Difference between revisions of "Global warming"

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[[Category: Issues]]
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<hide>
[[Global Warming]] refers to the idea that the Earth's average temperature could significantly increase to the point where it will have noticeable effects on how people live.
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[[page type::portal]]
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[[thing type::phenomenon]]
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[[thing type::issue]]
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[[category:issues]]
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</hide>
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{{nav.global-warming}}
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[[File:2000yearsCO2large.png|300px|thumb|right|global temperatures and atmospheric CO<sub>2</sub> for the past 2000 years]]
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[[File:2008-12-20 fig1b.gif|300px|thumb|right|Annual-mean global-mean anomalies, 1880-2007]]
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[[File:628x471.jpg|300px|thumb|right|{{co2}} levels, ~1960-2014]]
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==About==
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'''Also known as''': [[climate change]]
  
 +
[[Global warming]] (GW) refers to the idea that the Earth's average temperature could significantly increase to the point where it will have noticeable (and probably detrimental) effects on how people live ("concept GW").
 +
 +
It also can refer to the following claims, which reflect the various aspects of GW as an issue:
 +
* '''imminent GW''': there is currently a huge increase in GW underway which threatens to cause serious problems within the foreseeable future (20-100 years)
 +
* '''anthro GW''' (AGW): Human activity (especially industrial) is largely or solely responsible for the current ongoing "spike" (although "cliff face" might be a more accurate term, if higher temperatures are expected to be sustained).
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* '''fixable GW''': There are actions we can take which would reduce the seriousness of the eventual problem.
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* '''active GW''': We should work towards taking those actions.
 +
* '''urgent GW''': We need to act ''quickly'' towards taking those actions in order to prevent irreversible harm.
 +
 +
Within the [[United States]] (excluding the [[scientific establishment]]) and slowly spreading to Europe, the debate about the existence and nature of this phenomenon has grown increasingly impassioned in recent years, apparently fueled by [[fossil-fuel industry]] propaganda. Despite having been refuted, many of the same anti-GW arguments surface repeatedly, and thus are more an attempt to stifle discussion of GW (or muddy the waters) than they are honest skepticism.
 +
===Subpages===
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* [[/claims]]: denialist claims
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* [[/consensus]]: the [[scientific consensus]] on global warming
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* [[/debate]]: points and counterpoints
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* [[/drivers]]: the various drivers contributing to overall global warming
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* [[/humor]]: because we need it
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* [[/skepticism]]: the GW skepticism movement, and counters
 +
* '''details''':
 +
** [[/hockey stick]]
 +
** [[/ice core data]]
 +
* [[/effects]]: includes regional information
 +
* [[/predictions]]: changes we expect to see as a result
 +
 +
These pages need to be merged into the above subpages:
 +
* [[arguments against global warming]] &ndash; for legitimate arguments against the various aspects of GW
 +
* [[global warming denial]] &ndash; for the more blatant attempts to confuse the issue.
 +
** [[global warming denial refutation]] &ndash; answers to the denial arguments which are brought up again and again
 +
* [[global warming hysteria]] &ndash; for overstatements of the problem (often used as a [[straw man]] for GW denial to attack)
 +
 +
===GW activism===
 +
GW activists apparently argue the following:
 +
* The effects of a severe global temperature rise (anthropogenic or otherwise) are likely to have a much greater impact on our high-density, coast-hugging non-foraging society than on previous societies. We've been living in a temperate bubble, and we're not prepared to deal with major climate change. Therefore, we need to do something to prevent such change.
 +
* To whatever extent GW is anthropogenic, a (relatively) simple solution is to stop doing whatever it is we've been doing to cause it. (Personally, I think this one is a little short-sighted; there may be better ways to counteract the trend which don't depend on knowing how much of it we're responsible for.)
 +
* Assuming AGW, there is an outside chance, however unlikely, that what we are doing to the climate is severe enough to be beyond the Earth's normal self-regulatory mechanism and send the planet either into a "runaway greenhouse effect", resulting in something like Venus (far hotter than it should be at its distance from the sun), or else start some kind of catastrophic oscillating which ends up in a "[[wikipedia:Snowball Earth|Snowball Earth]]" scenario, with ice down to the equator. There's no geological evidence of past runaway greenhouse effects, but there is evidence for past Snowball Earth events lasting longer than our species has been around. Whether or not the entire earth is covered, even a minor ice age would be pretty disastrous.
 +
 +
==Related Articles==
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* Reduction of activities believed to lead to [[global warming]] is a [[sustainability]] issue.
 +
* [[/debate/position quiz]]: a quiz to establish an individual's position on the various sub-issues -- a tool for use in debate
 +
 +
==Debate==
 +
===Resolved Points===
 +
The following points of debate have pretty much been resolved (see [[#News]] for details regarding the answers):
 +
* whether or not the Earth is currently on a general warming trend &ndash; '''yes'''
 +
* whether or not this will have significant effects on anyone &ndash; '''yes'''
 +
* whether or not those effects will be bad &ndash; '''in the short term, yes'''; beyond that depends on a lot of unknown factors
 
There continues to be debate on the following points:
 
There continues to be debate on the following points:
* whether or not the Earth is currently on a general warmining trend
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{{notice.need-update|There seems to have been some progress in the general consensus since this list was last updated.}}
 
* whether or not this trend, if it is real, will continue
 
* whether or not this trend, if it is real, will continue
* whether or not this will have significant effects on anyone
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* whether or not the warming is being caused by humanity (strong circumstantial evidence that it is)
* what those effects might be
 
* whether or not these effects, if real, are being caused by humanity
 
 
** Could be caused by random climatic drift
 
** Could be caused by random climatic drift
 
** Could be caused by changes in any of countless variables, e.g. the sun's energy output
 
** Could be caused by changes in any of countless variables, e.g. the sun's energy output
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* what sorts of countermeasures should be taken (e.g. should we try to counteract the warming trend itself, or just be prepared to deal with the changing climate and rising sea levels as they happen?)
 
* what sorts of countermeasures should be taken (e.g. should we try to counteract the warming trend itself, or just be prepared to deal with the changing climate and rising sea levels as they happen?)
  
Evidence pointing to a warming trend seems to be increasing, but many still consider the issue far from resolved.
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There appears to be some considerable political pressure within the [[United States]] to [[global warming denial|deny]] that there is a dangerous warming trend, that we are causing it if it exists, and that we should do anything about it if we are causing it.
 
 
==Difficulty of Resolution==
 
Part of the problem is that the issue has become heavily politicized, largely because direct countermeasures (attempts to counteract the warming trend) tend to be unpopular amongst those who would need to implement them, and those who would need to implement them are generally large businesses with significant amounts of political clout and ability to drive the discussion in directions favorable to them.
 
 
 
Another part of the problem is that determining whether or not the phenomenon is of genuine concern requires the integration of large amounts of data &ndash; over long timespans and a large number of different geographical locations &ndash; in order to notice subtle real effects without raising false alarms due to temporary or local effects.
 
==Contrary Opinions==
 
Although the majority of scientists agree that global warming is occurring and is caused by humanity, a few disagree; each of these few generally express one of the following positions:
 
 
 
* The Earth is not warming: surface records seem to show a warming trend, but satellite and weather balloon records do not.
 
* The Earth is warming but the cause is unknown
 
* The Earth is warming but mostly due to natural processes
 
* Global warming is occuring but not as much as feared
 
 
 
(Reference: [[wikipedia:List of scientists opposing global warming consensus]])
 
  
Another counterargument which seems to come up frequently is the idea that the Earth is self-correcting (generally referred to as [[wikipedia:Gaia theory (science)|Gaia theory]]) and any warming trend will surely be followed by an eventual cooling trend. Although this may be true in general, there is also strong evidence that Earth has been significantly warmer or colder than at present for quite long stretches of time &mdash; apparently even freezing over completely on at least one occasion ([[wikipedia:Snowball Earth|Snowball Earth]]), remaining that way for many millions of years and only unfreezing when the accumulation of geothermally-released carbon dioxide in the atmosphere became sufficient to create a counteracting [[wikipedia:Greenhouse effect|greenhouse effect]].
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===Difficulty of Resolution===
 +
Obstacles to resolving the debate include:
 +
* The issue has become heavily politicized, largely because direct countermeasures (attempts to counteract the warming trend) tend to be unpopular amongst those who would need to implement them, and those who would need to implement them are generally large businesses with significant amounts of political clout and ability to drive the discussion in directions favorable to them.
 +
* Determination of whether or not the phenomenon is of genuine concern requires the integration of large amounts of data &ndash; over long timespans and a large number of different geographical locations &ndash; in order to notice subtle real effects without raising false alarms due to temporary or local effects.
 +
* Attempted solutions have global effects, which are the sum total of all countermeasures plus any net increase in GW (or in whatever factors we believe may be contributing to GW, e.g. atmospheric CO<sub>2</sub>); there is no way to determine the effect of a single, isolated experiment. In other words, there is no direct way to be sure "what works"; we have to rely on atmospheric models and simulations of proposed changes.
  
At least one group has argued that the Earth is actually ''cooling'':
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==Links==
*[http://www.nationalcenter.org/NPA388.html New Research Indicates the Earth May Be Cooling] by Amy Ridenour of the conservative [[wikipedia:National Center for Public Policy Research|National Center for Public Policy Research]]
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===Reference===
**[http://www.ornery.org/cgi-bin/ubbcgi/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=6;t=003381 response to Ridenour]
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* Wikipedia: | [[wikipedia:Global warming|Global warming]] | [[wikipedia:Sea level rise|Sea level rise]] |
 +
* {{conservapedia}} (as of 2007-08-04) frames the debate as largely political, with the data not supporting the idea that there's anything to worry about
 +
* {{dkosopedia}}
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* {{sourcewatch}}
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* [http://www.globalwarmingart.com/ Global Warming Art]: a wiki dedicated to GW-related graphics
 +
* [[oneworld:Global warming|OneWorldWiki]]: mostly a duplicate of Wikipedia, as of 2007-03-21
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* [http://www.ipcc.ch/ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change]
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** '''2013''': [http://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar5/wg1/ Fifth Assessment Report]
 +
* [http://www.climatescience.gov/ US Climate Change Science Program]
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* [http://washington_summit.climate.org/ Washington Summit on Climate Stabilization], September 18-21, 2006
 +
* [http://www.livescience.com/environment/060201_temperature_differences.html Conflicting Claims on Global Warming and Why It's All Moot] at LiveScience
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* [http://www.fcnl.org/issues/issue.php?issue_id=102 Friends Committee on National Legislation]
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* [http://sca21.wikia.com Sustainable Community Action] - [http://sca21.wikia.com/wiki/Category:Climate_change sca21:category:Climate change]
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* [http://gknowledge.wikia.com/wiki/Global_Warming Green Knowledge Wiki]
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* [http://www.gcrio.org/ipcc/qa/ Common Questions about Climate Change] by United Nations Environment Programme - World Meteorological commOrganization
 +
* [http://www.royalsoc.ac.uk/landing.asp?id=1278 The Royal Society (UK)] index of articles and statements on climate change
 +
* [http://www.planetwork.net/climate/science.html Scientific Reports on Climate]
 +
* [http://www.ucar.edu/news/features/climatechange/faqs.jsp Global Warming FAQs] at [[The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research]] includes [[global warming denial refutation|responses]] to some of the common [[global warming denial|denialist]] claims
 +
* [http://www.bbc.co.uk/climate/ BBC - Climate Change]
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===Resources===
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* [http://geology.com/sea-level-rise/ Global Sea Level Rise Map]: interactive map showing estimates of inundation at various levels of sea-rise
 +
===Communities===
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* [https://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/103573721476890866382 Climate Change (community) @ Google+]
 +
* [https://www.reddit.com/r/climate r/climate @ Reddit]
  
==Reference==
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===Blogs===
*[[wikipedia:Global warming|Wikipedia]]
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* [http://realclimate.org/ RealClimate]
*[http://www.fcnl.org/issues/issue.php?issue_id=102 Friends Committee on National Legislation]
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''some of these links are more expository than reference, and should probably be given a separate section''
  
==News Articles==
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===Filed Links===
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{{links/news}}
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===Articles & Blog Entries===
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* '''2007-04-22''' [http://www.huffingtonpost.com/laurie-david-and-sheryl-crow/karl-rove-gets-thrown-und_b_46501.html Karl Rove Gets Thrown Under the Stop Global Warming Bus] by [[Laurie David]] and [[Sheryl Crow]] (related: [[Karl Rove]])
 +
===Editorials===
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* [http://www.philforhumanity.com/Global_Warming.html Global Warming: Mankind's Greatest Threat] by Phil B.
 +
===Possible Solutions===
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* "[http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/003861.html stabilization wedges]": No single solution will be efficient enough fast enough, but in combination they may be enough
 +
* '''2006-09-01''' [http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/summary/313/5791/1243 A Road Map to U.S. Decarbonization] by Reuel Shinnar and Francesco Citro, ''Science'' magazine: "Alternative energy sources could replace 70% of fossil fuels in America within 30 years at a cost of $200 billion per year."
 +
===to file===
 +
* '''2012-02-08''' [http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2012/02/2011-updates-to-model-data-comparisons/ 2011 Updates to model-data comparisons]
 +
* '''2011-06-17''' [http://clivebest.com/blog/?p=2277 IPCC Predictions (2007 report) compared to data] by [[Clive Best]]
 +
* '''2008-02-29''' [http://www.theguardian.com/theguardian/2008/mar/01/scienceofclimatechange.climatechange James Lovelock: 'enjoy life while you can: in 20 years global warming will hit the fan']
 +
* '''2007-10-02''' [http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/02/science/earth/02arct.html Arctic Melt Unnerves the Experts]: "Over all, the floating ice dwindled to an extent unparalleled in a century or more, by several estimates."
 +
* '''2007-09-18''':
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** Working Group II of the [[wikipedia:IPCC Fourth Assessment Report|IPCC Fourth Assessment Report]] finds, among many other things, "that the agreement between observed and projected changes" is "sufficient to conclude with high confidence that anthropogenic warming over the last three decades has had a discernible influence on many physical and biological systems." The full report gives a detailed scientific consensus on the situation, including possible countermeasures.
 +
** [[wikinews:Arctic ice levels at record low opening Northwest Passage|Arctic ice levels at record low opening Northwest Passage]]: satellite images indicate that the Arctic ice levels are at an all time low since the first images taken in 1978 and as a result the Northwest Passage has completely opened up for the first time in recorded history.
 +
* '''2007-09''' [http://www.foreignpolicy.com/story/cms.php?story_id=3980 Why Climate Change Can't Be Stopped] by Paul J. Saunders and Vaughan Turekian
 +
* '''2007-05-15''' [http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20070515/sc_afp/wwfclimateenergy_070515141454;_ylt=AnUvfQ4dXSyOtzBdseDyKthrAlMA World faces 5-year deadline for decisions on climate change, says World Wildlife Federation]: "Governments need to take key decisions within five years on how to tackle climate change to cope with an expected doubling of energy demand over the next 50 years, the environmental group WWF said Tuesday."
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* '''2007-02-02''' [[wikipedia:IPCC Fourth Assessment Report|IPCC Fourth Assessment Report]] is released, concluding that global warming is happening, and is very likely caused by human emissions of greenhouse gases
 +
* '''2006-12-29''' [[wikinews:Ice shelf breaks free in Canadian arctic|Ice shelf breaks free in Canadian arctic]] (also [http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16390346/ MSNBC])
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* '''2006-12-24''' [[wikinews:Inhabited tropical island lost to rising seas|Inhabited tropical island lost to rising seas]]
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* '''2006-10-16''' [http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/story?id=2572811 Antarctic Ice Collapse Linked To Man-Made Greenhouse Gases]: Scientist Claim Study of Larson Ice Shelf Provides First Direct Link Between Global Warming And Human Activity
 +
* '''2006-10-04''' [http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/G/GLOBAL_WARMING Scientists Issue Global Warming Report]
 +
* '''2006-09-25''' [http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/15003895/ Global warming nears ‘dangerous’ level] "Researchers say average temperatures are close to a million-year high" ... "In a 2003 study, scientists showed that 1,700 plant and animal species migrated toward the poles at about 4 miles (6.4 kilometers) per decade in the last 50 years. That migration rate is not fast enough to keep up with the current rate of movement of a given temperature zone, which has reached about 25 miles (40 kilometers) per decade in the period 1975 to 2005..."
 +
* '''2006-09-21''' [http://www.cnn.com/2006/TECH/science/09/21/branson.global.warming.ap/  Richard Branson pledges $3B to fight climate change]
 +
* '''2006-07-14''' [http://wireservice.wired.com/wired/story.asp?section=Breaking&storyId=1547364 First half of 2006 is warmest on record]
 +
* '''2006-03-17''' [http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?chanID=sa003&articleID=000051A6-DE14-1419-9E1483414B7F0000 Statistical Analysis Bolsters Theory Linking Warmer Oceans to Stronger Hurricanes] ([http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/03/18/1819256 slashdot])
 +
* '''2006-03-02''' [http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2006/mar/HQ_06085_arctic_ice.html NASA Mission Detects Significant Antarctic Ice Mass Loss]
 +
* '''2006-02-16''' [http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2006/feb/HQ_06066_Greenland_ice_melting.html Greenland Ice-Loss Doubles in Past Decade, Raising Sea Level Faster]
 +
** [http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn8734 Greenland's glaciers are speeding to the ocean]: different article on same study; glaciers moving faster than expected
 +
* '''2006-02-13''' [http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2006-02/osu-sok021306.php Snows of Kilimanjaro disappearing, glacial ice loss increasing]
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* '''2006-01-25''' [http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn8634&feedId=online-news_rss20 2005 was the warmest year on record]
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* '''2006-01-18''' [http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2006-01/m-gw-011806.php the blame is not with the plants] (in case anyone was confused about that)
 +
* '''2006-01-09''' [http://www.livescience.com/imageoftheday/siod_060109.html Tiny Ocean Creatures Tell of Global Warming]
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* '''2005-12-19''' [http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2005-12/ncfa-moa121905.php Most of Arctic's near-surface permafrost to thaw by 2100]
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* '''2005-12-08'''
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** [http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20051208/ap_on_sc/glacier_melt_3 Greenland Glaciers Retreating]
 +
** [http://www.999today.com/environment/news/story/2427.html Pacific islanders move to escape global warming]: A small community living in the Pacfic island chain of Vanuatu has become one of the first, if not ''the'' first, to be formally moved out of harm's way as a result of global warming.
 +
* '''2005-12-07''' [http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/12/051207180807.htm Global Warming Could Halt Ocean Circulation, With Harmful Results]: "[This] has been characterized as a high-consequence, low-probability event. Our analysis [...] indicates it is a high-consequence, high-probability event."
 +
* '''2005-12-02''' [http://www.nature.com/news/2005/051128/full/051128-9.html Atlantic currents show signs of weakening]
 +
* '''2005-11-28''' [http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/11/051128080533.htm Close Coupling Of Climate With Green House Gases In The Past]
 +
* '''2005-11-25'''
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** [http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2005-11/osu-nic111805.php New ice cores expand view of climate history]: climate of the past 200 years clearly an anomaly; "There is now no question this is due to human influence."
 +
** [http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/11/051124220656.htm Global Warming Doubles Rate Of Ocean Rise] ([http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2005-11/rtsu-gwd112105.php alt]): improved historical data show increase since Industrial Revolution started
 +
** [http://www.worldchanging.com/archives/003783.html Ice cores and climate change]: more links and analysis
 +
* '''2005-11-24''' [http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2005-11/aaft-nee111805.php New evidence; Today's atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are highest in 650,000 years]
 
* '''2005-11-11''' [http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v438/n7066/full/nature04188.html Impact of regional climate change on human health] ([http://www.scidev.net/news/index.cfm?fuseaction=readnews&itemid=2482&language=1 news brief])
 
* '''2005-11-11''' [http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v438/n7066/full/nature04188.html Impact of regional climate change on human health] ([http://www.scidev.net/news/index.cfm?fuseaction=readnews&itemid=2482&language=1 news brief])
 
* '''2005-11-03''' [http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/11/051103082538.htm Study Shows Escalating Climate Change Impacts...]
 
* '''2005-11-03''' [http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/11/051103082538.htm Study Shows Escalating Climate Change Impacts...]
Line 46: Line 159:
 
* '''2005-09-23''' [http://www.cnn.com/2005/TECH/science/09/23/hurricane.cycle/index.html CNN: New era of hurricanes] "But don't rush to blame it on global warming, experts warn."
 
* '''2005-09-23''' [http://www.cnn.com/2005/TECH/science/09/23/hurricane.cycle/index.html CNN: New era of hurricanes] "But don't rush to blame it on global warming, experts warn."
 
* '''2005-09-16''' [http://news.independent.co.uk/world/science_technology/article312997.ece Global warming 'past the point of no return']
 
* '''2005-09-16''' [http://news.independent.co.uk/world/science_technology/article312997.ece Global warming 'past the point of no return']
* '''2005-05-10''' [http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,1480279,00.html The (UK) Guardian]: "David Bellamy's inaccurate and selective figures on glacier shrinkage are a boon to climate change deniers"
+
* '''2004-12-03''' [http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/306/5702/1686 The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change]
 +
====Video====
 +
* '''2007-03-12''' [[googlevideo:-4404548374845788391|Steve Koonin - Chief Scientist BP]] (1 hr 25 min) speaks about energy issues; he discusses climate change starting at about 22:15
 +
====Bad Reporting====
 +
* The '''2006-10-27''' report that [http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/story/0,,1932760,00.html the Atlantic current came to a halt for 10 days in 2004] was a severe misrepresentation of what actually happened, as explained [http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/10/ocean-circulation-new-evidence-yes-slowdown-no here]: a new monitoring array is recording more precise data on the current than has previously available, and one of the things it noted was a "very weak" flow during those 10 days in 2004. However, due to the newness of the data set, scientists don't yet know if this is unusual, part of an accelerating trend, or perfectly normal. As yet, it has no known implications for the climate of Britain or Europe.

Latest revision as of 22:04, 22 December 2016

Global Warming portal
global temperatures and atmospheric CO2 for the past 2000 years
Annual-mean global-mean anomalies, 1880-2007
CO2 levels, ~1960-2014

About

Also known as: climate change

Global warming (GW) refers to the idea that the Earth's average temperature could significantly increase to the point where it will have noticeable (and probably detrimental) effects on how people live ("concept GW").

It also can refer to the following claims, which reflect the various aspects of GW as an issue:

  • imminent GW: there is currently a huge increase in GW underway which threatens to cause serious problems within the foreseeable future (20-100 years)
  • anthro GW (AGW): Human activity (especially industrial) is largely or solely responsible for the current ongoing "spike" (although "cliff face" might be a more accurate term, if higher temperatures are expected to be sustained).
  • fixable GW: There are actions we can take which would reduce the seriousness of the eventual problem.
  • active GW: We should work towards taking those actions.
  • urgent GW: We need to act quickly towards taking those actions in order to prevent irreversible harm.

Within the United States (excluding the scientific establishment) and slowly spreading to Europe, the debate about the existence and nature of this phenomenon has grown increasingly impassioned in recent years, apparently fueled by fossil-fuel industry propaganda. Despite having been refuted, many of the same anti-GW arguments surface repeatedly, and thus are more an attempt to stifle discussion of GW (or muddy the waters) than they are honest skepticism.

Subpages

These pages need to be merged into the above subpages:

GW activism

GW activists apparently argue the following:

  • The effects of a severe global temperature rise (anthropogenic or otherwise) are likely to have a much greater impact on our high-density, coast-hugging non-foraging society than on previous societies. We've been living in a temperate bubble, and we're not prepared to deal with major climate change. Therefore, we need to do something to prevent such change.
  • To whatever extent GW is anthropogenic, a (relatively) simple solution is to stop doing whatever it is we've been doing to cause it. (Personally, I think this one is a little short-sighted; there may be better ways to counteract the trend which don't depend on knowing how much of it we're responsible for.)
  • Assuming AGW, there is an outside chance, however unlikely, that what we are doing to the climate is severe enough to be beyond the Earth's normal self-regulatory mechanism and send the planet either into a "runaway greenhouse effect", resulting in something like Venus (far hotter than it should be at its distance from the sun), or else start some kind of catastrophic oscillating which ends up in a "Snowball Earth" scenario, with ice down to the equator. There's no geological evidence of past runaway greenhouse effects, but there is evidence for past Snowball Earth events lasting longer than our species has been around. Whether or not the entire earth is covered, even a minor ice age would be pretty disastrous.

Related Articles

Debate

Resolved Points

The following points of debate have pretty much been resolved (see #News for details regarding the answers):

  • whether or not the Earth is currently on a general warming trend – yes
  • whether or not this will have significant effects on anyone – yes
  • whether or not those effects will be bad – in the short term, yes; beyond that depends on a lot of unknown factors

There continues to be debate on the following points:

This page is in need of updating. There seems to have been some progress in the general consensus since this list was last updated.
  • whether or not this trend, if it is real, will continue
  • whether or not the warming is being caused by humanity (strong circumstantial evidence that it is)
    • Could be caused by random climatic drift
    • Could be caused by changes in any of countless variables, e.g. the sun's energy output
  • whether it is in humanity's best interest to attempt countermeasures (as opposed to "letting nature take its course")
  • what sorts of countermeasures should be taken (e.g. should we try to counteract the warming trend itself, or just be prepared to deal with the changing climate and rising sea levels as they happen?)

There appears to be some considerable political pressure within the United States to deny that there is a dangerous warming trend, that we are causing it if it exists, and that we should do anything about it if we are causing it.

Difficulty of Resolution

Obstacles to resolving the debate include:

  • The issue has become heavily politicized, largely because direct countermeasures (attempts to counteract the warming trend) tend to be unpopular amongst those who would need to implement them, and those who would need to implement them are generally large businesses with significant amounts of political clout and ability to drive the discussion in directions favorable to them.
  • Determination of whether or not the phenomenon is of genuine concern requires the integration of large amounts of data – over long timespans and a large number of different geographical locations – in order to notice subtle real effects without raising false alarms due to temporary or local effects.
  • Attempted solutions have global effects, which are the sum total of all countermeasures plus any net increase in GW (or in whatever factors we believe may be contributing to GW, e.g. atmospheric CO2); there is no way to determine the effect of a single, isolated experiment. In other words, there is no direct way to be sure "what works"; we have to rely on atmospheric models and simulations of proposed changes.

Links

Reference

Resources

Communities

Blogs

some of these links are more expository than reference, and should probably be given a separate section

Filed Links

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version 2

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    Articles & Blog Entries

    Editorials

    Possible Solutions

    • "stabilization wedges": No single solution will be efficient enough fast enough, but in combination they may be enough
    • 2006-09-01 A Road Map to U.S. Decarbonization by Reuel Shinnar and Francesco Citro, Science magazine: "Alternative energy sources could replace 70% of fossil fuels in America within 30 years at a cost of $200 billion per year."

    to file

    Video

    Bad Reporting

    • The 2006-10-27 report that the Atlantic current came to a halt for 10 days in 2004 was a severe misrepresentation of what actually happened, as explained here: a new monitoring array is recording more precise data on the current than has previously available, and one of the things it noted was a "very weak" flow during those 10 days in 2004. However, due to the newness of the data set, scientists don't yet know if this is unusual, part of an accelerating trend, or perfectly normal. As yet, it has no known implications for the climate of Britain or Europe.