A Few Things Ill Considered

Of all the myriad climate skeptic arguments out there, the argument that the current rise in CO2 is not human caused truly is one of the most ridiculous positions one could take.

(Please note, I am not saying it is ridiculous to consider, we should consider everything, but like wondering if the light in the fridge really turns off when you close the door, a quick check with your cell phone video camera really should put it to rest!)

It is of course one of the standard denials in the HTTTACS series.

I am closing comments on that thread and directing them here, as surprising as it is to me that there is any need to discuss it!

I’m doing that now because one of our frequent septical visitors is trying to make the case that the CO2 rise is not ours.

It is also an opportunity to use some material that one of AFTIC’s visitors, Doug Mackie, has graciously provided. Doug is a PhD in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand. His chemistry degree caught my attention when he responded to another of the more vapid denialist arguments, that CO2 is such a small part of the atmosphere that it can’t possibly have any noticeable effect. I asked him for some good examples of things that are deadly in very tiny concentrations.

Well, it turned out that he is a frequent battler of global warming denial in newspapers and various other venues in New Zeland and so has a few good answers up his sleeve. I will quote below a couple of more specific objections in the “that CO2 ain’t us” meme and Doug’s excellent responses.

Question and Answer 1:

Q: Carbon isotopic ratios indicate that while there is a contribution from the burning of fossil fuels, it is of the order 1-5 percent of the increase in atmospheric CO2.

A: This confusion has to do with residence times and mixing.

Calculating the amount of fossil fuel CO2 in the atmosphere purely from a change in the carbon isotope ratio is not trivial. This is because there is constant natural exchange between the atmosphere, the oceans and the terrestrial biosphere (plants and soil). For example, the famous saw-toothing of the Keeling Curve shows the annual uptake and release of atmospheric CO2 by Northern Hemisphere plants. (There is also a SH effect but as the NH has way more land the effect is more obvious).

(image from Global Warming Art)

Look at AR3WG1 Figure 3.1 . It shows the sizes of each pool and the fluxes between each pool. The oceans contain something like 38,000 Pg of carbon (1 Pg = 1 billion tonnes), the atmosphere about 730 Pg C and the land 2,000 Pg C. However, the natural flux (or exchange) between the atmosphere and the oceans is about 90 Pg C y-1 and between the atmosphere and the land the flux is 120 Pg C y-1. This means that each year 230/730 = 32% of the total CO2 in the atmosphere is exchanged with other reservoirs.

A vital point to note is that it is not the exact same carbon atoms taken up and released (i.e. if they all had serial numbers it would be different ones taken up and released). Thus, the natural flux means that though the total CO2 in the atmosphere is increasing, many of the fossil carbon atoms released to the atmosphere have been swapped and are now in the ocean or in soils/plants.

So it might be technically true (in a Bill Clinton sense) to suggest 1-5% of the individual carbon atoms in the atmosphere at any one time are the exact same carbon atoms released by fossil fuel burning. However, it is the increase in total CO2 that matters in terms of the radiative balance of the atmosphere, not the exact serial number on each carbon atom.

Question and Answer 2:

Q: how do we know the CO2 hasn’t come form the oceans?

A: Since the oceans contain over 50 times more carbon than the atmosphere and soil and plants contain at least twice as much carbon as the atmosphere, ( AR3WG1 Figure 3.1 ), is it possible relatively small changes in either reservoir are responsible for the increase in the atmosphere?

We can be confident the CO2 has come from the oxidation of fossil fuels and has not come from out gassing from the ocean or from soil/land sources by using two key observations.

1) Oxygen decrease

Atmospheric oxygen is going down by the same amount as atmospheric CO2 is going up. Oxygen is so abundant at about 21% that we are in no danger of running out; the change in oxygen simply shows that whatever the source of CO2 in the atmosphere, the carbon part of it has come from the oxidation of reduced carbon compounds and the oxygen has come from oxygen gas in the atmosphere. That is, the extra CO2 was not released in the form of CO2 from an unknown source but instead some reduced carbon compound was burnt in the atmosphere to produce CO2. See: AR3WG1 Section 3.5.1, especially Figure 3.4.

2) Known fossil fuel CO2 emissions.

Most obviously, any alternative explanation for the source of the CO2 in the atmosphere has to also come up with where the 30 billion tonnes of CO2 known to be released by fossil fuel burning each year goes.

Atmospheric CO2 is currently increasing at about 2 ppmv per year (or 16 billion tonnes). That is, only around half of the CO2 we release remains in the atmosphere. The pH decrease in the oceans corresponds to most of the “missing” CO2, so we can also be confident that land use changes etc are not a major source/sink. Caveat: Land use and biomass changes certainly soak up a lot of CO2, some it simply regrowth of forests etc, but the point is that the increasing CO2 in the atmosphere clearly demonstrates that they do not soak up enough.

In summary: (amount of increased CO2 in the atmosphere + the amount of increased CO2 in the oceans) = (amount of known fossil fuel emissions of CO2).

Just how many nails do we need in the coffin before this argument finally stays dead and buried?

Comments

  1. #1 Jim Eager
    June 16, 2009

    Coby, unfortunately it will never stay dead and buried because, as I’m sure you well know, for those who continue to resurrect it, it is not about facts or even about truth.

  2. #2 coby
    June 16, 2009

    FYI, Doug has a post with some overlapping material over on Hot Topic.

    I don’t normally give much thought to random commenters, but this utterance seemed too rich to ignore:
    “I think de Lange is sincere in belief on this issue, so he hasn’t lost credibility either”

    So the guy believes something completely wrong, but since he is sincere…well, my mind boggles at that one.!

  3. #3 coby
    June 16, 2009

    Hi Jim,

    Yes, you are correct. But I still like to get the facts out there at least for the lurkers…

  4. #4 llewelly
    June 16, 2009

    Personally, I’m fond of the theory that environmentalists are secretly pumping CO2 into the atmosphere in order to cause global warming, force world government down everyone’s throats, and RULE THE WORLD!!! MUAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

  5. #5 Monica from ACCCE
    June 17, 2009

    Why not consider clean coal technology?

    Despite what you may have heard or read, the FutureGen project has not been cancelled — citizens and legislators from its proposed site of Mattoon, Ill. are continuing to work towards the original plan of building a commercial-scale coal-generated power plant using clean coal technology.

    We know this because the America’s Power team has been traveling around the country talking to the people who are behind the production of cleaner electricity from coal on the Factuality Tour.

    Mattoon residents understand what a great boost the plant will be to the local economy – and how much the technology will mean to the rest of the world. Hear what they have to say at http://sn.im/factuality5.

  6. #6 Fio
    June 17, 2009

    Hi Coby and Jim, unfortunately you are both very right.

    This is not about science, it’s only about politics and the interest groups behind it.

    If this topic was just about science, there would just be healthy academic debate, not this kind of misinformation.

    Among the many things that leave me speechless:

    (a) Some people claim GW to be just a theory. Well everything in science “is just a theory”. So if this is the argument, you might as well not believe in Relativity theory, Quantum Mechanics, Evolution, and any other scientific discoveries.

    (b) Most GW deniers make claims without even reading the IPCC reports, let alone reading the primary available sources. If you want to criticize something, you should at least know the subject.

  7. #7 Kate
    June 17, 2009

    Hey there, I found your blog via RealClimate and was very impressed. This article alone taught me all sorts of things I didn’t know about. I’m hoping to be a climatologist one day (long way to go though….) so it was great to learn more in advance. Makes me know that this is really a topic that fascinates me. If you don’t mind, I think I’ll link to you on my blog.

    Speaking of my blog, I’d love for you to come and check it out….it deals exclusively with climate change, usually in the context of ideas such as credibility, risk management, and responsible journalism. Link is on my username. Thanks!

  8. #8 Chris Maddigan
    June 23, 2009

    I was looking forward to a clear argument that demonstrates that CO2 levels are only rising because of anthropogenic emissions. But your post does no such thing. Boiled down to its core all you are saying is that the increase in CO2 is of the same order of magnitude as emissions thus it is plausible that emissions are the cause. I agree with you but this is a far cry from a demonstration.

    You final equation :
    (amount of increased CO2 in the atmosphere + the amount of increased CO2 in the oceans) = (amount of known fossil fuel emissions of CO2) is simply a truism (if you add change in land based carbon sinks) to it. It tells us nothing at all about the cause of the increase. Any of the factors in the equation could be driving the process. It tells us nothing at all about what CO2 levels would be if there were no emissions.
    The real problem as I see it is that the CO2 levels in the ocean and on land are not well known. Data is poor.

    You mention the decrease in Oxygen in the atmosphere. Any change in this level is so miniscule that it is likely to be within the measurement error . Even if it could be measured it would be irrelevant. All that it would tell us is that burning fossil fuels uses oxygen. We already knew that.
    If you want to put a nail in a so called skeptic myth then you must use nails made from solid logic. I despair that so many people on both sides of this debate have such a poor grasp of rational analysis.

  9. #9 Steve Brown
    June 23, 2009

    One other important point to note about the provenance of CO2 is that fossil fuel deposits are depleted in Carbon-14, whereas CO2 that has had some contact with the atmosphere within the past few 1000 years will be relatively enriched in C-14. CO2 derived from fossil fuels is distinctive in it’s isotopic signature.

  10. #10 coby
    June 23, 2009

    Hi Chris,

    Did you read the initial posting on this subject, here? If not, it is where the main case is presented which has to do with the changing isotopic signature of CO2 in the atmosphere in addition to the blindingly obvious fact that humans are pumping more than enough CO2 to account for the rise into the atmosphere and CO2′s residence time in the atmosphere is decades to centuries.

    Does that strike you as logical enough? If not, what kind of evidence would you need?

    BTW, I disagree with your comment about measuring O2. Just because its concentration is 20% does not mean it can’t be measured at the level of ppm.

    Thanks for the comment!

  11. #11 Steve Brown
    June 23, 2009

    Correction to post #9: That should be fossil fuel deposits are depleted in Carbon-13 and 14 relative to non-fossil carbon.

  12. #12 Shoshin
    June 23, 2009

    The dumbest part about this article is that it begins with the presupposition that AGW is real and searches for any evidence that may support it.

    I see nothing in here that draws any linkage between CO2 and changes, either up or down in temperature. And the evidence presented is rather pedestrian.

    Why don’t you do an article on how the theory of AGW might be proved wrong? That would have far more scientific veracity, be far more interesting and actually till some new soil. And that is what real scientists do; they try to disprove their own theories.

    You might infuriate a lot of people, but hey… relax… it’s only science.

  13. #13 Doug Mackie
    June 23, 2009

    I can’t help but wonder: Yesterday I rattled a few cages via direct emails and lo and behold after some inactivity this thread picks up.

    So, perhaps I should clarify (with apologies for the long post):

    But first, let me ask: Is there truly anyone who doubts that the increase in atmospheric CO2 is the result of releases of CO2 from burning fossil fuels? The *finer* points of what this may mean for the climate is still a topic for research. But not the cause of the increase in CO2.

    Anyhow, the claims that have been made are:

    Claim 1) The Ocean contains ~50x more carbon than the atmosphere and therefore it is at least possible that the observed increase in atmospheric CO2 is just due to leakage from the oceans. [Aside: It is an important point that in the atmosphere almost all of the carbon is in the form of CO2. In the oceans the carbon is in the forms of HCO3- (bicarbonate ion), dissolved CO2 gas and carbonate ion (CO3 -2) which can all interconvert].

    Claim 2) A candidate mechanism for the oceans to be a source of CO2 is thermal degassing. Cold water can hold more dissolved gas than warm water and when the water warms it releases the gas. Thus, the claim is that warming of the oceans since [fill in your own idea; e.g “the little ice age”] is primarily responsible for the observed increase in CO2 levels. This was backed up by the claim about isotope measurements showing that only 1-5% of CO2 in the atmosphere came from fossil fuels and that the rest came from the oceans.

    Discussion:
    A) Figure 3.1 of 3rd IPCC report shows the sizes of the reservoirs and the fluxes between the reservoirs. That is, there is a huge amount of transfer between the ocean, air, and land reservoirs. (The sawtoothing of ML is an example).

    B) Consider this simplified analogy: Imagine a bucket of 10 red balls and 90 green balls and a room containing 5000 green balls. Each day add one red ball to the bucket. Each day take 10 random balls from the room and 10 random balls from the bucket and swap them. After a while you will find that the total number of red balls in the universe (bucket + room) has increased but the number of red balls in the bucket is largely stable. The fact that the most of the green balls in the bucket actually originated in the room is irrelevant.

    Another way is to think of “turnover” in a business. It is misleading to talk about turnover when everyone else is talking about profit.

    C) Thus, it might be technically true to say that isotopic ratios show most of the individual molecules of CO2 (i.e. if they had serial numbers) in the atmosphere originated in the ocean. But the fact remains that the total carbon content of the atmosphere is increasing. We know this because of CO2 measurements.

    D) The extra atmospheric CO2 can NOT have come from the oceans. The extra CO2 has come from the burning of fossil fuels.

    E) For one thing, if the CO2 in the atmosphere does come from the oceans, then where has the CO2 from fossil fuels gone?

    F) Well, some has gone into the oceans. That is, the total carbon content of the oceans is increasing. We know this because of measured pH changes and measurements of the partial pressure of CO2 (pCO2) in surface waters. (Put overly simply, the sea gets more acidic as more CO2 dissolves into the water). Thus the ocean is a net sink.

    G) Other proof: Atmospheric oxygen is decreasing at the same rate that fossil fuels are being burnt. This shows that the source of CO2 in the atmosphere is carbon (i.e. not as CO2) that is burnt in the atmosphere to form CO2. Thermal degassing of the oceans could only release CO2 and this would NOT cause a decrease in atmospheric oxygen.

    H) Other proof: The measured increase in carbon content of the oceans + the measured increase in the carbon content of the atmospheres equals the amount of CO2 released by fossil fuel burning. This shows that the oceans are not a net source of CO2. (i.e. there is no other sink for fossil fuel CO2).

  14. #14 coby
    June 23, 2009

    Hey Doug,

    You ask if anyone really thinks the increase in CO2 is not anthropogenic. Sadly, Roy Spencer has actually tried to make this case, albeit rather sheepishly.

  15. #15 Adam
    June 23, 2009

    Shoshin -

    The dumbest part about this article is that it begins with the presupposition that AGW is real and searches for any evidence that may support it.

    Wrong. This article begins with the observation that atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations are increasing, and presents evidence that the cause of the observed increase is due to human activity.

    Your run-of-the-mill denialist (yourself included) has a lot of work to do to counter all the evidence presented by Doug Mackie. Not least of all is to answer the question “where did all the CO2 we emit from industrial activities go if not the atmosphere?”

    I consider it somewhat self-evident that releasing CO2 into the atmosphere leads to CO2 concentration increasing, but Doug Mackie’s answer is 1000x better than mine :)

    I see nothing in here that draws any linkage between CO2 and changes, either up or down in temperature. And the evidence presented is rather pedestrian.

    Considering that’s not the point of this post, you shouldn’t expect to find that here. For this, see here:
    http://scienceblogs.com/illconsidered/2006/02/there-is-no-proof-that-co2-is-causing.php

    Why don’t you do an article on how the theory of AGW might be proved wrong? That would have far more scientific veracity, be far more interesting and actually till some new soil. And that is what real scientists do; they try to disprove their own theories.

    This really isn’t all that complicated. Examples include 1) a complete, long-term reversal of the temperature record in the absence of a major mitigating event (major volcano, comet crashing into the planet and throwing up an enormous dust cloud, etc.) 2)the discovery that the greenhouse is actually a myth, and the planet is as warm as it is because we’re actually closer to the sun than we thought or 3)temperatures are increasing because Jesus put an extra blanket around us to keep us warm.

    And yes, to a certain extent, I’m mocking you. But there are plenty of possibilities for falsifying the theory completely (which is what I took your statement to mean); we just haven’t done so, and it’s unlikely that we will.

  16. #16 Tom
    June 24, 2009

    Actually our problem is that we have too little, rather than too much CO2 in the atmosphere. When the Earth formed, the atmosphere contained about 20% CO2. in the several billions of years that has gone by since, most of this CO2 was converted to organic material and oxygen and into calcium and magnesium carbonates through weathering. Some of the organic material, mostly through the “biological pump” action of the oceans became trapped on the ocean floor and some of it was converted to fossil fuel. Both of these processes, trapping of organic material and weathering are not easily reversible, it takes major volcanic and tectonic action to release the trapped CO2. As a result the atmosphere was depleted of CO2 and it is currently only slightly(geologically speaking)above the 100 to 150ppm considered to be the minimum to sustain life. Mankind’s use of fossil fuel is beneficial as being one of the few mechanisms that releases trapped CO2. Running out of atmospheric CO2 is not an immediate danger,-neither is global warming – but it will eventually happen.

  17. #17 Doug Mackie
    June 24, 2009

    On a long timescale (even more than an electoral cycle) the weathering of carbonate minerals (like limestone CaCO3) is CO2 neutral.

    Because, as well as CO2, the weathering also releases calcium (duh). And, to close the loop the calcium eventually takes up carbonate and forms limestone. Begin again.

    “Tom”, I presume you mean change isn’t all bad as in: “It is just as well the Achaean atmosphere was polluted with excremental oxygen because we could not have lived in that atmosphere”?

    I wonder how the anerobes felt about that.

  18. #18 Robert Grumbine
    June 24, 2009

    @16 In talking about ‘too little’, it’s a good idea to consider as well what would be ‘too much’. I, since I don’t hate humanity, think it would be a bad thing to have CO2 high enough to kill off our species. 20% would do so. Even if you look forward to that day, I don’t.

    ‘geologically speaking’ is a (church lady)convenient(/church lady) weasel term, up there with ‘up to’ in ‘lose up to 5 lbs/week’. Considering things more carefully, the observed range of CO2 levels in the past 800 ky is 180-300 ppm. Life is observed to have survived the 180 ok, including those species that prefer a higher figure. Some species are adept at living with lower concentrations — evolutionary adaptation. In any event, we’re nowhere near, even in ‘geological’ terms falling below 100 ppm.

  19. #19 Shoshin
    June 24, 2009

    Judging by the vacuous nature of your replies, I should not be surprised that the tag that you sent me to contains numerous challenges to your own assertions, and no considered answers.

    Maybe you should stop pretending to be a scientist.

    I see nothing on this website but a bootlicking lackey for Realclimate.org

  20. #20 coby
    June 24, 2009

    Shoshin,

    Standard stuff you offer: dismissive and disparaging language, no specific argument, personal insults.

    When you have nothing rational to provide, this is typically all that is left.

    Thanks, and goodbye.

  21. #21 Max
    August 6, 2009

    Your equation says increased CO2(atmosphere) + increased C02(ocean)= CO2(emissions). Shouldn’t the equation include absorbed CO2(biomass)?

    You seem to be assuming that biomass capture and release within the cycle and the resulting effect on residence time are all constants, when clearly they cannot be, and that biomass absorption never leads to long-term sequestration.

  22. #22 Doug Mackie
    August 6, 2009

    Not sure I follow your question.
    Do you mean to ask if total biomass is changing with time?
    Permanent biomass sequestration is making coal and oil. Anything else is temporary.

    There is a great deal in TAR and AR4 about land use changes. And, yes, the uncertainties are large.But the point I am making is that the books are balanced:

    Currently each year the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere increases by just over 4 PgC. The pH decrease in the ocean corresponds to about 2 PgC. We release over 6 PgC from fossil fuels.

    Thus, any land use or biomass changes are relatively small. And we can say with confidence that the extra CO2 in the atmosphere has come from fossil fuels and not any other source like ocean degassing or biomass changes.

  23. #23 A.Everitt
    November 21, 2009

    Coby’s arguments are typical.He Has one tiny fact(?) to seize upon and scoffs at or ridicules anyone who doesn’t believe it also.Mr Coby you can scoff all you want.It won’t make it true–or make it come true. There are many many holes in this argument.Instead of scoffing why don’t you do a little research into BOTH SIDES.Time will certainly tell on this one.At some time in the future you will look back with the rest of us and realize that nobody did anything because it didn’t need doing and we shall all be back to normal again until another doom-sayer or religious fanatic emerges.Write a text-book on the subject and we can all have a laugh later just like we did over the Piltdown Man and the crop circles. If you need any source material for your studies let me know.Meanwhile just keep trotting along with the other sheep behind that great hypocrite Al Gore.

  24. #24 J.Gray
    November 22, 2009

    Mr. Everitt,
    please explain cobys one fact. I have read over this argument a number of times now and have finally grasped what is being said and as far as I can see there appear to be numerous facts. You comments are boring and repetative and do not seem to go anywhere other than to insult. Why don’t you just go and play with the creationists and leave the real discussions to people who know what they are talking about.

  25. #25 J.Gray
    November 22, 2009

    Hi all, I’m new to the chat but have been reading the blog for some time now and am very interested in understanding the AGW ‘debate’. I think I may now understand the evidence for CO2 rise and why scientists understand its origin to be man made. What I would like to say is that I read a report today, from the Guardian newspaper HERE and one of the names mentioned was a certain Tom Victor Segalstad. And as his claim is that the WHOLE CO2 increase being man made is BS I thought I’d take a cursory glance over his claims HERE. Now, I’m no scientist, but i feel i have a relative grip on the detail of this and reading through his conclusion at the bottom of the page I failed to notice any reference to ocean acidification or atmospheric O2 decrease which blows his hypothesis out of the water (pun intended). I also noticed that the page was created in 1997 and all references are pre this date, so maybe the connections hadn’t been made then?. On the flip side I did notice some extremely heavy accusations thrown out in all directions regarding the fudging of data through the ages. I also know he is one of senator Inhofes 400 scientists and that he has been involved with the IPCC.
    I would really appreciate having some light shed on this fellow. The idea that politicians listen to him and he is not in full receipt of the relevant facts (or any facts at all?) is nuts, though unsurprising! And what is this missing carbon sink he keeps banging on about?
    John

  26. #26 J.Gray
    November 22, 2009

    Woops. That second link is broken… try again HERE

  27. #27 skip
    November 22, 2009

    This is an example of what I was saying over on the other thread: We need an “Encyclopedia of Denial”. I read Segalstad’s arguments when I read *The Deniers* by Lawrence Solomon but I forget exactly what was bogus about them. (What rings a bell is that he makes completely unsubstantiated but inherently unfalsifiable assertions about how he’s been a victim of academic censorship but I’m basing this on my own admittedly frail memory.)

    If we could slowly build this thing where a reader could just hit the “S” link and “Segalstad, Tom” would be there somewhere between “Sea Level” and “Solomon, Lawrence”.

    The entries would be organized something like:

    Segalstad, Tom

    Background: [his scientific credentials, publications]

    What he claims: [his specific arguments here]

    How Deniers Use This Source: [specific quoted examples of how he's used as a resource by deniers; they might be different from what the source actually says. I've seen this before. John, you mentioned the Inhoffe Report. I read through some of it and noticed specific sources like Richard Tol, whom Inhoffe's hacks both misidentified and mis-cite]

    Response: [A summary of why this source is wrong or how the source is being misused by the denialsphere. Specific links to relevant resources would be included.]

    Again it is just a more detailed version of what Coby has done already.

    Skip

  28. #28 Dappledwater
    November 22, 2009

    J. Gray – tried reading through that twaddle, but the continual “Greenhouse Doom” bollocks and general incoherence put me off. Only glanced over it.

    A few things immediately spring to mind:

    - Decreasing levels of atmospheric oxygen aren’t addressed – understood, by non crack pot scientists, to be the result of oxygen binding with the “burnt” carbon from fossil fuel emissions. It isn’t addressed by Segalstad.

    - If, as he claims the increased CO2 is the result of geological processes, what has caused the massive spike in the last 2 centuries?. A Ginormous geological fast forward button, that just so happens to produce CO2 isotopes ratios like that of plants?.

    - Carbon isotope ratio analysis. Couldn’t make sense of the jibber jabber, not adequately addressed IMO. See above comment.

    - Why don’t all those billions of tons of annual carbon emissions, enhance the greenhouse effect?. Has physics conveniently gone screwy?. CO2 is responsible for between 9 -28% of the Greenhouse Effect, why does a 36% increase in CO2 not further enhance the effect?.

    Residence time of CO2. Gotta laugh, one minute he burbles about how much CO2 is circulated in the biological carbon cycle. Then he goes on about the residence time of CO2. Talk about shooting yourself in the foot.

    And of course if CO2 had such a short residence time how does he account for the paleo record, which show clearly large variations in atmospheric CO2 throughout Earth’s history?. Make that bullet holes in both feet.

    Lastly, how does he account for glacial and interglacial periods?. What is the primary feedback mechanism if not CO2?.

  29. #29 J.Gray
    November 23, 2009

    Thanks both… I get the picture!
    The reference to ‘residence time’ of CO2 is rather confusing. I understand that CO2 is broken down through the process of photosynthesis and released as part of the seasons (saw tooth etc). And I understand the much slower geological processes of carbon sequestration. The term ‘residence’ seems to give CO2 a lifespan unrelated to the carbon cycle. I know that CH4 oxidises to CO2 and H2O (how long does this process take?) and so I could see the idea of a ‘residence’ time for methane but since CO2 is an oxide and hence stable the carbon basically has little else place to go other than round and round the merry-go-round… or am I wrong?

  30. #30 Doug Mackie
    November 23, 2009

    Doug Mackie here.
    I wrote the original post for this thread. So it isn’t “Mr Coby’s” argument. (His surname is Beck).

    I wrote my post partly in response to a blog posting elsewhere that claimed the CO2 had come from the oceans.

    Far be it from me to disclose private emails (insert your own appropriate emoticon) but I had a discussion with the author who wibbled around the point: If the CO2 in the atmosphere does come from elsewhere, then where the hell does the fossil fuel CO2 go?

    Anyhow, I don’t see any actual questions here or any refuting what I say. If there are any genuine questions, questions that are not already covered at this blog, ask away.

    But I’d be willing to place money that what we have here are sock puppets.

  31. #31 Doug Mackie
    November 23, 2009

    Oops. Curses. Broken links.
    Should have been:
    http://www.nzcpr.com/guest147.htm for dodgy post
    and
    http://hot-topic.co.nz/such-ignorance-must-not-be-allowed-to-go-uncontradicted/
    for another rebuttal by me.

  32. #32 Dappledwater
    November 24, 2009

    Doug WTF??????. That sure is some dodgy post. Earth and Ocean Sciences???. Why the hell do Universities continue to employ people in scientific departments who are willing to lie about the science?.

  33. #33 Doug Mackie
    November 24, 2009

    Damn straight it is dodgy. And you’d love the email exchange (bur I won’t post it ‘cos that would be distasteful and vulgar).

    Academic freedom is vital. Tenure is one way of helping achieve this but there may be others. I have made this point before elsewhere:

    Dawkins made a useful observation about Michael irreducible complexity Behe. Behe was testifying in another Scopes trail (Dover) to try get idiot-design into schools. Behe’s position as an expert was undermined when a letter was produced from his department
    http://www.lehigh.edu/~inbios/news/evolution.htm saying:

    “While we respect Prof. Behe’s right to express his views, they are his alone and are in no way endorsed by the department. It is our collective position that intelligent design has no basis in science, has not been tested experimentally, and should not be regarded as scientific.”

    Similar letters would show some intestinal fortitude amongst academics at relevant institutions.

    However, the truth is even in my own Department (Chemistry, University of Otago) understanding of climate change science (and chemistry) is woeful and this is despite the fact our Head of Department is an expert and has been delivering seminars to educate the rest of the Department.

  34. #34 skip
    November 24, 2009

    But I’m with Dap on this. Better to attack the argument than the arguer’s credential.

    For example, even worse for Behe in the Dover case was getting schooled on cross-examination about one of his instances of “irreducible complexity”–the flagellum wheel. He had naively written that it was an example of a complex biological mechanism whose constituent parts would serve no purpose independently and thus could not have evolved through natural selection. It turns out he had no idea what he was talking about, that there were numerous examples in nature that showed intermediaries preceding the flagellum wheel.

    I haven’t gone over Segalstad’s specific claims in a while or evaluated the merits of Dap’s critique but that’s the way to do it in principle.

    Skip

  35. #35 J.Gray
    November 25, 2009

    Then why the hell is it that these ‘scientists’ get airtime with politicians. Blind leading the stupid??

  36. #36 Hank Roberts
    November 25, 2009

    > “Encyclopedia of Denial”

    http://www.realclimate.org/wiki/index.php?title=RC_Wiki

    Still a draft, missing Segalstad for example.
    Work in progress.

    > sock puppets

    Yep

  37. #37 Corrinne N
    June 15, 2010

    Yes and the sacred Mauna Loa data from the Fifties, Sixties and Seventies was measured using the “new IR” and the data is reported to XXX.xx ppm. This is the SAME instrument my lab decided was absolutely useless for analytical work in the seventies. We (and the other labs I worked in after that) relegated the IR to doing identification work because we could not get decent repeatability.

    So tell me how the heck you got XXX.xx ppm and very close year to year results with a slight rise each year…

    Oh, that is correct the MLO states:

    “…4. In keeping with the requirement that CO2 in background air should be steady, we apply a general “outlier rejection” step, in which we fit a curve to the preliminary daily means for each day calculated…”

    Any data that does not meet your preconcieved CO2 curve gets thrown out. The reasoning matches Hansen’s “adjusting” the newer temperatures UP while “adjusting” the older temps DOWN.

  38. #38 coby
    June 15, 2010

    Corrine,

    That’s more than just a little tinfoil hat of you, don’t you think? An “outlier” is not a datum that defies expectations, it is a datum that defies all the other data.

    And expecting that pumpint CO2 into the atmosphere will cause a rise of CO2 in the atmosphere is hardly the hallmark of a new world order plot.

    Thanks for the chuckle though.

  39. #39 Doug Mackie
    June 16, 2010

    Corrine,
    the original post is about sources of atmospheric CO2. Am I to understand that you dispute atmospheric CO2 has risen? And I mean concentrations have risen continuously (beautiful seasonal sawtoothing aside) and not yo-yoed a la EG Beck.

    In private emails, naturally not for public disclosure, Chris de Freitas, one of the “science” advisers for the icecap site and the science adviser for the New Zealand Climate “Science” Coalition claimed for three years that he had no opinion about EG Beck and did not know if Beck was wrong or not – despite publishing papers about the mixing of atmospheric gases in a decent journal (Atmospheric Chemistry). And then finally conceding that he had some “reservations”.

    So, is that what you mean Corinne?

    Or, like one the the people linked to by the NZC”S”C, do you think that because CO2 is heavier than “air” then CO2 levels should be falling not rising?

    Seriously, I had a lengthy exchange and this fellow really thought CO2 formed a layer at ground level and in mine shafts and could not possibly be high in the atmosphere. Not surprisingly, when I asked de Freitas he again had no real opinion and said he only provided advice to the NZC”S”C when asked and they hadn’t asked him about this claim.

    Or do you mean something else?