alexandra_thorn: 2009, taken by Underwatercolor (Default)
[personal profile] alexandra_thorn
David Friedman poses some questions about sulfate emissions reducing short term climate change here:
http://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=19727420&postID=1877405316402228609&page=1&token=1310396376822

Here is my response:
As far as I know, there is no meaningful controversy in the scientific community [about carbon emissions and temperature change]. There are indeed lots of factors that contribute to changes in climate, and no one is denying that. And there's nothing deeply scientifically mysterious about short term cooling, either.

There's a close examination of how the short term data match up to IPCC projections here:
http://www.fool-me-once.com/2010/09/temperatures-are-below-projections.html

But I'm not sure that a close examination is really what we need here. If global temperature increases were the only issue that mattered for the future health of civilization, we could solve the problem pretty quickly by launching a significant fraction of the world's nuclear arsenal. Obviously this would be an unhealthy solution, but if degrees C were all we cared about, that would solve the problem quickly.

No one who is worried about environmental quality for human beings is going to argue that “burn more coal” is a good solution to global warming.

Descriptions of nineteenth century industrial cities make it clear that the particulate matter we'd be counting on to cool the earth is also not good for respiratory health.

Burning coal would still release CO2, which has the direct impact of acidifying the oceans, a process which is killing the coral reefs and doesn't look like it's going to be good for global fisheries either (http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=ocean-acidification-threatens-global-fisheries).

And we still haven't devised a method for extracting coal from the Earth that is healthy for both the workers (who are negatively affected by shaft mining) and for the people living downstream of the mines (who have to deal with a great deal of mineral contamination from surface mining).

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alexandra_thorn: 2009, taken by Underwatercolor (Default)
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