TED Conversations

Bob Charles

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Where is objective, non-political "anthropomorphic global climate change" research?"

I see so much questionable popular applications of current research:

o Summertime is a good time to have an elevated awareness of global warming.
o People assume the world climate should be at a steady state.
o Weather equal climate.
o 1 millimeter sea rise equal one foot.
o An increase of 1 degree Celsius equals 17 degrees F.
o CO2 is a poison. 1000 ppm concentration will cause us to not to breath.
o Who teaches the carbon cycle?
o What is "natural" human behavior?
o Mother Earth is a person.
o Why is there no objective unbiased/nonpolitical scientist leading the movement? Like a Richard Feynman type?
o Is this just a battle between Capitalists and Socialist?
o Non one talks about how we adapt to the looming devastation.
o etc ...

My present state, which I hope changes with your input, is the following:
o I do not study the issue.
o I am not a green person.
o I do not believe either "side" .. strange there are sides.
o I think the garbage dumps are the best place to store recyclibles. Future mines.

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    Jul 15 2013: Bob, 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. 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 crowded clusters of people who have upset the apple cart.
    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, I think that idea is as good as any out there.
  • Jul 15 2013: In answer to the question you asked, and without commenting on the rest of your post, the place to look for the most factual, truthful information on global climate change is in peer-reviewed scientific journals. Examples of such journals are Nature, Science, and the Journal of Geophysical Research. Prepare yourself in advance: these journals are technical, as they are intended for research professionals and not so much laymen. There are often articles in technical society magazines that are written at a lower technical level while still preserving the facts. I don't know about a lot of them, but Physics Today, published by the American Physical Society, has articles on the topic several times per year.

    Since you mentioned the name of Richard Feynman, please allow me to share with you some of the things I have learned from him. First and foremost, that mother nature is what she is, whether or not we understand it, approve of it, or want it. Second, beware of experts, especially people who tout their expertise. A true scientist is humble in the face of the awesome ignorance that even the most knowledgeable people bear. And thirdly, that every great truth is immersed in a cloud of uncertainty. That last is something that the climate change deniers use as a weapon in their campaign, to prevent environmental issues from being addressed. A lesson they learned from the tobacco industry, which successfully evaded regulation for more than a half century.
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      Jul 15 2013: Less than 5 minutes ago: Thank you for your list of peer reviewed journals. And your comments on Feynman .. I need to re-read his works from time to time to keep me grounded.
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    Jul 15 2013: What is the purpose of reducing human activity that is harmful to the Earth?

    o Improve the human condition?
    o Improve the animal conditions? What does that really mean? Don't we have to apply human norms to animals to make the subjective judgement that the animal condition is improved?
    o Protect Mother Earth? What is good or bad in relation to a planet? Good and bad simply do not exist outside human thought.
    o Are we trying to maintain the natural order of things? The Sun is not in steady state .. nothing is in steady state. So, what is the perfect state of life? Pre agricultural Earth (10,000-12000 years ago)? 65 million years ago? 300ppm CO2? Sea level 10 feet less than now? ????
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    Jul 15 2013: i recommend to check the blogs of mark lynas and matt ridley. they cover multiple issues, global warming science being one.

    http://www.marklynas.org/
    http://www.rationaloptimist.com/
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      Jul 15 2013: Krisztian: Thank you very much for introducing me to Mark Lynas and Matt Ridley (Rational Optimist). I examined their web pages and read a few of their articles since your post.

      They offer many current leads to information on the Climate Change issue. They seem objective and not afraid to expose fallacies. I was tempted to say "on both sides" ... unfortunate that there are sides. That indicates peoples' incentives are getting disrupted. Where there should be just one incentive IMO improving the human condition.
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        Jul 15 2013: there is climate science, and there is politics. sadly, the latter is responsible for 99% of the noise. sure as hell it should not be the case, but it is.
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    Jul 15 2013: "97 percent figure refers to studies that took a position on whether global warming was manmade or not (66 percent of the studies surveyed did not express a position)."

    TED FRIEND: You misquoted the article. You are assuming that the 66% that did not express an opinion in their abstracts follow the same ratio as those that did. I contended they have not reached that conclusion and are still remaining objective.

    The number of studies affirming a popular opinion is meaningless. Often, in science, the quality study is one that goes against popular belief system. It is a risky business today just as it was in Galileo's time.

    The question is really what factor of global warming/cooling is attribute to human activities. It is between 0.0 and 1.0 .

    I is very unfortunate that good science is shrouded and manipulated by political/economic power struggles.

    Anyway, the article you cite does give me a clue where to look ... those still studying the question .. The 66%
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      Jul 15 2013: Thank you for this clarification. I have heard the 97% quoted many times and never the 66%.
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          Jul 15 2013: Thanks, TED Friend. I am not a moderator and don't typically follow the threads on that topic, but I will certainly flag your concern to the moderators.

          Please continue to flag personal attacks. The moderators cannot read every post and rely on participants to flag violations that occur.

          I will get on it.
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          Jul 15 2013: The Conversations staff is small. and gets a remarkable number of emails in a day. There are also sometimes software glitches.

          It sometimes takes them a few days to get to things, particularly if a weekend is involved.
    • Jul 15 2013: Your statement about the attribution of global warming to human activity is incorrect. By burning carbon based fuels at a rate many orders of magnitude more rapidly than the CO2 can be removed from the atmosphere by plants (and other natural processes), we have increased the CO2 level in the atmosphere with probability P = 1. Whether that has resulted in an increase in the surface temperature relies on an understanding of a physical process called radiative transfer. If you wish to educate yourself on this, might I suggest the book by the same title written by S. Chandrasekhar in the 1930s, that has been experimentally verified science for seven decades now.
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        Jul 15 2013: Didn't all the fossil fuel sources, by definition, once exist in plant and animal material? Wasn't that a natural state of the Earth? If so, isn't the rate of change the real issue? Perhaps there is a suitable minimum rate of burn science can agree on that doesn't cause severe transients.

        Of course there is some debate about all methane since it exists on other terrestrial bodies with out the aid of life.

        I need to check on the ratio human CO2 creation and removal from atmosphere.

        Thanks for the Chandrasekhar reference.
        • Jul 15 2013: Yes, of course the fossil fuel sources once existed as living material, and it was sequestered over hundreds of millions of years as a result of geological activity (such as plate subduction). Saying what the "natural state" of the earth is or was is a tricky question, because again of geological processes. For instance, volcanism releases massive quantities of gases on an episodic basis, and some animals, e.g., corals, remove carbon to form their calcium carbonate exoskeletons.
          Looking at the history of the last 425,000 years based on ice core samples (as reported in Nature in 1998), we know that the CO2 level in the atmosphere has fluctuated in the past, and has been increasing almost monotonically since the industrial revolution began. With the industrial revolution, we started using sequestered carbon at a high rate, first by burning coal, then later adding petroleum to the mix.
          At the same time, we are cutting down rain forests in the tropics and generally removing forests elsewhere, which reduces the rate at which plants remove CO2 from the atmosphere. Adding CO2 or methane, for that matter to the atmosphere decreases the infrared transmissivity of the atmosphere and results in retention of more heat from the sun - the so-called greenhouse effect. It is what is called a positive feedback system, in the sense that as the temperature rises, arctic tundra melts, releasing more methane which in turn causes retention of more heat.
          Think about this: Even the oil industry agrees that within the next several years, we will reach the point of having removed more than 50% of all the petroleum from the earth. It took hundreds of millions of years to form, and we'll have burned half of it in just over a century.
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    • Jul 15 2013: These kinds of studies are useless. For example, in the 1920s when Heisenberg, Schrödinger, Bohr, Born, Pauli and Dirac were developing quantum mechanics, the great majority of scientists were skeptical, even though the theory solved some great problems with classical physics and correctly predicted a number of otherwise unexplained phenomena. Einstein, for instance, remained skeptical to the day of his death.
      What establishes scientific truth is the ability of a model to predict experimental outcomes, and climate science is doing just that. Sure, there are errors, because the earth system is extraordinarily complex. But look at what the opposite "side" is saying: denial only, no experimentally verifiable models, no quantitative explanations for their positions that will stand the test of analytical scrutiny.
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    Jul 15 2013: Bob, unlike you I have been chasing this dog since Al Gore got up and said....

    I have read everything I could find and even went out to the tangents to find how this all came about. I have no idea. It seems to come out of the fact that some folks don't like fossil fuels and want to get rid of them. There has been all kinds of stuff about renewable energy sources. Which seem to be food, wind and sun. Well, these have been used for years and they never really amounted to much. Using food for fuel is really antisocial, but that's another conversation.
    People don't seem to like nuclear, which it turns out to be not that bad...
    But your list is about right and it doesn't make sense to me either.
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      Jul 15 2013: I just do not understand why Al Gore was used to advanced the cause if it was not politically motivated. To many, he is a polarizing figure. And he is a non scientists.

      I guess that is what turned me off to studying the issue any further.

      Looking forward to IPCC AR5.
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    Jul 14 2013: I just hope that objectivity is not a myth as far as climate change research is concerned; because even an initial quest to be objective gets swamped by the tides of the prevailing arguements.
    However the Bible says "Seek and you shall find". Good luck in your search.
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    Jul 14 2013: "On April 12 1633, chief inquisitor Father Vincenzo Maculano da Firenzuola, appointed by Pope Urban VIII, begins the inquisition of physicist and astronomer Galileo Galilei. Galileo was ordered to turn himself in to the Holy Office to begin trial for holding the belief that the Earth revolves around the Sun, which was deemed heretical by the Catholic Church. Standard practice demanded that the accused be imprisoned and secluded during the trial."

    http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/galileo-is-convicted-of-heresy, 2013

    I seem to feel that anyone opposing the popular view of the human role in global climate change may face this type of treatment. Of course, maybe, not to that extreme .. but enough to keep them quiet. I do not like to see scientists manipulated that way.