Cleaning up the climate debate (3) there is no such thing as “carbon pollution”

School children who know that CO2 is colourless will wonder what the adults are up to when they depict “carbon pollution” with images like these 58 polluting smokestacks sunset stock images available royalty-free. The individual shots have captions to clarify the message. This is a nice one.

Air pollution clip art. Smokestack pollution clip art.

And there is more, pretty much the same thing.

But seriously folks, it is not appropriate to talk about carbon pollution. The gas is colourless, a vanishingly small fraction of the atmosphere and indeed very close to the minimum required for flourishing plant growth.

Carbon is a universal component of organic (living) things, thanks to its atomic structure with a valency of 4 (think of four matches sticking out of a billiard ball or a ball of putty) so it can form a lot of stable linkages, hence the long chain molecules of proteins and DNA etc.

So please don’t think so badly about carbon and CO2!

Of course genuine soot used to come out of steam engines and it was not advised to hang washing outside if you lived near the railway line.

Travel notes. On my last day in New Zealand it occurs that I might have notified NZ Cats (if there are any) of my movements in case we could catch up. Cats in the vicinity of Queen Street Auckland could catch up this evening.

This entry was posted in Global warming and climate change policy, Rafe. Bookmark the permalink.

33 Responses to Cleaning up the climate debate (3) there is no such thing as “carbon pollution”

  1. Dr Fred Lenin

    I remeber the ads on tv where blachet and r=the dickhead with the mo “actorist” were standing in front of black belching smoke stacks doing their SJW crap . The stacks pictured were of Battersea Power station London,on checking on the net it seems Battersea was decommissioned when blanchet was in grade 3 and dickhead was starting secondary school,these middle aged tossers were putting the story this was current . Veracity,one of the globalists Forbidden things . You

  2. Bruce of Newcastle

    Green voters breathe out carbon pollution with every breath. Yet they never seem to take the logical action to save the planet from their exhalations. It’s a mystery.

  3. a happy little debunker

    It’s a mystery

    Not a mystery at all – they just want you to stop exhaling, permanently!

  4. Sinclair Davidson

    Isn’t this a bit trivial?

  5. Mark M

    Yay for rubisco!

    Rubisco has one job.
    It picks up carbon dioxide from the air, and it uses the carbon to make sugar molecules.
    It gets the energy to do this from the sun.
    This is photosynthesis, the process by which plants use sunlight to make food, a foundation of life on Earth.
    Yay for Rubisco!

    Scientists Have ‘Hacked Photosynthesis’ In Search Of More Productive Crops

    https://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2019/01/03/681941779/scientists-have-hacked-photosynthesis-in-search-of-more-productive-crops

  6. OldOzzie

    Global Warming Strikes Again

    Winter storm blasts Europe killing at least 13 amid heavy snowfall


    Berlin | Deadly winter weather has blasted Europe this week, trapping hundreds of people in Alpine regions, whipping up high winds that caused flight cancellations and increasing the risks of more deadly avalanches.

    At least 13 people have been killed in weather-related accidents in Europe over the last week, most of them from avalanches.

    In Greece, schools in Athens and many surrounding areas remained closed after snow blanketed the capital, dusting the Acropolis in white. Some rural mountain roads were also closed.

    Dozens of refugees housed in tents at a migrant camp in northern Greece protested their harsh living conditions as temperatures in some areas sunk to minus 20 degrees Celsius. Snow was even reported on many of Greece’s islands.

    As much as 2.5 metres of snow was reported to have fallen on some Alpine ski resorts in Austria.

    In Norway, attempts to find the bodies of four skiers were again put on hold due to poor visibility and heavy snowfall. A 29-year Swedish woman and three Finns, aged 29, 32 and 36, were presumed dead after a 300-meter wide avalanche hit a valley near the northern city of Tromsoe last week.

    Romanian police on Tuesday found the frozen body of a 67-year-old man in a parking lot in the southern city of Slatina after his wife reported he hadn’t returned from work. Temperatures in Romania plunged to a low of minus 24 Celsius.

    In Austria, hundreds of residents were stuck in their homes due to blocked roads and some regions experienced power outages after snow-laden trees took down power lines.

    Schools in some Austrian regions remained closed for a second day and homeowners were advised to remove snow from their roofs after several buildings collapsed. One 78-year-old man was severely injured when he fell off his roof in Turrach while shovelling snow, Austrian public broadcaster ORF reported.

    On Monday night, 11 German hikers had to be rescued by mountaineers from a cabin near Salzburg, after having been snowed in without electricity and little food since Friday. Other people have also been killed by avalanches in Switzerland, Austria and Germany, and authorities warned that continuing snowfall is increasing the risk of more avalanches.

    In the northern coastal German city of Hamburg, residents were preparing for a storm flood caused by a winter gale, the German news agency dpa reported.

    In the Netherlands, Amsterdam’s busy Schiphol Airport had about 25 per cent of its flights cancelled on Tuesday. Dutch carrier KLM canceled 159 flights to and from European destinations. Flight cancellations were also reported in Slovakia.

    Low-lying Dutch coastal regions were being hit by strong winds and wild seas, and local water authorities were checking dikes holding back all that water to make sure they were not damaged.

    The Noorderzijlvest water authority said it was monitoring dikes because of debris floating in the sea after 281 shipping containers tumbled off a cargo ship in a storm last week. Many of the containers are still at sea and some have broken open.

    “A fridge or container that is rammed against a dike can cause damage,” the authority said.

    Heavy snowfall and strong winds were reported Tuesday over central Scandinavia, hampering efforts to restore electricity that had gone out after another storm swept through on January 2.

  7. Boambee John

    Rafe

    seriously folks, it is not appropriate to talk about carbon pollution

    Actually, it is. That is the actual carbon (particulate) pollution that has been exacerbated by the previous obsession of the rabid greenies with diesel engines.

    While these are supposed to emit less CO2 than petrol engines, they emit more carbon particulates. Real, genuine, carbon pollution!

  8. JohnA

    Sinclair Davidson #2903183, posted on January 10, 2019, at 10:12 am

    Isn’t this a bit trivial?

    What – false information such as depicting cooling towers as sources of pollution? Trivial?

    And looking at the depiction of chimneys I begin to wonder about Photoshop – remembering the fake photos of rocket attacks and destroyed ambulances from the Middle East some years ago.

    I look around Melbourne during my various travels east and west but I do not see smoke (“pollution”) belching from any forest of chimneys as depicted. Cruise around Newport and Altona and I suggest that the imagery is not matched by reality.

    To bring a philosophical angle to this, there is not “my truth” vs “your truth” vs the “green truth”, as if the anti-industrialists can claim “their truth” is whatever is necessary to present the argument they want (aka manipulation and propaganda).

    There is Truth – and then there is Falsehood.

  9. Rafe

    The lies driving energy policy are trivial?
    Like the trivial ideas of the forgotten Frankfurt School.

  10. Mark M

    This might be of interest …

    Activists from the yellow vest movement, which started with protests over fuel tax increases, recommended the massive cash withdrawals on social media.

    https://www.apnews.com/c8646ad291c440978c5d8a260a11d454

  11. The BigBlueCat

    Sinclair Davidson
    #2903183, posted on January 10, 2019 at 10:12 am
    Isn’t this a bit trivial?

    No, not trivial at all. The premise behind CAGW is that the increase in atmospheric CO2 since the industrial revolution is having a significant impact on climate systems via the “greenhouse” mechanism. The calculated resultant global warming, we are told, will have catastrophic effects. Yet the warming isn’t statistically significant (nor are any of the supposed catastrophic downsides), and CO2 is an atmospheric gas required to sustain life on earth – plants particularly benefit more higher concentrations of CO2. There is no increase in catastrophic weather events – but the events that do happen cause more damage because there is more to be damaged – it’s not CO2’s fault! The alarmists have even blamed earthquakes on CO2!!

    If the matter of CO2 being a demon gas that, at previously historical levels, will cause all sorts of problems (when in the past they didn’t) can be effectively debunked, then developed countries will be more able to provide cheap, efficient energy and help under-developed countries do the same. Once undeveloped countries reach a good level of development, and governmental corruption in those countries properly dealt with, then they can enjoy the benefits of a strong economy just as we do. That will also go a long way to solving the mass immigration problems.

    If CO2 in-an-of itself is not a pollutant, but a gas necessary for life, then let’s address the lie. Sure, CO2 will kill you in sufficient quantities (ie. when it takes the place of oxygen), but even at 1000 ppm we are not at risk of asphyxiation. The average conference room (or in your case, Sinc, lecture theatre) full of people is likely to be at that level.

    We’d be better off spending trillions in helping poor countries address their lack of economic development, government corruption, water shortages, medical and education needs directly than by UN-mandated stealth. At least that way we are addressing most of the worst conditions that directly impacts human lives now, rather than some “what if” scenario that can’t be quantified or impacted by reducing CO2 emissions from man-made sources.

    The poor in Africa, Asia, South America, etc don’t care about how much CO2 Australia is producing, they are more concerned about water, food production, medical support and other existential issues.

  12. The BigBlueCat

    Unless someone does a chemical analysis of the “smoke” coming from the chimneys and cooling towers, they have no evidential basis for claiming these emissions are CO2. Clearly many of the images are of cooling towers producing steam – others are of chimneys where God-knows-what is being emitted (probably water vapour, but possibly sulphides and other gases both harmful and not).

    But to claim these are driving climate change without some form of analysis of the gases is ludicrous – as ludicrous as the claims that man-produced CO2 is having/will have a catastrophic impact given the statistically insignificant global temperature and sea-level increases being reported (despite the over-blown estimates of man-made CO2’s impact on the climate systems).

    I’m all for renewables, but only where there is an economic case based on actual returns rather than some artificial case based on generating fear amongst the ill-informed. What governments fear most are those that can think for themselves. Even then, their desire is to tax them into compliance (just ask Bill Shorten).

  13. jupes

    Isn’t this a bit trivial?

    Looks like Sinc has got his invite to the Bahnisch bbq.

  14. The alacrity with which the MSM pushed the Orwellian expression “carbon pollution” at the time of the Gillard carbon tax was notable.

    It clearly demonstrated the extent to which the media class are willing to be directed by leftist organisations such as GetUp. Like the political class, they are hopelessly compromised on the issue of CAGW.

  15. Ju wanna si pollushun?
    Eh! ju, jes ju, I said ju wanna see pollushun?
    Come an meet my liddle Chyneez frend.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pYqb1x21hWg

    clip is of a Chinese coal train. You know, the ones that get a free pass at least until 2030.

    Trivial eh?
    Fraud, scamming people and committing scientific malfeasance is trivial?
    Only a closeted academic would ask that question.

    Credit where credit is due though. Sinc has advanced so far ahead of us knuckle dragging Neanderthals, it’s like he doesn’t see us anymore.
    We’re like the people living in flyover country. To be tolerated and quietly nudged in the correct direction.

  16. DD

    The BigBlueCat #2903243 at 10:52 am

    I agree with all you describe and your suggested solutions, however, in this we are only treating the symptoms.

    Global warming, mass immigration, the corruption of our young and not so young in the education system, the attempts to destroy the traditional family and remove Christianity from our lives are but tools to enslave the Western Nations and pillage their accumulated wealth.

    We cannot know what motivates so many of our “political class” to embrace these poisonous movements. The pursuit of unbridled Power and the promise of Wealth may play a role but as they continually claim to serve only the interests of the people we must discount this jaundiced view.

    The purportedly liberal appear joined at the hip to the socialists so we might conclude that we, the people of Australia, have been betrayed.

    There are many views expressed on Donald Trump as POTUS but he believes in his country and his obligation to act for the good of America not China, Europe or Australia. The righteousness of this view cannot be challenged, just as President Xi must and does act for the good of China.

    The “politicals” have been virtue signalling in Australia for decades, always seeking to spend OUR money, never their own. They see it as their responsibility to spend Our money to right the wrongs of the whole world. Busybody hypocrites.

    We must vote them all out and deny their party machines our money.

    VOTE FOR AUSTRALIA, NOT FOR THE WORLD.

    Number all squares.
    Independents first.
    Sitting member last.

    Granted there will be panic and mayhem in Canberra for a time but this is the only language they understand and our only weapon.

  17. Tel

    Number all squares.
    Independents first.
    Sitting member last.

    And do a web search on the names, because some “independents” aren’t as independent as they pretend.

  18. Bob in Castlemaine

    There appears to be only one picture amongst them that actually shows genuine particulate smoke “pollution”, the rest simply show water vapour/steam.
    It’s easy to make pictures tell the story you want, e.g. when the Green/Left was demonizing Hazelwood power station we would often see the likes of their ABC showing their version rather than anything close to the reality.

  19. a vanishingly small fraction of the atmosphere and indeed very close to the minimum required for flourishing plant growth.

    I hear this claim a lot. CO2 is like 0.04% of the atmosphere. I don’t get why people are dismissive of small amounts of stuff. It drives nearly all green life on the planet including trillions of plants, but simultaneously isn’t responsible for any significant warming – it is logically contradictory. I’ve read a lot of climate papers, and honestly, I’m not really qualified to write on the subject. However, from a biomedical perspective, to vaccinate a child up to 17 years of age (say 55kg) against a strain of Pneumococcus you need only 2.2μg (2.2 x 10^-9 kg). Your total IgA, G and M antibodies that protect you are IIRC like 200-250mg/dL. We are talking very small amount of proteins (that you can’t see) that enable survival outside a hermetically sealed bubble. You can think of countless other examples (e.g. that cancer is only a small % of your total cells, or don’t worry about having that trace element in your diet etc etc).

    Like I said, I’m not good at climate science, but the “something is small, so it isn’t important” is a logical fallacy, at least pertaining to the biological sciences. Anyway, because I think Rafe makes other good points he should stop arguing this one to enhance his overall credibility.

    Of course genuine soot used to come out of steam engines and it was not advised to hang washing outside if you lived near the railway line.

    Yeah largely agree. It is frustrating to turn on the ABC etc and see talking heads laughing at (for example) Tony Abbott saying CO2 is necessary for plant life. Those guys have swung too far in the opposite direction.

    CO2 is not a pollutant in the same way as say mercury. It won’t kill life or cause human health damage. Solid carbon like soot will do a range of bad stuff. CO2 is kinda like Ozone. Ozone is useful in the upper atmosphere for blocking UV rays and in industry. However, at ground level it is a pollutant and health hazard to people and crops, or so I’m told. CO2 is the same, very important in my work growing stuff in incubators, making dry ice, use in CO2 lasers and greenhouses etc. Similarly, we shouldn’t want too much excess CO2 – currently

    Emitting CO2 as a trade off for economic dynamism is probably a good idea. I think economic growth is a supreme good that I value and I think everyone in this country should value it very highly. That said, I think our current civilization works well at this temperature and relies on biodiversity (insects and their ability to pollinate for example, lots of interesting and useful chemicals and enzymes in nature). We would fare more adversely should their biomass decrease substantially. This is not to say we should eliminate CO2 emissions, we could consider geo-engineering and/or debate whether to let our kids fix the issue – but the current climate suits us well.

    Rafe
    #2903236, posted on January 10, 2019 at 10:47 am

    The lies driving energy policy are trivial?

    The lies driving energy policy is that the climate emergency is so bad, that capitalism has failed and we need to embrace Socialism or die.

    That said, I don’t think the ordinary voter driving this impulse is a liar per se. I think the fear and alarmism driving energy policy from ordinary voters is lack of context. I had a a mate message me the other week, he was having a panic about the Greenland ice sheet melting. Those ice sheets won’t fully melt for another 10-15,000 years at current rates. There is no point having any stress about that event probably in all of our lifetimes. We are far better off advocating policies that increase economic dynamism, freedom and liberty so that our descendants dealing with that issue are 100s or 1000s of times more wealthy and capable of handling that issue.

  20. The BigBlueCat

    DD
    #2903324, posted on January 10, 2019 at 12:00 pm
    The BigBlueCat #2903243 at 10:52 am

    I agree with all you describe and your suggested solutions, however, in this we are only treating the symptoms.
    . . . . . .
    Number all squares.
    Independents first.
    Sitting member last.

    Granted there will be panic and mayhem in Canberra for a time but this is the only language they understand and our only weapon.

    Not our only weapon … but the weapon of last resort is just that. In the meantime, we need to continually disdain the morally bankrupt left who will not listen to reason. We see the vacuous left in the form of the US Democrats, the Australian Labor Party, The Greens, the bedwetting Liberals and Nationals and the various independents who support their policies without joining their membership. They walk the streets under the Antifa banners, and call moderates Nazis and Fascists while employing the tactics of the very same.

    They have infiltrated our cultural institutions, where the long march of the cultural Marxists have moved through our education system, our legal system, our media and entertainment, and our public service. Time for a clean-out – but our ill-informed masses have drunk the kool-aid already. As I said before, what governments fear most are those that can think for themselves. Leftists also.

  21. Terry

    The BigBlueCat
    #2903243, posted on January 10, 2019 at 10:52 am

    “Sure, CO2 will kill you in sufficient quantities…”

    As will Dihydrogen Monoxide. Try going without that for a few hours on a hot summer day.

    By these lofty standards, we should no longer be able to cook our food because: bushfires 😉

  22. Cynic of Ayr

    The example photo.
    The Sun is behind the “emissions”, so anything would appear dark.
    Looks like cooling towers on the right? If so, that’s water!
    Photoshop could easily make the “emissions” look pink! Wonder why they don’t do that? It’s a mystery.

  23. It drives nearly all green life on the planet including trillions of plants, but simultaneously isn’t responsible for any significant warming – it is logically contradictory.

    Not contradictory at all. Just because CO2 drives life, doesn’t necessarily mean it warms the planet. There are countless examples of something being crucial in one area, and totally irrelevant in another. But your point about the dose being small is apt. Small doses of poison can be lethal for example.

    If we were to establish a brand new water planet, like Earth, then we’d need some CO2 to crank up the temperature and melt the ice. But once the ice starts to melt and water vapour rises into the atmosphere, CO2 becomes irrelevant to temperature, but is still vital for life. It’s water in all its states that’s important for the so called greenhouse effect.
    That’s why a desert can go from 50 Deg during the day down to 10 Deg at night (an average of 30 Deg), and Singapore, with all that vapour in the air above and water all around, can go from 32 Deg during the day down to 28 Deg over night (still an average of 30 Deg).

    Water is the driver of the so called greenhouse effect and all it does is moderate the extremes, or narrow the diurnal range if you will. CO2 is near enough to irrelevant and we can’t burn enough fossil fuels to make a difference. 400 ppm or 1000 ppm, we wouldn’t be able to measure the difference in temperature.

  24. JohnA

    Baa Humbug #2903316, posted on January 10, 2019 at 11:53 am

    clip is of a Chinese coal train. You know, the ones that get a free pass at least until 2030.

    That’s an old clip I have seen before.

    The commentary is amateurish. Coal is not carried in boxcars and open fire locos do not go into the coal mines.

    I do not recommend any reliance be placed upon it in this debate.

  25. BoyfromTottenham

    Hasanyone noticed on the ABC TV weather at 7.25 pm they show the low pressure (I think) part of the MSL pressure chart as dark red (as well as the temperature chart)? Why would they do this? Should we be afraid of low barometric pressure as well as high temperatures?

  26. Mark M

    I’m enjoying Anthony from Monash U’s diatribe on carbon (sic).

    I’ll bite on this one …

    “I’ve read a lot of climate papers, and honestly, I’m not really qualified to write on the subject.”

    > Neither is Al Gore, but, it can still get you a Noble. Believe in yourself.

    “Like I said, I’m not good at climate science, but the “something is small, so it isn’t important” is a logical fallacy, at least pertaining to the biological sciences.”

    > Monash U must have a science department, with someone interested/qualified in apocalyptic doomsday global warming as per IPCC to inform you.

    Perhaps another university might be able to help you.

    The conversation is a good place to begin:
    https://theconversation.com/australias-2018-in-weather-drought-heat-and-fire-109575

  27. JohnA
    #2903456, posted on January 10, 2019 at 2:55 pm

    Baa Humbug #2903316, posted on January 10, 2019 at 11:53 am

    clip is of a Chinese coal train. You know, the ones that get a free pass at least until 2030.

    That’s an old clip I have seen before.

    The commentary is amateurish. Coal is not carried in boxcars and open fire locos do not go into the coal mines.

    I do not recommend any reliance be placed upon it in this debate.

    Never rely on any one source, check for yourself.
    Here is an eyewitness account of these trains still working.

    In the itinerary for February 2017, I wrote that steam in Sandaoling would be over unless there was a miracle. But exactly that has happened.

    Never change a working system … the steam railway will continue to run, until 2020. And that’s not all – in 2018 they intend to run state railway wagons down to the pit, replacing some of their open hoppers.

    here is the link
    https://www.farrail.net/pages/touren-engl/Steam-in-china-2018-Sandaoling.php

    My point is that China and other developing nations get a free pass regarding CO2 emissions.
    we’ve been harangued for over 20 years about our emissions. Maybe some of the billions extorted out of us could have been used to help China modernise it’s mining industry and reduce REAL pollution.

  28. Anon Mahnà

    Like I said, I’m not good at climate science, but the “something is small, so it isn’t important” is a logical fallacy,

    Wilfully misrepresenting a correct assertion—that the essential gas carbon monoxide has a minuscule impact on almost nonexistent warming—as a poor “small amounts can’t be dangerous”argument is one of the worst of bad arguments.

  29. I’m enjoying Anthony from Monash U’s diatribe on carbon (sic).

    I’ll bite on this one …

    “I’ve read a lot of climate papers, and honestly, I’m not really qualified to write on the subject.”

    > Neither is Al Gore, but, it can still get you a Noble. Believe in yourself.

    Hehe. Scientists should aim to be more epistemologically humble and resist making bold predictions about the future. I think most are, the issue is that you get the ‘insider’ type journalists filling the void with righteous statements like ‘the science is settled*’ and ‘scientists say we have 12 years to stop climate change**’. While it is likely true that most scientists hold orthodox positions on the wider debates they just tend focus on their own work and lives. Many, many researchers, including PhD students these days are at risk of career extinction from an unproductive 12 months from career destruction and aren’t good at effectively communicating science to lay audiences anyway – so why bother?

    *Like in terms of the basic physics of IR photons interacting with atmospheric gases, there is so much data over 150 years that is pretty settled. But its obviously not perfect otherwise we would have perfectly predictable climate models. There’s plenty of research to do on clouds and climate and in biology we aren’t even entirely sure how many trees there are on the planet etc.

    **You would have to be the most utterly brilliant thinker to generate the empirical data to actually prove that. But the more accurate headline of ‘Ah crap, we are going to use our calculated CO2 budget in 12 years at current rates, so we need to work on some geo-engineering and negative emission technologies in the 2020s’ just doesn’t sell papers I guess.

  30. Dr Fred Lenin

    I often drove along the Latrobe Valley,home of brown coal reliable power generation, on clear witer mornings ,white smoke from a few chimneys steam from cooling towers but absolutely no pollution you could see for miles it was so clear . Mind you in gangrene land Fitzroy etc the pollution was bad always from cars driven by many green public servants on their way to an easy day at the office . The views in South Gippsland used to be great before they were defaced by subsidised windmill bird killers , subsidising the killing of birds ?
    Where is the RSPCA ? Been bought out by the carpetbaggers with taxpayers money ?
    Bloody hypocrycy is rife everywhere today.

  31. Mark M

    “But the more accurate headline of ‘Ah crap, we are going to use our calculated CO2 budget in 12 years at current rates, so we need to work on some geo-engineering and negative emission technologies in the 2020s’ just doesn’t sell papers I guess.”

    Lol. Calculated CO2 budget? Where?
    Negative emissions needed? Garbage.
    12 years? Again?
    Doomsday doesn’t sell papers? Just give em away on a street corner!
    > Didn’t get the the latest IPCC failed doomsday memo at doomsday central, Monash U?

    2017: We Only Have 3 Years Left to Prevent a Climate Disaster, Scientists Warn

    The group, led by former United Nations climate chief and Paris Agreement architect Christiana Figueres, warns in a piece published in the journal Nature that the planet could face unsafe — and irreversible – levels of temperature increases if greenhouse gas emissions do not begin to fall by 2020.

    http://time.com/4839039/climate-change-christiana-figueres-g20/

    Worst Apocalypse. Ever.

  32. BoyfromTottenham

    Perhaps whenever we see a scientist make a climate ‘prediction’ or ‘projection’ we should just ask ‘are you a scientist or an astrologer? Astrologers make predictions and get away with it because they don’t claim to be scientists.’ They can’t have it both ways.

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