Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Problem with CO2

"The dangers of carbon dioxide? Tell that to a plant, how dangerous carbon dioxide is," 
Rick Santorum

"I am strongly opposed to the President’s misguided attempts to regulate carbon in direct contravention of the will of Congress. Carbon dioxide is not a “pollutant” and I will seek an amendment to the Clean Air Act that makes this clear. " 
Mitt Romney

"But there isn’t even one study that can be produced that shows carbon dioxide is a harmful gas. There isn’t one such study because carbon dioxide is not a harmful gas, it is a harmless gas. Carbon dioxide is natural. It is not harmful. It is part of Earth’s life cycle. "
Michele Bachmann

"George, the idea that carbon dioxide is a carcinogen that is harmful to our environment is almost comical. Every time we exhale, we exhale carbon dioxide. Every cow in the world, you know, when they do what they do, you’ve got more carbon dioxide." 
John Boehner

Carbon dioxide is totally natural.  We all exhale it, plants consume it during photosynthesis, so why are some people trying to limit it?  You keep hearing people telling you that we need to limit CO2 emissions and that we have to reduce our Carbon footprint, so why this vendetta against CO2?  A friend of mine thinks he knows.  After years of listening to Alex Jones, he has it all figured out - THEY want to label CO2 a "pollutant" so THEY can tax you for breathing!  (Also it's probably going to be used to justify their sinister plot to kill all humans)

So is that true?  In a word, no.  That is not why scientists are warning us against our excessive CO2 emissions.  They aren't claiming that CO2 is dangerous to make money, they are saying that because it poses a very real threat to the world.  How can it pose a threat?  Isn't it both natural and non-toxic?  Yes, it's natural but so is cyanide.  Yes it's non-toxic but so is water and that kills a LOT of people every year.  Those aren't very good argument for the harmlessness of CO2.  So why then? 

The reason there is concern about CO2 levels (and not for instance Nitrogen levels) is because carbon dioxide is really really good at absorbing and trapping heat.  Simple as that.  Here, I'll let the scientists explain:

That's the problem with CO2 - it traps heat on earth and if we have too much of it, it will trap too much heat.

But OK, if you don't believe in Climate Change then you probably don't believe in scientists with all their science either.  After all, if you believe that they are lying through their teeth about Global Warming then how can you believe anything they tell or show you?  It could all be a trick!

Well, you're in luck.  The heat trapping ability of CO2 isn't some esoteric scientific principle that only those with a 5th degree High Exalted Science Dragon qualification can demonstrate!  You can do it too!  Right now!  At home!!  All you need is:

2 Identical clear containers
2 Identical thermometers
2 Identical heat sources (like incandescent bulbs)
a source of CO2.  A gas cylinder used to carbonate drinks would work fine OR go old school and use baking soda and vinegar to make your own CO2

Step 1:  Set up a thermometer and a heat source in each container.  It should go without saying that the heat source cannot be a candle but I'm saying it anyway.
Step 2:  Fill one of the containers with CO2.
Step 3:  Turn on your heat sources, leave for 5 to 10 minutes and compare the readings on the thermometers.  Then turn off both heat sources, leave for 5 to 10 minutes and take readings again.

What did you observe?

If you'd like a visual demonstration of the experiment, here is a video showing it:

So who are you going to believe?  Right Wing politicians or your own lying eyes?

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