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This is a question Conspiracy Theories

What's your favourite one that you almost believe? And why? We're popping on our tinfoil hats and very much looking forward to your answers. (Thanks to Shezam for this suggestion.)

(, Thu 1 Dec 2011, 13:47)
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You're all going to hate me for this.
But I think the Idea that Climate change is caused by human activity is bull. I would guess a cursory look at the evidence would reveal that we do not have any. The climate records only go back to 1900. This is not enough time to analyse any long term climate pattern. The polar ice cap has in fact expanded in recent years.
Before anyone says, I know the difference between climate and weather, and I accept that the climate can and does change, naturally.
So, why is it a conspiracy? It has been imposed by statist governments hungry for more taxation and needless military and welfare spending.
It is used to restrict our civil liberties and economic liberty.
As with almost any restriction on human freedom that is described as being for the public good, it ends up benefiting some elite (state or corporate) at the expense of the vast majority. This is why so many businesses or governments refuse to call it out.
Please, dont get me wrong. I SUPPORT almost ALL of the ecological agenda, from restrictions on harmful or "dirty" chemicals ,conservation recycling, all the way to reforesting large parts of Britain, but it just happens that the one I disagree with is the one the elite have chosen to focus on. And my mind is open to be convinced by rational reason, and good solid evidence, which I have not seen yet.
(, Fri 2 Dec 2011, 18:51, 54 replies)

(, Fri 2 Dec 2011, 19:02, closed)
I'm just waiting for the inevitable day in 2013 when it, and the recession,
is used as an excuse to price the bottom 95% of earners out of heat, light and sanitary uncrowded living conditions.
(, Fri 2 Dec 2011, 19:02, closed)
As with almost any restriction on human freedom that is described as being for the public good, it ends up benefiting some elite (state or corporate) at the expense of the vast majority.
2013 seems a bit soon though.
(, Fri 2 Dec 2011, 19:05, closed)
Plenty of time for this bunch of fuckwits to dream it up.

(, Fri 2 Dec 2011, 19:28, closed)
Or the next bunch, lets be honest all the major parties leadership approve of this bollocks and believe in it equally.
It suits them not us.
(, Fri 2 Dec 2011, 19:34, closed)

Actually, would you mind if I joined your Sceptics club?
(, Fri 2 Dec 2011, 19:17, closed)
Not at all. Join the club.

(, Fri 2 Dec 2011, 19:22, closed)
sign me up too

(, Mon 5 Dec 2011, 11:45, closed)
So curbs on production levels, consuption and pollution benefit companies and governments by costing them money?
Wow, nice theory bro.
(, Fri 2 Dec 2011, 19:22, closed)
The government gets money from the extra tax, and the companies benefit from the higher barriers of entry for competition.
Not to mention the corporate welfare.
(, Fri 2 Dec 2011, 19:27, closed)
The companies benefit from the complete collapse of the economy?
(, Fri 2 Dec 2011, 20:07, closed)
Haha yeah, you're sure proving this climate change to be a crackpot conspiracy.

(, Sat 3 Dec 2011, 12:49, closed)

Climate records actually go back thousands of years, using a combination of analysis of sediments in swedish lakes and polar ice cores. The problem is not that the earth is warming, but it is warming at a far faster rate than ever before. It is not natural climate shift.
(, Fri 2 Dec 2011, 19:32, closed)
Hmmn, yes and no
Here's Wikipedia on the Younger Dryas period

"Measurements of oxygen isotopes from the GISP2 ice core suggest the ending of the Younger Dryas took place over just 40 – 50 years in three discrete steps, each lasting five years. Other proxy data, such as dust concentration, and snow accumulation, suggest an even more rapid transition, requiring about a 7 °C (12.60 °F) warming in just a few years.[6][7][19][20] Total warming was 10 ± 4 °C (18 ± 7 °F)"

This was thousands of years ago, they don't know why it happened, and it was more rapid and of much greater magnitude than anything we've witnessed thus far.

So no, it's not a far faster rate of change than ever before though it is fast. And because such rapid shifts do occur means that it's not 100% certain that we're to blame for this one, though the evidence points that way.
(, Fri 2 Dec 2011, 19:54, closed)
I think it's probably best to be on the safe side, considering the circumstances.
"Oh well it might not be us, so let's just assume it isn't and carry on burning shit up."
(, Fri 2 Dec 2011, 20:17, closed)
Well, we should have been looking at alternative energy sources
for a long time, simply because of damaging pollution from fossils, let alone any warming that may be being caused by emissions, so in that sense I agree.

The thing that makes me pause about the climate change issue is the evangelical zeal that surrounds it. I have an inherent mistrust of ideology that becomes entrenched and starts to morph into quasi-religious fervour and climate change proponents are the worst advertisement in favour of their position going.
(, Fri 2 Dec 2011, 20:24, closed)
That IS EXACTLY my point.
I am open to convincing, just not by these patronizing Toynbeeites and New age mofo's.
(, Fri 2 Dec 2011, 20:25, closed)
If you really want to be convinced, just google it,
there are plenty of resources available online.
See for instance: climate.nasa.gov/evidence/

The New Age folks annoy me too, they always have to make it about Mother Earth and how our Pagan ancestors used to love the forests and tree spirits and shit, and they're frightened of nuclear power because they don't understand it. But there you go.
(, Fri 2 Dec 2011, 20:36, closed)
Even NASA opens its account with an erroneous argument about CO2 concentration and temperature.

The temperature of the Ordovician Period was an Ice Age. What was atmospheric CO2 concentration? 4400 parts per million or 12 times what we have today. If there is a direct correlation between CO2 concentration and mean temperature, which as I understand it is the central plank of the case for anthropogenic global warming, then it's blown clean out of the water by an analysis that goes back further than the 650,000-800,000 years worth of ice core samples which are most commonly referenced.

And the Ordovician period isn't even the highest CO2 concentration we've come across.

When it talks about the global temperature reconstructions done by computer and mentions predicts based on them, they forget to mention the fact that the margin of error on all of their reconstructions is actually far larger than the rises they are predicting and that if you extrapolate further than they're willing to, beyond 50 years or so, they graphs become absurd.

Climate study is a young science, with more holes in it than in more established branches of science. The stakes are very high and the proponents of both sides are ridiculously shrill and not above bullshitting to make their case.

And when supposedly august organisations like the IPCC actually engage in bullshitting to get across a point that is so serious you wonder why they have to resort to it, if the science is as complete as they claim it is.
(, Fri 2 Dec 2011, 20:55, closed)
Now I never got the impression they said that temperature is only a function of CO2 levels and nothing else,
but you seem like someone who knows a thing or two.

Let me throw a crazy idea at you just now. A few years ago I calculated that the amount of energy used by mankind every year is enough to raise the temperature of the Earth's entire atmosphere by 0.1 degrees by direct heating. Obviously some of that will be radiated into space but still, it is some indication of just how much impact we could potentially have on the world.

This was calculated from annual world energy production, the volume of the Earth's atmosphere and the specific heat capacity of air.

If there is any validity to my reasoning here, even Nuclear Fusion isn't going to save us.
(, Fri 2 Dec 2011, 21:02, closed)
Oh I think that it's well established that CO2 isn't the only greenhouse gas
but it is the bogeyman the climate change activists have chosen to be the poster-child of their campaign. Despite both methane and water being far larger contributors to the greenhouse effect. However, nobody is entirely sure of the mechanisms behind methane and water (as I mentioned with the 10 degree change that happened in 50 years, probably involving the water cycle but they don't know what) so they tend to leave those to one side and go "oh look CO2, we understand that, let's focus on this" despite, as I've mentioned, even a tiny amount of change in the natural water cycle rendering moot one entire century's output of industrial CO2.

Now I'm not saying we can't have an impact on the world, clearly we can. But I myself wouldn't like to say just how much of the warming we're seeing is down to industrial CO2 and how much is a by product of deforestation of the planet or increasing the earth's natural albedo by paving it in concrete but climate change proponents ARE sure, they're evangelically sure and I'm afraid I don't yet share their confidence. I would like that level of certainty, to be sure, but by the shrillness of their arguments thus far and the actions of even those you would think we could trust to be fair and unbiased I can't shake off the suspicion that somewhere corners are being cut.
(, Fri 2 Dec 2011, 21:15, closed)
I was just wondering what you thought of the idea
that we might cause global warming just by using a lot of energy, even without emissions, if our usage habits continue to grow exponentially at the current rate.

As someone who tinkers with PC cooling solutions, I know from first-hand experience that the more power you put through any given system, the hotter it gets. But I never heard anyone mention this as a particular cause for concern.
(, Fri 2 Dec 2011, 21:21, closed)
Well, you're in good company
Because Steven Hawking himself calculated the amount of warming caused by consumption of energy by electrical gizmos and concluded that there will (or should) be detectable warming just from that alone. Though I'm not sure he's willing to part with his wheelchair and computer just yet....

But I don't know if it was to civilisation-destroying levels as you're suggesting. I suppose the thing to do would be to look at other energy-generating phenomena for comparison, such as not necessarily eruption laval spills and the like. If anything such as that has contributed more energy to the atmosphere without a massively deleterious effect on life on earth then it's probably not going to be a cause for concern.
(, Fri 2 Dec 2011, 21:30, closed)
I'm willing to donate all of my carbon credits to Hawking anyway.

The obvious difference between human energy consumption and a volcanic eruption is that an eruption is a calamitous event whereas human consumption is continuous. Another difference is that humans are actually generating power, whereas lava was already hot from the creation of the Earth. But it's worth looking at.
(, Fri 2 Dec 2011, 21:35, closed)
I mentioned not eruption level spills
I'm thinking of more miniature flood basalt type affairs where there's been continuous outpouring of lava, and therefore heat, over a long period of time.
(, Fri 2 Dec 2011, 21:42, closed)
If it's been continuous for millions of years it won't be a worry,
it might make the Earth warmer than it would otherwise have been but it would be in thermal equilibrium by now.
(, Fri 2 Dec 2011, 21:47, closed)
The trick would be to find a geological event like that
that wasn't a full-on flood basalt, because they tend to induce mass extinctions due to pollution and blocking out the sun, that sort of thing.

We'd need to look at the geological record for such an event that had life existing throughout it to measure it's effect on climate and possible extinction rates.

I'm afraid I'm going to have to break off from this discussion now as it's nearly ten and I still haven't had dinner this evening. But feel free to reply and I'll get back to it when I can.
(, Fri 2 Dec 2011, 21:54, closed)
Okay where'd he go?
The guy I was just composing a reply to, to the effect that methane is 20 times more effective a greenhouse gas than CO2 and has more than doubled in concentration in the atmosphere over the last 200 or so years?
(, Fri 2 Dec 2011, 21:38, closed)
back button, back button, copy paste!
it's worth sharing anyway... NOx is also pretty nasty, too.

I've got the figures now for volcanoes. Human annual world energy production is about 5 x 10^11 gigajoules (at 15.8 Terawatts x 24 hours x 365.25 days = 138502.8 TWh).

A volcano is about 24 megatons which is 10^8 gigajoules

So human energy use is about 5000 volcanoes a year...

(, Fri 2 Dec 2011, 21:45, closed)
Yes but a lot of that energy that we're generating
we're using. It is dissippated mechanically in a multitude of ways. Unless the figure you have there is specifically for energy we are pumping into the atmosphere after we've used the bulk of it for something else.
(, Fri 2 Dec 2011, 21:49, closed)
First Law of Thermodynamics, mate,
heat is work and work is heat. It doesn't get "used up".
(, Fri 2 Dec 2011, 21:51, closed)
As I understand it when, say, the internal combustion engine
burns fuel for energy and uses this to produce motion, there's energy that's converted to work and energy that just is wasted for want of a better word. Of the energy that produces work, this is dissipated in other ways. Again, as I understand it, not all of that energy will make it into the atmosphere. If it did, would this not mean that we had stumbled upon "free" energy?

I'm not entirely sure what point you were trying to make or whether this is the appropriate rebuttal.
(, Fri 2 Dec 2011, 22:00, closed)
all mechanical energy will eventually be converted to heat by friction.
energy can neither be created nor destroyed, but can change form. Eventually all power used is dissipated into the surroundings in the form of heat, unless it drives an endothermic chemical reaction and gets turned back into chemical energy again.

If your PC draws 200W of power from the mains, for instance, it will be putting out 200W of heat as well.

But if that surprises you, this will surprise you even more.
(, Fri 2 Dec 2011, 22:06, closed)
you're right and wrong...
All energy dies eventually go to heat (vibration of molecules), but your assumption that the temperature of the earth will increase has a key flaw, that the earth is a closed system. In reality, most of the extra energy that we produce will also be lost to space as radiation. There will be a change in the equilibrium point, but it will be small.
Think of it like a fridge, our energy use is like putting a bulb in the fridge, greenhouse gas build up would be like opening the door (not a great analogy, but hopefully the intent is clear?
apologies for erroneous worda, this is done on my phone
(, Tue 6 Dec 2011, 18:34, closed)
You can't ask a climate change evangelist "are you sure?"
Because they are sure, they're convinced, they've seen the light and they want to convert you, poor damned sceptic that you are. So you can't really ask the lay people who are proponents of it, you have to go the experts.

And there, well, they don't really help themselves either. An oversight committee recently criticised the experts for exaggerating the likely effects of climate change, using only the worst-case scenarios and scaremongering.

There was a debate between two scientists I saw on YouTube last year, where the pro-guy had his laptop and was clicking through graph after graph and making his claims and he leaned back satisfied with himself only to be stumped when the other guy said "I see a lot of very nice graphs about greenhouse gases, I see none there about water vapour, which is by far the largest contributor to the overall greenhouse effect by volume such that a 0.001% change in water vapour concentration would utterly swamp all the contributions to climate by all the other gases".

To which the reply came

"We haven't looked at water in this analysis".

And it's that kind of thing that makes me hold back full commital to the apparent consensus.
(, Fri 2 Dec 2011, 20:37, closed)
Generally I try not to be overskeptical,
if I don't understand the science involved in a particular issue then I've got no good grounds to refute it. At risk of "appeal to authority" I'll defer to those who do understand it. It's the lay people who don't understand it but nevertheless try to pick holes in the evidence that wind me up the most, especially when it's quite obvious what their motives are. My dad is one of these people, he'll parrot the criticisms he's read online somewhere, but it's obvious generally that his main concern is his "way of life" which he perceives to be under threat. Which of course it is!
(, Fri 2 Dec 2011, 20:51, closed)
yeah a cursory look at anything makes it not look like much,
good work, Captain Skeptic. You sure showed the entire scientific consensus.

What I find particularly interesting in the graphs is the peak that corresponds to WWII, but nobody seems to mention that...
(, Fri 2 Dec 2011, 19:36, closed)
I don't think there is a Scientific Concencus on the particular cause.
I'd like to see some date.
And even so, we haven't yet perfected climate science, and scientific Concencus has been innacurate about much more important things.
(, Fri 2 Dec 2011, 19:40, closed)
the particular cause is greenhouse gas emissions, notobly carbon dioxide.
I don't believe there is any disagreement about that whatsoever. It was predicted well in advance and one only has to look at the planet Venus for an extreme example.

Oh that old line, "science has sometimes been wrong, so it's probably wrong this time, too." Science only goes by the best evidence available at the time. Show us YOUR data and YOUR analysis if you want to go against the consensus. All you've come out with are the same old things that make environmental scientists do face palms. It wouldn't take much research on your part if you were bothered. I think, perhaps, you drive a flashy car or something.

Much more important things? I can't think of anything much more important than the future of life on Earth.
(, Fri 2 Dec 2011, 20:06, closed)
You pathetic shit
I bet you didn't do very well in your A Levels, if you got any at all.
Or maybe you smoke so much ganja that critical reasoning is something you left behind in another life.
I can imagine maybe you stack shelves for a living, or possibly just spend your time playing on your XBox.
Really, I wouldn't bother your shrunken brain with serious scientific debate. Crawl back to the pub by yourself you rancid waste of carbon.
(, Fri 2 Dec 2011, 19:41, closed)
I can tell you're a fully paid up member of the leftie thought police already.
Just looking at your second comment.
(, Fri 2 Dec 2011, 19:46, closed)
That ganja's making you paranoid
Seriously, give it up. Then you might actually do something with your sorry life.
(, Fri 2 Dec 2011, 20:01, closed)

fun at parties?
(, Fri 2 Dec 2011, 19:51, closed)
If it's parties frequented by
ganja smokers, XBox addicts and shelf stackers then I'm sure loads of 'fun' is had by all the wastrels
(, Fri 2 Dec 2011, 20:14, closed)
You must have a high up job I bet, like fixing computers or something like that

(, Fri 2 Dec 2011, 20:27, closed)
Dullest comedy account ever.

(, Sat 3 Dec 2011, 13:06, closed)
Yeah probably. Fuck computers.

(, Fri 2 Dec 2011, 22:19, closed)
I believe that both sides are right.

Solar activity must be a major factor but human activity could only have made it worse. Can't we all just get along?
(, Fri 2 Dec 2011, 22:53, closed)
There are all sorts of people...
...that object to climate change theory, ranging from complete denial (it isn’t happening, it couldn’t happen, it’s all a conspiracy…) to general scepticism (I’ve not not seen any convincing evidence, and what about x what about y…). You seem to be a reasonable enough fella, so I’m assuming that you would respond to evidence. My personal interest in climate change is as someone who is researching (PhD student) the effect of climate change on the living world – on forest ecosystems. I make no claims to being a climate scientist, but I have more than a passing interest. Firstly – the effect on the living world is large, well-documented and completely consistent with what the climate scientists are saying. I’d happily point you to some reading on this topic, but I think you’re probably more interested in the climate science part. Secondly, there is a constant stream of scientific investigation into climate, and almost all of it fits easily into the story of human-induced climate change that you disbelieve. There are parts that are poorly understood – but mostly this relates to questions such as how much and for how long (i.e. feebacks from water vapour, release of carbon stored in the tundra etc.) rather than the fundamental question of whether it is happening or not. You’ll probably find that questions that you have have already been answered. A good place to start looking is the website www.skepticalscience.com, they take the common sceptic talking points (many of which I’ve seen on this board already, for example the high CO2 in the Ordovician period) and present the actual evidence surrounding the topic. You’ve probably heard bad things about the IPCC on sceptic websites, but their publications remain the best synthesis of all of the evidence. That’s their purpose, they don’t do any research themselves, they exist to collate all of the evidence from scientists around the world on the topic of climate change. They even include the evidence that casts doubt on the consensus, there just isn’t very much of it. As well as technical reports, they also publish summaries that are readable by a lay audience. If you are seriously sceptical (i.e. have a questioning mind and are prepared to evaluate the evidence for yourself rather than simply echoing the latest contrarian talking points) then you should read these sources.
(, Sat 3 Dec 2011, 13:04, closed)
I like this,
and I'd like to hear what you think about what I said up there ^^ about 5000 volcanoes.
(, Sat 3 Dec 2011, 14:03, closed)
I don't know about your...
...numbers, but sure we go through a load of energy. There is a element of that in raising the ambient temperature in urban areas - the urban heat island effect. Although I think that the urban heat island effect is mostly due to altering the environment (buildings, roads etc) rather than as a result of generating extra heat. Truthfully, it's not something that I know a lot about.
(, Sat 3 Dec 2011, 16:44, closed)
"Urban heat island" was a useful lead, thanks.
Check this out:
(, Sat 3 Dec 2011, 16:59, closed)
Have you read it?
Or just read the abstract? If you read the whole paper, what did you find particularly convincing about it? If you didn't read it, then you need to be aware that just reading the abstract (1 paragraph summary) doesnt give you the context, the caveats, the confidence. It's really impossible to evaluate a piece of work by that alone. I could add it to my to read pile, but it would be at the bottom of a foot high pile of scientific papers. One thing I can tell at at glance though is that only 9 people have cited it in the 7 years since it was published, meaning that not many of their peers were interested in the work. And I know that modelling anthropogenic heat release in urban environments is really tricky, it's hard to have any real confidence in the results. In short, I'd be cautious about reading too much into this.
(, Sat 3 Dec 2011, 18:26, closed)
I'd read it but you need a login to access it,
I'm often frustrated by this kind of thing.

I just thought it was interesting, I'm not going to be interviewed on the news or anything. Elsewhere I've discovered that direct heating from human energy use accounts for about 1% of global warming. So it's accepted that the effect is there, albeit "only 1%" as they put it, but how long before our energy use increases by a hundred-fold?
(, Sat 3 Dec 2011, 19:22, closed)

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