2011-04-16 12:11:08Basic Rebuttal 181: CO2 limits will not cool the planet
grypo

gryposaurus@gmail...
173.69.56.151

*Updated 

The Skeptic Argument...

CO2 limits will not cool the planet

"So this is a government which is proposing to put at risk our manufacturing industry, to penalise struggling families, to make a tough situation worse for millions of households right around Australia. And for what? To make not a scrap of difference to the environment any time in the next 1000 years."  (source:  Tony Abbott)

The Science Says...

Continued greenhouse gas emissions at or above current rates would cause further warming and induce many changes in the global climate system during the 21st century that would very likely be larger than those observed during the 20th century. (source:  IPCC 2007)

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Skeptics have argued that if reductions in CO2 will not cool the planet for hundreds of years, then it is not prudent to cut emissions and put any burden on a fossil-fuel-driven economy.  But does this make sense?

A choice between sustained temperature increase and doing nothing is not, unfortunately, the choice we are facing. The real choice we face is between decreasing CO2 emissions (in which case temperatures will still warm a bit more and then stabilize), and letting CO2 emissions go and and on (in which case temperatures will continue to rise and rise).  In the future, when technologically and economically feasible, it may be possible to withdraw carbon from the atmosphere, perhaps with increasing tree growth or chemical "scrubbing".  But this is just a goal for the future.  

According the IPCC, from the Summary for Policy Makers:

  • Continued greenhouse gas emissions at or above current rates would cause further warming and induce many changes in the global climate system during the 21st century that would very likely be larger than those observed during the 20th century. 
  • Anthropogenic warming and sea level rise would continue for centuries due to the time scales associated with climate processes and feedbacks, even if greenhouse gas concentrations were to be stabilised. 

This is one skeptic argument where one must wonder if some of those who wish to prevent action on climate change really understand what the argument is about.

2011-04-16 16:38:34
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
84.151.43.85

I think this is way too complicated, and is also overkill for the argument at hand. You are opening up more issues than closing!

I would stick to two basic points:

- It's true that CO2 hangs around for a long time, on the order of 1000 years. But that's a good reason to stop adding to it, because all the additional CO2 will also hang around for 1000 years, and so will the resulting further increased temperature.

- It will have to be a  goal to find a way to take CO2 out of the air effectively: Perhaps by growing more trees or perhaps by some new chemical methods. However, the less CO2 we have added, the easier it will be to bring the concentration down to non-threatening levels.

 

2011-04-16 19:00:08
James Wight

jameswight@southernphone.com...
121.79.12.163

I’m glad you’re tackling this one. It’s a popular myth which needs to be dispelled.

Australian politicians often talk as though cutting emissions will cool the planet. I mean, they don’t explicitly say that, but I think it is subtly implied. Or maybe it’s just me. Anyway, I think it is a misconception that a lot of people hold. It’s a very dangerous one because it makes a long transition look viable.

2011-04-16 21:48:49
grypo

gryposaurus@gmail...
173.69.56.151

Thanks.  Neal, this is probably going to take a couple of rounds to iron out, but take a look now.

2011-04-16 22:16:37
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
84.151.43.85

"Skeptics have argued that if reductions in CO2 will not cool the planet for hundreds of years, then it is not prudent to cut emissions and put any burden on a fossil fuel driven economy.  But is this reasoning logical?  Is it a scientific conclusion?  Does the length of time to a cooling of the Earth lead one to the conclusion that we should not act on climate change? Science tells us, definitely not."

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"Skeptics have argued that if reductions in CO2 will not cool the planet for hundreds of years, then it is not prudent to cut emissions and put any burden on a fossil fuel driven economy.  But does this make sense?"

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"It is also a false argument; one that no one is making. Our choices, as a species, are not between cooling the planet and warming the planet.  The choice is between continued warming with climate changing to ever-more dangerous levels, or slowing and eventually stopping the warming of temperatures at what are hopefully safe levels."

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"A choice between sustained temperature increase and doing nothing is not, unfortunately, the choice we are facing. The real choice we face is between decreasing CO2 emissions (in which case temperatures will still warm a bit more and then stabilize), and letting CO2 emissions go and and on (in which case temperatures will continue to rise and rise)."

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"As for now, let's take a quick look at the carbon cycle.  This was covered here at SkS in detail, in great post, so I'll just quote from that:

[I]n most cases when a molecule of CO2 leaves the atmosphere it is simply swapping places with one in the ocean. Thus, the warming potential of CO2 has very little to do with the residence time of CO2.

...

This turnover takes 500-1000ish years. Therefore a time scale for CO2 warming potential out as far as 500 years is entirely reasonable (See IPCC 4th Assessment Report Section 2.10)."

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I don't see that the residence time and the actual time scale are the points of contention. I don't see anything gained by bringing them up.

I also think the last line needs to be a little snappier. I'll have a suggestion when the main body has settled down.

2011-04-17 12:05:56
grypo

gryposaurus@gmail...
173.69.56.151

Ok.  I've shortened this one quite a bit.  I think the body is tight now.  Thanks.  

2011-04-17 17:57:45
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
84.151.41.77

"burden on a fossil fuel driven economy"

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"burden on a fossil-fuel-driven economy"

 

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"Now, let’s see what the science says will happen if we continue to emit CO2. According the IPCC, from the Summary for Policy Makers:"

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"According the IPCC, from the Summary for Policy Makers:"

 

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"In closing, I will say that this is one skeptic argument where one must wonder whether some of those who wish to prevent action on climate change really understand what the argument is over."

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"This is one skeptic argument where one must wonder if some of those who wish to prevent action on climate change really understand what the argument is about."

2011-04-18 06:03:26
grypo

gryposaurus@gmail...
173.69.56.151

this is changed.  forgot to respond this morning.

2011-04-18 07:59:04
nealjking

nealjking@gmail...
84.151.41.77

"when technologically and econoically feasible,"

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"when technologically and economically feasible,"

2011-04-18 23:00:20
grypo

gryposaurus@gmail...
98.191.11.162

Thanks Neal