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CO2, Climategate, the Oceans and Other Musings

Posted by: Mike Dunmyer

The Copenhagen climate conference opens this week with great complexity and uncertain expectations.  Negotiations will be impacted by international wealth disparities, views of economic growth and infrastructure maturity, as well as by arguments about blame and entitlement.  Amid all this noise, the “Climategate” scandal has broken.  Oil producing nations (such as Saudi Arabia) and oil interests are using it to throw a wrench in the proceedings.  A number of articulate responses to the skeptics have been published, but alas, the chatter continues.

Now, I do believe in global warming, and I believe it could have devastating impacts, but there are plenty of intelligent people who don’t hold these views. I’ve made the argument I’m about to make before, but with Climategate and Copenhagen, it seems important to make it again.  Climate science is complex and still evolving, offering opportunities for skeptics to sew seeds of doubt.  The science of water chemistry, on the other hand, is well understood and undebatable, and water chemistry says that when you add CO2 to the ocean, it becomes more acidic.  This threatens the base of the food web, which ultimately threatens human survival.

So, whether or not global warming is really happening?  Doesn’t matter.  It’s all about the oceans, baby, and to stop ocean acidification, we need to significantly reduce CO2 emissions.

If you want to make it about climate, let’s look at the extreme possibilities.  In one scenario, global warming isn’t real, but we act to cut carbon emissions.  In another, global warming is real, and we fail to act.  In the first scenario, we still have cleaner air (which is good, right?), a robust sustainable energy platform with associated economic growth, and we improve national security by commoditizing oil.  In the second scenario, we’re screwed.  Which would you prefer?

Here’s hoping good things happen at Copenhagen this week.

Date Posted: December 7, 2009 @ 9:30 am Comments Off


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