CO2 Levels Spike: What Should We Do?

John Vechey of PopCap Games recently joined The Motley Fool for a climate change summit. His first panel guests are Dr. Rachel Cleetus and Dr. Joe Casola. Dr. Cleetus is a climate economist with the Union of Concerned Scientists, where she advocates for effective global warming policies at the state, regional, federal, and international levels. Dr. Casola is program director for science and impacts at the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, which works to assess the current state of knowledge regarding climate change and its impacts, and to promote actions that strengthen climate resilience.

Carbon dioxide levels have skyrocketed in the last 50 years, and scientists agree that humans are the cause. Dr. Cleetus reveals what may come as a surprise: Many economists actually agree on how we should respond.

This issue is of critical importance to companies, particularly those with extremely carbon-intensive operations. In the wake of declining domestic coal consumption, Arch Coal (NASDAQOTH: ACIIQ  ) and Peabody Energy (NASDAQOTH: BTUUQ  ) have been looking for new markets for their carbon-heavy product. If exporting U.S. coal to overseas markets proceeds according to plan, the move will constitute one of the most significant global contributions to atmospheric carbon concentrations. Consider the effects on these companies if some of the proposals in this video become a reality.

One home-run investing opportunity is considerably less carbon intensive, and has been slipping under Wall Street's radar for months. It won't stay hidden much longer. Forward-thinking energy players like GE and Ford have already plowed sizable amounts of research capital into this little-known stock... because they know it holds the key to the explosive profit power of the coming "no choice fuel revolution." Luckily, there's still time for you to get on board if you act quickly. All the details are inside an exclusive report from The Motley Fool. Click here for the full story!

Read/Post Comments (23) | Recommend This Article (3)

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  • Report this Comment On July 03, 2013, at 3:15 PM, stevor86 wrote:

    Define "skyrocketed" in how the CO2 levels have skyrocketed. I'm not sure what the exact normal percent, but is it something like 17%. Has it reached 1 more percent? (or is the "sky falling" and it landed on this conference?)

  • Report this Comment On July 03, 2013, at 3:20 PM, jimbest162 wrote:

    How about we act like tea-baggers do & just bury our heads in the sand?

  • Report this Comment On July 03, 2013, at 3:26 PM, mapsguy wrote:

    This is fact and we all pay if we don't do anything.

  • Report this Comment On July 03, 2013, at 3:27 PM, stevor86 wrote:

    Here's some info I ran across as to the "data" they use:

    It's not a very good sampling, but that's no surprise when there is an AGENDA by the "global warming" folks.

  • Report this Comment On July 03, 2013, at 3:40 PM, cupera1 wrote:

    higher CO2 will increase crop yields and a warmer climate will increase growing season again increasing crops. Of course, this rise in CO2 is all from when the little ice age ended a couple hundered years ago. I am still waiting for how humans caused the ice age to end.

    It’s never been about "saving the planet" and it’s not about clean air or water, it IS a scam to keep people from having a better life. The eco-fascist will force you into a tiny clown car, a 700sq/ft cave for your home, a 900 calorie daily diet, a government approved job and one child per family. The eco-eliet will not have these restrictions. They will live the life-styles of the rich and famous of luxury yachts, stretch limos and Lear jets. They will manufacture ANY crises to push their agenda. “We can run your life better than you”.

  • Report this Comment On July 03, 2013, at 3:43 PM, danm6 wrote:

    Pre-industry era it was ~280 ppm Back in 1960, the CO2 level was ~320 ppm. It's now at 400 ppm, and it's increase is accelerating and is now at 2 ppm per year. A 40% increase in one of the key gasses that affects the amount of infrared radiation that is released to space is significant. If trends continue, we'll be up near 560 ppm within about 50 years. A 5C temperature rise from this actually seems a bit small, but that's what the models indicate.

  • Report this Comment On July 03, 2013, at 3:44 PM, Albert0Knox wrote:

    stevor86, that is not a scientific journal. It definitly HAS an agenda. The accumulation of scientific data by scientists in a wide variety of fields has lead to the conclusion that human activity is changing the climate.

    Sure, there are agenda driven people with every sort of issue, but you can't fake science, not on this scale. Cherry picking out of context or erroneous data doesn't win the day. Over the vast span of research and as time passes the results become more clear. Today, only those with an agenda deny the obvious.

  • Report this Comment On July 03, 2013, at 4:02 PM, automaticsteam wrote:

    Ironically it is the damage and effects of the methods of extraction of the hydrocarbons generating the CO2 rise that is the elephant in the room, worse than the effects of combustion themselves.

  • Report this Comment On July 03, 2013, at 4:20 PM, nonbeliever1 wrote:

    The article says"scientists agree" First off..scientist don't agree! Remember the nobel prize given to al gore and his pocket scientist..whatever his name was..will.. he rejected the prize because he said it wasn;t true. The 2500 scientist that think climate warming is caused by human carbondioxide are out numbered by the more than 80,000 that say this is a natural warming due to a lot of things like global positioning,solar activity,natural activity like volcanism,..just to name a few,so when you hear "scientist" going against science facts for political gain like these ones..all we can do is call them out as phonies,and political activists!

  • Report this Comment On July 03, 2013, at 4:59 PM, bnachumi wrote:

    Stevor86, I'm not sure which plots you link to support your skepticism. Sure, there's some uncertainty in the +/-5ppm range, and most of that is within the scope of regular seasonal variations for the northern hemisphere. The Mauna Loa standard measurements track the global average well.

    So while the difference between 350 and 355 ppm atmospheric concentration of CO2 in the same year from two different testing stations on two different dates is nothing to get excited about, the change from 280ppm to just about 400ppm (as of 2012) since the Industrial Revolution is quite significant. The data clearly indicate a rapid and accelerating increase, correlated with human industrial activity.

    If Volcanism were the culprit, you'd expect this rise to correlate with an big increase in volcanic activity, on the scale of the Deccan Traps or Yellowstone. To my knowledge, that doesn't work out. Nor does the CO2 concentration have anything to do with solar cycles. It's settled science--straightforward physics-- how CO2 insulates IR blackbody radiators like the Earth, and, in fact, for the last decade or so, we have been in a period of decreased solar irradiance. Nor has the Earth's orbit suddenly decreased. So you can't blame the sun, either.

  • Report this Comment On July 03, 2013, at 5:32 PM, marks64 wrote:

    I've done study on climate since the 1970s back at the end of the last cool phase and all through the 30 year warm phase that ended March of this year and we now move into a 30 year cold phase, colder than the last natural cycle.

    As for CO2, these are record lows compared to history but not compared to Industrialization. They are at highest levels since the tiny amount of time of Industrialization but is that all from human activity? No and is it unnatural? Not unless humans are not natural to the planet and that is up to debate for a few reasons.

    CO2s mean nothing per these 30 year warming and cooling phases and for good reason that over 33 thousand scientists agree. When in a warm phase like the one we are coming out of, in simple form; our upper atmosphere becomes more humid which leads to a huge increase in water vapor. That is aka as the blanket effect and yes, that not only warms the earth but it traps those gases to be measured. During a cold phase like the one that just started in March and takes about three years to really show up yet this winter should be cold and long like spring broke a record cold because of the cold phase, the humidity in the upper atmosphere starts to dry and the water vapor drys up and that blanket effect is lifted and the earth turns colder again and the bulk of those trapped gases fall back to earth and just like the human body is made up of a great percentage of water, it has the exact percentage as the water on the earth (humans have exact percentage of minerals in body as the earth contains too) and those nasty gases fall back to earth an the majority of them are cleansed by the Oceans as always HOWEVER; some will in fact fall over land and the problem with coal and other things is the pollution to the human body, plants, trees and other things so it is not affecting climate since the Sun controls 97% of that, earth wobble another 1% and the two percent left over is controlled by volcanoes and other natural things including cows and cows cause more of these than all humans combine.

    Since, the only effect humans have on climate in a significant way is the City Heat Island effect from the coloration and type of concrete and other materials, if you do a record of NYC and Atlanta, you notice an increase in temperatures because they are too dumb and do not take the temperatures outside of the City areas so of course, temperatures will rise 10* in a larger City. NYC was not all that large 100 years ago compared to now and Atlanta was nothing then. Thankfully, Cities take up less than 1% of US land so there will never be a time when the States is City to City unless you are using a main highway to get from place to place and those are tiny from above.

    Since CO2s have been much higher before humans, we know that humans are not the main cause so we can forget about that and stop the worry.

    As for coal, China and other Asian nations use the bulk, will continue and do not care what laws the States puts into place thus; ACI, ANR, BTU and others are highly undervalued stocks and the turnaround in coal is almost here.

    It is my opinion that only someone inexperienced would not be buy coal at these levels. My choice is ACI since it has the most upside as in perhaps a thousand percentage points and at least 500% while BTU might be bigger or in better condition at this time ACI, ANR and BTU are fine and in no danger of problems regardless if Congress agrees on a tax in the States (a tiny nation). Looking at the balance sheet of ACI, there are plenty of assets to make up for any debt and the debt is long term to start with.

    Bottom line: Expect longer and colder winters, hot summers as usual but perhaps more rain in the SE to prevent as much heat and for it to be proven fact in five years global warming was not caused by humans. Global cooling is going to cause more trouble than global warming. ACI ANR and BTU to name a few, will do will while some others not mentioned are going bankrupt by their own doing. It will be time for someone to make money off books and global cooling again soon just like in the 1970s.

    This new cooling pattern looks to be colder than the last one but that is not 100% but it will be as cold and the Arctic Ice mass will be recorded at record highs by 2020 compared to 1979 levels so stick around for the excitement and fun. Humans have ego and think they control everything and this goes into psychology too so too long to post the entire process of it all.

    See you on ACI at $35.00 a share!


  • Report this Comment On July 03, 2013, at 5:45 PM, alfheida wrote:

    please show me some pictures or satellite pictures of ice caps or glaciers that have grown over the last few decades so I can stop worrying.

    I have only seen pictures showing the north pole ice cap and all major glaciers shrinking daily,so unless some one can show a picture or two showing other wise, the sceptics should shut up

  • Report this Comment On July 03, 2013, at 5:50 PM, Plantman57 wrote:

    stevor86, the global concentration of CO2 is only 400 parts per million, or 0.04%, not 17% (you may be thinking of oxygen, which is present in a concentration of about 21%. Actually, the most important greenhouse gas involved in global warming is WATER VAPOR (about 1% or 10,000 parts per million). The global warming shills must be getting their emotional message through to the uneducated populace if people think the atmosphere is almost one-fifth CO2!

  • Report this Comment On July 03, 2013, at 6:45 PM, 2smartforlibs wrote:

    According to most liberals in the 80's the sky fells before the turn of the century but wait we got luck and it didn't but its falling now. How about if we do some real science come up with real facts not things from a high school kids term paper. Science isn't based on consensus its based on fact.

  • Report this Comment On July 03, 2013, at 6:50 PM, RobP1965 wrote:

    I see a lot of bad math, a lot of emotional clap trap, a lot of "do something now" (to everyone else but I'm good, usually) If you believe in Global Warming as man made, do something to cut your CO2 output to absolute zero. That means you need a rope, a place to hang it from and a note that says "good bye cruel world". That is the only way iff enough people do it of course.

  • Report this Comment On July 03, 2013, at 7:16 PM, Lawless6373 wrote:

    The man made global warming theory is hardly settled, There are many scientific voices on both sides. But here are the facts. There is no correlation between CO2 and the temperature rise. The average global temp rose suddenly about 1 degree F about 15 years ago and has remained rather level since. CO2 on the other hand has continued to rise steadily. Rather than close coal plants, I propose planting trees. It won't make a difference either, but it will make everyone feel better.

  • Report this Comment On July 03, 2013, at 8:48 PM, tommy1954 wrote:

    althou most of us weren't around back in the thirties during the usa drought before ww2,the answer to this question is rain.but now that most of the mid-west land sit idol c02 emissions are on the rise,if we could get the land back to growing something,it would rain,so it all breaks down to religion,if the land is active it rains if left alone it does nothing and the co2 gasses continue.rain washes out the co2 in return land grow corn,soy bean or anything at all is better than nothing on 2 fronts.

  • Report this Comment On July 03, 2013, at 8:54 PM, cafields8675309 wrote:

    More CO2, Global Warming BS, from the the Fools at Fool.Com. Plants Absorb and Use CO2 During Photosynthesis to Produce Chlorophyll, which is Plant Food and in the Process, Plants Produce Five Times the Oxygen from the CO2 they Absorb. The Higher the CO2 Levels, the Cooler the Planet will be and Plants Will Produce More Oxygen and Produce Better Crops.

    InfoWars *Dot*Com* PrisonPlanet *Dot*TV*

  • Report this Comment On July 04, 2013, at 9:44 AM, philfree27 wrote:

    Maybe we should look at the UK and Germany, see how their efforts have panned out before doing anything profoundly stupid.

    Is China on board? India? I seem to remember reading a report that China had over 300 new coal fired plants on the drawing boards. If they're going full speed ahead, maybe it would be simpler and kinder for us to use our nuclear arsenal to annihilate our population in advance, rather than jack up the price of electricity and condemn them to lingering misery.

    Why aren't we building nuclear power plants like mad?

  • Report this Comment On July 04, 2013, at 10:20 AM, BuddyGC wrote:

    What should we do?

    1. Stop exporting environmental problems to other countries

    2. Allow science and technology to come up with the solutions not politicians, special interest groups and billionaires backing green alternatives

    May 2012 material scientists at the Michigan University of Technology discovered a method of converting Co2 gas to a solid material.

    and even better the solid material is the same material same to make semi conductors.

    Instead of passing laws and regulations that have minimal impact, invest in science and technology that have major impacts.

    and switch to Nat Gas while waiting which will redce Co2 by 30%

  • Report this Comment On July 04, 2013, at 10:40 AM, juchespam wrote:

    Hey everyone,

    Remember how much money Exxon and others are paying to trick you into ignoring facts? Remember that when you see the replies here. Exxon pays coporations to come on this site and cast doubt on what experts are saying. They sound like real people, they might even sound like they know what they are talking about. But at the end of the day, Germany and other countries are making billions of dollars by making and selling their natural resources. We can sell our sun and wind too, it doesn't cost much to harvest it. And if you notice, Saudi Arabi has BMW's as police cars because they sell their natural resources.

  • Report this Comment On July 05, 2013, at 10:55 AM, johnlg515 wrote:

    PLANT TREES! The Amazon is being destroyed and trees all over the country are coming down for new housing. We need smart regulations. May I emphasize smart! Put engineers to work to make coal cleaner and stop spending money on stupid stuff like worm museums.

  • Report this Comment On July 12, 2013, at 11:10 AM, cwon14 wrote:

    There is no empirical relationship to human co2 and climate change, only failed models at government expense.

    No warming in 15 years as reported in the NY TIMES.

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