Saturday, February 05, 2005

The Polar Bear Crisis

While Bush is hyping the non-existent problems with Social Security so he can dismantle the program, he's not losing any sleep over the other crises that will hit us even sooner:

Fearing Fear Itself: Social Security and Other 21st Century Disasters
...By 2026, for example, the planet could be an average of 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than it was in the 18th century, which would completely erase the seasonal ice—already eroding at over 9% a decade—by the end of the century. It’s also a big enough change to lead to the extinction of several species of seals, birds and—get this—polar bears.
What gives conservatives the right to destroy every last one of our (yours, mine, and, if you believe, God's) Polar Bears? Nothing but money is sacred to these people.


Anonymous said...

"could be" an average 3.6 F warmer.

After some research on this (again) after a recent meeting where GW was discussed:

1) any website using the year 1860 as a starting point is fudging the data since up to 1860 we were in a colder climate period

2) ice core samples who the temps on earth in the last 10,000 years (100,000 years??) are MORE stable than they've ever been. If you look at a graph, the early period temp fluctuations are frightening. The recent years are anomalously stable.

3) I don't think it's money that make the RR not care about these things as much as it is millenialism (second coming of Christ which is, incidentally, a METEORITE impact event per Revelation). You know the "god GAVE us earth to do with what we want" attitude.

Your blog is excellent (on a daily basis).


Doctor Logic said...

Hi JL,

Thank you for the compliment!

It's true that there are global temperature variations independent of human activity. For example, there's a theory that global cooling (due to a Pacific volcanic eruption) was one of the factors that precipitated the Dark Ages. It's also known that the Renaissance Europe enjoyed unusually warm seasons.

We know that Carbon Dioxide levels are correlated with global temperatures (from ice cores). We have scientific models for greenhouse effects that back up CO2 as a cause of global warming, even if we don't know how the climate system works in detail. Assuming the system is stable, i.e., there's no runaway greenhouse or runaway freezing, then it's plausible that our CO2 emissions could lead to warming-cooling oscillations. Either way, what we know is that humans have doubled the amount of CO2 in Earth's atmosphere. A very dangerous experiment.

We might not be able to reverse the damage fast enough to avert desertification or flooding of coastal cities. However, I don't think it's wise for Republicans to continue to exacerbate the problem, and then cite previous natural, climatic upheavals (like those of the late Triassic) as reasons for doing nothing.

Your comment about millenialism is plausible, though surreal. Ellen Goodman, President of American Atheists, once said that, growing up, she never expected to end up as a lobbyist for reality.


Doctor Logic said...

Oops! The warming period was not in the Renaissance, I was thinking of the Medieval Climate Optimum between the 10th and 14th centuries.

This is what you get when you learn your Renaissance history from Doctor Who episodes set in the 15th century.


Anonymous said...

Doctor Logic said:

Either way, what we know is that humans have doubled the amount of CO2 in Earth's atmosphere. A very dangerous experiment.

Everywhere I've read shows that humans input to Co2 is .3% or some incredibly tiny amount. I thought most Co2 comes from trees/green (and even the oceans??).

I'm not remotely convinced mankind COULD do anything to change the temp of the planet. For example, if we ever did get into GW trouble, just cause a volcanic eruption that puts enough soot into the air to start a nuclear winter (i.e. Krakatoa).