Environmental Collapse: when and how bad?

N

nomadologist

Guest
Edit: your quote from Wiki is someone's opinion. I linked to it to show how ice ages have happened in the past, which is verified science.

o really? how/where/when did they verify what happened 100,000 years ago?
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
o really? how/where/when did they verify what happened 100,000 years ago?
By analysing ice cores taken from places like Antarctica and Greenland, from which the relative abundances of atmospheric gasses and ratios of oxygen isotopes can be used to reconstruct the climate in the past, as these things vary with average global temperature. There are features that vary between summer and winter, allowing scientists to count back through the years.

It has to be said, I find it a little disengenuous of you to doubt these reconstruction techniques, as you based your whole argument against man-made global warming on the apparent inevitability and regularity of glacial/interglacial periods, which we know about (mainly, I think) from ice-core analyses... :slanted:
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
There are probably a hundred different things people have looked at to try and reconstruct temperatures in the past. If they all more-or-less agree it starts to look like a pretty accurate indicator.
 
N

nomadologist

Guest
well you said "verified"--how much more verified are those claims than the ones about interglacial periods? if they are, i'd love to know how. they use similar sorts of data to those you bring up in formulating the interglacial hypotheses.
 

turtles

in the sea
Nomad, you really need to watch An Inconvenient Truth, where they deal with exactly the claim you've brought up, about cyclical ice ages. Basically, as Mr. Tea has said, if you look at the ice cores in in Antarctica, you can measure both the temperatures and the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere for about 400,000 years into the past. And basically what you find is that there is a very close correlation between CO2 levels and world temperatures over the last several ice ages. And then you compare where the CO2 levels are now, and their about twice as high as they've ever been in the last 400,000 years. And the projected CO2 levels for the next 50 years put them at almost twice as high again. Were talking FOUR TIMES higher than even the highest peak over the last 400,000 years. This is not just cyclical, this is a massive buildup of human-created CO2 gasses, which very uncontroversially trap heat within the atmosphere.

Also, again from Inconvenient Truth (okay, so this movie had a very strong effect on me), they took a random sampling of all academic papers on global climate issues, and not one expressed doubt about the existence of global warming, only the severity/effects. However, newspapers were about 50% likely to mention competing claims about the existence of global warming.

Yeah yeah, you can always cast doubt on scientific research, but generally they don't get things that wrong, and I would definitely trust them ahead of our corporate-owned news media. So I would be worried, if I were you (I'm worried!).
 

zhao

there are no accidents
i think nomad is worried too. she's just pointing out another side of the issue, which I do think is important to examine - which is the "natural cycles" or what not. but yes, all indications point to extreme acceleration of last century as caused by human industry.
 

turtles

in the sea
I dunno, I don't think the "natural cycles" issue really is that important a part of the discussion on global warming, aside from its role as an accelerating agent for worsening climate change. I think bringing it up tends to play down and take the emphasis off our own roll in the mess, and how badly out of step we've become with the natural cycles of the earth's temperature. I mean, the whole point of global warming is that we are breaking out of these cycles.

Also, obviously ice ages and global warming are two opposite phenomenon in terms of temperature, but also in terms of amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. Now I'm not really sure in terms of cause-and-effect here, of whether it's the drops in CO2 that cause the ice age, or that the CO2 levels drop as a cause of an ice age, but I'd tend to assume the former. So then whatever cyclic forces that cause these drops in CO2 are being more than overwhelmed by our own emissions of greenhouse gasses. Because global temperature is going UP, not down, though crazy weather would occur either way. Ummm, my point being rising CO2 is by far the big issue here that we need to be dealing with.

I guess I just took issue Nomad's claim that "it's all about the ice age that's a thousand years overdue" which just really is not the case.
 

Guybrush

Dittohead
unfortunately, science isn't about "safe assumptions", it's about observable facts and reproducible lab results
This has been an interesting debate for the most part (I must see An Inconvenient Truth), and Nomadologist’s devil’s-advocate argumentation makes for a nice intellectual counter-balance. I am not so keen, however, on sophistry based on (presumed) greater scientifical knowledge (‘since you don’t know the difference between “centripetal force” and “cetrifugal force”, your opinion is negligible’, etc.); the quote above is an acute example of such debating technique, I think. In this context (and many others), it’s fair to say that ‘scientific’ means something quite different (indeed, it’s one of the most loosely defined words there is). (I would define it something like this: scientific = ‘using a stringent and transparent methodology agreed upon by most, preferably all, practitioners [scientists] within a specific discipline.)
 

gek-opel

entered apprentice
Hmm, having read that report the last line was interesting, Howard claiming that it was impossible to run the country's power on solar energy! That sounds like bullshit to me, as altho it might be extremely expensive and difficult to set up, surely you could just cover the outback in massive solar panels?
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Hmm, having read that report the last line was interesting, Howard claiming that it was impossible to run the country's power on solar energy! That sounds like bullshit to me, as altho it might be extremely expensive and difficult to set up, surely you could just cover the outback in massive solar panels?
Yeah, a few hundred thousand square miles of solar panels, job's a good 'un. :)

That said, I can see solar-powered barbequeues taking off in a big way. This is Australia, after all.
 

gek-opel

entered apprentice
Well I mean that sounds silly in a way, but I think its practically possible and indeed in a country like Australia they will eventually do something just like that. The expense of setting it up would be offset by the advances in solar panel technology which would be created by putting in such an extensive order.
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
It's definitely a possibility in somewhere like Australia - shitloads of sunshine, huge deserts and a sparse population, it's basically ideal.
What I do find a bit daft is the amount of effort being put into things like wind farms in the UK. It's a great idea in principle, but you need thousands of them to generate as much power as a single conventional power station. The UK is enormously crowded and we have precious little 'unspoilt' countryside as it is, without sticking up bloody great turbines everywhere. Until such time as futuristic technologies like fusion or large-scale solar power become feasible (and let's face it, the latter is never going to be worthwhile in northern Europe) I think our best hope is nuclear. But people are too scared of it, due to the legacy of old, dirty nuclear technology, Greenpeace et al have convinced everyone that NUCLEAR EQUALS DEATH and the politicians are too cowardly to push it forward.
 

noel emits

a wonderful wooden reason
Solar power generation in space should do it. Plenty of sunshine up there, just need some way to get the energy down to earth - perhaps using superconducting cables running down from a space platform. It can't be that difficult!
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
I'd call that very much a 'long-term' solution!
What's needed right now is a proven technology that doesn't require the burning of fossil fuels and can generate a lot of juice. Nuclear is the only tech that fits the bill, but people are too scared by things like Chernobyl (a political, rather than technological, fuck-up) and Windscale (which was one of the first generation of reactors) to consider it.
 

noel emits

a wonderful wooden reason
I don't know, I wasn't entirely serious but how long does it take to build nuclear reactors and how much do they cost? With concerted effort space-based power generation could be off the ground (;)) in five years maybe? Also, soon enough very achievable advancements in nanotechnology will enable the fabrication of far more efficient solar panels and energy transfer media.

Or those bastards could stop sitting on the zero-point / cold fusion shit.
 

gek-opel

entered apprentice
Problem with nuclear power is threefold:

Firstly it is exorbitantly expensive, and has never really worked in this country without massive subsidy. I'm not sure if this is a problem with the technology itself or whether its just the way the power industry is financially constituted in the UK (ie- companies refuse to build and operate them without subsidy- but why would that be then?). However...

"adding the cost of standby capacity for wind, as well as carbon values up to £30 (€45.44) per tonne CO2 for coal and gas. Wind power was calculated to be more than twice as expensive as nuclear power. Without a carbon tax, the cost of production through coal, nuclear and gas ranged £0.022-0.026/kWh and coal gasification was £0.032/kWh. When carbon tax was added (up to £0.025) coal came close to onshore wind (including back-up power) at £0.054/kWh — offshore wind is £0.072/kWh. Nuclear power remained at £0.023/kWh either way, as it produces negligible amounts of CO2. Nuclear figures included decommissioning costs." From UK Royal Academy of Engineering report into electricity generation costs (2004). So perhaps with the addition of a carbon tax the power industry may be incentivised without subsidy to construct new nuclear facilities?

Secondly the waste management issue. Apparently a new strategy has still yet to be formalised for the UK.

Thirdly the problem of sourcing Uranium long term when like Oil it is a scarce resource. There appears to be some disagreement as to how rich the existing reserves are, and as to the likelihood of finding further sources.

Why not have massive wind farms at sea? Also I actually like the way massive turbines look in the middle of the countryside, and would happily populate most of the lake district (for example) with them. But then again I think there's nothing more beautiful than pylons stretching for miles across the bleak English countryside.
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Well Gek, I'm pleased for you if you like the look of pylons and turbines, but I think the majority of people have more, er, bourgeois views on what the countryside should look like. (Edit: since when is English countryside 'bleak'? Some of our towns, fair enough...)

France generates nearly all its energy from nuclear and they don't seem to have a problem with it, but then, their national power infrastructure is probably a lot different from ours. You rightly point out the issue of waste management, but massive advances have been made in this field, again possibly utilising nanotech, I don't know. As far as I know (lots of conjecture in this post, I admit) the uranium is going to last a lot longer than oil, possibly longer than coal and gas - but I'm only postulating nuclear (fission) for the next fifty years or so, until something better can be found.

Finally, can we drop the cold fusion/zero-point stuff? CF was the perpetual motion of the 80s/90s, and if there is any useful way to extract energy from it (which most experts don't think there is), no-one has yet figured it out. 'Conventional' (i.e. hot) fusion is much closer to being a useful energy source. ZPE (as a viable source of useful energy) is science fiction; I'm not saying it definitely won't be made to work one day, but it's even further off than CF, in that case.
 
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