Ask a dedicated Christian if they believe that Jesus died on the cross, and rose from the dead on the third day to forgive their sins. They will reply that yes, that is exactly the case. Those people are people just like you and me. They have all gone through school and been educated. Also like you and me they believe that, as human beings, once you die, that’s it. (for the bodily state) Ask them why they believe something that nearly all of us would say is improbable, and they reply that they accept this on faith. They have been told this and it is written as so in The Bible, and that’s good enough for them.
They accept this on faith, and believe it absolutely.
Ask someone who believes that Climate Change/Global Warming is caused by the emission of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) that man has emitted on the surface of the Planet, and just like the Christian says in response to his question, they also reply that, yes they do believe this. Then ask them if they can effectively explain the heat forcing properties of CO2 in the upper layers of the Atmosphere. Perhaps 99 of 100 of those believers cannot, so the question remains, why do they believe it. They reply that they have been told by Scientists that it does do this, it has been written in peer reviewed papers, and they also say that’s good enough for them.
They accept this on faith and believe it absolutely.
I was talking with someone who actually does believe in CO2 caused Climate Change/Global Warming, and trying to get the point across on some of the simple things. These things are what every one of who ever went through school actually has actually learned in their first year of High School Science, something they accepted then as a belief, but somehow over the years, something that has been forgotten. I will deal specifically with just three of the things we talked about.
I asked him how much coal he thought a large coal fired power plant burned to produce its electrical power. He was astounded when I told him it was around 6.5 million tons of coal a year, and that averaged out to around 18,000 tons a day. He was somewhat puzzled, and said that couldn’t be so, as the number seemed so astonishingly high.
I lived for a year in Central Queensland at Blackwater. This is almost in the centre of the vast Bowen Basin, which holds vast deposits of coal. This coal is some of the purest black coal on the Planet, and those deposits make this area one of the largest and richest deposits on Earth. There are numerous huge open cut mines close to Blackwater, and that coal is moved from there a distance of around 250 miles to the vast port where it is loaded on huge ships and then exported, mostly to China. This transportation process is carried out by train. 3 large Diesel Electric locomotives haul 100 cars loaded with the coal. Each car hold 100 tons, so each train load hauls 10,000 tons of coal. All up, the length from the front locomotive to the last car is almost three quarters of a mile.
Why I mention this can now be referred back to the coal fired power plant. Each of those large plants has two of these large coal trains arriving every day, and nearly all of that coal is used each and every day.
The second point I tried to make was that, considering the amount of coal each large plant burned, then how much of this CO2 was being emitted. When I mentioned that for each ton of coal being burned, 2.86 tons of CO2 was being emitted. He told me flat out ….. ‘You surely don’t believe that, do you?’
I then proceeded to explain to him that this in fact was exactly the case.
Using three things he learned in high school, I explained that for a fire to be sustained it needs three things, fuel, a supply of oxygen, and an ignition source. The coal is the fuel, oxygen is forced into the critical furnace, and the ignition source keeps that coal burning. The second thing was that matter cannot be destroyed. The third is if that matter cannot be destroyed, then a chemical reaction takes place. Each Carbon atom in the coal joins with two atoms of Oxygen to form the CO2. If the Carbon and the Oxygen weigh approximately the same, and in fact an Oxygen atom weighs (or has a mass) greater than the Carbon atom, then the weight of the resultant is three times greater. As coal is basically all Carbon with added elements in there as well, then the multiplier is in fact 2.86. That resultant CO2, although an unseen colourless odourless tasteless gas still has an actual physical weight 2.86 times that of the crushed coal being burned in that critical furnace. This link explains it more fully, and includes a link to the US Government site, The Energy Information Administration site, that explains it Scientifically.
He was surprised that he had actually forgotten this chemical reaction part of this, well not exactly forgotten it, more like just failed to correlate it to this application.
I then explained, that keeping in mind that nearly 18,000 tons of coal being burned each day, then nearly 52,000 tons of CO2 was being emitted.
He mentioned that the direction I was taking was actually going to confirm his belief that CO2 was in fact the problem.
This led to the third point I explained to him.
Working up from that, I told him that an amount of close on 50 Billion tons of CO2 was being emitted by man made causes on the surface of the Planet. Now he thought he did have me.
I then explained to him that the level of CO2 in the total Atmosphere was 388 parts per million. He knew this level as fact, and to him, this was indeed a high level.
Then I told him that this was in fact only 0.0388% of all that Atmosphere. He found that 388PPM was in fact easier to understand, because that made it ‘seem’ high, and that the figure I used ‘artificially’ made it seem so low, even though both were exactly the same. He found that percentage figure difficult to comprehend, and referred to the number of 50 billion tons of CO2 being emitted. I explained the analogy of the small eraser in an average sized room, and also the analogy of $3.88 (CO2) compared to the $10,000 of the overall Atmosphere, and he still couldn’t quite grasp it because of that 50 billion tons.
This was in fact the point I was trying to make.
That 50 billion tons of man made CO2 emissions adds only a further one part per million to the overall total amount of CO2 in the atmosphere each year, or, a further 0.0001% of the overall Atmosphere. It’s similar to taking an eye dropper and adding one drop of water to a container already holding 18 gallons of water, and expecting that one added drop to have a major effect.
What I was endeavouring to show him was that some context needs to be included into the debate, that he was accepting Science he had only been told about, and accepting it on pure faith alone, and that in the process, he had forgotten things that he himself had once learned to be factual.
So, when I describe Climate Change as a religion, it is similar in every way to a religious faith, because just like those Christians who accept what they believe on faith alone, then the same applies in the case of this Climate Change/ Global Warming debate.
He also seemed a little offended that I should use a term he believed was derogatory, that of Climate Change Religion. I asked him why it was okay for ‘believers’ to label me as a skeptic or even as a denier, and yet it was somehow offensive for me to call this a religion.
My friend is still my friend. I knew even before I started that I was never going to change his point of view. He thinks I’m a little crazy because I don’t believe it, but he thinks I’m even more crazy to express my points of view out loud, or to write them down for all to see.