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Key Global Warming Study May Have Bad Mathematics

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the taking-a-cold-hard-look dept.

Bug 77

An anonymous reader writes "Berkeley physics professor Richard A. Muller writes that a key study showing a sudden 'hockey stick shape' increase in global temperature may be flawed from bad mathematics. Stephen McIntyre and Ross McKitrick say that Michael Mann's computer program handled data normalization incorrectly and exaggerated data with a hockey stick shape." Update: 10/18 18:26 GMT by J : Alas for the environment, it looks like McKitrick and McIntyre have been refuted. "In previous rounds of the debate, Lambert has shown that McKitrick messed up an analysis of the number of weather stations, showed he knew almost nothing about climate, flunked basic thermodynamics, couldn't handle missing values correctly and invented his own temperature scale. But Tim's latest discovery really takes the cake."

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77 comments

Glad this made it (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10549841)

Some whiney slashdotter was going on about this. Thankfully, one piece of dodgy mathematics has completely shown global warming to be an elaborate liberal hoax.

Da Dum Dum DUM (2, Funny)

ahknight (128958) | more than 9 years ago | (#10549842)

Changing the climate, one FDIV at a time.

finally (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10549864)

it has been proven once and for all, global warming isn't real

Junk science strikes again (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10549868)

For a group of techno-nerds who supposedly present themselves as independent thinkers, cynics, and skeptics, I see a lot of you buying into these environmental reports from the government, and the various international agencies.

The facts are quite clear. There is no proof for man-made global warming. Between solar cycles, the cycles of ice-ages, and other complex atmospheric and land-based occurrences, it would appear that we have very little to do with any of it. There were times of extreme heat and extreme cold long before we were here. Temperatures have been on a slow, and natural climb, since the last ice age, as you would expect. Most of the increases in the 20th century occurred before we even had any big industry. One cannot dismiss volcanoes and other natural forces that created the atmosphere in the first place.

There is a long history of anti-American, anti-technology fanaticism that works to destroy successful enterprises and nations. The enviro extremists fall into that category quite nicely. Did you ever notice how they never mention one shred of evidence that they might have miscalculated, or might be wrong altogether? It rarely happens in real science that your theories are perfectly accurate throughout your experimentation, especially when the real evidence shows contrary results. Maybe that's because they're not presenting real science.

It just so happens that the very small, agenda driven, socialized, government-paid scientific community is the only one that buys into the extremist theories. 19,000 independent scientists and engineers came forward two years ago to show that the evidence being presented for global warming was not science, but rather pseudoscience and rhetoric. These were people who were the best in their fields from all over the world and their concerns were understandably focused on the bogus Kyoto Treaty. They sucessfully debunked the enviro theories and showed quite a bit of evidence that described the exact opposite of the "Chicken Little" doomsday theories.

Even many liberals are leaving the ranks of the extremist environmentalist groups. Largely because the groups have shown themselves to be fraudulent. The scare tactics from those groups are created to keep the money rolling in, so they can promise to present a solution that is waiting for a problem. If everything is OK, as is the case, we don't need them, and that's their greatest fear. Let's not forget that they focus all their attentions on the big metropolitan areas for their supposed research and completely ignore the outlying areas, the weather balloon tests, and the satellite results, all of which show a slight cooling trend lately. Sure, we can create heat islands, but that is not global, and certainly should not require punitive actions. And why is it that it's always the US that gets the blame? We produce more than any other country, support a good portion of the world through foreign aid, and follow some of the strictest standards for emissions. It's cowardly to point the finger at us and ignore countries like China, India, and the third world nations who live in heavily polluted, heavily populated areas where no research is being done to clean things up.

I would suggest that everybody follow the money trail and where ultimate power is being created. Follow your instincts of skepticism and dig deeper to find the real facts. Figure out what it is that concerns you the most about the future and why so many people seem to ignore our sovereignty and Constitutional rights to freedom and are so quick to buy into junk science. Remember what our forefathers were insinuating when they stated: "He who sacrifices a little freedom to gain a little security, will lose both, and deserves neither". Don't fall into the trap of allowing bogus results determine what we're all allowed to do and not do for the remainder of human civilization.

The 'Little Ice Age' (2, Insightful)

whoda (569082) | more than 9 years ago | (#10549913)

The Little Ice Age in Europe from 1400-1850 is now thought to have been caused by an abnormal lack of SUNSPOTS.
Sunspots cause the sun to give off alot more heat/energy than a nicely uniformed surface sun does.

Conversely, a couple hundred years of above average sunspots would seem to cause global temps to increase. Too bad we only have about 1,000 years of data on sunspots.
We have no idea what the average is. What if we are coming off of a 5,000 year low cycle?

It's amazing what humans don't always cause, isn't it.

Re:The 'Little Ice Age' (3, Informative)

jerkface (177812) | more than 9 years ago | (#10551485)

I have to reply, because there are too many things wrong in this post for it to have such a high score.

The Little Ice Age in Europe from 1400-1850 is now thought to have been caused by an abnormal lack of SUNSPOTS. Sunspots cause the sun to give off alot more heat/energy than a nicely uniformed surface sun does.

Sunspots don't cause more energy to come from the sun - the fact is that sunspots are cooler than the rest of the sun's surface. Sunspots are, however, symptoms of an active sun. Just as low levels of sunspots occur when the sun is less active.

Too bad we only have about 1,000 years of data on sunspots.

Sunspots have been directly observed and recorded in reasonable detail only since Galileo's time. But in another sense, we actually have data going back much farther than that. During periods of high solar activity, the sun bombards the earth with a larger number of subatomic particles. This type of radiation results in constant isotope formation - in particular, this is why things left exposed on the earth's surface keep a constant concentration of Carbom 14. Isotope ratio measurements have in fact been used to infer changes in solar activity for periods during which nobody was recording sunspot counts.

Also, while higher solar activity heats the earth, the main part of the effect is actually very indirect. Most of the extra heating associated with a hotter sun cannot be explained by radiation alone. What happens is that the higher particle flux strengthens the earth's magnetosphere, and somewhat ironically, this means the atmosphere is better protected from being eroded away by solar wind precisely when solar wind is most dense! The slightly thicker "blanket" of atmosphere allows the earth to retain a bit more heat.

This fact doesn't completely debunk the manmade global warming hypothesis. Changes in solar activity probably "only" account for 75% of the climate change since the end of the Little Ice Age. The other 25% could all easily be the work of mankind. But there are two reasons I don't think we should panic yet. First, there's mounting evidence that the Medieval Warm Period (which preceded the Little Ice Age) peaked at levels even warmer than what we now experience. So modern temperatures aren't really unprecedented. Secondly, all of the four previous interglacials peaked at much higher temperatures than ours has. So, a very long view of climate shows that on fairly regular intervals, the earth experiences temperatures similar to those we now have, even without any help from mankind.

Re:The 'Little Ice Age' (3, Informative)

mc6809e (214243) | more than 9 years ago | (#10553087)

There is a nice graph here [noaa.gov] showing the slight increase in the sun's average output during periods of high sunspot activity.

It appears there is an increase of 2 watts/m^2 at the earth's distance from the sun.

Re:The 'Little Ice Age' (1)

haruchai (17472) | more than 9 years ago | (#10553526)

In other words, relatively insignificant - right?

Re:The 'Little Ice Age' (1)

mc6809e (214243) | more than 9 years ago | (#10554221)

In other words, relatively insignificant - right?

+0.4 kelvin increase in temperature is considered significant evidense of global warming.

Why should +2 watts/m^2 of extra radiation be considered insignificant?

The applet here [umass.edu] suggests that a +2 watts/m^2 would raise the temperature +0.11 kelvin. That more than 25% of the +0.4 kelvin increase. That's hardly insignificant.

Consider also that the applet given doesn't take into account a multiplier effect due to the extra heating of water which increases water vapor in the atmosphere (water vapor is by far the biggest green house gas - even more than CO2). The additional heating of the ocean by this extra radiation is going to increase the amount of water vapor in the atmostphere, enhancing the greehouse effect.

Climate models assume that, for each 1 degree increase in warming due to CO2, water vapor creates a 4 degree increase in warming.

So assuming this multiplier, +0.11 becomes an increase of +0.55.

Of course it's much more complicated than this, but +2 watts/m^2 isn't necessarily insignificant.

Re:The 'Little Ice Age' (1)

barawn (25691) | more than 9 years ago | (#10559424)

We have no idea what the average is. What if we are coming off of a 5,000 year low cycle?

Um, then the predictions are wrong, and we'll find out. That's science!

Now, if you're trying to use this to justify policy, that's a different point. After all:

  • We have to reduce CO2 emissions eventually anyway - we can't simply continue to do it. We'll run out of fossil fuels, or if we're really stupid and find a way to continue emitting CO2 at current levels, we'll kill ourselves in 10,000-20,000 years or so from too high CO2 concentration.
  • The downside to reducing CO2 emissions earlier than needed is that we have to "bite the bullet" in dealing with finding a new energy source earlier rather than later. It does, however, mean that we still have relatively economical fossil fuels for some time to come.
  • The downside to reducing CO2 emissions too late could be serious environmental repercussions, which we can only speculate about. Likewise, the downside to cutting back on fossil fuel dependence too late is serious economic repercussions from demand exceeding supply.
  • We already have several technologies which can replace fossil fuels - they aren't quite as cost effective currently, and questions exist as to whether or not they can scale, but they do exist.


If you approach the problem logically, we're fools not to start cutting down on CO2 usage now and start phasing in newer, cleaner technologies (mandating hybrid cars, pushing towards non-fossil fuel power plants, etc.).

We have to do it eventually. There are little downsides to doing it too early, and in fact, several possible positives. There are many possible severe downsides to doing it too late.

Essentially, Earth's societies are procrastinating. We have to do it eventually. We just don't want to start doing it yet. This is naive, and quite dangerous.

Re:The 'Little Ice Age' (1)

mi (197448) | more than 9 years ago | (#10567420)

we'll kill ourselves in 10,000-20,000 years or so from too high CO2 concentration

...

If you approach the problem logically, we're fools not to start cutting down on CO2 usage now and start phasing in newer, cleaner technologies (mandating hybrid cars, pushing towards non-fossil fuel power plants, etc.).

Actually, your proposal is as illogical as it gets. By your own numbers, we will begin facing dangers 10000-20000 years from now -- that is, roughly, the length of the known history.

Why mandate anything now, when both the technology is still expensive, and the need is far from obvious? By your estimates, we can safely wait another 3-7 thousand years, and if our kin does not have the right technology by that time, than may be they deserve to die out.

A simple cost-benefit analysis suggests, the resources can be spent on something much more useful.

Re:The 'Little Ice Age' (1)

barawn (25691) | more than 9 years ago | (#10568385)

Why mandate anything now, when both the technology is still expensive, and the need is far from obvious? By your estimates, we can safely wait another 3-7 thousand years, and if our kin does not have the right technology by that time, than may be they deserve to die out.

It's utterly amazing that you read everything that I wrote, and missed the point entirely.

We can't wait 3 to 7 thousand years. I never said that. I simply said that it's insane to even consider that we can continue pumping out CO2 indefinitely. We can't. No one could possibly suggest that we could. 10,000 years is still less than infinity. That's all that I meant.

Since we have to stop sometime, that means we have to begin stopping at some point as well. If we don't do it soon, we're just putting it off, and we're going to make the rate at which we have to cut down on emissions much, much higher.

A simple cost-benefit analysis suggests, the resources can be spent on something much more useful.

No, it doesn't. We're clearly approaching the peak of oil production in less than 100 years. We can either continue the way we are now and change very violently in fifty-sixty years, or change gradually now and not wreck the world's economy.

Why do you think people are talking about "reducing our dependency on foreign oil"? Why don't we tackle both problems at once and reduce CO2 emissions as well? Why risk it?

Re:The 'Little Ice Age' (1)

mi (197448) | more than 9 years ago | (#10569066)

We can't wait 3 to 7 thousand years. I never said that. I simply said that it's insane to even consider that we can continue pumping out CO2 indefinitely. We can't. No one could possibly suggest that we could. 10,000 years is still less than infinity. That's all that I meant.

I said, we can wait 3 to 7 thousand years before working on avoiding suffocation based on your figure of 10 thousand years before we begin to suffocate.

You are right, the problem can not be put off infinitely, but even 3 thousand years is about 10 times the history of these Colonies. An awful lot will change -- we may have cold fusion and interstellar travel by then.

If we don't do it soon, we're just putting it off, and we're going to make the rate at which we have to cut down on emissions much, much higher.

7 thousands years from now? Somehow, I'm not worried. Any attempts to predict, what is going to happen in 1 thousand years are solidly in the realm of fiction -- predominantly unscientific. I'm sorry, but your demands, start we start sacrificing now for the sake of our future great-great-....-grandchildren thousands of years from now are not at all convincing.

We're clearly approaching the peak of oil production in less than 100 years.

Aha, now we are switching the subject slightly from CO2 emissions to oil shortage. Let's look at this. For one, according to the past predictions expressed with the same vigor, we were supposed to run out of the stuff already. Or 10 years ago. Yet today's proven reserves world-wide are bigger than they were 30 years ago -- according to Economist [economist.com] .

Second, and most important, if we do start experiencing the oil shortage, the price will start climbing and the genuine market forces will make us switch to more economical technologies. No need for the "command and control" mandating, that you consider necessary somehow.

Why do you think people are talking about "reducing our dependency on foreign oil"?

Because they hope, it may get them elected.

Why don't we tackle both problems at once and reduce CO2 emissions as well?

Because both require very expensive solutions to something, that is not even problem. At least, not yet -- unlike, say, cancer, terrorism, AIDS, budget deficit, malaria, and obesity.

Re:The 'Little Ice Age' (1)

barawn (25691) | more than 9 years ago | (#10574857)

We currently are raising CO2 levels in the atmosphere by 2 parts per million per year.

We eventually have to be raising CO2 levels in the atmosphere by 0 parts per million per year.

That was the entire point of the statement regarding suffocation. Many people say "we shouldn't cut back on CO2 emissions - it's too costly." My point is that fundamentally, we have to.

Aha, now we are switching the subject slightly from CO2 emissions to oil shortage.

No - I included oil burning because oil burning is a major source of CO2 emissions. Cutting down on oil burning (without replacing it with a new form of CO2 emission) is cutting back on CO2 emission.

And note that I never talked about an oil shortage. I said the peak oil production.

An awful lot will change -- we may have cold fusion and interstellar travel by then.

Basing policy decisions on the possibility of future breakthroughs is not a solid long-term plan. It is far more efficient, and prudent, to begin the change gradually, and then, if the change is later deemed unnecessary, roll back the changes.

we were supposed to run out of the stuff already.

I'm not talking about running out of oil. I'm talking about oil production peaking. And when oil production peaks, the price will not go uniformly up, because demand is linked with price (also known as a feedback loop). Instead, the price will fluctuate wildly. Read here for more [wikipedia.org] . Don't suggest that people have been predicting the end of oil reserves for years. They haven't. Hubbert predicted the US oil production would peak in the 1970s. It did. That led to a very volatile period in gas prices in the US.

start we start sacrificing now for the sake of our future great-great-....-grandchildren thousands of years from now are not at all convincing.

Managing current resources for future needs is the responsibility of any government. It is, in fact, one of the chief reasons we have governments. There is a phrase for people who ignore long-term problems for short-term gains: we call them "short-sighted." It's generally considered derogatory.

Because they hope, it may get them elected.

It might also have something to do with the fact that oil concerns are driving foreign policy. The US is dependent upon foreign oil. This is a liability, just as any 'debt' is a liability. Both candidates (and, I imagine, a huge majority of citizens, economists, and scientists) insist that it is a good idea to eliminate dependency on foreign oil.

So, if we A: need to cut back on oil consumption very soon, B: have reason to believe that CO2 emission (mainly from oil) also needs to be cut back, why don't we do both if the cost is only marginally higher than doing one alone (which it is)?

Because both require very expensive solutions to something, that is not even problem. At least, not yet -- unlike, say, cancer, terrorism, AIDS, budget deficit, malaria, and obesity.

1: There will always be current problems right in our face that seem more immediate. That does not mean that a long term problem cannot be more severe and require just as much attention.

2: They both require the same solution! It's efficient to tackle both problems at once, rather than develop something that fixes one problem and leaves the other. You'll end up spending more money in the long term.

Change always is expensive. That doesn't mean that it isn't profitable in the long term. Given the huge amount of money that's flowing out of the US for foreign oil, I can't imagine that any cost/benefit analysis for any reasonably long period of time for the US would suggest continually burning oil. It's a losing position.

And it's interesting that you mentioned the budget deficit, as it's also linked to these problems, because we have such a huge amount of money flowing overseas to buy oil. If we cut back on burning oil, in favor of locally generated power sources, then that money stays here, and the trade deficit goes down. And then the budget deficit goes down as well.

Re:The 'Little Ice Age' (1)

mi (197448) | more than 9 years ago | (#10575041)

Basing policy decisions on the possibility of future breakthroughs is not a solid long-term plan. It is far more efficient, and prudent, to begin the change gradually, and then, if the change is later deemed unnecessary, roll back the changes.

If the term is long enough to cover several millenia, a plan for it, that begins with a few centuries of mere discussions, is a perfectly good one. Aggressive even...

Re:The 'Little Ice Age' (1)

barawn (25691) | more than 9 years ago | (#10601306)

If the term is long enough to cover several millenia, a plan for it, that begins with a few centuries of mere discussions, is a perfectly good one. Aggressive even...

OK, the whole "multi-millenia" thing was just to point out that even if you throw out running out of fossil fuels, and any possibility of global warming or environmental effects, you still have to cut down on CO2 emissions eventually, so, in the long run, it's still a good thing.

The end of fossil fuels and environmental effects are not multi-millenia effects. They'll show up in this century.

Besides, what do we need discussions for? The proper replacement for fossil fuels (and thus, cutting back on huge amounts of CO2 emissions) has been around for a while now. Replace most of the oil-burning/coal-burning/gas-burning power plants with combinations of nuclear, solar, wind, and hydroelectric plants. As a stopgap, introduce hybrid cars, and begin introducing a fuel cell based infrastructure, with hydrogen generation from either fossil fuels (temporarily) or electrolysis (in the long term).

Keeping the power plants, and continually building more oil-burning cars, only exacerbates the problem. Every dime you spend on those power plants to keep them alive for a longer period of time is foolish - they won't be profitable for an infinite period of time, so you shouldn't be planning on keeping them around for an infinite period of time. Likewise, the constant introduction of oil-burning cars is also foolish - those cars won't be affordable to drive over their lifespan. Most people, when looking at hybrid cars, for instance, look at the initial cost, and then say "well, I'd have to save $X each month to pay for it, and gas isn't that expensive." The problem is that they're neglecting the fact that gas prices, in the long term, must increase.

The other point regarding cars is the fact that it's extremely important to push hybrid cars into the market, because the new car sales are only a portion of the total car market - you need to get hybrid cars into the used market, rapidly. Tax credits for sale and purchase of hybrid cars would do this quite well. Plus, the increase in the number of hybrid cars would mean that more people are spending less money on gas, a portion of which goes overseas. So your trade deficit goes down, and from a government perspective, it's not only affordable, it's long-term beneficial.

The fact that certain people say that the cost is too high shows that they clearly don't understand the problem. The longer the fossil fuel plants and oil-burning cars operate, the more rapid the replacement plan must be, and the more expensive the plan must be. The sooner you start, the slower you can take the replacement plan. Simply require that power companies replace some fraction of their fossil-fuel burning plants with clean plants each year. Require that car manufacturers sell an increasing fraction of hybrid cars, and at some point start phasing in fuel-cell based cars.

The sooner it's done, the cheaper it is. And the less the consumer, and the companies will complain. In addition, the faster these companies switch off massive fossil fuel consumption, the longer the oil companies will be able to survive. It's just procrastination and short-term profiteering that's preventing it right now. It certainly isn't lack of sufficient motivation.

Re:The 'Little Ice Age' (1)

mi (197448) | more than 8 years ago | (#10602827)

What you keep advocating is heavy government meddling with markets. This sort of intrusion can only be justified by emergency situations -- like wars, or the onset of the predicted suffocation.

Long term, free market works best -- oil goes up in price, everyone starts buying economical cars, volunteerly.

The sooner it's done, the cheaper it is.

Why so? The technology is not quite here yet, forceful introduction of it will be expensive and wasteful -- as is everything done by a government.

Re:Junk science? Corporate cover-up? (2, Insightful)

Mind-over-matter-mat (822857) | more than 9 years ago | (#10550062)

I think this man suffers from his own empiricism.

"19,000 independent scientists and engineers came forward two years ago to show that the evidence being presented for global warming was not science, but rather pseudoscience and rhetoric".

Yes, it is difficult to prove anything. But the rhetoric involved is enlightening. Do you think the study they do is a waste of corporate dollars? Everything learnt and SHARED in rhetoric helps us to decifier the truth in situations. To silence any opinion would be to hinder the search for 'truth'. This is what John Stuart Mill makes clear in his book "On Liberty". Here's the link if you're not familiar: <http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/jsmill-lib.htm l>

The problem is that you seem to be adopting someone elses opinion rather than formulating your own. Just because science can't prove it does not necessarily mean it does not exist - God is a typical example but the christian form that pops to mind is definately flawed, however the concept remains the same!

I am confident that as a result of all the debate being undertaken we have become aware that our behaviour as the behavior of Man is adversely affecting our one, and only, planet. To deny this implies ignorance on your part. Your argument seems to be that planetary degradation happens over time with natural fluctuations, so we don't need to bother because we are all going to suffer and die eventually. With your attitude i am sure someone will and it will probably be your childeren. My argument lies here: An asteroid hitting earth doesn't mean we can't do our best to stop the asteroid doing as much damage as possible. So in the case of the preservation of our planet: sure we only live for 100 years, but what gives us the right to add to the further degradation of the biosphere? and the resultant reduction in quality of life for the generations to come?

Essentially it translates into people like you valuing apathy and your own materialistic egoisms.

Gaia forgive us!

America seems to receive much blame that it does not deserve, the world will not immediately follow suit if America cleans up its act, this is unfortunate. Other countries will abuse the economic opportunity that will result if America, or any country, begins to look after its portion of the world. What needs to happen is unity, but i am afraid that unity is not something the human species is good at.

As an individual the only option i have is to practice dialogue and to continue to learn. This is my primordial duty to Gaia, I search for the medicene that is much needed. And i don't even know if death is cheating.

Re:Junk science strikes again (4, Insightful)

node 3 (115640) | more than 9 years ago | (#10550135)

There is a long history of anti-American, anti-technology fanaticism that works to destroy successful enterprises and nations.

Nobody complains about a country that is the most kind, most efficient, least belligerent, most enlightened, etc. They complain when a country rides high atop the shoulders of the poor and pretends its success is due entirely to its morally superior system of Capitalism.

It's not success, progress, or technology that riles the world, it's the subjugation of the morality of the human to the morality of the dollar. You and your philosophical brethren like to claim that the concerned citizens of the world want to throw the world back to the stone-age, but in fact they want to make sure that human progress is both fairly distributed, and that it doesn't consume the resources of the world at an unsustainable rate.

Right now, the US is the worst offender. In a few decades it will likely be China. How would you like it if China polluted the air (imagine smog warnings in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco and LA being subject to the whim of China's industrial sector) and claimed anyone who complains is an "anti-Chinese", anti-technology fanatic?

Progress is good, we all love it, but it must be sustainable, rational, and equitable.

Re:Junk science strikes again (0, Flamebait)

Mind-over-matter-mat (822857) | more than 9 years ago | (#10550172)

Sustainability is not economically feasible under the current capitalist regime even when current levels of technology are taken into account. Do i have faith that science and technology can solve my problems and undo all the harm? Or do I take to the streets and propose clever and expensive restrictions? Being only one man i feel i will sit at my computer and vent my frustrations in text form... And i don't even know if my vote counts.

Re:Junk science strikes again (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10553032)

They complain when a country rides high atop the shoulders of the poor and pretends its success is due entirely to its morally superior system of Capitalism.

It's not success, progress, or technology that riles the world, it's the subjugation of the morality of the human to the morality of the dollar.


Do people still talk this way?

You sound like like someone living in 1968.

Re:Junk science strikes again (1)

orpx (692347) | more than 9 years ago | (#10562584)

then one of the millions of idiots steps in, with sarcasm on something he cant even start to comprehend.

Can you even try to digest what he is saying? Then do you recognize the seriousness in what he is saying? Of course not, you're american. the government and corps have done plenty to seal your ears, and to be on your own, AND THAT YOU MUST SURVIVE, AND ONLY listen to 'friends'.

Re:Junk politics strikes again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10564850)

...and claimed anyone who complains is an "anti-Chinese", anti-technology fanatic?

If you lived anywhere near their part of the world, you would know China already does that. Actually, if you remember their reaction to the Wen Ho Lee case, the Hainan surveillance plane collision, and the Belgrade embassy bombing... it's already global; you just haven't been listening to them.

I would like to make some kind of remark about how they are progressing quite nicely in certain other countries' footsteps. That would be the "anti-imperialist" thesis, pretending Europeans invented imperialism. But if you look at a rather broader scope of history, it would be more accurate to say China already been editing the past & present their way for a couple thousand years. It's like 1984... BC.

Arrogant bluster and whitewashed revisionism are common strategies of politics in all spatial- and time- frames.

But aside from that, you are totally right that the guy you are responding to is some kind of a trolling KKK guy on crack. More likely he is being sarcastic, but moderators somehow missed his humor in rating him somewhat "insightful."

Re:Junk science strikes again (1, Insightful)

dunkelfalke (91624) | more than 9 years ago | (#10550197)

has it never occured to you that your thoughts could be also wrong?

humans do pollute atmosphere, and quite heavily at that. this is a fact and it doesn't need to be proven again and again. acid rains are also there, again a fact. lots of forests are dying because of acid rains.

now explain how these facts are antiamerican? is trying to preserve nature somehow antiamerican? or trying keep air we and our children will breathe more or less clean antiamerican?

so what is pro american then? consume and pollute like there is no tomorrow and thus there won't be a tomorrow?

in this case i'd rather tend to be antiamerican, yes.

and how is using a cleaner industry anti technology? cleaner industry means more modern and advanced technology has to be developed. in europe, the factories filter their pollution and generally produce less pollution because of the pro-enviroment laws. in japan the technology is the most advanced in the world because the raw materials there are scarce. this is absolutely pro technology, not against it.

sure, pro-environment laws can destroy some factories which are too cheap to upgrade and prefer to pollute. because making money is the only thing the corporations care about they have to be forced to care about environment.

so, why us-american corporations cannot upgrade and stay competitive while europe and japan have managed it without any problem?

in the rest of your post you sound like a spoiled child trying to relativate your faults "because the other are also bad"

india and china are developing countries. usa, europe and so on are already developed. they have polluted the air since 1850 and now, instead of ranting about developing countries they should rather shut up and help them to finish the development faster and rather cleaner.

by the way, do you know what a state is? a state is a community contract where everyone gives a part of his liberty to the abstract institutuon called state for the price of being secure. either that or you live in an anarchy.

Re:Junk science strikes again (5, Insightful)

squiggleslash (241428) | more than 9 years ago | (#10550481)

Let me see if I understand this correctly.

You're dismissing the entire global warming issue, something backed up by study after study, by independent scientists, on the basis of two arguments:

1. Independent scientists (scientists who are not working for a particular agenda) tend to work in government funded institutions (eg universities) and are therefore, by being funded by government, part of some "agenda driven, socialized, government driven" conspiracy.

2. ONE study has turned out to have a mathematical flaw in its model.

This argument makes sense to you why?

I'd also say that comments like

Even many liberals are leaving the ranks of the extremist environmentalist groups.
show that by and large it is people like you, so keen to discredit global warming, who have the extremist agenda driven views. So what if some liberals do not like Greenpeace? What on Earth does this have to do with anything? If Al Gore makes a speech at the Sierra Club, do CO2 emissions decrease signficantly? If Ralph Nader rips up his Green Party Membership card, does this act as a catalyst, increasing the degree to which CO2 traps heat on Earth?

The case for global warming is solid and backed up by the figures. The case for the mechanics of greenhouse effects is also solid. The case that CO2 levels are higher in the atmosphere today than they were 50 years ago is also solid. The case that human activity is resulting in a greater amount of CO2 being added to the atmosphere than would otherwise happen would appear to be self-evident - we're taking carbon stocks that would otherwise lie under the ground and we're literally burning them up, and we're replacing natural carbon sinks with deserts of tarmac and concrete.

What we're still trying to work out is the degree of the link between the first (global warming), and the last (our excessive CO2 production.) We're trying to work out what the affects of the first (global warming) will be on the weather (we're getting closer and closer all the time.) All of these are subjects that require research. But we can safely say that anyone who says, right now, on the basis of the evidence available, that there is simply no link whatsoever from the latter to the former is a kook. We may or may not be the primary cause of global warming, but to argue that we're having no affect would be to argue that either the concept of a greenhouse effect is flawed or that we're simply not increasing the overall amount of CO2 in the air despite all the logical evidence that we are.

And those who dismiss the concept rarely if ever address either issue, instead they point to problems with computer models predicting future temperature increases, or they complain that other factors may also be affecting the temperature, as if to say that because other factors are affecting it, we can't possibly be.

Re:Junk science strikes again (1)

astar (203020) | more than 9 years ago | (#10552231)

Come on, the co2 level a hundred years ago was solidly less than fifty years ago, but few claim that there was an antropogenic temperature increase in the early half of the twenthieth century. Oops, I am wrong. There was an antropogenic temperature change at about the turn of the century because people were switching to steam ships and this "caused" a change in temperature.

The real junk science issue is that the villian will not release his raw data so it can be done right, which makes a reasonable person think he fudged it on purpose. Certainly he is covering up.

I think the other computer models as applied to the greenhouse effect are junk science too. Not just because people plug them, but because they have yet to get a convincingly validated model, but the newspaper headlines do not reflect this.

Still, the co2 increase is real and substantial. So lets build lots of nucs.

Re:Junk science strikes again (3, Informative)

DougWebb (178910) | more than 9 years ago | (#10553223)

The case for global warming is solid and backed up by the figures.

True; temperatures have been rising for 300 years or so.

The case for the mechanics of greenhouse effects is also solid.

Largely true; we know that CO2 and water vapor in the atmosphere hold in heat, and that water vapor holds in much more. We also know that this effect is critical for keeping our planet from freezing solid.

We also know that increasing CO2 levels have a minor impact as a greenhouse gas, but may cause a domino effect: the small addition of heat from CO2 might cause more water vapor to stay in the atmosphere, which could have a large heating effect. But it's also possible that a counter-balancing mechanism would kick in to prevent this. The latter seems likely, since we know there have been periods in history with much higher CO2 levels than today, but without runaway global warming.

The case that CO2 levels are higher in the atmosphere today than they were 50 years ago is also solid.

True, and the rate seems to be increasing as well. From 1900 to 1940 CO2 levels rose around 18%, and from 1940 to 2000 they rose around 80%.

However, most of the warming that occured between 1900 and 2000 occurred before 1950. It seems that rising CO2 levels follow warmings, rather than preceed them. This suggests that the higher temperatures are causing the higher CO2 levels, rather than the other way around.

The case that human activity is resulting in a greater amount of CO2 being added to the atmosphere than would otherwise happen would appear to be self-evident - we're taking carbon stocks that would otherwise lie under the ground and we're literally burning them up, and we're replacing natural carbon sinks with deserts of tarmac and concrete.

Not really true. Sure, we're taking carbon out of the ground and releasing it into the atmosphere, but only 2/3 of it seems to stay there; reabsorption occurs, and may be able to hold more than we know. Furthermore, our contribution may be insignificant compared to what the earth is releasing. As I stated above, CO2 increases seem to be caused by higher temperatures (perhaps released from warmer oceans) and that contribution might be much more than we release.

We're not really replacing the carbon sinks either. In some areas we might be, but it's a fact that the forests in the United States, and probably much of the rest of the world, are growing in size, largely due to the higher amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. Pine trees grow up to three times faster at today's CO2 levels than at the levels in 1900, and all other plants grow faster too (anywhere from 10% to 300%, depending on species and conditions.) This could very well be the 'counter-balance' mechanism that prevents runaway global warming; higher CO2 levels cause the vegetative carbon sinks to grow more plentiful.

For more on all of this, watch this seminar from the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine [oism.org] .

Re:Junk science strikes again (1)

Urkki (668283) | more than 9 years ago | (#10554711)

  • Not really true. Sure, we're taking carbon out of the ground and releasing it into the atmosphere, but only 2/3 of it seems to stay there; reabsorption occurs, and may be able to hold more than we know.

Then again, they might be more limited, or at least slower, than we hope for...

Besides, even "only" 1/3 of the carbon we dig out of the earth ending up as extre CO2 in the atmosphere doesn't sound very reassuring.

  • Furthermore, our contribution may be insignificant compared to what the earth is releasing. As I stated above, CO2 increases seem to be caused by higher temperatures (perhaps released from warmer oceans) and that contribution might be much more than we release.

Indeed, more CO2 being released by highter temperatures is basiclaly the requirement to the run-off global warming. I wouldn't be so carefree about our CO2 emissions having no significant impact. We just don't know what are the dynamics of the atmosphere and biosphere as CO2 levels and temperatures increase. At the very least we should be prepared for ocean level rising, hurricanes increasing and all that. The nature will take care of itself (hopefully), but our economy won't...

  • We're not really replacing the carbon sinks either. In some areas we might be, but it's a fact that the forests in the United States, and probably much of the rest of the world, are growing in size, largely due to the higher amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. Pine trees grow up to three times faster at today's CO2 levels than at the levels in 1900, and all other plants grow faster too (anywhere from 10% to 300%, depending on species and conditions.) This could very well be the 'counter-balance' mechanism that prevents runaway global warming; higher CO2 levels cause the vegetative carbon sinks to grow more plentiful.

What I'd like to see is much bigger emphasis on increasing carbon sinks, by increaseing vegetation growth. What ever carbon we dig out of the ground, we should also grow enough plants to get comparable amount CO2 out of the atmosphere... There would be a lot of interesting applications of this overall approach, such as "wood gas" engines for use in agriculture and forestry (where getting fuel mass for the engine would not be a logistical problem) to reduce dependancy on oil and total output of CO2.

Re:Junk science strikes again (2, Insightful)

DougWebb (178910) | more than 9 years ago | (#10555065)

The amount of CO2 we release is measureable, but fairly insignificant compared to the total amount that exchanged between the atmostphere and carbon sinks naturally. It's kind of like worrying that you might cause a flood by running your garden hose during a heavy thunderstorm.

We just don't know what are the dynamics of the atmosphere and biosphere as CO2 levels and temperatures increase. At the very least we should be prepared for ocean level rising, hurricanes increasing and all that. The nature will take care of itself (hopefully), but our economy won't...

Actually, we have a pretty good idea of the dynamics: increased temperatures and CO2 lead to more vigourous plant growth, which leads to more plant-eating animals, which leads to more animal-eating animals. Biodiversity increases, and the ecosystem improves. Even humans will do better; there will be more food for us, and less hardship during winters (which will reduce our need for fuel, btw.)

As far as the ocean levels rising, it isn't happening, at least not for as long as satellites have been measuring ocean levels. Apparently, although the ocean level varies over time, its average level has been the same for many years, as measured by satellite. But when measured from the shorelines, it seems to be rising. What actually must be happening is that the shorelines are sinking (at least around the measurement points.)

Is the whole continent sinking? Maybe, from the weight of the new plants... Or maybe continents just tend to heave up in the middle and dip their shorelines down. Perhaps something is pushing up from underneath, and this is what causes the continents to move around.

Hurricanes haven't been getting worse either; we had a busy year this year, but it was just on the high side of average. Both the number of hurricanes, and their top wind speeds, have been pretty much constant for as long as these things have been measured.

Re:Junk science strikes again (1)

Urkki (668283) | more than 9 years ago | (#10555232)

  • Actually, we have a pretty good idea of the dynamics: increased temperatures and CO2 lead to more vigourous plant growth, which leads to more plant-eating animals, which leads to more animal-eating animals. Biodiversity increases, and the ecosystem improves. Even humans will do better; there will be more food for us, and less hardship during winters (which will reduce our need for fuel, btw.)

Plant growth increases only if the other necessary componentes are there. Good growth also needs
- water
- good soil
- sun's light
- land area

And, unlike perhaps ever before in Earth history (except perhaps asteroid impact killing almost everything, but I don't think that's a very positive comparison), we humans are using up a lot of land area (doesn't apply to sea plankton of course), making a lot of good soil go bad (deserts expanding, rainforests being cut and their fragile soil getting destroyed etc) etc. And I don't know if there are any reliable estimates of what will happen to average cloud coverage when CO2 levels go up, temperature goes up, there's more water vaporizing etc.

So just assuming that increased CO2 levels will lead to increased plant growth is gross oversimplification. And that goes for everything else, we do *not* know the dynamics even if we think we do. We can make guesses, but there are too many unknown variables to really know.

  • As far as the ocean levels rising, it isn't happening, at least not for as long as satellites have been measuring ocean levels. Apparently, although the ocean level varies over time, its average level has been the same for many years, as measured by satellite. But when measured from the shorelines, it seems to be rising. What actually must be happening is that the shorelines are sinking (at least around the measurement points.)

Well, we aren't seeing major melting over Greenland or Antarctic *land* area yet, and ice melting from mountain glaciers is insignificant amount and can get largely absorbed on the way to the sea anyway.

So the question is, will significant amount of glaciers over land (ie Greenland and Antarctic) melt or not. I dont' know if there are any credible claims that those melting would not affect sea levels, so the question that remains is, will they melt or not. If temperature rises, they might, or they might not, and we have really no way to know, other than waiting and seeing, since climate is so complex and, again, we can only guess at some of the variables.

Re:Junk science strikes again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10560406)

It's kind of like worrying that you might cause a flood by running your garden hose during a heavy thunderstorm.

Hey now, some of us with poor drainage actually do worry about this. Especially after a hurricane.

Re:Junk science strikes again (2, Insightful)

orangesquid (79734) | more than 9 years ago | (#10550546)

Whether or not global warming is a consequence of human folly, the point remains that humans have the power to cause drastic changes.

With great power comes great responsibility... that should be obvious.

Re:Junk science strikes again (1)

haruchai (17472) | more than 9 years ago | (#10550979)

Quite frankly, even if human activities are COMPLETELY blameless for global warming changes, which I highly doubt, our actions may well have harmed the ability of many ecosystems to cope with significant changes.
Quite frankly, the US only follows strict emission standards because of the effort of concerned environmentalists.
And, those standards are NOT nearly or usually the world's strictest.

But, even when they are, the standards were adopted from other countries, most of whom are working to further reduce pollution whereas America, under the Bush administration, roll back the hard-won victories of those who give a damn. By the way, junk science can be found on both sides of ANY issue. I don't hold the rising Third World Nations blameless and am well aware of the repercussions of their rapid growth but that doesn't absolve North Americans of their own responsibilities - the fact that my neighbor doesn't properly dispose of his garbage doesn't entitle me to dump mine wherever I please.
And don't drag the Constitution into this - the right to freedom applies to all so if your freedom contravenes mine, what then?

Re:Junk science strikes again (1)

erik_norgaard (692400) | more than 9 years ago | (#10554774)

Was this some sort of ironic post? All your blames against the enviro-extremists, can be equally repeated. Negate through your own post and you have pretty much what can be said about the ignorant american techno fanatism that works to destroy the world for its own benefit claiming that if you can earn money then it must be good.

America has about 4% of the world population, yet consumes more than 25% of world energy production according to this statistics http://energy.cr.usgs.gov/energy/stats_ctry/Stat1. html [usgs.gov]
(1998).

Just to compare, EU represents about 6% of the world population, and consumes 16% of the worlds energy - the average european consumes only 40% of the energy resources of the average american. China, about 25% of the world population consumes 10% of the energy. (see http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/cabs/euro.html [doe.gov] )

Comparing the EU and US economies, they are about equal size. This means european energy to money conversion is about 40% more effective than US. Taking into account the larger population of Europe the production per capita is about 65% of US, but the average efficiency per capita (that is the conversion of energy to money per capita) is some 60% better (consuming 40 units of the energy to produce 65 units of value).

In other words, US can do a lot to improve efficiency!

Continuing with status quo, America has a lot to loose if the world should even out the energy consumption to countries like China, India and the rest of the developing countries.

If everyone in the world consume the same ammount of energy as the average american then the consumption would 5-double. This is both far beyond sustainable consumption and production capacity. If the rest of the world get such access to energy resources, prices would skyrocket and this would put the american lifestyle under pressure.

This is why american anti-enviro extremists regard any movement towards sustainable development as anti-american. US has a huge interest in keeping the rest of the world poor.

I met a guy - he claimed to be internationally minded because he had a stamp in his passport - he was republican, and told me that going into Iraq was a brilliant move. Not because US needed the energy, but because there were plans building a pipeline from China. So the war was really about preventing other potential consumers getting access, or put another way, keep developing countries poor. "Brilliant", he said.

Appaerently you think it is unfair that others get a piece of the cake. This is why people favoring a sustainable development regard american policies as anti-world, and this also explains why americans are becomming increasingly less popular if at all welcome in the rest of the world.

The american lifestyle is not sustainable and the only way that the world as a whole can become a better place is if America gives up wasting energy and resources.

I'm European, I'm not particular anti-american, I'm just pro-world.

Re:Junk science strikes again (2, Insightful)

famebait (450028) | more than 9 years ago | (#10555163)

Temperatures have been on a slow, and natural climb, since the last ice age

Which is more than enough reason for concern in itself. Spewing out extra CO2 that might accellerate it (even if the chance was slight, which it is not) just because it is not proven to be harmful is basically playing russian roulette.

It just so happens that the very small, agenda driven, socialized, government-paid scientific community is the only one that buys into the extremist theories.

First of all, you try to make it sound like there are others that are not agenda-driven, which is obvious bullshit.

The rest of your argument is basically "only the people who know anything about the climate believe in it, and they are few." Uh, yeah? You think truth is some kind of democracy where every vote is equal whether you are informed or not?

As for your supposed "independent scientists": if you're a scientist your'e almost always either paid by a governement or by industry. Do the math.
And no, the laissez-faires are not in the majority among climatologists; not by a long shot.

Even many liberals are leaving the ranks of the extremist environmentalist groups. Largely because the groups have shown themselves to be fraudulent.

What the groups do or do not do has no bearing on whether there is a link between emissions and climate.

And why is it that it's always the US that gets the blame?

You don't get the blame. You get slammed because you are in a position to do something your future emissions (unlike India and China), yet refuse to do so.

You are right that americans should be very worried indeed about their disappearing freedoms, but the important ones are being taken away under the guise of protection against terrorism, not climate change.

And whoever modded that incoherent, unsubstatiated knee-jerk drivel as insightful clearly has no idea what an insight is.

Re:Junk science strikes again (1)

relaxrelax (820738) | more than 9 years ago | (#10670132)


Didn't you read _Propaganda_ by Edward Bernays? Or Chomsky's work? Or been at a lowly municipal debate?

It's quite possible all of Kyoto was flooded with junk science hype encouraged (but not manufactured) by polluting companies/governments for the express purpose of making the global warming science look like total junk.

There is no shortage of loonies on any side of any issue, and a reportage or a government summit meeting can easily make any side they want filled with only the worst nutcases they can find. No true scientists.

Then they can bait the press into mediatizing a flawed study from the Kyoto summit, as journalists don't ever go without the "two sides to each issue" approach and want to print a "global warming" side from the summit rather than from elsewhere (without a summit most readers don't care). And then you release days later the glaring flaws that are all over the loons to discredit global warming.

While I have no serious knowledge of global warming science (or junk science), I will NOT claim all global warming science to be junk science without checking scientific facts myself, with the help of a professional statistician if need be.

But then again maybe all global warming is nonsense. But you haven't truly verified yourself, have you?? And you certainly NOT have verified ALL of it to be junk science before posting to slashdot.

I hereby claim it is my opinion that not much good science was presented at Kyoto!!! But I'd be a fool to look only at Kyoto; the american DOD did take the issue extremely seriously.

If only they had caught this earlier... (4, Funny)

node 3 (115640) | more than 9 years ago | (#10550057)

It would have been nice had they caught this error earlier. Then maybe we could have avoided this year's barrage of hurricanes.

Oh well, at least they caught it well before winter sets in. This should help prevent any severe snow storms and blizzards this season.

Aha! THIS CONFIRMS MY SUSPICIONS! (2, Insightful)

hey! (33014) | more than 9 years ago | (#10550118)

or not.

This is how science works. You make your best arguments, they look unimpeachable to you or your reviewers, then somebody comes up with a way to impeach them.

It doesn't mean that your conclusions are wrong or that the challenger is right. It means that we have to look more closely.

Currently the scientific consensus seems to be for anthropogenic climate change, but it is not beyond scientific apporach. The attitude of "GOTCHA" is not appropriate for skeptics here, nor will that attitude be appropriate when the original authors of the study rebut the criticism.

It takes time to establish consensus, and time to change it. Latching on to an individual argument in this process is like latching onto a minute by minute trend in the stock market. Smart investors look at longer term trends, and we should evaluate scientific evidence this way.

Alternative solutions (4, Interesting)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 9 years ago | (#10550186)

The problem with some people who worry about global warming is that they have a tendency to say that severely reducing carbon dioxide emissions is the only way to prevent disaster- and while that's a lovely sentiment, it is excessively impractical. But what of alternative solutions [reason.com] to the problem?

A mere 0.5 percent change in Earth's net reflectivity, or albedo, would solve the greenhouse problem completely. ... About 1 percent of the United States is covered by human constructions, mostly paving, suggesting that we may already control enough of the land to get at the job.
It's a whole lot more likely than cutting emissions 30% or more.

Re:Alternative solutions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10551753)

And if changing what reflectivity we can doesn't work enough to directly cool the planet, the reduction in human population due to being blinded by the glare while driving might...

Re:Alternative solutions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10553684)

You are talking pure nonsense. The reflectivity that needs to be changed would be in upper layers of the atmosphere. Changing the ground reflectivity won't do because CO2 will keep that heat in anyway. Basically, the Earth would have to shrink or the atmosphere would have to become shiny.

Re:Alternative solutions (1)

mc6809e (214243) | more than 9 years ago | (#10554499)

You are talking pure nonsense. The reflectivity that needs to be changed would be in upper layers of the atmosphere. Changing the ground reflectivity won't do because CO2 will keep that heat in anyway. Basically, the Earth would have to shrink or the atmosphere would have to become shiny.

You're the one talking nonsense.

CO2 is transparent to visible light. CO2 cannot prevent the reflection of visible light at the surface back out into space.

Re:Alternative solutions (1)

barawn (25691) | more than 9 years ago | (#10559045)

CO2 is transparent to visible light. CO2 cannot prevent the reflection of visible light at the surface back out into space.

You're presuming that visible light incident upon the surface of the Earth produces the Earth's global temperature.

This is demonstrably wrong. In fact, you can relatively easily calculate the Earth's temperature if this were true. It's called the blackbody temperature: here [webref.org] is a description.

Earth's atmosphere is in fact specifically responsible for absorbing a large portion of the reflected light (it scatters visible light quite effectively - hence the reason that the sky is blue. some of that scattered energy goes into the atmosphere as heat). If it wasn't, Earth's temperature would be below freezing. Changing the overall albedo of the Earth may or may not have the intended effect. It's in fact quite complicated, as the atmospheric scattering depends quite strongly on wavelength.

Then the other problem is that if we do do this, and it does work, we've essentially increased the temperature dependence of the atmosphere on the solar input, which means that the time dependence of temperature would go up dramatically.

Re:Alternative solutions (1)

mc6809e (214243) | more than 9 years ago | (#10560728)

You're presuming that visible light incident upon the surface of the Earth produces the Earth's global temperature.

It must. Take a look at the sun's spectrum. Most of the radiation given off by the sun is at wavelengths in the visible part of the spectrum. If this visible light is reflected back into space then it doesn't contribute to warming.

This is demonstrably wrong. In fact, you can relatively easily calculate the Earth's temperature if this were true. It's called the blackbody temperature: here is a description.

Non sequitur.

The fact that Earth isn't a perfect black body does not imply that visible light isn't the source of the Earth's temperature.

Earth's atmosphere is in fact specifically responsible for absorbing a large portion of the reflected light (it scatters visible light quite effectively - hence the reason that the sky is blue.

The fact that the sky doesn't look like one giant bright white fog proves you're wrong. If the atmosphere were a great scatterer of visible light, that's exactly what you'd get.

Now sure, some blue light is scattered and so the sky looks blue. But an atmosphere that scattered all visible light would not look blue, it would look white -- if you could even make out something called "sky". Most likely you'd see nothing but a white fog all around you.

some of that scattered energy goes into the atmosphere as heat). If it wasn't, Earth's temperature would be below freezing.

The Earth isn't below freezing because the atmosphere tends to scatter infrared light - not visible light. And that infrared light comes from those parts of the Earth that first absorb visible light. After emitting that infrared light outward towards space, some of it gets scattered by the atmosphere back towards Earth helping to maintain the temperature.

And that's key to the greenhouse effect: energy is let in via visible light, and kept in by reflecting back IR towards the surface.

Re:Alternative solutions (1)

barawn (25691) | more than 9 years ago | (#10574994)

If the atmosphere were a great scatterer of visible light, that's exactly what you'd get.

No, if the atmosphere were a great wavelength-independent scatterer of visible light, that's what you'd get. As it turns out, the sky is not blue because the sky scatters blue light most effectively - the sky is blue because the Sun is blue. Blue-green, to be specific.

If the Sun was a uniform source of light, the sky would be purple, because the sky scatters purple light most effectively. If the sky scattered light tremendously, it would look white, but that's simply because our eyes have saturation limits. If you did spectroscopy on the sky, it would still be purple.

Rayleigh scattering is strongly dependent upon wavelength. That's why the sky looks blue.

And as for that odd white fog you talk about, there seems to be a ton of it covering me right now. They call them clouds - and they cover 60% of the Earth's surface on average. Which is also another reason why changing the surface albedo doesn't necessarily change the temperature of the planet in the simple way that you might think.

Re:Alternative solutions (1)

mc6809e (214243) | more than 9 years ago | (#10576870)

No, if the atmosphere were a great wavelength-independent scatterer of visible light, that's what you'd get.

Exactly. So how can you claim that it's a great scatterer of visible light when it clearly tends to scatter blue light much more than the other colors that make up the visible spectrum?

As it turns out, the sky is not blue because the sky scatters blue light most effectively - the sky is blue because the Sun is blue. Blue-green, to be specific.

A strictly blue-green sun would not produce red sunsets. No, someone looking at the sun from space would not see blue-green, they would see white.

Sure, a graph of flux versus wavelength will show a peak around the blue-green part of the visible spectrum, but there are plenty of photons emitted at other wavelengths. But these other wavelengths don't get scattered very much by the atmosphere. Therefore the atmosphere is a weak scatterer of visible light, generally.

This is further supported by the fact that, even with the scattering of blue light, we can still see blue objects from fair distances. If the atmosphere scattered light as well as you suggest, we just wouldn't be able to see very far.


Rayleigh scattering is strongly dependent upon wavelength. That's why the sky looks blue.


Wait, I thought you said it was because the sun is blue.

And as for that odd white fog you talk about, there seems to be a ton of it covering me right now. They call them clouds - and they cover 60% of the Earth's surface on average.

The clouds are scattering the light from the sun, and they usually appear white -- not blue-green like your theory would predict.

Re:Alternative solutions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10557965)

You have a point but you neglected several important considerations. .5% of the Earth's surface is 2% of its total land mass.

USA land area- 9,161,923 sq km from http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/ us.html

total world land area- 148,647,000 sq km from http://www.factmonster.com/ipka/A0001763.html

The USA is only one seventeenth of the entire world's land area, and to say that the USA is a representative sample of the entire world's % paved area IMHO is a windly innacurate assumption.

Re:Alternative solutions (1)

barawn (25691) | more than 9 years ago | (#10559267)

The problem with some people who worry about global warming is that they have a tendency to say that severely reducing carbon dioxide emissions is the only way to prevent disaster- and while that's a lovely sentiment, it is excessively impractical.

Fundamentally, humans must cut back severely on carbon dioxide emissions eventually. We're obviously pumping more CO2 into the atmosphere than plants can handle (hence the reason that the CO2 level is going up at all). If we continue at the current rate of emissions, then eventually, the atmosphere will be primarily CO2. Currently it's +1-2ppm/year. In 100,000 years, CO2 would be 10-20% of the Earth's atmosphere, and we would all die.

And this is assuming that the rate of CO2 emissions doesn't increase. It, of course, currently is increasing.

Obviously this won't happen - fossil fuels are the primary culprit, and we don't have enough of them to continue for 100,000 years.

But that just reinforces the point - we have to severely reduce CO2 emissions eventually - either by choice or not. So why not start now? For one thing, it would ensure that fossil fuels (with their conveniently high stored energy density) would be usable for more irreplaceable needs.

Or we could just continue blindly burning fossil fuels until we hit the peak oil consumption, and watch the entire world's economy go haywire.

Study rejected by the science magazine Nature (1, Informative)

kupci (642531) | more than 9 years ago | (#10550244)

Note that Mueller's article was based on a study that was rejected when it was peer-reviewed [davidappell.com]

Re:Study rejected by the science magazine Nature (0, Troll)

Mind-over-matter-mat (822857) | more than 9 years ago | (#10550274)

hahahahhaah, thats hilarious. Although the topic has been very inspiring.

Re:Study rejected by the science magazine Nature (0, Flamebait)

A beautiful mind (821714) | more than 9 years ago | (#10550437)

Although its perfect to fuel the middle-aged corporate reasoning. "Remember kids , no such thing like global warming exists, and who says so is an anti-american fascist traitor and will be burned." Thanks god we live in a civilized age. I just hope my irony won't cover the sun and cause mass extinction...

Re:Study rejected by the science magazine Nature (4, Insightful)

crmartin (98227) | more than 9 years ago | (#10550471)

No, Mueller's article is based on several studies, which includes one short article that was rejected for space reasons, and a previous article (December 2003) that examines McIntyre and McKittrick's original, peer-reviewed and published article. Go read the referenced web sites.

Anyone who has done real science for any length of time knows that the perr-review process is not without flaws. In this particular case, though, McIntyre and McKittrick have identified flaws in the original hockey-stick paper that have already been the subject of a major correction in Nature and have published several peer-reviewed papers on the errors in the original Mann et al paper.

Note also that Mann et al. don't seem to be able to settle on which data series they used, and refuse to make their source data and codes available to other researchers.

It's also interesting that the models of Mann et al. deny the Little Climatic Optimum, which is otherwise awfully well supported, eg, by the historical records of the Vikings in the New World and the rather clear records of conditions in Europe.

As with most things of this sort, you should read the actual sources and draw your own conclusions.

Re:Study rejected by the science magazine Nature (2, Informative)

Paradise Pete (33184) | more than 9 years ago | (#10550957)

Note that Mueller's article was based on a study that was rejected when it was peer-reviewed

Yeah, and you can read all about it here [uoguelph.ca] , including the actual reviewer comments.

So? (3, Insightful)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 9 years ago | (#10550777)


Mathematics aside, it's a bit late to be asking whether global warming is happening or not. The question for us now is whether we can stop the ongoing meltdown. The arctic, Antartica, the Greenland ice sheet, Glacier National Park, the Alps - all melting before our eyes.

Re:So? (1)

MindStalker (22827) | more than 9 years ago | (#10551216)

Of course its happening, but it is still a logic debate upon the causes. Many could argue it would have happend anyways as its simply a natural cycle. I don't know if I agree either way, but acting as if there is no other conclusion is silly.

Re:So? (1)

crmartin (98227) | more than 9 years ago | (#10551478)

The question of whether it's anthropogenic -- that is, caused by humans -- is increasingly looking like it must be answered in the negative, though.

(My favorite recent one is the suggestion that Mars has been experiencing global warming in the recent past too.)

If it's not anthropogenic, there's real reason to question whether we can do anything about it, even neglecting the question of whether we should Björn Lomberg makes a pretty good argument that we'd do a lot more good spending the money it would cost to do Kyoto on clean safe water supplies in Africa and Asia.

Re:So? (1)

haruchai (17472) | more than 9 years ago | (#10554042)

I haven't made up my mind about Lomborg's statistics
but providing safe water supplies to Africa and Asia
won't be as easy as it sounds, especially in Africa.

Political instability and wars there have destroyed repeated attempts to build better infrastructure over several decades.

Also, the cost of doing business in many of those countries is magnified
by who has to be paid off and whether agreements with those in power will be honored
in the long term.
Tens of billions of dollars in aid have been
siphoned off over the years by one dictator or another.

Re:So? (1)

crmartin (98227) | more than 9 years ago | (#10556921)

God knows you're right. (Can you say "Oil for Food"?)

But then the overall cost of Kyoto is amazingly large, and the effects are pretty small too.

But if the anthropogenic model of global warming is wrong then the cost-benefit ratio for Kyoto is infinitely bad: lim n->0 lots of money/n .

Re: So? (1)

Black Parrot (19622) | more than 9 years ago | (#10554947)


> If it's not anthropogenic, there's real reason to question whether we can do anything about it

So what should we do? Shrug our shoulders and watch our garden paradise go to hell in a handbasket while we try to maximize short-term profits?

Re: So? (1)

eglamkowski (631706) | more than 9 years ago | (#10556315)

If a volcano erupted in your backyard, what would you do to try and save your house?

Re: So? (2, Insightful)

crmartin (98227) | more than 9 years ago | (#10557016)

Wow. That's possibly the stupidest comment, with the most logical fallacies per sentence, that I've ever seen on Slashdot.

First off, seeing as we're arguably at the end of an ice age (one of the interpretations of the warming data), the result may well be that we start growing wine grapes in Canada and England -- they didn't call the last stretch like that the "Little Climatic Optimum" for nothing. So we could be heading toward a "garden paradise".

(More like, we're heading for a time in which things Will Be Different From Today. This sort of thing happens, and we'll have to find a way to cope, or die, just like the dinosaurs.)

More to the point though, you didn't read what I said very well: If it's not anthropogenic, its not clear we can do anything about it. The whole Kyoto argument is that we're causing the problem and what we do can fix it. If we're not causing the problem -- it it is, for example, the result of a long term cyclical change in solar output -- then doing things to reduce CO2 output might be very expensive but have no effect.

Re: So? (1)

rewt66 (738525) | more than 9 years ago | (#10568547)

So what should we do? Shrug our shoulders and watch our garden paradise go to hell in a handbasket while we try to maximize short-term profits?

If we are not the cause, we may not be able to be the cure. Destroying our economic (semi)paradise on a fool's quest to "fix" the climate isn't going to help anybody...

Nemesis (4, Interesting)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 9 years ago | (#10551176)

Interesting to see this coming from Rich Muller, who was my favorite prof as an undergraduate at Berkeley. At that time (1983), he was working on an idea that there was a periodicity to mass extinctions caused by comet impacts. He thought the sun might actually be a double star, and its companion might be too dim and far away to have been detected. This star, which he called Nemesis, would come close to the Oort cloud every 30 Myr (?) as it approached the sun in its elliptical orbit, and knock a bunch of comets out of their normal orbits. The whole thing was based on a statistical analysis of the dates of impacts, and the problem was that some impacts were more accurately dated than others, so he threw out the ones with inaccurate dates. Skeptics argued that he had produced the periodicity by throwing out certain data. They searched for the companion star with IR astronomy (?), but never found it. Muller wrote a very entertaining popular science book about the whole thing.

So anyway, one of the biggest episodes in Muller's scientific career was built on a controversial statistical analysis. He dealt with a lot of the same issues he's talking about now with respect to the hockey stick graph: doing Monte Carlo simulations, worrying about biases in the data, etc. Probably a case of once burned, twice wary.

Re:Nemesis (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10553663)

Who would have thought that someone preaching Nemesis ideas would be able to get a position at Berkeley... Only testifies about the quality of education there. Improperly done statistical analysis can prove pretty much anything, and any tools need to be always verified against pure random data (like medicines should be verified with blind tests against placebo effect).

Censorship? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10551339)

This article is no longer appearing on the slashdot home page. Is someone trying to censor this article?

Class with Mann (1)

theapodan (737488) | more than 9 years ago | (#10551740)

I've had a class with Mann for Atmosphere and Weather, and I'm not suprised that there was a computer messup. When I had him, he couldn't even get the overhead projector to work and couldn't get powerpoint to work. However, I'm putting money on some grad student under Mann having made the error. But Mann's name is on the research, so he gets the flak.

My Rich Muller Story... (4, Interesting)

rjh (40933) | more than 9 years ago | (#10552278)

When I was seventeen I read Muller's Nemesis: the Death Star. I suspect that title was foisted on him by his publisher; it's too sensationalistic for Dr. Muller, I think. Anyway, yes, Rich Muller is the guy who came up with the Nemesis hypothesis.

I loved the book. It wasn't a one-sided argument in favor of his theory. Rather, the book was more about the history of his hypothesis rather than "look at me, I'm so cool". (For all that I love Linus Pauling, he did a lot of the latter in his writing.) The book made mention of some experiments which could disprove the Nemesis hypothesis, and I waited for the results of the Hipparcos sat... and didn't hear anything in the media.

So, with the simple wisdom of a seventeen-year-old, I decided to write Rich Muller and ask him the results of Hipparcos. I mentioned how I'd found his book, that I was going to college next year to pursue an engineering degree, the usual stuff a seventeen-year-old talks about.

Three weeks later, I had a two-page letter back from him. He explained the Hipparcos results; he wished me luck in my undergraduate career; and asked me to drop him a line in a couple of years to let him know how my engineering studies were going.

I never got around to responding to Rich, because by the time I got to my undergraduate career I'd become infected with the common wisdom of adults: "of course he's got better things to do than hear from me." When I was seventeen I knew better; when I was twenty, I was an idiot.

Well, now I'm looking at 30 in a couple of months. So. Rich, if you're reading this?

The 17-year-old from the early '90s who wrote you asking about Hipparcos? That's me. I'm now 29 and working towards a Ph.D. in Computer Science. It's been a helluva ride, let me tell you. I'm basically doing applied math, and some of the ways the math gets applied take my breath away.

Thanks for taking me seriously when I was seventeen. Only a couple of people did.

Relation to Aussie politics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10553101)

Are we sure this wasn't just a variation of Paul Keating's economic "J-Curve" in disguise?

This is funny... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10553903)

Even though there is no science, data, and very very few experts who believe that global warming is taking place due to man (or that it is even taking place), so many /.'ers get on here and scream and say it is!

Look, there is no proof of global warming. If you think there is, you don't know what you are talking about. We just don't have the data yet.

And there is even LESS proof that man is causing the climate to change. All of you trying to say otherwise are either just playing politics with the science for your own political agenda, or you are totally uneducated in science.

Science is not based on consensus! It's based on FACTS. And when it goes to global warming, there are NONE.

It's nice to see however that the models (which have been known to have been bad for ages) are finally being shown to be bad to everyone else. People forget that a lot of the lame scientists out there will massage their data to get the results (And fame) that they want.

-Posted anonmously because non-PC posts always get marked as flames or trolls by the /. PC Police!

Re:This is funny... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10554461)

Your post will probably be seen as a troll by a lot of people, but let me just say as a fellow scientist: Amen.

Re:This is funny... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10581922)

And as another fellow scientist, let me say: please don't say things like "as a fellow scientist" ever again.

Unless this is your area of expertise, you are merely one of the laity, and your opinions count for the same as any random person off the street.

I see too much of this claiming authority "as a scientist" when there is no indication of the scientist's field of study. It's annoying.

And, before you ask, I'm a biochemist - so I'm not qualified to comment on whether I think there is anything to global warming or not.

Another interesting co-relation... (1)

Arthur Dent (76567) | more than 9 years ago | (#10554741)

Increase in CO2 actually linked to overfishing [fisherycrisis.com] ?

An increase in atmospheric CO2 is an expected consequence of removal of the marine biota. It is demonstrated that the progressive fishing-induced biomass depletion of the world's ocean is a more plausible explanation for what has triggered the rising CO2 in the atmosphere, than is our more recent history of burning fossil fuels. The time frame of the effect (rising CO2) fits more closely to the proposed cause (fishing). Proof for the long-term trend in biomass depletion is found by examining the contrasting pictures of abundant marine species pre-fishing and the life-depleted status of the world's ocean today. The realization that biomass depletion has "bottom-up" effects as well as "top-down" ones leads to the inevitable conclusion that marine primary productivity is functioning at a significantly lower level now than it did in the past, when the ocean-atmosphere maintained a steady carbon balance.

Oddly enough... (0, Redundant)

slowhand (191637) | more than 9 years ago | (#10556235)

I posted this on Friday Oct 15 when it was "fresh" news.
I, for one welcome our "Slashdot article-rejection Overlords" and thank them for dropping my karma.
============== My submission ====================
Please check this article at MIT Tech Review
http://www.technologyreview.com/articles/0 4/10/wo_ muller101504.asp?trk=nl

It describes a very "interesting" problem with the "hockey stick" global warming plot published by University of Massachusetts geoscientist Michael Mann. The journal "Nature" reviewed a study of the Mann Principal Component Study methodology and software analysis which performed by Steven McIntyre and Ross McKitrick. Nature's referrees were unwilling to undertake the research involved in validating the analysis performed by McIntyre/McKitrick. They chose to publish their research here at
http://www.uoguelph.ca/~rmckitri/research/trc.html .

Actually not... (1)

slowhand (191637) | more than 9 years ago | (#10556941)

...Redundant. The top level post I replied to was redundant. The fact it was rejected and some Mo-Ron expended his mod points without reading says much more:-)

I'm glad they caught the error... (1)

Muad'Dave (255648) | more than 9 years ago | (#10556469)


... but the least they could've done is show us the corrected graph!!!

let me guess (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10557959)


the rebuttal is from an American ? you know the ones with the most to lose (florida exempt)

in other news Nigeria denies human rights abuses and freedom is on the march (just not in guantanamo bay)
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