Climate Change Weekly #190
Patrick Moore is a brave and honest man. In his trek from being a leader of Greenpeace, one of the most radical environmental groups in existence, to now being one of the most forthright critics of the view human fossil fuel use is causing catastrophic global warming, he has always followed the evidence where it leads.
In a powerful lecture in London on behalf of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, Moore detailed his journey and the evidence increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide levels are actually good for humans and the rest of the planet, perhaps even staving off global environmental collapse.
The central premise of Moore’s lecture is carbon dioxide is the most important building block and central currency for all life on Earth. He says its central role in the creation and maintenance of life should be taught to our children, rather than having it demonized as a “pollutant” threatening human and ecosystem health.
I’ve long understood today’s plants are living in a carbon dioxide-starved environment, but I failed to understand the full import of that fact until I read Moore’s piece; without human activities that increased atmospheric carbon dioxide levels, as Moore explains, life on Earth was perilously close to ending.
Today, at just over 400 part per million (ppm), there are 850 billion tons of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. By comparison, when modern life-forms evolved more than 500 million years ago, there were nearly 15,000 billion tons of carbon in the atmosphere, 17 times today’s level.
As Moore explains, over the past 150 million years carbon dioxide has been steadily drawn down from the atmosphere. Approximately 37,000 tons of carbon dioxide have been stored in various forms every year for 150 million years. The amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide was reduced by about 90 percent during this period. As a result, in the middle of the last full ice age 18,000 years ago, carbon dioxide had declined to just 180 ppm, a mere 30 ppm above the minimum of 150 ppm needed for plants to survive. If plants die all the animals, insects, and other invertebrates that depend on plants for their survival will also die.
Atmospheric carbon dioxide levels rebounded slightly, as they had during previous interglacial periods, to 280 ppm before the beginning of the industrial revolution. Absent human activity, the long slow drawdown would likely have continued.
According to Moore, the news we should be hearing about fossil fuel use and carbon dioxide levels is:
If humans had not begun to unlock some of the carbon stored as fossil fuels, all of which had been in the atmosphere as CO2 before sequestration by plants and animals, life on Earth would have soon been starved of this essential nutrient and would begin to die. Given the present trends of glaciations and interglacial periods this would likely have occurred less than 2 million years from today, a blink in nature’s eye, 0.05% of the 3.5 billion-year history of life.
You heard it here. “Human emissions of carbon dioxide have saved life on Earth from inevitable starvation and extinction due to lack of CO2.” To use the analogy of the Atomic Clock, if the Earth were 24 hours old we were at 38 seconds to midnight when we reversed the trend towards the End Times. If that isn’t good news I don’t know what is. You don’t get to stave off Armageddon every day.
Even if humans ceased burning fossil fuels today, Moore notes, we have already added another 5 million years for life on Earth. Using the remaining fossil fuels locked within the Earth, humans can forestall plant starvation for lack of carbon dioxide by at least another 65 million years.
Those are the facts we should be teaching the kids in school.
— H. Sterling Burnett
SOURCE: Global Warming Policy Foundation
IN THIS ISSUE …
Developing nations trash draft climate plan … South Carolina flood not record-setting or linked to climate change … Warming may benefit China … UN selects economist as new climate chief … India grows coal use
One hundred and thirty-four developing countries rejected a draft climate agreement provided to them before the most recent round of negotiations began in Bonn on October 19 to shape a draft treaty. After negotiators failed to produce a draft treaty in September, the countries asked the co-chairs to prepare a draft before the October meeting. The co-chairs’ draft met strong opposition from developing countries. Representatives of African countries, along with India, China, and other Like Minded Developing Countries (LMDC), argued the co-chairs failed to take into account the interests and concerns of developing countries. Negotiators from developing countries found the draft was unbalanced, with one unnamed negotiator noting, “The G77 group of more than 100 countries had given text-based proposals on finance but these were not taken into account at all. Our views are completely taken off the table.”
The block of developing countries demanded to be allowed to insert their individual or jointly developed written proposals into the draft treaty, without objection from any country, with the new consolidated text serving as the starting point for further negotiations. If developed countries don’t accept that plan, LMDCs, China, India, and African countries have threatened to reject the draft agreement, leaving UN negotiators with no plan as a starting point for negotiations heading into the Paris climate talks in late November.
SOURCE: Business Standard
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) reports the recent catastrophic flooding in South Carolina, while causing much damage and tragic loss of life, does not qualify as a historic “1,000 year” or even a “500 year” flood event – the type of flood that would be expected to occur only every 1,000 or 500 years. While some stream gauges measured flood levels that typically occur every 25 to 50 years, the majority of USGS stream gauges measured flood levels that occur on average once a decade. In addition, USGS research shows no link between the flooding in South Carolina and increased greenhouse gases, nor any correlation or causative link between increased greenhouse gases and flooding in general nationwide.
SOURCE: USGS Flood Information
Research conducted by scientists at the Chinese Academy of Sciences shows continued global warming may benefit China. The researchers contend if climate change continues to follow its current path, rainfall will increase in China’s dry northern regions as the monsoon belt shifts, with an attendant reduction in flooding in the hotter southern regions of the country. Flooding in southern China claims many lives each year and causes significant economic losses, so a reduction in rainfall in the region would prove a blessing. Published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study identifies additional benefits flowing to China from the changing climate: bamboo forests would reappear along the banks of the Yellow River; rice paddies could expand to the Great Wall; and Beijing, which faces chronic water shortages, would no longer need to channel water from the south. China’s deserts in Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia are already in retreat as grasslands and forests expand in response to carbon dioxide fertilization.
SOURCE: South China Morning Post
In early October, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) announced Hoesung Lee of South Korea would be its new chairman. Lee, currently one of IPCC’s three vice chairmen, is professor of the economics of climate change, energy, and sustainable development at Korea University. In a statement upon his appointment, Lee said, “The hard science of climate change will remain the foundation of the IPCC’s work.”
Robert M. Carter, Ph.D., former head of the School of Earth Sciences at James Cook University in Australia, commented, “The idea that an economist can make a suitable chair for an IPCC-type organization is misguided. The basic issue is a scientific one. Yet we now have another chairman who will be generally unaware of the complexities inherent in climate science and, in particular, of the high degree to which scientific advice about global warming has been corrupted by those with an interest in perpetuating needless alarm.” Echoing Carter’s concern, Lee C. Gerhard, senior scientist emeritus at the University of Kansas and past director and state geologist of the Kansas Geological Survey, said, “The appointment by the U.N. of Lee as chair of the IPCC is yet another attack by the U.N. war on science. His green credentials are impeccable, but his scientific credentials are non-existent.”
SOURCES: Washington Times and (https://cei.org/blog/ipcc-selects-new-leader”>Competitive Enterprise Institute
Coal use seems secure in India ahead of the Paris climate change meeting, as last month India’s government opened what it hopes will be Asia’s biggest coal mine within five years. India is racing to double coal output by 2020. “[W]e can’t live without coal. You can’t wish away coal,” said Anil Swarup, the top official in India’s coal ministry.
China, India, and Indonesia now burn 71 percent of the world’s newly mined coal according to the World Coal Association, and other Asian nations are increasingly using coal to power their economies too, with Pakistan, the Philippines, and Vietnam opening new plants. Even developed nations are having trouble kicking the coal habit ahead of the Paris climate meetings, with Japan’s coal use setting a new record in 2014 after the country retreated from nuclear power in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster. Japan plans to build another 41 coal-fired units over the next decade.
Australia’s coal exports rose 5 percent to 205 million tonnes in the past financial year and are expected to increase an additional 1 million tonnes this year to satisfy surging demand in Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan.
In the negotiations leading up to the December climate treaty negotiations in Paris, India has rejected any absolute cuts in greenhouse gas emissions, promising only to slow the rate of emissions growth by 2030. If India burns as much coal as planned it would by 2025 replace the United States as the world’s second largest emitter of carbon dioxide.