A "Lukewarmer's" thoughts on climate change

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A "Lukewarmer's" thoughts on climate change

Postby KnightExemplar » Fri Jun 19, 2015 7:00 pm UTC

TLDR: The world is getting warmer, and its probably man made. But it is also unlikely to make a major difference.

http://quadrant.org.au/magazine/2015/06 ... e-science/

I wasn't familiar with the "Lukewarmer" position on climate change, so I found the above article interesting. Anyone else got material on this viewpoint?
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Re: A "Lukewarmer's" thoughts on climate change

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Jun 19, 2015 7:08 pm UTC

Oh hey, I didn't know this had a name.

Guess that's what I am. Yeah, it's warming. Yeah, we're doing it. Those are easy. But some people have been systematically engaging in hyperbole to oversell the effects. There are effects, sure, and it's definitely bad in some cases, but it's not catacylsmic or anything.

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Re: A "Lukewarmer's" thoughts on climate change

Postby cphite » Fri Jun 19, 2015 7:16 pm UTC

This is why I love science.

Here we have an article saying that, yeah it's getting warmer but whatever, it'll be fine. And just this morning, I read this one:
http://phys.org/news/2010-06-humans-extinct-years-eminent-scientist.html

Which says that we're basically fucked, well past the point of doing anything about it, and we won't make it another hundred years as a species.

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Re: A "Lukewarmer's" thoughts on climate change

Postby morriswalters » Fri Jun 19, 2015 7:38 pm UTC

Scientists don’t like this lèse majesté, of course. But it’s the citizen science that the internet has long promised. This is what eavesdropping on science should be like—following the twists and turns of each story, the ripostes and counter-ripostes, making up your own mind based on the evidence.
The overall tone doesn't sound like lukewarm to me. And the concept of citizen science is absurd.
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Re: A "Lukewarmer's" thoughts on climate change

Postby Quercus » Fri Jun 19, 2015 8:05 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:And the concept of citizen science is absurd.

Why? There's no special rite of initiation that grants one the right to do, understand and critique science*. Nullius in verba and all that. Sure, most "citizen scientists" are not going to have the depth of knowledge of someone with formal scientific training, but that's purely a function of experience and skill, not a function of the number of letters after ones name. It does seem that a lot of what comes out of the citizen science movement is a little naive and not very rigorous, but that's an implementation issue, rather than a conceptual one.

As a concept, the idea that science doesn't come unquestioned from an hermetic priesthood in ivory towers, but rather has an open and defensible methodology based on freely accessible evidence, is extremely important, and is one of the main reasons why people should be able to trust science in a way that they can't trust many other forms of knowledge.

Note that I'm not saying that the article in question is any good. It could be complete horsecrap (I don't know, I've only skimmed it extremely briefly), but if it is that's because it's bad science ipso facto, not because it's written by a non-scientist.

*as far as I know, anyway - I'm a professional scientist, maybe I missed that day?

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Re: A "Lukewarmer's" thoughts on climate change

Postby commodorejohn » Fri Jun 19, 2015 8:34 pm UTC

Quercus wrote:Why? There's no special rite of initiation that grants one the right to do, understand and critique science*. Nullius in verba and all that. Sure, most "citizen scientists" are not going to have the depth of knowledge of someone with formal scientific training, but that's purely a function of experience and skill, not a function of the number of letters after ones name. It does seem that a lot of what comes out of the citizen science movement is a little naive and not very rigorous, but that's an implementation issue, rather than a conceptual one.

As a concept, the idea that science doesn't come unquestioned from an hermetic priesthood in ivory towers, but rather has an open and defensible methodology based on freely accessible evidence, is extremely important, and is one of the main reasons why people should be able to trust science in a way that they can't trust many other forms of knowledge.

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Re: A "Lukewarmer's" thoughts on climate change

Postby morriswalters » Fri Jun 19, 2015 9:27 pm UTC

Quercus wrote:Why? There's no special rite of initiation that grants one the right to do, understand and critique science*.
The letters at the end of your name serve a purpose, they are an effective shorthand for competence. A heuristic. What they tell me is that at a bare minimum you did something in school that convinced a University to give you a degree. The idea of the citizen scientist is a throwback to the era of Franklin, Jefferson, and many others of that era. The internet creates the illusion of knowledge, sad to say you still need to go to school. Would you want me in your lab giving you advice on how to do whatever it is that you do? Neither do I expect you to repair jet engines, or to fly a 747, or to take command on a nuclear submarine loaded with missiles carrying multiple independently targeted nuclear warheads, without training. It isn't possible to be competent at something requiring as much work as say, a doctor, without doing the work and spending the time. However I'm not dogmatic about it. This is merely my opinion.

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Re: A "Lukewarmer's" thoughts on climate change

Postby commodorejohn » Fri Jun 19, 2015 9:47 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:Consider who started XKCD and consider who posts here. This place can produce a subtle belief that everyone is as competent as the people here.

Of course not everyone is as competent at Science X as everyone else. But you don't get to exclude them from discussion just because they don't have a degree. That's just jackassery.
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Re: A "Lukewarmer's" thoughts on climate change

Postby Quercus » Fri Jun 19, 2015 10:13 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:sad to say you still need to go to school.

For some areas of science that's not really true anymore, at least if you count school as an actual place with actual buildings, thanks to MOOCs

Would you want me in your lab giving you advice on how to do whatever it is that you do?

No, but if you pointed out a mistake in something I'd written, I'd listen. This actually happened to us a few years back. A first year undergrad student who was in a journal club discussing one of our papers contacted us to point out a subtle, but potentially serious, error in it. Did we ignore them because they weren't yet trained? No, their observation had merit, so we dug through the original data, tracked the error back to a bug in an old version of some software we were using and published an erratum.

More generally lots of papers have various methodological flaws in them, and lots of the flaws aren't really that complicated to spot. I reckon I could teach someone with a high school science background how to spot a lot of them in about two days.

It isn't possible to be competent at something requiring as much work as say, a doctor, without doing the work and spending the time.

I quite agree. However, in science, it's the work and time that's important, not that they take place in a formal context. Also, maybe we are using the term differently, but a lot of people who I would class as citizen scientists do have science degrees, or even PhDs, but don't work in science any longer (and there are a lot of good reasons why you might give up a career in science that have nothing to do with being a bad scientist).

Looked at the other way round, it's vitally important not to be too reliant on the qualification heuristic, because lots of crappy science comes from people with very impressive qualifications. I'd say that, in my field, about 80% of primary research papers make some claim that is to some degree unjustified. You can't trust people in science based on their qualifications, or you end up believing the Nobel prize winner who thinks that DNA can teleport.

The major problem with citizen science is that it has no effective method of peer review, but that doesn't make all citizen science bad, it just means that it's unfiltered - you have to wade through an awful lot of junk to get to the good stuff. But if there is good stuff it's just as good regardless of where it comes from.

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Re: A "Lukewarmer's" thoughts on climate change

Postby morriswalters » Fri Jun 19, 2015 10:29 pm UTC

Separate the politics from the science. What I expect science to do is to study, consult, publish, peer review, and finally recommend. I expect that politicians as a group will act as their voting blocks do. There will be give and take and a consensus will develop about how much to do, if we do anything at all. The constituency part will be driven by money, as various stakeholders push and shove to be net winners. As it is there is a lot of bad science, people paid on both sides of the argument to produce FUD. We are in the FUD component now. The science itself won't be clear until some time far enough into the future to give us a sufficient baseline to gauge the models.

@Quercus
The amount of unfiltered in climate research on the internet is staggering. I accept your ideal as something I wish could be true, and maybe in your field it is. But those piss poor degrees that exist are the only semi reliable filter that I have. I respect your point of view but a discussion about Global Warming a year of so ago kinda changed my view of citizen science on this topic. Anyway don't take me too seriously, I'm a curmudgeon. :D

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Re: A "Lukewarmer's" thoughts on climate change

Postby Quercus » Fri Jun 19, 2015 10:42 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:The amount of unfiltered in climate research on the internet is staggering. I accept your ideal as something I wish could be true, and maybe in your field it is.
My field is genetics and immunology, so I've got the anti-GM lobby and the anti-vaxxer's to contend with, so I do have some idea what it's like out there.

But those piss poor degrees that exist are the only semi reliable filter that I have.

I'm beginning to realise that that's the issue here, and it's a bit of a catch 22. I can judge a lot of stuff fairly quickly without using that filter, but that's only because I have a fair few year's experience in doing that, because of my scientific training. Without that I can see why it would be tricky.

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Re: A "Lukewarmer's" thoughts on climate change

Postby schapel » Sat Jun 20, 2015 4:14 am UTC

KnightExemplar wrote:TLDR: The world is getting warmer, and its probably man made. But it is also unlikely to make a major difference.

http://quadrant.org.au/magazine/2015/06 ... e-science/

I wasn't familiar with the "Lukewarmer" position on climate change, so I found the above article interesting. Anyone else got material on this viewpoint?

The wording I see in the article is "dangerous" rather than "major difference". I would say that there's a major difference between those two terms.

I suppose it all depends on what you mean by "dangerous". If you mean "We're all gonna die!", then no, climate change will likely not be dangerous. We should be far more afraid of nuclear war or an asteroid impact, which could actually destroy civilization as we know it. Climate change is not likely to make much of a difference in my life or the lives of my children.

On the other hand, climate change could cost us many trillions of dollars. It would be wise to spend quite a chunk of money to attempt to avoid the worst effects of climate change. That means finding alternative sources of energy and improving energy efficiency. And we're going to need those alternative sources anyway as fossil fuels get harder to extract and begin to run out. Even if there were no climate change or ocean acidification from burning fossil fuels, it may already be time to move towards alternative energy sources. In any case, we are moving in that direction already.

I suppose the questions are really (1) What are the specific harmful effects of a warming climate, and (2) How much effort should we exert to avoid those effects?

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Re: A "Lukewarmer's" thoughts on climate change

Postby duckshirt » Sat Jun 20, 2015 4:50 am UTC

KnightExemplar wrote:TLDR: The world is getting warmer, and its probably man made. But it is also unlikely to make a major difference.
Anyone else got material on this viewpoint?

I think there's a chapter of Freakonomics that makes the same point, but I haven't read it.
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Re: A "Lukewarmer's" thoughts on climate change

Postby ucim » Sat Jun 20, 2015 4:50 am UTC

schapel wrote:I suppose the questions are really (1) What are the specific harmful effects of a warming climate[...]?
More to the point, harmful to whom?

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Re: A "Lukewarmer's" thoughts on climate change

Postby sardia » Sat Jun 20, 2015 5:42 am UTC

ucim wrote:
schapel wrote:I suppose the questions are really (1) What are the specific harmful effects of a warming climate[...]?
More to the point, harmful to whom?

Jose

Imagine if all your cropland and your water supplies moved 100 miles to the north. That would be a pain in the ass to relocate all your equipment, roads, etc etc just to get back to original production levels. You can't produce as much if all your prime land is shifting northwards. Now imagine doing that with heavier storms, extreme droughts, and flooding. Bad, but livable right? Now do it with no money, and a dozen hungry, poor neighboring groups wanting what you have. A recipe for strife and death on a global scale.

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Re: A "Lukewarmer's" thoughts on climate change

Postby Derek » Sat Jun 20, 2015 6:16 am UTC

sardia wrote:Imagine if all your cropland and your water supplies moved 100 miles to the north. That would be a pain in the ass to relocate all your equipment, roads, etc etc just to get back to original production levels. You can't produce as much if all your prime land is shifting northwards. Now imagine doing that with heavier storms, extreme droughts, and flooding. Bad, but livable right? Now do it with no money, and a dozen hungry, poor neighboring groups wanting what you have. A recipe for strife and death on a global scale.

On the other hand, imagine that your growing season expanded and rainfall improved.

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Re: A "Lukewarmer's" thoughts on climate change

Postby BattleMoose » Sat Jun 20, 2015 6:37 am UTC

KnightExemplar wrote:TLDR: The world is getting warmer, and its probably man made. But it is also unlikely to make a major difference.

http://quadrant.org.au/magazine/2015/06 ... e-science/

I wasn't familiar with the "Lukewarmer" position on climate change, so I found the above article interesting. Anyone else got material on this viewpoint?


Its important to point out that this position is contradictory to , pretty much, the entire scientific communities of all countries on this planet.

http://www.aaas.org/sites/default/files ... ement2.pdf
https://www.science.org.au/sites/defaul ... ge-g85.pdf
http://www.fpa2.com/pdf/declaration_monaco.pdf

Pay attention to how "old" these statements are. An academy of science is essentially a collection of a nations most "esteemed" scientists. Just about every nation has one and just about every one has issued a statement warning on climate change. Never before has the scientific community been so united on an issue.

And yes, this is an "appeal to authority" but only because it is not expected that anyone here will actually engage with the science. There is just, so much of it. But if you want to, you are very much encouraged to. The IPCC has done a very nice job of collecting the human knowledge of climate science and regularly writes reports on it. You can find them here. http://www.ipcc.ch/

I don't really expect people to change their opinions on this. That's just not generally something that happens on the internet. But I came here to point out that the position presented in the OP is contradictory to effective universal agreement from those whose profession it is, to know.

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Re: A "Lukewarmer's" thoughts on climate change

Postby Cradarc » Sat Jun 20, 2015 6:57 am UTC

BattleMoose,
You make a good point, but also remember that science is very broad. A particle physicists' or chemical engineer's knowledge of climate change is at best rooted in what he/she reads from a paper written by someone who actually looked at the data gathered from the field and crunched the numbers. The person who looks at the data has the incentive to produce groundbreaking results. Experiments that show uncertain findings are generally ignored, because they just aren't that exciting.
That being said, it is very possible that the consensus is true. However, with any long term predictions, there should be a great deal of uncertainty. Considering we can't even predict the weather that well, I don't think we can accurately predict the effects of global temperature rising over a long period of time.

I personally think we should assume the worst. However, this assumption should not lead to despair, but rather urgency. Survival prospects are optimistic, but we want to be as prepared as possible for any big changes that may occur.
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Re: A "Lukewarmer's" thoughts on climate change

Postby Zamfir » Sat Jun 20, 2015 7:12 am UTC

You make a good point, but also remember that science is very broad. A particle physicists' or chemical engineer's knowledge of climate change is at best rooted in what he/she reads from a paper written by someone who actually looked at the data gathered from the field and crunched the numbers. The person who looks at the data has the incentive to produce groundbreaking results. Experiments that show uncertain findings are generally ignored, because they just aren't that exciting

Perhaps we should tell this to those academies of scientists, then they can take it into account.

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Re: A "Lukewarmer's" thoughts on climate change

Postby Quercus » Sat Jun 20, 2015 7:19 am UTC

Cradarc wrote:Considering we can't even predict the weather that well, I don't think we can accurately predict the effects of global temperature rising over a long period of time.

I'm not sure that comparison holds. The climate is a lot more predictable than the weather, because over long periods of time the noise in the system averages out.
Last edited by Quercus on Sat Jun 20, 2015 7:47 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: A "Lukewarmer's" thoughts on climate change

Postby BattleMoose » Sat Jun 20, 2015 7:28 am UTC

Cradarc wrote:That being said, it is very possible that the consensus is true.


What do you mean, "possible"? Its there. Its in the statements I linked and in the peer reviewed literature also.

http://www.sciencemag.org/content/306/5702/1686.full

The 928 papers were divided into six categories: explicit endorsement of the consensus position, evaluation of impacts, mitigation proposals, methods, paleoclimate analysis, and rejection of the consensus position. Of all the papers, 75% fell into the first three categories, either explicitly or implicitly accepting the consensus view; 25% dealt with methods or paleoclimate, taking no position on current anthropogenic climate change. Remarkably, none of the papers disagreed with the consensus position.


I personally think we should assume the worst. However, this assumption should not lead to despair, but rather urgency. Survival prospects are optimistic, but we want to be as prepared as possible for any big changes that may occur.


The calls for urgent action have been made. They have been ignored. There is nothing left to do but wait.

The person who looks at the data has the incentive to produce groundbreaking results. Experiments that show uncertain findings are generally ignored, because they just aren't that exciting.


This is such a cop out that can be used to dismiss all science. And there is huge uncertainty when it comes to climate change, but its all of the flavor of bad to very very bad.

An analogy if you will. Two cars are about to have a head on collision, each going 45km/h. That's generally not fast enough to kill the drivers but they could die. And if they do die, we cannot know ahead of time exactly what they will die of, head trauma, or lungs punctured, maybe the air bag fails or fires prematurely, or the throat gets cut by glass, et cetera. We cannot even accurately predict the value of the damage to the cars, if they will be write offs, or the cost to society of the collision, medical fees or road closures. There is actually a lot of uncertainty in the consequences of such a car accident. But we do know the consequences are going to range from bad to very bad. So it is with climate change.

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Re: A "Lukewarmer's" thoughts on climate change

Postby jseah » Sat Jun 20, 2015 8:10 am UTC

BattleMoose wrote:The calls for urgent action have been made. They have been ignored. There is nothing left to do but wait.

I'm thinking that if it's really that bad, it'll finally get us off to doing some geoengineering. I'm not just talking about the ones like sulphur aerosols.

Things like actively managing ecosystems, wholesale genetic engineering of wild populations, coral reef seeding, etc.

Conservation is not my cup of tea. I'd rather we tried to understand the systems, and playing an active role will net new opportunities for study.
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Re: A "Lukewarmer's" thoughts on climate change

Postby BattleMoose » Sat Jun 20, 2015 8:30 am UTC

jseah wrote:
BattleMoose wrote:The calls for urgent action have been made. They have been ignored. There is nothing left to do but wait.

I'm thinking that if it's really that bad, it'll finally get us off to doing some geoengineering. I'm not just talking about the ones like sulphur aerosols.

Things like actively managing ecosystems, wholesale genetic engineering of wild populations, coral reef seeding, etc.

Conservation is not my cup of tea. I'd rather we tried to understand the systems, and playing an active role will net new opportunities for study.


We don't have the skill for this, things are liable to go horribly horribly wrong.

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Re: A "Lukewarmer's" thoughts on climate change

Postby jseah » Sat Jun 20, 2015 8:47 am UTC

BattleMoose wrote:We don't have the skill for this, things are liable to go horribly horribly wrong.

And we'd learn from it. Far faster than if we just sat and waited.

We learnt about invasive species the hard way. So's the same for geoengineering.

I'd rather we try and fail, and learn, than not try. Especially if we're facing global warming and no one wants to cut/its too late to cut. Who knows, we might learn the skill eventually.

EDIT: you can think of the cost of failure as a science subsidy. Just not a monetary one.
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Re: A "Lukewarmer's" thoughts on climate change

Postby Quercus » Sat Jun 20, 2015 9:10 am UTC

It's not the natural world that is the principal concern with climate change. Life, as a whole, is resiliant, there will be extinctions, there will be evolution and over time life as a whole will be just fine. If life can survive the Permian-Triassic extinction event, it can certainly survive a little more CO2 in the atmosphere. Any individual species, including humans, might not fare quite so well. It's drought and famine that concern me, wars fought over water, the flooding of coastal cities, mass migration and the suffering that results from that.

Explain how geoengineering can help a poor nation that gets caught in desertification? Explain how it can stop island nations flooding, or find people willing to give them a new place to live?

jseah wrote:I'd rather we try and fail, and learn, than not try. Especially if we're facing global warming and no one wants to cut/its too late to cut. Who knows, we might learn the skill eventually.

I actually agree with you here. But it's not too late to cut - the more fossil fuels we leave in the ground the easier the problems we need to solve with technology. The two approaches are complimentary, not antagonistic.

jseah wrote:EDIT: you can think of the cost of failure as a science subsidy. Just not a monetary one.

War is also a boost for science. I'm not sure you'd find many people who think pursuing war for the sake of the advancement of science is a good tradeoff.

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Re: A "Lukewarmer's" thoughts on climate change

Postby Angua » Sat Jun 20, 2015 9:57 am UTC

Quercus wrote:It's not the natural world that is the principal concern with climate change. Life, as a whole, is resiliant, there will be extinctions, there will be evolution and over time life as a whole will be just fine. If life can survive the Permian-Triassic extinction event, it can certainly survive a little more CO2 in the atmosphere.

You just had to go and say it, didn't you?
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Re: A "Lukewarmer's" thoughts on climate change

Postby jseah » Sat Jun 20, 2015 10:30 am UTC

Quercus wrote:It's not the natural world that is the principal concern with climate change. Life, as a whole, is resiliant, there will be extinctions, there will be evolution and over time life as a whole will be just fine. If life can survive the Permian-Triassic extinction event, it can certainly survive a little more CO2 in the atmosphere. Any individual species, including humans, might not fare quite so well. It's drought and famine that concern me, wars fought over water, the flooding of coastal cities, mass migration and the suffering that results from that.

Explain how geoengineering can help a poor nation that gets caught in desertification? Explain how it can stop island nations flooding, or find people willing to give them a new place to live?

There was a TED talk about how Willie Smits managed to re-establish a forest in Borneo. While there are some criticisms of the impact and accusations of exaggeration, it is not disputed that the forest was restored. (whether the orang-utans came back is another matter, but you don't care about that if you're worried about desertification and food supply)

The point is that you can treat and manage an ecosystem, increasing its productivity many fold. That may not be the same species that were originally around, and if you're targeting productivity and not conservation, you can use anything that works. Dams, desalination plants, importing non-native species, GM plants, even outright attempts at terraforming. It can be done with a conservation outlook, it can be done better without. You have less restrictions.

It is something of a smaller scale that poorer countries can do if they're helped with the scientific expertise. GM plants could help a lot too, especially for drought, flood and disease resistance, and can be created with very modest funding compared to the major geoengineering projects. A research team could make a GM plant quite quickly and your managed ecosystem also functions as a field trial.
Better yet, the science done in these projects also contribute to the western countries they originate from. It might even help inform models for the geoengineering attempts.

The large global-scale geoengineering projects like sulphur aerosols, algae/coral seeding can be left to the richer countries who have more than enough incentive to do it on their own.

Quercus wrote:I actually agree with you here. But it's not too late to cut - the more fossil fuels we leave in the ground the easier the problems we need to solve with technology. The two approaches are complimentary, not antagonistic.

We'd also have less money to solve the problems with. Whether this is less than cost of living with problems due to global warming is another question. (Yes? No? Probably?)

Quercus wrote:War is also a boost for science. I'm not sure you'd find many people who think pursuing war for the sake of the advancement of science is a good tradeoff.

Eh, war is good for military science because it makes people 'try hard'. You can develop military technology without war too.

You can't study the impact of geoengineering on climate and ecosystems without actually trying geoengineering.
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Re: A "Lukewarmer's" thoughts on climate change

Postby morriswalters » Sat Jun 20, 2015 12:20 pm UTC

jseah wrote:The large global-scale geoengineering projects like sulphur aerosols, algae/coral seeding can be left to the richer countries who have more than enough incentive to do it on their own.
Let me see if I understand this. We don't really understand climate except in terms of large trends, and that with high degrees of uncertainty. Which is why they run approximately five models. Would or could you quantify all the ramifications of geoengineering on a large scale?
jseah wrote:And we'd learn from it. Far faster than if we just sat and waited.
Well that is certainly true, the trick is not to learn that you have done something so egregious that it kills off a substantial portion of the human race.
Derek wrote:On the other hand, imagine that your growing season expanded and rainfall improved.
Imagine that it was all a crap shoot in terms where either extreme occurred, given that the population is already placed. Now imagine that while this is going on that most of the megacities are in coastal areas that will almost be flooded to one degree or another.
Quercus wrote:It's not the natural world that is the principal concern with climate change. Life, as a whole, is resiliant, there will be extinctions, there will be evolution and over time life as a whole will be just fine. If life can survive the Permian-Triassic extinction event, it can certainly survive a little more CO2 in the atmosphere. Any individual species, including humans, might not fare quite so well. It's drought and famine that concern me, wars fought over water, the flooding of coastal cities, mass migration and the suffering that results from that.
And so it goes. Both good and bad. You see citizen science at work in a realm of high uncertainty. Too many stakeholders looking through a lens of personal bias of one type or the other. My self included, which is why I'll leave it to the experts. Almost inevitably we will wait until the threat is as real as it can get and then try to do some last minute fix like geoengineering.

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Re: A "Lukewarmer's" thoughts on climate change

Postby BattleMoose » Sat Jun 20, 2015 12:33 pm UTC

jseah wrote:There was a TED talk about how Willie Smits managed to re-establish a forest in Borneo. While there are some criticisms of the impact and accusations of exaggeration, it is not disputed that the forest was restored. (whether the orang-utans came back is another matter, but you don't care about that if you're worried about desertification and food supply)


Restoring an ecosystem to its former glory is a trivial problem compared to maintaining or creating new ecosystems within the context of changing climates and not knowing exactly how things are going to change.

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Re: A "Lukewarmer's" thoughts on climate change

Postby sardia » Sat Jun 20, 2015 3:33 pm UTC

Derek wrote:
sardia wrote:Imagine if all your cropland and your water supplies moved 100 miles to the north. That would be a pain in the ass to relocate all your equipment, roads, etc etc just to get back to original production levels. You can't produce as much if all your prime land is shifting northwards. Now imagine doing that with heavier storms, extreme droughts, and flooding. Bad, but livable right? Now do it with no money, and a dozen hungry, poor neighboring groups wanting what you have. A recipe for strife and death on a global scale.

On the other hand, imagine that your growing season expanded and rainfall improved.

That's definitely possible, Canada is the easiest example of this. This totally means we can ignore all those poorer countries who are gonna fight each other and the rich countries to survive. That is what you're implying right?

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Re: A "Lukewarmer's" thoughts on climate change

Postby Diadem » Sat Jun 20, 2015 4:31 pm UTC

sardia wrote:
Derek wrote:
sardia wrote:Imagine if all your cropland and your water supplies moved 100 miles to the north. That would be a pain in the ass to relocate all your equipment, roads, etc etc just to get back to original production levels. You can't produce as much if all your prime land is shifting northwards. Now imagine doing that with heavier storms, extreme droughts, and flooding. Bad, but livable right? Now do it with no money, and a dozen hungry, poor neighboring groups wanting what you have. A recipe for strife and death on a global scale.

On the other hand, imagine that your growing season expanded and rainfall improved.

That's definitely possible, Canada is the easiest example of this. This totally means we can ignore all those poorer countries who are gonna fight each other and the rich countries to survive. That is what you're implying right?

One of the great ironies of climate change is that crop yields will go down in most of the world, but will actually go up in most of Europe and North America. The countries which created the problem will suffer least.

Even more ironic is that advances in robotics will make mass production in cheap labour countries mostly superfluous in the next few decades.

So just when we don't need poor people in developing countries anymore, climate change will conveniently start killing them off.

For people in the Western world who don't care about the suffering of poor non-white people far away (ie: everybody) climate change will be pretty nice.
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Re: A "Lukewarmer's" thoughts on climate change

Postby schapel » Sat Jun 20, 2015 5:44 pm UTC

To make the discussion less abstract, let's compare the threat of global warming and ocean acidification to a topic we can discuss in more concrete terms: influenza. I'm sure we've all had the flu, and it sucks, but it's not that bad, right? Well... consider that each year a quarter million to a half million people die each year from it. It's a pretty big deal for those folks, isn't it? What if there were a World Trade Center bombing every day? We'd be outraged by it and would want to take measures to prevent it, right?

Whether or not something is "dangerous" depends on your point of view. Is the flu "dangerous"? In the sense of "the sky is falling," no. In the sense that it's something that we would prevent if we could, even if it were technically quite difficult, yes. Let's say scientists discovered a new disease, let's call it GWOACC, that could kill a million people per year if we don't do something to prevent it. Let's also say that if we spent a trillion dollars over the next ten years we could develop a vaccine that would prevent most of those deaths. Is GWOACC "dangerous" to human civilization? In one sense, not really, because life would go on much as it has even if we sit back and do nothing. But if we could spend about $150 per person on this planet to prevent many millions of tragic deaths, wouldn't we want to do that?

That's my take on global warming. It's bad enough to take action to prevent it, even if life would go on much as it has in a world that's a few degrees warmer. And governments worldwide are in agreement, that we should attempt to limit the warming to about two degrees Celsius and that we should take more action soon to try to reach that goal.

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Re: A "Lukewarmer's" thoughts on climate change

Postby Quercus » Sat Jun 20, 2015 6:45 pm UTC

schapel wrote:That's my take on global warming. It's bad enough to take action to prevent it, even if life would go on much as it has in a world that's a few degrees warmer. And governments worldwide are in agreement, that we should attempt to limit the warming to about two degrees Celsius and that we should take more action soon to try to reach that goal.

Unfortunately we're realistically far, far too late to keep warming to two degrees. We should have taken serious action a decade ago for that. We might be able to keep it to four degrees though if we are really proactive and lucky (i.e. if positive feedback loops aren't as bad as some scientists predict), and that's still absolutely worth doing. At this point talking about two degrees is little more than a useful political fiction.

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Re: A "Lukewarmer's" thoughts on climate change

Postby BattleMoose » Sun Jun 21, 2015 2:17 am UTC

Its also worth noting that despite all the rhetoric about sustainability that's being tossed around, global CO2 emissions are consistently increasing.

http://www.energytrendsinsider.com/wp-c ... png?00cfb7

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Re: A "Lukewarmer's" thoughts on climate change

Postby jseah » Sun Jun 21, 2015 2:29 am UTC

morriswalters wrote:Well that is certainly true, the trick is not to learn that you have done something so egregious that it kills off a substantial portion of the human race.
<...>
Almost inevitably we will wait until the threat is as real as it can get and then try to do some last minute fix like geoengineering.

If you think that's inevitable we're going to use geoengineering, best we get started on working out the obvious issues with trials than have to do it last minute.

Or just do it anyway. For science of course.

BattleMoose wrote:Restoring an ecosystem to its former glory is a trivial problem compared to maintaining or creating new ecosystems within the context of changing climates and not knowing exactly how things are going to change.

He started from very little, almost just a grassland with no nutrients and destroyed soil from slash and burn agriculture. And every step of the way, you see deliberate choice of plants and animals to reintroduce.

Similar things can be done for other areas; there are other projects, some in even harsher areas like salty deserts. That's practically from scratch.
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Re: A "Lukewarmer's" thoughts on climate change

Postby morriswalters » Sun Jun 21, 2015 3:10 am UTC

jseah wrote:If you think that's inevitable we're going to use geoengineering, best we get started on working out the obvious issues with trials than have to do it last minute.
Just because I think it will be done doesn't mean that I think it should be done. The idea smacks of a certain degree of desperation. The patient has a fever and you want to put him in ice water to reduce it. But that isn't the cure. It is an acknowledgement that you don't have a cure. Or that you don't want to do the difficult things a cure requires. It saddens me that future generations are gong to get dumped on if this whole thing goes really bad.

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Re: A "Lukewarmer's" thoughts on climate change

Postby addams » Sun Jun 21, 2015 5:29 am UTC

I read the paper.
I Was Too Long To Read.

I did it anyway.
I don't recommend it.

(jeeze) It was a study in stringing "clichés" together.
By the end of the paper I was offend.

It was loaded with negative stereotypes of science and scientists.
In my opinion that is a "denier" paper that is out to sway minds that harbor any doubt.

At its best that paper offers people with doubt a home camp.
That camp has a name. The name is 'Lukewarmer'.

The actions and policies of Deniers and the Lukewarmer are the same.
It is a recruitment paper using a lot of negative advertising techniques.

If written by a grad student specializing in Public Relations, that student should get an A.
For a relentless paper that uses language and attacks highly likely to convince the literate common man.

Everyone has doubt.
Our crystal balls seem to be broken.

How far will the climate shift go?
No One Knows!

How should we respond?
Responsibly!

And; We should have started twenty-five years ago!
Working together we Can make big and positive changes.

I watched the environmental movement backed by enforced laws change a dirty environment
that had lost diversity forward to an environment we have a right to be proud of.

That work could not be done in todays political environment.
That work is being undone as fast as the mean old Baggers can do it.

The article is a fair example of the opposition any call for a change from 'business as usual' faces.
Name calling and all.

It is fair to say the US will not be helping the world to follow doctor's orders.
The doctors agree about what individuals and nations can and should be doing.

Most specialists in the field of climate study have families and are emotionally attached to our planet.
They studied the thing! Some want to try wild ideas to bring down temperatures. Most don't.

Most advocate for the same kind of actions that brought the fish and raptors back to the West US.
Deniers and now Lukewarmers resist working within the global community. It's a darned shame, too.
**********************
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EDIT: Chattering on.
Citizen Scientists are a wonderful idea.

Empowering the individual with the self discipline and intellectual tools needed to notice, to describe, to label.
And; To share. Those are great ideas.

A Citizen Scientist in Australia was the first person to notice the impact of an Earth sized body into Jupiter.
Using the internet, that Citizen Scientist had developed a working relationship with working scientists.

That Citizen Scientist was able to describe the event and provide valuable information about its location.
And; That Citizen Scientist was able to describe the event its self at the moment of impact.

Scientists do all sorts of nutty and detailed tasks.
It seems we sometimes forget what it is we do.

Please, let me remind us.
We describe.

We need self discipline and command of intellectual tools like Math, a little Latin and Greek.
English is very handy, here in the West.

Science describes.
Figuring out what the Hell that means is Philosophy and deeply human of us.
It is also part of the day job of many people that are trained in science.

Scientists get paid to give meaning to descriptions of their own work and the work of others so often,
we sometimes forget how much education and self discipline it takes to simply and reliably describe the world.

We notice, we describe, we label and we share.
Some of us have some wicked tools at our disposal, too.

This is a global warming article.
http://www.latimes.com/local/california ... story.html

The tool that was used to describe the changes in our aquifers is a satellite that is so sensitive
it can distinguish between oil and water by their gravity from way, way up in the atmosphere.

I don't...I can't understand how that stupid thing works.
I'm convinced it does. That's trust or dumbly naive.

Men and women all over the planet, both professional scientists and citizen scientists have been recording a change in climate.
Not simply a blip like the mini ice age that was triggered by a volcano in the 1800's.

The citizen scientists as gardeners in England have meticulous records to the hour of events in English gardens.

Those records agree with one another across the country and across time.
They are Not a conspiracy to reap Green Tech Money!
Those records have been valuable.

Those men and women contributed to our collective knowledge because
they had the self discipline and the tools to describe well.

Yes. We can and should respect citizen scientists.
Many have earned our respect.

The Deniers and now the Lukewarmers have not earned respect.
They Are Loud.

In my opinion that article, the Bagger political movement,
Deniers and Lukewarmers alike do not accurately describe the world.

They may call themselves citizen scientists.
I have a very different word for those sort.
******************************************
*****************************************
EDIT: Again!
The link is old radio the Tactic of Doubt is addressed momentarily.
My people would be well served by studying the Science of Tactics.

The guest says people do not need to believe in man made climate change to act responsibly. I agree with him.
http://www.sciencefriday.com/segment/08 ... ng-it.html

Again; My people would be well served by studying the Science of Tactics.
If I could ask one thing of my people it would be to "Slow Down and Think".
Turn off the electric voice until you can hear yourself think.

(Sigh...) I know..I know...
It is asking too much of most people.
The extraordinary people have already done it.

Those that want to know...
Life is, just, an exchange of electrons; It is up to us to give it meaning.

We are all in The Gutter.
Some of us see The Gutter.
Some of us see The Stars.
by mr. Oscar Wilde.

Those that want to Know; Know.
Those that do not Know; Don't tell them.
They do terrible things to people that Tell Them.

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Re: A "Lukewarmer's" thoughts on climate change

Postby EMTP » Mon Jun 22, 2015 2:16 pm UTC

"Lukewarmers" have been present in the climate discussion for many years. There's a good discussion of what they argue for, and the internal contradictions thereof, here and here.

In my opinion, articles like this one have very little to do with "citizen science." Science, for the most part, is about patiently gathering a lot of data to rigorously test ideas about how the world works. Writing an op-ed trying to argue others into a view of the science that is in accord with your political views is pretty close to the antithesis of that. In point of fact, one of the most glaring signs that we are not dealing with scientists is that this is what they consider scientific activity: reinterpreting data collected and analyzed by experts with a strong political spin.

So you can argue about the contributions of nonprofessionals to science, past, present, and future, but we shouldn't insult them by conflating them with lukewarmers, who for the most part could not science their way out of a damp paper bag.

Another species of wishful thinking with an extensive history familiar to climate nerds is the techo-optimist/geoengineering school. These are people who have total confidence that future humanity will be able to work together to solve the vast, deadly crises of famine, drought, inundation, deadly heat waves, mass extinctions, and desertification, but total pessimism that present humanity can work together to avert or minimize said problems from happening in the first place. These are the people who, if their home was flooded by a burst pipe, would presumably send for heaters, replace their ruined furniture, reinforce the water-weakened walls and ceilings, but not turn off the water main. As if the first step in pragmatic problem solving were not to stop making the problem worse.

Beneath the politics, this is what we know:

1. The earth is warming rapidly.
2. Humans are the cause
3. This warming has and will have destructive consequences
4. This destruction will be proportional (at some exponent) to the amount of warming. The less warming, the better.
5. It is more economically efficient, as well as better for human welfare, to begin to reduce or eliminate our use of fossil fuels.
6. There are ways to reduce our use of fossil fuels, such as carbon taxes, which eliminate low-value carbon pollution while leaving intact high-value carbon pollution (like running a hospital off a diesel generator in an emergency.)

Anthropogenic climate change is a difficult problem to solve chiefly because of the tragedy of the commons; benefits of fossil fuel burning go to those who burn it, while the (greater in magnitude) costs are distributed globally, among present and future generations. It is a slow process, without a clear enemy, making it difficult to motivate people to fight it.
"Reasonable – that is, human – men will always be capable of compromise, but men who have dehumanized themselves by becoming the blind worshipers of an idea or an ideal are fanatics whose devotion to abstractions makes them the enemies of life."
-- Alan Watts, "The Way of Zen"

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Re: A "Lukewarmer's" thoughts on climate change

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Jun 22, 2015 3:52 pm UTC

sardia wrote:
ucim wrote:
schapel wrote:I suppose the questions are really (1) What are the specific harmful effects of a warming climate[...]?
More to the point, harmful to whom?

Jose

Imagine if all your cropland and your water supplies moved 100 miles to the north. That would be a pain in the ass to relocate all your equipment, roads, etc etc just to get back to original production levels. You can't produce as much if all your prime land is shifting northwards. Now imagine doing that with heavier storms, extreme droughts, and flooding. Bad, but livable right? Now do it with no money, and a dozen hungry, poor neighboring groups wanting what you have. A recipe for strife and death on a global scale.


That seems unlikely. Good soil is good soil. Most areas shouldn't see a hundred miles of flooding. Yeah, if your rainfall patterns shift, your water usage will shift and stuff, but that's not the same as cropland actually moving. An issue to be sure, but not one that's significantly different from ones we see now.

And a lot of the heavier storms stuff doesn't enjoy a great deal of support. Hurricane doom and glooming hasn't really panned out. Now, maybe it will become more of a thing at more significant levels, sure.

But a lot of this just boils down to "climate will change. Change is bad." The first is certainly true. The second....eh. Changing to adapt may have a cost. It will not necessarily be catacylsmic. Especially if the change is gradual. When we're on the timeframe of a hundred years or so...damn, look at how much US civilization has adapted in that time. We're pretty good at it. Cultures that are less good at it will probably hurt more, true. Adaptation is possible, though.

And frankly, we're probably likely to have a great deal more success working on adaptation than prevention. As for geo-engineering, things like wetlands preservation and re-creation are fairly well understood. We've actually done some pretty big projects of this nature in the US, it isn't that hard. Shit, Ducks Unlimited routinely engages in massive preservation efforts solely because some people really like to shoot ducks. I don't see why people act like this is impossible when it's already routine. On the flip side, efforts at prevention have been...not very successful.

schapel wrote:To make the discussion less abstract, let's compare the threat of global warming and ocean acidification to a topic we can discuss in more concrete terms: influenza. I'm sure we've all had the flu, and it sucks, but it's not that bad, right? Well... consider that each year a quarter million to a half million people die each year from it. It's a pretty big deal for those folks, isn't it? What if there were a World Trade Center bombing every day? We'd be outraged by it and would want to take measures to prevent it, right?


Probably. But if the same number of people died in car accidents over a short period of time, nobody would blink. A number of individual events are not treated like black swan events.

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Re: A "Lukewarmer's" thoughts on climate change

Postby sardia » Mon Jun 22, 2015 4:30 pm UTC

Tyndmyr, what would you call California's drought? A shining example of adaptation? Cuz in one of the most liberal areas of the US, they can barely get their shit together. And I'm being generous with barely. Are you expecting every other climate change stricken region or country to be just as civil?


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