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Author Topic: Seriously, though, how would a libertarian society address global warming?  (Read 27371 times)
MoonShadow
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December 03, 2011, 04:28:50 AM
 #401


Where did the carbon encased into fossil fuels come from?  My understanding is that they originally came from dead plant material, but if so, where did the plants get it?  The obvious answer is the air, but I'm open to speculation about alternatives.  If the carbon came from the air, and we presently live on this planet, how could a closed carbon cycle with a finite amount of carbon in it possibly cause a catastrophic warming trend when it didn't do that when the plants were alive?


I haven't scientifically analyzed this thought all the way through, but hundreds of millions of years ago during the time dinosaurs were living, the world was a lot hotter than it is now. As living matter pulled carbon out of the air, died, and turned into oil, the earth cooled.


Okay, so what is to prevent the current presence of plants from doing the same in the future?  What I'm asking is, under what basis is the assumption that carbon dioxide, even though it's a greenhouse gas, that CO2 doubling in the atmosphere is catastrophic for life?  After all, as you have pointed out, before life evolved the Earth was far hotter until the magma on the surface cooled.  Since the Earth is a closed system, the amount of oxygen present then is roughly the same as it is now, just like the amount of carbon dioxide.  Under such conditions, it's practially impossible for any significant amount of the carbon to have been sequestered in any other form than CO2.  So practically speaking, all of the carbon was part of the atmosphere in Earth's own history, and yet the Earth still cooled and life still came to dominate the surface of the Earth.  If it's all a matter of speculation, then it's just as likely, if not moreso, that consuming all of the fossil fuels available to us (which wouldn't come close to putting all of the carbon back into the atmosphere) would result in a warmed climate only comparable to the Medivel Warm Period, which was far from catastrophic for humankind.

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"how could a closed carbon cycle with a finite amount of carbon in it possibly cause a catastrophic warming trend when it didn't do that when the plants were alive?" - It was hot in the past and it wasn't catastrophic then, but there was a very different profile of life on Earth than there is now. A heat level that was not catastrophic to dinosaurs could very well be catastrophic to humans.

Could be, but based upon what?  After all, by many respects humanity is far more resilient a species than any of the dinosaurs were; because our human intelligence permits us to develop clothing and housing that permits us to live in the harshest of conditions found on Earth if we desire to.  There is an entire town in Australia that is underground in the outback to escape the heat, while there are semi-permanent encampments in Antartica for scientific research teams.  The Vikings lived in areas of the world that didn't see a sunrise for 5 months at at time, much less a spring thaw.  I contend that even a truly catastrophic degree of global warming, to the worst case scenario, isn't a threat to the majority of human life of this planet; althought it could be to a great many.  I also contend that a much more mild degree of warming is more likely, on the order of 1 to 1.5 degree C, and would be a net improvement for human life on this planet.  After all, such a more moderate form of climate warming would result in the warming of the majority of the land mass that remains uninhabitable on Earth; most of which is the Canadian Northern Territories, Siberia in Russia and Greenland.  Greenland could literally be green, and the loss of coastal landmass would be neglible compared to that expansion of habitable space and agricultural landmass.  And at less than +2 degrees C, even the worst case climate models don't result in a statisticly significant increase in major weather patterns.  Nor would the change in climate become too hot near the equator, since the majority of the warming occurs in the higher latitudes.  (This is largely because the greenhouse effect occurs from long wave infrared bouncing off of CO2 in the upper atmosphere, and the general scatter of reflected light spreads in all directs evenly; if the heat then returns to Earth at the equator, it's a net zero change in heat at the equator, but if it returns at the northern latitudes, it's a net gain for the northern latitudes while a net loss for the equator)

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December 03, 2011, 04:54:12 AM
 #402

I find this kind of debate amusing.  The question about whether or not global warming is caused by human industrial activities or not is an irrelevent one with regards to the outcomes.  Either an increase in the CO2 in the atmosphere will cause catastrophic warming or it will not, that is the only detail that matters.  So I ask the partisans on this thread the following questions...

Where did the carbon encased into fossil fuels come from?  My understanding is that they originally came from dead plant material, but if so, where did the plants get it?  The obvious answer is the air, but I'm open to speculation about alternatives.  If the carbon came from the air, and we presently live on this planet, how could a closed carbon cycle with a finite amount of carbon in it possibly cause a catastrophic warming trend when it didn't do that when the plants were alive?

So far, I've posed this same quandry to a great many people that I have met, and the most credible alternative that I've yet been presented with came from a fundamentalist Christian conservative, who responded that the carbon wasn't in the air before because God created the Earth with the oil in the ground.  I've literally seen dyed-in-the-wool tree huggers distort their own faces with the cognative dissonance.

Are we assuming that at some point most of this carbon was in the atmosphere as CO2 at once?


Generally, yes.
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When was the last time this was the case?

I don't know, but it's irrelevent to the point.  It was all there before life came to exist, (excluding that which was in the mantle, core and crust; but that's still there and will continue to be even if we burn every scrap of fossil fuels in the world, which is also not practially possible) so the concept that putting a portion of it back wince it came would result in a ELE is rediculous on it's face.
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I had always thought most of it was contained within life, rocks, or oil since Earth was very young and didn't support multicellular life.


Yes, to a degree.  But that's the point I'm trying to make.  It was multicellular life that became oil, natural gas and coal.  It is probable that a single celled form of life was important in the chemical changes that resulted in their present forms, but the vast majority of the carbon sequestration occured by multicellular plant life.

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Also, it's a closed carbon cycle, but not a closed CO2 cycle.

That is, in fact, exactly what I wrote.

"The powers of financial capitalism had another far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent meetings and conferences. The apex of the systems was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, a private bank owned and controlled by the world's central banks which were themselves private corporations. Each central bank...sought to dominate its government by its ability to control Treasury loans, to manipulate foreign exchanges, to influence the level of economic activity in the country, and to influence cooperative politicians by subsequent economic rewards in the business world."

- Carroll Quigley, CFR member, mentor to Bill Clinton, from 'Tragedy And Hope'
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December 03, 2011, 04:54:30 PM
 #403

Are we assuming that at some point most of this carbon was in the atmosphere as CO2 at once?
Generally, yes.
That's a major flaw in your argument. The oil built up over millions of years. It's possible that oil deposits come and go, and if left untouched would vary within a stable range over time.

Also, it's a closed carbon cycle, but not a closed CO2 cycle.
That is, in fact, exactly what I wrote.
Carbon is not normally a gas. It only causes global warming in CO2 form, which requires a chemical change, no violation of conservation of elements.

Another species has actually done something just like this before.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxygen_catastrophe
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December 04, 2011, 03:13:54 AM
 #404

Are we assuming that at some point most of this carbon was in the atmosphere as CO2 at once?
Generally, yes.
That's a major flaw in your argument. The oil built up over millions of years. It's possible that oil deposits come and go, and if left untouched would vary within a stable range over time.

Ah, no.  Then you don't understand the argument.  At some point in the history of the  planet, life did not exist and effectively all of the carbon locked up into fossil fuels was in the atmosphere; because elemental carbon is unstable and the presence of significantly more oxygen and a molten hot planet means that any hydrocarbons would have been burned up anyway.  Logicly, plant life had to form in this environment in order for the carbon to be sequestered in the first place, so at one point all of the carbon present in fossil fuels was in the atmosphere first.  That's the worst case scenario and yet we exist.

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Also, it's a closed carbon cycle, but not a closed CO2 cycle.
That is, in fact, exactly what I wrote.
Carbon is not normally a gas. It only causes global warming in CO2 form, which requires a chemical change, no violation of conservation of elements.
Carbon is not normally elemental.  It's either found in hydrocarbons or afixed to oxygen in some fashion.  CO2 is carbon's most stable form, and since oxygen is significantly more likely to occur in nature than carbon, finding carbon in a natural state of CO2 is, in fact, quite normal.

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Another species has actually done something just like this before.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxygen_catastrophe

Not relevant.  There has always been orders of magnitude more free oxygen available in the atmosphere, both before and after the rise of plantlife.

"The powers of financial capitalism had another far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent meetings and conferences. The apex of the systems was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, a private bank owned and controlled by the world's central banks which were themselves private corporations. Each central bank...sought to dominate its government by its ability to control Treasury loans, to manipulate foreign exchanges, to influence the level of economic activity in the country, and to influence cooperative politicians by subsequent economic rewards in the business world."

- Carroll Quigley, CFR member, mentor to Bill Clinton, from 'Tragedy And Hope'
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December 04, 2011, 05:16:42 AM
 #405

Let's assume for a moment that all this carbon was in the atmosphere. Not in any of these other places, like in water.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon#Occurrence

Right now there is about 44 times as much carbon in water than in the air. The organism which first sequestered carbon, and still does most of it to this day, is microscopic. Not plants. This hypothetical high atmospheric carbon period would predate multicellular life by a billion years.

The period you describe is an alien world. Life as we know it simply did not exist. No plants, no animals, no fungi. You're making too many wild assumptions for me to even get into all of them.

Who exactly DID you ask about this?
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December 04, 2011, 11:22:33 PM
 #406

Let's assume for a moment that all this carbon was in the atmosphere. Not in any of these other places, like in water.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon#Occurrence
Right off the bat you undermine yourself.  The carbon found in the ocean is dissolved CO2.  It doesn't change a thing, for if enough of it were dissolved in to the oceans in order to permit plantlife to evolve, there is no reason that the same wouldn't occur now.  Actually, it's more likely that the ocean can hold more CO2 today, because the ability of water to hold CO2 in a stable state goes down as the temp rises.  This is one of the negative feedback cycles that the worst of the climate models depend upon.

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Right now there is about 44 times as much carbon in water than in the air. The organism which first sequestered carbon, and still does most of it to this day, is microscopic. Not plants. This hypothetical high atmospheric carbon period would predate multicellular life by a billion years.


Now this is a good point.  The first form of life to use photosysthisis, whatever you want to call them, were single celled and lived in water.  I can't see how that alters the point, but feel free to expound on that.
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The period you describe is an alien world. Life as we know it simply did not exist. No plants, no animals, no fungi. You're making too many wild assumptions for me to even get into all of them.


Yes, it would have been an alien world, but I'm not making assumptions.  The premises that I base this thought experiment upon are accepted facts among just about anyone concerned about climate change.  (Since most creationists are not concerned about climate change, I'm leaving them out of the conversation for simplicity). 

The givens are...

The Earth is a closed system, thus there cannot be any more or less carbon or oxygen (nominally) than there was when life arose on this planet.

The Earth is assumed to have been molten hot, and cooled down over a very long period of time, primarily via net infrared radiation.  (more heat was lost to the dark side of the planet than was gained on the Sun side)

There is, and therefore was, much more oxygen available in this hot environment than carbon; thus most of the carbon that was not already in a very stable molecule (such as minerals) would have been consumed by the oxygen.  Therefore, any hydrocarbons (not stable in a hot environment in the presence of oxygen) that arose in any non-organic fashion would have been burned.

So I'm excluding the carbon sequestered before the dawn of life in, say, diamonds.  If you can show that diamonds and the like can be burned, then this argument might not hold up.

So, generally speaking, all of the hydrocarbons that were sequestered in the Earth's crust before the Industrial Age led to humanity drawing them out to burn them and let them enter the atmosphere was already there at the dawn of life on this planet.  Yet the Earth not only cooled to it's current state, it's been much colder.  And it's been much warmer, also.  Neither condition implies that a catastrophic level of climate change is possible, at least not catastrophic to humanity on the Earth as a whole.  It does imply that there is a balancing mechanism at play that we don't fully understand, that permits these long cycles between a warm planet overall and an Ice Age.  It does not imply that CO2 is the primary driver for these cycles, although it's almost certainly contributing.  Keep in mind that any increase in the ambient CO2 in the air has been proven to promote plant growth, all other factors kept the same.  So increases in the level of CO2 in the atmosphere is almost certainly beneficial for plantlife.  For that matter, so would a general increase in the climate temps along the higher latitudes.

"The powers of financial capitalism had another far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent meetings and conferences. The apex of the systems was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, a private bank owned and controlled by the world's central banks which were themselves private corporations. Each central bank...sought to dominate its government by its ability to control Treasury loans, to manipulate foreign exchanges, to influence the level of economic activity in the country, and to influence cooperative politicians by subsequent economic rewards in the business world."

- Carroll Quigley, CFR member, mentor to Bill Clinton, from 'Tragedy And Hope'
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December 05, 2011, 12:58:13 PM
 #407

So not only are you saying that all carbon was once in the air. You're also saying that returning our atmosphere to how it was a billion years before multicellular life WOULDN'T be a catastrophe, because at least microorganisms would probably survive.
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December 05, 2011, 02:13:21 PM
 #408

So not only are you saying that all carbon was once in the air. You're also saying that returning our atmosphere to how it was a billion years before multicellular life WOULDN'T be a catastrophe, because at least microorganisms would probably survive.

He is saying that the link between carbon in the atmosphere and global temperatures is tenuous at best.  We are in an interglacial - a short break in a massive ice age.  The ice age will resume no matter what we do.  

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interglacial

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December 05, 2011, 07:09:34 PM
 #409

"how could a closed carbon cycle with a finite amount of carbon in it possibly cause a catastrophic warming trend when it didn't do that when the plants were alive?" - It was hot in the past and it wasn't catastrophic then, but there was a very different profile of life on Earth than there is now. A heat level that was not catastrophic to dinosaurs could very well be catastrophic to humans.
Exactly. Humans live where food grows. Human build ski resorts where it snows, dams where it floods, cities where it doesn't, and so on. It wouldn't take much climate change to impose a heavy, heavy cost on human life. If the arable land or drinkable water moves, wars will result. Of course, the one constant in global climate is change, so it's not so much a matter of if but of when.

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December 05, 2011, 07:55:51 PM
 #410

So not only are you saying that all carbon was once in the air. You're also saying that returning our atmosphere to how it was a billion years before multicellular life WOULDN'T be a catastrophe, because at least microorganisms would probably survive.

He is saying that the link between carbon in the atmosphere and global temperatures is tenuous at best.  We are in an interglacial - a short break in a massive ice age.  The ice age will resume no matter what we do.  

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interglacial

That's a completely separate thing. It's actually a much more common idea, so I'm not disputing that here, people with some grasp of science still disagree on that one.

MoonShadow is saying that the worst-case scenario from global warming is a return to a pre CO2 sequestering atmosphere. That's a hell of a lot older - way way way older, than plants. Even if all CO2 was in the atmosphere then, it is not an example of an environment we can survive.
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December 05, 2011, 08:06:18 PM
 #411

So not only are you saying that all carbon was once in the air. You're also saying that returning our atmosphere to how it was a billion years before multicellular life WOULDN'T be a catastrophe, because at least microorganisms would probably survive.

No, not quite.  I'm saying that all of the carbon locked up into fossil fuels, and thus available to humanity to put into the atmosphere, was already there at one point before the plantlife that sequestered it put it into the ground.  Therefore the burning of fossil fuels alone, even if it were possible for us to get all of it, could not logicly lead to a catastrophic 'negative feedback' of climate events, as is imagined by a great many of the models used by those who argue for dramatic geo-political changes to prevent such disasters.  An Inconvient Truth is an example of taking such a dramtic view of the possible outcomes, without considering the fact that I present above.  I can find no evidence that geologists disagree with the above statement, that the carbon sequestered into the Earth was put there by plantlife and thus was present in the atmosphere at the time.  Feel free to prove me wrong on that point, or any other.  But my point was, plantlife evolved in this environment, so it's logically inconsistant to present AGW worst case as being able to destroy life of this planet.  I don't even think that it could destroy human life, although it could become difficult for the present number of human beings to live here.  If AGW is correct (or maybe if it isn't, and we still overheat) the greater part of humanity is either going to have to leave or perish, but if the worst case is unlikely (which it is fairly unlikely in any case, by definition) and we get 2 degrees C or less of worldwide warming, that would actually be a net gain for humanity at large, due to the large expanses of agricultural land opened up in the Northern latitudes.  People who live on Islands or right on the coast might be screwed, however.

"The powers of financial capitalism had another far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent meetings and conferences. The apex of the systems was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, a private bank owned and controlled by the world's central banks which were themselves private corporations. Each central bank...sought to dominate its government by its ability to control Treasury loans, to manipulate foreign exchanges, to influence the level of economic activity in the country, and to influence cooperative politicians by subsequent economic rewards in the business world."

- Carroll Quigley, CFR member, mentor to Bill Clinton, from 'Tragedy And Hope'
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December 05, 2011, 08:15:15 PM
 #412

MoonShadow is saying that the worst-case scenario from global warming is a return to a pre CO2 sequestering atmosphere. That's a hell of a lot older - way way way older, than plants. Even if all CO2 was in the atmosphere then, it is not an example of an environment we can survive.

Why not?  The concentration of CO2 in the air would still be less than 700 parts per million in the atmosphere if we could consume it all, which we can't.  Most of the climate models for the worst case are based on us being able to hit less than 500 parts per million.  We wouldn't even notice that directly, although even trees would grow like weeds.  The only way we notice is if the heat feedback cycles are true, but as I have pointed out, that carbon was in the air before and there is no evidence that the Earth was ever so hot in the past as to threaten life or suggest that a negative feedback exists.  There have been trees growing on islands North of the North-West Passageway, which is north of Canada's Northern Territories and is presently permafrost.  That alone implies that the Earth can be much warmer than it is presently and not be catastrophic.

EDIT:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ellesmere_Island#Paleontology

"The powers of financial capitalism had another far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent meetings and conferences. The apex of the systems was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, a private bank owned and controlled by the world's central banks which were themselves private corporations. Each central bank...sought to dominate its government by its ability to control Treasury loans, to manipulate foreign exchanges, to influence the level of economic activity in the country, and to influence cooperative politicians by subsequent economic rewards in the business world."

- Carroll Quigley, CFR member, mentor to Bill Clinton, from 'Tragedy And Hope'
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December 05, 2011, 09:05:48 PM
 #413

MoonShadow is saying that the worst-case scenario from global warming is a return to a pre CO2 sequestering atmosphere. That's a hell of a lot older - way way way older, than plants. Even if all CO2 was in the atmosphere then, it is not an example of an environment we can survive.
Why not?

It's not an example of an environment we can survive because nothing remotely close to humans were alive last time it was like that. I'm not proving that life would be impossible - I'm rejecting your hypothesis as to why life (beyond microscopic) MUST be possible.
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December 06, 2011, 06:36:26 AM
 #414

It's not an example of an environment we can survive because nothing remotely close to humans were alive last time it was like that. I'm not proving that life would be impossible - I'm rejecting your hypothesis as to why life (beyond microscopic) MUST be possible.

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December 06, 2011, 07:07:31 AM
 #415

It's not an example of an environment we can survive because nothing remotely close to humans were alive last time it was like that. I'm not proving that life would be impossible - I'm rejecting your hypothesis as to why life (beyond microscopic) MUST be possible.


That's an interesting graph, but there are no scales to make comparisons.

"The powers of financial capitalism had another far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent meetings and conferences. The apex of the systems was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, a private bank owned and controlled by the world's central banks which were themselves private corporations. Each central bank...sought to dominate its government by its ability to control Treasury loans, to manipulate foreign exchanges, to influence the level of economic activity in the country, and to influence cooperative politicians by subsequent economic rewards in the business world."

- Carroll Quigley, CFR member, mentor to Bill Clinton, from 'Tragedy And Hope'
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December 06, 2011, 04:33:27 PM
 #416

That's an interesting graph, but there are no scales to make comparisons.
Sorry. This one has scales:

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December 06, 2011, 07:20:33 PM
 #417

That's an interesting graph, but there are no scales to make comparisons.
Sorry. This one has scales:


Assuming that chart is correct, and not just some made up bs, then that implies that the level of CO2 in the air before sequesteration was about 3K ppm, and that all of the fossil fuels were created during the Teritary.  So relatively recently.  Humanity might actually be able to notice 3K ppm directly, because we use the concentration of CO2 in our lungs and bloodstream to tell us when to exhale.  A level so high might trigger the sensation of suffocation in some people.  Regardless, if a CO2 feedback mechanism exists in nature, a level anywhere near 3K ppm would have destroyed all life; so obviously one cannot exist.

"The powers of financial capitalism had another far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent meetings and conferences. The apex of the systems was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, a private bank owned and controlled by the world's central banks which were themselves private corporations. Each central bank...sought to dominate its government by its ability to control Treasury loans, to manipulate foreign exchanges, to influence the level of economic activity in the country, and to influence cooperative politicians by subsequent economic rewards in the business world."

- Carroll Quigley, CFR member, mentor to Bill Clinton, from 'Tragedy And Hope'
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December 06, 2011, 07:52:05 PM
 #418

Assuming that chart is correct, and not just some made up bs, then that implies that the level of CO2 in the air before sequesteration was about 3K ppm, and that all of the fossil fuels were created during the Teritary. 

That graph shows a peak of about 7000 ppm in the Cambrian, which was still a billion years after carbon sequestering began. How could the level of CO2 be higher in the Cambrian than before sequestering?
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December 07, 2011, 02:01:32 AM
 #419

Assuming that chart is correct, and not just some made up bs, then that implies that the level of CO2 in the air before sequesteration was about 3K ppm, and that all of the fossil fuels were created during the Teritary. 

That graph shows a peak of about 7000 ppm in the Cambrian, which was still a billion years after carbon sequestering began. How could the level of CO2 be higher in the Cambrian than before sequestering?

I meant, generally, with regard to fossil fuels.  The drop from 7K in the Cambrian is likely due to the rise and spread of multicellular plantlife, which maintains a certain level of sequesterd carbon in the cycle of life.

"The powers of financial capitalism had another far-reaching aim, nothing less than to create a world system of financial control in private hands able to dominate the political system of each country and the economy of the world as a whole. This system was to be controlled in a feudalist fashion by the central banks of the world acting in concert, by secret agreements arrived at in frequent meetings and conferences. The apex of the systems was to be the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, a private bank owned and controlled by the world's central banks which were themselves private corporations. Each central bank...sought to dominate its government by its ability to control Treasury loans, to manipulate foreign exchanges, to influence the level of economic activity in the country, and to influence cooperative politicians by subsequent economic rewards in the business world."

- Carroll Quigley, CFR member, mentor to Bill Clinton, from 'Tragedy And Hope'
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December 07, 2011, 11:21:04 PM
 #420

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/-ToEH3NXrJ0M/Tt-_7stlmII/AAAAAAAABLI/kLCrIbOKLlU/w402/5Stages.jpg

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