Federal bureaucrats and their media allies are conducting a targeted public relations campaign promoting reports that atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations are higher than at any point in the past 3.6 million years. This, they say, is more proof of a climate crisis. However, current temperatures are nowhere near the highest they have been in that same time span. That begs the question, is carbon dioxide really the ‘control knob’ for global temperatures, as climate activists assert? The disconnect between ‘highest-ever’ CO2 emissions and real-world temperatures that are not following suit is powerful evidence that the Earth is far less sensitive to fluctuating carbon dioxide concentrations than alarmists assert.
According to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) press release, “The atmospheric burden of CO2 is now comparable to where it was during the Mid-Pliocene Warm Period around 3.6 million years ago, when concentrations of carbon dioxide ranged from about 380 to 450 parts per million. During that time sea level was about 78 feet higher than today, the average temperature was 7 degrees Fahrenheit higher than in pre-industrial times, and studies indicate large forests occupied areas of the Arctic that are now tundra.”
If climate activists’ theory is correct that carbon dioxide is the primary factor influencing global temperature changes, then current temperatures should be just as warm as they were 3.6 million years ago. Yet they are not.
Also, the NOAA press release forgets to mention that while atmospheric carbon dioxide levels throughout the past 10,000 years were significantly lower than today, global temperatures throughout most of that timespan were significantly higher than today (see page 4, here). Once again, if carbon dioxide is the primary factor influencing global temperatures, why have temperatures been warmer than today throughout most of the time period of human civilization?
Going further back in time, there were many other time periods between 10,000 and 3.6 million years ago when temperatures were significantly higher than today, and yet atmospheric carbon dioxide levels were less than today.
In summary, ‘record’ atmospheric carbon dioxide levels failing to result in record global temperatures shows that climate activists are dramatically overstating the impact of atmospheric carbon dioxide levels on global temperatures – regardless of what government bureaucrats and their media allies assert.