Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Correlation and Causation and Global Warming

I listened to the Great Global warming Swindle movie today and was intrigued by one point especially. The narrator noted that there was agreement with Al Gore concerning a correlation between CO2 and global warming. Where there is increased CO2, there has been increased global temperatures. Where they part ways with Gore et al is that they don't confuse correlation with causation. Rather, they have concluded that, if anything, global warming causes an increase in CO2 rather than the other way around. They offered evidence to that effect, suggesting that the global warming comes first, followed hundreds of years later by increases in CO2. I am no scientist so I will not weigh in on the accuracy of that claim, but it is an intriguing point. It is a common mistake to confuse correlation with causation. Perhaps Al Gore has done so.


Michael Gibson said...

If you are referring to the chart that shows an 800 year lag in C02 vs. temp, with C02 coming after temperature rise, then I have a bit of information for you. After taking a close look at the chart, I saw that the time frame shown on the chart is relatively small. Along the x-axis of the chart it shows Years from Present. The range of these years only goes from 240,000-237,500. This claim might have been more convincing if they had given a chart with a larger time frame.

Anonymous said...

Unequivocally, scientists worldwide accept the global warming facts. It is only the ideologues that have the ideological need to deny the facts that stand opposed to the science - much like how they stand agaist the round earth and the earth as a planet in a solar system.

Anonymous said...

"...In short, we must face problems which do not lend themselves to easy or quick or permanent solutions. And we must face the fact that the United States is neither omnipotent nor omniscient–that we are only six percent of the world's population–that we cannot impose our will upon the other ninety-four percent of mankind–that we cannot right every wrong or reverse each adversity–and that therefore there cannot he an American solution to every world problem..."
---John Kennedy

Anonymous said...

Energy Facts

Energy Consumption

*Though accounting for only 5 percent of the world's population, Americans consume 26 percent of the world's energy. (American Almanac)

*In 1997, U.S. residents consumed an average of 12,133 kilowatt-hours of electricity each, almost nine times greater than the average for the rest of the world. (Grist Magazine)

*Worldwide, some 2 billion people are currently without electricity. (U.S. Department of Energy)

*Total U.S. residential energy consumption is projected to increase 17 percent from 1995 - 2015. (U.S. Energy Information Administration)

*World energy consumption is expected to increase 40% to 50% by the year 2010, and the global mix of fuels--renewables (18%), nuclear (4%), and fossil (78%)--is projected to remain substantially the same as today; thus global carbon dioxide emissions would also increase 50% to 60%.

*Among industrialized and developing countries, Canada consumes per capita the most energy in the world, the United Sates ranks second, and Italy consumes the least among industrialized countries.

*Developing countries use 30% of global energy. Rapid population growth, combined with economic growth, will rapidly increase that percentage in the next 10 years.

*The World Bank estimates that investments of $1 trillion will be needed in this decade and upwards of $4 trillion during the next 30 years to meet developing countries' electricity needs alone.

*America uses about 15 times more energy per person than does the typical developing country.

Anonymous said...

What causes global warming?

Carbon dioxide and other air pollution that is collecting in the atmosphere like a thickening blanket, trapping the sun's heat and causing the planet to warm up. Coal-burning power plants are the largest U.S. source of carbon dioxide pollution -- they produce 2.5 billion tons every year. Automobiles, the second largest source, create nearly 1.5 billion tons of CO2 annually.

Here's the good news: technologies exist today to make cars that run cleaner and burn less gas, modernize power plants and generate electricity from nonpolluting sources, and cut our electricity use through energy efficiency. The challenge is to be sure these solutions are put to use.

Is the earth really getting hotter?
Yes. Although local temperatures fluctuate naturally, over the past 50 years the average global temperature has increased at the fastest rate in recorded history. And experts think the trend is accelerating: the 10 hottest years on record have all occurred since 1990. Scientists say that unless we curb global warming emissions, average U.S. temperatures could be 3 to 9 degrees higher by the end of the century.

Are warmer temperatures causing bad things to happen?
Global warming is already causing damage in many parts of the United States. In 2002, Colorado, Arizona and Oregon endured their worst wildfire seasons ever. The same year, drought created severe dust storms in Montana, Colorado and Kansas, and floods caused hundreds of millions of dollars in damage in Texas, Montana and North Dakota. Since the early 1950s, snow accumulation has declined 60 percent and winter seasons have shortened in some areas of the Cascade Range in Oregon and Washington.

Of course, the impacts of global warming are not limited to the United States. In 2003, extreme heat waves caused more than 20,000 deaths in Europe and more than 1,500 deaths in India. And in what scientists regard as an alarming sign of events to come, the area of the Arctic's perennial polar ice cap is declining at the rate of 9 percent per decade.

Is global warming making hurricanes worse?
Global warming doesn't create hurricanes, but it does make them stronger and more dangerous. Because the ocean is getting warmer, tropical storms can pick up more energy and become more powerful. So global warming could turn, say, a category 3 storm into a much more dangerous category 4 storm. In fact, scientists have found that the destructive potential of hurricanes has greatly increased along with ocean temperature over the past 35 years.

Is there really cause for serious concern?
Yes. Global warming is a complex phenomenon, and its full-scale impacts are hard to predict far in advance. But each year scientists learn more about how global warming is affecting the planet, and many agree that certain consequences are likely to occur if current trends continue. Among these:

* Melting glaciers, early snowmelt and severe droughts will cause more dramatic water shortages in the American West.

* Rising sea levels will lead to coastal flooding on the Eastern seaboard, in Florida, and in other areas, such as the Gulf of Mexico.

* Warmer sea surface temperatures will fuel more intense hurricanes in the southeastern Atlantic and Gulf coasts.

* Forests, farms and cities will face troublesome new pests and more mosquito-borne diseases.

* Disruption of habitats such as coral reefs and alpine meadows could drive many plant and animal species to extinction.

Could global warming trigger a sudden catastrophe?
Recently, researchers -- and even the U.S. Defense Department -- have investigated the possibility of abrupt climate change, in which gradual global warming triggers a sudden shift in the earth's climate, causing parts of the world to dramatically heat up or cool down in the span of a few years.

In February 2004, consultants to the Pentagon released a report laying out the possible impacts of abrupt climate change on national security. In a worst-case scenario, the study concluded, global warming could make large areas of the world uninhabitable and cause massive food and water shortages, sparking widespread migrations and war.

While this prospect remains highly speculative, many of global warming's effects are already being observed -- and felt. And the idea that such extreme change is possible underscores the urgent need to start cutting global warming pollution.

What country is the largest source of global warming pollution?
The United States. Though Americans make up just 4 percent of the world's population, we produce 25 percent of the carbon dioxide pollution from fossil-fuel burning -- by far the largest share of any country. In fact, the United States emits more carbon dioxide than China, India and Japan, combined. Clearly America ought to take a leadership role in solving the problem. And as the world's top developer of new technologies, we are well positioned to do so -- we already have the know-how.

How can we cut global warming pollution?
It's simple: By reducing pollution from vehicles and power plants. Right away, we should put existing technologies for building cleaner cars and more modern electricity generators into widespread use. We can increase our reliance on renewable energy sources such as wind, sun and geothermal. And we can manufacture more efficient appliances and conserve energy.

Why aren't these technologies more commonplace now?
Because, while the technologies exist, the corporate and political will to put them into widespread use does not. Many companies in the automobile and energy industries put pressure on the White House and Congress to halt or delay new laws or regulations -- or even to stop enforcing existing rules -- that would drive such changes. From requiring catalytic converters to improving gas mileage, car companies have fought even the smallest measure to protect public health and the environment. If progress is to be made, the American people will have to demand it.

Do we need new laws requiring industry to cut emissions of global warming pollution?
Yes. The Bush administration has supported only voluntary reduction programs, but these have failed to stop the growth of emissions. Even leaders of major corporations, including companies such as DuPont, Alcoa and General Electric, agree that it's time for the federal government to create strong laws to cut global warming pollution. Public and political support for solutions has never been stronger. Congress is now considering fresh proposals to cap emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping pollutants from America's largest sources -- power plants, industrial facilities and transportation fuels.

Stricter efficiency requirements for electric appliances will also help reduce pollution. One example is the 30 percent tighter standard now in place for home central air conditioners and heat pumps, a Clinton-era achievement that will prevent the emission of 51 million metric tons of carbon -- the equivalent of taking 34 million cars off the road for one year. The new rule survived a Bush administration effort to weaken it when, in January 2004, a federal court sided with an NRDC-led coalition and reversed the administration's rollback.

Is it possible to cut power plant pollution and still have enough electricity?
Yes. First, we must use more efficient appliances and equipment in our homes and offices to reduce our electricity needs. We can also phase out the decades-old, coal-burning power plants that generate most of our electricity and replace them with cleaner plants. And we can increase our use of renewable energy sources such as wind and sun. Some states are moving in this direction: California has required its largest utilities to get 20 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2017, and New York has pledged to compel power companies to provide 25 percent of the state's electricity from renewable sources by 2013.

How can we cut car pollution?
Cost-effective technologies to reduce global warming pollution from cars and light trucks of all sizes are available now. There is no reason to wait and hope that hydrogen fuel cell vehicles will solve the problem in the future. Hybrid gas-electric engines can cut global warming pollution by one-third or more today; hybrid sedans, SUVs and trucks from several automakers are already on the market.

But automakers should be doing a lot more: They've used a legal loophole to make SUVs far less fuel efficient than they could be; the popularity of these vehicles has generated a 20 percent increase in transportation-related carbon dioxide pollution since the early 1990s. Closing this loophole and requiring SUVs, minivans and pick-up trucks to be as efficient as cars would cut 120 million tons of carbon dioxide pollution a year by 2010. If automakers used the technology they have right now to raise fuel economy standards for new cars and light trucks to a combined 40 m.p.g., carbon dioxide pollution would eventually drop by more than 650 million tons per year as these vehicles replaced older models.

For more information on hybrid vehicles, see NRDC's hybrid guide.

What can I do to help fight global warming?
There are many simple steps you can take right now to cut global warming pollution. Make conserving energy a part of your daily routine. Each time you choose a compact fluorescent light bulb over an incandescent bulb, for example, you'll lower your energy bill and keep nearly 700 pounds of carbon dioxide out of the air over the bulb's lifetime. By opting for a refrigerator with the Energy Star label -- indicating it uses at least 15 percent less energy than the federal requirement -- over a less energy-efficient model, you can reduce carbon dioxide pollution by nearly a ton in total. Join NRDC in our campaign against global warming.

last revised 2.9.07

Anonymous said...

Energy Use in the United States

United States Energy Use Relative to World Use

I n 1995, the U.S., with a population of 263 million people, used an estimated 95,300 PJ of primary energy. This estimate represents 25 percent of the world energy use while the U.S. has only 5 percent of the world population. By comparison, Japan--ranked 4th in energy use--used 6 percent of the world energy while having 2 percent of the world population [3].

Many factors affect the quantity of primary energy used by a country. Primary energy includes not only the energy directly consumed by the end-users of the energy, but also the losses associated with the generation and transmission of electricity. Thus, countries that are electricity-intensive will tend to have large primary energy requirements. In 1995, the U.S. used approximately 27 percent of the world’s electricity versus Japan’s 7 percent.

The level of economic production also affects the level of energy use. In 1995 the U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at market exchange rates was the highest of any country-- 5.5 trillion dollars (1987 dollars). The next largest economy, Japan, had a GDP of 3.0 trillion dollars (1987 dollars). Land area is also directly related to the level of transportation demand. For example, while the U.S. ranks 3rd in population and Japan ranks 9th, the population density for Japan (318/km2) is more than 10 times that of the U.S. (29/km2). The U.S. has more than three times as many motor vehicles as Japan [4].

Anonymous said...

Anonymous: Why don't you just copy and paste the entire fricking internet?

Anonymous said...

"Unequivocally, scientists worldwide accept the global warming facts."


Here is one peer-reviewed paper that calls into question the accuracy of the computer models used by a lot of global warming advocates. Since all we have to go on is some recent data and computer models, this is important. Among other things, the model does not take into account the effects of water vapor and clouds.

Recent studies have also shown the hype about polar ice caps to be overblown and call into question the accuracy of temperature readings. It seems that satellite temperature readings show no temperature changes over the past 20 years. There are also concerns about the accuracy of the surface temperature readings due to inconsistency in equipment, placement, and other factors. Google it, you'll find it.

The point is that there are scientists who question the conclusions of some whose research is funded by people who support those conclusions and is based on possibly inaccurate data and flawed computer models. Those scientists get no play in the media, however.

The jury is still out on whether or not global warming is occuring. If it is, the cause may be natural or man made - we do not know for sure. Some of us do not think we should make major policy decisions in light of this.

Why is it that, in this instance, the skeptics are short sighted and ignorant? Could it be because the people they oppose are liberal?

Real Debate said...

I would love for all of you alarmist to research Dr. Christopher Landsea.

Dr Landsea is recognized as one of the foremost experts on hurricanes anywhere.

Dr Landsea was hired in the wake of Katrina to research and determine if there was any link or causation between global warming and hurricane activity.

The people who hired him then went out and held a new conference (while the story was hot) claiming that causation did exist BEFORE ANY ACTUAL RESEARCH WAS DONE. I’m sure many of you recall this news conference.

Landsea tried to make the point that no actual scientific research had been done, but those people who hired him (the precious consensus) had already made up their minds before the research was even started.

This is the reality of global warming rhetoric.

We have people pushing unsettled science as settled science and they are using scare tactics to do it.

You all of course are aware that Mars is heating exactly in the same pattern as we are? It couldn't possibly be the sun and not human activity could it? EEK ALARMIST EXTREMIST MAKING LOGICAL ARGUMENTS WARNING! Yeah all of that SUV exhaust on Mars is a real problem.

Fact is we have scientists being dishonest looking for funding.

To the people pointing out the small chart error in this film where are you on the HUGE errors in Gore's? Silent.

How about his seas raising 20 feet line? The same UN Panel that got the Nobel says at worse case scenario 17 inches in 1,000 years. Yet Al Gore is still preaching his 20 foot number even though he has publicly acknowledged that it is in error.

Global warming rhetoric is a joke. Yes we are in a slight warming trend. The gloom and doom Chicken Little it is the end of the world rhetoric is overblown. And these countries at the Bali conference are doing nothing but looking for a handout from us.

In case you missed it they are asking for a $212 billion annual payment from the US to help them catch up to us in development. That is $796 per year for everyone one of you.

And that is what this all about.

The only thing settled here is the complete agreement that we should pay for everything.

I prefer my science with a little honesty thrown in.

Go ahead, keep an open mind and research Dr. Christopher Landsea.

Anonymous said...

One scientist vs. 99.9% that accept the science of global warming?

Geez, aren't we digging deep...

Anonymous said...

anonymous... We knew you were coming so we brought our boots.

Real Debate said...

One example of many and an actual documented example of rhetoric being placed before science.

I can name more, many more.

Why not try something unique and actually look into this.

Katrina said...

Even if global warming dose not extst at all is it still not a good thing to be free of the middle east's oil hold on us? Remember we are giving money to those who want to do us harm.

Anonymous said...

Blogger Real Debate said...

One example of many and an actual documented example of rhetoric being placed before science.

Fred, always on the side of the Scopes trial 'right'. Wonder how this world keeps turning...

Joseph said...

Well, both seem to be true. You might be interested in my residual correlation analysis of cumulative CO2 emissions and temperature.

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