Scratch Pad

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Global Warming roundup 8/07

In an interesting exchange on Steve U.'s blog, a commenter left a huge comment that really articulated well some of my feelings on the climate change issues. First, one commenter wrote, "There is one major fact about the global warming debate: no one debates the dirty air, water, and land created by greenhouse gases. If we are not the worst air quality in the nation, we are close to it."

That person made the mistake of confusing greenhouse gases with pollutants. Here is a snatch from the huge rebuttal that I really liked.

CO2 is NOT an "air pollutant" in the sense that carbon monoxide and particulates are. It is a trace element in the atmosphere. All animals (including people) generate high concentrations of it when they breathe. All carbon in plants and trees (including the food we eat) comes from this thin reservoir of CO2 in the atmosphere! All the carbon in carbohydrates was taken from the air by plants. Thus, CO2 is literally the basis of all life on earth. When we add a marginal amount to the atmosphere, we are adding the stuff that plants and animals are made of. It is the source of carbon that rains into the oceans and allows calcium carbonate to be turned into the shells of marine creatures and coral reefs.

The rest of that comment by Raymond Takashi Swenson was equally good.