The World's Largest & Deepest Lake, 25-million-Years Old, is in Trouble: A Galaxy Exclusive

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May 02, 2008

The World's Largest & Deepest Lake, 25-million-Years Old, is in Trouble: A Galaxy Exclusive

Baikal_lake_2 As the oldest, largest and deepest lake on planet Earth, ancient Lake Baikal is known as the “grand dame” of all lakes. UNESCO declared it a World Heritage due to its stunning bio-diversity. Most of its 2500 some odd plant and animal species, including the freshwater seal, evolved in pristine isolation and are found nowhere else on the planet. The Siberian lake contains an enormous 20 percent of the entire world's freshwater, and is large enough to hold all the water in the Great Lakes combined and then some. The lake has yielded many exciting aquatic wonders and likely holds many more undiscovered marvels in its incredibly deep waters. The 25 million year old lake predates the emergence of humans, but its splendor may not outlive us.

Stephanie Hampton, the Deputy Director of the National Center for Ecological Analysis & Synthesis (NCEAS) who has been studying the lake shared with The Daily Galaxy what makes Baikal so exquisite.

“Lake Baikal probably the most beautiful place I've ever been - I'm thinking especially right now of the day I spent on Olkhon Island when the wildflowers were spectacular and the serenity was awe-inspiring. It is the world's most ancient lake with a proliferation of biodiversity that is breathtaking,” describes Hampton affectionately.

“Where I would usually see 2 species of a particular type of crustacean (amphipods, in this case), instead I see 344 species in all shapes and colors and sizes. Many of the unique fish in Baikal resemble deep-sea fishes rather than other freshwater fish that are more closely related to them - with big eyes and spindly bodies. Also, sponge forests are common. If you are surprised that I'm mentioning a sponge forest in a lake, it's for a good reason: they are not that common in lakes!” Hampton notes with enthusiasm, “So here you are in this incredibly cold lake at fairly high latitude, and underwater, this sponge forest looks more like the Caribbean than the subarctic!  It is really like a freshwater Galapagos in the midst of Siberia.”

It doesn’t take much prodding to get information out of Hampton when it comes to the lake! Her abounding awe and reverence for one of Mother Nature’s most unique wonders is completely apparent. Unfortunately, according to Hampton and other experts, all this is about to change forever. Global warming has had a strong impact on the lake, and is threatening its incredibly unique life forms that evolved to live only in extreme cold. A multi-generational study involving careful and repeated sampling over six decades was recently reported in the journal Global Change Biology showing that the lake’s temperatures is rising dangerously fast. Hampton, who participated in the study, notes that the lake was expected to be among those most resistant to climate change, due to its tremendous volume and unique water circulation. But unfortunately, that does not appear to be the case.

“So many organisms in and around Lake Baikal have evolved only in Lake Baikal, and they are very well-adapted to an extremely cold environment that is covered by ice for much of the year. More than half of the animals in Baikal are not found anywhere else! Lake Baikal has been around for 25 million years, so there has been plenty of time for organisms to evolve to its special environment - the warming associated with climate change is very abrupt, and it's not clear whether or how these special organisms can adapt to a rapidly warming lake,” Hampton explains.

Already there has been a rise in more common water organisms in the lake—a sight that does not bode well for the lakes original inhabitants.

“We know that Siberia is one of the most rapidly warming regions of the world - the air temperature in Siberia has warmed at a rate that is about twice that of the average global rate of temperature increase. So when we approached this work with the Lake Baikal temperature data, we knew that the lake would have been exposed to a greater ambient temperature increase than lakes in other regions, but I certainly will admit to being surprised that the lake had warmed so rapidly since 1946. Why is it warming so much faster than the air? The answer probably involves ice,” Hampton explains.

“Ice is a very prominent feature of life on Lake Baikal. Ice normally starts taking over the lake in January and it doesn't leave until May or June - so, life goes on in Lake Baikal under ice for nearly half the year!  The top predator in the lake, the Baikal seal, raises its pups on ice in the winter in snow caves, fishing for food in the lake water by using holes in the ice. Under the ice, algae  (the microscopic plants at the base of the food web) that are found only in Lake Baikal, are well-adapted to achieve their greatest productivity while there is still thick, but clear, spring ice on the lake.  So, both the top and the bottom of the food web in Baikal are very well adapted to long icy winters - this dependence on ice by the top and bottom of the food web is not common in lakes.”

She continues, “We know from previous work, published by other researchers, that the ice is staying on the lake for a shorter time period now than it used to. When ice lasted longer in the past, it kept the lake insulated from air temperature changes for a longer portion of the year. Now that there is less ice, the water is warming faster. This is what other researchers also found on Lake Superior just last year. So, we can expect the lake to get warmer and warmer, as the ice lasts for a shorter time each year.”

But what about the humans in the region? Even if the aquatic resident’s of Lake Baikal can’t thrive in the warmer weather, aren’t the nearby human settlements looking forward to a respite from the bitter cold that global warming may offer? Again, Hampton explains that the issue is a lot more complicated than most of us realize.

“Some of the harshest winters of the century occurred within living memory for many Siberians, and it is easy to understand why Russians might welcome a longer growing season in Siberia. However, one big concern, as the air temperature increases, will be the deterioration of infrastructure as permafrost melts and the ground shifts under buildings and around pipes or other structures laid in the ground,” she explains, “Also, there are villages around Lake Baikal that can only be reached by water during the summer and by travel over the ice in winter - when ice is too thin for travel, but too thick for a boat, those villages are cut off from each other and from the main roads, so there will be societal impacts for some of these isolated villages where winter is already a pretty tough time of year.”

In other words, climate change will likely have a negative impact on the human population as well. As far as the lake itself goes, Hampton points out that she’s not alone in her concern.

“Russia, and many people are concerned for its welfare. A conservation organization called the Baikal Environmental Wave received a prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize this year, and there has been good community involvement in environmental issues surrounding the lake in recent years.”

But awareness alone can’t save the grand dame’s biodiversity, nor other fragile habitats around the globe. It will take action too. But what can we ordinary people do to make any kind of real difference? Climate change expert Thomas Reichler, who was not involved in the study, told The Daily Galaxy that combating global warming starts with simple daily choices that everyone makes. You don’t have to change the world all by yourself, just change your own actions and let your example inspire other to do the same, he says. Things as simple as choosing to “drive smaller cars, drive less, and insulate your house well. Things like this can make a difference.”

Posted by Rebecca Sato.

If you liked this article, please give it a quick review on Digg, Reddit, or StumbleUpon.Thanks!

Related Galaxy posts:

The Crisis is Coming: How Peak Water Could Reshape Civilization
The “Little Ice Age” Argument Makes a Comeback: Abrupt Climate Change Goes Both Ways, Warns Scientist
Ancient Antarctic Lake Exploration

Reports Warn that Climate Change & Eco-migration Could Lead to Increased Warfare
Are Global Warming Models Accurately Predicting Our Future? New Study Reveals the Answer—A Galaxy Interview
World's Oldest Living Microbes May Cast Light on Aging & Life on Mars
Ancient Antarctic Microbes Revived in Lab
"Hunt for the Red October" Revives -Russia Challenges West Under Arctic Ice

 

National Science Foundation Link:
http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=111511&org=olpa&from=news

Comments

....United States' Great Lakes?

I was unaware that they had taken Canada's half of them. I guess i'm a bit out of the loop.

More alarmist propaganda... Rebecca needs a dose of reality and less "toe the line environmentalism" bullshit.

To these people the real enemy is humans and the only solution is for humans to un-inhabit the Earth. Except them of course. You know the ones that collect a fat government paycheck to go "study" these pristine places then tell us all how "bad" we all are using a willing media like The Daily Galaxy...

Anarchy and chaos does not a "clean" Earth make yet these fools are doing everything possible to make this happen.

Why doesnt someone else spend about 5 seconds doing some research on Rebecca Sato. You will quickly see she is a partisan mouthpiece with more Liberal ideaology than Karl Marx. She belongs to every leftist orginization known and is an enemy of America and our way of life.

This person has ZERO business writing anything on a science website yet here she is week after week pouring out leftist propaganda like Al Gore's little biatch...

Time to shut down these seditious little propaganda machines.

Great emotional appeal, but where is the data about this warming lake? What do they call a significant increase in temperature? How have the ice-melt dates changed over the years? A simple table of data can show much more than an entire page of teary-eyed prose.

So the arguments against Global Warming in Siberia are; Some pipes might burst and we have to replace some roads and/or building, and we might have to build a bridge or take a boat to a remote town? THAT is the best argument she can make against Siberia warming. That doesn't sound like people are going to die. Sounds like a little change to get better weather and a longer growing season which is better for everyone. She seems to have missed the cost/benefit analysis class in college. I don't want to see all the creature die but at least make a better argument.

So... what did the lake do for the last few major climate change events. Don't tell me these people believe this is the first temperature change a 25 million year old lake has ever endured.

Global warming?
This article failed to mention the other environmental concerns about the great lake:

Baykalsk Pulp and Paper Mill (BPPM) was constructed in 1966 directly on the shore line. The BPPM bleaches its paper with chlorine and discharges the waste into Baikal. Despite numerous protests, the BPPM is still in production. Environmental activists are now struggling to make the pollution less harmful rather than end BPPM's production since a plant shutdown would destroy valuable jobs.

Okay, to all you such as Mitch the Bitch -

If you think Democrats and Al Gore are "Marxists" you're clearly ignorant of Marx.

It's the same old story. The population of the USA is propagandised about the "Left" and Karl Marx and communism that's out to enslave people.

The USA has no real left wing. You have an extremist right wing (republicans) and plain old right wing (Democrats).

I don't hear Democrats calling for the ownership of corporations being passed to its workers. But yeah, that's what a true far-lefter would advocate. So, when people call Democrats far left, it's hard not to laugh.

Americans: educate yourselves!!! The only reason why all these lies and propaganda work is because you're not reading, you're not investigating!!! You're in a totalitarian mindset!!! WAKE YOURSELVES UP!!!

I'd just like to say that the only thing that i get from reading your cinical comments is that you're trying to defend or excuse your guilty consciences. I don't think in reality anyone could know what will happen with global warming -but there's no harm in being sensitive and changing your way of life a little - who knows what we might save or fix. Being active now is more usefull than regretting you ignorant decisions later. shut up and let the people who want to help get on with it.

Cant they put a machine that would regulate the temperature of the water? Hope that is possible..

Canada is just another state that we prefer to neglect - get in the loop!

Mitch the Bitch, if you hate this site and its writers so much then why do you always come here and read their stuff? Daily Galaxy has written about a lot of different climate change theories on this site on both sides of the argument.

This particular article however was about a reputable study that was funded by a US Government agency. I hardly think you can call this extreme leftist ideology. Last time I checked our government was about as neo-conservative, right wing as it could possibly be, so if that's your argument then you sound pretty stupid.

Dan, sounds like you didn't go to college at all. If thawing permafrost makes it impossible for entire settlements to be reached that will obviously have a devastating effect. I don't think a little extra sunshine is going to make up for having their entire way of life and infrastructure destroyed. You're not too bright, are you?

Mitch, do you work for ExxonMobil? Just curious because ExxonMobil regularly hires people to write articles that undercut global warming. It's unethical, but apparently not illegal. Or maybe you're just one of the poor saps who bought into their bilge? Either way, its pretty pathetic.

Nice article though. Sounds like a another beautiful piece of Earth's heritage that's worth preserving.

I wonder how the lake did before the last ice age??? you know... when it was WARM?

Never mind the Wonderful creatures that went extinct when the lake turned cold?

Get a grip lady... Please?

Glen, are you joking? You make it sound like the last major Ice Age was a week ago, rather than many millions of years ago. You're the one that needs to go get a grip on reality.

Man-made changes like pollution, habitat destruction and greenhouse gases are all contributing to the largest mass extinction of plant and animal species across the globe since the dinosaurs died off. Only this time we are around to be a part of the cycle, and it will affect us too. Another thing you fail to mention is that this current extinction phase is caused largely by humans, and could be prevented.

But apparently people like you would rather stick your head in your butt than help make a positive difference.

Good for you, if you conscience lets you get away with it, but at least have the decency to keep your snide, ignorant comments to yourself.

Actually, if you go back and look at some of the other postings by Mitch the Troll it's always basically the same thing. A lot of name-calling and reference to conspiracies, with no real content except vitriol. I don't know if he's being paid to do this, or if he's just a sad shadow of a person, but what he IS, either way, is a troll. Not worth the oxygen required to read or reply. Frankly, I could write an Eliza-like computer program to post for him, and I bet it'd pass the turing test.

"WAKE UP AMERICAN! WAKE UP STUPID CONSERVATIVES! GO DO RESEARCH AT XYZ WEBSITE! EDUCATE YOURSELVES WITH OUR PROPAGANDA! WAKE UP! WAKE UP!" Haha, I'd be a millionaire if I received a penny every time I've heard/read some dogmatic, arrogant, narrow-minded environmentalist liberal spout those words. Now, my reply to those who consider it a foregone conclusion that man-made global warming is true...

I haven't heard of many people who deny Global Climate Change. I have heard quite a few who don't believe in man-made Global Warming. They're 2 different subjects. Global Climate Change has been happening since the dawn of time and there are histories in the geological and ice core record to prove it. Also, we know about these things called ice ages. Global Warming is a type of climate change, but that doesn't mean that it must be man-made. Just a few hundred years ago there was a mini-warming in Europe, where England made some of the best wines.

The tough part is proving that current trends in global temperature are man-made. Even though the trend does correlate to an increase in CO2 emissions over the last 150 years, correlation does not equal causation. Also, there are problems with the data. During the period of drastic industrialization after WWII through the 70's, when CO2 emissions were skyrocketing, global temperatures were falling.

So when you make a statement that you can't believe there are people who deny Global Climate Change (and I assume you're referring to man-made global warming from your context), I would argue that anyone who doesn't question large spans of data which disprove the theory is ignoring the scientific method for political ends.

Six thousand years ago, the earth was so much warmer than today, that Siberia was a rainforest. The peat that has been melting out of the frozen ground of Siberia, today, threatening to release carbon dioxide and methane, was then grassland and forests of trees from that era, lie under the ice. This story is ridiculous, because obviously Baikal has survived far warmer eras than the tepid climate of recent years. Of course it was kind of cold, this year...
Obviously, if some animals can't adapt to today's temperature, it is because those species are relatively recent arrivals, and only evolved to a heat intolerant form, or moved in, there, in the last five thousand years.

If the lake survived the Soviet era, it will survive anything.

I don't have the knowledge, or time to acquire it, to self-determine if global climate change is anthropogenic or otherwise. Nor does any other lay person. So, I have two options:

1. I accept that there's a 'liberal / Marxist' conspiracy theory, as put forward by a small, but noisy, group who are congregated mainly in bible belt, conservative, Republican USA. They tell me "nothing to worry about, it's all lies... have you seen the 2008 Cadillac Escalade? Shweet!"

2. I accept what virtually every respectable scientist on the planet(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_opinion_on_climate_change) is saying: humans are rapidly changing the climate of the earth. And if we continue raping the only planet we have to live on, pumping fossil fuel waste in to the atmosphere, very soon billions of us are going to struggle to feed and water ourselves. Not to mention the massive species extinction that is taking place as I type this....

One is right, the other is wrong.

I cannot be certain which - but the choice of who to believe is really, really easy. Anyone picking (1) is so many types of stupid, words don't suffice.

If I may, scientists once believed that the earth was the center of the universe and medical science suggested that the way to cure disease was by bloodletting. Advances in science and medicine proved that these ideas were non-sense.

Attempts by environmental groups and some scientists (who may be as politically motivated as the environmentalists) to dismiss all those who cast doubt on their theory of man-made global warming as Bible Belt-dwelling, fundamentalist, capitalistic Republican are not only arrogant and narrow-minded, they are short-sighted and foolish. A theory is not pushed into accepted fact by silencing skeptics and scornfully dismissing them as Neanderthals. These individuals who accuse George Bush's administration of "group-think" regarding the decision to go to war with Iraq are the same individuals who are engaging in "group-think" of their own... after all, they can't be wrong! These same individuals who accused George Bush of engaging in binary thinking... where everything is black or white... right or wrong... this way or the highway... are doing the same thing in regards to the theory of man-made global warming... you either are an evil, selfish earth-hating pig who disagrees or questions the theory of man-made global warming or an angelic, veggie-eating, tree-hugging environmentalist.

Unfortunately, if it turns out that mankind is not responsible for global warming, science and environmentalists will have shot themselves in the foot and will have severely damaged not only their own credibility, but the credibility of science and the importance of being good stewards of this earth.

I am not saying that man, without a shadow of a doubt, is not at least partially responsible for global warming. I am saying that I, along with many others, question that conclusion that many environmentalists and some scientists assume to be fact.

A wonderful report on Lake Baikal! I recall being on the lake in 1988 as the former Soviet Union was beginning to break up, and being given the honor (as a former US naval officer) to take the wheel of the research craft our delegation was on. The lake and its environs are a veritable laboratory of Earth history. I still have the small stone millions of year old that the head of a geological lab presented to me. UNESCO and other concerned organizations need our attention to preserve as much of that area's life's record as possible. Paul Von Ward

Hubble: "...scientists once believed that the earth was the center of the universe..."

No, that was the religious again. They believed it because it said so in their 'infallible' holy book. Religion has been attempting to stifle scientific progress for centuries, much of it on pain of death. Galileo was on the receiving end of that with his advancement of a heliocentric earth. It took over 400 years before the Holy Roman Catholic Church apologised for that and admitted the earth moved around the sun!

It seems a percentage of those denying the reality of anthropogenic climate change are religiously-motivated because some god gave them dominion over all plant and animals. There is also certainly a few whack jobs who are just waiting for the rapture, so frying the planet is cool with them.

Then there's the evident USA-centric Republicans who live by the creed 'greed is good'. As long as they can buy the latest Hummer and fill the tank for $30, the world is in good shape.

"...if it turns out that mankind is not responsible for global warming, science and environmentalists will have shot themselves in the foot and will have severely damaged not only their own credibility..."

You're suggesting that the 'reputation' of scientists is of equal importance to making sure the planet remains habitable? Are you thinking before you type?

Judging from what you and others here, such as 'Mitch Bitch', have written, you need to read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_method. Pay particular attention to the section on 'Peer review evaluation'.

As I've already pointed out, virtually every scientist on the planet disagrees with your evidence-free assertions: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_opinion_on_climate_change.

How do you dismiss all of that evidence? It's a global conspiracy involving thousands of scientists in dozens of countries in hundreds of universities and research facilities? They're all colluding just to get grant money?

Or maybe all of those thousands of scientists around the planet have made a mistake? Whereas, a handful of scientists, politicians and very vocal non-scientists, congregated almost entirely in oil-loving USA, have the truth? Hmmm.

It's an easy choice for any rational person.

"No, that was the religious again. They believed it because it said so in their 'infallible' holy book. Religion has been attempting to stifle scientific progress for centuries, much of it on pain of death. Galileo was on the receiving end of that with his advancement of a heliocentric earth. It took over 400 years before the Holy Roman Catholic Church apologised for that and admitted the earth moved around the sun!"

Ha, I want you to show me where in Scripture it says that earth is in the center of the universe. I'll save you some time and tell you, nowhere in Scripture does it ever say that the earth was the center of the universe. That was merely the scientific thought of the day. Now, perhaps science was influenced by the religious authorities (aka the Catholic Church) and scientific progress was slowed by this. But for many centuries, anyone who identified themselves as a "scientist" believed that the earth was the center of the universe.

It strikes me that nowadays, scientists are no longer held under the sway of institutionalized religion, but some of them (particularly those who advocate the theory of man-made global warming) seem to have instead adopted the practice of pushing agendas... particularly the environmentalist agenda. Those scientists who disagree with the theory of man-made global warming are vilified and ridiculed, almost in a manner that the Catholic Church vilified those scientists who stated that the earth was not in the center of the universe. Fortunately, these skeptics haven't been executed or physically persecuted... yet. Funny isn't it, that after all these centuries, scientists will find themselves in the middle of agendas, by choice or not.

"It seems a percentage of those denying the reality of anthropogenic climate change are religiously-motivated because some god gave them dominion over all plant and animals. There is also certainly a few whack jobs who are just waiting for the rapture, so frying the planet is cool with them."

Once again, you completely dismiss the reasonable arguments by some scientists and others who are skeptical of the theory of man-made global warming. It is easy to simply lump all skeptics and dissenters of your theory as "whack jobs" who want to "fry the planet" or "USA-centric Republicans who live by the creed 'greed is good'". If it is easier for you to engage in wrong-headed generalizations

"You're suggesting that the 'reputation' of scientists is of equal importance to making sure the planet remains habitable? Are you thinking before you type?"

"Are you thinking before you type?" Typical provocative arrogance from many such advocates of man-made global warming :) I thought that you might have been above making silly statements like that, since for a while, you seemed to be logical and cool headed. Oh well.

"Judging from what you and others here, such as 'Mitch Bitch', have written, you need to read http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_method. Pay particular attention to the section on 'Peer review evaluation'."

You stated in your first response that "I don't have the knowledge, or time to acquire it, to self-determine if global climate change is anthropogenic or otherwise. Nor does any other lay person." Either you were misrepresenting yourself or you are not a scientist, but merely a "lay person" regarding this matter. Your pejorative statements about "USA-centric Republicans" and "infallible holy book" and Christian "whack jobs" makes it clear your seemingly personal biases against many of those who are skeptical of your theory of man-made global warming. You are essentially willing to take the word of scientists who have made statements that they believe that global warming is caused by man, but from what you've said, you really haven't examined the evidence yourself. You're just willing to go along with what some scientists are saying. That's like Christians simply believing whatever their pastor says... without actually reading and trying to understand Scripture for themselves.

"It's an easy choice for any rational person."

You claim rationality, but so do those who are skeptical of your theory, including some respected scientists and authorities on trends in climate change. What I do think is _rational_ is this: that two people can look at the same evidence and come to two different conclusions. You and I live in the same world and have very different worldviews. Don't you think it is at all possible that people can have different opinions or come to different conclusions when witnessing the same event? Or are you too stuck on that binary thinking to recognize that? For you, man-made global warming is a foregone conclusion... especially because it may fit an environmentalist agenda (if you have one) and because some scientists have said so. However, there are people like me, who don't necessarily take some scientist's word on the matter and have either done some scientific research and have found evidence that negates your theory, or have done some reading and thinking and remain skeptical of your theory.

Like I said before, I am not saying that man, without a shadow of a doubt, is not at least partially responsible for global warming. I am saying that I, along with many others, question that conclusion that many environmentalists and some scientists assume to be fact.

I totally agree that if its been here all that time its been through much more then we could ever imagine. Just maybe it thrives on the changes in nature and extremes in temperature may be the reason it has survived so many years, maybe it has an evolution or rebirth of its own......:o). But, it not, then God help us!

For those of you who are global warming skeptics, or skeptics of the human contributions to global warming and climate change, I have a few comments.

The US Naval Research labs just published a study refuting the claims by many climate change skeptics that solar activity and associated cosmic rays are the cause of global warming in the last 100 years. http://www.reuters.com/article/environmentNews/idUSN2359052220080423?rpc=64

This is the third recent study that I'm aware of, by independent labs, refuting this cornerstone of the GW skeptics' handbook. The second is discussed here, with links to the first:
http://greenchemistry.wordpress.com/2008/04/03/sun-activity-not-linked-to-climate-change/

It is a simple fact that what s viewed as "left" in the US isn't close in ideology to being "leftist" anywhere else in the world.

There are a lot of snide and bitter criticisms posted here that are all based on political arguments. As parts of the so-called religious right have realized by recently, or even not so recently, supporting efforts to combat GW, this is not a political issue.

No matter how much you might like to believe otherwise, the vast majority of scientists in the US and around the world believes in human causes of modern global warming. This was communicated to me recently by a high official in the National Science Foundation. He wasn't passing judgment or picking sides, just telling me facts as he knew them.

Thanks for the article, Rebecca!

Hubble: "Ha, I want you to show me where in Scripture it says that earth is in the center of the universe."

Psalm 104:5: "the Lord set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved". You can find many more at http://www.geocentricbible.com/. For someone who has every appearance of a xian, I'm surprised you don't know these things. However, let's not get side-tracked by bronze age ramblings in some 'holy' book.

I notice after much meandering verbiage, various fallacious arguments, demonstration of your persecution fantasies, demonstration of poor reading comprehension, and presentation of zero evidence, you conveniently avoid the simple question I posed.

Here it is again:

Virtually every scientist on the planet agrees that human activity is causing catastrophic global climate change - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_opinion_on_climate_change.

How do you dismiss all of that evidence? Do you think it's a massive global conspiracy involving thousands of scientists in dozens of countries in hundreds of universities and research facilities? They're all somehow colluding just to get grant money?

Or maybe all those thousands of scientists around the planet have independently made the same mistake? Whereas, a handful of scientists, politicians and very vocal non-scientists, congregated almost entirely in oil-loving USA, have the truth?

Actually, I'll make it a rhetorical question. You've demonstrated your irrationality already.

Fortunately, climate change denial is meeting with as much success as denial of evolution....

This blog broke the URL. Here it is again:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scientific_opinion_on_climate_change

MA:

If Wikipedia is all you have to reference, you're in no position to be the topic's arbiter. By posting a link with so many sources, it appears you've merely skimmed a list and read none of the full reports. You write as though you're referencing Al Gore's movie, your friends and family, and a selection of 300 word long newspaper articles.

I believe you're correct that global warming is a human influenced phenomenon. However, your continual slander of the church, which is an unrelated topic, discredits your posts. There are plenty of instances where religious ideology does harm, but I fail to see how global warming is one of them. Perhaps your anger is misdirected.

PM,

Hopefully no one noticed that you're attacking the source, which is irrelevant, rather than the content, otherwise you'd look a bit silly.

Don't shoot the messenger, dude. The anti-science stupidity of the USA xian cabal is everywhere: climate change, evolution, stem cell, efficacy of prayer, the planet is 6000 years old, etc, etc. It's the gift of dumb that keeps on giving.

@ MA: "Psalm 104:5: "the Lord set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved". You can find many more at http://www.geocentricbible.com/. For someone who has every appearance of a xian, I'm surprised you don't know these things. However, let's not get side-tracked by bronze age ramblings in some 'holy' book."

Dear MA, regarding this, it's rather clear that you are simply going off of that website's interpretation of that verse... a website which is clearly pushing an agenda that the Bible is "geocentric". The verse, quite literally, means that God created the earth and that earth will not be destroyed until the time for its destruction by God comes to pass. It says absolutely nothing about the earth being the center of the universe.

You casually dismiss the bulk of my statements as "meandering verbiage" and "various fallacious arguments"... but it seems that you are conveniently avoiding addressing them.

As someone who hasn't completely dismissed the viability of human involvement of this global warming trend but has some strong reservations and skepticism about throwing my hat in the ring, I was hoping to get a civil debate from someone informed regarding this. Instead, I got a lot of vitriolic statements questioning my intelligence, my thinking capacity, and my reading ability. To use your own words, I also received a lot of "meandering verbiage" attacking Christians and Scripture as well as statements merely dismissing my questions/arguments instead of addressing them.

In science, the burden of proof falls upon the claimant. As one who is pushing the theory of man-made global warming, it is up to you to provide the proof to support the theory which you have so enthusiastically embraced. I received no such proof from you... only a Wikipedia link to a page of cursory statements of scientific opinion, not evidence. So if anyone is guilty of presenting zero evidence, it would be you.

If your method of "winning over" people to your cause is by insulting and attacking them personally, instead of engaging in something approximating a civil debate where facts are presented, then I wish you luck :) You're going to end up turning a lot of people away from your cause... people who don't necessarily have absolute faith in scientists' statements of opinions.

Good day.

---------------

As for James Bashkin's post, thank you for being civil. I will take a look at the informative links that you have provided and may post a response later. Thanks!

Hubble,

You're now employing the old creationist trick: demanding absolute proof of a highly complex issue, in a few paragraphs in the comments on a website, while claiming persecution and intolerance.

The Wikipedia link, which you so easily hand wave off, provides referenced statements from a wide-ranging selection of scientific bodies. If you suspect their veracity, go do some research. I have and I'm satisfied they are authentic.

The statements originate from thousands of talented people who have dedicated collectively hundreds of years studying the climate of this planet. They are in consensus. There are many other sources on the web - seek and ye shall find. Hot tip: pay more attention to sources like NASA, Princeton, Oxford, Zurich, Tokyo and not so much to places like Bob Jones University, Fox News or people like Mike Huckabee.

I've also researched many, many claims from the Denial Gang and they always fail to impress. They produce a motley crew of xian scientists, sometimes on the payroll of oil corporations, who claim persecution by 'Big Science' because no one will listen to them - much the same as Ben Stein tried, and failed, with 'Expelled'.

Note: the fact that you have not performed any of this research for yourself, with abundant resources available on the web, makes me suspicious that you are not as eager and open to learning as you claim - I've been on the receiving end of that ploy many times. However, if you are genuine, good luck working out reality from neocon spin.

I personally don't think the lake is in trouble, as it is going to get through this rather easily.

This comment section is badly in need of a moderator.

Lake Baikal is one of the wonders of nature. Clearly the long-term effects of these water quality changes is not exactly known, but there is a long and well documented history of how humans tend to "foul-their-own-nest". One of the key points of this study is that scientists are surprised by the rapid water quality changes in such a large mass of water over a short period of time.

As for climate change, it is clear there exists on earth a natural temperature oscillation the origins of which are not yet understood. It has become increasingly obvious that the activities of humans will tend to dampen any tendencies towards a decreasing temperature and add to any tendencies towards an increasing temperature.

Hey MA:

I'm really just stunned by the way you are responding to Hubble. He's in the same boat that I am in: skeptical that human activity is causing global warming, but willing to be persuaded that it is true.

I can tell you that I have some first hand experience in the matter. In the course of my graduate education (in Computer Science), I worked for the Navy developing models for current flow in coastal regions. This is not particularly noteworthy, except for the fact that these models are rather inaccurate. The same types of models that I helped make--and I worked on ones that were cutting edge--are the models that scientists use to do long term predictions about the earth's climate...at least for the oceanic circulation component. I can only conclude, that the climate change models are not likely to be accurate.

Therefore, I have reasons to doubt the accuracy of Global Climate Change models. This is nothing personal: it is not an attack on you. I simply believe that that Global Climate Change computer models are not nearly as accurate as some scientists think (keep in mind, many meteorologists are likely to know as little about the math and implementation of the computer models as I know about the atmosphere).

So do my doubts make me a xian (whatever that is)? Do they make me a Christian? I don't understand how you can attack with so much vitriol. Why not attack with a valid argument? I've told you, as succinctly as I can, why I am not convinced. As Hubble said, the burden of proof is on the one who would offer a new theory. Do you have any evidence to overcome my objections?

-Dan

PS I am something of a pedant, so let me offer this: Heliocentric theory is very much NOT the preserve of the Roman Church, unless you claim that Ptolemy was a Catholic. Copernicus had to overcome the opinion established by the Almagest, not by the church.

Rebecca:
What would be interesting, and it might lend some integrity to your article and negate the proposition that you are just towing a line or seeking to put in print something that may cause publicity for your web site, would be if you actually responded to some of the comments here. Even Mitch, in his 'flailing blindly' sort of way, has some valid points. And besides that: Is it true that the place where this lake now exists and now so badly depends on cold weather wasn't once (or many times) in it's natural life a much warmer place? Yes or No?

Ignoring all the trolls out here who think this is reactionary propaganda, wake up you idiots and read some climate books. Go educate yourselves in meteorology, geology, and other such Earth sciences, and then actually investigate the climate change data for yourselves.

Moving on, my major issue here is that Lake Baikal has seen warmer temperatures then what we have now. It was formed in the mid eocene, it must have seen global temperatures warm up to over 5 degrees higher then now. Yet, life in the lake adapted. Although anthropogenic global warming is true, and cannot be debated, the fact that it will lead to a point where life in the lake won't recover is absurd. The diversity is due to all the environmental changes that have occurred int he past. They may have caused local extinction events, but those would be followed by a bloom of new adapted species diversity.

"WAKE YOU IDIOTS AND READ SOME CLIMATE BOOKS! GO AND ACTUALLY EDUCATE YOURSELVES!"

Do you think calling people who question the theory of man-made global warming names and insulting them is an effective way of getting your message across? It's about as effective as MA's bitter rants against Christians and "USA-centric Republicans".

Do people like you and MA get prize money from your environmental organizations for being generally rude and offensive, not to mention dismissive?

anarcholis,

I've posted a lengthy response which has been held for moderation (presumably due to number of URLs) - hopefully it will appear soon.

Hi Dave, since I'm not an expert on Lake Baikal, I referred your question back to Stephanie Hampton with NCEAS. She is an expert on the lake. Here is her response to the argument that since there have been other climate changes in the last 25 million years, we shouldn't worry about preserving current biological diversity because it will just be replaced by new species:

"My first reaction is that like a lot of issues surrounding climate change, warming is happening much faster than it happened in the past. We know from paleo evidence that warming has changed biological communities dramatically when arctic and subarctic lakes have warmed in the past. In addition, right now there are other anthropogenic stressors that threaten the lake while it is already changing in response to warming - for example, hunting/poaching or other human factors bring seal numbers to lower numbers, while warming reduces ice cover. So there are probably some synergisms among stressors that those interested in conservation will need to consider. Re: the comment about adaptation, it is important to bear in mind that diversification happens in geologic time, meaning that our great-great-great-grandchildren won't see a 'bloom' of new species develop."

If I understand Hampton correctly, it seems a little naive to have an attitude of "species die off all of the time, so who cares?" Humans should care because we could also be impacted by the current extinction phase.

An analysis published last year in the journal Nature, shows that it takes 10 million years before biological diversity even begins to approach what existed before a die-off, so the argument that "it'll come back sooner or later" is fuzzy logic if you're talking about a time frame that is in any way meaningful to the humans currently living on the planet and their future descendants. But if you don't care at all how humans fit into the equation, nor our current quality of life, then you're absolutely right to take comfort in the fact that in millions of years the biodiversity will again be comparable to what it is today-even if we manage to kill off most of the life forms on Earth, including ourselves in the next century.

Over 10,000 scientists in the World Conservation Union have compiled data showing that currently 51 per cent of known reptiles, 52 per cent of known insects, and 73 per cent of known flowering plants are in danger along with many mammals, birds and amphibians.

Of course, climate change is just one part of the equation, which involves other factors like pollution and habitat destruction. It is likely that many species will become extinct before they are even discovered, before any medicinal use or other important features can be assessed. The cliché movie plot where the cure for cancer is about to be annihilated is more real than anyone would like to imagine.

Research done by the American Museum of Natural History found that most biologists believe that mass extinction poses a colossal threat to human existence, and is even more serious of an environmental problem than one of its contributors- global warming. The research also found that the average person woefully underestimates the dangers of mass extinction.

The eminent Harvard biologist Edward O Wilson, (http://www.eowilson.org/) and other scientists have pointed out that the world needs international cooperation in order to sustain ecosystems for the overall good of mankind.

Powerful industrial lobbies would like people to believe that we can survive while other species are quickly and quietly dying off. Irresponsible governments and businesses would have people believe that we don’t need a healthy planet to survive- even while human cancer rates are tripling every decade.

If you would like to read more about this current biocide, I wrote about it here:

http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2007/05/biocid_bigger_t.html

and it was also featured on Reuters here:

http://today.reuters.com/News/ArticleBlog.aspx?type=scienceNews&w1=B7ovpm21IaDoL40ZFnNfGe&w2=B80EKKDZW7XjzuNGrifTUKY&src=blogBurst_scienceNews&bbPostId=B4Hj78ZQkrFHCz48ED92G5hvRBABt6Edw43cZBC0ObUANxmbU

as the mods haven't passed the original, I've edited so that URLs are no longer recognised - you'll need to copy / paste and '.' in the obvious place:


anarcholis,

Like so many others you seem to be asking that I produce irrefutable proof, by way of comments on a blog, that demonstrates with absolute certainty anthropogenic climate change. That's ridiculous. It's also the same dishonest tactic used by creationists with regards evolution, which I've encountered many times before. However, I'm repeating myself - which you must be aware of if you've read my comments to date - which makes me wonder why you wrote much of what you did.

You put forward: "...models for current flow in coastal regions ... are rather inaccurate. The same types of models ... scientists use to do long term predictions about the earth's climate...at least for the oceanic circulation component. I can only conclude, that the climate change models are not likely to be accurate."

First, you won't find a respectable scientist on the planet that claims climate change modelling is an exact science - it's constantly evolving and being refined, although some are claiming very good accuracy (tinyurl com/24tnvp ). However, the overwhelming scientific consensus is that the planet has been heating up and will continue to do so because of human activity - I assume I don't need to provide the same link *again*, do I?

Second, your unreliable coastal current flow model does not negate the multi-faceted mountain of data that points to anthropogenic climate change.

You seem to be suggesting that some people are incapable of using Google. OK, I'll play along: tinyurl com/4d4zho . Further, royalsociety org/page.asp?id=6229 dispels most of the 'arguments' I've read in this thread. As before, I'm suspicious of the sincerity of people who claim they need this information spoon fed to them.

Even without the argument for global climate change, the ongoing mass species extinction that humans are responsible for (I assume no one will attempt to dispute this?!) is reason enough for us to start changing the way we manage the planet.

I have suggested that the denial of anthropogenic climate change appears to originate almost exclusively as a USA-centric, politico-religious argument. Evidently, you and others (are you all right-wing, USA xians (tinyurl com/4lfxkk )?!) don't like that - but lucid arguments against that proposal are conspicuous by their absence - all I see is bleating of "stop being mean to us" - and the usual selection of ad hominem. My reply is "don't shoot the messenger, dude". Also, if you want to see the science-free, mob-mentality, xian Taliban propaganda in full swing, take a look at tinyurl com/3h273g .

As an aside, this is one of those topics that draw the irrational and rabid, where reading comprehension and logical thought are severely lacking. 'Supercal...', above, being a perfect example - he has responded to Helioprogenus, thinking that Helioprogenus is on 'my' side, when in fact he is clearly not. Supercal then goes on a content-free rant, directed at one of his own. That's the level of intellect that often appears in these 'debates' and the reason I have little patience or expectation of 'in good faith' argument.

Finally, I see two options (simplified and exaggerated, but still valid, to make a point):

1. join the denial gang or sit on the fence ("the jury is still out") and carry on as we are. Upside = you can drive your Hummer guilt-free. Downside = you wake up in 50 years, all the polar bears are dead, a couple billion people are dead or dying for lack of water or because their homes have been engulfed by a rising sea and there is global conflict over dwindling land and natural resources

2. accept the overwhelming scientific consensus and act now. Upside = there's a habitable planet for the next generation. Downside = you drive a Prius, don't run the A/C 24/7 and don't hop on a plane whenever you feel like it.

It's an easy choice.

I'm sorry I caused your delicate sensibilities to be shattered Supercali......

Your narrow minded views are so obtuse in terms of actual climate change data, that the only attack you can come up with is that I called you names? Who ever said I needed to be polite to ignorant individuals when their delusional needs and hopes are placed ahead of a mountain of scientific data and research. Besides, I doubt you even read the rest of my post, questioning the possible extinction effect that anthropogenic global warming will have on Lake Baikal's species diversity.

You're free to hold on to your limited opinions, but don't expect to come here and get a free ride without having your beliefs questioned when faced with large swaths of correlative data. When people hundreds of years from now look back on our generation, the shock that some people actually continually resisted mounting evidence towards anthropogenic global warming will not be lost on the populace. It's like trying to reason with a creationist. No amount of evidence (until you're drowning in water), will ever convince you otherwise. Oh well, enjoy the swim.

To heck with all the arguments! It has been proven that no increase in temperature occurred from 1996 to 2006. And now all four entities that monitor temp of the planet say it went DOWN 1 deg. C in 2007.
Lower temps would have a much more negative effect on us. We need to burn more oil!

Uh Bob, you should stop making random stuff up. In fact, several of the hottest years on record occurred in this last decade. But yes, there were some colder years mixed in like last years, but that's no reason to ignore the general trend. Plus every region is different. In Australia it was such an unusually hot year that many crops failed which is one reason why so many around the world are going hungry right now.

I also just read an article in The Economic Times stating that GW will kick us where it really hurts by taking away our BEER. That's right, GW is threatening beer supplies. :-(

The Economic Times reported that a global warming trend is threatening the production of hop plants, which are used in breweries for making beer.

Here's an excerpt from the article:

The country's (UK) meteorological office data shows that the country has had unusually hot years since the late 1980s, and that is clearly being felt in hop fields.

"Within the past half-dozen years, warm springs and milder winters began affecting the main varieties. Many hop vines sprouted early, went stagnant and produced little," explained Peter Darby, a hop breeder with Wye Hops in Kent, UK.

Look at all of you Republican asshats falling all over yourselves HAHAH!

OH NO IT'S TEH GLOABL WARMING LEFTIES WHO ARE LYING AND ALSO BLAME CLINTON AND WHERE ARE MY FREEDOM FRIES IT'S ALL A DEMOCRATIC CONSPIRACY ETC

omfg Why Why Why ?? ? ? ? ?
Xd

wtf= ? ?

da skoolel e

MA-

Sorry to delay my response for so long, but I've been busy.

The point I am trying to make is simply this, and I will say it more bluntly: I KNOW for a fact that many oceanographers overestimate the accuracy of ocean models. Often, they fudge their models by mapping existing data to "lines of best fit." These "models" are very accurate for *existing* data, but are not based on real world physics, and therefore have little relation to *future* data. Therefore, most oceanic models become unusably inaccurate in a matter of hours or days into the future. This is not really up for discussion, I know this for a fact. I have seen the models (google search 'Princeton Ocean Model' for some hard core math about one of the more important ocean models out there, and the one I am most familiar with).

Oceanographers are not that interested in math. I just presented my model at the Chesapeake Regional Symposium sponsored by NOAA (my adviser could not be there so I did the presentation myself), and had exactly one (1) person interested in my math and ask me questions about it. Oceanographers do things differently. Therefore, I think that there are a great number of Oceanographers who believe in Global Climate Change and who are basing that assumption on faulty modeling data.

When I was asking you for "proof," I am not looking for absolute proof. I just wanted you to think about how to prove that these models ARE accurate...which you seem not to have done. You went back to your creationist line again. I was thinking more along the lines of scientific papers about the validity of ocean models, not NY Times articles.

Unfortunately, there are no papers claiming that these models are inaccurate, only the papers claiming they are accurate. No one wants to spend a year researching a paper specifically to tear down someone else's work, they'd much rather research something new and productive. Therefore I can't offer you proof of the model's inaccuracy, nor can I offer it to the oceanography community at large. And that is my opinion about why so many scientists signed that most recent ICC document.

I am not arguing that they are wrong, I am simply saying that in my mathematical experience, they are not right. There is an important distinction. I still think it is likely that humanity IS causing global warming, I just think that the proof does not yet exist.

Anyhoo, keep on preaching the global warming gospel, if that is what you so fervently believe. Personally, I think global warming would be great for humanity, think about how much more farmland would be opened up in Canada and Siberia. The side effects of global warming are exaggerated (*cough* AL Gore *cough*) to say the least.

-Dan


Hey Helioprogenus, no need to apologize for something you're not sorry for :) I'm used to reading your condescending, slightly humorous attempts at high-brow from the likes of you and MA. Since I really don't have the time nor desire to engage you in a pointless debate via comment posts that will change none of our minds, I'd just like to say this: I honestly admire the zeal of your preaching, even though I disagree with it.

Anyways, if you must, then fire away! ;)

@ MA: Since you seem to enjoy throwing around links supporting your cause of anthropogenic global warming and you've encouraged me to "do research" on the matter (as if I already haven't, considering I've come to my conclusion that anthropogenic global warming is theory, not fact), I'd like to put forth a few links of respected individuals, organizations, and scientists who question or refute your theory, as well as a link describing the "global warming conspiracy theory":

http://www.cato.org/pubs/regulation/regv15n2/reg15n2g.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Global_warming_skeptics
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_scientists_opposing_the_mainstream_scientific_assessment_of_global_warming
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Global_warming_conspiracy_theory

Mock, belittle, cajole, dismiss me, "USA-centric republicans", bible-toting "fundamentalist" Christians, and my arguments all you like, but it doesn't change the reality that there are many individuals, scientists, and non-partisan organizations out there with independent minds, who have looked at the same data that scientists preaching the anthropogenic global warming gospel have looked at, and disagree with or question what you have considered as irrefutable fact.

Good day!

I think that comments (in this thread, primarily MA) made by many advocates of man-made global warming often get in the way of their agenda, but taking the focus less on the urgency of their mission and putting the focus upon their sometimes arrogant, bigoted misconceptions and statements. In effect, they cause people to be driven away from the potential truth of their statements simply because they had act in a disrespectful and rude manner.

If you are trying to sell an idea, being generally rude and nasty towards potential "buyers" of the idea is definitely much less effective than being polite and focusing on inspiring them, instead of tearing them down. Of course, if the you don't really care about the effectiveness of your "pitch", then go ahead and wildly hurl incendiary insults to and fro... just don't be surprised to have nasty reactions to it and rejection of your ideas, which can't afford to turn people away.

Quote from Freeman Dyson, theoretical physicist and and mathematician on global warming in the New York Review of Books:

"Environmentalism has replaced socialism as the leading secular religion. And the ethics of environmentalism are fundamentally sound. Scientists and economists can agree with Buddhist monks and Christian activists that ruthless destruction of natural habitats is evil and careful preservation of birds and butterflies is good. The worldwide community of environmentalists -- most of whom are not scientists -- holds the moral high ground, and is guiding human societies toward a hopeful future. . . .

Unfortunately, some members of the environmental movement have also adopted as an article of faith the belief that global warming is the greatest threat to the ecology of our planet. That is one reason why the arguments about global warming have become bitter and passionate. Much of the public has come to believe that anyone who is skeptical about the dangers of global warming is an enemy of the environment. The skeptics now have the difficult task of convincing the public that the opposite is true. Many of the skeptics are passionate environmentalists. They are horrified to see the obsession with global warming distracting public attention from what they see as more serious and more immediate dangers to the planet, including problems of nuclear weaponry, environmental degradation, and social injustice. Whether they turn out to be right or wrong, their arguments on these issues deserve to be heard."

finally some information,thanks!

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