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Forums > Social Discussion > The Great Global Warming Swindle

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dream
SILVER Member since Jul 2003

dream

currently mending
Location: Bristol

Total posts: 493
Posted:Was the title of a documentary shown on Channel 4 in the UK last night. It made me very very angry. Here's a brief outline of some of the reasons why...

Statement of technically accurate but irrelevant facts

Examples...

Carbon Dioxide is natural.

The sun affects climate

Climate was changing before humans evolved

Water vapour has a radiative forcing effect greater than carbon dioxide

These statements are all true. However, they none of them in any way disproves, or even contests the IPCC position on Anthropogenic Climate Change.

The IPCC does not think carbon dioxide is unnatural. What the hell is unnatural exactly? The only thing I can think of are those things designated as supernatural. Of which none are as decisively proven to exist as co2.

The sun affects climate. Really? Perhaps the authors of the documentary had failed to read this section of the IPCC's Third Assessment Report (2001)

http://www.grida.no/climate/ipcc_tar/wg1/244.htm

Its titled solar forcing of climate. Anyone fancy a guess as to what its about?

Climate was changing before humans evolved. Yes. I think Anyone who took science A-levels, or has read anything about chaos theory will be aware of this. The IPCC certainly are. Or as the IPCC put it in 2001

 Written by: IPCC

complex, chaotic, non-linear dynamics are an inherent aspect of the climate system



http://www.grida.no/climate/ipcc_tar/wg1/504.htm

Water Vapour has a greater radiative forcing effect than co2. Yes. This an integral part of the IPCC's position. How exactly is this supposed to dispute things?

 Written by: IPCC

Water vapour feedback continues to be the most consistently important feedback accounting for the large warming predicted by general circulation models in response to a doubling of CO2. Water vapour feedback acting alone approximately doubles the warming from what it would be for fixed water vapour (Cess et al., 1990; Hall and Manabe, 1999; Schneider et al., 1999; Held and Soden, 2000). Furthermore, water vapour feedback acts to amplify other feedbacks in models, such as cloud feedback and ice albedo feedback. If cloud feedback is strongly positive, the water vapour feedback can lead to 3.5 times as much warming as would be the case if water vapour concentration were held fixed (Hall and Manabe, 1999).



http://www.grida.no/climate/ipcc_tar/wg1/268.htm

What we can determine then, is that the documentary either deliberately misrepresents the IPCC position or hasn't read it.

As far as techniques go, its a methodologically interesting one. They facts they call upon are true (obviously so) however the consequences they draw from these facts are untrue. What this suggests, is that to present an accurate picture, one must not simply lay down the facts - suggesting that there are a limited and definitive series of facts, but distinguish from the multitude of true facts, which ones are relevant to the issue at hand. In the case of the documentary, the facts are entirely irrelevant to the argument.

use of discredited data

One of the central scientific claims of the documentary was that evidence from globally respected scientists has proved that the troposphere - which should according to ACC be warming - is in fact cooling, casting a major doubt over the adequacy of the IPCC's claims. This claim is based on a paper by globally respected atmospheric scientists John Christy and Roy Spencer published in 1992.

What the documentary failed to include however, was the minor series of details, that in 2005, three seperate studies,

http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/309/5740/1548

http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/ab...631abf93113a577

http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/309/5740/1556

all suggest that the 1992 data was massively flawed - as the troposphere is warming in line with ACC models.

Leading Christy to admit that is figures were incorrect in August 2005

http://environment.newscientist.com/chan...-climbdown.html

In this case the documentary appears to have deliberately deceptive - why use a 15 year old paper which has subsequently been dismissed by its own author as a central argument? Possibly because there wasn't much of an srgument to make.

statement of outright lies

Such as your body is made of co2

The environmental movement is the biggest threat to African development

The IPCC is driven towards sensationalist conclusions in order to make headlines and retain funding

The first statement is just stupid.

The second is misleading. If president Bush's preconditions for a US cut in fossil fuel use (a global cut - ie everyone else has the same cut, so they don't get an 'unfair' economic advantage over the US) was the position of the environmental movement this would be fair. However Bush is rarely regarded as an environmentalist. Instead, the proposal of most 1st world environmentalists, such as George Monbiot, is a global per capita carbon cap - with an emission trading scheme so that heavily polluting industrial nations can buy credits from less developed countries. The implementation of this scheme would see a massive redistribution of wealth as we in the 1st world started paying hundreds of billions of pounds to many of the world's poorest countries.

The third statement is directly contradicted by the predictions of the IPCC and the empirical observations which have been made since. In 2001 the IPCC predicted the global temperature change and sea level rise by the publication of the 2007 report. Both predictions were wrong. Both temperature and sea level had risen by more than the IPCC's predicted maximum. This would appear to be in line with comments such as Prof Bob Spicer's comment that the IPCC is 'necessarily conservative' due to the fact that it works by consensus. Indeed the program gave the Gulf Stream and it's potential disappearance as an example - this is something the 2007 report has suggested is extremely unlikely to happen.

Reliability of sources

A good place to start when analysing a documentary is ist maker...

 Written by: George Monbiot

In 1997, the director, Martin Durkin, produced a very similar series for Channel 4 called Against Nature, which also maintained that global warming was a scam dreamt up by environmentalists. It was riddled with hilarious scientific howlers. More damagingly, the only way in which Durkin could sustain his thesis was to deceive the people he interviewed and to edit their answers to change their meaning. Following complaints by his interviewees, the Independent Television Commission found that the views of the four complainants, as made clear to the interviewer, had been distorted by selective editing and that they had been misled as to the content and purpose of the programmes when they agreed to take part.(14) Channel 4 was obliged to broadcast one of the most humiliating primetime apologies it has ever made



http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2007/01/30/another-species-of-denial/

Not exactly a good start... And what about his scientific sources?

A number of them, such as Fred Singer and Richard Lindzen are the same fossil fuel funded cronies that get brought out time and again...

(for a For a good assessment of Lindzen's scientific claims click here

Singer is one that I find particulary amusing... Especially as seems to crop up so often. In a September 24, 1993, sworn affidavit, Dr. Singer admitted to doing climate change research on behalf of oil companies, such as Exxon, Texaco, Arco, Shell and the American Gas Association. [9]

Singer's deposition

However, on February 12, 2001, Singer wrote a letter to The Washington Post in which he denied receiving any oil company money in the previous 20 years.

That someone is paid a shedload of cash by companies who have a vested interest in deceiving the public on a certain issue does not prove them wrong, but will arise suspicion. That someone attempts to deceive the public by lying about the existence of this funding hardly allays these suspicions.

It is also worth noting that Singer has in the past ben paid by the tobacco industry - and unsurprisingly was one of the foremost scientific experts heading the campaign which claimed that the link between smoking and cancer was 'junk science.'


There's more... Much more to rip into about this program. As you can possibly tell I'm still seething about it.

There may be some doubt over the IPCC's claims, and there will always by an element of uncertainty about the effects we're having on the climate (a hitherto unknown negative feedback may kick in tomorrow - but there's no evidence that it will, and resultantly its insane to factor this in to contemporary discussion about ACC), however, the positions presented by 'The Global Warming Swindle,' were complete garbage.

It's a fantastic argument for why broadcast media sucks - a programme like that which has a lot of money poured into it, claims to be based on scientific evidence would probably present a fairly compelling argument to someone with little knowledge about the subject bar a few daily mail headlines...

frown


He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you.

Nietzsche

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BansheeCat
BRONZE Member since Jul 2005

veteran
Location: lost

Total posts: 1247
Posted:Apparently the west coast of Canada lost three months worth of sunshine this winter! EEEEK! Thank God I was gone. that is 150 hours of sunshine, missing. It rained, then it rained some more, still raining. And no, it is not el nina or el nino, or el nemo. Apparently it is just an inexplicable weather abberation. That's what the news said.

Yet it serves us bloody well right for our heavy polluting habits. Maybe three months of rainy misery gave people time to think.

I am sure more people kill themselves in the gloomy damp dark rainy season, so maybe that will help the situation, eh, NYC? wink


"God *was* my co-pilot, but then we crashed, and I had to eat him..."

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FireTom


Stargazer


Total posts: 6650
Posted:Following this, the US seems to have joined the Kyoto protocol in it's own ways (by simply killing other nationals in order to make up for their excessive CO2 emissions) - fair enough.

Now, what is the CO2 footprint of a bullet and how many of them are needed to kill someone (count those which miss their target)... ?

But I get the idea: The CO2 footprint of every soldier fighting (anywhere and assuming that he does his job right) is lower as of the one who plants a tree.

As in: How many trees would one have to plant in order to reach the CO2-reduction of a (successful) soldier?

Sheds some pretty new light here (*humms "Twilight-Zone"*)

BTW "balancing ethics before discussing" cuts the fun out of it... wink


the best smiles are the ones you lead to wink

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Sym
BRONZE Member since Sep 2004

Sym

Geek-enviro-hippy priest
Location: Diss, Norfolk

Total posts: 1858
Posted:Ok then, seeing as we're straying from rational thought:

A body will emit carbon as it de-composes. I don't know how much, but there will be some. If it is cremated then some of it will go in to the atmosphere. If it's buried then I guess in the short term there is no real effect.

However.

In the war there are fighter jets, helicopters and armoured vehicles moving about all the time. I would have thought the jets are the worst polluters of them all.

So: every (us) solder has:

About 15 tonnes of C02 emissions (assuming they use less at home because of spending time over seas) plus the emissions from flying over to kill the people in the first place plus the emissions from whatever form of transport they use to burn about the place in.

That means that before they leave home, each US solder has to kill about 5 Iraqis each, but after everything else they have to kill about 6 each.

So, with 140,000 of them, they have about 150,000 more people to kill.

Now I might go off and try to get some information on dreams question.


There's too many home fires burning and not enough trees

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polarity
SILVER Member since May 2005

polarity

veteran
Location: on the wrong planet

Total posts: 1228
Posted:Military vehicles aren't paricularly fuel efficient:



M1A2 Abrams Main Battle Tank 0.6 mpg

Bradley Armoured Fighting Vehicle 1.5 mpg

HMMWV 8 mpg



On top of that a lot of energy needs to be used to manufacture and transport the heavy vehicles to the battlefield.



Nuclear powered aircraft carriers can get + marks for not using oil for fuel, but they are still releasing energy that was previously locked up in matter. Our use of energy affects global warming in two ways. There is the greenhouse gasses effect, and also the effect of adding energy that was in the fuel.



Explosives are another form of oil based fuel, and rebuilding destroyed buildings needs yet more energy.


You aren't thinking or really existing unless you're willing to risk even your own sanity in the judgment of your existence.

Green peppers, lime pickle and whole-grain mustard = best sandwich filling.

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Spanner
BRONZE Member since Feb 2003

Spanner

remembers when it was all fields round here
Location: in the works... somewhere...

Total posts: 2790
Posted: Written by: BansheeCat


Apparently the west coast of Canada lost three months worth of sunshine this winter! EEEEK! Thank God I was gone.



"Ain't no sunshine when she's gone" wink


"I thought you are man, but
you are nice woman.

yay,

:R"

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FireTom


Stargazer


Total posts: 6650
Posted:I forgot to put [/sarcastic statement, completely missing even a particle of reason] behind my post... grant me pardon on this one.

As for the rest I'm with you, waiting for Sym to return with an answer... wink


the best smiles are the ones you lead to wink

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Mynci
BRONZE Member since Apr 2005

Mynci

Macaque of all trades
Location: wombling free...

Total posts: 8737
Posted:back to dreams mention of holiday flilghts, would you say that each flight was counted twice? once as a fraction fro a person taking the flight and once as industrial emissions? and would that flights emissions be placed at:
a) country of origin
b) country of Plane ownership?

I can see somethings being counted several times that example gives 3 possible sources of CO2 emissions for 1 flight.

Personal
Industrial (airporrt) say UK
industrial (airline) say quatas (because they don't crash)

personal emissions must come from cars, smoking breathing.

electrical and gas emissions (if any) would surely be industrial (as the producers)

how is personal actually measured?


A couple of balls short of a full cascade... or maybe a few cards short of a deck... we'll see how this all fans out.

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Sym
BRONZE Member since Sep 2004

Sym

Geek-enviro-hippy priest
Location: Diss, Norfolk

Total posts: 1858
Posted:International flights aren't counted at all, from what I can tell. They have no effect on any figure.

Good points on the other things. I think that things are more likely to not be counted than counted twice - so it would be safe to assume that the total actual emissions are higher than the figures we see, but I don't know what side of the industry/per capita emissions it should be added to.


There's too many home fires burning and not enough trees

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NYC


NYC

NYC
Location: NYC, NY, USA

Total posts: 9232
Posted: Written by: Sym


International flights aren't counted at all, from what I can tell. They have no effect on any figure.

Good points on the other things. I think that things are more likely to not be counted than counted twice - so it would be safe to assume that the total actual emissions are higher than the figures we see, but I don't know what side of the industry/per capita emissions it should be added to.



I'd assume that they're measuring the amount of fuel burned. That's how I'd do it since there's really no way of measuring how much actual CO2 is produced. In which case it'd be measured by where the fuel was added to the plane.

What is the point of figuring out exactly which country is responsible for which molecule of CO2? Isn't the data impressive enough without having to trick it?

What if a molecule of gasoline is hit by a bolt of lightning exactly on the US/Canada border and 6 molecules of CO2 go north, and 2 go south?

Or, more realistically, what about producer countries that are using more CO2 in factories vs. import countries that use more CO2 in transport?

Frankly, I think this all distracts from the real issue.


Well, shall we go?
Yes, let's go.
[They do not move.]

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Mynci
BRONZE Member since Apr 2005

Mynci

Macaque of all trades
Location: wombling free...

Total posts: 8737
Posted:I was thinking about the statistics used, maybe they are counted twice or like Sym said not at all this would effect climate models, quite considerably I believe as the waste is release directly into the atmosphere at the point of most damage. I can't Imagine it's NOT counted but could it be counted twice?

the country thing was a question related to international travel / industry, do they take it from the company for example,

American company producing carbon waste in the gambia, is the waste taken as the companys waste and therefore go to the US's emissions or the Gambias emissions because of the country of origin?

these national emissions figures I am sure effect what policy on emissions the country is "recommended" or asked to take. also if emissions laws are lax in a certain country what is to stop outsourcing there and producing waste if the emissions are counted to the Home country of the corporation? the emissions will go up because they are being produced in a country with a recognised LOW emission record.

US and Japan have Lots of outsourced industry could waste atributed to the US ACTUALLY be produced in other countries. I know what I mean I just need to find the right words to express it (again on my lunch sorry) it may have been taken into consideration but these little details bug me and are the type of loopholes big companies are likely to exploit to maintain a profit margin.

the real issue NYC?


A couple of balls short of a full cascade... or maybe a few cards short of a deck... we'll see how this all fans out.

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NYC


NYC

NYC
Location: NYC, NY, USA

Total posts: 9232
Posted:Good point. There is often Enron style accounting when looking at such issues as who's actually responsible for the production of certain things.

I'd assume that much of China's pollution is generated making things that we buy.

I still think that China is partially repsonsible but we have an obligation as well.


Well, shall we go?
Yes, let's go.
[They do not move.]

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Curly_Sue
SILVER Member since Nov 2006

Curly_Sue

laughter is the way to get through life
Location: Inverness

Total posts: 179
Posted:ditto And we are being taxed through the nose. makes me mad.

 Written by: dream




Carbon Dioxide is natural.

The sun affects climate

Climate was changing before humans evolved

Water vapour has a radiative forcing effect greater than carbon dioxide

frown



I fell down a hill once, got up then fell down it again.

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Sym
BRONZE Member since Sep 2004

Sym

Geek-enviro-hippy priest
Location: Diss, Norfolk

Total posts: 1858
Posted:whaa?

There's too many home fires burning and not enough trees

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Curly_Sue
SILVER Member since Nov 2006

Curly_Sue

laughter is the way to get through life
Location: Inverness

Total posts: 179
Posted:well what I think is - Carbon rises and falls have nothing to do with global warming. It is totaly natural. The sun heats up so wee heat up. we had the same panic in the 70s. angel

I fell down a hill once, got up then fell down it again.

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Sym
BRONZE Member since Sep 2004

Sym

Geek-enviro-hippy priest
Location: Diss, Norfolk

Total posts: 1858
Posted:There is a thread about that argument somewhere - from what a remember some people did a really good job at debunking it...

Maybe I'm wrong.


There's too many home fires burning and not enough trees

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Curly_Sue
SILVER Member since Nov 2006

Curly_Sue

laughter is the way to get through life
Location: Inverness

Total posts: 179
Posted:Yea you are wrong. only kidding. I have no idea my life is talking shite. lol

I fell down a hill once, got up then fell down it again.

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Sym
BRONZE Member since Sep 2004

Sym

Geek-enviro-hippy priest
Location: Diss, Norfolk

Total posts: 1858
Posted:ubblol hug

There's too many home fires burning and not enough trees

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Mynci
BRONZE Member since Apr 2005

Mynci

Macaque of all trades
Location: wombling free...

Total posts: 8737
Posted:ubblol I think we did get a little misdirected.. was that my fault we stopped actually talking about the program?
wink

My company is Japanese and we produce LOADS of Carbon waste (stated earlier) the equivalent of 2% of the UK's household emissions, I DON'T know however if it is split to ALL our offices even though ALL the container vessels are registered to japan and that is were our ISO14001 certificate is held. (with respect to the kyoto prortocol)


A couple of balls short of a full cascade... or maybe a few cards short of a deck... we'll see how this all fans out.

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FireTom


Stargazer


Total posts: 6650
Posted:Just came across this article, thought I'd share it with you. I have to reproduce almost the entire article - excuse me, that it is that much to read... redface

It's written in English, but by a German journalist and for a German news magazine (equivalent to the TIME magazine). Therefore the references and scientists quoted are almost all German.

Enjoy:

 Written by: Spiegel online

Svante Arrhenius, the father of the greenhouse effect, would be called a heretic today. Far from issuing the sort of dire predictions about climate change which are common nowadays, the Swedish physicist dared to predict a paradise on earth for humans when he announced, in April 1896, that temperatures were rising -- and that it would be a blessing for all.

(...)

During the so-called Medieval Warm Period between about 900 and 1300 A.D., for example, the Vikings raised livestock on Greenland and sailed to North America. New cities were built all across Europe, and the continent's population grew from 30 million to 80 million.

The consequences of the colder temperatures that plunged civilization into the so-called Little Ice Age for several centuries after 1300 were devastating. Summers were rainy, winters cold, and in many places temperatures were too low for grain crops to mature. Famines and epidemics raged, and average life expectancy dropped by 10 years. In Germany, thousands of villages were abandoned and entire stretches
of land depopulated.

The shock produced by the cold was as deep-seated it was long-lasting. When temperatures plunged unexpectedly once again in the 1960s, many meteorologists were quick to warn people about the coming of a new ice age -- supposedly triggered by man-made air pollution. Hardly anyone at the time believed a warming trend could pose a threat.

It was not until the rise of the environmental movement in the 1980s that everything suddenly changed. From then on it was almost a foregone conclusion that global warming could only be perceived as a disaster for the earth's climate.
Environmentalists, adopting a strategy typical of the Catholic Church, have been warning us about the horrors of greenhouse gas hell ever since -- painting it as a
punishment for the sin of meddling with creation. What was conveniently ignored, however, is that humanity has been reshaping the planet for a very long time, first by clearing forests and plowing fields, and later by building roads, cities and factories.

In the age of climate change, it has become a popular social pastime to scour the weather forecast for omens of doom. Has it ever been as hot in April as it is this year? Is this lack of rain normal? Could all this mean that the end is nigh?

Nowadays hardly anyone dares to question the increasingly shrill warnings about our climate, as more and more people jump on the hand-wringing bandwagon. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, for example, recently said that climate change poses at least as big a danger to the world as war. German Chancellor Angela Merkel agrees, calling developments "more than alarming," and asking: "Are we willing to accept the fact that we now have completely unprecedented weather phenomena, such as tropical nights in the Harz (Mountains) region?" The fact that tropical nights, as every meteorologist knows, are nothing new in Germany -- every summer has always had a few -- seems to have escaped her attention.

The Winners and Losers of Climate Change

The apocalyptic mood seems to grow each time the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) releases a new section of its climate change report. Climate hysteria appears to be more contagious than a flu epidemic. "We only have 13 years left to save the earth," screamed a recent frontpage headline in the German tabloid Bild. "If mankind is unable to stop the greenhouse effect by the year
2020, it will bring about its own demise -- and a horribly tortured one at that."

But how bad is climate change really? Will global warming trigger plagues of Biblical proportions? Can we look forward to endless droughts and catastrophic floods?

Or will Arrhenius end up being right after all? Could rising temperatures lead to higher crop yields and more tourism in many places? In other words, is humanity actually creating new paradises?

The truth is probably somewhere between these two extremes. Climate change will undoubtedly have losers -- but it will also have winners. There will be a reshuffling of climate zones on earth. And there is something else that we can already say with certainty: The end of the world isn't coming any time soon.

Largely unnoticed by the public, climate researchers are currently embroiled in their own struggle over who owns the truth. While some have always seen themselves as environmental activists aiming to shake humanity out of its complacency, others argue for a calmer and more rational approach to the unavoidable.

One member of the levelheaded camp is Hans von Storch, 57, a prominent climate researcher who is director of the Institute for Coastal Research at the GKSS Research Center in Geesthacht in northern Germany. "We have to take away people's fear of climate change," Storch told DER SPIEGEL in a recent interview. "Unfortunately many scientists see themselves too much as priests whose job it is to preach
moralistic sermons to people."

Keeping a cool head is a good idea because, for one thing, we can no longer completely prevent climate change. No matter how much governments try to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, it will only be possible to limit the rise in global temperatures to about 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) by the end of the century. But even this moderate warming would likely have far fewer apocalyptic consequences than many a prophet of doom would have us believe.

For one thing, the more paleontologists and geologists study the history of the earth's climate, the more clearly do they recognize just how much temperatures have fluctuated in both directions in the past. Even major fluctuations appear to be completely natural phenomena.

Additionally, some environmentalists doubt that the large-scale extinction of animals and plants some have predicted will in fact come about. "A warmer climate helps promote species diversity," says Munich zoologist Josef Reichholf.

Also, more detailed simulations have allowed climate researchers to paint a considerably less dire picture than in the past -- gone is the talk of giant storms, the melting of the Antarctic ice shield and flooding of major cities.
Improved regionalized models also show that climate change can bring not only drawbacks, but also significant benefits, especially in northern regions of the world where it has been too cold and uncomfortable for human activity to flourish in the past. However it is still a taboo to express this idea in public.

For example, countries like Canada and Russia can look forward to better harvests and a blossoming tourism industry, and the only distress the Scandinavians will face is the guilty conscience that could come with benefiting from global warming.

There is no doubt that there will be droughts in other parts of the world, especially in subtropical regions. But the widespread assumption that it is developing countries -- that is, the world's poor -- who will, as always, be the ones to suffer is incorrect. According to current predictions, precipitation in large parts of Africa will hardly decrease at all, except in the southern part of the continent. In fact, these same forecasts show the Sahel, traditionally a region beset by drought and famine, actually becoming wetter.

By contrast, some wealthy industrialized nations -- in fact, those principally responsible for climate change -- will likely face growing problems related to drought. The world's new drought zones lie in the southern United States and Australia, but also in Mediterranean countries like Spain, Italy and Greece.

All of this will lead to a major shift within Europe, potentially leading to tough times for southern Spain's mega-resorts and boom times for hotels along the North Sea and Baltic Sea coasts. While the bulk of summer vacationers will eventually lose interest in roasting on Spain's Costa del Sol, Mediterranean conditions could prevail between the German North Sea island of Sylt and Bavaria's Lake Starnberg. The last few weeks of spring in Germany offered a taste of what's to come, as sun-loving crowds packed Berlin's urban beach bars and Munich's beer gardens.

The predicted temperature increase of 3 degrees Celsius would mean that summers in Hamburg, not far from the North Sea coast, would be as warm as they are today in the southwestern city of Freiburg, while conditions in Freiburg would be more like those in Marseille today. Germany will undoubtedly be one of the beneficiaries of climate change. Perhaps palm trees will be growing on the island of Helgoland in the North Sea soon, and German citizens will be saving billions in heating costs -- which in turn would lead to a reduction in CO2 emissions.

But climate change will also have its drawbacks. While German summers will be less rainy, fall and winter rainfall in the country's north will increase by up to 30 percent -- and snow will be a thing of the past. Heavy downpours will also become more common. To avoid flooding, steps will have to be taken to provide better drainage for fields and farmlands, as well as to restore natural flood plains.

Meanwhile, the Kiel Institute for World Economics warns that higher temperatures could mean thousands of heat-related deaths every year. But the extrapolations that lead to this dire prediction are based on the mortality rate in the unusually hot summer of 2003, for which Germans were wholly unprepared. But if hot summer days do become the norm, people will simply adjust by taking siestas and installing air-conditioning.

The medical benefits of higher average temperatures have also been ignored. According to Richard Tol, an environmental economist, "warming temperatures will mean that in 2050 there will be about 40,000 fewer deaths in Germany attributable to cold-related illnesses like the flu."

Another widespread fear about global warming -- that it will cause super-storms that could devastate towns and villages with unprecedented fury -- also appears to be unfounded. Current long-term simulations, at any rate, do not suggest that such a trend will in fact materialize.

"According to our computer model, neither the number nor intensity of storms is increasing," says Jochem Marotzke, director of the Hamburg-based Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, one of the world's leading climate research centers. "Only the boundaries of low-pressure zones are changing slightly, meaning that weather is becoming more severe in Scandinavia and less so in the Mediterranean."
According to another persistent greenhouse legend, massive flooding will strike major coastal cities, raising horrific scenarios of New York, London and Shanghai sinking into the tide. However this horror story is a relic of the late 1980s, when climate simulations were far less precise than they are today. At the time, some experts believed that the Antarctic ice shield could melt, which would in fact lead to a dramatic 60-meter (197-foot) rise in sea levels. The nuclear industry quickly seized upon and publicized the scenario, which it recognized as an argument in favor of its emissions-free power plants.

But it quickly became apparent that the horrific tale of a melting South Pole was nothing but fiction. The average temperature in the Antarctic is -30 degrees Celsius.

Humanity cannot possibly burn enough oil and coal to melt this giant block of ice. On the contrary, current climate models suggest that the Antarctic will even increase in mass: Global warming will cause more water to evaporate, and part of that moisture will fall as snow over Antarctica, causing the ice shield to grow. As a result, the total rise in sea levels would in fact be reduced by about 5 cm (2 inches).

It's a different story in the warmer regions surrounding the North Pole. According to an American study published last week, the Arctic could be melting even faster than previously assumed. But because the Arctic sea ice already floats in the water, its melting will have virtually no effect on sea levels.

(...)

In short, the longer researchers allow their supercomputers to crunch the numbers, the more does the expected deluge dissipate. A rise in sea levels of several meters could only occur if Greenland were largely ice-free, but this is something scientists don't expect to happen for at least a few more centuries or even millennia. This lengthy timeframe raises the question of whether the current prognoses are even reliable.

A healthy dose of skepticism is a good idea, especially when scientists become all too confident and make themselves out to be oracles. But there can be a wide gap between their predictions and the end result -- a fundamental weakness of all computer simulations that present only incomplete pictures of reality.

In the early years, for example, computer modellers underestimated the influence of aerosols, especially the sulfur particles that are released into the atmosphere during the combustion of oil and coal or during volcanic
eruptions. These pollution particles block sunlight and thus cause significant cooling. The failure to adequately take aerosols into account explains why earlier models predicted a more drastic rise in temperatures than those in use today.

One major unknown in the predictions depends on how quickly
countries like China will filter out the pollutants from their power plant emissions -- if the air becomes cleaner it will also heat up more rapidly. Other factors that can either weaken or strengthen the greenhouse effect are still not fully understood today. For example, will the carbon dioxide trapped in the world's oceans be released as the water heats up, thereby accelerating global warming? And how much faster do land plants and sea algae grow in a milder climate? Plant proliferation could bind more carbon
dioxide -- and serve to slow down the greenhouse effect.

But the main problem lies in correctly calculating the effects of clouds. The tops of clouds act as mirrors in
the sky, reflecting sunlight back into space -- thus cooling the planet. But the bottom sides keep the heat radiated by the earth from escaping into the atmosphere -- causing temperatures to rise.

Which of the two effects predominates depends primarily on the altitude at which clouds form. Simply put, low clouds tend to promote cooling while high clouds increase warming. So far scientists agree on only one thing, namely that more clouds will form in a greenhouse climate. They just don't know at which altitude.

Even the most powerful computer models are still too imprecise to simulate the details. However, the clouds
alone will determine whether temperatures will increase by one degree more or less than the average predicted by the models.

This is a significant element of uncertainty. "Clouds are still our biggest headache," concedes Erich Roeckner of the Max Planck Institute for Meteorology. Roeckner is a conscientious man and a veteran of climate research, so he, of all people, should know the limits of simulation programs. Roeckner, who constantly expects surprises, neatly sums up the problem when he says: "No model will ever be as complex as nature."



Dunno what to think about this one, as it is reflecting an opinion, based upon researched facts. The only thing that it breaks down - to me - is that ALL what we are reading are simply opinions, based on researched facts.

It just matters how well these facts are researched and how they are interpreted.

G'day


the best smiles are the ones you lead to wink

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