Paris, the Keeling Curve, and El Nino

The nations of the world are currently meeting in Paris and trying to hammer out an agreement to limit human CO2 emissions.  It is a complicated and difficult thing to do because our global human economy is powered by hydrocarbons — from the burning of oil, gas and coal — and it is not possible to reduce carbon emissions quickly without also reducing human economic activity quickly (and thus forcing a global economic depression).  Almost every country in the world believes that CO2 emissions must immediately be sharply curtailed.  But at the  same time, these countries are trying to maximize economic advantages by either limiting their reductions or maximizing the reductions of their economic rivals.

Will the countries come to an agreement?  Probably.  Will it be an effective agreement?  Probably not.  But before we get to that, lets look at why the countries are driving toward an agreement in the first place.  The explanation is simple:  steadily increasing levels of CO2 (and other gases) in the atmosphere is causing more and more heat to be trapped.  The gases let solar heat into out atmosphere, but don’t let it out so easily.  The result of steadily rising levels of gases is steadily rising temperatures in our atmosphere and oceans.  The earth is now 2F above 1880-1910 average levels.  And as our planet gets more and more energy trapped, we see larger and larger storms, greater droughts, significantly rising sea levels, etc.  Essentially, the earth becomes more and more hostile to man and human society is greatly impacted across an array of sectors.

The Scripps Institute has tracked CO2 levels since the 1950’s at its Muana Loa, Hawaii observatory.  The work was originally done under the supervision of Dr. Keeling, and he  first described the steady increase of CO2 in the atmosphere.  Thus, the graph below is called the Keeling Curve.

Keeling Curve

To put it simply, the impacts of this curve are catastrophic for human society, and are especially catastrophic for the poor and exposed of our world.  We are, in fact, already seeing a number of dire impacts that can be linked directly to the effects of this warming.  That is why the Pope is putting on a full-court press to pressure an agreement at Paris.

So, will the nations come to an agreement?  Probably.  Will it work?  Will it solve the growing problems the earth is facing?  No.  This is simply because the root of the problem is not increasing CO2 emissions, it is sin.  The link may not be clear, so let me explain.  Sin — original sin — separated creation from creator.  The consequence of sin is death — to both man and earth.  Christ himself outlined the turmoil and disruption to earth and human society in Matthew 24, and we are seeing his prophecy come true in our time.  So, since CO2 is not the root of the problem, we won’t solve the problem by pursing a CO2 agreement (nor are earth’s mounting problems limited to Co2 issues, by any stretch of the imagination).  If sin is the problem, the only solution is Christ.  This is a solution the world has not and, according to prophecy, will not agree on.  Even the Pope is calling for technical solutions to climate problems, and not for repentance and total dedication to Christ.

Another problem is that it is already too late.  The world is racing to try to avoid a 4F increase in temperatures, but we are already past the point in atmospheric CO2 where we will get that increase and more (touching off massive glacial melting, more storms and droughts, etc.).   The whole CO2 effort is something of a charade, but then it would be against human nature to solve a problem that has its roots in the classic description of the tragedy of the commons.  We, as sinful creatures, as selfish creatures, will pursue individual gain even at the expense of loss to society.  Only when the fullness of the problem is painfully obvious will humans finally unite under a leader who promises solve man’s problems while punishing a small group who will not unite in the effort.  This too is foretold in prophecy.  But I digress.

The Keeling Curve has passed a crucial level of 400 parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere. The Keeling chart is sawtooth in nature, reflecting the cycles of the massive boreal forest in the northern hemisphere.  With that forest entering seasonal dormancy, CO2 levels will spike and will likely never fall below 400 ppm again in the short amount of time the earth has left.  This is particularly true because the earth experiences dramatically more CO2 emissions during an El Nino year.  The forest fires in California, Brazil, Malaysia, Alaska and Siberia all add tremendous amounts of CO2 to the atmosphere.  Take a look at the CAMS graphic below, which color-codes atmospheric CO2 levels and allows us to see global levels plus regional hotspots (all of which are related to current or recent forest fires).

CAMS CO2 hotspots

So, the endgame proceeds, and we continue to watch as prophecy is fulfilled and Christ’s coming grows ever closer and closer.  The response of the world?  To meet and argue over how national economies will be fine-tuned to eliminate small amounts of hydrocarbon consumption.  Truly, the world is distracted.  But just as truly, the servants of Christ are not pressing their message at this critical juncture.

Scott Christiansen