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Is global warming so bad?

Trying to distract myself from the polar vortex and wondering what a bipolar vortex must be like, I found myself listening to what Newt Gingrich has to say about climate change.  He suggests that fretting about global warming is a form of hubris and insists that “life was fine” in those hazy, lazy days of the Jurassic age.  It must be cerebral frostbite, but I find the opinion appealing.



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Bruce, no one is claiming a "complete" understanding with "nothing remaining to be discovered". Every statement they make has an attached probability. When they say that something is "likely", "very likely" or "extremely likely", it has a precise meaning: at least 66%, 90%, and 95% probability, respectively. If you compare the IPCC report from 2007 with the most recent one, for some events the only difference is that something that was considered "likely" in 2007 is now termed "very likely" - a lot of research happens to get to insert that single additional word, "very". 

Scientists are aware of the possible mitigating effects of plants. It would be naive on their part to ignore it. Do you think that they're stupid? Do you think they willfully discount factors that might be important? In the apostolic exhortation of pope Francis, he insists that ideas (models, theories) are dynamically worked out, continually refined in contact with reality. Climate scientists are doing precisely that. 

Realities are more important than ideas

231. There also exists a constant tension between ideas and realities. Realities simply are, whereas ideas are worked out. There has to be continuous dialogue between the two, lest ideas become detached from realities. [...]  

232 [...] What calls us to action are realities illuminated by reason. Formal nominalism has to give way to harmonious objectivity. Otherwise, the truth is manipulated

Of course some changes are beneficial for some regions in some ways. For example, the UK is producing more and more wine, and I am told that its wine is becoming of better quality...


The earth has, in the past, suffered extremes of climate, from becoming a snowball twice to an overheated state that led to the Permian extinction of 95% of species. These are examples of how the system be thrown out of balance. Especially relevant is the first event when a new life form, the cyanobacteria, invented photosynthesis. The oxygen produced oxidized the methane into water and carbon dioxide. The weaker greenhouse effect cooled the earth which formed ice pole to pole 2.6B years ago. It is surmised that it was volcanic CO2 that eventually melted the earth. Now we have an extremely novel life form, us, who can hack the universe. This is causing a buildup in CO2. We need to do what we do better, and move from short term thinking to thousand year thinking.
Fuzzy, wishful thinking will not help, just as it doesn't prevent space shuttle disasters. Plants and the oceans have been absorbing lots of CO2 and the levels continue to rise. What happens if these processes saturate and slow down their absorption?

Bruce --

Why do you believe your doctors (whom I assume are not Nobel prize winners) when they diagnose what is wrong with you, but you don't believe the world-class physicists, chemists, climatologists, etc., who agree that climate change is real and threatens the human species?  Do you think that medical science is surer than the basic sciences which form the basis of earth science?  If you do, pray tell us why that is your belief.