[Coral-List] pseudo science - you have a delete button

Douglas Fenner douglasfennertassi at gmail.com
Fri Nov 2 15:34:05 EDT 2012

Lets see if I can summarize the point Dennis made.

1. the world is heating up, for whatever reason.
2. if we don't do anything about the world heating up, hurricanes will be
stronger, and do more damage like Sandy (an arctic high produced by arctic
ice melting is said to have pushed the jet stream south which pushed the
cold front on a collision course with Sandy). Sandy is currently projected
to reduce the US economic growth this quarter by about 1/2 of one percent.
Other weather changes like droughts (like this summer in the US), floods,
summer heat waves (that have killed 10's of thousands of people in Europe
and Russia) will also cost the economy.
3. CO2 absorbs infrared radiation (a physical fact not in dispute), the
more of it is in the atmosphere, the more it heats the earth.
4. CO2 (and other greenhouse gases) is one of the few things that we can
have an effect on which could reduce global warming.
5. We can reduce future economic impact of global warming by reducing our
CO2 (and methane and nitrous oxide) emissions.
6. For the decision of whether to reduce CO2 or not, it doesn't matter what
is producing the present global warming.
7. reducing CO2 emissions will reduce the amount of temperature rise and
thus the amount of coral bleaching and mortality in the future, and reduce
acidification which will reduce the ability of corals and other calcifiers
to grow.

Cheers,  Doug

On Thu, Nov 1, 2012 at 4:46 AM, Dennis Hubbard
<dennis.hubbard at oberlin.edu>wrote:

> Thinking that this thread was done, I sent the following to Bill offline in
> response to his challenge to convince him of anthropogenic climate change.
> It is lengthy, and thus my original motivation for an off-line response.
> You may feel it's a cop-out.... or just pragmatism. Either way, enjoy....
> or delete!
> Bill:
> Not much time, but here's my encapsulated version.
> Let's start with what we know:
> 1) the sun has a HUGE effect; in fact, it's largely what has driven major
> climate cycles
> 2) CO2 and a host of other things are "greenhouse gasses", etc. and they do
> cause temperature increases - how much we can ague about later
> 3) CO2 levels have risen by a measurable amount; there is  a significant
> amount of "old" carbon in this so it's related to burning fossil fuels
> 4) The rate of SL rise was largely slowing through much of the 19th
> century, save those pesky "little ice ages", and later the flat spot in the
> 1960's (largely due to reflectivity of particulates related to increased
> coal consumption)
> 5) SL rise has accelerated by ca 0.009 mm/yr2 since 1860 and has increased
> (conservatively) two-fold in that time
> 6) During past SL rises, sometimes CO2 goes up first and sometimes
> temperature leads the way; these are inter-related inasmuch as CO2 drives
> up temperature but higher temps also increase CO2; nature is fickle that
> way
> I'm sure I've missed a few, but that's enough to start with.
> So, for now, let's set aside the issue of whether solar forcing or CO2 is
> the main driver or not. If we combine the points above that we can
> hopefully agree on, then we go to the following:
> Projections have been shown to have errors, but most upgrades have produced
> worst projections and not better ones
> Recent performance seems to be ahead of most models
> A recent synthesis of all available Holocene core data demonstrates that
> over half of the world's coral reefs built at rates below the PRESENT rate
> of SL rise - so there is already a problem that was not there a century ago
> and is worsening. And... those reefs didn't have to deal with *Homo
> stupidus
> *, so this is probably an optimistic characterization.
> New York just went underwater. Perhaps this is within the statistical
> limits of error (I just don't know that yet); higher sea levels will
> exacerbate these two examples and countless more.
> So...... if we can agree that these are bad things for humans, the economy
> and all the other stuff that usually gets a priority in the discussion,
> then:
> The accelerating SL rise is a problem regardless of the cause (the pattern
> tells me that the recent blip can't be explained only by solar forcing,
> but). Anthropogenic contributions are at least a measurable PART of this
> pattern. These are the only ones we can do anything about unless someone
> comes up with a way to control solar output or we want to tinker with
> geo-engineering. Therefore, lowering our CO2 emissions is in our best
> interest both socially and economically.
> To me, this is the proverbial gorilla in the room that gets lost in the
> quibbling about things that we are not going to convince one another about.
> To me, the data show that the anthropogenic signal is a measurable and
> significant part of the pattern we are seeing today. Compared to the
> energetics of the 125,000-year cycle, this is a pimple, but on a human
> timescale (which we are talking about), CO2 is playing a disproportionate
> role in the short run (centuries to millennia) and some pretty well
> informed folks argue that the CO2 part of the signal has overwhelmed the
> solar component for the time being. I'm not going there for now, but IF
> they are right, we are really screwed. If they aren't, then we're still
> back to the realities that derive from my six points above and the reality
> that carbon emissions are the only part we can control.
> I don't have time or the space in this email to convince you that
> anthropogenic CO2 is the dominant signal at present, but hopefully we can
> agree that however important resolving this might be in the long run
> scientifically, we are experiencing events that we don't like - and
> anthropogenically created CO2 plays SOME role in that pattern whether or
> not the sun is still the dominant player in all of this. If we agree on my
> underlying point, then we need to move forward to get folks focused on
> this. If not, then we'll just have to face the fact that one of us has to
> be wrong.
> So, we're down to Pascal's wager - originally designed to address the
> existence of God, but equally applicable here. We have a binary question:
> IS anthropogenic CO2 playing a measurable and negative role in climate
> regulation? Answers: Yes - No  The validity of our answers are likewise
> binary, we are either right or wrong.
> If you argue no and are correct, then climate may self-regulate butt all
> the crap we put into the air will significantly deteriorate the air and
> water and there will be disproportionate increases in suffering and
> economic costs regardless of any possible climate ties. If you are wrong,
> we will probably reach a tipping point where no amount of money will allow
> us to reverse whatever comes from our denials. This is the equivalent or
> Pascal's "eternal damnation" option.
> In contrast, if I argue yes and am right, then we can perhaps do something
> to reverse this trend. Arguing from an economic perspective, the discount
> rate would support the idea that it's cheaper to not break it using today's
> dollars than it is to fix it using tomorrow's. If I am wrong, I am
> perfectly happy to say, "gee, it wasn't us after all, but we have cleaner
> air, water and a better environment. Don't I feel stupid". This was
> Pascal's "excess of morality".
> So, whether I've convinced you of anything or not, I hope that you will at
> least agree that I am not blindly taking what the conspiracy is selling. I
> am a pragmatist. WHile I believe that we have a significant role in all of
> this, I am less worried about quantifying it or arguing over how it stacks
> up against everyone else's favorite climate driver. I feel that doing
> science is a privilege, so I will continue to take advantage of that luxury
> by looking at all the data and changing my perspectives as the data get
> better. However, that privilege comes with a responsibility to not "fiddle
> while the planet burns".
> Dennis
> --
> Dennis Hubbard
> Dept of Geology-Oberlin College Oberlin OH 44074
> (440) 775-8346
> * "When you get on the wrong train.... every stop is the wrong stop"*
>  Benjamin Stein: "*Ludes, A Ballad of the Drug and the Dream*"
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