Why our Carbon Footprint is Critically Important

by | Oct 20, 2015 | 55 comments

Why our Carbon Footprint is Critically Important

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The Greenhouse Effect is simple: heat from the sun hits the earth as short-wave energy and then heats the surface where it is re-radiated as long-form energy. That’s shown on this graphic as the yellow from the sun with very curvy lines and red from the earth with very long lines. Greenhouse gases don’t absorb short-wave radiation from the sun–allowing it to freely pass through the atmosphere and hit the earth. But they do absorb long-wave radiated heat from the earth. That makes it a one-way trip for some of the suns energy. As we add more carbon, more heat is trapped. Graphic from here: http://waawfoundation.org/lesson-plan-changing-climates/

In today’s post we’re going to pick up with the idea of proving how much better being a nomad is for the environment than living in a house by reducing our carbon footprint.  Some people question if there is a serious environmental problem and while they’re concerned about the environment, they believe the problems are so exaggerated that they aren’t willing to do much about it. Unfortunately, they’re worldviews won’t allow them to see the mountain of scientific evidence that clearly points to a coming tragedy. They look around and see the huge world and tiny mankind and think, “Humans can’t possibly have an impact on the earth so I don’t need to do anything.
That may have been true before the Industrial Revolution, back then we could ruin our own backyard but probably not have a major impact on the globe itself. Today, everything has changed as human population has exploded to over 7 Billion people. By itself that would be very harmful to the planet, but not deadly. The deadly part is our total slavish devotion to consumerism and growth.
Our highly successful capitalist economic system requires continual growth for it to function—a stagnant economy is a dying economy. Up till now it’s worked wonderfully well, but today we’re learning that infinite growth on a planet with finite resources is a pipe-dream, a ridiculous impossibility. If we were willing to be content with meeting only our basic needs, everything might be fine, but instead the most advanced countries insist on living lives of total luxury surrounded by every possible toy they can get. We have an insatiable craving for newer, better and more stuff. For the majority of us, our lives are consumed with getting it.

Both the amount of carbon in the air (parts per million) and temperature have been fairly steady for the last 1000 years. But in this century they have both literally skyrocketed simultaneously. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:CO2-Temp.png

By itself that’s really bad, but far worse is that now the less developed countries want their share of bounty from the planet. The planet can barely cope with Americans, Asians and Europeans raping her, but now the developing middle class in India and China promise to vastly increase the number of humans demanding lives of luxury surrounded by ever more “stuff.”
Sadly, we’re finding that our infinite lust for “more” can’t be satiated forever because the earth has a fixed, limited amount of finite resources—especially in light of our tremendously increasing population and developing third-world economies.

The Runaway Greenhouse Affect leading to Global Warming

Environmental disaster is coming because extracting the resources and then making and transporting all our “stuff’ requires the burning of huge amounts of fossil fuel (oil, gas and coal primarily) and the end result of burning them is that gigantic quantities of carbon are pumped into the air. If you’ve ever sat around a campfire you’ve seen black smoke coming out of it, that’s carbon. Or, if you’ve ever put a cooking pot on a fire, you know it comes out with a black soot; that also is carbon. Because camp fires don’t burn very hot, the combustion isn’t complete and the carbon is easy to see as particulates, but when you turn your car on, or get electricity from a coal, oil or gas fired generating plant, they’re also pumping out carbon, it just burns so much hotter inside them that the black particulates are burned and disappear–but the carbon is still there. All combustion of fossil fuels creates carbon. Somehow we’ve deluded ourselves into saying, “I can’t see it, so it isn’t real.” Unfortunately, it is.
There are now so many of us, burning so much fossil fuel around the world that we’re pumping incomprehensible amounts of carbon into the air—and I do mean incomprehensible. In 2014 we pumped 35 gigatons of carbon into the atmosphere, but what does that number mean? Technically it’s 35 Billion metric tons or about 38 Billion US tons. But even that doesn’t help us. We can’t really wrap our minds around those numbers (which is why it’s so easy for us to ignore them) but let me make one comparison that might help.
It’s a popular misconception that volcanoes are the real cause of global warming, because they eject so much carbon into the air. But according to the USGS that is totally untrue. Volcanologists estimate that volcanoes discharge less than 1 % as much carbon as human activity.  http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/volcanowatch/archive/2007/07_02_15.html
Gas studies at volcanoes worldwide have helped volcanologists tally up a global volcanic CO2 budget in the same way that nations around the globe have cooperated to determine how much CO2 is released by human activity through the burning of fossil fuels. Our studies show that globally, volcanoes on land and under the sea release a total of about 200 million tonnes of CO2annually.
This seems like a huge amount of CO2, but a visit to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center (CDIAC) website (http://cdiac.ornl.gov/) helps anyone armed with a handheld calculator and a high school chemistry text put the volcanic CO2 tally into perspective. Because while 200 million tonnes of CO2 is large, the global fossil fuel CO2emissions for 2003 tipped the scales at 26.8 billion tonnes. Thus, not only does volcanic CO2 not dwarf that of human activity, it actually comprises less than 1 percent of that value.

While it’s true the total natural sources of carbon in the atmosphere are much larger than the human caused amount, what’s important isn’t the amount, but the suddenness of how fast we are pumping it into the air.
Up till now, if something suddenly happened which caused a super-fast temperature swing (like extraordinary volcanic eruptions, asteroid strikes or more or less heat from the sun) there was usually a Mass Extinction Event but the planet slowly reacted and over a very long period of time it would eventually bring the temperature back to an ideal point for life, never allowing it to pass the threshold where life died out.
Today, human caused carbon in the atmosphere is the cause of the Mass Extinction Event. This graphic from the EPA is helpful to demonstrate it. You can see that the main natural sources of carbon are in a basic balance, a certain amount of carbon is produced from the earth and a roughly equal amount is taken back in so that a harmony is maintained. But suddenly another 30 gigatonnes are added an the earth can’t cope with it.

In the last 200 years humans got involved in producing large amounts of carbon and there are not enough natural methods in the carbon cycle to remove them as fast as we are pumping them into the air. Man-made carbon from fossil fuels are the proverbial feather that breaks the camels back.
Some people focus on the fact that it’s a feather without being able to see that the planet is always at a very delicate balancing point and any unexpected changes can throw the climate into an abrupt, dramatic change–just as it has many times in the ancient past. Carbon from burning fossil fuels is the source of the current sudden change.
The bottom line is, that humans are now having a bigger impact on our planetary processes than normal, natural processes because they were in a delicate balance, and we’ve thrown it off. We know that because the isotopes found in the carbon from burned fossil fuels is different than that from other natural sources of carbon https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_dioxide_in_Earth%27s_atmosphere:

 While CO2 absorption and release is always happening as a result of natural processes, the recent rise in CO2levels in the atmosphere is known to be mainly due to human activity.[68] Researchers know this both by calculating the amount released based on various national statistics, and by examining the ratio of various carbon isotopes in the atmosphere,[68] as the burning of long-buried fossil fuels releases CO2 containing carbon of different isotopic ratios to those of living plants, enabling them to distinguish between natural and human-caused contributions to CO2concentration.

Why is Carbon so Damaging? The Greenhouse Effect

Back in the 1700s  we invented the steam engine and ever since then we have perpetually increased our use of fossil fuels until it reached the earth-changing proportions it’s at today. In the early 1800s scientists became aware that carbon is the main component in the planets self-regulating climate system because it hold heat into the atmosphere. They also learned that burning any organic matter, including fossil fuels produced carbon.
As we learned more, eventually it came to be called the Greenhouse Effect because greenhouse gases on the atmosphere act like glass in a greenhouse. It allows the suns heat in unhindered, but then holds the heat in once it’s inside. Alexander Graham Bell (yes, the inventor of the telephone) was one of the very first to use the phrase. He predicted in 1917 that if we didn’t find another source of fuel we would see a significant rise in the earth’s temperature, and even suggested we switch to solar power—he was a pretty smart guy!
An excellent explanation of the Greenhouse Effect from: http://www.wohlforth.net/whaleandsupercomputer/co2impacts.html

The relationship between temperature and atmospheric carbon dioxide has been understood since the nineteenth century and is conceptually simple. The sun’s energy, which powers the weather and virtually all life, arrives at our planet in short wavelengths, such as visible light, that pass through the atmosphere relatively easily. But when that energy reflects off the earth and bounces back toward space, much of it has become radiated heat, or long-wavelength infrared energy.

Certain gases in the atmosphere that are transparent to sort wavelengths–including water vapor, carbon dioxide and methane–instead absorb long wavelengths. The sun’s energy bouncing up from the earth heats those gasses instead of escaping to the stratosphere or out to space. This warms the earth and the lower atmosphere, called the troposphere, and cools the stratosphere. The phenomenon is called the greenhouse effect because glass in a greenhouse works essentially the same way: it lets energy come in as light but won’t let it go out as heat.

It’s incredibly simple, the more carbon there is in the atmosphere, the hotter it gets, the less carbon, the colder it gets. We can express our current Global Warming problem in this simple, logical equation:

  • Burning X amount of fossil fuel = Y amount of carbon put into the atmosphere.
  • Adding Y amount of carbon in the atmosphere = Z degrees of temperature rise.

The Greenhouse Effect and the role of carbon in it is long established scientific “fact” that is not up to debate or questioning. It’s as nearly universally accepted in the scientific community as any theory ever has been. It’s not hocus-pocus, or political, or for-profit, it’s the result of centuries of scientific research and study. Al Gore had nothing to do with these equations, in fact, if you’re going to hate and curse anyone for it, curse Alexander Graham Bell.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greenhouse_effect

The existence of the greenhouse effect was argued for by Joseph Fourier in 1824. The argument and the evidence was further strengthened by Claude Pouillet in 1827 and 1838, and reasoned from experimental observations by John Tyndall in 1859. The effect was more fully quantified by Svante Arrhenius in 1896.[12][13] However, the term “greenhouse” wasn’t used to describe the effect by any of these scientists; the term was first used in this way by Nils Gustaf Ekholm in 1901.[14]

In 1917 Alexander Graham Bell wrote “[The unchecked burning of fossil fuels] would have a sort of greenhouse effect”, and “The net result is the greenhouse becomes a sort of hot-house.”[15][16] Bell went on to also advocate the use of alternate energy sources, such assolar energy.[17]

As we pour 35 gigatons of carbon a year into the atmosphere, it’s a certainty that the temperature will rise! What’s not certain is exactly how fast. Surprisingly, up till now the models have been remarkably accurate; the main discrepancy is that the damaging changes have generally come faster than expected.
I know I covered a lot of ground here, but the bottom line is that each of us must drastically reduce the amount of fossil fuels that we burn and carbon we produce while there is still a chance to reduce the devastation that is coming. We owe it to our children’s, children to leave them a healthy, habitable world. What kind of monsters would we be if we refused to do that? That makes reducing our carbon footprint the single most important and moral thing any of us can do.
In my next post I’ll show you how being a vandweller can cut your carbon footprint in half or less.

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55 Comments

  1. jeff

    You must not listen to Rush Limbaugh! There is no global warming LOL.

    • Bob

      Strangely, I used to be a huge Rush Limbaugh fan. Used to be is the key part of that sentence.
      Bob

  2. Doug

    Been sick last 2 years but hope to see you at RTR next year Bob. Your post is very informative as usual Bob, I am highly environmental conscious also. Just recently I ran into new information about a source of green house gas that pales everything else in comparison. It’s highly covered up by everyone. It is Agribusiness (cows), Please watch “CowSpiracy” movie, I borrowed a copy from a library. It’s bran new information with lots of big names getting involved. We are in so much trouble as revealed in this documentary. Our planet needs to quit eating animals and dairy to stem the tide of global warming gasses contributed by this industry. Watch the movie, it’s a life changer. My best to you and your tribe Bob.

    • Bob

      Doug, I’m fairly familiar with the issue but it’s so easy to make a joke about it that I just avoid it. I’m not a vegetarian, but there is no question that beef and dairy are terribly bad for the planet.
      Bob

      • Calvin R

        I’m in exactly Bob’s position, but we’re going to have to talk about it sometime soon. It’s important.

        • Bob

          Thanks for the info Laura!
          Bob

  3. Kevin

    I do believe that you may educated beyond your intelligence.

    • Bob

      Kevin, sometimes ignorance is bliss. At least for a little while.
      Bob

  4. Calvin R

    Unfortunately, the sentence, “What kind of monsters would we be . . .” needs to be in present tense. “What kind of monsters are those who refuse to do that?” The damage is already under way.

    • Bob

      Calvin, it’s impossible to overestimate the human capacity for self-delusion and self-justification. Unfortunately, I speak from experience.
      Bob

  5. joe

    You did your study well I always believe man will sooner or later get caught up with this I did not have any kids at all I think that if we continue to keep reproducing it will get a lot worse for the planets sake but who knows where it will really go time will tell

    • Bob

      I’m sure you are right about that ie, only time will tell.
      Bob

  6. Camilla

    Guess it’s time to quit using those plastic bags for poop and everything else. Also might want to start growing your own food. I worry about how buying in a grocers affect my carbon footprint as I’m sure by the time the food gets to me it has passed through so many different hands and processes the footprint has to be astronomical. I suppose here in the US the Amish have about the smallest footprint. They don’t generally go far from home, grow their own food, and are still using horses

    • Bert Jenkins

      Actually, in central Ohio Amish Country, many of the Amish practice the most damaging farming practices in the state, since they refuse to follow environmental ethics. They farm directly up to creeks, causing severe erosion.
      They use religion to their justification of not properly farming techniques.
      Also, they constantly nag non-Amish large-land-tracts landowners to allow them to cut down copious amounts of trees for the sake of making “Amish-crafted” furniture, while earning enormous amounts of monetary profits.
      In all, since non-Amish, non-government people take pity on them because of a perceived lifestyle, the Amish are not punished, because it would make local health departments and the EPA appear as “bad” people & agencies persecuting the Amish.

      • Calvin R

        I was surprised when I took a temporary assignment in the (Ohio) state pesticide agency to learn that many of the Amish also have pesticide licenses. They don’t shun all modern technology.

    • Bob

      Camilla, there are many ways I could do better, but as we’ll see in the next post, living in a van drastically cuts your carbon footprint.
      If it’s all or nothing, then we are all doomed.
      Bob

    • Bob

      Thanks Rick, you’re right, every question we answer about the climate raises 5 new ones. Unfortunately, it’s almost all bad news.
      Bob

  7. Stan Watkins

    Warm good. Cold bad. Love ya Bob.

    • Bob

      Thanks Stan. When Miami is underwater, they may not think all warm is good.
      Bob

      • Stan Watkins

        Did I somehow miss the massive dike construction project around Miami or are they keeping it on the down low ?

        • Bob

          I’m sorry Stan, I don’t know what you mean. There is very little doubt that there is going to be a large rise in sea level this century and much more in centuries to come. Ice all over the world is melting at alarming rates and either following the worst models or even higher than the worst models.
          The greatest danger to south Florida is the fresh water supply. The water table is so close to the surface that even a slight rise in sea level risks turning it from fresh water into salt water. Here is a quote from this newspaper article: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/business/consumer/fl-florida-climate-change-economic-toll-20150730-story.html

          Florida is at greatest risk of property loss not just because it has the longest sea coast in the continental U.S. and the most expensive coastal real estate, Berry said, but because of the state’s low elevation and high water table. Inland flooding will become common during high tides from water rising up through the ground, overflowing canals and drainage systems in low-lying inland communities, he said.
          The Risky Business Project report notes that much of Miami is built on porous limestone that allows seawater to flood inland areas protected by barriers. Mean sea level in Miami is likely to rise 0.8 to 1.2 feet by 2050, the report says.

          No amount of dikes can save south Florida.
          Bob

  8. mike

    Bob,
    It might be a little late, Stanford research suggests gravity is temperture relational, which means once Earths atmosphere heats to a certain point, the entire atmosphere drifts off into space. They suggest it happens all of a sudden but don’t yet know, based on earths mass what degree it is yet. This explains why planets close to earth have no atmosphere to speak of and a different gravitational or G-Force on their surface’s, like our moon. Other circumstances can cause loss of atmosphere, asteroid collision is one of the most common, a colliding moon is another. Stanford research also suggests in as little as 50 years, the average temp in South Dakota will be like Los Angeles. Crazy, alot of us have SD residency, maybe we know something they don’t…ha.

    • Bob

      Mike, in the ancient past the earth will have been warmer than it will get even with global warming and we still have an atmosphere. Life and humans are very adaptable and will adapt, but civilization is not and it may not continue like we’ve know it up till now.
      Bob

  9. green

    http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/641884.The_Dying_of_the_Trees
    and an interview with the author
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tr5ivfU8Ag4
    Mr. Little is an interesting storyteller.
    I heard him speak during his initial book tour.
    After compiling about half of the stories for the book,
    and due to his discouraging and sad discoveries,
    he fell physically ill for 6 months, unsure of whether
    he could complete the work.
    After some recovery, he shared his concern for the trees
    with his teen-aged granddaughter. She responded honestly,
    “Well, you didn’t really expect the world to be around when
    I’m grown up, did you?”

  10. Denver

    Hoss,
    Freeman Dyson says you’re wrong. And if Freeman Dyson says you’re wrong you are probably wrong.
    “The [climate] models they were using 10 years ago were rubbish and they are worse today.” – Freeman Dyson
    “Generally speaking, I’m much more of a conformist, but it happens I have strong views about climate because I think the majority is badly wrong, and you have to make sure if the majority is saying something that they’re not talking nonsense.” – Freeman Dyson.

    • Bob

      Denver, oddly enough those “rubbish” climate models have done a remarkable job of accurately predicting exactly what is happening.
      Here is an example. This is a graph showing the IPCC (U.N. Climate Committee) projections for sea-level rise shown in grey against actual sea level rise. The blue line is taken from satellite data which is extremely accurate.
      http://www.skepticalscience.com/images/SLR_models_obs.gif
      The grey area are a high and low range based on which assumptions are used. You can see that the blue line is what actually happened and it follows exactly the worst case that the IPCC had projected. This is happening over and over again on all our best model projections.
      Not bad for “rubbish” model projections!
      It’s hard to imagine that a guy that smart could be so short-sighted. Perhaps he isn’t aware of how much better our computers are now.
      Bob

  11. Marshall

    One of the things we enjoy most about Vandwelling is being out in nature away from all the media hoopla. Right or Left, it just doesn’t matter when you’re out in the wilderness enjoying this lovely planet. Out here we can quietly work with nature and reap her benefits in ways unimaginable living in a house. Whether one agrees with the scientists about how or why the climate is changing is ridiculous. What matters is that it is changing and we can all work together to mitigate its effects. To deny that the climate is undergoing profound change is one the biggest lies currently being shuffled around. We suggest that all Vandwellers use their voting rights and rid the world of the shameless politicians who would throw our planet under the bus in the name of greed and vote Green.

    • Bob

      I totally agree Marshall, very well said!
      Bob

      • Marshall

        Thanks Bob. Its nice to post up here again. After a two year hiatus (helping a friend out) we are once again preparing the van for the next leg of our adventure. It was five years non-stop Vandwelling on the first leg and this leg may just take us to the end. New solar and batteries and a complete van mechanical tune-up and we are on the road December 2nd! I am sure we will see you out west next year. Very tired of sitting in Florida. Thanks again Bob!

        • Bob

          Thanks Marshall, I like Florida, but I’d want to get out of there too! I’m really glad you are going to be able to! My camp is always open to you!
          Bob

  12. Nancy S

    I wish I could post this to my FB page! It’s critical information! Thanks for sharing and caring!

    • Bob

      Thank you Nancy!
      Bob

  13. Gms

    You are right. It boggles my mind people are unwilling to accept acientific evidence. The composition of our atmosphere was largely created by microorganisms. To suggest that the human race couldn’t alter the constituents of the atmosphere to as profound a degree as brainless, single-called organisms, is frankly insulting.

    • Bob

      Thanks for that info Gms.
      Bob

  14. Nancy bee

    The science seems quite solid to me as well. We are well into a new climate, modified by our discovery of the enormous energy that can be liberated by burning oil and coal. I don’t see any way that this civilization will not burn every pound of coal and gallon of oil that the oil companies can get their hands on. They will get it to us and we will buy it and burn it. A stable livable climate is unlikely. That realization is what got me on the road to living my life and making my own choices, odd and inexplicable as my choices are to some of my friends.
    Check out this link. http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/global-warmings-terrifying-new-math-20120719

    • Bob

      Thanks Nancy! I’m a big fan of the author of the Rolling stone article, Bill McKibben, and have even heard him speak. Behind the scenes the world is changing in ways that would astound you. The idea of “stranded” oil is now commonplace–that means we leave it in the ground because if we burn it is slow suicide. Governments, economists and even oil companies are accepting it as an inevitable fact.
      You are not hearing about it in the Media, but the world is going to Change in Paris next month. The entire world is literally getting on board the climate change bus–except for the Republican Party of course. It’s incredibly encouraging news!
      But, it’s too little too late, all around the planet we’ve set in motion climate forces that now have a mind of their own and they will continue climate change even as we slow down the amount of carbon we put into the air.
      While bad things are going to happen by the end of this century, perhaps we can reduce the bad things that happen by the end of the next century.
      Bob

  15. Linda Sand

    The image showing the earth being basically in balance with man’s addition being out of balance helped me understand that we are the straw that broke the camel’s back. Thanks for including that graphic.

    • Bob

      You’re welcome Linda, it’s a revealing graphic.
      Bob

  16. Nancy bee

    Bob I figure you’ve read just about everything and you are much more up to date than I am. I don’t follow climate news very closely so I don’t know much about the upcoming talks. The sciency stuff is interesting to me and I am always interested in the weather and how it might be changing from historical norms.
    Climate change is a big part of why I am seeking sun and solitude and nature at least this time in my life. I have a lot to think about and being out with the plants and the birds and the multitude of life is real comfort for me.
    Thanks for putting this out there. I would think that it would be front page news in newspapers and radio every day but it sure isn’t.

    • Bob

      You and I think alike Nancy, I just want to be happy so I live very simply and spend every day in nature. It’s just a happy coincidence that it’s good for the earth!
      Bob

  17. Kimberly Saunders

    What is Amazon’s carbon footprint? And what does living off of proceeds from your Amazon store do to your overall carbon footprint as a van dweller?

    • Bob

      Kimberly, in a previous post we talked about the general footprint of vandwellers and how it is much less than any home-owner because we can only fit a tiny percentage of the stuff they have. The average size of a home in America is 2200 sq-ft and it is so stuffed full that is also takes over the garage (no room for the car) and spills over into a storage unit. I live in 120 square feet, less than many walk-in closets in many homes.
      We’ve also talked about the all-or-nothing attitude: if you can’t be perfect, you don’t have to do anything at all. I disagree totally with that thinking! I’ve cut my carbon footprint by more than half, but instead of thinking that’s good and to be emulated, some people scold me for only cutting it in half. I’m sorry, that’s the best I can do.
      Finally, I’m not responsible for other peoples choices, only my own. Most Americans support Amazon and keep it going but they do it contributing the destruction of the earth, I do it to reduce the damage to the earth–solar panels, solar showers, Coleman propane stoves, Mr. Buddy heaters, etc. Those things reduce my carbon footprint compared to anything in a home.
      Bob

  18. Kevin

    12 Thousand years ago the world had mile thick sheets of Ice. Then it warmed up. Humans did not cause the Ice nor the warming. The world is completely capable to huge changes to climate all on it’s own. Perhaps the climate change geniuses are correct. However, I refuse to believe that the forces that caused Ice Age and then reversed it have stopped operating. Until I see science acknowledging the effect nature is having on climate I remain convinced there is science the government is suppressing.

    • Bob

      Kevin we will have to agree to disagree.
      Bob

    • Stan Watkins

      Don’t forget the melting of the Martian ice caps so prevalent in early 20th century photos.The sun is the culprit, plain and simple.The whole man made climate change myth was started by Margaret Thatcher to break the backs of the coal unions who could cripple the British by having massive strikes. Her plan was to scare everyone into using nuclear power.BTW I am old enough to remember when it was going to be global cooling caused by man. Cheers.

      • Bob

        Stan, I’ve researched this myth about climate change. The whole “Mars is warming” thing is based on two photographs taken 20 years apart. At best, they capture two moments in time 20 years apart, we know very little about the Martian climate. There is no credible science that makes us believe that Mars is warming. http://www.skepticalscience.com/global-warming-on-mars.htm
        We know for an absolute fact that Earths climate change is not because the sun is warming the planet!!! 1) We have satellites measuring the heat form the sun and it is not increasing. 2) The Earths upper atmosphere is cooling, not warming. That is exactly the opposite of what would happen f the sun was causing the warming. BUT it is EXACTLY what will happen if it’s the greenhouse affect–the lower atmosphere traps the heat in and doesn’t allow the heat out to the upper atmosphere.The lower atmosphere heats up, the upper atmosphere cools down.
        Bob

  19. jackal

    Trees absorb CO2 and synthesize oxygen!
    If you cut down trees and eliminate the rain forests, of course, CO2 levels will rise.
    The question is: Has CO2 risen more from loss of trees or more from fossel fuel burning?
    Put another way: If you restore all the deforestation that has been lost since Lewis & Clark braved the Missouri River, would climate change even be an issue, in spite of two-centuries of fossil fuel burning?
    Mammals absorb oxygen and synthesize CO2!
    If you cut down trees and eliminate the rain forests, of course, oxygen levels will fall.
    Excessive mammalian activity, either by way of deforestation or fossil fuel burning, reduces atmospheric oxygen, which reduction, by extension, translates to a reduction of mammalian populations — and eventual reduction of CO2 levels in the atmosphere.
    All this occurs at the same time as plants, thriving now from increased CO2, take back the lost glory that mammals had hijacked.
    Moral: Nature balances the animal and plant kingdoms using the oxygen-CO2 servo mechanism. Thus, no matter what man does, he will always be pissing into this servo mechanism, never able to upset nature’s balance, which is always there to bite him in the ass again.
    Conclusion (Warning: tongue-in-cheek stuff!):
    If you really want to do something about climate change,
    1) you really have to stop traipsing around the West in your gas-guzzling RV.
    2) stop blaming those who you believe are responsible for burning more fossil fuel than you are.
    You are just as guilty of producing CO2 as that hog, Al Gore. I mean, are you any less guilty of murder if you kill one person or kill a thousand?
    But if you are unable to overcome your addiction to burning fossil fuel, yourself, how about throttling back on the proselytizing, and just taking deeper breaths to compensate for the reduction of atmospheric oxygen? The renewed vigor will at once draw you outdoors, away from that wicked keyboard, where you will be unable to control the compulsion to take more pictures and post them online.

    • Bob

      Very interesting comment jackal, thanks!
      In my next post I’ll offer proof from the EPA that vandwelling is greener because it produces less carbon.
      Am I really a horrible person because I encourage people to live greener lives that will make them healthier and happier? I honestly don’t think so and don’t plan to change anything.
      Bob
      Bob

  20. jackal

    You are spot on about Margaret Thatcher and climate change. You speak the truth.

    • Bob

      Thanks jackal.
      Bob

  21. Stan Watkins

    It is ironic that you would believe the lies of the very people who would hurd you into cities and chase you off the land. Global warming is a fact. The manmade part is a lie perpetrated by governments seeking power and so called scientists seeking funding. The Medieval warm period had virtually the same tempuratures as today and lasted 400 years. It enabled the Vikings to inhabit Greenland for 300 years and when it ended, they abandoned it. Remember. Warm good, Cold bad. They greatest biodiversity on the planet is contained in the tropics, not the further Northern or Southern climbs. Mr Dawkins is absolutely correct that when any scientist uses the term settled science to silence to stop scientific enquiry, then that scientist is by definition, no scientist. Beware you are putting the shackles on your own wrists. Question anything this current (or for that matter the last) administration pushes. Look no further than the sun up in the sky to find the greatest engine for climate change in the solar system(melted Martian ice caps) . Instead of worrying about something that mankind has no control over(other than flood control which oddly enough they are not even talking about), instead, look at the people who would take this issue and enslave you. That is the “Inconvenient Truth”.

    • Bob

      Stan we are just going to have to agree to disagree, but I do appreciate your sincere concern. When you think someone is missing the mark it takes courage to tell them, I admire that.
      Bob

      • Stan Watkins

        Thanks Bob.Back at you.

Table of Contents

55 Comments

  1. jeff

    You must not listen to Rush Limbaugh! There is no global warming LOL.

    • Bob

      Strangely, I used to be a huge Rush Limbaugh fan. Used to be is the key part of that sentence.
      Bob

  2. Doug

    Been sick last 2 years but hope to see you at RTR next year Bob. Your post is very informative as usual Bob, I am highly environmental conscious also. Just recently I ran into new information about a source of green house gas that pales everything else in comparison. It’s highly covered up by everyone. It is Agribusiness (cows), Please watch “CowSpiracy” movie, I borrowed a copy from a library. It’s bran new information with lots of big names getting involved. We are in so much trouble as revealed in this documentary. Our planet needs to quit eating animals and dairy to stem the tide of global warming gasses contributed by this industry. Watch the movie, it’s a life changer. My best to you and your tribe Bob.

    • Bob

      Doug, I’m fairly familiar with the issue but it’s so easy to make a joke about it that I just avoid it. I’m not a vegetarian, but there is no question that beef and dairy are terribly bad for the planet.
      Bob

      • Calvin R

        I’m in exactly Bob’s position, but we’re going to have to talk about it sometime soon. It’s important.

        • Bob

          Thanks for the info Laura!
          Bob

  3. Kevin

    I do believe that you may educated beyond your intelligence.

    • Bob

      Kevin, sometimes ignorance is bliss. At least for a little while.
      Bob

  4. Calvin R

    Unfortunately, the sentence, “What kind of monsters would we be . . .” needs to be in present tense. “What kind of monsters are those who refuse to do that?” The damage is already under way.

    • Bob

      Calvin, it’s impossible to overestimate the human capacity for self-delusion and self-justification. Unfortunately, I speak from experience.
      Bob

  5. joe

    You did your study well I always believe man will sooner or later get caught up with this I did not have any kids at all I think that if we continue to keep reproducing it will get a lot worse for the planets sake but who knows where it will really go time will tell

    • Bob

      I’m sure you are right about that ie, only time will tell.
      Bob

  6. Camilla

    Guess it’s time to quit using those plastic bags for poop and everything else. Also might want to start growing your own food. I worry about how buying in a grocers affect my carbon footprint as I’m sure by the time the food gets to me it has passed through so many different hands and processes the footprint has to be astronomical. I suppose here in the US the Amish have about the smallest footprint. They don’t generally go far from home, grow their own food, and are still using horses

    • Bert Jenkins

      Actually, in central Ohio Amish Country, many of the Amish practice the most damaging farming practices in the state, since they refuse to follow environmental ethics. They farm directly up to creeks, causing severe erosion.
      They use religion to their justification of not properly farming techniques.
      Also, they constantly nag non-Amish large-land-tracts landowners to allow them to cut down copious amounts of trees for the sake of making “Amish-crafted” furniture, while earning enormous amounts of monetary profits.
      In all, since non-Amish, non-government people take pity on them because of a perceived lifestyle, the Amish are not punished, because it would make local health departments and the EPA appear as “bad” people & agencies persecuting the Amish.

      • Calvin R

        I was surprised when I took a temporary assignment in the (Ohio) state pesticide agency to learn that many of the Amish also have pesticide licenses. They don’t shun all modern technology.

    • Bob

      Camilla, there are many ways I could do better, but as we’ll see in the next post, living in a van drastically cuts your carbon footprint.
      If it’s all or nothing, then we are all doomed.
      Bob

    • Bob

      Thanks Rick, you’re right, every question we answer about the climate raises 5 new ones. Unfortunately, it’s almost all bad news.
      Bob

  7. Stan Watkins

    Warm good. Cold bad. Love ya Bob.

    • Bob

      Thanks Stan. When Miami is underwater, they may not think all warm is good.
      Bob

      • Stan Watkins

        Did I somehow miss the massive dike construction project around Miami or are they keeping it on the down low ?

        • Bob

          I’m sorry Stan, I don’t know what you mean. There is very little doubt that there is going to be a large rise in sea level this century and much more in centuries to come. Ice all over the world is melting at alarming rates and either following the worst models or even higher than the worst models.
          The greatest danger to south Florida is the fresh water supply. The water table is so close to the surface that even a slight rise in sea level risks turning it from fresh water into salt water. Here is a quote from this newspaper article: http://www.sun-sentinel.com/business/consumer/fl-florida-climate-change-economic-toll-20150730-story.html

          Florida is at greatest risk of property loss not just because it has the longest sea coast in the continental U.S. and the most expensive coastal real estate, Berry said, but because of the state’s low elevation and high water table. Inland flooding will become common during high tides from water rising up through the ground, overflowing canals and drainage systems in low-lying inland communities, he said.
          The Risky Business Project report notes that much of Miami is built on porous limestone that allows seawater to flood inland areas protected by barriers. Mean sea level in Miami is likely to rise 0.8 to 1.2 feet by 2050, the report says.

          No amount of dikes can save south Florida.
          Bob

  8. mike

    Bob,
    It might be a little late, Stanford research suggests gravity is temperture relational, which means once Earths atmosphere heats to a certain point, the entire atmosphere drifts off into space. They suggest it happens all of a sudden but don’t yet know, based on earths mass what degree it is yet. This explains why planets close to earth have no atmosphere to speak of and a different gravitational or G-Force on their surface’s, like our moon. Other circumstances can cause loss of atmosphere, asteroid collision is one of the most common, a colliding moon is another. Stanford research also suggests in as little as 50 years, the average temp in South Dakota will be like Los Angeles. Crazy, alot of us have SD residency, maybe we know something they don’t…ha.

    • Bob

      Mike, in the ancient past the earth will have been warmer than it will get even with global warming and we still have an atmosphere. Life and humans are very adaptable and will adapt, but civilization is not and it may not continue like we’ve know it up till now.
      Bob

  9. green

    http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/641884.The_Dying_of_the_Trees
    and an interview with the author
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tr5ivfU8Ag4
    Mr. Little is an interesting storyteller.
    I heard him speak during his initial book tour.
    After compiling about half of the stories for the book,
    and due to his discouraging and sad discoveries,
    he fell physically ill for 6 months, unsure of whether
    he could complete the work.
    After some recovery, he shared his concern for the trees
    with his teen-aged granddaughter. She responded honestly,
    “Well, you didn’t really expect the world to be around when
    I’m grown up, did you?”

  10. Denver

    Hoss,
    Freeman Dyson says you’re wrong. And if Freeman Dyson says you’re wrong you are probably wrong.
    “The [climate] models they were using 10 years ago were rubbish and they are worse today.” – Freeman Dyson
    “Generally speaking, I’m much more of a conformist, but it happens I have strong views about climate because I think the majority is badly wrong, and you have to make sure if the majority is saying something that they’re not talking nonsense.” – Freeman Dyson.

    • Bob

      Denver, oddly enough those “rubbish” climate models have done a remarkable job of accurately predicting exactly what is happening.
      Here is an example. This is a graph showing the IPCC (U.N. Climate Committee) projections for sea-level rise shown in grey against actual sea level rise. The blue line is taken from satellite data which is extremely accurate.
      http://www.skepticalscience.com/images/SLR_models_obs.gif
      The grey area are a high and low range based on which assumptions are used. You can see that the blue line is what actually happened and it follows exactly the worst case that the IPCC had projected. This is happening over and over again on all our best model projections.
      Not bad for “rubbish” model projections!
      It’s hard to imagine that a guy that smart could be so short-sighted. Perhaps he isn’t aware of how much better our computers are now.
      Bob

  11. Marshall

    One of the things we enjoy most about Vandwelling is being out in nature away from all the media hoopla. Right or Left, it just doesn’t matter when you’re out in the wilderness enjoying this lovely planet. Out here we can quietly work with nature and reap her benefits in ways unimaginable living in a house. Whether one agrees with the scientists about how or why the climate is changing is ridiculous. What matters is that it is changing and we can all work together to mitigate its effects. To deny that the climate is undergoing profound change is one the biggest lies currently being shuffled around. We suggest that all Vandwellers use their voting rights and rid the world of the shameless politicians who would throw our planet under the bus in the name of greed and vote Green.

    • Bob

      I totally agree Marshall, very well said!
      Bob

      • Marshall

        Thanks Bob. Its nice to post up here again. After a two year hiatus (helping a friend out) we are once again preparing the van for the next leg of our adventure. It was five years non-stop Vandwelling on the first leg and this leg may just take us to the end. New solar and batteries and a complete van mechanical tune-up and we are on the road December 2nd! I am sure we will see you out west next year. Very tired of sitting in Florida. Thanks again Bob!

        • Bob

          Thanks Marshall, I like Florida, but I’d want to get out of there too! I’m really glad you are going to be able to! My camp is always open to you!
          Bob

  12. Nancy S

    I wish I could post this to my FB page! It’s critical information! Thanks for sharing and caring!

    • Bob

      Thank you Nancy!
      Bob

  13. Gms

    You are right. It boggles my mind people are unwilling to accept acientific evidence. The composition of our atmosphere was largely created by microorganisms. To suggest that the human race couldn’t alter the constituents of the atmosphere to as profound a degree as brainless, single-called organisms, is frankly insulting.

    • Bob

      Thanks for that info Gms.
      Bob

  14. Nancy bee

    The science seems quite solid to me as well. We are well into a new climate, modified by our discovery of the enormous energy that can be liberated by burning oil and coal. I don’t see any way that this civilization will not burn every pound of coal and gallon of oil that the oil companies can get their hands on. They will get it to us and we will buy it and burn it. A stable livable climate is unlikely. That realization is what got me on the road to living my life and making my own choices, odd and inexplicable as my choices are to some of my friends.
    Check out this link. http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/global-warmings-terrifying-new-math-20120719

    • Bob

      Thanks Nancy! I’m a big fan of the author of the Rolling stone article, Bill McKibben, and have even heard him speak. Behind the scenes the world is changing in ways that would astound you. The idea of “stranded” oil is now commonplace–that means we leave it in the ground because if we burn it is slow suicide. Governments, economists and even oil companies are accepting it as an inevitable fact.
      You are not hearing about it in the Media, but the world is going to Change in Paris next month. The entire world is literally getting on board the climate change bus–except for the Republican Party of course. It’s incredibly encouraging news!
      But, it’s too little too late, all around the planet we’ve set in motion climate forces that now have a mind of their own and they will continue climate change even as we slow down the amount of carbon we put into the air.
      While bad things are going to happen by the end of this century, perhaps we can reduce the bad things that happen by the end of the next century.
      Bob

  15. Linda Sand

    The image showing the earth being basically in balance with man’s addition being out of balance helped me understand that we are the straw that broke the camel’s back. Thanks for including that graphic.

    • Bob

      You’re welcome Linda, it’s a revealing graphic.
      Bob

  16. Nancy bee

    Bob I figure you’ve read just about everything and you are much more up to date than I am. I don’t follow climate news very closely so I don’t know much about the upcoming talks. The sciency stuff is interesting to me and I am always interested in the weather and how it might be changing from historical norms.
    Climate change is a big part of why I am seeking sun and solitude and nature at least this time in my life. I have a lot to think about and being out with the plants and the birds and the multitude of life is real comfort for me.
    Thanks for putting this out there. I would think that it would be front page news in newspapers and radio every day but it sure isn’t.

    • Bob

      You and I think alike Nancy, I just want to be happy so I live very simply and spend every day in nature. It’s just a happy coincidence that it’s good for the earth!
      Bob

  17. Kimberly Saunders

    What is Amazon’s carbon footprint? And what does living off of proceeds from your Amazon store do to your overall carbon footprint as a van dweller?

    • Bob

      Kimberly, in a previous post we talked about the general footprint of vandwellers and how it is much less than any home-owner because we can only fit a tiny percentage of the stuff they have. The average size of a home in America is 2200 sq-ft and it is so stuffed full that is also takes over the garage (no room for the car) and spills over into a storage unit. I live in 120 square feet, less than many walk-in closets in many homes.
      We’ve also talked about the all-or-nothing attitude: if you can’t be perfect, you don’t have to do anything at all. I disagree totally with that thinking! I’ve cut my carbon footprint by more than half, but instead of thinking that’s good and to be emulated, some people scold me for only cutting it in half. I’m sorry, that’s the best I can do.
      Finally, I’m not responsible for other peoples choices, only my own. Most Americans support Amazon and keep it going but they do it contributing the destruction of the earth, I do it to reduce the damage to the earth–solar panels, solar showers, Coleman propane stoves, Mr. Buddy heaters, etc. Those things reduce my carbon footprint compared to anything in a home.
      Bob

  18. Kevin

    12 Thousand years ago the world had mile thick sheets of Ice. Then it warmed up. Humans did not cause the Ice nor the warming. The world is completely capable to huge changes to climate all on it’s own. Perhaps the climate change geniuses are correct. However, I refuse to believe that the forces that caused Ice Age and then reversed it have stopped operating. Until I see science acknowledging the effect nature is having on climate I remain convinced there is science the government is suppressing.

    • Bob

      Kevin we will have to agree to disagree.
      Bob

    • Stan Watkins

      Don’t forget the melting of the Martian ice caps so prevalent in early 20th century photos.The sun is the culprit, plain and simple.The whole man made climate change myth was started by Margaret Thatcher to break the backs of the coal unions who could cripple the British by having massive strikes. Her plan was to scare everyone into using nuclear power.BTW I am old enough to remember when it was going to be global cooling caused by man. Cheers.

      • Bob

        Stan, I’ve researched this myth about climate change. The whole “Mars is warming” thing is based on two photographs taken 20 years apart. At best, they capture two moments in time 20 years apart, we know very little about the Martian climate. There is no credible science that makes us believe that Mars is warming. http://www.skepticalscience.com/global-warming-on-mars.htm
        We know for an absolute fact that Earths climate change is not because the sun is warming the planet!!! 1) We have satellites measuring the heat form the sun and it is not increasing. 2) The Earths upper atmosphere is cooling, not warming. That is exactly the opposite of what would happen f the sun was causing the warming. BUT it is EXACTLY what will happen if it’s the greenhouse affect–the lower atmosphere traps the heat in and doesn’t allow the heat out to the upper atmosphere.The lower atmosphere heats up, the upper atmosphere cools down.
        Bob

  19. jackal

    Trees absorb CO2 and synthesize oxygen!
    If you cut down trees and eliminate the rain forests, of course, CO2 levels will rise.
    The question is: Has CO2 risen more from loss of trees or more from fossel fuel burning?
    Put another way: If you restore all the deforestation that has been lost since Lewis & Clark braved the Missouri River, would climate change even be an issue, in spite of two-centuries of fossil fuel burning?
    Mammals absorb oxygen and synthesize CO2!
    If you cut down trees and eliminate the rain forests, of course, oxygen levels will fall.
    Excessive mammalian activity, either by way of deforestation or fossil fuel burning, reduces atmospheric oxygen, which reduction, by extension, translates to a reduction of mammalian populations — and eventual reduction of CO2 levels in the atmosphere.
    All this occurs at the same time as plants, thriving now from increased CO2, take back the lost glory that mammals had hijacked.
    Moral: Nature balances the animal and plant kingdoms using the oxygen-CO2 servo mechanism. Thus, no matter what man does, he will always be pissing into this servo mechanism, never able to upset nature’s balance, which is always there to bite him in the ass again.
    Conclusion (Warning: tongue-in-cheek stuff!):
    If you really want to do something about climate change,
    1) you really have to stop traipsing around the West in your gas-guzzling RV.
    2) stop blaming those who you believe are responsible for burning more fossil fuel than you are.
    You are just as guilty of producing CO2 as that hog, Al Gore. I mean, are you any less guilty of murder if you kill one person or kill a thousand?
    But if you are unable to overcome your addiction to burning fossil fuel, yourself, how about throttling back on the proselytizing, and just taking deeper breaths to compensate for the reduction of atmospheric oxygen? The renewed vigor will at once draw you outdoors, away from that wicked keyboard, where you will be unable to control the compulsion to take more pictures and post them online.

    • Bob

      Very interesting comment jackal, thanks!
      In my next post I’ll offer proof from the EPA that vandwelling is greener because it produces less carbon.
      Am I really a horrible person because I encourage people to live greener lives that will make them healthier and happier? I honestly don’t think so and don’t plan to change anything.
      Bob
      Bob

  20. jackal

    You are spot on about Margaret Thatcher and climate change. You speak the truth.

    • Bob

      Thanks jackal.
      Bob

  21. Stan Watkins

    It is ironic that you would believe the lies of the very people who would hurd you into cities and chase you off the land. Global warming is a fact. The manmade part is a lie perpetrated by governments seeking power and so called scientists seeking funding. The Medieval warm period had virtually the same tempuratures as today and lasted 400 years. It enabled the Vikings to inhabit Greenland for 300 years and when it ended, they abandoned it. Remember. Warm good, Cold bad. They greatest biodiversity on the planet is contained in the tropics, not the further Northern or Southern climbs. Mr Dawkins is absolutely correct that when any scientist uses the term settled science to silence to stop scientific enquiry, then that scientist is by definition, no scientist. Beware you are putting the shackles on your own wrists. Question anything this current (or for that matter the last) administration pushes. Look no further than the sun up in the sky to find the greatest engine for climate change in the solar system(melted Martian ice caps) . Instead of worrying about something that mankind has no control over(other than flood control which oddly enough they are not even talking about), instead, look at the people who would take this issue and enslave you. That is the “Inconvenient Truth”.

    • Bob

      Stan we are just going to have to agree to disagree, but I do appreciate your sincere concern. When you think someone is missing the mark it takes courage to tell them, I admire that.
      Bob

      • Stan Watkins

        Thanks Bob.Back at you.