High Times for the Gas of Life Confuse Mosquitoes, Tories and Ian Plimer
Despite doubts about its ‘validity’ from the likes of the Wildrose Alliance, CO2 or as we like to call it ‘the gas of life’ has been getting a lot of press recently. First, a couple of weeks back, the International Energy Agency announced that in 2010, emissions from electricity generation were the highest ever at over 30 gigatons, eclipsing the previous record set in 2008. The IEA was set up by energy-consuming countries to track and predict possible shortfalls in energy supply, particularly in oil, so it can hardly be said to be an alarmist greenie organization (even though it is based in Paris). The same week, it was determined that the CO2 measured at the NOAA Mauna Loa observatory had the previous week (May 22) reached 394.97 ppm, the highest concentration ever recorded (data here), considerably exceeding its pre-industrial concentration of ~280 ppm.
Then in early June, it emerged that the Canadian government had neglected to include an upward revision of its estimates for 2009 growth in emissions from the oilsands (to 20% over 2008, including a 14.5% rise in ‘emissions intensity’ or emissions per barrel produced) in a report it submitted -- late, just before the Federal election -- to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. It also emerged that the government has explored hiring a PR firm to improve the oilsands’ image while hosting ‘annual retreats’ for its oilsands advocacy team in London to explore ways of fighting back against foreign emissions-reduction policies. Presuming that’s England, not Ontario, we at FoGT will be volunteering our expertise.
While these revelations have been jumped on by warmalarmist communists as evidence of a planet-killing Conservative conspiracy, we suspect there’s a much simpler answer: the omission was because the emissions are brain-numbing. In another early-June publication, it was shown that artificially activating the CO2 detection neurons of mosquitoes for unusually long intervals disrupted their subsequent ability to use those same neurons to detect the CO2 exhaled by potential prey, thereby reducing them to utter and complete incompetence. By analogy, we conclude that inhaling too much oilsands-derived hot air for too long has clouded the neurons of the Tory parasitic swarm in Ottawa even more than usual, and they simply weren’t up to the task of writing the report with the correct numbers.
Perhaps the same sort of confusion explains the behavior of Ian Plimer, who still rambles on at every opportunity about CO2 emissions from volcanic activity being greater than from human activity. While it’s always been bloody obvious to anybody bothering to think for a minute about it that this is crap (why didn’t the Mauna Loa record spike after Agung in 1963, El Chichon in 1982 or Pinatubo in 1991?), yet another June publication offers a good summary. USGS volcanologist Terry Gerlach reviews the research, which demonstrates that current rates of anthropogenic CO2 production are about 135 times volcanic and that given the ~1.5 wt % upper-limit CO2 content of common magmas, if volcanoes produced more CO2 than humans the Earth would be a very interesting place indeed.
More evidence of Plimer’s CO2 confusion, if any was needed, is in his statements about its isotopic composition. In the last slide of his recent presentation to the Friends of Science here in Calgary (presumably he also showed it in his GAC-MAC symposium talk in Ottawa), he claims that Carbon isotopes show that < 4% of atmospheric CO2 is anthropogenic. This is of course bollocks, and we’re at a loss to guess where he got the number. Measurements in the atmosphere and in the surface oceans, which are in equilibrium with respect to CO2 content, clearly show fossil-fuel isotope contents in agreement with what would be expected for the now > 100 ppm CO2 that’s been added to the atmosphere since pre-industrial times.
One important question, however, remains: did any mosquitoes find Plimer while he was in Canada, and if he contracted West Nile Neurological Syndrome as a result, would anybody be able to tell?