June 3, 2008 - David Lewis
“There are ominous signs that the Earth’s weather patterns have begun to change dramatically and that these changes may portend a drastic decline in food production – with serious political implications for just about every nation on Earth.” - Newsweek
Doesn’t that sound familiar?
It does, because it is what we often hear today from the media and various political organizations: Dire predictions of gloom and doom from the results of manmade global warming and greenhouse effects on our planet. Only the quote above by Newsweek: “The Cooling World” is not referring to global warming, but global cooling.
During the 1970’s, there was a period of several years that prompted many people to believe the world was undergoing a transition into another Ice Age. Often referred to as “global cooling”, a slight downward trend of Earth’s temperatures most significantly in the 1970s, but also occurring in the 1940s. This period of time prompted publications such as Newsweek and the New York Times to publish concerning articles such as “The Cooling World”.
But if the world is warming, what happens to the crops and plants?
They actually grow more vigourously, due to the additional heat and slightly longer growing season, producing more plentiful food crops as well as flourishing forests. Plants also “breathe in” – or feed off of – carbon dioxide (CO2), and the greater concentration of CO2 in the air causes plants to thrive.
Speaking of carbon dioxide, aren’t we causing a great amount of it with manmade industry, which is the main cause of greenhouse gasses?
First we need to look at the pre-industrial baseline of the total concentration of CO2 and other gasses in our atmosphere. To determine what kind of impact humans have on our planet, we need to measure the current composition of CO2, then subtract naturally-occurring CO2.
Of the greenhouse gasses comprising our atmosphere, water vapour contributes 95%, carbon dioxide (CO2) makes up 3.62%, methane (CH4) makes up 0.36%, nitrous oxide (N2O) 0.95% and CFC’s, which are miscellaneous gasses, make up the remaining 0.07%.
Pre-industry (prior to 1770), the carbon dioxide (CO2) figure was 288,000 ppb (parts per billion). Since that time, naturally-occurring greenhouse gasses have contributed an additional 84,236 ppb, 68,520 ppb of which is CO2. Manmade additions have contributed 12,207 ppb of greenhouse gasses, 11,880 ppb of which are CO2.
Humans have less than a 0.001% impact on the water vapour content of the atmosphere. This means that humans have contributed 3.30% (12,217/370,484) of all greenhouse gasses not considering water vapour, or 3.33% (11,880/356,520) of carbon dioxide (CO2).
However, water vapour makes up 95% of greenhouse gasses.
Therefore, madmade greenhouse gasses have contributed 3.33% of carbon dioxide (CO2). And carbon dioxide comprises 3.62% of greenhouse gasses, resulting in 0.28% (0.0333 X 0.0362) of manmade greenhouse gasses – 0.12% of which is madmade carbon dioxide (CO2) in the span of 230 years.
So is that significant enough to dramatically effect our temperatures on a global scale? If in 230 years we have only managed to impact our atmosphere by less than 0.3%, can we, in 50 years, melt Iceland at this current rate? According to the Nobel Prize-winning politician Al Gore, absolutely.
Water vapour is an important part of our greenhouse gasses, making up the majority of these gasses at 95%. Yet it is often conveniently excluded from environmental facts and discussions. If water vapour were taken into consideration, it would decrease the severity of the global warming fear factor, effectively eliminating arguments presented by global warming advocates.
Science has proven that CO2 increases do not drive global temperatures, but that CO2 levels follow global temperatures.
The changes that many environmentalists and politicians propose on our environment would decrease the carbon footprint of developing countries by 30%, a dramatic change that would be the result of billions of dollars poured into research and technology to reduce the greenhouse effect.
Wouldn’t it be great for our world if we could reduce the carbon footprint by 30%? What kind of impact would that make on the stats above?
Such drastic measures, if successful, would reduce the CO2 manmade emissions from 0.12% to about 0.035% - an insignificant change to the Earth’s climate on a global scale.
But could you drive your car 30% less, reduce your electricity usage by 30%, and reduce your winter heating by 30%? What would happen if such regulations were imposed upon the industries of the world? It would cause a dramatic rise in prices of merchandise from clothing to cars by 30-50% or more, for little or no environmental benefit at all.
Are such expenses and sacrifices really worth all the money we would pour into it? It’s one thing to be conscientious, but it’s another thing to have government-imposed regulations forcing you to reduce your driving, your electricity usage, and your general lifestyle - for little or no impact on the climate.
But many of us are taken by the grandiose promises made by politicians to improve our environment. We like the prospect of saving the world, but few think the process through to what that would really mean for our atmosphere and the kind of detrimental impact it would have on our daily lives.