Carbon Dioxide and Climate Change Deniers

Nearly a billion dollars a year is flowing into the organized climate change counter-movement.

There are so called experts who made a living out of denying the science of climate change and confusing the public on the climate change issues.  Many of them are well-paid operatives of organizations like The Heartland Institute, CFACT, and Americans for Prosperity, which take contributions from fossil fuel corporations – including Exxon Mobil, the Koch Brothers and their Koch Industries – who seek to delay or block any substantial government policy initiatives meant to curb fossil fuel emissions or hasten the rapid growth of cheaper, cleaner sources of energy like wind and solar power.

Source: Splinter News

Climate change deniers are defined as who deny, dismiss, or promote unwarranted doubt that contradicts the scientific consensus on climate change, including the extent to which it is caused by humans, its effects on nature and human society, or the potential of adaption to global warming by human actions.

Source: Common Dreams

Deniers suggest climate change is just part of the natural cycle. Or that climate models are unreliable and too sensitive to carbon dioxide (CO2). Some even suggest that CO₂ is such a small part of the atmosphere it cannot have a large heating affect. Adding to the general confusion, highly active “climate-change deniers” claim that temperature has evolved independently of CO2 atmospheric concentrations through Earth’s history, and that therefore today’s rising CO2 levels are not an issue.

Source: Bizpac Review

Contrary to what climate change deniers believe or claim, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which includes more than 1,300 scientists from the United States and other countries, not only believes that climate change is real but also forecasts a temperature rise of 2.5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit over the next century.

Here is an image based on the information from the World Health Organization (WHO) which illustrates the potential impact of climate change on human health:

It is a scientific fact that global heating is an existential threat to humanity. As CO2 pours into our atmosphere, temperatures increase, sea levels rise, diseases spread food crops fail and so on.

Source: olex.com.au

Climate scientists have high confidence that global temperatures will continue to rise for decades to come, largely due to greenhouse gases produced by human activities and CO2 indeed is a major greenhouse gas

A gas that absorbs and radiates heat. Warmed by sunlight, Earth’s land and ocean surfaces continuously radiate thermal infrared energy (heat). Unlike oxygen or nitrogen (which make up most of our atmosphere), greenhouse gases absorb that heat and release it gradually over time, like bricks in a fireplace after the fire goes out. Without this natural greenhouse effect, Earth’s average annual temperature would be below freezing instead of close to 60°F. But increases in greenhouse gases have tipped the Earth’s energy budget out of balance, trapping additional heat and raising Earth’s average temperature. 

The following image illustrates the main property of CO2, invisibility, which causes global warming:

CO2 comprises two oxygen atoms and one carbon atom, which occurs naturally through the carbon cycle and burning fossil fuels. The carbon cycle refers to the tons of CO2 that oceans and plants remove from the atmosphere. Natural sources release CO2 back into the environment.

Source: gotopac.com

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, natural sources of CO2 include plants and animal respiration, volcanic eruptions and ocean releases. Here are some other characteristics of CO2:

  • Food Processing: The global food industry depends on CO2 for short-term and long-term refrigeration of food products. CO2 not only serves as a refrigerant, but it also acts as an anaerobic agent, which boosts the chemical’s value for food preservation purposes. Many food processors use CO2 for individual quick freeze, grinding and commercial packaging;
  • Plant Growth: The Endowment for Medical Research cites university studies that show increasing the level of CO2 to 550 parts per million (ppm) speeds up plant growth as much as 40 per cent in a controlled greenhouse environment. The CO2 levels in the average greenhouse, with a closed ventilation system, decreases to 150 ppm to 200 ppm. During the summer, opening the ventilation system allows fresh air into the greenhouse, which increases the CO2 level. However, during the winter, in northern regions, the circulation of cold outside air into heated greenhouses could kill plants;
  • Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Greenhouse gases, such as nitrous oxide, methane and CO2, affect the heat flow to and from the earth’s atmosphere. Some scientists argue the huge increase in CO2 and other greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere will cause the average worldwide temperature to increase anywhere from -16.6 to -11.3 degrees Celsius by 2100, according to the Environmental Defense Fund. This rise could have negative consequences, including severe droughts and powerful storms; and
  • Toxicity: High indoor levels of CO2 could lead to severe health effects, even death. According to “Current Science” magazine, studies have demonstrated that people can sense a decline in air quality when CO2 levels reach 600 ppm. When CO2 reaches or exceeds this level, then individuals usually begin to demonstrate signs of CO2 poisoning, including a rapid pulse rate, loss of hearing, breathing difficulties and sweating and fatigue.

CO2 indeed is a complicated greenhouse gas.

Here is another scientific fact that CO2 is an important heat-trapping (greenhouse) gas, which is released through:

  1. Human Activities:
    • Deforestation; and
    • Burning Fossil Fuels.
  2. Natural Processes:
    • Respiration; and
    • Volcanic Eruptions.

Here is a graph to illustrate Human Sources for CO2 :

Source: whatsyourimpact.org

Here is a graph to illustrate Natural Sources for CO2 :

Source: sites.google.com

The global average atmospheric carbon dioxide in 2018 was 407.4 parts per million (ppm for short), with a range of uncertainty of plus or minus 0.1 ppm. Carbon dioxide levels today are higher than at any point in at least the past 800,000 years.

In fact, the last time the atmospheric CO2 amounts were this high was more than 3 million years ago, when temperature was 2°–3°C (3.6°–5.4°F) higher than during the pre-industrial era, and sea level was 15–25 meters (50–80 feet) higher than today.

Here is a graph to illustrate the point:

In the 1960s, the global growth rate of atmospheric carbon dioxide was roughly 0.6 ± 0.1 ppm per year. Over the past decade, however, the growth rate has been closer to 2.3 ppm per year. The annual rate of increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide over the past 60 years is about 100 times faster than previous natural increases, such as those that occurred at the end of the last ice age 11,000-17,000 years ago.

It is true that CO2 concentrations are rising mostly because of the fossil fuels that people are burning for energy. Fossil fuels like coal and oil contain carbon that plants pulled out of the atmosphere through photosynthesis over the span of many millions of years; we are returning that carbon to the atmosphere in just a few hundred years. 

It is also true that CO2 is the most important of Earth’s long-lived greenhouse gases. It absorbs less heat per molecule than the greenhouse gases methane or nitrous oxide, but it’s more abundant and it stays in the atmosphere much longer. And while carbon dioxide is less abundant and less powerful than water vapor on a molecule per molecule basis, it absorbs wavelengths of thermal energy that water vapor does not, which means it adds to the greenhouse effect in a unique way. Increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide are responsible for about two-thirds of the total energy imbalance that is causing Earth’s temperature to rise.

The following graph illustrates the influence of greenhouse gases:

According to a recent report, Researchers, published on 19 May 2020:

  • Global CO2 emissions from fossil fuels are set to drop by up to seven per cent in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic, but even this dramatic decline — the sharpest since WWII — would barely dent long-term global warming;
  • In early April, coronavirus lockdowns led to a 17 per cent reduction worldwide in carbon pollution compared to the same period last year, according to the first peer-reviewed assessment of the pandemic’s impact on CO2 emissions, published in Nature Climate Change;
  • These extreme decreases are likely to be temporary, however, as they do not reflect structural changes in the economic, transport or energy systems;
  • Four countries or blocs — China, the United States, the European Union and India — accounted for two-thirds of the downturn across the first four months of 2020, equivalent to more than one billion tonnes of CO2;
  • Total emissions from industry and energy last year came to a record 37 billion tonnes;
  • If the global economy recovers to pre-pandemic conditions by mid-June — an unlikely scenario — CO2 emissions in 2020 are projected to drop only 4 percent (Ms. Le Quere and her team calculated); and
  • But if lockdown restrictions persist throughout the year, the decline will be around seven percent.

Kanata, Ontario, Canada 05 July 2020