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I watched an episode of Chris Hayes where they were talking about another issue, but Chris Hayes made a passing comment about the level of CO2 in the air that I thought was interesting. It occurred to me that it was the sort of thing that really devoted more time.

I'm writing a letter to the show to ask them to cover it in the future. This is the letter I have written so far.

Dear Chris Hayes

I am a fan of your show. I admire the way that you stick to facts. You made a comment on your show that I found interesting, but then the conversation moved elsewhere. I tried to look up what you spoke of, but so far I'm not really able to locate a good reference. If you were ever able to devote more of your time on air to that comment, I think it would be worthwhile.

You said during that conversation that the ground can absorb so much carbon every year, so it isn't actually true that we would need to negate all sources of carbon dioxide pollution, just some of them. I am almost certainly not remembering what you said entirely correctly, but that was the sense I got of it. I wasn't able to replay the comment so I can only go by my own memory.

People talk about going over the 400 ppm mark all the time, and they talk somewhat about how oil contributes. Of course it's true that plants will absorb some of that and eventually it will return to the soil, but how much? Obviously not nearly enough is getting absorbed and we have a massive problem, but I think it's dangerous that we only talk about the specifics in that moment that we are trying to convince someone to burn less oil. By doing this, we are essentially giving Republicans the staging they need.

If people understand some of the counterbalances that can help us to fix things once we have gotten our over-consumption under control, they may feel less helpless. Conservatives frequently try to describe the world environmentalists talk about as being hopeless, and tell their supporters  they must believe climate change is a lie, because the alternative is too horrible to contemplate. They frequently use this strategy.

I would absolutely watch a show that talked about what a minimal level of carbon dioxide production might be. If we don't know have numbers for that yet, we can still invite scientists to talk about where they think it might be, and why that much CO2 could be reabsorbed. Nobody on the networks ever seems to want to have that conversation, and I think it is a problem. It leads to an unhealthy conversation about the climate.

Please do not invite a denialist to that show. On other nights it may be appropriate to give balance, but not on that show. That's the sort of conversation that could never be finished with a denialist present. He would gish gallop his way into the conversation, and the scientists present would be occupied for the rest of the night trying to correct the record.

I haven't sent the letter yet, but I will find an email to send it to. I really think this is the sort of conversation they should be having on network television. If anyone has any ideas to contribute on the best way to
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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (7+ / 0-)

    Ignorance more frequently begets confidence then knowledge. Charles Darwin

    by martianexpatriate on Sat Mar 29, 2014 at 08:38:56 PM PDT

  •  Thanks Martian, great post. Psst. Just on the (3+ / 0-)

    on the low down, there's a lot of push back on "illegal aliens" you might want to keep a low profile on the whole "martian" thing.

    This whole CO2 thing has me seeing "red." Your letter is "out of this world.'

    Keep on trukin.'

    "Seriously, Folks, WTH?" - ("What the Heck? "h/t Joan McCarter, Seriously, Florida. WTF?)

    by HoundDog on Sat Mar 29, 2014 at 08:57:27 PM PDT

  •  We Must Negate All FOSSIL Carbon: Coal, Nat Gas, (5+ / 0-)

    oil, natural leaks of all those. They are putting carbon into the air that has been out of it for eons.

    What we don't need to negate (long term) is carbon we create from eating food, burning wood and grasses, etc., which releases carbon that only very very recently was pulled out of the air as these current plants grew.

    I can tell you what the maximum carbon production allowed is:

    NOT ONE SINGLE NEW MOLECULE OF FOSSIL CARBON, in any place on earth, at any speed, at any time, ever.

    That's what we can safely allow into the atmosphere.

    In fact we need to pull fossil carbon out of the air, millions of tons of it, that we have been releasing since the 1700's.

    Even one molecule released anywhere, of fossil carbon that's been out of the immediate cycle, increases the harm to life and property everywhere in the world.

    No means no.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sat Mar 29, 2014 at 10:19:31 PM PDT

    •  We definitely need to massively reduce our (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ladybug53, pixxer

      consumption, but there is in fact some ability to store carbon dioxide back in the soil. We can't possibly put enough back at this point but understanding how the process works leans to possible mitigation in the future.

      For instance, it isn't oil, coal, and natural gas alone that is the problem. We are also overusing industrial fertilizer and clearing away too much vegetation. This causes soil erosion, which ultimately leads to the soil not retaining all the CO2 it once did. This makes the problem worse, even if we handle the fossil fuels issue.

      I understand the desire to not want to engage in anything that sounds like confusionism, but its important to understand the whole process. When we don't, denialists will take advantage of that.

      Ignorance more frequently begets confidence then knowledge. Charles Darwin

      by martianexpatriate on Sat Mar 29, 2014 at 11:17:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Plants capture CO2 from the atmosphere (0+ / 0-)

        and, if they are buried instead of metabolized by some other being, the gas is not re-released - at least not quickly. Shelly critters use CO2 to make calcium carbonate, which precipitates and ends up buried on the ocean floor. There are non-critter ways that calcium carbonate is precipitated, too, and those remove the CO2 from atmosphere to rock. Those are all natural forms of CO2 deposition, and I'm sure there are many more we could learn about from the show. There are apparently carbon traps that people have figured out, too, which would be interesting to know about. The danger in such a show is that if these are not presented in the "waaaayyy too little" context, people might take away an "oh, so it will be ok" message. Some good graphics on "out/in" quantities for atmospheric carbon could help.

        I think you should change one thing in your letter, and that is somehow equating "denialists" and "balance." You do not need to balance scientific fact with lies and stupidity. There is no journalistic reason to include a denialist unless the story is about the psychopathlogy of denialism or something.

      •  Synthetic fertilizer is made from natural gas (0+ / 0-)

        and pesticides from oil.

        A million Arcosantis.

        by Villabolo on Sun Mar 30, 2014 at 09:40:05 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Your comment disregards the difference between (0+ / 0-)

      different fossil fuel sources as to their greenhouse gas emissions potential per unit of heat input.   Since natural gas combustion is the principle means available to reduce coal-related greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants and combustion units, a policy that says that no fossil fuel is to be combusted means tolerating present high coal-related emissions indefinitely.

      Your comment also disregards the contribution that biomass combustion and agricultural sources make to current ambient concentrations of greenhouse gases.

  •  We have to go strongly carbon-negative (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ladybug53, OHdog

    possibly for a century in order to undo the damage that has already occurred from warmer air, water, and land, melting ice, acidic oceans, and weather disruptions. That means all carbon-neutral renewable energy, including electricity and transportation fuels; vast improvements in conservation and efficiency; and then measures to take carbon out of the air.

    Methods proposed include putting carbon into soils, carbon capture for injection down oil wells, planting crops that absorb more carbon, reforestation, and geoengineering. None is currently viable as a large-scale solution. Carbon capture is a joke. Biological methods cannot scale to match the carbon load in the atmosphere from burning fossil carbon. Geoengineering by seeding the ocean with iron seems to be possible, except that it would have huge environmental effects of its own. Other geoengineering schemes that I have seen proposed, such as a tinfoil sunshade for the Earth, are laughable.

    Back off, man. I'm a logician.—GOPBusters™

    by Mokurai on Sun Mar 30, 2014 at 12:12:04 AM PDT

    •  You said: (0+ / 0-)
      Carbon capture is a joke.
      This is an industry talking point, and your use of it makes President Obama's job and Gina McCarthy's job more difficult as the President and EPA have determined that carbon capture and sequestration are commercially viable for purposes of New Source Performance Standards from Greenhouse Gas Emissions under Section 111 of the Clean Air Act.
      •  Show me a commercial installation (0+ / 0-)

        and I will take it back.

        Back off, man. I'm a logician.—GOPBusters™

        by Mokurai on Mon Mar 31, 2014 at 11:11:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  ^^^^^ This. ^^^^^ Thank you. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JeffW

          Carbon capture and storage might be technically possible, but the process uses some of the power generated in the plant, thereby reducing the amount of power that can actually be sold.  This pushes up the price that the facility must charge to make a profit.  Wind and solar are considerably cheaper than the increased price.  Why not just go straight to wind and solar?  Building a carbon capture and storage power plant is a waste of money.  

          "My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right." -- Sen Carl Schurz 1872

          by Calamity Jean on Sun Apr 06, 2014 at 03:07:12 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Here is a list of basic Global Warming arguments: (0+ / 0-)

    A million Arcosantis.

    by Villabolo on Sun Mar 30, 2014 at 09:16:58 AM PDT

  •  Start from scratch. (0+ / 0-)

    What we will need to do is to rebuild civilization itself, not reform this one.

    No cities, no suburbs - they're not sustainable. I envision a million villages spread out throughout the earth each one self sustaining with permaculture crops. Transportation will be provided by electric mini cars and vans serving as buses.

    Go ahead, laugh. :-)

    A million Arcosantis.

    by Villabolo on Sun Mar 30, 2014 at 09:45:07 AM PDT

    •  I think your right, mostly. (0+ / 0-)

      Unfortunately, I'm not certain we are able to willingly go that far. It may only happen after a massive depopulation of the planet.

      There is a lot of indication by some scientists that we need to rebalance the Earth, and bring back the Alpha Predators. Basically, we need to establish larges zones of the Earth where we do not hunt things like Wolves, or Tigers, but allow them to exist.

      The reason for this is that Alpha predators are actually the most imporant parts of the food chain, and humans normally completely remove Alpha predators because they are a threat to us. By doing this, we completely change the ecological balance. Where alpha predators are reintroduced, they cause a 'trophic cascade' where the entire system rebalances and becomes more healthy.

      So we must establish villages where we can live, and then leave sections of the planet where all the animals are allowed to thrive, large nature preserves.

      It may be true that we are simply too densely populated now, and we are placing a massive unsustainable weight on the planet's biosphere that needs to be corrected.

      Ignorance more frequently begets confidence then knowledge. Charles Darwin

      by martianexpatriate on Sun Mar 30, 2014 at 10:55:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Your draft letter said: (0+ / 0-)
    You said during that conversation that the ground can absorb so much carbon every year, so it isn't actually true that we would need to negate all sources of carbon dioxide pollution, just some of them.
    All carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions from all sources contribute the ambient concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions detected.   This means that carbon dioxide emissions from natural combustion and other sources that release greenhouse gas emissions is part of the emission phenomena that cause or contribute to present atmospheric greenhouse gas ambient concentrations.

    It is NOT true that greenhouse gas emissions from natural sources, like burning tropical rain forests, can be disregarded from global greenhouse gas emissions and emission control planning.   Moreover, EPA clearly regulates greenhouse gas emissions from combustion of biomass, so don't take a position that undermines the U.S. EPA.

    •  Wow, you certainly have thatt down pat. (0+ / 0-)

      I am pretty willing to question the EPA. There is something rather dogmatic in your replies. One might almost think you work in public relations.

      We need to understand how the world regulates carbon dioxide, from the soil to the air. The EPA, like most government agencies, has a tendency to ignore problems that tread to close to someones profit/loss statement. I think that talking about these things is a good idea.

      Ignorance more frequently begets confidence then knowledge. Charles Darwin

      by martianexpatriate on Sun Mar 30, 2014 at 06:07:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You said: (0+ / 0-)
        One might almost think you work in public relations.
        I do expert witness work and technical consulting as an environmental consultant with a specialty in air pollution control.   I don't do public relations.   I'm also an emeritus member of the Air and Waste Management Association, and I spent 15 years at the American Lung Association on environmental and occupational health.

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