Re: Kyoto, Driving our car (composite reply)

Arjen Kamphuis (
Tue, 9 Dec 1997 18:43:59 +0100 (CET)

I believe these point to be facts, but feel free to correct me.

1.Increased atmospheric CO2 causes increased downward IR-flux
which could possibly lead to a temperature-rise of the biosphere.

2.In 1958 a downward trend in the relative concentration of radioactive
C14 was discovered by Suess and attributed to burning of fossile carbon.

3.In 1970 a clear upward trend of atmospheric CO2 was shown by
measuraments begun in '58 all over the world.

4.Over a 18.000 year period the CO2 concentration increased from about
190 PPM to 280 PPM and then suddenly increased to it's present value
of 365 PPM over the last 200 years.

5.During the latter half of this century there has been a solid
correlation between economic growth and increased consumption of
fossile fuels, were increase in fuel usage is tyically 1-3% greater
that economy growth in that year.

6.Right now the developed nations are consuming a disproportionate part
of the global energy resources (the US consumes a 25% of all fossile
fuels produces while comprising only 5% of the global population).

7.All humans living in Africa, Asia and the rest of the world have
just a much right to drive cars, have a TV and airconditioning but
if they do the global energy requirement will increase by (at least)
a factor of 5. Currently the known supplies of oil/gas are only
sufficient for 25-50 years (depending on your growth scenario) at
the current consumtion level.

I'm an optimist but I cannot help seeing a _potentially_ very threatening
picture emerging here.

"Warrl kyree Tale'sedrin" wrote:
>Really bad analogy.
>A better analogy:
>You're driving along a road through low hills. It's a rather twisty
//snip //
>lot further down and there's no sign of an ocean.
>And in response to this confusion, some want us to come to a dead

I hope you do not seriously expect that trying to describe anything as
complex as the climatesystem would have been an instant succes. That just a
ridiculous as expecting the rocketscientists of the early fifties to design
a Saturn-V and expext it to perfom on the first flight. Of course things
went wrong! The fact that mistakes have been made by certain people
studying these issues in the past doesn't mean there can't be (and hasn't
been!) progress in this field.

>The evidence for an ice age is as good as the evidence for global

Please state _one_ scientist whose work has been under the same scrutiny of
peer-review as IPCC publications that dares to stake his reputation on the
theorie that the CO2-increase of the last 200 years is preventing another

AFAIKT almost every glacier on this planet has been retreating during this
century and the is _no_ indication whatsoever that there's another iceage
around the corner. And even if there was it's not something that is going
to happen in decades but over a period of several milennia.

And the fact that this argument is never heard in discussions at policy
level might be an indication that it is not taken seriously by the broad
community of scientists (even PR-people of big oil companies _never_ use
this argument!).

>Even if we assume that you are right about the problem, it may be
>that you are wrong about the solution. The fundamental need is to
>increase the amount of organic matter.

Trees are stable biomass. It may be that more CO2 'bonding' can be done by
oceanic plankton as was noted by Michael Lorrey. However, these cannot be
more than temporary solutions since the global emission of CO2 is
increasing exponentialy and will continue to do at least so for some time
(there's a lot more coal to burn).

>If your solution compels poor
>people on marginal land to continue the agricultural practices now
>turning that marginal land into desert, you are being counter-productive.

I have no idea where you got this idea and of course it's also necessary to
try to foster sustainable land-use in poor countries. This is just a part
of a much bigger general education problem. If farmers on the edge of
desert can be educated about these things that will be a very big plus
(just as education about family planning and basic health).

>For that matter, according to some studies, if 1/100 of what Clinton
>proposes US businesses should pay out of their own pockets each year
>to cut their CO2 emissions were applied to dumping dusts of
>metals-rich organic chemicals into the southern oceans, we might
>solve the problem not only for the US, but for the entire world.

I've heard proposals to dump animals waste (a lot of that in Europe, and
no-one knows what to do with it) in so-called 'oceanic deserts'. These are
area's in the oceans that do not contain minerals (maily nitrogen) required
for basic plankton life and are mostly lifeless because of it. The
introduction of nitrogencompounds could start a whole foodchain that would
bond many megatons of carbon. The high cost seems not to be getting it in
the middle of an ocean but to get is from the farms to the ships, after
that: no problem.

>The major problem with that claim is that identifiable sources of
>possible error convert it to something on the order of "The global
>temperature is someplace between two degrees colder and three degrees
>warmer than a century ago, with the most likely value being half a
>degree warmer."

The statistics are difficult, but if you superimpose temperature data
concerning the last 150 years from Vinnikov, Groveman and sources like CRU
and GISS the similaritiest are striking to say the least (and so is the
No, there's no certainty yet. I do not think we can afford to wait for
absolute, 100% certainty.

>The other problem is that to the extent that we can track WHEN this
>change occurred, it appears that about 80% of the effect occurred
>*before* 80% of the alleged cause.

X-cuse me? The relation between increased CO2 matches the start of the
industrial revolution and the relative decreasing C14 concentration
correlated with statistical data on global usage of fossile carbon. There
is very little doubt were all this 'new' carbon comes from, the extent of
it's effect cannot be determined yet but there are many indications that
the consequences for the global food production (amongst many other things)
could be a big problem.

>> > We can further say with equal confidence that they were NOT
>> > environmental disasters in any way that we would recognise. That
>> How can we say that? There was a happy ecosystem, yes. There was
>> not a happy ecosystem with agricultural humans who tend to live near
>> shorelines and be vulnerable to malaria in it.
>No significant evidence of major change in swamp area as a result of
>temperature changes in this range. No significant evidence of
>non-trivial shoreline changes. No significant evidence of changes in
>flooding patterns.

Not yet, but that may very well be because there's a delay between cause
and effect (not unusual in large systems). A two degree temperature
increase in the sub-tropics could very well enlarge the habitat for
malariamosquito's causing 50 million additional deaths yearly (mainly in
third-world countries). Already research in Colombia, Ethiopia, Pakistan
and Papua-New-Guinee has shown that malaria is becoming more frequent in
higher area's, this could be greenhouse-related.

>DIFFERENT plants grow well, but the basic level
>of biodiversity is not significantly affected.

>From what I've understood Homo Sapiens is the biggest threat to biological
diversity since whatever killed the dino's. Normal development of the
eco-system is replacement of about one species per year (based on fossile
records). Current extinction rate is anywhere from 10 to 40 species per
_day_. But all this not not necessarily related to greenhouse (more with
the McDonalds burger farming on poor Brazilian soil and the western lust
for tropical wood).

John Dickson <> wrote:
>I don't think wondering what we're doing to our atmosphere is the
>truly relevant question here -- it is probably either no big deal or
>way too late.

It could be already too late, but since we're not sure either way let's
work with the assuption that we can make a difference, it's a helluvalot
more motivating and fun.

>The important thing that no one is addressing is that
>the fossil fuels we are burning represent the end result of millions
>of years of solar energy concentrated into these highly energetic
>substances. I don't think anyone will argue that we are burning this
>stuff at an extremely accelerated rate, and the fact is, when
>they are gone, that is it.

Exacly, if the current trend does not change we'll have burned 300 million
years of solar energy in about three centuries. It's been a nice kickstart
for out technical civilisation but we have to find better alternatives pronto.

>I happen to believe they might be
>important, and I would rather not run out of them any time soon.
>It's not so much about the atmosphere, but rather how limited a
>resource they represent. I think fossil fuels have better uses than
>being inefficiently combusted when I commute to work.

Yes, better to use them for plastics and composite materials.
So how are electric cars doing? I understand Ford has a model that is ready
to be _used_.


Arjen Kamphuis | Learn as if you will live forever. | Live as though you will die tomorrow.