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  • does it add up

    let me start by saying i am not totally convinced about global warming being man made, some of the reasons are (maybe some of the scientific community can answer these)
    1. carbon dioxide is supposed to be a greenhouse gas, but with my little understanding of chemistry it is heavier than air. so given the figures that have been produced about the billions of tons we are emmitting into the atmosphere we should be wading around in a co2 soup, however the co2 content in air is still around 4% which has not altered in the last 20 years.
    2. current emmisions for uk cars is to be under 135g of carbon per km. if this is the case we are somehow producing more in emissions than we are actually feeding in in feul and air? if this is true we are well on the way to inventing perpetual motion.
    Please do not take these as cynical remarks, but somehow the math does not add up. for global warming and climate change to be believable, the information being given has to be plausable.

    I welcome your response Graham

  • #2
    Re: does it add up

    Hi Graham,

    Yes it does all add up - though it's not all totally intuitive, so maybe doesn't seem to add up.

    1/ You're quite right carbon dioxide is heavier than air and so on a totally motionless planet not affected by any external or internal forces, over time the gases in the atmosphere might be expected to settle out into layers.

    However the atmosphere is constantly under a whole range of forces mainly from the sun that produces our weather and so the CO2 is well mixed into the atmosphere and pretty evenly distributed.

    The atmosphere consists of a VAST amount of air, so even billions of tons of CO2 doesn't push the actual portion up that much. Unfortunately though CO2 is incredibly effective at being a greenhouse gas and so tiny amounts make big differences. The figure is closer to 0.04% - not 4%. There's also the fact that the oceans have been absorbing a lot of the CO2 produced, so all of that extra produced is not actually in the atmosphere.

    The amount of carbon dioxide in the air certainly has increased in the last 20 years:

    it has been doing so since the industrial revolution and is currently outside of any observed natural cycle:

    2/ I don't know where you got your figures for car emmisions from, but some straightforwards if long winded calculations support other published figures.

    The data is usually presented as mass of CO2 - not of just carbon. Working backwards from the figure of 135g/km of CO2 and assuming perfect combustion of octane (mostly what petrol is made of C8H18), this figure is equivalent to 59 miles per gallon, which is actually pretty optimistic, even accounting for some imperfect combustion!

    1g of octane takes 3.5g of oxygen to burn it fully. This is 1 molecule of octane and 12.5 molecules of oxygen. This produces just over 3g of CO2 and 1.42g of water, respectively 8 and 9 molecules of each.

    This is probably the counter-intuitive part in that 1g of a tangible substance (petrol - octane - an easily visible liquid) is producing more than 3g of CO2 an invisible, odourless, colourless gas. But the science all adds up correctly.

    I've not completed any similar calculation myself before this, but it effectively means that for a petrol (gasoline) car, the mass of CO2 emmitted is 3 times the mass of petrol burnt!

    Worth thinking about next time you're standing by the pump as all the fuel goes flooding into the cars tank!


    • #3
      Re: does it add up

      Thanks for your indepth reply, although my initial post may have sounded cynical ,that was not intended, and you rational and in depth response answers my question clearly.
      many thanks Graham


      • #4
        Re: does it add up

        First of all, let me say that there has been a global cooling which started in winter 1939/40 (4 decades!), a big warming which started in 1918, etc etc. And you can't say people drove cars and stuff like that. It's weird to say that the warming now is provoqued by us driving cars and keeping the computers on and back then it was natural.

        Now, wait a second to let me explain. I am no skeptic. The global warming is obvious to me. But I have a different view on the cause. As I see it, oceans have a big word in the global warming. And our naval wars affected oceans so much that this affected climate. To see more proof of that, go to <link removed>

        It may be a new theory, but I strongly encourrage you to read about it.
        Last edited by Paul Ward; 12th February 2007, 21:04. Reason: Link removed, you need to build up some degree of reputation before linking to your own website from here


        • #5
          Re: does it add up

          Originally posted by Funky
          Was the link taken out because hyperlinks aren't allowed Paul?
          The link (and also link to the site in the signature - which would appear on every post) was taken out because I don't want this site to be a place where every nutter-on-the-bus can gain some credence for their own crack-pot theories. CoolAntarctica is a popular and well respected site on the web, so a link from here means that if I open the doors, they'll all start flooding in to try and gain some reflected glory.

          It was something to do with WW2 naval battles being the cause of global warming - I got bored and stopped reading.

          I am currently a science teacher, previously I was a research scientist, it matters to me that the principles of science are upheld. I have a particular distaste for pseudo-science by those who just don't understand how it all works. Having an idea or "theory" alone counts for little.

          It reminds me of a sketch in Monty Python;

          "I have a theory (ahem). My theory is about dinosaurs. They were thin at one end, fat in the middle and thin at the other end" (or words to that effect).

          To the charlatans - Get your own website - don't piggy-back off this one, I work very hard at I and have done for several years now. I moderate this forum quite closely and have an open - but critical - mind. I don't give webspace, and especially links to just anything!


          • #6
            Re: does it add up

            Originally posted by adriannem
            but I think all opinions should be allowed as long as they are on the subject.
            That's where we'll have to disagree - I give no space here to flat-earthers, ufologists, creationists or anything similar that is in the opinion of orthodox science a crack-pot, unverified, unproven or unverifiable theory or opinion.

            I get tired of pseudo-science. I get tired that for some reason people will disbelieve things like global warming, (most recently) 9/11 (conspiracy theories), the moon landing and many other verifiable events, but somehow believe in ufos, angels and the like which are pretty much all faith-based - or fingers-crossed-behind-my-back, turn-round-3-times-and-spit "truths".


            • #7
              Re: does it add up

              If you are expecting for me to praise the IPCC report and say that they found the source of all evil, I must be in tre wrong place.


              • #8
                Re: does it add up

                IPCC - obviously a bunch of crackpots who know nothing.

                Now unsubstantiated claims and theories by people with no reasonable background in science or anything that would indicate some critical thinking. Maybe they're the ones to listen to?

                History is littered with clear-thinking mavericks who push the envelope - however for every one of these, there are 1,000 - 10,000 - 100,000 who just simply got it all gloriously wrong and so were forgotten.
                "One fool can ask more questions in a minute than twelve wise men can answer in an hour"
                Yes - I think you're in the wrong place.


                • #9
                  Re: does it add up

                  It's the lack of critical thinking that I keep coming across that's bugging me. I hear what you say and substantially agree, however:

                  There seems to be an increasing number of people who disbelieve what is continually being proven beyond doubt and then suggest some crack-pot theory or half remembered or half understood facts they heard somewhere and deciding that this must be true - all the better if they feel they're some kind of maverick free-thinker.

                  Far too often, they're just wrong and the joy of promoting their new-found idea clouds the fact that they fail to provide any tiny particle of proof beyond "I reckon" - unlike the theories (or facts - scientists have an irritating habit of using language which is frequently misinterpreted) that they so readily dismiss.

                  Not all ideas are equal and worthy of promotion. If someone has an idea, as you say, the onus of proof is on them - not of disproof on others (if you see what I mean).


                  • #10
                    Re: does it add up

                    On a public forum? Maybe you are expecting too much critical thinking Paul?
                    Its up to you scientist types to put the less cerebral amongst us on the right track, to educate and to point out the crack-pot theories then hope they will listen and understand.
                    You do open yourself up to pointless arguments just by moderating a public forum. This forum is by far the quietist and polite I've come across in ages. Most are full of abusive brainless individuals who are a waste of good food, who I'm sure just post on public forums to give people grief!

                    I come here to learn and have searching questions answered. I do hope the more brainy types can give me a little patience when I put forward some theoretical thoughts of my own. I'm not mad honest!