back to article Chinese coal blamed for global warming er... cooling

The refusal of the global temperatures to rise as predicted has caused much angst among academics. "The fact is that we can't account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can't," wrote one in 2009. Either the instruments were wrong, or the heat energy had gone missing somewhere. Now a team of …

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Joke

@JJz

You must despair waking up every morning to discover the world hasn't ended.

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Flame

Global Dimming

It's been known about for quite some time

http://www.bbc.co.uk/sn/tvradio/programmes/horizon/dimming_trans.shtml

and the Met Office include it in their model

http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climate-change/guide/science/explained/dimming

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Silver badge

Bah!

Historical evidence strongly suggests that large amounts of coal-fired industry = killer smog.

Thus the Chinese plan to outbreed us will be self limiting too! No more need we fear them all getting on stepladders and jumping off to cause Anti-Democracy Earthquakes in The West!

Since this will also mean an end to the moratorium of shipping forbidden stepladder technology across the Noodle Curtain, there is a considerable potential for Big Stepladder to make a killing too!

Win-win-win-win.

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Facepalm

well ..

let's presume man's activity changes the long term climate for a minute

US and Europe clean up the nasty aerosols and free hydrocarbons that create nasty smog starting in the '70s .. the skies clear up significantly, letting more sunlight in, and warm the planet from the late '70s until end of the 90's

Then China and India start taking off in a big way, both burning a lot more coal, oil, gasoline and natural gas, most often in less-than-clean ways that increase the aerosol sulfur and free hydrocarbons .. and the warming levels out and perhaps even decreases a bit

who woulda thunk it ? ( actually .. I've thought this a possibility for years )

of course the soot on the arctic ice will still melt that, which has been the primary reason for arctic ice melt all along

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Thumb Down

Aerosols = old news

The cooling effect of aerosols has been known for ages - it's the conventional explanation for the post-war cooling. But aerosols have a very short lifetime compared to CO2 - so the real question is what happens when the Chinese get fed up with smog and/or run out of coal...

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So Pollution causes BOTH warming and cooling

You can't have it both ways!

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Paris Hilton

re: So Pollution causes BOTH warming and cooling

yes, you are quite right.

That is one of the problems and finding model that does not seesaw to far from observed data is important?

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Anonymous Coward

Having it both ways

Actually you can have it both ways (not saying it is, just correcting a scientific misunderstanding) - look at clouds: we know clouds have a warming effect and also a cooling effect - in fact you can clearly experience this yourself, and probably have at various times.

You could experiment this yourself with a warm brick - put it in a pre-chilled cool box and it will have a warming effect - put it in a pre-heated oven and it will have a cooling effect.

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Mushroom

Right then

Time to roast some pandas over a big heap of coal, especially now I have run out of fridges to burn and all the local Prius owners have fled the area after the last news on declining solar activity.

It doesnt really matter what the science says, the governments will use to there own advantage regardless of reality.

We saw it with the JIll Dando Institute making up DNA retention research for 3 million quid and we have seen it with the UEA debacle as well.

How do you like your Panda steaks?

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Coat

Panda?

Meh - just tastes like chicken.

Polar Bear though - so moist and flavoursome!

(just off to the arctic bushmeat takeaway before it all the ice melts)

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Bronze badge
Unhappy

Yes, and...?

It does seem as if we have a warming trend globally. Now, it could be because of us humans. Or it could be because of something else. Or we may not even have a warming trend.

Regardless of the cause, we may be able to live with the consequences of increased temperatures. After all, the world hasn't come to an end when we killed off various species and severely altered many ecosystems. It is a big planet and we still live on it.

Problem is that we are far from _certain_ that increased temperatures will allow business as usual. The scientific community in general seems to think not. That same community seems to attribute warming to our emissions.

Yes, some of the global warming scientists have vested interests in scaremongering. Yes, many of the greens are just so happy at self-flagellation. Yes, some of the solutions being proposed are daft. Yes, some of them will also interfere with business-as-usual free market economic activity (which I support). Yes, some of this stuff may require personal lifestyle changes. Yes, this science is _very_ much in its infancy.

These are all valid objections, but it doesn't change the fact that we only have one planet available so a cautious person would aim to mitigate risk, rather than automatically attribute great wisdom to people whose opinion happens to coincide with whatever worldview they embrace. This is (imperfect) science and numbers, not economic or social values mumbo-jumbo.

Far as I can tell, many of the scientists who doubt climate change have cited particular hypotheses which deserved exploration. But the funny thing is that those hypotheses are almost immediately a) rejected by the mainstream and b) elevated to a much more robust status by the naysayers, especially when those naysayers are not scientists themselves.

Neither a) or b) is a particularly clever way to go about things, IMHO.

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Anonymous Coward

A cautious person would also not make *any* drastic changes

When you don't understand something and getting it wrong may be very hazardous, you make all changes as small as possible, then try to measure the result.

It seems quite reasonable that climate and ecosystem change could be very hazardous.

It is plausible that human activity is having an effect on global climate and ecosystems.

However, we don't actually know what human activities cause possibly hazardous changes or likely benign changes.

- In fact, according to the models, a rise in global mean temperature is not actually hazardous in itself, the hazards lie in the possible side-effects of said rise. Side effects that are not proven, merely estimates of very complex systems. Therefore quite likely to be wrong, at least in scale if not also in sign.

Therefore, we should only make small changes to our behaviour!

Maybe building windfarms and covering large areas with solar panels will cause much more hazardous changes to climate and/or ecosystems than burning coal to get the same energy ever would?

That said, it is pretty clear that improvements in overall efficiency is a good goal in itself - using less 'stuff' to do a given task is good, as there's clearly a limited supply of every kind of 'stuff'.

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Silver badge

Read the report

it bears little resemblance this article.

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FAIL

HAHA!

I detect a major "HAHA!" coming............

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Paris Hilton

Where's the Paris Angle?

Surely no sulfurous emissions here?

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Anonymous Coward

goldilocks time

It is worth remembering that the global climate is usually (i.e. for most of the planet's existence, past & future) much worse than it is at the moment - either most of the planet is frozen or it is a heat trap, and often the oxygen content is up/down by 5% on current levels. So whatever may or may not be at stake it is neither the planet nor its (long term) climate.

( It used to be thought that life acted as a moderating influence on this climatic variability, but as it is largely driven by physical attributes of the planet that idea is no longer in vogue afaik. )

I suspect the real reason for the growing resistance to the climate change lobby is simply that it has become a global commercial enterprise which is somehow entitled to take money directly from taxpayers (us) without any meaningful debate. As has been pointed out previously, in the EU this includes us paying for companies to lobby the EU to spend more of our money on a wide range of 'climate moderating' corporates and financial 'instruments' created by those geniuses at the banks & investment funds.

So people reckon its a financial stitch up, and any climate science gets tarred with the same brush - not helped by the interconnections between, say, the IPCC and those who seem to be coining it in. Also, of course, criticism of the money-making stuff quickly becomes described as 'denier' rantings as the standard 'play the man' method for avoiding the original issue raised - although reversing this ploy with 'follow the money' when someone pushes climate-related policies is not considered reasonable.

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Trollface

Its all about the money ....

Rest your weary souls, no need to get you knickers in a knot, ... sorry overuse of idioms.

Its about cuts in scientific spending so ProfA need to make more news than ProfB so that he will get the larger piece of the rapidly shrinking pie. There is no reality in all of this - it is about how "scientists" can bamboozle the illiteraty to give them more $$'s.

And yes, the stupid politicians (read illiteraty) who are always a few years behind is still in Global Warming Cloud Coo-coo land and we are having to pay for a frivolous waste of money in carbon taxes.

What a ponzi scheme - I wish I dreamed it up.

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FAIL

Yeah the whole scientific process is rubbish isn't it

"What a ponzi scheme - I wish I dreamed it up."

Yes the whole process of science is flawed/rubbish/conspiracy etc. Which is why you are living in a society with massive benefits due in a large part to the scientific process.

Science means the PROCESS by which humanity establishes what is/is not likely to be the truth based on available evidence. This means peer review, and consensus until the evidence to the contrary becomes significant.

On science's side:

- medicine

- technology

- understanding of the very large (e.g. universe)

- understanding of the very small

On your side:

- creationism

- climate change denial

- naturopathy

- crystal healing

- "HIV does not cause AIDS"

- "vaccines are deadly"

Sure, science has "got it wrong" sometimes but the process eventually allows real data and findings to overcome lack of data and older hypotheses. Get rid of the process and you're left with... well just superstition and rubbish.

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Anonymous Coward

@indulis

You invalidate your right to claim rational argument as soon as you start with the unfounded insults - once you start to label people who disagree with you as creationists, crystal healing advocating, anti-vaccination holocaust deniers (OK that last one was DrXym but I think it is fair to include) simply because they disagree with you then any claim you have to hold any moral, scientific or rational high ground becomes clearly invalid.

But, hey, I a in a feeding the trolls mood so how about this:

science does not fully understand medicine, clearly as people are still dying of treatable conditions and new discoveries are made every day (not to mention the huge swathes of medical disagreement regarding effects / benefits of things like alcohol, aspirin and lots more)

I still don't have a robot butler so technology is a big FAIL

There are many things about the universe we don't understand, or even agree on - dark matter / energy, the origin of the universe, its likely ending etc.

Ah, the very small - not that long ago we knew an atom was like a plum pudding - then we knew it was protons and neutrons surrounded by electrons, then we knew there were over 600 sub atomic particles and now we know there are about a dozen. Plus the Higgs Boson which all scientists agree about.

I like the way you put quotes around "got it wrong" - very passive-aggressive that - kind of reminds me of a teenager being made to apologise for something - sure they say the words but you damn well know they don't mean it. But, that aside - you seem to at least pretend to accept that science has got it wrong in the past but you are unable to accept any whiff of suggestion that science may have got AGW wrong now, like all possibility of errors in science was eradicated in the late 80's or something.

I do not believe the current AGW "consensus" (yes, I know what I did there), but neither do I believe in God, or homeopathy, or healing with crystals and I absolutely believe HIV causes AIDS, the holocaust occurred and was at least as horrible as most mainstream books show.

If you want a rational discussion then I would be delighted, if you want to claim everyone who disagrees with you must be exactly like a mix of Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, because those two disagree with you as well - then you show your inability to think and act scientifically* and rationally and have no place in a discussion such as this, except in a kind of Jester capacity

*If I claimed pigs went "moo", tasted of beef and had horns on the basis that cows do all of those things and both cows and pigs have 4 legs so QE fucking D then I would be rightly mocked. Think about that next time you claim to speak for science.

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FAIL

@Lou 2

Prof B could become immensely rich by going along to B.P and saying "I've got some data here which contradicts the current consensus belief on AGC - how much is it worth?"

So ALL the "scientists" are so stupid they haven't cottoned on to this despite cuts in government funding?

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Headmaster

...and ... @AC

Clearly you do not understand the terms of tenure - if it was about the money all the nay-sayers would have been productively involved in commerce.

Tenure is a great job if you can get it - doesn't pay that much but you only have to publish a few works that gets your institution pushed up the lists of places to be. So either think of a new idea or jump on the bandwagon and start beating that drum!

Finally when you work for BP - they expect results. Only exec management can do nothing and still get paid. If you do not get it - start goto Clearly.

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FAIL

Yawn

Selectively misquoted data, check. Irrelevant comments check. Attempt to discredit all the experts check. Another hopelssly biased article by Orlowski check! Lots of misinformed comment from

supposedly intelligent people check.

Just another ELREG denialsit puff piece.

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T J
FAIL

Why an Economist?

Why is an Economist commenting on physics? Shall I go and ask a Lawyer to explain Biochemistry?

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Ignorance is Bliss!

And Bigfoot is real! And the UFO's are coming! Did you hear about the recent crop circle formations?!

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Perhaps humans have very little input

Volcano activity puts out far more gas and particulate than mankind has ever done.Global warming is just an excuse for higher taxes

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When the boundaries of science and retarded journalisn collide

When retarded journalism and scientific data concerning an almost infinitesimally complex subject collide. Don't concentrate on the wealth of worrying studies. Just concentrate on the fact that scientists don't understand everything and are taking many many small steps. Then conclude that not understanding everything casts doubt on all the masses of worrying studies and falsely creating a stupid and non existent believers versus non believers scenario amongst scientists. Pretending it is balanced journalism.

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Not exactly new

The article so distorts this paper that it is impossible to comment on it, one could only start from scratch and rewrite every word.

What I really don't like about the paper is that it sets out to debunk denialist claims and papers that set out to counter a particular view tend to be much less reliable than ones where someone has simply gone out and done piece of science and come up with a result. A notable aspect of its approach is to accept denialst interpretation of the temperature record in the first instance, its clearly intended for a particular audience. If the paper is correct, it does potentially add to the understanding of short term global temperature changes but there's actually been a lot of other papers on this topic, here's 3 examples, one from 1995, one from 2005 & one from 2010

Climate response to increasing levels of greenhouse gases and sulphate aerosols, J. F. B. Mitchell, T. C. Johns, J. M. Gregory & S. F. B. Tett Nature 376, 501 - 504 (10 August 1995); doi:10.1038/376501a0

or

Strong present-day aerosol cooling implies a hot future, Meinrat O. Andreae, Chris D. Jones, Peter M. Cox Nature 435, 1187-1190 (30 June 2005) | doi:10.1038/nature03671

or

Aerosol exposure versus aerosol cooling of climate: what is the optimal emission reduction strategy for human health?, Löndahl, J., Swietlicki, E., Lindgren, E., and Loft, S.: Atmos. Chem. Phys., 10, 9441-9449, doi:10.5194/acp-10-9441-2010

There is also the recently concluded European Integrated project on Aerosol Cloud Climate and Air Quality Interaction based at the University of Helsinki,, an article on their conclusions can be found here

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110629083115.htm

along with some older articles on the topic.

As to articles suggestion that the best way to counter global warming is to burn more fossil fuels, that is only true if you want to live in a world of smog ridden cities with all the associated health problems & then only until the fossil fuels run out which they will do rather more quickly than expected if we increase use.

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The Sun's Energy is low

How come these clever people have not accounted for the change in sun spot cycle. I'm sure they have really it just makes a good story not to say so.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2011/07/06/lockwood_solar_minimum/

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A famous scientist once told me

"You could fill a library with the publications whose conclusions are dependent on flawed pseudo random number generation algorithms."

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Bronze badge

level of scientific understanding was low

Theories are incredibly useful for predicting what will happen in the future. A theory can not be proven, a theory can only be tested and fail to be dis-proven. The more a theory is tested and fails to be dis-proved the more reliably (and so useful) we consider it to be for predicting the future.

That is what science is, formulating theories and trying to test and dis-prove them.

The trouble with global climate is there are hundreds (if not thousands) or theories required to predict it and we can't properly test any of them. We can't test them because they require planet sized experiments and results of a test may not be available for generations. All we can do is make observations of the past which is really low quality testing because little data remains and there is no accurate way of attributing that data to one theory or another.

So yes the level of scientific understanding is very low and so the reliability of future climate predictions is also very low. It doesn't matter how much money you throw at it (and plenty is being thrown) that level isn't going to increase much any time soon because the only improvement we have is better observation of the present which will eventually give us better quality data from the past.

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WTF?

Misleading

This kind of article is completely misleading. Anyone will be able to quote some data over some period of time that contradicts global warming. The fact is that burning hydrocarbons does have an effect on the planet: not only in terms of increasing temperatures but also in terms of decreasing reserves on non renewable energy sources. Arguing that we can continue our profligate existence at the expense of oil is counterproductive: not only does it ignore the effect of climate change but it also encourages the consumption of non renewable energy sources.

Whilst we may well be able to replace our dependancy on oil and coal for power production, we will always rely on it for long distance air travel and manufacture of plastics. Arguments against limiting the consumption of fossil fuel not only ignore climate change but they also (more importantly) ignore the fact that once we have no access to cheap hydrocarbons we will face serious problems when it comes to air teavel and manufacture of plastics.

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"A team of two geographers and two economists ..."

Are you serious? I can't think of any reason to believe they know much more about global climate change than I do.

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