Scientists start to panic over climate change

May 20th, 2008

Australian of the year, well-known scientist and climate change activist, Tim Flannery is sounding decidedly panicky as he suggests a technical plan to save us from climate change. The plan essentially amounts to terraforming the planet by pumping sulphur into the upper atmosphere in the hope that global dimming will counteract the effects of warming caused by greenhouse gasses. His chilling quote: “”The current burden of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere is in fact more than sufficient to cause catastrophic climate change”. Let’s hope that he is wrong, or better, that in the face of impending disaster we don’t panic and multiply our problems.

The plan is no doubt intended to be a last ditch scenario to stave off massive collapse of the ecosystem and consequently civilisation as we appreciate it (at least I hope it is). I fully expect that there is some scientific thinking behind this – some, but not nearly enough. I also think that is it an unacceptable risk, but I understand why the professor and other scientists are starting to panic.

The are a number of “tipping point” scenarios that could lead to catastrophic and “irreversable” (taking millions of years to correct) failure of the global environment. This may have happened already in prehistory: the “Permian–Triassic extinction event“, is believed to have been a climate change tipping point where 70-90% of all species were wiped out (perhaps by as little as a 6 degree C change). These scenarios scare the pants off me, and hopefully you too. This is not just a matter of slapping on more sunscreen folks: the effect on our civilisations is hard to fathom, but would surely lead to the demise of millions, if not billions, of humans.

Yes, as people often mention, the climate has been hotter in the past, but they usually fail to mention (or realise) that the consequences have been dire. The current situation may be even worse – never before in history has climate changed anywhere near this rapidly, and CO2 increases do not seem to have been affected by our efforts so far. Stop second guessing it – trust in the overwhelming scientific consensus, and don’t be confused by the those seeking to muddy the facts. Work harder to pressure governments to improve their climate policy. Work harder to reduce your carbon footprint. But most of all, don’t panic!

Posted in Environment | 6 Comments »

6 Responses to “Scientists start to panic over climate change”

  1. Damien Simmonds Says:

    What a load of garbage!! There is no scientific consensus and the planet is not warming at the moment and is actually cooling as CO2 increases. CO2 is not a pollutant and is in fact a vital gas that we require to survive. In fact it is a fertilizer that is used in horticulture to promote growth. I cannot wait until the scam is exposed by someone who is involved and blows the whistle. And its starting already.

  2. Sam Stainsby Says:

    Damien, I suggest you consult a few peer-reviewed climate change journals to see just how huge the consensus on human-caused climate change is. Have a look at the abstracts in “Climatic Change” for example:

    http://www.springerlink.com/content/100247/

    You information on CO2 is distorted: it has already been shown that CO2 in some situations retards plant growth, and it is well known that concentrations of CO2 that are even a fraction of a percent can be harmful to animal life. All this and its a greenhouse gas too!

  3. Damien Simmonds Says:

    Well Sam, if scientists are of a consensus, then why are these 31000 scientists signing this petition. http://www.petitionproject.org/
    And why has the planet actually been cooling for the last 7 years while CO2 has been increasing.
    Perhaps this sort of scaremongering that you portray will eventually go the same way as the creatures that owned the world previously.
    CO2 is NOT a greenhouse gas as much as the 98% water vapour in the atmosphere the is heated by the sun.

  4. Sam Stainsby Says:

    Damien, these are old arguments covered in details elsewhere. Here is the synopsis.

    petitionproject: This petition was not done under controlled conditions. Most of the signers were not climate scientists, and many were not even scientists. In fact, some were fictional cartoon characters. It is also ancient history (more than a decade old I think?), and many viewpoints have changed in that time.

    “why has the planet actually been cooling for the last 7 years while CO2 has been increasing”

    It hasn’t – see NASA GISS data. In general, you need to discern the ripples on the bathtub from the drop in level when you pull the plug out. Anyone that watches the stock market knows this. We are just coming out of a solar minimum, which makes the continued rise even more telling.

    “CO2 is NOT a greenhouse gas as much as the 98% water vapour in the atmosphere the is heated by the sun.”

    Indeed, and if CO2 raises the temperature, there is more water vapour, yes?

    I take it you didn’t go and look at the climate science journals as I suggested? Most have free abstracts online.

  5. Damien Simmonds Says:

    There is no evidence what so ever that CO2 raises the planets temperature, its only a theory, that’s what all the debate is about, there are so many more issues involved. I am sure you can provide the evidence that the signers are not scientists??? I’m sure they would be interested in your views. And who cares how long ago the petition started?
    This year has been the 2nd quietest sun since 1900, only 1913 was quieter with 311 days, hence the reason for a cooler planet.
    Even those who were payed to continue the rubbish are now coming out. http://mises.org/story/2571
    The greatest thing about this issue will be the observations and not garbage and manipulated computer models.

  6. Sam Stainsby Says:

    Damien wrote: “This year has been the 2nd quietest sun since 1900, only 1913 was quieter with 311 days, hence the reason for a cooler planet.”

    There a good summation by NASA here:
    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/2008/
    From the intro:
    “The meteorological year, December 2007 through November 2008, was the coolest year since 2000, according to the Goddard Institute for Space Studies analysis of surface air temperature measurements. It was the ninth warmest year in the period of instrumental measurements, which extends back to 1880. The nine warmest years all occur within the eleven-year period 1998-2008.”

    .. the rest makes good reading.