The Naked Scientists

The Naked Scientists Forum

Author Topic: Atmospheric Gasses  (Read 3928 times)

Offline PhirePhly

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 21
    • View Profile
Atmospheric Gasses
« on: 15/04/2005 02:11:10 »
Okay, it's "global warming" question, but given the nature of the question, I didn't want to appear to be trolling.

When one says "greenhouse gasses" the popular villian is carbon dioxide, but there are at least two other, far more potent greenhouse gasses that I'm aware of (and I'm not a specialist).

Methane is a more potent greenhouse gas than CO2 by an order of magnitude.

Water vapor is a more potent greenhouse gas than CO2 by two orders of magnitude.

Why the fuss over CO2? Fiddling with CO2 levels seems to me to be likely to be as effective in controlling global warming as fiddling with the idle jet is with regulating a car's speed on the interstate.

Other than the fact that it provides a focus for the greens to use to attack industrialized nations (no one is going after Brazil for the cattle industry and its methane production that is doing far more damage to the atmosphere than our CO2 production is), what purpose is there in demonizing CO2?

When the planet warms, more water evaporates.  More water in the atmosphere means more clouds.  More clouds means more sunlight reflected away from the Earth.  It's homeostatic and given that this is, by and large, a water planet, futzing around with the CO2 levels is just dumb.  

Aside from money, recognition and power for the environmentalist lobby, what is to be gained by restricting CO2 emission levels?



Thanks,
 
L. Lisov


 

Offline rosy

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1018
  • Chemistry
    • View Profile
Re: Atmospheric Gasses
« Reply #1 on: 15/04/2005 19:22:11 »
Hmm.. you may be right about CO2/methane, but *I think* your argument about water has holes right through it. As I understand it, clouds increase rather than decrease the effect of global warming as higher energy (UV, some visible) radiation can come through the clouds but when it's been absorbed and re-emitted at the earth's surface it's at lower energy and the clouds bounce it back in.
Infact, my understanding is that as global warming progresses, be it entirely, partially, or not at all man made, clouds will form, the polar icecaps will melt (which really *do* help reflect radiation unchanged back into space) and reserves of methane at sea-bed level will be released. The worst case scenario on that one being runaway global increases in temperature making all or large parts of the earth uninhabitable.
Whether the calculations are accurate or not it seems to me that the possible results are sufficiently scarey to be worth acting now, because when/if it happens it really will/would be too late, if it isn't already.

According to this website:
http://www.whfreeman.com/GLOBALWARMING/WARMING.HTM
CO2 contributes about the same to global warming as a combination of methane and CFCs. We've stopped (mostly) emitting CFCs because they're bad in other ways, but I'd agree we should look hard at methane *as well* as CO2
If this website is to be believed, to decrease methane levels we should cut production of beef (fair enough, maybe we *should* be going after Brazil and its cattle industry... in my ignorance I'll have to assume you're right that we're not) and of rice (could be more difficult in terms of people-not-starving).


*Caveat* I'm an undergraduate chemist, I have only "general knowledge" type info on global warming.
 

Offline PhirePhly

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 21
    • View Profile
Re: Atmospheric Gasses
« Reply #2 on: 19/04/2005 04:35:12 »
I take what I find on the web, and even from journals, regarding global warming with an entire pillar of salt.  I'm just old enough to remember the same general sorts of "experts" in my childhood screaming to the rafters about how we were turning our pristine Earth into an iceball with human-caused "global cooling".  When it became painfully obvious to even the dimmest bulb among us that the world was not freezing over, the issue of human interferance with the Earth's climate died down for a decade or so and then showed up again as the "global warming" threat.

Given that most of the data used was recorded over centuries and comes from the same tree rings and frog mating patterns and tea leaves, it should be apparent to any thinking creature that the "big lie" is keeping an entire sub-industry afloat - the professional "chicken littles" if you will.  "Scratch a liar, find a thief" - Ray Charles attributed that to his mother (at least in the movie) and I need look no further than the political and economic power wielded by the Green lobby to understand *why* this happened.

The Earth has been both significantly warmer and significantly cooler than it is now.  It has been a nearly complete water planet and a near ice-ball over its history, and for most of that time, and for most of those changes, mammals, let alone mankind weren't even around to blame.

I still hear panic about flooding because arctic ice is melting at record rates.  I just shake my head and ask the panic-ee, when's the last time your lemonade overflowed because the ice cubes melted.

Archemedes lived in vain.

Thanks,
 
L. Lisov
« Last Edit: 19/04/2005 04:36:31 by PhirePhly »
 

The Naked Scientists Forum

Re: Atmospheric Gasses
« Reply #2 on: 19/04/2005 04:35:12 »

 

SMF 2.0.10 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines
SMFAds for Free Forums
 
Login
Login with username, password and session length