Is this the truth about the “climate change deniers”?

in science •  last year

Not for the first time today I had a creepy feeling. The feeling you get when you think that all the time you were wrong.

All the time I believed that the “climate change deniers” were a strange mix of people consisting of humans that

  1. put more trust in a 2000 year old book written by some unknown guy then into 2000 highly intelligent specialists and some 2 million assorted scientists of all fields

  2. fear change and do not want to change and therefore put the head in the sand like an ostrich

  3. do not want to believe anything their political “enemy” says

Was I wrong?

But somehow, again and again, I have seen the same thing happen. (Or not happen?)
The thing that makes me bang my head on the table is something really easy. Or so I thought. Basic math.

pic CC0

Okay, it is not the 1+1 that is the problem. It is the totally, completely, fully mix up of relative numbers with absolute numbers or banging numbers together that have nothing to do with each other, living on different continents, so to speak.

4% of one million is not 4% of 400

One error I have seen frequently is that a “denier” takes the current amount of CO2 in the air – 400ppm, 400 parts per million – and takes the number of “percentage of CO2 emission that are human made”.

That is 4%.

And then they say:

See, 4% of 400ppm is just 16ppm, that cannot be responsible for a climate change!!

That is actually two mix ups, together with an (in other places dangerously) underestimate of what a tiny number can mean.
But I only want to talk about one error: The base numbers.

Because the 4% is NOT based on 400ppm. It is based on emissions.

pic CC0

There is a reason it is called CO2-cycle. It is called so because it is a cycle.
There is CO2 getting in and out of the air constantly. That is not different from the water cycle.

If you have 1 milllion CO2 units (just example numbers) going into the air each year and 1 million CO2 going out of the air each year, the 400ppm would not change.
Now add 4% human made. You suddenly have 40’000 CO2 units more. But not 16ppm. Two completely different numbers.

Depending on how big your unit of CO2 is, that may be unmeasurably tiny or easily double the ppm. In the real world, that 4% amounts to roughly 1,5ppm per year.

But even if you explain that, show that mechanism in other examples (like the amount of people in a train station (emissions) per year is different from those in the current train (ppm)), most of the “deniers” don’t get it even at the third try.

Did you made this experience, too? With this problem? Or other parts of the “discussion” where “proofs” were made based on totally inappropriate numbers?


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sounds logical, but i dint get it fully. the point is what you describe happens all the time. normal, even interested people are flooded with "information" and not able or willing to go that deep into details how important they might be. that makes it very important to have people like you pointing out the details. but sometimes we are not even aware of the bigger picture. so mixing up facts creates the smog to hide the real matter and keep people cached and finally discouraged to go further, here is where you come in...


The point is that something that is REALLY EASY is not seen even if you point it out.

If someone asks "why is there ice on the street" and you say "it is under 20°C" and the answer is: yeah, but why is there ice one the street, then you are at least slightly irritated, aren't you?

A neat and easy explanation, that those with closed minds can never understand...

I wrote a post here on steemit some time ago because people were throwing the word 'proof' when what they actually meant was 'evidence'. That the evidence was extremely poor quality, and any amount of it could never prove anything, wasnt an issue for them, just because they cried 'proof', to them it was unquestionably a fact.


Yes, that is a regular occurance. Some dubious source has a graph or something else that is "the ultimate proof". And often it is not even "proofing" it's claims because of errors like the one in my post.

The problem is not that I don't believe that we are doing our part in the climate change, I just fail to believe the urgency and drama surrounding it.

According to your numbers we would have 700 ppm in 200 years, which would still be only half of the 1500 ppm we had 50 Million years ago.

Long term we are suspected to slowly move out of the ice age cycle, however if we actually see an outbrake over 700 ppm I would start to get concerned as well, but for now there are much more pressing environmental issues then CO².

I am actually not fond of the oil and coal industry raiding our resources, but that got nothing to do with CO² and much more with limited natural resources. Fossil Carbon is also a soup of our ancestors, that we burn, if you wanna go all spiritual on it.


too bad it's not 50 million years ago ;)

The urgency is simple: It is a snowball effect. You have to stop it before it gets too big, and that time window is already nearly closed. And if we really are getting into a warm time, then it is even more urgent.


But again, even if the climate thing is total bullshit, the worst that can happen is that we get an slightly overpriced nicer earth. If you compare that to all the other overpriced stuff that many people buy and that only makes them less happy, that is still an improvement.


The only thing that really bugs me is the centralized global aspect of all the climate agreements. I would not be willing to pay the price of establishing a world government. ;)


I put solar panels on my house so its better for the environment. Then I find out about #SolarCoin which is a non-governmental incentive for solar PV and the clean energy future. We are showing governments how decentralized community action can reduce (and one day I hope replace) the need for FiT or other incentives.
Although SLR is not a carbon credit, it is strong evidence of clean energy and may become a proxy at some point.

Calling @originalworks :)
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Pretty cool article lennstar (sorry late to the party haha)
I see some people saying CO2's not a big deal right now etc.. But I just want to point out something real quick :

Many ideas like that comes from occidental peeps. Living in nice suburb areas where you get a pretty cool AQI 25 (It's the pollution index, based on many things but also the particules from cars and human trash). Now, get closer to countries like China, Vietnam or other over polluted ones where nature looks like a post apocalyptical world. And the fog is so dense you don't see 1m in front of you.

You'd wish the world to be green. (Actually I'm an occidental peep rom a nice suburb etc, but from my pov, we don't get how bad it is until we actually see it, especially in Europe or North America where we don't see such heavy problems, it seems far away and out of reach.)
Sorry for the rambling =))) Cheers !


Too bad the people on the top cannot feel it. It's not Trumps golf island that sinks right now, just the home of a few thousand poor people.

I am quite sure the reason why China is going so hard towards more eco friendliness is that they always have their biggest meetings in Beijing. They KNOW what smog combined with increasing desertification means.


Agree, and not only poor people, I forgot the name of the islands but some are pretty fortunate with big tourist economy, just they are 1m above sea level =/

Also Chinese people begun to complain about the Smog since a few years and so it is quite a problem there. But Trump's living the Paris agreement puts China on top of the discussions I guess, which is a good thing for them so economically and politically it aligns.

But in other countries they just manipulate the pollution numbers when big meetings happen haha -_-