First off, I just want to say thanks for being civil and respectful, Tater Raider. This is a topic that can get people riled up, and it's important to remember that we're all on the same team here.
Tater Raider wrote:I think the whole issue is something that is far more complicated than even the scientists studying it can comprehend
I'm not quite sure what you mean here. In one sense, this universally true about literally everything. We don't have perfect knowledge of anything. That doesn't mean that we don't have a "good enough" understanding of a great many things for practical purposes. For example, we don't perfectly understand all aspects of aerodynamics and engineering, but that doesn't prevent us from making airplanes that can get you where you want to go.
The climate system is no different. We don't understand it perfectly, and given the limits of human intellect, we probably never will. That isn't to say that we don't have a "good enough" understanding of the climate system to be able to make practical decisions. We have a wealth of observational, theoretical, and geological/paleoclimatic data to draw on, and how much we actually do know would probably surprise you.
Tater Raider wrote:It has been established that climate changes. Anything else is theory and conjecture and tends to get hijacked for political purposes in my expeirence.
I think this is a useful point to discuss. I'm going to break it into two parts, in an effort to keep things on the rails. First part:
Tater Raider wrote:Anything else... tends to get hijacked for political purposes in my expeirence
I like the fact that you qualified the statement by saying that it held true for your experience. You are recognizing that your personal experience might not hold true for others- and indeed, it does not. I think it's also good to keep in mind that in discussions of environmental science issues, there is a tendency to conflate scientific facts with political beliefs or policy outcomes. It's important, in order to keep things from degenerating into political bickering, to keep science-focused discussions on topic and leave political arguments out of it.
Tater Raider wrote:It has been established that climate changes. Anything else is theory and conjecture
This isn't actually the case. First, it's probably useful to understand that "theory" has different meanings inside and outside of science. Outside of science, it's often used as a synonym for speculation, as you're using it here. Inside of science, theory means something much different. Theories in science are well-supported by evidence. Thus it's possible to have "the theory of X" and also "the fact of X" without being contradictory. The germ theory of disease transmission is both theory and fact. Evolution through natural selection is both theory and fact. And so on.
There is a tremendous amount beyond "climate changes" that is factual. The greenhouse effect is a fact (albeit an in hindsight poorly named one). That changing the planetary energy balance results in changing its surface temperature is a fact. There are more basic components of understanding climate related to atmospheric chemistry and physics, fluid dynamics, etc. that are as well-established as anything in science.
It's absolutely true that there are still unknowns in climate. But these issues are a great deal more specific and nuanced than the big picture stuff that is the usual focus of internet discussions- e.g. the magnitude of aerosol dimming over the instrumental record. The precise equilibrium climate sensitivity down to tenths of degrees.
However, we know enough about the climate system to say in broad strokes how we're altering it, roughly how much of the warming over the instrumental record is due to human actions, by about how much we'll warm in response to a given level of GHG increases over a given interval. There are, to be sure, error bars on the numbers, but we're not operating blindly.
Tater Raider wrote:I tend to try to avoid the entire issue as a result, but am willing to discuss it with anyone who wants. Just send me a PM.
I applaud you keeping an open mind. That's a great attitude to have. I am writing this outside of a PM because climatic change is unquestionably a survival-related topic, and it's been my experience that there a lot of people who are very interested in the subject matter, but don't have the confidence or background to have an informed discussion on the topic, who would benefit from a public rather than private exchange.
Tater Raider wrote:EtA: You have your CO2 and other greenhouse gasses, solar cycles, obital deviation, and so on and the weatherman can't get the tempurature right in tomorrow's forecast, so I'm willing to stand by my scientists can't comprehend everything that drives climate change and to what extent and how it all interacts, but will add "at this time" to the remark.
Again, I think it's great that you're recognizing that what holds true for you might not hold true for others. It's important to keep that in mind. It's also great that you're seemingly willing to revise your current position in light of further evidence.
Tater Raider wrote:EtA: You have your CO2 and other greenhouse gasses, solar cycles, obital deviation, and so on and the weatherman can't get the tempurature right in tomorrow's forecast
This is an area of confusion for a great number of people. Weather forecasting is actual quite a different prospect than discussing the general behavior of certain climate features on multidecadal timescales.
Weather forecasting is an initial value
problem. Climate change over long timescales is a boundary value
problem. When we discuss changes to the Earth's climate due to increases in GHGs, we're not attempting to forecast the weather at any given place or time. We're talking about changes to the entire system. In pretty much the same way that I can't precisely predict the exact outcome of rolling a pool of dice, but I can tell you that the average will converge on as the number of rolls increases, weather prediction is not the same as what constrains climatic norms.
Tater Raider wrote:Also added: Global cooling or warming or whatever isn't likely to kill me tomorrow. Or the next day. Or the next. At what point will it matter to me... get back to me in 25 years if I'm still around and I might have an answer.
I think that it's useful to bring this up. For those of us lucky enough to be in relatively well-developed countries with relatively high standards of living, climate change may not necessarily be a big deal. This is especially true for those of us who live in the higher latitudes (but not too high, e.g. the Arctic), and those of us who aren't going to be alive in 2100 or further out. However, I think it's worth noting two points- one of them scientific, the other a combination of science and values.
First, we have already changed the climate relative to what it would have been absent our influence. Some of those effects have been small, some of them even beneficial. But climate change is something happening now, not just in the distant future. The relatively small amount of sea level increase we've contributed to already due to thermal expansion of the ocean and glacial runoff is already a part of storm surges happening now. The tropics are expanding poleward now, and that's affecting mid-latitude storm tracks now.
Second, the decisions we make about our path forward will have an enormous impact on future generations. This isn't an opinion, or an advocacy of a certain outcome. It's strictly a scientific issue about the atmospheric residency of a large pulse of carbon, and how long it takes the planet to return to equilibrium. Now, to me personally- as a matter beyond science, as a matter of values- I personally believe that it is irresponsible to ignore the impact my decisions may have on the lives of people who won't get a say in the matter.
Thanks for your comments!