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Climate change is real and caused by humans

by Mike Whitney
| September 14, 2023 12:00 AM

Mr. Ed Berry’s editorial Aug. 22, 2023 argues that “Carbon-14 data show the percentage of human CO2 in the atmosphere is about zero.”

Human CO2 is the CO2 that is created by human activity. Carbon has three major isotopes. For simplicity, consider an isotope to be a member of the carbon family.

The three isotopes are: C-12 (98.9% of carbon), C-13 (1.06% of carbon), and C-14 makes up 1 part per trillion (PPT) of carbon. If you have a sample of one trillion molecules of CO2, there will only be one molecule of CO2 that contain the isotope C-14.

It should be obvious to Mr. Berry that when the earth’s atmosphere is analyzed, we are looking for the CO2 molecule not the C-14 atom. Nature tells us that Mr. Berry’s assertion is without merit!

One should question Mr. Berry’s purpose for presenting such misleading and invalid information.

Throughout Mr. Berry’s editorial he attempts to disprove that “human CO2 causes all the CO2 increase” in the atmosphere. Sampling the ice a mile deep in the Arctic, we discovered the concentration of CO2, starting during the Industrial Revolution (mid 1700s) and going back 800,000 years, varied between approximately 150 and 300 ppm (parts per million) in the atmosphere.

The concentration of CO2 in the ice cores was derived by analyzing the gas bubbles trapped in the ice. The reason the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere did not go over 300 ppm for 800,000 years was because the earth’s CO2 sinks (photosynthesis, ocean, soil, plants, etc.) and it’s atmosphere were in equilibrium with respect to generating CO2 and absorbing CO2 back into the earth.

To summarize: for 800,000 years the concentration of CO2 never exceeded 300 ppm in the atmosphere, but in the last 300 years (mid 1700s to today) the concentration of CO2 increased by 33% (300 – 418 ppm).

Per the Mauna Loa Observation in Hawaii, the average annual CO2 in 2022 was 418 ppm and rising. The only significant additions/changes to the earth from the mid 1700s to today, is human activity creating CO2 and the rapid increase in the human population.

The United Nations estimates the world population in the mid 1700s was 1 billion people. Today the population is 8 billion people. It took millions of years for the human population to reach 1 billion, but only 300 years to reach 8 billion, and the climate change disbelievers do not acknowledge this increase in world population has any impact on our climate. Really?

For the disbelievers of climate change to disregard the evolution of man the last 300 years, and ignore the addition of electricity, coal fired plants, internal combustion engines, airplanes, 7 billion people, plastics, petrochemicals, propane, disposable diapers, etc. to the earth, and still state that human CO2 is not contributing to climate change is, to be polite, absurd.

The universe has one indisputable law. There is always a cause and effect to everything in nature. Add a dramatic increase in the world’s population, not seen in recorded history, and a rise of CO2 gas not seen in at least 800,000 years (cause) and nature mandates a reply – global climate change (response).

Mr. Berry is attempting to use pseudoscience — the half-life of CO2 — to add credibility to his positions that there is no climate change by stating that the IPCC (International Panel on Climate Change) report includes the “half-life of CO2” in their analysis.

Did Mr. Berry even read the IPCC report before making such assertions? The half-life of a radioactive element refers to the physical process of the element losing half of it’s radioactive material by decaying to a stabler state over a specific time period.

CO2 cannot have a “half-life” because it is not radioactive. No place in the IPCC report is the “half-life of CO2” discussed. The IPCC report does calculate the “residence time” of CO2 in the atmosphere.

This “resident time” of CO2 is directly related to the absorption capability of the earth’s CO2 sinks which vary from year to year. All conclusions Mr. Berry presents using the pseudoscience “half-life of CO2” have no foundation and are wrong.

Mr. Berry’s credibility and motivation must be called into serious question because it is obvious that he did not read the IPCC report or he would not have alleged, “The bottom line is IPCC’s own data show nature, not human CO2 cause the CO2 increase.”

IPCC’s chapter “Summary for Policymakers” page 4 states, “Human activities, principally through emissions of greenhouse gases, have unequivocally caused global warming.”

IPCC’s chapter “Technical Summary” page 43 states, “This report assesses new scientific evidence (data) relevant for a world whose climate system is rapidly changing, overwhelmingly due to human influence.”

Enough said?

Mike Whitney lives in Bigfork.