Sunday, June 19, 2005

What are the major sources of misunderstanding?

In a little climate-change sidebar to its main articles, The Guardian/Observer writer Jenny Bird poses an interesting question.
What are the major sources of carbon dioxide?
Unfortunately, she goes on to answer an entirely different question.
Most man-made carbon emissions come from burning fossil fuels for energy. In the UK, the biggest emitters are from transport and the domestic sectors, of which aviation is the fastest growing. Because of their varying chemical constituents, different fossil fuels produce different amounts of carbon dioxide. Coal produces most, then oil, and then gas.
Note the bait and switch. Rather than pointing out the actual sources of the overwhelming majority of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, which is what the question suggests will be addressed, she switches to point out the major sources of man-made emissions. This pretty clearly leaves the impression that the existence of CO2 in the atmosphere is almost exclusively the result of burning fossil fuels, which is the exact opposite of the truth. In fact, of the 157 billion tonnes of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere annually, 95.5% of it comes from natural sources such as plants, animals (including human respiration), and the ocean.

Whether or not Bird meant to deceive her readers, I don't know. But given the propagandistic nature of climate-change coverage in general, it is not beyond the pale to imagine that she knew exactly what she was doing.


Anonymous tired & excitable said...

Quite right. Maybe I've been dozing, but the term climate change has itself turned into a belated attempt by the propagandists to cover a busted flush -- the headlines and invevitable spin in the Independent/Grauniad/BBC "news" entity always used to refer directly to global warming, in preference to the more neutral climate change.
"Long-range weather forecasters" anybody?

9:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Man, where do you morons come from? Texas? I didnt know you even existed!

5:19 PM  
Blogger Richard John said...


Your words might carry more weight if they were not from, well, anonymous.

On the assumption you are from the left, what I find distressing is that so many on the left rush to name-calling ahead of argument. I have to presume because you have no argument.

11:05 PM  
Blogger Scott Callahan said...


Too true. It would be nice to hear some criticism from the reasonable left. While some of the points I have made are certainly debateable, I'm pretty certain they fall short of moronic.


7:18 AM  
Anonymous Mark said...

People like anonymous might be from California. I've read in a different blog, from a couple of CA teachers that they have assemblies (school functions that students attend) where all they do is talk about the environment and how it's being damaged. Unfortunately, according to what I hear, a lot of it is propaganda, not scientific fact. So they're getting their indoctrination, along with their reading, writing, and arithmetic.

Just to add a little levity, when I was in college I remember reading about a government study which showed that a major source of methane, a greenhouse gas, was "cow flatulence", both burps, and...the other kind. Made me laugh my head off! Though from what I've heard years later, methane is a less serious greenhouse gas as it doesn't stay in the upper layers of the atmosphere for long. Nevertheless, funny. :)

12:29 AM  

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