Spencer Part2: More CO2 Peculiarities – The C13/C12 Isotope Ratio

NOTE: This post is the second in the series from Dr. Roy Spencer of the National Space Science and Technology Center at University of Alabama, Huntsville. The first, made last Friday, was called Atmospheric CO2 Increases: Could the Ocean, Rather Than Mankind, Be the Reason?

Due to the high interest and debate his first post has generated, Dr. Spencer asked me to make this second one, and I’m happy to oblige.

Here is part2 of Dr. Spencer’s essay on CO2 without any editing or commentary on my part.

(Side note: Previously, I erroneously reported that Dr. Spencer was out of the country. Not so. That was my mistake and a confusion with an email autoresponse from another person named “Roy”. Hence this new update.)


More CO2 Peculiarities: The C13/C12 Isotope Ratio

Roy W. Spencer

January 28, 2008

In my previous post, I showed evidence for the possibility that there is a natural component to the rise in concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere.  Briefly, the inter-annual co-variability in Southern Hemisphere SST and Mauna Loa CO2 was more than large enough to explain the long-term trend in CO2.  Of course, some portion of the Mauna Loa increase must be anthropogenic, but it is not clear that it is entirely so.

Well, now I’m going to provide what appears to be further evidence that there could be a substantial natural source of the long-term increase in CO2.

One of the purported signatures of anthropogenic CO2 is the carbon isotope ratio, C13/C12.   The “natural” C13 content of CO2 is just over 1.1%.  In contrast, the C13 content of the CO2 produced by burning of fossil fuels is claimed to be slightly smaller – just under 1.1%.

The concentration of C13 isn’t reported directly, it is given as “dC13″, which is computed as:

“dC13 = 1000* {([C13/C12]sample / [C13/C12]std ) – 1

The plot of the monthly averages of this index from Mauna Loa is shown in Fig. 1.

spencer-c12-c13-image1.png

Now, as we burn fossil fuels, the ratio of C13 to C12 is going down.  From what I can find digging around on the Internet, some people think this is the signature of anthropogenic emissions.  But if you examine the above equation, you will see that the C13 index that is reported can go down not only from decreasing C13 content, but also from an increasing C12 content (the other 98.9% of the CO2).

If we convert the data in Fig. 1 into C13 content, we find that the C13 content of the atmosphere is increasing (Fig. 2).

spencer-c12-c13-image2.png

So, as the CO2 content of the atmosphere has increased, so has the C13 content…which, of course, makes sense when one realizes that fossil-fuel CO2 has only very slightly less C13 than “natural” CO2 (about 2.6% less in relative terms).  If you add more CO2, whether from a natural or anthropogenic source, you are going to add more C13.

The question is: how does the rate of increase in C13 compare to the CO2 increase from natural versus anthropogenic sources?

First, lets look at the C13 versus C12 for the linear trend portion of these data (Fig. 3).

spencer-c12-c13-image3.png

The slope of this line (1.0952%) represents the ratio of C13 variability to C12 variability associated with the trend signals.  When we compare this to what is to be expected from pure fossil CO2 (1.0945%), it is very close indeed: 97.5% of the way from “natural” C13 content (1.12372%) to the fossil content.

At this point, one might say, “There it is!  The anthropogenic signal!”.  But, alas, the story doesn’t end there.

If we remove the trend from the data to look at the inter-annual signals in CO2 and C13, we get the curves shown in Figures 4 and 5.

spencer-c12-c13-image4.png

spencer-c12-c13-image5.png

Note the strong similarity – the C13 variations very closely follow the C12 variations, which again (as in my previous post) are related to SST variations (e.g. the strong signal during the 1997-98 El Nino event).

Now, when we look at the ratio of these inter-annual signals like we did from the trends in Fig. 3, we get the relationship seen in Fig. 6.

spencer-c12-c13-image6.png

Significantly, note that the ratio of C13 variability to CO2 variability is EXACTLY THE SAME as that seen in the trends!

BOTTOM LINE: If the C13/C12 relationship during NATURAL inter-annual variability is the same as that found for the trends, how can people claim that the trend signal is MANMADE??

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158 Responses to Spencer Part2: More CO2 Peculiarities – The C13/C12 Isotope Ratio

  1. Atmoz says:

    Could you post a link or a citation to the data you used in your analysis?

  2. Roy Spencer says:

    The monthly C13/C12 ratio data from Mauna Loa (1990-2005) are available here:
    ftp://ftp.cmdl.noaa.gov/ccg/co2c13/flask/month/mlo_01D0_mm.co2c13

    The monthly Mauna Loa CO2 data (1958-2007) are contained in the 5th file listed here:
    ftp://ftp.cmdl.noaa.gov/ccg/co2/trends

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  4. Hans Erren says:

    Fossil coal is buried wood. So why would you expect a difference in the C12/C13 relationship between fossil and living wood in the first place?
    The annual vegetation amplitude is approx 8GtC, but it’s a cycle, what goes up comes down, whereas the fossil signal is cumulative one way.
    http://home.casema.nl/errenwijlens/co2/vegetation2003.gif

  5. Gary Gulrud says:

    This would make good sense if the increase in C-13 is owed to increased temp.; increasing CO2 increasing biomass; biomass increasing C-13. Plants would respire C-13 preferentially, wouldn’t they?

  6. Craig Loehle says:

    Roy: can you say what would be the C13 ratio of outgassing ocean CO2 resulting from ocean warming?

  7. Evan Jones says:

    I was saying that the exchanges other than industry were negative (more atmospheric CO2 absorbed than exuded).

    Therefore, even if the absorption “eased off” if under “less pressure” (which in turn means you’d get diminishing benefits from CO2 cuts. What reinforces in one direction must, perforece, “un-reinforce” if headed in the other direction), any CO2 accumulation must come from man.

    But Spencer seems to be challenging the basic premise. He’s saying that the evidence implies that the exchange between atmospher and ocean is NOT negative, but positive.

    OTOH, Ferdinand (IIRC) or someone(s) else was saying that ony an average of 10 ppmv comes out of the ocean for every degree C, and that this matches the 100 ppm ice core measurements for the 10C swing from here to the Geological Ice Ages caused by eccentricity, wobble, and/or tilt.

    But Ferdinand then indicates that CO2 emissions are estimated by ice cores to be what sees to be a SMALLER percentage drop than the historical records than the precipitous drop in industrial production and fuel consumption would seem to indicate during the Great Depression.

    So I am calling the accuracy of ice-core measurement as CO2 proxy into question, not from a scientific viewpoint, but from the historical angle.

    I therefore ask, do MODERN ice core measures INDEPENDENTLY match modern air-measured CO2 records? And if they do, is it possible that some of that CO2 somehow bleeds out of the archaic ice?

    I want this all to add up.

  8. Evan Jones says:

    “Fossil coal is buried wood. So why would you expect a difference in the C12/C13 relationship between fossil and living wood in the first place?”

    Well, it must be different for C14 or carbon dating wouldn’t work. So why not for C12/13?

    Come to think of it, all fossil fuel is dang old. Should maybe they should also be looking at C14 levels to determine man’s ‘contribution”?

  9. Roy Spencer says:

    I don’t understand the relevance of the wood issue. The natural CO2 changes appear to be related to ocean temperatures (we are just starting to look at what regions are most responsible).

    The point is that the C13/C12 ratio is the SAME for the long terms TRENDS (supposedly manmade) and the NATURAL interannual variability in SSTs. So, the C13/C12 ratio does not appear to be a discriminator of an Anthropogenic source.

    Also, very old ice core measurements come from highly compressed layers. How much diffusion of CO2 has there been across these thin layers of ice over thousands of years? Anything like what we have measured at Mauna Loa over the last 50 years would be smoothed out, giving the appearance of stable CO2 concentrations over centuries or millenia.

  10. Evan Jones,

    To answer your last remark first, fossil fuels still have the same d13C composition as when they were formed, many millions of years ago. 12C and 13C are stable isotopes. 14C is a radioactive carbon isotope (made by the collision of cosmic rays with nitrogen in the high stratosphere), and has a half-life time of 5730 years, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiocarbon_dating.

    Radiocarbon dating works for objects up to about 60,000 years. But fossil fuel is completely depleted of 14C (much too old), while current wood shows 14C/12C ratios more or less equal to the current atmospheric level.

    That fossil fuel is completely depleted of 14C was observed and radiocarbon dating need a correction after about 1870, due to fossil fuel burning, up to the 1950′s, when the atomic bomb testing made radiocarbon dating impossible.

  11. Gary Gulrud says:

    C-14 dating ‘works’ because of radioactive decay. The half-life of 5362 (I didn’t look it up) means after that period half the C-14 has decayed. A simple differential equation is used to estimate the elapsed time. The error has been reported at <5% but some stunningly bad dates have been put forward from time to time which can happen simply from water leaching away carbon or because the original C-14 proportion is poorly estimated.
    For the C-13 model age is not a first order concern, radioactivity is not involved in any way.

  12. Gary Gulrud says:

    Sorry, I brought up C-14 on the other thread before Dr. Spencer’s reply on the C-13/C-12 ratio because the originator, Suess, had estimated the appropriate slope using his C-14/C-12 study. I thought it important to mention that we now know the rate of C-14 creation was diminishing over his study period.

  13. Dear Dr. Spencer,

    A few remarks on the d13C changes…

    To begin with, there is no practical difference in d13C of fossil fuel and vegetation decay, both are in average around -25 per mil d13C. As the seasonal changes of CO2 levels in the NH are governed by vegetation uptake and decay, it is no wonder that you can find (near) exact the same change as for the general trend.

    The interesting point of d13C ratio’s is that there are only two known sources of low d13C, that are fossil fuels and decaying vegetation. All other known sources (volcanic degassing, deep oceans, ocean surface, carbonate rocks,…) have slighlty negative to slightly positive d13C values.

    Thus (deep) ocean (0-4 per mil d13C) degassing can not be resposible for the decreasing trend in d13C values.

    But vegetation decay can be responsible. That depends of which is prevailing: more vegetation decay than growth or the opposite.

    Lucky, we have another, independent, measurement to know which one is prevailing: oxygen use or production. Since about 1990 we have oxygen measurements (at the edge of analytical possibilities), which are accurate enough to see the small difference between oxygen use from fossil fuel burning and the oxygen use/production of vegetation decay/growth.

    This revealed that (at least) since 1990, somewhat less oxygen was used than calculated from fossil fuel burning. Thus vegetation produces more oxygen than it uses. And as vegetation growth prefers 12C over 13C, more 13C is left in the atmosphere. Vegetation thus is not the cause of the d13C decline…

    As fossil fuel burning is the only known source of 13C depletion in the atmosphere left, it probably is entirely responsible for the whole d13C decrease…

    For a more in-depth analyses of the d13C/O2 analyses and the resulting partitioning of CO2 sinks between oceans and vegetation, see Battle ea.:
    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/287/5462/2467

  14. Roy Spencer says:

    Thanks, Ferdinand, for the very informative post.

    It now looks like it is the warm ocean areas of the west Pacific and Indian Ocean that are highly correlated with the interannual variations in CO2 at Mauna Loa. So, this sounds more like some sort of temperature-related outgassing, doesn’t it? (The upwelling zones show little or no correlation. There is also a large area of high correlations over the entire eastern North Atlantic.)

    This paper on “The Global CO2 Survey” shows that the ocean-atmosphere exchange is a strong function of wind speed…so that could be involved, too:
    http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/pubs/outstand/feel2331/feel2331.shtml

  15. Roy Spencer says:

    Ferdinand:

    You said: “To begin with, there is no practical difference in d13C of fossil fuel and vegetation decay, both are in average around -25 per mil d13C. As the seasonal changes of CO2 levels in the NH are governed by vegetation uptake and decay, it is no wonder that you can find (near) exact the same change as for the general trend.”

    But it’s not the seasonal signal I’m measuring. It’s interannual variability (running 12-month averaging removes the seasonal signal). And since that signal correlates much better with SST than it does N.H. land temperatures, I’m assuming that the CO2 in question is coming from, and going into, the ocean

    You said: “As fossil fuel burning is the only known source of 13C depletion in the atmosphere left, it probably is entirely responsible for the whole d13C decrease”

    I’me beginning to wonder whether you read my post, Ferdinand. I already showed that the interannual variability has exactly the same ratio of C13/C12 as does the trend. So, how is it that mankind is responsible for decreasing dC13 in the long term, but natural variability (which has exactly the same C13/C12 relationship) can be ruled out for the long-term trend?

  16. wattsupwiththat says:

    FYI, here’s a couple of NESDIS sea surface temp images for comparison

    1998: Big El Nino

    2008: Big La Nina

    There’s a lot of energy flux going on there. It’s hard to argue against temperature/solubility CO2 outgassing effects with that kind of energy change involved over such a broad area. I would think that outgassing occurs faster than uptake due to CO2 partial pressure.

  17. Dan Evens says:

    What is the physical process in which C12 moves into plants faster than C13?

  18. Hans Erren says:

    http://home.casema.nl/errenwijlens/co2/co2lt_2007.gif
    Roy you are referring to the CO2 thermometer that Jarl Ahlbeck discovered, and for which he demonstrated that the UAH sat temperature is a better metric than the surface temperature (!).
    The South Pole has an even more distinctive ENSO signature in the CO2 growth:

    (NOAA acknowledged herewith)
    ftp://ftp.cmdl.noaa.gov/ccg/co2/in-situ/spo/spo_01C0_mm.co2

    monthly dCO2/dy graph here:
    http://home.casema.nl/errenwijlens/co2/dCO2_sp.gif

    But that’s not the point is it? What we see is not a temperature dependent source, but a temperature dependent sink flux! Or in electronic equivalent: we see a temperature dependent power source, and a temperature dependent resistance:

    I= V(T)/R(T) +constants

    But the V(T) part is only 10 ppm/K, whereas the R(T) part is 4 ppm/y/K. So what you see in Mauna Loa (and South Pole) is that the flux resistance is temperature modulated, and not the gradient itself, that is only visible in ice cores.

    Also the sink flux is in first order proportional to the excess gradient as is observed, and is dictated by Fick’s law (diffusion) or Ohm’s law (electricity). In warm years CO2 accumulates in the atmosphere, only increasing the gradient, which will flow out even more rapid in colder cycle years. So I also don’t see a reason why CO2 should remain in the atmosphere “forever”, as some alarmists want us to believe.

    As the sink flux is also dCO2/dt=KCO2 we immediately see the solution to the differential equation that governs the CO2 sink flux: an e-folding decay function for a spike input, a Peter Dietze demonstrated 55 years.

  19. Dear Dr. Spencer,

    I think that we need to take into account the different mechanisms which govern d13C and total CO2 changes vs. temperature. And between seasonal variations and interannual variations in temperature.

    - If the temperature increases, this has opposite effects for vegetation and oceans on CO2 flows: more CO2 release in the tropics, less absorption near the poles for oceans. But more CO2 uptake by plants (especially in the mid-latitudes). This leads to more CO2 uptake in summer and more decay over the whole year.
    The CO2 uptake by plants wins in the case of seasonal changes (lower CO2 levels) for the NH (more vegetation), but there is little variation in the SH.
    The CO2 release/less uptake by oceans wins in the case of interannual temperature changes, that is what we see for the ppmv/°C changes.

    - If the temperature increases, this has similar effects for oceans and vegetation: more degassing of 13C rich CO2 (0-4 d13C) vs. the atmosphere (-8 per mil d13C), more 12C uptake by vegetation, leaving relative more 13C in the atmosphere. Both increase the d13C level.

    - But we see that in the atmosphere (ice cores – firn – atmosphere), as well as in the upper oceans (coralline sponges), d13C levels decline, starting around 1850. See:
    http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/klim_img/sponges.gif
    Thus the long term trend has had little influence from interannual natural variations, neither from increasing temperatures…

  20. Dear Dr. Spencer,

    My previous post was sent before I had read your reaction…

    Here some more clarification:

    In general, we can say that over a relative short time span we have three influences with increasing SST:
    - the influence of the emissions (in general twice the CO2 variation, but near equal at El Niño episodes) on CO2 levels: increasing, on d13C levels: decreasing, not influenced by temperature.
    - the influence of vegetation on CO2 levels: decreasing, 13C levels: increasing.
    - the influence of the oceans on CO2 levels: increasing, 13 C levels: increasing.

    The total influence on CO2 is (based on a few guesses):
    +7 GtC with -24 per mil d13C from the emissions
    -2 GtC wich acts as +24 per mil d13C from vegetation uptake
    +2.5 GtC with 0 per mil d13C from warmer oceans.

    Total increase (observed in the atmosphere): +7.5 GtC
    Effect on atmospheric d13C (observed in the atmosphere): – 0.05 per mil d13C
    The latter can be calculated, including the 90 GtC seasonal ocean exchanges (which dilute the emissions fingerprint with about 20%), but it may be clear from this figures that the 7 GtC from the emissions with very low d13C minus 2 GtC with very high d13C by far outweigh the 2.5 GtC with near zero d13C from the oceans. This only temporarely reduces the decrease speed, not the decrease itself.

    One need about 4 GtC from the (deep) oceans to compensate 1 GtC from the emissions with a neutral effect on atmospheric d13C levels…
    Thus even during natural variations, the d13C decrease from the emissions by far dominates the change in ratio’s, that is why you don’t see a difference between short term and long term variations in d13C.

  21. Forgot to add: the figures used were for the 1998 El Niño year…

  22. Roy Spencer says:

    Ferdinand:

    Thanks for the detailed explanation. It will take me awhile to digest all of the various numbers and compensating influences in the carbon budget you have listed.

    I was under the impression that we didn’t understand the details of the carbon cycle…but obviously, I was mistaken. ;)

    -Roy

  23. Jim Kingsley says:

    Dr. Spencer makes some convincing arguements.

    I would hasten to add, however, that much of the “ice core average global
    temperature” is based on the Oxygen 16 to Oxygen 18 ratios.

    The problem with this “proxy”, which I have yet to illuminate a good rational for, is that the geo-physics types have used this number to trace water flows from various areas as it has been established that WARM WEATHER thunderstorms in costal areas push the O18 up (significantly, as in a 30% higher isotope concentration).

    As such, the O18 to O16 ratio, as far as I’m concerned, gives perhaps an “atmopheric energy” indication (i.e., a number reflecting the number of warm weather T.S.’s versus cold weather, continental ones), but does NOT give a reasonable proxy for “global temperature”.

    I read a less rigorous computation, years ago..making the fundamental mistake Dr. Spencer has pointed out…and one of my first thoughts was,
    “Is there some other ‘mechanism’ which could shift isotope ratios around?”.

    Thus, I’m totally CAUTIOUS about drawing “yea” or “ney” conclusions on the isotope ratios.

  24. Tim Rutkevich says:

    Hans Erren wrote(05:34:29) :

    Fossil coal is buried wood. So why would you expect a difference in the C12/C13 relationship between fossil and living wood in the first place?
    The annual vegetation amplitude is approx 8GtC, but it’s a cycle, what goes up comes down, whereas the fossil signal is cumulative one way.
    http://home.casema.nl/errenwijlens/co2/vegetation2003.gif

    Plants have preference for the “lighter” C12. If you would look at the total Carbon cycle, you would see that geological CO2 emissions have higher concentrations of C13. If you would attribute all increases in CO2 to the anthropogenic i.e. fossil origin C. The balance should change to C12 side. What it means: oceans and earth plants are able to deal with all anthropogenic CO2. What we have is geological outgassing that changing concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere.

  25. Evan Jones says:

    Very interesting.

    Hard to follow, but very interesting. (If I didn’t have a handle on the 5th-grade version of the exchange rates I wouldn’t be anywhere close.)

    Hmmm.

    To let man off the hook:
    It’s the ocean because the C12 ratio is not increasing. The stuff man is putting out is absorbed. Man’s contibution to ocean sink is lost in the crowd (6.3-to-38,000 BMTC). PDO/AMO or whatever causes the increase in upper ocean temperatures and C13 exudes. (Which I think RS is saying.)

    To blame it on man:
    Is it possible that the fossil-fuelC12 is being absorbed by the ocean but this is creating upper ocean saturation and therefore forcing increased C13 outgassing? The C12 incease being lost in the sink, masking the anthropogenic fingerprint? (Which I think FE is saying.)

    Is this a correct 5th-grade understanding of the argument?

  26. Jd says:

    My mind is trying to bend around the discussion.
    From this layman’s view, I wonder if the temp-atmosphere-ocean-CO2 venting-anthro-uptake-input. etc. has a “Chicken or Egg” quality about it? Sorry I can’t be more specific.
    Good threads Anthony!
    Jd

  27. Evan Jones says:

    Well, using the Everyday Math approach, I suggest froming a team and cutting out pictures of farm animals and pasting them in a notebook and downloading a report on cruelty of the methods of modern dairies.

    (And then protect the endangered fox when he gets into chicken COOP-A.)

  28. Tim and Evan,

    The 13C/12C ratio is decreasing, as well as in the atmosphere as in the upper oceans, over about 150 years, since mankind is using fossil fuels in increasingly amounts.

    This excludes the oceans as large (continuous) source of extra CO2, as ocean CO2 has a 13C/12C ratio of about zero to slightly positive (0-4 per mil) d13C, that means a higher ratio 13C/12C than the atmosphere which is currently around -8 per mil.

    With more CO2 from the oceans, the positive d13C would increase the d13C from the atmosphere with some amount per year, e.g from -8 per mil to -7.9 per mil d13C. But we see that the opposite happens, even during stronger outgassing of the oceans during the warm El Niño episodes. Despite the stronger outgassing, the emissions still are more influential, as the emissions have a much lower 13C/12C ratio (-24 per mil d13C) than the atmosphere.

    Thus what we see in the d13C record, is that there is a continuous decrease of d13C levels in the atmosphere and upper ocean levels, caused by human emissions, but a small variability in the year-by-year decrease, caused by (mainly ocean) temperature changes. See:
    http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/klim_img/sponges.gif

    About the same happens with the increase of total CO2 in the atmosphere: the increase is mainly caused by human emissions, but the increase speed is modulated by temperature variations.

    If we look at only the variability of the increase/decrease speed, then we see large variations from year to year, but in the total trend (over the past 50/150/600 years), these are tiny wobbles…

  29. Paul Dennis says:

    I find this a very intersting and stimulating discussion. Thank you, Roy Spencer for posting the essay and thank you to the other contributors. It’s provoking me to give some serious thought to the problem of the carbon system and isotopes.

    At this stage, I just want to make one point concerning the carbon dioxide-aqueous carbon dioxide-bicarbonate-carbonate system. Comments have been made that the deep ocean cannot be a source of isotopically depleted carbon dioxide because the carbon-13 compositions are close to 0 per mille wrt to VPDB (VPDB is the standard to which carbon isotope compositions are referred).

    Most of the carbon in the ocean is in the form of bicarbonate and not aqueous carbon dioxide. There is a marked fractionation between carbon dioxide and dissolved bicarbonate, with the carbon dioxide in equilibrium with bicarbonate being some 8 to 10 per mille depleted in 13C with respect to the bicarbonate. This is temperature dependent, with the degree of fractionation decreasing with increasing temperature.

    One might expect that CO2 degassing from the ocean would have isotope composition close to -8 per mille and not close to 0 per mille as has been suggested by some correspondents here.

    At least that’s my take on the problem at first sight!

  30. E Mohr says:

    I think Dr. Spencer is on the right track. There is no doubt that ocean uptake and outgassing are temperature dependent. The big problem is trying to get accurate estimates on the details of these processes, which last I heard was not a trivial problem.
    As for the anthropogenic signal in the C13/C12 ratios there is one other thing to consider.

    Since increased C02 is thought to increase plant biomass, and higher temperatures also are conducive to plant growth, it is entirely possible that the decreasing C13/C12 ratio is the result of increased decay of photosynthesizing organisms, which is secondary to increased productivity.

    This is not to say that there isn’t a fossil fuel component, but it will be hard to find amongst the huge natural fluxes.

  31. Al Fin says:

    Fascinating discussion! Thanks to Anthony and Dr. Spencer.

    This is the type of open debate of climate fundamentals that is unavailable at most climate sites. It should be required reading for all students of atmospheric sciences, marine science, climatology, geology, and meteorology.

  32. Raven says:

    I can follow the arguments but the numbers just don’t add up for me.

    Humans are adding CO2. This CO2 is going somewhere. If humans were not adding the CO2 then the CO2 level would not rise as fast or might even fall assuming that the natural sources and sinks are not responding to human emissions.

    To let humans off the hook one would have to argue that nature tightly regulates the levels of CO2 in the atomosphere and that the natural sources would increase (or sinks decrease) to replace whatever CO2 humans add.

    It seems to me that this investigation should start by looking for evidence that the CO2 levels are tightly regulated by nature. If they are regulated then the isotope ratio becomes irrelevant. If they aren’t regulated then the human contribution will add to the total no matter what nature is doing on its own.

  33. Paul Dennis,

    Thanks for your thoughts. What you say about the bicarbonate / CO2aq fractionation is very interesting.

    I did give up to understand why there was a (preindustrial) d13C equilibrium between the oceans and atmosphere, where the oceans were average at 0 to +5 per mille, while the atmosphere was near continuously at -6.4 per mille.

    Have you more literature info about that?

  34. Steve Keohane says:

    Great discussion. If greater amounts of atmospheric CO2 increase plant growth, and present CO2 concentrations should increase growth 20-30%, shouldn’t the bi-annual minima and maxima of measured CO2 be more divergent?

  35. TR says:

    As a COMPLETE layman, I appreciate the fact that there is a level of scientific detail way beyond me that is necessary for the community to debate. I know nothing of C12 ratios and all that, so I can’t comment on it. I also understand that this post is intended to debate the scientific merits of Dr. Spencers paper, and not a debate over the general AGW merits. However, after my disclaimer, I cannot reconcile the basic facts, which don’t seem to be debated here or elsewhere: (1) it is temerature that is driving the oceanic exchange of CO2 levels, not vice-versa. If it were vice-versa, and CO2 drives temperature, and given the HUGE reservoir of CO2 in the oceans, we would have an unstable system, and run-away temperature increases; and (2) the annual or seasonal temperature variation and SST variation causes CO2 exchange on a level that dwarfs human contributions.

    If a warmer ocean releases huge amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere, which does NOT result in the cascading effect (or positive feedback) of driving the temperatures even higher, then how can our small contribution drive the temperature high enough to cause a global catastrophe? The only way that would happen is if the carbon cycle is so finely tuned and so highly sensitive, that any external carbon inputs to the system would cause it to go unstable. And I find that extremely unlikely, since we know that external inputs, such as major volcanic activity, war, fires, etc., have occurred many times throughout history, even recently. There had to have been spikes in the atmosheric CO2 levels that were beyond this delicately balanced carbon cycle.

    Therefore, if both (1) and (2) are true, then catastrophic AGW cannot be true. My questions, then, are this: are (1) and (2) still a point of debate within the community? Where is my logic flawed?

    I apologize if this is too far off topic, but I just can’t absorb the details until I get past the basics.

  36. E Mohr,

    You are right that there is more decay with higher temperatures, as good as there may be more uptake. But the oxygen balance shows that currently there is about 1.5 GtC more uptake than decay of vegetation over a year. Thus despite the huge seasonal flows, there is no net addition of CO2 from vegetation to the atmosphere and a net increase of 13C, as 12C is preferentially built into vegetation.

  37. Mike Borgelt says:

    Ferdinand Engelbeen wrote:

    “while current wood shows 14C/12C ratios more or less equal to the current atmospheric level.”

    If plants preferentially uptake the lighter carbon isotope in the C12/C13 balance why is the C12/C14 ratio about the same in current wood and current atmosphere? Surely the C14 in wood should be deficient compared to the atmosphere?

  38. Roy Spencer says:

    MAJOR REVISIONS TO MY ORIGINAL POST:

    This is what happens when one tries to do science in real time….

    I went back and redid how I get the “trend” (I now use a 2nd order polynomial), and I switched to the traditional way of computing the annual cycle. I’m now sure I am doing the best that can be done to separate out the low frequency, seasonal cycle, and interannual variability signals.

    I don’t want to spill ALL the beans because it’s clearly time to write up something to submit for publication. But, basically, each of the three time scales have their own, distinct values of dC13 at each of 3 stations: Mauna Loa, Barrow, and South Pole.

    As a teaser, the seasonal cycles at Mauna Loa and Barrow, Alaska have a 100% terrestrial biomass and/or fossil fuel signal (-26.6 and -26.4 permil, respectively). No surprise there.

    The dC13 values for the TRENDS for those two stations are MUCH less than the terrestrial/fossil signal…more like an oceanic signal.

    And, finally, the trend signal at the South Pole has a dC13 value of only -1.6. That is very close to the Pee Dee Belemnite standard for “natural” CO2 devoid of marine or terrestrial depleted-C13 influences (if there is such a thing), which is by definition, 0.0.

    Interesting stuff.

  39. Following the thread with great interest, but, like many another, with a much lower level of real understanding.

    I admire the spirited, yet reasoned (and source-attributed) nature of these discussions. This is real, collegial sparring of the highest quality. And, needless to say, rarely observed elsewhere.

    Keep up the good work. You are a great example for young science types.

  40. Dear Dr. Spencer,

    Can you update the graphs according to your revisions?

    I can’t place your remark about the (25-years?) trends, as there is little difference for d13C trends between Barrow and the South Pole, but there is an altitude delay (Barrow 7 m, Mauna Loa 3000 m) and a NH-SH delay.
    And Barrow and Alert show a much deeper decrease around 1990 than the other stations. See:
    http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/klim_img/d13c_trends.jpg

    The lag between NH and SH (as well as for CO2 as for d13C trends) points to a NH source of d13C depleted extra CO2…

    And one need to take into account the large seasonal ocean circulation (about 90 GtC/yr) which dilutes the d13C signal…

  41. Stan Needham says:

    This is real, collegial sparring of the highest quality. And, needless to say, rarely observed elsewhere.

    My level of understanding is probably less than yours, Wayne, but it is a refreshing change from the Hockey team, isn’t it? Now if only my math and physics skills were a little sharper.

  42. E. Mohr says:

    For TR.

    Sorry I don’t have any links to relevant papers, but a quick google search should find the info for you. Anyway if memory serves, regarding point 1. The ice core data shows that there is a lag between temperature change and [CO2]. This varies from ~ 600 years to as much as ~2300 years, and it is always the case that temperature changes first and this is followed by a change in [C02]. Therefore it seems that dT drives [CO2]. Certainly the CO2 solubility versus temperature graphs tell us that this is so.

    As for point 2, the seasonal changes definitely dwarf the proposed human contribution. Judging by the large jumps in atmospheric [CO2] during El Nino events, it is tempting to think that this is SST driven, especially considering CO2 solubility is reduced in warm water.

    Meanwhile for Ferdinand, you have some very interesting graphs on your web site that I will have to think about. Zeer interesant.

    BTW my old Geochemistry Text (Brownlow, 1979) – no doubt outdated – shows large inflows of inorganic ocean carbon going into biomass – presumably photosynthetic plankton and other marine species. My thought was that, if the oceans have become more productive this would increase total biomass, and also the total organic flux, which might explain some of the decrease in d13/d12 ratios. It’s interesting that the sponge data shows a steady decline in d13 that coincides with the end of the little ice age, and predates large human emissions. On the other hand I have no idea why the sponge data showed essentially steady d13/12 ratios before 1850. Perhaps less intensive farming and fertilizer effluent into the ocean, or something else. I’m looking forward to Dr. Spencer’s paper and his ideas on this.

    All in all really great data and food for thought.

  43. Mike Borgelt,

    I suppose that the 14C/12C ratio is less affected by biological uptake processes, as the amount of 14C in the atmosphere is extremely small (some 10^-12), compared to the 13C, which is about 1%. Thus any 14CO2 which passes by might be incorporated in the carbon cycle of vegetation.

    Anyway, this is what I learned from several sources, including the following (slide 26 in the slide show mentioned below):

    The d14C of the carbon flux into the terrestrial biosphere or ocean surface is exactly the same as the d14C of atmospheric CO2 at the time of flux

    All:

    I found a very interesting slide show about 13C and 14C exchanges here:
    http://tinyurl.com/2jyvqs by Jim Randersom.

    This includes slides about atmospheric CO2 mixing and the d14C decrease in the atmosphere pre-nuclear bomb testing.

    I haven’t thought much about the d14C changes since the industrial revolution, but it gives interesting perspectives. While it is impossible to make a distinction between vegetation decay and fossil fuel d13C changes, d14C gives a clue, as fossil fuel is completely depleted of 14C.
    This is already used to distinguish between natural/human contribution of diurnal CO2 changes on land, soot deposits (wood vs. coal) and the biogenic/ocean flows determination (based on pre- and post nuclear bomb tests d14C fate)…

  44. E. Mohr,

    My thought was that, if the oceans have become more productive this would increase total biomass, and also the total organic flux, which might explain some of the decrease in d13/d12 ratios. It’s interesting that the sponge data shows a steady decline in d13 that coincides with the end of the little ice age, and predates large human emissions. On the other hand I have no idea why the sponge data showed essentially steady d13/12 ratios before 1850.

    It is the other way out: more ocean productivity uses primarely more 12C, thus leaving more 13C behind in the upper oceans. This makes that the upper oceans are 1-4 per mil higher in d13C than the deep oceans, the highest values are found at places with the highest production…
    The about 1°C change between MWP – LIA only gives a small d13C change, the opposite temperature change LIA-current supposedly is not larger. Thus the bulk of the reduction is from fossil fuel burning…

  45. Loquor says:

    The idea about a strong oceanic component in the present co2 rise is, as far as i know, hardly a brand new hypothesis, but a rather dead horse being pulled from its grave every now and then – by Khilyuk& Chilingar, Howard Hayden, Zbigniew Jaworowski & Segalstad from Lyndon LaRouches “Schiller Institute”, by E.G.Beck and now by Dr. Spencer.

    I have not seen anything new in Spencers post that has not been quite thoroughly debunked or otherwise done to death elsewhere, and I think Ferdinand Engelbeen has made a clear and eloquent presentation pointing the usual arguments out – applause.

    I would like to ask a further, quite simple question (sorry if this has been adressed somewhere I have not read carefully enough): Even leaving the isotopic signal aside, how can Spencer defend his hypothesis when it has been shown very clearly that the ocean is a huge net sink of anthropogenic co2?

    E.g. by Sabine et al (Science July 2004): http://www.gfdl.noaa.gov/reference/bibliography/2004/cls0401.pdf

    or Sarmiento et al. (Nature May 1998)
    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v393/n6682/abs/393245a0.html

    ???

    Nobody disputes that manmade co2 is but a small part of the total carbon flux, and neither do I think that anybody disagrees with the notion that there is a huge exchange back and forth between the atmosphere and the ocean´s upper layers, nor with the daily and seasonal variations of co2. But when all this is taken together and accounted for, the bottomline seems to conclude that the oceans have had a net uptake of more than 100 billion metric tonnes since the Industrial Revolution. This taken together with the fact that the deep oceans are indeed lagging the upper layers in co2 uptake hardly supports any hypotheses about a deep-ocean source, and when the isotopic evidence is further added upon, I frankly do not see any shred of evidence to back up Dr. Spencers claims?

    It does seem like Spencer really honestly believes he is on to something that everyone else has so far missed, and I am open to the possibility that there is something I have myself missed (both here and back at ecology on the undergraduate level).

    However, as I read this and most of the comments, it appears to me as if Dr. Spencer simply has not really bothered to study much of the rich literature on this subject before doing his calculations and writing this here up.

  46. Evan Jones says:

    Well, I mentioned very early on (in the previous thread) that the DoE lists the oceans as a net sink (around minus 2 BMTC/year).

    But would seem to be the very point that Dr. Spenser is disputing.

    That would leave the question as to where man’s 6.3 BMTC is winding up (it goes to atmosphere and from there 3.2 goes to land and/or sea sinks).

    So if the ocean is net a contributor, that would have to mean that the land is absorbing it all, c. 3%+ more exchange than measured, and the ocean exchange measurements is off by at least 6%.

    Or else the ocean is absorbing some but exuding that much more and then some.

    Either that or man’s 6.3 BMTC output number would have to be wrong.

    Assuming the base numbers are right. Could the measurements be that far off?

  47. Gary Gulrud says:

    Loquor,

    I had Ecology too but I think my physics, math and chemistry prepared me better for this study. You didn’t mention why you think the deep ocean is lagging in CO2 uptake, but in any event, Dr. Spencer is simply stating that one particular argument in support of AGW is invalid. You haven’t addressed that issue and the remainder of your discussion does not seem to pertain.

  48. Raven says:

    Evan,

    There is one other possibility: that size of the sinks depends on the amount of CO2 added. In other words, if man was not emitting the CO2 the ocean would contribute more because the planet is trying to get to some new CO2 equilibrium point and would do that no matter what humans do.

    If that hypothesis can be supported by the evidence then isotope ratios are irrelevant.

  49. Gary Gulrud says:

    I’m sorry, it would have been better to say that Max Beran had a better tack; attack Dr. Spencer’s statistics and/or their interpretation. Simply detailing more facts, as Ferdinand is doing very well, doesn’t undercut the argument.

  50. Gary Gulrud,

    The interpretation of Dr. Spences (and of Max Beran) of the dCO2/dt is that temperature may have enough influence to explain a large part of the total increase. And therefore that it is impossible to know cause and effect.

    But what they both do is looking at the temporarely effect of one variable, and even then one-sided. They only look at the warming part, not at the cooling part (like the 1992 Pinatubo event).

    What we see in the trends is that the effect of warming and cooling temperatures have an effect on the CO2 increase speed, but that is even per year minor compared to the emissions, the other variable (in average twice the effect of temperature) and is completely dwarfed over several years.

    Cyclic events like the day/night, summer/winter, El Niño/La Niña only have a temporarely effect and don’t add or substract anything after a full cycle, if the cycle is perfect. Only the difference between the start and end of the full cycle is of interest, and that is near fully controlled by the emissions, only for a very small part (less than 2 ppmv/60 ppmv) by temperature over the past 50 years…

  51. Raven,

    I have a background in process technology (some time ago…) and was 17 years trouble shooter for chemical processes (later cahnged the job to process automation). The makes that I was quite good in eliminating non-causes, based on evidence to get the real cause of mechanical and/or chemical and/or control problems in the factory.

    About non-causes (of general interest)
    Based on evidence:
    - the oceans are not the cause of the increase in the atmosphere, as their d13C content is too high (even including the fractionation that Paul Dennis mentioned). And the d13C level decreases in the oceans everywhere, even in places where deep ocean upwelling is common (thus CO2 goes from the atmosphere into the oceans).
    - vegetation is not the cause of the increase in the atmosphere, as there is a deficiency in oxygen use from fossil fuel burning, thus vegetation is a net sink.
    What rests are the emissions…

    About the process side (of interest for you)
    If you look at the CO2 variations, then one can say that temperature has had a pre-industrial surprisingly linear effect on CO2 levels (even if a lot of underlying processes are far from linear). But that temperature is not the main driver of the current increase (whatever the non-existing source), as the increase (over 50 years) in temperature is much too small and temperature variations only have en effect on increase speed, but not on the increase. Temperature modulates the sink speed, mainly into the oceans, not the fact that the oceans are a near constant net sink…

    If you look at the emissions and increase in the atmosphere over the past 50 years, that is a simple equilibrium process, where the increase of the emissions in % of total is quite constant over the past 50 years and is followed by a constant increase in % of the atmosphere.
    Thus dCO2atm/dCO2emiss is quite constant, less year by year, but increasingly constant over more years.

    If you backcalculate (based on the past 50 years) what the CO2 level was at the start of the emissions, then you end at about 280 ppmv, the figure that was found in ice core bubbles of some 150 years ago. That was the old equilibrium, only influenced by temperature variations (about 10 ppmv/°C).

    Thus the basic equilibrium was at about 280 ppmv. Together with the fact that there is a current disequilibrium between natural sources and sinks (of average -3.5 GtC/yr of the atmosphere), that means that if you don’t emit today, that tomorrow the CO2 levels would start to sink (if temperatures stay constant, as is the case in the past 7 years), probably to the old equilibrium of 280 ppmv + 10 ppmv from the LIA-current temperature increase. But it will take quite a lot of time (the current sink rate is 3.5 GtC/yr, still 200 GtC to go, but the sink rate decreases with falling CO2 levels…).

  52. Gary Gulrud says:

    Ferdinand,

    Ok, I think I’ve got what you’re driving at. Is there a way to demonstrate that fact to their satisfaction?

  53. Evan Jones says:

    Raven

    Ooooh. Hmmm.

    So it could be sort of deeper a springboard effect then?

    In which the amount of CO2 from the ocean depends on the 730-to-38K (or the lesser amount in the upper ocean layers) ratio as it tries to come into balance, and 6.3 is simply lost in the wash?

    Where the 6.3 just pushes the sinks a tiny bit deeper but it’s not significant to the balance? Because the sinks are not fixed in size (but why or even how could they be)?

    An equation where the smaller rates of exchange are not the drivers but the much larger amounts in the sinks themselves?

  54. Raven says:

    Ferdinand,

    What you seem to be saying is the planet does have feedback mechanisms that regulate the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere and that these feedback mechanisms would keep the CO2 levels at the set point of 280 ppm even after experiencing a huge anthropogenic perturbation.

    So how do we know the set point is fixed at 280 ppm? What would happen if this set point changed for some unknown reason? Wouldn’t it follow that the CO2 levels would increase to the new set point and the human contribution would either cause the climate to reach the new equilibrium faster or simply reduce the contribution required from the natural sources?

    I realize I am out on a limb with the ‘unknown reason’ but I would like determine whether the current observations could be explained if someone developed a plausible natural explanation for a changing CO2 set point?

  55. Evan Jones says:

    P.S., I respect Ferdinand’s expertise, and if the DoE theory is right, then so is he. I also want so acknowledge that he has said that he doesn not necessarily thing CO2 has the effect that some say it has.

    But I find this interesting even if over my head, and I have an abiding belief that the basic premises (though not the full arguments) can be boiled down to common vernacular that would fit on one side of a postcard, so that a layman can get his mind around it.

  56. Raven says:

    Ferdinand,

    Humans have altered the biosphere with deforestation, intensive agriculture and urbanization. These actions could perturb the carbon cycle and cause a change in the natural CO2 set point.

    Here is a paper with data that shows how CO2 levels have varied with human population in the past. http://courses.eas.ualberta.ca/eas457/Ruddiman2003.pdf

    Figure 7 is the most interesting for this discussion. It shows CO2 level drops are correlated with disease outbreaks.

    This paper demonstrates that the idea that humans could alter the carbon cycle without burning fossil fuels has some support by the data.

    A rising CO2 set point caused by human induced changes to the carbon cycle could be the true cause of the rising levels in the atmosphere today and it is possible that eliminating fossil fuel use would not actually reduce CO2 levels – especially if bio-fuels use leads to more intensive agriculture.

  57. Brian Valentine says:

    Good Article –

    By the way, the ocean is a good source of CO2 as the Earth’s temperature increases, because the solubility decreases.

    And the carbonate created by crustacea and plankton is a good source of C13 (as well as O16, over any O18)

    and I think the case is pretty well closed.

  58. Julian Flood says:

    Possible influences on C12/C3 ratios:

    The Hadcrut SST data with the Folland and Parker corrections removed shows a steady increase from 1910 of .14 deg/decade, a minor excursion around 1939 and a resumption of .14 deg/decade up to present.

    1. Warming oceans are more stable. The nutrient levels in the surface layers fall. Plankton switch from C3 to C4 metabolism (yes, can happen) or C4 plants, which do not need zinc or chromium, outcompete their compatriots. The C4 process is less discriminating between C12 and C13 (and 14), so the biological pump takes more heavy isotopes into the deep water.

    2. Methane is stored as clathrates at low temperature very deep: a tiny warming will increase the ability of methanophages to metabolise the methane, bubbling off CO2 which reflects the isotopic composition of the clathrates — organic, ie low in the heavier isotopes.

    3. Ancient peat deposits are warmed in the high Arctic — methanophages eat the methane before it is outgassed (methane levels have not shown the uptick which was expected as the peats recover from the suppressive effects of acid rain). The excreted CO2 is, obviously, isotopically light.

    4. Plant populations in warming tundra are more C4/CAM types, pulling down more C13. (I’ve only seen one reference to this, so it should be checked, not taken on trust.)

    5. Increased dustiness of the North Atlantic means that diatoms, normally silica limited, can outcompete calcareous phytos. The biological pull down is reduced. I don’t know what this will do to ratios as that will depend on the metabolic processes of the two populations.

    6. Wind engagement with the surface is reduced by oil and surfactant pollution — less mixing, less nutrient, see number 1. An interesting test for this would be to find CO2, isotope, wind data and SSTs for the North Atlantic during the period 1935 to 1950. I have one graph — I have lost its provenance — which shows a CO2 blip from 39-45, HADCRUT minus F&P) shows the temperature anomaly, and page 19 at
    http://aerosols.lanl.gov/conf2006/talks/files/Volz.pdf
    shows a curious wind notch. It’s the Kriegesmarine effect in my opinion, but I digress.

    2,3 and 5 will alter the oxygen signal. Dusty volcanoes with ejecta high in leachates rich in zinc or chromium should, if 1 is correct, leave an isotopic signal as C3 plants are preferentially fertilised.

    I am suspicious of arguments which boil down to ‘we’ve looked at everything else so it must be…’ What they are really saying is ‘it must be if we haven’t forgotten something or something’s not yet been measured. The CO2 budget always looks like that to me — the C3/C4 versatility wasn’t even known when the Suess effect was confidently put forward as the great proof of anthropogenic CO2 rise.

    JF

  59. Raven,

    The Ruddiman paper is talking about +/- 5 ppmv caused by the bubonic plague, as forests reoccupied abandoned farms. Although possible, this coincides with colder temperatures around 500 AD and 1500 AD. This makes it difficult to know the real partitioning between temperature effects and reforestration/destruction effects. Anyway, after the end of the plague effects and/or temperature effect, we see that the CO2 levels reached the old values again (thus indicating that the setpoint didn’t change).

    Since 1850, CO2 increased about 100 ppmv, of which a large part is from fossil fuel burning. Another part is from deforestration, as mainly the underground root system is diminished from trees towards agricuture. That gives a temporarely increase of CO2 in the atmosphere of a few years, as long as the deforestration goes on, which is quite uncertain (more forests in the high latitudes, more forest destruction in the low latitudes). Both a mature forest and continuous agriculture are carbon neutral, if one makes the balance over (a) decade(s).

    A further comment on figure 9 of Ruddiman: He plots the expected CO2 level based on insolation / temperature, but that wasn’t true for the previous warm(er) interglacial, the Eemian. While temperatures (and methane) levels decreased about 9°C, the CO2 levels remained constant at about 270 ppmv during 20,000 years, only dropping 40 ppmv after the lowest temperatures were reached (without measurable influence on temperature, probably within the accuracy of the ice core temperature proxy measurements). Thus after an interglacial, CO2 levels remain high and lag the insolation/temperature drop with many thousands of years.
    See: http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/eemian.html

  60. Stan Needham says:

    have an abiding belief that the basic premises (though not the full arguments) can be boiled down to common vernacular that would fit on one side of a postcard, so that a layman can get his mind around it.

    Well, Evan, one can only hope, although this discussion has been truly enlightening, even absent any meaningful math and physics skills on my part. And I kind of came away with the same reaction you have, that Ferdinand does an excellent job of explaining why most of the increase of atmospheric CO2 is man-made, but that increased atmospheric CO2 is not necessarily, in and of itself, a bad thing, as long as it doesn’t cause runaway GH warming (which it does not appear to have done). If you’re still monitoring this thread, Ferdinand, have I got that about right?

    Raven (or Ferdinand, or anyone), do you know if anyone has ever done serious calculations to determine the amount of CO2 attributable to human exhalation and what percentage it is of total human emissions? Since 1850 the world population has gone from 1.2 billion to 6.6 billion, a 450% increase. It seems to me that that would have some measurable effect.

  61. Jeff in Seattle says:

    Humans have altered the biosphere with deforestation, intensive agriculture and urbanization. These actions could perturb the carbon cycle and cause a change in the natural CO2 set point.

    And a single unchecked forest fire does the same thing. What’s your point? how about reforestation? You’re acting as if the “biosphere” is some single thing that is reliant upon extremely specific conditions.

    CO2 natural set point?? What’s that exactly?

  62. Raven says:

    Ferdinand,

    You said:

    “Anyway, after the end of the plague effects and/or temperature effect, we see that the CO2 levels reached the old values again (thus indicating that the setpoint didn’t change).”

    The only thing that bothers me about your response is the argument that we must assume that the set point has not changed unless we can find some reason to explain why it should have changed. This is a reasonable argument but it is only an assumption – not a statement of fact.

    Is there any way to deduce the real set point today from the data without making assumptions about what might cause it to change?

  63. Raven says:

    Jeff in Seattle (08:55:09) says:

    “CO2 natural set point?? What’s that exactly?”

    If humans stopped emitting tomorrow the CO2 levels would drop because sinks would exceed sources. However, it is reasonable to assume that the CO2 levels would not drop to zero and would level off at some natural set point.

    I am arguing that we don’t know what that set point really is today and we can’t accurately infer it from historical data because there has never been 6.5 billion people on the planet before. If that set point is higher today then that could explain some or all of the increase in CO2 levels.

    This argument still presumes that humans are the cause of the rise but proposes a different mechanism which would require a different policy response if we wish to reduce CO2 levels.

  64. Raven,

    My opinion (yes, not more than an opinion) that the old setpoint still is valid and we probably might go back to the old setpoint, if we stop all anthro emissions, is based on the fact that back-calculation of the cumulative emissions/atmospheric CO2 trend line to its origin is around 280 ppmv. See:
    http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/klim_img/emissions.gif

    Note: the emissions accumulation in the graph is from 1959 on, for 1850-1958 one need to add 36 ppmv CO2 (from 76 GtC) to the accumulation. Backcalculating to zero emissions gives a 20 ppmv lower result than the 1959 atmospheric CO2 content, or about 295 ppmv.
    This includes a small temperature gradient of about 10 ppmv in the same period…

    If there was an increase in setpoint by any external cause, then the straight correspondence between cumulative emissions and atmospheric CO2 level (R^2=0.9988) would be an upgoing curve.

    That doesn’t say that the setpoint didn’t change, it did, because of the emissions. The difference between the CO2 partial pressure (pCO2) of the atmosphere and average oceans is only 7 ppmv in average (not 100 ppmv as one might expect). That is because the upper oceans increased in CO2 content too. That does influence the net sink speed, which is now about 2 GtC/7 ppmv.

    The first year after emissions stopped, the oceans would absorb the 2GtC, as the difference in pCO2 atmosphere/oceans still is 7 ppmv. But the year after that, the pCO2 difference dropped to 6 ppmv (assuming constant pCO2 in the upper oceans), thus the absorption would be reduced to 1.7 GtC, etc…

    Lucky, there is a second cycle involved, as the upper oceans upwelling – sink flow is about 100 GtC (compared to the 1000 GtC present in the upper oceans), plus an about 6 GtC sink, due to the drop out of dead algues from the ocean surface into the deep oceans…

    A few people, more knowledged than me, have calculated that the half-life time of the excess CO2 (thus above 290 ppmv) is somewhere between 30-40 years. The IPCC gives much longer times, but that aren’t half-life times…

  65. Stan Needham

    Indeed, even if humans are near fully responsible for the recent increase in CO2, that doesn’t say anything about the influence of CO2 on temperature.

    Even not from the past: in all ice cores, CO2 lags temperature changes with hundreds to thousands of years. But as there is most of the time an overlap, climate modellers can claim that CO2 is “helping” the temperature increase/decrease as positive feedback/forcing. But there is one period in time, the end of the Eemian, that there was no overlap, and temperatures were already at minimum before CO2 levels started to decrease. The subsequent 40 ppmv drop had no measurable effect on temperature, see:
    http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/eemian.html

    Further, if CO2 caused more warming (outside the accuracy of the measurements), that should be visible in high accumulation ice cores (like Dome C). But it is not, see:
    http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/klim_img/epica5.gif
    With thanks to André van den Berg, who made this nice graph.

    About human/animal CO2. This plays no role at all, as it all is from food which has sequestered CO2 from the atmosphere before eaten. The only difference is that the return to the atmosphere is somewhat delayed: instead of rotting on the field, now it is eaten, or frozen/canned, or accumulated in eaten animals first…

    What counts from humans is the area of forests that were converted to fields, as the root system of fields is less than from forests.

  66. Jeff in Seattle says:

    Raven, considering that insect respiration accounts for more CO2 annually than all the human industrial CO2, I doubt anything would drop.

    Sure, there haven’t been 6.5 billion people on the planet before, as far as we know. But there have been billions of other CO2-emitting creatures for a billion years or more. We know in the past that CO2 was 10 times higher and life thrived like no other times in geological history. So explain again why CO2 is bad?

  67. Julian Flood,

    A lot of interesting things you come up with. But hard to quantify.

    Some remarks:

    1. Warming oceans are more stable.
    This is right, but if the about 1°C warming is enough to make a difference is questionable. There is little evidence for less turnover of the oceans (after the alarming THC shutdown messages af a few years ago). And the increase of reported algue blooms seems to contradict the fertiliser deficiency (at least near river discharges).

    2., 3. and 4. Methane from clathrates and tundra.
    The maximum level of CH4 during the peak warmth of the Eemian (average 2-3°C above current) was about 700 ppbv, for temperatures which were about 7°C warmer in the high altitude tundra than current. Today, methane leveled out at 1800 ppbv (Barrow) and 1900 ppbv (Mauna Loa). Thus mainly man-made and adding to the decrease of d13C…
    See: http://www.gxnu.edu.cn/IGCP379/1997/part33.htm
    and http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/insitu.html

    5. Increased dustiness of the North Atlantic?
    Seems to me that the 1930′s Mid-West US dust storms should have had more influence on North Atlantic d13C changes with the prevailing W/SW winds.
    But d13C changes are decreasing continuously in the 1930′s, until now, as well as in the atmosphere as in the oceans surface.
    See: http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/klim_img/sponges.gif
    In Europe we have incidentaly Sahara sand deposits, and Mongolean desert storms can be visible up to Arizona…

    6. One of the coralline sponges of Bermuda is mainly influenced by the North Atlantic gyre (the other one by the S/N oceanic backstream), there seems to be a cluster around 1940 of halted d13 decrease in the (ice core) air d13C measurements, see the sponges graph in 5. The Law Dome ice core (with very high accumulation) also shows a about 1 ppmv peak around 1940 and decline after that, see:
    http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/klim_img/law_dome_co2.jpg
    But that is within the accuracy of the ice core CO2 measurements.
    If that is the result of the Kriegsmarine effect or natural fluctuation or reduced industrial activity, or the sum of all three, that is a big question…

    Further, the huge Pinatubo eruption of 1992 didn’t leave a CO2 signal (because the temperature drop had more influence), neither a d13C signal. But there was a remarkable extra decrease in the period 1987-1992, especially at the high North near-tundra locations Barrow and Alert.
    See: http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/klim_img/d13c_trends.jpg I have no direct explanation for that.

    That wind has a profound influence on CO2 sinks and d13C/oceanic life is sure, as can be seen in the mainly NAO influenced uptake in the North Atlantic ocean (Gruber ea.):
    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/298/5602/2374

    And a lot about trace elements in the oceans from Gruber and Sarmiento:
    http://www.atmos.ucla.edu/~gruber/publication/pdf_files/gruber_thesea_02.pdf

  68. Jeff in Seattle says:

    About human/animal CO2. This plays no role at all, as it all is from food which has sequestered CO2 from the atmosphere before eaten. The only difference is that the return to the atmosphere is somewhat delayed: instead of rotting on the field, now it is eaten, or frozen/canned, or accumulated in eaten animals first…

    Well, we’re only talking about time, then here. With the above reasoning, burning of fossil fuels is then just returning the CO2 that was sequestered millions of years ago back into the cycle. It’s neither bad, good, nor indifferent.

    I’m sure the planet’s plants would love the CO2 levels to be a good 5 or 6 times higher than they are now, like they are artificially in actual production greenhouses.

  69. Raven says:

    Ferdinand Engelbeen (12:18:36) says:

    “If there was an increase in setpoint by any external cause, then the straight correspondence between cumulative emissions and atmospheric CO2 level (R^2=0.9988) would be an upgoing curve.”

    Thanks – this point settles the issue for me. There is no reason to believe that a changing set point would exactly follow the human emission pattern.

    Jeff in Seattle (14:28:30) :

    “Sure, there haven’t been 6.5 billion people on the planet before, as far as we know. But there have been billions of other CO2-emitting creatures for a billion years or more.”

    Humans are the only creatures who are able alter the environment on a large scale.

    However, I think you misunderstand my point. I was simply brainstorming and looking for any rational explaination other that fossil fuel burning that could explain the rise in CO2 levels. I am now in agreement with Ferdinand that the data only supports the hypothesis that the CO2 levels are the result of fossil fuel emissions and that Roy Spenser is probably wasting his time on this issue.

    That said, I also agree with you that rising CO2 levels are not necessarily bad no matter what the reason for the rise.

  70. Stan Needham says:

    About human/animal CO2. This plays no role at all, as it all is from food which has sequestered CO2 from the atmosphere before eaten.

    While, as I said before, I’m not a scientist, I have, over the last 5 or 6 years, read hundreds of papers and articles about this subject. This is the first time I have ever seen a statement such as the above quote, Ferdinand. Do you have a link to a scientific paper or even a news article that says that CO2 exhaled by humans comes from the food they eat? Are you saying, in effect, that If I fast for say 3 or 4 days, that I no longer exhale CO2? Somehow I don’t think we’re talking about the same thing.

  71. Stan Needham,

    All food we eat is directly or indirectly (via meat) from plants. All plants incorporate CO2 taken from the atmosphere, from a few days ago to a few years ago. We use that food directly or indirectly (via fat reserves) to provide energy and building materials for all body functions. The waste of this process is water and CO2. Thus all exhaled CO2 was a few days to years ago sequestered from the atmosphere… Even if you fast a few days, you are using fat/energy/carbon eaten in the period before. If all fat reserves are gone, then you start to use other (building) materials, until that is gone…
    Some simple cycle can be found here:
    http://www.windows.ucar.edu/tour/link=/earth/Water/co2_cycle.html&edu=high
    The total cycle CO2 – plants (- animals) – humans – CO2 is “carbon-neutral”.
    The 13C/12C ratio in animal/human meat/bones has the same low value as from the food we eat. This can be used to determine what food was used in the past by animals and humans. See:
    http://uf.ilb.uni-bonn.de/versuchsgueter/Gut_Rengen/en/Forschung/Forschungsliste/index.html

    Jeff-in-Seattle,

    Indeed it is a matter of time span.
    By definition, if the time span is within a few decades, the cycle of carbon sequestering – release is considered to be “carbon neutral”, as that doesn’t change the CO2 level over the full cycle.
    That is the case for food and wood.
    Fossil fuels are not “carbon neutral”, because using them today increases current CO2 levels (regardless if that is a good or bad thing).

    There are a few border problems here:
    - burning wood from a 600-years old oak house is considered “carbon neutral”
    - burning 600 years old peat is considered “fossil”, thus “not carbon-neutral”
    But as the first is a very tiny part of the overall CO2 cycle, that doesn’t have much influence.

  72. With a risk for duplication (one comment disappeared in cyberspace…):

    Stan Needham:
    Plants have incorporated CO2 from the atmosphere. All animal food comes from plants, either directly or indirectly (via other animals). Thus all food contains atmospheric CO2 from a few days to a few years ago.
    Animals use food directly or indirectly (from fat reserves) to supply energy and building blocks, necessary for the functioning of the body. The waste prducts are water and CO2 and other products. If you fast a few days, you will use your fat reserves as energy/carbon source.
    Some simple carbon cycle is here:
    http://www.windows.ucar.edu/tour/link=/earth/Water/co2_cycle.html&edu=high
    Thus all together, one can say that the carbon cycle from CO2-plants(-animals)-humans-CO2 is quite fast and this cycle is “carbon neutral”, as that doesn’t alter the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere over a short time span.

    Animal/human meat/bones show the same 13C/12C ratio as the food that was eaten. This can be used to determine the type of food the animals have eaten during their lifetime. See:
    http://uf.ilb.uni-bonn.de/versuchsgueter/Gut_Rengen/en/Forschung/Forschungsliste/index.html

    Jeff in Seattle,

    Indeed it is a question of definition of the time period.
    Food and wood are by definition “carbon neutral”, as the carbon cycle is relative short (up to a few decades) and over that time span have no influence on CO2 levels in the atmosphere.
    Fossil fuels are not “carbon neutral”, as the sequestering happened hundreds (peat) to millions of years ago (coal, oil, gas), and increase the current atmospheric CO2 level (no matter if that is good or bad)…

  73. Julian Flood says:

    Re: Ferdinand Engelbeen (14:24:53)

    Copied and saved, thank you. That should keep me occupied for a few days…

    Pinatubo: do you know if this was a nutrient rich volcano? Some eruptions seem to have very little leachable nutrients of the kind which phytos need to make the C3 pathways.

    JF

  74. Loquor says:

    Evan Jones + Gary Gulrud:

    “Well, I mentioned very early on (in the previous thread) that the DoE lists the oceans as a net sink (around minus 2 BMTC/year).
    But would seem to be the very point that Dr. Spenser is disputing”.

    “I had Ecology too but I think my physics, math and chemistry prepared me better for this study. You didn’t mention why you think the deep ocean is lagging in CO2 uptake, but in any event, Dr. Spencer is simply stating that one particular argument in support of AGW is invalid. You haven’t addressed that issue and the remainder of your discussion does not seem to pertain”.

    Well, I had not read your mention, Evan (sorry about that) but of course, this is indeed the point that Spencer disputes. My wondering stems from the fact that Spencer seems totally unaware of any of the countless studies which have actually bothered to sort out in excruciating detail that there is no coherent way the oceans could possibly be a source of the atmospheric co2 rise – like the mentioned ones of Sarmiento or Sabine and coworkers. If you – and you, Gary – go and read those papers, all the claims and questions that Spencers makes/raises are already debunked/answered, including the deep ocean lag (and actually, they already were long before those two studies were published).

    It is always fine when researchers take a look at the original sources of the basic stuff that is thought to have been settled long ago – sometimes they do find features that have been overlooked by followers taking basics for granted. But surely, to debunk basic textbook facts really requires a lot of thorough studies and meticulous work adressing an awful lot of work carried out by thousands of other scientists through decades or even centuries. As far as I can see, Spencer is nowhere near this point – has just seems to have wondered a little over some very basic things and went and wrote this without bothering to check whether anybody before him had written something about this.
    To put it bluntly, his course bears much more resemblance to an overconfident undergraduate student preparing for an exam, who halfway through his textbook starts to wonder about what he has read so far – and then, instead of reading the rest of the book (in which it is revealed that all his questions have been asked and answered decades ago) goes on to claim that he has made a groundbreaking insight that will henceforth shake all scientific inquiry and Civilisation As We Know It. All this writing of Spencers is exactly like that, and there is just none of his claims that have not been done to death countless times before.

    Now Dr. Spencer sure is no amateur nor an overconfident undergraduate, but either he must be amazingly ignorant of some basics he really should know better, he must be capable of an extraordinary level of self-delusion, or hest must be deliberately misleading. He undeniably does have a somewhat dubious record of making frankly absurd scientific claims (both about climate science and about evolution) that noone with his background or skill could possibly not know were dead wrong. I am struggling to believe that Spencer as an atmospheric physicist/meterologist could really be unaware of the enormous body of research that exists on the field.

    Honestly, I am mostly inclined to believe that this is a deliberate intent of blowing smoke from Dr. Spencer, which is disgraceful for anyone, but only more so for a scientist which often make tacit allegations against most of his collegues for the very same thing.

    If Spencer really intends to write this up as a paper, then I will be really surprised if the reviewers do not send this back immediately asking for Spencer to check up on the basics before submitting such things.

    Jeff:

    “Well, we’re only talking about time, then here. With the above reasoning, burning of fossil fuels is then just returning the CO2 that was sequestered millions of years ago back into the cycle. It’s neither bad, good, nor indifferent”.

    Well, it sure is not indifferent, but whether it is good or bad cannot be adressed just by stating that it “just” returns the carbon sequestered millions of years ago. You are right that a co2 level of 7000 ppm as in the Carboniferous is perfectly “natural” (as would the then higher temperatures of 10-12 degrees be), but this hardly is reassuring. Exaggeration eases understanding – It is a bit like saying that if the oxygen were disappearing slowly from the current atmosphere, then it would just be back to perfectly natural conditions like those in them good olden days four billion years before present……… :)

    “I’m sure the planet’s plants would love the CO2 levels to be a good 5 or 6 times higher than they are now, like they are artificially in actual production greenhouses”.

    Well, I am not so sure. Are you aware of the “Liebig law of minimum”? It states that the growth of plants is not limited by the total sum of resources, but by the scarcest resource.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liebig%27s_law_of_the_minimum

    In actual production greenhouses, all conditions can be controlled to the point of near-perfection with respect to light, nutrients in the soil and water, and thus extra co2 can further enhance growth. Under field conditions, things are rarely like that, and water, soil quality and access to sunlight are by far the limiting factors of most ecosystems. There is not too much reason to believe that extra co2 will have much positive effect on the wild flora – and actually, the associated warming is more likely to damage the forest ecosystems most places in the tropics.

    This is, admittedly, a bit different for some crop plants. Many plants have a C3-metabolism which is sensitive to co2 limitation, and they can be expected to respond positively to co2 enrichment. However, some of the most important crops worldwide (maize, sorghum and sugarcane) are c4 plants which are more likely to be effected adversely.

    See

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C3_carbon_fixation
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/C4_carbon_fixation

    There are not too many field experiments with several controlled factors, but one of the pioneering works studying the effect of co2 enrichment together with other growth factors is Shaw et al.

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/298/5600/1987

    They did find that co2 enrichment alone could have a positive influence – but when they added and varied other factors (precipitation, nutrient presence and temperature) that will likely change with increased co2/warming too, thay actually found that co2 enrichment decreased nutrient uptake in the roots, decreasing growth too.

    This is not to say that the last word has been said on this subject – but there is certainly no compelling reasons for handwaving optimism about how co2 will benefit plants, either

  75. I should ask Dr. Spencer and others to read the speach of Pieter Tans at the CO2 conference ( http://www.co2conference.org/agenda.asp ), November 2007, in Hawai, at the 50th anniversary of the Mauna Loa observatory CO2 measurements:

    http://www.co2conference.org/pdfs/tans.pdf

    It contains a lot of answers about CO2 and d13C variations and origins…

  76. Jeff in Seattle says:

    They did find that co2 enrichment alone could have a positive influence – but when they added and varied other factors (precipitation, nutrient presence and temperature) that will likely change with increased co2/warming too, thay actually found that co2 enrichment decreased nutrient uptake in the roots, decreasing growth too.

    This is not to say that the last word has been said on this subject – but there is certainly no compelling reasons for handwaving optimism about how co2 will benefit plants, either

    Perhaps, but also no reason for knee-jerking doom and gloom. We KNOW plant life thrived in higher CO2 concentrations in the past. Whether all will now or in the future is irrelevant, they’ll adapt or die, it’s always the way, whether we’re here or not.

  77. loquor says:

    Of course, I agree completely that there is never an (appropriate) reason for “knee-jerking doom and gloom”, but I do not really see anything remotely like that in my last post either. I wrote this, however, because you stated so boldly that plant life should be expected to “love co2 levels five to six times higher than present” – and this appears to be a completely unfounded gut feeling of yours. As an ecologist, I can say for sure that even if you were indeed right, it would be some completely different plant species, as it were some completely different species back 300 mio. years ago.Maize, the world´s important crop species, would not be expected to thrive with co2 enrichment, and that is something that matters to many people. Furthermore, just because something once thrived under one randomly and loosely picked condition X, there is no guarantee that it will do so in the future under a supposedly similar condition X (but where Y, Z etc- have changed completely).

    Of course, as you rightly imply, this is perfectly natural. Extinction is the ultimate destiny of all species in the long run. I just happen to have the -from an ecological point quite unnatural – wish that we Homo sapiens should plan to make our species´ stay here as long as possible with the other species that we need or for some other reason feel associated to…..

    Maybe you think that people who are worried about the climate change are all GAIA fanatics imagining a hypothetical eternal earthly balance that remained so until humans arrived and disrupted it. I am sure that such people exist. But personally, I have a quite anthropocentric view: I think it is best for us and our present environment, to which we are adapted through thousands of years of development, if we could avoid having to adapt to potentially serious (and self-inflicted) changes.

    This has nothing to do with any ideal, imaginatorily perfect state of the climate. It is just a completely selfish assesment of what appears to best for us.

    Talking about doom and gloom, I will say that while I am not scared to death about climate change and while I do not predict any immediate doomsdays, I really think that rational fear is better that irrational insouciance. I kind of understand why many people seem to desperately wanting to believe that there is no problem and that it is all going to disappear if we close our eyes, I do think that it is a really bad idea just to wait and see and hope for the best with our present knowledge.

    What I do not understand, however, is why Dr. Spencer will risk his scientific reputation by propagating science this poor. Maybe because he has already hung himself in public once propagating Intelligent Design and thinks he has nothing more to lose? Maybe he, like many deeply religious people, struggles to accept the fact that we humble humans can in fact cause significant change on this planet? I do not pretend to know the answer, but I am sure that Spencer cannot possibly look at the evidence for the anthropogenic nature of the co2 rise and maintain the position he advances here. That is pretty obvious to everybody with a hint of knowledge, even with one as mediocre as mine.

    I do not want to sound too harsh here, but if skeptics like Spencer feel themselves ostracised from the scientific community, then maybe one obvious, important reason is the fact that they are making statements and advocating papers that they clearly cannot truly believe themselves.

  78. Stan Needham says:

    Ferdinand,

    Thanks for your reasoned and thoughtful response. One of the main reasons I come here is to learn, and I learned something new today.

    Just to further clarify; are you saying that the CO2 in the air we breathe in is a negligible part of the CO2 we exhale, and that, in fact, most of the CO2 we exhale is a waste product of the respiration process itself?

  79. Jeff in Seattle says:

    Sorry, Loquor, I did not intend to say that you were espousing the doom and gloom scenarios. But there are many who do.

    I do not think it is a stretch at all to say that effectively all plants will benefit from more CO2. That doesn’t mean we should just dump more CO2 for the purpose of helping plants. As for Maize, generall planted corn DOES receive enhanced ground nutrients through human fertilization, so I don’t understand why it wouldn’t benefit from more CO2 as well. It’s also a highly hybridized plant at this point, so there’s no reason to believe we couldn’t hybridize a more “CO2 tolerant” ;) version.

    Furthermore, just because something once thrived under one randomly and loosely picked condition X, there is no guarantee that it will do so in the future under a supposedly similar condition X (but where Y, Z etc- have changed completely).

    That’s just the point, though. Any point in time is a loosely picked condition X. Wait a few thousand years and the conditions could be wholly different.

    My opinion of the ENTIRE AGW situation is that we’ve only gotten better at scrutinizing things (and there are a lot more people around to scrutinize the planet) and that any perceived change from some arbitrary “normal” is seen as dangerous. I just don’t see any merit to that position. Disastrous is a relative term. We see hurricanes and forest fires as disastrous, but they’re a critical part of nature, they HAVE to occur.

  80. loquor,

    I am following your reasoning to a certain extent.
    Where we differ is the extent of the consequences of the extra CO2 we add to the atmosphere, which are twofold.

    1) the effect of CO2 on temperature. From the past (the end of the Eemian), we know that a 40 ppmv drop in CO2 has no measurable effect on temperature.
    Current “projections” of GCM’s are heavily based on the (overestimated) effect of aerosols, to explain the 1945-1975 temperature drop with increasing CO2 levels. That is the main reason that they overestimate future temperatures. And recent (7 years) temperatures are quite steady, while CO2 increased steadily…

    2) If the doubling of CO2 around the end of this century will have much effect on food crops yield or on the quality of the food remains to be seen. The protein/carbohydrate ratio of leaves seems somewhat reduced in field tests, but seeds show little difference in nutritients.

    Thus we still have some time to see if all these scaring stories come into effect, but anyway we need to do a lot more research for alternatives and especially the possibility to store a lot of power, if it is only to be less dependable from not so stable oil-rich countries…

    But I agree with you that Dr. Spencer should drop this topic, it is undefendable and does harm to the sceptics in general. There are more than enough genuine problems with AGW which need to be questioned on real scientific grounds…

  81. Raven says:

    I have read the claims about CO2 being bad for C4 plants, however, I find these claims extremely simplistic. I have been periodically reading more detailed information on this site:

    http://www.co2science.org/scripts/CO2ScienceB2C/articles/V7/N30/B1.jsp

    “Contrary to what many people had long assumed would be the case for a C4 crop such as corn growing under the best of natural conditions, Leakey et al. found that “growth at elevated CO2 significantly increased leaf photosynthetic CO2 uptake rate by up to 41%.” The highest whole-day increase was 21% (11 July) followed by 11% (22 July), during a period of low rainfall.”

    In the worst case scenario more CO2 had no effect on plant growth.

    However, this data does not take into account that higher CO2 means plants need less water which would reduce the need for irrigation and led to higher yields even if CO2 reduced productivity (which it does not appear to do).

    Bottom line is I don’t put much weight on claims by alarmists that higher CO2 puts our food supply at risk.

  82. loquor says:

    Ferdinand,

    I think you are right that we disagree about AGW, Ibut I respect your point of view – clearly there are legitimate reasons for SOME skepticism…

    I have read numerous papers about positive and negative forcings, sensitivity and the like, but as a biologist, I am not really qualified to speak out about this in other than broad terms, so maybe we should not discuss this at lengths here.

    I will, however, say that I think it is very unwise of skeptics to emphasise the apparently steady temperatures since the great El Nino in 1998. While I understand that this is not exactly what you are saying, it appears as if your argument is going in that direction. We all know that this year was well above expectations and quite unusual (believe me, I personally spent this year in Central America ;). In fact, many skeptics – among those Robert Carter and Spencer himself – then said that one should not jump to conclusions about disastrous warming based on “one exceptionally warm El Nino year”. And while I agree completely to that (I do not deny that some “alarmists” do make silly claims based on such events), I am disappointed (but not surprised) to see Carter, Spencer and all the same people now claiming flat out that “Global warming has stopped” based on a trend starting from exactly this very same year. So apparently 1998 is a too unusual year to be used as an endpoint to calculate a trend over 50 years, but somehow it is just magnificent as a starting point to make a seven-eight year trend and accompagnying putative projections about future warming You do not have to be the slightest “alarmist” to spot this blatant inconsistency.

    By the same standards, global warming also stopped in 1945, in 1983 and 1990 judged by the CRU record. And actually, temperatures have been steadily rising since 2000:

    http://www.cru.uea.ac.uk/cru/info/warming/

    I am not sure I understand what you are referring to by “models overpredicting future warming”? As for the future temperatures, to my knowledge nobody claims that temperature and co2 follow each other linearly, and neither do any modeller have this as a prerequisite for their modelling. As far as I know, nobody disputes that co2 alone will lead to a warming for about 1C at doubling, and almost everything I have read of empirical work points to significant positive feedback from water vapour. We do not know yet if the models will show skill in the future, but clearly there is nothing really suggesting that the sensitivity estimates are far off, which means that we are heading for warming at least in the lower levels of the IPCC projections even if we are quite optimistic.

    You may disagree, and you may know something I do not. Anyway, I am happy to see a “skeptic”, if I can call you this, have integrity to set obvious nonsense from his own side straight when he sees it. But I really cannot emphasise enough that even if there is unnecessary scaremongering and occasional wild claims from the alarmist camp, you do not hear any distortions or willful misleadings remotely like Spencers writings here from the pro-AGW scientists. Why does Michaels erase Hansens two lower scenarios in his resume of his testimony? Why does Lindzen quote Khilyuk and Chilingar as a credible source, when he knows that their claim “humans may be responsible for less than 0,01C of the warming” are based on the same fallacious reasoning as Spencer´s here? How on earth can Tim Ball claim that it has been cooling down since 1930 (i.e, how on this earth)? And how can Spencer, who has a PhD in physics/atmospheric sciences possibly be unaware about very simple co2-isotope measurements and ocean/atmosphere interactions that we biologists learned on the second year?

    I find it awfully hard to believe that Spencer could have written this rubbish in good faith, and with his double standards with respect to El Nino/1998 mentioned above in mind, he only reinforces the impression of dishonesty.
    I can forgive him for speaking nonsense about creationism, since he obviously has no clue about evolutionary biology (and you should respect people´s faith), but when he makes statements about his own subject which even I can easily spot are outright lies, then I simply think that Spencer is a disgrace to his profession.

    By any objective standards, there is simply a level of dishonesty in the skeptics camp that really makes it difficult to believe any claims from these people.

    Sorry for the rant, it is not directed towards you personally. However, when you started to speak about the “genuine problems” of AGW, then I felt it necessary to point out that there is by far more problems with standard skeptic arguments that are not at all genuine.

  83. loquor says:

    And Raven, while I do not trust the Idsos much either (they are, among other dubious things, also making the same hopeless claims about a possible large natural sources of the co2 rise), I do agree that the science on the response of C4 plants on enhaced co2 is by no means settled. I make no claim that out food supply will come at risk. I only brought this up because Jeff made the widely repeated claim about how plants will thrive on enhanced co2 – and this definitely is not supported by the evidence, either, and I just think it is important to point that out.

  84. loquor says:

    “Sorry, Loquor, I did not intend to say that you were espousing the doom and gloom scenarios. But there are many who do”.

    No problem! :)

    “I do not think it is a stretch at all to say that effectively all plants will benefit from more CO2. That doesn’t mean we should just dump more CO2 for the purpose of helping plants. As for Maize, generall planted corn DOES receive enhanced ground nutrients through human fertilization, so I don’t understand why it wouldn’t benefit from more CO2 as well. It’s also a highly hybridized plant at this point, so there’s no reason to believe we couldn’t hybridize a more “CO2 tolerant” version”.

    Well, as said I do not think that the science is settled about co2 and plants under natural (i.e. outside greenhouses) conditions at all. What I can see is that the science that has been done clearly does not support any wild optimism about how plants will prosper.

    As for the theoretical reasons why maize might not benefit and even be harmed from enhanced co2, I suggest you read the wikipedia links I provided about C3 and C4 metabolism (I take it that you are not a biologist). Shortly speaking, C3 plants are not as efficient in their co2 uptake as are C4 plants due to their different mechanisms of controlling the uptake through the closing and opening of their stomata – C4 lowers the so-called photorespiration level. Therefore, under co2 depletion C4 plants have an evolutionary advantage. However, this diminishes when co2 rises. Actually one hypothesis about the origin of C3 metabolism is that it is a relic of times when co2 levels were higher and oxygen levels lower. What this will mean in practice and with GMOs is unclear, and again I definitely do not want to make and firm statements about these problems. But there are just as good theoretical and practical arguments to expect the opposite of what you are claiming.

    “That’s just the point, though. Any point in time is a loosely picked condition X. Wait a few thousand years and the conditions could be wholly different”.

    Well, no. When you want to make reasonable inferences about Holocene climate, then the last Interglacial is clearly a better starting point than under Snowball Earth, the carboniferous or early Precambrium. When you want to make inferences about present-day like plants prospering under enhanced future co2 levels, then singling out the Carboniferous – where no flowering plants and hardly any seed plants existed at all – is a particularly poor choice for a meaningful comparison. Some points are indeed not loosely picked condition X – it is the base of the standard climatological reasoning that you can make meaningful inferences about co2 effects in Holocene by comparisons with last interglacial, but not so in the case of the Andean ice age 450 mio. years ago.

    “My opinion of the ENTIRE AGW situation is that we’ve only gotten better at scrutinizing things (and there are a lot more people around to scrutinize the planet) and that any perceived change from some arbitrary “normal” is seen as dangerous. I just don’t see any merit to that position. Disastrous is a relative term. We see hurricanes and forest fires as disastrous, but they’re a critical part of nature, they HAVE to occur”.

    OK, that is true. We have to accept that there are things that we cannot change, and maybe some AGW proponents have a problem with that. I can only speak for myself when saying that this is not my point of view. I just still think that even if things “have to occur naturally”, then this is no argument that we should not worry about what we can only perceive as disasters as human beings – especially not if we are indeed pushing for enhancing such disasters in the future.
    We all have to die quite naturally, too, but this does not mean that spontaneous murder is a thing that we would not want to do something about, even if it is “completely natural”…….;)

  85. Jeff in Seattle says:

    Loquor, I’m not sure what “spontaneous murder” is meant to convey.

    But all I can say is, if we want to cause NO harm to the planet, then we have to forgo all industrial activity and revert t hunter-gatherers. A great many of us will die, but it’s the only way humans can subsist with nature in a way that doesn’t de-forest, change the CO2 balance, etc. You might disagree and say there is a technological solution. But that won’t prevent humans from populating themselves out of existence (not saying this will happen in any foreseeable generation, but we’ve been hearing it for many years), and clearing hectare after hectare for housing, business, farms, etc. CO2 will be the least of any conceivable problem one might have.

    Besides, the one thing we can all be sure of is that there will be another ice age and atmospheric CO2 will be dust in the wind, literally.

  86. Julian Flood says:

    Re loquor (15:11:14) :
    quote I do agree that the science on the response of C4 plants on enhanced co2 is by no means settled. I make no claim that out food supply will come at risk. unquote

    The great advantage of the C4 mechanism (and CAM) is, I was taught, not its frugality in carbon dioxide use but it’s water-saving advantages. Do the deserts green as CO2 levels rise?

    On a lighter level, I give a recipe tip: pick your vine leaves for dolmades just as the sun comes up — the malic acid stored over night lends an unmatched piquancy. Vines are CAM plants.

    JF

    JF

  87. loquor,

    Indeed I am a luke-warm skeptic (to both sides of the fence), I am pretty sure that we are responsible for the CO2 rise, but I am also pretty sure of the overestimates of current GCM’s.

    About current temperatures: since 2000 (excluding the 1998 El Niño and the 1999 La Niña) global temperatures are completely flat. That is visible in the CRU link you provided, as even the 5-years average halted.
    This is not (yet) proof of the disconnection between GHGs and temperature, as one need a longer time frame and we are at a solar minimum (which gives a +/- 0.1°C variation over a complete cycle).
    As far as I know, there are no direct changes in e.g. aerosol emissions (there is a huge shift between the Western world and the Far East, but not in total), which should cause the flat temperature with rising CO2 levels, neither volcanic eruptions. And the oceans are not rising in temperature too (there even were some rumours about cooling, but these were based on problems with the sea temperature measurements).
    Thus the next five years will be very interesting…

    There are a few basic problems with current models. The most important are:
    1) Models assume that the same forcing (in W/m2) has near the same effect on climate, no matter the origin of the forcing.
    2) There is a huge offset between GHG effect and aerosol effect.
    3) All models see cloud changes as a positive feedback of GHG warming.

    About 1)
    The main effect of e.g. solar variations (and volcanic eruptions) is in the stratosphere. This changes ozone layer thickness, stratospheric temperatures and jet stream position. The effect on climate is visible in cloud/rain/wind patterns, river discharges, (low) cloud amount and temperature over the solar cycle(s).
    There main effect of GHG increase and aerosols is in the lower troposphere. There is no clear pattern of CO2 increase on the above variables, except for an increase of total precipitation (about 6% over 60 years in the Arctic), but even that may be solar driven.
    Thus that all GCM’s use the same “efficacy” for the same change in forcing doesn’t take into account the difference in effect of stratospheric vs. lower troposphere changes and especially the effect on cloud formation.
    That GCM’s underestimate solar influences (about a factor 2) can be seen in an attribution study of the HadCM3 model by Stott ea.:
    http://climate.envsci.rutgers.edu/pdf/StottEtAl.pdf
    Even that is probably an underestimate, as they worked with a fixed influence of aerosols (-1.5 W/m2).

    About 2)
    Models need to follow the 1900-2000 temperature trend, that is a necessary, but insufficient condition. As we have 4 independent variables (GHGs, aerosols, solar and volcanoes), we can match any previous trend by abandoning the fixed forcing/effect ratio for the different variables. Especially the GHG/aerosol tandem is of interest. You can halve the influence of CO2 if you reduce the influence of aerosols to one quarter, see:
    http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/oxford.html
    That means that if the sensitivity of climate to CO2 increases is 1.5°C instead of 3°C for 2xCO2 in average current models, there is hardly any reason for panic. This is physically possible, if we take into account that clouds are badly defined in current models and may give a negative feedback, not a positive one. The temperature increase of 2xCO2 is about 0.68°C (based on absorbance), with water vapour feedback: 0.89°C, the rest of the 3°C in current models is from very unsure positive/negative feedbacks like clouds…
    See: http://home.casema.nl/errenwijlens/co2/howmuch.htm

    About 3)
    Current models completely fail reality of cloud cover in the tropics and the Arctic…
    See: http://www.nerc-essc.ac.uk/~rpa/PAPERS/olr_grl.pdf
    and http://www.cicero.uio.no/fulltext/index_e.aspx?id=3277
    From the latter:
    “the models overestimate the cloud cover in the winter and underestimate it in the summer.”
    That has a tremendous influence on temperature predictions in the Arctic…

  88. loquor says:

    Jeff, I am just trying to say that to argue that something is “natural” is a poor guide for what decisions we should take on society levels. Extinction, deforestation, erosion, infanticide, diseases and hurricanes are all entirely natural phenomena, but they are also things that most people would agree are undesirable and should be avoided, minimised or at least taken seriously.

    I do not pretend to speak for all enviros, but when I argue for taking climate change serious, it has absolutely nothing to do with “divine nature” or such nonexisting things. It is simply a matter of keeping the planet as hospitable a place for humans for as long time as possible.What I am arguing is really the opposite of what is “natural”. In the long run we will all be dead, but to take this perspective to basically every future question as you seem to do is a little sad, do not you think? ;)

    (And as an aside, if you drill a bit in the arguments of most GAIA fanatics, you will soon discover that all their arguments boil down to human self-interest behind all the rhetoric, but that is another discussion).

    I am not saying that I believe James Hansens´ 6K sensitivity warnings, but in case of temperature increases just half this size (which is a very real possibility), co2 would certainly not be the least of any conceivable problems we might have.

    And Julian, the water saving ability is exactly the feature of c4 plants that has to do with the co2 effectivity. Simply put, c3 plants have to leave their stomata open for a much longer time to absorb the same amount of co2 that a c4/CAM plants can absorb in a short time/at night. This causes greater respiration in c3 plants. Higher co2 levels will – in theory and ceteros paribus – give the c3 plants a competitive advantage and c4 plants a disadvantage. I will not try to make any guesses to what this will mean put together with water, sunlight nutrients etc (with respect to Liebigs law of minimum) under real-life conditions in a future world. I am just stating that there is as little empirical and theoretical foundation for predicting greening deserts and thriving plants as for predicting doom and gloom.

  89. Jeff in Seattle says:

    Jeff, I am just trying to say that to argue that something is “natural” is a poor guide for what decisions we should take on society levels. Extinction, deforestation, erosion, infanticide, diseases and hurricanes are all entirely natural phenomena, but they are also things that most people would agree are undesirable and should be avoided, minimised or at least taken seriously.

    I agree completely. Unfortunately when it comes to un-biased reporting on such things, we tend to be out of luck. We seem to only get the Greenpeace view, and if you don’t agree then you’re a planet-hater or something.

    I do not pretend to speak for all enviros, but when I argue for taking climate change serious, it has absolutely nothing to do with “divine nature” or such nonexisting things. It is simply a matter of keeping the planet as hospitable a place for humans for as long time as possible.What I am arguing is really the opposite of what is “natural”. In the long run we will all be dead, but to take this perspective to basically every future question as you seem to do is a little sad, do not you think? ;)

    I agree, and I think the way to keep the planet as hospitable as possible for humans is through economic growth and technological progress, not needless limitations on a politically-selected atmospheric trace gas.

    I am not saying that I believe James Hansens´ 6K sensitivity warnings, but in case of temperature increases just half this size (which is a very real possibility), co2 would certainly not be the least of any conceivable problems we might have.

    Which is why we need to be able to adapt, and not attempt to control the global climate. The odds are that the temperature will eventually drop catastrophically, and that’s what we should prepare for.

  90. Loquor says:

    Ferdinand,

    thank you for the comment. Basically, I will make no claims to the GCM model skills, and I am sure that they do have a problem with clouds – I think that even realclimate would grant this freely.

    I am not sure if I understand some of your points:

    “1) Models assume that the same forcing (in W/m2) has near the same effect on climate, no matter the origin of the forcing”.

    Is that exactly true? I mean, do not all models assume that the stratosphere should cool by a 4W/m2 forcing from GHGs, but warm uniformly with the troposphere, came the same 4W/m2 from the sun? And as far as I know, nobody seriously disputes that the stratosphere is indeed cooling, with warming increasing downwards and the mid-troposphere being a little cooler than the surface.

    And while they may underestimate solar forcing by a factor of two (or three), a tripling of solar forcing to something like 1 W/m2 would still be nowhere near the level needed to explain a substantial part the present warming, would it? At least not without huge positive feedbacks, which most of the same sceptics want us to believe are SMALLER than expected by IPCC, as you are also suggesting……….

    “2) There is a huge offset between GHG effect and aerosol effect”.

    In a narrow sense, you are right, and it is clear that this would be a big problem – if we only tried to estimate the sensitivity from the 20th century. It sounds, however, a bit to me like you are repeating Schwartz´points from his “too rosy a picture” paper in which he claimed that the assessments of sensitivity and model skill are based only on the 20th century (where aerosol forcing has been large).
    As you probably know, this is not correct. Models are validated against a multitude of pre-20th century events exactly because it has been demonstrated countless times that the 20th century is so unusual with respect to so many forcings and temperature shifts that it is not a good constraint on anything. I could be wrong, but as far as I know, this uncertainty (even at low values of aerosol impacts) would not shift sensitivity estimates for 2xco2 much below about 2C when all lines of evidence in taken into consideration.

    “The temperature increase of 2xCO2 is about 0.68°C (based on absorbance), with water vapour feedback: 0.89°C, the rest of the 3°C in current models is from very unsure positive/negative feedbacks like clouds”.

    I do not follow your calculations. Based on absorbance (Arrhenius´model) used by IPCC, from here: http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/aggi/ ), I get

    5,35 * log (560/280)=3,7 W/m2. Even excluding all feedbacks and just assuming blackbody conditions (0,25-0,3C/W/m2), this should amount to about 1-1,2C rise due to co2 only.

    As Soden and others have demonstrated, there is very good evidence at least for the positive sign of the net feedback from water vapour. This put together surely alone raises the expectations to the sensitivity up somewhere in the lower IPCC range – and this is before we start dealing with aerosols at all (or cloud feedback, albedo and land use).

    Is Hans Erren your only source to this? I would be wary of relying too much upon him.

    3) “All models see cloud changes as a positive feedback of GHG”.

    Again: Is this exactly true? I know that they see water vapour overall as a net positive feedback (which is well documented), but do not some models get a small negative feedback, while others a slightly positive one? As far as I know, what all models have in common is that whatever the sign of the cloud feedback this effect is small compared to the large feedbacks like free water vapour, ice albedo and land use changes.

    I am open to the possibility that they could all be wrong in this, but I do not see much in the scientific literature indicating that there are good reasons to believe that they are far off in this.

    And finally, even if IPCC and the “alarmists” are wrong in all these aspects, I have not seen them making wild and completely unsubstantiated claims to a degree remotely comparable to what we see from the sceptics. And I do not recall a single documented evidence of an “alarmist” obviously moving the goalposts or lying.

    The fact that Spencer, Carter and Lindzen are often spreading information which they know is not true is the one most important reason for my general disrespect towards the sceptic side.

    Again, this is not aimed at you (or generally, the commenters here – I really appreciate the sober tone and the reasonable level of discussion in this foum – highly unusual for a climate discussion, my sincere compliments), but I would like to hear your opinion on this.

    Regards, L

  91. wattsupwiththat says:

    Loquor wrote: “I really appreciate the sober tone and the reasonable level of discussion in this forum – highly unusual for a climate discussion, my sincere compliments)”

    Thank you for noticing, there’s two reasons for it.

    1) This site has many participants, heavier on the skeptic side. Skeptics generally don’t resort to the name calling, the labeling, the insults, and the boorish behaviour that we’ve seen on other climate discussion forums.

    2) I routinely admonish those who do exhibit such behaviour, because I want everyone to feel like they can comment without being insulted or attacked.

    The strategy appears to be working, and the visits and comments to the site have doubled in the last month as a result of this, and the content itself.

  92. Loquor says:

    Well, your admonitions may have worked for the audience here, and if this is the case, then I congratulate you with your authority. But when you state:

    “Skeptics generally don’t resort to the name calling, the labeling, the insults, and the boorish behaviour that we’ve seen on other climate discussion forums”.

    then forgive me, but this is patently false. Either you are out in an attempt to put a positive spin on the discussion or you have not visited any other fora with a contribution leaning towards people on the sceptic side.

    Lubos Motl´s blog is perhaps the most striking example of a sceptic blog full of concordantly sceptics commentators whose argumentation style pretty much appear to be confined to name calling, labelling, insults and blatant misrepresentations/misunderstandings of the science and nothing else, really. One might think they are just following the style of the administrator there, but this is pretty much the same thrash talk on e.g. climateaudit – an endless parade of people who never check any sources and seem to accept basically everything that goes in the direction that fits the need of their disire to yell, rant and rave about how scientist are only in it for the money and how this is all a big UN/socialist plot and such.

    Of course, there is much of the same stuff on “alarmist” blogs. You will probably disagree to this, but I think that the basic things that really tires “alarmists” and mainstream scientists into this counterproductive behaviour is the level of dishonesty that is displayed constantly from “sceptical” scientists. In this regard, there is simply no alarmist counterparts, at least not scientific ones.

    If you are an honest scientist thinking that you have a new and groundbreaking hypothesis that pretty much removes the entire foundation for a whole discipline, then every first year student know that rule number one is to make damn sure that you have checked all the important previous research on the subject and that you can adress the load of questions you will inevitably be overloaded with.

    It is quite obvious to everyone here that Dr. Spencer has no answer to even basic questions from textbooks and that he appears completely unaware that his “intriguing hypothesis” about a large ocean source for atmospheric co2 rise has been disproven decades ago and that every single one of his claims have been adressed and done to death about a zillion times in the past 30 years. As I said, it is very hard to believe that Dr. Spencer could possibly have spent 30 years as an atmospheric scientist and yet remain unaware of such basic textbook facts.
    Then why on earth does he go and produce several thousand words and calculations and write all this up without mentioning any of this? Surely not simply to blow smoke, or…….?

    But returning to the positive side, Mr. Watts, then one things that truly does set your blog and your audience apart, though, is the fact that everybody here seem to be open to real scientific evidence and arguments. This is perhaps an even greater source for admiration…………? ;)

  93. Raven says:

    Loquor (09:33:46) says:
    “And while they may underestimate solar forcing by a factor of two (or three), a tripling of solar forcing to something like 1 W/m2 would still be nowhere near the level needed to explain a substantial part the present warming, would it?”

    You are assuming that TSI is the appropriate way to measure solar forcings. It has long been assumed that TSI variations were the reason for solar induced climate changes like the LIA and even the warming in the early 20th. However, recent work with proxies has some solar scientists claiming that the solar proxy data was misinterpreted and that the TSI output from the sun has been not varied at all over the last millennia. This has two implications:

    1) Models that ‘predict’ the past by assuming a TSI related forcing are wrong.
    2) That we don’t understand the effect of the sun on climate well enough to exclude it as a factor during the most recent warming.

    Loquor (09:33:46) says:
    “Models are validated against a multitude of pre-20th century events exactly because it has been demonstrated countless times that the 20th century is so unusual with respect to so many forcings and temperature shifts that it is not a good constraint on anything.”

    I would say this is an assumption and not an established fact. There is good evidence that the temperature varied just as quickly and deviated by just as much in the recent past.

    Loquor (09:33:46) says:
    “As Soden and others have demonstrated, there is very good evidence at least for the positive sign of the net feedback from water vapour.”

    Even if one accepts that more water vapour does not lead to more precipitation then one must deal with attribution when multiple forcings are present. For example, the ice core data suggests that orbital forcings initiated the warming/cooling and CO2 was added in later. Given this sequence of events it would be most reasonable to attribute any (if not all) water vapour forcings to the orbital forcing because it was the primary driver. This would result in a much lower estimate of CO2 sensitivity than one would get by assuming that all feedbacks (albedo, water vapour, etc) can be attributed to the rising GHGs.

    Loquor (09:33:46) says:
    “And I do not recall a single documented evidence of an “alarmist” obviously moving the goalposts or lying.”
    This happens all of the time.

    Example of moving goal posts: real climate never acknowledged the uncertainty in GCMs before Christy et. al. produce dan analysis showing the troposphere temperatures were not keeping up with model predictions. In order to defend the models RC added error bars and cherry picked a dataset happened to fall within those error bars. In other words, RC now insists that the GCMs must be treated as accurate unless all datasets fall outside the 95% confidence interval which happens to include everything from a slight cooling to catastrophic warming. I do not feel this is a reasonable position.

    An example of lying: Mann made numerous statements that were later shown to be false (look up the issue regarding the CENSORED data on the CA site).

    Loquor (09:33:46) says:
    “The fact that Spencer, Carter and Lindzen are often spreading information which they know is not true is the one most important reason for my general disrespect towards the skeptic side.”
    I accept that you claim could be true, however, I am skeptical because I have seen many examples where alarmists express a scientific opinion and then claim it to be a fact. They then label any with a different scientific opinion as dishonest because they ignore their “facts”.

    Can you give me any example where Spencer, Carter or Lindzen have spread facts (as opposed to opinions) that are not true?

  94. Paul Dennis says:

    Ferdinand,

    I apologise for not posting any references earlier regarding carbon dioxide-bicarbonate fractionations etc. The standard references I point my students to is:

    Emrich, K., Ehalt, D.H. and Vogel J.C., 1970, Carbon isotope fractionation during the precipitation of calcium carbonate. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, vol 8, 363-371

    Deuser, W.G. and Degens, E.T., 1967, Carbon isotope fractionation in the system CO2 (gas)-CO2(aq)-HCO3-(aq), Nature, v215, 1033

    Wendt, I., 1968, Fractionation of carbon isotopes and its temperature dependence in the system CO2 (gas)-CO2 in solution and HCO3- – CO2 in solution. Earth and Planetary Science Letters, v 4, 64-68

    Vogel, J.C., Grootes, P.M. and Mook, W.G., 1970, Isotopic fractionation between gaseous and dissolved carbon dioxide. Zeitschrift fur Physik., v230, 225-238

    I hope these help.

    Basically I agree with your synopsis Ferdinand. The rise in atmospheric CO2 can be attributed largely to burning of fossil fuels. The oxygen-nitrogen ratio measurements, carbon isotopes etc. all point to such a source.

  95. wattsupwiththat says:

    Loquor Thanks again. I haven’t visited Motl’s blog but once, and it crashed my browser so I wouldn’t know. Spencer’s ideas will go the way of “self correcting science” if there is no merit to them. But he deserves the opportunity to find out.

    Like with me, I’m regularly criticized for my http://www.surfacestations.org project, and in some cases even heckled. But nonetheless I’m doing the work and we’ll find out the magnitude (if any) of the microsite biases associated with the USHCN weather station network.

    Science is as much about learning from failure as it is from triumph. Either way, proven or falsified, I will have accomplished something nobody else has attempted to do.

  96. Loquor says:

    Raven:

    with respect to solar forcings: Are you referring to Solanki and others? Because as far as I remember, they did find problems, but none suggesting that solar forcing could in any way contibute with more than a minor fraction of the total forcing nonetheless.

    Model validations /20th century: My wording was unfortunate and I am no expert, but I think that the arguments of Forster, Hegerl, Stott and others like Annan and Hargreaves are not that temperatures have not varied much in the past, but that the unusually rapid co2 rise and the high aerosol forcing of the 20th century put together with the associated climate impacts do not set a sensible constraint on the predictions of long-terms changes. (Annan and Hargreaves used last interglacial to set a tighter constraint on the upper bond of the sensitivity in their article exactly for this reason). Therefore, I think that Ferdinands aerosol criticism is somewhat misplaced.

    As with Mann and the hockey stick, I must ask you for more precise sources. While I do not want to defend everything the hockey team have done, it does seem to me that thei results are robust with respect to almost every criticism form McIntyre – they have tried normalisation with other time seriesand used another multivariate method than the criticised PCA, and that did not yiel different results.

    And finally with respect to dishonesty: Ask yourself if you truly believe that Spencer was ignorant of the basic co2 isotope facts? And if Patrick Michaels, Robert Carter or Richard Lindzen are? If not, why would all these people quote
    Khilyuk and Chilingar who are making the same erroneous and long debunked claims that Spencer advanced here

    Here´s Lindzen and Carter:
    http://www.staff.livjm.ac.uk/spsbpeis/WE-STERN.pdf

    …and Michaels:

    http://www.worldclimatereport.com/index.php/2006/12/01/are-humans-involved-in-global-warming/

    Khilyuk and Chilingar compare the total amount of co2 degassed from the Earth´s mantle in the last 4,5 billion years with the human output in the last 200 years and conclude that our contribution is “indistinguishable” compared to this. (They have many other strange claims about how humans cannot heat the planet directly and the same suggestions about ocean co2 sources as Spencer)

    Anyone who has ever heard about the carbon cycle will readily see that this comparison makes no sense whatsoever, since all the co2 degassed billions of years ago has since completed several carbon cycles. This would be relevant only if all co2 had remained in the atmosphere since its formation.

    There is no way these people could be ignorant of the fact that this is not the case. They have read the paper since they quote extensively from it. If this is not a politically motivated spreading of misinformation, then what other reasons do you see for them propagating this rubbish?

  97. Raven says:

    Loquor (17:11:58) :
    “with respect to solar forcings: Are you referring to Solanki and others? Because as far as I remember, they did find problems, but none suggesting that solar forcing could in any way contribute with more than a minor fraction of the total forcing nonetheless.”

    There are really two interesting developments in solar physics. The first is space based measurements show no significant change in TSI over the last 30 years. This has been the basis for the claim that solar effects cannot explain the current warming. However, the second thing that has happened is scientists like Svalgaard have looked at the solar proxies and concluded that the TSI has not varied much in the past either. The latter point is more troubling because there are significant climate shifts in the past that have been attributed to TSI because of a correlation between solar activity and the climate (e.g. the Maunder Minimum). This suggests that the sun’s influence on climate cannot be meaningfully measured by looking at the TSI.

    You can find Svalgaard’s own words on the topic here: http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=2679#comment-205740

    Later in the thread there is a link to an interesting paper by Julien Emile-Geay et. al. that suggests a solar-ENSO link. The paper is here: http://rainbow.ldeo.columbia.edu/~alexeyk/Papers/Emile-Geay_etal2007inpress.pdf

    Now the above is nothing but interesting new research by respected scientists that may go nowhere. However, the fact that these issues are even being discussed today demonstrates that the IPCC cannot reasonably assume that the solar contribution to the current warming must be too small to be a factor. The correct answer is we do not know and a truly robust analysis would include these potential solar effects as part of ‘what-if’ scenarios.

    The Mann hockey stick issue is a lot more muddled. I have read through the arguments and counter arguments and have come to the conclusion that any proxy study that includes bristle cone pines does not provide any useful insight into past temperatures.

    Here is McIntyre’s discussion of Mann 2007 which addresses all of the arguments from the previous studies: http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=2421#more-2421

    I will concede that the argument boils down to two competing scientific opinions regarding the usefulness of bristle cone pines as temperature proxies. In my opinion the weight of the scientific evidence falls rather heavily on the side of McIntyre. A recent study by PhD student at UA is the most recent paper that undermines the useful of BCPs as temperature proxies. See http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=2682

    Now does Mann’s continued use of dubious proxies constitute dishonesty? I would say definitely yes if you want to claim the Micheals et. al. are dishonest because they refer to peer reviewed paper that appears to have been discredited.

    I also think you are bit too critical when it come’s to Roy Spenser’s musings on this topic. In my job, I will frequently brainstorm by assuming that everything we know now is wrong and propose a 180 degree shift in thinking. I will then work through the problem and check for contradicting information and see if it can be delt with under the “new” paradigm. Often I end up validating the old paradigm because the 180 approach makes no sense. Other times I find flaws that need to be addressed but don’t invalidate the old paradigm. Once in a while, I will find the new paradigm makes a lot more sense. When I go through this kind of exercise I deliberately ignore facts that “I should already know” because the entire point of the exercise is to re-examine existing assumptions.

    I hope Dr. Spenser will drop the topic and this blog post will serve as a useful public record of the counter arguments if other skeptics try to raise this canard again. This useful public record would not exist if Dr. Spenser had done his homework first. For that reason I am glad he did not.

  98. Julian Flood says:

    quote And Julian, the water saving ability is exactly the feature of c4 plants that has to do with the co2 effectivity. Simply put, c3 plants have to leave their stomata open for a much longer time to absorb the same amount of co2 that a c4/CAM plants can absorb in a short time/at night. This causes greater respiration in c3 plants. Higher co2 levels will – in theory and ceteros paribus – give the c3 plants a competitive advantage and c4 plants a disadvantage. I will not try to make any guesses to what this will mean put together with water, sunlight nutrients etc (with respect to Liebigs law of minimum) under real-life conditions in a future world. I am just stating that there is as little empirical and theoretical foundation for predicting greening deserts and thriving plants as for predicting doom and gloom. unquote

    Has anyone tried C4 at higher CO2 levels? C4 is a stress reaction and works better in drought and salt-elevated circumstances. There’s a chance that they will get better stress response from more CO2, as they’ll lose less water getting the required carbon. I have not seen it addressed as a response with actual trials. [Ah, I now read Raven's earlier post -- there you go. Green deserts, here we come.]

    JF

  99. Loquor says:

    Raven,

    thank you for the links – Julien Emile-Geay is a man I have a lot of respect for, so i will read his paper in details when I get time. I do not pretend to understand solar physics in any details. I do, however, know that IPCC has a lot of contributors with a profound understanding of the subject like Lockwood, Lean and the likes, so I am sure that they will catch up on interesting new paradigms.

    Regarding Mann and dishonesty , it seems like the jury is still out in this case of bristlecone pines, but let us assume you and Abaneh are right – they are not very reliable. This is then a recent development that Mann – grudgingly – will have to accept. I think a comparison with Svensmarks workwith respect to the Damon/ Laut and Lockwood/Frölich findings might be useful. Svensmark has quietly stepped back from many of his previous assertions while still maintaining that his theory might hold some (not very well specified) key to a very central issue, so far really without producing any evidence.
    Is Svensmarks proceeding dishonest? My answer is a definite “no”. We all have a weak spot for our own theories and thoughts, and we only accept that something we really thought could be groundbreaking turns out to be merely wrong if the evidence is overwhelming. So far, I see clear indications that Mann may have been over-confident in his proxies and that Svensmark may well just waste his time (especially with respect to the present warming, which is Svensmark´s core), but I would not say that the evidence is yet overwhelming – in the sense that no reasonable counterarguments cannot be produced. So they are perhaps not following the best available evidence, but that is just normal practice for scientists with respect to their own conceived theories/procedures.

    But none of this applies to the Michaels/Lindzen/Carter/Spencer and Khilyuk/Chilingar. Have you read the K&C paper? This is not the propagation of a new or a poorly supported but potentially interesting theory, it is simply sheer rubbish with mistakes so egregious that you wonder what the editorial board of the journal have been doing during the review process. For example, K&C claim that the entire energy consumption generated by humans could not heat the atmosphere by more than 0,01 C by direct heating – and who on earth have ever claimed that direct heating makes any contribution whatsoever to global warming? But tjis does not prevent Carter and Lindzen from quoting exactly this phrase in their critique of the Stern review cited above – they even emphasize this as a prime example for lampooning Stern for ignoring “sceptical science”.
    While I do follow your logic about the usefulness of rethinking paradigms once in a while and ignoring things “you should know” in the process, this is hardly an example of such an exercise, is it?

    As you show, the purpose of this exercise is to force yourself to take a critical look at the evidence and then only go on with the things where you have successfully identified flaws and holes in the standing paradigm which cannot be addressed by the current body of evidence. There is no way that all these people did not immediately identify the fallacies of K&C´s reasoning. And yet they still used their false arguments for producing a long authoritatively looking paper which had clear political motivation, and which they know will be propagated end recycled endlessly among people eager to believe that this is all a hoax or a socialist conspiracy – it already has been. So far I have seen none of those people try to recant their erroneous assertions. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that they do not really care about the scientific evidence, do not you think?

    I agree that records of mistakes are indeed useful, but there are countless similar earlier records on exactly this shopworn argument that take less than a minute to find via Google. I find it difficult to accept this as an excuse for Spencers musings here – as I said, the basic facts should be known to any first year ecologist and surely to an experienced researcher with 30 years work in exactly this topic. I think that Spencer were indeed aware of the counterarguments but chose to write this up anyway. If this does not indicate an intent to blow smoke, then what reasons do you then see?

  100. Stan Needham says:

    I don’t know if Dr. Spencer is still monitoring this thread, but, if he is, it would be interesting at this point to have him comment.

  101. Raven says:

    Loquor (04:00:13) :
    “Regarding Mann and dishonesty, it seems like the jury is still out in this case of bristlecone pines”
    There is evidence that Mann was aware of this issue in 1998 and choose to ignore it. For example, he tested his data for statistical relevance and found none yet he did not report this extremely important detail in his paper. I am pretty sure you would call an omission like that scientific fraud if it was committed by a skeptic. After all, Mann ‘should have known better’ so he must have omitted it deliberately (sic).

    Here is a good summary of the case against Mann: http://www.climateaudit.org/?p=2322#more-2322

    FWIW – I do agree that the citation of the Khilyuk/Chilingar is probably unjustified. However, to be fair you must direct similar accusations of dishonesty at any paper that cites MBH98 or its derivatives.

    This debate is so complex that it is impossible for even the most informed person to become an expert on all topics – especially when the experts interpret the same data in different ways. This means that most people have to decide who they trust when it comes to resolving differences of opinions.

    Our own differences of opinion can be traced back to differences in who we trust. I simply do not trust the IPCC and many of the key scientists that are behind the report. The poor handling of the Mann/Hockey Stick issue has made it is pretty obvious to me that the IPCC is an advocate for the hypothesis that CO2 is the primary cause of the current warming and that it is only interested in scientific opinions that support this hypothesis. If this was a trial and CO2 was the accused then the IPCC would be the prosecutor. Of course, this does not mean that the accused is innocent – it just means that one must view the IPCC’s version of events as inherently biased toward showing that the accused is guilty.

    The solar issue is a good example. The IPCC dismisses the effect of the sun as insignificant despite the mountains of circumstantial evidence that there is a poorly understood connection between the sun and climate (e.g. sunspots correlate well with climate). I realize that correlations do not equal causations but if one wishes to argue the reverse (i.e. no cause and effect relationship exists) then these correlations must be explained. The IPCC does not attempt to do this and relies on the argument that it is possible to assume that no solar-climate link exists since no solar-climate link has been proven to exist. In my opinion, this argument is complete nonsense and any impartial attribution analysis would attempt to quantify the magnitude of the unknown solar effect and include that when reporting the range of CO2 sensitivities. Here is one attempt that presumes this unknown effect comes from cosmic rays: http://www.sciencebits.com/CO2orSolar

    “Using historic variations in climate and the cosmic ray flux, one can actually quantify empirically the relation between cosmic ray flux variations and global temperature change, and estimate the solar contribution to the 20th century warming. This contribution comes out to be 0.5±0.2°C out of the observed 0.6±0.2°C global warming (Shaviv, 2005).”

    I am not arguing that Shaviv’s analysis has been proven correct, I am simply arguing that it is plausible enough to include in any analysis that attempts to place upper and lower bounds on the magnitude of the CO2 effect on climate. Unfortunately, doing this will simply add to the uncertainty and the IPCC does not want any uncertainty that would distract policy makers from committing to drastic action on CO2…

  102. Mr Bojangles says:

    Loquor complains about “…the level of dishonesty that is displayed constantly from “sceptical” scientists. In this regard, there is simply no alarmist counterparts, at least not scientific ones.”

    That statement is ridiculous, if not outright mendacious.

  103. loquor says:

    Mr. Bojangles: I respect if you beg to differ, but if you intend to convince anyone who does not already suspect that this is all a big UN-leaded hoax or something like this, you really should provide some examples rather than just stating your unsupported prejudices.

    I have now provided loads of examples where Lindzen, Spencer, Michaels and Carter cite highly unreliable literature they obviously do not themselves believe in. I have made a case for the striking inconsistency wit which the same people explain away a rising trend in the satellite measurements from 1979 and onwards with the exceptional El Nino year 1998 – fair enough, but not when the very same people nonetheless shamelessly use this very same year as a valid starting point in a dubious 10-year trend to support the claim that global warming stopped in 1998. I have listed Michaels well-known fraudulent treatment of James Hansens testimony.
    I have further asked if anybody here truly believes that an intelligent and experienced atmospheric researcher – as Spencer undeniably is – could credibly claim to be unaware of basic textbook facts that first year ecologists are required to know to pass their exams.

    The only conclusion I can produce for all this is that all these sceptic scientist are either knowingly dishonest or capable of a really breathtaking level of self-delusion.

    So far, I see not a single one here seriously disputing any of these points.

    The only counterexample I have seen here is the well known Hockey Stick Controversy. When it comes to erroneous claims and dirty tricks, I really do not see how anybody can claim that the Hockey team and the 2x Mc have anything to reproach each other for. I will not try to settle the ongoing controversy about bristlecone pine proxies here and I acknowledge that McIntyre might well have a point here, but this is hardly an example of dishonesty any more than Shaviv or Svensmarks reliance upon their own quite dubious data – as I said, I do not think that any of these two are dishonest at all, either, they are just on to something they really believe is potentially very interesting (though poorly supported).

    When it comes to discussions of dishonesty, it is very decisive to me that the grand NRC report co-authored by the very respectable and somewhat sceptic John Christy found no evidence at all of conscious fraud or fakery in his review of the work of the Hockey team.

    And even if we assume or the sake of the argument that the MBH98/99 Hockey sticks are completely void, useless, silly and plain wrong, we are still left with the reconstructions of Moberg, Rutherford, von Storch and numerous others which might differ slightly from the original MBH98/99 in the wobbliness of the shaft, but nonetheless all lead to pretty much the same conclusion about the present warming. Certainly none at all support unusual warmth in the 15-16th centuries as 2xMc found, and everybody except for themselves seem to agree that their statistical argumens are completely irrelevant and unimportant.

    I have yet to see any evidence at all for scientific dishonesty from any respectable “alarmist” scientist.

  104. Raven says:

    loquor (05:53:24) :
    “The only counterexample I have seen here is the well known Hockey Stick Controversy.”
    I am sorry. The Hockey Stick will go down in history as the most egregious example of scientific fraud since cold fusion but it will take close to 10-20 years to collect enough data to undo the damage. We are already seeing proxy some studies coming out that use rigorous statistical analysis techniques and demonstrate that the MWP was most likely as warm if not warmer than today.

    The fact that so many pro-IPCC scientists seem to live in denial about this and continue to insist that the hockey stick has any merit what so ever is the main reason why I believe that the IPCC is hopelessly biased towards blaming CO2 and that its conclusions cannot provide any useful guidance to policy makers.

    Ironically, I do accept the counter argument that even if the MWP was warmer than today that does not mean that CO2 is not causing the current warming. As with any political scandal it is the reaction to the facts that undermines the credibility of those involved rather than the facts themselves.

    I even accept that your criticisms of some of the skeptics has some merit, however, your stubborn refusal to acknowledge the much more odious transgressions of Mann et. al. undermine your own arguments.

    I have noticed a general rule in climate science. If someone supports the CO2 hypothesis then any amount of bad science can be forgiven because they are “mostly” correct. Yet if someone rejects or even casts some doubt on the CO2 hypothesis then even the tiniest error is used to declare the person “dishonest and untrustworthy”. You can see this pattern repeated over and over again with Christy, Spenser, Linzden, Loehe, McIntryre, etc.

    I keep hoping that I will find someone with a pro-IPCC view who can make a case for CO2 induced warming but is willing to acknowledge the flaws and uncertainties in the science supporting their view. Steve McIntyre and many of the regular skeptical posters on his blog do try to make this more mature pro-IPCC argument. Ironically, this fact is not known by most pro-IPCC types because they fear anyone who dares to criticises them.

  105. jp says:

    CO2 interannual variation due to ENSO are mostly related to fire in forest and coal/peat, it’s organic carbon as fossil fuels are…so why should c13/c12 ratio be much different?

    That’s from IPCC AR4 about interannual variability:

    ” Since the TAR, many studies have confirmed that the
    variability of CO2 fluxes is mostly due to land fluxes
    , and that
    tropical lands contribute strongly to this signal (Figure 7.9). A
    predominantly terrestrial origin of the growth rate variability can
    be inferred from (1) atmospheric inversions assimilating time
    series of CO2 concentrations from different stations (Bousquet
    et al., 2000; Rödenbeck et al., 2003b; Baker et al., 2006),
    (2) consistent relationships between δ13C and CO2 (Rayner et al.,
    1999), (3) ocean model simulations (e.g., Le Quéré et al., 2003;
    McKinley et al., 2004a) and (4) terrestrial carbon cycle and
    coupled model simulations (e.g., C. Jones et al., 2001; McGuire
    et al., 2001; Peylin et al., 2005; Zeng et al., 2005). Currently,
    there is no evidence for basin-scale interannual variability of the
    air-sea CO2 flux exceeding ±0.4 GtC yr–1, but there are large
    ocean regions, such as the Southern Ocean, where interannual
    variability has not been well observed.”

    So how can you contrast this theory with c13/c12 regression from detrended data if the source of this carbon is organic and depleted in c13 as fossil fuels?

    Some news about Indonesia peat/coal/forest fire:
    http://rainforests.mongabay.com/08indo_fires.htm

    C13/c12 ratio simply allow to discern between mostly organic(wood,coal etc..) and mostly inorganic(ocean,volcano) carbon source.

  106. All,

    Sorry that there was no reaction in the last days from my side. I was heavily involved in a similar discussion on a skeptics’ discussion list…

    It will take some more week to respond to a few remaining questions here, if still somebody is listening…

    Regards,

    Ferdinand

  107. A fast question JP:

    El Niño events are from near all times, including the pre-industrial times. Pre-industrial d13C was near stable, only influenced by temperature. Now we see a huge decrease. Thus it seems not so plausible that vegetation suddenly started to increase in decay/burning in pace with human emissions…

  108. loquor says:

    Raven:

    I wrote a longer comment respondering to your comments in detail, but apparently this was lost in the spam filter. Anyway:

    Regarding the “odious transgressions” you write about with respect to the Hockey stick (MBH98) – I am pretty familiar with all the McKittrick/McIntyre debate, the NRC and the Wegman reports, and forgive me, but there is nothing in the links you provided that suggest anything remotely like conscious fraud. I am seriously willing to read any arguments – I am not stubbornly rejecting anything – but your links simply do not support your conclusions.

    As you have correctly identified, it all boils down to whether bristlecone pines are useful or not – so surely by your own standards, anyone claiming that there are gross statistical problems with the study are committing fraud. And nobody has ever found anything similar to the unusual warmth in the 15-16th century as 2xMc found. Would you then say that this claim represent an “odious transgression”, too?

    Actually, McIntyre himself states that the suspicion against the bristlecones back in 1998 was that there might be a co2 fertilisation effect, and that this suspicion is now shown to be wrong by Abaneh. So to use this to claim that MBH somehow ought to have thrown them out afterwards just because someone claimed that this might be a problem seems quite strange to me.
    Does not it make you wonder that the NRC and John Christy examined it and found no evidence of any ill intent? And that the Wegman report found only statistical quibbles which have all been addressed and found unimportant?

    And seriously: Whatever one thinks about MBH98, it is inescapable that it was a pioneering study with respect to temperature reconstructions that has been used extensively by all followers – even if they dsagree with the conclusions like von Storch/Zorita, 2xMc or Moberg et al. To discredit anybody relying upon anything like this would be to discard anyone and everyone working on past temperatures.

    However, I agree that it seems now like McIntyre is on to something with the bristlecone pines. So let us say that these proxies are no good, and the shaft of the MBH98 was too straight. Then we are left with something like Moberg et al. or von Storch – which makes just about no difference with respect to the conclusions on the present temperature changes. In my view, the main reason why this study has gained so much attention is the ferocity with which sceptics have attacked it, maybe because some people have thought that this was a core pillar of the entire AGW hypothesis. I am completely willing to believe that it was wrong, but I am not surprised neither that there are problems with a pioneering study nor that the author of such a work will defend it more eagerly than the rest of the science community. Let me repeat the comparison with Svensmark: His lab workers seem to be pretty much the only ones (maybe barring Nir Shaviv) who still cling to his theory in its “hard” version – and once again, by your very strict standard this would also amount to fraud. Maybe I have a more lenient view upon what constitutes fraud than you, but I apply it consistently.

    And you may not trust the IPCC, but the facts remain that they have reacted upon this critique and moderated the conclusions based on MBH in the FAR report. This seems to me like proper scientific conduct, does not it?

    I understand your scepticism towards the UN generally, but since the IPCC process is done by independent scientists and is based on the science done outside the control of UN, I do not think that the fair critcism that can be levelled at the UN on many other levels applies to the IPCC.

    On the contrary, I have never seen Lindzen, Michaels or Carter acknowledge any errors. They just seem to keep going with unreconstructed claims disproven decades ago – and honestly, to advance, based on K&C, that “AGW is wrong because humans are not directly heating the planet by more than 0,01C” is not exactly “the tiniest error”, is it? And unless you want to argue that these three really believe AGW to be based on direct heating (in which case they should probably find another job), then this is not an error at all, but deliberate misinformation, is not it?

    Really, whatever one thinks of the UN or international policy measures, it is not a tough call to me whom to trust in this case. And I would trust the same people had they arrived at a different conclusion.

  109. Raven says:

    loquor (03:25:17) :
    “so surely by your own standards, anyone claiming that there are gross statistical problems with the study are committing fraud. ”
    These are more the standards that you put forth when you imply that Dr Spenser was ‘dishonest’ for musing about CO2 on this forum. Or that Carter and Linzden’s reference to a single dubious paper is enough to justify a similar dismissal of all of their arguments. If the transgressions of Christy, Linzden etc amount to dishonesty then Mann’s actions amount to fraud. If Mann made an honest mistake then so did Christy et. al.

    If you want any example of how Mann should have handled the criticism then I recommend you look at Loehle 2007 and the recent Loehle, C., and J.H. McCulloch. 2008: http://www.ncasi.org/Publications/Detail.aspx?id=3025

    Note the acknowledgements:

    “Thanks to all authors who posted or provided climate time series data. Thanks in particular to Eric Swanson, Gavin Schmidt, Steve McIntyre and the visitors to ClimateAudit (climateaudit.org) who helped uncover errors in data handling.”

    Note the thanks to Schmidt who was anything but gracious when he tore Loehle’s orginal paper apart.

    It is interesting to contrast the behavoir of Loehle to the behavoir of Mann and the climate science community when orginally confronted with McIntyre’s findings.

    In 2004, the attacks on McIntyre and McKitrick were gratuitious and extremely unprofessional. The fact that McIntyre’s views are starting to be accepted by the science community makes the public personal attacks at the time even more odious.

    Take a look at the tone for yourself: http://www.realclimate.org/index.php?p=98

    I seems obvious to me who is more trustworthy.

    Even if I give Mann and the climate scientists that defended him the benefit of doubt by acknowledging that M&M paper was an unexpected public attack. That does not change the fact that they defended in indefensible position and still have not admitted they were wrong. For me that is the unforgiveable transgression. If I am going to trust someone’s scientific position then I have believe they would change their mind if presented with new evidence. The message I have be getting from many in the climate science community is “our mind is made up and would argue that CO2 induced GW is happening even if a glacier covered New York City”.

    Incidently, I say the reference to the Khilyuk/Chilingar is a small detail because I never really noticed it despite the fact that I have read many things that Carter and Lindzen on published on issue. If they mentioned the human heat contribution more than once it was not definitely not the central part of their argument.

    All of the major arguments which they do repeat over and over again are either indisputable facts or legitimate interpretations of the evidence.

  110. Loquor says:

    Well, Raven, we may have to agree to disagree about the Hockey Stick controversy, but I will note that even if we accept every word of McIntyres that I have read and that you have quoted here, there is nothing in this suggesting outright fraud. You do not adress any of my arguments with respect to co2-fertilisation, statistics or the NRC report, and you do not seem to have read the McIntyre quotes I refered to thoroughly.

    Again, I think that every single critique point of Mann et al. you raise applies equally, if not more, to Svensmarks behaviour with respect to his own theory. And what distinguishes both of them from Carter, Lindzen or Spencer – if we accept that the criticisms leveled against them are entirely valid – is the fact that they both made pioneering work which was then later found to be in error. It is quite normal for those scientists to cling much harder to their own theory and only slowly budging – especially when some of the more vocal criticisms leveled at you are clearly politically motivated, as has been the case with both these two. Would you argue that Svensmarks attitude tantamounts to fraud, too?

    Anyway, by any standard, there is a world of difference between these two and Spencer, Carter and Lindzen. These latters are not advancing new hypotheses, but merely trying to float an issue that has been dead as a doornail for 40 years (before any of them ever started their careers) with no new support.
    You may perceive the K&C quote of Carter and Lindzen in the paper i provided as “a minor issue”, but if you actually read it, you will discover that this was actually their major scientific base – really, their only example – for their whole paper in which they claimed that the Stern review unduly neglected sceptical science, and there would have been no paper without this. The kindest explanation I can produce for this would be an extraordinary capability of self-delusion with these authors.

    “All of the major arguments which they do repeat over and over again are either indisputable facts or legitimate interpretations of the evidence”.

    Well, I´m sorry, but that is simply not true. How about “Water vapour is 98% of the greenhouse effect”, “Global warming stopped in 1998″, “a doubling of co2 only leads to a 2% increase in the greenhouse effect”, “My (Richard Lindzen´s) views upon negative water vapour feedback are shared universally by other scientists”, “Global temperatures have been falling for the recent years”, “Satellite data show no warming”,”Satellite data show no warming when corrected for the exceptionally warm 1997/98 El Niño year”, “James Hansen overpredicted warming by 300% in 1988″ etc. etc.?

    By all accounts, there is not a single one of these claims (which they, as you correctly observe, “repeat over and over again”) which are indisputable facts and at best a few which can be considered legitimate, if quite unusual, interpretations. On the contrary, many of them are outright fraudulent (with Michaels´ erasure of Hansens two lower scenarios as the most outraging example), untrue (staellites show no warming) and certainly internally contradictory (when Spencer and Carter erase 1997/98 from the satellite record but use it as a starting point for a 7-8 year trend). And since everybody knows that the effects of GHG are not additive and that water vapour is really a feedback on the relevant timescales, it makes no sense to use “water vapour is 95/98% of the greenhouse effect” as an argument against AGW from co2.

    Even is we accept that Mann and all his work is void, fraud, bogus bankrupt or worse and discard everything he has ever made and everybody using his data – and applies the same sentencing standard to the mentioned sceptics- then this still leaves us with huge evidence in favour of AGW and with all the above sceptics as discredited frauds.

  111. jp says:

    Ferdinand, forest fire in Indonesia are set by human every year but el-nino induced droughts create the condition for widespread fires as happened in 1998.
    http://www.cifor.cgiar.org/Publications/Detail?pid=339
    Anyway which data source are you using for preindustrial d13C?

  112. Raven says:

    “Water vapour is 98% of the greenhouse effect”
    “a doubling of co2 only leads to a 2% increase in the greenhouse effect”
    “My (Richard Lindzen´s) views upon negative water vapour feedback are shared universally by other scientists”

    Linzden’s opinions on water vapour feedback are reasonable scientific opinions that you may disagree with. That does not make them dishonest. Frankly, I think his theories fit the empirical data better than the GCM predicted water vapour feedback.

    “Global warming stopped in 1998″
    “Global temperatures have been falling for the recent years”
    “Satellite data show no warming”
    “Satellite data show no warming when corrected for the exceptionally warm 1997/98 El Niño year”

    All of these statements are supported by the data. I realize that someone could come to different conclusions by cherry picking different dates, however, I don’t see how you can claim that one person’s cherries are the ‘truth’ and another person’s cherries are ‘lies’.

    I should probably mention that the lack of any warming in the satellite data is the most persuasive argument that the ‘consensus’ has got it wrong. At a minimum it casts enough doubt that we really should wait another 10 years before committing to any drastic CO2 reduction measures. Conversely, I will change my opinion on CO2 if the trend reverses suddenly and warming catches up to the 0.2 degC/decade trendline predicted by the the alarmists.

    Basically, I put more weight on people with opinions that are supported by the real data than on people whose opinions are based on theoretical models.

    “James Hansen over predicted warming by 300% in 1988″ etc. etc.?

    You make a big issue about Micheals leaving out Scenario B and C and I agree that the data should not be deleted. However, Hansen did repeatedly refer to Scenario A as the ‘business as usual’ scenario so Hansen can only blame himself if people come along later and claim that Scenario A was the primary prediction.

    Scenario B did include volcanoes but it also assumed a much lower amount of of GHG forcing so Hansen is being dishonest when he tries to claim that the difference between Scenario B and A can be explained by the Pinatubo eruption. The real difference is the difference in forcing by non-CO2 GHGs like methane – a problem that seems to have gone away without any action on the part of governments.

    In short, if Micheals and Linzden are to be criticized for taking Hansen at his word when he said that scenario A was business as usual then Hansen should be taken to task for deceptively claiming that the volcano in 1992 explains the difference between the two.

    Lastly, if you have a problem with Michaels then you should also have a big problem with Briffa who deleted data from his tree ring series presented in TAR. I realize that Briffa has come up with rationalizations to justify this deletion but there are many people that don’t accept this rationalizations and feel the data should have been included. If you accept Briffa’s explanation then you should also accept Micheal’s explanation for omitting Scenarios B and C.

  113. loquor says:

    Raven:

    Lindzen´s Iris effect is a legitimate theory, but I do not see how anybody with a knowledge on the data (as you undeniably has) can seriously claim that this is better supported than the mainstream view, as documented by Soden, Hansen, Mnschwaner and others. At best, Christy et al. produced some flimsy indications of a negative feedback effect, but there just about zero evidence for an overall net negative or even zero feedback. So it is not fraudulent for Lindzen to insist on his theory, and I do not rule out that it might one day be vindicated to at least some degree, but at present any fair-minded who has read the papers cannot escape the conclusion that it certainly is not exactly well-supported. And for him to state that his views on negative water vapour feedback are “shared universally” by other scientist (as he told the British House of Lords in his testimony) is flatly ridiculous as really no one besides himself and a very few contrarians share anything remotely like this view. I fail to see how you could possibly arrive at any other conclusion on this statement of Lindzens.

    I do not understand how you can claim that the satellite data do not show warming, even when corrected for the El Nino year 1997/98 – are we looking on the same data?

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

    Christy himself (properly) acknowledged the error in his dataset years ago. To be sure, there are still uncertainities in the agreement between tropospheric and surface data, but the he claim “Satellites show no warming” is simply not true judged by any standard – and when you state:

    “Basically, I put more weight on people with opinions that are supported by the real data than on people whose opinions are based on theoretical models”.

    then you should remember that just because a researcher measures something, that does not necessarily make his measurement “real data” – in fact, in this previously alleged satellite/surface discrepancy it was the “real data” which were in error.

    And about cherry picking – the exceptionality of “the exceptionally warm El Nino year 1997/98″ has been highlighted by just about every scientific AGW advocate I have heard of, and I think it is fair, as Spencer and Carter argued, that this year should be excluded from the satellite data (in which case the dataset still shows clear warming, though). However, when they now go and claim that there is no need to correct for this year and apparently think that it is an excellent starting point for a 8-10 year trend, then this is not merely a cherry pick, but a striking inconsistency. I refuse to believe that you cannot see this?

    And I do not understand why you want to defend Michaels obvious fraud – forgive me, but just about every argument you make is misleading or just wrong. Go read Hansen´s paper:

    http://scienceblogs.com/deltoid/2006/06/hansen_et_al_global_climate_ch.php

    “Scenario A, since it is exponential, must eventually be on the high side of reality in view of finite resource constraints and environmental concerns”

    “Scenario C is a more drastic curtailment of emissions than has generally been imagined”

    “Scenario B is perhaps the most plausible of the three cases”.

    So Hansen boldly stated in his paper that scenario B was “perhaps the most likely” – and surely, both the Pinatubo eruption and the lack of a rise in methane has contributed to the fact that the B scenario came closer to the reality? I thought that this was just a fact? “Business as usual” do not translate into “most likely” – and in any case, if anybody thought so, Hansen explicitly rejects any such interpretation in his paper, where by this term, he referred to a stable rise in co2 and methane, no action and no volcanic eruption and called his B scenario most plausible.

    I have not studied the Briffa controversy in detail, and I am prima facie not sure that I will necessarily want to defend his actions or conclusions – I will go and read the transcipts first. But just from your version of this, there is still a world of difference between leaving out data where you tell people that you do so and why – and then as Michaels did, just to leave out data without telling anybody so, and with the undeniable motive of making Hansens projections appear silly.

    I am ready to accept that Briffas exclusions might be biased by his convictions – hey, in this very moment I am myself writing a scientific paper on genetics in which my arguments are to a large extent based on exclusion of some data which I believe to me misleading. I am probably biased by some previous convictions on genetic relationship, and I might well be wrong – in which case people who do not believe so much in phylogenetic inference as I do might try to replicate my work and prove me wrong. I would hate that, of course, but I could not do anything but to disagree and try to present counterarguments – or, grudgingly, acknowledge my error.

    But if someone with a personal and politically motivated antipathy against me or my preferred methods or results (happily, this is not anyway half as big a problem in genetics as in climatology) just analysed the data I had excluded without looking at those I did include and used this to claim that I was all wrong and that this was all politically motivated BS to justify shady communist government interference etc. then I would just know that their attacks were not worth bothering with.

    [snip]

  114. Raven says:

    loquor (15:29:40) :
    “And I do not understand why you want to defend Michaels obvious fraud – forgive me, but just about every argument you make is misleading or just wrong”
    Hansen is on record in senate hearings claiming the Scenario A is the ‘business as usual’ scenario and makes no mention of Scenario B. There are numerous other inconsistencies between the record of his testimony and what he actually wrote in his paper. If Hansen is going to distort his own science when he is in public then he should not be surprised that others rely on his public statements rather than what was written in the paper.

    That said, I agree that deleting the curves from the figures was highly inappropriate and Micheals undermined his credibility by doing it.

    We could probably go on forever listing the human foibles of people involved on either side of the debate. I am not sure what it would accomplish. However, I would like to address the issue of no warming since 1998:

    1) I realize that if you draw a trend from the start of the satellite record you will see warming. However, choosing the start of the record is an example of cherry picking too because we know the 70s was bottom of a cool period. The fact that we have no data prior to 1979 does not make the AGW cherry picking any better than the cherry picking of skeptics.

    2) Many AGW advocates seem to think any rising trend validates their arguments. This is a bad assumption. The primary skeptic argument is that CO2 sensitivity is much lower than the IPCC says. This means we can expect some warming but nothing to be concerned about. As a result, any trend that is less than about 0.2 degC/decade falsifies the alarmist argument and validates the views of Linzden, Spencer, et al. For that reason, the leveling off which we have seen in the last 10 years is quite significant even though it has not turned the corner into a negative trend.

  115. Magnus says:

    Even if most of the isn’t fossil CO2, couldn’t it be a gas balance between the atmosphere and the ocean an biosphere (natural absorption/emission sources) which is affected from an annual increase of the CO2 level in the atmosphere and that this higher CO2 level then persists?

    The temperature anomaly CO2 covariance in the former CO2-post i think is more striking!

  116. Loquor says:

    Well, Raven,

    I do not dispute that there are human foibles on both sides, nor that we could probably go on arguing about them, but I will say a) that it is hard to ignore that these “human foibles” are much more predominant on the sceptic side because of the want of scientific backup, and b) that I do not think Hansen´s testimony and the paper can be fairly described as a human foible. You state:

    “Hansen is on record in senate hearings claiming the Scenario A is the ‘business as usual’ scenario and makes no mention of Scenario B. There are numerous other inconsistencies between the record of his testimony and what he actually wrote in his paper”.

    That does not seem to be at all true? Are you making this up? I cannot find the complete transcripts of the testimony, but from those parts I can find (see comment from the sceptic Knappenberger in the realclimate link) it is clear that Hansen explicitly did mention all his three scenarios AND relied mostly on the B in the detailed explanations in both the oral and the written testimony:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2006/04/the-heat-is-rising-at-the-washington-post/#comment-10865

    http://www.columbia.edu/~jeh1/hansen_re-crichton.pdf

    James Hansen: “The other curves in this figure [besides the observations] are the results of global climate model calculations for three scenarios of atmospheric trace gas growth. We have considered several scenarios because there are uncertainties in the exact trace gas growth in the past and especially in the future. We have considered cases ranging from business as usual, which is scenario A, to draconian emission cuts, scenario C, which would totally eliminate net trace gas growth by year 2000″.

    Hansen attached his paper to the written testimony – and he explained very explicitly what was meant by Business as usual. I just do not see that there is anything to blame Hansen for in this case? The distortions or omissions appear to have arisen entirely from Michaels very own take on Hansen´s testimony.

    And with respect to the 1998 and the satellites: By your standard for cherry picking, it would seem that just about every choose of a starting point would be a cherry pick? Surely, the trend from 1979 is not very long, but you have to choose just SOME starting point – that is, if you want to undertake scientific inquiry? The only thing you can do is to find some objective grounds for choosing this specific point and try to explain your choice by making the reasons clear. For the satellite temperature measurements, the argument that we only have data from 1979 and onwards seems to me as a pretty good objective argument for choosing this year and showing the entire record – especially when you correct for the annual anomalies like the EL Nino years. A 30 year-trend is surely objectively better than an 8-year trend – and it is certainly more objective to show the entire existing trend than picking one random record temperature year as a starting pointand showing just a third of the record, is not it? If someone had shown only a selected part of the curve that showed large warming, then I would agree that it were a cherry pick, but I am not aware of any alarmists having done so?

    If you want to argue that the 70ies were a cool period and that this represents an “innate” cherry pick making arguments based on this record so far dubious, then why were Michaels and other sceptics then more than happy to claim the satellite record was highly trustworthy and reliable just a few years ago, when it – erroneously, as it proved – appeared to show cooling or at least no warming?

    And none of this adresses the major problem I asked you about: It is not just cherry picking when you insist upon correcting for El Nino years in the satellite record from 1979-98 but not from 1998-2007, is it?

    Finally, you state:

    “Many AGW advocates seem to think any rising trend validates their arguments. This is a bad assumption”.

    Indeed, but are you referring to scientific AGW advocates or political/popular ones? To claim that any short term rise represents some kind of “proof” of AGW is as foolish as claiming that global warming stopped in 1998, but I do not know of any AGW scientist having tried to validate their claims by references to arbitrarily rising trends? And with respect to the sensitivity issue, then why does anything less than 0,2/decade – over ONE decade, that is – falsify the calculations of sensitivity? Everybody knows that there is a huge heat content in the oceans – actually, the measures of the size of this heat content indicates that we have already surpassed the limits of sensitivity as argued by Lindzen (0,5-1C), and that we would still have at least 0,5C in the pipeline even if we stopped emitting co2 tomorrow, which, at a co2 level of just 400 ppm, would indicate that the sensitivity for doubling to 560 ppm should be much higher.

  117. Magnus says:

    Loquor: “Everybody knows that there is a huge heat content in the oceans – actually, the measures of the size of this heat content indicates that we have already surpassed… ”

    This is a very mysterious argument. Is there a “huge heat content in the oceans” we ahve to be afraid for, and which contribute to the climate sensivity? This I regard as kind of an “escape argument”. You can’t change the topic of a discussion, which is global warming of the earth’s surface. BTW: If there is not much temperature anomaly on the surface warmth from the surface can’t be transported to cooler deep blue.

    I recognized that RealClimate has started this “Loch Ness heat monster” story, in order to to save the climate models.

    -
    Loquor: “the limits of sensitivity as argued by Lindzen (0,5-1C), and that we would still have at least 0,5C in the pipeline even if we stopped emitting co2 tomorrow, which, at a co2 level of just 400 ppm, would indicate that the sensitivity for doubling to 560 ppm should be much higher.”

    Also 0,5 degrees climate change is no problem, and aslo there is no proof at all that the climate change the last 100 years is caused by CO2. Not at all!

    There has been faster and bigger climate changes the latest 1000 years than the presumably at most 0,5 degrees since 1880. Watch the best climate graph, the Loehle graph (reviewed and adjusted after comments from AGW-Gavin schmidt):
    http://www.worldclimatereport.com/index.php/2008/02/11/a-2000-year-global-temperature-record/

    Why I’m not say 0,5-1 degrees is becase of this study of temperature measurements and socio-economical factors which proves GISS data bias:

    http://www.spectator.org/dsp_article.asp?art_id=12492
    http://www.uoguelph.ca/~rmckitri/research/jgr07/M&M.JGRDec07.pdf

    BTW, if we have 0,5-1 degrees AGW today, which isn’t likely, we must know the climate sensitivity is declining at higher CO2 concentration, so doubling means probably less than “0,5-1″ degrees. The absorption band of CO2 is very limited.

  118. Raven says:

    Here is Hansen’s testimony:
    http://www.climateaudit.org/pdf/others/Hansen.0623-1988%20oral.pdf
    He describes Scenario A as business as usual in terms that let the listener believe that Scenario A is what would happen if nothing changed. That is was I was basing my claim on.

    In my opinion any calculation of a trend in climate science is an exercise in cherry picking. For example, I assume that you don’t make the argument that longer is better because the 10000 year temperature trend is clearly down. The same is probably true for the 1000 year trend until very recently. This does not mean that short term trends are useless – it just means that anyone using short term trends must place them in the proper context before drawing conclusions. It also means that someone drawing conclusions from a 30 year trend has no business calling someone a cherry picker for using a ten year trend.

    When I said a trend of 0.2 degC/decade I should have mentioned that it would have to be over several decades. Right now the the trend is in the 1.5 degC/dec range over the entire range of the satellite data but the mid troposphere trend is lower at around 0.8 degC/decade (something that directly contradicts GHG theory because the troposphere is supposed to warm faster than the surface).

    I would be convinced that CO2 is the dominant climate effect if the current cooling spell reverses and pulls the 30 year trend line above 0.2 degC/decade over the next 5-10 years. if the trendline stays the same or decreases I would feel that the skeptics view has been validated.

    As far as OHC goes – I have read conflicting reports. Some people feel that OHC has been declining since 2004 which implies there is not as much ‘warming in pipe’ as you might think. The response of the climate after volcanic eruptions tends to support the fast response rate hypothesis.

  119. Loquor says:

    Well, fair enough, Raven. I do not think that your scepticism is that well founded nor warranted by the data you present, but I think that we could argue for hours over conflicting datasets, and I do credit you for being (at least somewhat) open to scientific arguments.

    About Hansen: I do not see how the transcript of his testimony could possibly support your claim that he “makes no mention of Scenario B”? And it appears to me as if he makes it painstakingly explicit what is meant by BAU, as I said, AND that the BAU scenario was on the high side?

    And about the cherry pick thing: As I said, you have to choose SOME point somewhere – the question of cherry picking only arises when you fail to provide justification for your choice. The longer is indeed normally the better, but of course you must make sure that the time series is comparable or meaningful with respect to what you are looking at. Everybody would agree that comparing the Andean Ice Age 450 mio. years ago or the Carboniferous 300 mio. years ago with today would not be meaningful to assess whether the anthropogenic contribution to the co2 rise could influence the climate.

    When you want to find out whether the present warmth is unprecedented in human history, you should try to include all our knowledge on human history. When you want to adress major solar forcing changing over timescales of millenia, you need millenial evidence. When you want to infer anything about human co2, you should use comparisons within the time frames of the last million years or so. Actually, I do not think that anybody denies that the trend is clearly down since the Eemian maximum, so a 10000 year trend is fine with me. It is not the trend that matters in itself, but the explanations associated and what this means for the future.

    When you do not have sufficiently good data for some question, you can only use the best avalibale evidence. When you want to analyse the direct surface measurements, you can only use data since 1850. And when you want to look on the tropospheric data, you can only look upon the data available. If you want to find out how the surface and the tropospheric temperature interact, then you have no choice bu to look at the time series 1979-2008 and then say, well, sorry, but this is all we have. But what reasons for picking one year, which coincidentally is the warmest due to an EL Nino event, as the starting point for a 10 year trend, can you produce other than a willful intent to show that warming has stopped? You complain about any rise being taken as evidence for AGW – I do not think that is really true, but if some AGW scientists took the time series from 1989 to 1998 to claim that a major disaster were underway, then I would call it an equally ill-intended cherry pick and surely you would, too. But how can you then complain about the 1998-2007 being called a improper cherry pick? Your arguments here seem quite inconsistent to me.

  120. Allan MR MacRae says:

    To the moderator:
    The following are examples of unprofessional, reprehensible statements:

    Loqor 3-2-08

    To put it bluntly, his course bears much more resemblance to an overconfident undergraduate student preparing for an exam, who halfway through his textbook starts to wonder about what he has read so far – and then, instead of reading the rest of the book (in which it is revealed that all his questions have been asked and answered decades ago) goes on to claim that he has made a groundbreaking insight that will henceforth shake all scientific inquiry and Civilisation As We Know It. All this writing of Spencers is exactly like that, and there is just none of his claims that have not been done to death countless times before.
    Now Dr. Spencer sure is no amateur nor an overconfident undergraduate, but either he must be amazingly ignorant of some basics he really should know better, he must be capable of an extraordinary level of self-delusion, or hest must be deliberately misleading. He undeniably does have a somewhat dubious record of making frankly absurd scientific claims (both about climate science and about evolution) that noone with his background or skill could possibly not know were dead wrong. I am struggling to believe that Spencer as an atmospheric physicist/meterologist could really be unaware of the enormous body of research that exists on the field.

    Honestly, I am mostly inclined to believe that this is a deliberate intent of blowing smoke from Dr. Spencer, which is disgraceful for anyone, but only more so for a scientist which often make tacit allegations against most of his collegues for the very same thing.

    I find it awfully hard to believe that Spencer could have written this rubbish in good faith, and with his double standards with respect to El Nino/1998 mentioned above in mind, he only reinforces the impression of dishonesty.
    I can forgive him for speaking nonsense about creationism, since he obviously has no clue about evolutionary biology (and you should respect people´s faith), but when he makes statements about his own subject which even I can easily spot are outright lies, then I simply think that Spencer is a disgrace to his profession.

    Loqor 3-2-08

    By any objective standards, there is simply a level of dishonesty in the skeptics camp that really makes it difficult to believe any claims from these people.

    MODERATOR REPLY: I agree these fit the criteria, but these comments were created before I created the policy, and thus I can’t in good faith apply rules to comments written prior to the existence of policy.

  121. Loquor says:

    To Mr. Watts and Mr.McRae,

    of course, you are welcome to disagree with my statements, but I do not see how they are in any way “unprofessional” or “reprehensible” – and looking at them again, I fully stand by my words.

    If I think – as I do – that Dr. Spencer is fully aware about the well-established anthropogenic origin of the co2 rise, and that he thus is deliberately trying to mislead his audience here, then are not the terms “dishonest” or “outright lies” fully appropriate?

    And when Spencer advocates creationism by saying that darwinism is a religion, and that white moths turning into black moths does not prove evolution, then what other precise description than “nonsense” would you fairly suggest for such arguments?

    I understand that those words may sound harsh, but harsh words can indeed be well deserved and in their place. Of course, you should only use them when they apply. In this case, I think that my wording is entirely appropriate.

    You may like what I say or not, and I fully respect whatever feelings you may have. But if you disagree with my wording, then you should try to demonstrate or argue that my accusations are undeserved, unfair or erroneous.

    So far, I have seen nobody here who have wanted to argue these points. In my view, this – once again – speaks to the credit of the educated and knowledgeable audience of this forum…………:)

    REPLY: Loquor, I do appreciate the mostly civil tone you’ve conducted yourself with. I tend to try not to get involved in debating people who don’t use a real name, so thats’ why I don’t engage this ongoing debate. My view is that if your opinion is important enough to espouse as representing the truth as you see it, then you should stand behind it. That is exactly why I use my name on this blog, right at the top, instead of cute pointless names like “Rabett” or “Tamino” or “SOD”. You are welcome to continue your discussion, but I won’t be joining in for that reason. Shadowboxing is never really productive, and the shadow has the advantage since there is no risk to the shadow’s reputation. By the same token, the shadow’s opinion is essentially worthless to science.

    Science has never been advanced by an anonymous person, there was always a real person at the center of discovery. Spencer may say things that you disagree with, and some may even seem foolish, but he has the courage to put his name to it at least. – Anthony Watts

  122. Allan MR MacRae says:

    Is the ability to predict important to science? is successful prediction one measure of the validity of a theory, or the lack thereof?

    There is an interesting drop in global temperatures ST (Hadcrut3) and LT (UAH) over the past year or so. Both ST and LT anomalies are now near-zero.

    The IPCC model projections utterly failed to predict any such cooling, based on their assumption that CO2 primarily drives temperature.

    Such cooling is not unusual, and occurs every few years. What is different this time is that ST has dropped as much as LT – about 0.6 C. All the warming since ~1980 has been temporarily eliminated.

    Based on the correlation of Global ST. LT and dCO2/dt it should be possible to (reasonably accurately) predict dCO2/dt and CO2 for the next few months. Most of the data (except Dec07 and Jan08) and data sources are at: http://icecap.us/images/uploads/CO2vsTMacRaeFig5b.xls

    Regards, Allan

  123. Allan MR MacRae says:

    Loquor,

    Roy Spencer is an honorable person. He became interested in this specific subject as a result of emails I sent to him and others, starting on December 31, 2007. It is that simple – there is no sinister motive.

    Your above comments about Roy are highly unprofessional. Your libelous statements are typical of attempts to silence debate on the science of global warming. The mantra “the science is settled” is the BIG LIE of our time.

    Like Anthony, I publish only under my real name. What is your real name?

    Allan M.R. MacRae

  124. Allan MR MacRae says:

    An excellent paper by Roy Spencer is published here:

    http://www.weatherquestions.com/Roy-Spencer-on-global-warming.htm

    REgards, Allan

  125. Allan MR MacRae says:

    RE my first March 2/08 post:

    Here is my guess of average atmospheric CO2 readings for the next 6-8 months. Note that Global CO2 data is now available to end December 2007, and Mauna Loa data is available to end February 2008. There is room for improvement – starting from raw data, this work took ~1 to 2 hours:

    Prediction of Atmospheric CO2 (ppm)
    Year Mo Global M.Loa
    2008 1 385.1 385.4
    2008 2 385.2 385.8
    2008 3 385.5 386.3
    2008 4 385.7 388.1
    2008 5 385.5 388.1
    2008 6 384.5 387.5
    2008 7 382.7 385.8
    2008 8 381.4 383.2

    Best regards, Allan

  126. Dear Allan,

    Herewith my detailed forecast on CO2 levels in the atmosphere (both global and Mauna Loa) for the monthly averages in 2008:

    Year Mo Glob MLO
    2008 1 384.2 385.4
    2008 2 384.8 385.8
    2008 3 385.4 386.2
    2008 4 385.8 388.1
    2008 5 385.7 388.3
    2008 6 384.6 387.6
    2008 7 382.9 385.9
    2008 8 381.8 383.6
    2008 9 382.2 382.5
    2008 10 383.7 383.1
    2008 11 385.4 384.5
    2008 12 386.6 386.2

    That is for the case that the temperatures remain lower than average as seen in January this year. Not much difference with your predicition.

    If the temperatures go back to the previous years’ average e.g. from June on, we have these series:

    Year Mo Glob MLO
    2008 1 384.2 385.4
    2008 2 384.8 385.8
    2008 3 385.4 386.2
    2008 4 385.8 388.1
    2008 5 385.7 388.3
    2008 6 385.3 388.3
    2008 7 383.6 386.6
    2008 8 382.5 384.3
    2008 9 382.9 383.2
    2008 10 384.4 383.8
    2008 11 386.1 385.2
    2008 12 387.3 386.9

    Formula: 2008.month = 2007.month + 2.2 ppmv (from 8.6 Gt emissions in 2008) + 3 ppmv * dT (2008.month – 2007.month).

    Regards,

    Ferdinand

  127. Pingback: Anidride Carbonica e dintorni | Climate Monitor

  128. ranyl says:

    The upper surface ocean holds d13 at ~+1, Atmosphere ~-7% due to the mixing of CO2 from plants which has been fractionated.

    So if increase due to offgasing from surface oceans would ^ ratio and will have as the temperature increases?

    Whereas the ratio has gone more negative so must be vegation source ancient or recent.

    Probably both and it is countering the oceans positive effect and man’s CO2 is going somewhere and only 40% into atmosphere.

    The rise is from man lets get over this.

  129. Louis Hissink says:

    Anthony

    There is some C12/13 empirical data that might be of interest to Roy Spencer.

    http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=13839192

    Maybe if Roy contacted me direct…

  130. Bob Wallbridge says:

    Just a small point: C12/C13 ratios in coal and petroleum are different because coal is the fossilised remains of the total plant whereas petroleum is the fossilised remains of the plant lipids (oils) and these lipids contain lower amounts of C13 than the rest of the plant.
    We began burning petroleum in large quantities around 1960, so since then I would expect to see very small differences accumulating in the general C12/C13 ratio of air.

  131. Vincent Gray says:

    Dear Roy

    You are missing the main point, shown by the average graph at
    http://cdiac.ornl.gov/trends/co2/iso-sio/graphics/isomlogr.jpg, and also if you look at it closely, by your own graph
    The C13 ratio stays constant over most of the Mauna Loa record and falls suddenly whenever there is an El Niño event. There is no correpondence with the smooth, regular increase shown by the measured CO2 concentration.

    The only explanation is that the emissions, which come only from a restricted region of industrial activity, take time to mix sufficiently to reach the oceans where the measurements are made, so that initially they displaces gas which has already been mixed; with the same constant C13 ratio. It is only when there is more rapid mixing because of the El Niño that the emitted CO2 gets to the ocean measurement equipment, and thus causes a sudden drop in C13 ratio, followed by another flat period at a lowere level.

    This means that CO2 ia NOT “well-mixed” in the atmosphere; that concentrations near idustrial areas regularly have higher figures than those foubd over the ocean, and that the figures documented by Beck are genuine.

    It also means that greenhouse models based on behaviour over the oceans are not appropriate for land surfaces, which have different CO2 concentrations. It is amazing to me that nobody seems to want to actually measure them.

  132. Vincent Gray says:

    First, let us see some references about the C13 ratio of different plants and different fossil fuels. Are the averages for each really all that different?

    Second, why is the progress downwards of the C13 ratio intermittent? This suggests that at least one source is being mixed in more slowly than another. The most likely candidate for slow mixing is the fossil fuel emission which occurs only over a limied latitude region. The “natural” seasonal change is more widespread, but that also happens quicker near to the land-based sources.

    Third, what does Roy thinks happens to the emissions? Do they suddenly get “sunk” somewhere before they get to Mauna Loa?

    Fourth, Allen Mcrae suggest that you cannot believe in the simultaneous influence of natutal and anthropogenic sources. If this is so it is the IPCC in reverse. They believe that ALL changes are anthropogenic. Can you really believe that ALL changes are natural?

    Fifth. Where does the CO2 increase actually come from and why does it go up in a linear fashion whether the temperature goes up or down. It cannot be related to temperature. What is it related to?

  133. blue says:

    Mr. Watts,

    I have tried twice to post a reply here, only to come to a page with the word “discarded”.

    blue

    REPLY:
    I have no idea why that would happen. This one obviously got through. I don’t manage the server, WordPress.com does. It could be any number of things, but given that I have no other similar complaints in the 65,000+ comments poste dhere, I’ll have to assume it is something local to your connection or computer. Often routing does strange things. If you have a DSL or other type modem for your connection, try resetting it. – Anthony

  134. blue says:

    Dear Dr. Spencer,

    your conclusion

    BOTTOM LINE: If the C13/C12 relationship during NATURAL inter-annual variability is the same as that found for the trends, how can people claim that the trend signal is MANMADE??

    is fundamentally flawed. The equality of the two slopes, that you base your conclusion on, is a mathematical necessity and not a characteristic of the data; it holds true for any two randomly selected data sets.

    This fact has been brought to my attention
    by a post by Tamino

    To illustrate the point made by Tamino, I have taken the liberty to replicate your analysis with two other data sets:
    Dow Jones Index, 1990-1999 (1990=100)
    Gold price in USD, 1970-1979

    The plots can be found here:
    Raw data
    “Trend”
    “Interannual”
    Derivatives were calculated as the difference to the preceding month, multiplied by 12 to give annual rates.

    As expected, the slopes of the “Trend Signal” and the “Interannual Signal” are identical.

    Upon request, I will e-mail Mr. Watts the excel spreadsheet. However, this behavior can be shown with any pair of time series.

    Please look into this subject.

    The original post is already a year old, so few readers are going to notice this comment on their own. I would recommend to post a heads-up as prominently as the original post, so that none of the blog’s readers relies on this faulty line of reasoning.

    blue

  135. blue says:

    Found the problem. The original comment contained some URLs, which I by now have encapsulated in HTML anchor tags.

  136. Steven Talbot says:

    Hi blue,

    It’s taken me a while to find this thread again, even though you posted here only today. There doesn’t seem to be much interest on this board in the explication of a fundamental error in Dr Spencer’s analysis. That’s curious, don’t you think?

    ~snip~ I wonder whether or not Anthony Watts will think it to be something of enough interest to return to? It does seem to me that if a scientist who has been very expressive here has made such a mistake then it should be of interest – but perhaps I am not understanding what determines the ‘interest’ of this blog?

  137. Peter Hearnden says:

    Yes, I also think this is worth re visiting, I’d like to see Dr Spencer address the critique.

  138. wattsupwiththat says:

    I’ll let Dr. Spencer know, Mr. “Talbot”. Any chance that you would consider your own integrity important enough (while you question mine) to stop using a fabricated name? – Anthony Watts

  139. Steven Talbot says:

    I’ll let Dr. Spencer know, Mr. “Talbot”. Any chance that you would consider your own integrity important enough (while you question mine) to stop using a fabricated name? – Anthony Watts

    Hmm – is ‘Steven Goddard’, for example, a genuine name? My name is not fabricated, though it is not a simple statement of my first and last name. I did mistakenly use a different (entirely genuine) first name for a few posts when I was posting from another computer, which you seem to have picked up on.

    I don’t think the truth of this matter depends upon my posting name. It is entirely obvious that very many post here under posting names which are not their ‘legal’ names. You do not seem to challenge those others. However, if you think I should use my legal first and last names, then say so, and I will.

    Meanwhile I look forward to Dr Spencer’s response to this matter.

    REPLY: AFAIK Steven Goddard is a true name. You obviously haven’t looked deep enough to see where I have challenged others here on the same issue. My question is simple. Why do you have one name for posting, yet your email linked to the same posting (here, this one, not previously) uses an entirely different name? When people challenge my integrity, and the integrity of Dr. Spencer, but have a need to use two different names, it does not help that person’s credibility here. Explanation please. – Anthony Watts

  140. Deech56 says:

    Dr. Spencer seemed to have a different conclusion on his own blog.

    REPLY: That post on his blog was written AFTER this one, and after he the benefit of a trip to Mauna Loa. – Anthony

  141. Simon Evans says:

    My question is simple. Why do you have one name for posting, yet your email linked to the same posting (here, this one, not previously) uses an entirely different name?

    An explanation of that is irrelevant in this context (irrelevant in the sense that I have no professional connection with the suibject of this debate) but, as you can see, I will now post under my legal name as challenged. My previous posting names were, in fact, entirely genuine names of mine.

    Can I anticipate that you will make the same challenge to ‘Smokey’, Jeff ID’, ‘oldconstructionworker’;, etc.? Or is this only a challenge you make to those who take views contrary to yours?

    REPLY: Thank you for coming clean as to who you are. But I am puzzled by this:

    “My previous posting names were, in fact, entirely genuine names of mine.”

    How many “genuine” names is a person allowed? To my knowledge, the only “genuine” name is the one that exists on the birth certificate, or certificate of a court approved name change later in life. Your statement is rubbish of the most exceptional sorts.

    I challenge those who question my integrity, while at the same time not having enough integrity themselves to use their own name, as you have demonstrated. Steve Talbot now becomes Simon Evans. None of those people you mention above has challenged my integrity, nor Dr. Spencer’s. Further, none of them has changed names or handles as you have. I know who they are. While you may not consider this detail of knowing whom you are dealing with important, I do. Science is not done anonymously. Integrity and anonymity are not compatible bedfellows. If you want to question the word of an established scientist, I think it is only fair that you use your own name. Otherwise, why would he bother to respond? If you do not like how I operate this venue, please choose another.

    As I mentioned, I’ll pass your request onto Dr. Spencer. It is up to him if he chooses to respond. – Anthony Watts

  142. Simon Evans says:

    How many “genuine” names is a person allowed? To my knowledge, the only “genuine” name is the one that exists on the birth certificate, or certificate of a court approved name change later in life. Your statement is rubbish of the most exceptional caliber.

    The names ‘Steven Talbot’ are on my birth certificate. Can you please explain further what your issue is with that?

    If you want to question the word of an established scientist, I think it is only fair that you use your own name.

    Very well, I have done so, unlike the great majority of the people who post here. Do you have a further issue with this or are you now satisfied?

    I stand by what I have said, under any combination of my genuine names. I would have the integrity to answer to it, including any acceptance of having been in error. You can have my word on that, though that may not be of much substance to you.

    Of coyrse it is up to Dr Spencer whether he chooses to respond. I look forward to the outcome of that with interest,

  143. wattsupwiththat says:

    Also, taking Simon’s example, maybe “Tamino” will take a cue and put his name forward. I’d have a lot more respect for him if he did so. I find the whole “attack others from a comfortable veil of anonymity” to be cowardly and mostly counterproductive. – Anthony Watts

  144. Simon Evans says:

    Anthony,

    You state above that “AFAIK Steven Goddard is a true name.” I accept without question that, AFAYK, that is the case. However, I do not know that it is the case, and I do not know that you know it either.

    There can be reasons not to post under one’s legal name which are entirely unrelated to the debate in question. For example, imagine a teacher. let’s say, whose name might be googled by students. I will post under my legal name in future, but I continue to wonder why your challenges are directed only against those with whom you disagree.

    Of course, what would be of much more interest is further discussion of the issue in question, in respect of this thread.

    REPLY: I think it premature to assume that I disagree with you on this issue. If Dr. Spencer agrees to post a followup, we may very well find ourselves in agreement. Remember, this post is a year old. And what you don’t know is all of the previous issues like this I’ve dealt with. Some people who regularly frequent here have decided that using their real name is a good thing (after I made a post on the issue that covered everyone) and do so now when they post here. Some people whom have made repeated attempts to change identities for the purpose of covertly causing discord have been banned. I just don’t have time nor patience for those sorts of shenanigans. I do feel it is important to be open and honest in this debate, using real names is a courtesy of the most basic kind in civil debate, especially when one person challenges another on their work. – Anthony

  145. Smokey says:

    blue:

    Dr. Spencer refutes Tamino: click. Old thread, but interesting.

    Also [since I'm mentioned above], let me point out two things:

    First, I am certainly not immune from Anthony’s criticism. When he sees something wrong he lets people know, no matter who they are.

    Second, a big problem [as I see it] is someone posting under multiple names. That is deceptive. I do all my posts under the name I use here [I won't go into the reason for the name I use, but I've explained it privately]. I don’t post comments under various names. I don’t argue with myself under various assumed names, and I don’t use other names to make it appear that my position is shared by others.

    I can’t speak for Anthony, but from my point of view, using multiple names for posting comments seems devious.

    And for the record, Anthony has had my full [real] name, address and telephone number for a long time now. Those with fake and alternate names could avoid some of the criticism by providing the same information. What have you got to hide?

  146. blue says:

    I find it interesting, that none of the comments so far looks into the simple math I have shown. Anyone who knows how to use a spreadsheet program can easily replicate the results with any two randomly picked time series.

    @Smokey: Dr. Spencer may or may not “refute Tamino”, but that post you link to does not address the line of reasoning expressed in this post here. Here Dr. Spencer posited, that the equality of the two slopes is strong evidence, that the rise in atmospheric CO2 concentrations is not man made. Tamino has shown – and I have demonstrated it here – that the equality of the two slopes is not, repeat not, a characteristic of the data sets. So this single argument of Dr. Spencer fails. Nothing more, nothing less.

    To all: I simply do value my anonymity. I have chosen ONE alias – and made it obvious it is an alias – to use on this site and Tamino’s, Rabett’s, RC, you name it. If it was “blue”, it was me. I have done and will do all my posts under that moniker. I have been polite, made no accusations, refrained from second guessing motives of others and have not misbehaved in any way I am aware of. I let facts speak for themselves, anything I have commented on was verifiable with minimum effort. I’m not connected to the field of climate research, so I simply fail to see, how attaching my real life name adds anything to my argument. I don’t have anything to hide, but my name does not add anything to this debate.

    I motion to drop this side track on identity and come back to the math.

    P.S.: Mr. Watts, I had not realized how important it is to you, to know the real life name of posters. I still value my anonymity online, but I don’t have a problem with revealing my name to you, as long as you keep my personal informations confidential. If you want to know my name, drop me an e-mail, you’ve got my address from my posts.

  147. Smokey says:

    I motion to drop this side track on identity and come back to the math.

    Motion fails for lack of a second. See, the site owner has a legitimate concern with posters who disparage him, his site, and those who voluntarily contribute articles. Using multiple aliases to make it appear that their position has more support than it does, and to question the site owner’s integrity, and to attack other posters from the safe vantage point of a fake, untraceable and anonymous name are legitimate concerns.

    We are in the site owner’s house, and common courtesy dictates that we conform to his wishes. There are literally millions of other blogs out there, where people can say and do just about anything they want. The winner of this year’s best legal blog has numerous posters who routinely brag about all the different aliases they use. But they’re lawyers, so I expect some of them to be manipulators.

    Maybe the other finalists would have done better if they didn’t tolerate name calling, and if they didn’t arbitrarily censor comments they didn’t agree with, and if they didn’t act like juveniles by removing all the vowels from posts that disagree with the AGW party line. Most people are turned off by that kind of intolerance.

    It doesn’t seem to me that you fall under any of these categories. I can only speak for myself, but it doesn’t appear that comments about multiple posting names were being addressed to you.

    One of the best features of this site is the honesty and courtesy of the commenters. IMHO, that went a long way toward making WUWT the winner of Best Science blog. Maybe the other finalists would have done better if they didn’t tolerate name calling, and if they didn’t arbitrarily censor comments they didn’t agree with, and if they didn’t act like juveniles by removing all the vowels from posts that disagreed with the AGW party line. Most people are turned off by that kind of intolerance. Note that last year’s best science blog winner also demands courtesy, and welcomes different points of view, rather than censoring them.

    My apologies for rambling a little, but it’s 3 a.m. here and insomnia strikes again. Anyway, probably less than a half dozen people will see this year-old thread, so like you I’m just venting a little. I think if other posters were as polite as you, there wouldn’t be a problem. But some folks take advantage of the internet’s anonymity to say things they wouldn’t otherwise say if their identities were known.

  148. blue says:

    Smokey:
    “I can only speak for myself, but it doesn’t appear that comments about multiple posting names were being addressed to you.”
    Point taken. When I read your post at (16:41:10 2008/01/20), I was under the impression that all of it was addressed to me.

  149. Simon Evans says:

    …”a big problem [as I see it] is someone posting under multiple names. That is deceptive.”

    FWIW, I entirely agree. As I explained above, for a few posts I mistakenly mangled my posting names on a computer that was not mine. I am now posting under my legal name, since Mr Watts has effectively challenged me to do so. You are not, which is fine by me.

    As for your remarks about disparaging comments, I refer you to the frequency of comments on this site insinuating that Hansen, Mann, etc. are fraudsters. I have not noted you calling anyone to account over that. Such comments are not just disparaging, of course, they are libelous. Anthony Watts has snipped a comment of mine above since he thought it questioned Dr Spencer’s integrity. I don’t think it did, but I can hardly quote myself to make that point. Let me put it another way, now that Anthony Watts has informed Dr Spencer of this matter raised here I look forward to Dr Spencer’s commenting on it.

    As for what makes a good or bad science blog, I would suggest that a determination to examine the science would be a part of it. So, let’s examine the science here. The problem with Dr Spencer’s analysis seems clear. I hope he will comment, but in advance of that, do you have anything to say about the science?

  150. Simon Evans says:

    Anthony,

    Thank you for your response to 16:02:46 above. In respect of this, I entirely agree with you:

    Some people whom have made repeated attempts to change identities for the purpose of covertly causing discord have been banned.

    I wholly agree that we must take personal responsibility for what we say on the internet.

  151. Smokey says:

    Mr. Talbot-Evans said:

    …I refer you to the frequency of comments on this site insinuating that Hansen, Mann, etc. are fraudsters. I have not noted you calling anyone to account over that. Such comments are not just disparaging, of course, they are libelous.

    As the lawyers say, “Truth is a defense.”

    IMHO, Hansen is either engaging in fraud, or he is incompetent. I also believe that the reason he avoids taking legal action against any of the many other people here and elsewhere who have said the same thing is because of the discovery process, in which his house of cards would come crashing down in a very public way. Even the New York Times would be forced to cover the story, if Hansen decided to sue his detractors.

    In a legal deposition Hansen would be forced to answer questions under oath; questions that he has gone to great lengths to avoid, even calling those who disagree with him “court jesters,” as he scurried away from any debate.

    Many of his associates would also be deposed, and a martinet like Hansen has surely stepped on a lot of toes. The truth would emerge, and the truth would not be favorable to James Hanson or NASA, or the UN/IPCC, or the new U.S. President.

    Also, it seems to me there is a difference between someone who guest posts on this site, and a public figure who rejects any opportunity to do the same, but only takes pot shots from the sidelines. Questioning someone’s integrity who writes a guest column is a different situation than questioning the ethics of a public figure. And as I recall, you had some choice words for Viscount Monckton, whose posts have appeared here.

    Finally, you asked if I have “anything to say about the science.” Um, Steven, or Simon, or whatever your current appellation is, I invite you to comb through the threads here and re-read the numerous comments I’ve made regarding the subject of the Best Science site. I should point out that I only responded when you gratuitously mentioned my name here, in an effort to deflect from questions about your use of multiple names. Where’s the ‘science’ in your comment above?

    When I first became aware of the issue of screen names here, I emailed the site owner and explained the reason I would like to use the name I’ve been using. We discussed different possibilities, and at that time I provided full and complete personal information [my true name, address, and phone number], and a summary of my temperature/humidity related work experience with my employer of 30 years prior to my retirement.

    Maybe if you had been similarly forthcomingr, instead of game playing with multiple screen names, you wouldn’t have been called to account. But your explanations coming after the fact look lame.

    blue,

    Thanks for re-reading my post. As you can see, it wasn’t directed at you, since you don’t use multiple names.

    OK folks, anyone can have the last word, this subject is exhausted for me. I’m moving on to see how La Niña is doing.

    Cheers.

  152. Simon Evans says:

    Smokey,

    I note with amazement how little time it has taken for you to expose the paucity of your comments on the ‘courtesy’ of this site. I am now posting under my legal name in response to Anthony Watts’ preference, yet you seek to sneer at me for doing so. I have not engaged in “game playing with multiple screen names”. that is a totally false and scurrilous accusation, and I will judge your comments on Hansen in the light of that. You express the opinion of someone who promulgates falsehoods about others.

    I note that you continue to have nothing to say about the science in question. Your modus operandi seems to consist entirely of seeking to smear, regardless of the truth.

    Anthony Watts,

    If you happen to read this, I seek your advice. You can check the history of my posting here and know that my account of it is true. I have changed to posting under my legal name, in response to your comments, but the outcome of that is that I am now subject to scurrilous insinuations from one of your regular posters. If that’s the way things work on this site then I can learn that lesson and spend my time better in other ways. At the moment, I am feeling that it was a mistake to respond to your suggestion, since it seems to allow ‘Smokey’ to promulgate false character attacks. The entire approach here is to substitute discussion of the science with ad hominem attacks as a diversion. I would hope that you would not wish that to be the character of your discussion threads.

    REPLY: I suggest that BOTH of you just move on to other topics. I don’t have time to be a referee in personal disputes between people at odds on this blog. – Anthony

  153. wattsupwiththat says:

    Dr. Spencer has chosen to respond on his own blog. I suspect he will continue to do so since when this post on WUWT was made, he did not have his own website for this purpose, and I gladly lent him mine in this instance.

    See:

    Increasing Atmospheric CO2: Manmade…or Natural?
    January 21st, 2009 by Roy W. Spencer, Ph. D.
    http://www.drroyspencer.com/

  154. Simon Evans says:

    Dr. Spencer has chosen to respond on his own blog.

    Except, of course, he doesn’t respond.

    REPLY: The man responded with a new post within 24 hours. Next day service does not impress you? That seems petty. – Anthony

  155. Simon Evans says:

    He doesn’t respond to the issue that has been raised. No, writing a new post and not responding directly to the issue does not impress me. I refer you to topics posted here by you which laud the good practice of scientists facing up directly to criticism and either resolving it or else admitting to mistake. That would impress me, as it seemed to impress you.

    REPLY: Well as I mentioned yesterday, when challenged by a phantom, such as Tamino, who criticizes from the safety behind a veil of anonymity, he could choose not to respond at all. I think his response today, ignoring such anonymity, speaks to the issue well. Besides, he says that if anyone can find anything wrong with it, email him and he’ll post a correction. Seems like a response to me.

    I note Dr. James Hansen does not respond even to named people doing quality work out in the open, such as Steve McIntyre, who makes all his source code and methods public, and has the courage to put his name to his work. Neither does Dr. Michael Mann respond to McIntyre. Why is that? I note you are not complaining about their lack of responses to valid issues on replication, data quality, and errors. In light of that, I’ll repeat my assertion that your complaint about the way Dr. Spencer responded within 24 hours seems rather petty.

    Dr. Spencer has a standing offer of correction, which is far more than Hansen or Mann has ever done. I suggest you take him up on it, and if you find an error with Dr. Spencer’s essay, challenge him on it!

    I’ll even offer to forward your email if you can’t find it on his website. – Anthony

  156. Simon Evans says:

    I note Dr. James Hansen does not respond even to named people doing quality work out in the open, such as Steve McIntyre, who makes all his source code and methods public, and has the courage to put his name to his work. Neither does Dr. Michael Mann respond to McIntyre. Why is that?

    It’s simple – Hansen and Mann are not posting on your blog. If they were to, then it would be reasonable to expect them to respond. I would not expect Spencer to respond to comments had he not posted here in a public forum. If he doesn’t wish to respond then that is, of course, up to him, but it remains true that he has posted publicly inviting discussion and has not responded to this.

    I’m quite likely to email Dr Spencer, so thanks for the offer, but I’ll cover that. I would have raised with him some other errors that used to be on his site (for example, the mislabelling of graphs on the ‘Temperature of the last 2,000 years page’), but he appears to have updated that.

    I’m not aware of Hansen or Mann generally speculating on blogs about hypotheses untested in the scientific literature. It seems to me that Spencer is keen to do this. Given that appears to be his chosen medium, it does not seem unreasonable to me to look for a ‘review process’ in the same context. Nobody is going to publish a paper in Nature refuting something Dr Spencer has said on a blog. Either it’s addressed in a context such as this or it is not addressed at all. Equivalently, scientists are free to publish any criticisms of Hansen’s or Mann’s work in the context where they have invited dialogue.

    REPLY: Ah, but Mann has posted on RC, and Steve McIntyre has made challenges there that have gone unanswered. Hansen has posted on his personal webpage, and Steve M. has made challenges to claims there, also unanswered. These two scientists can’t even bring themselves to say McIntyre’s name when asked by members of the public in Q&A forums and interviews. Mann is so stubborn on this issue, that he can’t even bring himself to fix obviously wrong latitude-longitude data on locations in his own SI that McIntyre has pointed out. Please don’t try to raise the defense that they are unaware of the work McIntyre has done, or that it somehow doesn’t matter because it is not published, because if they are truly good scientists, and an error is pointed out, they should respond to it. Mann’s case is particularly bad, because the error is so simple, so elementary, and has gone on since MBH 98 that it has become the running joke of the climate forums.

    I remain unimpressed with your complaint, Spencer responded within 24 hours, in the same type of medium as the challenge was made. If “Tamino” was not a phantom, and did not sprinkle his challenge with snark, I could well imagine Dr. Spencer may have made a direct reference. IMHO such bad behavior should not be rewarded with official recognition. As I said before, basic courtesy applies. For you to claim that Spencer’s choice of medium for the response is unsatisfactory because it isn’t a peer review process is totally bollocks.

    Besides, there is much to be gained from posting an essay on a blog, the wide variety of disciplines of the people reading it, and the level of scrutiny is often higher and most certainly faster than some journal peer reviews, which can take months. Blog publishing provides a good way to get fast feedback, spot problems, and correct them early on before such work would be sent to a journal. – Anthony

  157. Joel Shore says:

    Anthony,

    I would hardly call Spencer’s new posting a “response”. He is simply throwing out a new argument without either acknowledging the old argument that he made nor any critique of it. And, frankly, I don’t think this new argument is going to stand up to scrutiny much better than the old one did! [Does he seriously believe that each 1 deg change in temperature will result in a change in the rate of CO2 increase or decrease by 1.7 ppm/yr?!? If that were the case, the paleoclimate record would show these gargantuan changes in CO2 as temperatures moved around!]

    And, you seem to be excusing Spencer’s behavior by arguing that the scientists like Hansen and Mann and so forth who have been vilified by the skeptic community don’t behave well either. However, even if that were really the case, does it excuse Spencer not trying to set a much better example by coming clean on whether his previous argument was incorrect or not?

    REPLY: “Excusing Spencer’s behavior?” You’ve gone off the rails on that comment. If you have problems with “Spencer’s behavior”, take it up with him. Use his email as he offered. I have better things to do than moderate complaints over “how” Dr. Spencer responded. He responded, you just don’t like the response. Thread closed, I’m done with this argument. – Anthony

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