Plug Your Ears, But Don’t Forget to Close Your Eyes

An informative post highlights Vox Nova‘s contribution to the scientific sphere in St Blog’s today. Katerina Marie does it well for you.

Yet some will still deny.

Ho hum, what else is new? It seems easy to put the blame 93 million miles away and fault the sun for getting warmer. Anything to preserve the corporate status quo.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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3 Responses to Plug Your Ears, But Don’t Forget to Close Your Eyes

  1. So then how does one explain the Medieval warm period, and the warm period that supposedly happened in Roman times? It seems to me that when one asserts human, industrial activity definitely is the decisive influence on a drastic warming, then the clear identification of a prior warming at least as great is a pretty compelling refutation. Why is this reasoning wrong?

  2. Todd says:

    Fr Fox, it’s not one thing exclusive of the other(s). There are indeed climate patterns based on astronomical factors. And the solar activity of 1630-1750 (losing sunspots) is noted for marking the end of the Little Ice Age. Today’s glacier melt is unprecedented, as is CO2 concentration in the atmosphere.

    The real quibble is what percentage is due to human activity: 10%? 20%? Or 90%? Some scientists have noted that if the medieval patterns held true, we should be looking at a cooling episode about now. Some have said the pattern points to another glaciation–our interstitial warming period has gone on about as long as any in the past two or three million years.

    The factors not clearly understood are climate influencers like the Gulf Stream and El Nino. Shifts in ocean currents will affect great areas of the planet. We suspect that fresh water influx from melting Antarctic or Greenland ice could affect that. No one is quite sure how much is enough to change the balance. Most scientists are more concerned with accidentally shifting the Gulf Stream to Africa or altering the monsoon patterns of South Asia, with political and agricultural consequences that will affect billions. If we knew what the tipping points were, we could be clear about how much CO2 is bad. Most likely, that tipping point is also affected by the background of astronomical factors. It’s guesswork to nail the exact point, but the effect is clear.

    Eventually, a dinosaur-killer asteroid will head for the Earth. That’s inevitable. Eventually, greenhouse gases unchecked will overcome our current climate. Also inevitable. The thing of it is, we don’t know exactly when.

  3. Todd, I think a swing between 10% and 90% human responsibility is far from a “quibble.”

    I recall an expert of some sort interviewed on TV who said, during the medieval warm period, and in Roman times, it was warm enough to grow vines steadily enough to produce wine–and that it is still not warm enough to do that, yet.

    And is it not true that Greenland was so named because the Vikings found the coastal areas to be green? Is this true, today, of Greenland?

    These latter two assertions may not, indeed, be true; but again, if they are, they seem to tell against the claim that our current situation is more extreme than prior periods.

    Also, how do you feel confident about the cause-and-effect? Your analysis (which is getting most of the attention these days), asserts CO2 in the atmosphere as cause, with warming the effect. How do we know the opposite is not the case? The warming (caused by other factors which you readily concede and must in order to explain past warmings that cannot be explained by human action) is the cause, and CO2 concentrations, the effect.

    Even if that’s true, it doesn’t mean we might not do well to address CO2 which we produce, just as one doesn’t turn on the heat in ones house when it’s already 90 degrees outside.

    But — what frustrates me about so much of this discussion is that lack of realism about the cost-benefit questions involved. We certainly can make drastic reductions in human-produced CO2 outputs. Rather quickly. It’s called a Depression, and it would include widespread, immediate human suffering. And because of our limited options, each turn of that dial means increments of reduced economic growth, which may not bother prosperous, middle- and upper-class folks, but somewhere, it means lost jobs, opportunity, poorer education, and the rest.

    Meanwhile, we have the option of more wind power at the margins, being blocked by powerful politicos (Massachusetts); we have vast potential for nuclear power, but that’s moving slowly, if at all; and we could make a net improvement if we used more natural gas and oil in place of coal, could we not?
    And then we have this huge scam called ethanol, which I rather suspect is a net minus for “greenhouse gases” considering the extra steps it takes to get your gallon of ethanol, vs. getting your gallon of gasoline. But I haven’t heard much on that from those most actively urging human behavior change to slow global warming. Why not?

    So: count me skeptical.

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