Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

A perpetual favourite: anthropogenic climate change, and why it’s a bad idea

with 10 comments

rainfall_patterns.jpg

Green – increase in precipitation
Yellow – decrease in precipitation
Grey – disagreement between observed rainfall and climate models
White – insufficient data


A new study in Nature today says humans appear to have altered global rainfall patterns in the last 75 years. There has been a suspicion for some time that human activity has altered rainfall patterns, this is the first time scientists have been able to tease out the actual change due to human forcing from the climate record. This is not terribly important in and of itself, but it does help illustrate a few things worth blogging about. And it has implications that go beyond the scope of the study.

The primary thing it illustrates is that it’s another example of humans altering global climate. I know there’s still skeptics out there who are literally stuck in 19th century thinking…that the Earth is too big for humans to effect change on. This is another nail in the coffin of that quaint idea. Not even sure how the idea got started, there’s all sorts of systems around us that are easily altered by very small changes, a trivial change in blood chemistry for example can render a person unconscious or dead. I suspect it’s more a religious idea than anything else. A lot of scientific scepticism appears to be rooted in religion, who would have guessed?

This also once again illustrates the difference between weather and climate, another point that a lot of people, especially skeptics, have trouble with. Though to be fair, the confusion here is not limited to skeptics. In other words this study has no bearing on the terrible rains going on in the UK right now. Weather is what is going on outside your window right now, climate is average weather patterns over time. It’s a minor but crucial distinction, it’s not possible at this time to link extreme weather events to human activity. And it may never be possible. More importantly, it doesn’t matter. If climate changes, we all experience the change even if the local variation is subtle.

Note also that some areas of the map above “do not agree with the models.” I suppose there are some who will use this to attempt to discredit the whole study. I hardly even know where to start on this line of reasoning. Basically if one looks for minor discrepancies or areas where scientists don’t fully understand something, one could discredit any scientific theory. No scientific theory is so complete that there aren’t fuzzy areas that are not fully understood. If one wants to discredit a scientific theory, one has to come up with an alternative theory that better fits the available evidence. It’s easy to snipe at a theory, it’s a lot harder to actually come up with and prove a better theory.

And while this study is not terribly alarming in it’s own right, the whole idea that humans are altering global climate is alarming. The historical evidence is overwhelming that climate change has caused the collapse of numerous human civilizations. Civilizations are based on their agriculture, agriculture is very sensitive to climate change. So it’s a no brainer that changing the climate is a highly risky thing to do. I’d rather not be in the first civilization to collapse because of self induced climate change. Every study like this is further evidence that we are heading down a road that will lead us to places we don’t want to go.

In other words, the global polluters need to prove that what they are doing is harmless. If we wait until there is absolute proof that what they are doing is causing climate change, it may very well be too late. We are literally gambling with our own future.

(The above illustration is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It is not being used for profit and is central to illustrating the post. Credit: Nature.)

Written by unitedcats

July 25, 2007 at 8:54 am

10 Responses

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  1. We all have to change our way of living. The governments must play their part to fight the “war on environment” instead of fighting “war on terror”. I am doing my part to protect global warming and am sure you too are doing the same but our individual efforts combined with government efforts will save the earth.

    QB

    July 25, 2007 at 4:28 pm

  2. —The governments must play their part to fight the “war on environment” instead of fighting “war on terror”.—

    I disagree with that remark. Just imagine the progressive Western nations all busy greening up with sparkly new solar and wind farms, paid for with used-to-be military budgets.

    Clean (and cheap) electricity convinces industry to make the swicth willingly, and biofuel/hydrogen/hybrid vehicles reduce reliance on gasoline and diesel.

    You really think the oil-states will sit around peacefully while their one-commodity coffers are bankrupted and their poor are made even more destitute? All the energy farms, biofuel plants and green energy grids will become the new focus of extremist hatred.

    Take it from an RTS and Civilization player… You can’t focus on a super economy while neglecting to defend your juicy assets from jealous neighbours.

    I agree that we have to progress on non-polluting, renewable and terror-free energy. The question is how best to go about it.

    Scott Thong

    July 25, 2007 at 9:11 pm

  3. No one has suggested the USA simply drop it’s defenses, the problem is that we are spending more than the rest of the world combined. Other countries manage to defend their assets for far less money, and somehow are not hated by the extremists. And what the extremists hate most, is American armies based where American armies have no business being in the first place. A situation easily rectified and it will save tons of money and many American lives to boot. :)

    unitedcats

    July 25, 2007 at 9:23 pm

  4. Scott, hemp can grow in all of those oil producing states, and can produce oil.

    whig

    July 26, 2007 at 12:26 am

  5. Agreed. Pull back the troops, carpet bomb anyone who starts cheering at American weakness, restart official assassionations programmes, tighten border and internal security (which means the John Doe Act has to survive and ACLU has to be reined in), and withdraw all aid from the ungratious West-haters.

    Okay, so my national defense strategy is to turtle and build towers…

    Scott Thong

    July 26, 2007 at 12:43 am

  6. At least it’s a defence strategy, instead of the current “Let’s build an Empire and call it defending ourselves.”

    unitedcats

    July 26, 2007 at 7:05 am

  7. Doug,

    You can write your next post on this report.

    Study: Renewable Energy Not Green

    QB

    July 26, 2007 at 9:47 am

  8. Ah yes, the nuclear industry’s Dr Lindzen. Thanks, I might just.

    unitedcats

    July 26, 2007 at 5:30 pm

  9. As someone who doesn’t buy into the anthropogenic global warming issue, I thought I’d raise a few points about your blog.

    “The primary thing it illustrates is that it’s another example of humans altering global climate. ” – Like all other arguments for antrhopogenic climate change, the ‘scientific link’ is based on complex computer models that have proven time and again that when they aren’t carefully teased to provide the desired result, produce completely garbage information.

    Science does not work when conclusions are based on models that a written to provide the desired results – often using made up data where the real data is missing or incomplete.

    “This is another nail in the coffin of that quaint idea.” – This quaint idea is not that humans can’t or don’t affect change on a global scale, but rather that we don’t affect the specific changes specified by climate scaremongers (i.e. the end of the world).

    “A lot of scientific scepticism appears to be rooted in religion, who would have guessed?” – I am not a religious person, while this statement is certainly true some of the time, human history is full of examples where such sceptism, even that against the general consensus has later proven correct. (Plate tectonics, Sun at the center of the solar system to name a few of the more well known examples)

    “It’s easy to snipe at a theory, it’s a lot harder to actually come up with and prove a better theory.” – I agree with you on this one, however if people actually looked at the physical evidence themselves, rather than listening to the politically motivated opinions of those who benefit directly from the theory, you might find that there is not just one piece of evidence to snipe at, rather, there is not a single piece of evidence that actually holds up to scrutiny.

    The evidence points to an alternate theory, that actually does make sense and was drafted by a number of scientists the the UN IPCC quoted as being on their side (i.e. part of the consensus)

    “In other words, the global polluters need to prove that what they are doing is harmless. ” – This is the most common and irritating mistake in the climate change saga. Climate change and pollution are not the same thing. They are not even related. CO2 is NOT a polutant, in fact it is vital for the survival of all living things. Suplhar, methane, acids, solvents cfcs and other such things ARE pollutants that DO damage the environment. Ban the pollutants, leave CO2 alone.

    Stop buying into the hype, look at the real scientific data, and the arguments on both sides and you might find that anthropogenic climate change isn’t such a certainty.

    You might even understand why those in liberal countries are concerned about governments spending billions of dollars during a recession on something that very likely doesn’t even exist.

    Even worse, if it did exist, and we stopped all emissions tommorow the climate will still change! The climate has been much much warmer than it is today, and much colder. Anthropogenic forcings, even if they did exist are not causing any changes that are not already within the scope of earths natural cycles.

    In other words, if climate scaremongers are right, then no matter what we do we are all completely screwed.

    Chris

    December 16, 2008 at 12:42 pm

    • Well done Chris. I have been studying this topic for some time now and have realized how statistics have been skewed to fit the theory the politicians(not scientists) want people to believe.

      Much of the information shown to the public is only since meteorology began and not since the beginning of the global climate. I know it is hard for some to believe people can study climate from a time before meteorologists, but the evidence lies in the earth and ice.

      With studies of ice cores revealing the actual climate change over the last 10,000 to 600,000 years, evidence within them has proven that most of history in the last 10,000 years has been significantly warmer than now. And the coldest periods were around 140 years ago when meteorology began.

      Also, the exponential looking graphs are certainly skewed when all of the data is taken into account. This is why they are referred to as hockey stick graphs by the scientific community. The graphs do not show the actual data correctly.

      For more enlightenment please study for yourselves at http://www.climate-change or http://www.oism.org or http://www.globalwarmingheartland.org/

      You could also study the natural cycles of the Earth’s rotation and axis called milankovitch cycles which also varies how close to the sun the earth is over periods of time at geography.about.com/od/…/a/milankovitch.htm or geography.about.com/od/…/a/milankovitch.htm

      What ever you do, I hope you do not base your opinion solely on what the media tells you and you do your own research into all sides of the story.

      Lily

      August 26, 2009 at 4:10 pm


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