back to article Swedish boffins: An Ice Age is coming, only CO2 can save us

A group of Swedish scientists at the University of Gothenburg have published a paper in which they argue that spreading peatlands are inexorably driving planet Earth into its next ice age, and the only thing holding back catastrophe is humanity's hotly debated atmospheric carbon emissions. "We are probably entering a new ice …

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Re: I lump together

But you have to admit they are by far the most entertaining of that group.

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Windows

Re: I lump together

You missed out revengeful downvoters.

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Facepalm

Don't you ever read these papers before posting articles? The paper doesn't claim that peatlands are spreading, only what the potential area might be in Sweden in the absence of human activity. This is in the very first paragraph of the summary, which is the first thing in the paper.

There's a highly speculative claim later in the paper where they consider the idealised maximum extent of global peatlands, and come up with values for carbon sequestration and impacts on radiative warming, but the numbers seem highly unrealistic. That's the only place where the paper discusses the impact on climate - the paper does *not* claim that we're currently being pushed into an ice age.

In the real world, peatlands are decreasing, mainly due to human drainage and clearance activities, with consequent massive release of carbon into the atmosphere. That is quite a different story from that presented in the Reg's article, but that's only to be expected, of course.

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Facepalm

BAD REPORTING

Lewis' reporting is even more misleading, in that, the paper predicts peatlands growth IF THE CLIMATE GETS WARMER. Lewis please look up ISOTHERM in a dictionary.

It IS some good news, in that the "GAIA" will provide some negative feedback

Can we have a "abuse" button on Register reporters too please

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Holmes

"The paper doesn't claim that peatlands are spreading, only what the potential area might be in Sweden in the absence of human activity. "

I think that this part got cherry-picked somehow, and then further guesswork was added on:

"By extrapolating to include the rest of the world's high-latitude temperate areas - the parts of the globe where peatland can expand as it does in Sweden - they project the creation of an extremely powerful carbon sink."

There's a big difference between simply reading a paper, and reading a paper with the specific goal of finding something that can spun into evidence supporting pre-existing views.

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Boffin

WTF??

"Naturally this theory runs counter to the global warming scenario as presented by many other scientists and most of the media" - Only partly

This theory in no way invalidates that (a) humans have been increasing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere over the last 200 years (b) More CO2 in the atmosphere lowers the amount of heat radiated off the earth and (c) observed temperature increases in the last 200 years are consistent with (a) and (b).

What IS in doubt / arguable is whether this level of warming is unusual for the planet on a historical scale (validity or not of the hockey-stick), whether the changes are self-correcting (positive vs negative feedback processes in models), what is the result of the warming going to be (will the icecaps really melt? how much will sea level really rise?), and whether the change is a good thing or a bad thing (Maybe UK tourists can just drive down to Southampton instead of fly to Ibiza?)

The scenario presented by IGCC is that this warming is unprecedented, that positive feedbacks will accelerate warming rapidly, that ice-melt, rising sea-levels and freak weather will cause catastrophic events and that climate change is a BAD THING.

Hopefully this new study can help to calm things down a bit - Yes the earth is warming because we're pumping too much CO2 in, but the expansion of peat bogs is capturing more CO2 and balancing this out

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Re: WTF??

Lewis apparently lives in "a hypothetical Holocene lacking human presence"

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straw man?

"wildly unjustifiable assertions that global warming caused Hurricane Sandy"

The reasonable opinions I have read is that Sandy was naturally occurring, NOT "caused" by global warming, but that increased water temperatures in the North Atlantic contributed to increasing Sandy's strength.

More generally, rather than " isolated events prove theories", the fact that 1-in-100 years* events are starting to occur rather more frequently than once in 100 years mean that things ARE changing. Maybe not all for the worse, but at least let's have a proper look at what's going.

*Of course it could also be that these really are 1-in-a-million events, and are therefore a Pratchettian certainty to occur

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An alternative conclusion can be had by *reading the paper*

In fact you just need the abstract:

'We estimate the potential extent of peatland in Sweden, based on slope properties of possible areas excluding lakes and glaciofluvial deposits. We assume no human presence or anthropic effects, so the calculation is speculative. It may have been relevant for previous interglacials.'

So in other words, Lewis has once again cherry-picked a headline not substantiated by the research.

The paper (an interesting read BTW) suggests that peatlands might be one mechanism by which the Earth tips from interglacial conditions - such as those we've had since the beginning of the Holocene - to glacial conditions.

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Re: An alternative conclusion can be had by *reading the paper*

>So in other words, Lewis has once again cherry-picked a headline not substantiated by the research.

Oh come on let Brother Lewis preach to the choir. Who needs research when you have faith? Can't you just feel it in your gut?

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Re: An alternative conclusion can be had by *reading the paper*

Lewis Page in climate-science-cherry-picking shocker! In other news, Papal Catholicism revelation...

How did you get 2 down-votes for your post? Do people not like being presented with the *actual* science - oh, sorry, silly me - this is the Register. As you were, then...

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Pint

Re: An alternative conclusion can be had by *reading the paper*

"How did you get 2 down-votes for your post? Do people not like being presented with the *actual* science."

No, people like to receive the intellectual equivalent of a hand-job, where they can read pseudo-scientific crap in the media which supports their existing views and biases, thus validating them and hence themselves, which results in self-gratification.

So anything that acts as the metaphorical equivalent of their mum knocking on the door with a cup of tea and de-rails or interferes with that self-satisfaction is going to get lashed out at without any real consideration.

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Anonymous Coward

So many clicks

All you have to do is insert stick into hornet nest and wiggle it about a bit.

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Coat

A solution?

Aha! A solution to global warming. All we have to do is have everyone turn their backyards into mini peat bogs, and we'll be saved.

Hmm. How do I do a peat bog on a 5-foot wide concrete balcony?

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tax reform

Shouldn't we set our best minds in government to come up with a carbon shortfall tax schedule? However we do it to ourselves, someone has to feed the monkeys.

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Good news. We can stop / reverse global warming by turning Sweden into a peat farm.

I'll vote for that.

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Questionable extrapolation

Their extrapolation is BS. Swedish peatlands may or may not be expanding, but for example in the neighbouring Finland where I live (which is similar in many ways with respect to climate, biology and economy) they definitely are getting reduced by draining. Typically they are converted to fields or cultivated forests (both are carbon neutral affairs in the long run). A lot of the peat is also burned for fuel, releasing the sequestered CO2.

It is the same story in any place with expanding economy. Bogs are economically mostly useless and usually get turned into something else, or mined for the energy.

Peat will not save us from global warming.

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Happy

Re: Questionable extrapolation

When you say bogs are economically useless, you forget cranberry bogs!

Mmmm, cranberries......

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Re: Questionable extrapolation

Their extrapolation is not BS. They just assumed no human activity at all to find the max area the peat could cover.

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Boffin

So basically Mr. Lewis misrepresented the research?

While I am recovering from the shock, I will have to write my own thesis "probablistic outcomes of ursine defecation in arboreal environments".....

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FAIL

Its about time the reg got a new section

Lewis long ago left the realms of science, this is some kind of religious crusade.

poor man, it took his powers of reason years since, now it's effecting his eyesight.

to summarise;

if it wasn't for that thing i said isn't happening, at least is happening, but isn't caused by us, yes that thing, well these guys wrote a paper which takes a few stabs in the dark, massively extrapolates the results, leaves out a few significant variables and proves i was wrong all along.

so that's lewis 1, rest of the word nil i guess.

<shakes head sadly and walks away>

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Coat

I leave you with one last thought......

Burn more coal, for peat's sake!!!

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Anonymous Coward

Despite the empty vessels driving most of the comments, please keep going, Lewis!

I place much more value on facts over hype. AWG is a classical smoke-filled bubble, and it's about to burst.

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FAIL

we are doomed

When we'll have no petrol nor coal left, it means we will be freezing ?

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Childcatcher

and by the way, who wrote the nice comment at the end of the article ?

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Anonymous Coward

Paging Mr. Moss, Mr. Pete Moss....

Time to curl up by the fire with a bottle of Scotch and

watch the Mastodons and the Wooly Mammoths duke it

out across the street....

But wait....there's a fight....and a hockey game breaks out...

It's Michael "Hide the decline" Mann and Al "Gaia con Fritos" Gore...

There's a lot of high-sticking going on, but a whistle, a train whistle

rings out to stop the melee....a locomotive engineer from the IPCC

whistles the play to a stop, and orders the weathered combatants

to return their "No Bull" prizes...

No energy to continue....with the new models, the "Corn Census"

has shown that all plant material must be diverted to ethanol

production...an inconvenient proof that Mann has no effect

upon climate, weather he likes it or not....

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FAIL

The Dunning-Kruger exhibited on here by armchair scientists is NOTHING short of awe-inspiring! Ice age?

Oy vey es mir....

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Excellent stuff

But I'm just more confused now.

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Line 4 of the original paper's summary demonstrates Lewis is a climate denying fool

"We assume no human presence or anthropic effects, so the calculation is speculative."

Lewis is 180 degrees out. His only saving grace is that his reporting can only improve from here.

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Joke

Peat bogs have only *one* natural enemy

Irish farmers.

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Anonymous Coward

Re-peat, and thin no more...

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Thumb Down

Obviously, the solution is to burn more peat! It will generate CO2 as well as heat, and it will help reduce the spread of peat lands... :-)

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Headmaster

OK, I am starting to tune my car into a peat burning engine.

Am gonna save the world !

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Denier

Lewis, you should also smoke tobacco: trust the manufacturers, it isn't bad for your health.

What these studies say is that it is very likely that we should be heading for an ice age. And we aren't.. mainly because of our activity.

While I would agree that it is better for us puny humans not to have an ice age, the reverse of an ice age is still worse.

Not only that, but we have destroyed/greatly altered most of the natural environment. So many plants and animals live in "secluded reserves". As the climate changes, they will be unable to live there, but as we have destroyed the connecting territories (we want highways, farms, houses...) many species will die out.

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Trollface

Right On Scientists

What people believe in their hearts to be Right is almost by definition wrong. Besides, if I were to care what anyone else thought, it would imply I ought to control what they think. Which I probably could but chose not to.

Read the great fiction writer Norman Spinrad for an early statement of the obvious truth here this research is finding hints of. "The Iron Dream". 1972. Iron Mentalists (sic) stop co2 emissions we get an ice age.

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FAIL

Please, Lewis, do learn how to read !

And while you're at it, please learn how to refrain from attributing your own opinions to others without presenting evidence that they indeed share them ! Wherever did you find the quote you attribute to Professor Franzen to the effect that «We are probably entering a new ice age right now. However, we're not noticing it due to the effects of carbon dioxide» (which in itself would indicate that the Professor agrees that anthropogenic contributions to the global carbon-dioxide cycle are, in fact, contributing to the global warming he recognises as taking place) - it certainly does not appear in the article to which you link. Nor is there any basis for your statement that :

«The researchers believe that the Little Ice Age of the 16th to 18th centuries may have been halted as a result of human activity. Increased felling of woodlands and growing areas of agricultural land, combined with the early stages of industrialisation, resulted in increased emissions of carbon dioxide which probably slowed down, or even reversed, the cooling trend.»

given that the article nowhere addresses this specific period or topic. Nor does the paper anywhere employ the term, «catastrophe». It does note, however, that «We assume no human presence or anthropic effects, so the calculation is speculative. It may have been relevant for previous interglacials.» One gets the impression that you are citing an article on the paper by Franzen et al which significantly distorts its import , but that for some reason you wish to disguise this fact and therefore refer instead to the paper itself, which, following your source, you have either deliberately misconstrued or entirely misunderstood....

Epic failure and no mistake....

Henri

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Interesting research - Deceptive and biased reporting

"Unfortunately if you believe that isolated events prove theories, you would pretty much have to accept that global warming has stopped: ten to fifteen years of flat temperatures, or even a few very cold winters - both of which have just happened - are a lot more significant than one storm (and they atill aren't significant enough to mean anything much in a climate context)."

This kind of bias has no place in a publication that purports to provide any level objectivity or useful science reporting. Most of the media has pointed out that there has been an increase in severity of weather events lately and has asked anyone they can get on, from scientists to insurance eggheads, whether it is related to Global Warming; most have said "we don't know for sure".

In this case, the fluke that it was exceptionally warm for one year 15 years ago is used to distort the fact that that global temperatures are rising on a consistent basis. If you look at the past 10 years, 20 years or 50 years, temperatures are rising; it is only when you use 15 years that you get a flat "trend".

As others have pointed out, this research posits that man made climate change is real, but that there may be offsetting factors that mean it could be keeping us from going into an ice age. That is a big supposition, and based on reading of the geological record that can also be interpreted in very different ways.

If we are driving up temperatures so fast that we cause major sea rise and weather disruptions over the next 50 years, it really won't matter if the natural trend would have been going the other direction (over a period of hundreds of years); the economic and human welfare disruptions will be massive.

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