Global Cooling will kill us all!

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Re: Global Cooling will kill us all!

Post by ghostface » Thu Jan 03, 2013 10:45 am

Vicarious_Lee wrote:I guess people that don't blindly accept a highly politicized and emotionally charged topic sold by folks with a lot of profit and control at stake will have to pick another word to describe why they would be distrustful of a group trying to sell something.
Please stop. There's nothing "highly politicized and emotionally charged" about planetary energy balance unless someone deliberately injects drama into an otherwise calm discussion. We don't need that in this thread.

Fallacious appeals to motive and other distractions are likewise unhelpful.

Thanks.
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Re: Global Cooling will kill us all!

Post by Vicarious_Lee » Thu Jan 03, 2013 10:51 am

ghostface wrote:
Vicarious_Lee wrote:I guess people that don't blindly accept a highly politicized and emotionally charged topic sold by folks with a lot of profit and control at stake will have to pick another word to describe why they would be distrustful of a group trying to sell something.
Please stop. There's nothing "highly politicized and emotionally charged" about planetary energy balance unless someone deliberately injects drama into an otherwise calm discussion. We don't need that in this thread.

Fallacious appeals to motive and other distractions are likewise unhelpful.

Thanks.
The problem, Ghostface, is that there is whether you recognize it or not. I'm not appealing to or distracting from anything. I'm completely and 100% convinced of everything you've said. I've been following you and AndyGates' stuff about AGW and climate change for the last several years here on ZS.

You've said before that you have trouble understanding why people reject the science of AGW. Until you realize the tremendous social, political, and economic implications being promoted, bought, and sold around the topic, you never will.
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Re: Global Cooling will kill us all!

Post by ghostface » Thu Jan 03, 2013 11:12 am

Vicarious_Lee wrote:The problem, Ghostface, is that there is whether you recognize it or not.
Off topic is off topic. It's beyond the scope of appropriate discussion for this thread, on this board.
You've said before that you have trouble understanding why people reject the science of AGW.


I am sure I did say that at some point in the past, probably in frustration. I have become a lot more familiar with the processes of cultural cognition and motivated reasoning in the mean time, however, and I understand very well that the majority of people, across all political persuasions, don't process information in a rational way, but rather fit information into preexisting belief schema.
Until you realize the tremendous social, political, and economic implications being promoted, bought, and sold around the topic, you never will.
Anthropogenic climate change exists as a physical science issue, a policy issue, and a political topic. For the purposes of this forum, the science and its implications for disaster preparedness are on topic. The political bickering is not. My desire to nip discussion of the latter in the bud is not a denial of its existence, but a deliberate effort to keep this discussion from going off the rails.
The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices, to be found only in the minds of men. For the record, prejudices can kill and suspicion can destroy, and a thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all its own...

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Re: Global Cooling will kill us all!

Post by LowKey » Thu Jan 03, 2013 11:46 am

ghostface wrote: That we are responsible for the majority of the warming since ~1850 and basically all of the warming since ~1950 is a pretty robust finding across a number of studies (Lean and Rind, 2008; Huber and Knutti, 2012; Wigley and Santer, 2012).

Over the longer term (thousands of years), the high latitude Northern Hemisphere would be cooling in response to declining orbital forcing, though the global effect would be small. If we had not increased GHGs above preindustrial levels, we would- over the longer term- eventually begin a new glaciation onset, though it would likely have taken tens of thousands of years.
Is there a version of the last chart you posted that extends a few hundred or more years into the future?
Such a thing, if it exists, would obviously be based on assuptions drawn from past patterns which also leads me to ask:
When making projections on global climate change, which I now gather appears to occur over thousands if not tens and hundreds of thousands of years, are those projections based on data patterns from an equivelent time period or shorter spans of time (I may be phrasing this poorly :? )
In other words, are projections being based off of data collected over the shorter period of time that we have been recording such things (two hundred years maybe) and used to project over more than two hundred years?
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Re: Global Cooling will kill us all!

Post by Nutpantz » Thu Jan 03, 2013 11:56 am

williaty wrote:
Nutpantz wrote:Thankfully I'll be dead before it's a serious issue either way.
Unless you are in your 90s or have been diagnosed with a terminal illness, this is likely not true.
I meant
Before it has serious consequences for me.

And by serious I mean affects me in a manner other than the cost of produce at the store or how much Sun tan lotion or water I drink in summer.

Fact is no-one is going to do a thing about global warming until it's a noticeable threat, and by that time it will be to late.

But it's not going to wipe out the human race, or destroy the planet. Just the modern western way of life. This way of life will change for the better or worse as it always does.

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Re: Global Cooling will kill us all!

Post by Vicarious_Lee » Thu Jan 03, 2013 12:09 pm

ghostface wrote:I understand very well that the majority of people, across all political persuasions, don't process information in a rational way, but rather fit information into preexisting belief schema.
Not the most productive or respectful way to put something like that, and I think it's about the best way to belittle the point, but okay.
ghostface wrote:
Vicarious_Lee wrote:The problem, Ghostface, is that there is whether you recognize it or not.
Off topic is off topic. It's beyond the scope of appropriate discussion for this thread, on this board.
It may be beyond the scope of appropriate discussion for ZS, but it is not off topic. It's the topic, and that's a big part of the problem.
ghostface wrote:Anthropogenic climate change exists as a physical science issue, a policy issue, and a political topic. For the purposes of this forum, the science and its implications for disaster preparedness are on topic. The political bickering is not. My desire to nip discussion of the latter in the bud is not a denial of its existence, but a deliberate effort to keep this discussion from going off the rails.
Fair enough. The first thread went over 30 pages and is in The Graveyard because of that.
Nutpantz wrote:Fact is no-one is going to do a thing about global warming until it's a noticeable threat, and by that time it will be to late.
Yeah it's looking like that's the case.
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Re: Global Cooling will kill us all!

Post by ghostface » Thu Jan 03, 2013 1:45 pm

Didn't see this one initially.
Tater Raider wrote:As for evasion, yes and no. Humans cannot hold the climate stable over time, period.
Eh. It's a matter of degree. If we wanted to, we could hold the planetary energy balance within a certain range fairly easily through shortwave (albedo) and longwave (GHG) radiation management strategies, if there was agreement to do so. This wouldn't eliminate climatic variability, certainly, but it would prevent the kind of dramatic climatic change most people probably think of when they think "climate change".
To clarify my statement on climate forecasts not coming to pass, when I was knee-high to a grasshopper global cooling was the rage.
I hear this from time to time, and I usually have a hard time getting people to provide evidence for it, aside from unverifiable anecdotes and the odd piece of pop journalism (e.g. an old Newsweek article). This is a little strange because during the period within which this "rage" was supposed to be happening, the scientific literature was focused on warming.

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That's not to call you a liar, by any means. It's entirely possible for your personal experience that you witnessed some sort of cooling obsession. It is to say, however, that whatever you experienced was not representative of the findings of the scientific community.
It's going to change weather patterns, cause massive droughts in the grain belt, flood out deserts, etc. I've seen exactly none of this.
"Weather patterns" have certainly changed. We have seen changes in various meteorological regimes like temperature, precipitation, storm track, etc. I am not sure about the "cause massive droughts in the grain belt, flood out deserts" parts. What scientific organization claimed that these impacts were supposed to take place due to increased GHGs and have already manifested by now?
I've seen weather, but I've seen no short-term predictions made by climatologists actually happen that weren't just plain old weather.
Climatological changes are not the same as weather. The former are caused by changes in boundary conditions, the latter are initial value problems. Climate change projections are not short term weather forecasts. If you would like some examples of predicted and verified changes arising from our GHG emissions, I can list some.
If I ruffled your feathers a bit I'm sorry that it happened as that wasn't my intent.
Not at all.
I have a question for you on ice core samples. How year-specific can you get on those? Again, not trying to nit-pick, I'm trying to see what's what.
It depends on what you're looking for. As I mentioned in a different comment, for certain indices at least regionally, you can get down to the seasonal scale. The resolution varies dramatically based on what and where you're studying, though.
The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices, to be found only in the minds of men. For the record, prejudices can kill and suspicion can destroy, and a thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all its own...

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Re: Global Cooling will kill us all!

Post by ghostface » Thu Jan 03, 2013 2:02 pm

LowKey wrote:Is there a version of the last chart you posted that extends a few hundred or more years into the future?
In terms of what the system would be doing in the absence of our actions or inclusive?
Such a thing, if it exists, would obviously be based on assuptions drawn from past patterns


Well, no. Climate modeling isn't based on extrapolating past trends forward in time, it's based on the integration of numerical, physics-based equations. Certainly the past behavior of something like orbital variation led to the creation of equations describing the phenomenon, but modeling those processes into the future requires solving the equations forward in time, not just copying past behavior.
When making projections on global climate change, which I now gather appears to occur over thousands if not tens and hundreds of thousands of years
Climate change occurs over essentially every timescale- the issue is being able to separate it from variability internal to the system. That typically takes multidecadal or longer periods depending on what it is you're trying to assess. In the absence of climate change, the presence of ENSO can create the appearance of short term "trends" of warming or cooling, even though the long term average will be neutral. Choosing the appropriate timescale to assess a particular question is a fundamental necessity. Just like if you want to know the effect of diurnal temperature change in your backyard, you don't want annually averaged temperature from the entire US, you need to pick appropriate timescales and periods of data for the climate questions being asked.
are those projections based on data patterns from an equivelent time period or shorter spans of time (I may be phrasing this poorly :? )
In other words, are projections being based off of data collected over the shorter period of time that we have been recording such things (two hundred years maybe) and used to project over more than two hundred years?
I think I addressed this above. Also, to be clear, we don't just have information about the climate system from the last 200 years. We have information stretching back billions of years, depending on the question being asked (e.g. was the sun hotter or cooler than now; was liquid water present; etc.). The resolution and usefulness of that information is variable and certainly improves the closer to the modern period of global instrumental data coverage you get, of course. We don't necessarily know what the weather was like on a given Tuesday a thousand years ago, but we have a information about what solar variation, ice sheet extent, ocean circulation, precipitation, were doing on multidecadal timescales.
The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices, to be found only in the minds of men. For the record, prejudices can kill and suspicion can destroy, and a thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all its own...

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Re: Global Cooling will kill us all!

Post by Tater Raider » Thu Jan 03, 2013 4:22 pm

ghostface wrote:Climate change occurs over essentially every timescale- the issue is being able to separate it from variability internal to the system.
We can agree on this. Hey, that's something at least. :)
ghostface wrote:Didn't see this one initially.
Tater Raider wrote:As for evasion, yes and no. Humans cannot hold the climate stable over time, period.
Eh. It's a matter of degree.
Um, no. Every example I can find of man meddling with nature has ended badly with invasive species being the leading example.

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Re: Global Cooling will kill us all!

Post by dogbane » Thu Jan 03, 2013 4:30 pm

Tater Raider wrote:Every example I can find of man meddling with nature has ended badly with invasive species being the leading example.
I hope the unprecedented release of industrial greenhouse gases is one of your examples.
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Re: Global Cooling will kill us all!

Post by Tater Raider » Thu Jan 03, 2013 4:51 pm

dogbane wrote:
Tater Raider wrote:Every example I can find of man meddling with nature has ended badly with invasive species being the leading example.
I hope the unprecedented release of industrial greenhouse gases is one of your examples.
I said leading. I even added emphasis in this post.

Keep in mind I'm not disputing mankind has had an impact on both micro and macro climate. It may sound like I am but I'm not. Historically we've affected the climate ever since we built canals, began travelling long distances, farmed, and raised animals. I'm not even arguing that the industrial age has had a dramatic impact.

What I am disputing is that it is all on homo sapiens and when stuff pops up that looks like bad data or data made to fit a predictive model it does nothing to make me trust the science behind the whole mess, which is why I refuse to accept, at face value, what's popular. This is why I say I'm a skeptic (specifically skeptical about what is put out for public consumption and the science behind it in relation to global warming/climate change though by nature if someone tells me the sky is blue I glance out the window to check - hey, that's how I am).

I've also presented in the past that ultimately the whole thing is futile due to 2nd and 3rd world contries going through their own modernization programs resulting in even greator greenhouse emissions. That's opinion on the fact that their emissions are growing at an enormous rate and they don't appear to be taking the measures to protect the enviroment that the 1st world does, not a political statement.

I hope that clears up my perspective on the issue and why I keep going after things as they randomly pop into my head. That's how my head works, which is why I'm not a scientist myself - no discipline.

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Re: Global Cooling will kill us all!

Post by LowKey » Thu Jan 03, 2013 5:00 pm

ghostface wrote:
LowKey wrote:Is there a version of the last chart you posted that extends a few hundred or more years into the future?
In terms of what the system would be doing in the absence of our actions or inclusive?
Either or both.
Such a thing, if it exists, would obviously be based on assuptions drawn from past patterns


Well, no. Climate modeling isn't based on extrapolating past trends forward in time, it's based on the integration of numerical, physics-based equations. Certainly the past behavior of something like orbital variation led to the creation of equations describing the phenomenon, but modeling those processes into the future requires solving the equations forward in time, not just copying past behavior. [/quote]
My apologies for a poor wording.
Assuptions drawn from data of past periods on how differing factors individually and combined affected the overall past climate to help create the model used. Better? :D
When making projections on global climate change, which I now gather appears to occur over thousands if not tens and hundreds of thousands of years
Climate change occurs over essentially every timescale- the issue is being able to separate it from variability internal to the system. That typically takes multidecadal or longer periods depending on what it is you're trying to assess. In the absence of climate change, the presence of ENSO can create the appearance of short term "trends" of warming or cooling, even though the long term average will be neutral. Choosing the appropriate timescale to assess a particular question is a fundamental necessity. Just like if you want to know the effect of diurnal temperature change in your backyard, you don't want annually averaged temperature from the entire US, you need to pick appropriate timescales and periods of data for the climate questions being asked.[/quote]

Okay, as simply as I can put it:
1- Absent humanity's contribution to GHG, what would a chart showing global temperature change from the start of the last/present ice age to the start of the next one (or the period of highest global temperature after this ice ages end) in (let's say) 100 year increments look like? If global climate changes are cyclic, shouldn't we view (at least initially) the whole cycle before trying to isolate smaller portions of if?
1a- Add in humanity's GHG and same question as above.

2- Would the "max" temeprature of the planet at the "high point" of the cycle (from one ice age to another) be the same, lower, or higher without GHG caused by mankind? What would the temperature be both with and without our GHG? How about the low temperature at the bottom (coldest point) in the cycle?

I'd really like to be able to see the projections on the course of the whole cycle, not just the portion that I and those that live in the next hundred or so years will live to see, and compare what it looks like with our GHG emmisions and without.
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Re: Global Cooling will kill us all!

Post by Tater Raider » Thu Jan 03, 2013 6:10 pm

I heard it said that it will become runaway warming with the planet going into a feedback loop that makes the tempurature continue to rise and that in 100 years we won't recognize the planet for how vastly it has changed with all the mass extinctions that go along with it.

I've also heard it said that the melt-off will shut down the oceanic conveyor plunging us into another ice age. I'm not talking Day After Tomorrow, just it heats up and up and then cools off and keeps cooling until the population has relocated towards the equator with all the mass extinctions that go along with it.

The only thing both have in common is that we are causing mass extictions and, depending on your views (and I'm not knocking anyone's world view here), that we're killing the planet.

That's why I asked for a prediction on the next five years. I'm tired of everything from more severe hurricanes, the absense of hurricanes, more or fewer sever thunderstorms, flooding and drought (in the same area), earthquakes (yes, I've heard that one too), and wildfires being blamed on anthropogenic global warming. Give me facts, debunk my crazy theories, and hand me a short-term (climatically speaking) prediction that allows me to verify for myself what's happening because that's how I learn, by participating, doing hands-on for myself, discussing, becoming engaged, debating, and so on rather than accepting a popular viewpoint because, well, it's popular (see my definiton of skeptic in a prior post and if you don't like that definition take it up with Mirriam-Webster).

And if I look like an idiot doing so, well, I'm happy to entertain too (don't believe me that's me in the avatar - at least it isn't pink and yes, I've done that too). I mean it won't be the first time I've been stupid, or the last, but I always walk away having learned something.

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Re: Global Cooling will kill us all!

Post by Vicarious_Lee » Thu Jan 03, 2013 7:39 pm

Tater Raider wrote:I heard it said that it will become runaway warming with the planet going into a feedback loop that makes the tempurature continue to rise and that in 100 years we won't recognize the planet for how vastly it has changed with all the mass extinctions that go along with it.
I think it was AndyGates that put forth some evidence that this is likely, because of reduced ice sheets reflecting less heat, and melted permafrost releasing even more carbon into the atmosphere.

Tater Raider wrote:I've also heard it said that the melt-off will shut down the oceanic conveyor plunging us into another ice age. I'm not talking Day After Tomorrow, just it heats up and up and then cools off and keeps cooling until the population has relocated towards the equator with all the mass extinctions that go along with it.
Who said it, and what, if anything, do "they" back that up with? While I believe that Ghostface's delivery of this subject is arrogant and smarmy (sorry, man. real talk tho), and is an example of the larger issue as to why there's still so much argument, he's brought a shitload of real data, prediction, and interpretation to the table.

In the last AGW thread, before it got completely shitted up by denialists, it wasn't Ghostface and AndyGates that put it all together for me. It was the denialists that couldn't throw a punch to save their lives. Finally, when their weak sources and almost complete lack of data (none of it good) got refuted over and over again, some of them went into emotional meltdown mode until the thread got locked. THAT is what sealed it for me.
Tater Raider wrote:That's why I asked for a prediction on the next five years. I'm tired of everything from more severe hurricanes, the absense of hurricanes, more or fewer sever thunderstorms, flooding and drought (in the same area), earthquakes (yes, I've heard that one too), and wildfires being blamed on anthropogenic global warming. Give me facts, debunk my crazy theories, and hand me a short-term (climatically speaking) prediction
Dude that's the problem. I think 5 years is too short to predict any climate change, and that's not even what you're asking for. What you're asking for is a 5-year prediction in the changes in all the earth's weather patterns.

I haven't seen anything that precise. Not even close. I get that's a sticking point with you, and it is with me as well, but the only thing anyone can say for sure is "weather will be different in the long term." So, where we grow crops will likely be worse in most places but may be better in some others. Maybe the next "breadbasket" superpowers are Russia, Canada, and Greenland.

I think the problem isn't that we can't predict weather over a 5-year span, it's that we know, historically, that when the climate changes this fast, SHIT GETS FUCKED UP.
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Re: Global Cooling will kill us all!

Post by Tater Raider » Thu Jan 03, 2013 8:24 pm

Vicarious_Lee wrote:Dude that's the problem. I think 5 years is too short to predict any climate change, and that's not even what you're asking for. What you're asking for is a 5-year prediction in the changes in all the earth's weather patterns.
I wasn't the one who said, "unless you are terminally ill..." You know the average hospice stay is under 70 days and the only requirement is you have to be terminally ill. I went five years on my request for prediction based on that statement and I didn't expect anything earth shattering. A slight uptick on the global average tempurature maybe but not the kind of info that's been put out.

I've backed down when shown wrong too, in this very thread as well as elsewhere on this forum. Others have conceeded when I had a decent point (hey, even a stopped clock is right twice a day). I call that healthy discussion and, between you, me, and the rest of the world, trying to understand a little bit of this is like drinking from a fire hydrant. You might get a little bit but there's a whole lot there.

You eat an elephant one bite at a time. I'm chewing, alright? :D

sources on global cooling (Not Day After Tomorrow), and part of one of many issues I have with the whole mess: The conflicting views in the scientific community but talk of a scientific consensus have me absolutely befuddled and is why I want to be shown what's what and asked for predictions. I'd go for 50 years, still too short in all likelyhood, and I am not likely to see the end result to match it against the prediction (I'd be 92).

IMHO, that is the real problem when talking climate change.

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Re: Global Cooling will kill us all!

Post by williaty » Thu Jan 03, 2013 10:07 pm

Vicarious_Lee wrote:While I believe that Ghostface's delivery of this subject is arrogant and smarmy (sorry, man. real talk tho), and is an example of the larger issue as to why there's still so much argument, he's brought a shitload of real data, prediction, and interpretation to the table.
Why do you think he's being smarmy and arrogant? I am asking sincerely as I've been impressed at how well he's doing discussing this. I think this might be a cultural context problem, because coming from a hard science background, to me he appears to be being really respectful by taking the questions seriously, assuming the reader can understand the argument, and providing more data and analysis than the minimum required.

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Re: Global Cooling will kill us all!

Post by Vicarious_Lee » Thu Jan 03, 2013 10:35 pm

williaty wrote:
Vicarious_Lee wrote:While I believe that Ghostface's delivery of this subject is arrogant and smarmy (sorry, man. real talk tho), and is an example of the larger issue as to why there's still so much argument, he's brought a shitload of real data, prediction, and interpretation to the table.
Why do you think he's being smarmy and arrogant? I am asking sincerely as I've been impressed at how well he's doing discussing this. I think this might be a cultural context problem, because coming from a hard science background, to me he appears to be being really respectful by taking the questions seriously, assuming the reader can understand the argument, and providing more data and analysis than the minimum required.
He's been discussing it incredibly well and has hung in here for the life of the thread, but I think it's maybe an inability to understand where people who continue to be skeptical, and more importantly WHY they continue to be skeptical. Some of this comes from being a straight expert in something and simply not suffering fools. Trust me. I know that feel. However, the miscues of "Please stop" and "actual skeptics just agree with us" sort of thing is invalidating issues that are valid to whole groups of people (namely, anyone that makes a living not in climate science) trying to understand a topic that's so vast both in depth and in reach.

Another concession: He's an expert in the science behind climate change, and I do get that he wishes to completely eliminate the political, economic, and societal implications concerning this phenomenon at this time, but you can't.

I tried to explain why some still seemed mistrustful or suspicious, which was responded with "Yes, I now understand that most humans can't think rationally."

No. That's not it.

That said, I agree we should at least keep THIS thread to the straight science of it, and discuss prepping aspects and economic impacts in other threads. Don't think I don't appreciate (because he and a few others have put a LOT of work in this thread), but don't think I don't see that there's a disconnect between the suspicious and the skeptics and the people in "the industry", and the scientists of this thread don't seem to see why.
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Re: Global Cooling will kill us all!

Post by williaty » Thu Jan 03, 2013 11:24 pm

Vicarious_Lee wrote:Stuff
Actually, I moved my post to a PM. I have a lot to disagree with you about but it's not the point of the thread so we can have fun out of the spotlight.

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Re: Global Cooling will kill us all!

Post by Tater Raider » Fri Jan 04, 2013 4:33 am

Thing is I used to believe it was all man's fault, then I didn't. Now I think it's natural and man made both. This isn't in the past week either, it's been over my lifetime which has included growing up in a college enviroment, watching science programs, reading articles, and having these discussions that I've come to this conclusion. I'm fully willing to move on it too but I'm going to go ahead and keep thinking it through including how long it takes to scrub the greenhouse gasses from the atmosphere, prehistorical sampling methodology, how data is extrapolated, and how the computers model this stuff - all of which is, in detail, far over my head but in the overview I can deal with just fine. Except that I want the detail and the learning curve is steep as anything I've ever seen.

So that's where I'm coming from. If that's a problem I'll go ahead and leave this alone and continue on my merry way of doing what I do, ignoring the whole thing, and thinking for myself. I'd rather not because I'm loving the discussion aside from being told I was using the word skeptic incorrectly; I've demonstrated I have to my satisfaction. Yes, that includes mostly being proven wrong.

I'll give you another example that has nothing to do with this but demonstrates that I change the way I think: I used to think the level of prepping I advocate was nuts and now I think it only common sense.

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Re: Global Cooling will kill us all!

Post by ghostface » Fri Jan 04, 2013 9:56 am

Tater Raider wrote:I heard it said that it will become runaway warming with the planet going into a feedback loop that makes the tempurature continue to rise and that in 100 years we won't recognize the planet for how vastly it has changed with all the mass extinctions that go along with it.
There are positive and negative feedbacks in the climate system. An example of a positive feedback is ice-albedo. The warmer it gets, the more snow and ice melt, the less reflective the Earth is to sunlight, the more solar energy it absorbs, the warmer it gets, the more snow and ice melt... Another is water vapor. Positive feedback in this case merely means an amplification of the initial change. These positive feedbacks also result in more cooling when it cools ("positive" here doesn't mean warmer, it means "more"). There are also negative (i.e. dampening or opposing) feedbacks. The primary is the planck response, as we warm, we more efficiently radiate energy back to space cooling us down. Another significant one is lapse rate.

The net effect of all positive and negative feedbacks over a given interval can be thought of as the sensitivity of climate to a change in radiative forcing. Taking into consideration "fast" feedbacks like water vapor and sea ice, but not "slow" feedbacks like changes to vegetation and ice sheets, this "sensitivity" is sometimes referred to as the Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity. An increase in radiative forcing equivalent to doubling atmospheric CO2 levels would result in a no feedback response of about 1.2°C globally averaged warming. Our best estimates indicate that the Equilibrium Climate Sensitivity is higher than that (i.e. the net sign of feedbacks is positive) resulting in a warming of ~2-4°C per each doubling of CO2. Note that this is not the transient response (i.e. how much we warm in the short term, which will be smaller), nor it it the total response/Earth system sensitivity (how much we eventually warm in the very long term, which will be larger) of the climate system. But it's the response that policymakers tend to focus on for long term decision making.

Some people confuse the net sign of all feedbacks being positive with "runaway", in terms of getting more warming than initially triggered.

People use "runaway" in many different contexts. In the sense that we will become Venus, that's not something we really need to worry about. In the sense that there are "tipping points" in the climate system that will push us well beyond a given amount of warming that we cause on our own, there is some legitimate room for concern, but not something I think is worth the average person worrying about. These are kind of worst case scenario situations that are physically plausible but not particularly useful for forming policy response, other than knowing they're out there. An example would be warming so much that we destabilize methane clathrates in the ocean, resulting in an enormous methane "belch".

We are already in the midst of a significant biodiversity crisis. It has not risen to the level of the Big Five mass extinction events, but a number of anthropogenic stressors to biodiversity, including but not limited to climate change, are capable of pushing it into that territory (see, for example, Barnosky et al., 2011).
I've also heard it said that the melt-off will shut down the oceanic conveyor plunging us into another ice age. I'm not talking Day After Tomorrow, just it heats up and up and then cools off and keeps cooling until the population has relocated towards the equator with all the mass extinctions that go along with it.
This isn't really a concern. During past intervals where we had a great deal more ice than we do now, there was enough meltwater available to basically shutdown the AMOC and plunge the North Atlantic into a cold climate that resembled the glacial climate preceding the melt, but this isn't really possible now. In order to melt enough ice to really meaningfully stall out the AMOC, we would have to heat the planet so much that the ensuing regional cooling would still leave the North Atlantic warmer than it is now, even though it would be cooler than the rest of the globe. We just don't have that much ice to easily melt that quickly. Stalling out the AMOC would still probably wreak havoc on the North Atlantic in terms of precip and ag, but the chances of doing that this century are probably pretty small.

This idea was wildly overhyped by media outlets like the Discovery Channel far beyond the scientific basis for concern.
The only thing both have in common is that we are causing mass extictions and, depending on your views (and I'm not knocking anyone's world view here), that we're killing the planet.
What they have in common, from my perspective, is that they are well outside the scientific mainstream, and far less worth worrying about than the stuff that is.
That's why I asked for a prediction on the next five years.
As mentioned, five years is really not a meaningful period over which to expect to see or evaluate changes to the background climate.
I'm tired of everything from more severe hurricanes, the absense of hurricanes, more or fewer sever thunderstorms, flooding and drought (in the same area), earthquakes (yes, I've heard that one too), and wildfires being blamed on anthropogenic global warming.


Some of that is crappy media reporting, but some of it is a failure of the public to understand and appreciate nuance. There is nothing inherently contradictory about expecting there to be BOTH more severe tropical cyclones and fewer tropical cyclones. Increasing SSTs would, all things being equal, provide fuel for more intense TCs. However, warming will also increase wind shear which inhibits cyclogenesis. The net result of both of these effects stemming from warming could very well be fewer but stronger hurricanes. The effects of warming on tropical cyclogenesis are very much an area of active research. We're still figuring a lot out. But that's the picture that seems to be taking shape so far.

In terms of getting both more flooding and more drought, likewise, there's nothing inherently contradictory about that, and moreover it may be expected in some regions as the hydrological cycle intensifies.

There earthquake link is pretty straightforward from a conceptual standpoint (changing the amount of ice results in changes in crustal stress and thus EQ activity), although it's more of a curiosity from my standpoint than an impact that should be a central concern (which should be sea level rise/storm surge, precip and temp changes, etc.).
Give me facts, debunk my crazy theories
I'm happy to do my best to respond, but that sort of dynamic is really inefficient in terms of communicating what the scientific mainstream says about a topic. Rather than attempt to correct misconceptions (which can be and often are mutually contradictory in the first place), it's a great deal more efficient to learn the material correctly in the first place, starting from the basics. What is ideal is rarely what is realistic though, I understand.
and hand me a short-term (climatically speaking) prediction that allows me to verify for myself what's happening because that's how I learn
There are plenty of predictions that have been validated already. I am, again, happy to discuss them. But asking for short term predictions is ill posed for the same reason that it would be very difficult for me to convince you that a particular die was loaded based on a handful of tosses. Any short term predictions that I could make confidently would have a lot less to do with understanding anthropogenic climate change than they would understanding the sources of interannual variability in the climate system and general background climatological norms.
The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices, to be found only in the minds of men. For the record, prejudices can kill and suspicion can destroy, and a thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all its own...

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Re: Global Cooling will kill us all!

Post by Tater Raider » Fri Jan 04, 2013 11:59 am

Awesome response is awesome, thank you. I appreciate it. :)

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Re: Global Cooling will kill us all!

Post by Vicarious_Lee » Fri Jan 04, 2013 12:12 pm

People use "runaway" in many different contexts. In the sense that we will become Venus, that's not something we really need to worry about. In the sense that there are "tipping points" in the climate system that will push us well beyond a given amount of warming that we cause on our own, there is some legitimate room for concern, but not something I think is worth the average person worrying about. These are kind of worst case scenario situations that are physically plausible but not particularly useful for forming policy response, other than knowing they're out there. An example would be warming so much that we destabilize methane clathrates in the ocean, resulting in an enormous methane "belch".
So, I'm not to expect a certain point 50 years in the future where the ice caps melt, the permafrost melts and burps up all its carbon, and the global average temps goes up 7-9 degrees C and shit goes all The Road in like a decade?

Would it be too inflammatory to ask "what reasonable steps can be done that could be adhered to without much initial suffering, that the biggest carbon emitters would actually follow, that would slow or stabilize this trend over the next half century?"
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Re: Global Cooling will kill us all!

Post by ghostface » Fri Jan 04, 2013 12:38 pm

LowKey wrote:Either or both.


Okay, let me dig up some papers. I am going to be mostly without internet access from this evening until Sunday night, so it may be a while.
Assuptions drawn from data of past periods on how differing factors individually and combined affected the overall past climate to help create the model used. Better? :D


Sorry, I wasn't trying to be pedantic, but it makes a difference. Certainly, our understanding of different processes is based in no small part on on data taken from a relatively small slice of time (past few hundred years). But in order to overcome that, we supplement the observational data with proxy data and physical theory-based modeling. There's a very strong misconception that amounts to "the idea of global warming is based on people extrapolating a short term trend forward" and this is really, really wrong. So I try to correct it when I can.
Okay, as simply as I can put it:
1- Absent humanity's contribution to GHG, what would a chart showing global temperature change from the start of the last/present ice age to the start of the next one (or the period of highest global temperature after this ice ages end) in (let's say) 100 year increments look like? If global climate changes are cyclic, shouldn't we view (at least initially) the whole cycle before trying to isolate smaller portions of if?
1a- Add in humanity's GHG and same question as above.
I'm not sure if I'm understanding this correctly or not, but if I am, then what you're asking is basically:

In the absence of human activity, what would temperature look like over the next glaciation cycle? It would be a continuation of the orbitally-paced glaciation cycling seen in the ice core record, e.g.:

Image

Top is the past ~5 million years, deep ocean temperature proxy record from benthic d18O stacks. Bottom is the ice core record, which is what you want to focus on.

How have we changed that pattern? For one, we've greatly altered the amount of GHGs in the atmosphere:

Image

Here's where it gets complicated. Because we have the choice to take a number of different emissions paths, the future is not set in stone. If a global virus eliminated all humans tomorrow, GHG levels and the ensuing temperature change would look very, very different than if we choose to burn all the fossil fuels, and this would in turn be very, very different than if we choose to stabilize our emissions at a given level. So now we're into different scenarios.

If humans were wiped out tomorrow, our emissions would essentially fall to zero. The ocean and biosphere would slowly scrub our GHGs back down to preindustrial levels:

Image

The red line is if we froze CO2 at present levels (i.e. our emissions decrease to the point where they are balanced by uptake from carbon sinks). The blue and grey lines are different model responses to cutting CO2 emissions to zero (Matthews and Weaver, 2010).

If, on the other hand, we burn all of the fossil fuels, it would take millennia for this to happen:

Image

This is the amount of time it would take for the atmosphere to recover from two different pulses of carbon: top is business as usual and bottom is all of the fossil fuel (Archer, 2009).

We have raised CO2 levels well beyond what they've done naturally for the past 800,000 years, but we really haven't raised them by a huge amount yet. We're at ~400ppm. We could increase that to ~800ppm, and carbon cycle feedbacks could take us even higher. That's an enormous change.

Alternatively, we could reign in emissions and gradually level off.

Image

Red is an extreme high end scenario of fossil fuel use, blue is an emissions reductions pathway (Meinshausen et al., 2011).

The problem in terms of mass extinctions isn't that what we've done so far is so horrific, it's that we still can do so much more. During the Last Glacial Maximum (what many people refer to as the last Ice Age), globally averaged temps were only about 4-6°C colder (Schneider von Deimling et al., 2006; Annan and Hargreaves, 2012). But sea levels were hundreds of feet lower. A vast ice sheet stretched down to the upper Mid-Atlantic states, and was ~ miles thick in parts of Northern Canada. Vegetation, precipitation, and wildlife patterns were very different. A few degrees of globally-averaged temperature change is enormous.

The End-Permian mass extinction, the worst mass extinction event in the history of the planet, was precipitated by a greenhouse warming of ~8°C (Joachimski et al. 2012). (To be clear, there were likely other contributing factors, and we're not as vulnerable to a carbon pulse as the End Permian was due to our ocean carbonate buffer, but it's worth keeping in mind for perspective.)

And of course, the rate of change matters as much, if not more.
2- Would the "max" temeprature of the planet at the "high point" of the cycle (from one ice age to another) be the same, lower, or higher without GHG caused by mankind?


For this interglacial, we would be very slowly cooling in the absence of humans, so lower. But there have been other interglacials in the past that were a little warmer than present (by about 1°C or so, see above).
What would the temperature be both with and without our GHG?
I think I've answered this?
How about the low temperature at the bottom (coldest point) in the cycle?
Our best estimate of the cooling at the Last Glacial Maximum is ~4-6°C colder globally-averaged than preindustrial temperatures. So in that neighborhood. Some glacial maxima would have been a little colder, some warmer.
The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices, to be found only in the minds of men. For the record, prejudices can kill and suspicion can destroy, and a thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all its own...

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Re: Global Cooling will kill us all!

Post by ghostface » Fri Jan 04, 2013 1:36 pm

Vicarious_Lee wrote:So, I'm not to expect a certain point 50 years in the future where the ice caps melt
"Ice caps" is misused a lot. There are three main parts to the cryosphere of interest: land ice, sea ice, and ice sheets. For land ice, think alpine glaciers and really any ice that's not in the ocean or in the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets. For sea ice, think of the stuff that sits on water around the North pole and around Antarctica. For ice sheets, I mean the Greenland Ice Sheet (GrIS), the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS), and the East Antarctic Ice Sheet (EAIS).

When people say "ice caps" they're usually referring to either sea ice or the ice sheets, as both occur near the poles (hence "caps"). Both sea ice and ice sheets are important, but for different reasons.

Arctic sea ice sits in the ocean, and it's typically said that therefore it plays no role in sea level rise (think ice cubes melting in a glass of water). This isn't technically true, as there are density differences that actually result in a small amount of sea level rise, but it's tiny enough to ignore for the most part (Jenkins and Holland, 2007). Arctic sea ice does play an important role through the ice-albedo feedback I mentioned earlier. Sea ice is some of the most reflective material on Earth, and open ocean is some of the least. Losing sea ice for open ocean increases the amount of energy absorbed by the climate and leads to more warming. Arctic sea ice also plays a large and not yet fully understood role in modulating high latitude Northern Hemisphere weather patterns, and losing Arctic sea ice seems to be increasing some types of extreme weather (particularly in the colder months). For these reasons, and the necessity of sea ice to a lot of Arctic ecosystems (from polar bears to certain plankton), Arctic sea ice is watched very carefully. We will see ice free summers (but not a complete loss during the entire year) within a few decades at the present rate of loss. Sea ice in Antarctica is largely buffered from warming due to cooling from the Antarctic Circumpolar Current and the Southern Annual Mode. Eventually, we expect it too to melt, but there are mitigating forces preventing that from happening that aren't yet fully understood. Antarctic sea ice plays a much lesser role in the overall ice-albedo feedback and is less environmentally significant, so it doesn't get that much attention.

The ice sheets are a huge source of concern. We know from previous glaciation cycling and periods like the mid-Pliocene that ice sheets are relatively sensitive to even small changes in temperature/GHGs. The problem is that we don't know how rapidly they can decay. If they melted linearly, it would take millennia to see large amounts of sea level rise. We know from paleoclimatic data, however, that they are capable of producing meter per century sea level rise, which is enormous. The GrIS and the WAIS are already losing mass (i.e. melting is exceeding accumulation), while the EAIS is possibly gaining a little mass due to increased precipitation exceeding melt (Shephard et al., 2012).

To me, one of the most worrisome aspects of the policy side of this issue is that we're trying to compromise between doing what is easy with doing what is necessary, and we're currently aiming for a total increase in CO2 about double preindustrial levels. In the short term, this probably isn't a terrible target in terms of minimizing impacts while making it easy to transition off of fossil fuels. But it is completely inappropriate for maintaining ice sheets and sea level at anything remotely like current values. In other words, we're intentionally aiming for a landing that would drown cities like Miami over the long term.

So, in terms of "ice caps melting": Arctic sea ice, already melting. GrIS and WAIS, melting. EAIS, may be already and will melt as we warm. Antarctic sea ice, not melting (actually, it's melting in many regions and seasons but actually growing in others) but will down the line.
the permafrost melts and burps up all its carbon
Permafrost is already melting and releasing carbon. However, the amount of carbon is small relative to the decisions we make about our energy sources in the future. The analogy I'm fond of is that we're in car, heading for a brick wall. Unchecked GHGs from our energy use is like heading into the wall at 60 mph. Carbon cycle feedbacks like permafrost loss are like an extra 20 mph. Sure, they're scary, and you don't want them to happen, but really, you need to worry about the initial 60 mph before you start worrying about the extra 20.
and the global average temps goes up 7-9 degrees C and shit goes all The Road in like a decade?
If we don't stabilize emissions, it would probably take something like 200-300 years to get that amount of warming even under aggressive GHG emissions. We are more likely looking at 1-6°C warming by the end of century depending on how much and how fast we increase GHGs (and exactly how sensitive the climate turns out to be). 4°C by end of century if we emit very aggressively is probably a realistic upper value barring surprises like a dieback of the Amazon or clathrate release. I can't see 7-9°C by end of century in any plausible scenario.

However, remember the long term (Earth system) sensitivity to a given amount of warming is greater than the transient and equilibrium warming values, so it would be entirely possible to lock in an eventual 7-9°C warming for the long term due to decisions we make over the next several decades. And 7-9°C in a few centuries would still be an order of magnitude or more faster than the warming that kicked off the End Permian mass extinction.
Would it be too inflammatory to ask "what reasonable steps can be done that could be adhered to without much initial suffering, that the biggest carbon emitters would actually follow, that would slow or stabilize this trend over the next half century?"
In my opinion, there needs to be an international binding agreement, at least among the G8+5 nations for there to be any hope of stabilizing emissions at lower levels. How emissions get reduced is really a matter of political and economic willpower than it is a science or engineering question. I can try to be more specific without violating the no politics rule, but that question is really outside of the realm of science per se.
The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices, to be found only in the minds of men. For the record, prejudices can kill and suspicion can destroy, and a thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all its own...

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