The Contribution of Carbon Dioxide to Global Warming

This post provides a link to download as a PDF, Chapter 19 of Climate Change The Facts 2017, “The Contribution of Carbon Dioxide to Global Warming”, by Dr John Abbot & Dr John Nicol.

The appointment of Scott Pruitt by United States President, Donald Trump, as the Administrator of the United States Environmental Protec-tion Agency (EPA) has been controversial. Mr Pruitt has been quoted as stating he does not believe that carbon dioxide (CO2) is a primary contributor to global warming, and was reported by CNBC (DiChristo-pher 2017) as saying:

I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is some-thing very challenging to do and there’s tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact, so no, I would not agree that it’s a primary contributor to the global warming … We need to continue the debate and continue the review and the analysis.

This statement contradicts the public position of the agency Mr Pruitt now leads. The EPA’s webpage on the causes of climate change states, ‘Carbon dioxide is the primary greenhouse gas that is contributing to recent climate change’ (EPA n.d.). A view in accordance with the position of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). 

This chapter briefly details some of the evidence suggesting that there is considerable uncertainty in the magnitude of the contribution of CO2 to global warming. Given the economic importance of this relation-ship in policy determinations, it is imperative that further analysis and investigations be undertaken. In particular, there is a need to resolve the discrepancy between measurements from modern spectroscopy (Barrett 2005; Lightfoot & Mamer 2014; Laubereau & Iglev 2013), and the approximations used in the IPCC General Circulation Models, which are based on a speculative 1896 paper by Svante Arrhenius (Arrhenius 1896).