Tim Curtin thread

By request here is a new thread for folks to argue with Tim Curtin. Tim, this is the only thread you are allowed to post on.

Comments

  1. #1 DavidK
    March 18, 2009

    That’s great Tim!

    However, much thanks must go to Jeff, Bernard et al for debunking TC’s pseudo-science … many on-lookers are learning a lot. Their patience is nothing but astounding!

    Tim Curtin, thanks must go to you too … without you we wouldn’t know how ‘off-the-planet’ you are :-)

  2. #2 Chris O'Neill
    March 18, 2009

    Chris: just show us your numbers using the actuals for increase in atmospheric CO2 concentration (100 ppm) and increase in global mean temperature (0.7 oC, at most, given zero tropical Africa records in 1900) for the period 1900-2000, using your text “Doubling the input causes the same increase in output for any original input, i.e. increasing the input from 2 units to 4 units causes the same increase in output as increasing the input from 1 unit to 2 units. Increasing the input from 4 units to 8 units causes the same increase in output again etc.”

    According to the great Curtin:

    “Doubling the input”

    from 280 ppm

    means increasing by 100 ppm or thereabouts.

  3. #3 Tim Curtin
    March 19, 2009

    Thank you Tim Lambert, that is very kind and helpful.

    Both to get started and maintain continuity, here is Tim Lambert’s original comment on my Quadrant paper which he said “contains such gems as the claim that Arrhenius borrowed his formulation of the enhanced greenhouse effect from Malthus (he didn’t), that the water vapour from burning fossil fuels is a more important greenhouse gas that CO2 (ignoring the fact that the CO2 stays in the atmosphere 10,000 times as long) and attributing all of the increase in food production in the last thirty years to the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere (I swear that I am not making this up).”

    I think it is fair to say that early on I established there is no proof that Arrhenius did not know of Malthus’ most famous claim that while population grows “geometrically”, food production grows only “arithmetically” when he said that atmospheric carbon dioxide “increases in geometric progression, augmentation of the temperature will increase in nearly arithmetic progression” (1896). Certainly we do know that Darwin was hugely influenced by the Malthus claim, and that Arrhenius was a keen Darwinian. I don’t claim proof, only strong circumstantial evidence.

    As for the relative radiative forcing of water vapour versus CO2, there is no proof that any let alone all CO2 molcules remain airborne for 10,000 times as long as any given H2O molecule, as the former like the latter are in constant flux if with slower turnover between sky and surface. Forcing at any given time depends on the relative volumes of each within the atmosphere, and the IPCC’s Houghton shows how water vapour more than doubles the CO2 effect, and Bigg (The Oceans & Climate, CUP 2003) likewise attributes 55-70% of the total greenhouse effect to water vapour, and just 25% to CO2.

    Then I did not as claimed “attribute all of the increase in food production in the last 30 years to the increase of CO2”, but cited the Garnaut Report’s study by Crimp and my own work showing the “dominant role” of increasing atmospheric CO2. For example, Crimp et al show that at Moree (NSW) by 2030 with BAU emissions of CO2, wheat yield will have increased by 20.6%. My co-author’s data for wheat yields at Moree from 1959 to 1999 when correlated with rain there, CO2, and both N and P fertilizer inputs, shows strongly significant results for the rain and CO2 and coefficients, and not significant for either of the fertilizer inputs; the CO2 coefficient has the largest impact. The Durbin-Watson discloses no auto-correlations. The CO2 input we used is the global Terrestrial Absorption reported by the Global Carbon Project (Raupach & co).

    I will comment later on last night’s posts by Jeff & co.

  4. #4 Tim Curtin
    March 19, 2009

    Chris (#2) I will leave it to Arrhenius (1896, p.265) to answer your nonsense:

    [in Table VII] …” I have calculated the mean alteration of temperature that would follow if the quantity of carbonic acid (i.e. [CO2]) varied from its present mean value (K=1) to another, viz. to K = 0.67, 1.5, 2, 2.5, and 3 respectively”. If K in 1896 was 270 ppm then K*1.5 = 405, which we are nearly at (386). For K*1.5, Arrhenius gave a global temperature rise of 3.15 oC to 3.7 oC depending on latitude. We have had only 0.7 oC since 1896 for K*1.43. For K*2, or for 540 ppm, Arrhenius gave a total rise of 4.95 to 6.05 oC, that is increases of only about 2 oC for the extra 50% increase in CO2 from K=1.5 to K=2 (hence his “nearly arithmetic” increase, or logarithmic, which is what Chris has been trying to explain to us without much success). Arrhenius clearly did not deal only in doublings as Chris would have us believe.

  5. #5 Jeff Harvey
    March 19, 2009

    To all: note again how Tim makes an astonishingly ridiculous argument (re: the conversion of tropical forests to oil palm plantations as a means of creating a carbon sink, irrespective of the devastation it will do to 80% or more of the world’s biodiversity), has the argument destroyed, then, without any kind of riposte, moves back to his already discredited Malthus-critique/C02 fertilizer corner.

    He’s done this on a variety of other topics, as the readers of the previous TC thread know all-too-well.

    I have already shown how we canbnot exclude an array of trophic interactions as well as abiotic processes in calculating the net effects of increased atmospheric C02 on plant productivity; because Tim either (a) does not uinderstand the meaning of trophic complexity, or (b) thinks plant growth is somehow independent of other constraints, he dismisses it. Readers can decide for themselves how his immaculate calaculations relate to the real world.

  6. #6 Alan
    March 19, 2009

    “there is no proof that any let alone all CO2 molcules remain airborne for 10,000 times as long as any given H2O molecule, as the former like the latter are in constant flux if with slower turnover between sky and surface”

    Does the rarity of carbon dioxide raining out of the sky as dry ice snow make you wonder whether, perhaps, carbon dioxide might stay up there longer than water?

    Please help me understand your phrase “slower turnover”? Could it possibly mean something like “stays up there longer”?

  7. #7 Bernard J.
    March 19, 2009

    If K in 1896 was 270 ppm then K1.5 = 405, which we are nearly at (386). For K1.5, Arrhenius gave a global temperature rise of 3.15 oC to 3.7 oC depending on latitude. We have had only 0.7 oC since 1896 for K1.43.

    Aside from the many responses that have been previously offered to you with respect to this aspect of your science, you are making two mistakes in your claim.

    Firstly, you have provided no evidence that the current anomaly is in equilibrium with respect to the contemporaneous 385ppm concentration of CO2.

    Secondly, the “only 0.7 oC since 1896 for K1.43″ has not always been “0.7 oC since 1896 for K1.43″ (on average, the anomaly has been decidely less), and therefore, in conjunction with the inertia implicit in point 1, your comparison is spurious.

    And even if it weren’t, given the embryonic nature of Arrhenius’ work in the 19th century, your disparagement of his calculations is churlish and ideological. I’d like to see you do better given the information that he had at hand.

    Speaking of doing better, I hope that your forthcoming publication includes your own calculations of the decline of CO2 after the posited peak emissions, that you so criticised with regard to Solomon et al. As you claim that your chemistry is coming along swimmingly, it should be a fait accompli.

  8. #8 Tim Curtin
    March 19, 2009

    Alan: No. All that matters is the relative proportion of CO2 and H2O in the atmosphere at any given moment of time. There is not much CO2 up there (only 385 ppm) but much more H2O, and while the latter fluxes (exchanges) more than the former, all that matters at any moment (for IR) is the absolute levels of each (unless the whole of the IPCC is garbage, which cannot be excluded!). Your “Stays up longer” betrays I fear ignorance of inventory analysis, some shoes from a shoe shop don’t move, others do. If my aunt’s shoes stock does not move, (it never did!), how does that affect global warming?

  9. #9 Bernard J.
    March 19, 2009

    All that matters is the relative proportion of CO2 and H2O in the atmosphere at any given moment of time.

    By “the relative proportion of CO2 and H2O” do you mean the ratio of CO2 to H2O? And what of the other trace greenhouse gases?

    If my aunt’s shoes stock does not move, (it never did!), how does that affect global warming?

    It surely affects global warming if new shoes are added to her stock, and that by doing so the overall weight of shoes on the shelves increases.

    How are the biodiversity and carbon inventory analyses for [Indonesian rainforests versus palm plantations](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2009/01/windschuttle_hoaxed.php#comment-1480153) going? And from the same link, have you decided yet what your reason was for publishing in Quandrant, as opposed to the ‘other journal’.

  10. #10 Barton Paul Levenson
    March 19, 2009

    Tim Curtin posts:

    there is no proof that any let alone all CO2 molcules remain airborne for 10,000 times as long as any given H2O molecule, as the former like the latter are in constant flux if with slower turnover between sky and surface.

    An average molecule of water vapor remains in the atmosphere nine (9) days. An average molecule of carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere five (5) years. The details of interchange between atmospheric and oceanic CO2 is such that a pulse of carbon dioxide remains in the atmosphere, on average, two hundred (200) years. Consider that the cycle of evaporation, condensation, and precipitation they teach us in 5th grade science class works on a time scale of days while the carbonate-silicate cycle works on a time scale of millions of years, and it’s amazing that CO2 cycles as fast as it does.

  11. #11 sod
    March 19, 2009

    Then I did not as claimed “attribute all of the increase in food production in the last 30 years to the increase of CO2”, but cited the Garnaut Report’s study by Crimp and my own work showing the “dominant role” of increasing atmospheric CO2.

    Tim Curtin has the cunning ability to hide his complete ignorance about basically all scientific subjects behind a pseudo-scientific language and moved goalposts.

    that is ok, as sometimes it is fun to read his nonsense, waiting for the next completely moronic claim.

    but it is also a great waste of time. so here i offer you the one link proof, that this claim by Curtin (CO2 is the major driving force in food production) is FALSE.

    for a moment, let us assume that Curtin is right: my own work showing the “dominant role” of increasing atmospheric CO2 (on food production).

    we would seriously expect to find this to be the leading news among the [companies, that sell CO2 to greenhouses.](http://www.homeharvest.com/carbondioxideenrichment.htm)

    but instead those advertisement announce only a MINOR improvement of food production under Ma MASSIVE increase in CO2 concentration. (and only on certain plants, of course)

    Tim Curtin had it wrong. again.

  12. #12 Tim Curtin
    March 19, 2009

    sod: you have to do better than that. For C3 plants v C4 for starters.

  13. #13 sod
    March 19, 2009

    sod: you have to do better than that. For C3 plants v C4 for starters.

    see, Tim Curtin assumes that those selling CO2 to greenhouses use plants, that don t profit a lot, in their advertisements.

    according to Curtin, Tim Curtin is the only person with a working brain.

  14. #14 sod
    March 19, 2009

    this is from the very first links, when googling (C3 plants, CO2, climate or something similar)

    Increased concentrations of CO2 may boost crop productivity. Inprinciple, higher levels of CO2 should stimulate photosynthesis in certain plants; a doubling of CO2 may increase photosynthesis rates by as much as30-100%. Laboratory experiments confirm that when plants absorb more carbon they grow bigger and more quickly. This is particularly true for C3 plants (so called because the product of their first biochemical reactions during photosynthesis has three carbon atoms). Increased carbon dioxide tends to suppress photo-respiration in these plants, making them more water-efficient. C3 plants include such major mid-latitude food staples as wheat, rice, and soybean. The response of C4 plants, on the other hand, would not be as dramatic (although at current CO2 levels these plants photosynthesize more efficiently than do C3 plants). C4 plants include such low-latitude crops as maize, sorghum, sugar-cane, and millet, plus many pasture and forage grasses.

    a good example of a C3 pant?

    Tomato (C3-plants) and maize (C4-plants)

    the main example in the CO2 for greenhouses advertisement that i posted above?

    TOMATOES Work in experimental stations has shown that crop increases of as much as 29% have been obtained by increasing the CO2 concentration. More desirable firmness and more uniform ripening are also observed.

    29%? when we increase the CO2 concentration to far beyond what we hopefully will ever see in our atmosphere?

    wow.

    and Tim Curtin believes, that (less than) 29% was the single biggest factor in yield increase over the last century!

    but to quote Tim Curtin again:

    sod: you have to do better than that. For C3 plants v C4 for starters.

  15. #15 Jeff Harvey
    March 19, 2009

    Yesterday Tim argued that oil palm forests were efficient carbon sinks (he appeared to suggest that developing countries in the south should be allowed to fell their great tropical forests for conversion to oil palm plantations. Here’s evidence that his argument has more hot air than ever.

    From Woods Hole Research Center:

    “The potential for palm oil plantations in the Brazilian Amazon is vast: the Woods Hole Research Center estimates that 2.283 million square kilometers (881,000 sq miles) of forest land in the region is suitable for oil palm, an area far greater in extent than that which could be converted for soy (390,000 sq km) or sugar cane (1.988 million sq km). *Woods Hole calculates this area of forest locks up some 42.5 billion tons (gigatons) of carbon in above-ground biomass, or roughly six times 2006 global emissions. Converting this area for palm would release nearly 60 percent of this carbon (oil palm plantations in SE Asia store about 75 tons of carbon per hectare)*.

    Oil palm plantations *support significantly lower levels of biodiversity than even logged rainforests. Research by Lian Pin Koh and David Wilcove found a 77 percent decline in forest bird species and an 83 percent loss of butterfly species upon the conversion of old-growth forest to oil palm plantations*. By comparison, secondary forest 30 years after logging retained roughly 80 percent of the original forest species. *Oil palm plantations also store considerably less carbon than primary forests*”.

  16. #16 Eli Rabett
    March 19, 2009

    Since Tim Lambert is intent on starting a new internet tradition, the Tim Curtin Pinata Party, Eli proposes renaming Deltoid, the “Tims”.

  17. #17 jre
    March 19, 2009

    Aren’t we taking our collective eye off the ball here?
    We’re supposed to be helping Tim Curtin write a letter to Nature explaining how Domingues et al. is “riddled with statistical gaffes.”

    It’s been over six months, Tim. Any progress to report?

  18. #18 Lee
    March 19, 2009

    sod:
    “29%? when we increase the CO2 concentration to far beyond what we hopefully will ever see in our atmosphere?

    wow. ”

    Also, let us not forget that greenhouse crops are maintained under highly managed temperatures, optimum water and humidity, and intensive fertilizer management. Those 29% yield gains – at the upper limit, for one crop – are achieved under conditions where every other possible limiting factor is minimized to the greatest possible extent, and the ONLY limiting factor in play is [CO2].

  19. #19 John Mashey
    March 19, 2009

    re: #18 Lee

    Correct, this is an instance of the general form of Liebig’s Law of the Minimum, which:

    a) is 180 years old.
    b) farmkids learn by the time they’re 10 (I certainly did), although not necessarily under the formal name.

    c) But somehow escapes all these people who think that CO2 will drastically ramp up production in general conditions, most of whom I’d suspect have not grown food for their living.

    No amount of extra CO2 will grow corn in the Sahara, no matter what the Western Fuels Society would have you think: see Naomi Oreskes’ You CAN argue with the facts. In particular, the video-within-video showing the whole world greening up would be funny in other circumstances.

  20. #20 sod
    March 19, 2009

    Also, let us not forget that greenhouse crops are maintained under highly managed temperatures, optimum water and humidity, and intensive fertilizer management. Those 29% yield gains – at the upper limit, for one crop – are achieved under conditions where every other possible limiting factor is minimized to the greatest possible extent, and the ONLY limiting factor in play is [CO2].

    greenhouses are a very funny thing to look at anyway. according to Tim Curtin, they don t significantly increase yield. (only by a fraction of those 30% that CO2 does)

    so all those greenhouse owners who harvest twice per year (many of them without adding CO2..), don t really exist in the Tim Curtin world.

    a modern farmer, using genetic engineering, and satellite guided fertilizer/pesticide distribution and soil working (ignoring all the problems caused by this) is basically still producing the same yield, as he did 100 years ago, while ploughing with an oxen. if it wasn t for the CO2 increase, that is…

  21. #21 Tim Curtin
    March 19, 2009

    Sod. Thanks for the link to that advert, from whcih “SAMPLE RESULTS FROM CO2 ENRICHMENT STUDIES

    BIBB LETTUCE
    By adding CO2 to the atmosphere around the plant, a 40% crop increase was achieved. Whereas previous crops averaged 22 heads per basket, lettuce grown in the increased CO2 atmosphere (550 ppm) averaged 16 heads of better quality per basket.

    CARNATIONS
    CO2 levels to 550 ppm produced an obvious increase in yield (over 30%), but the greatest benefits were earlier flowering (up to 2 weeks) with an increased percentage of dry matter.

    ROSES
    The addition of controlled carbon dioxide provided a remarkable improvement in blossom quality, number and yield. Plants consistently produced many more flowers with 24 to 30 inch stems. Average yield was increased by 39.7%.

    TOMATOES
    Work in experimental stations has shown that crop increases of as much as 29% have been obtained by increasing the CO2 concentration. More desirable firmness and more uniform ripening are also observed.”

    Next question?

  22. #22 Marion Delgado
    March 19, 2009

    mbwahahaha

  23. #23 DavidK
    March 19, 2009

    It would be sad if it wasn’t so funny.

    Er … it would be funny if it wasn’t so sad.

    Hahaha mbwahahaha

  24. #24 Tim Curtin
    March 19, 2009

    Bernard: you said I had “provided no evidence that the current anomaly is in equilibrium with respect to the contemporaneous 385ppm concentration of CO2.” My reference is to the actual GISS temperatures for 1900 (13.95 oC) and 2008 (14.55 oC), for an increase of 0.61 oC (it was over 0.7 oC in 2007, last year was cooler). The anomalies in 1900 and 2008 were –5 and 55 respectively, again for 0.61 oC, to get the actuals divide the anomalies by 100 and add 14). I have no idea what you mean by “equilibrium” here, the climate is never in equilbrium.

    Secondly, my comparison is not spurious, and follows Arrhenius’ method precisely. Have you read his article, it is indeed brilliant, despite the clearly unfulfilled predictions, and of course he thought that even a rise in T of 6 oC for doubling [CO2] from c. 270 ppm would be beneficial. Notice his comment that “in Tertiary times there existed a vegetation and an animal life in the temperate and arctic zones that must have been conditioned by a much higher temperature than the present in the same regions…by about 8 or 9 degrees. To this *genial time the ice age succeeded…” (my italics).

    Thirdly, re “calculations of the decline of CO2 after the posited peak emissions, that you so criticised with regard to Solomon et al.”, you have got that wrong. I criticised Solomon et al. for their gross exaggeration of the growth of [CO2] from now to 2100, at more than three times faster than the actual growth rate from 1958 to 2008. But since you raise it, the apparent declines from peaks after cessation of all emissions in their Fig.1 make equally unwarranted assumptions about oceanic and terrestrial absorption. Just try and balance their carbon budget using their growth rates without getting the preposterous result of negative absorption for the next 20 years. But I have decided not to pursue Solly et pals because I love their conclusion that since disastrous climate change is inevitable and irreversible for the several millennia whatever we do, there is no need to embark on ruinous mitigation of emissions.

  25. #25 Chris O'Neill
    March 19, 2009

    The great Curtin:

    hence his “nearly arithmetic” increase, or logarithmic, which is what Chris has been trying to explain to us

    i.e. to the great Curtin

    without much success

    The great Curtin is indeed right again. No-one has much success in explaining anything to the great Curtin.

  26. #26 Gaz
    March 19, 2009

    Having proven global warming is a vastly exaggerated beat-up with his blistering critique of Arrhenius, Tim will now move on to tackle another misguided old-timer and prove that helicopters can’t really fly.

    http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Leonardo_helicopter.JPG

  27. #27 Bernard J.
    March 20, 2009

    I have no idea what you mean by “equilibrium” here, the climate is never in equilbrium [sic].

    Trite herrings red will not serve you here. “Climate” itself doesn’t ever need to be “in equilibrium” for the forcing resulting from an increased concentration of atmospheric CO2 to (eventually) reach “an equilibrium”.

    Good effort at making yourself look a goose, though.

    As to my question:

    I hope that your forthcoming publication includes your own calculations of the decline of CO2 after the posited peak emissions, that you so criticised with regard to Solomon et al…

    I don’t “have… that wrong”. I know very well for what it was that you criticised Solomon et al, and even though I placed my comma after “emissions” rather than after “CO2“, I suspect that you knew the thrust of my intended meaning – the ordering of “emissions” after “CO2“, and the ongoing discussion of your views on the paper, should have served to inform you no matter where the errant comma was placed.

    You just seem to be scrambling for any excuse to point out ‘mistakes’ in others, whilst assiduously avoiding addressing the many glaring errors that you yourself have made.

    I note too that you address only the low-hanging fruit, and that you skirt around most of the other significant questions put to you. So, once more…

    By “the relative proportion of CO2 and H2O” do you mean the ratio of CO2 to H2O? And what of the other trace greenhouse gases? How are the biodiversity and carbon inventory analyses for Indonesian rainforests versus palm plantations going? And from the same link, have you decided yet what your reason was for publishing in Quandrant, as opposed to the ‘other journal’.

  28. #28 Bernard J.
    March 20, 2009

    Responding to #21:

    Next question?

    Do you understand the limitations of reductionism?

    And for the benefit of innocent bystanders who might not be aware of [your confusion over your reasons for changing journals](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2009/01/windschuttle_hoaxed.php#comment-1480153) – linked.

  29. #29 sod
    March 20, 2009

    Sod. Thanks for the link to that advert, from whcih “SAMPLE RESULTS FROM CO2 ENRICHMENT STUDIES

    i expected a stupid reply, but this is much worse than what i could think up…

    30% at 550ppm (OR MORE): what does that leave for our current level of CO2 in the atmosphere? how is that the dominant factor in yield increase?

    and shouldn t you have at least excused yourself for the moronic remark about C3 and C4 plants?

  30. #30 Tim Curtin
    March 20, 2009

    Bernard: first version of my Garnaut critique was rejected by one journal, then accepted by another but that in November changed the publication date from January to mid-2009, so I offered it to Keith Windschuttle and it appeared in Quadrant by end-December. I see you still evade the issue of the gross exageration in Solomon et al of the [CO2] growth rate and their implication that already the terrestrial sink is not merely saturated but a source; their Fig 1 implies that the atmospheric concentration will increase this year by 4.8 ppm (it was 1.9 last year). I’ll be glad to post my graph of their carbon budget if you would be so kind as to give me the WordPress code for inserting an Excel chart.

    Sod: You really are hopeless. While [CO2] has increased by only 22% since 1958, total Absorption of CO2 Emissions has increased by 237%, mostly on land not sea (See Table in GCP). The atmospheric CO2 is what is left in the sky after the Absorption of 57% of Emissions. Is that too difficult?

  31. #31 Tim Curtin
    March 20, 2009

    Bernard asked at #413 on the previous thread “Just how long do you think that carbon fixed by plantation palms stays ‘fixed’?” Well they are trees, so the carbon embedded in the tree itself lasts as long the tree, which can be 50 years, but as the annual fresh fruit bunch (ffb) yield starts declining, so the trees get to be replaced by fresh plantings. The ffbs are hugely rich in carbon derivatives, and form part of the non-linear food chain that Jeff claims to understand but manifestly does not. We all eat carbon-derived food, excrete, and exhale, but also store some until death and some of us use the energy derived from both the carbohydrate and hydrocarbon components to do useful things or have fun, while others like Jeff and Bernard wring their hands all day and cry “woe is me the end is nigh”. As a hydrocarbon, palm oil is also being touted as a non-fossil jet or motor fuel which partly explains the doubling in its price from 2000 to 2007. Palm oil is the cooking oil of choice across most of SE Asia and much of Africa. Palm kernels are also rich in carbon and are a widely used industrial chemical. US soy oil producers spent years trying to have oil palm plantations suppressed by concocting environmental scare stories in order to boost their own product’s sales. The truth is the WWF et al actually hate people especially those in the 3rd World for their temerity in aspiring to the Western standard of living and lifestyle (WWF has been trying to get rid of the Kalahari Bushmen for years), hence the hostility to oil palm. Canola grown across much of southern UK and France is OK, how’s the bio diversity in East Anglia? – but oil palm in Malaysia is not.

    Bernard again asked if I can “add a precise of comparative species analyses for forest versus plantation, with justification for the decimation of biodiversity that follows plantation, and in particular can you explain why extensive plantation of palms should not be of concern for the orang utans that are being displaced?” Actually, most oil palm plantations in PNG and Malaya are on what were formerly 100-year old copra (PNG) or rubber (Malaya) plantations; the ones I knew in Nigeria and PNG had plenty of biodiversity, both because hills and rivers within them retained their original vegetation; in Sarawak they are mostly in the coastal plain, not in the mountains, which are the main habitat of the orang-utan, whose main problem is that they love oil palm ffbs too much and reduce incomes of the peasants. What needs to be (and probably is being) done is to establish wild life parks to protect them from angry villagers.

  32. #32 Jeff Harvey
    March 20, 2009

    DavidK, you hit the nail on the head when you write, “It would be sad if it wasn’t so funny. Er … it would be funny if it wasn’t so sad. Hahaha mbwahahaha”.

    Tim thinks he can bowl us all over by throwing his calculations and maths around like there is no tomorrow. We are all supposed to swoon at this level of intellectual discourse. But this shouldn’t fool anyone. As I and others have said, Tim’s calculations incorporate a few variables and exclude countless others that are vital if we are to accurately predict the effects of increasing atmospheric C02 levels on our global ecological life-support systems. I have repeated asked how he has factored in effects on phenology; differential context and trait dependent parameters amongst species in food webs; the soil community, in particular rhizobacteria and mycorrhizal fungi, as well as other guilds in the decomposer subsystem; above ground seed dispers, pollinators and the like; C:N:P ratios in plant tissues and its affects on multitrophic interactions; effects on nutient cycling and water purification; and to expand the spatial scale of these processes on communities up to the level of ecosystems and biomes; qualiative and quantitiave changes in pollen and effects on pollinators; many other environmental variables.

    As I have also said many times, Tim either ignores my posts (knowing he does not have these data, nor can he produce them, and he is well aware that it is fatal to his thesis) or else he comes back with a riposte that suggests so long as we do not know what the effects of global change will be on these parameters, then there is no problem. This is the classic refrain of a contrarian. So long as a process is not studied or fully understood, then there is no problem. And then he sticks to his simple linear extrapolations.

    In his book, *Hidden Order*, John Holland discusses the key properties that characterize complex adaptive systems across the biopshere. These properties are: heterogeneity, nonlinearity, hierarchal organization and flows. These are the key elements. The most basic of these features is heterogeneity. The questions pertaining to this that we need to ask are: how should we measure and understand the importance of ecological diversity, especially biodiversity? How is it distributed? What maintains it? And most importantly, what are the consequences of losing it? These are all vitally important questions that relate to all aspects of anthropogenic-driven global changes that are currently underway. Net primary production is no exception.

    Holland also recognizes that other key aspects of complex adaptive systems are well illustrated in ecosystems. Nonlinearity refers to the fact that cause and effect relationships are usually disporportionate so that small changes in critical variables, such as the abundance of nitrogen fixing bacteria, can lead to disproportionate, and perhaps irreversible changes in system properties. Consequently, changes in environmental conditions or patterns of land use can trigger qualitative and largely irreversible changes in ecosystems, such as the transformation from dry
    lands to deserts.

    The bottom line is this: to manage the Earth’s systems and to ensure our survival we must harness the natural forces that organize the biosphere rather than consistently resisting and tinkering with them. The biosphere is a complex adaptive system with a structure that emerges in large part from adaptive changes that are mediated at local scales rather than at the level of the entire system.

    Most importantly, with respect to this thread, it is clear that we cannot reliably predict the consequences of experimenting with the chemical composition of the atmosphere on global net primary production and on the functioning of complex adaptive systems in the longer term by plugging a few physiological variables into a computer model, as Tim appears to be doing. It is clear that there are an infinite number of biotic and abiotic variables, some tightly linked, others more diffuse, that will determine the response of the biosphere and the communities and systems that make it up to various processes associated with human-induced global change (atmospheric C02 enrichment being just one). It is not enough for Tim to say that because we do not know the outcome of most of these processes that they can be excluded and are therefore unimportant. Humans are tinkering with systems that operate in a profoundly non-linear fashion and the outcome of this fiddling is unknown, but we must be prepared for many nasty environmental surprises as a consequence (and these are already occurring). The UK government’s scientific adviser made this point clearly yesterday.

    Tim can huff and puff and pontificate all day long but he is wasting his breath as far as I am conerned (and I think most readers of this and the previous thread agree). Like it or not, there is no reliable way in which we can predict the outcome of the current global experiment that humans are conducting, and to argue, as he does constantly, that it will help to alleviate hunger, whilst ignoring the complexities inherent in the system, is in my view totally and utterly irresponsible.

  33. #33 Alan
    March 20, 2009

    Wow, this thread sure has attracted the usual rent-a-crowd of crackpot climate change alarmists! Here are the facts, sheeple.

    I can go outside on a day of 30 degrees and sit around in the sun all day, but my body core temperature doesn’t rise. Why? Evaporation from my lungs and sweating keep me cool. Water vapour protects us from the sun’s heat. All this nonsense about infra red absorption is so much bunkum, as any cricket fan or fisherman can tell you.

    I have never seen an atmospheric heat balance model that includes tidal effects. The atmosphere also rises and falls with the gravitational influence of the sun and moon, but this is completely ignored by climate “scientists”. The dark side of the moon is cold because it doesn’t have any water vapour. If I go outside on a night of a new moon, I definitely feel cooler, but do climate “scientists” ever consider the cooling effect of the moon in their “models”? Nooooo. How can we believe anything they say?

    Annual average surface temperatures world-wide closely correlate with the number of cars in the world. In fact, global warming is caused by cars passing each other in close proximity on roads adjacent to power lines. The resulting vortex sucks electricity into the atmosphere, causing thunderstorms. Lightning then heats the atmosphere to the tune of 1 GigaJoule per strike. Global warming could be reversed quickly and easily if every country in the northern hemisphere adopted driving on the left so the Coriolis force would cancel out the vortices produced by cars.

    I hope Mr. Curtin reads http://www.apa.org/journals/features/psp7761121.pdf and uses it to explain, as gently and politely as I would expect from a man of his impeccable taste and breeding, why the alarmists are clueless.

  34. #34 P. Lewis
    March 20, 2009

    If I go outside on a night of a new moon, I definitely feel cooler, but do climate “scientists” ever consider the cooling effect of the moon in their “models”?

    You forget (or perhaps you didn’t know), but there’s also the heat output of the Soup Dragon’s raison d’être to be factored.

  35. #35 Tim Curtin
    March 20, 2009

    Alan: many thanks, at last a whiff of common sense! and thanks also for the link to Kruger & Dunning, great stuff!

    Jeff: I see nothing of your check list in any of the PNAS papers by Solomon, Smith, and Schneider. I will be glad to to include any quantitative evidence you may care to offer along those lines in my next paper, with all due credit to you.

    You are quite wrong in your last para. I have shown that that growth of CO2 absorption facilitated by CO2 emissions is a necessary condition for alleviating global hunger, and that cutting those emissions to zero as proposed by Solomon will have incalculable consequences on world wellbeing. Theirs is the experiment that wilfully ignores not only all the variables you quite properly mention – they are important that is why I would like you to quantify their effects on yields – but also the effect of zero emissions on world food production and crop yields. That is what is in my view totally and utterly irresponsible. In my Quadrant piece I mentioned that forgoing the increase in crop yields associated with continued emissions would using data in Cline (2007) cost us $US 5 Trillion a year (at 2008 cereal prices). The Crimp study commissioned by Garnaut implies Australia forgoing about 4 million tonnes of wheat a year by 2030 if emissions are drastically cut by then, worth about US$1 Billion p.a. at March 2009 prices.

  36. #36 Tim Curtin
    March 20, 2009

    Alan: many thanks, at last a whiff of common sense! and thanks also for the link to Kruger & Dunning, great stuff!

    Jeff: I see nothing of your check list in any of the PNAS papers by Solomon, Smith, and Schneider. I will be glad to to include any quantitative evidence you may care to offer along those lines in my next paper, with all due credit to you.

    You are quite wrong in your last para. I have shown that that growth of CO2 absorption facilitated by CO2 emissions is a necessary condition for alleviating global hunger, and that cutting those emissions to zero as proposed by Solomon will have incalculable consequences on world wellbeing. Theirs is the experiment that wilfully ignores not only all the variables you quite properly mention – they are important that is why I would like you to quantify their effects on yields – but also the effect of zero emissions on world food production and crop yields. That is what is in my view totally and utterly irresponsible. In my Quadrant piece I mentioned that forgoing the increase in crop yields associated with continued emissions would using data in Cline (2007) cost us $US 5 Trillion a year (at 2008 cereal prices). The Crimp study commissioned by Garnaut implies Australia forgoing about 4 million tonnes of wheat a year by 2030 if emissions are drastically cut by then, worth about US$1 Billion p.a. at March 2009 prices.

  37. #37 Tim Curtin
    March 20, 2009

    Alan: many thanks, at last a whiff of common sense! and thanks also for the link to Kruger & Dunning, great stuff!

    Jeff: I see nothing of your check list in any of the PNAS papers by Solomon, Smith, and Schneider. I will be glad to to include any quantitative evidence you may care to offer along those lines in my next paper, with all due credit to you.

    You are quite wrong in your last para. I have shown that that growth of CO2 absorption facilitated by CO2 emissions is a necessary condition for alleviating global hunger, and that cutting those emissions to zero as proposed by Solomon will have incalculable consequences on world wellbeing. Theirs is the experiment that wilfully ignores not only all the variables you quite properly mention – they are important that is why I would like you to quantify their effects on yields – but also the effect of zero emissions on world food production and crop yields. That is what is in my view totally and utterly irresponsible. In my Quadrant piece I mentioned that forgoing the increase in crop yields associated with continued emissions would using data in Cline (2007) cost us $US 5 Trillion a year (at 2008 cereal prices). The Crimp study commissioned by Garnaut implies Australia forgoing about 4 million tonnes of wheat a year by 2030 if emissions are drastically cut by then, worth about US$1 Billion p.a. at March 2009 prices.

  38. #38 Tim Curtin
    March 20, 2009

    Alan: many thanks, at last a whiff of common sense! and thanks also for the link to Kruger & Dunning, great stuff!

    Jeff: I see nothing of your check list in any of the PNAS papers by Solomon, Smith, and Schneider. I will be glad to to include any quantitative evidence you may care to offer along those lines in my next paper, with all due credit to you.

    You are quite wrong in your last para. I have shown that that growth of CO2 absorption facilitated by CO2 emissions is a necessary condition for alleviating global hunger, and that cutting those emissions to zero as proposed by Solomon will have incalculable consequences on world wellbeing. Theirs is the experiment that wilfully ignores not only all the variables you quite properly mention – they are important that is why I would like you to quantify their effects on yields – but also the effect of zero emissions on world food production and crop yields. That is what is in my view totally and utterly irresponsible. In my Quadrant piece I mentioned that forgoing the increase in crop yields associated with continued emissions would using data in Cline (2007) cost us $US 5 Trillion a year (at 2008 cereal prices). The Crimp study commissioned by Garnaut implies Australia forgoing about 4 million tonnes of wheat a year by 2030 if emissions are drastically cut by then, worth about US$1 Billion p.a. at March 2009 prices.

  39. #39 P. Lewis
    March 20, 2009

    :-)

  40. #40 Jeff Harvey
    March 20, 2009

    Tim, its clear to me that you do not understand the nuances of what I am saying. I have told you that it is IMPOSSIBLE to accurately predict what effects increeased atnmospheric C02 will have on the biosphere because there are too many processes – all interrelated – to factor in. We are groping blindly in the dark if we say anbything else. However, we do know that we are challenging nature to respond adaptively to an array of human-induced stresses on a global scale that have probably not been experienced so widely for at least 65 million years. Thus the prognosis for complex adaptive systems (and for us) is not a good one.

    I am sorry for writing in here because I realize you are being bombarded with information that you frankly have probably never gave a moment’s thought in your life. This is not your fault – its because I can see that you have also probably never attended an environmental science course in your life either and suddenly you are confronted with someone who has actually studied the field. Instead, you want me to piffle around with a fwe studies that you have cited and to be dragged into a debate on pedantics. I won’t play this game, because I know it will just go around in circles. As a scientist I have told you what we know, and, more worryingly, all that we don’t know about the virtually infinite number of processes that regulate the functioning of natural systems. I have stressed that we cannot extrpolate conclusions on the basis of a few parameters while excluding all of the rest. You can take this or leave it.

    Ultimately, humans are conducting a crap shoot. Tim, you may eventually be correct and I damned well hope you are, but there is no certainty because of the non-linear characteristics of systems I described earlier. Ecology is the most non-linear of all of the sciences; you can throw all of the algorithms at me and the others reading here, but nothing you say can make up for the fact that humans are conducting an experiment with all kinds of nasty possible outcomes.

    For the last time, and let these words resonate: our understanding of the ways in which compelx adaptive systems function is still in its infancy. We have barely scatched the surface. This comes from a scientist and most of the scientific community would agree with me, especially those who are ecologists and environmental scientists. There is no way that you can tell me on the basis of all the unknowns that putting more C02 into the atmosphere is a recipe for alleviating hunger. Unless we get a lot further in our understanding of ecological complexity, then I see this as danger talk.

  41. #41 P. Lewis
    March 20, 2009

    Global warming could be reversed quickly and easily if every country in the northern hemisphere adopted driving on the left so the Coriolis force would cancel out the vortices produced by cars.

    Ah, the Brits got there first. Always said the USA and Europeans had it wrong.

    Pity the poor equatorian drivers, though. They won’t know which way to turn, will they?

  42. #42 Ian Gould
    March 20, 2009

    I’ve largely stopped posting on blogs – not just this blog but most blogs.

    Nevertheless I just have to ask, what constructive result do any of the people posting here expect to to see?

    Does anyone think they’ll change Tim’s mind? does tim think he’ll change anyone’s mind.

    You’re all intelligent capable people, is this really the best use you can make of your time?

  43. #43 Jefff Harvey
    March 20, 2009

    Ian,

    Excellent point. The only reason I have stuck is out is in case any new readers wander in here and think Tim’s points are convincing. They need to be countered.

    I am exceedingly busy right now and you are 100% correct – I am out of this thread.

  44. #44 Jefff Harvey
    March 20, 2009

    Ian,

    Excellent point. The only reason I have stuck is out is in case any new readers wander in here and think Tim’s points are convincing. They need to be countered.

    I am exceedingly busy right now and you are 100% correct – I am out of this thread.

  45. #45 Jeff Harvey
    March 20, 2009

    Ian,

    Excellent point. The only reason I have stuck is out is in case any new readers wander in here and think Tim’s points are convincing. They need to be countered.

    I am exceedingly busy right now and you are 100% correct – I am out of this thread.

  46. #46 Bernard J.
    March 20, 2009

    The Age March 6, 2009

    Tim Curtin.

    Well they are trees, so the carbon embedded in the tree itself lasts as long the tree, which can be 50 years, but as the annual fresh fruit bunch (ffb) yield starts declining, so the trees get to be replaced by fresh plantings. The ffbs are hugely rich in carbon derivatives, and form part of the non-linear food chain that Jeff claims to understand but manifestly does not. We all eat carbon-derived food, excrete, and exhale, but also store some until death and some of us use the energy derived from both the carbohydrate and hydrocarbon components to do useful things or have fun, while others like Jeff and Bernard wring their hands all day and cry “woe is me the end is nigh”. As a hydrocarbon, palm oil is also being touted as a non-fossil jet or motor fuel which partly explains the doubling in its price from 2000 to 2007. Palm oil is the cooking oil of choice across most of SE Asia and much of Africa. Palm kernels are also rich in carbon and are a widely used industrial chemical. US soy oil producers spent years trying to have oil palm plantations suppressed by concocting environmental scare stories in order to boost their own product’s sales. The truth is the WWF et al actually hate people especially those in the 3rd World for their temerity in aspiring to the Western standard of living and lifestyle (WWF has been trying to get rid of the Kalahari Bushmen for years),… [blather, blather, blather…]

    In other words, you have nothing to support your promotion of the biodiversity and the carbon sequestration benefits of plantation over rainforest, but hey, palm oil is a marvellous commodity so we should all Love It Very Much TM and ignore the inconvenient fact that you were speaking utter nonsense.

    Fact:

    Indonesia is third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases after China and the US.

    Fact:

    More than 80 per cent of Indonesia’s emissions are caused by deforestation.

    Fact:

    Indonesia has destroyed more than 28 million hectares of forest since 1990.

    Fact:

    Much of the forest lost used to be the swampy, densely forested peatlands that are the world’s most potent carbon sinks.

    To give you an idea of the loss of biodiversity to which Jeff and I have been referring, the [WWF reports](http://www.panda.org/about_our_earth/about_forests/problems/forest_conversion_agriculture/orang_utans_palm_oil/) that in Malaysia “there are nearly 80 mammal species in Malaysia’s primary forests, just over 30 in disturbed forests, and only 11 or 12 in oil palm plantations. A similar loss in diversity occurs for insects, birds, reptiles, and most important of all, for soil microorganisms.”

    Fitzherbert et al ([Trends in Ecology & Evolution. Vol 23, Issue 10, pp538-545](http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tree.2008.06.012)), and Robertson & van Schaik ([Oryx. Vol 35, Issue 1, pp26-38](http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/120134182/abstract?CRETRY=1&SRETRY=0)) have a very much more concern than you about the impact of oil palm plantations on biodiversity and/or on orangs, and I am inclined to believe them over you because they are actually expert in these matters. Williams reports in Current Biology ([Volume 17, Issue 8, page R261](http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2007.03.053)) that the United Nations Environment Program says: “Today, the rapid increase in [oil palm] plantation acreage is one of the greatest threats to orang-utans and the forests on which they depend. In Malaysia and Indonesia, it is now the primary cause of permanent rainforest loss.”

    Consider what Danielsen et al have to say in Conservation Biology
    ([Vol 23, Issue 2, pp348–358](http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/121536533/abstract)):

    The growing demand for biofuels is promoting the expansion of a number of agricultural commodities, including oil palm (Elaeis guineensis). Oil-palm plantations cover over 13 million ha, primarily in Southeast Asia, where they have directly or indirectly replaced tropical rainforest. We explored the impact of the spread of oil-palm plantations on greenhouse gas emission and biodiversity. We assessed changes in carbon stocks with changing land use and compared this with the amount of fossil-fuel carbon emission avoided through its replacement by biofuel carbon. We estimated it would take between 75 and 93 years for the carbon emissions saved through use of biofuel to compensate for the carbon lost through forest conversion, depending on how the forest was cleared. If the original habitat was peatland, carbon balance would take more than 600 years. Conversely, planting oil palms on degraded grassland would lead to a net removal of carbon within 10 years. These estimates have associated uncertainty, but their magnitude and relative proportions seem credible. We carried out a meta-analysis of published faunal studies that compared forest with oil palm. We found that plantations supported species-poor communities containing few forest species. Because no published data on flora were available, we present results from our sampling of plants in oil palm and forest plots in Indonesia. Although the species richness of pteridophytes was higher in plantations, they held few forest species. Trees, lianas, epiphytic orchids, and indigenous palms were wholly absent from oil-palm plantations. The majority of individual plants and animals in oil-palm plantations belonged to a small number of generalist species of low conservation concern. As countries strive to meet obligations to reduce carbon emissions under one international agreement (Kyoto Protocol), they may not only fail to meet their obligations under another (Convention on Biological Diversity) but may actually hasten global climate change. Reducing deforestation is likely to represent a more effective climate-change mitigation strategy than converting forest for biofuel production, and it may help nations meet their international commitments to reduce biodiversity loss.

    When you attempt to speak on matters of biology, ecology or biodiversity, you may as well pull your trousers to your knees and squat, for all that you have (or rather, do not have) to offer.

  47. #47 Gator
    March 20, 2009

    Wow. Alan in 33, TC in 35. Just wow. I’d buy Alan a beer any day. Talent like that should be encouraged. :)

  48. #48 Bruce Sharp
    March 20, 2009

    Alan at 33: plainly and simply BRILLIANT! My favorite Deltoid comment so far this year. :-)

    Ian and Jeff: I can’t say that it’s the best use of your time, but those of us who are interested in these subjects do appreciate your efforts.

    Regards,
    Bruce

  49. #49 P. Lewis
    March 20, 2009

    Was good, wasn’t it? :-)

    Though Alan’s was superb, TC’s just takes the biscuit.

  50. #50 Chris O'Neill
    March 20, 2009

    Though Alan’s was superb, TC’s just takes the biscuit.

    I must admit, Alan had me for a few seconds, but not a patch on TC.

  51. #51 Tim Curtin
    March 20, 2009

    I am glad Chris O’Neill recognized the portraits of himself himself along with Gator and P Jones in Kruger & Dunning “Unskilled and unaware of it: how difficulties in recognizing one’s own incompetence lead to inflated self-assessments” and denigrating all others (see Alan above for link). Bruce Sharp should know better after his study of Noam Chomsky re Cambodia provided ample supporting data on this syndrome.

  52. #52 Bernard J.
    March 20, 2009

    For a sentence or two Alan had me going also, but it was a delicious dawning after that. What is even more delicious is that he pwned Radium Water Tim good and proper – unbelievable!

    Oo, and sorry about the Age link at #43 – it migrated within the post, and the actual context seems to have evaporated entirely. No matter, I think that my intent was sufficiently clear.

    And in reply to Ian’s excellent point – it’s the enlightenment of the bystanders, just as Bruce commented upon, that motivates my persistence: that, and the fact that Curtin is leaving in the permanent record of the internet, an ever growing legacy of his bottomless idiocy.

    And given the remorseless capacity for the Intertubes to rub one’s nose in one’s own folly, this is the most delicious morsel of all…

  53. #53 Bernard J.
    March 20, 2009

    Tim Curtin at #48.

    An attempt to camouflage your gullibility with the Socratic irony gambit won’t fly here.

    How are those answers to my [questions](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2009/03/tim_curtin_thread.php#comment-1487468) going, by the way?

  54. #54 Tim Curtin
    March 20, 2009

    Jeff #37 you said (1) “I have told you that it is IMPOSSIBLE to accurately predict what effects increased atmospheric C02 will have on the biosphere because there are too many processes – all interrelated – to factor in”. I thought the IPCC was supposed to have done this, albeit with minimal reference, in fact virtually none at all, to the implications for the biosphere of the extraordinary growth of terrestrial absorption of CO2 emissions since carbon budeting became possible in 1958, apart from a thin discussion in AR4, WG1, 519-520 which does however admit that “live biomass” has been growing at c 3% p.a. which is in line with my own estimates using FAO data.

    2. You said yet again “humans are conducting an experiment with all kinds of nasty possible outcomes, our understanding of the ways in which complex adaptive systems function is still in its infancy”. Reducing emissions to nil as proposed by Hansen and Solomon et al. will also be a grand experiment. What will be the impact on biomass growth?

    3. You again “There is no way that you can tell me on the basis of all the unknowns that putting more C02 into the atmosphere is a recipe for alleviating hunger” – and you have yet to prove that rising terrestrial absorption of CO2 emissions has been bad for world food production since 1958.

    4. You keep banging on about “non-linear” – send me your equations and I will do the regressions for you.

    Bernard J (are you a judge? probably an Einfeld to boot!)said at #43: I “have nothing to support [my] promotion of the biodiversity and the carbon sequestration benefits of plantation over rainforest, but hey, palm oil is a marvellous commodity so we should all Love It Very Much”. So it is only Indonesia and other 3rd World countries that practise monoculture while enviro-friendly Australian farmers and their confreres in Europe and North America grow their wheat and canola and soy with primeval forest left standing at 100 trees per hectare? Come to Murray-Darling, Cubby, Iowa and East Anglia to view the world’s greatest bio-diversity, to the Loire Valley for trees that are never logged (ho-hum). If that is not hypocrisy, what would be?

    You droned on: “Fact:
    Indonesia is third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases after China and the US.” NOT TRUE, as there are in fact only positive CO2 uptakes from its total rural and forest economy. You have o realise thet the UN’s REDD etc are based on denying uptakes by plnatation forests and oil palm just as Kyoto & REDD are founded on the lie that when a tree is logged its total carbon is lost to the armosphere. Whatever happened to our books and furniture and decks? Gorn, according to the IPCC.
    “Fact:
    More than 80 per cent of Indonesia’s emissions are caused by deforestation”. Another BLATANT UNTRUTH. Its trees are either replanted, Indonesia is one of the world’s biggest exporters of processed timber, and could not maintain that position without sustainable forest management, as it has for decades.
    “Fact: Indonesia has destroyed more than 28 million hectares of forest since 1990” LIE, trees have either been replanted, or sustainably harvested (allowing natural regrowth) or planted to oil palm (also, shock, horror, you never knew, a tree.
    “Fact: Much of the forest lost used to be the swampy, densely forested peatlands that are the world’s most potent carbon sinks.” Another LIE, based on serially dishonest eco-activist propaganda without a shred of evidence. The sources you cite, like WWF, are all untrustworthy, and all notably demand higher bio-diversity protection standards to be applied by brown people than they secure from their white subscribers like you in Australia et al. When I see you Judge Bernard campaigning for ploughing up ALL canola and wheat farms in Australia in order to reinstate bio-diversity here, then and then only will I believe in your bona fides.

    Einfeld J here in Canberra in a judgment a few years ago had Michael Kropp sent down for perjury. You are just as guilty of perjury as Einfeld, because of your double standards on canola vis a vis oil palm – and you can add in racism as well, once you cite your WWF, now our greatest exemplar of that.

  55. #55 sneezy
    March 21, 2009

    Sheeple routed, Team Curtin triumphs again (well, as ever).

    Ian I just can’t understand your comment about the dismal economics of blogwarring – did you even read #33 & #35 above? Sometimes this dirty business is just remade whole and pure again; if you don’t put in the days of thankless slog and toil you won’t be there for that sweet taste of Victory when it comes Team Curtin’s way again!

  56. #56 Tim Curtin
    March 21, 2009

    Bernard at #43: I have now been able to read the paper you cited by Danielsen et al Conservation Biology, 23.2, 2009), and can confirm that its authors are all from the Einfeld School of Perjury.

    First, the cited paper largely repeats an earlier paper by the same Authors (but with a different ordering of their names, a give away).

    Second, a paper dealing with relative CO2 production and emission from natural forest and oil palm plantations has a moral duty to refer to the paper by Lamade and Bouillet, (OCL 12.2, CIRAD, 2005), the former especially has published widely on all aspects of oil palm. That duty is especially the case when one offers data that are inconsistent with authoritative data freely available from L&B.

    I append their Table 1.

    Third, your authors are exactly guilty of Madoff accounting by failing to separate stocks and flows (remember as recently as last December Madoff claimed to have funds under management of US$50 billion, that as it turned out being the total ever invested with him, of which none remained, and there was no income). Likewise your authors’ Table1 states that natural forest stock stores carbon at a rate of 254 tonnes per hectare (t/ha) and oil palm plantation at only 91 t/ha. But as Lamade & Bouillet show, oil palm stores carbon at a rate of 73 t/ha/PA, or 4 times the ANNUAL rate for natural forest. Your authors also ignore flows for all but one variable in their Table 1.

    Fourth, your authors again ignore the CO2 fixation by oil palm, when computing the GHG emissions from oil palm in their equations (p.350). This is another Madoff-type fraud, as it is NET emissions from burning biofuel derived from palm oil that are relevant.

    Fifth, to gild their lily even more, your authors debit palm oil biofuel with all emissions from palm-oil production, transportation, and mill effluent – and fail to debt such emissions to mineral oil diesel, thereby reducing the credit from replacing diesel with palm oil.

    In short – and I could go on – your authors’ Table 1 is a tissue of lives and material omissions, and their whole paper is as biased as Einfeld used to be as judge.

    Their Table 2 is no better. It shows some lower quantum of bio-diversity in oil palm plantations relative to forests, but almost all the listed species are present in both, and their greater abundance in the forest does not indicate any loss of biodiversity, as the same aggregate of species remains available. For example, if there are 133 species of moth in the Malaysian forests, and only 73 in the plantations, the 133 are still extant, and that is what counts for Malaysia’s actual bio-diversity. As I noted in my last post, the absence of various species from wheat or canola fields in East Anglia does not of itself indicate any loss of bio-diversity in terms of number of those missing species still around in adjoining fields and hedgerows etc. Otherwise why have Danielsen’s co-authors from the Universities of Cambridge, East Anglia, and London, not to mention Amsterdam, Groningen, Koblenz-Landau, so far failed to launched a campaign to eradicate wheat and canola production from their own backyards? But that would not suit Neil Burgess, one of the co-authors, from WWF in Washington no less, sworn as his organization is to stamp out poverty reduction in the 3rd World. Ah, yes, but then I forgot, unlike charity, bio-diversity conservation begins and ends abroad, especially where the natives are brown-skinned, unlike Burgess’ subscribers in Iowa, NY, or wherever.

    Here is the Lamade Table 1, so signally ignored by Bernard’s favourite authors:

    Parameters and Units >> Tropical forest >> Oil palm plantation

    Biomass production t DM ha–1 yr–1 >> 22.9 >> 36.5

    CO2 fixation t CO2 ha–1 yr–1 >> 9.62 >> 25.7

    Photosynthesis lmol m–2 s–1 >>13-19 >> 21-24

    Absorbed radiation MJ m–2 yr–1 >>51.4 >> 82.9

    Respiration t CO2 ha–1 yr–1 >> 121.1 >> 96.5

    O2 production t O2 ha–1 yr–1 >> 7 >> 18.7

  57. #57 Jeff Harvey
    March 21, 2009

    Tim,

    You just don’t get it. The only species that can survive in oil palm plantations are a few generalists – species which can exploit variable habitats, and especially disturbed habitats. Rats. cockroaches. Cattle. House Sparrows. A few noctuid moths. Get this through your head will you:

    CONVERTING THE WORLD’S TROPICAL WET FORESTS TO OIL PALM PLANTATIONS WOULD CONDEMN 80% OR MORE (PROBABLY 90-95%) OF THE SPECIES FOUND IN THE WET FORESTS TO EXTINCTION. ALL CANOPY SPECIES WOULD GO. ALL UNDERSTORY SPECIES WOULD GO. ALL SPECIALIST HERBIVORES AND POLLINATORS. HUGE NUMBERS OF MUTUALIMS WOULD BE DISRUPTED. ENTIRE FOOD CHANINS WOULD BE DESTROYED. PERIOD. OVER. DONE. THIS IS NOT CONJECTURE, IT IS HARD FACT.

    It would also disrupt various cycles in water and nutrients and annihalate the soil community.

    The fact that I have to venture into this thread again to counter such balderdash is frankly annoying.

    As for the IPCC, get this through your head ‘team losing Curtin'(this for dumbasses like Sneezy who clealry can’t tell fleas from musk oxen) they have to go on the knowledge base that we have about the intricate ways in which the biosphere works. You appear to think that the scientific community has worked out every subtle nuance, every interaction, the contribution made by every individual of every species or every population in every ecosystem. Only a dingbat could make such an assumption in my opinion as a scientist (and not as a layman economist). I told you yesterday but let it sink in: we have only formally classified perhaps 5% (or less) of the planet’s species richness, much less for genetic diversity. Our understanding, and I mean the entire scientific community (perhaps, save for some lay people in the economics field) of the way in which natural systems function is very basic and rudimentary. Then you come back with garbage like, “I thought the IPCC had worked this out”. To even get a remotely accuratge understanding of the ways in which complex adaptive systems function in th shnort term would require trillions of dollars – never to be funded. So we have to make do with what we have, and that is very limited. Period.

    There is also no way that, given the mass extinction that would accompany the mass felling of tropical foresrts, that oil palms would survive, either. They need mutualists and depend on an array of itneractions as well as every other species on Earth does. It was only when a curculionid weevil from Cameroon that is a specialist pollinator of oil palms was introduced into Indonesia in 1980 that palm oil production increased. Until then (between 1918 and 1980) it had to be done by hand and was not very cost effective. This vital ecosystewm service generated immediate economic benefits. But the felling of tropical forests would lead to a massive spike in atmospheric C02 levels, and oil plams would not come close to m atching it. And oil plams are poor evapotranspirators, compared to emergent rainforest trees. The only reason the oil plams have in Malaysia and Indonesia have survived so well is because of the addition of the weevil (otherwise the forests would be the living dead for sure) and because enough tropical forest remains to counteract the negative consequences of oil palm plantations. But the region is fast approaching a threshold which characterizes complex adaptive systems. When a system is altered or simplified, the changes do not necessarily occur gradually but suddenty. Continued conversion to biologically depapuperate oil plam plantations will eventually lead to the crossing of some threshold beyond which system properties will dramatically shifdt to another state which is much worse. This is a fact, too.

    So I strongly think that you and Sneezy (Dopey more like) need to take a few elementary courses in ecology. I am having to lower this level of discouse to the level of a high school student, to be honest. My advice to Sneezy or whoever the heck you are: learn to munderstand that throwing figures around ad nauseum does not make someone correct or able to understand the significance of what they write.

  58. #58 Jeff Harvey
    March 21, 2009

    One last thing for Tim:

    When you wrote that a species is ‘extant’ if even if some of its habitat is convereted you ignored its ability to contribute as part of a community to the functioning of the system as a whole. Most importantly, a species loses its economic and ecological value long before it becomes extinct. Thus, when diversity if greatly reduced for example by the felling of wet forests for oil palm plantations, this means that the species and populations that lived in the original forest habitat also decline numerically. This numerical decline is accompanied by a loss in genetic diversity – and it is this genetic diversirty which is a necessary pre-requisite to adapting to a changing world.

    The loss of genetic variation is therefore of profound concern to conervation biologists and population geneticists – they know that it reduces the ability of species to respond to rapid changes in the environment caused by a range of human activities. Genetic diversity enables some genotypes to respond better to some stresses, and other genotypes to respond better ot other stresses. Its a hard fact that a loss in genetic diversity is as much of a concern today as a loss of species richness. Its an area I work on with respect to direct plant defence strategies, and also how I am trying to explain the factors maintaining the genetic variation and phenotypic plasticity in various life-hsitory traits in plants and insects.

    Therefore, any discussion of biodiversity loss must be framed both in terms of species and genetic variability within species. Conversion of tropical wet forests to oil palm plantation will lead to dramatic loss of species AND genetic variation in those that do survivbe this traumatic change in land use.

  59. #59 Tim Curtin
    March 21, 2009

    Jeff: You just don’t get it. You said:”the only species that can survive in oil palm plantations are a few generalists – species which can exploit variable habitats, and especially disturbed habitats”.That is not true, see data in Danielsen et al as cited by Judge Bernard.

    You then shouted at me in CAPs: “CONVERTING THE WORLD’S TROPICAL WET FORESTS TO OIL PALM PLANTATIONS WOULD CONDEMN 80% OR MORE (PROBABLY 90-95%) OF THE SPECIES FOUND IN THE WET FORESTS TO EXTINCTION. ALL CANOPY SPECIES WOULD GO. ALL UNDERSTORY SPECIES WOULD GO. ALL SPECIALIST HERBIVORES AND POLLINATORS. HUGE NUMBERS OF MUTUALIMS WOULD BE DISRUPTED. ENTIRE FOOD CHANINS WOULD BE DESTROYED. PERIOD. OVER. DONE. THIS IS NOT CONJECTURE, IT IS HARD FACT.

    Balls. Neither Malaysia nor Indonesia is able or desirous of turning its total land mass into oil palm plantations. Using the data in Bernie’s mates’ Danielsen et al (Table 2), more than 50% of all species in oil palm plantations remain OK (extant) in non-oil palm plantation areas, of which there are many (more than 50%).

  60. #60 Bernard J.
    March 21, 2009

    There’s one thing that is as certain as death and taxes, and that is that Tim ‘Radium Water’ Curtin will produce more wilfully ignorant nonsense, more continuously, than anyone could imagine – excepting of course the brilliant parodies penned by the Alans amongst us.

    Curtin, I am sure that your strategy is to come up with so much garbage that we simply give up trying to set the record straight. Nevertheless, I intend to venture forth yet again into the breach, should no-one else sally forth first, but not on my few weekend hours of leisure. I’m sure that you have an inkling though of the sort of homework that I’m bound to set for you following your last hold-full of bilge.

    And Jeff, I think that you might have mis-read sneezy… I suspect that his intention was to wave the banner for the cause of truth and sanity. At least, that’s how I read him.

  61. #61 Chris O'Neill
    March 21, 2009

    The great Curtin:

    I am glad Chris O’Neill recognized the portraits of himself himself along with Gator and P Jones in Kruger & Dunning “Unskilled and unaware of it: how difficulties in recognizing one’s own incompetence lead to inflated self-assessments”

    i.e. self-assessments such as:

    I must admit, Alan had me for a few seconds, but not a patch on TC*.

    *The great Curtin to the uninitiated.

  62. #62 Bernard J.
    March 21, 2009

    RW Curtin.

    You really are clueless when it comes to biology, aren’t you?

    When ecologists speak about biological diversity, they have a very diverse and nuanced glossary from which they draw, and this collection of diversity concepts is essential in attempting to understand the mind-boggling complexity that is an ecosystem, or indeed that is the biosphere.

    Firstly, in attempting to excuse the (apparently, to you) acceptable biodiversity of a palm plantation, you rely on the naïve approach of species richness, which is merely a list of species present, and which gives no indication of the manifold structure and function issues that underpins a coherently operating ecosystem. Jeff has touched upon genetic diversity: to this one needs to consider species diversity, and ecosystem diversity. Oh, and then there are the more subtle alpha, beta, and gamma diversity definitions, which would certainly make the eyes of one such as you roll back into the skull.

    The next problem with your impotent defence of the biodiversity Disneyland of palm plantations is that most of the species recorded within these ecological deserts are likely to have been sourced from adjacent old-growth forest. The plantations represent a sink for these species, and even their sourcing from the native habitat is usually temporary, as the area of source habitat becomes too small to sustain functional feeder populations. Over the decades or centuries that it takes for extinction debts to be realised the species ‘richness’ of plantations will plummet, and this decrease will be directly tied to the rate at which adjacent intact habitat is lost. Long before this occurs however, the more important measures of biodiversity will indicate a catastrophic loss of diversity structure and function.

    You really, really need to do some first day, first year undergrad reading. The Intertubes are a wealth of information for those with the wit to find it, and if such a basic exercise is beyond you, then you could at least have a look [here](http://cnx.org/content/m12174/latest/) and [here](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biodiversity).

    Your attack of Danielsen and his co-authors is slanderous, ignorant, and baseless. It is however true-to-form: whenever science says something that rocks your ideological boat, you resort to screams of conspiracy and of malfeasance – can I take it that you will be writing to Conservation Biology with a complaint and a rebuttal?

    Your use of the figures of Lamade & Bouillet leave a great deal to be desired. You affect erudition with mention of carbon fixation – matters of ecosystem structure aside, how do you factor in the half-life of carbon fixed by oil palm compared with carbon fixed by intact forest? Where is your calculation of the carbon debt incurred by felling old-growth forest that is replaced by plantation? Where is your evidence to dispute the enormous carbon-storing capacity of peatland?

    Your enthusiasm for felling rainforest seems to be as politically motivated as some of the reported that you parrot, and which have been scrutinised by many scientists and NGOs. A nice summary is given [here]( http://news.mongabay.com/2007/1108-palm_oil.html), and given the pertinence of some of the numbers I will include several paragraphs below, even in light of my misgivings about wholesale pastings of material:

    As is the case with any plant, oil palm trees do sequester carbon sequester carbon as they grow — carbon is a basic building block of plant tissue. Nevertheless, the process of clearing forest in order to establish a plantation releases more carbon than will be sequestered by the growing oil palms. So while a new oil palm plantation may grow faster — and sequester carbon at a higher annual rate — than a naturally regenerating forest, in the end the oil plantation will still store less carbon (50-90 percent less over 20 years) than the original forest cover. The carbon losses are even greater when the plantation is established on peat lands, which store vast amounts of carbon but release it as they are drained (upon exposure to air, peat rapidly oxidizes, decomposes, and releases carbon dioxide) .

    “The emission from forest conversion clearly exceeds the potential carbon fixation of oil palm plantings. Forest conversion on mineral soils to promote continued oil palm mono cropping causes a net release of approximately 650 Mg carbon dioxide equivalents per hectare, while the emission from peat forest conversion is even higher due to the decomposition of drained peat and the resulting emission of carbon oxide and nitrous oxide,” wrote Germer and Sauerborn in a paper published earlier this year in the journal Environment, Development and Sustainability. “The conversion of one hectare of forest on peat releases over 1,300 Mg carbon dioxide equivalents during the first 25-year cycle of oil palm growth. Depending on the peat depth, continuous decomposition augments the emission with each additional cycle at a magnitude of 800 Mg carbon dioxide equivalents per hectare.”

    Meine van Noordwijk, Regional Coordinator for Southeast Asia and Principal Ecologist for the World Agroforestry Center (ICRAF) says that industry claims of carbon superiority for a plantation fall short when one looks at the big picture.

    “This is the classical debate on flows versus stocks, of plant physiology versus systems ecology — currently the pulpwood as well as the oil palm plantation sector are fighting the battle with claims that they improve the C sequestration rates from something like 0.5 t C/ha/yr for maturing forest to values of 3-5 t C/ha/yr for fast growing plantations — while the world should care about the release of about 250 t C/ha of existing stocks before this increase in rates can be realized,” van Noordwijk told mongabay.com. “It will take 50-100 years before [carbon storage at this sequestration rate] equals 250.” Meanwhile the average life on an oil palm plantation is less than 25 years.

    “You can vary the numbers, but qualitatively the story remains that the release of forest carbon stock to the atmosphere takes a very long time to be offset by whatever the claims are for plantation growth rates,” van Noordwijk added. “The simplest concept to avoid the need to account for all photosynthesis, respiration, decomposition, removal of plant products etc is to look at the ‘time-averaged carbon stock’ of the system — this allows direct comparison at systems level, and suggests that there is a substantial difference between oil palm and pulpwood plantations on one hand, and natural forest on the other, with logged forests in between. This is the story for mineral soils.”

    On peat soils, the carbon balance is even less favorable for oil palm plantations due to emissions from drainage.

    The belowground carbon stocks in peat land can be thousands of t C/ha, and the rates of release may be 30-50 t C /ha/yr — so the aboveground capture by fast growing pulpwood or oil palm is only 10% of the concurrent losses from the peat — it is, indeed, a huge experiment in CO2 fertilization [oh, the irony!] if you grow trees on a peat that has been drained to 80 cm depth as is standard practice in Indonesia.”

    Wetlands International, an prominent environmental group that has released a widely-cited study on emissions from peat lands degradation and destruction, agrees.

    In a good year approximately 3 to 6 tons of palm oil is produced per hectare, causing emissions of 70 to 100 tons of carbon dioxide [19 to 27 metric tons of carbon] per year per hectare,” Susanna Tol, a researcher with Wetlands, told mongabay.com. “The production of one ton of palm oil results in carbon dioxide emissions of up to 33 tons [9 tons carbon]” — roughly ten times that of ordinary diesel.

    At least 1.5 million ha of palm oil is planted on peat in Indonesia alone and will contribute some 100 to 150 Mt CO2/annum, or about 27 – 41 Mt carbon losses directly in these plantations and only from drainage,” added Marcel Silvius, a senior scientist at Wetlands. “The use of fertilisers and methane emissions of the palm oil production process add still more emissions… not to mention the initial loss of the tropical rain forest and its carbon sequestration potential.” [my many emphases, in case you can't assimilate the numbers]

    And Tim Curtin – your attempt to associate me with Marcus Einfeld is abhorrent, tasteless, misleading, and generally a puerile strawman. Your baseless accusations of racism directed at me, Danielsen et al and WWF are way beyond the pale, and are a sign of a grubby and a despicable person.

    One of the sponsors of one of my jobs in ecological management is a subsidiary of the WWF, and I know these people to be stringently scientific and extremely ethical in their operations. I will be drawing his attention to your post at #51 with some interest. I wonder how much courage you have to stand by your slander – would you place a comment on your own website claiming the WWF to be “untrustworthy”, and “our greatest exemplar of racism”?

  63. #63 Tim Curtin
    March 21, 2009

    Bernard: My charges against you stand with further evidence from your choice of patently dishonest sources as compared with my Lamade and Bouillet. When I see you and your WWF mates leading campaigns to stop all wheat, cotton, rice, and canola production in Australia because of the low levels of biodiversity fields of same exhibit, then and only then will I withdraw my charge of racism.

  64. #64 Bernard J.
    March 22, 2009

    Tim Curtin, OLHF.

    Your ‘charges’ are a complete exercise in masturation, as I cited sources from the best of science, as well as from organisations that rely upon the best of science. If you disagree with their analyses, show the data to prove them wrong.

    Your comparison of the detruction of tropical rainforest in the Third World in order to plant oil pams, with agriculture in the First World, fails on multiple levels. Firstly, most of the First World agricultural land was established before human had an operational understanding of ecology and of the importance of biodiversity. It is spurious to make the comparison, even if it is unfortunate that indigenous cultures did not have the historic benefit of industrial agriculture that Westerners had.

    Secondly, the tropical Third World forest represent biodiversity hotspots that are enormously more significant in terms of both ecosystem value, and of potential economic value for humans with respect to future products that might be sustainably utilised if only the forests are not destroyed. Comparison with the biodiversity lost in the establishment of most of the Western agricultural land is again spurious.

    Thirdly, the process of tropical forest destruction frequently occurs in a milieu of political corruption and nepotism, and often against the wishes of many of the locals who live there.

    And I know this from first-hand experience – in my PhD fieldwork I had six teams of volunteers each summer who came to help. These volunteers were sourced by an international NGO, and hence of the approximately one dozen people each trip had, at least half ove them came from overseas to help. One of my trips had four Indonesians, including the head villager from a remote indigenous forest village who had contacted the NGO so that he might have contact with foreign ecologists, and learn how best to resist the corrupt government officials and corporations who were razing his forest home against the express wishes of the native peoples who lived there. The fellow was about as indigenous as one can be, and had learned English and as much of outside culture as he could, in an effort to help his people and his forest home. I was proud to call him friend, and infinitely more proud when he called me ‘brother’.

    The stories he told of the destruction were horrific, and your grubby attempt to shift blame to Western NGOs and scientists with slanders of racism is beyond words. Really, where do you get of doing this? Who is paying you – or rather, who is it that you would like to be paying you? You’re trying hard to impress someone, but it isn’t anyone with a balanced understanding of science or of ethics.

    I’m not surprised though… After all, you [have form](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2007/10/update_on_the_nine_alleged_err.php#comment-621439), when you accused sod, Dano, Jody Aberdein and un-named others of:

    probably one or all of the following: (1) cowards; (2) wife beaters, (3) pedophiles, and (4) all of the above, so likely to lose their jobs if your employers knew you were using company time to post garbage on sites like this, as has evidently become your fulltime occupation.

    You have never been one to let the complete absence of evidence, or of justification, to stand in the way of a slanderous spray or a non-scientific rant, have you?

    And for the record, I note that once more you have dodged any addressing of the substantive scientific points in which your nose was rubbed, in favour of the despicable ad hominem garbage that is an integral part of your trademark.

  65. #65 Tim Curtin
    March 22, 2009

    Bernard sez: “I cited sources from the best of science, as well as from organisations that rely upon the best of science” That is a joke – the table on species in Malaysia etc in Danielsen et al Table 2 looks like a Year 3 at primary school effort, they do not even refer to the authors, definitions, and methodology as described in the first of your links (Ian Harrison et al, very helpful, many thanks). The Wiki definition supports my interpretation of b.d. being “ the totality of genes, species, and ecosystems of a region”, the Danielsen Table discloses no reduction in the totality of genes etc in the countries covered. As for the “organizations that rely on the best of science”, hell they do when like Monga Bay ICRAF and Wetlands they have their own agenda, as shown when they ignore – even if only to try to refute – Lamade’s work on oil palm over many years? Your stuff about the peatlands is demonstrably false, they have not been destroyed, though there was damage from the fires in 1997-98 due to the El Nino drought, as it implies that there is a continuous process of destruction which is untrue. If the releases were as huge as your sources claim they would have been registered at Mauna Loa, and there has been no sign of that since 1998.

    Bernard, most of the rest of your piece is really very sad except when it is hilariously funny, like your justification of white man agriculture being justifiable because Jeff wasn’t around to tell them 3,000 years ago that all agriculture is bad and that anyway their biodiversity was never as large or as “rich” as the brown man’s. To continue at your level, you have much less clue than the Neanderthals. As for your research assistants, they knew what you wanted to hear, and I see you still patronise them just as you did then. I spent most of my life in the 3rd World and am well aware of both traits.

    Finally, you have yet to assure me that from tomorrow you will campaign for enhancing b.d here by destruction of all Australian agriculture, until you do my racism charge stands.

  66. #66 Chris O'Neill
    March 22, 2009

    The great Curtin:

    Arrhenius clearly did not deal only in doublings as Chris would have us believe.

    Here the great Curtin points out that when I said:

    “The logarithm function varies from minus to plus infinity. Doubling the input causes the same increase in output for any original input, i.e. increasing the input from 2 units to 4 units causes the same increase in output as increasing the input from 1 unit to 2 units”;

    I wasn’t just giving an example of how the input (or argument) to a logarithm function may vary, I was actually saying that the input to a logarithm function can ONLY vary by doubling, quadrupling, etc. Normally people give examples of something (in this case how the logarithm function varies with input) to help people who may be ignorant, arrogant, or lacking in intelligence to help them understand the concept. Of course that doesn’t apply in this case as the great Curtin pointed out. After all, the great Curtin is not behaving like an arrogant, ignorant moron.

  67. #67 Tim Curtin
    March 22, 2009

    Chris O’Neill: what utter nonsense. But why don’t you get Excel to scrub its logarithmic trend lines which apply to ANY increase in variable y relative to changes in variable x? Truly you are the embodiment of McArthur Wheeler in Kruger & Dunning (Journal of Personality and Social Pschology, 1999, 77.6).

    Bernard J. I take this opportunity of confirming I have contacted the cretinous Finn Danielsen as follows:

    22 March 09

    Finn Danielson
    fd@nordeco.dk

    Dear Dr Danielsen

    I have been referred to your paper et al in Conservation Biology (23.2, 348-358).

    I wonder if you would be so kind as to explain why your paper fails to refer to or make use of the data in the paper by Lamade and Bouillet, (OCL 12.2, CIRAD, 2005), the former especially has published widely on all aspects of oil palm. Surely a paper dealing with relative CO2 production and emission from natural forest and oil palm plantations has a moral duty to refer to their paper, especially when yours offers data that are inconsistent with authoritative data freely available from L&B.

    I append below their Table 1.

    I fear that you and your co-authors are exactly guilty of Madoff-type accounting by failing to separate stocks and flows (remember as recently as last December Madoff claimed to have funds under management of US$50 billion, that as it turned out being the total ever invested with him, of which none remained, and there was no income. Thus your Table 1 states that natural forest stock stores carbon at a rate of 254 tonnes per hectare (t/ha) and oil palm plantation at only 91 t/ha. and makes no metion of flows in or out of those stocks. As Lamade & Bouillet show, oil palm stores carbon at a rate of 73 t/ha/PA, or 4 times the ANNUAL rate for natural forest. Your Table 1 also ignore flows for all but one variable.

    Your paper sails perilously close to outright fraud when it ignores the CO2 fixation by oil palm in its computations “showing” the GHG emissions from oil palm in your equations (p.350). This is indeed another Madoff-type fraud, as it is NET emissions from burning biofuel derived from palm oil that are relevant, not gross from the factors your equations consider.

    Gilding your lily even more, your paper debits (Table 1) palm oil bio-fuel with all emissions from palm-oil production, transportation, and mill effluent – and fails to debt such identical emissions to mineral oil diesel, thereby reducing the credit from replacing diesel with palm oil. Perhaps none of you and your co-authors have seen flaring from oil refineries, or petrol tankers? What a sheltered life you all lead!

    Your Table 2 is no better. It shows some lower quantum of bio-diversity in oil palm plantations relative to forests, but almost all the listed species are present in both, and their greater abundance in the forest does not indicate any loss of biodiversity in any of the countries surveyed, as clearly the same aggregate of species remains extant in each. For example, if there are 133 species of moth in the Malaysian forests, and only 73 in the plantations, the 133 are still extant, and that is what counts for Malaysia’s actual bio-diversity. Your paper falsely assumes that oil palm plantations will soon occupy very square inch of Malaysia’s land mass!

    The absence of various species from wheat or canola fields in say Fitzherbert’s East Anglia does not of itself indicate any loss of bio-diversity in terms of number of those missing species still around in adjoining fields and hedgerows etc. Otherwise why have you and your co-authors from the Universities of Cambridge, East Anglia, and London, Amsterdam, Groningen, and Koblenz-Landau, so far failed to launched a campaign to eradicate wheat and canola production from your own backyards? But that would not suit any of you, dependent on farmers’ taxes inter alia, least of all your Neil Burgess, of WWF in Washington no less, sworn as his organization is to stamp out poverty reduction in the 3rd World but protect sources of subscription income in the West. Ah, yes, but then I forgot, unlike charity, bio-diversity conservation begins and ends abroad, especially where the natives are brown-skinned, unlike Burgess’ subscribers in Iowa or wherever.

    In short, I consider that your paper is inherently racist, and to prove me wrong people like Fitzherbert will have to show me they are starting a campaign to root out wheat and canola farming in East Anglia.

    I shall not forward a copy of this to the Society for Conservation Biolgy if I get a satisfactory reply to my comments above.

    Kind regards

    Tim Curtin

    Here is the Lamade Table 1, so signally ignored by you and all your co-authors (have any of you ever studied oil palm at all?):

    Parameters and Units >> Tropical forest >> Oil palm plantation

    Biomass production, t DM ha–1 yr–1 >> 22.9 >> 36.5

    CO2 fixation, t CO2 ha–1 yr–1 >> 9.62 >> 25.7

    Photosynthesis, lmol m–2 s–1 >>13-19 >> 21-24

    Absorbed radiation, MJ m–2 yr–1 >>51.4 >> 82.9

    Respiration, t CO2 ha–1 yr–1 >> 121.1 >> 96.5

    O2 production, t O2 ha–1 yr–1 >> 7 >> 18.7

  68. #68 Jeff Harvey
    March 22, 2009

    Tim Curtin, Its my opinion that you are clueless. You clearly do not read my posts, but come back with the same lame arguments. I might as well be speaking to a kindergarten student. Your tactic is used over and over: that is, you do not understand basic environmental science. But you obviously think that you do. On this subject we are debating on entirely different levels – you from gleaning a few studies and me from spending the last 20 years in the field.

    Your childishness is also manifested whrn you keep referring to studies yopui dislike as perpetrating a ‘Madoff type fraud’. How low do you want to drag this debate? What an imbicilic argument it is to have to say utter garbage like this.

    Your strategy is also to keep demanding evidence for which we have not enough scientific information to draw firm conclusions. Its like me saying that if human beings paved over every square inch of the planet’s land surface that it would obviously be catastophic for the planet’s biodiversity. Your response would be, “Prove it. Until it is proven it does not exist”. I have a lot of experience with contrarians like you because you are all the same. In your case, you try to wow over the audience by throwing around calaculations like there is not tomorrow, but I believe that you do this *without having even a basic understanding of what significance these calculations have in a functional sense on natural systems*. That is because I can see as someone working in the field of ecology that you do not understand basic ecology. You describe my arguments as “balls” without really knowing much at all about a field I have worked in for over 20 years.

    As I said yesterday, and for those who do read my posts (which it appears Tim does not because he usually does not reply to 99% of the points I make), we are approaching thresholds. Continued conversion of wet tropical forests to oil plam plantations will lead to a gradual decline in the functioning of these systems until some threshold is reached, and then these systems will collapse, taking with them a range of vital services like nutrient cycling, maintenance of water tables, water purification etc. The vast majority of tropical species are habitat specialists because conditions are relatively benign (much less thermal constraints than in temperate regions). As research by people like Gaston and Blackburn has shown, the distributions of species in tropical biomes are much smaller than species in temperate biomes, for several reasons. First, conditions can remain optimal over realtively small areas in tropical regions because the climate is fairly stable and resources are locally abundant. Temperate species experience prolonged periods of sub-optimal conditions (e.g. winter) and often need to disperse in order to acquire sufficient resources. Second, niches are much smaller amongst species in tropical biomes, because there are so many available resources; compeition is therefore much more intense and this has driven resource specialization. In temperate regions there are many more generalists. Overall, this means that the loss of a patch of habitat in tropical regions will be accompanied by a much greater loss of biodiversity than in temperate regions of comparable size. This covers most vertebrate and invertebrate groups as well as plants. So conversion of even small patches of tropical forest to oil palms will without any shadow of a doubt be an ecological catastophe. Given that we have formally identified less than 5% of extant species, and perhaps even less, there is little doubt that the loss of 50% of tropical forest worldwide has alread triggered a massive extinction spasm. Many of the species indoubtedly disappearted without ever having been classified.

    The other problem, of course, is that systems function on the basis of contributions for the whole of their biota (this is lost on Tim, but to be fair its because in my opinioon his understanding of the field is at the level of a high school student). Certainly some species, such as nitrogen fixing bacteria, play a greater role, but diversity begets stability because more diverse systems contain more species fulfilling the same ecological roles. This is what we call ‘functional redundancy’. As sytems are reduced in their diversity, and dominat species are lost, formely redudant species in the same guilds might then occupy their niche, become domiona nt and fulfil the same ecological roles. In 1998 Kevin McCannpublsihed a seminal paper in Nature in which he modeled the effects of species diversity on system stability (through resistance to change and resilience after change). McCann found that greater diversity reinforced system stability by offering alternate pathways (flows) of materials, water and energy through the system. It is important to note that a species-poor system can exhibit these same properties if it has had a long evolutionary history of being species-poor, but tropical biomes clearly have long histories of high species richness. The bottom line is that rapid conversion of these species rich systems to a sinbgle species of tree from a different biogeographical realm (west Africa) will be catastophic for their recipient ecosystems once some threshold is passed. It is very difficult to predict what that threshold will be, but pretty much all of the scientific community will be concerned about the implications of expanding oil palm plantations much more. Converting species-rich systems to oil palm monocultures will (1) drive a massive increase in the local extinction rate, and if more widely planted, global extinction rate (2) undermine a range of viotal ecosystem services and (3) be prone to collapse because functional redundancy has all but been eliminated.

    A similar example would be the effects of deforestation on land stability. Trres provide an important service by stablizing mountain slopes and hillsides, thus reducing the risk of landslides when there is heavy rainfall. Once trees on slopes are felled, this increases the riskj of a catastrophic slide, but it is only when some threshold is reached that the slope gives way. The massive mudslides that killed so many in Nicaragua during Hurrican Mitch in 1998 were in large part because hillsides overlooking major urban centers had been felled. Once they became waterlogged there was nothing to hold them back. We are talking about non-linear systems here. Another example concerns drinking water in New York City, which is some of the purest inb the world. This is because the water originates in the catskill mountain watershed, about 150 km north of the city. The water is pure because trees and their attendant soil biota act like a huge filter, sieving out impurities. The diverse range of tree species in the catskills also enhanced the water purification process. However, during the 1970s and 1980s developers began to move ionto the area and forests were felled for country clubs, golf courses etc. Farms also expanded, and the water purification properties of the forests were under threat. The city planners of New York were fac ed with a dilemma: build a water purification plant for several billion dollars, with 300 million dollar annual maintenance costs, or stop development in the catskills and replant the forests. Wisely they chose the latter option. But the critical point is that the water purufication serviced emerged from species rich forests; it is highly unlikely that a single forest trees species could have performed the same functions as efficiently. Moreover, even if one species could, the system would be more prone to collapse if that species contacted some lethal pathogen; there would be no ‘functionally redundant’ species to back them up. Recall the effects of chestnut blight and Dutch elm disease on eastern American forests in thw 1950s, 60s and 70s.

    Therefore, forget Tim’s remarks on this and related subjects. I think that most readers here should by now be able to see that he is out of his depth on thes issues but I have to give him credit for battling on in the face of clear defeat.

  69. #69 James Haughton
    March 22, 2009

    I note that the [Citizen's Electoral Council](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizens_Electoral_Council) have now [adopted](http://www.grods.com/post/5968/) Tim’s argument. Or is it the other way round? In any case, with the CEC at his back, Tim will surely crush all remaining opposition!

  70. #70 Tim Curtin
    March 22, 2009

    Dear Jeff: Thanks for your as ever charming comments. I only wish you could have joined my wife, dog, and me for lunch in our garden today, despite all your gloom and doom we were surrounded by far more bio-diversity than you have ever seen in your life,including a new bird and a new lizard that we have never seen before over 10 years here.

    You politely say “it’s my opinion that you are clueless. You clearly do not read my posts, but come back with the same lame arguments. I might as well be speaking to a kindergarten student.” Really? is that I am? “Your tactic is used over and over: that is, you do not understand basic environmental science.” But do you understand any economics, after all those years plottintg revolution instead of completing your Ph.D? Then you say “But you obviously think that you do. On this subject we are debating on entirely different levels – you from gleaning a few studies and me from spending the last 20 years in the field”. I have been a professional economist for over 48 years, so I seem to be ahead of you!

    With your exquisite charm you add: “Your childishness is also manifested whrn you keep referring to studies you dislike as perpetrating a ‘Madoff type fraud’.” Why not, if that is what Solomon et al and Danielsen et al and De’ath do?

    You then shriek: “How low do you want to drag this debate? What an imbecilic argument it is to have to say utter garbage like this.” Disprove me mate, and that requires a bit more than your shouting from the rooftop: Solomon et al and Danielsen et al and De’ath et al. are all demonstrably guilty of fraud, and I am pursuing them to that effect (see above).

    You say my “strategy is also to keep demanding evidence for which we have not enough scientific information to draw firm conclusions. It’s like me saying that if human beings paved over every square inch of the planet’s land surface that it would obviously be catastophic for the planet’s biodiversity. Your response would be, “Prove it. Until it is proven it does not exist”. Yes dear Jeff, because if we act on your and Hansen’s advice, and reduce CO2 emissions to nil, that is equivalent to “paving over every square inch of the planet’s land surface that it would obviously be catastophic for the planet’s biodiversity”. No CO2 emissions, no biodiversity. End of story, Jeff.

  71. #71 luminous beauty
    March 22, 2009

    It is impossible to poke holes in TC’s arguments.

    This is due to their complete lack of non-holelike substance.

  72. #72 Bernard J.
    March 22, 2009

    RW Tim.

    The Wiki definition supports my interpretation of b.d. being “ the totality of genes, species, and ecosystems of a region”

    Wikipedia is often a fine source of basic information, but your grab of an interpretation from this site does not make you an ecologist. In fact, it patently does not even seem to have informed you on the most basic understanding of the operational structure and function of biodiversity, given your continued bizarre insistence that plantations are not damaging to biodiversity.

    For example, if there are 133 species of moth in the Malaysian forests, and only 73 in the plantations, the 133 are still extant, and that is what counts for Malaysia’s actual bio-diversity. As I noted in my last post, the absence of various species from wheat or canola fields in East Anglia does not of itself indicate any loss of bio-diversity in terms of number of those missing species still around in adjoining fields and hedgerows etc.

    You are completely clueless, aren’t you? If you had bothered to read my links you might have learned of the Simpson Index and of the Shannon-Wiener Index amongst others, and thus have understoond why your crude reliance on a species list is only an advertisement for your scientific, and particularly your ecological, incompetence. Yes, Radium Water Tim, it is you who is incompetent, and not the dozens of trained and experienced scientists whom you repeatedly slander.

    Your stuff about the peatlands is demonstrably false, they have not been destroyed, though there was damage from the fires in 1997-98 due to the El Nino drought, as it implies that there is a continuous process of destruction which is untrue.

    Go ahead and demonstrate that my “stuff about the peatlands is demonstrably false”. Data and references please. Remember, you mmifght have to call a few more biologist “incompetent”.

    As for your research assistants, they knew what you wanted to hear, and I see you still patronise them just as you did then. I spent most of my life in the 3rd World and am well aware of both traits.

    Curtin, get it through your thick skull. My volunteers were very much their own people, and at no point did I ever press a value judgement upon them. You have absolutely no clue how I train and manage field workers, and your claims are pure garbage. If anyone is patronising “brown-skinned natives”, it is you when you assume that they would tell me “what [I] wanted to hear”.

    You really are a grubby little man.

    I shall not forward a copy of this to the Society for Conservation Biolgy if I get a satisfactory reply to my comments above.

    Why wait? You have claimed fraud, and the Society is surely just as responsible if your claims are correct. Better still, if you are correct, why can you not prepare a rebuttal paper? If they reject you, then you could submit to Energy and Environment – they are much more sympathetic to your ’cause’.

    Put yourself out there, Curtin.

    Dear Jeff: Thanks for your as ever charming comments. I only wish you could have joined my wife, dog, and me for lunch in our garden today, despite all your gloom and doom we were surrounded by far more bio-diversity than you have ever seen in your life,including a new bird and a new lizard that we have never seen before over 10 years here.

    Ha ha ha HA HA HA HA Heh heh heh…

    You are determined to show the world how ridiculously deluded you are, aren’t you? Jeff Harvey will have seen many times more species than you have probably ever seen yourself in your whole life, let alone what you have found in your garden.

    Of course, as you have seen fit to make such a claim, you must surely have a species list that documents your garden’s incredible richness. Let’s have it.

    Yes dear Jeff, because if we act on your and Hansen’s advice, and reduce CO2 emissions to nil, that is equivalent to “paving over every square inch of the planet’s land surface that it would obviously be catastophic for the planet’s biodiversity”. No CO2 emissions, no biodiversity. End of story, Jeff.

    He he he ha ha ha HA HA HA HA Heh heh heh ahhh… ooh, make it stop!

    Tim Curtin, I have asked fruitlessly before, but perhaps you will deign to answer now: how did life manage to arrive to 1850 with the highest biodiversity that evolution has ever produced, and with nary a significant increase in atmospheric CO2 from human emissions, compared with what we have seen emitted after 1850?

    Jackass. Idiot (I refuse to insult jackasses).

    Responding to #21, you asked “Next question?” and I obliged with “Do you understand the limitations of reductionism?”

    You have yet to demonstrate that you understand my question, or its point.

    At #30 you said:

    Bernard: first version of my Garnaut critique was rejected by one journal, then accepted by another but that in November changed the publication date from January to mid-2009, so I offered it to Keith Windschuttle and it appeared in Quadrant by end-December.

    So your claim:

    …same reply, the editor of the journal I first submitted to, received similar threats, hence my switch to Quadrant, Keith had more bottle.

    was untrue?

    Curtin, your prevarications, distortions, misrepresentation, ignorance, lies, slanders and general incompetence to make even the most basic of scientific commentaries is unsurpassed. For the benefit of lurkers unacquainted with some of your previous howlers, and for the amusement of older readers who might have forgotten the details, I feel compelled to remind you of:

    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.

    Posted by: Tim Curtin | [June 20, 2006 9:51 AM](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2006/06/the_gods_are_laughing_at_tom_h.php#comment-114141)

    bi: 1. Slopes are different from ratios. 2. Climate scientists like Canadell et al are even more available for hire than those stingily paid off by BP etc. 3. In all likelihood both you and Naomi are very fat, and as that is your sole contribution to this debate let’s leave it at that.

    Posted by: Tim Curtin | [March 24, 2008 6:50 AM](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2008/03/remember_eg_becks_dodgy.php#comment-800195)

    Solar and wind power do not yield the release of free long stored H2O and CO2 bye-products. Those pesky molecules are included in Eisntein’s equation but are largely absent from the formulae for solar and wind power. Strange as it may seem to bi/sod, H2O and CO2 are not pollutants but esential to life. My Garnaut Submission gave the formulae for propane and jet fuel that prove my point here. Dear sod/bi, show me the equivalent formulae for wind/solar and prove their equal yield in terms of FREE water and CO2.

    I could spend the rest of my life trying to sell my comments here to the IPCC or all the journals its 2500 authors edit, but have better things to do. E&E might well, but would be derided for doing so.

    BTW, I have never called you a pedophile or wife beater (at least not yet!). [erm, not true]

    Posted by: Tim Curtin | [March 25, 2008 6:07 AM](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2008/03/remember_eg_becks_dodgy.php#comment-802308)

    It goes on and on…

    Tim, I once bestowed these words upon Harold Pierce Jnr, and I may have subsequently passed the honour to you, but based on the calibre of your scientific (non)understanding I think that it is now time that you seriously don the mantle and stand on the podium:

    Insulsissimus est homo.

  73. #73 Bernard J.
    March 22, 2009

    In case it’s not apparent, the

    I could spend the rest of my life trying to sell my comments here to the IPCC or all the journals its 2500 authors edit, but have better things to do. E&E might well, but would be derided for doing so.

    BTW, I have never called you a pedophile or wife beater (at least not yet!).

    was a part of Curtin’s March 25, 2008 6:07AM post.

    Darned backslash went walkies.

  74. #74 Chris O'Neill
    March 22, 2009

    The great Curtin:

    Truly you are the embodiment of McArthur Wheeler in Kruger & Dunning (Journal of Personality and Social Pschology, 1999, 77.6).

    I should have added, besides not behaving like an arrogant, ignorant moron, the great Curtin is not a hypocrite either.

  75. #75 Tim Curtin
    March 23, 2009

    Bernard: you linked me to Robertson & van Schaik (Oryx. Vol 35, Issue 1, pp26-38) and I have also read the parallel piece by van Schaik & Robertson in the same issue. The latter has interesting tables (2 & 3) showing that given their estimate of orang-utan populations in north Sumatra in 1998 and their projected rates of decline due to habitat destruction, “within a decade” they would be extinct, i.e. by now (2009). Are they? If not, they must have turned into the black swans that falsify absurd hypotheses! Their papers have no facts at all about the supposed role of oil palm plantations on this extinction, their main focus is on logging, but they have no alternative employment to offer the 50% of Sumatrans dependent on plantations and linked smallholdings for their livelihood if they succeed in their declared aim of having these industries prevented from expanding if not closed.

    Chris: in case you have not read Kruger & Dunning, they surveyed various groups of students at Cornell first with tests and then questionnaires on how they rated their performance. Your version of logarithmic growth puts you in their bottom deciles, being those who thought they had done brilliantly but were actually in the bottom deciles of the test results.

  76. #76 Chris O'Neill
    March 23, 2009

    Bernard J.: what utter nonsense. Truly you are the embodiment of McArthur Wheeler in Kruger & Dunning (Journal of Personality and Social Pschology, 1999, 77.6). Unlike the great Curtin.

  77. #77 Barton Paul Levenson
    March 23, 2009

    Tim Curtin writes:

    if we act on your and Hansen’s advice, and reduce CO2 emissions to nil, that is equivalent to “paving over every square inch of the planet’s land surface that it would obviously be catastophic for the planet’s biodiversity”. No CO2 emissions, no biodiversity. End of story, Jeff.

    This makes no sense. Are you saying there was no biodiversity before the industrial revolution started? CO2 emissions from human technology presuppose human technology, and the ecosystem has existed in one form or another for four billion years.

  78. #78 jonno
    March 23, 2009

    “Are you saying there was no biodiversity before the industrial revolution started?”

    Well, were you there Barton. Where is your evidence to back up the ‘theory’ that biodiversity existed before the industrial revolution.

    lol

  79. #79 MattB
    March 23, 2009

    TC: “I only wish you could have joined my wife, dog, and me for lunch in our garden today”

    I suppose it should come as no surprise that Tim’s wife is also barking mad!

  80. #80 Tim Curtin
    March 23, 2009

    Barton: you asked if I am “saying there was no biodiversity before the industrial revolution started?”. No, but what I am saying is that the total present populations of most if not all species including ourselves are incomparably larger now than they were in 1750. That is very largely due to the extraordinary increasing rate of GROWTH of terrestrial biomass arising from the equally extrordinary increasing rate of GROWTH of terrestrial absorption of CO2 since records began in 1958. It is strange but true that the scientific community has been led down the wrong road with its focus on (1) growth of emissions of CO2 from fossil fuels, at 2% p.a. and (2) the growth of the STOCK of CO2 in the atmosphere, at just 0.4% p.a. since 1958, from 670.7 GtC in 1958 to 818 GtC by 2008, neglecting any focus on (3) the growth of total absorption, which has been 2.5% p.a. from 1958 to 2008, as much as 0.5% p.a. faster than the growth of emissions (the oceanic annual absorptions grew at 1% pa. and the terrestrial at 4% p.a.), which explains why the growth of the annual increment in the FLOW into [CO2] was only 1.38% between 1958 and 2008 (all data used to calculate the growth rates from Raupach et al., GCP.). Most if not all of the terrestrial absorption supports increasing annual output of biomass including such prosaic items as wheat and rice.

    Now James Hansen wants us to get [CO2] back from 385 ppm (818 GtC) to 350 ppm. His arrogant letters to Kevin Rudd (April 2008) and to Barry Obama (December 2008) – and in the latter he abuses our Kev for not closing down our coal mines forthwith as he had demanded last April – did not mention any aspect of the facts in my first para. My question is what happens to the existing growth of our biomass, which derives from the FLOW of emissions, not the STOCK of [CO2], if emissions are reduced from 10.22 GtC in 2007-2008 to nil, as demanded by Solomon et al., or just 20% of the 2000 level, namely 1.63 GtC, that being the ambition for 2050 of Rudd & co. Clearly that has to mean an end to not merely the growth of terrestrial absorption but also the level, which was 3.94 GtC in 2007-2008. Marine life will also be affected, as much of its absorption is via phytoplankton and – dare I say it – coral reefs. Hansen is the driver of the train of death in reality, as he shown no awareness that reducing the partial pressure of the [CO2] will rapidly lead to efflux of CO2 from the oceans, reducing biomass there just as his plan leads to similar withering of our crops. So what I am saying is that at the 1750 level of [CO2] there will be some life and some diversity, but much less than now, and most of us homo sapiens will be gone, as wheat production etc fall from the 2008 level to about that in 1750.

  81. #81 Chris O'Neill
    March 23, 2009

    In response to me saying:

    “The logarithm function varies from minus to plus infinity. Doubling the input causes the same increase in output for any original input, i.e. increasing the input from 2 units to 4 units causes the same increase in output as increasing the input from 1 unit to 2 units”;

    I wasn’t just giving an example of how the input (or argument) to a logarithm function may vary, I was actually saying that the input to a logarithm function can ONLY vary by doubling, quadrupling, etc. Normally people give examples of something (in this case how the logarithm function varies with input) to help people who may be ignorant, arrogant, or lacking in intelligence to help them understand the concept,

    the great Curtin said:

    But why don’t you get Excel to scrub its logarithmic trend lines which apply to ANY increase in variable y relative to changes in variable x?

    thus letting us know that the great Curtin knew I was not being ironic in my “I wasn’t just giving an example” statement above. Being able to distinguish irony from the absence thereof is another of the great Curtin’s vast range of skills.

  82. #82 Tim Curtin
    March 23, 2009

    Chris, you said, displaying your total ignorance “The logarithm function varies from minus to plus infinity. Doubling the input causes the same increase in output for any original input, i.e. increasing the input from 2 units to 4 units causes the same increase in output as increasing the input from 1 unit to 2 units; I wasn’t just giving an example of how the input (or argument) to a logarithm function may vary, I was actually saying that the input to a logarithm function can ONLY vary by doubling, quadrupling, etc. Normally people give examples of something (in this case how the logarithm function varies with input) to help people who may be ignorant, arrogant, or lacking in intelligence to help them understand the concept.”. So what you are saying is there is NO change if y changes from x*2 unless and until x changes by x times 2? That is why you are the exemplar of the dunces in Kruger & Dunning. The truth which escapes you is that y changes for each and every change in x, but by the same arithmetic amount: you said ‘I was actually saying that the input to a logarithm function can ONLY vary by doubling, quadrupling, etc.” That statement explains why you are the prototype of the dunces in Kruger & Dunning.

  83. #83 Jeff Harvey
    March 23, 2009

    Gosh, I hate having to come back in here to counter Tim’s absurd arguments. But then he says something dumb like this:

    “No, but what I am saying is that the total present populations of most if not all species including ourselves are incomparably larger now than they were in 1750″.

    This is absolute garbage. There is little doubt that the vast majority of extant species (e.g. those that aren’t already extinct) are far worse off now than they were in 1750 because humans have greatly altered the surface of the planet since then. In case Tim hadn’t noticed, humans have paved, plouhged, dammed, dredged, mined, slashed-and-burned, logged, doused in synthetic organic chemicals, altered the chemical composition of the air and water, and assaulted natural systems in a myriad of other ways (e.g. through the introduction of species into non-native ecosystems). Hughes et al. (1997) in Science estimated that the planet is losing perhaps as many as 30,000 genetically distinct populations per day out of a total of between 1 and 6 billion; there is no doubt that, especially since the middle of the 1800s, humans have greatly reduced the planet’s species and genetic richness. Tim’s argumenbt is a non-starter; I don’t even think Lomborg would say something along these lines.

    The fact that between 10 and 40% of *well-studied* species are threatened wioth extinction, and that the list grows year by year, should say enough to vanquish this frankly peurile argument that increased C02 = increased biodiversity. By ‘well-studied’ I mean vascular plants and various vertebrate groups. Its like saying that turning an oligotrophic lake into a hyper-eutrophic lake by saturating it with nitrates will increase the lake’s species richness. We know that the opposite is true. Some 7 million square km of tropical forest (out of 14-17 million sq km) have been felled over the past 100 years. There is little doubt that this has led to a massive spike in the extinction rate, and as more forest goes, so will the species and populations living in them. This is hardly rocket science. So Tim, please do me a favor: stop embarrassing yourself with this discussion. If you must, stick to throwing calculations around on carbon sequestration rates. That makes little sense to me either, but at least its out of my field of expertise (not that it is in yours).

  84. #84 Tim Curtin
    March 23, 2009

    BPL: further to my last but one (#77), please note that in Australia purveyors of breakfast cereals state that c. 79% of a serving of 100 g. of cereal comprises carbohydrate, without saying where that comes from. According to Tim Lambert, it comes from fresh (non-CO2) air. In reality it relies on CO2 in the air at near ground level. I know it’s beyond the mental capacity of fat Al Gore, as he cannot grasp – has not the foggiest idea – that wheat etc cannot access CO2 that is more than say 3 meters above ground level (Freeman Dyson 2007). Emissions are known to raise yields in the immediate vicinity of coal-fired power stations.

  85. #85 Chris O'Neill
    March 23, 2009

    The great Curtin:

    you said ‘I was actually saying that the input to a logarithm function can ONLY vary by doubling, quadrupling, etc.”

    I just love the great Curtin’s ability to distinguish irony.

  86. #86 sod
    March 23, 2009

    please note that in Australia purveyors of breakfast cereals state that c. 79% of a serving of 100 g. of cereal comprises carbohydrate, without saying where that comes from. According to Tim Lambert, it comes from fresh (non-CO2) air. In reality it relies on CO2 in the air at near ground level. I know it’s beyond the mental capacity of fat Al Gore, as he cannot grasp – has not the foggiest idea – that wheat etc cannot access CO2 that is more than say 3 meters above ground level (Freeman Dyson 2007).

    this is simply stupid. even for Tim Curtin.

    facts:

    1. the wind tends to mix the air occasionally. no need to add CO2.

    2. plants were growing fine, before we started burning fossil fuels.

    3. the CO2 effect on yield is Negligible. 30% at CO2 “saturation” point of 550+ppm

  87. #87 dhogaza
    March 23, 2009

    No, but what I am saying is that the total present populations of most if not all species including ourselves are incomparably larger now than they were in 1750.

    If I didn’t know better I’d swear that someone was impersonating Tim Curtin, in the style of, oh, say, Stephen Cobert’s faux right-wing personna.

    TC’s posts do make me laugh …

  88. #88 Lee
    March 23, 2009

    Is carbon within the global terrestrial biosphere becoming more oxidized? Implications for trends in atmospheric O2

    J. T. RANDERSON * , C. A. MASIELLO†, C. J. STILL‡, T. RAHN§, H. POORTER¶ and C. B. FIELD∥

    Global Change Biology
    Volume 12 Issue 2, Pages 260 – 271
    Published Online: 20 Jan 2006
    Journal compilation © 2008 Blackwell Publishing

    Measurements of atmospheric O2 and CO2 concentrations serve as a widely used means to partition global land and ocean carbon sinks. Interpretation of these measurements has assumed that the terrestrial biosphere contributes to changing O2 levels by either expanding or contracting in size, and thus serving as either a carbon sink or source (and conversely as either an oxygen source or sink). Here, we show how changes in atmospheric O2 can also occur if carbon within the terrestrial biosphere becomes more reduced or more oxidized, even with a constant carbon pool. At a global scale, we hypothesize that increasing levels of disturbance within many biomes has favored plant functional types with lower oxidative ratios and that this has caused carbon within the terrestrial biosphere to become increasingly more oxidized over a period of decades. Accounting for this mechanism in the global atmospheric O2 budget may require a small increase in the size of the land carbon sink. In a scenario based on the Carnegie–Ames–Stanford Approach model, a cumulative decrease in the oxidative ratio of net primary production (NPP) (moles of O2 produced per mole of CO2 fixed in NPP) by 0.01 over a period of 100 years would create an O2 disequilibrium of 0.0017 and require an increased land carbon sink of 0.1 Pg C yr−1 to balance global atmospheric O2 and CO2 budgets. At present, however, it is challenging to directly measure the oxidative ratio of terrestrial ecosystem exchange and even more difficult to detect a disequilibrium caused by a changing oxidative ratio of NPP. Information on plant and soil chemical composition complement gas exchange approaches for measuring the oxidative ratio, particularly for understanding how this quantity may respond to various global change processes over annual to decadal timescales.

  89. #89 jonno
    March 23, 2009

    “If I didn’t know better I’d swear that someone was impersonating Tim Curtin, in the style of, oh, say, Stephen Cobert’s faux right-wing personna.”

    What?!! I thought that this TC was some kind of ironic take on a right-wing persona.

    Are you telling me that this guy is serious? What, no… sure it’s all a big joke.

    Or maybe, just maybe he could be right, that the world’s animals are much happier than 250 years ago. Skip dee do da

    That is front garden is filled with new and undiscovered species (maybe he lives on another planet??)

    Fat Al thinks that air mixes and is just fat.

  90. #90 Bernard J.
    March 23, 2009

    Lee.

    At present, however, it is challenging to directly measure the oxidative ratio of terrestrial ecosystem exchange and even more difficult to detect a disequilibrium caused by a changing oxidative ratio of NPP.

    Randerson’s et al problem is that they do not know how to implement a Curtin Super-RegressionTM. They are obviously incompetent frauds and liars, or else they would know how to properly model the infinite breadth of the biotic and abiotic systems of the planet using such Regressions.

    Along with the [Harold Pierce Jnr t-TestTM](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2008/03/new_cei_ad_al_gore_we_call_him.php#comment-789794), scientists would have all they need to understand the biology and climatology of the planet.

    If only they knew.

    Perhaps they should consult a regression-savvy economist – after all, economists know how to understand and to predict complex systems better than anyone.

    Oh, that’s right…

  91. #91 Barton Paul Levenson
    March 24, 2009

    Tim Curtin writes:

    the total present populations of most if not all species including ourselves are incomparably larger now than they were in 1750.

    I’ve never seen any evidence of that. Citation, please?

  92. #92 Barton Paul Levenson
    March 24, 2009

    Tim Curtin writes:

    wheat etc cannot access CO2 that is more than say 3 meters above ground level (Freeman Dyson 2007).

    This is completely wrong. CO2 is not stratified. The troposphere is turbulent and a CO2 molecule near ground level may be a mile in the air an hour later, or vice versa.

  93. #93 Bernard J.
    March 24, 2009

    Radium Water Curtin says:

    they have no alternative employment to offer the 50% of Sumatrans dependent on plantations and linked smallholdings for their livelihood if they succeed in their declared aim of having these industries prevented from expanding if not closed.

    Why cannot the degraded grasslands to which I referred in an earlier post be used for palm plantation, in the place of the highly biodiverse and high-ecofunctioning rainforests, which also have high potential for tourism, for carbon sequestration, and for novel products if managed sustainably?

    According to your regressions, how much of the original rainforest area needs to be converted to plantation before a satisfactory level of ‘employment’ is achieved? According to your regressions, how much of the original rainforest area can be destroyed without compromising the viability of species and ecosystem functions/services?

    According to your regressions, how much of the original rainforest area can be lost forever without negatively impacting upon the native communities of Indonesia?

    No, but what I am saying is that the total present populations of most if not all species including ourselves are incomparably larger now than they were in 1750.

    What an extraordinary claim.

    You must surely have a profoundly comprehensive literature review upon which to base this statement. Please direct us to it.

    Where you do not rely upon scientific studies of others, you must as surely have conducted your own analyses (regressions?). Please supply us with the methodologies and result of any such analysis.

    That is very largely due to the extraordinary increasing rate of GROWTH of terrestrial biomass arising from the equally extraordinary [sic] increasing rate of GROWTH of terrestrial absorption of CO2 since records began in 1958.

    Data?

    My question is what happens to the existing growth of our biomass, which derives from the FLOW of emissions, not the STOCK of [CO2], if emissions are reduced from 10.22 GtC in 2007-2008 to nil, as demanded by Solomon et al., or just 20% of the 2000 level, namely 1.63 GtC, that being the ambition for 2050 of Rudd & co.

    Can you show us the details of this “existing growth of… biomass”, with a breakdown based upon ecosystems, upon significant taxa, and upon human production? Can you specifically show us how your regressions isolated covariables such as temperature, rainfall, technological innovation, fossil-fuel-driven mechanisation, fertilisation and plant ‘improvement’ from the impact of CO2 emissions, and can you show your regressions that determine which parts of the biosphere did not benefit from emission-enhanced biomass increase?

    Can you respond to the suite of questions:

    Most especially, can you describe how you incorporated into your analysis largely non-parametric variables including: evolving cultural practices, political influences, technological innovation, anthropogenic modifications to the living and non-living elements of the biosphere, ecosystems’ functions and responses over time, human population trends over time (at greater scales than occurs with respect to fossil carbon emission), natural climatic/astronomic fluctuations and cycles, global stochastic events (such as vulcanism), and all other pertinent variables that I have omitted in the typing of this sentence?

    And speaking of variables, what exactly is included in your analysis? Just as interestingly, what variables were excluded from your analysis? What criteria did you employ in their exclusion?

    Why have you selected a regression approach to do the analysis? What alternative techniques did you consider, and why did you exclude them?

    What are the relative contributions of the tested variables to productivity? How did you test your regression model after deriving your coefficients? How did you test your models again other models in the literature?

    that [so offended](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2009/01/windschuttle_hoaxed.php#comment-1455305) you that you could only reply with “What a load of rubbish. If you are so smart and such a veritable polymath, write your own paper incorporating that tosh.”

    Whilst we’re at it, can you address the questions [here](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2009/01/windschuttle_hoaxed.php#comment-1353081), [here](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2009/01/windschuttle_hoaxed.php#comment-1353170), [here](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2009/01/windschuttle_hoaxed.php#comment-1355158), and [here](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2009/01/windschuttle_hoaxed.php#comment-1449005) that you left unanswered?

    Marine life will also be affected, as much of its absorption is via phytoplankton and – dare I say it – coral reefs.

    Can you show us the details of your regressions that separate out CO2 enhancement of oceanic biomass increase, from enhanced return of any such increase to partially-oxidised forms of carbon, such as methane, or back to CO2 following respiration further along the trophic web? Can you show us also how your posited increase in marine biomass that is facilitated by CO2 emission compensates for the impacts resulting form the accompanying decrease of pH?

    Hansen is the driver of the train of death in reality, as he shown no awareness that reducing the partial pressure of the [CO2] will rapidly lead to efflux of CO2 from the oceans, reducing biomass there just as his plan leads to similar withering of our crops.

    For those who are aware of what it is that you’re claiming, “reducing the partial pressure of the concentration of CO2” is merely a naïve tautology that reflects the scientific ignorance of the one who made the statement. For anyone who is scientifically literate, but who might not know what your point is, your mangling of jargon is indecipherable.

    So what I am saying is that at the 1750 level of [CO2] there will be some life and some diversity, but much less than now, and most of us homo sapiens will be gone, as wheat production etc fall from the 2008 level to about that in 1750.

    Can you show us your references and/or regressions that support this claim? Specifically, can you explain how going back to a 1750 concentration of atmospheric CO2 would leave only “some” biodiversity, compared with the biodiversity that was present in 1749?

    BPL: further to my last but one (#77), please note that in Australia purveyors of breakfast cereals state that c. 79% of a serving of 100 g. of cereal comprises carbohydrate, without saying where that comes from. According to Tim Lambert, it comes from fresh (non-CO2) air.

    Can you explain what the relevance of the carbohydrate content of breakfast cereal is in a discussion of photosynthetic productivity, and can you indicate exactly where Tim Lambert claimed that “it comes from fresh (non-CO2) air”?

    In reality it relies on CO2 in the air at near ground level. I know it’s beyond the mental capacity of fat Al Gore, as he cannot grasp – has not the foggiest idea – that wheat etc cannot access CO2 that is more than say 3 meters above ground level (Freeman Dyson 2007).

    I can only sit agog at your muddled understanding of convection, of turbulence, and of diffusion, especially [as I have previously pointed you](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2008/03/remember_eg_becks_dodgy.php#comment-813602) to Lemon et al (Science 174:4007 pp371-378, 1971), who published a paper entitled “The sun’s work in a corn field”, and where they both predicted and measured CO2 in the atmosphere from the ground to 600cm above the ground, from 11.45am to 12.15pm.

    Just to remind you, at ground level in a cornfield in the noonday sun, ambient CO2 increased by about 2ppm, and the greatest decrease occurred at approximately 100-120cm above the ground. This decrease was a whole 6ppm, which is a 1.8% of the contemporary atmospheric CO2 concentration, and is hardly “all the carbon dioxide” that you were [so bothered about](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2008/03/remember_eg_becks_dodgy.php#comment-811073).

    Curiously, and as Barton pointed out, this minor drop in CO2 concentration, due to the aforementioned processes of convection, of turbulence, and of diffusion, allows the corn to access CO2 from far higher than 3 metres above the ground.

    You’re still struggling with science as much as ever, aren’t you Curtin? Those almost five decades as a “professional economist” don’t seem to have helped with your abilities in science in any way at all, and they certainly give you no right to compare your work career in economics with Jeff Harvey’s in science.

    Of course, it could be that [Tam the lapdog](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2009/01/windschuttle_hoaxed.php#comment-1453017) is ghost-writing for you. Given the amount of loud barking, and the chronic self-unawareness of the lack of appropriate capacities, that are displayed by the Tim Curtin persona, one could almost be persuaded that it is a primped pug who is depositing so much fæcal nonsense on these threads.

  94. #94 dhogaza
    March 24, 2009

    I’ve never seen any evidence of that. Citation, please?

    The “all” case is easy to disprove, given that a bunch of species have gone extinct since 1750.

  95. #95 Tim Curtin
    March 24, 2009

    Barton:

    Me. Think about it. My previous response to you gave the facts for both oceanuc and terrestrial absorption. How does all that CO2 manifest if not in biomass? what happens to that biomass if not eaten? Given a constant ratio between eaten and not otherwise utilised (eg by forestry), quantum eaten has risen pro rata with total absorption, eg by 4% p.a. since 1958 on land. Eaten by who or what? By all extant species over that period; some have gone, others have arrived (Dawrin qv).

    BTW, I never said “all” but “not all”.

  96. #96 jonno
    March 24, 2009

    “others have arrived (Dawrin qv)”

    Really, where from outer space???!?!?!

    No, they existed before being discovered by humans, they did not just arrive. Evolution does not work like that.

    And since it’s the year of Darwin, you could try getting the surname spelt correctly.

  97. #97 dhogaza
    March 24, 2009

    Timmy you said “most if not all”, not “not all”.

    Timmy, not even Lassie can save you.

    How does all that CO2 manifest if not in biomass?

    In increased accumulation in the atmosphere and ocean, Timmy.

  98. #98 Bernard J.
    March 25, 2009

    Tim Curtin.

    It surprises me not that besides trying to flog your radium water ideas, you are also wont to pull rabbits from hats…

    others have arrived (Dawrin [sic] qv)

    The trouble is that your glib assurance that evolution is replacing species, as they become extinct, does not hold up.

    As you insist on being the king of turkeys (apologies to all non-Curtin Meleagrids, and any other potentially offended Galliforms), let’s consider the extinction rates of birds.

    Stuart Pimm et al in another [PNAS paper](http://www.pnas.org/content/103/29/10941.full.pdf+html) have this to say:

    Unqualified, the statement that ≈1.3% of the ≈10,000 presently known bird species have become extinct since A.D. 1500 yields an estimate of ≈26 extinctions per million species per year (or 26 E/MSY). This is higher than the benchmark rate of ≈1 E/MSY before human impacts, but is a serious underestimate. First, Polynesian expansion across the Pacific also exterminated many species well before European explorations. Second, three factors increase the rate: (i) The number of known extinctions before 1800 is increasing as taxonomists describe new species from skeletal remains. (ii) One should calculate extinction rates over the years since taxonomists described the species. Most bird species were described only after 1850. (iii) Some species are probably extinct; there is reluctance to declare them so prematurely. Thus corrected, recent extinction rates are ≈100 E/MSY. In the last decades, the rate is less than 50 E/MSY, but would be 150 E/MSY were it not for conservation efforts. Increasing numbers of extinctions are on continents, whereas previously most were on islands. We predict a 21st century rate of ≈1,000 E/MSY. Extinction threatens 12% of bird species; another 12% have small geographical ranges and live where human actions rapidly destroy their habitats. If present forest losses continue, extinction rates will reach 1,500 E/MSY by the century’s end. Invasive species, expanding human technologies, and global change will harm additional species. Birds are poor models for predicting extinction rates for other taxa. Human actions threaten higher fractions of other well known taxa than they do birds. Moreover, people take special efforts to protect birds.

    Interesting, isn’t it? At least 130 avian species have been lost in the last 500 years, when only 5 would be expected to become extinct if one assumes an average species life of 1 million years…

    Except it’s worse than that – it has [been determined](http://www.amnh.org/science/biodiversity/extinction/Intro/OngoingProcess.html) that a high rate of avian extinction would be one species every 400 years (=1.25 species every 500 years). Thus avian extinctions, from 1500 to date, would appear to be more than one hundred times the ‘background’ rate were humans not impacting. This rate is only going to increase substantially in the near future as the many accumulating endangered species tip over the edge and add to the overall loss.

    And this is for an iconic taxon that attracts much public sympathy and response.

    Anyway, if you can point to the >130 new species that have evolved in the last 500 years to replace the lost species, I would be most interested. Please note: cheating by reference to domesticated strains is not permited, as this has nothing to do with evolution per se.

  99. #99 Jeff Harvey
    March 25, 2009

    Bernard, well said! The actual extinction rate shouild be on the order of 1 species per million species per year, given the average ‘shelf life’of a species in about a million years (more for insects, less for many mammals). But we know that the extinction rate is 100 or perhaps 1,000 times the natural background rate. Some authjorities like Ed Wilson, Tom Lovejoy and Peter Raven believe thast this is an *underestimate*.

    There’s little doubt we are into the planet’s 6th major extinction episode, which is unique in that this is the first to be driven by one of the planet’s evolved inhabitants (us). Amongst scientists there is virtually 100% agreement on this point. Curtin is wading deeper and deeper into an intellectual quicksand pit when he starts suggesting (as he appears to be doing here) that the current extinction rate is being offset by the rate of speciation. This is poatently not true. Given that some 50% of the world’s species-rich tropical wet forests have disappeared over the past century, where does Curtin think the species that inhabited and depended on them have gone? The area extinction models of exponential decay first preoposed by McCarthur and Wilson and later refined by Terborgh, Soule and others have accurately predicted extinction rates of well-known species in both temperate and tropical realms. In fact, many are underestimates because the models are based on habitat loss alone and exclude other anthropogenic disturbances such as pollution, invasive species etc.

    So Curtin is drifting well out into no-mans land on this area.

  100. #100 sod
    March 25, 2009

    . How does all that CO2 manifest if not in biomass? what happens to that biomass if not eaten? Given a constant ratio between eaten and not otherwise utilised (eg by forestry), quantum eaten has risen pro rata with total absorption, eg by 4% p.a. since 1958 on land. Eaten by who or what?

    Tim, you are using a complicated term (biomass) without understanding it. and (as always) your approach is simplicistic.

    you use biomass as meaning “living biomass”. the best counter example is the dead wood in Australian forests, that we saw going back into atmosphere quite recently. (whole lakes being filled up with dying algae is another example)

    it is simply unclear, how long such temporary storages will contain the CO2. and they often significantly change their environment. (nothing else alive in those lakes..)

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