All this discussion about global warming and the supposed proof that Co2 is the main culprit got me thinking. The discussion of proof, or lack therof, is centered around historical data and climate models for the most part. What was the temperature in the past? Whatever past time-frame you want to use to support your argument; And what the climate models tell us about the future climate. Again, whatever future time frame is used to support ones argument.
But all this discussion about what was and what will be never seems to competely include exactly how it is that Co2 causes the Earth’s temperature to increase. We hear arguments about the so-called “greenhouse effect.” It sounds like a very simplistic and reasonable answer. But if it were such a simple and reasonable answer, why are there so many scientists that do not support this view?
To use an old phrase…”We can put a man on the moon, but we can’t…..” This is really the key to the entire issue. We can talk ad homonym about past temperature records, climate models, ice melt, the loss of glaciers, the recent cooling, or past 30 year warming all we want. But the real discussion should be – how exactly does Co2 cause the Earth to warm, if it does at all?
I did a Google search. “How does Co2 cause global warming.” I didn’t get much in terms of an actual answer. Probably the clearest and simplest answer I found is below. See the paragraph italicized for emphasis. This is the crux of the entire debate.
One simple little statement.
How does carbon dioxide cause global warming? (Lansing State Journal, August 31, 1994) ——————————————————————
Fossil fuels such as gasoline, methane and propane contain mostly carbon. When these fuels are burned, they react with oxygen and produce carbon dioxide.
Because of our heavy use of fossil fuels, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has been increasing since the industrial revolution.
The destruction of forests which use carbon dioxide also contributes to the increase in carbon dioxide.
Most of the light energy from the sun is emitted in wavelengths shorter than 4,000 nanometers (.000004 meters). The heat energy released from the earth, however, is released in wavelengths longer than 4,000 nanometers. Carbon dioxide doesn’t absorb the energy from the sun, but it does absorb some of the heat energy released from the earth. When a molecule of carbon dioxide absorbs heat energy, it goes into an excited unstable state. It can become stable again by releasing the energy it absorbed. Some of the released energy will go back to the earth and some will go out into space.
So in effect, carbon dioxide lets the light energy in, but doesn’t let all of the heat energy out, similar to a greenhouse.
Currently, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is increasing at the rate of about one part per million per year. If this continues, some meteorologists expect that the average temperature of the earth will increase by about 2.5 degrees Celsius. This doesn’t sound like much, but it could be enough to cause glaciers to melt, which would cause coastal flooding. END.
This is what it all comes down to. Co2 absorbs some of the Sun’s energy that would otherwise be radiated back into space from Earth and holds it in the atmosphere. Why can’t all the great minds in the world get together to figure this out? I know there is actually is a great deal of literature out there that explains how there is no real greenhouse effect. But the point is, why so much disagreement? It doesn’t seem like it should be so complicated to at least figure that out.
As I said, we can put a man on the Moon…