Posted by Admin on Saturday, September 12th, 2009
Another theory – which is directly linked to the energy issue – is the one about man-made global warming caused by carbon dioxide which is fostered by the IPCC, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, established by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Soon the United Nations Climate Change Conference will be held in Copenhagen from December 7th – 18th, where thinkers and speakers will pass another round of the climate change debate, discussing measures to alleviate the impacts of human generated carbon dioxide emissions. The theory of “man-made global warming” caused by such emissions from burning fossil fuels and from exhalation, is a controversial one. While climate change undeniably happens in many regions of the world with sudden and sometimes lasting cataclysmic events such as cyclons, drought or floods, it is not established, whether these changes show a general trend towards an increase in average global temperatures and if such changes are really caused by the human carbon footprint. Certain future trend analysis, which are based on computer models, show the possibility of a warming between 1.4 to 5.8 degrees Celsius until 2100, others warn from “faster, stronger and sooner climate change” and dire consequences while again others are expecting a preliminary cooling. John Cristy’s extensive temperature data set measured from satellites does not support a general warming trend, although it shows a measurable slight increase in surface temperature which is caused by human activity. To the layman it may seem that this debate is a clash of opinions based on fears, vague assumptions and projections rather than a scientific assessment based on observation and exact measurements – even the subjective experience of the kind “it’s getting warmer year by year” cannot easily be related to by individuals.
Manmade carbon dioxide is considered the main culprit in the mainstream climate discussion, held responsible for melting icecaps and glaciers, but many reputable scientists disagree with this theory (!). John Cristy, a distinguished professor of atmospheric science and lead author for the 2001 report by the IPCC, clearly stated in an interview with National Public Radio: “It is scientifically inconceivable that after changing forests into cities, turning millions of acres into irrigated farmland, putting massive quantities of soot and dust into the air, and putting extra greenhouse gases into the air, that the natural course of climate has not changed in some way” and he confirmed that he was “still a strong critic of scientists who make catastrophic predictions of huge increases in global temperatures and tremendous rises in sea levels.”
There are basically two main fractions engaged in the debate of global warming: the proponents of the “official” version insisting the cause of global warming to be man-made, and the ones that see global warming as an effect of normal fluctuations, like increased solar activity due to the sun’s 11 years activity cycle. The latter deny any significant role of carbon dioxide in the process. In fact some are convinced that dioxide levels always follow a temperature increase – not vice versa.
The content of carbon dioxide in the air today avarages around 387 ppm, which equals 0.0387 percent per volume. If this is to be reduced to 350 ppm as certain proponents of IPCC’s assessment suggest to be “ambitious but feasible”, you would actually reduce todays value just about 9.5% (read: just about one tenth of 0,04%) or in an absolute value 0,0037% per volume and it is very hard to believe that such a small reduction will have any significant ecological impact. (To make it a bit more visual for non mathematicians: Imagine you have a cube of air one meter high, one meter wide, one meter deep. The CO2 will be a much smaller cube inside this big cube, measuring roughly 7.29 cm each side – maybe comparable to the volume of a new fluffy tennis ball. If you want to reduce it to the target volume of 350 ppm as suggested, you would have to schrink this small body just about 2.4 millimeters to 7.05 cm sidelength – to stay with the illustration of the tennis ball it was as if you shaved it bald – so that it will now have a slightly smaller diameter. Or to get a grip you can use a measuring tape and look up the values.).
Carbon dioxide concentration in the air fluctuates with seasons, as the photosynthesis – conversion of CO2 into plant sugars (carbohydrates, starch) and manufacturing of oxygen – of vegetation is involved in the carbon cycle: In spring and summer the concentration of carbon dioxide in the air on the northern hemisphere is lower when plants grow and it increases in falls and winter when plants cease this conversion, decay and decompose. Carbon dioxide’s specific weight is about 1.5 more than the one of air.That’s why carbon dioxide is gathering near the ground or in depressions and hardly rises up to the upper atmosphere, where it is said to cause the “greenhouse effect”. You can try this out by filling a balloon with CO2 – it won’t rise…
Apropos ballooning: CO2 is said to be “ballooning” from it’s origin in regions with a high man-made output to regions less densly populated and affecting them most, like for example the indian ocean and the sahel zone. But if you compare the CO2 atmospheric concentration map with a NASA image depicting the desert areas of the world, you will find an astonishing match.
This might be considered a valid indication, that elevated atmospheric CO2 concentrations mainly exist in areas without much active vegetation and it could be concluded that simple measures like reforesting deserted areas could easily counteract such concentrations. Eritrea – a small underdeveloped country in the Sahel belt – meets the challenges of climate change by alleviating drought through reforestation and proofs such measures to be highly effective.
But while such simple and practical methods like reforestation are showing very promising results in solving the problem of climate change for entire regions, the theorists – among them a massive portion of the so called scientific community, myriad of political and economical exponents and even a greater number of environmentalists – seem to have lost themselves in an ideological haze, proclaiming the danger and toxicity of carbon dioxide and suggesting all kind of financial, administrative and technological hotchpotch to defend human civilisation from drowning in rising sealevels.
One thing that surprises me most about the entire debate is the high emphasis on CO2 as the almost exclusive cause for climate change. We daily hear and read just carbon. And carbon has received such a negative connotation through this entire debate that we all slowly turn into carbofobics. The air you exhale is saturated with 4 % per volume of carbon dioxide. There exist some scientific research that suggest carbon dioxide to be unhealthy at a concentration of 0,5 % (the concentration in a bottle of Pepsi) or dangerous to animal life at 5% per Volume (if inhaled over extended periods). As I remember from attending chemistry lessons some years back at highschool carbon dioxide is non toxic, but at the most an irritant, with the potential to suffocate you, if you happen to sit in a pit without proper ventilation. Carbon is one of the main building blocks of all living organisms – your body consists of 18% Carbon – and carbon dioxide is a vital component in the air, as there would be no photosynthesis – no plantlife – without it.
And carbon dioxide is just one of the known “greenhouse” gases. There are many other gases and factors that influence the global climate: Water vapour (atmospheric content + 1%) and clouds are definitely ranking much higher in their influence retaining solar heat within our atmosphere. And methane, a gas which due to its leight weight easily rises into the higher atmosphere where it remains active for about 8.5 years before it oxidises into carbon dioxide and which also experienced a massive increase in its atmospheric occurrence over the last 200 years due to human influence, mainly from waste deposited in landfills and breeding cattle, can trap about 20 times the heat of CO2. But it seems hardly to get mentioned in the theory. Nobody ever says: “stop eating meat from mass animal production, because such behavior is causing global warming.” Nor is there hardly any mention of airtravel as possible source of carbon dioxide abundance in the upper atmosphere although airplanes expell this gas in much higher altitude (and much higher quantities) than let’s say a car. And finally: Particle pollutants like grime and dust contribute their fair share to atmospheric pollution and its influence on solar radiation.
Remains the question: is the entire global warming theory just a hoax? Is there any scientific evidence for man-made global warming or are we dealing with a lot of speculation, hype and fear mongering? Are we debating a believe system and produce a lot of hot carbon saturated air while debating (which would further augment global warming according to the theory)? Do we base a newly emerging green economy on make-believe? Why? We will surely come back to this questions at a later point.
No doubt we have all reason to abolish polluting practice and strive for ecological solutions – not because we need a new color scheme for our economy, but because we need to take care of our very life foundation and pass on a tidy planet to future generations. I fear the huge amounts of highly toxic waste that are continuosly dumped into our environment are posing a much higher threat to the survival of any living species (human included) on this planet and give much more reason to worry, than slightly elevated levels of carbon dioxide. And remember: to reduce latter a simple remedy would do: stop slashing forests and plant more trees. Scientific methods do not have to be complicated in order to be effective (Neither does an intelligent approach need to be sanctioned by climate “scientists” to make a viable solution!).