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Re: [Phys-l] gigo


You and I are in nearly complete agreement on your statement below.

Having economies that can support the development of alternatives and the building of the required
infrastructure requires the continued use of fossil fuels. Otherwise, we'll never get there. It will take a
long time. We must develop an "all of the above" approach that includes fossil fuels, solar, wind,
geothermal, nuclear (must solve waste problems), biomass, etc., gradually replacing the fossil fuels
with adequte alternatives in a way that sustains and expands quality of life for everyone. Many of our
alternatives relate to production of electricity, but we need the development of fuels for transportation in
adequate quantities to meet demand. We do not have that at present.


On 13 Oct 2010 at 13:23, Dr. Richard Tarara wrote:

Let's forget the fringes here--those who would even deny that there has been
some warming, that humans have zero effect on the climate, but also those
who are call for almost immediate cessation of all carbon emissions, who
claim the sky is falling. Long term we know that we will seriously
decrease our carbon emissions simply because we are going to run out of coal
and oil in the next century or two and unless we tap the ocean methane,
natural gas as well (actually relatively soon). Keeping that in mind, then
the question becomes HOW MUCH of the current warming is due to human
activity especially in light of the fact that we have been in a warming
trend since the last ice-age and as pointed out--the curve is not far off
that natural warming. To pick up on a sub-thread, is half a degree over a
century really above the noise when all natural factors are taken into
account. All this leads, I think, to legitimate questions about how much
action do we need to take and how soon do we need to do it. While I
personally am in the 'better safe than sorry' camp, there are HUGE financial
interests at play here--on both sides of the issue.

I note that you average over 20 years to say we're within predictions (but
guess that depends on the particular model) but not necessarily over the
last 10 years. While we certainly aren't cooling, the 'respite' from
increasing temperatures has come at a somewhat inopportune time ,as has a
global recession, to spur real, large scale changes. This also couples with
rapid development in the East and simply put, a lack of viable alternative
to accomplish immediate, massive shifts away from fossil fuels. I'm hoping
that the factors you quote below account for only a fraction of the observed
warming because its going to take quite some time (I think a century or so)
to really and substantially move away from the fossils.


----- Original Message -----
From: "A. John Mallinckrodt" <>
To: "Forum for Physics Educators" <>
Sent: Wednesday, October 13, 2010 1:03 PM
Subject: Re: [Phys-l] gigo

The characteristics of a waterfall depend on minute details of rock sizes,
shapes, and placements, wind currents, temperature, etc. but one needn't
know more than the general contour from precipice to pool and the flow
rate to know 99% of everything most people might care about.

In the case of global warming we know that CO2 concentrations are far
larger than they have been at any point in the last million years, we know
how much radiative forcing the increased concentrations of CO2 and other
greenhouse gases cause, we know the temperature rise to be expected from
that increased forcing, and we are seeing temperature rises pretty much in
keeping with those expectations. Under the circumstances, it seems to me
that those who claim there is no human component to the observed warming
have a pretty serious obligation to explain how that could be. To give
their clams any credence without demanding that explanation seems to me to
indicate a lack of appropriate skepticism.

John Mallinckrodt
Cal Poly Pomona

James Espinoza wrote:

If a model does not take into account the sun, or clouds, or cosmic rays,
changing orbits,or is incomplete in some other way, and only carbon
matters, how confident can one be about the predictions?
... When it comes to global warming it appears that many scientists have
lost their skepticism, which I always tell my students is essential in
and physics in particular.
Forum for Physics Educators

Forum for Physics Educators

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