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Friday, January 04, 2008

Media Trickery: Part 5

Omission of Truth
From the news articles about the tons and tons of CO2 being spewed into the air, readers can conclude the air must be overwhelmed with carbon dioxide. The news media is not interested in telling their readers the amount of carbon dioxide in the air because that does not serve their purpose.

How much CO2 is in the atmosphere? The figures below give the percentage of each gas that is found in the earth’s atmosphere. These are United States standards for 1976.

Gas - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Volume by percentage
Nitrogen------------------ 78.084%
Oxygen------------------- 20.9476%

Argon---------------------- 0.934%

Carbon dioxide----------- 0.0314%

Neon----------------------- 0.001818%
Helium--------------------- 0.000524%
Methane------------------- 0.0002%
Krypton-------------------- 0.000114%
Hydrogen------------------ 0.00005%
Xenon---------------------- 0.0000087%

A quick glance at these numbers reveals the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is extremely small. But let’s consider an illustration to understand how small the amount of carbon dioxide in the air actually is. Consider a 100 yard long football field. The game starts with a kick off which is returned 78 yards to the 22 yard line. Those 78 yards represent how much nitrogen is in the atmosphere.

On the next play, the wide receiver catches a 21 yard pass and takes the ball to the 1 yard line. That 21 yard pass represents how much oxygen is in the air. These two gases comprise 99.03% of all the air we breathe.

The next play is a run over right tackle just short of a yard. That 0.9 yard run represents all the argon in the air. The team is now on the 99.9656 yard line, an inch and a quarter away from scoring a touchdown.

Let’s go for it on fourth down ’cuz we’re so close. Another run gets us 1.13 inches, but short of the goal. 1.13 inches of that 1.25 inches we needed represents carbon dioxide.

We didn’t make it into the end zone. We’re 0.1 inch away, a measly tenth of an inch. In that 0.1 inch there are 6 gases left to fit in before we make it into the end zone.

But let’s focus on CO2. The amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is represented by 1 1/8 inch on the football field. Oxygen covers 20.9 yards of the field and nitrogen a huge 78 yards. Out of the 3,600 inch long football field, carbon dioxide covers 1 1/8 inch of the stretch. It’s 0.0314% of the total length of the football field. That’s not much you say. Yup, it’s not much, but the media doesn’t want you to know how little CO2 is in the atmosphere. It just might throw a wet blanket over their religious campaign to require a carbon tax on us.

When articles after articles tell us of all the tons and tons of CO2 being dumped into the atmosphere, one would think the atmosphere is full of it. It’s not. The amount is just a very small fraction of the total air.

By withholding this information, the media tricks its readers into thinking of the enormous amount of carbon dioxide. It is much easier to write and speak of tons and tons or billions of pounds of CO2 to make you think big than to take the time to explain how such a small amount of CO2 can cause global warming. That is much harder to do to convince readers.


Dan said...

Your percentages are irrelevant. Nobody claims the air is overwhelmed by CO2. The important point is how much CO2 in the atmosphere does it take to cause serious harm to the climate and earth. There is no longer any serious dispute that we are well past the point at which CO2 causes damage and we're dumping more and more CO2 into the atmosphere every day.

To help you understand that a relatively small percentage of a substance can be extremely harmful, think about ricen. According to the Center for Disease Control,

"Depending on the route of exposure (such as injection or inhalation), as little as 500 micrograms of ricin could be enough to kill an adult. A 500-microgram dose of ricin would be about the size of the head of a pin. A greater amount would likely be needed to kill people if the ricin were swallowed."

So what percentage is 500-micrograms of an average person's body weight? I'll let you do the calculation.

Anonymous said...

Interesting. Now we're comparing CO2 to ricin. Why, the mere act of exhaling could be construed as a criminal act, spewing poison into the otherwise unspoiled atmosphere.

What a ridiculous comparison. CO2 isn't even a pollutant much less a poison. It is a necessary component that sustains life at all levels on earth.

What E-herd could have added to the picture to further illustrate how silly the media trickery is with numbers, is how little of the total (.0314%) CO2 is human caused.

Of that underwhelming figure, only four percent is human generated (25% of that in the U.S.). The other 96 percent of the "poisonous" gas is generated naturally, primarily from the world's oceans.

Somehow, following Dan's logic, the natural 96 percent is harmless, while the human four percent is "extremely harmful." He says we are "well past the point" where CO2 is damaging and "dumping more" every day.

I blame the oceans. They should be banned.