32 Years of Alarmism and Futility – Part I Introduction

In 1990, 32 years ago, on the heels of more than a decade of global warming, CO2 was convicted, on the basis of conjecture and circumstantial evidence, as being “guilty”1 of causing the relatively high rate of global warming being experienced during the last decade.  Worldwide, calls to cut CO2 emissions began. The calls spread and intensified and an obsession with “carbon footprint” and “climate change” ensued. Despite no verification of the claim, no compelling evidence to support a CO2 conviction, and a blind eye turned to the previous 34-year period of global cooling while CO2 emissions quadrupled, billions of dollars were spent, millions of jobs were created, thousands of articles written, legions of activists emerged and 27 international conferences were held, all devoted to cutting CO2 emissions.  Did all of that effort result in reduced CO2 emissions? 

Surprise! The answer is: NO, not at all!   CO2 emissions grew worldwide.     Substantially!

Also surprisingly, despite ever-increasing annual CO2 emissions and much higher atmospheric CO2, the global warming rate moderated after the 1979-1998 period of high global warming. Here are the relevant facts and information.

From 1990 to 2021 annual worldwide energy and industrial CO2 emissions increased by 157% from 21.4 to 36.3 billion tonnes/year2. And 800 billion tonnes of CO2 emissions were added to the atmosphere over the period. The CO2 atmospheric concentration rose from 0.000354 to 0.000416, that is from 354ppm to 416ppm3.  Many countries doubled their CO2 emissions, and China’s CO2 emissions rose by 430%, (1990 to 2018). The United States, however had lower CO2 emissions in 2021 than in 19904. All the exhortations, energy and money put into cutting CO2 emissions was futile.  Should, we be worried?  No! Not about the CO2 anyway.    Here are what the actual data and facts reveal.

FACTS: (1) We are in an interglacial period of global warming that began about 1750, (end: Little Ice Age Period and start: Current Warm Period).  (2) Fossil fuels do pollute the air with particulates, CO, NO2, and SO2 and more. (3) CO2 is not a pollutant, it is what we exhale, it is what plants take in to grow and it is a minor, but critically important greenhouse gas. At its low atmospheric concentrations (<250 ppm) it is essential for plant growth and for warming that makes the planet habitable. However, amazingly, this miracle molecule’s greenhouse effect asymptotically decreases so as to produce little added warming as its atmospheric concentration (ppm) goes higher4.  (4) A review of the readily available empirical evidence, NASA5, post 1850, clearly reveals that CO2 emissions were, “not guilty” of causing the global warming. Thus, CO2 can now justly, and fairly be exonerated to continue its important job of fostering plant life.  OPINION: The prosecutors of CO2, for 32 years mocked dissent, and suppressed the evidence.  The defense was excluded and denied a voice. Two of the key pieces of evidence for acquittal, is as follows:

  • From 1929 to 1944 when CO2 emissions were minor, and the atmospheric concentration of CO2 was low (307-310 ppm), global temperatures rose at a rate of +0.370C/decade3. This 1929-1944 warming rate was greater than the (+0.320C/decade) rate that occurred from 1976-1998, during the next episode of high global warming, 50 years later. Even though CO2 emissions in the 1979-1998 period were 4.5 times greater than in the 1929-1944 period and the atmospheric concentration of CO2 was considerably higher (332-367ppm). The later episode, although with a lesser warming rate than the earlier interval, spawned the 1990 Global Warming “alarm” and its hasty link to CO2 emissions that led to the UN’s call for CO2 emission’s reduction and now for their eradication.  
  • Remarkably, global temperatures were lower for an extended period after 1944 and stayed below the 1944 level until 1979. This cooler period occurred despite CO2 emissions increasing 4-fold, from 5 to 20 billion tonnes / year and the atmospheric concentration of CO2 rising to 337ppm. The max drop in temperature from the 1944 level was -0.40C, in 1964. The lower temperatures lasted for 34 years during the time CO2 emissions were accelerating post WWII.  Clearly, refuting the alleged correlation between CO2 emissions and global warming that was the cornerstone of its prosecution in 1990.

This readily available historical evidence, that was missed or intentionally overlooked in the rush to judgement of CO2 emissions in 1990, clearly illustrates that climate influencing factors, other than CO2 emissions, drove global warming post 1850, as they had since 1750. Indeed, these factors have been affecting global temperatures and climate for millennia. This very relevant global temperature history and its relationship to CO2 emissions was and still is ignored by those pushing CO2 emissions culpability. Global temperature changes during our current + 15,000-year interglacial period shows similar periods of warming (e.g. Roman Warm Period, Medieval Warm Period), followed by periods of cooling (e.g. Little Ice Age) since the last glaciation.  

Post 1998 empirical evidence also exonerates CO2 emissions.  In 1998 CO2 emissions were 23.4 billion tonnes/yr. They reached 33.5 billion tonnes/yr. by 2011, and atmospheric CO2 reached 392ppm. If CO2 were to blame for global warming, then temperatures should have continued to rise and at an increasing rate.  But over that 13-year period (1998-2011) global temperatures were flat. NASA’s 2011 reading5 matched that of 1998 and 5 of the 13 years had temperatures lower than 1998’s. The UAH satellite lower atmosphere data showed lower temperatures for 16 years. These data further demonstrate that CO2 emissions are not driving global warming.

Conclusion –After 32 years the IPCC and CO2 “climate change” promoters have lost their credibility! There has been no actual evidence produced that shows reducing CO2 emissions will have any significant impact on reducing global temperatures, so all the current efforts are a fool’s errand. Mathematical models with subjective inputs do not serve as evidence.

The massive undertaking to reduce CO2 emissions has been a dismal flop, mathematical climate model projections have been routinely overstated, there was no apparent effort to verify, or investigate the original CO2 culpability hypothesis nor to monitor and adjust to observations of the ongoing data (e.g. a trillion tonnes of emissions have been added since 1979 with no increase in the overall global warming rate), and lacking any progress, the latest tactic of the IPCC is to instill fear of planetary demise in the population as a means to maintain status and control.

The fixation on CO2 emissions should be dropped and efforts should be refocused on addressing what actions can be taken to deal with the effects of global warming (e.g., locally rising sea levels) till the end of this interglacial warming period, and on making green energy alternatives environmentally sound safe and economically competitive in order to legitimately reduce fossil fuel consumption.


1 IPCC First Assessment Report, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IPCC_First_Assessment_Report   

2 Global Energy Review: CO2 Emissions in 2021, www.iea.org/reports/global-energy-review-co2-emissions-in-2021-2

3 Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide (CO2) levels, 1800–present, www.sealevel.info/co2.html

4 U.S. Carbon (CO2) Emissions 1990-2023, www.macrotrends.net/countries/USA/united-states/carbon-co2-emissions  

5 CO2 Coalition, Fact #2, The warming effect of each molecule of CO2 declines as its concentration Increases, co2coalition.org/facts,  Facts Archive – CO2 Coalition

6 Global Temperature, NASA, Global Land-Ocean Temperature Index,   climate.nasa.gov/climate_resources/127/global-temperature/      

7 Latest Global Temps,  www.drroyspencer.com/latest-global-temperatures/ , University of Alabama Huntsville

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