Anthropogenic Decline in Natural Gas

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

Well, Nature Geoscience is on a roll. Their latest “scientific study” makes an old claim in a new way. After ascribing the temperature changes in Lake Tanganyika to human actions, in a new paper they are now ascribing the changes in the climate 12,000 years ago to the actions of humans in changing the methane levels …

Figure 1. The real reason for the ending of the Ice Age

No, that’s not from the Nature Geoscience article. We’ll get to that, but first , a short cruise through the historical methane data.

As usual, the NOAA Paleoclimatology site has the goods.  The data shows an interesting thing. This is that, like CO2, the amount of methane in the air is a function of the temperature. Figure 2 shows the relationship.

Figure 2. Relationship between temperature and methane, Vostok ice core data, last half million years. Image Source

As you can see, temperature and methane are tightly coupled. The relationship is that when temperature raises by 1°C, the methane concentration in the atmosphere goes up by about 24 parts per billion by volume (ppbv). The reasons for this are not entirely clear, but the methane mostly comes from natural fermentation in wetlands. And as anyone knows who has made the prison liquor called “swipe” from potato peelings in a mason jar, fermentation increases with temperature … or that’s what I’ve read, at any rate, I wouldn’t know about that myself …

So what did the Nature Geosciences article say about methane? It is entitled “Methane emissions from extinct megafauna”, by Smith et al. (hereinafter S2010). You have to pay them $18 to have the privilege of reading it. My advice is, don’t waste your money.

Their claim is that the drop in temperature about 12,000 years ago known as the “Younger Dryas” is due in part to the loss of methane from the eeeevil humans killing off the large animals of North America. This reduced the amount of methane from the … well, let me call it “spontaneous release of large parcels of intestinal gases” of the extinct “megafauna”, the ground sloths and mastodons and wooly mammoths and the like. Here’s their graphic of the event:

Figure 3. Graphic from the S2010 paper.

Note how they clearly show that humans come to North America, and very quickly the methane concentration dropped. (As an aside, don’t they know that Jim Hansen said that American temperatures are meaningless because America is only a few percent of the planet’s surface area? Also, note that they claim that species loss could be responsible for “12.5 to 100%” of the methane decline. Now that’s what I call a robust confidence interval, a variation of eight to one. But I digress …)

I showed above that methane concentration is driven by temperature changes, and has been for a half-billion years. However, they say that this particular event is unique. Why? Not because suddenly the temperature/methane relationship broke down. After all, the methane concentration during the Younger Dryas event is totally predictable from the temperature, just like the during the rest of the half billion years.

Figure 4. Methane levels in the Younger Dryas, featuring the usual flatulent suspects. Methane data from NOAA, showing Greenland ice core methane levels. Note that the temperature changes correlate very well with the changes in methane. Temperature changes inferred from d18O levels. Difference in dating from Figure 3 is because this chart shows years BC.

So why blame megafaunal methane for the drop? Well, because the methane levels drop so fast. I kid you not. In their words:

Moreover, the changes in methane concentration at this time seem to be unique. A comparison with the five largest drops over the past 500,000 years shows that the Younger Dryas transition was characterized by a methane decrease that was two to four times more rapid than any other time interval (Supplementary Table  T3, P  < 0.01 to P  < 0.001), which suggests that novel mechanisms may be  responsible.

Now, they ignore the fact that among the historical drops in methane levels, one has to be the largest, so finding the largest one means nothing. And they ignore the well-known and aptly named “Noah Effect”, whereby the largest of a group of natural phenomena is often much, much larger than the second largest of the same phenomena. These together are more than enough to explain the rapidity of the methane drop at the start of the Younger Dryas.

Instead, following the Rahm Emanuael dictum, “Never let a serious crisis go to waste”, they have blamed the precipitous drop in methane at the start of the Younger Dryas on human meddling with the biosphere. We killed the mammoths, their argument goes, which stopped them from cutting loose with … large spontaneous emissions of biomethane … and that made the atmospheric methane levels plunge off of the proverbial cliff. QED.

Now, I suppose that their claim is theoretically possible, and they do a lot of plain and fancy tap dancing to show that it is so, but I’m just a cowboy, so that gives me the right to ask the dumb questions:

1. If missing mammoth methane was the cause of the extremely rapid drop in methane … then what was the cause of the following extremely rapid rise in methane? I mean, the megafauna didn’t suddenly become un-extinct and start passing gas again. So why did the methane suddenly rise again?

For this one, I have no answer other than the obvious one … both the drop and the rise in methane were caused by a drop and rise in temperature. The authors of S2010, however, show no interest in this important question … if the cause of the rapid drop in methane during the Younger Dryas is not temperature but a deficiency in ground sloth gas, then what is the cause of the rapid rise in methane?

2. Is the change in methane forcing significant enough to create such a large temperature change? The S2010 paper says:

Ice-core records from Greenland suggest that the methane concentration change associated with a 1  °C temperature shift ranges from 10 to 30  ppbv, with a long-term mean of about 20  ppbv (ref. 13).Thus, empirically, the 185 to 245  ppbv methane drop observed at the Younger Dryas stadial is associated with a temperature shift of 9 to 12  °C. The attribution and magnitude of the Younger Dryas temperature shift, however, remain unclear. Nevertheless, our calculations suggest that decreased methane emissions caused by the extinction of the New World megafauna could have played a role in the Younger Dryas cooling  event.

Well, yeah … but the IPCC says that methane forcing varies linearly with  concentration. It also says that a change in methane of 100 parts per billion by volume (ppbv) leads to a change in forcing of 0.05 Watts per square metre (W/m2). Given the methane change in the Younger Dryas of ~200 ppbv, this would result in a methane forcing change of a tenth of a watt per square metre (0.1 W/m2).

Now, the IPCC says that a forcing change of 3.7 W/m2 (from a doubling of CO2) would lead to a temperature change of 3°C. I think this is way too large, but we’ll let that be and use their figure. This means that the Younger Dryas change in methane forcing of 0.1 W/m2 would lead to a temperature change of 0.08°C …

Eight hundredths of a degree? These people are hyperventilating over eight hundredths of a degree? I spent eighteen buck to read their !@#$%^ paper for eight hundredths of a degree? That trivial change in forcing is supposed to have “played a role in the Younger Dryas cooling  event”?I weep for the death of science.

(And since you ask, yes, I do marvel that I was able to get through this without once saying the dreaded phrase “mammoth far…” … hey, wait a minute, whoa, that was close, you almost got me there …)

[UPDATE] There’s another oddity I just noticed about the paper. They use the following formula to calculate the methane emissions:

(4) DMIe = BMe^0.75 *[ (0.0119*NEma^2 + 0.1938)/NEma] where BMe = body mass in kg, and NEma = estimated dietary net energy concentration of diet in MJ/kg

Now, one of the rules of math that was endlessly drummed into our heads by my high schoo chemistry teacher (thank you, Mrs. Henniger) was that the units follow the same rules as the numbers. For example, here’s the formula relating distance (S), acceleration (A) and time (T)

S = 1/2 A * T^2

With S in metres, A in metres/second^2 and T in seconds, this is

metres = metres/second^2 * second^2

or

metres = metres

So far, so good. Now let’s look at the units in their formula:

kg = kg^0.75 * [ (MJ/kg)^2 / (MJ/kg) + 1/(MJ/kg) ]

Simplifying, we get

kg = kg^0.75 * [ (MJ/kg) + 1/(MJ/kg) ]

kg = kg^-0.25 *MJ + kg^1.75 /MJ

Well, that’s certainly a fascinating combination of units, but it is definitely not kilograms as advertised.

So I looked to see where they got the formula … and as I should have guessed, it is from the IPCC

Mrs. Henniger would not approve, she used to wield her red pencil like Thor’s own hammer on this kind of nonsense.

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175 thoughts on “Anthropogenic Decline in Natural Gas

  1. Willis

    Small comment, it is Younger Dryas in the text, not “Little” as was written.

    Otherwise great article!

  2. Another point worth raising, it the mamoths would eat plants for food, this would then break down in the digestive system and result in the release of methane, but the food they ate would have been a sink of co2. Methane is more potent then co2, but doesnt it change to co2 in the atmosphere within a short period of time from release? What they are talking about is the “contemporary carbon cycle”. No one was digging up historic co2 / methane locked deep underground and putting it in the atmosphere, what the mamoths are releasing comes from their food and their food absorbs it from the atmosphere. Its as stupid as the cow farts cause warming myth Greenpeace constantly talk up so we all go vege for them.

  3. The Clovis were also part of that extinction event. I doubt they turned on themselves while they had so much megafauna to abuse.

    And Nature printed this? Yet another peer reviewed piece that will now be cited over and over as accepted truth. Gag.

  4. The methane emissions could have started to rise again because of the increase in populations of domesticated sheep, pigs, and cows.

    I don’t know exactly when that happened, but it should be around the right sort of time frame.

  5. I didn’t even need to read most of this. The number of humans and wooly mammoth in North America and Siberia was miniscule. Not even imaginably close enough to affect global methane levels and temperature.

  6. Dennis Wingo says:
    May 27, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    Willis

    Small comment, it is Younger Dryas in the text, not “Little” as was written.

    Otherwise great article!

    Thanks, fixed.

    w.

  7. I tried to find more info about “swipe” but it makes a poor search term. I did find a funny article about a related substance: MAKE YOUR OWN PRUNO AND MAY GOD HAVE MERCY ON YOUR SOUL.

    So, if extinction of megafauna results in cooling, then why aren’t the Nature Geosciences guys recommending extermination of all giraffs and elephants to save the world from CAGW?

  8. So.. To save us from catastrophic warming, all we have to do is…
    Kill all elephants?
    ;)

  9. So I always wonder about the methane causing effects of Global Warming that the AGW proponents spout forth and think if what they say is true, then did we stop a Global Catastrophy by nearly wiping out the Buffaloe when we colonized America? If so…is that a good thing? :)

  10. Just a question. It sure looks like on Figure 2 that the rise in Methane concentrations pre-dates the temperature rise, which would imply cause-effect of methane concentration increase leads to temperature increase, rather than as discussed in the post of temperature increases causing methane concentration increases. However I admit without vertical lines it is difficult to accurately judge which rise precedes the other in Figure 2

  11. Perhaps you should submit your thoughts as a comment to Nature Geoscience, where it will be printed, if it truly does have merit, along with the authors’ response. (I won’t be holding my breath, however.)

    Clearly, the authors, editors, and peer reviewers, likely experts in paleoclimatology, thought it was a worthwhile analysis. I’m going to trust their judgment more than I trust some blogger’s.

  12. It is utterly amazing the crap they publish. This article isn’t worth lining my bird’s cage…

  13. It could also be that the Clovis people changed from eating roots to eating Mammoths.

    And thereby the clovis people’s farting frequence and amplitude dropped dramatically?
    Yes? Its possible? Within, say, 5 to 95% confidense interval? Robustly?

    But seriously, what do real Scientists say about the reason for the Younger Dryas?
    The Cometh was a coming?

  14. Just one more proof that a Phd has been wasted on people without the intelligence of good sense. I know that the religion of human caused climate change needs all the arguments they can raise, but stupid is as stupid does. In nearly 60 years this is not the first time that I have seen a lame conclusion drawn from the facts.

  15. No more doubts!, this paper conclusively demostrates that farting goes after warming.

  16. I’ve always had some problems with the notion that over hunting by our wily ancestors was responsible for the extinction of the Mammoths. I’ve always wanted to see an experiment done, where we gather about a dozen of the proponents of this theory together, arm them with stone tipped spears, and lock them in a pen with a bull elephant wrapped in a coat of shag carpet, just to see which species would prove to be a more likely candidate for extinction.

  17. Good article Willis.

    Small typo. “about 24 parts per billion by volume (ppmv).” should that be be (ppbv)

  18. AL Gores H H

    “I didn’t even need to read most of this. The number of humans and wooly mammoth in North America and Siberia was miniscule. Not even imaginably close enough to affect global methane levels and temperature.”

    Presumably that’s why they said the loss of these species could be responsible for 12.5 to 100% of the methane decline (pretty wide margin) :-)

  19. Ok, all sing along:
    Home, home on the range. Where the sloths and mastodons roam.
    Where seldom is heard……
    ….. Hmm, what is that smell?
    Oh, yes. The paper. Forget the song, they’re long gone anyhow.
    Well, we are gathered here around the camp fire…..
    What is that smell?
    As I was saying, ….. around the camp fire to peer-review this “scientific study” that makes an old claim in…….
    What IS THAT smell!?!
    Jimmy! You been in the beans again? No?
    Then what is that smell?
    …..
    PHEW! It’s coming from this paper!! Quick! Throw it in the fire!

  20. Strange how organic material decomposition is also directly related to temperature… when the temperature is high things decompose and produce methane (except for rocks!!!), and when the temperature drops the decomposition slows down and even stops at a certain temperature. Strange how the biosphere grown also reacts favorably with temperature increases… the more organics, the bigger the methane reservoir.

  21. I found this, it gives a little more detail:

    http://www.physorg.com/news193847219.html (There is a typo where 2-40 should be 2-4, I think.)

    Willis asked: “If missing mammoth methane was the cause of the extremely rapid drop in methane … then what was the cause of the following extremely rapid rise in methane? I mean, the megafauna didn’t suddenly become un-extinct and start passing gas again. So why did the methane suddenly rise again?”

    I’ll make a guess. Smaller animals would increase in population to fill the void. They fart too! For example, maybe buffalo became prevalent in the next view hundred years. I bet they can cut lose! One test of this is to see if methane levels declined after Europeans killed off most of the buffalo.

    There is another line of research that suggests comet activity caused the YD and the decline of megafauna. See:

    http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/abstract/323/5910/94

    See also a response here:

    http://www.realclimate.org/index.php/archives/2009/01/the-younger-dryas-comet-impact-hypothesis-gem-of-an-idea-or-fools-gold/

    So, it seems there is no consensus on the cause of the YD event.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Younger_Dryas#Causes_of_the_Younger_Dryas

    Probably more than one factor was involved and these may have had feedbacks with effected each other.

  22. So we can assume that the new North American immigrants had no problems with flatulence themselves.

    In any case it’s obvious to me that the only way to rescue mother earth is with the complete extinction of all mankind. The number of people in North America at that time was absolutely tiny. So if mankind is so virulent to the planet, the only solution is to get rid of mankind. Al Gore and his friends will be the exception. Someone has to stay behind, fly around, and make sure that no one cheats when we all take the Jim Jones elixer.

  23. Los que trabajan en espacios cerrados, por lo general los modelos jugando en sus computadoras, son propensos a padecer enfermedades pulmonares causadas por la inhalación de una alta concentración de H2S CH4 ans. Su ingesta continuada provoca “delirio climatologicum extremis”

  24. “Eight hundredths of a degree? These people are hyperventilating over eight hundredths of a degree?”
    Yes, but you’re forgetting that this tiny negative forcing was caused by eeevil humans, thus upsetting Gaia’s delicate balance, resulting in self-reinforcing negative feedbacks, a tipping point and a death spiral of climate. Since we weren’t driving Hummers back then, there was nothing to counter-balance that negative feedback.
    Ack. I need to stop channeling Alarmists. Not good for the psyche.

  25. vboring says:
    May 27, 2010 at 1:38 pm
    The methane emissions could have started to rise again because of the increase in populations of domesticated sheep, pigs, and cows.

    I don’t know exactly when that happened, but it should be around the right sort of time frame.

    Searching for your “domesticated sheep” phrase: Sheep and goats, cattle and pigs: 9000-7000 BC

    So you missed it by 3,000 years. Dogs, however, were 12,000 years ago according to that source. But the domestication of dogs by hunters should have only made hunting better, thus the killing-leading-to-cooling should have gotten worse.

  26. Megafauna and methane?

    Not all of the bubbles that whales blow are from their lungs ;o)

    I can develop a good proxy for whale gas by studying kids in swimming pools. Where’s my grant money?

  27. OT
    Volcanic plumes generate lightning from the electrification of plume particles.
    Electrification of volcanic plumes provides a spectacular source of lightning.
    ……….findings demonstrate that charge exists well within a volcanic plume, the origin of which is not readily attributable either to the eruption directly or subsequent fair weather charging. ….. Charged particles can cause aircraft radio interference and, if introduced into aircraft cabins, charged ash may present an electrostatic hazard to occupants or aircraft systems.

    http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/5/2/024004/fulltext#SECTIONREF

  28. Another study full of … hubris.

    Mankind’s impact on the climate may be no greater than the impact of fleas jumping on an elephant’s backside as it jogs through the savannah. The difference is that the fleas don’t imagine they’re having an impact on the course of the elephant’s movements.

  29. Willis,

    A very good analysis; you go right to mindless stupidity of it all. Another in the long line of “mankind is always bad” climate science papers. How the heck did you bring yourself to spend the $18 on such nonsense?

    Since you are clearly spending some time on paleo climate data, have you looked at the divergence of ice core temperature trend and ice core CO2 starting about 8 Ky ago? Looks like rising CO2 (which was significant) is the opposite of what would be expected from the downward trend in temperature over the same period. Watts with that?

  30. I think the methane comes mainly from the oceans, to be more precisely from the methane clathrates. At first, it becomes hotter and then methane is released into the atmosphere. Just look on the first diagram. This is the Henry’s law!

  31. Phyllograptus says:
    May 27, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    Just a question. It sure looks like on Figure 2 that the rise in Methane concentrations pre-dates the temperature rise, which would imply cause-effect of methane concentration increase leads to temperature increase, rather than as discussed in the post of temperature increases causing methane concentration increases. However I admit without vertical lines it is difficult to accurately judge which rise precedes the other in Figure 2

    Exact dating of the ice core data is problematic, so we can’t conclude much from those kinds of very small differences.

  32. Willis shouts: “I spent eighteen buck to read their !@#$%^ paper for eight hundredths of a degree?”

    Your loss is our gain, Willis! Many thanks for this highly entertaining and entirely reasonable post. :o)

  33. Gosh, I thought this was a serious submission to the Journal of Irreproducable Results. It sure reads like a serious submission to the JIR (RIP) .Or maybe that should read ‘submission to the serious JIR’.

  34. Willis, great anal-ysis! Sorry, I can’t resist the temptation to make a bad pun. The Flying CO2 Monster made me do it!

  35. Johnny D says:
    May 27, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    Perhaps you should submit your thoughts as a comment to Nature Geoscience, where it will be printed, if it truly does have merit, along with the authors’ response. (I won’t be holding my breath, however.)

    Clearly, the authors, editors, and peer reviewers, likely experts in paleoclimatology, thought it was a worthwhile analysis. I’m going to trust their judgment more than I trust some blogger’s

    Trust climate scientists? That’s charmingly naive, Johnny. Me, I don’t trust anyone … including myself. If you think I’m wrong, I invite you to show me where.

    Finally, if you think “authors, editors, and peer reviewers” are the judge of scientific validity, you don’t understand the scientific method. A large percentage of papers printed in peer-reviewed journals, which have been approved by “authors, editors, and peer reviewers”, are shown to be false within a few years of publication.

  36. I can’t imagine the drop in “Methane emissions from extinct megafauna” 12,000 BC were any greater than that lost from the 25 to 30 million bison (at approx. 2,000lb each) that were killed off in North America between the 1700-1900 AD. Shouldn’t we see a climate change comparable to the Younger Dryers starting around 1750 or so?

  37. John in NZ says:
    May 27, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    Good article Willis.

    Small typo. “about 24 parts per billion by volume (ppmv).” should that be be (ppbv)

    Thanks, John, fixed.

  38. What is the life span of those animals 25 years or so? They all would have died in a relatively short period of time any way without any help from man, thus making what happened 12,000 years ago happen without mans help and would still have contributed to whatever it is they are talking about. So what is their point?

    In other news;

    Iceland President Warns That “Significant Eruption At Katla Volcano Is Close

    http://www.zerohedge.com/article/iceland-president-warns-significant-eruption-katla-volcano-close

  39. how do they even get crap like that published? i mean, it’s utterly ridiculous, in its entirety.

    science has been so hopelessly politicized.

  40. Enneagram says:
    May 27, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    Los que trabajan en espacios cerrados, por lo general los modelos jugando en sus computadoras, son propensos a padecer enfermedades pulmonares causadas por la inhalación de una alta concentración de H2S CH4 ans. Su ingesta continuada provoca “delirio climatologicum extremis”

    Y eso es una enfermedad muy común en estos dias …

    w.

  41. The conventional number for methane concentration at present is about 1800 ppbv. About a decade ago Evans and Puckrin did a study to which used spectral analysis of downwelling longwave radiation to quantify the contribution of the various GHGs to the greenhouse effect.

    http://ams.confex.com/ams/Annual2006/techprogram/paper_100737.htm

    They used a model to predict the preindustrial atmosphere’s response and claimed about a 30% increase in present time based on their measurements, although the data they listed didn’t really seem to support that very well. The point is that neither their model or their measurements indicated that methane contributed more than 1.3 Wm2 to total DLR which ranged from 150Wm2 in winter to 270Wm2 in summer at their Canadian location. That would suggest that if methane disappeared from the atmosphere entirely the most that could be expected would be about a 1Wm2 decrease in the greenhouse effect, which wouldn’t seem sufficient to generate an event like the Younger-Dryas

  42. Steve Fitzpatrick says:
    May 27, 2010 at 2:48 pm

    Willis,

    A very good analysis; you go right to mindless stupidity of it all. Another in the long line of “mankind is always bad” climate science papers. How the heck did you bring yourself to spend the $18 on such nonsense?

    Since you are clearly spending some time on paleo climate data, have you looked at the divergence of ice core temperature trend and ice core CO2 starting about 8 Ky ago? Looks like rising CO2 (which was significant) is the opposite of what would be expected from the downward trend in temperature over the same period. Watts with that?

    I’ve noticed that in my past investigations, no idea why it exists. I’ll look at it again.

  43. While working on the EIS for a mining project, I happened upon a veritable treasure trove of “mammoth-sized” weapons–spear points that weighed several pounds, fleshing knives as big as medium saucers, and stationary knife edges against which hunters whacked the bones of their prey to extract the marrow within (these weighed up to 30 lbs so could not possibly be used except as described).

    I found a spokeshank that indicated the spear shafts were about 3 inches in diameter, and grooves on the fore and aft positions of both sides of the spear points where leather thongs were wrapped to keep these spear points on the ends of the spear shafts. The favored hunting method for mammoths consisted of chasing the animals through a narrow opening between rocks or trees; brave hunters would be positioned ahead of the thundering herd with their lengthy spears lying next to them on the ground–as the mammoths passed, the hunter would raise the spear and hopefully cause the mammoth to impale itself with a mortal wound. Several hunters working in a line would have a better chance of getting the giant mammoths to squeeze through butt-grounded spears on either side, increasing the chance of a kill (which would feed the clan for quite a while, obviously).

    But here’s the stickler–how many mammoth, giant ground sloths, or other sizable animals could be killed with such a technique? These hunters didn’t have horses–why, they didn’t even have bows and arrows (arrows are a relatively recent invention–none are more than 6,000 years old). Besides, a bow and arrow would be practically useless for creatures the size of these.

    Nor did these ancient hunters have guns or other meachnized methods of harvesting so vast a number of such animals as this article on reduced methane concentration claims.

    I’ve seen the weapons they used–many, many of them (yet not a single arrowhead among them). In my opinion, these weapons are incapable of reducing the megafauna population in a way to cause their own demise, especially in the hands of people that most likely had dinner for days once one was brought down rather than continuing the hunt. (It was probably easier to move camp to the meat rather than the meat to the camp.) Indeed, considering the hunting methodology, it isn’t certain which was killed more often–megafauna or human.

    By the way, can you imagine hiding supine behind a bush or a tree waiting for charging mammoths to go by so you can lift the business end of your 20-ft spear while standing on the butt end so it penetrates effectively? Now THAT’s a gutsy hunter! Wound one of those big bruisers and I’m sure the fun would only begin.

  44. Around that time, there was a huge oil spill near Los Angeles which killed millions of mammals – including Sabre Toothed Cats and Mammoths. It is now a museum.

    http://www.tarpits.org/

    There seems to be no limit to the environmental damage caused by careless humans. Another famous incident was an oil spill in Tennessee in the 1960s, caused by a man named Jed who was out shooting for some food – when up from the ground came a bubbling crude (Oil that is. black gold, Texas Tea.)

  45. Vuk etc. says:
    May 27, 2010 at 2:38 pm
    OT
    Volcanic plumes generate lightning from the electrification of plume particles.
    Electrification of volcanic plumes provides a spectacular source of lightning.
    ……….findings demonstrate that charge exists well within a volcanic plume, the origin of which is not readily attributable either to the eruption directly or subsequent fair weather charging. ….. Charged particles can cause aircraft radio interference and, if introduced into aircraft cabins, charged ash may present an electrostatic hazard to occupants or aircraft systems.

    http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/5/2/024004/fulltext#SECTIONREF

    From the always incredible Astronomy Picture of the Day site a beautiful shoot of this phenomenon in action

    http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap100419.html

  46. If your claim is right and methane always closely follows temperature, then the recent rise in methane would be a definite proof for the recent global warming.

  47. @Johnny D
    Here’s a thought, Johnny. Why don’t you use your OWN God given ability to reason. Don’t take Willis at his word. Follow his line of thinking critically. If you seem something that doesn’t sit right, call him on it. As for the “scientists, editors, and peers”, just because someone says they know about something, doesn’t mean they really do.

    When did a large part of the world acquiesce the ability to think for themselves to the “higher powers”?

    If Willis’ synopsis on the paper is anywhere close to correct, then the paper is so flawed there really isn’t a point in critiquing the thought, and one should just go straight to laughing at the authors, editors and reviewers.

    Food chain, supply and sources. I’d start there if you want to know why you should be laughing at the authors. Oh, and how methane is produced in mammals. I’d tell you, but then, I’d only be an author of a blog post and can’t possibly be more correct than a “SCIENTIST”.

  48. RockyRoad @ May 27, 2010 at 3:06 pm
    The clovis people had arrowheads, look them up, they died off at the same time as the mammoths in north america

  49. Phew! A breath of fresh air needed here methinks! I’ll shortly be publishing a paper on how polar bear poo is reducing the albedo of arctic ice, and creating a feedback loop.The poor devils (how do they survive in summer when the ice is far to the north?) are the unknowing engineers of their own demise.

    Does no-one realise that the Great Lakes were originally formed when Mammoth urine drained from the central plains? IMHO the rapid temperature rise 10,000 years ago was caused by water-vapour feedback from these vast expanses of nutrient-rich waters. I feel a computer model coming on…..

    BTW, as a fully paid-up member of the Global Sceptics and Deniers Association, I’m still waiting for my cash from Big Oil. Do I have to fill in a form, or is there a minimum number of posts on sceptical blogs to trigger payment? Any help would be appreciated.

  50. RockyRoad says:
    May 27, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    While working on the EIS for a mining project, I happened upon a veritable treasure trove of “mammoth-sized” weapons–spear points that weighed several pounds, fleshing knives as big as medium saucers, and stationary knife edges against which hunters whacked the bones of their prey to extract the marrow within (these weighed up to 30 lbs so could not possibly be used except as described). [more very interesting stuff snipped] …

    My question has always been very similar, Rocky. Why would humans in the new world be able to drive mammoths and mastodons and a host of other species to extinction, while similarly sized mammals (rhinos, hippos, elephants and the like) continue to coexist with humans in Africa and Asia to this day? As a hunter myself, I know that it is hard to stalk and kill any wild animal, much less one that outweighs me by an order of magnitude or two.

    In addition, half of the species in their calculations of “megafauna” extinctions weigh less than 375 kg, a quarter of them weigh less than 150 kg, and 10% of them weigh less than 50 kg … megafauna? Don’t think so …

  51. uups says:
    May 27, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    If your claim is right and methane always closely follows temperature, then the recent rise in methane would be a definite proof for the recent global warming.

    uups, not sure if you are serious here, but the relationship is that for every degree of temperature rise, methane rises by about ~ 20 — 25 ppbv. So the recent temperature rise is far too small to make a significant change in methane levels.

  52. The hypothesis that it was the Clovis people who exterminated the megafauna is just that. Jared Diamond’s “Guns Germs and Steel” goes out on a limb arguing for it but a lot of animals and even some plants went extinct at that time. How could stone age hunters exterminate a rabbit or a pine tree? The Clovis themselves disappeared too. Evidently the very last saber toothed kitty cat and the very last Clovis went out in a death struggle. Or something else did them both in. There remains a great deal to be learned about what happened at that calamitous time.

  53. Since coastal estuaries, whose ecologies are significantly impacted by sea-level changes, account today for about 80% of Global methane production, did it occur to anyone in Nature that sea-level changes at this time might be important?

  54. Clovis is close to Roswell. Their weapons may have come from this guy.

    The only problem is that the science in this paper isn’t quite as good as the Area 51 research.

  55. @Johnny D
    Use of the authority argument is old, tired and erroneous. Instead of simply believing and trusting in the authorities you list, how about thinking for yourself. Even debating the points raised in the article and comments? No? Can’t do so? Thought not.

    Thanks for dropping by though.

  56. OK, so given the rather large number of ruminants, ( domestic and wild ), on the planet now, surely it’s about time we started eating them faster! “Save the planet eat a burger!”

    It’s my new slogan.

    As someone who has had the fantastic good fortune to witness the wildebeast, ( and many other species eg zebra, eland, springbok and others ), migration through the Masai Mara this paper is demonstrably utter crap.

    If you add in that the VAST majority of methane in the atmosphere is from the oceans then it becomes utter crap.

    It seems in climate science rent seeking is the only game in town, pathetic really.

  57. “Patrik says:
    May 27, 2010 at 1:45 pm
    So.. To save us from catastrophic warming, all we have to do is…
    Kill all elephants?”

    Patrick beat me to it.
    But it begs the question, do polar bears fart?

  58. Another theory for the end of the Clovis people, the mammoths and other giant mammals is a meteor crashing near the Great Lakes. There are soot layers from that time period and small diamonds found in the ash as well as on the Greenland ice sheet from that time period. This theory has appeared in two or more programs on PBS including Time Team America and NOVA.

  59. I don’t follow your units checking in Equation (4):

    (4) DMIe = BMe^0.75 *[ (0.0119*NEma^2 + 0.1938)/NEma] where BMe = body mass in kg, and NEma = estimated dietary net energy concentration of diet in MJ/kg

    Note that DMIe = kg/day [not stated here]

    I get, upon reduction and substitution:

    DMIe = kg/day intake = (kg^.75) * [MJ/kg]

    The equation is evidently empirical, based on animal husbandry studies. I wouldn’t expect it to have units that balance. Think of it as a model, one that probably has been established by many data sets of field data.

  60. Your observation on dimensional analysis is well made.

    Note how there are two numerical constants in the ‘rule’ proposed by the IPCC and the dimensions of these constants could resolve the dimensional question in principle.

    But, naturally, the constants would then need to be justified and explained -including their dimensions. It would be very interesting to see how they could seek to justify any physical parameters whose units include kg^-0.75.

    Occam’s razor leads me to the conclusion that these people haven’t the slightest clue about what they are talking about. And if they claim to be scientists would be an exterme case of self flattery.

  61. I have done researsh in Paleoclimatology, palinology, and this article is ridiculus…this is not not science.

    (The chinese had a teory about the dinossares desapearence, and the cause of death whas the enormous volumes of gases they were putting in the atmosphere, like methane.
    but this is a very ancient teory…centuries)

  62. My understanding is that the previous theory for the Younger Dryas cooling period is that during the warming period of the early holocene, when the tw0-mile thick glaciers of North America were melting away, a huge freshwater lake was formed in Canada from the runnoff, blocked by either ice or earth dams. At a certain point, this lake broke free and spilled into the North Atlantic. A great deal of geological evidence exists for this lake and its sudden spill-off. The massive influx of fresh water into the North Atlantic had the effect of shutting down the Gulf Stream, which depends on high saline water sinking near Greenland. This slowing of the Gulf Stream and ocean circulations around the world resulted in a sudden and lasting temperature drop around the word. Hence, the 1700 year Younger Dryas period.

    Is there some reason the authors of this paper don’t address this previous theory that has real geological evidence behind it, and a sound cause and effect mechanism that could have resulted in climate changes of this magnitude? Is there some reason the loss of mammoth farts somehow represents a more plausible explanation?

  63. @ uups who said: “If your claim is right and methane always closely follows temperature, then the recent rise in methane would be a definite proof for the recent global warming.”

    Proof of global warming? But critics don’t dispute “global warming.” The issue is the cause.

    See also Willis’ response.

  64. I would look at an aquatic source of methane first. We had complex patterns of ice advance and retreat at about this time with glacial lakes forming and bursting -creating massive outwash plains and possible impact on the the North Atlantic currents causing the Younger Dryas. We had lakes buried under ice for ten of thousands of years- newly opened to the atmosphere and releasing its stored methane load. See: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/10/071025174618.htm

    We had the formation of swamps where bacterial action would dominate before the the slower adapting macrophytes became part of the equation. The duration of this time lag may be critical to the production of methane.

    The importance of pH and alkalinity cannot be ignored in the production of methane. Much of eastern North America is underlain by granite. Glacial flour has a pH of around 8.5. However, the pH and ANC (acid neutralizing capacity) quickly declines as the glacial soil is colonized by bogs and forests. (Bogs do an especially good job driving down pH by actively sequestering Ca–in fact to survive they need to drive the pH below the point where the rooted aquatic plants can compete). The production of organic acids quickly depresses the virgin glacial soil pH to the 4 to 5.5 range depending on the flora succession and fire cycle . (Granite bedrock is very poor at buffering these acids.) The decline in pH and alkalinity would suppress the methane generation rate as methane bacteria do best at a pH between 7 and 8.5 with a relatively high alkalinity.
    While the methane generation rate would decline as a result of pH the amount of organic material available, temperature and ice free waters all increased. Some of the new swamps and wetlands created by the interglacial would be in high limestone regions and would see methane production rates continue at higher rates.

    How does all this fit- I don’t know- it is complex. But I don’t think the authors of this Nature paper understand how all this fits together either.

  65. One of the issues with the MegaFauna extinctions which is not addressed adequately is CO2 levels themselves.

    The C3 plants (mostly grasses) are able to grow reasonably well with low CO2 levels. C4 plants (most other broad-leafed plants but including a few grasses as well) grow very poorly with CO2 levels as low as 200 ppm (and especially in hot conditions and/or dryer conditions when CO2 levels are this low).

    CO2 levels during the height of the ice ages were below 200 ppm for long periods of time. This allowed Grasses to take over most of the areas where precipitations levels were low which ocurred in many areas. The planet was a grass, tundra, savanna, small rain-forest area and ice and snow planet.

    The MegaFauna were, in fact, Mega-Herbivores who fed on grasses and the small bushes which dominated the ice age vegetation map other than the areas covered by ice and the rain-forest areas. When you have Mega-Herbivores, one also tends to get Mega-Carnivores.

    So, at about 14,000 years ago and 13,000 years ago, CO2 levels increased to 240 ppm and the broad-leafed C4 plants could grow again. The vegetation that all the Mega-Fauna relied on, changed considerably at about 13,000 years ago and this along with climate change was the main reason for the extinctions.

  66. In any grassland far more vegetation is consumed, and methane released by insects and bacteria then grazing mammals. I find it hard to believe that a scientist would not know this. Anyway even if all mammoths died the original source of the methane. AKA the grass is still there and that methane would be released when the grass rots and is consumed by bacteria.

  67. Any “theory” that puts the blame on hunters will be lapped up by the Greens.

  68. For something completely different, the hand on the cave wall in the cartoon has the ring finger shorter than the index. I think that’s not right.

  69. Willis,
    “I’ve noticed that in my past investigations, no idea why it exists. I’ll look at it again.”

    I’ve poked around the data a bit. If you take the Vostok temperature anomaly (deviation from recent temperatures) estimated from ice core O16/O18 you can calculate a corresponding CO2 concentration using CO2 = 260 + 8.5 * (anomaly), and then overlay the calculated CO2 with the actual ice core CO2 data. While the two graphs are closely correlated, a couple of things stand out: 1) The CO2 tracks the temperature during periods of rapid temperature rise very well (only a few hundred years of lag), but often lags far behind (several thousand years or more) when temperatures are falling… the best example is the end of the previous interglacial, where there is a big divergence between rapidly falling temperatures and almost steady CO2 at 270 PPM.
    2) Ice core CO2 increased from ~255 PPM 7.5 Ky ago to ~285 PPM by ~1 Ky ago, while the average temperature was at the same time falling slightly. A substantial rise in CO2 during a period of slowly falling temperature is very unusual.

  70. Adding to Conradg’s point:

    The extremely abrupt and cold Younger Dryas (ca. 12.9–11.6 ka) might have been forced by a bolide impact, which slowed the Atlantic meridional overturning circulation by releasing Lake Agassiz melt water. Or not. Whatever, there is some evidence that the Clovis culture died off due to something else happening in North America rather than to the cold, which they were already well adapted to.

    Some studies show that the Younger Dryas (and Akkadian Collapse 4400ybp) happened really fast, like within a single year’s time. This puts the lie to “the unprecedented rates modern of climate change” crap.

    It is also a wonder that an article so behind the curve on the latest evidence got past the peer review process. Could it be because the Younger Dryas has been popping up recently as an example of rapid climate change that occurred without the help of greenhouse gases? Now the CAGW true believers have a source to cite for their side. Nature’s got their back.

    http://geology.gsapubs.org/content/38/4/383.full

    http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/res/pi/arch/examples.shtml

  71. jorgekafkazar says:
    May 27, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    I don’t follow your units checking in Equation (4):

    (4) DMIe = BMe^0.75 *[ (0.0119*NEma^2 + 0.1938)/NEma] where BMe = body mass in kg, and NEma = estimated dietary net energy concentration of diet in MJ/kg

    Note that DMIe = kg/day [not stated here]

    I get, upon reduction and substitution:

    DMIe = kg/day intake = (kg^.75) * [MJ/kg]

    The equation is evidently empirical, based on animal husbandry studies. I wouldn’t expect it to have units that balance. Think of it as a model, one that probably has been established by many data sets of field data.

    Sure, we could assume that it is good … but for me, I prefer real science. Even empirical equations should have units that balance, so when I see the units not balancing, it is a huge red flag to me that we have left science behind …

    PS – if you don’t follow the unit checking, perhaps you could tell me where I went wrong. Wouldn’t be the first time …

  72. wes george says:
    May 27, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    [good stuff snipped] … It is also a wonder that an article so behind the curve on the latest evidence got past the peer review process.

    Sadly, not to me …

  73. Binny says:
    May 27, 2010 at 5:32 pm
    ” Anyway even if all mammoths died the original source of the methane. AKA the grass is still there and that methane would be released when the grass rots and is consumed by bacteria.”
    And the rate of the conversion to methane is a function of pH. The soil pH immediately following glacial retreat would be more conducive to high rates of methane generation in granitic regions and then would naturally taper off.

  74. Willis

    Sorry, mate. The equation they use is derived empirically (I suppose that’s what they did). Empirical equations don’t balance the units of their components, except by way of the constants, which have units if one wants to balance units.

    Otherwise, a great post. I would never have imagined there were so many dishonest dickheads in the world.

  75. conradg says: Is there some reason the loss of mammoth farts somehow represents a more plausible explanation?

    Humans weren’t responsible for the massive lake draining.

  76. Johnny D says:
    May 27, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    “….Clearly, the authors, editors, and peer reviewers, likely experts in paleoclimatology, thought it was a worthwhile analysis. I’m going to trust their judgment more than I trust some blogger’s.”
    _________________________________________________________________________
    That is pretty stupid because bloggers can point towards other information such as these comments from an earlier article:

    Duster says

    “…what is less commonly discussed is that the YD is also marked by an enormous C-14 anomaly”
    {there is also evidence of wildfires}

    Bruce of Newcastle says

    “…a good article on ‘Clovis culture’ in Wikipedia. Has the nanodiamonds and even “high levels of metal and magnetic spherules found deep inside the tusks and skulls of mammoths”.”
    {“high levels of metal and magnetic spherules??? where the heck did that come from}

    And of course Willis Eschenbach
    answers that question.
    Nanodiamonds in the Younger Dryas Boundary Sediment Layer

    “D. J. Kennett,1* J. P. Kennett,2 A. West,3 C. Mercer,4 S. S. Que Hee,5 L. Bement,6 T. E. Bunch,7 M. Sellers,7 W. S. Wolbach8
    We report abundant nanodiamonds in sediments dating to 12.9 ± 0.1 thousand calendar years before the present at multiple locations across North America. Selected area electron diffraction patterns reveal two diamond allotropes in this boundary layer but not above or below that interval. Cubic diamonds form under high temperature-pressure regimes, and n-diamonds also require extraordinary conditions, well outside the range of Earth’s typical surficial processes but common to cosmic impacts. N-diamond concentrations range from 10 to 3700 parts per billion by weight, comparable to amounts found in known impact layers. These diamonds provide strong evidence for Earth’s collision with a rare swarm of carbonaceous chondrites or comets at the onset of the Younger Dryas cool interval, producing multiple airbursts and possible surface impacts, with severe repercussions for plants, animals, and humans in North America.”

    Of course Johnny D is not really interested in science. He is only interested in reinforcing the public’s belief in the “Psycientist-Priests”

  77. Willis-

    In the equation from the article-
    DMIe = BMe^0.75 *[ (0.0119*NEma^2 + 0.1938)/NEma

    The constants 0.0119 and 0.1938 do not have to be unit-less. They would have units assigned to them so that the units balance, which of course they must for this to be an actual equation. My high school physics teacher, Clif Sosnowski, pounded that into us.

  78. As the French soldiers said to the English knights in Monty Python’s the Holy Grail.”…… I fart in their general direction.

  79. Willis Eschenbach says:
    May 27, 2010 at 3:42 pm

    RockyRoad says:
    May 27, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    …..My question has always been very similar, Rocky. Why would humans in the new world be able to drive mammoths and mastodons and a host of other species to extinction, ….
    ____________________________________________________________________________
    I was under the impression they drove the suckers over cliffs and killed and wounded many members of a herds. I thought such kill sites had been unearthed.

    http://www.uiowa.edu/~osa/learn/teachers/pamphlets/Paleo-4.pdf

    Also I just came across this rebuttal paper!
    Spores in Mastodon Dung Suggest Humans Didn’t Kill Off Ancient Mammals

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/80beats/2009/11/20/spores-in-mastodon-dung-suggest-humans-didnt-kill-off-ancient-mammals/

    “…For a new study, researcher Jacquelyn Gill collected and analyzed spores in sediment samples from an Indiana lake and several sites in New York.

    From Gill’s analysis, published in the journal Science, she concluded that North American megafauna began a slow decline around 15,000 years ago and vanished about 1,000 years later. The data suggests megafauna started going extinct much earlier than previously though, which basically wipes out two theories of their extinction….”

  80. The methane concentration curve shown in Figure 1 does not seem to track with temperatures over the last 10,00 years. Anyone know of a source for the temperature plot for this core?

  81. John Murphy says:
    May 27, 2010 at 6:29 pm

    “…..Otherwise, a great post. I would never have imagined there were so many dishonest dickheads in the world.”
    ___________________________________________________________
    According to my “Employment Law for Business” textbook, 80% of job applications contain false information and 30% of the information related to educational background is false. That is a heck of a lot of dishonest people here in the USA! We should quit using politicians as role models.

  82. A mechanism for the rise in Methane after the extinction of the mega fauna is increased plant growth due to the lack of grazing carried out by mega-fauna, as more plant growth means more methane release from rotting, uneaten vegetation.

  83. In “A short history of nearly everything” Bill Bryson quotes Woese that 80% of the biomass of the planet is small microbes. Most of the rest has to be plants leaving a small percentage in the form of visible animals, and of those the percent mass on the ones that went extinct has to be very tiny. To paraphrase Angel Martin from the Rockford files, “We got 5% of 10% of nothing.” Yet methane from this tiny bit of biomass changed the climate?

  84. chris y says:
    May 27, 2010 at 6:55 pm

    Willis-

    In the equation from the article-
    DMIe = BMe^0.75 *[ (0.0119*NEma^2 + 0.1938)/NEma

    The constants 0.0119 and 0.1938 do not have to be unit-less. They would have units assigned to them so that the units balance, which of course they must for this to be an actual equation. My high school physics teacher, Clif Sosnowski, pounded that into us.

    I’d feel better about that if it seemed like the folks that wrote the IPCC article understood the concept. For example, their third equation in the paper, Equation 10.3 for Net Energy Maintenance says:

    Net energy for maintenance: (NEm ) is the net energy required for maintenance, which is the amount of energy needed to keep the animal in equilibrium where body energy is neither gained nor lost (Jurgen, 1988).

    NEm = Cfi * (Weight)^0.75

    Where:
    NEm = net energy required by the animal for maintenance, MJ day-1
    Cfi = a coefficient which varies for each animal category as shown in Table 10.4 (Coefficients for calculating NEm), MJ day-1 kg-1
    Weight = live-weight of animal, kg

    When people start out by saying that, it is clear that they don’t understand the concept that the units have to balance. They are just playing with units to make it look scientific. Doesn’t make the equation wrong … just makes me wonder if it is wrong.

    … pause for some research …

    OK, here’s the problem. They have copied these formulas from the National Academies Press (NAP) “Nutrient Requirements of Beef Cattle” … except they didn’t copy them correctly. The NAP source says:

    The NEm requirements of beef cattle have been estimated as

    NEm = 0.77 Mcal/EBW^0.75

    EBW is the average empty body weight in kilograms (Lofgreen and Garrett, 1968; Garrett, 1980).

    In the NAP version, the units balance. However, we see another difference with the IPCC equations, which is that the NAP uses “empty body weight” (weight with the stomach empty) while the IPCC didn’t seem to notice that, they use total body weight in everything but Equation 10.6. Or not, it’s not clear.

    Like I said, doesn’t make it wrong … but when people start putting the wrong units in when copying from another source, I get nervous.

  85. jcrabb says:
    May 27, 2010 at 8:06 pm (Edit)

    A mechanism for the rise in Methane after the extinction of the mega fauna is increased plant growth due to the lack of grazing carried out by mega-fauna, as more plant growth means more methane release from rotting, uneaten vegetation.

    That seems unlikely. If you get as much methane from rotting vegetation as you got from the megafauna, then variations in the numbers of megafauna would make no difference at all.

  86. Willis said: ” Well, that’s certainly a fascinating combination of units, but it is definitely not kilograms as advertised.”

    chris y says: “The constants 0.0119 and 0.1938 do not have to be unit-less. ”

    Chris of course is right. This error on Willis’s parts shows something very important: he has no idea what he is talking about. It is such a basic issue, it is the smoking gun that shows he cannot possibly understand the documents he is reading.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect

    All of you who are so quick to follow your Piped Pipers need to think hard. Why are you blindly praising material you do not understand? Could it be that you want to believe AGW is false so bad that you lap up any bit of none-sense that seems to refute it? You are not being open minded. If AGW is wrong, it won’t be a Willis who shows this.

    Now, Linzden is worth listening to, but read what the mainstream scientists are saying as well. We need, in the next few weeks, to make real decisions: do we cross our figures and hope the majority of climate scientists are wrong, or do we take some measures to protect ourselves?

  87. Mike;
    We need, in the next few weeks, to make real decisions: do we cross our figures and hope the majority of climate scientists are wrong, or do we take some measures to protect ourselves?>>

    IPCC AR4 scenario based on last 40 years trend = +3 degrees

    IPCC AR4 mitigation scenario II = +2.8 degrees

    Savings = 0.2 degrees

    Requirement = 30% reduction in emissions by 2020.

    I think not.

  88. More information is always good … Here’s what the EPA says about natural (not anthropogenic) methane sources:

    (Background picture is from the source document.)

    Some immediate conclusions:

    1. If the permafrost were to increase by a factor of ten, it wouldn’t make any difference.

    2. Wild animals are only at 2%. Yes, there were many more wild animals back then, but even if every one of them stopped producing methane, it wouldn’t make the methane difference seen in the Younger Dryas. And remember, the megafauna dieoff was limited to the New World (38% of the land excluding Antarctica), and all of the animals didn’t die off by any means. In particular, bison were unaffected, as were a number of other herbivores including many species of deer, elk, and antelopes.

    3. Wet areas, geological sources, vegetation, and bugs make up 95% of the natural sources.

    4. All numbers are estimates … or as my Grandma used to say “You can believe half of what you read, a quarter of what you hear … and an eighth of what you say.”

  89. Mike says:
    May 27, 2010 at 8:47 pm

    Willis said: ” Well, that’s certainly a fascinating combination of units, but it is definitely not kilograms as advertised.”

    chris y says: “The constants 0.0119 and 0.1938 do not have to be unit-less. ”

    Chris of course is right. This error on Willis’s parts shows something very important: he has no idea what he is talking about. It is such a basic issue, it is the smoking gun that shows he cannot possibly understand the documents he is reading.

    In the source document, the units work. In the IPCC information, copied from the source document, they don’t. They claim the final unit is kg, where the source document says the final unit is kg^0.75, which makes the units balance correctly.

    Like I said, this makes me nervous. And like I said, doesn’t mean it’s wrong, just means they’re not paying attention.

    Finally, in a scientific discussion, saying someone “has no idea what he is talking about” is meaningless. If you dispute my figures or my conclusions, provide your own. If you think the S2010 paper is valid, show us how. If I don’t understand the documents I’m reading, show me where. I protested sloppy math and poor copying from a source document. If you think sloppy math and poor copying are acceptable, fine … but don’t expect to get too much traction here with that attitude, this is a scientific blog (voted Best Science Blog on the Web two years ago).

  90. Mike says:
    May 27, 2010 at 8:47 pm

    … Now, Linzden [sic] is worth listening to, but read what the mainstream scientists are saying as well. We need, in the next few weeks, to make real decisions: do we cross our figures and hope the majority of climate scientists are wrong, or do we take some measures to protect ourselves?

    I know Dick Lindzen, and as you say he is very much worth listening to. He also thinks I am worth listening to … go figure.

    As to whether we should “take some measures to protect ourselves”, I say yes. I outline some of those measures here. Come back if you think I’m wrong about what we should do, and tell me where.

    PS – Why do we have to make these decisions in “the next few weeks”? What’s your urgency? If you are right, we won’t see deleterious effects for decades … so why the urgency? Twenty-five years ago James Hansen said we had to act immediately … and now there has been no statistically significant warming for the last fifteen years. You can cry “Wolf!” all you want, my friend … we’ve heard it before.

  91. Willis Eschenbach;
    and all of the animals didn’t die off by any means. In particular, bison were unaffected, as were a number of other herbivores including many species of deer, elk, and antelopes.>>

    Yes, one wonders, once they wiped out the mammoths what those evil humans ate instead. You would have thought that they would have wiped out a few other species as well once they had no mammoths left. Then again, maybe they killed them all at once, dragged them up north and buried them in the ice like a gigantic freezer, and lived off their carcasses. They buried some of them standing upright for artistic merit.

    Seriously, I thought there was a mega die off of mammoths in Europe and Asia about 10K years ago as well?

  92. and you forgott the rise of CH4 from 750ppb to 1750ppb from 1750 to 2000.!

    This should warm the earth by more than 30°C, if Smith et al. could be somewhere right….

  93. Mike says:
    May 27, 2010 at 8:47 pm “Could it be that you want to believe AGW is false so bad that you lap up any bit of none-sense that seems to refute it? You are not being open minded.”

    Perhaps people just grow tired of the endless assault . The Younger Dryas saw a temperature drop of some of some 7C in less than 20 years. This rapid cooling returned us to near glacial conditions. A thousand years later temperature rebounds almost as quickly as it fell. The cause of this rapid cooling is thought to be related to the collapse of glacial Lake Agassiz but the floodway is still disputed . http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v464/n7289/full/nature08954.html
    The retreat of the glaciers caused dynamic changes in flora and fauna that continue to this date. Massive new perennial wetlands were created by the melting glaciers. Wetlands are the leading source of methane now and little reason to think they were not so at the time of the loss of the megafauna. Forests moved north. Complex interaction occur between forest and methane. Complex chemistires occur between emergent macrophytes and methane. There are complex interactions between not only methane generation but also methane oxidation- all being continually mediated by changes in temperature, flora, organic deposition and related changes in soil chemistry (including inhibitory processes of methane formation and oxidation).

    The megafauna extinction at 13000 BP was fundamentally an American extinction event. While Asia and Africa have not seen a megafauna extinction in the last 50K years.

    So when anyone says that the methane decline could be as much as 100% result of the North American megafauna extinction and that this methane decline is associated with the YD temperature decline– well its just too much. At 100% it means 0 role for anything else. And please tell me the mechanism by which the loss of the megafauna give a 7C drop in 20 years and what fauna replaced them in 1000 years to cause the temperature to go back up. As the megafauna were going extinct the “smaller” grazers the bison and elk were filling the niches- so we need this offset. The range of the Pacific and Atlantic salmon was also increasing during this period with the massive conveyance of marine derived nutrients and carbon from the ocean to freshwater environments. Most trees found along Alaskan stream are the nutrient transfer from salmon to bear and the bear scat to trees. (Although we can expect these too declined with the YD). Also look at Figure 1 we also need to believe that terrestrial megafauna were the leading source of atmospheric methane.
    The simplification of the complex and the associated hubris is just too much at times. It is not those on this site that are making the extraordinary claims made by this paper and as such we can throw as many stones as we like.

  94. What a way to make a Friday fun! We’ve had discussions of this all week at work (blaming the lack of mammoth flatus for the return of winter so late in spring). I think the movie behind figure 4 was the main source of their research (information is much easier to get from talking animals).
    But now I’m worried.
    It occurs to me that when we reduce our nasty CO2 the temperature will drop, but we no longer have the benefit of megafauna emissions to prevent a drastic plunge into a new ice age (obviously good mammoth flatus worked better than rotten, gas-mask wearing cattle emissions). We must do a study to find the proper balance of exhaling and far—- um, intestinal methane release. I’m not a climatologist, but then again neither is Algore. WoHoo! I’m off to write a grant proposal!!$$$$$$

  95. Just hit me that they are claiming that a drop in greenhouse gas on one continent dropped the whole planet into an ice age. Hmmm. Sounds to me like reducing greenhouse gases is a bad idea. We should put in a mitigation strategy that requires everyone to do their part. Produce a minimum amount of GHG or be fined. Countries with low carbon economies will be given deadlines to get their act together, or else they will be taxed and the money sent to high carbon economies as an off set.

  96. Well, always more to learn. I found a fascinating NAS publication entitled “Megafauna biomass tradeoff as a driver of Quaternary and future extinctions“. It contains data on the timing of the loss of the megafauna over the entire globe. I was surprised to find out that the the major loss didn’t occur during the Younger Dryas. Here’s the figures:

    As you can see, during the Younger Dryas the loss in total body weight of megafauna (which they define as animals that weigh over 44 kg = ~ 100 pounds) was fairly small compared to the overall loss. Another nail in the coffin of the hypothesis of mammoth far… excuse me, I mean the megafaunal methane hypothesis.

    Mike, this is how we do science here, go out, find things, think about them, cite them, discuss them … your move. If you think the info I cited is bunk or that my conclusions from that information are wrong, here’s your chance, that’s how science works. I make claims and draw conclusions and cite information to support them, you try to tear down my data and my math and my logic … science as a blood sport, wouldn’t have it any other way.

  97. I’m sure no one will take me seriously – but I can tell you what suddenly killed all the wmammoths 12000 years ago. An Asteroid – that split into 3 large pieces, the largets of which destroyed an island in the atlantic submerging it near the bermuda triangle. See Otto Muck for further details

  98. Willis Eschenbach says:
    May 27, 2010 at 9:21 pm
    “More information is always good…

    “the megafauna dieoff was limited to the New World (38% of the land excluding Antarctica), and all of the animals didn’t die off by any means. In particular, bison were unaffected, as were a number of other herbivores including many species of deer, elk, and antelopes.”

    (First, pardon me but I just can’t figure out how to italicize font in these posts…)

    Actually all these species were affected, though forms survived. In the case of bison, a large form, Bison antiquus was replaced by a smaller form, B. occidentalis. The latter was a cold-adapted species which arrived in North America from eastern Siberia probably during the Younger Dryas, and it was adapted to surviving predation pressure from gray wolves and human hunters.

    The Clovis people hunted B. antiquus. It was gone by about 10,000 years ago, replaced by B. occidentalis which eventually evolved to become the current B. bison.

    This information is published in a variety of papers but there is an excellent summary of this whole bison story in the popular book ‘Buffalo Nation: History and Legend of the North American Bison’ by Dr. Valerius Geist (Fifth House Publishers 1996).

    Don’t let the popular book format fool you. Google the author.

    Another excellent paper which you might find very interesting is:

    Martin, P.S. 2002. Prehistoric Extinctions: In the Shadow of Man in Kay, C.E., and R.T. Simmons (eds.) 2002. Wilderness & Political Ecology: Aboriginal Influences & the Original State of Nature, The University of Utah Press.

    Great global review. Megafauna extinctions wherever/whenever modern humans showed up, not just in the New World.

    Lots more outstanding and rather revolutionary papers in that book. Unfortunately, since its publication the Conservation Biology gang has done its best to bury it – as you might guess from the provocative title. CB begins with the premise of a “pristine wilderness” where humans had no impact.

  99. Pat Moffitt says:
    May 27, 2010 at 10:02 pm

    “The range of the Pacific and Atlantic salmon was also increasing during this period with the massive conveyance of marine derived nutrients and carbon from the ocean to freshwater environments.”

    Except for some small coastal rivers, that happened much later. Salmon didn’t start going up the Fraser River system in British Columbia until about 5-6,000 years ago because of all the glacial meltwaters created too much flow and turbidity. Salmon need clear water to spawn in, once they can actually get upstream.

    “Most trees found along Alaskan stream are the nutrient transfer from salmon to bear and the bear scat to trees.”

    Sorry. Green fairy tale based only on recent history. If you look into the archaeological record you will find that almost all those salmon stream where bears gather in abundance now were occupied by human settlements and humans from the time the salmon got to them until those indigenous people were removed by smallpox, etc., and/or concentrated in Euro-defined settlements.

    All those cultures used deadfall traps to kill bears, as well as hunting them. Just can’t live with bears when your house is full of dried fish.

  100. Willis – re 10:32 pm

    That weight loss graph is more consistent with predation by humans than anything else. Optimal foraging theory – kill/eat the biggest ones first.

  101. Wilis

    When the basic information is dissected by such as yourself it merely demonstrates how little we actually definitively know (and can prove) about the earth and its climate.

    For our ‘leaders’ to make profound decisions on our future economic well being based on profound collective ignorance on the subject by science and politicians alike is the height of arrogance and stupidity.

    Tonyb

  102. So, can we now assume that the warmists are coming to the conclusion that CO2 isn’t the bad boy of AGW and have begun to officially remove it from the frame? Or is this just another stinkeroo rising from the slurry formally known as climate science?

  103. Excellent article – I’m glad you wrote about this! When I read the news release I just had to sigh and think about how incredible it is that the “greenhouse gas paradigm” has made it possible that articles like this one appear in once respected journals. It’s so obviously far-fetched that you would think that only some weird pseudo science magazine would be willing to put this on print. I bet that even ufologists can get their fantasies printed now if only they’re able to make a greenhouse gas twist to them :-(

  104. Well done Willis, but I am worried that you might have given Gavin and Michael too much solid scientific clues in the cartoon sketch at the beginning of this article. The observation is clear, primitive “Mann” takes two steps out of the cave, relieves himself, on the frozen tundra, concludes with a satisfied methane emission, and perhaps a dump or two. This is science!! there is a definite correlation to be shown between the action of Primitive Mann and his fellows and rise in spot temperatures (the Hot spot?) a rise in methane all combining to a tipping point that ended the icy ages and ushered in the new dawn of Climate change, not hard to factor in a Hockey stick or two, some fir trees or conifers the odd flower or two, or perhaps it was the lemon tree that received the drenching and yes you then have run-a-way climate change of Mann made Global warming.

    This could be the reverse engineered result if these scientific facts and truths are fed into the IPCC modelling machine. Willis, Al Gore will rub his hands!! What have you done!!


  105. I regret that I have no citation to offer on this, but I throw it out as a potential line of inquiry for those with access to (and familiarity with) the literature in ecological research.

    In any given biosphere, the so-called “charismatic megafauna” represent a relatively small percentage of the animate critters eating, reproducing, and excreting. In kingdom Animalia, most of the biomass is in the form of little things.

    (I recall Farley Mowatt’s popularization of the understanding that the lupine “charismatic megafauna” were far from exclusively predators upon herbivorous “charismatic megafauna” in their habitats but derived much – perhaps the greatest part – of their caloric intake by way of pouncing upon Rodentiae and the like. Kinda fits with what any dog owner can tell you about how Fido not only goes nuts in pursuit of but will also pounce upon and successfully kill a squirrel, chipmunk, mole, or rabbit whenever he gets a chance. The Fissipediae [almost entirely predator species] are “built” to hunt and kill things that are little and quick; big guys like Panthera leo and Canis dirus are exceptions, not the rule – though naturally those of us in species Homo sapiens pay a helluva lot more attention to these whacking big meat-eaters; after all, we’re among their prey species. Among the herbivores, I strongly suspect that the unimpressive little things process a great deal more cellulose – and pass a great deal more methane into the atmosphere – than do the big, bulky, more striking animals.)

    Any thoughts along this line – to the effect that the megafauna (as an absolute percentage of methane-flatulating life in any ecosphere) really don’t matter all that much?

  106. Willis, another brilliant exploration and demonstration of a truism an old friend, sadly long deceased, would quote when catching the scent of BS, saying “Why do those ignoramii who see themselves as authorities on anything not realise that pooling ignorance just gives us a bigger pool of the stuff”.

  107. The proposition is so completely hideous as to beg credulity!

    If it got really cold such that the foods which the mammoths et, al., fed upon, became scarce, then it follows that the animals would have ‘broke wind’ to a lesser degree.

    Heck, they might have even starved to death, or became easier prey to whatever humans and other predators which roamed at the time owing to their diminished strength because of lack of food.

    But I’m not buying any of their nonsense. More it is that the swampy areas of the time produced less gas as a result of lesser atmospheric heat, i.e., sunshine.

    For the authors to proclaim that mammoths were sufficient in number to have produced that much gas? THAT is beyond the pale of the completely absurd.

  108. Willis,

    Excellent presentation of the data but there is more!

    1. At about this time the neolithic peoples were carving millions of petroglyphs all over the Earth documenting a long period of a persistent auroral plasma phenomena (various papers here http://plasmauniverse.info/NearEarth.html ) immersing the Earth. The timing of this event is “about” 10,000 years ago but essentially the same time as the methane drop shown above.

    2. The idea that the Clovis people killed the North American pachyderms is a nonsense – even today killing an elephant with wooden spears is not plausible, and in any case why did the Clovis people massacre their pachyderms and the Africans, Indiands and Chinese not?

    3. One of the problems reconstructing paleaoclimates is due to the Lyell factor – the arbitrary stretching of geological time to, almost, incomprehensible extents so that obvious causal relationships become implausible because of the uniformitrian time stretching methodology.

    I’m basically a diamond geologist and the science is about figuring out the hows and wherefores of kimberlite and lamproite eruptions, and how to find these rocks (and I am one of the world’s best in that area given my track record in finding those rocks, or so my peers tell others).

    What I have noticed is that kimberlite eruptions are also associated with biosphere mass extinctions, but under the present model of geochronology, not permissble since a kimberlite eruption millions of years before a biosphere mass extinction cannot be invoked as a cause for that extinction.

    But it can be if we have geochronology wrong.

    This is not to say that I side with the religious fundamentalists and support their belief that the earth was formed recently, though I do agree that the basis for that belief, an historical physical event, documented by badly interpreted accounts, did happen, and was most likely the Younger Dryas event etc. (Time becomes a bit of a furphy if one accepts that the Universe always existed).

    And there is another connection as well – Tommy Gold’s deep hot biosphere hypothesis – in which it is proposed that the Earth’s interior hosts a massive bacterial domain feeding on the mantle derived hydrocarbons continually releasing methane to the surface.

    This leads to suggest another reason for the observed methane drop – not from the extinction of some megafauna in the US at the time, but from a catastrophic interaction between the Earth and some external body, comet, planet, whatever, that caused an intense plasma interaction codified by the neolithic peoples, and which zapped, electrically, the Earth, possibly affecting (killing) large populations of the subterranean biosphere, and hence shutting off, temporarily, global methane production.

    But neolithic hunters exterminating mammoths and mastodons, while letting the contemporary Musk Ox to live is a bizarre concept.

    Dare I say it, the mindset that proposed the Clovis Extinction hypothesis then, would have also proposed the AGW nonsense of today.

  109. Sometimes you guys are very good with answers and sometimes you stink at it.
    Like now… An Ice Age is designed to lower gas pressure in the atmosphere by killing off the plant growth an freeze the lakes and streams. The cycle is from pressure build-up to pressure build-up by explosive life growth giving off gases and the occasional volcano.
    The plant and animal life was bigger due to the increased speed of planetary rotation (see Planetary Mechanics 101(oh ya, it’s not written)) which caused GREATER centrifugal forces.

  110. Seems to be a classic chicken/egg problem here. Methane increase causes temperature increase but, as well, temperature increase causes methane increase. A positive feedback exists and that should make it impossible to determine which comes first.

    This is another one of those things that, if true, would result in a runaway greenhouse. Yet the planet has never experienced a runaway greenhouse. It has however, more than once, experienced runaway glaciation. But even that comes to and end.

    The positive feedbacks teh climate alarmists are proposing appear to be missing some negative feedbacks. The earth appears to have what can be characterized as a thermostat set at some ten or twenty degrees C above the freezing point of water with a hysteresis of about ten or twenty degrees.

    The predominant and fastest acting negative feedback would appear to be clouds. As temperature rises the water cycle increases. Evaporation transports heat from the surface where it is released through condensation considerably higher in the atmosphere where it can more easily radiate into space. The higher albedo of the clouds adds more negative feedback by blocking more sunlight from reaching the surface.

    On the cooling side the same thing happens. As the temperature drops the water cycle slows, there is less evaporative heat transport and fewer clouds which allow more sunlight to hit the surface. On the falling side the water cycle negative feedback appears to be insufficient to halt global glaciation in the short term. The snow and ice appears to be too good at reflecting sunlight back into space and without much water vapor in the frigid air the radiated heat has a clear shot out into space.

    So the biggest question appears to be what eventually melts a snowball earth. I would propose that soot produced by volcanoes is what eventually does it. Soot floats on top of snow and ice accumulating over time until there’s a complete melt which allows it to join the soil or the ocean instead of floating on the snow & ice. This would be much slower-acting than the water cycle. Call it the soot cycle. After thousands and thousands of years of volcanic ash darkening up the surface of the snowball earth it eventually all melts away. This action is also aided by a positive feedback where as the snow disappears it exposes dark soil or water which acts to absorb even more solar radiation.

    This explanation seems to fit pretty well with observations of alternating colder and warmer epochs during the earth’s history with upper and lower bounds which aren’t exceeded. The goofy GCM’s don’t have any mechanisms for bounding either heating or cooling so if those are right we should either be in a more or less permanent state of either frozen solid or boiling over.

    When a computer model output doesn’t match what actually happens in historical fact or the unfolding future the model is broken. Reality always trumps computer models. The CAGW crowd appears incapable of accepting any reality which disagrees with their model outputs.


  111. Louis Hissink makes mention of Thomas Gold’s The Hot, Deep Biosphere hypothesis and the possibility of methane released by anaerobic microorganisms metabolizing carbon compounds which were part of the earth’s original planetary aggregation (meaning that natural gas and liquid petrochemical “fossil fuels” might not, in truth, be fossil substances at all, and the squawking about “peak oil” might be about as well-grounded in fact as is my youngest grandchild’s fears of big boogey monsters crawling out of her closet to eat her in the night).

    Moreover, more upon the “intense plasma interaction codified by the neolithic peoples” mentioned by Mr. Hissink would be welcome. Anybody got anything more on that?

  112. “intense plasma interaction codified by the neolithic peoples” mentioned by Mr. Hissink…

    Probably has to do with the discovery by nomadic hunters who followed the great herds of a rather peculiar mushroom growing in the dung of said beasts which allow their shamans (and anyone else bold enough) to actually see plasma field interactions which they then codified into their mythology.

  113. Willis Eschenbach says:
    May 27, 2010 at 8:26 pm

    chris y says:
    May 27, 2010 at 6:55 pm

    In the equation from the article-
    DMIe = BMe^0.75 *[ (0.0119*NEma^2 + 0.1938)/NEma
    The constants 0.0119 and 0.1938 do not have to be unit-less. They would have units assigned to them so that the units balance, which of course they must for this to be an actual equation. My high school physics teacher, Clif Sosnowski, pounded that into us.

    I’d feel better about that if it seemed like the folks that wrote the IPCC article understood the concept.

    Oh good, more evidence that whatever I have to offer can be offered by others, thank you Chris.

    I agree with both statements. Chris for showing where the missing units hide out, and Willis for being annoyed the authors dropped the ball.

    The term (0.0119*NEma^2 + 0.1938)/NEma smells like a polynomial fit, in which case the coefficients have really bizarre units to let things balance.

    I think I mentioned this recently in another comment, but physics instruction give dimensional analysis short shrift. I remember an article quoted by Science News a long time ago reported improved understanding when dimensional analysis was included in the work.

    Good find on the NAP equations. I think you have enough data to send a letter to Nature Geoscience and, point out the misuse of the NAP equation and ask for clarification. $18 for a defective product? My local grocery store offers double your money back if they sell you something unsatisfactory.

    I suspect that there are a lot of papers out there with obvious flaws in dimensional analysis, just be very, very careful with the dimensions of various coefficients, especially if it’s “1”.

  114. re; hot deep biosphere

    This is more science fiction than fact. At least it’s hard (works under known principles) science fiction. In point of fact I just read a very recently written short story where hot deep life was the major plot element. In the story there was the carbon based life discussed in comments here but at an even deeper level silicon life which could only exist in exceedingly hot temperatures and could only survive very brief forays into cooler temperatures where carbon based life can dwell. The very limited overlap region is where all the action takes place.

    In reality it seems like we’ve done enough deep drilling and had enough volcanic eruptions so we could have reasonably expected to have observed a hot deep massive layer of microscopic life by now.

    I evaluate hypotheses on a rough scale as follows:

    1) impossible
    2) possible
    3) plausible
    4) likely
    5) confirmed

    For the hot deep life (carbon/DNA based) hypothesis I’d rank it between plausible and likely. Call it a 3.3 on the Springer Hypothetical Credibility Scale (SHCS). For the further speculation in the hard science fiction story of silicon-based life which requires temperatures higher than carbon-based life I’d rank it at 2.0 which is pretty near the minimum required for hard science fiction.

  115. So, either

    Megafauna eat plants, by-product methane;

    or

    Uneaten plants eventually die and rot, by-product methane.

    Seems like the Herbivore-genic Global Warming hypothesis is as much [snip] as the Anthropogenic Global Warming hypothesis.

  116. What’s really interesting about the Younger Dryas is here was this period of deglaciation and then some big happened, perhaps cosmic or volcanic, that had absolutely nothing to do with greenhouse gases and Wham! Within a few years the planet was tossed back into the bowels of an ice age.

    This shows:

    1. that rapid climate change can happen 100 times faster than today. Putting a lie to the myth that we are experiencing unprecedentedly rapid climate change.

    2. That really rapid climate change occurs mostly in and out of glaciation. The Akkadian Collapse is another example of rapid (within a few years) cooling. It’s as if, at least in the Holocene, the climate’s strange attractor lies towards cooling. Temperatures are trending up as they do in an interglacial, but with any slight perturbation, Wham! Back to rapid cooling overnight. No recent warming periods of the same speed and amplitude are known. Right?? MWP, Minoan Warming, Roman warming were all more gently inclined events. (and also not correlated to CO2 atm concentrations.)

    3. That catastrophic climate change is never towards warming…those are days of milk and honey, civilizational expansion…but towards cooling. If a new Younger Dryas were to begin tomorrow, we wouldn’t be talking about catastrophic climate change by 2090, but by 2013. It would mean the end of civilization.

    So, why we are wasting time and money on “carbon pollution” what we should be thinking about is what caused the Younger Dryas and the Akkadian Collapse? And then try to avoid a similar fate.

  117. Willis Eschenbach says:
    May 27, 2010 at 2:57 pm
    Johnny D says:
    May 27, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    Perhaps you should submit your thoughts as a comment to Nature Geoscience, where it will be printed, if it truly does have merit, along with the authors’ response. (I won’t be holding my breath, however.)

    Clearly, the authors, editors, and peer reviewers, likely experts in paleoclimatology, thought it was a worthwhile analysis. I’m going to trust their judgment more than I trust some blogger’s

    Trust climate scientists? That’s charmingly naive, Johnny. Me, I don’t trust anyone … including myself. If you think I’m wrong, I invite you to show me where.

    Finally, if you think “authors, editors, and peer reviewers” are the judge of scientific validity, you don’t understand the scientific method. A large percentage of papers printed in peer-reviewed journals, which have been approved by “authors, editors, and peer reviewers”, are shown to be false within a few years of publication.
    ========
    Willlis, regarding your analysis of the Nature Geoscience article “Methane emissions from extinct megafauna”, by Smith et al, I agree with Johnny D’s suggestion that “you should submit your thoughts as a comment to Nature Geoscience, where it will be printed, if it truly does have merit, along with the authors’ response.”

    The authors of the methane article probably know more about their work than the readers posting here, so it would be interesting to find out what the authors think about your comments and report it here as a follow-up.

  118. The reason for the infamous, rapid “re-rise” in methane (and other gases of this type) is genetic. Once our glorious forefathers ate all the big mammoths and sabretooth tigers and giant sloths, etc., etc., they gained a lot of weight and lost a lot of hair; the first picture, above, was actually taken AFTER the “Great Feast” and the genetic change took place, not before (there was actually less snow and more flowers before anyone really noticed anything different about this original AGW event). Previously, humans were very much smaller, very thin, and very hairy. This “Great Gene Shift” occured because of viral infestation and intestinal flora/fauna changes resulting from the meat of the animals consumed. This is the reason that the “Great Methane Bounce” is clearly seen on the above graphs.

    It should be noted that recent AGW data is grossly in error of actual levels. With the number of humans on the planet today being in excess of 45,326 biomass units greater than the amount of units that were ever on the planet just prior to the Younger Dryass, and these numbers are expected to double every 20 years, AGW should continue unabatted for the next 7 months.

    The AGW Hurricane Predictor for the next 6 months is for a moderately high season (wet and dry) with extreme events (hot and cold) expected for Northern Europe. Do NOT plant Palm Trees in Northern Canada before 6 June 2010.

  119. Willis:

    Another small units error–the first non-italicized paragraph under point #2:
    Given the methane change in the Younger Dryas of ~200 ppmv, this would result in a methane forcing change of a tenth of a watt per square metre (0.1 W/m2).

    Should be ~200 ppbv, right?

  120. Great Job Willis! Now what these Klowns are saying is my Native ancestors, who came here from Asia, had to have such an organized hunting method that you could bring down a Woolly Mammoth without say, yer .458 win. spear. Let alone skin it, pack and cook it. Why then there were Bison in the millions? and the Native Americans seem to have no problem in killing them but not taking too many.
    BTW I’m using “Native American” as I prefer, Indian is too confusing, to some, but I
    do resent these “Scientists” blaming the Red Man for Global Cooling. I call “Racist”!!
    -Just kidding. Next- my Celtic Ancestors get blamed for the demise of the Irish Elk
    and Dire Wolves….

  121. Willis Eschenbach says:
    May 27, 2010 at 8:32 pm(edit)

    If you get as much methane from rotting vegetation as you got from the megafauna, then variations in the numbers of megafauna would make no difference at all.

    That’s the point, while the Mega fauna is grazing on vegetation there is little vegetation left to rot to release Methane.

    The amount of vegetation converted into methane by Megafauna is roughly the same that grows back when the mega fauna is no longer around to eat it, hence Methane levels return to pre-extinction levels when the un-consumed vegetation runs riot producing massive amounts of foliage that falls to the ground to create Methane.

    This regrowth takes a while as temperatures have cooled, as the reconstruction shows.

    This graph, from the PNAS paper you linked, shows a large drop in Megafauna species around the time of the Clovis settling of the Americas.

  122. This is scientific. Not. A post-normal scientist contends that if CO2 were not colorless, we would be able to detect the increasing ppm visually. Hmmm. This scientist must not have taken 5th grade math (the year where you learn about %). The change in the % of CO2, were it blue, green, or purple with green strips, would not be detectable as a color change in our air. Hell, we can’t even see it as a line, whether it changes or not, on a % graph of all the stuff in our air. Just looks like the x axis line.

    http://www.cnn.com/2010/OPINION/05/28/reddy.oil.carbon/index.html?hpt=C2


  123. Douglas Dc writes about how the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North America “…had to have such an organized hunting method that you could bring down a Woolly Mammoth without say, yer .458 win. spear. Let alone skin it, pack and cook it. Why then there were Bison in the millions? and the Native Americans seem to have no problem in killing them but not taking too many.

    I seem to recall that foot-mobile hunters (remember, Equus ferus caballus was not reintroduced to the western hemisphere until the Spanish brought them to the New World as military mounts and pack animals) went after big herd-clumping herbivores by devising pitfalls and by engineering stampede battues.

    By ambush (hazardous!) a hunter riding Shank’s mare might get close enough to a Bison occidentalis or B. bison to wound it with a spear or with a projectile from a self bow. On horseback, however, both hunting range and the ability to close with the prey animal improve.

    As for the Plains Indians “not taking too many” of B. bison, it must be remembered that these hunter-gatherer tribes and clans competed – quite viciously, developing a warrior culture in the process – with each other to gain and defend hunting territories. The limits imposed upon these native Americans’ taking of bison derived from the native Americans’ conscious decisions to fend off rival hunting parties and the vicissitudes of life on the Neolithic technical level (meaning death by disease and starvation from time to time suppressing the hunter-gatherer populations).

    The native Americans of the high plains – where the bison was their principal economic resource – had only a very poor appreciation of the sorts of maximal resource extraction facilitated by the ownership of capital assets.

    It always works down to praxeology.

  124. One thing to note is that the temperatures dropped precipitously within a matter of decades. At the end of the Younger Dryas the temperatures rebounded even more quickly (perhaps within a decade).
    It seems more likely to me that widespread extinction of the megafauna was a consequence of the sudden drop in temps in NA rather than the other way around.

  125. You are correct sir. Fermentation is significantly impacted by temperature. It takes about 2 weeks in the summer for me to ferment it but 3 – 4 in the winter. In both cases it is done in an unheated / air conditioned spare bedroom. There is nothing like real world experience.

  126. The farting animal kill connection could, I think, be cross checked with the decimation of Buffalo herds in the previous two centuries. There are good estimates of numbers at their peak and the rapidity of the decline. I would also imagine methane levels can be proxied as well.

    My null hypothesis: Not a damned bit of correlation.

  127. According to Steven Mithen in his book “After the Ice” p.252-253 the Mammoth population had survived previous interglacials multiple times by migrating to refugia where they survived the warm times when vegetation was unfavorable, only to repopulate wider areas when the ice sheets reformed. He cites Wrangel Island as one of the last refugia after the last ice sheet retreat by recalling that Russian scientists found miniature Mammoth bones there in 1993 which they dated to around 4000 years ago. He says that the end of these mini-mammoths is coincident with the arrival of humans on Wrangel Island.

    He later theorizes that humans may have also killed off the the mammoths elsewhere because it requires only a small percentage of kills of breeding females to send a population of slow maturing and breeding animals into an irreversible decline. He also doesn’t rule out climate change as helping in the extinction.


  128. On the subject of abiotic petrochemicals and The Hot, Deep Biosphere, Dave Springer writes:

    In reality it seems like we’ve done enough deep drilling and had enough volcanic eruptions so we could have reasonably expected to have observed a hot deep massive layer of microscopic life by now.

    First, it would seem that the magma conducted to the surface by volcanic eruptions must have first sustained such heating as to make it certain not only that organic (DNA-based) life could not survive the transit, but that whatever remained thereof – including methane and petrochemical stuff – would have been denatured, volitilized, incinerated, and/or vented away before the solid, semisolid, and liquid discharges of the volcanoes present themselves.

    Second, deep drilling in oil exploration predicated upon the reasoning of the abiotic methane and petrochemicals hypothesis seems to be discovering productive reserves.

    Short stories from the pages of Analog aside, there seems to be one of those “if it’s stupid and it works, it ain’t stupid” aspects to this notion.

  129. If the Clovis people killed off the N. American mammoths, who did in the Russian ones at about the same time?

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/oct/11/mammoth-find-herders-climate-change

    This latest Greenpeace-organised expedition to study the effects of climate change did not turn up any fresh mammoth remains. But on previous trips Romanenko has stumbled across skulls, molars and tusks left behind by the 5 million mammoths that once roamed across the icy steppes of northern Eurasia, co-existing with early humans.

    But the estimated five tonnes of mammoth tusks unearthed across Russia every year are not merely objects of scientific curiosity. They are also big business.

    Woolly mammoths lived in northern Europe, Siberia and north America up to 10,000 years ago. Climate change, hunting by early humans, and even a meteorite are among theories for their abrupt disappearance. A population of 3 metre-tall dwarf mammoths survived on Russia’s Wrangel Island until 3,700 years ago.

  130. Thanks for the EPA graphic, Willis! I tried to find it & couldn’t locate that one.

    Don’t forget, Clovis man and his chums on other continents hadn’t yet invented the modern animal confinement technology, so ruminant manure & enteric methane production back then was probably a fraction of today.

    Definition of Junk Science =

  131. Rich Matarese says:
    May 28, 2010 at 4:09 am

    I believe (lol) the abiotic argument goes something like….

    The liquid is below the usual “fossil boundary”, as it were, and when liberated rises upwards dissolving some organic matter on its way to the pool where from we tap t. If we (mostly the Russians) dig deeper for it it has no organic signature. It self replenishes due to the nature of its, presumed continuous, creation.

    The other matter – electromagnetic haloes – is documented in caves by over 50 nation’s prehistoric members. The representation is front elevation normally and the halo is represented by two dots at waist level as the observer would see most manifestations in this manner.

  132. Bill S says:
    May 28, 2010 at 6:13 am

    Willis:

    Another small units error–the first non-italicized paragraph under point #2:
    Given the methane change in the Younger Dryas of ~200 ppmv, this would result in a methane forcing change of a tenth of a watt per square metre (0.1 W/m2).

    Should be ~200 ppbv, right?

    Good catch, thanks, fixed.

    w.

  133. D.S. Overcast makes an interesting point but doesn’t take it far enough. Before Europeans came to the American West there were over 40 million bison. Within 150 years their numbers had dropped to less than 1000. Now the megafauna were larger but as a total biomass the bison probably where larger. So why wasn’t there a drop in methane with the associated cooling similar to the Younger Dryas in the mid to late 1800s?

  134. Al Gored says:
    May 27, 2010 at 11:38 pm
    I’m really not sure what you are trying to say. My point was that the changes occurring at the start of the Holocene caused an increase in abundance of the anadromous salmon. This occurred for a variety of reasons including a decline in aridity and the opening of new spawning locations. Salmon have a high percentage of the populations stray and thus take advantage of new habitat quickly and the fact they are tetraploids allow them to adapt within just a few generations to new habitat. Your comment that Fraser salmon were not present to 6,000 years ago is wrong- see P. Thomlinson’s 1987 master thesis “When Cielo was Cielo: An Analysis of Salmon Use During the past 11,000 years” Also see the “Holocene History of Salmon in the Columbia Basin” http://gsa.confex.com/gsa/2003AM/finalprogram/abstract_56999.htmt
    Salmon take marine derived nutrients from the ocean and bring them to freshwater. In many regions this drives the entire ecosystem. The point I was making was that this introduction of organic material impacts the production of methane.
    My point about the bears and trees in Alaska was an example of how salmon carcasses moved into the terrestrial ecosystem from scavengers- bears, wolves, birds etc and its impact on riparian vegetation And SCAT production. Your claim that this does not occur and is a “green fairy tale” is to be kind – erroneous. (And humans by feeding on the salmon were also moving the nutrients into the terrestrial community and producing scat). Here are some papers:
    Fertilization of Riparian Vegetation by Spawning Salmon: Effects on Tree Growth and Implications for Long-Term Productivity
    James M. Helfield1 and Robert J. Naiman2
    ECOLOGY MANUSCRIPT, IN PRESS

    Transfer of Nutrients from Spawning Salmon to Riparian
    Vegetation in Western Washington
    ROBERT E. BILBY, et al Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 132:733–745, 2003
    And some others:

    http://www.springerlink.com/content/422781626m348m06/

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC156615/

    http://www.fish.washington.edu/people/naiman/Salmon_Bear/salmon_veg.html

  135. I wonder if anyone has attempted to model the state of the upper atmosphere during the ice-age periods. Would there have been a lowering of the tropopause as a result of increased IR transparency in the atmosphere or did the temperatures up there get colder for some other unspecified reason?

    I assume that typical surface temperatures must be reflect the typical tropopause temperatures by means of the adiabatic lapse-rate as long as the atmosphere between these levels remains in a state of incipient full-column convection. I believe surface heating in excess of that which can be cooled by direct or intermediate radiation to space will assure this condition.

  136. “PS – if you don’t follow the unit checking, perhaps you could tell me where I went wrong. Wouldn’t be the first time …”

    Just guessing, but maybe its not working out because you assumed the “constants” were dimensionless?

    Did the report mention anything about how much methane was produced by the humans after eating their mammoth? Or was it assumed that the humans, who otherwise may have died, produced no methane?

  137. wills,
    your questions are very valid. if one cannot explain the increase in methane, he/she should not be so bullish on the explanation of the decrease in methane. this is just plain arrogance and ignorance of the part of the authors.

    as for the constants in that wretched eqn,
    DMIe = BMe^0.75 *[ (0.0119*NEma^2 + 0.1938)/NEma]
    the coefficients were derived by simple ( most probably simpleminded ) curve fitting using MATLAB or some such tool. The constant 0.1938, SHOULD have the same units, ie. (MJ/Kg)^2, as the other term they are adding to. This kind of garbage eqns generally wind up being BS, in the longrun. there is no theoretical reason for these coefficients to be what they are.

  138. Al Gored says:
    May 27, 2010 at 11:45 pm

    Willis – re 10:32 pm

    That weight loss graph is more consistent with predation by humans than anything else. Optimal foraging theory – kill/eat the biggest ones first.

    It depends on the relative sizes between prey and predator. Foxes may go for the biggest rabbits, but lions don’t go for the bull elephants.

  139. So what is the unit for flatulent discharge? I’d think that one wooly mammoth has the same discharge rate as the cast of “Blazing Saddles” during the campfire scene. I therefore propose that this unit be called the Blazing Saddle or BS for short.

    If you see another paper on the subject of mammoth flatulence – you’ll be able to see BS through out it.

  140. Willis Eschenbach says:
    May 27, 2010 at 9:21 pm

    2. Wild animals are only at 2%. Yes, there were many more wild animals back then,

    Animals don’t stop producing methane the instant they become “domesticated”. And over 300 million hominids in North America probably do their share too.

  141. Reed Coray says:
    May 27, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    I want to know who paid for this “stinking study.”

    Blame Willis and his $18 burning a hole in his pocket…

  142. Z says:
    May 28, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    Willis Eschenbach says:
    May 27, 2010 at 9:21 pm

    2. Wild animals are only at 2%. Yes, there were many more wild animals back then,

    Animals don’t stop producing methane the instant they become “domesticated”. And over 300 million hominids in North America probably do their share too.

    The list was only “natural” (not human-related) sources of methane, which is why there is no “domesticated animal” part of the pie chart.

  143. Louis Hissink says:
    May 28, 2010 at 3:22 am

    2. The idea that the Clovis people killed the North American pachyderms is a nonsense – even today killing an elephant with wooden spears is not plausible, and in any case why did the Clovis people massacre their pachyderms and the Africans, Indiands and Chinese not?

    Sorry Louis, you are incorrect about this “nonsense.”

    For starters, these where stone tipped spears. Second, it was simple to kill them but not quickly. You just spear them in the gut and they die slowly from the wound(s), while the hunters follow them at a distance. Not “sporting” but very effective, and for a meal this large it was well worth the time.

    They have done tests on African elephants using Clovis technology to demonstrate this.

    See this: Frison, G.C. 1991. Prehistoric Hunters of the High Plains. Academic Press.

    As for the difference between mammoths in North American and elephants, the latter coevolved with human hunters and had behavioural adaptations to that while the North American mammoths did not. And if you look at the early historical records of Africa you will see that elephant and human populations did not coexist as some might imagine.

    In India they were in jungles – harder to find and hunt – and were also domesticated.

    With their slow reproductive rates these animals can be readily extirpated.

  144. Pat Moffitt says:
    May 28, 2010 at 10:58 am

    Re salmon. The Columbia system was different, and further south. For the Fraser system see several papers in Carlson, R.L, and L. Dalla Bona. 1996. Early Human Occupation in British Columbia, University of British Columbia Press.

    Here’s one quote (p 59): “it is difficult to conceive of any salmon… attaining full productivity prior to the stabilization of stream gradients about 5000 BP. Some sockeye may have been passing the Fraser Canyon as early as 7500 BP, but they could not have achieved a quantitative development equivalent to that of the historical period until 2500 years later.”

    As for the bear-salmon-nutrient story, I am very familiar with the current situation, and the papers written about it. But the current situation is a European creation made possible by the removal of indigenous people.

    Look at the historical record. Everywhere you find abundant bears on salmon streams now, you find people in early history. Bears were extremely rare and local in that early record. That is why I call it a fairy tale. Because it portrays a “wilderness” that never existed because it was full of people, whose populations were very high because of the availability of salmon, and who excluded bears.

    See this: Birkedal, T. 1993. Ancient Hunters in the Alaskan Wilderness: Human Predation and Their Role and Effect on Wildlife Populations for Resource Management. 7th Conference on Research & Resource Management In Parks and On Public Lands. The George Wright Society.

    It looks at two specific areas. One is the Brooks River in Katmai NP, where today one can see dozens of bears on salmon streams and has the highest bear densities in North America. The current streamflow there, which makes catching salmon easy, developed by about 4,000 years ago and, after that, “village followed village to form a vast archaeological complex along the whole length of the river… Nearly 900 house and structural depressions are visible on the surface alone.”

    The abundance of bears there now is a recent phenomenon… “brown bears were a rare sight on the river in the 1930s and 1940s… as lates as the 1960s, Professor Don Dumond… primary investigator at Brooks River, seldom saw more than eight individual bears” in a whole summer season. Now you can see 25 at a time in short prime stretches.

    Same story almost everywhere along the Pacific coast and tributaries where salmon were available. High human densities excluded bears. Called competitive exclusion. Basic ecology.

    Needless to say, the Conservation Biologists who believe in some “pristine wilderness” where Native Americans were rare, primitive and had no impacts don’t like these facts, and do their best to ignore or dismiss them, but that just tells you what kind of pseudoscience that really is.

    And you do know that Lewis and Clark saw almost no bears around the Columbia and no grizzly bears west of the Bitterroots, don’t you? Instead they saw lots and lots of people, with salmon-fed populations.


  145. Regarding salmon in the Columbia and Fraser systems, Al Gored writes of how “Everywhere you find abundant bears on salmon streams now, you find people in early history. Bears were extremely rare and local in that early record.

    There is a puzzling tendency in modern scholarly and popular writing to exclude Homo sapiens from the “natural” order of things, as if there was no ecological niche into which our own species evolved long before we achieved the widespread capacity for time-binding, recordkeeping, higher-order intellectual function, and the transmission of abstract concepts by way of written language.

    (What I find surprising about the industrial revolution is that it took such an astonishingly long time for it to happen. Anybody else a fan of L. Sprague de Camp’s Lest Darkness Fall [1939]? Speculative fiction writers from the time of Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee [1889] have been fiddling with time travel ideas and “alternative histories” based on the transplantation of modern ideas to past situations in which there was objectively fertile ground for those memes to catch on and take effect.)

    Al Gored‘s point about the pre-Columbian population of the American and Canadian northwest has to be kept in mind. Though their economic status was that of a Neolithic culture without significant agricultural elements, they were efficient in their exploitation of the resources available for a hunter-gatherer system of sustenance, and their way of life was robust in that it did not appear to “eat itself out of house and home.”

    It was only after the autochthonous hominids got shoved out of that salmon-exploiting niche by hominids armed and engined by an industrial and agricultural civilization (and therefore better capable of waging war) that the present populations of ursine megafauna moved in to less efficiently fish these waters.

    But human beings were a very natural part of “the natural order of things” in those many centuries prior to the arrival of the Europeans, and cannot simply be dismissed as an extraneous intrusion upon the ecosphere, no matter how fervent is this “only man is vile” romantic sentiment among modern scholars and other bloody fools.

  146. Willis,

    I see from some of the comments here that you are aware of the comet impact theory that resulted in this most recent mass extinction. There is a great deal of evidence that this impact did indeed occur and that the resulting conflagration resulted in the end of the Clovis as well as the megafauna. As I recall the researchers who first started putting the pieces of this puzzle together were scientists at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. The initial inquiry that ultimately led to the theory was what was the cause of a spike of atmospheric C12 concentrations at that same time. Relative to the Younger Dryas, it has been thought that these comet impacts into the great mass of glacial ice in the Hudson Bay and Lake Michigan area resulted in a great meltdown that caused the ocean current changes that resulted in the return to glacial conditions as pointed out in a previous post.

    Have you or Anthony thought about putting a post together on this topic? Or has it already been done?

  147. Willis asked “Why do we have to make these decisions in “the next few weeks”? What’s your urgency? If you are right, we won’t see deleterious effects for decades … so why the urgency? Twenty-five years ago James Hansen said we had to act immediately … and now there has been no statistically significant warming for the last fifteen years. You can cry “Wolf!” all you want, my friend … we’ve heard it before.”

    Because there is bill in the U.S. Senate that will pass or not in the next view weeks. I should have been more specific.

    Also: If x has units then ax+b can only possibly makes sense if a and/or b have units. In this case one can deduce what the units need to be. The paper’s authors assume a certain level of competence in the reader. Your not knowing to do this is an easy mistake for a layperson to make. But it is not the sort of mistake someone qualified to write in this area would make. You are not stupid, but you are not competent in science. Your opinions should weighted accordingly.

  148. Mike says:
    May 29, 2010 at 3:13 pm,

    Two questions:

    1. Have you been published in a scientific peer reviewed journal?

    2. Would you like to retract your statement to Willis that “…you are not competent in science.”?

  149. Z says:
    May 28, 2010 at 3:05 pm
    Al Gored says:
    May 27, 2010 at 11:45 pm

    Willis – re 10:32 pm

    That weight loss graph is more consistent with predation by humans than anything else. Optimal foraging theory – kill/eat the biggest ones first.

    It depends on the relative sizes between prey and predator. Foxes may go for the biggest rabbits, but lions don’t go for the bull elephants.

    ———-

    True in general Z. But human hunting groups armed with only stone age weapons were capable of killing anything and everything, including mammoths and elephants.

  150. Mark Nutley says:
    May 27, 2010 at 3:27 pm

    “The clovis people had arrowheads, look them up…”

    Sorry Mark, but this doesn’t make sense, at all. Think you must be confused about this. What is your source?

  151. The almost instant extinction of the majority of NA megafauna caused by a relatively small number (a few tens of thousands?) of human immigrants seemed absurd when I first read about yrs ago. It still does.

    The YD impact theory makes more sense given the current evidence, but it’s still not a sure thing. There’s no impact crater, but we already know destructive airbursts can occur without creating them (Siberia). Perhaps shallow crater(s) were produced in the mile-thick glaciers & the evidence melted away.

    Someone previously stated that the YD also shows a remarkable change in Carbon14. C14 is produced by cosmic rays. I don’t know how an impact can cause such a change. Did the impact somehow bollix-up the C14 assimilation in the biosphere? Or was there some other astronomical event that caused the disaster? A WAG would be a shock-front from a supernova-like event vastly increasing cosmic-ray exposure (but how would that create nanodiamonds?) But I’d think some evidence of such a recent shock-front would still be detectable today in nearby space.

    Eventually the cause of the YD will be figured out, but it may take many yrs. But “we” didn’t cause it or the megafauna extinctions.

  152. Mike says:
    May 29, 2010 at 3:13 pm

    Willis asked

    “Why do we have to make these decisions in “the next few weeks”? What’s your urgency? If you are right, we won’t see deleterious effects for decades … so why the urgency? Twenty-five years ago James Hansen said we had to act immediately … and now there has been no statistically significant warming for the last fifteen years. You can cry “Wolf!” all you want, my friend … we’ve heard it before.”

    Because there is bill in the U.S. Senate that will pass or not in the next view weeks. I should have been more specific.

    Thanks, Mike, that make much more sense.

    Also: If x has units then ax+b can only possibly makes sense if a and/or b have units. In this case one can deduce what the units need to be. The paper’s authors assume a certain level of competence in the reader. Your not knowing to do this is an easy mistake for a layperson to make. But it is not the sort of mistake someone qualified to write in this area would make. You are not stupid, but you are not competent in science. Your opinions should weighted accordingly.

    Oh, please. The problem is that they did not correctly copy the units from the source document. The source document clearly states that the units of the answer are in kg^0.75. Smith et al. say that the units of the answer are in kg. That is not my mistake, it is theirs.

    In addition, the source document clearly lists all of the units of the constants in their equations. The Smith article did not do so. I did not say that their equations were wrong because of that. I said that I found it worrisome that they would be cavalier about the units … and when I explored the question further, I found that my concerns were justified. I found that they in fact were using the wrong units.

    You say “In this case one can deduce what the units need to be.” Sorry, but that is a very naive assumption, particularly in climate science. In this case, we can’t deduce that because the units that they do show are incorrect.

    In addition, your claim that I am “not competent in science” is unfounded. I have published several peer reviewed articles in the journals, including a peer-reviewed “Brief Communication Arising” in Nature Magazine … so clearly, they thought I was competent.

    Now, I could say that the fact that you didn’t notice that they were using kg when the source document used kg^0.75 indicates that you are a “layman” who is “not competent in science” … but that is not the case for either of us. You merely assumed that what units they did put in were right, so we could deduce the rest … but your assumption was wrong.

    The problem with their leaving out the units is that we can’t check their work. As a result, I had to go back to the source document to find that they were using incorrect units. It is very poor practice to leave out the units, because you can’t tell if they balance or not … as any scientist would know. You seem to think that my insistence on the importance of the units was misplaced, or that it was a sign of my ignorance.

    But in fact, the lack of the units kept them (and you) from noticing that they ended up with an incorrect final unit. I can’t tell from their paper whether this made a difference in the final answers, but I suspect it did.

    So which of us is the layman here? I’d say neither of us … but I’m the one that found the units error, not you. So your arrogant, patronizing attitude is totally inappropriate.

  153. beng says:
    May 30, 2010 at 7:46 am

    “The almost instant extinction of the majority of NA megafauna caused by a relatively small number (a few tens of thousands?) of human immigrants seemed absurd when I first read about yrs ago. It still does.”

    It would seem much less absurd if you would read this:

    Martin, P.S. 2002. Prehistoric Extinctions: In the Shadow of Man in Kay, C.E., and R.T. Simmons (eds.) 2002. Wilderness & Political Ecology: Aboriginal Influences & the Original State of Nature, The University of Utah Press.

    Great global review. Megafauna extinctions wherever/whenever modern humans showed up, not just in the New World.

    Earliest one happened in Australia starting about 40,000 years BP.

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