back to article Boffin dubs global warming 'irreversible'

Economies may rise and fall every few decades or so, but at least the hard work we've put into global warming is "irreversible" on the human time scale. That's according to research from a team of US environmental scientists published today in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The report claims that …

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  1. Charles Manning

    Hype, HYPE, !!!HYPE!!!

    Whether you're making Reality TV shows, being inaugurated as president or predicting doom you have to keep outdoing previous attempts to grab attention. Scientists live or die by getting published and nothing gets you published like alarmism.

    Still, if it really is too late and we're all doomed, then may as well give up trying to live an austere lifestyle all huddled around a single compact florescent bulb. Fill up the SUV, cut down the rain forests, party, party, party coz there aint no tomorrow!

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    "That's according to research from" ...

    Someone who actually bothered to do any research, unlike you, who just sat in your armchair at home and guessed that anything you can imagine in your own private mind simply *has* to be true. God, I admire how you put up with the whole rest of the human race. We're so pathetic and ignorant and stupid for not thinking exactly how you do; you must be a living saint for having to put up with the whole human race.

    Still, just as well you're not part of it, eh?

  3. cris
    Boffin

    london coral reef party

    I'll book my great, great, great, etc grand kids place, as surely by 3000 will will have evolved gills to live 30m underwater

  4. Eric Werme
    IT Angle

    Harsh words for Susan Solomon

    From http://icecap.us/ :

    That 1000 year forecast comes with a moneyback guarantee from NOAA. Too bad they don’t offer the same on their seasonal forecasts. the last two winters were forecast to be warm in Alaska and the lower 48 states. Susan can’t help but keep embarrassing herself first with her work on the ozone hole, then the IPCC AR4 report for which she was a Lead Author and now this.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Irreversible?

    Just what makes anyone think that a minor skin infection like the human race is going to have any significant effect on the earths' climate?

    The climate has been changing for eons; it is continuing to change (we're still exiting an ice age); and it will change no matter what we do short of detonating every nuclear device on the planet and clouding up the atmosphere. That would cause a minor blip.

    Predicting long-term (i.e, thousands of years)climate trends based upon a few hundred years of observations is nonsense.

    Netgeek

  6. Ogden Freen

    No reef for London, sorry.

    "So remember readers: an extra hour to your car ride today may help make it a warm, sunny day at the London coral reef"

    Um...

    Isn't it predicted that *anthropogenic climate change* (that's right, they stopped calling it "global warming" back in the eighties) will alter the gulf stream, possibly stopping it, and bringing freezing temperatures to most of Europe?

  7. jake Silver badge

    Is the report available online?

    Has it been peer reviewed?

    Or is it just more ramblings from the doomsday set?

  8. Ogden Freen

    Oh yeah that's right...

    This site is frequented by those who feel threatened by the scientific consensus.

    As I'm not a scientist, who do I believe?

    The scientists, or the armchair geeks and fossil fuel lobby?

    hmmm....

  9. Jusme
    Unhappy

    Oh bugger...

    ... you mean I can't keep the world a green and fluffy place just by paying more taxes?

  10. Ro
    Thumb Down

    pessimistic

    This thinking is only if we stop producing CO2 and then sit on our arses twiddling our thumbs. Of course climate change is irreversible if we don't bother doing anything about it. On the other hand if we actively remove the CO2 from the atmosphere then it is reversible. The technology already exists to remove CO2, it is just a matter of perfecting that technology and making practical.

    Also there won't be any london coral reefs if the oceans CO2 level continues to rise as coral reefs simply wonty be able to exist in oceans that are much more acidic.

  11. Mat

    @ Ogden Freen

    There is a third option..

    The scientists, or the armchair geeks and fossil fuel lobby or the govt sponsored scientists..

  12. Maurice Shakeshaft

    Climate Change is as inevitable as night following day...

    and that's an undisputable fact. The important aspects for humans is how badly will it affect us and what do we need to do if the badness is unacceptable. First define "badly", "affect" and "acceptable", then define "need" and then look at the "doing" bit. Clearly, There is a lot of "politics" here. The average "Western" family may find the cultural adjustment of going without their grilled steak dinner just too much to tolerate at the moment. It is prudent to take a few precautions - like we didn't with the current banking crisis and "toxic debt" - so I'll not go along with a scare mongering line too far. The essence of the messages in the article and the comments is that we need more hard science not reports of reports. If that means some less "rationale" stuff gets published it is a price a skeptical public will have to pay.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Who to believe

    well obviously not those calling themselves scientists that's the first give away that they are talking out their petunas.

    Science is so academic it is got to the point of being irrelevant, very few true scientists left on this planet, just a bunch of monkeys looking for tenure. If there is one particular group that has done very little for the world in the last generation then that would be the scientist.

    I am of course deliberately leaving out the computer scientist, because they have been doing things, but the rest, well can you actually point to anything outside of Computer Science that has made a difference in the last 25 years?

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Re: As I'm not a scientist, who do I believe?

    anyone who thinks scientists and the scientific community are rational, logical and above all never allow belief to override what the evidence says - needs to work with a few to realise they are just human and the "scientific community" is often more driven by politics and personal ambitions than any drive to advance science

  15. Scott Broukell
    Stop

    Atlantic Conveyor

    I think the Gulf stream is meterological. It's the sea current conveyor that keeps us moderately warm, taking the cold arctic melt-waters deep down and south, whilst bringing warmer waters from the southern ocean along near the surface. Too much melt-water from the arctic will stop the cycle and we will begin to enjoy some serious winter sports on the south downs !

    Should the conveyor weaken or stop all together the effects will be dramatic and fast (gulp).

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Boffin

    @ "That's according to research from"

    Good candidate for the FOTW I think.

    Paris - been in the news I think

  17. TeeCee Gold badge

    Nope, don't get it.

    Exactly how is what I do with my car going to affect my ancestors being, as they are, mostly dead and unlikely to rise from the grave?

    As for the main thrust of the article. No shit Sherlock! Anyone with more than a vague passing interest in the subject worked this one out years ago and has known for quite some time that the climate taxes are just taxes with a trendy badge.

    I'm firmly of the opinion that it probably is warming, it probably is our fault, but it's waaay too sodding late to do anything about it now. So spend some cash on researching living with it and stop moaning about my sodding car. I'm not an evil, nasty, climate-change-denying bogeyman. I am an evil, nasty, sack-the-eco-nazis-they're-a-waste-of-space bogeyman.

  18. Mark
    Boffin

    re: Irreversible

    Ask the Dodo, kid.

    Or look for the massive forests in Scotland, that existed for thousands of years, covering the entire north and ensuring the soil there remains lush enough to support a lot of life.

    Or go check out the Dust Bowl. Lovely rich grasslands turned into a massive dessert by this "skin disease".

  19. John Angelico
    Coat

    Oh, dear...

    ... if this author is correct, has she not just validated the Bible's prediction of our future ie. burning in the heat of hell?

    Now, what a dilemma THAT poses!

    No, no, it's the T-shirt thanks - too warm for a coat apparently.

    :-)

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    @Ogden Freen

    Don't lump all the "Armchair geeks" in with the fossil fuel lobby. There are a good few of them floating about on the climate side as well- and they're usually the ones with the expensive PR guys to make them seem like some sort of Cassandra, with absolutely no-one listening to them and being repeatedly beaten by men in suits who work for the oil industry.

    IIRC, and someone correct me if I'm wrong, humans produce about 3% of the world's annual CO2 output. So even if we stopped, it would mean that there was 97% of its annual production left untouched.

    Yes, our 3% can make a delicate equilibrium unstable or shift it a bit, but we'll never be able to make rapid change as expected by our hemp-wearing friends.

    What we need now is someone to determine what effect we've actually had given the whole cyclical nature of... well... Nature. Take a look at a long-term graph. A million years or so. You'll see the cycles emerge neatly. We really are pretty insignificant.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wouldn't worry

    It's likely that the gaia effect will kick in long before then. There is only a finite availability of food and other resources and the current population levels are not sustainable. Expect the population to drop significantly before 3000.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Impossible

    All the CO2 we are 'creating' is from burning fossil fuels, which in turn came from plants which in turn came from ... the atmosphere... indeed if there were no plants and the atmosphere is what it started out as, CO2 and sulphur oxides and Nitrous oxide, we know that it would still tend to balance. BECAUSE IT WAS THAT WAY AND THAT'S WHAT HAPPENED!

    So her model must be broken because the real world model contradicts it.

  23. K
    Thumb Up

    lol

    "So remember readers: an extra hour to your car ride today may help make it a warm, sunny day at the London coral reef"

    ... awesome :D

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Pirate

    @ Ogden Freen

    If you think the average reader of El Reg is beneath you & your lofty intellect feel free to leave.

  25. Tom Paine Silver badge

    @AC

    "Just what makes anyone think that a minor skin infection like the human race is going to have any significant effect on the earths' climate?"

    Physics, dear heart, physics. Really basic physics that have been well understood and accepted for over a century. ΔF = α ln(C/C02) . See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arhennius#Greenhouse_effect

  26. Bassey
    Stop

    Oh yeah that's right

    Not quite right. This site is frequented by people who would rather hear about Science from the scientific community and use that information to form their own opinions rather than have politicians or TV tell us what Scientists are thinking and what we should believe.

    Your assertion that there is such a thing as a "Scientific Consensus" suggests you get your science from the latter group. Can you provide us with the statistical breakdown from the survey used to draw this conclusion or are you just quoting the BBC/Guardian? I'd really be interested to see if because the media and politicians are constantly telling us about it but I've yet to see the survey.

    Maybe it's top secret?

  27. Anonymous Cowherd
    Happy

    Irreversible!

    Hooray for us, we WIN!

    The trouble with hype is that it has to escalate and once it has been escalated to "irreversible" then it does not matter any more.

  28. Goatan
    Thumb Down

    Scientists lie to you

    All scientists fiddle the results to form the conclusions they wish to prove. While i can agree that the ongoing polution is clearly not going to be good for the environment, there has not been enough collected data on the weather cycles of this planet to draw any definate conclusions.

    This could be nothing more than a natural cycle. The CO2 emmisions are not enough to cause alarm, we will still be able to breathe for many more centuries to come, but if it is a concerm perhaps these "scientists" should be trying to find a solution instead of attempting to insight mass hysteria and panic in the lower lifeforms* amongst us.

    *civil servants and daily mail readers.

  29. Enrico Vanni
    Flame

    @Ogden Freen (is that your real name?)

    There isn't a scientific consensus in support of AGW. The IPCC is a political group (with a tiny minority of the world's scientists as signatories to its propaganda, sorry, reports).

    Plus, since when did consensus automatically equate to truth? There used to be a consensus that the world was flat (based on all the available evidence at the time.....)

    PS. In case you hadn't noticed, the majority of fossil fuel moguls are now tacitly in favour of the AGW scare (because there's money to be made from carbon exchange and they pull the strings).

  30. Ian Tunnacliffe

    Probably true

    James Lovelock is interviewed in the current New Scientist. He simply takes it as read that catastrophic climate change is coming and there is now almost nothing that can be done about it.

    That may still be an extreme position but it's not that far from the scientific consensus as exemplified by the IGPCC - which has historically been extremely conservative in its assessments.

    Now, I'm a physics graduate so I can understand the basic science (not that the degree is necessary - any intelligent human prepared to put in a bit of effort could do so). If I were able to put a bet on it would be with the scientific consensus and against the deniers, almost regardless of the odds William Hill might quote.

    There is an opportunity to ameliorate some of the worst effects if we take it seriously, but we should still be planning for a world in which Bangladesh is under water full-time instead of just when a cyclone strikes.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    Urgh

    Climate scientists must report that the Earth is warming, otehriwse their fat grants will stop rolling in. They are NOT impartial. Most of their data is heavily massaged (NASA) or based on a single (or, at least, very small number) of reports (IPCC). None of their computer models are in anyway accurate - just look at how often they talk about getting a "feel" for the numbers. Sounds suspiciously like faith in an an unverifiable truth if you ask me.

    Anthropogenic Global Warming/Change is a total myth; a scam, a lie. This does not preclude "green" initiative for a number of other reasons (oil will run out, killing rivers is bad) but this has NOTHING to do with the AGW/C fairytale.

    The Earth is coming of the end of an ice age so OF COURSE IT IS WARMING UP, YOU MORONS! That's kind of what coming to the end of an ice age MEANS! Climate Changing? Well, duh, END OF AN ICE AGE!! HELLO? And guess what? It's NATURAL! We going to go head-to-head with Mother Nature now? Man, I though you bunch of hand-wringing nancies were supposed to be Greens.

    Sheesh.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why bother then?

    Look, if this is all can't be reversed, then why are we spending the equivalent of the GDP of a G-8 country trying to fix it? That would be just throwing money away (or in AlGore's case putting it in his pocket!).

    The whole "Climate change" thing is silly. Most likely it is because of sunspots anyway, and I seriously doubt that ANYTHING can be done to alter them!

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Umm, ancestors?

    Ancestors...in the future? Shurely shome mishtake?

  34. James Pickett
    Happy

    Futurama

    1000 years hence, when Fry asks Leela what happened to GW, she replies that it was cancelled out by the nuclear winter. So nothing to worry about, really...

  35. Oliver Mayes

    "an irreversible change that will last for more than a thousand years."

    "an irreversible change that will last for more than a thousand years."

    Did they change the meaning of irreversible while I wasn't looking? I always thought that something irreversible could, you know, not be reversed. Will all irreversible things suddenly change back in a thousand years now?

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    @ Ogden Freen

    Being said same group who predicted "global cooling" then when temps rose "global warming" now its "killer climate change"

    Doom and gloom = headlines

    positivity = ridicule from you and your fellow lima bean munchers

    Seems the climate cultists still willingly swallow gores magic kool aid

    Bit like the Mac muppets believe the almighty jobs is infallible and immortal.

    I look around myself and I see shifting weather back to normal this winter compared to 5 to 10 years of mild winters. Winters here are MEANT to be cold, yet all the southern climate change muppets run around like headless chickens "the sky is falling the sky is falling" just because gore has them all wound up that were "killing the planet"

    As usual Methane is ignored, CO2 from volcanoes etc is ignored and wild assumptions abound that CO2 levels are 10 times higher than they are and this actual issue doesnt exist as "we cant accurately map it"

    Climatology - valid science, hijacked by nutters trying to make a name for themselves

  37. Onionman

    @Ogden Freen - "scientific consensus"?

    Ogden,

    Is this the "scientific consensus" that gave us last week's scare about temperatures in Antarctica? The Beeb faithfully reported it as fact. Then we found out that there aren't many weather stations in the area, so the weather twonks used satellite data and "a computer model" (algorithm not released) to determine what a weather station in Antarctica might have recorded, had it been there for the past 50 years.

    All very fine, but then it's presented as incontrovertible evidence, not with the caveats that it's all just a computer model that might be inaccurate.

    Oh, and one of the modellers was Michael Mann, of "Hockey stick" fame. Not a man with a history of faking statistics. Oh no.

    O

  38. Jamie
    Linux

    Ogden is a genius.

    Lets believe the scientist. and forget about the fossil fuel lobbyists.

    Who do you think these scientist work for, Environmental lobbyists.

    So no difference in that both are biased.

    Ever think about the idea that the reason it will take a 1000 years might be due to the fact that this is a part of the regular cycle of weather trends on this planet which is approximately 6 billion years old.

  39. Nigel Thomas
    Dead Vulture

    Ancestors?

    Don't think we can change the weather for our ancestors, mate; maybe for our descendants (long after we and El Reg have gone to meet our environmentally friendly maker)?

    Cheers

  40. Stephen Hunt
    Boffin

    (Computer) models are like politicians...

    ...they tell you what you want to hear.

    A lot of the dynamics related to environmental change is not well understood, so it can be a fair assumption that most computer models are wrong.

    With 2008 being one of the coldest years of the last decade, La Nina condition prevalent in the pacific, a reduction in steelmaking and oil consumption (both CO2 factories), I think I will wait and see.

    It wouldn't surprise me if 2009 saw another significant drop in GMST (global mean surface temperature) to levels common in the 1980's / 1990's and a sudden worry about snoball-earth again.

  41. Interloper

    Everybody just calm down ..

    It doesn't take long for the attack dogs to be let loose on the author of a report like this does it?

    @Eric Werme - those "harsh words" from icecap.us don't seem to add up to much of an argument against the paper. (1) there is a great difference between modelling climate and forecasting weather for a couple of seasons, climatology is about the trends and long-term mechanisms, (2) the ozone story they link to is about another scientist's findings and doesn't invalidate anything about Solomon's previous work, (3) they don't give any substance to the AR4 criticism, so it relies on us already sharing their opinion that the IPCC report is flawed.

    Not very persuasive, rather a reflex "ad feminem" attack, wouldn't you say?.

    @jake - the PNAS is a mainstream peer-reviewed journal, see

    http://www.pnas.org/site/misc/about.shtml

    I couldn't find an online version, but they say the journal is indexed in "Index Medicus, PubMed Central, Current Contents, Medline, SPIN, JSTOR, ISI Web of Science, and BIOSIS", so if you have access to any of them it should be available.

  42. breakfast
    Happy

    No irreversible

    I was a bit confused by this because the argument appears to be that it's irreversible because it would take at least a thousand years to reverse it.

    Now I'm not a contrarian, in fact I generally agree with science, but it seems to me that "a bit slow to reverse" and "irreversible" are not the same thing at all.

    Also, who knows, maybe all those climatologists that the contrarians and oil-lobby shills hate so much for being experts on the climate will start coming up with solutions that allow us to turn things around faster. With a bit of luck we could get things sorted out within 700 years or less!

  43. Toastan Buttar
    Flame

    @Ogden Freen

    "This site is frequented by those who feel threatened by the scientific consensus."

    Science doesn't work by 'consensus' - it works on evidence. The evidence says that temperature change LEADS CO2 level change by hundreds of years. Cause and effect backwards much ?

    "The scientists, or the armchair geeks and fossil fuel lobby?"

    False dichotomy. There are many scientists (without an agenda or funding) who are questioning the hypotheses put forward by the climate scientists (who may have an agenda of their own, if you think about it - job security for one ?).

  44. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Geoengineering

    Don't know about Global Warming, but neither does she.

    According to my old globe, the oceans represent even more of the total earth surface than the selectively ignored Russian northland. We have a few random records of ocean temperatures prior to World War II. There might be useful recent sea surface information, but It appears that the people in charge of satellite data have been manipulating the records to increase their budgets, and the politicians have eagerly leaped at the opportunity to extort a new tax.

    Mankind has significantly affected weather patterns. Humidity goes up when you create major reservoirs. Ditto for the huge cooling towers for the nuclear power stations. The stagnant brown cloud over our extensively paved and air-conditioned cities, wouldn't have formed without some help from mankind.

    But remember man is only responsible for roughly 4 % of atmospheric carbon dioxide, and water vapor is still the dominant greenhouse gas.

    Perhaps, as the environmentalists believe, it's regretable that science has made the human population explosion possible. So let's bring back the four horsemen, eliminate 80 per cent of the population, and reintroduce the better, purer life of hunter-gatherers for the lucky few.

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I just don't care anymore.

    When it all turns out to be correct, and that you've chosen to live a cushy life now at the expense of having a future at all, I'll at least be able to take some solace in the fact that you'll all be suffering just a little more than me, in the knowledge that you could have done something, but chose not too, because it was inconvenient.

    Yes, a lot of green initiatives are a con, but little things, like recycling some of your own rubbish, or not leaving your PC on 24/7 to torrent, or driving in a fuel efficient manner or even just turning the lights off in rooms you aren't in don't take effort, don't require a huge lifestyle change, and they don't cost money, and they aren't making anyone else rich. Why won't you do them?

  46. Efros
    Paris Hilton

    Fuck it

    Pass me the Ambre Solaire and a cold one!

    Paris cos she already dresses for global warming, tenuous I know but what the hell.

    Efros

  47. AC
    Thumb Up

    @AC 04:41 GMT

    Some salvation then for the human race, I'm not the only one who can see what a total fucking con this global warming^W^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hclimate change is.

  48. Paul Kinsler

    re: Irreversible?

    >> what makes anyone think that a minor skin

    >> infection like the human race is going to have any

    >> significant effect on the earths' climate?

    Just to establish an endpoint, we could have an all out nuclear war. I think it's been established fairly solidly that _that_ would have an effect, even if we are otherwise a minor skin infection. Indeed, a recent article in Physics Today[1] suggested that most earlier estimates of the severity of nuclear winter were underestimates.

    So having settled that point of principle, the question becomes one of degree: to what extent can (or will) the minor skin infection change the climate?

    [1] Phys. Today 61 37 (2008) http://dx.doi.org/10.1063/1.3047679

  49. Tom Paine Silver badge
    Boffin

    @Jake

    The original paper's from PNAS, but it doesn't seem to be online yet.

    http://www.pnas.org/content/current

    Dr Solomon works at the NOAA; here's their press release:

    http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2009/20090126_climate.html

    ...and a Nature blog posting for good measure.

    http://blogs.nature.com/news/thegreatbeyond/2009/01/no_way_back_from_climate_chang.html

    There's plenty more on news.google.com .

  50. Nano nano

    What coral reef ...

    I thought that rising ocean CO2 levels increased the acidity of the water, threatening the existence of corals ?

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    in planetary

    In planetary terms that's just a blip, a thousand years, the Earth all barely notice, mankind all disappear at somepoint and a after million years there'll be no trace we'd ever been here. Except maybe a few plastic bottles and a new source of fossil fuels for the next genetic experiment.

    We're little more then a surface nuisance. A short lived surface nuisance.

  52. 3x2

    Just keep modeling

    Its been a good week for models 'o' doom. Got to love this classy byline from the BBC...

    "A mathematical model based on fading sea ice and the population growth of emperor penguins suggests their likely demise. "

    (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/7851276.stm)

    Long live virtual science.

  53. g e
    Paris Hilton

    Exiting an ice age?

    Well try some rugh n ready maths. If YOU know better then postr something more accurate, I'm no geologist...

    Last ice age 'ended' so to speak circa 10k years ago.

    Apparently we're warming up at about 1degC every 111-113 years (ish)

    Arctic temperatures are around -60degC (?? wikiP reckons -40 to -68 degC for Arctic, -85degC for Antarctica)

    Average temp around is the world is about 20degC (??)

    20-(-60) = 80degC change which at current rate of change would take about 9000 years to happen or ~11600 years for the Antarctic (-85degC)...

    Oh hangon, that's virtually a straight line back the the last ice age...

    Paris cos she does 'other' stuff than maths

  54. John Widger
    Coat

    Scaremongering

    IMHO I think that it's all an excuse to force a technology change. Fossil fuel BAD. Nuclear fuel GOOD. Common sense has nothing to do with it. We're looking at the latest/restyled Cash Cow.

  55. James

    Oh dear ...

    .. more climate change models - that is, simulations run on computers using some peoples ideas of what may or may not happen. NOT SCIENTIFIC FACT !!

    As we are presently in an INTER-GLACIAL period I think I am quite happy for the planet to get a bit warmer to delay the inevitable !!

    I do not understand why Global Warming / Climate Change pseudo-scientists do not look at the massive variations in climate over the past few billion years to see how little our climate is actually changing.

    The planet and mankind have survived several years when light was reduced by a blanket of dust and particles from volcanic eruptions. The planet has survived multiple meteor impacts - it will continue to survive. The life that presently inhabits the planet may not - but some form of life will !

  56. Mark
    Black Helicopters

    Anonymous Coward 08:35

    So who DO you believe, since you could be insane, you can't believe yourself. Since you can't believe people who look into this, and you can't believe someone who knows nothing, there's nobody left.

    For you, EVERYTHING is a conspiracy!

    NOTE: Funny thing about "AGW is a conspiracy" theorists. They are exactly the same people who reckon anyone thinking 11/9 was a government ploy to garner more power for itself as "complete whackjobs". That conspiracy is far, FAR smaller and far less complex than the "AGW is a conspiracy" demands.

  57. James

    And there's more...

    "People have imagined that if we stopped emitting carbon dioxide that the climate would go back to normal in 100 years or 200 years," said study author Susan Soloman. "What we're showing here is that's not right. It's essentially an irreversible change that will last for more than a thousand years."

    In geological time 1000 years is almost insignificant ! An ice age, which would cover the UK destroying every village, town and city and displacing a population of 55 million (or thereabouts) would last 80,000 to 100,000 years.

    The warm inter-glacials have "been much shorter, lasting about 10,000 years. The last Ice Age or glacial period on Earth ended roughly 14,000 years ago." So, we're due another one !

    Also, how do we know that this "irreversible change" would not, actually, be good !

    Unlike humans, the planet does not maintain a "status quo" - it changes all the time. Rather than trying to force the planet to obey some "golden age" idyll, humans would be better to adapt with it (as they did in the past). When the ice age returns we'll all be nomads again !

    Of course, nomads are people of no-fixed abode so governments CANNOT tax them! Perhaps this is the real fear of our governments !

    BTW: I am NOT arguing for minimising human impact on the planet - I AM arguing that the planet is big enough to look after itself and ultimately will do so, no matter what the human race does.

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Futurama knew all about this year's ago

    Do people not remember the episode with the lost and sunken city of Atlanta?

  59. weirdcult
    Heart

    @ Netgeek

    i think i love you.

  60. Cameron Colley
    Thumb Up

    Please let this become the consensus!

    Because I'm sick and tired of hearing people talk about fucking Carbon emissions being the be all and end all of the environment. If I gave a flying monkey's about the human race I'd also be very worried that we're not preparing for the climate change, that _will happen_, because people are too busy saving for Toybota Piuses.

  61. Elmer Phud

    Big Deal (not)

    Humans - who have not been around for long - seem to think the planet was built for thier sole use and enjoyment. Selfish buggers, the lot of 'em.

    The planet does not need 'saving', the planet continually belches and gets rid of the scum on the surface. Global warming won't be 'irreversable', just that humans won't be around for the next big change of climate - not that they'd survive it anyway, delicate little things that they are.

    Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No! it's bloody big rock and it's the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine.

  62. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Arse covering

    Seems to me that whenever it looks like the evidence won't support their models, the greenhouse gassers find excuses to shift the goalposts rather than admit that the evidence suggests CO2 does not drive global temperature. They do it when CO2 goes up and temperature doesn't, and now they are covering their arses in case CO2 drops and the temperature doesn't. So whatever the climate does they will say it is somehow due to anthopogenic CO2. This isn't science, it is hokum.

    Anonymous because I am a PhD Scientist with a hard (i.e. not "environmental studies" or some other mickey mouse course) science background and 30 years Energy and Environmental experience in academia, industry and consultancy, but publicly saying that you don't believe in anthopogenic CO2 driven climate change makes you a heretic against the current dogma and blows your career. I am not alone in keeping my head down because of the baying mob.

  63. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    @ Is the report available online?

    Of course it's bloody peer reviewed it's PNAS ffs.

    No it won't be available on line (to you), but your University library may have it, and if not you can ask your tutor to fill out and inter library loan request form for you.

  64. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    1000 years?

    Who cares - we'll all be long dead by then anyway.

  65. dervheid
    Alert

    Let me get this right.

    "global warming is "irreversible" on the human time scale"

    So.

    Does that mean there's Sweet FA we can do about it.

    Great.

    Lets all stop worrying about it happening then. If this *is* the case, we should be expending more effort on planning for a future that's going to be very different from the world we have now, rather than thinking like King Canute that buying a Toyota 'Pious' or any other hybrid/leccy vehicle is going to stop the water rising.

  66. James Pickett
    Thumb Up

    Irreversible

    No point in worrying about then.. :-)

  67. Evil Auditor Silver badge

    "would go back to normal"

    But what is normal? The climate we are prepared to cope with in our modern lifes? The climate we built our houses* for and designed our ACUs?

    Or 'normal' such as in the past period of a couple of million years with hugh recurring changes?

    We are definitely not doomed, no matter how real or irreversible or human-made global warming is. It is simply a question of natural selection: those who are able to fit with the change will survive - be it animals, plants, human beings or politicians and journalists.

    EA

    *not exactly in the UK. British houses were surely built for the warm future climate which we will soon suffer from or enjoy; all depends on the individual attitude.

  68. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wildly optimistic

    I'd be very surprised indeed to see only 3ft of sea-level increase before my 100th birthday in 2065.

  69. Matthew

    Why don't people question anything anymore?

    Once upon a time, the atmosphere of the Earth was almost entirely CO2, there was no Oxygen at all. Then, as bacteria came along it changed. The Earth didn't explode or melt, it was fine.

    Before the last ice age kicked in, the level of CO2 was 17 times higher than it is now, and guess what, it didn't blow up then either.

    If CO2 affected the temperature then the IPCC, NOAA or the BBC would be able to show a graph that illustrates this, but as it doesn't, they can't. Occasionally it follows a similar path but the CO2 level lags behind the temperature.

    If man-made CO2 affected the temperature then again they'd be able to show a graph but they can't because it doesn't (10 years of cooling despite CO2 rising).

    So it can be illustrated that our CO2 emissions have no affect and that CO2 doesn't cause catastrophe to the planet so there's no need to save it.

    The IPCC warns that if we carry on for another 200 years (despite having run out of oil & coal long before that) then the sea level could rise 1M which would be terminally bad also (I'm sure it wouldn't take that long to build a wall in areas liable to flooding).

    Essentially they've no evidence it's man made, no evidence it can be stopped, no evidence it's really a problem. You don't need to be a scientist, you just need to look at what these people are saying to see how it just doesn't add up.

    I'm just glad that more and more scientists are distancing themselves from this.

  70. Wade Burchette Silver badge

    @ Ogden Freen

    Do you mean like these scientists:

    http://www.petitionproject.org/

    Or do you mean only the scientists that just agree with your viewpoint?

  71. Mark
    Pirate

    re: Why bother then?

    Death is inevitable. We can't avoid it or reverse the decision.

    So why not just give up now.

    Throw yourself off a cliff.

    Hope springs eternal.

  72. Mark
    Dead Vulture

    re: Urgh

    Big Oil Reports that there's nothing wrong with humans burning oil because they won't make billions.

  73. Mark
    Dead Vulture

    @Enrico Vanni

    But the vast majority of scientists wouldn't know what climatology was like if it snuck into bed with them and gave them a BJ.

    Fuck, a programmer is a computer scientist.

    So you might be right, but that's not necessarily of any frigging use whatsoever.

  74. Mark
    Dead Vulture

    @Goatan

    "All scientists fiddle the results to form the conclusions they wish to prove."

    Which you can prove as long as you fiddle the results to form the conclusion you wish to prove...

  75. Mark
    Dead Vulture

    re: Oh yeah that's right

    Please tell me where the scientists are here that are informing you? Because there aren't many and most of them are saying "It's real".

    What you have here mostly is a lot of people saying "Scientists say it isn't real, I read about it on the interwebs" and other nonscientists (I assume) saying "Scientists will make any shit up to get the result they want".

    So apparently if people come here only to be informed by scientists, they mistyped www.realclimate.org.

  76. Mark
    Paris Hilton

    re: Impossible

    Please tell me how many millions of years that CO2 was from?

    Now although we get here in the UK about 1m of rain in a year, if we get that all in an hour, what happens? Everything fine?

    Jesus, you'll grab anything to make it better, won't you.

  77. Mark
    Paris Hilton

    Anonymous Coward Posted Wednesday 28th January 2009 08:57 GMT

    Why do you mention the 3%? That is irrelevant. All that means is that out of the 100% of CO2 that is taken up each year, 103% is released into the atmosphere.

    do you know what happens then?

    Year 1: 103% CO2

    Year 2: 106.09% CO2

    .

    .

    .

    Year 20: 180.61112346694% CO2

    .

    .

    .

  78. Aron
    Go

    Naturally

    Of course it is irreversible. Humanity is too puny and irrelevant to have caused it and thus can't stop it either. We're not the huge influence that the religious movement called Environmentalism thinks we are.

  79. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    @Matthew

    The "CO2 was 17 times higher than today" claim for the Ice Age is simply bogus - in fact it was lower than today, and the curve you asked for is well known, as is the cause of the lag in it (which is to do with the solubility in the oceans of CO2 varying as the temperature varies). Probably too complicated for you, but that has no effect on its validity

    You can go and live on Venus if you think CO2 has no effect; let us know how that works out for you.

  80. Mark
    Boffin

    @Aron

    Are we? Or is that just an argument from personal incredulity?

    Remember, the earth's atmosphere is thinner in proportion to the earth than the skin of an apple.

    That's all we need to change, not the entire earth, just the extremely thin and tenuous gas that we all have to breathe.

  81. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    Whew!

    I guess we don't have to bother worrying about it anymore then, right?

    Close up the funding - we'll use the money we were going to pay into cleaning up the mess for the big "we're all gonna die!" farewell bash.

  82. Mark
    Paris Hilton

    @Wade Burchette

    And that is the same oregon petition that included names of people who have asked to be removed? The same petition that has names of people who are dead, fictional characters and not scientists?

    That petition?

    Or do you only check up for lies when the statement disagrees with your preconceptions?

  83. EvilGav

    Typical

    Yet another report/study predicting doom and gloom, based on studying facts, figures, other peoples work, whispered comments, runes and chicken entrails.

    Lets get things straight. Is there climate change ? Yes. Is there anthropogenic climate change ? jury's still out.

    If there is such a large concensus on everything being really bad and we need to do something, why isn't all the money being funnelled to these "scientists" who write the doom and gloom papers, not being given to physicists, biologists and chemists to work out a solution to the problem ? Like zero pollution energy production, tanks of hybrid algae (one of the larger consumers of CO2 I believe) and ways to collect and store (cheaply and efficiently) all the excess CO2.

    No, both sides of the argument are paying for reports to say whatever they want, with precious little actually being spent to find a solution.

  84. Mark

    Jury's still out????

    No, the jury if peers has come back and said "Yup, more than half is our fault".

  85. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Impossible

    "Please tell me how many millions of years that CO2 was from?"

    Your missing the point, even if we turned *all* 100% of biomass & oil and coal from plant material to CO2, NOW, in zero seconds, the earth would still not suffer runaway global warming.

    Because when all the carbon that we're creating from plant material WAS in the form of CO2, the earth didn't suffer runaway global warming. i.e. there isn't enough CO2 from all plant material, petroleum, coal biomass etc. to cause runaway global warming.

    "Jesus, you'll grab anything to make it better, won't you."

    It is better, Global Warming may be real, runaway global warming certainly isn't.

  86. Ogden Freen

    Wow, what a load o' horseshit

    Once again, I'm not a scientist. At least I admit it, unlike a lot of the posters here who submit their half baked comments here. Maybe if I claimed to be a scientists it would be worse, as some half wit even went as far as saying that no scientists (except of course computer scientists) produce anything of any use.

    I merely put forward that I tend to believe the published opinions of the Royal Society, the European Academy of Sciences and Arts, International Council of Academies of Engineering and Technological Sciences, the InterAcademy Council, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Geophysical Union, the Geological Society of America, the Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society, etc etc etc

    (The list is long)

    ...not to mention the IPCC

    I read popular science journals and the web.

    Because I don't run with the herd of Reg readers I get flamed.

    Bugger that.

    So you don't like hippies and don't trust THE VAST MAJORITY of scientists.

    Get over it.

  87. dervheid

    @ Wow, what a load o' horseshit

    Actually, I think you'll find it's bullshit.

    Yes, bullshit, and sheep-shit, goat-shit, chicken-shit, and yes, to a lesser extent horse-shit, hell even the camel-shit. Actually, it's ALL shit.

    Common element here - methane.

    Animals (and people) fart millions of tons of it every year, and methane is a considerably more effective greenhouse gas than CO2. Combine that with the methane from rotting garbage...

  88. Mark
    Alert

    dervheid, Super-Genius

    I'm pretty sure that nobody IN THE WORLD has *ever* thought of that.

    Your genius is unsurpassed and you will get a Nobel prize forthwith for uncovering the forgotten element.

    Methane.

    The World Salutes You.

    Saviour Of The Planet.

  89. Mark
    Flame

    Please show your workings

    "Your missing the point, even if we turned *all* 100% of biomass & oil and coal from plant material to CO2, NOW, in zero seconds, the earth would still not suffer runaway global warming."

    Please show your workings.

    Since you have stated this as evident truth, you must have done so.

    So, please. Show us.

    Or tell us the journal you have written that has this in.

    We await your magnificence to be revealed...

  90. dervheid

    Mark, I thank you

    Truly, I am humbled by your praise.

    I do it not for the glory, however, but for the generations to come after us.

    We MUST overcome this obsession with CO2, but let's not hold our breath on that one, shall we.

    Although, if you're volunteering...

  91. Mark
    Alert

    No, tell us more!!!

    Come on, you have more, we know it.

    Tell us how the sun is responsible for the heat on earth! That will prove the scientists wrong! I'm sure they forgot that too. They probably think it's just God's security light...

  92. dervheid
    Coat

    Mark, You're so right!

    The sun IS the problem!

    NASA are looking for volunteers for a manned mission, it's objective is to put an object large enough between the sun and the earth to reduce solar radiation just enough to slow down the naturally occurring warming cycle at the present hospitable temperature range.

    I have it on good authority that you were put forward for this mission, but your skull was deemed to be to large and dense and it's shadow would plunge the earth and all its inhabitants into an immediate ice-age, forcing us to burn even more precious fossil fuel, and/or all the lentil munching eco-nazis just to keep warm.

    I'm afraid I'd have to reject any call to participate, as I'm far too busy adding copious quantities of CO2 and methane into the atmosphere. Perhaps you'd care to join me for a large curry this evening. I'll send my driver round in the Hummer. Best bring your coat, apparently it's going to get really chilly.

  93. Mark

    Go on, Dervheid, you go

    You outshine the sun in your brilliance.

  94. Tom Paine Silver badge
    Alert

    Read the paper

    The paper's up for free at the PNAS site:

    http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2009/01/28/0812721106.full.pdf+html

    Denialists who would like to put their money where their typing fingers are invited to visit http://www.longbets.org/196 , where we can make the question of whether AGW is real or some vast conspiracy by liberal book-laarnin' "scientists" and their grant-hugging tree-knitting yogurty friends, or the scientific method actually works. I know which side my money's on.

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