Everything you've always wanted to know about climate change (but were afraid to ask) - Macleans.ca

Everything you’ve always wanted to know about climate change (but were afraid to ask)

Ok, maybe not everything, but the five most essential facts


The climate change debate is often anything but civil. That fact has become especially clear since emails stolen from Climatic Research Unit scientists were leaked on the Internet earlier this month. In an effort to bridge the knowledge gap between scientists and laypeople, science/tech website Ars Technica brings us the five facts everyone can (or should) agree upon when discussing the oh-so-sensitive issue: (1) adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere warms things up; (2) the acceptance of the greenhouse gas effect is “deeply engrained” in scientific circles; (3) the sheer number of variables that come into play when measuring the extent of climate changes leaves “plenty of room for scientific disagreements”; (4) climate and weather are entirely different things; and (5) “the best piece of advice one can have when attempting to engage with climate science is simply to recognize scientific data and reasoning.”

Ars Technica

Filed under:

Everything you’ve always wanted to know about climate change (but were afraid to ask)

  1. All the article indicates is that there is some agreement amongst climate change scientists about some fundamentals – but that is a long way from agreement on what the solution is. One of the problems with the climate change scientists is that they are too inward looking and don't bring in other experts (such as statisticians) that could help them analyze whatever data they are collecting. And because they are too inward looking they tend to be very defensive about their work and are too politicized – so they have established a line in the sand and will defend any and all of their actions – even if their actions constitute fraud.

    There may be global warming, but I doubt that it is caused by humans as climate has gone through various cycles of warming and cooling for thousands of years. So spending billions upon billions of dollars to 'fight' global warming' sounds like a labour of an elephant to produce a mouse. I think there are a lot better ways to improve our environment – clear air, clear water, access to quality food, fewer miles driven, less trash produced all sound much more beneficial than investing in carbon credits or other questionable transfers of money.

  2. Well said, Maureen.

  3. The key issue is to distinguish "what is true" from "what is important". If the natural climate fluctuations are an order of magnitude greater than human influences then the human influences are not important .

    As it turns out the political nonsense that has embedded itself firmly into the debate is trying to use AGW to further it's own agendas and this has overshadowed what is true and what is important.

    Predictions of future disaster are not new and many times people have tried to use fear to try to control people. Nothing new here.

  4. the acceptance of the greenhouse gas effect has become a religion for many

    The greenhouse gas effect is what keeps our planet warm enough for us to live on. This isn't a belief, it's established grade 5 level science.

  5. The two key points made are: (1) adding greenhouse gases to the atmosphere warms things up; (2) the acceptance of the greenhouse gas effect is “deeply engrained” in scientific circles. However what's missing here folks? Yep, the key question HOW MUCH? This is what the contention is all about. More specifically it comes down to feedbacks from the relatively small warming effect that additional CO2 produces that generally everyone agrees on. As Robin stated, the effects of additional CO2 grow logarithmically as the bandwidth "windows" that CO2 impacts become saturated. To project the warming THREAT from additional CO2 advocated by Alarmists they must PRESUME strong positive feedbacks caused by additional water vapour supposedly added to the atmosphere by the initial CO2 warming. However, additional water vapour in the atmosphere can lead to more clouds which can cause cooling. So who's right here?
    …. cont'd

  6. …. cont'd
    Well with the instrumentation now on board orbiting satellites they can actually measure the amount of incoming vs. outgoing radiation. And guess what? These real world measurements from the satellites strongly support the existence of negative feedbacks associated with any incremental CO2 warming.

    The bottom line is that any incremental CO2 added to the atmosphere from the combustion of fossil fuels will have a minimal impact in terms of increasing temperatures – we're talking in the range of a fraction of a degree here.
    So what's at stake here is not the future of the planet but the funding gravy train for climate scientists, their hangers on and the assorted carperbaggers such as Al Gore who are lining their pockets pushing the Global Warming Fraud!

  7. (1) the effects of CO2 are logarithmic not linear in other words it takes twice as much CO2 to produce the same amount of warming that the previous amount of CO2 caused. We are already well beyond CO2 being a factor in temperature due to saturation. In addition, ice cores show CO2 lagging – not leading – temperature increases by as much as 1000 years.

    (2) the acceptance of the greenhouse gas effect has become a religion for many – get educated and see for yourself. There is no 'hot spot' as predicted by the IPCC model. Really. Look it up for yourself, don't take my word for it. Global temperatures have actually declined over the last decade. Really. Look it up for yourself, don't take my word for it.

    (3) the hacked Climategate emails show blatant manipulation of data to conform to a predetermined result. This is insulting to science and quite probably criminal. These fudged documents are "upstream" from all of the UN/IPCC climate literature, therefore it is also contaminated from this fraudulent manipulation

    (4) climate change and Anthropogenic Global Warming are entirely separate things and should not be confused. This is the favorite bait and switch tactic used by AGW religion adherents. Yes the climate is changing. It always has. Ever hear about the Vikings farming in Greenland in the Middle Ages? Again, don't take my word for it.

    (5) By examining the Climategate emails, documents and computer code for yourself you will see the breadth and depth of the deception that has been foisted on an unsuspecting public by a small group of over zealous ideologues. If you still sign on to AGW 'by faith', your beyond hope and help.

  8. That's poor reasoning, Maureen. It's like saying, I doubt this boat will sink because all the boats I've been in before have been fine. So that guy drilling a hole in the bottom doesn't worry me, and we should spend our energy worrying about how we're going to row to shore.

    • No that is not what I said – to continue your boat analogy – I will not assume that every boat will sink because one did. And at this point we have no indication that anyone is drilling a hole in the boat. What we do have is a lot of global warming fanatics that have told us that the boat is sinking, but refuse to point out where the hole is and instead tell us to not worry because they are right.

  9. Ice cores show CO2 lagging, with the increase in temperature being logarithmic. IE, CO2 is a forcer of greenhouse gases.. When it gets released due to natural climate variations, the temperature shoots up quite rapidly. Currently it's being released due to anthropogenic activity.. ie, us..

    Or in otherwords, if we're paying attention to history, we better be expecting it to warm.

  10. Bollocks. Exxon has more money in it's publicity department than the entire AGW movement generates in a year. If anybody's lining their pockets, it's the companies that are pressing for lower regulations so that they can continue to reap windfall profits and, as usual, leave the resulting mess to "the commons" to clean up.

    • Sorry Thwim, but ExxonMobil has recently thrown its support behind the AGW folks. They've realized that the consumer always has and always will bear the cost of any additional regulations, and that they can make lots of money in the carbon trading racket.

  11. ahhh of course. the old AGW fallback. if you disagree with St. Gore you are an evil stooge of the big bad corporations.

  12. You forget the most important fact: the Climategate documents show that the IPCC has "manufactured" their consensus and the other five points are now rendered untrue.

    If the science is unequivocal, then why do the Climategate documents show the CRU scientists spending so much effort on:

    a) obstruction of the UK FOIA
    b) intimidating science journal editors
    c) subverting the peer review process
    d) deleting and hiding data from others

    The only answer is that the science is not solid enough to stand on its own. The misconduct was required to strong arm a manufactured consensus.

    Climate Science – definitely not your father's science!

  13. People, I appreciate your paranoia is great and deserves respect — but in a few years, the Arctic ocean is going to be ice-free in summer. Doesn't that terrify you even a little bit?

    Why so much distrust of scientists who study climate? They're frightened at what's happening to the world and confused that they're being ignored. There's no cabal — it's impossible to have something like that in a subject that's spread over thousands of labs and universities. These people simply don't understand why no one will listen to them as something horrible happens to the world.

  14. What rock have you been living under? NOTHING HORRIBLE IS HAPPENING!!!!!!! Temperatures have been on a downward trend since 1998, but even if they weren't, why is an ice-free arctic so terrifying for everyone? It was certainly ice-free during the summers 1000 years ago when the VIKINGS HAD FARMS IN GREENLAND, and the polar bears didn't go extinct then.

    The simple fact that CBC has ZERO coverage of the CRU story should be enough to tell you that you can't rely on the mainstream media for reliable information on this subject. Go do some reading on the stuff Phil Jones, Michael Mann, etc., were up to and then come back and tell me why I should trust climatologists of their ilk.

    "…confused that they're being ignored". Huh? How does putting national governments on the verge of signing a treaty that will subvert their sovereignty, in the name of "science" that is anything but, constitute being ignored?

  15. I get a little tired hearing that "Climate and weather are completely different things." Yes, they are distinct, but they are NOT completely different. Weather is a subset of climate. Weather deals with the micro, climate with the macro. They are two ends of a continuum, with much overlap in between. I would hope that a climatologist who does not thorougly understand the various meteorological processes that create our weather would not even qualify as a climatologist.

    Note that I am not arguing that climatologists do not understand meteorology. I am quite confident that there are many climatologists who are also experts in meteorology. I just don't like being spoon-fed little tid-bits like "weather and climate are completely different" when even a cursory examination of the two fields would show that this is a gross over-simplification. (I also get the impression that some influential climatologists are little more than glorified stats monkeys who need to get out of the lab more often, but that's just my impression, and it could well be a wrong one.)

  16. You forget the most important fact: the Climategate documents show that the IPCC has "manufactured" their consensus and the other five points are now rendered untrue.

    So the emails now render basic science untrue.

  17. I read in a newspaper almost 2 years ago that the crust in the depths of the Arctic ocean under the north pole had split in the 1990s and many volcanoes were formed spewing tons and tons of molten lava into the ocean—would this not explain the warming of the Arctic ocean as well as the rock which the islands are made of, as well as Greenland ? ? With the crust thinner under the ocean, then the water, as well as the surface rock or crust would also be warmer, naturally, from the bowels of the earth itself—not the surface ! Carbon credits and cap-and-trade are just scams for the entrepreneurs to get rich on. Raising the cost of energy to the user, just so the producer will pay some carbon-offsetter, in order to still pollute, is just a scam. Planting trees in deserts that will take 50 to 100 years to grow, if they do grow and not die, before they will be able to absorb carbon, is laughable—what a money grab ! The European corporations have been carbon-trading for some time now and have made billions in profits—-now they want to screw the rest of the world ! Scams and lies ! !