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Climate Change & Global Warming


How important is Global Warming to you in the Grand Scheme of Things?  

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  1. 1. How important is Global Warming to you in the Grand Scheme of Things?

    • Give me a break, I've enough on my plate
    • I suppose there's something in it, but it's for the Politicians/Corporations/Those in power to sort out
    • Yes I think it is important and I try to do my bit.
    • If we don't stop it, the Planet dies in a few years, it's as simple as that.
    • I think it is all hype and not half as bad as they make out
    • I don't know what to think

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I think global warming is probably one of the least of our worries, something much bigger is approaching rapidly, and that is peak energy. Oil gives us our modern lives, it rules the way we all live. Everything we own, near everything material we have is a result of oil, nearly all our employment is a result of oil. Oil is running out, many people believe oil production has now peaked, while demand continues to get higher and higher.


To a large extent, peak oil and climate change seem to be two sides of the same coin. Both are due to Western civilisation’s overwhelming dependence on oil (climate change also being due to other factors). However, I think you’re right in that peak oil will soon become a much more urgent problem than climate change. Living in a wealthy country, the effects of climate change are quite remote for us, at least for the most part and in the short-term: it’s our children and certainly our grandchildren who will suffer the most serious effects. Climate change is already causing droughts in the Horn of Africa, but in the West we’re insulated from these effects. In contrast, the effects of peak oil will be immediate in terms of the impact on our economies and the constraints imposed on our whole society. The following link is an interview with Richard Heinberg, an American journalist and educator, and author of “The Party’s Over: Oil, War, and the Fate of Industrial Societies†(2003):




The interview is very informative in explaining the origins of our current fossil fuel dependence. Fossil fuels gave us a huge energy input into our societies; oil in particular has a very high energy payback, in terms of the energy it produces relative to the energy expended in extracting it. Tractors run on petrol, for example, meant that we were able to free up land that would otherwise be used for feeding livestock to pull the ploughs. We were also able to transport food over vast distances, so we didn’t have to depend on local food production; and nitrogen fertilizers derived from coal and natural gas increased the productivity of our land. As a result of these technological advances made possible by the greater availability of energy, the world population has increased from about 1 billion at the beginning of the 19th century to 6.3 billion today.


Fossil fuels are of course an exhaustible resource, and since the 1970s there have been a lot of signs warning us to reduce our oil dependence. However, governments have generally been very reluctant to address the problem, for reasons of political expediency (as highlighted by the following extract):


I think this whole period in history is going to be seen in retrospect, the last 30 years as a period of lost opportunity. In 1973 we became aware of the finite supply of oil in the world and we became aware also that supplies in the US are particularly limited and we are dependent, therefore on the rest of the world for our energy resources. And as you say, there were tremendous efforts put forward on energy efficiency. Jimmy Carter made some remarkable statements in those days on how dependent we are and how important it is to conserve. Here is Jimmy Carter from 1976, he says, “We must face the prospect of changing our basic ways of living. This change will either be made on our own initiative in a planned way, or forced on us with chaos and suffering by the inexorable laws of nature.†That is an extraordinary thing for an American president to have written. I think he hit the nail on the head. He was voted out of office because another politician had a more palatable message, that it was morning in America. We don’t have to worry about resource shortages. There is always going to be enough. We are American’s after all and we deserve this amazingly fast paced way of life, because we are smart and good and God is with us.


This encapsulates much of the political problem. Few politicians are willing to tell people uncomfortable (or ‘inconvenient’) truths. Instead, they pay lip-service by, for example, investing in biofuels (regardless of the destructive environmental and social consequences, mentioned in an earlier post), while assuring us that we can maintain our current lifestyles. I’m all for renewable energy when it’s pursued responsibly with a recognition of its limits, but the dominant paradigm at present seems to be that we can pursue economic growth in perpetuity and simply deal with the environmental and associated problems through technological or other advances.


This isn’t intended to be pessimistic. I know plenty of people making their own individual efforts to save energy and conserve resources, and certainly this is part of the solution. But it seems clear that the big changes that are necessary (decarbonising our economy, localised food networks, a new transport system) are structural ones, and that we’re going to have to convince the politicians they won’t be re-elected unless they make them.

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Hi folks,


If this has appeared in this thread already, then please accept my apologies.


A short while ago, Avaaz.org successfully delivered a massive petition to the environmental ministers of the G8 countries. In 8 days' time (June 6th), the G8 leaders meet in Germany, along with the leaders of five of the world's most polluting countries, to decide the fate of the world's climate. The stakes couldn't be higher.


Avaaz.org will present a further petition at this summit. If you're willing to take two minutes to sign it, you will add your strength to the call of many thousands across the globe, who are now asking leaders to act in order to preserve this planet for ourselves and for our children.


Here's the link:



Cheers, Peter

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I think climate change and peak oil are going to be huge problems in the future. I think the debate about climate change being caused or not by humans or not is largely irrelivant. Oil is limited so should be conserved for the future by reducing consuption. I do think that climate change has stolen the lime light from the vast array of environmental issues which are equally pressing and need urgent action.

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Trying to limit plane travel and other popular fuel waste is a political nightmare. I like Monbiot's idea of a ration system whereby we each get a certain quota for our carbon emissions. Combined with measurement of the carbon emissions we make, it could make us think twice about that unnecessary flight, car trip, and inefficient appliances about the home.


Here's the link to the Tradable Energy Quotas (TEQs) website:


Tradable Energy Quotas


Basically, every adult is given an equal (free) entitlement of units. Fuels (and electricity) each carry a rating: one unit represents one kilogram of carbon dioxide, or the equivalent in other greenhouse gases, released when the fuel is used. If you use less than your entitlement of units, you can sell your surplus, and if you need more, you can buy them. The number of units available on the market is set out in the TEQs budget, which looks 20 years ahead. The size of the budget goes down yearly.


The TEQs scheme is designed to enable nations to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases, along with their use of fossil fuels, and to provide fair access to energy. This can be done within whatever international framework might apply at the time, such as Contraction and Convergence, or the Oil Depletion Protocol.


So it would ensure we reduce our greenhouse emissions and also help minimize the effects of Peak Oil.


I'm personally in favour of the scheme. It's pretty demoralizing trying to reduce your own energy consumption when someone down the road is taking 4 transatlantic flights a year (hypothetical example). As long as you stay within your ration you can spend it however you like. Certainly seems a lot less coercive than high petrol taxes and microchips on your wheelie bin.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 3 weeks later...

Just finished reading Heat: How to Stop the Planet Burning by George Monbiot (monbiot.com) and Six Degrees by Mark Lynas (marklynas.org), which looks at what we can expect to happen with each degree of warming over the coming century.

Unfortunately I read them in that order, beginning with the optimistic one and ending with apocalypse. Although I thoroughly recommend reading both of them, I would suggest you start with Lynas and finish with Monbiot. That will have you enthused for action, rather than wallowing in a state of depression at the impending collapse of life on this planet.

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A lot of people are going to have a fair bit of egg on their faces in the not too distant future! Whilst I do not doubt that the climate is in a warming phase or that we humans are contributing to this, where I do disagree is to what extent we are contributing. It is my firm belief that what we are seeing is a natural warming phase which we are contributing to, but it is not, as some would have you believe, all our fault, neither is it necessarily something which we can ultimately "fix."


In any case, we will see whether or not this is the case within our own lifetimes, indeed within the next few years. We are currently entering Solar Cycle 24 (the sun has an 11 year cycle of sunspot activity which has an impact on global climate)this will reach its peak in 2012. After this we begin the descent into what is known as the Gleissberg Minima. During this period, sunspot activity will die down to almost nothing, as it did during the previous Maunder Minimum, which was responsible for the "Little Ice Age" during the Medieval period. This will result in global cooling of sufficient magnitude to completely wipe out the warming seen over the last few decades.


The Gleissberg Minima will have severe impacts over the next 80 years or so due to there being multiple "troughs" during the cycle with near ice-age climactic conditions, interspersed with warmer spells which many believe will mirror or perhaps even exceed the "Little Ice Age" (the time when the Thames froze over and they held "ice fairs").


After the peak of Solar Cycle 24 we will fairly quickly begin to see the effects of the Gleissberg Minima with increasingly severe winters and shorter summers so that by 2015 the difference to today will be stark and we will be well on the road to the first "trough" of severe arctic conditions by 2032 approx.


Don't be fooled by the "new religion" of global warming, Solar forcing plays a much bigger role in the planetary climate than many realise but this will soon become very evident.

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I think its all a pile o crap. Its happening, but I think its natural as it has been in da past. maybe humans are speeding it up, but it would happen any way. I dont think humans can stop it, but maybe slow it down if we cull half the population or live like we did in midevil times, its to late now. Whats the point of recycleing somthing like bottles if it costs more energy to do that than make then new? madness if u ask me.

In the future due to the ammount of humans resources like water, land, steel etc will be at a premium, so we can enjoy a few wars over them, so I think in the end after plenty of deaths everything will even out. Its natures way.

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Whats the point of recycleing somthing like bottles if it costs more energy to do that than make then new? madness if u ask me.

What's madness is that people will believe any old crap that suits them, without bothering to investigate it first.


From: http://www.earth911.org/master.asp?s=lib&a=energy/EnergyFacts.html


* Recycled glass saves 50% energy vs. virgin glass (Center for Ecological Technology); recycling of one glass container saves enough energy to light a 100-watt bulb for 4 hours (EPA)

* Recycled glass generates 20% less air pollution and 50% less water pollution (NASA)

* 1 ton of glass made from 50% recycled materials saves 250 lbs. of mining waste (EPA)

* Glass can be reused an infinite number of times; over 41 billion glass containers are made each year (EPA)

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Don't be fooled by the "new religion" of global warming, Solar forcing plays a much bigger role in the planetary climate than many realise but this will soon become very evident.


I found your post interesting for a number of reasons, Bitter Truth. Firstly because, in all the literature I've read about global warming, solar cycles and sun spots rarely feature as any more than a foot note. Secondly, the level of certainty you expressed was quite remarkable.


So I decided to investigate these 'facts' you've presented us with, and was not surprised to learn that things are not quite as you'd have us believe.


There has been quite a lot of research into the correlation between solar cycles and climate, and some scientists have found that there seems to be a connection between planetary warmth and the level of sun spots (here's one such paper here - http://www.lavoisier.com.au/papers/articles/Archibald.pdf). However, the research is far from conclusive. A number of the most significant papers (including the one I just linked to) have been severely criticised for 'selective' use of data, and particularly for their tendency to ignore data from the last three decades, which actually appears to contradict the solar cycle theory. A number of the scientists involved in this research (and here's a predictable fact) work for organisations in receipt of funding from Exxon Mobil, who actively promote research into 'alternative' climate theories. It is interesting to note though, that even amongst advocates of this theory, who believe that solar cycles have had a significant impact on historical climate variations, most accept that greenhouse gases are currently a far more important factor.


The predictions you make about the Gleissberg Minima are even more controversial, and I can find very little information online to support the claim, apart from some rather suspicious looking research by the late Theodore Landscheidt, working from the Schroeter Institute for Research in Cycles of Solar Activity (which he set up himself).


However, you make the worrying-sounding claim that this global cooling during the Gleissberg Minima could "mirror or perhaps even exceed the "Little Ice Age"". This is only worrying though until you remember that during this little ice age (roughly 1650 to 1850 - with three periods of cooling in that time) the temperature in the Northern Hemisphere only dropped by about 1 degree. The southern hemisphere was not so affected or perhaps not affected at all.


So, if your theory is correct, which most climate scientists dispute, we could possibly, maybe, be in for one degree of cooling. On the other hand, the real climate scientists at the IPCC predict that during the next 90 years we will see up to 5.8 degrees of warming. The last time that level of warming occurred on earth was 251 million years ago, a period that is known as the end-Permian. During that warming, it is believed that 95% of all plant and animal species on earth became extinct. That warming took place over 10,000 years. So we are looking at a period of warming that could potentially kill every living thing on the planet. You may think it's a good idea to just wait and see, but frankly, I'd rather believe the experts and try to do something about it.


Sorry for the long post, but I find that it's always best to be thorough when cleaning up crap.

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"Cleaning up crap"? Strong words Mr Tallack, perhaps a little derogatory.


I'm not adopting a stance either way on this one, for simple reason that i don't have time to research and table a solid argument either way, but it is a serious point of note to the 'Human' camp in the 'Human vs Nature' arguments, that global warming has been noted on Titan, Pluto and to an extent on Mars too at present time, without human cause. By all means attribute most of it to CO2 here, ignoring of course the vast quantities of water vapour also produced, most often along with the self same CO2, but i can't help but think that if the greatest supercomputers ever built are struggling to model global weather and atmospheric chaos, i cannot bring myself to say "This is right and that is crap" either way.

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I think the CO2 angle has polarised people along the wrong lines, to be honest. It's only one part of a much larger topic: the mess people make. Even if the temperature of the Earth, or the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere have nothing to do with us, many things do.


I'm of the school of thought which regards our current resources as finite and therefore worth preserving. There's simply no need to squander what we have just because there's (maybe) room for debate on the causes of some aspects.


Even if you don't believe that anything six billion humans can do could possibly affect the planet in any way, we're still going to run out of these resources eventually. Even platinum is becoming so rare that people are considering buying the contents of street-sweeping machines to recover the trace amounts exhausted by catalytic converters.


Personally, I'd rather the voe outside my house wasn't minging with plastic and chemical scums. Some places are absolutely rancid with rubbish and foost - surely it can't hurt to have a care about not making more waste and toxic rubbish than absolutely necessary.


I'm sure many of those who decry global-warming as a myth would be the first to complain if their garden were used as a dumping ground for the chemical by-products of the plastic bottles they dispose of on a regular basis.

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