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Arnold Schwarzenegger orders gas chambers for some conservatives

...with his thick Austrian accent...

The Terminator's comments at the National Clean Energy Summit were... unfortunate.

According to the Huffington Post (via Junk Science and Climate Depot), he has proposed a final solution to some disagreements with his opponents that seems to be highly popular among famous Austrian-born expats (let me not mention a former German chancellor by his name), perhaps even more popular than their irrational opposition to peaceful nuclear energy:

Speaking of greenhouse gas deniers: "Strap some conservative-thinking people to a tailpipe for an hour and then they will agree it's a pollutant!"
An interesting but not original (as visitors of a camp in Poland know) technique. But will it achieve what the ex-governor believes that it will achieve? Will the conservative-thinking people agree that CO2 is a pollutant?

Arnold admitted he used to be a big admirer of his countrymate Adolf and has been lying about this relationship for decades.

I don't think so. It seems more likely that they will agree with nothing because they will be dead and dead people can't agree with anything. Instead, Arnold Schwarzenegger will be tried for crimes against humanity – and I guess that the judges would agree that this method to terminate the lives of some conservative-thinking people is a crime against humanity. He will be shown that the Terminator's being human is a film propaganda and his abilities to escape justice indefinitely are movie fantasies.

Moreover, their death won't have anything to do with CO2. Why?

Open the Wikipedia's definition of exhaust gases – this encyclopedia is unlikely to be conservatively biased – and you will see the following:

The largest part of most combustion gas is nitrogen (N2), water vapor (H2O) (except with pure-carbon fuels), and carbon dioxide (CO2) (except for fuels without carbon); these are not toxic or noxious (although carbon dioxide is generally recognized as a greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming). A relatively small part of combustion gas is undesirable noxious or toxic substances, such as carbon monoxide (CO) from incomplete combustion, hydrocarbons (properly indicated as CxHy, but typically shown simply as "HC" on emissions-test slips) from unburnt fuel, nitrogen oxides (NOx) from excessive combustion temperatures, ozone (O3), and particulate matter (mostly soot).
Carbon dioxide, while a greenhouse gas, is not toxic and it is not noxious. It's probably carbon monoxide that will be responsible for the genocide. Too bad that Arnold Schwarzenegger didn't attend an elementary school during George W. Bush's administration because the "No Child Left Behind" program was firmly in place. He didn't have to become a child who was left behind and a walking confirmation of the stereotype that people with his physique are stupid and redundant piles of pork and related proteins – and be sure that I used to think that he was much, much more than that.

The Wikipedia page linked to above also describes the composition of the exhaust gases. In average, they contain something like 71% of nitrogen, 14% of CO2, 12% of water vapor, and 1-2% of carbon monoxide. Trace elements are below 1%.

You see that the nitrogen content is approximately right. The concentration of CO2 is a bit too high. The air that we exhale contains 4% of CO2 so the exhaust gases are about 3.5 times "richer" in that gas. However, on the percentage basis, it is not such a huge difference. CO2 becomes detrimental to life at concentrations about 5% – the atmospheric concentration is 0.04%, more than 100 times lower. Sensitive individuals start to feel dizzy at concentrations of CO2 around 1%, about 25 times higher than the current atmospheric concentration.

So the excess of CO2 would surely be enough to threaten your life after minutes or an hour, to say the least. But it is far from being the main property of the composition that would cause your death.

You may notice that the exhaust gases don't contain any oxygen. It's been used to burn the fuel, stupid. You should really be getting at least about 20% of oxygen (100% is no problem, as astronauts know), otherwise you're not getting an important gas. In fact, many of the health problems appearing in elevated CO2 concentrations are incorrectly attributed to the excess of CO2 even though the main problem is actually the shortage of oxygen.

Most importantly, the exhaust gases are said to contain 1-2% of carbon monoxide, CO, which results from "imperfect combustion" (perfect combustion ends with the perfectly harmless oxide of carbon, the carbon dioxide). You see that the concentration of CO in the exhaust gases is just 7-14 times lower than the concentration of carbon dioxide.

What are the dangerous concentrations of CO? This page on CO poisoning says that concentrations 100 ppm i.e. 0.01% and greater can be dangerous to human health. So the exhaust gases contain 100-200 times greater concentrations of carbon monoxide than the dangerous ones while 14% of CO2 is just 3.5-14 times greater than the dangerous concentrations of CO2, 1%-5% (CO2 only starts to be dangerous at 100-500 times higher concentrations than CO).

You see that the carbon monoxide content is about an order of magnitude more lethal than the carbon dioxide content. Something like 85-98% of the death of the conservative-thinking person should be blamed on carbon monoxide, a very different gas than carbon dioxide. The high content of water vapor isn't a good thing, either, but the complete absence of oxygen is obviously much worse.

It's mostly carbon monoxide that would kill the people in the gas chamber. Let me also mention that this toxic gas is not considered a greenhouse gas. First, its diatomic structure is too simple and makes its infrared spectrum very limited. Second, carbon monoxide is short-lived in the atmosphere due to its reactivity and solubility. The most evil gases are not greenhouse gases while the main greenhouse gases (water vapor and carbon dioxide) are some of the healthiest and most harmless gases around. The relationship between greenhouse-ness and toxicity is exactly the opposite than the alarmist demagogues love to say.

So if the ex-governor were able to realize his dream and attach the conservative-thinking people to his gas chamber and if he were able to claim that the people were murdered by carbon dioxide, you would know that the court system has probably been hijacked by Arnold's murderous ideology because science says something completely, completely different.

Most importantly, CO2 produced by the cars, factories, and other human activities – and by all breathing animals in Nature, among other natural sources – is definitely not a pollutant simply because this production of CO2 only leads to concentrations (and at least, for thousands of years will only lead to concentrations) that are not harmful to anyone and they're actually beneficial to all plants on Earth.

Arnold Schwarzenegger Exhaust, a stupid video formally related to the topic of this blog entry

To summarize, Arnold's "science" is a complete crackpottery which means that the only contribution he is offering to the mankind is his desire to murder people who are vastly smarter than he is.

And that's the memo.

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snail feedback (15) :

reader Bernd Felsche said...

You need to proof-read your article ... you mention dioxide when it should be monoxide. e.g. paragraph beginning with "It's mostly carbon dioxide that ..."

Also, the permissible levels of CO in tailpipe emissions are well under 1% for recent diesel cars and three times as high for petrol (gasoline). (Euro-4 and later)

Diesel engines can produce substantial O2 at the tailpipe because they don't need to be near-stoichiometric for proper combustion. The excess O2 unfortunately raises the NOx levels due to the higher combustion temperature.

Asphyxiation will be as likely a cause of death as CO-poisoning. OTOH; if it's a modern diesel engine running at idle, then boredom could kill before anything else. ;-)

reader Casper said...

Isn't Arnie due for a facelift? Or has he already had one? Or one too many?

reader Gene Day said...

No, Bernd, it is you who needs to read more carefully, not Lubos. Try again before spouting off.

reader Gene Day said...

If the oxygen concentration in our air were to drop to 50% of its pre-industrial level most of us would survive after adapting to the oxygen scarcity. If the CO2 concentration were to drop to 50% of its pre-industrial level we would all die because our food chain would cease to exist.
Any one who thinks that CO2 is less critical to human welfare than oxygen is just nuts. Some pollutant!
We, in California, are buying increasing quantities of fresh produce from Canada where bountiful production is enabled by artificially increasing exposure to CO2 gas. In fact, the whole planet is greening for the same reason. There is a very clear benefit from the 40+ percent increase in CO2 and absolutely zero evidence of harm. Some pollutant!
By the way, Arnold is a lying bastard. Just ask Maria Shriver.

reader Richard Ruquist said...

"carbon dioxide is short-lived in the atmosphere due to its reactivity and solubility" should read carbon monoxide

reader Michael Gersh said...

CO kills because it bonds to the red blood cells, refusing to release in the exhalation the way CO2 does. A lower concentration will still kill by CO poisoning, it will just take a bit longer. People die by CO suicide in catalyst equipped cars all the time.

reader George said...

Off topic:

You might be interested in a MOOC run by Melbourne University. It started this week and it's called "Climate Change":

reader John Archer said...


I too wouldn't hesitate to rush to Luboš's defence but Bernd is right about the dioxide/monoxide thing. Unfortunately the fourth sentence in the paragraph he mentions runs: "Second, carbon dioxide is short-lived in the atmosphere due to its reactivity and solubility." OK, it's only a typo after all but it's still worth correcting as it might confuse Arnie (easily done, I'm sure) if he were ever to read the post and actually make the attempt to learn something.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Tx, sorry for the typos, I was giving a popular physics talk in Northern Bohemia on Thursday, too little time to proofread and do other things.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Dear Gene, sorry, the typo was there. I had very little time because I was traveling and giving a talk most of the day and night.

reader papertiger0 said...

Yeah I voted for that guy. Him and Al Gore. The both of them.

The only good thing I can say about that is most of the time people I vote for lose.

reader Saint Dude said...

Lubos, I think this article is really a good one. "The Age of Global Warming is Over" by Paul Collits. I hope your can wrire a post about it when you are not busy.

reader Jon said...

If the car use up all the O2 I guess you will die for that reason? Like putting a plastic bag over your head?

reader Gene Day said...

For every oxygen molecule that is “used up” by a car exactly one molecule of CO2 is added to the atmosphere. The approximate 100 PPM increase in CO2 in the earth’s atmosphere due to fossil fuel burning corresponds to a decrease of about 100 PPM in the amount of available oxygen. This is not serious. You can experience the same oxygen loss by standing up if you are sitting down due to the reduced air pressure at the higher altitude when you are standing.

reader TomVonk said...

There are some confusions in the post and in the comments.
The method proposed by the Austrian expatriate leads to one and only one cause of death.
Asphyxiation. Indeed Arnold's proposal is isomorphe to drowning and the CO concentration is irrelevant.
The CO "poisoning" acts on the hemoglobin and prevents it to transport oxygen.
However as there is no oxygen to begin with, the CO action on the hemoglobin makes no difference.
Just try to hold your breath - after a few minutes (depending on many personal factors) your brain begins to scream for oxygen.
After about 4-5 minutes without oxygen the brain cells begin to irreversibly die causing clinical death - if you breath in 10% or any other concentration of CO at this moment, it won't make you die any faster.
The CO makes a difference only if some oxygen is present.
That's why if you want to save somebody from drowning one day, you have to get him out within 5 minutes. After 5 minutes irreversible brain damage will have occurred.
This is so true that Arnold's compatriotes in the Einsatzgruppen who experimented with exhaust pipes connected to a (closed) truck filled with people complained in writing to their hierarchy that this method was undermining the morals of the units.
Basically as there was still oxygen in the truck, the CO action took "too long" and the units were deeply depressed and upset by the shouts and sounds in the truck.
The demoralisation went even sofar that many refused to retry the method a second time what was dramatically damaging to the expected disciplin. (This really happened in history)
Obviously Arnold improved the concept so that these inconvenients vanished.