Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Our Terrifying Far-Future in a Carbon-rich World

If and when atmospheric carbon dioxide levels reach 75,000 ppm, we are in big, big trouble!
Inhalation of 7.5% CO2 increases anxiety and autonomic arousal in humans, and elicits fear behavior in animals. However, it is not known whether CO2 challenge in humans induces dysfunction in neurocognitive processes that characterize generalized anxiety, notably selective attention to environmental threat. Healthy volunteers completed an emotional antisaccade task in which they looked toward or away from (inhibited) negative and neutral stimuli during inhalation of 7.5% CO2 and air. CO2 inhalation increased anxiety, autonomic arousal, and erroneous eye movements toward threat on antisaccade trials. Autonomic response to CO2 correlated with hypervigilance to threat (speed to initiate prosaccades) and reduced threat inhibition (increased orienting toward and slower orienting away from threat on antisaccade trials) independent of change in mood. Findings extend evidence that CO2 triggers fear behavior in animals via direct innervation of a distributed fear network that mobilizes the detection of and allocation of processing resources toward environmental threat in humans.

-- M. Garner et al, Neuropsychopharmacology (2011) 36, 1557–1562
Don't worry--at current rates of emission increases (~0.7%/yr) this won't happen until the 28th century...but just imagine how good it will be for the plants!


charlesH said...

on a related note:

An email I received from Friends of the Earth. Common ground was found.

"Dear Charles,

We scored a victory this afternoon! Senators voted by a margin of 73-27 to end a major giveaway for dirty corn ethanol.

This vote is major progress in our fight to end subsidies for environmentally harmful industries -- progress that the pundits, as well as the powerful biofuels and agribusiness lobbies, would have called impossible just two years ago. But Friends of the Earth has been working with a diverse coalition of environmental groups, fiscal conservatives, agricultural interests, food producers and anti-hunger advocates to amass congressional support for ending ethanol giveaways -- and today we won bipartisan support from every corner of the country except the Corn Belt."

charlesH said...


This should make you happy. One case of corp/gov corruption bites the dust.

"Senate Republicans joined Democrats on Thursday in an overwhelming vote to end an important tax break for the ethanol industry, the first of many niche tax breaks GOP lawmakers are looking to close."

"In the House, Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) described the push against ethanol as a sign Republicans “are getting sick of crony capitalism.”"