The Carbon Ratio
Figure 1: The amount of carbon in the atmosphere in the form of CO2 , versus the amount of carbon in the earth in the form of fossil fuels, is referred to as the Carbon Ratio. Disrupt this ratio sufficiently and agriculture and civilization cannot continue.
The facts supporting the Carbon Ratio and climate change are obvious and easy to understand.
Carbon molecules in the atmosphere are like ping pong balls in a lottery cage. If you increase the number of balls in the cage the probability of winning will decrease. Likewise, if you increase the number of carbon molecules in the atmosphere the quality of life will decrease.
When you take ping pong balls out of the lottery cage they can no longer influence the probability of winning or losing. When you take carbon out of the atmosphere in the form of CO2, and convert it into fossil fuels, it can no longer increase or decrease the Earth’s temperature.
The Science Behind the Carbon Ratio
There Is No Counter Argument To Science
In order to understand climate change it is important to remember that the number of carbon molecules on the planet is exactly the same today as it was when the Earth was first formed. All that has changed is the location of the carbon. It is the location of the carbon that determines the Earth’s temperature. This is referred to as the Carbon Ratio.
The carbon sequestered in the earth as fossil fuels is no longer in the carbon cycle. The Earth has now been permanently cooled. Conversely, carbon taken out of the Earth in the form of fossil fuels, and put back in the atmosphere in the form of carbon dioxide (CO2), has now permanently warmed the Earth. It does not matter how fast we burn the fossil fuels, or how much we reduce our carbon footprint, once the CO2 has been released into the atmosphere it is back in the carbon cycle – forever.
In Figure 1, below, the circle on the left shows the Earth when it was first formed. At that time all the excess carbon was in the atmosphere in the form of carbon dioxide. This caused the earth to be too hot for life – at least on land.
The Carbon Ratio Explained
The circle in the center of Figure 1 shows the Earth 800 million years ago during a period called Snowball Earth. At this there was very little carbon in the atmosphere and the Earth froze over from pole to pole. The only life during this time was the cyanobacteria that survived in the ocean near the equator.
The circle on the right of Figure 1 shows the earth prior to the Industrial Revolution. At this time there was a great deal of carbon in the earth in the form of fossil fuels, coal, oil and natural gas, but there was also enough carbon remaining in the atmosphere to keep the earth at an ambient temperature of 56 F°. This is when agriculture, and then our civilization, evolved.
Carbon in the atmosphere in the form of CO2 is what holds the long wave thermal energy that warms the earth. Thermal energy also causes weather. If there is too much carbon in the atmosphere the weather becomes too extreme and unpredictable, much like what is beginning to happen today. When the amount of carbon in the Earth, and the amount of carbon in the atmosphere, are in the right proportion, or Carbon Ratio, the weather will become less extreme and more predictable.
Figure 2, below, shows the Earth’s temperature during the last ice age. Notice on the far right hand side of the graph that the weather extremes appear to have calmed down. This period started 12,700 years ago. Scientists today say they are not sure why this happened. That may be true from a scientific perspective, but common sense says there can only be one reason the weather became less extreme, and that is because there was just the right amount of carbon in the the atmosphere. The predictable weather that resulted allowed for mankind to stop being hunter-gathers and settle into a communal life supported by agriculture.
Our civilization was able to evolve during this period because the Carbon Ratio was perfect.
This Is When The “Carbon Ratio” Was Perfect
Just Like Ping Pong Balls in a Lottery Cage
When measuring the total amount of fossil fuels, i.e. carbon, in the Earth, coal, oil and natural gas combined, the term used is BOE, or Barrel Of Oil Equivalent. The BOE is used to determine the Carbon Ratio. The Carbon Ratio is the percentage of BOE taken out of the Earth, divided by the total BOE originally in the earth. This ratio can be expressed as a percent.
This percentage can then be multiplied times the temperature differential between 72°F – 56°F in order to determine what temperature the Earth is, or soon will be. These two numbers are important because 72° is as hot as the Earth can get if all the carbon there is available is in the atmosphere, and 56° is the temperature of the Earth when the Carbon Ratio was perfect and agriculture first evolved. Since our civilization is adding carbon to the atmosphere every day, not subtracting it, and carbon is the only thing that warms the atmosphere, the Earth’s temperature can only increase from 56°F. In 2018 the earth’s temperature was already about 58°F.
It is not possible for humans to continue to burn fossil fuels, and thus disrupt the Carbon Ratio, and expect our civilization, and even our species, to continue.
How To Determine the Carbon Ratio and the Earth’s Temperature
When the carbon from fossil fuels is in the atmosphere it warms the planet; when it is stored in the ground it does not. Therefore, the temperature of the Earth today depends on the ratio of carbon buried in the ground as fossil fuels, compared to the amount of carbon in the atmosphere as CO2.
For example, if 1/3 of the total BOE stored in the Earth has been removed and combusted, then the earth’s temperature would be 1/3 times (72°F – 56°F) = 5°F hotter or 61°F. If we have burned 1/2 of the BOE then the earth’s temperature will rise 8° F = 64°F.
So why has the earth’s temperature only increased about 2°F in the past century, not 5°F and certainly not 8°F?
The reason there is a difference between what the Earth’s temperature should be based on the amount of carbon in the atmosphere, and what it actually is according to the thermometer, is because the real impact of climate change has thus far been disguised by various natural factors. Things like melting ice, the enormous thermal capacity of the oceans, and the decade’s long delay between the release of carbon dioxide at ground level and before it percolates into the upper atmosphere where it traps long way thermal radiation. This extensive lag time is the Wild Card when it comes to appreciating climate change.
This long time-lag is allowing our high-growth, energy-dense, civilization to continue marching forward in the same direction, and on the same trajectory, it has for the past 150 years, all the while seemingly oblivious to what is slowly taking place around us. This makes the time-lag all the more frightening.
Our leaders, in both government and industry, cannot, or will not, tell the public the truth about what is happening to the climate. Perhaps our leaders do not understand what is happening, or perhaps it is because no one in government or in industry has any incentive to tell the public bad news. That may be why Gandhi concluded, “If the people will lead, the leaders will follow.”
The sole purpose of the Earth Ship Program is to tell the global community the truth about climate change and the Carbon Ratio.
“If the people will lead, the leaders will follow,” Gandhi.