What if carbon dioxide isn't causing climate change?

There are arguments that carbon dioxide emissions are not the sole cause of climate change. If that is the case, what practical difference does it make?

What if carbon dioxide isn't causing climate change?

There are still people around who doubt the linkage between increasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and increaing global temperatures. However, even if they are right, we still need to invest time and money in energy efficiency measures.

There are a number of schools of opinion about Climate Change: -

1) Climate Change is not happening.

Well, the evidence of measurements all over the world and receding glaciers seem fairly conclusive but even if we're not getting warmer there are still reasons why we should try to use less energy.

a) Fossil fuels are being used up at a rate of thousands (or millions?) of times faster than they are being created. If we want our descendants to have any to use as chemical feedstocks or for a multitude of other purposes we'd better stop wasting them now (as a soon to be grandfather that is very important to me).

b) Wasting energy is spending money you don't need to - that's just plain stupid under any circumstance.

2) Climate change is part of a natural cycle and has nothing to do with our activity.

Well, apart from the fact that all the climate graphs show descending temperatures until the Industrial Revolution and rising ones after and that carbon dioxide is higher now than has been the above, the above comments apply.

3) Climate Change is caused by the heat we emit.

Well, that would seem to correlate with the movement of glaciers in the less populated Southern Hemisphere (but that might be due to changing sea currents and airflows) but it doesn't really matter (and the numbers don't seem to work if it is the only factor). We can reduce the effect by taking most of the same measures as for carbon emission reduction.

Reducing energy wastage will normally also reduce heat emissions. The one difference is that if this is the cause there is no point to Carbon Capture and Storage.

4) Water vapour is the culprit. 

Lots of learned bodies (like NASA and the University of Miami) have implicated water vapour as a cause or an amplifier of climate change. Well, that actually makes very little difference. Much of the water we place into the atmosphere (and its presence is transitory and it merely increases the volume of the water cycle) is as a result of the combustion of hydrocarbons where the output is carbon dioxide and water vapour. So reducing carbon emissions also reduces water production....

Condensing boilers etc. obviously help more in this scenario (they are designed to reduce the amount of water vapour emitted to retrieve the latent heat from it), but CCS is still pointless.

One thing that does change in this scenario (and possibly means I and others have been misguided through our careers) is the choice of the best fuel to reduce climate change. If this is the correct causation factor then we should choose the HIGHEST Carbon Fuel (Coal/Coke) rather than lower ones like natural gas (more hydrogen per kWh) and the hydrogen economy would be a real mistake!

My Conclusions... Well, whatever of the possibilities above is correct the same basic actions follow to any sensible person: you reduce energy wastage and even if you don't affect climate change (and you probably will), you save money and conserve resources. Simples.

Andy Clarke

Topics: edie
Tags: carbon capture | coal | Energy Efficiency | fossil fuels | gas | hydrogen | Natural gas | opinion | water
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