A Few Things Ill Considered

Global warming comes from within

This is just one of dozens of responses to common climate change denial arguments, which can all be found at How to Talk to a Climate Sceptic.


Objection:

We all live on a thin crust that floats on a huge ball of molten iron, and at its core, the Earth’s temperature is over 5000oC! It’s pretty far fetched to think a few parts per million of CO2 can have a bigger effect that all that heat!

Answer:

Although there is nothing wrong with the statement that the Earth is truly very hot at its center (actually as hot as the surface of the sun) the notion that it is a significant source of heat at the surface is easily dismissed with a little critical thinking. If the inner heat were really the dominant factor, then surely the day-night cycle would not be what it is, nor would you expect such variation in climates over seasons and latitudes. How can the south pole be covered with thousands of metres of ice with all this heat suposedly bubbling up from the surface? Why would a little lower angle of sunlight cause the average temperature to drop from +20oC in the summer to -20oC in the winter?

The fact of the matter is, solid rock is an extremely good insulator and the heat from the mantle propogates up very slowly and diminishes very quickly (at about 20oC/km) to almost nothing by the time it is at the surface. At the surface, the earth is releasing less than one tenth of one Watt/m2. If you could somehow capture all of the energy coming up from the earth’s core into the foundation of an average sized home, you might have energy to power one 15W light bulb! Not alot of of juice when you compare it to the sun, which provides on average some 342W/m2 of energy to the earth’s surface.

And let’s not forget that what we are talking about is climate change, not just climate. So we need some kind of change in this heat flux if we wish to explain a change in the global temperature. Scientists have calculated that increased greenhouse gases have resulted in a radiative forcing of 2.43 Wm-2 which means we need that many Watts/m2 of change to account for the current warming. Back to geothermal, this means the energy flow from the earth would have had to jump by over 200 times to be the cause of the approxiamately .8oC temperature rise.

It is pretty hard to imagine not noticing that!


This is just one of dozens of responses to common climate change denial arguments, which can all be found at How to Talk to a Climate Sceptic.


“Global Warming comes from within” is also posted on the Grist website, where additional comments can be found, though the author, Coby Beck, does not monitor or respond there.

Comments

  1. #1 Doug C
    November 26, 2009

    Al Gore says the earth’s core temperature is “millions” of degrees. Lovely.

  2. #2 coby
    November 26, 2009

    Hi Doug,

    Can you provide a reference for that assertion? This would indeed be a whopper so I would like to see if what you say is true.

  3. #3 Doug C
    November 26, 2009
  4. #4 Doug C
    November 26, 2009

    Coby;

    I did make an error in my original post. Gore did not say “millions” of degrees, he say “several million degrees”. Once again, lovely.

  5. #5 coby
    November 26, 2009

    Thanks for backing yourself up, Doug. That is indeed a whopper. I hope he corrects himself soon. 1000′s 1,000,000′s… it seems likely just a slip of the tongue. At least that kind of gaffe is not a pattern for him, so if he acknowledges the error I won’t be holding it against him. If it ever appeared in any of his written or scripted material I would have a different take on that.

    I have seen most of his material on climate change and he does not make any such gross errors there.

  6. #6 Doug C
    November 26, 2009

    Thanks Coby;

    Yes, I’m sure it’s a slip of the tongue, just like the 20 foot rise in sea levels comment was. Not a pattern at all. I thought you were an expert on artificial intelligence.

    Doug

  7. #7 Doug C
    November 26, 2009

    Coby;

    Just FYI. I’m not a skeptic, but as an academic, I am also not a religious fanatic. I want to keep those who report on the subject honest in their comments, and so should you.

    Doug

  8. #8 coby
    November 26, 2009

    Doug,

    The “20 foot rise” was not a comment, it was part of a carefully prepared lecture and the film “An Inconvenient Truth”. It is also not false. Melting of the GISS or the WAIS would indeed raise sea levels by as much as he says, though know one knows how long that might take and Gore made no claim about the time frame.

    Please see http://scienceblogs.com/illconsidered/2009/11/ccw_-_all_wet_on_sea_level.php for a very clear debunking of that false “sceptic” talking point.

    As an acedemic, shown clear evidence, I have no doubt you will wish to retract or qualify your insinuations or provide whatever small number you think reasonble of actual instances of Gore making up his science.

    Cheers.

  9. #9 Dappledwater
    November 27, 2009

    “Just FYI. I’m not a skeptic, but as an academic, I am also not a religious fanatic. I want to keep those who report on the subject honest in their comments, and so should you.” – Doug

    Yet Al Gore, a frequent obsession of deniers, is singled out. One of things that make you go “Mmmmmm”.

  10. #10 Doug C
    November 27, 2009

    Coby;

    Gore actually did make a “claim about the time frame” (your words). He said “in the near future”.

    Thanks for your insights.

  11. #11 michael
    November 27, 2009

    Hey Dappled Water…
    You may as well just use the word “heretic” and be done with it.
    Should we filthy deniers NOT single out Mr Gore?
    He says whatever emotive rubbish he likes because he knows very well that his “target demographic” will lap it up.
    He is peddling nothing more than fear for the sake of his own agenda.
    I regard him and the IPCC as scientifically THE SAME! (although the IPCC may be slightly cleverer.)

    I’ve not read this blog for some weeks now, but thought I’d drop in to see how everyone was.
    The political action here in Australia, and those leaked emails, and Mr Monbiot’s writings/ramblings have me intrigued again.
    I do find all this politicking fascinating.
    I’m very much looking forward to daily readings from the upcoming Copenhagen meeting. Non Australian readers should keep an eye out for the Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd to feature prominently in the news coverage. (he will make sure of it, whether his ETS is passed or not.)
    Well, have a nice day.

  12. #12 dhogaza
    November 27, 2009

    Doug C can lie, but he can’t hide the truth.

    From the transcript of Gore’s film, “An Inconvenient Truth”;

    I want to focus on West Antarctica, because it illustrates two factors about land-
    based ice and sea-based ice. It’s a little of both. It’s propped on tops of islands, but
    the ocean comes up underneath it. So if the ocean gets warmer, it has an impact on
    it. If this were to go, sea levels worldwide would go up 20 feet. They’ve measured
    disturbing changes on the underside of this ice sheet. It’s considered relatively more
    stable, however, than another big body of ice that is roughly the same size.

    He then discusses the greenland ice sheet.

    The words “in the near future” do not appear in the film. Nor does anything resembling those words appear in the film.

  13. #13 coby
    November 27, 2009

    So Doug, as an acedemic you can surely understand the need for evidence to back up assertions. You have asserted the Gore said the WAIS would melt “in he near future”. Let’s see the evidence.

    If there is no evidence and you still hold to your belief, I think that makes it more likely your approach to this issue is the “religious” one.

    BTW, what relevance does Gore’s understanding/misunderstanding actually have for an acedemic such as yourself? Wouldn’t the obvious thing to examine be the peer reviewed literature?

  14. #14 PaulinMI
    November 28, 2009

    Here’s the actual court ruling, courtesy of Gavin Schmidt, (as claimed here http://ninepoints.pbworks.com/)http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2007/2288.html

    Here are the nine points which were addressed [as summarized by ninepoints]
    •1]The film claimed that low-lying inhabited Pacific atolls “are being inundated because of anthropogenic global warming” – but there was no evidence of any evacuation occurring
    •2] It spoke of global warming “shutting down the ocean conveyor” – the process by which the gulf stream is carried over the north Atlantic to western Europe. The judge said that, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, it was “very unlikely” that the conveyor would shut down in the future, though it might slow down
    •3] Mr Gore had also claimed – by ridiculing the opposite view – that two graphs, one plotting a rise in C02 and the other the rise in temperature over a period of 650,000 years, showed “an exact fit”. The judge said although scientists agreed there was a connection, “the two graphs do not establish what Mr Gore asserts”
    •4] Mr Gore said the disappearance of snow on Mt Kilimanjaro was expressly attributable to human-induced climate change. The judge said the consensus was that that could not be established
    •5] The drying up of Lake Chad was used as an example of global warming. The judge said: “It is apparently considered to be more likely to result from … population increase, over-grazing and regional climate variability”
    •6] Mr Gore ascribed Hurricane Katrina to global warming, but there was “insufficient evidence to show that”
    •7] Mr Gore also referred to a study showing that polar bears were being found that had drowned “swimming long distances to find the ice”. The judge said: “The only scientific study that either side before me can find is one which indicates that four polar bears have recently been found drowned because of a storm”
    •8] The film said that coral reefs all over the world were bleaching because of global warming and other factors. The judge said separating the impacts of stresses due to climate change from other stresses, such as over-fishing, and pollution, was difficult

    And finally,

    •Sea level rise of up to 20 feet (7 metres) will be caused by melting of either West Antarctica or Greenland in the near future. [My edit - note that "immediate future" or "near future" does not appear in the transcript]

    [from the ruling] This is distinctly alarmist, and part of Mr Gore’s ‘wake-up call’. It is common ground that if indeed Greenland melted, it would release this amount of water, but only after, and over, millennia, so that the Armageddon scenario he predicts, insofar as it suggests that sea level rises of 7 metres might occur in the immediate future, is not in line with the scientific consensus.

  15. #15 dhogaza
    November 28, 2009

    Yes, the judge ruled that Gore said something in the movie that wasn’t in the movie, i.e. “in the near future”. I’ve provided the transcript, people can judge for themselves if Gore said what was claimed or not.

  16. #16 PaulinMI
    November 28, 2009

    dhogaza,
    You would be right.

  17. #17 Matt Bennett
    November 28, 2009

    I get sick of seeing people argue this point as if Gore has asserted that Greenland or West Antarctic are definitely going to disappear this century.

    What Gore (and concerned scientists) are saying is simply this:

    Yes, at current ice-loss rates it will take thousands of years for the earth’s major ice sheets to disintegrate. Simple math tells you that. These ice sheets have formed and collapsed many, many times in the past as we move in and out of ice ages but the point is, there exists no written or oral confirmation of how quickly the collapses happen since nobody was there last time it occurred (or at best, writing was in it’s infancy). Given that many earth systems do not change state linearly, given that recent measurements show many glacial flows/ice sheet breakups are accelerating via meltwater self-lubrication and given that evidence suggests sea levels HAVE risen metres in decades previously – given all this, it seems plausible that we should be very cautious about predicting just how long these ice sheets will be around. It would be prudent to remain mindful that the possibilty exists for these and other positive feedbacks to oversee the disintegration of one or both ice sheets much faster than we thought possible. That’s all Gore’s saying and if denialists were really interested in truth they would simply start reading the literature. Of course, they are not.

    See the Copenhagen Diagnosis published this week. Print it, read it – it’s free.

    http://www.copenhagendiagnosis.org/

  18. #18 kevin maclellan
    December 14, 2009

    Hi Coby

    I have been perusing you extensive site to look for answers. I am not a climatologist but have specialized in ground water microbiology and geochemistry (now retired). I live in interior Canada so oceanography is not an area I am overly familiar. However I ask you to indulge me.

    An area of potential CO2 and Methane in the oceans is from the deep ocean plate tectonics. The amount of potential green house gases released by the undersea rifts and volcanic activity appears to always be in flux when compared with time. I have recently read Ian Plimer’s “Heaven and Earth” (which seems to have been reviewed by many people) and other texts on the subject but several questions about global warming remain unanswered. Neither Plimer, nor I for that matter, deny global warming. He does think AGW is not likely true and I still have doubts. The fact that I am reading your blog is evidence of my searching for answers. Ian Plimer has questioned whether global warming arises from ocean warming or as implied by most AGWers, that the oceans are warming by result of atmospheric temperature increasing by man induced Green house gases.

    It seems to me that oceans are the biggest regulator of CO2 on this planet. If the surface of the oceans are warming, then CO2 saturation points will change and release that CO2 to the atmosphere which then warms the air and then warms the oceans in a vicious cycle of ever increasing CO2 and warming oceans. The opposite being true in times of cooling. So questions remain, “What is causing the oceans to warm if it is not man?” Is there an increase in underwater vents to release more than normal amounts of geothermal energy and green house gases to the oceans? Are there evidences of ocean warming and convectional currents, if possible, caused by vents escaping to the surface of the oceans? I say if possible because I had read that the heat from the vents are dispersed somewhat evenly through the floor of the ocean. If the oceans are warming naturally, it just seems a possible source of ocean warming would then be from the inner core of the earth and would also be a potential huge variant in global warming.

    I do not deny global warming and the potential effects. What I do still question is if it is man made or is there some other factors that could account for the warming. I do have a problem understanding ocean warming and felt that Ian Plimer had a legitimate argument. I have been thinking about how oceans could warm. If the oceans are warming by underwater flux of volcanism and indirectly releasing CO2 to the atmosphere then this source of green house gas potential may be much higher than all of man’s contribution.Then what good does controlling man’s CO2 discharges to reduce global warming? I do believe we should stop polluting our air anyway. Has there ever been attempts to measure CO2 discharge by oceans over time and space?

    Despite the political and media hype and current scientific frenzy, I am somewhat neutral on the AGW theory because of the lack of explanation of the ocean’s role and the heat from the earth’s core being released to the oceans. I also realize that the volume of the oceans waters are recycled through the earth mantel every 500,000 to 1,000,000 years through plate subduction. CO2 and methane will be formed in deep ground water by microbial action as they reduce organic manner. The same reduction will occur in the deep reduced environments of the oceans. These gases should also form in the deep subduction of ocean water as organic matter is reduced by heat. We seem to be well aware of volcanic activity related to land but seem less aware of the underwater activity.

    I have posted this comment in this blog because it asks a direct question about the earth’s heat. I look forward to your comments.

    Regards,

    Kevin

  19. #19 coby
    December 14, 2009

    Hi kevin,

    Thanks for your openmindedness and detailed question, please don’t be alarmed if any other commenters don’t give you the benefit of the doubt as to your sincerity, we have many visitors who start out reasonable but prove to be just trolling.

    Your questions are easily answered.

    1. about the ocean as a possible source of CO2 rise: many lines of evidence have been investigated and this is not a plausible explanation. The fact that Plimer has written a book on this subject and still suggests it is one of several clear signs that he has no credibility on this subject. Please see this article. Two main points expanded there are: the CO2 in the atmosphere is clearly the result of fossil fuel burning and the net CO2 flux is clearly going into the ocean. So as well as some other source of heat we would need to have some other source of CO2 feeding both ocean and atmosphere.

    2. about heat from volcanic activity: the total flux of heat from the earth’s core to the surface is so small, the increase needed to explain global warming is 20,000%. I think we would notice that!

    HTH.

  20. #20 michael
    December 15, 2009

    Welcome Kevin, welcome.
    It’s seems like only yesterday that I, a bright-eyed and bushy tailed new poster to this blog had just read Professor Plimer’s book. (it was earlier this year)

    Coby is right about the abuse that is comin’ your way.
    (I copped a bit myself)

    [well earned, I might add - coby]

    When I suggested to the blog in general, that they, as open-minded scientific individuals actually READ that book, I got replies such as: “I will not read a book that I already know is full of lies, written by a nutter!”. (or words to that effect)

    [you also got this answer: http://scienceblogs.com/illconsidered/2009/08/how_wrong_does_plimer_have_to.php

    I take that type of response as being not only “closed-minded, but also arrogant.
    By my reading of that book (twice now) I believe he is looking a t the earth as a whole system, and not just as a “carbon poluter!)
    Well, once again, welcome!

  21. #21 Matt Bennett
    December 15, 2009

    Michael,

    Ian Plimer is an ignorant fool. Just because YOU haven’t realised this yet doesn’t give his science any more credibility. (Still waiting for his answers Monbiot’s 10 questions – from his own book!! See below.)

    Scientists have been born and died looking at the “earth as a whole system” before you even came along, and the observation that our CO2 release would undoubtedly warm the planet was made in the 1800′s. Scientists have a very good grasp of what’s happening to the earth as a whole system and are improving on it all the time. They’re not stupid and little old Ian isn’t suddenly pointing out things they’ve neglected to take into account. They know far more about where the uncertainties and annoying discrepancies in their work lie than any denier ever will. The difference is, they work to correct them and fill in the holes. Try reading Ray’s draft book posted for free at:

    geosci.uchicago.edu/~rtp1/ClimateBook/ClimateBook.html

    and you might begin to have some idea just how good a handle they have on these matters and how many decades of quality science lie behind their conclusions.

    The pity about Ian is that he took apart the ridiculous arguments of creationists a decade or two ago using his own specialty but is unable to see that he is copying their exact modus operandi by picking at “holes” in a science he clearly shows himself to be ignorant of. He could have done with a bit more pre-publication research, but then it’s not really the truth he was ever interested in. It’s being a limelight contrarian that he enjoys and the fleeting publicity it brings.

    Kevin, you can be well advised that you are not relying on good sources of information by consulting Ian Plimer. Read below to see the obfuscatory stuff he’s made of.

    http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2009/…/correspondence-with-ian-plimer/

    Best of luck getting a grasp of the science with your investigations.

    Matt

  22. #22 Marco
    December 15, 2009

    @Matt Bennett:
    In all honesty, Ian Plimer indeed used his own specialty to take creationists apart. That specialty being bad science. Seriously:
    http://creation.com/ian-plimers-bloopers-a-selection
    I would be enormously embarrassed with some of those basic errors, and then being corrected by creationists of all people…
    (and I am aware that some of the perceived bloopers may be perceived different by others, but several of the other issues are really basic chemistry and basic biology).

  23. #23 mandas
    December 15, 2009

    Matt (michael/kevin etc)
    Please don’t suggest Iam Plimer is a fool – ignorant or otherwise. He is an accomplished geologist and a very intelligent man. Just because he is incorrect on climate change does not make him a fool, and it does your argument no credit by attempting to characterise him as such.
    Unfortunately, too much of this debate (on both sides) has focussed on attempting to discredit individuals (eg Plimer and Gore) because the commenters are ignorant of the science and have no other mechanism for becoming involved in the debate. To be ignorant of the science is fine, because it involves many disciplines and can be very complex, but it is important to be at least familiar with some of the concepts before opening your mouth or putting fingers to keyboard.
    Books such as Plimer’s are actually reasonable places to obtain a basic understanding of some of the processes involved, and he does explain things well for a lay audience. However – and this is the big however – on issues such as this you must act like the sceptic you all claim to be, and not just accept what is in the book. Have a look at the counter arguments as well. What do climatologists (no, not blog posters) have to say about his arguments? What do other geologists say?
    Scepticism is about being sceptical of everything – and especially of your own viewpoint. It’s not good enough to be sceptical about what someone else is saying only if it disagrees with your view. You must also be sceptical of it if it agrees with you.
    Oh, and some books ARE crap, and should be confined to the dustbin of history because they are so full of errors and contradictions that they have no credibility at all. The Bible is a perfect example of this. Unfortunately, a lot of people can’t or won’t see this because they do not read with a sceptical or critical mind. How about we all act like true sceptics and try it for a change.

  24. #24 Matt Bennett
    December 16, 2009

    Mandas,

    Couldn’t agree more. A lot of books are crap which is why I linked to a particularly thorough publication on how scientists calculate, model and retrospectively investigate planets’ climates, not just Earth’s. This is the type of stuff people will need to pick apart if they want to ‘bring down’ global warming, which of course they won’t be able to.

    And I’m sorry but, as a fellow Aussie, Plimer most definitely is a fool. He does not even understand the basics of climate science, or if he does, is very good at hiding it. A narrow expertise is no substitute for a general knowledge of how to apply rational thought. His interviews are glib, shallow and evasive and he shows all the hallmarks of a self-serving egotist. A quick flick through his book is enough to show anyone who knows what they are talking about that he’s got a VERY loose understanding of his topic.

    Still waiting for his answers to Monbiot… waiting….

  25. #25 Dappledwater
    December 16, 2009

    Monbiot vs. plonker Plimer:

    http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/

  26. #26 Matt Bennett
    December 16, 2009

    RE above link.

    Apologies Coby but..

    ….Plimer is a fucking joke. I wouldn’t let him near any of my (hypothetical) children, even to teach geology. He is a dishonest, smug, ignorant wack-job without the balls to back up even his very own statements. Body language says it all. Sorry Mandas, but one must call a spade a spade.

    I’m deeply ashamed he’s Australian.

  27. #27 skip
    December 16, 2009

    Question Michael:

    After all that’s been said and done then, you’re recommending the Plimer book? And if that’s the case, to what end? (In other words, were I to read it, I should be open to what possibility–that AGW is not real? Not dangerous? Beneficial?)

    Checking so I know what your angle is here.

    Skip

  28. #28 Kevin MacLellan
    December 16, 2009

    Hello Coby and all:

    I have read Plimer and found a lot of room for discussion. Some of the information in the book Heaven and Earth is exactly as stated by everyone…controversial as many books should be when dealing with debatable issues. But so are some of the presented scientific findings of the political-climatologists and environmental activists. Plimer does seems very credible in presenting the geological history and relations to climates So I can only urge openmindedness with all findings.

    With regard to the C13/C12 isotope ratios, I would expect similar ratios found in deep earth formation of CO2 formation as found in fossil fuel discharges.I suspect that the only time this ratio may be different than fossil fuel discharges is if the (hot vent) stimulated biological life is finding the more recent C13 for uptake and I am not sure if that is correct. The metals like iron discharged by the magma should be enough to stimulate lots of biological life, Indeed it is these vents that are considered the original building block of life on earth. These vents have only recently been discovered and investigation is still developing. I am also aware of some ideas being floated to seed the surface of the oceans with iron to stimulate phytoplankton blooms to reduce the CO2 effects. That still leaves me wondering if the oceans are not out of kilter and are now releasing CO2 due to surface warming. Or if it is possible to be stimulating life that releases CO2 instead of using it as phytoplankton. The oceans will almost certainly have enough Ca to sequester CO2 but if the ocean surface is being observed to have a lower pH as some claim then CO2 will also be released at the surface. (low pH suggests an acid rain input and likely man made).

    We cannot deny that historical low CO2 values in the atmosphere correspond well with cooling periods on earth just as the periods of elevated CO2 correspond to warming periods.These questions seem best presented to paleo-oceanographers and biologists who may have better understanding of the issues.

    Another consideration is the time line of releasing deep ocean CH4 and CO2. Consider a large volcanic event or series of events not recorded in our history because we never knew about them. Could a “burb” of gas be released to the ocean waters but its release to the atmsphere be delayed for a long time or released from the deep ocean over a hundred years say? Could the resulting bio-life be a potential source of greenhouse gases? The isotope ratios may not be of help. Again I admit that I am not an expert in the area and am only trying to delve into the issues from my knowledge base.

    Man’s activity is certainly a source of greenhouse gas discharge to the environment. I still question if it is the only major source so that if we are to attempt to change things by curbing human discharges that we are not engaging in futility at very enormous expense. I live in a country that requires more heating than most countries. It was 46 degrees C below zero this week in middle Canada. Our demands are very different than someone living in a tropical zone.There are many developing countries that will strive to better feed their populations and require energy to do that. The cost to curb greenhouse gas is not just economical but could be measured in human lives. I am sure the argument could also be laid that the consequences of inaction are also dire.

  29. #29 skip
    December 16, 2009

    “I have read Plimer and . . . [s]ome of the information . . . is controversial. . . But so are some of the presented scientific findings of the political-climatologists and environmental activists.”

    Fair enough. Lets assume that’s true.

    So, are you recommending the book? Since we have people on this forum saying its bullshit but others like Michael saying, “Be open minded; read it,” I’m not going to commit until someone says, “Hey. I stand by this source.”

    I still question if it [anthropogenic greenhouse gas emission] is the only major source so that if we are to attempt to change things by curbing human discharges that we are not engaging in futility at very enormous expense.

    This is an issue that no one from the skeptical side ever wants to discuss at length. Would you like to move over to Coby’s thread on “Its Too Expensive to act on Climate Change” (or whatever its called)? We might be able to learn a lot from each other. (I need a respite from Crakar for a while.)

    Skip

  30. #30 Marco
    December 16, 2009

    @Kevin MacLellan:
    I have a mathematical challenge for you:

    1. Find how much CO2 fossil fuel burning emits into the atmosphere each year

    2. Calculate how this would change the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere, assuming there are no other sources of CO2, nor any sinks of CO2.
    This is not an easy calculation, as CO2 concentrations are not equal throughout the whole troposphere. You may thus want to check how CO2 changes as a function of the troposphere

    You will find that there must be a net sink of CO2, meaning that if the oceans are a net source of CO2, there must be a HUGE sink of CO2 elsewhere. Where?

  31. #31 Kevin MacLellan
    December 16, 2009

    Skip: Of course you should read Plimer. He does present solid cases that are espoused in other scientific communities. Check

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2008/01/25/double-whammy-friday-roy-spencer-on-how-oceans-are-driving-co2/

    Roy Spencer’s arguments are self admitted quasi attempts to explain the ocean role in balance but so does Plimer argue the same. These arguments are what drives my questions about global warming.

    And Marco:

    I think I am too mathematically challenged to attempt doing global carbon budgets. The question remains about ocean warming and the ability to uptake and release CO2. What warms the oceans? And is the effort to reduce man made CO2 futile to control global warming. If the oceans are taking up less CO2 than in the past then it is reasonable to say more is staying in the atmosphere. The problem is exacerbated by human input of CO2 but this input is still playing a minor role compared to the amount of CO2 absorption lost by ocean temperature rise. The site mentioned above is a scientific attempt to explain some discrepancy of CO2 budgets and does leave a lot of argument in the community. Besides the atmosphere accumulating CO2, vegetation growth will have to increase to become sinks for excess CO2. (Should we bet on another Jurassic period in a few millennium)

    I see no easy resolution. I only hope that we do the correct action or inaction. It seems much more study is required on global warming and perhaps even looking at some engineered solutions if problems get really bad. I suggest reading Stewart Brands book Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto. We should be prepared for action and not perhaps going for the jugular of reasonable people who question the current science. Saying that..hand me the blindfold and fire.

  32. #32 skip
    December 17, 2009

    Oh, Dear. Kevin . . .

    So Spencer’s thesis is that

    The long-term increases in carbon dioxide concentration that have been observed at Mauna Loa since 1958 could be driven more than by the ocean than by mankind’s burning of fossil fuels.

    But qualifies up front that

    Most, if not all, experts in the global carbon cycle will at this point think I am totally off my rocker. Not being an expert in the global carbon cycle, I am admittedly sticking my neck out here.

    He makes this hedging because he’s been stung before for completely blowing his anlysis of global temperatures using sattelite data, so he’s understandably gun shy. (EVen Christopher Horner had to make back-bending apologies for Spencer’s bungling in his inane book *Red Hot Lies* –which I read and found to be a phantasmagoria of distortion and outright lies; let me know if you want my review of it.)

    Could the long-term increase in El Nino conditions observed in recent decades (and whatever change in the carbon budget of the ocean that entails) be more responsible for increasing CO2 concentrations than mankind? At this point, I think that question is a valid one.

    After all, the human source represents only 3% (or less) the size of the natural fluxes in and out of the surface. This means that we would need to know the natural upward and downward fluxes to much better than 3% to say that humans are responsible for the current upward trend in atmospheric CO2. Are measurements of the global carbon fluxes much better than 3% in accuracy?? I doubt it.

    Just pure ham-handed speculation that *maybe* innacuracies in natural fluxes overwhelm the anthropogenic effect. (“The data we don’t have just might prove me right; therefore I’m not yet proven wrong.”) There is a reason this is just a blog entry and not currently under peer review.

    Most, if not all, experts in the global carbon cycle will at this point think I am totally off my rocker. Not being an expert in the global carbon cycle, I am admittedly sticking my neck out here. But, at a minimum, the results I will show make for a fascinating story – even if my hypothesis is wrong.

    It would be easy to say that last statement says it all and require no comment, but it doesn’t say it all. Check out Mr. Spencer telling us a little more about himself and his epistemic approach to life and science during his conversion to envangelical Christianity:

    The possibility then presented itself that, despite all I had previously thought, Genesis, the first book of the Bible, might actually be true! That realization led me to open a Bible for the first time, and to read it for myself, from the beginning. I also became open to reading the Bible because I discovered that a very intelligent friend of mine believed the Bible was the word of God. My family and I accepted this friend’s invitation to accompany him to church one Sunday . . .

    The guy ends up believing Dinosaurs were either demonic deceptions or creatures from a pre-creation for Godsakes. Spencer is probably unconcerned about AGW because he figures the Rapture will save his ass. Does it really make sense to make policy on something or someone this flakey?

    Kevin I’m ripping your source; not you. But this is the kind of thing I see all the time when I exchange with deniers (if that’s what you are).

    Skip

  33. #33 skip
    December 18, 2009

    Coby thanks for switching this over.

    I reformatted and -posted it for Kev so he wouldn’t have to try to figure my quotes from my comments.

    Anway, Kevin here was my response:

    Oh, Dear. Kevin . . .

    So Spencer’s thesis is that

    The long-term increases in carbon dioxide concentration that have been observed at Mauna Loa since 1958 could be driven more than by the ocean than by mankind’s burning of fossil fuels.

    But qualifies up front that

    Most, if not all, experts in the global carbon cycle will at this point think I am totally off my rocker. Not being an expert in the global carbon cycle, I am admittedly sticking my neck out here.

    He makes this hedging because he’s been stung before for completely blowing his anlysis of global temperatures using sattelite data, so he’s understandably gun shy. (EVen Christopher Horner had to make back-bending apologies for Spencer’s bungling in his inane book *Red Hot Lies* –which I read and found to be a phantasmagoria of distortion and outright lies; let me know if you want my review of it.)

    Could the long-term increase in El Nino conditions observed in recent decades (and whatever change in the carbon budget of the ocean that entails) be more responsible for increasing CO2 concentrations than mankind? At this point, I think that question is a valid one.

    After all, the human source represents only 3% (or less) the size of the natural fluxes in and out of the surface. This means that we would need to know the natural upward and downward fluxes to much better than 3% to say that humans are responsible for the current upward trend in atmospheric CO2. Are measurements of the global carbon fluxes much better than 3% in accuracy?? I doubt it.

    Just pure ham-handed speculation that *maybe* innacuracies in natural fluxes overwhelm the anthropogenic effect. (“The data we don’t have just might prove me right; therefore I’m not yet proven wrong.”) There is a reason this is just a blog entry and not currently under peer review.

    Most, if not all, experts in the global carbon cycle will at this point think I am totally off my rocker. Not being an expert in the global carbon cycle, I am admittedly sticking my neck out here. But, at a minimum, the results I will show make for a fascinating story – even if my hypothesis is wrong.

    It would be easy to say that last statement says it all and require no comment, but it doesn’t say it all. Check out Mr. Spencer telling us a little more about himself and his epistemic approach to life and science during his conversion to envangelical Christianity:

    The possibility then presented itself that, despite all I had previously thought, Genesis, the first book of the Bible, might actually be true! That realization led me to open a Bible for the first time, and to read it for myself, from the beginning. I also became open to reading the Bible because I discovered that a very intelligent friend of mine believed the Bible was the word of God. My family and I accepted this friend’s invitation to accompany him to church one Sunday . . .

    The guy ends up believing Dinosaurs were either demonic deceptions or creatures from a pre-creation for Godsakes. Spencer is probably unconcerned about AGW because he figures the Rapture will save his ass. Does it really make sense to make policy on something or someone this flakey?

    Kevin I’m ripping your source; not you. But this is the kind of thing I see all the time when I exchange with deniers (if that’s what you are).

    Skip

    Posted by: skip | December 17, 2009 6:56 PM

  34. #34 Kevin MacLellan
    December 18, 2009

    Six months ago I did not know what a denier meant other than an addict, an atheist, or sometimes my wife. I believe I may be an atheist or at least an agnostic so I guess I am a denier. However with regard to the climate debate currently raging, I am a very solid fence sitter. There is no black or white for me. I started by trying to get solid information on global warming using the internet. I am not a climatologist but was educated in earth science and water resources. I have also worked for the Ministry of Environment in Ontario for about 12 years after which I ran my own business, Maclellan Water Technology, for 27 years. I have always used the scientific method when investigating issues. My business was recently sold and I am now retired due to medical reasons, ergo the time to reflect on current issues.

    I am sorry to say that your response above was not helpful in that you are attacking the messenger and not what he is saying. It is better in this climate debate to stick to the issues on a scientific basis. In my experience no one seems to want to debate the issues in lay terms and will either throw lots of numbers at me and say take this example that is under contest or allow the use of side issues to be included in the debate. Spencer, Plimer, and several other trained earth scientists including credible climatologists question the facts as presented to prove AGW and then predict the outcomes. I do believe AGW is real but question the degree of mans input vs natural CO2 increases. This type of information is key as to what can be accomplished with severe CO2 restriction by humans.

    It currently appears that there is a solid core of climatologist that believe man’s air pollution is the primary cause global warming and that we can reverse trends by cutting back CO2 discharge. But having a little blood from Missouri, I needed to be shown. Al Gore, a high profile proponent of global warming, seems to have stirrred the public debate with his documentary on the problem. Right or wrong this documentary seems to have rallied a lot of environmentalists. My training has led me to to think that there must be a ying to his yang. The spokespeople for the proponents of global warming have not presented a solid case to convince me to get off the fence. Someone who is a true climatologist and does not have any interest in fudging numbers or working for funding needs to present the case for the proponent side so us lay people to the science can understand it better.

    kevin

  35. #35 skip
    December 18, 2009

    I am sorry to say that your response above was not helpful in that you are attacking the messenger and not what he is saying.

    With regard to the religious conversion and his adoption of Biblical literalism, yes it is partly *ad hominem*, but its also showing a *mindset*. I mean, come on, Kevin: All other things being equal, who would you more likely trust–someone who believes humanity evolved from an ape-like ancestor, or Spencer?

    It is better in this climate debate to stick to the issues on a scientific basis.

    That’s reasonable enough. But then what was the point of linking Spencer, who doesn’t even have data, and admits his theory is pure speculation?

    The spokespeople for the proponents of global warming have not presented a solid case to convince me to get off the fence.

    (Not that I’m the man to provide one), but what would constitute a “solid case”?

    Another question: What are the policy implications for a “fence sitter”–in other words, which way do you think we ought to go on things like CO2 emission reductions?

    Thanks for the discussion,

    Skip

  36. #36 Kevin MacLellan
    December 18, 2009

    I thought I found an answer when I read some of James Hanson’s climate assertions. He sounded like a reasonable man and a strong proponent of the AGW theories. However he is also criticized within his own group and lays into question his own assumptions. Freeman Dyson a renowned physicist best states the case for scientific study:

    On Global Warming: (from wickapedia)

    Dyson agrees that anthropogenic global warming exists, and has written
    “ One of the main causes of warming is the increase of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere resulting from our burning of fossil fuels such as oil and coal and natural gas.[21] ”

    However, he has argued that existing simulation models of climate fail to account for some important factors, and hence the results will contain too much error to reliably predict future trends.
    “ The models solve the equations of fluid dynamics, and they do a very good job of describing the fluid motions of the atmosphere and the oceans. They do a very poor job of describing the clouds, the dust, the chemistry and the biology of fields and farms and forests. They do not begin to describe the real world we live in…[21] ”

    He is among signatories of a letter to the UN criticizing the IPCC [22][23][24] and has also argued against the ostracization of scientists whose views depart from the acknowledged mainstream of scientific opinion on climate change, stating that “heretics” have historically been an important force in driving scientific progress.
    “ heretics who question the dogmas are needed… I am proud to be a heretic. The world always needs heretics to challenge the prevailing orthodoxies.[21] ”

    More recently, he has endorsed the now common usage of “global warming” as synonymous with global anthropogenic climate change, referring to recent
    “ measurements that transformed global warming from a vague theoretical speculation into a precise observational science.[25] ”

    but has argued that political efforts to reduce the causes of climate change distract from other global problems that should take priority.
    “ I’m not saying the warming doesn’t cause problems, obviously it does. Obviously we should be trying to understand it. I’m saying that the problems are being grossly exaggerated. They take away money and attention from other problems that are much more urgent and important. Poverty, infectious diseases, public education and public health. Not to mention the preservation of living creatures on land and in the oceans.[26] ”

    Dyson’s views on global warming have been criticized as failing to understand the amount of carbon sequestration needed.[27] Dyson has proposed that whatever inflammations the climate was experiencing might be a good thing because carbon dioxide helps plants of all kinds grow. His caveat is that if CO2 levels soar too high, they could be soothed by the mass cultivation of specially bred “carbon-eating trees”. He calculates that it would take a trillion trees to remove all carbon from the atmosphere, which he believes in principle is quite feasible.[28]

    Dyson is well-aware that his “heresy” on global warming has been strongly criticized. In reply, he notes that:
    “ My objections to the global warming propaganda are not so much over the technical facts, about which I do not know much, but it’s rather against the way those people behave and the kind of intolerance to criticism that a lot of them have.[13]

    Dyson does summarize some of my fence sitting thoughts. He does think we should have engineered solutions readied such as growing trees. Stewart Brand (Whole Earth Discipline: An Ecopragmatist Manifesto) also thinks we ought to prepare other engineered answers to global warming. I as a fence sitter would like to ratchet down the doomsday scenarios and think about solutions that will counter the CO2 effects. The jury is still out on the results. I would state that I think the efforts of Copenhagen were just about right..not too much but enough to buy time to monitor and fix the current science. We will in the end do the right thing I have no doubt.

  37. #37 dhogaza
    December 18, 2009

    Dyson…

    “ The models solve the equations of fluid dynamics, and they do a very good job of describing the fluid motions of the atmosphere and the oceans. They do a very poor job of describing the clouds, the dust, the chemistry and the biology of fields and farms and forests. They do not begin to describe the real world we live in…[21] ”

    The Hadley couple model has an entire module that does nothing *but* model the biosphere’s role in the carbon cycle.

    Dyson hand-waves that this modeling is “very poor”. Why should I believe him? Has he studied the model? Seeing as it’s proprietary (UK Met is supposed to largely pay its way and its various forecast products are apparently a large part of its revenue) I rather doubt it.

    Likewise, has he made any specific statements showing that, say, NASA GISS Model E’s dynamic cloud modeling module does a “very poor job”?

    Have you considered that maybe he’s a smart man talking out his rear when it comes to climate modeling?

  38. #38 skip
    December 18, 2009

    Hey Kevin:

    Just tucked my far-better-looking half to bed after we both imbibed of Martinis so please forgive any evident incoherence.

    Also, please embrace my far-more-learned-and-at-times-abrasive cohort Dhogaza. He’s tame, really. Hang around the forum enough and trust me, you will learn a lot reading his posts.

    Dyson has always been an intriguing figure for me as an AGW believer. I don’t think anyone questions either his brilliance or his sincerity. A lot of us who’ve been here for a while were already familiar with the material you cited, but its still good stuff.

    But note, he does not question the fundamental premise of
    AGW, he is only a “heretic” with regards to policy implications. He’s not a big fan of carbon emissions reductions, putting his money on absorption through genetically engineered trees.

    And you know, Kevin: I hope he’s right that that is even feasible.

    But what if it is not?

    It goes back to the issue of what a “fence-sitter” should think. If you’re on the fence with regard to the possible long term effects of AGW, then what policies are recommended?

    I confess my cowardice: Play safe and reduce CO2 emissions. What do we really lose in the long run–big homes and the joys of driving Hummers? Those penalties seem tolerable to me.

    Skip

  39. #39 Dappledwater
    December 19, 2009

    “I do believe AGW is real but question the degree of mans input vs natural CO2 increases. This type of information is key as to what can be accomplished with severe CO2 restriction by humans.” – Kevin MacLellan.

    Huh?. From someone trained in earth sciences?. Where could the extra “natural” CO2 be coming from?. Ian Plimer’s undersea volcanoes?. With cunningly disguised isotope ratios?. And atmospheric oxygen just coincidentally happens to be decreasing at a rate consistent with human’s burning of fossil fuels?.

    http://scienceblogs.com/illconsidered/2006/03/co2-rise-is-natural.php

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suess_effect

  40. #40 kevin MacLellan
    December 19, 2009

    If sitting on the fence is defined as a denier, then I would be happy to be in the group that includes Dyson. However as a fence sitter I believe we should be a little cautious and hedge our bets. Rachel Carson was right about DDT but the banning probably killed more people via malaria than any other action. It does not mean that we were not correct in getting rid of DDT. While I was working with environmentalists it was always said that the solution to pollution (water) was dilution. This was an approach to water problems I could never agree. So how do these statements relate to global warming.

    If we spend tons of money in faulty cap and trade or what ever other name is applied, so that so called third world countries can afford to offset their potential greenhouse gas discharges, I would say we will not see any net reduction of CO2 globally. I am also sure that a lot of very brilliant people have been thinking about the problems of cap and trade. As I see it and as happened in the past with other diversions of money, all that will happen is that the money that would normally go to these countries to address other issues will be lessened. The net result will be in human tolls dealing with their immediate needs of food, water, and environmental caused disease. I only hope that the implementers of cap and trade can get a good monitoring and policing procedure in place.

    Excess CO2 can still come from the oceans. Not necessarily via tectonic action but by regional disparity. As with pollution the solution is not dilution even if the oceans could easily assimilate all the world sewage discharges. How would this type of discharge be dispersed to create equalized discharges in the oceans? It is not possible. So to is even dispersion of air borne pollution and global warming gases. Where the ocean is warming greatest (northern latitudes) the CO2 will likely be in a positive flux to the atmosphere. The amount of absorption of CO2 is diminishing as the oceans warm and is exacerbated by the human input of CO2 to the environment. The loss of vegetation in the tropical areas will further help us lose a natural CO2 sink.

    By the way, tectonic action can release large amount of greenhouse gases and can discharge large amounts of iron, manganese, and sulphur that will stimulate bacterial activity that will help to create discharges of both CO2 and CH4. It is my opinion that all of the iron will be taken up be reducing bacteria (CO2 and CH4 producers) in the deep oceans. We have only just discovered these vents in the past 40-50 years. We had never monitored the plates and the discharges from vents.

    I guess I am more pessimistic about man being able to control greenhouse gas by simply stopping human inputs even to a 100% level. I believe mother nature will have lots to say and will in all likely hood be very resilient. I can only urge caution and little turning down of the doomsday rhetoric I hear. The squeaky wheel is always greased but we should remember that the cart is made up of more than wheels.

  41. #41 Dappledwater
    December 19, 2009

    “If sitting on the fence is defined as a denier, then I would be happy to be in the group that includes Dyson.” – Kevin MacLellan

    Sure. If you say so.

    “Excess CO2 can still come from the oceans. Not necessarily via tectonic action but by regional disparity. ” – Kevin MacLellan

    See, this is where the denialist mindset kick in, rather rely on the research and publications of the many tens of thousands of scientists involved in climate, you would rather make stuff up.

    The oceans are currently a net sink for CO2 emissions, in fact the largest on the planet. It’s why the Earth’s oceans are becoming more acidic:

    http://www.epoca-project.eu/index.php/What-is-ocean-acidification.html

    Need to see some peer-reviewed studies on the topic?.

  42. #42 kevin
    December 19, 2009

    Sure! I’m glad you agree that Dyson is good company. Oh crap, maybe I deserved the sarcasm. I forge on anyway..

    As the pH and temperature of surface water changes, the ability of the oceans to absorb CO2 is lessened. Any excess CO2 formed in the depths of the ocean in hand with the excess human CO2 will exacerbate the problem. I am not convinced that the greenhouse gases formed at depth within the ocean are not significant in this scenario. The CO2 generated from the oceans does not have to be discharged but rather the changes in temperature and PH cause the atmosphere to retain more CO2. There may also be localized or wide ranged regional outgassing of CO2 if the pH is lowered. If the ocean is particularly subjected to winds the CO2 will also be allowed to flow towards the atmosphere. The mechanics as I understand them suggest CO2 can be released from oceans. This release may be occurring currently only on a localized bases as the Oceans are reported to be a net sink of CO2. Why does the ocean not equalize all the pCO2 (partial atmospheric pressure related to CO2) but we continue to record increases of pCO2É Something might be wrong with the oceans. There are lots of scientists working on the problem of global warming. I have also seen a lot of recent credible literature from the denial side.

    The problem with sitting on the fence is that both sides of the fence are pulling at you to fall in one direction or the other. The proponents of AWG place me in a deniers role whereas the deniers place me in a proponents role. In either case no one can be neutral unless that person is also neutral. If that is the case lets say that I am riding a pendulum that see strengths and weakness on both sides of the climate argument. I reiterate, I am not a climatologist..just a guy with time on his hands to delve into global warming and find answers for myself. I see things from my own life experience working many years with ground water issues.

    I can say that the pendulum spends more time in the proponent zone but I still have serious doubts of the effects espoused by the proponent side. It is better to proceed with remedies slowly so we don’t lose sight of the problems real people could have as a result of drastic steps to curb the CO2 discharges. The real price I fear will be in human toll for third world countries. I have tried to put my thoughts forward in this thread but it would seem I cannot satisfy anyone. The suggested readings and web sites are appreciated. I do believe that the problem of correcting climate warming is more complicated than a simple curbing of human sourced CO2. I view mandated curbing of CO2 discharge as a form of engineering a solution. What if the warming continues even if the abatement reaches 100%, do we have plan B ready. This plan could then be the Dyson’s solution with trees or Stewart Brand’s solution of equipping airplanes so they discharge sulphur contrails. The point is the ducks are lined up for the shot but we may be shooting the wrong and very expensive ammo.

  43. #43 Matt Bennett
    December 19, 2009

    Kevin,

    If you REALLY are interseted in the facts of the matter and want to see just how detailed has been the past century-and-a-half’s research into climate, read the draft book linked below and then get back to us. You’ll realise scientists far smarter than Dyson on climate have long ago thought of all the various sources, sinks and forcings that may be at play here and HAVE been treating Earth (amongst other planets) as a whole system. Currently, CO2 is the major driver on medium to long term scales. Read it, there’s really not a lot of room for fence sitting once you start to get an understanding of the topic. Try to leave the personalities out of it and concentrate on the science as it appears in peer-review, after all, that’s what you implicitly do with every other branch of science as it pertains to everyday life. Good luck.

    geosci.uchicago.edu/~rtp1/ClimateBook/ClimateBook.html

  44. #44 dhogaza
    December 20, 2009

    I have also seen a lot of recent credible literature from the denial side.

    I eagerly await links to this literature, then.

    And don’t post the damned “450 papers that refute global warming” crap that includes papers from the non-reviewed E&E, and a bunch of papers that don’t “refute global warming” in the least.

  45. #45 skip
    December 20, 2009

    I don’t know about the “far smarter than Dyson” part but I could believe “better versed in the relevant science”.

    Skip

  46. #46 kevin
    December 20, 2009

    Thanks Matt, that site seems very reasonable and contains lots of climate info. I am not sure I can keep up with R. T. Pierrehumbert’s math but I will struggle over the next 2 months or so. The document is >500 pages and for me it will likely be a challenging read. Hopefully I can claim to at least be better versed in the climate debate if I manage to struggle this read. I am in my mid sixties and am losing grey matter, so the challenge is even greater but education never should end so struggle I will. This is the first factual site recommended that contains pertinent information on planetary climate.

    And Dhogaza get your hands off your hips and relax a little. Join Skip and have a martini. I did not enter this blog to pick a fight but to try to get information. I do not need to read more proponent or skeptic blogs that serve no purpose other than to promote a stance on an issue that I am trying to grapple. Reasonable people will find a reasonable position. If I find the right arguments for a skeptic stance as well as for a proponent stance I will let you know. The climate science is not a religion and there is no need to be dogmatic. Appropriately, I thought I’d quote Ian Plimer or at least something from his book, “The mind is like a parachute, it only works when it is open.” Sorry but I could not resist.

    The big question will be an appropriate response to global warming. It could mean severe human restriction, doing nothing, or most likely somewhere in between. I only hope the action does not result in a bad reaction.

    I am away from a computer for a while so; Merry Christmas to all (my agnostic side).

  47. #47 dhogaza
    December 20, 2009

    And Dhogaza get your hands off your hips and relax a little. Join Skip and have a martini. I did not enter this blog to pick a fight but to try to get information

    You made a claim. Back it up or quit whining.

  48. #48 kevin
    January 6, 2010

    Hello all and Happy New Year.

    Matt, Ray’s book is intended as a text for climatology students. My daughter attends Queens U in Ontario and is studying physical geography with a climatology component. She looked at the book being prepared by Ray and said it resembles her course (which she really likes) in climates. I think the book will be important as a tool for all future planetary climatologists. Kudos go to Ray Pierrehumbert. Thanks again for the reference. Maybe I am now off the fence with at least one foot in the proponent side.

    I am really bogged down with chapter four and may have to read just the general ideas and avoid the math. Matt, if you have made it through this book, I have a new found respect for you. Keep your mind open.

    I can not find much information in the text on methane from the oceans on earth as released in the following discussion. But I will read on. A word of warning to readers of this text it will be challenging and you should have recent physics and math skills. My gray matter is too soft and I do not intend to become a climatologist but the book does reinforce global warming by anthropogenic CO2 releases. Climatology is a curious and demanding subject that seems to be under evolution. For this reason, Climate will make a good career choice for students.

    As this thread deals with potential global warming as arising from the earth, I have located some sites of interest for potential ocean generated climate warming gases. The information presented by these connections are not long but seem credible.

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2005/12/methane-hydrates-and-global-warming/

    http://ec.europa.eu/research/rtdinfo/pdf/rtd48_en.pdf

    http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2009/methane-0902.html

    http://geosci.uchicago.edu/~archer/reprints/archer.2005.clathrates.pdf

    The above sites relate to the methane potential that the oceans could have on Earth’s climate. This potential is locked up as methane clathrate or methane hydrate and are usually difficult to release. Many of the plumes are only recently discovered and are difficult to locate. You should also look up clathrate gun hypothesis.

    However, there have been recent discoveries of plumes (pockmarked) of methane or carbon dioxide released from the ocean reservoirs of methane clathrates. It is not yet known if these releases are a result of global warming and its effect on the oceans or if they have been released to the atmosphere over a much longer period. Methane release from clathrate breakdown has been thought to be the cause of past earth warming. The methane trapped as clathrate will exhibit similar footprint of fossil carbon. There is no good handle on the amount of carbon released from these newly found plumes. Better information can be found in these articles.

    We are all aware that methane is a very transitory molecule once exposed to the atmosphere ( it is converted to CO2 and water vapour). I have read that the pre-industrial age methane has been estimated at 1.0 ppmv and that is is now about 1.7 ppmv. The actual methane discharged to the atmosphere can be much higher than accounted but now disguised as CO2. It would be interesting to know if the increase of CH4 from these ocean plumes can be quantified into actual carbon as CO2 once it has been converted. The small increase in methane detected in the atmosphere may be a very small component of carbon released and converted to CO2. It would thus appear that all fossil carbon is not anthropogenic. Brilliant minds may have already resolved the issue as I see it. Let me know if you are aware of any studies.

    However if it is not resolved, how can the carbon budgets be accurate if we cannot account for all the sources of carbon but simply say that all the fossil carbon is from man made activity? It seems obvious to me that the potential discharge of greenhouse gases from the ocean is larger than accounted. My original questions of the earth (through the ocean) as a potential source of global warming remain unresolved in my mind. Can we stop global warming “simply” by stopping man made discharge of global warming gases? I do not refute global warming and man is certainly a significant contributor of global warming gases. I do believe that eventually we will need engineered solutions in conjunction with reduction. I would seriously question if reduction alone can reverse the global warming today. Or even if reduction can be significant to have any effect.