What Common Sense Tells Us About Climate Change

After babbling on with a number of factoids about global population, the land surface area of Texas and so on, the ‘Tennessee Conservative Watch (TCW)” asks “Considering that the earth’s atmosphere extends 50 miles up from the surface, how can anyone with half a brain think that humans can do anything to change the atmosphere much less the earth’s climate?”

What the TCW has done is parrot one variation of the popular “common sense” arguments that climate change Deniers like to use. They all include some form of “common sense tells you” coupled with some completely irrelevant, misleading factoids. They are based on an appeal to ‘use your brain’, so let’s try that and see what happens.

Mankind occupies less than 4 tenths of 1 percent of the surface of the earth.TCW

Here, try this logic with any housemates you may have: ‘I occupy less than 4 tenths of 1 percent of the surface of this house/apartment, how can anyone with half a brain think that I can do anything to change the amount of dirt and mess?’ Think that might work? I doubt it, even if your housemates have only half a brain.

Common sense tells you that:

It isn’t just the physical space you physically occupy that matters, it’s how much of the space that you use.  Our actual use of the land surface is 83%, and we have brought the oceans to the point of collapse even without climate change.

Common sense tells you that:

There are many examples that we all know of where very small amounts of something can have a huge effect. A typical bullet weighs about 250 gms, less than 2 tenths of 1 percent of your body weight, but it can still kill you.

That is because of the kinetic energy the bullet picks up when fired and then transfers to your body in the form of damage. Sort of like the way CO2 picks up thermal (heat) energy and then re-radiates (transfers) it, some back to the Earth.

Of course if you were to eat the lead bullet in powder form it would take 30 times less to kill you. Let’s not even start to talk about radioactive substances where amounts so tiny they can hardly be seen with the naked eye are deadly.

A non-lethal experiment would be to powder just 1 gm of a magnet and blow it into your computer (something no one with any common sense would ever actually do) and see if that makes any difference .

Or take 250 gms of water (about 1/4 qt),  a perfectly natural substance that makes up 60% of your healthy body, and that is essential to life; just like CO2. If you poured the water into your lungs and kept it down you would choke to death; a good example of how an abundant, natural, necessary substance can be lethal when there is a little too much in the wrong place.

Common sense tells you that:

50 miles isn’t very much really. A healthy adult can walk that in a day if necessary, and a lot of people regularly run half that distance for exercise and fun. So just how much is 50 miles of atmosphere relative to the size of the Earth?

Looking back to the image of the Earth at top, gazing at the edge of the Earth you can clearly see that the atmosphere is … well actually, at that distance you can’t see the atmosphere at all.

Try the image below, where less distance  and back lighting by the Sun means you can actually can detect the thin film that is our atmosphere. In reality it is more like the skin on an apple or an onion.

Common sense tells you that:

Even if the atmosphere is actually pretty thin, how does that compare to the human impact on it? Absolute size doesn’t matter, it’s the scale of the one to the other that is important. We can barely see the atmosphere from space, how about human energy use?

Common sense tells you that:

If your interest is in finding out whether the Earths’ temperature is rising and if that is related to CO2, you should look at information about the Earths’ temperature and CO2, not factoids about airport surface areas and the size of Texas. That’s as relevant as 1930s baseball statistics or fashion trends in Kualalumpur. Do these people take their cat to the Vet when they want to know if their roof needs reshingling?

So what is the temperature doing? and how well does it relate to CO2 concentrations?

Common sense tells you that:

The critical noun is “sense”, that it has to make sense. These phony to “common sense” arguments are usually an appeal to common ignorance or credulity.

They work because they are worded as a rhetorical question with the answer built in, and framed so that if you disagree or question it you supposedly identify yourself as having ‘no sense’.

Well, if people stopped and thought about it for a bit, common sense would tell them that anyone who has to do that to make their case is definitely clueless, and almost certainly lying.

Can anyone with half a brain think that humans can do anything to change the atmosphere much less the earth’s climate?.

The correlation between CO2 and temperature

Are Humans too insignificant to affect global climate?

Maybe not with only half a brain, but for those who have 51% or more, absolutely!

We give our consent every moment that we do not resist.


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