Monday

Global warming is good for the environment.

Oil, coal and other natural fuel sources are being billed as the death of us all. Sprawling deserts, raging hurricanes and rising sea levels are all predicted to destroy humanity in the not so distant future. Scientists claim the CO2 being pumped into the atmosphere is the impetus behind so called "global warming" or climate change if you prefer.

I have to ask scientists one simple question: Where did all the carbon in these fuels come from to begin with? I'm not a scientist but I am a thinker and the question seems relevant.

While we are busy arguing about where the carbon is going and what it is doing to the global climate it may be helpful to go back to the beginning to understand the problem.

First: Where does oil come from?



From The Paleontological Research Institute:
In spite of some popular misconceptions, oil doesn't come from dead dinosaurs. In fact, most scientists agree that oil comes from creatures the size of a pinhead.


These one-celled creatures, known as diatoms, aren't really plants, but share one very important characteristic with them - they take light from the sun and convert it into energy. (Humans can't do this - this is why you have to eat your veggies!)
Diatoms float in the top few meters of the oceans (and lakes, for that matter - which is part of the reason why not ALL oil comes from ocean deposits!) and also happen to be a major source of food for many forms of ocean swimmers.


Their skeletons are chemically very similar to sand - in fact, they are made of the same material (silica). Diatoms produce a kind of oil by themselves - both to store chemical energy from photosynthesis and to increase their ability to float. But this small amount of oil still needs to become concentrated and mature before it can be taken from the ground and used as fuel.

Okay got that? Now for number 2.

Second: Where does coal come from?



From The Kentucky Division of Mine Permits:
Coal is formed when peat is altered physically and chemically. This process is called "coalification." During coalification, peat undergoes several changes as a result of bacterial decay, compaction, heat and time.


Peat deposits are quite varied and contain everything from pristine plant parts (roots, bark, spores, etc.) to decayed plants, decay products and even charcoal if the peat caught fire during accumulation.


Peat deposits typically form in a waterlogged environment where plant debris accumulated; peat bogs and peat swamps are examples. In such an environment, the accumulation of plant debris exceeds the rate of bacterial decay of the debris. The bacterial decay rate is reduced because the available oxygen in organic-rich water is completely used up by the decaying process. Anaerobic (without oxygen) decay is much slower than aerobic decay.

For the peat to become coal, it must be buried by sediment. Burial compacts the peat and, consequently, much water is squeezed out during the first stages of burial. Continued burial and the addition of heat and time cause the complex hydrocarbon compounds in the peat to break down and alter in a variety of ways. The gaseous alteration products (methane is one) are typically expelled from the deposit, and the deposit becomes more and more carbon-rich as the other elements disperse. The stages of this trend proceed from plant debris through peat, lignite, sub-bituminous coal, bituminous coal, anthracite coal to graphite (a pure carbon mineral). 

Okay got that? Now, on to the point:

Oil, coal and other "fossil" fuels are derived from the remnants of ancient plants and animals. I know this seems like a pedestrian point but it is critical to understand. Once you realize where these fuels came from the whole "climate change" argument breaks down.

You see we are not introducing some new and insidious chemical compound into a once pristine atmosphere. We are simply releasing carbon that was removed from the atmosphere by ancient living organisms.

All of the carbon contained within fossil fuels was once in the atmosphere. The carbon was captured by living organisms and stored. Those organisms died and were subsequently turned into oil or coal by natural processes. The carbon has always been here.

Now I understand that the Earth was a more tropical place then (hotter). But I also understand that plants and animals thrived in that climate. Were sea levels higher then, maybe, but plants and animals thrived. There were lush tropical jungles and innumerable varieties of plants.

Are you with me so far? The carbon was there and the world was fine. In fact think about this; the world was covered in tropical jungles. That means there was a food supply large enough to support an enormous population of dinosaurs. The cooling and "drying" of the Earth resulted in larger areas of deserts and places where the colder climate limits growing seasons. That means a more limited food supply.

Read none of this to imply that I think we should destroy our planet through reckless behavior. Read it to mean that I think the anthropogenic global warming argument is overblown. We have had a planet with much higher carbon content in the atmosphere than we do today. In that carbon rich environment the world did not die, it thrived.

10 comments:

  1. "You see we are not introducing some new and insidious chemical compound into a once pristine atmosphere. We are simply releasing carbon that was removed from the atmosphere by ancient living organisms"

    Correct. However, it was removed and concentrated underground throughout the entire 2-3 billion year history of life on Earth, and we are digging it up and releasing it straight into the atmosphere all at once, in geologic time.

    Also, we no longer have the lush, planet-wide jungle to remove it from the atmosphere, so it's there to stay.

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  2. "You see we are not introducing some new and insidious chemical compound into a once pristine atmosphere. We are simply releasing carbon that was removed from the atmosphere by ancient living organisms."

    Exactly the point you ignorant fool. Carbon which should remain trapped in the ground, not in the atmosphere, is being released. We have had much more carbon added to the atmosphere since said carbon was stored under ground in fossil fuels, by releasing the stored carbon we are reintroducing ancient carbon into the natural carbon cycle and accelerating the change caused by natural temperature cycles. That is the problem.

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  3. To Jason Sanchez: by what mechanism was carbon removed from the atmosphere 2-3 billion years ago? Pretty sure there was no plant or animal life in that time period. On the contrary carbon was being spewed into the atmosphere by volcanoes. Do you think its possible we no longer have lush jungles because we no longer have higher concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere?

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  4. To Bryan Perkins: I usually delete ad hominem attacks but you are your own worst enemy. Please explain where the data exists on the complexities of the "current carbon cycle"? We only have recorded temperatures for about 130 years. That seems a bit incomplete to be drawing conclusions from. If the data were so compelling I fail to see why IPCC scientist would have to fabricate emergencies to substantiate their findings. It seems the evidence would be overwhelming and obvious. Since it is not I must conclude that the findings are less than sound.

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  5. interesting article

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  6. very nice article, and useful thanks admin

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  7. Excellent article, up until reading it I actually believed that oil came from dinosaurs, haha! Of course this global warming this is a load of BS, it's just an excuse for those in power to grab even more power.

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  8. Lets see i futures how the global warming will affect human health

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  9. I don think so that global warming is good for environment.

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  10. Some would say global warming is bad coz it will rain so hard that your house would be below water, it will also burn your skin since there would be too much sun no atmospheric filter. Good for some coz on those hot nations near the equator they will feel colder which would make their life better. Can you imagine people in Africa wearing a jacket?

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