• Peter

    Dear Warren,

    I appreciate a lot what you a are doing and publishing in your blog and in the Forbes column.

    Could you please answer me a question or (better) show me the calculation behind the following statement in your last Forbes article where you write “we are talking about a maximum total change in atmospheric CO2 concentration due to man of about 0.01% over the last 100 years”

    Thank you advance

    Kind regards
    Peter

  • Dan Smith

    I’ll take a stab at answering Peter’s question. I think Warren is using the absolute percentage change in CO2 concentration: from 0.029 to 0.039 in the last hundred years. CO2 is present in very low amounts in the atmosphere. Climate change alarmists like to use the parts per million number: 290 to 390. I believe they think it makes a small change look scary when expressed that way. If you look at the relative change, it’s even more frightening:a 33% increase. Makes you think we’re about to suffocate, doesn’t it? Spin is a technique used not only by political strategists. It’s found its way into scientific discourse, unfortunately.

  • Peter

    Thank you Dan.

    Unless Warren does not agree with your post, I think that’s exactly what people should know when they hear and talk about the dramatical increase of CO2 in the atmosphere.

    Peter

  • John Wright

    Not only that, but they measure it in tons, which must mislead in a similar way. And don’t some people confuse CO2 with CO? Now the latter really is a poisonous gas.

  • FDUK

    Isn’t using a 1% increase in CO2 just as misleading as saying its gone from 290ppm to 390ppm? After all saying a 1% increase suggests a very minimal increase, when actually the concentration has in fact increased by 34%.

    The problem with the debate over climate is that it is polarised. Both sides say things that are disingenuous all the time.

  • hunter

    Both are true: CO2 as a part of the atmosphere has increased from 0.029 to 0.039 per cent of the whole, a .01% increase.
    CO2 has increased by 34% to do this.
    Neither indicate we are facing a global climate disruption.

  • Big D

    As a scientist I’ve learned – anyone talking percentages is usually trying to make a dramatic case for or against something. Same as anyone speaking about “consensus” or “settled science”. That is the “4 out of 5 dentists surveyed” argument, which the general public has long assumed is some sort of science.

    In this case it is warranted because the other side uses percentages to exaggerate the problem all the time.

    And of course, as you article say, who cares how much carbon dioxide has increased or decreased? The only question worth asking is “Does it matter?””

  • Randy

    I am rather amazed that no one seems to remeber a fact from elementary school science class. Plants need three things for photosynthesis: sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide. It also turns out that with higher levels of CO2, plants require less water for their growth.
    As far as the “rising” sea levels, one factor that I have read discussed in only one venue so far is thermal expansion. We seem to disregard the fact that as sea water absorbs energy (ie warms up) it expands!

  • FTerra7

    Is it catastrophic or not? Hmm, no science seems to be sure about it yet. Maybe we should just carry on multiplying the percentage of GHG, wait and see. That’s the message I am getting from the skeptic side of the issue. They don’t know if such “minor” changes in concentration will be catastrophic and choose to believe it won’t. Fair enough.

  • hunter

    Fterra7,
    What skeptics- many non-skeptics- are pointing out is that the costs of alleged prevention are very high, and the actual risks are low.
    There are many things we are doing that are problematic- drinking water, watershed damage, detrimental land changes, toxins in the air, water, food supply and general bioscape, food security. CO2 management does not really seem to be nearly as important as those obsessed by it make it to be.

  • hunter

    How bizarrely arrogant, to consider that you might represent “the skeptic’s position”. You represent your own position. It’s based on scientific illiteracy and desperate stupidity. Your failure ever to reply to comments made on this blog only confirms that you are not mentally equipped to defend your idiotic views, let alone pass them off as representative of anyone else’s.

  • hunter

    “0.029 to 0.039 per cent of the whole, a .01% increase”

    Nope. No two ways about it, it’s a 34% increase. If it was 2.9 percent increasing to 3.9 percent, that would still be a 34% increase. If it was 29 percent increasing to 39 percent, it would still be a 34% increase. Anyone claiming any different is so mathematically inept that they must be literally retarded.

  • Brian

    Dear Warren,

    Thanks for this. Since I see questions being asked and answered maybe this is the place to put my often asked but not yet answered question, as follows:

    Coal is fossilised vegetation.
    That vegetation must have fixed almost all of the billions of tonnes of carbon now underground by sequestering it from CO2 in the atmosphere.
    Growing conditions then were evidently as good, and probably far better, than those we are currently experiencing.
    What good reason is there for me to believe that putting ALL of that carbon back where it came from should be in any way harmful?

  • Dave

    All you skeptics should take a class in earth history and environmental science. CO2 was sequestered in ligno-cellulosic plant material because microbes and fungi weren’t able to break it down and convert it back to CO2. Furthermore, CO2 isn’t the only greenhouse gas and climate change isn’t strictly relegated to GHG emissions nor are CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere the only climate driver (i.e., there are many drivers of climate which take place on the millions of years time-scale). Solar output was also 4% less in the early phanerozioc. Have you ever heard of biodiversity loss, habitat destruction, invasive species, and soil erosion? All of these things are causing perturbations on a global scale.

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