If this keeps up, The Atlantic is going to have to put McArdle behind a pay wall. She's too much fun to be given away for free.
Daniel Shore:2. All the carbon we're burning used to be in the atmosphere. Yet the planet supported life. Indeed, the oil we're burning comes from the compressed, decayed bodies of . . . phytoplankton. This suggests that some number of phytoplankton should be able to survive high concentrations of the stuff.
Isn't this a silly piece of reasoning? It's true that all that carbon used to be in the atmosphere - but not ALL AT ONCE. It was absorbed at low levels of concentration over millions of years and compressed by phytoplankton. Your argument is sort of like saying that drinking 12 liters of vodka shouldn't kill you, because you've had that much to drink over the last 5 years of your life.
As for the rest of the post, meh.
McMegan: Carbon concentrations in the jurassic were what, 4-5 times higher than they are today? To a first approximation, it was all in the atmosphere.
tinisoli: No, it wasn't.
McMegan: Sorry? Is this incorrect? http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v411/n6835...
tinisoli: Relevance of that paper?
anirprof: It's not incorrect but it doesn't say what you are claiming.
That CO2 concentrations were 5x higher in the past isn't the same as saying that all the carbon currently contained in hydrocarbons in the crust were in the air then.
McMegan: Given that the 100 year projections involve carbon concentrations below 1,000 ppm, the statement that "all the stuff we're burning was in the atmosphere" is correct. Was every hydrocarbon in the ground in the atmosphere? Probably not. But every hydrocarbon in the ground is not recoverable, so that's not a very interesting question.
tinisoli: Why don't you just clarify what you meant and then we'll see if it actually meant what you're nor pretending it did?
McMegan: I wasn't unclear. You and Anirprof decided that I must have meant something else, and proceeded to argue furiously against something I didn't say.
The estimated reserve life of the major oil reserves clocks in at under 150 years. By then, we'll have figured out something else, or the economy will collapse anyway, and we won't need to worry about greenhouse gasses.
anirprof: Plus about four other commenters above and below this point who read it the same way, so I wouldn't be so quick to assert there was nothing wrong with the phrasing. Given what you say you were trying to communicate, TakuanSoho's comment below suggests a phrasing that makes a lot more sense than the original.
McMegan: In my experience, there are a number of issues where people stop reading about halfway through, and start arguing with the opponent in their head. This is one of them.
Brian Despain: That's one of the best quotes you have ever had Megan. This thread is great evidence for that. [Teacher's pet.]
downpuppy: And like all Megan quotes, makes more sense when you realize it's about Megan. Nobody is claiming that global warming is a threat to all life on earth, so Megan writes a post to say that everybody who claims that global warming will end life on earth is a doodyhead.
By writing it really badly & throwing in some rubbish about CO2, she gets 3 more posts to respond to people who haven't noticed that she really hasn't said anything worth reading.
Norman Rogers: Does the opponent in your head make you set fires and laugh at inappropriate moments?
Syz: Shorter Megan: After my arguments have been thoroughly debunked, I like to switch to ad hominem attacks. Also too, Zosima is a snot-nosed know-nothing brat and I really should get around to banning him cause he keeps embarrassing me with his mastery of 9th grade math.