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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Snowboard While You Can

posted by on November 28 at 15:39 PM

Speaking of winter sports, one scientist predicts that we may not be able to enjoy ‘em for much longer

The earth has a fever that could boost temperatures by 8 degrees Celsius making large parts of the surface uninhabitable and threatening billions of peoples’ lives, a controversial climate scientist said on Tuesday.

James Lovelock, who angered climate scientists with his Gaia theory of a living planet and then alienated environmentalists by backing nuclear power, said a traumatized earth might only be able to support less than a tenth of it’s 6 billion people.

“We are not all doomed. An awful lot of people will die, but I don’t see the species dying out,” he told a news conference. “A hot earth couldn’t support much over 500 million.”

Lovelock goes on to predict that humanity—all of “life,” actually—will have to move up to the Arctic, like it did during another huge climate shift 55 million years ago. But what does Lovelock know? He’s the whacko that came up with that dingbat Gaia theory and pissed off all those other climate scientists, right?

Lovelock adopted the name Gaia, the Greek mother earth goddess, in the 1960s to apply to his then revolutionary theory that the earth functions as a single, self-sustaining organism. His theory is now widely accepted.


Via Drudge, who naturally pairs the Lovelock link with a link to a story about how unusually cold it is somewhere right now (“Temps in Calgary Hit 100 Year Low”). Pairing these links proves, to Drudge and his readers, that all this talk about “global warming” is a crock of shit.

Of course, global warming carries a risk of extreme shifts in weather patterns, with some places getting much hotter while others get colder. That Calgary is, according to the second link, experiencing an “arctic deep freeze… on track to break a 110-year-old weather record” isn’t evidence that all is well. Far from it.

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Yes, "global warming" is only a small part of the picture. I know that "climate change" is being adopted by some not-very-bright Republican deniers, but it is in fact a more accurate description of what's happening. It's not about a couple of extra degrees here and there; in fact, it's not primarily about surface temps at all. It's much more about disruptions to atmospheric and ocean flows, like the Gulf Stream, upon which pretty much all life depends. The most worrisome thing I've heard recently is that big bubble of cold and dead water that popped up off the coast of Oregon this summer. Stuff like that, caused by human interference with the atmosphere, could cause a very rapid shift in ocean food, which could cause, say, a billion people to starve. Soon.

Or not. It's hard to say. The science is hard, and there's a lot left to learn. But so far, it's pretty much a parade of bad news. There are no optomists in climate science these days.

Posted by Fnarf | November 28, 2006 3:54 PM

Enjoy the times while we still can!

Posted by NiceNess | November 28, 2006 3:57 PM

Drudge is a valid in making the link between cold temperatures somewhere and arguments against global warming as it is for Goreistas making inferences from locally abnormal high temperatures and global warming. If a melting anarctic ice shelf is evidence of global warming, then record cold temperatures somewhere are evidence against it.
What's silly is that this sort of back and forth concerns the one thing everyone who has examined the data agrees on. Global mean temperature is in fact increasing at a rapid rate. Not even Bush denies this anymore. The active debate concerns the causes, whether it's us or some sort of deep historical pattern of climate change.
There is an active debate in the scientific community over the validity of various long historical models. But that debate has nothing to do with whether or not global warming exists. That debate is over pre-historic global mean temperature estimates that could possibly show that the current warming trend is caused by human activity.
In short this whole back and forth about cold temperatures in normally warm places and warm temperatures in normally cold places, is not part of the debate about global warming at all. It's nonsense.

Posted by kinaidos | November 28, 2006 4:02 PM

Appeals to authority are worthless arguments, Dan.

Linus Pauling was a brilliant scientist and a deserving winner of two Nobel Prizes -- and he believed (against all scientific knowledge) that massive doses of ascorbic acid can cure the common cold.

Kerry Mullis also won a Nobel, and is responsible for one of the most transformative inventions in molecular genetics. He's also a few grapes shy of a lunchbox. Among other interesting ideas, he believes that HIV doesn't cause AIDS.

Isaac Newton invented calculus and basic mechanics. He was also a closet alchemist.

I could go on.

The point is clear: don't believe a
"scientist" just because they did something right in the past. That kind of logic gets you nowhere.

Posted by A Nony Mouse | November 28, 2006 4:15 PM

No, there is no debate about what's happening. None. Not every scientist is keen on Lovelock's "Gaia" model, but no serious scientists dispute the climate change results or the fact that they are primarily or entirely caused by human carbon emissions into the atmosphere. Studying the mechanisms of the changes doesn't mean the conclusion is controversial. It's not. By suggesting otherwise Drudge is displaying yet again that he's a lying sack of shit.

Check out The Weather Makers by Tim Flannery.

Posted by Fnarf | November 28, 2006 4:23 PM

The red commie neocons are only agreeing to kill it. The reality is far far worse.

Posted by Will in Seattle | November 28, 2006 4:49 PM

But Drudge is a scientist.... what? He's not?? Hmm. Weird, he sounds so sure of himself. That oughta count for something.

Posted by flamingbanjo | November 28, 2006 5:25 PM

But when the next ice age comes the skiing/snowboarding is gonna kick ass.

Posted by monkey | November 29, 2006 12:01 PM

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