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Ozone Depletion and Other
By H.V. Nussey
The Remnant, February 4, 1999
(This is a noncopyrighted newspaper article.)
Summary by Gary Novak
The atmosphere is only 0.04% carbon dioxide, of which only 3% stems from human activity. Therefore, human activity cannot create global warming stemming from carbon dioxide, though natural causes of global warming certainly can exist.
Grim Fairy Tales From the Doomsday-Mongers
When Lemuel Gulliver embarked upon his renowned "Travels to Several Remote Nations of the World" in the early 1700s, one of his ports of call was Balnarbari, the Isle of Scientists, nestled somewhere in the Yahoo Archipelago. Upon rowing ashore Gulliver was escorted to the island's Center for Advanced Research. There he observed teams of white-coated men scribbling mathematical formulas on chalkboards and scratching their heads. They were engrossed with the idea of making gunpowder from ice cubes. Turnips had been tried earlier but were found only to clog their pistols. Being a ship's doctor, Gulliver quickly recognized the scientists' problem: they were suffering acute mental constipation.
He took the liberty of suggesting a remedy, one especially efficacious in treating scientists and theologians: The corner of a hanky is inserted into a patient's ear and gently drawn out through the other ear. The two ends are then pulled back and forth several times until clear thinking is restored. Dr. Gulliver's remedy was an immediate success and Balnabari science improved instantly. But alas, his therapy was later abandoned and the old malady returned. Likewise the quality of Balnabari science returned to its previous status; "Operation Cumbercoot," which attempted to cross a sea cucumber with a bandicoot, was dismal failure.
There are disturbing parallels between Balnabari science and that which occupies the minds of today's "concerned scientists." Rather than gunpowder and cumbercoots, the new obsession is ecological disaster. Our ecology experts are given to wringing their hands over what they imagine is the imminent destruction of our planet. And the news media, who hang on their every word, trumpet their claims as if the voice of God had spoken. But in truth, the expertise of our savants clearly lies in their power of conjuring up scary stories. Deadly pollutants, they say, are on the verge of leaving Mother Earth virtually uninhabitable. And the fault of this destruction lies principally with irresponsible industrialists. Hence, a cadre of "experts" has come forth and appointed itself guardian of the earth. Through a campaign of fear, the cadre has intimidated the public by taking advantage of the average citizen's scientific naiveté.
Encouraged by the media, the new crusaders have given themselves carte blanche in dictating a national ecology protection agenda. But when more moderate voices attempt to contradict the supposed experts, they are given neither airtime nor press coverage. On behalf of truth, therefore, what follows are a few points which challenge the current wisdom. And while the scare campaign rages on several fronts, our comments here will focus on just two. But these are areas where the quack-attack will dig deeply into American pockets.
It's worth noting first of all just how wrong-headed the doomsayers have been over the past quarter-century. Organizations like Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, National Wildlife Federation, the Club of Rome (which is not the Vatican), were forecasting throughout the 1970s that billions of people would be starving by 1985 because world food production had peaked in 1964 and was thereafter in irrevocable decline. They predicted also that the world would run out of oil, natural gas, and industrial metals by the late 1980s. Those apocalyptic deadlines are now long past, and none of the dire predictions ever happened. Nor are they likely to. Strangely, the doomsayers seem never to lose credibility with the press. They simply move on to newer ominous forecasts and leave it to their media lackeys to broadcast them to the public.
Probably the two most sensational environment scare stories are "global warming" and "ozone depletion." The cost of brining these supposed problems under control is difficult to calculate, but a conservative estimate would be many tens of billions of consumer and taxpayer dollars.
In the matter of global warming, we are told that excessive amounts of carbon dioxide (CO2) is being released into the atmosphere by industrial waste. As a result, the world is now enclosed within a gigantic gaseous "greenhouse," which traps radiated solar heat, thus causing our planet to become increasingly warmer year after year. At a certain point, the polar ice caps will begin a massive meltdown and cause vast flooding throughout the world's low countries. Florida, they claim, could disappear entirely. But in fact, most earth-scientists deny such claims.
Their data indicate that ocean and atmospheric temperatures (which always fluctuate) show no sign of gravitating towards warmer quiescent temperatures. Yet this information never reaches the general public. The media prefer to believe the fear mongers. Scary stories, after all, provide sensational news; so the opinions of levelheaded scientists are routinely ignored. It's a matter of fright makes right. To illustrate conclusively why the issue of global warming (as a consequence of CO2 pollution) is just another fabricated fantasy, let's itemize a few basic facts the Chicken Little brigade refuses to acknowledge. These are hard-core empirical fats no one can rationally dispute.
- The earth's atmospheric pressure averages 14.7 lbs. per square inch; and since the earth's surface area is roughly 200 million square miles, we can easily calculate the total weight of the atmosphere. It works out to some six thousand trillion tons. Now in 1950, the CO2 content of the atmosphere was known to be 0.04% (by weight)...which comes to about 2400 billion tons of CO2.
- Today, 46 years later, CO2 constitutes about 0.06% of the atmosphere, or about 3600 billion tons, i.e., an increase of about 1200 billion tons . This increase may seem alarming at first glance, but we'll see in a moment it is merely a fluctuation in the natural ebb and flow of gaseous compounds that is routinely in transit within the biosphere.
- The totality of human activity currently releases about six billion tons of CO2 per year into the atmosphere, while non-human activities, such as forest fires, volcanoes, and the oceans, release about 200 billion tons of CO2 per year. (So says Scientific American, 9/89.) Thus, non-human activity contributes the remaining 97.1% ... or about 33 times as much as man does. This fact, alone, ought to have given pause to the scaremongers.}
- Based on these annual inputs, if all of the CO2 released since 1950 actually stayed there, the increase would be almost 8 times higher than the 1200 billion tons observed since that time. This implies that nature routinely removes CO2 from the atmosphere in capacious quantities--the rate of removal working out to about 30 times greater than the rate of input currently produced by man! To where does this CO2 get removed? A) It serves as the primary fuel for driving the great engine of photosynthesis, i.e., nature's unique green-growing machine. B) It is absorbed into the world's oceans as indicated in Item 3.
- It is useful to know how long a liberated CO2 molecule is likely to remain in the atmosphere after being deposited there by a pollution source. Dividing the present quantity of CO2 (i.e., 3600 billion tons) by the annually produced 206 billion tons/yr. (Item3), we can figure that it takes about 17 years for the average CO2 molecule to get recycled back into either the sea or into some form of plant life. (Peter Dietze states the figures to be 3600/586=6, not 17.) This is a far shorter period than the 46 years since 1950 in which the increase occurred, thus implying (along with Item 4) that nature controls atmospheric CO2 very well on her own. It also implies that, were man to continue polluting the atmosphere at the present rate forever, his polluting would never account for more than 3% of the alleged excess of atmospheric CO2.
- Considering the ratio of human to non-human rates of production of CO2 (i.e., 1 to 33) and the ratio of human production to natural removal (i.e., 1 to 30), we are brought ineluctably to what is by now an obvious conclusion: that even if every manufacturing plant (or other pollution-emitter) on the entire planet were to shut down tomorrow, the resulting reduction of CO2 in the atmosphere would go virtually unnoticed!
- The above list of facts comes from direct scientific measure. Some people will of course insist that this conclusion is dead wrong; but that is much like arguing that two plus two could not possibly equal four. The next item is as empirical as the ones above, but exact quantitative relationships have yet to be nailed down.
- Regardless of how much (or little) CO2 man contributes to the atmosphere, the supposition that increased levels of this gas cause global warming has never been verified. While there is indeed a correlation between CO2 and warming, the evidence is actually in favor of the opposite hypothesis, i.e., that global warming causes increased levels of CO2, not the other way around. Close analysis of the data bears this out. Moreover, it is a known geophysical fact that warmer oceans absorb less atmospheric CO2 than do cooler oceans, thus corroborating the more-likely hypothesis that it is variances in global temperatures which determine the levels of atmospheric CO2 , not the other way around.
- Finally, there is this experimental data which offers strong evidence that increased levels of atmospheric CO2, far from being harmful, are actually beneficial. For example, orange groves aerated with CO2 readily absorb the gas and produce between 50% and 200% higher yields than untreated groves. What's more, they require much less watering. Similar increases in productivity have been found in a wide variety of other food plants. In fact, there are no cases where CO2 aeration was found to be harmful to vegetable life. But then how could it?...CO2 is the mother's milk of photosynthesis.
Item 8 puts the lie to doomsayers' claims that if something is not done to stop CO2 "pollution," a point will soon be reached beyond which the earth's recovery would be impossible. Quite the contrary is true. Scientific evidence is in fact telling us that world food production could only be greatly improved by finding innovative ways of driving atmospheric CO2 above its present quiescent levels. And should there be occasional anomalous surges of CO2 (i.e., surges beyond the needs of the plant world), these excesses would be absorbed immediately by the world's vast oceans. In short, the dynamic by which Mother Nature controls atmospheric CO2 turns out to be extremely stable and efficient; larger than normal quantities of airborne CO2 simply spill over into one or the other of the two great reservoirs.
Items 1 through 7 serve to demonstrate that the Yahoo brigade hasn't a clue about how the biosphere really works. Instead of pursuing scientific truth, our ecology experts have allowed ideology to direct their conclusions. This has led the doomsayers down pathways totally alien to the true purposes of science. So, does atmospheric CO2 actually cause global warming? It's more likely that cumbercoot will soon replace beef on American dinner tables.
The bogeymen of the ozone depletion scenario are chemical compounds called chloro-fluoro-carbons (or CFCs). These compounds are widely used in a variety of refrigeration systems and often wind up being released into the atmosphere. The great fear among the myth-mongers is that liberated CFCs will destroy ozone (O3) in the upper atmosphere, thus allowing dangerously high levels of ultraviolet (UV) radiation to pass on down to the earth's surface. Indeed, CFCs do combine with and destroy ozone, but so does the exhaust of high-flying jet planes (of which there are hundreds daily) passing through the atmosphere. In any case, it turns out that ozone is replenished naturally in the upper atmosphere by the sun's gamma rays and X-rays, and in the lower atmosphere mainly by electric storms. So the important question in this controversy should be: Have CFCs been shown to be responsible for increased levels of UV-B (the more dangerous class of UV radiation from the sun) upon the earth's surface?
The answer to this question is: No! First of all, no one knows whether it is liberated CFCs or jet plane exhaust that is the more damaging to the ozone. Most atmospheric scientists believe it is the latter. Secondly, even assuming these scientists are wrong and CFCs are indeed the primary culprit, we must consider that:
Just as X-rays are absorbed by thick layers of lead foil, so ultraviolet light is absorbed by the layers of atmosphere through which it must pass to reach the earth. Absorption of UV-B is directly proportional to the thickness of these layers. At the Equator, the sun's rays strike the earth from a near-vertical direction, thus intercepting a relatively thin layer of atmosphere.
- The ozone level of the atmosphere, regardless of human activity, varies too much on its own to be able to produce data correlating UV-B intensity to ozone levels. And,
- Even if the ozone count were absolutely constant, ground-level UV-B happens to be highly variable for other reasons; namely, latitude and altitude. Here's why:
By contrast, inside the Arctic Circle the sun's rays come in at a near-horizontal slant. Since highly slanted rays must intercept much thicker layers of atmosphere, much more UV-B is filtered out. Hence, about noon on any cloudless spring day, there will be 11.5 times more UV-B striking the Equator than strikes the earth at latitude 85 degrees. That's over 1000% more UV-B.
These are facts atmospheric scientists are familiar with; yet, environment activists concerned about excessive UV-B exposure envision what they term a "worst case" scenario, whereby a human population, due to excessive amounts of CFCs in the atmosphere, is exposed to a mere 10% increase in UV-B. In reality, a 10% increase in UV-B exposure is almost trivial. Anyone living in the temperate latitudes (as most of us do) who moves about 100 miles south of his present location will effectively receive the dreaded 10% increase in UV-B. Moreover, a change in altitude causes an even greater change in exposure. People living in mile-high Denver, Colorado, for example, receive about 22% more UV-B than people living in Philadelphia, a city at about the same latitude but at sea level. Thus moving from Philadelphia to Denver would expose you to over twice the quack patrol's "worst case" CFC pollution scenario!
With such wide natural variation in UV-B known to depend solely upon where people live, and with jet plane exhaust fumes playing a major (and so far, unmeasured) role as regards manmade ozone depletion, how in the name of science can CFCs be singled out as the salient cause of alleged increased UV-B exposure? Even more damning, how can such an indictment claim scientific support, when there doesn't even exist an experimental procedure for calibrating cause-and-effect relationships between UV-B intensity and atmospheric CFCs? If it existed at all, such a procedure would of course need to account for UV-B in relation to both natural ozone fluctuation and ozone annihilation due to airplane pollution. On these points science prefers not to even hazard ballpark estimates.
But this seems not to concern our self-appointed know-it-alls. Despite empirical data which practically shouts at the nincompoopery of the quacks, the case against CFCs has not abated. In fact, legislation has already passed (1995) which effectively outlaws CFC production in this country as of January 1, 1996. The science behind this costly and rapacious law is every bit as asinine as the attack upon CO2 in the global warming fantasy. As exemplified by these two cases, the state of ecology science in America is nothing less than disgraceful.
Until another Dr. Gulliver shows up with a trunkful of handkerchiefs, the public seems likely to be forever at the mercy of the doomsayers. To protect its crumbling reputation, the genuine science community ought meanwhile get busy discovering what it is that can turn ordinary scientists into teams of noisy jackasses. Maybe it's some kind of genetic mutation.
The technical analysis is that CO2 re-emits radiation, which heats the earth's surface. But water vapor does the same much more so than CO2, and there are hundreds of times as many water vapor molecules in the air as CO2 molecules. The slightest change in water vapor should swamp any CO2 effect.
The amount of moisture in the air is largely determined by ocean temperatures, but no one knows why ocean temperatures change. My analysis leads me to think that hot spots rotate in the earth's core causing ocean temperatures to change, and ice ages result from this effect.
Even though most scientists do not agree that so-called greenhouse gases create global warming, journalists get their stories from the minority and claim there is no question about it. One reason is because the minority opinions come from the government and UN; and the journalists have the same motive, which is to promote population control.
The promotion of propaganda on greenhouse gases is an attempt to justify population control without scientific credibility. This is known because the propagandists link supposed global warming to population control.
Another point is that the logic of greenhouse gasses is self-contradictory. The propagandists look only at half of the problem, which is return of radiation back to earth. But the same effect also returns incoming radiation back into space. The second effect is more significant, which results in cooling rather than heating of the atmosphere.
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