Sunday, October 11, 2009
Al Gore infrequently takes questions about the factual assertions he makes, and when he does he acts more like the politician he was than somebody who purports to speak the "truth." See, for example, this exchange.
The best point from the journalist, Phelim McAleer, is this:
What I would like of environmental journalists like myself is [to treat] big environment the way you treat big politics, big government, and big business.
Suffice it to say that McAleer believes -- and most American conservatives would agree -- that journalists who specialize in covering the environment too often act as cheerleaders for their subject rather than as healthy skeptics of the claims made by the activists.
"Where does the money come from"
That is the take home phrase in this refreshing interview.
This was a telling video. Perhaps there is hope that "Environmentalism" still has a few Conservationists and is not completely populated by political hacks.
Then there's the problem of biased, lying journalists like McAleer. From the link:
"Gore's claim that the judge found in favor of his movie is ridiculous."
From the judicial opinion:
"Al Gore's presentation of the causes and likely effects of climate change in the film was broadly accurate."
The judge refused to stop the distribution in schools, although by leaning over backwards he did require clarifications on 9 points, referring to them as errors in scare quotes - 'errors' - basically using the plaintiffs terms while not adopting it as his own. For more info, try:
Basically, there are a few points where Gore overreached (but not 9 points), and people on my side are willing to acknowledge that. The denialists, on the other hand, will believe any nonsense supporting their position and never acknowledge error.
The judicial opinion cited above is only one shoe of a pair. The other one which needs dropping is a statement regarding the significance of anthropogenic global warming compared to say something like the sun. We can identify for example the causes and effects of the Iowa football team making it to the Rose Bowl and defeating USC, but what is the likelihood of that?
To Brian ... please enlighten me.
We had a lot of climate change over the last 50,000 years, which is a really short timeframe in the scheme of things. 30,000 years ago my house would be under a mile of ice, for example. So the potential for climate change is very real. But Man wasn't responsible for the glaciers receding, so what was? There are other factors at play that are relevant, mustn't there. I haven't heard an explanation for what they are. If we don't understand these other factors then AGW isn't even a worthwhile theory -- as not complete -- it would seem to me.
Variations in the sun's energy output -- and how much of it hits the Earth -- would seem a likely suspect. It could even just be randomness around a mean measured in thousands and millions of years -- so that climate is like weather, writ large -- but I'm simple minded.
Even if AGW were true, the politics make no sense whatsoever. A point you keep dodging.
"The Day After Tomorrow" was on TV last night. I watched a bit during Yankee game commercials. Once again New York City gets destroyed by something -- this time by a new Ice Age that hits overnight. The same writer-director did "Independence Day" where Capt Will Smith, President Bill Pulman and drunk Randy Quaid save the world from alien invasion.
In my personal hierarchy of worries ... global warming ranks higher than alien invasion ... but far down the list than "how big can the Fed grow its balance sheet" and such risks as hyperinflation, 20% unemployment and an oil shock from the Middle East.
"Basically, there are a few points where Gore overreached (but not 9 points), and people on my side are willing to acknowledge that. The denialists, on the other hand, will believe any nonsense supporting their position and never acknowledge error."
Always thee but never me? Really?
Global cooling and a new ice age, concrete melting acid rain, planet-frying ozone depletion... each one was earnestly advocated, and each one was garbage. The 'denialists' have been batting 1.00 so far, sport.
And now with the latest hits against 'climate change' (i.e., final admission that the 'hockey stick' was a load of propaganda shit; just like 'denialists' had been claiming since at least 2006 [when I signed on])...
The Earth owes a huge utility bill to the Sun. We could even price it out based on BTUs -- it'd be "astronomical."
Seriously ... if the Sun stopped shining the Earth would get really cold, really fast. Man has nothing to burn that could match the Sun for even an hour. With few exceptions, all our energy comes from the Sun directly or indirectly.
The Earth has been cooling and warming in regular cycles within a measurable band for at least the last million years. We call these cycles "Ice Ages" and they run on the order of 20,000 to 40,000 years. As a result, over the last million years Earth has repeatedly gone from no ice cover ... to a lot ... and back to just the ice cover on the poles.
The difference in global temperatures over the course of an Ice Age must trace back to the Sun somehow, as the necessary BTU differential from peak to trough is "astronomical." No Earth-bound phenomenon could explain it. Thus, many scientists logically believe that the principal cause of Ice Ages are changes in the earth's orbit vs that of the Sun and resulting changes in Earth's absorption of energy from the Sun ... and that these occur over long cycles which correspond to our Ice Ages.
Now to shift gears ...
CO2 is a trace gas in our atmosphere. It's about one part in 300 of our air. Our "Chicken Little Brian" fears it may go to one part in 200. By comparison, Argon -- which is Neon's lazy big brother and a gas we never even think about -- is about one part in 100. There's not a lot of CO2 in our air is my point.
All our air -- our entire atmosphere -- weighs as much as the top 40 or 50 feet of our oceans. Thus, all our atmospheric CO2 has the mass of the top two or three inches of our oceans. My point is that "all our CO2" has little mass when compared to Earth as a whole. It's even a rounding error when compared to the mass of Earth's oceans.
So how can CO2 absorb or transmit enough energy from the Sun -- directly or indirectly -- to signify in an ongoing process like what we see responsible for the Ice Ages. How can so little mass factor in global warming?
It doesn't compute. Tell me me where I'm wrong?
Link - the ice ages were caused by Milankovitch cycles reinforced by CO2 feedbacks. I suggest you read up on it, there's lots of info out there.
It is possible for similar effects to happen naturally and artificially. There are natural species extinction events and human caused extinction. The human-caused rate is 100 to 10000 times the natural rate, which is why it's a problem.
As for CO2 being just a trace gas, there are even smaller amounts of ozone but it's still important. Of all the denialist talking points, that's the worst (exempting every word uttered by Louis Hissink - if you don't know who he is, consider yourself lucky).
"the ice ages were caused by Milankovitch cycles"
How about "are caused by." We're still in such a cycle. We'll likely be in a few more over the course of the next 100,000 to 200,000 years as well. Our descendants will mostly be freezing and lamenting the days you could swim in the ocean off places like Long Island and the Jersey Shore, as we appear to be in a peak of a cycle right now. I'll repeat this again: the last 20,000 years of the most recent warming trend have been good for Man -- not so good for the Wooly Mammoth.
I only learned about Milankovitch cycles yesterday. It was a revelation to me. I hadn't realized that Ice Ages were such regularly recurring things, as I'm Earth Science ignorant.
"Milanković (1879 - 1958) mathematically theorized that variations in eccentricity, axial tilt, and precession of the Earth's orbit determined climatic patterns on Earth, resulting in 100,000-year ice age cycles of the Quaternary glaciation over the last few million years."
Now that would explain a lot, wouldn't it. Energy from the sun is an obvious candidate to be the exogenous factor that drives these cycles. Milanković worked out the math.
"reinforced by CO2 feedbacks"
That's controversial, Brian, as you should know. Some think increasing levels of CO2 is a lagging result, not a contributing feedback cause. In any event, in past cycles CO2 has been higher than it is now and it has still come down. It borders on preposterous to suggest that we'll see runaway CO2 feedback loops this time around, when it hasn't happened before.
As I understand it, the only concern with CO2 is that it's good at absorbing energy from light. But I'm skeptical that this could be a huge factor in Earth climate as there's so little CO2 in the air. How can so little mass have such a big effect? There's plenty of other things to absorb energy and warm things.
"... Of all the denialist talking points, that's the worst."
I haven't heard any suggestion that CO2 triggers any adverse chemical process -- thus it's not a poison nor a pollutant. Only Congress could call it such. In fact it's necessary plant food. Without it, everything would be dead ... polar bears too.
"... the hockey stick is doing fine."
For those new to this, Al Gore relied on studies that said temperatures have been stable for the last 1,000 years and have shot up over the last 50. Hence his alarm. The "hockey stick" is much disputed. The guy on Coyote Blog disputes it, and he's one of the few "independents" I've run across re AGW. There's lots of historical support that the "Little Ice Age" actually happened in the middle of the millennium. The data for the "hockey stick" is even in dispute -- it's based on tree rings.
The hockey stick is a distraction. What's a revelation to me is stepping back from arguments about extrapolating trends of the last 50 years to see the larger context of natural cycles of 20,000 to 100,000 years. If man weren't around the Earth would be warming and cooling a lot, with regularity, all on its own.
Little CO2 has been falsely accused. We should set it free, and sing its praises.
AGW is giving environmentalism a bad name. Expect our politics to focus on unemployment. There will be a backlash at some point.
Link, I appreciate that you're attempting to educate yourself. My three suggestions:
1. Dial back your certainty about AGW to match what you've admitted to be a low level of knowledge of the scientific field (and I'm not being arrogant here, I'm an amateur myself and no expert).
2. Look up ozone and water vapor concentrations in the atmosphere before you conclude a low concentration can have little effect.
3. Consider that for over a century, no one denied that carbon dioxide was a greenhouse gas with actual effects on the atmosphere. Only now that AGW is an issue, do some people deny it. Then decide where the politicization of that issue is coming from.
I have educated myself, Brian. I used to think that 1) the politics of AGW were screwed up -- this was manifest from reading the House Energy bill, and 2) AGW was a legitimate theory in search of a validating experiment.
After what I learned yesterday, I was wrong about #2 -- I now believe that AGW theory is a crock. The "science isn't settled." Al Gore should have stuck to working on the Internet.
I can't believe how weak "CO2 causes AGW" is as a theory, versus the way it's been trumpeted. I'm not denying that CO2 captures energy. A lot of things do. Calling it a "greenhouse gas" is a pejorative label. There is no "greenhouse." Man may well increase global temperatures over the next century, but it's far likelier to be by a degree or two. Other factors may cancel this out. It won't be catastrophic. There is no support for runaway feedback from CO2 -- the history of the Ice Ages proves the opposite.
Now I know why Al Gore still lives in a 30,000 foot home and hops around by private jet. People like Gore, Bush and Obama all have a compelling need to be important and grandiose. They don't give a rat's ass about us. We need a better class of politician.
It's crystal clear to me now that AGW was pushed by folks who want to 1) stifle the developed countries -- especially the US -- and 2) want to halve the population of the world. I'm actually spitting mad that we're close to hamstringing our economy over this, and condemning a lot of Third World people to poverty and starvation because of it. Lastly, AGW is giving environmentalism a bad name.
Link, I suggest that you learn as much as you can about the ice ages and what caused them.
And I can never understand why your side thinks it makes sense to admit that increasing CO2 warms things a little bit, but magically stops warming beneath a level that is problematic.
Link to Brian,
It's your theory Brian, not mine. So why do I bear the burden of proof when it's you that wants to kill the US economy and starve the Third World?
But I'll go ahead and whack your pinata anyway:
1) Your theory isn't proven.
2) It doesn't stand to reason.
3) It's belied by Earth's natural history of the last million years.
There's no proof that "little CO2" -- the ultimate plant food -- can cause runaway feedback loops that boil the planet over. It's unusual to find anything in nature that has this effect -- CO2 is not a catalyst and it's a fairly inert molecule -- that's why we use it to put the fizz in our pop. Writing a computer model that assumes feedback loops doesn't make it so.
Yes ... CO2 absorbs energy, but so do a lot of things. It's highly relevant that there isn't much CO2 in the air, as CO2 isn't involved in any chemical process that would give it "leverage." If you told me that nitrogen trapped energy, I could see it being a problem.
"Ice Age" is a misleading name. It sounds like "Jurassic Period" ... something that happened a long time ago, never to recur. Instead, we're in the middle of a cycle of recurring Ice Ages. Based on the experience of at least the last million years, at some point in the future the Earth will get a lot colder. Most likely, this trend will start to occur sometime in the next thousand years. Man has nothing to do with this.
CO2 in the air dropped a lot about 50 million years ago. This drop might have something to do with Ice Age cycles, who knows. 500 million years ago, CO2 levels were 20x those of today and were 4-5x during the Jurassic Period of 150 million to 200 million years ago. Given that we've had much higher levels of CO2 in the past -- and as recently as 50 million years ago -- belies the thesis that CO2 can create runaway feedback. If it didn't happen then, why do we assume it will happen now?
"Greenhouse gas" is also misleading. The Earth is a house with all the doors and windows open -- we're no greenhouse. The Earth loses heat through ordinary convection all the time. That's why our nights are usually colder than our days. If the sun stopped shining, the Earth would be an ice ball within weeks.
Until a few days ago I thought AGW was a theory without validation. Now I'm convinced that AGW is a hoax. My bullshit meter is at "11."
Link, if you acknowledge that CO2 can warm things then that's not just my theory, it's yours too. Welcome, comrade! Now tell me why CO2 can only warming things a little but not a lot.
Might as well refute this scientist too:
"The last time carbon dioxide levels were apparently as high as they are today — and were sustained at those levels — global temperatures were 5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit higher than they are today, the sea level was approximately 75 to 120 feet higher than today, there was no permanent sea ice cap in the Arctic and very little ice on Antarctica and Greenland."
If you can find a time with sustained higher CO2 AND similar or lower temps to today, please give a citation.
As Bugs Bunny would say "What a maroon!
I could go to Jones Beach for a year and count bikinis. By your logic -- and that of your sourced article -- bikinis make it hot. The sun doesn't factor in it all.
Phelim McAleer -- the journalist who challenged Al Gore -- had a piece in yesterday's IBD, which you can find here:
Here's an excerpt:
"The evidence of environmentalism run amok abounds in Europe. Spain believed the spin that environmental regulation can create "green jobs" and boost the economy. Now the country has 18% unemployment. Britain could suffer blackouts because of policies that require the country to replace coal with fuels like solar and wind power that aren't readily available or reliable. Unfortunately for Americans, many of the lawmakers who represent them in Congress seem unwilling to learn from Europe's mistakes."
Re: Healthcare, we also are unwilling to look at the experience of Massachusetts ... which now has the highest per capita costs of any state, by a lot.
Go to a beach in a conservative Muslim country and you won't find bikinis, ditto for beach photos for the US from 60 years ago.
By contrast you will get 100% correlation between sustained higher CO2 and higher temps in paleoclimates. Correlation doesn't prove causation, but it's pretty suggestive when you see it consistently (not the case in your bikini example).
As for your insults, I don't think they do much to advance your argument.
(1) You persist in misrepresenting my position on CO2. It's suggests you're just a troll. For the last time, there isn't enough CO2 in the atmosphere to move the needle much. Nor is their any proof that CO2 can create the adverse feedback necessary to create your Chicken Little scenarios. Your theory also doesn't explain why the Earth got colder -- and why CO2 went down -- before the Earth starting getting warmer again and CO2 went up again -- all of which happened before the Industrial Revolution.
(2) You never address the merits of the theory that any current global warming is just a phase in natural Earth cycles of temperature -- the ones that have been giving us Ice Ages. Milankovitch's work fits the historic record of the last million years quite well, and does stand to reason. Man may move the needle by a degree or two, but we have nowhere near the effect that Milankovitch cycles have had -- and will continue to have. We can expect the Earth to start getting colder again sometime in the next thousand years.
(3) AGW being wrong isn't just Emily Litella "never mind" funny. Your crowd have managed to corrupt the political process in the US and elsewhere. You either have a deeper evil agenda, or you're thick as a brick. You'd make all of us poorer, and even force many to starve. You and Al Gore should be forced to wear sackcloth ... or banished to live in a grass hut.
Link, your points:
1. "For the last time, there isn't enough CO2 in the atmosphere to move the needle much." Got a (reputable) link to establish that CO2 first does have some effect (since you admit that) but that more than 2xCO2 won't be dangerous?
2. It's been warming for 160 years after a 400 year cold spell (in the Northern Hemisphere). That cold period wasn't a constant decrease, it was a somewhat lower temp level that fluctuated for 400 years. The current warming has accelerated to twice the 20th Century warming rate, and you have no mechanism to explain it.
3. There was no content to point #3
1) It's your theory, not mine. You keep dodging providing proof that a little bit of CO2 has magical properties. A model ain't enough. Past Ice Age experience supports the contrary. CO2 was higher, it came down. The Earth got colder. There has to be somthing else driving this cyclical process -- You still haven't addressed my point about recurring cyclical warming and cooling driven by Milankovitch cycles, a theory that explains a million years of data.
2) "The current warming has accelerated to twice the 20th Century warming rate" ... except it hasn't -- we've been flat since 1998.
3) There is content to #3. You and Al are getting exposed for the charalatans you are.