Zara’s Space on the Web – Musings

April 12, 2009

Something I find amusing and may comment on later

Filed under: climate change,Hippiery — zarazilla @ 7:33 pm
Tags: , ,

…but for now, I think the content says it all. Climate Change Bets

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General confusion over an article from TheRegister

Update: Turns out? This wasn’t even a report, and the only climate scientist involved in the discussion believes that anthropogenic climate change is happening. What a waste of time.

Well, since “Japan’s boffins: Global warming isn’t man-made”was published on TheRegister a while back, I have been meaning to read it and adjust my view of climate change around it.

Since it is now Easter vacation and I have no religious leanings (hence I have a lot of time on my hands) and I have just started this blog, I thought it might be a good idea to read and then critique the article.

Unfortunately, although I was looking forward to something that would seriously challenge my view on anthropogenic climate change, the article only proved to confuse me slightly between the misleading title and leading paragraph and the actual contents of the paper that had been translated.

The article states that:

Three of the five researchers disagree with the UN’s IPCC view that recent warming is primarily the consequence of man-made industrial emissions of greenhouse gases.

Well, er, from my reading of the paper that is given in the article, they actually don’t.

About the closest they get is the following:

“[The IPCC’s] conclusion that from now on atmospheric temperatures are likely to show a continuous, monotonic increase, should be perceived as an unprovable hypothesis,” [Kanya Kusano] writes.

…”We should be cautious, IPCC’s theory that atmospheric temperature has risen since 2000 in correspondence with CO2 is nothing but a hypothesis.” [-Shunichi Akasofu]

These two quotes come from the end of the summary page, and the article then launches into “Key passages translated”.

Within the second page of the article, I find the following confusing line:

…since 2001, [increases in global temperature has] halted. Despite this, CO2 emissions are still increasing.

I find this confusing because I have seen other information that states that:

“Every year since and including 2001 has made it into the top ten warmest years [on record].” – The Times Online, December 13, 2007, citing a study from the Met Office and the University of East Anglia

I’m sure none of these scientists are deliberately lying or bending the truth, but it would be nice to know why these two claims seem to be the complete opposites?

Page three and four talk about the construction of climate models, and the inherent uncertainty that is built into using models, due to imperfect knowledge. To which I have to say “well, duh?”

Anyway, “Japan’s Boffins” (I should have known better than to expect much when faced with this title) conclude that “Anthropogenic” (here this is used as a classy word for “human-caused”) “global warming theory [is] still hypothetical”.

Which I totally get and I totally agree with (Hey, the theory of evolution is still hypothetical). I mean, I don’t think anyone is claiming that they know for sure that climate change is happening due to human intervention, and yes, we should be careful about claiming things for truths that are only theories.

I think these guys were just saying “Hey, everybody, slow down. We should really re-examine the evidence here before we rush off headlong down a possibly unecessary path”, which is cool. What they are not saying, however, is that they don’t believe in anthropogenic climate change. No, that would be Andrew Orlowski putting words into their mouth. Oh, and interestingly enough, we’re also not provided with the discussions by the other two researchers who didn’t “disagree with the UN’s IPCC view that recent warming is primarily the consequence of man-made industrial emissions of greenhouse gases”. Apparently, they didn’t make it into “key passages”. This was, by and large, a terrible, biased piece of reporting that misrepresented the very paper it was reporting on. Shame on you, Orlowski!

April 10, 2009

Thoughts on climate change and my job

Filed under: Hippiery — zarazilla @ 7:19 pm
Tags: , ,

A reply I wrote recently to a 3rd grade classmate, climate skeptic, and political verbal sparring partner (she is a hardcore US republican):

Hi J***,

Sorry for taking so long to get back to you – my new job is tiring me out! I should probably be going to bed in about negative half an hour, but thought I’d drop you a quick note addressing your points.

I’ve gone through the stuff you’ve sent me, and tried to find stuff of my own that says that climate change isn’t happening, but to be honest I have not really run up against any evidence that is reputable and would make me change my mind. About the best I have is Freeman Dyson’s argument ( http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/dysonf07/dysonf07_index.html ), and as far as I can see he believes that the earth’s natural environment will take care of reducing carbon for us. My argument to this, however, is that the earth has never seen so much carbon in the atmosphere before.

And that brings me to the facts that I can believe in, and these are:
a) Atmospheric carbon is far above and beyond any levels known of previously for the last 10,000 years, with evidence from ice cores.
b) The temperature of the earth by and large tracks the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. As someone who has studied statistics and economics, I wouldn’t normally put much stock in this alone, as it is mere correlation which does not mean, in all cases, causation, apart from that I know
c) Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas. That is, that it is a scientific fact that carbon dioxide absorb and emits radiation within the thermal infrared range.

I also know that climate is variable. I don’t put much stock in “in the last five years it has been warmer/colder than the five yeras before that” because, as we both know, there are crazy climate systems out there such as el nino and la nina that show up every once in a few years and throws things out of whack. Long-term variability though, that is the key.

I do believe that over time the world will start warming up. Now what will happen once it reaches a certain temperature is obviously up for debate. One of the theories is that it will trigger us into an ice age through the halt of the gulf stream. One of the theories is that of positive feedback – that is, once it reaches a certain temperature, certain things will change so that it will get hotter and hotter much more quickly. And of course, one of the theories is that it will make the earth a better place to live. I think, I hope not, but I think that it will by and large cause a lot of problems.

Now I hear what you’re saying about the “global cooling” “global Warming” debates, and all I can do there is point you to this website. http://www.grist.org/article/one-hundred-years-is-not-enough Look at those graphs – over 150 years, 500 years, you have to admit that the last 20 or so have been pretty warm.

And I agree that scientists not only have the right, but the duty to show non-biased information. However, I very much doubt that scientists have had their grants pulled or been blacklisted for offering studies from “the other side”, as there are many corporations, including Exxon-Mobil, who fund scientists for research that will make them look good. Also, there’s stuff like this: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/03/with-all-due-respect/

You might think the next thing I’m going to say is a bit weird, so I’m going to give you some background. I studied computer science for four years, and was good at it, and enjoyed it very much. I could be working in computer science and earning a lot more than I do now. But I’m not. I re-routed my career and completed a masters in Environmental Economics and Policy. I’m a research assistant at an environmental economics consultancy, earning about 2/3rds my expected salary as a computer scientist because I believe climate change is happening unless people act now to stop it. I feel completely inadequate in my job because my background is in computers, not economics, but I’m there because I know that in twenty years I want to at least say that I tried.

So to be honest I would really love to be able to think that climate change isn’t happening, and you have intrigued me, but I have not been able to find anything reputable, with reputable scientific sources to argue the other side. All I can find are conspiracy theories. So you would be doing me a huge huge favour if you could point me towards papers that have scientific merit arguing your side of the argument. Then maybe I can give this up and go back to programming and leave my guilt behind. :)

Best,
Zara

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