It Will be Our Fault

There are a number of ways of measuring atmospheric carbon dioxide. I have thought the most useful measurements come from Mona Loa in Hawaii, which regularly (recently) has been recording measurements in excess of 400 parts per million but the World Meteorological Organisation measures the average concentration across the world, and although its figures are not 100% accurate they are scientifically robust and reliable. Their measurements show 396 parts per million but what is more significant is that they show that atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide is growing at its fastest rate since 1984, notwithstanding all the treaties, measures, carbon credits, fine words and all the other means humanity has adopted in what has so far proved to be a futile attempt to halt or even limit the increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide.

The rate of increase is about ¾ of one percent a year, and this figure seems to approximately tally with the rate of increase reported at Mona Loa which recorded for the week beginning on August 31, 2014 396.28 ppm compared with 393.94 ppm one year ago.

It would be easy, but painful, to halt the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide. So far humanity has shown no appetite for the measures required. We do not understand what level of atmospheric carbon dioxide is dangerous, because as oceans take up the heat and the oscillations in the seas and the air complicate the picture we cannot readily find consensus amongst those who know what level of atmospheric concentration will prove the end for humanity.

We know that 50,000 parts per million will be toxic for humans, but at the present rate of increase that toxicity is still about 25,000 years away. At 10,000 parts per million people will feel drowsy and lethargic. However, the problem with atmospheric carbon dioxide in large concentrations will not first show itself in the health of humans; those days are a long way away; the problem will manifest in the changes to the rather delicate climatic conditions that will happen in the atmosphere in which humans live, breed and die. Those conditions if the present rate of atmospheric concentration continues will probably affect the generation after next most profoundly. The grandchildren of those born today will have to find ways of living in a very harsher climate than we enjoy, and it will be our fault.

5 Responses

  1. There is a great deal of illogicality in your speculation.

    I doubt that there are sufficient fossil fuel reserves to generate 25000 years worth of co2 at the same rate we produce it now.

    The drowsiness in humans is caused by oxygen depletion and its replacement with CO2. CO2 does not cause drowsiness. CO2 kills by suffocation, so CO2 near 1million parts per million is dangerous. That is why fermentation vats for beer and wine are dangerous.

    Oxygen depletion and higher CO2 levels can be overcome by humans living at high altitudes in much less than a human lifespan. So infinitesimal increases of CO2 at sea level over say 10,000 years will have no adverse effect on humans. We will adapt.

    But surely, the real “green” issue of CO2 is its potential as a greenhouse gas not as oxygen depletion.

    Or is this just another tack to unjustifiably demonise CO2 because we can all now see that it’s current increases clearly have not caused global warming or unusual weather for the last 20 years.

    • Unfortunately, it it not mere burning of fossil fuels that creates atmospheric carbon dioxide. Burning fuels which are not fossil fuels, such as wood and dung, creates atmospheric carbon dioxide. Disturbance of soil, such as when forest is converted into farmland creates huge amounts of atmospheric carbon dioxide, and carbon dioxide also leaches from tundra lands when the permafrost melts. Increased meat eating also creates excessive carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

      Perhaps we can adapt over 10,000 years; I hope so. You make a good point.

      I have no intention of demonising carbon dioxide which is a useful gas, enabling photosynthesis in plants but like everything that is good in moderation it becomes bad when in excess.

  2. They simply do not know how it all works, but they know how to place fear into the mind like religions do.

    When this model is funded by governments we know there is an agenda.

    Yet no matter how much money one throws at this allegory, TPTB will simply waste more money to make more money.

    • It is a shame that every idea can be used or abused, and with human traits of greed and power, great ideas are mosy likely to be abused.

  3. It will be our own fault Rob, I hope everyone enjoys what is being done in the name of climate science.

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