An engineer's eye view of atmospheric carbon.
Fact: The earth is a closed system for carbon.*
That means that any carbon that was on earth when life began is still here. It also means that any carbon now here has always been on the planet.
Some of the carbon that is here has changed from inorganic to organic compounds. That carbon is now a part of plant and animal life, or buried beneath us in the form of hydrocarbons and sedimentary rock. Any carbon released by the use of coal or petroleum is just returning the carbon to the place it originated, although most remains buried. Therefore, we are now at a historically LOW level of atmospheric carbon.
My Geologist Guy remarks.
I hadn't thought about the closed system before. It makes perfect sense that levels during the Carboniferous Period (hence the name) were much, much higher than now. Plant and animal life thrived during that period to give us the coal and petroleum deposits we are mining now.Don't believe the eco-alarmists, atmospheric carbon is at historically low levels.
The earth survived these extremely high carbon levels and life thrived. Putting some small percentage of this carbon back in the air is a non-event. We'll still be at historically low carbon levels in the geological timeframe - something much longer than the 5 to 100 decades being studied by today's atmospheric researchers (as a point of reference, the Carboniferous Period ended 28 million decades ago). The carbon is also a non-factor because water vapor is the dominant greenhouse gas controlling our climate.
Why we do not face a climatic disaster
The Earth is capable of self regulating its temperature within a certain range. With all the things that have been thrown at her over millions of years (solar variations, volcanic eruptions, large meteorites, and Carboniferous carbon levels), if the planet could not cope and compensate, it would be long-dead.
My Geologist Guy (who, btw, has a sibling working at NOAA) once pointed out that water vapor is not accounted for in the climate change models predicting global warming. This is in spite of the fact that clouds and water vapor are the best gases to keep the weather reaction self-moderating. As temperatures rise, so does atmospheric water vapor as clouds, which reflect solar energy to maintain temperature in the control band. The opposite happens with lowering temperatures due to volcanic dust or reduced solar output. The bio-based carbon capture mechanisms also contribute as moderators.
As for human survival when facing environmental change, our ancestors response to changing temperature was not to dig in their heals to protect Lambeau Field or some other rapidly freezing tundra. They adapted by moving to a more hospitable place as climate changed. For example, into Greenland as things warmed up and back nearer the equator as things cooled.
With all the variables involved, and thinking of the almost perfect atmospheric balance of the Earth over its history, one might believe that some intelligent designer was involved.
Feedback from Geologist Guy.
If the planet wasn't self-regulating, the climate would be in a runaway, positive feedback loop and we wouldn't be here to discuss it. Fortunately for us, water vapor provides the negative feedback to offset both natural and man-made emissions. NOAA freely admits on their website that water vapor is the predominate "greenhouse gas" by far, much more so than CO2 or any other gas. And the human contribution of CO2 is less than the natural contribution, again by far. Of course, none of this squares with the eco-alarmists, who need to generate public hysteria to get their funding and adulation.Motives
Cloud formation regulates the planet's temperature. As the earth warms and cloud cover increases, more light is reflected to space than reaches the surface. As the earth cools, cloud cover decreases, allowing more energy to reach the surface to warm things up. There's evidence that cloud formation is also strongly influenced by the solar cycles (11 year and long term over centuries). If a designer came up with this system, they were very intelligent.
In my opinion, it is the height of human arrogance to presume that man can override the planet's natural thermostat.
At its base, the anti-global warming movement can be reduced to the selfish drive of some to maintain their lifestyles at the expense of others. Whether it is a property near sea level in Manhattan, a California beach house or a huge home in Middle Tennessee; they expect others to sacrifice so they may continue to live an unchanging lifestyle.
- They don't want their property value to decline due to rising sea levels, but have no problem expecting billions of Chinese to refrain from economic development and a higher standard of living.
- They don't want their air conditioning costs to rise in the South, but have no problem with Northerners paying more for heating or people dying from exposure to more hostile winters.
- They don't want to burn petroleum, so they promote their feel-good biofuels, and have no problem destroying rainforests and threatening the lives of millions whose survival is reliant on inexpensive corn.
Selfish does not begin to describe these people.
* This statement ignores the de minimis changes due to sending carbon based astronauts into space, carbon as a nuclear fission byproduct, and the capture of neutrons by nitrogen to form C-14.