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Antarctica Fact File |
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|1/ Global warming is just a theory and scientists disagree about whether it is happening and whether it is anything to do with human activity.|
There is a very strong scientific agreement in the scientific community that global warming is happening and that it is a result of man's activities in releasing carbon into the atmosphere that was locked away for millions of years in fossil fuels.
The evidence that the earth is warming is overwhelming
There will always be people who argue the opposite to any idea and they are vital to avoid blind adherence to what may turn out to be incorrect and to encourage further investigation and refinement of ideas.
There comes a point however where an alternative idea becomes something only considered by the occasional maverick (and don't mavericks love the idea of being a maverick?) and then just becomes something that isn't considered seriously any more.
There is also the fact that many of the articles that doubt global warming are sponsored by the oil and related industries.
Many who doubt mans influence on global warming by releasing carbon dioxide from fossil fuels are driven by a dislike of taxes that are being raised by politicians as a result. Arguments frequently start with not wanting to pay tax and end up with deciding global warming is not happening.
|2/ The amount of carbon dioxide hasn't risen enough and there is only a tiny amount of it anyway - it can't possibly make any difference.|
of atmospheric CO2 has gone from 0.0284% to 0.0382%
between 1832 and 2007. That's a 0.0099% increase in
the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, or an approx
35% rise in the amount of CO2 compared to pre-industrial
That part of the atmosphere
known as the stratosphere is 50km thick (the atmosphere
goes beyond this to 690m, the edge of the "thermosphere"
and beyond, but this will do for now).
If the ozone above our heads were collected together in a continuous layer it would be about 3mm thick (1/8th of an inch). Hard to believe? but true, by comparison 0.0382% at 19.2m is a huge thick duvet.
|3/ Global warming can't be true as the temperature in some places is stable or falling.|
Global warming models differ as to the exact effects of where and to what extent temperatures will change, but they all have one thing in common - that the effect of global warming is not uniform.
Different parts of the world react in different ways and one of them is that in the early stages (where we are now) the temperature in some parts of the world will actually fall or at least remain stable which is what is being observed. Eventually as warming advances, then most or all parts of the world will rise in temperature, though again - not at a uniform rate.
|4/ Global warming is a good thing as I don't like the cold.|
from a egocentric point of view it could be a good thing.
I live in the UK and many projections show that this will
increasingly become a more predictably warm, more attractive
and more pleasant place to live.
The areas that benefit however will be greatly outweighed by the parts of the earth that become too hot and dry to inhabit and by coastal towns and cities, including some of the worlds greatest cities that may be flooded and so have to be abandoned.
Hundreds of millions of people could suffer from global warming, the winners will be a small proportion by comparison.
|5/ Volcanoes contribute most of the CO2 released into the atmosphere each year.|
1% of annual CO2 emissions come from volcanoes.
|6/ The ozone hole causes global warming.|
|The ozone hole
is the result of a loss of ozone in the upper levels of
the stratosphere which reduces the ability of the atmosphere
to absorb harmful ultra-violet light from the sun. This
is caused mainly by a group of chemicals called CFC's.
The hole in the ozone layer is a different problem with different causes to global warming.
|7/ If you do the sums, it just doesn't add up, we don't produce enough carbon dioxide to make any kind of difference.|
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 in the air is around 0.04%. 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.
It has been doing so since the industrial revolution and is currently outside of any observed natural cycle:
How much carbon dioxide is released by a car?
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.
It means that for a petrol (gasoline) car, the mass of CO2 emitted 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 tank, 50L of petrol weighs about 37kg, this is the equivalent of 111kg of carbon dioxide being released per tank full.
If we take a car that emits a rather frugal 135g/km of CO2 emission, we can work backwards from the figure of of CO2 and assuming perfect combustion of octane (mostly what petrol is C8H18), this figure is equivalent to 59 miles per gallon, which is actually pretty optimistic!
|8/ The extra water vapour created by kettles, showers, baths (swimming and bathing types), steam jet cleaning, car washes, cooling towers, industry, angry teachers etc. contribute to global warming.|
|Water vapour in the atmosphere
is a result of temperature and dewpoint,
if I try to kick it out into the atmosphere but the physics
doesn't work it condenses out, carbon dioxide doesn't
work like that.
Water vapour may add to the effects of global warming by adding to the earth's heat retentive blanket in a positive feedback effect. More carbon dioxide means warmer temperatures, means more water vapour in the air, means warmer temperatures. Water vapour alone is not the reason for global warming and certainly not the starting point.
|9/ Carbon dioxide released from fizzy drinks released is a contributing factor to Global Warming.|
|The good news is that
nearly all industrial carbon dioxide is reclaimed from processes
that release it in the first place rather than generate
it specifically for another use - so it is nearly always
Of course that does
mean that it has been released, but it's cutting down
on the amount a little at least.
|10/ Exercise produces carbon dioxide, so if I don't do any I'm helping the planet|
|We breathe out carbon
in carbon dioxide as a by-product of respiration, the more
we respire the more we produce.
This carbon came from the food we ate and is a part of the natural carbon cycle whereby plants and animals are balanced. It does not contribute to global warming as it will be recycled when it is taken in by a plant for photosynthesis.
The problem with carbon dioxide and global warming comes from carbon released from fossil fuels where the carbon has lain locked up in a carbon-sink for many millions of years and is now released into the atmosphere. If we didn't burn fossil fuels (or make cement) then mankind would pretty much carbon-neutral - as we were before the industrial revolution.
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