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THE VIRTUES OF ATMOSPHERIC CARBON DIOXIDE


by Arthur Robinson

February 25, 2008
NewsWithViews.com

Al Gore’s movie, An Inconvenient Truth, includes some very remarkable revelations including:

1. A “computer calculated” temperature prediction curve with predictions beginning in 1938 – when neither Al Gore nor the computer had yet been invented.
2. Photos of South Sea islanders being washed from their islands by rising seas – sea level having risen 3 inches during the past 50 years.
3. Drawings of species driven to extinction by human use of hydrocarbons – including the Wooly Mammoth, which has been gone from the Earth for thousands of years.
4. A little girl’s ice cream cone melting before she can eat it – as a result of the current 0.5 degree centigrade per century increase in temperature.
5. 650,000 years of Earth temperature fluctuations, including 6 ice ages – all caused, according to Al Gore, by carbon dioxide fluctuations of entirely unknown origins.

Al Gore’s other popular offering is his book appropriately entitled The Assault on Reason – a subject for which he obviously has readily demonstrated expertise.

George Washington was at Valley Forge during the coldest period in 1,500 years, with Earth average temperatures dipping as low as 1 degree centigrade below the 3,000-year average. Since then, temperatures have gradually recovered. If the current rate of increase continues, about 2 centuries from now the temperature of the Earth will be back to that of the medieval period 1,000 years ago – when Greenland was green and warmer weather brought increased growing seasons and general rises in comfort and prosperity in many cooler climates.

Meanwhile, in the United States, rainfall is increasing, tornados are becoming less frequent, glaciers have been receding for 200 years – back to their more normal average lengths, and hurricane frequency and severity has been unchanged for the past century.

Standing timber in U.S. forests has, however, increased by 40% since 1950; 2,000-year-old pine trees are growing faster; and animal and plant quantity and diversity are sharply increasing. This is truly alarming! If current trends continue, we will be overrun by squirrels, deer, and foxes and fighting for our lives against aggressively growing orange and apple trees. A dire prediction was even published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences – I am not making this up – warning that poison ivy is also growing faster.

The three most important substances that make life possible are water, oxygen, and carbon dioxide. The primary structural and functional element in all living things is carbon. All carbon in protein, fat, carbohydrate, and the other organic molecules in living things is derived from atmospheric carbon dioxide. Without atmospheric carbon dioxide, life as we know it would not be possible. Plants inhale carbon dioxide and are thereby fertilized. When atmospheric carbon dioxide increases – as it has by about 30% during the past century, plant life and the animal life that thrives upon it are also increased.

The annual increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide attributable to human activities – primarily the burning of coal, oil, and natural gas – is about 1 part in 10,000 of that contained in the oceans and biosphere – a contribution of ultimately negligible consequence. Since, however, this human-released carbon must travel through the atmosphere to reach the ocean and biotic reservoirs, human use, while it continues, has caused a transient rise in atmospheric carbon dioxide from about 0.03% to about 0.04% of atmospheric molecules. The primary environmental result of this rise is plant fertilization. We are moving carbon from below ground into the atmosphere, where it is available to produce more plants and animals – a wonderful and unexpected gift from the industrial revolution.

The Earth’s atmosphere and surface are warmed by solar radiation; the greenhouse effect – primarily caused by atmospheric water vapor; and other less-understood phenomena. Carbon dioxide and methane are also greenhouse gases, but their physical properties render their greenhouse effects very weak. Neither warms the Earth significantly, and no greenhouse warming caused by these two substances has ever been unequivocally observed. The warming and cooling of the Earth is correlated most closely with fluctuations in solar activity and is entirely uncorrelated with human hydrocarbon use.

This has not, however, troubled Al Gore, the United Nations, and their enviro retainers, who are regaling the body politic with unverified computer projections that purport to predict the weather centuries in the future. These computer models cannot predict the weather next week, nor can they even “predict” the weather last year. In order to make the models conform at least somewhat to past temperature trends, their handlers have introduced 6 and even 7 adjustable parameters into their calculations. As Enrico Fermi famously remarked when quoting his friend, the great mathematician and computer pioneer John von Neumann, “with 3 parameters I can fit an elephant and with 4, I can make him wiggle his trunk.”

Why are these people doing this? Why has Al Gore positioned himself to become a historical laughing stock, and why have a few hundred United Nations climate change-funded “scientists” joined them? The reason surely is not global warming. If they truly were alarmed as they say about imminent climatic peril, they would be clamoring for the Penner-Teller solution. These scientists have shown that slight injections of sun-blocking particulates into the upper atmosphere would immediately erase all Earth warming of the past 200 years. Teller estimated the cost to achieve this cooler temperature at about $1 billion. A similar additional amount would probably be required annually to maintain the cooling.

If Al Gore were truly alarmed about hydrocarbon use, he would be clamoring for nuclear power plants. The construction of just 50 nuclear installations similar to that partially completed at Palo Verde near Phoenix would erase most of the U.S. carbon dioxide output – and would also erase most of the U.S. trade deficit at the same time. Yet, while The Wall Street Journal recently counted 381 nuclear power plants in various stages of planning or construction around the world – but none being constructed in the United States, Al Gore and his retainers actually oppose nuclear power.

So, why are they doing this? In the words of Indiana Jones – “fortune and glory, kid, fortune and glory” – paraphrase that “money and power, madam, money and power.” Al Gore, himself, has already accumulated astonishing personal wealth during his campaign against world energy technology and is now a principal in a new corporation being formed to profit from public fear of global warming. Meanwhile, United Nations bureaucrats are mesmerized by the prospect of taxing and rationing world energy supplies – a position of virtually unlimited wealth and power that would give them life-and-death control over both world technology and the human race.

And, why do we prefer that Al Gore and his friends not succeed? One reason is that, in the poorer countries of the world, billions of people are using technology to lift themselves from poverty and to gain some of the technological blessings that Americans now enjoy. These people need inexpensive, relatively low technology energy that can, with current methods, only be practically derived from hydrocarbons. World hydrocarbon rationing would deprive them of this energy, destroy their dreams, and cause them to slip backwards into suffering, poverty, and death.

Simultaneously, Americans can only maintain and extend their own technology and prosperity with inexpensive energy – available now in practical quantities only from hydrocarbon and nuclear sources. Moreover, only people who are prosperous can afford the cost of true environmentalism.

Most people agree that increased quality, quantity, and length of human life and decreased human suffering are worthwhile goals. These goals are best reached by technological advance, and inexpensive energy is the currency of technological progress. The myth of human-caused global warming currently threatens these goals and that technological advance. This is the truth – inconvenient as it may be to the self-centered aspirations of Al Gore and his United Nations friends.

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Complete peer-reviewed scientific references to the facts in this article can be found in the peer-reviewed article, Environmental Effects of Increased Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide by A. B. Robinson, N. E. Robinson, and W. Soon – available at www.oism.org/pproject.

This article first appeared in Human Events

© 2008 - Art Robinson - All Rights Reserved

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Art Robinson was educated in chemistry at the California Institute of Technology and the University of California at San Diego. Immediately after graduation, he was appointed to the faculty of UCSD and carried out research there and at Stanford University. In 1973, Linus Pauling and Art Robinson founded a research Institute that was known as the Linus Pauling Institute of Science and Medicine. Robinson was President and Director of that Institute. In 1980, Art Robinson, his scientist wife Laurelee, and several colleagues founded the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, where he is currently President and Research Professor.

Website: OISM.org

E-Mail: art@oism.org


 

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The annual increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide attributable to human activities – primarily the burning of coal, oil, and natural gas – is about 1 part in 10,000 of that contained in the oceans and biosphere – a contribution of ultimately negligible consequence.