Right Opinion

Two Simple Questions for Al Gore

Joe Bastardi · Jul. 16, 2014

Al Gore is at it again. He was just in Australia (he should hire Weatherbell.com to help him avoid the “Gore Effect” – Brisbane recorded its coldest temperature in 103 years during his stay) and told BBC, “This [climate change] is the biggest crisis our civilization faces.”

A statement like that, which echoes much of what State Secretary John Kerry says, is very serious indeed, so perhaps Al Gore should answer a couple of basic questions.

Some points first. CO2 in the atmosphere is portrayed in proportions that distort it in the same way a picture of an ant under a microscope would distort its size in relation to the environment around it.

A pretty intimidating creature.

Next, CO2 has no linkage to the globe temperature in the geological time scale or in recent times (as the Pacific started to cool, so did temperatures), as plainly seen in the charts below.

Left is CO2 vs. temps, middle: model busts, and right: closeups of latest temps

The CO2 graphics are on a scale similar to showing an ant under a microscope and then claiming these monster creatures are taking over the earth. The correct scale of CO2, since it is measured in parts per million, is to show it on a scale from zero to a million instead of the way it is portrayed most commonly, which makes it look like increases can take over the world. It is 400 parts per million total and increases 1.8 parts per million a year. Since it is impossible to create a chart like that in millions, and CO2 would not show up anyway because its contribution is so small, I will try to be more realistic. It looks more like the following chart in relation to the total atmosphere. In this case, I will use the graphic of CO2 as a percentage of the atmosphere (.04%).

Another way of putting it: Here is Beaver Stadium at Penn. State filled to capacity with 107,000 people.

The current percentage of atmospheric CO2 is equivalent to picking 43 people out of 107,000. The yearly increase from the U.S.: ¼ to 1/3 of a person in that crowd.

Consider this: The yearly increase in the level of CO2 from all sources is 1.8 ppm (ppm = parts per million). There are arguments as to how much of this is due to man. To make sure that I give my opponents the benefit of a doubt, I will assume all of that increase is because of man.

Now remember, the heat capacity of the atmosphere is only 1/1000th of the ocean’s. That means when we are talking man’s input of CO2 into the entire planetary climate system, the fact is the part we put into the air only has 1/100th of the greenhouse gas effect, the primary one being water vapor. Water vapor makes up just 4 percent of the atmosphere, and the atmosphere only has 1/1000th the heat capacity of the ocean. Common sense reasoning shows that the effect of CO2 has to be boxed in by all this. But let’s continue, shall we?

The EPA estimates that the U.S. contributes about 1/5th of the CO2 man emits, which would be .20 x 1.8 ppm, or .36 (that’s point 36) ppm. I am not going to use smaller estimates of the U.S. contribution, which are as low as 10 percent. As I said, I am assuming all the increase is from man, which is also arguable. But I want to consider the worst-case scenario.

So let’s keep this short and sweet. Two questions for Mr. Gore:

1.) What is the perfect temperature for the planet?

2.) Do you really believe that the U.S. contribution of .36 parts per million of CO2 has any provably measurable effect on weather/climate?

Joe Bastardi is chief forecaster at WeatherBELL Analytics, a meteorological consulting firm.

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