Sunday, March 25, 2012 misrepresents the dangers of carbon dioxide

It's nice that there are a few people on the Left who take an interest in the facts but even they cannot avoid bias taking over. The matter below is not the first such instance. Obama even entrusted them with examining his computer-generated "birth certificate" and they pronounced it genuine. But you can generate ANYTHING on a computer. If they had really been interested in the facts, they would have concluded that the genuineness was possible but not proven. Their "facts" are facile. They have to be. The full facts are deadly to the Green/Left is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. Its mission is to “apply the best practices of both journalism and scholarship” to “reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics.” recently published an article entitled “Santorum’s science,” by Lori Robertson. In this piece, Robertson criticizes Rick Santorum for a statement he made about global warming on March 12th in Biloxi, Mississippi. Alluding to the fact that carbon dioxide (CO2) is a vital ingredient for plant life, Santorum quipped, “The dangers of carbon dioxide? Tell that to a plant, how dangerous carbon dioxide is.”

Robertson attempts to refute Santorum’s remark by declaring:

* “Too much” CO2 “is definitely a bad thing.”

* “Exposure to high levels of CO2 can cause ‘headaches, dizziness, restlessness … coma, asphyxia to convulsions … and even frostbite if exposed to dry ice,’ which is solid CO2.”

* “Plants do, in fact, absorb CO2. But even plants might not like too much of it. A 2008 study conducted at the University of Illinois found that instead of increasing organic matter in soil, higher carbon dioxide levels actually led to less organic matter.”

These statements are materially misleading. Let’s examine them one at a time. “Too much” CO2 “is definitely a bad thing.”

The same can be said of just about every substance known to man. The most basic principle of toxicology is that “the dose makes the poison.” As explained in a Cambridge University Press textbook, Understanding Environmental Pollution (page 60), “Anything is toxic at a high enough dose. … Even water, drunk in very large quantities, may kill people by disrupting the osmotic balance in the body’s cells.”

Likewise, even oxygen can be toxic when breathed in high concentrations. Per The Johns Hopkins Manual of Gynecology and Obstetrics (page 40), “when there is too much oxygen … the lungs may be damaged, as in acute repository distress syndrome (ARDS).”

Thus, it is meaningless to proclaim that “too much” of any particular substance is “a bad thing.” Instead, the pertinent matter is, “When does it become a bad thing?” which leads directly to the next point. “Exposure to high levels of CO2 can cause ‘headaches, dizziness, restlessness … coma, asphyxia to convulsions … and even frostbite if exposed to dry ice,’ which is solid CO2.”

This statement is irrelevant to the issue at hand. Santorum was speaking about global warming and atmospheric CO2—not ventilation deathtraps, industrial hazards, and dry ice. The truth is that atmospheric CO2 levels don’t approach anywhere near the doses that can cause the symptoms that Robertson lists.

Using data from multiple academic sources, Just Facts has documented that carbon dioxide produces no adverse physiological effects on humans until concentrations exceed 50 times the level in Earth’s atmosphere. Furthermore, natural emissions of CO2 outweigh man-made emissions by a factor of twenty to one.

Some of Robertson’s confusion may stem from the source that she cites for the dangers of CO2, which is a cut sheet from the Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services. This document contains a major recurring error. The figures given for CO2 concentrations that cause various adverse effects are mistaken by more than a factor of ten.

For example, the cut sheet says that exposure to CO2 concentrations above 5,000 parts per million (ppm) “may lead to serious oxygen deprivation resulting in permanent brain damage, coma and even death.” As detailed by the National Research Council (and many other academic sources), humans can be routinely exposed to more than ten times this level of CO2 for days on end without any indications of permanent brain damage or threat of death. In fact, it takes prolonged CO2 exposures of more than 20,000 ppm just to cause occasional, mild headaches. “Plants do, in fact, absorb CO2. But even plants might not like too much of it. A 2008 study conducted at the University of Illinois found that instead of increasing organic matter in soil, higher carbon dioxide levels actually led to less organic matter.”

First, according to the article that Robertson cites for this claim, this study found that higher CO2 levels “may” have led to less organic matter in the soil of a certain soybean crop. This is different from claiming that higher CO2 “actually” led to less organic matter in plant soil.

Far more significantly, Robertson fails to mention that the study found “a 30 percent increase in above- and below- ground soybean biomass” among the crops exposed to more CO2. In plain language, these soybean plants grew 30% larger. They did, in fact, “like” the added CO2.

Note that this study was conducted at a CO2 level of 550 ppm, as compared to the current atmospheric CO2 concentration of about 387 ppm. Bear those figures in mind, because the study’s result accords with an academic text that explains how to increase the productivity of commercial greenhouses:

"Plants need water, light, warmth, nutrition and CO2 to grow. By increasing the CO2 level in the greenhouse atmosphere (typical to 600 ppm instead of normal 400 ppm value), the growth for some plants can be stimulated in an important way, with often yield increases up to 20%, especially for tomato, cucumber, strawberry, etc. but also for potted plants and cut flowers."

In sum, Santorum is correct. CO2 concentrations well above today’s atmospheric levels are typically beneficial to plants.


If this is "The Science", then science is forever discredited

The latest data set from The Met Office shows that the January 1851 southern hemisphere temperature anomaly was 1.800 C.

They calculated the southern hemisphere land temperature (within 0.001 degrees) based on a single thermometer in South America. In fact, it was the only thermometer south of Cuba.

We now have one-tree Keith and one-thermometer Phil.



By Paul Homewood



                            Before                                                                                                 After


The team that brought you “Hide The Decline” have gone one better, with their latest offering “Invent The Incline”. Across much of the Arctic, GHCN have been caught making controversial temperature adjustments, which have had the effect of reducing past temperatures, thereby creating a false warming trend. (Full story here).

It now appears that it is not just the Arctic. The same sort of adjustments have been discovered in Australia.


Appendix A lists every station in Australia used by GHCN, that have records back to 1940. (There are more stations with records that don’t stretch back that far and that show similar adjustments – Brisbane, as shown above is a classic case – but I have used 1940 as the baseline). Of these 17 stations, 8 have had their 1940 temperatures reduced, while 9 have remained unaltered. No stations at all have been adjusted upwards. As with the Arctic stations, by 2010 all the adjustments have disappeared. (In fact, for some reason, the new adjusted dataset shows most stations 0.1C warmer in 2010 than the previous dataset – I have disregarded this).

Just to clarify a few points :-

  1. The “original mean temps” are based on GHCN Version 2.0 and available from GISS here. The “GHCN adjusted mean temps” are based on GHCN Version 3.1, introduced in December 2011, and available here.
  2. GISS perform a “Homogeneity Adjustment” on these  “GHCN adjusted temperatures”, which purports to offset the UHI effect. This, however, only applies at urban and peri-urban stations.
  3. I have done some detailed checks on Alice Springs, which confirm that the “original” dataset do indeed correlate with the Australian Bureau of Meteorology ( BOM) – I will be issuing a further post on this shortly.
  4. According to the BOM, they have a Quality Monitoring Process in place that includes” checking for values that extend beyond what is considered realistic,  inconsistent observations (e.g. high rainfall recorded together with clear skies) and discontinuous or abrupt changes in values over a short period of time”. (See here).
  5. They go on to say “Doubtful observations are examined to determine whether they are truly in error or just unusual. Data can be subjected to physical and statistical checks, compared against those for nearby stations with similar observations, or staff may refer to the original observations or observers for verification”


At a tangent, I have two other observations :-

  1. You will notice I have flagged all the airport sites in the Appendix below, 10 from 17 stations. At the rural airport sites, there are no adjustments in the GISS dataset to allow for the UHI effect.
  2. Checks at Darwin and Adelaide seem to indicate that only 0.2C has been allowed in cities for the increase in UHI since 1940. (In other words, the “After GISS Homogeneity” temperatures for 1940 have been increased by 0.2C).

I find both of these assumptions highly dubious.


German Eco-Czars Threaten To Force Home Owners To Make Costly Energy-Saving Rennovations

German daily Die Welt here reported last month how the transition to renewable energy development in Europe, particularly Germany, has not been progressing well lately.

Offshore parks are being delayed, the expansion of the power grid is practically DOA and people are realizing that the energy the sun sends for free is actually awfully expensive and inefficient.

The regulatory system designed to steer society through an energy efficiency revolution isn’t working. As a result bureaucrats are getting frustrated as their targets look less attainable than ever. Failure of their grand project is something they refuse to allow. Rather than admitting that the whole idea is unworkable, they instead think that the measures haven’t been drastic enough. Die Welt writes:

"It’s no wonder that environmental politicians are considering forcing people rather than waiting for them to volunteer. That’s why the EU Commission has proposed a directive that threatens power utilities with fines in order to get them to finance the energy saving measures of their customers. Also homeowners are once again in the cross-hairs of politicians. After all, homes are the biggest consumers of energy . Too few homeowners are thinking about replacing their heating systems or insulating their walls and attics.”

So what do the EU politicians have in mind? They want to force homeowners to renovate their homes to make them more energy efficient. Never mind if it’s economical or not. The idea is to save energy, no matter the cost. Besides, European politicians believe homeowners are too stupid to come up with the right answer when it comes to making investment decisions.

The German government is now considering such a measure. For example, the law would force people to insulate their homes and replace their furnace if they decide to carry out larger scale renovation works.

But as Die Welt writes, such drastic measures that try to force certain behavior are already being tried in the State of Baden-W├╝rttemberg, which is attempting to force homeowners there to carry out comprehensive renovation works for energy efficiency. The result: homeowners are renovating less than before. Die Welt:

"Even small works are being avoided now because otherwise the law of the state threatens to force a costly full renovation. The laws of the state have only led to strategies of dodging and avoiding and have proven to be counter-productive.”

Little wonder. Whenever the state intrudes this deep into private property and lives, things are sure to go awry. That the state now is contemplating laws that tell people how to run their own private property is a scary measure indeed. They only need to look back at what happened under previous dictatorial regimes, never mind Baden-W├╝rttemberg.


Bill McFibben on the Weirdest Weather

The article below is a good one but all the more remarkable in that it comes from a (recovering?) Warmist

Bill McKFibben went on Democracy Now today to talk about the President's attempt to make everyone happy on the Keystone Pipeline (or, at least, make everyone equally unhappy), and mentioned the warm weather in the US, calling it the "weirdest weather ever seen in this country."

Personally I find such talk strange, since here in Oregon it's been cold and rainy (and even snowed last night), but that's another matter.

But weirdest weather ever? Weirder than the Dust Bowl years? Than any of various "storms of the century," or 1972's Hurricane Agnes, a June hurricane that swept away all our lawn furniture and precipitated a 20-year feud between my grandmother and my great uncle-in-law when she suggested, as we were standing around watching the water come up, that he'd better get his Volkswagen Bug out of our driveway before it floated away. (I suspect there must have been bad feelings between them already, and this was just the last straw.) Me, I believe the absolutely weirdest weather in the U.S. occurred on August 25, 1814, when, just as the British were setting fire to Washington D.C. -- the Americans having all fled the day before, including Dolley Madison with some valuable paintings -- a hurricane appeared out of the blue and put out the fires, saving the city and, quite possibly, the nation.

Anyway it's certainly been a warm March in the U.S., but conveniently McKibben doesn't mention that the rest of the globe has had a fairly cold winter (Dec-Feb). Globally, UAH measured the lower troposphere to rank 19th out of 34 years; the USA48 ranking was 4th (last year it was 26th).

UAH's trend for USA48 over their 34-year record is 0.21 ± 0.04 C/decade. That's worrisome enough, and it what really he ought to cite, but I guess it's not scary enough and he needs to take advantage of a heat wave while its here.

McKibben does this a lot, like with last year's Hurricane Irene, which he attributed to warm water off the east coast. Yet the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season had a near normal number of major hurricanes, with an above average number of tropical storms with a near normal number of major hurricanes. Back then KcKibben picked off all the global hot spots:

"Last year was the warmest ever recorded on planet Earth. Arctic sea ice is near all-time record lows. Record floods from Pakistan to Queensland to the Mississippi basin; record drought from the steppes of Russia to the plains of Texas. Just about the only trauma we haven’t had are hurricanes plowing into the U.S., but that’s just luck—last year was a big storm year, but they all veered out to sea. This year we’re already on letter I—which in a normal year we don’t get to until well into October."

Now he sticks to the US heat wave, with no mention of the recent deep freeze in eastern Europe. And if you want to cherry pick, Arctic sea ice is currently at it highest extent in several years.


Obama blames Congress for Solyndra failure

President Barack Obama distanced himself from solar panel firm Solyndra amid Republican charges that his administration improperly secured a $535 million government loan guarantee.

“Obviously, we wish Solyndra hadn’t gone bankrupt,” Obama said about the firm that went under shortly after obtaining the loan.

“Part of the reason they did was because the Chinese were subsidizing their solar industry and flooding the market in ways that Solyndra couldn’t compete,” he told NPR radio’s “Marketplace” program.

The interview was recorded Wednesday in Nevada and broadcast Thursday.

California-based Solyndra filed for bankruptcy in September, closed its doors and laid off 1,000 workers, leaving taxpayers on the hook for the loan.

“This was not our program, per se. Congress — Democrats and Republicans — put together a loan guarantee program because they understood historically that when you get new industries, it’s easy to raise money for startups, but if you want to take them to scale, oftentimes there’s a lot of risk involved,” Obama said.

“The understanding is that some companies are not going to succeed, some companies will do very well — but the portfolio as a whole ends up supporting the kind of innovation that helps make America successful in this innovative 21st century economy.”

Republicans have linked administration efforts to help the firm to the fact that a charitable foundation run by George Kaiser, a generous contributor to Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, was a major investor in the firm.

The Republican-led House Energy and Commerce Committee launched an investigation in early 2011.

But the White House has denied pressing for the loan.

While expressing regret for the “heartbreaking” loss of Solyndra jobs, Obama said it was important to make sure “we’re not just cashing in our chips and letting the Chinese or the Germans develop the technologies that we know are going to be critical in the future.”

“I’m proud to say that we’re going to continue to support it,” he added about the green energy sector.



For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there are mirrors of this site here and here


1 comment:

John A said...

Obama said it was important to make sure “we’re not just cashing in our chips and letting the Chinese or the Germans develop the technologies that we know are going to be critical in the future.”

WEll... While for once, he has said something I sort-of agree with, as a whole - no.

I am old enough to remember that the transistor was developed in the U.S., but the first most consumers saw of them was small radios imported from Japan. Industry here had thought that the consumer market was quite satisfied with vacuum-tube tech and only big buyers, such as computer manufacturers, would be interested. Oops...

Which leads to the second thing: do "we" know which "technologies are going to be critical in the future” or should we just blindly accept that any "new" tech (Windmills are new? they have been in use for a few thousand years. Solar? Nillions of years.) will be of critical importance - except those "we" do not think will? Better storage [batteries] might avtually make [so,e] wind/solar practical, while without storage I do not think they are, but while there is certainly research it is not the "green" groups or [outside DeotofDefense] Government funding it, but the demonised "big industry."

Build a wagon before domesticating the horse...