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« Empowering the Children | Main | Molecular Manufacturing and Proliferation »

November 17, 2005


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I'm surprised by your comment: "it's actually taking place; it's not just a theory." What is your definition of the word "theory" (if the word doesn't refer to something extremely well-supported)?

Mike Treder, CRN

I'm using 'theory' in the same context in which Carl Sagan used it when speaking of evolution in Cosmos. He said, "Evolution is not a theory; it is a fact."

Strictly speaking, of course, evolution, global warming, and even gravity are scientific theories. But backward-thinking apologists for creationism or big oil will use 'theory' as a pejorative, suggesting that there is no consensus on the topic. That's the argument I mean to debunk.


It's not just "suggesting that there is no consensu on the topic". There is No Consensus. There shouldn't be consensus.

I'm not for Big Oil and I'm anything but an apologist for creationism, but I do prefer the Skeptic Point of View. Even though it admits global warming exists, it doesn't use (the supposedly) disastrous effects of human meddling to justify economic stasis: where 'back to the future' has suddenly turned into a return to our agrarian and very bad past. I don't buy that.

I think it is essential to question anthropogenic influence. Not because it does not exist, but because it might be small. The latest evidence suggests that Climate is always Changing and that within this change there are cycles of warming and cooling. We might very well be living in one.

michael vassar

Michael please: Global warming is pretty well confirmed, but comparing it to evolution does evolution a massive indignity.
I'm very skeptical of specific numbers from a model like this. Did they count lives saved? In Kazakhstan, where I lived while in the Peace Corps people freezing to death is a regular occurance and every non-urban family uses a large fraction of their budget to buy coal for heat to make it through the winter, which leads to horriffic pollution in the towns in the winter. In communities where people burn dung and wood, heating is an even bigger problem. Maybe global warming is a big net harm, maybe it isn't. It certainly is redistributive from the tropics to the cold regions, which is unjust.
Regardless, aging kills hundreds of times more people. We don't need reasons to develop MNT quickly. We also don't need MNT if it means we can't handle it responsibly. Global warming is definitely not on the top ten list of problems likely to break down western civilization in the few decades before MNT, so it's not a legitimate CRN concern.
Beyond any reasonable doubt, the greatest global warming danger over the next three decades stems not from the fact that the extremely poor models we are using suggest in a worst case scenario that the misery of the world could be increased by a barely noticable degree, but from the fact that the models are SO bad that there is at least a non-negligable chance that they are wildly overoptimistic and the actual problem will be far worse than any credibile projection. Still, not much point planning based on such speculations, especially as they are totally out of our control and anyway only one of many potential mega-disasters.

Brian Wang

What has seemed more clear to me is that world climate seems to be warming (at least partially and increasingly from human causes) and that their would be effects that we desire to avoid or mitigate as a result. Energy sources that do not contribute to global warming should be accelerated. In particular ... nuclear power. Conservation, efficiency, solar, wind should also be developed as well as research and development of MNT. It is clearly possible for a country to get almost all of its electricity from nuclear (France) plus it can be used to replace natural gas and other sources for many other applications. The risks (meltdown, storage of waste, terrorism, proliferation are well known and researched) that have been feared since the 70's and 80s are greatly reduced in new designs.

Phillip Huggan

Global warming is a net gain? Is this position tenable? Man-years lost to decreased crop yields and increased mosquito-borne disease deaths will surely triumph decreased freezing deaths. Melted permafrost is not economically equivalent to prairies desertified, even if you could move all settlements a few hundred kilometers towards the poles. Not to mention increased aquifer erosion, more hurricanes, ecosystem degradation (unless insects are desired), massive population migrations, infrastructure costs to coastal cities... Biotechnology along with future nanotech water filtration and energy sources *should* keep us barely ahead of warming ravages until we can FAI or MNT our way out of danger. A one degree centigrade projected increase in temperatures ignores massive 10000 year methane stores trapped in tundra, which are currently thawing. It ignores industrialization projections.

It ignores the effects to Europe of freshwater dumped by melting Greenland glaciers into the Gulfstream; FIFA players better learn hockey. The conveyor belts of our oceans are where the real warming battle is being fought. Surface and atmospheric temperatures are only minor symptoms. Our south and north poles are currently flukely locked off from the rest of the world's oceans circulation. This continental geology coincides nicely with the appearance of our regular ice-age cycles (we are in the midst of a very rare thaw).
The difference between ice-age and now is 5 degrees. Earth never achieves a runaway greenhouse effect and always turns to ice in a cooling that takes no more than a few decades. Global Warming may very well be the trigger (or not). Our ocean circulatory flows are very fragile and we're screwing them without any research into the consequences doing so. Exploiting our children's generation and poor nations in the present, to achieve very minor quality-of-living increases is wrong.

I can just imagine an AGI turned on in a dystopic 2030 world:
Human>> at last!! Thank god, we're in big trouble here.
AGI>>> how can I help?
Human>> we've lost our port cities, malaria is rampant, we've no fresh water, clean air or food to eat; cannibalism is rampant in places. Wars and civil unrest...
AGI>>> HOLD ON. What the hell do you expect me to do about all this!?

Chris Phoenix, CRN

Humans: Here, solve all our problems on a daily basis.

AI: I want to die.

(Tip o' the hat to Asimov. I don't actually believe this, but I can't resist a classic SF reference.)


The moment when the unusually powerful hurricane ‘Katrina’ hit New Orleans in the summer of 2005, people insisted on being informed and on understanding the phenomenon. Let’s assume that winter temperatures turn suddenly to Ice Age conditions (not experienced for more than one hundred years), but no one talks about this because there is a war going on. That was the case during the winter of 1939/40, when, in several locations in Northern Europe, average temperatures were more degrees lower than during the previous century, and the WWII war machinery cooled down the earth for four decades.

If this investigation succeeds in proving that two major wars changed the course of the climate twice in the last century, it will also prove that shipping, fishing, off-shore drilling, and other ocean uses had constantly contributed to the global warming since the start of industrialization, more than 150 years ago. A new chapter on the climate change issue could be now opened, giving more attention to oceanic phenomena under the influence of the potential of the “1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea” . All research would lead to a better understanding and protection of the stability of our short-term weather and long-term global climate.

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