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Seattle Times letters to the editor

January 31, 2009 at 9:00 AM

Globalist Quiz

The reason behind the number

A recent “Globalist Quiz” [“Quiz CO2 emissions: the magic number,” News, Jan. 26] correctly indicated that the current atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide is about 385 parts per million, but it failed to completely explain how and why it increased to that concentration.

Study of the Vostok and Taylor Dome Ice Cores from Antarctica shows that the atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration was only 180 to 200 parts per million about 18,000 years ago near the end of the last glaciation. It began increasing as global temperatures rose during and long after the transition from cold glacial conditions to warmer interglacial conditions about 11,000 years ago.

These atmospheric carbon dioxide increases are known to have lagged behind the global temperature increases by several hundred years. They are also known to have been created by increases in the flux rate of carbon dioxide from marine and terrestrial ecosystems up into the atmosphere, as the global temperatures increased.

This “Globalist Quiz” has failed to identify how natural increases in global temperatures have been responsible for significant atmospheric carbon dioxide increases over the last 11,000 years.

— Ken Schlichte, Tumwater

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