New York City is home to some of the world's most attractive models; it is also home to some of the least attractive ones, presented yearly to the United Nations' International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The current state of global warming modeling has been rather poor, detracting both from research indicating anthropogenic influence and that which contraindicates it. The result is that the debate about climate control, an issue which effects major economic policy decisions, is monopolized by this distraction.
Microsoft Research ecologist Drew Purves acknowledges that this problem is one of the largest ones confronting global warming researchers. He and researchers at Princeton University and universities in Madrid, Spain are calling on the international research community to not throw out modeling or focus on the poor current models, but rather to develop new, better models. In particular, they point out a rather common sense start point -- as forests and other plant populations form the crux of the carbon balance, a better understanding of their effects and how to model them needs to be developed and needs to help form the foundation of future models.
Examining deforestation, forest populations and how they effect the carbon balance is both essential and possible with current technology, believes Purves. While atmospheric equations are important, it's illogical to leave out one of the most important carbon utilities on Earth, forests. Atmospheric dynamics are well known, but forests, with over 1 trillion trees, from 100,000 species, are still a mystery for lack of knowledge. What we do know is that these trees hold as much carbon as is currently in the atmosphere, and additionally support two-thirds of the planet's biodiversity.
Purves and Princeton's Stephen Pacala published a paper "Predictive Models of Forest Dynamics", which explores a new branch of modeling dynamic global vegetation models (DGVMs), which simulates forests in the past, present, and future and their effects on climate. Purves states:
Indeed, climate change skeptics are quick to pounce on such models. However, Purves aptly points out that it is counterproductive to merely blast deficient models, rather it is favorable to acknowledge the deficiency and work towards remedying it.
Says Pacala, "Until now, one of the most important pieces of the climate change jigsaw has been missing. We argue that we can significantly further our understanding of forest dynamics if scientists work together to use new computational techniques and data sources — provided governments and others make more data available in useful forms. We feel that these discoveries could unlock the climate change mysteries of forests on a global scale in as little as five years."
The pair's paper appears in the journal Science. Also appearing in the journal is a joint study entitled "Animal vs Wind Dispersal and the Robustness of Tree Species to Deforestation," written by Daniel Montoya from the Universidad de Alcalá in Madrid and Purves in Cambridge, with Miguel A. Rodríguez of the Universidad de Alcalá and Miguel A. Zavala of Centro de Investigación Forestal, Instituto Nacional de Investigación y Tecnología Agraria y Alimentaria (INIA-CIFOR) in Madrid. Both papers are available here, from Microsoft.
The new study provides intriguing insight into forest growth and resiliency based on vast data sets collected from 90,000 tree plots in Spain. It found that three common species of tree that are wind pollinated are far more vulnerable to deforestation than others. Also it found that no animal seed disperser existed in the ecosystem anymore, leaving several animal dispersed species very vulnerable.
Montoya explains how this research could be applied to smarter conservation efforts, stating, "By applying various methods in computational data analysis to a large source of forest data, we have confirmed that, in Spain at least, plants with animal-dispersed seeds are less vulnerable to habitat loss, because animals provide trees with an intelligent dispersal mechanism, traveling and distributing seeds between areas of remaining forest. In contrast, a wind dispersal method is more susceptible to habitat loss, as seeds are more likely to fall in inhospitable environments. Using methods like this, conservationists can identify the species at most risk following deforestation, and use this knowledge to develop new strategies to mitigate the effects of widespread habitat loss and help to protect species diversity."
Microsoft's Purves says it's not just about the trees and animals either; he states, "It is imperative that we create the tools and science to accurately understand the reaction of ecosystems to climate change and other forces — not just for plants and animals, but for our children and succeeding generations."
Purves is the leader of the Computational Science Research at Microsoft Research Cambridge. His multidisciplinary team features ecologists, biologists, neuroscientists, mathematicians and computer scientists. Their goals is to develop novel theories, better models, and better computational resources to tackle societal challenges such as climate change, declining biodiversity, and gaining an understanding of how life functions on a most basic scale.
quote: Someone once said that a good reason to be a Christian is that if there is no God, then you haven't lost anything. I say if environmentalists are wrong about CO2 causing global warming, then by going to non-pollution-based energy sources, we aren't going to be harming anything at all.
quote: tens of trillions of dollars wasted on fighting a problem which doesn't exist
quote: > "I know that you're a conservative "No I'm not.
quote: It only takes a little education....
quote: See, this is a big mistake that you've made. I know that you're a conservative and a southerner (I believe you've mentioned this fact yourself, though it has been obvious), so I don't think you'll be able to really grasp that learning to become safer and cleaner are worthwhile goals regardless.
quote: These millions of dollars are being spent to save, literally, millions of lives.
quote: If CO2 and other pollutants can be eliminated in cities, then cities will become much healthier places to live.
quote: However, the issue of CO2 in city pollution is conclusive: it is harmful for our health.
quote: I think if it was only China that was creating the CO2, and America wasn't, you'd be only too happy to say that they're causing global warming, rather than feeling unhappy that some people are trying to make people change.
quote: Under the scheme people would be given an annual carbon limit for fuel and energy use - which they could exceed by buying credits from those who use less.
quote: Once you go over that, you have to buy more " carbon points " from someone else. Or what ? I don't know. I guess you just can't buy gas or power your house anymore.
quote: wow you seem to have a supreme fear of government; I hear they have a cream for that but I doubt it works ;)
quote: a bit hypocritical no? you're painting a picture that a guy that drives a hummer is going to have to leave it in his garage and go cold in winter. Thats not going to be true, its just going to cost more to do so.
quote: The freedoms you enjoy are not absolute, I am not allowed to buy a tank and drive it around your street nor am I allowed to drive a quarry lorry down to the shops, are my freedoms being oppressed?
quote: Its just a form of taxation where those who use more should pay more, it already exists now in some places in the form of parking. If you drive a SUV in the city, there is an extra charge for parking; a gentle form of suggestion that you shouldn't be driving a large SUV in the city.
quote: Basic civil liberties ARE absolute. But they mean nothing if you don't have economic freedom.
quote: You never COULD buy a tank. How is this a relevant example ? So because you can't buy a tank the government is within their rights to also limit everything and anything you can purchase ? Including power to your home, which last time I checked was a NEED not a want.
quote: sigh, quote: Carbon output in a way is ALREADY used as a form of taxation in britan, higher CO2 output in a vehicle = more tax dollars. If you can afford to drive a vehicle in the highest tax bracket; good for you, no one is going to stop you as long as you pay. you make it sound like tomorrow everybody is going to wake up in eurasia, oceania or russia circa early 20th century.
quote: Carbon output in a way is ALREADY used as a form of taxation in britan, higher CO2 output in a vehicle = more tax dollars. If you can afford to drive a vehicle in the highest tax bracket; good for you, no one is going to stop you as long as you pay.
quote: If purchasing power was removed, it would be a society that has no need for money, thats a mighty huge leap from reality.
quote: In the exact article you reference they specifically say "you can buy more credits" nowhere does it say "xxxx will be limited and you wont be able to buy any more"
quote: Believe me, I sometimes wish I WAS that ignorant.
quote: Everyone gets the same credit amount. So a family with 8 kids will be expected to live within the same allocation as a single couple.
quote: I totally understand your viewpoint, what Im trying to get across is that not all liberals want to swing for the fence of communism. However you seem to think so and Im just saying that its in your head.
quote: This so called scheme you're discussing is in its infant planning stages with no concrete variables set and you're already yelling "i hate big brother"
quote: All this debate over a hypothetical "scheme" and you're just making up scenarios in your head.
quote: I dont actually believe that - does that make me a non liberal? I dont know.
quote: Sure some things can be solved through governance, its what we use right now in real life when common sense differs from person to person. Thats what governance is isnt it? What you're saying is that when liberals want to propose new forms of governance than infringe on freedoms, rather than just shooting down that specific topic, you want to deconstruct all government?
quote: Being too liberal in the case of global warming means that we've wasted money on solving a problem that doesnt exist; being too conservative means doomsday doesnt it?
quote: I dont argue that some of those have been good things but your argument of not letting the government have an inch of anything and letting the people just be is just too much of a risk to me.
quote: Ask your friends in canada, or anywhere else where their government "imposes" their will on its people.
quote: Other papers go on to show definitively that richer American families receive proportionately much better health care than those without money, something which I disagree with fervently, due to the strong belief that the right to health care is a universal one.
quote: Right...so that's why your entire country is facing an economic recession while ours is....doing so....awesome? Why would that be exactly? Perhaps an extremely unregulated and greed-driven housing market? I disagree with heavy regulation, but none at all is foolish in the extreme, and people did in fact see this coming; but were shouted down as socialists, or communists, or whatever other rhetoric major banking institutions could come up with.
quote: The funny thing about being so ethnocentric Reclaimer is that nobody wants to be like you...nobody wants to live in your country, nobody wants your healthcare, nobody wants your government, your wars, your slow erosion of civil rights.
quote: Every U.S. tax payer pays MORE TAXES for healthcare than Canadians do. However, Canada has universal health care, and the U.S. does not:
quote: As to the government "forced" them to provide subprime loans....huh? I have some serious doubts that the U.S. government told banks, "you MUST offer hundreds of thousands of dollars for mortgages and other loans to people who would not normally qualify"...riiiight.
quote: Also, let me get this straight. CitiBank or whoever says to some poor guy, hey, I know you have terrible credit, come buy a house at our bank and we'll let you do it with zero downpayment, and at a 4 - 6% interest rate too!! So poor guy buys the house and gets a massive mortgage. A year down the road, suddenly said mortgage's interest rate doubles or triples, since poor guy didn't bother to read the fine print.
quote: 7% isn't large!??! Hahahahah!
quote: I am not anti-business in the slightest. I merely support "free" healthcare, and believed that the U.S. should have not allowed sub prime mortgages (Canada doesn't suffer from the same sub prime problems, nor do banks give our ridiculous loans to people who shouldn't have them, and yet we're the socialist devil I thought??).
quote: The funny thing about being so ethnocentric Reclaimer is that nobody wants to be like you...nobody wants to live in your country...
quote: If you're just a regular family driving the kids to school in a minivan and whatnot, you're not going to run out of credits. The people that are going to run out are single rich people who indulge.
quote: When the government fears the people, there is liberty; when the people fear the government, there is tyranny
quote: CO2 is something every living thing breathes out.
quote: Exactly. And that's all we will possibly expect. CO2 loading is a logarithmic curve...the more you add into the atmosphere, the harder it gets to add more, as higher concentrations increase the efficacy of CO2 sinks.
quote: When you understand why that's true, you'll understand why we'll never exceed CO2 concentrations of 550-600 ppm, not in the next millenium at least.
quote: "Your rate of breathing increases very slightly but you probably will not notice it."
quote: Comparitively, "cities" don't generate large quantities of CO2. [...] From a basis of CO2 levels, city air is very often "cleaner" than many areas of the great natural outdoors.
quote: this is about socialism, fear, and control.
quote: Forget socialism. This is downright communism !
quote: If something like this were to even be allowed to pass in the UK BILLIONS of people will suffer. Suffer ! How can you use potential health risks to justify the economic OPPRESSION of billions ?
quote: You mean, other than the tens of trillions of dollars wasted on fighting a problem which doesn't exist -- resources which could have instead been spent to save literally millions of lives?
quote: Because economic resources are not unlimited. They're finite.
quote: We already have hundreds of thousands of children dying each year in Africa alone, for want of medical treatments that in many cases are less than a dollar each.
quote: Anyone who can't understand that spending literally $100 trillion dollars...
quote: Unfortunately, there are people who really believe this nonsense. Sure, wasting tens of trillions of dollars will create jobs-- the same sort of jobs created by a world war or, say, a massive hurricane that devastates a region. But it doesn't create prosperity, nor economic gain.
quote: The problem is when you try to implement half-baked technologies before they're ready. For instance, biofuels will likely one day be a good idea. Ethanol from corn, however, is a disaster that's already squandered tens of billions, and been directly responsible for food riots in more than a dozen nations in the past year alone.
quote: Because economic resources are not unlimited. They're finite. We already have hundreds of thousands of children dying each year in Africa alone, for want of medical treatments that in many cases are less than a dollar each. For even a small fraction of what it would cost to implement this global warming "solution", we could not only save every one of them, but give them a Harvard education also.
quote: Sure, research always pays off. I have no problem funding research. The problem is when you try to implement half-baked technologies before they're ready.
quote: Fighting global warming would MAKE trillions of dollars and SAVE millions of lives. I don't how you got this so backwards...
quote: When ? We have been fighting global warming since the late 80's early 90's. Where are the trillion of dollars and millions of lives saved ?
quote: The money that stands to be made with continued investment in this area is staggering, eclipsing even the total oil profits of today (because there will be more people to use more of this energy as the developing nations continue to grow.)
quote: Who has been saved? That's a trickier question... How do you measure the number of people who haven't gotten skin cancer because of the tighter emissions controls on CFCs and the recovery of the ozone layer?
quote: How do you measure the number of people able to eat because of action to prevent surface warming of the ocean and the development of dead zones like in the Gulf of Mexico?
quote: These are where your answers lie.
quote: A lot has to do with solar activity. A lot has to do with sunspots.
quote: al nina and al nino
quote: inter-galactic gases.
quote: [...] until you can predict the future [...]
quote: We as humans do not understand at all how this planet works...otherwise the model would work.
quote: there is a change happening
quote: We as humans do not understand at all how this planet works...otherwise the model would work. What we can tell is there is a change happening (I believe this is a normal change for this planet that happens every x years). Why? How? will it hurt us? These are the question we can not answer.
quote: And because we don't know how this planet works, the solution is to keep dumping billions of tons of C02 into the environment, and just blindly assume we're having no impact whatsoever?
quote: Mother nature herself " dumps " a far far FAR greater amount of CO2 into the environment then we do annually. You realize that right ?
quote: And now for something completely different...