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Math on climate change was wrong

Math on climate change was wrong

Let’s reduce, reuse, recycle
Math on climate change was wrong
Photographer: Shutterstock

Regarding R. Anderson’s Feb. 18 letter on climate change: His math says 2017’s undisputed 2ppm CO2 increase converts to 400 gigatons (Gt) of human CO2 emissions. He claims that humans emit closer to 8 gigatons, nowhere near 400, proving his argument against anthropogenic climate change. But as our sixth-grade math teachers told us, show your work.

Mr. Anderson didn’t. University of Washington professor L. Jaegle does the math in his ATM S 211 class, available online. Given a weight of 44 for CO2 and an “80 percent N2-28 / 20 percent O2-32” atmosphere weighing five million gigatons, here we go: (2/1,000,000) x (44/(0.8x28+0.2x32)) x 5,000,000 = 15.3 Gt CO2.

A two ppm CO2 rise is equivalent to 15.3 Gt, not 400 Gt, as claimed by Mr. Anderson.

What of his claim that National Geographic accounts for just eight gigatons per year of CO2 fossil fuel emissions in 2007? He didn’t read the y-axis label on the magazine’s chart, which is for Carbon-12, not CO2-44, as he claimed. Eight Gt/yr of C-12 in the chart converts to 8 x (44/12) = 29.3 Gt/yr of CO2 in 2007.

And sadly, we humans in 2017 emitted 36 gigatons of CO2, an astounding increase of 23 percent since 2007. (Search “global greenhouse gas emissions EPA”).

What does the correct math tell us? Last year, atmospheric CO2 increased by 15.3 gigatons, and humans emitted more than twice that – 36 gigatons. Mr. Anderson’s numbers are wrong, and wrong math/science is a big problem nowadays.

Rather than throwing in the towel and adding stilts to our foundations, as Mr. Anderson suggests, let’s reduce, reuse, recycle — and show our math.

Guy Spiers
Niskayuna

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