Cornell Expert: World has underestimated climate-change effects

Mar 22, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Professor Charles Greene asserts in the journal Oceanography that the world's policymakers have underestimated the potential dangerous impacts that man-made climate change will have on society.

The world's have underestimated the potential dangerous impacts that man-made will have on society, said Charles H. Greene, Cornell professor of earth and atmospheric sciences.

As one of the authors of "A Very Inconvenient Truth," published in the peer-reviewed journal Oceanography (March 2010), Greene said that he and his co-authors conclude that the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2007 4th assessment report underestimates the potential dangerous effects that man-made climate change will have on society.

"Even if all man-made emissions were stopped tomorrow and carbon-dioxide levels stabilized at today's concentration, by the end of this century the global average temperature would increase by about 4.3 degrees Fahrenheit, or about 2.4 degrees centigrade above pre-industrial levels, which is significantly above the level which scientists and policymakers agree is a threshold for dangerous climate change," Greene said.

"Of course, will not stop tomorrow, so the actual temperature increase will likely be significantly larger, resulting in potentially catastrophic impacts to society unless other steps are taken to reduce the Earth's temperature.

"Furthermore, while the oceans have slowed the amount of warming we would otherwise have seen for the level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the ocean's thermal inertia will also slow the cooling we experience once we finally reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. This means that the temperature rise we see this century will be largely irreversible for the next thousand years.

"Reducing greenhouse gas emissions alone is unlikely to mitigate the risks of dangerous climate change. Society should significantly expand research into geoengineering solutions that remove and sequester greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere. Geoengineering solutions must be in addition to, not replace, dramatic emission reductions if society is to avoid the most dangerous impacts from climate change."

Greene's co-authors are D. James Baker of the William J. Clinton Foundation and Daniel H. Miller of the Roda Group, Berkeley, Calif.

View the full paper (PDF format) online.

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rachielondon
3.3 / 5 (11) Mar 23, 2010
I completely agree, there is way to many ignorant groups of people that aren't looking at the science and that lies in the problem.

Eventually we will have to remove some greenhouse gases to balance out the damage that's already done and use all the new energy technologies that we are developing. It's almost should be common sense for anyone that knows a little basic science.
LSheffield
3 / 5 (8) Mar 23, 2010
rachielondon - just a language-hint:

After 'agree' (3rd word), there shouldn't be a comma. Almost anything else (dash, colon, semicolon - even period) would work if correctly phrased.
"there is way to many" probably wants to be
"there are way too many".
Maybe add a comma after 'science' in the last sentence of the 1st paragraph.

"It's almost should be common sense ..."
(that reads a little rough - maybe the "'s" in "It's" is wrong)
LSheffield
2.4 / 5 (10) Mar 23, 2010
I found the paper sadly lacking (though with a few very good points):

No atmospheric component, other than CO2, was addressed.
Models were referred to as predictive (I have no respect for model-monkeys).
Sources seemed to be biased toward Hansen et al., devoid of admitting any of the recent quandaries posed by various papers utilizing satellite-based observations.
I infer, due to their per-century temperature increase, that they have convinced themselves of a strong positive forcing-feedback ... not certain that's real science.
I have little respect for scientists who are content without actually making observations.
dobermanmacleod
1.7 / 5 (12) Mar 23, 2010
It is even worse than painted above, because current climate models don't include both natural methane emissions and ecosystem collapse in a warming world. Pretty sad. By the way, there is a simple and cheap way to immediately cool down the Earth: just add a little (more) sun dimming aerosol to the upper atmosphere (too bad that doesn't address ocean acidification).
otto1923
3.6 / 5 (8) Mar 23, 2010
there is a simple and cheap way to immediately cool down the Earth
There is an even simpler, cheaper solution: wait for the many pending geologic mega-disasters to occur; super volcanos like Toba, yellowstone, or the one under Loch Ness; overdue earthquakes in Japan, the US west coast, or the Canary islands; or the inevitable impact from outer space. Any of these will throw climate models askew and any are inevitable. We could also let political events take their course in Kashmir or Iran and let a nice nuclear autumn cool things down for us. The resulting loss of life and effects on global commerce will only help.
danman5000
2.4 / 5 (7) Mar 23, 2010
"Even if all man-made greenhouse gas emissions were stopped tomorrow and carbon-dioxide levels stabilized at today's concentration, by the end of this century the global average temperature would increase by about 4.3 degrees Fahrenheit, or about 2.4 degrees centigrade above pre-industrial levels, which is significantly above the level which scientists and policymakers agree is a threshold for dangerous climate change," Greene said.

Sounds like we're already screwed, so might as well consume while we can. Smoke em if you got em.
rachielondon
3.7 / 5 (6) Mar 23, 2010
rachielondon - just a language-hint:

After 'agree' (3rd word), there shouldn't be a comma. Almost anything else (dash, colon, semicolon - even period) would work if correctly phrased.
"there is way to many" probably wants to be
"there are way too many".
Maybe add a comma after 'science' in the last sentence of the 1st paragraph.

"It's almost should be common sense ..."
(that reads a little rough - maybe the "'s" in "It's" is wrong)


You're right. I was typing quickly and watching television, so I didn't proofread it. I think it was readable enough to understand my points on the issue though. Thanks


JayK
3.9 / 5 (7) Mar 23, 2010
Most scientific and engineering endeavors are made using models, so it appears that LSheffield has no experience with either.

As for positive feedback? Permafrost and albido would like to have some words with you in the dark alley out back.
3432682
Mar 23, 2010
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
jonnyboy
1.4 / 5 (9) Mar 23, 2010
And from this so-called global climate expert's own biography...Our US GLOBEC research began in 1995 as an investigation of factors regulating the dynamics of diapausing Calanus finmarchicus (Copepoda: Calanoida) populations in the deep basins of the Gulf of Maine. Diapausing C. finmarchicus copepodites in the Gulf of Maine seed the springtime population that develops on Georges Bank. Secondary production during the spring on Georges Bank is dominated by C. finmarchicus, and this production is critical to the year-class success of larval and juvenile fishes, especially cod and haddock. Thus, our overall goal has been to determine how oceanographic processes occurring upstream affect the secondary production and fish recruitment on Georges Bank"

Hoe does this make him an expert?

and as usual Jayk weighs in with an absolutely worthless comment disparaging others views without providing any new information whatsoever.
JayK
3 / 5 (10) Mar 23, 2010
And what information did you add to the discussion, jonnyboy? A research scientist doesn't always focus on one tiny fraction of his field, unless they want to get burnt out rather quickly.

And would you like to argue against the fact that Arctic permafrost reductions is a sign of a positive feedback mechanism when the trapped CO2 and methane are released creating local and global feedback modes that are entirely positive? Or how about the changing albedo from ice and icesheet reductions?

Or will you just run away from this thread like you have all others when you are confronted?
Fabian
3 / 5 (1) Mar 23, 2010
Here's a great idea for sequestering CO2 from the atmosphere: regularly cut and replant large swaths of trees across the entire Northern Hemisphere, and bury most of the resulting wood in former mine quarries. AND, plant lots of trees in places where they can grow but there currently are none. Why not use nature to save nature? There is no way the human race will be able to engineer a carbon sequestration technology that could "scrub" the air of CO2 like plants can. I haven't done any math on possible amounts that could be sequestered, so if anyone can point to a study that has, please post a link.
Simonsez
2.4 / 5 (7) Mar 23, 2010
We should start worrying about how to get rid of all the hydrogen monoxide in the atmosphere, there is a whole lot more of that greenhouse gas than there is of CO2, certainly. All I ever hear about re: global warming is what to do about carbon dioxide, as if it somehow is the worst offender simply because humanity threw a few rocks on the pile.
Loodt
1.4 / 5 (9) Mar 23, 2010
JayK,

That's scardy stuff you're tell'n us!

Are we going to fry before we die?

How sad!
LSheffield
2.3 / 5 (7) Mar 23, 2010
JayK - I've been involved exclusively in modeling and analysis for two decades. They're always held in check by theory and measurement. Models, in and of themselves, are poor substitutes for objective reality - let alone adequate tools for extrapolating a century.

And as for that back alley, what you'll find there is mainly soot.
JayK
3.7 / 5 (6) Mar 24, 2010
@LSheffield: I think you're bluffing. Anyone that would say something so asinine as "model monkeys" shows an incredible disdain for something that they obviously have no primary understanding of.

Are the models predictive? Within certain error limits, yes. Are they tested against experimental data? Absolutely.
LSheffield
2 / 5 (5) Mar 24, 2010
JayK -
When one runs models against observation, blindly tweaking parameters until model results match observation, there is really prescious little gained and even less learned.

Search for the paper "A strong bout of natural cooling in 2008", where 242 model runs (as opposed to data) are used to form a statistical characterization which is used in analysis.
LSheffield
2 / 5 (5) Mar 24, 2010
Another good read (from Lindzen)
"Climate Science: Is it currently designed to answer questions?"
JayK
3.7 / 5 (6) Mar 24, 2010
Yep, I can see you have no idea what you're talking about in regards to the models. Thanks for making it clear.
la7dfa
3.7 / 5 (3) Mar 24, 2010
Funny to see how the comments regarding global warming has changed here in just one year. What made you stop denying science? ;)
jonnyboy
1 / 5 (4) Mar 25, 2010
Just wondering how much money JayK is losing on his carbon permits?
Skeptic_Heretic
2.5 / 5 (4) Mar 26, 2010
Are the models predictive? Within certain error limits, yes.
You can't say that. These models are about 10 to 15 years old at the outside. Any predictions they make can't be legitimate as you haven't had a long enough span of time to check trending. The majority of those models were proven wrong this past winter by your timeline of feasability. We'd need a lot more time to judge these models on their predicative basis due to weather noise.

Are they tested against experimental data? Absolutely.
No, actually, they are experimental data. What I'd like to see is how well they correlate to past observation when run recursively.
Shootist
3.7 / 5 (3) Mar 27, 2010
Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I've tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

Robert Frost
Bob_Kob
1 / 5 (3) Mar 27, 2010
I assume before there were large trees like today, that dinosaurs lived in 40 degree average temperature since there mustve been a TERRIBLE abundance of CO2.
Shootist
2.3 / 5 (3) Mar 28, 2010
I assume before there were large trees like today, that dinosaurs lived in 40 degree average temperature since there mustve been a TERRIBLE abundance of CO2.


Higher partial pressure of CO2 than today anyway.

There were dairy farms in Greenland 1000 years ago. The climate was warmer then.

The Hudson River froze solid enough so that General Washington ordered cannon be hauled across at Haarlem Heights, Christmas of 1776. The climate was cooler then.
toyo
2.3 / 5 (3) Mar 29, 2010
As usual, JayK adds nothing but personal abuse and obfuscation to the debate. Just ignore that flyweight provocateur.

I too am a scientist and I can tell you that the climate science models provide ONE scenario of possible future changes.
And these scenarios are FULL of approximations and unknowns.
But, provocateurs such as JayK aside, what gets me annoyed is the communal silence that continues to dominate the "Climate Science" scientific community.
Science is all about skepticism, proof and more proof, and everyone knows that there are very large unknowns still in all these "predictions", yet apart from a few well-known authorities, climatologists etc continue to seemingly 'toe the line'.
I have large doubts about issuing 100-year forecasts on the basis of what little we know to-day... and repeating yourself, in the way that Greene does in this paper, does not prove anything.
Skeptic_Heretic
not rated yet Mar 29, 2010
I assume before there were large trees like today, that dinosaurs lived in 40 degree average temperature since there mustve been a TERRIBLE abundance of CO2.

No, they were far larger. The amazon would look like someone's backyard topiary comparitively.
JayK
2.3 / 5 (3) Mar 29, 2010
@toyo: Lindzen still says that smoking doesn't have a definite link to cancer. He's not an authority, he's just a useless old geezer that thinks he is cool because he challenges everything, whether he understands it or not. By submitting a Lindzen paper, the above poster indicated that he's not really aware of climate science, and his rapid abuse of modelers indicates he doesn't know much about that science either.

Did you actually have something to add? Doesn't look like it.
Skeptic_Heretic
not rated yet Mar 29, 2010
Lindzen still says that smoking doesn't have a definite link to cancer.
You say this as though it's been proved. It hasn't. It has been proven to be detrimental, yes. It has been proven to have a potential link to cancer, yes, but nothing has be definitively proved. You harp on this point because it's socially acceptable to do so by Lindzen isn't inaccurate when he says that, (unless I'm missing out on more recent research).

In many ways this is like the smoking debate. We all know humans are doing something wrong to the system, there is no doubt here. Just like a smoker knows he's negatively impacting his health.

The effects are seen in the media repeatedly with grander and grander claims being attached by those on the fringe of the debate.

Meanwhile, in the middle, people are doing science and government is stepping all over their ability to do so.
JayK
1 / 5 (1) Mar 29, 2010
Ah yes, epidemiology and quantifiable statistics aren't proof enough. Thanks, SH.
Skeptic_Heretic
4 / 5 (2) Mar 29, 2010
Ah yes, epidemiology and quantifiable statistics aren't proof enough. Thanks, SH.

They aren't proof. They're evidence. Prrof would be "This active node on the nicotine molecule interacts with this cellular ion channel in the lungs causing.... etc until "Nicotine causes cancer," which we've proven. So does nicotine-less smoking cause cancer? It may seem like semantics, but if we aren't precise when we say things, crazy crap like creationism gets a seat at the table of knowledge.
JayK
1 / 5 (1) Mar 29, 2010
You just relegated massive amounts of science and science based medicine to the rubbish bin with that stance, SH. Should quantum mechanics constants that were derived via statistical observation be scrapped?

There is indisputable evidence that smoking tobacco based cigarettes or breathing in the second hand smoke increased the likelihood of cancer by a factor that should be impossible to ignore. Can the science go further and find the exact chemical link? Sure! But it doesn't have to to come to the conclusions that it has.
Skeptic_Heretic
not rated yet Mar 29, 2010
Can the science go further and find the exact chemical link? Sure! But it doesn't have to to come to the conclusions that it has.
And by that logic Creationism could be right. Absolute statements are only absolute in one sense. They're absolutely wrong when general or vague. And no, I've relegated nothing to the rubbish bin.
JayK
1 / 5 (1) Mar 29, 2010
And by that logic Creationism could be right.

How? I don't see your logical leap. Creationism has no statistical data, has not been able to provide a link of X to Y that would lead anyone to conclude that Creationism has something right, so how could it be used?

If you don't like the epidemiological methods used in studies linking tobacco smoking and cancer, then there is a lot of conclusions out there that you should just as quickly throw out, as statistical correlation is widely used in all of biology.

Is this just more anti-"soft" science that is so evident on this site?
LSheffield
3 / 5 (2) Mar 31, 2010
I'm curious if JayK is one of those pitiable folk whose only purpose in life is to have gotten the last word.

(my bet - this is a self-fulfilling prophesy)

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