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News What IF agw is wrong?

  1. Dec 9, 2009 #1
    Leaving aside the actual specifics of the argument pro and anti agw, i was wondering how face will be saved (by politcians and scientists) in the event that agw is falsified or shown to have been highly exagerrated?

    IF agw is shown to be wrong then there are going to be a lot of "told you so" and serious recriminations are going to take place across the political and scientific specturm.

    I wonder if the more vehement agw community has thought through the implications and possible consequences of labelleing all sceptics (including many scientific colleagues) as "flat-earthers" or "denialists".

    But i think the worst consequences if agw is proved without merit will be a huge luddite backlash against science in general. That would be a tragedy.
     
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  3. Dec 9, 2009 #2
    [URL [Broken]
    some folk[/url], currently labelled as "flat-earthers" or "denialists" (and as crackpots here), agree about the possible mistake.

    Personally I agree about science, it's way too late to build in safeties to recover from the shock.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  4. Dec 9, 2009 #3
    Simple: You can only go with what you know, and draw conclusions from that.

    Current data indicates anthropogenic global warming, or so is a general consensus (which doesnt include all scientists). If more data in the future leads to this conclusion being dismissed, so be it. It's only the same scientifically as the steady state universe being displaced by big bang theory. So from a strictly scientific point of view it really makes no difference.

    It's only because this has become so politicised that there will be any issue. In the end we just don't know for certain what effect we are having at the moment, but it's a question of consequences. Is it better to spend the money and plan for a worst case scenario now, or to leave it until we are sure, at which point it may very well be too late.

    In cases like this, being an engineer and quite conservative about the unknown: i'd tend to go with better safe than sorry.
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2009
  5. Dec 9, 2009 #4
  6. Dec 9, 2009 #5
    Well there may or may not be a consensus., I don't know I haven't gone and taken a poll of all climate scientists, however it doesn't matter.

    Consequences of being wrong: It's embarassing.

    I'd take the course of minimal risk, which is doing something to combat it regardless.
     
    Last edited: Dec 9, 2009
  7. Dec 9, 2009 #6
    There's consensus on some issues. It's hard not to have consensus regarding, say, the fact that we're dumping a lot of CO2 into the atmosphere, and that there's a lot more of it there today than there was just 50 years ago. It's hard not to have consensus regarding the fact that the extent of polar ice caps is trending down rapidly and, if naively extrapolated, by 2100 we might see ice-free Arctic Ocean for the first time in millennia.

    The real problem is that a lot of measurable warming occurs in places where no one lives and no one even wants to live - because it's so COLD there! The trend in London and New York is much less clear, and it could be possible that our models are wrong, and there won't really be any measurable warming between the 20th and the 60th latutudes.
     
  8. Dec 9, 2009 #7
    Maybe take some time and go over http://www.copenhagenclimatechallenge.org/ [Broken] to see if they may know what they are talking about.

    I absolutely agree that it's paramount to do anything possible to promote a better sustainment of the world but it MUST be based on accurate science, not on runaway scaremongering and groupthink and go for all the wrong actions for the wrong reasons.

    edit: think about the massive destruction of rain forests, for instance, to be replaced by oil palm tree farms to produce biofuels to 'fight' global warming.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  9. Dec 9, 2009 #8
    Thats perfectly rational position to take. However with many scientists not being allowed to, or too frightened to write papers challening the "consensus", i dont think it will just be a case of being embarassed.

    I think there will be a major purge in political and scientific communites in any scenario where agw is shown to be falsified or exagggerated.

    You cant expect people like Lindzen and other respected scientists to just be nice in the event they are proven correct. They have been treated as heretics and loonies.
     
  10. Dec 9, 2009 #9

    Astronuc

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    It's actually China and others that are doing that. Environmentalists are opposed to palm plantations.

    For China, it's just another source of raw materials, which is separate for ME oil - and China's policies are economically driven. There seems to be little concern for the welfare of other states/peoples as long as China benefits.
     
  11. Dec 9, 2009 #10
    Problem is not who does it, Astronuc, problem is that it is happening allegdly fighting off global warming. Without it, it would be much tougher to give it a legitimation.
     
  12. Dec 9, 2009 #11
    How much warmer is the globe since it started warming?
    How much of that warmth is caused by human activity over and above the amount we create by simply being alive?
     
  13. Dec 9, 2009 #12
    Thats the trillion dollar question (with no exaggeration). Thats what the agw community is gambling that their theory is correct. Big gamble and not one without serious repurcussions if proved incorrect.
     
  14. Dec 9, 2009 #13
    For one it would be prudent to attempt and duplicate the HADCRU3t temperature data series from the raw data, that's the climate gate one.
     
  15. Dec 9, 2009 #14
    Would it make any difference for you personally if that data were reproduced?
     
  16. Dec 9, 2009 #15
    Oh, it is much more than that. No science has ever made the demands on humans that Global Warming does. They want us to change our entire lifestyle. Governments are going wild with new regulations. It has become a moral crusade.

     
  17. Dec 9, 2009 #16

    vanesch

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    I don't think it matters much. Yes, it matters in the communication war. But it doesn't matter much for science. Climate science advances much more with physical computer climate models than with all that paleostuff. We have to come to a point where climate can be calculated in a similar way as weather forecasts now: by full physical modelling and computing power. That effort is under way. It's the way mechanical constructions are computed, nuclear reactors are build, airplanes are designed, ....

    The only problem is of course that we only have one climate system, and it is by definition a very slow system, so reality testing is way harder if to be done in a few decades.

    On the other hand, I do regret that climate scientists took on some "activism". They should have remained "scientists".
     
  18. Dec 9, 2009 #17

    vanesch

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    That's not "science", that's politics. The science only tells you (or should tell you) that climate is probably going to look like this and that. It is only if you don't like that, and you would like to avoid that in some way, that this "demands" something from you. But that's not the science.

    We could just as well get alarmed by the fact that the sun is going to become a red giant in 5 billion years or so. Astrophysics tells us that this for sure will be the end of the earth. Does that put any demand on us ? Are we 100% sure about it ? Can't astrophysics be wrong on that account ?

    Climate science tells me that 50 years from now, I will probably not be able to go skiing in the same resorts than I do now. Does that require anything from me ? Only if I want to go skiing there at all costs ! But I'm afraid in any case I won't be skiing any more in those resorts 50 years from now. So that doesn't do me anything.

    "global warming" as a scientific hypothesis, is just that: a scientific hypothesis, with quite some arguments in its favor, but also with some remaining doubts. That doesn't require any action by itself. It is only if we don't like it, that we have to do something about it. But that's not science's issue.
     
  19. Dec 9, 2009 #18
    We are not talking paleostuff but the compilation of the actual world wide temperature registration. After all you need something to test the skill of your model and some of the aforemetioned -currently- crackpots- would be very interested to see how their local series have been converted by CRU.
     
  20. Dec 9, 2009 #19

    vanesch

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    It doesn't even matter. Suppose that we are about to release CO2 in the atmosphere, but didn't do so until now. Suppose we had stored all that CO2 in big tanks, and that the question is whether we can release it or not. In that case, we wouldn't have any "past data" to look at, and there wouldn't be any part of past warming due to human CO2 release, as it is still in the tanks.

    So, release it or not ? How to find out what it WILL do ? Answer: model it, calculate it, and make a prediction based upon those calculations.

    Would you, or wouldn't you, decide to release all that CO2 in the tanks, if several scientists had made calculations that showed that it might lead to a serious climate change ?

    Knowing no CO2 had been released, and that there hadn't been - of course - any attributable warming to that non-released CO2 ?

    That's a political decision to "open the tank" or not. The scientist just ran his model and told you what he found.

    So, open the tanks or not ?
     
  21. Dec 9, 2009 #20
    But the same scientists who are pushing global warming are the ones making the demands. And using their authority as scientists to demand political action. It is not just the politicians who are crusaders.
     
  22. Dec 9, 2009 #21

    vanesch

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    Ah, you mean, we need those data as a test run for climate models ? And what if the past effect was too small ? What if climate models are only accurate up to say 1 degree ? We already know that the current time series is not constraining climate models a lot. There are widely different climate models that all agree on the current time series, so that's not gonna help a lot in any case.

    If by 2100 we plan to have, say, 1200 ppm CO2 in the atmosphere, the tiny signal of the change from 280 to 375 ppm might not learn us much by itself, and in any case we will have to put our trust in a computational model without extensive verification.
     
  23. Dec 9, 2009 #22

    vanesch

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    Yes, and I regret that a lot. The scientist shouldn't become involved. He should remain in his lab. Otherwise he looses his credibility as a scientist.
     
  24. Dec 9, 2009 #23
    Suppose we had done so in the past. Which we did. How much did the globe warm up? How much of that warmth can be attributed to human activity other than what we produce simply by being alive?
     
  25. Dec 9, 2009 #24

    vanesch

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    There's no way to know purely based upon measurement. The only way to find out it by modelling, in any case.

    And, btw, what we as living beings exhale, has nothing to do with it because what we exhale is what we got in by direct or indirect vegetable food, so what was extracted from the atmosphere by photosynthesis. Exhaling CO2 only puts back what plants took out of it before.
     
  26. Dec 9, 2009 #25
    Doesn't science require measurements?
     
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