Kahuna wrote:I have seen some articles of late which say that CO2 is rising even faster World-Wide than had been predicted (although not in the U.S.), yet temperature has been essentially flat for a decade or more. Since AGW theory says that temperature is primarily a function of atmospheric CO2 levels, how can the temp resist the added CO2 forcing for so long. Clearly there must be other counteracting forces at play. Given that fact, how in the world can say that we understand the CO2/Temp relationship well enough to bet our economy on it? I do not get how the IPCC et al are so sure of the relationship impending doom when it has not played out according to the theory so far.
This Forbes article hits most of the high points of my quandry:
Here are some things you should think about.
1) Discounted Cash Flow and Net Present Value
If you do a discounted cash flow on the possibility of the world economy mainly collapsing in 50 years then you find that today's Net Present Value of the world is not very dependent on whether it happens or not - much the same as having a 99 year lease on a building - most people are not going to live this long so do not think about it. However, for mankind it would generally have some very severe consequences, and most people with grandchildren would probably wish to avoid it at all costs.
2) So how much would it cost to insure against such severe disruption due to climate? Measures to save CO12 emissions mainly pay for themselves in the end, and will probably result in increased growth rates for economies which have to import a lot of energy, like the USA. So the budget should be quite large if you think the probability of major disruption due to climate will be higher than just insignificant.
If AGW magically disappears and you spend 1% of the GNP per year to guard against it, then we will all survive with not too much disruption to standard of living.
If AGW is real (and it looks like it is) and will cause major disruption, then one way or another the bill will arrive at the feet of the perpetrators of CO2 emissions - of which the USA is the outstanding historical emitter which currently has done almost zero to mitigate emissions, unlike most of the rest of the world. Can't you see the foreign claims coming in starting 2030 ro so, not to mention claims for subsidies from the inhabitants of Miami as they slowly submerge.
3) Why doesn't warming always mean increase in temperatures? The oceans can absorb heat to keep the air temperature on land down. These have both surfaces and deeper bits, with complex currents which transfer heat upwards and downwards.
If you think about it, atmospheric pressure is equivalent to around 32 feet of water, so you might expect the a given area of land with atmosphere above to store a similar quantity of heat as if it had 32 feet of water above it. Water will store more heat than the same mass of air, but let's ignore that.
Now around 70% of the earth is covered by ocean and half of it is at least 10,000 feet deep. So the average depth is at lest 5,000 feat. Spread this around 100% of the earth's surface and you get 3,500 feet.
The atmosphere is worth 32 feet remember in terms of crude heat storage. So the heat stored by the atmosphere is less than 1% of the heat which can be stored in oceans.
Global warming means that the combination of oceans and air are getting warmer. But >99% of the heat is stored by the oceans, and air temperature over just a few years is therefore very dependent on what goes on in the oceans, including currents caused by el nino, la nina etc. In principle this clearly makes sense - so the real question is whether the current small increase in air temperatures is more than balanced by a large increase in the heat stored in the oceans.
Over the long terms you would expect these oceanic oscillations to even out and the long-term surface air temperature to reflect the heat stored in ocean + air. But not necessarily short term.
Thus a true picture of how much warming on average there will be is going to be more complicated than most people realise.
Which is why the AGW skeptics like to seize on individual figures and say "it is not happening." without really pursuing the big picture in detail. Politically, this is also easy to do - the vast majority of politicians and businessmen are non-scientists and have a vested interest and the vast majority of voters are pretty stupid too.
So who should we believe? The majority of climatologists who understand the subtleties and complexity of climate which has to be modelled, or the "let's pick on this graph today to campaign against global warming, before the climatologists find an argument to rebut it" skeptic?
Last edited Fri, 11 Nov 2011, 1:10pm
Assumptions: 1) E=1/2CV2. (Only dummies assume this). (I am one of these dummies).