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Climate change: The "other" side of the argument

by asdf Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 09:50:01 AM EST

Lost in the argumentation about the extent of climate change, or the rate, or whose fault it is, is the point that there are THREE sides to the argument. The first side is the "accepting" side, made up of the community of people who take the IPCC conclusions as a scientific concensus and want to take actions based on that view. The second side is the "denial" side, made up of people who confuse science with politics and want to base actions on wishful thinking.

The third side takes the "things are a lot worse than is widely acknowledged" view. Doomsayers and pessimists, mostly, who are gradually pulling the IPCC conclusions in the dismal direction.

One of them is James Lovelock, inventor of the Gaia theory (perhaps a bit on the questionable side?) and also inventor of the instrument used to detect the Ozone hole over the Antarctic. In the current issue of Rolling Stone magazine, his very, very pessimistic views get a good airing. Now I'm not sure whether the Rolling Stone counts as a part of the Mainstream Media (it does for a significant fraction of the American baby boom generation), but it is interesting to see that the "we're frigging doomed" conclusion is getting some press.

By 2100, Lovelock believes, the Earth's population will be culled from today's 6.6 billion to as few as 500 million, with most of the survivors living in the far latitudes -- Canada, Iceland, Scandinavia, the Arctic Basin.

Rolling Stone Magazine

Are there prominent Europeans that take this sort of view? There must be, but who are they?
by asdf on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 09:51:05 AM EST
Lovelock's prognostications are, well, terrifying to consider (especially for anyone with children).  This relates, for me, back to "Overshooting ... was Malthus right?" (http://www.eurotrib.com/story/2007/6/8/172237/5836) Lovelock would be the one who said that Malthus was too optimistic.

Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart. NOW!!!
by a siegel (siegeadATgmailIGNORETHISdotPLEASEcom) on Thu Oct 25th, 2007 at 05:06:33 PM EST
As usual we will laugh about this kind of doom day predictions in 10 or 20 years.
by fredouil (fredouil@gmailgmailgmail.com) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 01:11:57 AM EST
That alone is not a good reason to be optimistic. Today's risks do not depend on how often hothead doomsayers were wrong previous times. There are quite a few reasons to be concerned that the circumstances are changing fast now.

If disastrous developments are just around the corner, how could we anticipate that? Who is qualified to talk about dooms?

by das monde on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 03:44:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
and often mock the absurd screeches of doom that frequently circulate through the press. I have good reason for some - it is hearsay and speculation backed up all too often by zero amount of testable evidence. Comparisons to acid rain and dying forests, the ozone hole and so on are apt in that regard.

There is, however, one looming big difference.

Acid rain was addressed (although far from actually being solved).

The ozone hole was addressed and seems today to be stabilising.

The GHG, which at minimum intensify global warming and at maximum drive the whole process, are still not properly addressed, and total GHG concentration is still ramping up and accelerating. The doom scenarios ramp up accordingly.

It's chaos theory - and the longer the earth is exposed to it, the more erratic it can get - I do think that.

by Nomad on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 05:56:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The level of linearity of the climate is a clear worrrying question.. pity is too technichal... most models should work fine thinking in decade terms ... if the models are correct...

The problem is that there might be some term we do not foresee or that the level of linearity breaks down sooner than expected and irrelevant forces became stronger..

Difficult to foresee... but the more we push the parameters (as the CO2 in the atmosphere..) the more changes we will find vey upleasant scenario..

that is why glboal warming will be either a grave phenomena or a catastrophe in 100 years... who knows?

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 07:07:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Discontinuity in the dose-response relationship is a frequent phenomenon for many kinds of pollution. A typical example is the release of a toxic agent in a river. At low to moderate levels, an increase in concentration will cause a proportional increase in the mortality of fish. Beyond a certain threshold, however, there is a jump to a new state and nearly all fish die.

We might be reaching such a threshold for climate gases, as the earth system's capacity for taking up CO2 is diminishing. See this guardian article.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 09:51:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Acid rain was addressed (although far from actually being solved).

The ozone hole was addressed and seems today to be stabilising.

And, as I reported in a comment last week, some bozo in a Spanish morning radio debate was using the fact that the ozone hole was addressed to argue against the reality of global warming. "Weren't we supposed to have fried because of the ozone hole? And yet here we are!"

Pundits! Darn you all to Heck!

We have met the enemy, and it is us — Pogo

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Oct 31st, 2007 at 05:35:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The climate scientists are indeed wrong.  Unfortunately their error has been to UNDERESTIMATE the rate of arctic melting.  

I am not really sure how you spin optimism out of THAT.  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Sun Oct 28th, 2007 at 03:50:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Georgia Guidestones.
by Lasthorseman on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 07:23:15 AM EST
I thought the other side of the argument would be the warmer, greener, till the taiga, side...

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Fri Oct 26th, 2007 at 09:32:27 PM EST
There is that 500 million number again.  Curiouser and curiouser.

"Faction" four- The informed definite minority that knows and recognizes global warming as a scam to eliminate the modern western lifestyle.

by Lasthorseman on Sat Oct 27th, 2007 at 01:25:23 PM EST
Lots of people believed in something catastrophical happening in the year 2000. Big, round numbers you know. Similarly 500 millions is a better number then 487 millions or 612 millions, simply because it is  abig round number.

Would this be the faction four you refer to?

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Sat Oct 27th, 2007 at 08:41:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Out of all the numbers one can chose from certain numbers take on their own meaning to certain people. 666 for example or "The committee of 300.  I do value highly the people you mentioned in faction four however when I used the phrase faction four in reference to Big Al Gore and his global carbon tax scam it was in a rhetorical sense.  The conventional "groups" which "oppose" global warming are intentionally framed in a manner which will lead to popular acceptance.  Any marketing study group/survey/focus sessions/demographic survey would tell you this.  The Chinese factories are going to get their energy from someplace and that place will be a reduction in modern western lifestyle.
by Lasthorseman on Sun Oct 28th, 2007 at 10:22:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Now I have got around to actually reading the Lovelock intervue. It is interesting, lots of food for thought.

I find his belief in a technomanagerial solution (of sorts) a bit naïve, especially when contrasted with his bleak view of the state of the environment. It is for me hard to picture a scenario where billions die, yet the infrastructure for nuclear power is not only maintained but expanded, and most availble energy is focused on high tech food (of sort) production. I fear that a cutback to 500 millions will not go down easy with the billions that must die and that nuclear might be found more useful as weapons.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Sat Oct 27th, 2007 at 08:37:06 PM EST
"Global temperatures predicted for the coming centuries may trigger a new `mass extinction event', where over 50 per cent of animal and plant species would be wiped out, warn scientists at the Universities of York and Leeds."
by Fete des fous on Sun Oct 28th, 2007 at 02:28:52 PM EST

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