Soil carbon: permanent pasture as an approach to CO2 sequestration

By Robert I Ellison, aka Chief Hydrologist

Eliminating 20 ton/ha soil carbon deficit in ‘permanent pastures’ may be sufficient to offset anthropogenic emissions for on the order of a decade – but with other benefits to soil health and downstream environments.

Tony Brown linked to a paper on soil carbon.  It is an interesting result and worth discussing.   As the abstract suggests – CO2 emissions from soils should increase with temperature.  This study draws together 306 studies of measured soil respiration between 1961 and 2008 – drawing on 1,112 data points – to quantify soil respiration changes.

Temperature associated increases in the global soil respiration record

Ben-Bond Lamberty and Allison Thomson

Abstract.  Soil respiration, RS, the flux of microbially and plant-respired carbon dioxide (CO2) from the soil surface to the atmosphere, is the second-largest terrestrial carbon flux. However, the dynamics of RS are not well understood and the global flux remains poorly constrained. Ecosystem warming experiments, modelling analyses and fundamental biokineticsall suggest that RS should change with climate. This has been difficult to confirm observationally because of the high spatial variability of RS, inaccessibility of the soil medium and the inability of remote-sensing instruments to measure RS on large scales. Despite these constraints, it may be possible to discern climate-driven changes in regional or global RS values in the extant four-decade record of RS chamber measurements. Here we construct a database of worldwide RS observations matched with high-resolution historical climate data and find a previously unknown temporal trend in the RS record after accounting for mean annual climate, leaf area, nitrogen deposition and changes in CO2 measurement technique. We find that the air temperature anomaly (the deviation from the 1961–1990 mean) is significantly and positively correlated with changes in RS. We estimate that the global RS in 2008 (that is, the flux integrated over the Earth’s land surface over 2008) was 98±12 Pg C and that it increased by 0.1 Pg C yr-1 between 1989 and 2008, implying a global RS response to air temperature (Q10) of 1.5. An increasing global RS value does not necessarily constitute a positive feedback to the atmosphere, as it could be driven by higher carbon inputs to soil rather than by mobilization of stored older carbon. The available data are, however, consistent with an acceleration of the terrestrial carbon cycle in response to global climate change.

Published 2010 in Nature, [link] 

To put this in context, human emissions are 9.7 PgC – which is equal to 9.7 billion tons carbon content, 9.7 Gigaton C and 34.7 billion tons CO2.  The increase in soil respiration at present equals some 20% of human emissions – although whether this results from increased biomass – and is therefore carbon neutral – or as a result of drawdown in soil carbon is unknown.

Some of the increase in atmospheric CO2 can be ascribed to a decline in soil carbon following land conversion to intensive farming methods (grazing or cropping).  The relative decline in soil carbon content following farming is seen in Figure 1 – after McKenzie Soil Management (2009).  The soil carbon sequestration potential is debated – but the biggest gains of conservation farming may be with degraded soils.  So what is the potential if the soil carbon decline in agricultural soils is reversed?

From a report published by Dairy Australia:

Apart from its potential to offset anthropogenic emissions, soil carbon sequestration has numerous other benefits such as improved soil fertility for food production. Specific improvements include:

  • Stabilisation of soil aggregates – this reduces the risk of waterlogging under moist conditions and softens the soil when dry;
  • Food for beneficial organisms;
  • Slow-release source of nutrients;
  • Increased water holding capacity, particularly in sandy soil;
  • Increase in nutrient holding capacity by improving cation exchange capacity;
  • Binding of toxic cations (for example, extractable aluminium) in a form that is unavailable for plants.

Carbon pools and carbon cycling in pasture soil

Pasture provides a quick way to build carbon for several reasons:

  • Where perennial species are used, plants are growing continually rather than seasonally;
  • Minimal disturbance relative to cropping;
  • No erosion, if well managed.

Soil uptake of carbon dioxide involves two distinct transformations: soil organic carbon and soil inorganic carbon.

Soil organic carbon sequestration is through several processes:

  • Photosynthesis utilises atmospheric carbon dioxide to create biomass;
  • Part of the biomass is further processed into soil organic carbon contained in soil organic matter through humification and incorporation into soil aggregates.’ McKenzie Soil Management (2009) -

Agricultural land (also agricultural area) denotes the land suitable for agricultural production, both crops and livestock. It is one of the main resources in agriculture. The standard classification (used, e.g., by FAO — Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations) divides agricultural land into the following components, with their respective global land area in 2009:

  • Arable land (13,812,040 km²) – land under annual crops, such as cereals, cotton, other technical crops, potatoes, vegetables, and melons; also includes land left temporarily fallow.
  • Permanent Crops (1,484,087 km²) – Orchards and vineyards (e.g., fruit plantations).

From the Wikipedia:

Permanent Pastures (33,556,943 km²) – areas for natural grasses and grazing of livestock, such as Meadows and pastures.’

So if we assume – say – a 20 ton/ha soil carbon deficit in ‘permanent pastures’?

3,355,694,300 (ha) x 20 (ton/ha) = 67 GtC

Sufficient to offset anthropogenic emissions for on the order of a decade – but with other benefits to soil health and downstream environments.

Figure 1 shows the relative declines in soil carbon following conversion to farming.  Result vary and are worse in degraded soils.

fig 1_Page_1

[Source]

IPCC AR4WG1 Figure 7.3 brings it into a global context in the carbon cycle.  Soil carbon stores are very significant and provide an obvious short term opportunity for carbon mitigation.

fig 1_Page_2

Figure 2: ‘IPCC AR4WG1 Figure 7.3. The global carbon cycle for the 1990s, showing the main annual fluxes in GtC yr–1: pre-industrial ‘natural’ fluxes in black and ‘anthropogenic’ fluxes in red (modified from Sarmiento and Gruber, 2006, with changes in pool sizes from Sabine et al., 2004). The net terrestrial loss of –39 GtC is inferred from cumulative fossil fuel emissions minus atmospheric increase minus ocean storage. The loss of –140 GtC from the ‘vegetation, soil and detritus’ compartment represents the cumulative emissions from land use change (Houghton, 2003), and requires a terrestrial biosphere sink of 101 GtC (in Sabine et al., given only as ranges of –140 to –80 GtC and 61 to 141 GtC, respectively; other uncertainties given in their Table 1). Net anthropogenic exchanges with the atmosphere are from Column 5 ‘AR4’ in Table 7.1. Gross fluxes generally have uncertainties of more than ±20% but fractional amounts have been retained to achieve overall balance when including estimates in fractions of GtC yr–1 for riverine transport, weathering, deep ocean burial, etc. ‘GPP’ is annual gross (terrestrial) primary production. Atmospheric carbon content and all cumulative fluxes since 1750 are as of end 1994.’ – ihttp://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/anthropogenic-carbon-cycle

Below is a map of global soil carbon intensity. The high carbon content in high northern latitudes is because of slower decomposition in northern soils.  These soils in warmer conditions release more carbon dioxide as respiration increases.

fig 1_Page_3Figure 3: Global Soil Organic Carbon Density – [source]  

Figure 4 shows areas of sinks and sources for carbon dioxide in the oceans.  Areas of sink occurs with cooler water.  Sources are in the high respiration tropical and subtropical water – notably in the ENSO zone from cold, nutrient and carbon dioxide rich water upwelling from deeper waters. 

fig 1_Page_4Figure 4: Global map of the average annual exchange CO2 flux (mol-C m-2 a-1) across the sea surface. [source]

fig 1_Page_5Figure 5:  Masai with cattle –  [source]

Here’s a guy who is all cattle and no hat.  Although pastures can be restored globally to mitigate CO2 – it works only as much as the economic benefits of newer pasture techniques works for individual farmers. I suppose that makes it business as usual under the UN rules.

JC comment:  this post was motivated by discussion in a previous thread.  This is a guest post, please keep your comments relevant and civil.

158 responses to “Soil carbon: permanent pasture as an approach to CO2 sequestration

  1. Peter Lang

    Chief,

    Have you seen and do you have any comment on the series of articles that have been run recently on ClimateSpectator regarding the amount of carbon that could be sequestered in land? here is one suc h articlke:

    http://www.businessspectator.com.au/article/2013/5/2/policy-politics/special-report-australias-carbon-budget-hole

    At least one of the articles had a map of Australia and a square convering about 1/3 to 1/2 the area (from memory) saying that is area that would be required to achieve the Coalition’s targets for soil sequestration each year.

      • Peter Lang

        I still cant find the post with the map showing the area required, but here is another with a table of figures;

        http://www.businessspectator.com.au/article/2012/9/14/climate/abbott%E2%80%99s-budget-and-abatement-black-hole

      • Hi Peter,

        re the article above, businessspectator.com.au…carbon-illusion
        by Ben Rose BSc Environment, Rose makes assertions in his
        last two parafraphs referring to “deniers of global warming’
        and an ‘attempted swindle’ that suggest his own position re
        the science is by no means impartial.

        I refer to an essay by Freeman Dyson, ‘Heretical Thoughts
        about Science and Society’ (Section 2) in which he calculates, (Schlessinger1977) the favourable rate of exchange between
        carbon in tha atmposphere and carbon in the soil. If the
        Earth’s available land surface, excluding deserts and ice-caps,
        cities, roads, grew the biomass by I/100 of an inch per year,
        ie. growing soil by 1/10 of an inch, this would remove any
        problem of > CO2 in the atmosphere.

        No till farming could achieve this with the added benefit of
        retaining water and increasing crop productivity.
        I will post the essay ..)

        B-t-s

      • Australia’s own Business Spectator. Rivals the NYT for smugness and Guardian for daffiness. Might better be titled Posh Person’s Guide to Progressive Impoverishment.

        Just as well we’re being civil on this thread, or I’d really say what I think about Business Spectator.

      • From Beth’s link:

        If biotechnology takes over the planet in the next fifty years, as computer technology has taken it over in the last fifty years, the rules of the climate game will be radically changed.

        HEAR! HEAR!

      • Wait till you see what moso bamboo, grown in the right biome, can do with some useless regrowth scrub. Hills of lush forest, a hundred feet high, perfect wind filtration and soil stabilisation, clear understory for easy strolling and foraging, steep slopes producing food and timber, flats left free for other crops…The carbon sequestration factor is the boring bit, but it’s massive.

        As long as you approach from the “carbon” end, you’ll spend and you’ll waste. You are humans, so start from the human end, be guided by usefulness to humans and their animals…and by sheer prettiness.

      • Hi Beth and others,

        Yes, I know all about the extreme, CAGW doomsayer bias and anti-conservatives bias on Climate Spectator. The editor, Tristan Edis, detests what he calls ‘ancient dinosaur retired geologists’. I used to post a lot on Climate Spectator and many of my comments would be deleted. Sometimes they’d delete all comments on a thread if the rationalists were dominating the argument on quality (never on the number of comments). They seem to have given up deleting because people gave up commenting.

        I put these links up to see what Chief and others had to say. I haven’t followed the discussion about soil carbon sequestration, although did have a minor involvement in biochar at one stage.

      • David Springer

        AK | June 7, 2013 at 8:30 am |

        >From Beth’s link:
        >If biotechnology takes over…
        >HEAR! HEAR!

        +1 more

        The opportunities for engineers to exploit biotechnology are mind boggling. I believe this emergent technology will rival the invention of metallurgy and agriculture and make computers and networks look like mere stepping stones. It may rival the impact of the invention of language and writing. Okay maybe not language. But it’s really, really, really transformative. In principle and inevitably in practice bacteria can be designed, programmed, and produced on an engineering workstation. They can be programmed to do anything they already do and when we include archaea in the mix they can pretty much build anything you want in friendly and hostile environments alike. They get their power from the sun (mostly) and materials from their environment. Absent the sun there are plenty of them that can use other fuels even some extremophiles that do things like eat iron and schit rust for a living. And they can reproduce themselves so you only have to manufacture one to start out. I’m here to tell you as an engineer who helped build arguably the most advanced automated manufacturing system in the world (Dell Computer’s legendary end-to-end supply chain management and build-to-order computer production lines) the opportunities presented by what’s essentially self-reproducing microscopic factories that can produce things of any scale you want from micro to planetary. And do it with molecule by molecule precision which in and of itself opens up a huge smorgasbord of novel new materials and very expensive existing materials suddenly made very cheap.

        Mind boggling is the only way to describe the potential. It’ll be a maturing technology by 2050 and energy concerns will be a thing of the past.

        Either that or we’ll all be dead because some bad actor built a microbial version of Shiva the Destroyer and let it loose. This is affectionately referred to as “gray goo” among those more familiar with bio-engineering. In principle someone can build something that just eats and covers everything i.e. the planet is covered by a runaway gray goo. Addressing the gray goo problem is a big concern. It’s easier to break things than to make things so it’s easier to make destructive microbial agents than to make constructive agents.

      • Peter, so relieved that you are no enthusiast for the stultifying Business Spectator, journal of reference for the preening classes. You should feel honoured to have your comments deleted from such a woeful rag. (What is it about guys called Tristan?)

        Seen my back yard? Bit of carbon sequestration happening there:

        http://mosomoso.wordpress.com/2011/10/14/carbon-capture-for-dummies/

        http://mosomoso.wordpress.com/2011/10/24/more-carbon-capture-for-dummies/

      • Beth Cooper

        Thank you for the Freeman Dyson link I had not read before

      • Beth ended with:
        No till farming could achieve this with the added benefit of
        retaining water and increasing crop productivity.

        Another think that increases crop productivity and saves water is “MORE” CO2.

        There is no actual data that shows temperature or sea level will ever again get outside of the bounds of the past ten thousand years. It is certainly not headed out during the last 17 years.

        We need to enjoy the benefits of as much CO2 as we can pump out.

      • @David Springer…

        Mind boggling is the only way to describe the potential. It’ll be a maturing technology by 2050 and energy concerns will be a thing of the past.

        I just today had a thought about Dysons “carbon-eating trees” that so many numbskulled alarmists around here make fun of. It wouldn’t actually be necessary to GM the trees and replant new versions. Instead, modify the mycorrhizal symbiote, the fungal strain (“species”) that associates with the roots of the trees, receiving sugar and other nutrients, and providing micro-nutrients from the soil.

        In the (probably) ancestral type of symbiosis, “arbuscular mycorrhiza”, the fungal hyphae actually

        enter into the plant cells, producing structures that are either balloon-like (vesicles) or dichotomously branching invaginations (arbuscules). The fungal hyphae do not in fact penetrate the protoplast (i.e. the interior of the cell), but invaginate the cell membrane. The structure of the arbuscules greatly increases the contact surface area between the hypha and the cell cytoplasm to facilitate the transfer of nutrients between them.

        From the Wiki article on Mycorrhiza. Other types of symbiosis exists, especially Ectomycorrhizas:

        Ectomycorrhizas, or EcM, are typically formed between the roots of around 10% of plant families, mostly woody plants including the birch, dipterocarp, eucalyptus, oak, pine, and rose[23] families, orchids,[29] and fungi belonging to the Basidiomycota, Ascomycota, and Zygomycota. Some EcM fungi, such as many Leccinum and Suillus, are symbiotic with only one particular genus of plant, while other fungi, such as the Amanita, are generalists that form mycorrhizas with many different plants.[30] An individual tree may have 15 or more different fungal EcM partners at one time.[31]

        The specificity is much higher among EcM plant species [Wang and Qiu (2006)], and:

        In the case of woody plants, the members of these families are often dominant species in their communities (Malloch et al. 1980).

        This brings up the possibility of creating modified strains of several mycorrhizal symbiotes to deposit large quantities of carbon in the soil. It wouldn’t even need to be reduced carbon, one thing these fungi do (some of them) is break down minerals in the soil, in search of micro-nutrients. Where much of the soil includes calcium and magnesium silicates, these cations could be combined with CO2 generated by respiration, and the carbonates precipitated within the walls of the hyphae, in a form similar to that used by mollusks.

        The resulting hyphal skeleta would not only serve to sequester large amounts of carbon, but also as capillaries capable of storing and transporting water through the soil. And the replacement time for new strains of mycorrhizal fungi might be only a few years.

        Wang and Qiu (2006) Phylogenetic distribution and evolution of mycorrhizas in land plants by B. Wang and Y.-L. Qiu Mycorrhiza (2006) 16: 299–363 doi:10.1007/s00572-005-0033-6

    • David Springer

      Not a single mention of “pissant progressive” or “space cadet”. Amazing.

      • Regarding the observation:


        David Springer | June 7, 2013 at 7:28 am | Reply

        Not a single mention of “pissant progressive” or “space cadet”. Amazing.

        You have to understand that it is all about framing and projection. People like the Chief may actually know the critical aspects of man’s relationship and impact with the environment yet they cannot give an inch when it comes to the political angle.

        In fact what Chief describes is Ecology 101, which is very similar to the conservation approaches that I was taught back in grade school by so-called “progressive” educators. These teachers were amazingly enough the same greens that are constantly being deemed as environmental wackos by the Limbaughs of the world.

        How does this hypocrisy square? The projection and framing is really a clever strategy by the denier community. Look up a report by David Wojick, longtime denizen, called “Carbon storage in soil, the ultimate no-regrets policy”. Wojick is another relentless denier of climate change that also wants to have it both ways.

        The fact is that both Chief and Wojick will continue to demean anyone that holds up the science on climate change while at the same time purport to campaign for the very important No-Regrets policies that were coined by climate scientists around 1990:
        R. M. White, E. B. Weiss, T. Atkeson, and A. O. Adede, “The great climate debate,” presented at the Proceedings of the Annual Meeting (American Society of International Law), 1990, vol. 84, pp. 346–365.
        No-regrets policy
        A policy that would generate net social and/or economic benefits irrespective of whether or not anthropogenic climate change
        occurs.”

        Just as moving off of fossil fuels just because of their constrained and finite supply is a No-Regrets benefit of AGW mitigation, so is this basic soil conservation framework. As with peak oil, we also have issues with phosphate depletion, and are having to go to more energy extensive measures to extract phosphates for fertilizers. Of course conservation agriculture makes sense.

        I can only laugh at how clumsily people like Chief and others try to hijack the arguments long used by the “pissant progressives” of the world. That is how political framing and projection works and, clumsiness notwithstanding, they can get away with it. The hypocrisy of denying global warming for “a decade or three” while at the same time lobbying for a No-Regrets policy is jarring to those who understand framing techniques, but the typical skeptic cluelessly eats it up.

      • Non-AGW alarmists sometimes propose no-regrets solutions as a compromise. And that is what is needed politically. For example, I am a proponent of nuclear energy, and also a secure waste facility, and I welcome aboard anyone afraid of CO2. There is nothing hypocritical about this. For me, it simply represents a good way to secure a 24/7 base load that obviates the need for solar and wind. Solar and wind, IMO, can continue on if they can do so without subsidies.

      • Nothing wrong with that jim2.

        Peter Lang is another guy that has talked about the No-Regrets Policy of moving to nuclear.

        What gets me is that people are not being open about this fact. AGW could be a huge non-issue, but the risk mitigation policies implicit in No Regrets will have benefits for agriculture, conservation, and adopting alternative fuels. It is really a systems view of the environment and of the Earth’s natural resources.

        We are killing way more than two birds with one stone by going No Regrets.

      • David Springer

        I agree Dr. PeePee. Where we differ is that at best I consider AGW narratives to be a noble lie and at worst undermining public trust in legitimate sciences which quietly bring us the great advances that enable to people live longer more productive lives and generally make the world a better place. That’s a lot to risk for a noble lie and I for one have too much integrity for any noble lie in the first place. Lies is lies and eventually both the teller and the listener are diminshed by them in my humble opinion.

      • Jim2,
        @ June 7, 2013 at 9:18 am

        I am not quite clear what you are getting at with this comment. Let me say for you and (also for WHT @ June 7, 2013 at 9:40 am), I don’t try to imply anything different to what I mean to say. Sometimes I may not say it clearly, but there is no intention to play games.

        What I firmly believe in is policies that are best able to provide a secure and reliable supply energy that meets requirements (i.e. fit for purpose) at least cost for everyone on the planet. The main purpose is to lift living standards and human wellbeing for everyone, especially the poorest countries and poorest people. I believe we do that best and fastest by freeing up markets, removing trade barriers and removing market distortions.

        ‘No regrets’ policies do all this. They are net beneficial irrespective of any GHG emissions benefits. That is what ‘No Regrets’ means.

        Therefore, I support policies advocated by CAGW doomsayers to cut global GHG emissions, as long as they are ‘No Regrets’ policies. That is, they are net beneficial irrespective of their perceived GHG emissions reduction benefits. A policy that removed the impediments to low cost nuclear power so it could supply electricity cheaper than fossil fuels, would have many other benefits and, therefore, would be a ‘No Regrets’ policy. Policies, such as pricing carbon and mandating and subsidising renewable energy, increase the cost of energy and, therefore, are not ‘No Regrets’ policies.

        I hope this clears up any confusion in what I am advocating (if there was any).

      • Pissant Progressive

        I resemble that remark. But ideas that may have been progressive in the past may not be progressive any more, just like ideas that may have been conservative or libertarian (aka cap-n-trade).

      • “But ideas that may have been progressive in the past may not be progressive any more, just like ideas that may have been conservative or libertarian (aka cap-n-trade).”

        Yeah…uh…no.

        Progressives rename themselves every decade or so, when people find out what they really stand for. And conservatism, in the modern political usage, is a fairly recent term. But the ideologies of the two are far older the the usage of those terms.

        Progressives believe in control by an elite, with centralized government and a centralized economy (and a “libertarian” culture) so they can design the world as their brilliance leads them. They therefore favor a “meritocratic” government with little accountability to the stupid voters (think Brussels, and really more to their liking Beijing).

        Conservatives believe no one is “brilliant” enough to run an economy, and people are more likely than not to make mistakes in government too. So the government and economy they prefer involves freedom, and individual choice. They favor a democratic republic, and a free market, the better to remove mistakes when they inevitably occur.

        Progressivism in its raw form is as old as history. Whether you call it monarchy, oligarchy, aristocracy, plutocracy or “the new EU,” the concept is the same. Some group of people should have the right by virtue of some aspect of their nature (blood, wealth, IQ, education), to rule the other, inferior folks. It has been the norm of human history.

        Modern progressives just have more fashionable rationalizations for their lust for power. “Fairness,” “social justice,” “for the children,” and CAGW for instance. We need to have power over you to save you.

        Different tune, same dance.

      • Oh, and cap and trade is not something that was once conservative, and is now progressive. It was (progressive Republican) George H.W. Bush, and some of his advisers who pushed the idea, in concert with more out right progressives in the environmental movement.

        Some genuine conservatives like Margaret Thatcher were willing to discuss policies to address CAGW, But this was in the late 80s, before the politicization of the “science” became clear. Once the political motivations and tactics of those involved became known, they were no longer willing to give the “scientists” like Hansen the benefit of the doubt.

        Conservatives will do all kinds of things in states of emergency. Lincoln suspended habeus corpus during the Civil War. But that does not make the policy conservative. Once the emergency is over (or shown to be a chimera), the policy is abandoned.

      • Rob Starkey

        Cap & trade is imo is a stupid policy for very simple reasons (regardless of who suggested it) . It is an administratively expensive to implement and sustain and accomplishes very little. Does it make sense to have citizens pay the salaries of more government workers who would be doing essentially nothing to benefit the taxpayer?

      • Matthew R Marler

        WEbHubTelescope: The hypocrisy of denying global warming for “a decade or three” while at the same time lobbying for a No-Regrets policy

        Why is that a hypocrisy?

        It looks to me like a common ground amongst groups of people who agree on some things but not on others. I don’t “believe in” the claim that increased CO2 will cause great damage in the future, but I support reforestation which is valuable whether future CO2 accumulation is bad or not. Similarly, I support research on alternative energy sources, including biofuels, and development and deployment of many more salt-tolerant varieties of grasses, legumes, bushes and trees. These will be useful if CO2 proves to be as bad as claimed, and if it doesn’t.

        “Politics makes strange bedfellows” precisely because a majority of people may come together to support a few policies without agreeing on all the goals of the policies.

      • “Matthew R Marler | June 7, 2013 at 2:36 pm |
        WEbHubTelescope: The hypocrisy of denying global warming for “a decade or three” while at the same time lobbying for a No-Regrets policy
        Why is that a hypocrisy?
        It looks to me like a common ground amongst groups of people who agree on some things but not on others.”

        The first principle should be “do no harm.”
        I fail to see the common ground.

        Either you believe that CO2 is good and doubling of CO2 will increase plant growth by 30% (there by alleviating starvation) or you believe it is destroying the earth. Where is the common ground?

        Either you believe that converting almost 1/2 of our corn crop from food to car fuel causes starvation on societies margins or it is saving the earth.
        Where is the common ground?

        Either you believe that increasing the price of fuel by going to more expensive sources (e.g. wind or solar) causes suffering and death in undeveloped societies and those on society’s margins or it is saving the earth. Where is the common ground?

        There is little common ground and you can’t pick and choose where it does exist. There is a huge moral dimension to this issue that tends to be overlooked. If you believe that increasing CO2 is good for mankind, any effort to limit CO2 (no matter how well intentioned or misguided) is doing harm.

      • There also is a practical dimension. If the future is a colder Earth how best do we enjoy the global warming while it lasts?

      • Peter Lang

        WHT,

        R. M. White, E. B. Weiss, T. Atkeson, and A. O. Adede, “The great climate debate,” presented at the Proceedings of the Annual Meeting (American Society of International Law), 1990, vol. 84, pp. 346–365.

        “No-regrets policy
        A policy that would generate net social and/or economic benefits irrespective of whether or not anthropogenic climate change occurs.”

        Just as moving off of fossil fuels just because of their constrained and finite supply is a No-Regrets benefit of AGW mitigation

        You got the quote correct, but then demonstrated you don’t understand what it means. To be no-regrets it has to be beneficial. You have to be able to demonstrate that, not just assert it because it supports your ideological beliefs which you believe are correct.

        You then said:

        I can only laugh at how clumsily people like Chief and others try to hijack the arguments

        Which is exactly what YOU have done.

      • Conservation, extracting energy from the environment, and growing food are all beneficial side effects.

        Continue on with your rhetorical slam-dancing. It is all quite amusing.


      • Wagathon | June 7, 2013 at 5:09 pm |

        There also is a practical dimension. If the future is a colder Earth how best do we enjoy the global warming while it lasts?

        this from the guy who ridicules the unfortunate


        Wagathon | June 5, 2013 at 11:48 pm |

        What is the minimum daily requirement for old paint chips?

        If they aren’t hypocrites, I don’t know what to call them.

      • When did I ridicule you

      • WebHubTelescope (@WHUT) | June 7, 2013 at 10:58 pm |
        Said:
        “Conservation, extracting energy from the environment, and growing food are all beneficial side effects.”

        From THE GREAT CLIMATE DEBATE (see Peter Lang above):
        “No-regrets policy
        A policy that would generate net social and/or economic benefits irrespective of whether or not anthropogenic climate change occurs.”

        The word NET specifies that both cost and benefit must be considered.
        Just because there is a benefit doesn’t mean it is worth the cost.

        Also from THE GREAT CLIMATE DEBATE (see Peter Lang above):
        “Just as moving off of fossil fuels just because of their constrained and finite supply is a No-Regrets benefit of AGW mitigation”

        For the past 60 years every generation has been told there is only 100 years of oil left. A hundred years supply is hardly justification for urgent action to move away from oil. Gas and nuclear are cost effective better alternatives. Although there are niche markets where wind, solar, and ethanol are better alternatives, in general they do more harm than good.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        To be fair pissant progressive is a bit of alliterative fun and space cadet is a shorthand for AGW groupthink.

        As for climate – I am long since declared a climate catastrophist in the sense of René Thom. Cloud is driven by atmospheric and ocean circulation changing over many scales.

        The latest climate shift of 1998/2001 is seen in cloud cover which modulates the planetary energy budget.

        http://s1114.photobucket.com/user/Chief_Hydrologist/media/cloud_palleandLaken2013_zps73c516f9.png.html?sort=3&o=2

  2. What does it matter how much carbon or carbon dioxide goes where? There is no need to be concerned any more, anyone, about carbon dioxide. The last straw has been broken. There can be no greenhouse effect anywhere on any planet. The “new paradigm” now explains what happens on all planets in their atmospheres, their surfaces, their crusts, mantles and cores if they have such. And it explains the intuitively obvious fact (also observed in studies of real data) that more water vapour leads to lower surface temperatures.

    That alone smashes IPCC propaganda about water vapour being the main greenhouse “gas” which is supposed to be doing most of that 33 degrees of warming on average.

    So it’s supposed to be doing, say, 5 degrees of warming in a dry desert, and 50 degrees of warming in a moist region with 10 times as much water vapour in the atmosphere above it. Sheer and utter garbage! You have all had the wool well and truly pulled over your eyes!

    The “old paradigm” is smashed when you consider Venus. Each Venus 4-month-long day the surface temperature rises by about 5 degrees, and it cools by 5 degrees at night. Obviously the energy which increases the temperature in the day comes from the Sun. We have only about 20W/m^2 of direct solar radiation getting through the Venus atmosphere in the day, and yet the Stefan-Boltzmann Law tells us we would need about 16,100W/m^2 of radiation to increase the temperature of the Venus surface when it is in the vicinity of 730K. Obviously radiation from the colder atmosphere cannot increase the temperature of the surface, for that would be an outright violation of the Second Law of Thermodynamics. In any event, there is not enough radiative flux entering the atmosphere. So the energy cannot get there by radiation alone and in fact radiation can play only a very small role.

    So that leaves only non-radiative processes, and clearly it gets narrowed down to diffusion and convection. The reasons why (and the process whereby) downward diffusion and convection (“heat creep”) can in fact increase the temperature are explained in my paper “Planetary Core and Surface Temperatures.”

    • David Springer

      Venus surface temperature is due to heat of formation, radioactive decay, and a surface insulated against thermal losses by an troposphere of pure CO2 so thick it’s more like a liquid than a gas. For the same reason the temperature of the earth is hundreds of degrees C if you dig down a few kilometers into the crust the top of the crust on Venus is a few hundred degrees C. The same the rocks in the earth’s crust limit how much heat can escape from the core the uber-dense troposphere of Venus insulates just as well as the crustal rocks on earth and its troposphere is hundreds of kilometers deep.

      The Loschmidt gravito-thermal effect produces a lapse rate in a non-convecting atmosphere where kinetic energy is replaced by gravitational energy joule-for-joule as altitude increases. In this manner total energy per mole of gas remains constant at all altitudes which it must do in a maximum entropy (fully relaxed) state.

      This doesn’t make the surface of any planet “hotter” than it would be otherwise. It merely makes it colder than it would be otherwise at higher altitudes because themometers don’t measure total energy they only measure kinetic energy. Thus there’s no explanation for Venus’ high surface temperature due to gravitational lapse rate. Write that down.

      • I wrote it down — Please read this post and particularly the addendum which I added recently:

        http://theoilconundrum.blogspot.com/2013/05/the-homework-problem-to-end-all.html

        I am trying to figure out whether one can derive a lapse rate by simply applying the principles of hydrostatic equilibrium, mass conservation, and the ideal gas law to a generic planetary atmosphere.

        If you reduce the math by some calculus, the generic lapse rate is
        \frac{dT}{dz} = - \frac{g m}{3 R}

        where m is the average molecular mass and g is the gravity.

        For each of Earth, Venus, and Mars, this value is almost precisely twice that of the actual measured mean value. Now consider that each of these atmospheres is constantly bouncing between isothermal (zero lapse rate) and adiabatic (maximum lapse rate) regimes. The average lapse rate will then be the average between these values or half the maximum shown above:
        \frac{dT}{dz} = - \frac{g m}{6 R}

        This value matches the average value observed on Earth, Venus, and Mars. If this is indeed a correct derivation, it has implications for AGW theory. The lapse rate is largely fixed based on the composition of the major molecular gases in the atmosphere. The important factor is the altitude at which the CO2 allows IR to escape — this raises the surface temperature according to the fixed lapse rate. Any lapse rate feedback is likely a second-order effect.

        BTW, this is an antidote to The Swab (DCotton) and his nutty ramblings. The issue is that you just can’t talk your way through these arguments. At some point you have to invoke some math. The math provides a platform that is less ambiguous and someone can take a potshot by providing an alternative derivation. What I want to do is provide some basic models that a student can work with.

      • Matthew R Marler

        WebHubTelescope: I am trying to figure out whether one can derive a lapse rate by simply applying the principles of hydrostatic equilibrium, mass conservation, and the ideal gas law to a generic planetary atmosphere.

        Would that be an atmosphere without winds, thermals, and phase transitions, but with constant illumination and a flat surface? I am not saying that it’s a bad thing to try for — Pierrehumbert’s book is full of equilibrium approximations. But I doubt that you could come up with something that is accurate enough to tell us what the effects of CO2 doubling would be over the next 70 years- 150 years.

        In thermals, thundershowers, and onshore breezes, does “a lapse rate” even exist?

        This is the sort of question that I always ask: What on Earth does an equilibrium value correspond to?

      • The issue of not considering “thermals, thundershowers, and onshore breezes” is easy to justify as these are perturbations on the mean. That is the basis for any mean-value approximation and it applies to thermodynamics as well as to statistical mechanics.

        Why did the the entire world standardize on a mean-value atmospheric model that has served everyone since the early 20th century? It is because such a model is useful for understanding what we can expect when we design a jet engine and all sorts of other products.

        O. W. Schey, “The comparative performance of superchargers,” Report-National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics, no. 365–400, p. 425, 1931. http://aerade.cranfield.ac.uk/ara/1932/naca-report-384.pdf

        And to answer your question, yes this will help “tell us what the effects of CO2 doubling would be over the next 70 years- 150 years”. Other people will improve on the model and apply it as necessary. That’s why we do modeling, as there is always the potential that it will advance the yardstick of our knowledge,.

      • You are mistaken, David, but I’m glad to see you referring to the Loschmidt effect, because, after all, that’s what my paper is about. Basically my response to what you have written is already in that paper, but being 20 pages in length, I am not going to try to summarise it here.

        The Venus surface and atmosphere all cool by about 5 degrees during the 4-month night, and they warm by 5 degrees the next day, all the while keeping the temperature gradient about constant, so that the plot of temperature against altitude rises and falls in parallel positions, this inevitably causing the surface temperature to rise and fall according to where the plot intersects the surface. So the surface does so primarily by non-radiative conduction at the boundary.

        Hence thermal energy can actually move up the gravitationally-induced temperature profile which evolves spontaneously and represents the state of thermodynamic equilibrium with greatest accessible entropy – just as the Second Law of Thermodynamics says will happen. (When the equilibrium is disturbed, there is a propensity to restore it, as the Second Law states.) My point is, that it is not radiation which is the primary cause of the surface temperature rising each day, or even being maintained.

        The energy comes from the Sun and nothing of great significance comes from internally generated energy or long-term cooling off. After all, if it can cool by 5 degrees in 4 months, how much could it have cooled in the life of the planet, but for the support of the gravitationally induced gradient?

      • Has anyone determined the rate of soil carbon sequestration that could be achieved on Venus?

      • Webster, “The issue is that you just can’t talk your way through these arguments.”

        Right, so you do some math then arm wave at conclusions that can’t be drawn from the math.

        For a “Dry” atmosphere, your lapse rate derivation makes perfectly good sense. However, the energy provided to your dry atmosphere is dependent on the average condensation temperature of the “Wet” atmosphere and the Wet atmosphere temperature is dependent on the liquid oceans which are the closest there is to a black body cavity on Earth. Those are the transitions between near radiantless and near totally radiant physics. You have to define the “surface” of your atmosphere since the atmospheric boundary layer which has all those neat temperature inversions, obviously hasn’t read your blog.

      • Cappy, I will post another interesting finding near the temperate latitudes for establishing the lapse rate.

        Your problem is that you do not have the skills to describe physical relationships mathematically and build up chains of evidence. All you ever do is handwave and then shrug at the complexity while at the same time making claims to what will happen in the future. Thats not the way to do science.

    • hmm venus must have quite a strong greenhouse effect with all those greenhouse gases. hmm.

      • Venus does have a greenhouse effect but it is buried within the fact that it is a polytropic atmosphere with a hot planetary core.

        Another interesting planetary body is Titan, which is a moon of Saturn. Although Saturn’s atmosphere is almost completely hydrogen, Titan has enough methane to enable a detectable greenhouse effect. The average lapse rate for Titan ‘s lower atmosphere is also predictable from its composition. Lookup Pierrehumbert’s work on Titan.

      • No lolwot, that’s the point – Venus doesn’t exhibit a greenhouse effect, and it can’t, because you cannot multiply the 2,600W/m^2 arriving at the planet and get 16,100W/m^2 that would be required if radiation were actually the process which is maintaining its 730K temperature. Only 10W/m^2 of direct Solar radiation reaches the Venus surface. Besides, Uranus gets far hotter and it receives only 3W/m^2. Read my other comments and my paper for a detailed analysis of the valid physics I am discussing.

      • David Springer

        Doug Cotton,

        The temperature of the earth at a depth of 20 kilometers is 500C, same temperature as Venus’ surface. Is that maintained by gravity too? Your arguments are ridiculous. Venus’ high surface temperature is heat of formation and ongoing decay of radioisotopes in the crust. The only reason you have to dig down 20 kilometers on the earth to find a 500C surface is that the earth doesn’t have a frickin 80 bar troposphere composed of pure CO2 to insulate it. So it takes 20 kilometers of rocks on the earth to do the same thing that the troposphere does on Venus’. Write that down.

      • lolwot, he said uranus gets far hotter and it receives only 3W/m^2.

        Is The Swab impersonating Beavis or Butt-head?

      • Don’t type the first thing that comes to your mind.
        Don’t type the first thing that comes to your mind.

  3. Nice job Chief.

    Peter, using Carbon Farming economics it is bound to be a losing proposition. You have to use all the down stream benefits and throw in lines like, “If it saves just one Masai from a cattless future, it is worth the cost.”

    One benefit not mentioned is that healthier soils tend to have a lower average temperature which not only reduces the rate of water and carbon loss, but also the average temperature of the surface stations in those remote areas used by Webster to project his 3 C of warming.

    • Cappy, You are framing rather clumsily. I am not the only one that is suggesting 3 C of warming. This is the mean value that 97% of the climate science research field is suggesting.

      As I suggested elsewhere in this thread, by advocating conservation measures, you and Chief are promoting the No-Regrets policy long promoted by the IPCC.

      • I have never denied being in favor of “no risk” which can be in many cases “no regrets” policy. I do have issues with claiming a policy is “no regrets” when it has risks.

        As for 97% of climate scientists have a mean estimate of 3 C per doubling, once the 33% that suffer from herd mentality are fired, laterally promoted, retire or in so other manner fade into the sunset, then progress possibly can be made.

    • captdallas 0.8 or less | June 7, 2013 at 7:04 am |

      I have to agree, Robert I Ellison did an excellent job, and the topic appeals to many areas the denizens have shown keen interest about in recent weeks.

      While the flagship of sustainability, conservation farming also epitomizes resilient practice.

      Agricultural land has illimited potential for accepting carbon enrichment and benefitting from carbon enriched soils as an end in and of itself, without regard to the GHE.

      That it also could be used to reduce CO2E emissions — again both through industrial activity and changes in land use and soil emission — is all the more reason. Thus this proposal sidesteps the debates, is a truly no-regrets policy, and can be driven by whatsoever economic system one finds palatable: Market or top-down.

      I don’t want to speak for people I don’t represent, and I loath the imputation of argument from authority, but my past work with one of the five largest agrichem businesses globally does lead me to understand that LDCs do benefit more from soil-enrichment at the grassroots level, productivity increases are balanced by reduced capital intensity, giving a double dividend on farming ROI.

      There are even purely botanical means to accomplish a great deal of soil carbonification: plant selection, and even selective breeding of common species, can lead to plants putting more mass in their roots below the soil, and/or more rapidly drive carbon mass underground. Choosing deep-rooting, heavy-rooting, fast-rooting specimens in place of, for instance, the shallow-rooting lawns common in many countries, could be enough to fulfill Freeman Dyson’s dream of a world where land use takes up all the CO2 human industry produces. Timbering that elects the deep-rooting stock available over shallow-rooting, and that builds the soil up in cultured forestry one carbon-intensified-layer at a time, would certainly be more productive of more valuable wood.

      • BartR, “Timbering that elects the deep-rooting stock available over shallow-rooting, and that builds the soil up in cultured forestry one carbon-intensified-layer at a time, would certainly be more productive of more valuable wood.”

        Deep rooting plants are one of the major uncertainties in the soil carbon estimates. 30 cm is the typical depth used in the estimates which underestimate impacts by as much as 50%. A “no risk” approach that may be twice as effective as estimated should be pretty attractive.

  4. David Springer

    http://oceanworld.tamu.edu/resources/oceanography-book/carboncycle.htm

    Increasing Land Absorption of CO2

    Increasing the amount of carbon stored in biomass (forests) and soil reduces the build-up of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Freeman Dyson, in Heretical Thoughts About Science and Society notes that:

    To stop the carbon in the atmosphere from increasing, we only need to grow the biomass in the soil, averaged over one half of the land area of the planet [the area used for crops and forests] by a hundredth of an inch per year. Good topsoil contains about ten percent biomass, so a hundredth of an inch of biomass growth means about a tenth of an inch of topsoil. Changes in farming practices such as no-till farming, avoiding the use of the plow, cause biomass to grow at least as fast as this. If we plant crops without plowing the soil, more of the biomass goes into roots which stay in the soil, and less returns to the atmosphere. If we use genetic engineering to put more biomass into roots, we can probably achieve much more rapid growth of topsoil.

    The idea has been around for some time. Dyson wrote that 7 years and it wasn’t a new idea then. The problem has always getting farmers to do it on a scale large enough to matter for global warming and if the whole global warming from carbon dioxide brouhaha is the boneheaded bandwagon political non-science it appears to be then there’s no benefit at all except for the possible benefits of more durable soil for farming but that’s not a big problem for regions which aren’t very susceptable to soil erosion which is to say most farmland that isn’t owned by a zillion tiny pieces by a zilion impoverished third world dirt farmers. There are larger exceptions of course.

    Anyhow, if carbon sequestration is the goal the same book (I’m glad to see you using the Texas A&M online references that I’m very fond of, by the way) and same chapter, the full title of which is (my bold):

    The Carbon Cycle, the Ocean, and the Iron Hypothesis

    the fertilizing the ocean only iron is missing from otherwise nutrient rich waters is the way to go. It doesn’t require convincing a zillion farmers to replace farming methods passed down from generation for a thousand years, methods known to work well, with something new. Fat chance. Fertilizing the ocean is cheap and easy in comparison and the phytoplankton bloom will ripple down the food chain increasing seafood harvests enormously too which is a good thing in and of itself.

    The Carbon Cycle, the Ocean, and the Iron Hypothesis

    What happens to the CO2 released into the atmosphere? An inventory of what is produced by human activity and what is stored in the atmosphere indicates that more than one half is missing. Part of the carbon goes into the land in the form of woody growth, but almost exactly 50% goes into the ocean (Sabine et al 2004).

    Earth’s carbon cycle is dominated by the ocean, which absorbs 50% of the CO2 released into the atmosphere by human activity. Carbon settling to the ocean bottom can eventually be stored for millions of years.
    From Introduction to Climate Change United Nations Environmental Program’s UNEP Global Resources Information Database (GRID) office in Arendal Norway.

    The Oceanic Part of the Carbon Cycle

    To understand the fate of CO2 in the atmosphere, we must understand earth’s carbon cycle because atmospheric CO2 is only one part of the cycle. Several important oceanic processes influence the cycle. The figure above indicates that:

    The ocean stores 50 times more carbon dioxide than does the atmosphere;
    Much more carbon flows through the ocean than the amount produced by burning fossil fuels;
    An amount of carbon equal to to the total amount stored in the atmosphere cycles through the ocean in about eight years [(750 GT) / (92 GT per year) = 8.3 years]; and
    The flux in and out of the ocean is larger than the flux in and out of the land.
    The carbon cycle in the ocean has two main parts, a physical part due to CO2 dissolving into sea water, and a biological part due to phytoplankton converting CO2 into carbohydrates.

    Carbon dioxide dissolves into cold ocean water at high latitudes. CO2 is carried to the deep ocean by sinking currents, where it stays for hundreds of years. Eventually mixing brings the water back to the surface. The ocean emits carbon dioxide into the tropical atmosphere. This system of deep ocean currents is the marine physical pump for carbon. It help pumps carbon from the atmosphere into the sea for storage.

    Global map of the average annual exchange CO2 flux (mol-C m-2 a-1) across the sea surface.
    From Ocean Biogeochemistry and Global Change published by the International Geosphere Biosphere Program.

    Phytoplankton in the ocean use CO2, sunlight, water, and nutrients and produce carbohydrates and oxygen. Animals eat the phytoplankton contributing to the oceanic food web leading to fish. Dead phytoplankton and animals sink deeper into the ocean, and some land on the sea floor. The material from dead organisms is called reduced carbon. It is carbon is that can be oxidized to yield energy, water, and CO2. A small fraction of the reduced carbon (0.4%) is eventually buried and stored in sediments for millions of years (Middelburg et al, 2007). But most of the reduced carbon in and below the sea floor is used by animals and bacteria, and returned to the deep-ocean part of the carbon cycle. This is the marine biological pump for carbon. It too pumps carbon from the atmosphere into the sea for storage.

    Global map of the primary productivity by oceanic phytoplankton. Click on the image for a different view.
    From the International Geosphere Biosphere Program.

    The storage of reduced carbon in oceanic sediments in sediments maintains the oxygen content of the atmosphere. If no reduced carbon were stored in sediments, atmospheric oxygen would be used up in about 15 million years.

    It’s a popular misconception that the concentration of oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere is controlled by photosynthesis. Photosynthesis is certainly the source of atmospheric oxygen, but the amount it produces is in almost perfect balance with the amount consumed through the respiration of living organisms. It is only when carbon-based matter is buried in ocean sediments, and so ceases to be decomposed, that atmospheric oxygen can accumulate. This burial process also reduces the levels of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere. The exact rate of the burial of carbon-based matter is therefore a significant determinant of atmospheric composition, and thus global climate, over geological timescales.
    From Masiello (2007).

    Animals in the ocean use carbohydrates and oxygen and emit CO2. Plants respire CO2 during the night. As a result, all the oxygen produced by phytoplankton is used to convert reduced carbon into carbon dioxide except for the small amount of reduced carbon stored in sediments.
    Recently, people started burning fossil fuels, which released, in the form of CO2, the carbon produced by plants and stored as reduced carbon (now in the form of coal, oil, and gas) in sediments millions of years ago.
    Thus burning of fossil fuels is a source of CO2 and the ocean is a sink of CO2. To learn more about what happens to CO2 released into the atmosphere, read the paper on Sinks for Anthropogenic Carbon in the August 2002 issue of Physics Today. The plot of fluxes is particularly useful.

    Look at some images of chlorophyll distribution in the ocean to see where phytoplankton (microscopic floating plants) are common in the ocean. The Ocean Color home page has a nice animation of the seasonal cycle of phytoplankton concentration in the ocean. NASA Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer team has produced a 6-year average map of chlorophyll concentration in the ocean.

    Increasing the Oceanic Absorption of CO2: The Iron Hypothesis

    If the carbon cycle in the ocean processes so much more carbon than does the atmospheric part, can the oceanic part be increased to cause the ocean to store more carbon? After all, a small change in the storage rate could absorb all the carbon dioxide released by the burning of fossil fuels. John Martin proposed a way to do this.

    “Give me a half tanker of iron, and I will give you an ice age.”–John Martin.

    Martin noticed that large areas of the ocean (30% to 40%) have sufficient nutrients to support the growth of large populations of phytoplankton, yet these areas have small populations of phytoplankton. He called these areas high-nutrient, low-chlorophyll zones (HNLCs). On further investigation, Martin determined the HNLC zones were deficient in iron, a micro-nutrient essential for life. Johnson then proposed that adding small amounts of iron to these regions would greatly increase productivity. This is the iron hypothesis.

    Several recent experiments, including the Southern Ocean Iron Release Experiment, show the hypothesis is correct. Small amounts of iron in the right regions lead to larges increases in phytoplankton. One kilogram of iron leads to the production of 5,000 to 20,000 kilograms of phytoplankton.

    Read about John Martin and his iron hypothesis, including all the information in links to his work shown on the right side of the web page. For a more controversial look at this solution to the CO2 problem, read the Wired Magazine article on Dumping Iron.

    • David Springer

      I didn’t mean to quote so much in the second quote from the TAMU text. Just this about the iron hypothesis:

      Increasing the Oceanic Absorption of CO2: The Iron Hypothesis

      If the carbon cycle in the ocean processes so much more carbon than does the atmospheric part, can the oceanic part be increased to cause the ocean to store more carbon? After all, a small change in the storage rate could absorb all the carbon dioxide released by the burning of fossil fuels. John Martin proposed a way to do this.

      “Give me a half tanker of iron, and I will give you an ice age.”–John Martin.

      Martin noticed that large areas of the ocean (30% to 40%) have sufficient nutrients to support the growth of large populations of phytoplankton, yet these areas have small populations of phytoplankton. He called these areas high-nutrient, low-chlorophyll zones (HNLCs). On further investigation, Martin determined the HNLC zones were deficient in iron, a micro-nutrient essential for life. Johnson then proposed that adding small amounts of iron to these regions would greatly increase productivity. This is the iron hypothesis.

      Several recent experiments, including the Southern Ocean Iron Release Experiment, show the hypothesis is correct. Small amounts of iron in the right regions lead to larges increases in phytoplankton. One kilogram of iron leads to the production of 5,000 to 20,000 kilograms of phytoplankton.

      Read about John Martin and his iron hypothesis, including all the information in links to his work shown on the right side of the web page. For a more controversial look at this solution to the CO2 problem, read the Wired Magazine article on Dumping Iron.

  5. Thanks Chief

    requires a terrestrial biosphere sink of 101 GtC (in Sabine et al., given only as ranges of –140 to –80 GtC and 61 to 141 GtC, respectively; other uncertainties given in their Table 1). Net anthropogenic exchanges with the atmosphere are from Column 5 ‘AR4’ in Table 7.1. Gross fluxes generally have uncertainties of more than ±20% but fractional amounts have been retained to achieve overall balance when including estimates in fractions of GtC yr–1 for riverine transport, weathering, deep ocean burial, etc.

    The total fossil fuel combustion of 6.4 GtC is only 11% of the 60GtC uncertainty range of the biosphere sink! Talk about “confidence” in anthropogenic warming!

    See: Elevated carbon dioxide making arid regions greener
    From 1982-2010,

    a study of arid regions around the globe finds that a carbon dioxide “fertilization effect” has, indeed, caused a gradual greening from 1982 to 2010. . . .The satellite data agreed, showing an 11 percent increase in foliage

    Christy & Spencer show ALL 73 CMIP5 models show hotter projections than reality since 1979. This severe systemic bias indicates that major physics is missing and/or parameters are seriously wrong. Natural carbon fluxes and biosphere albedo could be part of that.

    • David L.Hagen is another hypocrite when it comes to not admitting that he is an advocate of a No-Regrets Policy of AGW risk mitigation.

      Recall that Hagen is a huge promoter of spreading the reality of oil depletion and Peak Oil. Yet at the same time he tries to deny the potential problems of doubling the atmospheric levels of CO2.

      David, you do realize that pushing alternative and renewable fuels is a good thing with respect to the global CO2 issue? Or does not this register with you?

      • Matthew R Marler

        WebHubTelescope: Recall that Hagen is a huge promoter of spreading the reality of oil depletion and Peak Oil. Yet at the same time he tries to deny the potential problems of doubling the atmospheric levels of CO2.

        That is not a hypocrite. It is someone who agrees with you about one thing but not another, and who may cooperate with you to achieve a goal that you want for reasons other than your own. You need to enlist the help of such people in order to achieve common goals instead of insulting them.

      • I don’t need help from someone with a dominionist mind-set. I would not enlist them as an ally if I knew that there was a possibility of them starting to spout off biblical quotes, or warn about the second coming of JC.

        I come here because it is a science site, not some church.

        Hagen has been hanging around the blogs as long as I have and I know the way he thinks. Springyboy does too:

        http://judithcurry.com/2012/05/20/copenhagen-consensus-2012/#comment-201905

        Here he is calling it a “church of global warming” at the same time he is quoting biblical scripture. If that’s not hypocrisy, you tell me what to call it. It’s also just plain wrong to preach about doom when your religion promotes it as part of its philosophy.

    • David Springer

      Dr. Pukite I’ve known David Hagen for going on a decade now and while he certainly has his faults (tunnel vision for one) he’s no hypocrite. He pretty much wears his beliefs on his sleeve.

      No regrets policies are by definition those things worth doing independant of so-called global warming a.k.a. climate change a.k.a. global climate disruption soon to be a.k.a. R.I.P. Cheaper ways to harvest and store and use energy are attractive regardless of additional virtues. I actually think atmospheric CO2 is beneficial and we’ll be wanting more of it not less in the rapidly approaching era of biotechnology. Atmospheric carbon is about to become a hot commodity for building durable goods using what’s essentially self-reproducing microscopic robots (bacteria). There won’t be enough of it in the future rather than too much.

    • I also know of Hagen indirectly from the years in which he has been commenting on http://TheOilDrum.com blog with his warnings of pending peak oil.

      Rationalizing that increasing levels of CO2 is a net benefit for plant life, while denying good science on AGW and advocating for all sorts of krank alternate theories is a form of scientific hypocrisy. You really can’t cherry-pick belief systems, but I do understand how this can occur based on personal subjective belief systems. wink,wink

      I predict we will see more and more of this rationalization by the deniers. Meanwhile, alternative energy advocates like Hagen will also make money on selling their energy technology to the public. Good for them and bad for scientific integrity.

      • Matthew R Marler

        WebHubTelescope: Rationalizing that increasing levels of CO2 is a net benefit for plant life,

        Are you disputing the claim that increased CO2 will be a net benefit for plant life? What grounds do you have for invoking the psychoanalytic concept of “rationalization” for a claim backed by scientific research — did you conduct a proper psychoanalysis in order to enlighten your claim?

      • David Springer

        What exactly is your problem with Christians, Pukite?

        Are you in bed with the Minnesota atheists led by Paul Myers?

        You might want to think about getting some mental therapy before you snap and hurt someone.

  6. Understanding desertification

    • > Well, not so fast. For all the intuitive appeal of “holistic management,” Savory’s hypothesis is beset with caveats. The most systematic research trial supporting Savory’s claims, the Charter Grazing Trials, was undertaken in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe today) between 1969 and 1975. Given the ecological vagaries of deserts worldwide, one could certainly question whether Savory’s research on a 6,200-acre spot of semiarid African land holds any relevance for the rest of the world’s 12 billion acres of desert. Extrapolation seems even more dubious when you consider that a comprehensive review of Savory’s trial and other similar trials, published in 2002, found that Savory’s signature high-stocking density and rapid-fire rotation plan did not lead to a perfectly choreographed symbiosis between grass and beast.

      http://www.slate.com/articles/life/food/2013/04/allan_savory_s_ted_talk_is_wrong_and_the_benefits_of_holistic_grazing_have.html

  7. An interesting variant is the use of plants – primarily trees – that convert CO2 into inorganic carbon. This sequesters the carbon for much longer periods – potentially thousands of years. Many of the trees that do this are not particularly exotic (e.g., cottonwood and mulberry), and have a wide range globally (i.e., extensive planting of these should not lead to invasive-species-like consequences).

    • David Springer

      Building a thicker layer of topsoil lasts for thousands of years too mabye longer. Thousands of years is a stretch for trees. Few trees live longer than a hundred years and the average is much shorter. Hardwoods and probably a fair amount of pine however are harvested for the production of durable goods made of wood. A home or a table built from wood might remain sequestered for up to a few hundred years but longer than that probably not and the average I should think would be maybe a century at most. Not as much stuff is made of wood nowdays either although that might change with a redoubled effort to produce more of it for sequestration reasons. Personally I love building stuff with wood. It’s beautiful, durable, flexible, comes in varieties for almost any purpose or environment, and is very forgiving of boneheaded mistakes made by amateur woodworkers like me. I always use screws instead of nails so I can undo my many mistakes and/or easily reuse the wood from one project in another. You can reuse the screws too! So I’m all for more trees I just question if it would be a significant source of carbon sequestration and more than that I think carbon sequestration is a waste of time and money in and of itself.

    • @John Plodinec…

      See my comment here.

  8. David Springer

    It should be noted that conservation farming (a.k.a. no-till or low-till) is sometimes called “chemical farming”. The till is replaced by treatments with chemical weed killers. Monsanto loves the heck out of conservation farming. They’ll sell you GM seeds for crops resistant to chemical weed killers and they’ll sell you the chemical weed killers too. They’re very gung ho about it. Follow the money. And follow the farmers. A great deal of farmland is productive and not deteriorating using a plow instead of chemicals to condition the soil and they’re happy to keep doing what they know will work. Farmers epitomize the philosophy “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it”.

    • maksimovich

      Ploughing is responsible for the loss of around 13 billion mt of topsoil yr and around 15% of co2 emissions, the dustbowl of the 30’s was a result of overplowing.

      Seed drills limit the loss,and increase moisture capture ( a water vapour sink)

      The expansion of grasslands and increased C sink with enhanced weathering ( biological weathering being a factor of 10 faster then archers model) enhanced the transition since the cenzoic to cooler regimes. eg Retallack

      http://pages.uoregon.edu/dogsci/_media/directory/faculty/greg/grasslandscooling.pdf?id=directory%3Afaculty%3Agreg%3Aabout&cache=cache

    • I’ve planted trees along the railway line as a wild life corridor.
      As in me garden I find mulching keeps weeds down. I get
      more weeds when I dig … Serfs don’t like digging, )
      B-t-s

      • David Springer

        Don’t you think farmers that have been making a living at it for generations know what the f*ck they’re doing and in places like the U.S. so well informed with so many great ag departments in state universities and government agencies to keep them informed of both experimental and demonstrated means of becoming more successful that conservation sells itself where needed and is panned where it isn’t?

      • Somebody needs to switch to decaf.

    • Chief Hydrologist

      I discussed ‘permanent pasture’ rather than no till. The use of perennials and intensive rotation of grazing animals – by far the biggest share of agricultural lands and where the biggest gains can be made.

      Where land is productive and has good levels of carbon – there may be little to be gained. Where land is degraded especially – are where the environmental gains are. In general agricultural soils have been losing topsoil and carbon over time.

      Modern no till and minimum compaction farming can reduce chemical inputs on large scale cropping with the use of weed recognition software and precision spraying. It works if it works for the individual farmer economically in term of inputs costs and productivity.

      Food production needs to increase by 50% or so by mid century.

      • David Springer

        re; food production needs to increase 50% by mid century

        No. Population is projected to level out at 9B by mid-century. That’s a bit less than 30% increase from today not 50%.

        There are other mechanisms for feeding more people than simply increasing production proportionately. An excessive amount of food goes to waste for instance. Eating farm-fed livestock is highly inefficient as well. The grain that feeds the livestock goes more than twice as far if it is consumed directly by people instead of being inefficiently converted to meat first. Plus Chris Christie had his stomach stapled which will save enough food to feed a village somewhere. There are a billion decadent fat f*cks like Christie who can stop stuffing their fat faces with enough calories for three normal people.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        Factor in billions who could use a few more calories.

  9. Rob Starkey

    What is the cost of CO2 sequestration?


    • Rob Starkey | June 7, 2013 at 9:45 am

      What is the cost of CO2 sequestration?

      What is the purpose of asking rhetorical questions?

      Ringo is the master.

      • Rob Starkey

        Webby
        You continue to be the master of stupid comments.
        Understanding what it costs to sequester CO2 both from a non-recurring and recurring cost perspective is a key to determining if the approach is one that makes sense to implement.

      • Rob Starkey,

        You have to understand what WHT means when he cites this quote: “A policy that would generate net social and/or economic benefits irrespective of whether or not anthropogenic climate change occurs.”

        You are confused by the word “net.” See, to a true believing CAGW ideologue, “net” means that the policy advances their agenda. To you, me and other sentient human beings, net means the final result of determining the costs and the benefits of a policy, subtracting one from the other.

        To WHT, “no regrets” means, he will not regret implementation of the policy he has been pushing all along. “No regrets,” when used by a true believer like WHT in the climate context is just a reframing of decarbonization. There can be no regret, because they are right, you are wrong, so the “net” benefit to society must be a plus because we are going to suffer catastrophe after catastrophe, and run out of oil and coal anyway, if we don’t surrender control of the economy to them.

        Therefore they don’t have to do the math. So knowing costs is irrelevant to him. Therefore your question is “rhetorical.” Situational logic at its finest.

        Words are funny things coming from a progressive. Take what some are proposing as a compromise position, and use it to subsume your entire agenda. “If we just change the way we frame the issue….”

      • David Springer

        GaryM

        +1

        I’m trying real hard to be more charitable to Dr. PeePee but those are pretty much my sediments exactly.

      • michael hart

        Me too. +1 GaryM.
        I’m quite happy to expand nuclear power, because I think it is probably worth it. But in order to do so I’m not prepared to lie and say that I think CO2 emissions are a problem.

      • Peter Lang

        Gary M and Michael Hart

        +1, me too

    • David Springer

      Maybe by rhetorical WHUT means the cost of sequestration is impractically high and everyone knows it. That would make your question rhetorical.

      Maybe WHUT had something else in mind that makes it rhetorical?

      • Rob Starkey

        I did a quick internet search and read it is expected to cost $30 per ton of CO2, but it did not include any detailled cost breakdown of that estimate so I couldn’t determine if it was reasonable. I seriously just wondered if someone had a more detailed analysis of the costs to implement and sustain such an idea.

        As for Webby- enough has already been written.

      • “I did a quick internet search and read it is expected to cost $30 per ton of CO2, “

        I knew you could do it Ringo — just try and you don’t need a little help from your friends.

      • David Springer

        Gen-3 biofuel plants need all the CO2 they can get and more. In order to produce 20 gallons of fuel per acre per year requires bubbling pure CO2 through the bioreactors. The primary source of the CO2 is from exhaust gas of natural gas turbines at electrical power plants. At some point in the future advances in biotechnology will enable direct extraction of CO2 from the atmosphere but for today’s biofuel plants compressed CO2 is the only practical option. So instead of CO2 production at power plants being a problem the capture and resale for biofuel production will be an additional revenue stream. A win-win situation.

      • David Springer

        Gen-3 biofuel plants need all the CO2 they can get and more. In order to produce 20 thousand gallons of fuel per acre per year requires bubbling pure CO2 through the bioreactors. The primary source of the CO2 is from exhaust gas of natural gas turbines at electrical power plants. At some point in the future advances in biotechnology will enable direct extraction of CO2 from the atmosphere but for today’s biofuel plants compressed CO2 is the only practical option. So instead of CO2 production at power plants being a problem the capture and resale for biofuel production will be an additional revenue stream. A win-win situation.

  10. What’s the a cliff notes version of this for simpletons like me?

    If this reduces CO2 levels then go for it.

  11. My issue is the false premise that CO2 is excessive.

    We see daily that alarmists and media supporters whip up CO2 hysteria based upon the radiative effect on the climate from “heat trapping greenhouse gases.” They mislead in two ways. Most of radiation is from H2O, and only a minor amount from CO2. Secondly, radiation is a bit player in the troposphere, where conduction, convection and latent heat transfer dominate.

    The public is thus deceived, and the CO2 molehill is transformed into a mountain endangering humankind. The distortion is never exposed, and as one result, we get a new estimate by the US Dept. Of Energy of $36 for the social cost per ton of carbon emissions.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/wonkblog/wp/2013/06/05/what-an-obscure-microwave-rule-says-about-obamas-climate-plans/

    • I see nothing in the Washington Post article that deceives the public into thinking GHG is more CO2 than H20.

      • How about no mention of H2O at all–GHG is now synonomous with CO2.

      • I don’t know. I didn’t write the article. But since scientists believe CO2 is enhancing the green house effect long-term, but H2O is not, I’m not sure I see the point in bringing up H20. If you were revising the article, what would you say about H2O?

      • Actually, since that article is about the social cost decision, I don’t expect the writer to provide any scientific context. It just never seems to be mentioned that H2O vapor provides 75% of the greenhouse effect, and that a 3% decrease in water vapor offsets a doubling of CO2 (at present concentrations).

    • Even H2O is a net cooler, according to the consensus.

  12. It’s hard for me to take seriously anyone who mixes Jack Daniels with Coca Cola, a wasteful and tasteless habit I associate with drinkers who have more money than class and intelligence. However, I must admit Chief Hydrologist demonstrates considerable intelligence in his post ” Soil carbon: permanent pasture as an approach to CO2 sequestration, and I thank him for his effort. Maybe it’s just more money than class.

    If I were still farming, I would seriously consider no-till. The linked report discusses the advantages and disadvantages of no-till wheat farming in Oklahoma, most of which probably are applicable to other crops. I believe the advantages can outweigh the disadvantages.

    http://www.soiltesting.okstate.edu/Extn_Pub/F-2132No-till%20wheat%20in%20OK.pdf

    • David Springer

      Mixing nasty sour mash whiskey with Coke is a insult to Coca-cola not Jack Daniels.

  13. Chief

    Thank you for the post.

    I have followed your land CO2 agriculture sequestration line of thought and I am intrigued and in my mind I am comparing some life experiences.

    Which leads me to: I have a quandary to which you may have insight:

    On a family owned and run dairy operation of 1200 acres in Northern North America, there are 300 head of cattle, 2/3s are milked every day producing 85 pounds of high quality (high fat and very low bacteria count) milk per cow/day. The dairy herd has increased from 100 head milking @ 70 cows per day at 55 lbs milk per day/cow. The farming operation has changed from pasturing Spring, Summer, & Fall with silage for the winter, to no pasturing at all, silage year round. The farm produces all its own silage, providing added nutrients per agriculture extension cattle feed experts. Silage mostly comes from corn cut in late August while stalk and corn have high water content and ripened soybeans. Liquid cow manure spread on soil sampled and tested areas providing more uniform crop fertilizing without over fertilizing.

    Question: what is the agricultural land productivity for a permanent pasture CO2 sequestration program, or have I already answered my own question?

    • Chief Hydrologist

      I have a cold. My nose is runny, I have a hacking cough and a headache.

      The Mitchell 2009 report was for southern Australian dairy farms. The report found that there was little scope at dairy farms because the soils were well managed. It would depend on the land. I have certainly seen much degraded dairy land – some of that is now abandoned agricultural land. There are as well immense areas of rangelands – a large part of which could do with a good fire thereby sequestering carbon as biochar.

  14. Are we drifting away from the grand cause? Michael Mann is referring to it here:

    “I gave up on Judith Curry a while ago. I don’t know what she thinks she’s doing, but it’s not helping the cause, or her professional credibility.” Dr. Michael Mann (see, foi2009.pdf Climategate e-mail dated May 30, 2008)

    Or, is it all just more of the same–e.g., what can governments united around the world do to deal with the non-problem of manmade CO2?

  15. chief

    thanks for the hat tip. I guess that means we will share the Nobel prize.

    when I suggested this as a possible topic a couple of weeks ago I had borrowed a book on carbon sequestration in the soil from the met office library. Its a very complex subject but what struck me was the comment that there is 10 times as much co2 in the soil than in the atmosphere.(from memory, I am away from home today)

    Bearing in mind the huge amount of ploughing that has gone on in the world over the last 500 years you do wonder how much carbon dioxide has found its way from soil to air over the years?

    you also wonder how much could be locked up in the soil in the future to satisfy those concerned about this gas, although it does add to the greening of the planet and will help to grow better crops, so is it better locked in the soil or creating plant growth by being in the atmosphere?
    anyway, well done chief for creating this article and I hope the denizens will discuss it thoroughly.

    tonyb

  16. If we just knew that our planet will be locked in a global cooling trend perhaps lasting hundreds of years based on changes in solar activity and the earth’s orbit: would that mean then that we should have no interest in, e.g., “permanent pasture as an approach to CO2 sequestration”?

  17. Houston, we have a problem. The idea of permanent pastures is a solution for removing CO2 from the atmosphere, to fight global warming, but there is no global warming so what are we fighting? A solution would be to understand that climate changes all the time and there’s nothing we can do about it. Understanding is the real solution because only then can we begin to fight to find the solution to a global energy shortage.

  18. Peter Lang

    Good article by Brandon Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus comparing the costs of nuclear and solar power: http://thebreakthrough.org/index.php/voices/michael-shellenberger-and-ted-nordhaus/no-solar-way-around-it/

    • Peter Lang

      Thanks for posting that good article on nuclear vs. solar, but Shellenberger’s first name is “Michael”.

      Max

      • Peter Lang

        Yes. And it is Ted Nordhaus not Professor William Nordhaus. My mistakes (I have to admit, these are the first mistakes I’ve made in my life :) )

        ABOUT MICHAEL SHELLENBERGER & TED NORDHAUS

        Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger are leading global thinkers on energy, climate, security, human development, and politics. They are founders of the Breakthrough Institute and executive editors of Breakthrough Journal.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        I was confused when I saw Peter Lang’s comment. I doubt William Nordhaus would co-author an article with me (or have a reason to), and I’m sure we’ve never collaborated on anything. I couldn’t think of a way I had wound up being listed as his co-author.

        As far as I can remember, the most interaction I’ve had with Nordhaus is posting a few comments criticizing his “rebuttal” to something some (16?) scientists wrote in a news article. I basically called his response garbage for being wrong/misleading on multiple points. I’m not sure I got any responses, and I certainly didn’t get any from Nordhaus.

      • Brandon Shollenberger

        Dear lord, now I’m doing it. Why did I type William?

    • Another one bites the dust. Nuke power advocates just can’t get a break lately.

      http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2013/jun/07/san-onofre-nuclear-reactors-shut-down

      • Peter Lang

        Max_OK,

        Closing of reactors at 40-year-old San Onofre power plant reflects harsh economics facing ageing fleet of US reactors

        Yep. The early reactors were only designed for 40 years. The new ones have design lives of 60 years. Amaziing that any thing has to be replac ed in this modern world, eh. It’s not as if we have to replace iPhones, or computers, or cars, or washing machines, or houses, or hospitals or roads, is it, eh?

      • Hombre, none of us will want to be around when Spain has to start replacing its whirlygigs…without the early enthusiasm and the Euromonies. Maybe they’ll just buy lots more nuke power from over the border.

        Still, they’ll always have that one shining April day when the wind was perfect and they sold a trickle of power back to France.

      • Peter Lang

        Mosomoso,

        none of us will want to be around when Spain has to start replacing its whirlygigs

        Just in from GWPF newsletter:

        Green Investors Face Bankruptcy As Spain Cuts Subsidies
        Investors May Never Recoup Green Investments

        Juan Antonio Cabrero is bracing for the savings he invested in a solar-energy farm in northern Spain to disappear into light. In 2008 Mr. Cabrero put up his €20,000 ($26,200) life savings and took on a €80,000 bank loan to buy part of the solar farm, pledging his home in nearby Tafalla as a guarantee. Now, because of cuts in renewable-energy subsidies the government is said to be planning, the 60-year-old Mr. Cabrero may lose both his savings and his house. The move could drive tens of thousands of struggling solar-energy companies and individual investors like Mr. Cabrero into default. –Ilan Brat and Christopher Bjork, The Wall Street Journal, 6 June 2013

        Everyone knows that Britain needs to invest massively in the energy sector over the next 20 years. The National Infrastructure pipeline, put together in the Treasury last year, says that of an anticipated infrastructure spending requirement of £310 billion energy will take £176 billion. But at a conference on Infrastructure organised by think tank Reform and hosted yesterday by the Association of British Insurers the question repeatedly asked was, who is going to pay for all this? Only one speaker, Peter Atherton of Liberum Capital, gave a clear and succinct answer: nobody. –Anthony Hilton, The London Evening Standard, 6 June 2013

        Atherton reckons that in a couple of years’ time we will need to be spending at the rate of at least £27 billion a year to have any hope of meeting the targets for 2020 to say nothing of the targets for 2030. At present the spend is around £7 billion a year. Where is that money going to come from? Not from the electricity companies it would appear. Though the utilities are expected by Government to make these investments, Atherton says they have neither the desire nor the money to do so. Even if they did have the desire he says, they would be told by their shareholders to lie down in a darkened room until the feeling passed. –Anthony Hilton, The London Evening Standard, 6 June 2013

      • Another on bites the dust and another…. oops.

        http://www.clepair.net/windSchiphol.html

        Wind turbines are large structures -( requiring energy
        fer their construction foundation and installation.
        ‘One of the firms actually doing this type of work figured it
        out (ref 5 Note13) it boils down to an amount of energy
        equal to the assumed production of the wind turbine
        during a period of 1 1/2 years.’ le Pair.

        This energy investment has to be written off during the
        whole life of the installation. This ( according to wind
        supporters) is supposed to be around 25 years but is
        actuallyy about 15 years.Subsidy regulations by the
        Netherlands Government are based on a write off of
        15 years. Hmmm, ‘Graveyard of the Giants.’ bring on
        the herd ter fertilize and grow the pasture ter hide it all,
        the ‘human’ energy farce …

        ‘I am the grass
        Let me work.’

        H/t Carl Sandburg.

      • David Springer

        Peter Lang writes that everything gets replaced.

        This is true. Failed visionaries and lofty ideas that promise to save the world eventually get replaced as well. What generation of nuclear power promises that never materialize are we up to now?

  19. Chief Hydrologist

    40 year old nuclear technology should not have been built in the first place.

    Technology can solve energy crisis – ‘Years before the safety of nuclear reactors was jeopardized by the devastating hydrogen explosion at Fukushima, U.S. scientists successfully developed revolutionary technology that promises to create safe, clean and virtually unlimited electrical power.’

    http://media.ga.com/2012/03/11/technology-can-solve-energy-crisis/

    • Peter Lang

      1) Safety at all cost: There are new, compact fast reactors with fail-safe technology and revolutionary cooling and cladding systems to protect the very people whose future they are powering.

      2) Economics: Designs are cost-competitive with coal and natural gas.

      3) Proliferation resistance: We safeguard by achieving a closed fuel cycle and running reactors for 30-60 years without refueling.

      4) Practical waste disposition: These new reactors run on “spent” fuel from conventional reactors, solving the problem of disposing of the past-generation waste stockpile.

      I suggest there is an issue with the tense used in these claims. These concepts don’t exist as commercial, operating nuclear power stations now, and certainly didn’t when the Fukushima plant was designed in the 1950’s and 1960’s and built in the 1970s. The designs that this articles talks about and implies are proven are decades from being commercially viable. I am all for the development of the more advanced reactor designs. Some of them will eventually become commercially viable but we have no idea which and it will take decades to get there. We will get there faster remove the impediments that preventing us from having lower cost nuclear power than fossil fules power in the short term. We need to remove the impedimen ts that are retarding development.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        There are decades of prototypes – from Germany and Los Alamos in the 1960’s, to South Africa and lately in both China and the US.

        There are dozens of designs that are technically feasible – the key is factory manufacture and refueling.

      • Peter Lang

        Chief, you are correct. They are prototypes. Thye take decades to get to being commercially viable and the vast majority of concepts, designs and prototypes never become commercially viable. They are not economic.

        We should put most of our effort into removing the impediments that make them too expensive.

        This design http://www.babcock.com/products/modular_nuclear/ is now passing through the NRC licencing process. It is a modification of designs that have been used to power submarines for fifty years with negligible problems. To get them licensed for use on land will take a decade and $1 billion. Because of nuclear paranoia the vendor had to offer a plant that uses 5% enriched uranium and therefore must be refueled about every 4 years. If not for nuclear paranoia they could have proposed the nuclear power plants used in the Virginia Class subs which never have to be refueled in their whole life (and never can be). That is the sort of irrational obstruction we are having to deal with.

      • Peter Lang

        Wow, Max_OK, you really are digging deep to try to find a new scarey story aren’t you. Not a sign on any context in your comment. Just scaremongering, eh?

        with droplets of contaminated water leaking out between the tank’s circular steel structure.

        Why the change of subject from Catastrophic AGW? Has that doomsday scenario run out of puff for you? So n ow you are digging up the nuclear doomsday scenarions?

      • Peter, it was you, not I, who brought up the subject of nuclear power (your post of June 7, 2013 at 7:40 pm). I do not know why you thought it was relevant to “Soil carbon: permanent pasture as an approach to CO2 sequestration” but you may have had a reason.

        Safety is relevant to a discussion of nuclear power, and Fukushima raises questions about the vulnerability of nuclear plants to natural disasters. My post called attention to a report of continuing problems at Fukushima. As an advocate of nuclear power you don’t like to acknowledge the safety issue, so it annoys you that I brought it up, and you respond with rudeness.

      • Peter Lang

        Poor Max_OK. How pathetic. You were scaremongering, as usual, and I called you on it. Whether I posted an O/T comment or not is irrelevant to you posting a silly comment as you did.

        Safety is relevant to a discussion of nuclear power, and Fukushima raises questions about the vulnerability of nuclear plants to natural disasters.

        And, regarding trying to raise the issue of nuclear safety when it is demonstrably the safest way to generate electricity is simply an ideologically driven scare mongering. There is no other way to describe it. You are getting destroyed on your other ideological beliefs and doomsayer agendas so you tried to raise nuclear safety – and made a fool of yourself.

        Just to remind you: 18,500 killed in the tsunami and not a single person killed as a result of radiation from the nuclear plant and unlikely to be in the future either. And you want to raise the

      • Peter, your incessant promotion of nuclear power is excruciating tiresome, and you deserve criticism for being a colossal bore. If I felt you weren’t deserving, I wouldn’t bother.

        If I were an advocate of nuclear power, I would want you to keep your mouth shut. Before reading your posts on the subject, I was neither pro- nor anti- nuclear. Now, I’m leaning anti- .

        Hey, I have some more bad news for you.

        Plans for Iowa’s second nuclear power plant have been dropped by Mid American Energy.

        “The decreasing cost of natural gas, events at Fukushima and a general suspicion about the safety of nuclear power may have all contributed to the decision to abandon the development of a new nuclear plant.”

        Read more at http://cleantechnica.com/2013/06/06/1-billion-dollar-nuclear-plant-dropped-in-iowa/#DIkgjyy0vYb7wilh.99

      • Peter Lang

        Max_OK

        How hypocritical. I’ll turn your comment around as it applies to you:

        Max_OK, your incessant promotion of ,doomsday scenarios, CAGW, anti-nuke, economically irrational policies, progressive ideologies. is excruciating tiresome, and you deserve criticism for being a colossal bore. If I felt you weren’t deserving, I wouldn’t bother.

        I’d add that I think you and those who continually preach hypocritical messages about GHG emissions and doomsday climate scenarios, continually argue against economically rational polices, argue for irrational policies and make incessantly stupid comments are boring, irresponsible and retarding progress. People who share your beliefs have been blocking progress for decades.

        Progress is made by economic growth, globalisation, free markets (appropriately lightly regulated), free trade, multi-national companies, cheap energy, electrification. Those who argue against that (i.e. the self claimed ‘Progressives’) are the people thwarting real progress.

        I have a question for you. If you are really concerned about CAGW, why don’t you stop being such a damned hypocrite?

      • Peter, lacking any creative ability yourself, you steal my lines, and substitute my good words with your BS.

        You should hide your face in shame.

      • Peter Lang

        “Creative” eh? So that what you think is important, eh? get more artists and cretive people to develop policy. Great idea.

        Australia’s Labor Government has a minister who experience before entering parliament was a rock band singer (Midnight Oil) and anti nuclear protester. As minister he was responsible for the Federal Government’s ‘Pink Bats’ home insulation policy fiasco. An example of the stupidity of government trying to run programs to fix.

        You can keep your “creative’ priorities. I am interested in pragmatic, economically rational policies, which have high probability of succeeding in the real world, to improve the wellbeing of all people as fast as possible.

        If “creative” is what turns you on, I suggest you go off and play creatively with your play dough

    • David Springer

      Does General Atomics have one of those wonderful new nuclear reactors that will make electricity so cheap we won’t get electric bills anymore actually working?

      As far as I’m aware the only thing that’s too cheap to bill for is lectures from General Atomics about products that exist only in their imagination.

      Put up or shut up would be my suggestion to them.

      • Chief Hydrologist

        As far as I know General Atomics are investing $1.8 billion on basically a design that emerged from Los Alamos. They are talking about a 30% reduction in cost over earlier generation designs.

  20. Rud Istvan

    Thanks for providing a great post and thread, Chief.
    Agriculture is important for more than soil sequestration of carbon dioxide. Most of us also need to eat. And humus rich soils are more productive.
    As an active owner of a medium sized dairy farm in Wisconsin, I can assure you from personal experience that there are no simple, ‘one size fits all’ solutions. Allan Savory is right, but his ideas only apply to grazing, and not to more intensive cultivation like pork, chicken, or dairy. No till helps, except more than 10 weed species have already evolved resistance to glyphosate and already infest over 10 million acres in the US…

    The theme of resilience resonates. Crop rotation, ploughing some years not others, contouring, GMO (Monsanto Roundup Ready corn and soy for no till with glyphosate weed control) all have a place. Diversification of tactics is the main trick.
    BTW, except for C4 photosynthesis plants like corn and sugar cane, more atmospheric CO2 usually improves yields in C3 plants. That is why it is added to the atmosphere in greenhouses for things like hydroponic ‘on the vine’ tomatoes.
    Back to this post. Soil carbon sequestion is but one facet of a planet that is literally a biome, not well understood (uncertainty monster, hello) and far more complex than the now being falsified GCMs have portrayed.

    • +1000
      Sorry Peter Lang ,yr franchise but what a good comment
      about responding ter problems on the littoral, a not well
      understood biome, necessitatind resiliance on the ground
      because that ‘s shifting sand we sorta stand on. Modellers
      enclosed in cloud towers appear ter be inocculated from
      impacts of harsh reality.
      jest a serf.

    • David Springer

      I wonder if Monsanto is the inventor of the phrase “conservation farming”?

      If they didn’t they owe (big time) whoever coined that warm fuzzy phrase to describe what’s more aptly called “chemical farming”.

      Thanks for slipping in an opinion from an actual farmer, Rud. Generalissimo Skippy (a.k.a. Robert I. Ellison) by his own words “sits around running models all day” with an unspecified number of excursions to “dive the Great Barrier Reef”. People like that think they know about farming? Farming what, one wonders, other than blather.

  21. The leader of the free world, and the man many of you want to run the energy economy of the United States.

    http://nation.foxnews.com/2013/06/07/%E2%80%9Cuhhh%E2%80%A6uh%E2%80%A6uhhh%E2%80%A6people%E2%80%9D-obama-total-loss-words-when-staff-forgets-his-speech

    God help us.

    • Many? Well, enough to win the election. Right-wing extremist don’t think Obama is doing a good job, which means he is doing a good job. After Obama, I look forward to eight years of Hillary Clinton as President.

  22. We know all about the Left’s faux world of polar bears caused by America’s second-hand smoke — and, runaway global warming — but, what is reality? Instead of normal temperatures, now we have torrential normal temperatures; we have cataclysmic usual climate; we have a generation of Western schoolteachers destitute of the impulse to any uplifting activity who would deprive all humanity of the fruits of Western civilization’s industrial man.

  23. (Back so soon?)
    Talkin’ soil carbon here raises and is raising complex issues
    re a complex biomass. Chief raises issues of benefits of soil
    health and growth and the downstream environmental benefits
    of soil carbon sequestering.

    In preference ter carbon taxes I’d go with the Freeman Dyson
    approach any day. However other issues of benefits of CO2
    in the atmosphere are being discussed and there’s this from
    ‘The Chiefio,’ E.M. Smith.

    http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2009/06/02/of-trees-volcanos-and-pond-scum/

    Co2 can get dangerously low fer plant life as in the past.
    The Chiefio notes that: ‘A fast forest’ species like Poplar,
    or Eucalyptus, can completely deplete about twice as much
    volume of air as sits above that forest (all the way to space.)
    …and a fertile pond growing pond scum could completely
    deplete about 20 times the volume of air as sits above it
    in one year.’

    Say, makes yr think about fertile ocean sinks, as David Springer
    mentions in the thread, doesn’t it? A fertile thread, thx Chief.
    Bts

  24. Yes David Springer the temperatures in Earth’s crust and mantle are indeed supported by the gravity effect, and the temperatures gradients there are exactly as can be calculated. It’s all in my paper “Planetary Core and Surface Temperatures” where you can read the solid physics from which these conclusions are derived.

    By the way, I ignore any comments such as you tend to make unless there is evidence of a valid physics argument therein. Venus, for example, does cool 5 degrees at night and warm 5 degrees in its day. It’s surface temperature would thus cool off over a century or so if there were no Sun shining upon it each Venus day. I have studied Venus very extensively. You have not.

    • David, I don’t think you want to return to moderation, so pls stop the insulting comments. Note, if you do land in moderation, the release of moderated comments will be slow since I am on travel.

      • David Springer

        Off-topic but… what’s the deal with abbreviating “please” with “pls”. There are no other abbreviations in your comment and it’s wordy enough otherwise. I’m sure there’s some psychological significance there but I’m hesitant to bring forth any hypothetical explanations. Perhaps a bit of self-reflection might be enlightening. Have a safe and plsnt trip!

      • Springyboy must not have had dealings with people educated in India. The abbreviation pls comes from there if not elsewhere.

      • David Springer

        You might have a point if Curry was educated in India. I wasn’t making an argument about the abbreviation per se I was pointing out it was the only abbreviation she used in an otherwise wordy comment. It stands out in other words. To a person as observant as me it stands out like a proverbial sore thumb. No doubt there’s a psychological motivation behind it and it probably isn’t a flattering explanation so at risk of being moderated I don’t to speculate on the possibilities.

        But thanks for asking and maybe if you keep trying you’ll have a valid point about something someday.

      • Springer

        Pls don’t get annoyed by our hostess’ “pls”.

        Be a marine.

        Max

      • David Springer

        http://www.googlefight.com/index.php?lang=en_GB&word1=pls&word2=please

        You’d think with a billion Indians in the world pls might not be quite as badly outnumbered. On the other hand maybe you don’t think.

  25. David Springer

    Peter Lang | June 8, 2013 at 4:35 am |

    “Just to remind you: 18,500 killed in the tsunami and not a single person killed as a result of radiation from the nuclear plant and unlikely to be in the future either.”

    Not a single person has been killed by an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile either. According to your logic that makes them safe and there’s no reason not to have millions of more them. Imbecile.

    • Who needs millions of ICBM’s?

      • David Springer

        I figured as long as we’re imagining millions of safe cheap backyard nuclear reactors that everyone who imagines they want a cheap backyard ICBM can has one too! I mean heck, I know I’d like a missile silo in my backyard as a conversation starter. The idea of personal nuclear deterance has a certain appeal to it too. Government tyranny? Not in MY backyard! Ha.

      • You’re the only one here imagining things

      • David Springer

        If by that you mean that safe portable affordable nuclear power plants are more than imaginary I’d beg to differ. Please explain.

  26. David Springer

    Sorry Judith. I wasn’t aware of your respect for Dragon Slayer science. I’ll make a note of it.

  27. David Springer

    D Cotton | June 8, 2013 at 3:04 am | Reply

    “I have studied Venus very extensively. You have not.”

    Doug, in point of fact I’ve visited the planet Venus and movies have been made about my adventures there.

    Heinlen’s Space Cadet for instance is actually taken from real life. MY life. Matt Dodson is me.

    Now you just let me know what more you want to know about Venus and I’ll tell you. I might even be able to arrange for you to see it for yourself in my next routine patrol of the solar system. But right now there’s an uprising on Mars that requires my attention so you’ll have to pardon me while I attend to that.

  28. Chief

    Thanks for your post.

    You propose a “no regrets” approach to moving a portion of the CO2 out of the atmosphere. This appears to me to be sensible because it adds inherent value in improving soil fertility.

    Other carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) schemes proposed to date do not make sense, as they do not add inherent value (only cost) and are exorbitantly expensive.

    However, I do not believe that the numbers show that this, or any other, CCS proposal will have a perceptible impact on our climate, even at the arguably exaggerated 2xCO2 ECS estimate cited by IPCC in AR4.

    But your idea can’t hurt, and most important: it adds value.

    Max

  29. Chief Hydrologist

    My apologies. I had flu and then had this zombie death thing happening. Zombies can’t use keyboards. Could be good to know.

    There seems little doubt that soil carbon in both cropping and grazing systems have declined. Some areas – degraded and eroded – are more affected than others.