90 Million Tons of Carbon Dioxide are Dumped into the Atmosphere Every 24 Hours
By John Lawrence
As Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, states in his book, Eaarth, global warming is not some far-off event that we will have to prepare for sometime in the future; it is here today and the effects of global warming are being manifested here today. Yet the oil and gas industry is pulling out all the stops to convince people that global warming is just a myth perpetrated by fuzzy headed liberals.
Extreme weather events, billion dollar weather events, are happening with increasing frequency just as Wall Street analysts are computing Big Oil’s stock price based on all the assets yet in the ground and which the industry is bound and determined to pump out on its way to becoming part of the atmosphere. If such were to be the case, kiss the earth, as a habitable place for the human species, good-bye.
In his book McKibben states:
“…global warming is no longer a philosophical threat, no longer a future threat, no longer a threat at all. It’s our reality.We’ve changed the planet, changed it in large and and fundamental ways. And these changes are far, far more evident in the toughest parts of the globe, where climate change is already wrecking thousands of lives daily. In July 2009, Oxfam released an epic report, ‘Suffering the Science,’ which concluded that even if we now adopted ‘the smartest possible curbs’ on carbon emissions, ‘the prospects are very bleak for hundreds of millions of people, most of them among the world’s poorest.’”
Extreme weather events are happening daily although news outlets are reluctant to label them the results of global warming. Why? Some of the major sponsors of TV news are oil and gas companies whose total focus on short term profits doesn’t allow for a glance at the fact that their products are threatening the long term survival of the human species. After all oil company executives will probably be dead before the earth becomes uninhabitable.
In 1859, the same year that oil was discovered in Pennsylvania by Colonel Edwin Drake, the Irish scientist John Tyndall discovered that carbon dioxide traps heat. 36 years later in 1895 Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius presented a paper to the Stockholm Physical Society titled, “On the Influence of Carbonic Acid in the Air upon the Temperature of the Ground.”
Arrhenius was the first to make the connection between the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and global warming. He made over 10,000 computations by hand which resulted in his conclusion that a doubling of CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere would raise global average temperatures by several degrees Celsius.
Svante Arrhenius’ grandson, Gustaf Arrhenius, was hired at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography in San Diego in 1956 by Roger Revelle, the father of the University of California at San Diego (UCSD). Arrhenius is still active there at the Arrhenius Laboratory.
Prior to moving to the United States in 1952, he participated in two Swedish deep sea research expeditions—the Skagerak Expedition in1946 and the Albatross Expedition around the world from 1947 to 1948. The Albatross Expedition provided him with research materials to do his doctoral work. In 1953, he received his Ph.D. in natural sciences from the University of Stockholm. I will write more about Gustav Arrenius, his connection with Roger Revelle and UCSD in a future article.
Roger Revelle was also the mentor of Al Gore whose recent book, The Future, details the latest research on climate change and global warming. Prior to coming to San Diego, Revelle was a professor at Harvard and one of his students there was Al Gore. So not only was Revelle a leader in the history of the global warming movement, he inspired one of the most influential people in that movement today.
The movie, An Inconvenient Truth, directed by Al Gore is a passionate and inspirational look at the former Vice President’s fervent crusade to halt global warming’s deadly progress by exposing the myths and misconceptions that surround it.
We humans are using the atmosphere as a dump. The carbon pollution we are dumping into it every day is trapping more extra heat energy than would be released by 400,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs. In addition to carbon dioxide, methane is being released from the Arctic tundra as the ice caps melt as my colleague, Frank Thomas, recently reported. It is also being released from the bottom of the sea. Methane has 25 times the heat trapping effect as carbon dioxide.
Nine of the ten hottest years ever recorded since accurate measurements began in the 1880s have occurred in the last ten years. Unprecedented heat waves in Europe in 2003 killed 70,000 people; in Russia in 2010 they killed 55,000. At present wildfires in the western US are setting records. Right now 57 major fires are burning across 11 states, fueled largely by severe drought conditions and fierce winds.
Already in 2013 spending on wildfires has topped $1 billion, and we are on the way to a record in terms of the number of acres burned. The six worst fire seasons since 1960 have taken place in the past 13 years. That includes 2012 when 9.2 million acres went up in flames. The worst year was 2006 when 9.8 million acres burned. Global warming also makes lightning strikes, one of the chief fire starters, much more common.
In 2010, the world experienced the hottest year since records have been kept, and ended the hottest decade ever measured. Last year, 2012, broke even more high temperature records. October 2012 was the 332nd month in a row when global temperatures were above the twentieth-century average. The growing absorption of CO2in the oceans is turning oceans into a corrosive acid bath killing off the coral reefs, shellfish and plankton, an important part of the food chain.
Total global rainfall is increasing 1.5 percent a decade because warmer air holds more moisture. This moisture is causing increased extreme precipitation events causing major floods all over the world. As just one example, floods are covering 60% of metropolitan Manila at the present time.
As reported on August 12, 2013,record temperatures across North Asia have killed dozens and pushed electricity grids to near breaking points, forcing governments to introduce emergency measures as more of the same heat is forecast. At least 105 people have died and 115 are missing after floods, a typhoon and torrential rain hit parts of China as reported two days ago. Rainfall events are dropping huge amounts in small periods of time because there is more moisture in the atmosphere due to global warming.
And the beat goes on while politicians, governments and large corporations not only are not concerned but do everything in their power to convince the people that there is nothing to worry about. No precautions need be taken. Everything is normal. Just invest in the stock market and buy more automobiles.
We have to increase GDP at all costs including the cost of making the Earth a reasonably habitable place to live. I think Exxon stock is probably way up there, and every year they make more profits and pay little if anything in taxes. Pad your portfolio and forget about global warming. Also forget about the world you are bequeathing to your grandchildren.
This first appeared at San Diego Free Press.