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Old 03-10-08, 10:38 PM   #1
Blue Order
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CO2 output must cease altogether

CO2 output must cease altogether

Research points to years of warming even with ambitious emission cuts
By Juliet Eilperin

The Washington Post
updated 10:35 p.m. PT, Sun., March. 9, 2008

The task of cutting greenhouse gas emissions enough to avert a dangerous rise in global temperatures may be far more difficult than previous research suggested, say scientists who have just published studies indicating that it would require the world to cease carbon emissions altogether within a matter of decades.

Their findings, published in separate journals over the past few weeks, suggest that both industrialized and developing nations must wean themselves off fossil fuels by as early as mid-century in order to prevent warming that could change precipitation patterns and dry up sources of water worldwide.

Using advanced computer models to factor in deep-sea warming and other aspects of the carbon cycle that naturally creates and removes carbon dioxide (CO2), the scientists, from countries including the United States, Canada and Germany, are delivering a simple message: The world must bring carbon emissions down to near zero to keep temperatures from rising further.

"The question is, what if we don't want the Earth to warm anymore?" asked Carnegie Institution senior scientist Ken Caldeira, co-author of a paper published last week in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. "The answer implies a much more radical change to our energy system than people are thinking about."

Emissions continue to rise
Although many nations have been pledging steps to curb emissions for nearly a decade, the world's output of carbon from human activities totals about 10 billion tons a year and has been steadily rising.

For now, at least, a goal of zero emissions appears well beyond the reach of politicians here and abroad. U.S. leaders are just beginning to grapple with setting any mandatory limit on greenhouse gases. The Senate is poised to vote in June on legislation that would reduce U.S. emissions by 70 percent by 2050; the two Democratic senators running for president, Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) and Barack Obama (Ill.), back an 80 percent cut. The Republican presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), supports a 60 percent reduction by mid-century.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), who is shepherding climate legislation through the Senate as chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, said the new findings "make it clear we must act now to address global warming."

"It won't be easy, given the makeup of the Senate, but the science is compelling," she said. "It is hard for me to see how my colleagues can duck this issue and live with themselves."

James L. Connaughton, who chairs the White House Council on Environmental Quality, offered a more guarded reaction, saying the idea that "ultimately you need to get to net-zero emissions" is "something we've heard before." When it comes to tackling such a daunting environmental and technological problem, he added: "We've done this kind of thing before. We will do it again. It will just take a sufficient amount of time."

Warming may continue despite CO2 cuts
Until now, scientists and policymakers have generally described the problem in terms of halting the buildup of carbon in the atmosphere. The United Nations' Framework Convention on Climate Change framed the question that way two decades ago, and many experts talk of limiting CO2 concentrations to 450 parts per million (ppm).

But Caldeira and Oregon State University professor Andreas Schmittner now argue that it makes more sense to focus on a temperature threshold as a better marker of when the planet will experience severe climate disruptions. The Earth has already warmed by 0.76 degrees Celsius (nearly 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels. Most scientists warn that a temperature rise of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) could have serious consequences.

Schmittner, lead author of a Feb. 14 article in the journal Global Biogeochemical Cycles, said his modeling indicates that if global emissions continue on a "business as usual" path for the rest of the century, the Earth will warm by 7.2 degrees Fahrenheit by 2100. If emissions do not drop to zero until 2300, he calculated, the temperature rise at that point would be more than 15 degrees Fahrenheit.

"This is tremendous," Schmittner said. "I was struck by the fact that the warming continues much longer even after emissions have declined. . . . Our actions right now will have consequences for many, many generations. Not just for a hundred years, but thousands of years."

While natural cycles remove roughly half of human-emitted carbon dioxide from the atmosphere within a hundred years, a significant portion persists for thousands of years. Some of this carbon triggers deep-sea warming, which keeps raising the global average temperature even after emissions halt.

Researchers have predicted for a long time that warming will persist even after the world's carbon emissions start to fall and that countries will have to dramatically curb their carbon output in order to avert severe climate change. Last year's report of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said industrialized nations would have to cut emissions 80 to 95 percent by 2050 to limit CO2 concentrations to the 450 ppm goal, and the world as a whole would have to reduce emissions by 50 to 80 percent.

Glimpse into the distant future
European Union Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas, in Washington last week for meetings with administration officials, said he and his colleagues are operating on the assumption that developed nations must cut emissions 60 to 80 percent by mid-century, with an overall global reduction of 50 percent. "If that is not enough, common sense is that we would not let the planet be destroyed," he said.

The two new studies outline the challenge in greater detail, and on a longer time scale, than many earlier studies. Schmittner's study, for example, projects how the Earth will warm for the next 2,000 years.

But some climate researchers who back major greenhouse gas reductions said it is unrealistic to expect policymakers to think in terms of such vast time scales.

"People aren't reducing emissions at all, let alone debating whether 88 percent or 99 percent is sufficient," said Gavin A. Schmidt, of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies. "It's like you're starting off on a road trip from New York to California, and before you even start, you're arguing about where you're going to park at the end."

Brian O'Neill of the National Center for Atmospheric Research emphasized that some uncertainties surround the strength of the natural carbon cycle and the dynamics of ocean warming, which in turn would affect the accuracy of Caldeira's modeling. "Neither of these are known precisely," he said.

Although computer models used by scientists to project changes in the climate have become increasingly powerful, scientists acknowledge that no model is a perfect reflection of the complex dynamics involved and how they will evolve with time.

Still, O'Neill said the modeling "helps clarify thinking about long-term policy goals. If we want to reduce warming to a certain level, there's a fixed amount of carbon we can put into the atmosphere. After that, we can't emit any more, at all."

Caldeira and his colleague, H. Damon Matthews, a geography professor at Concordia University in Montreal, emphasized this point in their paper, concluding that "each unit of CO2 emissions must be viewed as leading to quantifiable and essentially permanent climate change on centennial timescales."

Steve Gardiner, a philosophy professor at the University of Washington who studies climate change, said the studies highlight that the argument over global warming "is a classic inter-generational debate, where the short-term benefits of emitting carbon accrue mainly to us and where the dangers of them are largely put off until future generations."

When it comes to deciding how drastically to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, O'Neill said, "in the end, this is a value judgment, it's not a scientific question." The idea of shifting to a carbon-free society, he added, "appears to be technically feasible. The question is whether it's politically feasible or economically feasible."

2008 The Washington Post Company
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Old 03-10-08, 11:17 PM   #2
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This might be a really good time for people to start coming up with ways to get carbon out of the atmosphere rather than to put all of our efforts into not putting it there to begin with. If drastically reducing our emissions is our only strategy, we're screwed; it takes a really long time to get seven billion people to damatically change their habits, especially if the majority of them don't have their eye on the ball, either because they want to keep driving the SUV or because they think having a refrigerator would sure be nice.

I recently looked at some data that showed that, for all of our increases in CO2 emissions, human beings still produce a pretty small percentage of the total. Maybe deforestation, massive urbanization and other land use follies have more to do with the problem than power plants or cars. Maybe it's the CO2 uptake that needs more attention.

And another thing: I have yet to understand why CO2, a gas that only makes up 0.04% of the atmosphere, can have such a massive effect on climate. I don't doubt that there's a relationship -ice core sample seem to bear this out, as well as a couple of classroom experiments I've done myself- but it sure would be nice to know what, exactly, is the mechanism that makes it happen.
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Old 03-11-08, 03:40 AM   #3
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...And another thing: I have yet to understand why CO2, a gas that only makes up 0.04% of the atmosphere, can have such a massive effect on climate. I don't doubt that there's a relationship -ice core sample seem to bear this out, as well as a couple of classroom experiments I've done myself...
Can you elaborate a little about those classroom demonstrations of the CO2 greenhouse effect? Are they easy to set up?
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Old 03-11-08, 06:36 AM   #4
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personally, i think we're screwed.
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Old 03-11-08, 06:58 AM   #5
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If global warming becomes a real problem we'll engineer an ambitious global solution such as a)solar shade b)carbon trapping c)nuclear/volcanic winter
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Old 03-11-08, 08:38 AM   #6
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While I'm all for industrial changes and making the world a better place we have to realize that this rush to green is all about money to most countries and businesses, where can they get it and how can they make it from this current disaster.
"The major greenhouse gases are water vapor, which causes about 3670% of the greenhouse effect on Earth not including clouds carbon dioxide, which causes 926%; methane, which causes 49%, and ozone, which causes 37%"(wikipeadia)
Water is by far the worst culprit of green house gas but there is nothing we can do about it humans breath is out and water naturally flows through the water cycle. But CO2 became an easy target it's an industrial by product we can tax it we can clean it, people can make money talking about it.
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Old 03-11-08, 08:40 AM   #7
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I kind of think this may have more to do with it than anything else.

http://www.museum.state.il.us/exhibi..._ice_ages.html

In other words, I believe that it is a natural cycle.

I don't believe any of the hype about we need to do x, y, and z or we are all going to be dead in so many odd years. We are all going to be dead in so many odd years as it is. Mother nature is much more powerful than anything man can throw at her. Warming and cooling cycles have happened since the beginning of the Earth's creation and they'll likely continue long after any of us or are species have left.

Dinosaurs weren't driving SUVs and they're all gone. "Sh*t happens - it always has and it always will. That is one of the most basic laws of the universe.

Over consumption of resources should be stopped for other reasons than the fear that it will cause global warming and the demise of our, and countless other, species. Our species and others will eventually be wiped out as it is, because that is what happens, SUVs or not.

Of course, I could be wrong, but it is a fact that the Earth has warmed and cooled in cycles on and off since the beginning of the Earth's existence.
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Old 03-11-08, 09:07 AM   #8
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It should be obvious to all that we have put this off way too long! We should have started reducing our carbon output 35 years ago! Ahh... excuse me a moment, folks, my sweetheart is interrupting me-

Oh, ...well. Um. She has just reminded me that 35 years ago everyone was in hysterics because the climatologists were convinced we were entering another ice age.
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Old 03-11-08, 09:54 AM   #9
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This might be a really good time for people to start coming up with ways to get carbon out of the atmosphere rather than to put all of our efforts into not putting it there to begin with.
Here you go bub, all the info one needs to remove CO2 from the air.
http://www.ucalgary.ca/~keith/papers...rCapture.e.pdf

All you folks in a panic need to get together and build these scrubbers. (No, you won't do that! You want to force everyone else to pay for it don't you?)

Here's another question, these scrubbers are low tech and cheap, how come they aren't front and center as a policy option? PM me for the answer!

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I recently looked at some data that showed that, for all of our increases in CO2 emissions, human beings still produce a pretty small percentage of the total. Maybe deforestation, massive urbanization and other land use follies have more to do with the problem than power plants or cars. Maybe it's the CO2 uptake that needs more attention.
Natural organic processes and volcano's make up 95% of global CO2 emissions. Is it reasonable to think that reducing the 5% we are responsible for will dramatically change world climate?

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And another thing: I have yet to understand why CO2, a gas that only makes up 0.04% of the atmosphere, can have such a massive effect on climate. [snip] ...but it sure would be nice to know what, exactly, is the mechanism that makes it happen.
The theory is that CO2 traps infrared light, thus capturing it's energy in our atmosphere, rather than allowing it to radiate into space. CO2 is a very good absorber of infra red light. So good in fact that it has nearly passed the saturation point. That is, all the infra red light is almost 100% captured now with the present CO2 levels in the air. So if this theory is accurate, more CO2 will have less and less effect from higher concentrations.

But data like this spoils a good party. Never mind that the effect of CO2 is massively overwhelmed by water vapor on atmospheric temperatures. Never mind that climate models are unable to replicate past climate changes from any time period. Pay no attention to the man behind that curtain!

Seriously, pay no mind to the hysteria of AGW.
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Old 03-11-08, 05:14 PM   #10
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Ah global warming.

Thanks for the laugh! : )
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Old 03-12-08, 12:15 AM   #11
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Can you elaborate a little about those classroom demonstrations of the CO2 greenhouse effect? Are they easy to set up?
I've done it with middle school students. Actually, it's pretty easy, but it's not a totally controlled experiment, either. I'm sure it won't win any science fair prizes. Anyway, here's the procedure:

1. Place two identical thermometers in two clear plastic bags. (Bottles work okay, too, assuming that CO2 is denser than air, so it won't leak out.)
2. Inflate one of the bags with CO2 using a CO2 canister like those used for PFDs (or an old CO2 fire extinguisher), and the other one with air from a bicycle pump. (The big problem here is that the bag with CO2 has other gases in it.)
3. Expose both bags to the same light source; I've used a halogen work light, or even a regular incandescent bulb. (make sure both bags are the same distance from the light/heat source.)
4. Measure the temperature of the two bags every minute for 10-20 minutes.
5. Turn off the light.
6. Again, measure the temperature of the two bags every minute for 10-20 minutes. (longer is better)

Invariably the gas containing mostly CO2 reaches a higher temperature than regular air. But what's really interesting is that the CO2 drops its temps noticably slower than regular air. For reasons I have yet to completely understand, CO2 seems to retain heat for a good long while, which would explain why the IPCC reports that nighttime lows are rising faster and more uniformly across the planet than daytime highs. Of course, it's not really a good model; it's not so much modeling the effects of increased CO2 emissions on Earth as it is comparing the effects of the atmospheres of Earth and Venus. But it still gets the point across, on a limited budget, that CO2 concentrations actually seem to make a difference.
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Old 03-12-08, 12:18 AM   #12
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I've done it with middle school students. Actually, it's pretty easy, but it's not a totally controlled experiment, either. I'm sure it won't win any science fair prizes. Anyway, here's the procedure:

1. Place two identical thermometers in two clear plastic bags. (Bottles work okay, too, assuming that CO2 is denser than air, so it won't leak out.)
2. Inflate one of the bags with CO2 using a CO2 canister like those used for PFDs (or an old CO2 fire extinguisher), and the other one with air from a bicycle pump. (The big problem here is that the bag with CO2 has other gases in it.)
3. Expose both bags to the same light source; I've used a halogen work light, or even a regular incandescent bulb. (make sure both bags are the same distance from the light/heat source.)
4. Measure the temperature of the two bags every minute for 10-20 minutes.
5. Turn off the light.
6. Again, measure the temperature of the two bags every minute for 10-20 minutes. (longer is better)

Invariably the gas containing mostly CO2 reaches a higher temperature than regular air. But what's really interesting is that the CO2 drops its temps noticably slower than regular air. For reasons I have yet to completely understand, CO2 seems to retain heat for a good long while, which would explain why the IPCC reports that nighttime lows are rising faster and more uniformly across the planet than daytime highs. Of course, it's not really a good model; it's not so much modeling the effects of increased CO2 emissions on Earth as it is comparing the effects of the atmospheres of Earth and Venus. But it still gets the point across, on a limited budget, that CO2 concentrations actually seem to make a difference.
Pfftt...

Don't waste your time.
Platy is troglodyte.
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Old 03-12-08, 12:22 AM   #13
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Chipseal, your an uninformed ignoramus.

Just sayin'.
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Old 03-12-08, 01:29 AM   #14
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Here you go bub, all the info one needs to remove CO2 from the air.
http://www.ucalgary.ca/~keith/papers...rCapture.e.pdf

All you folks in a panic need to get together and build these scrubbers. (No, you won't do that! You want to force everyone else to pay for it don't you?)

Here's another question, these scrubbers are low tech and cheap, how come they aren't front and center as a policy option? PM me for the answer!



Natural organic processes and volcano's make up 95% of global CO2 emissions. Is it reasonable to think that reducing the 5% we are responsible for will dramatically change world climate?



The theory is that CO2 traps infrared light, thus capturing it's energy in our atmosphere, rather than allowing it to radiate into space. CO2 is a very good absorber of infra red light. So good in fact that it has nearly passed the saturation point. That is, all the infra red light is almost 100% captured now with the present CO2 levels in the air. So if this theory is accurate, more CO2 will have less and less effect from higher concentrations.

But data like this spoils a good party. Never mind that the effect of CO2 is massively overwhelmed by water vapor on atmospheric temperatures. Never mind that climate models are unable to replicate past climate changes from any time period. Pay no attention to the man behind that curtain!

Seriously, pay no mind to the hysteria of AGW.
Thank you for the link to the article about removing CO2 from the air. According to the authors of the article, using current, or at least near-future technolgy, it would take US $500 to remove one ton of carbon from the air. Since the average US citizen puts roughly 20 tons of carbon into the atmosphere in a given year, that means that it would cost $10,000 per person to remove their carbon. If we assume that taxpayers will assume this burden, it would cost $3,000,000,000,000 (3 x 10e12) per year to erase our collective carbon footprint, which is, I imagine, quite a big percentage of, if not a lot more than, the entire national budget. For now, at least, this doesn't seem to be a viable technology, unless it's used in conjunction with coservation and alternative energy sources. (i.e., no magic bullet)

Your paragraph about the solar infrared levels being at or near saturation point seems too good to be true because it is. One need only look, again, at Venus to see that this is not true. Given enough CO2, the temperature can go up tens or even hundreds of degrees C. Saturation of IR has not been reached. If you can show me something that proves me utterly wrong, I'd love to see it, though.
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Old 03-12-08, 01:48 AM   #15
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Pfftt...

Don't waste your time.
Platy is troglodyte.
Actually, although I've not always agreed with him, I've found Platy's comments to be mostly intelligent, tolerant, and often even insightful and thought-provoking. And, most importantly, he's consistently respectful of others, regardless of their views. (i.e., he manages to remember his manners)
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Old 03-12-08, 01:50 AM   #16
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The theory is that CO2 traps infrared light, thus capturing it's energy in our atmosphere, rather than allowing it to radiate into space. CO2 is a very good absorber of infra red light. So good in fact that it has nearly passed the saturation point. That is, all the infra red light is almost 100% captured now with the present CO2 levels in the air. So if this theory is accurate, more CO2 will have less and less effect from higher concentrations.

But data like this spoils a good party. Never mind that the effect of CO2 is massively overwhelmed by water vapor on atmospheric temperatures. Never mind that climate models are unable to replicate past climate changes from any time period. Pay no attention to the man behind that curtain!
My sarcasm meter isn't very well tuned, but you're being sarcastic right?
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Old 03-12-08, 06:22 AM   #17
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For now, at least, this doesn't seem to be a viable technology
Isn't that the point? It would be the end of western civilization to try to vastly reduce CO2 production. Fortunately the whole AGW thing is a hoax, as becomes ever more evident with each passing year.

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Your paragraph about the solar infrared levels being at or near saturation point seems too good to be true because it is. One need only look, again, at Venus to see that this is not true. Given enough CO2, the temperature can go up tens or even hundreds of degrees C. Saturation of IR has not been reached. If you can show me something that proves me utterly wrong, I'd love to see it, though.
This paper took exactly 8 seconds to find on a Google search with the terms "infrared saturation, CO2".

http://brneurosci.org/co2.html

You are welcome!
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Old 03-12-08, 06:33 AM   #18
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ChipSeal, your an uninformed ignoramus.

Just sayin'.
Duly noted.

Some might think that your refusal to deal with the substance of a contrary view is assent that it is true.

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and it is my understanding that the evidence for AWG is wanting.
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Old 03-12-08, 06:40 AM   #19
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My sarcasm meter isn't very well tuned, but you're being sarcastic right?
Not with the comment you replied to. I was being sarcastic with this comment:

Quote:
It should be obvious to all that we have put this off way too long! We should have started reducing our carbon output 35 years ago! Ahh... excuse me a moment, folks, my sweetheart is interrupting me-

Oh, ...well. Um. She has just reminded me that 35 years ago everyone was in hysterics because the climatologists were convinced we were entering another ice age.
If you missed that then you do need to get your meter checked!
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Old 03-12-08, 06:57 AM   #20
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Wasn't 2007 the coldest year on record? Wiping out any temperature increase?
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Old 03-12-08, 07:16 AM   #21
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Wasn't 2007 the coldest year on record? Wiping out any temperature increase?
Shhhhhhhhh....

The Global Warming crowd knew that was coming, which is why they changed their mantra to Global Climate Change. They figure that way they can keep the minions chanting so they can continue to receive billions of research dollars and continue to appear relevant.
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Old 03-12-08, 07:24 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by bragi View Post
...Anyway, here's the procedure:

1. Place two identical thermometers in two clear plastic bags...
Thanks. I was just wondering if the greenhouse effect was so strong that you could really see it in a simple classroom science demonstration. For lots of people, seeing is believing.

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Pfftt...

Don't waste your time.
Platy is troglodyte.
Just been a little grumpy lately, I guess.
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Old 03-12-08, 08:21 AM   #23
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Wasn't 2007 the coldest year on record? Wiping out any temperature increase?

No. It wasn't the coldest. Not even close.

It was one of the snowier years, but that's to be expected because a warmer atmosphere holds more moisture.

What you idjit deniers seem unable to comprehend, is that weather feedback loops can be positive or negative. For instance, warmer planet = more clouds = more albedo
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Old 03-12-08, 09:13 AM   #24
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I guess I should stop breathing then.
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I don't care if you are on a unicycle, as long as you're not using a motor to get places you get props from me. We're here to support each other. Share ideas, and motivate one another to actually keep doing it.
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Old 03-12-08, 09:21 AM   #25
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Hrmm... I don't know about you, but personally, I'm not willing to quit breathing quite yet.
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