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Should we be Concerned over Elevated CO2 levels?

July 7th, 2010 · No Comments

With the oppressive heat and appalling humidity along the Eastern Seaboard, one considers the possibility of climate change and the impact of that greenhouse gases may have on our environment. Without developing statistical regression models to gleam any semblance of understating of carbon dioxide’s impact on climate change, let’s just look at some charts that illustrate the changes of CO2 levels though history.

While industry experts and scientist debate whether elevated CO2 levels have an impact on climate change, the scientific data taken from ice core samples strongly suggests CO2 levels have remained in a range of 180-to-299 parts per million (PPM) for the last four-hounded thousand years. Scientists have developed models to suggest that rising CO2 levels contributes to global warning which are subsequently followed by dramatic climate changes that lead to periods of rapid cooling – the ice ages.

Scientific theories suggest that rising global temperatures melts the Polar ice which allows substantial amounts of fresh water to enter the oceans. The fresh water disrupts the ocean currents that are responsible for establishing a nation’s climate. As oceans warm near the equator, the warmer water travels towards each of the Polar areas. The cooler water near the Polar areas sinks and travels towards the equator. These ocean currents allows for stable climates. The issue is that fresh water is less dense because it is not salty like seawater. Therefore, the fresh water does not sink like the cold salinated seawater thereby disrupting the normal flow of the ocean currents.

Figure 1 CO2 Ice Core Data – illustrates the level of CO2 over the last four-hounded thousand years. The Vostok Ice Core CO2 data was compiled by Laboratoire de Glaciologie et de Geophysique de l’Environnement.
Ice Core Data

Figure 1 CO2 Levels – Vostok Ice Core CO2 Ice Core
Source: Laboratoire de Glaciologie et de Geophysique de l’Environnement

If this Ice Core CO2 data is correct, then the current data on atmospheric CO2 levels is quite profound. CO2 data is complied by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration NOAA at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii. The latest trend indicates CO2 levels for June 2010 are at a mean of 392 ppm versus 339 in June 1980 and 317 in 1960. Clearly these CO2 levels are elevated. The question is what is the impact on our environment.

Aside from the catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico and the dire need to find an alternative to our dependence on oil, should we not accelerate our efforts to find an alternative energy solution and as a way to mitigate the impact of CO2 on our environment? Maybe investment into alternative energy could help solve multiple problems.

Figure 2 Mauna Loa CO2 Readings  Mauna Loa
Source: Source data published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

The bottom line is that we need to consider the possibility that elevated CO2 levels in our atmosphere could potentially have a detrimental impact on our climate. In any event, limiting our dependence on fossil fuels, the main contributor to CO2, should be paramount. Let us not forget oil is supply-constrained – there are no readily available substitutes aside from electric vehicles, and without a strategy to embrace renewable energy, supply disruptions will have a painful impact on our economy, national security, and environment.

Tags: Alternative Energy · Battery Power · Carbon and Climate · Carbon Economics · Carbon Emissions · Carbon Footprint · CO2 Emissions · Energy Costs · Energy Economics · Energy Independence · Energy Security · Global Warming · Historic Energy · Hydrocarbon Fuels · Oil Energy · Oil Independence