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Global Warming Irreversible, NOAA Scientist Finds

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the is-it-hot-in-here dept.

Earth 1061

Tibor the Hun writes "NPR reports that Susan Solomon, one of the world's top climate scientists, finds in her new study that global warming is now irreversible. The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, concludes that even if we could immediately cease our impact on pollution and greenhouse gasses emissions, global climate change would continue for more than a thousand years. The reason is the saturation of oceans with carbon dioxide. Her study looked at the consequences of long-term effect in terms of sea-level rise and drought."

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First post (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26618945)

We all gona die, but at least I got my first post...

So now quit your whining about the invitable (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26619057)

you tree hugging leftist athiest homo-sexual four-eyes malcontent

and everyone who has the time to waste reading this shit

well... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26618949)

that just sucks now, doesn't it?

Re:well... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26618975)

that just sucks now, doesn't it?

So does your mother, not very well either I might add, but who am I to complain?

Re:well... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26619025)

Dad?

OOOK (4, Insightful)

afidel (530433) | more than 5 years ago | (#26618965)

So they are saying we will have the opposite of the Younger Dryas no matter what we do. That may be true, and it might not be true, but I think it's a bit premature to say that our computer models are so good that they can definitively say what global conditions will be like in 1,000 years. Considering how few variables we model let alone the level of detail we have on those data points I think it's a bit foolish to say we can say much of anything definitive from our models at those type of timescales.

Re:OOOK (5, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#26618985)

It's the old "Limits To Growth" bullshit back again. The same people who predicted mass starvation in the 70s are now predicting massive climate change. The whole concept that new technology means you can't just extrapolate seems to be lost on them.

Re:OOOK (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26619007)

If I had points I would mod you both up

Nothing New (5, Insightful)

DesScorp (410532) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619077)

It's the old "Limits To Growth" bullshit back again. The same people who predicted mass starvation in the 70s are now predicting massive climate change. The whole concept that new technology means you can't just extrapolate seems to be lost on them.

And this kind of hysterics has been around a long time. Hobbes had his "nasty, brutish, and short" predictions for mankind in Leviathan. According to experts 30 years ago, the was simply no way we could produce enough food for 5 billion people. Now we're doing it for 7. These professional pessimists have always underestimated mankind's ability to change, adapt, and solve problems. They've always underestimated our capacity to make things happen.

Re:Nothing New (5, Interesting)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619099)

In 1898, delegates from across the globe gathered in New York City for the world's first international urban planning conference. One topic dominated the discussion. It was not housing, land use, economic development, or infrastructure. The delegates were driven to desperation by horse manure.
[...]
The situation seemed dire. In 1894, the Times of London estimated that by 1950 every street in the city would be buried nine feet deep in horse manure. One New York prognosticator of the 1890s concluded that by 1930 the horse droppings would rise to Manhattan's third-story windows. A public health and sanitation crisis of almost unimaginable dimensions loomed.

And no possible solution could be devised. After all, the horse had been the dominant mode of transportation for thousands of years. Horses were absolutely essential for the functioning of the nineteenth-century city -- for personal transportation, freight haulage, and even mechanical power. Without horses, cities would quite literally starve.

All efforts to mitigate the problem were proving woefully inadequate. Stumped by the crisis, the urban planning conference declared its work fruitless and broke up in three days instead of the scheduled ten.

So when I say Limits To Growth is "bullshit" I'm clearly being inaccurate, I should have said "horse shit" :)

Re:Nothing New (4, Insightful)

H0p313ss (811249) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619257)

You will note however that horses are pretty thin on the ground these days in most major cities. Hopefully the same will soon be true of gas guzzling SUVs.

Re:Nothing New (2, Insightful)

MadKeithV (102058) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619277)

Or humans.

Re:Nothing New (5, Insightful)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619435)

And just how did they get out of this horseshit disaster?

By recognizing the problem and finding a solution. Street cars, subways and eventually motor vehicles.

You can recognize the foresight of the New York administration of the late 19th century for recognizing that their current path was not a sustainable one and began planning and investing in solutions to the problem.

But no. I'm sure you're right. If we just completely avoid the problem then the inevitability of progress will happen without any research. Without any change and without any effort.

Meanwhile billions go hungry. Tens of thousands die every day from malnutrition. But no I'm sure you're right there was no food crisis. That's why the UN didn't just have a FOOD CRISIS SUMMIT this summer.

Don't get me wrong. When it comes to technology I'm the most hopeless idealistic optimist there is but I also recognize there is a cost. That right now we are wrecklessly spending resources at an astronomically disproportionate rate to our rate of innovation and that we're like kids in a candy store unsupervised.

We're really living in a bubble of inexpensive and practically free energy. Energy is dirt cheap right now. Commodity materials are dirt cheap. If we don't critically reevaluate our energy sources and our resource recycling very soon the bubble will pop.

We have a limited window of nearly free energy and inexpensive commodity materials to build the infrastructure to ensure we don't see an end to cheap energy and inexpensive materials. If we can build renewable power sources *now* then we can continue to use our fossil fuels for fertilizer and plastic. If we wait until energy prices double, triple, quadruple and on and on then your plastic electronics are going to see the plastic quadruple in cost. If we wait until the energy prices double, triple and quadruple the cost of processing the aluminum in the windmill is going to quadruple.

Avert the energy bubble crashing by saving the 'free food' for when they're needed.

We are already starting to see population constriction. LA is importing almost all of its water. Where do you get more fresh water? Desalination? That's great when energy is practically free, but if fresh water starts costing energy and energy is from limited poorly scaleable sources such as coal then you're going to see the cost of water rise with energy.

Everything is getting tied into our energy supply. Our food. Our water. This is all fine as long as energy stays cheap. Fossil fuels are a limited supply and are requiring more and more energy to extract. We can only expect their prices to rise and rise and rise.

You can say that "technology found a way to solve the environmental problems of the 19th century." and you would be right. They were to STOP POLLUTING. We could be saving a lot of money if we just dumped and polluted like the 19th century. But instead of just throwing up our hands and saying "Oh! Hey! Technology will save us." They actually bought the technology that would save us and accepted the price tag. It's not free.

We can keep continue tapping our free energy credit line but we need to realize it is a bubble. It will increase in price. Our lives are becoming intimately tied to its cost and the best time to start planning for the future is yesterday. These technological advances don't happen when we aren't researching them. We can't just invest trillions of dollars in oil drilling and expect efficient solar panels to spontaneously emerge. It takes interst and investment.

Will we look back on this time and laugh? I hope so. But we'll laugh because we reacted to a threat and fixed it. Our costly and difficult choice will be seen as trivial and obvious. Just as was digging a giant tunnel into manhattan to feed it with water. Just as was building a subway system.

Let's look at the story of Horse shit and highlight the key point. The solution to the horse shit problem... wasn't more horses. We've got a horse shit problem and buying more horses isn't the technological whiz kid solution you're proclaiming will save us.

Re:Nothing New (5, Informative)

BrainInAJar (584756) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619113)

Hobbes had his "nasty, brutish, and short" predictions for mankind in Leviathan

Woah there... as a philosophy geek that's done entire courses on Leviathan alone, I can say definitively that you are way out of left field with that one. Hobbes predicted nothing of the sort no matter how you interpret it. The "nasty, brutish, and short" comment was about man devoid of any form of governance such as the literary scenario he laid out for the condition of man in the past.

A horrible misrepresentation of a text like that'll garner you a C- at best by anyone who has actually read the book

Re:Nothing New (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26619135)

well there are still people starving today and the prices of food does keep going up.

Re:Nothing New (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26619247)

1.)we have the ability to feed those that are starving, it's just that 1st world countries don't care enough to.

2.) the price of food is going up because of land being used to grow bio-fuels instead of edible food. when the government stops wasting money subsidizing them, they'll become unprofitable and farmers will go back to growing real food

Re:Nothing New (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26619321)

1 we don't, not now, maybe in future, maybe not. surely not if we're going to scale our eating habit to the third world population. be very prepared to renounce beef. 2 see above. there is not so much free land on earth to be used for production of vegetables, and less so for the production of beef, without resorting to engineering animals for fast growth, which would simply put more consumption on other resources (water, for example)

Re:Nothing New (2, Insightful)

Nutria (679911) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619385)

it's just that 1st world countries don't care enough to.

Bullshit.

B-U-L-L-S-H-I-T bullshit, because it sure wasn't George W preventing the food trucks from rolling into Darfur.

Re:Nothing New (1)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619285)

ONCE AND FOR ALL!

Re:OOOK (1)

sixoh1 (996418) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619079)

You know they were not wrong on many of the assumptions, but the single biggest error was a complete lack of imagination or trust in Mans ability to invent a way out of the hole. I'm personally glad that most people either didn't know of the theory, or simply ignored it. Following their model leads to uni-bomber type solutions.

In the mean time Exxon and MonSanto have been busy finding answers that support my rapacious lifestyle of gluttony and hedonsim. Go team.

Re:OOOK (3, Insightful)

thermian (1267986) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619093)

It's the old "Limits To Growth" bullshit back again. The same people who predicted mass starvation in the 70s are now predicting massive climate change. The whole concept that new technology means you can't just extrapolate seems to be lost on them.

You don't know the power of the lecture circuit :)

Seriously, these guys make money by saying these things. Ever heard of anyone making money by saying everything will be fine and lovely?

What all these people seem to miss is that our planet, and life in general will make out just fine, its *us* who are in trouble, us and the rest of the specialised mammals. Ok, some fish may get their shit fucked up as well, but its unlikely to the point of impossible that everything will die.

No, much more likely we'd be gone, and in a few tens of millions of years, its humans who'se bones are being displayed in museum, and made the subject of animated documentaries.

Let's just hope... (2, Funny)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619153)

No, much more likely we'd be gone, and in a few tens of millions of years

Let's just hope that whoever will be putting our bones in a museum will get a little sophisticated and won't think that digital watches are a pretty neat idea.

Re:OOOK (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26619165)

Seriously, these guys make money by saying these things. Ever heard of anyone making money by saying everything will be fine and lovely?

Umm.. politicians?

Re:OOOK (2, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619433)

Ever heard of anyone making money by saying everything will be fine and lovely?

That guy from Rome, the one who wears those funny hats.

not correct (4, Insightful)

aepervius (535155) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619121)

You cannot extrapolate from the occurence of "new technology" in the past to help us, onto future new technology coming at time to help us. New technology is in general an unknown, and thus you should NEVER plan with them in mind. The new technology could as well NEVER happen and so much screw you up in an irreversible way. Which is why it is insane on planning on new tech coming (ne crude extraction tech, new energy generation tech (including fusion), new food production tech, new recyclage tech , new medicine tech etc...). A sane planning should always be based on current tech. You can always adapt your planning if a new tech comes up. You can't if you are waiting for some new tech to come (when ? In how far the problem would be solved ? What problem would be left ? etc...). waiting for new tech to solve your problem is akin to waiting that the problem solve itself. And that is totally utterly lost on you.

Re:not correct (5, Insightful)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619301)

So even though it's ALWAYS WORKED BEFORE it would be INSANE TO THINK IT WOULD HAPPEN?

Perhaps you mean we shouldn't just sit on our haunches and hope new technology comes along. I'd agree with that. But if you mean that new technology shouldn't be sought out as the solution to our problem... well, I'd like for you to get off the internet and go find a cave.

Re:OOOK (3, Insightful)

dbIII (701233) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619139)

There was mass starvation in the 1970s, just not where you were living.

Re:OOOK (1)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619329)

And not due to any global lack of food. That's an important point.

Re:OOOK (1)

Captain Hook (923766) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619145)

The same people who predicted mass starvation in the 70s are now predicting massive climate change.

Pedantic I know, but Susan Solomon was born in 1956 and would have been 14 at the start of the 70's. I think it might be at least two different people predicting two different things in two different periods of time.

Don't forget! (1, Troll)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619147)

In the 70s they were also predicting a coming ice age.

Re:Don't forget! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26619163)

Not that tired bullshit again, please.

Re:Don't forget! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26619173)

What was it back in the 70s?

Today it's "Global Warming, ohnoze!! Human race is dying, netcraft confirms it!! New at 11...

Re:Don't forget! (2, Funny)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619217)

Wasn't that nuclear winter?

Re:OOOK (0, Flamebait)

poetd (822150) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619225)

Nicely put.

Its only 35 years ago every "Expert" and "Scientist" (sorry to kill your God here Atheists) was telling us we were heading for a new Ice Age.
Don't take my word for it, look it up.

The World was getting rapidly colder, and it was the End of the PLANET! OMGZ!

I think all thats happened is that we've used new technologies to become more aware of the fluctuations of a non-stable system and have a mini panic attack at every new discovery.

Monkeys still throwing Rocks at the Moon.

Re:OOOK (5, Insightful)

theheadlessrabbit (1022587) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619327)

Its only 35 years ago every "Expert" and "Scientist" (sorry to kill your God here Atheists) was telling us we were heading for a new Ice Age.
Don't take my word for it, look it up.

ok, i did look it up. here are the results: /quote>...They find very few papers (7 in total) predict global cooling. This isn't surprising. What surprises is that even in the 1970s, on the back of 3 decades of cooling, more papers (42 in total) predict global warming due to CO2 than cooling.

http://www.skepticalscience.com/What-1970s-science-said-about-global-cooling.html [skepticalscience.com]

i don't know how you define the word "every, but "7 out of 42" is not certainly not how I would define it.

Re:OOOK (5, Funny)

wrook (134116) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619235)

Absolutely! I hear you brother. I've totally lost confidence in *them*. Let's face it. Every time *they* have predicted the end of the world, *they* have been wrong. EVERY SINGLE TIME!

I mean, if once -- only one time -- *they* got it right, I'd be willing to listen. But let's face it. *They* must be absolutely insane, because in my long life (and my father's and his father's before him) I have *never* EVEN ONCE died a horrible death from a world wide disaster of our own making.

And like you say, technology *always* saves us (a fact that *they* are always too eager to sweep under the rug). Every time technology has saved us from imminent disaster, every single time mind you, it has been *technology* that has saved us. *They* would have us think that there are limits to what technology can do for us. But who are *they* anyway to say such nonsense. Let's just look at history.

I'm just so tired of all this crap. I say, let's forget these stupid scare mongers and get back to something *important* like getting terrorists out of our beautiful country!
]

Re:OOOK (3, Insightful)

linhares (1241614) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619239)

It's the old "Limits To Growth" bullshit back again.

Did you actually read it? I guess not. [google.com] There are no predictions in the book whatsoever, the book has a 100 year timeline and a bunch of possible scenarios. Scenario #2 is unfolding, with exponential rise in food consumption, energy consumption, pollution _AS DECADES PASS_. China, if growing at 7% per annum in, say, coal mining, will grow 2^5 its current consumption in 5 decades. THAT IS OF FUCKING GIGANTIC BIBLICAL SHIT PROPORTIONS.

The planet is not infinite. Exponential growth will hit a ceiling, whether you want to believe it or not. Any nerd should know that.

Re:OOOK (4, Informative)

Evil Pete (73279) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619259)

Limits to Growth wasn't bullshit. Its predictions are pretty much coming to pass, and pretty much on time. There is a myth that they predicted all apocalyptic shit in the 20th century. I remember when Limits came out .... its predictions were aimed squarely at the early to mid 21st century.

Re:OOOK (3, Insightful)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619307)

So what does technology have to do with this? You mean we'll develop something that removes the CO2 in the future? It's not going to be very energy efficient though, getting the stuff back down will cost a lot more than we gained by releasing it in first place.

Starvation could be avoided with more efficient food growing but merely increasing efficiency won't undo the CO2 we emitted, merely prevent us from releasing more. What is being predicted here is the behaviour of the atmosphere and this researcher claims that we've reached the point where human interaction no longer matters and the planet has gone into a self-reinforcing cycle. You can't extrapolate human action but the planet itself behaves a lot more predictably than humans.

Re:OOOK (2, Informative)

Ice Tiger (10883) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619319)

The same people who predicted mass starvation in the 70s are now predicting massive climate change.

"According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, more than 25,000 people died of starvation every day in 2003" - Wikipedia article on starvation.

Mass starvation doesn't mean that everyone in the world is starving at once.

Re:OOOK (0, Troll)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619341)

Umm... I may be no expert about the current events in Africa, but I doubt too many there are suffering from heart attacks due to fat in their arteries...

The difference is that we can easily cure world hunger. Just add more weapons and you have fewer mouths to feed.

Re:OOOK (1)

polar red (215081) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619021)

think it's a bit foolish to say we can say much of anything definitive from our models at those type of timescales

And wouldn't it also be foolish (or rather irresponsible vs. our grandchildren) to just keep wasting and polluting like we do. I propose to do nothing (READ : Do nothing = STOP polluting) instead of keep experimenting with our environment.

Re:OOOK (1, Insightful)

sixoh1 (996418) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619087)

Good idea. First, get rid of your computer, that will save on the coal used to power it, but why stop there, get rid of your car, house and food-intake too.

What a maroon! (my pardons to Bugs B.) (1)

rts008 (812749) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619357)

"...get rid of your..."

Well, if you are going to go all 'asshat' here, then you need to be more specific.
Depending on how he 'got rid' of the PC, house, and car, he might have ended up 'greener' by keeping them going instead.

I would not be surprised if your nose was flat from all of your knee-jerk reactions.

Carry on...;-)

Re:OOOK (1)

Tenebrousedge (1226584) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619427)

Good idea. At the very least, he should investigate lower-power devices, and take steps to reduce electricity use and heating/cooling.

Use a netbook, laptop, or other low-power computer. Turn off lights when you're not in the room. Install efficient lighting.

Get rid of your car, or at the very least carpool. Preferably use public transit, walk, or bike. It's not as hard as you think.

It's probably not necessary to get rid of your house. Improving the insulation is always good.

Basically, avoid wasting things. And cars fucking suck, especially compared to good public transit.

Re:OOOK (1)

KibibyteBrain (1455987) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619037)

1000 years is a very long time to be making any assumptions. Another climate-influencing catastrophe or major geological event is quite possible in this time that could completely overshadow the current atmospheric composition. The human factor shouldn't be ruled out either. Technology could similarly make the natural influences on the climate irrelevant in such a span.

Re:OOOK (1)

sixoh1 (996418) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619059)

I wonder why the chaos theory mavens haven't jumped all over the "climate scientists" yet? It used to be all the rage to argue that computer models were highly limited in their usefulness. Now that the NWS is able to get 3-day forecasts almost always right, it seems like computer climate models 'should' be right. But then we forget both the fairly common errors (365 days a year, and you cant have 60% rain, it either does or it doesnt!).

The only way the weather predictions have been able to reach the reliability that we have today is through trial-and-error simulation and comparison against actual conditions. This occurred over at least a century (although advancing most quickly in the modern era with high-performance computing), and even today is really only sufficiently accurate for temperature,

Climate is such a long term thing that even if the models predict a yearly average, it will take hundreds or thousands of years before the climate models meet a true scientific test (hypothesize, experiment, verify, repeat). It seems to me to be a poor idea to rely on suspect data for such a globe spanning effect, political, economic and scientific.

The rush to 'fix' seems like a hasty panic in the face of a shadow on a wall, we dont know the size of what's producing the shadow, only that its there. It does seem prudent however to work to cut emissions in general, regardless of carbon content.

Re:OOOK (2, Interesting)

afidel (530433) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619119)

I don't disagree wrt reducing emissions, I just think that climate models are starting to become the Microsoft Excel of the scientific community. In business we give Excel to quants and get horribly flawed models that have no relation to reality because they do not understand that there is data they are missing which their model relies upon. I think we are getting to much the same thing with climate models, they put in their handful of datapoints and tweak the model till it conforms then they run it for x years in the future and claim that is somehow a prediction for future conditions.

Re:OOOK (3, Insightful)

polar red (215081) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619167)

Read up on how the climate is modelled please.

Re:OOOK (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619353)

There's a difference between weather and climate.

Re:OOOK (4, Insightful)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619275)

"Premature" is a kind way to put it. Moronic is more accurate. And I'm not a global warming denier; I think it's likely happening. But I'm MORE of a believer in mathematics, statistics, and logic, and those fields tell me that making any statement with that much confidence based on a low resolution, incompletely understood highly iterative model with many missing variables is not far removed from casting bones.

Re:OOOK (2, Insightful)

rastoboy29 (807168) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619409)

A thousand years is not a long timescale in geological terms, and those are the terms they are dealing with.

Not saying I know they're research is perfect or anything, but I think it's entirely possible they are right.

1st!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26618967)

let

Failure of logic (2, Interesting)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#26618969)

Wow. I hope the paper is not as inane as her quotes. There's a difference between passive conservation and active geo-engineering. What Solomon is trying to say is that even if we all hold hands and try to conserve that it'll make no difference because the damage is already done. Of course, to acknowledge this is difficult if you buy into environmental conservationism, as Solomon obviously does, so you end up with quotes like "I guess if it's irreversible, to me it seems all the more reason you might want to do something about it".

Re:Failure of logic (3, Interesting)

KibibyteBrain (1455987) | more than 5 years ago | (#26618995)

The interesting thing is, to assuming that geoengineering as a solution is impractical as much of the scientific community seems to suggest strikes me as odd being we have basically accidentally geoengineered ourselves into this mess, assuming the current causation theory is correct. Just hope we don't act carelessly in trying to come up with a fix and end up making the problem worse.(see the park service fighting small forest fires in Yellowstone for about a century...)

Re:Failure of logic (1)

amorsen (7485) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619181)

The interesting thing is, to assuming that geoengineering as a solution is impractical as much of the scientific community seems to suggest strikes me as odd being we have basically accidentally geoengineered ourselves into this mess

It is often harder to clean up a mess than it was to make it in the first place. If you can invent an easy process to turn CO2 in low concentrations back into carbon and oxygen, you have a winner. The easiest process is to just leave the carbon as carbon in the first place, but we seem to be unable to handle even that.

""If you can invent an easy process..." (2, Insightful)

tlambert (566799) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619401)

"If you can invent an easy process to turn CO2 in low concentrations back into carbon and oxygen, you have a winner."

Trees?

-- Terry

Re:Failure of logic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26619015)

Thank you.

If it is truly irreversible than rather trying to motivate the masses to reverse it or arguing about whether we caused it, we should be investing our resources in finding ways to live with it.

Re:Failure of logic (1)

Evil Pete (73279) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619281)

Being slashdot we need a car analogy.

If you are in a car heading for a brick wall and you know that even if you brake you will still hit it, would you then say "well since we're going to hit it anyway we don't need to brake at all"?

Not a failure of logic. (5, Insightful)

Xest (935314) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619361)

I don't really see why that's a failure of logic. Her point seems to be that, look we've pushed it to the point it's going to happen, let's not make it even worse.

The event isn't going to be a simple binary yes it does happen/no it doesn't happen it's going to occur on a sliding scale, it could be major, it could be minor, it could be anything in between, how we react is going to define that.

The logic only fails if you're viewing the result in a simple two state it does/doesn't happen manner. It's your application of discrete logic to a comment about a non-discrete system with a non-discrete range of outcomes that's at fault.

If what she says is true and that it is irreversible, then yes we need to do something about it- it means we've fucked up majorly and we need to do something about it now to ensure the impact it has is as small as possible. Certainly going with the attitude of "Oh well" and continuing as is is likely only going to make it a whole lot worse, or even speed it up so that it happens not in 1000 years, but in 100 years. Even if we can keep it to 1000 years and it is serious then at least there's the hope we'll have a better solution by then, but a solution in 100 years could be a much tougher call.

Re:Failure of logic (1)

rhyder128k (1051042) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619363)

Wow. I hope the paper is not as inane as her quotes.

Did you you even read the article? These climate changes could be "more irreversible". Up till this point, scientists had presumed that the changes were only a bit irreversible. She's super serial about this!

"The parts that we don't know, that are possible but very uncertain, shouldn't get in the way of what we do know." - I get this weird ache in the front of my head when I try to parse that one. Also, her entire thesis underestimates the issues surrounding the things that we might know to be possible but that we think can't happen but could if we don't act now possibly.

So .... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26618971)

Why bother?

I know what to blame... (2, Funny)

RuBLed (995686) | more than 5 years ago | (#26618987)

Damn whales exhaling in our oceans.

Re:I know what to blame... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26619041)

And hey, if they can blame cow farts for global warming, why not whale farts too?

I bet the water tastes like methane if you swim behind a whale.

And I'm pretty sure that's how humpback whales manage to jump out of the water: jet propulsion!

Oh crap. (1)

derfy (172944) | more than 5 years ago | (#26618993)

We didn't listen!@!

Oh... thats... great (1)

SolidAltar (1268608) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619001)

Great news to start off 1/27/09. Your world is ending, and there is nothing you can do about it.

I think a lot of us felt it would turn out this way.

Hope I look stupid in 50 years. I probably won't though.

Irreversible (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26619031)

Irreversible is a terrible word to say about global warming. How long until
"Why bother reducing gasses emission if we're doomed ?"
reactions ?

BS (1)

mapkinase (958129) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619035)

What a load of bull. I can't believe the crap people publish nowadays in PNAS.

Stupid is as stupid does. (1)

Max Romantschuk (132276) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619051)

It's too bad, but on average, the human race is pretty darn stupid. I think that just about sums it up...

Positive feedback loops. (3, Interesting)

blind biker (1066130) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619063)

I am not surprised. I have been pondering the various, strong positive feedback loops involved with climatic phenomena, like the release of gigantic amounts of methane from the Siberian permafrost due to warming, the decrease of vitality and eventual death of plankton in the oceans (main source of oxygen for the planet, as well as main source of food for fish) due to increased sea temperatures, decrease of albedo due to melting of icecaps and glaciers, decrease of rainfall and consequent decrease of forests (that the Indonesian and Amazonian forests have been mercilessly burnt, doesn't help), to mention just a few. I am sure the better informed reader can add a few more of these positive feedback loops, but in my humble opinion, these are the stronger ones, and make the process of global warming unstoppable.

Must have forgotten a few negative ones there, no? (2, Insightful)

Mathinker (909784) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619209)

Considering the evidence that climate has been cyclic with a cycle of approximately 100k years [wikimedia.org] for the last million-odd years, leads me to think that there must also be negative feedback loops involved here. You seem to have missed that. Badly.

Yes, I realize this doesn't mean that there couldn't be a magic global temperature or CO2 concentration at which suddenly this behavior breaks down. But somehow, I don't think we know all that much about all the processes involved.

Re:Positive feedback loops. (1)

Xest (935314) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619407)

I actually disagree with this idea that it makes it unstoppable, it just means more things need to be done to stop it.

There's no point stopping the ice caps melting if the rainforests continue to be burnt down for example. It's a truly global problem and if it's to be solved the solution involves reversing the damage to all these systems and not just one which is what too many "solutions" focus on.

You can't create a local solution to a global problem like this, it needs a truly global solution. That's not to say for example Obama's latest endeavours and quest for energy independence are pointless of course, because when the benefits of that are realised (energy independence means no more being held to ransom by Venezuela, Russia etc.) then other nations will follow. Local solutions can lead to global solutions then, but there has to be better realisation that global solutions need to be the end goal.

Good news, everyone! (1)

svunt (916464) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619073)

Oh, hang on, no that's pretty bad.

Re:Good news, everyone! (1)

sixoh1 (996418) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619105)

Thanks Dr. Farnsworth.

Damage is Already Done. Why Worry? Be Happy! (0, Flamebait)

Ron Bennett (14590) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619089)

If experts claim the damage is already done and nothing can be done to fix it, then all this worrying is pointless. Why worry, be happy.

IMHO, "global warming" is BS, since the Earth has experienced far warmer periods in the relative recent geological past.

And some news articles I've read said that Mars had experienced slightly warmer average temparatures in recent years. Umm, I know humans sent some robot landers up there, but they're electric not fuel guzzling Hummers or anything - so how else could Mars be getting warmer ... perhaps that big bright ball the Sun whose out fluctuates could be it, but that would be a too simplistic explaination - easier to blame humans for everything.

And as for the term "climate change" ... that is, well, dumb. The climate is always changing ... always has, always will.

Anyways, where is this irreversible "global warming" they speak of ... it's been cold this year - so cold that Gore's upcoming hearing on warming in Washington DC may be postponed due to excessive icy conditions. Ironic to say the least.

Ron

Re:Damage is Already Done. Why Worry? Be Happy! (2, Informative)

elFarto the 2nd (709099) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619245)

I suggest you read this [discovermagazine.com] and see why the Sun is not responsible for our current climate problem.

Re:Damage is Already Done. Why Worry? Be Happy! (2, Insightful)

AigariusDebian (721386) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619323)

Earth has not been 'far warmer'. See the hockey stick.

Cold in DC and in Europe for that matter is due to slowing of the Golfstream and masses on polar region air coming down, both of those phenomenons are activated by global warming.

It could be that the natural negative feedback loop for the global warming is the formation of an Ice age cowering Europe and most of the USA under miles of ice. That might balance things out. In a couple thousand years.

So ... 10 billion people, frozen Europe, Canada, USA, Russia, scorched deserts in most of Afrika ... where will we all go to live? Will everyone migrate peacefully? How many billion people will be killed in wars to control few strips of land that are still fertile? And how many billions will die of starvation because they did not have the military power to get those lands?

Not so fun.

Re:Damage is Already Done. Why Worry? Be Happy! (1)

EdZ (755139) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619419)

Not the goddamn short-term hockey-stick again. Go wave about a longer-term climate change graph than a mere 1000 years. Have a look at this [wikimedia.org] one, for example.

Re:Damage is Already Done. Why Worry? Be Happy! (1)

Meumeu (848638) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619413)

And as for the term "climate change" ... that is, well, dumb. The climate is always changing ... always has, always will.

"climate change" stands for "anthropogenic climate change" but four syllables words are too hard to remember for americans...

How long do we have, really? (4, Insightful)

ShooterNeo (555040) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619097)

The key element about global warming that seems relevant is this : how LONG will it take? If we have 200 years before the ice caps finish melting, then it's not really the crisis that it's made out to be.

Why won't it matter if it takes 200 years? Because realistically at even a fraction of the current rate of technological progress, mankind will have the technology to do something definitive about it in 200 years. The simplest, most elegant solution I can think of to global warming is to build giant orbital sunshades to reduce the total solar irradiance to the earth's surface.

I can even see how this would be done using a juiced version of current technology. Automated factories would produce the thousands of square kilometers of shade material (kind of like the automated factories in Japan right now...). The factories might be on the earth or the moon. We'd blast the shades into orbit using lasers (see Lockheed Martin's new LED pumped laser weapon for technology that could do the job TODAY) and they would automatically position themselves in the right location using tiny ion engines (also already been done).

The solar panels would produce electrical energy, which would be beamed down to earth via microwave. The panels would only be maybe 40-50% efficient, so the waste heat would radiate out to space, reducing the total thermal load on the planet.

Presto! Problem solved, and probably would be a profitable endeavor for some future megacorp.

Re:How long do we have, really? (2, Funny)

shmlco (594907) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619261)

"The simplest, most elegant solution I can think of to global warming is to build giant orbital sunshades to reduce the total solar irradiance to the earth's surface."

Why not skip that and just set off a couple of dozen nukes? A mild nuclear winter could offset the global warming trend quite nicely.

Re:How long do we have, really? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26619289)

haha, we can't even build a replacement to the shuttle in time

the reality is that contemporary societies will never invest in anything for which the return isn't immediate.

the project you imagine require much more foresight and discipline than the imbeciles running even the developed countries and the devolved who voted them into office posses... not to mentioned the 2 billion savages or so who busy themselves in slaughtering their brethern or escaping being slaughtered

Re:How long do we have, really? (2, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619305)

I think you have been overdosing on Kim Stanley Robinson books.

Re:How long do we have, really? (1)

Ice Tiger (10883) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619339)

You're assuming of course that our civilisation will survive peak oil quite happily. For an example of a civilisation that over utilised finite natural resources read up on Easter Island.

With China and India increasing demand for oil, could we afford the price when the recession ends?

Re:How long do we have, really? (1)

adler187 (448837) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619359)

Already been done and failed [wikipedia.org] .

No surprise.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26619131)

Everything's irreversible in the physical universe.

Don't forget! (0)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619161)

Mars and Jupiter have been experiencing "global warming", too.

So, you want to try to tell me again that we caused it all? Or even most of it?

Re:Don't forget! (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619283)

Not Venus?

Re:Don't forget! (2, Informative)

elFarto the 2nd (709099) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619303)

I suggest you read this [discovermagazine.com] and see why the Sun is not responsible for our current climate problem. Mars receives a tiny percentage of the Sun light the Earth does so we should be seeing a corresponding percentage increase. Jupiter's climate is mostly driven from its internal heat not the Sun (and we really don't know much about that). What about all the other planets, Mercury? Venus?

Re:Don't forget! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26619343)

Nobody gives a shit about Mercury anymore.

Re:Don't forget! (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619387)

Because?

Re:Don't forget! (4, Insightful)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619411)

Mars and Jupiter have been experiencing "global warming", too.

Oh yes, you're totally right! I bet you're the sort who argues over accuracy of Earth's temperature records, but you're willing to believe that we have enough data to show global warming on Mars and Jupiter FFS.

Anyway. From Realclimate [realclimate.org] :

Recently, there have been some suggestions that "global warming" has been observed on Mars (e.g. here [reuters.com] ). These are based on observations of regional change around the South Polar Cap, but seem to have been extended into a "global" change, and used by some to infer an external common mechanism for global warming on Earth and Mars (e.g. here [instapundit.com] and here [powerlineblog.com] ). But this is incorrect reasoning and based on faulty understanding of the data.

A couple of basic issues first : the Martian year is about 2 Earth years (687 days). Currently it is late winter [nasa.gov] in Mars's northern hemisphere, so late summer in the southern hemisphere. Martian eccentricity [nasa.gov] is about 0.1 - over 5 times larger than Earth's, so the insolation (INcoming SOLar radiATION) variation over the orbit is substantial, and contributes significantly more to seasonality than on the Earth, although Mars's obliquity (the angle of its spin axis to the orbital plane) still dominates the seasons. The alignment of obliquity and eccentricity due to precession is a much stronger effect than for the Earth, leading to "great" summers and winters on time scales of tens of thousands of years (the precessional period is 170,000 years). Since Mars has no oceans and a thin atmosphere, the thermal inertia is low, and Martian climate is easily perturbed by external influences, including solar variations. However, solar irradiance is now well measured by satellite and has been declining slightly [realclimate.org] over the last few years as it moves towards a solar minimum.

"Global warming" is political not scientific (1, Troll)

Roark Meets Dent (650119) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619177)

May 19, 2008 Are 32,000 Scientists Enough to Question Global Warming 'Consensus?' Marc Sheppard The National Press Club in Washington will today release the names of as many as 32,000 American Scientists who reject not only Kyoto-style greenhouse gas limits, but the very premise of manmade global warming itself. On Saturday, Lawrence Solomon wrote a great piece in the National Post (h/t Benny Peiser) which begged the question: "How many scientists does it take to establish that a consensus does not exist on global warming?" How many, indeed? Solomon, author of The Deniers: The World Renowned Scientists Who Stood Up Against Global Warming Hysteria, Political Persecution, and Fraud**And those who are too fearful to do so, reminds us that 32,000 scientists have now signed the "Oregon petition," which states that "We urge the United States government to reject the global warming agreement that was written in Kyoto, Japan in December, 1997, and any other similar proposals. The proposed limits on greenhouse gases would harm the environment, hinder the advance of science and technology, and damage the health and welfare of mankind. There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gasses is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere and disruption of the Earth's climate. Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth." Source: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2008/05/are_32000_scientists_enough_to.html [americanthinker.com]

Re:"Global warming" is political not scientific (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619405)

32,000 American Scientists who reject not only Kyoto-style greenhouse gas limits, but the very premise of manmade global warming itself.

Really? On what basis? If you don't provide evidence you are not doing science.

YOU FAIL IT? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26619223)

become an unwanted Polite to bring To make sure the it will be among accounts for less another special end, we need you a sad wor&ld. At Users. BSD/OS this post up.

CO2 in the oceans eh? (1)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619233)

Then we should plant lots of kelp. And there is little chance of a fire in a kelp forest.

RTFA (2, Insightful)

gpmanrpi (548447) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619265)

At the risk of sounding out of place. I listened to this on the drive to Bar Review Class today and the point was that the damage we have done is relatively irreversible, but we can stop the magnitude of the result by limiting green house gas emissions in the present. That is not particularly outlandish, but it is also slightly disheartening to see that we have passed a threshold of no immediate return. That is the reaction is moving in a reaction to restore equilibrium.
I think we need to not discount technological possibilities of the future, however, curbing carbon emissions is a laudable goal for the present.

Cue the anti-science, denialist crap... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26619391)

Slahdot is usually so pro-science, but the moment the subject of climate change is raised it's like being at a Kansas school board meeting.

So very Zeitgeist (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619395)

Can't do jack anyway, so why bother trying?

Obligatory (1)

CrashandDie (1114135) | more than 5 years ago | (#26619421)

You think it'll last forever. People and cars and concrete. But it won't. And one day it's all gone. Even the sky.

My planet's gone. It's dead. It burned like the Earth. It's just rocks and dust. Before its time.

You lot, you spend all your time thinking about dying, like you're gonna get killed by eggs, or beef, or global warming, or asteroids. But you never take time to imagine the impossible. Like maybe you survive. This is the year 5.5/apple/26, five billion years in your future, and this is the day... Hold on... This is the day the sun expands. Welcome to the end of the world.
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