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 CountIbli
Joined: 6/1/2005
Msg: 26
The Science of Global WarmingPage 2 of 19    (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19)


I am not going to reference every statement on the basics of climate change.


In other words you're going to make claims with no basis in reality and refuse to back them up with scientific evidence. That's par for the course with the AGW crowd I'm afraid.
 floosy
Joined: 7/8/2008
Msg: 27
The Science of Global Warming
Posted: 7/13/2008 7:38:56 PM
Go read the latest report from the UN's scientific commitee on climate change - lots of evidence there.
 wvwaterfall
Joined: 1/17/2007
Msg: 28
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History
The Science of Global Warming
Posted: 7/13/2008 8:44:27 PM
Here's the frustrating aspect to me about each and every thread that has addressed climate change here.

The debate I'd love to see is the layman's version of the debate that policy makers are wrestling with on this topic - what is the BEST way to take action to address climate change?

It just isn't possible to have that discussion here. Every attempt to do so gets bogged down in debate over whether climate change exists or whether humans have an impact on climate.

Plenty of forums debate all the other pressing issues of the day - terrorism, gun crime, world hunger, a whole host of political issues, oil supplies and other energy related discussions. Very rarely does someone in those threads try to assert that there isn't a problem or that humans can't possibly have an effect on them.

But when it comes to climate change, despite the current status that every national science organization with any connection to the climate has embraced the concept of anthropogenic climate change, we can't even get to the point of STARTING the discussion here of which steps will be most effective to address it.

Never mind that pretty much every major and many a minor industry is already gearing up and adjusting their business plan to maximize their profits in the face of anticipated and actual climate change policy developments. Never mind that both presidential candidates consider addressing climate change to be a high priority, so it's a virtual guarantee that SOME new climate change initiatives will come from our new president, whoever it turns out to be.

Rather than debate the relative merits of the various climate change strategies being bantered about by those who WILL be moving forward to address the problem, we can't even start the discussion here, regardless the forum category or best efforts of any given OP.

Heck, it's even possible to go to the Sports category and have a thread over who's likely to win the next major sports competition without having to suffer through endless posts about how stupid that particular sport is or continual assertions that some minor league player or team that has never posted a winning record should really be one of the contenders.

We don't have any problem agreeing that humans have the capacity to move rivers and mountains to accomplish our goals, make lakes where they never were, make things grow where they wouldn't normally grow, dramatically increase or decrease animal populations, destroy forests, pave over wetlands, and any number of other major human impacts on the environment, but we can't seem to come close to agreeing that humans have the capacity to impact the climate, for better or worse.

That's very frustrating to me, because it means it means we can't even start to have discussions over an issue that those who make decisions for us are deeply engaged in and have been for some time.

We can bicker all we want, but climate change policy IS coming. Doesn't anyone care at all what it might look like?

Dave
 Dr. Gazebo
Joined: 3/24/2008
Msg: 29
The Science of Global Warming
Posted: 7/13/2008 10:37:42 PM
Dave

Dont despair. We are successfully chasing the filibusters out of this thread. This leaves room for people like us to intelligently discuss the issue. Working according to plan!

Count Ibli..i am not posting empty facts. Please read the UN reports which are easily obtainable on the web. I cant do your homework for you. Read the reports, then if you wish, I will be happy to discuss any objections you have. As it stands, you want to sit there, type..show me...and have me run around like a servant providing you with information. Not gonna happen buddy.
 Robinson2
Joined: 3/21/2008
Msg: 30
The Science of Global Warming
Posted: 7/14/2008 12:35:44 AM
The UN reports are a load of unmitigated rubbish. The papers published therein do not entail the conclusions (summary for policymakers). Read the Wegman Report, or perhaps you tend to avoid anything that contradicts your view; in which case can I recommend a course on critical thinking.
 Last not Least
Joined: 10/27/2007
Msg: 31
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The Science of Global Warming
Posted: 7/14/2008 2:15:53 AM
The thing with the greenhouse story is that inside the plants thrive with the inclusion of co2 and produce oxygen. Glass of course is solid transparency which of course is wonderful for trapping heat unlike an invisible colourless phantom layer of gas in the atmosphere. Excess heat in a greenhouse is dealt with using vent fans which regulate heat builldup just fine.
In time after all the opportunists are all gone on to other things, you will be able to file greenhouse effect in the same drawer as acid rain, thinning ozone and god knows what else is in there.
Don't worry though, there will be a whole new immediate threat to worry about and squabble over. They just haven't thought of it yet.
 Ahoytheredave
Joined: 8/29/2006
Msg: 32
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The Science of Global Warming
Posted: 7/14/2008 7:09:24 AM
Filibuster? At least the AGW religious chanting has gone from "quack" to "laymen" but still the implication of "I am more qualified than you" is still firmly there. I will gladly compare my actual scientific credentials and actual results against any of the publish or parish crowd. I will compare my lifetime environmental results as well.

The whole point of the AGW religion is about human activity damaging Earth's environment. What it refuses to recognize is that in its arrogance, it has made some whoppers of mistakes. The ethanol mandates are the latest and the extent of damage from their political activism are being revealed every day. The environment needs some filibustering to keep these people from doing more damage. From what is being said here, it is clear they are finding an audience among the third world banana republics and dictatorships represented in the UN. Why not call this den of corruption "quacks" or "laymen"? Just what technical accomplishments has the UN achieved? The retreat to citing the UN as a body of truth in science would be laughable if not so tragic.

In another post from one of the AGW religious troll, a comment was made that the only experts qualified to comment on the climate are certified climatologists. As an expert in creating and implementing measurement technologies and an engineer working in the light spectrum, I consider myself an actual expert in the applicable technologies. My work is proven in real physical reproducible results, not some vote of anonymous "peers". Most of my peers said I could not do what I did yet the proof, and the patents, is in the results, not some vote. The very nature of invention and innovation is doing what "experts" say can't be done.

Again, let's revisit the CO2 "green house" relationship. First, anything that absorbs any EM wavelength will just as readily radiate the same. In short, whatever IR that CO2 absorbs, it radiates. In a green house, the glass reflects IR causing a retention of heat from higher energy light the glass is transparent to. Since the green house prevents air movement, the components of air that would normally carry the heat away and eventually radiate it to space can't move. One could argue that the IR absorption of CO2 and its movement in the atmosphere actually cool the earth by carrying heat past cloud cover that reflects IR back. If you want to refute this, you are welcome to provide your understanding of the physics or you can choose to cite yet more publish-or-parish papers you probably don't understand.
 Dr. Gazebo
Joined: 3/24/2008
Msg: 33
The Science of Global Warming
Posted: 7/14/2008 10:26:07 PM
The UN reports are a load of unmitigated rubbish.

So the opinions of over 5000 scientists are rubbish? And yours is valid? Okeeess.

Ahoytheredave...you are an engineer, not a climatologist. Tell me why the arctic ice flows are melting. Lets get out of the lab and into the real world.
 Ahoytheredave
Joined: 8/29/2006
Msg: 34
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The Science of Global Warming
Posted: 7/15/2008 9:36:01 AM
As I said before, there are a number of potential causes and AGW could be one but it is not certain. There is ample evidence that global warming has occurred many times in the past and it is quite possible, in fact probable, it is happening again. Such cyclic activity is in the realm of time and frequency analysis. If you read some of the various AGW statements, you will find the models being used to "prove" it are actually modified weather prediction models. Such models are mostly empirical in that they are developed and refined based on reoccurring events and arrays of available measurements. They are statistical tools using frequency domain and correlation to predict re-occurrence and variations in weather. Whatever extra formulas are added, such as assumptions about the behavior of CO2 in the atmosphere, will be compensated for whether the added functions are right or wrong. That is the nature of adaptive modeling. Since there is no model anywhere near the complexity needed nor the array of sensors necessary to model the physics of the atmosphere, adaptive models are the best tools available for weather forecasting. How well do they predict the weather say a month out? What about years out? To some extent, they work but they are based on observations of number of complete weather cycles. AGW theory has yet to observe a single long term cycle. Since they are adaptive and compensate for their own errors, such as CO2 forcing theories, using them to claim the theories are valid is a circular argument. How many of the 5000 scientists are actually scientists and of those, how many actually understand the nature of modeling? Modeling real world systems is the practice of engineering and it is an exact science.

As for actual causes, one could look at solar radiation variations, deep ocean currents driven in part by fresh water feed into denser sea water thus making it cyclic, variations in cloud cover driven by particulates from space and solar winds along with Earth based dust and volcanic activity, etc. Continue reading your global warming texts and you find the term "amplification" of CO2 heating by various potential natural causes instead of the actual natural causes themselves. Now we begin to jump the shark but those who do the trumpeting are celebrities and politicians, not people who use physics for a living. When discussing amplification and feedback in high noise environments, you are in the science of control theory, not statistical climate prognostication. Control theory complex but exacting science in itself. In short, the whole AGW theory to this point appears to be self reinforcing with a strong political bias based in fear mongering.

Again, go back to reading the AGW cited texts and you will find comments about apparent global warming being an experiment without a control. This would appear to be designed to justify embracing untested, unverifiable theory. One might ask why. You can find the answer in the purpose statements. They are meant to influence policy. At that point, scientists should realize that the documents are not about science. Science is open minded. Policy is about advocacy, the denial of dissent, and the domain of lawyers of politicians. This thread opens with a similar statement asking for denial of dissent. As FrogO, with whom I often disagree with says, that is not science. The whole AGW "religion" is full of such misleading or false labels. "Green house gas" at the heart of the theory is just such an example. As I have said before, the characteristic of CO2 to absorb certain specific bands of IR is the basis for the label. Following this as an explanation for a green house temperature, one should observe lower temperatures in green houses as they are occupied by plants that capture CO2 from the air and therefore green houses probably have lower than ambient CO2 levels. The term "Green house gas" is misleading. One argument here is that the CO2 acts like the glass on a green house. Nope. The glass acts like clouds to reflect heat across the IR spectrum. CO2 absorbs specific bands of IR and what heat it doesn't radiate in those bands, it transports away through convection. Unlike the glass, CO2 is mobile. The hotter it is, the more mobile it is.

If you wish to blame man for some perceived global warming, I would suggest you look at the massive scale to which we divert land based water for our survival. Instead of allowing it to flow to the sea, we divert it for agriculture, lawn watering, recreation, etc. This results in measurable changes in average humidity levels. The IR absorption of water vapor is far more than CO2 but wait, there's more! Water vapor condenses and forms clouds. Clouds reflect a wide spectrum of IR and really do retain heat lie a green house. Some would argue, without data, that the land masses are the minority of the Earth's surface. So what? We are talking small changes in temperature, not like Venus with its clouds. The evaporative surface of irrigated plants is higher per unit of surface area than the surface of the sea thus exaggerating its evaporative effect.

I didn't cite any specific texts in the hope the reader actually will examine those already cited by those who are adamant I am in error or re-examine them with a more open, (scientific) mind. I have read so many and they all seem to have the same flaws. Then there are the anecdotal observations often with emotional descriptions but that's another topic. In another thread, I suggested the polar ice melt was likely a result of ocean currents propelled in the polar regions by low density fresh water mixing with warmer yet denser sea water effecting deep water currents where very little measurements are made much less massive monitoring. From my experience in oscillating systems, I would expect such a system to have an asymptotic wave shape as it approached a reversal. That is exactly what is being observed. I cannot refer to a specific document but I have read that research in the geological record indicates the onset of an ice age is a rather rapid event. This would also agree with what I would expect from this ocean current theory as the fresh water propulsion would end abruptly. The currents would stop and the freeze would begin. Ice age?

As for the melt from above and land based melt, variations in solar radiation could be a factor but getting into the anecdotal description of melting glaciers, there are descriptions of the surface of cited glaciers being very dirty from centuries or eons of accumulated dust being concentrated on the surface from evaporation or sublimation. This would tend to absorb more solar heat as the melt progressed and further accelerate the melt. Again, that is what is being observed and cited by the AGW "scientists". Another asymptotic melt.

As you use your computer to rant about the impossible, remember that your PC is an array of patented technologies brought about by innovative engineers doing what those before them often said was impossible. The engineers at no point violated the laws of physics. Scientists should stick with research and stay out of policy. The laws of man do not require truth or reason and can be readily broken. The laws of physics we engineers must follow cannot be broken as they are logic and reason in its purest state.

Do you think governments or the UN might get something wrong every now and then? The UN includes some of the least functional governments on the planet. Why assume they get this right with some mystical clairity?
 stargazer1000
Joined: 1/16/2008
Msg: 35
The Science of Global Warming
Posted: 7/15/2008 5:17:11 PM
Sorry lukus, but sunspot activity doesn't do the job. While a convincing argument can be made that the sun has some impact on world climate - the Maunder minimum, for instance - it doesn't tell the whole picture. In fact, we're currently at sunspot minimum and the sun has been blank of actual sunspots for weeks.

Which planets are experiencing global warming? How has this been assessed? Jupiter's weather is mostly internally driven by residual heat from its formation, same for Neptune and Saturn, Mars temperature ranges from 25 degrees Celsius at noon on the equator in summer to more than minus 150 degrees C at the pole in winter.

As for Venus, it's a "runaway" greenhouse which has yet to be sufficiently explained. Sorry, but you can't look to the planets to compare to Earth because they aren't Earth. They're completely different for numerous reasons.
 floosy
Joined: 7/8/2008
Msg: 36
The Science of Global Warming
Posted: 7/15/2008 5:51:04 PM
OK, a few factual points here:

1. There is a natural cycle of global warming and cooling. A number of factors cause it, some of which you name. However, you have to account for the timescale. Naturally-occurring global warming is slow; extremely so compared to what's happening now. The rate at which CO2 levels and average global temperature are rising are unprecedented, and alarming. There is no cause in nature that can explain what we're seeing, other than rapidly increasing levels of CO2.

2. Modelling real world systems is far from an exact science. The real world is complicated and difficult to model based purely on theory; that's why the models have to be adaptive. It doesn't make them any less valid. Note also that every model, including the ones that were considered pessimistic as little as five years ago, underestimates the amount of warming that's being observed and the rate at which it's happening. The models err only in underestimating the extent of the damage. BTW, many statistical climate prediction models have a basis in control theory.

3. There's a vast difference between forecasting detailed, day-to-day weather and predicting general trends. The trend is clear. To observe a complete cycle, one would have to wait for the earth to cool down again. Not likely to happen anytime soon.

4. I think it's fair to assume that of 5000 scientists, at least some of them understand modelling.

5. It's an experiment without a control because we haven't got a nice, clean, unpolluted Earth to compare our weather with. Would that we had.

6. There is no 'perceived' global warming. There is actual global warming, recorded by measuring global temperatures over a period of years. There are actual increases year by year in the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. And there is an actual rise in the sea level, and an actual dimunition of ice caps at the poles. These are all recorded, verifiable facts. You may try to debate the cause, but the effects exist.

7. Again, the warming effect in a greenhouse is not produced by CO2, but by the glass. Whether there's less or more CO2 inside compared to outside is irrelevant.

8. Do you imagine that the laws of physics the UN scientists apply are different from those engineers use? Just wondering.

Try to distinguish between science and policy. The scientific committee does not dictate policy. They observe, explain and report. They may suggest potential solutions. The policymakers take over after that. Note that the report produced by the scientists was toned down at the insistence of certain member governments. Doesn't sound like fear-mongering to me, it sound like oil interests having their say and trying to downplay the problem.
 floosy
Joined: 7/8/2008
Msg: 37
The Science of Global Warming
Posted: 7/15/2008 6:04:55 PM

I will gladly compare my actual scientific credentials and actual results against any of the publish or parish crowd.

I've got a bachelor's in chemistry and a PhD in physical chemistry. I worked in research for ten years. You?

The UN is not a scientific body. The scientists who write the report at their behest are employed, as experts in their field, to report on such issues so that the UN assembly can understand them.

Yes, CO2 radiates IR. In all directions, which means a fair chunk of it goes back to the surface. Some escapes, some does not. The net result is warming.


One could argue that the IR absorption of CO2 and its movement in the atmosphere actually cool the earth by carrying heat past cloud cover that reflects IR back.


One could, but one would be wrong. When there's heavy cloud cover, UV doesn't penetrate to the same extent, so it tends to be cooler anyway. The point about the greenhouse effect is that you get warming even with no cloud cover.

Dave, you're right, we're bogged down. Assuming there are enough open-minded people out there to acccept the premise, what would you suggest as good policy? The biofuels thing wasn't so great (file under 'seemed like a good idea at the time', perhaps); any other suggestions?
 stargazer1000
Joined: 1/16/2008
Msg: 38
The Science of Global Warming
Posted: 7/15/2008 6:16:22 PM
Make up your own mind about this. However....

http://www.spacemart.com/reports/Wilkins_Ice_Shelf_Hanging_By_Its_Last_Thread_999.html
 Ahoytheredave
Joined: 8/29/2006
Msg: 39
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The Science of Global Warming
Posted: 7/15/2008 7:05:22 PM
1. As I said about time scale, two of the explanations would produce a warming cycle that is not a sinusoid but an accelerating rate of melt until the "fuel" (ice) is depleted. At that point, the system changes and a polar region freeze begins the cycle again.

2. If the models err, the fact is, they are wrong. The sign of the error does not change that fact. They are weather prediction algorithms being asked to work way beyond their limits. Their error feedback masks how inappropriate they are for the task. Control theory?

3. I would suggest you read the origins of the climate models. Any cyclic system sampled at less than the Nyquist rate of any cycle frequency is subject to extreme errors. Projections from the data (trends) is little more than speculation.

4. Voting again? 500o selected because they support a theory is hardy an unbiased election. It really doesn't matter about the model, if the sample window and resolution is not there, the model will not be accurate. Its hardly proof. In the end, the whole argument boils down to coincidence. There are other cults with at least as many believers.

5. Emotional response, not science. My point made. Even scientists can be impressed by big numbers. We aren't that far from "One two three infinity".

6. At no time did I say there was not some form of warming but the Earth is a system where daytime heating is followed by night time cooling. In general, cloud cover will act as the "glass" on a green house. Changes in atmospheric moisture from natural or man-made causes will tend increase the temperature provided there are sufficient particulates for precipitation. Not because it is a more powerful IR absorber than CO2, but because it precipitates into clouds and acts like the glass of a green house. The CO2 at this point is a pure coincidence. Sea level rise would follow exactly with the cycles I described.

7. The CO2 "green house gas" theory as promoted to the public to sell AGW is misleading. When the whole point of the debate is public policy, is it your contention that it is best to mislead the public and public officials? The contention of the AGW religion would imply that the CO2 content is not irrelevant. I use the term religion as it more accurately describes the beliefs involved and actions surrounding them.

8. Again, the whole issue is only an issue because the purpose of the AGW movement is to force policy change - the laws of man. As the ethanol mandates demonstrate, the destruction from these laws can be disastrous. Its not that they use a different set of physical laws than I do, its that that don't use the laws of physics. As shown above, they use deception, emotional appeals, and fear. These are the laws of politics.

If the science and the policy were not intimately connected by the AGW movement, then they could be separated. Since the AGW "believers" are not open to discussion or give due consideration to alternative explanations, the science is missing. Note the OP as an example. Unfortunately, this is a universal characteristic throughout the AGW movement. The threads that have addressed this issue are full of sarcastic anonymous trolls touting their "belief" in the AGW theory with nothing driving them more than personal attacks on those they label "deniers".
 wvwaterfall
Joined: 1/17/2007
Msg: 40
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The Science of Global Warming
Posted: 7/15/2008 7:26:19 PM

Dave, you're right, we're bogged down. Assuming there are enough open-minded people out there to acccept the premise, what would you suggest as good policy? The biofuels thing wasn't so great (file under 'seemed like a good idea at the time', perhaps); any other suggestions?


I can't thank you enough for your sound scientific input. In times past I would have spent hours searching the net to come up with something approximating your contribution. Instead I'm pleased to respond to your request.

I assume you're referring to ethanol as your not-so-great biofuel effort, and indeed ethanol from corn is hard to defend, but celulosic (sp?) ethanol from non-food crops still holds promise, as does bio-diesel. In recent days there has been a lot of buzz about using algae as a biofuel source. These certainly aren't THE solution, but may well have their place in a broader set of strategies.

One transportation idea has been proposed recently both by the Governor of Wyoming and by Robert F. Kennedy Jr.. It would entail rapid introduction of PHEV's - plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, combined with altering the way our home electricity is managed by charging us on the same demand-based time-of-day sliding scale large energy users pay as well as mandating net-metering for all homes, which means if you supply power back into the grid you get paid for it by the utility at the going rate for the time of day you supply it.

This means we could charge our cars at night when energy is cheap, then either use it by driving the next day OR sell that stored electricity back into the grid when it was worth more money.

Another key component is energy efficiency. We waste an incredible amount of energy, and have great potential to live every bit as comfortably with a significantly smaller amount of energy, but we need a combination of accelerated technology development and incentives for consumers to switch from energy hog devices to newer more efficient ones.

One major energy hog is the grid itself, which requres a great amount of electricity to function that never actually comes out of an outlet or is put to other productive use. I could see a greater emphasis on localized generation and distribution, depending on which energy sources are locally available in the years to come.

From a pure emissions standpoint, the two most common suggestions are a carbon tax and a cap and trade system. One proposal I saw would apply a portion of a carbon tax to retrain displaced carbon intensive industry employees, covering all of their education costs AND continuing to pay them as they went to school. That same presentation included an economic study that indicated implementation of such a carbon tax would have a net zero effect on the economy, with the winners balancing out the losers, and the education program going a long way to lessen the pain for the losing industries.

But taxes of any kind are never popular, so cap and trade seems to be where we're headed. It's a proven method with a solid track record, creating economic incentives for desired behavior.

In a cap and trade system limits are set on emissions, with CO2 and other greenhouse gasses accounted for on a CO2 equivalent scale. That means non-CO2 greenhouse gasses are counted based on their relative potency compared to CO2. Methane, for example is 21-24 times more potent than CO2, although since it stays in the atmosphere for a shorter period than CO2 some methodologies score it as 6 or 7 times as potent over the long haul.

As you can tell, the devil is in the details, but the general idea is to cap how much a source can emit, and over time keep shrinking that cap. Those ahead of the curve accumulate credits, which they can sell to those exceeding their caps. Another complicating factor in the math involved is setting the relative importance of direct emissions, as in pollution from a smoke stack, indirect emissions, as in tail pipe emissions of employees driving to work, and related emissions, as in those of suppliers and other related industries.

An interesting twist on this concept crossed my email recently, termed 'cap and share'. This is actually a hybrid of the cap and trade and carbon tax concepts, with direct benefits to individuals.

Caps would be set for each country, gradually tightened over time until an agreed upon acceptable level of greenhouse gas emissions is achieved. But rather than limit the market to businesses directly involved in greenhouse gas production and sequestration, the total emission allocation for each country would be divided equally among every adult in that country, who would then sell their emission authorization to fossil fuel and other greenhouse gas producers. Dedicated environmentalists could choose to simply retire their allocations. Others would reap direct financial benefit.

More info on the cap and share concept can be found here:


http://www.feasta.org/cgi-bin/search/search.pl?Terms=cap+and+share


So that's just a sampling of what policy makers are currently contemplating, but certainly food for thought. I'd be eager to hear other concepts and/or feedback on these.

Dave
 floosy
Joined: 7/8/2008
Msg: 41
The Science of Global Warming
Posted: 7/15/2008 8:00:30 PM
Wow, that's a lot. You've thought about this a lot more than I have.

Yes, I was primarily referring to ethanol from corn, and all the problems that's caused. Biofuel at best though can only address a small portion of the problem and doesn't do all that much about emissions; isn't that so? Granted it's a cleaner way of obtaining fuel than oil refinery, but still involves putting carbon into the atmosphere. I also remember hearing somewhere that in some cases forests are being cleared to plant biofuel crops, which has an obvious detrimental effect. Perhaps that was corn for ethanol again, though.

Efficiency I agree with you and we are seeing steps towards that, if for no other reason than it saves money too - witness low power lightbulbs. As the cost of gas soars, people are naturally moving towards more efficient vehicles and hybrids as well.

The PHEV idea is interesting; there's a lot of discussion on another thread about it. Some argue that you still need to generate the elctricity somehow; nevertheless I think that's less wasteful than burning the fuel directly, and if you're recharging at night as you suggest, it could improve efficiency because you'd have less variation in the power demand. Incidentally, Canadians already plug their cars in at night, but that's to keep them warm. :-)

Cap and trade or carbon tax I know pretty much nothing about, but I understand they're being hotly debated.

What about wind power or HEP? Personally, I think the wind turbines are lovely; much more aesthetic than a dirty great power station.
 wvwaterfall
Joined: 1/17/2007
Msg: 42
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The Science of Global Warming
Posted: 7/15/2008 10:43:17 PM
Wow, that's a lot. You've thought about this a lot more than I have.


Well, you're the scientist. I spent six years working on environmental policy professionally, and still do some on a volunteer basis with a statewide economic think tank. Hopefully we complement each other in our offerings here. Keep the good science coming!

Before algae-based biofuel got added to the discussion, it had been calculated that we could indeed only cover for a portion of fossil fuels with biofuels. That may well still be the case, but I haven't seen the newly revised figures.

Essentially biofuels should probably be viewed as one way to help buy us some time during this critical transition period to whatever fuels us next. I for one would sure rather recycle used deep fryer oil than drill in Alaska or off the coasts, but it wouldn't surprise me if we end up doing both.

Calculating the carbon footprint for biofuel once again gets us into tricky math. On the one hand, carbon emissions act the same in the atmosphere regardless of source, but the case has been made that carbon from new crops is part of a closed circle as opposed to all that stored carbon from fossil fuels.

A similar argument has been used to excuse people like me who heat with a woodstove, but I'm not sure I completely buy in to that. It takes a lot longer for a tree to rot naturally than to burn, but that rotting also produces methane, something not produced through my home heating. I do minimize my emissions by using well seasoned hardwoods in a pretty efficient stove, harvesting only trees that die of their own accord, and 'sequestering' carbon from the large parts of the tree by making lumber for use in various projects, but I still suspect I'd be a better steward if I was living in a passive solar home.

You're right that clearing forests to plant bio-fuel crops is not a good thing.

And you rightfully point out that there's nothing like high energy prices to motivate people to conserve, and there's a lot of potential for homeowners to shrink their power usage. My electric bill is a quarter what the previous owners paid due to my switch to cfl's, a more efficient fridge, freezer, and washer, ripping out two baseboard electric heaters and turning off the outside security lights.

The argument that electric vehicles just transfer the pollution source to a power plant doesn't hold up any better than concerns about mercury in CFL's. Even if all of your electricity comes from burning coal, the slight increase from charging your electric vehicle is greatly offset by eliminating tailpipe emissions. Power plants, per energy unit, are just a whole lot more efficient and less polluting than cars.

As for CFL's, the trace amount of mercury in a bulb is far less than the increase in mercury emissions from a coal-burning power plant for the extra juice required to burn an incandescent bulb, and recycling options for CFL's are becoming ever more abundant. What little risk from mercury remains comes from cleaning up a broken bulb, and that still isn't all that great.

I covered the basics of carbon taxes and cap and trade programs. There is little active talk of carbon taxes outside of skeptics quick to pounce on them as another example of intrusive government. We've had one or two of those here. Cap and trade seems to be where we're headed, unless some creative variation like the cap and share program I mentioned gains traction.

I too like the look of wind turbines, and the wind industry is growing rapidly. The challenge, of course, is how to deal with variable supply due to the vagaries of the weather. And there are concerns about bird and bat kills, but those can be minimized through careful planning and operation of the turbines. The NIMBY crowd (Not In My Back Yard) is quick to activate wherever a wind project is proposed, but I'd still rather see a line of windmills than a line of smokestacks.

Hydro-electric has the advantage of being clean to operate and the quickest of all energy sources, fossil or renewable, to switch from 'off' to 'on' when there is a surge in demand. Large dams and impoundments present a whole host of environmental and social issues, however, due among other things to displacement of both human and critter habitat. If the area for a new impoundment isn't already arid or carefully cleared of all vegetation a great deal of methane is produced long after the lake fills.

My preference is to continue to utilize what large scale hydro we have and retrofit existing dams where appropriate, but I'd have a hard time supporting a new large dam project.

There are other ways to tap into moving water besides building big dams, though. The cheapest way for me to get off the grid would be to divert a bit of the creek that runs over my waterfall into a micro-hydro generator that is really just a modified car generator. There are other small home-scale systems for higher volume, lower gradient applications.

And a lot is being done with tidal and wave energy, both far less disruptive than large impoundments. One new design to take advantage of tidal flows looks like a large weather vane anchored to the sea bed, with a tail modeled after large fish like shark and tuna that modulates back and forth in the current, turning to adjust to changes in tide direction.

The trap many fall into is pointing to the flaws in one or more renewable options and saying "see, that one isn't the answer". Just as today we get our power from a range of sources, future power will be generated from a diverse offering as well. Wherever there is motion, one can generate electricity, and there are a lot of things moving naturally in the world.

The challenge will be negotiating the next few decades. Pressure to replace fossil fuels will continue to mount, but a fully renewable portfolio is not yet ready for prime time. A great deal of venture capital is going into renewable technology development, and the prospects are exciting, but the timeline is impossible to predict.

The solution will be a combination of increased efficiency and a broad range of energy sources that will in the near future include both clean and dirty means of generation. We'll probably see more nuclear plants and the abundance of coal will keep it in the mix for a while, although as the most carbon intensive fossil fuel the pressure will build to move past coal as soon as we can.

I favor pure electric vehicles over fuel cells and hydrogen. It's a simpler fix with far fewer technological challenges drawing its energy from an existing electricity infrastructure that can be cleaned up on its own time frame.

But if a means can be found to use less energy to isolate hydrogen than we get back from using it and fuel cells can become more affordable and reliable I could be proven wrong on that one.

All of these and more are hot topics in government and industry circles, where the reality of anthropogenic climate change and imminent policy to address it is well accepted, if embraced grudgingly by some and enthusiastically by others.

I certainly don't have all the answers but there are a lot of people smarter than me working hard to find them. Despite the number of vocal global warming skeptics found here, the percentage is far smaller in the mainstream science and policy development arenas, and that gives me hope that we'll be able to navigate our way through the challenges to come.

Dave
 Ahoytheredave
Joined: 8/29/2006
Msg: 43
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The Science of Global Warming
Posted: 7/16/2008 9:00:04 AM
My biggest disagreement with many in this thread is how to achieve solutions to our problems. I have dedicated my life to innovation and solutions while most of this crowd seems to prefer trusting government solutions. I have yet to find the perfection of government intellect they seem to believe is so universal. My peers, including myself, have delivered high efficiency electronics, lighting systems, etc. while the government approach has produced taxes and mandates that often do more harm than good. I have notebooks full of technologies and concepts that could address energy issues but in promoting these ideas, I face the uphill battles of NIH (not invented here) with its origins in academia. Whenever I have engaged one of these battles, I have won and done what my peers or professors said was impossible but its a tiring and long process. I have yet to achieve the financial independence to bypass tenured stupidity but I still plod along. I have presented to the investment community but they tend to favor what they know works instead of taking risks and as a result, invest in fads that go bankrupt in the face of competition who started the fads. In one case, my favored competition for investment was yet another biofuels startup that died when gas prices dropped. Yes, the solutions are in innovation but that does not come from text books and government mandates. It comes from invention and engineering, not paper publishing and bureaucrats.
Our society is led by celebrities, when they are not in rehab, who work to get their favorite lawyers elected to office. Over 80% of our elected officials now are lawyers, most with absolutely no technical background who have taken an oath to put aside moral judgments and work in their paying client’s interests regardless of what impact the client’s action or their own efforts do to others or the environment. Yup, good choice to trust their wisdom.
 wvwaterfall
Joined: 1/17/2007
Msg: 44
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Posted: 7/16/2008 10:16:29 AM

My biggest disagreement with many in this thread is how to achieve solutions to our problems. I have dedicated my life to innovation and solutions while most of this crowd seems to prefer trusting government solutions. I have yet to find the perfection of government intellect they seem to believe is so universal. My peers, including myself, have delivered high efficiency electronics, lighting systems, etc. while the government approach has produced taxes and mandates that often do more harm than good.


We may disagree on whether there is sufficient scientific justification to take action on climate change, but I do share many of your frustrations with a system that presents so many roadblocks for innovative technological advancement. I have several friends who share your predicament.

I hope none of my posts have implied the 'perfection of government intellect' you reference. For the most part, I find 'government intellect' to be as oxymoronic as 'military intelligence', perhaps more so.

That's why I advocate for solutions where the governmental role is to set the targets, with incentives to achieve them, then step aside and let innovators like you come up with the technologies to achieve those targets.

Independent thinkers have been responsible for every major leap forward in our species that I can think of. All of them have had to buck the lethargy of the status quo that the masses naturally fall into. We get comfortable with how things are and resist change.

And it's that resistance to change that at least on the surface seems to be at the root of most climate change skeptic arguments. What I hear repeated over and over is "why should we do things differently if I'm not convinced there's a enough evidence humans can play a role in affecting the climate?"

Even if it were to turn out that the dominant theories on climate change are faulty, which I seriously doubt, but even if that were the case, there are ample benefits to be gleaned by transitioning to cleaner, more efficient energy use that entails living in harmony with the planet rather than viewing it as a big pile of goodies free for the taking with no negative consequences for waste, pollution, and disregard for every other species we share our only home with.

If climate scientists and climate change policy advocates are right, at the end of this century we'll be using far less energy to achieve the same or greater levels of comfort and convenience while enjoying the benefits of far healthier ecosystems than we'd have if we don't take action. If they're wrong but we still follow their guidance, we'll still have all that.

The only difference will be whether we've actually made a difference in terms of climate. That's important, but either way we'll be in much better shape than if we continue with 'business as usual' in these very unusual times.

Dave
 Dr. Gazebo
Joined: 3/24/2008
Msg: 45
The Science of Global Warming
Posted: 7/16/2008 5:44:53 PM
I worked in research for ten years. You?

BSc, MSc, MEd, PhD
UBC
Simon Fraser
Ryerson University
Former Dean, Acting Dean, Associate Dean
Professor

Now back to our regularly scheduled show! I love this debate, its scientific, its informed and its worthwhile. Thank you so much for the contributions guys.
 montanan76
Joined: 3/11/2007
Msg: 46
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Posted: 7/16/2008 8:53:16 PM
Looking for opinions from the well informed of just what percentage has just volcanic eruptions and forest fires contributed to the co2 emmissions for the last 60 years? Less or more then the industrial emmissions and how much or how less? list your sources please.
 Ahoytheredave
Joined: 8/29/2006
Msg: 47
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Posted: 7/16/2008 10:12:54 PM

I worked in research for ten years. You?

This takes some explaining.
As a visual thinker, I tend to see in more than three or four dimensions. Seeing the "larger picture" is second nature. I have always been at odds with those that would put me in their two or three dimensional box. At the same time, I am challenged to explain something so second nature to me.

Visual thinkers are at greatest odds with academics who tend to be auditory thinkers. The more successful the academic, the less we understand each other. Auditory thinkers, the common description for those opposite of visual thinkers, communicate with each other quite well and are generally quite successful in academics. The classroom and its two dimensional order is their environment. They become the educators of educators, the cream of the academic crop. In effect, the very top of the academic environment are the least able to communicate with visual thinkers who are imprisoned by the classroom. Thinking "out of the box" is a punishable offense in academia. Been there done that. Its not a friendly place for visual thinkers and has not been since the first classroom. This filtering explains why people most successful in the real world are not the most successful students but I am not sure I could explain why although it is obvious to me. Your original post was quite clear in the desire to exclude ideas outside of your box.

I have officially been in corporate R&D for nearly 30 years but was recognized for invention by my first year of school. I was tearing apart my battery powered toys of that era and creating speed controls for them from pencil leads and other resistive materials. I had built several radios of various technologies by the third grade. By the fifth grade I had an understanding of the multiphase binary ALU arithmetic processes that was one of the core innovations of the early Cray computers some years later although now fairly common in pipelined high end microprocessors. I converted the first of several TVs into an oscilloscope by the ninth grade. I did have a little help biasing an amplifier circuit for that project from a cousin who had recently graduated from MIT although that was a minor contribution. Other than him, I had absolutely no assistance. I lived on a ranch outside a small city and my father had died when I was 12. I was so poor, I actually soldered connections with a nail on the stove. My accomplishments by high school graduation landed me an engineering job with IBM at 18. I quit to get a degree at a school I chose because one of my school science fair plans had been done and professors at that school had been granted patents on the concept. I changed science fair project plans and instead created a fuel system for a gasoline engine that employed ultrasonics to inject water and improve the fuel air mix in order to lower pollution and increase efficiency. I borrowed time on a gas chromatograph at a local refinery to test the pollution. The project idea I abandoned addressed wind turbine generator synchronization to power grids. To this day, I feel the lead judge at the state science fair, a tenured professor, was such a skeptic of the innovation I had done that his vote cost me a trip to national. His university had been in my plans until that science fair. I won every award from every organization at the state science fair but the one that counted. I ran into the lead professor, who had been grated the patent, a couple of years after graduation and he asked "How does it feel to be out of school where you can learn something?"

So how long have I been in "research" or do you define research in term of a narrow minded academic environment with peer review?

One of the Phds I work with asked where I get the ideas. I explained the process as seeing in more dimensions while using the concept to explain how Einstein understood relativity and Edison saw his inventions. Both were academic outcasts. My coworker commented he had never had it explained so clearly before so I use the explanation here.
 nicebluiz
Joined: 5/23/2006
Msg: 48
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Posted: 7/17/2008 5:36:17 AM
Peacethx, I'm going to correct you for future reference here. The IPCC consists of 600 scientists, 600 expert reviewers, and 1300 "bureaucrats." My source here is the press release of the IPCC accompanying the release of the Summary for Policymakers in February, 2007. There aren't 5,000 scientists to make their opinion known in those reports.
 CountIbli
Joined: 6/1/2005
Msg: 49
The Science of Global Warming
Posted: 7/17/2008 8:03:23 AM

There is no 'perceived' global warming. There is actual global warming, recorded by measuring global temperatures over a period of years. There are actual increases year by year in the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. And there is an actual rise in the sea level, and an actual dimunition of ice caps at the poles. These are all recorded, verifiable facts. You may try to debate the cause, but the effects exist.


Actually there isn't any global warming. There's northern hemispheric warming. AGW predicts that warming will be greatest at the poles, but the south pole has seen no significant warming. AGW also predicts an increase in precipitation. At the poles this should translate to a thickening of the ice (as the area decreases). At the poles we've seen a decrease in the area of the ice but also a thinning (in the southern hemisphere there's also been an increase in sea ice). The shrinking of the southern polar ice is mysterious since there's been no significant warming there. AGW predicts an increase in oceanic hurricanes. No increase has been observed in 4 out of 5 of the world's oceans.

It should come as no surprise that AGW is a failed theory. Even the IPCC admits that the effects of ocean currents, aerosols, cloud cover, and glacier movement are not well understood or modeled.
 Dr. Gazebo
Joined: 3/24/2008
Msg: 50
The Science of Global Warming
Posted: 7/17/2008 3:32:24 PM
At the poles this should translate to a thickening of the ice (as the area decreases).

What????

This makes no sense at all. Ice cap melts, ice becomes thicker. ...that isnt even reasonable logic prima facie.
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