Hmmm…what to do? I’m not a scientist, but since so many political decisions are being made based on the global warming philosophy, one has to attempt to become informed. Thus, for a few years I’ve been reading materials on the subject from both sides of the question. It appears that the scoffers and the believers are divided not only by their underlying theses but also by their rhetorical style. The believers are fervent and tend toward sturm-und-drang apocalyptic outcomes, usually accompanied by handwringing and vitriol directed at the skeptics. The latter tend to be more reasonable, though some of them do hurl flaming sarcasm and satire at their opponents. The believers assign malign motives to the skeptics; the skeptics question the intelligence of the devout.
Philosophically and temperamentally I am partial to arguments based on appeals to reason and research. In the end, I found the arguments of the skeptics to be more reasonable. So far, nothing I’ve read since has given me cause to change my mind.
Thus I present JF’s essays sans links. At the end you will find some linking to the few resources he provided later.
When he said in one email, “This essay is sweeping in purview. Documentation is readily available but would become onerous if complete”, I left this aside to think about it. Now I’ve thought about it, done a little research (Google is your friend, mostly), and here we are.
From reader JF:
Carbon Dioxide…Then and Now
Carbon dioxide, CO2, comprises 0.04% of our current global atmosphere. This amount is the meager remainder from a substantially larger original quantity
The onset of life began the process, in part irreversible, of burying CO2.
All plant life takes CO2 from the atmosphere or the waters to form its bodily mass, releasing oxygen, O2, in the process. Upon dying this plant mass either oxidizes, recombining C with O2 to form CO2, or it sinks beneath the ground undergoing conversion to fossil fuels.
Animal life feeds upon plant life and in addition combines CO2 with calcium oxide, CaO, to form CaCO3, limestone. This limestone is the stuff of the white mountains---Amalfi Coast, Cliffs of Dover, Mountains of New Hampshire, etc.---abundantly scattered about the planet. Ubiquitous limestone quarries supply materials for concrete roadways, blacktop highways and all cement-based manmade structures. When animal mass dies it too oxidizes, releasing CO2, but its limestone components remain permanently buried and unavailable.
Limestone is 40% by weight CO2. Consider the immensity of this irreversible burial.
It will be apparent that prior to the onset of life the earth’s atmosphere was CO2-rich.This original CO2-rich atmosphere, instead of being hostile to life, was entirely congenial to life; that’s when life began. We live today in a CO2-lean atmosphere.
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Modern hothouse experiments using intentionally augmented concentrations of CO2 yield luxuriantly flourishing plant growth. It’s easy to see how the gigantism of plants and animals in the carboniferous era came about.
Only we pygmies remain today.
Alas life has been operating on a colossal scale to attenuate the CO2-rich atmospheric concentrations present at the beginnings. Our feeble human activities, such as oxidizing some small fraction of the vast buried fossil stores thereby releasing some traces of CO2, merely forestall life’s self-extinguishment.
What a draft upon credulity that the august U.S. EPA, submitting to the blandishments of a gang of kneejerk anti-establishment types abetted by political hacks and science-challenged postmodernists, would see fit to declare the origin of life, CO2, a pollutant.
Carbon: Passive Rider on the Earth/Space Machine
Earth operates a network of molten upwellings from deep seams in the planet’s crust which act to shove tectonic plates across the seafloors where these plates bump into continental land outcroppings. These spreading plates subduct beneath the continental rims and simultaneously push mountains upward from sea level. Such crustal movements continue to shape our global topography today. Atmospheric composition is largely unaffected by these plate movements except during volcanic eruptions which emit gasses that are subsequently diffused about the globe by wind action.
Space operates a system of radiant inputs to the earth: both continuous cosmic rays from deep space and variable solar rays from our nearby sun. From time to time the sun produces solar winds having magnetic effects which perturb the incoming cosmic rays causing them to vary in intensity. The primary solar rays vary also but to a lesser extent than the solar-perturbed cosmic rays. Atmospheric composition is largely unaffected by these radiant inputs but one component of the atmosphere undergoes reversible change-of-state to an extent that is dependent upon the intensity of the incoming cosmic rays. This component is water.
Water evaporates from the earth’s surface as a clear vapor. Each water vapor molecule has a diameter of 1.5 angstroms. Incoming solar radiation contains wavelengths ranging from 1000 angstroms to 10,000,000 angstroms. Much of this incoming solar radiation easily passes over and through the clear water vapor, warming it in transit but proceeding downward to the earth where it proceeds to warm the planet’s surface. The cosmic rays, variably constrained by the solar winds, convert some portion of the clear water vapor to liquid droplets ranging in size from 20,000 to 400,000 angstroms. Incoming solar radiation cannot readily pass through these large particles and instead is scattered and partially redirected back into space. So incoming solar radiation can be either absorbed and transmitted (as with clear water vapor) or scattered and reflected (as with cloud droplets.) When the sun permits the cosmic rays to do their job of forming clouds then the planet will be cooled. When the solar winds restrain a sufficient portion of the cloud-forming cosmic rays then the planet will warm.
Down at the earth’s surface water mediates life’s processes. In watered terrestrial zones gaseous carbon undergoes a change-of-state as life converts CO2 into solid carbonaceous plant matter, with some reoxidized to CO2 and some buried. In coastal shallows life converts CO2 into the solid CaCO3 component of animal matter, with some redissolved and dissociated and some buried. These active life zones act as CO2 sinks, depleting the local CO2 concentrations, and drawing additional CO2 from the diminishing reserves in the atmosphere. The accumulated solidified carbon stores are then transported by the tectonic plates and either pushed upward into mountainous formations or dragged downward beneath the surface to be heated and pressure-cooked into pockets of fossil fuels. In either case the life-formed CO2-rich solid matter is carried away from the wet biologically active zones into storage places less congenial to life processes.
Over time the earth has seen gaseous CO2 levels fall from the original 0.80% to our current 0.04%. Photosynthesis has been busily productive but the unremitting tectonic conveyor apparatus has carried away and stored life’s solidified carbon-containing products, leaving them in largely inaccessible locations awaiting mankind’s recent efforts to disinter some fraction of these vast stores to use as fossil fuels and thus to regenerate CO2. Asserting that both the mammoth planetary tectonic plate mechanisms and the immense outer space radiant input mechanisms are grandly unconcerned by either life’s strenuous CO2 burial efforts or man’s trivial recent fossil energy use is surely one of the great understatements of all time. These earth/space processes acted to warm and to cool the planet and to rearrange its surface map long before life began and will continue to perform their accustomed activities long after life completes its self-extinguishing journey.
Postscript from the author:
Since controversies abound in this matter you may refer to:
- Goethe Universitat-Cloud ITN, Journal of Geophysical Research-Vol. 110- Nir J Shaviv; and
- The CERN Cloud Project.
[Note: Like many non-bloggers, our author is not accustomed to the necessity for links to one’s assertions so the two references above were the best he could give me. I did a very brief search on Nir Shaviv CO2 and got this, plus an additional 65K hits. For CERN cloud CO2 there were 779k hits; here’s one result.
I found a blog devoted to this subject, and perchance an essay by Mr. Shaviv. If you open the link you can understand why our guest poster through up his hands at my notion that he needed links for this essay. Scroll to the bottom of the page on that link and you can find more than enough documentation to satisfy a reasonable inquiry.
However, the emphasis must needs remain on "reasonable" because al-Gore & Gang have long past the realm of the reasonable and have entered the Sanctum of the Saved. In other words, it’s about faith and our sacred duty to our Mother, Earth. Our Father, Reason, appears to be missing from this picture. Wouldn’t you know it - another single mom left to cope with some crazy kids.]
As continued research progresses we can already confidently state that the claims of the “CO2-is-a-pollutant- crowd” are insupportable in the face of life’s flourishing throughout a 95% decline in atmospheric CO2 concentration. This fact is documented in the scientific record.
Disaffected humans will just have to find something else with which to flagellate themselves. We can take comfort, however, in the knowledge that their need is great, their determination unabashed and their perverse imaginations sufficient to the task of finding another bad, unfixable thing human beings have done.
To which I would add that the handiest thing to do is return to the old ways of handling communal guilt: we can either follow the ancient Hebrew custom of the scapegoat, or the even older ritual of throwing virgins into the volcano.
Of course there are problems attendant with my suggestions. For one thing, PETA will prevent the scapegoat ritual, though they would have no problem if you substituted a human being. The volcano solution won’t be viable too much longer due to the fact that virgins are an endangered species.