poto wrote:Yeah, I agree that cold is potentially far more dangerous than warming. However, I don't think that human emissions are driving any change in climate.
This is the one position that we can be completely sure is not true. We're putting tens of gigatons of CO2 into the atmosphere every year. Some of it is absorbed (some of it is causing damage by lowering the pH of the oceans for example) while much of it remains there. We can measure pretty well how much remains. Checking the composition of the CO2 by isotopes indicates that the added CO2 is produced by our burning fossil fuels, not some natural source secretly churning it out. CO2 does not magically cease to absorb infrared light when we put it into the atmosphere just because it's inconvenient that it does.
It's unreasonable to suppose that this activity would fail to warm the atmosphere unless it had some other effect that compensated. For instance, the one skeptic at M.I.T. always used to argue that the atmosphere could get dried out by this process in such a way as to compensate (since water vapor is also a greenhouse gas). Other skeptics have been known to say that maybe we'd get increased cloud cover instead, and that this would compensate (by reflecting the light). None of these notions have panned out. Not only have they not panned out, all the evidence is in favor of there being more of a positive feedback loop (espcially by warming causing there to be more water vapor in the atmosphere, amplifying the warming) than a negative one. Additional positive feedback loops are proving to be stronger than originally expected.
But even more fundamentally, even if one of these "skeptical" notions were correct, it wouldn't mean that we were not "driving" a change in the climate; it would just mean that we were changing it in a different
way than by warming. More cloud cover, a drier stratosphere... these are changes too. Nobody has provided a reasonable scenario on which putting tens of gigatons of CO2 into the atmosphere each year could be doing just nothing
, nor can they.
poto wrote:The climate isn't static and is always changing. The sun is the primary driver of global temps.
People have been measuring the changes in solar output, and gathering evidence about its past changes. The Planck institute produced a paper on this. The past 60 years or so have had higher solar output than there had been before, helping to explain why the 1940s were as warm as they were (comparatively). The past 30 years or so have had even a bit more. The sun also changes in output during the solar cycle (as the number of sunspots rises and falls). But the last few solar cycles have not seen much change in the output of the Sun. It has essentially nothing to do with the recent observed changes in global average temperature. The recent changes also stand out relative to most of the changes that have occurred for a long time.
The people behind the misinformation campaign about these issues are very fond of trying to get people to think of warming as a question of some temperature data (which they might try to cast doubts on) going in search of an explanation. That way, the hapless layperson who is their victim can be led to suppose that attention paid to one explanation (the effect of CO2) is due to bias leading researchers not to take other explanations seriously enough. "It's so complex! How can we be sure which explanation is correct?"
But this ignores what we know of physics. CO2 due to its physical properties changes the radiation balance in the atmosphere. That this is likely to produce warming was predicted around a century ago, and now we see the prediction coming true. For this not to result in warming, there would have to be a compensating other effect produced by CO2. For decades people have looked for such a thing.
Now, suppose hypothetically that no warming were occurring. Then this would require some explanation, some cause for the trapped heat to be released some other way, or for the energy not to be arriving in the first place. Unless one found a connection between CO2 and this (hypothetical) other mechanism, the safest conclusion would be that we had both
warming due to the CO2 and cooling due to some other mechanism that were canceling each other out. To some extent, the warming has been canceled out by aerosol-caused cooling.
Suppose hypothetically that some auxiliary cause for warming were found. That also would not be sufficient reason to imagine that CO2 was having zero effect. As it happens, however, despite a lot of hunting (and some wishful thinking) no such alternative explanation has serious evidence behind it. Yet you have no trouble digging up sources that pretend that there is... because so many of those sources are based on lies.
poto wrote:While land use changes and population densities among other factors have had a measurable impact on local climate and ecological systems, this is a far cry from global climate Thermageddon. I find the scaremongering absurd and offensive.
There are sources of propaganda on the American political right that seem to be extremely keen on producing caricatures of what their opponents are saying, and they describe objective climate scientists as if they were as you say, people who try to scare us by forecasting "thermageddon". Try looking at what people are actually saying, however, not what one end of the political spectrum is portraying them as saying. What you see is people who believe there is a problem, and want to enlist others of us in helping to solve the problem. If anything, there is a tendency for them to try to put an upbeat spin on all of it, by implying that just a few "green" changes in habits will suffice to solve the problem. The fact that they are not cheerfully forecasting that everything will be fine without our doing anything at all is because they are avoiding
lying, in spite of some nice monetary incentives that have been put in front of them to do so.
Probably you can find some shrill people engaging in scaremongering, but you can also find such people on the other side. Who is claiming that we will be ruined economically if we put a tax on carbon emissions? Who sees it as the first step toward tyranny? Almost all the manipulation is coming from that side.
The lying that certain of the (best informed, especially) self-proclaimed skeptics have been engaging in is what is absurd and offensive. Having been refuted on a point, there remain sources who just keep repeating the same claim as long as it continues to sway the public. All of their own vices (being motivated by greed and politics, being willing to distort the data, trying to stifle the opposition, playing on emotions) they attribute to the other side. Mainly, though, it's just unfortunate that so many people have been misled by them.
poto wrote:These carbon tax schemes and the power that flows from them will lead to war, poverty and greater suffering for many beings.
The original sources of this kind of thinking (not to suggest you are like this yourself, mind you), for the most part have no interest in serious third world economic development; not in the first world yielding up any of its advantages in international trade to the third world, in our paying them any more for their resources (such as oil) that we consume; or in our spending more than about 0.1% of our GDP on helping them out. They also tend to support the U.S. being the country that produces half the world's armaments and supplies them around the world, including to oppressive regimes that they think are "pro-U.S.", especially if they're good oil-exporters. That the revenue gets controlled by a little oligarchy is just fine as well. If islands and coastal areas are getting inundated, well, they say this is not our fault, so we should not do much to help.
Now, however, they want to claim that one of the best ways to encourage peace and prosperity for those poor, is for us to burn fossil fuels in an unrestrained way. This is all supposed to be good for the world, because if we (especially executives and share-holders in oil companies) become richer (able to consume ever more consumer luxury items) that economic growth is supposed to trickle down to the third world... someday.
Don't let them fool you. If you would be half as skeptical of them as you are of climatologists, I bet it'd do the trick.