Global warming a hoax no longer

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 12:44 PM GMT on May 05, 2006

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Are the climate models that form the foundation of greenhouse warming predictions fundamentally flawed? That has been the argument of some scientists and "greenhouse skeptics" over the past few decades. The main issue has been the inability of the climate models to reproduce the relatively low amount of warming observed by satellites and weather balloon instruments in the troposphere (the lower portion of the atmosphere that extends up to elevations of about 40,000 feet.) This discrepancy was a prime argument Senator James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) used in his famed 2003 speech when he referred to the threat of catastrophic global warming as the "greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people." Greenhouse skeptic S. Fred Singer, who has probably more Congressional testimony about global warming under his belt than any other scientist, headlines his website with the quote, "Computer models forecast rapidly rising global temperatures, but data from weather satellites and balloon instruments show no warming whatsoever. Nevertheless, these same unreliable computer models underpin the Global Climate Treaty." Michael Crichton also used the tropospheric warming discrepancy to give climate models a bad rap in his State of Fear novel. (Incredibily, Crichton--a science fiction writer--was summoned by Sen. Inhofe in September of 2005 to testify before Congress on the issue of climate change.) However, the arguments of these global warming skeptics were dealt a major blow with the issuance this week of a press release by NOAA's Climate Change Science Program refuting their main argument.



The Climate Change Science Program study, which was commissioned by the Bush Administration in 2002 to help answer unresolved questions on climate, found that it was the measurements, not the models, that were in error. Their report, issued on Wednesday, stated, "there is no longer a discrepancy in the rate of global average temperature increase for the surface compared with higher levels in the atmosphere." They cautioned, however, that discrepancies still existed in some regions, particularly the tropics. Greenhouse skeptics will undoubtedly point to this smaller remaining discrepancy as evidence that climate models cannot be trusted, but the authors of the report thought it more likely that the measurements were flawed. Chief Editor Dr. Thomas Karl, director of NOAA's National Climatic Data Center, concluded in the report: "Discrepancies between the data sets and the models have been reduced and our understanding of observed climate changes and their causes have increased. The evidence continues to support a substantial human impact on global temperature increases."

The satellite measurements that were found to be in error were taken beginning in 1978 by Microwave Sounding Units (MSU) operating on NOAA polar-orbiting satellites. According to a description of the MSU data available on the web site where the data is archived,

"The instruments in the MSU series were intended for day to day operational use in weather forecasting and thus are not calibrated to the precision needed for climate studies. A climate quality dataset can be extracted from their measurements only by careful intercalibration of the nine distinct MSU instruments."

Dr. John Christy of the University of Alabama, Huntsville, made a series of efforts to perform the careful intercalibration needed beginning in the 1990s, and for over a decade successfully defended his conclusion that the MSU instruments were showing a much lower level of tropospheric warming than what climate models predicted. Christy was probably the most quoted scientist by the "greenhouse skeptics" during that period, and testified numerous times before Congress about his findings. However, a series of papers published in 2004 and 2005 showed that the satellite intercalibration methods used by Christy were incorrect, and Christy publicly credited the authors of the new studies with finding a real source of error. Christy is also one of the co-authors on the Climate Change Science Program study.

So can we trust the climate models now? That will remain a matter of debate, but now we know that these models have successfully performed at least one major prediction that their detractors thought was wrong. With the climate models validated by the collapse of the greenhouse skeptics' main argument against them, it is apparent that their predictions of possible catastrophic climate change are no hoax and need to be taken seriously.

For further reading: The Economist printed a easy to understand article in August 2005 summarizing the new research exposing the satellite and weather balloon measurement errors, and realclimate.org has a more technical discussion.

I'll be back next week to talk about the demise of La Nina, and other factors that may affect the coming hurricane season.

Jeff Masters

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117. kerneld
10:54 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
Here are Transcript and mp3/... links to a radio show on Australia's ABC Radio National show on sustainable energy in Australia which I found very interesting. Radio National has some great podcasts.
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116. ForecasterColby
10:44 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
On the Mars-Earth correlation -> Mars, Earth, and Jupiter have all been undergoing significant climate change recently. Since rapid climate change clearly does occur without human intervention (since I assume we're not intervening on Mars/Jupiter), we can therefore not make the assumption that the current trends are human-caused.

Pesticides -> Only a few atoms away from nerve gases? I visited a strawberry field near my home a year or so ago, and they went though what they do before growing the things. It's stunning - they pump CYANIDE through the soil. Cyanide! Which, by the way, leaves traces in the soil during the growing season. Yum, yum.

Babelfish translation of the Dutch page:

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115. RL3AO
5:49 PM CDT on May 05, 2006


Invest 91W is looking a little better today.
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114. pt100
12:32 AM CEST op 06 Mei, 2006
On the astma subject, I found a dutch research been done from 1992 - 1995 under approx. 500 kids, with or without the illness.
Higher airpollution (small particles) had an increase of complaints from 32 - 139%, Higher SO2 and NO2 gave an increase of 16 - 131% of the symptoms. (Can't find the data)
There was no difference in residential areas or in the country
I wont link because you cant figure out what it says.....
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113. pt100
12:17 AM CEST op 06 Mei, 2006
hmm, the link is to the main page, this 1 should work
Link
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111. StormJunkie
10:04 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
How am I suppose to read that pt?
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110. pt100
11:54 PM CEST op 05 Mei, 2006
What to think of this?
In a scientific breakthrough that has stunned the world, a team of South African scientists has developed a revolutionary new, highly efficient solar power technology that will enable homes to obtain all their electricity from the sun.

This means high electricity bills and frequent power failures could soon be a thing of the past.

The unique South African-developed solar panels will make it possible for houses to become completely self-sufficient for energy supplies.

The panels are able to generate enough energy to run stoves, geysers, lights, TVs, fridges, computers - in short all the mod-cons of the
modern house.
new solarpanels
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109. pt100
11:46 PM CEST op 05 Mei, 2006
NO2 global

and here is the rest of our blue planet
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108. StormJunkie
9:40 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
Alright, I am going to work on my site for awhile. Ya'll please check it out and leave any feed back you have in my blog.

See ya
Stormjunkie.com
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 16874
107. StormJunkie
9:32 PM GMT on May 05, 2006


lmao cyclone, don't know about you and the carbon nano tubes, but the truth is we all contribute to the problem if not through action then through inaction.
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 16874
105. pt100
11:26 PM CEST op 05 Mei, 2006
NO2 Europe

If you like NO2, come to my place, I live in the red zone..
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104. StormJunkie
9:17 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
I agree that the amount of night lighting that is used is overduing it quite a bit, but the problem should not be looked at as how do we use less energy, but how we get our energy and how efficiently we can use it. We will need our energy especially if the earth is going to continue warming.

SJ
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 16874
103. HAARP
9:09 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
I love the dark too... My whole neighborhood has a mandate that no outside lights can remain on after midnight...and we are trying to get the tollway authority to turn theres off too ... or at least even 1/2 of them off... NOBODY needs that many lights to drive...

thankfully they are 2 miles away... all our local buisnesses have also joined us to take back the night...

slowely people are coming around...

Im glad I blogged with yall today...see ya around soon...
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102. rwdobson
9:03 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
Most EPA/state monitoring focuses on the 6 major pollutants. Particulates (total PM, not breaking it down by species), NOx, SOx, Ozone, Lead, and carbon monoxide. Total PM in the atmosphere has declined. The barium and other toxics, well, there used to be even more.
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101. Skyepony (Mod)
8:56 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
LOL~ rwdobson~ i thought i lived here:)

I think many must feel better having little lights on stuff to give them a homming beakon in the dark, just as many are comforted with exterior lighting. It's always erked me as a lover of the dark. You will find no flood lights at my place.

Mysticdog~ nice post on mars, the little details & #'s that slipped my mind
bbl
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100. bekroweather
8:55 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
I would expect from people who like to call themselves conservatives (e.g. the Republican party?), to take a more conservative/safe approach when dealing with an important problem:

Ok, there MIGHT be global warming induced by human activity. We are not certain but there are some (if not the majority of) scientistis who think so.

What is the caucious, conservative thing to do?
A. Keep polluting at the same rate.
B. Let the industry regulate itself.
C. Promote cleaner technologies and set stricter limits to the polluting industries.
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99. HAARP
8:46 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
oh I understand what causes asthma... and I do understand about indoor air quality and take as many staeps as possible to protect him from particulates and "bad air"...we have no carpeting in our house too...


But I do not trust the epa in there measurements and they dont measure for all particulates...I was part of an independant test of the air quality in our local area run by some university scientists that basically could not beleive there results on certain days...the barium and other toxic chemicals that were absent from epa reports were there in high quantities...
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98. bekroweather
8:51 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
rwdobson... you might have to talk about this with your psychologist...

Just kidding. This amount of power over a year is mostly comparable to 5 minutes of regular operation by the device.
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97. Pecos1680
8:42 PM GMT on May 05, 2006

The source of heat for both Mars and the Earth is the sun. The same sun. If Mars and the Earth are both losing polar ice (and they are), and if solar activity data shows that the sun has been more active in the last 40 years than at any other time in recorded history (and it is), then I would certainly think that this would be an enormously interesting correlation.
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96. rwdobson
8:50 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
"funny how we can be on the same page, just fighting over the reason we got there"...

welcome to the blogosphere!
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95. rwdobson
8:47 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
What drives me batty is how many electronics keep a light on even when the power is off. it may not add up to much power, but still, WHY? why does the power switch on my monitor at home blink when the CPU is off? why does the PS2 have to have a red light indicating the power is off all the time? DVD player has the same thing.
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94. Skyepony (Mod)
8:28 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
HAARP ~maybe you use the word maybe cause you haven't studied the matter. The magnetic field of the earth switches from time to time (we are overdue), comparing the temps through ice cores & what not with the shifts has yeilded no corrilation with tempature rises.

Clean energy sources certainly help reduce air pollution, funny how we can be on the same page, just fighting over the reason we got there. I understand all too well about asthma (sister & it never went away), sorry this disease has struck your own. The trashing of our enviroment to near no end, over money, needs to end.
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93. HAARP
8:28 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
W/E in regards to energy usage...I could care less which country does what should have been my statement... as a whole we all need to do our part and I for one am happy about fuel costs and energy costs...maybe people will use there brains more in regards to usage...

Im going to find a article I read awhile ago about how much energy we spend on lighting every year as a nation ... it was like 30% of our energy costs for our government ... just look up at the night sky...its so bright its crazy...we have street lights every 20' everyone has lights on in buildings when they are not even occupied...parking lots all have a ton of lights on even after nobody is around...all a big waste... please tell me why we need lights on roads? dont we have headlights????

I think I have just flip-flopped
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92. bekroweather
8:25 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
The latest monthly forecast for this hurricane season by the University College in London is out:

May 5th Forecast

They forecast 14.6 tropical storms and 7.9 hurricanes which is slightly lower than their April forecast (15.4 and 8.2) due to the demise of La Nina and the warmer than expected SSTs in the Pacific.
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91. rwdobson
8:39 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
mytsic, good point on the indoor air. not only does carpet trap allergens, it (and its adhesives) also emit volatile organic chemicals that can be irritants. overall, indoor air quality is much worse than outdoor air quality.
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90. Mysticdog
8:30 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
"you should hear my son weeze from his asthma...it will break your heart dude to hear a 4 yr old have trouble breathing ..."

chemicals in the food dick with the immune system (and everything else). Most pesticides differ from human hormones only superficially, and some are a couple atoms away from some nerve gasses. Indoor carpeting holds allergens in a home in far greater concentration than the outdoors except right when a particular allergen is blooming, and keeps exposure up year round.

Particulate levels have fallen, smog levels have fallen, and the air is cleaner. Outside.
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89. rwdobson
8:33 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
Air quality trend data from EPA.

Link
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88. hurricanechaser
8:07 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
Hey everyone,

I have to go so I will keep this simple.:)

The computer models are only as good as the data put into them.

Since the atmosphere is so inherently complex and our true understanding of it, while improving, is still far from adequate to even guarantee an accurate forecast for a small region of our Country more than a week out, much less for a century in advance for the entire globe.

Moreover, we have a very short record of data that in itself cannot be ensured to be without discrepancies (i.e. weather stations being moved and the results thereof) when using such measurements for comparative purposes.

Consequently, these limitations will most certainly ensure that this debate will not come close to being decided in any conclusive way in any one of our lifetimes.

Therefore, there will continue to be plenty of speculative arguments made on both sides of this controversial issue.

However, that doesn't mean that political expediency will not define the answer for us despite the aforementioned facts.

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87. rwdobson
8:28 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
HAARP: I'm sorry your son has asthma, but that does not change the fact that the air quality in this country has improved. There's still room for improvement, but the fact is, the air is better now than it was when I was growing up in the early 70s.
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86. Mysticdog
8:22 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
Yes, China is way behind on technology. But again, the point is that you can't hold a country back in the pre industrial period while western nations flaunt their energy excesses.

China does not value the life of its people as highly, and its people are more willing to take risks with their lives. All chinese industry is less safe than western equivalents, largely because it is so far behind technologically, and there is a lot of money to be made not improving their job safety. China is like the US 120 years ago, with noticeable exceptions in very large cities and where they put the resources into high technology, like making computer parts.

None of this changes that China, India, and the rest of the preindustrial world cannot be held back while the west burns all of the world's energy in happy, piggish selfishness. Kyoto recognized that, whether you want to or not.
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85. pt100
10:25 PM CEST op 05 Mei, 2006
one solution can be to produce fuels from natural sources like seeds. Its a hot topic here because some people run their dieselcars on homemade fuel..but its banned!!! The exxons and shells dont earn on it so you know what happens..
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84. rwdobson
8:18 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
HAARP:of course america has the highest energy PER CAPITA... we are a nation of wealth and 99% of our population is living in housing...unlike every other country in the world...

sorry, but this is simply not true. lots of developed nations (whose people live indoors)use less energy than we do. Take this statement from the US Dept of Energy comparing energy use among the G-7 nations (US, Canada, France, Germany, UK, Italy, and Japan): "In 2001, the United States and Canada consumed 342 million Btu’s per person and 403 million Btu’s per person, respectively. No other G-7 member’s per capita consumption exceeded 200 million Btu’s in that year."


Souce
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83. HAARP
8:18 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
storm junkie..

."We should have rethought our use of energy t he moment, 20+ years ago, when we realiazed that it was dirty and the people we get most of it from want to kill us.

amen

sky

". This friction can be seen in how the earth's magnetic field has trailed the earth farther & farther on the back side as the magnetic force has weakend. That magnetic field & atmosphere buffer us from more than the suns burning rays."

maybe the weakening of the magnetic field is also a cause of the warming too


Dobs...

" However, air quality has improved dramatically in the last 30 years"

well instances of chronic lung ailments such as asthma,emphysema, bronchitis has grown 100 fold in the last 30 years too...a clear indication that the air is horrible...

you should hear my son weeze from his asthma...it will break your heart dude to hear a 4 yr old have trouble breathing ...

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82. Mysticdog
8:05 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
"Mars' orbit is significantly elliptical. One result of this is a temperature variation of about 30 C at the subsolar point between aphelion and perihelion. This has a major influence on Mars' climate. While the average temperature on Mars is about 218 K (-55 C, -67 F), Martian surface temperatures range widely from as little as 140 K (-133 C, -207 F) at the winter pole to almost 300 K (27 C, 80 F) on the day side during summer. "

It also has a 687 day year, a 25 degree tilt, and a surface atmospheric pressure of 0.007 bar.

I know people like to speculate on why mars is so different, but its really not that hard. Its a lot smaller. It is further from the sun. It lost its heat more rapidly, resulting in its crust cooling to a much greater depth. If it has a molten center at all any more it is too small to generate a magnetic field to protect its atmosphere, which it holds onto much more weakly than larger Earth and Venus do. Consquently, the solar wind is more capable of stripping off that atmosphere over the billions of years its been in existence. CO2 is primarily left, because it is much heavier than oxygen and nitrogen, while still lighter and with a higher boiling point than sulfur oxides so it stays in gaseous form in the very cold martian environment.

The water all sank into the 80+ mile thick crust. On earth, the lighter water floats on the hot molten rock and gets pushed back out through hotspots in the ocean (and in a few places on land). On mars, it just fills in the cold fractures in the crust and gets covered by the blowing sand.

Mars is nothing like earth. Let it go.
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81. Cregnebaa
3:15 PM EST on May 05, 2006
Actually most developed countries have 99% of our population is living in housing (ie UK, Germany, etc) and the US isn't the richest country per capita either.

Agree on the politian front though, gos ith the power.
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80. Skyepony (Mod)
8:17 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
Last weekend we converted the Barn to 100% solar power. If only it was that easy to get the house of the grid. I'm tired of being herded toward oil.
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79. kerneld
8:17 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
Chinese mining disasters
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78. rwdobson
8:03 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
HAARP:Of all the problems with this world global warming is minor...I would say we need to focus on air quality or we will choke ourselves to death soon....very similar issue but never talked about...

Haarp, I agree at some level. Bad air is a much more immediate problem. However, air quality has improved dramatically in the last 30 years. I mean, looking back, I can't believe we used to let cars have leaded gasoline...think of all the lead people got exposed to. It's been (relatively) easy to reduce the amount of most pollutants that a car emits...but we can't really scrub the CO2 out of the exhaust.

An interesting note is that hydrogen, as an auto fuel, would help tremendously with air quality, but wouldn't help at all with global warming...unless we stop using coal or natural gas to generate the H.
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77. Skyepony (Mod)
8:08 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
The fact that Mars is so simlified is my problem. Without that atmosphere it feels the effects of space storms on a much greater level & the friction of being hurdled through space is also greatly amplified there as compared to here. This friction can be seen in how the earth's magnetic field has trailed the earth farther & farther on the back side as the magnetic force has weakend. That magnetic field & atmosphere buffer us from more than the suns burning rays.

HAARP~ don't twist things yourself, notice on the bottom of the graph the rate of scientific understanding (well in 2001)

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76. kerneld
8:08 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
Mysticdog,
Most of Chinas energy comes from Coal I think, and not especially clean coal at that. They also have many many mining accidents that would make the ones that make the news in the US look like car accidents in the parking lot. They have rapidly increasing energy demands, and the new power production they are bringing online is not really any more efficient than their current systems. It is a very big problem, you can be sure of that.
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75. HAARP
8:05 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
lobby your congressman to subsidize solar energy for individual homes...

STOP WITH THE PER CAPITA energy cost figures people...

of course america has the highest energy PER CAPITA... we are a nation of wealth and 99% of our population is living in housing...unlike every other country in the world...

I try my best as an individual to use as little energy as possible...my home is heated and cooled geo-thermally ... cost me alot of money to do it and glad we did...because I get to laugh at my neighbors 400 gas bills and 300 electric bills...

I Also think its really funny that Gore gets out of office and then screams that Bush is the problem...huh...maybe he should have did something when he had power huh...oh no wait ... this isnt all political is it...I hate politics...every po;itician is a crook all over this world...
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74. pt100
10:04 PM CEST op 05 Mei, 2006
In one way I agree with you atmos, I live in a moderate seaclimat, Ive always said that my country ( the Netherlands) should have been where France is, 600 km to the south, giving us much warmer winters and sunny summers. Well this happens now on this spot. The last 20 years I can say that we hardly skate anymore in the winter beause of the lack of ice and that we've had record braking summers.
The thing is that, due to higher (global)temperatures, the seelevel is rising and im living under it.... Like you americans we can feel the threat comming nearer and nearer.
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73. StormJunkie
8:03 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
We should have rethought our use of energy t he moment, 20+ years ago, when we realiazed that it was dirty and the people we get most of it from want to kill us.

The titanic analogy still holds strong. It is not really about slowing down, but more where our priorities lay. For me, that would be the continued long term existance of our race. Which takes a whole hearted investment in research from all nations.
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 16874
72. Cregnebaa
2:59 PM EST on May 05, 2006
If you must know I jog to work and never use my heating (living on a small isalnd in the tropics helps in both ways).

I agree there are other issues that need to be raised, especially the mass extinctions that are seem to be occuring at this time, which will all be coming back to climate warming (human induced or not), pollution and habitat distruction.

There is evidnce both temperature and CO2 have been a lot higher than todays levels, it is the speed of this change in very recent times that is the worry.
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71. Mysticdog
7:54 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
"Do the people that hate america for not signing the kyoto protocal also dispise china with the same ferver"

China is still largely a third world nation running on human and animal power. It uses much less energy than the US, though it has 3X the population.

Kyoto exempted it from the strongest measures because it is going to industrialize to bring its standards of living up to at least European levels. Holding it back in a pre industrial age while allowing the US to spend 9X the energy per capita is obviously wrong.

Furthermore, china has made a strong commitment to alternative energy, including creating the largest energy producing dam in the world.

Next strawman, please.
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70. atmosweather
3:58 PM EDT on May 05, 2006
Honestly, why do people care so much? How about trying to improve our 2-3 day forecasts than reverse hundreds of years of warming? Wouldn't that be more useful than spending trillions trying to "clean up the mess?" Just a few questions that I think of when reading something about global warming and long-term climate change.
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69. StormJunkie
8:01 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
If it had not been going so fast in order to impress then it could have turned. Me, I'd rather not hit the berg then to have to deciede to turn or not.
Member Since: August 17, 2005 Posts: 26 Comments: 16874
68. HAARP
7:56 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
here is my biggest problem with everything....people are bending the #'s to support there own conclusions....its insane.

Just like that noaa graph that says solar radiation is only that small of a cause...we get 100% of our heat from the sun am I right?

william teller had a idea to eliminate global warming... he said we should just take planes and blanket the earth with sunscreen...doing this for 2 years would lower temperatures to levels below 1710...

bring on the chemtrails
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67. ForecasterColby
7:57 PM GMT on May 05, 2006
And here is where the Titanic analogy falls down - this iceberg might hit us even if we do slow down.

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