Coal Gets a Bad Rap - CO2 Cools the Earth and Creates More Plant Growth
- Mar 5, 2014 7:00 pm GMT
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It is important to refute the bad rap that coal is getting. Coal gets a bad name because people say the carbon dioxide released to the atmosphere during the combustion of coal warms the earth. This is completely false. The empirical data (actual measurements) 1show that atmospheric CO2 concentrations have no discernible effect on global temperature, see Figure 1. The land-sea temperature change shown is data from the United Kingdom's Hadley Climate Research Unit and the lower troposphere temperature change from the Microwave Sounding Unit satellite. The average CO2 plot is from the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii. While CO2 levels increased some 20 ppmw from 1998 until today, global temperatures did not increase as predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) models - they fell!
Figure 1. Earth temperature and CO2 concentration 1998-2010
As seen in Figure 1, CO2 in the atmosphere also varies with the growing seasons and the Northern Hemisphere that has more land mass than the Southern Hemisphere is controlling. According to the IPCC, man contributes some 2.9% of the CO2 emitted to the atmosphere, nature the rest, see Table 1. If we were to have globally eliminated all man-made CO2 on January 2010, the concentration would be the same as it was in January 2004. If we had eliminated double the amount of man-made CO2 in January 2010 we would go back to January 1998 when it was approximately 0.2 oC warmer than in January 2010. Further of all CO2 emitted to the atmosphere, nature absorbs 98.5% of it, so nature already has its own built-in mechanism to control the level of CO2 in the atmosphere.
TABLE 1. GLOBAL SOURCES AND ABSORPTION OF CARBON DIOXIDE
Carbon Dioxide: Natural Human Made Total Absorption
Annual Million Metric Tons 770,000 23,100 793,100 781,400
% of Total 97.1% 2.9% 100% 98.5%
Source: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Climate Change 2001: The Scientific Basis
(Cambridge, UK Cambridge University Press, 2001), p. 188.
Carbon dioxide does not cause global warming like many erroneously claim, and coal is the greenest fuel we could possibly use. There is more carbon dioxide per million Btu of coal fired than when firing oil or natural gas. Since nature absorbs most of the CO2 that is emitted to the atmosphere to increase plant growth and liberate oxygen there is more food and oxygen for an increasing world population. This is a good thing.
The US EPA is trying to regulate man-made CO2 which is orders of magnitude beyond stupid. The man-made CO2 that was generated in the United States in 2010 that contributed to global CO2 concentration in the world was 16.4% of the worldwide man-made total4 and that calculates to be (390*0.029*0.164) = 1.9 ppmw.
The CO2 release from Medieval warming (800 year lag time) has caused CO2 in the atmosphere to rise some 2 ppmw per year from 1993 to 20112 Nature absorbs 98.5% of the CO2 that is emitted by nature and man. As CO2 increases in the atmosphere, nature causes plant growth to increase via photosynthesis which is an endothermic (cooling) reaction. For every pound of biomass formed some 10,000 Btu are removed from the atmosphere. CO2 is absorbed, and oxygen is liberated. Further, a doubling of CO2 will increase plant growth rate by 300 to 400% 3, see Figure 2.
Figure 2. Increased Carbon Dioxide Effect on Plant Growth
NASA scientists claimed Cirrus clouds, formed by contrails from aircraft engine exhaust, are capable of increasing average surface temperatures enough to account for the warming trend in the United States that occurred between 1975 and 1994. "According to Patrick Minnis, a senior research scientist at NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., there has been a one percent per decade increase in cirrus cloud cover over the United States, likely due to air traffic. Cirrus clouds exert a warming influence on the surface by allowing most of the sun's rays to pass through but then trapping some of the resulting heat emitted by the surface and lower atmosphere 4. "
This explanation is absolutely backwards. These clouds cool the earth, they do not warm it. There is more radiant energy coming from the sun to the earth than from the earth to the sky. More radiant energy will be blocked during the day by atmospheric gases than will be blocked by radiant energy leaving the earth at night (insulating effect). The overall effect is cooling, not warming. The IPCC and other AGW proponents must have never completed a mass and energy balance before; you have to include both the input energy from the sun and the output energy from the earth, not just output energy from the earth by itself.
The cooling effect of water vapor in the stratosphere was proved following the 9-11 terrorist attacks. Atmospheric scientists studied the effect of water vapor on temperature in the wake of the attacks. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) prohibited commercial aviation over the United States for three days following the attacks and this presented a unique opportunity to study the temperature of the earth without airplanes and their contrails.
Dr. David Travis, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Wisconsin, along with two other scientists, looked at how temperatures for those three days compared to other days when planes were flying. They analyzed maximum and minimum temperature data from about 4,000 weather stations throughout the contiguous (48 states) United States for the period 1971-2000, and compared those to the conditions that prevailed during the three-day aircraft grounding period and the three days when planes were flying before and after the grounding period.
It was found that the average daily temperature range between highs and lows was 1.3 to 2 oC higher during September 11-14 with air traffic grounded compared to September 8-11 and September 11-14 with normal air traffic (see Figure 3).
Figure 3. Average diurnal (daily) temperature range (DTR) 5
The data conclusively proved that stratospheric water vapor trails have a net cooling effect and therefore all other so-called greenhouse gases must have a similar effect, since the IPCC says water vapor is the worst so-called, but misnamed "greenhouse gas". The cooling effect of carbon dioxide because of its relatively low concentration (390 - 400 ppmw), compared to water vapor (~1 to 2% in the atmosphere), has a very slight cooling effect that is so low you could not measure it.
CFC destruction of ozone cooled the lower stratosphere some 1.4 oC and warmed the earth some 0.6 oC from 1965 to 2002 until the production of CFCs was stopped by the Montreal Protocol6. CO2 in the atmosphere had nothing to do with warming! Sure wish there were more technical people in the world who knew how to analyze data.
1. Hadley Met Centre temperature- land and oceans: http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/data/temperature/hadcrut3vgl.txt and Scripps monthly CO2 concentrations from the Mauna Lao, Hawaii Observatory: ftp://ftp.cmdl.noaa.gov/ccg/co2/trends/co2_mm_mlo.txt
2. Ashworth, R. A., "Global Warming from CO2 - All Politics, No Science!"
3. Pearch, R.W. and Bjorkman, O., "Physiological effects", in Lemon, E.R. (ed.), CO2 and Plants: The Response of Plants to Rising Levels of Atmospheric CO2, (Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1983), pp 65-1055.
4. Minnis, P., "Clouds Caused by Aircraft Exhaust May Warm the U. S. Climate", NASA Release 04-140, April 27, 2004.
5. Travis, D., A. Carleton, and R. Lauritsen, 2002: Contrails reduce daily temperature range. Nature, 418, 601.
6. Bob Ashworth, "Earth Warming Effect Only Due to CFC Destruction of Stratospheric Ozone!", EnergyPulse July 16, 2013.