This Venus Greenhouse Digest contains:
* A second set of replies to my Venus Trap letter
* Plus some posts dealing with allied points.
Again, I thank everyone, including those of you who still do not
believe mankind is causing the current rise in temperatures. I have
abridged some of the letters.
Regards, Donald Davison
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Date: Tue, 25 Apr 2000 19:18:10 -0400
From: "Stephan A. Schwartz" <email@example.com>
Subject: NEWS REPORT: Rapid Climate Change
David Stoney alerted me to this paper in the July August 1999 American
Scientist. This is one of the most significant research reports on
climatological change which, should it continue to be supported by the
evidence, could swamp out all other concerns. Take the time to read this.
And think about it. -- Stephan
AMERICAN SCIENTIST July-August, Volume 87, No. 4
Rapid Climate Change, by Kendrick Taylor, firstname.lastname@example.org.
New evidence shows that earth's climate can change dramatically in only a
decade. Could greenhouse gases flip that switch?
Much to the surprise of investigators, evidence is mounting that major
changes in the earth's climate can take place in a very short time. Data
from ice cores and ocean sediments suggest, for example, that 11,650 years
ago the climate in Greenland switched from ice-age conditions to the current
relatively warm conditions (a warming of 5 to 10 degrees Celsius on average)
in only 40 years. (emphasis added, SAS) The author describes the oceanic
currents that influence climate and establish its stability, as well as
"triggers" that may perturb changes -- including the possibility that
"greenhouse" warming could invoke a rapid switch.
Rapid Climate Change
Although the past half-million years constitutes the current-events period
in geologic time, on a human time scale the events I just described are in
the distant past. Because their time scales are so long, I used to believe
that changes in climate happened slowly and would never affect me.
My attitude changed profoundly while I was working on a project funded by
the National Science Foundation to develop a climate record for the past
110,000 years. By examining ice cores from Greenland, my colleagues and I
determined that climate changes large enough to have extensive impacts on
our society have occurred in less than 10 years. Now I know that our climate
could change significantly in my lifetime.
Tampering with Our Stable Mode? Human beings have made major modifications
to the earth's environment in little more than a century, increasing the
concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to its highest level in
If we take no action until we are completely confident the models are
correct, then the only use for the models will be to explain what happened.
Our insistence on a tested model is part of the reason society is
continuing to conduct the largest experiment ever done, the experiment of
increasing the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases.
It will be another 20 years before the climate changes that are predicted to
be associated with the greenhouse effect become large enough to be
unambiguously differentiated from naturally occurring variations in
climate. As a society we have the choice of ignoring the warning signs that
our studies have uncovered or taking some action.
I am not alone among scientists in anticipating that 20 years from now our
society may have to choose between disruptions associated with our current
approach to energy use and disruptions associated with adopting an approach
to energy use that produces fewer greenhouse gases.
Procrastination will prevent making an informed decision and will increase
the social and economic costs.
Note: Donald here, Most of Taylor's paper deals with the use of ice and
sediment cores to tell what happened and when it happened. The full text
can be seen at:
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Date: Sat, 29 Apr 2000 07:14:11 -0700
From: William Evans <williamevans@HOME.COM>
Subject: OT - venus effect and mean sea level
Don said "You can't say that sea levels won't rise"
[or words to that effect]
the following courtesy of
Volume 38 Number 24, 19 December 1997
"Study challenges theory on Greenhouse sea level"
Dr Robert Haworth
A Department of Geography and Planning study has uncovered extensive
marine fossil deposits along Sydney's southern sea cliffs providing
evidence that sea levels around the city were at least two metres
higher 4000-6000 years ago than they are today.
The study, conducted by geographers Dr Robert Haworth and Dr Robert Baker,
challenges the belief held by many scientists that the earth's oceans are
now at their highest levels in at least 6000 years. The findings also have
important implications for the enhanced Greenhouse debate by suggesting
that natural climatic and sea level variations have been largely overlooked
in the debate's modelling assumptions.
The study was published recently by Marine Geology, the leading inter-
national journal of marine tectonic science.
During an investigation of sandstone cliff faces in southern Sydney,
Dr Haworth and Dr Baker discovered that massive rockfalls had covered
and preserved 4000-year-old fossils and Aboriginal engravings in a
geological "time capsule".
The geographers found extensive fossil shellcrust of common intertidal
organisms under the fallen rock, consistently preserved two metres
higher than the present range of these marine species. The fossils
were then dated using Carbon-14 dating methods. According to Dr Baker,
the heights and dates of the fossils were consistent with fossil
deposits found in 1989 in a sea cave at Valla, on the North Coast
of NSW, by UNE geologist Associate Professor Peter Flood.
"It is extremely unlikely that there would have been the same amount
of uplift in two parts of the coast so far apart in what is considered
one of the most tectonically stable coastlines in the world," said
Dr Baker. "These findings offer solid evidence that the sea level was
substantially higher a few thousand years ago along the NSW coastline
and that it dropped sharply over a short period of time."
He said that further studies of the fossil shellfish sequence were
still required to develop one of the first fine detail graphs of sea
level fluctuations in the immediate past.
"It appears that there has been much more movement in sea levels
and possible associated climate change than we had previously
believed," said Dr Baker.
He added that the higher sea levels meant that many low-lying areas
of Sydney would have been submerged as recently as 4000 years ago.
"Botany Bay was probably lapping around the edges of the Sydney Cricket
Ground and Centennial Park," said Dr Baker.
"Areas such as Bankstown, on the Georges River, and Homebush, on the
Parramatta River, would have been large, shallow inland bays. In
other words, until a few thousand years ago, the Olympic site would
have been underwater!"
The geographers said the study's findings cast new light on the Global
Warming debate, adding that any discussion on global warming should be
put into the context of natural climatic fluctuations. "The point that
there have probably been continuous short-term changes in the sea level
has largely been ignored within discussions on global warming,"
said Dr Robert Haworth. "How can we be certain that present trends are
natural or human-induced when the background has been perpetually
Donald: Added Note; During World War Two, the American forces constructed
an airfield on an island in the South Pacific. We can be quite sure that
they did not construct the airfield at sea level, but now that airfield has
standing water on it because currently that airfield is at sea level. The
same is also true for a cemetery.
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Date: Sat, 29 Apr 2000 12:07:30 -0700
From: Bart Ingles <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: Replies to the Venus Fly Trap letter
I don't believe the evidence is solid enough either way to support
willy-nilly drastic action for the sole purpose of combating global
warming, but there is always good reason to support conservation of
non-renewable resources. The initial actions in either case should be
the same: start with the most cost-effective means of reducing carbon
The question is what actions are cost-effective?
Donald: Dear Bart, I suppose world bodies could and would negotiate what
actions are cost-effective, but they will soon find out that they cannot
negotiate with the laws of thermodynamics, it will be like negotiating with
the devil. It will be the laws of thermodynamics that will dictate to us
what we need to do in order to get the stability we wish.
Right now we know that one of the conditions will be for us to reduce
CO2, and right now we know some of the things that can be done quickly, and
right now is the time to start doing some of those things, because we know
that there will be a big lag time before we see any results.
For openers there are many means of burning carbon that are
unneccessary and can be stopped without any debate. I'm talking about
bonfires, smoking, campfires, burning to clear land, races using carbon
burning, burning of trash, snowmobile recreation, crematoriums, fireworks,
and whatever means others can add to this list.
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Date: Sat, 29 Apr 2000 18:57:19 -0500
From: "Stan@Czerno.com" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: RE: Replies to the Venus Fly Trap Letter
I still say write the script and find a film maker to make it. I am no
rocket scientist but I can see the effects CO2 is having on our planet. I
was also excited about Honda promoting the Electric/Gas car they have added
to their line, just hope the next version is better looking so people will
start buying them.
Now that OPEC has reduced production I think now is the time for our leaders
to back the alternative fuels path for my children and theirs. Time to stop
thinking about their political careers and stand up for this nation and this
planet. Without it, little Elian won't have a home ANYWHERE!
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Date: Sat, 29 Apr 2000 16:35:41 -0700
From: Edna M Weigel <email@example.com>
Subject: re: "Venus" effect
This thread reminds me of an extra credit question on the exam for the
master gardener class I took. You might guess, I'm not very impressed
with the quality of instruction.
The question was to explain how global warming would affect agriculture.
The acceptable answer was that global warming will be beneficial because
plants like carbon dioxide. The take home message seemed to be to go out
and burn more fossil fuels.
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Date: Sat, 29 Apr 2000 21:31:34 -0400
From: "Kevin B. O'Brien" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: OT- THe Kyoto Protocol,
the UN ,and Al Gore( Washington Times Article)
On Sat, 29 Apr 2000 12:06:23 -0700, William Evans
<williamevans@HOME.COM> , late of Pablo Fanques Fair wrote:
In certain controversies of this sort, there is an attempt to
present the issue as having two sides, each of which is equally
valid. That is not a bad approach for certain questions, but in
science it is ridiculous. Scientific questions are not settled by
majority votes, or by "crossfire"-styled debates.
In this particular question, that vast majority of qualified
scientists have no doubt at all that global warming is a fact. They
have some disagreements on the particulars of the climatic modeling
that might explain the details of this process, and opponents love
to seize upon these disagreements as proof that "Whether or not
there is global warming has not been settled. The scientists are
still arguing." In fact, the major disagreements among climate
scientists have to do with how rapidly this process is occurring and
whether we have passed the point of no return that takes us to the
Venus solution, which is a planet completely incapable of supporting
One should also be a little more careful about arguments that
temperatures may have varies in the past. The big problem is not
that temperatures are rising, but that they are rising *rapidly*, in
a way that is strongly correlated with carbon-emissions due to
industrialization. After all, many people have lost 30 pounds, so
that is not a cause for concern. But when someone loses 30 pounds in
a week, that *is* a cause for concern.
-- Kevin B. O'Brien TANSTAAFL email@example.com "Don't let it end like this. Tell them I said something." -- Last words of Pancho Villa --
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Date: Sat, 29 Apr 2000 18:36:10 -0700 From: "Butler Crittenden, Ph.D." <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Global warming
A lot of research has shown that for many millions of years the planet has experienced these CO2 build-ups, resulting in global warming, and precipitating the next ICE AGE. Nature, like clockwork, has produced an ice age every 100,000 years or so, with 10-12,000 year interglacial periods. It's been about 12,000 years since the last ice age ended.
Of course these events don't start and stop on a figurative dime. And during the 90,000 to 100,000 years of an ice age there are periods of greater warmth than others, notably at the beginning. But on balance it gets colder, especially at the north and south poles, and a lot of precipitation gets dumped there, resulting in glaciers encroaching from the north and the ice cap at the south building up.
The cause of the CO2 build-up in the past has, as far as we know, not been human activity, but instead the death of the forests and their being set ablaze by lightning. There was no Smokey The Bear campaign worldwide to stop the mineral-depleted deciduous and non-deciduous (temperate) forests from dying and burning, so they did. There was global warming, following by massive water evaporation in the hottest zones (especially along the equator, primarily in the oceans and tropics), with resulting "crazy" weather and eventual global cooling and the beginning of an ice age that we would more easily identify as such. The research I've read and heard about has determined this by lake-bed core samples in Sweden and ice-core samples in various places including Greenland, if I recall correctly. (Also, I gather that this whole thesis is much better understood and accepted in Europe, which I notice has better public transportation and a longer history of coping with environmental problems.)
So while it's factually correct that we are dumping far too much carbon into the atmosphere, an even more serious mistake is that we are destroying the forests that produce the oxygen and soak up the CO2. We are also fertilizing with chemicals rather than naturally -- how the glaciers do it, namely the fine rock dust that they produce over thousands of years as they grind their way south.
The irony is that for once we could stop an ice age. To do so would entail what you're proposing as well as dramatic reforestation, rock-dust fertilization of the forests and agricultural lands, and dozens of other environmental steps to preserve, protect, and restore what we've got.
Why are we not recognizing this larger problem and solution? To do so would gore the oxen of the oil cartels, who furnish both the fertilizer and the fuel for our motor vehicles and many power plants. It would also cause massive change of behavior in the "South" ("Third World"), but less by the native peoples of those countries than by multinational business interests. The hydrocarbon barons don't mind the focus on themselves, as they've learned to promise higher prices and serious economic dislocation if anyone takes the environmental case too far. They like to keep our attention, so that we won't think about the larger picture, about the crazy weather, global cooling, and the global revolution that will be required to rout them. In short, worldwide we're in the grip of a small band of global fascists, and they know very well how to protect themselves.
Most people don't know there's a connection between deforestation and global warming -- so intense has been the focus on hydrocarbons as fuel. Even fewer know that ice ages have been happening like clockwork for millions of years, without human causation. Fewer yet envision a political strategy to stop the selfish few from rolling over the ignorant and apathetic many.
Take care, and keep up the good fight.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Date: Sat, 29 Apr 00 10:39:26 -0500 From: <email@example.com> Subject: Re: "Venus" effect"
In the March 25, 2000 issue of Science News (<www.sciencenews.org>), there is a really important article about new research has just shown that plants growing with increased air CO2 levels (as possible in the future with the greenhouse gas effect) do indeed grow faster and produce more carbohydrates (this has been well documented in other research too), but the protein levels are lower. Insects feeding on these plants eat excessively but grow poorly. Sheep eating such plants eat less, grow poorly, and digest their food more slowly, probably because the essential bacteria in the ruminant gut themselves are protein deficient and malnourished. This is important research that needs to be followed for several critical reasons. First, of course, is because our earth's atmosphere is changing and we need to anticipate how this may effect vegetation and the organisms that feed on the vegetation. Mary-Howell and Klaas Martens
Donald: And that includes us and our animals, we are included in the organisms that feed on the vegetation.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Date: Mon, 1 May 00 09:13:57 -0500 From: <firstname.lastname@example.org> Subject: Re: the Venus Fly Trap Effect
Donald - if you do write your story about the greenhouse effect, don't neglect or diminish the various effect of rising CO2 levels on plants. There is a lot of research over the last 20 years on this, and some greenhouses are deliberately increasing the ambient CO2 level in the air inside the greenhouse to make the plants grow faster (there's a big hydroponic greenhouse operation near Buffalo, NY doing this). However, please see my post [above] about this, and also get hold of a copy of the March 25, 2000 issue of Science News and read the article, "Grazing in the Greenhouse." It is a very important article for many reasons, not the least of which is the potential effect of increased CO2 on nutritional content in plants and therefore in food and animal feed. There are many threads that could be linked to this main topic. It makes the role of increased atmospheric CO2 a much more complex topic to consider. Even if we do manage to control the effects of rising temperature technologically or if the temperature rises more slowly than you predict, we may not be able to adequately nourish ourselves and our agricultural animals because of the rising CO2. Good Luck. Mary-Howell Martens
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