April 20, 2005

Global Warming: The facts

In response to recent debate (we started with posing the question to any Labour supporters as to what reasons existed for them to be worthy of getting a vote from anyone, and somehow via the Conservative manifesto ended up on Global Warming), I am publishing some information which may be of interest to many of you.

Firstly, don't call it Global Warming. Global Warming implies an accross the board increase in temperature. The climate is much more complicated than that, and for that reason it's called Climate Change when discussing it here please. But I digress…

Edit Following further discussion, I have realised that this section of analysis is irrelevant for the global warming case due to ice being pure water and seawater being salty and therefore denser A common misconception I'd like to dispell is that melting of polar ice will cause sea levels to rise, flooding great expanses of low-lying land. The poles (at least the north pole) are afloat. Ice is chemically identical to water, it just exists in a different state (solid as opposed to liquid). When ice melts, it forms water. Some physics: objects afloat displace a volume of fluid equal in mass to the object that is afloat. Ice is less dense than water, hence it floats. When ice melts, the volume of water it forms is exactly the same as the volume of water it displaced when it was floating ice, as its density has increased. It's elementary physics really. Go get a cup of water brimfull and some ice cubes if you don't believe me, and see for yourself.

Next, we move on to ice that is on land. Get out a map, and take a look at Greenland. You'll notice that it's probably white. This is because Greenland is actually covered in a layer of ice 4 miles thick. This is melting away, which is causing sea levels to rise. I forget the amount by which they are predicted to rise, but it's a fair few feet. Not enough to drown the world, but enough to alter most coastlines by quite a bit. You might be interested to know, before all you greenies jump up and down in jubilation, that this would be happening whether I go drive my Aston Martin at 150mph or not. This is because the ice is left over from the last ice age, and ocean currents are warming it up and melting it away naturally anyway. There isn't really anything mankind can do about this; our planet is still thawing from the last ice age and that's all there is to it.

Now, your global temperature models. Are you aware of sunspots and solar activity? The sun you see is a very interesting body. It contains about 2×10^50 protons in it, which fuse at its core at the rate of about 4 million tonnes a second, joining to form helium nuclei (and others in a reaction series collectively called the carbon cycle edit: the carbon cycle is much more prevalent in larger stars than our sun, stars the size of our sun and smaller prevalently react in a process called the proton-proton chain reaction. Thanks to Mr Brent for this correction!) by a process we call nuclear fusion. For a big ball of reacting gas, the sun is surprisingly complex with many currents and heat flows and a surprising amount of instability – it's not just on at a steady rate, the sun fluctuates. One of the tell-tale signs of this are hotspots on its surface called sunspots. If you link up sunspot activity to climate variations, you get a surprisingly good correlation. Thus, one of the main drivers for climate variation is in fact our sun and not humanity (hardly surprising when you consider that the earth's surface is being bathed in a constant-ish 1730 watts per sqaure metre of light from the sun). The sunspot cycle varies between 8 and 15 years in length, although it is a relatively short cyclic variation, and solar intensity also varies over much longer periods of time. More on this later.

The main thrust of the argument for man-made Climate Change is that mankind is consuming vast amounts of energy, releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere which will cause the climate to change beyond the point of no return. Carbon dioxide is what is termed a "greenhouse gas", that is it has the effect of a blanket in retaining heat in from the earth. Yet CO2 only accounts for around 3% of greenhouse gases in the first place (95% is water vapour, the other 2% methane and other associated gases), and mankind's emissions of CO2 are something in the order of 2% of total CO2 levels I believe, although this last figure may be incorrect (edit: this was incorrect. According to contributors, the figure is closer to 15%. However, 15% of 3% is still a rather miniscule 0.45%). Allow me to dispell the suggestion that the facts support this…

All computer simulations of climate change say that, based on how we understand climate to work, the low layer of air for one to five miles up (the low troposphere), where the radiation is trapped by greenhouse gases, should warm. That low layer of air warming should, in turn, warm the surface. The human-made greenhouse warming component must warm both layers of air, with computer simulations indicating the low troposphere would warm more quickly and to a greater amount than the surface. This has not been supported by scientific facts gathered during the last 10 years. Allow me to present you with two examples of this.

Let's start with the surface temperature records. They are made by thermometers, and go back to about the mid-19th century in locations scattered around the world. For some locations the records go back even further.

Two groups have analyzed these surface temperature records: the Climatic Research Unit in Great Britain, and the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Sciences. They broadly say the same thing: The 19th century was cooler than the 20th century. There may be some disagreement on the exact amount of the warming, but certainly the 20th century was warmer than the 19th.

To see if the 20th-century surface warming is from human activity or not, we begin looking in detail at the surface record. In the 20th century, three trends are easily identified. From 1900 to 1940, the surface warms strongly. From 1940 to about the late 1970s, a slight cooling trend is seen. Then from the late 1970s to the present, warming occurs. Briefly, the surface records show early 20th-century warming, mid-20th-century cooling, and late 20th-century warming.

Most of the increase in the air's concentration of greenhouse gases from human activities—over 80 percent—occurred after the 1940s. That means that the strong early 20th century warming must be largely, if not entirely, natural.

The mid-20th-century cooling can't be a warming response owing to the air's added greenhouse gases. The only portion of this record that could be largely human-made is that of the past few decades. The slope of that trend calculated over the past few decades is about one-tenth of a degree Centigrade per decade.

Now, most all the computer models agree that the human-made warming would be almost linear in fashion. So over a century the extrapolated warming trend expected from continued use of fossil fuels would amount to about 1 degree Centigrade per century. That's what the surface temperature says would be the upper limit.

The surface warming can be concluded as owing to human-made greenhouse gas emissions only if the low troposphere warms, if the computer simulations are accurate. One can have surface warming from a variety of reasons. So the key layer of air to look at is the one-to-five-mile up layer of air.

NASA launched satellites starting in 1979 to measure this layer of air. The satellites look down and record these measurements daily. I've plotted the monthly averages. There are lots of jigs and jags in the data, and they are real.

The air temperature varies not only on a daily basis, on a monthly basis, but also from year to year. A very huge warming spike in 1997–1998 is a strong, natural phenomenon called El Niño, a warming of the Pacific that in turn warms the air. Because the Pacific is so pervasive in the global average, it raises the temperature. But it doesn't last very long, and after the El Niño subsided, temperatures fell.

El Niños are natural and occur every several years. In 1982, an equally strong El Niño was developing in the Pacific. But then, a volcano erupted. Material lofted by strong volcanic eruptions can temporary cool temperatures. So those two events occurring at nearly the same time meant there was a net cooling just after 1982, instead of an unmasked strong El Niño-driven pulse of warmth.

El Niño is part of a system of ocean and air changes called the El Niño Southern Oscillation, in which the La Niña phase tends toward cooling. Detailed physical understanding of the El Niño Southern Oscillation is lacking.

Again, these phenomena are naturally occurring. They have existed for many millennia prior to human-added greenhouse gases in the air.

If you ask the computer to naively draw a linear trend through the data recorded by satellites. This linear trend probably has a bias, an upward bias because of that strong 1997–1998 El Niño warm pulse. Nonetheless, the fitted trend is: positive four-hundredths of a degree Centigrade per decade.

Now, this is the layer of air sensitive to the human-made warming effect, and the layer that must warm at least as much as the surface according to the computer simulations. Yet, the projected warming from human activities can't be found in the low troposphere in any great degree. The four-hundredths of a degree Centigrade might be entirely due to this El Niño bias. If the small warming trend in the low troposphere were assumed to be entirely human-caused, the trend is much smaller than forecast by any model. Extrapolated over a century, the observed trend indicates a human-made warming trend no greater than four-tenths of a degree Centigrade.

In contrast, the computer models say this very key layer of air must be warming from human activities. The predictions are that the air must be warming at a rate of approximately a quarter of a degree Centigrade per decade. Comparing what the computer models say should be happening with the actual satellite observations shows a mismatch of around a factor of 6. That is, this layer of air just is not warming the way the computer simulations say it should. There should have been a half a degree Centigrade per decade warming in this layer of air over the period of satellite observations. The human-made warming trend isn't there.

Now, an argument is often made that the measurements made by satellites looking down on this key layer of air are biased, or that the satellites have instrumental problems. NASA researchers worked very hard to make these measurements the best possible, and to correct for any of the deficiencies seen in them. But it's always useful to have an independent set of data, and we have that from NOAA (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) scientists and from other groups around the world.

Measurements are also made of this layer of air from weather balloons that carry thermometers. Balloons are launched worldwide every day to make the measurements. The balloon data go back to 1957, and importantly, they overlap with the satellite data which began in 1979 and have continued through the present. During the period of overlap, the correlation coefficient between the two data sets, the technical term for how well do these two independent measurements agree, is well over 99 percent. In other words, the satellite data and the balloon data both say that the records reflect the actual change in this layer of air. Again, as with the satellite record, one can recognize short-term natural variations—El Niño, La Niña, volcanic eruptions—but one does not see the decades-long human-caused warming trend projected by climate models.

Often, one sees these same data from this key layer of air with a linear trend drawn through them. However, because of bias in the record from a natural phenomenon, it is not appropriate to draw a straight line through the four decades of the temperature record. One must work around the natural phenomenon I'm going to tell you about.

Every 20 to 30 years, the Pacific Ocean changes sharply. The sudden shift is called the Pacific Decadal Oscillation, or PDO, and produces an ocean, air, and wind current shift. Fishermen will notice, for example, migrations of fish species along the West Coast. In 1976–1977 the Pacific Decadal Oscillation shifted, and is labeled the Great Pacific Climate Shift of 1976–1977. As a result, temperatures changed dramatically from their former average (since around 1946), and returned to warmth seen from around 1923 to 1946. So sharp is the shift that the appropriate thing to do is to look for a secular trend (which might be the human-made trend) before 1976–1977, and then after 1976–1977. But drawing a straight line through that natural event should be avoided.

The PDO is natural, because proxy records—of tree growth, for example—detail the oscillation going back several centuries, which is prior to human activities that significantly increase the content of greenhouse gases in the air. And also known from computer simulations is that the human-made warming trend is supposed to grow steadily over decades. So, a shift all at once in 1976–1977 is ruled out by those two reasons. One, it's not what the models project; and two, we see this event before the build-up of human-made greenhouse gases, and it is therefore natural.

The satellite data and the balloon data agree when both records coexist, from 1979 to the present. The balloon record reaches back four decades. Neither record sees a meaningful human-made warming trend.

Now, just remember this one thing from this talk, if nothing else: That layer of air cannot be bypassed; that layer of air must warm if computer model projections are accurate in detailing the human-made warming trend from the air's increased greenhouse gases. But that layer of air is not warming. Thus the human-made effect must be quite small. Additionally, the recent warming trend in the surface record must not owe to the human-made effect. The surface temperature is warming for some other reason, likely natural influences. The argument here, from NASA and NOAA data, is that this layer of air from one to five miles in altitude is not warming the way computer simulations say it must warm in the presence of human activity. Therefore, the human-made effect is small. The surface data must be warming from natural effects, because the human-made warming trend must appear both in the low troposphere and at the surface. All models are in agreement on that.

Now, if the surface data are warming for a natural reason, what might that be? Research teams study changes in the energy output of the sun and its influence on life and the environment of earth. Records of sunspot activity reach back to the days of Galileo, some 400 years ago. Scientists then could project an image of the sun and draw these dark sunspots that were seen through early telescopes. We know sunspots to be areas of intense magnetic activity, and from NASA satellite measurements in the last 20 years, we know that over time periods of decades, when the magnetism of the sun is strong, the energy output of the sun is also more intense. That is, the sun is a little bit brighter when magnetism is high, and the sun is a bit fainter when magnetism is weaker.

The sharp ups and downs in the sunspot record define the familiar 11-year cycle, or sunspot cycle. The period is not exactly 11 years. It varies between eight and 15 years, and there is no good explanation for the cause of the cycle. But I'm not going to look at the short term, but rather the changing sun over decades to centuries.

Over the past half-century, the sun has become very active, and the sun is more active than it has been for 400 years. Therefore, the sun is likely at its brightest in 400 years.

Also noteworthy is a feature called the Maunder Minimum. In the 17th century, the observations of sunspots show extraordinarily low levels of magnetism on the sun, with little or no 11-year cycle. That phase of low solar activity has not been encountered in modern times (although radiocarbon records indicate that a Maunder-minimum episode occurs for a century every several centuries). The 17th-century Maunder Minimum corresponds with the coldest century of the last millennium.

That may not be a coincidence. If the sun's energy output had faded, the earth may have cooled in response to that decrease in the sun's total energy output.

The next step is to look closer at the temperature records on earth, and see if they link to the decadal-to-century changes in the sun's energy output. Climate scientists believe they can reliably reconstruct Northern Hemisphere land temperature data back to, say, the year 1700.

If changes in the energy output of the sun, drawn from the envelope of that activity of changes in the sun's magnetism, are superposed on the reconstructed temperature record, then the two records show a good correlation.

The ups and downs of each record match fairly well. The coincident changes in the sun's changing energy output and temperature records on earth tend to argue that the sun has driven a major portion of the 20th century temperature change. For example, a strong warming in the late 19th century, continuing in the early 20th century, up to the 1940s, seems to follow the sun's energy output changes fairly well.

The mid-20th century cooling, and some of the latter 20th century warming also seem matched to changes in the sun.

To review: The surface warming that should be occurring from human-made actions, which is predicted to be accompanied by low troposphere warming, cannot be found in modern records from balloon and satellite platforms.

Thus, the recent surface warming trend may owe largely to changes in the sun's energy output. QED, W^5 etc…

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  1. Mathew Mannion

    I sit here in disbelief, and run off to find a non-American geologist to come and actually give a more informed response than I can…

    20 Apr 2005, 21:52

  2. I happen to be of English birth and nationality thank you very much Mr Mannion :-P

    20 Apr 2005, 22:03

  3. Mathew Mannion

    Yes but the article is based around American research from what I can see, and seeing as you're the only person outside pro-Bush propoganda to actually make a claim of this magnitude I was simply stating that I would be finding an opponent to it.

    20 Apr 2005, 22:06

  4. Thanks for this. I have yet to see any proof that mankind is responsible for climate change. All the evidence suggests that we're coming out of a mini ice age.

    The Romans grew grapes in Britain. 700 years ago fireplaces suddenly started appearing in houses. 50 years ago people were worried we were about to enter into another ice age.

    20 Apr 2005, 22:06

  5. Actually I'm not the only one to make a claim of this magnitude outside pro-Bush propaganda. And just because an idea is mainly associated with a country that is mainly known for policies that are viewed to be bad and individuals that are mainly viewed as being incompetent for their posts, does not mean that all ideas that they have are wrong. It's an unfortunate association for the anti-climate change movement to be associated largely with the American government, but that association alone doesn't make us wrong. Please don't make this mistake, and approach with an unbiased mind :-) The American people to their credit after all have put men on the moon and been responsible for the development of a great many modern technologies, so not all of them are that stupid…

    And thank you for your support Mr Cooper.

    20 Apr 2005, 22:22

  6. J-Dog

    First off… you’re a fool.

    Second; no one said anything about the melting of the North Pole, it’s the South pole (that massive land continent on the bottom of the Earth) that everyone is worried about, it is THAT which will raise sea levels having devastating effects to all low lying and coastal areas.

    It is man’s intervention that is speeding up the process of climate change exponentially faster than nature would have it.

    As for the sun… which is the hottest planet in the solar system? Venus I hear you cry because u know a lot about astro-science… you would be correct. Why, when Mercury is closest to the sun and its awesome power of dictating the climate? Because it has an atmosphere, just as earth does, and the thicker the atmosphere, the more heat is trapped in it (which is what the green house effect is) not “sun spots”. Man’s intervention is what is speeding up the atmospheric trapping of heat.

    Where did you get your scientific data?

    www.bushscientistsforthenewamericancentury.org ?

    20 Apr 2005, 22:29

  7. Mr J-Dog – If you wish to call me a fool, please back up this claim with evidence. Second, I did acknowledge in my post that the southern pole is a land mass and melting of this would cause sea levels to rise. You claim that man's intervention is speeding up climate change, yet the evidence I have provided contradicts this. I'm not saying the greenhouse effect doesn't exist, far from it – as you rightly point out, Venus is the classic example that proves its existence. However, the evidence gathered here does not appear to support the claim that global warming is taking place to any significant degree. Much of the atmospheric data has been gathered by NASA over the last 26 years, as was clear in my post, and believe it or not NASA know a thing or two about science. I read about this data in an article by a senior Ph.D at the George C. Marshall Institute by the name of Sallie Baliunas. The data that has been gathered though has been done by numerous respected scientific bodies, and the data they have accumulated is not contested by any credible scientific body, to my knowledge.

    20 Apr 2005, 22:39

  8. Hey, we like dirt-digging.

    Baliunas is an astrophysicist, and not a climatologist.

    And her results have been strongly contested.

    However, 13 of the authors of the papers Baliunas and Soon cited refuted her interpretation of their work, and several editors of "Climate Research", the journal which published the paper, resigned in protest at a flawed peer review process which allowed the publication.

    Furthermore, Baliunas has external interests. Part of her work is for think-tanks funded by The American Petroleum Institute. In the past, she also attacked the Ozone Layer Hole theory. And we know how that turned out…

    20 Apr 2005, 22:46

  9. Well, okay, a little more.

    20 Apr 2005, 22:49

  10. It snowed in April….therefore we don't have global warming….

    20 Apr 2005, 22:56

  11. Ugh… Maybe you should actually read the article first.

    20 Apr 2005, 22:58

  12. I'd have thought an astrophysicist would be fairly well qualified to talk about solar activity cycles, probably a lot more so than most climatologists. This is trying to be a scientific debate, not a political one, so scientific evidence would carry much more weight than background information about the author.

    First off, a real name (if not a website) is considered polite when trying to enter into a reasoned debate. As is a lack of pointless insults.

    I've heard the North Pole mentioned several times, along with the South Pole, and yes obviously with significant melting there would be an increase in sea level – but Chris admits that in his article. He then goes on to say why he believes it has been proved that temperatures will not rise by enough to cause a catastrophic volume of ice to melt.

    Then you say "It is man’s intervention that is speeding up the process of climate change exponentially faster than nature would have it." You do not attempt to prove it or make any reference to external information, but in this one uncorroborated sentence you expect to refute a couple of thousand words that are trying to prove that the perceived rate of change is not as high as is popularly perceived.

    Stating that Venus has an atmosphere and Venus doesn't proves nothing. We all know that earth has an atmosphere, and that without it our climate would be exactly that of the Moon (temperature swings of 200–300 degrees). Chris does not deny that the atmosphere retains solar heat at night and insulates the Earth from it during the day, he merely contends that the percentage change in atmospheric CO2 levels is not the prime cause of extrapolated trends in temperature. We don't have any data for the average temperature of both Venus and Mercury to the nearest hundredth of a degree for the last century; if we did, it would settle a few arguments one way or the other. But in their absence, you haven't proved anything by talking about them.

    Interesting article (is revision going that badly?!) and extremely well-presented and -written. I'd never heard the case from that side of the argument before. Like Mat, I'm interested to hear how genuine experts would respond. In the absence of one of those, have you considered sending this to Colin Oram?

    20 Apr 2005, 23:02

  13. Thanks for your support Matt, but I think we're going to need to be a little more scientific and conclusive to win this one :-)

    Mr Fang, I know Baliunas is an astrophysicist. I'm a mechanical engineer, and you describe yourself on your blog as a student at the Mathematics Institute. So neither of us are "qualified in the field" as such. However, the three of us do share intelligent and scientific minds, and the wonderful thing about that is that scientific minds can think their way around pretty much any problem that presents itself. Baliunas's arguments are not based on complicated climate change models but simple scientific facts, and the simple facts show the lower troposphere is not warming at anything like the rate it should be for climate change to be a valid model.

    20 Apr 2005, 23:05

  14. Yes, but an astrophycist would not be well suited to evaluate the proportional effect of solar cycles – unlike a climatologist, who would normally have to take all these factors into effect. And if we consider that 13 other astrophysicists rejected her interpretation, even though it was based on their data, then, her political and financial background, and her past fallibility become very important indeed.

    In any case, this analysis contains strong factual errors, and is based on outdated data. See my blog.

    20 Apr 2005, 23:09

  15. Oh, missed your comment Si – as it happens, no I haven't got any plans to send this to Oram. It's just a bit of fun really, I can't really see convincing anyone seriously entrenched in their views to change them with this. Endless data will be supplied to refute the claims I've made of course, such is the nature of scientists…

    20 Apr 2005, 23:15

  16. Er… data is rather important to science, yes?

    Endless data = irresistable force.

    And relativity tells us there is no such thing as an immovable object.

    20 Apr 2005, 23:17

  17. I read up to the point when you described the reactions taking place in the sun as "the carbon cycle", then stopped, because I if you get that wrong for no apparent reason, I can't trust anything else you say.

    20 Apr 2005, 23:21

  18. There is nothing wrong with that. See link

    20 Apr 2005, 23:30

  19. Yes, and to quote directly from that site:

    While the proton-proton chain is more important in stars the size of the sun or less, theoretical models show that the CNO cycle is the dominant source of energy in heavier stars.

    It's a simple thing – either you get it right, or you don't mention it at all. Getting it wrong just implies a lack of research, and that is my point

    20 Apr 2005, 23:43

  20. Well there are endless streams of data supporting both sides Mr Fang. It's just a case of deciding which one you trust more and seems more right to you. Personally, I find the endless confusion from the side of the Climate Change voices as evidence enough that they haven't got their facts straight. One minute we're headed for an ice age, then it's a drought, etc etc. Every time we get freak weather, it's blamed on Climate Change. Even when the Tsunami occured on boxing day, there were murmers (including from the government's chief scientist) that Climate Change was to blame. Until the fuss calms down, some sense starts coming from the voices and they get a story straight for more than 5 minutes, I'll stick with my side of the argument.

    And thank you for your link on the carbon cycle. Saved me the bother of finding it :-) Apologies for not being more clear in defining the carbon cycle that is related to nuclear fusion and not that related to photosynthesis Mr Brent.

    20 Apr 2005, 23:43

  21. Just to clarify, in case you misunderstand:

    the proton-proton chain is more important in stars the size of the sun or less

    He is talking about the sun. As far as I am aware, no other stars contribute to global warming. Or whatever you want to call it.

    20 Apr 2005, 23:44

  22. J-Dog

    Matthew Rogers. i assume you are joking, some1one as intelligent as you would know that when something heats up, particles move around faster. this done on a global scale creates more irratic weather conditions… hence snow in april. but im sure u knew this!

    20 Apr 2005, 23:45

  23. Whoops, my bad. That'll teach me to not pay too much attention in A-Level physics and then try and be a smartarse eh? :-$

    20 Apr 2005, 23:45

  24. And I posted comment 20 before reading 19… Sorry about the time delay issues!

    20 Apr 2005, 23:46

  25. Heh. Just so you know ;-)
    And I'm afraid I also have to semi-support J-Dog (in comment 22 at least – the other time was a bit uncalled for) in that global warming doesn't result in everywhere getting hotter. Some places will get colder, for example England if the Gulf Stream wanders off looking for a mate somewhere. Claiming that global warming isn't occuring because there is snow in April seems rather lacking in both knowledge and thought I'm afraid.

    20 Apr 2005, 23:50

  26. I recognise this, as I thought I tried to explain in my opening bit about why I prefer to call it Climate Change not Global Warming. Although it should be noted that snow in April has in the past by no means been a freak weather occurence in the UK, in fact we get a lot less of it than we used to. Anywho, I'm off to watch the Paxman-Blair interview before bed, I shall re-enter this fracas tomorrow…

    20 Apr 2005, 23:54

  27. Personally, I find the endless confusion from the side of the Climate Change voices as evidence enough that they haven't got their facts straight. One minute we're headed for an ice age, then it's a drought, etc etc.

    That's an inaccurate statement.


    Was an imminent Ice Age predicted in the '70's? No

    In all of science, there is inherent uncertainty. Uncertainty cannot be completely removed. Ever. But the responsibility of government is to guage the uncertainty, and act despite it. Climate change is a science – therefore, there will be discoveries. But it is far less uncertain than many other things we take for granted.

    It is worthwhile to note that all the discoveries so far have increased the predicted severity of Climate Change effects.

    Still no comment on my rebuttal, though.

    20 Apr 2005, 23:55

  28. J-Dog

    so do you suggest people carry on driving around in their SUV tanks or do you, Chris, advocate a global movement to cut down on CO2 emissions even if it means having to drive your Aston Martin at the the speed limit?

    all science has a political element, anyone who thinks otherwise hasnt really thought about the relations of power and knowledge

    20 Apr 2005, 23:56

  29. Good grief.

    It never ceases to amaze me how people can look at the same evidence, and come up with rubbish like this (or creationism or whatever else).

    You have mixed up several different parts of the question, which can easily be broken down into:

    • What is happening?
    • What is causing it?
    • What will it cause?

    What is happening: Global temperatures are rising. Our output of greenhouse gasses is increasing massively. Greenhouse gasses can cause global warming.
    What is causing it: Here's the sticky question, is our output of greenhouse gasses the cause? Most scientists think so. The solar activitiy thing is certainly an effect, but is not sufficient to explain the current rapid change.
    What will it cause: A change in societies on local, national, regional, and global levels. Simple as that. The level and nature of this change is very hard to predict. There's concern that the rising temperatures is increasing the flow of freshwater from meltwater in Russia. This is affecting the salinity of the north atlantic, which is the driving force of the North Atlantic conveyor – the gulf stream. Shut that down, and we could see icebergs in the channel.

    Your selective application of data is quite frankly an insult to the thousands of people who have spent their lives collecting it, even though I appreciate your attempt to be rational.

    Perhaps you should go and have a look at climate change 101 from UCAL and Scripps.

    21 Apr 2005, 00:01

  30. Chris I would try harder, but I really am hopeless at science, and in a particularly flippant mood.

    J Dog, thanks for the implied compliment!

    I truly believe that the greenhouse effect is likely to be so small as to be completely insignificant. No controlled scientific experiment can be run to show what is actually causing climate change: natural or man-made factors. All we have is conjencture and it is very easy to run into spurious correlations. There is no dispute that there are more greenhouse gases in the air. Similarly there is no dispute that the climate is changing. But this correlation does not imply that there is a causal link.

    Besides we have had huge fluctuations in climate over the last 1000 years. In the 16th century England had an almost mediterranean climate, with evidence of oranges being grown. In the 19th century the Thames froze over for all of the winter on a regular basis. This was before the days of cars and pollution. Is there any reason why we are not just in another purely natural cycle of climate change?

    21 Apr 2005, 00:32

  31. Simple. The maths doesn't match.

    It's a theory, not a conjecture. The difference is that we are producing testable predictions. And the predictions are being satisfied. We can also quantify the effects from other factors, taking into account the things you mentioned, and we can find that they are not enough to account for current changes. In conclusion, climate change is proven – it is as proven as anything can be, using the methods of science.

    21 Apr 2005, 00:37

  32. I won't pretend to know anything detailed about this subject. However, it seems to me to be a waste of time to argue like this. If climate change is not occurring as a result of human behaviour then that's all well and good, but if it is then in a few years time we could be looking at disastrous changes to our lives as a result of our complacency, and than it may be too late to make a change. What's the problem with making an effort to clean up our acts – after all, pollution is hardly a beneficial addition to the modern world even if you completely discount climate change.

    21 Apr 2005, 00:39

  33. I'll ditto that.

    Besides, we do need to be cutting down on our use of petroleum, regardless of climate change. Oil prices are ever going up, supplies are set to become more unreliable, and eventually, it will run out.

    The climate change issue is an opportunity to resolve something that will come up eventually, anyways.

    21 Apr 2005, 00:44

  34. Lindsey

    Mr. Fibbles says to smile!! (To all of you!)

    Umm.. yeah.. anyway. I thought I'd come crash your rant and my gawd there are a lot of comments!

    And since I made Sara watch the episode with Mr. Fibbles….

    Yeah…... I'm Canadian eh gotta love me!!!

    Luvs ya! I is the best so hopefully you'll laugh at me just a little bit!

    21 Apr 2005, 04:02

  35. Mr Fang – I will get to your rebuttal when I have some serious time to devote to some research. At the moment I'm afraid, I should be getting on with course-related things! I have looked at it; as far as I can tell your main data source is the same as mine (analysis of the lower troposphere by NASA satellites and weather balloons); however your data is based following adjustments made in 2004 because apparently there were interference problems with the stratosphere, whereas my data is based from 2002 before these adjusments were made. What I don't get is how there was a 99% correlation before between weather balloons and satellite observations, if this error was present. Like I said, I'll look into it when I have time and get back to you. To yours and Miss Nicholson's later comments, well I wholeheartedly agree on sensible precautions for limiting mankind's emissions. That's why we have catalytic converters and particulate traps in exhaust systems to reduce almost all non carbon dioxide emissions, and why engine technology is getting more efficient. However, future emissions targets (in particular the next Euro standard for diesel engines) are not realisitcally achievable. Carbon dioxide emissions are soon to be limited for manufacturers, with a maximum mean CO2 per km limit across the manufacturer's fleet. Such proposals are ridiculous, and don't even get me started on Kyoto and the vast waste of money that is. The point is, we are overreacting and seriously harming our industry, development and economies with our knee-jerk reaction to the problem, which is exacerbated by media portrayal of the Climate Change debate. That is the reason why we should have this argument in the first place.

    J-Dog (since you still refuse to contribute your real name to a reasoned debate), since you gave a flippant comment I'll give a flippant answer – yes, why the hell not?

    Mr Hammond, I would respectfully ask you to not post in a demeaning tone that supposes you are right and I am some complete imbecile for suggesting otherwise. I am actually an intelligent person, and I'm not the only intelligent person to think that Climate Change may be wrong. I have not used an overly demeaning or aggressive tone here (at least I think I haven't, if I have and anyone is offended then I apologise right here). Apologies if my post did not follow the structure you outlined, but I didn't plan it with any structure as such, I just commenced typing. My application of data is not selective, I have used the data gathered by what is accepted by many to be the most accurate representation – satellite analysis of the lower troposphere. Satellites allow a wide area to be examined (the whole earth, in fact) and in the opinon of many give a much better overall picture than thermometer measurements in spot locations. If you wish to disprove that satellites are the best way of measuring the lower troposphere temperature, or that the lower troposphere is the area where we should be concentrating our analysis to find evidence of global warming, then please be my guest and educate me. Until then, please approach debates on my blog with a reasoned tone. Thank you.

    And Lindsey – thanks for your support :-P

    21 Apr 2005, 10:01

  36. If you'd read Zhou Fang's rebuttal, you'd see a link to this – which explains the discrepancies in the data from satellite measurements.

    This is an example of your selective application (or perhaps poor understanding) of how science works. I shall elaborate:

    Your view:
    Satellite measurements suggest that the troposphere isn't as warm as we thought. Therefore, there is no warming effect.

    The scientific approach:
    Satellite measurements suggest that the troposphere isn't as warm as we thought. Why do we observe a substantially different result to that expected? Is it a measurement issue? Are the models wrong? Is something skewing the results? Let's do some work to find out.

    The work by Quiang Fu at Washington U discovered the answer, almost a year ago (see link above). Since the satellites are well out of the troposphere, they were seeing some response from the stratosphere, which is actually cooling. Once that's accounted for, the results tie in precisely with the lower atmosphere data.

    I'm sorry if you find my tone demeaning, but I get intensely, personally, annoyed by the kind of junk science that you write about here, and the accompanying political philosophy (ostrich) that is supported by this kind of stuff.

    I know that you're not the only intelligent person to believe that "Climate Change may be wrong," although most accept that climate change is occuring, but disagree the the greenhouse effect is causing it. It remains that there is consensus amongst climate scientists that human effects are indeed contributing significantly to climate change. If you want to change the paradigm, it is up to you to prove the contrary, whereas all you have done here is suggested problems with the current model.

    21 Apr 2005, 11:24

  37. corollory:

    You may not be the only person who believes that climate change is wrong, but you could at least have written your own piece, rather than plaguarising


    21 Apr 2005, 11:27

  38. In reference to your corollary: I did give Dr Baliunas's name as the chief source for this post… I chose to paste from that article as opposed to writing it out myself. Yes ok so I didn't specifically cite that article as a reference, but I wanted to put the text in this article rather than just a link.

    I have indeed read Mr Fang's rebuttal, and read the first article to which you like, as I explained in comment 35: "I have looked at it; as far as I can tell your main data source is the same as mine (analysis of the lower troposphere by NASA satellites and weather balloons); however your data is based following adjustments made in 2004 because apparently there were interference problems with the stratosphere, whereas my data is based from 2002 before these adjusments were made." As you yourself point out, this discovery was made less than a year ago, which is more recent than the last time I looked at the Climate Change debate in detail. Prior to this, the information in my post was generally accepted by the scientific community – I therefore take exception to you describing my post as "junk science". In this post, I have shown how with the data I was using the model does not corellate to the findings, and also have provided alternative explanations as to the changes we are observing through variations in solar activity. That's not "just finding problems with the current model" – that's showing that the current model does not match to the data, and also providing alternate explanations which have been observed and verified (solar activity trends). As I said in post 35, I was not previously aware of the new data that Mr Fang has linked to, but I will do my best to look into it and draw my own conclusions when I have time to properly trawl through the data, and get back to his rebuttal. Please read my comments fully in future.

    21 Apr 2005, 12:09

  39. "Chief Source", "a reference" != copying wholesale from somewhere else. That's just passing off someone else's views as your own, aka. plagiarism.

    The solar activity is already factored into climate change models, and is a small effect in the first place.

    this discovery was made less than a year ago, which is more recent than the last time I looked at the Climate Change debate in detail

    So you want to present "the facts", but you don't want to know what the facts are currently believed to be before presenting your views?

    Your post is junk science, not because the data given is wrong per se (with the few mistakes which you readily correct when shown, to your great credit), but because of the way you use the extremely limited data that you present here (of which a major tranche is incorrect, vis a vis the satellite measurements) to draw conclusions far beyond what the data show.

    21 Apr 2005, 12:46

  40. What I don't get is how there was a 99% correlation before between weather balloons and satellite observations, if this error was present.

    What, now, is a correlation? A correlation could be, perhaps, a trend in that as one data dips or whatever, other data seems to correspond to it. A correlation does not mean that the two datasets give exactly the same values. The new information is that of a broad systematic error in the readings – it may be possible to adjust for this, and still keep the correlations.

    21 Apr 2005, 12:56

  41. If solar activity variations are a small effect, then why has the past seen such dramatic climate shifts without man's input? The earth has gone through numerous ice ages and periods where areas of the earth have been much warmer than they are at present (references to grapes and oranges being grown in Roman times, and pictures of Southern England recieving deep snow fall every winter bear testimony to this). Climate Change is a natural process driven largely by the sun and it's variations. The question we must ask ourselves is: is mankind affecting this process through his activities here on earth? You say yes, I say no. I admit I don't have the latest data yet, as I said I will look into it when I have some actual free time (probably shortly after sea levels pass another 5 feet in 50 years time at this rate ;-) )

    The case contines :-)

    21 Apr 2005, 13:00

  42. Stuart Coles

    I admit I don't have the latest data yet,

    Why did you start a debate when you weren't in full posession of the facts to back up your side of the story?

    I agree with Max & Zhou by the way – current science suggests mankind is affecting the climate.

    21 Apr 2005, 13:09

  43. I was challenged on my views on Climate Change, so I promised to publish them. I stuck to my word. This is based on analysis I did a while ago, before Fu's work was published in 2004. As I repeatedly say, I will return to analyse this again when I have time!

    21 Apr 2005, 13:38

  44. Plagiarism is just good research, and Chris did go on to expand on the Doctor's points in later comments. If you read his first sentence he said "Publish some information" he never tried to pass off the whole article as his own work.

    I would for one like to thank him for promoting an interesting if heated discussion.

    21 Apr 2005, 17:15

  45. Mathew Mannion

    As much as I'm sure Chris did not want to take credit for someone else's work, I think it would have been right for him to provide all the credit that the original author deserves.

    21 Apr 2005, 17:40

  46. If solar activity variations are a small effect, then why has the past seen such dramatic climate shifts without man's input?

    Because these changes are not that dramatic. Local winter weather systems is not global climate change on anywhere approaching the same scale. Nor does individual anecdotes count as complete evidence. Taking the trend of temperature from all available sources, the data is indisputable.

    Take a look at the graph on this page.

    Climate change in the last 1000 years.

    Pre-late 19th century, solar activity does measure up well with climate changes. But towards the right end of the graph, it completely fails. For example, your source talks about the idea that solar activity was only this strong 400 years ago. But if we look at 400 years ago on the historical/ice core based temperature graph, we can see that the temperature at that time is nowhere near current levels. The prediction of cycles suggested Baliunas does not exist on that graph. Instead, we can see on the short term approximate 11 year cycles as suggested from sunspot activity, and then the trend become broken, being swamped by an unprecedented factor that is taking the temperature way up.

    This is exactly what is predicted by greenhouse-effect based climate change. Exactly, since if we program our models to start in 1900-odd, and then run forward based on assumptions of greenhouse gas emmissions, volcanic activity and solar activity, we can accurately recreate the recent climate. This is exactly what is not predicted by solar activity only models. Which means that the first is far more likely to be correct.

    21 Apr 2005, 17:54

  47. Plagiarism is just good research

    Then I hope you get chucked out of this university as soon as possible.

    21 Apr 2005, 18:21

  48. For reference, a graph of solar activity for the past 400 years.

    And in case we try to use El Nino as an excuse, remember that this occurs on a 2–7 hot-cold cycle – which is very small on the scales we are using.

    Compare with the temperature graph, and judge for yourself: is there any reason at all to attribute the recent changes in climate to solar effects?

    21 Apr 2005, 18:32

  49. Oops, wrong graph. Ignore that comment.

    21 Apr 2005, 18:37

  50. Sorry for the wrongly calibrated graph.

    Try this one

    Curiously enough, it is from an anti-global warming website.

    21 Apr 2005, 18:40

  51. Heated discussion…Cringes

    I wasn't saying that the anecdotes alone prove a point. But there are some relevant facts here. I have sourced them from this article. For your convenience, here's a summary (copy-pasted relevant sections from the article, written last year):

    Human-caused global warming advocates have based their propaganda campaign on several false premises:

    • The planet is already heating up. The historical record shows that global temperatures are not unusually warm today. Figure 1 shows the temperature of a large Atlantic Ocean region known as the Sargasso Sea during the past 3,000 years. This data, which is similar to many other studies of various world locations by means of experiment and of the historical record, shows a period of higher temperatures 1,000 years ago, and a period of lower temperatures 300 years ago.

    World climate was so benign in this earlier warm period that it has long been referred to as the "Medieval Climate Optimum." So, even when the Earth was much warmer than today, none of the predicted catastrophes of the supposed human-caused global warming occurred.

    During the past 300 years, the Earth has been recovering from a period of relatively low temperatures known as the "Little Ice Age" and is now back to approximately the 3,000-year average. But even during this period of recovery, the Earth (as already indicated) experienced a cooling trend from about 1940 to about 1975 sufficient to spark fears of catastrophic "global cooling." In truth, both during and before the industrial age, the temperature has always changed season to season and century to century.

    • The increase in temperature is being caused by the increase in atmospheric CO2. If this fallacy were true, then most of the increase in atmospheric CO2 would have occurred before most of the increase in temperature. Yet, as Figure 2 clearly shows, most of the temperature rise from the late 1800s to today (less than 1° C) had already occurred by 1940, before most of the increase in atmospheric CO2 had taken place. Since the cause cannot occur after the presumed effect, this means that the increase in CO2 could not have caused the temperature rise.


    21 Apr 2005, 18:40

  52. • The computer models reliably show that the Earth’s temperature will increase dramatically over the next century. The entire argument for this long-term forecast of catastrophic global warming is based on flawed computer projections produced and touted by United Nations operatives and their retainers and friends. In science, theory must be verified by experiment. These computer models have had a low level of reliability in the past, and there is no reason to expect that the same models will be any more accurate in the future.

    The UN computer models are flawed in several ways: The data are inaccurate; the adjustable parameters are too numerous; the uncertainties in the computed values are large and poorly defined; and, most importantly, key assumptions regarding the "science" of global warming do not conform to experimental observations.

    CO2, by itself, is not a significant greenhouse gas, and there is no scientific evidence that it can raise global temperatures significantly. However, the UN computer models assume not only that an increase in CO2 will cause a small increase in temperature, but that this small temperature increase will cause more evaporation from the oceans, and that the increase in water vapor (a highly significant greenhouse gas) will greatly multiply the effect of the CO2. This amplified effect is the basis of human-caused global warming claims. The problem with this is that the Earth has already demonstrated that it does not happen. The historical record shows that the Earth has, in the recent past, been much warmer than could ever be achieved by a CO2 greenhouse effect. Since water evaporation during those warm periods did not cause catastrophic global warming, there is no chance that CO2 could do so.

    But why doesn’t the "science" work as global warming alarmists theorize it should? And why can’t any CO2-induced global warming be detected? An important factor is the complexity of the atmosphere, which, experimental evidence shows, is a self-correcting chemical system. It follows the principle of LeChatelier, who discovered this self-correcting property of chemical systems about a century ago. (This principle is explained in most introductory chemistry texts.) In short, LeChatelier’s effect has reduced the consequences of CO2 warming to such a low level that they are below the limits of detection by modern techniques.

    21 Apr 2005, 18:41

  53. Oh come on, haven't we been over this before?

    1. The Sargasso sea region is one of the regions that climate change models predict will not be heating up as much. See this map. In fact climate change models predict that the Sargasso sea may well cool down thanks to the disruption of ocean currents caused by climate change. Seen in context, this is evidence for global warming.

    2. We have data from ice cores etc giving data from before the Medieval optimum. Using this data, we can put it all into context. See the graph link I posted previously. The Medieval optimum precisely corresponds to an uppage in the solar activity cycle. But in recent times, even though our current solar activity is just starting to reach comparable levels, we have climate change at a far greater rate, and a temperature that is greater than the Medieval optimum after an extended 400 years of solar activity.

    3. Just because their is greenhouse effects does not mean that it is the only effect. Earlier warming can be accounted for by solar activity – but only by combining the effects – as climate models do, can it be possible to explain that entire graph.

    4. Computer advances proceed by an exponential law. The fact of previous unrealibility is not proof of future effects. Computer models used by the UN and the IPCC have successfully predicted recent climate change and have also retro-modelled the last 50 years.

    5. The source makes multiple assertions – but does not back this up at all. There has been plenty of peer-reviewed papers. And in the end, however, they may dispute the assumptions, the results are accurate. It is absurd to suggest that this has been the result of some mysterious fluke.

    Le Chatier's effect is a matter of chemical equilibria. There is no evidence that this equilibria exists. And all equilibrias eventually break down.

    21 Apr 2005, 19:05

  54. To sum up, the article gives no references, is written on the opinion page of a right wing rag, and by a chemist and a medic. It has no scientific value.

    21 Apr 2005, 19:07

  55. Another graph . Everyone likes graphs.

    Pay special attention to graph c – all forcings.

    What the quoted authors did was intellectually dishonest. The IPCC models produced 3 graphs. One is based on standard weather effects. One is based on weather effects plus human effects. One is based on weather effects plus human effects plus all other effects – such as solar activity, and so on. They deliberately chose the incomplete model to discredit global warming, whilst ignoring the complete model which was right next to it which corresponded perfectly with observations.

    It seems that the obvious conclusion is that the authors you quoted and lying – and that they know that they are lying.

    21 Apr 2005, 19:18

  56. Apologies for posting links to authors who wished to bend the truth. That genuinely wasn't my intention. For all my faults, I don't play dirty in debates. It seems my peers leave something to be desired in this area…

    21 Apr 2005, 19:41

  57. Plagiarism is just good research, and Chris did go on to expand on the Doctor's points in later comments. If you read his first sentence he said "Publish some information" he never tried to pass off the whole article as his own work.

    By not attributing it, by not referencing it, by not using quotations, it is plagiarism. Plagiarism is not good research. Perhaps you might like to have a look here

    I would for one like to thank him for promoting an interesting if heated discussion.

    Sorry, it's not really that interesting. It's the same old discredited arguments that keep coming up. Climate change is happening. We are at least partly to blame. Deal with it.

    The really interesting discussion is what should we do about it?

    21 Apr 2005, 21:12

  58. Mr Hammond – firstly, I'd like to add that I don't share Matt's view that plagiarism is good research. I suspect you've missed his flippancy here but anyway… Secondly, if you think that discussing what we should do about it would make a more interesting topic of discussion, then by all means hijack this thread. My personal view has long been we should be moving towards a bio-fuel infrastructure for transport needs and electricity generation to be handled by nuclear power. May do a proper post on this but in the meantime this comment box will have to do. Any contributions welcome.

    21 Apr 2005, 22:26

  59. godfrey

    You dumb ass. Ice at the poles is pure water which is less dense than sea water – melting this is going to raise the sea levels.

    Also the ice is formed under pressure so its density is again higher than average ice as there is low levels of dissolved oxygen.

    And most of it is not floating, so your theory even if it were vaguely correct on the rest of it (which you're not) this would in itself be wrong .. and you seem to have left out the huge volumes of water in glaciers, and above the treelines in mountain ranges – there will also be some water from here!

    It doesn't surprise me that you are tory – uninformed people usually are – labour is the party of the truly intelliegent, not the intenionally blind!

    09 May 2005, 10:52

  60. Look, I will not take veiled attacks on my person from people here ok? If you want to contribute to a post like this, in which I am having a scientific debate, then you are most welcome. I take your points about my science being inaccurate on board (and I did mention anyway that some polar ice is not afloat, and that sea levels would inevitably rise anyway from the melting of ice on land. Please read posts properly. I particularly object to your last paragraph – I could easily come back with a jibe as to the unintelligence of Labour voters. If you think you're smarter than me, well bring it on punk.

    I would like to take this opportunity to inform all my readers that from now on, contributors who do not play fair by posting abusively will have the offending comments deleted. This especially goes for people (or should I say, the person) who post stupid comments under multiple ridiculous acronyms with no real content at all. Go back to the playground and come to university when you grow up.

    Edit: I apologise to Godfrey that he bore the brunt of some particularly negative thoughts coming from rogue posters here. However, I think you'll acknowledge that your tone was out of line. Please don't post like that again. Thank you.

    09 May 2005, 12:12

  61. It wasn't much of a scientific debate from what I could see, and I think I know what one looks like seeing as I'm an astrophysicist.

    09 May 2005, 14:14

  62. I just looked again and the thing about ice is fantastic. I think you should go back to GCSE physics with that entire paragraph, because it's frankly a complete joke.

    09 May 2005, 14:18

  63. Damian King… You're that books not bombs chap aren't you?

    If you wish to attack my credibility based on my qualifications, I suggest you tread carefully.

    09 May 2005, 14:26

  64. I am indeed. There was no attack on your qualifications there, simply an attack on the bad physics in your paragraph on ice, which is of GCSE level.

    09 May 2005, 15:01

  65. Well it's a GCSE level problem that most people don't seem to get! If you have ice floating in pure water, the physics holds. I admit that I forgot to compensate for the density difference of sea-water. Go conduct the experiment with pure water and ice if you don't believe what I've written.

    09 May 2005, 15:05

  66. Nathan Sircombe

    "pure water"

    …nothing in the ice-cap ocean system is pure – your tea cup exper. isn't really valid…

    Also – you seam a bit muddled over the differences between mass, weight volume and density. This makes your explaination almost uninteligable – you'd loose a bag load o' marks for exam answers like this.

    Anyway, theres a shed load of ice that isn't floating thats in the process of melting (glaciers anyone?) – the icecaps aren't the only consideration.

    Generally tho. your entire article is poorly researched toss. Current evedence and scientific opionion far outweight your little 'facts' (in inverted commas, 'cos they are certainly not facts – at best some of it is agressively disputed opinion, at worst its just plain wrong).

    Also, why the obssession with petrol & cars? is this some inverted moral issue? would you be in favour of fuel cell cars if Aston started making them?

    …actually, dont bother answering. I dont care.

    09 May 2005, 16:39

  67. Jammie Crascroche

    >Damian King… You're that books not bombs chap aren't you?

    I take it you're more a bombs, not books guy. huh?

    09 May 2005, 16:42

  68. Yep my tea-cup experiment isn't valid. I acknowledged this by stating that I failed to recognise this and thus invalidated my claim that it would be the same for sea-water! However, I was trying to desperately cling on to the fact that the principle works in the way I visualised it, and therefore attempting to defend what little scientific credibility I have left!

    I also pointed out that much of the ice (specifically, the 4 mile thick slab that covers Greenland) was land based. If you don't care then I won't bother answering, but I have plenty of thoughts on fuel cells vs. petrol (and on this at least I can claim I know what I'm talking about, being an engineer with a specialism in automotive technologies). If you change your mind, let me know.

    And as to the last comment – well I don't see at all the point about books vs bombs. Education policy and foreign policy are pretty seperate. The NUS has interests in education, I don't see why someone's stance on national foreign policy has any relevance at all to whether they should be elected into the SU. Not meant there as an attack on Damien, just my thoughts on his campaign message.

    09 May 2005, 17:40

  69. Nathan Sircombe

    Hows about changing the title of the article from "Global Warming: the facts" to "Global Warming?", or "Global Warming: some stuff i read on the net". I dunno.

    So, you're whole ice-based argument is pointless then isn't it? Since we now all agree that the 'physics' you so inelegantly put forward is of little relevance and theres plenty of ice set to melt that doesn't care about your tea-cup experiment.

    Lets have your take on fuel cells then, for what its worth. Promicing tech. or big white elephant?

    I think what I really what to know is what petrosexual is suppose to mean!

    P.S. I think you'll find Damien is spelled Damian, in this case. And i think someones stance on international issues is of great importance when it comes to electing them to union positions – it says an awful lot about what kind of person they are.

    10 May 2005, 11:05

  70. I wasn't going to bother correcting my name spelling, I'm used to people doing that, but yes it is Damian, made obvious by the way my name appears spelt like that in my own post.

    Education policy and foreign policy aren't linked in an abstract way, but they are linked in one important way, that is they both are paid for out of the same pot of money. £6 billion spent killing people in Iraq is £6 billion not spent on things like education (not to mention health, pensions etc.)

    10 May 2005, 11:37

  71. Have duly edited the entry. Apologies for mis-spelling your name Damian, for some reason I managed to get it right the first time and wrong the second :-S

    Fuel cells are, in many ways, a promising technology. However, they fundamentally require the energy stored in hydrogen to first be generated in the form of electricity. That opens a seperate electricity generation debate, but suffice to say I am one of many engineers who does not believe that "renewables" (hydro and wind) will make anything like a 100% contribution to future energy generation. So that leaves nuclear once fossil fuels run out, a fine power source in my opinion but highly unpopular and we're a long way from any significant nuclear power building program. We can come back to this if you want, but for now I'd like to leave it and move onto practical problems with fuel cells.

    Firstly, hydrogen is a very light gas, so if you want to store it in any great quantity you either need to use tanks at high pressure and very cold temperature (these tanks are bulky, heavy, and can pose extreme hazards when damaged in crashes) or alternatively, storing it in another medium, via nanoporous materials or via chemicals. At present, these technologies are in their infancy, and even when fully developed I am dubious as to their cost and weight effectiveness (weight is of course crucial to minimise in transport applications). Then we come to how to convert the hydrogen into power. It is possible to power an internal combustion engine with hydrogen, and this has possibilities. The fuel cell route has a number of problems – the proton exchange membrane (PEM) requires a platinum catalyst, which is rare (not enough platinum in the world to make enough cars) and unfeasably expensive. The electricity is then transmitted to electrical motors. All of this equipment adds up to a very heavy package of very limited performance and range when compared to the IC route.

    My problem is not that it's not technically possible, but it's not practically feasable or necessary. We already have very advanced, lightweight and powerful powertrain technology in the conventional IC engine. Fuel can be provided for by renewable energy crops (bio-diesel and ethanol). The figures for this do add up, and provide a carbon-neutral transport solution with increased work in the agricultural sector. It's key I think to examine alternatives and weigh up their problems against the fuel cell route before deciding that fuel cells are the tech of the future and getting all hyped.

    And as to a petrosexual – well you have heterosexuals, metrosexuals, retrosexuals… A petrosexual is a person with enthusiasm for all things car and engine like.

    It's not my intention to start a debate with Damian here on the Iraq war and financial justification, as it would open another can of worms and take this thread off-topic. I may come back to this at another point.

    10 May 2005, 12:21

  72. Trace Brazen

    I look forward to that… with baited breath

    10 May 2005, 14:46

  73. Miss X

    The Petro are a group of spirits which are easily annoyed. They are symbolized by a whip.

    11 May 2005, 13:39

  74. Trace Brazen

    so, does that mean that christopher wants to have sex with the petro?? I'd never heard of them before

    12 May 2005, 14:27

  75. Neither have I! Therefore I am unable to comment as to whether I wish to have sex with them.

    12 May 2005, 15:09

  76. Trace Brazen

    do you have any pictures of them then??

    Maybe then Chris can make his mind up if he likes them – sexwise

    12 May 2005, 15:12

  77. Miss X

    It is not funny to joke about sexual relations with members of the underworld.

    16 May 2005, 09:20

  78. Trace Brazen

    Who's joking?

    17 May 2005, 09:25

  79. Peter Cargill

    when looking at temperature changes over the last few hundred years it's very easy to separate out what's due to the sun, so this stuff here about solar variablility is irrelevant to this debate.

    01 Jun 2005, 12:14

  80. ponchogoat

    Since the time this thread started a number of things have occured, and the 'global warming' theory has become more embedded as the conventional wisdom, unfortunately I think. Now, after hurricane Katrina, and the approaching Rita, it is almost an accepted fact, at least by those of the leftmost part of the spectrum. I think it is most interesting however that most of the rebuttals posted here are generally uninformed knee-jerk reactions. It is becoming more and more obvious to objective and open minded people that scientifically based research like yours is being trumped by "politically correct" liberal groupthink. That's pretty pathetic.

    23 Sep 2005, 14:06

  81. sal

    Funny that all the Hurricane experts have said this years deluge of storms has nothing to do with "global warming", but is more a cyclic phenomemon.

    23 Sep 2005, 14:40

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