The Instigator
JBpixie
Pro (for)
Tied
33 Points
The Contender
elphaba1389
Con (against)
Tied
33 Points

Carbon dioxide is cannot cause catastrophic heating due to the greenhouse effect.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 4/18/2008 Category: Science
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 2,355 times Debate No: 3692
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (7)
Votes (22)

 

JBpixie

Pro

The popular theory states that as carbon dioxide levels increase so too will the temperature at an exponential rate.
According to the popular "greenhouse effect" theory carbon dioxide is the main driver of the Earth's temperature however according most of the reliable science I've seen it isn't and it as things stand today cannot have any significant effect on the planet's temperature due to limitations of carbon dioxide's ability to absorb radiation.

I'm for the sensible protection of the environment and for alternative sources of energy but I don't believe that carbon dioxide can produce the catastrophic events outlined by Gore and his cronies at the UN because the science and math simply don't add up.
elphaba1389

Con

First of all, I'd like to say thank you to JBpixie for posting this argument.
Second, I'd like to state my position on this matter:

While carbon dioxide is not the sole cause behind global warming, the United States as a whole should try to limit the amount of emissions for the overall well-being of the environment.

With that being said, let's begin.
--------------------------------------

Fact: Carbon Emissions

According to "http://www.carbonify.com...;, global warming is increased my carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, ALONG WITH methane and deforestation. Because of the rising CO2 emissions, our oceans are becoming more acidic due to the absorption of the chemical, causing fish to die.

According to "http://www.ecobridge.org...;, about 40% of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions stem from the burning of fossil fuels for the purpose of electricity generation. Coal accounts for 93 percent of the emissions from the electric utility industry.

Fact: Methane

While carbon dioxide is the principal greenhouse gas, methane is second most important. According to the IPCC, Methane is more than 20 times as
effective as CO2 at trapping heat in the atmosphere. (ecobridge.org)

Fact: Deforestation

After carbon emissions caused by humans, deforestation is the second principle cause of atmospheric carbn dioxide. (NASA Web Site) Deforestation is responsible for 20-25% of all carbon emissions entering the atmosphere, by the burning and cutting of about 34 million acres of trees each year. We are losing millions of acres of rainforests each year, the equivalent in area to the size of Italy. [22] The destroying of tropical forests alone is throwing hundreds of millions of tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year. We are also losing temperate forests. The temperate forests of the world account for an absorption rate of 2 billion tons of carbon annually. [3] In the temperate forests of Siberia alone, the earth is losing 10 million acres per year. (ecobridge.org)

Since this is simply my opening arguement, and there are 5 rounds, I'll save the rest for later =)
Debate Round No. 1
JBpixie

Pro

First I will state some of the reasons why I believe that carbon dioxide cannot cause catastrophic heating. My reasons are as follows:
1.Carbon dioxide is not the most abundant nor most important "greenhouse gas". Water (in the forms of clouds and water vapor ) is the most important and account for approximately 90% of the heating due to the "greenhouse effect"
2.The popular "greenhouse effect" graphics used to explain global warming fail to account for other factors such as evapotranspiration and thermals.
3.Heat in not actually trapped by the Earth its return to space is only delayed, this happens because the "greenhouse gases" can only absorb specific bands of radiation and when radiation is absorbed it is reradiated in different wave lengths and therefore cannot be reabsorbed by the same gas.
4.The relationship between carbon dioxide and the temperature is more likely than not, logarithmic and not exponential or linear. Which basically means that if 200ppmv of carbon dioxide is required to produce a 1�C increase then to produce a 2�C increase 500ppmv CO2 would be required.

Now to address your points:
-Carbon dioxide is not the principle "greenhouse gas" water vapor is, accounting for about 70% of the net "greenhouse effect". Clouds account for 20% and carbon dioxide for less than 10%.
-Deforestation does not cause an increase in carbon dioxide it simply reduces the absorption of carbon dioxide. At the same time however increased levels of carbon dioxide may actually cause new forest growth in places like deserts.
elphaba1389

Con

According to "ezinearticles.com", deforestation increases the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The continued degradation of our forest heightens the threat of global warming because the trees and other plants that takes up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere to be used for photosynthesis are gone. The burning of wood or its decay contributes to the release of more carbon which combines with oxygen in the atmosphere thus increasing further the levels of carbon dioxide that causes greenhouse effect.

While water accounts for 90% of the principle "greenhouse gases", we as a society do not use water as our energy source, nor as a primary source of transportation. Our society uses coal for over 40% of our energy consumption. More specifically, a source of energy that produces large amounts of CO2.

CO2 does, in fact, trap heat in the atmosphere; or in your words "delaying the process." According to "www.pa.msu.edu", most of the light energy from the sun is emitted in wavelengths shorter than 4,000 nanometers (.000004 meters). The heat energy released from the earth, however, is released in wavelengths longer than 4,000 nanometers. Carbon dioxide doesn't absorb the energy from the sun, but it does absorb some of the heat energy released from the earth. When a molecule of carbon dioxide absorbs heat energy, it goes into an excited unstable state. It can become stable again by releasing the energy it absorbed. Some of the released energy will go back to the earth and some will go out into space. So in effect, carbon dioxide lets the light energy in, but doesn't let all of the heat energy out, similar to a greenhouse.
Debate Round No. 2
JBpixie

Pro

Since we can both agree that carbon dioxide levels have increased since the industrial revolution there is no need for discussion on how it happened. Therefore I will ignore the effects of deforestation, and focus on the effects of carbon dioxide on the climate and temperature.

Though humans use carbon dioxide emitting sources for energy and not water. Water (which affects both incoming and out going radiation) remains significantly more important in climate modulation than carbon dioxide. Most of the radiation that can be absorbed by carbon dioxide is either already being absorbed or is close to being fully absorbed which means that at some point the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere will have no effect on the temperature when its concentration raises above a certain level.

"When a molecule of carbon dioxide absorbs heat energy, it goes into an excited unstable state. It can become stable again by releasing the energy it absorbed. Some of the released energy will go back to the earth and some will go out into space. So in effect, carbon dioxide lets the light energy in, but doesn't let all of the heat energy out, similar to a greenhouse."
-Simply put when carbon dioxide absorbs radiation on one wave length it releases it on another (which it cannot reabsorb) causing the heat to stay within the Earth for longer than it would have if the carbon dioxide was not present thereby increasing the mean temperature. And the same principle is true for water (which constitutes 90% of the total "greenhouse effect") and other "greenhouse gases".

One final note: doubling carbon dioxide levels from 300 ppm will produce at most a 1.5�C increase while increasing carbon dioxide from a level of zero would have produced an increase between 5 �C and 12 �C. This means that doubling carbon dioxide levels from 600ppm to 1200ppm would produce a temperature increase less than 1�C. So within the next one hundred years the temperature could increase by as much as 2�C. The consequences of which can be discussed later on since there are two remaining rounds.
elphaba1389

Con

Correction. Nitrogen is the primary greenhouse gas, accounting for 78% of the atmosphere. Water Vapor only accounts for 0-4% of the atmosphere. (New York Times, 2008)

On that note, CO2 emissions have increased about 2% in the last 300 years due to the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation. It is also produces naturally during cellular respiration and the decay of organic matter. It is also a reactant in photosynthesis as well as a MAJOR greenhouse gas. HUMANS ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR ABOUT 5.5 MILLION TONS OF CO2 PER YEAR. (New York Times, 2008)

By definition, "global warming" can best described as what happens when sunlight strikes the Earth's surface, but some of it is reflected back towards space as infrared heat. Greenhouse gases absorb this infrared radiation & trap the heat in the atmosphere. (New York Times, 2008)

So according to the definition, greenhouse gases trap the heat in the atmosphere. In the atmosphere, there are 10 major greenhouse gases:

1. Nitrogen
2. Carbon Dioxide
3. Caron Tetrachloride
4. Chlorofluorochloride (CCL4)
5. Halons
6. Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs)
7. Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)
8. Methane
9. Nitrous Oxide
10. Sulfur Hexafluoride (SF6)

Of these 10 greenhouse, humans are responsible for a HUGE amount of the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere:

PER YEAR

-- Carbon Dioxide: 5.5 million tons
-- Methane: 400 million tons
-- Nitrous Oxide: 6 million tons
(New York Times, 2008)

Levels of several important greenhouse gases have increased by 25% since industrialization began around 150 years ago. During the past 20 years, about 3/4 of human-made carbon dioxide emissions were from burning fossil fuels. In the USA, the greenhouse gas emissions come mostly from energy use. (New York Times, 2008)

An estimated 3.2 BILLION metric tons is added to the atmosphere annually. Earth's imbalance between emissions and absorption results in the continuing growth of the greenhouse effect. (New York Times, 2008)

While carbon dioxide may not account for a substantial portion of the atmosphere, it certainly is doing some major damage. To simply STABILIZE the current global warming crisis would require the following:

-- A decrease in methane emissions by 8%
-- A decrease in nitrous oxide emissions by 50%
-- A DECREASE IN CARBON DIOXIDE EMISSIONS BY 80%
(New York Times, 2008)

And to make things even worse, here's a thought: if we stopped EVERYTHING; travel, energy use, electricity, gas, transportation, etc., it would take us 150 years to put an end to global warming. (New York Times, 2008)
Debate Round No. 3
JBpixie

Pro

First off nitrogen is not a "greenhouse gas" though it is the most abundant gas in the atmosphere. The main "greenhouse gases" is water (clouds and water vapour) with accounts for 90% of the total net "greenhouse effect" the other 10% is accounted for by other gases such as CO2 and O3 and CH4.

Secondly when speaking about atmospheric composition one should use parts per million by volume (ppmv) which refers to the amount of molecules of a specific element or compound for every one million molecules. Carbon dioxide is currently at about 380 ppm, which is said to be a 100 ppm increase since the dawn of the industrial revolution. And currently the carbon dioxide levels are raising at about 2.5 ppm per year.

Carbon dioxide is for reasons stated before not doing significant damage. It is not the principle greenhouse gas and will in the near future (about 100 years) produce a temperature increase of about 2�C.

This temperature increase (of 2�C) will not cause a catastrophic event of uncontrollable super destructive weather. Though increased temperatures may have some negative effects it will not put humanity on the edge of extinction as the popular theory goes. For one a temperature increase will not cause more hurricanes as is evident in the past two seasons being relatively dormant it may actually decrease the amount of hurricanes since the conditions required for the formation hurricanes may not exist in higher temperatures.

And you are correct in stating that (assuming it is anthropogenic) it would be near impossible to do anything now that would reverse any damage done. This means that whether or not carbon dioxide will cause disasters that threaten humanity will be known irregardless of what is done today to slow or halt emissions.

Just one more thing the planet does not exist in equilibrium. It changes constantly, in relative scientific terms. The theory that there is a special temperature favoured by the planet is flawed. The planet's temperature increases and decreases naturally overtime. Hence history is riddled with ice ages and warm periods.
elphaba1389

Con

elphaba1389 forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
JBpixie

Pro

This debate is about the link between Carbon dioxide catastrophic heating. Catastrophic heating being defined as that which will cause significant destruction as a result of the increase

The reasons carbon dioxide cannot be causing catastrophic heating are as follows:
- Carbon dioxide accounts for less than 10% of the total net greenhouse effect.
-The wavelength bans which are absorbed by CO2 are near saturation meaning that eventually the addition of more CO2 to the atmosphere will have no effect on temperature.
-Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. It is one of the most essential gases life. Without it plants could not grow and life on Earth as it currently is would not be.
-The relationship between CO2 and the temperature is logarithmic so obtaining a 6�C rise in temperature by 2100 due to the doubling of CO2 levels is impossible.
-The popular greenhouse effect theory does not account for feedback particularly negative feedback which helps to reduce the effects of CO2. For example increasing CO2 levels also cause a rise in aerosols which act to lower the temperature hence reducing the heating effects of CO2.
-The sun and cosmic rays play an important role in the climate.
-The plant's temperature is not stable it changes often and sometimes abruptly.
-The hockey stick graph which was once so popular has been abandoned since it's been shown to be completely inaccurate.
-Most people who are propagating {{global warming are not climatologist}} they are; celebrities, politicians, or political activist, but not many qualified climatologist.
-There are many more factors which affect the climate other than CO2
-The estimated rise in temperature is about 0.6 �C and the margin of error for measuring temperature is 0.7 �C.
-There is no magic temperature for the planet. Throughout history the climate has changed and consequently species have gone extinct to be replaced by another…in fact had it not been for these changes humans would likely not be the dominant species.

Essentially the most the planet can warm due to the doubling of the current CO2 levels can at most create a temperature increase of 2�C. An increase which will not cause any real catastrophic effects. To prove this point I will address a three of the more popular claims of alarmist.
-Hurricanes will increase in intensity and number. The past two hurricane seasons disprove this. Though temperature does affect hurricanes higher temperatures are likely to decrease the strength of hurricanes.
-Forest fires. Forest fires have indeed grown more intense over the years. However this hasn't anything to do with the temperature it is due to the build up of underbrush, the fuel of the fire. Forest fires are an important part of the natural cycle, without them some trees wouldn't be able to reproduce…but some time ago people didn't know this and a vicious campaign to eliminate forest fires began. The campaign was successful and fires were suppressed for sometime. And because of the campaign's success there is now so much underbrush that when a fires start they become very intense very quickly.
The high costs of natural disasters that have been seen recently are not due to new weather phoneme but increased human activity in high risk areas.

Is the Earth warming? Most likely it is…
Is carbon dioxide the sole or primary factor? No.

There is no question fossil fuels emit pollution, but CO2 is not a pollutant. Yes humans should stop using fossil fuels (specifically oil) for economical, environmental and political reasons however global warming is not one of those reasons. Most of the supposed effects of global warming are simply natural events which are hyped by the media while others are occurrences with other explanations. The greatest problem with global warming is that it is causing people to ignore other more significant and addressable problems, such as disease, famine, and real pollution. In fact global warming alarmist are helping to compound the current food crisis due to the production of ethanol from corn.

The greatest proof that global warming isn't really being driven by the evil elixir of life carbon dioxide comes from the man with the oversized ego, himself, Al Gore. If "An inconvenient truth" is such an important movie that everyone should see why is it not available for free from its creators? I already do most of the nine things (I have decided that the tenth does not count) you're supposed to do to reduce your impact (not because I believe Gore I was doing these things before his movie) and yet even if everyone was to do the same, there would be no real impact on temperature yet Gore and pals continue to pretend that their list of things to do can have any real impact…when the only way to really have an impact (assuming for a second global warming is real…) would be to halt almost all fossil fuel use and devise a means of removing CO2 from the atmosphere, adjusting it to it's ideal level…which is unknown by the way. Gore's plan is simply he intends to make everyone adapt these nominal changes and when the ice doesn't melt and Florida doesn't sink he will claim victory…in the same manner Bush claims success in his "war on terror" even though nothing he's done has had any real impact…allow me to rephrase that "no positive impact".

If carbon dioxide was such a threat why then do so many proponents not practice what they preach? Why are they still building homes on the coasts, flying in private jets, eating meat, using cars, using washing machines, dryers, hair gel, and products made in foreign countries which have to be shipped in large cargo ships which not only burn fuel but interrupt whale communication. Why do so many activist not make the sacrifices they want others to? The answer: they don't really care about the planet and most of them know what they're preaching isn't true. Take Gore for example he didn't make his home "carbon neutral" until recently after his electricity usage was made public. Really how can global warming be real when some of it's major proponents act apparent hypocrisy like those who opposed the construction of a wind farm in Cape Cod because it would lower property values. They either don't take global warming seriously or are just hypocrites who care more about themselves than the greater good of the environment and humanity. I think it's a grand combination of both.
elphaba1389

Con

First of all I have to comment on how JBpixie has not used one reference to wear he obtains his information, seeing as how every fact I have stated has a source.

--------------------

"-Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant. It is one of the most essential gases for life. Without it plants could not grow and life on Earth as it currently is would not be."

According to (www.eia.doe.gov), carbon dioxide occurs naturally through both the carbon cycle and photosynthesis. It is also in the ground naturally because of decomposition of materials; however, we as humans are emitting approximately 9.3 billion tons more CO2 in addition to what is created naturally. So yes, carbon dioxide is essential to life here on Earth...what is produced naturally. Not 9.3 billion tons more, we don't need THAT much to survive.

Also, according to (www.eia.doe.gov), of the greenhouse gases in the atmosphere currently, 82% of the total amount of CO2 is produced from fossil fuel combustion (aka. humans). This supports my statement in a previous round that we need to decrease CO2 emissions by 80%.

--------------------

"-The relationship between CO2 and the temperature is logarithmic so obtaining a 6�C rise in temperature by 2100 due to the doubling of CO2 levels is impossible."

According to (www.earth-policy.org), as carbon emissions continue to increase, so will the pace of climate change. During the past century, temperatures rose 0.6 degrees Celsius, with most of the increase occurring during the last three decades. But the average global temperature is projected to rise 1.4—5.8 degrees Celsius by 2100, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a global body of more than 1,500 scientists.

--------------------

"-Most people who are propagating {{global warming are not climatologist}} they are; celebrities, politicians, or political activist, but not many qualified climatologist. "

Again, where do you get your information?! I guess all the .org, .gov, and .edu sites I've cited are run by celebrities. =)

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"-There is no magic temperature for the planet. Throughout history the climate has changed and consequently species have gone extinct to be replaced by another…in fact had it not been for these changes humans would likely not be the dominant species."

I'd like to see your sources for all the bold claims you are making. What proof do you have that these changes caused humans to be the dominating species?

--------------------

I thank my opponent for challenging me to this debate; however, my opponent needs to back his claims up with studies and sources from other people as I have cited in my arguements. If he doesn't, then it sounds like this entire debate is his own opinion. The fact that he even started this debate is risky, because he is arguing a scientific fact without any statistics or sources to back it up.
Debate Round No. 5
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by JBpixie 9 years ago
JBpixie
I will take your advise into consideration…and in my defense you knew it was five rounds before it started. And just so you know my sources were documentaries, and a stack of papers on my desk.
Posted by elphaba1389 9 years ago
elphaba1389
just for the record, I didn't post my arguement because I have been so busy. Also, to be perfectly honest, a 5-round arguement is basically the equivalent of beating a dead horse...you end up repeating yourself because it is simply too long...

advice? Stick to 3 MAYBE 4 rounds. 5 is ridiculous...
Posted by JBpixie 9 years ago
JBpixie
The question isn't whether or not carbon dioxide has an effect on the temperature it's whether or not it can cause catastrophic heating as outline by Al Gore and other alarmist. And I don't know why I have to constantly repeat this but: CO2 is not the most important gas. H2O is.
Posted by JTSmith 9 years ago
JTSmith
I don't see how pro can win this argument...
It is true that carbon dioxide is not the only gas that factors in the greenhouse equation, however, it does. In fact, it contributes the most.
The point is, unless pro can prove that carbon dioxide has no effect on temperature, then he cant win. Seeing as carbon dioxide does, in fact, have an effect on temperature...its a lost battle
Posted by elphaba1389 9 years ago
elphaba1389
yeah, 5 rounds really is too long. I can understand 4, but 5 is ridiculous!
Posted by Pluto2493 9 years ago
Pluto2493
I know, that's why I didn't take this debate.
Posted by Johnicle 9 years ago
Johnicle
5 ROUNDS!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?! that seems like over-kill
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