My Case for Acting on Curbing CO2 Emissions – Immediately (My Case: Part 1 of 3)

This is a historical post. As previously explained, these Climate Change articles are older and were written as I was just barely starting to accept Deutsch’s four strands. This particular one is more problematic than some of the others because I take the stance that AGW is specifically about who are you going to trust? I.e. the who should rule fallacy. However, today I believe the underlying concept I am getting at could be easily translated to criticism and refutation. In essence finding out that there were facts agreed upon by both sides allowed me to start concentrating on the problems that were not currently refuted.

In my previous posts I explained my own frustrations of trying to make sense of the global warming debate and my anger over dishonesty on both sides. I further expressed some additional one-sided anger at the global warming deniers for using arguments that had nothing to do with the actual debate, such as the false dichotomy of water vapor vs. CO2 or simultaneously claiming that global warming is real, but caused by the sun and then immediately also claiming that the last decade of cooling proves there is no global warming.  

I ended with finally finding global warming skeptic Stephen McIntyre’s website. I mentioned that I found something there that got around all the problems of trying to make sense of it and also convinced me that the time to act had already arrived.

 Very simply, I found out that McIntyre claims CO2 levels are growing and are man made. Apparently this fact is generally considered non-controversial because even the Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) Skeptics, such as McIntyre, agree CO2 growth is man made.

 Now I found this on McIntyre’s old site, but you can still find this on his current site, such as in this article and also this one.

 Here is a sample:

That the increase of CO2, at least in the past 50 years, is mainly man-made already follows out of the mass balance
More evidence for man-made increase is in the following:

  • CO2 levels in the upper oceans follow the air measurements
  • pH levels in the upper oceans are decreasing
  • d13C ratios are declining in the atmosphere and with some delay in the upper oceans

This is a good indication that the (deep) oceans are not the source of the extra CO2, as the (deep) oceans have a higher d13C ratio than the atmosphere.

  • oxygen levels are declining in near ratio with fossil fuel use.
  • As there is a small deficiency in oxygen use, that indicates that vegetation is not a net source of CO2, but a net sink (about 2 GtC/yr), as oxygen is produced by CO2 uptake.

This graph proves it all! Too bad I have no idea what it means.

 And this is coming from the greatest hero of global warming skeptics! [1] Stephen McIntyre may be a global warming skeptic, but he is not an Anthropogenic CO2 Level skeptic.

Now, to be sure, there are some skeptics over even this claim, such as this article. But go read this article and think about it for a moment. There is next to no one arguing against the idea that CO2 levels are growing and that the growth is man made. This skeptic article really just claims that it is growing and its man made, but the earth will eventually absorb it. But that doesn’t make me any more comfortable. How will it absorb it? Will it absorb it forever? Will there be some sort of nasty side effect?

That’s Your Evidence!?

At this point, I pause to allow the gales of laughter to pass. “That’s it! That’s your whole argument? You support immediate action to curb CO2 emissions because one guy says Anthropogenic CO2-Levels is true? What type of lame evidence is that?”

Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying. I’m saying I made my decision based on exactly one piece of evidence: that AGW Denier darling, Stephen McIntyre, says CO2 level is growing and man made.

How could there be a better piece of evidence to a layman like myself? Even in principle? Please describe for me what better evidence would look like? Because honestly I can’t think of a better possible piece of layman evidence.

It Was This Or Admit I was Not a Skeptic, Just a Denier

Being a conservative and an AGW skeptic, I was unconvinced by the existence of a wide scientific consensus, just like many of you aren’t convinced by it. I basically ignored it as evidence.

But what exactly would I accept as evidence then?

Was I waiting for a 100% consensus? Not going to happen. Was I basing my skepticism on a minority view? If so, why? Clearly if I didn’t buy a wide scientific consensus, then I shouldn’t by a minority scientific view either, should I? It would be mighty lame of me to go around claiming AGW isn’t a problem because ‘some scientists say it’s not a problem.’ The obvious counter argument to this would be that ‘most scientists say it is a problem.’

Did AGW Skeptics had better arguments? The truth was that I didn’t understand the scientific arguments of either side because I lacked the scientific and mathematical background required. And I also had to admit to myself that the AGW non-scientific arguments that I could understand were basically meaningless. At most they showed some doubt, not a counter proof. They weren’t enough.

The sad truth was that I didn’t get to make this decision based on direct evidence. So I had to admit to myself that if I was going to reject Stephen McIntyre’s word for it about Anthropogenic CO2 Levels, there was no evidence possible even in principle that would convince me to act.

I either had to accept that CO2 levels were growing and were man made based on his testimony, or I had to admit to myself that there was no possible way to convince me and that my view was effectively non-falsifiable. My choice was suprisingly simple: accept McIntyre’s testimony or choose to be some guy with his head in the sand — an Anthropogenic CO2 Level Denier in the worst possible sense of that term.

Manufactured Consensus on Anthropogenic CO2 Levels?

These thoughts haunted me for a while. But it kept coming back to this: who is holding a gun to McIntyre’s head over the Anthropogenic CO2 levels?

There was no possible way I could claim McIntyre was part of some manufactured consensus. His admitting to the consensus view on this point was genuine and there was no way around that fact. I had discovered as good as evidence as was humanly possible for a layman like myself that Anthropogenic CO Levels was real.

Anthropogenic CO2 Levels vs. Anthropogenic Global Warming

Now to be sure, Stephen McIntyre is very skeptical that Anthropogenic CO2 Levels causes Anthropogenic Global Warming. So while I can understand skepticism over the scientific consensus over global warming, I can’t understand why anyone wouldn’t be worried, at least a little bit, about these facts:

  1. That we’re putting unsustainable levels of CO2 in the atmosphere already – even the elite of the AGW Skeptics admits this
  2. That we plan to do more as China and India modernize, and
  3. That we currently have no way of slowing it down to sustainable (i.e. non-growing) levels.

That made me realize the truth:

The Global Warming Issue and the CO2 emissions issue are two separate but related issues.

Who cares if Anthropogenic CO2-Levels causes AGW or not? Maybe it does and maybe it doesn’t. It’s more than a little obvious by now that we don’t know and our science isn’t up to the task.

Let me say that again, because it was important: our science is not up to the task of proving if global warming is man made or not.

I originally went on to explain this last statement further, but I’ve decided to put off further explanation until my next post because of lack of space here. In future posts, I will also address the obvious question of whether or not it’s acceptable to allow CO2 Levels to Anthropogenically grow if we have no proof of a pending problem.

Notes

[1]  “And this is coming from the greatest hero of global warming skeptics!” My memory is that what I found was a quote from McIntyre saying something like “I agree CO2 levels are a problem, I just don’t believe they are causing global warming. So let’s shift the debate to be about acting on the CO2 Level problem.” Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the quote, even on the way back machine, so I’m either remembering it wrong or it’s tucked away somewhere not easy to find.

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