Global Warming: Finally dead?

Discussion in 'Every Day Debating' started by Justice, Oct 13, 2009.

  1. Mububban

    Mububban Administrator Staff Member

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    I'm not totally sceptical about man's influence, but has anyone stated that the current warming trend is totally unlike any others that have been recorded throughout the planet's ~4 billion year history? We all accept that the earth itself goes through warm and cold cycles. Is this one completely different to anything we've found previously in ice core samples and rock data etc? We obviously only have a few short thousand years of recorded human history to go on.
     
  2. Overread

    Overread Wolfing it up! Staff Member

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    Far as I recall this interval is different from pre-recorded events in many ways. For a basic start many distributions of species over the planet are noticeably different than before - for example England hasn't got any hippos nor lions - and one explination for the reduced distribution of species is the effect of humanity.

    At the climatic scale, as far as I can recall the big difference is that the CO2 (as well as other gasses) levels in the atmosphere are far in excess of previous recordings in the proxy data without a corresponding natural event. In short we haven't had any natural event in recent history to account for the above average levels in our current atmosphere; thus we are left with the conclusion that any excess currently present is the result of human activities. Furthermore this worries some as, in the past, a similar global warming cycle does occur and thus we might well see things warming even more if/when natural cycles take over.

    In addition there is the ever stated comment that we are near the end of the current warm period - by ice-core and ocean core data we should be entering into a period of very rapid cooling at pretty much any point - this mostly linked to the Gulf Stream (note since most science was begun in western nations data is bias toward the west - more recent studies show that African and Tropical regions experience severe droughts during an Ice Age).


    In short whilst the data we have is sketchy it does all point toward humanity having caused the recent events; as such science can't actually predict what will happen because there is no historical data to tell them what might have happened before. In short we guess, we estimate, and we mostly just potter along as we have done and see what happens.

    Also remember that humanity having a global effect isn't something we can deny - science has already concluded that our atomic bomb use already messed up global carbon amounts (to the extent that radio carbon dating does not work after around 1950).
     
  3. Sparrow

    Sparrow Well-Known Member

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    The problem with discussing this stuff is that so few people understand climate.

    We are currently in an Ice Age which has not yet ended.
    What most people refer to as "Ice Age", is actually a Glacial Period, which is a colder phase within an Ice Age. These glacial periods can in fact come or go with remarkable speed, sometimes in hundreds of years, and even in the span of a handful of human generations. What has some scientists really worried are the thresholds which are met either way the climate goes--warmer than colder. There may be a threshold once passed (caused by human activities) in which the planet can never recover.
     
  4. Sparrow

    Sparrow Well-Known Member

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    Man has had very little influence on climate, perhaps almost nil... up to the Industrial Age.
    Just for argument, let's put the date of the Industrial Revolution starting at 1850. So within this very short span of time we are cutting down entire forests, raising enormous numbers of livestock, growing grains over vast areas, and belching pollutants into our air and water... do you really think this doesn't effect our climate?
     
  5. Overread

    Overread Wolfing it up! Staff Member

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    Sparrow - I agree its not just that many don't understand the topic, but also the fact that (and its raised a lot in this thread earlier) that governments and private companies spent a lot of the early part of this century and the latter of the last spreading a lot of false data and putting a lot of spin on the whole subject - sadly a fact which continues even now (though thankfully the general direction is toward a better result rather than more ignorance).


    As for our effect on climate it can be hard to fully understand this sometimes; but I agree the industrial revolution was the point at which our climatic and general ecosystem impact reached a new level and was the turning point (at least in my mind) between impacts which balanced out or were short term - to be more devastating in impact and to be far more long term in damage and influence.

    Though I'm still skeptical about comments regarding the livestock breeding and their effect since many who quote that as a greenhouse source often forget that in the run up to mass livestock breeding we went through a phase where we decimated wild populations. So in my mind that component, at least, was one which was originally within the planets balance.
     
  6. curunir's bane

    curunir's bane Kwisatch Haderach

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    Astronomers have concluded that Sun spot cycles have been fairly related to the temperature on Earth. When Sun spots are high this shows high solar activity in the Sun. When they are low it's just the opposite. From what they have studied sunspots usually run an 11 year cycle of going up and down. They fluctuate back and forth between periods of high activity and low activity. During the reign of King Louis IV there was a 72 year period of very very low sunspot (solar) activity from the sun. During that time we reached the maunder minimum which contained the "little ice age". Basically the sun spot activity was really low that the earth's temperature dropped.

    Now what's interesting is that over the past hundred years the temperature of the Earth has been increasing greatly. This isn't really completely unusual as the solar activity was also increasing - the sunspot cycles were reaching higher and higher temperatures at their maximums. BUT the cycles peaked sometime around the late 50's and have been steadily decreasing ever since, yet the Earth has still been getting warmer. According to those past records of the Earth's temperature compared to solar activity, the Earth shouldn't be getting hotter.

    So astronomers have concluded that this is probably not something usual. This is most likely not a common cycle. But there are still many other things to consider about the Earth's weather.

    What I really dislike is that people think scientists are trying to jump the gun on making their conclusions. Science is about testing and retesting, and rechecking, over, and over, and over, and over. I don't believe they are just a bunch of people trying to figure out a way to make money by "scamming" the public on issues such as global warming. Scientists try to find answers. I can't say I believe the same about politicians. I think it's ridiculous that this whole debate has become a political issue. And I'm sure every single scientist thinks it's just as stupid for politics to be involved. Let the scientists do their work and find out what the answer is. Politics has no place here.
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2011
  7. Mububban

    Mububban Administrator Staff Member

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    Thankyou one and all, like I said I was lacking information, and you have provided me with more. I appreciate it.
     
  8. curunir's bane

    curunir's bane Kwisatch Haderach

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    It's only because we love you, Mub :) .
     
  9. LyannaWolfBlood

    LyannaWolfBlood Ella Dictadora

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    Sorry to drag this thread up from the dead, but this is an interesting piece in Nature that shows some of the issues around science reporting in general, and that on climate change in particular, that echoes some of the points I've made in this thread about the scientific illiteracy of the media. I've quoted the author's account of how he was misrepresented by the Sunday Times here.

     
  10. gumboot

    gumboot lorcutus.tolere

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    Um, I think you'll find the cutting down of forests, raising of livestock and growing of grain happened long before the industrial revolution. The Romans were responsible for most of the deforestation of Europe, and feudalism got rid of the rest.
     
  11. Sparrow

    Sparrow Well-Known Member

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    Are you joking?

    The population of the world circa AD 1 is roughly estimated to have been between 200 and 300 million people. There are now some 7 billion people sharing the planet today. Whatever effect humanity had on the environment prior to the beginning of the Industrial Age is of very little importance. And no ****ing duh that livestock were raised and forests cut down long before modern times.
     
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2012
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