Lemons, sour as ever. “Remember global warming? You know, that worldwide disaster we were all so worried about way back in 2011?“
Well actually, Lemons, we’ve never worried about it because examination of the “issue” has always shown it to be unworthy of a second thought. Every time someone gets their knickers in a knot we have another look to see if any evidence has turned up yet and all we ever find is yet more garbage PlayStation® climatology and pointless panic. Time you panic merchants either put up or shut up.
It wasn’t an unreasonable fear, of course: the world has been pumping greenhouse gases (especially carbon dioxide, or CO2) into the atmosphere like there was no tomorrow. Greenhouse gases trap heat. Ergo, said both the theory and the evidence, global temperatures are heading upward, forcing ice to melt, sea level to rise, and extreme weather to come along more often.
But all of that is so last year. The Associated Press is reporting a “surprise turnaround” in carbon-dioxide emissions. Based on a document from the federal Energy Information Agency, the AP points that CO2 emissions have fallen to their lowest level in 20 years — and it’s not because of any new government regulations, but rather because natural gas has replaced coal in many power plants. Gas emits much less CO2 than coal, and thanks to fracking, gas has become extraordinarily cheap and plentiful. Problem solved! Or at least as the headline more responsibly puts it, “some experts optimistic on global warming.”
Really? These experts might want to think again. It’s true that natural gas emits about half as much CO2 as coal in producing a comparable amount of energy, but half as much isn’t zero, and zero, or as close to it as is humanly possible, is where the world needs to get in a big hurry.
The reason: a large fraction of the carbon dioxide we put into the atmosphere is going to stay there for thousands of years.
What total crap. While it may take many hundreds of years to scavenge every last molecule stamped “Restored by humanity” biospheric drawdown of atmospheric CO2 will lower the level rapidly. If humans stopped emitting now levels would be down below 350 ppmv in 30 years and back below 300 ppmv in under a century. We are having the devil’s own job finding an effect now so you certainly wouldn’t be able to find one a few decades down track if you were dopey enough to let levels decline (‘cept plants wouldn’t be growing as well).