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Now I'm confused — global warming

  1. Oct 25, 2007 #1
    I give up. I now officially have no opinion about global warming. none.

    This 20/20 segment sums up pretty well why:

  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 25, 2007 #2
    Why so? Interesting is that all the information presented in the piece has been iterated on this very forum many times, except no thread expressing the slightest doubt on the spin of global warming came out. I wonder if we really need the illusion of authority which in this case is bunch of non scientists on TV talking extracting the same information that is readily available. (This is nothing against you moe, its an observation that fits now for this issue as for any other)

    The piece summarizes it well, the debate is far from over, and any religiously held feelings on this issue in either case are to be postponed. And on the contrary, one should get strong opinion that more information is needed, and not fall for one camp unconditionally.
  4. Oct 25, 2007 #3


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    Thanks Moe, it does appear that more and more people are refusing to be told to shut up and believe without scientific proof to back up it up.

    Vanesch wrote a great post https://www.physicsforums.com/showpost.php?p=1467020&postcount=65
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2007
  5. Oct 25, 2007 #4
    that is a great post; I feel the same way.

    better safe than sorry; I think that not knowing the consequences of so much pollution is just as scary as those flooding maps in Gore's movies, and is reason enough to take better care of the environment.

    but it's hard for me to trust a group of people who seem to be pushing so hard to silence those who question them. activism and research should be kept separate from each other; it's not possible to study anything objectively if you already have such strong opinions about the result.

    the end result is that people like me just get frustrated and feel like we're being yelled at or something; like when kids are told to "just do as you're told! you're not old enough to understand."— I can't imagine how much more frustrating it is for professionals in the field who who question global warming; the way they are treated by the media, they might as well be war criminals.
  6. Oct 25, 2007 #5


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  7. Oct 26, 2007 #6

    Ivan Seeking

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    I can show you more scientists who argue for the existence of visiting aliens. Does that mean that I can move the UFO stuff to the Astronomy forum?

    The official position is that we have 90% confidence in AGW. That doesn't mean certainty. But from a political point of view, unless dramatic new evidence emerges, the debate is over. Al Gore is 100% correct.

    I don't think 20/20 qualifies as the most relieable scientific resource. Maybe the IPCC would be a better reference; unless you buy into all of those conspiracy theories.

    Note that conspiracy theories are banned at PF.
    Last edited: Oct 26, 2007
  8. Oct 26, 2007 #7
    Ivan, you are begging the question...
  9. Oct 26, 2007 #8


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    What conspiracy theory? The only non-scientist interviewed was Al Gore. :rolleyes: And as Vanesch pointed out, nothing is over, there are no conclusive results.
  10. Oct 26, 2007 #9


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    I think one needs to distinguish between GW (or CC, climate change) and AGW.

    There seems to be a consensus on GW/CC (we are certainly experiencing it locally) but seems to be greater disagreement on the anthropogenic role.
  11. Oct 26, 2007 #10


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    Yes, and if we should intervene in the course of nature. I'm all for cleaning up our messes, but we humans have a pretty long track record of making things worse by trying to fix things.

    MK wrote a great piece that bears repeating.

  12. Oct 26, 2007 #11


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    Certainly one has to understand the mechanisms causing GW/CC in order to apply an effective remedy.
  13. Oct 26, 2007 #12
    20/20 wasn't my source. I just saw the piece and thought it reflected my feelings on the matter.

    I'm not saying there's a conspiracy; I don't believe there is such a thing as a group of shady people who sit around to plot about how to rule the world.
    I do, however, think it's careless to not recognize that people's personal interests and politics do often get in the way of law and truth, and we have to pay attention when we suspect this is happening.

    I'm not doubting the climate is changing— it's October 26 here in Canada and people are walking outside in T-shirts. my doubts are in regards to questions like why is it changing, how much does human activity affect that change, could there be other factors involved?

    By saying "the debate is over," they are deriding and even demonizing those who want to investigate the first and last questions, and limiting those investigating the second.

    I'm not saying I don't believe Co2 plays a part in global warming; I don't have a Phd in meteorology so I'm really in no place to make any assumptions. I'm saying it's irresponsible to say "shut up. the debate is over. no more questions" on a subject that we don't understand even remotely... I have yet to hear a scientist claim we understand anywhere near accurately the atmosphere and climate of our planet.

    I don't think there is anything more unscientific than a group of people claiming authority on a subject and belittling those who wish to test their results.
  14. Oct 26, 2007 #13


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    This is EXACTLY the feeling I have. I am also torn between two stances: respect of authority (after all, I'm no climatologist) by knowledgeable people on one hand, and in my opinion a failure to the typically critical attitude in scientific devellopment (I *am* a scientist) on the other hand.

    I find the agressivity by which critical questions are whiped away rather doubtful. I can understand this about crackpottery in well-established domains, but not in an emerging science.

    This is like seeing a bunch of renowed surgeons spit on their instruments before doing a delicate operation on a patient. Of course you don't claim to know more about surgery than they do, but you definitely know that there's something fishy about the hygiene of spitting on their cutters before opening the skin of the patient!

    So maybe they DO know what they are doing, but it brings a blow to their credibility if they cannot patiently explain why they do this.

    I'm actually in the process of reading through the IPCC technical documents - if I can get through it I think I'll start a thread on it soon if I find some time. Lots of things bother me as a scientist, although I'm not a specialist in the field. I'm looking at a bunch of famous brain surgeons spitting on their tools...

    I would like to stress again that I think that there are sufficient elements on the table to take the *hypothesis* of AGW seriously, and be "better safe than sorry" and think about what one can do against it right now. But in as much as I find that there is enough material on the table to consider the hypothesis of AGW, and to deal with its potential consequences, I also find that the scientific case is far from established. The latter, by definition, means that the debate should be open, and that the attitude (not of the politicians, but of the scientists) should be critical. And when I look, I find groupthink.
  15. Oct 28, 2007 #14
    If you were a climatologist and your entire funding was based on protecting civilization from catastrophy, would you go around telling everyone that things were probably gonna be alright, or even that you weren't really sure?
  16. Oct 28, 2007 #15


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    I would tell the truth. I would tell what I know, what I don't know, what could happen, and what is pretty sure.

    As Feynman tells us: science isn't about knowing everything, but by making a clear distinction between what we know and what we don't know.

    Again, I'm NOT at all claiming that AGW is bogus. If I understand things a bit, there is very suggestive data and there are suggestive models that AGW is a genuine possibility. THAT by itself is largely sufficient to warrant prudence, and to warrant a policy that reduces the emission of greenhouse gasses, UNTIL we know for sure.

    But that's still different from being absolutely sure about the FACT of AGW, and on a scientific level, the discussion should be OPEN, with investigation of criticism.

    Again, Feynman: you should do everything which is in your own possibility to try to prove yourself wrong.

    It is THIS what I find missing. Critics are not welcome, and we all sing the same tune.

    I cannot make a statement myself about AGW, I only find the way the *science* is dealt with, a bit disturbing. (I've seen the same in string theory...)

    But understand me well: the suggestion of the existance of AGW is for me good enough to warrant a policy that reduces greenhouse gas emission. So on the policy side, this doesn't change a thing. But it is the scientific side which I find bizarre in this business.
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2007
  17. Oct 28, 2007 #16


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    The IPCC may be a combination of both political and scientific interests, but scientific journals are not. Having kept an eye on the journals of Nature and Science for the past 10+ years, I’ve seen a gradual shift in the attitudes of climatologists in those journals from one of questioning whether global warming is real or not to questioning how dramatic an affect there will be on the Earth. If you look today, you will find papers in those journals not only supporting the phenomena of global warming, but more and more they are looking into what those changes will mean for life on Earth. Typical example worth reading through:

    On the flip side, there are individual climatologists who have serious concerns about even if global warming exists. Mr. Lindzen for example, is Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Atmospheric Science at MIT and from the following reference, he clearly sides against those global warming alarmists. About this issue of one-sidedness in the journals of Science and Nature Mr. Lindzen says:
    Ref: http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110008220

    Mr. Lindzen provides an excellent article, and worth reading.

    Just to summarize this thought, it seems obvious that the IPCC shouldn’t be pointed to as the only global warming camp. The editors at Science and at Nature, the two most prestigious scientific journals in the world, are in the global warming camp.


    No doubt, the editors at these two scientific journals receive dozens if not hundreds of potential papers to publish each week (these are weekly journals). These papers are reviewed and critiqued by peers, and the general consensus seems to be that global warming is both real and a potential concern to humanity.

    Is there a prejudice at these journals against papers which question global warming or its affects? Yes, there is. But it has taken over a decade for this prejudice to unfold.

    Opinions in science change gradually, there is an ‘opinion mass’ which has significant inertia and can not be altered quickly. But it has changed, and it is not the IPCC that has directed this change, albeit, they may now have too much influence over various aspects of political involvement.

    I think this last point is crucial, and one that is also brought out by Lindzen’s article referenced above. Once the science is established, we then need to concern ourselves with how that science is changed into political policy. We obviously need to consider how best to implement changes to the burning of fossil fuel. But how those changes are implemented will always be a contentious issue.
  18. Oct 28, 2007 #17


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    Excellent post! Telling the TRUTH is what it's all about. That's why I became interested in science - because I want to KNOW the TRUTH about things.

    Besides being intelligent/smart, as scientist must be objective! On the other hand, too many people, particularly politicians, seem to be subjective - besides being more concerned about personal interests ( :grumpy: ).

    I grew up with a certain skepticism of authority, and my experience has proven that skepticism is well founded.

    As for GW/AGW/CC - certainly the climate is changing (it always has and always will), and it appears at the moment to be in a warming trend. I know this from local conditions over the past 20 years, and I can seen the changes right outside my door. We have plant and animal species from warmer climates competing with indigenous species that are traditionally adapted to predominantly colder climates.

    We also see the increase and onset of serious diseases that were largely confined to certain tropical areas. Locally, we have recent incidents of a certain type of hemorragic fever, which is new this area. Wildlife patholigists are trying to understand it, but the spread of the disease seems related to local warming trends.

    The key question/concern is - what are the ramifications of GW? Well, there are concerns about food and water supply, which could have significant consequences with respect to societies' ability to provide for standards of living to which we are now accustomed, as well as potential threat to health, welfare and possible survival of those societies.

    However - in order to implement 'effective' mitigating strategies, we must know 'as best we can' what exactly is the influence of several key variables, such as

    the energy incident upon the atmosphere (i.e. solar radiance),
    the energy storage and transport mechanisms within the atmosphere and surface of the earth.

    Certainly CO2 is a concern based on the heavy use of fossils fuels, which has grown considerably over the past few decades, BUT

    What about methane and GHG related to agriculture?

    What about water vapor, which is a consequence of our power generation techniques and agricultural practices?

    These last two questions mean much more than simply changing the way we use fossil fuels. They require huge shifts in the ways we do energy production, transportation and agriculture!
  19. Oct 28, 2007 #18
    Well, most of the climate papers I've read don't talk directly about AGW, at least not in a "humans are destroying the world, and the debate's over!" kind of way. That kind of talk comes from articles by press-friendly scientists (like Bill Mcguire - the guy who compared AGW deniers to holocaust deniers, who happens to be a volcanologist (not even a climatologist!) on the UK govs natural disasters panel), and politicians.
  20. Oct 30, 2007 #19

    Ivan Seeking

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    Oh please, the four scientists in the video. Did you watch it? [edit: Wait, the only non-scientist? I guess I missed the point]

    The key argument against the official position on AGW is a conspiracy to get grant money. Suddenly, when faced with a consensus, the denialist claim that science can't be trusted. :rolleyes:

    I was not aware that Vanesch was a climate scientist. The definitive reference is the IPCC, and they claim 90% confidence in AGW; and that the debate about GW is over entirely. Without meaning to beat up on Vanesch who specified that he is not a climate expert, this is no different than any other subject, so why do the opinions of non-experts suddenly matter? We don't allow this in any other forum.

    It is one thing to recognize that we have 10% uncertainty, but this is hardly a wide-open question, and I don't know how much certainty is even possible; for all that we know, this may be as good as it can get under an circumstances. Also, the two countries with the most to lose by making a more bold statement - the US and China - were the only groups that objected to a declaration of 95% confidence in the AGW model. So if you want to talk about bias, there you go.
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2007
  21. Oct 30, 2007 #20


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    You mean the group of world renowned climate scientists, several of which left the IPCC in disgust over the skewing of data and that would just like to see some honesty? You call that a conspiracy theory? <shakes head>
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