By Don “Doc” Sanders
You likely are aware of former Vice President Al Gore’s book An Inconvenient Truth: The Planetary Emergency of Global Warming and What We Can Do About It, published in 2006. Whatever you want to call it — global warming, climate change, changing weather — there is no denying that the seasons are changing from what all of us oldsters, including Al Gore, knew growing up.
The term “global warming” morphed into “climate change” in the mid-2000s after the alleged warming seemed to stop and weather patterns became more extreme. And now climate change is the scapegoat for every unusual weather event. Gore’s “inconvenient” truths are not sound science-based conclusions. They come from a group of scientists who are imposing their opinions, which they base on severely flawed science.
Their foundational flaw comes from using California tree ring data to predict carbon dioxide (CO2) levels. Their hypothesis that wider tree rings means higher CO2 levels has ultimately been proven false. That’s because tree rings are strongly influenced by rainfall — or lack of it.
Ohio State University scientists, right here in our backyard, have collected ice core samples from glaciers in Tibet and Antarctica. They analyzed these samples to determine CO2 levels of air that was trapped in the glaciers 800,000 years ago. Through these samples the scientists have determined that the earth’s atmosphere warms and cools in an approximate 11,000-year cycle — plus or minus a couple of hiccups in the cycle’s predictions. Mother Earth is now in the warming side of the cycle.
Both sides of the climate change debate agree that water vapor is responsible for the lion’s share of the greenhouse effect, though the percentage is in dispute. Warming allows the atmosphere to carry more water vapor, which leads to more intense rain and storms. And this initially increases global temperatures, which gradually fade as CO2 levels rise, because of natural climate drivers.
Some activists rail against methane as being the primary culprit. But methane is in far lower concentrations than CO2 in the atmosphere, though it packs 25 times the warming activity of CO2 per unit.
Since ruminant animals, such as cows, sheep, goats and deer, burp methane during rumination, activists point their piney little fingers at large cattle operations as the villains. However, lifecycle assessment models at UC-Davis have shown that ruminants’ methane emissions contribute only 3.5% of ambient methane in the atmosphere. Pollution from vehicles, on the other hand, accounts for as much as 40% of greenhouse gases.
Once you cull the environmental activists’ diatribes, you’re left with true science that shows that the slight warming caused by CO2 is overwhelmed by natural climate cycles that have been active for hundreds of millions of years.
And let me give CO2 its due: Carbon dioxide is plant food. Plants depend on it like you and I depend on oxygen. Currently, CO2 accounts for about 400 parts per million (ppm) of the atmosphere. Plants require at least 150 ppm to survive. In 1750, CO2 was at 250 ppm, and in 2017, 406 ppm. This increase may be one of the reasons that today’s farmers have increased yields.
However, in the long view of history, carbon dioxide isn’t as plentiful as you might think:
- In the last four ice ages, CO2 levels were dangerously low — at 182 ppm. Below 150 ppm, plants can’t exist.
- There’s been a 140-million-year trend of dangerously decreasing CO2
- Our current geologic period has the lowest average CO2 level in the history of the Earth. In the previous 600 million years, CO2 reached more than 2,600 ppm.
So, rather than seeing historic highs we are in a period of near CO2 starvation. Increased photosynthesis, in response to increasing CO2, is like adding more fertilizer. Benefits of increasing CO2 include:
- More plant growth
- More food for the world’s growing population
- Faster growing plants and forests with less stress and less water
- Stimulated growth of beneficial bacteria in soil and water
- Less erosion because of increased plant growth
- Higher crop yields and more and larger flowers
- More glomalin, a protein created by root fungi that improves soil quality
- Reduced water loss and irrigation — and increased soil moisture
- Promotion of plants’ natural defenses against insects.
More than 250 studies of 83 food crops have demonstrated that increasing CO2 by 300 ppm will increase plant growth by more than 40%. In contrast, crop production is reduced by about 8% when CO2 is at 280 ppm.
Americans may debate climate change. But Americans are the only ones really doing something about it. The G-20 summit in Argentina was just the latest example. Every country — except the U.S. – signed the nonbinding Paris Agreement, a promise to “continue to tackle climate change, while promoting sustainable development and economic growth.”
Nineteen nations “believe” in climate change and controlling greenhouse gas emissions. And here’s how they are backing up their statement of faith:
- China increased emissions by 1.7%.
- India, the fourth largest source of CO2,saw their emissions grow by 4.6% in 2017.
- The European Union raised their CO2 output by 1.5%.
- France, home of the Paris Agreement, is leading the diplomatic effort to “save” the planet — and increased their greenhouse gas emissions by 3.6%.
Pollution in France will likely rise further this year, from the cars that protestors are burning, if nothing else. French President Emmanuel Macron announced a sharp increase in gas and diesel taxes last month. This sparked the largest riots seen in Paris in nearly 50 years. Yellow-vested citizens blockaded roadways, burned vehicles and damaged artwork and infrastructure.
If the nations paying lip service to climate change aren’t meeting their goals, imagine how poorly oil drilling, fracking, coal mining, cattle raising Americans must be doing. From 2016 to 2017, U.S. greenhouse gas emissions decreased by 2.7%. Emissions from large power plants declined 4.5% since 2016, and nearly 20% since 2011 — all without signing a piece of paper in Paris or Buenos Aires.
President Donald Trump was pilloried for withdrawing from the Paris Agreement and for being the only G-20 leader who refused to sign the climate change statement in Argentina.
Estimates suggest that the Paris Agreement will cost the people of the world $100 trillion in lost wealth. And for this investment, we’ll see a reduction in global temperatures — by all of 0.31 degrees Fahrenheit.
Little wonder that Al Gore earned a D in the one natural science class he took in college. And no wonder that he excelled in politics.