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Seeding the Stratosphere:

I am generally skeptical of geo-engineering proposals to counteract global warming. But I agree with the Carnegie Institution's Ken Caldeira that research into such proposals is worthwhile, just in case. As he frames the question: "Which is the more environmentally sensitive thing to do: let the Greenland ice sheet collapse and polar bears become extinct, or throw a little sulfate in the stratosphere? The second option is at least worth looking into."

NOTE: Post edited to correct Caldeira's affiliation.

PersonFromPorlock:

"Which is the more environmentally sensitive thing to do: let the Greenland ice sheet collapse and polar bears become extinct, or throw a little sulfate in the stratosphere?"

Not a problem: we just denounce both as "unacceptable" and continue to use 'the crisis' to justify running peoples' lives, rather more profitably for the runners than the runnees.
10.24.2007 10:26am
Oren (mail):
Yeah, I highly doubt the conspirators at The Weather Channel would allow you to solve global warming - it would ruin their ratings!
10.24.2007 10:40am
loki13 (mail):
In answer to the article, Law of Unintended Consequences?

(ps- for those of you keeping track at home, and this seems to mainly apply to posters on this board...
1. Denial. (there is no global warming)
2. Avoidance (stage 1) (there is global warming, but it's not anthropogenic)
3. Avoidance (stage 2) (there is global warming, and it's anthropogenic, but it might be good for us!)
4. Avoidance (stage 3) (there is global warming, and it's anthropogenic, and it looks like it could be bad, but a cost-benefit analysis shows that any steps we take to do anything would be more expensive that they're worth, so feh!)
5. Avoidance (stage 4) (there is global warming, and it's anthropogenic, and it looks like it could be bad and expensive, so let's start planning on re-terraforming the earth... and not worry until then)

Two questions:
a. Is there a step past avoidance?
b. 1-5 have happened in the last 10 years. Notice a trend?
10.24.2007 10:44am
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
In answer to the article, Law of Unintended Consequences?

(ps- for those of you keeping track at home, and this seems to mainly apply to posters on this board...
1. Denial. (there is no global warming)
2. Avoidance (stage 1) (there is global warming, but it's not anthropogenic)
3. Avoidance (stage 2) (there is global warming, and it's anthropogenic, but it might be good for us!)
4. Avoidance (stage 3) (there is global warming, and it's anthropogenic, and it looks like it could be bad, but a cost-benefit analysis shows that any steps we take to do anything would be more expensive that they're worth, so feh!)
5. Avoidance (stage 4) (there is global warming, and it's anthropogenic, and it looks like it could be bad and expensive, so let's start planning on re-terraforming the earth... and not worry until then)
Great way to argue - just belittle your opponents as stupid. Never mind that 3-5 have not been debated yet, except maybe on some lunatic fringe, and have never been seriously peer reviewed. You seem ready to spend trillions of dollars of everyone else's money to solve possibly a non-problem, or if it is a problem, using likely one of the most uneconomic solutions that can be envisioned to solve it.
10.24.2007 10:55am
Chris Bell (mail):
SO4 + H2O = Acid Rain

We spend enormous amounts of money taking sulfates out of coal and gasoline to prevent this. Now people want to pump sulfates into the atmosphere?

I know that higher atmosphere reactions are often different. That's why CFC's are perfectly safe on the ground, but eat a hole in the ozone once they float high enough. But still. Let's study real hard before we try this one.
10.24.2007 10:57am
Jake (Guest):
Are we more likely to see unintended consequences from (a) seeding the upper atmosphere with sulfate or (b) dramatically reducing the carbon dioxide output of the whole human race?
10.24.2007 10:57am
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
Oh, and the polar bear populations are not plummeting. Most of their populations seem stable if not increasing. While they may arguably need to swim further for food with global warming, their major source of food seem to do better, and the extra food seem to counteract the longer swims.
10.24.2007 11:01am
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
Chris has a much more valid point than loki13 above:
SO4 + H2O = Acid Rain
10.24.2007 11:03am
AgI:
Aren't most of the modern cloud-seeding experiments (e.g., North Dakota, Iowa, West Texas, Israel, China) using silver iodide rather than a sulfite?
10.24.2007 11:15am
Positroll (mail):
In case cloudseeding is necessary, why not go with saltwater? As far as I can see (though I am no expert in any way), the risks involved are way smaller (and it can be stopped at anytime):
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/6354759.stm
10.24.2007 11:33am
Chris Bell (mail):
"Cloudseeding" is not what the article is proposing. The article is proposing putting millions of tiny mirrors (reflective sulfate particles) in the atmosphere.
10.24.2007 11:36am
Temp Guest (mail):
Assuming that this seeding would work and we could cool the Earth's surface temperature by some amount, what will we do if it is discovered that the purported increases in Earth's surface temperature are a temporary phenomenon and unrelated to human activity. More particularly, what will we do if we discover: (1) that the purported upward tic in Earth's surface temperature was a temporary anomaly due to, e.g. variations in solar radiation, (2) that the current 25,000 year warming trend is ending, and (3) that we are entering a new Ice Age. This scenario is actually more in line with recent -- past 100,000 years -- geological history, which has mostly been Ice Age, and planetary observations, which show the surface temperatures of Mars and Venus have recently risen at about the same rate as Earth's. Global cooling would be a LOT harder on human civilization than even the wildest-eyed projections of the AlGorites. (Example: imagine the impact on the economy if all of North America down to about the Mason-Dixon line became covered by a mile-thick blanket of ice in the space of a century or two!) It would also be a lot harder to counteract, since decreasing Earth's albedo would be extremely difficult and all human energy production pales by comparison with the amount of energy injected into the terrestrial system via solar radiation.
10.24.2007 11:43am
Eli Rabett (www):
A major problem with most geoengineering proposals is that once you buy in you are condemned to increase your intervention forever. Injected sulfates into the top of the troposphere/bottom of the stratosphere would have a relatively short lifetime of a couple of years (we know this, because that is what explosive volcanoes do and why the earth cools when one goes off). If greenhouse gas forcing increases then you not only have to keep on injecting the sulfates but increase the amount injected, etc.

CO2 sequestration has at least the promise of being a one time cost. It also bypasses the issue of changing the ocean acidity.
10.24.2007 11:47am
Eli Rabett (www):
Oh yeah, this one has been around for a long time, and was raised last year by Paul Crutzen
10.24.2007 11:48am
rarango (mail):
Don't know enough about the chemistry to even have an opinion, so will defer to those who are much more informed.

I do, however, join Bruce Hayden's response to Loki13's typoplogy. As I understand it, no one is arguing that GW is all AGW; as I understand it, the AGW component in some models is between 25 and 40%; there is also a solar component on the order of 15% which, presumably, would be much more difficult to control. And I have seen very few well-researched and supported cost benefit proposals--but if someone could point me to those (and I have read the Committee for Climate changes' report--its short on cost benefit analysis and is a litany of costs) please do so.
10.24.2007 12:15pm
Adam J:
Bruce Hayden- I'm pretty sure #3 has been debated alot. I'll give you #4- but I suspect this is because trying to predict the full consequences of either choice at this point would be little more then speculation. And #5 can't really be a legitimate argument can it?
10.24.2007 12:34pm
Brad Ford (mail):
What if Polar Bears should be extinct? All men, including scientists, make mistakes. Should we trust our climate to human error?
10.24.2007 12:36pm
Daniel J. Wojcik (mail) (www):
SO4 + H2O = Acid Rain

I'm pretty sure that's not it.

Classic Acid Rain (iirc) went

SO2 + O2 to get SO3 and a stray Oxygen, then
SO3 + H2O to get the H2SO4 (sulfuric acid)

I think Sulfate itself (SO4) is pretty stable.

Sound right to anyone?

Dan
10.24.2007 12:44pm
FYI:
Ken Caldeira is at the Carnegie Institution of Washington, not CMU.
10.24.2007 12:45pm
DiverDan (mail):
Given the extremely huge volumes of sulfates that would be needed to make a meaningful impact, and the short-term effectiveness of such an approach, it seems to me, as a scientifically literate layperson without all of the facts, that this approach does not seem terribly cost effective, and with the side effect of acid rain, probably nore trouble than it is worth. The volcanic eruptions of Etna, Mt. Tambora, and Krakatoa in the 18th &19th Centuries each put millions of tons of Sulfur compounds into the stratosphere, and each resulted in significant, though relatively short-lived, cooling. As an example, Mount Tambora's 1815 eruption has been estimated to have put between 10 and 120 megatons (i.e., millions of tons) of SO2 into the stratosphere, and its climactic effect was to reduce the average temperature in the Northern Hemisphere by only about 0.9 degrees C - while 1816 was known in New England as "the year without a summer", by 1825, the sulfur had largely precipitated out of the atmosphere (as acid rain) and the climate returned to normal.

Why can't someone just lay out all of the possible approaches to the perceived problem of global warming and compare and contrast them as to feasibility, economic impact, and cost-benefit analysis. A short list of approaches would seem to include:

(1) Reducing output of CO2 by human activity, by: (a) replacing fossil fuel use with solar, wind, hydro (including electric production by tide and ocean currents), geothermic, nuclear and other energy sources; (b)reducing gas use by autos by encouraging (requiring?) more reliance on mass transit, encouraging (requiring?) higher fuel efficiency - either smaller cars, more frequent inspections to reduce gas wasting conditions like low tire pressure or poor engine tuning, or more efficient internal combustion engines (I believe that I read that a recently redesigned rotary engine is significantly more efficient than the piston design); and(c) increasing efficiency in the use of energy, such as requiring more energy efficient homes and appliances.

(2) Increasing the ability of the Earth to absorb CO2, such as by seeding the Oceans with appropriate nutrients to allow higher photoplankton growth.

(3) Increasing the Earth's albedo, by, among other things, requiring the use of high albedo roofing materials on all new construction, even requiring the replacement of older, low albedo roofs with higher albedo materials. This could also include items like paving materials - very light colored concrete or white gravel has a much higher albedo than tar or asphalt roads and parking lots.

(4) Focusing on other greenhouse gases - I believe that methane is a much more effective greenhouse gas than CO2, and some sources of high methane production, such as factory livestock production and sanitary landfills, are susceptible to sequestration; we could even "recycle" the methane by burning it in lieu of fossil fuels.
10.24.2007 12:51pm
rarango (mail):
DiverDan: your suggestions make sense to this layman--(although mass transportation in many of the rural areas of this country is a non-starter). Do you have any feel for the costs involved? they impress me as fairly lost-cost options.
10.24.2007 1:08pm
Daniel J. Wojcik (mail) (www):
(3) Increasing the Earth's albedo, by, among other things, requiring the use of high albedo roofing materials on all new construction, even requiring the replacement of older, low albedo roofs with higher albedo materials.

Would that work? Or would any energy reflected from below just get trapped by the greenhouse's ceiling anyway?

I think the albedo would have to be raised above the greenhouse.
10.24.2007 2:05pm
Ken Arromdee:
Are we more likely to see unintended consequences from (a) seeding the upper atmosphere with sulfate or (b) dramatically reducing the carbon dioxide output of the whole human race?

That's exactly it.

Of course, seeding the upper atmosphere with sulfate is silly, precisely because it's expensive and could have unintended consequences.

But reducing carbon dioxide output is silly for exactly the same reason. In order to demand we reduce C02 output, you have to say "this is so urgent that we must risk destroying the entire economy to do it". And once you decide that one kind of drastic, unintended, consequences is acceptable simply because the problem is so urgent, then other kinds of solutions with drastic, unintended, consequences are suddenly quite plausible--or at least, no less implausible than the solution that everyone's promoting.

I would speculate that the reason that the drastic, unintended, consequences of reducing C02 are acceptable but the drastic, unintended, consequences of putting sulfur in the atmosphere aren't, is that the unintended consequences of the former are really *intended* consequences that are merely being publicized as unintended consequences. Some people just don't like technology or modern society.
10.24.2007 2:22pm
Chris Bell (mail):
Daniel:

I didn't write out all the chemistry for practical reasons, but SO4 has a valence of -2, making it very unstable. It must initially be in the form of a salt, which will quickly disassociate in water.

If I remember correctly, it will actually form "base" rain instead of acid rain, but the effect is the same so I left that out.

Na2SO4 + 2H2O -> 2NaOH + 2HSO4 + H(HSO4)

Or I might be talking out my ass . . . ;-)
10.24.2007 2:39pm
Chris Bell (mail):
Err, delete the middle product. Typo.
10.24.2007 2:41pm
Smokey:
The Polar bear population is increasing substantially, despite the gorons' dishonest propaganda. And the polar bear population is doing even better than it appears, since female polar bears only breed once every three years.
10.24.2007 2:56pm
anonthu:
Or I might be talking out my ass . . . ;-)

You're correct that sodium sulfate is quite soluble. However, it will not form "NaOH" plus "H2SO4" in solution. It will dissolve into a solution with Na+ ions and SO4-- ions. In other words, it's just a salt.
10.24.2007 3:14pm
John Kunze:
DiverDan should put a carbon tax at the head of his short list. A carbon tax is the first thing that should be done if global warming is a problem, since it gives everyone an incentive to figure out and implement the least-cost ways of decreasing CO2 across the entire economy.

The tax would be on all CO2 generating energy -- gasoline, heating oil, aviation fuel, coal, natural gas, etc. -- in proportion to how much CO2 they generate. The tax would be easier to implement and less subject to political manipulation than cap-and-trade.

Politically there is little support for a carbon tax now, but if other taxes were cut in a manner that would leave most people no worse off, it should improve the efficiency of the economy. There is a free lunch here because, if global warming is a problem, taxing the CO2 that causes it reduces the problem. On the other hand, reducing other taxes reduces the deadweight loss of most taxation.
10.24.2007 3:43pm
wb (mail):
I seem to recall from a talk by Ken Caldeira this summer that one is talking about increasing the albedo by 10% only over the region from 80 - 90 north latitude. The cost was ~1 B$/yr and the time for the material to precipitate out was ~ 2 years. Acid rain effects would be greatly spread out not concentrated as in the case of the use of high sulfur coal. None of these figures are outlandish. Sulfates are rather poor reflectors; some better material might be found. Nonetheless Caldeira is cautious about advocating this approach until we know much more about the atmospheric chemistry of the approach, climatology and the accuracy of the model. Hence he recommends research into geo-engineering, not deployment. All this sounds prudent to me.
10.24.2007 3:52pm
Edward A. Hoffman (mail):
The polar bear population may be increasing at the moment, but that isn't the end of the analysis. Polar bear habitat is degrading rapidly, and as its decline continues the population of the bears will plunge. The fact that this trend isn't noticeable yet doesn't invalidate the prediction.

Polar bears spend the colder part of the year on the ice, feeding on seals and other animals that poke their heads through breathing holes or climb onto the surface. When the ice begins to melt they head for land, where they spend their summers. They don't eat much during the summer, and rely for nourishment on blubber they put on during their winter hunts.

Because of global warming, the ice sheet forms later in the year and disappears earlier. This leaves less opportunity for the bears to hunt. It also makes the southern portions of their range progessively less inhabitable, since there will soon come a point at which bears in, say, the southern part of Hudson Bay can't spend enough time on the ice each year to build up the blubber they will need to survive through the summertime.

Those bears will then try to migrate north, but most of the territory they will try to move into already supports as many bears as it can and thus will not be able to absorb these additional animals. What's more, those territories will also lose their ability to support bears as the temperature continues to increase and the southern limit of their range moves progressively further north.

People who look only at the current population and conclude that polar bears are not in danger implicitly presume either that the conditions in which the bears live will not change or that any changes will be insignificant. But predicting the effect of global warming by presuming it will have no effect makes no sense at all.
10.24.2007 5:24pm
Chris Bell (mail):
anonthu

but won't the strongly negative charge of SO4-- pull off hydronium ions, leaving excess OH.
10.24.2007 6:09pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
"Never mind that 3-5 have not been debated yet, except maybe on some lunatic fringe, and have never been seriously peer reviewed. You seem ready to spend trillions of dollars of everyone else's money to solve possibly a non-problem, or if it is a problem, using likely one of the most uneconomic solutions that can be envisioned to solve it."

Bruce, have you ever read Watership Down? You're one of my favorite people onthe blog, but I don't think G/W is that far fetched.
10.24.2007 6:38pm
Smokey:
The Scientific Method uses flasification as the primary way to establish the truthfulness of any scientific conjecture. If a conjecture, such as the "greenhouse effect" can be falsified by the peer-review process, that means that the conjecture itself is false.

Al Gore's basic conjecture: CO2 causes global warming. But what if this conjecture is false? What does that do to the entire argument? If CO2 does not cause the predicted greenhouse effect, then we should certainly not spend $trillions 'fixing' a non-existent problem, should we?

In fact, the CO2/greenhouse conjecture has been falsified.

So now what do we do? Shovel more $$$$$ at a non-existent problem?
10.24.2007 8:07pm
Eli Rabett (www):
Diver Dan suggests
(3) Increasing the Earth's albedo, by, among other things, requiring the use of high albedo roofing materials on all new construction, even requiring the replacement of older, low albedo roofs with higher albedo materials. This could also include items like paving materials - very light colored concrete or white gravel has a much higher albedo than tar or asphalt roads and parking lots.
for dealing with global warming.

The bad news is that you cannot cover much ground with such an approach so it will not have a direct global effect, but such tactics really do a) cool urban/suburban areas directly and b) improve efficiency of heating and cooling (in the summer the heat load onto the roof is less so less cooling is required and in the winter, the light colored reflective roof radiates less heat from the inside). By decreasing the amount of energy needed for heating and cooling, they restrict the amount of emissions.

These are also things that can be done by zoning regulation.
10.24.2007 8:41pm
Edward A. Hoffman (mail):
Smokey wrote:
In fact, the CO2/greenhouse conjecture has been falsified.
The two authors of one particular paper believe the conjecture has been falsified. Tens of thousands of other scientists disagree.

Note too that this paper has apparently not (yet, anyway) been published or peer reviewed.

Why are you so quick to accept what a tiny minority of scientists say while rejecting the overwhelming consensus of the scientific community? Aside from the fact that the minority agrees with you, why do you give more credence to them than to the majority? Do you think we need unanimity before we can accept any scientific argument?
10.24.2007 8:42pm
Smokey:
Edward A. Hoffman:

Eddie, me boy, you gave it your best shot. So I'll challenge your "tiny minority of scientists," and point out that this paper has been flying around the internet for almost two months now, and no individual or group has been able to refute its logic. What does that say about your un-cited post??

There's the internationally esteemed climatologist Richard Lindzen of M.I.T. And plenty of other scientists know AGW/globaloney is a scam.

Of course, if CO2 causes the greenhouse effect [a falsified conjecture], how do you explain this? Professor Freeman Dyson can explain it - and he has an extremely credible background.

And these Harvard scientists [hey! what happened to that 'tiny minority'??] don't buy into your CO2 conjecture either. Neither do these UN/IPCC scientists.

Here's another scientist showing global temps over time. Notice that we're on the cool side now [scroll down a little]. Also notice that the earth's temperature has been much warmer for most of its history - what caused that?

You lose credibility by desperately attempting to maintain that only a "tiny minority of scientists" reject the falsified CO2/AGW conjecture. Instead, the globaloney shills continue to blame the "threat" of a slightly warmer, balmier climate on everything possible. A few examples:

Agricultural land increase, Africa devastated, African aid threatened, Africa hit hardest, air pressure changes, Alaska reshaped, allergies increase, Alps melting, Amazon a desert, American dream end, amphibians breeding earlier (or not), ancient forests dramatically changed, animals head for the hills, Antarctic grass flourishes, anxiety, algal blooms, archaeological sites threatened, Arctic bogs melt, Arctic in bloom, Arctic lakes disappear, asthma, Atlantic less salty, Atlantic more salty, atmospheric defiance, atmospheric circulation modified, avalanches reduced, avalanches increased, bananas destroyed, bananas grow, beetle infestation, bet for $10,000, better beer, big melt faster, billion dollar research projects, billions of deaths, bird distributions change, bird visitors drop, birds return early, blackbirds stop singing, blizzards, blue mussels return, bluetongue, boredom, bridge collapse (Minneapolis), Britain Siberian, British gardens change, brothels struggle, bubonic plague, budget increases, Buddhist temple threatened, building collapse, building season extension, bushfires, business opportunities, business risks, butterflies move north, cardiac arrest, caterpillar biomass shift, challenges and opportunities, childhood insomnia, Cholera, civil unrest, cloud increase, cloud stripping, cockroach migration, cod go south, cold climate creatures survive, cold spells (Australia), computer models, conferences, coral bleaching, coral reefs dying, coral reefs grow, coral reefs shrink , cold spells, cost of trillions, cougar attacks, cremation to end, crime increase, crocodile sex, crumbling roads, buildings and sewage systems, cyclones (Australia), damages equivalent to $200 billion, Darfur, Dartford Warbler plague, death rate increase (US), Dengue hemorrhagic fever, dermatitis, desert advance, desert life threatened, desert retreat, destruction of the environment, diarrhoea, disappearance of coastal cities, diseases move north, Dolomites collapse, drought, drowning people, ducks and geese decline, dust bowl in the corn belt, early spring, earlier pollen season, Earth biodiversity crisis, Earth dying, Earth even hotter, Earth light dimming, Earth lopsided, Earth melting, Earth morbid fever, Earth on fast track, Earth past point of no return, Earth slowing down, Earth spinning out of control, Earth spins faster, Earth to explode, earth upside down, Earth wobbling, earthquakes, El Niño intensification, erosion, emerging infections, encephalitis, equality threatened, Europe simultaneously baking and freezing, evolution accelerating, expansion of university climate groups, extinctions (human, civilisation, logic, Inuit, smallest butterfly, cod, ladybirds, bats, pandas, pikas, polar bears, pigmy possums, gorillas, koalas, walrus, whales, frogs, toads, turtles, orang-utan, elephants, tigers, plants, salmon, trout, wild flowers, woodlice, penguins, a million species, half of all animal and plant species, not polar bears, barrier reef, leaches), experts muzzled, extreme changes to California, fading fall foliage, famine, farmers go under, fashion disaster, fever,figurehead sacked, fish catches drop, fish catches rise, fish stocks decline, five million illnesses, flesh eating disease, flood patterns change, floods, floods of beaches and cities, Florida economic decline, food poisoning, food prices rise, food security threat (SA), footpath erosion, forest decline, forest expansion, frostbite, frosts, fungi fruitful, fungi invasion, games change, Garden of Eden wilts, genetic diversity decline, gene pools slashed, gingerbread houses collapse, glacial earthquakes, glacial retreat, glacial growth, glacier wrapped, global cooling, global dimming, glowing clouds, god melts, golf Masters wrecked, Gore omnipresence, grandstanding, grasslands wetter, Great Barrier Reef 95% dead, Great Lakes drop, greening of the North, Grey whales lose weight, Gulf Stream failure, habitat loss, Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, harvest increase, harvest shrinkage, hay fever epidemic, hazardous waste sites breached, heart disease, heat waves, hibernation ends too soon, hibernation ends too late, homeless 50 million, hornets, high court debates, human fertility reduced, human health improvement, human health risk, hurricanes, hurricane reduction, hydropower problems, hyperthermia deaths, ice sheet growth, ice sheet shrinkage, illness and death, inclement weather, infrastructure failure (Canada), Inuit displacement, Inuit poisoned, Inuit suing, industry threatened, infectious diseases, inflation in China, insurance premium rises, invasion of cats, invasion of herons, invasion of midges, island disappears, islands sinking, itchier poison ivy, jellyfish explosion, Kew Gardens taxed, kitten boom, krill decline, lake and stream productivity decline, lake shrinking and growing, landslides, landslides of ice at 140 mph, lawsuits increase, lawsuit successful, lawyers' income increased (surprise surprise!), lightning related insurance claims, little response in the atmosphere, lush growth in rain forests, Lyme disease, Malaria, malnutrition, mammoth dung melt, Maple syrup shortage, marine diseases, marine food chain decimated, marine dead zone, Meaching (end of the world), megacryometeors, Melanoma, methane emissions from plants, methane burps, melting permafrost, Middle Kingdom convulses, migration, migration difficult (birds), microbes to decompose soil carbon more rapidly, Mont Blanc grows, monuments imperiled, more bad air days, more research needed, mountain (Everest) shrinking, mountains break up, mountains taller, mortality lower, mudslides, National security implications, new islands, next ice age, Nile delta damaged, no effect in India, Northwest Passage opened, nuclear plants bloom, oaks move north, ocean acidification, ocean waves speed up, opera house to be destroyed, outdoor hockey threatened, oyster diseases, ozone loss, ozone repair slowed, ozone rise, Pacific dead zone, personal carbon rationing, pest outbreaks, pests increase, phenology shifts, plankton blooms, plankton destabilised, plankton loss, plant viruses, plants march north, polar bears aggressive, polar bears cannibalistic, polar bears drowning, polar bears starve, polar tours scrapped, porpoise astray, profits collapse, psychosocial disturbances, puffin decline, railroad tracks deformed, rainfall increase, rainfall reduction, rape wave, refugees, reindeer larger, release of ancient frozen viruses, resorts disappear, rice threatened, rice yields crash, riches, rift on Capitol Hill, rioting and nuclear war, rivers dry up, river flow impacted, rivers raised, roads wear out, rockfalls, rocky peaks crack apart, roof of the world a desert, Ross river disease, ruins ruined, salinity reduction, salinity increase, Salmonella, salmon stronger, satellites accelerate, school closures, sea level rise, sea level rise faster, seals mating more, sewer bills rise, sex change, sharks booming, sharks moving north, sheep shrink, shop closures, shrinking ponds, shrinking shrine, ski resorts threatened, slow death, smaller brains, smog, snowfall increase, snowfall heavy, snowfall reduction, societal collapse, songbirds change eating habits, sour grapes, space problem, spiders invade Scotland, squid population explosion, squirrels reproduce earlier, spectacular orchids, stormwater drains stressed, street crime to increase, suicide, taxes, tectonic plate movement, teenage drinking, terrorism, ticks move northward (Sweden), tides rise, tourism increase, trade barriers, trade winds weakened, tree beetle attacks, tree foliage increase (UK), tree growth slowed, trees could return to Antarctic, trees in trouble, trees less colourful, trees more colourful, trees lush, tropics expansion, tropopause raised, tsunamis, turtles crash, turtles lay earlier, UK Katrina, Vampire moths, Venice flooded, volcanic eruptions, walrus displaced, walrus pups orphaned, war, wars over water, water bills double, water supply unreliability, water scarcity (20% of increase), water stress, weather out of its mind, weather patterns awry, weeds, Western aid cancelled out, West Nile fever, whales move north, wheat yields crushed in Australia, white Christmas dream ends, wildfires, wind shift, wind reduced, wine - harm to Australian industry, wine industry damage (California), wine industry disaster (US), wine - more English, wine -German boon, wine - no more French, winters in Britain colder, wolves eat more moose, wolves eat less, workers laid off, World bankruptcy, World in crisis, World in flames, Yellow fever. [source]

Really, the bovine fecal purveyance specialists spreading Al Gore's globaloney have gone off the deep end making the preposterous claim that only a "tiny minority" of scientists disagree with them...

...and the gorons still run from any debate! Pathetic, no?
10.24.2007 9:47pm
Edward A. Hoffman (mail):
Smokey:

I didn't claim that the authors of the paper you cited are the only ones who disagree, so pointing out that there are others does not undermine my point. Showing that there are N scientists who agree with you will only refute my position if you can show that N is a substantial fraction of the number who agree with me.

If your position were as obviously correct as you claim, few scientists would disagree with it. The sheer number who disagree doesn't prove that you're wrong, but it does prove that your claim is weaker than you say it is.

You are right, of course, that pointing out how many people think I'm right is not persuasive means of proof. But your rebuttal comes down to the same type of argument, albeit one which points to a lot fewer people than mine does. You'll have to do a lot better than that.
10.24.2007 10:48pm
Eli Rabett (www):
Phil Felton had a reasonable first cut at Smokey's love letter:

This runs to ~90 pages, the first 40 of which are devoted to proving that real greenhouses rely on cutting off convection rather than differential radiation effects! The authors seem very proud of themselves and slip in several very non scientific sneers as well. They consider the IR portion of the solar spectrum to be the same as the IR of the thermal radiation from the earth, they don’t seem to consider the TOA at all (I may have missed it in all the verbiage).
This is a major problem with stuff like this, having to wade through tons of irrelevancy and then they try and slip one by you. MIGO was invented for such tomfoolery.
10.25.2007 1:18am
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
"The Scientific Method uses flasification as the primary way to establish the truthfulness of any scientific conjecture."

What's this ... something concocted in a flask?

"A few examples:

Agricultural land increase, Africa devastated, African aid threatened, Africa hit hardest, air pressure changes, Alaska reshaped, allergies increase, Alps melting, Amazon a desert, American dream end, amphibians breeding earlier (or not), ancient forests dramatically changed, animals head for the hills, Antarctic grass flourishes, anxiety, algal blooms, archaeological sites threatened, Arctic bogs melt, Arctic in bloom, Arctic lakes disappear, asthma, Atlantic less salty, Atlantic more salty, atmospheric defiance, atmospheric circulation modified, avalanches reduced, avalanches increased, bananas destroyed, bananas grow, beetle infestation, bet for $10,000, better beer, big melt faster, billion dollar research projects, billions of deaths, bird distributions change, bird visitors drop, birds return early, blackbirds stop singing, blizzards, blue mussels return, bluetongue, boredom, bridge collapse (Minneapolis), Britain Siberian, British gardens change, brothels struggle, bubonic plague, budget increases, Buddhist temple threatened, building collapse, building season extension, bushfires, business opportunities, business risks, butterflies move north, cardiac arrest, caterpillar biomass shift, challenges and opportunities, childhood insomnia, Cholera, civil unrest, cloud increase, cloud stripping, cockroach migration, cod go south, cold climate creatures survive, cold spells (Australia), computer models, conferences, coral bleaching, coral reefs dying, coral reefs grow, coral reefs shrink , cold spells, cost of trillions, cougar attacks, cremation to end, crime increase, crocodile sex, crumbling roads, buildings and sewage systems, cyclones (Australia), damages equivalent to $200 billion, Darfur, Dartford Warbler plague, death rate increase (US), Dengue hemorrhagic fever, dermatitis, desert advance, desert life threatened, desert retreat, destruction of the environment, diarrhoea, disappearance of coastal cities, diseases move north, Dolomites collapse, drought, drowning people, ducks and geese decline, dust bowl in the corn belt, early spring, earlier pollen season, Earth biodiversity crisis, Earth dying, Earth even hotter, Earth light dimming, Earth lopsided, Earth melting, Earth morbid fever, Earth on fast track, Earth past point of no return, Earth slowing down, Earth spinning out of control, Earth spins faster, Earth to explode, earth upside down, Earth wobbling, earthquakes, El Niño intensification, erosion, emerging infections, encephalitis, equality threatened, Europe simultaneously baking and freezing, evolution accelerating, expansion of university climate groups, extinctions (human, civilisation, logic, Inuit, smallest butterfly, cod, ladybirds, bats, pandas, pikas, polar bears, pigmy possums, gorillas, koalas, walrus, whales, frogs, toads, turtles, orang-utan, elephants, tigers, plants, salmon, trout, wild flowers, woodlice, penguins, a million species, half of all animal and plant species, not polar bears, barrier reef, leaches), experts muzzled, extreme changes to California, fading fall foliage, famine, farmers go under, fashion disaster, fever,figurehead sacked, fish catches drop, fish catches rise, fish stocks decline, five million illnesses, flesh eating disease, flood patterns change, floods, floods of beaches and cities, Florida economic decline, food poisoning, food prices rise, food security threat (SA), footpath erosion, forest decline, forest expansion, frostbite, frosts, fungi fruitful, fungi invasion, games change, Garden of Eden wilts, genetic diversity decline, gene pools slashed, gingerbread houses collapse, glacial earthquakes, glacial retreat, glacial growth, glacier wrapped, global cooling, global dimming, glowing clouds, god melts, golf Masters wrecked, Gore omnipresence, grandstanding, grasslands wetter, Great Barrier Reef 95% dead, Great Lakes drop, greening of the North, Grey whales lose weight, Gulf Stream failure, habitat loss, Hantavirus pulmonary syndrome, harvest increase, harvest shrinkage, hay fever epidemic, hazardous waste sites breached, heart disease, heat waves, hibernation ends too soon, hibernation ends too late, homeless 50 million, hornets, high court debates, human fertility reduced, human health improvement, human health risk, hurricanes, hurricane reduction, hydropower problems, hyperthermia deaths, ice sheet growth, ice sheet shrinkage, illness and death, inclement weather, infrastructure failure (Canada), Inuit displacement, Inuit poisoned, Inuit suing, industry threatened, infectious diseases, inflation in China, insurance premium rises, invasion of cats, invasion of herons, invasion of midges, island disappears, islands sinking, itchier poison ivy, jellyfish explosion, Kew Gardens taxed, kitten boom, krill decline, lake and stream productivity decline, lake shrinking and growing, landslides, landslides of ice at 140 mph, lawsuits increase, lawsuit successful, lawyers' income increased (surprise surprise!), lightning related insurance claims, little response in the atmosphere, lush growth in rain forests, Lyme disease, Malaria, malnutrition, mammoth dung melt, Maple syrup shortage, marine diseases, marine food chain decimated, marine dead zone, Meaching (end of the world), megacryometeors, Melanoma, methane emissions from plants, methane burps, melting permafrost, Middle Kingdom convulses, migration, migration difficult (birds), microbes to decompose soil carbon more rapidly, Mont Blanc grows, monuments imperiled, more bad air days, more research needed, mountain (Everest) shrinking, mountains break up, mountains taller, mortality lower, mudslides, National security implications, new islands, next ice age, Nile delta damaged, no effect in India, Northwest Passage opened, nuclear plants bloom, oaks move north, ocean acidification, ocean waves speed up, opera house to be destroyed, outdoor hockey threatened, oyster diseases, ozone loss, ozone repair slowed, ozone rise, Pacific dead zone, personal carbon rationing, pest outbreaks, pests increase, phenology shifts, plankton blooms, plankton destabilised, plankton loss, plant viruses, plants march north, polar bears aggressive, polar bears cannibalistic, polar bears drowning, polar bears starve, polar tours scrapped, porpoise astray, profits collapse, psychosocial disturbances, puffin decline, railroad tracks deformed, rainfall increase, rainfall reduction, rape wave, refugees, reindeer larger, release of ancient frozen viruses, resorts disappear, rice threatened, rice yields crash, riches, rift on Capitol Hill, rioting and nuclear war, rivers dry up, river flow impacted, rivers raised, roads wear out, rockfalls, rocky peaks crack apart, roof of the world a desert, Ross river disease, ruins ruined, salinity reduction, salinity increase, Salmonella, salmon stronger, satellites accelerate, school closures, sea level rise, sea level rise faster, seals mating more, sewer bills rise, sex change, sharks booming, sharks moving north, sheep shrink, shop closures, shrinking ponds, shrinking shrine, ski resorts threatened, slow death, smaller brains, smog, snowfall increase, snowfall heavy, snowfall reduction, societal collapse, songbirds change eating habits, sour grapes, space problem, spiders invade Scotland, squid population explosion, squirrels reproduce earlier, spectacular orchids, stormwater drains stressed, street crime to increase, suicide, taxes, tectonic plate movement, teenage drinking, terrorism, ticks move northward (Sweden), tides rise, tourism increase, trade barriers, trade winds weakened, tree beetle attacks, tree foliage increase (UK), tree growth slowed, trees could return to Antarctic, trees in trouble, trees less colourful, trees more colourful, trees lush, tropics expansion, tropopause raised, tsunamis, turtles crash, turtles lay earlier, UK Katrina, Vampire moths, Venice flooded, volcanic eruptions, walrus displaced, walrus pups orphaned, war, wars over water, water bills double, water supply unreliability, water scarcity (20% of increase), water stress, weather out of its mind, weather patterns awry, weeds, Western aid cancelled out, West Nile fever, whales move north, wheat yields crushed in Australia, white Christmas dream ends, wildfires, wind shift, wind reduced, wine - harm to Australian industry, wine industry damage (California), wine industry disaster (US), wine - more English, wine -German boon, wine - no more French, winters in Britain colder, wolves eat more moose, wolves eat less, workers laid off, World bankruptcy, World in crisis, World in flames, Yellow fever."

Apparently, yes. A mouthful concocted in a flask. But alls it proves is abrupt climate change due to G/W is real and happening -- didn't need a rocket science degree or a flask test to know that.
10.25.2007 2:55am
markm (mail):

Daniel J. Wojcik (mail) (www):
...requiring the use of high albedo roofing materials...

Would that work? Or would any energy reflected from below just get trapped by the greenhouse's ceiling anyway?

I think the albedo would have to be raised above the greenhouse.


This requires an explanation of how the greenhouse effect works. Atmospheric absorption of light at any particular wavelength is the same coming in and going out. Reflected light is at the same wavelength, so it will escape. The greenhouse effect acts when light comes in at visible wavelengths to which the atmosphere is quite transparent and is absorbed, then re-radiated at lower wavelengths, which are more likely to be absorbed by water vapor, CO2, and methane. That is, greenhouse effects cause the atmosphere to act as a rather leaky one-way valve for heat energy carried by light, but only when the light is absorbed rather than reflected.
10.25.2007 9:43am
markm (mail):
The problem with just covering roofs with high-albedo material isn't that it doesn't have a cooling effect, but that roofs only cover a tiny percentage of the land so the effect will be tiny. This is especially true of the USA, which is rather sparsely populated compared to most of the world.

The second problem is that high-albedo roofing materials are likely to be more expensive or last shorter times, otherwise builders in warmer climates would have been using them all along for the obvious advantage in keeping buildings cooler. For instance, asphalt shingles are a fiber mat impregnated with asphalt, which is cheap, available in large amounts, and helps prevent leaks because it re-flows to fill cracks and holes, but it's also very low albedo and it deteriorates in direct sunlight. So the shingles are coated with rock particles to block the sun so it doesn't reach the asphalt. Dark particles block the sun well by absorbing it, light colored ones only reflect part of it upwards but let another part ricochet between particles down to the tile. If you have to replace tiles more often, it not only costs more but the extra energy used in making and transporting them might outweigh the benefits of the higher albedo. Perhaps the lifetime may be maintained by using thicker tiles, exotic forms of gravel from far away, or synthetic gravel - but any of these changes increase the energy needed for production or transportation.

Of course, India, China, and Africa are not going to be able to afford the improved shingles for any but a tiny fraction of their buildings. Good luck trying to persuade African villagers to walk farther to collect lighter-colored mud for coating their shacks...
10.25.2007 10:02am
Ken Arromdee:
Politically there is little support for a carbon tax now, but if other taxes were cut in a manner that would leave most people no worse off, it should improve the efficiency of the economy.

If pigs could fly, we'd have flying pigs.

A promise to raise taxes in one place and lower them in another will simply result in the tax raise happening and the lowering not happening. That's how government works.
10.25.2007 10:27am
markm (mail):
There's also been some confused chemistry in the comments. There's no such compound as SO4, but there is an SO4— ion (that's with two minus signs), which combines with positive ions to form compounds, e.g. Na2SO4. These acid-base ionic compounds are called "salts" by chemists, and as far as I can tell some such compound is what is meant by "sulfate particles".

Don't confuse that with sulfur oxides, which you'll find in untreated stack gas to whatever extent the original fuel contained sulfur in any form. These are gasses, e.g. SO3 (sulfur trioxide) which reacts with water in the air to form sulfuric acid (SO3 + H20 -> H2SO4). IIRC, SO2 would be much more common, it reacts to form sulfurous acid H2SO3, which is a "weak acid" but still bad news since it turns rain acidic.

A sulfate salt like Na2SO4 would not form acid rain just by reacting with water. In water, it disassociates into two Na+ ions and one SO4— ion, and since these ions like to completely disassociate it stays at a neutral pH. However, it might be bad in other ways. SO4— will react to many substances by donating one or two oxygen atoms, and lifeforms tend to do badly when their basic compounds become oxidized.

Furthermore, maybe they wouldn't use sodium to form the sulfate salt. Calcium, magnesium, or even iron might be cheaper or easier to handle before the salt is created, and IIRC these are weak bases which do not give a pH-neutral salt solution. That is, to take CaSO4 for example, it disassociates to Ca++ and SO4—, but the Ca++ often reacts with water like this: Ca++ + H2O -> CaOH+ + H+. So a salt from a weak base and a strong aid makes the water acidic, although it cannot make it as acidic as high concentrations of H2SO4 do.

And then there are complex reactions involving sulfur and organic materials that are quite beyond my understanding...
10.25.2007 11:01am
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
Bruce Hayden- I'm pretty sure #3 has been debated alot. I'll give you #4- but I suspect this is because trying to predict the full consequences of either choice at this point would be little more then speculation. And #5 can't really be a legitimate argument can it?
Well, no, #3 (that GW may be good) hasn't been extensively debated. It is taken as given by most of those who are pushing this so strongly that it is overall bad. But before you fully accept that GW would be bad, keep in mind that there is some evidence that the Dark Ages were at least partially due to global cooling, and that global warming would likely open up billions of acres to farming - far more than it would lose (just look at the shape of continents on a globe to see why - hint, the two largest countries on the planet have much of their land masses too cold to farm).

My point there is not that the Earth would be better warmer, but that we just don't know yet whether we would be better or worse off with a warmer planet. If the debate whether there is significant man cause GW going on is complex, this question is likely 10x or more in complexity.

As for #5 (terraforming), this is somewhat a straw man, since alternatively to massively reducing man caused CO2 to reduce GW possibly may not need to be at that scale. Indeed, the suggestion made would be significantly less massive than the CO2 reductions, and possibly more effective.

The point is that the type of CO2 reductions being envisioned are massively expensive, and the cost would be born almost entirely by the First World countries, with emerging countries like China and India intentionally not participating in order to get a competitive advantage over the First World countries.


So, why not look for a low cost solution? The overall human condition on this planet is likely to be better if we spend 1% of the cost of the projected CO2 reductions turning this around (assuming that we should in the first place - see #3 above).
10.25.2007 1:10pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
I do find it interesting the response to the evidence that polar bear populations are actually increasing. The response is that this is short term, and that they will decline eventually. In other words, that if the evidence is against you, just move the goal posts, and if you move them far enough, no one will notice that global warming may actually be beneficial to polar bears.

Two things to keep in mind here. First, polar bears have survived with a significantly warmer climate and in a colder one. Secondly, as with most predators, much of their success revolves around the success of the prey species below them on the food chain, and the evidence seems to be that their primary source of food (seals) are thriving in the slightly warmer Arctic.
10.25.2007 1:18pm
John Kunze:
In response to Ken Arromdee, I cannot guarentee that a carbon tax will be offset by reduced taxes in other areas. And it is a serious point we should worry about, not just a cynical jab.

But few policies worth advocating look half as attractive if only half implemented. Are we to give up?
10.25.2007 1:20pm
Bruce Hayden (mail) (www):
Sorry if my last post came across as dogmatic. I frankly don't know whether GW will benefit or hurt polar bears. But neither does anyone else, including the experts in the field. There are a lot of theories out there, some evidence, and not much else.
10.25.2007 1:29pm
Jeremy Pierce (mail) (www):
Polar bears also eat fish. They don't need to swim far to find fish.
10.25.2007 10:02pm
Smokey:
Edward A. Hoffman gives a classic example of how libs argue. In addition to his inept polar bear claim, there's this:

After providing a mountain of references, citations and links for Hoffman, proving that tens of thousands of scientists do not buy into the global warming/AGW scam [versus the UN/IPCC's ~2,500 mostly bureaucrats who do], Edward A. Hoffman gives his unfounded, un-cited and unlinked response:
"...your rebuttal comes down to the same type of argument, albeit one which points to a lot fewer people than mine does."
Your what does, Edward?? After I proved that many, many thousands of scientists dispute AGW/global warming, the unsupported opinion of Edward A. Hoffman refutes all the facts by saying, in effect, "Nope. Nuh-uh. No way." That, folks, is how libs debate $trillion issues.

Then, after seeing the many links I painstakingly posted for his edification, Edward A. Hoffman concludes with:
"You'll have to do a lot better than that."
Eddie, me boy, something tells me that I will never quite reach the bar you're holding just out of reach.

As Bruce Hayden points out above:
...if the evidence is against you, just move the goal posts...
True dat. And that's why libs run and hide from any real debate over their AGW/globaloney conjecture; they know they would lose. That's why a real, moderated and fair global warming debate will never happen.
10.25.2007 11:37pm
randal (mail):
That's stupid. Let's look at it. We're talking about the entire effing world.

If anybody is planning a plan that might significantly impact the entire effing world, it's probably a bad plan.

I think humans are causing global warming. But the worst possible reaction would be to overreact by intentionally trying to cause global anything else.

It's like being killed in a skid-out from trying to avoid a cat.
10.26.2007 4:16am