Thursday, October 15, 2009

Is there a connection between CO2 and global warming?

If you read blogs today from the Blog Action Day 2009: Climate Change, there is almost an equal sign between:
  • AGW
  • CO2
  • Climate change
Why? If you look at "The Science of Global Warming in Perspective" the result is that the increase of CO2 from 300 ppm to 400 ppm has a ridiculously low impact on the temperature as CO2 is not very good as a "green house gas". But on the other hand, it is possible through various methods to find out variations on CO2 and temperature over a very long time span. In "Last Time Carbon Dioxide Levels Were This High: 15 Million Years Ago, Scientists Report" it is reported on how this data was extracted from ocean sediments giving an unprecedented look into the history. I must first of all congratulate to this amazing achievement, it is most outstanding! A work well done.

I have no reason to question the correctness of the result. There may be measurement errors or problems with this method, but it is less relevant at this point. The outcome is that there is a correlation between CO2 and the temperature! This is very important result and this is essentially what everyone working with climate research is also claiming.

OK, so we know that there have been a natural, i.e., not man made, change that have affected the levels of CO2 and the temperature. We of course also know this from the fact that there have been ice ages and times when there have been less or no ice at all in the Arctic and Antarctica.

If the previous climate changes were not man made, what caused it and why is there a correlation between temperature (T) and CO2? I have four different suggestions:
  1. T & CO2 are independent of each other: There exists an unknown parameter X. This parameter changes over time by some external force. Both T and CO2 will both increase and decrease in the same manner based on changes of X (i.e., T = f(X) and CO2 = g(X)).
  2. T depends of CO2: The global warming concept. When CO2 rises, T will also rise. An open question that remains to be answered is what causes changes of CO2 if it's not man made?
  3. CO2 depends on T: When temperature rise, the amount of CO2 will increase. One possible explanation for this is all the CO2 stored in the oceans. When the temperature rise, the oceans will release more CO2 compared to when it is colder. Just as your carbonated soft drink will lose all the bubbles when being placed in sun light. But what would increase the temperature? Most of the energy reaching the Earth is from the Sun. It is a huge amount of energy! There are some different changes worth considering: changes in Earth's orbit around the Sun and changes in Sun's radiation.
  4. CO2 & T depends on each other: If you combine all the 3 first you will get T = f(CO2,X) and CO2 = g(T,X).
At this point you really have to do some thinking of your own :-) To be honest, this is not easy, and that is probably one of the reasons why there is no conclusive result that explains current climate changes.

But one thing i very, very strange. Assuming that CO2 is what is driving climate changes, why are "everyone" focusing on reducing the man made CO2? The maximum amount of CO2 emissions that can be reduced are still small, and almost insignificant, compared to natural sources. Why are we not focusing on reducing the natural CO2 emissions instead?

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