Guest Column – Questions related to global warming – Portland Press Herald – Press Herald
I’m a retired pastor, but my undergraduate degree was environmental science (Penn State, ’74). Back then, water vapor was considered the prominent green house gas. Several years ago, I wondered, where has it gone? I took an afternoon to read and found articles in Encyclopedia Britannica, American Chemistry Society and NASA. All said, it is still by far most prominent. I have read many others since then. Why isn’t water vapor being discussed?
A few years ago, I attended a lecture by a University of New Hampshire climatologist. During the Q & A, I asked, since 400 ppm of CO2 in the atmosphere is only .04 percent, how can something so tiny have an impact? He said, you don’t need much arsenic to poison a person. More recently I read a Columbia University prof who used cyanide to answer the same question.
Far from poison, CO2 is a miracle molecule. It is why New England is green. But wait, the human contribution to atmospheric CO2 is only 3-4 percent of the total. That is only 12-16 ppm.
Several years ago, I read a 1970 study of auto emissions. CO2 was not listed. I realized, of course, the internal combustion engine produces CO not CO2. So how do you get CO2 from CO? One needs a catalyst and heat. Wow, since 1975 the EPA has required auto manufacturers to convert (catalytic converter) CO into water vapor and CO2, the two prominent green house gases. If CO2 is evil, why does the government require its production?
Even if one believes human beings significantly contribute to atmospheric CO2, without China’s and India’s cooperation, the West’s efforts are worthless. We have significant emission controls on our fossil fuel power plants, they do not.
In 2017, the US hit a record 67 year low for CO2 emissions. Hum, I missed the weeklong celebrations. On a recent trip to Alaska, I learned that last winter they had record snow. The ski resort where we stayed received 840 inches. I’m an avid skier, but I didn’t even see that in the ski press. While the US and Europe are having a heat wave, South America is having a very cold winter and they did last winter. I never saw that reported in the media.
I don’t believe humans are impacting global warming in terms of CO2. But we can have a negative impact. I’m reading a book by a local author who discusses the mega dams of Hydro Quebec, Russia and elsewhere. By preventing spring outflow into oceans and preventing winter freezing, these projects have ecological impacts and perhaps atmospheric effects.
Tom White is a Kennebunk resident. He can be reached at [email protected]
Comments are not available on this story.