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11/28/2009
IT’S STILL A GOOD IDEA TO REDUCE CO2 EMISSIONS

With the unraveling of the temperature aspect of global warming, what about the other half of the equation?

What about the rise in CO2 levels in the atmosphere.

The AGW theory rests on two pillars; the rise in CO2 levels in the atmosphere correlated with the rise in temperatures over the previous several decades. As even Ken Trenberth of CRU pointed out in one of the hacked emails:

The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can’t. The CERES data published in the August BAMS 09 supplement on 2008 shows there should be even more warming: but the data are surely wrong.

Since 1998, temps have flatlined while CO2 levels in the atmosphere have continued to rise. No amount of massaging the models can make that singular fact go away.

But let’s leave temperature problems behind and concentrate on CO2 levels. Are these measurements a fraud too? Are dozens of independent measuring centers in collusion to show a dramatic rise in CO2 levels in the troposphere?

This is the problem that deniers have when they say the entire AGW theory has been “debunked.” There isn’t a “consensus” that CO2 levels are rising. It is a measurable fact, independently confirmed around the world.

The problem for AGW advocates has always been to answer the question, what does it mean for climate? Most atmospheric physicists will not hazard a guess in that direction. Temps don’t concern them. They are interested in the chemical and molecular makeup of the atmosphere.

And right now, CO2 levels are about double what they were before industrial civilization.

(How scientists measure CO2 levels is one of those jaw dropping little tricks that impress to no end laymen like me. They measure gasses that have been trapped in air bubbles on the Antarctic ice sheet. They can date the samples using a fairly simple formula and are reasonably certain of their accuracy.)

Is this rise in CO2 a cause for concern? About 500 million years ago, CO2 was 20 times higher in the atmosphere. The average temp was much hotter (no polar ice caps) and oxygen content was also much higher. Life flourished in these hotter temps and the extra oxygen allowed for gigantic growth of the dinosaurs.

What’s different today is that the oceans are acting like a carbon sink, absorbing up to 70% of man made emissions. While the IPCC has said it is uncertain what effect this will have on the biosphere, there are already some indications that lower life forms - algae, plankton, coral - are slowing in growth.

If you understand that about 70% of the world’s humans depend on the oceans for their lives, you begin to see the outlines of disaster. Plankton and algae are absolutely vital to the food chain in the oceans and if they start disappearing, so do a lot of other life forms. The coral are also a huge part of life in the ocean and their colonies are slowing in growth dramatically in some parts of the ocean where there are reliable measurements.

It is too soon to blame this on rising levels of CO2 exclusively but the correlation is troubling. There is also the chance that warming oceans would change the almost magical currents that recycle ocean water around the world, bringing warm water from the south Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico to the northern latitudes in Europe and America which makes the climate much milder than it otherwise would be.

(Ocean temps are another question and that data too, has suffered from inaccurate and suspect measurements.)

But the doubling of CO2 levels in the atmosphere cannot be ignored, nor can the rise of the gas in the oceans. That’s why it makes sense to make a concerted effort to reduce our emissions even if the temperature isn’t rising. There may or may not be a direct relationship between rising temps and rising CO2 levels. But dramatically rising atmospheric and ocean levels of the gas require us to take steps that are prudent, and that won’t destroy our economies in the process.

First and foremost we must wean ourselves from oil and coal as our primary source of energy. Whether we are at peak oil is not an issue. Demand is rising incredibly fast and supplies will be very tight. This is not a temporary problem. Globalization has allowed many third world economies to begin growing at astronomical rates while China and India’s energy requirements are also off the charts. Supply simply can’t keep up with demand even if we drilled every drop from our own coasts and wring every molecule out of what we have on land while demanding OPEC companies dramatically increase their output.

The way out of our bind is not through solar power, or wind power, or nuclear power, but a combination of all three with a little geothermal thrown in for good measure. If we started now with a crash course, we could build 100 nuclear power plants in the next 20 years. Sure, we’d have to bite the bullet and find the political will to store the waste. But perhaps somewhere in the next 20 years, Breeder reactors would be perfected where the fuel could be recycled. All it needs is political leadership and the will to make it work.

Solar and wind power are much more problematic. Industrial scale solar is not feasible at the present time. Neither will wind power be anything more than a local solution for decades to come. But the process of changing that must start now. Weaning ourselves from foreign oil should have been a top national security concern for the last 30 years and we could cut our reliance in half by 2030 if we started now.

The president’s alternative energy plans are, for the most part, sound. The goals are unrealistic (10% energy produced by alternative energy by 2020 where we produce less than 3% today), but there’s plenty of money for research and development. More than $80 billion over the next 5 years will be spent developing everything from new solar cells to batteries that will power the next generation of electric cars.

Even without global warming, these ideas are sound investments in our future. No cap and trade. No silly carbon gimmicks. No UN takeover of our economies. And no destruction of the oil and coal industries. In fact, we should step up our exploration and drilling while finding ways to burn fossil fuels more cleanly. That last is necessary so that we don’t choke on our own industrial waste, while making our cities healthier places to live.

We don’t need global warming catastrophism to see that it is simple common sense to find ways to lower our emissions of greenhouse gases like CO2. Draconian targets are not necessary nor would they likely be achievable anyway.

Perhaps it’s time to separate the concept of CO2 emissions from rising temperatures. If we could address CO2 as an independent issue, we might see the efficacy of lowering emissions for its own sake rather than have the issue get mixed up in the messy politics of global warming.

By: Rick Moran at 1:12 pm
21 Responses to “IT’S STILL A GOOD IDEA TO REDUCE CO2 EMISSIONS”
  1. 1
    DrKrbyLuv Said:
    1:54 pm 

    Climategate is a tragedy of immense proportions as we find that science itself has been undermined. There is big money to be made in trading carbon credits that do nothing to fund alternative energy sources.

    It’s a lie that was supported by the corporate media and politicians. In case you haven’t figured it out yet, the international banking cartel owns our government and media.

    The democrats and republicans are controlled by the same people. What is the difference between Bush and Obama? They are both puppets in a giant con game that is racing to end our national sovereignty and replace it with global governance - run by the elite.

    All involved in climategate should be investigated for criminal wrong doing. I suggest the RICO law be used as this is a criminal conspiracy that makes the mafia look like altar boys.

  2. 2
    Rob Said:
    2:00 pm 

    Feh..
    Man’s contribution to CO2 is tiny.
    CO2 is a tiny fraction of the atmosphere.

    With historical data for temps, not just recent measurement in question, so are historical CO2 levels.

    Change is change.

    Why is it good when Obama does makes changes and bad when the climate (and CO2 levels - - maybe) changes?

    It is all hooey! Smog? Eliminate it? Demonstrable problem, fix it.
    CO2 levels? What problem are we trying to solve, before we set out to solve it?

  3. 3
    funny man Said:
    2:24 pm 

    reforestation in Ethiopia and Haiti is a good idea anyway if only to ensure water supply. I just want to remind people what happened when there were no environmental policies in place. Dust bowl, anyone. The CCC also did a lot to preserve our natural environment. So I don’t think this is all unreasonable and all government involvement is bad. Curbing emissions, building more energy efficient cars and houses etc. Why should any of this be bad?

    The previous two comments answer your question. Anti-science is now a legitimate conservative position for some. Resistance to logic and reason is part of it but beyond that, it is suspicion and paranoia about those who choose to think beyond talking points. They simply don’t trust people who aren’t as ignorant as they are.

    ed.

  4. 4
    michael reynolds Said:
    2:42 pm 

    I do worry about Plankton. I don’t see why Mr. Krabs can’t just let him have one Krabby Patty. I think it’s time for SpongeBob to take a stand.

  5. 5
    obamathered Said:
    3:17 pm 

    It may be time to decouple arguments about more or less undetermined CO2-linked environmental problems from the undeniable need to wean ourselves off finite energy sources, too. This isn’t a one-way street. Try to get those nuclear plants built and more fossil fuel extracted in the interim with this Administration and Congress. It ain’t gonna happen.

  6. 6
    busboy33 Said:
    3:21 pm 

    Mike, everybody knows Mr. SP is controlled by the corporate establishment and the costal elites. They may as well just call him SpongeBob BilderBerg. He won’t help Plankton . . . he’s part of it.

    OPEN YOUR EYES MAN!!

    (thanks for your post — I needed a laugh, and it was perfect)

  7. 7
    jackv Said:
    3:34 pm 

    CO2 levels are tied to global warming, but CO2 levels do NOT cause global warming. As the earth warms due to increased solar activity, the oceans warm as well. Warm water does not hold as much dissolved gas as cold water, so CO2 gases off during periods of warmth and is absorbed by the ocean during colder periods. Al Gores famous graph of global temperatures and increased CO2 was accurate. The trouble is the increased CO2 occurred 300 years after the warmer temperatures. That is why he never superimposed the two graphs. CO2 is not a pollutant.

  8. 8
    Richard bottoms Said:
    3:45 pm 

    The previous two comments answer your question. Anti-science is now a legitimate conservative position for some. Resistance to logic and reason is part of it but beyond that, it is suspicion and paranoia about those who choose to think beyond talking points. They simply don’t trust people who aren’t as ignorant as they are.

    ed.

    So what is your answer to this problem?

    Mine is to not vote for Republicans based on a belief that this is the true face of the party, it’s juts now becoming apparent to others who have supported the GOP.

    No snark intended when I say, sounds like you’re in a bit of a jam.

    I won’t pretend I’m heartbroken over the turn of events as to how it relates to presidential politics.

    So while I may not want the loyal opposition to win, I would want the opposition party to be sane.

    Everything is a binary choice. Either Global Warming is a complete made up hoax and thus no efforts to deal with C02 pollution need be undertaken, or liberals destroy capitalism to fix it.

    The choices themselves in the GOP parlance are no choices at all.

    Good luck. Seriously. It will help the country for you and others to fix the insanity that has gripped your party.

  9. 9
    Joe Said:
    4:02 pm 

    I used to believe in global warming until the last two winters here in Wisconsin, plus, one of the coolest spring and summer I can remember in a long time. I do wish we’d get off foreign oil. From what I’ve read China and Europe are lapping us on solar,wind and battery technology.Wisconsin is full of renewable energy, forests everywhere. Wood stoves are now 95% efficient, houses could be winterized to the max and a company in Michigan is making a wind generator for home usage that could supply all our electricity on windy days(about 75% of the time in northcentral Wisconsin) When cars go electric people could plug them into these wind generators.The home generators cost $6000, but I spend about $3000 a year on gasoline.Theoretically the home wind generators could pay for themselves in 2 years.Companies are currently developing batteries to store wind energy for non-windy days. Add some solar panels for the house when they come down in price, and there you be. Not rocket science and we could tell big oil, and Arab oil to kiss our ass.

  10. 10
    still liberal Said:
    4:15 pm 

    There are some very useful science links of the right side of this blog. Some understanding of the topic is a good thing. I swear, the next time I hear someone saying whether or not they “believe in” global warming, evolution, or some other scientific idea its time to go medieval! Belief is in the realm of faith, not science. Science works to provide the best explanation of observed phenomenon. Once can accept the evidence presented or find the evidence lacking for specific reasons, but belief is not a part of science.

  11. 11
    Earl T Said:
    4:47 pm 

    “Anti-science is now a legitimate conservative position for some. Resistance to logic and reason is part of it but beyond that, it is suspicion and paranoia about those who choose to think beyond talking points. They simply don’t trust people who aren’t as ignorant as they are. ” ed.

    Ahhh….ummm… Lil Ricky! Yeah! You! Think the position may be more responsibly set forth as Anti-JUNK science is the conservative position/

    After all, the purloined or whistle-blown CRU e-mails clearly establish a position of fakery and fraud, which have not generally been considered part of legitimate science ever since the Piltdown Man controversy was exposed!

    As for “science by consensus”—that went out just after the leading scientists of the day sought and secured ex-communication of Galilleo—the consensus at that time was Earth was the center of the universe. How’d that consensus work out???

    Did you read the post? Obviously no. Jesus lord God what a dolt. Please point out anywhere I write about “consensus.” You can’t - which proves my point about anti-intellectuals like you.

    I see no difference whatsoever between Al Gore and you. Both believe the science is settled and will not listen to anything reasonable that does not comport with their own ideology.

    Congrats.

    ed.

  12. 12
    cedarhill Said:
    4:56 pm 

    Anyone that might have a casual interest in science should read this the “Falsification Of
    The Atmospheric CO2 Greenhouse Effects Within The Frame Of Physics” by actual scientists. It’s only 115 pages including 30 pages of references, tables, etc. You can google it or download it at

    http://icecap.us/images/uploads/Falsification_of_CO2.pdf

    Anyone that claims CO2 has any significant effect on global warming, global cooling, ice ages or is a pollutant is just simple ignorant. Those (including pundits) that don’t bother doing the research are just parodies of junk science.

    But then, we do live in the era of vast intellectual ignorance.

    I do not believe CO2 has an effect on any of those things you mentioned - something you would know if YOU READ THE FUCKING POST!

    I note that you didn’t mention increased levels of CO2 in the atmosphere or oceans - which means you either deliberately ignored those facts or the words were too difficult for you to comprehend. You appear to be another of those “the science is settled” jerks. Join your buddy Al Gore and wallow in your own ignorance.

    ed.

  13. 13
    funny man Said:
    5:25 pm 

    The problem is, it is indeed difficult to have a rational discussion about this problem. Everyone here seems to know what good and junk science is but the problem is you don’t. Hume once said many people wouldn’t have a problem to accept the most unlikely thing from happening e.g. the virgin Mary appearing (aliens or what not) but if you told them you went hiking in a forest and a bear joined you and kept walking with you until the end of the forest, they would immediately dismiss that even though that is by far more likely.
    So now it has to be crazy liberals conspiring to kill American industry versus anti-science religious zealots on the right protecting big industry. Or something like that. Talk is cheap but at the end of the day we, the people, have to get together to solve many environmental problems. That fact doesn’t need any big theories to be true. Just one example, water in the Southwest. Or another, getting away from foreign dependency on oil.
    There are a lot of things that you might question about FDRs policies and their effectiveness. However, maybe I’m a bit romantic regarding the CCC program but I like the idea of Americans of all stripes getting out there and making our country better. and BTW I’m not going to wait until all the crazies on both sides are convinced.

  14. 14
    Jack Said:
    11:39 pm 

    I agree that we need to cut down on CO2. Let’s start with those pesky volcanoes.

  15. 15
    Mike Said:
    11:41 pm 

    Well Rickster, you might be on to something. I came across an interesting little sight provided by NOAA (National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration) which specifically measures the CO2 release and uptake at the Earth’s surface.

    But you better be careful which drum you are beating. If there is any credibility to what you are claiming this is just another avenue for the “warmers” to latch on to and pass overreaching draconian legislation.The problem with good science is it can be distorted by bad intentions.

    Here is the link for those interested.

    http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/carbontracker/

  16. 16
    ericoflocke Said:
    12:28 am 

    The pre-industrial measurements based upon ice cores are flawed. As ice freezes, the CO2 content is reduced as the gas is sqweezed out of the liquid. Artice ice freezes and thaws several time over the centuries. An old icce core does not privide a good base line measurment.

  17. 17
    mark Said:
    10:09 am 

    Here we go again. Stringing facts that may or may not be related to pre-determined conclusions.

    a. C02 is rising, mankind emits C02, therefore mankind must be causing the C02 rise.
    b. If mankind does it, it must be bad, therefore C02
    rising is bad.

    Must look for something “bad” and tie it to C02 so that it can be blamed on mankind. So:

    c. Algea and plankton growth “might” be slowing in the ocean, the ocean has been absorbing “man’s” C02, therefore man is killing the ocean and must mend his evil ways or “GAIA SPANK”. Never mind that algea are photosynthetic plants which live on what? C02.

    My primary point is that everyone needs to remember a simple statistical statement. Repeat after me:

    CORRELATION DOES NOT PROVE CAUSATION.

    Now back to your regular programming.

    Jesus. If you set up any more strawmen to argue with you could put on a dozen productions of the Wizard of Oz.

    I loaded that info on CO2 with as many caveats as I could because I knew some close minded denier like you would come along and totally misconstrue what I was saying. In fact, the “correlation does not prove causation’ idea permeates my entire post - it is unfortunate you have a problem with reading comprehension.

    That, and your efforts to lump me in with the warmists by ignoring what I wrote about what could be done about reducing emissions intelligently shows that you are not interested in anything except your own narrow, ideological view of the question. Your mind is not open and therefore I lump you with the anti-science ignoramuses like Al Gore who think the “science is settled.”

    Nice company you’re keeping there, pardner.

    ed.

  18. 18
    Mike Said:
    11:00 am 

    Mark you are correct. But the larger problem here is that any raw data or research that “might” truthfully show something we should be concerned about will be disavowed.

    These so-called scientists have ruined the reputations of researchers who aren’t even involved in this fiasco and are doing honest work in a range of noteworthy fields. This is the equivalent to the decline of trust in the government that followed the 50’s. There have been several good leaders and pols since then but they were guilty by association because of their corrupt counterparts.

    We have to be careful, and I mean CAREFUL, how we cast our judgments on future research. This does not mean being blindly faithful as we have been in the past. Just more informed on the processes of peer review and scientific transparency. We do not want to overlook something detrimental or even advantageous to our society because of mistrust.

  19. 19
    cranston Said:
    12:15 pm 

    ‘What’s different today is that the oceans are acting like a carbon sink, absorbing up to 70% of man made emissions’

    That IS different!

    So just when did the laws of physics and chemistry change?

  20. 20
    SB Smith Said:
    12:20 pm 

    I started recycling in the early 90’s and doing a few other earth friendly things…..and it was fun then.
    I still hate wasting water (we have well water) and I still try not to use so much plastic….and still do the other things…

    But the Goracle came along and made being earth friendly a whacked-out pyscho thing to do.

    Now I almost hate using (in public) or buying anything earth friendly because I don’t want anyone thinking I’m one of THOSE people.

    As for what I drive…I will let go of my large SUV when they pry my cold dead fingers from around the steering wheel.
    Heh heh…well, you get the message.
    :-D

  21. 21
    Edward Cherlin Said:
    9:42 pm 

    I’m recommending this post to a group of educators wrestling with ways to teach controversial topics. It is quite rare to find someone not 100% on one side or the other about the facts. Everybody likes to quote Daniel Patrick Moynihan saying “Everybody is entitled to their own opinion, but not to their own facts,” without appreciating how hard it is to settle what the facts are. That’s why we distinguish between the trier of facts (the jury) and the trier of law (the judge) in court. It is also why we have such elaborate procedures to keep bias out of juries, because bias is well known to distort the perception of facts.

    If you would be interested in joining our discussion about how to teach controversies, and how children should learn to tell fact from fiction, e-mail me privately.

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