Carbon cycle questions: Part II

While I have culled considerably the previous thread, it is getting unwieldy for those of you that want to carry on extensive technical discussions.  So here is another thread for extended technical discussion.  Keep your more general comments on the previous thread.  Thank you.

374 responses to “Carbon cycle questions: Part II

  1. Hi Judy et al, sharing this paper that I recently published for the Animal Sciences community on carbon cycle, climate, and controversy. It was an invited, peer-reviewed article that has been well-received as an overview. http://www.animalfrontiers.org/2011/Vol1/003.pdf

  2. Marshall
    Sorry, but you lost me as a reader on yoir article when you said this on the first page;

    ‘The apparent controversy over climate change is rooted in a
    campaign by special interests to create reasonable doubt (e.g.,
    tobacco industry and smoking) or basic lack of understanding
    of simple climate, science, and statistical principles.’

    it is a nonsense repeated many times by warmists.

    tonyb

    • Nebuchadnezzar

      “it is a nonsense repeated many times by warmists”

      How true, tonyb. One could hold the CO2 produced by all the cigarettes ever smoked in a small maisonette in Dorking. Why would the tobacco industry even be bothered by climate change?

      Personally, I like to read past the political nonsense and see if there’s a scientific point behind it.

    • It’s also weird that this paragraph is included under a heading call “implications” as if it is a result standing on the same ground as the science.
      And it’s also weird that he doesnt get that the controversy is equally grounded in the misuse of statistics by certain team members, who when faced with challenges, decided to answer the challenge by screaming big oil.

    • You’re free to not consider the association important, but the origin of climate science denial in APCO, a PR firm hired by Philip Morris, and TASSC, a pseudo-scienctific front group created for no reason but to forge the appearance of legitimacy for “science” denying that tobacco causes cancer, is a matter of historical fact and not a legitimate, rational, nor skeptical excuse to dismiss a person’s view.
      http://tobaccodocuments.org/pm/2078848225-8226.html
      Much of the tobacco lobby’s activities have been found criminal, as well as civilly liable for financial damages, and although that alone is not sufficient reason to dismiss every claim by them and their associates — certain prominent spokespeople who call themselves “skeptics” — that association is a valid reason to be skeptical of them, and you, and your messages.

  3. Hi. I’ll wait for the paper before forming an opinion.
    I have a question in the meanwhile.
    My understanding is that CO2 in the atmosphere has hovered rather tightly around 280 ppm for thousands of years. Let’s call that an equilibrium value, more or less. It seems to me that, as atmospheric CO2 increases, the driving force (X-280, where X is the CO2 ppm in the air) for placing carbon into sinks (the ocean) should increase. So, at say 380 ppm, the delta is 100 whereas at earlier air values of say 300 ppm, the delta was only 20.
    Has this change in driving force (and rate of atmospheric accumulation) been observed when making carbon cycle balances?
    Thanks,

    • David Smith: Within AGW I think the conventional view is that this increase in driving force, as you call it, explains why the annual increase in CO2 is less that the annual human emissions. Some of the supposed excess is driven off, especially into the oceans, by the increasing partial pressure, or some such. Of course this is conjectural and assumes the equilibrium you refer to, among other things, which is controversial.

      • Thanks for the reply, David W. It seems to me like the rate of absorbtion should increase noticeably as we move away from 280 ppm. Perhaps there is a good writeup somewhere which explains the various considerations.

    • I do realize that the relationship between atmospheric CO2 concentration and the rate of absorbtion may be non-linear. Thanks.

    • At 9:00 AM on 7 August, David Smith had written of his expectation that

      …as atmospheric CO2 increases, the driving force (X-280, where X is the CO2 ppm in the air) for placing carbon into sinks (the ocean) should increase.

      It’s a reasonable conjecture. Has anyone reading here become aware of work to list the various “carbon sinks” operating in the natural environment, their mechanisms, their effects, and the factors impairing and accelerating their sequestration of atmospheric CO2?

      If there’s no such honest aggregation of this information in the published literature, I’d think that it’d make for a valuable review article.

    • The ice cores don’t support the argument that the recent rise has been due to temperature. It will be interesting, and I would think required, that a suitable explanation for this disagreement between data and hypothesis be resolved.

    • David Smith,
      Tread a little lightly with your statement that “CO2 in the atmosphere has hovered rather tightly around 280 ppm for thousands of years.”
      See this graph based on Vostok ice core analysis. The most recent region of elevated CO2 is the Holocene, starting around 12 Kyr before the present.

    • David,

      It does:
      ftp://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/klim_img/acc_co2_1900_2004.jpg

      The increase in the atmosphere is in a very linear ratio to the accumulated emissions. Thus the sinks also must increase in a very linear ratio to the emissions, as emissions – increase = sinks

  4. Oliver, your understanding is incorrect. All cells exhale CO2 so the vast majority of it comes from plants and microbes, not animals. Plants take CO2 in as food, use it then discharge it as waste. That is the main, miraculous cycle.

    • At 9:38 AM on 7August, David Wojick writes:

      All cells exhale CO2 so the vast majority of it comes from plants and microbes, not animals. Plants take CO2 in as food, use it then discharge it as waste. That is the main, miraculous cycle.

      Er, what the hell?

      You couldn’t even browse for the Wikipedia article on photosynthesis before hitting the “Post Comment” button, David?

      • Rich, maybe you should have read further or paid more attention in high school biology. That sugars created from CO₂ and water during photosynthesis has to be metabolized; used to provide energy for growth. Aerobic metabolization is done in what is called the Krebs or citric acid cycle. Oxygen (yes, plants use some of the photosynthesis waste product, or it respires O₂, especially after dark) is used to, wait for it, oxidize the sugars. The waste products of the Krebs cycle include CO₂.

        cheers,

        gary

      • At 11:43 AM on 7 August, Gary Turner snarks that I

        …should have read further or paid more attention in high school biology. That sugars created from CO₂ and water during photosynthesis has to be metabolized; used to provide energy for growth. Aerobic metabolization is done in what is called the Krebs or citric acid cycle. Oxygen (yes, plants use some of the photosynthesis waste product, or it respires O₂, especially after dark) is used to, wait for it, oxidize the sugars. The waste products of the Krebs cycle include CO₂.

        Yeah, and maybe then I would have graduated college with that degree in Biology, gone on to medical school, and spent the past thirty-odd years as a physician and medical educator.

        Aw, heck. I did all that. So Gary, you’re trying to tell me that “The waste products of the Krebs cycle include CO2” and that’s supposed to constitute a significant contribution to the atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide when most of the CO2 produced in the Krebs cycle by photosynthetic plants oxidizing (to satisfy their energy requirements) a small portion of the carbohydrates they produce – using “some of the photosynthesis waste product” oxygen – and then transpired is relatively reliably taken up again by other photosynthetic biomass, and I’m supposed to apologize to you somehow?

        You got any kind of support for your implied contention that this piddlin’ Krebs cycle source of CO2 in photosynthetic plants is significant in the great “global warming” scheme of things?

        I’d say something about “Don’t tell grandpaw how to suck eggs,” but I became a great-grandfather just a few months ago, and the weight of the decades is just piling on right now….

      • Just trying to keep it simple Rich, middle school or less. If you can do better in 36 words with no technical terms let’s see it (I can use it).

        The big thing I left out is that some of the food is turned into plant body mass, including leaves, which is only returned when it rots. Something like 97% of the dry weight of wood is from CO2. But the point is that the terrestrial biosphere as a CO2 sink is roughly equal to it as a CO2 source, so all that goes in comes back out. That is the terrestrial carbon cycle. It is roughly one half the annual 200 billion ton flux of CO2 and it is mostly from plants and microbes, not animals. Of course the ocean cycle is also largely biotic, as far as I know.

      • Be gentle with David. Remember, he’s a liberal arts major(*).

        * Not a scientist, as he likes to claim.

      • Robert, I do the science of science (but you know that): http://www.osti.gov/innovation/research/diffusion/PopModeling.pdf
        I study the logic of the climate debate, not that you can understand that concept, given your manifest inability to frame a coherent argument. You are a boon to skepticism.

      • David, there’s no such thing as the science of science, as you know.

        The more you try to run away from your liberal arts background, the more dishonest you appear. You have a degree in philosophy. You are not a scientist. ;)

      • Robert –
        You have a degree in philosophy. You are not a scientist.

        A Philosophy/history of Science degree requires more science knowledge than you’ll ever possess. You’re not qualified to judge this matter since you are ignorant of both science and history (and, I suspect, philosohy).

      • “A Philosophy/history of Science degree requires more science knowledge than you’ll ever possess.”

        Said the man without a degree in either science of philosophy. You’re funny!

        you are ignorant of both science and history (and, I suspect, philosohy).

        At least I know how to spell “philosophy.” :)

        Ah, Jimmy. You make it too easy.

      • No, Robert – you know how to type philosophy. Apparently you’re a secretary.

      • Robert –
        A Philosophy/history of Science degree requires more science knowledge than you’ll ever possess.”

        Said the man without a degree in either science of philosophy. You’re funny!

        you are ignorant of both science and history (and, I suspect, philosohy).

        At least I know how to spell “philosophy.”

        None of which in any way negates my statement, makes you any less ignorant or is any indication that you understand “philosophy” (particularly wrt science).

      • Jimmy, more than one empty effort at a “Yeah, but” rebuttal reads as desperation on your part.

        I honestly feel sorry for you. I suggest you drop the subject and give everyone a chance to forget how you got pwnd.

        Also, learn to use spellcheck.

      • But Robert – you’re still ignorant, you still don’t understand the words you use and you’re still not a scientist . And I don’t give a rip whether you like my spelling.

      • Well, sort of. It’s called epistemology. But after having studied philosophy for a couple of years I gave up on it.

      • Rattus –
        after having studied philosophy for a couple of years I gave up on it.

        Good decision. Personally, I prefer history – and science – and a number of other things.

      • I’m with you on that. I am sorry I did not study more history in college. As I have gotten older I find history immensely interesting and science just as much. However, at some point you have to accept what science understands as true. History, much less so as it is often open to interpretation.

        This is why it is important to read a wide variety of historians, both conservative and liberal, to get a good handle on things. You will of course interpret history through you own ideological lens.

        For science, you will eventually understand that there is a consensus (defined as a shared understanding of what we believe is true, which evolves with time as new evidence and ideas are assimilated). Both evolution and cosmology are good examples, and I would say that climate is also a good example. If you have read Weart’s “The Discovery of Global Warming” you would understand that the original impetus for studying climate was to understand what lead to ice ages (and no this wasn’t in the 1970’s). Greater understanding of the system led to the, as I like to call it, the corollary of AGW. AGW is not key to our current understanding of the operation of the climate, it falls out of the current understanding of how the climate works.

      • “For science, you will eventually understand that there is a consensus (defined as a shared understanding of what we believe is true, which evolves with time as new evidence and ideas are assimilated).”

        But, it is significantly a “punk eek” type of evolution, as the consensus piles up unresolved discrepancies which lead to sudden alterations in the consensus.

      • Rattus –
        I am sorry I did not study more history in college. As I have gotten older I find history immensely interesting and science just as much.

        I had zero history except for self-education until I was beyond the half-century mark. After that I was introduced to Southwestern archaeology, which then led to a continuous string of history, religion, science, archaeology and other liberal arts courses. Only during those times when I’ve spent 5 or 6 months on a long trail have I not been studying those subjects. It’s a different world from NASA – and can be just as interesting if not nearly as technical.

        As for science, I spent most of 40+ years working with atmospheric scientists – most of whom disbelieved the AGW hypothesis as well as the Ice Age scare of the 70’s (yes, it was real but they didn’t take it too seriously). I taught them how to get the most out of the satellite science instruments – among other things. And they taught me what science is – and what it isn’t as well as more than a bit about atmospheric and solar physics.

        AGW is not key to our current understanding of the operation of the climate, it falls out of the current understanding of how the climate works.

        Unfortunately, the science was corrupted by politics – and by the new paradigm of post-normal science. And by bad science – or worse, non-science. This thread is a prime example. We’ve both watched (if you’ve been looking) the attempt to smear Salby and to destroy his arguments – before his arguments are even known, before the paper has been published. And yes – I know that most of those people are NOT scientists. But we also both know that some of them are – or are at least supposed to be – and are practicing anti-science. Or perhaps “post-normal” science. In any case, it’s been entertaining and at the same time, a disgusting spectacle and an example of AGW politics.

        No – I don’t expect agreement. This is just the first real break I’ve had today and I felt like venting a little.

      • Robert, do you agree that the social sciences are sciences? (I am not claiming that the science of science is a physical science.) If so then there is no reason they can’t be applied to study science, as opposed to other human activities. In the paper I posted we use a disease model to study the spread of new ideas in emerging fields. Our data is the number of publications in the field. This is what is called scientometrics, a field which really emerged in the 1950s. How is it not science?

        My particular specialty is the logic of complex issues, dating from certain discoveries I made in 1973, regarding the network structure of the logic. If you map what is said when people argue, as here on this blog, you find a certain structure (I call it an issue tree). This is an empirical fact about discourse. Again, how is this not science?

        Human behavior, including scientific discourse, exists in the world. It is therefore open to scientific analysis. That is what I do.

      • Much noise about “who’s a scientist” and who’s a liberal arts weenie.

        Can anyone reading here say that Karl Popper – emphatically “not a scientist” – doesn’t stand as a towering figure in determining the way we “do” science today?

        Hasn’t anybody yet had the sense even to hit Wiki-bloody-pedia on this subject?

      • ThinkingScientist

        I agree with the sentiments about Karl Popper bein very important in describing the scientific process.

        I would also add that Karl Popper uses the concept of falsification as an important distinguishing characteristic between science and belief. A scientific hypothesis can be falsified, a belief cannot be.

        One of the great difficulties I have with the hypothesis of AGW is that there does not appear to be any way to falsify the theory except by waiting for about 50 – 100 years.

      • At 7:48 PM on 8 August, ThinkingScientist remarks that:

        One of the great difficulties I have with the hypothesis of AGW is that there does not appear to be any way to falsify the theory except by waiting for about 50 – 100 years.

        Worse than that – much worse – is that the AGW tub-thumpers are peddling their “theory” with hysterical “We’re All Gonna Die!” alarmism, insisting not only that their “research” be taxpayer-funded to the tune of billions upon billions of currency units but also that the reduction of “carbon pollution” be enforced via draconian statutes and regulations imposing even more massive costs (both direct material and opportunity costs) upon the economies of the entire world.

        And they want this done right now, not by way of “waiting for about 50 – 100 years” to discern whether or not their preposterous conjecture actually reflects physical reality.

        I’ve gotten sufficiently irked that instead of following my Sicilian inclinations and making of them a quick and relatively painless end (involving shovels and quicklime), I’m willing to unleash the lawyers on them.

        Can you say “joint and several liability”? How about “compensatory and punitive damages”?

      • Richard S Courtney

        ThinkingScientist:

        You say;
        “One of the great difficulties I have with the hypothesis of AGW is that there does not appear to be any way to falsify the theory except by waiting for about 50 – 100 years.”

        But that does not make the AGW-hypothesis unscientific; e.g. think Halley and comet.

        Richard

      • Confronted by ThinkingScientist‘s observation that “there does not appear to be any way to falsify the [conjecture of AGW] except by waiting for about 50 – 100 years,” at 8:28 AM on 8 August Richard S Courtney responds:

        But that does not make the AGW-hypothesis unscientific; e.g. think Halley and comet.

        Nope. It’s the AGW fraudsters’ excuse for methodology that makes their conjecture (it has never risen to the level of “hypothesis,” and never will) “unscientific.”

        Their policy recommendations, on the other hand, are and have always been purest quackery.

        “Anthropogenic Global Warming is a crippled conjecture, doomed just by these principles of science never to advance to a hypothesis. Its fate would be sealed by a minimally scientifically literate public.” – Jeff Glassman

      • Richard S Courtney

        Rich Matarese:

        For clarity, I state that I agree all you say.

        My point was that – in the light of what you say and more – presentation of the untrue assertion is damaging to the case you put.

        Richard

      • At 9:16 AM on 8 August, Richard S Courtney responds to my earlier post with:

        For clarity, I state that I agree all you say.

        My point was that – in the light of what you say and more – presentation of the untrue assertion is damaging to the case you put.

        Er, just what the heck is “the untrue assertion” alleged to be “damaging to the case [I] put“?

        Is there some argument to be made that the policy recommendations of the AGW alarmists are not purest quackery?

      • Paging Dr. M, STAT: There’s an acute and emerging beef with the AFP in the ER.
        ==============

      • And, again…

        Bart | August 8, 2011 at 2:59 pm | Reply

        What’s up with this wonky reply thingy? I post at the end, and it pops up above the post I was referring to. Reposting…

        “Bart | August 8, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Reply

        izen | August 8, 2011 at 11:18 am | Reply

        “While his contribution was of great interest to philosophers and the liberal arts crowd it really didn’t do much for the practical scientists.”

        I.e., it gets in their way when they already know the answer they want.”

      • Vaughan Pratt | August 8, 2011 at 2:40 pm | Reply

        “Viewed statically (climate as determined by temperature) our contribution is small. Viewed dynamically … The only components of the carbon cycle known to be changing at anything like this rate are the components obtained from splitting our annual CO2 emission into its sinks of land, sea, and sky.”

        What you are positing is that there is a pure integration without dynamic feedback. But, this is definitely untrue. What is believed is that the feedback is “small”, so the system is acting like a pure integrator over the relevant time span. However, pure integrators with random inputs (which always exist) beget wide ranging random walks, which is in conflict with the narrative of the ice core data reflecting a tightly regulated equilibrium level of ~280 ppmv.

      • I have some warm feelings for Karl Popper. Smart guy, great philosopher (and he never claimed to be anything else).

        “The Open Society and Its Enemies” sits on my shelf in three dog-eared volumes.

        Senator, David Wojick is no Karl Popper.

      • “The Open Society and Its Enemies” sits on my shelf in three dog-eared volumes.

        It’s a pity you never learned anything from them

      • Robert, there is only one Karl Popper. My claim to fame is having discovered the hidden structure of expressed thought (writing and speaking) or, in simple terms, how sentences fit together. This is science, Logic to be precise, not philosophy.

        However, this discovery grew out of my work on a fundamental problem raised by Thomas Kuhn. (I am a Kuhnian, not a Popperian.) This problem is why proponents of different paradigms cannot seem to come to grips with their differences? The climate debate is a perfect example of this “talking past” that Kuhn noted as a common feature of science, so I have studied the debate for two decades. I think I understand the climate debate better than anyone, not because I know more about climate but because I know more about the logic of complex issues. The debate is real, everything follows from that. The truth is winning.

      • Richard S Courtney

        David:

        I fully understand your reaction to the troll posting under the name of ‘Robert’.

        I write to suggest that it is best to ignore him/her/they. I was stalked by a similar troll on this blog, and when I responded other trolls joined in with a ‘feeding frenzy’. I coped for some time but the end result was that I withdrew from here because the attacks on me were disrupting the blog. (Very recently I returned when my views were being reported in the ‘carbon cycle thread’ so I thought I needed to present my views personally.)

        I strongly suspect that the same tactic is being applied to you. This can only indicate that your contributions here are seen as so effective by the trolls that they feel a need to ‘drive you out’.

        The Robert character is an obvious troll and his/her/their attempts to demean you only demean him/her/them.

        You have no need to justify yourself: your record and your contributions here do that for you.

        Richard

      • John Whitman

        Richard and David,

        What you suggest might be a troll I call an AAAA . Where AAAA means Auto-Aggressive Anonymous Authoritarian.

        Many strategies exist to minimalize them disrupting decent discourse. Some strategies are extremely effective others merely gratifying for us.

        I suppose we could shorten my AAAA label to A^4 or 4As. But we shouldn’t use A4s because Audi could sue us for trademark violation. :^)

        Be of good cheer.

        John

      • Agreed. He’s not convincing anyone here.

      • My claim to fame is having discovered the hidden structure of expressed thought (writing and speaking) or, in simple terms, how sentences fit together. This is science, Logic to be precise, not philosophy.

        Sorry, David, no. Your claim to fame is a ridiculous article you penned for the heritage foundation in 2005 arguing there had been no increase in ocean heat content, despite massive amounts of evidence to the contrary.

        You are also famous as a paid shill for oil and gas interests:

        David E. Wojick is a well-known and vocal climate change “skeptic”, with strong links to the coal industry and a now-defunct coal industry front group called the Greening Earth Society.

        http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=David_E._Wojick

        You are certainly famous over at ExxonSecrets, again for paid climate denial.

        Your PhD thesis, which you reference in such gaudy terms above, was accepted in 1979 has been cited a total of nineteen times. Roughly once every year and a half. If that’s your claim to fame, I’d suggest to you your claim has been jumped.

      • Robert –
        Your claim to fame is a ridiculous article you penned for the heritage foundation in 2005

        You are also famous as a paid shill for oil and gas interests:

        Your PhD thesis,

        Well, at least David Wojick has done something with his life which is apparently more than you have.

        He’s published, are you?
        He’s famous, are you?
        He has a PhD, do you?

        And then there’s your claim that it’s the quality of ideas, not the person who presents them that matters. Or have you forgotten that so soon?

        Your smear job is nasty, but also stupid and pathetic. Yup – not Barney Fife, just the toothless chihuahua.

      • Jimmy — you learn how to spell “philosophy” yet?

      • Robert the toothless chihuahua strikes again. :-)

        Have you learned the meaning of “xenos” yet? Have you learned ANYTHING about history? When will you learn the meaning of “philosophy”? When will you learn the basics of dendrochronology? When….. no, never mind – we’ve already overloaded your little brain.

      • Robert, between 1966 and 2004 I analyzed and tracked the climate debate for Electricity Daily and several other publications, writing hundreds of articles about the great green menace. I also did a dozen or so major studies for the coal and oil industries. They, unlike rabid CAGW, provide an invaluable service, because our civilization is still based on fire. The coal burners are my heroes and I am proud of my advocacy work, especially as I am winning and you are losing. My understanding is that you work for Greenpeace Germany, which last I knew had a budget of $40 million a year, far more than Exxon ever spent all told. Money for nothing.

        But your persistent and futile attempts at character assassination have nothing to do with this thread, do they? Except they illustrate quite vividly how you folks work, which is why you are losing. You are a great asset to my cause, which is why I keep you going. You do not grasp that I am playing you, with great pleasure I may add..

      • “Robert, between 1966 and 2004 I analyzed and tracked . . .”

        And so the excuses and rationalizations continue. But at the end of this rambling display of insecurity, we will still be left with these undoubted facts:
        1. You are not a scientist.
        2. You have repeatedly lied and claimed you were.

        With that understanding, let’s see how you get on.

        I also did a dozen or so major studies for the coal and oil industries.

        Yep, I’m sure you did.

        “our civilization is still based on fire. The coal burners are my heroes . . .”

        This is all exactly in line with what I’ve said previously: you’re an industry shill, you’ve take large amounts of money from them, and you misrepresent yourself as a scientist in order to more effectively shill for their interests.

        I appreciate your being big enough to admit I was right. It’s always better to know where someone is coming from, and you admitting you worship coal tells us a lot more about your perspective than your bogus claim to scientific expertise.

      • Robert–what is a scientist per your defination? Can you describe the differences between scientists and engineers? (other than we get specific creditials)

      • ThinkingScientist

        I replied to this, but seemed to have ended up with my answer threading much higher up in the blog. Check up to my post at 9.33 am if you are interested

      • @- Rich Matarese | August 8, 2011 at 7:37 am | Reply
        “Can anyone reading here say that Karl Popper – emphatically “not a scientist” – doesn’t stand as a towering figure in determining the way we “do” science today? ”

        Yes.
        While his contribution was of great interest to philosophers and the liberal arts crowd it really didn’t do much for the practical scientists.
        For a start it turns out to be extremely difficult and rare that a definitive experiment can explicitly falsify a hypothesis. Experimental results are usually partial, open to multiple interpritation and can at best form PART of a consilience of evidence. Popper’s idealized falsification criterion of epistemology may look good as a abstract concept of science, but fails dismally in the real world.

        Posted this once but its appeared way back in the thread before the post it was a reply too…..

      • Popper’s work will contribute much more in the future. His work and ideas are waiting for the time to come.

      • I am a practicing scientist and always have a pro-Popper bias. I normally attempt my experimental design so that it tests a particular hypothesis.
        Very often,

        “Experimental results are usually partial, open to multiple interpritation and can at best form PART of a consilience of evidence”

        is an example of poor experimental design.

      • science is a behavior, not a subject matter. A person who behaves scientifically is a scientist. A person who behaves scientifically when the subject matter is biology, is a biological scientist. A person who behaves scientifically when the subject matter is climate, is a climate scientist.
        Once you understand that science is a certain kind of behavior you’ll understand that much of what we do is sciencing. And yes, its possible for someone with a degree in the sciences who gets paid to engage in scientific behavior, to act unscientifically.

      • Vaughan Pratt

        Perhaps he browsed the Wikipedia article
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carbon_cycle
        on the carbon cycle instead. This shows animals producing 1.6 GtC while plants take up 121.3 GtC and return 60 GtC unused. The remaining 61.3 GtC is presumably used in photosynthesis (for a carbon-use efficiency of around 50%), of which around 1 GtC seems to be taken by animals (eaten?) while 60 GtC makes its way into the soil from where it finds its way back into the atmosphere via microbes, fires, etc.

        But even if these numbers and my interpretations of them are all off by a factor of two, it would still be the case that “the vast majority of CO2 comes from plants and microbes, not animals.”

    • 1) What percentage comes from humans and animals?

      2) What percentage of plant CO2 comes from agricultural plants?

      • Bruce

        1) What percentage comes from humans and animals?
        2) What percentage of plant CO2 comes from agricultural plants?

        Dr. Selby estimates the carbon cycle at:
        8 GtC/year from human sources
        90 GtC/year from ocean
        60 GtC/year from land

        Another estimate puts the total annual carbon flux at 169 GtC
        http://folk.uio.no/tomvs/esef/np-m-119.pdf

        Other estimates put it much higher than this.

        Human respiration emits
        360 l/day per person on average
        with a human population of 6.9 billion, this equals 0.5 GtC/year

        Other human activities (mainly from industrialization) emit 30 GtCO2 per year = 8 GtC

        All animal respiration (land and sea) plus plant decay emits between 60 GtC and 200 GtC (depending on whose estimate you believe).

        Known above-ground volcanoes emit around 0.3 GtC per year on average (as CO2), but underwater volcanoes and fissures in the Earth’s crust are estimated by some accounts (Plimer) to amount to 20 to 40 times this amount (equaling human emissions).

        All photosynthesis (land and sea) absorbs between 62 GtC and 220 GtC (again depending on whose estimate you believe), with terrestrial plants accounting for roughly 25-60 Gt of the total.

        Crops for human consumption are estimated to absorb around 0.5 GtC/year, most of which is then released to the atmosphere by human respiration, so there is no net absorption or emission.

        It appears to me that we have a fair estimate of the human part of the cycle, but this only represents 2 to 3% of the total flux.

        The data above are from various sources, but maybe someone else here has a better idea of what the various components really are.

        Max

      • “Crops for human consumption are estimated to absorb around 0.5 GtC/year, most of which is then released to the atmosphere by human respiration, so there is no net absorption or emission.”

        Not sure if that can be correct.

        “Approximately 50 percent of the weight of the total corn plant is residue, consisting of stalk, leaf, cob and husk.”

        http://ohioline.osu.edu/agf-fact/0003.html

        And since corn is a C4 metabolism plant that absorbs more C13, that would definitely affect the C12/C13 balance depending on what was done with the residue.

      • Bruce

        Yeah. But what happens to the corn stalk? It either gets burned or decays – in either case going back into the atmosphere as CO2.

        Same is true for other crops.

        So no net change.

        Max

      • Well some portion is sequestered in the soil for some longer period of time.

      • Well some portion is sequestered in the soil for a longer period of time.

      • Vaughan Pratt

        It appears to me that we have a fair estimate of the human part of the cycle, but this only represents 2 to 3% of the total flux.

        Viewed statically (climate as determined by temperature) our contribution is small. Viewed dynamically (climate change as the derivative of temperature with respect to time) our contribution is rising by 0.4 GtC per decade today, and is likely to be rising by 0.8 GtC per decade by 2040 (so even the second derivative is high and unrelenting). The only components of the carbon cycle known to be changing at anything like this rate are the components obtained from splitting our annual CO2 emission into its sinks of land, sea, and sky.

        Granted that anthropogenic CO2 is a very minor part of climate, but it does not follow that it is therefore a minor part of climate change. It would appear to be the main driver of change.

      • If wishes were horses
        Pratt’s cart’s before it.
        ===========

      • Viewed statically (climate as determined by temperature) our contribution is small.

        It’s kind of you to give such a detailed explanation, but the whole concept of “It’s a small proportion and therefore not important” is ridiculous and about as anti-scientific an attitude that one could take. It’s just not relevant.

        For example: an 80kg adult has about 160g of potassium in their body (0.2% of the total mass — it already seems unimportant!). Yet a lethal dose of potassium IV — so reliably lethal it is used in executions — is 4g (2.5% of the amount in your body, 0.005% of your total mass).

        So, detail-wise, your explanation is beautiful, but big-picture wise, the point can be made even more simply: don’t compare the magnitude of things that aren’t comparable to one another. You’ll just confuse yourself.

      • Yes, the analogy with climate is illustrative when one considers the difference between the intra, and extra, cellular potassium. Thanks.
        ==================

      • That’s a frightening thought, Robert, but I think I see what you mean. We have about 70 million Gtes of this dangerous potassium already sunk in the form of potassium rocks, but which has cycled through the atmosphere over geological time, and, in the “active” inventory or the bloodstream of the planet, as your insight has revealed, we have about 40,000 Gte of potassium in the oceans, 2000 Gtes in land surface, 600 Gtes in biomass and 800 Gtes in the atmosphere. These reservoirs are exchanging potassium at around 200 Gtes per year. It’s pretty obvious that adding 9 Gtes is a lethal injection. Thank you for the insight.

      • I would trust Illustrator Paul_K with a potassium injection, but I wouldn’t trust Robert with the rhetoric.
        ==================

      • Kim,
        Thank you for your vote of confidence, but I suspect it is misplaced. Since I evidently cannot distinguish between potassium and carbon, I am likely to be injecting you with a graphite pencil.

        Dr Curry,
        Thank you for running this post. I have learned a lot that I did not know before about the carbon cycle. I still have no idea whether Dr Salby is right or wrong in his assertions, but I am content to wait for his paper on the subject before trying to draw any further conclusions.

      • I still have no idea whether Dr Salby is right or wrong in his assertions,

        It is entirely possible that Dr. Salby’s research will contribute to our understanding of the carbon cycle.

        It is possible but wildly unlikely that he will prove correct in attributing the recent CO2 rise to non-human sources.

        But if he felt ready to give a talk on the matter, it is mysterious — and not confidence-inspiring — that he does not feel ready to release his slides.

      • So it was you who left that mark in Fourth grade!
        ================

      • Robert, that only works when the potassium is issued with an iv injection.

        We can use logic and information theory to make some very simple stability estimates.
        Any event we observe is likey to be a likey event in the observation temporal window.
        If human life span was 24 hours, rain, dawn and dusk would come as a hell of a surprise
        If human life span was 1 year, rain, dawn and dusk would not be shocking, but snow would be a surprise.
        If human life span was 100 years, seasons would be natural, but comets would be a surprise.
        If human life span was 1000 years, cometary cycles would be natural, but meteor impacts would be a surprise.
        If human life span was 10,000 years, meteor impacts would be natural, but little ice ages and temperature optima would be a surprise.
        If human life span was 100,000 years, ice ages would be natural, but large animal evolution would be a surprise.
        If human life span was 1,000,000 years, ice ages would be natural, but large animal evolution would be a surprise.
        If human life span was 10,000,000 years, evolution would be natural, but large extinction events would be a surprise.

        Information theory tells you that all apparently stable apparently complex systems you observe are likely to be stable complex systems. Unstable systems will collapse. Systems that lack elasticity will shatter when struck. The climate is struck all the time, it bounces.
        My ancestors emerged in modern day form 200,000 years ago, they survived, prospered and learned, dispute all disasters, the impacts, the ice ages, the nearby nova’s, the earthquakes, the vulcanos and survive they did with fire, wood, bone, flint, shells and hides.
        This panic about a 39% increase in atmospheric carbon is bollocks.
        This is application of resources is criminal, and I mean that. If the money wasted on the AGW shysters was spent in real research, in medicine or in third world food crop development or oceanography or space research I wouldn’t mind.

      • Try convincing me that the carbon flux for non human causes is identical to the year before … no matter whether we are in the LIA or MWP or in between.

      • Vaughan- you wrote– “The only components of the carbon cycle known to be changing at anything like this rate are the components obtained from splitting our annual CO2 emission into its sinks of land, sea, and sky.”

        I do not believe that is an accurate statement.

        We know of areas in the natural system where the changes in CO2 emissions are occuring at a rate greater than the human rate is increasing. We do not know what percentage of the natural environment is increasing emissions, or even how much or where absorbtion rates change.

      • This got posted in the wrong place initially.

        Vaughan- you wrote– “The only components of the carbon cycle known to be changing at anything like this rate are the components obtained from splitting our annual CO2 emission into its sinks of land, sea, and sky.”

        I do not believe that is an accurate statement.

        We know of areas in the natural system where the changes in CO2 emissions are occuring at a rate greater than the human rate is increasing. We do not know what percentage of the natural environment is increasing emissions, or even how much or where absorbtion rates change.

  5. If the gain/ loss of atmospheric CO2 is so strongly determined by changes in natural sources/sinks, which are controlled by climatic factors (temperature, soil moisture…), then CO2 can’t have a significant warming effect.

    • Theo Goodwin

      Maybe you go too far in saying “can’t have a significant warming effect.” However, your point is one that must be taken seriously. The behavior of sinks must be taken into account when by any science that hopes to explain manmade global warming. The behaviors of these sinks, like all forcings, including cloud behavior, have their effects as something additional to whatever may be explained by Arrhenius’ hypotheses.

      Proponents of CAGW are beginning to talk about the behaviors of sinks. Apparently, they are doing so because they need them to explain the lack of warming since 1998. They are talking about the effects of aerosols for the same reason. This is a huge shift in the position of proponents of CAGW. Using forcings to explain changes in global temperature requires physical hypotheses about the humanly observable natural processes that make up the behavior of sinks, aerosols, cloud behavior, and anything else that does not follow deductively from Arrhenius’ physical hypotheses. Inevitably, the “science” of CAGW will evolve away from a focus almost entirely on computer models to a focus on the humanly observable natural environment. The result should be something like Roger Pielke Sr’s take on AGW.

      • Theo,

        I tried very hard not to go to far. I am glad that proponents of (C)CO2GW are catching up, but a part of me is upset that it took so long. They spent so much money on it and it was completely unecessary. I will stop now.

  6. “David Smith

    My understanding is that CO2 in the atmosphere has hovered rather tightly around 280 ppm for thousands of years. Let’s call that an equilibrium value, more or less”

    Stop right there.
    Equilibrium has an absolute meaning, it describes a specific type of isolated system where there is no energy flux through the system.
    The Earth which is bathed with energy and emits energy into space is a steady state system, moreover, as the energy the Earth emits is lost to the Earth forever, the system is drive by irreversible thermodynamics.
    O.K. Do you have it now. NOT Equilibrium. You cannot use Equilibrium thermodynamics to describe the system, nor are Equilibrium thermodynamics a good approximation.

    Now fluxes and sinks are very different, a flux describes vectorial movement between reservoirs and sink and a sink describes a thermodynamically irreversible reservoir, a hole.

    Now a bog simple description of the carbon cycle has three reservoirs, which are kinetically connected, and has an absolute, variable, influx and has an absolute, probably near invariant efflux into a sink.

    The three reservoirs are Atmospheric reservoir; CO2; about 75*10^10 ton carbon, Aquatic reservoir; CO2/carbonates; about 38*10^12 ton carbon and finally the biotic reservoir; about 14*10^10 ton carbon (possibly much bigger).
    So the ratios of the three reservoirs Atomos:Aqua:Biotic; are 1:50:19.

    Mineralization of carbon, mineral precipitation or burial of biotic matter, is the SINK. All carbon that is permanently trapped ( in million yr terms).

    Vulcanism is the input into the system, tectonic activity causes mineralized carbon to be released into the atmosphere/oceans as CO2.

    Now, the opening statement:

    “280 ppm for thousands of years”

    During that time vulcanic action acted as a primary input into the system.
    This input rate is highly variable during geological time.
    During that time mineralization acted as a primary output from the system.
    This ‘sink’ rate is ‘unknown’ during geological time, as it derives from a biotic component (mineralization of carbon in the form of aquatic/terrestrial oil/coal formation depositions, chalk formation) and chemical processes (carbonated precipitation). .

    If during the course of ‘thousands of years” the atmospheric carbon pool remained at “280 ppm” then we are in a position to make a few kinetic assumptions.
    Atmospheric CO2 is influx/efflux into either/both aquatic/biotic reservoirs is both very rapid and highly buffered.
    In times where volcanic release of CO2 is high, CO2 is rapidly removed from the atmosphere.In times where volcanic release of CO2 is low, CO2 is rapidly placed into the atmosphere.

    End part 1

    • “So the ratios of the three reservoirs Atomos:Aqua:Biotic; are 1:50:19.”
      It seems to me that your quoted number for biotic is 10x too low, and the ratio 10x too high. Should be 1:50:1.9.

      But the 50 is subject to some very long timescales. Still, I think it’s useful arithmetic to bear in mind.

    • Doc, thank you for your input. It’s good meat on which to chew.

  7. We also know what the residence time of CO2 in the atmosphere is. The 14CO2 injected into the atmosphere by H-bomb tests shows that the EFFLUX of CO2 from this reservoir has a half time of about a decade.
    The line shape is pretty close to first order and its end point is nearing its pre-atomic age starting point.

    Now imagine we have a simple system. Two water containing reservoirs that are connected by a twin-turbine pump, RAtmos and RAq. We d not know the rate at which water is transferred between the two reservoirs, nor do we know the relative sizes of the reservoirs, The RAtmos:RAq.ratio could be 1000:1 or 1:1000, for instance.

    So we monitor RAtmos and look at the levels of deuterium, and find that the [D] is 100 units/ml.
    We then explode a small neutron bomb over our lake and increase the levels of [D], then monitor the levels of deuterium in RAtmos; red line

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e2/Radiocarbon_bomb_spike.svg

    Monitoring the red line we seen that it jumped to 160 units/ml after our bomb, from 100, and then falls as water is transferred between RAtmos and RAq.
    The decay curve gives us a number of pieces of information.
    We can directly measure the exchange rates, the efflux and influx, from RAtmos and RAq.
    The end point tells us what the relative sizes of the reservoirs is.

    If RAtmos is approx50 times larger than RAq.then the [D] will spike up and then drop about 2%.

    If RAtmos is approx50 times smaller than RAq.then the [D] will spike up and then drop by about 98%.

    The end point in the figure shows that the ratio of RAtmos:RAq.is 1:50 or so.

    Now back to real life, but ignoring biotica.
    We exploded bombs in the atmosphere and can see the levels of 14C in the atmosphere.
    We also burnt fossil fuels and added CO2 to the atmosphere.

    During two 14C turnovers, 1965,160pMC/%, 1980, 130pMC/% and 1995, 115pMC/% we can see that the exchange rate from the atmosphere was about a decade.

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/51/Mauna_Loa_Carbon_Dioxide-en.svg

    During two 14C turnovers Keeling also gives us; 1965,[CO2] 320 ppm, 1980, [CO2] 338 ppm and 1995, [CO2] 355 ppm.

    So we changed the size by 10%, during the two half-lives of total atmospheric CO2, but we did not distort the line-shape of the 14CO2 curve.

    Now this is the most important point. There is no evidence that we changes the order of the atmospheric CO2 influx or efflux. This means that our non-atmospheric reservoirs have not filled-up, they are not being constrained by changes in the total levels of carbon.

    There was also the possibility that the RAq was saturated; that is the RAq was not a lake that could change its volume, but a completely sealed tank of finite size.
    If RAq is of finite size, than adding water to RAtmos would increase the size of RAtmos and not RAq. However, we know when we did a ‘deuterium’ experiment that we not only added deuterium but a whole mass of water as well (Keeling). Despite adding water to RAtmos we did not change the decay profile, so the actual non-atmospheric carbon reservoirs are not, at the moment at least, saturated.

    What is happening is this. The rate at which we add CO2 to the atmosphere perturbs the steady state distribution of CO2 between the biotic/aquatic carbon reservoirs. The true steady state distribution of introduced CO2 would be in the order of 2% in the atmosphere, with 98% distributed elsewhere. A CO2 atmospheric spike ah a decay profile of 10 years or so. However, we are living through a period where we are continually introducing CO2.

    So where does it go?

    End Part 2

    • Originally posted in the wrong spot-

      I would be interested in the substantiation of your conclusion: “14CO2 injected into the atmosphere by H-bomb tests shows that the EFFLUX of CO2 from this reservoir has a half time of about a decade.”
      Do you know how the following concerns I read about were dealt with? The nuclear testing (and to a lesser degree other human actions) destabilized the atmospheric ratio of C14 in unpredictable manners –it isn’t distributed uniformly, the amount in specific areas isn’t constant- Both the volumes created by different nuclear tests were different and there is potential that the half life’s of the C14 is not uniform from different explosions.

    • DocMartyn,

      Again and again, the same mistake is made: theh 5 years residence time is the average time that a CO2 molecule (whatever its origin) resides in the atmosphere, before being exchanged by a CO2 molecule from the oceans or vegetation or whatever. It is the exchange rate, based on the throughput: inputs (or outputs) / mass in the atmosphere.
      The throughput roughly is 150 GtC/year on a total of 800 GtC in the atmosphere, thus the exchange rate is about 20% per year.

      That doesn’t give us a clue of what happens if we inject an extra amount of CO2 (whatever its source: humans, volcanoes, forets fires,…) in the atmosphere. If the atmosphere was in equilibrium, the extra CO2 would increase the outputs and decrease some inputs (oceans), thus creating an extra sink. How much the extra sink is, is exactly known: around 4 GtC/year at the current 110 ppmv (232 GtC) difference with the temperature controlled setpoint. Thus the sink rate is only 4/232 or rougly 2% of the excess amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. To reduce halve of the extra amount, we need some 30 years, if the sink rate would remain the same, but as the sink rate depends of the (now decreasing) difference between excess and setpoint, it will take much longer.

      • Ferdinand Engelbeen, instead of the ‘Again and again, the same mistake is made’ bullshit. State very simply what I have presented is wrong.

        ‘. If the atmosphere was in equilibrium, ‘

        I was at pains to explain that we are dealing with a steady state and not an equilibrium. Can you still not grasp this point?

        THE ATMOSPHERE IS NOT AN EQUILIBRIUM SYSTEM; IT IS A STEADY STATE.

        Do I need to do it in bold Ferdinand ?

        ‘That doesn’t give us a clue of what happens if we inject an extra amount of CO2 (whatever its source: humans, volcanoes, forets fires,…) in the atmosphere.

        O.K. Ferd, riddle me this. We know that disappearance of 14C signal remain first-order from 1965,and 1995, with a t1/2 of about a decade..

        ‘The throughput roughly is 150 GtC/year on a total of 800 GtC in the atmosphere, thus the exchange rate is about 20% per year.”

        So we agree! Whoopie doo.

        Now, not only is there an exchange, but we can work out the relative size of the reservoirs atmospheric vs.aquatic and biotic

        We know that the end point of the 14C elev is between 1-3% of the starting point, so the ratio of the atmospheric reservoir is in the order of 1/50 RAPIDLY exchanging aquatic and biotic reservoirs

        NOW:- between 1965 and 1980 half of the TOTAL atmospheric CO2 exchanged with aquatic/biotic phases, even though ,[CO2] rose from 320 to 338 ppm and from 1985 to 1995 half of the TOTAL atmospheric CO2 exchanged with aquatic/biotic phases, even as [CO2] increased from 338 to 355 ppm.
        In the 30 years from 1965 to 1995 CO2 rose by 11% in the atmosphere; however, THE EFFLUX FROM THE ATMOSPHERE ALSO INCREASED BY 11%.
        If the efllux rate of CO2 had remained constant, then as the fraction of 14C dropped by dilution, the rate it exited from the atmosphere would fall.

        Now Ferdinand, instead of pulling magic numbers from you bottom, try to do a little thinking and analysis.
        Let us have no appeals to authority. Also, when you use the word ‘sink’ in a kinetic sense, please learn what it means.
        A sink is a reservoir of infinite size that has a influx rate, but no efflux rate.
        On uses it in the same manner as the term, heat-sink. It has the property of dragging a system in one direction.
        The ocean is not a ‘sink’ with respect to the atmosphere.Coal is an atmospheric sink, chalk is an atmospheric sink, oil is an atmospheric sink and even your dental enamel is an atmospheric carbon sink. The ocean is not, as it is in a dynamic steady state with the atmosphere.

      • Ferdinand Engelbeen

        DocMartyn,

        For me, a dynamic equilibrium and steady state are synonyms. thus there we don’t differ in opinion.

        But the main problem is that the 14C spike doesn’t show the decay time of an excess amount of CO2, but largely responses to other items, including a part of the throughput:
        – the dilution of the 14C/12C ratio by the continuous addition of 14C free fossil fuel CO2 (3% per year and increasing).
        – the dilution by the continuous addition of CO2 itself from fossil fuel use (+30% since 1960)
        – the exchange with the deep oceans: what goes in has the current 14C spike, what comes out still is pre-bomb and hundreds of years older (raw estimate, some 40 GtC/year throughput).

        The rest are word games…

      • “Ferdinand Engelbeen | August 11, 2011 at 11:39 am | Reply
        DocMartyn,
        For me, a dynamic equilibrium and steady state are synonyms. thus there we don’t differ in opinion”

        A dynamic equilibrium describe a system where there is no change in the energy in the system; there is an exchange matter or energy between two or more phases, but there is not energy entering or leaving the system.

        In a steady state there is a continuous influx and efflux of matter or energy between two or more phases,

        In the case of CO2, we cannot describe the system, in any reasonable timescale, as being a dynamic equilibrium. CO2/CH4 is always being added to the system. If the system was a ‘dynamic equilibrium’, then in geological time the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere/oceans would rise.
        Current estimates are about 0.3 Gigatons/year into a pre-industial pool of atmospheric CO2 550Gt.

        This is the number that realclimate state
        http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2011/08/volcanic-vs-anthropogenic-co2/

        So, every 1,800 years the amount of carbon in you ‘dynamic equilibrium’ would cause the doubling of atmospheric CO2. If this would allow redistribution between air/ocean, then we would have to wait only 90,000 years for total ocean and atmospheric CO2 to double.

        Now we can examine the climate record and not note the effects of 0.3Gt per year into the system.

        NOW DO YOU UNDERSTAND?

        THERE IS AN INPUT INTO THE SYSTEM. THERE MUST THEREFORE BE AN EFFLUX FROM THE SYSTEM.

        We know that CO2 has been between 200 and 300 ppm for >100,00.

        We know that it FELL between 120,000 and 20,000 BC, even though about 0.3Gt per year CO2 was being added to the system.

        At steady state, influx must equal efflux. So in 200 AD CO2 came into the atmosphere. about 0.3Gt per year. in 1,100 AD CO2 came into the atmosphere. about 0.3Gt per year and in 2,000 AD CO2 came into the atmosphere. about 0.3Gt per year.

        On average the influx rate is 0.3Gt per year. On average the efflux rate must be 0.3Gt per year.

        However, the efflux rate CANNOT be zero order. The mineralization sinks, the efflux of carbon from the atmosphere, aquatic and biotic reservoirs must have an order of 1 or more.
        At 280 ppm [CO2] the efflux rate was 0.3Gt per year.
        What it is now is the question we have to ask. If the efflux is mostly chemical, I would expect the rate to be between 1.4 and 2 times 0.3Gt per year. If it is mostly biotic, much more likely, and we are in the 2-5 times range.

      • Um, RC as a source? Has their information been confirmed by a non-zealot?

      • Ferdinand Engelbeen

        Again:

        For me, a dynamic equilibrium and steady state are synonyms. thus there we don’t differ in opinion.

        What can I say more than that? A dynamic equilibrium for me means that the input flows and output flows are equal and that any disturbance (like volcanic eruptions) is countered by a change in the output flows. So there we don’t differ in opinion, only it seems that there is some confusion in what the definitions mean.

        A continuous emission of some 0.3 GtC extra CO2 from volcanoes would increase the atmospheric CO2 level until the output flows increases with the same amount as the extra input. At the current 100 ppmv difference level with the steady state level, we see an input-output difference of about 4 GtC/yr. Thus a 0.3 GtC/yr extra input gives an increase of about 8 ppmv on relative short (decades) periods. If long term processes get this further down remains to be seen.

      • You are almost there Ferdinand, let us do some very simple numbers.

        At t=0 atmospheric CO2 = 550 gT atmospheric =280 ppm

        At t=0 aquatic CO2 = 35200 gT atmospheric

        Preindustrial, apparent partition coefficient = 1:64

        let At(efflux)/Aq(influx) rate to aquatic have a t1/2 of 1 decade

        let Aq(efflux)/At(influx) have a t1/2 of 64 decades.

        The system is in steady state and 1/128 Aq[C] per decade = 275 Gt and 1/2 At[C] per decade = 275 Gt.

        Now, let us add CO2(mm) to the atmosphere. With decade levels of of 60-90 Gt per t1/2 it is very easy to get from 550 to 750 ppm CO2.

        At present we have an apparent partition coefficient = 1:50, the system cannot come to steady state as there is a constant input into the system, burning fossil fuels. When we stop burning fossil fuels, and CO2 input from humans ends the system will take 4-5 Atmospheric t1/2’s to arrive at the new steady state.

        The new steady state atmospheric level will be 1/64*((Postindustrial + Human Generated Carbon)/(Postindustrial)).
        On a longer time scale the mineralization of carbon rate will increase and we will see a return to the Postindustrial levels.
        Fraction of the atmosphere consisting of man-made CO2 should range from 30-50% in this model, depending on the relative input rate of man-made CO2 and the true atmospheric efflux rate.

        The actually t1/2 of CO2 atmosphere models best at between >15 <30 gives the best fit to Keeling.
        It is not hard to do this type of modeling. The fact that you can't do it or will not do it is just a reflection of your intellectual shallowness, hence your continual appeals to authority. The whole point of modeling is to show you the range of rates that a phenomena can be described by. We know that there is 'elasticity' in every pool, such elasticities mean that rate are much less important that flux control coefficients.The flux coefficients inform you of how much the various 'pools' in a dynamic process are going to swell or shrink if you perturb the process.

        I sate to you again. You cannot use box models, connected by rate constants, to describe complex dynamic steady states. They are to kinetics what 'See Spot Run' is to literature.
        Enzymologists, information theorists, engineers and hydrologists are all aware flux control theory and apply it to complex systems.

        Why is climate science the only major area where 40 years of worth of cutting edge kinetic analysis is ignored?

        Why is climate science unique in cleaving to box models that are known to be bogus in all exponentially verifiable system?

        Why is climate science unique in developing models, which are both inherently complex and dependent on multiple constants?

        Finally, why is climate science are the models not designed to test a verifiable change in flux?

      • Ferdinand Engelbeen

        DocMartyn,

        I have no objections to your modelling, except that the At(efflux)/Aq(influx) rate to aquatic of t1/2 of 1 decade probably is several decades, due to limits in the exchange rate between deep oceans and the atmosphere, thus there is little elasticity in the ocean’s sink capacity. The ocean surface doesn’t play much role in the exchanges (and largely isolates the deep oceans from the atmosphere), as a 100 GtC carbon increase in the atmosphere only gives a 10 GtC increase in the oceans mixed layer at steady state, due to carbonate chemistry.

        Ultimately, the excess in the atmosphere will sink in the deep oceans (and fixed carbon in the biosphere), but it will take more time than a few decades (be it far less than the IPCC pedicts in their Bern model).

        I am more a practical than a theoretical boy. When I did see the behaviour of the atmospheric CO2 for temperature changes, I was surprised that the reaction was near linear, despite lots of reactions at work where several are far from linear.

        The same for the current disturbance: The carbon cycle system reacts in an extreme linear way to the increase in the atmosphere, thus I used that to calculate the effect of another disturbance. No matter that the carbon cycle is far more complex.

        I seldom appeal to authority, being anti-authoritive all my life. Except if the authority is right in every aspect…

  8. I would be interested in the substantiation of your conclusion: “14CO2 injected into the atmosphere by H-bomb tests shows that the EFFLUX of CO2 from this reservoir has a half time of about a decade.”
    Do you know how the following concerns I read about were deals with? The nuclear testing (and to a lesser degree other human actions) destabilized the atmospheric ratio of C14 in unpredictable manners –it isn’t distributed uniformly, the amount in specific areas isn’t constant- Both the volumes created by different nuclear tests were different and there is potential that the half life’s of the C14 is not uniform from different explosions.

    • The atmosphere is mixed on the 2-4 year time span.
      The decay of nucli is essentially invariant.
      You can just about change the decay rate of decay in nucli that undergo electron capture, p + e- -> n.
      So you can slightly alter this rate by enriching the electron density of the nucli,
      It has been shown with 7Be, which decays by electron capture, that the decay rate can be increased by about 1.5% in very eelcton rich environments.
      However, 14C decays by beta emission, so it does not change. Nor does the route to its formation change the decay rate.

      • Doc–what you have written is in conflict with what I have read regarding the uniform spread of C14 after nuclear testing and you have greatly minimized a key issue– that the amounts of it created and the decay rates of the C14 were not uniform across the explosions.

      • “you have greatly minimized a key issue– that the amounts of it created and the decay rates of the C14 were not uniform across the explosions.”

        ” the amounts of it created ” Not important, we only care that it was created, we are using it as a tracer.

        “decay rates of the C14 were not uniform across the explosions.”

        Who cares about the decay during the fisson/fusion event? We only care what happened post-moratorium. All the 14C generated in the 100 ms after the initiation event had a t1/2 of 5730 years. Will have a t1/2 of 5730 years if you cool it in liquid helium or heat it up to 5800K.
        You can place it into the hardest vacuum or smack it with a diamond hammer on a diamond anvil to 300 gigapascals; the t1/2 of 5730 years.
        Zap it in the Odeillo solar furnace in the Pyrénées-Orientales exposing it to light fluxes more than a trillion times noon sun; the t1/2 of 5730 years.
        The t1/2 is always going to be 5730 years.

      • Doc– If that were true, you would be able to use C14 today to determine the percentage of CO2 in the atmosphere that is due to humans. Why do you think we can not do that today?

      • Think of it as the three body problem, which has still not been solved.
        We have 98.9% 12C, 1.1%13C and 0.0000000001% 14C..
        14N and cosmic ray generated thermal neuton -> 14C + H+
        50% of the time t 5600 year 14C -> e- + 14N
        However, the amount of 14C generated in the atmosphere is unknown and has to be derived phenomenologically.

  9. In the lat 60’s and early 70’s enzymologists suddenly were presented with a new tool, the computer.
    They had all the rate constants, binding constants, pH profiles and inhibitor constants of individual enzymes in enzyme pathways, plugged the numbers into their new computers and got crap.
    Kacser&Burns group and the Heinrich&Rapoport group showed that things were much more complex than imagined and introduced flux control theory, which has the same formalism as classical control theory.
    What Kacser&Burns actually did was introduce the concept of elasticity and quantified it in terms of the elasticity coefficient. Complex systems with feed backs are spontaneously and intrinsically stable and elastic. Flux through the systems are only driven by an external input and irreversible reactions; in the case of human biology this is the generation of CO2 and of H2O from O2.
    You cannot describe a system by knowing the individual steps. Diagrams such as these:-

    are about as much use as a one legged man at an arse kicking party. Not only are they wrong, they are deliberately misleading.
    Now, the concept of elasticity in the study of steady states and flux control is not restricted to biochemistry or classical control theory:-
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elasticity_Coefficient
    In-fact, elasticity of a component of a complex system is far older and is used extensively in real life.
    Alfred Marshall’s book, Principles of Economics (1890) was the dominant economic textbook for decades and he introduced and quantified and modeled supply and demand, marginal utility and costs of production into a coherent whole. He is one of the founders of modern economic theory.

    He recognized ‘elasticity’ and uses pretty much the same formalism as used in control theory.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Price_elasticity_of_demand#Point-price_elasticity

    So, back to carbon. What happens to carbon when we pump it into the biosphere?
    Well, pretty much what happens when you introduce a primary product into an economy.
    Digging up gold and then placing it into a vault affects the economy in the same way as burning fossil fuel. Quite a lot and not at all.

    The biosphere is rather like an economy, it does not have a single ‘rate limiting step’, it is elastic, and bound by a large number of limiting inputs, carbon being one of them.
    The 280 ppm, pre-industrial level of atmospheric CO2 is the trade off level of the total mass of biotic carbon vs. atmospheric carbon.
    Economically, the amount of carbon fixation performed by plants is an opportunity cost, redox equalivents used to fix CO2 are a loss to the system. Increasing CO2 from 280 to 390 ppm makes plants much more efficient, They can, for the same cost, fix more carbon, and they will. The biosphere will increase in size until some other limitation takes over.
    We do not live on a dead planet. Every single thing you see, smell and touch is a consequence of life. The chemistry of the atmosphere, the land and the waters of the seas is all biotic. Moreover, the whole planet is powered by an influx of short wavelengh photons and it excretes longer wavelength photons; this is what generates the energy gap needed to allow lifes complexity to fight the entropy gradient. The whole system is a vast, complex, steady state. Pretending that we are examining chemical equilibrium using equilibrium thermodynamics is all well and good, but it rather misses the point.
    The energy diagrams, of a non-rotating planet with daily light fluxes averaged and producing average temperatures and a non-seasonal planet with annual carbon fluxes averaged and producing average surpluses is pathetic.

    I would rather like to take people who generate these carbon cycles like this:-

    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/82/Carbon_cycle-cute_diagram.svg

    and place their heads in boiling water and their feet in ice water. Then, when I am in court for murder, I could in good conscience make the claim that I was attempting to maintain their body temperature at 37 degrees, on average.

    • DocMartyn, I shudder whenever anyone mentions an ‘economics’ parallel to a ‘physical science outcome’. ‘Economic science’ is a ‘social science’, whereas ‘climate science’ is a ‘physical science’.

      As an ‘engineer’ that engineers physical properties, may I respectfully suggest that you would better explain your terminology if you keep to the parameters of ‘physics’ (the physical sciences).

      You wrote:
      “In the lat 60s and early 70s enzymologists suddenly were presented with a new tool, the computer.
      They had all the rate constants, binding constants, pH profiles and inhibitor constants of individual enzymes in enzyme pathways, plugged the numbers into their new computers and got crap.
      Kacser&Burns group and the Heinrich&Rapoport group showed that things were much more complex than imagined and introduced flux control theory, which has the same formalism as classical control theory.
      What Kacser&Burns actually did was introduce the concept of elasticity and quantified it in terms of the elasticity coefficient. Complex systems with feed backs are spontaneously and intrinsically stable and elastic. Flux through the systems are only driven by an external input and irreversible reactions; in the case of human biology this is the generation of CO2 and of H2O from O2.
      You cannot describe a system by knowing the individual steps.”

      Why not just go with, and build on, “classical control theory”? Energy attractors ‘closest’ (exhibiting least opposing potential difference to energy flow) sink the energy source, but when the energy ‘PD’ (potential difference) becomes greater than the ‘established sink’ can cope with, other sinks become ‘active’ to reduce the PD.

      Best regards, Ray Dart.

  10. Continuing the discussion from the last thread with dikranmarsupial

    “O.K. in that case, if you think the natural environment is a net source, then explain why the observed rise is less than anthropogenic emissions.”

    I thought i’d already put forward a good explanation; the pH / hydronium ions analogy.

    Also- i’d post at skeptical science, i’ve tried it before, but i only get ‘moderated’. I’m more than happy to continue discussing here though if you are (while i’m reluctant to post at SS, i’ll look at any links you give as disspassionatley as i can- despite finding issues with their supportive evidence before).

    • Dikran Marsupial

      AFAICS your pH/hydronium analogy was suggesting that temperature increases are likely to result in an increase in CO2 emissions from the ocean. Yes, of course that is well known. However temperature is not the only thing that controls the flux of carbon between atmosphere and oceans; it is also controlled by the difference in concnetrations between the surface waters and the atmosphere. If you increase atmospheric CO2, ocean uptake increases. So it is not as simple as temperature leads to increased ocean emissions; that is only true if all things are otherwise equal, and in this case they are not equal due to anthropogenic emissions.

      The mass balance argument shows that WHATEVER THE MECHANISM the natural environment is a net carbon sink. If the oceans were emitting more carbon than they took up, then unless some other part of the natural envrionment had become an even greater carbon sink, then the annual rise in atmospheric CO2 would be more than anthropogenic emissions, but we know this is not happening.

      Do you agree that the annual change in atmospheric CO2 concentrations is given by the formula

      dC = E_a + E_n – U_n

      where dC is the annual increase in atmospheric CO2, E_a is total emissions of CO2 from anthropogenic sources (fossil fuel use plus land use change), E_n is total carbon emissions from natural sources, and U_n is total uptake by all natural sinks. This is basically just saying that any CO2 emitted into the atmosphere that isn’t taken up by the environment stays in the atmosphere (i.e. conservation of mass), which seems fairly uncontraversial to me.

      If you get moderated at sks it will be because you violate the comments policy; if you stick to the science, stay on-topic and avoid inflamatory terms, your posts won’t be deleted.

      • Dikran,

        You say:

        “However temperature is not the only thing that controls the flux of carbon between atmosphere and oceans; it is also controlled by the difference in concnetrations between the surface waters and the atmosphere. If you increase atmospheric CO2, ocean uptake increases. So it is not as simple as temperature leads to increased ocean emissions; that is only true if all things are otherwise equal, and in this case they are not equal due to anthropogenic emissions.”

        I think Professor Salby (and many sceptics) argue that temperatures (and other climatic factors) set the “equilibrium” point for the concentrations in the atmosphere (the “vent”) and sea, land, waters and biosphere (the “reservoir “). NOT that it controlls the CO2 flux. It’s not the same. The fluxes are of course affected indirectly, because they have to increase/decrease to move the concentration to the “set point”. Atmospheric CO2 is basically regulated/controlled by the fluxes. Temperatures and other climatic factors determine the set point.

        If this is accurate description of the system, any additional emission to the atmosphere (the “vent”) will be removed to the reservoir easily, in order to move the concentration back to the set point. The capacity of the reservoir is much greater than the capacity of the atmosphere so that the change of concentration in the reservoir will be almost insignificant.

      • Dikran Marsupial

        The carbon cycle is a dynamical system, the equilibrium levels of atmospheric CO2 and temperature are determined by a very great number of factors. If that were Salby’s argument, then it is entirely uncontraversial. Read David Archer’s primer on the carbon cycle (perhaps not very readable, but very informative).

        It is not correct to say that temperatures determine the set point, as CO2 is a greenhouse gas and hence affects temperature as well as temperature affecting the carbon cycle. Now if you said forcing determines the set point, that would be more accurate.

        The argument that excess CO2 is easily removed from the atmosphere generally stems from a misunderstanding of residence time and adjustment time. The residence time tells you how long a molecule of CO2 stays in the atmosphere. However, in most cases a molecule of atmospheric CO2 is only exchanged with a molecule of CO2 from the oceans/land biota, which leaves the atmospheric concentration exactly the same as it was before. The adjustment time (the time it takes for excess CO2 to be removed from the atmosphere, rather than merely exchanged) is much longer (50-200 years).

        The mass balance argument shows what the natural environment as a whole is doing. It’s only assumption is conservations of mass (CO2 molecules don’t just magically appear and dissapear, they have to come from somewhere and they have to go somewhere); it doesn’t assume any particular mechansim behind what the environment is doing. It tells us that the natural environment, taken as a whole, is a net sink, and hence is actively opposing the rise in atmospheric CO2 (which is exaclty what you would expect from a dynamical system that has been peturbed from its equilibrium state).

      • Like I said, you’re almost there. You agree that the natural environment is actively oposing the rise in atmospheric CO2, NOT the anthropogenic input.

        Reservoir’s capacity is huge and any emission into (or removal from) the vent (atmosphere) will be corrected quickly.

      • Dikran Marsupial

        No, it won’t because at the moment the net sink is only taking out about half our emissions each year. At that sort of rate it will take about 50 years to get half way back to pre-industrial conditions (in fact it will take longer because the size of the net sink will be decreasing as atmospheric CO2 levels decrease). The excess CO2 will be removed, but not quickly (at least on human timescales).

      • If you want to consider Salby’s hypothesis, you also have to consider all it’s points. You’re still wearing CO2GW glasses.

        The increase in atmospheric CO2 is caused mostly by the global warming (whatever it means). Since, on top on that increase, caused by the warming, there’s anthropogenic CO2 input, the natural fluxes react to that extra atmospheric CO2 and take it out to restore the (moving) set point, determined by the warming. If there was no warming (fixed set point), the natural sink would remove exactly the anthropogenic input. If the warming was more, the natural sink would take out maybe 1/4 of the anthropogenic input. If the warming was less, it would be maybe 3/4 of the anthropogenic emissions.

        During cooling periods, the sink will take out more than the anthropogenic input, which will result in decreasing atmospheric CO2.

      • The pressure of CO2 to leave (ocean) water and get into the atmosphere is measured by bringing water in thorough contact with a small volume of air. CO2 is measured in the (dried) air, and that is the equilibrium CO2 level of air vs, water. That is called pCO2(aq).

        If one warms ocean water with 1 degr.C, the pCO2(aq) in average increases 16 microatm. That means that an increase of 16 microatm (about 16 ppmv minus water vapor) in the atmosphere is sufficient to restore the previous condition. 32 GtC is sufficient to do the job. Or the equivalent of 4 years of human emissions.

        The point now is that the atmosphere now is 100 ppmv above the temperature controlled equilibrium. The consequence is that the flow of CO2 into the oceans is greater than from the oceans into the atmosphere. Continuosly over at least the past 50 years. All what temperature does is regulate the year by year sink rate, not the sink trend.

        The period 1945-1975 did show a slight cooling, thus according to Salby and you, the MLO record 1960-1975 should show a (strong) decrease in CO2 levels, but we see a steady increase in that period.

      • “The point now is that the atmosphere now is 100 ppmv above the temperature controlled equilibrium.”

        This is where I disagree. IMO, the atmosphere is much closer to the temperature controlled equilibrium. According to Salby very close.

        Salby’s hypothesis is that temperature regulates atmospheric CO2, NOT the sink rate and NOT the sink trend. Do you see the difference? The anthropogenic CO2 input is not regulated by temperature. Natural fluxes are HUGE and variable. They are not regulated and some are dependent on temperature and some maybe not. We don’t know. Many disturbances in the fluxes are possible, like the anthropogenic input for the last ~60 years. Fluxes are NOT regulated (controlled). What is regulated is the atmospheric CO2.

      • Ferdinand Engelbeen

        Have a look at the Law Dome ice core: the MWP-LIA shows an 6 ppmv drop for an about 0.8 degr.C drop. The same (or more or less) increase in temperature can be expected from the LIA to current, thus a 6 ppmv gain. But the gain is 70 ppmv in the period 1850-1980 (the end of the ice core), with a 20 years overlap between ice core(s) and direct South Pole measurements.
        Thus the temperature controlled setpoint was and is 280-290 ppmv not near 400 ppmv.

        ftp://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/klim_img/law_dome_1000yr.jpg

      • Ferdinand Engelbeen

        Sorry, you need to remove the ftp:// in the address of the image

      • A sink is a lost to total system, generally used to describe a situation where we have an efflux rate and no influx rate. We use the term reservoirs to describe discrete pools, and reservoirs have both influx/efflux rates.
        A sink is a loss to the whole system, but a movement from one reservoirs to another isn’t.
        Mineralization is a carbon sink, movement of CO2 from the atmosphere into the ocean is not.

      • “Mineralization is a carbon sink,”

        Not by your definition DocM. Mineralised Carbon is re-emmitted by vulcanism

        /ikh

      • If you took your previous arguement regarding partial pressure and stated that co2 emissions create a sink that otherwise wouldn’t be there and that partially offsets the emissions, that would make much more sense in a warming world. Arguing there is a natural sink is arguing temperature increases cause less atmospheric co2. Arguing that the forcing matters instead of the temperature and that co2 wants to get back into equilibrium almost sounds as if you are giving self-awareness to a molecule.

  11. continuing the discussion from previous thread by ‘J’:

    “By that logic, the only possibility is for the environmental CO2 fluxes to be precisely balanced — otherwise, the atmosphere would be either 0% or 100% CO2”

    incorrect, as i stated before (and to DRmarsupial) the buffered system analogy not only explains the ‘net sink, but the amount of co2 present at any given time along and offers a mechanism for the recent rise (i am in NO WAY debating that humans add co2 to the atmosphere-we’re just outweighed by nature).

    • Dikran Marsupial

      “i am in NO WAY debating that humans add co2 to the atmosphere-we’re just outweighed by nature”

      As I said on the previous thread, you are forgetting natural uptake. Of course anthropogenic emissions are dwarfed by natural emissions. However natural uptake currently exceeds natural emissions, so the natural environment is a net sink and is taking more carbon out of the atmosphere than it is putting in. Before the industrial revoluion, natural emissions and natural uptake were approximately balanced leaving the cabon cycle close to an eqiulubrium state. The reason natural uptake is currently greater than natural emissions is becase we have peturbed the cabon cycle via anthropogenic emissions, and the carbon cycle has responded to try and re-establish the equilibrium.

  12. I think we ought to pay attention to Doc Martyn’s analysis. It explains how the “mass balance” explanations for how man-made CO2 “has” to be the explanation for the annual increases in atmospheric CO2 concentrations is so simple-minded to be laughable.

    Biotic systems use nutrients (e.g., CO2) in terms of rates, not in terms of amounts. Thus, more nutrient, more uptake.

    Bottom line, it’s entirely possible that temp => CO2, that CO2 uptake is proportional to availability, and that man-made CO2 contribution is immaterial to the increases in CO2 we are seeing. It’s all about a temperature level (forget about increase) that is driving much CO2 out of the oceans gthan is assumed, that is then being sucked in by land-based/ ocean-based vegetation at higher rates than assumed.

    Possible?

  13. Theo Goodwin

    DocMartyn writes:

    “Alfred Marshall’s book, Principles of Economics (1890) was the dominant economic textbook for decades and he introduced and quantified and modeled supply and demand, marginal utility and costs of production into a coherent whole. He is one of the founders of modern economic theory.

    He recognized ‘elasticity’ and uses pretty much the same formalism as used in control theory.”

    I was quite shocked to find this reference to economics in your essay. Please, please, please do not tell me that you believe that economics is scientific. Please, please, please, tell me that you understand that economics has never produced an empirical claim that has proved to be reasonably well confirmed.

    Economics makes use of some beautiful mathematics but it does not make use of it to explain or predict phenomena in the natural world.

    • Theo, Doc’s description of how our environment likely works in regards to CO2 is brilliant. His reference to Marshall is equally so — if you haven’t read Marshall, you should: current economists (and politicians!) ought to read him and heed him.

      Anyway, the point is that the problem with economics is the same as that with the environment: very complex systems that are difficult to understand/ model and on which true experiments are not possible. The “science” is therefore similar: messy.

      Sorry, environmental science is no better than economics. We should trust envionmental scientists no more than we trust economists. We can only hope that politicians can be prevented from acting on our environment. There simply is not enough truly known. In those cases, letting people make their own judgments about actions to take in anticipation of what climate will do is the best way to respond efficiently and effectively.

      • Theo Goodwin

        Very well said. There are brilliant economists but there is no science of economics at this time.

      • Doug Badgero

        Economics has one additional variable that is difficult to quantify……….human psychology. IMHO this means we will never be able to predict economic outcomes given known inputs, but I think the good doctor’s point was simply to introduce elasticity into the conversation. A valid point I think.

      • The key here is that human psychology is adaptable, which means that any information gleaned on the economy and shared widely will immediately alter the dynamics (in a closed feedback loop). But, human psychology is also mercurial, which means that the dynamics can be altered in unpredictable ways.

      • Bart, you think that biological systems don’t have information input/decision making abilities?

        You have an apple tree, strike the bark in the spring to cause deep wounds.
        You will find that the harvest increases. The innate decision loop is; I am under threat from something I have no defense against. The best response is to cut back on my maintenance/longevity (wood formation) and use the energy saved to increase my chance of progeny.

        A plant like a tree has to make opportunity cost decision all the time, increasing the amount of wood in the trunk means one grows more slowly, but one is better protected against storm damage. Increasing the branch density will pay off in terms of energy gathering, NEXT YEAR. Reproduction is costly, and if a tree ‘knows’ the density of the near by canopy it may make decisions as to what type of seeding strategy to use. I would not be surprised of the Maple seeds produced by individual Maple trees did not differ in their flight properties, based on local conditions. Just because tress don’t have brains, does not mean they are stupid.

      • These are automated, predictable, repeatable responses. Attempts to ferret out such order in economics have not been particularly successful.

      • “These are automated, predictable, repeatable responses.”

        O.K. science settled. No need to think, analyze or do research anymore.

    • Economics is a social science by definition.

      • “Kermit

        Economics is a social science by definition”

        and you point is?

      • Theo wrote that “Please, please, please do not tell me that you believe that economics is scientific.” but by definition it is a social science.

  14. A. C. Osbornr

    A lot of posters on here quote the Vostock Ice Cores to relate temp and CO2.
    But they seem to show a lag of CO2 increase 500-800 years after the temp rises.
    So what was happening to temps 500-800 years ago and could that be contributing to today’s CO2 rise.

    • Salby was asked about this ice core lag of several centuries. Since his own suggested lag is almost non-existent it was interesting to hear him say these two things might be part of the same thing. Hand-waving at its best. He didn’t know.

      • How does the IPCC explain the lag in the ice core records?

        They agree. temperature changes results in higher CO2.

        “Although it is not their primary cause, atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) also plays an important role in the ice ages. Antarctic ice core data show that CO2 concentration is low in the cold glacial times (~190 ppm), and high in the warm interglacials (~280 ppm); atmospheric CO2 follows temperature changes in Antarctica with a lag of some hundreds of years. ”

        http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/faq-6-1.html

        It got awfully cold in the LIA. As much as 4C colder as a recent paper on Greenland suggests. Current CO2 could be the result of the warming of the LIA which has been going on for “some hundreds of years”.

      • Thanks, Bruce, for the reference. The IPCC’s phrase ‘…plays an important role…’ seems to be Gore-speak for ‘…plays a passive role…’ or ‘…plays no demonstrable role…’
        During transitions between glacials and interglacials variation in surface and – more important – ocean temperatures (probably driven by oscillations in the albedo of the northern hemisphere) seem indeed to have played the role of the horse, while CO2 (and its cousin CH4) were riding the cart. However that doesn’t mean that the recent small but generally upward drift in recorded surface temperatures can account for the recent large increase in atmospheric CO2 content. There are several independent lines of evidence against temperature being a major cause of the recent CO2 increase. One of them, an argument from ocean chemistry, I referred to on Part 1 of this post. See Ahlbeck, J. (1999) at http://www.john-daly.com/oceanco2/oceanco2.htm
        Another line of evidence was mentioned by Chris Colose on the same post. There is thought to have been about 6 degrees C difference in average global surface temperatures between glacials and interglacials, but only about 100 ppm difference in atmospheric CO2. And that was with plenty of time for equilibration. We have already had over 100 ppm CO2 increase since around 1900, but less than 1 degree surface temperature change, only enough for at most 20 ppm of added CO2.
        Of course new research may change the picture. But as things stand, attributing recent increases on atmospheric CO2 to surface temperature increase looks like a non-starter. It just doesn’t add up.

      • Richard S Courtney

        Coldish:

        You say;
        “There are several independent lines of evidence against temperature being a major cause of the recent CO2 increase. One of them, an argument from ocean chemistry, I referred to on Part 1 of this post. See Ahlbeck, J. (1999) at http://www.john-daly.com/oceanco2/oceanco2.htm

        Not so. We used Ahlbeck’s model as one of the three basic models we assessed in one of our 2005 papers:
        ref. Rorsch A, Courtney RS & Thoenes D, ‘The Interaction of Climate Change and the Carbon Dioxide Cycle’ E&E v16no2 (2005).

        It can model the rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration since 1958 as measured at Mauna Loa. We used it to do that.

        Indeed, it models the atmospheric CO2 concentration for each year without any need for smoothing of the data. The Berne Model used by the IPCC cannot match the same empirical data unless the data is subjected to 5-year smoothing.

        Anyway, I wonder why people want to think ocean chemistry could prove anything about the carbon cycle when the carbon cycle is probably dominated by biological activity.

        Richard

      • Richard,
        Thanks for the comment. I’d like to read your paper, but is it behind a paywall at E&E?
        Cheers,
        Hugh

      • Richard S Courtney

        Hugh:

        The following is a copy of the answer I gave to that question on the other thread. Of course, the offer also applies to you.

        Richard

        dikranmarsupial:

        Sorry, I cannot provide a free copy of the paper because since it was published I have joined the Editorial Board of E&E.

        However, I gave a presentation of it at the first Heartland Climate Conference and that presentation paper is a ‘cut & paste’ job from the E&E paper: it contains all the salient equations, graphs and arguments.
        If you email me at RichardSCourtney@aol.com then I will send you a copy of that presentation paper.

        Richard

    • Medieval warm Period.

  15. In quickly passing through the threads, I don’t see a good summary of the Occam’s Razor problem with Salby’s theories. Starting with a few things that we know:

    1. Humans are releasing large amounts of carbon dioxide.
    2. Levels of carbon dioxide are rising.
    3. Rising levels of carbon dioxide cause warming.
    4. The world is warming.

    You can then account for the observed facts with a simple explanation: human-released CO2 raises CO2 levels and causes warming.

    Salby requires a much more elaborate set of explanations:

    1. Human CO2 disappears into sinks.
    2. The world warms for an unknown reason.
    3. That warming causes unprecedented, extremely rapid shifts of CO2 from sinks to the atmosphere.

    Obviously not a simple explanation, it reminds me of the legal puzzles in which a person dies of a heart attack just as someone shoots them. It would be quite a coincidence for CO2 from natural sinks to be rushing into the atmosphere right at the moment when we are pumping gigatons of CO2 into the atmosphere.

    None of this falsifies Salby’s thesis, but it suggests he has a difficult burden of proof when and if he publishes.

    • Are you dissapointed that human CO2 disappears into sinks? Depressed? Looks like it.

    • ThinkingScientist

      I can give you an even simpler model:

      1. The world is warming naturally
      2. CO2 increases in the atmosphere.
      3. Er…there is no 3. That’s it

    • Robert,
      The warming is not unusual
      All CO2 goes into sinks of some sort
      Salby is suggesting that the carbon cycle is not as well understood as the climatocracy claims.
      And since Salby and his work have been under review for six months, I think reasonable people will wait on the actual work.

      • The carbon cycle is well understood. What Salby is saying is that he doesn’t understand the carbon cycle.

      • Jim D –
        If the carbon cycle is so well undersood, then why would we need to pursue further research ala OCO, for example?

        IOW – bull feathers.

      • Interannual and annual variability could be interesting to measure in real time. The annual average sources, sinks, fluxes and reservoirs can be found in text books. To this extent it is understood.

      • Richard S Courtney

        Jim D:

        Estimates of those variables exist. Measurements do not. Indeed, most of them would be difficult if not impossible to measure.

        Importantly, the rate constants for most of the sources and sinks (which are misleading terms) are not known and it is not possible even to estimate them.

        In these circumstances, any claim that “The carbon cycle is well understood” is a delusion.

        Richard

      • David L. Hagen

        Jim D
        See differences between Arctic, Mauna Loa, and Antarctic CO2 variations shown and modeled by Fred H Haynie in: The Future of Climate Change http://www.kidswincom.net/climate.pdf

    • Robert

      You wrote:

      1. Humans are releasing large amounts of carbon dioxide.
      2. Levels of carbon dioxide are rising.
      3. Rising levels of carbon dioxide cause warming.
      4. The world is warming.
      You can then account for the observed facts with a simple explanation: human-released CO2 raises CO2 levels and causes warming.

      Let’s do a quick check on that:

      Point 1: Humans are really only releasing relatively small amounts of CO2 in comparison with the natural cycle.

      Point 2: Levels of CO2 are rising, but not at the same rate as human emissions: in fact, they increase at somewhere between 15% and 88% of the annual emission rate, averaging a bit less than 50% over the long term

      Point 3: Rising levels of CO2 theoretically do cause warming, although there is absolutely no certainty as to how much warming a doubling of CO2 could cause, i.e. is it 0.6°C (Lindzen/Spencer observations) or 3.2°C (mean value of IPCC model simulations)?

      Point 4: The world has not been warming since January 2001, despite increase of atmospheric CO2 to record levels.

      Bring out Occam’s razor…

      Max

      • Sounds like you are not skeptical at all of Salby’s argument and accept it without question, or do you have questions about it?

      • 1. But the releases are very land compared to Greenland’s cinnamon exports. As long as we’re comparing things with no relevance to one another.

        The natural cycle is balanced. The human inputs are not.

        2. “Levels of CO2 are rising, but not at the same rate as human emissions” — which is exactly what we would expect to happen, given the nature of the carbon cycle. In contrast, it would be suspicious if we increased the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere and the uptake of the sinks did not increase.

        3. “Rising levels of CO2 theoretically do cause warming” — they cause warming, period, full stop.

        4. “The world has not been warming since January 2001” — wrong. Your homework is to review the temperature record, the concept of statistical significance, and the use of long-term averages. Then, when you can explain to me why your claim is nonsense, you’ll be ready to talk about the climate.

        “Bring out Occam’s razor” — Not just yet, for you, I think. You clearly need to work on your basics first — the nature of the carbon cycle, concentration and osmotic shifts, how to read a data set. “First learn stand, then learn fly” as the saying goes. :)

      • Cover eyes. Stick fingers in ears. Call everyone else an idiot who “doesn’t understand”.

        It’s all in the official playbook. And, frankly, we don’t care anymore.

      • Richard S Courtney

        Robert:

        You say;
        “The natural cycle is balanced.”

        I very strongly want to believe that because it would make investigation of the complex carbon cycle simpler than it is. However, I have seen no evidence of any kind to support it. But you state it as a fact. So, I understand that you have a body of evidence to support it.

        Please provide that evidence which proves – or at least strongly indicates – that “The natural cycle is balanced”.

        Thanking you in anticipation

        Richard

    • “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler.”
      – A. Einstein

    • Robert
      Try Einstein’s Razor – “Make as simple as possible – but not simpler.”, and test against reality.

      See: Loehle & Scafetta 2011
      Long term trend recovery from Little Ice Age
      60 year (Pacific) ocean oscillation
      20 year (Hale) solar oscillation
      Human fossil fuel use

      For polar driven annular changes see:
      Fred H Haynie’s: The Future of Climate Change
      http://www.kidswincom.net/climate.pdf

      Then incorporate Salby’s observations that natural variations are much greater than human variations.

  16. Tom Choularton

    It is true that most global climate models use prescribed greenhouse gases, however, the next generation of models with an interactive carbon cycle are now being used. These are discussed in a preliminary way in AR4 Chapter 7 of working group 1. I believe from those working in this area that the feedback of warmimg in the carbon cycle could indeed markedly enhance greenhouse gas concentrations an dhence warming.

    • Which would certainly agree with the paleoclimate record, since it shows significant increases in CO2 concentrations in response to what we think were relatively small orbital/albedo forcing/feedback.

      My sense of the science on this is that it was thought most of this CO2 emerged slowly from the oceans. But the changes observed in the Arctic raise the question of whether it might emerge more quickly, mostly from permafrost, methyl hydrates, or other sources.

      It’s a grim thought, but we may have already set in motion a process that will take us past 450ppm regardless of our actions in the coming decades.

      • Robert,

        The Eemian of 110,000 years ago was average 2 degr.C warmer than today with the arctic land 5-10 degr.C warmer. No permafrost left, trees growing up to the Arctic oceans. CO2 levels 300 ppmv. CH4 levels 700 ppbv. Current CO2 400 ppmv. CH4 1800 ppbv. CH4 levels currently leveling.

        Thus no fear that we are at the point of no return, as the Eemian (or any other period, like the Cretaceous) shows not such a behaviour.

      • Ferdinand,

        What a strange conclusion. If the Eemian was only a few degrees warmer than now, yet sea levels were some 6 metres higher, to me that sounds worrisome, yet you conclude there’ no reason to worry?

  17. just a few numbers about CO2 transfer rates, which some people have a problem with.
    The solubility of CO2 in water at 4 degrees C, about the temperature of the average rain drop is 3.4 grams/kg and at 16 degrees it is about 2g/kg water.

    Annual precipitation is 505,000 cubic kilometres of water or 5 x 10^17 kg water.

    This is 1.7810^15 g of CO2, dissolved in cold rain water, hitting the land and oceans, every year, if warm it would be about 1×10^15 g per year.

    The total mass of atmospheric carbon dioxide is 3.16×10^15 kg.
    So between 2/3 and 1/3 of the global atmospheric CO2 hits the ground, already dissolved in water, every year.

    • Thanx Doc,

      You are the first person I have read who has stated such a fact. I have asked about this CO2 dissolving into the rain/clouds at other sites, and have basically been told that no such thing happens. Yet in my industry, when I install a condensing boiler, the condensation from the flue gas is very acidic. I have measured it as low as 3-4 PH. This is in the range of carbonic acid, so I always felt that some of the airborne CO2 had to be disolving into the rainwater.

      thanx for finally straightening that out!

      • Hmmm. Higher CO2 levels lead to more acid rain. I hadn’t thought of that one. Could it be a measurable effect of doubling CO2?

      • Leo – I’m not sure we can assume that CO2 dissolves in rain water anywhere near a saturation level. Nevertheless, the dissolving of CO2 in rain is one of the main mechanisms by which CO2 exits from the climate system, and so I’m surprised that wasn’t mentioned to you previously.

        What happens is that CO2 in rain (as carbonic acid) reacts with silicate and carbonate rocks to form bicarbonate ions, which are soluble, and which can be transported via water flow into the oceans. Eventually, they end up as solid carbonate sediments on the sea floor, and from there are subducted into the Earth’s mantle, leaving the climate system

        Eventually, mantle carbonates are heated at high temperatures to release CO2, which then enters the climate system via volcanoes, mid ocean ridges, subduction zones, and plumes, thereby repeating the carbon cycle.

      • Also, rain falling on the ocean simply adds to the ocean CO2/carbonate/bicarbonate system, and eventually then follows the same route as above for that fraction that ends up as sedimentary carbonates (as opposed to the fraction returning to the atmosphere).

      • Actually Fred, the formation of insoluble carbonates due to rock weathering could easily have a rate order > 1. Acid rain water, included from SOx/NOx emissions could very easily increase the rate at which CO2 mineralizes.
        The mineralization Ca bicarbonate/carbonate in water is very odd indeed with carbonates displaying atypical solubility curves with respect to both pressure and temperature, so CaCO3 is more soluble in deep high pressure cold water that in shallow, low pressure warm water. CaCO3.

      • Fred Moolten

        CO2 absorption in rain water at 4C or 16C can easily be tested in a laboratory simulation.

        It would not surprise me if the saturation rate would be approximated in nature, but that could also be tested easily.

        Does anyone have any real data here?

        Max

      • I don’t know what tests have been done, but given the low atmospheric concentration of CO2 and the short transit time of raindrops from high altitudes (low CO2, low pressure) through lower altitudes (higher CO2), I would be surprised if raindrops averaged a high saturation state. There are probably data on this related to the weathering process, but I haven’t seen them.

      • It’s probably not legitimate to refer to :”saturation”, because dissolved CO2 concentrations will be a function of the partial pressure of CO2 in the surroundings, among other things, but I would guess that the CO2 concentration in raindrops is relatively low.

        For some more information, see carbonic acid and carbonate chemistry.

      • You think so Fred? Think on this.
        Imagine a small rain drop, a sphere, which as the highest surface area for its mass imaginable. It falls MILES, punching through the atmosphere, being hit by a constant stream of CO2 molecules.
        If you want to saturate water with CO2, you bubble CO2 or air through it. With rain, it is the other way, you mix water bubbles in the gas.
        Now examine the ratio between the diameter of an average raindrop, 2mm, and the distance it moves through the atmosphere, about 2 kilometer. You are looking at 1,000,000:1

      • Doc – I agree that some raindrops come closer to equilibration than others, but I’m not sure I agree with some of your other statements. Contrary to your claim, I believe a sphere has the lowest surface to mass ratio possible (although raindrops are rarely completely spherical). Also, while raindrops will typically fall for kilometers, they are exposed to increasing CO2 molar concentrations at each declining altitude, so that they have only a short time and distance to experience the highest CO2 concentrations, and at that point are traveling at terminal velocity. The ratio between a raindrop diameter and the descent distance doesn’t strike me as particularly informative in its own right, but the diameter is important, as you indicate, in terms of molecular diffusion. My guess is that it would be unlikely for most raindrops to be equilibrated with the CO2 partial pressure at ground level, but rather that their average CO2 partial pressure (and content) is equivalent to that of a higher altitude.

      • Thanx Dr. Moolten for the answer. The other reason I had as to why CO2 should be able to “infest” rainwater is that here on the left coast, our rain is a bit acidic, as is our drinking water, as we get it from surface sources. Yet we do not have large industries or coal generating electrical plants, so there had to be something causing the rainwater to be a bit acidic.

      • Leo. as I understand it, because rainwater is like distilled water, in having no carbonates or bicarbonates to buffer pH change, in that condition, tiny amounts of acid make “easy” pH changes downward.

      • As well, most municipal water supply systems keep pH above 7 – not acidic – about 7.4 is quite normal, even up to 8 in some places,

      • Rain has a normal pH of 5.6 due to carbonic acid. Other natural substances, such as carboxylic acid, can lower that pH to 5.3. Anything lower then 5.3 is likely due to sulfuric or nitric acid and sometimes this can be natural also but is more associated with pollution from fossil fuels or fertilizers.

      • When the pH is 5.6 the amount of dissolved CO2 is much larger than that of HCO3- and the amount of CO3- – is negligible, while the share of CO2 is only about 1% in seawater with pH around 8. Thus there is much less carbon in raindrops than in seawater or other surface water with pH > 7.

        This must be taken into account in considering the role of rain in carbon cycle. Even so rain is one mechanism that removes CO2 from the atmosphere and brings it to the surface.

      • David L. Hagen

        I. Wilkosz explores these issues in: Acid-Base Equlibria in Open Atmospheric Gas-Liquid Systems. It appears rainwater acidity is dominated by other acidic species.

        6. The effect of CO2(g) on the pH and equilibrium composition of the liquid phase in open atmospheric systems can be visible only when pH2SO4 < 2.2·10-20 ppm, pHNO3 < 1.7·10-10 ppm, pHCl < 2.9·10-10 ppm, pSO2 < 3.5·10-2 ppm, pHNO2 < 2.1·10-2 ppm, pHCOOH < 8.0·10-4 ppm, pCH3COOH < 6.0·10-3 ppm.

        Polish Journal of Environmental Studies Vol. 14, No. 3 (2005), 375-383

      • It will be interesting to see what the values are when we have a firmer handle on acid rain’s contribution to ocean acidification

        http://www.whoi.edu/page.do?pid=7545&tid=282&cid=31286&ct=162

  18. Listen to David he is more often right than anyone else here. Though partly because he doesn’t go into great detail.

  19. ThinkingScientist

    I think there are one or two things I would like to throw into the mix here. The first is the idea that ice core data (eg Vostok) “proves” that interglacial CO2 does not exceed 280 ppm (actually, I think I recall the peak value in Vostok is actually 303 ppm, but still significantly lower than today). I actually think this is nonsense and that ice core data must very inaccurate for estimating paleo CO2. The main problem to me seems to be the mixing/smoothing as the gas can diffuse in the ice and the very poor resolution.
    Secondly, there seems to be a consistent view that “pre-industrial” CO2 levels were fairly constant at about 280 ppm. Why do we think this? What evidence supports this statement? I for one am not a believer in “steady state” conditions for nature. The huge cyclical processes we observe, from solar cycles through oceanic circulations and large transient CO2 events such as volcanos would tend to suggest otherwise. And there is published chemical data which suggests at different times significantly higher levels of CO2 in the past 150 years and possibly rapid changes in atmospheric CO2. Why does IPCC ignore chemical measures of CO2?
    I think the “pre-industrial” 280 ppm for CO2 is a meme intended to be consistent with ice core data and avoid answering the real question: how do we know what the “pre-industrial” CO2 level was, is there really a single constant value for hundreds (thousands?) of years. I suspect its a meme because it fits the storytelling line for AGW.
    Anyone got any references with hard data to support the 280 ppm figure?

    • Thinking Scientist

      There is one other question from the Vostok ice core CO2/temperature curves (beside the 800-year lag of CO2 behind temperature).

      Why is it that there were several times when temperature levels started to decrease as CO2 levels were at above average levels and others when temperature began to increase when CO2 was at below average levels?

      Max

    • I’m curious as to what sort of scientist you are, TS. What’s your degree in? Any publications we might refer to?

      • If you’re going to ask that kind of question, it’s polite to first introduce yourself, including your qualifications, Robert.

      • ThinkingScientist

        I don’t mind answering the question. I have 27 years as a professional geophysicist, mainly seismic, but in the last 15 years I have become specialised/expert in geostatistics and uncertainty of spatial properties/correlated time series. I do a lot of work with stochastic processes. I am a visiting lecturer in geostatistics to post-graduate MSc students at a top 10 University in the UK and set and mark one of the exam questions. I have also been a Visiting Research fellow at another UK University, providing PhD supervision as an outsider. This academic side to my work is quite small scale.

        I am a BSc only, my degree being joint honours in Oceanography and Soil Science. PhD’s weren’t popular when I graduated – I was offered a place to study but turned it down and took a job instead. However, I have studied to post-graduate level in sedimentology. Academically I am quite a generalist.

        I am published, but only within my own specialised area on stochastic models – mainly I present at conferences or write overvew papers/articles by invitation. I run several industry training courses which are very popoular.

      • Heh, that shut robert up.

      • John Carpenter

        Robert had to leave after reading the first paragraph… he didn’t say why.

      • Johnny, Johnny, Johnny. Don’t you ever get tired of being that short snot-nosed kid who piles on when he thinks it’s safe?

        Parenthetically, it’s not safe for idiots when I’m around. Ever. (Of course, you’re free to wait until I go back to my very productive life, and then pretend to have driven me off. But I come back, Johnny, so your fantasy is apt to be short-lived.) I asked TS a question and he answered it. Where you get that being a big “win” for him or you, I’m not sure.

      • it’s not safe for idiots when I’m around.

        No, it wouldn’t be. You want to be the leader of the pack. Fortunately you’re not capable of that either.

      • John Carpenter

        Good one Robert… your a gem

      • You came out of lurkdom for that pathetic effort? Sad.

    • Further upthread Edim posted a link to an interesting article explaining some of the problems and uncertainties associated with ice core analysis. It seems that the data has to be ‘adjusted’ for various reasons, and it by no means provides the definitive answer.

      Here it is again

      • Ferdinand Engelbeen

        RobB,

        Jaworowski once might have been an ice core specialist, but his allegation that the researchers (Neftel in this case) manipulated the data, casts doubt on his even elementary knowledge of ice core behaviour. He accuses Neftel of an “arbitrary” shift of 83 years to match the ice core CO2 data with the Mauna Loa data. But he compared Mauna Loa with the age of the ice layer, not to the adjacent column of gas age (range) in the same table by Neftel. Either he doesn’t know that there is a difference between ice age and gas age in ice cores, or he simply ignores it.
        See (again) further:
        http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/jaworowski.html

        Further in the article by Robert Kernodle, he notes the problems with CO2 measurements in the Greenland ice cores and projects these to all ice cores. But there is a problem with the Greenland ice cores that hardly exists in Antarctica: the deposits of dust from Icelandic volcanoes, which is highly acidic. Together with sea salt (carbonate) deposits, that reacts to form CO2 over time, which makes that the CO2 measurements don’t reflect the real CO2 levels of the past.

        Further, he refers to the diffusion as calculated from remelt layers in the (“warm”) Siple Dome ice core:
        http://www.geocraft.com/WVFossils/Reference_Docs/CO2_diffusion_in_polar_ice_2008.pdf

        According to the abstract, the influence of diffusion is a broadening of the resolution at medium depth from 20 years to 22 years. At full depth (70 kyr of history) the diffusion doubles the resolution to 40 years. That is all.
        That means that there is more averaging by diffusion, but that doesn’t change the average over the resolution period.

        For the much colder Vostok ice core, the possibility of migration is even far less, and isn’t observed, as the ratio between high CO2 levels over interglacials and low CO2 in glacials remains the same for each 100 kyr period back in time. With any substantial migration, the ratio would fade over time.

    • TS, thank you for putting so eloquently what’s been concerning me for quite some time.
      I too do not believe such ‘steady state’ conditions, especially in the face of large fluxes. If per-industrial CO2 concentrations were really that stable for hundreds of thousands of years, that would strongly imply a large degree of negative feedback – which would easily soak up the small amount of anthropogenic CO2

    • The main problem to me seems to be the mixing/smoothing as the gas can diffuse in the ice and the very poor resolution.

      The resolution is about 600 years for Vostok, by far enough too see what happens over time scales of 5000 years (glacial-interglacial transitions) and interglacials (10-20 kyr).

      The smoothing over the resolution excludes rapid changes in the atmosphere, but that doesn’t change the average over the period of the resolution. But the current increase of 100 ppmv in about 100 years (and back in 100 years, if Salby is right?) would certainly be detected in the Vostok ice core record.

      Migration in ice cores was estimated in the “warm” (-23 degr.C) Siple Dome ice core:
      – a broadening with 10% of the resolution, i.e. 22 years i.s.o. 20 years at medium depth.
      – a broadening with 100% of the resolution, i.e. 40 years i.s.o. 20 years

      For the “cold” (-40 degr.C) Vostok and Dome C ice cores: no detectable migration.
      If there was the slightest migration, that would lead to a leveling of the ratio between CO2 and temperature (proxy) over glacials and interglacials over time. The ratio remains the same (8 ppmv/degr.C) for each period of 100,000 years back in time.

  20. The discussion of atmospheric CO2 here and at WUWT, as a result of the Murry Salby presentation, has been fascinating. There have been a number of people on noth these blogs who have made a strong case using substantial data and thoughtful analysis that Murry Salby is likely correct: the observed rise in atmospheric CO2 rise is from temperature-driven non-man-made CO2, not from the addition of man-made CO2 on top of an otherwise “in equilibrium” carbon cycle.

    I can see if one accepts ice-core data as incontrovertible evidence of a 280 PPM equilibrium (which, absent man-made CO2, continues to the present time), then one would not have to dig very deep to conclude man-made CO2 explains the rise. Doing so, of course, could cut short more detailed examination of the carbon cycle that could lead one to doubt that conclusion.

    Dr. Curry, I urge you to read the collective analyses of: MD Smith, Doc Martyn, Edim, Fred H. Haynie, P Wilson here and at WUWT.

    What strikes me is what these commenters suggest the various carbon cycle graphics I have seen — and that have been presented as “textbook” — are barely rough guesses that have no incontrovertible measurement behind them.

    The “mass balance” argument has been shown to be simplistic in the extreme. Yet, those who accept the consensus (I guess that’s what I have to call it), seem to believe that idea is bedrock to the consensus conclusion.

    It would be great if you could entice a scientist who is well-steeped in carbon cycle research to comment on what this thread (and associated comments at WUWT) has offered as counter-argument to the consensus because I find it hard to believe serious scientists are convinced of the explanation that man-made CO2 explains the measured atmospheric CO2 increases in the last ~40 years unless they can point out how these various considerations have been thoroughly analyzed and shown wanting.

    My request of that scientist would be to assume, for the sake of argument, that ice-core records cannot be trusted and that one cannot assume CO2 => warming. With those caveats, what would he/ she make of the data and analyses presented that argues against the consensus of man-made CO2 => CO2 rise?

    If, under those caveats, the data/ analyses/ arguments could hold, then one must beg the question regarding ice-core data and begging the consequent re: the cause of global warming.

    Maybe “real scientists” do not want to get into science discussions on blogs, but, if so, we are all the poorer. Maybe we’ll just have to wait until we get Salby’s paper and whatever responses it might generate in the literature. Unfortunately, those discussions tend to be less informative than what might be had here were scientists willing to teach us. After all, isn’t that what we expect our University-based scientists to be, ultimately: teachers?

    • Hi JPSF

      Personally, I would prefer to wait for Salby’s published paper before we get the ‘expert opinion’ otherwise we are just going to hear a restatement of the existing position on the carbon cycle. It is easy to refute an idea before it has been explained properly! In this case patience will be a virtue.

    • I find it hard to believe serious scientists are convinced of the explanation that man-made CO2 explains the measured atmospheric CO2 increases in the last ~40 years unless they can point out how these various considerations have been thoroughly analyzed and shown wanting.

      The “analysis,” if we can call it that, appears to be worthless and is riddled with obvious mistakes.

      There. You have a blog commenter and analyzing a blog commenter, the world is in balance — argument and counterargument come from equally qualified sources — and you didn’t have to waste a scientist’s time.

      There is a simple system for identifying the ideas and arguments that are worth the scientific communities’ time: peer review. Now, none of the worthless stuff you allude to would make it through peer review as it is. Still, that is the path you must follow, if you want to participate in the scientific discussion.

  21. Dr. Strangelove

    Atmospheric CO2 was below 300 ppm in the last 400,000 yrs. In the last 200 yrs, it went up from 280 ppm to 390 ppm. The industrial revolution began 200 yrs ago. Mere coincidence? Looks like human influence to me.

    Whether or not CO2 can fully account for global warming is another story. How much warming in the last 200 yrs is yet another story. Isn’t UC Berkeley trying to validate global temp. data?

    • ThinkingScientist

      I don’t think it is reasonable to make the assertion the CO2 was below 300 ppm for the last 400,000 years. The CO2 data from bubbles in ice cores may simply not be that reliable. It involves static time shifts in the data which are also compounded with a putative diffuse mixing process. A point measure of CO2 in the atmosphere today is not the same as a mixed average with low resolution and diffuse gas mixing from several hundred thousand years – the measurements are simply not that comparable but it suits the AGW argument to pretend that CO2 measured in ice cores are both accurate and point measures. Mixing within the ice core would smooth out extremes and there would be no way to estimate the true CO2 levels from mixed/smoothed data.

      This is why I wonder whether the “pre-industrial” 280 ppm is a meme that fits the AGW “storytelling” approach. At first sight it looks reasonable but just because a gas bubble sample in an ice core says 280 ppm doesn’t mean that was actually the CO2 concentration, which could vary annually, decadally or centuries too.

      How about this for a model that would also support Salby’s model:

      (a) CO2 responds to temperture relatively rapidly (years/decades?)
      (b) in the ice cores, the vertical mixing is so severe that it appears that CO2 lags temperature by 800 years or so
      (c) in the ice cores the vertical mixing is so severe that the extremes of CO2 variation over years/decades/centuries are simply averaged out.

      • i hadn’t considered the validity of the ‘pre industrial’ level, i’d always concentrated on the post industrial levels- though thinking about it now it’s obvious- the pre industrial are the ‘controls’. Without knowing the accuracy or validity of this measurment, it makes any pronouncements on absolute levels, problematic.

      • Richard S Courtney

        There could be no debate about the ice core data if that were all we had: one has to cope with what little one has.

        But the stomata data also exists, and it contradicts the ice core data both in terms of atmospheric CO2 concentration and variability in the past.

        The leaves of plants adjust the sizes of their stomata with changing atmospheric CO2 concentration and this permits the determination of past atmospheric CO2 concentrations by analysis of leaves preserved, for example, in peat bogs.
        (e.g. Retallack (2001), Wagner et al. (2004), Kouwenberg et al. (2003)).

        The disagreement of stomata data with the ice core data is clearly seen in all published studies of the stomata data. For example, as early as 1999 Wagner reported that studies of birch leaves indicated a rapid rise of atmospheric CO2 concentration from 260 to 327 ppmv (which is similar to the rise in the twentieth century) from late Glacial to Holocene conditions. This ancient rise of 67 ppmv in atmospheric CO2 concentration is indicated by the stomata data at a time when the ice core data indicate only 20 ppmv rise.

        Please note that this discrepancy in the indicted variation at that time is a factor of more than 3.

        This not to say that the stomata data can be trusted more than the ice core data. Both should be subject to questioning and doubt. But it is a direct proof that the ice core data are not the incontrovertible evidence of paleo atmospheric CO2 that many (including some on this blog) claim it to be.

        And it does show how ‘evidence’ is selected to fit a narrative by many (e.g. the IPCC) who fail to mention the stomata data or merely mention it together with unsubstantiated doubts of its validity while proclaiming certainty concerning the ice core data.

        Richard

        (full refs. Retallack G, Nature vol. 411 287 (2001), Wagener F, et al. Virtual Journal Geobiology, vol.3. Issue 9, Section 2B (2004), Kouenberg et al. American Journal of Botany, 90, pp 610-619 (2003), Wagner F et al. Science vol. 284 p 92 (1999)).

      • proxies are indeed problematic and should be (in my opinion) avoided wherever possible.

        Though as we don’t live in an ideal world…. We need to be rigorous and identify the number, severity and likelyhood of any external factors that may compromise the proxy.

        For example:
        – tree ring widths are subject to not just co2 levels, but temperature, precipitation and local habitat.
        -ice cores suffer from diffusion
        -stomata are subjected to many other factors.

        The relevance, or ‘weight’ of the proxies should then be ordered by these criteria. That’s before you even look at the quality, quantity of coverage of the data provided from said proxies.

        Frankly, it’s a mess.

      • ThinkingScientist

        Richard,

        Thanks for that – its certainly interesting. I think the uncertainty on paleo-CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere is substantial. I checked out the link above from Edim, which confirms many of my suspicions about the accuracy and reliability of ice core CO2 measurements.

        Its also worth checking out the paper by Beck on chemical assay measurements. Its not a great paper, but the author has clearly bothered to collect a lot real data and tried to analyse it. The graph on page 273 of the pdf is certainly worth looking at. (original EE page numbering – its actually only 25 pages long as a document!)

        The link is http://www.biomind.de/nogreenhouse/daten/EE%2018-2_Beck.pdf

      • Richard S Courtney

        ThinkingScientist:

        Yes, Beck’s work is good. I am familiar with it because I helped him turn the paper you cite into reasonable English for publication. And I regret his demise.

        Richard

      • ThinkingScientist

        Small world to find out you helped on the editing. I was not aware that he had died – that is sad news.

      • Hi TS,
        I think you will find that the main reason that Beck’s work is considered “unreliable” is because the samples cannot be shown to be credible estimates of atmospheric CO2 concentration after mixing. If you go out and take CO2 samples from a near-surface station today, you will likely get a measurement somewhere in the range 250 to 600 ppm depending on exactly where the station is situated. If you keep repeating the measurements at the same time of day, you find that they show a correlation with windspeed at the time they were taken. At high enough windspeeds the measurements tend towards atmospheric concentration after mixing. A number of experiments have been carried out which confirm this.

        I believe that Beck’s work lends some indicative support to the view that there has been significantly more historic variation in CO2 than is normally credited but cannot be viewed as definitive in a quantitative sense.

      • Richard S Courtney

        Paul-K:

        You say;
        “I believe that Beck’s work lends some indicative support to the view that there has been significantly more historic variation in CO2 than is normally credited but cannot be viewed as definitive in a quantitative sense.”

        I agree. However, none of the proxy data are “definitive in a quantitative sense”, too.

        Richard

      • Ferdinand Engelbeen

        I had a lot of discussions with the late Ernst Beck over the years. While I do admire the tremendous amount of work he has done, I only can disagree with his conclusions. Most of the historical measuremens were done over land, near huge sources and sinks. The values taken on ships or coastal with wind from the seaside were all around the ice cores for the same period.
        See further:
        http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/beck_data.html

      • Dr. Strangelove

        Granted that ice core data are unreliable as you claim, atmospheric CO2 is secondary issue to global warming because it is an attributed cause. The primary issue is – was there really warming in the last century? If so, was it unprecedented? Which implies it cannot be easily explained by natural variations so we have to look for unnatural causes.

        I assume the first question is uncontroversial despite UC Berkeley effort to validate temp. data. The world has warmed in the last century. The second question is more controversial because of the so-called Medieval Warm Period. Are historical account and proxy temp. data reliable?

        I suppose sea level rise is highly correlated to sea temp. increase due to thermal expansion of water. Sea level rose 20 cm in the last century. Between 15,000 to 8,000 yrs ago, sea level rose on ave. 142 cm per century. This indicates a global warming more pronounced than the 20th century.

        If the recent global warming is not unprecedented, it can be attributed to natural causes since we are in an interglacial period and the world has been warming in the last 18,000 yrs and sea level rose 120 m in the same period.

      • Dr S –
        The second question is more controversial because of the so-called Medieval Warm Period. Are historical account and proxy temp. data reliable?

        From 2 different perspectives – both history and archaeology, the MWP was warmer than today. That has been questioned ONLY by climate science and the IPCC and ONLY since Mann’s 1998 hockey stick. It is still not questioned by professional historians and/or archaeologists.

        Yes,, I know – there were no thermometers. But there are sufficient secondary lines of evidence and proxies to prove the case. This has been a particular interest of mine for over 20 years and what turned me from a passive observer of AGW into an active opponent.

      • Dr. Strangelove

        Jim, you are aware that the common rebuttal to that is the MWP was regional not global. I’m not sure about the merit of that argument though.

        Using sea level as proxy to global temp. can be a double edged sword. It may be for or against AGW. If the sea rise 8,000 yrs ago was due to melting of land ice, the global warming and sea rise in the 20th was unprecedented bec. it was due to thermal expansion.

        The heat required for thermal expansion of water is 140 times greater than the heat of fusion of same mass of ice. Hence, the 20 cm rise in sea level in last century required more heat than the 142 cm rise 8,000 yrs ago.

        If this hypothesis is true, seawater salinity should have decreased by 0.1% 8,000 yrs ago. Unfortunately such small change may not be detectable today to confirm or reject this hypothesis.

      • I don’t think it is reasonable to make the assertion the CO2 was below 300 ppm for the last 400,000 years.

        It’s not an assertion. It’s a conclusion supported by multiple independent lines of evidence. Are you familiar with this evidence? Can you summarize it for us?

      • It’s not an assertion.

        Of course it is. Your multiple lines of evidence are an assertion as well.

    • “Isn’t UC Berkeley trying to validate global temp. data?”

      We don’t talk about them since they warned us their results are likely to agree with the other reconstructions. Richard Muller, the Salby of 2010, is banished to the outer darkness with much wailing and gnashing of teeth. So saidth the Watts.

  22. ThinkingScientist

    I consider AGW to be a hypothesis. I think there are several data sets available which are very difficult (if not impossible) to reconcile with this hypothesis. Ice core data is one of them. CO2 residence time is another.

    My main difficulty with AGW is that the forward predictions have not been validated. Eg, in 2001 the IPCC gave predicted sea level rises by the year 2100 of between 0.09 and 0.88 mm. (Contrary to what Al Gore, King and others said about 20 ft in a 100 years – that figure is falsifiable by just going on holiday to the beach at the same place once every 5 years!). The IPCC numbers are a non-prediction from the models because they include a value which is 2-3 times lower than the current/historic established rate of sealevel rise. So sealevel as an indicator of climate change actually falls foul of the null hypothesis from their own models.

    In the IPCC TAR in 2001 no one predicted a temperature plateau for the next ten years or so.

    The tropospheric hotspot seems to be very elusive.

    And so on. The shenanigans of the hockey stick and Mann are absurd and bordering on comedy – the simple clincher for me was the test of Mann’s algorithm by McIntyre/McKittrick using red noise producing hockey sticks in 99% of cases.

    Eric Steig et al’s 2009 paper on apparent warming in Western Antarctica is another good example – the graphs by RyanO showing the sensitivities to added trends in the data demonstrate clearly Steig’s model is an artefact of the method, nothing more.

    The corrections to the GHCN global temperature data set over the period 1910 to 1990 have a strong upward slope t them that I can see no reason for (I verified this calculation for myself from the full GHCN dataset, but others have published it on the internet as well). The slope of the temperature correction to GHCN is nearly half of the apparent temperature rise in the 20 th century. Why should this be the case?

    My list could go on. There are too many papers out there clutching at the extremes of weird statistics to try and “prove” AGW, yet a simple cross-correlation of the Vostok ice core data for temperature and CO2 estimates shows a lag of 800 years in the wrong direction. Yet somehow Al Gore uses the same plot to convince people CO2 causes warming. The argument is irrational. Even more amazing is how many continue to belive in such nonsense.

    A quick look at the last 10,000 years of the GISP2 ice core variability (the plateau part – never mind the extremes in the Younger Dryas!) should be enough to convince anyone that natural climate variability easily accounts for the paltry 0.3 – 0.8 degC putatively estimated for the 2oth century.

    • At 9:33 AM on 8 August, ThinkingScientist writes:

      I consider AGW to be a hypothesis.

      Frequent commenter on Dr. Curry’s site, Dr. Jeff Glassman, would disagree with you.

      In an article for the lay audience several years ago, “Conjecture, Hypothesis, Theory, Law: The Basis of Rational Argument,” Dr. Glassman provided useful definitions for these terms in scientific discourse. I extract:

      A conjecture is an incomplete model, or an analogy to another domain. … A hypothesis is a model based on all data in its specified domain, with no counterexample, and incorporating a novel prediction yet to be validated by facts. … A theory is a hypothesis with at least one nontrivial validating datum. … A law is a theory that has received validation in all possible ramifications, and to known levels of accuracy.

      Pertinent to the subject at hand, Dr. Glassman went on in that article to conclude that:

      Just as intelligent design is a threshold question between nonscience and conjectures, anthropogenic global warming (AGW) is a threshold question between conjectures and hypotheses. AGW is a centuries-old conjecture elevated to an established belief by a little clique of quacks who proclaim themselves the Consensus on Climate, guardians of the vault of exclusive knowledge. Does this sound familiar? Is the Consensus patterned after the Council of Trent? As a matter of science, as opposed to a matter of belief, the AGW conjecture is gathering more contradictory evidence than supporting. The layman can test it and understand its failings by applying just the few principles outlined here.

      • John Whitman

        August 8, 2011 at 10:35 am
        Rich Matarese quoted Dr. Glassman as saying,

        Dr. Glassman said, “”””” [ . . . ] As a matter of science, as opposed to a matter of belief, the AGW conjecture is gathering more contradictory evidence than supporting. The layman can test it and understand its failings by applying just the few principles outlined here.“”””” [JW emphasis]

        —————–

        Rich Matarese,

        Thanks for reminding me of Dr. Glassman’s piece.

        I think that is exactly the point that needs to be communicated to the climate science community who erroneously seem to think that the increasing lack of trust in climate science is due primarily to inadequate ‘consensus’ science communication to the public.

        I think the cause of increasing lack of trust in climate science is predominately the lack of integrity found by people outside of climate science looking in; by laymen applying fundamental rational analysis to some piece of science.

        The internet blogs have increased the efficiency of the layman’s fundamental rational analysis.

        This is fun. N’est ce pas?

        John

    • A. C. Osbornr

      That is a nicely put together critique.

    • I consider AGW to be a hypothesis. I think there are several data sets available which are very difficult (if not impossible) to reconcile with this hypothesis. Ice core data is one of them.

      Two hours prior to this post you said ice core data was not reliable:

      The CO2 data from bubbles in ice cores may simply not be that reliable. It involves static time shifts in the data which are also compounded with a putative diffuse mixing process. . . . . Mixing within the ice core would smooth out extremes and there would be no way to estimate the true CO2 levels from mixed/smoothed data.

      Confusion over basics like this makes it hard to take your claim to be a scientist seriously.

      Then again, Salby is unquestionably a scientist, so I suppose we can only conclude that not all scientists are as bright as we might wish.

      • Robert –
        Salby is unquestionably a scientist, so

        Nice of you to admit that.

        I suppose we can only conclude that not all scientists are as bright as we might wish.

        Exactly. But like a horse race – which one is a winner. And it’s not always “yours”.

      • ThinkingScientist

        You are conflating two different aspects of ice core data. I do not think that the absolute values of ice core CO2 in ppm are reliable and therefore cannot be used to justify the claims that pre-industrial / inter-glacial atmospheric concentration is 280 ppm.

        The much more fundamental problem for AGW with ice cores is the 800 year lag in the wrong direction. The lag is the same whether temperatures are increasing or decreasing. If the ice core is believed then the lag has to be unequivocal evidence that the temperature / CO2 response observed in ice cores directly contradicts the proposed AGW model that CO2 changes temperature. AGW has to explain (a) how the CO2 data can be taken as reliable evidence for 280 ppm atmospheric concentration and at the same time accept (b) that the cause/effect of temperature / CO2 response contradicts.

        AGW cannot have its cake and eat it.

      • The much more fundamental problem for AGW with ice cores is the 800 year lag in the wrong direction.

        You don’t understand why the lag is there? Do you not even grasp the most basic aspects of climate science?

        Basic mistakes like this make you hard to take seriously.

      • Your inability to do more than make incoherent spittle flecked false accusations at skeptics tells everyone how seriously to take you.

      • Sorry, one more thing, I got a little distracted by that vintage 1997 denial fallacy.

        I am not “conflating two different aspects of ice core data.” If you believe that CO2 levels are “smeared” across different time periods, distorting the readings, then you cannot claim to know precisely when a given elevation began. An “800 year lag” is meaningless if you believe CO2 bleeds into adjacent layers of ice.

        A good rule for you and other “skeptics” would be the one they teach science fiction writers: be as absurd and far-fetched as you like, but try to make your imaginary world self-consistent.

      • Robert –
        I am not “conflating two different aspects of ice core data.” If you believe that CO2 levels are “smeared” across different time periods, distorting the readings, then you cannot claim to know precisely when a given elevation began. An “800 year lag” is meaningless if you believe CO2 bleeds into adjacent layers of ice.

        That’s nonsense.

        We’ve now found another of your areas of ignorance.

        You’ve apparently never learned to put brain in gear before engaging mouth

      • “800 year lag” is actually pretty variable and very likely meaningless. Or maybe there’s something to it. We don’t know.

      • ThinkingScientist

        If AGW proponents state that ice core demonstrates/is evidence that the peak interglacial CO2 concentration in the atmosphere does not exceed 300 ppm then they are accepting the ice core CO2 as reliable. They then have the problem of explaining how the temperature/CO2 cause/effect is reversed compared to what the AGW theory expects. They cannot have their cake and eat it.

        On the other hand, if like me you think the ice core CO2 measurements may be unreliable you can reject them as evidence for maximum interglacial atmospheric CO2 concentrations, simply by saying they are too smooth to see the rapid changes. Or you could go further and say that the values are unreliable, as is their dating, but in general they follow a response curve similar to temperture. That might be consistent with Salby. For AGW to take the same view they would have to expain what causes cyclical CO2 changes related to Milankovich period events. I don’t think even RealClimate has tried to stretch its ice core temperature / CO2 lag explanation fantasy that far.

      • ThinkingScientist

        should have typed:

        I don’t think even RealClimate has tried to stretch its ice core temperature / CO2 lag explanation fantasy that far.

      • They then have the problem of explaining how the temperature/CO2 cause/effect is reversed compared to what the AGW theory expects.

        It isn’t reversed; you’ve completely misunderstood the theory.

        This is really basic stuff. You should read on it a little more.

      • Robert –
        Remember – Put brain in gear before engaging mouth

        You keep forgetting that.

      • ThinkingScientist

        Robert, just so we can be clear. AGW proposes the argument that CO2 causes temperature to change. To see this in a graph would mean that CO2 leads temperature as a function of time. This means that in the same graph, according to AGW, temperature must therefore lag CO2.

        In data from ice cores the CO2 lags, the temperature leads. This means that the ice core observations of CO2 and temperature show cause and effect to be the opposite of that predicted by AGW theory.

        Some AGW supporters try and get around this by saying first its a bit of temperature increase (a “trigger” event of some sort), then CO2 gets going, then this takes over and accelertaes the warming. This idea does not fit the ice core observations either because (a) CO2 lags temperature consistently whether warming out of an ice age or slowly cooling into an ice age and (b) if the CO2 is so effective at warming how do you get back to an ice age again? The only glimmer of possibility for AGW from the ice core data is that CO2 does give warming (which theory says it should a bit) but its a small effect (which several serious atmospheric physcicists agree with) and therefore climate sensitivity to CO2 is low (for which there is also other evidential support). The best tha AGW can get out of ice core data is that if there is warming effect from CO2 it must be very small.

  23. I tried to post a comment below Robert’s comment about being gentle on David Wojick – it appeared out of thread above.

    The gist was I don’t care what David’s background is, he makes good points more frequently than anyone else on this blog. Due in part to simplicity though, but not solely.

    I don’t necessarily agree with David that the net warming effect of industrial CO2 release will be ~ 0, but let’s press on.

    Regarding Salby’s talk, I listened to the podcast.

    He makes good points but at the end dances around a question someone asks about the net flux to the atmosphere in proportion to the human emitted flux. So while the arguments seen elsewhere on blogs that Salby fails to consider conservation of mass are wrong, I don’t see that he has proved anthro CO2 to be insignificant or anything like it. It’s very interesting though. So are his points echoed here about uncertainty in the ice core data.

    • I didn’t have the change to listen to the podcast until today. After listening to it my conclusion is similar. He tells about evidence on the correlation between temperatures ans the short term variations around the trend of the CO2 concentration. Other sources (including IPCC reports) have presented the conclusion that the short term variations are largely due to tropical biosphere and soil. This might explain well the observations of Solby as this explanation would predict the correlation between the rate of CO2 increase and the ratio C13/C12.

      Thus the most natural conclusion is that the short them variation is due to biosphere and soil while the trend is due to human influence. I didn’t notice anything in the empirical observations reported in the podcast that would not fit this interpretation.

      • Pekka – Like you, I interpret the correlations between temperature (or soil moisture) and CO2 growth to be short term effects, and the CO2 trend of the past century to be predominantly or almost exclusively anthropogenic – there is an abundance of evidence for this that would be inconsistent with any other explanation, as discussed in the earlier thread, with no need to repeat it here.

        This begs the question, however, as to what might be wrong with Salby’s argument. We won’t be able to evaluate the argument until the paper appears, but the podcast offers some clues. I suspect that what Salby did was to evaluate the interannual fluctuations, possibly using detrended data, and then derive an expression for the regression of annual CO2 growth rate against temperature change – either that or something similar. Using the magnitude of this effect, he applied the twentieth century temperature trend to CO2 and concluded that it explained the CO2 rise, with no need for any other mechanism to account for the CO2.

        This is speculative, but if my surmise is correct, it would account for the short term observations and also explain why the method is inapplicable to the long term trend. In essence, any temperature/CO2 effect from short term data is likely to be characterized by a rate that maintains its value for only a limited interval, because as atmospheric CO2 rises in response to temperature, the rise in atmospheric CO2 partial pressure will oppose further efflux from reservoirs, so that an increased growth rate will decline back toward previous values. The reservoirs involved in the observed effects probably do most of this over an interval not greatly exceeding five years. If Salby’s method assumes that a temperature-induced CO2 growth rate increase is maintained throughout the entire century of observation, it would greatly overestimate the aggregate effect. (As a hypothetical example, if a 0.04 C temperature increase in year 1 were assumed to elevate CO2 growth by 0.1 ppmv CO2/year for the next 100 years, it would contribute 10 ppmv to the total rise, but if it only operated for about 5 years, the true contribution would be 0.5 ppmv.)

        Perhaps this is very different from what Salby actually did, but the podcast suggests that his approach was not too dissimilar to the above, particularly since a more appropriate approach accounting for a decay in initial growth rate increases would probably require fairly sophisticated modeling, and the podcast doesn’t suggest this. When the paper appears, we will have a better idea.

      • To my limited understanding, this seems like the best analysis of the invisible argument to date. I have my money on Fred.

        Interestingly, this would seem to be the same mistake used in Spenser’s climate sensitivity analysis. I wonder if we are reaching a point where we can catalog the most common fallacies in “skeptic” papers? Because a number of them appear to recur over and over.

      • “Having money on” is the name of this game. I am not convinced the line of reasoning advanced by Salby is completely wrong, but even when the paper comes out I will be surprised if it demonstrates anything other than a possibility that temperature increase may have a greater impact on 20th century CO2 concentrations than previously believed.

        Let’s say the dynamic equilibrium of the carbon cycle works a little more like Salby is postulating and a little less like IPCC has presented. What happens? Past CO2 increases in recent years can still be argued endlessly w/r/t attribution. Prediction just gets harder…

        I disagree with Salby when someone asks him in the podcast for his predictions of the future; he leaves that for others. Well – OK THIS study doesn’t make predictions – but predictive skill is a lot of what modern science is about.

      • I have been looking at the overview paper of Le Quere et al Trends in the sources and sinks of carbon dioxide which can be found with the help of Google.

        It would be interesting to see estimates of the variation of the C13/C12 ratio calculated based on the overview of the current understanding presented in that paper. My guess is that the estimate would be in reasonable agreement with the observations reported by Salby. There might be significant uncertainties in the calculations. Thus the Salby observations would perhaps not provide strong additional support for the main stream views, but my guess is that they might as well be considered as supporting the view as being in slight contradiction with them.

        This is of course only a guess, but what else do we have until such a comparison has been done.

  24. I tried to post a comment below Robert’s comment about being gentle on David Wojick – it appeared out of thread above.

    The gist was I don’t care what David’s background is, he makes good points more frequently than anyone else on this blog. Due in part to simplicity though, but not solely.

    I don’t necessarily agree with David that the net warming effect of industrial CO2 release will be ~ 0, but let’s press on.

    Regarding Salby’s talk, I listened to the podcast.

    He makes good points but at the end dances around a question someone asks about the net flux to the atmosphere in proportion to the human emitted flux. So while the arguments seen elsewhere on blogs that Salby fails to consider conservation of mass are wrong, I don’t see that he has proved anthro CO2 to be insignificant or anything like it. It’s very interesting though. So are his points echoed here about uncertainty in the ice core data.

  25. Richard S Courtney

    Rich Matrese:

    I apologise for my lack of clarity.

    I was pointing out that the assertion of ThinkingScientist that said;
    “One of the great difficulties I have with the hypothesis of AGW is that there does not appear to be any way to falsify the theory except by waiting for about 50 – 100 years.”
    is an untrue assertion.

    Inconvenient? Yes. A great difficulty? No.

    So, it is an untrue assertion.

    You replied to that and then I said, “For clarity, I state that I agree all you say.”

    I hope any misunderstanding is now corrected.

    Richard

    • Richard S Courtney

      God alone knows why that appeared where it did.

      I will try to post it in the right place (and try to stop cussing at this system).

      Richard

    • At 9:37 AM on 8 August, Richard S Courtney does me the courtesy of clarifying an earlier post of his, to the effect that he holds the assertion of ThinkingScientist

      “One of the great difficulties I have with the hypothesis of AGW is that there does not appear to be any way to falsify the theory except by waiting for about 50 – 100 years”

      – to be “an untrue assertion” because Dr. Courtney considers the falsification of the AGW conjecture to be merely “Inconvenient,” and not “A great difficulty.”

      I greatly appreciate Dr. Courtney‘s thoughtfulness. As a married man, confusion is my default state in life.

      Nice to get some clarity somewhere.

  26. Testing trying to post at the end of this thread?

  27. @- Rich Matarese | August 8, 2011 at 7:37 am | Reply
    “Can anyone reading here say that Karl Popper – emphatically “not a scientist” – doesn’t stand as a towering figure in determining the way we “do” science today? ”

    Yes.
    While his contribution was of great interest to philosophers and the liberal arts crowd it really didn’t do much for the practical scientists.
    For a start it turns out to be extremely difficult and rare that a definitive experiment can explicitly falsify a hypothesis. Experimental results are usually partial, open to multiple interpritation and can at best form PART of a consilience of evidence. Popper’s idealized falsification criterion of epistemology may look good as a abstract concept of science, but fails dismally in the real world.

  28. Who says there’s nothing interesting at RealClimate?

    Kooiti Masuda says:

    “It seems that the argument raised by Salby (except technical details) is similar to what a group of Japanese AGW deniers advocates for several years. Atsushi Tsuchida is a retired physicist and I think his contribution in the 1970s to the non-equilibrium steady-state thermodynamic thinking about environment and resources is positive and remarkable even though both mainstream economists and physicists regard him as a heretic. Kuniaki Kondo is an engineer and maintains a web site http://www.env01.net/ which advocates Tsuchida’s and his own views. They are self-convinced anti-nuclear-power activists, and they claim themselves as grass-roots environmentalists rather than supporters of the capitalist regime. Note that, in Japan perhaps like in France, promotion of nuclear power, rather than of fossil fuel, is associated with the establishment, so that AGW skepticism tends to align with left-wing rather than right-wing criticisms. (Incidentally, Kondo also advocates against development of wind power facilities, ironically very much like Lovelock does.)

    They found a picture, originally made by Keeling in the 1980s, of band-pass filtered records of CO2 concentration and temperature, which shows that changes of CO2 concentration lag those of temperature. So they consider that the temperature is the cause and CO2 concentration is the effect. They did some data analysis. They found good correlation between annual increase of CO2 concentration and temperature. They wrote a paper (in Japanese) and submitted to the bulletin of the Meteorological Society of Japan. MSJ rejected it as a result of peer reviews. Tsuchida sued the MSJ claiming that MSJ rejected their paper on political grounds. The courts ruled against him, but he tries again.

    Apparently Tsuchida does not forget the conservation of mass, but he believes that fossil-fuel CO2 can easily be absorbed somewhere, and that the CO2 flux between the ocean and the atmosphere is determined by the surface temperature. We cannot convince him that his theory does not hold, while he cannot convince the judge.

    Tsuchida also claims that since the mean residence time of CO2 in the atmosphere is around 3 years, the effect of fossil-fuel CO2 should damp with this time constant after emission. I have not directly discussed with him about that, but I encountered several people entrenched in that view. They take hold on such expression in standard texts as “nearly half of fossil-fuel CO2 remains in the atmosphere” and say that it contradicts the established knowledge about the residence time. I needed many rounds to realize the problem. Tracking a piece of material (e.g. a carbon atom) and evaluating mass balance are different things. Even if an “anthropogenic” CO2 molecule go to the ocean, a “natural” CO2 molecule can fill the place, then the anthropogenic effect to the mass of CO2 in the atmosphere does not change.

    I think that AGW deniers are likely tempted to take their position, but it likely makes self-contradiction in their arguments.

    First, Tsuchida and Kondo take the surface temperature records compiled by NOAA or Japan Meteorological Agency for granted. They just deny anthropogenic global warming as a mechanism. This argument is not compatible with denial of global warming as a phenomenon.

    Second, if they adopt the theory that “temperature causes CO2 flux”, and if they consider that it was globally warm in the “medieval warm period”, then CO2 concentration in that period must have been as high as present. They may consider that compilation by E.-G. Beck is more reliable than Antarctic ice core records. But then they cannot use the lag between CO2 concentration and temperature (actually isotope ratio) in the Antarctic ice core during the glacial cycles as a reliable support to their theory.”

  29. Stephen Wilde

    I think that this exchange between me and A. N. Other on another site explains the issue very clearly:

    A.N. Other said:

    “I’m going to try just one more analogy to try and convince you that if humans stopped emitting CO2, the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere would decrease (I notice no other sceptics responded to my challenge that if they disagree with me, they should post saying so).

    You have a bank account, which starts with £10,000 in it (though that amount is irrelevant for this example), into which gets paid your weekly salary, say £500. This represents natural sources. Each week you have bills to pay amounting to an average of £510 – sometimes it’s £505, sometimes £515, but always within those bounds. This represents natual sinks. You do a couple of hours of odd jobs at the weekend to make up the shortfall, getting yourself an extra £20. This represents the human contribution of CO2.

    This is a cosy enough situation, with your bank balance going up by an average of £10 a week, and it goes up every week without fail because out of your £520 income, no more than £515 and no less than £505 goes out. This is analagous to the fact that although the annual rise in CO2 varies, it’s always a rise and always less than the human contribution.

    Then one day you damage your leg falling off your rocket scooter (hey, it’s my analogy and I can do what I like), and you can’t do your odd jobs any more. Now you’re losing between £5 and £15 every week. That small contribution that was keeping you in the black is gone! Similarly, cut off the anthro contribution and the rest of the sources/sinks wont magically change, and the numbers tell us that CO2 would start decreasing.

    Go on, try and prove me wrong. Arm waving wont do it.”

    To which the appropriate response is:

    “That is the approach of Tamino and Ferdinand Engelbeen and is the general consensus up to now and it is that which Salby challenges.

    So take your analogy and factor in that my Bank and two other Banks at variable times put in and take out vast sums of money bearing little or no relation to my money movements and being an order of magnitude or two greater.

    Similarly the oceanic sink/source and the biosphere sink/source and according to Salby the soil moisture sink/source are doing just that and my puny changes count for nothing.”

    Checkmate ?

    • andrew adams

      No. Imagine that after a couple of years of your doing those odd jobs and getting that extra £20 a week, as well as having those larger amounts going in and out, you check your bank statement and see that you now have £11,000. You know that those off jobs have earned you £2,000 in that time, so you can calculate that regardless of the larger amounts going in and out over which you have no control it is still clear that you would not have that extra £1,000 in your account unless you had been doing those odd jobs.

      • Stephen Wilde

        But in fact those other payments in and out themselves vary substantially and take the £20 into account in setting an account balance previously set by them so your £20 gets absorbed into whatever the three Bankers decide between themselves.

        The account balance permitted is set by them not you.

        In the real world your CO2 gets mopped up by any combination of the sinks which then change their response to the other sinks and sources accordingly. The Bankers confiscate your money and share it between themselves to keep the ratios between themselves stable.

        Most likely there is then a bit more permanent sequestration from the fractionally more active biosphere so your bit goes either to coal and oil under the land or to limestone under the sea and the CO2 Bankers carry on undisturbed as if you were not there.

        The same applies to extra emissions from volcanos. They never make a permanent change to the amount of CO2 in the air do they ?

        It just goes to more sequestration until the usual balance is restored.

      • Richard S Courtney

        This ‘bank balance analogy’ keeps coming up.

        I would be grateful if someone were to explain what relevance it has to discussion of the carbon cycle and the observed change to CO2 in the air.

        All money payments in and out of a bank account are known.
        CO2 sources and sinks to and from the air are not quantified.
        What we know is that humans have added CO2 to the air and the amount of CO2 in the air has changed by an amount which differs from the CO2 put in by humans.

        If you had in a bank statement that only reported
        (a) how much the contents of the bank account had changed
        and
        (b) your salary payments into it
        then that would tell you nothing about the payments in and out of the account.

        Indeed, there may be some payments in (e.g. social security payments) or out (e.g. income tax) that are affected by the salary input. So, such a limited bank statement cannot indicate what the change it reports would have been in the absence of a salary or a change to the salary.

        So, the change reported by the bank statement may have been more, less, or of opposite sign if the salary had not existed. The magnitude of the change in the absence of the salary is entirely dependent on how the payments in and out are (or are not) affected by and/or respond to the salary input.

        Similarly, all we know of the carbon cycle is how much the CO2 in the air has changed and approximately what the anthropogenic CO2 input is. This tells us nothing about how other inputs and outputs have changed or what they would have been in the absence of the anthropogenic input.

        Therefore, it tells us nothing about how the CO2 in the air would have changed in the absence of the CO2 input.

        Simply, the ‘bank account anology’ is useless except as a demonstration that our limited knowledge of the carbon cycle prevents us knowing what atmospheric CO2 concentration would have been in the absence of the anthropogenic CO2 emission.

        But we knew that anyway.

        Richard

      • Stephen Wilde

        Thank you Richard. A useful extension of the discussion despite all analogies having limitations.

        The accounting analogy keeps coming up from Ferdinand, Tamino and many others on other less well informed sites so I was seeking to meet it head on which you have helped me to do.

      • I think a lot more is known about the carbon cycle than you claim.

        http://www.pnas.org/content/104/48/18925.full.pdf+html?sid=52351502-9829-4bc8-8664-c34983555a97

        Just an example, plenty more where that came from.

        You can not say we don’t know what the carbon sinks and sources are, when in fact the information is at your fingertips.

      • Richard S Courtney

        bob droege:

        So you claim you know the sources and sinks. Good, you are the man I need.

        Please tell me the CO2 exchange rate between ocean surface layer and deep ocean, and how that measurement was obtained. You are the first person or organisation who I have heard claims to know that important datum which, of course, directly affects limits to rates of ocean/air CO2 interaction.

        And I have a few other similar questions I would be grateful if you were to answer them.

        Richard

      • First you need to tell me the relevance of that question to the overall climate change debate.

        But you may find early attempts at answering that question here:

        http://www.pnas.org/content/104/9/3037.full?sid=2cdb5312-7c88-4ae7-a98e-5b32538bd56a

        You said we know nothing about the rates of the various sinks, and now you want the specifics of one specific area which is irrelevant to the discussion at hand.

        It doesn’t matter how much CO2 is going from the surface layer to the deep ocean if we know that the oceans are net sinks.

        We know that both the terrestrial vegetation and the oceans absorb CO2, so where else could the CO2 be coming from?

      • Courtney is using a typical ploy of appealing to uncertainty in order to claim we know nothing, and generate doubt on a particular question where there is none (i.e., that the recent CO2 increase is anthropogenic). Energy and Environment is not a proper forum to attempt to counteract these claims, given its well-documented lack of quality review and objectivity in the climate change debate. Personally, I do not think Courtney is honest, so I have no intention of entertaining him, but other people may have a different view and are certainly welcome to read various documents and reports and make up their own minds. But the carbon cycle community has been far from impressed.

        I am not a carbon cycle expert, or even a consistently interested onlooker, so I am not in a place to know where to find papers or data on every specific question. That is why experts have e-mail addresses. The IPCC AR4 Chapter 7 is a good ¨broad resource¨ on this topic, and some of their citations seem to be to comprehensive texts on the matter. These include
        http://www.up.ethz.ch/people/ngruber/textbook
        http://books.google.com/books/about/The_global_carbon_cycle.html?id=2aq-eT3HK4oC

        and others…

      • Richard S Courtney

        Colose:

        I see you are still trolling. Well, it is obvious that you need the practice because your continued use of falsehoods and logical fallacies is not effective.

        You say;
        “Courtney is using a typical ploy of appealing to uncertainty in order to claim we know nothing, and generate doubt on a particular question where there is none (i.e., that the recent CO2 increase is anthropogenic).”

        No! That is a clear falsehood.

        Earlier in this thread Jim D wrote:
        “Interannual and annual variability could be interesting to measure in real time. The annual average sources, sinks, fluxes and reservoirs can be found in text books. To this extent it is understood.”
        And I responded by writing;
        “Estimates of those variables exist. Measurements do not. Indeed, most of them would be difficult if not impossible to measure.
        Importantly, the rate constants for most of the sources and sinks (which are misleading terms) are not known and it is not possible even to estimate them.
        In these circumstances, any claim that “The carbon cycle is well understood” is a delusion.”

        Now, in this part of the thread, bob droege has claimed to me;
        “You can not say we don’t know what the carbon sinks and sources are, when in fact the information is at your fingertips.”

        I gave him the courtesy of believing him and asked him to state one datum and how it was measured, adding that there were other data I would also like to know.

        And his response was to avoid the question saying;
        “It doesn’t matter how much CO2 is going from the surface layer to the deep ocean if we know that the oceans are net sinks”.

        So, somebody claimed there is important knowledge which exists and I want to have.
        But when asked to provide that information he can’t.
        And you claim that my request was “a typical ploy of appealing to uncertainty in order to claim we know nothing”.

        The fact is that on this subject we know almost knothing, and your drivle is an attempt to hide the fact that we know almost nothing.

        Richard

      • There is no doubt that many details of the carbon cycle are poorly known and some very poorly. At the same time there is also very little doubt that we known the main lines of what has happened over the last 50 years and what is going to happen for the CO2 released to the atmosphere over the coming decades.

        When the consideration is extended to periods of over 100 years then my reading of the scientific papers tells that much less is known than some of the papers tell in their conclusions. The estimates presented on the CO2 that remains in the atmosphere after 500 years or 1000 years seem high. My impression is that many important mechanisms are not included in the estimate. In those papers the scientists have chosen to assume that those mechanisms are weak that are not known well. The approach is like a mirror image of that of skeptics, who similarly choose to ignore the most realistic estimates as suits best to their goals.

      • Richard S Courtney

        Pekka Pirilä:

        I agree with almost all that you say, but I dispute one point.

        You say;
        “At the same time there is also very little doubt that we known the main lines of what has happened over the last 50 years and what is going to happen for the CO2 released to the atmosphere over the coming decades.”

        Given that, as you say,
        “There is no doubt that many details of the carbon cycle are poorly known and some very poorly”,
        I would like to know where you purchased the crystal ball which tells you;

        “At the same time there is also very little doubt … what is going to happen for the CO2 released to the atmosphere over the coming decades.”

        I want to know if the “CO2 released to the atmosphere over the coming decades” from human activities will affect the atmospheric CO2 concentration to increase it and by how much, or to reduce it and by how much, or have no discernible effect.

        Richard

      • Richard,

        First I clarify that I meant that we can estimate with high level of certainty, what will happen to the CO2 concentration over a period of a few decades. The emissions of that period have some influence on that, but I didn’t mean that we would know equally well, how the emissions of that period will affect the concentration in 100 years from now and even less, whether they have a discernible influence 500 years from now. I don’t believe that the influence would then be 20% of the immediate influence, but, what it could be, that I don’t know.

        On the other hand I do believe that the formulas used by IPCC and many others give reasonably correct results for several decades from the time of emission. The combination of knowledge on the actual mechanisms and empirical observations on the removal of CO2 from the atmosphere provide sufficiently information for that, not with great accuracy, but at a level of perhaps 20% of the increase from the present concentration, when the human contribution follows the inputs assumed for the projection.

        What the podcast tells about the work of Solby doesn’t affect my trust in, what I wrote above.

      • Richard S Courtney

        Pekka Pirilä:

        Thankyou for your reply.

        You say your view of the future is based on “trust” and you say
        “On the other hand I do believe that the formulas used by IPCC and many others give reasonably correct results for several decades from the time of emission”.

        OK, everyone is entitled to their beliefs and I will not confront yours.

        But I do not share your belief in “the formulas used by IPCC” for the reason I explained to Andy S on the previous thread.
        I said there;

        “The Berne Model (as used and reported by the IPCC) is plain wrong. Please see my comments above.

        One of the greatest faults in the AR4 is its selective reporting and uncritical adoption of the Berne Model of the cabon cycle. Indeed, the IPCC uses unjustifiable 5-year smoothing as a method to obtain some degree of agreement between the Berne Model and observations of atmospheric CO2 concentration. Smoothing of 2 and 3 years could be justified, but there is no known reason for smoothing of the data over longer times. However, smoothing less than 5 years fails to obtain agreement between the model and the empirical data.

        Any data can be made to agree with anything if it is adjusted sufficiently.”

        I think “formulas” that cannot hindcast the past cannot be assumed to forecast the future.

        Also, Ron Cram responded to my post that I quote here by asking if there is a “correct model of the carbon cycle”, and I replied to him saying;

        “No, there is not a “correct” model.

        In one of our 1995 papers (see above for reference and description) we produced 6 models with 3 of them assuming the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration has a significant anthropogenic component and the other 3 assuming there was no significant anthropogenic component. These 6 models each matched the Mauna Loa data without any smoothing.
        So, the available data cannot define a “correct” model.

        quad erat demonstrandum”

        So, it seems we must agree to disagree and leave it at that.

        Richard

      • We do indeed disagree. I cannot see any relevance in your comments on the 5 year smoothing, when a model is considered that has been designed for longer term considerations and when it’s known that there are quite strong natural variations related to ENSO and other shorter term climate variations.

      • Richard S Courtney

        Pekka Pirilä

        I doubted your claims that you views were based on “trust” and “belief” so I greatly appreciate your now having clarified the matter by making a substantive point.

        You say:

        “I cannot see any relevance in your comments on the 5 year smoothing, when a model is considered that has been designed for longer term considerations and when it’s known that there are quite strong natural variations related to ENSO and other shorter term climate variations.”

        There are several reasons and I will state two because they pertain to points already raised in the present discussion on this blog.

        The first – simply stated – is that the rise in annual CO2 in the air over a year is the residual change of the seasonal changes to CO2 in the air of that year. So, if a model cannot emulate the sequence of residual changes then it does not emulate the long-term change.

        The Berne Model (and similar reservoir models) assume the anthropogenic emission ‘overloads’ the system so about half of that emission accumulates in the air. And they assume large changes to CO2 emitted by e.g. ENSO effects can be ignored. But these two assumptions are contradictory. I explain this contradiction as follows.

        ENSO causes the system to expel much more CO2 than the anthropogenic emission in a year for a few years such that a peak in the atmospheric CO2 occurs. Then it takes back that expelled CO2. How can the system take back that CO2 when it can only accept half of the anthropogenic CO2?

        In fact, the problem is worse than that when you consider seasonal fluctuations.

        At present the yearly increase of the anthropogenic emissions is approximately 0.1 GtC/year. The natural fluctuation of the excess consumption is at least 6 ppmv (which corresponds to 12 GtC) in 4 months. This is more than 100 times the yearly increase of human production, which strongly suggests that the dynamics of the natural short-term sequestration processes can cope easily with the human production of CO2.

        A serious disruption of the system may be expected when the rate of increase of the anthropogenic emissions becomes larger than the natural variations of CO2. But the above data indicates this is not possible.

        So, the long-term rise in atmospheric CO2 is the sum of the residual of seasonal changes in the atmospheric CO2 when it is observed that the dynamics of the system can sequester all the anthropogenic emission plus excess from ENSO in each and every year.

        Hence, a model that fails to emulate the residual of seasonal changes each year is not emulating the system which is observed to exist.

        Secondly, it is possible to model the system behaviour in a manner that does emulate the residual of each and every seasonal change (within the measurement accuracy of the Mauna Loa data) by rejecting the ‘reservoir model’ and assuming the system is seeking equilibrium in response to (a) changed temperature and (b) the anthropogenic emission.

        We produced 3 basic models of this type (which we called the A, P and M models) to conduct attribution studies in an attempt to reject that these three mechanisms could be the cause of the observed rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration as measured at Mauna Loa since 1958.

        Each model assumed a single mechanism dominates the climate system. One was Ahlbeck’s model, one was a power equation, and the other was a rate limiting equation that assumed biospheric response dominates the system.

        In each case we adjusted the model on the assumption that
        (i) the major cause of the change to atmospheric CO2 was the anthropogenic emission
        and
        (ii) the major cause of the change to atmospheric CO2 was the change to temperature.

        Thus we obtained 6 models.

        Each of the matches the available empirical data without use of any smoothing.

        So, if one of the six models of this paper is adopted then there is a 5:1 probability that the choice is wrong. And other models are probably also possible. And the six models each give a different indication of future atmospheric CO2 concentration for the same future anthropogenic emission of carbon dioxide.

        Data that fits all the possible causes is not evidence for the true cause. Data that only fits the true cause would be evidence of the true cause.

        And, importantly, why would anybody want to choose a model that requires the data to be processed to fit that models output when there are several other models that emulate the data precisely?

        Richard

      • Richard,

        I find all your claims to be without merit. There is not any reason to go to further details, because the logic fails totally at every point.

      • Richard – I have to agree with Pekka that your conclusions don’t follow logically from the evidence you cite. Let me illustrate with one example . You state:

        ENSO causes the system to expel much more CO2 than the anthropogenic emission in a year for a few years such that a peak in the atmospheric CO2 occurs. Then it takes back that expelled CO2. How can the system take back that CO2 when it can only accept half of the anthropogenic CO2?

        I won’t focus on the accuracy of the comparison per se, which I find doubtful if you look at global rather than Mauna Loa data, but on the principle you invoke. When El Nino warming adds CO2 to the atmosphere, two changes are happening. The first is that the partial pressure of CO2 in air increases. The second is that the concentration of CO2 in the ocean declines. When the warming subsides, the rate of restoration of ocean CO2 reflects the magnitude of the difference in both directions.

        On the other hand, when fossil fuel burning adds anthropogenic CO2 to the atmosphere, only the first of those two phenomena – increasing atmospheric pCO2 – occurs. Clearly, the decay rate of atmospheric CO2 will be slower and equilibrium level of atmospheric CO2 will be higher than when a decline in the ocean level accompanies an increase in the atmospheric level.

      • Richard S Courtney

        Fred Moulton:

        Thankyou for your argument in contradiction of my post. Much better than the usual ‘warmist’ refusal to discuss but to throw ad homs. and/or to run away in a huff.

        If I understand you correctly then you are saying to me

        1.
        an ENSO change expels CO2 from the ocean surface layer and thus denudes the ocean surface layer of CO2 such that there is capability for the surface layer to ‘retrieve’ that CO2 as the ENSO condition reverts.

        but

        2.
        anthropogenic CO2 is added to the air so there has been no depletion in the ocean surface layer to provide the capability for the ocean surface layer to absorb it.

        If I have misunderstood you then what follows does not address your argumet.

        I covered this in my post that you are answering. Point 2 is covered by what I wrote whether or not Point 1 is correct.

        I wrote;

        “At present the yearly increase of the anthropogenic emissions is approximately 0.1 GtC/year. The natural fluctuation of the excess consumption is at least 6 ppmv (which corresponds to 12 GtC) in 4 months. This is more than 100 times the yearly increase of human production, which strongly suggests that the dynamics of the natural short-term sequestration processes can cope easily with the human production of CO2.”

        Do you dispute that, and if so how and in what way?

        If you do not dispute that, then why is only about half (n.b. not all) of the anthropogenic CO2 emission sequestered in an average year?

        The form of the sequestration in a season does not suggest the system is anywhere near the equlibrium state you suggest (this is especially true as one moves away from the equator; see e,g. the data from Barrow). The atmospheric CO2 plummets then reverses: the sequestration does not slowly reduce as the ocean surface layer becomes almost saturated.

        But, according to Point 2 the reason half the anthropogenic emission is sequestered is because the partial pressure for additional solubility is reached. The observations do not support that: indeed, they are not consistent with that.

        Furthermore, in some years almost all the anthropogenic CO2 is sequestered and in other years almost none of it is. I cannot equate that with Point 2.

        And in some years the accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere continued when in two subsequent years the anthropogenic flux into the atmosphere decreased (i.e. the years 1973-1974, 1987-1988, and 1998-1999). This is wholly inconsistent with Point 2.

        But the observations are all explained by the hypothesis that the system is adjusting towards a changed equilibrium. I do not know what caused that change but I do know it could be the anthropogenic emission or it could be the observed temperature change.

        Richard

      • in some years almost all the anthropogenic CO2 is sequestered and in other years almost none of it is. I cannot equate that with Point 2.

        The ocean can’t distinguish recent anthropogenic additions from the totality of atmospheric CO2, and it is only the latter it responds to. It simply experiences an inward flux proportional to the atmospheric pCO2, which has been increasing fairly smoothly over the years. On the other hand, interannual efflux varies more from year to year due to temperature fluctuations. For this reason, the difference between these two large numbers – the net flux – can vary greatly on a percentage basis without contradicting the principle that the added atmospheric CO2 burden is mostly or entirely anthropogenic.

      • Richard S Courtney

        Fred Moulton:

        Thankyou for that answer. I infer that it means I did understand you correctly.

        It addresses one point I made in response to you but not others. Importantly, it does not address my major point which I provided in my earlier post and quoted in my post to you with a query as to whether you agreed with it.

        But the point you do make is not supported by your original argument (that I now infer I correctly understood).

        If your new point and a point (that I called Point 1) in your original argument are both correct then the ability of the oceans to absorb CO2 should vary with ENSO. Hence, the years of almost total and almost negligible sequestration of anthropogenic CO2 should relate to years of changes in ENSO. They don’t.

        Richard

      • then the ability of the oceans to absorb CO2 should vary with ENSO. Hence, the years of almost total and almost negligible sequestration of anthropogenic CO2 should relate to years of changes in ENSO. They don’t.

        Salby appears to disagree, or at least he correlates sequestration changes with both ENSO and Pinatubo since he cites both 1991-1992 and 1998 as examples. If you look at the NOAA global CO2 data, inspection does tend to show a rough correlation, but we would need to see his more exact calculations, including those that defined the appropriate lead/lag intervals for a better idea as to how he decided that global surface temperature changes subsequent to ENSO events and other temperature related phenomena correlate well with CO2 changes. I expect they do correlate well in the short term, but that this can’t be extrapolated to long term trends for reasons I’ve described elsewhere in these threads.

      • The solubility (DIC) of CO2 in sea water varies too little with temperature to have a major contribution in the annual variation of the uptake of CO2 from the atmosphere. ENSO appears to have a larger influence on the land uptake of CO2 through changes in temperature and moisture.

        This is the explanation given in Le Quéré et al and this seems to agree also better with the variations in C13/C12 ratios reported by Salby.

      • Richard S Courtney

        Fred Moulton and Pekka Pirilä:

        I understand both your latter comments to amount to;

        “What does Salby say?”

        OK, what Salby says is the subject of this thread and, therefore, I cannot reasonably disagree with that. But, as Fred points out, we must wait for publication of Salby’s paper for us to know what he really says.

        So, if you are saying we must wait to know what Salby says then we must leave these matters ‘on the table’ for now. If that is not what you are saying then I trust you will tell me.

        Richard

      • I haven’t seen data on the relationship between CO2 solubility and temperature in ocean water at the temperature, pH, and ion concentrations that have been operating, but the Le Quere reference that Pekka mentions reports, as he indicates, a greater contribution from land fluxes to interannual variability than from ocean fluxes – see Nature Geoscience 2009. The dynamics in each case are complex, and dependent on many variables in addition to static changes in the physical chemistry of atmospheric/surface relationships.

        Unlike some earlier papers, the Le Quere paper reports that sink capacity appears to be declining – i.e., the “airborne fraction” of added CO2 is rising slightly as a slightly declining percentage is absorbed by sinks. This appears to be a result that is not yet conclusively settled, but the observations are consistent with what one might expect from rising CO2 levels.

        The paper, which I hadn’t read previously, is very informative, and worth visiting for a good current perspective on the fate of anthropogenic CO2 emissions.

      • Out of curiosity, I’ve looked for good data on the relationship between seawater temperature and pCO2. The following 1988 reference to the Temperature pCO2 relationship may be out of date, but if I interpret Figure 1 correctly, it shows about a 3.8% increase in pCO2 per 1 C rise in temperature, equivalent to a 15 ppm change in an atmosphere with CO2 at 400 ppm, which is not insignificant.. The data don’t tell us the rate at which a shift in net flux between seawater and air would occur, but I expect it would start fairly rapidly and then decline as both the seawater and atmosphere adjusted to the new balance. The formula is only an approximation and neglects changes in other variables, but gives a sense of the level of change that might be expected for a persistent temperature elevation. Transient changes in temperature would be expected to result in far smaller pCO2 changes.

      • Fred,
        You wrote about a 3.8% increase in pCO2 per 1 C rise in temperature. Did you mean decrease?

        According to this abstract the rate of decrease is 4.4%/degreeC.

        Unfortunately it’s more difficult to find information on the temperature dependence of DIC, which differs from that of pCO2. Furthermore we know that a change of 4.4% in pCO2 corresponds to a change of only 0.5% in DIC at constant temperature due to the Revelle factor.

        Murray and Riley (1971) determined the CO2 solubility in a way that should give the DIC values as they stripped the CO2 from saturated water and determined the amount gravimetrically. Unfortunately they appear to have done that at CO2 pressure of 1atm, not at the low partial pressure of the atmosphere. Based on Fig. 10 of Z. Duan, R. Sun / Chemical Geology 193 (2003) 257–271 they found a rate of decrease of 2.9 %/C as average over the range 10C – 20C. The result at this higher pressure may, however, differ essentially of the behavior at low partial pressure as the Revelle factor is much weaker at the higher pressure.

      • I just found this link at the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center of ORNL.

        Program Developed for CO2 System Calculations

        This might give the answers that I have been looking for.

      • I have confused the change in pCO2 in some of my previous messages. I try now to put them in order.

        With increasing temperature the partial pressure pCO2 increases, if the amount of dissolved and non-ionized CO2 remains the same in the seawater. In practice this means that the concentration of CO2 in surface water decreases until an equilibrium with atmosphere is reached. Assuming an increase of 1C in the SST the equilibrium is reached when the sum of the relative increase of atmospheric CO2 and the relative decrease of dissolved CO2 add to 4.4%. The maximal influence on the atmosphere is obtained, when the dissolved CO2 remains unchanged and the atmospheric CO2 increases by 4.4%, i.e. by 12 – 17 ppm depending on the value chosen for the CO2 concentration before the increase (preindustrial or present).

        The above values are an overestimate, because the assumption of constant CO2 concentration in surface water is not consistent with the fact that the surface ocean is not strongly coupled to the large CO2 reservoirs of the deep ocean and therefore part of the change would apply to that and only part to the atmospheric concentration.

      • Richard S Courtney

        Fred and Pekka:

        I apologise that I have not interacted with your responses. My last post was at about 1 a.m. here and I went to bed.

        Clearly, I did misunderstand when I thought you were closing the discussion.

        My response to your points is to iterate (yet again) my main point that neither of you has addressed.

        I wrote;

        “At present the yearly increase of the anthropogenic emissions is approximately 0.1 GtC/year. The natural fluctuation of the excess consumption is at least 6 ppmv (which corresponds to 12 GtC) in 4 months. This is more than 100 times the yearly increase of human production, which strongly suggests that the dynamics of the natural short-term sequestration processes can cope easily with the human production of CO2.”

        I repeated it and asked:

        “Do you dispute that, and if so how and in what way?

        If you do not dispute that, then why is only about half (n.b. not all) of the anthropogenic CO2 emission sequestered in an average year?
        ” etc.

        We are trying to understand the observed changes and their causes.

        So, unless you choose to reject the observations, I do not care what theoretical or modelled impositions are imposed on your thought if those impositions deny the observations.

        But if you reject the observations then we cannot know if there has been a rise in atmospheric CO2 so we are discussing nothing.

        Please address my main point. At present, it seems you want to avoid it by discussing anything else.

        Richard

      • Richard,
        My recent comments have not been direct reactions to your comments, but to something else that has come up in this thread (which has become too difficult to follow due to technical limitations of blog discussions).

        Based on what I have read from various publications, I agree fully that there’s still a lot to study in the carbon cycle. The short term variations are certainly dominated by natural processes. Many things are known about those processes, and much remains badly known. Even less is known about the processes that control the long tail of the response to an increase in CO2 to the atmosphere.

        Between these extremes we know sufficiently on constraints on the response at multiannual and decadal time scales to draw reliable enough conclusions on the importance of the human influence over periods extending up to 100 years to the future.

      • I provided a cite for that information, and one of the ways it is done is by comparing the concentration of CO2 in deep ocean water that has concentrations of CFC-12 with water that doesn’t. Since CFC-12 was introduced in the 1950s this has relevance.

        So basically, they have a measurement of how much antropogenic CO2 is going into the deep oceans, which is what would be expected, knowing that CO2 is dissolving in the surface waters, eventually it would go into the deeper waters.

        What other questions do you have?

      • Richard S Courtney

        bob droege:

        You say;
        “So basically, they have a measurement of how much antropogenic CO2 is going into the deep oceans,”.

        Sorry, but no.

        They have an estimate based on limited data that is so imprecise and so uncertain that it is useless.

        A quantification of the carbon cycle requires measurements (or at least estimates) that are accurate to better than the anthropogenic emission rate (which is equivalent to about 6 GtC/year) if it is to be useful in determining the effect of anthropogenic emission on the carbon cycle.

        Incidentally, the estimate you cite is very dubious and NASA chose not to adopt it.

        So, I thank you for your effort but it does not suffice.

        Richard

      • Right, so do you have any measurements of the source of the CO2 accurate enough to establish its origin?

        Where is it coming from if it is not coming from the oceans, the terrestrial vegetation, or humans burnign fossil fuel?

        You have too make an effort to solve the problem, all you are doing is dismissing evidence because you don’t like it.

      • Richard S Courtney

        bob droege:

        Your response is sophistry.

        I asked for information that would enable quantification of the carbon cycle that you said you had.

        You gave me an estimate which – we both know – was not what you said you had and I wanted.

        I thanked you for what you had provided and pointed out that it in no way answered the question.

        And you have replied to me by asking;
        “so do you have any measurements of the source of the CO2 accurate enough to establish its origin?”

        NO I DON’T. NOBODY DOES.
        As we both know, that was my point. The available data does not provide an answer to that question.

        I want to know why the atmospheric CO2 concentration is rising. And I object to those who proclaim a superstitious belief that they do know.

        Their proclamation hinders anybody from finding out.

        Richard

      • At least I have an argument and data, you are the one trying to deceive with the argument that no one knows the reason CO2 is increasing in the atmosphere.

        C + O2 –> CO2

        Coal plus oxygen results in Carbon Dioxide which is a gas.

      • Richard S Courtney

        bob droege:

        You made a fallacious claim that knowledge exists and you know it. When called on that you have failed to deliver.

        And you have the gall to assert that I “am the one trying to deceive”.

        Be gone. I have had enough of you.

        Richard

      • You are saying nobody knows where the CO2 is coming from, and I called you on it.

        You are very deceptive and you stick to your guns.

        Unfortunately for you, there is no evidence supporting your claims, and you refuse to supply any, so who is the sophisticated deceptive one?

        You need to provide evidence that the CO2 emitted by man is not building up in the atmosphere. How are you going to do that?

      • Richard S Courtney

        bob droege:

        I said I had had enough of you, but you return with an assertion that demonstrates why I have had enough of you.

        You say to me;
        “You need to provide evidence that the CO2 emitted by man is not building up in the atmosphere.”

        NO, I DO NOT.

        Others are making a claim that the CO2 emitted by man is “building up in the atmosphere”. They need to prove – or at lease provide some evidence for – their assertion. All I am doing is asking them to prove it.

        They cannot because there is insufficient data to prove it (as you have demonstrated). But available evidence indicates that their assertion is improbable.

        Richard

      • Ferdinand Engelbeen

        Richard,

        I have tried to explain the difference between the residence time of CO2 (about 5 years) and the time needed to remove an excess amount (about 40 years half life) in many ways. From bathtubes to fountains to bank accounts to bussiness… It seems of no help for many on sceptic blogs to understand that difference. While many seems to understand the difference if they keep a household budget.

        All what is left to say is: ask any bookkeeper to explain the difference between the turnover of a bussiness and the yield (or loss) of a bussines.

      • Richard S Courtney

        Ferdinand:

        Bathtubs, fountains or whatever, I don’t care. And ‘residence time’ is not relevant.

        The ‘bank account analogy’ is nonsense but it governs your thinking.

        Please follow this thread up to see my explanation of why your accountancy methods do not – and cannot – indicate anything about the cause of recent rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration.

        Richard

  30. Pot, Kettle, Black.

    “The natural cycle is balanced. The human inputs are not.”

    This is simple minded when you consider the SCALE of each input. Humans, 3% nature 97% and there is flux. There is not reason to think the accumulation of co2 is driven by humans. We do know when it gets warmer co2 rises.

    Consensus isn’t science Robert, hard proofs with experiments/formulas and models that rationalize a variety of inputs might. This hasn’t been close to happening.

    • “This is simple minded when you consider the SCALE of each input.”

      It is simple-minded to think the SCALE matters. It is a slightly tarted-up version of the fallacy that “little stuff can’t possibly be important” “CO2 is only 0.04% of the atmosphere,” etc.

      Unscientific nonsense.

      “There is not reason to think the accumulation of co2 is driven by humans.”

      There are a great many reasons: because you choose to be ignorant of them does not mean they cease to exist. Your ignorance is not a superpower.

      “Consensus isn’t science”

      Since you do not understand the principles of scientific inquiry (or you wouldn’t make those misguided assertions about “SCALE”) nor do you understand climate science (or you would not make the ridiculous (not to mention ungrammatical) assertion that “There is not reason to think the accumulation of co2 is driven by humans”) the evidence suggests that you are scientifically ignorant. So why should I care what a scientifically ignorant person thinks science is?

      If you want to make a hobby of telling people about the nature of science, I suggest you invest some effort into learning the basics of science and the scientific method, at least to the extent that you can navigate a brief exchange like this one without displaying your total lack of expertise.

      • Richard- you’ve offered nothing here except blind refusal to accept some fairly basic points.

        The relative proportions of C02 do matter, you may like to pretend otherwise but i’m afriad things don’t work how you would like. Also;

        “Consensus isn’t science”

        Is 100% bang on. I’m an experienced scientist and i agree wholeheartedly with this. It doesn’t mean the consensus IS wrong either- but neither can arguing from a position of consensus be seen as a positive.

        It’s nice to have people think the same way you do, it is zero proof however that you are right.

      • Richard S Courtney

        Labmunkey:

        To which “Richard” is your comment addressed?
        It certainly cannot be me.

        Richard

      • Blast- i meant of course- Robert, not richard- apologies for the confusion!

    • Ferdinand Engelbeen

      cwon, here again one of the many examples to try to give you some insight, why the scale is unimportant:

      A fountain pumps 100 or 1,000 or 10,000 l/min down from a bassin over a fountain. Except for some loss by evaporation, there is no change in the bassin level. Now add 1 l/min in the bassin with a hose. After some time, the bassin will have an overflow. No matter if the pump gives a throughput of 100, 1,000 or 10,000 l/min. In all cases the overflow comes at the same moment, despite that the extra flow is only 1 or 0.1 or 0.01% of the circulation.

      We have a lot of natural CO2 circulating between the atmosphere and other reservoirs. But that doesn’t matter at all. All what matters is how much of that adds to the atmosphere in balance at the end of the year. And that was negative over the past 50 years.

      • You have a small sodium hypochlorite tank attached to your pool,
        The tank is 10 litre in volume..
        The pool is 50,000 times the volume of the tank.
        A small pump adds 139 ml an hour of liquid from the chlorine tank to the main pool and a pool overflow makes sure the tank remains at 10 liter volume.

        You pour 1 liter of 10,000 mM NaOCl into the chlorine tank.
        How long does it take for the two aquatic reservoirs to arrive at steady state, within +/-1% ?
        What is the steady state concentration of NaOCl in both reservoirs ?

        No peeking

        (30days and 0.2 mM)

        The the pool inspectorate comes along and states, The decay of NaOCl is dependent on sunlight, and 1% of the NaOCl in your pool s destroyed by uv. He also states that the maximum allowed NaOCl concentration is 0.25mM and minimum is 0.06mM.

        How often do you have to added 1 liter of 10M NaOCl?

        (No peeking

        (60days)

        This is close to the 1:50 atmosphere:Aquatic reservoir partitions (tank and pool) and what happens when you add a slug of something; The 1% per day shows the effect of a true ‘sink’. Complete loss to the system.

  31. Still doing third grade insults, eh.

    • John Carpenter

      Jim,

      Robert speaks with great authority, yet I still don’t see him proudly post any curriculum vitae anywhere on his blog… He won’t tell us that despite being such an authority on the subject… so much so that he doesn’t even need to waste an hour of his time to hear what Salaby had to say and can judge the man and his work with great confidence.

      Sheesh

      • “Robert speaks with great authority”

        Thank you!

        “yet I still don’t see him proudly post any curriculum vitae anywhere on his blog”

        And why would that matter? It’s the quality of the ideas that count, right? Not who is presenting them? Or do you think we ought to defer to those with the best qualifications — in the case of climate science to Hansen, Mann, Schmidt et al?

        “so much so that he doesn’t even need to waste an hour of his time to hear what Salaby had to say”

        An hour of my life listening to someone arguing from slides that he has not bothered to publish?

        At least I paid enough attention to Salby to spell his name correctly (as you put it, “Sheesh!”.)

      • Robert –
        And why would that matter? It’s the quality of the ideas that count, right? Not who is presenting them?

        It’s nice that you agree with me on that. Unfortunately, your ideas don’t qualify as quality.

      • John Carpenter –
        Robert speaks with great authority

        Yup – he reminds me of either Barney Fife or a toothless chihuahua – loud and nasty, but no real bite.

  32. Robert,

    Sorry for the arrogance. I don’t mean to be arrogant, I just have to react to ignorance. Your latest:

    “The natural cycle is balanced. The human inputs are not.”

    Salby’s work and much evidence that sceptics point to, is not that natural cyle is balanced. Why would it be? Why do you claim that? The claim is that atmospheric CO2 is “balanced” or controlled/regulated by temperature. The cycle is the control itself. The temperature sets the point and the cycle controls it.

    • Salby’s work and much evidence that sceptics point to, is not that natural cyle is balanced.”

      This would be the work illustrated by the slides he hasn’t shared? Where is your skepticism?

      The natural inputs are closely balanced. Actual evidence that has gone through actual peer review attests to this. I suggest you review the state of the science — the actual science.

      “Why would it be?”

      Given that it is, based on the evidence, there is no need to ask why it is. That is a religious or philosophical question, not a scientific one.

      You can of course use some basic common-sense reasoning to show yourself why carbon sinks and sources should be in approximate equilibrium, but I am disinclined to do that work for you. So let’s try this: summarize the science showing that the sinks and sources are in balance, with references to the primary literature. Present the argument that they are in balance. If you can do that, then you will have shown that you are to some degree qualified to evaluate a critique of that science. If you truly don’t know those arguments or that evidence, then there is no point discussing the matter with you until you have done your homework.

  33. izen | August 8, 2011 at 11:18 am | Reply

    “While his contribution was of great interest to philosophers and the liberal arts crowd it really didn’t do much for the practical scientists.”

    I.e., it gets in their way when they already know the answer they want.

  34. What’s up with this wonky reply thingy? I post at the end, and it pops up above the post I was referring to. Reposting…

    “Bart | August 8, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Reply

    izen | August 8, 2011 at 11:18 am | Reply

    “While his contribution was of great interest to philosophers and the liberal arts crowd it really didn’t do much for the practical scientists.”

    I.e., it gets in their way when they already know the answer they want.”

  35. Robert

    David Wojick is no Karl Popper.

    Are you?

    Max

    • John Whitman

      Manacker & David Wojick,

      I find your discussion of Popper opportunistic, since I have some critical observations of Popper in general.

      But before being critical of Popper, for a basis of continuing dialog about Popper I give the following excerpt from Popper’s work:
      ————————
      Knowledge without Authority (1960)
      by Karl Popper

      It is high time now, I think, to formulate the epistemological results of this discussion. I will put them in the form of nine theses.

      (1) There are no ultimate sources of knowledge. Every source, every suggestion, is welcome; and every source, every suggestion, is open to critical examination. Except in history, we usually examine the facts themselves rather than the sources of our information.

      (2) The proper epistemological question is not one about sources; rather, we ask whether the assertion made is true – that is to say, whether it agrees with the facts. (That we may operate, without getting involved in antinomies, with the idea of objective truth in the sense of correspondence to the facts, has been shown by the work of Alfred Tarski.) And we try to find this out, as well as we can, by examining or testing the assertion itself; either in a direct way, or by examining or testing its consequences.

      (3) In connection with this examination, all kinds of arguments may be relevant. A typical procedure is to examine whether our theories are consistent with our observations. But we may also examine, for example, whether our historical sources are mutually and internally consistent.

      (4) Quantitatively and qualitatively by far the most important source of our knowledge – apart from inborn knowledge – is tradition. Most things we know we have learnt by example, by being told, by reading books, by learning how to criticize, how to take and to accept criticism, how to respect truth.

      (5) The fact that most of the sources of our knowledge are traditional condemns anti-traditionalism as futile. But this fact must not be held to support a traditionalist attitude: every bit of our traditional knowledge (and even our inborn knowledge) is open to critical examination and may be overthrown. Nevertheless, without tradition, knowledge would be impossible.

      (6) Knowledge cannot start from nothing – from a tabula rasa – nor yet from observation. The advance of knowledge consists, mainly, in the modification of earlier knowledge. Although we may sometimes, for example in archaeology, advance through a chance observation, the significance of the discovery will usually depend upon its power to modify our earlier theories.

      (7) Pessimistic and optimistic epistemologies are about equally mistaken. The pessimistic cave story of Plato is the true one, and not his optimistic story of anamnesis (even though we should admit that all men, like all other animals, and even all plants, possess inborn knowledge). But although the world of appearances is indeed a world of mere shadows on the walls of our cave, we all constantly reach out beyond it; and although, as Democritus said, the truth is hidden in the deep, we can probe into the deep. There is no criterion of truth at our disposal, and this fact supports pessimism. But we do possess criteria which, if we are lucky, may allow us to recognize error and falsity. Clarity and distinctness are not criteria of truth, but such things as obscurity or confusion may indicate error. Similarly coherence cannot establish truth, but incoherence and inconsistency do establish falsehood. And, when they are recognized, our own errors provide the dim red lights which help us in groping our way out of the darkness of our cave.

      (8) Neither observation nor reason is an authority. Intellectual intuition and imagination are most important, but they are not reliable: they may show us things very clearly, and yet they may mislead us. They are indispensable as the main sources of our theories; but most of our theories are false anyway. The most important function of observation and reasoning, and even of intuition and imagination, is to help us in the critical examination of those bold conjectures which are the means by which we probe into the unknown.

      (9) Every solution of a problem raises new unsolved problems; the more so the deeper the original problem and the bolder its solution. The more we learn about the world, and the deeper our learning, the more conscious, specific, and articulate will be our knowledge of what we do not know, our knowledge of our ignorance. For this, indeed, is the main source of our ignorance – the fact that our knowledge can only be finite, while our ignorance must necessarily be infinite.

      ——————-

      Shall we continue Popper discussion based on that text?

      John

      • John Whitman

        First, I would like someone confirm that these indeed are the words of Karl Popper and that they reflect his overall thoughts of science. Please help confirm these things.

        After that confirmation then I think we can proceed to evaluate them critically as being a rational basis for modern physical science.

        John

      • It’s from a larger essay called “The Problem of Induction.”

        It’s a brilliant paper, although Popper’s assertion of having solved the problem of induction is generally not accepted in the philosophical community.

        Full text: http://dieoff.org/page126.htm

      • John Whitman

        Robert,

        Thank you for your confirmation that the excerpt appears to be from Karl Popper.

        Do you think it is representative of his views on the philosophy of science, specifically his overall views of the epistemology of science?

        John

      • Do you think it is representative of his views on the philosophy of science, specifically his overall views of the epistemology of science?

        I do. You can see very clearly from this excerpt how he lays the groundwork for the idea he is most famous for, that the falsiblity of its predictions is the critical distinction between science and psuedoscience.

  36. Judith. This thread has descended into the chaos of name calling, etc. The carbon cycle is only of interest in its gaseous phase when AGW (or any GW factor of the carbon cycle) is at issue, or so one would think reading this thread.

    The carbon cycle also interweaves with the hydrocycle, in that vegetation respires H2O taken from below the Earth’s surface. Thus, evaporative cooling action to surface temps is part of the carbon cycle. However, the main influence is ocean/atmosphere and a more basic physical interaction (‘wet bulb/dry bulb’ hygrometry)!

    Thanks, but I’m out of this thread.

    Best regards, Ray Dart.

    • “Judith. This thread has descended into the chaos of name calling, etc.”

      Goodness, I thought we were doing pretty well, considering! You should check out the greenhouse dragon thread.

  37. So far, warmists and sceptics can all agree on one thing. Any reduction in CO2 emissions is futile – if the anthropogenic CO2 input is reduced, the flux into natural sink will reduce and atmospheric CO2 will not be affected. Isn’t it a common ground?

    • if the anthropogenic CO2 input is reduced, the flux into natural sink will reduce and atmospheric CO2 will not be affected.

      Edim – I have never heard that claim, but it is incorrect. If emissions cease, CO2 will remain stable or rise very slightly for a short time, and then start dropping back to the 280 ppm preindustrial level. If emissions continue at their present rate, CO2 will probably double preindustrial levels by the end of the century or earlier.

      • Perhaps Dr. Curry could do a post on the physics of chemical equilibrium, osmotic gradients, etc, as well as how these concepts apply to the carbon cycle.

        It’s important stuff, not really hard or technical, but it takes a while to wrap your mind around them, or at least it did for me.

      • A guest post on this would be welcome.

      • I would be happy to take a stab at it and send you a draft.

      • If you want to give it a shot, i would be happy to take a look for consideration as a post here.

      • Fred– How can know that CO2 levels would drop down to 280 ppm is human emissions were eliminated? If higher worldwide temperatures lead to non human (natural) emissions rates to increase then how would you be able to accurately predict what level CO2 would “stabilize”. It would appear that you are basing your conclusion on the assumption that 100% in the rise is due to humans (which has been proven to be incorrect) and that without human emissions the levels will simply fall to pre human levels.

        Simplistic, but not correct

      • Rob –

        Very briefly, the conclusion that the rise in CO2 is anthropogenic has now been discussed extensively in two threads. It’s not an assumption. It may or may not be 100% but is likely to be quite close. Similarly, a decline in CO2 if emissions stop may not end at exactly 280 but it would be close.

        I realize that you have reservations about these conclusions, but I don’t think further discussion would be useful unless new evidence is introduced.

      • Fred

        Yes it has been discussed and it has been shown in multiple studies that natural emissions do vary over time and it is probable that a large cause for these variances is temperature change. You seem to completely ignore natural emissions when you wrote that without human emissions global CO2 levels would fall to 280ppm.
        I am sorry, but you seem to state something as a fact, when it would appear to be inconsistent with the science we know up to now and a huge guess.

      • Dikran Marsupial

        Yes, natural emissions to respond to changes in temperatures, mostly on an inter-annual scale, where the variability of temperature is high, due to things like ENSO. However the long term secular changes in temperature (i.e. long term trends) are way smaller, and hence their effect on CO2 levels even smaller.

        However, the mass balance argument shows that not only is the natural environment a net sink, the magnitude of the sink has been growing larger over time. You have to consider both emissions and uptake, because the change in atmospheric concentrations depends on the difference between them.

        If we stop all emissions now, then atmospheric CO2 levels will start going down again, about half way back to pre-industrial levels within about 50-70 years, by reduction right back to pre-industrial levels will take 10,000s of years longer (because it won’t happen until carbon is sequestered back into the lithosphere, rather than just the oceans).

      • Dikran

        You have a hypothesis for what might happen, what you believe will happen, but little more to support your conclusion. What we know is that the amount of CO2 emitted from various “natural sources” has varied their CO2 emissions during the period (last several years) when measurements have been made. We do not yet understand the root cause of these changes or when or if the emissions will return to prior levels.

        What you and Fred have claimed is that we KNOW more about emissions than is true. We do not even know how much humanity is emitting—we make very rough estimates. We do not know the amount of “human created CO2” is in the atmosphere in 8/2011. People like to claim they know a lot more than they do on this issue.

      • Dikran Marsupial

        Rob, the natural environment is a net sink. If you don’t believe me, get the Mauna loa CO2 data, and compute the annual increase. Then go and get data on anthropogenic emissions (both fossil fuel and land use change) from the Carbon Dioxide Information and Analysis Centre (both data sets are freely available and referenced). The subtract annual anthropogenic emissions from the annual change in atmospheric CO2. If you have got the units right, you will be left with the net response of the natural environment. You will find that it is (a) very noisy (b) always negative and (c) there is a decreasing trend (showing the natural net seink is growing). I know this becuase I have done the research and submitted a paper to a peer reviewed journal, which has been accepted and will appear shortly. We KNOW the natural environment has been a net sink for at least the last 50 years and is actively opposing the post-industrial increase in atmopsheric CO2.

        As to what will happen, I base my opinion (yes that is what it is) on what the experts who have put in considerable effort tell me. Experts like David Archer. Nobody can KNOW what will happen in the future, however that doesn’t mean that everyones opinion is equally likely to pan out. Personally I prefer to follow the mainstream opinion when I don’t have personal expertise. The occasional Gallileo does crop up every now and again, but very rarely. On the other hand scientists who think they are a Gallileo, but which are simply wrong are very very common, in many fields.

      • Dikran
        I never disputed that the world has been generally CO2 absorbing vs. emitting over the long term and agree that CO2 levels would eventually fall if human emissions were eliminated (which will not actually happen for many decades). I do not think we know at what rate, or to what level overall emissions will fall, if/when human emissions fall. My comment was really is response to Fred having made a definitive statement that is not appropriate based upon what we know.

        On the very macro level, Jim Owens point was correct. There is NO evidence to support the conclusion that the world will lower CO2 emissions for many decades and the only logical response is for nations to prepare with proper infrastructure construction.

      • Dikran Marsupial

        Rob in science we never know anything absolutely for certain about anything (which is why the IPCC devotes a section to an explanation of the terminology used to define the uncertainties – which crop up throught the report). There are uncertainties in how fast the CO2 would be taken up were we to stop emissions now, but that doesn’t mean we don’t know anything. The way that the carbon cycle has responded to anthropogenic emissions places constraints on what we can expect should emissions stop, and these constraints mean that we would get about halfway back to pre-industrial levels within 50-200 years. If it were faster than that, or slower, then the carbon cycle could not have responded to anthropogenic emissions as it has.

        What governments will or won’t do is irrelevant to the science. Science should inform politics, politics has nothing to say about science. Personally I am well aware that human nature being what it is, very little will be done in the comfortable western world, who have the resources needed to adapt, and will most likely take a “I’m alright Jack” attitude to those who don’t. I think that stinks, but there is nothing I can do about it. We do need to work on adaption, but only because (as a civilisation) we are self-centered, lazy and apathetic.

      • Dikran,

        Why, in your opinion, is the natural net sink growing? Why has the natural environment been a net sink for the last 50 years and actively oposing the “post-industrial” increase in atmospheric CO2?

        I can tell you my opinion. You’re almost there. As you say, the natural environment is opposing increase in atmospheric CO2, NOT anthropogenic CO2 emissions. The natural environment opposes disturbances in atmospheric CO2. Any disturbance (source or sink) will be opposed by variation of the natural flux.

      • Dikran
        I understand the principles of science, but it appears than many who fear atmospheric CO2 fail to acknowledge the uncertainty in many (perhaps most) of their conclusions. I will not get into all of the problems I have with the IPCC’s conclusions, but IMO they vastly overstated what should have been concluded at this point.

        You statement of little being done in the comfortable western world…pardon me, but boarders on prejudice. I can point out that the actions taken by leaders in Africa, India, Pakistan and many other places are actually doing far less to support their people. At least in the west we generally make building infrastructure a priority over corruption.

      • Dikran Marsupial

        Edim, I have explained repeatedly on these threads that the mass balance argument tells you this. Conservation of mass + anthropogenic emmisions data + observations of atmospheric CO2 rules out any real possibility of the natural environment being a net source of CO2 to the atmosphere (the error bars on the data are way too small for there to be any real doubt). It is mentioned in the fist IPCC WG1 report and has been mentioned in passing in numerous papers on the carbon cycle. It is generally only mentioned in passing because it should be blindingly obvious to anyone who has looked at the data. That a good scientist like Salby can make this sort of a mistake tells us a lot about human frailties when it comes to self-skepticism (unless of course he is hoaxing the skeptics to see who will bite ;o).

      • Dikran Marsupial

        Rob, we are all lazy, apathetic and self-centered, not just in the western world, it is human nature – and it stinks. However it is the western world that has historically caused most of the problem and who are best equipped to take the lead in doing something about it – our standard of living is high enough that we can adapt to a reduction – theirs isn’t. Why should the developing world miss out on the fossil fuel driven development and increase in living standards, that we have enjoyed at least partly at their expense, when we in the west are basically only paying lip-service to the idea of doing anything about it ourselves (because our standard of living would fall)?

      • Dikran:

        Why should the developing world miss out on the fossil fuel driven development and increase in living standards…

        Pardon me for saying so, but that’s an incredibly naive statement.
        I could point to myriad reasons why standards of living in the developing world are so low compared to ours, but easy access to cheap fossil fuel is definitely not one of them.

      • Dikran –
        If we stop all emissions now

        Your purported scenario is umlikely to be true, but that’s not the point. If we take the action you propose, what are the consequences?

      • Dikran Marsupial

        I didn’t propose anything. Of course there won’t be a complete stop in emissions now and nobody in their right mind would advocate such a thing. However, if we did, atmospheric CO2 levels would fall, and hence so would the radiative forcing due to atmospheric CO2 (the “enhanced greenhouse effect”). I would have though that would be so obvious as to not be worth saying (at least to those who understand the implications of what conservation of mass is telling us about how the natural carbon cycle has responded to anthropogenic CO2 emissions).

  38. Stephen Wilde

    Perhaps this description would be helpful to some:

    The current level of CO2 actually depends on the current balance between sources (1) and sinks (2) more than on human input.

    If 1 starts at 100 with 2 at 50 there will be a natural gain of 50 per year assuming no further change in either. Then if humans put in 5 (Salby actually suggests 3%) the gain will rise to 55 but the sinks then adjust to address the whole 55.

    The next year 1 stays at 100 but to partially catch up the sinks (2) have accelerated to say 75 so the apparent gain is down to 30 and part of the gain in 2 is directly down to stimulation by the human 5.

    The next year 1 remains at 100 but 2 accelerates further to 105 which stops the increase altogether despite the extra 5 from humans.

    Now we could say that in year 3 the sinks only accelerate to 103 which leaves a net gain of 2 which is two thirds of the human contribution.

    Is it then right to say that humans alone caused that remaining gain of 2? No, because that remaining gain is more a consequence of the pre existing natural imbalance between 1 and 2 which is in the process of self correcting over time whatever we are doing.

    But out in the real world both 1 and 2 are entirely elastic depending on a myriad of other influences including a feedback of each on the other so one can never ascertain the true net human effect whatever the outturn at any given moment.You can only do that by knowing the precise quantities for 1 and 2 at all times and we don’t.

    And the differences of say 50 or more between 1 and 2 together with the flows required to keep them stable whichever way they are forced by that myriad of other influences vastly outgun our contribution of 5

    So even if human input gains each year the sinks and sources combine to absorb it into their own intricate dance. There is just a slightly faster sequestration into the Earth or the Oceans and it is as if we never were. Just as all the past volcanic outpourings of CO2 were similarly neutralised.

    The accountancy approach does not work in the face of such system elasticity over time. Yet all assumptions are currently based on that approach.

    • Ferdinand Engelbeen

      Stephen,

      We know the human emissions with reasonable accuracy. We know the increase in the atmosphere with high accuracy. By substracting both, we know what the natural flows have done over a year. No need to know how much the total natural input was or the total natural output (or any individual input or output), because we know the difference. And that was a net sink over the past 50 years:
      http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/klim_img/dco2_em.jpg

      The remarkable point is that natural emissions and sinks hold each other more or less in balance, except for a small influence of temperature: 4 ppmv/degr.C. But even that variability is small: +/- 2% of the estimated natural flows.

      • Stephen Wilde

        Ferdinand,

        The numbers I chose reflected the relative proportions of source, sinks and the human contribution not absolute values.

        Therefore my illustration is correct whether the amplitude of variability is large or small.

        Proportionately the natural components are in control and simple accounting just will not do because of the elasticity of ALL the natural components.

      • Ferdinand Engelbeen

        Stephen,

        The elasticity of the combined natural elements is very small: not more than +/- 1 ppmv around a temperature dictated setpoint and even the elasticity itself is mostly temperature controlled. Thus any disturbance that exceeds the elasticity will alter the amount in the atmosphere. Which is the case for the current human emissions at 4 ppmv/year…

        Thus it will take some time to remove all the extra CO2…

  39. I am still wondering about the Salby presentation – that I have now listened to. People are obviously adding carbon to the atmosphere and there is a variable natural flux that changes with temperature. The third figure here – http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/ – shows annual increases and the changes due to for instance to the 1992 Mt Pinatubo cooling and the 1998 El Nino warming.

    The natural fluxes are some 24 times the anthropogenic flux – but this is not a fixed number and is not known with great certainty. We have an increase in both natural and anthropogenic components in the mass balance in the last few decades – and we also have sinks of substantial but variable capacity. Both sources and sinks are biologically mediated.

    The argument on isotope ratios seems moot – that we are adding carbon to the atmosphere is obvious and whether this shows up or not in isotope ratios is irrelevant.

    It seems logical to think that a substantial component of the increase over the past few decades was the result of warming in the period – and is observable in year to year variability. And that sinks have not kept pace.

    Of course – most ‘recent warming’ was the result of ENSO ‘dragon-kings’ in 1976/77 and 1997/98. Dragon-kings are as associated with a neighborhood of what can be called equivalently a phase transition, a bifurcation, a catastrophe (in the sense of Rene Thom), or a tipping point. (Sornette 2005 – Dragon-Kings, Black Swans and the Prediction of Crises)

    Most of the rest seems to involve Pacific Decadal Variation (PDV) SST changes and associated cloud feedbacks (eg Clements et al 2009, Burgmann et al 2008, Zhu et al 2007, Palle et al 2007, Trenberth et al 2010, Dessler 2010 and Spencer and Braswell 20121, McLean et al 2010).

    Near term cooling seems likely as La Niña intensifies over a decade or 3 in the current cool phase of the PDV. Beyond that the ‘dragon-kings’ rule.

  40. Stephen Wilde

    Many here are underplaying the CO2 emission rate consequences of a temperature change by relying on air temperatures.

    In fact it is water temperatures that matter so a tiny change in water temperature from insolation or upwelling induced temperature changes within the water will have a larger effect on the amount of CO2 released to the air than would ne induced by a change in the temperature of the air above.

    I think that closes off a lot of the comments in this thread.

  41. I’m about to listen to the podcast, but I already know that Salby is wrong because of isotopes. Sorry folks, but we already know the C13/C12 ratios in fossil fuels, and we know how much the C13/C12 ratio in atmospheric CO2 has increased since ~1970, and that is lab science, much more credible than the indirect measurements Salby is trying to con you with.

  42. Stephen Wilde

    I’ve put this in the other thread too because different posters are contributing in each thread.

    As regards the mass balance issue there is a way that it could be wrong as follows:

    Humans release 100 units leaving 20 units unabsorbed. 80 units go into stimulated local and regional sinks. It could be that all of it gets absorbed locally.

    Oceans absorb less due to higher temperatures from increased solar insolation allowing 30 units more than ‘normal’ to remain in the atmosphere. Or 50 units more if all the human emissions are absorbed locally.

    In each scenario atmospheric CO2 content therefore rises by 50 units which is half the human emissions.

    All 50 units will be C12 according to Salby. Previously the consequent change in the 12C and 13C ratio was thought to be entirely anthropogenic.

    Without the human contribution the local and regional sinks would be less active and the natural system would be a net source producing a solely natural rise of 30 units or 50 units as the case may be.

    In the two examples given the observed increase is half the human contribution which is approximately what we see in the real world. The mass balance argument therefore fails because it is a dynamic system responding locally or regionally with increased vigour to the human input.

    Interestingly one only needs a small change in ocean absorption rates to achieve the effect. Approximately 30% (or 50%) of the size of the human emissions which would probably be just a minute fraction of the total oceanic flux.

    On these figures the human contribution could be easily cancelled out by a very slight increase in oceanic absorption rates so the present setup should be regarded as temporary.

    Likewise a small further decrease in oceanic absorption rates would have a disproportionate effect on atmospheric CO2 without any additional contribution on our part.

    It is likely just a coincidence that for a portion of the late 20th century the effect of the increased solar insolation to the oceans ran roughly parallel to the rate of increase in human emissions.

    The increased solar insolation to the oceans having been caused by a more active sun changing the air circulation so as to draw the jetstreams poleward, reduce global cloudiness (as was observed) and allow more sunlight into the oceans.

    The smoothness of the change at Mauna Loa could be a result of the most dominant process being a longer term change in solar activity levels such as from LIA to date. Being dominant that process would suppress shorter term temperature effects other than the high frequency seasonal variations.

    This reminds me of the mistake that some make as regards economic theory. Some insist that there is only one ‘cake’ of resources of a fixed size (the mass balance idea) and everyone must share it equitably. In reality the size of the ‘cake’ increases with greater economic activity (more human input) so most if not all people get richer.

    If Salby is right and human emissions are irrelevant then that is how it must be happening.

    Also, if Salby is right then the ice cores and various other proxies must be misleading for reasons we have not yet pinned down.

    I note that plant stomata show much more variability but even they may well be under recording.

    I suspect that it is natural and routine for atmospheric CO2 levels to vary by up to 50% over periods of several centuries and somehow the ice cores are not recording it.

    After all a very small change in oceanic absorption rates must have a disproportionately large effect on the atmosphere because of the hugely different CO2 carrying capabilities. I see no reason for doubting that the oceans could cause proportionately large CO2 variations in the air on a regular basis.

    “The observed behavior is what it is.”
    Murry Salby

  43. Sorry Judy, but Selby’s podcast will not change climate science, nor will his paper when/if it’s published. It should not be. He’s clearly using short-term (month-to-month) variations to make an inference about what is the cause of the multi-decade increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide, and that is obviously invalid.
    He also uses some very fuzzy reasoning, which he races through in the first few minutes, to try to establish plausibility that the isotope signature of fossil CO2 is not a signature at all. In short, he says that both plants and fossil fuels have lower C13 ratio than the atmosphere and therefore we cannot distinguish one cause of increasing atmospheric CO2 from the other. But that is false, because they have different C13 ratio from one another, so that for any measured change in atmospheric CO2 concentration, a known change in atmospheric C13 ratio corresponds to 100% natural (plant) sources of CO2, another known change in atmospheric C13 ratio corresponds to 100% anthropogenic (fossil fuel) sources of CO2, and intermediate values correspond to a combination — and all intermediate values correspond to a well-defined proportion of fossil fuel CO2 to plant CO2.
    And remember, compared to the satellite measurements that Salby is relying on for his month-to-month correlations, atmospheric concentration of CO2 and isotope ratios are straightforward lab science, with established records for accuracy. He’s using less reliable data to try to undermine the accepted meaning of much more reliable data.

    • Fossil fuels are derived from plant sources – I think you are confusing volcanic sources with plant (and animal) sources. The natural flux – based on a plant preference for C12 – must be similar to the fossil plant source.

      • The contemporary biological sources can’t be distinguished fossil fuel sources on the basis of C13.

      • Liar.

        “These changes can easily be measured using modern isotope ratio mass spectrometry, which has the capability of measuring 13C/12C in atmospheric CO2 to better than 1 part in 10^5 (Ferretti et al., 2000).”

        http://www.ipcc.ch/publications_and_data/ar4/wg1/en/ch2s2-3.html

        The carbon contained in CO2 has two naturally occurring stable isotopes denoted 12C and 13C. The first of these, 12C, is the most abundant isotope at about 99%, followed by 13C at about 1%. Emissions of CO2 from coal, gas and oil combustion and land clearing have 13C/12C isotopic ratios that are less than those in atmospheric CO2, and each carries a signature related to its source. Thus, as shown in Prentice et al. (2001), when CO2 from fossil fuel combustion enters the atmosphere, the 13C/12C isotopic ratio in atmospheric CO2 decreases at a predictable rate consistent with emissions of CO2 from fossil origin. Note that changes in the 13C/12C ratio of atmospheric CO2 are also caused by other sources and sinks, but the changing isotopic signal due to CO2 from fossil fuel combustion can be resolved from the other components (Francey et al., 1995). These changes can easily be measured using modern isotope ratio mass spectrometry, which has the capability of measuring 13C/12C in atmospheric CO2 to better than 1 part in 10^5 (Ferretti et al., 2000). Data presented in Figure 2.3 for the 13C/12C ratio of atmospheric CO2 at Mauna Loa show a decreasing ratio, consistent with trends in both fossil fuel CO2 emissions and atmospheric CO2 mixing ratios (Andres et al., 2000; Keeling et al., 2005).

        The isotopic signature on the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration is Settled Science.

  44. ‘How did the snowball earths end? Under extreme CO2 radiative forcing (greenhouse effect), built up over millions of years because CO2 consumption by silicate weathering is slowed by the cold, while volcanic and metamorphic CO2 emissions continue unabated.’

    ‘On geological time scales, the ocean and atmosphere are in equilibrium with respect to CO2 and can be treated as a single reservoir. CO2 is supplied to this reservoir by volcanic and metamorphic emanations, and is removed as sediment in the form of CaCO3 (limestone) and organic matter (roughly CH2O). The atmospheric CO2 forms carbonic acid rain, which is neutralized (protons are consumed) by silicate rock “weathering” (conversion to soil). The resulting solutes include Ca2+ and HCO3- (bicarbonate) ions that rivers carry to the ocean, where CaCO3 is precipitated by calcifying organisms and organic matter by primary producers like cyanobacteria and algae. The entire process is often simply referred to as “silicate weathering”, because that is the rate-limiting step. Silicate weathering rate is sensitive to climate, faster where hot and wet, slower where cold and dry.’ http://www.snowballearth.org/

    I suspect that silicate weathering is the negative feedback. The last Snowball Earth occurred before land plants so there are a couple of more wrinkles. There are much bigger fluxes to and from the atmosphere – plant growth and consumption by a range of organisms on land – but the essential sink remains in the ocean. Whereas increases in CO2 form natural sources seem rapidly to respond to temperature – it is mostly respiration of hetreotrophic micro-organisms. Whereas silicate weathering and transport of solutes through soils is likely to be a slower process.

    It would be ironic indeed if acid rain solved both the CO2 increase and ocean acidification. Not that I am suggesting that we try the experiment for moment longer than necessary to meet legitimate human aspirations.

  45. SkpScience claims they’ve “debunked” Salby’s paper before it’s been published.

    http://www.skepticalscience.com/Murry-Salby-CO2-rise-natural.htm