The Sad Truth About Global Warming

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The Sad Truth About Global Warming

The opinions expressed in this news editorial are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The Escapist.


Global Warming

It's been a week full of promising headlines in the world of science and technology. An Israeli startup showed off a prototype smartphone battery that fully charges in two minutes; Google offered us our best look yet at its Project Ara modular smartphone; Obama wants everyone to have access to cheaper, faster broadband internet. Even Tom Wheeler's hints at new net neutrality policy - while certainly deserving of scrutiny and suspicion - at the very least show that our voices of protest have been heard. But one headline has cast a pall over the good news by calling back to an all-too-familiar topic: global warming.

According to a new MIT study, volcanoes can be cutting the rate at which our planet's average temperature is rising in half. While this may seem counterintuitive at first, since volcanoes release gasses and spew out steaming hot molten rock, some also inject particles high up into the stratosphere. This results in an increase in cloud cover, which causes more of the Sun's light to be bounced back into space rather than absorbed by the Earth's surface, resulting in a cooling effect.

This isn't breaking any new ground. I conducted similar research during my studies; using data from historical and recent volcanic eruptions, I built a model intended to quantitatively predict the global cooling effect of volcanic eruptions - past and future. And while my results concluded that volcanic activity has significant and varied impacts on global temperature, MIT's more in-depth research took things a step further and attributed the post-2000 slowing of the rate of global warming to volcanic activity.

So why did I say this headline has cast a pall? No, it's not because of the overlap with my own research. If there was a new study that should be riling me up, it would be the one that claims that meteorites were byproducts of planetary formation rather than building blocks - a claim that could potentially invalidate my main field of research. No, the reason this headline is of the Debbie Downer variety is because there seems to be no other topic in the realm of science that incites as much negativity as global warming - so much so that even my deliberate usage of the term global warming rather than climate change has upset a number of you reading this.

When science is held hostage to public opinion and politics, we harken back to a dark time in our history - a time of witch trials and geocentric worldviews. Years ago, one of my professors - an accomplished scientist - lamented the climate (ahem) in global warming research. The government's historical attitude toward the matter can be very roughly divided into the pre-Al Gore era of, "Blablabla we can't hear you," and the post-Inconvenient Truth era of, "Okay, we believe you; now fix it!" While the latter may seem like a victory, it was a pyrrhic one - in accepting that climate change was occurring, government funding shifted away from further investigating potential causes and toward finding solutions.

The consequence? My professor, and other similar researchers who wanted to continue investigating climate change in order to see if something other than humanity was the main cause for the recent warming, could no longer find funding. The government had stamped the file "case closed" - which is about the worst thing that can happen in science, a field in which scrutinizing previous knowledge is paramount.

So to continue his research, my professor had to sell his soul to the Devil - or at least, that's what many would say. Who was willing to fund his research? Big Oil, who had a vested interest in disproving anthropogenic climate change. And because Big Oil was funding his research, my professor was demonized by the public and made a pariah in the scientific community - all because he wanted to question the prevailing opinions.

This is the sad truth about global warming: regardless of your stance on the matter, it reveals something terribly ugly about human nature - how quick we are to judge, condemn, vilify, mock, and insult those who don't share our views. Some of the greatest breakthroughs and innovations in human history have come from those who challenge the status quo, yet we continue to vociferously shout down dissenting voices.

Of course, there's a lot more at play in the global warming discussion - politics and capitalism, namely - which leads me to what I find saddest of all: that we need the threat of impending doom as a motivator to pollute less. Whether or not you believe that humanity is the leading cause of global warming, I think we can all agree that being kinder to our environment is in our best interest. But the myopic views of governments and corporations bent on holding power and money care too much for their immediate bottom-line to do the right, forward-thinking thing - they would rather invest in themselves than in humanity. This is the root cause of all the alarmism, all the frustration, the anger, the arguing, the vitriol surrounding global warming. And every time climate change hits the headlines, we are reminded of this sad truth.


Check out last week's science & tech news editorial wrap-up: Why Space Porn Is Important to Science.

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I've said it before and I'll say it again, tribalism is the worst thing to happen in a debate. Being 100% certain on a future event or even a current event is the only wrong stance to take.

Very sad that these findings are warped or misled to accommodate a certain groups' vested interests, sorry about your professor.....

crimson5pheonix:
I've said it before and I'll say it again, tribalism is the worst thing to happen in a debate. Being 100% certain on a future event or even a current event is the only wrong stance to take.

Unfortunately, we are a very tribalistic species which hates any sort of uncertainty, even inventing deities to explain basic physical phenomenon we don't understand.

Welcome to the human condition.

It's nice to see an article by someone who knows what they're talking about. Keep it up.

The ugly truth of human beings is when we develop a vested interest in a particular statement, claim, or idea being true. At that point, we become blind to reality because it becomes necessary that the statement, claim, or idea in question remain true so that we do not feel that we have wasted our investment in it. My guess would be that our fear of death and loss makes us not want to feel that our lives were somehow wasted in a useless, valueless, or meaningless endeavor. So, we cling, blindly, to the error in order to force a sense of meaning or value in the action and shut out all information or indications to the contrary. But, this just seems to be a selfishness or self-centered view in that we can not let go of our own self-important and just accept life and reality for what it is, including our own meager position within the grand scheme of it all. We fail to realize that having such centrality is unnecessary to happiness, that we can just "be", accept the world for what it is, and learn to just move on, despite any losses that may be incurred. That's just life.

As a physics major, I've come to learn that being a scientist means that you have to be ready and prepared to wake-up one morning and discover that everything you thought was true is proven, irrefutably, to be incorrect, and you have to be able to accept the fact and rebuild your entire framework of understanding with the new information. Even further, you have to, in some ways, be looking forward to the day of such an event happening. You may maintain a healthy skepticism to not just immediately accept the contradictory information, but you don't rebel against it once it proves itself. You integrate it as a new understanding of reality and existence, discarding any and all previous contradictory understanding, no matter how vested you may be in it. At least, that's the ideal that I've come to believe for myself.

When science is held hostage to public opinion and politics, we harken back to a dark time in our history - a time of witch trials and geocentric worldviews. Years ago, one of my professors - an accomplished scientist - lamented the climate (ahem) in global warming research. The government's historical attitude toward the matter can be very roughly divided into the pre-Al Gore era of, "Blablabla we can't hear you," and the post-Inconvenient Truth era of, "Okay, we believe you; now fix it!" While the latter may seem like a victory, it was a pyrrhic one - in accepting that climate change was occurring, government funding shifted away from further investigating potential causes and toward finding solutions.

this sounds alarming, you got some more sources to confirm this is the trend right now?

Of course, there's a lot more at play in the global warming discussion - politics and capitalism, namely - which leads me to what I find saddest of all: that we need the threat of impending doom as a motivator to pollute less. Whether or not you believe that humanity is the leading cause of global warming, I think we can all agree that being kinder to our environment is in our best interest. But the myopic views of governments and corporations bent on holding power and money care too much for their immediate bottom-line to do the right, forward-thinking thing - they would rather invest in themselves than in humanity.

i understand what you are saying but heres the thing, life rarely has one correct answer for all your problems, you think as corporations as if they were made entirely of guys in suit holding a cigar in their hands and laughing maniacally each time a tree dies

there are many normals folks like you and me working at corporations and the moment you tell a corporation they must reduce their operations, those are the guys that are getting the boot, its hard to think about building a better world for your grandchildren when you cant even feed your kids right now

and then theres this other problem, many countries in the world, such as mine, depend on Oil exports to survive, Oil, if i recall correctly, represents 90% of our exports, is the one thing that has kept this show running for the last 80 years

now youd be right to assume my country is full of idiots who havent put any effort into doing something besides exporting oil, i wont deny that, but the fact remains, any hit to the oil market affects us and affect every country in a similar situation, is it right to sacrifice the livelihood of millions of people to save the planet? could you tell entire countries they have no right to prosper because the planet demands it?

the global warming issue isnt really that clear cut, its not the greed of old men whats destroying the world, but the desperate attempts to survive of millions of people

As history has shown humanity as the whole will never do anything about a problem until it's so big we can't ignore it anymore and climate change is just another example. Those few who do want to do something right away will never get the support they need and thus never actually fix the problem before that point. Once we DO get together to do something about it we always end up solving the problem pretty damned quickly, but always in ways that result in further problems down the road.

This is the human race in a nutshell and unless we can change the nature of humanity as a whole in the deepest level not just in a superficial manner it always will be.

Rhykker:

When science is held hostage to public opinion and politics, we harken back to a dark time in our history - a time of witch trials and geocentric worldviews. Years ago, one of my professors - an accomplished scientist - lamented the climate (ahem) in global warming research. The government's historical attitude toward the matter can be very roughly divided into the pre-Al Gore era of, "Blablabla we can't hear you," and the post-Inconvenient Truth era of, "Okay, we believe you; now fix it!" While the latter may seem like a victory, it was a pyrrhic one - in accepting that climate change was occurring, government funding shifted away from further investigating potential causes and toward finding solutions.

So? You can't find a solution to a problem without knowing what caused it, so the two end up being the exact same thing in the end.

I think this is another one of those areas of science where "what's in it for us" becomes the first question the public (and by extension the government) ask about it.

Science for the sake of "only" knowledge gets sneered at by people far too often.

Rhykker:

So to continue his research, my professor had to sell his soul to the Devil - or at least, that's what many would say. Who was willing to fund his research? Big Oil, who had a vested interest in disproving anthropogenic climate change. And because Big Oil was funding his research, my professor was demonized by the public and made a pariah in the scientific community - all because he wanted to question the prevailing opinions.

Yeah, I'm not buying that. Was he "demonized" and "made a pariah" because "he wanted to question the prevailing opinions", or because he was willing to accept funding from vested interests who have a proven track record of "paying for results" in order to do so? I'm betting it was the latter.

To illustrate why criticism was entirely justifiable, lets consider Jimmy. Jimmy is a hypothetical scientist who questions the prevailing opinion that smoking is a direct cause of lung cancer. Now, lets say that Jimmy is struggling to find funding for his research, given the reams of evidence which directly support the proposition that he questions - I think it would be perfectly valid to criticise Jimmy in very strong terms indeed if he decided to remedy his funding problems by going on the payroll of the fucking tobacco industry.

Ark of the Covetor:

Rhykker:

So to continue his research, my professor had to sell his soul to the Devil - or at least, that's what many would say. Who was willing to fund his research? Big Oil, who had a vested interest in disproving anthropogenic climate change. And because Big Oil was funding his research, my professor was demonized by the public and made a pariah in the scientific community - all because he wanted to question the prevailing opinions.

Yeah, I'm not buying that. Was he "demonized" and "made a pariah" because "he wanted to question the prevailing opinions", or because he was willing to accept funding from vested interests who have a proven track record of "paying for results" in order to do so? I'm betting it was the latter.

To illustrate why criticism was entirely justifiable, lets consider Jimmy. Jimmy is a hypothetical scientist who questions the prevailing opinion that smoking is a direct cause of lung cancer. Now, lets say that Jimmy is struggling to find funding for his research, given the reams of evidence which directly support the proposition that he questions - I think it would be perfectly valid to criticise Jimmy in very strong terms indeed if he decided to remedy his funding problems by going on the payroll of the fucking tobacco industry.

I don't understand how that's supposed to be any less reasonable than the first one, it still sounds fine to me. He's already trying for a particular result, and that's not exactly unusual in science, what difference will having the only people who will pay him to do what he wants to do be the people paying for it make? Our solution to the problem of biased sciences and biases in science is peer review, not ostracising biased scientists until all of academia consists of about five perfectly rational enlightened beings.

Yeah, I also never completely believed the climate change craze, while parts of it can be true there seems to be a whole lot ignored for the sake of "the greater good" like the tempearature of the planet seems to change periodically and now we get to suppsed "hot" peak, or that the reason why the temperatures recorded are higher because better technology to record them. And if it does get colder then it's only because we did something rather than outside reasons (so whatever happens the preachers are right).

I may be wrong, but I've been accused of being a right wing puppet for doubting a popular theory, that's never a good sign.

Rhykker:
so much so that even my deliberate usage of the term global warming rather than climate change has upset a number of you reading this.

I actually become upset whenever people use the term "climate change" instead of "global warming". Global Warming is the more concise, accurate term as far as I can see; it conveys the idea succinctly, without a lot of room for misinterpretation. The planet is heating up. Why is it heating up? Good, complex question, but there's no real doubt that human activity is a contributing factor. How much is it heating up? Another good question, but I won't open that can of worms in this forum post. Still, the term "Global Warming" succeeds in getting the main point across.

And then there's Climate Change. From an academic point of view it may be a valid term, but for laymen, it is disastrous in its ambiguity. Were there more tornadoes in the Atlantic last year? Climate Change! Are there fewer tornadoes in the Atlantic this year? Climate Change! Is the average surface temperature in the planet going up? Climate Change! Is the average surface temperature going down? Climate Change! Did last year have lower rainfall totals than average? Climate Change! And if this year has greater rainfall totals than average? Climate Change!

Climate Change alarmists can (and do) point to literally any variation in weather patterns as "evidence" that the world is going to end unless we give up all of our decision-making power to their environmentalist gods. It's the term "Climate Change" that upsets me.

Ark of the Covetor:

Rhykker:

So to continue his research, my professor had to sell his soul to the Devil - or at least, that's what many would say. Who was willing to fund his research? Big Oil, who had a vested interest in disproving anthropogenic climate change. And because Big Oil was funding his research, my professor was demonized by the public and made a pariah in the scientific community - all because he wanted to question the prevailing opinions.

Yeah, I'm not buying that. Was he "demonized" and "made a pariah" because "he wanted to question the prevailing opinions", or because he was willing to accept funding from vested interests who have a proven track record of "paying for results" in order to do so? I'm betting it was the latter.

To illustrate why criticism was entirely justifiable, lets consider Jimmy. Jimmy is a hypothetical scientist who questions the prevailing opinion that smoking is a direct cause of lung cancer. Now, lets say that Jimmy is struggling to find funding for his research, given the reams of evidence which directly support the proposition that he questions - I think it would be perfectly valid to criticise Jimmy in very strong terms indeed if he decided to remedy his funding problems by going on the payroll of the fucking tobacco industry.

As long as he follows proper scientific rigor with his studies, it doesn't matter where the funding comes from. Bad rigor shows in a study, as long as the results are peer-reviewed and submitted properly. As it is, most of the current funding for climate change has a vested interest in advancing the political agenda of the National Democratic Part of the U.S. and lining Al Gore's pockets.

If Jimmy, on the payroll from Big Tobacco, performs rigorous scientific trials of the effects of smoked tobacco on human lungs and the results hold up to peer scrutiny of the studies, you are out of line for 'criticizing him in strong terms indeed', because you're being a partisan asshole who puts personal grudges and tribalistic beliefs over scientific methodology and study.

Zato-1:

Rhykker:
so much so that even my deliberate usage of the term global warming rather than climate change has upset a number of you reading this.

I actually become upset whenever people use the term "climate change" instead of "global warming". Global Warming is the more concise, accurate term as far as I can see; it conveys the idea succinctly, without a lot of room for misinterpretation. The planet is heating up. Why is it heating up? Good, complex question, but there's no real doubt that human activity is a contributing factor. How much is it heating up? Another good question, but I won't open that can of worms in this forum post. Still, the term "Global Warming" succeeds in getting the main point across.

And then there's Climate Change. From an academic point of view it may be a valid term, but for laymen, it is disastrous in its ambiguity. Were there more tornadoes in the Atlantic last year? Climate Change! Are there fewer tornadoes in the Atlantic this year? Climate Change! Is the average surface temperature in the planet going up? Climate Change! Is the average surface temperature going down? Climate Change! Did last year have lower rainfall totals than average? Climate Change! And if this year has greater rainfall totals than average? Climate Change!

Climate Change alarmists can (and do) point to literally any variation in weather patterns as "evidence" that the world is going to end unless we give up all of our decision-making power to their environmentalist gods. It's the term "Climate Change" that upsets me.

Climate Change is used because "Global Warming" implies the entire planet is uniformly warming up, and thus areas where the climate is actually changing toward colder temperatures immediately 'invalidates' the claims of Global Warming - "If the world's heating up, why has each year set more record-low temperatures than the last?!"

Ark of the Covetor:

Rhykker:

So to continue his research, my professor had to sell his soul to the Devil - or at least, that's what many would say. Who was willing to fund his research? Big Oil, who had a vested interest in disproving anthropogenic climate change. And because Big Oil was funding his research, my professor was demonized by the public and made a pariah in the scientific community - all because he wanted to question the prevailing opinions.

Yeah, I'm not buying that. Was he "demonized" and "made a pariah" because "he wanted to question the prevailing opinions", or because he was willing to accept funding from vested interests who have a proven track record of "paying for results" in order to do so? I'm betting it was the latter.

To illustrate why criticism was entirely justifiable, lets consider Jimmy. Jimmy is a hypothetical scientist who questions the prevailing opinion that smoking is a direct cause of lung cancer. Now, lets say that Jimmy is struggling to find funding for his research, given the reams of evidence which directly support the proposition that he questions - I think it would be perfectly valid to criticise Jimmy in very strong terms indeed if he decided to remedy his funding problems by going on the payroll of the fucking tobacco industry.

Is that not at least part of why peer-reviewing exists though? To ensure that no matter where the money came from, the science remains sound? Vested interests can try and pay for results all they like, but if their agendas result in a flawed method, the scientific community is going to know it, and they're going to call it out. Beyond that, it's just a question of how much attention the rest of us pay to what's being said.

It also doesn't help that the average temperature has remained more or less stagnant for going on close to two decades and beyond that the temperature rise during the 20th Century was less than 1 degree. Nor does it help that you have news outlets screaming about 2014 being "THE WARMEST YEAR EVAR!!!!!!" when the reality is that it was 0.57C above the long term average, smashing the record of 0.56C set in 2010. If correct, that's a massive increase, 0.01C of warming in just 4 years. If warming continues at this rate, the world could face a catastrophic temperature rise of 0.25C over the course of this century.

I'm in the camp that believes that the whole global warming things is overly exaggerated to insane degrees for political and monetary gains.

Leaving that aside, it always kind of baffles me why the global warming craze seemed to be necessary when there was already a nice big fat list for why we should have been reducing contamination anyway. I've visited Mexico city, I've seen the halo of shit that fills the air when you see the city from afar and I know how much of a kick to the balls it is to the system to the point that it was recommended some days to use masks. And this is without going into the "hey, you just fucked up a whole ecosystem!" aspect of it which you can choke on how many examples of that we have that cause irreversible damage.

I still remember when i was a kid and they always told me before the year 2000 the ice caps would be totally melted.

While the latter may seem like a victory, it was a pyrrhic one - in accepting that climate change was occurring, government funding shifted away from further investigating potential causes and toward finding solutions.

I'm sorry, but what? A pyrrhic victory? Investigating the potential causes of global warming is a good thing generally, but when the choice is between funding that and funding actual solutions to climate change the correct decision is pretty obvious. We should spend our effort on fixing the problem first, rather than just figuring out what to blame.

Lunncal:

While the latter may seem like a victory, it was a pyrrhic one - in accepting that climate change was occurring, government funding shifted away from further investigating potential causes and toward finding solutions.

I'm sorry, but what? A pyrrhic victory? Investigating the potential causes of global warming is a good thing generally, but when the choice is between funding that and funding actual solutions to climate change the correct decision is pretty obvious. We should spend our effort on fixing the problem first, rather than just figuring out what to blame.

If a boat is sinking, do you only bail water, or do you try to find the leak?

The opinions expressed in this news editorial are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The Escapist.

Really? That is real weak sauce. Do you have some right wing overlords, or are you scared FOX News will mock you, or something?

Rhykker:

Lunncal:

While the latter may seem like a victory, it was a pyrrhic one - in accepting that climate change was occurring, government funding shifted away from further investigating potential causes and toward finding solutions.

I'm sorry, but what? A pyrrhic victory? Investigating the potential causes of global warming is a good thing generally, but when the choice is between funding that and funding actual solutions to climate change the correct decision is pretty obvious. We should spend our effort on fixing the problem first, rather than just figuring out what to blame.

If a boat is sinking, do you only bail water, or do you try to find the leak?

More like: if a house is on fire, do you put it out, or argue over who left the oven on?

Global Warming/Climate change/Whatever is happening, and will almost certainly continue to happen whether we know what specific thing(s) caused it or not. Knowing the causes might help, maybe, but more likely it would just show us what we should have done a long time ago to prevent it. Very helpful. Developing a solution on the other hand... Well... Develops a solution.

Rawbeard:

The opinions expressed in this news editorial are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The Escapist.

Really? That is real weak sauce. Do you have some right wing overlords, or are you scared FOX News will mock you, or something?

I don't know the political inclination of my overlords, but this is just a boilerplate disclaimer I put up along with my first such editorial last week on Space Porn. It's not specific to this climate change piece, but rather an indication that this is an editorial on news, rather than straight-up news.

Lunncal:

Rhykker:

Lunncal:

I'm sorry, but what? A pyrrhic victory? Investigating the potential causes of global warming is a good thing generally, but when the choice is between funding that and funding actual solutions to climate change the correct decision is pretty obvious. We should spend our effort on fixing the problem first, rather than just figuring out what to blame.

If a boat is sinking, do you only bail water, or do you try to find the leak?

More like: if a house is on fire, do you put it out, or argue over who left the oven on?

Climate change is happening, and will almost certainly continue to happen whether we know what specific thing(s) caused it or not. Knowing the cause might help, maybe, but more likely it would just show us what we should have done a long time ago to prevent it. Very helpful. Developing a solution on the other hand... Well... Develops a solution.

So I'm not arguing against finding solutions; I'm arguing against giving up the search for the cause. The better analogy here is a patient with an undiagnosed illness. He is exhibiting certain symptoms, and we have an idea of what the disease may be, so sure, let's start looking into treating what we think it may be, but let's keep trying to find out what he has, exactly, to be able to find a better treatment.

Lunncal:

Rhykker:

Lunncal:

I'm sorry, but what? A pyrrhic victory? Investigating the potential causes of global warming is a good thing generally, but when the choice is between funding that and funding actual solutions to climate change the correct decision is pretty obvious. We should spend our effort on fixing the problem first, rather than just figuring out what to blame.

If a boat is sinking, do you only bail water, or do you try to find the leak?

More like: if a house is on fire, do you put it out, or argue over who left the oven on?

Global Warming/Climate change/Whatever is happening, and will almost certainly continue to happen whether we know what specific thing(s) caused it or not. Knowing the causes might help, maybe, but more likely it would just show us what we should have done a long time ago to prevent it. Very helpful. Developing a solution on the other hand... Well... Develops a solution.

And if Global Warming is a natural climate cycle do we prevent it too? I mean, it is also a very possible scenario, the Earth has gone through a few hot/cold cycles since it's inception, by "putting out the fire" without knowing what we are doing, may we not be screwing around with something that would initially be what was "supposed to happen"?.

So the student of a professor who was partially shunned from the scientific community for taking funding from big oil companies writes an article about how there should be way more doubt that humans have anything to do with global warming (instead of 'wasting' valuable funding on finding solutions) and I read the comments and it's full of people saying "Hah, you're right, I knew I should never take that climate change rubbish seriously" and then quoting a lot of incorrect and scientifically disproven facts.

I don't actually doubt that the article was written with good intention, but it had exactly the effect I feared it would have.

EDIT: Also if the author, disapproves of my criticism of his background, please consider for a moment that it would be superhuman of someone not to take onboard some of the views of the people who helped teach them, and this is true of anyone in any profession. If you talk to someone who is friends with a policemen, they'll provide a compelling argument for cutting bureaucracy and extending police powers. If you talk to the friend of a humans right lawyer they'll provide a compelling argument for the opposite.

It is entirely possible that your professor is being genuinely discriminated against and that funding has moved on far too quickly. But that is also the side of the story you would know even if it weren't true. That's the power and importance of scientific consensus, even if consensus can also be a hindrance. One person's opinion piece is both authoritative and entirely dangerous to believe.

Super Not Cosmo:
It also doesn't help that the average temperature has remained more or less stagnant for going on close to two decades...

It really hasn't. You can basically replace any claim of a pause with "hey, 1998 was weirdly hot". Somehow, that single outlier has led even people who ought to know better to ignore the obvious trend. People like to talk about records, but records are very poor signifiers of chaotic data.

Super Not Cosmo:
...less than 1 degree.

Small numbers add up over long periods of time.

Rhykker:
The better analogy here is a patient with an undiagnosed illness.

No. A diagnosed illness, concurred with a second opinion, and indeed a thousandth one.

NuclearKangaroo:
...many countries in the world, such as mine, depend on Oil exports to survive...

With that attitude, you're doomed regardless. It's merely a question of time. (I guess we're all doomed in the long run, but I mean decades or at most centuries, not millions or billions of years.) The oil will run out. How well are you investing this resource windfall? How well are you conserving it? What will you do when it's gone?

And what right do you have, in turn, to squash the livelihoods of people working towards renewable energy sources? Are they somehow less worthy of what you call "surviving"?

I believe that focusing more on renewable energy sources would be a net positive for the world economy as a whole, and by a rather large margin. Certainly there will be losers, but there will also be winners, and more of them. But of course those countries, corporations, and even individuals who depend on the current scheme are opposed to anything that threatens their livelihood. That doesn't mean they couldn't do something else. The truth is that they're uniquely positioned to actually do so - but instead of investing in the future, they invest in misinformation.

Rhykker:

Lunncal:

Rhykker:
If a boat is sinking, do you only bail water, or do you try to find the leak?

More like: if a house is on fire, do you put it out, or argue over who left the oven on?

Climate change is happening, and will almost certainly continue to happen whether we know what specific thing(s) caused it or not. Knowing the cause might help, maybe, but more likely it would just show us what we should have done a long time ago to prevent it. Very helpful. Developing a solution on the other hand... Well... Develops a solution.

So I'm not arguing against finding solutions; I'm arguing against giving up the search for the cause. The better analogy here is a patient with an undiagnosed illness. He is exhibiting certain symptoms, and we have an idea of what the disease may be, so sure, let's start looking into treating what we think it may be, but let's keep trying to find out what he has, exactly, to be able to find a better treatment.

In this case however the "certain symptoms" that are being exhibited are going to kill the man regardless of what specifically caused them, so we should keep using the few doctors (or limited funds) we have available to fix his crashing life signs first, and then we can find out what he has exactly, and figure out a better treatment.

The problem is that there's only a limited amount of resources people can or will devote to this. The search for the cause is a good thing to fund, sure, and it will still be a good thing to fund after we've figured out how to deal with global warming for now, which is where we really the need the funding and as soon as possible in order to minimise the damage that will be done.

Razhem:
And if Global Warming is a natural climate cycle do we prevent it too? I mean, it is also a very possible scenario, the Earth has gone through a few hot/cold cycles since it's inception, by "putting out the fire" without knowing what we are doing, may we not be screwing around with something that would initially be what was "supposed to happen"?.

I don't see why that's a problem. If what is supposed to happen is bad then we change it, that's pretty much the main purpose of many of the advancements and innovations humankind has made throughout its history. Agriculture allows us to provide far more food than we are "supposed" to, vehicles allow us to travel further than we were ever "supposed" to, medicine allows people who were "supposed" to die to live.

Perhaps human beings never were supposed to change things, but if that's the case that ship has sailed long ago, and it's pointless worrying about it now. Any attempts we make to "put out the fire" may very well screw us all over, but then failing to attempt to put it out at all can screw us just as bad. Nature is heartless and random, if I've a choice in the matter I'd rather leave my fate to people and the solutions they come up with, imperfect though they may often be.

I walked in skeptical on what this article was going to be talking about, only to find this article says the same thing I have been feeling for a while now. I love science, but it is also practiced by humans, so it contains those same inherent flaws. Part of any science always going to be science by social structure. From Evolution to N-Rays to Special Relativity, people build their whole careers on something and it becomes an immutable fact to them, when the real crime is people have a hard time admitting they don't know something.

I agree 100%. Ultimately, no matter what anyone wants to think, climate change is a real thing. Anyone who is unwilling to deny that is just blind. But it's also just as blinding to settle on it as a matter of fact and not even bother investigating the hows and whys of it. If we don't know why, then we can't change things to positively affect it or even find meaningful ways to counteract it. It now becomes science by policy, which doesn't benefit as much as it claims to.

Pyrian:

Super Not Cosmo:
It also doesn't help that the average temperature has remained more or less stagnant for going on close to two decades...

It really hasn't. You can basically replace any claim of a pause with "hey, 1998 was weirdly hot". Somehow, that single outlier has led even people who ought to know better to ignore the obvious trend. People like to talk about records, but records are very poor signifiers of chaotic data.

Super Not Cosmo:
...less than 1 degree.

Small numbers add up over long periods of time.

Even if you throw the records out the window the actual temperatures are still coming in way under what the various IPCC models predicted. Below is a graph that shows in turquoise what the various models predicted temperatures to be versus what RSS satellites report them actually being. The fact is that these models grossly overshot. When you couple this with idiots like Al Gore claiming many moons ago that the ice caps would be totally gone at this point in time it's all a bunch of doom and gloom that doesn't match up with the reality of things.

image

Super Not Cosmo:

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Erm that graph still shows a rise in temperature. The thing is, it's very difficult to predict the weather more than a couple of weeks out, predicting global temperature changes are even harder to predict over years. There's so many things that can affect it, be it weather patterns, volcanic eruptions, algae blooms, or even solar activity. But be sure, just as your graph shows the temperature is increasing and will spell out disaster if left unchecked.

Also these graphs are probably better at showing the extent of climate change, and how it all kind of conveniently started around the industrial revolution.

image
image
image
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Regardless of one's stance towards global warming/climate change, I think everyone can agree that something is fucked up with regards to nature and the weather. Storms are growing in size and intensity, amphibians are disappearing, coral reefs are dying, etc. Hell, I see the effects in my hometown. We used to have lots of toads this time of year, but with a long string of dought years and increased use of pesticides they're practically nonexistent now. I miss those cute lil' buggers :(

Rawbeard:

The opinions expressed in this news editorial are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The Escapist.

Really? That is real weak sauce. Do you have some right wing overlords, or are you scared FOX News will mock you, or something?

It's an opinion piece, having such a disclaimer is par for the course. Journalistic integrity and all that.

flarty:
image

Frankly, i wonder why nobody seems to acknowledge that the human popuation is the root cause of everything.

If there were less humans around, there simply wouldnt be a need to produce so much to support them.

Probably going to get some flak for that statement. Wouldnt be the first time and i look forward to adding some names to the ignore list.

flarty:
snip

Those charts are all well and good but ultimately they are still only talking about a tenth or two of a degree. Also, as I said in my first post satellite data shows that there hasn't been any warming in close to two decades. Beyond that though the "hockey stick" graph has been pretty well debunked multiple times over and Michael Mann is a hack in every sense of the word who fought for years to keep key pieces of information from being released.

Lunncal:

While the latter may seem like a victory, it was a pyrrhic one - in accepting that climate change was occurring, government funding shifted away from further investigating potential causes and toward finding solutions.

I'm sorry, but what? A pyrrhic victory? Investigating the potential causes of global warming is a good thing generally, but when the choice is between funding that and funding actual solutions to climate change the correct decision is pretty obvious. We should spend our effort on fixing the problem first, rather than just figuring out what to blame.

You missed the point completely. We are attempting to find a solution for a problem we don't fully understand. We do not know the cause of the problem, we have only theories. Money is therefore being dumped into things which may - and most likely will not - fix the problem.
Furthermore, climate change is a thing that has existed from the beginning of Earth's history. While it's not unbelievable for human pollution to be having an effect on that, it's an inarguable truth to anyone who's studied the history of the planet that there is, ultimately, little we can do to control the climate. It will change regardless of what we do based on a variety of factors beyond our control, many of which are probably still unknown to us.
And, as the article points out, it bogs down legitimate discussions of how to deal with pollution, a thing which has negative effects on the world even disregarding climate change as an issue. Science is bogged down by politics, preventing advancement. This is the point of the article.
This has been the reactionary history of environmental politics for damn near 80 years now. Look at the history of Yellowstone. It's one disaster after another because people saw what they thought was a problem and said, "Fix it! We don't have time to study it and find out what's going on, just fix it! Here's lots of money!" instead of finding out exactly what's going on first. Billions of dollars over the years have been wasted funding environmental policies that either don't accomplish anything, or are outright counterproductive to their intent because we didn't stop to figure out what's going on. And despite this having gone on before the first world war, we're still making the mistake of not looking before we leap when it comes to environmental policies.

Rhykker:

Of course, there's a lot more at play in the global warming discussion - politics and capitalism, namely - which leads me to what I find saddest of all: that we need the threat of impending doom as a motivator to pollute less. Whether or not you believe that humanity is the leading cause of global warming, I think we can all agree that being kinder to our environment is in our best interest. But the myopic views of governments and corporations bent on holding power and money care too much for their immediate bottom-line to do the right, forward-thinking thing - they would rather invest in themselves than in humanity. This is the root cause of all the alarmism, all the frustration, the anger, the arguing, the vitriol surrounding global warming. And every time climate change hits the headlines, we are reminded of this sad truth.

I was totally on board with this article until this paragraph. Really disappointing to see what was up to that point a decent opinion piece suddenly devolve into "It's all the fault of evil governments and corporations. Capitalism is bad!" This is just pandering to everyone who wants to point their finger and assign blame while accepting no personal responsibility.

Frustratingly, the author comes very close to identifying the actual root cause of the problem earlier in the article when he writes:

Rhykker:
This is the sad truth about global warming: regardless of your stance on the matter, it reveals something terribly ugly about human nature - how quick we are to judge, condemn, vilify, mock, and insult those who don't share our views. Some of the greatest breakthroughs and innovations in human history have come from those who challenge the status quo, yet we continue to vociferously shout down dissenting voices.

It isn't governments or corporations that are the problem here, it's us. As a species we have strained to develop ways to enhance our standard of living, have raised that standard by consuming resources without consideration for the consequences and now we aren't prepared to give up that status quo.

We could have a green society. We could generate all our electricity with solar, wind and hyro. We could cut our consumption of resources. We could even, over time, replant the damned rain forests. But here's the rub: we arent willing to pay for it. We aren't prepared to shoulder the higher energy prices or reduce our useage, we aren't prepared to go without things we want and we aren't prepared to repair and re-use, preferring instead to replace.

There are many problems with governments, but they are nothing if not populist, and if we demanded investment in green energy, and were willing to pay for it (either through tax or higher bills), governments would fall over themselves to make it happen.

People like to take shots at oil companies. The truth? If you don't buy it they won't pump it. If people want to reduce oil consumption then they should commute to work on public transport, walk the kids to school and think twice before buying plastic products.

Bemoan the "soulless consumerism" of our capitalist society? Next time you have a hole in your sock, darn it instead of throwing it away and buying a new pair.

The real inconvenient truth is that we are the problem. People create the pressures which governments capitulate to. People create the demand that corporates earn profit by satisfying. We are not helpless cattle being led by our noses against our will into some apocalypse, we are in the driving seat, with our eyes closed and our fingers in our ears desperately crying that we are about to crash and that it is anyone's fault but our own.

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