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January 11, 2009 07:32 PM UTC

Ok. I'm really trying to be serious and listen to the AGW folks.

  • by: Laughing Boy

But really.

Could we please get a little more serious than this, please?

Revealed: the environmental impact of Google searches.

Performing two Google searches from a desktop computer can generate about the same amount of carbon dioxide as boiling a kettle for a cup of tea, according to new research.

While millions of people tap into Google without considering the environment, a typical search generates about 7g of CO2 Boiling a kettle generates about 15g. “Google operates huge data centres around the world that consume a great deal of power,” said Alex Wissner-Gross, a Harvard University physicist whose research on the environmental impact of computing is due out soon. “A Google search has a definite environmental impact.”

This seems to be a little out of control.  At what point do we hinder our evolution based on a computer model that may or may not be accurate?  

Am I overreacting to think this is a little over-the-top?


12 thoughts on “Ok. I’m really trying to be serious and listen to the AGW folks.

  1. And to prove it I invite all the AGW shills to stop using their computers to talk about this.  In fact stop using electricity and fossil fuels, get out of those houses containing wood, paint, and metal, and live a life completely free of environmental impact!

    My god!  If we don’t stop communicating in this way, the world will end in 20 years!

    All snark and satire intended.

  2. Although parading under the climate change concern banner, they actually want something quite radical and ungodly – climate and human control.

    Their first step is to mandate higher taxes/fees on to Google.

    “They must feel so frustrated, so defeated, so lost, so futureless in the prevailing system that they are willing to let go of the past and change the future.” SA 1971

    1. taxes on Google?  And as a ‘first step’ even?  Please provide a source for your (seemingly preposterous) claim.

      “Factchecking Libertad–the easiest job on earth”

  3. This does not even resemble “trying to be serious.”

    It is clear you are trying to mock and, well, I don’t know what else you might have been trying.

    Again, if you want to be serious (and be taken seriously) you need to learn how to separate the science from potential policy and economic implications.

    Here’s an example: If I observe (and comment on) the fact that every time you eat an apple there is one less apple in the bowl, is this “out of control?”

    No. It’s a factual observation. Nothing more. There are no policy or economic implications in and of the fact of the observation.

    However … if you had promised that everyone in your family would get to have one of those apples and now there are not enough left to fulfill that promise, then there are problems!!

    If you have time (and $) to replace the apples, family harmony may not be disturbed. On the other hand if the original were Honey Crisps and you replace them with Red (non)Delicious, there may still be some less than happy people!

    So, the study you have chosen to mock merely points out that every action has an impact. It appears this concept frightens you. If we want to reduce our impact, we must acknowledge this. This acknowledgment does not require that we have zero impact (or even consider zero impact to be desirable).

    It’s called honesty.

    So, yes, you are over-reacting.

    (I didn’t respond earlier since I was taking a sabbatical from the internet – aka “vacation!”)

  4. What in the world does this mean?

    At what point do we hinder our evolution based on a computer model that may or may not be accurate?

    How the hell is evolution hindered by knowledge about the natural world?

    All computer models are “wrong” in that they are simplifications of the real world. Similarly, all maps are “wrong” since they must omit some information about the real world.

    You should be concerned though that the models may be “wrong” in that they underestimate (not just that they might overestimate) the potential climate impacts.

    BTW, have you ever found an economic model that was “right?” Of course not. None the less, we have made grand changes in policy based on economic models that are much less well evaluated than climate models.

    You’ve got to try harder if you want to convince me that you are to be taken seriously. (Right now you’ve convinced me that you don’t understand evolution in addition to not understanding the difference between science and policy.)

    1. As I do you.

      How many inventions and technologies across the board are directly attributable to the use of fossil fuels?

      Nearly everything in the last 100 years or so, and that’s a lot.  

      Augmenting fossil fuel with alternative energy is good until we advance to the point where we have an actual replacement for it.  I’m with you.  In fact nuclear energy would do a fantastic job of this.  But I remain unconvinced that Co2 creates climate changes rather than following them. I think our models are looking at too short of a climate pattern.  I’m not a scientist, but I read.  And when the immediate solutions to an AGW problem, real or imagined are advocated by goofballs like Al Gore and involve creating new, gigantic arms of government and taxing business like never before, I’m more skeptical than ever.

      1. but when you continue to attempt to challenge the soundness of the science by bringing up possible policy proposals, I am going to point this out.

        I agree that a century of heavily subsidized fossil fuel has led to the production of many things I enjoy using. I am in awe of the fact that I can pretty much be anyplace in the world I want, by tomorrow, because of fossil fuels. We live in a unique time.

        But my personal happiness has absolutely no impact on the physics of radiatively active gases.  

        Do some reading on the natural greenhouse effect. Study what the temperature of the surface of our planet would be if there was no CO2, H2O, or other radiatively active gases in our atmosphere. (Hint: well below freezing!) Then read up on where are the gaps in the atmospheric window for the escape of longwave radiation. (You may learn that the wavelengths “reflected” by H2O are nearly saturated whereas the wavelengths “reflected” by CO2, CO, CH4, HFs, etc are not. Thus, adding more of these gases does increase the heat trapping capacity of the atmosphere. Adding H2O, not so much.)

        Also, challenge yourself on what evidence you need to convince yourself that electrons do not orbit atomic nuclei in little planetary orbits but rather exist in quantum clouds of probability. (In other words, there are some really weird scientific propositions out there that don’t seem to bother you much because you aren’t concerned about potential economic implications.)

        And practice practice practice separating the science from the potential economics.

        1. I have three girls that will be in college in close proximity to each other.  Potential economics affects every single thing I consider.

          My dad designed software systems that forecast solar flares at NOAA and he often laughed at the ‘global cooling’ hysteria in the 70s, telling me that mankind is such a fart in the wind that it was silly to think we could adversely affect the climate patterns that spanned hundreds of thousands of years.  

          The AGW folks are the ones that made the political leap, not laymen and citizens and taxpayers like me that don’t have a financial or political dog in the fight.

          AGW seems somewhat to be merely the latest reason for some politicians to want to raise my taxes.  I’m sorry, but maybe you’ve just chosen the wrong messenger in a guy like Gore.  The man uses more energy than I ever will and excuses it because he can write a check for ‘credits’?  It’s just not adding up, and there is no ‘consensus’.  There are plenty of scientists, not on anyone’s political payroll that dispute the science involved.  The interest in ridiculing and quashing skepticism in this case seems very, well, unscientific.

          It seems to me the nature of science is to challenge and prove or disprove theory under different conditions.  I don’t think AGW has met a high enough threshold of doing this to warrant turning the world economy (starting at the top – what a coincidence) upside down.

          1. This post of yours is truly insulting.

            1) there was NO “global cooling” hysteria among climate scientists in the 70’s (unless you consider Newsweek to be a scientific publication). If you need me to, I can track down some references.

            2) Who the hell are “the AGW folks?”

            3) What the hell does Al Gore have to do with science? Is this yet another red herring/change-the-subject tactic of the denier crowd?

            4) What the F*** do you call a consensus? Can you name one significant scientific issue in which thousands of scientists from around the world have come together to agree on an issue to the extent that has happened with the links between anthropogenic CO2 and climate?

            I have better things to do. Maybe you can re-earn my respect in the future. Meanwhile, go back and curl up with the comfort of your ideology. Maybe your girls will find it in themselves to forgive you some day.

            1. Anywhere in my reply was there anything about you?  Of course not.  

              If respect means that I have to agree with you in order for you to feel respected, then you’re going to be disappointed.

              It seems like it’s impossible for you to debate this without freaking out.  I’m sure the next thing coming it that there’s no need to debate with someone who’s as stupid as I am.  In that case, you’ve made my point, but I hope you can hang in there and just go over facts.

              1. I’d say being on the cover of Time and Newsweek and listing theories such as covering the ice caps with soot so that they collect more heat is fairly hysterical.  Just my opinion, but so was my post.

              2. The AGW folks are a number of people, least of which Gore’s folks spending upwards of $300 million on advertising.  You are an “AGW Folk”. An advocate.

              3. Obviously nothing, yet he is at the P.R. forefront to sell this idea to the public.  He won an Oscar (ahem) for his silly movie.  He won a Nobel Prize.  He won a Grammy.

              What’s a red herring about that?  He seems to have been anointed as the spokesmodel for AGW.  

              4. Gravity?  Relativity?  There are a number of scientists much smarter than you or I who respectfully disagree with the modeling on AGW, and Co2’s impact on global temps. I’ve been reading lately of the idea that Co2 follows temperature rather than causes variations in it.

              Anyway, sad that I’d lose respect for debating something and asking pretty pertinent questions.  My mind is open, but I’m pretty suspicious when debate is stifled with insults and put downs.  No worries – I really wish this didn’t make you so mad because I think you could probably help me understand the debate better.

              1. and you deserve an explanation for my outburst.

                What I found incredibly insulting about your last post on the 19th was that it 1) appeared to be a giant step backwards (more later) and 2) the fact that I am trying to limit the discussion to the science first (if we can’t agree on the science then it is premature to talk about any potential implications).

                Your dismissal of the science is personally insulting because I am a scientist (with an interest in policy implications, thus my presence on ColoPols). Furthermore, I am a scientist who has published on climate change in the scientific journals. None the less, I do not consider myself an expert in the field.

                Suggesting that a hysterical story that appeared in Newsweek 30 years ago is representative of the state of the science then or now is insulting to the intelligence of both of us.

                Your willingness to dismiss the science confuses me.  I interpret it as cavalier on your part. (I hope I’m wrong.) In this regard, I am MUCH more conservative than you. As a scientist (but, again, non-expert in the climate sciences) I recognize that I do not have the expertise to dismiss the conclusions of the vast majority of the WORLD’s climate experts. This does NOT mean I consider their conclusions beyond a doubt. Of course not, as a scientist I am always doubtful (i.e., truly skeptical).

                However, at the scientific meetings I have been to, I have observed that it is very difficult to get 3 scientists to agree on anything but the most mundane matters. When giving presentations, the Q&A sessions are all about how wrong the author must be.

                Scientific research focuses on the areas where there is disagreement. This practice does not mean there aren’t vast areas of agreement. The fact that someone can show a situation where the current explanation does not hold does not negate the observation that there are hundreds of situations in which the current explanation is accepted.

                So, when hundreds of scientists put out a report on the current state of climate science and agree that there is a 95% or greater likelihood that humans are contributing to a warming trend in the global climate, I sit up and take notice. This is truly an earth shattering phenomenon.

                I challenge you to carefully read what the deniers put out. Attempt to evaluate whether they are challenging potential policy and economic implications, or is their focus on the science. All criticisms are valid, but criticisms of a policy approach do not in any way challenge the underlying science.

                AND, please leave Al Gore out of it. Your criticism of him is mere diversion and, again, is insulting to the intelligence of both of us. He is a reporter. Whether he gets a detail or two right or wrong has absolutely no impact on the science. Sure he gets things wrong. So does EVERYONE who attempts to simplify a complex topic. (BTW, real climate scientists have reviewed Al Gore’s “silly” movie and concluded that he reported on the big picture quite accurately even if he took some liberties with some details.)

                I am unwilling to talk about policy implications etc with you at this time because I don’t think we are in agreement on the science. Not to mention how to evaluate the science. Until we work out where we agree and where we don’t, and why, it is useless to extrapolate to the human response. All that will happen is one of us will misunderstand the other and then harsh words will be exchanged and it will be another step back.

                Another challenge, when you read about something that appears to contradict the IPCC scientific reports (such as CO2 increases follow temperature increases) consider first whether or not the IPCC included this possibility in their scientific reports and also consider whether the two scenarios are exclusive. I.e., because there are pre-historical records that suggest that CO2 change follows temp in some situations, does that mean that it is impossible for CO2 to lead and cause temperature increases? For example, if typically your car begins to change direction after you turn the steering wheel, does this exclude the scenario where you car suddenly changing direction causes you to turn on the steering wheel? Or vice versa?

                Enough for now …

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