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Watsisname
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General global warming / climate chage discussion

20 Jun 2017 18:23

Oftentimes the justification in science is that "it happens to work". :)  In my university physics program I worked with a project for imaging the atomic structure of metal surfaces using a scanning tunneling electron microscope, and I saw how they make the probe tips.  It felt like the most redneck, questionably unscientific method for making such a high precision instrument that I had ever seen.  It happens to work.  And you test that it works by imaging with it.

So we see that reconstructions of temperature are not just mappings of temperature change at the location of proxy.  They are determinations of temperature by how the proxy behavior relates to the surrounding climate dynamics.  Oftentimes there are relationships that are widely separated in space.  But these aren't merely assumptions -- they are testable relationships.  Usually there is a good physical understanding for why they work the way they do, but even if there isn't, they make predictions that you can check.  They're also not perfect, and sometimes the nature of the relationship is "magic", but they happen to work for producing a sensible, coherent record of planetary temperature.  And you can test that this works in a variety of ways.

Uncertainty in this record is based on statistical analysis of the coverage and resolutions of the different proxies, and variations in the results between different reconstructions and methods (the "spaghetti graphs").  Confidence in the record comes from broad agreement between these reconstructions, with known sources of change in radiative forcing and the fundamental physics, and our knowledge of drivers and effects of climate change throughout Earth history.

The resulting picture is quite clear and robust.  Global temperature through the Holocene slowly declined, and now it is rising rapidly with the enhanced greenhouse effect.  The magnitude of this forcing now dominates all other natural factors, and changes in the greenhouse forcing are key to understanding not only this period, but much of geologic history.  Geology even provides us with a really good example of what happens as a result of this experiment we're now performing.
 
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20 Jun 2017 23:55

Watsisname wrote:
Source of the post Oftentimes the justification in science is that "it happens to work"

I'm sure that has been said about augury as well.  When "it happens to work", science must require that you have such a large observational basis for that without a single exception so you can generalise by induction, or that you can describe a physical mechanism explaining why which has been independently verified.  For instance, as an example of modern augury, "when the swallows fly low, the weather will turn wetter".  Obviously, that fails generalisation, but we can propose a physical explanation.  The swallows hunt insects and insects will fly lower closer to safety when the humidity and the risk for rain increase.  We can test this and get reasonably good results, but it doesn't always mean that it's the best science.  Humans are masters in finding patterns, but they do not always exist.  That's how our minds are wired.  So we must be extra careful.

I don't know how the NH samples were justified as SH data, but there are pitfalls.  Let's say a NH record matches a more direct SH record.  It's tempting to use it as a confirmation of the SH record or to fill in gaps in the SH record.  Humans so easily ignore everything that doesn't match, so there's a selection bias here.  Then, can we trust a physical explanation for the relationship proposed after the correlation was found as much as an explanation first found and then confirmed by data?  And again, even if the link was proposed first, we tend to ignore findings that don't support it until we find something that apparently does.  We must also consider the possibility that the SH record is wrong, and therefore also the NH confirmation.  And any actual NH proxies which predict SH would have been overlooked.

Yes, the general picture is that the global temperature has declined through the Holocene, but the disagreement is about whether we can confidently say that there hasn't (or has) been a more abrupt temperature change in that period than the past century, or temperatures higher than what we currently measure.  The details are in question.

I don't intend to dismiss anything but direct measurements.  But in many cases I prefer to call it an educated guess rather than solid science.
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21 Jun 2017 02:25

midtskogen wrote:
Source of the post For instance, as an example of modern augury, "when the swallows fly low, the weather will turn wetter".  Obviously, that fails generalisation, but we can propose a physical explanation.  The swallows hunt insects and insects will fly lower closer to safety when the humidity and the risk for rain increase.  We can test this and get reasonably good results, but it doesn't always mean that it's the best science.  Humans are masters in finding patterns, but they do not always exist.  That's how our minds are wired.  So we must be extra careful.

This is a good analogue.  If we discover this relationship that works "reasonably well" (passes some confidence threshold in a statistical analysis) then we might begin to think the relationship is physical rather than random or uncorrelated.  It could be a fluke, but the stronger the result the less likely it is one, and we can be quantitative about it.

This methodology is a form of pattern matching, and your critique of it is correct.  If that's all there was to it (no underlying physical understanding, no correspondence to prior knowledge, etc), then it would be rather poor science.  But that isn't all there is to it.

In the swallow-rain example, the relationship makes a number of predictions.  You provide an example of insect hunting.  Test it, see if it works.  That's not bad science.  That's great science.  You observed something, hypothesized about the underlying mechanisms, built a model which made new predictions, and then you tested them.  The results of those tests will indicate the strength of the model.

With this methodology for northern proxies producing southern temperatures, the reconstruction itself is a prediction.  A different reconstruction using different methodology acts as a test.  How well do they agree?  We don't necessarily expect perfect agreement (that would be quite surprising), but the better it is, the more confidence we have. 

Then we may consider what the reconstructions show, or don't show, and how that fits with prior knowledge.  I'll frame this as a couple of questions to think about:

How would a global change, comparable in magnitude and timescale to this one, not show up in the record, when the global changes that we know about (like volcanic eruptions, solar activity, orbital-obliquity cycle) do?  Why is this record consistent with our understanding of the physics of radiative forcings and how they have changed, if we suppose the real record includes such unknown, comparable magnitude changes?
 
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21 Jun 2017 06:31

Watsisname wrote:
Source of the post  If we discover this relationship that works "reasonably well" (passes some confidence threshold in a statistical analysis) then we might begin to think the relationship is physical rather than random or uncorrelated.

Yes, but we must not get carried away.  Let's say I want to use swallows as a proxy for relative humidity.  And I have a dataset showing swallow altitude and relative humidity measured by instruments.  I do some number crunching and find a suitable smoothing of the data and a conversion function giving me an accuracy with 0.1 percent point.  Perfect!  Better than most hygrometers.  But I got carried away and I didn't consider that the dataset was for African swallows, not European.  And that in order to get the 0.1 accuracy I overfitted when I chose a 163 degree polynomial conversion function.  And it might been a stretch to use the swallows in my backyard field to determine the current NH relative humidity.

Exaggerations aside, there is no clear line between good science and educated guesses.

Watsisname wrote:
Source of the post How would a global change, comparable in magnitude and timescale to this one, not show up in the record, when the global changes that we know about (like volcanic eruptions, solar activity, orbital-obliquity cycle) do?

In the AR5 figures the current warming shows up clearly, but it's not that striking, is it?  As I said, the hockey stick has been downplayed.  And that's just the past 2000 years (hardly).  I think the SH records are too thin.  It also seems a bit odd that the proxies tend to agree a lot more in the instrumental period - does it mean that they're better calibrated or otherwise adjusted for this period?  Which would imply an indirect splice with instruments.
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05 Sep 2017 08:19

Global warming is a serious issue nowadays. I think society should pay more attention to this issue, 
we should do all possible to prevent it
 
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05 Sep 2017 10:11

Yes nuclear+renewables is definitely the way to go.
 
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19 Jan 2019 02:40

We may be more screwed then we had previously thought with climate change: https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2019/01/rcp-85-the-climate-change-disaster-scenario/579700/

No real surprise, really :|.
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19 Jan 2019 02:58

yes I really hope this Green New Deal passes, we need it.

Things are pretty bad in the US

Did you read these (also linked on the same page)?

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2019/01/rcp-85-the-climate-change-disaster-scenario/579700/

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/11/national-climate-assessment-black-friday/576589/

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2019/01/us-carbon-pollution-rose-2018/577549/

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/11/how-hot-will-climate-change-make-earth/576700/

https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2018/08/a-global-rightward-shift-on-climate-change/568684/

Trump is beholden to both the fossil fuel industry and the chemical industry- we need to ban lobbying altogether and remove money from politics (no superpacs, corporate donations, large donations, etc.)

from Sen Tammy Duckworth

My office received a disturbing report this week that Trump political appointees at the EPA have ordered staff NOT to inspect facilities that cancer-causing emissions of Ethylene Oxide like Sterigenics in DuPage County. If this is true, it would put thousands of families at risk.

America's oil boom is terrible for the climate
America's push for oil and gas supremacy could lead to a "climate catastrophe," a new report has warned. 

The report by Oil Change International said that the United States is set to "unleash the world's largest burst" of carbon emissions from new oil and gas development if it goes ahead with its plans to expand drilling.

"At precisely the time in which the world must begin rapidly decarbonizing to avoid runaway climate disaster, the United States is moving further and faster than any other country to expand oil and gas extraction," the report said.

https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/18/business ... index.html

Yes, you're hearing about stuff like this from all across the country.  Trump is closely aligned with both the chemical and fossil fuel industry lobbies and is deregulating to increase their profits at the risk of of all our health.

The fossil fuel industry is also a wee bit upset lol because New York has a big lawsuit going against them as do a few other states.  The NYS case is specifically against Exxon (who has been covering up climate change science research since the 70s) and like Chuck Schumer said, in what world did we allow such a toxic supermerger like Exxon and Mobil to take place?  It's these supermergers (that happen in the media too) that has created such a toxic environment (another bad one was Monsanto-Bayer).



and the pharma industry is just as bad

Opioids are also very dangerous and if the lawsuit in MA is any indication, expect a tobacco sized lawsuit with multiple states joining in.  Really reprehensible that those pharma companies knew the dangers and were covering it up.  It isn't just opioids either, it's a similar situation with ADHD medication also.  Profits before health.

 

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/opioid-cri ... 0-minutes/

 

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/mike-moore ... 0-minutes/

 

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/drug-compa ... -lawsuits/

 

http://www.tribtown.com/2019/01/06/us-o ... -lawsuits/
 
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19 Jan 2019 15:37

People will only change their lifestyles if the danger directly impacts their lives - and even then not collectively. Unfortunately with climate-change, the exact time it becomes a direct danger to bodily health, it's far too late to do any meaningful alterations to the environment for the better.
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19 Jan 2019 22:51

Carbon emission wont drop significantly until nuclear power becomes cheaper (or some other form of scalable, environmentally friendly, carbon emission free power source - but what would that be?), and little indicates that it will happen soon.  Research has been set back decades due to superstition about radiation.  Fortunately the climate catastrophes that we hear of are not likely, and high CO2 concentrations also have positive sides.  The trouble is, accurate projections are hard to make, and therefore it's also hard for science to rule out the bad outcomes. We need to be reminded of Russell's teapot.  Just because something could be so, it doesn't mean that we should assume so.

I'm siding somewhat with Bjørn Lomborg.  I so think he makes the error in having strong opinions on issues in way too many scientific fields that he could possibly be qualified in, maybe also resorting too much to strawman tactics, as do a great many people on the other side in this matter, but he's making important points how climate change is improperly addressed.

School children should watch things like "An inconvenient truth" by Al Gore and another take, like "Cool it", then be encouraged to become scientists.

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20 Jan 2019 01:02

Solutions prepared in broken systems will turn out broken and flawed. 'Cap and trade' is a good example of that.

midtskogen wrote:
Source of the post Research has been set back decades due to superstition about radiation.

This is true, and rather sad. The fear clouds the ability to do meaningful research.

midtskogen wrote:
Source of the post and high CO2 concentrations also have positive sides.

Often only temporarily, and in niche scenarios. Plants may experience a boom in growth if carbon dioxide content in the atmosphere grows. This is an often misrepresented upside, as increased CO2 deliberates other vital systems plants rely on, like nitrogenous compounds in the soil and the PH content of the watertable (it's like saying high UV-light doses help DNA to evolve. Yes UV radiation can encourage cell mutation, but it does more harm then good at higher grades). The following video explores the upside of climate-change for places like Antarctica:

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20 Jan 2019 03:24

Watsisname wrote:
There is a very real problem of bias in science, especially when it has political implications as is the case in climate science, and if data were indeed wrongly manipulated to exaggerate an effect then that should be the end of that scientist's career.  This has happened before.  Of course the popular thing to do these days is hack emails to try catch evidence of a scientist doing wrong by their communications.  But one of the more powerful cases, which sometimes happens, is when someone takes the time to check how errors propagate in the calculations, and find that in order for their error bars to be as small as they are, some of that scientist's measurements must have had negative uncertainty.  Oops!  
 
That being said, I think also important not to let the scope of that problem cloud judgement on the scope of our understanding of the science and the extent of the uncertainties.  The nature of the pause is pretty well understood as an effect of heat transfer between different parts of the Earth system (particularly between atmosphere and deep ocean water), and not so much a problem of our understanding of global warming as a change in the radiation balance between Earth and space.  Corrections to the projections of future warming based on these internal variations aren't negligible, but it still doesn't change them much.

The bigger problem is corporate malfeasance.... like when Exxon was covering up climate change studies in the 70s or the scientists who got paid by the sugar industry to bury the research done at Harvard that showed the dangerous effects of sugary drinks, etc, or Merck's paying of researchers to forge data on Vioxx.  Sooner or later the truth will out, and likely with a class action lawsuit and FOIA!

Stellator, besides CO2, fossil fuels also result in higher rates of pollution and asthma in big cities and more earthquakes from fracking which require more regulation.  I dont like pipelines either, lots of flammable potential there, and these companies are kicking people out of their homes to build them.  I generally dont like large corporations of any type, we need to cut them down to size and not allow supermergers in any industry.

The human caused 6th mass extinction is already underway and half of species in the wild will likely be extinct by 2100.

There is so much to talk about with this- like the side effects of monotypal farming, animal agriculture, etc.

Stellator- people dont make changes themselves, neither do corporations (they just dump their toxic chemicals in superfund sites and then people get cancer from them while the EPA looks the other way- until they get sued- which is whats happening now) this is exactly why govt needs to take control and FORCE the change and put it in the constitution so regardless of who is in power, they cannot take the changes away.  All new homes in Florida are now required to have solar power- this is what we need.  And ban all fossil fuel powered vehicles by 2030.  Regardless of the economical hit, because something far bigger is at stake than just money.  I would also ban all corporate lobbying, all corporate donations, superpacs etc- and put all that in national constitutions so money has zero effect on policy decisions.
 
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20 Jan 2019 04:01

A-L-E-X wrote:
Source of the post The human caused 6th mass extinction is already underway and half of species in the wild will likely be extinct by 2100.

Although the rate of extinction right now is comparable to the rate of extinction seen in the fossil record, this is a deeply flawed comparison.  The fossil record preferentially contains organisms that were geographically widespread and therefore had the best chances of being preserved.  But most species we see going extinct today are small, niche populations, which we would not expect to be preserved in the fossil record and easily found by geologists millions of years later.

That is not to say that the current loss of biodiversity isn't a problem, however, and it potentially could become more similar to some the mass extinctions in the geologic record if we don't change things around with warming and land use change.  Otherwise, so far, the closest analogue to current events is the PETM, which did involve a lot of extinction and left a notable mark in the geologic record, but wasn't similar to the more well known mass extinction events like the K-T impact or P-T extinction.
 
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20 Jan 2019 04:36

Those are good points, Wat, we cant make a valid comparison because we weren't around then to witness those mass extinctions.  And like you said, this is serious and can easily get worse.  The current mass extinction isn't all climate related though, it's also linked to human expansion and cutting down of forests and living in areas they have no business living in.  I like the human global superpredator comparison, but a better comparison is that humanity, as a whole, functions like a virus.  You're right that this mass extinction isn't like the others, much like manmade climate change, it's happening a lot faster than the natural ones.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holocene_extinction

The Holocene extinction, otherwise referred to as the Sixth extinction or Anthropocene extinction, is the ongoing extinction event of species during the present Holocene epoch, mainly as a result of human activity.[1][2] The large number of extinctions spans numerous families of plants and animals, including mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and arthropods. With widespread degradation of highly biodiverse habitats such as coral reefs and rainforests, as well as other areas, the vast majority of these extinctions are thought to be undocumented, as no one is even aware of the existence of the species before they go extinct, or no one has yet discovered their extinction. The current rate of extinction of species is estimated at 100 to 1,000 times higher than natural background rates.[3][4][5][2]

The Holocene extinction includes the disappearance of large land animals known as megafauna, starting at the end of the last Ice Age. Megafauna outside of the African continent, which did not evolve alongside humans, proved highly sensitive to the introduction of new predation, and many died out shortly after early humans began spreading and hunting across the Earth (additionally, many African species have also gone extinct in the Holocene). These extinctions, occurring near the Pleistocene–Holocene boundary, are sometimes referred to as the Quaternary extinction event.

The arrival of humans on different continents coincides with megafaunal extinction. The most popular theory is that human overhunting of species added to existing stress conditions. Although there is debate regarding how much human predation affected their decline, certain population declines have been directly correlated with human activity, such as the extinction events of New Zealand and Hawaii. Aside from humans, climate change may have been a driving factor in the megafaunal extinctions, especially at the end of the Pleistocene.

Ecologically, humanity has been noted as an unprecedented "global superpredator" that consistently preys on the adults of other apex predators, and has worldwide effects on food webs. There have been extinctions of species on every land mass and in every ocean: there are many famous examples within Africa, Asia, Europe, Australia, North and South America, and on smaller islands. Overall, the Holocene extinction can be linked to the human impact on the environment. The Holocene extinction continues into the 21st century, with meat consumption, overfishing, ocean acidification and the decline in amphibian populations being a few broader examples of an almost universal, cosmopolitan decline in biodiversity. Human overpopulation (and continued population growth) along with profligate consumption are considered to be the primary drivers of this rapid decline.[6][7][8]

I found some papers so I'll link them here:

http://scientistswarning.forestry.orego ... -13-17.pdf

Moreover, we have unleashed a mass extinction event, the sixth in roughly 540 million years, wherein many current life forms could be annihilated or at least committed to extinction by the end of this century.

http://science.sciencemag.org/content/360/6393/1080.2

https://doi.org/10.1126%2Fscience.269.5222.347

https://doi.org/10.1046%2Fj.1420-9101.1996.t01-1-9010124.x

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/cobi.12380

http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2017/07/05/1704949114.full

[size=85][font=sans-serif] Much less frequently mentioned are, however, the ultimate drivers of those immediate causes of biotic destruction, namely, human overpopulation and continued population growth, and overconsumption, especially by the rich. These drivers, all of which trace to the fiction that perpetual growth can occur on a finite planet, are themselves increasing rapidly.[/font][/size]

[size=85][font=sans-serif]http://static.squarespace.com/static/51b078a6e4b0e8d244dd9620/t/538797c3e4b07a163543ea0f/1401395139381/Pimm+et+al.+2014.pdf[/font][/size]

[size=85][font=sans-serif][size=85][font=sans-serif] The overarching driver of species extinction is human population growth and increasing per capita consumption.[/font][/size][/font][/size]

[size=85][font=sans-serif][size=85][font=sans-serif]https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2017/07/12/earth-is-on-its-way-to-the-biggest-mass-extinction-since-the-dinosaurs-scientists-warn/[/font][/size][/font][/size]
 
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20 Jan 2019 07:20

Stellarator wrote:
Source of the post Solutions prepared in broken systems will turn out broken and flawed. 'Cap and trade' is a good example of that.

Agree.  It's such a bad idea and makes me wonder what planet these people coming up with this are on.  It's such an invitation to abuse and corruption.

Stellarator wrote:
Source of the post Often only temporarily, and in niche scenarios. Plants may experience a boom in growth if carbon dioxide content in the atmosphere grows.

Not may, but significantly so.  The more interesting question is, how do that and other benefits compare with the downsides.  If this is seriously researched and the news is good, these results would be almost unpublishable in the current "climate".  It makes it extra hard to know for sure.

A-L-E-X wrote:
Source of the post The human caused 6th mass extinction is already underway and half of species in the wild will likely be extinct by 2100.

This is hard to quantify, but I agree that the Earth's biodiversity is changing.  A lot.  Because of humans.  The really major error that many people make, and this makes me sad, is thinking that climate change is an important cause.  The real reason is of course that we've converted the most fertile half of Earth's land area to crops, pasture, concrete and asphalt.  And if we are to combat climate change by converting even more land to solar and wind power plants, it's really stupidity beyond words.
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