Sam Powick

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Global Warming - Real or faked?

In most places, human induced global warming/climate change due to CO2 emissions is taken as truth simply because people hear about it so much. The Kyoto Protocol and other such agreements are examples of that. But I am skeptical, for a couple of reasons: one, why is there so little true transparency globally on this issue? In my country New Zealand, we have recently implemented an Emissions Trading Scheme, the details of which are classified information - so all we know is roughly how it is supposed to work, and that we have an extra tax to pay.
And two - the percentage of CO2 we emit is so small compared to volcanoes etc...what is wrong with letting nature do what nature does?

I would love to hear what you think, I have absolutely no answers, but of course an opinion! :)

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    Jul 12 2013: Denial has far-reaching consequences, leading from a loss of grip on reality on a personal level, to the collapse of entire civilizations.

    In psychology:
    "denial /de·ni·al/ (dĭ-ni´il) in psychiatry, a defense mechanism in which the existence of unpleasant internal or external realities is kept out of conscious awareness"

    In science:
    "A climate denier has a position staked out in advance, and sorts through the data employing "confirmation bias" - the tendency to look for and find confirmatory evidence for pre-existing beliefs and ignore or dismiss the rest."

    Man-made Global Warming? It may be very uncomfortable to do so, but I strongly suggest you listen to what climate science is telling you - Not, repeat NOT what politicians and economists would have you believe in order to confirm and maintain a cozy, fossil-fuelled status quo.
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    Jul 12 2013: Sam Powick,
    Are you looking for peer reviewed scientific work validating the reality or high probability of global warming? Are you looking for sources other than from IPCC?
    Do you think there is a direct and one to one correlation between smoking and lung cancer? Do you think health hazards of smoking are fake?
    For me, such debates as this have become irrelevant on the face of huge body of evidences, data and observations that make international community of science leaning heavily towards the possibility of Global Warming and more specifically Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW).
    If you make your stand clear, I think I and many can start it afresh once more.
  • Jul 13 2013: Since the existence of of global warming due to human is such a controversial topic, I think the topics that we should be focusing on are the toxins released by the burning of fossil fuels and the eventual impracticality of using said fuels.

    Firstly, the burning of fossil fuels releases nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide, which can dissolve in water vapor to produce acid rain, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide. The burning of fossil fuels also produces PAHs, which are carcinogenic. As if the health threats weren't enough, we won't even be able to use fossil fuels in an economic manor within the next 10 to 15 years because the price to use them will rise so much that renewable energy will actually become more affordable. Whether or not people believe in global warming is irrelevant because we won't likely have to worry about fossil fuels within the next 15 to 20 years.
    • Jul 14 2013: Unfortunately, renewable energy is plain and simple non competitive.
      Hydroelectric and geothermal are great, but there are only so many rivers you can dam, and geologic hot spots to tap, and most of them near where people live are already used up.
      Solar and wind produce electricity per dollar spent somewhere between one and two orders of magnitude beneath fossil fuels. That's just not realistic, especially for developing countries that need that power now, and cheap just to get necessities we take for granted in the west. Renewables instead of fossil fuels will cripple them.
      I don't know of any revolutionary development down the pipeline that will solve those fundamental problems.

      Nuclear may be the only real answer, but half the world can't touch it due to politics (you'll be blamed for trying to develop nuclear weapons), and the other half is hesitant due to fear mongering of another Chernobyl.

      We'll be burning off fossil fuels until they run out, or at least turn non-economical. That'll take a while yet--the oil may be at risk, but there is plenty of natural gas, and coal to last for a long time to come, with all the harm they do.

      Fossil fuels are currently the best solution.
      That doesn't make them a good solution by any stretch of the imagination, just not as bad as the rest.
      • Jul 14 2013: By 2020, the price of oil and the price of solar will level out, however, the cost of oil will continue to rise and the cost of solar, and other renewable sources, will continue to decrease. Renewable energy will become a very competitive player. Nuclear energy will, most likely, become a very viable option as well due to LFTR technology. These types of reactors are incapable of melting down, yet they output the same amount of power as a modern reactor.
        • Jul 14 2013: Modern nuclear reactors are plenty safe if you build them right, that's not the issue. The problem is that the public and the politicians don't trust them, and half the world can't touch them due to fear of being blamed for starting a nuclear weapons program.
          Don't get me wrong, I'm very much pro nuclear power, but I'm also depressingly realistic.

          As for oil and solar, maybe, once the oil starts running out (the easy stuff anyway, not what you have to produce from stuff like tar sand at a net energy loss). Now, that will happen eventually, but 2020 seems a bit pessimistic.
          Coal and gas reserves are much vaster though, and while oil is more useful for mobile power generation, coal and gas are the dominant ones for electricity and industry.

          Don't forget that you also have an issue with how mobile your power sources is. Hydroelectric for example, is great for power generation, but you can't exactly use it as a motor fuel. Fossil fuels will remain the best option for that for a long time to come (hydrogen fuel cells are a pipe dream, batteries are underpowered, and biodiesel using current technology compromises food supplies).

          In short, don't count fossil fuels out yet. They have quite a run ahead of them yet, and seeing the alternatives, we should be grateful for that.
      • Jul 14 2013: Modern reactors are safe in operation, but they still retain the possibility of melting down and they also generate nuclear waste, which lasts for thousands of years. On the other hand, LFTR technology cannot melt down and it generates radioactive waste which only remains a threat for 300 years at most. In operation, they also generate rare metals which are utilized in electric cars. Thorium is several times as abundant as Uranium, therefore making it a green and viable option for future mass energy production. Thorium is also quite abundant on the Moon, so this may provide incentive for the space industry.
        • Jul 16 2013: A new technology might help put a new spin on things.
          The problem is currently less technical prowess (current reactors have their issues, but a host of advantages to more than make up for it), and more of the distrust the public has for nuclear power.

          Of course, if the LFTR reactors look significantly different than developing a nuclear weapons program, it might help that half of the world that can't touch nuclear power generation due to politics.
          You'd have to ask someone who knows more about this stuff than I do for that. Diplomacy as nuclear physics.

          The real question is how you convince the general public, if the technology proves practical.
          Until you do, we're stuck with fossil fuels. As I've said before, all the green stuff comes with severe limitations, to the point of being crippled.
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    Jul 11 2013: Thanks everybody for their comments! Now, as if the debate wasn't heated enough :)
    Has anyone heard of Christopher Monckton? He claims:
    - there has been no global warming for nearly two decades.
    - a doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere will cause a 1.5 degree celsius global increase
    - if global warming is real, the cost of adaptation to the increases will be 45 times less than the cost of forestalling it using measures currently in place
    He also says he intends to take the IPCC to court over data tampering.

    I am interested in what anyone has to say that hasn't already been said in the wikipedia page. Eg. has anyone seen any of his debates, read his papers or the papers rebutting them, etc?
    One more thing: Science is not based on consensus, it is based on theories that are supported by evidence.
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        Jul 12 2013: I apologise, I was not very clear. What I was trying to say was that I did not want comments merely citing wikipedia as a basis for their arguments, as sometimes happens on TED. My source was not wikipedia, is was a conference I attended at which Christopher Monckton spoke.

        It seems that you are basing your analysis of him on the very source I was trying to avoid.
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        Jul 12 2013: I appreciate your opinion, however I would prefer it if you researched your comments before you post. The aim of this debate is of course to state opinions, but also to try and persuade the opposition, which of course will not happen by unwarranted personal attacks on climate critics unsupported by evidence.

        In response to your earlier comment: " who the hell cares what a politician thinks..." I would like to ask you what Al Gore's profession was before he became an expert on global warming.
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    Jul 11 2013: EVERYBODY PANIC! Or, instead, everybody research a principle called LeChatelier's Principle. This chemical principle states that if a reaction at equilibrium is perturbed by the addition or removal of a product or reactant, the reaction will adjust so as to attempt to bring that chemical species back to its original concentration. Al Gore has become a billionaire as an expert on this "The Sky Is Falling!" issue. Many government agencies depend heavily upon the existence of the perceived need for research and corrective action plans. As ususal with any government matter, Sam, follow the money!
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        Jul 11 2013: Oh no! You're on to my get-rich-quick-by-denying-global-warming scam! Now the inflow of cash from the Koch brothers will stop. By the way, 97% of the barbers I have asked said I definitely needed a haircut. Hmmmm. When you say the "top world climate scientists" that would represent a small number because of the superlative connotation of the word "top". Only one or two can rightly qualify as top climate scientists,because there aren't that many. What is 97% of one or two? Or, is the group of "top scientists" only open to those who support GW? What is the epithet for those who accept and promote GW if "Deniers" is tatooed on those who do not accept or promote GW? (Shouldn't it be "Accepters"?). Any insight on LeChatelier's Principle? Thanks!
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        Jul 11 2013: RE: "Maybe you need to open. . . " If the phrase "top climate scientists" has any meaning it does not matter how many countries there are on Earth. Superlative adjectives and adverbs are often abused just as you are doing here. This debate is not about me, what I am educated in, what I am afraid of, and whether I seem intelligent to you. We are debating if GW is BS or not. So, by way of staying on-topic and avoiding personal attacks, would you revisit my comment where I asked four specific questions? You have not addressed one of the four as of yet. Would you mind answering those for me? I did not ask them just to see my words in print. Thank you!
  • Jul 11 2013: I'm a skeptic on the whole global warming issue, and not being a public figure, I can afford to say so.

    CO2 levels in the atmosphere are historically related to temperature not because CO2 causes warming, but because warming causes more of the CO2 dissolved in the oceans to be spit back out.
    If one looks are a graph of recent CO2 measurements compared to temperature (say the last 100 years), you find there is absolutely no correlation. In fact, up until the 70's scientists thought the world was heading towards an ice age.
    Solar activity actually has a much closer correlation with temperatures on earth, and its fairly safe to say what causes what in that particular case.

    The real problem is that without global warming, climatologists won't be getting nearly as much funding (before the whole global warming thing took off, no one with any real money bothered to as much as spit in their direction).
    I don't know if there is some sort of conspiracy amongst them, or if some of the more prominent ones figured it out and published enough biased research to convince the rest, but there is no doubt that their budgets shot straight up in recent years (by hundreds of percents).

    Volcanoes actually release more CO2 into the atmosphere than humans. A single large eruption that occurs every couple of ten-twenty years spits out more of the stuff that we do in a century.

    The politicians can lobby all they want, but the truth is, they only know what they've been told. The vast majority of them can't scientifically interpret their way out of a cardboard box. I'm afraid the general public isn't much better in that regard--they believe what they're told by the media, which also benefits from global warming's sensationalist value.

    I've yet to see anything to convince me that global warming is a real issue.
    There is no shortage of legitimate issues that we need to concern ourselves with a fictional one.
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    Jul 11 2013: Hi Sam.
    I must admit to being a skeptic on this one. This planet is a veery resilient machine. Man's contribution appears to be the burning of fossil fuels. When I was at school the main concern was the extinction of fossil fuels. Either way, they are a natural product of nature. They've been buried a while, now we're burning them quickly. We will not do that for long, when the party's over then there will be no more pollution. Pollution is a natural process, but is time limited; planet earth can cope.
    People are making a fortune out of all this. Windmills to produce electricity; are we nuts, that is plain nonsense. But very lucrative. Then we get to maintain them & finally scrap them when we finally admit our folly. £££££££. $$$$$$$ €€€€€€.

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    Jul 17 2013: Real - and caused by mankind.
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    Jul 16 2013: Sam, I have made this argument in other global change conversations and I think it bears repeating....

    there is lots to be said about co2 pollution and other stuff in the air... but, advocates talk about ending fossil fuels and how that will help. The real pollutants are the people. Stay with me on this, History of early California and the area known as the LA basin was one of the most pristine places on earth. Perfect weather, soft seas, gentle breezes. I mean as described it could get an atheist to believe in God. there were original Americans coming by (Shomash (sp) tribe) followed by some Spanish missionaries building missions.

    That was then, this is now. nearly 30 million people crowded in and paving over the land, air pollution, garbage up to there, water wasted, rivers diverted and river beds turned into condo sites. The list goes on. So, if everyone ends fossil fuel use, the world would be a better place. Oh and I forgot, those gassy cattle... they are no help either. So, the whole world has to jump through hoops to ease the problems created by clusters of crowed people.

    My solution to Global Climate change or a help...
    Bulldoze all that paving in the LA basin and plant trees flowers and shrubs. Let the rivers flow again. Move all those people to west Texas and give them a job holding charcoal filters against the backsides of cattle to help clean the air.
    Now that is a solution to help climate change as good as any proposed.
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    Jul 16 2013: Sam
    What Nadav said.
    Let me add, people really are the problem, not so much on what they do, but they cluster in large groups to do it.
    Consider, a small group of nomads stop to build a fire for dinner, the earth can absorb any pollutants generated. or
    10 million cars in Los Angeles, stalled in morning traffic jams, idling with their leaking air conditioners running....

    When I was in a course on community planning, my instructor quoted (someone) "cities should be limited to 100,000 population and have a 30 mile (45 km) green belt of forest or farmland around them"
    That makes so much sense, considering....
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    Jul 15 2013: I don't consider global warming a big threat in our modern society, it is very controversial though, as said by Kevin
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    Jul 13 2013: Sam,
    I have chased this hog all through the jungle for years and i haven't been able to figure it out. What I came to know is you are about right. Nature will do what nature will do. Is mankind tipping the scales? I don't know, Co2 is not on top of the lists of stuff that causes global temperatures to rise. It seems that back in the days of the dinosaurs, Co2 was a lot higher then now and so was the global temperature and then it changed. Was Co2 the cause or effect?
    Why am I skeptical ? It's the shrillness of the proponents and how they denigrate any one who has doubts or questions them. that's not the way that scientists talk to each other. But, the biggest flaw in this argument for me... they can tell the weather in 50 years but they can't tell me if it will rain next week for sure.... I just don't know..
  • Jul 12 2013: Seven Billion people is a large number of people. If there is a disagreement and the scientists are generally on one side and the greedy Porkers are on the other. I know who i believe Don't you? Tell me the answer to see if we agree.
    • Jul 12 2013: I wish it was that simple. Nothing ever is.

      Scroll down a little, I think you'd be surprised how little consensus there is even in this small group of people.
      • Jul 13 2013: Nadav I did as you suggested.
        Reading the comments and remembering the photos of melting glaciers our unusual weather etc.

        Global warming and the falling Ph in the Oceans scares the dickens out of me. It shouldn't be so extreme as it seems to be.
        • Jul 14 2013: You're missing my point.
          No one is doubting that the earth is heating up right this very minute. The doubt, is as to whether or not its caused by human activity, as opposed to say, shifting solar activity. The earth was actually cooling for a few decades up to around the 1970's.

          If the current warming trend isn't due to mankind, then we may end up treating an illness that doesn't exist, at exorbitant cost.
      • Jul 15 2013: If you do what we are doing with people to animals - You go to jail.
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    Jul 11 2013: The global climate has been on a warming trend for about 350 years now, and the climactic records show wide variance in global temperatures over the last half a billion years, from tropical climates in the high latitudes to the recent ice age.

    The very idea that there is an 'correct' temperature for the planet, or that we've been experiencing it, is preposterous. Almost as preposterous as the idea that climate change is cause by humans.
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    Jul 11 2013: Al Gore, a man with a single giant carbon footprint, who does not either practice or believe in this has "sold" the sky is falling for years while not inventing the internet. Hard to believe the spokesperson .. hard to believe the story.

    The one thing I read that increased my doubt .... a core sample from 2000 feet in the polar cap indicated that little or no change in earths gasses had occurred in thousands of years.

    Everyone can hire a "expert" to swear to what ever they want either for or against.

    The bottom line here is money ... not health or the planet.
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        Jul 11 2013: You say Al Gore is not the face of the movement. Sure has a lot of people fooled then. How many scientists are in a almost?

        Thanks for admitting that the "top" world climate scientists have expressed their "OPINION" not facts that climate change is real and man made.

        That would make my opinion as valued as their opinion. Thanks again.
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        Jul 12 2013: To late. You stated that they were just opinions. I take your word for it. Thanks. Al Gore is the face of the movement. If not then who?
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    • Jul 11 2013: I'm not claiming to have common sense on my size, I'm claiming the evidence simply isn't there, and that climatologists and many political groups have a vested interest in touching up the so-called science, and that the media always tries for the sensationalist.

      I've listed my argument more thoroughly before, so this time I'll try to be brief.
      -causing concern=budget and influence
      -volcanoes emit more CO2 than humans anyway
      -the historic connection of CO2 and temperatures is due to heating causing the oceans to spit out dissolved CO2
      -the more recent connection of CO2 and warming simply doesn't exist (the earth was cooling for a few decades up until the 70's).
      -variations in solar activity are simply a much more convincing explanation.

      I don't think I can be briefer than that without dropping issues or turning the argument unintelligible.
      The evidence simply doesn't point to man made warming.
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        • Jul 11 2013: No, it means following along their reasoning and evidence, and making your own informed judgement. While noting any vested interests they have along the way, and taking those into account.
          Otherwise, we'd all be ruled by con men who know how to appear clever. The politicians are bad enough without us all being unthinking sheep.

          The simple truth is that human CO2 emissions have shot up since the industrial revolution around 200 hundred years ago, and have been increasing steadily. No one is disputing that.
          Temperature has only been going steadily up for the last 40 years or so. Before that, it was going up and down more or less sporadically. Look up measurements of the last century or so if you don't believe me.
          The correlation simply isn't there.
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        • Jul 12 2013: What I'm saying is that the climate scientists don't need anyone to pay them to twist the facts, the know its in their own best interests. Otherwise, they wouldn't get research budgets half the size they enjoy.

          You know when the whole global warming thing really took off? When Margaret Thacher was busy dealing with coal mining unions.
          She and her supporters latched on to some theory that those oh-so clever climate scientists of yours thought ridiculous at the time (remember, back then the consensus was that we're heading towards an ice age). Global warming. This allowed her an easy pseudo scientific explanation of why coal and middle eastern oil is bad.

          The climate scientists realizing how much more budget they can get due to the whole global warming scare came later.

          Now I'm not saying the other side is morally upright or anything. No one ever is. That doesn't make them wrong however.
          Don't forget that there are also plenty of people selling 'green' equipment and constructing a 'green' industry that also have a lot of money to throw around supporting research groups, and plenty of politicians that jumped on the global warming bandwagon.