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It's too late for reduction, in other words.  Given that this argument is coming most loudly from the same folks who for the last 20 years have been denying that global warming is happening at all, then denying that it is anthropogenic...

Not so fast... look at the precious little facts first:

  • There is a greenhouse effect.  It is caused by carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxides, but mostly by water vapor.  It's a good thing.
  • The effect of any atmospheric gas is roughly logarithmic.  Increasing CO2 concentration from 0ppm to 80ppm has a lot more effect than from 300ppm to 380ppm.
  • Atmospheric composition is not the only variable that affects average temperatures, variations in Earth's orbit are another, and I'm sure there are still others.
  • From about 1940 to 1970, average temperature on Earth was falling.  Now it is rising, but is not (yet?) unusally high.
  • Currently Earth is picking up excess warmth (2W/m² or so).  That means, even if we reduce the greenhouse effect, Earth will not cool, it will just stop heating at a lower peak temperature.

Considering all this, your choice of the word "deny" is wrong, because you can only "deny" a fact you are convinced of.  There is quite some reason to doubt that significant global warming occurs, that it is human made if it occurs and that it is catastrophic if it occurs.  Don't insult the few people who still approach the topic scientifically.

Assuming there are only two options...

Who said that?  There are always at least two options: 1) do $WHATEVER (nothing, reduce CO2 emission, fertilize the ocean, pray, ...) and 2) do $WHATEVER and put up the sunscreen.  The point being made is that option 2 is always better, no matter what you chose to put in for $WHATEVER.

I have a friend who's dying of cancer.

My consolations.  But regarding the metaphor: do you know a cure for the cancer?  Likely not, for killing the patient (civilization) is out of the question.  But then again, more medication might actually be an improvement:

http://www-formal.stanford.edu/jmc/progress/

by ustenzel on Sun Oct 15th, 2006 at 03:31:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is quite some reason to doubt that significant global warming occurs, that it is human made if it occurs and that it is catastrophic if it occurs.  Don't insult the few people who still approach the topic scientifically

approach it scientifically by defying the world consensus of qualified climatologists?  I don't insult such persons, I simply ignore 'em -- as I do godbotherers, flat-earthers, perpetual-motion inventors and astrologers :-)

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Sun Oct 15th, 2006 at 04:07:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You haven't been ignoring me...

Not that I agree with ustenzel as phrased above.

by Nomad on Mon Oct 16th, 2006 at 12:22:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
well it is really the "as phrased" issue, of course.  'twas the Cato Institutional tone that tweaked my irritability...

there is always room for doubt whether I may be a philosopher dreaming that I am a butterfly, or vice versa, but this does not make jumping off tall buildings an advisable hobby :-)

ah, if we were only tardigrades...

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Mon Oct 16th, 2006 at 06:09:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Tardigrades seem only one step removed from nirvana, surely.

Good to see you back in full swing, De. You always make me scramble for the google machinations.

by Nomad on Mon Oct 16th, 2006 at 11:08:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
...jumping off tall buildings...if we were only tardigrades...

You long, perhaps, to cross the seas,
dry and floating lightly on the breeze?

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Words and ideas I offer here may be used freely and without attribution.

by technopolitical on Tue Oct 17th, 2006 at 03:05:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
aha, I am a tardigrade dreaming that I am a programmer.

that explains a lot.

The difference between theory and practise in practise ...

by DeAnander (de_at_daclarke_dot_org) on Tue Oct 17th, 2006 at 04:08:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I've been a fan of minor phyla since I was a lad.

Apologies for continued delay below. (Deadlines: crunch, crunch...)

Words and ideas I offer here may be used freely and without attribution.

by technopolitical on Wed Oct 18th, 2006 at 01:59:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There are always at least two options: 1) do $WHATEVER (nothing, reduce CO2 emission, fertilize the ocean, pray, ...) and 2) do $WHATEVER and put up the sunscreen.  The point being made is that option 2 is always better, no matter what you chose to put in for $WHATEVER.

If putting up sunscreen means "inject our atmosphere with a chemical species of which we know it also has several adverse effects besides blocking solar radiation", I'm not buying that. I do not favour the analogy of comparing the earth's climate with a human's illness, but in this case: it's chemo-therapy - it doesn't work on the long run, and the side-effects aren't pleasant either. Focus on the $WHATEVER instead.

There is quite some reason to doubt that significant global warming occurs, that it is human made if it occurs and that it is catastrophic if it occurs.  Don't insult the few people who still approach the topic scientifically.

Hopefully I am one of those in that group, but I can't completely agree there either. Global warming is pretty much undeniably there - even when there is discussion left at what scope. I'd join you if you were to state there is still uncertainty at how much of the warming can be contributed to CO2, how much to other anthropogenic influences and how much to influences outside our grasp. Also the estimates surrounding 2x[CO2] are still up in the air.

As you may know, I've been previously busy at ET to show that CO2 reduction may not necessarily be the magic bullet to solve the global warming increase - but it sure won't hurt our planet either.

by Nomad on Mon Oct 16th, 2006 at 12:28:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"...CO2 reduction may not necessarily be the magic bullet to solve the global warming increase..."

I know that you understand the topic, but a difficulty with discussion in this area is ambiguity in the language we use to describe it.

"CO2 reduction" might plausibly be read as (1) reducing CO2 concentration, or (2) reducing emissions, or even (3) reducing projected increases in emissions. These are very different, with (1) outside the range usually considered possible, (2) very challenging, and (3) feasible, but not well defined.

"Solving global warming increase" might plausibly be read as (a) reducing temperature, or (b) preventing further increases, or (c) keeping increases within some bounds considered acceptable. These are also very different. Accomplishing (a) would require (1) or a cooling fix, while (c) could be accomplished by (3) transitioning to (2). The standard of acceptability to be used in (c), however, is a matter of opinion, and the requirements for achieving any particular standard are uncertain.

Meaning (3) reminds of political games with budgets, where a "budget [or tax] cut" is actually an increase, but lower than a larger increase that someone had "projected".

Are there better terms we could use that would be short, yet make the distinctions clear?

Words and ideas I offer here may be used freely and without attribution.

by technopolitical on Mon Oct 16th, 2006 at 05:25:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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