Discussion in 'The Octopus' Den' started by tonmo, Feb 2, 2007.
There's enough buzz to warrant its own thread. We should discuss. Not sure who else will!
Well you know you have me hooked on this one!
well, it sure was an opportune moment for a photo (and story to go with it)! I think those bears are robust enough to make it off their precarious perches.
But mainly the shot is an attention-grabber to bring up issue of the real effects warming may have on polar bears (i.e. forced to swim farther, etc).
As someone whose entire school is populated with dolphin-huggers (nothing wrong with marine mammals.... they need a lot of help recovering and maintaining their populations with as much junk we pump into their domains), I think I keep a middle-of-the-road (i like to call it scientific) approach to climate change that some may think borders on heresy.
My point is, we need to make changes to what we pump into the seas and atmosphere.... but people probably do not need to trade in their cars for bicycles just yet. Not that it would happen anyway. Drastic change isnt going to happen unless, say, WWIII happens and we return to the stone age.
There is a lot that needs to be understood. Thats partially why i changed my major from marine biology to marine science.... because it is much more.... multi-discipline.
Ok, fact: theres more CO2 in the atmosphere than....ever? But here is another: the sun goes through discrete phases of varying activity levels. With all well-documented shifts between ice ages and normal periods, and we dont even have their exact causes pinned down reliably?
Ok! Now.... be gentle with me... no public stoning please? Besides...this is how we advance the collective knowledge of the human race... not by being told that the world is flat or round and blindly believing it... but by asking questions! Force people to find more than one way to prove their theories.
Hopefully politics aside.... These discussions are so much more interesting when we are talking just the science. but we are all nerds here, right? i know i am.
as one of those infamous professors (you know the type) delights to do..... lesse... is this the "devils advocate" smiley?
woo that was fun to write
I have got to ride on your side most of the way here. The best example of what I deem a reasonable approach is what I have seen of Amanda Vincent's set up in the Phillipines with the seahorse program she instituted. It is a myth that poor native peoples understand and treat the environment any better than the industrial nations. There are just fewer people and less destructive means but humans USE the environment. Responsibly encouraging healthy populations so that we can continue using what we have is where I feel emphasis needs to be increased. Many of the public aquariums and some zoos are attempting this kind of education and I feel that aquarium keeping helps to understand the need for a healthy environment. I salute the schools that have hands-on science programs to present this exposure without the "in- your-face" attitude, often in direct conflict with parental behavior, that many schools foster through hands-off book preaching.
If being green means that people have to give up their achieved lifestyle it just won't happen. Finding ways for the companies to save/make money by being more responsible is a winner every time. I feel that science/technology are the only answers to producing less impactive human consumption. Doing without just won't happen and neither will going backwards in time (Case and point - Rober Dole's disasterous bid for the presidency in 1996 - No one wanted to go back to the 1950's even if they agreed that life had gotten too complicated).
We have validated that the earth has always been in a changing state and we have no clue where it is taking us nor will any of us be around to find out. However, the ability to observe and control the negative impact of our usage is one of the things that only human beings can do and somehow the over green and over industrial need to be removed from the decision making to allow progressive control of the envionment.
As for the bears, the documentary I just saw (put out by the BBC and Animal Planet) actually stated that the bears expend less energy and have a more comfortable life during the times the artic is NOT frozen. There is a greater abundance of food and they are designed for long stays in the water. According to the film, it is during their stay on LAND that they face increasing starvation.
I'm aware of the solar cycling and the uncertainty of it all, but when we happen to have reached the highest temperatures recorded on Earth for the last ___ thousands of years (can't find the lecture with that figure, its data from the ice cores) and it happens to coincide with human being's industrialization, its a little too coincidental for me.
I don't think you entirely understood what the BBC one was saying. Yes, polar bears are buoyant and amazing swimmers. However, despite being classified as marine mammals, they cannot swim indefinitely. Therefore, with ice melting they are being forced onto the land more than ever, which, as you did seem to catch, results in increasing starvation. They simply aren't adapted for hunting on land
Also, there is not a greater abundance of food in the water. Polar bears eat seals. They have to. There's no real access to fresh water for the bears and they get their necessary amount by metabolizing fats (ie: seal blubber, they love the stuff). Who do you think is better adapted for a swimming existence, the bears or the seals? The bears need the ice so they can catch the seals once they've hauled out or when they come to a hole in the ice to breath, when they're vulnerable. The CBC documentaries series Planet Earth showed a polar bear so desperate for food, after swimming many kilometres back to land, that it was trying to attack a herd of walruses. Didn't go so well for the bear and it died of its injuries.
I'm not trying to attack people. I love this community and the openness it allows. I am just tired of people being "conservative" and "objective" when the world is changing. The bottom-line is, what if it is our fault? What if it is us, and we do nothing, and we ruin this planet for most forms of life? I know I don't want that to be my species legacy.
I can tell this is going to be a good thread!
these are the two school's of thought i always see... the "we dont fully understand the processes, i dont think humans are powerful enough to have these effects,"
and then the "but what if we are?" school of thought.
as I said, i'm not quite either of these. but i'm interested to find the answer.
I'm all about protecting what we have and cutting pollution. You wont find many people madder than I was when one of my professors returned from a survey in China, without sighting a single river dolphin.... still gets my blood boiling
they cant officially declare it extint until i hasnt been seen for 50 years... but the chances of a viable population existing still are slim.
This is more than a little misleading, IMO. Geologists (you know, those people who collected all the data to begin with) have had a very good understanding of orbital forcing and its relationship to glacial/interglacial cycles for almost a hundred years. The historical record has become much more detailed since then via the collection of stable isotope data from glacial ice, reef carbonate and foramifera. This supports the orbital forcing model in no small way.
There's no question our understanding of global climate has a ways to go, but at this point the only way to discount global warming is to shortchange the level of knowledge we do have. We know what the partial pressures of O2 and CO2 were in the ocean and in the atmosphere for the last 200 million years. We know what the temperature and sea level were for much longer. We know how the pH of the ocean has changed over time and how organisms and climate react. When the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere shifts in geologic history, generally we can even discern where it came from. There is data in the geologic record that shows orbital data (both insolation and tidal) a hundred million years ago--we're not just talking the last few ky. We understand these relationships pretty darn well. If you're not getting any of this information from your "marine sciences" major, either you're in a Shamu-feeding program or you should consider a better school!
Quite ironically we owe most of this knowledge to companies like Exxon. If they didn't sink so much money into R&D and exploration, we would have no idea what was about to hit us.
with the caveat that I don't understand this particularly well, and just got a crash course from Hallucigenia recently, apparently the orbital version of this (mostly the impact of Jupiter and Saturn on the Earth's orbit) kinda-sorta explain the observed ice ages and whatnot, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milankovitch_cycles for a pretty good explanation. However, some astrophysicist seems to have come up with a solar physics cycles model that might turn out to be an alternative explanation: http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/01/24/2352218 -- I'm not qualified to assess the relative merits, but he doesn't seem like a complete crank.
Anyway, though, it drives me completely nuts when issues get politicized enough that more people are pushing a political agenda with "spin science" (which may or may not be wrong) to the point where it's hard to have an intelligent discussion of a topic, because there's too much FUD around. As far as I've been able to tell from scientists I respect, though, the science-spin-FUD in Gore's "Inconvenient Truth" movie is a fairly accurate representation of the best guesses of most academics who make careers out of studying this stuff. Although anyone who says they understand the whole system is blowing smoke, most of the objections to the fundamental premise of increased greenhouse gas leading to climate change seem to be taking nit-picky details and using them as an excuse for a political position of "it's not 100% proven right, so we might as well assume it's wrong, since that's aligned with our politics."
A more concerning issue, for me, is that we don't have any real, tested theory about what will happen to the Earth as we shift a few parameters (particularly CO2 levels) into domains where we haven't seen them before, so we don't know what will happen, and when whatever does happen happens, we'll be stuck with it for many lifetimes. Since we pretty much evolved to be in the "sweet spot" that we like now, any change is likely to be for the worse, so I think there's a very strong rational argument for trying to head off a potential problem at the pass, since even if there were only a 10% chance that we could be at risk for making Earth a lousy place to live, I'm not really into Russian Roulette, and I've never heard a convincing argument that the "gloom and doom" climate scientists stand a 10% or less chance of being right.
I make a habit of trying to be very critical of overstated claims, because seeing science misrepresented for political spin bugs me no matter what the source, and despite this tendency I'm convinced that there is real reason for concern on this issue.
I often wonder whether people should reference their comments on a thread like this. Then we could tell where they got their information from. As for myself I'd like to read this new climate change report, before I come to any conclusions.
Right, let's tone that rhetoric down, please! This thread will not live if we can't figure out a way to discuss ideas/facts/theories, and avoid attacking people or personalities. It would be a shame if we couldn't accomplish this here (I know we can!).
This is the bummer about talking climate change... there's relaxed people and... non. I'm really just throwing stuff out there and seeing what other throw in their replies.
woah posts abound in between refreshes.
Fluffy: My apologies if I was a bit harsh--but lets be honest: you can't take a "scientific" view of this by dismissing the science, which is essentially the position you took in your post. I'm happy to apologize for being caustic, but I won't apologize for calling you out on that :)
Monty: There's plenty of "observational experiments" in the history of the Earth where we can look at causes and effects of shifting "CO2 parameters." The Paleocene/Eocene Thermal Maximum is one such event: a rapid, massive increase in the concentration of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and ocean that's associated with a rapid-onset (civilization-scale, thousands of years) extreme heating event (5-8 degrees C) and ocean acidification. The amount of carbon that probably caused this over a couple thousand years isn't that far off from what we've put in a century or two. (!)
These data aren't ambiguous--this isn't an argument between different computer models predicting the future like the radio hosts like to suggest--this is cold, hard history. I agree with you that the critics in the scientific community tend to be old cranks who are holding onto a nitpick. This is the nature of science: there are still a handful of old scientists still alive who don't believe in plate tectonics, and a couple who don't believe birds originated from dinosaurs. The concept of either not being the case is pretty much preposterous, as much as suggesting that the DNA molecule isn't involved in cellular division.
Also to Monty: Milankovitch is pretty much canonical, although the term orbital forcing is a bit more PC because it allows for more than just his contributions. Its better than "kinda-sorta."
I suggest this as a valuable site.
Here's one about reducing your carbon footprint.http://www.stopglobalwarming.org/sgw_read.asp?id=549166122006
here's a British site
Another on your carbon footprint
A British site for calculating your carbon footprint.
another good site
Bottom line: Even if for some reason you choose to ignore most of the world's leading climate scientists, there is no excuse for not doing what you can. If your doctor told you that your carotid was 97% occluded you wouldn't wait until you had a massive stroke to take action would you? Well, about 97% of climate scientists believe that we are in deep trouble if we don't take action now. It's a no brainer that each of us should take responsibility to do anything we can to reduce our carbon footprint. Small steps by many individuals can help. If all of us replace just one light bulb with a compact flurescent it would help. If we all replaced all of our light bulbs it would help a whole lot. Right now anything we do is voluntary. If we don't take voluntary steps now, in the not so distant future it may become mandatory.
To be fair, experts can be wrong. Many modern astronomers have no problem buying into string theory hook, line and sinker despite the fact that its completely untestable. If 97% of scientists jumped off a cliff, would you, too? :)
My point is that the reason we get an education is so that we ourselves can be prepared to research and evaluate these concepts on our own without having to rely blindly on experts, who can be as petty as the rest of us. In this instance, the literature is pretty dense and it does take a lot of patience for someone from outside the field to get through it. But, once you have that basic understanding of how this science is done its pretty clear that climate change isn't smoke and mirrors and is very well supported with hard science.
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