Introducing the global warming speedometer

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Darrell Post's picture

Wasn't it about 15 years ago that Al Gore predicted we would all be toast by now?

Bert Perry's picture

....NASA scientist James Hansen predicted about the same, Darrell.  More important because Hansen didn't, as did Gore, get a D in required science classes in college.  (and OK, less important than Gore because people know Gore's name better)  But you are right.  

Key issue, as far as I can tell, is that you can predict a greenhouse effect very reliably by mapping out the absorption spectra of light with various gases--oxygen, nitrogen, carbon dioxide, methane, etc..--but what's at issue is whether the "system" (our planet) as a whole has positive (unstable) or negative (stable) feedback.  The IPCC consensus opinion is positive; the data seem to point to slightly negative feedback.  More complicated than that, but that is really the entire debate in a nutshell.  Does the sum of effects keep us in the safe zone or not?

An interesting side note is that if the climate tends towards stability, that would be one argument, though not an absolute proof, that our climate was designed for this purpose, along the lines of Fred Hoyle's famous arguments. 



Aspiring to be a stick in the mud.