Reddit Debate about Brief SOS

A Reddit post linking to the Brief Summary of Science for the Climate Debate received an intelligent reply.  I thank its author.  The following is a complete rebuttal of this reply.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a plant food.

Intentionally misleading. Water is human drink, but people still die in floods.

You drown when concentration of water around you is 100%.  Atmospheric concentration of CO2 is less than 0.05%.  Everything becomes harmful when there is too much of it, but the current and foreseeable concentrations of CO2 are beneficial, not harmful.

For most of Earth’s evolutionary history, the CO2 concentrations were much higher than they are today or that they can reach in the foreseeable future. For example, the CO2 concentration in the Jurassic period was 3-6 times higher than it is today. The so-called “pre-industrial atmosphere” was anomalously impoverished in CO2.


Truth.  Read about the Jurassic period.

CO2 plays a very minor role, except during ice ages. Further, it has a very narrow absorption/emission spectrum, and it is almost saturated even at low CO2 The amount of infrared radiation, temporarily absorbed by CO2 molecules in the atmosphere, grows nearly logarithmically (i.e., very slowly) with increases in CO2 concentrations.

Probably a lie. Funny, I can’t find a single reference to this “fact” outside of climate deniers’ blogs.

Don’t rely on ‘probably.’  All the information is available in physics textbooks. Also, see absorption charts and graphs on the web.

Either way, the relative magnitude of the change doesn’t matter. If you have two opposing forces, one at +1000 and the other varies between +1020 and +980, they balance. If you increase the first to +1100, they are now significantly out of balance, even if the extra +100 isn’t all that big, relatively speaking.

There is always change in nature.  The relative magnitude matters.  A life example: if a little child pushes you, you might not notice that. If a 400 lb athlete pushes you, you fly.

Thus, the anthropogenic increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration has an extremely small warming effect, which is negligible compared with natural temperature fluctuations in any region.

Intentionally misleading. Yes, of course the difference between winter and summer is bigger than the effect of climate change. If it wasn’t, we’d be lit on fire when we walked outside.

Differences between day and night, between consecutive days, and between mean temperatures in the same seasons in consecutive years are much bigger than climatic warming.  The anthropogenic warming is smaller than the natural temperature fluctuations, and thus does not matter.

But when every winter is a bit warmer, glaciers recede and sea level rises.

Glaciers have been receding and sea level rising for thousands years without any anthropogenic influence.  Influence of the anthropogenic warming on these processes is so small that it is not even measurable.

When every summer is a bit warmer, droughts become more common, and crops fail.

We feel thirstier when it is warmer, but droughts do not become more frequent or severe with regional or global warming.  It is a myth (or fallacy), exploited by climate alarmists. Meteorology explains that it is other way around – local droughts cause local warming.  Further, warmer air can contain more water vapors, and droughts tend to be associated with lower temperatures, although this topic is much more complex. 

Even larger mean warming would be beneficial for human societies and the biosphere, especially as a buffer against natural temperature drops.

Lie. A big change either way will shift weather patterns in ways that hurt regional food production in some regions, leading to political instability.

… will shift weather patterns in ways that hurt regional food” is a typical alarmist word play.  A string of words that produce a vague, unverifiable, and ominous message.

There is no significant change in temperatures, but big increase in the agricultural productivity thanks to CO2 fertilization.

CO2 plays no role in heat retention in a greenhouse.

Strawman. Greenhouses have nothing to do with the “greenhouse effect”, but that has nothing to do with whether or not it exists.

Many modern people do not know that greenhouses have nothing to do with the “greenhouse effect,” but climate alarmists use this lack of knowledge to associate the greenhouse effect with CO2 in the minds of people.

The sea level has been rising since the last glacial episode, which ended about 20,000 years ago. In the last few thousands of years, the sea level has been rising at the rate of 0.2-1.0 inch per decade,

Strawman. Yes, of course ice ages have a bigger effect than anthropogenic climate change. That doesn’t mean that we’re not having an effect on top of that.

We are having a negligible effect on the sea level rise, and do not know even the sign of this effect.  For all practical purposes, we have no effect on the sea level rise.

and no acceleration has been detected in the last several decades.

Lie. Does this look like “no acceleration”?

The linked graph shows a constant rate of the sea rise.  It shows no acceleration.

There are different opinions on whether discernible global warming would accelerate or decelerate sea level rises.

Bullshit. There are different opinions on whether or not unicorns exist. Don’t try to hide your lies behind “some say that…” or “there are different opinions”.

There are multiple physical effects through which significant global warming might affect sea level rise.  One of the effects is that more water, evaporating from the oceans, would condense, freeze, and accumulate in Antarctica.  This effect causes deceleration of the sea level rise.  Recently detected increase in the Antarctic ice sheet indicates significance of this effect.

The oceans are alkaline, which is the opposite of acidic. The freshwater in most locations is slightly acidic.

Intentionally misleading. The amount of H+ in the oceans has increased by 30% in the industrial age,

Even assuming that the Wikipedia article is correct, that constitutes pH change from 8.25 to 8.14, still far from the neutral pH=7. In other words, the ocean water is still alkaline, and is not becoming acidic.  For other opinions and estimates of the natural variability, see NIPCC, Climate Change Reconsidered II – Biological Impacts, p.6.3.

and it is literally dissolving some animals.

Your second reference refers to a lab experiment, not animals in their natural environment: “In a lab experiment, a sea butterfly (pteropod) shell placed in seawater with increased acidity slowly dissolves over 45 days.”  Climate alarmists are notorious for presenting selected experiments as what happens in nature, and presenting output of model runs as experiments.

Humans exhale CO2 with each breath.

Non-sequitor. We piss water with every wee, but that doesn’t mean that floods don’t exist.

Nobody calls water a pollutant.  Nobody attempts to regulate anthropogenic emissions of water. Climate alarmists call CO2 a pollutant, and attempt to regulate it.

Attributing hurricanes, droughts, and extreme weather events to anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions, or to any known global anthropogenic activity, has no scientific basis.

Intentionally misleading. But saying that they become more likely does. You can’t figure out which cigarette caused lung cancer either.

This argument just confirms the original statement.  Attributing weather events to anthropogenic CO2 emissions includes saying that they “become more likely”.

Cigarette smoking causes lung cancer.  This is a true statement.  Nobody asks or attempts to find out which cigarette caused it, but it is easy to show persons who got lung cancer from smoking.  “Anthropogenic CO2 emissions cause (or make more likely) hurricanes” is a false statement.  But nobody asks climate alarmists to figure out which power plant caused a hurricane.

It has antecedents in the medieval witch hunts that included accusations of “weather cooking.”

Non-sequitor. Completely unrelated.

It is related to the ideology and politics of climate alarmism.