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View Diary: Keeping the grease in the ground: a challenge (57 comments)

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  •  Well, why don't you list the multiple causes? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose

    I haven't heard any credible ones, but I'm always interested in new theories.  IIRC, the last person with the same line on ignoring the cause was Sarah Palin, and I certainly hope you're nothing like her!

    Diary here, if you care -- shorter: an ounce of prevention is a lot cheaper, and kinder to humanity, than a pound of cure.

    Full disclosure: Planet Earth pays me, in sunsets, to Adopt A Senator for ACES

    by RLMiller on Thu Sep 24, 2009 at 08:04:32 AM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  I remain unconvinced (0+ / 0-)

      If I believed that efforts to curb emissions had a chance at success, I might be more receptive. Our atmosphere suffers the tragedy of the commons - it costs me as an indvidual real money to curb emissions, but I will see no benefit for that investment unless everyone else acts concordantly. Which plain will not happen.

      I would love to live in a world where everyone recognizes the problem, and takes steps to correct it. But I don't. While I do not oppose cap and trade legislation, I won't advocate for it, because I see it as a waste of time. It will not change the final outcome. I applaud efforts to find sources of energy that are non-carbon emitting, but for different reasons than you - namely, we are going to run out of the carbon emitting energy sources, and will need new ones. However, until we come up with an energy source more energy dense than fossil fuel, fossil fuel will continue to be burned. I see no way around this.

      In terms of alternate causes, I've heard plenty. I'm sure you have heard the same (sunspot activity, end of a mini-ice age, etc). I'm not suggesting any of them are correct. What I am suggesting is that in a system as complex as planetary weather, I find the suggestion for a single cause for anything laughable on its face. The whole butterfly effect and all.

      In summary, I advocate looking at the situation honestly, and putting efforts into where they will have the most impact - dealing with the aftermath.

      •  Ugh (6+ / 0-)

        In terms of alternate causes, I've heard plenty. I'm sure you have heard the same (sunspot activity, end of a mini-ice age, etc). I'm not suggesting any of them are correct. What I am suggesting is that in a system as complex as planetary weather, I find the suggestion for a single cause for anything laughable on its face.

        How about this: you leave the science to the scientists?  Crazy idea, huh?  Seriously, do you think there's anything you've thought of that hasn't been endlessly debated down to the tiniest minutia by the scientific community, who actually knows what the heck they're talking about?  What's even more ridiculous is that you assume that scientists have no concept of degrees of certainty.  

        "What I am suggesting is that in a system as complex as planetary weather, I find the suggestion for a single cause for anything laughable on its face. The whole butterfly effect and all."

        Ugh.  First off, it's climate.  You clearly don't know the difference between weather and climate, so let me explain it to you.  Climate is the signal.  Weather is the noise.  Weather is things like, "there's a cold front coming through" or "the jet stream is dipping down, making it cooler this summer".  Climate is things like, "we tend to get ten cold fronts a year" or "the jet stream dips down this far in the summer once every eight years".  

        Weather cannot be forecast far in advance.  Climate can.  I cannot tell you whether it'll snow in New York City on Christmas Day, but I can quite accurately tell you that you're far more likely to get snow there on Christmas Day than on the Fourth of July.

        Your remark about the "Butterfly Effect" shows that you've never actually read anything about chaos theory other than what pop culture tells you.  Chaotic dynamical systems have two primary modes of operation: convergent behavior and divergent behavior.  What you're thinking of only encompases divergent systems.  Convergent behavior is where the factors driving the noise tend to react in a less-than-linear matter to the noise they drive.  And you can have hybrid systems that get stuck in modes of operation (think Lorenz attractor)

        So, for example, if there's more than average rainfall on the surface of the Earth, the moister ground does encourage greater total evaporation, which encourages more rainfall.  Does that mean the world will keep receiving more and more rain until the atmosphere is solid with water?  Of course not.  The extra moisture in the ground doesn't add enough moisture to the air to make the amount of extra rain that falls keep increasing exponentially.  Hence, total rainfall converges toward global averages.  There's still noise in the pattern, but the chaos is convergent.

        There are concerns about divergent systems, however.  For example, the albedo feedback effect.  The more ice that melts in the arctic, the more sunlight hits dark water instead of reflective ice, meaning more warming, meaning more ice melt.  Still, even in these cases, the other convergent climate systems generally help slow the effect (for example, redistributing heat from the arctic -- and in some cases, even bringing minor opposite-sign feedback effects into play)

        Convergence and divergence are things that automatically show up in models -- you don't have to program them in -- and can be tested for.  The general way to see how well your models are working is to try them on the past.  You punch in data for a historical period and see how well they see the climate evolving through known data.  If it matches well, that's a point in favor of your models.  If it doesn't, your models have a weakness.  And it's not a simple yes/no result -- you can see exactly where your models are going off, and how much errors in different components of the modelling affect results in other components.

        There are huge strengths to using past data.  There's only one real weakness, and that hindcast accuracy does not guarantee forecast accuracy.  That is, to say, they assume that phenomena that worked in the past will continue to work into the future.  Physics-based models suffer from this less than statistical models, but it's always something you have to test for, and which gets factored into your confidence intervals.  You know, that degree of confidence that you erroneously believe isn't taken into account?

        Sorry to lash out at you, but you hear one person after another with no background in the field make the same ignorant statements, and it eventually gets to you.

        •  However, he does have one key point... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          rmabelis

          It seems more and more likely that we will not curb greenhouse emissions until we run out of fossil fuels.

          Therefore we need to step up research on geo-engineering to limit warming or deal with its effects.

        •  I'll leave the science to the scientists (0+ / 0-)

          If you leave the public policy to those of us with a grip on reality.

          By the way, I do computer modelling for a living. I know better than 90% of the people out there that most of your data is pulled completely out of your ass - even if you don't. I am, in fact, an expert in anal data extraction.

          But go ahead. Lecture me some more. Ass.

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