Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Global warming: Lots of bad news

's online news service, ScienceNOW, today features three depressing stories about the effects of climate change.

The first, by our climate correspondent Richard Kerr, cites studies concluding that the effects of global warming are going to be with us (ie, our descendants, if they survive) for 1000 years.

Then, in a story entitled "Death March of the Penguins?" freelance correspondant Helen Fields reports that melting sea ice in the far south could wipe out populations of emperor penguins within the next 100 years.

Finally, freelancer Phil Berardelli breaks the bad news about global warming's effects on the oceans: Even if we get a handle on the problem, climate change will leave numerous oxygen-depleted "dead zones," which would threaten much marine life and those animals--like us humans--who depend on it.

The links to these sobering stories, which might make you glad the U.S. now has a president who takes global warming seriously, are free for four weeks from publication. Check them out now while you still have the chance.


Richard said...

The illustration you give on this post is sheer hype:

1) It says: 'The US was responsible for 20% of the greenhouse gases in 1997'.
Not only is this 11 years out of date, but the same picture says:

2)Most of the emissions were attributed to the United States...

20% doesn't equal 'most'.

3)'Earth's temperature has risen about 1F in the past century.The past 50 years of warming has been attributed to human activity'.

So take the worst case - 0.99F in 50 years caused by human activity. So? Who the hell can measure 0.99F worldwide?

Were world-wide weather thermometers 50 years ago that accurate? or is this just another bit of statistics manipulation - from a doubtful base.

This kind of crappy presentation undermines what is possibly a very good case.

The picture is like those ones that used to present the USA as the haven of 'Freedom. Liberty and Democracy' in the midst of the McCarthy era.

Then I became a Communist; now I'm off to join the sunspotters.

Richard said...

Penguins live in the far SOUTH

Michael Balter said...

Whoops, that's what I get for only studying cells and molecules in graduate school and never whole animals. Now corrected, thanks.

Anne Gilbert said...

Richard and Michael:

I think global warming is real enough, whether or not the illustration is "sheer hype". I'm not sure what illustration you could use to "properly" illustrate this? Melting ice in the Arctic? Deniers would scoff. Polar bears? Nah, they're not "really" endangered. Etc. etc. If Richard has something better suggest, let him suggest it.
Anne G

Richard said...

Anne and Michael

Please don't get me wrong; I do believe the globe is warming with human-induced causes. I have believed so for at least 35 years.

However, even 'good' propaganda, when it can be as easily atttacked as I did (acting as Devil's Advocate)does not serve a good cause well.

There's a lot of jumping on the bandwagon and panic-seeding going on.

To turn economic giants like the US, EU, China, Russia, Brazil and India from economies totally dependent on CO2-emitting fuels is going to be very slow, and difficult. And there will be non-believers trying to wrest the steering-wheel out of the captain's hands.

We should not give them ammunition.

Michael Balter said...

Well, really, I was just a blogger in a hurry looking for a quick image, I confess. But will try to be more careful next time!

Richard said...

You're not 'just a blogger'. Whatever you say may influence a few now, but, unlike a newspaper journalist, your writings won't go to the recycling plant tomorrow; they'll still be cycling round the cyberverse.

So 'just a blogger'is no excuse.

Woody said...

Here's interesting reading about the origins of this global warming nonsense: The Amazing Story Behind the Global Warming Scam

It includes this part about how small a part of our atmosphere that C02 represents.

"The Keeling curve showed a steady rise in CO2 in atmosphere during the period since oil and coal were discovered and used by man. As of today, carbon dioxide has increased from 215 to 385 parts per million. But, despite the increases, it is still only a trace gas in the atmosphere. While the increase is real, the percentage of the atmosphere that is CO2 remains tiny, about 41 hundredths of one percent.

"Several hypothesis emerged in the 70s and 80s about how this tiny atmospheric component of CO2 might cause a significant warming. But they remained unproven. Years have passed and the scientists kept reaching out for evidence of the warming and proof of their theories. And, the money and environmental claims kept on building up."

So, a trace element is causing all of the concern? I doubt that it can do all that is claimed.

Michael Balter said...

Woody, you need to do a little more research, because in fact the role of carbon dioxide in global warming is very well understood. Unfortunately, it is easy to pull the wool over the eyes of gullible people like you who have political motivations for being global warming deniers. For those who don't know, Woody is a rightwing troll on Marc Cooper's blog on which I also participate.

Woody said...

It seemed like a reasonable point supported by authority.

Maybe you prefer authority like Gavin Schmidt--a mystery man in his own right.