A lot of CO2

A highly educated (why? because he believes in AGW, that’s why) columnist writes in The Sunday Times (not of India) about his experience dealing with “bubbas” of the British variety-

Whoever leaked that clutch of Climategate emails last month must be laughing his socks off. For he has unleashed upon the rest of us the phenomenon of the born-again climate sceptic, the kind of man (always a man, almost invariably wearing a tweed jacket) who now materialises beside me at parties and confides that he has been having second thoughts about climate change.

My first instinct is always to humour him. I say I would be absolutely overjoyed if in a few years’ time we were to find out that Richard Lindzen, the most distinguished sceptic among the academic meteorologists, has turned out to be right and that the early 21st century got itself into a hysterical panic on the basis of trends based on highly uncertain computer predictions. But, I add, there are reasonable odds that he is wrong. My follow-up question is this: “Do you know that climate change is not the only reason to be uneasy about carbon emissions?”

On each occasion I am met by a look of puzzlement, followed by a perplexed nod, and I realise the person in question hasn’t a clue what I am talking about. He hasn’t heard of the acidification of the sea, a phenomenon quite separate from global warming but just as alarming. The reason, I suspect, is that it does not rate a line in the bestselling sceptical books on global warming by Christopher Booker or Nigel Lawson — which seem to be all that my tweedy friends have read on the subject.

Ocean acidification has been quite scandalously left out of the reckoning in the past few weeks. I am not for a moment belittling the science behind man-made global warming. This still seems to me solid, despite the shenanigans at the University of East Anglia. That levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are rising is not disputed. We have known since the 19th century that carbon dioxide was a crucial greenhouse gas. Venus has a lot of it and is hot as hell. Mars has almost none and is cold as ice.

Okay, “bubba” is flabbergasted on hearing about acidification, and that’s a big word, plus an f-word. So he says—”me is surprised!”. And highly-educated-columnist knows that Venus is hot because it has “a lot” of carbon dioxide whereas Mars is freezing because it has “almost none.” Plus he will probably be willing to bet his AGW belief plus the use of the royal (and authoritative) “We have known…” on that statement of fact.

Okay, what does NASA have to say on the subject. Venus

Atmospheric composition (near surface, by volume):

96.5% Carbon Dioxide (CO2),
3.5% Nitrogen (N2)

Minor (ppm):
Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) – 150;
Argon (Ar) – 70;
Water (H2O) – 20;
Carbon Monoxide (CO) – 17;
Helium (He) – 12;
Neon (Ne) – 7


Atmospheric composition (by volume):

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) – 95.32%;
Nitrogen (N2) – 2.7%
Argon (Ar) – 1.6%;
Oxygen (O2) – 0.13%;
Carbon Monoxide (CO) – 0.08%

Minor (ppm):
Water (H2O) – 210;
Nitrogen Oxide (NO) – 100;
Neon (Ne) – 2.5;
Hydrogen-Deuterium-Oxygen (HDO) – 0.85;
Krypton (Kr) – 0.3;
Xenon (Xe) – 0.08

Assuming these figures are comparable, me not being a planet-ologist (astronomer, astrophysicist, astro-something), I would say (from some ultralight readings on the subject) that the distance from the sun and the thickness of the atmosphere might be more relevant when dealing with the temperatures of planets, especially ones where humans aren’t driving 4x4s.

He goes on about how acidification is even more serious a threat as compared to AGW, and maybe it is. But will these people, and I have been reading comments from them filled with such vitriol (highly-educated-columnist seems positively benign in comparison) that one would hardly expect that they were written by humans, stop being so full of themselves and stop behaving as if there’s nothing wrong with what happened at CRU over the last decade and a half? If you want to play politics, do it. Don’t call it science. “Reparations” and “climate debt” are not part of the vocabulary of science (not that all warmists use that terminology). Policy prescriptions do not emanate from science. And just in case someone missed it, the last time a country was forced to pay reparations, the “beneficiaries” got screwed. Politics is a deadly game.

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  • comdenom  On December 13, 2009 at 12:38 pm

    Yes…politics is one nasty beast, in fact I believe it has unnecessarily defiled science. C02 in the atmosphere, C02 in our ocean, yep it’s supposed to be there. We would not exist without it neither could the ocean sustain life it it weren’t acidified. I wonder when they will ban consumption of all that C02 in beer.

  • Aristotle The Geek  On December 13, 2009 at 8:29 pm

    re. co2 in the oceans, I’m not sure what, if anything, should be done about it. If the effects are similar to say, an oil spill or industrial effluents, the polluter pays principle ought to be applied after completing the causal chain and identifying the “polluters.” Its a question of cost-benefit analysis, not alarmism. Before that however, property rights in oceans needs to be well-defined. Have had too much of the “tragedy of the commons” play out in the seas and oceans.

  • comdenom  On December 14, 2009 at 12:19 am

    If the ocean is absorbing C02, then it is supposed to be, just as plant life absorbs C02 on land. Climate change is a natural phenomenom; it is in a constant state of change. Do you remember the deep freeze panic in the 70’s? Hear is a Time Mag article http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,944914,00.html Also check out all the ways we use C02 form this list http://comdenom.wordpress.com/carbon-c02/

    • Aristotle The Geek  On December 14, 2009 at 10:09 am

      I am aware of the 1970s “ice age” panic…and interesting compilation on the uses of co2.

      The current pragmatic thinking, if you keep the rabid environmentalists and politicians aside, is based on status quo. Meaning, humans should stay within a particular band when it comes to their activities on earth. That is, even if the co2 produced by human activities is not causing AGW, but is affecting the oceans and thus marine life, then something needs to be done about it even if the process of absorption is a natural one.

      My views on this are not pragmatic in any sense, but beyond a particular point, “natural” doesn’t cut it. If property rights in oceans and seas were well defined, and I could prove that the current excess of co2 in the seas is infringing on my rights, I should be able to sue the polluter. That’s why property rights, and establishing causality are extremely important instead of going crazy like the environmentalists do. I have touched upon this topic here.

  • comdenom  On December 14, 2009 at 12:53 pm

    It has been noticed that many would prefer to skate with another’s opinion and avoid meaningful thought and research on their own behalf, and when they’re required to act, they then do so out of guilt.

    The word “denier” should have never been used for an environmental(void of facts)issue after it was widely attached to minimize a horrendous holocaust (factual), thus twice being minimized.

    I agree with establishing causality and recieving retribution, but if the C02 grew your stock in your oceans, would you share your crop?

    This is spoken not from an individualist point of view but for the common good.

    • Aristotle The Geek  On December 14, 2009 at 11:16 pm

      # “many would prefer to skate with another’s opinion and avoid meaningful thought and research on their own behalf”
      There are ten things going on in the world at one time which affect one’s life—from socialist responses to the economic crisis to socialist responses to climate change. I don’t think its fair to expect people to research every single one of them and then come to a conclusion. Its necessary if one wants to hold an intelligent opinion on the subject, but not fair. In such circumstances, most people will fall back on their politics, measuring the consequences of the proposed “solutions” against those permitted by their politics.

      # “but if the C02 grew your stock in your oceans, would you share your crop”
      Then the science would be wrong wouldn’t it? That would be like suing Big Tobacco for not having warned you about the effects of smoking and then discovering that smoking doubles your lifespan.

      If co2 has different effects on different kinds of life forms, its then a matter of agreement between parties concerned. Governments shouldn’t be concerned with it at all.

      Science deals with facts. Unless something is universally harmful, it cannot be the subject matter of law.

      # “but for the common good.”
      There really is no such thing.

  • comdenom  On December 16, 2009 at 4:37 am

    If ten things are going on at the same time, there is a trick to deal with that, it’s called prioritizing. Lack of sincere involvement leads to manipulation which in turn leads all to bankruptcy and probably a one world government…bringing the U.S. to its knees.

    Science is reverse engineering, much of which is still unknown. Yet without full knowledge they can say with certainty that specific actions should be taken, so apparently science can be bought. Controlling C02 is as ludicrous as controlling the earth’s rotation.

    Everything government puts into law should be carefully weighted with scrutiny and objectivity. Due to past mistakes we are now subjected to incomprehensible amounts of spending and unconstitutional control distribution, much of what the government created should be disassembled, including agencies and individuals that have the ability to circumvent or trump the congress (our check and balance system).

    Common good-a humanistic approach certainly not owned by the Liberal Party, e.g. It would be in the best interest of the majority of people to stop an environmental movement, that is negatively impacting nations based on conjecture.

    • Aristotle The Geek  On December 16, 2009 at 1:10 pm

      # “it’s called prioritizing.”
      Meaning pick one that you have real strong feelings for and research it to death? That’s what some people do. But…prioritization might be a great strategy in one’s personal and professional life, not so much in politics. If one sees that the bailout, health care “reform” and “solutions” to global warming all lead to the same destination, a reduction in liberty, one cannot simply “pick one” and ignore the rest. One must always look through the proposals and technicalities, at the central idea. Acknowledging, where applicable, that one’s position is political in nature, helps. I do that when it comes to climate change. But for political and economic arguments, I provide reasons.

      # “probably a one world government”
      When it comes to tyranny, size doesn’t matter. Of course its better to have localized tyranny rather than a globalized version; the chances of controlling it are that much higher. But I fail to see how a OWG can be any worse than a pretend republic. Americans only have themselves to blame for their plight.

      # so apparently science can be bought.
      It can be. Any field of science that has political and economic ramifications will be politicized. The best one can do is cut politics down to size and cripple the State by reducing its scope. “How to do it” is an open question. Statolatry is a worldwide pandemic.

      # Controlling C02 is as ludicrous as controlling the earth’s rotation.
      Maybe, but Archimedes did make his famous statement about the lever and the earth. Controlling co2, or whether we have the technology available, is a secondary issue. The primary issue is to investigate whether we have a problem, and to see what politics, economics and jurisprudence have to say on the subject.

      # “Everything government puts into law should be carefully weighted with scrutiny and objectivity…our check and balance system”
      Your “checks and balances” system was broken from the beginning. I can only quote Chodorov on the subject-

      A constitution undertakes to define the scope of political power, to delimit the functions the State may assume, as a condition for public support. It is a contractual agreement. But it is a matter of record that no State has long abided by the terms of the agreement; its inherent compulsion toward the acquisition of power cannot be inhibited by law. The best example of this is the life story of the American Constitution. It originated in the convention that a State is inherently incapable of containing its urge for power, and the writers not only defined and limited the scope of the new State but also provided for a system of “checks and balances” that presumably would prevent its getting out of bounds. It specifically provided that all powers not enumerated would remain with the state establishments—a clear recognition of the historic fact that political power is less virulent the nearer its wielders are to the ruled. This novel idea of states’ rights, of the division of authority, was intended as a block to centralization. It had the additional effect of setting up competition between the states, so that if a political establishment undertook to put disabilities on its citizens, one could escape them by moving across the border to another state. Besides these “checks and balances” and the doctrine of imperium in imperio, there was the further formidable barrier to centralization in the carefully circumscribed authority to levy taxes.

      Despite all this, the American State has been able to circumvent the terms of the bargain of 1789; by legal interpretation and amendment it has achieved centralization as effectively as other establishments have done by force. When we compare the intent of the “founding fathers”—and taking into consideration the social pressures that bore upon this intent—with the present state of political affairs, we can say that the original constitution has been in fact replaced by something quite different. Basically, the intent was to provide a form of political institution that would hold inviolate the immunities of person, property, and mind. The immunity of person went by the boards when military conscription was instituted as a national policy, and national policy was interpreted as an obligation to use these troops in the wars of foreign nations; this was not contemplated in 1789. The immunity of property was abolished by the Sixteenth Amendment, which, by asserting the prior lien of the State on the earnings of citizens, virtually denies them the right of private ownership; with this right gone, the right to life becomes academic. The immunity of mind has been violated by more subtle but no less effective means, which the proceeds of income taxation made available: by the establishment of a vast propaganda machine for the channeling of thought in favor of State ventures, including the distortion of facts as to its operations; by the subvention, with favors, of news-vending and opinion-influencing publications; by the subsidization of educational institutions and educators.

      If the carefully constructed constitution of 1789 has not been able to contain the power-grabbing proclivities of the federal establishment, it is reasonable to conclude that no body of laws can accomplish that purpose.


      It follows that political authority is not containable by contract. No constitutional constriction ever invented has succeeded in keeping the political person within his appointed sphere, that of maintaining the peace within Society, of effecting equity between producers, of assuring each member that his rights shall not be invaded by another. Some other instrument of control is necessary if Society is not to be periodically swallowed up by the State.

      # “Common good-a humanistic approach”
      “Common good” is vague terminology, and risky too. Its akin to “public property.” “Good” is always “individual” in nature. A particular event might make many people better off, but that’s not “common good,” only many individuals having “good” done to them. An abstract sum of many concretes.

      Millions of people have lost their lives to the politics of “the common good.” I hate that phrase.

      # “It would be in the best interest of the majority of people…”
      You are making an assumption there. A majority of people might truly believe that giving up clothes, cooked food and housing, and reverting to a state of pre-civilization might be a great idea if it helps save some polar bears. Their believing so doesn’t make it right, neither does it give them the right to force others to follow them to crazy town. If you are taking a political position, that’s what you should say. Don’t justify it in terms of the majority, but yourself.

  • comdenom  On December 17, 2009 at 12:22 am

    Thank you for indulging me with this discussion.

    Coming to the conclusion of a reduction in liberty is the prioritized event; by this should we then understand that government is too large and out of control? The call for action to counteract this would be to organize and demand the necessary editing to a proportional scope, hence removing the power of tyranny. Enforcing the constitution with an amendment repeals would be a novel way to prevent an imbalance for the future.

    I’m in very much agreement with Chodorov’s excerpt, so is it correct that the check and balance system was not broken but the failure to uphold it was (including the XVI amendment)? The freedom of the press was instituted as another part of our check and balance system, whereas the media was intended to be the watchdog over government doings and report impartially to the citizens. Is this not another instance of running afoul?

    • Aristotle The Geek  On December 17, 2009 at 12:41 pm

      # “should we then understand that government is too large and out of control?”
      It is, and has been for the better part of the last century as far as the US is concerned.

      # “The call for action to counteract this would be to organize and demand the necessary editing to a proportional scope, hence removing the power of tyranny….novel way to prevent an imbalance for the future.”
      # “so is it correct that the check and balance system was not broken but the failure to uphold it was…?”
      Chodorov suggested the repeal of the sixteenth amendment. Others suggest reverting to the old (indirect) system of election of senators. I am sure more such measures can be thought of. But these are mere specifics. The principle behind all these “checks” is the inviolability of an individual’s right to life, property and free speech. And when it came to this, the original US constitution (including the BoR) was a failure. By compromising on the question of slavery, by giving Congress the right to make any laws at all, by trying to provide for a states version of anti-trust law (the commerce clause), the founders only delayed the inevitable, centralization, by a few decades.

      As for the courts that were supposed to safeguard the rights of the people, when justices of the Supreme Court make statements like “Where is the prohibition of stupid laws in the Constitution?”, and declare that nowhere does the Constitution say that an innocent man should not be put to death as long as he is convicted after due process, it is proof of legalistic, textualistic thinking. When another bunch of justices try to twist the Constitution to fit their ideology, it is proof of activism. But what is forgotten in all this is the principle of natural rights, something that is higher than any Constitution ever will be. Positivists dismiss the idea as baseless, but can hardly provide any defense for how something 51% of an “empowered” group of people decide on becomes “law.” Congress is majoritarianism in action.

      And all this does not even begin to cover the question of whether states, cities etc have the right to do something which the central government cannot. If, for example, taxation is both immoral and illegal, then the principle is as much applicable at the lower levels as it is at higher ones.

      Ludwig von Mises wrote the following-

      When any sort of difference arises between law and opinion, a reaction must necessarily follow; a movement sets in against that part of the law that is felt to be unjust. Such conflicts always
      tend to end in a victory of opinion over the law; ultimately the views of the ruling class become embodied in the law.


      The propensity of our contemporaries to demand authoritarian prohibition as soon as something does not please them, and their readiness to submit to such prohibitions even when what is prohibited is quite agreeable to them shows how deeply ingrained the spirit of servility still remains within them…. A free man must be able to endure it when his fellow men act and live otherwise than he considers proper. He must free himself from the habit, just as soon as something does not please him, of calling for the police.


      If public opinion is ultimately responsible for the structure of government, it is also the agency that determines whether there is freedom or bondage. There is virtually only one factor that has the power to make people unfree—tyrannical public opinion. The struggle for freedom is ultimately not resistance to autocrats or oligarchs but resistance to the despotism of public opinion.

      And this is the problem anyone who wants to fix the constitution, or write a new one will have to face. Too many people believe in the notion—generally out of ignorance, but more often than not because of an authoritarian and egalitarian (“equality of outcome”) mentality—that government should force people to do certain things. And this thinking lies at the root of any political problem one can think of.

      Unless this is fixed, and I don’t think its possible anytime soon, all political efforts in that direction will end in failure. Given that only one of the three major revolutions over the last three centuries has succeeded, while the others ended in terror and mass murder, “no revolution” is better than a revolution by stupid people.

      For the present, as long as one is working within the current framework, there isn’t much one can do except take small steps to delay the slow but steady march towards totalitarianism.

  • comdenom  On December 18, 2009 at 2:06 am

    There becomes an inevitable point where liberty is lost to such an extent that we then lose the possibility of ever being capable of recourse.

    When that day comes, there will not be comfort in the fact that we idly watched and lamented, but never acted.

    It is my opinion that we start the salvage process with one (the most fundamental) infraction through education, diligence and a careful examination of why previous attempts failed. Repealing the sixteenth amendment is probably the best place to start. Surely we can extract a large enough base of understanding and support from one community at a time. Just as daunting an undertaking it would be, the reward for reclaimed liberty would be many times greater.

    Of this, I request; please draw the first draft.

    • Aristotle The Geek  On December 18, 2009 at 3:34 pm

      # “we start the salvage process with one (the most fundamental) infraction through education, diligence and a careful examination of why previous attempts failed.”
      Given that this phenomenon, tyranny, is as old as civilization itself, hundreds of people have written on the subject.

      If you just consider the 20th century, Chodorov, Paterson and Lane wrote about it in the context of the politics of the USA, and you can find their works on mises.org, as also works by Mises (who tackled economics and the hazards of interventionism) and Rothbard (who wrote on economics, political philosophy, and how liberty might be achieved).

      Rand grounded her entire politics in ethics; she’s written, among other things, about what a government is, what rights are, and aren’t.

      As far as the US goes, repealing the sixteenth amendment is a good start (it will “starve the beast”), but its a very small part of what needs to be done. I have come to acknowledge the very inconvenient truth that the only reason tyranny persists is because a majority is in favor of the same. And convincing them is an incredibly difficult task.

      You ask for a draft. I’m afraid I cannot provide any such thing. I can make a few suggestions though. You talk about education, and it is the most important part of the whole process. But as the adage goes, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Any political position that one takes has to be grounded in some principle. And one must be aware of the implications, both positive and negative, of such a position. I would recommend reading the authors mentioned above, especially Rand, and especially her book PWNI. (If you are religious, a lot of what she writes might make you angry. But she has very strong reasons for writing what she does.) Get to know the hows and whys. And introduce them to those who are still receptive to ideas. Only when a majority is convinced about this can a massive political change take place. And it could take decades or centuries before that happens.

      Till then, if one wants to be involved in politics, one should always oppose any measure that increases state control over the economy and lives of citizens and support any measure that decreases it. One could even join hands with one’s opponents if that helps, an issue-based partnership, while making one’s principles very clear.

      I wrote a post, and many comments on similar lines, some time back.

      I don’t think I can add anything else to that.

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