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back to article Greenland glaciers not set to cause disastrous sea level rises - study

US government funded scientists have measured the speed of glaciers in Greenland as they move down to the sea over the past ten years, and discovered that - while the glaciers have speeded up somewhat - there's no indication that this will mean major sea level rises. "Observed acceleration indicates that sea level rise from …

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Bronze badge

If the snowshoe was on the other foot ...

And a hippy doom monger said "There's the caveat that this 10-year time series is too short to really understand long-term behavior," you'd slate them.

I want doomsayers to be wrong but I don't think anything in this is particularly great news.

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Lewis Cartman

“Hippies, hippies... they want to save the world but all they do is smoke pot and play frisbee!”

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Re: Lewis Cartman

"You will respect my wahmist debunking articah!"

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Facepalm

Another tiresome fingers-in-the-ears tirade

"In short, the study indicates that even the four inch prediction is now looking very much on the high side. We are told:

The scientists saw no clear indication in the new research that the glaciers will stop gaining speed during the rest of the century, and so by 2100 they could reach or exceed the scenario in which they contribute four inches to sea level rise."

I read-and re-read that block quote and can see no way in which it actually supports Lewis' assertion. What it actually states is that there is no evidence of the glaciers slowing down and that the four inches is liekly an underestimate.

Once again, we have an irrational spin put on climate science by those who are not scientists, and clearly don't understand a thing they are talking about.

What next Lewis? Are you going to start denying other points of scientific consensus. Why not join the anti-evolutionist creationist nutters, or better still try to deny gravity, or tell us how you believe the stong nuclear force doesn't exist and that protons are held together with bees wax?

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Re: Another tiresome fingers-in-the-ears tirade

Glad it's not just me.. I read that back about 6 times trying to see how he'd got that conclusion from it.

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Re: Another tiresome fingers-in-the-ears tirade

Glad it's not just me who couldn't make the quote fit the story. It's definitely saying "we don't think the glaciers are going to stop accelerating", right?

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Re: Another tiresome fingers-in-the-ears tirade

You seem to think Lewis and Orlowski actually read the comments and listen to feedback [as opposed to what they actually do, not read them and post what they feel like]. I wonder if they are in fact the same keyboard warrior, screaming brainless drivel at all who have open minds.

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Meh

no clear indication... that the glaciers will stop gaining speed

That sentence stood out to me too, and did not seem to accord with the thrust of LP's latest uninformed rant.

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Re: no clear indication... that the glaciers will stop gaining speed

I get the impression a lot of these 'global warming's a myth' articles that Lewis has been posting with monotonous regularity have been pre-digested by fellow denialists and we're getting the dumbed down version of the dumbed down partisan take on nuanced science.

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Re: Another tiresome fingers-in-the-ears tirade

Yup, I read it three or four times and came to the conclusion that the operative word in the block quote is "could", and then it depends on your interpretation. The scientists *may* be saying that the rate of slide will slow and that even so there is still a chance that the 4 inch lower limit of rise may still be breached. In that case they may also be saying that less than 4 inches is also possible.

Either way, it's a hell of a lot less than Al Gore or Greenpeace have been regularly touting.

I think that 10 years data is not enough to form a definitive conclusion, though it is interesting.

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Happy

Re: Another tiresome fingers-in-the-ears tirade

They both read comments. Lewis had a good 'ol toys out of pram at me a couple of years back about one of my comments. Orlowski intercepts them so that he can filter out and act on typo, grammar and link corrections without the ignominy of them appearing here.

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Holmes

Question

This question isn't exactly linked to this story, but it's climate-related so maybe one of my fellow commentards can enlighten me:

As far as I can make out, the global temperature record that predates direct measurement is worked out using proxies, and the most widely-quoted / referenced proxy that I have seen being used is ice-core records. Now, by definition, ice-core records can only be accurate for locations that have been consistently frozen for hundreds of thousands of years. So how can this proxy be extended to the whole globe? How can we calculate a global average temperature if we only measure the coldest points?

Many Thanks in advance

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Re: Question

You're right that they only contain a direct record of the climate at the place where the snow fell. Similarly, ocean core samples only contain a direct record of ocean temperature and tree rings only contain a direct record of forest temperatures. The estimates of global temperature are an interpolation between the various proxie records using models based on direct measurement.

It's a pretty uncontroversial method. It's more robust than, say, the way paleontologists interpolate from a handful of fossils to tell you how big a dinosaur was and when it roamed the earth.

The ice cores also contain samples of the gases and particles in the atmosphere at the time the snow fell which are another record of the broader climate.

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Silver badge

Just a little criticism...

Here's a key passage from the article linked to (it's paragraph 3):

"The faster the glaciers move, the more ice and meltwater they release into the ocean. In a previous study, scientists trying to understand the contribution of melting ice to rising sea level in a warming world considered a scenario in which the Greenland glaciers would DOUBLE their velocity between 2000 and 2010 and then stabilize at the higher speed, and another scenario in which the speeds would INCREASE TENFOLD and then stabilize." (EMPHASIS ADDED.)

Here's a passage from the fourth paragraph:

"At the lower rate (i.e. DOUBLING of velocity), Greenland ice would contribute about four inches to rising sea level by 2100 and at the higher rate (i.e. a TENFOLD INCREASE in velocity) the contribution would be nearly 19 inches by the end of this century. "(EMPHASIS ADDED.)

Here's a passage from paragraph 2:

"So far, on average we're seeing about a 30 percent speedup in 10 years.."

Putting this all together, we get what would seem to be a 1.3" increase in sea levels.

To me it is pretty clear that the point of this article and the original article was not sufficiently delineated.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Another tiresome fingers-in-the-ears tirade

And yet again, somehow the article gets a "so-so" (average?) score. Who is up voting those down votes for errors? :D

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FAIL

Re: Another tiresome fingers-in-the-ears tirade

Good call on reminding me to go back and give most of LP and AO climate change denial articles a one. There are many valid criticisms of some climate science but these two seldom publish more anything but opinion and hearsay based on very small out of context quotes or dodge sources altogether.

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Re: Another tiresome fingers-in-the-ears tirade

Orlowski definitely reads the comments - he deletes comments that he doesn't like.

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Re: Another tiresome fingers-in-the-ears tirade

Did any of you read the research paper rather than just choose to argue with the comment Page chose to pick out?

One of the challenges all scientists face is that they cannot say with any certainty anything about the future. Funny that. On the other hand, there is no restriction (or restraint shown) shooting the messenger. Or on alarmists claiming any irrational conclusion that suits their purpose. Each and every one of you chose to lambast the choice of quote but not one chose to agree that 7m by the end of the century may have been wide of the mark and unhelpfully alarmist.

Personally I think that alone shows an unwarranted bias and lack of judgement.

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FAIL

Re: Another tiresome fingers-in-the-ears tirade

> shooting the messenger

Its only shooting the messenger if he is delivering a message from someone else instead of posting his opinion as the message. In which case intellectually yes I say bias and kicked the dribble down the bottom less pit. Pointing out these clowns inaccuracies has been done many times by many others before and not worth the time to do yet some more. Their dribble will come regardless.

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"this comparatively reassuring picture"

As much as I hate the AGW fear-mongerers, the zealotism concerning AGW and the endless debates about the validity of someone's references on this matter, I see nothing that makes me believe that this "picture" is all that "reassuring".

Climate, and meteorology in general, is the most complex and the least well-understood branch of science. We have precious little experience (barely a century's worth), and the variables that influence the subject are innumerable, out of our control and, most often, out of our technical ability to measure.

We base our computer models on what we think is representative, then derive conclusions from those models without double-checking the source data. Then our governments go spending billions we don't have (due to our already bloated, loan-based budgets) to enforce measures that may or not have an impact on something we don't really understand.

Let's keep on measuring, evaluating and improving our understanding, hmm ? It's the only way to learn, and zealots be damned.

Especially since there seems to be some dispute about how glaciers form, which would totally throw into disarray the ice-dating techniques we've been using to derive data about historical climate conditions.

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Re: "this comparatively reassuring picture"

"We base our computer models on what we think is representative, then derive conclusions from those models without double-checking the source data."

That's unlike any computer modelling i've heard of, or implemented. Can you explain why you think this is true, or is it just a feeling of yours ?

"Let's keep on measuring, evaluating and improving our understanding, hmm ? It's the only way to learn, and zealots be damned."

That's a very good idea - it's called science.

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@Pascal Monett

Well that well reasoned public post is certainly going to disqualify YOU from getting any grants in the future.

More's the pity, since people like you OUGHT to be the ones making the grants.

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Mr. Parker,

You wish for an explanation on why I think our computer models are wrong ? Fine, here is what I base my opinion on :

This study seems to indicate that glaciers are melting for reasons not directly linked to climate change, due to an as-of-yet unknown glacier melting phenomenon. Since it is not known of yet, it cannot have been implemented in the models.

This study claims that polar ice loss is "incredible", and suitably goes on about how the situation paints a dire picture for future sea levels.

Unfortunately, this paper claims that the sea level rise is nothing new, nor is it adequately explained and the data does not support the coastal apocalypse scenario some people like to bandy about.

Some confusion evidently abounds.

Then you have the field of proxy measurement. As stated in this article, "Instrumental measurements are the gold standard, but there aren't enough of them for truly satisfactory science." That clearly means that we know we cannot adequately measure everything (which I understand), so we choose something we can measure and decide on its validity in pointing to what we want to measure (which I can understand as well).

The unfortunate side-effect of this method is that we base our models on these proxies, and derive multi-billion-dollar policies based on the results of said models, until one fine day we find out, as pointed out in the first article I cited, that our proxy is governed by something we had no knowledge of.

Now let me put one thing straight : I am not disputing the methods, nor am I putting in question the existence of the models. We need the models, we need to simulate and evaluate with what we have, and I am sure that said models are updated as new events arise.

What I do dispute is pissing away billions without knowing what the effect will be, and there is nothing in meteorology today that tells me we know where we are going. So let's cut the hype, lock the zealots in their padded chambers and think rationally in a quiet atmosphere, hmm ?

Then we will be more able to make the right decision, instead of deciding things based on what the most heavily-funded lobby wants to push for.

That is all.

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Re: Mr. Parker,

"You wish for an explanation on why I think our computer models are wrong ? "

No - I asked you why you thought

"We base our computer models on what we think is representative, then derive conclusions from those models without double-checking the source data."

..with the emphasis on why you think that the source data is not double-checked. The articles you list don't address that

- the first is a paper about the effect of wind accelerating a known glacial melt condition

- the second is an observational paper

- the third is a press piece from the Global Warming Policy Foundation (forgive me if I don't give that much credence)

The quote from the fourth article (measurement) is accurate, as is your discussion of it (IMO) up until your assessment of how proxies effect the models and hence the spending (of which I agree on some points, but not all). However the quote does not really do the article justice, and perhaps lends a different tone than intended by the author. Here are some other quotes from there...

"The next step is to assemble the proxy data and use it to make estimates for the whole globe, or at least the northern or southern hemisphere. This step requires more assumptions and the liberal use of statistical methods. But even a fuzzy picture, which is what we get in the end, is better than no picture at all."

"There is no getting around it: the 20th century shows an outsized, unprecedented climb in global average temperature at the same time that greenhouse gases have exceeded any level known in the past half-million years (as far back as we can see as of today). "

"GCMs are useful for analyzing the climate system. Researchers tweak them, and the data they feed on, in many different ways to weigh the influence of forcing factors, and to estimate how the internal climatic variations would respond to different forcings. Many of the parameters, the numbers used to represent various factors in the complex real world, are poorly constrained by the data and are being studied in elaborate experiments."

..and at the end, and perhaps most interesting in view of your comments about modelling..

"Imperfect as they are, [General Circulation Model]s are our best tool for helping us assess the reliability of the climate record. And they are our only tool for modeling the possible climates of the future. The picture they draw is a hazy one, but it points firmly toward further warming for several centuries to come. And it points squarely at human input of greenhouse gases as the basic cause.

This knowledge does not automatically translate into a set of policy choices. Climate scientists can help in assessing the possible choices, but they cannot determine those choices. Only political systems can do that. There is a wide range of legitimate debate, but questioning the science is no longer legitimate.

I have gained a great deal of clarity on the science of this topic from the rigorous and thorough review by Jones and Mann in the June 2004 Reviews of Geophysics. I was once a typical skeptic, but am not one now."

You subsequently say

"So let's cut the hype, lock the zealots in their padded chambers and think rationally in a quiet atmosphere, hmm ? "

I agree totally with this, and this is what the vast majority of the science is trying to do (as far as I can see) - the zealotry and mis-information is largely coming from elsewhere, and from both sides, don't get me started on that..

"Then we will be more able to make the right decision, instead of deciding things based on what the most heavily-funded lobby wants to push for."

That would be nice, however given how things work for pretty much everything else - i'm not holding my breath.

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Anonymous Coward

I never believe anything I hear. I didn't believe it would happen and don't believe it couldn't.

Waste of public money.

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I'm just waiting for a look back at Fukushima from Mr Page - did he get it right? Wrong? Middling?

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Gold badge

I give him a middling to right myself.

A shade on the optimistic side, as it looks like there are some significant long-term contamination effects locally, but a damned sight closer to how things turned out than the frenzied doommongering from pretty much every other source.

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WTF?

more precipitation -> more high level ice deposited

It's not as if much melting above 2000m is expected anytime soon. A warmer wetter world means more snow at the top of high altitude icecaps, including Himalayas, Western Antarctic and the top of Greenland. Much depends upon how this effect exceeds or is exceeded by more rapid melting and flow at sea level. Don't think we've got much of a clue yet, this research should help.

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Happy

Let's see...

Quote mining - check.

Conclusions bearing no resemblence to evidence cited - check

Ignoring all evidence to the contrary - check.

Personal side-swipes - check.

Lewis Page, you have officially passed the requirements - your articles can be accepted for publication by the Discovery Institute. Congratulations!

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Silver badge
FAIL

English comprehension FAIL

What the scientists said:

"The scientists saw no clear indication in the new research that the glaciers will stop gaining speed during the rest of the century, and so by 2100 they could reach or exceed the scenario in which they contribute four inches to sea level rise."

is the exact opposite of the conclusion Lewis Page reaches:

"In short, the study indicates that even the four inch prediction is now looking very much on the high side. "

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FAIL

I do like reading the global warming articles alternately confirming/debunking theories on what is happing or going to happen next, and I have reached a conclusion from them all:

We haven't a f'kin clue what's going to happen, and that lack of `a clue` increases the further forward in time we go...

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JC_

Bollocks. We have more than a clue about what's going on and it's the theory of AGW. The "debunking theories" are diversionary hypotheses and invariably proven wrong.

Not all articles are created equal, or else we'd be wavering between evolution and creationism, round-earth and flat-earth, gravity and intelligent-falling...

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Great news

Now we can get Vikings back in Greenland and, with luck, they can raid Boston and kill their sports fans.

I, for one, am all for it.

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Re: Blinkers and cherry-picking

Exactly, I bet they think they're great because people are taking 30 seconds out of their work day to call them, I bet they think because people call them out so often that they must be right.

The opposite is the case on all counts, we mock them both because they are so petty, vindictive and childish.

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Unhappy

Re: Blinkers and cherry-picking

It's a shame really - I gave a lot of credence to Lewis's early Reg posts on defence-related issues. He has a solid background in the area, and while there was always an irreverent style to his writing it did sound like he knew what he was talking about and was talking sense.

His frothings on environmental issues have been quite different, though; initially they looked reasonable in themselves, but looking at articles covering the same issues on other sites it became clear that Lewis was quoting fragments out of context and seriously misrepresenting things. More recently he's been doing what he's done in this article, which is quote the original research then draw completely incompatible conclusions from it and (presumably) hope no one will notice.

And given the lack of rigour demonstrated in the environmental articles, I no longer trust anything defence related he comes out with, either. :(

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Thumb Down

It looks worth measuring what is happening

And this article does not add anything.

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Silver badge

So there was goint to be a two meter rise

of which 9.3->46.7 cm rise was due to the glaciers.

And now the worst case contribution from the glaciers is unlikely to happen.

So its only up to your chest now. Fuck all to worry about there. So long as your 4x4 still has a snorkel.

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More trolling from Lewis

I'm trying to be as objective as possible on the whole global warming thing, listening to both sides, but Lewis, your language is infantile and disgraceful. Get a grip.

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Anonymous Coward

Lewis didn't pick his quote to well.

According to the original article scientists previously predicted (using models) that Greenland glaciers would speed up between 2000 and 2010 by 10x in the worst case and 2x in the best. The higher rate results in 19 inches increase and the lower rate in a 4 inch increase in sea level by 2100.

Since the decade has now passed, these scientists measured how fast it has sped up and it is less than 2x, it is 30%. This means that any increase will be less than 4 inches.

The quote Lewis picked:

The scientists saw no clear indication in the new research that the glaciers will stop gaining speed during the rest of the century, and so by 2100 they could reach or exceed the scenario in which they contribute four inches to sea level rise."

is the scientists saying "Real world data disagrees with the model that predicted a minimum speed increase of 2x, but despite that we are going to claim the model is right in predicting 4 or more inches of increase in sea level". This is hardly surprising since the author is only a PhD student and going against any alarmist dogma can be hazardous to your career

I have yet to find the original paper this article is based one so I don't know what methods they used to calculate the 30% and what the error range is for the figure.

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Anonymous Coward

I read it as "2x over 100 years total" not "2x over 10 years total". So a 30% over 10 years fits the "so by 2100 they could reach or exceed the scenario in which they contribute four inches to sea level rise" comment.

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Anonymous Coward

No its 2x over 10 years. From the original article

"would double their velocity between 2000 and 2010 "

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Stop

¨US government funded scientists have measured..."

You lost my credibility at that point and I didn't read on.

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Coat

no wonder

Hippie women are confused, they where told it was 7 metres, turns out it was only 4 inches.

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FAIL

With Lewis Paige yet again caught lying in a Register Article, one wonders why he remains employed.

Due to his dishonest ranting and the never ending stream of nonsense and dishonesty from Andrew Orlowski, I find myself increasingly suspicious that the other articles in the Register are of equal "quality".

In terms of being a reliable source of information I now rank the Register 2 out of 10, and my visits here are growing ever less frequent.

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Paris Hilton

What is it with this bashing of hippies nowadays?

I don't get it, why has hippie become a derogatory word? Why are the ideals of peace, love and understanding so unpopular? I, for one, think they are among the best ideals we could have! "Peace", well everyone except the military-industrial complex wants that! "Love", must be popular! Not just sexual, but also brotherly and above all humane feelings towards each other are the basis of empathy and any sort of society at all. "Understanding" is our main tool in the world! I have always taken El Reg's readers and journalists as people who truly want to understand both things and humanity!

I believe strongly in hippie-ness, and I am proud of it!

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Silver badge
FAIL

Some of you fail epically at reading comprehension...

Here's Lewis Page's actual argument in a nutshell, explained quite clearly in the opening paragraphs:

"US government funded scientists have measured the speed of glaciers in Greenland as they move down to the sea over the past ten years, and discovered that - while the glaciers have speeded up somewhat - there's no indication that this will mean <u>major</u> sea level rises."

I've emphasised the crucial point: that Lewis Page was referring to the hyperbolic claims of "major" sea level rises made by the alarmists. Specifically, the flagrantly alarmist Greenpeace assertion:

"Just a few years ago, the fearmongering hippies* at Greenpeace were bandying a wild figure of seven metres about"

That's "seven metres". That assertion was very much made by the AGW alarmist camp. Unlike climate change in general, the fact that Greenpeace actually said that cannot be denied. There's incontrovertible evidence for it and both sides freely admit that the statement was made by that group.

(NOTE: That there are equally fanatical weirdos on the other side does not change the fact that, with friends like Greenpeace, the pro-AGW people really don't need enemies.)

*

Now, to the paragraph written by Lewis that appears to have confused so many readers. First, Lewis Page's point:

"In short, the study indicates that even the four inch prediction is now looking very much on the high side."

Read that in context with the rest of the article and you'll see it is perfectly correct. The subsequent quote is clearly not referring to the utterly disproved alarmist assertion that sea level would rise by "seven metres". It is merely asserting that if the glaciers continue to speed up, they could reach or exceed the "four inches" sea level increase. That's a handful of inches or so. We're clearly not talking about many feet or metres here.

As that Greenpeace quote makes clear, a four-inch increase was very much the low-end estimate, not the high-end.

That is what Lewis Page was saying. Clearly, the alarmists were wrong.

Some of you clearly need to work on your reading comprehension skills, because there really isn't anything confusing about the article.

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Silver badge

Re. the "Deniers" insult.

That the climate is changing is not—and never has been—in dispute by anyone on either side of the debate, so referring to people like myself as "deniers" or "denialists" isn't just wrong, it makes you like like a wilfully ignorant, and thus rather stupid, six-year-old child.

The Earth's climate has been changing for the entire lifetime of this planet, so the issue of how it might change in the future has played a role in humanity's own history. In the brief period we consider as "recorded history"—some ten thousand or so years—entire coastal towns and villages have been eroded away by the sea, despite the fact that the Industrial Revolution only began in the late 1700s. So sea level changes can't be entirely be due to cars, farting cows and factory chimneys.

The real debate should therefore be about the following:

1. What do we know about how the Earth's climate actually works?

Some people clearly think that we know enough to make predictions about seven-metre sea level rises by the year 2100. Predictions that are already looking rather shaky.

2. Is there any need to panic?

The "alarmists" would (obviously) reply, "yes". Again, I, and many others, happen to disagree. We're not seeing "The Day After Tomorrow"-type changes so far, and even Lewis Page's article is only talking about sea level rises measured in mere inches over a period of eighty years. That's plenty of time, even when politicians are involved.

I believe the alarmist approach is actually counterproductive, precisely because of the lesson offered in the tale of "The Boy Who Cried 'Wolf!'" itself. Set off the alarms too often and people will start to ignore them. If, at some point in the future, a genuine cause for alarm should occur, the alarmists will have ensured that nobody will pay it the blindest bit of notice until it is too late. Brilliant!

*

Nobody has ever claimed to like pollution. It smells bad, causes health problems (that end up costing the public actual money), it lowers property prices, and, for factory and power plant owners, it's a very clear indicator of inefficiencies in their processes. The more efficient a factory is, the less pollution it creates. Therefore, there is already plenty of incentive to improve these inefficient processes.

I'm even in favour of building more nuclear power plants. Not in earthquake-prone regions, obviously; the French have the right idea, but I don't expect to see new nuclear power plants appearing in Italy or Japan any time soon. On the other hand, the Italians would benefit far more from solar PV than the British, although the latter would do well to focus more on solar heating panels.

Horses for courses. Right tools for the job. Etc.

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Coffee/keyboard

The Page Rule holds True

If the by line is Lewis Page and the subject is climate change then the content is crap.

So far so good but now we've reached a weird new place. Is this guy having some kind of mental event or something? He's actually moved on from cherry picking to something we might call inverted cherry picking. Why would he include a quote in his article that directly contradicts his article FFS?

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