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Greenhouse reality: CO2 rise preceded temperature rise in last deglaciation

by: Dr Gideon Polya
Thursday April 5, 2012 - 03:46

Mainstream media censor, self-censor and lie by commission and omission about all kinds of serious matters, this mal-reportage ranging from the non-reportage of horrendous deaths in the US Alliance War on Terror (aka the US War on Muslims involving 9 million war-related Muslim deaths since 2001; see “Muslim Holocaust, Muslim Genocide”: https://sites.google.com/site/musli... ) to obfuscation of the worsening climate emergency and climate genocide (10 billion people may die this century; see “Climate Genocide”: https://sites.google.com/site/clima... ). The Murdoch media have been so outrageous in both respects as to demand a consumer backlash (see “Boycott Murdoch Media”: https://sites.google.com/site/boyco... ).

However mal-reportage and censorship by other Mainstream media must also be exposed because lack of correct reportage short circuits rational risk management that is crucial for societal safety (e.g. see “ABC Censorship”: https://sites.google.com/site/abcce... ; “Censorship by The Age”: https://sites.google.com/site/mains... ; and “Censorship by The Conversation”: https://sites.google.com/site/mains... ). Fossil fuel corporations have successfully obfuscated the reality of man-made global warming through fossil fuel burning that has catastrophically deadly implications for the Planet. However an important scientific paper published recently in the top scientific journal Nature has dealt a huge blow against such dangerous climate change denialism.

Physicist and physical chemist John Tyndall discovered the greenhouse effect in about 1860 i.e. the absorption of radiant energy by gases such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4) and water (H2O) and the effect of this on atmospheric temperature. In the1890s Swedish physical chemist Svante Arrhenius (famous for the Arrhenius Equation on the temperature dependence of reaction rates) pointed out that increasing CO2 in the atmosphere could increase surface temperature by this greenhouse effect. An overwhelming scientific consensus is warning that increasing atmospheric greenhouse gases (notably CO2, CH4 and nitrous oxide, N2O) is responsible for the warming of the planet (average surface temperature today is about 0.8 degrees C higher than in 1900) (for a succinct summary see “2011 Climate Change Course”: https://sites.google.com/site/300or... ) .

In a classic example of money trumping inconvenient truth, the fossil fuel industry and associated climate change skeptics (climate change denialists) have obfuscated this expert message by arguing that elevated atmospheric CO2 is a consequence and not a cause of global warming. This argument has now been debunked by a team of scientists who have shown that elevation in atmospheric CO2 concentration preceded global warming at the end of the last ice age.

This is a summary by the editor of the prestigious scientific journal Nature of a very important scientific paper by Shakun et al. entitled “Global warming preceded by increasing carbon dioxide concentrations during the last deglaciation” (Nature, volume 484, pages 49-54, April 2012: http://www.nature.com/nature/journa... ): “It is known from Antarctic ice-core records that there is a relationship between atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and temperature during the Pleistocene ice ages. But the phasing between the two has been unclear, leading to controversy about whether greenhouse gases were primary drivers of the ice ages, a feedback from warming or even a consequence rather than a cause of past climate change. Shakun et al. have assembled a global ’stack’ of proxy temperature records for the most recent deglaciation, and find that during this period, global warming was preceded by CO2 increases. These observations, together with transient global climate model simulations, suggest that CO2 was a primary driver of global warming during the most recent deglaciation.”

Lead author Dr Jeremy Shakun has summarized this as follows to the UK BBC: "At the end of the last ice age, CO2 rose from about 180 parts per million (ppm) in the atmosphere to about 260; and today we’re at 392. So, in the last 100 years we’ve gone up about 100 ppm - about the same as at the end of the last ice age, which I think puts it into perspective because it’s not a small amount. Rising CO2 at the end of the ice age had a huge effect on global climate. Our global temperature looks a lot like the pattern of rising CO2 at the end of the ice age, but the interesting part in particular is that unlike with these Antarctic ice core records, the temperature lags a bit behind the CO2. You put these two points together - the correlation of global temperature and CO2, and the fact that temperature lags behind the CO2 - and it really leaves you thinking that CO2 was the big driver of global warming at the end of the ice age” (see Jonathan Amos, “CO2 “drove end to last ice age””, BBC News, 4 April 2012: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-e... ).

This finding underscores the need for urgent global action to tackle man-made climate change that threatens the Biosphere with continued mass extinction (the species extinction rate is already 100-100 times greater than normal; see Phillip Levin and Donald Levin, “The real biodiversity crisis”, American Scientist, January-February 2002: http://www.americanscientist.org/is... ) and threatens mankind with a worsening climate genocide that is predicted to kill as many as 10 billion humans this century (see “Climate Genocide”: https://sites.google.com/site/clima... ). The World must cease deforestation and burning wood, black coal, brown coal, conventional oil, tar sands-derived oil, conventional natural gas and coal seam gas (CSG) and then return atmospheric CO2 from the present dangerous and damaging 392 ppm to the safe and sustainable level of 300 ppm CO2 that until the last century had not been exceeded for 800,000 years (see “300.org – return atmospheric CO2 to 300 ppm”: https://sites.google.com/site/300or... ).

The World is rapidly running out of time to cease greenhouse gas emissions and some countries have already run out of time in terms of doing their “fair share” of this task. Thus in 2009 the German Advisory Council on Climate Change (WBGU) determined that for a 75% chance of avoiding a 2 degree C temperature rise the World must pollute less than 600 billion tonnes of CO2 between 2010 and essentially zero emissions in 2050. Unfortunately Australia (through disproportionately huge annual fossil fuel burning and exports) and Belize (through disproportionately huge annual deforestation) have already used up their “fair share” of this terminal greenhouse gas (GHG) budget and are now stealing the entitlement of other countries (see “Shocking analysis by country if years left to zero emissions”, Green Blog, 1 August 2011: http://www.green-blog.org/2011/08/0... ) .

What can decent people do? Insofar as this is practicable, decent people must (a) inform everyone they can and (b) apply sanctions and boycotts against all those corporations, countries, people, politicians, parties, and products disproportionately contributing to the worsening climate emergency and threatening survival of Humanity and the Biosphere. The most useful single thing one can do is to vote 1 Green or vote 1 Socialist.



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