Ever since the 80’s we have heard how bad the use of fossil, carbon based, fuels is and how we must absolutely stop using them. The reason that we are told is that burning fossil fuels creates Carbon Dioxide (CO2) which is causing the planet to over heat. Although there is a small element of truth to that thought it has been greatly exaggerated and if one looks at the subject with an open mind one sees that the amount of climate change possible by increasing levels of Carbon Dioxide is only about 1/3 of the total observed historical changes in climate. In other words nature is the primary reason for climate change. Further, its unlikely that more than another .5 degrees Celsius will be observed from increases in atmospheric Carbon Dioxide. Previous posts here show why this is true if one cares to read them.
This post is to show the other side of the Carbon Dioxide issue which is that Carbon Dioxide is not the only thing created by burning fossil fuels. Actually three things are produced, energy in the form of high temperatures which can do work, Carbon Dioxide and water. There are other residues depending on the fuel used but they can be ignored as although important to consider, they are not items that can’t be controlled with proper engineering. Forgetting the heat energy (warming) produced, for now, the other two items Carbon Dioxide and Water are where this discussion leads us.
Carbon Dioxide the evil pollutant which must be stopped at all costs is the primary food for plant life and without it we could not exist. In fact increased levels of Carbon Dioxide well beyond where we are now would be very beneficial to all life on the planet as plants grow much better and faster at levels of Carbon Dioxide 3 to 4 times where we are now. So the fact is that increased levels of Carbon Dioxide are good not bad.
But no one is even discussing the third element of burning fossil fuels which is the production of large amounts of water. From the beginnings of the industrial revolution to today Carbon Dioxide has gone from 280 ppm to about 410 ppm today or from .028% to .041% of the earths atmosphere. That means that we have produced in the last 400 years …
736 Billion Tons of Carbon Dioxide (plant food) and
263 Billion Tons of Water
263 Billion tons of water is 63.1 Trillion gallons of water, or 57.3 cubic miles of water which is about half of the water now in Lake Erie the world 18th largest lake. Since no one would disagree that water isn’t bad, creating this much water is a good thing ….
One last thought is that 57.3 cubic miles of water has raised the earths oceans by about .026 inches or .7 mm in height representing about 1% of the observed increased level of sea levels. That may not be much but that increase is not from global warming its from the production of large amounts of water.
The point to this discussion is that we must understand all the processes that are happening since nature is very complex and no one thing controls anything on the planet.
Sir Karl Raimund Popper (28 July 1902 – 17 September 1994) was an Austrian and British philosopher and a professor at the London School of Economics. He is considered one of the most influential philosophers for science of the 20th century, and he also wrote extensively on social and political philosophy. The following quotes of his apply to this subject.
If we are uncritical we shall always find what we want: we shall look for, and find, confirmations, and we shall look away from, and not see, whatever might be dangerous to our pet theories.
Whenever a theory appears to you as the only possible one, take this as a sign that you have neither understood the theory nor the problem which it was intended to solve.
… (S)cience is one of the very few human activities — perhaps the only one — in which errors are systematically criticized and fairly often, in time, corrected.