so how come something so tiny can have any effect?
and whilst I’m at it I have a few more questions for those so called scientists such as…. how come it can be freezing in the desert at night yet 50c 12 hours later, surely if CO2 acted as a greenhouse gas it wouldn’t get so cold when the sun went to bed?
CO2 is a tiny component of the air, just look at the facts and everyone will agree it nearly nothing at all. 400 parts per million is about 0.04%= almost zilch, it is not even half a % but just half of tenths of one % and human generated CO2 doesn’t even make up half of the total atmospheric CO2 so that mean our contribution is half of tiny- half of zilch. It feels nonsense that something so tiny could cause the modern world to collapse and that is the problem with being human: many strongly believe in a loving imaginary supreme being looking over their lives and noting if they have been naughty or nice- like Santa. But belief does not make it so.
Here is another – I can’t believe that- fact from the know it all scientists: most of the universe is nothing and even most of the things in the universe are mainly nothing. There is more space in the universe than it appears so if you took all of humanity, all 7 billion of us and took away all that spare space between atoms that doesn’t seem to be doing much except giving electrons room to jiggle about, then all of humanity would condense down to a lump of mass the size of a sugar cube or is it the Albert Hall? I can’t remember I heard it on BBC Radio 4. Don’t quote me on the tiny detail but things are not what they always seem. Belief is the problem with humans because it can be true and most likely false which is why science was invented.
As for CO2 with its big influence and tiny presence there are a few more examples that are less controversial, that is science that most people don’t have a problem with.
We don’t have a problem with ozone – o3- that tiny layer of gas high up in the atmosphere that acts as Earth’s sun lotion and stops the almost non existent [it has no mass and is just invisible light] ultraviolet light that would otherwise burn our eyeballs out, fry our skin and mutate cells into monster cancer ones that would eventually battle against us until death. I can attest that no one would be mad enough to contradict the tiny but important contribution of O3. And O3- ozone- makes up only 2 to 8 parts per million in the ‘ozone layer’. Hardly a layer, in fact hardly anything at all making CO2 at nearly 400 ppm [2013 CO2 394ppm] sound a lot.
How about volcanoes? Volcanoes are not controversial at least in a climate science sense and sometimes they change the global weather, admittedly not for a long period of time but Mount Pinatuba in 1991 erupted and ejected gas and aerosols into the high atmosphere. The amounts of gas and aerosols was around 20 million tonnes which eventually was to transform into a sulphuric acid haze that lasted a month or so and as it travelled around the world it lowered temperatures by 0.5c – if the haze had not been washed out by rain then the effect would be permanent.
One volcano ejecting 20 million tonnes reduced global temperature for a month by 0.5c – so how many ppm of sulphuric acid is that? The whole weight of the earth’s atmosphere is about 5.5 quadrillion tons (55 followed by 14 zeros) and I was rubbish at maths and refuse to embarrass myself by getting it all wrong. But here is a guide, Croatia emits the same amount of CO2 each year into an atmosphere with 3,000 billion tonnes of CO2 in it. Tiny means very little when it comes to effect: a tiny mosquito can inject a tiny protist [not a bacteria but one up from it] that causes malaria and death, and tiny amounts of poison will kill. And that is the whole point of science in that it reveals the hidden and often tiny elements of our universe that we would otherwise not see. It required science to explain that [once] invisible bacteria caused disease and the tiny invisible force of gravity which is so weak even a child can defy it [for a short period when jumping] yet holds the universe together.
Next time someone points out that they just can’t believe CO2 can make much difference because its tiny you may point out the universe doesn’t give a damn but also point out that it contradicts the other denier meme that CO2 is such an important plant food without which their would be no life on Earth. Lets start being straight; these people are either idiots or lying.
The issue of deserts being an example of how rubbish CO2 is as a greenhouse gas is a little more complex but has more to do with educational fallacies – i.e. facts learnt when young which aren’t facts- than the reality.
The argument from the sceptics is that in the desert it can go from 50c to below zero within a 24 hour period therefore all the radiate heat of the day simply escapes into space at night and therefore CO2 is poor at reflecting heat back whereas water vapour is very good and water vapour is the main greenhouse gas. This is correct to a degree but just like people’s perceived ideas of why clouds float and why the sea is blue [water is actually blue in colour] the root of issue is not entirely correct.
Deserts mentioned in a generic sense are, in this case, the hot variety as opposed to just arid areas like the Antarctic. If you take a random desert: Mojave for instance, you can look up the temperature ranges. So with weather station data in the link you can see the averages high and low temperature for January is 6 C to 18 C, in spring it is around 15C to 20C and the summer temperature range is between 28C to 41C. These are averages and demonstrate that temperature has a range of around 13c but there are also extremes of maximum highs and lows but these will not have occurred on the same day or even same year. The high/low range for winter is -6C to 29C and for summer 14C to 52C so perhaps it is possible to misinterpret the extreme temperatures as being a kind of normal or average. What is clear is that in summer baking heat of 41C during the day will drop to the uncomfortable heat of 28C at night which in the UK would be a heat wave.
Perhaps sceptics are talking of another desert that proves CO2 is lousy greenhouse gas. Each desert is unique and the lack of water vapour occurs for a number of reasons, Atacama Desert in Peru ranges from see level to 10,000 feet and perhaps has the biggest range in temperature which can be between freezing and 25c but it is important to see in the context of a big desert with wide ranging geographical influences like mountains and oceans and height and that range cited is a ‘can’ and not an average. 25c is a big extreme for sure but not as big the extremes of our planet where the hottest place is Death Valley up around 50C in record years and the coldest in Antarctica is a chilling -80C. Weather ranges can be extreme in any one place in a given 24hour period- the UK record in Scotland is around minus 25c shooting up to just above freezing during the day which is nothing compared to a 24 hour period in 1916 in Montana USA when it fell 37c from 7c because of a weather system moving in.
Weather is a complex system so stating it goes from hot to freezing in the desert doesn’t really tell us anything, a 20c range in 24 hours may sound a lot but we think nothing of 10c difference in the UK between most days and nights. Without proper study and plenty of data my investigation into temperature differences in deserts are not particularly valid, yet even this minimal study demonstrates that the well known ‘fact’ that deserts are extreme where it is freezing at night and roasting during the day is just a fallacy. The answer to finding the real facts is science.