Richard Alley: How do We Know CO2 Rise is Man Made?

December 21, 2010

The Science Guy for Climate wonks is back, with a characteristically simple explanation for how we know the current CO2 rise is man made.

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3 Responses to “Richard Alley: How do We Know CO2 Rise is Man Made?”

  1. otter17 Says:

    Nice little presentation. If only the major news outlets would produce documentary-style coverage on climate change featuring practicing scientists like Dr. Alley, Hansen, Santer and the like, the world would be a better place.

    A couple questions and a request:

    Question #1:
    Why does melting in a volcano not consume oxygen? Does it use oxygen from an underground source (non-atmospheric O2)? I have only a collegiate introductory knowledge of chemistry, but wouldn’t there be oxygen required in some way to create CO2?

    Question #2:
    What type of materials are melting beneath the earth’s crust to create the CO2 out-gassing from volcanoes? I was under the impression that there were just rocks melting down there to create lava and ash during an eruption. Are there hydrocarbons melting as well?

    Request:
    There should be a climate crock video that addresses the “humans ain’t causing it” myth. There is plenty of evidence that puts the human fingerprint on the CO2 in our atmosphere/oceans: the isotopes measured fit the mark of fossil fuel burning, the measured CO2 concentrations in water and air have seen a noticeable increase since the dawn of the industrial age (not a coincidence), the oxygen content has been decreasing relative to CO2 increases (as Dr. Alley points out here), and the records of our worldwide consumption of fossil fuels seem consistent with the increases in CO2.

    The “CO2 is too small a part of the atmosphere to make a difference” video showed the USGS data that suggests that humans put out over 100x the amount that volcanoes do. That is a good start, but a video devoted to the denial of human involvement in the recent climate change may be in order. If there is already a video covering this, let me know.

  2. greenman3610 Says:

    melting rocks does not involve combustion – which would consume oxygen.
    the earths heat comes from several sources:

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=why-is-the-earths-core-so

    Co2 outgassing underground comes from the melting of carbonate material subducted
    under the earth by continental plates.
    see the video

    which also features Dr Alley

    You’re right about the need for a “humans aint causing it” vid, and this posting might be the nucleus for something like that in the coming year. Thanks for the suggestion.

  3. otter17 Says:

    Yay! Thanks for the info. There has been so much great stuff shared on this webpage recently.


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