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Climate Scientists Struggle To Explain Warming Slowdown

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Scientists are struggling to explain a slowdown in climate change that has exposed gaps in their understanding and defies a rise in global greenhouse gas emissions.

Often focused on century-long trends, most climate models failed to predict that the temperature rise would slow, starting around 2000. Scientists are now intent on figuring out the causes and determining whether the respite will be brief or a more lasting phenomenon.

Getting this right is essential for the short and long-term planning of governments and businesses ranging from energy to construction, from agriculture to insurance. Many scientists say they expect a revival of warming in coming years.

Theories for the pause include that deep oceans have taken up more heat with the result that the surface is cooler than expected, that industrial pollution in Asia or clouds are blocking the sun, or that greenhouse gases trap less heat than previously believed.

The change may be a result of an observed decline in heat-trapping water vapor in the high atmosphere, for unknown reasons. It could be a combination of factors or some as yet unknown natural variations, scientists say.

Weak economic growth and the pause in warming is undermining governments' willingness to make a rapid billion-dollar shift from fossil fuels. Almost 200 governments have agreed to work out a plan by the end of 2015 to combat global warming.

"The climate system is not quite so simple as people thought," said Bjorn Lomborg, a Danish statistician and author of "The Skeptical Environmentalist" who estimates that moderate warming will be beneficial for crop growth and human health.

Some experts say their trust in climate science has declined because of the many uncertainties. The UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) had to correct a 2007 report that exaggerated the pace of melt of the Himalayan glaciers and wrongly said they could all vanish by 2035.

"My own confidence in the data has gone down in the past five years," said Richard Tol, an expert in climate change and professor of economics at the University of Sussex in England.

Swedish chemist Svante Arrhenius first showed in the 1890s how man-made carbon dioxide, from coal for instance, traps heat in the atmosphere. Many of the exact effects are still unknown.

Greenhouse gas emissions have hit repeated record highs with annual growth of about 3 percent in most of the decade to 2010, partly powered by rises in China and India. World emissions were 75 percent higher in 2010 than in 1970, UN data show.

A rapid rise in global temperatures in the 1980s and 1990s - when clean air laws in developed nations cut pollution and made sunshine stronger at the earth's surface - made for a compelling argument that human emissions were to blame.

The IPCC will seek to explain the current pause in a report to be released in three parts from late 2013 as the main scientific roadmap for governments in shifting from fossil fuels towards renewable energies such as solar or wind power, the panel's chairman Rajendra Pachauri said.

According to Pachauri, temperature records since 1850 "show there are fluctuations. They are 10, 15 years in duration. But the trend is unmistakable."

The IPCC has consistently said that fluctuations in the weather, perhaps caused by variations in sunspots or a La Nina cooling of the Pacific, can mask any warming trend and the panel has never predicted a year-by-year rise in temperatures.

Experts say short-term climate forecasts are vital to help governments, insurers and energy companies to plan. <- plan how to tax you

Governments will find little point in reinforcing road bridges over rivers, for instance, if a prediction of more floods by 2100 doesn't apply to the 2020s.

A section of a draft IPCC report, looking at short-term trends, says temperatures are likely to be 0.4 to 1.0 degree Celsius (0.7-1.8F) warmer from 2016-35 than in the two decades to 2005. Rain and snow may increase in areas that already have high precipitation and decline in areas with scarcity, it says.

Pachauri said climate change can have counter-intuitive effects, like more snowfall in winter that some people find hard to accept as side-effects of a warming trend. An IPCC report last year said warmer air can absorb more moisture, leading to heavier snowfall in some areas.

A study by Dutch experts this month sought to explain why there is now more sea ice in winter. It concluded melted ice from Antarctica was refreezing on the ocean surface - this fresh water freezes more easily than dense salt water.

Some experts challenged the findings.

"The hypothesis is plausible I just don't believe the study proves it to be true," said Paul Holland, an ice expert at the British Antarctic Survey.

Concern about climate change is rising in some nations, however, opinion polls show. Extreme events, such as Superstorm Sandy that hit the U.S. east coast last year, may be the cause. A record heatwave in Australia this summer forced weather forecasters to add a new dark magenta color to the map for temperatures up to 54 degrees Celsius (129F).

What is a climate scientist? Somebody who gathers empirical data from measured phenomena and tries to create an analytical function to predict that behaviour, using numerical methods and statisics. Their education? Could be anything in the sciences.

Bigger questions: Is there money in it? Is the research unbiased? Depends on who is forking out your endowment / funding.

Folk really need to start looking through the hyperbole and see that the doom laden prophecies and threats of 'extinction events' are more about hot air amassed by the politico, based on what can only be defined as subjective opinion being justified by imperfect dynamic models. When all the smoke is cleared it is quite obviously for the sole purpose of getting your money into their pockets.

You don't need to hold a Ph.D in a branch of science to know that Al Gore and his ilk are raking in massive profits by scaring you with their brand of doom.

Theory is not fact, and time after time... here and everywhere... weather forecasting models for perhaps a week are often dead wrong. Basing long term social policy on even less accurate models just serves to rob you silly based on what can be construed as outright misrepresentations... call it lies?

You've got your whole life ahead of you, in an ever growing, competitive and often dangerous world. You raise a family, seek to be comfortable and secure, and that should be your right.

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What is a climate scientist? Somebody who gathers empirical data from measured phenomena and tries to create an analytical function to predict that behaviour, using numerical methods and statisics.

That's just wrong. You need to actually learn something about the field before telling people what they are doing in it.

And if you want to claim that people are making up results for money then you may want to offer some evidence for it. Instead of smears and innuendo.

There's a relevant link for you to ignore here

WhereGWisgoing1.gif

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It could be a combination of factors or some as yet unknown natural variations, scientists say.

No, you don't say.

In other words "we have absolutely no idea".

Meanwhile, expensive climate change policies and planning just go full steam ahead regardless. And still critics are dismissed as loonies.

There has to be a proverb that sums it all up.....

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Well this one isn't far of the mark...

"When fools have nothing to talk about they talk about the weather".

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I will remain skeptical until someone makes a prediction that actually happens.

There probably is man made global warming, but it doesn't seem anyone understands it, yet any opposing views are shouted down.

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That's just wrong. You need to actually learn something about the field before telling people what they are doing in it.

And if you want to claim that people are making up results for money then you may want to offer some evidence for it. Instead of smears and innuendo.

There's a relevant link for you to ignore here

WhereGWisgoing1.gif

You really take this personal don't you? Just looking at your language, "smears"? "Innuendo"? Is it that frustrating talking to us "non scientists" ? How do we reach your level of knowledge, so that we can be allowed to discuss it? Follow various websites, like the one you linked? "skeptical science" . really. More like "balls deep" into AGW.

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That's just wrong. You need to actually learn something about the field before telling people what they are doing in it.

And if you want to claim that people are making up results for money then you may want to offer some evidence for it. Instead of smears and innuendo.

There's a relevant link for you to ignore here

WhereGWisgoing1.gif

What's the point? There is no rational argument you can make that will make any impact on ideologically held beliefs. How can you argue against people who think that because a topic is not fully understood, it must be wrong?

There will always be scientific illiterates who are gullible enough to swallow the media propaganda put about by those with a vested interest in continued fossil fuel use, on this site as elsewhere. You might as well try to convince the creationist half of the US population of the validity of evolution!

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You really take this personal don't you? Just looking at your language, "smears"? "Innuendo"? Is it that frustrating talking to us "non scientists" ? How do we reach your level of knowledge, so that we can be allowed to discuss it? Follow various websites, like the one you linked? "skeptical science" . really. More like "balls deep" into AGW.

If you really are interested in the science behind global warming, I suggest you browse through just about any science magazine (e.g. New Scientist, Scientific American, etc.) rather than relying on mainstream media and websites.

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I will remain skeptical until someone makes a prediction that actually happens.

There probably is man made global warming, but it doesn't seem anyone understands it, yet any opposing views are shouted down.

http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/docs/1981/1981_Hansen_etal.pdf

If your definition of "shouted down" is "shown to be either false or lacking in substance" then, yes, you have a point.

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No, you don't say.

In other words "we have absolutely no idea".

Meanwhile, expensive climate change policies and planning just go full steam ahead regardless. And still critics are dismissed as loonies.

There has to be a proverb that sums it all up.....

In which universe would that be? In this one, and in this country in particular, political foot-dragging, bureaucracy and opportunism has slowed the actual implementation of climate change mitigation measures to a crawl.

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What I find very sad is that the whole climate change debate has pushed aside far more omnipresent and real dangers.

Basically all the MSM talk about these days is CO2, nobody seems to care about the dangers of modern pesticides that are causing widespread bee deaths (which is a far bigger and more real problem than climate change for the survival of humanity), and all the other heavy metals and synthetic pollutants we ingest daily with our food, which are casing cancer and other 'civilisation' illnesses at epidemic levels never seen before in the history of humanity.

We certainly need to switch to a more sustainable lifestyle and focus research on eliminating all harmful chemicals from our food chain and from industrial processes.

CO2 is a very minor concern (if at all) compared to these problems that are killing millions of people prematurely right now every single day.

---

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You really take this personal don't you? Just looking at your language, "smears"? "Innuendo"?

Looking at the OP, how else could it be described?

Is it that frustrating talking to us "non scientists" ?

It's frustrating talking to people who have very strong opinions on a subject but very little actual knowledge of it.

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What I find very sad is that the whole climate change debate has pushed aside far more omnipresent and real dangers.

Basically all the MSM talk about these days is CO2, nobody seems to care about the dangers of modern pesticides that are causing widespread bee deaths (which is a far bigger and more real problem than climate change for the survival of humanity), and all the other heavy metals and synthetic pollutants we ingest daily with our food, which are casing cancer and other 'civilisation' illnesses at epidemic levels never seen before in the history of humanity.

We certainly need to switch to a more sustainable lifestyle and focus research on eliminating all harmful chemicals from our food chain and from industrial processes.

CO2 is a very minor concern (if at all) compared to these problems that are killing millions of people prematurely right now every single day.

---

While there are many environmental issues worthy of greater attention, including the ones you highlight, do not make the mistake of assuming that AGW is a minor issue simply because of its long-term nature. True, our generation is unlikely to be strongly affected by AGW, but its effects on future generations could be catastrophic. Some of those opposing AGW mitigation are honest enough to admit that they simply don't care what happens to as yet unborn people, but that's not a position I'd consider moral.

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Looking at the OP, how else could it be described?

It's frustrating talking to people who have very strong opinions on a subject but very little actual knowledge of it.

Aye, it's nearly as bad as talking to NeoChristian evangelists out on a 'mission'.

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What's the point? There is no rational argument you can make that will make any impact on ideologically held beliefs. How can you argue against people who think that because a topic is not fully understood, it must be wrong?

'May be wrong' is what someone with a neutral view on this subject would have said . . :rolleyes:

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It's frustrating talking to people who have very strong opinions on a subject but very little actual knowledge of it.

Could the same be argued of climate scientists?

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'May be wrong' is what someone with a neutral view on this subject would have said . . :rolleyes:

No, all scientific theories "may be wrong" and virtually all scientific theories are incomplete. The Standard Model of particle physics, for example, may well be incorrect and certainly leaves some aspects of particle physics unexplained. Yet it is still the best model we have of fundamental physics and has proved its worth.

Similarly, the scientists studying AGW may be on completely the wrong track. However, their theories (in particular, that CO2 concentrations strongly influence climate) currently provide the best explanation for the changes that have occurred in the past and thus have predictive power. If anyone could come up with an alternative theory that better fits observations, then AGW would no longer be an issue. Simply pointing out gaps in the understanding of a theory does not discredit it in any way though. Many people make this mistake.

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Their consensus models are wrong.

Obviously.

Which ought to be incredibly worrying for everyone.

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Their consensus models are wrong.

Obviously.

Which ought to be incredibly worrying for everyone.

There is no such thing as a perfect model. Models of the Earth's climate include a number a factors, of which the effect of greenhouse warming is just one. Some of these factors are uncertain, such as the quantity of aerosols in the atmosphere or the rate at which heat passes into the oceans. This does not mean that the models are not useful or have no predictive power.

Of course, it would be better if these uncertainties could be reduced, which is why climate scientists like James Hansen have long campaigned for better monitoring of atmospheric aerosols, for example. These pleas have often fallen on deaf political ears.

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what have the climate models successfully predicted exactly?

The long-term nature of AGW means that its main effects are still in the future, though Hansen's 1981 predictions of global temperature increases concentrated at the poles were pretty much on the mark, as were his predictions of the opening of the Northwest Passage and Northern Sea Route.

In future it is predicted that the mean global temperature will continue to rise at an average of about 0.2 C per decade this century and that melting land ice will lead to sea levels rising by roughly 40 cm by the end of the century. The Arctic Ocean is predicted to become ice-free in the summer within a couple a decades or so.

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Similarly, the scientists studying AGW may be on completely the wrong track. However, their theories (in particular, that CO2 concentrations strongly influence climate) currently provide the best explanation for the changes that have occurred in the past and thus have predictive power.

erm... whut?

There are indeed many people who make the mistake that models that correlate well with historic events can predict the future. Many lose their shirts on the stock market and the horses every day as a result.

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erm... whut?

There are indeed many people who make the mistake that models that correlate well with historic events can predict the future. Many lose their shirts on the stock market and the horses every day as a result.

I just sunk my head in my hands

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erm... whut?

There are indeed many people who make the mistake that models that correlate well with historic events can predict the future. Many lose their shirts on the stock market and the horses every day as a result.

.. and in neither case would their models be physically constrained. In the case of the chartists of the world, not constrained by reality in any way, shape or form.

Basic estimates of climate sensitivity from a variety of sources come in at around the same value (with a few outliers that the skeptics attach extreme importance to regardless of soundness). You don't need complicated computer models.

And it bears repeating that if the sensitivity was as low as often claimed, the whole planet would be frozen over. Something that the skeptics will deal with, Any Time Now.. (cue tumbleweed rolling past)

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  • 243 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?


      • down 5% +
      • down 2.5%
      • Even
      • up 2.5%
      • up 5%



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