Responding to a climate change denier on Youtube

I recently ran across Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s speech to a group of climate activists in the Sunrise Movement who are pressuring US politicians to support the Green New Deal.

As is typical with any Youtube video involving AOC and climate change, the comments to the video were filled with disparaging comments, insulting AOC’s intelligence and claiming that she was trying to deceive the public by promoting the “hoax” of climate change. I know that I shouldn’t feed the online trolls, I decided to respond a wag named “Trump Is Your President,” who posted:

We will all be dead in 12 years people. Hope you’re all ready. 👍

In anger, I wrote in response:

Did you bother to read the IPCC’s report? You really are an ignoramus who spreads your idiocy on the internet.

“Trump Is Your President” didn’t bother to respond, but another online genius named “64PINK256” did:

@Amos Batto As an environmentalist above all else, I have read every ipcc report. All of the reports have made predictions. None of the predictions have come true. Take sea level rise, for instance. It is at 1.3 MILLIMETERS a year. That is almost indiscernible. I was told all my life that if we put any more co2 in the air, we would have a runaway greenhouse effect and turn in to venus. Well hold on to your belief system, because boy do I have a shock for you. Look up phanerozoic carbon dioxide chart. I don’t even have to explain it. But I will. There are several methods to determine co2 levels from millions of years ago. One of the most accepted methods is antarctic ice core data. Also greenland ice cores. I think five different methods of analysis are in the one chart. They all show basically the same thing. There has been no other time in the history of the earth where c02 has been lower than it is today. If you see charts on the vostok petit ice core data, you will see that temp happens first, then co2 changes about 800 yrs later. That means that the storage and release of co2 by our earth and atmosphere is controlled by temperature, not the other way around. The percentage of co2 in our atmosphere has changed drastically over time, but temperature did not follow. Rather short term changes (hundreds of thousands of years) in temperature have seen co2 follow. Long term – no to negative correlation.

I’ll give “64Pink256” credit for at least picking an interesting nom de plume that shows that he knows how to count in binary, but unfortunately his creative juices led to him making up facts. He managed to pack in a whole lot of misinformation in his post, and I felt compelled to respond with this long rebuttal:
@64PINK256, Sorry, but you really are showing your ignorance here. Sea level rise was about 1.3 mm per year between 1900 and 1950. By 2000, that rate had increased to about 3.2 mm/yr and the rate in 2016 was 3.4 mm/yr. Project that rate of increase into the future and you see why scientists are extremely worried. We have paleohistorical evidence that sea level can rise as much as 5 meters in a century and Hansen et al (2016) explain how it could happen. It is a long paper, but you should read it:

Yes, CO2 levels in the past got as high as 3000 ppm in the atmosphere, but mammals do not do well at that level of CO2. Dinosaurs thrived in that atmosphere, but we humans won’t. Studies show that the cognitive abilities of humans are impaired above 1000 ppm. For the last 800,000 years, when we have good ice core records, the CO2 levels never got above 350 ppm. Modern homo sapiens only appeared 200,000 years ago, so humans have never experienced high CO2 levels before now. You have to go back to the mid-Pliocene 3.3 million years ago when the Earth had CO2 levels between 380 and 400 ppm to find anything comparable to today, and at that time, the oceans were 25 meters higher and the temperature was 2-3 C warmer than now. In other words, we have already emitted enough greenhouse gas emissions to raise the seas 25 meters and warm the planet 2-3 C, but we haven’t yet experienced it, due the inertia of the climate system. It takes a long time to heat up an ocean that is 4 km deep, and melt ice sheets that are 1 km thick, and we aren’t sure how long it will take, but we know that it will eventually happen if we stay at current levels of CO2.

Your argument that CO2 is the dependent variable and temperature is the independent variable is only partially right. What happened at the end of previous ice ages was that changes in the Milankovitch solar cycles and changes in ocean currents added extra heat to part of the planet. That temperature change caused ice to melt, so that more sunlight was absorbed and less was reflected, which causes more temperature rise. The rising temperature also stimulated more plant growth and more organic material to decay which emitted CO2 and the warming oceans also emitted CO2. The extra CO2 in the atmosphere caused more warming, which in turn caused more CO2 emissions. So basically both extra heat and extra CO2 caused positive feedback loops which reenforced each other over thousands of years to bring about the interglacial periods. Before you claim that the recent change in the climate is just part of a natural cycle, keep in mind that the CO2 levels were only rising an average of 0.01 ppm per year at the end of the last ice age, whereas we are increasing CO2 levels at roughly 3 ppm, so we are introducing extra radiative forcing 300 times faster than would occur naturally. What we are now observing is not part of some natural cycle and cannot be explained by stochastic changes in the climate or as part of a natural warming cycle caused by sun cycles or current changes.

The fact that I have to explain this to you shows that you clearly haven’t bothered to read the IPCC reports and you clearly don’t know what you are talking about. For the love of humanity, stop spreading false information on the internet. The UN calculates that climate change is killing 400,000 people per year. Your denial of the scientific reality is preventing the world from taking action and causing people to die. If you have a shred of human decency, you will realize your moral obligation to work collectively to reduce anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, instead of obstructing efforts to solve the problem.
I don’t know why I bother responding to trolls on the internet like “64Pink256”. Maybe he is a real person, or maybe he is a bot or a Russian paid to spread misinformation. Either way, he caused me to waste 30 minutes responding to his malarkey, so I decided to repost it here, so I would have it ready to copy and paste the next time I feel inspired to respond to another troll denying climate change.

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