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Thread: Climate Change

  1. #46

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    October 30, 2004

    Big Arctic Perils Seen in Warming, Survey Finds

    By ANDREW C. REVKIN

    A comprehensive four-year study of warming in the Arctic shows that heat-trapping gases from tailpipes and smokestacks around the world are contributing to profound environmental changes, including sharp retreats of glaciers and sea ice, thawing of permafrost and shifts in the weather, the oceans and the atmosphere.

    The study, commissioned by eight nations with Arctic territory, including the United States, says the changes are likely to harm native communities, wildlife and economic activity but also to offer some benefits, like longer growing seasons. The report is due to be released on Nov. 9, but portions were provided yesterday to The New York Times by European participants in the project.

    While Arctic warming has been going on for decades and has been studied before, this is the first thorough assessment of the causes and consequences of the trend.

    It was conducted by nearly 300 scientists, as well as elders from the native communities in the region, after representatives of the eight nations met in October 2000 in Barrow, Alaska, amid a growing sense of urgency about the effects of global warming on the Arctic.

    The findings support the broad but politically controversial scientific consensus that global warming is caused mainly by rising atmospheric concentrations of heat-trapping greenhouse gases, and that the Arctic is the first region to feel its effects. While the report is advisory and carries no legal weight, it is likely to increase pressure on the Bush administration, which has acknowledged a possible human role in global warming but says the science is still too murky to justify mandatory reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions.

    The State Department, which has reviewed the report, declined to comment on it yesterday.

    The report says that "while some historical changes in climate have resulted from natural causes and variations, the strength of the trends and the patterns of change that have emerged in recent decades indicate that human influences, resulting primarily from increased emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases, have now become the dominant factor."

    The Arctic "is now experiencing some of the most rapid and severe climate change on Earth," the report says, adding, "Over the next 100 years, climate change is expected to accelerate, contributing to major physical, ecological, social and economic changes, many of which have already begun."

    Scientists have long expected the Arctic to warm more rapidly than other regions, partly because as snow and ice melt, the loss of bright reflective surfaces causes the exposed land and water to absorb more of the sun's energy. Also, warming tends to build more rapidly at the surface in the Arctic because colder air from the upper atmosphere does not mix with the surface air as readily as at lower latitudes, scientists say.

    The report says the effects of warming may be heightened by other factors, including overfishing, rising populations, rising levels of ultraviolet radiation from the depleted ozone layer (a condition at both poles). "The sum of these factors threatens to overwhelm the adaptive capacity of some Arctic populations and ecosystems," it says.

    Prompt efforts to curb greenhouse-gas emissions could slow the pace of change, allowing communities and wildlife to adapt, the report says. But it also stresses that further warming and melting are unavoidable, given the century-long buildup of the gases, mainly carbon dioxide.

    Several of the Europeans who provided parts of the report said they had done so because the Bush administration had delayed publication until after the presidential election, partly because of the political contentiousness of global warming.

    But Gunnar Palsson of Iceland, chairman of the Arctic Council, the international body that commissioned the study, said yesterday that there was "no truth to the contention that any of the member states of the Arctic Council pushed the release of the report back into November." Besides the United States, the members are Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia and Sweden.

    Mr. Palsson said all the countries had agreed to delay the release, originally scheduled for September, because of conflicts with another international meeting in Iceland.

    The American scientist directing the assessment, Dr. Robert W. Corell, an oceanographer and senior fellow of the American Meteorological Society, said the timing was set during diplomatic discussions that did not involve the scientists.

    He said he could not yet comment on the specific findings, but noted that the signals from the Arctic have global significance.

    "The major message is that climate change is here and now in the Arctic," he said.

    The report is a profusely illustrated window on a region in remarkable flux, incorporating reams of scientific data as well as observations by elders from native communities around the Arctic Circle.

    The potential benefits of the changes include projected growth in marine fish stocks and improved prospects for agriculture and timber harvests in some regions, as well as expanded access to Arctic waters.

    But the list of potential harms is far longer.

    The retreat of sea ice, the report says, "is very likely to have devastating consequences for polar bears, ice-living seals and local people for whom these animals are a primary food source."

    Oil and gas deposits on land are likely to be harder to extract as tundra thaws, limiting the frozen season when drilling convoys can traverse the otherwise spongy ground, the report says. Alaska has already seen the "tundra travel" season on the North Slope shrink to 100 days from about 200 days a year in 1970.

    The report concludes that the consequences of the fast-paced Arctic warming will be global. In particular, the accelerated melting of Greenland's two-mile-high sheets of ice will cause sea levels to rise around the world.


    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

  2. #47
    Senior Member Bob's Avatar
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    Oh no! The sky is falling. We'd better legislate something!

  3. #48

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    When one has no factual argument, ridicule is usually the best course.

    All the benefits of a cleaner environment that we enjoy today were legislated. If you don't think the Clean Water Act is important, then you are dumber than a bear - who doesn't pee where he drinks.

  4. #49
    Senior Member Bob's Avatar
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    A major difference between leftists and everybody else is that leftists appear to have no sense of humor. DARE to even slightly disagree with a leftist, and you risk being called stupid, a moron, a monkee, etc. etc. (look at what passes for "discourse" on these pages.)

    Well, here's some news. I am not a leftist. Count me as one of many who oppose your tired litany of "social causes" and bankrupt idealogies, and who are sick of the left's lack of civility, unwillingness to tolerate dissent, and a tendency to rapidly foam at the mouth. The left has no concept that it's possible to disagree with someone, without being disagreeable.

    In short, the left needs to LIGHTEN UP. And THEN, it can go on and legislate something.

  5. #50

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    The reason that discourse is not generally exchanged with you (not a group, but you in particular) on social issues in this forum, is that you don't seem to be willing to engage in it. Rather, you make cryptic, one liners that are curiously third person. You don't seem to actually take a position on anything, instead resorting to dissmissive sarcasm.

    You might refer to your own posts in the Bush Police State thread. Are your replies informative, are they discourse?

    If you were in disagreement with the article, you could have responded to it with your own views. I am going to respond to your condesending remarks in kind.

  6. #51

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    Meteorologist Likens Fear of Global Warming to 'Religious Belief'
    By Marc Morano
    CNSNews.com Senior Staff Writer
    December 02, 2004

    Washington (CNSNews.com) - An MIT meteorologist Wednesday dismissed
    alarmist fears about human induced global warming as nothing more than
    'religious beliefs.'

    "Do you believe in global warming? That is a religious question. So is
    the second part: Are you a skeptic or a believer?" said Massachusetts
    Institute of Technology professor Richard Lindzen, in a speech to about
    100 people at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

    "Essentially if whatever you are told is alleged to be supported by 'all
    scientists,' you don't have to understand [the issue] anymore. You
    simply go back to treating it as a matter of religious belief," Lindzen
    said. His speech was titled, "Climate Alarmism: The Misuse of 'Science'"
    and was sponsored by the free market George C. Marshall Institute.
    Lindzen is a professor at MIT's Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and
    Planetary Sciences.

    Once a person becomes a believer of global warming, "you never have to
    defend this belief except to claim that you are supported by all
    scientists -- except for a handful of corrupted heretics," Lindzen added.

    According to Lindzen, climate "alarmists" have been trying to push the
    idea that there is scientific consensus on dire climate change.

    "With respect to science, the assumption behind the [alarmist] consensus
    is science is the source of authority and that authority increases with
    the number of scientists [who agree.] But science is not primarily a
    source of authority. It is a particularly effective approach of inquiry
    and analysis. Skepticism is essential to science -- consensus is
    foreign," Lindzen said.

    Alarmist predictions of more hurricanes, the catastrophic rise in sea
    levels, the melting of the global poles and even the plunge into another
    ice age are not scientifically supported, Lindzen said.

    "It leads to a situation where advocates want us to be afraid, when
    there is no basis for alarm. In response to the fear, they want us to do
    what they want," Lindzen said.

    Recent reports of a melting polar ice cap were dismissed by Lindzen as
    an example of the media taking advantage of the public's "scientific
    illiteracy."

    "The thing you have to remember about the Arctic is that it is an
    extremely variable part of the world," Lindzen said. "Although there is
    melting going [on] now, there has been a lot of melting that went on in
    the [19]30s and then there was freezing. So by isolating a section ...
    they are essentially taking people's ignorance of the past," he added.

    'Repetition makes people believe'

    The climate change debate has become corrupted by politics, the media
    and money, according to Lindzen.

    "It's a sad story, where you have scientists making meaningless or
    ambiguous statements [about climate change]. They are then taken by
    advocates to the media who translate the statements into alarmist
    declarations. You then have politicians who respond to all of this by
    giving scientists more money," Lindzen said.

    "Agreement on anything is taken to infer agreement on everything. So if
    you make a statement that you agree that CO2 (carbon dioxide) is a
    greenhouse gas, you agree that the world is coming to an end," he added.

    "There can be little doubt that the language used to convey alarm has
    been sloppy at best," Lindzen said, citing Nazi propagandist Joseph
    Goebbles and his famous observation that even a lie will be believed if
    enough people repeat it. "There is little question that repetition makes
    people believe things [for] which there may be no basis," Lindzen said.

    He believes the key to improving the science of climate change lies in
    altering the way scientists are funded.

    'Alarm is the aim'

    "The research and support for research depends on the alarm," Lindzen
    told CNSNews.com following his speech. "The research itself often is
    very good, but by the time it gets through the filter of environmental
    advocates and the press innocent things begin to sound just as though
    they are the end of the world.

    "The argument is no longer what models are correct -- they are not --
    but rather whether their results are at all possible. One can rarely
    prove something to be impossible," he explained.

    Lindzen said scientists must be allowed to conclude that 'we don't have
    a problem." And if the answer turns out to be 'we don't have a problem,'
    we have to figure out a better reward than cutting off people's funding.
    It's as simple as that," he said.

    The only consensus that Lindzen said exists on the issue of climate
    change is the impact of the Kyoto Protocol, the international treaty to
    limit greenhouse gases, which the U.S. does not support.

    Kyoto itself will have no discernible effect on global warming
    regardless of what one believes about climate change," Lindzen said.

    "Claims to the contrary generally assume Kyoto is only the beginning of
    an ever more restrictive regime. However this is hardly ever mentioned,"
    he added.

    The Kyoto Protocol, which Russia recently ratified, aims to reduce the
    emission of greenhouse gases to 1990 levels by the year 2010. But
    Lindzen claims global warming proponents ultimately want to see a 60 to
    80 percent reduction in greenhouse gasses from the 1990 levels. Such
    reductions would be economically disastrous, he said.

    "If you are hearing Kyoto will cost billions and trillions," then a
    further reduction will ultimately result in "a shutdown" of the economy,
    Lindzen said.

  7. #52
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    I certainly don't put any energy into the Chicken Little hystericism regarding global warming. Why just the othe day, I -- hmmm, does the floor seem damp to you? -- Anyway, as I was say (glub, glub) ing . . . . (gluuub.)

  8. #53
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    I think there should be cause for concern, not alarm over Global Warming.

    At the VERY least, reducing the gasses that are reputed to cause it would make us all, literally, breathe easier.

    Is there some development that would be hindered by more restrictive environmental strictures? Will we not get the Super Ford Explorer out in time to drive the kids through 14 feet of snow in the suburbs. On a snow day? (I hate those commercials).

    I don't know.

    All i know is that the only arguement about these regulations and taking it seriously is that companies would not be able to make as much as they could without them.

    So, while this scientist is fair in asserting that this should not be blown out of proportion due to the sheer # of scientists supporting it (most scientists agree that Sex transmits diseases and causes unwanted pregnancies, but I do not see them screaming about that.....much.), it should also not be swept under the rug just because a few make fun of it (like bob) crying "the sky is falling".

  9. #54

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    His interpretation of the data is as valid as the opposing viewpoint, and is crucial for scientific inquiry, but he loses a bit of credibility by associating his opposition with uninformed alarmists.

    The argument about the economic costs is an old one - the same complaints over automobile emissions werer made decades ago by the industry.

    We can't develop the technology.
    We won't be able to sell cars.


    Now, when the subject of further restrictions comes up, they say

    Look how we have reduced emissions.

  10. #55
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    When they get their emmissions to 0, then we will talk.

  11. #56

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    The global warming does exist, and there is good data to support it, however whether this warming is caused by human activity is not currently known. When there is no clear answer from science, public policy still has to be made.

    There is a limited amount of money to be spent, whether it’s public money, or corporations. Ideally the money would be spent proportional to the risks. However frequently the money is being spent based on perception of risks. For example, billions are being spent on cleaning up every atom in the nuclear industry, with no measurable benefit to society. The same money spent on cleaner air – closing the coal powered power plants - will result in measurable benefit – less asthma and lung cancer. The same money spent on transportation safety would result in measurable benefit – less accidents.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ninjahedge
    At the VERY least, reducing the gasses that are reputed to cause it would make us all, literally, breathe easier.
    Not really. Implementation of Kyoto protocol will not make your breathing easier.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ninjahedge
    Is there some development that would be hindered by more restrictive environmental strictures?
    Again – if the global warming is not caused by human activity – then there are many places where money could be spent with benefit to society.

  12. #57
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    But if the theory is that global warming is caused primarily by carbon dioxide emmisions, and that a reduction in these emmisions would help to eliminate the man-made portion of GW, what is the point in not allowing them?

    I have not read the Kyoto agreement, so i am not familiar with its specifics, but since when is reduction in CO2 emmisions bad for breathing?

    And what benefits are we restricting by increasing envirnmental restrictions?

  13. #58

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    Read the second paragraph in my post above. If the money is spent on reducing CO2 emissions, it is not spent on some other projects. If the global warming is not caused by human activity, then there is no public benefit in spending the money. And if this money would have been spent on some other projects - for example, reducing air pollution by closing coal power plants - there would be a public benefit.

  14. #59
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    I see what you are saying Ed, but equating the ammount of funds available as if it came from one source is not exactly valid.

    Making emmission standards higher on automobiles does not mean that the $$ for reducing coal emmisions would be reduced. The two industries are not directly related.

    Requiring the US to actively participate in funding these requirements would cause a shortage, but so long as the restrictions are gradual enough, the need based innovations would be encouraged to develop at a sustainable rate when funded by public need.

  15. #60

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ninjahedge
    Making emmission standards higher on automobiles does not mean that the $$ for reducing coal emmisions would be reduced. The two industries are not directly related.
    My statement referred to a much broader scale, you are interpreting it too narrowly. Stricter environmental standards will increase cost of doing business and everyone will ultimately pay for it - the price of your bus or subway or plane ticket will increase, you books or MP3 player will cost more etc.

    Don't get me wrong - I am not against stricter environmental standards. I just think that the policy decisions have to take into account actual risks, not perception of risks or political games.

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