Report: CO2 not responsible for global warming

Michael Bastasch | Energy Editor

Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) — not carbon emissions — are the real culprit behind global warming, claims a  new study out of the University of Waterloo.

“Conventional thinking says that the emission of human-made non-CFC gases such as carbon dioxide has mainly contributed to global warming. But we have observed data going back to the Industrial Revolution that convincingly shows that conventional understanding is wrong,” said Qing-Bin Lu, a science professor at the University of Waterloo and author of the study.

“In fact, the data shows that CFCs conspiring with cosmic rays caused both the polar ozone hole and global warming,” Lu said.

Lu’s findings were published in the International Journal of Modern Physics B and analyzed data from 1850 to the present.

Lu’s study runs counter to the long-standing argument that carbon dioxide emissions were the driving force behind global warming. Recently scientists warned that carbon concentrations were nearing the 400 parts per million level. Scientists say that carbon dioxide levels must be lowered to 350 ppm to avoid the severe impacts of global warming.

“The 400-ppm threshold is a sobering milestone and should serve as a wake-up call for all of us to support clean-energy technology and reduce emissions of greenhouse gases before it’s too late for our children and grandchildren,” said Tim Lueker, an oceanographer and carbon cycle researcher who is a member of the Scripps CO2 Group.

Lu notes that data from 1850 to 1970 show carbon emissions increasing due to the Industrial Revolution. However, global temperatures stayed constant.

“The conventional warming model of CO2, suggests the temperatures should have risen by 0.6°C over the same period, similar to the period of 1970-2002,” reads the study’s press release.

CFCs “are nontoxic, nonflammable chemicals containing atoms of carbon, chlorine, and fluorine” that are used to make “aerosol sprays, blowing agents for foams and packing materials, as solvents, and as refrigerants” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The Montreal Protocol phased out the production of CFCs as they were believed to be linked to ozone depletion. According to the National Institutes of Health, CFCs are considered a greenhouse gas, like carbon dioxide, because they absorb heat in the atmosphere and send some of it back to the earth’s surface, which contributes to global warming.

“From the University of Waterloo, an extraordinary claim,’ writes global warming blogger Anthony Watt. “While plausible, due to the fact that CFC’s have very high [Global Warming Potential] numbers, their atmospheric concentrations compared to CO2 are quite low, and the radiative forcings they add are small by comparison to CO2.”

“This may be nothing more than coincidental correlation,” Watt added. “But, I have to admit, the graph is visually compelling. But to determine if his proposed cosmic-ray-driven electron-reaction mechanism is valid, I’d say it is a case of ‘further study is needed’, and worth funding.”

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