Blame C02? - Part. 1 - Concentrations...
This blog partners with another post that discusses the blend of identified gases (C02, N2O, CH3, CloroFluorcarbons CFC's) that have been tagged as the predominant culprits in causing the rise in earth temperatures associated with a process called the "greenhouse effect". (see link). That blog questioned whether the societal efforts to reduce carbon burning was even relevant, considering the fact that a simple recalculation showed that flurocarbons were massively more likely to be the driving force behind this phenomenon than the relatively simpler and weaker C02.
In spite of this, we recognize that the argument will continue to revolve around the atmospheric concentrations of C02 as opposed to the other gases. It is simpler to understand by non scientific masses and it is politically expedient to use our wasteful habits as a leveraging device to follow our politicians' policies while paying the levies that support their own careers and ambitions. Switching our emphasis to flurocarbons at the expense of giving up on our vilification of C02 although logical, simply will not happen.
In fact, today the various mainstream media published an article showing that we have indeed reached new heights in C02 pollution of our atmosphere with readings from Hawaii that show levels reaching 415 parts / million. (see link). It is a very pretty chart showing a clean graph rising uniformly over the past few decades from around 320 ppm to the new "high" of 415 ppm. It's very impressive and is intended to scare the hell out of us. Typical media scare mongering reminds us that this rise is our fault and we must escalate our efforts to reverse the trend back to safe levels because it is the "highest level in human history".
SO, IS IT JUST ME? - I HAVE A NUMBER OF OBSERVATIONS AND OUTRIGHT QUESTIONS ABOUT THIS:
1.) Just because C02 levels have been hovering around 300 for a few hundred thousand years does this mean that 415 is something to actually worry about? We're not going to suffocate and we could respond to changes in climate if we got ourselves in gear and worked on improving our infrastructures. So should we be panicking about the gas instead?
2.) Keep in perspective that our atmosphere isn't actually composed of only C02 - it's there along with a lot of other gaseous materials, and it's ONLY there at a miniscule level of .04%. (other major greenhouse gases are reported at .01%).
3.) Nature makes a lot of carbon dioxide all by itself. For every 33 C02 molecules in our atmosphere 32 of them come from Mother Nature and are beyond our ability to control. Only 1 molecule of C02 comes from man made activity. That's 1/33 of .04% attributed to man!
4.) We keep comparing ourselves to millennias' past. What is even the value of comparing so far back in Earth's history anyway? So what if C02 levels were lower (or higher as Earth has also seen levels of >4000 ppm) as C02 is really only a problem for human populations of today, not the health of the Earth itself. The Earth will survive us, no problem.
5.) Along with that question - how can we be so confident that C02 levels have been reported accurately? I mean, look at the chart below. I may be displaying my ignorance but it's awfully detailed isn't it? All that detail from air bubbles in ice? We're still arguing about how to actually measure global C02 in today's world - how did we possibly come up with numbers that produce such an detailed chart that spans 800000 years!
6.) Aha! Perhaps it's models that give us such numbers. That's how we know the C02 levels as far back as 500 million years ago! Curiously, if C02 causes warming, then why have ice caps been reported during the period C02 was "measured" in ranges of 4000 ppm. Weren't we cooking?
7.) Those geologic Ice caps have been explained by some of the literature as being due to the presence of a dimmer Sun. If the Sun means something when explaining weather 500 million years ago then why do we discount the effect of the hotter sun on global warming today, instead preferring to blame C02 levels.
8.) So, did people cause this rise in C02 from 300 to 415? Perhaps. We know that population increased over this time from 3 billion to 8 billion and we know this is associated with green ecosystem destruction due to infrastructure expansion (eg. rainforest destruction) as well as a huge increase in energy demands as developed societies improved their standard of living. Can we ever stop or reverse this expansion? Unlikely.
9.) But even if people did create the extra C02 the question remains as to whether this is the predominant cause of Climate Change or is it that intrusive infrastructure growth "sensitized" populations to any variations in weather that might come their way in their new living environments.
One of the best summaries I have seen published was in Forbes magazine where the author (Larry Bell) traces carbon dioxide history back over the past 600 million years and demonstrates that Earth seems to stubbornly remain at a mean temperature of 72 F in spite of wildly flucuating carbon dioxide levels, including periods of thousands of years with level in the thousands of ppm's! In fact, high C02 levels seem to be the norm and levels we fret over today are traditionally extremely low in Earth's history. It seems that other factors such as Solar influence is far more important than a few ppm of C02.
So, here's the really sad thing. The argument has already been won throughout the range of social sciences even though it may rage on within the hard sciences. "Deniers" simply cannot win the hearts and minds of people who have been convinced we are on the path of destruction and that we are guilty of leaving a destroyed planet to our grandchildren and to their grandchildren. Emotion rules over logic and proper study. The new religion - reverse climate change - supports the new politics - green - and it will play itself out through our future generations whether it is based on good science or not. It is a "fait accompli". Enjoy.
Please note: these images and the discussions surrounding them are easily found on Google. I'm not even going to attempt to make a bibliography because this isn't a scientific paper, it's an opinion piece. If you doubt me go search them out. The exercise is quite revealing.