virus: "greenhouse myth"

stephen fleming (
Sat, 22 May 1999 04:49:26 PDT

Howdy all...

Thanks to all for the brilliance of the last few weeks ! Time constraints prevent me from contributing more often, but I felt I had to reply to Jim's remarks :

>Last night at the House of Representatives ( I watch C-SPAN on >occasion)
>my least favorite people in our system (conservatives) >took Al Gores book
>and the global warming myth to task. They were >right on the mark.
>There is no "crisis", just ongoing work. Thirty years ago a day in >LA
>would sting your eyes, now that is not true. But the rant still
>continues!!!!! WHY??? Because the reaction to the parts of the whole
>that are false throws what is true in the garbage too. The reason I
>sometimes caricature is because the fringes define the all or nothing
>platforms of political parties. Which brings me full circleback to >my
>stand. A few extremists are a lot of trouble.

heres a few statements of fairly indisputable 'truth':

1 : The earth's temperature is a dynamic balance between the amount

of energy absorbed from the sun and the amount of energy radiated by the earth.

2 : CO2 is "transparent" to energy of the wavelengths of     incoming 
sunlight but absorbs longer wavelengths (such as         infrared) as 
radiated by the earth.

3 : from 1,2 -> the earths temperature balance is effected by the

concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere.

4 : Since the Industrial revolution the concentration of CO2 in the

atmosphere has risen from 250 parts per million (est) to 350 ppm in 1990.

It rose 10% between 1983 and 1989
Some studies predict it to double by 2030.

5 : It is very difficult / impossible to predict the behaviour of a sufficiently complex system.

6 : The worlds climate is a profoundly non linear system.

7 : The amount of heat trapped by the atmosphere is a significant

variable in this complex system.

8 : from 1-7 There is a significant chance that our burning of fossil fuels will cause unprecedented climate change.

9 : Given the current climate regime is pretty perfect for humans, it is unlikely that profound changes will be to our benefit.

Maintaining or increasing our current level of CO2 emissions has a significant probability of causing extreme climate change. Now personally I don't think thats a very good bet. There is already significant evidence of global effects as a result of warming including dieback of coral reefs etc etc. (AND Global warming is just ONE factor of many that are radically changing our biosphere...)

So here's a question :
Given the large weight of scientific evidence supporting the belief "we are buggering our planet", what mechanisms drive the spread of "Ostrich memes" such as "we have nothing to worry about", "there is no crisis" etc ?

1 conservation of energy
2 any physics text; absorbtion spectrum of CO2; black body radiation 4 Keeling (Hawaii) CO2 monitoring data 1958 - 1989

New Scientist July 1 1989, p38
5,6 Any introduction to systems or complexity theory

p.s round of applause for The Hermit for all the pi stuff. brilliant!

steve fleming
engineer, goddam hippy

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