The Instigator
HandsOff
Pro (for)
Losing
42 Points
The Contender
beem0r
Con (against)
Winning
58 Points

There is no way to even ballpark what percentage of global warming is caused by CO2 gases.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/18/2008 Category: Politics
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 3,601 times Debate No: 4439
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (37)
Votes (24)

 

HandsOff

Pro

Most global warming fans will admit that CO2 (both natural and man-made) is just one of the many factors that contribute to global warming, both present and past. Most will also admit that long before cars and factories came about, wild temperature swings in both directions occurred under relatively stable CO2 levels. Additionally, most will admit there is no reason to believe these natural (non-CO2) factors are not contributing to the current warming trend. If this is the case, the percentage of warming caused by CO2 gases (in comparison to other natural factors in play) is entirely unknowable. We are only sure that CO2 (man-made or otherwise) is responsible for somewhere between 0 and 100 percent of the current warming trend.
beem0r

Con

My opponent claims that we can not determine to any accuracy the effect of CO2 on our current period of global warming. However, this is blatantly false.

First, we can at least make a good estimate based on tests in a lab. We know from such tests that CO2 absorbs a certain amount of energy from the infrared spectrum.

We know that the radiation coming down on earth from the sun is mostly in the form of UV and Visible light. We also know that the radiation that comes off the earth towards space is mostly in the form of infrared. Here is a visual aid:

http://en.wikipedia.org...

On the top graph there, we see that the upgoing thermal radiation, that is to say, heat that would otherwise escape, is largely absorbed. We can also see from this graph that CO2 absorbs radiation with wavelengths ~10-20 micrometers very well, and that this wavelength range is indeed included in the upgoing thermal radiation.

It's also true that the wavelengths absorbed by CO2 are absorbed by water vapor as well, but as we can see from that same graph, water vapor only absorbs roughly half of the radiation on this wavelength [reperesented by the halfish-height in that area for the water vapor graph].

So that should at least establish that it can be figured out at least ROUGHLY how much warming CO2 is causing [which is all I'm charged with doing]. However, I will bring more points.

Here is another graph.

http://en.wikipedia.org...

The blue and green lines are the most important ones here. Green is CO2 levels, Blue is temperature. This is for the last 400,000 years [the data is from ice cores].

Notice anything strange? How about the VERY close correlation between the two?

Just another information source from which we can at least make a good estimate of the effect of CO2 on global temperature change.

Hopefully that is enough for you. We can make good estimates on how much gloabl warming is caused by CO2 based on what wavelengths of radiation it absorbs, what other substances absorb those same wavelengths, and the amount of energy at those wavelengths present in upgoing thermal radiation.
Debate Round No. 1
HandsOff

Pro

You did a great job of explaining how the greenhouse effect works, but I'm we are not debating that. You then cited studies that draw correlations between CO2 and climate change. But you have yet to tell me what the ballpark percentage of CO2 influence is in comparison to addition natural factors (both known and unknown) that may be influencing the recent warming trend. Why not just give me a percentage and show me how you (or anyone else) were able to arrive at it? It would seem a tall order without knowing the other factors and the extent to which THEY are responsible for heating the earth's atmosphere?
beem0r

Con

CO2 is currently responsible for roughly 9-26 percent of the greenhouse effect. This range represents a difference in how we look at it, not a lack f accuracy [If we have no other GH gases, CO2 alone amounts to 26% of current greenhouse effect, if we still have all the other gases and only take out CO2, it only reduces it by 9%] We can know this, because of what I showed last round. However, it's true that I have not shown how much of an effect the greenhouse effect has on global warming.

However, we do know the amount of heat the greenhouse effect keeps in that would otherwise escape. Or we at least have a very good estimate of this.

Knowing this, it would be possible to determine roughly how many joules of heat energy the greenhouse effect is giving us. And based on basic math, it would be possible to determine exactly how many degrees, on average, this amount of energy is increasing our climate.

WE don't need to know all the 'unknown' factors of our climate change. We know how much our temperature is increasing. We know how much the greenhouse effect is increasing our temperature [at least a good estimate]. We know how much CO2 contributes to the greenhouse effect.

With all that data, it is quite possible to ballpark what percentage of gloabl warming is caused by CO2. I'm only charged with showing you that it is possible, not doing it myself, so don't bother asking me for a percentage. I've presented data that shows that there is in fact a way to ballpark what percentage of global warming is caused by CO2 gases. That is all I must do, as that is a clear negation of te resolution. My opponenty claims there is no way to ballpark such a figure, I have provided a way.
Debate Round No. 2
HandsOff

Pro

If it were a perfect world, and all this data you mentioned were currently attainable, scientist might dare to guess what percentage of global warming is due to CO2 emissions. But since the extent of human impact on the environment is such an important question, I suspect that the reason no one has come up with this percentage is because we do not have reliable methods to accurately collect the data you claim we can so easily plug into your "basic math" problem. Let's see if I'm wrong.

"CO2 is currently responsible for roughly 9-26 percent of the greenhouse effect."

Who says?

"It's true that I have not shown how much of an effect the greenhouse effect has on global warming. However, we do know the amount of heat the greenhouse effect keeps in that would otherwise escape."

Oh, how much is that? And again, who says?

"Knowing this, it would be possible to determine roughly how many joules of heat energy the greenhouse effect is giving us.

Maybe, if anyone were actually capable of "knowing this." But with no support for your claim, it is just another claim.

"And based on basic math, it would be possible to determine exactly how many degrees, on average, this amount of energy is increasing our climate."

Yes it would be, if the rest of the fairytale were true.

"With all that data, it is quite possible to ballpark what percentage of global warming is caused by CO2."

Yes. And the key phrase there is "with that data," but you have not shown that you or anyone else has a reliable source for obtaining it.

"I'm only charged with showing you that it is possible, not doing it myself, so don't bother asking me for a percentage."

Well, you are actually charged with demonstrating that currently there IS a way to do it, not that it might be possible if someday we had access to particular data. I will not hold you to giving me the specific percentage (which must secretly exist somewhere since it can be so easily obtained). However, I will need support for your claims.
beem0r

Con

My opponent's first question is 'who says' the effect of CO2 is 9-26% of the total greenhouse effect.

The greenhouse effect is the trapping of the upgoing thermal radiation, which would otherwise escape into space, inside our atmosphere. This is caused by greenhouse gases.

We ave a good understanding of how the greenhouse effect works. We have a good understanding of what wavelengths are present in the upgoing thermal radiation. We have a good understanding of the effect of CO2 on this upgoing thermal radiation. Energy in certain wavelengths is absorbed by the CO2, trapping the heat energy here on earth.

Based on A> What wavelengths and what intensities are generally present in upgoing thermal radiation, B> what wavelengths are absorbed by CO2 and how efficiently they are absorbed, C> what other greenhouse gases also absorb these wavelengths, and D> how much CO2 is in the atmosphere, we can indeed come up with values for how much of the greenhouse effect is caused by CO2.

However, as I said last round, this alone does not give us a good estimate of the effect on global warming, since it is still possible that we don't know how much temperature change the greenhouse effect causes.

Next, my opponent asks me just how much the greenhouse effect affects global warming.

To answer this, I would have to provide some type of evidence for what the temperature of the earth is without an atmosphere. Luckily, it's right here:

http://apollo.lsc.vsc.edu...

255 kelvin, ladies and gents. That's -18C. The average temperature of the Earth, however, is about 16-17C in actuality. Thus, the greenhouse effect is responsible for about 35C of our extra heat, and CO2 is responsible for either ~9 or ~26% of that depending on how we establish responsiblity. [No atmosphere except CO2 would have 26% the effect our current atmosphere does, but removing CO2 and keeping the rest of it only reduces the effect by ~9%]

By the 26% standard, CO2 is responsible for ~9C of our temperature, and by the 9% standard it is responsible for ~3C of it.

My opponent has constantly referred to mysterious 'unknowns', but there is very little we cannot measure.

I have done more than my burden - not only have I explained HOW we can find out what percentage of global warming is caused by CO2, I have actually done it. And all my opponent asked for was a method to get a ballpark percentage.
Debate Round No. 3
37 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by RoyLatham 7 years ago
RoyLatham
The recent book "Chill" has a good discussion of CO2 warming estimates. There is the theoretical effect of added CO2, as determined by lab measurements. That effect is about 20% to 30% of what CO2-crisis proponents claim. Crisis proponents claim that secondary effects in the atmosphere multiple the CO2 effect. A complex atmospheric simulation done at MIT does not show any amplifying effect, however. Beyond that, there are "natural experiments" where CO2 has been locally increased or some reason, and the effect on temperature measured. That data confirmed the claim that there is no amplifying effect in the atmosphere. Consequently, a ballpark estimate is than 20 or 30% of global warming is due to CO2. If CO2 doubles, we should expect about 1.5 C of warming as a result.

CO2 lags temperature by about 800 years in geologically recent times. Increased temperatures drive CO2 out of the oceans. Temperature causes CO2, not the reverse. In past geological epochs there have been ice ages with high CO2 levels.
Posted by Rob1Billion 8 years ago
Rob1Billion
but their getting closer all the time... j/k :)
Posted by PhreedomPhan 8 years ago
PhreedomPhan
Meteorologists have satellite tracking, Doppler radar, tracking stations all over the world, many measuring instruments new and old, myriad computer models---they still can't consistently predict with accuracy whether or not it's going to rain tomorrow.
Posted by Rob1Billion 8 years ago
Rob1Billion
I could win 100% of my arguments on debate.org and not one person in my day to day life would ever know, never mind actually care about it. Debate.org is useful as a springboard for ideas... that is about it.
Posted by HandsOff 8 years ago
HandsOff
Hillarious. Thanks for not trying to spin your way out of that one. Most members on this site are here to win an argument rather than honestly examine and test their own opinions.
Posted by Rob1Billion 8 years ago
Rob1Billion
DAMN IT... thwarted by Handsoff AGAIN!!

One of these days Handsoff... when you least expect it... I'm going to catch you by surprise and challenge you to an ideological duel that will leave you unable to produce such sudden capitalistic wit...

when you least expect it Handsoff...
Posted by HandsOff 8 years ago
HandsOff
"On this river, there exist multiple paper mills which pollute the living hell out of the river."

Capitalism is not you problem in Green Bay. It is accountability. If I were caught tossing 4 tons of nails on to a beach, I would probably be forced to pay for whatever was needed to completely remove them. If the paper mills were forced to clean up after themselves, they would probably look for a better location to do business or invest in technology that would help them avoid polluting the water.

As for your ankle: Hospitals are psuedo capitalist forced by the government to care for anyone who walks in the door at no charge. Therefore, they pass the cost on to those who can afford to pay. Sorry-- another government policy intruding in free markets. Government regulation is the culprit for most other high medical costs. The nanny state wants to make sure nobody faces the risk of receiving less than top-notch health care.

"I didn't incidentally wash my dishes or cut my lawn. If we wait until being clean becomes ideal monetarily, then we are destined to rot away."

Yes, but you do it all voluntarily. No government is imposign a cleanliness rule on you. Now the world is persuing alternative energy voluntarily and not for the reasons environmentalist hoped they would. If an idea is "good" enough to impose on the citizenry, then there is no need to force it on them. They will trip over themselves trying to buy it.
Posted by Rob1Billion 8 years ago
Rob1Billion
I heard you the first time handsoff... j/k.

I have to maintain disagreement with you on capitalism's greatness. I live in a city (Green Bay, Wisconsin) in which a big river divides the city in two halves. On this river, there exist multiple paper mills which pollute the living hell out of the river. If you so much as go near the water you will regret the day you ever came to Green Bay. Efforts are being made to clean the river up in the most affordable fashion, and the paper plants are lobbying to simply put caps on the PCB-laden parts of the river, instead of actually dredging them up. Capitalism is not helping us in Green Bay.

Capitalism cannot work indefinitely. Monopolies, for instance, form naturally from capitalism and in a sense capitalism destroys itself in the long run without increasing regulations and checks on the businesses that operate in it. Capitalism breeds gross inequalities among our citizens.

I got a sprained ankle this past may and my capitalistic hospital charged me $460 for my visit (after my %20 non-insurance discount), $238 for the emergency room physician, and $53 for the x-ray. I wish I never went. I'm glad my capitalistic Doctor can make $300,000 a year under this system, but I am sick of paying for it and I know deep down that my doctor would still practice medicine without the inordinately high pay check. If he had the choice between operating a cash-register at Shell gas station and being a doctor, he would STILL choose to be a doctor with or without capitalistic greed to fuel his way through medical school.

Environmentalist's impotence is sad, indeed. Are we going to blame them for not trying hard enough? Might we congratulate the people who stood in their way for the last 40 years and give them the credit instead?

Moving toward clean fuel is not incidental. I didn't incidentally wash my dishes or cut my lawn. If we wait until being clean becomes ideal monetarily, then we are destined to rot away.
Posted by HandsOff 8 years ago
HandsOff
"capitalism has worked to cause the problem more than any other factor in the first place"

No. Demand has worked to cause the "problem" -- in other words the desires of the consumer. Capitalism only helped meet the demand. Just as the move toward clean fuel is incidental while the real movement is toward more affordable fuel. The enviromentalists have been relatively impotent over the last 4 decades in comparison to what capitalism is likely to accomplish in the next 5 years. Individual freedom and free markets assure delivery of that which people value, which is not to save the ozone layer, but to save money.
Posted by HandsOff 8 years ago
HandsOff
"capitalism has worked to cause the problem more than any other factor in the first place"

No. Demand has worked to cause the "problem" -- in other words the desires of the consumer. Capitalism only helped meat the demand. Just as they move toward clean fuel is incidental while the real movement is toward more affordable fuel. The enviromentalists have been relatively impotent over the last 4 decades in comparison to what capitalism is likely to accomplish in the next 5 years. Individual freedom and free markets assure delivery of that which people value, which is not to save the ozone layer, but to save money.
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