Recent headlines announced that the level of atmosphere carbon dioxide (CO2) had reached a “feared” 400 parts per million.
This ratio would not be so scary if we imagine a Minnesota Wild game with 10,000 seated spectators. The announcer asks the CO2 people to stand, and just four people rise in the total arena. The fear is because CO2 responds to a portion of the earth’s infrared (IR) radiation and warms the atmosphere. Therefore more CO2 should eventually cook us.
What is not mentioned is something called band saturation. There is enough CO2 in the air now to absorb most of the segment of the earth’s IR band that affects CO2, so that more CO2 in the air doesn’t do very much. This is one reason that data from NOAA’s Climate Data Center shows that global temperatures haven’t risen in the past 15 years, even though CO2 levels continue rising.
Or as Stanford’s Nobel physicist, Robert Laughlin, put it recently, “Global warming forecasts have the further difficulty that one can’t find much actual warming in present day weather observations.”
The warming forecasts in the four previous reports from the Intergovernment Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) have so far been much higher than the actual experience. It’s time for more climate research, before we panic or spend billions on energy schemes that won’t do much.
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