The groupthink on CO2 levels ignores some basic science

Views will change as atmospheric CO2 continues to rise with little or no significant change in global temperatures

As an agricultural producer, a former science teacher, and someone who is involved in the delivery of agricultural extension, I would like to submit some comments in relation to Daniel Bezte’s article in the Feb. 13 edition, “Articles on climate change provoke some readers“.

The article’s title is entirely fitting because articles on climate change do indeed provoke some readers — because of their one-sided nature in favour of a belief in anthropogenic (human-caused) climate change.

I also agree with the author that this is an important issue, though for economic and political reasons rather than any dire natural or scientific implications.

“Believe” is a word that appears several times in this article and in similar articles about climate change. I do not wish to antagonize, but the use of these or similar words reflect a lack of understanding of the nature of science.

Science is based on testing and evidence rather than consensus and groupthink. An overwhelming majority of the plethora of climate models that have been put forth over the past 30 years overestimate the influence of changing CO2 levels on global temperature. The truth is that the globe has only experienced a warming of 0.7 C since the late 1970s when ‘scientific consensus’ was focused on concern about global cooling and a coming ice age.

When examining evidence from the distant and more recent past, it is easy to see that climate has always been changing and that those changes often occurred in opposition to the ‘CO2 drives global temperature’ hypothesis. Regarding scientific consensus and groupthink, there are many historical instances where such consensus and belief was wrong. As time goes by and atmospheric CO2 continues to rise with little or no significant change in global temperatures, the current societal paradigm on atmospheric CO2 is bound to change.

The other main point that I would like to address is the bold claim in the article that “the key point of those who believe (there’s that word again) in man-made climate change is that we are putting extreme amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and we need to reduce them.” Again, I disagree with the author: It is anything but extreme.

I call CO2 “the Rodney Dangerfield of Gases,” because it gets no respect. CO2 was at 278 parts per million (ppm) at the beginning of the industrial revolution and it is currently at 400 ppm. Historically, when vascular plants evolved approximately 400 million years ago, the CO2 concentration was between 3,000 and 4,000 ppm. That is over 12 times pre-industrial levels and close to 10 times current levels!

If you look at the photosynthesis reaction in plants as a biochemical reaction, you will notice that CO2 is a reactant and according to Le Chatelier’s principle, if you increase the concentration of a reactant (CO2 or water), you will get more product (oxygen and sugar). This proves true in plant physiology in the real world, as evidenced by the fact that greenhouses actively add CO2 to increase plant growth and crop yield.

Think about this: If we could turn the clock back and instantly dial CO2 levels back to pre-industrial levels, global biomass growth and crop yields would instantly drop by about 25 per cent. On the flip side, if we could instantly increase CO2 to about 1,000 ppm (still only one-quarter or one-third of ancient levels), global biomass growth and crop yields would instantly increase by about 25 per cent.

This will sound sacrilegious to anthropogenic climate change advocates, but maybe it is time for a paradigm shift regarding current thought on atmospheric CO2 levels. If soil carbon is so wonderful (and it is!), why is atmospheric CO2 so terrible?

Maybe it is time to rethink shutting down the coal-fired power plants in Alberta if we can ensure that all NO2 and SO2 are scrubbed out. I am also weary with concern and obsession over CO2 emissions eclipsing real environmental issues such as surface and groundwater contamination, habitat destruction, and soil degradation.

In summary, I find it ironic that the author invokes and relates the idea of not talking about politics and religion to anthropogenic climate change. It is totally true!

The pressure for all of us to fall in line and attempts at propping up the failing anthropogenic climate change hypothesis have essentially created a new religion. Though climatology is a young field historically, proponents have been persistent and very successful in securing the ear of the political and cultural elite of the world. When you look at the Brexit vote results and the recent election to the south along with current events in European countries such as France, Britain, and even Germany, there is an increasingly larger percentage of the public that is no longer buying what they are selling.

Eric Neilson farms near Castor.

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