Saturday, April 30, 2005

Robots and global warming

I find myself fascinated by global warming, because as a society we seem to be paralyzed. Here is a yet another recent article on the topic: Robots 'confirm' global warming. From the article:This is the tenth or eleventh "smoking gun" that scientists have found. There's the fact that all the glaciers are melting. There's the fact that the arctic ice sheet is breaking up. There's the dying sea birds. And so on.

Yet, there are still a number of people who loudly proclaim it is all bunk. And clearly a majority of people in America and around the world believe that it is bunk, because we are doing nothing significant to solve the problem. As a planet we continue to burn millions of barrels of oil and millions of tons of coal every day, which only makes the problem worse.

What if we had a robot who could "know everything that humans have discovered?" This robot is somehow able to read everything that is known about climatic change, transportation, energy production and consumption, economics, etc. and understand it. Here are my questions: Having concrete, irrefutable answers to these simple questions would be great.

What if a robot gave the perfect answer. Would we listen? Or would big oil and other big companies profiting from the status quo crush the robot?
Just add executive power -- and you've got Klaatu! -- ;^) blzbob
Unfortunately, I don't think we (collectively) would listen. Unfortunately, 90% of people don't see the threat of global warming - it doesn't have the good video of other Man-made disasters.

It is slow, gradual, and generally hard to see.

So, no, I don't think we would listen to the robot.
Ask the GoogleBot in 2005

Ask the central positronic brain, V.I.K.I., (Virtual Interactive Kinetic Intelligence) in 2035
Ask ExxonMobil and their "Department of Scientific Truth." Big Oil is using Rebublican think tanks and spin meisters for a massive dis-information campaign. Read Some Like it Hot in the latest Mother Jones.

Warmest regards ...
Marshall . . . I love your writing, and check it out quite often. Here's my take on Global Warming . . . (I apologize for the long post, this is from my blog,
(snip on)
Taking a step back, thinking about global warming is funny. It's like belief in UFOs. One group believes that global warming is happening, based on some blurry photos and an analysis of the stuff that people are putting into the air. I might add, this is the same group (philosophically) that believed that we were headed to a new ice age based on some blurry photos and an analysis of the stuff that people are putting into the air (but the new ice age is so 1970's, darling).

The other group believes that it isn't. This is the same group that was (apparently) correct with their bold prediction in the 1970's that a new ice age was not immediately upon us.

We're short on facts, folks, so I'll stay out of this one for a while, and, as I said, that'll be something for another time. Stay tuned - I'll let you know in 2040 how this one comes out.

I'm not sure that there's a consensus about global warming (pro or con) in Alaska. I think that, for the most part, folks around here wouldn't have a problem with it. This is based on the scientific study of the one bumper sticker I saw that said, "Alaskans for Global Warming." I personally am worried about Global Averaging, where every temperature everywhere on the planet is the same, all the time. Help stamp out Global Averaging!

(snip off)

Marshall, global warming is a belief - there are not facts. The "hockey stick" global warming graph, clearly showing a spike in the latter 20th century, does NOT show the little ice age, or the time when Portland, ME would freeze over when George W(ashington) was president. Current science is almost non-existant on this subject. Global warming is a basic portion of a belief system, not a fact based on our buddy, science.

Is it happening? I really doubt it. Receeding glaciers here in Alaska - think about it - the glaciers are still there, if it was warming, they wouldn't be - it's about rainfall/snowfall patterns, which vary based on decade and even centuries. Think about the Anasazi. Where did they go? Decades long drought (NOT brought about by man) doomed them, not bad dentistry. The subject of climate when viewed through the microcosm of a human lifetime is nigh laughable. When you do the actual math about the amounts of carbon we're putting into the atmosphere, it becomes silly.

Sorry for the long reply. As I said, love your work, just trying to give some back. Just about ready to publish my own book (thanks for the powerpoint, by the way, it's inspirational) and would love feedback on that if you had the time. Thanks for keeping this blog up.
Uh - John, we have no real proof that the earth is round, either. Just a bunch of blurry photos, right? And if ExxonMobil spends $55 Million to argue that the earth is flat, then, by golly, who am I to argue with that? Right? Sure hope you don't own any beachfront property on the Outer Banks down here ...

Stay cool!
I've heard for a long time that ocean levels rising is a bit of a myth. Is there really that much ice on land to cause a rise in the world sea level? Floating ice doesn't count. Ice expands as when it freezes. That is why it floats. But the mass of ice supported above the water perfectly offsets the expanded ice below the water. A melting iceberg doesn't change the water level.

I have heard that desalination of the ocean could shut down the gulf stream. That might make northern Europe have harsher winters, but then again might not if the global temperature rises.

I suspect that if the gulf stream shut down it would result in larger and more frequent storms due to interactions between the colder northern air masses and hotter souther air masses.
In Montana's Glacier National Park area, where over 150+ glaciers once existed in the late 1800s, there exist now only 35, mostly at a small fraction of their first reported size. At the present rate, Glacier National Park will have no glaciers at all by the year 2030.

I'd say that FACT, along with the FACT that glaciers are in retreat all over the globe, point to the existence of global warming.

It seems that there really isn't a debate, that it's a consensus of SCIENTISTS who agree that global warming exists and is real vs. PR FLACKS and other industry apologists who sound like tobacco industry spokesmen in the 50s and 60s that claimed smoking was not harmful to your health.
Nah! Not Klaatu! Gort!!! ;^) - blzbob
I don't know if the Earth is warming or not. If it is, and if it is a result of burning fossil fuels what would you suggest we do instead? Nuclear is unacceptable to environmentalists. As are dams, windmills (bird kills), solar panels with their hazardous waste batteries. Pretty much anything we do will alter the environment in some way. If the Earth is warming due to human activities it seems any energy source we use will produce waste heat dumped into the environment. Even the manufacture of solar panels.

Blaming the energy companies is a simple minded reaction to the problem. If you are worried about global warming do something about it now. Stop buying gas and driving. Turn off your air conditioning. Grow your own food in your backyard. After all it takes fuel to get your food to the grocery store.

Any takers?
No debate? If that's the case, it's only because those with an ideology shut it down:

Dr Peiser is not the only academic to have had work turned down which criticises the findings of Dr Oreskes's study. Prof Dennis Bray, of the GKSS National Research Centre in Geesthacht, Germany, submitted results from an international study showing that fewer than one in 10 climate scientists believed that climate change is principally caused by human activity.

As with Dr Peiser's study, Science refused to publish his rebuttal. Prof Bray told The Telegraph: "They said it didn't fit with what they were intending to publish."

> Is there really that much
> ice on land to cause a rise
> in the world sea level?

If the polar ice caps melted, how much would the oceans rise?
Just checking in to see where this discussion has gone, and I noticed "anonymous" talking to himself ...

My friend, yes, indeed, I stopped buying gasoline, but I am commuting cheerfully every day. My car runs on Methylesther - aka biodiesel - which grows back, and which reduces the emissions of my vehicle by 50 - 80 percent. Our house has an attic fan, which reduces our use of the A/C by about 50 percent. Just a couple of simple adjustments that anyone could make.
As far as the indictment of the oil industry goes, they are lying to us. That's my problem with them. Whether or not I buy their products is my business, I agree. But they are lying about their products. Just like Big Tobacco, Big Food and Big Republican Government. Screw that!
Read Michael Crichton's "State of Fear" for some enlightening thoughts on global warming. Granted, the plot is fiction, but the research is supposed to be real.
I believe Dr. Bray and Peiser are in the employ of the equivalent of CATO here in the US, a think tank predicated on denying the existence of global warming. When a man's financial well being is dependent upon him not understanding the truth, it's a good possibillity that he will not acknowledge that truth.

So my claim about SCIENTISTS v. PR FLACKS still stands, as those voices sound just like the "scientists" the tobacco companies would trot out to pronounce how smoking is not harmful to your health.
It would be nice to have a god that told us what was true and what was not, but really if we had such a robot we wouldn't need to worry about global warming anyway.

I have never truly learned to appreciate how unreliable everything we think we know is, but I'm confident enough in my ignorance, and in the practical impossibility of changing it, to be agnostic on global warming, and cynical enough to think that most of the people from who we get the data don't really care if its true.
Scientists Confirm Earth's Energy Is Out Of Balance
Good evidence of glacial melting:

Swiss wrap glacier to slow ice melt
China: Danger of melting Everest glaciers
East Antarctica puts on weight
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My, 2cents...
Our planet was mostly covered in H2O for several hundred million years. Which means it was a warm tropical planet, no ice caps, no glaciers, no solid water except at very high altitudes. 65myo we get hit by a (most likely) a large asteroid, bang, ice age, ice caps, glaciers, dinosaurs die, etc... 10tyo they start to retreat... it took roughly 64.99 million years for the earth to fully recover from said asteroid. So, ~500-600 years ago, we have a large volcanic eruption which sinks us into a 'little ice age' which supposedly ended sometime in the 1850's. So, we start record keeping sometime around 1850, and low and behold, the earth is on a gradual warming trend due to the planet being natural tropical world wide, and being plunged into ice ages by other forces. I think global warming is a natural occurrence, and while we may be contributing to it, I do not believe we are the cause of it.
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