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Science

Unexplained Leap In CO2 Levels 1215

Posted by Hemos
from the when-not-if? dept.
Cally writes "The Guardian is reporting that atmospheric CO2 concentrations have leapt by 4.5 ppm in the last two years. This raises the ugly possibility that the capacity of a large carbon sink (possibly the oceans) has been exceeded, and the worst-case scenario is that a tipping point has been reached and a runaway warming scenario is in progress. Quote from Dr. Piers Foster of Reading University: 'If this is a rate change, of course it will be very significant. It will be of enormous concern, because it will imply that all our global warming predictions for the next hundred years or so will have to be redone.'"
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Unexplained Leap In CO2 Levels

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  • by freedom_india (780002) on Monday October 11, 2004 @07:38AM (#10491999) Homepage Journal
    why do i get an uneasy feeling that the movie The Day After Tomorrow is coming alive...?
  • last two years... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Daniel Ellard (799842) on Monday October 11, 2004 @07:38AM (#10492000)
    Any chance this has something to do with burning oil wells? (I guess if so then there would have been another spike about ten years ago...)

  • by cluge (114877) on Monday October 11, 2004 @07:46AM (#10492066) Homepage

    Peat Bogs outburn Western Europe New Scientist 18 Oct 1997


    PEAT bogs in Indonesia that have been set alight by the country's raging forest fires could release more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere over the next six months than all the power stations and car engines of Western Europe emit in a year. The finding backs up claims that the fires could have a significant impact on global warming.


    Sometimes there is very little that we can do to stop the production of CO2 into our atmosphere. Natural causes, like breathing put tonnes of CO2 into the air. Why haven't we begun a program using iron oxide spread on the ocean to trap and remove CO2? It's viability was proved years ago?. Why are environmentalist opposed to a scientific solution?

  • Re:More on sinks (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Cat_Byte (621676) on Monday October 11, 2004 @07:51AM (#10492106) Journal
    I believe Scientific American had an article about all of the CO2 that was trapped underwater. With all of the hurricane activity lately I wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't just stirring it up a bit. This is just speculation though.
  • Re:More on sinks (Score:1, Interesting)

    by bgarcia (33222) on Monday October 11, 2004 @07:52AM (#10492115) Homepage Journal
    The scientific evidence that humans are affecting the climate with CO2 is as clear as day
    Yes, because having 3 simultaneously-active volcanoes sputtering out CO2 couldn't possibly have anything to do with a rise in CO2 levels. It must be those pesky humans!

    Everybody, stop exhaling immediately!

  • Remember that talking about Global Warming is very unpatriotic in the US!

    Just ask a "sponsored" (read: lobbied) politican.
    Then ask a "censored" (read: cut off from money because of non compliant research) scientist.
  • Re:More on sinks (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RodgerDodger (575834) on Monday October 11, 2004 @07:58AM (#10492160)
    There is no question that human activity has resulted in increased carbon dioxide levels.

    Of course, we don't emit as much CO2 now as was done in the mid-12th century (aka "the Little Ice Age"); over a period of about 50 years, it got so cold that about 75% of the Black Forest was cut down, reducing it to smaller than its current size. All of that went up in smoke.

    And we don't emit as much in a year as a good size active volcano can do in a week. But we do emit enough to cause CO2 levels to rise.

    Of course, the link to changes in _climate_ from increased CO2 levels isn't really clear. Global warming is the common concern, but the opposite has just as much evidence, and there's even a lot to show that any effect either way will simply cause a negative feedback loop to stop it. Nobody really knows, because climate studies are a real bitch to figure out.

    Of the two, an iceage is probably more likely than warming, anyway; we're overdue for one, and the sun appears to be going into another contraction cycle (which means less heat coming in). And frankly, the Earth spends most of its time as a snowball; the nice weather we get these days is purely an aberation that will correct itself over time.
  • by PrionPryon (733902) on Monday October 11, 2004 @08:04AM (#10492204)
    Of course, then you see graphs like this [grida.no] and you wonder, do people pick data sets that conform to their bias?
  • Re:What about.. (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 11, 2004 @08:05AM (#10492215)
    I think it's likely that the model as such isn't that far off, but some of the parameters are not as well known as we would like, particularly the capacity of natural CO2 buffers.
  • Re:Her ? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Harmfulfreeradical (800606) on Monday October 11, 2004 @08:07AM (#10492237)
    Mother nature is commonly referred to as 'her.' This isn't a scientific dissertation, I'm free to make my own labels. Get a life, my analysis? It's a comment! Where's your clever take on all of this then? If the scientists don't know whats going, telling us its too early to judge, and yet we should be cautious, you have the 'answer' that gives you the right to call other people's 'comments' idiotic?
  • by Harmfulfreeradical (800606) on Monday October 11, 2004 @08:09AM (#10492251)
    You guys are way to serious. I said 'we' lose mass, which means 'we the humans' not earth. When we die, mass is transferred back to earth. This thing was supposed to be a parody. Maybe I'm just bad at it, and this isn't a tech forum, but a scientific community?
  • Your math is WAY off (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Tolvor (579446) on Monday October 11, 2004 @08:18AM (#10492313)
    Supposing that Earth was operating in a Gaia-ish fashion and needed to "lighten the load", 30000 human death just wouldn't cut it. The human population of Earth is 4.5 billion. Assuming an earth-average pop growth rate of 0.25% (I *know* that pop growth is *negative* in US, China, Japan, Britian, and parts of Africa, but Earth average is positive still) that means 11,250,000 new people on the planet every year (at a minimum). For just summer that would be 2,812,500, and *that* is just to break even. For a healthy die back for the planet, it has to exceed that value. 30,000 doesn't even begin to cut it. Earth needs a major (NON nuclear) war to break out between two large populations, inflicting heavy civilian casulaties. Hmmm... better not give it any ideas...
  • Re:More on sinks (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Oddly_Drac (625066) on Monday October 11, 2004 @08:30AM (#10492411)
    "Easy, man like many silly people, he is mistaking the cause and the effect."

    I'm just miffed that the only block of people on the planet arguing that there is no problem appear to be American. The EU has already issued warnings and the UK in particular has been engaged on sorting the Co2 output for _ten years_.

    "Nearly all of this research shows global warming which makes people complain that it is an industry."

    Meanwhile, Rome burns.

  • Re:Convergence (Score:3, Interesting)

    by arivanov (12034) on Monday October 11, 2004 @08:31AM (#10492426) Homepage
    You missed Cumbre Viejo. If it slides as its northern brother did 1.2 million years ago there will be nothing left on the entire US coast. Remember the end of the Deep Impact movie? The same.

    In btw, interestingly enough it is all hitting mostly the US :-)
  • Re:More on sinks (Score:5, Interesting)

    by GooberToo (74388) on Monday October 11, 2004 @08:34AM (#10492450)
    I saw a story on (I think) PBS about this. A guy, many years ago (5-8 years) marked off some plots in various locations. Once a year he goes and samples the soil from these plots. His finding was that carbon (CO2) is being depleated from the soil. In turn, the the warming planet will increase the rate of CO2 release from the soil. IIRC, from his test plots, the carbon levels present in his plots were down something like 5x what they were when he started his experiment.

    His conclusion that the warming of the planet will greatly accelerate the release of carbon from the soil, which in turn, will warm the planet, which in turn will release more carbon from the soil. As you can see, he predicts a nasty spiral.

    Perhaps someone here saw this story too and can offer the name of it? Perhaps it was a Nova show? I must admit, I did not see the whole show, nor did I pay a lot of attention to it? So, perhaps I missed some details. At any rate, hopefully someone will provide more details.

  • This is just hype... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Ingolfke (515826) on Monday October 11, 2004 @08:47AM (#10492574) Journal
    If you read the article you'll see that these scientists are really saying they don't know WTF is going on, and they're using their ignorance to stir up the folks at Greenpeace. No doubt to raise more funding for their research.

    And considering the DVD for The Day After Tomorrow [thedayaftertomorrow.com] comes out tomorrow I really have to question whether this is anything more than a well placed promotion.

    Either way, global warming or not, call me when we're ready to start the looting.
  • Re:More on sinks (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Short Circuit (52384) * <mikemol@gmail.com> on Monday October 11, 2004 @08:51AM (#10492610) Homepage Journal
    Sure...when your POV has already been explained in countless scientific (and non-scientific) circles using evidence that's been collected for over one hundred years.

    The real problem is human nature; Most people don't have any sort of reliable memory for things they don't understand...which is why it's frequently necessary to reiterate valid scientific positions.
  • Re:More on sinks (Score:5, Interesting)

    by armb (5151) on Monday October 11, 2004 @08:55AM (#10492641) Homepage
    If there was proof, he wouldn't be saying if the tipping point has been reached, would he? Too busy doing statistics to do logic?

    Anyway, that article might not specifiy the levels before, but this one [independent.co.uk] does.
    The key parts: "measurements that have been made since 1958 ... When he began, ... 315 parts per million by volume (ppm); today ... 376ppm."
    "Across all 46 years of Dr Keeling's measurements, the average annual CO2 rise has been 1.3ppm, although in recent decades it has gone up to about 1.6ppm.
    There have been several peaks, all associated with El Niño"
    [...]
    "Throughout the series those peaks have been followed by troughs, and there has been no annual increase in CO2 above 2ppm that has been sustained for more than a year. Until now.
    From 2001 to 2002, the increase was 2.08ppm (from 371.02 to 373.10); and from 2002 to 2003 the increase was 2.54ppm (from 373.10 to 375.64). Neither of these were El Niño years, and there has been no sudden leap in emissions."
  • Bull (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 11, 2004 @08:57AM (#10492659)
    If you believe all this crap, I've got a bridge I'd like to sell you.
    CO2 is plant food, not a pollutant.
  • Re:More on sinks (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Trailer Trash (60756) on Monday October 11, 2004 @09:07AM (#10492739) Homepage
    The "other side" tends to be people like me - informed scientists who recognize that the surface temperature of the planet, and the patterns of those temperatures, have naturally fluxuated since the beginning of time, long before human involvement. While human-created CO2 may well be causing global warming (if there is a warming trend), it might also be the natural warming trend that started at the end of the last ice age.

    We need to understand that climates change, always have and always will. We like our current climates, but they won't be here forever, even if we reduce the atmospheric CO2 levels.

    I can imagine you fruitcakes at the end of the ice age: "The glaciers will be *gone* if we don't act now!!!!"

    Well, they're gone.
  • Re:last two years... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by node 3 (115640) on Monday October 11, 2004 @09:16AM (#10492814)
    Isn't the effect of consuming the oil as fuel the same (on a global scale) as lighting the well itself? I realize some oil goes into plastic and fertilizer, etc., so there's that as a plus. Also, fumes from a car are nowhere near as horrible as the plume from a burning well (but the exhaust from a car really should add all of the pollution from the intermediate steps from oil well to the gas tank). In that vein, a lot of energy goes into processing the oil, and not all of it comes from oil. Additionally, I'd assume that not all of the oil gushing from a flaming well is consumed by the fires.

    A sobering thought that simply lighting every oil well on fire might be less polluting than consuming the oil the way we do.
  • Re:More on sinks (Score:4, Interesting)

    by famebait (450028) on Monday October 11, 2004 @09:27AM (#10492927)
    We know that humans have slightly increased CO2 levels in the atmosphere, but hard evidence linking that to temperature rises is minimal.

    You can't get lots of hard evidence until it's too late to avoid massive costs, financial and humanitarian. Demanding hard eveidence when the experiment more or less puts your existence at stake is meaningless. Informed estimates and simulations are all we have to go on.

    Industry uses risk analyses on analogous problems all the time, and even if the probability of the human-caused global warming scenario was very low (which it is not), the potential cost is unbelievably huge. If this was a company-internal issue, a standard risk analysis would flag it so red, no sane management would ignore it the way governments (even the ones who have signed up for kyoto) are now doing.

    From the media you get the impression either that scientists are roughly equally divided about the issue, or that there are just a few flakes still whining about global warming. The truth is that the "no need to worry" camp are a completely marginal fringe within the field.

    The only reason they get heard is because people have heard the warnings for ages, many have grown up with them, so it isn't news and doesn't "sell", wheras the critics go "against the grain", say what people like to hear, and gives the outlets a fake veneer of "balancedness", so the masses lap it up.

    'Global Warming' is a multi-billion dollar a year industry

    What you're basically saying is all research is bogus if the scientists get paid. How do you propose to generate any real information?

  • Re:More on sinks (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DerWulf (782458) on Monday October 11, 2004 @09:30AM (#10492955)
    Convieniently you forget that 'your' side is also afflicted by special interest. How useful is a climat researcher (appearantly anyone who has ever seen an uni from the inside) that tells the government that there is nothing to do? It is beyond doubt that anyone on the government payroll strives from problems, the bigger and the longer to resolve the better. Sucessfull 'programs' always get dismantelt after a set goal is archieved. For the people that get paid for solving the problems this obviously generates a conflict of interest. The research budget for 2000 climate researchers in the US has been 2 billion$ in 2002. When do you think that the budget is increased? The need for generating a problem to justify ones income clearly biases scientists on government payroll. Or why else do you think that the 'industry' is mainly concerned with churning out solutions while the government immediatly jumps unto any scare-train that runs past? Examples are numerous, the murderous scandal regarding DDT quite a ways ahead. Just to think that malaria was on the verge of disappearing and now, after the swift prohibition of DDT because some birds eggs might have fragile shells (utterly debunked claim by the way), it afflicts 500 million people. Incredible.

    The effects of acting upon the fear of global warming, despite conflicting evidence (like the NASA satelite meassurement of global temperature), would be even worse. Civilization strives on energy. Restricting the use of affordable energy sources in the draconian manner that computer models would require will bring about widespread un-civilitation: poverty, hunger, diseases etc. For all people already living on the verge of civilitation this will be certain death. The cost of kyoto alone run into the hundred billion range depending on the actual country. The $150 billion predicted for germany amount to be 5% of the GDP. This is a huge dent for the productivity of an economy and by extension for the wealth of its participants. The extra cost inflicted on industries can have only one consequence: The companies that are already producing 'on the margin' (meaning that any slight increase in costs will convert profits to losses) will have to move somewhere else (presumably somewhere where the kyoto protocol is not in effect) or go broke. The consequential stagnation of tax revenue coupled with the increase in entitlement to government aid (the unemployed) will futher diminish the states chances of implementing necessary wellfare reforms an thereby bringing it closer to the point of 'state-default' with all the really scary effects this can have (see germany in the 1930ies)
    But kyoto alone will hardly do anything if you believe the models that predict the catastrophic climate change.
  • Re:More on sinks (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CreatureComfort (741652) * on Monday October 11, 2004 @09:45AM (#10493081)

    Perhaps most of the people in this discussion should do more research [telegraph.co.uk] and get a better handle on reality and the past climate [scotese.com] of the earth.

    During the last 2 billion years the Earth's climate has alternated between a frigid "Ice House", like today's world, and a steaming "Hot House", like the world of the dinosaurs.

    For the approximately 600 million years that we can reconstruct climatological data, approximately 80 million of those, or 16%, has been at a mean global temerature comparable to today's levels. Another 80 million, or 16%, has been spent at temperatures averaging 5 C higher than current levels, and about 330 million years, or 67%, have been spent a full 10 C higher than current levels. These three "stable" points show great consistancy over the course of millions of years. The remaining 20% falls outside of these three points, but almost completely above the current global mean.

    Global warming is occurring... but it has very little to do with Human presence, and would still continue even if we all killed ourselves off this afternoon. This may be distressing to those living in low lying areas, however eliminating global human emissions of greenhouse gases isn't going to change the fact.

  • by Vintermann (400722) on Monday October 11, 2004 @09:52AM (#10493137) Homepage
    Tim Lambert [unsw.edu.au] has a good article on your source [junkscience.com].
  • Re:More on sinks (Score:2, Interesting)

    by tigersha (151319) on Monday October 11, 2004 @09:55AM (#10493163) Homepage
    SIgh. Yes, that is in the end the problem, but I have to wonder if this does not come from some kind of human arrogance. So what if we die out? WIll the earth's ecosystem die out when we die out? No.

    We are just another species, one of zillions. One with the capability of language and the explosive effect it had with reasoning because it allowed us to express abstract thoughts.

    But if we die off earth will conitunue. The problem is one of arrogance, that humand think they are exalted or something. You are not exalted. Your cells are pretty much the same as any eukaryote. Your DNA is 90% similar to that of a chimpanzee. So is your body (2 arms, 2 legs, laterally symmetrical, bla, bla bla. You basic functions are the same. Lungs, heart that pumps blood, kidney, liver, all these things do the same job in a chimp and other mammals, and, for that matter reptiles and birds too. So, for that matter are most of what makes your personality. Fear, anger, the fight-or-flight-recation, all comes from animals. YOU ARE JUST THE SAME. And earth is what it is all about. We will die out someday, maybe we should get used to the idea.

  • Re:More on sinks (Score:2, Interesting)

    by untaken_name (660789) on Monday October 11, 2004 @09:57AM (#10493184) Homepage
    True. All these people worried about 'the Earth' are in reality worried about their own asses. The Earth has, can, and will survive much worse than humanity could ever do without a coordinated intentional effort. All this talk about 'oh no! species are dying!!1!1', as if that has never happened before. New species arise and old ones die all the time. That's like, the natural order of things and stuff. If humans all died tomorrow, this planet would continue to exist quite happily. Now, whether or not humanity should survive is a valid question, but the survival of the planet isn't in doubt at all. That's why all the 'pro-environment' people all seem so disingenuous to me.
  • by Edmund Blackadder (559735) on Monday October 11, 2004 @10:12AM (#10493291)
    Even if the icecaps melt and the earth gets flooded, people would still say "I don't think we have enough evidence" and "The earth used to be this hot a billion years ago, so stop complaining" and "These scientists are just trying to get more research funding", and "It's just a natural phenomenon we can't do anything about it"

    It is amazing how people will ignore the whole scientific community in favor of several more pleasant sounding lies told by opportunistic politicians.
  • Re:More on sinks (Score:2, Interesting)

    by letxa2000 (215841) on Monday October 11, 2004 @10:34AM (#10493495)
    We're actually in a warm spell, in the middle of an Ice Age. The tempertures should, on average, be going down, not up.

    How on earth can you possibly presume to know that? Perhaps we're still on the upward slope aiming for a temperature peak before temperatures come down. On what science are you basing your assumption that temperatures should, on average, be coming down?

    The fact that the temperatures are rising at all is significant.

    The fact is that it's not a fact that temperatures are rising. Or do you global warmers still ignore the satellite record of the last 2+ decades?

    The fact that they have sharply risen only since the Industrial Revolution in the 1800s is also significant.

    And the fact that they haven't risen in the 2+ decades that we've had a truly accurate global measure of temperature is also significant.

  • by Mr.Sharpy (472377) on Monday October 11, 2004 @10:36AM (#10493517)
    Surely this is a troll, but I'll go anyway.

    I'm always amazed by the sheer hubris that people display in assuming that their choice of car can affect anything so massive as a planet. Really, you are not that important.

    Let's change that statement a bit to say "I'm always amazed by the sheer hubris that people display in assuming that their choice of candidate can affect anything so massive as a country. Really, you are not that important." That sounds pretty retarded, doesn't it.

    Perhaps singly, you or I may not make much of a difference to the world. Between 1996 and 2001, there were an average of ~8.5 million new cars sold [bts.gov] each year. And that is just in the US and only includes passenger cars! That means people made that inconsequential decision on low emission car or high consumption SUV about 42.5 million times over those five years, and once again that's just the US.

    Assuming that because *I* am a single person I have no responsibility to the environment whatsoever because my choices couldn't possibly make a difference is selfish, delusional and part of the reason we have the problem we have now. Would you tell someone that their vote doesn't matter (carping about parties and electoral colleges aside), and therefore they might as well just skip it all together? It's about more than you, it's about everybody making responsible choices.

    Despite a great deal of outlandish claims from many people, there's no particular evidence to suggest that humanity is having a significant impact on the planet. Claiming that we have the capability to make any kind of significant impression on something so huge and ancient is self-delusion in extremes. At most, we could wipe *ourselves* out, but the planet wouldn't care; extinction of a species is quite normal for it.

    Well, to that I might remind you that homo sapiens are the only species that sets things on fire, on purpose. That fact alone should demonstrate that people have a slightly different impact in their environment than most other animals. If you don't want to listen to the "outlandish claims" of the majority of environmental scientists that the environment is changing due to our actions, let's reflect on some of the things we know we do. The fact is that we DO have signifigant impressions on the world. When it is a positive certainty that our SO2 and NOx emissions cause acid rain [epa.gov] locally and regionally that can disrupt ecosystems and destroy forests, how much of a stretch is it to be concerned with the effects of other human sourced gas emissions.

    Changing the environment, that's what we do, it's how we live. Since 1600, there have been 584 species presummed extinct just in the US, suggesting a 7,000 fold increase [uconn.edu]in the rate of extinctions since the industrial revolution. It's pretty hard to deny a connection to human activity with numbers like that, and I'd say that's a pretty signifigant impression on the world. I, for one, don't particularly care to join the other animals we have already pushed out of existence.

    At present, only really careful archaeology would be able to find any trace of us in a few million years time; that's barely noticable on geological timescales. The dinosaurs were more obvious. The assumption in the past few years that humanity is responsible for any changes it doesn't understand is quite pathetic.

    I'm not really concerned with a few million years down the road right now. I'm more concerned with the immediate (next 100-1000 years) well being of our species. While correlation does not necessarily imply causation, at some point you have to begin to wonder. I think it's pretty irresponsbile to write off our activity here on the planet as benign when we already have evidence that we
  • probably is warming (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 11, 2004 @10:40AM (#10493560)
    Scripps did a study of microbe skeletons in ocean floor layers. From the skelitcal remains they showed that indeed there is more co2 in the atmosphere today than in the past. The graph was very cyclical with peaks of the same magnitude for thousands of years. The chart shows a spike beginning at the industrial revolution that is larger than all the preceeding peaks on the chart. They took core samples off the coast of south america.

    I think its the problem is a rate game. The rate that the environment can process back the co2. eg. acid rain reacts with the earths surface. Or acid reacts with all the metal in the sea sand or other materials like lime. ( stick a magnet in the sand ) If the production rate is higher then we have accumulation.

    16 of the 20 most polluting cities are in China. I saw an article yesterday that France signed a multibillion dollar deal with China to build industrial equipment. They were going to invite president Chirac to an airshow. But they had to cancel the airshow because the atmosphere was at a toxic level. Most people were told to stay indoors. Most of that c02 comes from chinese peasants burning coal pallets to stay warm. Most of the new Chinese cars have low emissions standards. Also, the massive demand in China is driving up commodity prices like oil.
  • by mcbevin (450303) on Monday October 11, 2004 @10:59AM (#10493776) Homepage
    Why are environmentalist opposed to a scientific solution?

    Is that a question or a statement? What makes you assume that environmentalists are opposed to scientific solutions per se?

    Do you not think that developing greener cars or greener ways of creating energy are 'scientific' solutions? Or using technology to reduce the CO2 emissions from existing power plants / factories? Or using more efficient light bulbs etc etc? Environmentalists seem to generally support these things, in addition to other methods. If they're against any 'scientific' solution (i.e. say nuclear energy or this idea of yours) its not due to it being scientific, rather (possibly overblown) concerns about side-effects it may have (i.e. nuclear waste).

    Also, the fact that there are unavoidable causes of CO2 doesn't mean we shouldn't avoid the avoidable - the earth exists in a balance (i.e. of CO2 sinks and sources), and its the very avoidable increases over the past few hundred years in our increase in CO2 that appear to be tipping the balance, not the occasional forest fire etc which have always occasionally happened.
  • by pclminion (145572) on Monday October 11, 2004 @11:12AM (#10493970)
    Sometimes there is very little that we can do to stop the production of CO2 into our atmosphere. Natural causes, like breathing put tonnes of CO2 into the air.

    Wrong.

    1. CO2 in the atmosphere is absorbed by leaves of a corn plant.
    2. Corn is harvested.
    3. You eat the corn.
    4. You metabolize the nutrients in the corn.
    5. You breath out the waste product of that metabolism: CO2 gas.
    6. Go to step 1.

    It takes less than a year for this cycle to complete. So no, human breathing has no net effect on CO2 in the atmosphere. In fact, because the world population is increasing, there is actually a net loss of CO2 (there's lots of carbon in a human body) due to the mere fact of human presence.

    Why haven't we begun a program using iron oxide spread on the ocean to trap and remove CO2?

    Suppose it's too effective and absorbs too much. Now we're in an ice age. Apparently, though, you feel comfortable ignoring that possibility.

    Why are environmentalist opposed to a scientific solution?

    A "scientific solution" which involves dumping massive amounts of chemicals into open ocean water, and hoping that experimental results in a lab actually scale up by billions of times, and have no unforseen negative impacts?

  • Re:More on sinks (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Da Fokka (94074) on Monday October 11, 2004 @11:19AM (#10494055) Homepage

    The fact is that it's not a fact that temperatures are rising. Or do you global warmers still ignore the satellite record of the last 2+ decades?

    * SNIP *

    And the fact that they haven't risen in the 2+ decades that we've had a truly accurate global measure of temperature is also significant.

    The very thesis of the Global Warming Theory is that less energy is radiated outward because of greenhouse gases. The observation that sattelite measurements do not show a rise in radiated energy (the only kind you can measure from space) only support this thesis.

  • Re:More on sinks (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rjh (40933) <rjh@sixdemonbag.org> on Monday October 11, 2004 @11:34AM (#10494210)
    Your .sig is telling.
    I'm impressed by how you come to that conclusion without knowing how that came to pass. That was something my friend Phil Munson said about me in October 1994, at his marriage to Sonja Backstrom. Phil's employer was a DoD agency concerned with secrecy, and thus whenever he was asked what he did, his answer was the same: "Unamerican activities, like fortifying cereals and irradiating meats."

    At his bachelor party, I gave him a box of Golden Grahams and an irradiated pot roast. His brother, Mike, asked if it was really irradiated. I was about to answer when Phil interjected with "Most people are never thought about after they're gone. 'I wonder where Rob got the plutonium' is better than most get."

    It was, is, probably the funniest thing anyone's ever said about me, and that's why it's my .sig.

    Now that you've heard the story, would you care to revise your theory about me having a plutonium fetish?
  • by Somegeek (624100) on Monday October 11, 2004 @11:36AM (#10494239)
    I imported the data from the table that you linked into a spreadsheet and calculated each of the absolute month to month differences.

    There were no month to month variations greater than 2.53 ppm, let alone 4!

    Where did you come up with the data that "4 ppm would be a normal monthly swing?"

    Summary:
    Over 500 months of valid data.
    Only 35 months >= 2.0 ppm month to month variation.
    Only 2 months > 2.5 ppm month to month variation.

    Top ten greatest month to month variations (in ppm):

    aug-sep 1983 2.53
    jul-aug 2002 2.53
    jul-aug 1995 2.44
    jul-aug 1965 2.34
    jul-aug 1999 2.33
    aug-sep 1997 2.32
    aug-sep 1999 2.31
    jul-aug 1960 2.27
    jul-aug 1982 2.24
    jul-aug 1989 2.23
    jul-aug 2003 2.12
  • Global Warming (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cdrguru (88047) on Monday October 11, 2004 @12:03PM (#10494612) Homepage
    If you accept the current beliefs on this, it is fairly obvious that we need to restrict output of CO2 to limits that will allow it to be naturally absorbed. This is pretty much pre-industrial or early industrial age limits. We are not talking about 1990 levels anymore - that is perhaps a start, but it isn't much of a start. If that is what is needed to shock people into realizing what "sustainable CO2 emissions" means, by all means, let's implement those limits.

    But, if the "solution" for the problem is to implement a "sustainable" carbon cycle on the planet, there are some pretty significant changes coming down.

    First off, can we take it as a given that all practical forms of energy use produce undesirable byproducts? OK, I suppose a windmill does not produce many, but it is difficult to envision the current electrical consumption being supported by wind power. Solar (PV electric generation) in a large scale will produce far more pollutants than any other generation methods except perhaps nuclear - just from manufacturing the cells in large enough quantities.

    The question then becomes can we continue with current energy use levels? Wouldn't seem so. The main problem isn't just pollution - it is the waste products from energy use. CO2 is one of those. Heat is another. If the target is "sustainable" we need to look at the effects of using any form of energy over hundreds of years. Simple - if we were using sunshine as the only energy source at the same levels the planet is consuming energy at this would cause serious side effects. So, the answer must be to reduce energy consumption - not decrease energy "wastage" or increase efficiency, but actually decrease consumption. This is the only effective long-term answer.

    I think you can pick a date between 1800 and 1950 where energy use became "unsustainable" over the long term. If nothing else, the waste heat from this energy consumption would spell the end for the planet. Therefore, if the goal is to have a "sustainable" environment we must reduce the energy use to those levels which will allow natural processes (heat radiation to space, carbon recyling, etc.) to cope with this energy use. Some improvements can be obtained by greater effiencies available today than were available previously, so we can actually choose a date at which previously unsustainable energy use was taking place and still be able to have a sustainable environment. However, it is not possible to make this up at today's levels. This would entail a world population of perhaps 10 million at most with a comfortable lifestyle. It might be possible for the population to be as high as 50 million, but these people would have a low life expectancy and live in conditions that could only be described as abysmal - something like Bangladesh today, or worse.

    The threat is clear - if we want to choose a sustainable environment, we need to begin implementing population reduction measures immediately. There are just too many people to reduce the energy consumption levels to that which could possibly be sustainable. Anyone that says differently is deluding themselves. At the current world population level we would need to kill more than a million people a day just to make a dent in the problem, and even at that rate it would take nearly 20 years.

    The other way to look at the problem is that energy use isn't sustainable at a planetary level and resources from outside are needed. We have the technology and skills to move in this direction, but it would require some understanding that this was actually necessary for our survival. I don't think we are there, and universities are churning out people that believe we must be sustainable within our planetary environment. Do you think they understand the population problem? I don't.

  • Re:More on sinks (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mrseth (69273) on Monday October 11, 2004 @12:30PM (#10494916) Homepage
    Fortunately, most of them never collect enough shiny things to begin collecting the neighbors. This is why you've probably never heard of this...
  • Re:More on sinks (Score:3, Interesting)

    by It'sYerMam (762418) <{thefishface} {at} {gmail.com}> on Monday October 11, 2004 @12:49PM (#10495087) Homepage
    Historically, temperatures have risen before the start of another Ice Age. We're approximately at the right time for another Ice Age.
    People who say that other people are not informed but "informed" often haven't even bothered looking at the facts themselves.

    The crux of the problem is that the earth is such a complicated place, and we cannot know exactly what's going on in its climate.
    There is no doubt, however, that there is too much pollution. Whether it is causing a rise in temperature is NOT certain. This I believe is where how informed you are comes in - there ARE two sides, but only in certain areas. If you're arguing that pollution doesn't matter, you're wrong. (To put it arrogantly.)

  • Re:More on sinks (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jerf (17166) on Monday October 11, 2004 @12:53PM (#10495133) Journal
    His conclusion that the warming of the planet will greatly accelerate the release of carbon from the soil, which in turn, will warm the planet, which in turn will release more carbon from the soil. As you can see, he predicts a nasty spiral.

    You have to watch out for people like this. People who predict unrestrained runaway processes have a very important and critical question to answer: "If the process is so easy to set off and runs in such an unrestrained fashion, answer one of two questions: a. Why hasn't it happened before, or b. What stopped it last time?"

    Remember, the planet has been warmer and cooler, a lot in both directions. One of them should have set off this runaway effect that we're supposed to be so scared of. Why is it a problem this time and not last time?

    I'm not saying there are no answers. I'm saying for any given threat, if there are no answers, then it probably isn't worth worrying about.
  • Re:More on sinks (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Phragmen-Lindelof (246056) on Monday October 11, 2004 @12:57PM (#10495182)
    "Come on guys, your liberalism is showing."
    Not everything is political. There is a consistent record of increasing concentrations of CO2 over time. This increase corresponds to an increase in the production of CO2 by humans (coal, oil, etc.); the predicted increase is twice the observed increase, possibly because the oceans have acted as CO2 sinks. The record on CO2 concentrations goes back about 800,000 years [bbc.co.uk] (also interesting [ornl.gov]). I assume that any reasonable person can accept this information (i.e. this is not political).

    The next question is what is the impact this increasing concentration of CO2 (and other "greenhouse" gasses) on the climate. No one has a completely correct answer. A variety of mathematical models have been used and the predictions of these models have been tested in various ways (e.g. comparison with existing recoreds). None of these models is perfect. However, the majority of scientists who study climate questions, using a variety of techniques, conclude that the increased concentration of greenhouse gasses has contributed and will contribute to a warming of the earth's atmosphere. No one knows exactly how great will be this increase and this is a subject of great interest.

  • Re:More on sinks (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 11, 2004 @01:16PM (#10495415)
    I strongly suggest you read this speech [s8int.com] before you start making accusatory remarks about those that disagree with you.
  • Re:More on sinks (Score:2, Interesting)

    by letxa2000 (215841) on Monday October 11, 2004 @01:50PM (#10495793)
    Someone else said: Yeah, well we've proven that CO2 causes a greenhouse effect, and that our carbon sinks aren't soaking it up as fast as we pull it out of the earth and burn it.

    I said: We have? I've seen that asserted. I've seen that theorized But I havent' seen that proof. Can you link to it please?

    You said: C02 has physical properties such that it creates a heat retaining insulating blanket around the globe. And it is beyond dispute that both CO2 levels and temperature are rising.

    1. It's not beyond dispute that temperature is rising. The satellite record indicates quite the opposite.

    2. Neither you nor anyone else has provided a link showing that our carbon sinks aren't soaking up what we burn. While you can point to an increasing CO2 level and conclude that the carbon sinks aren't keeping up with CO2 production, you can't say that that is only humans' fault.

    There is no proof that humans are increasing the temperature of the earth. There isn't even conclusive proof that temperatures are still rising. They haven't in the 2+ decades of the satellite record. Maybe they did at the beginning of the century but that doesn't seem to be an ongoing trend.

  • by aristotle-dude (626586) on Monday October 11, 2004 @02:18PM (#10496090)
    If they were, as some suggested, taken at the top of a volcano, the results are totally garbage.
  • Re:More on sinks (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Some_Llama (763766) on Monday October 11, 2004 @03:48PM (#10496970) Homepage Journal
    "the scientific debate is closing against us."

    Sounds a lot like the tobacco lobby pre-admittance that tobacco causes cancer and is addictive...
  • by alizard (107678) <alizardNO@SPAMecis.com> on Monday October 11, 2004 @04:48PM (#10497480) Homepage
    Horseshit. He didn't cite any evidence, just an assertion that he is a "scientist".
  • by davidsyes (765062) on Monday October 11, 2004 @05:18PM (#10497763) Homepage Journal
    I understand that China is keenly interested in HYBRID vehicles being given entry priority.

    I have harped away off and on over the past 2 or so years, as if I have a Chinese Officials audience, with, essentially, these points for China:

    China, PLEASE, PLEASE, for your domestic consumption, national security, and local and global pollution concerns:

    --don't let in ANY foreign vehicles which don't offer hybrid or Honda ULEV (ultra low emission vehicle) standards

    --don't let your nation have hundreds of thousands or millions of new drivers monthly taking to the roads in pollution-belching, smog-assisting vehicles. If Ford, Chevy, Dodge, Chrysler, GM, and the rest of them drag ass/drag feet and don't want to DO what they technically CAN and KNOW how to do, then to heck with them. Honda and Toyota can give you what you and the world needs: Cleaner vehicles

    --DON'T let your nation become more addicted to oil for all those new vehicles coming ashore. If you do, you could find yourself in the position of being AT THE MERCY of the US, should the US decided to grab the oil fields you and Japan and the rest of Asia need to remain opened and unfettered. If you face being starved by the US, it could force your hand and make you precipitate a war, war which no on needs

    --Lighter vehicles, particulary the non-allowance of SUVs, would allow your roads to last longer, requiring lest tar, asphalt, cement and other materials which also exude chemicals under harsh sunlight, and material which is worn off and sent into drains or into the air

    I rattled on with more details, but these are the salient points. Besides, if more cars are produced locally there, and are cleaner, less maritime/marine fuel would be used shipping all over the place.

    So, to me, it seems China WANTS to publicly, if not actually, do a nice part. We'll see, though, in a few years, based on satellite imagery.

    The time is NOW for automakers to get off their oil-shackled asses and start mass-producing hybrids and lower-horsepower vehicles so that economies of scale will forever shut down the squealing, lying-assed manufacturers garbage about "we're losing money on hybrids".

    First of all, they're outright lying to maintain their comfort zone.

    Second, they're being manipulated from within and without to dupe the public into not pressuring them as much.

    Third, NO, I repeat NO average citizen joe or jane deserves or has any RIGHT to drive a recklessly irresponsible, gas-swilling vehicle high-horsepower. Why should civilian vehicles (other than the weak argument of allowing citizenry to "blow off steam on occasion) have over 150 horsepower? WHY? Just to pass up somebody? Show off some status? Evade or speed away from a stalker? BS excuses, and poor, weak states of mind, I think.

    Horsepower, necessitated by heavier, show-off vehicles, and coupled with mindless demand for ever-increasing "POWER and SPEED" contribute to the production of major gulpers of fuel.

    The ONLY I repeat ONLY entities entitled to drive powerful vehicles should be:

    -law enforcement
    -heavy construction
    -product transportation
    -mass transit
    -fire, medical, and rescue teams
    -agriculture
    -SOME, but not all, individuals who demonstrate a need to be securely transported from point A to B

    and similar.

    Individuals who THINK they need a gas-swilling vehicle need to rethink their options, and change their habits. If they think this piece of my mind is an encroachment upon "their rights" then maybe THEY should play chicken in the road to earthmovers that can crush them; maybe THEY should be put into rooms hooked to CO2 and other exhaust by products; maybe THEY should have a greatly higher property tax or use tax on road-wearing, air-heating, intimidation-exuding vehicles.

    I don't expect "perfection", but dammit, the progress towards cleaner combustion or pure electric with reduced horsepower needs to be sped up.

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