Visual aid is one of the best instruments to illustrate anything. Pictures, images and graphics are a few of many tools to show an audience information that otherwise can be complicated to understand. But beware, because not all images, pictures and especially graphics are created the same way. Too much information in a graphic whose intent is to simplify a complex issue may turn into a dead end.
In an age where information is key to resolving social, political and scientific problems, it is necessary to look at data very carefully; many times with some extra help. After all, the devil is in the details. The incapacity or inability to look at information closely and carefully, especially if it is in fine print, often drives people to make the wrong decisions.
One of the areas where detailed attention is extremely important is climate science. Why? Because it is not an exact science and that characteristic makes it prone to errors. Preconceived computer models have turned climate science into one of the most challenged matters of all time. The assumption that CO2 emissions are the main cause of, among other things, climate cooling, global warming and now climate change has never been proven scientifically, unless you use computer models that have the pre-established bias against this life giving gas.
CO2 emissions have certainly increased for the past 800,000 years; no climate skeptic argues against that reality. But today’s levels of CO2 are not so far from the ones Earth had 300 or 400 years ago, when industrialization was not even close to what it is today.
Recently, NASA released an animated graphic that supposedly depicts the exponential increase in CO2 emissions to the atmosphere at two different locations: Mauna Loa Volcano and the South Pole. The graphic sets the stage by showing CO2 concentration from 1979 until today. The picture is clear: CO2 emissions went from 335 or so parts per million to almost 400 parts per million. See the graphic below:
(click to enlarge images)
Concentrations of CO2 as shown on this graphic rose steadily, not exponentially, but nonetheless the amount increased. It is important to highlight that much of the alarmism regarding climate change, which by the way has now been renamed as ‘climate disturbance’, is based on CO2 emissions and atmospheric concentration for the last 30 years or so.
A closer look at CO2 concentration in the atmosphere for the previous 25 to 30 years shows that from 1960 to 1980 the presence of CO2 increased steadily, not exponentially. Data in the graph shows that it went from 300 parts per million to 335 parts per million. See below:
After taking a look at the last 54 years, NASA shows us ‘proof’ that CO2 concentrations are not what some people in the scientific community — including NASA — would want many of us to believe. The graphic takes a sudden leap to pre-industrial times going through the 1700s, 1600s to slow down a bit by 1500. Because the movement of the data on the graphic is so sudden, any untrained eye could see one thing only: ‘CO2 concentrations have risen exponentially since pre-industrial time!’.
Concentrations of CO2 went from 300 parts per million in 1960 to about 278 parts per million in the year 500.That is just a difference of 22 parts per million and such increase happened without the help of humans. See the graph below:
At about one minute into the animation, the graphic takes another leap into the past down to 8,000 years ago. At this point, it is very clear that Earth saw levels greater that those seen during pre-industrial times. The fluctuation is represented by a blue line at the bottom of the graphic. From the year 500 to the 8,000 point, CO2 concentrations increased and decreased steadily having one of its lowest points in 15kyBCE where it hit 185 parts per million. See below:
Although the animated graphic appears to show an exponential rise in CO2 concentrations in the last 54 years (from 1960 to 2013), the difference between 398 parts per million (current levels) and 278 parts per million (levels at pre-industrial times) is of only 120 parts per million. What does this data say to the fact that Earth’s atmospheric concentrations of CO2 experienced similar fluctuations in times previous to human industrial activity?
The argument from climate alarmists is that the most recent increase in CO2 concentrations has happened faster. In other words, concentrations in the last half a century have risen significantly (120 parts per million). But is a 120 ppm increase really that dramatic?
It is important to remember that when it comes to climate sensitivity, half a century is a very insignificant sample. Not even the collection of data over hundreds of years provides an accurate picture. That is why it is important to look further back in time, into the hundreds of thousands of years to see something meaningful. Glancing at the data for the last 300,000 years provides all the drama that any climate alarmist would want.
As you will see in the graphic below, Earth experienced exponential swings in atmospheric concentrations of CO2 and all of it happened without the help of humanity. Between 0 and 300,000 kyBCE, atmospheric levels of CO2 went from 185 ppm up to approximately 290 ppm down to about 190 ppm, then up again to around 290 ppm, down to 195 ppm and then up again to 300 ppm. See the graphic below:
I draw three conclusions from these data. First, Earth has seen fluctuations in atmospheric CO2 concentration that are equal or greater than what has been observed in the last half century. Second, all of those significant fluctuations happened without the help of human activity. Third, taking into account that human emissions of CO2 account for only 4% of the total CO2 that is present in the atmosphere, even at the rate of industrial activity seen today, one has to conclude that human activity alone cannot be the driver of climate change.
In fact, CO2 represents only 1% of the total concentration of gases in our planet’s atmosphere. How can a gas that represents only 1% pose such a dire threat to climate? How about the other gases that are up there? Aren’t they more threatening because they have larger concentrations? For example, water vapor and methane account for about 95% of the so-called greenhouse effect.
In reality CO2 poses no threat to climate change and here is some context to understand why:
- CO2 is odorless, colorless, and tasteless. Plants absorb CO2 and emit oxygen as a waste product. Humans and animals breathe oxygen and emit CO2 as a waste product.
- Carbon dioxide is a nutrient, not a pollutant, and all life – plants and animals alike – benefit from more of it. All life on earth is carbon-based and CO2 is an essential ingredient. When plant-growers want to stimulate plant growth, they introduce more carbon dioxide.
- CO2 emissions do not stay in the atmosphere. They are continually recycled by terrestrial plant life and earth’s oceans – the watery repository for most terrestrial carbon dioxide.
- Anthropogenic (man-made) CO2 contributions are responsible for only about 0.117 percent of Earth’s greenhouse effect. Using a real-world comparison, 0.117 percent of a football field would equal just over 4 inches.
- When other anthropogenic greenhouse gases – methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and trace elements such as CFCs – are added to the above CO2 figure (.117 percent), the total human contribution to greenhouse gases is .28 percent.
In conclusion, if global warming or climate change or climate disturbance was a freight train coming towards us right now we would be as hopeless as a little ant attempting to stop that train because natural contributions to CO2 emissions is so much greater that even if we stopped breathing all at once, even if we stopped all industry around the world in order to save ourselves from doom, everything that such a move could achieve would be an impact of 0.28% reduction in CO2 emissions.
More importantly than all of the information given above is that CO2 is not a deadly gas, but a source of life. Even if concentrations were to double or triple, the only direct effect of having more CO2 in our atmosphere would be thriving animal and plan life. In fact, during the Jurassic period, CO2 levels in the atmosphere were in the neighborhood of 1,950 ppm – five times the concentration of today’s modest 385 ppm. During that period, the earth flourished in the fertile embrace of life-giving CO2.
The scare mongering tactics adopted by climate alarmists which stems from NASA, the IPCC, the UN and fake priests like Al Gore is what I call “the magic of climate change pseudoscience” that the fake scientific establishment wants us to pass as ‘science’.
Luis R. Miranda is the Founder and Editor of The Real Agenda. His 16 years of experience in Journalism include television, radio, print and Internet news. Luis obtained his Journalism degree from Universidad Latina de Costa Rica, where he graduated in Mass Media Communication in 1998. He also holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Broadcasting from Montclair State University in New Jersey. Among his most distinguished interviews are: Costa Rican President Jose Maria Figueres and James Hansen from NASA Space Goddard Institute. Read more about Luis.