Climate Change skeptics? [ot]

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Chiloe

Trad climber
Lee, NH
Feb 16, 2014 - 12:12pm PT
On the GSS as on this thread, science literacy correlates with concern about the impacts of climate change. For example, bar heights in the graphs below show response percentages to one question about northern ice melting, and another question about reserving the Antarctic for science -- in relation to the number of science literacy questions (0-11 scale) or polar knowledge questions (0-5) people got right.


Figure 7. Percentage who are bothered “a great deal” if northern ice melts, and percentage who support reserving Antarctica for science, by polar knowledge score (0–5 answers correct) and science literacy score (0–11 correct). These graphs depict pooled responses from 2006 (cross-section and panel) and 2010 (cross-section only) samples (n = 2,559).


Here is a similar graph with two other climate-concern questions.


Figure 8. Percentage who would be bothered “a great deal” if rising sea levels flood coastal areas, or if polar bears were to become extinct, by polar knowledge score (0–5 answers correct) and science literacy score (0–11 correct). These graphs depict pooled responses from 2006 (cross-section and panel) and 2010 (cross-section only) samples (combined n = 2,559).
HSRV

Mountain climber
Santa Cruz, CA
Feb 16, 2014 - 12:16pm PT
Is anyone involved in this thread privy to the "findings" that there was a 220-year mega-drought in what we now call California during the Medieval period in Europe, and that Lake Tahoe's level fell over 200 feet from its present average annual level, and that trees actually took root at that lower level and their drowned stumps have been found 200 feet below the current level and radio-carbon dated to the Medieval period?

I found this scientific report in a Google search but I've been unable to find any supporting/corroborating and/or contravening reports.

If this is in fact true that there was a 220-year mega-drought over 1,000 years ago it casts serious doubt on AGW forcing. Tahoe was apparently not the only Sierra lake greatly impacted by that mega-drought. The field evidence points to just about every Sierra lake having dried up and that California's rivers became trickles for decades.

Of course "we" know that ocean currents (PDO and others) drive weather and determine long-range climate fluctuations, and there's absolutely no reason to believe that California's long-range weather patterns are fixed in stone. There's no reason to think that another multi-decade mega-drought cannot occur, AGW or no AGW. Imagine if you dare what would happen in this state that has 90% more people than it should have if another mega-drought develops and the annual precipitation rates here fall to levels that can only support 10% or less of today's California population. Are the other 49 states ready for a deluge of 30-million-plus drought emigrants from this state?
Bruce Kay

Gym climber
BC
Feb 16, 2014 - 12:27pm PT
no matter what truth exists in past occurrences, the conclusions you are drawing from it are taking you down the garden path Harold Stevie Ray Vaughn. I could take a stab at it if you don't mind although it has all been covered before.
Sketch

Trad climber
H-ville
Feb 16, 2014 - 12:30pm PT
Dingus Milktoast

Gym climber
U.N. Ambassador, Crackistan

Feb 16, 2014 - 08:52am PT
Why the surprise? One third of EU members are that stupid.

I'm not surprised. I flat out don't believe it. Its like those Tonight Show interviews of the person in the street...

DMT

Despite our best wishes and intentions, there will always be a (sizeable) portion our society that is sub-standard. It's kind of like our poverty rate in this country. Despite 50 years of trying to reduce the poverty rate, it has stayed between 12 & 15 percent.

I'm not trying to make a value or moral judgement on the uninformed, unintelligent or the poor. I'm simply saying they (all three) have been a part of this country.
HSRV

Mountain climber
Santa Cruz, CA
Feb 16, 2014 - 12:35pm PT
No garden path, Bruce, just an open-minded person here, never slave to orthodoxy from any quarter. The question is an honest question: Was there a pre-industrial age 220-year mega-drought in California? That very long and detailed research paper presented by a large team of scientists in various related fields says there was. I just have been unable to find any other studies that affirm or dispute the conclusions of the report.

And it's not Harold Stevie Ray Vaughn, it's Hot Steve "Rasputin" Vole.
Bruce Kay

Gym climber
BC
Feb 16, 2014 - 12:38pm PT
The problem is not the true ignorant, even if sizeable. It is the willfully ignorant or to coin a phrase, the purpose driven ignorant. We all know the true ignorant hardly ever vote anyway. Meanwhile there are vast entire societies of supposedly well educated people, functioning and successful who purposely deny realities for predictable reasons.

When you have powerful institutions of learning that actually promote ignorance, you have a fuking serious problem as is evident with the resulting polls.

If you wish to compare european, canadian, usa and other advances societies in terms of knowledge, it might be interesting to learn how the cirriculums vary, particularly the proportion that is driven by religious faith doctrines.

Sketch, you wonder why we're curious about your faith? It is a glaringly obvious line of enquiry, thats why. Just like your belief in intuition and all the other things you guys are chicken to discuss. Now why would you be so shy about it all?
HSRV

Mountain climber
Santa Cruz, CA
Feb 16, 2014 - 12:56pm PT
The problem I see with the AGW debate -- and yes, it is still a legitimate debate because no linear relationship has ever been demonstrated -- is the reciprocal ad hominem dismissal of one another's opposing positions. The instant one attacks another person's character in what should be an atmosphere (no pun intended but I'll take credit) of open-minded free exchange of ideas, then those resorting to the character attacks lose all credibility even if their position possesses some objective fact.

In 2009 when I submitted an article questioning AGW's forcing intensity (not questioning CO2 as a greenhouse gas) to a leading newspaper, the editor called me and though he freely professed his ignorance in any science, he said, and I quote him verbatim, "Right-wing global warming deniers like you should be silenced by any means possible." I had to roar in laughter as I enlightened him to my decades as a very liberal environmental activist with a degree in engineering.

AGW has become the new religion, and woe be it to anyone -- especially liberal environmentalists -- who dare utter anything deemed heresy to the "faith".
Sketch

Trad climber
H-ville
Feb 16, 2014 - 12:56pm PT
Sketch, you wonder why we're curious about your faith? It is a glaringly obvious line of enquiry, thats why. Just like your belief in intuition and all the other things you guys are chicken to discuss. Now why would you be so shy about it all?

Bruce - Why does it always have to be confrontational with you?

If you can honestly answer that, you might understand why I generally disregard your queries.
Malemute

Ice climber
great white north
Feb 16, 2014 - 01:02pm PT
it is still a legitimate debate because no linear relationship has ever been demonstrated
a linear relationship? so you don't believe in tides caused by the moon?
Bruce Kay

Gym climber
BC
Feb 16, 2014 - 01:13pm PT
If you consider a reasonable line of enquiry as too confrontational, then it becomes obvious that such an attitude can be considered an easy avoidance of the enquiry.

For instance, what could possibly be considered confrontational about asking you to explain your use and understanding of intuition in forming opinion?

Equally, the same could be said about religious belief.

To consider these questions as too confrontational for civil discourse is to be blunt an easy out. Very convenient. Its that simple, considering how irrational it is.

HSRV, I'm not sure how familiar with this thread you are but this is a prime example of the dysfunction. I don't think you should be too surprised that it devolves into character assasination. Whats a human to do? As has been stated before, we need to filter out the blow hard newspaper editors and focus on the science and to that end there are real live scientists right here.
BASE104

Social climber
An Oil Field
Feb 16, 2014 - 01:18pm PT
Few of these processes are linear. That makes it a difficult problem. Multiple variable non-linear processes.

On a sadder note, I just read this Guardian Article. I am with the guy when he says that what we are doing to the environment can't really be stopped:

http://www.theguardian.com/theguardian/2008/mar/01/scienceofclimatechange.climatechange

The change in climate will not cause an extinction of the human race. About the only thing that can cause such an extinction is us.

What we will see is a redistribution of arable land. If it warms a few degrees in the southern plains, it will affect where we grow food. Areas such as this, along with rainfall patterns will shift in location. This will affect where we grow our food and where we live.

We will also all be dead before it gets really bad. We are already seeing changes in the arctic, but China isn't going to stop burning so much coal, and Americans aren't going to give up their cars.

Simple version: My opinion is that we are hosed, and will be cursed by future generations.

All of this will affect Where we live and grow food.
Malemute

Ice climber
great white north
Feb 16, 2014 - 01:20pm PT
If you can't correctly answer the 11 questions above, you are uninformed; and your opinions should be weighted accordingly.
BASE104

Social climber
An Oil Field
Feb 16, 2014 - 01:22pm PT
We CAN sequester carbon rather easily.

Take all of that growing organic matter and bury it, along with some sort of biocide to keep bacteria from turning it into CO2. Sequestering at the smoke stack is a huge problem, but there are tens of thousands of depleted oil reservoirs that we could inject it into.

It would be more efficient to do it with plant matter, though. It is far denser than CO2 gas. I don't know why I haven't heard of this method.
Malemute

Ice climber
great white north
Feb 16, 2014 - 01:22pm PT
Carl Sagan suggested burying trees decades ago.

TREES, TREES, TREES
The only method of cooling down the greenhouse effect which seems both safe and reliable is to plant trees. Growing trees remove CO2 from the air. After they’re fully grown, of course, it would be missing the point to burn them; that would be undoing the very benefit we are seeking. Instead, forests should be planted and the trees, when fully grown, harvested and used, say, for building houses or furniture. Or just buried.
BILLIONS & BILLIONS
Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium
Carl Sagan (1997)
TLP

climber
Feb 16, 2014 - 01:26pm PT
HSRV, the drought and lakebed tree evidence you cite is well corroborated from other sources. I'm not going to spend the time rummaging in digital and paper folders for the other citations, but it's totally for real. There is a substantial layer of charcoal 800 years old, or 800 and also 1200 (forget the details right now), in a wetland in South Lake Tahoe. I know: I found it and sent it to the C14 lab myself; part of a project we were doing.

But you make a completely unjustified leap to say that this casts doubt on climate effects from human GHG emissions. There is no connection between the two whatsoever. All that the past droughts (and the one you refer to was only one of multiple that we know of since the last Ice Age) show is that there are other climate influences which can exert a huge effect, not that ours does not exist. We also know that enormous meteorites have hit the Earth causing cataclysmic climate changes, much bigger even, by orders of magnitude, than this itty bitty little drought. Does it follow that the oceans have no effect, since something else had a bigger effect? Not at all.

In practical terms, accepting the reality of human-induced/enhanced climate change and setting about to get ready for its anticipated effects also helps get ready for climate problems that result from a coincidence of natural effects doing something even worse, should that occur. Models indicate that the frequency of extreme climatic events, such as droughts, is likely to become greater. The science of GHGs and their effects is pretty well settled, though we're not as certain as we'd like to be about the magnitude. It's time to start talking sensibly about dealing with stuff. And if all it does is prepare us for expected non-human-induced calamity, what's so bad about that? It's too late and would be too slow to steer the CO2 battleship off its present course quickly enough to avert some of the major consequences. Let's get ready for them.
TLP

climber
Feb 16, 2014 - 01:35pm PT
Base, I can't agree that it is even a remotely good idea to try to sequester carbon by burying plant material and applying such a massive dose of wide-spectrum poison as to prevent decomposition forever. Basically, anywhere you do that has to be rendered into even more of a wasteland than a landfill; and you need a lot of these. Bacteria and fungi have been adapting to different energy sources - including petroleum! - and toxins (to them) for 4 billion years. Anything that would keep them from decomposing a huge, choice supply of fixed carbon forever would have to be really really nasty sh#t, applied in really huge amounts. And we can't even figure out how to deal with a comparatively tiny amount of radioactive waste. Not going to be a good idea.

But I totally agree we are hosed for exactly the reasons you state: China's coal use and our transportation. Sometime in the very distant future, we'll change the trend. But slowly and not for a long time. Meanwhile, we have to deal with what we've created in a practical way and stop having inane disputes about pretty well supported science.

Edited to add: I wouldn't know about CO2 capture at the stack, maybe that's really difficult too. But a lot easier there than once it is dispersed into the whole atmosphere.
Bruce Kay

Gym climber
BC
Feb 16, 2014 - 01:40pm PT
base whats your take on the classic CCS story of pumping the stuff into the ground?

I mean more the practicalities. the economics.
BASE104

Social climber
An Oil Field
Feb 16, 2014 - 02:06pm PT
The CCS idea is a terrific one if it can be cheap enough.

There are zillions of depleted oil and gas fields in the country, and other trapped areas that never contained oil and gas for some reason.

You could basically inject it all, if you could capture it. We actually pay a lot of money for CO2, to use it as a tertiary flood substance. You inject it into old oil fields and recover a lot of oil that can't be produced otherwise. The CO2 is separated and re-injected. It stays down there, too.

CO2 is a lot more expensive than natural gas.

I still think that you will get more of a bang for your buck by burying it. If you are a person who thinks that you should get your panties in a bunch over regular landfills being ugly, while allowing the climate to shift, then you are being a candy ass. What do you want? A little ugly that serves a great purpose? Or do you want to keep those irrigated, mono species, farm fields "natural."

As if farming is in some sense natural. Come visit me over the next month and I'll drive you around over the Ogallala Aquifer. You can see them growing corn where it is otherwise way too dry. At the same time, the federal government pays farmers to not farm ground in more humid areas (See CRP program).

There are many biocides. It doesn't have to be toxic to humans. You could lower the PH a couple of points and that would take care of it. You just need something to control the bacteria which would normally break this down.

If you aren't willing to sequester carbon like Mother Nature did, under anoxic conditions, simply because it is an eyesore, then you are not being intellectually honest.
BASE104

Social climber
An Oil Field
Feb 16, 2014 - 02:13pm PT
When the oil industry injects CO2 as a miscible fluid to recover more oil, we have to run acid-resistant casing liners and rods.

CO2 forms carbonic acid, and that stuff will eat through regular steel well casing in only a few years.

That doesn't make it impossible. CO2 is a valuable substance in the oil industry...oddly enough...

Your pipelines will be a little more expensive. We have had CO2 pipelines for many decades.
HSRV

Mountain climber
Santa Cruz, CA
Feb 16, 2014 - 02:50pm PT
Thanks TLP. However, it seems you accept one premise regarding how changing climate (AGW and/or natural) can change wind and ocean currents and ocean temperatures than allegedly result in droughts and/or floods, but then you seem to conveniently dismiss that 220-year mega-drought that could never have been the result of human activities. You can't really have it both ways.

As to someone else further up this thread attempting to draw an analogy of AGW's lack of any semblance of linear functions to that of the moon with tides, that's akin to trying to suggest that 1+1 is the same as an exponential function. There's nothing complex about the moon's gravitational pull on Earth's bodies of water, whereas with climate dynamics there are multiple variables interacting in very complex ways, none of which are predictable as to outcome. Chaos manifested!

BTW, TLP, that same science report to which I alluded previously also mentioned another 140-year mega-drought in California. So it's not so fluke-ish, it might be part of some bigger natural cycle.
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