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Friday, April 29, 2005

New Data Show Global Warming

Washington Post: Climate scientists armed with new data from deep in the ocean and far into space have found that Earth is absorbing much more heat than it is giving off, a conclusion they say validates projections of global warming. Lead scientist James Hansen, a prominent NASA climatologist, described the findings on the planet's out-of-balance energy exchange as a 'smoking gun' that should dispel doubts about forecasts of climate change. A European climate expert called it a valuable contribution to climate research. Hansen's team, reporting Thursday in the journal Science, said they also determined that global temperatures will rise 1 degree Fahrenheit this century even if greenhouse gases are capped tomorrow. If carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping emissions instead continue to grow, as expected, things could spin "out of our control," especially as ocean levels rise from melting Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, the researchers said. International experts predict a 10-degree leap in Fahrenheit readings in such a worst-case scenario.Evidence that global warming is both real, and human caused is certainly piling up. It is still unclear what we should do about it however. With current technology, capping emissions would lead to a global recession and probably as much death as all but perhaps the worst case scenarios (which I still think are quite unlikely.) I firmly believe that an feasible non-emitting energy source will be discovered by a robust and growing economy, not a shrinking one. Other keys to controling global climate and mitigating any damages are also predicated on a strong global economy. I fully support though putting resources into researching the problem and finding ways to combat this threat.


Anonymous tsykoduk said...

Ummm Yup I agree with you. Drastic action needs to be taken about this. Mystic and I were discussing what sort of action, and I sort of came up with a plan. Here it is:

1) Goverment gives steep tax incentives for Bio-fuel or Hybrid vehicles.

2) Goverment reduces taxes on bio-fuel by 1 cent per 1% bio-mass (already in place)

3) Imposes regulation that all vehicles sold by 2010 will be bio-fueled, hybrid or ZEV's of some sort.

Now, ya'll know how much I hate goverment intervention, however this seems to be an inexpensive way to do it - no outlay of public monies.

4/29/2005 03:58:00 PM  
Blogger Andrew Watkins said...

I agree that this is a problem, and think the most important thing to note is this, in a similar vein to what you point out: it took our fossil fuel-dependent way of life several hundred years to fully flesh out, so with any sort of historical perspctive I don't see how we can expect the next stage of natural resource utilization to be a quick-fix. It's going to take a long time, and is going to require a robust global economy -- most innovation does, but I am with tsykoduk; I think there measures we can take now, along with increasing the general sensibility of the American public. At least get Hummer H2s off the street, for the love of god.

5/02/2005 09:05:00 AM  
Blogger Dave Justus said...

I am hesitant to say a certain 'type' of vehicle is bad. Yes, most people who drive H2s probably don't need them, but then if we go by need only that means we are probably all riding bicyles.

For some people, an SUV is the best and most efficient vehicle for their needs.

As the price of oil increases, although I think it will go down a bit over the next year or two, more effient vehicles will naturally become more attractive to people. I think the market can handle that just fine, although it might make sense to have an addition tax on all fossil fuel emitions, that would help limit use and the money could go into climatology research.

While I am no fan of taxes, I think that neighborhood effects, such as Co2 emissions, cause a legimate regulatory need and taxes (in this case a gas tax, and probably an additional tax on fossil fuel power generation) are an effective way to regulate that.

The tax in this case should be relatively small I think, maybe 5 or 10 cents a gallon and the money should certainly go into dealing with the direct problem. Of course, the way our government works it will tend to go anywhere but there.

5/02/2005 10:47:00 AM  
Blogger Cubicle said...

Global warming is a problem that will solve itself.

If things get warmer and ice melts, then you are going to have longer growing seasons and more greenery.

The warmer it gets the more ocean you will have also (Most oxygen is produced by the ocean, i bet the ocean also uses the most C02).

More greeneray on land and more ocean means that there will be more green plans sucking CO2 out of the air.

Do the models that perdit warming account for the extra amount of C02 that would be removed? Probably not, because those are climate models....not models of ecology.

5/02/2005 12:25:00 PM  
Anonymous tsykoduk said...

I was not been able to get in and comment on this on Justus For All – Blogger is having issues again. So, my comment is posted here

5/02/2005 02:25:00 PM  
Blogger Andrew Watkins said...


I do agree with you that regulation of vehicles, even Hummers, is a ridiculous concept, and is such a slippery slope I wouldn't take it seriously. I guess what I meant was, along with anything the government might be able to do, the American public has to start gearing up for an adjusted way of life, for things to ever change, and part of that is using a little common sense when it comes to producing and buying SUVs. Also, with regards to oil prices, from what I understand, the newest price spikes are unique because they're not artificial price gouges -- it's an actual increase in worldwide demand, which means the prices can go up and the increased demand will sustain them. This is different than say, an OPEC-fueled price hike, and I wonder if prices will go back down in a year or two, or at all.

I think tsykoduk nails it on the head; the worry is not whether or not the earth can handle the effects of global warming, or even the species homo sapien -- in the cliched words of Jurrasic Park character Ian Malcolm, "life finds a way". The funny thing is, environmentalists, whose focus is on the natural world, really have nothing to fear from global warming. It's the artifical constructs of humanity, coastal cities, islands, offshore platforms, international shipping, et al, that will have a hard time adjusting, or even break down.

5/02/2005 08:05:00 PM  
Blogger Dave Justus said...

As to the price of oil, yes there has been an increase in world wide demand, in addition to instability in the middle east, but a portion of the price of oil right now is a speculative bubble as well. My guess is the oil 'should' be at about $40 a barrel, a lot more than the low 20s it was in a couple years back, but a lot less than it currently is.

I also think that China may hit an economic recession in the next year or two and that will lower demand (and speculation about future demand) as well.

5/03/2005 07:58:00 AM  
Anonymous tsykoduk said...

I do agree with you that regulation of vehicles, even Hummers, is a ridiculous concept, and is such a slippery slope I wouldn't take it seriously.

The only regulation that I would ever support is a broad - all vehicles must be hybrid, bio-mass burners or ZEVs. Drive your H2 - but run B100 in it.

5/03/2005 08:04:00 AM  
Blogger Dave Justus said...

Brian (Broken Quanta) has pretty much convinced me that Hybrid's are not really worth it, either economically or ecologically.

They are image, but not substance.

I am also unconvinced that bio-fuel is viable as a primary vehicle energy source. Some things are more efficient as they scale up, other things are not. Steven Den Beste wrote a number of posts on this subject, and they are fairly convincing.

The idea of an algae based bio fuel, especially via genetic engineering seems promising to me. Right now though that is Science Fiction.

5/03/2005 12:24:00 PM  
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