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Is an increase of CO2 in the atmosphere Good or Bad?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/23/2013 Category: Science
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,142 times Debate No: 31626
Debate Rounds (4)
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So many new things are being invented that reduce CO2, take electric cars for example, but is it really such a bad thing? Haha Good luck and be detailed


I accept this challenge.

I will be arguing that CO2 in the atmosphere is detrimental to the planet as a whole.

Trust me, I don't need any luck.
Debate Round No. 1


Thanks for accepting!


FIRST: CO2 key to plant growth and economic stability
Wall Street Journal 1/19/12 (“No
Need to Panic About Global Warming”,

The fact is that CO2 is not a pollutant
CO2 is a colorless and odorless gas, exhaled at high concentrations by each of
us, and a key component of the biosphere's life cycle.
do so much better with more CO2 that greenhouse operators often increase the
CO2 concentrations by factors of three or four to get better growth. This is no
surprise since plants and animals evolved when CO2 concentrations were about 10
times larger than they are today. Better plant varieties, chemical fertilizers
and agricultural management contributed to the great increase in agricultural yields
of the past century, but part of the increase almost certainly came from
additional CO2 in the atmosphere
Princeton physics professor William Happer on why
large number of scientists don't believe that carbon dioxide is causing global

SECOND: CO2 increases all plant growth by at least 10%

Hatfield, 11 - Laboratory Director, National Laboratory for
Agriculture and the Environment, the Chair of the Management Systems Evaluation
Areas (MSEA) and Agricultural Systems for Environmental Quality (ASEQ)

The effects of increasing CO2 concentrations on
various crops
are summarized in Table 1
Increases in plant growth vary among species. As expected the crops with the
so-called C4 photosynthetic pathway, maize, and sorghum [Sorghum bicolor (L.)
Moench], have smaller responses than the C3 crops. Cotton (Gossypium hirsutum
L.) may be higher because it is a woody species. However,
all show a positive response to CO2 increases. In
general, doubling
CO2 caused approximately a 30% increase in
reproductive yield of C3 species and <10% increase for C4

THIRD: Reducing CO2 emissions prevents economic growth

Zhao 2011-
Selected Paper prepared for presentation at the Agricultural & Applied
Economics Association’s 2011 AAEA & NAREA Joint Annual Meeting (Xiaobing
“The Impact of CO2 Emission Cuts on Income” July 24th-26th,,

3. Empirical Results We estimate Equation (5) year by year from 1980 to
2004. The coefficient estimates and the adjusted R are reported in Table 2. To
save space, we do not report the White (1980) heteroscedasticity-consistent
t-ratios. The significant coefficient estimates at the 5% level for two-sided
tests are in bold. As we can see, the impact of CO2 emissions on income is
statistically significant in each year. In fact, the coefficient estimate
increases from 0.28 in 1980 to 0.35 in 2004, with an average of 0.31. That is,
holding constant other relevant variables
, a one percent cut in CO2 emissions will on
average reduce income per capita by 0.31%.
are several popular proposals regarding CO2 emission cuts. However, a deep
linear cut of 50% below 1990 emissions by 2050 may be more relevant to policy
discussions. This proposal means at least a 1% cut in CO2 emissions per year
If a 1% cut in CO2 emissions will on average reduce income per capita by 0.31%
as we show in Table 2, the cost of emission cuts is not only
statistically but also economically significant. Since the average economic
growth rate for the 23 OECD countries

from 1980 to 2004
is only about 2% per year based on our data, a 0.31% reduction in GDP
per capita per year represents a 15% slowdown in economic
. This is the central finding of our paper. 4.
Conclusion We study how CO2 emission cuts affect income in this paper. First
derive an income-CO2 relationship based on a structural production function,
which is a natural way to model the relationship between income and CO2
. We then use a similar methodology as Tucker
(1995) to estimate the income-CO2 relationship
. Such an 11 approach not only allows us to focus on the long-run relationship but
also enables us to project the relationship between income and CO2 emissions
for future years
. Our main findings
are as follows.
Over the 1980-2004 period, for 23 OECD countries, the reverse EKC relationship
between CO2 emissions and income is statistically and economically significant.
To reduce emissions 50% below 1990 levels by 2050, the economic cost per year
for developed countries is about 0.3% reduction in GDP per capita which represents
a 15% slowdown in economic growth.

FORTH: Food shortages lead to escalating conflicts over resources culminating in World War III

Calvin ’98[William Calvin,
Theoretical Neurophysiologist at the University of Washington, January 1998,
Atlantic Monthly, The Great Climate Flip-Flop, Pages 47-64]

The population-crash scenario is surely the most
Plummeting crop yields would cause some powerful
countries to try to take over their neighbors
or distant lands -- if only because
their armies,
unpaid and lacking food, would
go marauding
, both at home and across the borders. The
better-organized countries would attempt to use their armies,
before they fell apart entirely,
to take over countries with significant remaining resources, driving out or
starving their inhabitants if not using modern weapons to accomplish the same
end: eliminating competitors for the remaining food. This would be a worldwide
problem -- and
could lead to a Third World War

Basically I am claiming with this evidence that CO2 is helping the economy and it is in fact key to the production or food and decreasing it in the long run will lead to food shortages, which will then lead to wars fought for survival.

I will provide more evidence if required



Scientists on Climate Change

A few arguments are laid out by my opponent regarding the effect of CO2 (though entirely in news stories).

First I'll address something emphasized in the first article:

"a large number of scientists don't believe that carbon dioxide is causing global

This is a primary example of using deceptive words to paint an inaccurate picture of reality. The reason for this is we have no quantification on how much a "large number" of scientists is. It could hypothetically be possible for arguments sake that 20 scientists disbelieve. The author would say that in HIS VIEW this is a "large number" while leaving out the reality that these 20 scientists disagree with the body of 1000 climatologists.

Here's the reality: Every (I want to stress this, EVERY) body or organization of climate scientists in the industrialized world agree with the conclusions laid out by the IPCC and ACC. Namely, that the temperature is rising, this rise is caused by greenhouse gases (primarily CO2), and that this increase is largely due to human activity. (Oreskes, Naomi (2007). "The Scientific Consensus on Climate Change: How Do We Know We’re Not Wrong?")

To clear this issue entirely, a study examined the views of 1,372 climate researchers. An overwhelming consensus of 97-98% of scientists agreed with the same conclusions laid out by the IPCC. (Source:

I've put this here to make something very clear: High CO2 levels are causing global warming. The major cause of increased temperature has been the increased CO2 put out by humans.
CO2 on Photosynthesis

It is true, higher CO2 levels are generally beneficial for plant life, I do not dispute this. What I do contend is that these benefits are minor. While net photosynthesis does increase with CO2 levels, this increase drastically slows down past our current CO2 concentration and vanishes almost completely after CO2 concentrations passes 1,000 ppm.

This graph illustrates this well:
The effect of carbon dioxide on net photosynthesis.
The solid line indicates where we are now in CO2 concentration: 340 ppm. To reach the same increase between 200 ppm and 340 ppm, the CO2 concentration would need to be at 1,300 ppm. (Source:

I argue that the benefits on plant life are essentially negligible in assessing the cost and benefits of CO2.

Effects on Food Supply and the Economy

Climate change has potentially devastating results on food supply. It is estimated that as much as 26% more people will be undernourished by 2080 versus scenarios without global warming. The figure is uncertain however, since population increase is expected to decrease dramatically in the 21st century and therefore world hunger will be less of an issue. (

There is however, high confidence that global warming will lead to higher rates of malnutrition and disease (

It has also been shown with high confidence that the impact of global warming on access to fresh water with be largely negative. (

As for economic costs, GDP is projected to decrease if moderate warming of the earth takes place through CO2 increases. The detrimental effects are amplified the higher the warming. (

Although uncertain, it has been generally shown that the impact of high CO2 levels on the market and economy generally lead to lower benefits or higher costs. (

These impacts don't factor in the expected rise in droughts, floods, hurricanes, and natural disasters in general. It is therefore likely that these figures underestimate the future realities.


Whatever inconveniences we are faced with now in limiting CO2 are not nearly as damaging as allowing the harsh consequences that will meet future generations. We cannot be seen as fools who did nothing at a time of emergency.
Debate Round No. 2


I will be answering the NEG in the order that he presented his case:

1. Bad evidence argument

To make a couple things clear, yes i cited a News report from the wall street journal. However that is the only card that referenced a News station. My first card that stated CO2 key to plant growth and economic stability, is the one he is refering to, You are arguing the card holds no truth because the study was posted on the Wall Street Journal correct? Well here, I took some extra time to clear this problem up.. Here is additional evidence on where WSJ got the information from so that I can make clear that they did not BS it all as he is implying:
The following has been signed by the 16
scientists with the following credentials: Claude Allegre, former director of
the Institute for the Study of the Earth, University of Paris; J. Scott
Armstrong, cofounder of the Journal of Forecasting and the International
Journal of Forecasting; Jan Breslow, head of the Laboratory of Biochemical
Genetics and Metabolism, Rockefeller University; Roger Cohen, fellow, American
Physical Society; Edward David, member, National Academy of Engineering and
National Academy of Sciences; William Happer, professor of physics, Princeton;
Michael Kelly, professor of technology, University of Cambridge, U.K.; William This is where The Wall Street Journal cited this from
Kininmonth, former head of climate research at the Australian Bureau of
Meteorology; Richard Lindzen, professor of atmospheric sciences, MIT; James
McGrath, professor of chemistry, Virginia Technical University; Rodney Nichols,
former president and CEO of the New York Academy of Sciences; Burt Rutan,
aerospace engineer, designer of Voyager and SpaceShipOne; Harrison H. Schmitt,
Apollo 17 astronaut and former U.S. senator; Nir Shaviv, professor of
astrophysics, Hebrew University, Jerusalem; Henk Tennekes, former director,
Royal Dutch Meteorological Service; Antonio Zichichi, president of the World
Federation of Scientists, Geneva.

2. Next you began to attack the acctual card itself

"This is a primary example of using deceptive words to paint an inaccurate picture of reality"

Very nice point I see where your going with this. Although the fact that scientist doubt it at all frightens me, since we waste so much time money and effort towards changing our horrible fate, I'd hate to find out its all for nothing. Should not the scientist feel the same way? Do not they need even more convinceing evidence then I? You then went on to rant about how you have no idea how much "A large number" consists of, here:

Here are a few widley known scienctist who have posted
their opinion in terms of books or detailed biographical articles:
  • Khabibullo Abdusamatov, mathematician and astronomer at Pulkovo Observatory of the Russian Academy of Sciences
  • Sallie Baliunas, astronomer, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
  • Ian Clark, hydrogeologist, professor, Department of Earth Sciences, University of Ottawa
  • Chris de Freitas, associate professor, School of Geography, Geology and Environmental Science, University of Auckland
  • David Douglass, solid-state physicist, professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Rochester
  • Don Easterbrook, emeritus professor of geology, Western Washington University
  • William M. Gray, professor emeritus and head of the Tropical Meteorology Project, Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University
  • William Happer, physicist specializing in optics and spectroscopy, Princeton University
  • William Kininmonth, meteorologist, former Australian delegate to World Meteorological Organization Commission for Climatology
  • David Legates, associate professor of geography and director of the Center for Climatic Research, University of Delaware
  • Tad Murty, oceanographer; adjunct professor, Departments of Civil Engineering and Earth Sciences, University of Ottawa
  • Tim Patterson, paleoclimatologist and professor of geology at Carleton University in Canada.
  • Ian Plimer, professor emeritus of Mining Geology, the University of Adelaide.
  • Nicola Scafetta, research scientist in the physics department at Duke University
  • Tom Segalstad, head of the Geology Museum at the University of Oslo
  • Fred Singer, professor emeritus of environmental sciences at the University of Virginia
  • Willie Soon, astrophysicist, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
  • Roy Spencer, principal research scientist, University of Alabama in Huntsville
  • Henrik Svensmark, Danish National Space Center
  • Jan Veizer, environmental geochemist, professor emeritus from University of Ottawa

The fact that only half of the American population believe that global warming is caused by human activity

I understand that only a fraction of scientist believe its false, and that I'm on the losing side in this argument in those terms. I figured you might use that to back you up, but lets argue the facts.

3. Green house gasses do not cause global warming

Heres the evidence:

1. ICSC's [International Climate Science Coalition]
recently launched Climate Scientists' Register already has attracted the
endorsement of 139 leading climate experts from 21 countries. The register states,
"We, the undersigned, having assessed the relevant scientific evidence, do
not find convincing support for the hypothesis that human emissions of carbon
dioxide are causing, or will in the foreseeable future cause, dangerous global

9, 2010, p. B1, LexisNexis Academic. Al Gore is excited by a correlation
between mean temperatures and CO2 levels over the past 600,000 years. He's
right about the correlation, but he doesn't mention that the temperature graph
leads the CO2 graph by several hundred years. The inescapable conclusion is
that temperature drives CO2 - not vice versa. Over the longer term, the
correlation breaks down entirely.
Roger Helmer [Member of the European Parliament for
the East Midlands, England],
TIMES, July 9, 2010, p. B1, LexisNexis Academic. Current atmospheric CO2 levels
are quite low in geo-historical terms. They have been 10 times as high in the
past - and that was during an ice age. There is no tipping point. There is no
runaway global warming.

I am not arguing the exsistance of Global Warming, But the cause of Global warming. Heres the acctual cause of the faint evidence of warming that we have:


SK/N107.21) Steve Goreham [Executive
Director, Climate Science Coalition of America]. USA TODAY MAGAZINE, March 2011, p.
30, GALE CENGAGE LEARNING, Expanded Academic ASAP. There is much evidence that
the sun is the driver of Earth's climate. A combination of long-term
alterations in solar radiation and short-term changes in low-level cloudiness
driven by variation in sunspot activity correlates well with changes in Earth's
temperatures. The recent marked decline in solar activity matches the
eight-year drop in global temperatures, while C[O.sub.2] levels continue to
rise and do not match the temperature decrease.

USA TODAY MAGAZINE, March 2011, p. 30, GALE
CENGAGE LEARNING, Expanded Academic ASAP. Man-made greenhouse gases are an
insignificant part of global climate change. Global warning and cooling are due
to the natural cycles of Earth, which ultimately are driven by the sun. We do
not yet understand climate well enough to control it. Until we do, mankind must
continue to adapt to the climate of Earth as we have for many thousands of
years. Regardless of the science, the world is adopting snake-oil remedies from
climatism's persistant prophets of doom.

Finally extend all of my arguments i made in the first constructive since he did not challenge it. As of right now you must prove that the evidence of global warming that you claim is caused by CO2 was not caused by solar changes, because if you dont challenge my evidence then you consede that it wasnt caused by CO2.

Thanks for the great debate! Keep it up



Rebuttal to Point 1

"My first card that stated CO2 key to plant growth and economic stability, is the one he is referring to, You are arguing the card holds no truth because the study was posted on the Wall Street Journal correct?"

I never stated anything of the sort, I'm not even disagreeing with you on your main thesis and I said as much in my original point:

"It is true, higher CO2 levels are generally beneficial for plant life, I do not dispute this."

Of course this is the case. I was
making the point that whatever benefits CO2 has for plants degenerates the higher the CO2 level in the atmosphere. I added a link that displays the effects on net photosynthesis. To quickly summarize, net photosynthesis is 20 percent higher at the current concentration of 340 ppm of CO2 versus when the level was at 200ppm. HOWEVER, this rate quickly slows down to such an extent that in order to gain another 20 percent of net photosynthesis concentration levels would need to increase to 1,300 ppm. I made the point that this benefit of carbon dioxide is essentially negligible since the actual difference it produces on plant life evaporates past our current level.


Rebuttal to Point 2

Of course there is a always SOME amount of scientists that are skeptical of a theory, that's why they're scientists. Theories are constantly challenged and claims always need to be checked over and over to see if the evidence fits. This should not be seen as a reason to say "there is always skepticism in science therefore we should ignore it".

What I'm saying is that the science is settled in regards to the fundamentals on climate change. The study I sourced showing that 97-98% of climate researchers agree with the IPCC hold special significance because the study only focused on scientists that frequently publish papers, and are therefore the most credible because their work has been peer reviewed.

Rebuttal to Point 3

There are many objections raised and I will try to answer each the best way I can (as a side note I would appreciate if you'd include the links to future news stories so they would be easier to find ).

First I'll outline the basic idea behind anthropogenic global warming (AGW). Solar rays from the sun pass through the atmosphere as short wave radiation and hit the earth's surface. The heat not absorbed by the earth is reflected out into space as Long wave radiation. The difference is that long wave radiation is absorbed by particles in the atmosphere, which we call greenhouse gases, prominently CO2. Carbon dioxide captures heat reflecting into space thus heating the planet. This basic science is not argued in the peer reviewed literature, it has been accepted. No reputable scientists disputes this to be the reality which is why 97-98% of published climate researchers accept this (

As for the story concerning Al Gore, there can be little doubt in saying he made several errors in his movie "An Inconvenient Truth". It is by no means a scientific documentation of the peer reviewed literature being discussed by scientists. One of the errors he made involves matching up CO2 levels to past temperature readings, when in fact the temperature sometimes trailed the rise in CO2.

To argue this disproves current climate change caused by greenhouse gases is nonsense. What needs to be remembered is that CO2 and greenhouse gases are NOT the only causes for temperature change. There is also solar activity (which I'll soon address), ocean oscillation, and aerosols. The reason you see CO2 levels trail temperature sometimes (it also leads other times) is because other factors heat the planet up (because of the sun in some way), and this in turn releases CO2 stored in the earth. The newly released CO2 eventually becomes the dominant source of temperature rise since it captures heat and in turn leads the earth to heat even more causing more CO2 to be released. This positive feedback creates a cycle and is the reason why often you will see CO2 not necessarily CAUSING the original warming, but eventually taking over and amplifying it. This DOES NOT apply to the present situation, because HUMANS are releasing the CO2 into the atmosphere, the jump starter to this cycle of positive feedback is US.

If my opponent or anybody reading is still confused regarding this process, I invite you to watch the video shown above which explains this nicely.

This also answers the third news article saying that current CO2 levels are small compared to certain times in history. This is undoubtedly true but only because we are simply in the first stages of the positive feedback of warming that results from CO2 continually being released into the atmosphere. Where it says that these high CO2 level have occurred during ice ages is misleading. What actually happens is that there are large ice sheets present as the temperature rises with CO2, but those ice sheets do not melt immediately. So if CO2 reaches a certain level and the ice sheets have not melted yet, then you "technically" have high CO2 levels during an ice age.

The forth news story regarding solar radiation is incredibly easy to debunk. Indeed, if you even followed the link posted by my opponent ( and scroll down a little until you've reached the heading "Scientific consensus", you will see a graph to your right showcasing this simple fact: solar activity has not matched temperature readings since 1980. Although the article claims earth's temperature has been falling, all readings show the contrary; earth IS heating up (something my opponent didn't deny in his past response: ""I am not arguing the existence of Global Warming, But the cause of Global warming").

While the earth has been warming, solar activity has been falling since 1980. All this shows that among the causes for temperature change I listed before, solar activity is not one of them. If the reader still isn't convinced then visit this link to clear the issue up nicely:

The last article hardly makes any arguments. Nonetheless I will simply clear up the fact that people using this issue to prophecise doom are wrong. This is not the end times. It is however, a serious problem that needs to be dealt with and should not be ignored.
Debate Round No. 3


MaqicDan forfeited this round.


No reply?

I'd like a rebuttal to my points.
Debate Round No. 4
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by MaqicDan 4 years ago
I will be arguing that CO2 is good
Posted by Magic8000 4 years ago
What side are you arguing for????
No votes have been placed for this debate.