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  #521  
Old 02.08.2008, 14:05
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Re: Global Warming - what's behind it?

This graphic is from Stanford university:


(The thin yellow line shows the solar activity)

Here's what they say:

Solar Variability & Global Warming Some uncertainty remains about the role of natural variations in causing climate change. Solar variability certainly plays a minor role, but it looks like only a quarter of the recent variations can be attributed to the Sun. At most. During the initial discovery period of global warming, the magnitude of the influence of increased activity on the Sun was not well determined.
Solar irradiance changes have been measured reliably by satellites for only 30 years. These precise observations show changes of a few tenths of a percent that depend on the level of activity in the 11-year solar cycle. Changes over longer periods must be inferred from other sources. Estimates of earlier variations are important for calibrating the climate models. While a component of recent global warming may have been caused by the increased solar activity of the last solar cycle, that component was very small compared to the effects of additional greenhouse gases. According to a NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) press release, "...the solar increases do not have the ability to cause large global temperature increases...greenhouse gases are indeed playing the dominant role..." The Sun is once again less bright as we approach solar minimum, yet global warming continues.
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  #522  
Old 03.08.2008, 10:23
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Re: Global Warming - what's behind it?

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I recently listened to a guy on the radio interviewing some "scientist" and their discussion was about the "impending ice age" and food shortages.
This seems appropriate

Climate Experts Tussle Over Details. Public Gets Whiplash.

Maybe worth a thread of its own.
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  #523  
Old 03.08.2008, 11:09
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Re: Global Warming - what's behind it?

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This seems appropriate

Climate Experts Tussle Over Details. Public Gets Whiplash.

Maybe worth a thread of its own.
Very interesting article.
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  #524  
Old 03.08.2008, 11:33
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Re: Global Warming - what's behind it?

That's definitely a good article. I think it illustrates a good point in the "debate" about climate change.

The debate in the scientific community has stopped being whether or not global warming is happening (it is.). The debate has moved on to what are the expected effects and what is the magnitude of the problem.

Example: The debate isn't about whether or not Greenland's ice sheets are melting (they are), the debate is how fast they are melting, and what are the mechanisms behind the melting?

When it comes to predicting effects of climate change there are assumptions that have to be made. No one can tell you with certainty what the climate will look like in 20 years. They can tell you that it will likely be warmer than now, with some confidence. How much warmer? 0.5 C? 1C? 2C? Simply put, we don't know.

One of the biggest uncertainties in predicting the future rise in temperature is that we don't know what future anthropogenic (human) emissions will look like. All the knowledge of physics / chemistry / meterology / etc. in the world won't tell us what humans will do.

So while all simulations of the future climate (exploring a range of emission scenarios) indicate a warming, the magnitude of the warming is not known. The attached figure below is from Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change summary for policy makers: http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/assessment-re...r4_syr_spm.pdf

I highly recommend a read of this document for basics on the science of global warming. It is a synthesis of the scientific community's assessment of the problem, and has been extensively peer reviewed. The full IPCC report, is quite a beast, and can be found at: http://www.ipcc.ch/

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This seems appropriate

Climate Experts Tussle Over Details. Public Gets Whiplash.

Maybe worth a thread of its own.
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  #525  
Old 03.08.2008, 12:33
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Re: Global Warming - what's behind it?

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When it comes to predicting effects of climate change there are assumptions that have to be made. No one can tell you with certainty what the climate will look like in 20 years. They can tell you that it will likely be warmer than now, with some confidence. How much warmer? 0.5 C? 1C? 2C? Simply put, we don't know.
True. We don't know. And scientists are careful in their use of language. That includes the language of uncertainty. Having said that, there are some explicit-sounding statements in the Contribution of Working Group III to the
Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Summary for Policymakers
(PDF Alert).

Look at the scariness in table SPM.5 (page 15). In my opinion, the IPCC is too conservative. Both by nature, but also since some of the alarming data and observations (Ross Ice Shelf, Greenland Ice Sheet, Arctic Sea ice coverage) that have come to light since the data in the report were finalised.

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One of the biggest uncertainties in predicting the future rise in temperature is that we don't know what future anthropogenic (human) emissions will look like.
True. But as climate data sets get broader and deeper, science is getting better at predicting the likely outcomes of a given scenario.

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All the knowledge of physics / chemistry / meterology / etc. in the world won't tell us what humans will do.
That is something economics could have helped with. Unfortunately, in my opinion it has completely failed to come anywhere close. Economics is so wrong when compared to the real world, it frightens me.
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Old 03.08.2008, 12:43
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Re: Global Warming - what's behind it?

Now, something that I think is badly neglected in the drive to reduce emissions is the effect of population increases.

Using some numbers from Wikipedia (I know, I know...), a projected increase in the population of Asia (1.1 billion more people by 2050) would result in 0.36 billion tonnes of CO2 per year through breathing alone (1.1 x 10^9 x 0.9 kg/day CO2 per person x 365 days per year). Add in energy requirements, loss of trees due to space needed for housing, etc and that's quite worrying.

Why are there so few efforts to persuade the international community to try and decrease population growth? I mentioned this on another forum and was accused of being pro-abortionist and that God would sort me out...
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Old 03.08.2008, 13:15
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Re: Global Warming - what's behind it?

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Why are there so few efforts to persuade the international community to try and decrease population growth? I mentioned this on another forum and was accused of being pro-abortionist and that God would sort me out...
Would that have been the "Fundamentalist Catholics and Born Again Right-Wing Neo-Con Association of America" forum?

The respected intellectual President Bush has been interfering in this regard.

NY Times search.
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Old 03.08.2008, 14:05
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Re: Global Warming - what's behind it?

"Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances of survival for life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet." Albert Einstein

Deforestation is responsible for about half of man made global warming. If you add intensive farming and methane, it is the biggest contributor by far.

CO2 is the second most important GHG, water vapor is number 1, and science still can't understand and predict cloud formation. The uncertainty is huge.

Fact is there is so much info out there that we should know by now... what we do know is that the climate is changing fast. It's all a matter of scale and time. So, without human interference, the planet would be still warming, but at a much slower rate. (deforestation and intensive farming is the main cause)

"It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but rather the one most responsive to change." Charles Darwin
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  #529  
Old 03.08.2008, 14:36
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Re: Global Warming - what's behind it?

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"Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances of survival for life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet." Albert Einstein
In terms of food supply, I mostly agree with that. Exceptions being where it makes more sense to grow meat on land that would not support food crops.

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Deforestation is responsible for about half of man made global warming. If you add intensive farming and methane, it is the biggest contributor by far.
Can you please quote your source for that statement? And preferably the data source to back it up.

I just looked at Contribution of Working Group III to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Summary for Policymakers and on page 4 there are graphs of CO2-equivalent GHG emissions. The vertical axes are in units of Gt CO2eq/yr. On that page, for 2004, I get about 3 + 3 + 3 = 9 Gt CO2eq/yr for deforestation CO2, agricultural CH4 and N2O, respectively. Total GHG for 2004 is about 50 Gt CO2eq/yr. 9 / 50 = 18%, not 50%.
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CO2 is the second most important GHG, water vapor is number 1, and science still can't understand and predict cloud formation. The uncertainty is huge.
I think you must be careful here. Statements like that are often used to "disrove" the scientific fact that what are effectively trace amounts of CO2 can have the effect it does. In fact, if you look at the start of this thread, you will see such arguments. Here is a useful discussion.

Water vapour: feedback or forcing?

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So, without human interference, the planet would be still warming, but at a much slower rate. (deforestation and intensive farming is the main cause)
Mmm. Not sure that we wouldn't be in an Ice Age cycle. So one is inclined to ask for how long would the climate warm overall before cooling?
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Old 03.08.2008, 15:47
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Re: Global Warming - what's behind it?

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Using some numbers from Wikipedia (I know, I know...), a projected increase in the population of Asia (1.1 billion more people by 2050) would result in 0.36 billion tonnes of CO2 per year through breathing alone (1.1 x 10^9 x 0.9 kg/day CO2 per person x 365 days per year). Add in energy requirements, loss of trees due to space needed for housing, etc and that's quite worrying.
CO2 from breathing is not a problem. As long as the food we eat isn't derived from fossil fuels. There isn't a problem with CO2 as long as it's part of the contemporary carbon cycle. What is getting us into trouble is that we are burning carbon in the form of fossil fuels that has been buried for millions of years and adding it into the carbon that's already in the system.

Basically we eat food, sugars, proteins, etc, carbon based energy. We breathe oxygen. Our bodies utilize the energy of our food and we breathe out CO2. Plants "breathe" in CO2 during photosynthesis, use the sun's energy to reduce CO2 into sugars, which we or animals eat and we have a closed cycle. This is an EXTREME simplification of the carbon cycle, but if there were only people eating food, and not burning fossil fuels, the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere would be in an equilibrium. By burning fossil fuels, whether it be from driving burning coal for power or whatever, we are adding carbon into the cycle, forcing the climate system out of equilibrium, and to higher CO2 levels.

So the point is more people breathing out CO2 doesn't add CO2 to the system, as long as they're not eating, literally or metaphorically, coal and oil.
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Old 03.08.2008, 19:40
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Re: Global Warming - what's behind it?

Ah, but it does in a way - petrochemical fertilisers, oil-based pesticides, irigation powered by electricity derived from fossil fuels, fuel needed to transport food, etc. As more food is required, more fertiliser is needed, more land is needed for growing crops (which usually means cutting down trees), so less of the CO2 emitted is likely to be absorbed...
It's fairly clear that changing how we produce energy to meet demand in a way that doesn't harm the environment (I know a lot of people in the RSPB would just love to rip down wind farms for what they do to wildlife, let alone the now-approved Severn tidal barrage) isn't easy if we're to meet current demand, but increasing the population will increase demand.
alternative energy stands a better chance if we're not dumping millions of extra people onto the planet each year.
However, the initiative for this has to lie with Asia, Africa and South America, who are likely to experience the biggest population increase. It won't be popular and will be very difficult to implement, but I think it's a very important part of reducing the impact of climate change.

On a different point, there was an article on the BBC for different technicological fixes for global warming. One of these was to shoot rockets full of sulphur into the upper atmosphere in order for the SO2 particles to reflect back sunlight. There were many and various drawbacks to this, so I emailed the chap in charge with a modified suggestion: spray a very thin veil of aluminium particles in a low-Earth orbit. You'd only need to reflect a small portion of the sunlight that reaches Earth to offset warming for long enough for us to get our act sorted out on the ground. Also, the particles would be burnt up in the atmosphere after a short while, so no permanent effect. Aluminium being very light, means that more can taken up on each launch, so would be fairly efficient.
However, the guy poo-poohed it, saying that it would mean the Earth would become ice-bound and we'd all die. Arguments he circumvents in his plan... Wouldn't be too surprised if he suggests that soon, though.

Now where's my Nobel prize...?
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  #532  
Old 03.08.2008, 20:06
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Re: Global Warming - what's behind it?

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By burning fossil fuels, whether it be from driving burning coal for power or whatever, we are adding carbon into the cycle, forcing the climate system out of equilibrium, and to higher CO2 levels.
It could even enter into a new, higher equilibrium (fixed state).
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Old 03.08.2008, 20:26
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Re: Global Warming - what's behind it?

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This is an EXTREME simplification of the carbon cycle, but if there were only people eating food, and not burning fossil fuels, the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere would be in an equilibrium. By burning fossil fuels, whether it be from driving burning coal for power or whatever, we are adding carbon into the cycle, forcing the climate system out of equilibrium, and to higher CO2 levels.

.
no lets tame volcanoes & drill more oil...

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Old 03.08.2008, 21:09
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Re: Global Warming - what's behind it?

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Ah, but it does in a way - petrochemical fertilisers, oil-based pesticides, irigation powered by electricity derived from fossil fuels, fuel needed to transport food, etc. As more food is required, more fertiliser is needed, more land is needed for growing crops (which usually means cutting down trees), so less of the CO2 emitted is likely to be absorbed...
Point was simply that most of the carbon in plants (excluding pesticides, fertilizers are typically used to provide nitrogen and other nutrients, but not carbon, to plants) is already part of the cycle. The burning of fossil fuels to irrigate, transport, and store food, doesn't have much to do with the original point about people breathing out CO2. It is obvious that this is an additional part of CO2 and there is quite a bit of research into carbon footprints etc. which take all this into account.

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On a different point, there was an article on the BBC for different technicological fixes for global warming. One of these was to shoot rockets full of sulphur into the upper atmosphere in order for the SO2 particles to reflect back sunlight. There were many and various drawbacks to this, so I emailed the chap in charge with a modified suggestion: spray a very thin veil of aluminium particles in a low-Earth orbit. You'd only need to reflect a small portion of the sunlight that reaches Earth to offset warming for long enough for us to get our act sorted out on the ground. Also, the particles would be burnt up in the atmosphere after a short while, so no permanent effect. Aluminium being very light, means that more can taken up on each launch, so would be fairly efficient.
However, the guy poo-poohed it, saying that it would mean the Earth would become ice-bound and we'd all die. Arguments he circumvents in his plan... Wouldn't be too surprised if he suggests that soon, though.

Now where's my Nobel prize...?
Yes Paul Crutzen (nobel prize winner) suggested this as a potential geoengineering plan. It has received a mixed reception. First off, we don't know long term effects, and with a life time of 2 or so years in the stratosphere, we have the potential of screwing things up.

As for aluminum in low earth orbit, that is a lot more costly than putting Sulfur in the stratosphere. Stratosphere is 10-50 km above the earth's surface, low earth orbit is 160-2000 km above earth's surface. So assuming we want to inject sulfur into the stratosphere at 20 km, or aluminum into LEO at 160 km, the surface area of the veil of particles in space is equal to 4*pi*r^2, so the ratio of (160/20)^2 = 64. Essentially you would need 64 times more mass in Low Earth Orbit than you would need in the stratosphere. If one takes into account the fact that Sulfur reacts in the stratosphere to form Sulfuric acid which essentially triples the mass of sulfur orignially injected. You can add that factor of three and find that you need nearly 200 times less mass of sulfur for Paul Crutzen's scheme vs Aluminum in Low Earth Orbit.

Sorry, I don't think that's going to get you a Nobel Prize.
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Old 03.08.2008, 21:54
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Re: Global Warming - what's behind it?

Sorry, but there's some serious flaws in your mathematics there. The ratio of surfaces areas is badly out. You're using the height above the Earth as r when it should be the total radius of the sphere, so the ratio of surface areas is in fact (6560/6420)^2 or 1.044 (given the Earth's radius as 6400 km). Even then, that would only work if the two schemes worked in similar ways - and they don't. The SO2 route works on a concetration of gas, reflection being proportional to concentration, while the aluminim particles work by reflection from the surface area. So, the smaller your aluminium particles, the higher the surface area to volume ratio, making it more efficient still.
And, the assumption that because the sulphur combines with oxygen in the stratosphere its weight increases is also wrong. There is exactly the same amount of sulphur regardless of whether it combines or not. It only works out more efficient than sending up SO2.
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Old 03.08.2008, 22:35
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Re: Global Warming - what's behind it?

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...

I recently listened to a guy on the radio interviewing some "scientist" and their discussion was about the "impending ice age" and food shortages.
...
I'll just quickly jump in to note that somewhere the astronomers are *working* on a valid warning system for major meteor impacts.
In this case nobody is debating the what ifs.

For some reason, food shortages and the possibility (possibility, mind you) of societal turmoil and conflict arising from climate *change* (not "warming") is instead open to a conflicting, bruising debate which is just adding more noise and hiding the "signal".

The signal is (IMHO) - Life (of all species) on earth as we know it is way more fragile than we could have imagined just only 50 years ago. Human activity was blessed with a geological blip of stability which allowed us to prosper. Are we able to survive in a more unstable environment? Are we able to build the tools - both practical and conceptual - that we need to survive in a world of extremes? It's really that "simple" (ahem).

But someone - probably a few million (or is it 100'000s?) human beings or so - would possibly have to lead a life with less privileges / perks / "power".
And personally I think that a lot of the "noise" I mentioned before is being generated by those who stand to lose the acquired or prospective perks and privileges.

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Old 03.08.2008, 22:41
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Re: Global Warming - what's behind it?

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Sorry, but there's some serious flaws in your mathematics there. The ratio of surfaces areas is badly out. You're using the height above the Earth as r when it should be the total radius of the sphere, so the ratio of surface areas is in fact (6560/6420)^2 or 1.044 (given the Earth's radius as 6400 km).
Agreed, the radius was off, I didn't account for the radius of the earth.

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Even then, that would only work if the two schemes worked in similar ways - and they don't. The SO2 route works on a concetration of gas, reflection being proportional to concentration, while the aluminim particles work by reflection from the surface area. So, the smaller your aluminium particles, the higher the surface area to volume ratio, making it more efficient still.
The Sulfur route actually works in the same way as the Aluminum route. You form particles in the stratosphere, not gaseous SO2. This is what happens when Volcanoes erupt and inject SO2 into the stratosphere, so the mechanism (reflection by particles). Note that scattering (back scattering in this case = reflection) is a function of particle size (Mie Theory), and there is an optimum size depending on the wavelength of the light you are trying to reflect, so smaller is not necessarily better.

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And, the assumption that because the sulphur combines with oxygen in the stratosphere its weight increases is also wrong. There is exactly the same amount of sulphur regardless of whether it combines or not. It only works out more efficient than sending up SO2.
Of course there is the same amount of sulfur, but since we're making particles, it does actually matter. By combining with Oxygen, and converting to H2SO4 it makes larger particles than just sulfur. This of course is important because we care about particle size. (not gaseous sulfur)

Another point: Assuming masses are equal (they are not, I still maintain the 3 fold gain in particle mass / size with Sulfur), you still need to address the costs of sending a huge amount of mass 160km above the earth's surface. This is incredibly more costly than sending it only 20km above the surface.

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Old 04.08.2008, 22:09
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Re: Global Warming - what's behind it?

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This seems appropriate

Climate Experts Tussle Over Details. Public Gets Whiplash.

Maybe worth a thread of its own.
And another one from the Nature Climate Change section. A different tack, but maybe helps to explain why scientists do a poor job of interdisciplinary efforts and interface poorly with economists.

A New kind Of Scientist.

And, like it or not, in my opinion, we really must try and educate economists to what is really going on in the world, and if necessary make their discipline scientific.
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Old 05.08.2008, 09:50
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Re: Global Warming - what's behind it?

As a scientist, albeit a biologist, I have always been condition to question perceived scientific dogma. In my opinion, there is enough argument, evidence and research articles which contradict the IPCC conclusions and Gore's bombastic declarations. Global Warming advocates are always stating that the evidence is incontrovertible, yet even doing the most basic search, you will find peer-reviewed research papers which don't buck the trend. My conclusion is that the jury is still very much out on this issue, yet we are constantly bombarded by the "party line" from the governments, news items, even bloody car commercials for pete's sake! Surely we would be better off, diverting all these precious funds to fighting worldwide poverty and disease, tangible, recognisable problems, rather than sinking it into an ill-conceived research black hole.
Just consider these points; solar activity, water vapour, sulphur, carbon particles, CO2 / heating cause and effect, tree-ring data, perceived lack of warming since 1998, the "hockey stick" data, natural climate cycles etc etc. Are you really willing to divert all those precious funds to inflate the egos of politicians worldwide?
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Old 05.08.2008, 10:12
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Re: Global Warming - what's behind it?

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Just consider these points; solar activity, water vapour, sulphur, carbon particles, CO2 / heating cause and effect, tree-ring data, perceived lack of warming since 1998, the "hockey stick" data, natural climate cycles etc etc. Are you really willing to divert all those precious funds to inflate the egos of politicians worldwide?
No, your right, it's probably nothing, most of these scientitst are crusading hippies with an unknown agenda designed to curtail our economic progress, followed by attention seeking politicians. It's taken at least 20 years for these crackpot theories to be taken seriously, given enough time, we can get it right back to crackpot status. What's the worst that could happen?
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climate change, climategate, co2, global warming




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