Global warming

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Revision as of 04:35, 6 March 2010 by 91.214.45.47 (talk) (Overview)
Global Warming portal
Annual-mean global-mean anomalies, 1880-2007

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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

Blogs

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

Filed Links

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    Articles & Blog Entries

    Editorials

    Discussion

    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."

    Humor

    • 2007-04-17 cold outside: cartoon by D.C. Simpson, I Drew This
    • 2006-08-24 grant money: cartoon by D.C. Simpson, I Drew This

    News Articles

    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.