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Offline niko

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geolygy
« on: 07/11/2005 19:49:05 »
what do you think the main reason for global warming is¿ how do you think we can stop it¿
or better yet just slow it down. beacuse how it looks we can't stop it so we must first try to slow it i need help on this.[8D]


 

Offline Bass

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Re: geolygy
« Reply #1 on: 07/11/2005 20:03:37 »
The bigger question is- "How did you make those upside-down question marks?"  (maybe they're from Australia?)

If I knew the answer to your questions, I would be making reservations to Stokholm- drat! there are no Nobel prizes in Geology.

The Earth has been warming for the past 10,000 years or so, even without the help of humans.  I suspect that anthropogenic CO2 emissions are speeding up that process; yet the amount of change that we are causing is still a matter of debate (as are the non-anthropogenic factors).

How much we can slow the process is separate debate.  A few moderate volcanic eruptions spaced 5 to 10 years apart may do more to slow warming than anything humans can accomplish in the near future.



Prediction is difficult, especially the future.  -Niels Bohr
« Last Edit: 07/11/2005 20:04:16 by Bass »
 

Offline Simmer

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Re: geolygy
« Reply #2 on: 07/11/2005 21:45:56 »
As Bass says, still a matter of debate, although outright denial that human pollutants are a contributory factor is uncommon. I think it is likely that our use of fossil fuels has changed the composition of the atmosphere and that this in turn has significantly contributed to, and perhaps even caused, recent rapid global temperature changes.

One apparently obvious solution is to reduce our emissions of pollutants that contribute to global warming.  Possible methods include greater energy efficiency, alternative energy sources, cutting back on polluting activity and/or removing pollutants from the emissions.

Another possibility is to take direct action to cool the planet - although the only slightly plausible suggestion I've read proposed releasing neutral buoyancy reflective microspheres into the upper atmosphere to reflect sunlight back into space.

A third alternative is not to bother; go with the flow and hope that we or our decendants will find a way to live on a hotter planet.  This view is particularly popular in the UK, partly because of our miserable weather and partly becuase of our legacy infrastructure of lead drinking water pipes.

 

Offline niko

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Re: geolygy
« Reply #3 on: 08/11/2005 19:45:52 »
you push alt shift and the question mark symbol and if there is anything else you can do to help plz do so
 

another_someone

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Re: geolygy
« Reply #4 on: 10/11/2005 06:48:53 »
quote:
Originally posted by Simmer

A third alternative is not to bother; go with the flow and hope that we or our decendants will find a way to live on a hotter planet.  This view is particularly popular in the UK, partly because of our miserable weather and partly becuase of our legacy infrastructure of lead drinking water pipes.




You can add me to the list of those who would follow this line.

You have to realise that it is not only our miserable weather, but that we have a long history in these islands, and over the period of that history we have seen ice ages, and mini ice ages, and warm periods, all come and go, and have learned to survive them all.

Whether or not human activity has contributed to global warming, there can be no doubt that solar activity does fluctuate, as shown by variations in the number of sunspots, which had totally disappeared during  the mini ice age of the 17th century, and reappeared as the Earth started to warm up afterwards.  Even if we shut off all CO2 emissions overnight, we could not stop the changes in solar activity.

It must also be said that we far from adequately understand the natural cycles of CO2 emission and absorption.  There are periods in the Earth's history when CO2 levels have been far higher than anything we have today, or project into the near future; yet I don't believe we have the least understanding why it was so high – there were no humans around to blame for it.

Yes, we could try and do something to actively cool down the planet, but what's the odds that as soon as you try that you will find a secondary effect of your actions that caused more damage than the global warming you are trying to 'correct' (don't forget that those CFC's that were banned because they were thought to be harming the ozone layer were first introduced because people thought they were environmentally safer than the substances, such as ammonia and SO2, that they were replacing).

We could look at reducing CO2 emissions, but how do we go about doing it?  We could simply reduce our energy consumption, but as nice an idea as that sounds, who is willing to give up their life style to achieve that.  Far from reducing our energy consumption, I would imagine that the world will continue to increase its use of energy, whether it is through the increasing use of air-con, made the more necessary by global warming, or whether it be because of the increased industrialisation of China, India, and the third world countries.  It is all very well that we in the West may trumpet how well we manage our energy consumption as we shift all our production capacity out to China, and then blame the Chinese for their increased use of energy.  So called 'renewables' are simply never going to satisfy our energy requirements, and my own guess is that even if we could up the amount of energy we absorb from the environment through 'renewable' sources, we will create serious environmental problems (just look at all the problems as we started to scale up hydroelectric power production – even though this was a source that was once considered environmentally friendly).  The final option is an increased use of nuclear energy.  It may be that this will be forced upon us as we run out of oil, but it certainly has its own political problems, even if we are able to manage any environmental fallout.
 

Offline Simmer

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Re: geolygy
« Reply #5 on: 17/11/2005 20:36:18 »
As you probably noticed I wasn't being entirely serious when I suggested going with the flow as a viable option!  

That only works if you think global warming magically stops at mild winters and hose-pipe bans in July!  

That ain't necessarily so, ask the Venusians! :D
 

another_someone

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Re: geolygy
« Reply #6 on: 19/11/2005 06:44:40 »
quote:
Originally posted by Simmer

As you probably noticed I wasn't being entirely serious when I suggested going with the flow as a viable option!  

That only works if you think global warming magically stops at mild winters and hose-pipe bans in July!  

That ain't necessarily so, ask the Venusians! :D



http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/883398.stm
quote:

Carbon dioxide is the main gas caused by human activity that has been linked to global warming. Concentrations now are about 360 ppm (parts per million), but will continue to rise as emissions increase.


quote:

The researchers estimate that between about 60 and 52 million years ago, CO2 concentrations reached more than 2,000 ppm.
But from about 55 to 40 million years ago, there was "an erratic decline", which may have been caused by a reduction in CO2 emissions from ocean ridges and volcanoes, and by increased carbon burial.
Since about 24 million years ago, concentrations appear to have remained below 500 ppm and were more stable than before, although transient intervals of CO2 reduction may have occurred during periods of rapid cooling approximately 15 and 3 million years ago.



In other words, not only have there been significantly greater levels of CO2 in our atmosphere in the past, without our having become Venusian, but in fact, it may even be argued that the CO2 levels of the last 24 million years is anomalously low.
 

Offline Simmer

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Re: geolygy
« Reply #7 on: 19/11/2005 19:42:14 »
Certainly CO2 levels were much higher 55 million years ago.  Another feature of those times was the complete absence of humans! :)
 

another_someone

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Re: geolygy
« Reply #8 on: 20/11/2005 01:53:09 »
quote:
Originally posted by Simmer

Certainly CO2 levels were much higher 55 million years ago.  Another feature of those times was the complete absence of humans! :)



Which is ofcourse very different from saying that humans could not endure those conditions  - after all, we are now capable of surviving at the bottom of the sea, in Antarctica, is desert conditions, and  (at least for short periods of time) in outer space.

The major problem in most of these environments is obtaining adequate energy and food.  The environment of 55 million years ago, warm as it might have been, did not lack for potential energy or food sources that we might have tapped in to.

The point is that if the planet is capable, without any humans present, of creating CO2 levels 6 times as high as anything we have today, what evidence do we have that we have anywhere near the technical capability of containing CO2 levels within the narrow (and anomalously low) band that we have become accustomed to?

The ultimate question must still be whether it is easier for us to try and adjust and maintain the environment of the whole planet to our liking, to to create micro-environments (as we do within our own houses, and to a greater extent in more hostile environments) and simply maintain that micro-environment.  It still seems more sensible to me to look at achieving things on a micro scale than a global scale.

To argue that global warming is caused by humans, and thus must be controlled by humans is wrong.  The most that might be said is that global warming is aggravated by human activity, but then geological records show that the Earth is quite capable of creating environments far outside the boundaries even of anything we may have aggravated.  In fact, over the last 10,000 years (since humans started farming), humans have so modified the Environment that it is scarcely possible to say what the natural environment in the absence of humans might be, but what humans have yet singularly failed to do is to control (as distinct from merely having an involuntary influence upon) the global Environment (although they have successfully created numerous micro-environments).

At which point do we ask whether we might be trying to hard to emulate King Canute?
 

Offline Simmer

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Re: geolygy
« Reply #9 on: 20/11/2005 21:26:10 »
quote:
Originally posted by another_someone


Which is ofcourse very different from saying that humans could not endure those conditions  - after all, we are now capable of surviving at the bottom of the sea, in Antarctica, is desert conditions, and  (at least for short periods of time) in outer space.


Quite true we might be able to survive under the conditions of 55 million years ago, I was pointing out that we don't know that because we haven't tried.  I would not be too sanguine, nobody lives for long in the other environments you describe without support from a more hospitable places (with the possible exception of the damper deserts) and we know those much better than that long ago world.

quote:

The major problem in most of these environments is obtaining adequate energy and food.  The environment of 55 million years ago, warm as it might have been, did not lack for potential energy or food sources that we might have tapped in to.


Also true.  I wouldn't say that human survival under those conditions would be impossible but I think it would be more difficult than you would expect.  Also most probably we would not be facing those conditions with all our current skills and industrial base - climate change on that scale would lead to flooding, drought and starvation, and therefore probably war, civil unrest, mass migration and disease - all of which would reduce our capacity to respond to these changes successfully.  All very well putting a man on the moon but try doing it from a burning city with half your technicians dying of typhoid!

quote:
The point is that if the planet is capable, without any humans present, of creating CO2 levels 6 times as high as anything we have today, what evidence do we have that we have anywhere near the technical capability of containing CO2 levels within the narrow (and anomalously low) band that we have become accustomed to?


We haven't become accustomed to those conditions, they are the conditions in and for which we evolved.  Low CO2 isn't just a bad habit, it's a way of life! :)  

Fortunately it isn't necessary for us to lock up all that CO2, it has already been done for us, immobilised in limestone and fossil fuels.  All we have to do is refrain from burning all the fuel and acidifying the oceans with the waste gases.

quote:
At which point do we ask whether we might be trying to hard to emulate King Canute?


It may be that we can't do anything effective about this problem. However, trying risks slower economic growth, doing nothing risks the destruction of the global economy and perhaps far worse.  I think it is an easy choice.
 

another_someone

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Re: geolygy
« Reply #10 on: 21/11/2005 07:55:23 »
quote:
Originally posted by Simmer


Quite true we might be able to survive under the conditions of 55 million years ago, I was pointing out that we don't know that because we haven't tried.  I would not be too sanguine, nobody lives for long in the other environments you describe without support from a more hospitable places (with the possible exception of the damper deserts) and we know those much better than that long ago world.



Tomorrow is always an untried quantity.

In any event, tomorrow, and even many tomorrows, will still be a long way from 55 million years ago.

quote:

Also true.  I wouldn't say that human survival under those conditions would be impossible but I think it would be more difficult than you would expect.



I did not say adaptation would be easy, but I think we understand the technologies required a lot better than we understand the technologies required to control the total global temperature within a narrow range.  Even if we were able to remove all industrial CO2 production, it would not stop global warming.  The question is which is the greater technical risk?

quote:

  Also most probably we would not be facing those conditions with all our current skills and industrial base - climate change on that scale would lead to flooding, drought and starvation, and therefore probably war, civil unrest, mass migration and disease - all of which would reduce our capacity to respond to these changes successfully.  All very well putting a man on the moon but try doing it from a burning city with half your technicians dying of typhoid!



There will be changes, and whatever choice we take, adapting to tomorrow will be painful, it always has been (just ask the Vikings who were colonising Newfoundland, when the weather started to turn colder after the 11th century, and they gradually got starved out – nothing new there).

But, there is still the question, how much is it going to cost to make a puny effort to reduce the future temperature of the planet, and if we are going to spend those resources, would they not be better spent on deploying better understood technologies of offsetting the effects of global warming?  No choices we make are going to be zero cost, but if one has limited resources to spend on a problem, do you take the option with the high technical risk, or the one with the lower technical risk?

There will be wars, there are wars – nothing has changed.  The wars will be less to do with global warming than with shifting world power, something that is happening whether we have global warming or not (many of the wars that affect Europe are still indirectly a consequence of the collapse of the Ottoman empire – this includes the Balkans and the Middle East, nothing to do with climate in any way).

Infectious disease is not a consequence of heat, it is a consequence of proper measures to control disease being absent.  Malaria is a classic issue – everyone now thinks of malaria as a tropical disease, in fact malaria was common in places like East Anglia, and the Netherlands, until the marshlands were dried out  (which is what concerns me about people who are so eager to reintroduce wetlands into Northern Europe – do they understand the likely consequences for disease control?).

quote:

Fortunately it isn't necessary for us to lock up all that CO2, it has already been done for us, immobilised in limestone and fossil fuels.  All we have to do is refrain from burning all the fuel and acidifying the oceans with the waste gases.



Much CO2 is locked up, but very much more is constantly being replenished by volcanism.

The problem is that the natural atmosphere (in the absence of photosynthesis) is an absence of free oxygen (which in any case s a highly reactive gas, and will not survive long as it quickly combines to to form oxides, such as CO2), and that the atmosphere is constantly replenished with CO2 from volcanoes.  The absence of large amounts of CO2 is purely a product of the amount of photosynthesis that converts CO2 to O2 and organic compounds.  Before cyanobacteria  first evolved (3.5 billion years ago), there was no free oxygen in the atmosphere, but lots of CO2.

Mars has no photosynthesis, so its entire atmosphere is CO2.  The lack of volcanism on Mars means that CO2 lost into space is not easily replenished, so it has a very thin atmosphere.  Earth, being larger than Mars, will hold on to its atmosphere better, but it still requires regular replenishment.  Venus, I believe, does have volcanoes, and so retains a thick atmosphere, despite its small size.

The other problem is that global warming, even ignoring issues such as changes in the Sun's output, is affected by other gases than just CO2, both methane and water vapour have a greater impact, yet all the talk is only about how we contain our output of CO2.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/4419880.stm
quote:

Water vapour rather than carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is the main reason why Europe's climate is warming, according to a new study.



We just don't have anywhere near enough idea how to control all the various component inputs that alter global temperature.  We know about a very small part of it that we ourselves produce, and the rest is still totally outside of our control, and to the most part, outside our understanding.

quote:
Originally posted by Simmer
It may be that we can't do anything effective about this problem. However, trying risks slower economic growth, doing nothing risks the destruction of the global economy and perhaps far worse.  I think it is an easy choice.



The point is that if we slow down our economy, we actually reduce the amount of resource available to adjust to the new tomorrow.  Given that tomorrow will new new, and untested, we badly need all the resources we can muster to allow us to make the necessary adaptations, and squandering resources on futile attempts to hold back the inevitable will ultimately be counter-productive (a little like disarming in order to placate an aggressor who will ultimately attack you whether you are armed or not).

To look at some concrete examples:

If we find that elderly people are dying during the summer months of heat exhaustion, and you anticipate this getting worse in future years, do you try and help them install air conditioning, or do you insist that those who have air conditioning should switch them off in order to reduce CO2 emissions?

You say that you are happy to see a reduction in our economic growth, but would you also be willing to see a reduction in tax revenue that will go with that, and the subsequent reduction in public spending?  It may mean that in order to maintain our spending on health services, we should also be spending more on sea defences, but would a reduction our economic growth really be enough to mitigate against the need for extended sea defences, or just make the extended sea defences all the more unaffordable?
« Last Edit: 21/11/2005 11:18:08 by another_someone »
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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Re: geolygy
« Reply #11 on: 21/11/2005 13:51:02 »
quote:
Certainly CO2 levels were much higher 55 million years ago. Another feature of those times was the complete absence of humans!


Does this imply that maybe dinosaurs drove gas-guzzlers? :D
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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Re: geolygy
« Reply #12 on: 21/11/2005 14:08:21 »
No-one seems to have mentioned the possibility of mass migration from the worst-affected areas - e.g. sub-Saharan Africa - to more temperate localities.
I lived in Uganda for a while & the north of that country is subject to desertification (if that's the word) at an alarming rate. The indigenous people are gradually moving south as their original homeland can no longer support the growing of crops nor the grazing of livestock. The same is happening in northern Kenya although not yet to the same extent.
These people are now moving into areas occupied by other tribes (yes, tribalism is still very much a factor) and this is already causing quite some concern.
 

another_someone

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Re: geolygy
« Reply #13 on: 21/11/2005 15:38:23 »
quote:
Originally posted by DoctorBeaver

No-one seems to have mentioned the possibility of mass migration from the worst-affected areas - e.g. sub-Saharan Africa - to more temperate localities.
I lived in Uganda for a while & the north of that country is subject to desertification (if that's the word) at an alarming rate. The indigenous people are gradually moving south as their original homeland can no longer support the growing of crops nor the grazing of livestock. The same is happening in northern Kenya although not yet to the same extent.
These people are now moving into areas occupied by other tribes (yes, tribalism is still very much a factor) and this is already causing quite some concern.



Is this not already happening, are we not already seeing boat loads of Africans sinking in the Mediterranean as they try and cross the sea to Europe?

Internal migration is itself nothing new – which is why, while the Scots are complaining about depopulation, the British Government has demanded the building of half a million or so houses in the South-East of England by 2026.  With rising sea levels, the South-East of England may no longer continue to be the most desirable place to reside.

All of this is to do with economics.  Global warming may have an additional economic impact, but nothing new in principle, only a different bias on that which is already there.

If one looks at an extreme case, and sees ice melting across the Antarctic, then the question is whether there will be the political will to allow immigration onto the continent.  There could also be serious problems in terms of legal ownership of the continent.  In theory, the continent is divided between about 5 nations, but it is difficult to see how Britain and Norway could, at least in practical terms, continue to protect their claim to a share in the continent once it becomes of significant economic interest to others.
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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Re: geolygy
« Reply #14 on: 21/11/2005 16:21:53 »
quote:
Is this not already happening, are we not already seeing boat loads of Africans sinking in the Mediterranean as they try and cross the sea to Europe?


Sure, that's happening. But desertification is causing migration on a much larger scale. Whereas with economic migrants it tends to be mainly men who then send money home, in northern Uganda it is entire familes &, in many cases, whole villages that are on the move.
 

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Re: geolygy
« Reply #15 on: 21/11/2005 16:47:55 »
quote:
Originally posted by DoctorBeaver
Sure, that's happening. But desertification is causing migration on a much larger scale. Whereas with economic migrants it tends to be mainly men who then send money home, in northern Uganda it is entire familes &, in many cases, whole villages that are on the move.



In Africa, economic migrants may mostly be men; I believe in Asia, it is more commonly women.

I understand what you are saying about the migration of families in the face of desertification, but families are less likely to be moving across continents, and we are then more likely to be talking about internal migration.

As you point out, desertification is not new, and has been happening in North Africa since Roman times.  Nor is it at all sure that global warming will lead to greater desertification.  There are some who speculate that global warming will lead to increased rainfall, since it ought to lead to increased water evaporation (desertification is caused by either a lack of water, or by over-farming; I don't believe it is not caused by excess temperature alone).
« Last Edit: 21/11/2005 16:49:05 by another_someone »
 

Offline niko

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Re: geolygy
« Reply #16 on: 07/12/2005 19:30:41 »
do you think that the levels of co2 could have effected the dinosuars an any way¿
 

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Re: geolygy
« Reply #17 on: 07/12/2005 20:58:42 »
quote:
Originally posted by niko

do you think that the levels of co2 could have effected the dinosuars an any way¿



I don't think anyone knows the exact mechanics by which the mass extinction occurred.  To say that they were directly effected by CO2 would be wrong, insofar as they were not poisoned by CO2.  On the other hand, if the indirect question you are asking is whether they might have been effected by global warming brought on by increases in greenhouse gases, CO2 is only one of many greenhouse gases (amongst them, both water vapour and methane are at least as potent as CO2).

I have not heard any particularly strong case argued for a global warming event at that time, and have heard at least one hypothesis for global cooling.  I think the answer is, as far as I am aware, we don't know.
 

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Re: geolygy
« Reply #17 on: 07/12/2005 20:58:42 »

 

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