An Old Friend With a New Idea on Global Warming

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Heard from an old friend with a new idea:

“Global warming is much more of a threat than I thought. I’m embarrassed that I dismissed it for so long without any evidence. Apparently, there is much less dispute in the scientific community on this subject than we thought. Very few real scientists doubt that the climate is changing…and that the changes are at least in part caused by man. And from what I hear, since it is a problem caused by man, it is also something that we can fix at relatively little cost – or, at least that part of it caused by mankind.

“Not that I’m sure of any of this. Maybe the whole thing is wrong. I don’t know. But then, I don’t know if my warehouse is going to burn down either. And I still buy insurance. From what I’ve heard, the cost of insuring the world against the worst effects of climate change – if the theory is correct – is relatively low. Of course, the world doesn’t work as a business…or a household. But if I were running the world…and I were treating it as a business, I’d buy the insurance. Even it fit turned out to be untrue, I’d still think it was a good buy.”

Bill Bonner
for The Daily Reckoning Australia

Bill Bonner

Bill Bonner

Best-selling investment author Bill Bonner is the founder and president of Agora Publishing, one of the world's most successful consumer newsletter companies. Owner of both Fleet Street Publications and MoneyWeek magazine in the UK, he is also author of the free daily e-mail The Daily Reckoning.
Bill Bonner

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  1. I came across this http://www.petitionproject.org/index.html the other day, which if true, conflicts with your friends views that “Very few real scientists doubt that the climate is changing”. There seems to be quite a few here. Besides this, there are quite a few scientist that objected to the “truth” of the global warming (GW) idea. (eg: ABC forum run by Tony Jones, around a year ago, beating up another show that was de-bunking Al Gores show.)

    It seems one of the the main logical fallacies used to promote action to limit GW (i.e carbon trading, a.k.a new taxes, new fees, new corporate profits – ultimately slated back to consumers) is ; “Regardless of what may be the truth, the global risks are much too high not to act!” This is classic boogie-man propaganda, which in itself gives cause to question things.

    This is like saying to never answering a knock at your front door becasue you heard on TV there is a small chance it could be an axe murderer out to kill – and IF it turns out to be that axe-murderer, then the consequences are obviously far too great to take that risk. Or it’s like saying lets snot Iraq, as they might have WMD.

    Your mate seems to be proposing yet another logical fallacy, ‘we aint really sure, and can’t prove it’s a real risk, but we ought to insure against it as the insurance is so cheap’. This is utter BS. Your mate relies on too many IFs. I half think you could be putting his ludicrous comments ‘out there’ to be mauled.

    I too don’t know wether global warming or climate change is coming or not, or whether we people are causing it, but I do know logical fallacies when I see them.

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  2. Dr David Evans was a consultant to the Australian Greenhouse Office from 1999 to 2005.

    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,24036736-7583,00.html

    I DEVOTED six years to carbon accounting, building models for the Australian Greenhouse Office. I am the rocket scientist who wrote the carbon accounting model (FullCAM) that measures Australia’s compliance with the Kyoto Protocol, in the land use change and forestry sector.

    FullCAM models carbon flows in plants, mulch, debris, soils and agricultural products, using inputs such as climate data, plant physiology and satellite data. I’ve been following the global warming debate closely for years.

    The world has spent $50 billion on global warming since 1990, and we have not found any actual evidence that carbon emissions cause global warming.

    Read and learn…..

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  3. Err, just one point to add.. the insurance is *NOT* cheap at all. Its going to knock off tens of billions off our GDP to comply.

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  4. It would be useful to consider your opinions, selling alcohol and cigarettes knocks billions off the GDP too in misery but we still do it. GDP values goods for war, and other items that do not add to the benefit for the community so in many senses it is flawed measure.

    The long term view is that resources are limited, we cannot keep destroying the environment that enables life to exist on the planet, and the climate will change either via green house or natural methods. The beauty is that non of this will really impact on the wealth western world, in our lifetime, so we can take a long term view and develop strategies for adaption and sustainability or we can say bugger the grandchildren I am going to spend all the resources I can now and screw the future.
    Money is worth nothing when theres nothing to buy.

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  5. @Fred; About that list… http://scentofpine.wordpress.com/2008/05/25/oism31k/ I too would be classified as a ‘scientist’ (BSc or MSc in an ‘appropriate’ field) and I’d be elligble to put down my name. Yet, I haven’t an (academic) clue about climate change. This is just a poll for higher educated people. However, their opinion is only counted if it is “climate change is bogus”. It has no scientific or statistical merit whatsoever. It is what it is; a list of people. Unfortunately, science is not conducted by voting, nor by polling.

    @Jono; It *is* cheap compared to the projected loss in GDP supposedly caused by global warming. That’s how insurance works; you pay a little to save a lot in the case something goes terribly wrong. I bet my landlord would’ve loved to be able to insure our house against climate change. A lot of houses in our street (1920s) are starting to show cracks because the soil is contracting due to the unusual droughts we’ve had the last few years.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m undecided about whether climate change is man-made or not, but the climate *is* changing. Damage is being done and, to me, taking out an insurance doesn’t sound like such a bad idea.

    Ivo Jager
    July 19, 2008
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  6. Well we havent proved whether heaven or hell exsits yet either. Relgion relies on the same concept, insurance. If you beleive in christ or whatever, chances are you waste your sundays down at the church giving 10 percent or whatever. I dont live in a heaven or hell, I live here. So why not wast time trying?
    It makes more sense to do what you can now, to insure your future, so tell me why you cant waste some time on insuring where you live, in the present.
    Whatever side you live on one of them is going to be right, I beleive those who beleive in GW have their heart in the right place and to be fair I would trust them over the “its not our fault” and “its not happening” crew.
    Whether its our fault or not why not jump on board? We’ll only have ourselves to blame if it was right…

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  7. If it’s good enough for Stephen Hawking, it’s good enough for me. One clever science dude, that Stephen Hawking.

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  8. Read all about it at http://www.realclimate.org – GW is real and anthropogenic factors ie CO2 emissions and methane from agriculture are the main reasons.

    ruckrover
    July 20, 2008
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  9. From our perspective of about 150 years, the climate has changed. In the early part of the 20th century, the climate was said to be heading for another ice age. In the later part of the 20th century we have global warming. If one was man induced, the other was as well!

    In either case the change in climate measurements are too short to claim either one or the other is right. In fact since 1999 the mean temperature of both land and sea temperatures has cooled. This was published in the Herald Sun in Melbourne only last week.

    If we in Australia take the action that we are being urged to by Bob Brown and Penny W(r)ong, and India and China do not reduce their emissions it will not make one scrap of difference to world emissions. And we will have put ourselves through hell for no improvement.

    It is all well and good to have the high moral ground, however it is more practical to look at real facts and real solutions of a truly practical nature, if we are to reduce carbon emissions.

    The only truly practical solution to China’s emissions is nuclear energy. She requires around 32 Nuclear reactors to replace the coal she burns (More than the USA, Japan and Europe combined). A similar solution will be required for India.

    The four largest polluters on the planet are 1. China, 2. USA, 3. India and 4. Indonesia. (Australia accounts for 1.5% of carbon emissions).

    The only nation of those above required by the Kyoto protocol to curb emissions was the USA. Even if America was to reduce her emissions it would not solve the problem of global warming.

    Let’s be practical and balanced in our views.

    Brian Wheatley
    July 20, 2008
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  10. You didn’t say who the old friend is and what is the new idea.

    Apparently, you would be better suited at the ABC where evangelical zeal about the carbon dioxide myth has reached hysterical proportions.

    Even their most fanatical doom sayer, scientist Robyn Williams,(real or otherwise), admits there is only a 20% possibility CO2 is a significant factor in a possible global warming scenario. In the early 1970’s the bogey was “climate freezing”. Stepping back to look at the factual long term trend, the events of the last three decades appear an aberration.

    While the G8 shuffled their shoes last week, the self appointed G5 of China, India, Malaysia, Mexico and Brazil, stated they would consider initiatives when “western” countries cut their emissions by 95%.

    The only way to reduce pollution worldwide is to provide energy sources that are cheaper and easier to developing countries than those they are using now.

    And the Green’s Senator Milne wont’s to stifle clean coal research. Great. Let’s vote for them.

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  11. Meteorologists are a funny old bunch really and probably have a lot in common with climate scientists. They know a lot of theory about the weather but seem to have a really hard time predicting it a few days into the future. No chance predicting a few weeks accurately and months forget about it. However they seem so sure about the future of the planet. Interesting paradox that. Good opportunity for a tax grab though. Remember the human race once believed in indulgences, phrenology and most of us believe in hell. We are a gullible old bunch.

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  12. Hmm, here we go again..it’s all another conspiracy OMG!! (though how anyone benefits is really beyond me). Global warming or I should say “climate change” is very real and there are plenty of examples happening right now around the world that illustrate dramatic climate changes occurring which have not occurred for millions of years, ice melting in the poles in winter, glacier melts, permafrost melting, asian jellyfish moving further south, bird migrations changing, plants starting their seasonal changes early, droughts, floods, changes in weather patterns..etc. Some of these things in isolation could indicate normal flux in natural systems, however the primary reason that Climate change has taken so long to become well accepted is that scientists needed to be very clear that the trend was not a temporary change and that the causal mechanism could be monitored and proven.

    Well folks that happened before the turn of the century and support has snowballed ever since. Of course some scientists without a science degree that covers the more recent development in climate change science may not support the theory, however of those 31,072 supposed petition signers only 578 studied atmospheric science and who knows how long ago they did this and whether their understanding matches current mainstream climate science.

    What I do know is that I studied a unit of climate change science 2 years ago and the proof is rather like the evidence of fossils, we can’t travel back millions of years to see a fossil being created from a dying organism, but with our knowledge of science and how the world works it is as close to being proven as our current technology and understanding will allow. Or don’t take the people who study climate science for a living seriously, sure you know heaps more than they do…

    beyondtool
    July 20, 2008
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  13. a little while ago 70% of the worlds scientists were employed in jobs related to the cold war, military spending was high and life was good for the eggheads. when the cold war froze to absolute zero -273’c, these scientists were out of jobs, what to do…. as some may know, to get grants for scientific study, you have to put forward a research theory with some validity to science, and the hotter the current topic the larger the grant you can apply for. can you see where im going with this?. alls that is happening is again human fear and stupidity with self absorption blowing things all out of proportion and feeding the media tasty headlines about doom and gloom on a global scale. were really interested in this, for example the recent type of global doom movies released in the last 8 years. :) if the seas are rising why has’nt it risen 1 centimetre? get a grip people.

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  14. Paul
    Unfortunately the world of nature tends to go from equilibrium to equilibrium unlike smooth gradual changes. Try putting an iceblock in a glass of water and measurng the temperature after 10 mins. It will not change till the iceblock has melted then it changes rapidly.
    It is about risk management and changing to sustainable systems reduces long term risk, and leaves valuable resources available ie oil for more useful things such as plastics that can be recycled.

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  15. Humans like to attribute cause and effect, and better yet, what they can control. Such as CO2 emissions and other things which are easy to control when compared to other theories regarding global warming.

    Now, if science were to look at other plausible and proven causes of global warming that were out of human’s control nobody would listen and fund their research.

    Some proven “causes” of global warming other than emissions:
    1) The sun is getting hotter, about 0.05% every few years for the past hundred or so years. It was only measured acurately after satellites were invented so there is little historical data.
    2) The sun has recently changed magnetic poles. During the change increased sunspot activity and solar flares will mean there will be a brief time, a number of years, of increased heat output which will die down eventually until the next change.
    3) The earth is still emerging from the last ice age which will continue until we reach an equilibrium and then begin to enter the next one.

    Nobody likes these theories, which have been proven at least to the same extent as any theories regarding emission-caused global warming, because its not something we can control.

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  16. I remember being taught a very simple way of explaining events in life (althought it was a physics lecture, not a climate science lecture…)

    Simple harmonic motion:
    Looks like a sine wave or an ‘S’ on its side, life happens in the peaks and troughs and through out the waves cycle UP and DOWN etc…

    And just like different frequencies there are different lengths so if you were to only look at the trend since 1970 its an OMG scenario
    and if you were to look at Al gores graph at the start of his money maker it goes from the last Ice age (I think) which would have been the last trough in the wave if you were looking at it in the millions of year frequency range.

    This could happen in a planet orbit in a 3 dimensional sense, the planet is always trying to get away and always succumming to the suns gravity in and out UP and Down Heat and cool.

    So perhaps its just part of the planets cycle a season if you will and perhaps we just sped it up a little.

    Ps Im not an expert I and Im not trying to unify everything for our experts just a thought..

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  17. Hmm. And again I can’t state this loudly enough, I spent 12 months examining the scientific evidence (I still keep up with the major news) and I am convinced that climate change is occurring and it IS man made. I didn’t come up with some off the top of the head baloney about sun’s rays, magnetic poles, ice ages (actually according to climate modeling the earth should be getting cooler, by due to anthropogenic affects it is in fact getting hotter) or temporary cyclic changes (the funny thing is that’s what some people are trying to use to disprove climate change). All of these forcings are accounted for in climate modelings, if you delve enough into the science. By the way the oceans are rising, Church and White (2006) found a sea-level rise from January 1870 to December 2004 of 195 mm, a 20th century rate of sea-level rise of 1.7 ± 0.3 mm per yr and a significant acceleration of sea-level rise of 0.013 ± 0.006 mm per year. And all the arctic sea ice is possibly set (for the first time in human history) to be absent this summer (are alarm bells going off yet?)

    When you hear that a baby woolly mammoth was uncovered from ice recently, totally intact and over 37,500 years old, ask yourself is this just chance or is some big change occurring. I guess if you really want to believe that science is dead, it’s all BS invented by someone desperate for a pay packet and all the IPCC have got involved in racketeering..well I can’t change your mind I guess. I’m sure you guys have all the answers, but seriously on a topic this critical do yourself a favor and do the research (and I’m not talking about listening to Gore’s baloney either).

    beyondtool
    July 21, 2008
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  18. Can anyone suggest a few good links, or non-web references, of where we uninformed can start looking at credible information in support of (or against) climate change and GW?

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  19. Whether, Globabl Warming is real or not – Don’t we all agree that polluting our atmosphere is a bad thing (green house effect, quality of air and water supply)? And because polluting the atmosphere is a bad thing shouldn’t we seek to minimize it?

    I don’t understand how anti-Global Warming theorists can be so ardent, what purpose does it serve and what value does it add to be an anti-globabl warming theorist?

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  20. leave ice and heat out of it and look at it this way
    I remember an experiment where you have an empty milk bottle, a large hard boiled egg (pealed). You get a piece of news paper roll it up and light it up and then you put it inside the milk bottle, and then sit the egg pointing down. In a few seconds the egg will get sucked into the bottle. So where I’m going with it is CO2 takes less volume than air does once burnt.
    O.k. lets say the bottle is our atmosphere and if we keep burning our air at a faster rate than we can replace it. We will cause a vacuum between the atmosphere and earth, and if the atmosphere does not shrink inwards(or does it?…could bring the heat lower down) then the earth must expand to fill in the gap where the air once was as we proved that CO2 takes less volume than air, meaning the water will rise (volcano’s erupt) causing more CO2 to be released, it will be a snow ball effect .The remains of the splatter egg in the bottle is now our earth

    please prove or unprove ?

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  21. Reply to Joe
    Fact is CO2 is the gas that put carbon in carbon based life forms…That is all life.
    Al Gore and his big banking mates are going to all this trouble to create what is in effect a new international currency, controlled internationally by the big private Banks.
    Carbon credits will make Al Gore richer than anyone can possibly imagine.
    As for pollution do you think the banksters care really about the environment check out things for yourself

    nic meredith
    July 24, 2008
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  22. it is my understanding from my reading that if co2 concentrations fall below 250 ppm, then plants start to die off…consider the implications of that…

    and that it has not been unusual over the past 10 000 years for co2 concentrations to be over 600ppm and this was prior to industrialisation and industrial scale agriculture – maybe it was the volcanoes???

    Further, that there has been concurrent “global warming” on several other planets in our solar system e.g. Mars.

    As far as the much flaunted Greenland melting problem, we all know that Vikings were growing temperate climate crops there around a thousand years ago, and that at the time of Chaucer’s ‘Canterbury Tales’, England’s climate was apparently warmer than now.

    I was an ardent GW ‘supporter’ since the late 80’s, and ‘kept up with the news’ for 20+ years. Even when Al’s film came out I was still a supporter of anthroprogenic GW.

    Then we showed it to our 14 year old daughter whom we are home educating, and as it involved the discussion of science, my husband and daughter went to check out other scientific perspectives…it took me three months to come to terms with my intellectual naivety and challenge myself and my “trusted” sources. I had been a paid campaigner for a major environment organisation for some years – it was extremely challenging, even emotionally.

    AGW is the biggest distraction from real environmental issues.

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  23. Fiona: here are the CO2 levels for the past 650,000 years, as determined from ice cores:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Atmospheric_CO2_with_glaciers_cycles.gif

    As you can see, it ranged between 190 and 290 until the industrial present.

    If you go back tens or hundreds of millions of years there may have been periods when it was much much higher, but there is a lot more uncertainty about it, and the earth was also very different, with continents in different positions, ocean levels different, different plant ecologies, and so on.

    There are certainly many falsehoods circulating, many complicating factors, and so on, but the basic picture looks very robust: fossil-fuel-based civilization is on its way to doubling CO2 from preindustrial levels, and that will eventually raise the temperatures far above those of the medieval warm period. The standard estimate is that doubling CO2 implies an increase of three degrees; but it might take a century to get there. That is a long time and the material basis of the world economy is liable to change anyway, but I would absolutely not bet against the basic scientific thesis here.

    mitchell porter
    July 26, 2008
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  24. …the rains of gain fall mainly on the great plains…that’s corn and soybeans and strawbreeze, for food and ethanol and livestoock…la la la …hurricanes hawd-ley hawp-en under satellites watchful eyes, while over olympian events…dance happity sunny blue skies la la la…but evil people languish with flood or drought or quake, like iran or korea and indonesia, they bake or sink or shake..la la la…NOW where do these great plains drain?…in rivers carrying ships full of grain…and where go these ships full of grain?…Hang Seng!!! Hang Seng!!!…so nice to see you, kim jong eel, under the weather?….how doo you doo, ahmed, first place?…consuela’s looking lovely dressed in feathers….we can set-and-tell-it up from here in space…we can even sin the seer on al gore’s face….we can even smash the locks on heaven’s gates…eeeeoooowwwww….bloomin’ ace!!!!!!

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  25. Its really all about sustainability not carbon trading.

    There is a fortune to be made in durable recyclable goods.

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