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Rants, Raves, Interesting Science & Awful Puns
April 15, 2007

Carbon Dioxide Carnival

It's Official--Life Is A Pollutant

Carbon dioxide is the fundamental plant food, and hence the basis of all life on Earth. The recent Supreme Court ruling in Massachusetts vs. the EPA held that the EPA must treat CO2 as a pollutant. The case was brought by the state of Massachusetts on the grounds that the EPA's failure to raise automobile mileage standards would allow more CO2 to enter the atmosphere, contributing to global warming, which would then, allegedly, cause rising sea levels to inundate the Massachusetts coastlineā€”one hundred years from now. Even if human emissions of CO2 cause global warming--which is far more dubious than the world is led to believe--an increase in gas-mileage would have only a marginal effect on automobile CO2 emissions, which are only a marginal fraction of all human-generated CO2 emissions, which in turn is only a small fraction of the CO2 produced by natural sources. Finally, there is no clear evidence that global warming is raising or will raise sea levels in Massachusetts. One of the dissenting judges noted that the computer model used to project future changes in sea levels has a margin of error greater than the effect that it claims. In other words, the projected rise in sea levels is lost in the model's static.

The Theater of the Absurd goes into overdrive. Aristophanes, who wrote The Birds, from which "cloud cuckoo land" derives, couldn't do better than this. When global hysteria takes on the dimensions of a cattle stampede, there's about as much chance of facts and reason stopping it anytime soon in one case as in the other. All one can do is stand out of the way until it either runs down from exhaustion or goes over a cliff. (The latter case might be when the natural solar cycle returns to a cooling phase that can't be missed even by the most committed of world-enders--but that might require another ice age.)

For an idea of how likely human activities are to have a detectable, let alone significant, effect on global temperatures, it's informative to visit http://www.geocraft.com/WVFossils/greenhouse_data.html at Geocraft, which goes through the numbers clearly and charts the results. Water vapor, not carbon dioxide, is the dominant contributor, reponsible for 95% of the greenhouse effect, 99.999% of which is of natural origin. Human contribution to the CO2 portion of the greenhouse effect works out at 0.117%, and to the effect of all greenhouse gases, 0.28%. As the Geocrafters conclude, this is insignificant. They also make the point that even if the entire world complied fully with Kyoto the reduction in human greenhouse contributions would be only 0.035%. The cost to real people would be devastating while the impact on climate would be "statistically negligible."

A further relevant point is that carbon dioxide saturates rapidly in terms of the amount of heat it absorbs. This comes to about 8 percent of the heat radiated by the Earth, and the absorption is complete over its absorption band in a path length of only 300 meters. Hence, adding more carbon dioxide to the atmosphere does not increase its global heat retention but gives us a constant warming effect over a wide range of concentration, which now is about 380 parts carbon dioxide to one million parts of air. It's a bit like putting a Venetian blind up on a window, which blocks 90% of the light coming through. Adding a second blind will block 90% of the 10% that's left, and very soon you reach a point where adding more blinds makes no discernible difference.

As a reminder, the books we've added to the Heretics list in the Bookstore are:

Unstoppable Global Warming every 1500 years, by Dennis T. Avery and S. Fred Singer

Meltdown, by Patrick J. Michaels

The Satanic Gases, by Patrick J. Michaels

Shattered Consensus, by Patrick J. Michaels

Hot Talk, Cold Science, by S. Fred Singer

The Politically Incorrect Guide to Global Warming, by Christopher C. Horner

I don't pretend that this list is comprehensive. Suggestions for further additions are welcome

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