Saturday, February 06, 2010

Proof of global warming ... Means exactly what?

This blog is all about aking basic questions and attempting to answer them "scientifically" which is to say that it stands for logical, clear thinking, of which there is a dearth.

I wrote a post several years ago about the science of climate forcing, and since then the topic of climate change has come to the boil. I'd say that my position in the great climate debate is that of an agnostic, a fence-sitter if you like.

Here's a basic question for you to comment on here, but please note that it  must be answered in a cool and scientific fashion -- or else I might exercise my prerogative (as owner of this blog) and delete your posts, since I intensely dislike abusiveness, sloppy thinking, misquoting, and all such negativism.

Regarding GCC (global climate change) or if you like AGW (anthropogenic global warming), and NOT being concerned with localized weather changes -- and apart from any disagreements about whether the climate actually is warming or cooling, but supposing that it IS warming:
Does proof of global warming amount to proof of man made warming? Is it being unscientific and illogical to claim that it does?
There are some subsidiary basic questions, too, such as: Is it all too big for us to stop, anyway? Doubtless your answers will bring up matters like this!


  1. Anonymous3:38 AM

    The question seems strange to me. Proof of global warming amounts to proof of man made warming if man is causing global warming. So why not just ask - is man causing global warming?
    Otherwise it is like asking, does a missing chocolate from the chocolate jar prove that Sam stole the chocolate? Of course not. Not in itself, but if Sam is standing by the jar with chocolate smeared around his mouth then that's different.
    Is it being unscientific and illogical to claim that one proves the other? Of course it is, but I don't think this is a common position in climate change science. Most writings I've seen on the subject do try to draw a link between man's actions (eg pumping huge volumes of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere) and the warming of the planet.

  2. Anonymous7:53 AM

    Of course it's illogical to claim that proving one thing proves another. I'm curious, though, about the origin of the question. I've never heard any climate change proponent (or skeptic) make that claim. I've heard PLENTY of proponents claim that "IT'S OBVIOUS!" - but not that it is proven by GCC itself.

    In case it's relevant somehow, my own opinion is that GCC is real (I'm stunned this is debated so hotly); GCC will have a major impact on everyone living on the planet within the next 50 years; and serious effort to either mitigate or prevent that impact is in everyone's best interests. I'm going to be surprised if we eventually prove that humans were NOT the cause, but I'm not completely convinced that we ARE the cause.

  3. I do belive that we have Global Cycles. Man induced. No! Can we predict it NO! There are TOO many variables. What are these variables, they are obvious, let's start at the core, we know the earths core has cycles, we have breaks in the crust causing ocean warming all over, the ocean cools and warms in CYCLES, The moon affects these cycles, so, now the one area man can affect is the air, but that is small and inconsequential (GW scientists would have us believe we are more), so now the other influences are the Sun itself which has cycles!!! and we are constantly bombarded by gamma rays from other exploding stars and other influences that we men still do not understand.

    So, the GW theorists have this program to "predict" based on "ficticous" recalculated numbers. So, if the GW theorists say they can predict the future, WHY THEN, WHY THEN, when they run the numbers backwards in time can they NOT come up with the same weather patterns of the past???? Don't respond unless you can accurately answer this! I already know you can not!

    We can't predict the weather 5 days in advance, how can we do 50 or 100 years. All a lie!

    It's all a lie. There are other forces at work to control population, control growth, peak oil, just to name a few which really make more sense.

    Oh, one more question. Why is the polar ice on Mars melting at the same rate as on Earth? Must be that little rover we put there.

  4. The problem with the question as asked is that it implies that the only two choices are 1) humans are the source of GCC, or 2) humans are NOT the source of GCC. Of course, the truth is almost certainly in between. There is a great deal of evidence that humans contribute to GCC. This does not negate the importance of cycles or anything else.

    Here is the crux of why that matters. Imagine that you are standing in the ocean, unable to leave and unable to swim. The water is up to your waist. As the tide rises, it makes it way up to your chin. Uncomfortable, perhaps, but you can survive. Now, imagine a man-made impact that raises the water six inches. Does it matter whether the two feet were caused by cycles if the last six inches are what puts you under?

    It is hard to argue that humans have zero impact on the environment. It is certainly hard to prove (or believe) that 100% of the impact on the environment is human-caused. While we could debate about the exact ratio, we should probably instead by measuring how close the water is to our noses (per my example), and working to save every inch. If natural cycles overwhelm us anyway, we have lost nothing, but if we manages to steer clear of the fatal last added bit, we have gained a lot.

  5. Meh! Pumping more carbon into the atmosphere than any other time in history can't be a good thing.

    Why are we still having this debate ? the northern hemisphere finished this debate a year ago, and are now jockeying over who is gonna pay for it. There are 5 billion people up there worrying about the same things as we are. So I place my faith in the odds that we are contributing to changes. But like most other times in human history, the human race won't wake up to it, until it absolutely smacks us between the eyes.

    Speaking of bad weatther, South-East Qld had some of it's heaviest rain in 24 hrs for a 100 years (400mm, that's 36 inches for the non-metric people)..Also, my roof leaked for the first time on Saturday night AND the bird bath overflowed!... So, that's a lot of rain.