Saturday, January 3, 2015

CO2 Concentration Exceeds 400 ppm

A significant milestone was passed in May, 2013 when the the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere exceeded 400 parts per million (400 ppm) for the first time in recorded history. This was the highest CO2 concentration in more than 800,000 years. Despite the significance of the event, deniers downplayed it by saying it crossed over the 400 ppm threshold only 'briefly.' There was some truth to that because it stayed above 400 ppm for only a few days before it began it annual decline. But, where were these people when it stayed over 400 ppm for about four months in 2014?

Now, the bad news is we have already reached the 400 ppm level this year. The daily average reading from January 1, 2015 was for 400.37 ppm.

Source: SIO

NOAA actually reports it as 401.56 ppm. We can expect it to fluctuate up and down, so it won't stay above 400 and, in fact, NOAA reports the level as 399.91 ppm for January 2nd. But, the earliest it reached this level in 2013 was in May. The earliest it reached this level in 2014 was March. And, now we are seeing this level in January. There can be no doubt we are nearing the time when the CO2 level will never again drop below 400 ppm. My guess? 2016 will be the last year that will ever have CO2 levels less than 400 ppm. At least, for the next thousand years, or more. Here is the two-year plot of CO2 levels as measured at Mauna Loa, Hawaii.
Source: SIO

But don't forget, the new fossil fuel industry tactic is to tell you this is a good thing and we should be doing more of it. What do you think?


  1. I am deleting this comment because you continued to be a religious bigot. If you would like to repost it in a civil manner, it will be accepted.

  2. Anyone arguing excess CO2 is "a good thing" without showing multiple lines of peer-reviewed scientific evidence is committing an "argument from ignorance" at worst, or arguing from insufficient evidence at least.

  3. Just so I'm clear, Andrews cited to an irrelevant law and then mischaracterized that law so that it supported an untruth? My undergrad degree was English, not physics, but it seems to me that nightime temperatures on Venus would be the controlling data to answer questions about Venus's greenhouse gas situation. If you have time, Professor, maybe you could do a walk-through for those of us who can read, but not calculate the equations, about how he got it wrong?

  4. The way he got it wrong was that the equation is applied to a dynamic situation. In other words, the equation would apply if we were taking the Venusian atmosphere and changing it from 90 atmospheres to one. But, that isn't what he is doing. He is trying to compare the Venusian atmosphere with a pressure of 90 atmospheres to a separate atmosphere (Earth's) at 1 atmosphere. The work to change the atmosphere was never done.

    To put it into perspective, I can take a cylinder and pressurize the air in it to 90 atm. Once pressurized, I can refrigerate that cylinder, with the air in it, to any temperature I want. The fact there is pressurized air does nothing to the temperature. It could be hot or it could be cold. But, if I was to open the valve and allow that pressurized air to expand to one atmosphere then it would drop in temperature by a factor of 90.

    Mr. Andrews was not doing any work to drop the pressure, therefore there can be no change in temperature. Unfortunately (or maybe, fortunately) the only way the atmosphere of Venus could expand by a factor of 90 would be to destroy the planet and remove the gravity field.

    Does that help?

  5. It is a desperate attempt by the fossil fuel industry to try and convince people that they are our friends.

  6. When you say he did no work to drop the temperature, do you mean he ignored the fact that a planet in the solar system isn't a closed system? Or do you mean there is some physics that could be calculated to isolate the CO2, but that would ignore real world realities?

    I hope to leave private practice this year and study calculus and physics on my way toward a second career in public sector law. I won't always be so obtuse, I promise.

  7. There is nothing obtuse in your questions. Good luck with the new career. It sounds exciting.

    What I mean when I say he did not work is that no energy was put into the system, or taken out of it. If the atmosphere of Venus was to expand to 90 times as big, some action would be needed to do that and that action would require the movement of energy, either into or out of the system. That is what we call work in physics.

    He compared the atmosphere of Venus to the atmosphere of Earth and assumed one could become the other without the movement of any energy. That is what is required in the equation he used. There is no action taking place in his calculations, therefore, the results are not scientifically valid.

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