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News IPCC Fourth Assessment Synthesis Report

  1. Nov 22, 2007 #1
    Here is the IPCC Synthesis Report Summary for Policy Makers.

    Now just what is the debate?

    I seem to have missed it.

    What credible scientific institution is disputing the IPCC conclusions?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 22, 2007 #2


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    What would be the normal effects from the natural warming period we are currently in?

    I don't see anything specific, I see a lot of "likely" or "somewhat likely". Could you please post what we would be normally seeing that they claim has been altered by humans and specifically what the difference is that they are claiming, and specifically what parts of the world are experiencing which specific changes. (It is a fact, for instance, that sea level is going down in parts of the world), and post the scientific data to back that up.

    Now that would be something worth reading.
  4. Nov 22, 2007 #3
    Read the assessments. Not just the SPM but the technical summaries as well. The IPCC assessments are assessments of the body of geophysical scientific literature relating to climate science. The link I posted addresses some of your questions and the Technical summary goes into much greater detail.

    BTW - Just because we are in an interglacial period does not mean that the climate is naturally warming. The trend for the last 7000 years has been one of cooling. If you look at the larger paleoclimate record, we are in an ice age, interspersed with small warm periods known as interglacial periods.
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2007
  5. Nov 22, 2007 #4


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    I should probably merge the other posts from the UN thread here, so I will post this here.

    My main concern is that we simply do not understand climate science (very new) and how climate works and how quickly it can change in unexpected ways to claim to know what is going on or what should be done, other than just cutting back on pollution, which we are already doing.

    I strongly suggest you read the link I provided.

    You didn't read it, did you? Also, that chart was disproved not too long ago when it was discovered that important data had been ommited/skewed.

    Your "wiki" reference says
    You might want to read this.


    I'm not saying that pollution, agriculture and changing the landscape aren't causing problems. I'm saying that we don't know definitely what is happening where or why, and that is VERY IMPORTANT to finding solutions that don't wreck havoc on this planet.
  6. Nov 22, 2007 #5
    A reasonable position.

    However, the radiative properties of CO2 have been rigorously studied and well understood for the past one hundred years. Increasing the atmospheric concentrations of CO2 is a positive climate forcing, and all else being equal will cause a warming trend. How much may be uncertain, but no credible scientist claims that the forcing will be negative. There is no reason not to switch to non carbon sources of energy.
    You didn't provide one in the last post.

    Read what, the caveats? I most certainly did.

    Could you be more specific, exactly what important data?

    I will.
    I fail to see how developing and utilizing renewable energy, and building more efficient infrastructure is harming the planet.
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2007
  7. Nov 23, 2007 #6

    I read the AGU paper.

    It is about a cold shift in climate during the Eemian that was followed by a cooling trend ending in the last glaciation. No such event has been recorded for the Holocene, although there was an cooling event 5500 years ago. The rapid cooling is thought to be a result of a slowdown in the THC due to an influx of fresh water into the Nordic sea.

  8. Nov 23, 2007 #7
    Page 5, Figure SPM-4

  9. Nov 23, 2007 #8

    Ivan Seeking

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    One question that comes to mind: If indeed the AGW model is correct, how much confidence is possible, ever - what is the highest degree of certainty that we could ever have in the model?
  10. Nov 23, 2007 #9

    AGW is a theory. The 90% certainty stems from the fact that there is no known mechanism(s) that explain the observed warming trend of the past 50 years, other than anthropogenic emissions of GHGs. The 10% uncertainty is due to unknowns in the science itself and even uncertainty in known mechanisms.

    There is always uncertainty, but if I get a hand with a 90% probability to win, I'll bet that hand every time.

    [edit] And if the hand has a 10% chance I might try and bluff. [/edit]
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2007
  11. Nov 23, 2007 #10

    Ivan Seeking

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    Just to be clear: Climate models are used to predict how CO2 will affect the climate.

    Is there something incorrect about that statement?
  12. Nov 24, 2007 #11
    Nothing incorrect in that statement, but it is a simplification. There are many different models some simple others quite complex. There are so many elements and mechanisms involved in climate that without models, climate response to forcings would be very difficult to predict, primarily because of the butterfly effect. Even with parallel coupled general circulation models, some elements are held constant because there just is not enough processing power to simulate them.

    Although in 1896 Svante Arrhenius did make a fairly good estimate of temperature response.

    Last edited: Nov 24, 2007
  13. Nov 24, 2007 #12
    Well one thing to be cautious about is that a good deal of those so-called "renewable" energy sources aren't really worth anything. Wind, solar, biofuels, etc...all have to be subsidized right now, some heavily, and many of the corporations that are "on-board" regarding global warming are only doing so because they stand to profit from restrictive regulations regarding energy usage. Restrictions on energy usage can also send more jobs offshore because companies will go to countries not trying to meet such obligations.

    So one must be careful. This question, if people believe in global warming, is very much an economic one as well.

    Well yes, if there were any viable non-carbon energy sources. But the fact of the matter remains that oil, coal, natural gas, etc...are the best energy sources.
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 24, 2007
  14. Nov 24, 2007 #13
    Most of the energy subsidies go to traditional sources. Nanosolar will begin producing solar panels this year that will bring solar down to about 1/3 the price of coal generated electricity.

    I think you are stuck in an old paradigm. Come on outside the box. There is nothing to fear out here. :smile:
  15. Nov 24, 2007 #14
    My question is simply this: If AGW due to humans is absolutely true, what exactly should be done? To what extent? And by whom?

    I think this is where the problems would arise. It's all good that each country minds their own pollution output, but what are we to do about the countries that do not participate? This is where it gets dangerous, IMO.
  16. Nov 24, 2007 #15
    That's probably because the renewable sources consist of about 3% or less of our energy supply, at least from my understanding. Traditional sources are still profitable. Oil companies profit and coal companies profit plenty fine. They don't need government aid to survive. The government does subsidize gasoline somewhat to artificially keep the price about a dollar lower than what it would be I believe, but they also tax the gasoline companies at a tremendously high rate as well, so one could say the gasoline companies are partially subsidizing themselves ultimately.

    Another problem I've read is that the process to manufacture solar panels does a lot of harm to the environment that off-sets the benefit of them, however not sure how true that is.

    As for solar panels 1/3 the price of coal-generated electricity, well I'll believe it when I see it. Not saying it isn't happening, but they've been claiming such energy sources would start pulling their own weight for decades now. These energy sources need to be able to supply a good chunk of the nation's energy supply, and increase in ability to do so in the future, as our energy needs increase.

    They also need to be able to do so without covering entire neighborhoods with giant solar panels.

    If they have smaller panels though that can supply plenty of energy, constantly, in times of lousy sunlight as well, that will be a truly brilliant thing.

    Oh I have no problem thinking outside the box. I am just trying to think along what I see as realistic terms.

    Well for one, who says it would be a problem even if it is being caused? There's two questions,

    1) Is GW being caused by humans?
    2) If so, will it actually be a problem?

    The question of just "how" a country should mind its pollution output is very questionable. One doesn't just want to clamp down on industry and people's livelihoods because of global warming and damage the economy greatly in the process, on the other hand, one does want to start encouraging businesses to develop new and cleaner energy technologies, keep the economy strong so that we have the ability to deal with any problems from global warming if they might occur, and enact laws on industry where cost-benefit analysis show it won't damage the industry.

    Draconian stuff like a high gasoline tax to stop people from driving SUVs and pickups, or rules like if you drive an SUV into a city you have to pay a huge tax, or taxing you according to your energy output, IMO are very very wrong.

    The other thing is to consider whether other countries really should try to curb their emissions as they're developing. Which would harm their people more? For example, in many African countries, the people have to get up each morning and go chop down a bunch of firewood, carry it back, then they burn it inside their huts to keep warm. This creates a rather dangerous and polluted environment inside the huts for the people, and it also wastes time.

    In addition to that, they're literally destroying the forest's ecosystem.

    By inserting a coal plant somewhere, they could supply power to the people where they could heat themselves, have electric light to see in the dark, they'd be free from certain back-breaking labor, have more time for productive pursuits, and also the forest would stop getting cut down as much.

    Now obviously there's considerations here, for example, one could say to said African country, "We understand you guys need industry for your people, but try to use clean industry, don't use a third-world coal plant, we'll give you first-world technology."

    Of course I don't know if maybe third-world countries can't afford the cleaner technology or not, etc...but I mean many countries have legit reasons for not trying to curb their CO2 emissions by reducing their carbon emissions.

    For countries that definitely won't participate, I'd say we do our best to develop very clean technology to upgrade their industry (and our own industry), that we can sell to them. If it's cost-effective enough, they'll likely reason that the result of having cleaner cities will pay for itself in the future. For example in Beijing, China right now, they say you can't walk outside for any extended period without inhaling a bunch of black pollutants in your nose, which you then spend a lot of time blowing back out after you get inside somewhere.
  17. Nov 25, 2007 #16
    I was in Ningbo for week on business, across the bay from Shanghai in 05. It took me awhile to realize that it wasn't just overcast everyday that I was there. Those people never saw the sun. It's perma-smog. And with the state of business practices, that isn't going to change anytime soon. They didn't talk about it. It's like it wasn't happening.

    So, if the world decides that humans are creating global warming, what is it going to do about China? They are off and running, noones going to change that. Every major company you can think of has a factory over there. I was given a nice tour of some local business parks that were several square miles. We all know China's humanitarian history. And the whole world has interests to keep them doing what they are doing. Interesting dilemma.
  18. Nov 25, 2007 #17
    Actually the number is 6% of the total and 9% of electricity, according to the DOE 2004 figures.
    But they are getting them to the tune of $10's of billions.
    Gasoline is not directly subsidized, but the pump price is supported by many government subsidies and low cost leases. The tax on gasoline is paid by the consumer not the gasoline company.
    The greatest environmental concern is not from the panels themselves, (although cadmium could be a problem if old panels are thrown in landfills) but from the lead acid batteries. When you offset these with the zero pollution from the energy generated the benefits far outweigh the costs. And since the environmental impacts can and should be mitigated, through recycling, there is absolutely no reason not to go solar as it becomes affordable.

    Have a look.

    And with the right investment they can begin to fill a significant portion. But at the same time we must recognize that the lifestyle and consumption economies of the first world are unsustainable for a planet that will soon be home to 10 billion people. I believe that everyone is entitled to the basics necessary to live. So I ride a bicycle instead of driving a car.
    Is this somehow less desirable than asphalt grids where noisy, speeding automobiles disturb the peace and create life threatening hazards, as well as spewing pollution into the air and water?

    I agree, but unless there is support for the industry, there will be little advancement in the technology.
    The super majority of the worlds scientists believe it is 90% certain.
    Not if it occurs slowly, allowing time for ecosystems and populations to adapt. The biggest problem is the rate that CO2 is the rate of increase.

    If you look at the five major extinctions in history, four of them are associated with high CO2 levels and warmer temperature. The Permian extinction is believed to have been caused by largest volcanic event in the past 600 million years that formed the Siberian traps and ignited a huge coal bed, releasing large amounts of CO2, leading to warmer, more acidic and oxygen depleted oceans. The average ocean pH has dropped 0.1 units and is expected to drop further.

    The cost of not doing anything is far greater than the investment in infrastructure necessary to build a sustainable society.
    Here is one report
    Look at what was done in Bogota.

    It is the nature of politics that some people are going to feel that their rights are being restricted. The shared commons has been reduced to predominantly streets and highways. Cities in the future will need to restrict access by automobiles, so that they can be more livable for people.

    This was the major problem with Kyoto, it excluded what is now the largest polluter, China. However, you must remember that the third world is primarily being developed by the first world. So how they develop will in large part be decided by the first world interests. it is in our interest that they develop a sustainable infrastructure.

    People living in grass huts have a very low environmental impact. Besides, the primary cause of deforestation is for livestock. Adopting a plant based diet is the best way to prevent this from happening.

    The small amount of wood burned is negligible, putting a local solar and/or wind power in the village would make much better economic sense. Why build and maintain the transmission infrastructure when efficiency and local renewable power is a better solution.

    Africa is not the problem. It is developing industrial countries like China and India. But I would still place an emphasis on clean modern infrastructure.

    Coal can still be a considerable contributor. There is a technology for scrubbing the flue gases with charcoal that can then be used as fertilizer. Using pyrolysis to create the charcoal can generate energy and hydrogen. The resulting low temperature charcoal can then be used to scrub power plant flue emissions. The charcoal creates a carbon cycle in the soil that has produced some of the richest soil on Earth.

  19. Nov 25, 2007 #18
    Coolbeans, well you'd have to be nuts to not go solar if it becomes very reliable and affordable, you'd have no more electric bill!

    That I disagree with. I think the lifestyle and consumption economies of the First World are plenty sustainable. Certain things might grow more expensive, but free-market economies adapt. If a lifestyle is not sustainable, the market will handle it through cost of living, not the law.

    To me, yes. The vehicles don't need to spew pollution, they can utilize technology to make the engines cleaner-burning. As for life-threatening hazards, that's just one thing we deal with. I do not need the government dictating to me what kind of vehicle I drive around for the "good of society."

    And I like things like freeways that I can speed on and roads that I can drive freely on.

    Perhaps, but you have to be careful of what "support" from industry consists of. A lot of industry loves these energy sources because it will allow them to maintain a monopoly and yank up prices. For example, before its fall, Enron bought up lots of various "renewable" energy companies. They had no intention of saving the Earth or anything though.

    If the technology is truly good and marketed properly, trust me, people will buy it! You give people a cost-effective way to give the middle-finger to the electric company, and they'll do it :)

    From what I understand, that is not true, that there is no consensus amongst the world's scientists regarding the subject.

    Good point.

    That's interesting, but it makes me wonder because in the past, when the Earth had tremendous bio-diversity on the planet, we had a lot more carbon in the atmosphere then we do today. Experiments have constantly shown that plants respond very well to atmospheres with a lot more carbon.

    Sure, but the question becomes how far to go in investing in infrastructure, because there are many overzealous people who want to go too far and micro-manage people's lives.

    Mmm....I don't know about that. Cities can be more livable with autos that don't pollute as much.

    As for bogota, that is an example of a politician making people live a lifestyle that they think is best for them, rather than let people live their own lives. Many people do not want to have to take public transportation, or ride a bike, or walk. We prefer to drive SUVs or pickup trucks or sports cars or whatnot.

    The right of the individual always supercedes the collective. If we want cleaner cities, we'll need to develop more pollution-free vehicles, not infringe on people's right to live life the way they like. As for traffic, I can deal with that. Certain traffic, for example the girdlock that occurs in cities like Los Angelos, occur because they cannot develop any more freeway there. they've got a freeway system designed to handle 1960s-level traffic. The reason they can't develop more is because of the Sierra Club having stopped them.


    True, but why exactly should these people be forced to livei n grass huts, especially when it is such a hard life?

    (::eating sausage and bacon::) As for adopting a plant-based diet, an ice cube has a better chance in the oven then for me to do that. I do support finding ways to more efficiently (and humanly) raise livestock though.

    Well, with solar and wind power right now, you'd need to partially subsidize it with conventional electrical power from some other source, because wind and solar are intermittent. Also, something like a big windmill the people might not like in their area, so it depends I suppose. Also, what to do when/if the village starts growing and advancing?

    But either way, I just meant supply the people with a source of electrical energy, if wind or solar could do it, and the people were okay with it, fine by me.

    True, but if we ever hope to fix poverty in Africa, it will need to be developed moreso (probably will never happen though, too many power-hungry warlords).

    Coal can still be a considerable contributor. There is a technology for scrubbing the flue gases with charcoal that can then be used as fertilizer. Using pyrolysis to create the charcoal can generate energy and hydrogen. The resulting low temperature charcoal can then be used to scrub power plant flue emissions. The charcoal creates a carbon cycle in the soil that has produced some of the richest soil on Earth.


    That's a cool thing!
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