CO2 Problems: Parallel concerns breed parallel denial

You are likely already aware of the CO2 problem: trace gasses (primarily carbon dioxide) in the earth’s atmosphere alter its thermal properties, causing it to retain heat. Human activity, primarily the burning of fossil fuels, is increasing the carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere and as a result heating up the earth’s surface. However, a less appreciated fact is that in addition to being a greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide is acidic. This is not at all controversial; it was well recognized more than a century ago in Svente Arhennius’s pioneering article ‘On the influence of carbonic acid in the air upon the temperature on the ground’.  When we burn fossil fuels, we add CO2 to the atmosphere, but about a quarter that carbon winds up in the oceans. This increases the acidity of the oceans, with potentially severe repercussions for organisms like corals, which build shells out of calcium carbonate and suffer under more acidic conditions. The chemistry is relatively straightforward, and not especially controversial; if you would like more information on the subject, Skeptical Science has an excellent introductory series written by Doug Mackie, Christina McGraw, and Keith Hunter.

chuckbot, Skeptical Science, 10 November 2011. Full article.


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