Thursday, June 07, 2007

Climate Change Porn

There seems to be a lot of global warming porn going around. We have examples of porn addicts publicly confessing and swearing off their addiction.

And others can't get enough. A confirmed "CO2 is rising and we are all doomed" fellow cites the following articles on the drastic consequences of man's interference with the air.

First off we are going to be missing a lot of Birds.

Second off whole species will be Extinct by 2050 according to National Geographic. Or they will be on their way to extiction by then. Millions of species. How exciting. I used to get my porn from National Geographic when I was young. It appears not much has changed.

But wait. I have a few thoughts on the extinction report. The opening from the National Geographic piece. Bolding mine:

By 2050, rising temperatures exacerbated by human-induced belches of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases could send more than a million of Earth's land-dwelling plants and animals down the road to extinction, according to a recent study.

It could happen.

They could be going down the road. The question is how far down the road will they get?

BTW will the coming ice age go down the same road in the other direction?

Or is our only chance to keep things just as they are?

Me? I believe in evolution. Adapt or die.

Plants will certainly like more CO2 in the atmosphere. I like trees. I eat plants. I see a plus there.

I don't see how a 1 deg C diff in annual variations of 50 deg C is going to make a huge difference in the biota of the planet.

What is more likey is that the range of various plants and animals will change. Which happens all the time with just weather variations and various predator/prey cycles.

Well, time to get back to work on Bussard Fusion. However, just like a porn addict I'm not easily convinced to turn to useful work. So I want to take a look at just how hard it will be for plants and animals to adapt.

In the town I live in, at the the Chicago latitude, winter temperatures of -10 F are regular occurances and -20 F is not unheard of. Summer temperatures of 90 F are regular occurances and 100 F is not unheard of.

Normal variation is then 100 deg F and extremes can be 120 deg F.

5/9 * 100 = 55.56 deg C delta
5/9 * 120 = 66.67 deg C delta (the devil made me do it)

So temperature variations of 50 deg C over a year are entirely reasonable.

Do we get that in one day? No.

Birds - which do not handle such a wide range migrate. Their migration patterns will change.

A change in average temperature of even a few deg C is not going to kill off millions of species. Unless your analysis assumes that the range of a given population is restricted. Which of course it is not. Same for plants. They don't migrate as fast. However even a 10 deg F change in 100 years is only .1 deg F per year. Annuals will have no trouble. Longer lived plans will spread to their optimum areas by seed migration. Birds are a help with that.

I think the National Geographic article is just Climate Change Porn.

Assuming the study the article was based on was done by reputable scientists, all it proves is that given the "correct" assumptions you can get any answer you want.

I have heard numerous anecdotes that funding for any kind of science is easier to get if you can tie it into climate change.

One has to wonder if this is an example of that?

I'd like to see what oil company funded scientists might have to say on the matter.

Politicized science helps no one. However, it is not unusual. The Soviets were big on that sort of thing. A certain country run by an Austrian Corporal followed a similar path.

Is something like that happening with Climate Science? I have my suspicions. One of the things that make me suspicious is that the answer always is: restriction on energy use and highger taxes. Technological fixes (nuclear plants and wind turbines) and bio-remediation (planting trees) are never considered viable alternatives. In fact Kyoto specifically rejected bioremediation - a USA proposal. Political? It would seem so.

6 comments:

Rick and Gary said...

Just think of all the plants and animals that will thrive in the vast, melted tundras of Canada and Siberia! I hope all the new vegetation doesn't eat up too much CO2. Could be a new crisis! Global cooling.

John M Reynolds said...

The 100 in your second formula should be 140

Neal J. King said...

M. Simon,

Your discussion of the temperature variation in Chicago provides an excellent explanation of why many people (and probably more than a few flora & fauna) don't like living in Chicago. There's too much temperature variation. I wouldn't want to have a country, never mind an entire world, populated only by people who could survive Chicago.

OK, that's a nasty dig, not completely fair to Chicagoans. But my point is that if you think that the world, as it is, is basically a good thing, you ought to be cautious (should we use the word conservative?) about effecting changes that will significantly alter it.

Personally, I have seen many articles over the years expressing concern at the very high expected rates of species die-out (leaving no descendants). So now you want to say that everybody, including scientists who study these things professionally, that talks about species die-out is in the pay of the vast environmental conspiracy? Whatever...

I think it would be helpful if you didn't keep conflating the scientific with the policy issues:

- The domain of science is DESCRIPTIVE: What is happening, and why.

- The domain of policy is NORMATIVE: What should we do?

People talking about the science are talking about what is going on: In this case, with species populations and expected impacts; in other cases, with global warming.

People talking about policy are talking about carbon taxes, increased efficiency, nuclear power (You seem to think that no one outside of your blog-space is thinking about nuclear power: This happens not to be true.), wind turbines, etc.

Dismissing the science because you don't like what you see as the policy implications? This is a recipe for wishful thinking.

LarryD said...

Concept of 'Global Temperature' challanged

"It is impossible to talk about a single temperature for something as complicated as the climate of Earth", Bjarne Andresen says, an an expert of thermodynamics. "A temperature can be defined only for a homogeneous system. Furthermore, the climate is not governed by a single temperature. Rather, differences of temperatures drive the processes and create the storms, sea currents, thunder, etc. which make up the climate".

He explains that while it is possible to treat temperature statistically locally, it is meaningless to talk about a a global temperature for Earth. The Globe consists of a huge number of components which one cannot just add up and average. That would correspond to calculating the average phone number in the phone book. That is meaningless. Or talking about economics, it does make sense to compare the currency exchange rate of two countries, whereas there is no point in talking about an average 'global exchange rate'.


Those who say "the science is settled" are wrong, or more likely, trying to suppress what they don't want to hear.

pornstudent said...

I've read that global warming will cause more suffering for people with allergies because plants will be putting more pollen in the air. Isn't pollen a plant's sperm?

Neal J. King said...

larryd,

I read that paper some time ago. It's actually kind of silly:

- No one has ever said that "there is a single temperature for the Earth". What has been pointed out is that you can do an arithmetical average of temperature over the surface of the Earth, and use this as a way to characterize what is happening to climate over the Earth.

- Scientists have been calculating averages for temperature for ages. It has turned out to be useful in a multitude of circumstances.

- If you actually read the paper (as I did), you find that most of it is dedicated to showing that if you choose strange enough ways to calculate an "average", like the 10th root of the average of the 10th powers of the data, or the 10th power of the average of the 10th roots of the data, you can get unintuitive results. Uhhh, maybe that's why people don't use 10th root of the average of the 10th powers to deal with data?

Go ahead and read the paper: It's actually pretty simple. Once you get past the mathematical prestidigitation, the argument is pretty basic - and pretty unconvincing.