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  #1  
Old 01/03/2008, 07:59 PM
chrissreef chrissreef is offline
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What if humans were always CO2 neutral?

Is there a website or scientific article estimating what the planet or CO2 levels would be like if humans had/have always been CO2 or pollution neutral? (recycling, organic growing, renewable resources etc.)

If the industrial revolution never occured or if it had but technologies like wind/hydro power and mass transit fully developed/integrated? How much different would medicines/medical technology be?

How close would CO2 and other pollutants be at compared to now? Would reefs, rain forests and populations of various animals be in peril at all?

(I'm going to assume planes and boats require fossil fuels)
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Last edited by chrissreef; 01/03/2008 at 08:11 PM.
  #2  
Old 01/03/2008, 08:33 PM
greenbean36191 greenbean36191 is offline
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Well here's a simulation showing what temps would most likely be like without anthropogenic forcing (the yellow on the top graph).


I don't know of any papers off hand that directly state the amount of the current 380 ppm of CO2 that's attributable to humans, but based on the past few hundred thousand years I would assume that without our influence it would be no more than 220 ppm.

So if we were neutral from the start reefs wouldn't be under threat from the climate due to temp or acidification. I'm not sure what kinds of limits other ecosystems have, but I assume they'd be alright too since there's not much departure from the recent past they evolved in.
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  #3  
Old 01/03/2008, 08:46 PM
old salty old salty is offline
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Considering that the Earth has been through five "known" mass extinction periods, and several ice ages, I would say that the Earth has an ability to destroy and rebuild itself without the aide of humans, cars, industrial revolutions, CO2, or whatever buzz word of the week is the sole cause of irreversible destruction. Not to mention that without humans, the Earth also managed to put into extinction just about 99% of all animal and plant species that have ever existed.

I can go into my buddy's backyard in Independence, Kentucky, overturn just about any stone, and find a coral fossil. Marine fossils have been found at some of the highest mountain peaks of the world.

The Great Barrier Reef wasn't always so great. In fact, every ice age has lowered the ocean levels to the point where the entire reef died from exposure to the sun. Every time the ice age ends and the water returns, the reef regrows on top of the old reef, gets larger, and is even more abundant with life. What you see now is the fourth generation.


So, to answer your questions, the answers are yes to them all. The world would be in peril, the animals would be in peril, as would the reefs, and rain forests. This is nature and it could care less about human feelings. Consider that the location of some of the worlds largest oil reserves (Middle East) are located in what we see as deserts; barren waste lands. They weren't always deserts, hence all of the oil.
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  #4  
Old 01/04/2008, 05:11 AM
Rossini Rossini is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by old salty
Considering that the Earth has been through five "known" mass extinction periods, and several ice ages, I would say that the Earth has an ability to destroy and rebuild itself without the aide of humans, cars, industrial revolutions, CO2, or whatever buzz word of the week is the sole cause of irreversible destruction. Not to mention that without humans, the Earth also managed to put into extinction just about 99% of all animal and plant species that have ever existed.

I can go into my buddy's backyard in Independence, Kentucky, overturn just about any stone, and find a coral fossil. Marine fossils have been found at some of the highest mountain peaks of the world.

The Great Barrier Reef wasn't always so great. In fact, every ice age has lowered the ocean levels to the point where the entire reef died from exposure to the sun. Every time the ice age ends and the water returns, the reef regrows on top of the old reef, gets larger, and is even more abundant with life. What you see now is the fourth generation.


So, to answer your questions, the answers are yes to them all. The world would be in peril, the animals would be in peril, as would the reefs, and rain forests. This is nature and it could care less about human feelings. Consider that the location of some of the worlds largest oil reserves (Middle East) are located in what we see as deserts; barren waste lands. They weren't always deserts, hence all of the oil.
Yes but do you realise that all these changes and extinctions that have taken place before have never happend as quick as they are now. And it just so happens that its linked directley to the huge increases of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere from mining the fossil fuels deep inside the earth,burnt and pumped them into the atmosphere.

Is it really that hard to understand?

Last edited by Rossini; 01/04/2008 at 05:44 AM.
  #5  
Old 01/04/2008, 05:59 AM
Rossini Rossini is offline
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To doubt,today,that manmade climate change is happening,you must abandon science and revert to some other means of understanding the world:alchemy perhaps,or magic.

Ice cores extraced from the Antartcic show that the levels of co2 and methane in the atmosphere (these are the two principal greenhouse gases) are now higher than they have been for 650,000 years. Throughout that period,the concentration of these gases has been closely tracked by global temperatures.

Co2 levels have been rising over the past century faster that at any other time over the past 20,000 years. The only means by which greenhouse gases could have accumulated so swiftly is human action:carbon dioxide is produced by burning oil,coal,gas,and by clearing forests,while methane is released from farms and coal mines and landfill sites.

Both gases let in heat from the sun more readily than they let it out. As their levels in the atmosphere increase,the temperature rises. The concentration of co2,the important of the two,has risen from 280ppm in Marlowes time to 380ppm today. Most of the growth has taken place in the past fifty years. The average global temp over the past century has climbed,as a result,by 0.6C. According to the World Metorological organization, "the increase in temperature in the 21st century is likely to have been the largest in any century during the past 1000 years".

If you reject this explanation for planetary warming,you should ask yourself the following questions:

1. Does the atmosphere contain co2?

2. Does atmospheric co2 raise the average global temperature?

3. Will this influence be enhanced by the addition of more co2?

4. Have human activities led to a net emmision of co2?

If you are able to answer "no" to any of them,you should put yourself forward for a Nobel Prize. You will have turned science on its head.
  #6  
Old 01/04/2008, 09:19 AM
greenbean36191 greenbean36191 is offline
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I don't think the OP was asking if reefs and rainforests would be facing threats on a geologic time scale, but rather the imminent threats from the climate they're facing now.
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  #7  
Old 01/04/2008, 10:10 AM
old salty old salty is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Rossini
Yes but do you realise that all these changes and extinctions that have taken place before have never happend as quick as they are now. And it just so happens that its linked directley to the huge increases of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere from mining the fossil fuels deep inside the earth,burnt and pumped them into the atmosphere.

Is it really that hard to understand?


Not hard to understand at all, it's just not very believable. The scientific evidence for the last five mass extinction periods all point to things dying off very quickly. This is why they refer to these periods as mass extinctions. Nobody is really sure why they occurred, just that they certainly did. Since no humans were around to record the data, stating that they never occurred at the same rate as today is not scientifically valid. Not everything that lives then dies becomes fossilized. There is absolutely no way science can give any accurate data about the rate of extinction of animals in any thousand year period that occurred 25 million years ago. I do not reject science, I tend to embrace it. I also know that it has it's limitations. When we reach these limitations, we must interject our own theories in order to fill in the blanks. These theories are always changing based upon new evidence and discoveries. Theories are not facts, so I do not regard them as such.


Greenbean,

I have no idea of the imminent threats of rainforests and reefs due to climate. From the looks of things, the rain forests are in more of a danger from being cut down rather than climatic destruction.
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  #8  
Old 01/04/2008, 11:09 AM
Rossini Rossini is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by old salty
Not hard to understand at all, it's just not very believable. The scientific evidence for the last five mass extinction periods all point to things dying off very quickly. This is why they refer to these periods as mass extinctions. Nobody is really sure why they occurred, just that they certainly did. Since no humans were around to record the data, stating that they never occurred at the same rate as today is not scientifically valid. Not everything that lives then dies becomes fossilized. There is absolutely no way science can give any accurate data about the rate of extinction of animals in any thousand year period that occurred 25 million years ago. I do not reject science, I tend to embrace it. I also know that it has it's limitations. When we reach these limitations, we must interject our own theories in order to fill in the blanks. These theories are always changing based upon new evidence and discoveries. Theories are not facts, so I do not regard them as such.


Greenbean,

I have no idea of the imminent threats of rainforests and reefs due to climate. From the looks of things, the rain forests are in more of a danger from being cut down rather than climatic destruction.
do you knwo how long it took the dinasours to die off after the meteorite? hundreds of thousands of years i think.

anway we are talking about global warming. got nothing to do with mass extinctions.......YET.

I really had to laugh when you say to embrace science. hahaha

And yes rainforests are under a big threat from GW. The interior of the amazon basin is currently near its critical resiliencey threshold. with just a small degree of warming the interior of the amazon basin becomes essentially void of vegetation. the problem is the the trees in some parts of the forest are responsible for 74% of local rainfall. less rain less trees. vitious circle. global warming feedback and the amazon is well documented,please read up on it.
  #9  
Old 01/04/2008, 11:14 AM
Rossini Rossini is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by Rossini




lets face it. you dont want to beleive it. no matter how many studys are done,and lets be honest here these guys have been studying it for years its just that no-one wanted to talk about it before,you will never believe it. cos you dont want to.

do you know how long it took the dinasours to die off after the meteorite? hundreds of thousands of years i think.

anway we are talking about global warming. got nothing to do with mass extinctions.......YET.

I really had to laugh when you say to embrace science. hahaha

And yes rainforests are under a big threat from GW. The interior of the amazon basin is currently near its critical resiliencey threshold. with just a small degree of warming the interior of the amazon basin becomes essentially void of vegetation. the problem is the the trees in some parts of the forest are responsible for 74% of local rainfall. less rain less trees. vitious circle. global warming feedback and the amazon is well documented,please read up on it.
  #10  
Old 01/04/2008, 12:21 PM
chrissreef chrissreef is offline
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I don't think people will slow much of anything down so long as they're getting what they need for their crops (and pple keep paying for it... much like how people buy the Enquirer. If pple stopped buying the papparazzi would go away and "accidents" like P. Diana wouldn't occure (aka extinctions)

Anyway, my post was just curiuos if there were atmospheric/environmental estimates of what CO2 and other things would be like (Nitrous oxide, Mercury etc.) if humans were more conscious about their environmental lifestyle and societies were built on being CO2 neutral and as un-obtrusive as possible.

I guess it can be summed up as estimating how significant our impact has been and if things would even be different if we had been more responsible. Greenbean answered most of my question with his graphs =)
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  #11  
Old 01/04/2008, 01:03 PM
samtheman samtheman is offline
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That assumes C02 is the cause.
  #12  
Old 01/04/2008, 03:25 PM
greenbean36191 greenbean36191 is offline
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No, it assumes that all known natural and manmade factors (cooling and warming) together are the cause and then runs the same simulation excluding manmade factors.
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  #13  
Old 01/04/2008, 04:38 PM
idareefer idareefer is offline
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Wow! what a thread, been very interesting reading, we all know the earth has and goes through cycles and patterns through eons of times, hotter, colder, my father grew up in Holland, land of the the funny dutch shoes and land they reclamed from the sea, they ice skated on all those wonderful waterways during his youth in Amsterdam untill Hitler ocupied his country for 7 long years, but now this year again the canals are frozen again and the dutch are skating once more, after many years of being not frozen, things are getting colder again, even here in eastern Idaho we are colder with more snow and temps lower like they were several years ago, we shall see, and oh by the way, the hole in the ozone layer? almost closed, and Gores pulitzers prize? only time will tell as the earths cycle always does.
  #14  
Old 01/04/2008, 05:26 PM
samtheman samtheman is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by greenbean36191
No, it assumes that all known natural and manmade factors (cooling and warming) together are the cause and then runs the same simulation excluding manmade factors.
And how do your determine what effect man has?
  #15  
Old 01/04/2008, 06:18 PM
chrissreef chrissreef is offline
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Idareefer - "the hole in the ozone layer? almost closed"
I thought it almost closed... but China began utilizing more oil without regulation b/c of their industrial growth and thus it got ripped open again... even worse than b4. i'll need to double check that.

edit: Here's a link... '06 was the largest hole ever... '07 was 30% smaller. Every year it opens/closes however it's larger than it used to be during those months AND it's open for more months per year.
http://www.theozonehole.com/ozonehole2007.htm


samtheman - "And how do your determine what effect man has?"
good question... it would be an estimate likely based on how much oil has been pumped to date, coal mined and cows slaughtered. You would then take the avg Co2 each emits and also determine how much vegitation has been cut down by humans over time and what their impact on CO2 reduction would have been.

Again, it would all be estimates from an unbiased scientific perspective. It also assumes CO2 is the cause as you mentioned. (but we do know CO2 causes higher temps in a closed environment - that's just how CO2 works)

The whole post was just out of curiosity... everyone says human CO2 is to blame so my question is... "what would CO2 levels be and/or the planet "temp" (that has supposedly risen) be IF human CO2 wasn't pumped into the atmosphere at the rates it has been for the past 50 yrs... AND if forests weren't cut down (that convert CO2).

Would the planet "temps" be any different in the model? If so, then humans "might" be a cause... if the temp is about the same, then maybe humans have little/no impact and it's just a cycle.
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Last edited by chrissreef; 01/04/2008 at 06:25 PM.
  #16  
Old 01/04/2008, 06:33 PM
chrissreef chrissreef is offline
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here's some more from my original post

"(recycling, organic growing, renewable resources etc.) - if we had done this from the beginning, what impact would that be?

If the industrial revolution never occured or if it had but technologies like wind/hydro power and mass transit fully developed/integrated? How much different would medicines/medical technology be?

How close would CO2 and other pollutants be at compared to now? "
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  #17  
Old 01/04/2008, 07:17 PM
greenbean36191 greenbean36191 is offline
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Quote:
I thought it almost closed... but China began utilizing more oil without regulation b/c of their industrial growth and thus it got ripped open again... even worse than b4. i'll need to double check that.
Nope. There's a lag between CFC release and the damage to the ozone layer so the size of the hole hasn't even peaked from CFCs released before they were phased out here. IIRC it's not expected to peak until around 2010 or so and then barring more damage won't be back to normal until 2050.

Quote:
And how do your determine what effect man has?
Estimated budgets. Like Chris said, we know how much coal and oil we've extracted and how much CO2 and sulfate we get from each unit. We also know from physics how much impact to expect from each unit of CO2 or sulfate. You use the same methods for land use changes, landfills, farming, and other contributors.

How do you estimate the impacts of natural contributors like volcanoes, swamps, phytoplankton, etc.? The same way.

The fact that the estimates give results so similar to the real world numbers suggests they're pretty robust.
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  #18  
Old 01/05/2008, 01:37 AM
old salty old salty is offline
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Quote:
Originally posted by chrissreef
here's some more from my original post

"(recycling, organic growing, renewable resources etc.) - if we had done this from the beginning, what impact would that be?

If the industrial revolution never occured or if it had but technologies like wind/hydro power and mass transit fully developed/integrated? How much different would medicines/medical technology be?

How close would CO2 and other pollutants be at compared to now? "

Judging by ancient peoples such as Incas and Aztecs, it seems to me that even people who are much more in tune with their environment than todays societies still have to deal with disease, famine, flood, drought, war, etc...

Without the industrial revolution there would be no wind or hydro power; well not on the scale that we have today. The technology has to develop. The human population as it is today could not be sustained with old techniques for farming.

I work directly with medical technology. It's continuing to evolve based upon what people learn through the old technology. I am still amazed at how high tech a modern operating room is. Theory only goes so far in science; it must be put into practice sooner or later. To think that during the American Civil War, most limbs were amputated unnecessarily and without any anesthesia makes one cringe.

As a bright economist once said, "There are no solutions, only trade offs". Technology comes with it's price.

You ask interesting questions. It's refreshing to know that some folks still use their brains and make inquisitive statements.
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  #19  
Old 01/08/2008, 03:01 AM
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I believe You are correct, about the CFcs greanbean, it takes their molecules a long time, like 20-30 years? to difuse and migrate to the upper atmosphere and ozone layer. But not all countries in the world enforced the ban. It is still made for some foreign nations and in use today. But the largest portion of it's use has been suspended.

one thing to always consider it the power of large numbers. small things we do today, for better or worse, are multiplied by 6.6 billion. where as 2000 years ago the global population was closer to 100 million?

any small improvements in efficiency or per capita emissions reduction is easily overtaken by the growing human population. Equal to the rate of about the population of the USA every 4 1/2 years.

I have no idea how much CO2 the average person exhales per day, but just assuming our average methane belches are a meer one liter per day. that's 6.6 billion liters or 233 MCF of methane per day. or enough to run a 1400 megawatt state of the art combined cycle generating station round the clock. Methane is 21 times more effective as a green house gas as CO2. or equivalent to 5 BCF per day of CO2, plus what we exhale must be much more. Anybody know how much?

just one example of how our simple presence is a strong effect. collectively we can and are overwhelming the finite natural systems. So i'm not sure we can be carbon neutral anymore. We have converted too large a portion of the eco system to our carbon consumption use. for food, fuel and habitat. what's left can't keep up without deteriorating. Like the ocean. Getting more acidic.

but if we could go neutral, im sure the 383 ppm of co2 we currently have might eventually drop to a lower level. i doubt it would drop to pre industrial levels.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/new...cle2051364.ece
Not even mentioning COWS!!
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  #20  
Old 01/08/2008, 10:26 AM
chrissreef chrissreef is offline
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My vegetarian friends will love that article! Thanks for the info... I didn't realize methane was that significant... and I'm in tx... lots of cows here!!
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  #21  
Old 01/10/2008, 11:58 AM
greenbean36191 greenbean36191 is offline
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Quote:
I have no idea how much CO2 the average person exhales per day, but just assuming our average methane belches are a meer one liter per day. that's 6.6 billion liters or 233 MCF of methane per day. or enough to run a 1400 megawatt state of the art combined cycle generating station round the clock. Methane is 21 times more effective as a green house gas as CO2. or equivalent to 5 BCF per day of CO2, plus what we exhale must be much more. Anybody know how much?
We aren't ruminants so we don't belch methane and most farts have little if any.

The C in the CO2 we exhale comes from our food and the C in our food originally came from CO2 via photosynthesis (even if you're eating meat). We exhale less CO2 than the plants originally took up so there is no net increase in atmospheric CO2 as a direct result of respiration unless we eat food faster than it can grow.

Now, land use changes to produce that food can have a big impact on CO2.
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  #22  
Old 01/11/2008, 12:40 AM
kaptken kaptken is offline
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Good point GB,
the carbon cycle works fine and neutral as long as things stay in the CO2 to plant to food/fuel cycle. Which is why my fireplace is good. I grow trees out back, cut them down for firewood, and then grow some more. I cant keep up!! the trees are winning!!

But skewing the food chain to cattle, pigs chickens and sheep will also skew waste by product emissions to the more potent GHG, methane. tipping the atmospheric thermal balance. which is what the world is doing by going to meat rich diets.

True, we are not designed to be true ruminants for our sole source of digestion, but we do carry a wide range of bacteria including anerobic Methanogens and can and do produce some methane too.
http://www.microbeworld.org/news/art...ogy_farts.aspx
While the amount is not as significant as our domesticated ruminant animals, I was pointing out the cummulative effect of large numbers on seemingly insignificant things we do. I bet everyone knows somebody who has played with matches.
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  #23  
Old 01/11/2008, 10:44 AM
chrissreef chrissreef is offline
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or 1 cupcake here and there vs 1 at every meal (that darn sweet tooth!) hehe

anyway, great insightful posts!
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