Coconuts in Wyoming?

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), June 25, 2004 | Go to article overview

Coconuts in Wyoming?


Byline: Steven Milloy, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

It's summer in the Northern Hemisphere, and that can only mean one thing - it's time for global warming activists to sound the alarm.

Though temperatures obviously rise due to natural causes during the summer, global warming activists like to take advantage of this time to dramatize their cause.

This year is no exception as global climate worry-warts gathered recently in D.C. at a conference sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science to convulse about the Bush administration refusal to embrace the Kyoto global warming treaty and to clamp down on emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide.

Speakers at the conference said they hoped to convince the U.S. public to pressure politicians into policy changes.

"In this country, it depends a lot on what happens in the next election," geochemist Daniel Schrag of Harvard University told Reuters. "I don't think we can expect to change the minds of this administration in the next couple of months," he added.

Mr. Schrag then went on to provide alarmist factoids about the build-up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

He said the current concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is 380 parts per million - the highest in at least the last 430,000 years. "In the next 100 years, unless immediate action is taken, carbon dioxide levels will rise to between 800 and 1,000 parts per million. The last time carbon dioxide was that high was during the Eocene, 55 to 36 million years ago," Mr. Schrag said, according to a Reuters report.

At that time, he said, "palm trees lived in Wyoming, crocodiles lived in the Arctic, Antarctica was a pine forest and sea level was at least 300 feet higher than today."

But is atmospheric carbon dioxide all that really separates us from coconuts-in-Laramie and Inuit crocodile wrestling?

Hardly.

About 95 percent of the greenhouse effect - the atmospheric warming due to the trapping of solar energy that makes life possible on Earth - is due to water vapor, 99.999 percent of which is of natural origin.

The other 5 percent of the greenhouse effect is due to carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and other miscellaneous gases. Although carbon dioxide is the most dominant of these gases by volume, comprising about 99.4 percent, the other gases trap more heat. …

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