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Is Earth past the tipping point?


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Earth graphic from Foley videoBiodiversity loss. Land use. Freshwater use. Nitrogen and phosphorus cycles. Stratospheric ozone. Ocean acidification. Climate change. Chemical Pollution. Aerosol loading in the atmosphere.

A team of 30 scientists across the globe have determined that the nine environmental processes named above must remain within specific limits, otherwise the "safe operating space" within which humankind can exist on Earth will be threatened. Amid some controversy, the group has set numeric limits for seven of the nine so far (chemical pollution and aerosol loading are still being pinned down). And the researchers have determined that the world has already crossed the boundary in three cases: biodiversity loss, the nitrogen cycle and climate change.

Jon Foley, director of the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment, and a leader of the group, lays out the limits and their implications for human action in an article in Scientific American‘s April issue.

He also discusses the issues in a podcast with our own Steve Mirsky.

Foley’s team was so moved by the research effort that it put together a compelling video (see below) dramatizing the situation, generated entirely with typography, graphics and energizing music. You can learn more about the team’s work at its research site, too.

Image: Earth graphic from Foley video

 








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  1. 1. Sisko 9:12 am 03/22/2010

    @ Robert- rarely have I read so much mindless baloney posted in one place as in your last post. Your wrongly grouping all those who do not agree with YOUR beliefs as "right wing denialists" is in a word STUPID.

    You wrote: Your problem is, you are thinking that if it gets a few degrees hotter how will that affect YOU!- Wrong- what was written and asked is; if a warmer planet is really worse for humanity overall. The point being made is there is no evidence that a warmer planet is worse for humanity OVERALL.

    Your stupidly wrote: But if it comes at the expense of massive crop failures, wide spread desertification, culminating in an abrupt reversal into a new ice age, the price is too high. Making alarmist and dramatic claims with ZERO evidence to support them does not make them true. Why do you believe there would be MASSIVE crop failures planet wide??? Oh is climate change going to happen in a single season??? LOL. What data do you have to show that a higher percentage of the earth will become desert like as a result of it potentially becoming warmer. (answer you don’t have and data to support that statement, only alarmist rhetoric) How is increased carbon in the atmosphere bad for the rain forests overall???

    So in conclusion, caring about our long term environment makes perfect sense. Making unsubstantiated claims about the environment does nothing positive.

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  2. 2. eco-steve 12:06 pm 03/22/2010

    50% of the population have lower than average QIs. The experts who are monitoring Climate Change are probably in the top 1% of QIs. There is not much hope that a majority of people will study all the facts Climate Change Science is based on. So waiting for democracy to come to any sensible decision is as likely as liberals doing anything for the 2,000,000,000 people starving or barely existing on $1 a day…

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  3. 3. 23krash 12:56 pm 03/22/2010

    Yes, I do. That is how the planet works. Do you really think that trees aren’t very important to man’s existence? Do you think that ecosystems are isolated and they do not interact with each other? Who knows how the planet will fare. But, consider this to be a cleansweep of the problems it is facing. Especially humans… It’s simple for me, learn and adapt, or die.

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  4. 4. Sisko 3:11 pm 03/22/2010

    @ elizabetta– be careful of how impressed you are with the positions taken by your own group of friends. It is very easy to become self delusional. I suggest that you demand to look at the data supporting a position vs. blindly accepting it as truth.

    Some think of global warming in a very similar manner as they look at religion. "if you do not agree with their position (or belief) then it is straight to hades for you".

    Well guess what, some of us actually do study science and do not accept either your other silly religious superstitions or this one related to the harms of a warmer planet without further data to support the conclusion.

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  5. 5. robert schmidt 5:44 pm 03/22/2010

    @Sisko, "some of us actually do study science", you seem to be including yourself in there which is a complete joke, unless you define studying science as reading denialist blogs. That wouldn’t be surprising as it seems to be what most denialist consider rigorous science.

    But for those of you that aren’t afraid of the truth, here are a few easily accessible reports about the implications of global climate change.

    From Oxfam;
    http://allan.lissner.net/the-effects-of-climate-change-are-the-greatest-threat-to-humanity-oxfam/

    From the Feb 2010 Quadrennial Defence Review (DoD)
    http://www.defense.gov/QDR/QDR%20as%20of%2026JAN10%200700.pdf

    Some notable quotes from the DoD report;

    "climate-related changes are already being observed in every region of the world, including the United States and its coastal waters."

    "Assessments conducted by the intelligence community indicate that climate change could have significant geopolitical impacts around the world, contributing to poverty, environmental degradation, and the further weakening of fragile governments. Climate change will contribute to food and water scarcity, will increase the spread of disease, and may spur or exacerbate mass migration."

    This is only a small sample of the material out there. The negative impacts from climate change are broad ranging and, of course, global in nature. It will take considerable effort to minimize damage and loss of life. The PR war being raged by the denialist fringe only results in delays in addressing the issues. Ultimately, you are killing people with your stupidity. You need to get yourself education or shut up and let the people who know what their doing, do their jobs. Sounding the alarm when there is approaching danger is prudent. Lying in order to advance your world view is malevolent.

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  6. 6. pokerplyer 7:38 pm 03/22/2010

    @ Robert- it is good to know you insult all who do not agree with your position. The links you have posted point out alarmist dribble and absolutely no factual information.

    The 1st link you referenced: http://allan.lissner.net/the-effects-of-climate-change-are-the-greatest-threat-to-humanity-oxfam/- list things that "might happen" with a single piece of factual information to support the conclusions or any discussion of potential offsetting positive benefits.

    As it happens, I am very familar with the QDR and it certainly included no information regarding a factual study of the potential impacts of global warming.

    You referenced a point from the report "Climate change will contribute to food and water scarcity, will increase the spread of disease, and may spur or exacerbate mass migration." —and what was the underlying data to support this conclusion??? When you read more you find that many of the conclusions were based upon the points raised in the the IOCC report. The report that all know now greatly overstated any impact of climate change.

    Ok, so please show me one model that accurately predicts even a single environmental change that ties to increased carbon in the atomsphere. Virtually every alarmist claim made 3 years ago has been proven incorrect. So what specific change do you BELIEVE will happen in the next 5 years?

    Do you even accept that a warmer planet may be better overall for humanity? Do you agree, at least in theory that there may be benefits? Don’t you believe all the changes need to be evaluated vs just what you believe is negative? It is certainly easier to point out only the things you think are bad….it is so dramatic….it just isn’t honest.

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  7. 7. robert schmidt 8:38 pm 03/22/2010

    @pokerplyer, You are asking for models now while all along you idiotic deniers have been saying that models are meaningless. Look up "moving the goal-post" fallacy. Why don’t you show me a model of how we can change ecosystems all over the planet without destabilizing them? Show me a model where you can raise the temperate of the ocean and drop the salinity without harming the inhabitants. Here is a better test of your theory, chamber a bullet in a gun and put it to your head, then continue to pull the trigger until you know with absolute certainty that the next shot will be fatal. Don’t worry about the risks because they don’t count. Risk evaluations aren’t certainty. Anyway, you shouldn’t listen to those people who say guns are dangerous. That’s just the anti-gun lobby trying to take away our rights. The only thing that counts is the absolute certainty that the next shot will kill you. And if you take a guess and you’re wrong; well then I guess we can’t trust you anymore so you just got to keep pulling that trigger until the inevitable. That is called a "burden of proof" fallacy; placing unreasonable requirements on an opponent’s proposition in order to invalidate it.

    You are unbelievable. I wouldn’t trust you to tell me the day of the week and you are claiming you know more than the IOCC, Department of Defence and Oxfam! You are seriously mentally ill. "Virtually every alarmist claim made 3 years ago has been proven incorrect" yes! They have been understated! Glaciers are moving faster, melting faster, polar sea ice is melting decades before it was initially predicted. The alarmist claims from decades ago are now unrealistically conservative. You wonder why I insult you instead of providing info, you wouldn’t accept any info I provide. No matter what, you will come up with some conspiracy theory or other B.S. that will allow you to lie to yourself about what’s going on. You are ignorant of the facts, you are incapable of rational thought, you think you are surrounded by conspiracies; in short you are a wasted mind. I attack you because your actions are causing harm; you are irresponsibly spreading misinformation about things that you have chosen not to take the time to understand. You are not someone with a different opinion interested in discussing the facts; you are a mindless automaton spewing anti-science propaganda. You want respect? Earn it.

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  8. 8. elizabetta 9:17 pm 03/22/2010

    Sisko, I don’t get info about climate change from my friends. I was merely making an observation about the friends, family members, mailman, garage mechanics, doctors, lawyers, etc… that I know, and which ones are concerned about the environment and which ones are not. It seems like the ones who are concerned about their own bodies …those who eat right, don’t smoke, exercise, have clean yards and houses…also are the ones who care about the environment. The ones who don’t maintain their own bodies, they’re fat because they overeat, they smoke, they throw trash out their car windows and have dirty houses and yards….they tend to be the ones who think everyone who cares about the environment is a crazy tree hugger. It’s merely an observation of what I have seen in my own surroundings.

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  9. 9. elizabetta 9:29 pm 03/22/2010

    Sisko, BTW, I worked in research for a number of years, and care only about the facts, evidence, and science. I have no faith in anything but the facts. The fact is, I am sure climate change is real and is being caused by human activity. However, even for those who don’t think climate change is real, I think it would be hard to find anyone who could deny that we are damaging the Earth with a multitude of assaults. If we just quit using fossil fuels it would solve a number of issues that you surely believe in… like giving us cleaner air, cleaner water, and we would not be sending billions of dollars a year to oil countries that hate us. Surely you can’t argue with that. We should try to find common ground instead of just arguing over the details that we can’t agree on.

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  10. 10. mtrancher 9:36 pm 03/22/2010

    Wow! I see a lot of opinions based on very narrow viewpoints and some with an arrogant "academic" posture. Elizabetta; you refer to "silent woods" and loss of wildlife. I never saw a bald eagle till I was in college (i’m 70 now) now they are common along with sandhills, swans, herons, owls and pelicans which were also seldom seen. Deer are everywhere and the highways are littered with them, I have 10 to 20 in my yard and shelterbelt most of the time, pronghorn populations are abundant now; they used to be a real "look at that" when I was a kid. Elk are in serious decline and presently hiding in cattle herds on private land since the reintroduction of the wolf; the wolf is doing great things in Yellowstone to balance the ungulates with the available forage though! Too bad the environmentalists can’t grasp the idea that wolves need some serious control on private land and in agricultural situations.

    Enviro’s and AGW’s have done some serious research but they need to use some practicality in the use of their data. Why do we put our timber industry out of work, import our lumber and watch our own forests burn? All that bare mineral soil exposed to erosion and soot and fire gases is not a problem if ignition was due to a lightening strike? We know how to log responsibly now and isn’t lumber in a structure a way of sinking carbon; I know the areas that were logged 25-50 years ago and they look really good now! We have entire forests of red, dying trees and even the firewood gatherers can only go 50′ off the road (the rest of the USFS allows 300′).

    And who thought of the alcohol from corn thing! Any observer of ag markets could have seen that was a wreck coming. But the politicians still support the price to disrupt ag markets and try to prove its a significant contribution to the energy supply. Better they had tried forest byproducts.

    The scientific community shot themselves in the foot with what was leaked from their e-mails; it may sound worse than it was but IMO their credibility needs to be re-established. And carbon cap & trade is another pipe dream to make more wall street billionaires trading an imaginary commodity! Surely there’s a better solution that will make enough economic sense to sell itself!

    Someday somebody will have to face up to the problem of too many people; competition for water, proposals to limit fertilizer and ag chemical use, urban sprawl into ag land and rich, absentee landowners buying big ranches, ect. result in trade deficits and dependency on foreign countries. Common sense is limited

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  11. 11. elizabetta 10:28 pm 03/22/2010

    MtRancher, I’m glad to hear the wildlife in your area is doing fine. Unfortunately, what I see in my home town in Indiana is not so good. We have a lot of factories and manufacturing in my town, and the local attitude is one of a total lack of regard for how those industries and their waste effect the environment. Many throw chemicals directly into the creek, or discard barrels of sludge in the woods. I’m glad there are still areas where this sort of thing is not going on, but there are many areas that are not so lucky. We should be good caretakers of the Earth. I agree that the ethanol thing is ridiculous and our government should quit backing it. But I think we need to give incentives for using solar and wind energy systems, and we should tell ALL the car manufacturers to start making electric cars like Tesla Motors. The main thing is that we need humans to use birth control!

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  12. 12. Sisko 9:39 am 03/23/2010

    @Robert-The arrogant self righteous putz.

    You STUPIDLY wrote_ "Glaciers are moving faster, melting faster, polar sea ice is melting decades before it was initially predicted. The alarmist claims from decades ago are now unrealistically conservative."

    What you have written is absolutely WRONG AGAIN.

    Regarding glacial melt–Have you read that the IOCC has acknowledged that they greatly overstated the rate of glacial melt? Glaciers in fact are melting much, much slower than had been estimated 3 years ago, and as a result many of the associated potential harmful effects that were "feared" would happen as a result of the more rapid melting are now know will not happen.

    Regarding polar ice melt- Once again Robert is WRONG again- Polar ice has actually shown a significant recovery. http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/03/04/nsidc-confirms-wuwt-ice-forecast/

    Regarding models- You wrote "you idiotic deniers have been saying that models are meaningless" I have never said, and do not believe models are meaningless. Accurate models take time to develop and need to be refined and adjusted as more and more variables are taken into consideration. A model needs to demonstrate that it will accurately predict future conditions. There are currently no models that accurately predict future conditions as related to higher percentages of carbon in the atmosphere. A fool like you may accept a model simply because you happen to agree with its predicted result, I want it to be shown to be accurate before implementing a public response.

    So Robert, believe what you wish to regardless of the facts. You seem to be a mindless zealot who does not really care about facts and data.

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  13. 13. Sisko 9:54 am 03/23/2010

    @ elizabetta
    You wrote- I have no faith in anything but the facts. The fact is, I am sure climate change is real and is being caused by human activity.

    You may be sure, and your confidence is similar to those that have faith in their religion regardless of whether or not their beliefs are supported by historical evidence. The fact is the data is inconclusive regarding the degree that human activity has had upon climate change. There is no absolute tie between the percentage of carbon in the atmosphere and temperature. Does the data support that it has an impact—yes, but it is clearly not the only thing impacting. (which is why the models are not yet accurate)
    BTW- under 10% body fat and I am in the gym 6 days per week.

    I also really do completely agree with your last statement "We should try to find common ground instead of just arguing over the details that we can’t agree on."

    I believe our goal in the US should be "to be energy self sufficent as soon as possible in a manner as environmently friendly as is economically reasonable"

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  14. 14. evenstephen 10:17 am 03/23/2010

    I’ve been discouraged to read the comments on this article and on the Bill McGibbon interview.
    Rather than comment on the whole issue, I’d like to describe my understanding of one issue and one question.

    QUESTION? Why not try one thing and see what happens? We, through our government, pay huge subsidies for certain crops and for fossil fuels. The family farm is gone. The money goes to huge, profitable Corporations. Let’s demand the subsidies stop and see what happens. We’ll lower our deficits and won’t have to pay subsidies to wind, solar, etc.

    On local agriculture in Africa, India, etc. Huge numbers of people flee the country side each year because they can’t feed their families by agriculture. In the cities they live in crowded, crime and disease ridden slums. A SciAm article a couple years ago showed that fairly small inputs could make small agriculture viable. The growth of mega cities will slow along with the need to build infrastructure and provide even minimal urban services.
    By the way competition against the low (subsidized) prices of our agricultural exports is a major factor that drives them there. An example: The import of low priced U.S. corn into Mexico forced many off their land.
    A final question: Did some conservative group send out the Sci Am article to encourage responses?

    Even Stephen

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  15. 15. paeron 5:42 pm 03/23/2010

    10,000 YBP- End of last Ice Age, large scale reduction of "biodiversity" that simply didn’t adapt.
    11,600 YBP- Abrupt global warming following an abrupt cooling trend that began approx. 15,000 YBP.
    20,000 YBP through 130,000 YBP- basically rinse, wash, and repeat the above statements. Then for kicks take this whole mini-timeline and measure that out for the last 2.6 million years. And if you’re feeling really adventurous go ahead and plot it out for the last 260 million years and see what we get. The FACTS are that this planet is 4 billion years old, has seen the rise and decline of MILLIONS of species of every sort of dominance, and couldn’t care less about US or our "Carbon Footprint." This planet is a constantly evolving entity. Ice sheets move/ melt, rivers change course, mountains grow or erode and it’s all part of a complex system that becomes our climate. Then add things like solar radiation, atmospheric heating from asteroids and meteors passing through it, changes in tidal strength based on the moon’s ever increasing distance from the planet. These are all contributing factors to the planet’s climate. Is humanity a factor as well? Sure it is, but so are Polar Bears and rose bushes and the concentration of dinosaur bones over a given geographic area.

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  16. 16. robert schmidt 8:01 pm 03/23/2010

    @sisko, it’s hard to tell if you are a pathological liar or just plain ignorant.

    Once again instead of presenting the facts you have deliberately distorted and sensationalized an error that had questionable significance. Furthermore, the error was in regards to Himalayan glaciers, not all glaciers.

    The IPCCs comment on the glacier melt error;
    http://www.ipcc.ch/pdf/presentations/himalaya-statement-20january2010.pdf

    Regardless, it wasn’t those figures I was referring to. The most recent study of glacial melt using airborne laser altimeters has confirmed that there has been a significant acceleration of glacial melt, doubling since the mid 1990′s.

    Glacier melt rate reference;
    http://www2.cnrs.fr/en/1692.htm?debut=16

    My statement that Glaciers are melting faster than initially predicted is accurate. So not only did you misrepresent the facts but your quote, “many of the associated potential harmful effects that were "feared" would happen as a result of the more rapid melting are now know will not happen." is clearly a complete fabrication.

    In regards to sea ice melt; here’s a quote from the Copenhagen Diagnosis Executive Summary (link to complete report below)

    "Summer-time melting of Arctic sea-ice has accelerated far beyond the expectations of climate models. The area of summertime sea-ice melt during 2007-2009 was about 40% less than the average prediction from IPCC AR4 climate models."

    http://www.ccrc.unsw.edu.au/Copenhagen/Copenhagen_Diagnosis_HIGH.pdf

    So again, my statement is accurate, and yours is a lie.

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  17. 17. robert schmidt 8:34 pm 03/23/2010

    @sisko, "There are currently no models that accurately predict future conditions as related to higher percentages of carbon in the atmosphere." Once again we have another straw man fallacy. Not surprising from someone who clearly gets all his/hers/its knowledge from a denier’s pamphlet.

    What is considered accurate in a climate model? The deniers use this as an opportunity to employ a burden-of-proof fallacy. They simply slide the definition of "accurate" to a place short of the current models’ reach and claim, "not good enough" Models of chaotic phenomenon can never be 100% accurate. The question is, are they accurate enough to form the basis of public policy. They currently agree well with paleo-climate. But while this is good as a test scenario, the true test of science is in prediction not explaining known events. Here is an example, quoted from Skeptical Science;

    "When Mount Pinatubo erupted in 1991, it provided an opportunity to test how successfully models could predict the climate response to the sulfate aersol injected into the atmosphere. The models accurately forecast the subsequent global cooling of about 0.5 °C soon after the eruption. Furthermore, the radiative, water-vapor, and dynamical feedbacks included in the models were also quantitatively verified."

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php?a=13

    And the referenced article;
    http://pubs.giss.nasa.gov/docs/2007/2007_Hansen_etal_3.pdf

    Models are living artefacts. They are constantly refined as more data becomes available and computer horse-power increases. The denialists would love to have us all wait until "they" are satisfied with the level of accuracy but we know their agenda and we know that day will never come. If a computer model accurately predicted that an airplane would crash, and it did, would you get on the next plane it predicted would crash? What if the model was only 80% accurate?

    The low level of integrity of people like sisko who come here and deliberately make false statements and misrepresentations, makes the whole email mole-hill a joke. It doesn’t come close to the quantity and extent of deception spewing from the deniers. Science is a process of refinement. Errors and inaccuracies get pruned as the process moves forward. In stark contrast are the deniers who are still rehashing the same old lies that were refuted long ago. Are they the kind of people to whom we should trust our future? What responsibility will they take when worse comes to worse?

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  18. 18. ThinkForYourself 10:43 pm 03/23/2010

    If you would do your own reseach instead of just mindlessly feeding on the reports from those who are making a HUGE profit on the "man made" global warming scare, you would find that experts don’t deny global warming is happening. What is in serious question is if man’s activities are causing the warming. There have been times in the earth’s history where the global temperature was warmer than it was today. With no cars or other human pollution to cause the warming, one really has think openly about earth temperature cycles. There are many good books out there with solid research to back their perspective. I suggest reading them and forming your own opinion.

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  19. 19. robert schmidt 7:42 am 03/24/2010

    @ThinkForYourself, talk about mindless! The conspiracy theory that tens of thousands of people are pulling a hoax in order to make "HUGE" bucks on climate change is one of the most idiotic arguments put forward by the deniers. The money made in research no way compares to the profits made by oil companies and the tax revenues made by governments from them. Conspiracies are the refuge for those with no evidence. Also, the claim that there are other causes to global climate change has been soundly refute long ago. If you had bothered to actually do a little research yourself you would have known that. The causes of past climate change are fairly well understood and all those factors have been ruled out. Based on your argument we should release all the murderers in the prison system as it can be proven that in the past people have died naturally, so it is impossible for them to have been murdered. And stating that there are many good books with solid research does not make them appear. Perhaps you can list them here instead of just lying about them. You really need to take your own advice and instead of mindlessly quoting mindless deniers you should actual get yourself educated. It’s your future too that is at stake.

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  20. 20. Montgomery Cole JD 1:43 pm 03/24/2010

    Dear Sir, re; The end is near/tipping point.

    You may know or recall that New York City and New York and much of northern America was under an ice sheet some half mile thick a few years ago. OK, it was around thirty thousand years ago, and where did it go? It melted; and there were no factories around then, correct? Correct.

    Now then, is this not fact? Indeed it is a fact that ice has come and gone without humans, and will continue to come and go with or without humans.

    Another fact is that we are in the waning or tail end of a normal and reoccurring, short warming trend, that melted our usual ice age ice covering over most of the upper hemispheres. These are undisputed facts. What do they mean?

    To me they show that the earth changes on it’s own, according to things like it’s orbital eccentricities, solar output, vulcanism, interstellar dust clouds, and yes, life on earth. If we really want to stop undue human influence on earth, tell those other people to quite having so many children. But I digress.

    Fact is however, neither China nor India, have any intention of scaling back anything. A sensible move for the US would be to build a hundred nuke plants and have a schooner of beer. Sincerely, Montgomery Cole JD

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  21. 21. Montgomery Cole JD 1:45 pm 03/24/2010

    Dear Sir, re; The end is near/tipping point.

    You may know or recall that New York City and New York and much of northern America was under an ice sheet some half mile thick a few years ago. OK, it was around thirty thousand years ago, and where did it go? It melted; and there were no factories around then, correct? Correct.

    Now then, is this not fact? Indeed it is a fact that ice has come and gone without humans, and will continue to come and go with or without humans.

    Another fact is that we are in the waning or tail end of a normal and reoccurring, short warming trend, that melted our usual ice age ice covering over most of the upper hemispheres. These are undisputed facts. What do they mean?

    To me they show that the earth changes on it’s own, according to things like it’s orbital eccentricities, solar output, vulcanism, interstellar dust clouds, and yes, life on earth. If we really want to stop undue human influence on earth, tell those other people to quite having so many children. But I digress.

    Fact is however, neither China nor India, have any intention of scaling back anything. A sensible move for the US would be to build a hundred nuke plants and have a schooner of beer. Sincerely, Montgomery Cole JD

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  22. 22. Sisko 4:31 pm 03/24/2010

    @ Robert- responding to your comments

    You wrote: What is considered accurate in a climate model?

    My answer: Generally, a model that reasonably accurately predicts future conditions. For a climate model, it would need to reasonably accurately predict changes to annual rainfall, temperature, ocean levels, number of hurricanes, etc for a number of years into the future. If the model is shown to have reasonably accurately predicted (better than 90%-95% accurate) nearer term events it will be considered more likely to accurately predict events over a longer period. So as related to the issue of AGW, the models would need to be able to predict these climate conditions as they correlate them to different percentages of carbon in the atmosphere.

    Do you have a different position regarding what is an accurate climate model? I have never said I do not believe in models. I simply do not believe there is an accurate climate model as related to the percentage of carbon in the atmosphere.

    Your idiotic personal attacks aside, let’s review what you said as related to glacial melt.

    You wrote: "Glaciers are moving faster, melting faster, polar sea ice is melting decades before it was initially predicted. The alarmist claims from decades ago are now unrealistically conservative."

    I provided links to data on arctic ice melt from 2010 that demonstrated that ice melt has been different (slower) than AGW alarmist predicted. Here is that link again. Why do you not believe the 2010 data??? Even you had to acknowledge that the IOCC overstated drastically the rate of melt in the Himalayas.

    http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/global.daily.ice.area.withtrend.jpg

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/03/04/nsidc-confirms-wuwt-ice-forecast/

    You provided a link to data in your response. When I read the information in the link it stated:

    "Recent data from the SPOT 5 and ASTER satellites have enabled researchers to extensively map mass loss in these glaciers, which contributed 0.12 mm/year to sea-level rise between 1962 and 2006, rather than 0.17 mm/year as previously estimated."

    So the new data you provided studied ices levels as recent as 2006, and it showed that the rate of sea level rise was 30% less than had been previously estimated and not greater.

    Regarding arctic ice overall you referenced the "Copenhagen Diagnosis" to defend your position. The report looked at summer ice between 2006 and 2009. The data I have provided links to provides data from 1979 through the 1st quarter of 2010. It does show recovery in 2010. Please look at the data and consider it as best as you are able.

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  23. 23. robert schmidt 8:37 pm 03/24/2010

    @sisko, "I provided links to data on arctic ice melt from 2010 that demonstrated that ice melt has been different (slower) than AGW alarmist predicted. Here is that link again. Why do you not believe the 2010 data???"

    I do believe the data. Unlike you I look at all the data, not only that which confirms my hypothesis. The article you referenced is a non-scientific analysis of the NSIDC report. The NSIDC report states;

    "In February, Arctic sea ice extent continued to track below the average, and near the levels observed for February 2007. Ice extent was unusually low in the Atlantic sector of the Arctic, and above normal in the Bering Sea. Meanwhile, Antarctic sea ice reached its summer minimum, near the average for 1979 to 2000.

    Arctic sea ice extent averaged for February 2010 was 14.58 million square kilometers (5.63 million square miles). This was 1.06 million square kilometers (409,000 square miles) below the 1979 to 2000 average for February, but 220,000 square kilometers (85,000 square miles) above the record low for the month, which occurred in February 2005.

    Ice extent was above normal in the Bering Sea, but remained below normal over much of the Atlantic sector of the Arctic, including the Barents Sea, part of the East Greenland Sea, and in the Davis Strait."

    Even your article stated;
    "This summer is likely to continue the trend since 2007 of increasing summer minimums."

    So, you’re absolutely right, in 2010 the sea ice recovered 20% of what it had lost since 2000. Keep in mind that this is extent. The bigger issue is mass. But clearly you are not familiar with chaotic phenomenon. Even with "global warming" you are going to get days that are below average temperature and days that are above average, that extends to weeks, months, years, etc. The issue is the global long-term trend. The report clearly indicates that the trend is still towards declining sea ice. So once again, my comment is correct.

    But, this is a standard tactic of deniers, the day the weatherman says "below average temperatures" for their city, that’s the day they celebrate their victory over climate change. It doesn’t matter that globally it was still one of the hottest years on record. This is called confirmation bias; disproportionately weighting confirming evidence while disregarding contradictory evidence. We’ve heard it a thousand times before and it never gets any less boring.

    Link to this
  24. 24. robert schmidt 9:02 pm 03/24/2010

    @Sisko, ""Recent data from the SPOT 5 and ASTER satellites have enabled researchers to extensively map mass loss in these glaciers, which contributed 0.12 mm/year to sea-level rise between 1962 and 2006, rather than 0.17 mm/year as previously estimated."

    So the new data you provided studied ices levels as recent as 2006, and it showed that the rate of sea level rise was 30% less than had been previously estimated and not greater."

    If you had read the article you would have noted that the difference between the observed data and the forecast was based on a previous model that had a number of acknowledged short comings that are being addressed. Even with the limitations the model was 70% correct over a 44 year period. Your demand that the model be 95% correct is unrealistic given the nature of the phenomenon. As I indicated earlier, if you thought the plane you were about to board had a 70% chance of crashing, would you really get on? Also, my comment was that the change is greater than initial predictions, not recent predictions. As is clearly demonstrated, the rate of melt has doubled since the mid 90′s. Again, my comments were correct.

    So far I have provided scientific evidence from the IPCC, The Department of Defence, Oxfam, and a number of other research papers. I have provided links to both summary reports and actual scientific papers. You have provided opinion and fallacy. Ultimately, it isn’t my responsibility to educate you. If you truly believe you have special insights into this issue that elevate you above the scientific community, I welcome you to do some research and publish your paper. Otherwise, accept your limitations, feel free to ask questions, and doubt most what you find easiest to believe.

    Link to this
  25. 25. shartt11 11:13 am 03/25/2010

    I think the next step to advance this discussion is the development and application of a process to prioritize the decisions. Which problems should we attack first based on a cost/benefit analysis? If we had $1 billion, what should we spend it on? What if it is $10 billion? $100 billion? We need something like the Copenhagen Consensus that ranks issues based on achieving the most good.

    Because many issues have hard to quantify monitary costs, we need to move the discussion to developing a transparent, repeatable process for assessing problems and cost for solutions. There will have to be trade offs. For instance reduced carbon from desert solar power plants and the need for biodiversity (given some CA plants impacting desert tortoise). How do we measure these issues in a clear, transparent way so we can make decisions?

    Link to this
  26. 26. Sisko 4:15 pm 03/25/2010

    @Robert

    You need to read what you have written and look at the links others have posted.

    You wrote: "Summer-time melting of Arctic sea-ice has accelerated far beyond the expectations of climate models.

    I responded that was an inaccurate statement and showed you two links proving that and pointed out the link that you provided had shown that actual melt was 30% below what the earlier model had predicted.
    Did you even look at the links I provided or is current data not relevant to you. Now you are saying that my expectations about models accuracy is excessively high. LOL…..strangely, the US government completely agrees with my position and has just authorized $50 M to develop better climate models. They expect it will take about 5 years to develop said models. The head of the National Science Foundation (who also believes that the world is warming) stated that he thinks we should wait implementing public policy on the issue until we have better models. So HA HA HA

    Link to this
  27. 27. candide 5:43 pm 03/25/2010

    Excellent article:

    http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/03/24/a-physics-mavens-take-on-skeptical-science/

    Link to this
  28. 28. robert schmidt 8:03 pm 03/25/2010

    @Sisko, "So HA HA HA", I had the impression I was speaking with a child but perhaps you’re just childish.

    In regard to the artic ice again; what you refered to was a denier’s spin on the NSIDC data. The actual data referenced showed a minor up tick in ice extent for 2010. As I indicated this is expected within any chaotic system. All the evidence clearly shows that the trend is towards ice reduction. The minor increase in sea ice for one season does not reverse the long term trend. It shows your absolute desperation that you would disregard decades of results that don’t support your world view yet consider one favourable set of results from the same dataset definitive proof that you are right. Obviously you do not understand science, let alone climate science.

    In regards to models; Nothing in what I said suggested we shouldn’t create better models. My statement was simply that your requirement that models be 95% accurate before we act on them was unrealistic. Mr. Bement’s comments were related to developing models to predict regional changes, he was not stating that current models couldn’t be used at all for policy decisions. Once again you misrepresent the facts. The US government is already taking action based on models from years ago so clearly they do not share your belief that we should sit on our hands until sisko is personally satisfied with the results.

    You have demonstrated repeatedly that you are willing to lie and distort the truth in order to bend reality to your world view. You clearly have no intention of being involved in a discussion, only in perpetuating the deniers’ fantasy. And you wonder why I insult you…

    Link to this
  29. 29. Davidg60 8:06 pm 03/25/2010

    Are we going to stop burning gasoline? Are we going to stop cutting down the forests? Are we going to put the brakes on population increase? I don’t think so.

    If we look out our front doors the sun is still shining and the world looks much as it was. This is misleading for our planet is undergoing massive and rapid changes with unforeseeable consequences for us all.

    It is not Earth that is past the tipping point but Man.

    Link to this
  30. 30. stueysplace 10:40 pm 03/25/2010

    penutbutter says we aren’t talking about human survival. Oh yes we are. The planet will do just fine, probably much better, without us.

    Link to this
  31. 31. michaelohara 2:32 pm 03/26/2010

    The research mentioned by shoshin doesn’t "blow a hole" in the climate change argument, it suggests that we have been underestimating the effect of certain greenhouse gasses and aerosols in combination with each other.

    http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/48940/title/Aerosols_cloud_the_climate_picture

    Link to this
  32. 32. jtdwyer 7:24 am 03/27/2010

    elizabetta, Mtrancher – How nice to read some comments from reasonable and knowledgeable people rather than the just the usual climate ‘debaters’. Mtrancher, you must remember when the world population was about 2.5B shortly after WWII. Now at just under 7B, it’s no wonder that humanity’s influence on the Earth is becoming critical.

    While I can appreciate the concerns of those arguing in this and other forums, I have to wonder what it is they think they might be accomplishing other than infuriating each other? I doubt that anyone’s opinion or viewpoint has been changed. Certainly no one’s about to win the debate anytime soon. I suppose it’s most likely to get worse…

    Anyway, thanks again for your informative remarks and perspectives, and best wishes.

    Link to this
  33. 33. Montgomery Cole JD 2:06 am 03/28/2010

    Right on,

    Link to this
  34. 34. Montgomery Cole JD 2:15 am 03/28/2010

    Relax, it will work out.

    Link to this
  35. 35. akm249 9:02 am 03/28/2010

    why not we respond them in same language…. we can have a EIN (Environment Impact Number) to every product that causes this effect keeping different factors in our mind and that will help user to understand what they are doing. ex. Eating a pizza will cause how much destruction to earth and that will help consumer a lot and it’ll be a good effort to reduce the effect of advertisement ……

    Link to this
  36. 36. Montgomery Cole JD 12:39 pm 03/28/2010

    As many of us know, our beloved New York City, New York State, and much of North America, along with the rest of the worlds higher latitude regions, were under miles of ice just a few moments [in geological time] ago.

    New York City under a half mile of ice 20K years ago. That is a fact that we all can agree on, yes? Ok then, we got that far, now; where did all that ice go? Answer; It melted as the earth warmed, as the ice ages have done over and over for the past 600 million years. We all know about ice ages right?

    So, unless someone can prove that mankind had huge factories and cars and boat and jets back then, I’m not inclined to ascribe to a theory that says we are to blame now. Fact is, we are in the tail end of a normal break in the ice age cycle, and are most likely headed back into another ice age.
    I say this because that has been the pattern on earth for some hundreds of millions of years.

    As for saving the earth, my opinion is that overpopulation is the biggest problem. It is difficult to tell people across the globe to stop popping out ten kids each, although China manages to do so. The poorest countries seem to be the worst ‘overpopulators’. What to do about them is the really thorny question. It’s easy and meaningless to turn off the lights on the Eiffel Tower for an hour, but it’s a tad more difficult, to tell the world to stop procreating. Good Day

    Link to this
  37. 37. jtdwyer 3:28 pm 03/28/2010

    robert Schmidt, Sisko – I reluctantly comment on your seemingly knowledgeable discussion of climate models.

    While I have no experience with climate models, I do have significant experience developing models of very large scale computer systems. There are many types of models, and while I’m confident that global climate models in use today are very sophisticated, I strongly suspect that the limited historical data available for critical factors from limited sampling locations is not sufficient to produce reliable long term global climatic models. It is relatively easy to produce models that can be verified using historical data to reasonably predict historical events. This is usually the basis for referenced model accuracy: n% accurate (in reproducing past events from past conditions).

    The only real value of any model is its ability to predict future events based on future conditions. This ability can only be confirmed by comparing past models predictions with recent events. Models that are quite successful at predicting past events based on past conditions will very often fail miserably at predicting future events, most often as a result of inadequately representing the process producing events. These failures are most often exposed when future conditions vary significantly from those that occurred in the past. An example of this for climate models might be a large volcanic eruption.

    Based on my experience I can only say that I am highly skeptical of all efforts to model complex systems, since past model results are rarely confirmed based on recent conditional data. I strongly advise the general public to be skeptical of claims of modelers, and advise extreme caution in making policy decisions based on unconfirmed models.

    Link to this
  38. 38. Sisko 9:14 am 03/29/2010

    @Robert-
    Please try to not attribute comments to me that are completely inaccurate.
    You wrote: "so clearly they do not share your belief that we should sit on our hands until sisko is personally satisfied with the results."

    That is simply a stupid statement and the opposite of my position. I do believe that models work if the right variables are included in the model. I think it is great that we are working to understand the variables affecting our climate. I (seemingly unlike you), understand that there are many variables to include in the models besides simply carbon.

    My previous HA HA HA at you was due to the line of your previous posts. You were taking the position that climate change is accelerating at an even greater rate that had been predicted by earlier models. You have posted that potentially "millions" could die due to climate change. these statements are simply WRONG and I showed that. The rate of change is not what had been reported by the IOCC. There is no reason to reasonably state that people will die due to climate change. The process will be reasonably slow and people can certainly adjust.

    Link to this
  39. 39. jtdwyer 9:42 am 03/29/2010

    Sisko – It’s so reassuring that you have enough faith in models to believe that they work right if the right variables are included in the models.

    Apparently your belief does not require confirmation of results, much less knowledge of the methods (algorithms representing the processes being predicted) used. It must be a great comfort to scientists, knowing that their methods are beyond the questioning of those seriously debating climate change issues. I wish you success in your efforts.

    Link to this
  40. 40. Sisko 10:56 am 03/29/2010

    @jtdwyer- I have used models for years in aerospace applications, so I know that modelling can simulate actual behaviors "if the variables are known and properly applied in the model".
    In regards to climate, there are far more variables that we now know, and it appears there are additional variables that we are just learning about so while I am hopeful that accurate models will be developed, I also acknowledge that it is not a certainty. Regarding the details of any actual model, I do not really care about looking at how a particular model has been programmed. (your comment If the model is show to be reasonably accurate over time, I would accept its "predictions" for future events.

    Link to this
  41. 41. jtdwyer 11:23 am 03/29/2010

    Sisko – I’m sure the validated, confirmed and proven engineering models you used could be used with an extremely high degree of confidence. In an engineering program all models, just like all designs, must be well proven before they are accepted for use.

    The processes used to prove engineering models almost certainly have not been used to ensure the reliability of climate models.

    That there are unidentified variables necessary to produce more accurate predictive climate models ensures that models currently in use have been found to be inadequate.

    Moreover, not having the necessary parameters defined, the algorithms representing the physical processes determining climate could not have been correct.

    All of this indicates that the model predictions that continue to be relied upon are unreliable. Obviously, that did not prevent their use.

    None of this surprises me and tends to confirm my skepticism regarding climate models established from my own knowledge of modeling methodology and processes.

    Link to this
  42. 42. Chris G 12:41 pm 03/30/2010

    In case anyone is interested in what an actual climate scientist has to say about actual climate models, here are a couple of links:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2008/11/faq-on-climate-models/

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/12/updates-to-model-data-comparisons/

    Link to this
  43. 43. Chris G 1:12 pm 03/30/2010

    Back to the article’s topic, I think it is highly likely that some of the effects mentioned in the Pentagon report will happen.

    http://securityandclimate.cna.org/report/

    It’s very unlikely that none or all of them will come about. Which ones happen are anybody’s guess, but none of them are good.

    Link to this
  44. 44. Chris G 1:16 pm 03/30/2010

    I like this guy,

    “We seem to be standing by and, frankly,
    asking for perfectness in science,” Gen. Sullivan
    said. “People are saying they want to be convinced,
    perfectly. They want to know the climate
    science projections with 100 percent certainty.
    Well, we know a great deal, and even with
    that, there is still uncertainty. But the trend line is
    very clear.”
    “We never have 100 percent certainty,” he
    said. “We never have it. If you wait until you
    have 100 percent certainty, something bad
    is going to happen on the battlefield. That’s
    something we know. You have to act with
    incomplete information."

    Link to this
  45. 45. Sisko 2:43 pm 03/30/2010

    @ChrisG- You wrote or agreed with the comment:

    "But the trend line is very clear."

    Which trend line is very clear? Can you post the site with the very clear trend data. I keep seeing variances in trends and data. Example: the one below showing 2010 data on arctic ice melt.
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/03/04/nsidc-confirms-wuwt-ice-forecast/

    Link to this
  46. 46. Sisko 2:55 pm 03/30/2010

    @ChrisG- The link you provided had really good information.

    Thanks

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/12/updates-to-model-data-comparisons/

    Link to this
  47. 47. PantaRei 8:32 pm 03/30/2010

    http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/monckton/goreerrors.html

    http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/

    Link to this
  48. 48. PantaRei 11:53 pm 03/30/2010

    http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/

    http://scienceandpublicpolicy.org/monckton/goreerrors.html

    Link to this
  49. 49. composer_1777 1:28 pm 04/7/2010

    hmm

    Link to this
  50. 50. dquist 5:38 pm 04/7/2010

    So what if we can’t prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that all of this is going in the direction the evidence hints at, that isn’t the issue here. When the majority of scientific data is suggesting this has even the possibility of severely hindering our ability to continue life on this planet as we know it then we should be doing something about it.

    The fact is we’re long past the point where society should even be debating this issue, the time for forced action was years ago.

    Link to this
  51. 51. shellashock 10:03 am 03/7/2012

    Did anyone ever poinrt out that the earth could vbe returning to its post tropical state?
    If this is true, than global warming is actually a good thing.

    Link to this

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