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Planet Earth Under Threat

Heavenly bodies - oh the Joy of Certainty

  • Julian Hector
  • 5 Mar 07, 03:51 PM

Lunareclipse3.jpg

Picture © Chris Sperring

The lunar eclipse as seen last Saturday night from Portishead in southern England at about 23.00 (GMT). The timing of this total lunar eclipse could be predicted with such accuracy - not just the first in 3 years, but to the minute on the day - such is our scientific grasp of our celestial neighbourhood.

Michael Portillo was, I think, having a go at David Cameron in the latest edition of The Sunday Times. Portillo was lyrically saying how hard it was to predict the weather, and so (to Cameron) don't assume sunny days today (good poll ratrings) mean sunny days in 2010 when the next general election could be. Portillo says, like the weather, you can't predict with accuracy that far head.

Isaac Newton was a genius. He brought to the world the fundamental laws of physics that govern much around us - he took out speculation and uncertainty, and allowed us to predict and design experiments. Newtonian principles supplied the precise predictions of the Earth, Sun and Moons orbits to allow us all to stand in the dead of night last saturday and watch the lunar eclipse. For most of us it was a clear night - ah ha, we can't predict the weather beyond 5 days or so with any meaningful accuracy because there are so many variables - some of the biggest computers in the world are devoted to coming up with our weather forecasts.

The latest report from the IPCC came up with a 90% certainty that climate change today was man-induced. Someone once told me that if you want to know the weather tomorrow, there's a 70% certainty it will be the same as today. There was 100% certainty of the event of a total lunar eclipse last Saturday. In Britain there's a 1:13million chance you'll win the Lotto jackpot by guessing all the numbers the computer comes up with - And millions gamble the chance every week.

European ski resorts all admit they have had a tough (warm) winter this year - And some spokespeople for the resorts say this isn't global warming, just a random event - they have happened before. This is not global warming. Some investors beg to differ - fearing global warming too great a certainty and what's more, people at the heart of causation - so no celestial reverse gear to shift. Who is right??

So, how do we place our bets for the future with climate change in the frame? There's a growing tide of opinion being picked up by the media that climate change and global warming are predictable cycles of heavenly bodies interacting and influencing each other. Many would argue I'm sure that these cycles are not as predictable as the total lunar eclipse...but nevertheless a high degree of certainty about the causes of global warming. And then, just like the weather, the bulk of public and scientific opinion that global warming is man-induced by our transfer of carbon deep in the earth to green house gases in our atmosphere. It's trajectory and impact predicted, rather like the daily weather forecast, using some of the planet sized brains alive today and even bigger computers to drive the models. The forecasts are gloomy, but are they accurate?

If you believe our planet warming is nothing what so ever to do with us, but you care about the natural world on which we all depend- then surely you should turn your guns to how this planet of ours is going to sustain the life on it. If you belong to the second camp, then dealing with the causes of global warming amounts to much the same thing.

As sure the Earth eclipsed the moon last saturday, we cannot flatten, drain, dig out and burn the earth at the rate we're doing and have a world fit to live in. We don't need Newton, Darwin - a pro or anti global warming scientist to tell us the obvious. We're trashing the Mother Earth and that is a cold reality.

Look below at my Monks are Cool entry....you dont have to be religious to suss out that others have a line on how to treat our surroundings and each other - Many have the solutions out there and we shouldn't feel that being secular means we should have a good look.


Update:

Listen again to programme 7: Conservation

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 11:13 AM on 06 Mar 2007,
  • Mary wrote:

Can you tell me who the woman presenter is of this programme. 6th March? It sounds like Bel Mooney.

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Interesting - while we are on the probabilities and predictions trail, what about the probabilities and predictions around the swarming of the human race and the increasing frequency with which we seem to double the population? (and all that that entails).

These are issues that no-one even wants to think about, let alone consider as part of the sustainability question. Instead, we resort to 'fire-fighting' the politically correct issues of the day, such as emissions and climate control. But even here, we do not seem to do so with any applied intelligence or co-ordinated plan.

Certainly there are many things which COULD be done to help, but these are often offset against agendas of either political or commercial greed, under the umbrella of insatiable economic growth.

Back to predictions - perhaps this is the destiny of the human race? Or maybe an as yet unforseen balancing influence will appear? Man made or natural? There are many ingredients to inject into the crystal ball. However, I cant help thinking that some straight common sense and equally straight talking - based upon scientific understanding - might be more useful.

One thing we can predict: the next few decades are certainly going to be interesting in this context...

Kind regards to all,

JA

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Great Photo

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  • 4.
  • At 07:42 PM on 06 Mar 2007,
  • john cooknell wrote:

I have seen satellite pictures of how the polar ice caps on Mars are disappearing, Mars Year on Mars year. I understand by the middle of the century, if the melting continues at the current rate, then there will be no polar ice caps on Mars.

Satellite pictures of Earth show the Polar ice caps on Earth are altering.

The Climate of Mars is entirely different to the Climate of Earth, well it would be ! but can anyone explain why the two are not linked or whether they are.
The pictures I saw were here

http://www.msss.com/mars_images/moc/2005/09/20/spolar4years/

They appear to show the polar ice cap rapidly melting away for 4 Mars Years from 1999-2005.

I would have thought that climate change on Mars was more likely than not, as it happens on Earth all the time, and from what we know of other planets it happens there as well.

I know the consensus view is that Life on Earth affects the way our climate system works and changes, but I was trying to find out if anyone had a view on what the cause is on Mars, and whether the Earth might be being affected by the same influence.

The Mars survey team do not mention precession, inclnation or anything else as the cause of the melting and warming and they would know as much as anyone about such things.

Read some stuff on the Real Climate site about it, but found it difficult to give this credibility as they thought the idea of climate change on Mars unlikely.

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  • 5.
  • At 11:03 AM on 08 Mar 2007,
  • Jon wrote:

Paxman has made a start on timid looking litter louts (self preservation keeps him from tackling the real offenders).
This evening perhaps a more balanced view of the climate hysteria:

http://www.channel4.com/science/microsites/G/great_global_warming_swindle/index.html

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  • 6.
  • At 03:04 PM on 09 Mar 2007,
  • Lossaversion wrote:

http://www.channel4.com/science/microsites/G/great_global_warming_swindle/index.html

Agree with the need for a balanced view presented by Jon.

The above same link relates to a programme broadcast on channel 4 last night which was heavy in the use of evidence (from leading scientists in the fields of climate science, oceanography and the leading Arctic Research centre) to undermine the theory of human made climate change -

I found it very illuminating especially given that

- CO2 lags temperature rises ie temperature rises cause non-human CO2 production (chief cause of non-human CO2 production is warming of the oceans)
- climate change is actually caused by the sun and cosmic activity (which should be unsurprising)
- there is no correlation between CO2 and climate change (Gore's movie left out a key piece of evidence and so is misleading in my view)

- changes in the polar ice caps is part of the natural expansion and contraction of these caps

- UN's climate change group IPCC seems to have overlooked the more significant causes of climate change with scientists proposing these views asking for their names to be removed from the key IPCC reports

- The most abundant greenhouse gas is water vapour not CO2 and that non-human CO2 emission exceeds human generated CO2 by 3 to 1

All of the above highlights to me the following behavioural and perverse issues

- Groupthink - the herding about man made cliamte change looks to be unsupported despite the assertions of the UN panel on climate change (IPCC)n

- Cognitive dissonance - any persuasive counter evidence is dismissed and those that produce it are vilified - which in my view makes the issue of man made climate change a very serious case of the emperors new clothes scenario

- Research funding in this area is being misallocated ie towards models with the central assumption of man made climate change dominate when in fact CO2 is not a factor - such "evidence" then perpetuates the myth of the man made climate change at the expense of potential research that provides contrarian but compelling evidence.

- In addition the deep vested interests with man made climate change are also unlikely to take a balanceds view - this is somewhat reminiscent of the tech bubble in the late 1990s where it was in the interests of many to perpetuate the new economy notion and protect careers.

- Developing nations in Africa are being hindered as they are deterred from using their fossil fuels in favour of expensive and unrelaible solar and wind power - irony the poorest countries are using the most expensive technologies based on the man made climate change notion.


We all have a responsibility to make the most efficient use of our resources although we should have access to all the available evidence, not to data that "supports" one point of view and the related hysteria genrated by media and celebrities that do not have all the evidence. I realise this submission may create discomfort but we have a responsbility to make sure we have all the facts available and then decide which in my view reflects that of the channel 4 programme ie humans do not influence climate - the earth's climate is influenced by the sun and cosmic rays which means humans can't do too much about it.

Also all the dramatic pictures we see of chunks of polar caps breaking off is part of the natural expansion and contraction of the caps - although in isolation they make dramatic and of course, fear inducing viewing.

Ironic that BBC is having C4 programmes plugged on it and highlights where Aunty needs to be braver

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  • 7.
  • At 08:06 PM on 09 Mar 2007,
  • john cooknell wrote:

If it is Sun activity causing polar ice caps to melt away on Earth, perhaps this explains my earlier question of why the polar ice caps on Mars are melting away as well.

Or am I mistaken.

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Julian Hector,

Congratulations on a clear statement regarding the IPCC report's clear statement of the levels of certainty involved in their assessment.

Those of our correspondents who number themselves among the 'sceptics' seem even more than 90% certain that nothing at all is unfortunate or causative in human behaviour, but they provide relatively little qualitative or quantitative data to back their certainty.

"The Devil rides on the back of Certainty"
Vaya con Gaia
ed
10/03/2007 at 18:06:42 GMT

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  • 9.
  • At 07:31 PM on 10 Mar 2007,
  • john cooknell wrote:

Julian,

I have given up on Earth, too much hot air is being generated.

I am amazed at the pictures of Mars I found, and all the others from the Mars survey team.

I do wish someone would try and tell me why the ice caps on Mars are melting and disappearing, as I would be interested to find out.

Makes you realise that we are so small and insignificant, and what we do or don't do, doesn't matter a jot!

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John, Jon, and Lossaversion,

From the link provided by Jon & Lossaversion:

The acceptance of Gaia Theory by science is timely because we are now seriously changing the environment and the consequences predicted by the International Panel on Climate Change are serious. If we are to reverse these changes we need to understand Earth fully.

To give just one example of how whole system thinking changes our view, consider biodiversity. There is evidence that we are in the midst of a great extinction of our own making, but Gaia Theory suggests that biodiversity is not necessarily a measure of fitness. It can be a symptom of the perturbation of an ecosystem during a state of comparative health. What seems important for sustenance is not so much biodiversity as such, but potential biodiversity, the capacity of a healthy system to respond through diversification when the need arises. Rare species make forest and other ecosystems biodiverse and some of these rarities will flourish and sustain the ecosystem when the next large environmental change takes place.

Biodiversity is like insurance, not needed now, but required when disaster strikes. The loss of biodiversity seldom occurs alone, it's part of the destructive process of converting natural ecosystems to farmland. We have to keep in mind that any destruction of natural habitats weakens Earth's capacity to sustain a habitable world. As well as scientific understanding, we need a feeling for Earth as a living entity. Only then will we grasp that we cannot farm the whole planet to feed the growing population. If we try to do this we will disable Gaia, which has kept conditions favourable for life for four billion years

Civilization depends upon a proper recognition of human rights but the time has come to see that to care for human rights alone is not enough. We share our planet with all of the burgeoning forms of life and together with them we are a giant community that is the responsive part of the Earth system. If we want to sustain our civilisation we need to take care of Earth as much as we do humanity. There is no future for any of us on a dead planet.

-- James Lovelock
http://www.channel4.com/science/microsites/S/science/nature/gaia.html

Vaya con Gaia
ed
11/03/2007 at 14:06:01 GMT

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  • 11.
  • At 03:53 PM on 11 Mar 2007,
  • Jon wrote:

Ed and Julian, these IPCC likelyhoods you talk of are gut-feelings of fanatics. They are not science based, such as Bayesian probabilties. Totally subjective convienient fantasies, pity the inconvienient truth is that the sceptics are growing in confidence.

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Jon,

Bald statements cut no ice.

The latest IPCC report is a discredited piece of work scrabbled together by a huge bunch of beaurocrats with an axe to grind. Deeper look at the gasses/temperature show little correlation...
- Jon

Try citing something specific or responding to specific questions:
1. By whom, what or when has the IPCC Summary been 'discredited'?
2. Specifically which of their data shows 'little correlation' and where is it located in the report.

Your blanket statements add nothing to intelligent debate.
Vaya con Gaia
ed
11/03/2007 at 18:00:06 GMT

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  • 13.
  • At 07:15 PM on 11 Mar 2007,
  • Jon wrote:

Ed - you really should address the fact that climate warming causes increased atmospheric CO2, rather than vice versa. Some scientists who are cited by the IPCC have complained of misrepresentation, a fact which has been supressed.
Likewise the Stern report takes APG as read and builds on this a sci-fi economic scenario. The whole thing is a house of cards and just as it is about to tumble stupid Cameron makes a grab for escalibur.

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  • 14.
  • At 09:23 PM on 11 Mar 2007,
  • john cooknell wrote:

Climate Change, including rapid climate change is a natural process that goes on all the time, on Earth and all other Solar System Planets. If it wasn't getting warmer it would be getting colder, stasis is not an option.

The SUN is the only force that drives our climate.

The SUN is part of huge Cosmic forces that we know little about and even less understand.

The IPCC have, with near certainty, determined that human activity is causing the present climate change, they might be right!

As I understand it for any warming event the Hypothesis is that some unknown force starts the warming, this induces extra water vapour in the atmosphere which amplifies the warming, then later increasing CO2 takes over and keeps the warming going.

Water vapour is the main greenhouse gas, CO2 is only a minor greenhouse gas, behind things like Methane etc.

Have I got it right?

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Jon,

Still no substantive response from you, just unsupported declarations:
"Warming causes CO2" - Ever hear of positive feedback? Chicken and egg?
"APG" All Party Group? When acronyms are used, it is conventional to give the full term on first use, followed by the acronym in parentheses, e.g. "Anthropogenic Globsal warming (AGW)"

There are NO occurrences of "APG" in the Stern Review.

Please either tidy up your act and actually do some reading or stop wasting others' time.
Vaya con Gaia
ed
12/03/2007 at 12:31:11 GMT

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  • 16.
  • At 02:55 PM on 12 Mar 2007,
  • Jon wrote:

Ed - I bow to the pedant.
As for evidence, I will repeat my earlier comment that it is up to proponents of a new (outlandish) theory to prove a positive rather than sceptics proving a negative. All I got from you were references to an incomplete IPCC review which makes unjustified guesses about the future. To paraphrase, there are lies, damned lies and extrapolation.

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Jon (16),

it is up to proponents of a new (outlandish) theory to prove a positive

Which is exactly what the IPCC summary does. Now it is up to those who can't accept it to make specific criticisms and attempt to systematically refute the conclusions drawn.

Simply stating "outlandish" or "unjustified" does not advance any debate.

Vaya con Gaia
ed
12/03/2007 at 16:24:25 GMT


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  • 18.
  • At 08:31 PM on 12 Mar 2007,
  • john cooknell wrote:

Being doing some reading on the actual physics of how CO2 gas in the atmosphere absorbs heat, fascinating stuff!

It turns out that CO2 is not very good at absorbing heat at the wavelengths of reflected heat, so it on its own will not create global warming, what the IPCC say is that it is the extra H2O (water vapour)that might be generated by the initial CO2 warming that might lead to warming.

This has not been proven by experiment or observation. However mathematical modelling has taken place.

However, I also read that H2O(water vapour) is so good at absorbing the radiation wavelengths, that might effect the CO2, that it is not known how much the CO2 actually warms up.

I also read that the historical record from ice cores show that in naturally occurring warming events the CO2 concentration lags actual warming by 600-800 years. So the CO2 didn't start the warming in all other known warming events, this was started by "some unknown force".

What does it mean, I haven't the faintest ! but I admire the boys at the IPCC for their certainty, I still remain perplexed by it all.

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  • 19.
  • At 11:28 AM on 14 Mar 2007,
  • Nancy Court wrote:

This heralds the day Ecocracy has been elevated to the preeminent secular religion of our day; and the IPCC elevated to the same standing as the Vatican in matters of doctrine.

Has anyone noticed that the IPCC in it's own words "does not carry out research nor does it monitor climate related data or other relevant parameters. It bases its assessment mainly on peer reviewed and published scientific/technical literature." Fair enough, but at least we can follow the footnotes to the hard core research, right?

Wrong. Currently one is unable to find a single reference to a scientific study. This is because the IPCC report that newspapers are referring to ad nauseum, has not even been printed yet. Only an 8 page summary of the report has been printed. The report itself will be released in April. Also I have found only 51 authors to the report, which stretches the credibility of the meaning 'the world's leading2000 scientists'

In the meantime, let's just be prepared to accept anything the goverment or political parties are putting forward.

In the IPCC summary report there are several footnotes to a term called radiative forcing. If one does a search on this term one will find that it is a term used in climate science but that that the IPCC has developed a specific use of it (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiative_forcing), AND that it is a measurement concept where the debate about its reliability as a tool is far from over (:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_National_Research_Council.

Let's call for the IPCC to be more transparent. We need to be able to observe the working groups' review process, and for the IPCC to list the names of the 2000 scientists who have worked on it; in what way and at what stages throughout the preparation of these documents.

The IPCC is a UN and WMO body whose members are nominated by governments and accepted by the body. The like minded with the like minded. Why should we accept their theses as the end of all debate? Like any other body of academic thought where theses are presented and stand up to a review process through academic journals, the IPCC's reports and findings should be challengable and their veracity scrutinised.

For a start can we see some footnotes and a bibliography from outside sources please?

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I was amazed with this event, so many times when I look up at the moon - it always looked some what 2D and flat due to the light and shadow cast by the sun, however during this lunar eclipse I really got a tangible sence of shape and distance - truly amazing

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  • 21.
  • At 05:21 AM on 08 Apr 2007,
  • JohnEDPMalin wrote:

There appears to be a consistent theme with those presumed skeptics of man-induced climate change.

Eminenet international scholars with exceptional academic degrees and honors from the world's foremost research institutions are constantly being paraded as grubby poor scholars looking for grant money or mindless bureaucrats with hidden agendas to promote governmental self-interests at the expense of the impoverished tax-paying citizens.

What is missing is how the scientific tradition actually works. It is slowly, ineluctably built up by painstaking mental and physical labor at the service of humanity and truth.

When you have 29,000 pieces of observational evidence [that is, data driven evidence based on mathematical calculations and pertinent constraint parameters] from a wide spectrum of scientific endeavours, be they aerial or oceanic environments] that confirm and re-confirm the same picture, namely, the incremental destruction of large ecological landscapes, it would be irresponsible not to heed the holistic viewpoint.

It should not be forgotten as to what is driving this science, namely, insurance companies and their re-insurers. It was precisely the predictability of weather climate patterns & their annual variations which permitted the build-up of great wealth for the world's leading insurance providers. When unpredictability enters into the picture of our natural systems, the historical underlaying assumptions of the insurance industry sector are no longer valid.

It is economics driving this modern thirst for a comprehensive understanding of our atmospheric systems.


Respectfully,


John E.D.P. Malin, Esq. M.A.
Cecilia, Louisiana, U.S.A.

P.S. Regretfully, we Louisianians had to learn this the hard way when the two Hurricanes, Katrina & Rita, took a direct hit on our land mass. The destruction of a great city, New Orleans, is not a pleasant experience to capture and endure. The various insurance companies writing home-owner policies were not able to pay out for the sustained losses. You may read the Book of Lamentations in the Old Testament as to what happens when a great city is destroyed.

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