A Tranquility House Newsletter
The Climate Book Series
In Part 3 we address another of the primary climate questions which concerns Carbon Dioxide (CO2) – does it have any effect on climate or not?
There seems to be great confusion both in the media and within the public at large about this gas and what is called ‘The Greenhouse’ effect, surprising as understanding it is pretty much crucial to the debate. Yet the Greenhouse effect was first discovered as long ago as 1824 and proved in 1859 so this is nothing new. In fact I was thinking about it when I was 17 years old and that is a few years ago now! If it doesn’t impact on the temperature of the planet then much of the debate can be put to bed, but even if it does there are still many serious questions that have to be asked and the answers to them found which we will try to do through this series.
Of course we mustn’t forget there are many greenhouse gases with water vapour the most common, but Methane (CH4) a gas about 22 times more potent for the climate than carbon dioxide is beginning to play a major part and could become hugely important in the future. So getting our heads around CO2 is really important and hopefully we will do that in this Part.
First we therefore look at whether it is in fact a Greenhouse gas and how and why such gases work, after which we look at the history of atmospheric CO2 before the industrial revolution going back 650,000 years. We overlay that with our own history as modern man, and look at the impact the climate cycles have had on our development and our spread around and across the planet. We will find it has been instrumental in our development.
The CO2 plot over the last 650,000 years
Next we extend this plot to show what has happened since 1800 and even extend it into the near future to see where it might go.
After this we see how fast the figure has been rising since 1960 and find the annual increase is itself increasing perhaps dramatically.
Then we compare the annual rate of change since mankind has been changing it with the pre-human rates. It isn’t difficult to ‘miss-represent’ data if you want to, but this data is presented completely honestly and you may be surprised with what you see. As in most of these Papers either new information is being presented or sometimes existing information presented in what may be a different way.
One of the arguments frequently put forward to deny the climate is changing is that the temperature hasn’t followed carbon recently, so this matter is addressed and the answer given. As a final piece of information we look at the damping impact melting ice on the planet has on near term temperatures.
This Part should put questions about CO2 behind us and let us move interestingly forward.