The carbon dioxide level is dangerously low
Source: Human Events
By: David Archibald
The following has been excerpted from Twilight of Abundance: Why Life in the 21st Century will be Nasty, Brutish, and Short by David Archibald:
The United States is needlessly penalizing itself and squandering its resource endowment, all because of the big lie that carbon dioxide is causing dangerous global warming. The Chinese, in contrast, merely pay lip service to that big lie. The only reason they are making a token effort on the ?global warming? front is to encourage Western countries to continue hobbling their own economies. One can be forgiven for thinking that there must be some truth in the global warming notion given how much noise its advocates have made. But as with most causes promoted by leftist ideologues, the truth is exactly the opposite to their claim. The fact of the matter is the carbon dioxide level of the atmosphere remains dangerously low at four hundred parts per million. In fact the more carbon dioxide there is in the atmosphere, the better for all forms of life on planet Earth.
Before the Industrial Revolution, carbon dioxide in the atmosphere stood at 286 parts per million. Let us round this number to 300 parts per million to make the sums easier. Naturally occurring greenhouse gases ensure that the planet is 30°C warmer than it would otherwise be if they were not in the atmosphere, so the average temperature of the planet?s surface is 15°C instead of -15°C. Water vapor is responsible for 80 percent of that effect, and carbon dioxide for only 10 percent, with methane, ozone, and so forth accounting for the remainder. So the approximately 300 parts per million of carbon dioxide is good for 3°C degrees of warming. If the relationship between carbon dioxide concentration and temperature were arithmetic?in other words, a straight linear relationship?then adding another 100 parts per million of carbon dioxide would result in one degree of warming. We are adding 2 parts per million to the atmosphere annually, or 100 parts per million every fifty years. At that rate, humanity would fry.
Thankfully, the relationship between atmospheric carbon dioxide and temperature is logarithmic, not arithmetic. The first 20 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere provides 1.6°C of warming, after which the effect drops away rapidly. From the current level of 400 parts per million, each addition of 100 parts per million adds only 0.1°C of warming. By the time we have dug up all the rocks we can economically burn, and burned them, we may reach 600 parts per million in the atmosphere. So perhaps we might add another 0.2°C of warming over the next two centuries. That warming will be lost in the noise of natural climate variation. So much for the problem of global warming! As a greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide is tuckered out. On the positive side of the ledger, it is very beneficial as aerial fertilizer. The carbon dioxide that mankind has put into the atmosphere to date has in fact boosted crop yields by 15 percent. This is like giving the Third World countries free phosphate fertilizer. Who could possibly be so heartless as to deny under- developed countries that benefit, at no cost to anyone?
The real threat is dangerously low levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The Earth has been in a glacial period for the last 3 million years, including some sixty separate glacial advances and retreats. The current Holocene interglacial period might last up to another 3,000 years before the Earth plunges into another glaciation. Carbon dioxide is a gas highly soluble in water, and its solubility is highly temperature dependent. The colder the planet is, the more carbon dioxide the oceans absorb. During glaciations the carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere has fallen to as low at 180 parts per million. It needs to be stressed that plant life shuts down at 150 parts per million, as plants are unable to operate with the partial pressure differential of carbon dioxide between their cells and the atmosphere. Several times during the last 3 million years, life above sea level was within 30 parts per million of being extinguished by a lack of carbon dioxide. The flowering plants we rely upon in our diet evolved 100 million years ago when the carbon dioxide level was four times the current concentration. For plant life, the current amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is near starvation levels
And unfortunately, the carbon dioxide that human beings are pumping into the atmosphere will not be there for very long. There is fifty times as much carbon dioxide held by the oceans as there is in the atmosphere. As the deep oceans turn over, on an eight-hundred-year cycle of circulation, they will take the carbon dioxide now in the atmosphere down into Davy Jones?s Locker, where it will be of no use to man, beast, or plant life. Agricultural productivity will rise for the next two centuries or so, along with the atmospheric carbon dioxide level, after which it will fall away. By the year 3000 AD, the atmosphere?s carbon dioxide level will be only a couple of percent higher than before the Industrial Revolution. Life above sea level will therefore remain dangerously pre- carious because of the low carbon dioxide level.
?Global warming? is an irrational belief whose proponents demonstrate no interest in examining scientific evidence that may prove their beliefs incorrect. As a simple cult, it has failed to progress much beyond the concept of original sin, apocalyptic visions, sumptuary laws, and the selling of indulgences. Wind farms are the temples of this state-sponsored belief system. This cult doesn?t extend to building aged-care homes, hospitals, or anything much for the common good. Instead it degrades the fabric of society by misdirecting human effort. Its true believers can hardly be blamed; the global warming cult is not much different from any of the other end-of-the-world cults that have preceded it. Society?s opprobrium should be saved for the gatekeepers who have failed in their duty to protect the public from the depredations of the global warming rent-seekers and charlatans. The boards and executive staffs of a number of learned societies across the Western world have embraced this cult against the wishes of the majority of their members?
The fact that the world has not warmed since 1998 (in defiance of the global warming scare) hasn?t dented cult members? faith. Arguing scientific evidence with them is pointless. It will take something far worse than a return of the frigid winters of the 1970s to create doubt in their minds. That something worse is coming. Millions of people may have to endure many harsh years before this pernicious cult is vanquished. And until the global warming myth is exploded, the security of the United States?and thus of the world?is also at risk.
David Archibald is a climate expert and a fellow at the Institute of World Politics.