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I never got impressed by the enviros, but it's just because I had a warped structure defining what and who constituted an authority on such issues. Those that I accepted as authoritative could factually contradict much of the nonsense very early in the cycle. So.... cancel my sense of superiority over this! In fact I was shocked to learn that in fact global temps were rising. Made me rethink a lot. This outline of the trajectory of public issue - attention rings true.
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Paul Dubois's profile photo
 
I worked in a climate-modeling group for three years. The issue is much, much more complicated than the public can digest. But just to take the figure you mention, that's been rising steadily since the last Ice Age, long before CO2 growth. Temperature by itself is no information. The prediction of computer codes is only as good as the computer codes; that being my specialty, the construction of large scientific simulations, I had serious concerns about them. As of around 2000, it was rare for one of these codes to even predict an El Nino, the largest cycle on the planet. Recent improvements in hardware have I'm sure enabled them to do better, but the point is that sorting out any man-made effect against a background of huge natural variability is very difficult. Sunspots and the precession of the Earth's orbit are likely significant. Historical data seem to show CO2 is a FOLLOWING indicator of warming -- effect rather than cause. When I worked on this subject, the codes needed artificial sources of heat or the Earth froze over; these just aren't base-principal physics models but rather are more broad estimates. For one thing, climate is average weather but they can't afford very many runs to take an average of, and they don't really know the initial state. I understand that measurements at the top of the atmosphere still show ingoing energy equal to outgoing. To make some dramatic anti-industrial decisions based on what they really know would not be justified in my opinion; that said, there is everything to be said for being as clean as possible, which right now means nuclear power to get significant amounts of power. The third generation can be passively safe.

One day I wandered into the library of our group and tried to find a less technical book for myself. It was very informative, and the last few chapters predicted a return of the ice. It's a hard subject.
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