methane, nitrous oxide, etc.), air pollution, increasing concentrations of airborne particles, and land alteration. A particular concern is that atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide may be rising faster than at any time in Earth's history, except possibly following rare events like impacts from large extraterrestrial objects.

link

From the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine

quote:
The Earth's surface temperature has risen by about 1 degree Fahrenheit in the past century, and surface temperatures have risen at a substantially greater rate than average in the past two decades. The changes observed over the last several decades are likely because of human activities

. . . the cooling trend in the Earth's stratosphere -- documented by satellite data since 1979 --- is so pronounced that it would be difficult to explain through natural variability alone. The cooling is believed to be partially a result of the buildup of greenhouse gases and the depletion of stratospheric ozone, which warms the atmosphere at low levels but cools it at high levels.

link

Every Scientific Organization with which I am familiar has made similar statements. Although you may find individual scientists who disagree, every body of scientists that has been convened to reveiw the subect in the past decade has come to the same conclusion. I have been present at many scientific conferences where Global Climate Change research has been presented. Although there are still many uncertainties, there is an overwhelming concensus among experts in the filed that human activity is changing the global climate now and that the results of this grand experiment are likely to be catastrophic.

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Dagonee
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Rabbit, could you point to a source that explains the means by which they've tied the observed rise in tempatures to man-made causes? I'm sure there's more there than the correlation of the rise in tempatures with the industrial revolution, but I've never seen a comprehensive lay summary of the reasoning behind it.
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The Rabbit
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Dag, I will try to explain some of the reasoning.

First, it is well established that the concentrations of CO2, methane and other trace greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are increasing rapidly. The rate of increase far exceeds anything that has happened in the past ~150,000. This is not in question. But it raises the question of what is causing this rise.

Although several hypotheses have been suggested, there are numerous independent measures that support the hypothesis that human activity and in particular the burning of the fossil fuels are responsible. For example, fossil fuels contain virtually no C14 and have slightly different levels of other isotopes. Atmospheric carbon and well as the carbon contained in all living things and things that have been dead for less than a few thousand years contain much higher levels of C14. The observed increase in CO2 and other carbon compounds in the atmosphere has been accompanied by a decrease in the C14 levels in the atmosphere -- this is consistent with what is expected from the burning of fossil fuels.

A similar effect could have been caused by major volcanic eruptions, but there has not been enough volcanic activity in the past century to account for the changes we have observed in the atmosphere. On the other hand, the changes observed in the atmosphere match models the incorporate fossil fuel burning very accurately.

The conclusion here is that the scientific evidence that we are making a significant change in the composition of the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels is very strong.

The next step is to determine whether this change in the atmospheric composition is causing observed changes in global atmospheric temperatures. There are a variety of things which we believe have caused global climate change in the past. These include changes in the solar flux, massive volcanic eruptions, and changes in CO2 and methane levels in the atmosphere.

Of these three, changes in the solar flux would cause either heating or cooling at every level in the atmosphere. Volcanic activity would cause cooling of the planets surface but heating of the upper atmosphere. Changes in greenhouse gases would cause heating of the surface but cooling of the upper atmosphere, which is what we are observing. Scientists have been unable to find any other mechanism that would explain the trends observed.

To summarize, we have very reliable measurements that the levels of CO2 and methane in our atmosphere are rising rapidly and strong evidence to support that this rise is due to the burning of fossil fuels. We have well established theories which suggest that this type of change in the composition of the atmosphere should be expected to cause a warming of the atmosphere near the surface of the earth and a cooling of the upper atmosphere. We have measured cooling of the upper atmosphere and warming of the planets surface. No other theory has yet been proposed which could explain the simultaneous rise the earths surface temperatures and the cooling in the upper atmosphere.

The scientific controversies in the field of Global Climate Change, and there are many uncertainties in the field, do not call any of what I've written above into question. The controversies arise over details of the models, which would tell us exactly how severe climate change will be and how rapidly it will occur. These question include uncertainties about how much of the CO2 we emit will be taken out of the atmosphere by the oceans and the terrestrial biosphere, about ocean currents, about feed back effects that might lead to larger releases of methane, about changes in cloud cover that would result from increased temperatures and increased particulate, about scattering and absorption of radiation due to particulate matter and a host of other factors. Recent research in nature investigated how many of these uncertainties are likely to impact key model predictions. The results indicate that we are most likely under predicting the severity of global climate change because of these uncertainties.

[ February 04, 2005, 07:08 PM: Message edited by: The Rabbit ]

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Dagonee
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Thanks, Rabbit. I'd seen plenty on the concentration issue itself, but had never seen a comparison of the possible mechanisms for the climate change before.
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The Rabbit
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I should also have noted that we have no evidence that there has been any channge in the solar flux in the past century nor have their been volcanic eruptions or meteor impact large enough to cause long term climate changes.

[ February 04, 2005, 07:13 PM: Message edited by: The Rabbit ]

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The Rabbit
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quote:
thank goodness God is in control.
The problem with this attitude is that it could be used to justify inaction of any kind.

How would you respond if some one said "I don't think we should pass laws against abortion. I'm not sure whether a fetus is really a human or not, thank goodness God is in control."

"I won't issue a warning because I don't know if this intelligence report of an imminent terrorist attack is true or not. Thank goodness God is in control."

"I don't know if the killings in the Sudan are really genocide, thank goodness God is in control".

"I don't know if vaccinations are safe for my children, thank goodness God is in control."

"I don't know if I should hit the breaks or just run over the kid who is jay walking. Thank goodness God is in control."

Do I need to go on, or have I made my point.

[ February 04, 2005, 08:22 PM: Message edited by: The Rabbit ]

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Storm Saxon
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Yeah, that bugged me, too.
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Amka
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Frankly, I'm more worried about deforestation as a cause of the increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than fossil fuel burning.
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Alcon
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quote:
Global Warming is sort of like evolution to me.
There’s lots of speculation and some evidence, but thank goodness God is in control.

Oh good heavens Jay. Global Warming is no where near Evolution in terms of scientific proof. Evolution is almost entirely accepted by scientists as fact (save for the few who have a conflict between it and religious beliefs). Its not that there is 'some evidence and lots of speculation", to anyone who knows anything about science evolution is for all intents and purposes proven. There's so much evidense for it its not even funny and it has little trouble dealing with the vast majority of attacks on it.

The only people who really have trouble with it are those with strong religious beliefs to the contray.

Now Global Warming on the other hand, there is some evidense for it. But exactly what is going to happen and what that evidense means is under heavy debate right now among the scientists who study it. There are many different predictions supported by different people. For the most part you want to take what you hear about it with a grain of salt.

Here is a good page on the Greenhouse Effect that is at the base of most global warming theories.

[ February 05, 2005, 02:05 PM: Message edited by: Alcon ]

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Shigosei
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I would still like to see a little more satellite data on the rate of change in temperature, but for the most part I agree that the earth is warming (or cooling in some places). In order to convince me that such a change is not occurring, I'd want data that clearly shows that the temperature is fluctuating around a mean over time (rather than on an upward or downward trend). Lots of data, preferrably some from climate satellites. I assume we're taking data on uninhabited areas as well as near cities, since I would expect the area around cities to become warmer as they grow regardless of whether the entire earth is warming.

The Rabbit makes a pretty good argument demonstrating why the climate change is due to fossil fuels and not other mechanisms. I'm still not sure which way to swing on what exactly is causing the climate change, but I think the evidence is good enough that we should be holding our net emissions steady. In addition to cutting back on the burning of fossil fuels (which is bad for reasons other than the release of carbon dioxide), we should be looking for ways to remove it from the atmosphere and put it into sinks. Planting more trees, for example.

Also, The Rabbit, I'd like to thank you for your refutation of the "let God take care of it." I see that as one of the hazards of believing in God--it's possible to ignore problems because "God will take care of them." Fortunately, most people don't actually depend on God to solve problems or to provide their basic needs.

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Glenn Arnold
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Rabbit,

I had forgotten that we have a veritable expert on this subject available.

[Monkeys] What some people just refuse to see.

(Must be a special occasion, I never use smileys)

Glenn

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Destineer
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quote:
Oh good heavens Jay. Global Warming is no where near Evolution in terms of scientific proof. Evolution is almost entirely accepted by scientists as fact (save for the few who have a conflict between it and religious beliefs). Its not that there is 'some evidence and lots of speculation", to anyone who knows anything about science evolution is for all intents and purposes proven.
To be fair to Jay, many creation science people tend to confuse evolution with theories about how life might have arisen from non-living material, which are quite speculative.
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Glenn Arnold
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quote:
To be fair to Jay, many creation science people tend to confuse evolution with theories about how life might have arisen from non-living material, which are quite speculative.
So to be fair to him, we're supposed to forgive him for not knowing the difference?
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Dagonee
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quote:
To be fair to Jay, many creation science people tend to confuse evolution with theories about how life might have arisen from non-living material, which are quite speculative.
Many lay evolution science people tend to confuse the two, also.
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