Confused Blue Eyes

  griffon 56 16:16 17 Apr 07

Forgive me for opening the Pandora's Box of Global Warming again but I want a scientific answer to this. How is it that if Carbon Dioxide is 1.5 times as heavy as air it gets up into the highest reaches of the atmosphere? and if water vapour is a more potent greenhouse gas than CO2 how is it we're worried about CO2 when its occurrence in the atmosphere is 1500 times less than water vapour? Doh.

  jack 17:27 17 Apr 07

Looks like you may be onto something there- perhaps maybe
I too have my suspicions about media- bandwagons- politicians - jumping there on - all to wind up with
hen fruit on face.
Im muy humble uneducated view - climate change is a natural event that occurs cyclically- just like Ice Ages - Indeed at one time it was thought CO2 would mask the sunlight and bring one on
Now the whole situation has reversed - instead of cooling we are warming- we are told.
Let 'em speculate away it'll happen anyway.

  Forum Editor 23:11 17 Apr 07

water vapour, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, halogenated fluorocarbons, ozone, perfluorinated carbons, and hydrofluorocarbons.

What happens is that these gases scatter the heat that comes through the earth's atmosphere, and cause the air and the surface of the planet to warm up. They then act as a blanket, trapping some of the warmth, preventing it from radiating back into space.

It's a good job we have these gases in our atmosphere, because if we didn't we would all freeze to death as the solar heat escaped and the entire surface of the planet froze each night.

The problem we have now is that we have too much of the greenhouse gas mixture, and it is holding back a little too much solar heat - the planet's surface is warming. We can't do much about water vapour, but we can affect the amount of carbon dioxide, and some of the other ingredients that enter the mix. On average humanity creates around a ton of Carbon per person per year and dumps it into the atmosphere. Many countries dump far more than that average, America for instance, manages about five tons per person, whereas Sweden has a 'footprint' of less than two tons.

Carbon dioxide features strongly in the news because it's something we can control - each of us can actively reduce our carbon footprint by moderating our lifestyle.

  PalaeoBill 01:20 18 Apr 07

griffon 56

Weather is the answer to your specific question about the relative mass of CO2 and air. The atmosphere is one big convection system. CO2 is indeed heavier than air and sinks to the ground, where it is heated, expands and rises. With regard to water vapour, this is a little trickier. Water vapour has both a warming (blanket) effect and a cooling (ice crystals reflect sunlight back out into space) effect. As Forum Editor points out its the mix of gasses that is changing and we dont know what effect this will have.
The Global Warming Hypothesis may be wrong; Climate Change could be the result of Solar Cycles or some other as yet unexplored process. What we do know is that the climate is changing and the balance of gases in the atmosphere is also changing. It wouldn't do any harm to reduce our carbon footprint.

  griffon 56 09:46 18 Apr 07

Thank you all for a complete answer. You see, I had thought that as God had made grass to grow on the ground He had made CO2 to be heavier in order to feed it. However, your answers, apart from being well-received, all hint at something suspicious, that we are attacking what we can and the easiest target into the bargain.

It's noticeable that all politicians jump on the lowest band wagon and I'm afraid that we might find out too late that we ought to be attacking, not CO2 generation, but some other controllable factor which we have ignored in the rush to be seen as politically correct.

There is no firm evidence that CO2 IS the warming factor. Why aren't we applying as much effort and education to finding ways to combat Global Warming by scientific means rather than just pissing into the wind in reducing CO2 emissions?

If a method can be developed to control climate on a large scale it would be far more valuable than simply trying to chip away at a fringe influence which might not be critical anyway.

  griffon 56 09:49 18 Apr 07

P.S. I should have realised that PalaeoBill would have known the answer. From his name he would have been around when it all began!

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