Dr. Henry R. Savage: CO2 is food


— Climate change has not arisen as a significant campaign issue for 2008 yet, but I expect it will do so. It's been some time since I've written on the subject, and I would like to add a perspective that is seldom, if ever, mentioned.

CO2 is the focus of concern about man's impact on global climate change. Science does not support this view. Water is the main greenhouse gas; many times more important than CO2. In fact, anthropogenic CO2 is a trivial greenhouse gas. We make a big mistake by viewing CO2 as a pollutant. We should view it as essential to the feeding of the world's burgeoning population. CO2 is food!

We haven't heard from the Malthusians much since the '70s, but feeding the world's people is beginning to surface as a major concern again. I believe many of us will live to see the day when atmospheric enrichment with CO2 is sought, and the clean burning of fossil fuels will be applauded. We should be careful about spawning damaging, unintended consequences. Alarmism tends to drive us to overreaction and premature actions, a la the banning of DDT, which has resulted in the deaths of millions with malaria. It's something to think about.

Dr. Henry R. Savage

Steamboat Springs


Jonathan Casson 5 years, 9 months ago

Uhhhh....whats your point? I dont get it...please explain. Whats a Malthusian?


DISRAELIGEARS 5 years, 9 months ago

...the premature banning of DDT; eh Henry? Last I knew there was more than one species (thankfully so) on the planet. Maybe you should participate in some fly-over crop duster experiments over your house. Park your pen, Henry. Enjoy your retirement.


another_local 5 years, 9 months ago

The new Henry though, can't seem to find anything on google other than his contributions to the Pilot.


dogdog 5 years, 9 months ago

I think I will continue to get my science from credible sources. This fellow is a complete idiot.


mombo 5 years, 9 months ago

The good doctor has, I'm sorry to say, lost his marbles. Who do we believe? I know it is difficult to actually look for scientific data & read it, but at least try. Who do you think might be trustworthy? Look here for the EPA, NOAA, NASA (& their Jet Propulsion Lab), & Stanford. These are just a few informative sites I could find in the last 3 minutes.

http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/ http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/oa/climate/globalwarming.html http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Library/GlobalWarmingUpdate/ http://solar-center.stanford.edu/sun-on-earth/glob-warm.html http://climate.jpl.nasa.gov/

These are among those I would call "credible" sources. You MUST consider the source when you look at information such as this!


prayforsnow 5 years, 9 months ago

what's with all these people writing in to the paper lately without really anything worthwhile to say?


inmate2007 5 years, 9 months ago

Doesn't anyone remember Doc Savage is a comic book character? Written from 1933 to 1949.

"He rights wrongs and punishes evildoers." according to his creator Lester Dent


id04sp 5 years, 9 months ago

Awright, chirren, let's study some sience.

There are two basic ways to come to a conclusion over what's causing the warming. They are (1) cause and effect and (2) correlation.

The first, cause and effect, is straight-forward and deterministic. Measurement of solar radiation by satellites shows increases of a few tenths of a percent in solar output. This assumes that the satellites are giving us good data, because all instruments have some errors in their ability to measure finite quantities. It could easily be the fact that more recent satellites can measure the radiation more precisely, showing a MEASURED increase where, in fact, no increase has occurred. If 24.4 degrees is rounded to 24, and 24.5 degrees is rounded to 25, an error of a few HUNDREDTHS of a degree in the measurement could result in a WHOLE degree of difference. Scientists tend to employ rounding and precision where it supports their own belief, and reject it where it disagrees with what they want the real fact to be. Although the lab at Stanford probably gets government funding, it's the closest to an unbiased source listed in mombo's post. The Stanford link shows that the sun is putting out some "tenths" of a "percent" more energy than in the past.

The increase in CO2 in the last 100 years is measured in parts per MILLION (PPM). An increase of 150 PPM of CO2 in the atmosphere is 15 THOUSANDTHS of one percent. A change of one tenth of one percent in heat from the Sun is 100 THOUSANDTHS, or roughly 6.67 times more. This whole flap is over the questionable assumption that 150 PPM of CO2, when heated, is enough of an increase in the thermal mass in the atmosphere to cause an increase in global temperatures. It's exactly the same as heating up 150 marbles, throwing them in with 1,000,000 marbles, and measuring the resulting total temperature change for all 1,000,150 marbles.

Okay, now, correlation means that you measure two different things and assume they are connected to each other without a definite cause and effect. Increased portion sizes are correlated with weight gain in the population, for example, even though we don't really know how many more calories the population is consuming. The mistake which MAY be occuring with global warming is that scientists are observing an increased level of CO2 along with increased atmospheric temperatures. It's just as easy to speculate that increased ocean temperatures resulting from higher solar radiation levels is causing more CO2 to escape from the oceans into the air. A warm coke gives off more bubbles than an ice cold coke. Exactly the SAME phenomenon as CO2 escaping from the ocean into the air.

The dinosaurs did not burn fossil fuel, but it was 10 degrees warmer when they were on Earth, with higher CO2 than we have now.



id04sp 5 years, 9 months ago

Plants must have CO2 to live and grow. CO2 is plant FOOD. We'd have no oxygen in the air without CO2 to be consumed by plants, resulting in oxygen as a waste product.

The government researchers who are so willingly claiming that higher temps are a RESULT of more CO2, rather than higher CO2 being a result of higher temperatures, are being funded by people who have an anti-industrial axe to grind against the United States.

If you want to know the most likely "real" truth in the debate, you need to do an experiment to see if putting an extra 150 PPM of CO2 into a given volume of air results in a higher net temperature change over time while holding the sunlight constant, OR, whether increasing the sunlight by a few tenths of a percent and shining that on the same volume of air with 150 PPM less of CO2 results in a higher net temperature increase.

So, Global Warming? YES. It's real. But is CO2 the CAUSE? Or is it a warmer sun? And is the warmer sun responsible for the higher CO2 levels? It's a complex problem, and no one simple answer will satisfy anyone who really is a "scientist."

The "CO2 is causing Global Warming" argument is no more valid than the one that says, "Passing out contraceptives in school leads to more sexual activity." It's an easy conclusion to reach IF you have an axe to grind.

There are equally plausible theories which suggest that the Earth is moving into an area where cosmic rays are less dense. Cosmic rays are known to cause micro "vapor trails" in the upper atmosphere, and a "vapor trail" is just a tiny "cloud" which reflects sunlight back into space. A decrease in observed cosmic ray density has also been noted over the past 30 years, and is presumed to be due to the fact that Earth is moving into an area of space with relatively fewer nearby stars that produce cosmic rays. We're moving into a less-dense area of our local arm of the spiral Milky Way Galaxy. Oh, and, uh, the same thing happened at the time that global temperatures rose during the age of the dinosaurs. Our ice ages can be correlated with times when we were in more dense areas of the galaxy.

So, basically, driving a Prius and using wind and solar power for electricity is not going to bring back the cosmic rays, and the micro vapor trails that reflect sunlight back into space, and won't solve the warming "problem" if it's due to cosmic ray flux.

Conserving energy is the right thing to do. Screwing around with CO2 is not necessarily the right thing to do, as suggested by Doc Savage, becasue plants do, indeed, thrive when CO2 concentrations are higher. A few percent decrease in plant growth could mean starvation for millions in places like Africa, India and China, so be careful -- unless you just don't care about "those people."



id04sp 5 years, 9 months ago

A true scientist will always look for the whole truth, not just the part that supports his grant proposal. Sadly, most of the "science" which supports the CO2 as cause for global warming theory is funded by government officials with a liberal, socialist point of view. We don't see the results of the other work because, guess what? NOBODY IS FUNDING IT!

Our environment was a wreck back in the 50s and 60s, and the EPA and tree-huggers galore arose from the environmental movement. To them, anything "industrial" is going to hurt "Mother Earth." That's why they're so desperate to believe that man is causing global warming.

People with inside info from NCAR (right here in Colorado) will tell you that there's more politics than science behind the funding decisions. It's pretty much like the studies done by the U. S. Army Air Corps which showed that Negroes did not possess the skills required to become airplane pilots. Yeah, right -- tell THAT one to the Tuskeegee Airmen (God Bless Them).

To paraphrase Sally Field, "We've got this one Earth, and this one life, so let's do ALL the science and not #### it all away over politics."


mombo 5 years, 9 months ago

Wow, I guess id04sp got the scoop on NASA & NOAA! We should alert the scientific community of his brilliant discovery, as it will reverse the past 20 years of climate research!!

Now really, who do you believe? "Idiot"04 who blogs from Steamboat, or the phd's from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory?


id04sp 5 years, 9 months ago


JPL depends on NASA for funding. Follow the dollars. It ain't that hard to figure out that NASA is a political organization.

Who would you believe? The engineers who told NASA not to launch the shuttle when the weather was too cold to let the o-rings seal the gaps, or the managers who went ahead and caused the deaths of all those astronauts, not to mention to loss of a valuable national asset.

I watched a show last night where they were talking about the Gemini program. One of the Gemini missions landed 60 miles off target because the NASA boys forgot to consider the speed of rotation of the Earth beneath the capsule as it reentered the atmosphere.

And hey, how about that foam insulation that killed the last crew to die, during reentry? And you trust NASA . . . ?

Check back with me when you've got your engineering degree and can talk intelligently about thermodynamics. Like I said, global warming appears to be real, but it's not a single-factor problem. CO2 is a voting issue, and nothing more. Unless you're prepared to kill about 3 billion folks, there's nothing we can do about it anyway.


424now 5 years, 9 months ago

I keep thinking of the Alistair Cook line from "A Christmas Carol" He says to the two Charity workers endeavoring to raise money for the poor,

"Are their no Prisons? Are there no work houses?"

How do we address the situation without turning to Machiavellian technique?

If birth control is not embraced by those who believe that multiplication ensures a secure old age, a Malthusian outcome is almost guarantied for the poorest of the world's population. The middle class in American is an endangered species. In the face of dwindling resources, somebody is going to go hungry. However distasteful the statement it carries weight in our current social dynamic, "the rich get richer-poor get poorer" As we rapidly digress into a two class system, the haves and have-nots, we are approaching a numerical wall. There will in a not to distant future be to many mouths to feed and to many heads to shelter.

It is simple math. The question is how do we make it add up?


mombo 5 years, 9 months ago

idiot4sp, JPL is staffed & managed by Cal-Tech. Where did you get your doctorate?


id04sp 5 years, 9 months ago


And let's not forget about the bungled mirror on the Hubble Space Telescope that was not discovered until the thing was already in orbit, OR, how about the Mars probe that was programmed in the wrong units (English versus Metric, or vice versa), resulting in a crash during the landing attempt.

Not gonna give you my resume, mom, but the Navy sent me to the #1 engineering school in the country for my type of degree, sent me to Monterey for a Master of Science, and then I spent fourteen years testing cruise missiles and tactical aircraft for the Navy. Some of my time was spent on activities staffed and managed by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. I'm not a member of MENSA, but I qualify based on my SAT scores from my junior year of high school -- never had to take them again; the first time was good enough to get me into the school of my choice on a full scholarship.

I think I'm qualified to ask the questions. Now you go find somebody who can answer them.

If you will go back and watch "The Right Stuff," there's a scene where the astronauts confront the German rocket scientists with the fact that FUNDING is what makes the rockets go up. "No bucks, no Buck Rodgers," was the line.

Our federal government includes several notorious tree-hugger organizations which are heavily staffed by liberal minded buffoons. These include the EPA and the United States Park Service. These and other agencies in the government are supported by congressmen who also return the favor to their peers who support NASA. It's a lot of pork barrel and special interest stuff that lets them go home and claim credit for locally popular causes.

NASA, and even the so-called "Labs" like JPL and JHU/APL (among others) realize that the way they get money for critical national programs is by supporting political opinons that are in vogue with the public and the representatives and senators they send to congress. So, while almost 100% of JHU/APL's funding comes from the government, the Space Department is a tiny fraction of the whole. The rest goes to fund R&D for the Navy in missiles, submarines, etc. But, what do you see on TV? You see the JHU/APL Space Department landing a probe on an asteroid for NASA. Capische?

Water vapor is, in fact, 95% of the gas responsible for the Earth's "greenhouse" effect. The science you are hanging your hat on ignores the contribution of water vapor to the process. 3/10 of 1% increase in the heat output of the sun translates to about 1/10,000th of a watt of heat energy per square centimeter on Earth, meaning, that in around 500 days the additional heat put out by the sun will heat one gram (1 cc) of water by one degree C. Our recent warming period has been during a time of increased solar activity, so, uh, do the math. Ten years from now we may be in a period of global cooling simply because of the natural 11 and 22 year solar cycles.


id04sp 5 years, 9 months ago


So, I believe part of what they say about global warming, but they are not giving YOU the whole picture. How come? Because the whole truth doesn't serve the political agendas as much as the partial truths? I think that's the real problem.


mombo 5 years, 9 months ago

Dr. Spencer (links provided by osiyo) does have a good resume, but, to quote from his paper:

"Most, if not all, experts in the global carbon cycle will at this point think I am totally off my rocker. Not being an expert in the global carbon cycle, I am admittedly sticking my neck out here."

It's great to have a number of ideas on the table. I can give my ideas, id04sp can give his, Dr. Spencer can give his. Then, we can listen to the REAL experts in global climate & carbon cycles. Maybe we all will learn something.


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