Plimer busted by Media Watch

The volcanic eruption in Iceland produced a net reduction in emissions because the decrease in emissions from all the grounded flights was more than the total CO2 from the volcano. So naturally Ian Plimer has been repeating his discredited claims that volcanoes produce more emissions than humans. Media Watch busts him for it.

Comments

  1. #1 MapleLeaf
    May 4, 2010

    To borrow a phrase that my dad liked to use for daft people. Plimer is a flaming idiot.

    OK, that Apple iPad advert on the RHS side bar is driving me crazy.

  2. #2 Dave Andrews
    May 4, 2010

    Tim,

    The volcano is still erupting so don’t count your chickens etc.

  3. #3 MapleLeaf
    May 4, 2010

    Talking of flaming idiots, hi Dave @2 ;)

    This has to do with the CO2 emitted during by the volcano the days when the aircraft were grounded. Tim hasn’t ‘counted his chickens’, Plimer on the other hand has already counted his and was quick off the mark to use this as an opportunity to spout more mis-information.

    I can only conclude that a) you are OK with Plimer’s disseminating misinformation or b) you agree with Plimer’s absurd beliefs on this issue. Which is it? Or is it both?

  4. #4 Brian D
    May 4, 2010

    Dave Andrews,

    But please do count the emissions.

    And please don’t change the subject. Plimer has been caught in another outright lie, and your attempted rebuttal is “hey, look over there, single data points that may, in time, mean he’s less fractally wrong over a very small time scale”.

  5. #5 Alan
    May 4, 2010

    Tim missed the point. Volcano CO2 is natural, like organic vegetables and other hippy claptrap, but jet CO2 comes from mining and industry and human virtue. I know which I prefer.

  6. #6 Stu
    May 4, 2010

    Alan, you just reminded me of the funniest post by Tim ever

    As we know, anything natural has got to be good for you :-D

  7. #7 savemejeebus
    May 4, 2010

    If you use Dr. Colin Macpherson’s (University of Durham) estimate of 150,000 tonnes of CO2 per day from the Eyjafjallajökull volcano, you get a net reduction of 56,445 tonnes of CO2 per day. If you use Patrick Allard’s (Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris) top range estimate of 300,000 tonnes per day, you get a net increase of 93,555 tonnes of CO2 per day.

    I got the figures from here:

    http://bit.ly/planevolcano

    Feel free to correct my maths if I am wrong.

  8. #8 Stu
    May 4, 2010

    Open question:

    Who is more insane, ‘David Mabus’ or Gene Ray?

    I think David wins, because Gene is together enough to collect all his ramblings together into one impossible-to-read, never ending scrawl.

  9. #9 pough
    May 4, 2010

    I disagree. Gene Ray is crazy enough to think that people want to read his stuff. Mabus is at least sane enough to know that nobody wants to read his stuff, so he has to post on other peoples’ blogs and entirely inappropriately.

  10. #10 Stu
    May 4, 2010

    Well, people do read Gene Ray’s stuff, if only for a laugh. My bro once gave me a timecube card claiming that I had four simultaneous birthdays :)

  11. #11 Stu
    May 4, 2010

    Anyway, back on topic, I still can’t believe that Plimer stuck by his volcano argument when he debated Monbiot. It was clear that Monbiot has gone to a reliable source, the USGS, but this failed to sway Plimer.

    But then, I guess Monbiot didn’t deliver the knockout blow, which would be to challenge Plimer that if he’s correct with his assertion that volcanoes produce more CO2 than human activity, why does the rise in CO2 correlate so well with human activity, and so poorly with volcanic activity? (Point to CO2 curves from various locations around the globe circa 1991 at this point.)

    That Plimer is a geologist… well it beggars belief. If I worked in his department I’d wander down the hallway every day to challenge him on this assertion.

  12. #12 ChrisC
    May 4, 2010

    The fact that volcanos occasionally erupt has zip, zero, nada and nothing to do with climate change (except, perhaps, for the use of events like Pinutubo for the validation of GCMs).

    We know (to a reasonable degree of accuracy) how much CO2 humans dump into the atmosphere and we know (to a reasonable degree of accuracy) the radiative forcing that results from this additional CO2. We also know (to a reasonable degree of accuracy) what the climate’s sensitivity to this additional forcing is.

    The fact that volcanism occurs on planet Earth does not effect any of our understanding of the above. Plimer is, as usual, on another planet.

  13. #13 Stu
    May 4, 2010

    Chris, I think they have a lot to do with climate change. By dismissing them out of hand like that you do leave yourself open to attack from the clueless.

    It depends what timescales you’re talking about, and volcanoes form an interesting (and, indeed, crucial) part of our understanding of climate change on geological timescales.

    But can volcanoes explain recent climate change? Hell no.

  14. #14 Keith Harwood
    May 4, 2010

    I am puzzled by this `CO2 is plant food’ bit. Many, many years ago, as I recall in primary school, I learned that plant growth has one limiting factor. In most of the world the limit is water. In mid-high latitudes it’s sunlight. In really high latitudes it’s water again (for plants frozen water is the same as no water). In tropical rain-forests the limit is trace nutrients; there’s practically none in the soil, it’s all in the biomass and leaf litter. The thing was that CO2 was never the limiting factor so more CO2 won’t give more plant life. Has this changed in the last fifty years?

  15. #15 Connor
    May 4, 2010

    God it’s frustrating to see the ABC promoting such woo and gibberish. Really, they need a new standard that says only scientifically trained people should be able to report on science.

  16. #16 harvey
    May 4, 2010

    Connor, the problem is that the networks and major newspapers are under immense financial pressure, many i expect to fold in the next 10 years. So why be worried about truth or investigative journalism? Rather they are falling to the trap of the Tabloids in only reporting on sensational events. To heck with science and truth.

    The question thus becomes how to promulgate the truth with the new internet savvy youth.

  17. #17 Agnostic
    May 4, 2010

    Tim,

    I recall that ln April 2009 when Plimer’s book Heaven + Earth – global warming: the missing science was published, you did a devastating demolition job on his views. It is difficult to believe that after that Plimer has any standing as a scientist, at least where global warming is concerned.

    At the time, I wrote a short critique (Heaven+Earth and Science Fiction) in which I noted that Plimer had obviously not read In Chapter 9 of the IPCC 4th Assessment Report, which goes to considerable detail to show that human activity is responsible for by far the largest CO2 emissions.

    The gas content of volcanic eruptions can be and is measured accurately because it has a unique isotope. Measurements show that volcanoes do indeed emit CO2, on average in the order of 150 million tonnes annually.

    Emissions arising from human activity have been accurately calculated as being responsible for over 26 billion tonnes of CO2 entering the atmosphere annually. In other words, volcanic eruptions are responsible for less than 1% of atmospheric CO2, the balance coming almost entirely from human activity.

    It is possible that Plimer’s claims are correct and everyone else (except Lord Monckton) is wrong?

  18. #18 Agnostic
    May 4, 2010

    Tim,

    I recall that last year when Plimer’s book Heaven + Earth – global warming: the missing science was published, you did a devastating demolition job on his views. It is difficult to believe after that Plimer has any standing as a scientist, or that his views on global warming have any credibility.

    At the time, I wrote a short critique (Heaven+Earth and Science Fiction) in which I noted that Plimer had obviously not read Chapter 9 of the IPCC 4th Assessment Report, which goes to considerable detail to show that human activity is responsible for by far the largest CO2 emissions.

    The gas content of volcanic eruptions can be and is measured accurately because it has a unique isotope. Measurements show that volcanoes do indeed emit CO2, on average in the order of 150 million tonnes annually.

    Emissions arising from human activity have been accurately calculated as being responsible for over 26 billion tonnes of CO2 entering the atmosphere annually. In other words, volcanic eruptions are responsible for less than 1% of atmospheric CO2, the balance coming almost entirely from human activity.

    It is possible that Plimer’s claims are correct and everyone else (except Lord Monckton) is wrong?

  19. #19 Tony Sidaway
    May 4, 2010

    Here’s a link to a rather interesting piece on volcanoes and climate by Tamino; it contains a link to another piece of his that debunks Plimer. He explains how some large volcanic eruptions have produced a negative blip in carbon dioxide overall, in part by temporarily creating cooler conditions that improve the effectiveness of natural carbon sinks. The amount of carbon dioxide given out in such an eruption is typically negligible compared to global emissions.

    http://tamino.wordpress.com/2009/08/19/co2-and-the-volcanoes/

    To echo other commentators, presumably as a geologist Plimer should know this stuff. And if he disagrees, he at least ought to be able to explain where all the scientists who disagree with him, including the USGS, have erred in their calculations.

  20. #20 jemima
    May 4, 2010

    Innumeracy! – a cruel affliction but happily only one in three geologists suffers from it. Also, Dave Andrews.

  21. #21 Douglas McClean
    May 4, 2010

    Dear lord. The comment thread on that piece is a deep, wide, flowing river of bullshit-caked insanity mixed with insanity-laden bullshit. Where and how did so many Plimer–of all the deceitful idiots–fans come from?

  22. #22 dhogaza
    May 4, 2010

    Keith Harwood asks:

    I am puzzled by this `CO2 is plant food’ bit. Many, many years ago, as I recall in primary school, I learned that plant growth has one limiting factor…The thing was that CO2 was never the limiting factor so more CO2 won’t give more plant life. Has this changed in the last fifty years?

    No, nothing has changed. The picture is more complex than you were taught, so think of it as being more a rule-of-thumb than absolute truth. Adding CO2 can cause growth in open agriculture even if strictly speaking it’s not THE limiting factor, however that growth might be more weedy without producing more (say) protein and carbs in seeds (which we often use for food) because the more productive growth might be limited by other nutrient availability. Plants can turn their metabolic output to different uses.

    This is my lay understanding.

    However, this basic principle is why tree rings can be temperature proxies – paleoclimate types carefully seek out trees that have long lived in conditions with plenty of water, sun, soil nutrients but where temperature severely limits their ability to make use of them. A rise in temps then leads to more utilization of this nutrient/water/sun bonanza, which means faster growth that are reflected in tree rings (this, too, is more complex, because tree ring structure is also impacted).

  23. #23 carrot eater
    May 4, 2010

    Regarding emissions saved due to grounded planes.

    I’m curious about this. Didn’t the airlines fly some extra flights in the aftermath, so that they could transport the stranded passengers, as well as accommodate the new ones?

    Any extra make-up flights would cut into the saved emissions. On the other hand, flights are often only 70-80% full, so you can move some stranded passengers without scheduling extra flights, just by filling up those planes to 100%.

    Special extra train services would also have to be included, in case anybody added to their schedules to help mpve the stranded people.

  24. #24 Marion Delgado
    May 4, 2010

    The comments there make me shudder. Especially when I think they’ll bear young or have already done so.

  25. #25 Marion Delgado
    May 5, 2010

    This one was among the more special:

    Remember when we used to call it the greenhouse effect – caused by CFCs which were then banned in refrigerators and air conditioning, along with carbon-monoxide (hence unleaded petrol and catylitic converters), not to mention smoke particulate matter (the banning of open fires, incinerators and wood/coal burning home heating appliances).

    It takes a certain talent to get that much wrong in such a short space. And the explanatory parens are a nice touch.

  26. #26 Stu
    May 5, 2010

    Marion, that one is extra special! It then doesn’t help that the first reply goes to the other extreme and claims that CFCs are ozone depleting gases, not GHGs. I think it gets sorted out eventually! But really, how does someone become so misinformed? I can only imagine the answer is ‘willfully’.

  27. #27 John
    May 5, 2010

    The good news is kids usually rebel against parents. Most denialosaurs are just that – men 45+. People my age (I’m 23) get it. It would be interesting to see if anyone has studied that changing patterns of global warming acceptance to see which age/gender groups have changed their views the most.

  28. #28 MFS
    May 5, 2010

    John,

    I think you’re pretty much right.

    There is a pretty good correlation between climate change denial and conservative politics, you may have read many comments here and in other blogs where deniers just have to bring up Al Gore, leftist conspiracies, etc… The reason I bring this up is because there is also a very good correlation between age and conservative policies. Here in Australia the main bastion of Coalition voters are the over-55 age cohort. If you’re interested in this topic, [Possum Comitatus](http://blogs.crikey.com.au/pollytics/) does a good job of commenting on a lot of this in a regular basis.

  29. #29 eddie
    May 5, 2010

    Slightly OT but an interesting read;

    http://crookedtimber.org/2010/05/03/the-oregon-petition-a-case-study-in-agnotology/#more-15678

    Exec summ: The Oregon Petition is basketball.

  30. #30 Agnostic
    May 5, 2010

    John @ 27

    Careful you don’t paint too many with the deniasours brush. I’m 79 and have never doubted (though I have questioned) the science underlying global warming and its major manifestations climate change, melting of land based ice, seal level rise and ocean acidification.

    You do not have to be young or old to be a denier of these outcomes or their causes (CO2 is not the only culprit) but you do have to be knowledgeable and informed.

  31. #31 Dan Olner
    May 5, 2010

    From Media Watch:

    >Jason Morrison: … and I just, I wonder what this does to all their theories?

    >Prof. Ian Plimer: It completely stuffs them, we know that.

    Oooooh. I mean – Plimer can’t possibly believe this, can he? Am I right, do you think, in assuming that he *must* know that’s nonsense?

  32. #32 MadScientist
    May 5, 2010

    @Keith Harwood: Looking back at journal articles from 90 years ago (and even further back) there have been many experiments studying plant growth and CO2 in the root zone and in the atmosphere. The answer is yes, plants grow better with more CO2 and in controlled conditions. In some cases the controlled addition of CO2 may even yield an economic advantage, but for the most part people just don’t do it. Now out in the wild, the existing experiments have mixed results and even today there are numerous experiments attempting to study the effects of increased *atmospheric* CO2 on specific species of plants and in conditions which are not as controlled as the much older experiments I mentioned. I haven’t had time to follow that literature in the past 2 years though; too bogged down working on CO2 instrumentation.

  33. #33 DavidCOG
    May 5, 2010

    > Where and how did so many Plimer–of all the deceitful idiots–fans come from?

    “We have 72 virgins ready and waiting for you – just slip on this bomb vest.”

    “These chalk tablets will cure your cancer – just swipe your credit card here.”

    “Jebus will lead you to the VIP room, where all your family and friends will be waiting – we recommend that you tithe 10% of your income each month. Bank account and signature here.”

    It seems there is no end to what some people will believe if it’s what they want to hear.

  34. #34 el Gordo
    May 5, 2010

    Stu

    ‘But can volcanoes explain recent climate change?’

    No, but there is a consensus that the Dalton Minimum was a combo of low sunspot numbers and volcanic eruptions.

  35. #35 Watchingthedeniers.wordpress.com
    May 5, 2010

    Great that they caught it… but, ahhhh can I say with some modesty I spotted on 21 April?

    http://watchingthedeniers.wordpress.com/2010/04/21/ian-plimer-caught-out-again-co2-is-magic-argument-continues-to-lie-about-volcanoes/

    Ian Plimer caught out again: “CO2 is magic” argument, continues to lie about volcanoes

    …Plimer also continues to make his false claim:

    >“Professor Plimer says volcanoes emit far more carbon gas into the earth’s atmosphere than human’s 3 per cent annual carbon release….”

    Plimer has been told again, and again that he is wrong. But he refuses to admit it. Skeptical Science easily dismisses his argument…

  36. #36 Watchingthedeniers.wordpress.com
    May 5, 2010

    Also, I have the recent IPA publication ["Climate Change: the Facts" which as an essay by Plimer](http://watchingthedeniers.wordpress.com/2010/04/15/new-denialist-campaign-from-ipa-the-counter-offensive-has-begun/).

    He claims that the globe is in fact *cooling*.

    His references are the usual shoddy stuff, and mostly do not date past 2000- therefore ignoring the last decades worth of literature.

    I will be publishing my review of the book (with exceprts), and Plimers claims in particular soon for those interested.

    I’ve taken a keen interest in watching Plimer, especially in how he trolls the rural areas peddling his nonsense.

  37. #37 John
    May 5, 2010

    Agnostic-who’s-never-doubted-the-evidence-even-though-your name-suggests-otherwise-and-you-mention-other-causes-of-warming-for-no-reason, I qualified my comment with the word “most”.

  38. #38 TomG
    May 5, 2010

    Hey John @ 27…
    Careful where you wave that age brush!

    I’m a fair bit north of 45, but I have enough knowledge of AGW to know that we are in deep dark fecal matter.
    I tend to agree that some older people have trouble accepting the fact that our planet is warming, but older people are also the ones that have actually been around long enough to see the change in our seasons and are the first to point out that things have changed.

    On the other hand, while most seem to get it, I have been surprised by the number of younger people I’ve come across that think there’s not a problem.
    Surprised and very troubled by that fact.

    I live in a blue collar town with a strong union presence and we also have an university and a college. There should be no shortage of information floating about, but we also have a newspaper that editorially is in complete denial of man made climate change.

  39. #39 Dave Andrews
    May 5, 2010

    Tim,

    You also say that there was a net reduction in emissions from reduced flights but have you factored in the extra emissions incurred by poeple as they had to find different ways of travelling home?

    Tim Harford of the FT and the presenter of ‘More or Less’ on BBC Radio 4, was trapped in Russia (from memory) and had to make a convoluted way back to the UK. He told Radio 4’s PM news programme that the emissions he incurred getting back were about the same as if he had been able to take the flight.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/programmes/more_or_less/default.stm

  40. #40 MFS
    May 5, 2010

    TomG @ 38,

    You’re right and I should have qualified my comment above (#28).

    When I go back to my home town, which happens only every 5 years or so and where I haven’t lived for close to 20, I am always astounded by the change, for I remember it as it was.

    However I also see a lot of the opposite. People do not notice gradual change so easily and often cannot see it at all. I think Captain Col, some of you may have come across him, is a good example. He stated climate change was shit because the water level on the stretch of coast he lives in is the same as it ever was. And he felt he spoke from authority due to the length of his observation, not realising that A) his beach is not the world; and B) you would be hard put to detect a change of mm or even cm by looking at a beach.

  41. #41 Stu
    May 5, 2010

    Sure that’s possible Dave, the net reduction was probably smaller because people were driving rather than flying.

    But it’s all very small fry in the global carbon balance, the point is that even if the top end estimate of emissions from the volcano was correct (300,000 tons per day), and was sustained for a whole year, the volcano would emit 0.11Gt of CO2. Compare this to over 26Gt/year for all human activity.

    This level of volcanic activity is not unusual, so it’s just contributing to the average annual global emissions which, according to the USGS, average somewhere around 0.13Gt. Obviously a large, long lived eruption can produce more than this (as the calculation above implies), but it’s still nowhere near the amount emitted by human activity. Which is what Plimer just doesn’t seem to get!

  42. #42 Deep Climate
    May 5, 2010

    Now if only MediaWatch would look into the National Post …

    National Post’s Lawrence Solomon touts global cooling, part 1: Hiding the decline in Arctic sea ice

    Incredibly, Solomon even claims that the latest data “acts to disprove” models projecting continued decline of Arctic sea ice.

    http://deepclimate.org/2010/05/05/national-posts-lawrence-solomon-touts-global-cooling-part-1-hiding-the-decline-in-arctic-sea-ice/

  43. #43 el Gordo
    May 5, 2010

    TomG

    …’been around long enough to see the change in our seasons’…

    Most would have been around to witness the last cool PDO between 1946-76 and know that natural variability dominates AGW.

    Think outside the square and you will see the planet cooling, even though the temperature data suggests otherwise.

  44. #44 Gaz
    May 5, 2010

    I’m a fair bit north of 45, but I have enough knowledge of AGW to know that we are in deep dark fecal matter.

    Me too.

  45. #45 David Horton
    May 5, 2010

    “Think outside the square and you will see the planet cooling, even though the temperature data suggests otherwise.” from El Gordo must be eligible for some kind of Denierworld prize, surely?

  46. #46 TomG
    May 6, 2010

    Gordo
    You’re a f–king idiot.

  47. #47 MFS
    May 6, 2010

    El Gordo,

    Think outside the square Hold the graph upside down and you will see the planet cooling, even though the temperature data suggests otherwise

    After all that’s how Loony Lovegood reads The Quibbler.

  48. #48 el Gordo
    May 6, 2010

    You’re new around here, my compatriots think I’m el Gor the village idiot.

    What the (sheol) is f…king idiot?

  49. #49 James Haughton
    May 6, 2010

    El Gordo, while there was a “cool” PDO from 1950-1980, its long term average is zero; it is trendless. The same is not true of the temperature record. Subtract the PDO and you still get [a warming trend](http://www.skepticalscience.com/Is-Pacific-Decadal-Oscillation-the-Smoking-Gun.html). Also the PDO, like El Nino, is more of a rearrangement of hot and cool areas than an overall heating or cooling (which would violate conservation of energy), so is unlikely to be a cause of global temperature change.
    BTW, I’d like to acknowledge that compared to most of the adullamites that post here, you are good humoured and level headed (though still wrong).

  50. #50 el Gordo
    May 6, 2010

    Well, thanks James. There is a lot we don’t know.

    ‘We now know, however, that the natural variations of atmospheric and ocean circulation features within the climate system produces global average heat changes that are substantially larger than what was known in 2005. The IPCC models have failed to adequately simulate this effect.’

    Roger Pielke Sr

  51. #51 Watchingthedeniers.wordpress.com
    May 6, 2010

    El Gordo, I think you find Pielke said this:

    “Humans are significantly altering the global climate, but in a variety of diverse ways beyond the radiative effect of carbon dioxide. The IPCC assessments have been too conservative in recognizing the importance of these human climate forcings as they alter regional and global climate. These assessments have also not communicated the inability of the models to accurately forecast the spread of possibilities of future climate. The forecasts, therefore, do not provide any skill in quantifying the impact of different mitigation strategies on the actual climate response that would occur…”

    Class quote mining from the deniers.

  52. #52 marco
    May 6, 2010

    Lets play the Plimer game.

    First concede the point that man made emissions (26 G tonnes) are only 3 per cent that of volcanoes. This means that volcanoes must be emitting roughly 867 G tonnes per annum (26/3*100 = 866.66’).

    As terrestrial volcanoes have been measured to emit just 1 per cent of man made emissions then the unmeasured sub sea volcanoes are emitting 866 G tonnes.

    Given that Plimer asserts that there is nothing extraordinary about this sub sea activity, I am going to assume that it has been happening every year since at least the advent of the industrial revolution.

    Wouldn’t such a rate of emission have a marked effect on ocean chemistry? Any boffins out there who could take this a bit further?

  53. #53 Connor
    May 6, 2010

    Too bad Plimer (and his Rural ABC listeners) are unlikely to have seen Catalyst yesterday – high CO2 crops display less nutrients and higher toxicity

    http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/stories/2891924.htm

  54. #54 Stu
    May 6, 2010

    >First concede the point that man made emissions (26 G tonnes) are only 3 per cent that of volcanoes. This means that volcanoes must be emitting roughly 867 G tonnes per annum (26/3*100 = 866.66’).

    Well let’s not misrepresent Plimer, he said anthro emissions are 3% of natural emissions, of whuch volcanoes are a part. Which is true, give or take. But he says this like it’s something shocking and new, to sow doubt.

    Any paper about the carbon cycle will confirm that natural emissions dwarf anthropogenic ones, while also confirming that natural emissions cannot be responsible for the observed increase in concentration because natural sources are larger than natural sinks.

    Maybe Plimer has learned a new trick – somewhat more subtle misrepresentation rather than flat out lies?

  55. #55 Shane
    May 6, 2010

    I sent an email to the rural affairs program complaining pretty much along these lines. IE unchallenged and discredited claims and why was it on (what was the link), given Plimer was last in Bega last year?

    I got a reply from Audience & Consumer Affairs:

    “Audience and Consumer Affairs believe it was clear that the views reported in the online story were those of Professor Ian Plimer, and were not presented as statements of fact.”

    “It is important to note that statements made by guests such as Professor Plimer are not subject to the ABC’s editorial requirements of accuracy. Rather, they are presented as opinions and, in our view, would be understood by the audience as such.”

    The email provided a link to the broadcast which I listened to carefully. You will hear Plimer lie by omission and contradict himself.

    He states that CO2 is plant food and that CO2 emitted by volcanoes is “wonderful”.

    But he also talks about the famines caused by eruptions in the past to dramatise the effect of volcanos! Why would there be famine? Surely all this “wonderful” plant food should have produced a windfall? Oh that’s right, because the first effect of volcanic eruptions is frequently cooling!He mentions the acid rain effect of sulphates but skips over there cooling effect.

    As a geologist he (should) know this.

    The “problem” to me, giving the reporter the benefit of the doubt, is that she (and others) report science as if it is lit. crit.

    ‘Oh, it’s just an opinion.’

    Well, lets publicly broadcast the views of pedophiles then… it’s just an opinion!

    Too harsh?

  56. #56 MapleLeaf
    May 6, 2010

    This is OT, but I was hoping that someone had soe insight on this comment from Dr. Farman which appears on the BBC site:

    “Dr Farman also blamed the science establishment for “brushing aside” specific criticisms of climate science. It is impossible, for instance, properly to peer-review computer climate projections from the Met Office, he says.
    “Show me paper from the Hadley Centre and invite me to peer review it – I simply can’t… it took 2,000 man years to write it!” The fact that other models reproduced the findings was not in itself conclusive, he says, adding “It’s getting peer review into bad odour.”

    Is he talking about being unable to review the actual code? They have published any number of papers describing the HadAM (e.g., Pope et al. 2000 (Climate Dynamics) and Gordon et al. 2000 (Climate Dynamics), Stratton 1999) and HadCM3 models.

    The reader may be left with the impression that these models have not been subjected to review and/or scrutiny….

    While Dr. Farman was bang on with many of his statements, I thought this one was off the mark and fodder for the contrarians.

  57. #57 Shane
    May 6, 2010

    I wonder if Keva Gocher wasn’t personally enthralled by the good Prof. when she met him last year. Note that the picture of Plimer is credited to Keva Gocher.

    Listening to the broadcast (link above) she sounds very chatty with him… and there was no counter point from eg a climatologist.

  58. #58 TrueSceptic
    May 6, 2010

    52 marco,

    I’m no chemist but that quantity of CO2 would, as you say, have made the oceans dramatically more acidic. We don’t see that. We see a recent rise in acidity (or fall in alkalinity) indicating a much smaller CO2 increase. We know that only about 1/2 of the CO2 we produce stays in the atmosphere. The rest must be absorbed by the oceans and the biosphere and the amount tallies very well with the measured increase in the oceans. We also know from isotopic analysis that the extra CO2 in the oceans comes from fossil fuel combustion, not volcanic activity.

    Plimer’s claim makes no sense even on such a basic level.

  59. #59 bill
    May 6, 2010

    Think outside the square and you will see the planet cooling, even though the temperature data suggests otherwise.

    That’s going in the quotebook!

    I’ll also put up my hand as another over 45 who’s quite capable of recognising a real problem when he sees it.

  60. #60 Connor
    May 6, 2010

    TrueSceptic – It gets worse when he waffles on about mystical underwater volcanoes that are supposedly responsible for the current rise in CO2, completely ignoring the effect that Gt’s on CO2 bubbling up through the ocean would have on it’s chemical composition! :D

    It’d be comical gold if it weren’t for all the scientifically numpties who bought his book and took it a The Gospel Truth.

  61. #61 Connor
    May 6, 2010

    Oops, typo, I mean to write “scientifically illiterate numpties”. I’m used to forums with edit buttons so get lazy with even cursory proof reading, lol.

  62. #62 MFS
    May 6, 2010

    TrueSceptic @ 57,

    Careful, alkalinity is not the opposite of acidity (which is basicity). Alkalinity is specifically the measure of the neutralising ability of a solution, and depends both on the concentration of OH- (basicity) and the buffering capacity of the solution.

    Specifically in this case, the addition of CO2 to seawater lowers the pH (by combining with H2O to give H2CO3, an acid), but does not change the alkalinity (as it adds the same amount of (H+ and HCO3-) species under close to neutral conditions, and the same amount of (2H+ and CO3–) under high pH conditions.

    This does not change the validity of your argument, however, that the drop in pH of seawater in the presence of such a high emission of underwater CO2 would have been obvious, but keep in mind that the deep ocean is supersaturated with CO2.

  63. #63 MapleLeaf
    May 7, 2010

    MFS @61,

    “that the drop in pH of seawater in the presence of such a high emission of underwater CO2 would have been obvious, but keep in mind that the deep ocean is supersaturated with CO2.

    Thanks for clarifying MFS, I have often wondered about that since Plimer first made his claim.

  64. #64 MFS
    May 7, 2010

    MapleLeaf @ 62,

    I’d be inclined to think, if undersea volcanoes were emitting as much CO2 as Plimer hints at (866 gigatonnes according to [this 'back of the envelope' calculation](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2010/05/plimer_busted_by_media_watch.php#comment-2492338)), the real catastrophic scenario would be a [Lake Nyos](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Nyos)-like incident… but involving the whole oceans of the world… I’ll take your puny global warming and raise you an overnight global extinction…

  65. #65 TrueSceptic
    May 7, 2010

    60 Connor,

    That’s what I meant when I talked about ocean acidity being much higher if Plimer was right.

  66. #66 TrueSceptic
    May 7, 2010

    62 MFS,

    Thanks for the correction. As a layman I use terms as I understand them and hope I at least get the principles roughly right. ;)

    Yes, I did know about carbonic acid.

  67. #67 TrueSceptic
    May 7, 2010

    64 MFS,

    Then, of course, we would have the mystery as to how none of Plimer’s extra CO2 seems to get into the atmosphere.

    I’m betting that he denies the validity of isotopic analysis, the Mauna Loa record, etc.

  68. #68 bill
    May 7, 2010

    Plimer does indeed challenge the validity of the Mauna Loa data – indeed, he maintains that the data was selectively edited to obtain the ‘correct’ result – and here’s the US EPA telling him (politely) to shove it!

    http://rabett.blogspot.com/2010/05/this-is-environmental-protection-agency.html

    The challenges to the EPA’s endangerment finding on CO2 are a hoot! Here’s something I found in the Southeastern Legal Foundation’s Petition for Reconsideration –

    “If you have to argue your science by using fraud, your science is not valid.” Ian Plimer

    All the usual suspects are there (together with the usual funders, it appears)! And all the usual drivel: “It is an undeniable fact that many prominent accomplished, published and well-respected scientists have spoken out loud and clear to say that the Climategate has exposed the greatest scientific fraud in history.”

  69. #69 Lotharsson
    May 7, 2010

    The EPA posts at Rabett Run are worth a read – as one commenter says:

    > Surprisingly, and delightfully, the EPA is giving us an epic example of “Pwnage”.

  70. #70 Bernard J.
    May 8, 2010

    Another damning fact that blows to pieces Plimer’s nonsense about submarine volcanic CO2

    If such volcanoes were producing as much CO2 as he claims, especially with respect to the human emissions of CO2 over the recent centuries, then the oceans would be acidifying more quickly the further below the surface that pH was measured.

    In fact pH is decreasing fastest closest to the surface. Why? because the source of the acidifying CO2 is the atmosphere, not the ocean bottom.

    Plimer’s throat is slashed by Ockham’s razor.

  71. #71 Dave Andrews
    May 8, 2010

    Hey, just a question.

    Mauna Loa is an active volcano that has outgassing of CO2. Isn’t this a strange place to site a station monitoring CO2 levels?

  72. #72 MFS
    May 8, 2010

    [Dave @71](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2010/05/plimer_busted_by_media_watch.php#comment-2499268),

    This argument has been rehashed ad nauseum, but here’s the gist:

    a) Mauna Loa is a dormant volcano. The only currently active volcano in the island of Hawaii is Kilauea. As such the level of outgassing is pretty low.

    b) CO2 is a fast mixing gas, which disperses quickly,

    c) the presence of volcanic CO2 can usually be detected by the concurrent presence of anomalous concentrations of other volcanic gasses, primarily SO2.

    d) The Mauna Loa CO2 record is reading approximately (and consistently) 1 ppm higher than the global average, and sites such as Cape Grim, Tasmania, which only has 10,000 Km of ocean on the upwind side. You can examine the recent Mauna Loa record [here](http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/webdata/ccgg/trends/co2_trend_mlo.pdf) at the NOAA website, and compare it to the global mean [here](http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/webdata/ccgg/trends/co2_trend_gl.pdf)

    So to answer you, the Mauna Loa record is the closest single record to the global CO2 mean, which is the reason it is often referred to. It is not affected by volcano CO2 outgassing in any significant way.

  73. #73 Chris O'Neill
    May 8, 2010

    MFS:

    The Mauna Loa CO2 record is reading approximately (and consistently) 1 ppm higher than the global average, and sites such as Cape Grim, Tasmania, which only has 10,000 Km of ocean on the upwind side.

    And like Cape Grim, if the sample shows any evidence that it might be contaminated by local sources then it is rejected. Anyone who wants to research this can easily find out what they do, unlike science denialists like Dave Andrews who are only interested in smearing scientists.

  74. #74 Lotharsson
    May 8, 2010

    And IIRC the Mauna Loa scientists take measures to ensure their measurements are not contaminated by CO2 emanating from Mauna Loa (or Kilauea for that matter).

    I suspect anyone who wanted to know about why the measurements are considered accurate could find these things out for themselves.

  75. #75 Tony Sidaway
    May 8, 2010

    Wikipedia has an article on the Keeling curve. There follows a quotation from the current version of the article.

    “Though Mauna Loa is not an active volcano, Keeling and collaborators made measurements on the incoming ocean breeze and above the thermal inversion layer to minimize local contamination from volcanic vents. In addition, the data is normalized to negate any influence from local contamination. Measurements at many other isolated sites have confirmed the long-term trend shown by the Keeling Curve, though no sites have a record as long as Mauna Loa.”

  76. #76 Bernard J.
    May 8, 2010

    [Dave Andrews](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2010/05/plimer_busted_by_media_watch.php#comment-2499268).

    You really are one for rolling in The Stupid, aren’t you? Your unoriginal question was [hammered only a few months ago](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2010/02/leakegate_on_stovepiping_and_p.php#comment-2290801) my a number of us.

    Wake up, and get a clue.

  77. #77 Watchingthedeniers.wordpress.com
    May 9, 2010

    Well, found Plimer making the same claims again in the recent Institute of Public Affairs magazine in an article titled “Climate changing: how global warming lost its science and support”. [IPA Review, Vol62/1 pg 30-31]

    I quote: “Humans only contribute to three per cent of the annual exhalation of carbon dioxide (CO2) and it has been shown that this small human addition of CO2 to the atmosphere drives climate change…”

    I may have missed it above but what are his sources? What paper or research does he actually cite?

    Sure, the IPA is the home of denial in Australia, but seriously does Plimer reference these figures to a specific paper?

  78. #78 Jeremy C
    May 10, 2010

    WTD @ 77.

    The IPA doesn’t need sources as it only uses axioms and any statement denying AGW is by definition an axiom. I think it must be bliss to be in the central cadre of the IPA, just think nothing to disturb your view of the world that your ideology is right and true.

    (BTW I have a conservative friend who used to take me to meetings at the Fabian Society in Sydney – yes strange but true. He told me that the most fun at these meetings was when Paul Keating showed up and would make provocative comments causing a vocal melee to erupt. It would’ve been fun to see that sort of thing whether you like Keating or not. However, just imagine what Keating would do verbally to a room full of IPA stalwarts……. For those of you not familiar with Aust politics Keating is a former Labor (i.e. democrat) prime minister who never went to university but in parliament made verbal mincemeat of the types the IPA sorts cleave to).

  79. #79 Chris S.
    May 10, 2010

    #76 Bernard.

    To be fair to DA he’d have had to wade through a hell of a load of crap to get to that post.

    Of course, he could quite easily get it from the horses mouth:

    http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/about/co2_measurements.html

    (first hit on google for: CO2 Mauna Loa)

  80. #80 NEILC
    May 11, 2010

    I know I’m wasting my time posting on this blinkered and unscientific website, but the ignorance displayed by commentary on Eyjaf* (the Icelandic volcano) is breathtaking. The rate of CO2 emissions from Eyjaf* that have been published do in fact provide strong evidence supporting Plimer’s claims on volcanic CO2 emissions. We need to remember that Eyjaf* is 1 small volcano. A peer reviewed article by Hillier & Watts (2007) from Cambridge & Oxford Universities, following a survey 201,055 submarine volcanoes estimated that a total of 3,477,403 submarine volcanoes exist worldwide. Others estimate that only about 4% of these are active. If you multiply the daily CO2 emissions reported from Eyjaf* by 4% of 3.4 million, and conservatively assume each of these is active on average for say 1 day a year, or 10 days per decade, you will get an emissions figure that is a multiple of estimated human CO2 emissions for a year.
    And this is only from oceanic volcanoes which are low CO2 emitters when compared to the rim-of-fire calc-alkaline volcanoes. On top of this are the emissions from the thousands of kms of mid-ocean trenches where the tectonic plates are pulling apart, where CO2 emissions are unknown but are not likely to be small.
    I know the USGS state otherwise, but it’s not the first time they have been spectacularly wrong.
    I’ve also noticed another misconception quoted here that anthropogenic C can be identified isotopically. This misconception is based on the fact that fossil hydrocarbons are very low in the cosmogenic carbon isotope C14, and therefore have the effect of reducing the C14 / C ratio in the atmosphere. Unfortunately primary (i.e. volcanic) CO2 emissions are also C14 depleted as they are derived from the C14 & C13 depleted mantle. There is unfortunately no magic fingerprint that can distinguish between anthropogenic and volcanogenic sources of CO2, no matter how often it is stated that there is.

  81. #81 Chris O'Neill
    May 11, 2010

    NEILC:

    I know I’m wasting my time posting on this blinkered and unscientific website,

    Why don’t you send your argument to the US Geological Survery. This “blinkered and unscientific website” gets its arguments from there.

    but the ignorance displayed by commentary on Eyjaf* (the Icelandic volcano) is breathtaking.

    Your arrogance in contradicting the US Geological Survey is staggering.

  82. #82 jakerman
    May 11, 2010

    NeilC writes:

    >*I know I’m wasting my time posting on this blinkered and unscientific website*… [blah, blah...]

    Didn’t read much of the comments did you Neil. Perhaps mull over some of the evidence raised that contracts your **assumptions** about an **imaginary** level of CO2 you fantasize could be (produced by volcanoes) but **not measured**.

    [Start here](http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2010/05/plimer_busted_by_media_watch.php#comment-2498719), then work your way up.

  83. #83 marco
    May 11, 2010

    NEILC

    I haven’t made an exhaustive search but nothing is coming up that comes close to Plimer’s figures or the ones that you imply.

    Is there any good reason why we should assume emissions along the mid ocean ridges equate to the emissions of our icelandic friend?

    From a paper by Vicky Hards of the British Geological Survey she quotes Marty and Tolstikhin (1998) and Holloway and O’Day (2000) giving a figure of around 97 Mt/year for submarine volcanoes. She also states that greater than 90% of the submarine activity occurs along the MORs which addresses your point about the emissions from tectonic displacement and the ring of fire and would appear to contadict it.

    Perfectly happy to take off my blinkers and though I wouldn’t characterise myself as unscientific, in this area I am hugely ignorant and am very happy to be corrected.

    Marco

  84. #84 marco
    May 11, 2010

    Stu @ 54

    Sorry, I must have rushed past your post. My apologies to all for the misrepresentation of Plimer’s figures.

    Marco

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