December 18, 2003
Global Dimming: It Is Getting Darker At Ground Level

Atsumu Ohmura has discovered that the lights are going out all over the world.

"It's an uncomfortable one," says Gerald Stanhill, who published many of these early papers and coined the phrase global dimming. "The first reaction has always been that the effect is much too big, I don't believe it and if it's true then why has nobody reported it before."

That began to change in 2001, when Stanhill and his colleague Shabtai Cohen at the Volcani Centre in Bet Dagan, Israel collected all the available evidence together and proved that, on average, records showed that the amount of solar radiation reaching the Earth's surface had gone down by between 0.23 and 0.32% each year from 1958 to 1992.

...

The few experts who have studied the effect believe it's down to air pollution. Tiny particles of soot or chemical compounds like sulphates reflect sunlight and they also promote the formation of bigger, longer lasting clouds. "The cloudy times are getting darker," says Cohen, at the Volcani Centre. "If it's cloudy then it's darker, but when it's sunny things haven't changed much."

The explanation most popular among atmospheric scientists is that soot and other pollutants are blocking visible and infrared light from reaching the surface of the planet. But another possibility is that global warming is causing an increase in cloud cover by increasing the amount of airborne water or dust. If pollution is the cause then efforts to reduce particulate pollution may be starting to cause a reduction in the dimming effect. But it could be that the US and Europe will reduce their particulate pollution while South and East Asia increase theirs.

The reduction in light reaching the surface is probably reducing plant growth in areas closer to the poles. At the equator carbon dioxide (CO2) and water are more likely to be rate-limiting factors for plant growth. But note that as CO2 levels rise that has the tendency to allow plants to grow faster by both increasing the amount of CO2 available and also by reducing the amount of water that plants have to lose when they try to absorb CO2 gasses and hence higher CO2 reduces plant needs for water.

Pollution regulations effectively could be used as a climate engineering tool. Mandate a more rapid reduction in particulate pollution and the effect will probably be to increase the amount of sunlight that reaches the Earth's surface. That could increase plant growth in regions closer to the poles while also probably increasing surface evaporation from the oceans and hence probably lead to an increase in precipitation. That would be beneficial in some areas but detrimental in other areas.

The scale of human activity has gotten so large that we inevitably change the climate to some extent. We do not know yet just how much we are changing the climate because we do not know what the climate would be like in our absence. Since the human population is growing and parts of the world are rapidly industrializing human influence on the climate looks set to grow even further. But since there are so many human activities that cause climate effects and since some of those effects cancel each other out (at least to some extent) any effort to reduce only a single pollutant or to reduce the impact of only a single method of modifying our environment will have the effect of strengthening the impact of other things that we do.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2003 December 18 03:23 PM  Climate Trends


Comments
Phil Bowermaster said at December 19, 2003 8:06 AM:

I wonder what impact dimming will have on global warming (or cooling?)

Randall Parker said at December 19, 2003 8:31 AM:

Phil, I do not know. It depends on what the causes are. It also depends on the future of the types of pollution emissions and whether various types go up or down.

Ray said at December 20, 2003 9:07 AM:

Specifically, it depends on the types of the stuff that's blocking the radiation. Is it more absorptive, or more reflective, than the Earth's surface? If it's more absorptive, we're getting warmer, if it's more reflective, we're getting cooler.

JosephMendiola said at January 11, 2004 7:45 PM:

I can support the premise in the article above on GLOBAL DIMMING - here on Guam and CNMI, on hot days one can actually see low-level or rising, white or "DRY" vaporous, FOGS or MISTS which as a class appear to emanate from ground=based local vegetation. Even on the oceans one can see batches of similar-looking fogs or mists moving across the ocean surfaces, with the water's "texture" itself reminding me of various lakes or rivers during LATE FALL-WINTERTIME in the United States and places in Europe! If Aristotleian visual or physical observations aren't enough, I've also had personal dreams or visions over decades of frozen Pacific waters, and icebergs off the shores of stereotypically tropical HAWAII and other island chains!

Jon said at April 20, 2004 9:28 PM:

At the very least we'll have to revise our daylight illumination standards. No doubt the average color temperature and spectra of sunlight at ground level has changed along with the decrease in intensity.

Allison said at May 7, 2004 12:26 PM:

If there will be less sun light, how will it effect plant life?

rocky said at June 2, 2004 1:16 PM:

global dimming could could cause the human population to decrease dramatically!

Pierre-AugusteHolness said at November 18, 2004 12:55 PM:

But more importantly, how do we stop it?

Fitz said at January 13, 2005 2:07 PM:

Just saw a programme on BBC2 about Global Dimming.

It clearly states that as we gradually stopping the spread of Global Dimming then the real effect will be increased Global Warming. It is estimated that in 100 years the world tempuratures will rise by 10 degrees. Just think about the effect on climates hot, warm, or cold all over the world.

The world has to sit-up and take notice. Decades upon decades of climate abuse is catching up with us. The governments have to take notice not only with stopping Global Dimming but also the effects of Global Warming.

If we do nothing the next generations, our childrens, will pay the heavy price.

We are leaving an ever dying world.

Fitz said at January 13, 2005 2:22 PM:

Here's a link to the transcript of the BBC's brilliant Horizon programme about Global Dimming.

kitty walker said at January 13, 2005 5:13 PM:

A British documentary called 'Horizons' broadcasted 13/01/2005 suggests that the global dimming effect of apparent climate cooling has indeed 'counteracted' or 'masked' the effects of global warming and has led to gross underestimations of the rate of global warming caused by greenhouse gasses. Elevating 5 dergree celsius end of the century forecasts to 10 degree celsius. This paradox is alarming because as air pollutants are being reduced in attempts to solve global dimming so the ongoing effect of C02 build up is indirectly greatly enhanced.
Evidence came from temperature range studies during the three days post 9/11 when air traffic ceased and the absence of aircraft pollution was monitored. In just a few days the temperature range between day and night increased by 1 degree celsius - a staggering fluctuation. Another conclusive result came from a 4yr, 25 million dollar project carried out in the Maldives. The northern islands sit, for most parts of the year, in a stream of pollution from India except the southern highland tip which enjoys cleaner air currents from Antartica. Comparisons between north and south atmospheric samples aimed to investigate the difference pollution made to sunlight penetration. The northern regions yielded a 10% reduction in sunlight and 10 fold cloud particle content compared to the southern regions. But what are the implications of reducing global dimming? By allowing more sunlight to reach the earth's suface (reduced global dimming) temperatures would rise due to the greenhouse effect. The underlying message being; Global warming sooner than predicted.
Could global dimming therefore delay the process? Continued global dimming is stiil a poor scenario. If clouds polluted with soot, ash,sulphate and nitrate particles accumulate vast amounts of small water droplets, a giant mirror is effectively formed which reflects sunlight away from earth. It was reported that reducing the number of photons penetrating the earth may explain the reduced rate of evapouration (photons more crucial to evapouration than temperature rise). Global cooling may have effects on global precipitation patterns. Pollution from North America and europe contributing to the dimming effect may have actually caused the 1984 Ethiopian famine when summer rains failed causing a decade of devastating drought obliterating over a million lives.
Heat from the sun warms oceans which drives the rain belt from the equator, north to regions such as the sahel resulting in annual summer monsoons. Why did the monsoons fail for 20 years during the 1970's-80's? Models that allow pollution from North America and Europe to blow across the atlantic and affect cloud properties near the equator, cause ocean cooling in the Northern hemisphere, driving the tropical rain belt away from the more polluted north towards the southern hemisphere.
Indeed global dimming and global warming must be tackled in conjunction. CO2 emmission quotas should incorporate the counterintuitive effects of global dimming on atmospheric temperature. I personally feel that renewable energy is an important alternative power source but is it realistically feasable. Nuclear technology if properly utilised ( and it may be with time and funding) has a lot of potential, its not as formidable as it may seem, yes it's powerful but that is exactly what we have come to demand. The relatively small amounts required would not demand the exploitation of entire ecosystems. Radioactivity does after all decay. It could work if only we could refrain from expoding ourselves into extinction.
I found the documentary very profound and have attempted to summarise the main reports. I hope they stir up more debate. Let's hope the day never comes when the 10,000 billion tonnes of frozen methane at the bottom of the sea is destabilized by heat realeasing a gas that is eight times more potent than C02!

Randall Parker said at January 13, 2005 5:51 PM:

Fitz, Kitty,

Your documentaries are promoting worst-case scenarios. IPCC in 2001 published a range of warming projections.

Then it is not surprising that the most recent report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the most authoritative review in the field, still projects a wide range of warming: 1.4 to 5.8 C (2.5F to 10.4F) in 2100 relative to 1990 (IPCC 2001). (This range reflects uncertainties not only in natural science but also in socio-economic trends, which translate into different emissions scenarios). Tending to emphasize the extreme end of this scale, the media are often responsible for general confusion and misrepresentation of global warming projections. However, the IPCC assigns no likelihood to these numbers. The warming may be as disastrous as 5.8C (10.4F), or it might be as moderate as 1.4C (2.5F), or the temperature increase could be outside this range (Reilly et al. 2001).

Even the IPCC models of 2001 may be overly pessimistic. Technologically the world of 2040 will be so radically advanced from where it is today that many more technological solutions will be available. We can deflect sunlight either in space or in the atmosphere. We can shift to power sources that have no CO2 emissions. We can salt the oceans with iron so that phytoplankton grow and eat more CO2 out of the atmosphere.

There is one obvious way to prevent CO2 build-up: Shift to nuclear power.

mat williams said at January 13, 2005 8:43 PM:

Could global dimming explain why the temperature at both poles is increasing far faster than anywhere else on the planet? there are less particles at the poles as there is less polution, therefore more sunlight can penetrate........thats a worry

Lyndon Berchy said at January 13, 2005 9:41 PM:

Many years ago I was with a young American girl on King's Canyon in Central Australia, I showed her some secret Abroginal paintings and some ancient fern trees that were million of years old.
We sat down to see the setting Sun and the colours of the rocks that change with it, She closed her eyes and opened it again.
You are very wonderfull people she said to me " Ancient and yet so connected to the environments and to the land"
You are more clever as people that all the white people I know in New York.
I said to her " Wanga" Abroginal spirit put us here and gave us the responsibility to look after the Land.

Man is doomed for destruction no one can do anything about it.
If Man held mother earth with reverence and realized the gift of this planet and took care of it.
( Chapter 24 of the Bible speaks of the Awfull Horror and of the Sun becoming darker.)

Djet ( my Abroginal name please )

Andy said at January 13, 2005 11:37 PM:

The Horizon TV documentary should be compulsive viewing for all politicians & people of the industrialised world. I guess we need to start a mass nuclear power program (scary), but at least it would allow us to generate power on the scale we need to maintain our lifestyle whilst buying us a few decades to come up with something else.

Sadly the politicians wont enforce anything due to the effects that the harsh decisions would create, until its too late of course!

We have got used to our life styles, and money driven economics. Even if the program was a worse case scenario indulging in some scare tacticts we cant keep polluting as we do, and not expect anything to change. As much as I love my car and modern gadgets, Im now wondering if its worth the price. Im not advocating a return to the dark ages, but we have to act fast. Thats the second program Ive seen (Marcel Theroux) this week where the scientific community give us 25-30 years to sort our selves out.

Remeber the Earth is our only bed, if we soil it, we cant simply change the sheets, or hop into another one!

Darren said at January 14, 2005 6:38 AM:

I too saw the Horizon program (looks like one aspect of it worked - certainly seems to be a lot of searching on global dimming today!). I agree, there is likely to be an element of media exaggeration within the documentary, but still it seemed to have a compelling story and my searches in between work this morning have backed this up. Not least, it would seem that although dimming is apparent and measurable, but not many climatologists have taken it into account into their models.

I have been reading up more and more on the subject of climate change and we are at a tricky time at the moment, there is some evidence to suggest we are all in for a warmer Earth, but not enough it seems to convince all. Even we conscientious enough to be reading this lack the will to stop flying and throw away the cars keys.

Much as I can see that nuclear power might be a way forward, I cannot see this happening while 'companies whose interests are oil' have such a massive influence over the economy and worldwide politics.

However, maybe it is not all doom and gloom; it seems that by cleverly balancing dimming and warming we have a crude and despicable way of exerting control on our average temperatures!

It's seems that currently CO2 is winning out and I'm doing my thing and booking my overseas holiday now! Are you?

(A bit near the knuckle I grant you)


John Harfitt said at January 14, 2005 7:06 AM:

I watched the Horizon program with growing horror of what may be just round the corner. How do we get the politicians to watch this program and do something about it. Certainly Nuclear Power is the obvious and immediate answer to part of the problem. One possible salvation could be, as the planet warms and more water evaporates from the oceans and more clouds are formed, could we eventually reach a balance as the increased cloud cover reduces the amount of sunlight reaching the earth?

Ayfor2 said at January 14, 2005 8:27 AM:

Sensationalist though it was (it could have told the story in a quarter of the time), the Horizon documentary raised some issues which add to the general concerns about climate change. Things are undoubtedly happening on a global political scale, only slowly. The 'flat earthers' who deny the existence of global warming seem to be fewer these days and technology grinds forward, waiting to be hatched by economic stimulus . And there's the rub. Money, which drives quality of life for all of us dominates the speed with which responsible change takes effect on a large enough scale. Those who have money must accept that it must come out of their pockets either directly in our daily lives or indirectly through what we earn in corporate profits and what we pay in taxes. China and the US surely have the greatest contribution still to be made but we all have a part to play, including encouraging nuclear power and renewable energy - the green 'nimbys' who object to wind farms are surely misguided. Then there is the Third World paradox - helping the Third World out of poverty to a better existence increases the strain on resources and on the environment (although this effect is dwarfed at the moment by the industrialised countries' current outputs).

While it would be easy to bury my head in the sand and hope that someone else does something about it, my personal response is to engage in discussions like this one (and spread the word), support those with the voice and the influence (when I can find them) and, more satisfyingly, to keep my own use of global resources to a minimum (cycle or public transport instead of drive, nudge down the home heating a couple of degrees, avoid overpackaged goods, recycle, and generally factor in the environmental angle to my life). It's a bit like going on a diet - if you don't permanently change the way you eat you will never make progress. It sounds sanctimonious, but I really don't think there are enough people committed to doing things themselves.

Sermon over (probably preaching to the converted anyway).

Randall Parker said at January 14, 2005 11:25 AM:

Ayfor2,

No, you are preaching to the unconverted. My objections:

1) I think CO2 build-up does not require an immediate response. The bulk of the problem from it lies decades in the future.

2) We do not know how big the problem will be. The changes may fall within the normal range of climactic changes. The Earth has been warmer than it is now within recorded human history. The sky did not fall when it was warmer. Though the Romans did use the warmer weather to take control of England.

3) The cost of reducing CO2 emissions will be much less in the future with more advanced technologies. Why pay now when we can pay less to do the same thing later?

Yes, you do sound sanctimonious. The human race is not suffering from a massive moral shortcoming. Rather, a small fraction of it have joined in a "Madness Of The Crowds" reaction to global warming that is excessive.

If you want to support some constructive response then it makes more sense to support energy research than to support regulatory restrictions on CO2 emissions. New energy technologies that are cheaper yet non-polluting would be taken up by the market without a massive international regulatory regime.

mark sutton said at January 14, 2005 2:28 PM:

I can't stop it. But if these theories are correct, and there seems a great deal of logic to them, we must put presure on governments to find someone who can unless they have already come forward( I only found out about this last night). This seems to be something you should not play roulette with.

Sarah Moore said at January 15, 2005 12:30 PM:

Just a question, I've looked on the net and can't find anything, does anyone know what the average dimming for the whole world would be? So far I've got 10% over Europe, 10% over south asia, 30% over Russia and 37% over Hong Kong.. But what's the mean? (you'd need a lot more results than just 4 to get an accurate average.

kitty walker said at January 15, 2005 1:19 PM:

Randall are you a little dim?

CO2 emissions... 'the problem from it lies decades in the future' !! ????
'why pay now when you can pay later' !!??? hmmm
what kind of 'normal' do you think climatic change can be given the amount of human interference.
If you don't believe in the power of human impact look up Pleistocene megafauna extinctions for a taste of what humans were capable of even 13,000 years ago

without promoting CO2 restrictions in a legistative manner there will be no incentive for 'new technologies' to be funded and CO2 emissions to be curbed. Money does indeed talk... CO2 quotas are now being traded so that those that do take initiatives can sell their leftover 'CO2 credit' and profit from those that don't invest in reducing their CO2 output. (see the current Newscientist publication)
'more advanced technologies' in the future require technological movement now! so yes support energy research but those with the knowledge are the very people working with the current unsustainable power source. And those independant researchers will eventually require the cooperation and understanding of the cheif perpetrators.
sadly not much will be done if you along with the 'madness of the crowds' continue to pull the sceptic wool over your eyes

bring on the massive international regulatory regime!

susan james said at January 15, 2005 2:02 PM:

Is it not of great concern that the most powerful man in the world is so entrenched in the oil industry ??


I am optimistic of our ability to cope with the impact of this phenomena given that sufficient resources are provided and to me this is the key - a researcher at a Canadian University has just produced improved solar cells which can be woven into clothes - probably on a small budget and venture capitalists are now looking at putting in 1-3 million dollars because it is financially viable - i.e. we can have constant power for our mobile phone !!!!

Although I do not necessarily think that pouring money in is the sole solution , surely a world-wide research initiative cannot fail to offer us enhanced solutions ????

Oil interests need to be curbed and developing economies need to grasp the opportunities in alternative technologies.

Randall Parker said at January 15, 2005 2:15 PM:

Kitty,

People who get their scientific information from sensationalist TV documentaries are in no position to criticise the knowledge of others. Why don't you begin to educate yourself with much heavier reading on climate science? A good place to start is in my Trends Climate category archive. You have a lot to learn.

You falsely claim:

without promoting CO2 restrictions in a legistative manner there will be no incentive for 'new technologies' to be funded

The US government already spends billions per year on energy research. That will pay off in future decades in the form of new enery sources. If the people who fear global warming spent more time lobbying for energy research funding increases then, yes, we could get more funding for new energy technologies. Then the technologies would come sooner.

Funding research is far cheaper by orders of magnitude than trying to implement CO2 emissions reduction technologies with current technolgies.

However, you miss a more basic reason why new energy technologies are going to come about: Other supporting technologies will advance. Nanotechnological advances will lead to easier and cheaper ways to make photovoltaic panels and batteries for example.

But I return to my basic point: Yes, the vast bulk of the damage from CO2 emissions lays decades into the future. Yes, it will be far cheaper to mitigate that damage and reduce CO2 levels decades from now.

Megafauna extinctions: Human population growth in tropical regions is the problem that is threatening species, not CO2 emissions. In fact, if you take away cheap oil then poor folks will burn more wood and use wood more for structures because plastics and composites will cost more. Then the tropical forests will be torn down more rapidly and species extinction will accelerate.

I refuse to go along with stampeding mad crowds who watch sensationalist TV shows.

Randall Parker said at January 15, 2005 2:24 PM:

Susan James,

Is it not of great concern that the most powerful man in the world is so entrenched in the oil industry ??

No, it is not of great concern. Dubya doesn't matter. Venture capitalists are pouring more money into energy research and Dubya is not raising a finger to block them.

Venture capital investments in clean-energy technologies alone last year represented 2.4 percent of total venture investing in the United States, still small but up from 0.8 percent in 1999, according to research group Clean Edge. Even the valley's powerhouse venture capital firm, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, acknowledged it's seeking energy deals for the first time in its three-decade history: "That's a left turn, a new initiative for Kleiner," partner John Doerr said at a San Francisco conference last month.

Why aren't the supposedly all-powerful oil industry titans preventing this from happening? The oil industry is far less powerful politically than the rantings of leftist paranoics might lead one to believe.

The Canadian photovoltaics material researcher: There are many researchers developing promising leads. See my Energy Tech category archives for more research reports on promising energy technologies. Why hasn't the mighty oil indusry stopped all this research and all this venture capital investment activity? Could it be that the oil industry is not as powerful as paranoid lunatics would like us to believe?

susan james said at January 15, 2005 2:47 PM:

Randall

Thank you for taking the time to correct my errors of judgement.

I am rather perturbed that you feel I am being unduly influenced by 'Leftist paranoics'

What are your professional credentials - you seem very well informed - what sources are you using ?

I am speaking as a mother of two sons with aspirations for grandchildren and a Deputy Headteacher in a UK school.

I do have faith in the ability of the human race to provide solutions to our problems as long as we commit sufficient resources, act collaboratively and appreciate the vested interests of most participants in the debate*

*See Afghanistan


Randall Parker said at January 15, 2005 3:09 PM:

My primary source: Google. Though I have some readers who are scientists and engineers who write great stuff in the comments of my posts. I also do not hesitate to email questions to experts and sometimes get answers that way.

I started to grow skeptical of the "The Sky Is Falling" crowd back in the 1970s when Paul Ehrlich was taken seriously by so many academics for predicting widespread famine in America by the 1980s and the Club Of Rome was publishing the result of a childish computer simulation that predicted worldwide ecological disaster. Their simulation was retarded. Yet it was taken seriously. The doomsayers have made so many outlandish claims over the years that I think they are doing a grave disservice to humanity. Are you old enough to remember the scientists in the 1970s who were claiming that pollution was going to bring on another ice age? Well, where's the ice age? I don't see it.

It is not like the doomsayers made claims that were prevented from happening due to political reaction. The disasters were never going to happen. They were just a bunch of scaremongers. The same is happening today. We are not in imminent danger of the polar ice caps melting. Look at even the most excessively pessimistic projections. Most warming will happen in the latter half of the 21st century. We will know it is happening and be able to project it far better by just watching to see which warming curve (if any) we seem to be following in next 20 years.

I see all the fear mongering as being the result of the same human fears that cause people to watch disaster movies. Only it is the more vocal scientists and environmental activists doing the fear-mongering rather than Hollywood script writers.

Richard Lindzen thinks the belief in global warming has become a secular religion.

An MIT meteorologist Wednesday dismissed alarmist fears about human induced global warming as nothing more than 'religious beliefs.'

"Do you believe in global warming? That is a religious question. So is the second part: Are you a skeptic or a believer?" said Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Richard Lindzen, in a speech to about 100 people at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

"Essentially if whatever you are told is alleged to be supported by 'all scientists,' you don't have to understand [the issue] anymore. You simply go back to treating it as a matter of religious belief," Lindzen said. His speech was titled, "Climate Alarmism: The Misuse of 'Science'" and was sponsored by the free market George C. Marshall Institute. Lindzen is a professor at MIT's Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences.

Once a person becomes a believer of global warming, "you never have to defend this belief except to claim that you are supported by all scientists -- except for a handful of corrupted heretics," Lindzen added.

According to Lindzen, climate "alarmists" have been trying to push the idea that there is scientific consensus on dire climate change.

"With respect to science, the assumption behind the [alarmist] consensus is science is the source of authority and that authority increases with the number of scientists [who agree.] But science is not primarily a source of authority. It is a particularly effective approach of inquiry and analysis. Skepticism is essential to science -- consensus is foreign," Lindzen said.


Andy Dabydeen said at January 15, 2005 7:29 PM:

Here's an idea -- why don't we all stop worrying about this and take Randall's optimistic view. It could all just turn out to be OK. Meanwhile, I'm going to find myself a patch of sand and stick my head in it.

annie said at January 16, 2005 3:42 AM:

We are all interlinked and we use the intermediary of money to organise ourselves, and to give permission for what as individuals we do. However, we are all still individuals, and have no real power to effect any change. When change occurs, it is through leadership which captures the zietgiest, and not through dictatorship or power from the top. leadership that works harmonises with the views of every individual. For example, Ghandi, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, even Bob Geldorf.
We need people who are educated and aware, but the true leaders are the selfless, brave ones who stand apart from the excuses that we buy into when we allow market forces and money to be the only force in our lives.
Of course, with so many people to organise, there has to be a common system, and money in itself is not bad, it is the excuse to buy a 4x4, to work miles away, to travel form continent to continent when there are clever computer systems to allow cyber conferencing. It is also the means by which we pay for research into new energy sources.
Humans invented money, it does not have to be finite. If we want a job done, we should not allow a concept that we invented to prevent us.
The issue exists in a spiritual way too. We all need, individualy to find our own reason for living, and to face the prospect of loving ourselves eternaly, not hating ourselves and each other. All we can do is what we can do, and at the moment lots of people are very frigntened of lots of other people. No one person can take responsibility for everything. We cannot say, it is our fault, or that we have to leave something better for our children. If we do, we ignore a truth which is in itself very frigntening, that right now, where we are, we are the reason that all our ancestors existed, we are thier children, we reflect thier hope, and the solution for existence that they arrived at, essentialy, Love for other people.
For me, that means living in the moment, and believeing enough in the future not to judge people, or attribute blame, either to others or to myself. To accept what needs to be done, and to try each day to make a positive choices.

Iain Holland said at January 16, 2005 5:55 AM:

Let's stop blaming the politicians and scapegoating those who have neither created or have responsibility for our apparent mess.
WE ARE THE CULPRITS, POLITICIANS OF ALL HUES AND PERSUASIONS MERELY REFLECT OUR WISHES. WE WILL BLAME OTHERS IN TO OUR CHILDREN'S GRAVES.

You name me the politician who would achieve easy election on the sorts of measures required to truly tackle this problem in the time scale required?

Do you think Blair would be elected on a manifesto pledge to put out of work the 7-9 million currently employed in highly polluting industries in the UK - and we're one of the smaller nations!

Do you believe Bush would be elected on a programme of massive nuclear power expansion, tripling (or more) the cost of US fuel and paralysing the aviation industry. And, also, putting upwards of 50 million US citizens out of work.

Do you believe that we (the all consuming west) would be justified to insist that China and India cease economic development and return their peoples to abject poverty?

Would you give up your cars, your 15.00 flights, your anticipation of easily available cheap food, clothing and eating Kiwi fruit, NZ Lamb and runner beans from Kenya?

These sorts of issues, and many more, are the stuff of pollution. Did you really believe that our lifestyles presented no risks?

The true controlling mechanism of consumption and therefore pollution is the availability of money, otherwise employment. To drastically cut consumption is to equally drastically cut work and income. Even slight moves, such as cutting down on food packaging, places, in this country alone, potentially 10,000 people out of work.

Now do something worthwhile, such as halving the amount of unnecessary travel by cars, planes etc. and another couple of million plus are jobless i.e. travel agents, flight attendants and pilots, engineers, garage attendants, drivers, mechanics, civil servants and so on and so forth.

Recession such as we've never previosuly encountered, entire stock arkets wiped out, along with pensions, savings, investment and the possibility of state support for it's citizens as tax revenues dwindle and nations sink in to an economic ice age. Starvation begins to haunt UK streets for many millions as food prices soar due to chronic supply side deficits because we've shut off imported supplies.

These sorts of issues are those for which WE are culpable, not Blair or Bush or any other politician - WE ARE CULPABLE.

Our first serious step should be the immediate adoption of Nuclear Energy as a national policy to eradicate the use of fossil fuels in the UK by 2025.

Energy policies should be draconian with a polluter tax on all private cars and aviation and applicable to our nation's imports from countries still polluting.

Massive investment in the internet and IT to enable the increase in Home Working and social pursuits within the home and the redevelopment of local 'community'.

Massive investment in education along with a banning of unhealthy food. Our children should be raised with a consciousness of THEIR home, our planet, and a sense of responsibility for it (just as we weren't!!). If we care so much about the future of our children's planet then perhaps we should care a little more about the 'junk' that pollutes our children too!

And if you're thinking to yourself, as you may well be, 'What about democratic choices?' well. I would say, 'Just take a look at what democracy earned us?'

In a democracy your politicians can't help you achieve anything more than you desire. And the evidence points to the facts that you wanted pollution, wanted consumerism, wanted cheap energy, 4X4's and runner beans in January etc. Well, you got them and didn't complain too much on the way.

So now, like Pinnochio, you don't like the price.

Like Pinnochio, find a little courage, face the truth - YOU GOT WHAT YOU ASKED FOR. Now, deal with it.

Mike said at January 16, 2005 7:21 AM:

Interesting discussion.

Unfortunately (part 1), it is almost entirely missing the key, namely the relevant scientifically collected and analyzed data. The only references I can see are Randall Parker's paste of an IPCC report detailing their range of temperature change predictions, and Sarah Moore's request for an average dimming percentage. I applaud both of them for wanting data.

Unfortunately (part 2), there appear to be no scientifically trained people contributing to this discussion. Opinions not based on evidence and the training to interpret this evidence simply don't help us to map out a pratical approach to dealing with the issues facing us. As an aside, I hold both a Bachelors degree in Physics and a Master degree in Business Admin, with a focus on entrepreneurship, so hopefully I can offer some balance. At the very least you should all have an idea of my background from which to assess my comments.

So, my more specific comments ...

1) THE PROGRAMME - GENERAL. Horizon made a worthwhile contribution to the climate change debate by making and airing this programme. Unfortunately (yes, another), their journalistic standards are poor. Sensation is key to their programmes and they do try to lead viewers to a specific conclusion, rather than presenting data and then encouraging debate. Horizon is NOT a science programme.
2) THE PROGRAMME - DATA. Randall is absolutely correct to point out that the 10C temperature rise is based on an extreme case. The programme also misleads regarding the data on US temperature variations in absentia air traffic post 9/11. Although the programmes shows a screen shot of the relevant researcher's computer, with 3 bars for pre-9/11, the following "no fly" days, and the continuation of "regular fly" days, it completely omits to ask what the results post "no fly" mean. The camera operator even chose to focus solely on the pre-9/11 and "no fly" bars, a VERY unscientific selective selection of data. And it completely fails to ask what is meant by "sunlight" (the answer is that dimming occurs in the visible and infrared spectrum, but not in the ultraviolet spectrum). The list goes on. Unfortunately, sensationalism isn't sensationalism without extremes.
3) THE PROGRAMME - SCOPE. Clearly, if a 1 hour standalone programme is all that is available, there is a limit to the scope of a single programme like Horizon. That said, as has been stated earlier, the makers could have dealt with all of these issues in much less time (perhaps the 25% mentioned, perhaps not), and spent the rest of the time putting the "story" in context of other climate change "stories". This lack of context is a very serious weakness of all Horizon programmes. In the specific case of climate change, the context would need to address not only the "greenhouse effect" but also other, often less widely discussed, hypotheses, such as the effects of solar activity on terrestrial climate, man's impact through the way (s)he alters biomass distributions (ie beyond man's imapct through CO2 emissions), and any clmatic cycles that are evident.
4) THE PROGRAMME - EDITING. I believe that one of the scientists interviewed was called Farquahr. If this is correct, then the programme editors made an unacceptable decision when they implied (or stated - I forget) that "scientists" have concluded that any dimming effect is due to pollutant particles (soot, NOx etc) that go with burning fossil fuels. Why? Because Farquahr has stated that he is unconvinced that this is the cause. He has suggested that the cause may be
water in the air, or caused more directly by "global warming". Thank you to Randall for mentioning this (although without reference to Farquahr).
5) SARAH MOORE - I am not aware what the mean % decrease in sunlight is. However, the mean % is not especially relevant. Far more relevant is local effects, as all organisms live at a local level. And it is important to note that the effect of dimming may be different at different locations. As far as I am aware, dimming is expected to have a more substantial effect on plant growth the further from the equator you are. As an aside, anyone who believes global warming means that the temperature and rainfall will change similarly everywhere should actually check the results. Climate models predict that while some locations will become drier, other will become wetter. Takeaway point - this is VERY COMPLEX.
6) RANDALL PARKER - It is good to see someone referring to data. Unfortunately, you seem to blinkered.
a) NO IMMEDIATE RESPONSE REQUIRED, & WAIT 20 YEARS AND IT WILL BE CHEAPER TO REDUCE CO2 EMISSIONS - yes, I think you are correct in this assumption. However, i) a total life cycle cost analysis is what is called for (ie what is the cost of front end reduction, plus back end remediation). In the 20 years you would wait remediation costs may grow considerably; ii) you assume a smooth and reversible change in climatic conditions. This however is flatly contradicted by much emerging eveidence, which suggests that irreversible step changes occur. Such a change gaining exposure at present is that the gulf stream is in danger of changing radically over a period as short as 10 years, dramatically changing the climate of northern coastal Europe to a condition that would remain for centuries, with no possible means for humans to reverse it. Put simply, the risk is simply too high to wait 20 years.
b) NEW TECHNOLOGIES THAT ARE CHEAPER YET NON-POLLUTING WOULD BE TAKEN UP WITHOUT A MASSIVE REGULATORY REGIME - you show no understanding of economics or business. Yes, if a cheaper energy generation and distribution technology became available, there would be pressure to switch to that technology. BUT, to take the specific example of road vehicles, distributive businesses will not change unless there is a sound business case or legislation, and without distribtion, end users cannot access the technology. This is the key problem with fuel cells for vehicles. The in vehicle cells are predicted to match and exceed the efficiency of petrol and diesel engines reasonably soon, but almost no vehicles will be built until distribution is widespread. And why would an oil extractor/ditsributor bother to develop this if it will reduce their profits. And how could any private corporation justofy the costs without the customers (the old chicken and egg situation)? So regulation becomes essential, unless you want a vast new nationalised industry.
c) VCs ARE POURING MONEY INTO ENERGY RESEARCH AND BUSH IS NOT BLOCKING THEM, & THE OIL INDUSTRY IS NOT STOPPING THEM - What?!?!?!?! Just how and why would Bush or oil companies stop VCs from investing in energy technology companies? I have VC experience. They do not need to ask permission from the US government or oil companies to invest. So, your statement is simply meaningless. The only point you succeed in making here is to highlight your own blinkered bias.
d) VCs ARE POURING MONEY INTO ENERGY RESEARCH (Part 2) - Some data. Total VC investment in the US is just under US$2000mn annually. If 2% is going to energy tech then that is approximately US$400mn annually. In comparison (1), the US Department of Energy invested approximately US$500mn into oil, coal, and gas research in 2004, but only approximately US$50mn into fuel cell research. In comaprison (2), according to the moost recent data I have seen, the US government is spending approximately US$1500mn on Iraq EACH WEEK. So, it would appear that US VCs are matching US government expenditure on energy tech. And my guess is that they are much more heavily skewed toward renewable technologies. So, well done VCs. Unfortunately, what w see from the US government side is that low pollution technologies are receiving a tiny fraction of what "big energy", those responsible for pushing a fossil fuel dependent culture globally, are receiving directly. And, the situation is even more alarming when seen in context of the money being spent in Iraq, whether you believe the invasion was totally, partially, or not at all about oil and gas.
e) VCs ARE POURING MONEY INTO ENERGY RESEARCH (Part 3) - you clearly do not understand what VCs are about. Most VCs (aberrations of the .com bubble aside) require a very high likelihood of a very high rate of return on their investment, and a way to exit that investment at a profit in a relatively short time frame. The key points: HIGH RATE OF RETURN, SHORT TIME FRAME. In contrast, a government does not need a high rate or return, if indeed any return at all. And a government can invest in research that will not show results for decades. VCs CAN NOT. So, if the technology to address climate change will take more than a decade (in reality a VC will be looking for less than this) to be reduced to practice (ie able to go commercial) and has no commercialisable stages before this, a VC WILL NOT INVEST. And if there is no likelihood of a major return (eg investing in hydrogen tech if the VC expects the government to keep or strengthen the structures that support "big energy") also a VC WILL NOT INVEST. So, unless a philanthropist comes along, these technologies can be funded only by government.
7) LINDZEN QUOTE - A valuable reference but misleading. Consensus is core to science. Why? Because scientists need money to live, and money to conduct experiments. What are the results of this? Well, a scientist with a particularly off-centre hypothesis is more likely to have difficulty obtaining funding that a scientist with a close to centre hypothesis, essentially because funding comes largely from governments and corporations. Most corporations must, quite rightly, spend their money for results, while governments distribute money through organisations that must come to a consensus on who gets the money available. If governments gave as much money to scientific projects as was requested I guess that it is possible that off-centre hypotheses would get a significant airing, but until then, most are doomed, and consensus remains core.

Sorry for such a long contribution everyone. I hope some of it is useful. And I hope I didn't make too many typos.

Mike said at January 16, 2005 7:25 AM:

Error :-(

US$2000mn should be US$20000mn (ie US$20bn).

Iain Holland said at January 16, 2005 7:50 AM:

I heard a radio report yesterday including an interview with some woman in the USA complaining that a newly distributed text book in certain US schools failed to acknowledge 'creationism', as opposed to 'evolutionism', as a viable explanation for our existence. 'Well, Hello!' I wanted to scream, 'are all Americans barking?'

600 hundred years ago a theory emerged that the world was round - in some senses this 'fact' is still actually theoretical - glancing out of my window I would be hard pressed to establish the 'roundness' of my world! However, I know it to be true and no amount of resistence to the idea would flatten it.

So, 600 years ago, 99% of the population, those that gave no credence to the idea of a round world were, in fact, simply wrong!

This is an argument I use, as an atheist, to anyone who spouts their religion at me. They are simply 'wrong'. Calling, in support of their arguments, the 3 - 4 billion people who possibly believe otherwise simply informs me that 3 - 4 billion other people are wrong too. As Atheism is not a religion I don't 'believe' I'm right, I 'know' I'm right and therefore the 'wrongness' of others beliefs 'ain't my problem' and I rarely allow it to irk me. History is littered with accounts of those being 'right' at the 'wrong' time. These historic facts in no manner change their 'rightness', even Darwin for 20 years, discredited his own understanding and failed to publish his findings. Besideswhich, the interesting statistic is that probably an equal amount 'don't believe' and that's worth recognising and a hopeful conclusion to this thought.

In a 'godless' world their is no absolute moral orthodoxy provided from on high, by scriptures or any other silly book whose primacy is most usually that of noting the perfectly obvious. For example, wiping one's arse with the left hand while reserving the right hand for eating, appears good sense to me. Though, in this day and age, perhaps washing them both thoroughly before dining may suffice. However, tempting as it may be, mocking the Koran, Bible or Torah isn't my real purpose. I guess that an owner's manual for any device, even a human body, is probably a good idea and I am perfectly well aware in my self-satisfied western world that many, many millions do not have readily available running water and copious quantities of soap.

The question may arise, what is atheistic morality, do atheists have morals. I could certainly stuff a knife in my neighbour's heart without any expectation of 'divine' retribution. I could kill babies, rape women (or men, or children for that matter), rob banks, gas ethinic minorities, even push the button to detonate a nuclear device, without any fear of any god. In my defence, were I to perpetrate such acts, I could claim that supposedly godly and religious people have slaughtered their neighbours, killed babies, raped women, men and children, robbed banks, gassed ethnic minorities and blown apart entire cities in defence or supposed compliance with their religiosity - where, therefore, rests my crime?

Would the mitigating defence, 'I am an atheist and am therefore exempt from laws founded on a Judeo/Christian/Islamic ethic' hold water? I may also add, as part of my defence, that as nearly 50% of the global population DON'T believe in such a god (and therefore the foundation for the laws apparently infringed) I can be held as only 50% guilty. Such a jury would be required to acquit me. Does my atheism mean that I can be as barbaric as I wish and suffer no penalty?

The law, a nation's law let's say, often has little to do with the crime and much more to do with the requirements of the state at any given time - that is to say, the requirements of the powerful. In Germany, for a period, it was perfectly lawful to persecute a jewish minority, even to death. In England for many years a petty thief could be robbed of his liberty, family and friends and shipped across the globe. Salt and windows were taxed with heinous penalties while entire populations were dispatched to a life of slavery, sexual abuse and, for the majority, death at the behest of Christian and Islamic states claiming moral and religious certitude.

Could I say these crimes are in the past? Shameful of course, but past. Yet, even today at least a 1,000 catholic priests in the USA have failed to be brought to account and justice for acts of paedophilia against young parishoners, while your money, you catholics, pays off the thousands of claimants with permanent 'hush' money. Monies that should have been used to appease the ongoing suffering of the many poor and needy are simply paid away because your pastor wanted his cock sucked.

Catholicism is a disgrace beyond disgrace, a vile tyranny of mind and spirit and thought and humanity.

More to come.

Marie King said at January 16, 2005 8:42 AM:

I too watched the Horizon programme last night and freely admit that I found it disturbing to say the least. Even if it was sensationlist and even if it was too pessimistic (and more research into the issue is needed), I find myself worrying that the main problem is the timescales that were given. 20 years for a possible rise of 2% - that's incredibly soon and I find it hard to believe that without a major change in CO2 emissions strategies in the next two or three years, we will be able to make the deadline. I know that there are lots of people out there that say that it's unlikely to happen anyway, but I can't help thinking that I would much rather at least try to do something about it and have egg on my face if climate change turns out to be a non-issue, than have everybody tell me that I was right to be worried and live in a dying world. Just a thought...

Simon Lee-Frampton said at January 16, 2005 9:55 AM:

'A lack of scientific certainty should not prevent action being taken where there are risks of serious harm to the environment' This, I believe, is known as the precautionary principle. There are always two sides to every argument, but the evidence seemed pretty clear to me... less sunlight is reaching the Earth today than it did 50 odd years ago. We are right to be concerned about this, just as we are about global warming. The amazing thing is, that I honestly believe we will expect 'someone else' to sort the problem out for us so that we can continue to live the lifestlyes we have become used to. We all need to take responsibility, not just for global dimming/warming, but for the myriad of other problems that we inflict on our planet and on our own kind. We have a United Nations that speak fine words, and yes, action is being taken to make this a safer, better world, but progress is so slow! You and I have to play our part. Any small thing does make a difference. Get on your bikes to get to work... lose weight, gain fitness and stamina (but don't breathe in those car exhaust fumes!), buy your fruit and veg from farmers markets, pester the supermarkets, tell them to cut down on the packaging. Teach your children these things too, and your neighbours and work colleagues. Maybe one day the message will get through. We live in exciting times. Just hope I'm still around in 50 years time to see what happens!

Randall Parker said at January 16, 2005 12:21 PM:

Mike,

I'm not including links to every point I make here because I'm including links to some of my site'e category archives. You aren't backing up with citations the bulk of your assertions either btw.

Regarding your responses to me in item 6:

A) A supposed rising cost of remediation: Your big item is the Gulf Stream. If it does not shift I do not see anything major in the next 20 or 30 years that imposes any immediate cost. At this point the temperatures of the world are well within historic ranges of the last couple of thousand years. England, for instance, is much colder than it was in Roman times. Ditto Greenland.

B) New technologies that are cheaper really would be taken up by the market. What caused the phase-out of coal for heating buildings? Oil and natural gas were cheaper. The shifts from wood to coal to oil to natural gas were market driven. People seek to minimize costs. Give them a lower cost option and they will go for it. Come up with a scientific breakthrough that lowers the cost of solar panels by a couple of orders of magnitude and no government intervention will be needed to get those panels widely adopted. Lower the cost and increase the power density of batteries and car companies will shift to hybrids and all electric cars.

C) VCs, Bush and the oil companies: Yes, of course the US government does not intervene in VC decision-making. That is just the point. The influence of oil companies and the ability of oil companies to block technological development in other energy sources is greatly exaggerated. The fact that the US government spends billions on coal and nuclear research demonstrates that the oil companies can not block the development of competing alternative energy sources.

D) The National Venture Capital Association puts total US venture capital at $18.3 billion per year. That $18.3 billion accomplishes more to accelerate technological advance than the government could with ten times that amount.

E) Yes, the VCs are tilted more toward renewables. But note that they are starting up fuel cell companies and solar panel companies. Their small amounts of money in start-ups will accelerate the rate of advance of photovoltaics more than anything the government is doing. Also, the shift of the VCs toward energy start-ups is probably going to continue. So they will spend even larger amounts next year and the year after that.

7) Richard Lindzen: But you are missing the point: The presence of a consensus among a majority does not make the answer correct just because the majority in question are scientists. Also, climate scientists aren't going to state with certainty what they expect to see happen with the climate in the next 25 or 50 years the way they'd stay with certainty that, say, Maxwell's Equation predicts results.

Another point: Intervention now to slow CO2 emissions would have opportunity costs. Our economies would grow more slowly in the short term and more people would die in the Third World due to delayed development. Are you really sure that intervention with heavy taxes and restrictions on energy use today is going to reduce net human suffering? Do you have that much confidence in the probability of more pessimistic scenarios happening and do you have that much belief that technology isn't going to bring us cheaper solutions later that you want to inflict enormous economic costs on all of humanity today?

I do not that such confidence in the gloomsters and doomsters. I think some fraction of the human race tends to get itself all excited by imaginings of disasters and I resist their attempts to impose such huge costs. It seems far more prudent to me to follow Nobelist Richard Smalley's advice and embark on a massive research effort to develop cleaner and cheaper energy. The effort would cost only $10 billion per year. Smalley, 1996 winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his discovery of the buckminsterfullerene (aka fullerene or ''buckyball") testifying before the US House Of Representatives Subcommittee On Energy Committee On Science says technological solutions to our energy problems are there waiting to be discovered.

I will get right to the point. Energy is the single most important problem facing humanity today. We must find an alternative to oil. We need to somehow provide clean, abundant, low-cost energy throughout the world to the six billion people that live on the planet today and the ten-plus billion that are expected by the middle of this century. As cheaper, cleaner, more universally available this new energy technology is, the better we will be able to avoid the human suffering and the major upheavals of war and terrorism.it is only a technical problem. There will be a technical solution; we just need to find it.

...

Nature has already given us one such reactor and provided the necessary distance and shielding. It is our sun. There is plenty of energy from this natural fusion reactor to provide all our energy needs for centuries to come. We just don't know how to harvest it, store it, to transport it, and to use it in the amounts we need.

I believe the DOE Office of Science can find answers to how to do this. The technology that will do what we need does not yet exist. It will come from discoveries in basic science and particularly from nanotechnology. The biggest breakthrough will come in some, perhaps, small lab in some surprising way, perhaps made by some brilliant, young black woman who is currently not even out of high school. It will come from a garden of science, cultivated by DOE's Office of Science.

...

We need to find that new energy technology, and do it quickly.

I believe the U.S. should launch a 1B$/yr program within the Office of Science to find this answer, and plan to ramp this up to over $10B in 5 years. The new energy program must be big enough to inspire and capture the imagination of our nation's youth, get them to choose a career in science because of their idealism, and their sense of mission. And the program must be bold enough to actually make the necessary scientific breakthroughs happen.

Smalley is talking about an effort that is in a ballpark in terms of money that would still only amount to a few percent of what the US spends on the military. The total amount of money spent would be far less than the cost for the invasion of Iraq. Why not try it?

Flick said at April 12, 2005 11:55 PM:

If everyone spent as much time, positively making changes instead of hypothesising perhaps we wouldn't be so far down this road. I believe it's out of our hands... yes, we are speeding the process but change is inevitable. Is a new Ice Age around the corner? If we ease the Dimming process will this not increase the Warming process and change vital water currents and salinity levels? Will we not emerge into a Global Climatic catastrophy either way?

Go plant a tree! (one that likes salt water only a little light, and of course overmanufactures O2)

Davy Yorkshire England said at May 2, 2005 3:08 PM:

As long as money is most peoples main aim in lifes then nothing much will be done to save our planet, take the petrochemical industry for instance, there have been several bright inventions on how to save fuel in motor vehicles, but where have they all gone, most likely bought up by the shrewd oil companies and shelved, which actually reverses the whole idea in the first place, they all say they are pumping lots of money into reaserch, but where are the results, if the experts say we have only twent to thirty years of fossile fuels left, then now is the time to use those resorces to invent alternatives of energy before they run out, or how else are we going to raise the huge amounts of energy needed to manufacture the structers that will be needed.

Also if our planet has been suffering from global dimming caused by the huge amounts of particulates released during the industrial revolution, and now those particulates are slowly clearing from our atmosphere, doesn't this mean that together with the increase in CO2 emissions, this means that the earth will warm up even quicker, we will never really know the result until its too late, or as some predict, if its not too late already.

Remember the documentaries of how the modern humans migrated north into Europe after the ice age, well this will happen again much sooner than we all imagine in ecological terms, where will the Africans etc go, Europe is not big enough to soak up the masses which will come our way, because their climate has become inhabitable, I'm dam sure that we will see a mass extinction by our own hands long before any global warming takes hold.

All the experts say we must do something today and not in ten years time, there is lots of talking but nothing at all is happening, now that China and other developing countries are expanding ten fold, the already developed countries in Europe and around the globe are saying these governments must keep their levels lower, yet they pump hugh amounts of cash into these devloping countries for the return of ever cheaper goods, doesn't this counteract the whole process, I'm sure we all know where I'm coming from, of course you do, your probably reading this message on a computer made in China.

Well that's my peneth worth, there is lots more to talk obout as we all know, but where has talking ever got us.


Money will always come before anything else, human rights or any other global issue will always come second too it, what is the point in around 87 percent of the worlds wealth being controlled by only seven persent of the population, while their bank accounts grow ever bigger the worlds resorces grow ever smaller, what do we want, more than enough money than we can possibly need or a planet on which to survive.

Davy Yorkshire England said at May 2, 2005 3:40 PM:

My second posting concentrates ot the higher levels of our oceans, there is research that says, the higher the levels of our oceans, the greater great strain it puts upon the earths techtonic plates.
This has been fact for many years, during the last ice age, the sheer weight of the ice in the north of Britain caused the English english channel to be raised to the point where one could almost walk across dry land into France, when the ice melted the reverse happened, this is what's know as glacial tilt.
I really belive that the lateset tsunami was helped along by this kind of process, because when the benthic ocean pressures in our deepest oceans are subject to the greater weight of water pushing upon them.
Never before has there been some much melt water entering the worlds biggest rivers, the Greenland ice shelf movement has been raised from only a few miles a year twenty years ago to almost 15 mile a year today and there are no signs that it will slow.
Many of the worlds glaciers have retreated many miles into their very beginings, some have vanished altogether, there are so many things happening to our planet today which we can't ignore any longer.
All the pocesses began many years ago, the Missisippi delta floods were sort of a warning, I know natural disasters like Mnt St Hellens do happen from time to time, but so many others are clutering together in a short very short moment of time.
Any scientist out there want to tell us the whole story ?.

Kenneth Jones said at July 3, 2005 1:17 AM:

Another factor contributing to the demise of our species. And more immediate than i think is realized, is that of population growth. Both in numbers and in stature. Bigger individuals consume more resourses to sustain them. Big may be beautiful But it costs more to keep.

Judy said at February 24, 2006 4:11 AM:

I havent read all the comments here because I have spent more hours in searching
the subject. I will another day.

However it seems to me in whatever I read, people are losing sight of the fact that America IS dropping pollutants on I think I read about 27 countries.

The Americans have been fooling with such things for longer than most would realise. I recall in the 70s a news item expressing concern that America intended piercing the Ionisphere.
Lets not forget that in 1945 & 46 the Americans were here in New Zealand making Tsunami Bombs...This was done off the Whangaparoa Peninsula, Auckland.

If you place untreated, unpainted ( cant think of the name of the wood tea chests were made out of) leaned (off the ground) on a slant you will find that over a 3yr period they will be of the colour of a darkish deck paint & it will be obvious that it has fallen from above.

When flying you can often see the stuff in the clouds but the colour there is a tannish brown.

The sky has been dimmed for years behind the greyish layer (when there are no clouds0 there is a faint black layer.

Frankly there is more to this than greedy globals forcing the use oil for cars etc that could have been avoided from the beginning of cars.

Dominic Dangerfield said at April 8, 2007 5:55 PM:

Dominic,

Alright, I am a 9th grader and understand the harshness of the issue of global dimming but also the plus on global dimming. I am writing a 10 page paper on it and trying to figure out what things i want to see before i die. Global dimming is going to keep some plants from growing and create acid rain killing the oxygen rate the earth has(what litle the earth has from the over population it is having). But with out global dimming, global warming would increase to the point rain forests could turn into deserts. The growht in technology may help to slow global dimming, but that means nothing when we are under 26 feet of water because of the growth of the sea level from the Greenland ice caps melting. Either way we are practically going to become extinct within the next thirty years. For all of those who dont care about it, they obviously have niether no life nor children and won't or else they would be caring about the age their children will live. I'm sorry but I planned on going to Miami University, on having two children, one boy, one girl, a nice house in Miami, a job as an engineer and game designer, and a nice, beautiful wife that love me before, after, and to death. You all can pollute your air when you have a bubble, but if you wil be the cause of my death, we are going to have a problem in my last days. I am not trying in school to have my plans choke me and my wife to be.

craig said at July 17, 2007 4:30 PM:

Basically, global diming is the least of our worries. The following should be considered to be fixed, but basically the people who are meant to run this world, e.g. governments are too protective over money that were not going to get anything done.

1. I've recently been very interested in Chernobyl, :P effected a huge % of the earth with radioactive dust, wales and ireland, 100's of miles away still have farming problems, bearing in mind this was 21 years ago. The event has an estimated amount killed upwards of 300,000 people. I wont mention the side effects of births with only 10% of babies being born healthy. Compare this to Africa and 3rd world countries, Russias state is worse. You would think they woudnt want a repeat of this ? Hence they would have replace the concrete 'sarcophegus' that covers the reactor before the deadline at which it could collapse at any moment, 2006. It has gaping holes everywhere, money and warfare are too important.

2. Money, no-one is going to give up money, face it. If people were worried about these effects, how many hours have you spent, mind-lessly burning power, contributing to the problem you talk about.

3. You would think the media would be swayed into promoting 'green lifestyles' but its the bone-idle people i have noticed channel hopping day time tv, Loose Women, tehy stated very clearly, about how they couldnt be bothered and 'couldnt sleep at night if they didnt have the tv on' pathetic imo, its people like this that will mean anyone that attempts to try to help the problem, will fail.

just a general eye-opener, that this is just one of many unsolveable problems.

Afraid to say it, but

No Hope.

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