The ‘grand experiment’ has us heading one way

Current Canadian and British Columbian economic and energy policies ensure that our carbon emissions will accelerate.

The following is a letter in response to “CO2 a tiny fraction of atmosphere”, Progress, Oct. 15.

Thanks to Francis Patrick Jordan for asking “How can a reasonable person argue that carbon dioxide is the primary driver of climate change?”  The answer lies in wavelengths of energy and the structure of molecules.

Energy from the Sun reaches Earth in the range from ultraviolet to infrared, peaking in the visible range.  This energy warms the Earth and Earth in turn radiates energy, as any object warmer than absolute zero does.  Earth radiates in the infrared range.

The atmosphere, as Francis pointed out, is 77% nitrogen (N2) and 21% Oxygen (O2).  N2 and O2 molecules can stretch, but only symmetrically. Molecules with three atoms like carbon dioxide (CO2), water vapour (H2O), nitrous oxide (N2O) or ozone (O3), or five atoms like methane (CH4), can stretch and bend asymmetrically at frequencies that match wavelengths of infrared energy, allowing absorption and re-emission.  A graphic is available at to illustrate.  Some of that energy will end up emitted back to Earth, adding to the total energy reaching the planet.  That is the greenhouse effect.

Atmospheric CO2 concentrations fluctuate naturally, over the past million years up and down between about 180 ppm to about 280 ppm.  Since the industrial revolution it has shot up to its current level of about 400 ppm due to burning of fossil fuels.  A graphic at illustrates.  Current Canadian and British Columbian economic and energy policies ensure that our carbon emissions will accelerate.  It is a grand experiment.


Ian Stephen

Just Posted

Chilliwack couple who went missing on flight from Edmonton named by family

Family released statement saying they’re still focused on finding the two-seater plane

Father of teen who died in government care to run for Chilliwack school board

Peter Lang, who is Métis, also wants to see more Indigenous representation in the district

Chilliwack RCMP use bucket truck to nab distracted drivers

Police used the ‘eye in the sky’ on Sept. 20 near the Evans Roundabout

VIDEO: Chilliwack dairy farmer says Trump doesn’t understand the industry

‘They need supply management just as bad as we need to keep it’: sixth generation farmer Devan Toop

Around the BCHL: Merritt’s Matthew Kopperud nets Sun Devil scholarship

Around the BCHL is a look at the BCHL and goings-on throughout the junior A world.

VIDEO: More cameras, police coming after Marissa Shen killed in Burnaby park

B.C. privacy watchdog worries that the cameras are a ‘slow creep’ to a surveillance state

Arborist killed by fallen tree at Maple Ridge Golf Course

Was working near the 9th tee box of the golf course.

Rattie scores 3 as Oilers blank Canucks 6-0

Vancouver slips to 1-5 in exhibition play

Veterans Affairs ordered to take second look before supporting vets’ relatives

Liberal government ordered officials to adopt a more critical eye

Dead B.C. motorcyclist was member of group that raced down mountain road

Some group members record their rides on Strathcona Parkway and post times to page

Indigenous athletes in spotlight at BC Sports Hall of Fame

New gallery to feature Carey Price, Kaila Mussel and Richard Peter

Abbotsford raccoon dies from injuries suffered in a trap

Wildlife protection group offering $1,000 reward for information about incident

VIDEO: A close look at what you were breathing during the B.C. wildfire season

Electron microscope images show soot and tar particles generated by worst B.C. fire season

B.C. woman donates $250,000 to ovarian cancer research for friends

Two of Patty Pitts’s friends passed away from the disease within a year

Most Read