Article

Methane Belch May Pose Extinction Threat

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PHOTO: Methane Hydrate or so-called flammable ice, which exists under intense pressure in seabeds.

The timing of the moronic "Carbon Belch Day" and Newt Gingrich’s "Drill Here, Drill Now" campaign couldn’t be more ironic. A spate of articles and studies have been released recently showing how carbon induced warming may trigger a cycle of positive feedback leading to abrupt methane releases from permafrost, tundra and seabeds. The effects of atmospheric methane are 20 to 60 times as potent as CO2. It was methane release 635 million years ago that transformed the earth from a snowball (with ice at the equator) into roughly the climate we have today.

Over at The Cost of Energy, Lou Grinzo summarized and provided excellent commentary on 4 of these articles. It’s definitely worth a read.

Probably the biggest, nastiest monster under my bed for some time has been the possibility of a massive methane release from the Arctic region kicking global warming into warp speed. To people who don’t follow this stuff as obsessively as I do, this probably sounds like I’ve suddenly enlisted in the tinfoil hat brigade. Let me explain, as it’s sadly nowhere near that nutty a concept.

First, consider that methane is a much more powerful greenhouse gas than CO2. It doesn’t hang around in the atmosphere nearly as long as does CO2, but the net effect, once you take that timing into account, is usually quoted as roughly 20 times more greenhouse forcing than an equivalent amount of CO2. That’s a scary-big number. (To be more precise, the effect is estimated to be 62 times higher over the first 20 years, and “only” 21 times higher over a century.)

Second, there are two main stores of methane: Methane hydrates (a.k.a. methane ice or methane clathrates) in oceans and methane trapped in permafrost in places like Siberia.

Third, is there any real threat that this stuff will wind up in the atmosphere? Actually, there is, as relatively small amounts have been measured bubbling out of Siberia thaw lakes for at least a couple of years. That same article states that Siberian methane releases are about 3.8 Tg/year, compared to IPCC’s estimates of 600 Tg/year for all methane emissions, so from just the permafrost the current methane releases seem to be pretty small compared to other sources, such as the one US government reports delicately refer to as “enteric fermentation” in livestock, a.k.a. cow farts.

Finally, we have the issue of just how bad a big methane emission could be, in terms of global warming. As it turns out, we may have a truly hair-raising historical precedent:

All this means… what, exactly?

Let me be as clear as possible about this: I’m not saying that we’re definitely on track for a rendezvous with a methane burp (or clathrate gun, as some call it) scenario. As the last bit of text quoted above points out, we don’t know where the tipping point is, even if we assume that these latest findings hold up to scientific scrutiny. And to be completely objective, they might not, although that’s not how I would bet my Internet connection right now.

For me, there are two factors that elevate the methane apocalypse from “dumb thing I read on the Internet and can now ignore” to “something I really hope we’re spending a lot of money researching, right now“. The first is the rate at which climate change is happening, not least of all in the Arctic ice situation, as shown on the home page of the NSIDC (National Snow and Ice Data Center). I’ve pointed out numerous times on this site that the worldwide climate is changing much quicker than we expected, which means that despite the best efforts of a lot of extremely smart and dedicated people we still don’t understand what’s going on as well as we’d prefer. Will the changes we’re seeing level off or even decline over the next few years? Or will feedback effects, from albedo flip (reflective ice being replaced by less reflective water or ground) to methane releases accelerate change, possibly to the point where no reduction in our CO2 emissions will save the day?

The other factor is the similarity of the scenario outlined in the last article I quoted from above to our current situation. The critical difference is that in 2008 we’re changing the CO2 level in the atmosphere at a lightning fast pace, by geologic standards, and with virtually no hope of reducing that buildup this century. We could very well be running, at full-speed and blindfolded, into the mother of all tipping points and triggering catastrophic effects in a few decades instead of hundreds or thousands of years.

Maybe the situation isn’t that dire. Maybe this is all a lot of worry over nothing, and there are negative feedbacks we either haven’t discovered or grossly underestimate that will buy us considerable time to reduce our CO2 emissions and then the level of CO2 in the atmosphere. But right now, it feels more like we’re playing Russian roulette with the biosphere instead of being prudent and applying the precautionary principle.

Everyone worries about natural disasters, and even meteor strikes. But how about a scenario where earth’s temperature rose 10-20 degrees over a couple of decades? Billions of deaths from mass-migration, hundred-foot sea-level rises, wars, lack of fresh water and starvation would inevitably ensue.

It seems like such sci-fi that nobody even wants to talk about it. But the fossil record shows that when the climate reaches a tipping point, such changes can happen with devastating speed. We could find out that the price of fossil energy could be the permanent demise of the very civilization it enabled. Oh, the irony.

Even if there were a 1% chance of this ocurring, aren’t the stakes high enough that we should at least have that conversation?


Comments (28 comments)

bulldada / June 1st, 2008, 8:15 am / #1

Black Sun: You went from one doomsday cult to another, the Global Warming Cult.

Valhar2000 / June 1st, 2008, 9:50 am / #2

You are right, Bulldada. It is high time that Blacksun realized that the only doomsday cult worth following is Jesus Christ.

BlackSun / June 1st, 2008, 11:19 am / #3

Buldada,

your comments are getting increasingly rude, (beginning with the Obama article). If you had some new information to add, that would be one thing. But all you’re doing is expressing a very uneducated opinion in the face of mountains of scientific evidence. Have you even looked at the evidence? Do you even care? Or are you so convinced that you think all you have to do is cry “Cult” and that settles the matter? I am not in any way advocating preparing for doomsday. I asking people to have a conversation, and look at their carbon footprint, and see what kinds of policy changes may make sense to support renewable energy–instead of blindly continuing something that may cause irreversible and harmful changes to the planet we all share. Opposing such a reasonable course of action just makes you sound foolish.

If you want to take part in that conversation, then by all means, do your research. And I don’t mean just dig up a bunch of climate change denial weblinks. I mean really go study what the climate scientists have been saying. I have a bunch of actual science links prominently displayed on a tab on this site. There is also realclimate.org.

But my patience is not unlimited. If you continue to make crackpot abusive comments, I will be forced to ban you.

bulldada / June 1st, 2008, 2:31 pm / #4

Blacksun: What about the other side of the argument? You do realize that their is one? You ask me to do the research, but not from websites or sources that speak skeptically about it? Have you looked at both sides of the story? This global warming “epidemic” seems like one great big fad to me. And I call it a cult because its managed to turn nearly every american into a doomssayer these days. How about this: You do a bunch of research and not just from global warming believers…

BlackSun / June 1st, 2008, 2:47 pm / #5

Bulldada,

I’ve done the research, and so has the U.N. (IPCC report), and every legitimate scientific organization in the world. You can read the Stern report. This is a settled issue. There is no real controversy. Read Scientific American, New Scientist, Physorg, or any other reputable journal. They all say the same thing.

You may be able to produce a bunch of people who dispute the information, but they rely on the general public’s ignorance of scientific methods and the layman’s inability to properly evaluate claims. That is not skepticism.

Skepticism is looking critically and with a scientific eye at the available information. Not clinging forever to the “two sides of the argument” attitude. Sometimes (about factual matters) there are not two sides to the argument. Sometimes there is only one. Here are some things that are both fact and theory, and are beyond dispute:

Gravity
Evolution
Newton’s laws (except at near-light speeds)
Einstein’s Theory of Relativity
Atomic theory of matter

and many more.

And added to the list within the past 10 years:

Anthropogenic Global Warming

For real. Deal with it. At this point to question such overwhelming evidence is turning your back on reason and getting damn close to a conspiracy theory. There’s something pathological about clinging to a position when 98% of all scientists say the opposite. Are they all morons? Think about it.

Elizadeath / June 1st, 2008, 4:02 pm / #6

What I really find funny is ‘the only doomsday cult worth following is jesus christ’. That is just too much!!!
Seriously though, you have to be a complete and utter moron not to ackowledge that there is a serious climate shift happening. But I guess for you, bulldada, it’s just so much more convienent to just brush it all off. Perhaps it won’t be for a another 20 years, but at some point in this century, there WILL be a dramatic difference on this planet, of course assuming we don’t blow ourselves up first. It’s the process of natural selection…we are destroying our planet and each other, so somewhere along the way, nature (this whole planet is a living organism) is going to boot us off.
Besides, quite few times it has been shown that the vast majority of ‘scientists’ who have claimed that it’s all a hoax, well, guess who funds their grants? Exxon, Debeers, ect.

Rusty / June 1st, 2008, 7:43 pm / #7

Get a grip, Blacksun. Jesus is coming any day now to save good Christians like me and send you to a fiery box in hell! Forever!

And you’re worried about global warming? People pay lots of money to go to warm places. You, however, should be concerned about the word “hot,” like “hot as hell.” My pastor claims that hell is 20% hotter than it was just ten years ago, and he talks to God everyday.

Hmmm…a disturbing number of Americans would agree with the above. 40% of those who voted for Bush in 2004 were professionally brainwashed and ultra-delusional Evangelicals. To me, they’re a big part of the politics of global warming.

A Christian who worries about global warming is subject to ridicule for a lack of faith, right? Having true faith in the Second Coming coming in a matter of seconds (relatively) makes global warming a non-issue. Never underestimate the insanity behind the opposition…I’d like to know the religious belief breakdown of global warming skeptics.

Finally, wouldn’t it be nice if someone developed a car that runs on compressed cow farts? Kill two birds with one stone…and increase the market for car air fresheners exponentially.

bulldada / June 1st, 2008, 8:18 pm / #8

Wrong Blacksun.

There is always an argument.

And not 98% of scientists think anthropocentric global warming is real. And according to your logic, I can not refute this, since if I mention skeptical claims of global warming I’m getting them from “climate change denial weblinks”. Nice trap for your fans to nod their heads in.

And you say: “You may be able to produce a bunch of people who dispute the information, but they rely on the general public’s ignorance of scientific methods and the layman’s inability to properly evaluate claims.”

What makes you think so? You think the average American is that stupid? I agree, the public is generally ignorant, hell, most people think this country is a Democracy (it is not, by the way).

And I totally agree with your statment:

Skepticism is looking critically and with a scientific eye at the available information. Not clinging forever to the “two sides of the argument” attitude.

But no empiracle (forgive my spelling, I suspect it’s wrong) evidence has shown that global warming is true. NONE. Therefore, it’s still up for debate and it is wrong for you- a so called skeptic- to be on the alarmist side of the debate.

Look at both sides Blacksun. Believe it or not, their are (at least) two.

BlackSun / June 2nd, 2008, 12:57 am / #9

Bulldada,

You’ve come up completely empty handed in the last comment, so I’ll take that as a concession. Simple assertion is far from proof. The evidence is not on your side, and sadly for all of us, we are about to witness the results of the biggest man-made science experiment in history. The only remaining question is how bad and how far-reaching will the impact be?

As far as climate change deniers, I’m not discounting them because they’re deniers, but because their evidence does not hold up. If peer-reviewed evidence could be produced to support your position, it already would have been. But climate change deniers get laughed out of the room in legitimate scientific circles these days. And their only defense is to cry conspiracy.

Sounds a lot like the evolution-denying “intelligent-design” crowd. And yes, many of the American people really are that stupid.

But no empiracle (forgive my spelling, I suspect it’s wrong) evidence has shown that global warming is true. NONE.

And your statement is blatantly false. Go look at the Climate Change tab on this website. A good place to start. Unless you’ve already made up your mind in spite of the overwhelming evidence and you’re just pretending it doesn’t exist.

Again, I don’t have infinite patience. Since you claim there is no evidence and there are mountains of it, you are either grossly misinformed or you’re being intellectually dishonest.

Which is it?

Luis Dias / June 2nd, 2008, 7:10 am / #10

Blacksun, I’m sorry but considering your post about religious cults like oh for instance, Olduvai’s Gorge, you seem rather persuasive in your own new cult: catastrophic Global Warming. You claim to have science on your back, and yet you only provide a study or two. I generally agree with the scientific consensus, that there is a global warming, and that GHGs are a part of it, but there is no consensus on the CO2 sensitivity, (is it 1.5º? 3º? 6º?) but it seems that the preachers of hell on earth are becoming more and more disheartened with the fact that the globe isn’t warming as fast as expected by their analysis. They need therefore these “tipping points”, these runaway goals, that, when we arrive there, there’s no solution possible. Talk about fear politics! If this ain’t the new mainstream religious alternative to the rapture, I don’t know what it is.

I deeply doubt that the climate on Earth is runaway sensitive, because of the simple fact that it’s been here like 5 billion years and it hasn’t turned itself into Venus. If anything, we are in danger of returning to an ice age, not a venus-age.

Like you said, methane is hardly a problem, for even cows present a bigger issue than Siberia, and yet, this doesn’t stop headlines in the media to cover any slip that goes through the scientific journals about it.

So stop the nonsensical fear mongering about this issue. Peak oil will solve many of these things, as the IPCC report doesn’t even account for a peak oil in the 21st century! They think that oil, gas and coal will all grow up production until the end of the century. And they mostly predict a 2º increase based on that unreal impossibility. So, if anything, there will be a hardly noticeable increase of temp because of GHG over the entire century, discarding any sudden increases or decreases of sun activities, volcanoes, or anything else.

Don’t take me serious though. I always found that predictions of weather / climate in the order of centuries a completely stupid thing to even consider. The amount of unknowns in the climate are simply too many for the arrogance shown by some catastrophists who wrongly claim they are the ones on the “consensus” side…

BlackSun / June 2nd, 2008, 8:03 am / #11

Luis (and bulldada), I sincerely hope you are right and the scientists are all wrong. But I’m not willing to bet the future of 7 billion people on it. Yours seems to me to be the far more reckless and arrogant position.

As far as cult is concerned? Go back and read the post. I said: here’s some evidence. Let’s talk about something that seems to me to be kind of important. Is it not you who is overreacting?

Why the vitriol? If we give up dirty energy and learn how to live with clean renewable energy, and it turns out not to have been necessary, we still get tremendous benefits. If we do the opposite, and it turns out to be a mistake, there are no do overs.

Why is it that people such as yourself can be all about the empirical evidence and then deny something like climate change which is backed by so much of it? Cognitive dissonance? Argument from consequence? I would have thought by now BSJ readers would be past the basic logical fallacies.

Luis Dias / June 3rd, 2008, 4:44 am / #12

Blacksun, your comment is telling:

“I sincerely hope you are right and the scientists are all wrong”

What you are ignoring is that a fringe of scare-mongerers like Hansen dr. “Hockey Stick” and his pals do not count as the whole of science. They are pressing their views onto the public, with help of Al Gore and many others, who are not scientists at all. If you check thoroughly unto the very studies that say that the scientists are in a “consensus”, such consensus differs on what exactly is in “consensus”. It’s a choice of words. The real consensus is that GW is real and that there is a human induced GHG that are contributing to it.

That’s it! The consensus STOPS there. Hey, I agree with that consensus since the 80s! But you see, the rethorics only start in this point, pointing to evidences of even more pressing dangers, with fear-mongering zealots who are talking as if in the name of “science”, berating any skeptics of their own personal histeria as “deniers of GW”, when they are nothing of the sort. It’s a polarization scheme of a fringe, who preaches their hellish stories and denies any contradictory study with a condescending remark “it’s a science still evolving” (as in the recent studies who show no correlation between hurricanes and global warming), but fully embrace a study when going in the direction they want. The media only shows then that side of the issue. How many times you were said that the ice sheet was falling apart in the summer of 2007? And then compare it to the many times you were said that the ice sheet fully recovered in the very cold winter of 2008?

I’m no denier, Blacksun, and I really regret your comment about Cognitive Dissonance, it was uncalled for. I am as excited about renewables revolution which I think is happening right now as you are, but I hate the scare-mongering priests. Be them of Christianhood, Peak Oil, Die-Off or Global Warming. There are no coincidences that these groups oftenly embrace a sense of self-guilt, of doom-fate, of a “higher judge” (the planet, in this case) which will judge you for being too rich, consume too much, and always equate capitalism with satanism. Their solutions are population culling and poverty. See this appaling case, where ABC posted a game for children which says that if you are an “average” consumer, you should die at age of 9 years old. This is the root of my problem with this scare. Unless people are willing to talk reasonably with these subjects, they ain’t gonna get me at their twisted version of Pascal’s Wager (but if you do nothing, we end up in hell!!).

BlackSun / June 3rd, 2008, 8:15 am / #13

What you are ignoring is that a fringe of scare-mongerers like Hansen dr. “Hockey Stick” and his pals do not count as the whole of science. They are pressing their views onto the public, with help of Al Gore and many others, who are not scientists at all. If you check thoroughly unto the very studies that say that the scientists are in a “consensus”, such consensus differs on what exactly is in “consensus”.

Luis, you’re just digging yourself in deeper, and revealing yourself as a biased and uncritical thinker. Here is a list of the scientific organizations who agree with Hansen’s so-called "alarmist" position:

* 1.1 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2007
* 1.2 InterAcademy Council
* 1.3 Joint science academies’ statement 2007
* 1.4 Joint science academies’ statement 2005
* 1.5 Joint science academies’ statement 2001
* 1.6 International Council of Academies of Engineering and Technological Sciences
* 1.7 European Academy of Sciences and Arts
* 1.8 Network of African Science Academies
* 1.9 National Research Council (US)
* 1.10 International Council for Science
* 1.11 European Science Foundation
* 1.12 American Association for the Advancement of Science
* 1.13 Federation of American Scientists
* 1.14 World Meteorological Organization
* 1.15 American Meteorological Society
* 1.16 Royal Meteorological Society (UK)
* 1.17 Australian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society
* 1.18 Canadian Meteorological and Oceanographic Society
* 1.19 Canadian Foundation for Climate and Atmospheric Sciences
* 1.20 International Union for Quaternary Research
* 1.21 American Quaternary Association
* 1.22 Stratigraphy Commission of the Geological Society of London
* 1.23 International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics
* 1.24 International Union of Geological Sciences
* 1.25 European Geosciences Union
* 1.26 Canadian Federation of Earth Sciences
* 1.27 Geological Society of America
* 1.28 American Geophysical Union
* 1.29 American Astronomical Society
* 1.30 American Institute of Physics
* 1.31 American Physical Society
* 1.32 American Chemical Society
* 1.33 Engineers Australia (The Institution of Engineers Australia)
* 1.34 Federal Climate Change Science Program (US)

And another statement from the Wikipedia article (did you bother to even look at it before shooting from the hip??)

With the July 2007 release of the revised statement by the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, no remaining scientific body of national or international standing is known to reject the basic findings of human influence on recent climate.[45]

If anything, science panels and the IPCC report have been watered down from the true gravity of the situation. But scientists speaking more candidly have painted a dire picture. But even the watered down scenarios have economic impacts in the trillions. You can’t say that peak oil will solve the problem, because most of the C02 will come from coal burning power plants. Luis, I suggest you open your eyes.

Luis Dias / June 3rd, 2008, 8:58 am / #14

Blacksun, I will refrain of ever commenting in here again if you offend my intelligence again. Did you even bothered to read my comment? It is painfully obvious that you didn’t.

From wikipedia itself:

“These assessments have largely followed or endorsed the IPCC position that “An increasing body of observations gives a collective picture of a warming world and other changes in the climate system… There is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributable to human activities.”[1]

From my comment:

“The real consensus is that GW is real and that there is a human induced GHG that are contributing to it.”

Where is the cognitive dissonance on that, Blacksun? Never did I say that GW is not real and that “all” the scientists are wrong. Remember, your post is not about the IPCC report 2007, but about a theory that postulates that *when* methane bursts completely into the atmosphere, then TSHTF. Where is that stated in the IPCC report? It doesn’t even tries to prove it with empirical evidence or historical evidence. It only says so because it is possible.

You want to discuss IPCC report though? Let’s!

From wikipedia:

The TAR estimate for the climate sensitivity is 1.5 to 4.5 °C; and the average surface temperature is projected to increase by 1.4 to 5.8 Celsius degrees over the period 1990 to 2100, and the sea level is projected to rise by 0.1 to 0.9 meters over the same period.

So it’s all over the place. From a mere nuisance (1.5ºC) to a grave concern (4.5ºC), and 0.9m is hardly the 6 meters that Al Gore fear-mongered in his movie. But we have to put salt on this, because:

The IPCC concedes that there is a need for better models and better scientific understanding of some climate phenomena, as well as the uncertainties involved. Critics assert that the data is insufficient to determine the real importance of greenhouse gases in climate change. Sensitivity of climate to greenhouse gases may be overestimated or underestimated because of flaws in the models and because the importance of some external factors may be misestimated. The predictions are based on scenarios, and the IPCC did not assign any probability to the 35 scenarios used,

… so it could even be worse! Or yet, it could even be less of a nuisance. How can we possibly know?

Hint. There is a clue. And it comes from peak carbon. In the oil drum, fig 10:

Future fossil-fuel carbon emissions for our Producer-Limited Profile, together with the 40 IPCC scenarios. The curves show a major defect of the IPCC scenarios – they are not defined past 2100. In many of the scenarios, fossil-fuel production has not peaked by then.

and,

We convert future hydrocarbon and coal production to atmospheric carbon emission using EIA coefficients and plot them as the Producer-Limited Profile in Figure 10, together with the carbon emissions from the 40 scenarios.The Producer-Limited Profile has lower emissions than any of the 40 scenarios. This would be true even if we calculated the emissions with the full coal reserves. Jean Laherrere was the first to call attention to this anomalous situation.

So, reality will be even better than the best case scenario of the IPCC!

Who’s without a thinking head now, Blacksun?

BlackSun / June 3rd, 2008, 10:53 am / #15

Luis,

The fact that there is controversy over the degree of warming means that there is at least a possibility that we may be in trouble. Which is why we need to examine worst-case as well as best-case scenarios. This is all I was ever saying, and you accused me of being a member of a CULT:

it seems that the preachers of hell on earth are becoming more and more disheartened with the fact that the globe isn’t warming as fast as expected by their analysis. They need therefore these “tipping points”, these runaway goals, that, when we arrive there, there’s no solution possible. Talk about fear politics! If this ain’t the new mainstream religious alternative to the rapture, I don’t know what it is.

This is not a black and white situation. There are probabilities involved. We need to act based on two imperatives:

1) What would be the result of inaction in an worst-case-scenario?

2) What is the actual probability of such a scenario?

And then do a cost-benefit analysis. Such an analysis was done in the Stern report.

But the Stern report looked only at the economics of small incremental changes, not what might happen if whole populations were displaced or climate tipping points were reached. As far as I know, methane releases and ocean current shutdowns were not considered.

Even with all the criticisms of the Stern report, (and there have been many), no one has come up with a credible alternative. So are you willing to play dice with the human race? That pretty much what it sounds like, Luis. Saying “How could we possibly know?” is a cop out and an admission of failure, ignorance and weakness on an epic scale. We need to make it our business to know. Sitting passively by ignoring the situation while we could possibly be in the process of cooking our grandchildren is not an option.

There is a new consensus forming around the idea that climate change lags the increase in CO2 by decades or even longer. Bill McKibben, Hansen and others have recently begun to establish a significant body of evidence to the idea that 350ppm is what we need to get back to if we want any semblance of a livable climate.

That info is being compiled at 350.org.

Whether or not 350 is a magic number is not important. What is important is that people on both sides of the issue recognize that the truth is the truth, no matter how you might feel about it. We have to go on evidence and probabilities. We cannot rely on informal logic or personal incredulity (i.e. I can’t see how the idea of tipping points could be real) or hysterical accusations of doomsaying.

If I talk about meteor strike causing massive destruction and possibly extinction, no one calls me an alarmist. In fact, The Atlantic just did a huge story on it. Climate change only engenders such raging objections from doubters because it requires us to act.

(Actually, the meteor strike scenario also argues strongly for development of planetary defenses–based on probability alone–but I digress)

Your comparison to Pascal’s wager fails spectacularly. Because Pascal’s wager relies on the idea that there is no access to information about life after death. We do have access to vast data and evidence on climate change.

Discussion of climate change worst-case-scenarios doesn’t make one a religious fanatic, any more than would discussion of a worst-case epidemic, terrorist attack or meteor strike scenario. In order to have any possibility of mitigation, worst-case needs to be considered. Along with all other possibilities. That was the only point of my original article.

BlackSun / June 3rd, 2008, 11:27 am / #16

Luis,

I also want to add that your careless association of climate change awareness with belief in such superstitions as the “Olduvai Gorge” is completely specious. Olduvai theory is overarching nonsense (i.e. industrial civilization has a lifespan of 100 years) that has already been proved wrong. It’s a neo-Malthusian wet dream. It also fails to take into account any technological developments or shifts to renewable energy.

Comparing my position on climate change to this superstitious crap is more offensive to intelligence than anything I ever said.

Dana Dee McCormick » I luv teh internets. / June 3rd, 2008, 2:58 pm / #17

[…] I stumbled across a “new” threat to our future. The Methane Belch which could significantly increase the rate of global warming. However you feel about this particular theory I kinda like this guy’s idea (even though his reasoning obviously has flaws, as this less well-spoken guy is quick to point out.) Or, perhaps, we could go along with Randall Munroe: […]

Luis Dias / June 4th, 2008, 4:16 pm / #18

BlackSun:

This is all I was ever saying, and you accused me of being a member of a CULT:

I didn’t accuse you of nothing but naiveté at worst. Nowhere did I equate you to those preachers of doom that I mentioned. I’m talking specifically at RealClimate, Michael Mann, Tamino and Gavin. You’re only spreading their fear.

1) What would be the result of inaction in an worst-case-scenario?
2) What is the actual probability of such a scenario?

Well, those are great questions! What is the actual probability? If you look in the IPCC, they don’t even tell you the odds of their analysis! The only odds they will give you are spawned from the disparity of the solutions of their own models, not even considering the very odds of those models being right or wrong! So, what are the odds really?

Well, considering that they have poor knowledge of entire parts of the climate, and that we know the climate to be chaotic, I suspect that the odds are all over the place. Let’s face it, climatology is still in its infancy and is already faced with incredible pressure from society to give results. It’s unreal.

There is a new consensus forming around the idea that climate change lags the increase in CO2 by decades or even longer.

And there’s also a consensus forming around the idea that CO2 lags the increase of climate temperature by about 800 years, considering the very ice cores that Al Gore infamously brought about the screen.

There’s also a consensus about the logarithmic effect of CO2, meaning that if you double CO2’s concentration, then the effect on climate change is way less than double. If you quadruple it, it barely touches double effect and so on. There’s also a consensus that CO2 is not the “major” problem at all. The sensitivity is less than 1ºC given a double CO2 scenario.

Why the fuss, then, you may ask? Simple. It’s because of positive feedbacks. The models always assume positive feedbacks, multiplying the CO2 sensitivity by a factor of 3 or 4. Worse, they base this on assumptions, for they don’t even know how, for instance, water plays out in this equation. Is it a negative feedback (clouds), or a positive one (water vapour)? No one knows! But nevertheless, we are told that we should take the positive feedbacks as more reliant, because, hey, because they are more frightening!

If I talk about meteor strike causing massive destruction and possibly extinction, no one calls me an alarmist. In fact, The Atlantic just did a huge story on it. Climate change only engenders such raging objections from doubters because it requires us to act.

But the worse of it is that no one is doing anything about it, when they could and should! Instead of monitoring asteroids, we are wasting billions on building supercomputers for climatologists who, for 20 years of research and computing improvements, were always unable to diminish the error bars of their models.

Don’t get me wrong. I love science. I just hate prima donnas who behave just as they own science and equate skeptics to holocaust deniers, while their own science can’t even cope with the basic litmus test of science, which is falsifiability. You can’t falsify GW! Isn’t that great? If the climate goes warmer, then, GW is tested, if it goes cooler, it is “noise”, “fluctuations”, “we are still learning”, “weather is different than climate”, etc. You can’t falsify this thing, even considering almost ten years straight of global stagnation or even cooling!

So, yes, I do think it is Pascal’s Wager, because you are only able to test this theory if you let decades go through, but these people are pressing for action right now, long before such litmus test.

After saying this, I also do think that Governments should take policies advised by the IPCC report. Yes, that’s true, because even if they are completely wrong, politics should always have a tradition of following, or at least considering the scientists advise on these matters. I do fear however that we are entering an age of scientism, censorship and intolerance, and the major victim that will suffer…

… is science itself.

Comparing my position on climate change to this superstitious crap is more offensive to intelligence than anything I ever said.

Why is it? Albeit one is far more intelligent than the other, both suffer from the same faulty and incomplete correlation techniques, fear-mongering and religion-based morality. I see them as quite similar in fact. But if one is only believed by a stupid fringe, the other is quite mainstream and sophisticated. It’s only a matter of scale.

Your offense on my intelligence was that you simply ignored what I said and went on to take me as a stupid strawman.

Gracie / June 5th, 2008, 8:28 am / #19

One of the difficulties I have as I exit the cult I am in is coping with doomsday-esque global warming scenarios.

These are such similar predictions that were made by my cult Guru (including melting of the ice-caps which he made years ago).

Every time I see one of those headlines or read of another catastrophic natural disaster, it triggers me into thinking I should buckle down again, start practicing my global energy healing techniques and preparing myself mentally to survive the coming apocalypse. *sigh*

As an ex cult member maybe I won’t make it to the golden ‘New Era’ after all, but I’d rather be a normal person these days than someone who is out to save all of humanity from the coming global socio-economic collapse.

If you guys don’t mind, I’d rather have dinner with my boyfriend and play with my cat than meditate and send energy to heal the earth.

I’d rather put in an eco friendly light-bulb and take the bus to work than devote any more time to photocopying documents on energy transfer techniques.

If one of you gets sick in front of me, I hope it’s okay if I just go ahead and call the doctor instead of laying on hands to help you out?

In the meantime I’ll do everything within my practical ability to eliminate my carbon footprint.

I hope you guys can manage this thing on your own without my cosmic super-powers. :)

Luis Dias / June 12th, 2008, 5:07 am / #20

Lol, Gracie.

That’s fine by me. :)

Rusty / June 12th, 2008, 7:42 am / #21

“If you guys don’t mind, I’d rather have dinner with my boyfriend and play with my cat than meditate and send energy to heal the earth.”

I love your attitude, Gracie. I thought I was Jesus five different times during intense manic episodes. I was the energy, and I was sent to heal the earth…but obviously I failed. :)

It’s kind of stressful when you think you’re responsible for saving the world, with the total destruction of the universe if you fail. At the time, I had supreme, psychotic confidence in my mad skills for merging heaven and earth. I was Luke and it was my destiny.

So, I also embrace this line as well: “I hope you guys can manage this thing on your own without my cosmic super-powers.”

My thoughts exactly. And I’ll keep taking my anti-Jesus pills. :)

Poison / June 21st, 2008, 9:28 pm / #22

Just ignore the idiots, BlacSun. It made for an interesting and scary read on a scientific possibility. You predicted rightly that no one wants to accept the idea.
The good news, though, is that the world is turning more and more to alternative and renewable forms of energy. Let’s hope America follows suit.

heather / June 22nd, 2008, 7:26 am / #23

1) I really admire your patience in responding to the fools.
2) I know that one can’t personally identify the effects of climate change over a few years, so this is purely anecdotal. (Although my impressions support the scientific consensus.)
But, here in the UK, it certainly feels like the climate is fucked, comparing the current weather with that of only a couple of decades ago – unseasonal volumes of rain, massive increases in flooding.
3) Even – assuming for the sake of argument the absurd position that climate change isn’t happening – how could addressing the things that might cause it be a problem in any way?

Luis Dias / July 7th, 2008, 11:49 am / #24

Thank you, Poison and Heather, for your ad hominem attacks which added nothing to the argument at cause. It is really inspiring, specially coming from people who label themselves as “Rationalists” and “Critical Thinkers”, as if those titles were only pins that one chooses to wear or not, rather than attitudes that one should strive to have.

Read this page if you want to see something different than is currently being regurgitated by MSM. I am sorry for the lack of design over there, but the old man doesn’t understand much of design.

Uriel / July 29th, 2008, 1:47 pm / #25

BlackSun- Having grown up in CUT myself, and having thoroughly divested myself of their tenets, I’m happy to see you out and about doing this. I would only like to add another dimension to the discussion at hand: http://www.oism.org/project
I’m not a scientist. I’ve managed to spend a decade and a half in and out of college without getting a single degree in the process, but these guys seem to stand on the other end of the fence on the global warming dispute (it’s not a debate any more, on this thread or anywhere else). Their data, while admittedly a bit beyond my understanding, seems to refute, in the final analysis, the notion of anthropogenic glabal warming. I’d love for you to take a look through it and comment.

BlackSun / July 30th, 2008, 12:01 pm / #26

Hi Uriel,

And cheers to you for your de-conversion.

Re: AGW. This deserves another full-length article. But think about this: Why is it that people will look at a tiny obscure research institute and give their statement more credence than the entire scientific establishment? I mean when you’re dealing with evidentiary questions, we all have to agree on a consistent standard for evidence. For me, it’s consensus. Since I can’t analyze raw data myself, I have to look at the credibility of the organizations supporting it. In this case, I listed them above, and that’s enough for me. It’s also incredibly damning to the OISM that their presentation is posted on the Discovery Institute website, a notorious creationist pseudo-research organization that’s been pushing the inclusion of “intelligent design” in textbooks.

That’s guilt by association, I understand. But here’s a more cogent argument that should give so-called “climate skeptics” pause: What if the balance were tipped the other way? What if the preponderance of the world’s scientific organizations had concluded that there was no AGW? In that case, I think we could all feel just fine in dismissing it and continuing to emit as much C02 as possible.

But that’s not the case. So I think we need to focus our attention on the motivation of the “skeptics.” They want to continue the status quo and not focus on their changing their consumptive habits or developing better energy technology. Another thought experiment: If fixing AGW didn’t cost anything, do you think we’d see the level of vehemence and opposition that we do today? Not a chance.

And for all their blustering about costs, the “climate skeptics” have completely ignored the costs of inaction, should predictions turn out to be true. The inundation of coastal cities and the melting of glaciers could trigger a human catastrophe which couldn’t even be measured in the trillions of dollars. It would be beyond cost accounting. If there’s even a slight chance that might occur, then we must act.

Even if it were not for these risks, de-carbonizing energy will provide massive benefits to humanity. It’s one of the most important paradigm shifts humanity has ever undertaken. As this technology moves forward and the world improves, the deniers will find themselves increasingly marginalized.

Uriel / July 30th, 2008, 12:25 pm / #27

De-conversion? Hah! I haven’t bought into that crap since I was about 12 (18 years ago). Just took me thinking the tiniest bit out of the box to figure it out. Your mom named me, by the way. My own dad didn’t have enough balls to pick one himself, ran to ye olde spiritual advisor in residence for a name for me. Actually I think you beat me up once back in Malibu at the Ranch there. I was probably 6 or so, and a mouthy little bastard back then, I’m pretty sure I had it coming. Any advice you have for me to give my little brother? Upon returning from a tour of duty in Afghanistan, he went whole hog BACK into CUT. Talk about embarrasing… But then again, the rest of the immediate family is ensnared in that bunch of willful ignorance and hatred so I guess they’re adults and allowed to engage in whatever stupidity the law will allow…

You’re absolutely correct on the points you’ve made. As a society, nation and as one of the developed countries of the world, Americans are, for the most part (and certainly if you’re one of the Bush family owning what, 40% of ExxonMobile?) not interested in paring down. We love our SUVs, big-screen TVs, (and computers, HUGE consumers of power), and seem reticent at best to relinquish them.

It’s one of the central problems with the relationship between technology and natural resources. Humans are lazy bastards by nature, the easier we can make it on ourselves, the better, and we’re going to be pissed when we suddently have a toxic (or innundated) environment to survive in, rather than playing in our current lap of luxury, with “unlimited” natural resources and (relatively) clean surroundings. Some sort of a wake-up call is required, but what will people listen to?

Hopefully something. The world is going to get really cramped really fast if the polar ice does melt and our coasts recede by a hundred miles, on each side…

Doris Anne Tracey / April 21st, 2015, 2:06 pm / #28

I understand that the planet would become an ice ball without methane and the cows probably always farted methane. Also there are no water reserves in California. The water is dumped into the ocean to preserve a certain type of fish. Yes there is climate change and there always was. There was a drought in California a while back that lasted 250 yrs. The climate is semi arid. I do think we are polluting our earth in a nightmarish way and we are suffering and will continue to suffer until this changes. All we have to do is stop polluting our waters and the earth and nature will clean the environment naturally. The elemental kingdom will gladly help with the process.

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