Friday, August 14, 2009

Let's take a trip through a kilometre of air

This is a useful way to put carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere into perspective (something sorely lacking in the current debate about climate change).

Of course these gases are mixed together in the atmosphere, which is why you should ignore anybody or any organisation that talks about the planet being smothered by a "blanket" of CO2. There is literally no such thing. And most of what is there is naturally occurring.

Michael Smith‘s editorial on 4BC yesterday seemed to go down very well:
Here’s a way to understand Mr Rudd’s Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme.

Imagine 1 kilometre of atmosphere that we want to rid of human carbon pollution.  We’ll have a walk along it.

The first 770 metres are Nitrogen.

The next 210 metres are Oxygen.

That’s 980 metres of the 1 kilometre.  20 metres to go.

The next 10 metres are water vapour.  10 metres left.

9 metres are argon.  Just 1 more metre.

A few gases make up the first bit of that last metre.

The last 38 centimetres of the kilometre – that’s carbon dioxide.

A bit over one foot.

97% of that is produced by Mother Nature.  It’s natural. 

Out of our journey of one kilometre, there are just 12 millimetres left.  About half an inch.  Just over a centimetre.

That’s the amount of carbon dioxide that global human activity puts into the atmosphere.

And of those 12 millimetres Australia puts in .18 of a millimetre.

Less than the thickness of a hair.  Out of a kilometre.

As a hair is to a kilometre – so is Australia’s contribution to what Mr Rudd calls Carbon Pollution. 

Imagine Brisbane’s new Gateway Bridge, ready to be officially opened by Mr Rudd.  It’s been polished, painted and scrubbed by an army of workers till its 1 kilometre length is surgically clean.  Except that Mr Rudd says we have a huge problem, the bridge is polluted – there’s a human hair on the roadway.  We’d laugh ourselves silly.

There are plenty of real pollution problems to worry about.  It’s hard to imagine that Australia’s contribution to carbon dioxide in the world’s atmosphere is one of the more pressing ones.  And I can’t believe that a new tax on everything is the only way to blow that pesky hair away.

Perhaps we all need to just take a few deep breaths.

Posted via email from Garth's posterous

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