Co2: Dangerous Toxic Gas or Beneficial Natural Substance?

Co2: Dangerous Toxic Gas or Beneficial Natural Substance?

Lately, the beneficial natural substance Co2 (Carbon Dioxide) has been maligned by some politicians and the major media as a dangerous toxic gas. As if Co2 were somehow harmful to plants and animals, at anything near its current atmospheric concentrations. Certainly, most animals can die if exposed to too high a concentration for too long, but that can be said of good ol’ Oxygen and Nitrogen, as well. Therefore, the people trying to malign Co2 must be using some other scientifically unsound argument. Ah yes: Global Warming.

Co2 is a dangerous “greenhouse gas” which is primed to destroy the global habitat, if greedy humans do not stop heating and cooling their homes, transporting & delivering their foodstuffs and medicines in timely fashion and doing many more things of that nature. The activities which generate Co2, seem to be exactly the same activities which increase prosperity, lengthen and enrich lifespans, heal the sick, feed the hungry and expand the breadth & scope of human knowledge. It would seem that the people who want to “outlaw” Co2, also want to limit the prosperity and opportunities which come with abundant, affordable energy.

Furthermore, Co2 is by no means something foreign or detrimental to the natural world. It is neither a synthetic poison mixed up in a lab, nor a toxic gas waiting to paralyze its victims at the slightest whiff. Co2, chemically speaking, is one Carbon atom bonded to two Oxygen atoms. Also, despite being the textbook definition of a “trace element” insofar as parts per million (PPM) is concerned, it is the fourth most abundant gas in our atmosphere; a ranking it has enjoyed for several hundred millennia.

In the human body, an atom of Carbon is attached to an O2 atom via osmosis in the lungs, as a way to eliminate a waste product. Humans exhale Co2 by the bucket, as do all animals on the planet which breathe air. After which, in a beautifully balanced dance of chemical interactions, trees and other plants take in the Co2 molecule then steal the carbon atom to use in their growth, liberating the Oxygen for some needy animal to inhale. Interestingly, as Co2 concentrations rise, plants get greener, more robust and better able to exchange it for O2.

Co2: Dangerous Toxic Gas or Beneficial Natural Substance? Normal concentrations of Co2 outdoors can range anywhere from 250 to 350 ppm. Expressed as a percentage, that means Co2 averages 0.00035 percent of the atmosphere, on the high end. Indoors, if there are people exhaling, Co2 concentrations can become much higher; up to 1000 and 2000 ppm, depending on available air exchange and ventilation. Co2 levels are not considered immediately harmful, until they reach over 40,000 ppm. Nevertheless, politicians and certain media types want to label a beneficial natural substance as a dangerous toxic gas, because they insist it is a key element in global warming.

Co2 does in fact serve as a necessary – and benign – agent for temperature mediation and regulation. However, Co2’s primary role in the upper atmosphere is to reflect heat energy away from the earth, not let it pass then hold it all in. A recent NASA study confirmed that virtually every quantum of heat generating radiation put out by sun, is stopped from entering the lower atmosphere, by beneficial CO2. The real culprit in the Greenhouse Gas equation is another equally harmless substance: Water vapor.

Water vapor plays a critical role in the moderation of the earth’s climate. If there were no water vapor in our atmosphere, the earth’s temperatures would be like those of the moon. If the atmosphere was just nitrogen and oxygen, it would become blisteringly hot at the equator during the day, then almost freezing at night. The poles would remain brutally frigid all year round, regardless of the earth’s axial tilt. Without water vapor holding and radiating the sun’s warmth at night, temperatures would descend to freezing, nightly; those swings between night and day would be so exaggerated, that complex organisms – anything beyond microbes – would never survive.

Water absorbs infrared (IR) radiation better than any other atmospheric element, while remaining virtually transparent to the visible wavelengths. Almost all of the carbon dioxide absorption amounts to practically zero. The IR absorption rate of carbon dioxide on solar irradiance is absolutely immaterial, because water vapor absorption is virtually 100 percent — with no contribution from Co2 worth measuring. To reiterate: Co2 is infinitely less of a “greenhouse gas” than water vapor, and no one is suggestion we cut back on water.

There are also some practical matters to be addressed, as to the levels of Co2 humanity creates, by virtue of the energy obtained in its production. Centuries ago, heat was produced exclusively by burning wood, one of the dirtiest fuels possible. Natural gas, oil, coal and the refined hydrocarbons which make up our modern fuel sources, produce far greater BTUs at far lower Co2 emissions.

The most terrible shortage humans face is not hydrocarbons, it is arable land and fresh water. The more acreage used to produce energy, the less land available for species habitat, watersheds, agriculture, housing, recreation, forestation and all of the natural wilderness people seem to cherish.

Co2: Dangerous Toxic Gas or Beneficial Natural Substance?
The less oil America imports from overseas, the fewer tanker spills the oceans will need to deal with.

The answer to the global warming problem, seems to lay in junk science and politically motivated hair-brained schemes: Ethanol, for instance, designates cropland for the production of an inefficient fuel, which is manufactured inefficiently. Add to that, the unintended consequence of making food more scarce and expensive for the poor. If all of America’s transportation fuel was biofuel, it would require 30 percent more acreage than all of the current farmland in the nation, and nothing edible could be produced.

In Brazil and Malaysia, really cheap labor makes producing biofuels more economically viable. Unfortunately, at the cost of clear-cutting rainforest. All while failing to reduce Co2 emissions, which was how ethanol was sold to people, in the first place. Clear-cutting a rainforest to produce biofuels, releases 17 to 420 times more Co2 than it purportedly saves by replacing coal or oil.

As for wind and solar, they are several decades away from meeting anything like the energy efficiency and output of current hydrocarbon technologies. Neither one can reduce our dependence on hydrocarbons, anyway. Oil is used for transportation, not for electricity; there are currently no wind powered jumbo airliners on anyone’s drawing boards. Moreover, to meet the electrical energy generation necessary to power America, wind farms would require the square mile area of Kazakhstan, while solar panels would need to take up the same land mass as Spain.

In summation: Co2 is a necessary, beneficial, natural substance, and the people trying to tell everyone it is a dangerous, toxic gas would do better to attempt to ban water.

Editorial by Ben Gaul

Sources:

Plants.org     Wisconsin DHS      Natural News     JunkScience    Tucson Citizen

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7 Responses to "Co2: Dangerous Toxic Gas or Beneficial Natural Substance?"

  1. Jon Mason   January 27, 2014 at 8:20 am

    I personally believe that our preoccupation with global warming allows us to ignore other environmental concerns. Should you believe that global warming is man made, then you have certain duties.

    1. You must actively donate to political organizations that seek to stop global warming.
    2. You must educate your friends and relatives about the issue.
    3. You must stay away from gimmicky programs such as purchasing green house gas offsets.
    4. You should read all of the research for and against global warming. This will allow you to achieve the goal in (2.)
    5. You must cut down your use of fossil fuels. Here are some easy ways to start:
    (a) Never run an air conditioner even if you live in Phoenix.
    (b) Do not drive your car unless you are making an absolutely necessary trip of 3 miles or more.
    (c) Ride your bicycle during all four seasons.
    (d) Never heat your house above 60 degrees.
    (e) Eliminate all vacations that require travel.
    (f) Lower your consumption of all goods and services to approximately $8,000 per person in your family.
    (g) Adopt your children. Do not have children the old fashioned way.

    If carbon dioxide is a problem that could kill us all off, then we need to act like it is a serious problem. Lots of people say they are concerned about global warming. Yet, nobody seems to make any sacrifices to stop it.

    Reply
  2. Ben Gaul   January 26, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    Al, you’re grasp of the popular myths seems quite firm. And you’re well written, too.

    Please, in order to shut me up, can you produce that exhaustive list of “climate” scientists from around the world, including the paltry two percent who seem to have not kept up in class? Based on the numbers of “climate” scientists willing to admit Climate Change is most likely a natural and completely cyclical phenomenon, I’m guessing that 98 percent figure must measure in the multiples of tens of millions.

    You should have no problem finding that list of names and position papers, since you so clearly know the figure without any hesitation or hedging, and all.

    I only ask, because popular wisdom holds that seven of nine stated statistics are made-up on the spot. Four out of five teenaged girls completely agree with me on that. Oh, and I can produce reams of peer-reviewed, scientifically testable and repeatable data, which refutes virtually every boogieman in the AGW closet. Written by scores of fully accredited scientists in the relevant fields of study, who would scoff at the very notion of being called “deniers.”

    Or, is it safer to say that the proof of your 98 percent figure, is hidden somewhere along side the indisputable proof that these past 16 years of complete LACK of warming means nothing, when compared to the highly manipulated, never-to-be-questioned computer models, which never predicted anything like record cold and mild summers would occur.

    Reply
  3. Al Fisher   January 26, 2014 at 1:26 pm

    This is laughable. No one is saying CO2 is a dangerous, toxic gas. Well, maybe people on Fox TV are saying others are saying that, like Mr. Paul, here. And increasing amounts of CO2 gas in the atmosphere (which no one disputes) is not directly harmful to animals and is beneficial to plants, they breathe in CO2 and expel water and oxygen. And the science behind global warming is not junk science, it is real and legitimate science agreed to by over 98% of climatologists. Boy, if this is a sample of what I will find on this site under Political Right it can’t be very serious.

    Reply
    • Down to Earth   January 26, 2014 at 10:12 pm

      The STATS study polled nearly 500 randomly selected members of the American Meteorological Society and the American Geophysical Union listed in American Men and Women of Science, the longtime “Who’s Who” directory of the scientific community. This provided the best glimpse into the views of prominent American scientists with expertise relevant to climate change. We asked them not only whether they thought global warming was occurring, but how severe the effects might be, and how certain they were about making such judgments.
      As with all polls, the answers you get depend on the questions you ask. Almost all climate scientists believe that the world has been warming: 97% agree that “global average temperatures have increased” during the past century. But not everyone attributes that rise to human activity. A slight majority (52%) believe this warming was human-induced, 30% see it as the result of natural temperature fluctuations and the rest are unsure.
      This is hardly surprising, in light of the relatively recent origins of this debate. Speculation about global cooling wasn’t decisively rejected until the 1980’s, and widespread scientific concern over global warming didn’t happen until the 1990s. Little wonder that only 5% of the scientists surveyed describe the study of climate change as a fully mature science–51% call it fairly mature and 39% still see it as an emerging science.

      Reply
      • Ben Gaul   January 26, 2014 at 10:24 pm

        A ‘Consensus of Scientists’ Works Both Ways

        An analysis of scholarly literature, found in such august journals as the Geophysical Review Letters, Science and Nature, shows that more than 500 scientists have published articles contradictory to the current Anthropogenic (man made) Global Warming theories. Most of the articles produced evidence that a 1,500-year cycle is responsible for more than a dozen “warmings” linking back to the last Ice Age. Which Man can have had no impact on, whatsoever. It is much more reasonable to come to the conclusion that our modern warming is also linked primarily to fluctuations in solar irradiance, just as past warmings always have been.

        “This data and the list of scientists make a mockery of recent claims that a ‘scientific consensus’ blames humans as the primary cause of global temperature increases since 1850,” said Hudson Institute Senior Fellow, Dennis Avery. “Not all of these researchers would describe themselves as global warming skeptics,” said Avery, “but the evidence in their studies is there for all to see.”

        Reply
        • Down to Earth   January 26, 2014 at 11:25 pm

          Ben, you posted too quick. LOL. I was going to follow-up with this: The above study was conducted by Forbes magazine after a article written by James Taylor – 05/30/2013 – “Global Warming Alarmists Caught Doctoring ’97-Percent Consensus Claims” , exposed what investigative reporters found wrong with Cook et al.(2013). Basically explains how John Cook, co-editor of Skeptical Science (a alarmist website) manipulated data to favor his POV. The Forbes article is still available online.
          Sorry, I posted first article before citing source, thought I’d fix it.

          Reply
  4. stefanthedenier   January 25, 2014 at 8:52 pm

    It’s ironic: people exhale CO2 from their lungs, using that CO2 for the vocal cords, to badmouth CO2…

    Reply

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