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Thread: Greenhouse gases?

  1. #1 Greenhouse gases? 
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    Hi all,

    I am doing an independent study on global warming. There is is something I am having a hard time understanding though...may be a stupid question but its worth a go: the earth naturally employs the greenhouse affect, there are gases that are designed to trap irradiance. They let it in and out but they trap in a good chunk, that is what stops the temperature of the earth from staying below freezing. However there are also manmade greenhouse gases, which trap in more of the suns rays..which causes the earth to warm up..yet wouldn't those same gases reflect sun rays coming into earths atmosphere at the same time?

    Does this make sense? The same harmful gases that are trapping too much heat...wouldn't they also reflect some portion of irradiance coming in? Thanks guys!!!


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  3. #2  
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    Keen observation. I would count myself as neither a 'creationist' or 'evolutionist', I am in the process of trying to figure that out! Lol I was raised by a very, very religous creationist family though. Thank you very much for your explanation. It makes a great deal of sense and I don't know why I didn't think of that. Thanks for helping me out!!!


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  4. #3  
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    I'm not sure you can skip out on doing a lot of reading if you want to get a clear grasp of what's going on with climate. It is good that you appear to want to. I don't know that it's possible to have a 'simple' grasp of what is going on and not automatically be wrong; there's a whole lot of inter-related processes going on and excess focus on any one or two can easily lead to misunderstandings. Very few people have the skills to assess the science and make their own minds up without reliance and trust in working experts. There's mountains of misinformation out there so take care; the US National Academy of Sciences and UK's Royal Society have well deserved reputations and have plenty of material freely available online.

    FWIW - Except for some compounds like Halocarbons that don't exist in nature greenhouse gases from human sources are not chemically different to natural ones. Halocarbons aren't reflecting sunlight back to space but they do have other effects - notably being destructive of atmospheric Ozone. We add other stuff into the atmosphere as well and some, like Sulphates are reflecting more sunlight back to space (aka global dimming) and are reducing the overall impacts of increased GHG's. Sulphates and other particulates don't have a long residence time in the atmosphere - probably just as well or the media hype about ice ages from the 1970's could have ended up being prophetic. (Joke - if that were so then volcanism would have had a noticeably stronger historic impact). Instead the 'ice age' hype turned out to be a spur to scientists to better understand climate. Well enough that they can now make reliable predictions about the broad sweep of impacts that come of changing our atmosphere.
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  5. #4  
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    It is hard not to use words that reflect creationism. The philosphy of creationism is built into our language. Even a simple statment like, "A cat is a facinating creature." falls into the creationist bias. When we call an animal a "creature" we are saying it was created.
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  6. #5  
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    Chloe, I'm not sure what an "independent study" of global warming actually is. But you need to start out with one of two things or take another tack entirely.

    Either
    1) a familiarity with meteorology and the physical drivers of weather. Once you have that you can move onto what drives changes in seasons and regional climates, and then onto global climate.
    Or
    2) a knowledge of physics, chemistry and geology good enough to be able to combine them into the generalised physical properties of climate.

    Very few of us have either of those parcels of expertise ready packaged to make the move into a ready understanding of climate science. One thing we all have is a history of reading news items and conversations with families and friends. If you recall statements or information from such sources, you can check them out at sites like Global Warming and Climate Change skepticism examined . I'd suggest using the Big Three Buttons to get started then look at the list of "climate myths" in the left panel and choose only the ones you've heard. There are nearly 200 entries here! You'll go mad if you try to follow all of them - and stick to the Basic category for the time being unless you find a topic that's interesting enough to do the hard work of following through the Intermediate and Advanced explanations and their much larger number of links to source or related materials.

    If you find these text-dense explanations a bit daunting, you might like to choose a couple of videos for an easily absorbed overview or a brain break. This one 1. Climate Change -- the scientific debate - YouTube starts out with an illustration of PhDemon's #2 comment.

    And here's the list of all his climate stuff. Potholer54 Climate Change - YouTube (Don't bother with the Monckton Bunkum items unless you're already familiar with Monckton's "arguments".)

    The historical relationship between CO2 and earth's climate is summarised in the 3 minutes of this one Time history of atmospheric CO2 (2011 update) - YouTube (Best watched on full screen so you can keep track of which reporting station or proxy data is used for each new data point.) If you like it set to music, there's an earlier version here. History of CO2_Inception.wmv - YouTube

    A warning. You might find some of this stuff hard going if you hold any creationist views about the age of the earth. All climate science relies on geology and and other sciences which demonstrate the earth being billions of years old and the universe as a whole being even older.
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
    "nature is like a game of Jenga; you never know which brick you pull out will cause the whole stack to collapse" Lucy Cooke
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  7. #6  
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    Chloe, I believe it may be mentioned that when you do your research on the internet, use only reputable sites. Usually it is easy to check the name of the organization or verify the credentials of the experts.

    If you need ideas where to start, look at Fora like this one. Most post have been researched (hopefully) and often provide links to reliable sources.

    This is how I get most of my information as I also do not have advanced education, but an insatiable curiosity. But even deep scientific studies have narratives that explain things in understandable terms instead of pure scientific language.

    This may be a good starting point.

    Global Warming | Greenhouse Gases
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  8. #7  
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    Oh, I forgot. One really good source is More Grumbine Science .

    He writes his posts (and insists on commenting standards) to be suitable for middle school students, teachers, parents. The What is climate? heading leads you to some well written stuff.
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
    "nature is like a game of Jenga; you never know which brick you pull out will cause the whole stack to collapse" Lucy Cooke
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  9. #8  
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    Hello everyone, thanks for the wonderful advice. Much appreciated. Vrery interesting so see the arguements you outline regarding creation. I hadn't thought of it that way. My apoligies if I confused anyone with the phrase "independant study" not my intention. In actuality I work in politics and I am trying to learn more about something I think our govn. should be taking more seriously. I am shadowing some scientists at a local university to learn as much as a I can. Your right that there is a TON of information. The more I learn the further I realize I am getting myself into it!! I am in no way a scientifically minded individual myself! Thank you very much though for all of the help!!
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