OK, so levels of atmospheric CO2 are rising through 0.0004 (or 400 parts per million) at the moment. Disaster, right? The last time the world saw carbon levels like this, some three million years ago, the mighty ice sheets of Greenland and the Antarctic had melted from the heat and the seas were 35 metres higher than they are …
I only have a rudimentary understanding of plate techtonics and glacial movement, and even I know that the surface of the planet moves up and down as the plates shift.
Sure, its not like we wake up daily and find the beach is now a mountain, but over billions of years, things change.
Very odd that scientists have supposedly ignored this.
However! Is this guy saying that in a mere 3 million years, the surface has moved by 35m? Really? Seems a lot in that short a time frame.
I make that 11.6 microns per year... not exactly mind-bendingly fast
35m in 3 million years is 11 micrometres / year
Tectonic plates move at around 1-10 centimetres / year
Not fast really - it's just a *long* time...
If in doubt, do a quick Google.
"In the Upper Cretaceous (84 Ma), the Indian plate began its very rapid northward drift at an average speed of 16 cm/year, covering a distance of about 6000 km, until the collision of the northwestern part of the Indian passive margin with Eurasia in early Eocene time (48-52 Ma). Since that time and until today, the Indian continent continues its northwards movement at a slower but still surprisingly fast rate of ~ 5 cm/year.
So the Himalayas started to grow into a mountain range about 50 million years ago."
So, yes, I'd say that's plausible, given that 50m years ago we didn't have the Himalayas and now they have the world's highest mountain on them. In 3m years, by comparison, a few metres seems to be nothing.
35m in 3M years is slow..
The whole Himalayan mountain range (including small hills like Everest and K2) is only 50 million years old. They are basically the "crease" caused by India moving north very fast (in plate tectonic terms) north at 5cm per year, and crashing into Asia.
That's not a lot considering that land is rising with up-to 1 cm / year in Scandinavia. Just during my 30 years I can see the difference.
35m is only 35 000 cm. So that is a average of 10 micro meters per year to accomplish that.
But as you say scientist ignores unfortunately a lot of factors, no different situation in this one.
A "mere" 3 million years? The Himalayas were not around until the dinosaurs weren't: Everest is probably only about 60MY old (~20 times older than this) and it is now over 8.8km above sea level (~250 times more movement). Almost all human development has happened in the last 10% of this time, so just because you can say it quickly, don't forget to really think about how long it is.
Just to throw something else in, (and because I am not sure if it would make that much off a difference) would the fact that the moon would have been closer also have made a difference? With my calculations using the speed the moon is moving away today, it would have been 11Km closer 3 million years ago.
Would this affect sea levels much? I am not sure can some astro boffin save my poor head?
>>> That's not a lot considering that land is rising with up-to 1 cm / year in Scandinavia. Just during my 30 years I can see the difference.
Just to be pedantically accurate, in Scandinavia that's primarily due to post-glacial rebound, not so much tectonic movements. However, it could well be that the same phenomenon applies to a some of the sea-rise data, so the point stands.
114km assuming constant regression rate.
The current distance is ~384,400km.
So the difference is 0.03%
I thought this was relatively well known also? Scotland is known to be rising and the South of England is sinking (perhaps due to the weight of all the wine bars?).
This must have come up during peer review??
"That's not a lot considering that land is rising with up-to 1 cm / year in Scandinavia. Just during my 30 years I can see the difference."
That would be the very slow rebound from all that ice from the last ice age having gone... Scotland's still rising as well.
Can someone please get these looney scaremongering climatologists up to speed with modern geology... Plate Tectonics has been mainstream for decades now, what textbooks are they still using then? Ones from the 1950's?
They haven't ignored them. When I studied Ocean Science back in 2005, "Earth Science 101" (Year 1, Semester 1, the real basic stuff) covered the differences between Isostatic and Eustatic change pretty comprehensively (Eustatic = local mean sea level as a result of both Isostatic Sea Level Change and rise/fall of the landmass, with tides averaged out; Isostatic = actual change in the ocean levels as a result of changing the volume of the oceans).
It was looking at some of these improbable 30m tide marks that sparked off the development of glacial rebound theories in the first place!
For instance, the Isle of Wight appears to be suffering from sea level rise (BBC South Today love doing Global Warming stories about it). It's not, the south of the UK is sinking as a result of Scottish glacial rebound. One of my lecturers had a right hissy fit over that. He rang up every time they did such a story and gave the editor some abuse
"But we want a local global warming story"
"Well this isn't it"
"But we can't afford to fly to Bangladesh or the Netherlands and look at places within 1m of sea level which might actually disappear/become uninhabitable in the next century as a result of even quite modest SLR"
"Well stop with the bad science"
There are points which are *relatively* stationary because the tectonic plates are rotating around that point, or it happens to be at the middle of the see-saw as continents rebound. These are used as datums to assess actual isostatic changes. This is known, and has been for some time. It may be some older papers did not (or could not) account for it accurately because they didn't have good geode models (SRTM or ASTER (GDEM)). Our understanding of the manner in which the earth's surface moves (and subsequently affects the volume of the ocean basins and local coastal height above sea level has come on leaps and bounds just in the past decade or so.
Re: Ragarath Re: Really?
"....it would have been 11Km closer 3 million years ago." Thumbs up for thinking outside the box, though I'm not really sure 11km would make so much difference.
But at least you thought of it, so kudos to you. It seems the AGW crowd are so desperate to believe that they regularly "overlook" factors that have a negative impact on their faith. First it was clouds they overlooked in their climate models, now we have plate teutonics, all inconvenient truths (LOL!).
On the Moon front, I'm reminded of Edgar Rice Burroughs' "Pirates of Venus", where the hero's attempt at rocket flight to Mars is thrown off track by the mistake of forgetting to include the Moon in the calculations. It seems we have far too many scientists happily screaming about AGW without considering very basic and fundamental factors, and if we listen to them we're going to end up somewhere very different from where we intended, and I somehow don't think our "Venus" will have a beautiful princess as a consolation prize.
I only have a rudimentary understanding of plate techtonics and glacial movement
A couple of years working in government ought to fix that.
(Strangely my first reply never seems to have made it on to the page)
'Very odd that scientists have supposedly ignored this.'
They've not ignored it, they didn't think there were significant changes in elevation on the Eastern Seaboard. The ES is considered a passive margin - that is it is effectively tectonically inert - it is not being actively rifted (like the Red Sea) and being extended; subducted and shortened (like the Pacific coast of South America); or sheared (like California). So geologists have previously treated the Mantle, which is at least 60km deep under the ES, as a rigid block in isostatic equilibrium. As such it was reasonable to assume high terraces and wave cut platforms were the result only of changes in sea level.
However, improved seismic techniques have allowed them to calculate the velocity of waves passing through the Upper Mantle and it is not behaving homogeneously, instead some parts under the ES appear to be less dense suggesting the Upper Mantle under a passive margin is not entirely rigid and may be convecting slowly. This is likely to have surface effects, so some of the wave cut platforms along the ES have been pushed up by deep processes and are not wholly due to higher sea levels.
What Lewis' article neglects to say is that the ES isn't the only evidence of high sea levels 3Mya in the World. It has been the benchmark (ahem) in the past because of its excellent exposure. But there are others. What will need to be done is to try and get a better estimate of the actual magnitude of the rise. This new knowledge has made that much harder.
What I find interesting as a geologist is that the ES gets infrequent massive earthquakes which are poorly understood. This might help clarify the situation somewhat.
Re: Really? @ annosomini2
Thanks for the correction. I missed a zero off when I typed in 3 million.
A closer moon would increase the tidal range (lower low tides and higher high tides) and therefore also increase the rate of coastal erosion. A closer moon would have no effect on mean (mid-tide) sea level.
Re: Would this affect sea levels much?
Sea levels per se, no. But you are on the right track for an important correction since what they are using as a proxy is the high tide level. And that will be affected, although I'm not sure how much.
Another problem is knowing how the coastal shape has changed. There are parts of the New England coast with huge variations in sea level because a large amount of tide water is being forced into a narrow channel. Vary the channel width small amounts and you vary the tide height even more.
There is evidence of sudden level changes in the form of certain estuaries. Sea level fell quite fast, geologically speaking, creating a new steep run for the river down into the sea. The resulting fast-moving water caused rapid erosion of a steep-sided valley. Then sea-level rose again, and the valley flooded with seawater, preserving its steep underwater form because erosion below the low-tide level is very slow. Take a look at Dartmouth or the Wye. It's very unlikely that the level of the UK land-mass could change fast enough to account for this.. The UK is geologically pretty stable (large earthquakes are rare, for example). The Andes are an example of rapidly-changing land levels - frequent catastrophic earthquakes, river-flows reversed in their valleys, and beaches raised tens of metres in mere thousands of years, as noted by Darwin. BTW glaciation creates a straight-ish U-shaped valley (or fjord), river erosion creates a wiggly V-shaped valley, so we can tell these southern estuaries aren't the result of glacier erosion.
One can also calculate what sea-level will be if all the ice-caps melt. At the very least, that should put you off investing in any land or property anywhere near to present sea-level! More seriously, the worst-case scenario is so bad that I do think we ought to heed the precautionary principle before it's too late.
Worst-case is permafrost thawing releasing methane causing global warming causing more permafrost thawing ... a positive feedback loop that won't stop until all the permafrost has thawed. There is geological evidence that such runaway warming events have happened several times in recent geological history. There is also geological evidence that the long-term stable (say 30Myear-average) situation for the Earth is with no large ice-caps at all and a MUCH warmer climate regulated by percentage cloud cover. Ice causes instability and positive feedback loops. We live in climatologically interesting times.
... can the study be used to fuel Al Gore's $LARGEJET?
If yes, the study will be applauded. If no, I'll get several hundred "thumbs down".
you get a thumbs down
for trying to game the rating system
Prince Charles isn't going to like this.
The models were wrong? Say it's not so!
GIGO- as true today as it's always been...
Am I the only one
who had assumed they had accounted for shifting of the rock itself, or that it wasn't an issue in this case?
Is not about proving that you are right, it's about not being proven wrong.
All this Climate nonsense at the moment follows two camps. Those scientists who are trying to prove climate change exists and we're all going to wind up 50ft under water, and those who believe it doesn't exist, or at least not to the degree climate change believers make it appear.
So far looking through these papers, the climate believers spend much of their time ignoring fact, skirting around subjects and manipulating data to prove their theories correct. The climate non-believers then release one paper along the lines of this, which doesn't skirt around the facts, doesn't prove climate change doesn't exist, but merely disproves that it exists to the degree the believer want you to think it exists.
Personally I'm of the camp that climate change is mostly bunk. The earth revolves over millions of years, every now and then we move closer or further from the sun. Over time this changes weather patterns and that's most probably what's causing the current 'climate change' we're seeing.
Has this theory been proven? Partially, it's been proven as a possibility. Has it been disproven? No, And that's what scientific theory is about.
Of course I do agree with some points of the believers. I do believe that we should work to lower carbon emmisions, and we should work towards more carbon neutral or greener forms of energy production where capable. But this is simply for a health point of view, rather than a we're all going to die a watery death point of view.
Also lewis what took you so long. It's been a day at least since that post about the crock cooks 'research'
I mean seriously, his research is the kind of bullshit which gets us "9 out of 10 people who eat fried chicken say they really like fried chicken"
The article may as well have been. "cook cherry picked a collection of studies by climate believers and found that the vast majority proved climate change was a real thing, ignoring the fact that many of those papers are almost identicle studies whcih have been disproven already"
Re: Scientific Theory
Amazing. For a pretty balanced posting, why the 2 downvotes. The AGW followers are clearly downvoting anyone who even remotely claims or backs anything but AGW.
Personally, I believe mankind has a built-in superiority complex that makes us believe we must be responsible for everything. That's not to say it's often true, but that doesn't make us responsible for absolutely everything. I've always believed that nature is far more powerful than we'll ever be. Volcanoes, earthquakes, weather etc. prove this.
I don't really know what's happening with the climate at the moment, but I've not really seen anything credible (to the point of reasonably proven) from either side. Bearing in mind the state we're currently in, it seems rather stupid to be spending huge quantities of money on trying to stop something which is way too big for us to stop. It's also irrelevant as the majority of CO2 output in the future will come from countries with absolutely no intention of doing anything about it. So, why bankrupt outselves when we're going to have no or little effect?
Better to simply roll with it. If the sea levels rise a bit, move inland some. If weather gets hotter or cooler, we can change things to accommodate. Rather than trying to keep earth exactly the same all the time and ideal for us, why don't we realise that the earth actually changes naturally and accept this. People thousands of years ago used to live WITH nature and accepted it's changing moods and simply moved with it. Now, we expect to change nature to keep it the same, something we can never do. We're living AGAINST nature.
Now, none of this says that recycling or trying to save energy isn't the right way to go. We should, of course, try to conserve resources and live as sustainably as possible. However, we're burning money and bankrupting ourselves on things that will never really provide this or are too uneconomic. Wind turbines, smart meters etc. are all part of this. Without huge subsidies, they simply wouldn't fly. Let's do what we can in a sensible way and use the money left over to fund projects that will provide long term results and might actually make everyones lives better in the long run.
Re: Scientific Theory
I think you mis-understand how science works. I know quite a few climate scientists and every one of them would love to be able to prove that Global Warming isn't happening, why? Well, when you publish that paper, with definitive proof, you're made for life. It would be an Einstein or Galileo moment - you know, those handful of names in history who have overturned scientific orthodoxy?
You also don't get funding for a piece of research if you write a proposal or title along the lines of "Prove that global warming is happening and that we're all going to end up 30m under water" that's just not how funding works.
Re: Scientific Theory
No but writing a title of "Examining the corollation between CO2 levels and water levels over the past milennia" will get research funding, even though you've already pinholed exactly what you're researching.
You aren't looking to provide evidence you're correct, you're applying the theory that you know exists. It's the same as teh cancer studies which find that 100% of people with cancer breath. It's a fact, but that doesn't mean the reverse is true and that cancer is caused by breathing. The same way CO2 levels and water rising aren't a good correlatory research subject. How do we know that a rise of sea level didn't affect CO2 levels by compressing the amount of CO2 in our atmosphere by taking up more of the atmospheric space.
By which I mean you have a container of gas, you then introduce water to that container. The gas becomes compressed. Although the same total amount of gas remains the same, the concentration increases.
These research papers aren't setting out to research whether Climate change is a factual occurance from a neutral stand point. They go out to prove that climate change is real, and in doing so they pigeonhole their research the same way a fanboy will pigeonhole his criticism of PS3 because he thinks xbox is a superior console.
Re: Those scientists who are trying to prove climate change exists
Most climate scientists are, in contrast, far too busy trying to dazzle each other with the brilliance of their physical insight regarding climate processes to be bothered with taking a political stance one way or the other. :-)
Re: Scientific Theory
Why do we want to reduce carbon emissions? It's plant food! Anyway how are you going to stop volcanoes, for one example, which are a natural source? Plants are at the lower end of the food chain and an integral part of the eco-system which supports animal life - including us. As a GHG water vapour is far more important and yet almost ignored in this argument about climate. When was the last time you heard anyone mention water vapour in this context? I know this argument generates a lot of steam! Though the sun gets pretty much overlooked too - which I find totally bizarre, particularly when one assumes we're dealing with intelligent people. Every ounce of common sense points at the sun and Earth's orbit as the main drivers of climate change. Or is it not trendy to say so? I don't think there's any such thing as an "unbeliever" where climate change is concerned. It's not a matter of belief is it? Climate changes with or without us, that's just a fact. I think the argument is about how much we've got to do with it. Outside of AGW pollution is a serious problem, particularly in the newest industrialized nations, but everyone has taken their eye off that ball because of the distractions from warmageddonites. Furthermore, every warming period within man's known history has coincided with prosperity and expansion. So, in a utopian world, the maths work out something like this: warmer climate equals richer and expanded plant life equals plentiful food supply equals higher survival rates plus surplus production equals trade expansion equals increased profits and higher wages equals higher living standards. Yippee! But then I suppose you have to add the negative factors all of which boil down to simple greed and jealousy and the lovely dream goes belly up...perhaps it IS time for another flood!!! ;-)
Re: Scientific Theory
What has been missing until recently have been the scientists who had access to accurate data that would let them challenge some of the more uninformed guesses that were common during the 90s. This paper is one of several published recently that chips away at the idea of catastrophic climate change.
Each time a paper shows that it's not as bad as we thought at first, it reinforces the opinions held by many economists that the measures being taken to mitigate climate change are almost certainly more costly than adapting to whatever change we will see.
What will be most interesting will be to watch the reaction of the 'climate establishment' as they try and spin these results into "nothing to see here, move along".
Re: Scientific Theory @AC 08:01
Your two camps of scientist are wrong.
In general, all scientists from most related disciplines agree that climate change is happening. What is in debate is whether this change is caused by man, or whether it is natural, and how far/fast it will happen.
I'm not a climate change sceptic. Climate change is happening, because it's always happened since the Earth formed. But how much change is caused by human impact, I'm not qualified to judge. It is probable that some is caused by us, but some is certainly natural.
It's the people who think that the just pre-industrial age climate should be taken as a benchmark for the rest of time that get me annoyed, because they just don't understand anything. And the people who think that a statement like "well, the weather wasn't like this when I was young" means anything in regard to climate change need educating, preferably with a large learning-bat!
I just wish that this debate was purely a scientific one. Once politicians got involved, it was always going to get messy and uncertain.
Re: Scientific Theory
"mankind has a built-in superiority complex that makes us believe we must be responsible for everything"
The complex is not about mankind being responsible it is about others being responsible. Talking the talk and making a few pathetically ineffective gestures allows you to point the finger of blame at and feel superior to anyone who isn't doing the same. Saving the entire planet - what better subject for a willy waving contest.
Mankind's other big problem is the propensity to believe any old shite as long as enough others believe it - the foundation of all religion and look how popular that is.
Re: Scientific Theory
There are no "two camps".
There are the vast majority of scientist who have actually studied climate and should know a thing or two about it. And then there are a number of people who haven't studied it, have no qualifications to demonstrate their opinion is of value, and base their proclamations on wishful thinking and guessing.
A recent study that looked at published climate research over the last 20 years (you know, people actually studying actual climate facts) found that 97.1% endorsed the consensus position that humans are causing global warming.
Pretending there are "two camps", with evenly matched opinions worth consideration, would be laughable if it wasn't so desperately wrong.
Re: Scientific Theory
"Pretending there are "two camps", with evenly matched opinions worth consideration, would be laughable if it wasn't so desperately wrong."
Simply slagging off the people you disagree with is the worst form of debate. Many, many times in history, the opinion of experts (and indeed groups of experts) has been shown to be wholly wrong. Given that many of today's 'experts' have also been shown to be manipulating the data in a somewhat less than open way (for instance in East Anglia) and why should we believe them. I'm not saying that some on the denier side have no case or rational thinking, but there are also some 'experts' who release reports which are hideously skewed and as said above, doctor the data.
So, the reality is that both sides are guilty of misrepresentation and 'playing' the game. Even the figures you state are doing this. 97.1% say that humans are causing global warming? Well, if they did, they're all stupid. Of course humans are having an impact and therefore could be deemed to be 'causing global warming'. However, what they have so far failed to show is whether this impact is 1% or 99%. If it's at the lower end of this scale, we probably don't really care much. If it's at the top, we do.
As has been stated many times before, the 'experts' constantly banging on about CO2 is also very unscientific. Yes, it may be the gas changing most in the atmosphere, but there are far more potent greenhouse gases changing as well that would cause more potential damage with their small changes, than with CO2s large change. However, that doesn't buy headlines does it. So, they go on about CO2 almost exclusively because they can quote large changes and big percentages which sound all better. Things such as methane and water vapour are a much bigger issue as greenhouse gases.
Re: majority of CO2 output in the future will come from countries
I think this is the bit that hacks me off the most about Warmists.
That full statement isn't actually true. If we really were committed to reducing CO2 levels, there are legitimate, legal ways to go about it. Each country could for example pass laws stating that good imported from other countries had to come from factories that met Standard X for carbon emissions or face import taxes calculated to be double or treble the cost of putting the mitigation in place. And you can require that the mitigation be monitored by government employees from the importing not exporting country.
Instead they make excuses for the major polluters to continue what they are doing. Sure there are tradeoffs. More pollution might mean more economic growth which could translate into fewer deaths from more easily controlled causes. It might even be immoral to choose CO2 reduction over killing humans. But it is a choice you could make.
Re: Scientific Theory
...I do believe that we should work to lower carbon emmisions, and we should work towards more carbon neutral or greener forms of energy production where capable. But this is simply for a health point of view...
Why? Lower CO2 emissions are nothing to do with health!
I would be with you if you said that we must stop emitting chemicals which are provably shown to cause damage. I think that it is likely that, other things being equal, we should work towards lowering emissions of chemicals which are alien to the local environment and might cause unwanted side effects, even if these are not fully understood yet.
But our biosphere runs a major CO2 cycle. Just like the Water cycle. It's not an alien chemical, it's totally benign and, in fact essential for life. Put a bit more into the environment - the plants eat a bit more. Nobody is claiming that we should cut back on water vapour - CO2 is similar. It's only the activists who are trying to make CO2 into some kind of poison gas...
Re: Scientific Theory
...I think you mis-understand how science works. I know quite a few climate scientists and every one of them would love to be able to prove that Global Warming isn't happening, why? Well, when you publish that paper, with definitive proof, you're made for life...
You may be 'made for life', but you'll be out of a job!
Of course, there ARE a number of climate scientists busily publishing papers showing that Global Warming theory has major holes in it. Lewis has just put a piece up advertising three of them. But they don't seem to be 'made for life'.
And the Cook piece about 97% of scientists supporting AGW? Popular Technology blog has two of those scientists pointing out that their papers were classified as supporting AGW when in fact they were pointing out big errors in it.
So I'm not sure I believe you when you say the Climate Scientists really want to disprove AGW. It rather looks as if any disproof of AGW will simply not be accepted....
Re: Scientific Theory
Simply slagging off people we disagree with is "the worst form of debate" ... but 97.1% of those in the debate are "all stupid". Hmmm....
I don't believe I did "slag off" anyone. But I generally find if 97.1% of experts in a field are agreed on one thing, and 2.9% say other things, it's very, very usual for the 97.1% to be right. Harking on about times when the majority have been wrong is a red-herring. Most of the time they are right, that's what makes the times they have been wrong particularly notable. There is nothing yet to suggest that this is one of these times.
The idea that you have noticed the effect of methane and water vapour, while 97.1% of climatologists either haven't considered this, or are wilfully ignoring it for their own selfish purposes, is insulting, ludicrous and very implausible. But I guess it might make sense if you believe they are "all stupid".
Re: Scientific Theory
"Popular Technology blog has two of those scientists pointing out that their papers were classified as supporting AGW when in fact they were pointing out big errors in it."
What the papers were doing isn't the point. It would be folly to try to determine a simple yes/no consensus based on interpretation of papers. So the study wrote directly to the authors of each paper and asked them, directly ; "Humans are causing Global Warming: yes or no". That is what they based their results on.
And there is a huge difference between suggesting global warming, the theory, has holes in it, and proving global warming, the phenomenon, isn't happening.
Cutting through the fluff, it's not that the sea levels definately didn't rise. It's just that we don't know.
Or is there something I've missed?
The default position of all science is "we don't know".
The point is to step into parts we CAN know and say "we now know".
That (supposedly) happened, but now someone else has said (more convincingly) "Actually, no. We don't know at all".
So we're back to where we started, the default position of all science. The problem is that some people will have you believe that for the last 50 years we've "known" when actually we haven't. We're just now getting to the point where some people are getting annoyed, doing proper science and saying "See? You're talking rubbish."
That's not to say the Earth isn't warming or the climate isn't changing. Those things are currently independent of some moron shouting their mouth off from bad data. Just because they say the sky is falling doesn't mean it is, or it isn't. Because they just DON'T KNOW.
Re: Sea levels are rising
I am a sceptic myself, because of all the conflicting data, once they have a decent model that fits the facts, then I will believe it all. Right now every models seems to fail, so while I agree there must be an effect from CO2 release, I doubt it is as big as the fear mongers are predicting...
I just think we need to be geo-engineering the planet more, Solar shades, reclaim deserts to grow plants (absorbe some of that CO2) and shift to 100% nuclear power (with electric/bio-diesel mining of course) THAT would help, moaning about CO2 release and trying to reduce it will do nothing in the long run, the USA wont listen, neither will China
Re: Sea levels are rising
Well, I've never upvoted Eadon before... Still, first time for everything...
"we do not know" "could be" "potential peril"
Would a wise man choose to jump on a new and potentially damaging course of action based on the certainty of the above words? Or would a wise man be sure-footed before taking his next step?
A wise man would be looking at time scales and deciding on a course of action based on how soon it's supposed to happen and what's happened in the past.
I.e. if someone said that the house they'd been living in for the last 30 years could burn down tomorrow they'd probably dismiss them. Equally if someone turned round and said it might rain next year they'd dismiss them. However if they said that it might rain tomorrow, the wise man may look out his umbrella just in case.
The same is true of climate change. Governments are taking action now because of the potential for problems "tomorrow", if the problems were going to be in 500 years time they would be doing diddly squat. And that's the line that science meets politics.
"Would a wise man choose to jump on a new and potentially damaging course of action based on the certainty of the above words? Or would a wise man be sure-footed before taking his next step?"
It just isn't that simple. If we waited for certainty all the time, the industrial revolution wouldn't have happened. Should we burn coal and produce steam? No, we aren't certain it's OK. Not taking chances would have left us in the caves of old. Would someone have ventured out of the cave? No. After all, it could be potentially damaging. Might be something dangerous out there.
You can't get certainty and sometimes you simply have to act. Given that many of the fundamental decisions were made in the past, we can't change them now. The question for us in Britain and Europe is whether we want to implement all these horrendously costly measures when nobody else in the world is really that interested and therefore only slow things a little? What's the cost to us? We potentially become completely non-competitive and our manufacturing declines to nothing at all. After all, we either don't have the energy to manufacture, or the energy is so expensive, manufacturing is financially not viable. Same for living here.
Sometimes, for practical reasons, you need to do something bad for a while before doing the good. Maybe, if we built some coal fired power stations etc. and kept the lights on, whilst investing the money from current renewables (and other 'subsidies') into truly long-term sustainable solutions, in 50 years, we really could turn the clock back? Instead, we're spending huge amounts in subsidies etc. supporting solutions that can never really work long-term and aren't the real solution. Anything who really thinks wind farms are a solution to energy generation are living on another planet. They simply generate too little, are uneconomic and require backup generation behind them in case the wind stops blowing!! Now, tidal and wave would be another matter, but for years they didn't get any investment as they were clearly going to be longer term, whereas wind farms could be done right now.
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