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Don't Count Your Chickens Before They Hatch

Julian Silk's picture
Adjunct Professor,
  • Member since 2010
  • 283 items added with 7,669 views
  • May 24, 2022

This is in response to the "Climate Chickens are Coming Home to Roost!" post by Jim Baird.  In it, he argues that the temperature data and CO2 data for Hawaii argue that temperature is leading and CO2 is following.  From there, he argues against carbon taxes and other government interventions.

This is not to make an argument for or against government interventions to deal with global warming/climate change.  It is only to argue that the example is very problematic.

Hawaii is hundreds of miles removed from the major industrial economies, and as a tourism and agriculturally-based economy.  (There is also a significant defense presence - e.g., the Naval Station at Pearl Harbor-Hickam).  More detail on the Hawaiian economy is at  

and also see  

So CO2 readings for Hawaii are atypical, and are primarily measuring CO2 that is generally not produced locally, but has travelled hundreds of miles over the Pacific Ocean, and has been absorbed all that time.

My analogy, which can be disputed, but should be disputed on the basis of logical argument, is that the situation is like measuring water spilled into a pool.  Suppose the pool has about an inch of water in it to start, but there is a rigidly held bucket in the middle of the pool, which will not shift regardless of circumstances and is impermeable.  Suppose you start off by pouring the water into a bucket and not counting the water in the bucket.  As long as the bucket is not full, you will not measure significant changes in the water level in the pool.  Once the bucket is full, you will start to measure changes in the pool's water level.  CO2 in this analogy is the water that is being poured into the pool, and yes, in this example, the pouring water does lead the water level.  That's what Mr. Baird's graph looks like to me, and it could easily be a relatively unique situation.  

Rachael Lewis's picture
Rachael Lewis on May 24, 2022

The article referred to in this post can be found at
Julian Silk's picture
Julian Silk on May 24, 2022

Thanks, Rachael.  I should have put that in there.

Michael Keller's picture
Michael Keller on May 31, 2022

There is also a massive CO2 spewing volcano on the big island.  If you want an absolutely pristine measurement, try midway island.

Julian Silk's picture
Thank Julian for the Post!
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