May 2007 (vol. 23, #4)
1601 N Tucson Blvd #9, Tucson AZ 85716
c 2007 Physicians for Civil Defense

Why Target Carbon?

How curious it is that the massive effort to protect the Earth against catastrophic climate change should be targeted against carbon–the basic building block of life! And specifically against the CO2 that constitutes a mere 0.038% of Earth's atmosphere, about 380 parts per million (ppm).

While the talk is about limiting emissions, the goal is to “stabilize” atmospheric content of CO2 at pre-industrial levels.

This assumes that (1) the level was previously stable; (2) CO2 content was optimal before the Industrial Revolution; (3) man has the ability to change the CO2 concentration significantly; (4) the only or best way to change the level is by reducing or capturing emissions from hydrocarbon fuels.

Of course, it is also assumed that increased atmospheric CO2 is the cause of global warming–an assertion disproved by definitive evidence (CDP, March 2007) but nonetheless widely believed. In a quiz given at our hospital's grand rounds, 60% responded that CO2 is the most important greenhouse gas, though it makes up only 3—4% of greenhouse gases by volume.

Historical Data on Emissions of CO2
Global warmers always cite the measurements from the Mauna Loa Observatory ((Figure 3, CDP, March 2007), taken since 1958, and proudly proclaimed to “constitute the longest, continuous record of atmospheric CO2 available in the world!” on the plaque noting that the building is named in honor of Charles David Keeling.

The Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that direct measurements can be relied on only after 1957. These are compared with indirect measurements–proxy data from Antarctic ice cores showing that atmospheric CO2 has “risen from close to 280...(ppm) in 1800, at first slowly and then progressively faster to a value of 367 ppm in 1999, echoing the increasing pace of global agricultural and industrial development.”

The assumption that the “unpolluted background level” of atmospheric CO2 was in an equilibrium state before the Industrial Revolution, essentially not varying from 280 ppm, was based largely on critical literature reviews by Callendar (1958) and by Keeling (1986). They examined only 10% of the available literature and from that asserted that only 1% of the data could be considered accurate. They dismissed all data that disagreed with their presupposed average.

Ernst-Georg Beck assembled a 138-year-long record of yearly atmospheric CO2 measurements, extracted from 180 technical papers published between 1812 and 1961 (Energy and Environment 2007;18:259-282). The chemical data were highly accurate and obtained at sites distant from industrial or military contamination. One author, W. Kreutz, not cited by Callendar or Keeling, acquired 64,000 measurements in an 18-month period between 1939 and 1941. His results showed both the seasonal cycle and weather events, and “confirm strikingly the persistence of CO2 levels above 400 ppm over most of a period of 2 years.” Other high-quality data show levels of CO2 as high as 350 ppm at time when ice-core proxies indicate a level of only 290 ppm. Proxies have less detail on natural fluctuations.

The fact that all eight temperature maxima over the 100 years from 1850 to 1950 correspond to CO2 maxima is consistent with a cause-effect relationship, but does not show which is the cause. Beck writes: “My results are equally if not more consistent with temperature being the forcing that controls the level of CO2 in the atmospheric system. In support of this causality, ice-core data consistently shows that over climatic time scales, changes in temperature precede their parallel changes in carbon dioxide by several hundred to more than a thousand years.”

Beck notes that the pre-1950 measuring stations were in suitable locations, not near volcanoes, which emit about 130 million tonnes of CO2 each year. Caleb Poppe, a sixth grader, observed that Mauna Loa is a volcano. The observatory there also measures volcanic emissions, specifically stating that these “are an insignificantly small part of the global carbon cycle and do not play a role in climate change.”

The Carbon Cycle
There are five reservoirs of carbon on earth that are biologically accessible on a short time scale, all of comparable size: the atmosphere (the smallest, containing about 750 gigatons carbon, GtC), land plants, topsoil, the surface layer of the oceans, and proven reserves of hydrocarbon fuels (some 4,000 GtC). Human beings are said to release about 5.5 GtC per year through combustion of fuels and cement production, and 1.1 GtC by other means such as deforestation.

The carbon cycle or circulation between reservoirs is not well understood. In a talk at the Global Climate and Energy Project Symposium at Stanford University, June 13, 2005, Freeman Dyson noted that only half of the CO2 from the combustion of hydrocarbons remains in the atmosphere, and the fate of the rest is unknown.

If atmospheric CO2 is a problem, it is primarily a land-use problem, Dyson states. A 0.01 inch per year increase in topsoil –as by no-till farming or genetically engineered crops with more biomass in the roots–would stabilize the CO2. Incidentally, enhanced CO2 levels increase the root-to-shoot ratio.

It's the Economy, Stupid
During the Nuclear Freeze movement in the 1980s, a spokesman denied that he was talking about unilateral disarmament, remarking that the basis for America's superpower status was not her nuclear arsenal, but her economy. Keeping atmospheric CO2 below 450 ppm by reducing hydrocarbon fuel use would require decarbonizing the economy of the industrialized world (Scientific Alliance Newsletter 5/4/07). With the nuclear power industry crippled, almost 90% of America's energy comes from hydrocarbons (Access to Energy, April 2007).

Is the target America's CO2 emissions? The U.S. adds some fraction of 0.2% to earth's greenhouse effect (.04 × .05, or CO2 fraction of total greenhouse gases × portion of CO2 from man-made sources, which is from 2% to 5%).

Or is the target the United States of America?


Archaeological and Historical Evidence for Climate Change

In the summer of 2003, retreating perennial ice of the Schnidejoch in the Swiss Alps uncovered a 4,700-year-old archer's quiver. Subsequent finds revealed that there had been four periods warmer than today during the past 5,000 years (Henrik Svensmark and Nigel Calder, The Chilling Stars–a New Theory of Climate Change).

Irish monks found considerable ice in the waters to Iceland in the 6th to 8th centuries, as late as A.D. 865. The Vikings found no ice in Icelandic fjords from that time until 1200 A.D. By A.D. 1342, the sailing route to the Greenland colonies had to be abandoned because of ice (Tim Patterson, Carleton University).

Global warming is predicted to cause both flooding and droughts. The 1930s Dust Bowl dryness will come to the American Southwest, “for good” (Science 2007;316:188-190). As many as 250 million Africans will be at risk of water shortages (Nature 2007;446:706-707). But Dyson writes that 6,000 years ago, the warmest period in the interglacial era, rock paintings in the Sahara showed herds of cows and giraffes.


It's Not Insurance

Insurance is designed to pay you money after a loss; it does not prevent a loss. The valid comparison, writes Orson Scott Card, is to protection money. “That's what the global-warming protection racket is about: Hey, we can't prove anything is happening, but look how many people we've got to agree with us! You'd better make a whole bunch of sacrifices [that], by coincidence, exactly coincide with the political agenda of the anti-Western, anti-industrial religion of ecodeism–or global warming will get you!”


CBO Assesses Cap-and-Trade Schemes

The Apr 25 Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report on proposed cap-and-trade legislation was a “devastating indictment” of the idea, writes Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK). The CO2 allocation scheme would “result in a transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich.” If implemented, the Kyoto protocol would result in the equivalent of the largest tax increase in the history of the U.S., he states, costing up to an estimated $300 billion/year. It would tend to increase government spending and decrease revenues, the report acknowledged. And it would have virtually no impact on the climate, Inhofe says (TWTW 5/11/07, see Read the report at:


Follow the Money

Senators Olympia Snowe and Jay Rockefeller accused ExxonMobil of “giving more than $19 million since the late 1990s” to public policy institutes that promote climate holocaust “denial,” along with supporting malaria control, Third World economic development, and other causes. This is less than half the amount that the Pew Charitable Trusts and allied foundations contributed to the Pew Center on Climate Change over the same period. It amounts to 30 cents for every $1,000 that the U.S., EU, and UN spent since 1993 (some $80 billion altogether) on global warming catastrophe research. U.S. government agencies budgeted $6.5 billion for global warming in 2007 alone (DeWeese Report, March 2007).


Climate Scientists Threatened

“Many climate scientists get frustrated with those who don't believe that human activity is causing global warming, but should having such views be a sackable offense?” asks Michael Hopkin. For example, Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski wants to strip state climatologist George Taylor of his title because his views are inconsistent with Oregon's goal of cutting greenhouse-gas emissions. (Taylor spoke at the 2006 DDP meeting.) Virginia's climatologist, Patrick Michaels, also got a letter from the governor asking him not to use the title any longer (Nature 2007;445:806).

University of Washington climate scientist Mark Albright was dismissed from his position as state associate climatologist for stating in emails that the snow pack in the Cascade Mountains is only marginally lower than the long-term average since 1943, and that it has been growing since the late 1970s. This contradicted a statement by Seattle mayor Greg Nickels that “the average snow pack in the Cascades has declined 50 percent since 1950 and will be cut in half again in 30 years if we don't start addressing the problems of global climate change now” (Heartland Institute, Environment News 6/1/07).


Coal Essential for Energy Independence

The most abundant fuel resource in the U.S. is coal. Recoverable reserves were estimated at 267 billion tons in January 2005, a 250-year supply based on current annual production. About 4 trillion tons could eventually be made available. At an initial price of perhaps $45 per barrel, coal can be turned into liquid fuel.

“Liquid fuels from coal are clean, refined products requiring little if any additional refinery processing, are fungible with petroleum products and, therefore, can use the existing fuels distribution and end-use infrastructure,” stated Clarence L. Miller of the U.S. Dept of Energy in Senate testimony.

In World War II, the Luftwaffe depended on aviation fuel made from coal via the Fischer-Tropsch process, especially after the Russians captured Rumanian oilfields. The synthetic oil plants were the highest priority target for Allied bombers.

S.S. Penner will discuss “Liquid Fuels from U.S. Coal Sources” at the DDP meeting this Aug 4-5 in Oakland.

Radical environmentalists complain that coal-based diesel fuels would produce almost twice as much of the greenhouse gases alleged to cause global warming as petroleum does.

Coal mine owner Robert E. Murray is one CEO who doesn't buy global warming hysteria. “Some elitists in our country can't, or won't, tell fact from fiction, can't understand what a draconian climate change program will do [to] the dreams of millons of working Americans.... (Wall St J 5/19-20/07). He is incensed by other energy CEOs' support of cap-and-trade schemes, calling them a “shameless” effort to fatten their bottom lines at the expense of the country.

China is building a new coal-fired plant about every four days, and its CO2 emissions may exceed those of the U.S. by the end of the year (Nature 2007;446:954-955). China is also reportedly moving to commercialization of coal-to-liquid technologies, Miller told the Senate.

U.S. petroleum sources could compete. The continental shelf is estimated to contain 420 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered natural gas and 86 billion barrels of oil, but 85% of it is off limits. Cuba is planning to drill in waters off Florida that are forbidden to U.S. oil companies (Wall St J 5/8/07).