So, I watch C-SPAN. Right now, Representative Steve King
(R-Iowa) is talking about global warming. He used an analogy to try to "discredit" the global warming movement. His analogy was thus: if you draw an 8 foot (diameter) circle on a wall which represented the total volume of the atmosphere, the amount of CO2
output during the entire history of the United States, drawn on the same scale, would have a diameter of slightly over half an inch.
While this anecdote is fun, it is completely worthless. Even if you don't accept carbodioxide's effect on global warming, it should be clear that mere relative volume has no meaning. For instance, the lethal dose of potassium cyanide is about 300mg. Given a density of 1.52g/cm3
, that would amount to about 0.083% of an 8 oz glass of water. Given in the same scale (with the 8 oz glass being 8 feet in diameter), this would be 0.048 inches.
The question is never merely one of volume, but one of lethality. Of course, the lethality of cyanide is undeniable whereas the lethality of atmopheric carbondioxide is far less clear. Nevertheless, by Steve King's reasoning, no one should worry about drinking the water laced with cyanide. After all, it isn't even a tenth of an inch!
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