Saturday, August 21, 2010

Atmospheric CO2

Current chart and data for atmospheric CO2


Rasmus said...

Thank you for calling attention to this existential threat to our way of life. Solving the carbon problem will require a multitude of strategies. Decarbonizing our energy production by using more nuclear energy is absolutely essential. We also need a "carbon drawdown", whereby atmospheric CO2 is gradually brought down to levels that are compatible with the continued existence of our civilization. This can be achieved by global-scale pyrolysis of biomass, i.e. the production of biochar.

DocForesight said...

Charles, do you have a graph that covers a longer time-frame that would give a better perspective?

I am reminded of the alarm over the tritium leak at Vermont Yankee and how the anti-nuke forces manipulated that into F-U-D. It took Rod Adams and John Wheeler to ferret out the true assessment of its concentration and comparison.

In this case, we're looking at 2 ppmv per year, of which 5% is human-caused, right?

Charles Barton said...

Doc the recording of the Mauna Loa data set begins in 1958. We are looking at 2 ppm of which 100% is human caused. Natural CO2 have been more or less constant for thousands of years, with 100% of natural emissions typically being recycled. During ice ages atmospheric CO2 averaged 180 – 210 while average interglacial CO2 concentrations rose to 280 to 300 ppm during interglacial periods. The rise in atmospheric CO2 levels began about 1750 as the use of coal for heat and energy began to rise in Europe, and had reached 330 ppm by 1958.

Soylent said...

"In this case, we're looking at 2 ppmv per year, of which 5% is human-caused, right?"

No, the rise in CO2 is 100% anthropogenic.

It's certainly true that there are huge flows of CO2 in nature but that's irrelevant; dead vegetation emits enormous amounts of CO2 when it decomposes but growing vegetation takes it back up again.

On geological timescales volcanoes, fossil fuel formation, whithering rock and limestone formation have had the net effect of reducing atmospheric CO2. Grasses(i.e. our staple food crops) are an adaptation to this low CO2 climate.

If you don't care about the misery of human beings releasing a lot of CO2 is not a problem. A lot of species will die, but in a few million years everything will be very well adapted to scorching jurassic era climate that you've ressurected.

DocForesight said...

Gentlemen, thank you for your clarification as to the anthropogenic contribution of CO2. I will keep that in mind as I consider 70% of the earth's surface covered in water. Do you have a citation for the man-caused contribution being 100% of the increase? Thanks.

@Soylent -- There really is no need to assert malevolence or disinterest in my concern for my fellow man. On the contrary, I recognize that 2+ billion people don't even have electricity for A light bulb and until such time that SMRs, minis and LFTRs are deployed (likely 20+ years for full build-out), those people need something to bridge the power gap.

First, they care not one whit about CO2 as they are in a daily struggle for survival for fresh water, adequate calories and sanitation. Two, what option do you offer to deploy tomorrow that can be in place in 3 months to a village 500km from the nearest power plant? (BTW, no grid and solid or liquid fuels are too expensive to transport consistently).

Charles Barton said...

doc, are you certain beyond a plausible doubt, that AGW isn't happening? On what basis, would such a claim be made? The case for peak oil and peak coal is at least plausible, so even if AGW critics are right, we might have to get ready for energy substitution on a large scale. it is quite possible to build micro nuclear MSR power plants capable of delivering only 500 kW(t), which would supply the electrical needs of a village.

As for the source of the CO2 that has been demonstrated to be steadily increasing in the atmosphere, the amount of CO2 involved is significantly less than the CO2 emissions from fossil fuel use by human society. The bigger problem is explaining what happened to the rest of the CO2 that cannot be accounted for by increases in atmospheric CO2 concentrations.

As you know Nuclear Green is not a debating platform for climate change skeptics. There are other sites where you can debate these issues. I appreciate your contribution to Nuclear Green, and I am not trying to chase you away, but while you can state your views, please do not expect to hold a debate on them here.

DocForesight said...

Charles, I specifically avoid starting any debates on climate change on your blog, as I recognize the primary purpose is to discuss various forms of nuclear power. This latest thread began simply from a question I posed about your graph time frame. I followed with a clarification of the man-caused CO2 contribution. You supplied that clarification, for which I am thankful.

Soylent made an assertion and I defended myself. No foul language and no counter-assertion.

Do I think mankind influences climate? Possibly. To what extent? I have no idea and do not lose sleep over it. I believe the earth is far more resilient than we give it credit for, yet acknowledge that good stewardship of our resources is the moral and ethical stance to take.

The sooner micro, mini, SMRs and LFTRs can be brought to broad deployment, the better. An honest assessment of the needs of 2+ billion people, if you care about their plight (and as a doctor, I do), demands providing them a "bridge" of some electricity, even intermittent, may be the best we can do until the "best" solution makes its way to that remote village with a 10-bed clinic.

DocForesight said...

Charles, no debate was intended nor sought. I simply asked a question for a longer-term perspective on CO2 than from that portrayed on your graph. You kindly explained the circumstances regarding the 1950's.

If that is too confrontational then I really don't know how to engage in an open exchange of ideas.

Wishing you all the best.


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