I’m writing in response to the letter by Ken Lane that appeared in the Feb. 14 online edition of the Sooke News Mirror.
Lane suggests that carbon dioxide generated by human activities is only four per cent of atmospheric carbon dioxide and composes less than one molecule per 1,600 molecules of all atmospheric gases, and as such is “hardly sufficient to be a significant factor in climate change.” Lane makes three errors.
It is an error to say that humans generate less than four per cent of carbon dioxide, and another error to say that this number of molecules is not enough to be a significant factor.
Today’s reading from the Mauna Loa observatory shows that our atmosphere has 417.31 parts per million carbon dioxide. That’s up almost 30% from 1940.
Part of the point of studying the atmosphere, as done by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is to learn about the roles of gases in climate change. Small changes can have profound effects.
Lane’s third error is to say that the change in atmospheric carbon dioxide is hardly significant compared to “forces that are planetary, lunar, solar, and celestial … We can only strive to adapt.” On the contrary, part of our adaptation should be no longer continuing to make carbon dioxide such a significant factor in climate change.
The change in atmospheric carbon dioxide since 1950 is more significant than Lane admits. While it is one of several factors in climate change, it is a significant factor. Because it is due almost entirely to human activities burning fossil fuels, it is a factor humans can influence.