I think that the issue quickly becomes a political one because of some of the draconian solutions proposed. It seems that the 'environmental cause' is not just for the environment, but is also being used as cover for a range of socio-economic initiatives. That just complicates an already complicated issue.
I notice that a lot of folk, specifically but not exclusivly those who are not climate scientests, hit on a specific issue, solar insolation as an example, and form a very lightly informed opinion. There is nothing wrong with that if you study and then grow beyond it, but it can really get in the way sometimes. The solar insolation is not a contravening piece of this puzzle. It is an important part of it and has been, since the first few years of this study, a major part of the study. I did read one of the NOAA reports "Temperature Trends in the Lower Atmosphere" from April 2006. This is like an introduction to a small part of this huge body of study. Pretty heavy going for a novice. The killer problem for us novices is that the actual weather prediction from global warming has so many butterfly effects (randomizing factors), that you are unable to, as example, link the specific exceptional heat wave in the US this summer to any specific changes that can be traced directly to global warming. I have not had time to see if I can find any current studies on all the other factors that affect the GW equation. Deforestation, large scale irrigation, the impacts of aerosols and disolved compounds in runoff, and our pressure on some/many critical life forms. Fun to study, if you have a mind to, but kind of scarry to see so many strong points of view that are so badly informed. If we could figure out an optimum course of action, we would not let ourselves take it for the sake of argument.
As an EE I think in simple Thermo terms - heat source, absorbtion, radiation, etc... I certainly am not a thermo expert; I just know enough to be able to mitigate heat when I need to.
I haven't taken the time to research much of this, mainly because I believe it to have a flawed premise. I was party to research in my college days and have seen data that put the whole AGW thing to bed for me. There was data showing a direct corralation between solar activity and planetary warming. Not big news for most of the planets, but the earth showed exactly the same trends, even with the atmosphere damping things. I wish I would have had the forsight to personally archive the report, but frankly, the global warming thing has lasted longer than I thought it would.
I am going to have to look into this super-weather thing some more. The mechanisms do not seem intuitive to me. Higher humidity and saturation of air in an ever warming system leads me to believe that we would have less severe weather and become more like Yoda's home world (pardon the analogy to a fictious planet).
Maybe I can come back and revive this old thread one more time another 6 months from now! This has probably been the most commented Design News article ever.
Sorry. I forgot. Why does increased evaporation from the oceans/etc, imply increased storm activity and increased storm strength. As you know, what goes up, must come down. Thus more rain, bigger, more often, more violent storms. I am a physicist, not a serious weather scientist. You could study up on the science and perhaps come back and make me look like a fool? Consider that encouragement to do just that. As a scientist at heart, I would as soon have you show me where I am wrong as accept that I know a little about the subject and let it go at that.
1. The use of the term thermodynamics here seems to decorate the discussion not direct it. 2. The thermo + nuclear reactions + electro plasma dynamics and gravity of the sun has resulted in it being a surprisingly stable long lived star. The awesome violence and turbulence results in a very steady driver for our greenhouse effect. 3. The long term drift of solar insolation and other astronomical effects (as our pole drift), have been considered extensively as part of the greenhouse studies. Were this subject freshly brought up you might be right to point this out. But at this point you should study the existing science and either add to it or at least discuss it, and not just hold forth with partly formed opinions on it. This confuses people who know less than you do about it. 4. You are right that if the earth were a dry flat sphere, we could expect the day night temperature differences to decrease. In fact the original calculation, presumed all else constant except CO2 warming, predicted (as I recall) about 3 times the heating that we observe. Water, mountains and seas, dramatically change this behavior though. And then it gets interesting. 5. A gradual warming of a couple of degrees does not have much effect. This is also not how you will observe the weather that is driven by this global warming. The weather itself will be more violent and distributed differently than now. We are changing the driving function (global heat input) gradually, and the weather is responding. The predictability of that response is a very difficult problem. The recent continent wide heat wave has already had a huge impact on our food supply. If this is driven further, to become more common, by additional global warming, feeding our kids may become much harder than today. 6. BTB. Without the greenhouse effect the earth would be a frigid ball of ice. Had we a lot more atmosphere and oceans, a runaway greenhouse effect would drive us to a Venus. I am not thrilled that we do not now have a very good idea of just what factors give us "just the right amount" of global warming, but the impact of screwing that up even by a small percentage may bring to mind your citing evolution. That which can survive does, that which cannot, dies. We choose our survival strategy. If we choose wrong, we and a whole lot of other life, will get a chance to test the limits of evolution.
I'm glad that you are not "under rating" in your version of calamity, but that was not the subject of the post. Where am I wrong regarding thermodynamics or the extrapolation to a standard global temperature gradient?
You are still making a leap from increased evaporation to increased storm activity or even desertification as others espouse. I am still trying to find someone to explain why my ideas are poorly thought out; credibly.
I have heard a lot of eronious comments regarding the size of the impact due to global heating of a few degrees. This is generally failing to grasp the actual issues. A very small heating effect increases evaporation rates of the oceans a lot and forces a lot more storm activity. Effects are not uniform at all, and will result in a shift in weather patterns. Should they shift substantially, or just become less predictable, they will have a very large effect on our food production. The best we can hope for is a predictable average warming. It is unclear if the recent mid west heat wave is going to become the new norm, but it is already having a very serious effect. I would recommend caution in under-rating the risks here without a lot more expertese in the subject.
And I hate it when people try to justify poorly thought out ideas with the scientific sounding "thermodynamics". Thats one of my favorite physics subject because so many get it so wrong so often.
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