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Toward climate geoengineering?


Toward climate geoengineering?
Andrew Glikson
Earth and paleo-climate scientist
Australian National University



With global atmospheric CO2 levels rising at about 2 ppm/year toward 388 ppm, or near-440 ppm CO2-e (including methane effects), John Holdren, in his first interview since being appointed as Obama’s new science adviser, revealed in an interview with AP (8 April, 09) “global warming is so dire, the Obama administration is discussing radical technologies to cool Earth’s air” which “as an experimental measure would only be used as a last resort … It's got to be looked at … We don't have the luxury of taking any approach off the table … One such extreme option includes shooting pollution particles into the upper atmosphere to reflect the sun's rays.”

Holdren compared the way humanity is facing dangerous climate change to passengers in a car with bad brakes heading toward a cliff in a fog, saying, “The sensible passengers will certainly say: ‘Let's put on the brakes, even if we don't know it will save us. It may be too late. We don't know exactly where the cliff is. . . . Let's get on with it’.”.

Holdren is not alone in considering geoengineering. The National Academy of Science is also looking at the subject in its new multidiscipline climate challenges program. The American Meteorological Society is preparing a statement on geoengineering, stating “it is prudent to consider geoengineering's potential, to understand its limits and to avoid rash deployment.” The British parliament has also discussed the idea..

Climate geoengineering ideas fall into at least four principal categories:

(1) Increased reflectivity (albedo) of the atmosphere, injecting sulphur dioxide (suggested by Paul Crutzen, the Nobel Prize winner atmospheric chemist), or alumina particles, or even installing reflectors in space. The effects of sulphur injections would simulate volcanic events, such as of Pinatubo (1991) or Tambora (1816), which resulted in cooling of the Earth’s surface by about 0.5 degrees. (;).

(2) Increased sequestration of CO2 in the oceans, enhancing algal blooms and phytoplankton photosynthesis through fertilization with iron filings, or constructing vertical pipe systems designed to enhance oceanic circulation and CO2 intake from the atmosphere.

(3) Biochar burial and soil enrichment. Combustion of plant waste under low oxygen conditions and burial as charcoal, removing carbon from atmospheric circulation and enhancing plant growth and photosynthesis, as well as soil enrichment. A major controversy erupted with objections to biochar by George Monbiot, involving James Lovelock and James Hansen

(4) Chemical sequestration involving combination of CO2 with sodium hydroxide (NaOH) installed in pipe systems (“sodium trees”), followed by separation and burial of CO2, costed at about $US300 a ton. A back of an envelope calculation suggests the reduction of atmospheric CO2 by 50 ppm would cost about $US 10 - 15 trillion (although mass production may lessen the cost, as well as contribute to employment), less than 10 times the global military expenditure in 2007.

Increasingly a “technological fix” may look attractive to Obama and possibly the EU (and Rudd?), in view of at least three major obstacles to CPRS and ETS schemes:

First, due to the cumulative nature of atmospheric CO2, neither 5/15% nor 25/40% emission reduction by 2020 relative to 2000 would be able to prevent runaway climate change. This is because CO2 levels, now at 387 ppm and rising by 2 ppm/year, will exceed 400 ppm by 2020, well into the high danger zone. Assuming CO2 emissions are reduced by even 40% relative to 2000, it would keep rising by a minimum of 1.2 ppm/year reaching levels near or above 450 ppm by 2050, and this is without even accounting for the effects of methane, likely reduced CO2 intake by the oceans and increase in positive feedbacks from the biosphere. At 450 ppm, with lag effects, polar ice sheets undergo advanced melting, with consequent major sea level rise,

It is not clear how many of the submissions made to the Australian Senate Inquiry into the CPRS take account of this factor.

Second, it is a good question whether even such feeble CPRS attempts would not be squashed by the all powerful fossil fuel lobby, currently supporting a massive well-funded disinformation campaign, including claims that the Earth is “cooling”, accusing scientists and environmentalists of “environmental thuggery”, and including threats such as by Republican congress woman Michelle Bachmann (“I want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax because we need to fight back. Thomas Jefferson told us” adding “The science is on our side on this one”.

Third, the preoccupation of suburbia international with economic issues. Until people fully understand the implications of runaway climate change, government actions are likely to be restricted within the context of the virtual reality of economic boom-bust bubbles, where greed and fear obscure the physical realities of the environment and of agricultural food production, a consequence of over 60 years of commercial propaganda rendering populations victims of ruthless vested interests at the expense of future generations.

The Wilkins ice shelf collapse is but the latest symptom of fast-melting polar ice. Last year was the first during which the huge (13,680 square kilometers) shelf, which bridges the West Antarctic peninsula with the Charcot and Latady islands, developed fractures during mid-winter. Now advanced Synthetic Aperture Radar (ASAR) images acquired on 2 April, 09, by the European Earth Observation (ESA’s) Envisat satellite confirm the ice shelf is collapsing into thousands of ice bergs, removing the barrier for the flow of continental glaciers into the ocean.

It is likely only a combination of deep urgent cuts in carbon emissions, coupled with major investments in fast-tracked development of a wide range of effective geo-engineering methods may be capable of making the difference.


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GHG reduction could stimulate the economy

Right now, the biggest problem facing our economy is plunging business investment. Businesses see no reason to invest, since they’re awash in excess capacity, thanks to the housing bust and weak consumer demand. But suppose that Congress were to mandate gradually tightening emission limits, starting two or three years from now. This would have no immediate effect on prices. It would, however, create major incentives for new investment — investment in low-emission power plants, in energy-efficient factories and more. To put it another way, a commitment to greenhouse gas reduction would, in the short-to-medium run, have the same economic effects as a major technological innovation: It would give businesses a reason to invest in new equipment and facilities even in the face of excess capacity. And given the current state of the economy, that’s just what the doctor ordered. This short-run economic boost isn’t the main reason to move on climate-change policy. The important thing is that the planet is in danger, and the longer we wait the worse it gets. But it is an extra reason to move quickly. So can we afford to save the planet? Yes, we can. And now would be a very good time to get started.

Putting a price on GHG emissions could be just what is needed to stimulate the economy. We need to get business to invest - what better investment than a clean green future?

Make room for two more Chinas

By 2050 or so, the world population is expected to reach nine billion, essentially adding two Chinas to the number of people alive today. Those billions will be seeking food, water and other resources on a planet where, scientists say, humans are already shaping climate and the web of life.

We may need geoengineering to help us cope with two more Chinas over the next forty years. It is hard to imagine how we will provide for such an increase in global population and all the demands these extra people will put on the planet. Maybe swine flue is Gaia's answer to a plague species.

Solar thermal power the way to go

The salts are just fertilizers — a mix of sodium and potassium nitrate — but they represent a significant advance in the decades-old technology of solar thermal power production, which has traditionally used mirrors to heat water or oil to generate electricity-producing steam. Now, engineers can use the molten salts to store the heat from solar radiation many hours after the sun goes down and then release it at will to drive turbines. That means solar thermal power can be used to generate electricity nearly round-the-clock.

The plant in southern Spain, known as Andasol 1, began operating last November and now provides 50 megawatts of power, enough electricity to supply 50,000 to 60,000 homes year-round. Andasol 2 will come online later this summer, with Andasol 3 already under construction. When the entire Andasol complex is completed in 2011, it is expected to generate enough electricity to power 150,000 households — about 600,000 people.

Advances in solar thermal power are showing us the way forward.

Why are we spending money on cleaning up coal when we could be producing all the energy we like from the sun?

We need to focus on proven technologies not pie in the sky.

If you never try it you'll never know

Justin Obodie: "Would the military and police also make (and enforce) the law and decide when to wage the war?"

Well, the elected officials of course. Although they'd be guided by a set of universally accepted rights. So the "military" would be a defence force etc.

I will say true leaders don't ask to lead, they're asked to lead. I'd prefer we had an individual choice of who is to lead. No electioneering. The person most "voted" could then accept or decline (and down the list we work).

But I'm getting way ahead of myself. It's not going to happen in my lifetime. It's happening now though, unfortunately in a de facto way. Not really what's best for all society.

I feel liberated in the fact I don't now need to make the constant affirmation of democracy. At the moment a bit like saying one rejects Catholicism (during the Spanish Inquisition). Anarchy (there are many schools) gets a bum rap - it always has. LIke most things, in reality, nothing like people are scared into believing it is.

I left it all behind a few decades ago

Justin Obodie: "If you are not a democratic person then what would be your ideal form of government?"

"The majority is always right". A democratic slogan if ever there was one. Unfortunately completely wrong. The majority in many instances is rarely right.

Democracy isn't as important as individual rights. The Founding Fathers of America (the world's alleged democratic beacon) understood this. The system was made so complicated, and so many hurdles placed in it, "democratic rights" take a back seat to individual rights. Or at least they should.

The way we understand government is childish. It's outdated and not very relevant. There isn't any need for government outside of military and police. Really, there isn't.

I don't think democracy as we presently understand will survive the next five hundred years, probably not even survive another century. It's unworkable and becoming more so with every passing day.

Hegelian dialectic

Thank you Paul, for a marvelous invitation.

I'd suggest that we shouldn't even need the police. Robert Peel, the founder of modern policing said "The basic mission of police is to PREVENT crime and disorder. The public are the police and the police are the public, and both share the same responsibility for public safety."

Long, long ago, if we had new neighbours, we'd take over a cake and say hello. Now, we dob them in anonymously on the public hotline.


Paul; no government outside of military and police you suggest. Would the military and police also make (and enforce) the law and decide when to wage the war?

That would be OK by me so long as I was the guy in charge of the bombs and bullets - but how does the guy in charge get to be the guy in charge, and how do we make sure he is not allowed to turn feral?

Do we democratically elect our dictator or does he gain power in the historical manner - brute force?

Or does something else come to mind?


Paul; I reckon the ancient Greeks would be a wee bit amused with the political system here in Australia. The people vote for a local representative (democracy); those representatives (the few) get together and govern (an oligarchy), however, our head of state is a queen (a monarchy) - yippee we have it all.

If you are not a democratic person then what would be your ideal form of government?

At least in a democracy the law is supposed to apply equally to all. That is the ideal but as we know in reality the law favours the rich, the educated and connected.

Yes democracy is the best of a bad lot but I would interested to read your alternatives or improvements to democracy.

I wouldn't be so sure

Jay Somasundaram: "Are you advocating some other form of political system?"

I'm not a democratic person if that's what you mean. There's little of my life premised on "democracy". I don't dislike democracy (the best of the bad systems we understand), I just don't see it as that important. Or at least it should take a back seat to more meaningful systems.

A system based entirely on universally accepted individual rights removes the need for democracy. Democracy isn't democracy at any rate. All the stakeholders aren't bringing equal stakes to the table; therefore, democracy in a true sense, it isn't.

Quite true. On the other hand, if there was no government, there would be no such thing as money in which to be a top 20%.

There isn't any evidence (none whatsoever) that government is needed for a monetary system's existence. We know that monetary systems will exist with or without government. One need look no further than a number of recent failed states for recent examples.

If for example the Australian Government were to vanish tomorrow, people would, without doubt, still present at their place of employment etc. Humans aren't useless vessels, and governments aren't their life's protector.

Politicians in fact rate on the third rung of a society scale.

PS the constant tango with the tax collector is one of the rare pleasures of life. Accepting one wins of course!

They should start in England

Fiona Reynolds, I consider 10% a fair tithe. Any amount above this should be considered theft. A person collecting any amount above this is repugnant, and should be treated no less than a leper.

Yes, I use the services provided by government. I've after all paid the theft fees. I wasn't asked my opinion of debts etc, therefore it's not my responsibility to repay them. I will do all that's legally possible to avoid repaying debt I did not agree too. I encourage others to do exactly the same.

If the top twenty per cent of earners (in an western nation) were to withdraw (cut back) capital and labor, we could bring down any government down in a screaming, burning, heap. Often this is the only option available for those looking for a fairer and better world.

BTW Given the green crusade is religious, they should embrace the tag. Religion brings with it tax free status!

Good story

Shouldn't let the facts get in the way of a good story, but:

I wasn't asked my opinion of debts etc

Yes you were, Paul, It's called federal elections. You may have not voted for Kevin, and may, as in other walks of life, be lumbered with the consequences of decisions you did not make, but that's democracy for you. Are you advocating some other form of political system?

If the top twenty per cent of earners (in an western nation) were to withdraw (cut back) capital and labor, we could bring down any government down in a screaming, burning, heap.

Quite true. On the other hand, if there was no government, there would be no such thing as money in which to be a top 20%.

Given the green crusade is religious

I watched Question Time in the senate a few weeks back. Both the Libs and Labour were busy playing games. It seemed only the tree huggers and religious nutters who were trying to do a decent job. And yet, we vote mostly for Labour and the Libs. Makes me wonder who is nuts.

The criminal activities of the Mafia

Fiona Reynolds: "Where do you think the government gets "its" money from?


Governments either directly steal money from individuals or they print it (devaluing peoples earned money - a form of theft).

The only good government is a broke government. This keeps governments away from "doing things". Taking money from governments is a public service, perhaps not widely regarded as such, a public service all the same though.

(Though I concede that that question is premised on the faint possibility that you do pay tax.)

I pay theft fees. Unfortunately there are some things one cannot fully escape. I do legally try every option though.

With the massive rise in government debt (across the west), and the massive rise in personal savings, it's not hard to see where the next new theft bonanza will be coming from. I'd advise anyone with a decent amount in a bank account (nest egg) "legally" (and it's very legal) shifting toward a third party (different banking system). A protection measure if you will.

When times change, and they always do, return of such funds may again come on the agenda. There's a number of places that have made an artform out of keeping prying eyes well away. And they're easily accessible.

Theft fees

Paul Morrella: "I pay theft fees."

I sincerely hope, then, that you never ever use the products of those theft fees, such as publicly funded roads or schools. Otherwise you would be complicit in that theft, surely something that you with your high ideals would revolt from doing.

A future or a fatality

Eliot, do you really expect others to read only what you want them to read into an article? Both your links support global warming, explain why it's having the effect it is in east Antarctic compared to the warming of the west Antarctic and the various rates of change in different parts of the world. It's all pretty logical, only becoming confusing to some when others try to manipulate what's written, to support their ideological agenda.

Common sense as well as geological history, shows every climate change has varying outcomes depending on locality and environment factors. There's always the chance it's being over exaggerated, but that shouldn't stop us doing something to reverse the ongoing damage we are doing to the planet and it's biodiversity.

Either we are a responsible race, who intends to leave the planet in a decent condition for all life coming after us. Or we continue with the current insane approach, which is clearly fatal for life. Here's a couple of links to the articles, other than the AM transcript.



Gentleman: Let the suing begin

John Pratt: "For those who still think the Earth is cooling this must be a reality check".

I really don't know why the religious climate fanatics bother. Is egg the only thing they wear?

Any person who has lost any future income because of this charade should seriously start considering legal action. With any luck, against a Government authority. The only thing better than money earned is money won at the expense of government. It gives one a real spring in the morning step.


Paul Morrella, I am surprised that an allegedly financially savvy person like you should take pleasure out of winning money "at the expense of the government".

Where do you think the government gets "its" money from?

Or do you really enjoy indulging in self-harm? (Though I concede that that question is premised on the faint possibility that you do pay tax.)

Global temp now 55.04 degrees and rising

The Earth's temperature from January-March 2009 was the 8th-warmest on record, according to data released Thursday from the National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, N.C. The global temperature of 55.04 degrees for the year's first three months was almost a full degree above the 20th-century average of 54.1 degrees

For those who still think the Earth is cooling this must be a reality check.

Sea level rises and coral reefs

Couple of things here from the ABC today.


"In recent years all the headlines have been about ice melting in some of the globe's chilliest places but it seems that global warming may actually be leading to an increase in sea ice in parts of the Antarctic.

Scientists in the United Kingdom have produced a study which shows ice has grown by 100,000 square kilometres each decade over the past 30 years and perversely the increase is being put down to the hole in the ozone layer."

Then there's this:

"Global warming is expected to take a huge toll on the Great Barrier Reef with some experts predicting almost complete coral bleaching in 50 years. But this week marine scientists have had a reason to smile. They've discovered a spectacular recovery of some corals at the southern end of the reef."

Great urgency to respond to climate change

Eliot you forgot to include this, from the interview.

DAVID WACHENFELD: It's incredibly heartening to see how quickly a really healthy coral reef can respond.

But of course at the same time it's somewhat sobering because it makes us realise that reefs do have to be very healthy to survive impacts of climate change, and also indicates to us that we only have a certain amount of time to do something about climate change if we want to keep coral reefs around the world.

NICOLE BUTLER: Dr Wachenfeld is putting that time frame at 50 years.

DAVID WACHENFELD: So there is a great urgency to responding to climate change now and to do everything we can to reduce our greenhouse-gas emissions.

Forced change, or voluntary change

Argue all you want about climate change or warming, the question relates to whether climate geoengineering could solve the problems we see. It's an ideological debate which can't be won or run on ideological grounds, it requires common sense to take action which helps resolve the situation. That's the dilemma the ideologically inclined face on every aspect towards a sane and survivable future, no common sense.

Climate geoengineering is irrelevant, it'll make no difference, probably worse and just put more money into the hands of the rich. All they want to do is try and hide the problems to keep going along the path they are now, not change anything.

The thing we should all be worrying about, yet doing nothing, is ecological collapse and environmental destruction. What's the use of an economic scheme when the natural support base for life is collapsing around us rapidly, city people don't see it, but country people do.

We need a complete change of direction, addressing the ecology, biodiversity, climate, environment and not just money and greed. Climate warming, climate cooling, who cares, we are turning the earth into a barren, smelly, heavily polluted garbage dump. Unless you are blind, look at the sky, your streets and buildings to see the filth our lifestyles create.

But to most, their ideology is more important, than sane approaches to what is a massive viewable deterioration of the planets resources, life and ability to support us sensibly and safely..

No matter what anyone says, we will have to dramatically change our ways of life sometime in the not to disant future. If we do it now whilst we have fossil fuels to survive the changes, we will enhance the economy with new industry and employment, revitalising the entire system. If we wait as ideologists want us to, we face collapse when change is forced upon us. Just a repeat of the historical outcomes of eltist ideolgy, never an evolution and never a good ending.

Getting lost in the woods

Well said, Alga.

CO2 in the atmosphere (arguably the primary cause of global warming which is arguably happening) is simply a symptom of an underlying malaise - non-sustainability and pollution. We are generally ignoring the fundamental illness and treating the symptom. Many of those who are jumping on the bandwagon are those who want to progress their own interests.

Ian Plimer?

Thank you Andrew for the article above which I'll read at leisure with interest.  In the meantime - Plimer has been across all of the media with his book on climate change.  He is a very credible scientist in my view and especially after his defence of science from the attacks of biblical "scientists".  I'd be very interested in your response to Plimer's claims.

Plimer's ideas

I am familiar with Plimer's ideas.

His book contains the subtitle Global warming - the missing science.  One would have to ask where is science missing, in the numerous reports by the CSIRO, BOM, NASA, Hadley-Met, Potsdam-Oceanographic, IPCC, Garnaut Review, Stern Report and thousands of peer-reviewed papers in sciece journals, or in Plimer's book?

Plimer's ideas are inconsistent with basic physics and chemistry of the atmosphere, with the reality of the thermal infrared absorption/emission resonance effect of greenhouse molecules (CO2, CH4, H2O, O3), with the isotopic and with proxy paleo-climate evidence from the ice cores and from sediments, which demonstrate a consistent relation between carbon gases and climate through geological history.

Here is a comprehensive account of the effect of trace gases on the climate, past and present.

For a 2008 review Milestones in the history of the atmospehre with reference to climate change send me a message (geospec@iinet.net.au)and I will send you the pdf.

Global warming and disingenuous solutuions

Ian Plimer:

The level of scientific acceptance of human induced global warming is misrepresented. Furthermore, the claim by some scientists that human-induced global warming is 90 per cent certain (or even 99 per cent) is a figure of speech reflecting the speaker's commitment to the belief.

It has no mathematical or evidential basis. It is comparable to 100 per cent certainty professed by religious devotees that theirs is the one and only true faith.

My experience of dealing with blindingly obvious arguments against creation 'science' was that data and logic were treated with anger, rejection and hostility. Scientific arguments were never addressed. With some rabid environmentalists, human-induced global warming has evolved into a similar religious belief system."

The extensive reliance by global warmers on computer models impresses those with little scientific training. However, the significant manipulation of the source data and the lack of use of many known variables create uncertain outputs. Furthermore, scientific data yet to be discovered cannot be used in a model.

It is very easy for the modeller to produce the predestined outcome before the model can be run. This is a common flaw in mathematical modelling. A model is not real. Models are not evidence. Models with simulations, projections and predictions prove nothing. All a model shows is something about the model itself and the modellers, normally their limitations.

Sorry, just cannot discount Professor Plimer's "research" altogether.

The over-the-top response from the man-made global warming brigade smacks of religious zealotry. I have seen no evidence so far to convince me of the doom and gloom propagated by the brigade.

Why are so many accepting man made global warming as a given? Shouldn't we be proceeding with caution here!

Of course we should all do that we can to preserve our planet. Recycle, lessen pollution ,conserve energy and water etc..

But this bullshit ETS scheme for example, touted as being of some benefit is just rubbish. Won't make one iota of a difference. A token gesture from Rudd, who ,crafty, canny politician that he is, knows full well that the opposition won't pass this dog.

Plimer? (2)

Isn't this Plimer the latest trot-out from the Murdoch denialists?


Kathy, if you are serious about the issue, here is a summary account of global climate change since 1880 (for further information you can contact geospec@iinet.net.au and I can send you recent key reviews from peer-reviewed science journals):

Look at the NASA/GISS's site:

Looking at the 5 years running mean temperature anomalies (GMTA) relative to 1975 (which is defined as "0") (the red line):

1880 - 1910 -0.2C to -0.35C

1910 - 1942 Sharp rise from -0.35C to +0.1C (i.e. rise of 0.45C in 33 years, during which heavy industrial/military production and C pollution occurred related to WW1 and WW2.

1942 - 1950 Decline by about -0.15C (generally attributed to the albedo effects of the industrial SO2 aerosols emitted during the preceding period)

1950 - 1976 Oscillation by +/- 0.1C to 1976 (attributed to the combination of the aerosol factor as well as a low in the 11 years sunspot activity)

1976 - 2006 Sharp rise by +0.55C over 30 years. These includes annual anomalies, in particular the high 1998 El-Nino anomaly.

2007 - 2009 The annual anomaly (black line) falls to +0.45C, attributable to (1) the La Nina cooling phase and (2) low sun spot activity

Note the mean between the end of the 1998 El-Nino anomaly and 2007 is still rising by about +0.1C.

Global cooling associated with the La Nina and minimum sun spot activity occurs from 2007 by about -0.14C.


It is projected that with increased atmospheric energy (temperature) annual and biannual oscillations become sharper, as expressed by extreme weather events, a projection which is unfortunately confirmed by recent events around the world.

The ice core record indicates that temperature rises of about +1.0C result in sea level rises of +6 to +8 meters in the Emian interglacial, 124,000 years ago, and rises of 2 – 3C by +25+/-12 meters in the mid-Pliocene (3 million years ago), so the SL/T ratio is more than 5 meters per 1 degrees C, with implications for 21st century projections.

The difference is between those who are looking at the decade-scale trend, which indicates an overall rise of +0.55C between 1976 and 2007, and those who are looking at annual or biannual variations, such as the 1998 El-Nino or the 2007-9 La Nina.

Nothing would delight me more than if the latter was correct and temperatures continued to fall.

The critical point is to look at mean global temperatures variations at the poles, which act as the Earth's "thermostat" from which cold wet fronts emanate, and where extensive ice melt results in ice/melt feedback effects (a self-enhancing process where the ice albedo loss and the melt water infrared-gain combine as warming water keep melting ice at the surface, beneath and laterally of ice sheets).

Now click on the map (2nd from top) and look at the relative warming of large parts of the Arctic, Siberia and west Antarctica relative to the 1951-1980 base line (or other parameters you can choose). You will find that over the last 30 years or so NH polar temperatures rose by more than 2.0C and in large areas more than 4.0C relative to low-latitude zones and relative to the 1951-1980 baseline.

Climate science uses a combination of criteria, including (A) surface station measurements; (B) satellite measurements of surface (land and ocean) and troposphere temperatures; (3) an analysis of the various forcings (solar, greenhouse gases, aerosol and dust effects, precipitation, evaporation, ocean currents etc). General Circulation Computer models are used to test the compatibility of calculations of the effects of the different forcings with DIRECT MEASUREMENTS --- NOT as a substitute for measurements.

It is when direct observations in nature, instruments measurements and computer analysis and projections agree that a picture starts to emerge.

Unfortunately direct observations since the 1st IPCC report in the early 1990s indicate mean global CO2, temperatures, ice melt rates and sea level rise are tracking at the maximum of the IPCC projection scale, as manifested by a series of extreme weather events (Rahmstorf 2007 paper and reports from the recent Copenhagen meeting).

The game is up

Andrew Glikson: "In so far as any one takes the issue seriously, why don't they consult the excellent summaries or detailed accounts of climate research organizations, such as the CSIRO, BOM, NASA, Hadley-Met, Potsdam and thousands of peer reviewed science papers complied by the IPCC?"

And these organizations seemingly know how a "tax on stuff" will save the world? If they do, they're not telling.

John Pratt: "Even if it was a 50 50 chance that the warming is due to GHG emissions don't you think it would be prudent to err on the side of caution?"

Good intentions are not a defence. If action is taken (on false advice) people should face criminal liability. Both monetary (no doubt will happen) for loss of income, and in some instances custodial sentences. Certainly censure from the relevant bodies would also need to be a part of justice.

Identifying the problem

Paul Morrella, the primary role of scientists and research organizations is in identifying the problem, its magnitude and time scales.

99.9 percent of active climate scientists, as well as those who read the peer-reviewed science journals, are aware that (A) Global warming is all too real; and (B) the pace of ice sheet melt, polar-ward shift of climate zones and related droughts, and sea level rise, are at the top of the IPCC projections.

Whereas science can provide the projections, it is up to society to decide what it is going to do.

The tools exist in the form of deep urgent cuts in emissions, alternative energy (solar-thermal, geothermal, photo-voltaic, hydrogen, wind, tide and other technologies), as well as wide-scale replanting and regeneration of soils.

Geoengineering methods, described in my article, represent desperation state, but likely to be undertaken by the powers that be in view of the overall cultural tendency of modern societies for technological fixes.

Which may prove to be no more than band-aids.

To date, the massive resources, on the scale of $trillions, needed for miitigation and adaptation, are still going into the military-industrial complex, space exploration and a myriad of other activities unrelated to survival of the environment.

Good intentions are not a defence

Paul, a "tax on stuff" will save the world because it will charge for GHG pollution which the free market system has failed to take into account.

By putting a price on carbon, renewable sources of energy will become cost effective. It is all just market economics really.

We will have to pay to use the atmosphere as a rubbish dump.

Why do you think criminal charges should be placed on those advocating a cleaner planet? No harm is caused to anyone trying to keep our climate stable.

Surely criminal charges should be placed on those who have caused the climate problems. The increase in climate related deaths such as the recent bushfire deaths might mean that polluters could actually face murder charges. Remember, good intentions are not a defence.


The question is whether people accept the scientific method.

For example, to what extent would one, as a passanger, offer advice to the pilots of a plane caught in a storm?

Or offer advice to a team of surgeons at the midst of open heart surgery?

Or to physicists while changing enriched uranium cores?

If not, why so little respect to climate scientists who are spending much of their lives researching the atmosphere/ocean system?

In so far as any one takes the issue seriously, why don't they consult the excellent summaries or detailed accounts of climate research organizations, such as the CSIRO, BOM, NASA, Hadley-Met, Potsdam and thousands of peer reviewed science papers complied by the IPCC?

Is not the issue serious enough to attempt to do that?

A cool year or two doesn't change the trend

Pat, what makes you think the earth is cooling?

According to all major temperature reconstructions published in peer-reviewed journals (see graph), the increase in temperature in the 20th century and the temperature in the late 20th century is the highest in the record.

The hottest decade on record:

The decade of 1998-2007 is the warmest on record, according to data sources obtained by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The global mean surface temperature for 2007 is currently estimated at 0.41°C/0.74°F above the 1961-1990 annual average of 14.00°

Then you have evidence like glacial melt:

Data from close to 30 reference glaciers in nine mountain ranges indicate that between the years 2004-2005 and 2005-2006 the average rate of melting and thinning more than doubled.

Pat, let me ask: do you still think the earth is flat?

Human-induced global warming is real, according to a recent U.S. survey based on the opinions of 3,146 scientists.

Let me ask, Pat, do you have a science background, or just a gut feeling?

Even if it was a 50 50 chance that the warming is due to GHG emissions don't you think it would be prudent to err on the side of caution?

Deep! Urgent! Immediate! Disaster! Catastrophe!

Hysteria on climate change. The world is actually cooling. But CO2 is increasing. The sun is less active with 6% less UV. Less x-ray out also. So the earth is cooling.

There is a very much increased chance, no probability stats as we know so little, of a minimum, lasting decades, with even less output. With luck, we will find the sun with more sunspots soon. But without them we will have the usual crop of disasters and none will be CO2 related. Perhaps if we use less energy and less oil in particular, fewer wars will be fought? 

Hysteria suggests inebriation or a desire to deceive on the part of the advocate. I do not trust what you say as you try to overcome my reason with emotion.....

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