Category — Carbon Dioxide
“CO2 is also a pollution fighter that reduces the harmful effects of ozone, nitrous oxides and other pollutants in the air, or too much nitrogen fertilizer in the soil.”
It’s amazing that minuscule bacteria can cause life-threatening diseases and infections – and miraculous that tiny doses of vaccines and antibiotics can safeguard us against these deadly scourges.
Equally astounding, trace amounts of selenium in our bodies protect us against the harmful effects of methylmercury. Just as incredible, this same element added to a manmade formula helps ensure that musk oxen calves survive their first year of life in an Alaskan wildlife conservation area where soils and thus forage are so deficient in selenium that their mothers’ milk cannot nourish them adequately.
It may thus not be too surprising that, at the planetary level, carbon dioxide is a miracle molecule for plants – and the “gas of life” for most living creatures on Earth. 
In units of volume, CO2’s concentration is typically presented as 400 parts per million (400 ppm). Translated, that’s just 0.04% of Earth’s atmosphere – the equivalent of 40 cents out of one thousand dollars, or 1.4 inches on a football field. Even atmospheric argon is 23 times more abundant: 9,300 ppm.
Moreover, the 400 ppm in 2013 is 120 ppm more than the 280 ppm carbon dioxide level in 1800, and that two-century increase is equivalent to a mere 12 cents out of $1,000, or one half-inch on a football field. [Read more →]
August 13, 2013 8 Comments
“[T]he impact that emissions reduction efforts in the U.S. will have on global emissions totals–and by extension, global climate–is quickly diminishing.”
The just-released numbers for last year’s carbon dioxide emissions (not including land-use changes) show why forcing large cuts in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions is not very high on the priority list of the U.S. powers-that-be (including voters).
In 2010, the total global CO2 emissions were the highest on record, ~9.1 PgC (33,400 million metric tons). The U.S. contribution was ~1.50PgC, about 16% of the global total—percentage-wise the lowest on record (since 1959) and falling rapidly.
Unilateral U.S. CO2 mitigation strategies, in other words, are doomed to increasing irrelevance–and even unintended consequences should carbon rationing at home result in industrial transfers to less regulated areas. [Read more →]
December 8, 2011 7 Comments
In my last post, I suggested that the externalities from coal-fired electricity generation were probably not as negative as was being touted in a recent report by Paul Epstein and colleagues from the Center for Health and the Global Environment. As further support for my contention, I submit the contents of a new book by copious carbon dioxide researchers Drs. Sherwood and Craig Idso titled “The Many Benefits of Atmospheric CO2 Enrichment: How humanity and the rest of the biosphere will prosper from this amazing trace gas that so many have wrongfully characterized as a dangerous air pollutant!”
The father-son authors take the reader alphabetically through the many benefits from an atmosphere enriched with carbon dioxide that they have gleaned from the peer-reviewed scientific literature, as well as the results of their own experimentation (also documented in the literature). The Idsos’s 55 subject areas of CO2′s beneficial influence is backed by scientific references. The benefits by and large include only direct influences from higher CO2 levels, and don’t delve into indirect influences through, for example, climate change (with the exception of the inclusion of three or four categories dedicated to describing declines in human mortality and increases in human longevity).
I include below the list of those 55 ways that the Idsos have identified “in which the modern rise in atmospheric CO2 is benefiting earth’s biosphere.”
Hopefully, Paul Epstein and colleagues will pick up a copy of this book (available here), because I am certain that they did not include many of these considerations in their calculations.
In the list below, I give only the category name, but a synopsis of CO2’s impact in each of the categories is contained in a pamphlet that summarizes the book, and which is available from the Science and Public Policy Institute. [Read more →]
March 10, 2011 14 Comments