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Memories of the 28th Century

Carbon Dioxide Red Herring

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I find it annoying to read or hear assertions that human activity is causing climate change especially when the people making the assertions never even heard of the Milkovitch cycles and donít even know what makes some gases "greenhouse gases" while other gases do not create the greenhouse effect. Many articles on the subject give the impression the the author does not understand what he is writing.

One item that is less prevalent now than it was a few years ago is the matter of whether the recent climate change is unprecedented, as it is sometimes called by authors. In fact, since civilization began about six thousand years ago, there have been three cycles that we can clearly see from written records. Those are the Roman Warm Period, the Medieval Warm Period, and the current warm period. There were cool periods in between, the Dark Ages and the Little Ice Age. There certainly have been other warm and cool periods in earlier times, but there is less information about those.

And since the last Ice Age maximum there has been even more warming and cooling, and sea level has risen by about nine hundred feet, but the level hasn't varied by much in the last three thousand years; although there was a rise during the Roman Warm Period and a drop during the Little Ice Age. The change in sea level can be seen in the location of a few cities fairly far up rivers from the mouths, but in some cases, they were located well upstream to avoid pirates, but some cities that failed as seaports because a sand bar grew across the harbor actually suffered from sea level drop. Notable examples of this problem in ancient cities include Ephesus and Pisa. Sea level change is not the only reason why harbors became useless, because subsidence and rebound from glacial periods also change the local sea level. It should be clear that there have been periods that were warmer or cooler that it is at present.

It has been claimed that greenhouse effect caused by increased carbon dioxide has been the main cause of recent warming, but carbon dioxide is not much of a greenhouse gas. Greenhouse gas potential of a gas is determined by its dipole moment. Most sources point out that Carbon dioxide has no dipole moment, but some sources give a value of 0.112 for its dipole moment. For comparison, Water has a dipole moment of 1.8546, which is 16.56 times as much as concentration of carbon dioxide. In the atmosphere carbon dioxide has an average concentration of about 400 parts per million, while water vapor has a concentration of from 0.1% to 4% (call it 2% average), or about 48 times the concentration of carbon dioxide to one hundred times the concentration. This means that water vapor in the atmosphere has approximately 800 times the greenhouse effect of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

If we apply that to the total amount of greenhouse effect on the atmosphere, and it is thought that the Earthís atmosphere would have a temperature of about 0 F, if there were no greenhouse effects, versus the average of 59 F at present. The warming that carbon dioxide has caused is less than one tenth of a degree (<.01). Because of the small dipole moment, the concentration would have to rise to more than one half of one percent (5000 ppm) before it would become significant to the Earthís atmosphere.

To be succinct, the matter of carbon dioxide as a factor in global warming or climate change is a red herring, at best, or a bald-faced lie, if we wish to be blunt.

For those reasons, it appears that the idea of carbon dioxide driving recent warming is extremely unlikely. Consider also that while it has been determined that the average surface temperature of Earth would be about zero degrees Fahrenheit, if there were no greenhouse effect, rather than the present average of fifty-five degrees. water vapor is responsible for about fifty-two degrees of that; carbon dioxide is responsible for about two degrees, and other greenhouse gases are responsible for the other degree.

There has been an increase in warming since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution around 1750 CE, and some people assert that that warming was caused by increased burning of organic fuels, which put more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, but that ignores that fact that the Earth was still in the Little Ice Age at that time, and it was warming from natural events. The warming that took us out of the Little Ice Age has yet not topped out. If we compare temperatures now with the Medieval Warm Period and the Roman Warm Period, then we can expect additional warming.

People who assert that human activity has been the cause of warming ignore the effects of the Solar cycles and the Milkovitch cycles in the Earth's orbit and rotation. But more serious is the matter of in earlier periods there was much more atmospheric carbon dioxide during ice ages. While correlation does not show causation, counter examples usually show that there is not a cause-effect relationship. The idea of carbon dioxide causing climate change is a red herring.

If the climate change alarmists had done a good, logical presenting their argument, then the argument would be worthy of serious consideration, but there are major logical fallacies in the climate change argument, and those fallacies bring the whole concept into doubt.
Logical fallacies of climate change alarmists:

I do not think that there has been no climate change or global warming. I have no doubt that there has been continued warming as the Earth has warmed since the end of the Little Ice Age, but the mechanism for warming that has been put forth would not work.

I encourage reader to read the linked pages for more information.

On the lack of relationship between CO2 levels and temperature from prehistoric evidence:

cyclical climate change

Climate cycles

Climate cycles

Milankovitch Cycles

Updated 09-28-2019 at 06:25 PM by PeterL