Economist Bjorn Lomborg, PhD provides useful information and links in his article (below). For that we can be grateful. However, his article contains a point of misinformation that is very important. He writes in Wall Street Journal, “Climate change is real and man-made; have no doubt about that.” While it is true that climate change is real. It is not true that climate change is man-made, and certainly not by man-made CO2.
Humans cannot change net global average atmospheric CO2 concentration. We can not increase CO2 concentration and we cannot decrease CO2 concentration at the global level. Therefore, the contribution of CO2 by humans has no effect on global temperature or climate change. CO2 from burning fossil fuels does not increase net global average atmospheric CO2 concentration nor change the rate of growth of CO2 concentration, nor increase earth’s temperature. CO2 concentration in air and CO2 concentration in water are determined primarily by Henry’s Law, the Law of Mass Action and Le Chatelier’s principle.
Physicists Roger Cohen, PhD and Professor William Happer, PhD explain carbonate chemistry in sea water in their September 18, 2015 paper titled, “Fundamentals of Ocean pH.” They point out, “This brief note is a quantitative review of the physical chemistry of ocean pH. High school chemistry and algebra should provide enough background to follow the discussion. An excellent introduction to the chemistry of the oceans can be found in the book: Seawater: Its Composition, Properties and Behavior, by Wright and Colling.” The following figure 6 is from the Cohen and Happer paper.
Figure 6: Nat, the number of moles of CO2 in the atmosphere, and Noc, number of moles of CO2 dissolved in the oceans, versus the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere. The ocean alkalinity is [A] = 2.3 × 10−3 M and the temperature is T = 25 C. (Cohen & Happer, 2015)
We can see from this graph that the amount of CO2 (moles) in the oceans is much larger than the amount of CO2 (moles) in the atmosphere. (One mole is 6.023 X 1023 molecules.) Like soda pop or beer, if you heat or agitate water or seawater then CO2 gas is emitted into the air. Henry’s Law defines the ratio of the CO2 gas in the air above a liquid versus CO2 gas in the liquid for any given temperature.
Henry’s Law coefficient Kh is different for each gas and liquid combination. It can be calculated, but it is conveniently found in tables for various gas-liquid combinations and temperatures. 𝐾h (𝑇) = [CO2 (g)]/ [CO2 (aq)] The Henry’s coefficient times temperature in Kelvin equals stoichiometrically the moles of atmospheric CO2 gas divided by moles of aqueous CO2 gas. This is known as the Henry’s Law partition ratio, which is also known as the solubility of CO2 gas in seawater. Henry’s coefficient and partition ratio are dimensionless values which are independent of the source of the CO2 and independent of the amount of CO2.
Concentration is an extensive property of matter when there is only one phase of matter present, for example one gas phase or one liquid phase; the ratio of two concentrations is an intensive, dimensionless property of matter. The concentration of CO2 gas in air versus the concentration of CO2 gas in sea water is an intensive property of matter. When the two phases are in contact with each other, then the concentration within each phase adjusts to the Henry’s partition ratio. An example of an intensive property of matter is molecule weight. Increasing the amount of material does not change its molecular weight. Adding more CO2 to the air does not change the partition ratio of CO2 gas between the air and water. Adding more CO2 to air forces more CO2 to be absorbed into water so that the air/water ratio is maintained for a given temperature. And this is true whether the CO2 is in atmosphere, in rain, in water in soil, in lung and gill tissue, etc. Adding more CO2 to the air forces the phase-state equilibrium equation CO2(g) ↔ aqueous CO2(g) to the right, to the product side of the reaction. As more CO2 gas dissolves in seawater, in turn, that higher concentration of aqueous CO2(g) forces the CO2 hydration equilibrium equation to the right, so more CO2 gas ionizes and reacts with seawater to form either bicarbonate ions or carbonic acid.
The reactants in the CO2 hydration equilibrium equation are simply aqueous CO2 gas + H20 liquid. And liquid H20 exists as 2 hydrogen ions H– (known as hydronium ions) and 1 hydroxide ion OH+. Depending on instantaneous conditions in the water, the reaction products are either the ions H+ + HCO– or H2CO3, that is, either bicarbonate ion or carbonic acid respectively. H2CO3 i.e. carbonic acid, exists in water as the ionic forms 2H– and CO32- that is 2 hydrogen ions and one carbonate ion. Only about 1% of the CO2 gas which is absorbed in seawater remains as non-ionic uncharged aqueous CO2 gas. Aqueous CO2 gas and carbonic acid and bicarbonate ion convert reversibly so fast and with so little energy change that they are often considered as one entity, dissolved inorganic carbon (DIC.)
The carbonate chemistry described is not part of Henry’s Law. However, the carbonate chemistry and the CO2 hydration reaction are reversible reactions, rapidly reversible by warming the water surface for example, but also by agitating the seawater. Average sea surface temperature (SST) has been increasing slowly since the early 20th century. The causes of this sea surface warming are beyond the scope of this paper except to say that increasing human CO2 emissions are not one of the causes. Higher temperature at the gas-liquid interface surface between air and ocean causes rapid CO2 gas emission from the surface. The bicarbonate ions and carbonic acid products formed when CO2 reacts with water are rapidly (in seconds) reversible to aqueous CO2 gas in ocean surface.
At the global level, the ratio of CO2 gas concentration in air versus CO2 gas concentration in water surface, that is the Henry’s Law partition ratio, is a function of temperature, and to less extent in local conditions alkalinity, salinity (considering all dissolved element not only sodium chloride) and winds, storms, ocean currents and other disturbances such as biological additions and subtractions of CO2. Perturbations to the trend of the Henry’s law partition ratio (e.g. additions or subtractions of human CO2) are rapidly returned to trend. Residence time of CO2 in air does not change the CO2 concentration in air.
A container of seawater at equilibrium in calm, open air in the shade also contains carbon dioxide gas (CO2 gas) and also the reaction products of CO2 gas which reacted with the seawater. No human action or existence was needed to dissolve CO2 gas in seawater nor to cause the reactions. CO2 gas was absorbed from the air. CO2 gas is highly soluble in pure water and more soluble in seawater. If the container of seawater is outside at 10 degrees C, it contains more CO2 gas than in summer at 25 degrees C. The difference in CO2 concentration in the water samples at the two temperatures can be measured.
We see by comparing the graph above with the graph immediately below, both at 25 degrees C, CO2 gas is about 37.5 times more soluble in water than O2 and that both gases are more soluble in cold water than warm water. Generally, we know oxygen is plentiful in ocean because fish and other sea life live there and absorb oxygen gas through their gills for their respiration. Henry’s Law also applies to the solubility of oxygen and other gases in water and in seawater, and oxygen and carbon dioxide in blood, etc.
The graph immediately above is by retired professor of chemistry and materials science Daniele Mazza who has software code available for this purpose. He explains in his easy-to-read online website and textbook, “Compared to the atmosphere, which contains around 850 Gt (gigatons) of carbon (in the form of CO2), the oceans hold 38,000 Gt of carbon. That’s nearly 45 times more. Despite quite frequent discussion and examination in scientific papers and the press of the relationship between ocean chemistry and environmental issues (such as CO2 uptake, ocean acidification and carbonate sediment), the basic underlying chemistry is poorly understood… In particular heterogeneous reactions (like calcite/aragonite formation from dissolved Ca++ and CO3— ions) may require long times, like years or decades, to be completed. On the contrary CO2 dissolution in surface seawater requires shorter time intervals to reach equilibrium with all dissolved species (H2CO, HCO3– , CO3—) deriving from its dissolution… One topic frequently debated today is the potential hazard for coralline reefs of the rising concentrations of CO2, through the reduction of ocean pH and carbonate ion concentration. The effect of this, is however compensated for by an increase in oversaturation in warmer areas of oceans, where calcifying organisms and coral reefs prosper. Global warming, estimated at about 1°C from the beginning of the twentieth century to the present day, also favours oversaturation and thereby counteracts the effects of increasing CO2 content by anthropogenic emissions.” https://danielemazza.academia.edu/ and Mazza, Daniele. 2020, page 42-43.
Figure 7 below is from the previously referenced paper by Cohen and Happer. The Cohen and Happer report and the Mazza report confirm each other, though illustrating the point in a different way.
“Figure 7: The equilibrium rate, dNoc/dNat, of increase of CO2 in the oceans with the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere. The ocean alkalinity is [A] = 2.3 × 10-3 M and the temperature is T = 25 C… The rate of increase, dNoc/dNat, of CO2 in the ocean with CO2 in the atmosphere is shown in Fig. 7. Because of the long time (centuries) needed for additional CO2 molecules dissolved in the ocean surface to reach the deeper ocean, the currently observed rate, dNoc/dNat ≈ 1, is about three times smaller than the predicted equilibrium rate.” (Cohen & Happer, 2015)
Cohen and Happer summarized the point, “This minimalist discussion already shows how hard it is to scare informed people with ocean acidification, but, alas, many people are not informed. For example: The oceans would be highly alkaline with a pH of about 11.4, similar to that of household ammonia, if there were no weak acids to buffer the alkalinity. Almost all of the buffering is provided by dissolved CO2, with very minor additional buffering from boric acid, silicic acid and other even less important species… doubling atmospheric CO2 from the current level of 400 ppm to 800 ppm only decreases the pH of ocean water from about 8.2 to 7.9. This is well within the day-night fluctuations that already occur because of photosynthesis by plankton…So scare stories about dissolving carbonate shells are nonsense.”
As has been shown, CO2 gas is highly soluble in seawater, for example about 30 times more soluble than oxygen. Solubility of CO2 and O2 are inversely proportional with temperature, solubility increases as water surface temperature decreases following Henry’s Law. Bicarbonate and carbonic acid concentration also increases as seawater temperature decreases. On the other hand, when water surface temperature increases above about 25.6 C, then CO2 becomes oversaturated in ocean surface (with respect to the Henry’s partition ratio for that temperature) and thus CO2 gas is then emitted from the warm ocean surface. When sea surface temperature decreases, for example as happened around earth’s equatorial tropical oceans following the volcanic eruption of Mt Pinatubo in June 1991, then the rate of growth of net global average atmospheric CO2 concentration decreases temporarily, then returns to trend, as observed and shown in the following graph.
The following graphic, Figure 3 in Kauppinen and Malmi 2019, clearly shows the cooling that occurred following the Mt Pinatubo eruption.
When we finally correct the misinformation that human use of fossil fuels is increasing atmospheric CO2 concentration and making oceans acidic, then we finally remove the fear and guilt element that human-CO2-caused climate change proponents have been using for 4 decades to misinform and convince children, students, politicians, world bankers, etc. Eventually we can rid the world of this trillion dollar per year waste of money on a non-problem.
Reference: Cohen & Happer, 2015. pdf
Reference: Kauppinen & Malmi (2019) pdf
Be Afraid of Nuclear War, Not Climate Change: Russia’s war in Ukraine shows that global warming has distracted us from more important threats. (Please read the article at the link below)
By Bjorn Lomborg
March 29, 2022 6:18 pm ET
Weeks before thermobaric rockets rained down on Ukraine, the chattering classes at the World Economic Forum declared “climate action failure” the biggest global risk for the coming decade. On the eve of war, U.S. climate envoy John Kerry fretted about the “massive emissions consequences” of Russian invasion and worried that the world might forget about the risks of climate change if fighting broke out. Amid the conflict and the many other challenges facing the globe right now, like inflation and food price hikes, the global elite has an unhealthy obsession with climate change.
This fixation has had three important consequences. First, it has distracted the Western world from real geopolitical threats. Russia’s invasion should be a wake-up call that war is still a serious danger that requires democratic nations’ attention. But a month into the war in Ukraine, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres—whose organization’s main purpose is ensuring world peace—was focused instead on “climate catastrophe,” warning that fossil-fuel addiction will bring “mutually assured destruction.” His comments come at a time when nuclear weapons are posing the biggest risk of literal mutually assured destruction in half a century.
Second, the narrow focus on immediate climate objectives undermines future prosperity. The world currently shells out more than half a trillion dollars annually in private and public funds on climate policies, while spending from the governments of countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development on innovation that underpins growth in areas such as healthcare, space, defense, agriculture and science has been declining as a percentage of gross domestic product over recent decades.
Education performance in developed nations is stagnant or declining, and real income growth among OECD countries has almost stalled this century. By contrast, in China, where innovation-related spending is up 50% from where it was in 2000 and education is rapidly improving, average incomes have increased fivefold since the start of the 21st century.
Third, in the world’s poorest countries, the international community’s focus on putting up solar panels coexists with a woeful underinvestment in solutions to massive existing problems. Infectious diseases like tuberculosis and malaria kill millions; malnutrition afflicts almost a billion people; more than three billion lack access to reliable energy.
These and other issues plaguing the developing world are solvable, but get far less funding from wealthy countries than climate change. Giving the developing world affordable access to consistently available energy—which often requires fossil fuels—is the key to lifting most of the world out of poverty. Yet before the invasion of Ukraine, the developed world was racing to make fossil fuel energy more expensive and less accessible for the world’s poorest.
What underpins this climate fixation? The false and irresponsible idea that global warming poses an immediate existential risk for the world. Climate change is real and man-made; have no doubt about that. But the best economic estimates used by the Obama and Biden administrations, as well as those created by the only climate economist to ever win the Nobel Prize in economics, all show that the total impact of unmitigated climate change—not just on the economy but overall—would be equivalent to less than a 4% hit to global GDP annually by the end of the century.
The U.N. estimates that the average person in 2100 will be 450% as rich as today. If climate change continues unabated, the average person will be “only” 434% as rich—a far from catastrophic outcome.
A world scared witless doesn’t make smart decisions—so it should be no surprise it hasn’t managed to make a dent in climate change. Globally, last year saw the most CO2 emissions ever, despite $5 trillion spent over the past decade on climate policies. The U.N. admitted in 2019 that there has been “no real change in the global emissions pathway in the last decade” despite the global Paris agreement.
The European Union has tried to shift to renewables but still gets more than 70% of its energy from fossil fuels. Much of the rest is generated by burning wood chips from trees chopped down in America and transported on diesel ships. Solar and wind produce only 3% of the European Union’s energy, and the technology is unreliable, often requiring backup from gas when the sun doesn’t shine or the wind doesn’t blow. Europe’s refusal to embrace shale gas—which can be found throughout the Continent but remains untapped—has left it at the mercy of Russian gas. The past two months show how dangerous this is.
Well-meaning politicians across the world have been proposing policies to reach net-zero emissions in coming decades. According to McKinsey, the policies will cost $9.2 trillion every year until net zero is supposed to be achieved in 2050. This is equivalent to half the global tax take. Such extremely costly policies are unlikely to be enacted by emerging economies such as India or Africa, whose emissions will skyrocket as their populations and economies grow. Net zero is also likely to fail in the developed world, where its high costs will erode prosperity and thus political support. Achieving net zero would cost every American family $19,300 a year, according to the McKinsey study.
To respond to climate change effectively, the world needs to spend more on green-energy innovation and develop renewables that are reliable and cost-effective. To address their immediate energy problems, Europe and America need to embrace fracking—despite Russian-funded propaganda discrediting it—and help the rest of the world access the oil and gas it needs. There are many serious threats in the world today, but most won’t get the attention they deserve until the political classes drop their hyperbole about climate change and treat it like what it actually is—only one of the many problems to be solved in the 21st century.
Mr. Lomborg is president of the Copenhagen Consensus and a visiting fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. His latest book is “False Alarm: How Climate Change Panic Costs Us Trillions, Hurts the Poor, and Fails to Fix the Planet.”
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