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Sunday, July 9, 2017

CO2

More stuff about Global Warming showed up on my desktop today. Are mankind's activities disrupting the balance of nature? Maybe. It's a little hard to tell since almost all the information I have seen is politically slanted one way or another. I've looked at half a dozen websites that all claim to be providing the facts and none of them could tell me much CO2 is produced each year. We have a pretty good idea how much CO2 is in the atmosphere (720 billion tons), and how much is being produced by human activities (6 billion tons annually), but nobody seems to know how much is being produced by natural sources, or if they are, they aren't telling.

A computer-generated view of Venus' western Eistla Regio. The volcano on the right, Gula Mons, rises 3 km high.
Detroit Steve dropped this line into the discussion: "Venus the planet is a good example, it should only be 60 degrees warmer than earth, based on distance to the sun. It is 600 degree warmer due to all its CO2 never being pulled out of the atmosphere."

The idea of the temperature of the Earth shooting up to 600 degrees (whatever scale you want to use) is a very scary prospect. Is that going to happen? Well, that's $64  question isn't it? Maybe we should take a closer look at the info that is prompting people to imagine such catastrophic scenarios.

Then we have this concise summation of the problem from a paper written in 1981:
Political and economic forces affecting energy use and fuel choice make it unlikely that the CO2 issue will have a major impact on energy policies until convincing observations of the global warming are in hand. In light of historical evidence that it takes several decades to complete a major change in fuel use, this makes large climate change almost inevitable. However, the degree of warming will depend strongly on the energy growth rate and choice of fuels for the next century. Thus, CO2 effects on climate may make full exploitation of coal resources undesirable. An appropriate strategy may be to encourage energy conservation and develop alternative energy sources, while using fossil fuels as necessary during the next few decades.
The climate change induced by anthropogenic release of CO2 is likely to be the most fascinating global geophysical experiment that man will ever conduct. The scientific task is to help determine the nature of future climatic effects as early as possible. The required efforts in global observations and climate analysis are challenging, but the benefits from improved understanding of climate will surely warrant the work invested. - Hansen et al
Some parts of the world, mostly the industrialized West, are promoting technological solutions that will replace electrical power generated from burning fossil fuels by things like wind mills and solar panels. Nuclear power has the potential to make a much greater impact more quickly, except that big bureaucracies seem to be unable to successfully manage such complex systems.

Perhaps our technical efforts will bear fruit and we will be able to curtail our CO2 emissions and global warming will abate. They might not. Then we might be looking at some really scary options. Remember when they used to warn us that all-out nuclear war would bring a nuclear winter? If the temperature at the Arctic Circle ever reaches 100 degrees Fahrenheit, someone might put that option on the table.

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