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.
The following NASA chart shows that atmospheric CO2 concentrations have risen dramatically since industrialization to levels not seen since long before modern humans existed:
Bastardi went on to suggest that CO2 can't cause climate change because "the temperature is now leveling off and starting to turn around":
BASTARDI: Besides, there's a problem with all of this. One, CO2 continues to go up, if you look at this graphic, and the temperatures have leveled off completely. So how is it if CO2 is continuing to increase, and the temperature is now leveling off and starting to turn around, is CO2 responsible? By the way, greenhouse gases, there's another term form them - it's called plant food. So my motto on this Fourth of July is grill a steak, grill a hamburger and help the trees out.
Fox aired the following graph which shows only the past 15 years of a 160-year temperature record:
However, scientists maintain that longer-term data is necessary when discussing climate change. NASA states that climate change is "usually taken over 30-years." In addition there are "shorter-term climate variations" that are "periodic or intermittent changes related to El Niño, La Niña, volcanic eruptions, or other changes in the Earth system."
It's telling that Fox did not air the following chart, which shows the temperature record since 1850:
From the July 4 edition of Fox & Friends: