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NASA's take on CO2 levels 

Cutting through the elegant verbosity in Al Fonzi’s piece “What makes a skeptic?” I seized upon what appeared to be a statement of fact: “During the ‘Roman Warm Period’ 2,000 years ago, it was considerably warmer and CO2 considerably greater, at 1,000 ppm.” Astounding!

As someone who is horrified that we have reached 400 ppm (parts per million), I seized upon Fonzi’s words like a drowning man thrown a life preserver: 1,000 ppm! If we survived that, surely we can survive this!

Now to fact check.

When I searched “Roman warm period + 1000ppm,” there were 311 results, most of which were blogs and opinion pieces. I dismissed all of these.

Historic levels of 1,000 ppm is news, a big story, so I searched the under news tab.

There are nine results under news: Several right-wing opinion pieces, and Mr. Fonzi’s own. No major journalistic outlet, the kind that would seize upon this story to sell advertising in our good old free market system, has published the claim.

Well, so, to hell with the news. I would go straight to the science! I searched historic CO2 levels chart.

NASA was the first result. NASA seems like a safe bet to me. There are lots of scientists working at NASA. They have a nice budget, and the best equipment and brains in the world.

The first sentence of the NASA page read as follows: “In 2013, CO2 levels surpassed 400 ppm for the first time in recorded history.”

I am having a hard time reconciling “skeptic” with “gullible.”

Sean Shealy

San Luis Obispo

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