The one point that can get people off the global warming obsession train
The dose makes the poison. ... All things are poison and nothing is without poison; the dosage alone is the thing that makes it not a poison.
—Paracelsus, 1493–1541, credited with being the father of toxicology
Climate alarmists play the "hide the magnitude" game. If they didn't, they would soon be out of business.
Politely ask a few of your friends how much of the air they're breathing is CO2. I've done that, and the typical answer, when I can get one, is twenty percent or more. (Most people have no idea and would rather not guess.)
Climate alarmists rarely talk about the actual quantitative composition of our atmosphere. The impression they give is that (1) a substantial part of the air that surrounds us comprises carbon dioxide; (2) that the proportion of carbon dioxide is increasing rapidly; (3) that the increase is primarily the result of human activity, mostly from burning fossil fuels; and (4) that if CO2 continues to increase, it's game over for humanity. Recently, the rhetoric has escalated from "climate crisis" to "climate emergency."
The actual magnitude tells a very different story. Carbon dioxide constitutes four one-hundredths of one percent of the air we breathe (or 400 parts per million). That is an extremely tiny fraction of the atmosphere.
What constitutes the rest of the air around us? Seventy-eight percent of the air we breathe is nitrogen, 21 percent is oxygen, 0.9 percent is argon, and 0.1 percent is other gases. The other gases include methane (0.00017 percent); nitrous oxide (0.00003 percent); and water vapor, which varies from 0 to 4 percent.
How can such a small magnitude of CO2 be dooming humanity? Furthermore, how can climate change alarmists be absolutely, positively certain that if CO2 continues to increase, it will be lights out for life on Earth?
During the Cambrian period 500 million years ago, CO2 constituted over 5,000 parts per million of the Earth's atmosphere. Then, 150 million years ago, during the Cretaceous period, CO2 was 1,700 parts per million, more than four times what it is now. Life thrived during those periods. How can 400 parts per million be a threat to our existence?
Before humans started burning fossil fuels about 200 years ago, CO2 made up 250 parts per million of our atmosphere. It has been growing at about one part per million per year for the past 150 years. In other words, a very small magnitude is growing at a very slow rate. Is there any reason that rate will accelerate when it hasn't in a century and a half?
If the tiny magnitude were more generally known, people would want explanations. It defies common sense that such a small magnitude could be responsible for certain catastrophic changes. The least we ought to be is skeptical.
The catastrophists have not been asked to explain because they have successfully suppressed widespread awareness of the magnitude of CO2 in the atmosphere. If more people were aware of the actual percentage, there would be far less global warming panic. More people would stop listening to the doomsayers.
Ron Ross, Ph.D. is a former professor of economics and author of The Unbeatable Market. He resides in Arcata, California and can be reached at email@example.com.
Image via Pxhere.