Sunday, May 4, 2014

What Are We Teaching Our Young?

Here's how a local paper begins it's article about Vermont's "Doodle for Google" winner:  "A creative and environmentally conscious fifth-grader from Winooski won a big honor....".  Right from the start, you see the coming slant.  "Environmentally conscious" has long been synonymous with belief in the liberal meme's of the various crises facing our planet, from the "crying Indian" of the 60's & 70's (newsflash, he wasn't Native American), to the "global cooling" and "imminent ice age" of the 70's & 80's, to the claims of the "destruction of the rain forests" in the late 80's, to the hysterical claims of the 90's & 2000's of "man-made global warming" which, thanks to the "mysterious" lack of warming over the last 20 years, has now become "global climate change".

I want to make one thing clear:  I am NOT denigrating the young lady's accomplishment.  Beating out the competition to earn the right to represent her state in such a nationally publicized PR event really is a big, big deal for a 5th grader.  Besides, her doodle is really quite good.  What had me and others pulling our hair out was a comment she made during her interview for our local CBS affiliate:  "The oxygen is running out on our planet, so it's good to have something to create that oxygen for us to breath." Penny Ly said.

Young Miss Ly has been taught that our planet is running out of oxygen and her solution is to create "artificial plants that could convert carbon dioxide into oxygen".  Pardon my cynicism, but didn't Mother Nature already take care of that for us?  And where in creation did she get the idea that the planet was "running out" of oxygen?

Liberal/Progressive environmental theology, that's where.

The theory of catastrophic oxygen depletion has it's origin with a leftist professor, Dr. Ralph Keeling, Associate Professor at University of California, San Diego and director of the CO2 Project at the Scripps Institute.  He has been studying oxygen levels in the atmosphere and within the oceans since 1989 and has illustrated his results with the "Keeler curve" (any jealousy of Art Laffer?).  He claims that his observations have not only confirmed his hypothesis, but also indicate that the oxygen depletion is accelerating at a dangerous pace.  As reported in an article with the alarming title:  Stunned Scientists Warn, World Could Run Out of Breathable Air,  "According to the data Keeling has meticulously collected since 1989 the world is running out of breathable air - and the rate that it's losing oxygen is now on the verge of accelerating."

Let me get this straight.  A "scientist" (I shouldn't use quotes, he has gotten his doctorate from established, ivy-league universities.  But still....) is basing a conclusion of such magnitude on a data set spanning less than 25 years?  I know that university professors survive on grant money and the best way to win grants is to come up with some world-threatening crisis, but come on.  This claim is obvious hyperbole.  Like everything else concerning the Earth's climate, levels of oxygen, nitrogen, helium and other gasses that make up our breathable air are constantly in flux.  To claim that a reduction over such a short span of time constitutes an emergency is ridiculous.  Of course, the good doctor is totally convinced that the trend is real and also that it is caused by man.  By the consumption (burning) of fossil fuels, creating CO2 that displaces Oxygen, eventually resulting in a planet uninhabitable by humans.  We need to ACT NOW!

Dr. Keeling isn't alone in his alarmist views.  As reported in a story published in the Weekly World News, a contemporary of the National Enquirer,  a Yale University-backed study puts it this way:  "Unless we find a way to rein in our carbon emissions very soon, a low-oxygen ocean may become an inescapable feature of our planet. A team of Danish researchers published a particularly sobering study last year. They wondered how long oxygen levels would drop if we could somehow reduce our carbon dioxide emissions to zero by 2100. They determined that over the next few thousand years oxygen levels would continue to fall, until they declined by 30 percent. The oxygen would slowly return to the oceans, but even 100,000 years from now they will not have fully recovered. If they’re right, fish will be gasping and squid will be panting for a long time to come.

Wow.  Just, wow.  First, everyone knows that reducing CO2 levels to "zero" is impossible.  Even back in the horse & buggy days we had "carbon emissions".  They also admit that reducing carbon emissions will have no effect on the level of oxygenation, that it will take over a thousand centuries for the oceans to fully recover (how do they determine what level "fully recovered" is?), and end with the tagline, "fish will be gasping and squid will be panting for a long time to come" in a blatant attempt at tugging the heartstrings of the uninformed reader in order to elicit an emotional, rather than rational reaction.

I decided to do what the authors of these articles neglected to do:  research other educated opinions.  Surprise, surprise, I found evidence of profound disagreement with these alarmist views.  Physicist Frank Heile answers the concerns of reduced amounts of oxygen produced via photosynthesis this way: "....short term fluctuations in the rate of oxygen generation in photosynthesis compared to the short term rate of oxygen consumption in respiration does not matter. The huge buffer of oxygen in the atmosphere totally damps out these short term fluctuations - it is only the long term balance of generation and consumption of oxygen which will make any change significant to the total oxygen content of the atmosphere. By long term I mean millions to billions of years! Any short term change in the atmosphere oxygen percentage would be insignificant compared to the ecological disaster of photosynthesis significantly decreasing on earth.  The disaster would be in the food availability, not in oxygen availability."

OK, we've got one source saying that even totally eliminating CO2 emissions would have absolutely no effect on oxygenation levels in the atmosphere and another who points out that it would take eons before any significant change in atmospheric oxygen percentage would even occur.

The magazine Popular Science also tackled the question of human activity causing the Earth to run out of breathable oxygen.  In the article, Will We Run Out of Breathable Oxygen if We Produce Too Much Carbon Dioxide?  Pieter Tans of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is quoted as saying, "Even if we were to burn another 1,000 billion tons of fossil fuels, we would only decrease the oxygen in our atmosphere to 20.88 percent."

Now we've got some numbers we can work with.  According to the NOAA website about 9 billion tons of carbon was burned in 2010.  Popular Science says even burning another 1,000 billion tons of fossil fuels would only produce minor reductions in the percentage of oxygen in the atmosphere.  That's more than a century.  I'm fairly sure, if left to their own devices, innovative American entrepreneurs would come up with alternative energy sources long before then.  Oh, and to show just how minor the drop in atmospheric oxygen would be, current measurements of the atmosphere are:  78.09% Nitrogen, 20.95% Oxygen, 0.93% Argon, 0.039% Carbon Dioxide, and small amounts of trace elements.  Water vapor accounts for another +/- 1%.

Utilizing the basic math skills I learned in graded school, I come up with the following equation: 20.95% minus 20.88% for a total reduction of...............(drum roll please)........... 0.07% over the course of 100 years! Based on a microscopically (in geologic terms) small data set, we are supposed to drastically reduce our standard of living and submit to the demands of enviro-extremists and -extortionists that countries (specifically the United States) pay literally trillions of dollars to combat the menace of Global Climate Change.

The real danger in all of this isn't just the prevarication of our supposedly objective scientists, it's the indoctrination of our youth in a groundless ideology.  The generations who will someday lead our nation are being led astray by ideologues with a socio-political agenda.  If we don't put a stop to it, America will no longer lead the world in innovation, poverty stricken people in the third world will lose a significant source of funds for clean water, agriculture and animal husbandry and the last flickering of the Enlightenment, the movement & philosophy that gave birth to the idea that man is sovereign in himself, is competent to rule himself and has an inviolate right to live his life as he chooses will dim, and die.

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