Tim Blair responds to Mieszkowski’s conclusion that “climate scientists say that, basically, Gore got it right” with a link to an article by Tom Harris who writes:

Albert Einstein once said, “Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of truth and knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods.”

While the gods must consider An Inconvenient Truth the ultimate comedy, real climate scientists are crying over Al Gore’s new film. This is not just because the ex-vice-president commits numerous basic science mistakes. They are also concerned that many in the media and public will fail to realize that this film amounts to little more than science fiction.

If you are going to claim that Gore makes numerous basic science mistakes, it’s not a good idea to make numerous basic science mistakes in just one paragraph. Harris writes:


Similarly, the fact that water vapour constitutes 95% of greenhouse gases by volume is conveniently ignored by Gore. While humanity’s three billion tonnes (gigatonnes, or GT) per year net contribution to the atmosphere’s CO2 load appears large on a human scale, it is actually less than half of 1% of the atmosphere’s total CO2 content (750-830 GT). The CO2 emissions of our civilization are also dwarfed by the 210 GT/year emissions of the gas from Earth’s oceans and land. Perhaps even more significant is the fact that the uncertainty in the measurement of atmospheric CO2 content is 80 GT — making three GT seem hardly worth mentioning.

Let’s count how many basic scientific mistakes and omissions Harris makes.

  1. The CO2 percentage of greenhouse gases by volume is irrelevant. What is important is the contribution of CO2 to the greenhouse effect.

  2. Humanity is increasing the amount of carbon in the atmosphere by 3.8 billion tonnes per year. That is not the same as increasing the CO2 content by 3.8 billion tonnes, since it just counts the carbon in each C02 molecule.

  3. Atmospheric carbon as of the mid 90s was 775 GT. There is no uncertainty of 80 GT, since the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere can be measured quite accurately.

  4. The natural emissions of CO2 are more than balanced by natural absorption of CO2, so nature is, on net, absorbing CO2. Human emissions are significantly more than 3.8 GT. Fortunately natural sinks are absorbing some of the CO2 we produce so the net increase is only 3.8 GT. It is wrong to compare total natural emissions with the net change from human emissions.

  5. Nowhere does Harris mention that human emissions of CO2 have increased the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere by 30%.

Harris tries make it look as if the dispute is between “liberal arts graduate” Al Gore and “leading experts” in climate science. But as we have seen before, the genuine experts in climate science say that Gore basically, got it right.

Harris’ “leading experts” are the sixty scientists who deny global warming is happening and include such non-experts as Vincent Gray. Twelve of the fourteen scientists that Harris cites are amongst those sixty scientists.

Not surprisingly, the rest of the evidence Harris presents is the usual misleading collection of cherry picked facts. For instance, on extreme weather Harris has:

Gore fails to note that the only region to show an increase in hurricanes in recent years is the North Atlantic. Hurricane specialist Tad Murty, former senior research scientist Department of Fisheries and Oceans and now adjust professor of Earth sciences at U of O, points out, “In all other six ocean basins where tropical cyclones occur, there is either a flat or a downward trend.” Murty lists 1900, 1926 and 1935 as the years in which the most intense hurricanes were recorded in the United States. In fact, Max Mayfield, director of the National Hurricane Center in Miami, has stated that global warming has nothing to do with the recent increase in hurricane frequency in the North Atlantic. Murty concludes, “The feeling among many meteorologists is that it has to do with the North Atlantic oscillation, which is now in the positive phase and will continue for another decade or so.”

What got left out? The fact that there has been a global increase in the number of the most intense hurricanes. And of course, it the most intense hurricanes that we are most concerned about.

And:

“We find no alarming sea level rise going on, in the Maldives, Tovalu, Venice, the Persian Gulf and even satellite altimetry, if applied properly.” — Dr. Nils-Axel Morner, emeritus professor of paleogeophysics and geodynamics, Stockholm University, Sweden.

Satellites show a sea level rise of 3mm/year and the sea level is rising in Tuvalu.

And:

“Our information is that seven of 13 populations of polar bears in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago (more than half the world’s estimated total) are either stable or increasing….. Of the three that appear to be declining, only one has been shown to be affected by climate change. No one can say with certainty that climate change has not affected these other populations, but it is also true that we have no information to suggest that it has.” — Dr. Mitchell Taylor, manager, wildlife research section, Department of Environment, Igloolik, Nunavut.

With the warming we have seen so far, we would only expect polar bears at the southernmost extreme of their range to be affected, and Taylor has actually confirmed this.

And:

“The oceans are now heading into one of their periodic phases of cooling…. Modest changes in temperature are not about to wipe them [coral] out. Neither will increased carbon dioxide, which is a fundamental chemical building block that allows coral reefs to exist at all.” — Dr. Gary D. Sharp, Center for Climate/Ocean Resources Study, Salinas, Calif.

What? The oceans are going to cool? Looks like we have another bet candidate.

“Both the Antarctic and Greenland ice caps are thickening. The temperature at the South Pole has declined by more than one degree C since 1950. And the area of sea ice around the continent has increased over the last 20 years.” — Dr. R.M. Carter, professor, Marine Geophysical Laboratory, James Cook University, Townsville, Australia.

It seems more likely that Greenland is losing mass. And while Antarctic sea ice is increasing, this is another Carter cherry pick.

And:

“The MPB (mountain pine beetle) is a species native to this part of North America and is always present. The MPB epidemic started as comparatively small outbreaks and through forest management inaction got completely out of hand.” — Rob Scagel, M.Sc., forest microclimate specialist, Pacific Phytometric Consultants, Surrey, B.C., comments on Gore’s belief that the mountain pine beetle is an “invasive exotic species” that has become a plague due to fewer days of frost.

Oh really?:

Millions of acres of Canada’s lush green forests are turning red in spasms of death. A voracious beetle, whose population has exploded with the warming climate, is killing more trees than wildfires or logging.

The mountain pine beetle has infested an area three times the size of Maryland, devastating swaths of lodgepole pines and reshaping the future of the forest and the communities in it.

“It’s pretty gut-wrenching,” said Allan Carroll, a research scientist at the Pacific Forestry Centre in Victoria, whose studies tracked a lock step between warmer winters and the spread of the beetle. “People say climate change is something for our kids to worry about. No. It’s now.”

Scientists fear the beetle will cross the Rocky Mountains and sweep across the northern continent into areas where it used to be killed by severe cold but where winters now are comparatively mild. Officials in neighboring Alberta are setting fires and traps and felling thousands of trees in an attempt to keep the beetle at bay. …

“It’s a rapid warming” that is increasing the beetles’ range, said Carroll. “All the data show there are significant changes over widespread areas that are going to cause us considerable amount of grief. Not only is it coming, it’s here.”

“We are seeing this pine beetle do things that have never been recorded before,” said Michael Pelchat, a forestry officer in Quesnel, as he followed moose tracks in the snow to examine a 100-year-old pine killed in one season by the beetle. “They are attacking younger trees, and attacking timber in altitudes they have never been before.”

Comments

  1. #1 Jeff Fecke
    June 16, 2006

    Yes, but Al Gore says global warming is real. And he used to have a beard and is craaaaaazy. The media says so.

  2. #2 Brian S.
    June 16, 2006

    Just sent out the email below:

    Dear Dr. Sharp,

    I understand that you’ve predicted that oceans will be cooling in upcoming years:

    “”The oceans are now heading into one of their periodic phases of cooling…. Modest changes in temperature are not about to wipe them [coral] out. Neither will increased carbon dioxide, which is a fundamental chemical building block that allows coral reefs to exist at all.” — Dr. Gary D. Sharp, Center for Climate/Ocean Resources Study, Salinas, Calif.”

    quoted in http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2006/06/the_gods_are_laughing_at_tom_h.php

    Given the ocean dominance of Earth’s surface and weather, I assume you expect global average temperatures will fall as well. I think that prediction is wrong, and I’m willing to bet money over it. I will give you 2:1 odds that global temperatures will increase instead of decrease in 2015 compared to 2005. I also have other bets available here:

    http://backseatdriving.blogspot.com/2005_05_01_backseatdriving_archive.html#111700433898143899

    If you consider yourself a global warming skeptic, I think this would be a great opportunity for you to back your predictions with your money. I’m willing to do the same.

    I hope to hear from you.

    Sincerely,
    Brian Schmidt

  3. #3 Dano
    June 16, 2006

    Let’s count how many basic scientific mistakes and omissions Harris makes…The CO2 percentage of greenhouse gases by volume is irrelevant. What is important is the contribution of CO2 to the greenhouse effect.

    In Tim’s “Embarrassment…” thread, I included this table that illustrates what Tim is talking about here. IOW, the Harris shill is full of it.

    Best,

    D

  4. #4 Laurence Jewett
    June 16, 2006

    Here’s one for those who dismiss the “precautionary principle” as little more than “alarmism”.

    “If the permafrost continues to thaw and releases heat-trapping carbon dioxide, it could dramatically increase the 730 billion metric tons already in the atmosphere, the scientists said in a study published in today’s issue of the journal Science.” — LA Times

    http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-carbon16jun16,0,5783637.story?coll=la-home-headlines

    In the end, it’s usually the thing that you did not count on that gives you the worst headache.

  5. #5 Meyrick Kirby
    June 16, 2006

    I notice Tim Blair’s sneaky use of quotes that are out of context.

    For instance this is a quote from Eric Steig:

    Never in the movie does he say: ‘This particular event is caused by global warming.’

    Tim Blair tries to suggest Al Gore is attempting to mislead. Of course if anyone goes and reads the original article they would know that it is impossible to attribute any particular event to global warming, but that does not mean global warming is not a problem:

    Also, any one event–like Hurricane Katrina–cannot be definitively linked to an overall global trend of more powerful storms, just as any specific car accident on a highway cannot be blamed on the raising of the speed limit, even if statistics show a higher speed limit makes accidents more likely to happen.

    A more extensive explanation is available at RealClimate.

  6. #6 Ian Forrester
    June 16, 2006

    What is even more scary about Tom Harris is that prior to joining APCO he served as media relations and science and technology advisor to the opposition senior environment critic in Canada’s House of Commons. Note that the opposition is now in power.

  7. #7 jre
    June 16, 2006

    Some of the paleo and historical carbon cycle basics are contained in Zimov et al’s article in today’s Science, and helpfully listed by David Appell in (yes!) Quark Soup:

    • amount of carbon in the Earth’s atmosphere at the last glacial maximum: 360 Gt (Gigatons)
    • during pre-industrial times: 560 Gt
    • today: 730 Gt
    • carbon in the ocean: 40,000 Gt, of which 2,500 Gt is organic carbon
    • in soils: 1,500 Gt
    • in vegetation: 650 Gt
    • amount of carbon transferred from geological reservoirs (fossil fuels) to the atmosphere: 6.5 Gt/yr.

    These numbers are in good correspondence with the ORNL chart you’ve linked to. For example, ORNL gives annual human emissions as 6.2 GtC in 1997. As you’ve correctly pointed out, this more than overcomes the earth’s natural uptake, resulting in a net increase of ~3.8 GtC yearly. The money quote comes at the bottom of ORNL’s chart:

    [I]t is expected that the fraction of this C remaining in the atmosphere will increase resulting in a doubling or tripling of the atmospheric amount in the coming century.

    Is it too much to expect Harris to learn this basic stuff before flinging poo at Al Gore? Evidently.

  8. #8 llewelly
    June 16, 2006

    “The feeling among many meteorologists is that it has to do with the North Atlantic oscillation, which is now in the positive phase and will continue for another decade or so.”

    Here, Murty appears to have confused the NAO with the AMO .

  9. #9 Ian Gould
    June 16, 2006

    “Our information is that seven of 13 populations of polar bears in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago (more than half the world’s estimated total) are either stable or increasing….. Of the three that appear to be declining, only one has been shown to be affected by climate change.”

    Thi little bit of rhetoric clevely eludes the point that notall of the populations of polar bears are of equal size – the populations that are declining have a combined estimated population 20% larger than those reported to be increasing.

    It also requires that one assumes the populations which are classified as “unknown” are, in fact, stable.

    Oh and let’s not forget that the polar bear is not limited to Canada – the United States Fish and Games Service is sufficiently distubed by the decline in polar bear numbers in Alaska to be considering listing the species as endangered.

  10. #10 Ian Gould
    June 16, 2006

    “Modest changes in temperature are not about to wipe them [coral] out. Neither will increased carbon dioxide, which is a fundamental chemical building block that allows coral reefs to exist at all.”

    Unfortunately most marine biologists disagree – carbon dioxide dissolves in water to produce carbonic acid. Increased CO2 levels make the oceans more acidic.

    Coral is Calcium carbonate which is formed more easily in reducing (alkali) conditions rather than acidic conditions.

    Carbon is not a limiting resource for coral growth – adding more won’t result in more coral any more than eating twice as much will make you grow to 10 feet tall.

  11. #11 Dan
    June 17, 2006

    Tim Blair’s ignorant snark gets seriously shown up every time he links to your blog – seems masochistic on his part. Even someone who knows nothing about global warming can see that his take on it involves snipping a few paragraphs from something and sneering at them without actually saying anything, whereas yours involves making specific criticisms backed up by linked sources. You’d think that would give pause even to the most rabid Blairite.

  12. #12 Babe in the Universe
    June 18, 2006

    Don’t doubt Al Gore! He created the internet. He was the inspiration for “Love Story”. He made a huge contribution to mathematics: Ever hear of AlGorithms?

  13. #13 Eli Rabett
    June 18, 2006

    The problem babe is that

    1. Eric Segal who wrote “Love Story” says that he modelled the hero on Al Gore and his roommate Tommy Jones See Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Love_Story

    “Erich Segal based the character of Oliver on both Vice President Al Gore and Gore’s Harvard roommate Tommy Lee Jones. When the Nashville Tennessean newspaper misquoted Segal as saying the author had based the story on Al and Tipper Gore’s relationship, Al Gore accurately noted in an interview with Time magazine reporters what the newspaper article had said. In a seven page article, Time insinuated that Gore had deliberately lied and a mini-controversy fanned by Gore’s political opponents ensued. Segal himself defended Gore and confirmed that, while Al and Tipper did not serve as the models for Oliver and Jenny, he did in fact base Oliver on both Gore and Jones. Segal admitted to being “befuddled” by the Time article. [1]”

    Second, since Gore said he took the initiative in the US Congress, introducing legislation which morphed ARPANET into the INTERNET we know today. And what do you know, the folk who wrote the protocols used by the INTERNET agree (Vincent Cerf and Robert Klein) http://tinyurl.com/create.php

    Actually, as amusing as the math is, I would redefine an AlGorithm as being a systematic procedure whereby the ignorant (you) try and belittle someone who has made major contributions (Al Gore).

  14. #14 Laser Potato
    June 18, 2006

    Every time someone uses a fake quote, God kills a monkey. Please, think of the monkeys.

  15. #15 Laser Potato
    June 18, 2006

    Er, that should be *faslely attributed* quote.

  16. #16 Ben
    June 19, 2006

    Well, then there’s this from the British Columbia Parks Ministry:

    As well, British Columbia has abundant amounts of mature lodgepole pine forests. These forests would normally be comprised of more tree variety and a more varied composition of tree ages. However, due to many decades of forest fire suppression, the stands are very uniform in age and species resulting in an expansive landscape of prime beetle habitat.

    This epidemic is not the first epidemic of mountain pine beetle in British Columbia. Its size is comparable to the epidemic of the early 1980s that occurred in the Cariboo-Chilcotin area. Epidemics also do not “destroy” the forests. True, large amounts of trees die as a result of beetles, but new growth rapidly appears below the dead stands. This is nature’s way of breaking up uniform stands into ones that are more varied in composition, structure and age – a more natural forest condition.

    Those points are important, and they point away from global warming as the defacto cause.

  17. #17 Ian Gould
    June 19, 2006

    Just because I can point to previous instances of houses catching fire due to lightning strike doesn’t mean I should ignore the guy running from the burning house carrying a can of petrol.

  18. #18 Tim Curtin
    June 19, 2006

    Eli and Ian:

    BTW, what happened to the pine beetle prompts me to ask what happened to the 100 ppm of the atmosphere displaced by CO2 since 1750?

  19. #19 Ian Gould
    June 19, 2006

    Well Tim,

    For one thing, most of the O2 in the C02 came from the atmosphere in the first place.

    For another, air pressure regularly fluctates by as much as 5-10 millibars (0.5-1%)so the additional C02 need not have “displaced” anything since a change of 100 ppm is a change of 0.01%.

  20. #20 Dano
    June 19, 2006

    what happened to the 100 ppm of the atmosphere displaced by CO2 since 1750

    Maybe Timmy has hit on why male humans’ sperm count is lower these days: there is, simply, less air around for the lil’ guys to breathe.

    I sense a Nobel awaits.

    Best,

    D

  21. #21 z
    June 19, 2006

    “BTW, what happened to the pine beetle prompts me to ask what happened to the 100 ppm of the atmosphere displaced by CO2 since 1750?”

    Excuse, me, I have to go change the fuse in my brain which popped when I read this.

  22. #22 Dano
    June 19, 2006

    z, that’s what the astroturf bots are trying to do with their spam. If you pop a fuse, the terrists have won.

    Best,

    D

  23. #23 Stephen Berg
    June 19, 2006

    Re: “BTW, what happened to the pine beetle prompts me to ask what happened to the 100 ppm of the atmosphere displaced by CO2 since 1750?”

    Who bloody cares, Tim? The answer doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things.

  24. #24 Brian S.
    June 20, 2006

    Just sent this email, too:

    Dear Mr. Harris,

    I understand that you’ve written several articles expressing skepticism over global warming, citing Bob Carter and Gary Sharp, both of whom seem to expect temperatures to vary randomly or to actually drop.

    I disagree with your skepticism, and I’m willing to put my money where my mouth is. Are you? I have proposed bets over global warming, here:

    http://backseatdriving.blogspot.com/2005_05_01_backseatdriving_archive.html#111700433898143899

    The simplest bet is 2:1 odds that I will give in your favor that temperatures will increase instead of decrease in 10 years, odds that are favorable to someone who expects temperatures to be random or to cool.

    If you just think the issue is unproven one way or another, then you should still find my bets attractive, UNLESS you give a strong possibility to global warming. Given your opposition to action against climate change, if you also refuse to bet me, then you would be applying the precautionary principle to protect your money, but not to protect other people’s lives. I encourage you to be consistent, and I hope to hear from you.

    Sincerely,
    Brian Schmidt

    ——
    No response so far on my previous email to Dr. Sharp, but no response is par for the course for most denialists.

  25. #25 Tim Curtin
    June 20, 2006

    Stephen Berg quotes me: “BTW, what happened to the pine beetle prompts me to ask what happened to the 100 ppm of the atmosphere displaced by CO2 since 1750?”

    Who bloody cares, Tim? The answer doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things.

    Posted by: Stephen Berg | June 19, 2006 04:19 PM

    Bingo, so 100 ppm CO2 don’t matter in the scheme of things!

    Hooray Henry. But you Stephen disappoint me, I would have expected that from the likes of z and dano, whoever they may be (probably sock puppets). Actually 100ppm CO2 amounts to 780 billion tonnes of CO2 (according to IPCC), so assuming rough parity with the ppm of whatever (mostly if not entirely water vapour) thereby displaced, we have 780 bn tonens of whatever to account for. The IPCC never shows any awareness but then its own zs and danos have no grasp that the universe is for practical purposes a closed system. “Matter can neither be created nor destroyed”. So what happened to the 780 bn tonnes of water vapour? South Africa’s own Kepler and Copernicus are combined in one Will Alexander (University of Pretoria) who has shown with a wealth of careful data assessment that both evaporation and precipitation have steadily increased there pari passu with CO2, with enormous benefits for the country’s agricultural and forestry yields. Will thinks the whole Kyoto mindset is garbage, just as Galileo secretly rejected that Lambert forerunner, the Inquisition.

  26. #26 Meyrick Kirby
    June 20, 2006

    Tim Curtin:

    Bingo, so 100 ppm CO2 don’t matter in the scheme of things!

    That’s not what Stephen Berg said!

    But this comment of yours is even worse:

    so assuming rough parity with the ppm of whatever (mostly if not entirely water vapour) thereby displaced, we have 780 bn tonens of whatever to account for

    Tim, have you not read the above comments? Read Eli Rabitt’s comment above. Your assumption of rough parity is wrong, the CO2 includes O2 that was up there is the first place. Furthermore the need for the water to have been “displaced” is wrong, simply the air pressure goes up.

  27. #27 Tim Curtin
    June 20, 2006

    Meyrick: That’s not what Stephen Berg said!

    WWat did Stephen say? I quoted him verbatim, “780 bn tonnes of CO2 are immaterial”. The CO2 does not include whatever was there before. But do go ahead and rewrite the IPCC reports. The air pressure may or may not go up, but what we are told by IPCC is that the atmospheric concentration of CO2 – repeat, the atmospheric concentration of CO2 – repeat, the atmospheric concentration of CO2 – has gone up by 100 ppm since 1750, which can ONLY mean that non-CO2 by ppm MUST have decreased by the same amount – repeat, non-CO2 by ppm MUST have decreased by the same amount. Like the other clowns in the IPCC you can redefine the terms of the debate, but if plain English and arithmetic mean anything (which clearly they do not on this Blog), you have to account for the 780 bn tonnes of non-CO2 that have gone missing.

  28. #28 Ian Gould
    June 20, 2006

    So, Tim, you believe that the total mass of the atmosphere is somehow held constant and that if one component increases another must be decreased?

    There’ a debating tactic where you express your admiration for the other party’s intelligence and surprise that they can possibly believe the position they’re advocating. Contrry to appearances, that’s not what I’m doing here. I relly am surprised and dispapointed that you make such an argument (assuming I haven’t misunderstood you.)

    So what do you think is “displaced” when the water vapor content fluctuates as a result of evaporation and precipitation?

    For that matter, we keep being told that the volume of gases emitted from volcanoes dwarf human emissions – so what do they displace?

    Finally, anyone who believes an increase of 110 PPM is so small as to necessarily be irrelevant is invited to supplement their diet with 100 PPM of any one of of those naturally occurring trace elements: lead, mercury, selenium or cadmium.

  29. #29 Meyrick Kirby
    June 20, 2006

    Tim Curtin:

    “780 bn tonnes of CO2 are immaterial”

    Those are not Stephen Berg’s exact words! Can’t you even use the cut-n-paste on a computer correctly?

    which can ONLY mean that non-CO2 by ppm MUST have decreased by the same amount

    WRONG!!!
    WRONG!!!
    WRONG!!!

    If I pump more gas into an air tank, does the gas already in the tank get displaced?

    Like the other clowns in the IPCC

    Since you’ve decended into name calling I guess that means you’ve lost this debate.

  30. #30 Tim Curtin
    June 20, 2006

    Meyrick and Ian

    We really have descended into what passes for science and math in England and Australia. If CO2 has increased by 100 ppm since 1750, then non-CO2 must have decreased by 100 ppm since 1750. The IPCC says that 1 ppm CO2 equals 7.8 billion tonnes CO2 in the global atmosphere, therefore it also equals c.7.8 billion tonnes non-CO2 in the global atmosphere.

    So for an increase of 100 ppm CO2 since 1750 we have 780 bn tonnes of CO2 increment in the global atmosphere since then and 780 billion tonnes of non-CO2 decrement since 1750. What happened to it?

    The ludicrous GCM models of the IPCC simply like the philistine walk by the other side of the road. If the GCM cannot/do not account for the missing 780 billion tonnes of non-CO2 they have to be worthless as indeed they are.

  31. #31 Stephen Berg
    June 20, 2006

    Re: “Stephen Berg quotes me: “BTW, what happened to the pine beetle prompts me to ask what happened to the 100 ppm of the atmosphere displaced by CO2 since 1750?”

    Who bloody cares, Tim? The answer doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things.

    Posted by: Stephen Berg | June 19, 2006 04:19 PM

    Bingo, so 100 ppm CO2 don’t matter in the scheme of things!”

    That is not what I said. What I said was who cares about what happened to the displaced 100 ppm of atmosphere, which was displaced by CO2.

    Your argument is so frivolous and meaningless. There is absolutely no point to it other than stalling for time while more fossil fuels are burned and more CO2 is released.

    You’re grasping for straws and your breed of “contrarians” is breathing its last breath of CO2-enriched air. This is apparent since for months you haven’t given a concrete and constructive contribution to the discussion on this forum.

  32. #32 Meyrick Kirby
    June 20, 2006

    Tim Curtin:

    since 1750 we have 780 bn tonnes of CO2 increment in the global atmosphere since then and 780 billion tonnes of non-CO2 decrement since 1750

    This is getting silly. One last attempt, then I’m giving up!

    Lets try a thought experiment. Imagine we have inside an airtight container some flammable liquid (ethanol for example) and an air mixture of nitrigen (80%) & oxygen (20%). An igniter is used to burn the ethanol (for arguments sake lets say it’s a pure burn so no carbon monoxide is produced). Before all the ethanol is burned off, the reaction stops, thereby leaving some ethanol and water at the bottom of the container. Why’s it stopped? The oxygen has run out.

    So Tim (Curtin), where has all the oxygen gone?

  33. #33 Joel Shore
    June 20, 2006

    Tim C.: Is there any argument too stupid for you to embrace? Let’s make things real simple and assume that in 1750 there were 1 million molecules in the atmosphere of which 280 of them are CO2. Now, we add 100 molecules of CO2 and the number in the atmosphere goes up to 380. The concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere is now 380/1000100, which is, for all intents-and-purposes basically 380ppm. Note, however, that the number of other molecules has not decreased although their concentrations in ppm are all now minutely smaller because of the extra 100ppm of CO2.

    Of course, in reality there could be some fluctuations in the number of molecules of other gases and we know for the fact that we have taken O2 out of the air when we have burned fossil fuels and produced CO2. However, this is basically irrelevant. The primary constituents of the atmosphere, like N2 and O2 are diatomic molecules, which do not absorb infrared radiation. Hence, CO2, although present in relatively small quantities, can make a large difference climatically.

  34. #34 Dano
    June 20, 2006

    The ludicrous GCM models of the IPCC simply like the philistine walk by the other side of the road. If the GCM cannot/do not account for the missing 780 billion tonnes of non-CO2 they have to be worthless as indeed they are.

    One must have some pity on the denialists if this sort of thing is the best they can do.

    I mean, after all, they are human too, and must weep when they realize how ill-equipped their offspring are and where the source of the ill-equippedness comes from.

    At the very least, the weepiness comes from knowing that dolts will be taking care of them in their dotage.

    Best,

    D

  35. #35 Meyrick Kirby
    June 20, 2006

    Joel Shore:

    we know for the fact that we have taken O2 out of the air when we have burned fossil fuels and produced CO2

    Actually it’s a one-to-one conversion of molecules (assuming the fossil fuel is pure carbon). For each molecule of CO2 released, one molecule of O2 is removed, although the air will get heavier (higher pressure?), but probably far too small to be noticed on a global scale (bet Tim C misinterprets this last bit)

  36. #36 Meyrick Kirby
    June 20, 2006

    Tim Curtin:

    If CO2 has increased by 100 ppm since 1750, then non-CO2 must have decreased by 100 ppm since 1750

    Correct!

    Assuming only carbon is burned and the burning is pure (i.e. no carbon monoxide is produced) then the above statement is correct (all other things being equal). The non-CO2 is oxygen, where 100 molecules (per million) of oxygen are removed from the atmosphere, then combined with carbon, and 100 molecules of carbon dioxide are released in to the atmosphere. Therefore the number of molecules in the atmosphere remains constant.

    The IPCC says that 1 ppm CO2 equals 7.8 billion tonnes CO2 in the global atmosphere, therefore it also equals c.7.8 billion tonnes non-CO2 in the global atmosphere.

    Wrong!

    The atomic mass of oxygen is 16 g/mol (approx.), therefore O2 will have a molar mass of 32 g/mol. CO2 has a molar mass of 44 g/mol, therefore 7.8 bn tonnes of CO2 requires 5.67 bn tonnes of oxygen (approx.). In other words 5.67 bn tonnes of O2 is removed from the atmosphere, and 7.8 bn tonnes of CO2 released into the atmosphere.

    (You can tell I’m enjoying this. It’s been years since I’ve done basic chemistry!)

  37. #37 Robert P.
    June 20, 2006

    As Kirby says, since the oxygen in the CO2 produced from burning fossil fuels comes from the atmosphere, the increase in CO2 concentration is accompanied by a decline in O2 concentrations. Moreover, this decline has actually been measured:

    “Seasonal and interannual variations in atmospheric oxygen and implications for the global carbon cycle”
    Ralph F. Keeling & Stephen R. Shertz, Nature 358,723-727 (27 Aug. 1992)

    (Ralph Keeling is the son of Charles Keeling, who is best known for setting up the Mauna Loa carbon dioxide measurements.)

    They found that the average concentration of atmospheric oxygen had declined by about 4 ppmv per year between 1989 and 1991.

  38. #38 Ian Gould
    June 20, 2006

    Tim,

    Take an airtight container an a ball of soem flammable material.

    Set fire to the flammable material drop it into the closed container and seal it.

    Assume there’s sufficient air in the container fro the material to burn completely.

    What happns to th concentration of CO2 and other combustion products in the air insdie the container. What is “displaced”?

    Did you actually read my question about evaporation and precipitation?

  39. #39 Ian Gould
    June 20, 2006

    Let’s try it again, I have a container with one litre of distilled water in it.

    I add 100 milligrams of sodium chloride to the container and stir.

    The water now contains approximately 100 PPM of sodium and chlorine ions by mass.

    I add another 150 milligrams of sodium chloride.

    What is the concentration of sodium and chlorine atoms now, Tim?

  40. #40 Meyrick Kirby
    June 21, 2006

    As a bit of fun, I thought to myself, if the mass of the Earth’s atmosphere is constant, I wonder what else may be constant?

    I know, the population of the world, so the 100,000 excess death in Iraq will have been offset by births elsewhere in the world. So Tim (Lambert), where’s your evidence that there have 100,000 excess births?

    What about freedom? There must be a constant level of freedom. So if there has been an increase in freedom in Iraq, it must be offset by more enslavement/despotism elsewhere in the world. So Tim (Curtin), and I guess you believe this is more freedom in Iraq, where’s your evidence of more despotism elsewhere?

  41. #41 Eli Rabett
    June 21, 2006

    Meyrick Kirby misses the obvious, intelligence must be constant. We know that over many decades intelligence is increasing. This is called the Flynn effect. On the other hand if it is increasing slowly for most people, there have to be some really dumb folks from whom it has been taken.

  42. #42 z
    June 21, 2006

    “z and dano, whoever they may be (probably sock puppets).”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychological_projection

  43. #43 z
    June 22, 2006

    “There’ a debating tactic where you express your admiration for the other party’s intelligence and surprise that they can possibly believe the position they’re advocating. Contrry to appearances, that’s not what I’m doing here. I relly am surprised and dispapointed that you make such an argument (assuming I haven’t misunderstood you.)”

    I’ll go with that.

    See, Mr. Curtin, you obviously seem to have a certain amount of wattage in your bulb; your command of the English language seems good, which is rare these days. You run a blog, which is something I have not attempted. Etc. But several of your comments in the realm of science make one’s jaw drop, and not from sudden insight. The only explanation which occurs to me is that you apparently are not facile with many of the basic concepts/language/shorthand used in what we call “science”, presumably from not having been exposed to what are, really, fairly simple concepts. As with any field (the Law, for instance), the initial entry barrier is just learning the language.

    With that in mind, I lurch into the Socratic method:
    You have a sugar bowl containing 9 spoonfuls of sugar. It is 100% pure sugar. Your prankish offspring mix a spoonful of salt in with the sugar. It is now 10% salt, and only 90% sugar.

    Where did the missing 10% of the sugar go?

  44. #44 Dano
    June 22, 2006

    z, you dolt! It went into the Philistine’s coffee!

    Best,

    D

  45. #45 Tim Curtin
    June 24, 2006

    Kirby said: The atomic mass of oxygen is 16 g/mol (approx.), therefore O2 will have a molar mass of 32 g/mol. CO2 has a molar mass of 44 g/mol, therefore 7.8 bn tonnes of CO2 requires 5.67 bn tonnes of oxygen (approx.). In other words 5.67 bn tonnes of O2 is removed from the atmosphere, and 7.8 bn tonnes of CO2 released into the atmosphere.
    Thanks Kirby, but your chemistry is not what it may once have been albeit more than Ian Gould’s (z and dano never had any at all),as you left out both the fuel used to produce the CO2 and the water created in the process of producing CO2 from combustion of fossil fuels.

    Taking a typical source of CO2, burning of propane in a barbecue, we have

    C3H8 + 5O2 = 3CO2 + 4H2O

    Thus the oxygen combines with the propane (molar mass 44.096 g/mol)to produce both CO2 and H2O (none of you mentioned the water). Now you tell us the net GHG effect of replacing earthly propane and atmospheric O2 with atmospheric CO2 and H2O in the ratios shown. Then tell us what the effect of the extra water vapour is, given that IPCC is often ambiguous about its role as a GHG, relative to the decline in O2. Ralph Keeling’s later work seems more cautious, but if he is right (per Robert P) about a decrease of 4 ppmv on O2 in 1989-1991, that does roughly match the 3.5 ppmv increase in CO2 at Mauna Loa between 1989 and 1991. Am I right that the extra H2O and the extra CO2 have a combined very beneficial effect (especially with the warming if any) on GLOBAL agricultural yields and output?

  46. #46 Ian Gould
    June 24, 2006

    Tell you what Tim C., when you’re finished insulting my graps of chemistry and avoiding my questiosn about why you apparently think the mass of the atmosphere must be held constant,why don’t you calculate the relative percentage changes in CO2, H2O and O2 levels?

  47. #47 Tim Curtin
    June 24, 2006

    Ian Gould: what do you understand by “parts per million”? Lesser earthlings like me think it means that more parts per million of x mean less parts per million of y or whatever. And in answer to yuo question, I have, but await your version.

  48. #48 Tim Curtin
    June 24, 2006

    Ian Gould: what do you understand by “parts per million”? Lesser earthlings like me think it means that more parts per million of x mean less parts per million of y or whatever. And in answer to yuo question, I have, but await your version.

  49. #49 Eli Rabett
    June 24, 2006

    TimC, well, depending on the context it could be ppm by mass, or by volume. Since the atmosphere is a gas, ppmV makes a lot more sense, at least if Avogadro was right.

    Stop pretending you know where the Buy-A-Clue store is.

  50. #50 Meyrick Kirby
    June 24, 2006

    Tim Curtin:

    Thanks Kirby, but your chemistry is not what it may once have been albeit more than Ian Gould’s (z and dano never had any at all),as you left out both the fuel used to produce the CO2 and the water created in the process of producing CO2 from combustion of fossil fuels

    Tim C,

    Firstly, you’re own performance on science matters has so far been poor, so don’t criticise mine, since it comes out as pretty hypocritical.

    Secondly, I didn’t leave out the fuel … that’s where the carbon comes from!

    Thirdly, if you had read my previous comment carefully you would have noticed I made the assumption of the fuel source being pure carbon, ergo no water is produced.

    Fourthly, this is your previous comment:

    If CO2 has increased by 100 ppm since 1750, then non-CO2 must have decreased by 100 ppm since 1750. The IPCC says that 1 ppm CO2 equals 7.8 billion tonnes CO2 in the global atmosphere, therefore it also equals c.7.8 billion tonnes non-CO2 in the global atmosphere.

    It appears to contain 2 claims:

    1 – The number of molecules put into the atmosphere must have a corresponding & equal removal of molecules from the atmosphere
    2 – The weight of gases put into the atmosphere must have a corresponding & equal weight of gases removed from the atmosphere

    When I assumed a pure carbon source I was making an assumption in your favour. More precisely under this assumption your first claim is correct. In your attempt to show off what chemistry you’ve learned over the last few days, you’ve now presented an instance that contradicts your first claim. Burning propane will remove 5 molecules of O2 and release 7 molecules (3CO2 & 5H2O).

    Fifthly, water vapour, if I remember correctly, does not stay up in the air for long and is considered to be a multiplier/magnifier to the effects of CO2 & other GHGs. The actual net effect is unknown since clouds can keep in heat but also keep it out. The IPCC has been quite clear that the net effect of water vapour is one of the biggest unknowns. However we are now getting rather off topic.

    Lastly, for your own good I think it’s best if you quit right now before you dig any further into this hole you’ve dug for yourself. I rather imagine Dano, Z, Ian, & Joel are having a bit of a chuckle as they read this, but I’m getting to the point where I’m having difficulty breathing.

  51. #51 Meyrick Kirby
    June 24, 2006

    Oops, that should be 4 molecules of H2O, not 5!

  52. #52 Tim Curtin
    June 24, 2006

    Kirby: “The actual net effect is unknown since clouds can keep in heat but also keep it out. The IPCC has been quite clear that the net effect of water vapour is one of the biggest unknowns. However we are now getting rather off topic.”

    I don’t think so, the net effect of water vapour is The Topic, even though evidently the IPCC and you know a lot about the CO2 that is 0.038% of the atmosphere, but nothing at all about the H2O that is c.95% of total GHG. Thus the IPCC FAR 1990 states in successive sentences (p.xv) that “water vapour has the largest greenhouse effect…but is not affected by human sources and sinks. Water vapour will increase in response to global warming and further enhance it…” So it appears both that fossil fuel emissions do not include H2O but that the warming resulting from the emissions does a posteriori produce H2O (in a manner yet to be explained by the IPCC). Se we have the IPCC’s New Science whereby burning hydrcocarbons has no primary effect on the agreed largest GHG. Meantime I await your own scientific assesment of the relative impact of the water vapour that is pace IPCC produced by our wicked burning of hydrocarbons.

  53. #53 Ian Gould
    June 24, 2006

    Timc; ‘…the warming resulting from the emissions does a posteriori produce H2O (in a manner yet to be explained by the IPCC…”

    Maybe the IPCC thought it’s readership didn;t need the idea of evaporation increasing with temperature expaliend to them.

    Returning to your astonishing and continuing obtuseness.

    Scenario A

    I have a pile of one million items. That item contaisn 100 copies of Item A. The concentration of Item A is 100 PPM.

    I remove 100 items that are not Item A and replace them with 100 copies of Item A. The concentration of Item A is now 200 PPM.

    Scenario B: I add another 100 copies of Item A to the pile. I don’t remove anything from the pile. The concentration of Item A is now approximately 200 PPM (it’s actually 199.96 PPM if someone wants to get pedantic.)

    Now feel free to let me know what part of this eludes you.

  54. #54 Tim Curtin
    June 25, 2006

    Ian Gould: either way the increment of CO2 is trivial, but for those who think 100 ppmv is a lot of CO2, then the loss of the oxygen that was used to generate it and the extra H2O that was also generated must both be significant and worthy of analysis. But on balance it seems that you and I are agreed that the change in CO2 is immaterial. Anyone for tennis before Sydney sinks beneath waves?

  55. #55 Meyrick Kirby
    June 25, 2006

    Tim Curtin,

    IPCC does not claim that the burning of hydrocarbons does not create water vapour, rather the water vapour released is tiny compared to the water vapour already up there, and more importantly it will only be up there for a short while, then it’ll rain! (The percentage loss in oxygen is also tiny)

    The CO2 on the other hand will stay up there for a long time, and it represents a significant increase in the amount of CO2. (From 380ppm to 280ppm is about a 36% increase)

    And you’ve still failed to admit your initial mistake in assuming the number of molecules (or weight) of atmospheric gases is constant.

  56. #56 Ian Gould
    June 25, 2006

    “And you’ve still failed to admit your initial mistake in assuming the number of molecules (or weight) of atmospheric gases is constant.”

    It almost makes one wonder what else Tim might be reluctant to admit.

  57. #57 Tim Curtin
    June 25, 2006

    Kirby: a 30% increase in not very much is not very much. But I am glad to see that actually according to you we have a 36% decrease in CO2. Well done. Ian Gould is equally idiotic.

  58. #58 Ian Gould
    June 25, 2006

    So, Tim, while your giving us the benefit of your …unique…understand of the physical sciences you could inform us how many pppm of ozone there are in the atmosphere.

    I guess its influence on terrestrial life must be even more trivial than that of CO2.

  59. #59 Meyrick Kirby
    June 25, 2006

    Tim (C), Why is 30% a small increase?

    Yes, I made a typo (see I can admit to mistakes). In my head I was thinking 380/280-1. The previous comment should read 280ppm to 380ppm, a 36% increase.

    Well I guess none of us should waste any time expecting you to admit your (and more serious) mistake, which you compounded several times.

    Ian Gould is equally idiotic.

    And it’s nice to see you’re back to your usual pathetic insults.

  60. #60 Ian Gould
    June 25, 2006

    So the man who wrote: “If CO2 has increased by 100 ppm since 1750, then non-CO2 must have decreased by 100 ppm since 1750.” thinks I’m idiotic.

    There’s an expression that seems appropriate here: “Consider the source.”

  61. #61 Chris O'Neill
    June 25, 2006

    Tim Curtin asked:

    “what happened to the pine beetle prompts me to ask what happened to the 100 ppm of the atmosphere displaced by CO2 since 1750?”

    To which Ian Gould replied:

    “For one thing, most of the O2 in the C02 came from the atmosphere in the first place.”

    In fact burning fossil fuel has actually reduced the total number of gas molecules in the atmosphere because burning hydrocarbon fossil fuels consumes more oxygen molecules than the number of carbon dioxide molecules released back into the atmosphere. This is because some oxygen molecules end up as water which, as long as the atmosphere doesn’t warm up, end up falling as rain. The oxygen molecules that go into burning the carbon atoms each end up in one carbon dioxide molecule. The end result is burning high-carbon fuels, like coal, causes little change in the total number of molecules in the atmosphere while fuels with hydrocarbon content cause a net reduction in the atmosphere’s total number of molecules (once the water has rained out).

    Tim Curtin’s question reminds me of a Vet I once knew who thought that when things burnt they just “burnt” by themselves and she didn’t realize or know that burning fuel required oxygen for the combustion process. I was amazed that someone educated in a scientifically-based discipline could be so ignorant of basic scientific facts. I think this is a big part of the issue with global warming, the vast majority of people are ignorant of the basic scientific facts involved and a few of them, like Tim Curtin, spend large amounts of time arguing in ways that no-one who is aware of the basic scientific facts would do.

    BTW, Tim, I’m listed under M O’Neill in Clayton, Melbourne in the phone book.

  62. #62 Eli Rabett
    June 25, 2006

    Tim Curtin, the Gift that keeps on polluting the discussion. A change of 100ppm in CO2 from preindustrial is ~ 100/280. A change of 100 ppm in O2 from preindustrial is 100/210000. Note the rather larger denominator in the later case. Most of us did not sleep through fourth grade Tim.

  63. #63 Chris O'Neill
    June 25, 2006

    “The IPCC says that 1 ppm CO2 equals 7.8 billion tonnes CO2 in the global atmosphere”

    and according to Tim Curtin:

    “therefore it also equals c.7.8 billion tonnes non-CO2 in the global atmosphere.”

    Obviously chemistry wasn’t Tim’s strongest subject at school.

    Tim, for the time being, you’ll just have to take it on faith that a molecule of CO2 does not weigh the same as a molecule of O2, or a molecule of N2, or just about any other molecule in the atmosphere.

    If you’re thinking of taking up chemistry, Tim, stick to your day job.

  64. #64 Geoff
    June 25, 2006

    One of those 60 scientists who signed the petition was tricked into signing. It is not suprising Harris didn’t mention that.

    http://www.desmogblog.com/signatory-bails-on-anti-climate-science-petition

  65. #65 hank
    June 28, 2006

    What is Mr. Curtin’s day job?

    I hope it doesn’t involve counting, or ratios.

    This thread is truly scary.

  66. #66 geoff c
    July 5, 2006

    I, too, took issue with the Tim Harris article and started a page for all the half-truths (even that is a bit generous) that the skeptics are coming up with. The page I have so far responds to claims of the Tim Harris article:

    http://members.shaw.ca/climatechange/gods-laughing.html

    Please check it out if you’ve got a moment!
    -Geoff

  67. #67 RA StClair
    July 27, 2006

    Hi:

    Your rising sea level link leads to the below:

    “Sea-level rise estimates from satellite altimetry are 3.1 +/- 0.4 mm/yr for 1993-2003 (Leuliette et al. (2004)). This exceeds those from tide gauges. It is unclear whether this represents an increase over the last decades; variability; true differences between satellites and tide gauges; or problems with satellite calibration.[26]” Seems inconclusive…

    You take exception to non-climatologists taking exception to climate science studies, but I think that they’re entitled to comment on what they perceive a shoddy modelling and statisical analysis as many of these methodologies are shared by differing fields, eg. climate science, economics and biology. I’ve noticed that Phd’s in these fields have widely varying understandings of these difficult mathematical techniques.

    Isn’t the comment that “Climate change is real” trivial? Somewhat like saying that a bachelor is unmarried. It seems to me that a climate that doesn’t change, isn’t.

    - RA StClair

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