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My belief in Global Warming is getting shaky


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#1 engineerdude

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Posted 18 December 2007 - 12:17 PM

Hi everybody,

I consider myself to be a life-long environmentalist. I have, in my own small ways, worked against aerosols, acid rain, general pollution, and of late Co2/Global Warming.

As a dad and a science-oriented person, I have always been able to logically explain scientific things to my kids. I have explained how optics work via experiments, illustrated Darwinian evolution via fossil records, I've mixed my baking soda and vinegar a dozen times.

To the point, I have not been able to explain man-made global warming to my eldest, 10 year old daughter. I simply can't find a shred of basic evidence that shows that carbon dioxide levels have any effect on how warm our planet is. I'm getting a little desperate.

I searched the most recent IPCC report. I really looked at the report for help - and there was nothing I could use. The charts of ice core samples only show Co2 follows changes in climate - not that changes in Co2 cause climate change. To me, all the report did was state the obvious - that the planet is getting warmer. Where I sit in Toledo Ohio used to be under an ice sheet a mile thick - no ice now. The earth seems to have been getting warmer for a long time, with no help from people. There were pages of calculations in the IPCC report - but I have seen pages of calculations that show just the opposite of their conclusions, and Britt my daughter wouldn't grasp the math anyways.

To top it all off, we have a small greenhouse, and Britt knows too well that greenhouses don't stay warm via "The Greenhouse Effect".

At risk is my daughter's (and to be honest my) belief in authority. My congresswoman, Britt's teacher, people in Bali, all seem to really believe that Co2 has something to do with global warming. Could the Nobel prize people really be wrong?

The earth is a complex system - maybe in a thousand years we can do math to predict the weather, but not now. I need some basic, easy to understand evidence. Please don't link me a webpage with one side's propoganda - I need some ammo here, as in "The last ice age was caused because there were too many plants which took all the Co2 out of the air, look at this data".

So, what am I missing?

#2 InfiniteNow

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Posted 18 December 2007 - 01:28 PM

Hi eDude,

Here's a good link with an intro on the topic:

Ch 7. Carbon Cycle

The flow of carbon throughout the biosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and geosphere is one of the most complex, interesting, and important of the global cycles. More than any other global cycle, the carbon cycle challenges us to draw together information from biology, chemistry, oceanography, and geology in order to understand how it works and what causes it to change. The major reservoirs for carbon and the processes that move carbon from reservoir to reservoir are shown in Figure 7.00 below. We will discuss these processes in more detail below and then we will construct and experiment with various renditions of the carbon cycle, but first, we will explore some of the history of carbon cycle studies.


Posted Image






A guy from another forum I freqent put it pretty well. I'm going to quote him here, but it's not my intention to use this as a source or citation, just an explanation:

Ok, for starters, lets take a greenhouse gas molecule like, say, carbon dioxide:

Posted Image


Take a good look at it. Let it sink in.

Ok, now that particular molecule can absorb mostly infrared radiation. Now, how does it do this. Well, when a beam of infrared radiation strikes that molecule, it causes it to vibrate. It is then released , where the particular beam now has less energy. It moves on, where it would either strike the ground or will hit yet another greenhouse molecule. As it turns out, all greenhouse gases have this property, absorbing different wavelengths of course.

Now, lets take a look at a chart which displays what exactly the sun emits:

Posted Image

(SOURCE: Greenhouse Effect: Background Material)

As you can see, the sun emits mostly visible light, infrared radiation, and UV radiation. 43% of it is visible light in particular, BUT the atmosphere is mostly transparent to visible light. About 7-8% of it is UV, and about the same amount of it is infrared, both of which is absorbed by the atmosphere before it hits the ground. These may seem like small numbers, but they are pretty significant given the amount of energy that hits Earth on a daily basis.

Now, lets get back to this carbon dioxide molecule here. Because it has this intrinsic property, that means it can retain heat and consequentially raise the temperature (which by the way is a measure of the average energy). Our atmosphere may contain less than 0.04% of it in our atmosphere, but as we can see this small amount is more than enough to heat the planet up to allow it to have a temperate climate. And, given the trillions upon trillions of tons of gases that make up our atmosphere in total, 0.04% isn't that small a number.

Now, you may ask, what is the point of all this. Well then, because of this property, and given the BILLIONS of tons of greenhouse gases we are dumping into the atmosphere (among other things) every year, we know for certain that we do, indeed, contribute to climate change to some degree. And, we also know that we are releasing more and more greenhouse gases every year too, more so than the year before that.



That explains most of the "how." Now, you just need to recognize the scope of our contributions to atmospheric CO2. It is NOT an easy topic, so please ask questions. That's the only way you can learn, and it helps us to view the issue in new ways. :shrug:

#3 InfiniteNow

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Posted 18 December 2007 - 01:35 PM

Basically, molecules of CO2 when hit by light heat up and retain that heat. The more CO2 molecules, the more heat retained. This is an extreme oversimplification, but it might help get you started on the path to greater understanding.

#4 Tormod

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Posted 18 December 2007 - 02:33 PM

The charts of ice core samples only show Co2 follows changes in climate - not that changes in Co2 cause climate change. To me, all the report did was state the obvious - that the planet is getting warmer. Where I sit in Toledo Ohio used to be under an ice sheet a mile thick - no ice now.


I don't buy your arguments. If you are so scientifically inclined, would you not also have to point out that, of course, there have been several periods of warming *and* cooling where you live? Evidence at certain points in time would "prove" that the planet is getting cooler. Which it occasionally is.

The executive summary of the 2001 IPCC report explains how carbon dioxide levels are higher than in at least 420,000 years, possibly 20 million years. More interestingly, the *rate of increase* has not been higher in at least 20,000 years.

Climate Change 2001: The Scientific Basis

Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels will appear to follow trends in warming and cooling because these levels do vary over time. It is the overall change over time, ie rate of increase, that is the object of worry.

That carbon dioxide causes global warming is not really an issue for debate any longer. Whether it is due to human factors is.

If you need an experiment I suggest building a greenhouse to see if you can simulate the effect of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

#5 moyself

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Posted 11 February 2008 - 10:14 AM

If you read the article below, you will see what global warming really is. It is a SHORT article so you should read it. Global warming is real, but we don't really need to worry about it-it is merely a cycle. X number of years of warming, X number of years of cooling, and so on.

the following is taken from smh dot com

One of the world's foremost meteorologists has called the theory that helped Al Gore share the Nobel Peace Prize "ridiculous" and the product of "people who don't understand how the atmosphere works".

Dr William Gray, a pioneer in the science of seasonal hurricane forecasts, told a packed lecture hall at the University of North Carolina that humans were not responsible for the warming of the earth.

His comments came on the same day that the Nobel committee honoured Mr Gore for his work in support of the link between humans and global warming.

"We're brainwashing our children," said Dr Gray, 78, a long-time professor at Colorado State University. "They're going to the Gore movie [An Inconvenient Truth] and being fed all this. It's ridiculous."

At his first appearance since the award was announced in Oslo, Mr Gore said: "We have to quickly find a way to change the world's consciousness about exactly what we're facing."

[Moderation note: cropped for fair use / source added]

-The Seattle Times



#6 InfiniteNow

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Posted 11 February 2008 - 11:30 AM

I have three words for you.


Check... Your... Facts.


:D



The natural cycles argument doesn't hold water on this one.

Global Warming Myths and Facts - Global Warming - Environmental Defense

MYTH: Global warming is just part of a natural cycle. The Arctic has warmed up in the past.

FACT: The global warming we are experiencing is not natural. People are causing it.

People are causing global warming by burning fossil fuels (like oil, coal and natural gas) and cutting down forests. Scientists have shown that these activities are pumping far more CO2 into the atmosphere than was ever released in hundreds of thousands of years. This buildup of CO2 is the biggest cause of global warming. Since 1895, scientists have known that CO2 and other greenhouse gases trap heat and warm the earth. As the warming has intensified over the past three decades, scientific scrutiny has increased along with it. Scientists have considered and ruled out other, natural explanations such as sunlight, volcanic eruptions and cosmic rays. (IPCC 2001)

Though natural amounts of CO2 have varied from 180 to 300 parts per million (ppm), today's CO2 levels are around 380 ppm. That's 25% more than the highest natural levels over the past 650,000 years. Increased CO2 levels have contributed to periods of higher average temperatures throughout that long record. (Boden, Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center)

As for previous Arctic warming, it is true that there were stretches of warm periods over the Arctic earlier in the 20th century. The limited records available for that time period indicate that the warmth did not affect as many areas or persist from year to year as much as the current warmth. But that episode, however warm it was, is not relevant to the issue at hand. Why? For one, a brief regional trend does not discount a longer global phenomenon.

We know that the planet has been warming over the past several decades and Arctic ice has been melting persistently. And unlike the earlier periods of Arctic warmth, there is no expectation that the current upward trend in Arctic temperatures will reverse; the rising concentrations of greenhouse gases will prevent that from happening.



Additional points:

The concern is not based off of Al Gore's movie. It's based off of thousands of studies by thousands of researchers.

Meteorology and Climatology are not the same field.

Appeals to some grant money (or other) conspiracy does NOTHING to refute the data.

Lying about the issue helps no one.

#7 REASON

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Posted 11 February 2008 - 11:48 AM

One of the world's foremost meteorologists has called the theory that helped Al Gore share the Nobel Peace Prize "ridiculous" and the product of "people who don't understand how the atmosphere works".

Dr William Gray, a pioneer in the science of seasonal hurricane forecasts, told a packed lecture hall at the University of North Carolina that humans were not responsible for the warming of the earth.

His comments came on the same day that the Nobel committee honoured Mr Gore for his work in support of the link between humans and global warming.


I was wondering, moyself, if you could elaborate a bit on why it is you feel that Dr. Gray's assertions would be more legitimate scientifically than the preponderance of climatologists affiliated with the IPCC that recognize the human impact on global climate change.

Why does what he says carry more weight for you?

#8 Tormod

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Posted 11 February 2008 - 11:58 AM

the following is taken from smh dot com


From where?

#9 Thunderbird

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Posted 11 February 2008 - 12:02 PM

Dr. Gray is a fellow with the Independent Institute, a conservative organization.:D

#10 moyself

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Posted 11 February 2008 - 02:46 PM

I have three words for you.


Check... Your... Facts.


:D



The natural cycles argument doesn't hold water on this one.





Additional points:

The concern is not based off of Al Gore's movie. It's based off of thousands of studies by thousands of researchers.

Meteorology and Climatology are not the same field.

Appeals to some grant money (or other) conspiracy does NOTHING to refute the data.

Lying about the issue helps no one.


First off, tell me what I was lying about. Second of all, in my first post, it says that humans have very little effect on it. Want some proof of this? I happen to have some.

the following is taken from sciencedaily dot com(I would give the link but I don't have 10 posts yet

He cites a 1995 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a panel formed by the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme in 1988 to assess the risk of human-induced climate change. In the report, the IPCC wrote that some 90 billion tons of carbon as carbon dioxide annually circulate between the earth's ocean and the atmosphere, and another 60 billion tons exchange between the vegetation and the atmosphere.

Compared to man-made sources' emission of about 5 to 6 billion tons per year, the natural sources would then account for more than 95 percent of all atmospheric carbon dioxide, Essenhigh said.

"At 6 billion tons, humans are then responsible for a comparatively small amount - less than 5 percent - of atmospheric carbon dioxide," he said. "And if nature is the source of the rest of the carbon dioxide, then it is difficult to see that man-made carbon dioxide can be driving the rising temperatures. In fact, I don't believe it does."

#11 InfiniteNow

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Posted 11 February 2008 - 07:07 PM

in my first post, it says that humans have very little effect on it.

"Very little?" That doesn't sound like a very precise measurement. Is that "very little" metric, or "very little" in SI?


Want some proof of this? I happen to have some.

Yes. Please share your sources and cite your evidence.


the following is taken from sciencedaily dot com(I would give the link but I don't have 10 posts yet

He cites a 1995 report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a panel formed by the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme in 1988 to assess the risk of human-induced climate change.

Thank you. I am familiar with the IPCC. Also, please note that 1995 is more than 12 years ago, as it's now 2008. Several new and updated versions are now available of the work done by the IPCC.

Please note also that the IPCC doesn't do research, the bring together research from thousands of peer-reviewed articles and thousands of scientists, and from those collective sources form a meta-article with conclusions.


In the report, the IPCC wrote that some 90 billion tons of carbon as carbon dioxide annually circulate between the earth's ocean and the atmosphere, and another 60 billion tons exchange between the vegetation and the atmosphere.

Compared to man-made sources' emission of about 5 to 6 billion tons per year, the natural sources would then account for more than 95 percent of all atmospheric carbon dioxide, Essenhigh said.

"At 6 billion tons, humans are then responsible for a comparatively small amount - less than 5 percent - of atmospheric carbon dioxide," he said. "And if nature is the source of the rest of the carbon dioxide,


5% is huge! It's about systems and equilibrium, and 5% is MORE than enough to screw up an equilibrium and put a system out of balance.


then it is difficult to see that man-made carbon dioxide can be driving the rising temperatures. In fact, I don't believe it does."


Your opinion means little to me, as you are clearly not very well informed or educated on the matter. Can I change 5% of the air in your bedroom to toxic nerve gas? By your own account, it's difficult to see how this would have an effect.

#12 The D.S.

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Posted 11 February 2008 - 08:13 PM

I would like to congratulate InfiniteNow on making me laugh harder than I have ever laughed in a while at his response to the previous post. Wel done, well done indeed. Toxic nerve gas...(chuckles).

I would like to point out something interesting. At my university the professor asked how many people thought Global Warming was a hoax. HALF the class raised their hands and I was enraged by such ignorance. At that point I took it unto myself to stand up for people like us, here at hypography, were science and reason play a major role in our lives.

I, with great pleasure, informed everyone EXACTLY why Global Warming is real and that I wished they stop listening to idiots that think scientists make these things up for a good laugh at society. It was harsh, yet effective at getting my point across that they should think twice before saying they know something again.

Just thought I'd drop that in :D and by the way, I wouldnt doubt it if the classroom I was in could be mirrored to resemmble most of America.

#13 REASON

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Posted 11 February 2008 - 09:47 PM

There is a concerted effort by right wing conservatives, many of whom are deeply religious, to perpetuate the notion that global warming is nothing but hype. I hear this constantly on conservative talk radio, one of the primary means by which disinformation is disseminated nationally by talk show hosts that are not experts in climatology, nor even readily familiar with the work of scientists.

It's been a mystery to me as to why it is so important for them to continually cast doubt on the science, which is all they actually do in regards to this issue. They don't provide any alternate theories for the rapid increase in the mean global temperature over the last several decades. They talk about how cold it's been in places this winter and then scoff at the notion of global warming, which only demonstrates their ignorance. They claim that the real motivation of science is nothing but protectionism of government grants. They don't provide any alternate explanation for the rapid disappearance of glacial and polar ice. They don't reference qualified experts in the field of study. They don't attempt to refute the actual data that has been compiled by climatology consortiums such as the IPCC. They do link it to the liberal wacko Al Gore, in an effort to generate a negative emotional appeal to those they seek to influence.

What is this all about for them? What is actually at stake if they were to acknowledge the validity of the science? What drives their resistance?

I believe these questions are very legitimate to this thread because they go directly to why people in the United States have shaky or no beliefs in the reality of human generated climate change. And I specifically say United States because I believe that polling indicates we rank near, if not at the top with the percentage of people who reject global warming science among the major civilized nations in the world.

Could it be that these people don't want to have to take any responsibility? Is it just too difficult to have to change our way of life? Are they protecting the interests of the fossil fuel industry that may stand to lose profits if we switch to non-poluting energy, maybe because they have investments at stake? Maybe it's just because it has been spun as a liberal effort, and they have been convinced that everything liberal is evil. Maybe they believe that god has given us this Earth to use up as we please, and he won't let anything bad happen to it that will harm his beloved children.

I don't know for sure. There is never a reason given other than to just say global warming science is exaggerated. Why? Do any of the potential explanations above provide adequate justification to continue to do nothing?

I just don't get it. Any ideas? Maybe moyself would be willing to shed some light since he has obviously bought into the notion that it is all hype.

#14 freeztar

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Posted 12 February 2008 - 12:12 PM

I believe InfiniteNow has addressed this post well, but I'd like to add a few things

Want some proof of this? I happen to have some.

"At 6 billion tons, humans are then responsible for a comparatively small amount - less than 5 percent - of atmospheric carbon dioxide," he said. "And if nature is the source of the rest of the carbon dioxide, then it is difficult to see that man-made carbon dioxide can be driving the rising temperatures. In fact, I don't believe it does."


Belief is not proof, not even close. Anyone claiming to be able to *prove* one way or the other is obviously out of touch with reality and the scientific method.

Compared to man-made sources' emission of about 5 to 6 billion tons per year, the natural sources would then account for more than 95 percent of all atmospheric carbon dioxide, Essenhigh said.


Have a look at this site:
TRENDS: CARBON DIOXIDE EMISSIONS

Since 1751 roughly 315 billion tons of carbon have been released to the atmosphere from the consumption of fossil fuels and cement production. Half of these emissions have occurred since the mid 1970s. The 2004 global fossil-fuel CO2 emission estimate, 7910 million metric tons of carbon, represents an all-time high and a 5.4% increase from 2003.


So the number is actually around 8 Btons of CO2 annually, according to 2004 data.

#15 moyself

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Posted 12 February 2008 - 05:02 PM

"Very little?" That doesn't sound like a very precise measurement. Is that "very little" metric, or "very little" in SI?



Yes. Please share your sources and cite your evidence.



Thank you. I am familiar with the IPCC. Also, please note that 1995 is more than 12 years ago, as it's now 2008. Several new and updated versions are now available of the work done by the IPCC.

Please note also that the IPCC doesn't do research, the bring together research from thousands of peer-reviewed articles and thousands of scientists, and from those collective sources form a meta-article with conclusions.




5% is huge! It's about systems and equilibrium, and 5% is MORE than enough to screw up an equilibrium and put a system out of balance.




Your opinion means little to me, as you are clearly not very well informed or educated on the matter. Can I change 5% of the air in your bedroom to toxic nerve gas? By your own account, it's difficult to see how this would have an effect.


You forgot one thing... this is about 5% of the CO2 only. Since CO2 makes up only about .0360(source taken from searching "element percentages in atmostphere" on google, clicking first link, then clicking the link on that page). When you find out what percent of CO2 we cause out of all the atmosphere, you find that it we account for 0.000018% of the CO2 in the air. So I'm guessing you could change 0.000018% of the air in my room to toxic nerve gas, and I would be okay. If .000018% of my room was filled with ebola... it might be different :phones:

#16 REASON

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Posted 12 February 2008 - 05:35 PM

You forgot one thing... this is about 5% of the CO2 only. Since CO2 makes up only about .0360(source taken from searching "element percentages in atmostphere" on google, clicking first link, then clicking the link on that page). When you find out what percent of CO2 we cause out of all the atmosphere, you find that it we account for 0.000018% of the CO2 in the air. So I'm guessing you could change 0.000018% of the air in my room to toxic nerve gas, and I would be okay.


Wait a minute, according to your own figures, do we account for 5% of CO2, or .000018% of CO2?

Of course, this doesn't take into considereration other greenhouse gases such as methane which are even better than CO2 at absorbing solar radiation.

But let's keep the subject slightly more on the surface. If our contribution of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere is so insignificant as to have no real impact, what alternatively do you propose is responsible for the highly accelerated rise in the mean temperature of the Earth over the last, say, 20 years, and the rapid disappearance of both glacial and polar ice? What is a more rational explanation that you can provide to explain these easily observable changes? And you're not going to get away with saying something like "cycles" because there has to be something specific that has changed in the system that is yielding these dramatic effects.

I'm sure the scientific community has refused to consider any other alternatives over the last several decades out of fear of losing their grants, so obviously it is going to take experts like yourself and Rush Limbaugh to provide the answers. What say you?

#17 Turtle

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Posted 12 February 2008 - 05:42 PM

...But let's keep the subject slightly more on the surface. If our contribution of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere is so insignificant as to have no real impact, what alternatively do you propose is responsible for the highly accelerated rise in the mean temperature of the Earth over the last, say, 20 years, and the rapid disappearance of both glacial and polar ice? What is a more rational explanation that you can provide to explain these easily observable changes? And you're not going to get away with saying something like "cycles" because there has to be something specific that has changed in the system that is yielding these dramatic effects. ...


If I may go below the surface, underwater volcanism is my proposition. I am asiduously pursuing supportive information, which is by everyone's account, seriously lacking in hard data from the ocean floors. Time will tell. :phones: :phones: