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Worldly Talk

Civil discussion and debate on real world events and issues.


Heat?!?

   
Quote:
Originally Posted by Naleh View Post
But you'll need incredibly strong evidence against global warming before you can ignore that bottom right cell, because its consequences are so grave. It outweighs the other cells entirely.
This at least sounds wise, but I don't think anyone questions whether its getting hotter. The only debate is as to why and that, IMO, is a silly debate.

Perhaps, but would it not be best to understand why (or, if you prefer, how) global warming is happening so that actions taken to prevent it are effective? After all, if it is due to a natural cycle that coincides with <insert the usual here>, then removing our <the usual suspects; pollution, chemicals, etc.> would likely have no effect on the occurrence.

If that's the case, then the consequence matrix that Naleh provided would likely look a fair bit more like this...

It's not happeningIt's happening
We do somethingWasted money*Global devastation and wasted money
We do nothingNo problemsGlobal devastation


Yes, I'm playing the role of the devil's advocate, but this is a question that probably should get answered at some point so that our plan of action doesn't look like this:

1.) We have a problem!
2.) Do something about it!
3.) Did it work? If no, go to 2.
4.) It worked!

When it should probably look a bit more like this...

1.) We have a problem!
2.) Define the problem and determine what is causing it.
3.) Fix the problem.
4.) Did it work? If no, go to 2.
5.) Problem solved.

Here is a question- lets assume for the sake of argument that global warming is happening and we did not cause it- nature cycles and certainly the earth has been warmer than this in the past. Durring the jurassic there was only seasonally snow in the arctic circle. Life would go on. us puny humans, on the other hand, along with millions of extant species, will be facing a crisis however. If we were to naturally approach jurrasic level temperatures we would have less land to grow food and live on, higher costs associated with cooling, and the issues we do contribute to the environment would take on more weight. On the other hand if we do something even though we didn't cause the mess we would be saving ourselves a lot of hardship and possibly the fall of a civilization.
So does it have to be our mess for us to want to clean it up?

Quote:
Originally Posted by NM020110 View Post
2.) Define the problem and determine what is causing it.
I've posted two links above already, but can post them again for die-hard sceptics:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_warming
Sample story: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/5314592.stm

I will also list conclusions, so you don't even have to open links:
1. CO2 concentration is now higher than at any point in the last 800K years
2. CO2 concentration is rising at x50 times higher rate than at any point in the past 800K years
3. temperature raise was always happening shortly after CO2 increase, these were always correlated in the past 800K years

Maybe 800K years is too conservative, but that's how deep the ice cores go. There's an ample body of evidence for human-induced global warming: we are putting greenhouse gases into atmosphere at unprecedented rate in the history of our planet. The causes are known, the repercussions are known, and remedies are being developed. The only thing that is lacking is awareness and acceptance: those responsible for making decisions are still in denial.

No, since the problem effects us. The question is if we have the ability to do so. Beyond a certain point it may be too difficult to feasibly stop the course of events which are causing global warming. In such a scenario where any effort would either be futile or would cause more damage than letting global warming run its course, should we not seek to act in another method.

To be more specific, in this scenario the problem is that global warming is occurring, and that this threatens the survival of several species. If analysis indicates that the preservation of the present ecosystem is not possible given our present resources, then might it not be best to circumvent the problem entirely by, for example, constructing habitats in low orbit? If farming is not going to be viable on the Earth's surface, and making it viable is unfeasible, then might it not be prudent to look into the establishment of low-orbit, high-orbit, geosynchronous, or even lunar stations to provide some of what may be lost?

If there's a problem, then we should probably fix it. A naturalist could probably argue that, if global warming is from a natural cause, then there is no mess for us to clean up. I, however, think differently. If a natural cycle threatens the continued existence of humanity as a species, then by nature it should be humanity's duty to either overcome, adapt, or circumvent the threat to itself.

Being of a lawful alignment, however, I would also argue that we should see if the problem needs to be fixed (most likely yes) and if it can be fixed (uncertain) in a manner that does not cause another, worse problem (uncertain). Until that is done, we should not act. We probably could fix the problem for a while by, for example, inundating the atmosphere with dust to reflect sunlight. This would probably be made fairly easy by using nuclear weapons to force a large volcanic eruption at, say, Yellowstone. Whether such a solution would cause more harm than good, however, should first be determined before such a plan is enacted.

Edit: And, to reply to a post that came up while I was writing:

So CO2 is at a high level, and we're seeing increases in temperature. This has been correlated in the past with similar event.

Let's say that we succeed in removing the anomalous concentration of CO2. Will this stop global warming, or will other factors such as the melting ice caps perpetuate it? I agree with you that CO2 is most likely a part of it, but if its the only part of it then I'll be expressing a good deal of skepticism.

Eh, and now I've lost my chain of though, so I'll just leave it here...

Quote:
Originally Posted by NM020110 View Post
... We probably could fix the problem for a while by, for example, inundating the atmosphere with dust to reflect sunlight. This would probably be made fairly easy by using nuclear weapons to force a large volcanic eruption at, say, Yellowstone. ...
You just scared the hell out of me, friend

Seriously though, there's no need to invent new methods in this thread. Lots of people are thinking about the consequences of warming as well as ways to counter it. But practically all of them agree that the best start is to stop pumping greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

Indeed, indeed, stop causing the problem before trying to fix it so you aren't filling in your hole while digging it.

After we've stopped putting greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, can we get the gasses that are currently there back out? Can the other methods by which global warming is happening also be stopped? If we're going to debate this, then these are things that should probably be considered. If not, then I suppose playing the devil's advocate is a rather moot role since we'll just be sitting here agreeing with each other...

If we can, without relying on such excessive methods as were suggested above, then great. If we can't, then can we implement alternative means for survival with the resource restriction brought on by fighting global warming? If we can't, then we probably shouldn't be fighting the battle against global warming. I'm all for dealing with a threat to survival, but if dealing with it calls for a battle to extinction which we expect to lose, then alternatives should probably be located.

There are pilot projects for removing CO2 from atmosphere, but their environmental cost is great: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_fertilization
There are pilot projects to slower warming by reflecting sunlight: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_radiation_management

All geo-engineering projects suffer from unpredictable consequences, so they are considered as a last resort if everything else fails. If we do stop releasing CO2 into atmosphere now, they will not be needed - CO2 level will drop to acceptable levels over time with non-catastrophic warming.

Actually removing CO2 isn't very hard- I have personally seen 2 different viable programs- one is a geothermal energy program which uses CO2 at teh tripple point as the medium of energy exchange between deep earth and surface generators, and allows for the fact that a certain portion of any medium of energy exchange will become lost to deeper geological processes. the other is simple and straightforward algae growth with carbon dioxide being diffused through a liquid medium and exposed to sunlight to promote rapid algae growth. Of course what to do with the algae afterwards is another question, an obvious solution being compost and fertelize crops. it could be used for fuel but that would simply re-introduce teh scrubbed CO2.

Quote:
Originally Posted by silveroak View Post
one is a geothermal energy program which uses CO2 at teh tripple point as the medium of energy exchange between deep earth and surface generators, and allows for the fact that a certain portion of any medium of energy exchange will become lost to deeper geological processes.
Can you tell us a bit more about this one?




 

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