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CO2 emissions cause climate change. Do they really?

by Volker Weber

An Inconvenient Truth or The Great Global Warming Swindle?

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And it could be the sun. I remember about ten years ago hearing that the sun is in one of its warmest phases in about 1100 years.

Chris Whisonant, 2007-03-26

I don't get this debate.

In my mind, why do we need to prove that man may have caused global warming? Even if we did not cause global warming, why not start improving the environmental impact of worldwide industry just on the simple principle of being friendly to our world?

Oh, that's right. Because people make money off damaging this world. How could I forget that?

Dave Armstrong, 2007-03-26

After reading Michael Crichton's "State of fear" a while ago, I decided to spend a little time doing "research" (i.e. checking Wikipedia, searching Google, browsing blogs etc.) to make up my mind on whether there is, or is not, a human cause for global warming. One thing I noticed is that among those questioning the global warming theory, there are many assholes, including Crichton himself. This seems to be true for the director of the "Swindle" movie (at least if this entry is to be believed).

Other than that, one can find good and convincing arguments for both sides, although admittedly, there seem to be more who argue for the global-warming-related-to-human-co2-POV. But the end result is that I don't believe it's possible to come to any meaningful conclusion, short of spending a few years becoming a climate scientist yourself -- which means that nobody will believe you anymore.

Stefan Tilkov, 2007-03-26

I don't know if CO2 emissions cause global climate change. I don't know if it is a good idea to shorten an airplane's wings or not. I don't know if broad distribution of antibiotics will lead to development of resistant disease strains. I don't even know if nuclear reactors should be round or square.

In each of these cases, though, there are people who do know the answers. I don't know why random people with no background in the subject think they should debate it.

But then, I'm clearly not that bright. I still can't follow the idea that it somehow matters whether or not global climate change is caused by human behavior. Is it somehow ok to have natural disasters just because they're natural? If you could prevent a tsunami or a hurricane, shouldn't you? Or do we only need to solve the problem if we also caused it? That's a neat technique for work avoidance, but once we reach the ripe old age of, say, 7, we usually realize that sometimes we have to clean up somebody else's mess.

Rob McDonagh, 2007-03-27

If you build near to water, your house will get wet. If you build under a glacier, your house will get burried under snow. If you build on a volcano, your house will melt.

Respect nature. If you need an argument for that: Do it because you depend on it.

It doesn't get any simpler.

Alexander Gabriel, 2007-03-27

Simple answer: there are some very good comments here. I am surprised.

Jens-B. Augustiny, 2007-03-27

A rebuttal, published in the British newspaper Guardian.

Hanno Zulla, 2007-03-27

Volker, I'm somewhat amazed that you brought up this topic in such a 'blunt' manner. OK, probably to stimulate discussion... and you succeeded ;-)

Even a UN board comprised of people from 40 countries (the IPCC) can agree on the fact that global warming is man-made and that urgent action is required - all other signs on the horizon left aside. And I'm not talking about mere politics here. As far as I know, this is backed by hard scientific evidence taking into account more than one possible reason.

And then there's those others. I can't find any evidence in their line of reasoning that mankind is not the culprit. They follow their monocausal model of the sun growing hotter than normal. This even correlates with climate events in the last few hundred years? What a coincidence! (I saw three gay people the other day. They were wearing red shoes. So all people wearing red shoes must be gay.)

Even if those others were right, and the sun's intensified activity really caused global warming - can it be good to load our pollution on top, boosting the effect? Besides, some of the the things the guys in the movie said really made me roll my eyes. Blessed are the ignorant.

So let's not be alarmed. Let's carry on like before. But don't build your house too near to the seashore.

Frank Dröge, 2007-03-27

Why not to build the house on the seashore? In the end this will not matter anyway - this planet is doomed, and so will be mankind, if it will stick to it for too long. It only a matter of time when the next big global freezing/asteroid impact/supervulcano/younameit will happen and will lead to the massive extinction of nearly all lifeforms on earth including humans. Such things happens.
Of cause I would be very upset, if it will happen to me.

Gregory Engels, 2007-03-27

The site linked to is funded by Exxon, as are a lot of so-called research groups that produce "research", "proving" that global warming is not man made. I wouldn't call it exactly unbiased.

John Keys, 2007-03-27

@Stefan: Calling someone an asshole doesn't invalidate his arguments.

@Dave: There are also people who make money of saving the world.

@John: Almost every science is funded by someone.

Oliver Stör, 2007-03-27

Oliver: I'd love to be one of them. :)

Dave Armstrong, 2007-03-27

John, thanks a lot for that link. The site may not be unbiased too ;-) but it is definitely some piece of work that I'd like to see on other topics as well.

Frank Dröge, 2007-03-27

@Frank - no it's also not unbiased - I agree. However, try and get a copy of "When Smoke Ran Like Water" by Devra Davies.

It makes interesting reading about manipulation of the media, laws and research by the automotive industry in the widest sense. It makes interesting reading and is backed up by references to the orginal papers and reports that are quoted. It also reports that Exxon in particular funds some very dubious research.

John Keys, 2007-03-27

Oops - even with a preview, there were a few too "many interesting readings" there! Sorry ;-)

John Keys, 2007-03-27

@John, I think I can cope with it ;-) The book is in the cart... thx again!

Frank Dröge, 2007-03-28

"You may be interested to know that global warming, earthquakes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters are a direct effect of the shrinking numbers of Pirates since the 1800s. For your interest, I have included a graph of the approximate number of pirates versus the average global temperature over the last 200 years. As you can see, there is a statistically significant inverse relationship between pirates and global temperature."

Source: http://www.venganza.org/about/open-letter/

Karl-Henry Martinsson, 2007-03-28

@Karl: Indeed there is an indirect relation between the shrinking number of pirates and global warming - think about it... ;-)

@Dave: 100% agree

I am sure that mankind will not be able to destroy planet earth - whether with CO2 emission or not, but vice versa.

Dennis Ruddigkeit, 2007-03-28

Mars: Na, wie geht's?
Erde: Schlecht. Ich hab Mensch.
Mars: Ach, das geht vorbei.

Volker Weber, 2007-03-28

We're talking about theories, right? At both sides, which have both supporting scientists. So I guess the truth lays somewhere between, meaning that mankind has some influence on the climate.

But I don't believe in any guesses how large this influence is. Hey, we're talking about just a moment in earth history and the climate was always changing ... in different directions and with different rate.
What is "normal" climate for earth? IMHO there never was a normal climate nor will there be one.

At the bottom line we should try to influence the climate in a way that it becomes as human friendly as possible. And don't panic, please.

Martin Hiegl, 2007-03-28

by the way, what's going on with BSE?

Always remember. Dealing with Fear is the greatest Power on Earth! Almost every Country knows how to work with it.
Read Machiavelli "Il Principe" and you should know almost all about Politics. It's allways actual even about 600 Years later from Machiavellies Book Release.

Viktor Kostic, 2007-03-28

@Martin - all theories are not inherently equal. Those that fit the facts better are more likely to be correct. Climate is an enormously complex system that we may never understand completely. With a vast majority of the world's climate scientists saying that a large portion of climate change is man-made, I think we must take global warming seriously

I agree with you that we shouldn't panic.

Bruce Perry, 2007-03-28

Bruce, Science is no Democracy. There was a vast majority of the world's physics scientists saying that there's something called aether (is it in English aether as well?).
Science has to been taken as critical as everything else and that there's a majority doesn't mean that it is correct.

And after all "the facts" are often interpreted as well, for example they only assume that the increasing number (that's another assumption - due to the fact that we only no a blink of earth history) of natural disasters and their stronger impact is related to climate. The assumption sounds logical, but it is no fact.

That's no appeal to pollute the air and nature. I love clean air (I grew up in the countryside) and hate the smell of cities and that's my impluse to filter in cars. And I think oil is more important for plastic and that's why we should get away from powering our cars with that liquid gold.

Martin Hiegl, 2007-03-28

Martin, I agree. That many people believe something doesn't mean it's true.

On the other hand, when trying to make a judgment in a field where I lack expertise, I'd take the majority opinion of experts in that field seriously.

It doesn't make that opinion automatically right, but I'd suggest it has a better chance of being right. Or a better chance of being closer to right if you want to take a very long view of things.

Bruce Perry, 2007-03-28

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I explain difficult concepts in simple ways. For free, and for money. Clue procurement and bullshit detection.

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