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Carbon Dioxide and Earth's Future: Pursuing the Prudent Path

Introduction


Based on the voluminous periodic reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the ongoing rise in the atmosphere's CO2 concentration has come to be viewed as a monumental danger -- not only to human society, but to the world of nature as well. And the picture is not pretty: searing heat waves killing the poor and elderly while drying up precious farmland, melting polar ice caps raising sea levels and flooding coastal lowlands, more frequent and ferocious hurricanes destroying everything in their paths, devastating diseases spreading to regions previously considered immune to them, migrating plants and animals unable to move to cooler locations fast enough to avoid extinction, disappearing coral reefs dissolving into oblivion as the oceans warm and turn acidic, and spreading anarchy within and among nations, as fighting erupts over dwindling water supplies and access to land to grow the food they so desperately need to support their burgeoning populations.

It is no wonder that such people are appropriately referred to en masse as climate alarmists, being as alarmed as they are about future climatic conditions on earth. But are these horrific "doomsday scenarios" as set-in-stone as the public is led to believe? Do we really know all of the complex and interacting processes that should be included in the models upon which these scenarios are based? And can we properly reduce those processes into manageable computer code so as to produce reliable forecasts 50 or 100 years into the future? At present, the only way to properly answer these questions is to compare climate model projections with real-world observations. Theory is one thing, but empirical reality is quite another. The former may or may not be correct, but the latter is always right. As such, the only truly objective method to evaluate climate model projections is by comparing them with real-world data.

In what follows, we conduct just such an appraisal, comparing against real-world observations ten of the more ominous model-based predictions of what will occur in response to continued business-as-usual anthropogenic CO2 emissions: (1) unprecedented warming of the planet, (2) more frequent and severe floods and droughts, (3) more numerous and stronger hurricanes, (4) dangerous sea level rise, (5) more frequent and severe storms, (6) increased human mortality, (7) widespread plant and animal extinctions, (8) declining vegetative productivity, (9) deadly coral bleaching, and (10) a decimation of the planet's marine life due to ocean acidification. And in conjunction with these analyses, we proffer our view of what the future may hold with respect to the climatic and biological consequences of the ongoing rise in the air's CO2 content, concluding by providing an assessment of what we feel should be done about the situation.

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