Those who watched Fox News over the weekend were treated to a brief but ambitious science lesson on "Why CO2 Can't Cause Warming":
Oh boy. Let's take these one at a time.
From the July 21 edition of Fox Business programming:
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To celebrate the Fourth of July, Fox & Friends fired up a grill and hosted climate change contrarian Joe Bastardi to mock concerns about global warming. Responding to a New York Times op-ed on ways to lower the carbon footprint of holiday cooking, Bastardi, who is not a scientist, rambled off a familiar list of climate fallacies:
BASTARDI: It sounds to me like it's the last gasp of a desperate movement because I think they know things are turning around, the overall global temperature and they're trying to grasp at any straw they can get their hands on. The human contribution every year to global - to CO2 - is .09 parts per million. That means if you made a million dollars, which I know you do, you'd be taxed 9 cents on it. Now, if you take the ocean and the atmosphere together, the human contribution is so tiny you can't even measure it.
Contrary to Bastardi's claim, the "tiny" size of the human CO2 contribution tells us nothing about whether those emissions are changing the climate. What matters is how much CO2 concentrations have changed and how that affects the Earth's carbon cycle.
As the Congressional Research Service explains, the release of CO2 from fossil fuel use causes the otherwise balanced carbon cycle to overflow into the atmosphere:
If humans add only a small amount of CO2 to the atmosphere each year, why is that contribution important to global climate change? The answer is that the oceans, vegetation, and soils do not take up carbon released from human activities quickly enough to prevent CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere from increasing. Humans tap the huge pool of fossil carbon for energy, and affect the global carbon cycle by transferring fossil carbon--which took millions of years to accumulate underground--into the atmosphere over a relatively short time span. As a result, the atmosphere contains approximately 35% more CO2 today than prior to the beginning of the industrial revolution. As the CO2 concentration grows it increases the degree to which the atmosphere traps incoming radiation from the sun, which further warms the planet.
Fox & Friends hosted meteorologist and climate skeptic Joe Bastardi to cast doubt on global warming by making several dubious claims, including that El Niño is responsible for warming during the past 30 years. Moreover, Bastardi is not a climate scientist, and previous claims by Bastardi have been criticized by climate experts.