newsflash: animals exhale carbon dioxide! 7.27.2005

More greenhouse gas found in rain forests
The rain forests of South America are holding onto carbon dioxide for a lot less time than previously believed, which raises implications for how to deal with global warming, according to a new study.

Most of the carbon dioxide being "exhaled" or released by wetlands and rivers has spent around five years sequestered in trees, according to a new study performed by researchers from the University of Washington, Rice University and the Stroud Water Research Center.
"Previous studies failed to detect the rapid recycling of forest carbon because they never dated the invisible greenhouse gas as it is literally exhaled by the river organisms," Aufdenkampe said in a statement. "They (previous observers) assumed that the return of this forest carbon to the atmosphere must be a slow process that offered at least temporary respite from greenhouse effects."

So let's see if I've got this straight.

In addition to being consumed by trees, carbon dioxide is also consumed by plants in the river. Those plants are then eaten by critters in the river, who then exhale the carbon that was originally in the plant matter in the form of carbon dioxide--and the average carbon atom spends around five years locked up in plant matter.

Which apparently tips the scales, how, exactly?

The most troubling part of this report is that, dispite the fact that animals exhale carbon dioxide--a fact that I remember learning in biology class, so I don't think it's all that mysterious--the report goes on to assure us that despite this evidence to the contrary, the man-made green house effect is a FACT, and anyone who thinks otherwise is, well, on par with the crazy homeless people shuffling around in the rain. (Or maybe they're worse--because after all, we should feel compassion for the homeless.)
Because carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that can trap solar energy, many scientists postulated that the rain forests could help curb the impact of global warming caused by industrialization.

So clearly, the answer is simple: kill all the animals in the rain forest.


Once more, the question of global warming is in fact three questions. (a) Is the earth getting hotter? (b) If 'a' is true, is this caused by man? (c) If 'a' and 'b' are true, can we do anything about it?

So far, school is out on question 'a'--after all, for everyone who has a report proving the earth is getting warmer, along comes someone who shows it's flawed reasoning. Worse, because most people who are the cheerleaders of the global warming supporters come from the "European Primitivism" school of thought which teaches "technology bad", questions (a) and (b) are often conflated, and when evidence of warming are sought, they are sought within the context of the timeline of the industrial revolution. Witness the aformentioned "hockey stick" link, where evidence was "manufactured" through a faulty computer program to show warming coinciding with the 20th century, or people who deny the existance of the Maunder Minimum and the accompanying little ice age as a global phenomina. After all, if changing sun spot patterns can lead to a little ice age, or the corresponding flux in sunspots in prior years--without industrialization, mind you--lead to a period much warmer than today's weather--then we would have to consider the possibility that global warming could occur normally without human intervention.

So here we have CNet News simply asserting as "fact" that the green house is happening thanks to man's industrialization--yet, despite this fact, rain forests actually produce carbon dioxide.

What is a good chicken little to do, but take the next logical step and kill all the animals in the rain forest?

posted by William Woody at 9:41 PM

I think your problem is bad science. The fact that animals exhale carbon dioxide isn't headline news. That's where plants get the CO2 they use in the normal course of the carbon cycle. That contribution in this particular ecosystem just hadn't been measured until now.

The other problem here is that it is a carbon CYCLE. That is, it's normally a homeostatic mechanism. Rainforest river critters have been eating rainforest river plants and exhaling CO2 for hundreds of millions of years, so even though scientists didn't know about it, it didn't have any NET effect on the amount of CO2 in the air. So discovering where some of that CO2 has been living has nothing to do with the observed rise in atmospheric CO2 in the last century.

This is all scientifically interesting because it means that scientists have to readjust their models for how rainforests might buffer the CO2 being pumped out by world industry. It affects how they model future trends - specifically, it makes them worse for us, and increases the need to reduce CO2 emissions by the industrialized and developing worlds. But it doesn't make a bit of difference to the science showing the human role in global warming thus far.

Y'all on the right just need to adjust to the fact that almost no reputable scientists support you on this issue any more. Even El Shrub is beginning to acknowledge that industry is causing global warming, because he was looking more and more foolish, and more and more obviously obstructionist, for denying it. He's keeping up his end of the deal with Big Oil now by arguing that it would simply be too expensive to reduce CO2 emissions, and suggesting that we just need to accept the inevitability of global warming.

Anonymous The Lone Arranger at 11:21 AM  

Critters have been eating rainforst plants for millions and millions of years, eh? And how long did you say scientist have been observing CO2 patterns? A Century? Do you really believe the temperature of the Earth 100 years ago was really the temp. of the Earth 1 million years ago. Get a grip. Have the ice caps always been there? I'll answer for ya, "no". Guess what, they happened during a Ice Age. I bet you would have been a champion to stop global "Freezing" then too, right?
Blogger Tim at 5:03 PM  

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