A Conversation for Talking Point: Are Recent Weather Extremes Caused by Global Warming?
Researcher 159528 Started conversation Nov 9, 2000
Global Warming is very simple to understand. There is this really hugh star that is very close to planet earth. This star does not burn at a constant temp. Sometimes it gets hotter than its normal and sometime it get cooler than its normal. This very small planet doesn't really have much of a choice but to go along with what the star (our sun) is doing.
So right now it is a little hotter than normal and so are we.
Is mise Duncan Posted Nov 9, 2000
Aah yes, but along with this this fluctuation in energy from the sun there is also a fluctuation in the amount we absorb.
When the atmosphere is full of dust, as happens after a major volcanic eruption, less heat gets from the sun to here and the erath cools. This may have been responsible for the mini ice age.
When the atmosphere is full of carbon diaoxide and water vapour less energu gets reflected back out into space and the earth gets warmer. This is what people are worrying about at the moment.
Dinsdale Piranha Posted Nov 9, 2000
I do get a little impatient with the assumption that 'Man's arrogant disregard for Mother Nature' is responsible for global warming. Humans are only responsible for a tiny amount of the greenhouse gases - about 2% in total, I think.
The recent forest fires in the US dwarfed anything humans have produced, likewise Mount St. Helen's. Working on the assumption that 'every little helps', then yes, we should try and reduce our car usage, etc. But we're fooling ourselves if we think it will have any real effect on our output (the 2%, that is).
Fortunately, I live at the top of a hill, and can look down on the River Arun flooding with a sense of relief that it won't reach me. I'm surprised that they haven't built houses on the water meadows at Pulborough. Yes, I know they flood EVERY winter, but that doesn't seem to have stopped planning permission being granted elsewhere. I can't believe we've got a Council with sense, so I suppose it must just be luck.
Administrator-General (5+0+9)*3+0 Posted Nov 9, 2000
The way I hear it, that big burning thing in the sky is *cooler* than normal right now due to sunspot activity, and has been getting cooler since the 1950s. More sunspots, more storms. Of course, it's possible that global warming of Earthly origin just gives the storms more to work with...
If the sun were getting *warmer*, we'd see a lot more effects like what happened around the turn of the last millennium:
* Grapes growing in Newfoundland.
* Agriculture viable in Greenland.
* Agriculture more productive throughout northern Europe.
* Ocean navigation eased by *fewer* storms. Check the Viking records.
Güthwinë Posted Nov 9, 2000
Wow. Sensible people for a change. I have to say, I agree. In fact, I find it, well, rather arrogant that people would believe that we even *could* affect the weather, even if we wanted to. (Nuclear winter notwithstanding.)
For some other possible effects of a warming Earth (whether caused by men, the sun, or otherwise) look back about 6,000 years or so. Earth was, I believe, something like 6 degrees Fahrenheit warmer (how they come up with these numbers is beyond me, but I'm quoting it anyway). The Sahara was a swamp... the sea levels were lower, which is theoretically what allowed the ancestors of our Native Americans to cross the land bridge from Asia, etc. etc. etc.
I realize that there's a lot more involved here... but all the climatic models show is that, even if the Earth were to warm a *lot*, there would be a somewhat rocky transition period while the climate patterns readjusted themselves, and then everything would settle down again. And... how often is the climate staying *stable* anyway?
Güthwinë Posted Nov 9, 2000
Oh, thought I might explain that warmer earth/lower sea level connection. Anyone who lives in a truly frigid climate knows that it doesn't snow very much below about 10 deg. Fahrenheit (-12 C). It is simply too cold for the crystallization process to occur. Even here in balmy Wisconsin, we have little to no snow between mid-January and mid-February, as it rarely tops that magic 10-15 degree mark. The ice caps are almost permanenty colder than this, and for this reason, are basically deserts. (I believe there is also an atmospheric effect involved, in that the air that reaches the poles is quite dry in the first place as well.) But the thing is, the ice caps can only grow very slowly, because so little snow falls. So little snow falls because it's too cold for most of the year. If it were a few degrees warmer, it would proportionately increase the snowfall, and the icecaps would slowly begin growing.
Now, I myself can't understand how the effect of this could be anything but infinitesimal when compared to the huge volume of the oceans, but who knows?
As always, Güthwinë.
Bizarre Behavior Posted Nov 10, 2000
In addition to all of the wonderful points you folks have made above, we must also consider the technological advances of humankind. Not that those advances have any effect on the temperature of the planet or the weather patterns; rather, they have affected our ability to communicate. Weather "abnormalities" have existed through the whole of time. We are just better able to report these weather activites with more frequency and accuracy. There have been great floods, Hurricanes, and peoriods of dry conditions in ALL regions of the world over the course of our planet's relatively short history. We, the masses, are just better informed of them in today's age of information on demand.
JAR (happy to be back, but where's Ping?) Posted Nov 10, 2000
Just to add to the suspense: A (very) few miles away form the Geographical Northpole a lake has been spotted. I thought the north pole was supposed to be freezing cold?
Munchkin Posted Nov 10, 2000
I personally reckon that yes, we are helping to change the climate by adding Greenhouse gasses. However, all the news reports go on about the weather in relation to an average which, since the discovery of Chaos theory, has been proved to not exist. The weather cycles, while being very similar, never actually repeat. It can never be exactly the same twice. Hence you can't have an average to divert from. Also, Almost every weather prediciton model ever made, at some point, crashes to the White Earth situation, i.e. a frozen lifeless ball due to lack of heat. So, global cooling is actually more likely, naturally, than Global Warming. Well at least that is what the book I read said.
If you're right and the environmentalists are wrong, reducing energy usage will have the effect of making fossil fuels last longer, with the downside of balancing out recent reductions in costs of manufactured goods due to more efficient systems and processes.
If you're wrong and the environmentalists are right, continuing to burn fossil fuels unchecked will have the result of flooding large parts of Europe and coastal regions of the USA, and potentially making the earth uninhabitable.
Seems a pretty simple choice to me.
Zarniroop (er.... I'll think of something amusing to put here soon!) Posted Nov 11, 2000
I think you just hit the nail on the head.
All you fossil burners out there,
Are tou really convinced you aren't contributing to global warming, restricting development of new cleaner technologies, just so thatthe share holders of oil companies can continue to make outrageous profits from us and fund the climate change coalition, an organisation funded by many of the big oil companies to A) deny that global warming is happening and B)deny that burning fossil fuels causes global warming.
Think about it these people are into a quick profit and not leaving anything useful for future generations.
Zarniroop (Ex-Pesident of the universe)
Two Bit Trigger Pumping Moron Posted Nov 12, 2000
I always been curious about the subject, but I don't have the science background to understand the whole thing. My sense is that the everything is so politicized, It'd be hard to get straight answer out of anyone.
To me it sounds like alarmism. When you hear about things like the petition from concerned scientist which was signed by English professors it makes me wonder. How do you know who to believe?
I would like to have alternative sources of energy. The more compeating technologies we have, the better off I think we'd be. However, do we want to cut our economic thrat to prevent something that may or may not happen?
For those of you interested in one view of what could happen, check out Fallen Angles by Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven. It's a cute book that deals with the after effects of a world where the enviromentalists took over. It puts Sci Fi fans in a pretty good light too.
Güthwinë Posted Nov 13, 2000
I do agree, despite my views that a lot of what's being hyped is simple alarmism, that it would be a good idea to continue work on developing alternative energy resources, and reducing greenhouse gasses and such, if only to be sure we aren't doing anything we don't want to be doing. I've just always had this sort of bizarre feeling that if we ever DO do anything to destroy our planet, it's going to be nothing we saw coming. I know it's really not logical, but I can picture our descendants, starving to death on barren windswept plains, damning us with their dying breaths for our irresponsible use of aerosol cheese.
Güthwinë Posted Nov 13, 2000
Yes. One more bizarre idea from my slightly warped mind.
(Hey, I heard that!)
Administrator-General (5+0+9)*3+0 Posted Nov 13, 2000
I'm all in favor of alternative energy resources too... mostly because we need more energy resources.
As for amateur unintentional terraforming of the Earth: We might as well admit that relative to nature, we *are* as gods now, and it would behoove us to be *good* at it.
JAR (happy to be back, but where's Ping?) Posted Nov 13, 2000
I must object. Gods -no. Demi-gods -yes. Remember that nature can still plunge us into thousand years of darkness and cold through a massive volcanoe or something equally unpleasent.
Still, I agree very much to the point that we have a lot of power, and should act accordingly: with a lot of responsebility and respect.
When do you suppose the fusion-plants are up and running? And how much unforeseen damage will they cause? (moot question, I know...)
Fossil fuels vs Alternate Energy
Bruce Posted Nov 13, 2000
The supposition that 'alternate energies' are more environmentally friendly than fossil fuels is a furphy.
Almost all of the currently consumable energy available on the planet is derived from the sun - fossil fuels are just sunlight that arrived a while ago.
Without any intervention by man something happens to every bit of energy that arrives, or has ever arrived, from the sun - if you use any of that energy for something else then it must affect the environment - the amount arriving is finite.
Solar panels - that are supposedly so easy on the envoronment are incredibly dirty to manufacture, & often don't recoup the energy expended in their manufacture. Plus, if there were enough solar panels in use to provide a significant proportion of human energy needs they would have a noticeable impact due to the land area covered/shaded. Also, of course, significant amount of sunlight energy would be pulled out of the system - which will affect the environment - will global cooling be the next problem?
Wind generators - yes well these must be clean - except of course that the wind is part of the environment & taking energy out of the wind here will affect the amount of wind energy received over there - which will affect the amount of rainfall in both places for starters.
Tide generators - I forsee future greenies being described as 'oyster huggers' when they have to start fighting to preserve tidal ecosystems from the might of the industrial machine.
Hydo electric - flooded ecosystems & fish unable to travel upstream to breed & adverse effects on downstream flow rates resulting in reduced flushing & increased pollutant buildups.
I can't think of any exceptions - I guess the only answer is to consume less energy altogether - turn on your screensavers now .
Don't forget that the fathers of the guys selling you alternate energy were the guys who sold "virtually limitless, totally clean & cheap energy" systems - nuclear reactors
Fossil fuels vs Alternate Energy
Güthwinë Posted Nov 13, 2000
Yeah, the problem you always come to is that there are disadvantages to *every* energy source. And if we keep worrying about what *might* become a foreseeable problem within the next 17 millenia, we might as well just die now, because we won't be able to acheive *anything* if we are going to be that frightened about the future. That's just the way I see it.
I also have to say, wind farms are beautiful. I remember an evening. The kind of evening that you get after a day that's been really warm, almost but not quite uncomfortably hot, but cooling off as the sun goes down. I was sitting on a hill in a vineyard in Thüringen, looking over a wide valley, watching the sun go down behind the wind turbines in the distance, watching them just turning, turning, turning. I have never seen anything so tranquil as those turbine blades gently rotating in the warm air.
Key: Complain about this post
- 1: Researcher 159528 (Nov 9, 2000)
- 2: Is mise Duncan (Nov 9, 2000)
- 3: Dinsdale Piranha (Nov 9, 2000)
- 4: Administrator-General (5+0+9)*3+0 (Nov 9, 2000)
- 5: Güthwinë (Nov 9, 2000)
- 6: Güthwinë (Nov 9, 2000)
- 7: Just zis Guy, you know? † Cyclist [A690572] :: At the 51st centile of ursine intelligence (Nov 9, 2000)
- 8: Bizarre Behavior (Nov 10, 2000)
- 9: JAR (happy to be back, but where's Ping?) (Nov 10, 2000)
- 10: Munchkin (Nov 10, 2000)
- 11: Just zis Guy, you know? † Cyclist [A690572] :: At the 51st centile of ursine intelligence (Nov 10, 2000)
- 12: Zarniroop (er.... I'll think of something amusing to put here soon!) (Nov 11, 2000)
- 13: Two Bit Trigger Pumping Moron (Nov 12, 2000)
- 14: Güthwinë (Nov 13, 2000)
- 15: Güthwinë (Nov 13, 2000)
- 16: Administrator-General (5+0+9)*3+0 (Nov 13, 2000)
- 17: JAR (happy to be back, but where's Ping?) (Nov 13, 2000)
- 18: Bruce (Nov 13, 2000)
- 19: Güthwinë (Nov 13, 2000)
- 20: Güthwinë (Nov 13, 2000)