the Air Vent

Because the world needs another opinion

H. Leighton Steward – Ten Myths About CO2

Posted by Jeff Id on October 10, 2009

While I’ve been careful not to say several of these things as several are unproven but they are reasonable and  I can’t disagree with any of them either.

From an Article HERE in Washington Whispers.

Steward’s Myth 1: The planet Earth will be healthier with lower CO2 levels.
He says: More CO2 is needed to bolster plant life, which turns the gas into oxygen while also providing food.

Steward’s Myth 2: Rising CO2 levels cause temperatures to rise.
He says: Temperatures over time have fluctuated while CO2 levels have remained steady. What’s more, temperature increases have historically led increases in CO2 levels.

Steward’s Myth 3: Sea levels will rise 20 feet by the end of the century.
He says: The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicts only a 17-inch rise, and “most climatologists predict a rise of only 7 or 8 inches.”

Steward’s Myth 4: Scientists unanimously say that CO2 caused by humans is the dominant cause of global warming.
He says: Not so. “Many, many reputable scientists believe that natural factors overpower the current influence of CO2 on global warming.”

Steward’s Myth 5: The United States is the largest contributor of human-caused CO2.
He says: China, which has no CO2 restrictions, has recently exceeded the United States. Plus, it is “opening a new coal-fired power plant every week, and its production of automobiles is growing at a much more rapid rate.”

Steward’s Myth 6: Storms are more frequent and intense because of global warming.
He says: “According to the National Hurricane Center, storms are no more intense or frequent worldwide than they have been since 1850. Temperatures were high in the 1920s and 1930s when there was much less CO2 in the atmosphere. Constant 24-7 media coverage of every significant storm worldwide just makes it seem that way. Insist on the facts, not just what some individuals or reporters say to support their cause.”

Steward’s Myth 7: Polar bears will go extinct if this warm period continues through the 21st century.
He says: “A jawbone of a polar bear has been found that is 120,000 years old, a time during the previous interglacial when temperatures were 5 degrees Celsius warmer and sea level 19 feet higher than today. They adapted then; why not now?”

Steward’s Myth 8: CO2 is a pollutant.
He says: “CO2 is a great airborne fertilizer, which, as its concentrations rise, causes additional plant growth and causes plants to need less water.”

Steward’s Myth 9: As Earth warms, the climate will become much drier and windier.
He says: Ice cores prove the opposite. The colder times were both windier and drier.

Steward’s Myth 10: Higher levels of CO2 than the current 385 parts per million in the atmosphere are harmful to humans.
He says: The warning level of CO2 in submarines isn’t reached until the atmosphere has 8,000 parts per million of CO2.

So who is Steward? Below is the biography he supplied.

H. Leighton Steward

Leighton Steward is a geologist, environmentalist, author, and retired energy industry executive. He has written about the reasons for the loss of much of the Mississippi River Delta (Louisiana’s national treasure) and has given advice on how the nation can achieve “no net loss” of wetlands in the future, advice that has been accepted by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers.

15 Responses to “H. Leighton Steward – Ten Myths About CO2”

  1. Amabo said

    Myth 2 is a bit iffy, in my book. As far as I understand the absorption laws; increased CO2 should cause an increase in energy absorbed, and this might cause increased temperatures on a global scale. I feel his answer doesn’t adequately adress this, but relies on anecdotal evidence from historical records that are far more complex than just the carbon levels at the time.

    • Louis E. Deaux, LEED AP [BD+C] said

      I felt his answer in #2 was poorly worded. The fact is, CO2 does fluctuate and has for 4.6 BYrs. However, the correlation he should have emphasized is the apparently well documented relationship between past GW trends and CO2. From Ice Cors dating back 2.7 MYA, it is fairly well evidenced that CO2 tends to be released from condensation traps in the oceans about 400-600 years following global increases in temperature. In other words, he IS essentially correct in stating that we see increased CO2 as a symptom or byproduct of warming, not as a root cause of it. My own research and studies have shown the same thing. In any event, the earth was 3-5c warmer from about 9,000 BC to about 2,000 BC…and the polar bears lived, the penguins multiplied and the Sahara was a steppe and swamp covered land mass for the most part, not a desert. As a LEED AP I believe in sustainable building practices, but not because of a lot of political balderdash encapsulated in the AGW dialogue. AGW is a myth. Conservation for appropriate and honest reasons is good. CO2 is most assuredly the way to green up the planet, not burn it up.

  2. Rush said

    Mr. Steward needs to submit his scientific research to the appropriate scientific journal for scientific approval to be published. That is important for a number of reasons including the fact that the IPCC primarily considers research which has been published. Scientific journal publication is were the men and women are seperated from the boys and girls with regards to this topic. As of 2004, there were 928 published papers supporting various aspect of global warming theory and zero papers opposing it. The IPCC, formed in 1988, has evaluated these papers and in 2007 stated it is “…very likely” that the excess of CO2 from human endevours has added to global warming which is part of the larget picture of climate change. The IPCC has not said the extra CO2 is 100% of the cause of what’s been occuring in certain locations of the ozone. The IPCC knows that climate change is also naturaly occuring, it knows that humans exhale CO2 and that plants utilize CO2. A number of these “myths” are not supported by the findings of the IPCC, and I’ve got a feeling that Steward knows that. Google Steward’s name and read up on his vested interested in the financial well being of the oil and gas industry. If Steward is claiming that what he is presenting is science, then he needs to get it published to prove is is science. The oil and gas industry has spent millions on its hired scientists to try and disprove the IPCC findings. The oil and gas industry has not been able to get even one research project published by any scientific group anywhere on this planet.

  3. Glenn said

    Steward, a former director of Enron, high up in the oil & gas industry, and a career history of all things oil and gas and who presents the above biography which barely hints at that, has also made a proposal which solves everything about global warming. Hold on to your hats. Steward wants the world to produce even more CO2 because that will benefit plants which will produce more oxygen. What he doesn’t propose is how do we keep this excess CO2 close to the surface of the Earth where the plants live. Or, are we supposed to figure out a way to keep the plants up in the clouds or even the up in the ozone layer (where the problem seems to be). What’s Steward’s next piece of junk science wisdom – that CO2 doesn’t rise, it naturally hugs the ground?

  4. John Nicklin said


    I’m not sure about Myth 2 being all that iffy for the following reasons.

    Temperature and CO2 do not seemed to be joined at the hip historically, last time I checked the data at least. Indeed, they appear not to be joined at all right now as CO2 keeps rising while temperatures do not. Increased CO2 causes increased absorption, so temperature should rise, if all other things are equal and the CO2/Temp effect is simplistic. If the CO2 layers become saturated as some people claim has happened or is about to happen, then there may not be any further warming attributable to CO2. Some people have used the blankets on a bed analogy, if you pile on more blankets (ie: add more CO2) then you will get hotter and hotter. In practice this doesn’t work, its an easy experiment to try, and I’m surprised that more people haven’t done so.

    Ice core data is such that one group can claim that CO2 leads Temperature while another can argue the opposite while looking at the same data, as far as I can determine, the resolution isn’t fine enough to be completely black and white. There appears to be an 800 – 1,000 year lag with temps rising first. The problem is the “appears” word.

    I’m probably not teling you anything you don’t already know. One thing is for certain, as you pointed out, the historical records are far more complex than any one (or two) variables at any given time.

    Myth 5 is a stumbling point for me. Yes, China did just pass the US in carbon emmissions and is set to go big on this count. Disputants on the other side of the arguement will still be able to say that the US emits more carbon per capita and will continue to do so for some time in the future. This myth just opens a bag of rattle snakes.

    Myth 9 as stated is a bit questionable, in my opinion. I’m not sure that ice cores can tell us how wet/dry or windy/calm the climate was without a hole lot of assumptions and guess work, things that got us into this mess in the first place.

    I could be wrong, if so I’d like to know.

    • Gerry said

      This guy Steward is in the back pockey of the fossil fuel industry. His “science” is not peer reviewed. Please Google Ron Prin prof at MIT and read some real science.


  5. GunnyG said

    gloBULL warming…nothing but a SCAM!

    THANK YOU H. Leighton Steward for your fight against Saint Goreacle and the Gorons.

  6. Myth 2: totally correct. For months I chased the idea that CO2 released might amplify warming, but it’s brag, empty rhetoric, nothing but assertions without a shred of evidence, even in the depths of RealClimate and elsewhere. Or if YOU know otherwise, please let me know your source. Be my guest. I want the truth, and I collect sources for all variants on this issue.

    Rush: so now I know you depend on ad homs and appeal to authority (belief in IPCC and the integrity of peer review), rather than the science itself. Please wake up.

    Glenn: you ought to know that Al Gore himself has been involved at the highest levels with an oil company, and not just any oil company but one with a particularly dirty record re human rights. I can’t be bothered to look up the source of my info but you might find it in my primer (click on my name). And that’s just for starters. Warmists only tell you one side of the story. I know because I was an ardent warmist myself once.

    John Nicklin: Myth 9, colder = drier and windier. Dust in the ice. Dunno about wind, but from today the evidence shows that warmer = wetter and calmer. Think about it. Warmth makes water evaporate more. Antarctica has really low snowfall. Calmer because warmer means less extremes around. Cold always brings in extremes. Look at any temperature record showing both winter and summer.

    Jeff, great list.

    One day I want to see such a list made into a wiki that is only open to skeptics to alter (but where all can comment on comment pages).

  7. Amabo said

    I, unfortunately, do not collect sources, so all I can say is that my reasoning is based on the law describing the absorption characteristics of CO2 from around 1900 or so. I can’t even remember the name of the law or whoever it was that wrote it. Some swedish or danish guy?

    Anyway, according to that law, I believe Lubos Motl made the case for a 1.4 degree rise in temperature, sans any feedback mechanisms. (again, arrest me on this if I’m wrong, I can’t even find that article anymore.)

    I have no idea if this would have an impact world-wide, however.

    I don’t think we should ever fault a scientist, or interested third party, over the source or size of their funding. This plays into the hands of those who would see mania rather than discussion, which I believe is detrimental to reasoned discourse.

  8. Jeff Id said

    #7, I’ve seen the 1.2 C argument without feedback. It contains simplifications which will affect the result so at this point I haven’t accepted it yet, but only because I haven’t studied it thoroughly enough.

  9. DeWitt Payne said

    For anyone interested in studying atmospheric radiation transfer, the URL of the Archer MODTRAN interface has changed. The new URL is:

  10. Michal said

    Have any of the climate change denier science been peer-reviewed in say, PNAS, Science, Nature, Journal of Atmospheric Science, etc??

    If you have the money you can publish as many pamphlets and books, make as many websites and blogs as you wish to make your claims but that doesn’t make any of it fact.

    Steward and like love to promote how great CO2 is for plants and crops but conveniently neglect the ocean.

  11. Rush said

    Amabo: 1. Peer review is not science? Can you name one college or university professor of any worth at all who teaches such a notion? Why do most colleges and universities require their professors to be “published?” Or, am I reading you wrong? Are you really implying that peer review is not science? 2. The IPCC report, which I have read, is, in my opinion, not something that anyone can really “take to the bank.” After all of the peer reviewed published work that has been currently analized by the IPCC, their summary is that it is only “very likely” that GHG has “contributed to” global warming/climate change. 3. Source of science funding, et al. Yes, I agree with you mainly because my college education taught me that peer review doesn’t weigh the source of funding on its scales. This is a tough wall for Oil & Gas. Oil & Gas has always hired extremely smart geologists to find oil & gas. Oil & Gas has funded research, produced by many of these same hires, and this research hasn’t been able to pass muster in the peer review process. Oil & Gas then turns around and generally denounces peer review process. (For space limitations I’m using “Oil & Gas” in a very broad brush stroke) Oil & Gas has been quite critical of the funding sources of a lot of research that hasn’t gone their way. It doesn’t matter to peer review about financial matters. Financial matters do have significance in the realm of public opinion. Steward’s theory is more about public opinion than science. Why is he going to Capital Hill instead of submitting a paper for peer review? Why did he not stating more of his resume when these “myths” became an article in USN&WR? If he’s going to try to appear on the stage of public opinion by slipping his resume under the radar, he’s got another coming. He is not trying to appear on the stage of science. 4. Even though you didn’t ask about this, I’m going to tell you this anyways. The IPCC 2007 report does not state that “the science is settled.” How Al Gore can make that statement is beyond me. My critisms of people like Gore and Steward begin when they miss-quote the IPCC report. I know I have given the perception that I believe the report because I do believe in peer review. The report is full of “likely” and “very likely.” I can’t take “likely” and “very likely” to the bank. Steward does not attribute one single myth to any source or sources. He mentions the IPCC once or twice, readers may have the perception that these myths are supported by the IPCC. Most of the myths, maybe all of them, are not supported by the IPCC report. That doesn’t mean I believe and worship that report. That means I have read it and the picture Steward is painting about the report is false. And you say you want discussion rather than mania?

  12. William said

    myth 3 :Do you trust the guardian?
    or is it yet another liar?
    “global sea levels could rise by up to 9m (30 feet) in the next few hundred years”

    and new scientist which nevertheless do not say 30 feet but says that new studies have shown that IPCC prevision are too conservative
    oh yet another!

    ask the bangladeshis if the water level is not rising
    maldives with most of its land only a few metres above sea level migth disappear
    and netherlands! oh I almost forgot… is BELOW the sea level

    Myth 6: so katrina was not the costliest and not one of the strongest storm in the history of the USA?
    and the same applies to the storms which have hit Japan, Taiwan and the Phillipines
    “The 2005 Atlantic hurricane season was the most active Atlantic hurricane season in recorded history” and that comes from wikipedia

  13. John Nicklin said


    A couple of things, the Netherlands have been below water for a long time, its not a new thing.

    Sea level around the Maldives, according to Nils-Axel Moerner, is not in a rising mode having remained relatively stable over the last 30 years.

    Wikipeadia is not a reliable source of science information. None-the-less, note the “in recorded history” part, that’s a very short time. And to break a record in hurricane numbers, all one has to see is 1 more than the current record holding year. In terms of cost (adjusted for inflation) Katrina was not the most costly and was not the strongest or anywhere near it. Gilbert, Rita, and Allen were stronger. The 1900 Galeveston Hurricane killed 6,000 people. Andrew and Charlie still lead as the costliest storms.

    You are right, the Gaurdian is not a reliable source. Whether you consider New Scientist to be reliable is up to you, I put it in the same category as Discover and People.

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