Why the CO2 increase is man made (part 1)

For a another view on the CO2 issue, please see also the guest post by Tom Vonk: CO2 heats the atmosphere…a counter view -Anthony

Guest Post by Ferdinand Engelbeen

Image from NOAA Trends in Carbon Dioxide: http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/

There have been hundreds of reactions to the previous post by Willis Eschenbach as he is convinced that humans are the cause of the past 150 years increase of CO2 in the atmosphere. For the (C)AGW theory, that is one of the cornerstones. If that fails, the whole theory fails.

This may be the main reason that many skeptics dont like the idea that humans are the cause of the increase and try to demolish the connection between human emissions and the measured increase in the atmosphere with all means, some more scientific than others.

After several years of discussion on different discussion lists, skeptic and warmist alike, I have made a comprehensive web page where all arguments are put together: indeed near the full increase of CO2 in the atmosphere is caused by the human emissions. Only a small part might have been added by the (ocean) warming since the LIA. That doesnt mean that the increase has a tremendous effect on the warming of the earths surface, as that is a completely different discussion. But of course, if the CO2 increase was mainly/completely natural, the discussion of the A in AGW wouldnt be necessary. But it isnt natural, as the mass balance proves beyond doubt and all other observations agree with. And all alternative explanations fail one or more observations. In the next parts I will touch other items like the process characteristics, the 13C and 14C/12C ratio, etc. Finally, I will touch some misconceptions about decay time of extra CO2, ice cores, historical CO2 measurements and stomata data.

The mass balance:

As the laws of conservation of mass rules: no carbon can be destroyed or generated. As there are no processes in the atmosphere which convert CO2 to something else, the law also holds for CO2, as long as it stays in the atmosphere. This means that the mass balance should be obeyed for all situations. In this case, the increase/decrease of the CO2 level in the atmosphere after a year (which only shows the end result of all exchanges, including the seasonal exchanges) must be:

dCO2(atm) = CO2(in1 + in2 + in3 +) + CO2(em) CO2(out1 + out2 + out3 +)

The difference in the atmosphere after a year is the sum of all inflows, no matter how large they are, or how they changed over the years, plus the human emissions, minus the sum of all outflows, no matter how large they are, wherever they take place. Some rough indication of the flows involved is here in Figure 1 from NASA:

From all those flows very few are known to any accuracy. What is known with reasonable accuracy are the emissions, which are based on inventories of fossil fuel use by the finance departments (taxes!) of different countries and the very accurate measurements of the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere on a lot of places on earth, including Mauna Loa.

Thus in the above CO2 mass balance, we can replace some of the items with the real amounts (CO2 amounts expressed in gigaton carbon):

4 GtC = CO2(in1 + in2 + in3 +) + 8 GtC CO2(out1 + out2 + out3 +)

Or rearranged:

CO2(in1 + in2 + in3 +) CO2(out1 + out2 + out3 +) = – 4 GtC

Without any knowledge of any natural flow in or out of the atmosphere or changes in such flows, we know that the sum of all natural outflows is 4 GtC larger than the sum of all natural inflows. In other words, the net increase of the atmospheric CO2 content caused by all natural CO2 ins and outs together is negative. There is no net natural contribution to the observed increase, nature as a whole acts as a sink for CO2. Of course, a lot of CO2 is exchanged over the seasons, but at the end of the year, that doesnt add anything to the total CO2 mass in the atmosphere. That only adds to the exchange rate of individual molecules: some 20% per year of all CO2 in the atmosphere is refreshed by the seasonal exchanges between atmosphere and oceans/vegetation. That can be seen in the above scheme: about 210 GtC CO2 is exchanged, but not all of that reaches the bulk of the atmosphere. Best guess (based on 13C/12C and oxygen exchanges) is that some 60 GtC is exchanged back and forth over the seasons between the atmosphere and vegetation and some 90 GtC is exchanged between the atmosphere and the oceans. These flows are countercurrent: warmer oceans release more CO2 in summer, while vegetation has its largest uptake in summer. In the NH, vegetation wins (more land), in the SH there is hardly any seasonal influence (more ocean). There is more influence near ground than at altitude and there is a NH-SH lag (which points to a NH source). See figure 2:

Fig. 2 is extracted by myself from monthly average CO2 data of the four stations at the NOAA ftp site: ftp://ftp.cmdl.noaa.gov/ccg/co2/in-situ/

The net result of all these exchanges is some 4 GtC sink rate of the natural flows, which is variable: the variability of the natural sink capacity is mostly related to (ocean) temperature changes, but that has little influence on the trend itself, as most of the variability averages out over the years. Only a more permanent temperature increase/decrease should show a more permanent change in CO2 level. The Vostok ice core record shows that a temperature change of about 1°C gives a change in CO2 level of about 8 ppmv over very long term. That indicates an about 8 ppmv increase for the warming since the LIA, less than 10% of the observed increase.

As one can see in Fig. 3 below, there is a variability of +/- 1 ppmv (2 GtC) around the trend over the past 50 years, while the trend itself is about 55% of the emissions, currently around 2 ppmv (4 GtC) per year (land use changes not included, as these are far more uncertain, in that case the trend is about 45% of the emissions + land use changes).

Fig. 3 is combined by myself from the same source as Fig.2 for the Mauna Loa CO2 data (yearly averages in this case) and the US Energy Information Agency http://www.eia.doe.gov/iea/carbon.html

We could end the whole discussion here, as humans have added about twice the amount of CO2 to the atmosphere as the observed increase over the past 150 years, the difference is absorbed by the oceans and/or vegetation. That is sufficient proof for the human origin of the increase, but there is more that points to the human cause… as will be shown in the following parts.

Please note that the RULES FOR THE DISCUSSION OF ATTRIBUTION OF THE CO2 RISE still apply!

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613 thoughts on “Why the CO2 increase is man made (part 1)

  1. Anthony, why are these opposing views? They’re discussing completely different issues and do not exclude each other.

  2. Is it just me or are these two posts about CO2 not counter points? I would have rather compared two posts about CO2’s ability to warm the atmosphere, or conversely, whether or not the increase in CO2 is measured correctly and that it is anthropogenic. The two posts presented really can’t be compared to each other in terms of classical debate structure.

    REPLY: Pam, it’s a word borrowed from Tom Vonk’s title which had “counter view” in it, where I should have said “another” instead of “counter”. I’ve made a change to be more accurate. My point in the link was that we cover both sides of the CO2 issues here, pro and con. And, as we see in comments below, no good deed goes unpunished. – Anthony

  3. As a left critic of AGW, I have little doubt that the majority of increase in CO2 in human caused. And I have been called a fascist and mass murderer – not to mention an idiot – on liberal web sites for expressing skepticism about the modeling and policy imperatives that the AGW community has inferred from the above basic observation.

    First, there is a false precision about much of the scientific data presented – from temperature records to the relative greenhouse impacts of various gasses. I recall when I was in sixth grade how upset I was with the mathematical concept of significance – i.e. discarding 16 single units when another data point was measured to the nearest 1000 units. “How could one simply throw away 16 perfectly good units?” I protested.

    Second, the geometric expansion of error in nearly every model developed makes any “prediction” practically worthless. The IPCC claim of a 7C temperature increase is nothing more than an Ouija board prediction of the future. The fact the many of the same modeling elements are used in long-range forecasts that predicted the barbeque summers in Britain or missed the recent record cold events in South American or snow on the Eastern Seaboard show the limitations of any long-range modeling. To what degree recent temperature increases are part of natural temperature fluctuations, rebound from the LIA, and greenhouse impacts remains uncertain.

    Finally, the policy imperatives do NOT necessarily follow from any increase in CO2. Even if there is a moderate increase in world temperatures – which is by no means a given – there are a range of responses other than restriction of CO2 emissions and the concomitant impacts that this will have on human societies. One of the primary failures of Copenhagen – and it was a huge failure – was the underlying neocolonialism of the framing of carbon reduction. In other words, “We can drive, but y’all need to keep your oxcarts.” In Western nations, although public opinion tends to support AGW in vague generalities, when specifics are framed opposition tends to be strong. As a progressive, I am loathe to see CO2-based climate demands steal most of the oxygen from other, far more important issues that are the core of progressive values – human rights, equitable incomes, conflict resolution, and environmental sustainability.

  4. “For a counter view on this issue, please see also the guest post by Tom Vonk”

    Huh? One post is about why there’s more CO2 in the atmosphere. The other is about what that CO2 might do, while it’s there. These aren’t even close to being counter views on the same issue.

    REPLY: Well I borrowed the word from his title, and I should have used “another view. I’ve changed it to “For a another view on the CO2 issue”, just to make you happy. I’m simply trying to point out that I cover both sides.

    Thanks for recognizing that unlike some other blogs you frequent and support, we offer both pro and con sides of the issues, both in full posts and in comments. – Anthony

  5. Will Mr Engelbeen be as “responsible” when he’ll discuss Beck or just like on his page, simply biased?

    REPLY: You’ll have to include me. I don’t think Beck’s work is worth much in the context of trends because many of the historical samples he cites were done by less accurate chemical reduction methods and taken in cities with little or no quality control from point to point or metadata. Like with temperature and UHI/siting issues, I don’t think cities are a good sampling place for global trends in CO2 either. – Anthony

  6. I have great respect for Ferdinand’s logic and math, but I think he may be wrong about this. Julian Flood posted here last week and said that there are different types of plankton in the ocean which prefer different isotopes of carbon. If I understood him correctly, at the moment, the plankton type which preferentially absorbs the ‘natural’ carbon isotope is in the ascendency. This leaves more of the ‘fossil fuel’ isotope in the atmosphere as the alleged fingerprint of human co2 emission being the cause of increased levels in the atmosphere.

  7. Wouldn’t long-term effects of (pre-treaty) above-ground nuclear tests pose major problems for comparative 14^C? I am assuming that Ferdinand posits that anthropogenic CO2, being fossil fuel-based, will have almost no 14^C (thus 14^C levels will fall in atmosphere relative to 12^C with industrial activities?).

  8. I think you have seriously underestimated the impact on the oceans outguessing CO2 as they warm! Look at the ice core data, CO2 has repeatedly risen 200 to 800 years after Earth’s temperatures began to rise. This happened repeatedly and long before man’s influence. The rate and magnitude of those changes are very close to what we see in the past 150 years, especially when you consider we are near historic lows for CO2 concentration for the past 10 million years. Oceans outgas CO2 as they warm, this is the source of the majority of the 100 ppm increase in CO2 concentration over the time since the end of the LIA. You need to seriously re-evaluate you mass balance estimates for the oceans. As they warm, they outgas CO2 in massive quantities!

    Let’s also look at the opposite end of the equation. The ice core data also shows that CO2 concentrations drop 800 to 2,000 years after the Earth’s temperatures begin falling. Since vegation thrives under high CO2 and higher temps, it is obvious that vegetation will decrease as the temperatures fall. Therefore, the only sink for CO2 that can account for the measured decrease is the oceans! Again, man played no role in those temperatue or CO2 changes shown by the ice core data!

  9. Pamela Gray says:
    August 5, 2010 at 8:02 am

    Is it just me or are these two posts about CO2 not counter points?

    Indeed, there is no link between the two discussions, as mine is about the cause of the increase, while Tom Vonk’s is about the effect of the increase…

    Still, some influential sceptics like (or hope) to prove that the increase is not anthropogenic (as several posts at WUWT from the -even recent- past show), as that makes that the influence doesn’t matter at all…

    REPLY: Ferdinand, it’s a word borrowed from Tom Vonk’s title which had “counter view” in it, where I should have said “another” instead of “counter”. I’ve made a change to be more accurate. My point in the link was that we cover both sides of the CO2 issues here, pro and con. And, as we see in comments, no good deed goes unpunished.

    You could, simply thank me for publishing both pro and con, unlike many other blogs on climate.

    – Anthony

  10. To be honest this discussion is really not very interesting. Does anyone still dispute the fact that mankind has increased the amount of Co2 in the atmosphere? I implicitly accept this as being the case whenever I start my car.

    In my humble opinion what would be more interesting to know is whether nature has a mechanism (centennial, millennial) that will adjust to compensate, i.e. are CO2 levels (step changes notwithstanding) broadly stable? I think perhaps increasing CO2 + Land clearance (replacing vegetation with asphalt) will probably affect any such feedback, i.e. it will no longer function as it may have in the past.

  11. Well, aside from the sources of CO2, and the sinks, and the fact that the gas has been increasing in quantity lately, I see nothing which hasn’t been discussed to death previously.

    So what if the CO2 is increasing? It was far higher in the geological record in the past, and the Earth’s temperature preceded both the rise and the fall.

    What caused the Roman Warming period? What cause the Medieval Warm period? What caused the Little Ice Age?

    Blaming CO2 for anything is like blaming a child for needing new clothes because he’s outgrown his current wardrobe.

    Back to square one.

  12. I missed something here. Where did the 4GT/year come from?

    The only accurate way would be to estimate it from the 2 ppm increase per year.

  13. Apparently the rises in CO2 levels have been going on for about 150 years – and on a relatively straight upward curve.
    I’m slightly confused by this, as early rises in CO2 seem to be larger than possible for human emissions alone, which were much lower at the end of the 19th century.
    In fact according to my own graphs (amatuer I admit) it wasn’t actually possible for human emmision to be responsible for the entire rise in CO2 until the 1940s.

    Yet another misnomer is the contradiction between exponential growth of human emissions and the linear growth of CO2 in the atmosphere.

    Why doesn’t your Nasa figure show the largest Carbon Sink – Chalk. By far the greatest depositry for carbon, all of which must have been at some time in the atmosphere.

  14. tallbloke says:
    August 5, 2010 at 8:17 am

    Julian Flood posted here last week and said that there are different types of plankton in the ocean which prefer different isotopes of carbon. If I understood him correctly, at the moment, the plankton type which preferentially absorbs the ‘natural’ carbon isotope is in the ascendency. This leaves more of the ‘fossil fuel’ isotope in the atmosphere as the alleged fingerprint of human co2 emission being the cause of increased levels in the atmosphere.

    This first part is only about the mass balance, without looking at the isotope ratio’s. Only based on the mass balance, there is no room for any additional CO2 from nature. In one of the next parts, the isotope balance and the oxygen balance will be interpreted. These add to the evidence of the human origin, but don’t give absolute proof. But the mass balance does…

  15. Interesting points made and yes possibly believable, although I always wonder at the validity of the measurements. You have to remember the statement for the last one hundred and fifty years, before that according to what I understand the co2 measurements were far higher some of the time so explain that away. I often think we dont know as much about these issues as is claimed. Where did all that co2 go in the past? How do you know where it is? I think a lot of these theories come from a desire to be an expert or a lust for the money.

  16. Anyone who does not understand that the burning of fossil fuels is the main cause of the regular increase in CO2 that is has been documented over the last 50+ years is clearly unable to understand basic science. It’s also true that the two views posted here are not opposites and are not mutually exclusive. Also, to the best of my understanding, the first one on the greeen house effect does not really contradict the role of GHG in climate.

  17. If, as a previous post suggests, phytoplankton are decreasing, this would have a significant effect on CO2 in the atmosphere. They are one of methods the oceans use to sink CO2, using their CO2 intake to build their skeletons and then sink to the bottom of the ocean when they die. So perhaps the increase in CO2 we see is due to the decrease in phytoplankton. What causes the decrease in phytoplankton? Lack of nutrients would seem an obvious answer, perhaps due to pollution of the oceans? Has anyone proved that ocean warming can reduce the phytoplankton population rather than just correlating global temperature and phytoplankton numbers?

  18. Like “tallbloke,” my ears also perked up when I read Julian Flood’s ideas. Unfortunately I’m afraid such ideas do not get encouraged by funding, due the politics involved.

    I always felt Jaworowki’s ideas about the ice-cores having flaws and weaknesses deserved more credit than he received. Instead he was treated like a modern day Copernicus.

    My intuition tells me that CO2 must rise and fall more than the ice-core records show. Without any scientific backing, I feel major volcanic eruptions, especially the ones involving vents passing through limestone, should inject massive amounts of CO2 into the world-wide system, and should show in the ice-core record as sharp peaks followed by gradual valleys. Because the ice-core record shows no such events, even over hundreds of thousands of years, I imagine some sort of mixing process occurs in the ice, and the bubbles are not as “pristine” as so many people blithely assume.

    Ideas such as the two I mentioned above could throw a wrench into the preconceptions people have about what CO2 is “man-made,” and what is the “normal” level of CO2 in the atmosphere. However I feel anyone who threatens the current preconceptions will be most definitely a pariah, more due to politics.

  19. Basic logic error! The formula is:

    dCO2(atm) = CO2(in1 + in2 + in3 + in4…) – CO2(out1 + out2 + out3 + out4…)

    Where: in1, in2, in3, in4… ALL vary over time
    The number of inputs may not have been fully defined
    out1, out2, out3, out4… ALL vary over time
    The number of outputs may not have been fully defined
    And dCO2(atm) observations vary with time of day, season, wind speed,
    location, altitude, temperature….

    ALL are subject to interpretation (to put it mildly)

  20. The Barrow and the Mauna Loa CO2 concentrations drop between June and October, but do not in Antarctica. Is this reflecting the growing season in both a northern temperate forest and the oceanic phytoplancton? As the pCO2 goes down during the warmer period of both areas, it can’t be degassing of the nearby ocean. Antarctica, being plant-free and a continental reading, wouldn’t show the biological changer, and doesn’t. The greater rise in pCO2 in the cool months … degassing and plant respiration during cold times???
    If so, are we seeing the ability of the biosphere to remove CO2? Any sign of it increasing or decreasing through time?

  21. Did anybody say we didn’t increase co2 in the air? I don’t get this who is he arguing against?

  22. What I still don’t understand is that if the natural outflow is 4GT greater than the natural inflow, then how come atmospheric CO2 levels didn’t drop to virtually nothing after all the thousands of years before man started burning fossil fuels?

  23. What is known with reasonable accuracy are the emissions, which are based on inventories of fossil fuel use by the finance departments (taxes!) of different countries…

    Could you please elaborate on how this is done? Is the dollar amount of taxes received for the sales tax on fossil fuel used? Is there some other method?

  24. 1) What efforts have been made to determine how constant incoming cosmic rays have been to earth on all timescales? Could a change in C14 production due to fluctuations in cosmic ray intensity be more responsible for any correlation in this regards?

    2) My understanding is that C13, being a byproduct of decay of Nitrogen-13 (half-life 10 min), which is itself a product of proton collision with atomic Oxygen, could be a product of cosmic rays entering the atmosphere. So I reiterate question 1 with regards to C13, providing there is no physics reason I am unaware of that would prevent cosmic rays from creating N13 from H+O16 (too low KE, etc..)

    Thank you for your time answering these questions.

  25. Tallbloke: I read that as well, but I’m unaware of any other isotopically specific chemical or biological processes, I’ve got a few large grains of salt I’m taking that with. Isotopes have identical orbital structures and would appear chemically identical, no?

    Can anyone point to resources indicating isotopically (isotopicly?) specific chemical/biological reactions.

    If one could selective chemically react with specific isotopes, the whole centrifugal U235 separation process (and thus our concerns about the numbers of centrifuges certain countries have) would be unnecessary.

  26. Before I begin to discuss why I don’t buy this particular argument, let me just say that I do believe humanity has caused some increase in the overall levels of CO2. I find most of the discussion presented in this post hard to swallow, though because of the following points:

    1. “As there are no processes in the atmosphere which convert CO2 to something else” that we know of. Even if that is true (and I’ll readily admit I don’t know), we don’t know, with any certainty, what the natural process’s net effect is. (see my next point).
    2. “From all those flows very few are known to any accuracy.” In other words, there’s no way for us to determine what the natural world can actually do with CO2, but our limited amount of knowledge SUGGESTS blah blah blah
    3. “Without any knowledge of any natural flow in or out of the atmosphere or changes in such flows, we know that the sum of all natural outflows is 4 GtC larger than the sum of all natural inflows. In other words, the net increase of the atmospheric CO2 content caused by all natural CO2 ins and outs together is negative.” If I’m reading this statement correctly, without human emissions, CO2 would eventually disappear from the atmosphere entirely because the net NATURAL increase is negative (meaning an overall decrease year after year).
    4. “There is no net natural contribution to the observed increase, nature as a whole acts as a sink for CO2.” See item #2 where it is admitted that we don’t know the natural in and out flows with any accuracy. If we have no accurate measurements, how can this assertion be made?
    5. “The Vostok ice core record shows that a temperature change of about 1°C gives a change in CO2 level of about 8 ppmv over very long term. That indicates an about 8 ppmv increase for the warming since the LIA, less than 10% of the observed increase.” I seem to remember a previous discussion on this blog about the reliability of ice core records due to diffusion of CO2 from the trapped air bubbles. Hasn’t it been shown that due to diffusion over long periods of time that the levels of various gases in the ice core samples should NOT be considered representative of the atmospheric conditions when the bubble was formed?

    All that said, I am not naive enough to state that humanity has not added to the levels of CO2 in the atmosphere. That would require complete disregard for chemistry and common sense. What I am saying is that these bits of “evidence” are not very strong.

    Most importantly, though, the ultimate questions remain. Where is there any shred of evidence that this increase in CO2 has done anything to warm the planet? What temperature SHOULD the planet be? Does a global average of temperatures (even if one could be accurately measured) mean anything when none of us are affected by the global mean temperature, but rather by our local weather?

  27. Pamela Gray. I concurr.

    Totally unrelated.
    Mauna Kea glacier expansion traced to slower North Atlantic current in last ice age.

    http://www.staradvertiser.com/news/20100805_Faraway_current_set_off_Mauna_Kea_glacier.html

    And note:
    “The ancient system also may have stirred up old carbon-rich deep waters, contributing to the increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide, the scientists said.

    “This could have catalyzed further warming and accelerated the glacial meltdown,” Menviel said.”
    —-
    Frankly I am uncertain how calcium carbonate or sediment contributes to atmospheric CO2 in this scenario. The usual vehicle is volcanism. But a good article.

  28. Surely this mass balance argument if flawed, since it assumes that CO2 is simply passed around the biosphere and any increase must have come from burning fossil fuels. If that was the case then CO2 would have remained constant throughout geological time. Yet as we know, CO2 can come from inorganic processes, such as volcanoes, calcium compounds in rocks, sea water etc.

  29. So far this seems to be an incomplete analysis: I have the following questions:

    1. What is the total reservoir of biologically available carbon in soil, lake and ocean sediment and rock (eg oil in shale and oil sands) for the Earth?

    2. What is the rate of conversion of that carbon to CO2 by bacteria/fungi/insects?

    3. If the Earth warms, do the bacteria/fungi/insects increase in biomass (change in number of individuals x size of individuals? Do they increase in activity, hence converting carbon reserves to CO2 at a higher rate per unit of biomass?

    4. We know that bacteria “eat” oil, presumably creating CO2. Is this process temperature sensitive? Is it limited to oil seeps or does it occur in deep oil collections such as shales and sands?

    5. How accurate are the ice core data really?

    6. If humans have caused the recent CO2 increases, what caused the previous CO2 increases? Did the CO2 follow the temp up, lead it, or change contemporaneously?

    7. I do not doubt that human activity is part, maybe a large part of recent CO2 change, but I am skeptical that the various factors, such as I mention above, are understood with nearly the certainty precisions pretended to in the claims that humans are the cause of almost all of the recent CO2 increases in the atmosphere.
    Total biomass of bacteria, fungi, and insects dwarfs humans and human industrial activity, including in overall CO2 production, as I understand it. A small percentage change in non-human biologic production of CO2 could have a large change in gross amounts emitted and ought to be measured and be part of the discussion.

  30. The Engineer has a very valid point. If fossil fuel consumption is the culprit, the percent CO2 increase should be increasing, not remain steady. An interesting correlation should be explored between increased fuel use over time versus CO2 rise. The null hypothesis would be that there is no significant correlation. Or else we would see a CO2 hockey stick instead of the steady ML pump http://cdiac.ornl.gov/trends/co2/graphics/SIOMLOINSITUTHRU2008.JPG. The only explanation for a lack of correlation would be a silly one, that somehow, the isotope for fossil fuel based CO2 is causing less natural CO2 emissions. Given that we have measured the greening of the planet, that explanation would be false.

  31. There was one critical factor left out of the above, that is temperatures.

    A certain percentage of CO2 I believe is emitted absorped according to the ocean temps. We know this mechanism does exist simply from ice cores that shows CO2 swinging up and down through the millenia. Could this be happening on shorter timescales. Well it must be, otherwise it wouldn’t happen over longer timescales, the question is then by how much.

    Surely it isn’t just coincidence that when the SST is low there is a lower increase than when they’re high.

    So are we saying this then?

    i.e. in years that CO2 increases are low there are low SST’s is a pure coincidence, that just so happens to have been occuring consistently since CO2 measurements began.

  32. I have always believed that humans have contributed signficantly to the CO2 rise in the atmosphere over the past 150 years or so. I need to be convinced, though, of the accuracy of the ice core measurements. Its hard for me to envision CO2 trapped in a thin layer of ice under enormous overburden ice pressures with no migration of the gas. I envision the CO2 in a snow layer at the surface containing atmospheric air subsequently being covered, pressed with expulsion of most of the “trapped” air into the new overlying layers. Or worse, the CO2 dissolved in the snow as it falls plus the atmospheric air trapped. Heck, we get diffusion of elements through solid rock and crystallized minerals (eg: in pegmatites the lithium aluminum silicate mineral spodumene has been invaded by sodium solutions and replaced by the sodium aluminium silicate mineral albite in part or wholly without destroying the original crystal shape – ice wouldn’t be so formidable a barrier to diffusion. If it is rather a proxy calculation based on isotope ratios, then there is room for significant error in converting this to CO2 in the ancient atmosphere.

    Does anyone also measure the nitrogen, oxygen and noble gas concentrations in the ice cores? Such gas ratios may be more indicative of the CO2 content at the time. My thoughts arose on this when I saw the ice core/Mauna Loa CO2 graph of Willis’s – it was just too darn smooth for me.

  33. Models vs measurement again. This is a large planet and lord knows what CO2 might be spewing out in the 67% that is covered by water and I did not see any measurement devices in the plumes when Pinatubo or Mt St Helens went off. I did see a pretty good analysis of ice core data that would lead one to believe that the CO2 increase corresponds nicely with population increase over the last 8000 or so years but I’m not sure who was doing the census back then. Also, still the cause and effect problem. I’ll give you a “possible” but not a “for sure”, by any means. Newton thought he had it pegged pretty well too and then came Einstein and even his results may only be an approximation of reality. Call it the “Jim G uncertainty principle”, kind of like the Heisenberg one of the same name but with less math, just logic.

  34. BillD says:

    Anyone who does not understand that the burning of fossil fuels is the main cause of the regular increase in CO2 that is has been documented over the last 50+ years is clearly unable to understand basic science.

    Anyone who makes unsupported blanket statements of this sort is clearly unable to understand the scientific method, and thus “basic science”.

    Just because you want to believe something does not make it so. Asserting your belief in the form of a factual statement or derisive insult does little for advancing knowledge.

    Ah, but you are all-knowing, so you have no need to advance your knowledge…

  35. Does anyone know of any sources of CO2 levels before the observatory was established on Mauna Loa? How accurate were these measures?

    Also, has someone validated the various sources of CO2? How about sinks?

    What is the lifetime of the average CO2 molecule in our atmosphere? Have read where some believe it is hundreds of years to a few years.

    I have just assumed mankind is responsible for the rise in CO2; just didn’t think it would ever be an issue.

    Good review article.

  36. Ferdinand,

    I’m not sure the mass balance is the slam dunk argument that you think it is. For instance, the natural inflows and outflows might somehow be a function of the human emissions.

    To take a (silly) example to make my point, imagine if 100% of human emission were from burning wood or, better, grass. This carbon would have been a natural outflow via decay except for the fact that we are burning it. In other words, one of the inflow terms decreased by our human emissions. In that situation, you cannot attribute the CO2 rise to our emissions.

    Now, I’m not trying to argue that something so direct is happening or that there is necessarily any link at all. But logically, the mass balance argument cannot, on it’s own, prove causation.

  37. The biggest (potential) problem that I see with this analysis is the assumption that absorption/generation rates (other than human induced) are linear.

    Perhaps they are for all practical purposes over the very small changes we are talking about, but in general I would expect these to be non-linear — probably Log(e).

  38. Tom,

    Okay, I will go ahead and cede the point. Humans are likely responsible for a significant increase in CO2. And the Earth has warmed by (?) something like 0.8 C degrees (depending on who you ask) in the last 120 years. This if 8ppm equals 1 C, we should be at at least +10C right now. That would seem to cast serious doubt on the AGW hypothesis that CO2 is causing the current warming, wouldn’t it? Tipping points? Right out the window. Feedbacks would necessarily be negative given the data of the last 100 years.

    Too simple, but let’s continue on;

    No matter what argument you make, it does not follow that the increase in temperature is caused by the increase in CO2. This is an assumption and is refered to as the “post hoc ergo propter hoc” fallacy. The simple bottle experiment with CO2 and a heat lamp doesn’t really apply in a gigantic chaotic system such as the Earth’s atmosphere. This is like stating that a car’s forward motion produces the heat that the car generates. It may seem logical, and the motion may generate a little heat of it’s own, but this is far from the true cause of the heat produced.

    Next, a simple review of ideal gas laws and thermodynamics seems to tell us that whatever the situation is, it is far more complicated than just “more CO2 equals higher global surface temp”. All else being equal, the atmosphere would be as likely to simply expand rather than increase in temperature. You’d likely get more clouds, reducing surface T. I will admit to being very much a laymen on the science of all of this, but I do understand enough of it to see that it cannot be as simple as most of the pro-AGW set would have us believe.

    But let’s simplify this argument; The only way you can prove CO2 is the cause of the warming is to exclude every other possible cause, and show a direct link between CO2 levels and global surface temp. Right now you cannot even establish the global surface temp to any degree of considered certainty. Right now the uncertainty band of our statistically synthesised surface T proxy is greater than our measured increase over the last 100 years. Just given the number of measurements compared to the total surface area of the Earth tells us we don’t know within a degree with any certainty. Our sample lacks quality control, consistency, longevity, randomness. And every time there is an adjustment made for any quality issue we see that it tends to inflate temps in recent years and decrease them in the more distant past. How certain are we again?

    Further, the data that we do have are in such a shambles that it’s doubtful anyone can prove anything. Some of it we cannot be certain what adjustments have been applied, if any. The provenance of all of it is highly suspect and the independence of the several sets is highly dubious. The reason the data are so screwed up? The current powers that be in climate science chose sides about 20 years ago and have co-opted science to their own ends. They’ve literally held the data hostage to their agenda. At the point they don’t share and then collude to violate the law to avoid sharing the data and methodology you can rest assured something is rotten in Denmark. When you start to look at the adjustments they’ve added to the data there can be little doubt as to their agenda. When you hear statements such as “the science is settled” you know you’ve found a problem! Not even gravity is settled. We think we know, and we’ve got pretty good formulas, but then again, so did Newton. So if you hear that climate science is certain about something you should know that the giant Wizard bellowing platitudes and knowledge to frighten everyone who would dare question him is really just a little man behind a curtain with little real knowledge to show.

    But nature, as always, has all of the aces. The solar cycle progression and projection has just been updated through July, and if the Sun doesn’t come out of it’s funk pretty soon, the current era will likely come to be know as the “Eddy Minimum” and the whole cadre of prominent climate scientists will come to be regarded as the Charles Dawson’s of their day. Nature is cruel like that. But I don’t know for certain what will happen, I’m just reading the tea leaves. The temp could go up or down, we don’t know. Further, we might know better if our “scientists” weren’t so invested in seeing it increase. So we really ought to drop the whole “settled science” perspective, see if we can piece together a valid data set and really try to understand the inner workings of our climate. As Jack Eddy would say; we need to figure out just how many ends that interface cable has and what they all do. It’ll take time. But if we just assume that there is no interface cable, and that we know everything there is to know about what causes the Earth to heat and cool, we will be caught unprepared for whatever it eventually does. At least Piltdown Man didn’t actually cause any deaths. Mann, Jones, Gore, et. al. will not be able to make that claim.

    But I (and I think many others on the skeptical side of the debate) would be glad to cede the point with regard to recent CO2 increases being (largely) anthropogenic.

  39. The difference in the atmosphere after a year is the sum of all inflows, no matter how large they are, or how they changed over the years, plus the human emissions, minus the sum of all outflows, no matter how large they are, wherever they take place.

    Hang on a minute! Are we tacitly assuming here that the sum of all the other flows is not affected by human emissions? Why, for instance, would the net outflow from natural sources (which often depend on the process of osmosis) not be slowed down by the CO2 that humanity already puts into the atmosphere?

    I suspect that we cannot actually predict what the present-day atmospheric CO2 concentration would be without human-induced emissions. It may end up exactly the same — natural sources making up for the loss of human-induced CO2.

  40. Thanks for the article, and while I believe additional CO2 is human-caused, playing Devil’s advocate I have to point out that your Figure 3 is not “sufficient proof” of the cause of CO2 increase. Even with the graph, it could be possible that 99% of human emissions are absorbed by the ocean, and that an independent natural increase in ocean temperature the last 150 years is thus responsible for 98% of the added CO2. I don’t personally believe this, but nevertheless figure 3 alone does not answer any questions, as it is still possible that ocean release alone is the dominant force — you have made an association/causation error. I am sure that the rest of your article will provide a more scientific basis, and thanks again for your work.

  41. Two things have always bugged me about the ML CO2 data.
    1. In figure 3 above, the yearly increase bounces around a lot, from 0.5 to 2.5 ppm/year, over short periods of a few years.
    If the human input is increasing all the time, why does the rate of increase vary by a factor of 5?

    2. Due the fine economic mess the banksters have given us, I heard the CO2 emissions were down like 7 or 9% for the US, maybe 1% for the world. Has this decrease been observed in the slope of the Keeling curve?

    -Jay

  42. Peter says: “What I still don’t understand is that if the natural outflow is 4GT greater than the natural inflow, then how come atmospheric CO2 levels didn’t drop to virtually nothing after all the thousands of years before man started burning fossil fuels?”

    They did, and they are.

  43. “From all those flows very few are known to any accuracy.”

    Precisely – I think you just shot yourself in the foot…

    I’m going for a beer… So I can watch the pretty bubbles of plant food rising up and escaping before some moron decides that I have to fit carbon capture device to my beer glass…

  44. CodeTech says:
    August 5, 2010 at 9:25 am
    BillD says:

    Anyone who does not understand that the burning of fossil fuels is the main cause of the regular increase in CO2 that is has been documented over the last 50+ years is clearly unable to understand basic science.

    Anyone who makes unsupported blanket statements of this sort is clearly unable to understand the scientific method, and thus “basic science”.

    Code Tech:

    Certain findings are widely and clearly demonstrated in science and do not need support by citation and documentation. In my view, the conclusion that fossil fuel burning accounts for the increase in CO2 in the atmosphere fits into that category. That assumes that one has at least read evidence at the basic textbook level. Another well-accepted finding is that the earth follows an orbit around the sun. At one point these issues may have been cotroversial, but the controvery has long since been settled. Clearly, other aspects of climate science are controversial.

    Actually, I am a scientist who publishes on basic science. Although I am not a climate researcher, I have followed the scientific literature on this topic. My peer- reviewed publications have received over 2800 citations, so I do have some credibility as a scientist.

  45. There is another, equally useful discussion on this issue at:

    http://www.barrettbellamyclimate.com/page20.htm

    It has the merit to my mind of explaining how challenging AGW orthodoxy emphatically means endorsing mainstream physics.

    Many of us who are scientifically more or less literate but are neither physicists not climatologists find the “slam dunk” (lovely phrase) arguments that have been resurfacing recently in the sceptic blogosphere confusing to put it mildly and not very helpful.

    The premise that humans have caused most of the recent CO2 increases rests on a very strong empirical base and I for one will need some persuading that it fails. I’ve yet to see it.

    So, looking forward to Pt II.

  46. Bill Yarber says:
    August 5, 2010 at 8:19 am

    I think you have seriously underestimated the impact on the oceans outguessing CO2 as they warm! Look at the ice core data

    No I haven’t underestimated the impact of the oceans: over very long term (Vostok ice core) that is about 8 ppmv/C, the same for the MWP-LIA cooling (only visible in the high resolution Law Dome ice core). Currently the short term influence of temperature is about 4 ppmv/C around the trend, but the trend itself is largely from the emissions…

  47. Questions for Ferdinand Engelbeen:
    a) What is the NATURAL base line atmospheric ppmv of CO2 to be for planet earth ???
    b) Is the natural atmospheric CO2 level dependant on temperature ???
    c) What is the optimal atmospheric CO2 level for life on earth ???
    d) What is a dangeruosly low atmospheric level of CO2 for life on earth ??
    e) If we don’t have answers to the above questions how could we possibly engineer an atmospheric CO2 level that is correct for planet earth as proposed by the IPCC ???

  48. Robert of Ottawa says:
    August 5, 2010 at 8:28 am

    I missed something here. Where did the 4GT/year come from?
    The only accurate way would be to estimate it from the 2 ppm increase per year.

    The 4 GtC is calculated as the increase in carbon mass of the atmosphere, while the 2 ppmv is CO2 in measured as volume procent of the atmosphere. These two are equivalent.

  49. My only objection to the statement the CO2 cannot be created or destroyed (law of mass conservation) is that neither the Carbon or the Oxygen can be destroyed. CO2 can be formed or released during a combustion process. However, both had to exist either separately or together before being placed in the atmosphere. We’ve been taught during photosynthesis that CO2 is changed so that C is stored and O2 is released. Both still exist but not as a CO2 molecule.
    I understand this is trivialized in the explanation, but the trivialization looses a lot of technical importance.

  50. I was expecting that this counter point would have been relating to how CO2 increases Earth’s temperature. I think everyone agrees that CO2 has been increasing faster because of mankind, burning fossil fuels, building more towns etc. I doubt anyone can debate that it hasn’t been increasing
    The point that’s up for debate is whether this will cause any warming. The previous article was talking about how more CO2 will not change the temperature since the same energy transfers occur, which he said to be none. So i was expecting a counter point being someone’s research saying that it will, though i don’t know if there is any studies that say that

  51. Malaga View says:
    August 5, 2010 at 8:49 am
    Malaga View says:
    August 5, 2010 at 8:49 am

    Basic logic error! The formula is:
    dCO2(atm) = CO2(in1 + in2 + in3 + in4…) – CO2(out1 + out2 + out3 + out4…)
    Where: in1, in2, in3, in4… ALL vary over time
    The number of inputs may not have been fully defined
    out1, out2, out3, out4… ALL vary over time

    Yes, but if humans add 8 GtC per year as CO2 a year and we see only an increase of 4 GtC per year in the atmosphere, then all other flows together, whatever their variation within or over the years, must remove the difference. The variability of the natural removal rate is quite low: +/- 1 ppmv/year (or +/-2 GtC/year, about half the current emissions in year-by-year spread).

  52. Response to: Why the CO2 increase is man made (part 1)

    The linear increase of CO2 is your problem, or what is equilibrium, part II.

    I object to some of the straight lines in fig. 3 In 1960 the annual increase of CO2 was around 1 ppm/y and the total amount of CO2 in the atmosphere was 315 ppm. Presently the increase is 2 ppm/y. Now, a total of 390 ppm CO2 is in the atmosphere, corresponding to 1000 Gigaton of Carbon. Presently, approx. 10 GtC fossil fuel are burned, which corresponds to 4.5 ppm/y when distributed fully into the atmosphere. In 1960 approx. 2 GtC of fossile fuel had been produced and burned, corresponding to roughly 1 ppm/y: This means, at that time basically all the CO2 remained in the atmosphere. Obviously, at that time, basically none of the CO2 has been sequestered elsewhere.

    There is a very simple reason for that: the pre-industrial value of CO2 in the atmosphere had been 280 ppm. At that time, atmosphere and oceans have been in equilibrium concerning CO2 concentrations. (In the ice age with its lower temperatures, the equilibrium atmospheric concentration had been 200 ppm).

    Around 1900, mankind started to burn fossile fuels in larger quantities. Atmospheric CO2 concentrations started to increase and to deviate from the equilibrium value. The simplest way to treat the deviation from equilibrium is to assume that the sequestering rate per year (into the oceans) is proportionate to the deviation from equilibrium in the atmosphere.

    Now you can set up rate equations. With the simplifying assumption that the oceans, which contain a total of 40000 GtC of CO2, can take up eventually all extra CO2, you end up with a simple 1. order differential equation. You get the following results: Sequestering starts quadratically, not linearly, with deviation from equilibrium (as seen in the data). More importantly, eventually all emitted CO2 will be sequestered. This means that the atmospheric CO2 content gets saturated. Simple estimates give a saturation limit of approx. 450 to 480 ppm.

    This can be seen quite easily: presently we have approx. 100 ppm excess CO2, and half of the presently emitted CO2 gets sequestered. with 200 ppm excess CO2, all of the then emitted CO2 gets sequestered. So the saturation limit is 280 + 200 = 480 ppm.

    In this simplest of all models there is CO2 saturation in the atmosphere, there is no linear increase of CO2. IPCC keeps assuming a linear increase forever, models use 600 to 800 ppm CO2 for calculating warming in 2100. However, nobody bothers to argue why that simple model should fail.

  53. A thought and questions –

    What has changed in, say, the past thousand years? Look at human population, and we say, “Certainly! It’s Up!” Look at sea live, and we say, “Down Big Time?”

    During a Glacial we have a rise in sea life and decline in land animals and plant types. During an Interglacial we have a decline in sea life and a rise in land mammals and vegetation? Has all this been adequately factored in to the math on CO2? Is the term Anthroprogenic appropriate, or is it better to say Zoologic (with a big chunk of manmade)?

  54. jorgekafkazar says:
    August 5, 2010 at 9:51 am
    Peter says: “What I still don’t understand is that if the natural outflow is 4GT greater than the natural inflow, then how come atmospheric CO2 levels didn’t drop to virtually nothing after all the thousands of years before man started burning fossil fuels?”
    They did, and they are.

    Life forms have a nasty habit of being carbon based… they also have a nasty habit of dying and being buried in the ground… so overall biology can be seen as a carbon sink that accumulates in the ground.

    CO2 levels have being dropping as life has evolved on earth… and they have been dropping towards dangerous levels in recent geologic times… luckily we have volcanoes, tectonic movements, natural gas, oil seeps and the WEATHER to naturally erode and re-cycle all that buried carbon… but best of all we have great big SUVs and AIRPLANES to so we can have fun while we help replenish the atmospheric CO2 levels which greens our planet and improves our harvests.

    So adjust your lifestyle to address our CARBON challenged environment:

    a) Get a bigger car and drive more.
    b) Take more holidays abroad (and don’t forget to hire a car)
    c) Rip out the central heating and put in a coal fire or wood burner.
    d) Change you will to make sure you are cremated (so you don’t put your carbon in the ground)

    ENJOY OUR GREENING PLANET – IT’S THE ONLY ONE WE’VE GOT!

  55. It is indeed the case that some people still do not accept that the rise in atmospheric CO2 in recent times has been caused by human actions. The following (slightly edited) is a reply I made earlier this year to some such person after one of Christopher Booker’s articles in the UK Daily Telegraph:

    “If you want to know how much humans have contributed to the increase in atmospheric CO2 you need to ask, “what would atmospheric CO2 levels be now in the absence of any influence from humans?” and compare that with present actual levels. Of course, we cannot be absolutely sure what the “natural” level would now be – the best we can do is to look at CO2 levels in the centuries and millennia before 1750 when human contributions were very small and extrapolate the graph to the present. Here, the evidence from ice cores shows that there was very little change in CO2 for several hundred years before the industrial revolution – the graph is flat. See, for example:

    Thus CO2 levels have not changed by more than a few ppmv of CO2 for several hundred years prior to 1750, and had not increased by as much as 20ppmv above the 1750 level of 280ppmv (ie exceeded 300ppmv) for at least 800,000 years. There is absolutely no reason to believe that levels should have suddenly shot upwards in recent times for any other reason than human action. Thus, from that reasoning, human activities can be safely said to account for all (or very nearly all) of the increase from 280ppmv in 1750 to 390ppmv now.

    But, secondly, there is another way of understanding this claim:

    If you wish to know if there has been any NET natural contribution to the increase in atmospheric CO2 levels, all you need to do is measure

    1. the amount humans have ADDED to the atmosphere, and

    2. the increase in CO2 in the atmosphere over the same period.

    It is that simple.

    The figures for the atmosphere from 1850-2000 are as follows:

    1. Total human caused emissions of CO2: 1620 billion tons CO2

    2. Increase in atmospheric CO2: 640 billion tons

    Thus, the amount of CO2 humans have added to the atmosphere greatly exceeds the observed increase in CO2 in the atmosphere. Thus, the human contribution is more than able to account for the entire increase (most of the CO2 emitted by humans has been absorbed into the oceans and the terrestrial environment). The net flow has been from the atmosphere to the oceans, NOT from the oceans to the atmosphere.

    Of course, the interesting question is for how much longer the oceans are going to behave as a net sink for CO2.

    [If you want to check the figures go to the Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Centre: http://cdiac.ornl.gov/faq.html#Q4 ]

  56. Doug Proctor says:
    August 5, 2010 at 8:50 am

    The Barrow and the Mauna Loa CO2 concentrations drop between June and October, but do not in Antarctica. Is this reflecting the growing season in both a northern temperate forest and the oceanic phytoplancton?

    Yes it is: the oceans have a larger capacity for changing the CO2 levels either way, but are relative slow emitters/absorbers, compared to the burst of greening in spring/summer of the mid-latitudes. That is a lot less in the SH, as there is less land and the ITCZ hinders the transport of air masses (including CO2, SO2, dust,…) between the NH and the SH.

    That will be further explained in other parts…

  57. Bill Toland says:
    August 5, 2010 at 8:52 am

    Why are the figures for the natural sinks so variable from year to year?

    Mainly caused by temperature variations: some 4 ppmv/C (ocean) on short term. increasing to about 8 ppmv/C over long term. Several contributions here on WUWT have calculated the good correlation between temperature and the rate of increase (not the same as the cause of the increase itself!). From the “warmer” side, a good description is by Pieter Tans, who included precipitation in the equation:
    http://esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/co2conference/pdfs/tans.pdf starts about half way the presentation.

  58. Hi Ferdinand :-) Good to see you again in the debate!

    1) In this little writing

    http://hidethedecline.eu/pages/posts/co2-carbon-dioxide-concentration-history-of-71.php

    – I have summarized some of the better pieces of evedence pointing to the “fact” that CO2 concentrations has fluctuated strongly earlier in the 20´ieth centure as well as in the stonage etc. This does not really support the idea that only humans can cause periods with larger CO2 concentrations?

    2) Earlier i showed that Co2 concentration increase/year is smaller and smaller compared with global temperatures:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2008/12/17/the-co2-temperature-link/

    So even if humans did indeed cause significant contributions to CO2 concentrations, it appears that “something” (the biosphere) is rapidly on the way to omit the human effect.
    As I remember in the debate we had back then, you said that the facts could be interpreted in both your and my way. Thus i think you should be open to my viewpoint as a real possibility.

    3) Finally, with just a simple trend through CO2 measurements of the ocean, it appears that the CO2 content in upper layers of oceans are indeed not rising in the latest decade. yes, not many people mentions this, but i think its rather relevant to be aware in this contexts as in contradicts the great dominating human effect to some degree. Humans are still emitting CO2, but the big ocean buffer does not show increase of CO2 anymore…

    http://hidethedecline.eu/pages/posts/co2-carbon-dioxide-concentration-in-the-oceans-72.php

    – how does this affect your thoughts?

    Again: good to see you again in the debate :-)

    K.R. Frank Lansner

  59. I have always had in the back of my mind from way back (40+ years) that the levels of atmospheric CO2 show a dramatic decline at about the same time trees started to evolve and became a major part of the land environment. Both these events happened about 400-350 million years ago. Possibly co-incidence of course. Since then trees have been slowly killing themselves by sequestrating CO2, or at least reaching some sort of equilibrium with atmospheric CO2. Or was my biology teacher way off the mark?

    So with de-forestation atmospheric CO2 can recover somewhat.

  60. Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
    August 5, 2010 at 10:25 am
    Yes, but if humans add 8 GtC per year as CO2 a year and we see only an increase of 4 GtC per year in the atmosphere, then all other flows together, whatever their variation within or over the years, must remove the difference.

    NO – you are not correct.
    You have no idea what caused the observed increase and you have no idea whether your observed increase is correct.

    Lets assume your formula is correct and your Carbon Cycle graphic is vaguely realistic

    So the 5.5 “fossil fuels and cement production” (EM) in the graphic equals 8GtC.

    Therefore, the ocean outgassing (OO) of 90 in the graphic equals roughly 131.

    So lets retry your equation for ocean outgassing:

    4 GtC = CO2(in1 + in2 + in3 +…) + 131 GtC – CO2(out1 + out2 + out3 +…)

    See your problem?

    CO2(in1 + in2 + in3 +…) – CO2(out1 + out2 + out3 +…) = -127

    In fact it is a big problem for you!

    Like I said:

    Basic logic error!

    The formula is:
    dCO2(atm) = CO2(in1 + in2 + in3 + in4…) – CO2(out1 + out2 + out3 + out4…)

  61. Peter says:
    August 5, 2010 at 8:57 am

    What I still don’t understand is that if the natural outflow is 4GT greater than the natural inflow, then how come atmospheric CO2 levels didn’t drop to virtually nothing after all the thousands of years before man started burning fossil fuels?

    The simple answer is: if we stop all emissions today, next year the CO2 levels in the atmosphere indeed would drop with about 4 GtC (2 ppmv). But as the level in the oceans didn’t drop as fast, the pressure difference of CO2 in the atmosphere and the ocean surface drops a little, so that the second year, the drop isn’t 4 GtC but only 3.8 GtC,… and so on until we are back to around 300 ppmv in the atmosphere, which is the level which corresponds more or less with the current (ocean) temperature.

    Reality is far more complicated, but in general, that is the trend…

  62. Jim G says:
    August 5, 2010 at 9:22 am

    Models vs measurement again. This is a large planet and lord knows what CO2 might be spewing out in the 67% that is covered by water and I did not see any measurement devices in the plumes when Pinatubo or Mt St Helens went off.

    No model at all in this case: fossil fuel sales inventory vs. measured CO2 increase in the atmosphere. Simple straight-forward calculation. And the Pinatubo emitted some more CO2, but also cooled the oceans by reflecting sunlight away, which caused more CO2 absorption and thus less CO2 increase than in warmer years…

  63. Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
    August 5, 2010 at 10:14 am

    Robert of Ottawa says:
    August 5, 2010 at 8:28 am

    “I missed something here. Where did the 4GT/year come from?
    The only accurate way would be to estimate it from the 2 ppm increase per year.

    The 4 GtC is calculated as the increase in carbon mass of the atmosphere, while the 2 ppmv is CO2 in measured as volume procent of the atmosphere. These two are equivalent.”

    Ok, so mass balance, I buy that. The 4GtC = 2ppmv I buy that. 2ppmv is the average increase/yr. I buy that. We know man’s emissions to a fairly accurate degree.(Even though I’m unclear about how we count agriculture and things of that nature and fauna breathing.) Even still, (and I hope you address this later) we know atmospheric CO2 with or without man’s emissions is not constant. For expedience, and since I’m not aware of anyone doubting the validity of such statements, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Phanerozoic_Carbon_Dioxide.png .

    Your equation 4 GtC = CO2(in1 + in2 + in3 +…) + 8 GtC – CO2(out1 + out2 + out3 +…) and correct me if I’m wrong. 8GtC is man’s emissions. So, without man’s emissions, as you stated, CO2(in1 + in2 + in3 +…) – CO2(out1 + out2 + out3 +…) = – 4 GtC

    Doesn’t this eventually get us to a near zero ppmv atmospheric CO2. Is there any evidence that has ever happened? Doesn’t this indicate another mechanism in play? If I missed something in your presentation, feel free to point it out, if you’re going to present the answers later, feel free to ignore.

    Thanks

  64. richard says:
    August 5, 2010 at 9:37 am
    Ferdinand,

    To take a (silly) example to make my point, imagine if 100% of human emission were from burning wood or, better, grass. This carbon would have been a natural outflow via decay except for the fact that we are burning it. In other words, one of the inflow terms decreased by our human emissions. In that situation, you cannot attribute the CO2 rise to our emissions.

    In the case of burning more or less fast renewable sources of carbon, that doesn’t count as emissions, as that (as all human and animal food) was captured a few months to a few years before from the atmosphere. The impact of this on current CO2 levels is negligible. If you burn fossil fuels, burried in an atmosphere of many millions of years ago (at much higher CO2 levels), that makes a difference in the current atmosphere.

    The border between “renewable” and not is not that clear: If you burn a 1,000 year old oak, that is assumed “renewable”, while burning peat of the same average age is “not renewable”…

  65. If the increase is Anthropogenic and correct, has the biosphere already responded all it can to digest the extra C02?
    One way in which man has made a lasting impact is with his paving/concreting to remove land from the biosphere’s growth balance. What percentage of land has been impacted by urban land smothering?
    So, between the extra C02 calcualted to have been placed into the food chain and the land smothered by asphalt/concrete/buildings, have we increased or decreased the biosphere’s throughput?

  66. indeed near the full increase of CO2 in the atmosphere is caused by the human emissions. Only a small part might have been added by the (ocean) warming since the LIA.

    People need to study this:
    Volcanic Gases and Their Effects

    http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/hazards/

    gas/index.php

    The numbers and volume of eruptions have increased a lot since 1998, you can type in the years and look for yourself. Eruption volume has gone up and down throughout history.

    http://www.volcano.si.edu/world/find_eruptions.cfm

    Eyjafjallajökull was recently pumping out the equivalent weight of 100+ to 200, 2,000 lb F-150 pickup trucks a second in eruption volume for a very long time.

  67. I see you answered part of my questions with a response to another person. Thanks, but if…………………… “The simple answer is: if we stop all emissions today, next year the CO2 levels in the atmosphere indeed would drop with about 4 GtC (2 ppmv). But as the level in the oceans didn’t drop as fast, the pressure difference of CO2 in the atmosphere and the ocean surface drops a little, so that the second year, the drop isn’t 4 GtC but only 3.8 GtC,… and so on until we are back to around 300 ppmv in the atmosphere, which is the level which corresponds more or less with the current (ocean) temperature.”…..is true then how did we get to 2000 ppmv CO2 100 million years ago?

  68. One factor missing from figure 1 ( by NASA,) is volcanic activity. As Ian Plimer points out in his book Heaven and Earth, 80% of volcanic activity on Earth occurs on ocean floors, at mid-oceanic ridges and subduction zones. The CO2 released by this under water volcanic activity will be absorbed by cold water ( 4C) which is under pressure, so can hold a LOT of CO2. The “conveyor belt” system of ocean currents will eventually
    ( decades? centuries?) later bring this CO2 rich water to the surface, where, as it warms and the pressure decreases, it will release CO2 into the atmosphere. Is there any way to differentiate this CO2 from that produced by humans burning fossil fuels? For a dramatic example of cold, CO2 rich water suddenly deffervescing, do a Google search on Lake Nyos.

  69. Sun Spot says:
    August 5, 2010 at 10:12 am

    Questions for Ferdinand Engelbeen:
    a) What is the NATURAL base line atmospheric ppmv of CO2 to be for planet earth ???
    b) Is the natural atmospheric CO2 level dependant on temperature ???
    c) What is the optimal atmospheric CO2 level for life on earth ???
    d) What is a dangeruosly low atmospheric level of CO2 for life on earth ??
    e) If we don’t have answers to the above questions how could we possibly engineer an atmospheric CO2 level that is correct for planet earth as proposed by the IPCC ???

    a) No idea, but I should say (if I was a plant): the higher the better…
    b) Yes, for the past 800,000 years aboyt 8 ppmv/C on long term.
    c) See a)
    d) 180 ppmv seems to be te lowest level that many plants can survive, but even if that is measured in the background atmosphere (like in ice cores), that doesn’t apply to the local near ground atmosphere over land, which in general shows higher levels of CO2.
    e) Good question for the IPCC…

  70. Fuerther to Caleb’s point about whether ice-core data is reliable, and to Slioch’s reiterating the pre-industrial CO2 level at 280ppm, there are some who question this figure and the reliance on ice-cores. TonyB is the man who knows all about this – where’s he gone? Are you there, Tony?

  71. Engelbeen concludes:

    “We could end the whole discussion here, as humans have added about twice the amount of CO2 to the atmosphere as the observed increase over the past 150 years, the difference is absorbed by the oceans and/or vegetation. That is sufficient proof for the human origin of the increase, but there is more that points to the human cause… as will be shown in the following parts.”

    Maybe the later parts will add more to this account but, as it stands, it is an application of brute force, the use of a sledge hammer to kill a flee. The argument is very simple. The present mass of CO2 is greater than preindustrial times, the present mass is less than what was added by mankind and, therefore, the oceans took on some of man’s excess but not all. See the sledge hammer. Is there anything in this argument that can be associated with the subtlety of science? Are there any physical hypotheses of note? Has our scientific understanding of the behavior of CO2 in Earth’s many environments been increased. No. Is there a simple logical objection to this sledge hammer argument? Yes. As the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere increases, the rate at which the oceans absorb CO2 increases much faster. So, the argument raises more questions than it answers. Does the author present reasonably confirmed hypotheses about varying rates of absorption of CO2 by the oceans? Well, of course not. He could not make this sledge hammer argument if he did. Do we have such well-confirmed hypotheses? No. In sum, this argument exhibits all the defining characteristics of Warmista argument.

  72. RHS says:
    August 5, 2010 at 10:20 am

    My only objection to the statement the CO2 cannot be created or destroyed (law of mass conservation) is that neither the Carbon or the Oxygen can be destroyed.

    You are right, therefore CO2 is mostly expressed in GtC, as the carbon balance must be right, wherever the CO2 is absorbed or released, no matter in what form. For CO2 in the atmosphere itself it doesn’t matter, as there are no destruction or release reactions, except for a small contribution from the oxydation of organics (methane, natural VOS).

  73. Theo Goodwin says:
    August 5, 2010 at 11:43 am
    In sum, this argument exhibits all the defining characteristics of Warmista argument.

    BINGO! All the defining characteristics of a belief system.

  74. The mass balance claim is a non sequitur. We know that the total fluxes are far higher than the anthropogenic flux and we know that many of the other components are variable, but we do not know how variable. We simply do not know how much CO2 there would have been in the atmosphere at this time in the absence of anthropogenic emission. CO2 levels might have risen at the same rate, or stayed constant, or even gone down. They might even have risen faster! That CO2 levels have increased by a roughly constant third of the emissions is suggestive but not conclusive. Over so short a period, corresponding to an apparent warming trend over the past century, the correlation could easily be no more than coincidence. On this basis it’s more likely than not that the increase is man made, but it’s by no means certain. It’s an obvious conclusion that it is – but the obvious isn’t always correct.

    Isotope ratios can’t answer the question either. Leaving aside important caveats about the various natural phenomena that can mimic fossil fuel emissions, all they could tell us is the fraction of CO2 currently in the atmosphere that comes from fossil fuel emissions. It still wouldn’t tell us how much CO2 there would have been in their absence. There is no reason to believe that the various fluxes are independent of each other (and strong reason to suppose that they’re not).

  75. Dave F says:
    August 5, 2010 at 8:57 am

    What is known with reasonable accuracy are the emissions, which are based on inventories of fossil fuel use by the finance departments (taxes!) of different countries…

    Could you please elaborate on how this is done? Is the dollar amount of taxes received for the sales tax on fossil fuel used? Is there some other method?

    The sales of all fossil fuels (and a lot of other commodities, even eggs) are followed by the statistics departments, in early days mainly part of the different ministeries of finances, as these have a high interest in receiving their (un?)fair share of the profit on sales. E.g. for the UK that was connected with the finance department, but nowadays that seems to be the department of energy and climate change (oh, help!):

    http://www.statistics.gov.uk/hub/business-energy/index.html

  76. You are the real ‘Science Guy’, Anthony!
    Thanks for ‘doing what you do’ so well!

    And Thank You to Mssrs. Engelbeen and Vonk, for their most interesting posts!

  77. Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
    August 5, 2010 at 8:33 am (Edit)

    tallbloke says:
    August 5, 2010 at 8:17 am

    Julian Flood posted here last week and said that there are different types of plankton in the ocean which prefer different isotopes of carbon. If I understood him correctly, at the moment, the plankton type which preferentially absorbs the ‘natural’ carbon isotope is in the ascendency. This leaves more of the ‘fossil fuel’ isotope in the atmosphere as the alleged fingerprint of human co2 emission being the cause of increased levels in the atmosphere.

    This first part is only about the mass balance, without looking at the isotope ratio’s. Only based on the mass balance, there is no room for any additional CO2 from nature. In one of the next parts, the isotope balance and the oxygen balance will be interpreted. These add to the evidence of the human origin, but don’t give absolute proof. But the mass balance does…

    Ferdinand, thanks for the reply and my apologies for introducing this query too early in your series. I will find the actual post Julian made and reintroduce it at that point.

  78. I don’t see how “natural sink” data could be used in good faith when there is no certain understanding of how much CO2 is really being absorbed by the biosphere (and, what is most important, how much CO2 will be absorbed by the biosphere if the atmospheric content of CO2 will keep rising).

  79. Ferdinand

    The logic of your oft-repeated statement (below) is wrong if the system involves feedback mechanisms. If a system involves feedback mechanisms, it does NOT always follow that removing one source (or sink) would cause the net to decrease (or increase) by the flux associated with the removed source (or sink).

    “… we know that the sum of all natural outflows is 4 GtC larger than the sum of all natural inflows. In other words, the net increase of the atmospheric CO2 content caused by all natural CO2 ins and outs together is negative. There is no net natural contribution to the observed increase, nature as a whole acts as a sink for CO2. “

  80. Anthony, there was a very high quality exchange a few months ago on the AirVent about this issue and Dr. Beck was intervening.

  81. @EthicallyCivil
    Although isotopes are said to be “chemically identical” they do respond differently to some chemical reactions. The reason is that a complex chemical reaction can depend on precise timing and energy of the reactants. A heavier atom will be slower and may not have the same energy to achieve the required reaction potential.

    Heavy water acts different than regular water and is toxic for this reason.

    As with conventional separation methods the percentage difference in mass between the isotopes makes the chemical response in lighter elements more dramatic although there are processes that can even enrich uranium.

  82. Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
    August 5, 2010 at 8:33 am

    mass balance: in this case small difference between large numbers known very imprecisely. and we do not even know if we ALL the factors.

    that is not balance. that is just a whole lot of …..

  83. Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
    August 5, 2010 at 12:07 pm
    (oh, help!): http://www.statistics.gov.uk/hub/business-energy/index.html

    Thanks for the link – makes interesting reading – especially in you live in the UK.

    Inland Energy Consumption, 1980 to 2008 (million tonnes of oil equivalent)

    Overall, consumption has grown by 19.7 mtooe (9.63%) in 28 years!
    Of that increase 5.3 mtooe has come from Renewables and 3.7 mtooe from Nuclear.
    So carbon emitting consumption has increased by 10.7 mtooe (5.23%) in 28 years.

    However, the “dash to gas” reduced coal consumption by 48.43% (73.3 down to 37.8)

    So I doubt the UK has had an upward impact on the Mauna Loa CO2 readings.

  84. MattN says:
    August 5, 2010 at 7:48 am
    I wasn’t aware that this point was still up for debate…

    I wasn’t aware that the “natural” carbon cycle was invariant.

    What was the heat content of the ocean during the little ice age? In calories would be fine. What is it today?

    What is the total amount of carbon that gets chemically locked up and sinks out of sight at plate boundaries vs. the amount of carbon that is released at oceanic ridges?

    What was the total biomass of the planet in 1880 and what is it today? Is total biomass growing or falling?

    Seems to be a rather bold leap into the geologically, biologically, and chemically ludicrous.

    There’s so much missing data that these hasty conclusions trying to be passed off as settled science is laughable.

  85. Frank Lansner says:
    August 5, 2010 at 10:57 am

    Hi Ferdinand :-) Good to see you again in the debate!

    Indeed, good to see you (and others) again. Even if we still have a few unresolved disputes… About your last remark:

    Finally, with just a simple trend through CO2 measurements of the ocean, it appears that the CO2 content in upper layers of oceans are indeed not rising in the latest decade.

    You are looking at pCO2, but that is only about 1% of total carbon (CO2 + bicarbonate + carbonate) in the (upper) oceans and heavily influenced by temperature and alkalinity. In this case, the total carbon at Bermuda increased (until 2004, the last figures I have), while total alkalinity increased, causing a drop in pCO2:

    http://www.bios.edu/Labs/co2lab/research/IntDecVar_OCC.html

  86. Gary Pearse says:
    August 5, 2010 at 9:22 am

    Heck, we get diffusion of elements through solid rock and crystallized minerals (eg: in pegmatites the lithium aluminum silicate mineral spodumene has been invaded by sodium solutions and replaced by the sodium aluminium silicate mineral albite in part or wholly without destroying the original crystal shape – ice wouldn’t be so formidable a barrier to diffusion.

    Correct. Essentially, glacial ice is considered a metamorphic rock. Temperature and pressure of metamorphism can be calculated using the amount of diffusion of metal ions (Fe-Mg ratios between garnet-biotite pairs and Ca activity between garnet-plagioclase pairs) between adjacent mineral pairs. However, for example in the pressure calculations using Ca, if Ca has been remobilized during a subsequent metamorphic event, the pressure calculations are invalid. As an example, I had one mineral pair that gave me a negative pressure, which indicated that the rock had been metamorphosed in outer space! There is no reason why CO2 molecules could not be remobilized due to changes in pressure and or temperature or by the introduction of water from another source following fractures through the ice.

  87. The bottom line for me however is the indisputable record contained in the geologic column. A warmer earth with an atmosphere richer in CO2 is a greener earth. Compared to biosphere hay days like the Eocene optimum the present interglacial period looks close to death from exposure to the cold.

    I mean to say if you prefer rocks and ice to plants and animals then be all means advocate reducing atmospheric CO2 and whatever else you can to cool the surface down. However, if you prefer a great abundance of plants and animals to rocks and ice then when it comes to fossil fuels —- Burn baby, burn!

  88. As L.B. Klyashtorin and A.A. Lyubushin note in their “On the coherence between the dynamics of the world fuel consumption and global temperature anomaly”, Energy & Environment, Vol. 14, No. 6 (2003), world fuel consumption since the mid-1850s has not been linear – in fact, it has been anything but. As they state (from the graph on page 775), global consumption of fossil fuels (world fuel consumption, or WFC) rose slowly from 1861 to about 1950, rose very rapidly from about 1950 to the late 1980s, declined briefly, and then began rising again in the mid-1990s. If increases in atmospheric CO2 concentration were principally due to anthropogenic carbon emissions, then changes in CO2 concentration would correlate closely with changes in aggregate WFC. It does not.

    It’s also worth noting that, historically, energy consumption declines markedy in response to shattering economic catastrophes. We saw significant declines, for example, in US energy consumption during the 1973 oil shock, the 84-84 recession, and as a consequence of the collapse of the dot-com bubble and 9/11. Energy consumption has been declining again in the US and other western countries for the past 18 months as a consequence of the current economic crisis – and yet atmospheric CO2 concentrations continue trickling steadily upward, following the same cyclical annual pattern they have followed throughout the observable record. Where’s the deflection in the rate of change in CO2 concentrations correlating with changes in energy consumption that we would expect if the latter caused the former?

    (Of course, the broader point of the K&L argument is that the lack of any detectable correlation between delta CO2 and delta T over the entire period of human industrialization precludes the possibility of a causal relationship between the latter and the former. That of course is a different discussion.)

  89. Malaga View says:
    August 5, 2010 at 10:59 am

    NO – you are not correct.
    You have no idea what caused the observed increase and you have no idea whether your observed increase is correct.

    Lets assume your formula is correct and your Carbon Cycle graphic is vaguely realistic

    So the 5.5 “fossil fuels and cement production” (EM) in the graphic equals 8GtC.

    Therefore, the ocean outgassing (OO) of 90 in the graphic equals roughly 131.

    So lets retry your equation for ocean outgassing:

    4 GtC = CO2(in1 + in2 + in3 +…) + 131 GtC – CO2(out1 + out2 + out3 +…)

    See your problem?

    CO2(in1 + in2 + in3 +…) – CO2(out1 + out2 + out3 +…) = -127

    I don’t see any problem at all. If we didn’t know what the human emissions were, there would be a problem. Then we can’t know the result of the emissions. But we know that the emissions are double the measured increase in the atmosphere: in your example, the one known extra natural input from the oceans is 131 GtC/year, the net result is an increase of 4 GtC/year, thus the sum of all outputs (to the oceans and vegetation) must take away 127 GtC/year extra to compensate for the increased ocean input. But one of the other inputs, human emissions, is 8 GtC, whatever one of the in’s (in1, in2, in3,…) it is. Thus the real natural output, whatever the extra more or less outgassing of the oceans is, must be 4 GtC more natural outs than natural ins.

    Take it in another view: if there were no human emissions in the past years and today, would the CO2 level in the atmosphere have increased, decreased or stayed level? And next year(s)?

  90. I haven’t read all the comments so if this is a repeat apologies but thanks for putting up both articles – even if they are a slightly, not quite, maybe, counter each other. Both are excellent in their own right. This is the kind of science most of us skeptics kind of expected the UN (and member states) funded organisations to engage in. But they haven’t.

  91. James Sexton says:
    August 5, 2010 at 11:38 am

    I see you answered part of my questions with a response to another person. Thanks, but if… [snipped]… is true then how did we get to 2000 ppmv CO2 100 million years ago?

    Different times: different arrangement of the continents, different temperature/humidity, less calcite deposits,… The 8 ppmv/C only is for the last near million years, more ice age than interglacial, everything before that can’t be compared with current times…

  92. Ferdinand, this AR4 illustration (2007) goes a bit further than 2004, and its quite clear that both the Atlantic and Pacific stations used in AR4 shows no rise in pCO2 in surace water for a decade.

    Why?

    How much can atmospheric CO2 rise when ocean surface pCO2 has stoped rising?

    And Ferdinand, even though this pCO2 of the ocean is measured in upper ocean layers, be aware that upper layers should be even easier to affect for human CO2. So still a stagnating ocean pCO2 is a nasty problem to get around if one believe that human CO2 rules the CO2 levels today.

    The obvious and “too easy” explanation for the stagnating pCO2 is of course a fast growing biosphere that “threatens” to make the Earths CO2 levels dive in not so distant future. A dive that pehaps has some implications not so welcome for food production around the world.

    K.R. Frank Lansner

  93. Yet again we have charts presented in their “impressive” form.

    Why is it that scientists won’t plot their data honestly?

    Seriously. What number would represent NO CO2?

    The chart at the top of the page starts at 375ppm.

    All of these debates would be beyond boring if everyone plotted in a standardized way. What is done above is Chartmanship and is specifically called “Suppression of the Zero”. By suppressing the zero we suppress lots of pertinent information about the chart. Even grown scientists who know better get taken in by such tactics. This is why all presenters who employ such methods should be promptly slapped with an appropriately wet noodle.

    Zero is a wonderful place to start for just about any metric.

  94. winterkorn says:
    August 5, 2010 at 9:13 am
    4. We know that bacteria “eat” oil, presumably creating CO2. Is this process temperature sensitive? Is it limited to oil seeps or does it occur in deep oil collections such as shales and sands?
    ____________________________________________
    That one I can answer. They have found bacteria chomping away on coal deep in the earth.

    Go to the bottom of this article for references on subterranean bacteria such as:
    A new species of bacteria found in deep, hot fossil fuels:
    “Isolation and characterization of Thermococcus sibiricus…
    The article is “creationist” but it is good for a one stop source of references.

  95. More information on 13C

    A distinct δ13C decline in organic lake sediments at the Pleistocene-Holocene transition in southern Sweden

    “…A significant decrease in δ13C values, initiated shortly before 10.000 RP and amounting to 5%, is distinguished. This change is accompanied by increased limnic productivity. decreased erosive input and increased organic carbon content of the sediments. A probable explanation for the δ13C decline in organic material is decreased importance of dissolution of silicates at the transition to the Holocene. During the Late Weichselian. extensive weathering of exposed minerogenic material with subsequent input of bicarbonate to the lake water may have caused a relative enrichment of 13C in dissolved inorganic carbon. Furthermore, the early Holocene increase in terrestrial vegetation cover probably led to an increased supply of 13C depleted carbon dioxide to the lake water by root respiration. Altered limnic vegetation, presumably towards increased production of phytoplankton. could also have contributed to the observed decreasing δ13C trend. The importance of these processes compared to other possible influencing factors. mainly endogenic carbonate production and changes in the global carbon cycle. is discussed.”

  96. Theo Goodwin says:
    August 5, 2010 at 11:43 am

    Maybe the later parts will add more to this account but, as it stands, it is an application of brute force, the use of a sledge hammer to kill a flee.

    After near four years of discussions on this very topic, even with otherwise very wise (wo)men, I have used the sledge hammer as an alternative…

    The argument is very simple. The present mass of CO2 is greater than preindustrial times, the present mass is less than what was added by mankind and, therefore, the oceans took on some of man’s excess but not all.

    Yes that is what the sledge hammer procedure tries to hammer in some minds, but even that seems not to help with several respondents here…

    See the sledge hammer. Is there anything in this argument that can be associated with the subtlety of science? Are there any physical hypotheses of note? Has our scientific understanding of the behavior of CO2 in Earth’s many environments been increased. No.

    That may be somewhat compensated by the following parts, but I suppose that the law of conservation of mass must be followed, and that is a real sledge hammer item…

    Is there a simple logical objection to this sledge hammer argument? Yes. As the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere increases, the rate at which the oceans absorb CO2 increases much faster.

    I don’t see any reason that the oceans should absorb CO2 faster than the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere. That isn’t seen in the figures either: the increase in emissions and the absorption rate (oceans + vegetation) follow each other with a near constant ratio.

    So, the argument raises more questions than it answers. Does the author present reasonably confirmed hypotheses about varying rates of absorption of CO2 by the oceans? Well, of course not. He could not make this sledge hammer argument if he did. Do we have such well-confirmed hypotheses? No.

    Please look at my previous comments: the variability in absorption rate is directly related to ocean temperatures, that is where friend and foe agree with each other. Where some disagree (but all warmista’s and many sceptics agree) is the cause of the trend itself.

    In sum, this argument exhibits all the defining characteristics of Warmista argument.

    No comment, as that lacks any substance.

  97. @Ferdinand Engelbeen.
    First thank for taking the time to answer the questions on here.

    About your graph which is quite similar to the one I produced myself, except you manage to keep emissions much closer to rise in atmospheric CO2 in the first part of the 20 century than I could.

    The question still remains though. The rise in CO2 before the start of the 20th century was greater than can be explained by human emissions. The rise in CO2 in the first half the twentieth century can just be explained by human emissions if we assume that nature doesn’t increase absorption, while after 1950 nature suddenly decide to absorb HALF of human emissions.

    This would seem to be a rather large conundrum unless you can explain it ?

  98. Paul Birch says:
    August 5, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    The mass balance claim is a non sequitur. We know that the total fluxes are far higher than the anthropogenic flux and we know that many of the other components are variable, but we do not know how variable. We simply do not know how much CO2 there would have been in the atmosphere at this time in the absence of anthropogenic emission.

    Fluxes, no matter how large, add anything to the atmosphere, as long as these are in balance. Only the unbalance adds or removes mass to/from a reservoir. Human emissions are one-way additions. These add to the reservoir(s).

    Over the last 800,000 years, there was a clear relation between temperature and CO2 levels in the atmosphere, where CO2 levels followed temperature with a lag. That relation was 8 ppmv for each degree C increase or decrease. Based on the current temperature, the responding CO2 level would be around 300 ppmv. We measure 390 ppmv today and humans have added about double that amount in the past 150 years. So, to me it is clear that humans are the cause.

  99. The article says:
    “We could end the whole discussion here, as humans have added about twice the amount of CO2 to the atmosphere as the observed increase over the past 150 years, the difference is absorbed by the oceans and/or vegetation. That is sufficient proof for the human origin of the increase”
    ——————————————————
    No, this is not a valid proof. We don’t know if the nature may have capacity to absorb all human emissions. The fact that it has not done so for the last fifty years can at least in theory have been caused by some other natural factors.
    I do agree in the main point, that it seems to be difficult to find other explanations than human emissions on the increasing CO2 level, but don’t call it a proof.

  100. Alexander Feht says:
    August 5, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    I don’t see how “natural sink” data could be used in good faith when there is no certain understanding of how much CO2 is really being absorbed by the biosphere (and, what is most important, how much CO2 will be absorbed by the biosphere if the atmospheric content of CO2 will keep rising).

    I didn’t use any measured natural sink data, the sink rate is simply the difference between two known items: the emissions inventory at one side and the measured increase in the atmosphere at the other side. The difference between the two is the net natural sink rate or net natural emission rate (if the increase in the atmosphere was larger than the emissions).

  101. I don’t believe anyone doubts that CO2 is increasing or that humans cause a lot of CO2 to be released into the atmosphere. The question is if that amount of CO2 is harmful in any way. That is what is in question. So far I see no evidence that it harms anything and some evidence that it is beneficial to many species.

  102. JaneHM says:
    August 5, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    Ferdinand

    The logic of your oft-repeated statement (below) is wrong if the system involves feedback mechanisms. If a system involves feedback mechanisms, it does NOT always follow that removing one source (or sink) would cause the net to decrease (or increase) by the flux associated with the removed source (or sink).

    In this case, there is a solid argument that the removal of the one component that gives one-way addition makes a difference: there was a temperature-CO2 equilibrium, where we are now far above in CO2 level.

  103. DN says:
    August 5, 2010 at 1:23 pm

    If increases in atmospheric CO2 concentration were principally due to anthropogenic carbon emissions, then changes in CO2 concentration would correlate closely with changes in aggregate WFC. It does not.

    There is an extreme good correlation between accumulated emissions and the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere, but that is for next part…

  104. I’m waiting for someone to argue that our burning of fossil fuels DIMINISHES
    the C02 in the atmosphere.

    If you are not willing to take up that argument and offer proof, then the balance of the evidence is that we do add C02 to the atmosphere. The current value would be lower BUT FOR our additions.

  105. Slioch, 5th Aug 10.30am

    According to the US EIA, world CO2 emissions from the consumption and flaring of fossile fuels increased from 18.5 billion metric tons in 1980 t0 29.2 billion metric tons in 2006.

    An increase of 58%

    At the same time CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere increased from 339ppm to 382ppm. An increase of 13%

    So where do you find any correlation between the two figures?

  106. “… That is sufficient proof for the human origin of the increase …”
    You have got to be kidding ! What rubbish !!

    Warming in the past has caused atmospheric CO2 conc. increases … you know, the bit that Mr Gore tried to hide … there is nothing to say it is still not happening.

    If you can show that global temperatures have been falling, yet atmospheric CO2 conc has been increasing, you might have an ounce of credibility !

  107. Frank Lansner says:
    August 5, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    Ferdinand, this AR4 illustration (2007) goes a bit further than 2004, and its quite clear that both the Atlantic and Pacific stations used in AR4 shows no rise in pCO2 in surace water for a decade.

    Why?

    How much can atmospheric CO2 rise when ocean surface pCO2 has stoped rising?

    And Ferdinand, even though this pCO2 of the ocean is measured in upper ocean layers, be aware that upper layers should be even easier to affect for human CO2. So still a stagnating ocean pCO2 is a nasty problem to get around if one believe that human CO2 rules the CO2 levels today.

    Frank, as said in previous message: the total amount of CO2 in the upper ocean part increased, despite a decline in pCO2. pCO2 is directly related to pure dissolved [CO2*] where CO2* is the sum of CO2 and H2CO3 (together around 1% of total dissolved inorganic carbon ). Bicarbonate (around 83%) and carbonate (around 16%) ions don’t play any role in pCO2. So a change in pCO2, due to changes in pH, biolife, temperature or whatever, doesn’t say anything about the total amount of carbon (as CO2 + HCO3- + CO3– ) in the upper oceans…

    Thus I don’t see any reason to expect any sink of CO2 levels in the atmosphere and the upper ocean waters, as long as we go on with the emissions…

  108. Just an engineers overall look at the graph from Mauna Loa. If humanity is significantly responsible for CO2 generation, shouldn’t there be a change in level due to the recession? The number of miles driven, and flown, manufacturing, and other energy intensive activities were severely curtailed, and yet there appears to be no change in the slope of the increase. Why?

    Just a question.

  109. Ferdinand Engelbeen writes:

    “I don’t see any reason that the oceans should absorb CO2 faster than the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere. That isn’t seen in the figures either: the increase in emissions and the absorption rate (oceans + vegetation) follow each other with a near constant ratio.”

    Of course you don’t, because you have not investigated it. I just offered that example as one alternative hypothesis. There are a million others. And we should all be honest and admit that all of them have to be investigated scientifically before we can claim that they can be taken for granted. That’s how science works. It is not engineering.

    The general run of climate scientist constantly repeats a narrative created by Karl Marx. The narrative is very simple. There was a Garden of Eden, a Golden Age, “L’Age d’Or,” when Earth was perfect and had a static balance of energy and of CO2 molecules. It lasted until Capitalism hit the world, in about 1850 when Jones’ temperature record starts. Capitalists upset the balance of everything. The wonderful static world became DYNAMIC – HORRORS! We must return the world to its pre-Capitalist, pristine, static condition. Workers of the World Unite!

    The history of science shows conclusively that scientific progress always yields an account of the world that reveals an unbelievably more dynamic and complicated world. The idea that Earth’s CO2 budget and its energy budget were somehow pristine and static in the past belongs to the most outrageous science fiction. Of course, Mann and company have been busting their buns to turn the Medieval Warm Period and the Little Ice Age into domesticated pussy cats, as they must if they are to pursue their anti-scientific Marxist dream. And when you think of computer models, think static, static, and static because that is what they are.

    We know nothing of Earth’s energy budget and nothing of its CO2 budget. When we learn something about them it will be because we have created sets of hypotheses which actually describe the regularities that exist among the various processes involving CO2 absorption and related phenomena. Those hypotheses will be mind boggling. But somebody is going to have to get up from the computer, go outside, and perform some experiments. I don’t think climate scientists have it in them to do that.

    Engelbeen again:

    “That isn’t seen in the figures either: the increase in emissions and the absorption rate (oceans + vegetation) follow each other with a near constant ratio.”

    When the first “Green Revolution” was launched in the Sixties, it occurred to no one to say that increasing CO2 would help crop yield. Only recently are we getting reports of increase in tree size from CO2. Where are the hypotheses, the real stuff not the guesses, that describe the regularities in this phenomenon? We do not have them yet and we would be fools to think that we could. The work is just beginning.

  110. Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
    August 5, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    James Sexton says:
    August 5, 2010 at 11:38 am

    I see you answered part of my questions with a response to another person. Thanks, but if… [snipped]… is true then how did we get to 2000 ppmv CO2 100 million years ago?

    “Different times: different arrangement of the continents, different temperature/humidity, less calcite deposits,… The 8 ppmv/C only is for the last near million years, more ice age than interglacial, everything before that can’t be compared with current times…”

    Thanks for getting back with me. It’s really appreciated. That being said, I’m even a bit more perplexed. While I accept there were different arrangements in other times, did not the “laws of conservation of mass” apply then as they do now? Quite obviously, we know there were different mechanisms in play in those past times. We don’t know what they were, we don’t know what engaged or disengaged the mechanisms. Given that, we don’t know some of them are not engaging to account for some of the “ins” or “outs” at our present time. While I can appreciate the assumptions and they certainly are plausible, the “8 in”- the “4 out” = 4Gt total increase”, from what I can see, is simply an assumption. This is counter-intuitive. Given the formula you’ve given us, wouldn’t we eventually move the atmospheric CO2 down to nil sans man’s CO2 emissions when we know of times it was quite the opposite. I’m not trying to be contrary, I’m just trying to understand the leap.

    Thanks again,

    James

  111. Ferdinand Engelbeen says: (in response to Malaga View)
    August 5, 2010 at 1:24 pm
    “Take it in another view: if there were no human emissions in the past years and today, would the CO2 level in the atmosphere have increased, decreased or stayed level? And next year(s)?”

    We do not know! The natural cycle is so variable and uncertain, our understanding of all the relevant mechanisms so lacking, and our inability to carry out controlled experiments so limiting, that the realistic error range of any supposedly comprehensive “prediction” would far exceed the magnitude of the observed increase. My best guess is that, because of the warming since the little ice age, CO2 levels would still have increased, but probably not by quite as much. I couldn’t prove it, though. So weird are some of the possible feedbacks I couldn’t even give a rigorous proof that they wouldn’t have increased even more!

  112. Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
    August 5, 2010 at 1:24 pm
    Take it in another view: if there were no human emissions in the past years and today, would the CO2 level in the atmosphere have increased, decreased or stayed level? And next year(s)?

    I do not know – neither does anyone else!

    We can all make guesses… but that is all they are: guesses!

  113. Dave Andrews

    Perhaps it would be a good idea to think a little before posting.

    Are you suggesting that if human emissions doubled between year X and year Y then atmospheric CO2 would also double? Don’t be ridiculous.

  114. Speaking of carbon dioxide, this just popped up on Chicago Tribune’s Breaking News:

    Feds drop plans for FutureGen power plant
    August 5, 2010 2:54 PM

    CHAMPAIGN — The U.S. Department of Energy says it will drop plans to build a futuristic power plant in eastern Illinois but still use the location to store carbon dioxide underground.

    The so-called FutureGen project originally was to include an experimental coal-fired power plant near Mattoon. Carbon dioxide from burning the coal would have been stored underground.

    Now, the department says an existing plant in western Illinois will be retrofitted and carbon from that plant piped to Mattoon for storage.

    FutureGen has been in the planning stages for years. Developers had been working the past 11 months to cut its costs.

    — Associated Press
    ———————–
    Doesn’t make a lot of sense to me to pipe carbon dioxide the width of the state!! What a waste of money!!

  115. My training, Physical Chemistry. I have also done plenty of background reading on many of the issues surrounding CO2. The more I learn, the more I realise how little we know! These comments are just to encourage you all to read more widely.

    The Natural sink rate is NOT 4 GT. That is just the current equilibrium reaction to human additions. Given humans increase CO2 emissions, this figure would rise from chemical equilibrium processes. It is also climate related, so may fall or rise based in decadel climate cycles.

    The C12/C13 ratio isn’t very useful. In any chemical process involving CO2, HCO3-,CO3–, the slight difference in the atomic weights will indeed change the rate of the reactions. The problem is that there are so many processes in the carbon cycle, that any conclusions are based on conjecture. Different biochemical pathways in different organisms confuse the results.

    Ice Core CO2 data is highly problematical, and modern results have been adjusted to suit the ruling paradigm.

    Plant Stomata react more accurately to CO2 concentration, as has been determined in experiments. (More CO2 means fewer stomata, as plants exchange CO2 more efficiently) Historical collections of leaves can be used to determine past CO2 levels. In most cases, researchers are bound by the modern paradigm, and get confused by the low stomata counts of the past. Stomata cannot measure very high CO2, but only indicate high C)2. Higher CO2 levels over 325ppm are underestimated. When reading stomata research, you need to filter out the ruling paradigm when the problematical ice-core data is used to calibrate the stomata, when it should be the reverse.

    Rapid atmospheric changes are well known from past reconstructions:
    See http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC129389/pdf/pq1902012011.pdf
    & http://www.geocraft.com/WVFossils/Reference_Docs/Late_Holocene_CO2_3000-4300_BP_Jessen_etal_2005.pdf
    Changes of close to 100ppm in a century are quite common.

    Which brings me to historical CO2 chemical determinations. Chemists have had excellent methods for determining CO2 since the Early 1800s’. From early measurements, CO2 in the Atmosphere appears to have dropped from about 400-500 ppm in 1800 to about 300ppm by 1900. Over the 20th Century the CO2 has risen back.

    Now, of course humans are adding to the CO2, but there is a natural increase as well.
    This means that the equilibrium sink of human CO2 emissions must be much higher than 4Gt, and I suspect probably close to 6Gt. If we go into a climate reversal, and the seas start absorbing CO2, we may start to see a decline, which will be slow due to mankind’s added emissions.

    At this stage, total CO2 is unlikely to be any higher than in other times in the past 100 years.

  116. Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
    August 5, 2010 at 2:06 pm
    Paul Birch says:
    August 5, 2010 at 12:06 pm
    The mass balance claim is a non sequitur. We know that the total fluxes are far higher than the anthropogenic flux and we know that many of the other components are variable, but we do not know how variable. We simply do not know how much CO2 there would have been in the atmosphere at this time in the absence of anthropogenic emission.

    “Fluxes, no matter how large, add anything to the atmosphere, as long as these are in balance. Only the unbalance adds or removes mass to/from a reservoir. Human emissions are one-way additions. These add to the reservoir(s).”

    I presume you meant “don’t add anything…”. But your argument is still a non sequitur, because the natural fluxes are not in balance over any timescale. Sometimes they have been hugely out of balance. We have no independent measurement that could tell us whether or not they have been in balance over the past century, or by how much they have been in imbalance. Secondly, it does not follow that the natural fluxes are the same as they would have been in the absence of man-made emissions; you can’t assume their sum is unchanged; indeed, your own argument requires that it has changed, since the increase does not equate to the anthropogenic flux. Thirdly, human activities are not all “one-way”; agriculture and irrigation are obvious counter-example; less obvious are things like ploughing and engineering works that mobilise sediments, fertilising coastal waters and increasing natural CO2 take-up by plankton. In principle, such effects could even outweigh the direct CO2 emissions (they probably don’t, but it is not absurd to suppose that they might).

  117. Dave Springer said at 1:06 pm
    ….What was the total biomass of the planet in 1880 and what is it today? Is total biomass growing or falling?…. There’s so much missing data that these hasty conclusions trying to be passed off as settled science is laughable.
    What was the Soil Microbe level in 1880? 1955? 2009?

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/04/28/new-ground-truth-microbiotic-negative-feedback/

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/03/25/earth-follows-the-warming-soils-add-100-million-tons-of-co2-per-year/

    This analysis could not distinguish whether the carbon was coming from old stores or from vegetation growing faster due to a warmer climate. But other lines of evidence suggest warming is unlocking old carbon…..
    What was the energy/heat and CO2 output of sea floor vents in 1880? 1955? 2009?

    http://pubs.usgs.gov/gip/dynamic/exploring.html

    http://www.rdmag.com/News/2010/03/Environment-Research-Evidence-Of-Hydrothermal-Vents-On-The-Seafloor-Near-Antarctica/

    What was the CO2 ppm Global Average in 1880? 1955? 2009?

    http://www.pensee-unique.eu/001_mwr-083-10-0225.pdf

    What was the Soil Respiration rate in 1880? 1955? 2009?

    http://www.biogeosciences-discuss.net/7/1321/2010/bgd-7-1321-2010-print.pdf

    What was the extent/mass of Arctic Sea ice in 1880? 1955? —–
    (Hmm, where is that post/study of sea ice and CO2?)
    I could go on but this kinds of sums it all:
    From all those flows very few are known to any accuracy.
    Surely you jest…..?

  118. The Engineer says:
    August 5, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    The question still remains though. The rise in CO2 before the start of the 20th century was greater than can be explained by human emissions. The rise in CO2 in the first half the twentieth century can just be explained by human emissions if we assume that nature doesn’t increase absorption, while after 1950 nature suddenly decide to absorb HALF of human emissions.

    This would seem to be a rather large conundrum unless you can explain it ?

    The difference is probably in vegetation: based on the increase vs. emission rates (and d13C changes), the specialists on that matter suppose that until the last decades, vegetation was a source of CO2, nowadays an increasing sink. The first pages of the essay by Pieter Tans give an oversight:
    http://esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/co2conference/pdfs/tans.pdf from page 5 on.
    Not sure in how far human influences on land use change are included in the terrestrial emissions.

    Further, in the first century, the emissions were quite low, within the natural variability…

  119. BillD says:

    Anyone who does not understand that the burning of fossil fuels is the main cause of the regular increase in CO2 that is has been documented over the last 50+ years is clearly unable to understand basic science.

    Anyone who makes unsupported blanket statements of this sort is clearly unable to understand the scientific method, and thus “basic science”.

    Certain findings are widely and clearly demonstrated in science and do not need support by citation and documentation. In my view, the conclusion that fossil fuel burning accounts for the increase in CO2 in the atmosphere fits into that category. That assumes that one has at least read evidence at the basic textbook level. Another well-accepted finding is that the earth follows an orbit around the sun. At one point these issues may have been cotroversial, but the controvery has long since been settled.

    ===========================================

    Nice try, but that ancient orbit-sun controversy is a completely unworthy and false analogy to the current “controversy” CAGW myth-religion, the science of which is so far from being “settled” that it hurts just to type this.

    And the REAL reason that you might say that “certain findings are widely and clearly demonstrated in science and do not need support by citation and documentation” on this issue is because…there is NONE to be found.

    No TRUE documentation.

    Just model conjectures.

    Please produce the definitive measured real-world, real-time, hard evidence showing real-world (not modeled) direct cause and effect between humans, increased CO2, and how it is causing or will cause catastrophic climate change.

    Smokey and many others on here have waited for a long time to see just that…and we we are all still waiting.

    Let’s see the hard evidence!

    Chris
    Norfolk, VA, USA

  120. Ferdinand,

    The surface ocean flux of 1,020GT is the really interesting figure. The amount added by humans is a small percentage of that. Less than 1%

    If there is a downward trend in the ocean surface flux of less than 1/2% of absorption annually, we are off the hook.

    Fish stocks have diminished. Some of this is due no doubt to human consumption, but if it also indicates an increasing scarcity at the base of the food chain, then such a trend is perfectly possible.

    How could we measure such a small trend?

  121. Anthony

    Thanks again for your tireless efforts and exceptional approach. A brief scan of the recent posts column on the sidebar illustrates almost perfectly why you and this blog have enjoyed such well earned success. No one in this debate can claim a monopoly on the truth and in terms of the climate it will, in my view at least, probably be many years or even decades before anyone can with well justified confidence claim to have achieved an inkling of certainty. The path to better understanding can only be traveled successfully if we agree to deal with each with an attitude of honesty and mutual respect and the forum you have provided here is, sadly, a rare exception in promoting that attitude.
    Thanks again and as an old tee shirt I used to own proclaimed “Illegitami Non Carborundum”.

  122. Dave Andrews says:
    August 5, 2010 at 2:28 pm
    Slioch, 5th Aug 10.30am

    According to the US EIA, world CO2 emissions from the consumption and flaring of fossile fuels increased from 18.5 billion metric tons in 1980 t0 29.2 billion metric tons in 2006.

    An increase of 58%

    At the same time CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere increased from 339ppm to 382ppm. An increase of 13%

    So where do you find any correlation between the two figures?

    You are comparing the year-by-year increase of fossil fuel consumption with the overall increase of CO2 over the same period, not the year-by-year increase of CO2… But more about that in part 2.

  123. Dr A Burns says:
    August 5, 2010 at 2:31 pm

    “… That is sufficient proof for the human origin of the increase …”
    You have got to be kidding ! What rubbish !!

    Warming in the past has caused atmospheric CO2 conc. increases … you know, the bit that Mr Gore tried to hide … there is nothing to say it is still not happening.

    If you can show that global temperatures have been falling, yet atmospheric CO2 conc has been increasing, you might have an ounce of credibility !

    As already said several times: the effect of temperature is about 8 ppmv/C over long term. The LIA was maximum 1 C colder than today (not even taking Mann’s hockeystick in consideration), thus that makes 8 ppmv extra. But we see over 100 ppmv extra.
    Further 1945-1975: cooling trend, CO2 rising. 2000-2010 no temperature trend, CO2 strongly rising.

  124. Paul Birch says:
    August 5, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    We do not know! The natural cycle is so variable and uncertain, our understanding of all the relevant mechanisms so lacking, and our inability to carry out controlled experiments so limiting, that the realistic error range of any supposedly comprehensive “prediction” would far exceed the magnitude of the observed increase.

    Neither in the (smoothed) ice cores, nor today with very accurate measurements, there is any large variability visible: both the temperature swing over the seasons as the year-by-year variability show some 4 ppmv/C change, nothing more, over the past 50+ years. Thus the possibility of large swings is rather questionable.

    Further, if we stop all emissions today, and the levels wouldn’t drop, then the IPCC is right to claim that (part of) the emissions would stay in the atmosphere forever?

  125. Steven mosher says:
    August 5, 2010 at 2:25 pm
    I’m waiting for someone to argue that our burning of fossil fuels DIMINISHES
    the C02 in the atmosphere.

    Challenge accepted!

    More fossil fuels burnt means more CO2 and soot in the atmosphere.

    This causes the formation of additional, larger water droplets to form in clouds.

    More CO2 dissolves into these larger droplets…

    And by a cruel twist of fate the quantity of dissolved CO2 is greater than that released by burning fossil fuels.

    I can not prove it is right! You can not prove it is wrong! But we both can speculate!

    If you are not willing to take up that argument and offer proof, then the balance of the evidence is that we do add C02 to the atmosphere. The current value would be lower BUT FOR our additions.

    The problem is about evidence… or more precisely the LACK OF EVIDENCE…

    The balance of speculation is NOT PROOF – JUST SPECULATION…

    And you talk about science – rolls eyes!

  126. I see the estimation for outgassing of CO2 from the oceans using ice cores are flawed because the planet over the past 160 years has a much higher rise in CO2, yet with only rough 0.8c rise in global temperatures.

    Therefore the data from the ice cores must be incorrect for measurement of CO2 in the air at the time because these are only proxies and don’t match much more accurate recent trends in ppm of CO2 and global temperatures.

    The more accurate estimations don’t show a 1c rise in temperature per 8ppm of CO2, but ~139 ppm per 1c rise in global temperatures. This is if only CO2 warmed the climate, which it didn’t.

    Therefore as climate is still dominated by natural cycles and any trend from CO2 is still underlying, natural cycles must be at least 50 percent of the warming. (the past decade shows this)

    Hence, using more accurate instruments the current planet shows a 1c rise/ 278 ppm of CO2 at the lowest.

    My conclusion is the outgassing of CO2 from the oceans is much higher than claimed from using ice cores. Looks a figure at least 35 times the value currently given.

  127. Theo Goodwin says:
    August 5, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    Ferdinand Engelbeen writes:

    “I don’t see any reason that the oceans should absorb CO2 faster than the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere. That isn’t seen in the figures either: the increase in emissions and the absorption rate (oceans + vegetation) follow each other with a near constant ratio.”

    Of course you don’t, because you have not investigated it. I just offered that example as one alternative hypothesis. There are a million others. And we should all be honest and admit that all of them have to be investigated scientifically before we can claim that they can be taken for granted. That’s how science works. It is not engineering.

    Sometimes it helps to have had a working life as an engineer, to bring some scientists back on their feet… Of course I did look at the emission/absorption rates and they fit magically. But I can’t show all background I have sampled in over four years in one page. Thus that point is for the next part.

    Don’t underestimate what science already has investigated about the CO2 cycle, as well in the atmosphere as in the oceans…

  128. Hi Ferdinand!

    You say that pH controls pCO2 and therefore a decade of stagnation in CO2 is no problem for the idea that increasing human CO2 outlet controls CO2 levels?

    But pH levels have stagnated too:

    Summa: we have constant pH and CO2 for a decade, so why should not the human emissions result in increased pCO2 according to your thoughts?

    Yes, then you also mentions temperatures. They have stagnated too in the period – so in what way should temperatures explain that human CO2 emmisions does not lead to increased pCO2 in oceans?

    And finaly, you mention that BIOLIFE could be a reason that pCO2 is indeed stagnating while human CO2 outlet is increasing:
    YESYESYES!!! Say it again :-)
    Thats just the point, human outlet appaers more and more chess-mate by natures forces, and therefore what ever we humans do the CO2-levels are still less under human control while the Earths biosphere is awakening and… eating CO2 faster and faster.
    We cant make CO2 increase as Hansen and co believes even if we wanted too :-)

    K.R. Frank Lansner

  129. Sorry, a few mistakes

    Should be ppmv and any contribution from CO2 is underlying, plus not 35 times, but 17 times.

    Can this be corrected and this deleted?

  130. Ross Jackson says:
    August 5, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    My training, Physical Chemistry. I have also done plenty of background reading on many of the issues surrounding CO2. The more I learn, the more I realise how little we know! These comments are just to encourage you all to read more widely.

    The Natural sink rate is NOT 4 GT. That is just the current equilibrium reaction to human additions. Given humans increase CO2 emissions, this figure would rise from chemical equilibrium processes. It is also climate related, so may fall or rise based in decadel climate cycles.

    Historical data, ice cores and stomata data will be handled at the end parts. Historical data and stomata data have their own biases and problems…

    Of course the current natural sink rate is about 4 GtC, that is about 55% of the current emissions. The same ratio for over 50 years now. That is the response to a disturbance of a physical equilibrium. The equilibrium may fall or rise with temperature, but we are far away from that equilibrium…

  131. The logic seemed solid at first – We’ve added more CO2 to the atmosphere than is there now, so nature must have absorbed CO2 rather than added CO2. But there is a simple counter proof to demonstrate that that logic does not always hold. Water vapor. By burning fossil fuels we have released a great deal of water vapor into the atmosphere, but the concentration has risen only slightly if at all. That means nature is absorbing rather than adding to the water vapor in the atmosphere. Yet if we stopped adding water vapor, nature would just stop absorbing it and the levels would stay about the same. If somehow we managed to instantly remove all the water vapor from the atmosphere, nature would start rapidly adding water vapor to the atmosphere instead of removing it as it is doing now. It may well be that much of the water vapor in the atmosphere was put there by us, but that doesn’t mean the level would be any different if we hadn’t put it there. Of course my counter example doesn’t prove that we didn’t increase the CO2 levels.

  132. Good to see the criticism of this work.

    I fully agree with those that say we can’t conclude that man is the major contributor to increases in atmospheric CO2 until we know much more about other carbon sources/sinks – almost all living things, volcanoes, forest fires and oceans – just to name a few – clearly there is a lot that could be influencing atmospheric CO2 levels.

    We can be sure man has emitted large amounts of CO2 from burning fossil fuels which can be roughly estimated. However, how can we be sure that this is what drives the overall CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere without knowing any of the other natural processes to any degree of accuracy?

    This article is just another example of the lack of scientific rigor prevalent today. Correlations and back of the envelope assumptions are NOT how I was taught Physics. You have to quantify the unknowns BEFORE you can draw conclusions.

  133. So humans have added carbon….and?

    Are we to assume then that warming is caused by humans? Or would that just be conflation?

    Adding co2 to earths atmosphere does not warm the earth. There are other factors enacted in earths climate system from increased co2 that results in cooling the earth.

  134. #
    #
    Scarlet Pumpernickel says:
    August 5, 2010 at 3:23 pm

    http://gerlach1991.geologist-1011.mobi/

    The volcano science for undersea volcanoes is certainly not settled
    _____________________________________________________________
    You can say that again. We do not even know how many undersea volcanoes there are or how active they are.
    Thousand of new volcanoes revealed beneath the waves “…This is over 10 times more than have been found before.

    The team estimates that in total there could be about 3 million submarine volcanoes, 39,000 of which rise more than 1000 metres over the sea bed. “

    Submarine Ring of Fire 2004 Exploration, NOAA-OE “bubbles of liquid CO2 escape from the white chimneys and surrounding seafloor “

    Submarine Volcanoes “Currently there are over five thousand active volcanoes underwater “

    Iceland: Volcano emitting 150-300,000 tonnes of CO2 daily ” “
    And RUSSIA and Alaska: Volcano Activity Notifications

  135. Paul Birch says:
    August 5, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    I presume you meant “don’t add anything…”. But your argument is still a non sequitur, because the natural fluxes are not in balance over any timescale. Sometimes they have been hugely out of balance. We have no independent measurement that could tell us whether or not they have been in balance over the past century, or by how much they have been in imbalance. Secondly, it does not follow that the natural fluxes are the same as they would have been in the absence of man-made emissions; you can’t assume their sum is unchanged; indeed, your own argument requires that it has changed, since the increase does not equate to the anthropogenic flux. Thirdly, human activities are not all “one-way”; agriculture and irrigation are obvious counter-example; less obvious are things like ploughing and engineering works that mobilise sediments, fertilising coastal waters and increasing natural CO2 take-up by plankton. In principle, such effects could even outweigh the direct CO2 emissions (they probably don’t, but it is not absurd to suppose that they might).

    The accurate measurements we have in the past 50+ years show that the unbalance in natural fluxes is not more than +/- 2 GtC, which causes the year-by-year variability. Over the past 150 years we have two ice cores (Law Dome) with 8 years resolution. Any one year peak of 40 GtC or a sustained change of 4 GtC over a period of 10 years would have been noticed above the accuracy of the cores. Thus it seems very unlikely that there were very large unbalances in recent times. Of course the further back, the more coarse the resolution is.

    As far as we know, there was a balance between temperature and CO2 levels: besides the possible year-by-year unbalances, there is a good correlation between the two even over thousands of years. That balance now is disturbed by the human emissions.

    Agreed that humans also can help to sequester some CO2, but until now the emissions still by far overwhelm the sequestering…

  136. Jeremy says:
    August 5, 2010 at 4:19 pm
    This article is just another example of the lack of scientific rigor prevalent today. Correlations and back of the envelope assumptions are NOT how I was taught Physics. You have to quantify the unknowns BEFORE you can draw conclusions.

    BRAVO! Standing ovation.

  137. Robinson says:
    August 5, 2010 at 8:26 am

    To be honest this discussion is really not very interesting. Does anyone still dispute the fact that mankind has increased the amount of Co2 in the atmosphere

    I was thinking the same thing.

    I think the reader is supposed to make the mental leap that this human caused increase in co2 proves humans are causing global warming, and also the predicted disasters from global warming are on the way from it. But all of us have gone around in that circle argument so many times that those who don’t think mankind is bringing disasters to earth from their car exhaust expect proof, a deeper explanation, that co2 actually does warm the earth and that these disasters are inevitable. Otherwise we are just running over the same old tedious ground.

    But I do thank Anthony for this post since this comment thread is providing plenty of good reasoning why people should question every aspect of ‘global warming’. The more the ‘science’ of manmade global warming is brought out into the light the more people will see how poor the case is.

  138. Milwaukee Bob says:
    August 5, 2010 at 3:10 pm

    From all those flows very few are known to any accuracy.
    Surely you jest…..?

    All these flows are of not the slightest interest, as we know the balance at the end of the year: 4 GtC more sink than source. Thus without the human addition of 8 GtC/year, there would be a loss of 4 GtC in the first year.

    You don’t need to know all detailed transactions of your bussiness during the day to know what your loss or profit was at the end of the day: just count what is in your cash register…

  139. tallbloke says:
    August 5, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    Ferdinand,

    The surface ocean flux of 1,020GT is the really interesting figure. The amount added by humans is a small percentage of that. Less than 1%

    If there is a downward trend in the ocean surface flux of less than 1/2% of absorption annually, we are off the hook.

    Be careful: the 1,020 GtC is what is in the reservoir, that is not the flux! The exchange between the ocean surface and the atmosphere is about 90 GtC (rough estimate), that is the flux, but even that is not of interest, as much of it returns in another season (or another millennium, via the deep oceans). Only the difference between the two fluxes in and out is of interest for the mass balance: about 2 GtC of CO2 mass is ultimately net absorbed by the oceans from the 8 GtC addition by humans…

  140. Alex says:
    August 5, 2010 at 8:53 am

    Did anybody say we didn’t increase co2 in the air? I don’t get this who is he arguing against?

    As in my comment above, I think the reader is to assume that man is causing global warming. But the science does not show this.

    The cost of postage stamps has gone up in the last 100 years. That must be causing warming. This comparison is just as valid as saying warming is caused by co2. And it may be an even better relation since the only science to come out has show that co2 increases actually cause cooling because of negative feedback.

    There is no data in the historical, or current, scientific record that shows co2 causes warming in the climate.

  141. Frank Lansner says:
    August 5, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    Wops, heres the link:

    I made the illustration from AR4 illustrations as you can see. So who can “deny” that data are valid ? ;-)
    ________________________________________
    Frank does the pCO2 in the oceans correlate to the ocean oscillations? Perhaps with a bit of lag? It does look like it.

    Atlantic (AMO)

    Pacific (PDO)

  142. I basically agree with the gist of the article.

    The carbon cycle pic is a bit out of date, though (the totals are a bit higher by now).

    The big question is whether feedbacks are positive or negative. (I see greater evidence so far that they are negative.)

  143. Frank Lansner says:
    August 5, 2010 at 4:00 pm
    Hi Ferdinand!

    You say that pH controls pCO2 and therefore a decade of stagnation in CO2 is no problem for the idea that increasing human CO2 outlet controls CO2 levels?

    But pH levels have stagnated too:

    http://hidethedecline.eu/media/pH%20in%20oceans/d9.jpg

    Dear Frank, I see that you still don’t get it: pCO2 is not the important factor for the total amount of carbon in the oceans. pCO2 is only related to free CO2 in solution, not to the bicarbonate and carbonate ions, which give the bulk (99%) of all CO2 in the oceans.

    As the pH decrease seems to level off, that may be the reason that pCO2 and thus the free CO2 in the oceans levels off too. But that doesn’t influence the total amount of carbon in the oceans, which still is going up in parallel with CO2 in the atmosphere.
    Not the reverse. If the CO2 levels of the oceans were the cause of the increase in the atmosphere, then the total carbon levels in the oceans would drop, not increase.

    The same problem for more biolife in the oceans: that should reduce total carbon levels, but there still is an increase.

    ——————-

    Wow, this is quite intense… Need some sleep now (it’s 2 AM here…).

  144. This is not a closed system, carbon is mineralized or in the process of being mineralized all the time. Bogs are one type of loss of carbon from the biotic/atmospheric pair. The other is the generation of organic sediment in the oceans; my guess is that this is much underestimated (you 0.2 gty is probably out by an order of magnitude).
    As for inputs, burning fossil fuels is obvious ans is the leakage of methane/CO2 from deep underground. There is more life, and carbon, beneath the ground surface than above; it just tends to move more slowly. Chemolithotropic bacteria are forever mobilizing carbonates as a side product of their metabolism.
    The amount of CO2 released by volcanic and non-volcanic carbonate heating is also problamatic.
    However, any way you cut it your diagram is wrong; at steady state the rate of influx (vulcanism + weathering of rocks) must match the efflux (mineralization), yours does not.
    Finally, one has to look at Kellings isotope ratio’s very carefully. He is a top rate investigator and the work he has done on 12C/13C/14C is very interesting; more interesting is the changes he observes in Ar/N ratios. His data suggest that there has been a big change in gas exchange between the atmosphere and the oceans. Examining changes in Ar, which is non-biotic, soluble in water, and generated by both weathering and volcanic action should be as important as measuring CO2.

  145. Have a watch going on “global warming” & have noticed the climate alarmists’ new catch phrase is “undeniable” & no longer “settled science.”

  146. @Dan Evans — thanks. I googled this up. Seems to be on point…

    http://www2.glos.ac.uk/gdn/origins/life/carbon.htm

    “Alternatively, isotopic fractionation takes place during a chemical reaction. In this case it is the speed of the reaction which is important. In other words there is a kinetic control on the fractionation. In detail the strength of a chemical bond is dependent upon atomic mass, such that bond strength increases with the substitution of heavier isotopes. In biological processes, when inorganic carbon is used to make organic compounds, 12C is more weakly bonded and reacts more readily than 13C, because of its lighter mass. This means that organic matter tends to become enriched in 12C relative to the reservoir of inorganic carbon from which it has been drawn.”

  147. Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
    August 5, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    You don’t need to know all detailed transactions of your bussiness during the day to know what your loss or profit was at the end of the day: just count what is in your cash register…

    Yeah, that’s cute but misses the point when you don’t how much you have in the bank.

    How much CO2 is in the deep ocean, Ferdinand?

    Are you aware of the recent discovery of liquid CO2 coming of oceanic ridges and it’s so deep and cold it stays liquid for God only knows how long?

    Do YOU know how long? Of course you don’t. Stop bluffing. This isn’t settled science.

  148. Ferdinand:

    You and I have debated these matters for several years.

    Above, at August 5, 2010 at 10:25 am, you assert:

    “Yes, but if humans add 8 GtC per year as CO2 a year and we see only an increase of 4 GtC per year in the atmosphere, then all other flows together, whatever their variation within or over the years, must remove the difference. The variability of the natural removal rate is quite low: +/- 1 ppmv/year (or +/-2 GtC/year, about half the current emissions in year-by-year spread).”

    From that, you assume the increase of “an increase of 4 GtC per year in the atmosphere” is an accumulation of part of the anthropogenic emission. Sorry, but that assumption is a logical error.

    In the absence of knowledge of how natural emissions (and sequestrations) are varying, then any one (or more) of them could be responsible for the observed increase.

    There are several inputs and outputs to the atmosphere that are much larger than the anthropogenic emission. Indeed, as your first (not numbered) figure and your Figure 2 both show, during each year the CO2 in the atmosphere increases then decreases by an order magnitude more than the anthropogenic emission of a year. This increase and decrease within each year is known as the seasonal variation.

    So, the annual increase to the CO2 in the air for a year is the residual of the seasonal variation of the year. And the residual is about an order of magnitude less than the seasonal variation which is induced by variations in the natural emissions and sequestrations.

    This residual could be induced by the anthropogenic emission affecting some component of the system, but it is clearly not merely an accumulation of the anthropogenic emission for the following reasons.

    Firstly, as your Figure 2 shows, the system rapidly adjusts during the year in a manner that does not suggest it is near to saturation. Indeed, the graph strongly suggests that most CO2 emission (both natural and anthropogenic) is sequestered near its source. And the sequestration rate at Northern latitudes (e.g. at Barrow) is more than 100 times the rate of human emission (as your Figure 2 shows). This strongly suggests that the natural sequestration processes can easily sequester the small anthropogenic emission.

    Secondly, as others have pointed out, your assumption requires that in the absence of the anthropogenic emission the CO2 in the atmosphere would fall by 4 GtC per year. Therefore, it should have declined at that rate prior to the anthropogenic emission. However, such a decrease would have removed all the CO2 from the air millennia in the past, and all life would have then ceased. But that did not happen because we are here to debate it.

    Thirdly, your argument is circular. You assume the rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration is an accumulation of the anthropogenic emission then say, “See, the emission is sufficiently large to provide more than the observed increase”. But a change to any other emission (or sequestration) that is larger than the rise could also be said to be sufficiently large to provide more than the observed increase.

    And your only justification for choosing the anthropogenic emission as the cause is that we know its magnitude but we do not know the magnitudes of the variations to the (much larger) natural emissions and sequestrations!

    I do not know if the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration is natural or anthropogenic in part or in whole, but I want to know. And I regret that your assumptions and assertions add nothing to available knowledge concerning what I want to know.

    Richard

  149. The limiting factor in the oceanic “bank account”, which is hugely larger than the atmosphere’s “cash drawer” at the end of each business day (to continue a silly metaphor) could very well be partial CO2 pressure at the ocean/atmosphere interface. If the anthropogenic contribution didn’t raise the partial pressure the ocean would have just released more from its enormous reserves.

    So there. Prove that wrong.

  150. John Hounslow says:
    August 5, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    I invite you to visit http://www.daviesand.com/Choices/Precautionary_Planning/New_Data/
    and examine the CO2 growth deduced from the Vostok Ice Cores starting around 10,000 years ago, when there were few “men” to exert a man-made effect. Compare with the comparable phase of previous climate cycles. Something has changed in the current cycle. Why?
    _____________________________________________________–
    At that site the Vostok Ice Core data shows the CO2 dips below 200ppm almost to 180 ppm for long periods.

    There is this statement:
    “As CO2 is a critical component of growth, plants in environments with inadequate CO2 levels – below 200 ppm – will cease to grow or produce.” This is based on real life measurements by those dealing with greenhouses for a living.

    http://www.planetnatural.com/site/xdpy/kb/implementing-co2.html

    Another paper states under 200 pm CO2 trees starve, but has since disappeared . It was http://biblioteca.universia.net/ficha.do?id=912067

    This entire article is refuted here: http://www.co2web.info/
    This particular pdf looking at the dogma and politics behind the 70 years of CO2 measurement as well as the science. It is a very interesting read. http://www.co2web.info/ESEF3VO2.pdf

    Unfortunately Dr. Segalstad of Resource- and Environmental Geology,
    Geological Museum, University of Oslo is swamped and can not write a rebuttal to this article.

  151. The main problem with this assertion about it being humans fault is that it is falsified by the recent economic downturn, in which we saw an 8% drop in fossil fuel consumption globally since 2006. This should have reduced CO2 emission growth significantly and possibly caused it to go negative for the first time in decades. The fact that the CO2 growth has continued unabated demonstrates that human fossil fuel consumption is NOT the primary driver of CO2 increases, instead it is the biosphere responding to the end of the Little Ice Age that is the primary driver of CO2 growth.

  152. Doing a mass balance is not rocket science. It is done all the time in chemical processes. But as a matter of principle I dont trust the data for this one. May be Mr. Engelbeen should ask Steve McIntyre for an audit.

  153. I think one thing has been clearly demonstrated by some physicists who Anthony evidently cherry-picked because they happen to support his beliefs — this is far from settled science as a greater number of equally qualified individuals have surfaced to call the OPs no more than opinion trying to masquerade itself as settled science.

    Very little of the this “science” is settled. It’s mostly all correlations offered up as causation few of which are unbiguously supported by observation and experiment and most of which are supported only by theoretical models of reality. The QM descriptions are all over the board. Ask 10 physicists about deep questions in QM and you get different answers depending on which QM interpretation the responder has decided is the one that deserves his faith.

    Settled science my ass. It’s bandwagon science.

  154. Ferdinand Engelbeen writes:

    “Don’t underestimate what science already has investigated about the CO2 cycle, as well in the atmosphere as in the oceans…”

    I have been searching for the information for years. All I can find is what can be deduced from characteristics of the CO2 molecule and the theory of radiation. As regards credible studies of actual phenomena, physical processes, there aren’t any. The reason there aren’t any is that AGW proponents don’t actually do science. Successful science always culminates in reasonably well-confirmed hypotheses, though experiments that falsify can be considered successes too. AGW proponents do not produce reasonably well-confirmed hypotheses and certainly have never reported a falsifying experiment. The only thing I know from AGW proponents that I will dignify with the name of hypothesis is Mann’s hockey stick, imperfect as it is. I believe that if genuine hypotheses do in fact exist and support the AGW thesis they would be plastered all over the place. Where are they? Can anyone state the hypotheses that describe the natural regularities that constitute the La Nina phenomenon? I don’t think so. Can anyone explain the role of CO2 in the La Nina phenomenon? I don’t think so. Can anyone explain the energy budget of the La Nina phenomenon? I don’t think so. I use La Nina for an example simply because the name is widely recognized. But I believe that the same is true for at least 99% of all relevant natural processes.

    Why do AGW proponents not produce reasonably confirmed hypotheses about the behavior of CO2 in natural processes? Because that is not their goal. Each and every paper produced by an AGW proponent has as its conclusion a dire warning about the harm caused by production of CO2. That is not science; rather, that is moral philosophy. It will never produce reasonably well-confirmed hypotheses about natural phenomena. It will produce only moral prescriptions. If you can rewrite your paper and choose not to treat 1850 and 270 ppm as NORMS then I will be greatly impressed. But I do not see how you can. You take 1850 and 270 ppm as a norm for a closed system and argue that mankind is responsible for all increase in CO2 concentrations after 1850. Do you not? Is that a scientific argument? No. It is a moral argument. Science would give us hypothese that explain the behavior of CO2 at 377 ppm but it would not tell us who is to blame. You tell me who is to blame but you do not provide the reasonably well-confirmed hypotheses that would enable me to understand the behavior of CO2 in this environment.

  155. Anthony appears to be doing what I’ve seen a whole bunch of young earth creationists do. They accept some fundamental but unproven and unprovable axioms of the random mutation plus natural selection crowd, namely the age of the earth, and say “well I’m willing to accept an old earth but God still designed it all”. This gives imparts a patina of at least accepting some of the science as being settled so the YEC isn’t labeled a total hopeless mystic crank.

    I suspect if Anthony questioned the more fundamental axioms of the CAGW crowd he fears it would put him squarely in the crank category so, purely for appearance’ sake he doesn’t question certain beliefs masquerading as settled science. Beliefs like the like the so-called greenhouse effect being marginally functional and beliefs like CO2 rise being due to anthropogenic sources. These things are not settled science and it’s dishonest to pretend they are.

  156. It is truly irrelevant whether humans are increasing CO2 levels or not because the effect is negligible as CO2 cannot and does not drive the climate, it follows the climate, at least until recently. (Beck’s bottle data collection questions the validity of the cherry-picked contention that CO2 was historically low until recently.) In either case, CO2 cannot trap heat or act as a greenhouse and water vapor is NOT a positive forcing factor as it is part of a massive global heat engine which carries heat upwards and away from the surface – it’s called the water cycle.

    CO2 is plant food and plants of all kinds thrive with more CO2. CO2 cannot acidify the oceans as the oceans are a complex buffer and CO2 is part of an extended equilibrium which cannot eat the calcium carbonate it leads to. In fact, more CO2 means more calcium carbonate, not less. More plant food, more food, and more efficient use of nutrients and water – there’s no down side here.

  157. Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
    August 5, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    Werner Weber says:
    August 5, 2010 at 10:26 am

    The linear increase of CO2 is your problem, or what is equilibrium, part II.

    That is for part 2, but I have no problems with a linear increase of CO2 (in fact it is slightly exponential, together with the emissions, see: http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/klim_img/temp_emiss_increase.jpg )

    A quick eyeball tells me that the increase in CO2 from that graph seems to relate much more closely to the increase in temperatures than anthropogenic emissions. That would support the argument that the increase is mainly dues to temperature rises.

    Neither follow the amount of anthropogenic emissions well.

    That’s just the way it looks….

  158. Before The Big Bang there was The Steady State after The Big Bang will be The ________ . Before The AGW was The Little Ice Age after the AGW will be The _________ . The Psyence may be settled for the Mann-kind of the World but the Science ain’t settled for anybody, anywhere, on anything, at anytime, anyhow. When Pi is finally defined as have “so many” places, we “may” be able to quit the game and say we won. But then, what will we do?

  159. Slioch says:
    August 5, 2010 at 10:30 am

    Of course, the interesting question is for how much longer the oceans are going to behave as a net sink for CO2.

    Slioch, isnt the answer provided by Henry’s Law? (which simplistically put defines how the equilibrium between whats in the atmosphere and whats in the oceans is reached)

    cheers

    J

  160. Ferdinand Engelbeen said at 4:39 pm
    Milwaukee Bob ….
    All these flows are of not the slightest interest….
    What? Surely you jest!! You can’t possibly be suggesting the “proof” of your formula is – the one flow we can somewhat accurately estimate is X, therefore X is responsible for the overall increase, just ignore A thru W, we don’t know what they are anyhow. And your analogy of calculating CO2 flow contributions to a business situation – You don’t need to know all detailed transactions of your bussiness during the day to know what your loss or profit was at the end of the day: just count what is in your cash register… is a perfect example of your underwhelming simplistic thinking. I am not a physicist or a chemist and I do not play either on TV so you can probably run circles around me spouting scientific formulas, but trust when I say, after 50+ years of owning and running business of all kinds successfully, if all you are doing at the end of the day is counting your cash AND ignoring ALL (but one of) the “flows” that put it there your an – – – – well, I don’t want this to be sniped so let’s just leave it at – you’re going to fall flat on your corporate butt! Very much like what you have done – – – ah, let’s just leave it at- “flows” are obviously not your strong suit.

  161. As a result of an article by Prof. Lance Endersbee, ‘Oceans are the main regulators of carbon dioxide,’ I have entertained the notion that the ocean might act as a huge temperature-sensitive reservoir of dissolved CO2. I find, however, that I cannot accept the high temperature sensitivity factors (over 100 ppm/deg C) required for this to be effective.

    Thus, while I do think that CO2 levels should track major climate shifts and biota changes, I have no real reason to doubt the primary attribution of the recent CO2 rise to anthropogenic activity.

  162. Ross Jackson says:
    August 5, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    My training, Physical Chemistry. I have also done plenty of background reading on many of the issues surrounding CO2. The more I learn, the more I realise how little we know! These comments are just to encourage you all to read more widely…..
    ____________________________________
    Oh good another Chemist!

    I have a question for you. Mauna Loa Observatory in the 50’s and 60’s took measurements with “a new infra-red (IR) absorbing instrumental method” In the seventies I tried, at two separate corporations, to use a infra-red (IR) Spectrophotometer for analytical work and gave up in frustration because I could not get reproducible results even when using an added internal calibration standard.

    Have you ever used an IR for analytical work and were you succesful? Remeber back then there were no computers attached to analytical instruments.

    Mauna Loa Observatory states:
    “4. In keeping with the requirement that CO2 in background air should be steady, we apply a general “outlier rejection” step, in which we fit a curve to the preliminary daily means for each day calculated from the hours surviving step 1 and 2, and not including times with upslope winds. All hourly averages that are further than two standard deviations, calculated for every day, away from the fitted curve (“outliers”) are rejected. This step is iterated until no more rejections occur.”

    http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/about/co2_measurements.html

    From: http://www.co2web.info/ESEF3VO2.pdf
    At the Mauna Loa Observatory the measurements were taken with a new infra-red (IR) absorbing instrumental method, never validated versus the accurate wet chemical techniques. Critique has also been directed to the analytical methodology and sampling error problems (Jaworowski et al., 1992 a; and Segalstad, 1996, for further references), and the fact that the results of the measurements were “edited” (Bacastow et al., 1985); large portions of raw data were rejected, leaving just a small fraction of the raw data subjected to averaging techniques (Pales & Keeling, 1965).
    The acknowledgement in the paper by Pales & Keeling (1965) describes how the Mauna Loa CO2 monitoring program started: “The Scripps program to monitor CO2 in the atmosphere and oceans was conceived and initiated by Dr. Roger Revelle who was director of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography while the present work was in progress. Revelle foresaw the geochemical implications of the rise in atmospheric CO2 resulting from fossil fuel combustion, and he sought means to ensure that this ‘large scale geophysical experiment’, as he termed it, would be adequately documented as it occurred. During all stages of the present work Revelle was mentor, consultant, antagonist. He shared with us his broad knowledge of earth science and appreciation for the oceans and atmosphere as they really exist, and he inspired us to keep in sight the objectives which he had originally persuaded us to accept.” Is this the description of true, unbiased research?
    The annual mean CO2 level as reported from Mauna Loa for 1959….

  163. The carbon ratios demonstrate nothing other than that there are some human emissions from fossil fuels taking place. That such is occurring is obvious. It does not, however, follow that the changing carbon rations demonstrate that rising CO2 levels are due to fossil fuel combustion.

    Consider for a moment, that if half of emissions are reabsorbed by the biosphere, if there were no emissions and sink was static, then CO2 would be declining year over year at about the rate it is now increasing. This suggests by the same logic of the IPCC that the mean surface temperature would fall by several degrees C in the next hundred years.

    Of course no one believes that to be so because they believe that the sink is not static. If emissions slow down, the sink slows down. If you believe that, then the equilibrium concentration of CO2 is determined at least in part endogenously to the emissions themselves.

    So, some but not all of the increasing CO2 concentration is due to man-made emissions.

  164. The Engineer writes:

    “Why doesn’t your Nasa figure show the largest Carbon Sink – Chalk. By far the greatest depositry for carbon, all of which must have been at some time in the atmosphere.”

    Cool. Tell us more. How is chalk the biggest sink and how does it do the job?

  165. RE: Dave Springer says: (August 5, 2010 at 5:55 pm) “I suspect if Anthony questioned the more fundamental axioms of the CAGW crowd he fears it would put him squarely in the crank category so, purely for appearance’ sake he doesn’t question certain beliefs masquerading as settled science.”

    I believe there may be a point in letting the ‘other guy’ know that you are at least willing to hear him out. Perhaps he will respond in kind.

  166. With reference to IPCC 4AR page 515 fig 7.3 this is a very similar diagram to the NASA diagram shown in the article with the exception that the IPCC diagram breaks the carbon down into natural and anthropogenic ( black and red numbers) I am not sure where Ferdinand learned his mass balance calculation methodology from but there are some glaring mistakes in his assumptions and methods. Since the carbon passes between the ocean, land and air in varying fluxes depending on a number of conditions, ocean temperature being one, a mass balance can only be performed considering all three sinks as one total unit.
    Back to fig 7.3, IPCC show the content of the ocean surface as 900 GT natural 18 GT anthropogenic but when this same water evaporates the vapour contains 70.5 GT natural and 20 GT anthropogenic, now the normal rules of mass balance would dictate that the ratio in the vapour must be the same as the ratio in the liquid which produced the vapour. Same for the air land exchange, there is a ratio of 597 natural to 165 anthropogenic in the air but the vegetation absorbs 120 natural to 2.6 anthropogenic please explain how this can happen.
    If 20% of all atmospheric carbon is recycled annually then 20% of the anthropogenic carbon must be recycled and emissions to the air must be in the ratio of the contents of the land and water. I have posted this before so the recycle is a little higher but the principle of true mass balance is the same.

    The following calculation shows the effect of human produced CO2 on our atmosphere.
    There is approximately 860 GT of carbon in the atmosphere which is approximately 2.2 GT per ppm. A very conservative estimate of the total carbon cycled in and out of the atmosphere is 215 GT per year which is 25% of the carbon in the atmosphere, personally my calculations are closer to 400 GT per year. Break that down into weeks and you get 0.48 % per week of all the carbon in the atmosphere.
    Now construct a simple Excel program which starts with 100 GT i.e.45.5ppm of anthropogenic carbon, deduct 0.48 % and on the next line you have the balance remaining after 1 week of the original amount i.e. 99.52 GT just repeat that calculation ( copy and paste ) and you have 78.24 GT of your original carbon left after 52 weeks.
    This means 21.76 GT of the original anthropogenic carbon has been removed from the atmosphere but our output is only 9 GT per year so that does not balance.
    To achieve a balance one must reduce the anthropogenic carbon to 18.8 ppm i.e. 41.36 GT. Now 21.76% of 41.36 is 9 GT per year thus the CO2 levels are not increasing because of human emissions they remain in equilibrium. Now if you assume a 400 GT carbon cycle per year the human contribution really becomes insignificant.
    If you think my numbers are way out go to page 515 of IPCC AR4 fig 7.3 and check them out.

  167. Pamela Gray says:
    August 5, 2010 at 9:14 am

    The Engineer has a very valid point. If fossil fuel consumption is the culprit, the percent CO2 increase should be increasing, not remain steady.

    I concur Pamela. Whether viewed in terms of percent OR in terms of PPM per year the atmospheric increase should be reflective of increase in anthropogenic CO2 emissions. That reflection being somewhat proportionate, which however, it is not.

    There has been a long term trend of annual increase in atmospheric CO2. However, it is not consistent with emission levels. This graph is of the annual additions of CO2 to the atmosphere.

    The graph covers Mauna Loa data from 1959 thru 2008. During that time span anthropogenic CO2 emissions have increased (some reports) by six fold. In 1959 about 1 ppm CO2 was added to the atmosphere. Rather than 6 ppm being added, due to man emitting 6x the amount of CO2, in 2008 there was only about 1.5 ppm of increase in CO2.

  168. Going back to fig 7.3 in IPCC 4AR they do state that an all time total of 244 GT of anthropogenic carbon has been released but 100 GT has been sequestered in the ocean floor as carbonates, someone mentioned chalk well here it is. That leaves 144 GT between the ocean land and air but the air has 165 GT of carbon according to the IPCC well I guess they can create it out of nothing and they probably still believe in alchemy as long as it suits their political purpose.

  169. Another thought if the 144 GT of AC were 100% in the air, which is impossible, it would still only create 65 ppm Ferdinand your numbers do not even jive with the IPCC.
    Anthony I know we have to give equal representation to all views and I support this concept but please let us have some presentations which can withstand even a moderate analysis.

  170. Oil (fossel fuels) is natural, man is natural. When man digs oil out of the earth and uses it to his benefit, its natural. If ants were doing the same thing, there would be a documentary on the miracles of nature.

    I notice in the picture that nature provided oil is left out, as if evil man is creating evil oil all by himself.

    The oil is a natural part of our earth, whether it is burnt or spilled. I don’t understand how man’s beneficial use of the oil changes much of anything other than a comfortable and convenient rearrangement of what is already here. Isn’t that what all creatures do?

  171. BillD says:
    August 5, 2010 at 8:44 am
    Anyone who does not understand that the burning of fossil fuels is the main cause of the regular increase in CO2 that is has been documented over the last 50+ years is clearly unable to understand basic science. It’s also true that the two views posted here are not opposites and are not mutually exclusive. Also, to the best of my understanding, the first one on the greeen house effect does not really contradict the role of GHG in climate.

    You neglect to consider the fairly linear rise in CO2 which was happening before the advent of mineral crude.

    Additionally, what with China, India, et al., now contributing a far higher amount to that gas, the rate of rise is still linear.

    Further, even with that continued rise, the global temperature isn’t rising, and indeed if not exactly static, is falling slightly.

    Finally, in your expressed concern over the use of mineral crude, you neglect to consider one thing: If we humans don’t use it, nature will eventually suffocate us with it as it seeps to the surface, and there it will burn by happenstance.

    So then, if it’s okay for nature to eventually sully the surface of the planet with that stuff, then so too should it be for humanity to dispose of it in the most ecologically beneficial and efficient way: By burning it.

    More CO2 = more plants = more O2. What’s your beef with that?

  172. Whilst your article makes great sense, I see one potential flaw – the assumption that co2 levels at Vostok (a very cold place) represent global levels, and that one can draw a global response from it. The Vostok core shows only local temperature and co2 levels (and they are averaged over long periods of time). Co2 levels (and changes in the level) could be smaller in magnitude there than globally (due to the colder temps and more stable southern ocean temp) and would miss smaller scale changes. The 8ppm contribution from Vostok could actually be more globally, though this is all hypothetical and impossible to prove, it is worth noting there are still some uncertainties – particuarly when relying on only antarctic ice cores.

  173. “The Engineer has a very valid point. If fossil fuel consumption is the culprit, the percent CO2 increase should be increasing, not remain steady. ”

    I marked that too. The reply from the author was a promise of a reasoned explanation. I am looking forward to the explanation.

  174. I have often debated with Ferdinand the meaning of measuring CO2 in high places over volcanoes and remote regions where there is no vegetation etc. I see also that Anthony tends to ignore Beck’s compilations some of which were made by the best scientists of the time.

    For me there is no reason to discard chemical methods, particularly as validation to complicated radiation measuring devices which go to a number of convolutions ( meaning integrations with constants and parameters of choice) before numbers come out.

    Let me put it another way: Accepting that Maona Loa and 14 or 50 or so other measurements represent world CO2 , is like using 14 or 50 measurements to get the global temperature, and those preferably at top of mountains.

    Most of them are either with Keeling directly involved in the papers or Keelings’s students.

    It also puts a lot of faith in “well mixed” which AIRS and now the Japanese data show that well mixed is a hypothesis.

    Thus I think we have to wait a few years for the satellite measurements, and for the scientific climate to change from the AGW mantra that pushes everything into a mold.

    So, even if I do not dispute that humans are adding CO2 in the atmosphere, I dispute that the data are unbiased, and the simplistic interpretations of summations and subtractions. This system is nonlinear too.

  175. So, you are saying the partial pressure of CO2 has no effect on the balance?? That is, if we put more CO2 into the atmosphere it won’t slow the release of CO2 from the oceans for a particular temperature??

    Come on guys, TRY to get the science right won’t you??

  176. I note in this discussion a reference to returning to a ‘ground state’ analogous to what an excited electron in an atom does. At the atomic level, the emission spectrum just corresponds to an allowed set of energy states. If this were the case with molecular vibration, I would think we would only see simple sharp spectral lines

    However, when I look at the HITRAN data available online I see a broad array of many sharp spikes. This gives me the impression that molecular vibrations may be in a transition region between the quantum and the continuous worlds. I suspect that each band represents a vibration mode and perhaps each narrow spike represents one of the allowed modal vibration energy states. Imagine a bell that changes tone in steps as the vibration dies out.

    As these molecules are continuously striking one another, each molecule should always be quivering in some agitated state. Perhaps any given photon emission or absorption just corresponds to a single quantum change in an allowed set of multi-level modal vibration energy states — food for thought.

  177. RE:Spector: (August 5, 2010 at 10:30 pm)
    It looks like I misposted this one – It was intended for “CO2 Heats the atmosphere…”

  178. Jim Reedy

    said, “Slioch says:
    August 5, 2010 at 10:30 am

    ‘Of course, the interesting question is for how much longer the oceans are going to behave as a net sink for CO2.’

    Slioch, isnt the answer provided by Henry’s Law?

    No, I don’t think so – or only marginally. CO2 is absorbed into the oceans not only by simply solution (which is where Henry’s Law would apply) but mainly by:

    1. reaction with carbonate ion to form bicarbonate ion:

    CO2 + CO3– + H2O 2HCO3-

    The carbonate ions largely derive from weathering of terrestrial rocks, eg.

    Mg2SiO4 + 2CO2 => SiO2 + 2Mg++ + 2CO3–

    2. By being absorbed via photosynthesis:

    6CO2 + 6H2O => C6H12O6 etc.

    So the recently reported decline in phytoplankton is a concern for CO2 absorption, as well as other things related to the food chain and biodiversity.

    So it is a lot more complicated than if the oceans were pure water and devoid of life. But, of course, both Henry’s Law and paleoclimatic evidence point in the same qualitative direction: the warmer the oceans the less CO2 they can hold.

  179. James Sexton says:
    August 5, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
    August 5, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    James Sexton says:
    August 5, 2010 at 11:38 am

    I see you answered part of my questions with a response to another person. Thanks, but if… [snipped]… is true then how did we get to 2000 ppmv CO2 100 million years ago?

    “Different times: different arrangement of the continents, different temperature/humidity, less calcite deposits,… The 8 ppmv/C only is for the last near million years, more ice age than interglacial, everything before that can’t be compared with current times…”

    Ok, you didn’t respond to my last query and I’m a bit more inebriated, so I hope you’ll forgive me for what some may perceive as abrasion. My abrupt manner should not be conceived as a personal attack.

    You said, ” different arrangement of the continents, different temperature/humidity, less calcite deposits,…”

    Humidity? Did we have more or less H2O then than we do now? Really? I’d like an answer to that.

    In what manner does the arrangement of the continents have to do with any thing relating to our discussion? Do you really think that passes as an honest answer? Personally, I can’t conceive of a better insult to a person such as myself.

    Temperature was different then? No SH?T!!!!!! Again, I can’t conceive a better insult. Aren’t temperatures the [self snip] topic of our conversation!!??!!! Instead of being dismissive, why don’t you try to explain, for all the world to see, how you believe calcite deposits are relevant.

    Anthony, sorry, but where in the hell did you get this guy? I thought he was here for a serious discussion. If I’m wrong, please point it out to me, but I loathe condescending SOBs that try to project some sort of graciousness by talking to us “little people”.

  180. Ferdinand,

    Do you have a copy of NASA’a Fig 1 above with error bounds? I’m particularly interested in the plus/minus figures for the carbon export into the deep ocean from the surface ocean. I think I’ve got them on my old computer but it’s a bit flakey, not least because I keep it in the shed.

    TIA.

    I cannot follow the logic of your argument, no doubt because I have not looked closely enough. My first reading is that you know perfectly (plus or minus) one part of the input to a pipeline but do not know the rest of the input with accuracy. You do not know what control valves are in the pipeline and whether other hands are on those valves. You do not know if there is a processing plant into which the gas flows to be altered into other forms (or, if you know about the plant, you don’t know details of its processes to any accuracy, nor even if it is changing other inputs into the output you are studying) and you don’t know within large error bounds what the outputs are at the other end of the pipeline. And yet you can assign the output change of one product accurately (plus or minus) because you know the increase of the input of that product. Hmmm.

    I’m obviously missing something here — logic was never my strongpoint — but then I never followed the teleconnections argument either (I laughed when I first read that one, asuming it was a joke). I will think about it.

    JF
    Hint: look at the possible changes in the uptake, not just changes in the input.

  181. Ferdinand Engelbeen………. did you really imply the arrangements of the continents were pertinent to the atmospheric CO2 of earth? How so?

    Did you really imply the global humidity was different in relation to atmospheric CO2? How so?

    When you stated “different times”, does that mean atmospheric CO2 and the global temperature changes with time?

    I’d love to hear about calcite deposits and then laws of conservation of mass.

    Best wishes,

    James Sexton

  182. DocMartyn says:
    August 5, 2010 at 5:04 pm
    quote
    Finally, one has to look at Kellings isotope ratio’s very carefully. He is a top rate investigator and the work he has done on 12C/13C/14C is very interesting; more interesting is the changes he observes in Ar/N ratios. His data suggest that there has been a big change in gas exchange between the atmosphere and the oceans.
    unquote

    Have you any links to his work? My particular interest is this topic.

    JF

  183. Tony, the level of “discussion” goes down. You need better contributors.

    To the post of Ferdinand Engelbeen>

    Your putting of brackets in the mass balance Eq. is purely political. Mathematics tells us, addition is commutative and it is associative. Thus, your Eq. does not prove anything. Yet, it tells us that the “mankind CO2-emissions” is smaller than the uncertainties in the “natural” sources and sinks of CO2. Thus, the direct mankind CO2-emissions cannot be blamed for CO2 increase. This political preconceived satement diverts us from the search for the real cause of the observed CO2 rise.

    To the post by Tom Vonk. May be, the guy studied physics a bit, but no more than that.

  184. Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
    August 5, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    “In this case, there is a solid argument that the removal of the one component that gives one-way addition makes a difference: there was a temperature-CO2 equilibrium, where we are now far above in CO2 level.”

    Your “solid argument” rests on the claim that there was a long term temperature-CO2 equilibrium, and that without anthorpogenic inputs, this quasi-equilibrium would still exist. But, the only evidence you have for this is the ice core data, which you must first establish as incontrovertible and globally representative, coupled with the assumption that the conditions prevalent during the ice core fixation also would still exist to the present day. That is one unestablished proposition and one unsubstantiated extrapolation.

    I say “quasi-equilibrium”, and assume you will not object, because you acknowledge it as such in this post:

    Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
    August 5, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    “Different times: different arrangement of the continents, different temperature/humidity, less calcite deposits,… “

    So, the conditions of the quasi-equilibrium can vary due to a variety of possibilities, some of which you acknowledge by your ellipses you have not considered, but presumably these can only change over geologic time, because otherwise you would have seen the variation in… the ice core data. So, basically, the foundation of your faith rests entirely on the ice core record. Do you begin to see that you may be carrying an awful lot of eggs in a single basket of dubious integrity?

    Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
    August 5, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    “There is an extreme good correlation between accumulated emissions and the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere, but that is for next part…”

    I expect it is too much to hope that there will be anything like a spectral analysis showing correlation across a substantial bandwidth – actually, I know it is, because I have done that analysis, and there is no observable overlap at all. I expect, as in past posts not necessarily from this author, we will be treated to a pair of integrated series that, mirabile dictu, will both be increasing on average and, when plotted on an appropriate scale, have a superficial resemblance in curvature.

  185. In my above post the equilibrium symbol that I tried to use ( ) didn’t print, so I’ll repeat the first equation using => :

    CO2 + CO3– + H2O => 2HCO3-

  186. It’s always Marcia, Marcia says:
    August 5, 2010 at 4:48 pm (Edit)
    As in my comment above, I think the reader is to assume that man is causing global warming.

    Well you are wrong. Ferdinand is simply trying to establish the basics. He is not trying to push some unspoken conclusion at you.

    Ferdinand, thanks for the correction on the difference between ocean reservoir and ocean flux. If the ratio between the two is ~10:1 and most of that is seasonal, what is the ratio in that seasonal flux between temperature effect and biotic effect? The NASA cartoon at the top gives 9GT to biota and 90 to ocean/air, but you said 1C temperature rise causes around 8ppm increase in the atmosphere, presumably mostly due to ocean outgassing. So what process is responsible for the rest? Or does the seasonal outgassing/reabsorption due to temperature weigh 90GT?

  187. Mindbuilder says:
    August 5, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    The logic seemed solid at first – We’ve added more CO2 to the atmosphere than is there now, so nature must have absorbed CO2 rather than added CO2. But there is a simple counter proof to demonstrate that that logic does not always hold. Water vapor. By burning fossil fuels we have released a great deal of water vapor into the atmosphere, but the concentration has risen only slightly if at all. That means nature is absorbing rather than adding to the water vapor in the atmosphere. Yet if we stopped adding water vapor, nature would just stop absorbing it and the levels would stay about the same.

    The logic is the same, but the time frames involved are quite different: water vapor from combustion (including cooling towers…) indeed adds to the total amount of water. But the residence time of water vapor is only a few days, that of CO2 several years. If we stop all burning of fossil fuels, the extra water vapor above the temperature dependent natural equilibrium will be gone in a few days, the removal of CO2 (nowadays about 30%) above the temperature dependent equilibrium will take a lot of years…

  188. Jeremy says:
    August 5, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    Good to see the criticism of this work.

    I fully agree with those that say we can’t conclude that man is the major contributor to increases in atmospheric CO2 until we know much more about other carbon sources/sinks – almost all living things, volcanoes, forest fires and oceans – just to name a few – clearly there is a lot that could be influencing atmospheric CO2 levels.

    What I have shown is that whatever the natural flows did or didn’t do, there is more natural outflow than inflow, at least over the past 50+ years of quite exact measurements. Thus nature as a whole didn’t add one gram, or tonne of CO2 to the atmosphere in the past 50 years. Any net addition by nature would have been seen as an increase larger than the emissions of 8 GtC/year.

    As long as the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere is less than the human emissions, nature doesn’t add any extra CO2 (as mass, not as individual molecules) to the atmosphere.

    It is that simple…

  189. Dave Springer says:
    August 5, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    The bottom line for me however is the indisputable record contained in the geologic column. A warmer earth with an atmosphere richer in CO2 is a greener earth. Compared to biosphere hay days like the Eocene optimum the present interglacial period looks close to death from exposure to the cold.

    I mean to say if you prefer rocks and ice to plants and animals then be all means advocate reducing atmospheric CO2 and whatever else you can to cool the surface down. However, if you prefer a great abundance of plants and animals to rocks and ice then when it comes to fossil fuels —- Burn baby, burn!
    ___________________________Reply;
    The AGW narrative is designed help facilitate a plan of world government of the elite over the working surfs, to keep the lower classes from becoming free on their own, they need to lower the CO2 content, remove the private ownership of land and keep people enslaved into the international mega corporations.

    If the world were to warm up and have higher levels of CO2 (plant food) it would be easy for people to be free range and live with out the need of government programs funded by taxes that are wasted by the elite on keeping themselves in power.

    “They” have already killed the housing market by pumping up the values then yanking the credit carpet out from under the first time buyers. Bailed out their banks, and shuffled the debt off onto taxpayers. The whole scare tactic they are still running with is just to keep the sheeple from jumping off of the grid, before they can bleed them dry, while starving the mass of the third world population to death to have better control, down the road a few more generations when the ice age comes back.

    The more time we each spend in fighting this crime against humanity the less we are able to get free ourselves, due to the additional drain on our usable time, so it is to their benefit that this senseless arguing continue as a distraction as long as possible.
    So their useless idiots consume themselves fighting reason, and there are even less of them as well in the end.

  190. It’s always Marcia, Marcia says:
    August 5, 2010 at 4:21 pm

    So humans have added carbon….and?

    Are we to assume then that warming is caused by humans? Or would that just be conflation?

    As already said in the introduction: the point of the effect of the increase of CO2 is an entirely different discussion. I don’t believe in CAGW, I think that more CO2 may have a small effect, but mostly beneficial (like the Mediterranean climate in my cold, wet country…).

    What concerns me is that the belief of many here that the increase is NOT human caused, where the “consensus” is rock solid, will harm the credibility of sceptics on other points where there is far more reason for debate…

  191. Milwaukee Bob says:
    August 5, 2010 at 7:16 pm
    Ferdinand Engelbeen said at 4:39 pm

    Milwaukee Bob ….
    All these flows are of not the slightest interest….
    I am not a physicist or a chemist and I do not play either on TV so you can probably run circles around me spouting scientific formulas, but trust when I say, after 50+ years of owning and running business of all kinds successfully, if all you are doing at the end of the day is counting your cash AND ignoring ALL (but one of) the “flows” that put it there your an – – – – well, I don’t want this to be sniped so let’s just leave it at – you’re going to fall flat on your corporate butt! Very much like what you have done – – – ah, let’s just leave it at- “flows” are obviously not your strong suit.

    I am sure that it is good bussiness to know all details of all transactions during the day, but if you are only interested in knowing if you made a profit or a loss at the end of the day, you don’t need to know all these details. Just looking into your cash register would do the job. That is the (als always bad) analogy with the CO2 levels in the atmosphere…

    Another anology with bank accounts: you bring your daily profit to a local bank every day. At the end of the year, the bank publishes their bussiness record, which shows that they have a turnover of many millions per year. But their profit is less than what you have personally saved over the year. Without any knowledge of what others have loaned or saved during that year, wouldn’t you look for another bank to save your money?

  192. Seems to be a math error somewhere. Computing the surface area of the earth into sq inches (8.07E17) and multiplying by 14.7 lbs/sq inch and converting that mass into tons gives 5.93E6gigatons as the wt of the atmosphere. Now if we divide the total mass of C contributed by man each yr (4 gigatons) by the total wt of the atmosphere we see that is only 0.7ppm increase per yer. The rate of CO2 increase as shown by the 2002 to 2004 monthly averages graph is much higher than that (5ppm in 2 yrs from the graph presented) thus natural sources are accounting for at least 3x what man is contributing. So much for man contributions explaining ALL of the increase.

  193. Whats the point of all this? Of course C02 levels are rising. The question is are they the driver for climatic change and would the climatic change occur without them. Thats the big question we need answering.

    As a follow up to that question, I watched Sky news (UK) earlier and they had a piece about the warming in greenland. They said warming was twice as fast there as anywhere else in the world.

    They then went on to explain how farmers there are expanding their pasture and sheep flocks, and how the last time this was possible was when the vikings were there.

    When they cut back to the studio, the anchor man even quipped how it really did look like a green land.

    Why can’t people join the dots? If pasture farming was done by the vikings and the land was called Greenland for obviously non-ironic reasons, then just maybe….it is not unprecendented!

  194. Ferdinand Engelbeen said, “As long as the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere is less than the human emissions, nature doesn’t add any extra CO2 (as mass, not as individual molecules) to the atmosphere.

    It is that simple…”

    Quite. It is extremely simple … .

    Just as I pointed out earlier:

    If you wish to know if there has been any NET natural contribution to the increase in atmospheric CO2 levels, all you need to do is measure

    1. the amount humans have ADDED to the atmosphere, and

    2. the increase in CO2 in the atmosphere over the same period.

    It is that simple.

    The figures for the atmosphere from 1850-2000 are as follows:

    1. Total human caused emissions of CO2: 1620 billion tons CO2

    2. Increase in atmospheric CO2: 640 billion tons

    Thus, the amount of CO2 humans have added to the atmosphere greatly exceeds the observed increase in CO2 in the atmosphere.”

    Q.E.D.

    The fact that, after all this time, this simple matter still has to be discussed on WUWT and large numbers of people manifestly still don’t get it, speaks volumes for the continuing prevalence of confusion here.

    [reply] Suggest you read Alcheson 2010/08/06 at 1:42 am on Ferdinands first thread to see why people here check the facts from several angles. RT-mod

  195. Gail Combs says:
    August 5, 2010 at 7:32 pm

    Ross Jackson says:
    August 5, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    My training, Physical Chemistry. I have also done plenty of background reading on many of the issues surrounding CO2. The more I learn, the more I realise how little we know! These comments are just to encourage you all to read more widely…..
    ____________________________________
    Oh good another Chemist!

    I have a question for you. Mauna Loa Observatory in the 50′s and 60′s took measurements with “a new infra-red (IR) absorbing instrumental method” In the seventies I tried, at two separate corporations, to use a infra-red (IR) Spectrophotometer for analytical work and gave up in frustration because I could not get reproducible results even when using an added internal calibration standard.

    I don’t know for what purpose you needed IR spectroscopy, but for CO2, it is quite ideal for continuous measurements, with a minimum of maintenance, if working with a water trap and internal calibration. Checks done with alternative methods (cryogenic, GC and mass spectrometers) show essentially the same results.

    From: http://www.co2web.info/ESEF3VO2.pdf
    ”At the Mauna Loa Observatory the measurements were taken with a new infra-red (IR) absorbing instrumental method, never validated versus the accurate wet chemical techniques.

    This is one of the objections I have against what Segalstad wrote (there are more, had some discussion with him at a conference in Brussels with MEP Helmer, that will be for one of the last parts…): Keeling made a very accurate manometric instrument (1:40,000) to measure CO2 in the atmosphere and calibrated all NDIR instruments and all calibration gases against that instrument. That instrument was still in use until recently.
    Most of the wet chemical methods of that time had an accuracy of 3% of the range or +/- 10 ppmv. Not even accurate enough to measure the seasonal variations. How can one validate an instrument with an accuracy better than 0.1 ppmv against a wet method with an accuracy of 10 ppmv?

  196. Barry Moore says:
    August 5, 2010 at 9:06 pm

    With reference to IPCC 4AR page 515 fig 7.3 this is a very similar diagram to the NASA diagram shown in the article with the exception that the IPCC diagram breaks the carbon down into natural and anthropogenic ( black and red numbers)

    The IPCC diagram contains too many errors in the distribution of “human” vs. “natural” CO2. For the mass balance, the attribution of the CO2 to its origin is of no interest and even the different flows are of no interest, as long as the emissions are larger than the increase in the atmosphere…
    For the rest, you are looking at the residence time of any CO2 molecule (whatever the origin), not the decay time of an impulse of some extra mass of CO2…

  197. EthicallyCivil

    The isotopes are chemically identical because the number and arrangement of electrons are identical. However, because of their slightly larger mass, the heavier isotopes diffuse more slowly and so the overall reaction rate of the heavier isotopes is lower than that for the lighter isotopes.

    That is why the lighter isotopes are (very slightly) preferrentially incorporated in, for example, plant tissues.

  198. Ferdinand,

    Thank you for your well thought out and very well presented essay.

    If your assumptions about the natural sink rates are sound and the Antarctic ice core data accurately represent Pleistocene and early Holocene atmospheric CO2 concentrations with sufficient resolution, your position is “bullet proof.”

    While your assumptions might be correct. There are reasons to think that they may not be.

    The fact that Knorr’s “Bombshell From Bristol” was considered to be counter-paradigm by much of the so-called consensus suggests that the natural source rates and sink capacities aren’t so well understood. The long term stability of the airborne CO2 fraction ran “contrary to a significant body of recent research which expects that the capacity of terrestrial ecosystems and the oceans to absorb CO2 should start to diminish as CO2 emissions increase.”

    On the ice cores, I suggest Van Hoof et al. 2005, Atmospheric CO2 during the 13th century AD: reconciliation of data from ice core measurements and stomatal frequency analysis.
    They fairly conclusively demonstrate that the ice core data cannot accurately resolve century scale CO2 fluctuations as recently as 800 years ago.

    It will be interesting to see the results of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet Divide Ice Core Project. The snow accumulation rates in the study area are similar to those of Greenland and they expect to obtain much higher resolution data than previous Antarctic cores.

  199. The atmospheric CO2 levels has been proxy measured to be 285ppmv until we started to drive our SUV’s. The ice core data is not as good as thought for proxy measurements of CO2 levels due to contamination but it is good for estimating the relationship between temperature and CO2 and this shows that temperature rises before parallel rises in CO2 levels between 600 and 1000 years later. If the CO2 levels were at this 285ppmv level for 1000 years or more this does not equate with the previous warm periods. The Medieval Warm Period. ignored by Mann, was much warmer than today so there would have been considerable outgassing of CO2 from the oceans up to 1000 years later, ie today. Previously the Roman Warm period, about 2000 years ago, would have produced a peak level of CO2 up to 1000 years later. So where are the peaks in the NOAA graphs which show this, dare I say it, mythical 285ppmv level of atmospheric CO2.
    Geologically speaking the atmospheric CO2 levels have never been as low as today, nor have they been at a level that could be called natural. All levels could be called ‘the natural level’. Remember when the earth was formed the atmospheric level of CO2 was at least 20% or 200,000ppmv. It was only when cyanobacteria evolved and later plants, that this CO2 was photosynthesized to oxygen.
    It is also worth remembering that plants start to die at CO2 levels of 200ppmv. CO2 is needed for plant, crops included, to flourish and feed the animal life on the planet, including us.

  200. I just wanted to say “thank you” to Ferdinand for the energy he puts into explaining this particular topic (and WUWT for hosting the article), again and again, with unfailing politeness, even to those who show him little of the respect he has earned by thorough research. That is not at all easy to do, I know I would have given up in exasperation long ago!

    For those who say we can’t know that man is responsible for the observed rise because of the uncertainties in the internal fluxes between individual environmental reservoirs, a simple analagy (only slightly adapted from one on Ferdinand’s excellent website) demonstrates why this is not the case:

    Imagine you share a bank acount with your wife and you put in $8 a year [representing anthropogenic emissions], but never make a withdrawal. If you see that your annual balance [representing atmospheric CO2] rises by only $4 a year, then you know for a fact that your wife [the natural environment] is spending more than she deposits. That means she is opposing the rise in you bank balance, not causing it. You don’t know whether this is because she is spending $4 and depositing $0 a year, or because she is spending $1,000,004 a year and depositing $1,000,000. You know she had spent more than she has put in without going over the detailed statement of all transactions, you only need the balance.

    Likewise the mass balance argument does not depend in anyway on knowledge of individual fluxes between reservoirs, it only depends on the total net flux (i.e. the difference between total “natural” emissions and total “natural” uptake) and we can infer that from knowledge of anthropogenic emissions and from the annual rise in atmpspheric CO2, both of which we can measure with sufficient accuracy for there to be no room whatsoever for any reasonable doubt that the natural environment is a net sink, and hence is opposing the rise rather than causing it.

    This is one of the few parts of AGW argument that is absolutely rock solid, and those that can’t accept it merely marginalise themselves from the debate, which does nobody any good.

    Keep up the good work Ferdinand!

  201. RT-mod said, “Suggest you read Alcheson 2010/08/06 at 1:42 am on Ferdinands first thread to see why people here check the facts from several angles.”
    in reply to Slioch says: August 6, 2010 at 1:52 am.

    On the contrary, Alcheson’s post is riddled with errors and simply adds to the confusion:
    1. Mass of atmosphere is 5.15*10^6 gigatonnes (not 5.93).
    2. “the total mass of C contributed by man each yr” is not 4 gigatons of CO2, it is about 9Gt/year of CARBON, which equates to 9*44/12 = 33Gt/year of CARBON DIOXIDE.
    3. The ‘5ppm in 2 yrs’ to which Alcheson refers is ppm by volume, not mass, for which he makes no correction.

    Using these corrected figures we get, 33/5.15*10^6 = 6.4 ppm by mass per year or 12.8 ppm by mass per two years. To (approximately) convert that to ppm by volume multiply by 28.8/44 = 8.4ppmv (taking 28.8 as the approximate average molecular weight of the atmosphere, being 80% N2 at 28 and 20% O2 at 32).

    This 8.4ppmv human contribution to the atmosphere is clearly greater than the 5ppmv recorded increase, which is precisely the point that I and Ferdinand (and others) are making. ie human contributions of CO2 to the atmosphere are greater than the recorded increases and therefore the human contribution is more than able to explain the increase.

    But, with respect, when the moderator of this thread does not pick up on the kind of errors that Alcheson demonstrates, is it any wonder that the confusion continues?

    [reply] Thank you for your exposition, which looks correct to me, although I note that your conclusion, while plausible, is not necessarily correct, and does not exclude other possibilities. RT-mod

  202. Dave F says:
    August 5, 2010 at 8:57 am
    What is known with reasonable accuracy are the emissions, which are based on inventories of fossil fuel use by the finance departments (taxes!) of different countries…

    Could you please elaborate on how this is done? Is the dollar amount of taxes received for the sales tax on fossil fuel used? Is there some other method?

    I will consider, Dave, that you miss the whole point: It is now KNOWN that mineral crude is NOT a so-called ‘fossil fuel,’ inasmuch as it is pretty much common knowledge that said mineral crude is produced by ongoing geological processes.

    So then, that being the case, the powers that be —having it in mind to milk the rest of us ad infinitum— will connive to extort as much wealth from the rest of us as they might by creating both artificial constraints and price manipulations.

    What’s needed now is a new source of energy which effectively competes with the current paradigm, such as to reduce energy costs to the point of ‘reasonable,’ and then some.

  203. Richard S Courtney says:
    August 5, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    Ferdinand:

    You and I have debated these matters for several years.

    Indeed, that is the reason that I have made my web page and this article…
    Several points of what you wrote will come at order in next parts, but here a short response:

    Firstly, as your Figure 2 shows, the system rapidly adjusts during the year in a manner that does not suggest it is near to saturation. Indeed, the graph strongly suggests that most CO2 emission (both natural and anthropogenic) is sequestered near its source. And the sequestration rate at Northern latitudes (e.g. at Barrow) is more than 100 times the rate of human emission (as your Figure 2 shows). This strongly suggests that the natural sequestration processes can easily sequester the small anthropogenic emission.

    The seasonal amplitude at Barrow only shows a variability of +/- 8 ppmv, but that is local/regional. If that was global, then the seasonal variation would be +/- 16 GtC, about four times the yearly human emissions. But the real global average seasonal variability is only +/- 2 GtC (half the emissions) for a global change of +/- 0.5 C, or (again) an influence of about 4 ppmv/C, which is the short term variability seen over the past 50+ years.

    Thirdly, your argument is circular. You assume the rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration is an accumulation of the anthropogenic emission then say, “See, the emission is sufficiently large to provide more than the observed increase”.

    No, I didn’t assume that the rise in atmospheric CO2 was anthropogenic, I only compared the emissions with the increase in the atmosphere, which shows that it is impossible for the sum of all natural flows to have a net contribution to the rise. Which makes that the increase is solely the result of the emissions…

  204. RT-mod said, “your conclusion, while plausible, is not necessarily correct, and does not exclude other possibilities.” ref. Slioch says: August 6, 2010 at 3:47 am

    I’d be interested to hear what you consider to be the “other possibilities”, perhaps couched in the terms of Dikran Marsupial’s (August 6, 2010 at 3:37 am) excellent analogy. (I assume the poor man is married!)

  205. @ BillD
    “Certain findings are widely and clearly demonstrated in science and do not need support by citation and documentation.”
    Here’s an example of something that was “widely and clearly demonstrated in science”.
    In the 1920’s a team of researchers determined that there were 24 chromosomes in the human genome. This was the consensus for some decades and appeared in all the text books. When a group of researchers measured a different value they gave up their research, because there had to be a problem with their technique.
    Just a small problem: the consensus was completely wrong. There are in fact 23 chromosomes in the human genome.
    As Matt Ridley pointed out in his book ‘Genome’, if you looked at some of the photos in the text books, you could actually see that there were 23. People were somehow blinded by a belief in the consensus.
    In Galileo’s time the “widely and clearly demonstrated” finding was that the sun went around the earth. Many other scientific consensuses turned out to be completely wrong: phlogiston, the aether, the origin of meteorites, fixed continents, the nature of lunar craters etc etc.
    Today even Relativity is still questioned and tested. Unlike AGW, it passes the tests with flying colours. But scientists should continue to question and test it. That’s how science progresses. And, by the way, one of the findings of General Relativity is that planets don’t “follow orbits” as predicted by Newton.
    I think that most likely the CO2 increase is primarily man-made, but I also think that conceivably some of the increase could have been natural. Do we really understand the carbon cycle in such minute detail that we can state its nature with absolute confidence? I doubt it.
    Human emissions are a tiny fraction of natural emissions. It does seem rather odd that such a small increase could have increased the CO2 amount by about 50%
    Maybe working scientists, particularly those in climate science, should re-acquaint themselves with the history of science. It tells us time after time that relying on the current consensus without endlessly questioning it can be a very dangerous thing.
    Chris

  206. RT-mod: out of interest, what other possibilities?

    If nature were a net source of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere then the annual increase in atmospheric CO2 would be greater than anthropogenic emissions as both the natural environment and man were contributing to the rise. However, this is observed not to be the case. The only way for the annual rise to be less than anthropogenic emissions is for the natural environment to be a net carbon sink and hence opposing the rise rather than causing it. Slioch’s conclusion is not only plausible, it is an understatement, it is not only that anthropogenic emissions are sufficient to cause the observed rise, we know that the natural environment is opposing the rise, so anthropogenic emissions is left as the only cause consistent with the observations.

    In short, any argument that suggests that the observed rise is not anthropogenic needs to be able to explain why the observed rise is unformly lower than anthropogenic emissions.

  207. kuhnkat says:
    August 5, 2010 at 9:46 pm
    So, you are saying the partial pressure of CO2 has no effect on the balance?? That is, if we put more CO2 into the atmosphere it won’t slow the release of CO2 from the oceans for a particular temperature??

    Come on guys, TRY to get the science right won’t you??

    What? And let facts get in the way of beliefs? Won’t happen.

    Say a blind man sits on the street with a tin cup. It’s empty in the morning and there’s some change in it at the end of the day. There you have it. Proof that human contribution of CO2 changes the equilibrium point at the ocean/atmosphere interface just like human contribution of loose change causes the blind man’s cup to have more coins in it. /sarc off

  208. Lee Kington says:
    August 5, 2010 at 9:18 pm

    The graph covers Mauna Loa data from 1959 thru 2008. During that time span anthropogenic CO2 emissions have increased (some reports) by six fold. In 1959 about 1 ppm CO2 was added to the atmosphere. Rather than 6 ppm being added, due to man emitting 6x the amount of CO2, in 2008 there was only about 1.5 ppm of increase in CO2.

    The uptake out of the atmosphere is a function of total CO2 in the atmosphere it is not a function of the yearly emissions. But that is for part 2.

  209. BillD says:
    August 5, 2010 at 8:44 am
    Anyone who does not understand that the burning of fossil fuels is the main cause of the regular increase in CO2 that is has been documented over the last 50+ years is clearly unable to understand basic science. It’s also true that the two views posted here are not opposites and are not mutually exclusive. Also, to the best of my understanding, the first one on the greeen house effect does not really contradict the role of GHG in climate.

    Three questions:
    .
    [1] What is a ‘greenhouse gas?’
    .
    [2] Where –on planet Earth– is there any kind of shield which creates a ‘greenhouse?’
    .
    [3] Where is your bona fide, certified, quantifiable, and undeniable proof regarding that matter of ‘Anthropogenic’ global warming?
    .
    When replying to the above questions, please DO note: Models of whatever sort are NOT considered as having any kind of valid reference, inasmuch as models are NOT real.

  210. Dikran Marsupial says:
    August 6, 2010 at 3:37 am
    This is one of the few parts of AGW argument that is absolutely rock solid, and those that can’t accept it merely marginalise themselves from the debate, which does nobody any good.

    No. This is dogma that begins the debate. Without it there is nothing to debate.

    This bit of dogma is correlation being paraded as causation. To test the causation would require that we stop producing anthropogenic CO2 and observe what happens to atmospheric CO2 as a result. That experiment isn’t going to happen.

    I don’t know what the result would be and neither does anyone else. That’s we actually perform experiments instead of just assuming the result.

    It’s a logical fallacy called “affirming the consequent”.

    Examples:

    Argument: If people run barefoot, then their feet hurt. Billy’s feet hurt. Therefore, Billy ran barefoot.

    Problem: Other things, such as tight sandals, can result in sore feet.

    Argument: If it rains, the ground gets wet. The ground is wet, therefore it rained.

    Problem: There are other ways by which the ground could get wet (e.g. dew).

  211. Dikran Marsupial says:
    August 6, 2010 at 4:32 am

    If nature were a net source of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere then the annual increase in atmospheric CO2 would be greater than anthropogenic emissions as both the natural environment and man were contributing to the rise. However, this is observed not to be the case. The only way for the annual rise to be less than anthropogenic emissions is for the natural environment to be a net carbon sink and hence opposing the rise rather than causing it. Slioch’s conclusion is not only plausible, it is an understatement, it is not only that anthropogenic emissions are sufficient to cause the observed rise, we know that the natural environment is opposing the rise, so anthropogenic emissions is left as the only cause consistent with the observations.

    There are other possibilities.

    Ocean holds a vast reserve of CO2, particularly in cold deep water at very high pressure where it has a virtually unlimited capacity for it due to pressures high enough to hold CO2 as a liquid instead of dissolved gas. This has been confirmed by the recent discovery of liquid CO2 upwelling from oceanic ridges where new crust is formed.

    At the ocean surface exists a state of near equilibrium between dissolved CO2 and atmospheric CO2. If we were to reduce the partial CO2 pressure in the atmosphere by 100ppm to pre-industrial levels it would drive the ocean/atmosphere inface farther from equlibrium. Since the ocean has vast reserves of CO2 that make 100ppm look like a peanut in a moving van we might reasonably expect that the ocean would simply release enough CO2 to restore the equilibrium point.

    There are so many unknowns about how those CO2 reserves in the deep ocean mix with the surface layer that we simply don’t know what would happen if atmospheric CO2 were reduced by 100ppm. If anyone says they know what would happen they’re wrong – they are guessing at what would happen with no practical means of confirming or falsifying their guesswork.

  212. Barry Moore says:
    August 5, 2010 at 9:20 pm

    Going back to fig 7.3 in IPCC 4AR they do state that an all time total of 244 GT of anthropogenic carbon has been released but 100 GT has been sequestered in the ocean floor as carbonates, someone mentioned chalk well here it is. That leaves 144 GT between the ocean land and air but the air has 165 GT

    I am not at all responsible for the calculation errors of the IPCC…

    The only figures of interest are the human emissions and what was measured as increase in the atmosphere. And these show that the emissions were larger than the increase. Thus the difference is somewhere absorbed by nature…

  213. The null hypothesis I offer is bascially that the tail does not wag the dog.

    The global ocean establishes the equilibrium level of atmospheric CO2. Absent anthropogenic CO2 the ocean would release a commensurate amount of CO2 to keep the equilibrium point exactly where it is today.

    Prove it wrong.

  214. Dave Springer: I’m afraid I don’t have the patience that Ferdinand apparently does, so I am not going to engage in a long debate on this issue, except to point out that:

    (i) we don’t need to conduct an experiment to test the hypothesis by reducing anthropogenic emissions to zero, there are other experiments we could perform, for instance we could increase emissions exponentially and see if the resulting rise in atmospheric CO2 were in accordance with expectations. As it happens we have already performed that experiment, it has been ongoing for quite a while.

    (ii) You say that the argument is dogma, and yet I have explained why we know that the rise is of anthropogenic origin, and yet you disagree, but have produce no counter argument, or identified any flaw in the reasoning. Are you sure you have identified where the dogma actually lies? ;o)

    (iii) I set out a challenge to anyone wanting to assert that the rise is not anthropogenic, namely present a theory where the rise is of natural origin but that is consistent with the annual rise being lower than the level of anthropogenic emissions (as the observations show). I have an open mind, I have fullfilled Poppers requirements and stated how my theory can be falsified. The ball is in your court – go for it.

  215. Dikran Marsupial says:
    August 6, 2010 at 3:37 am
    ‘Imagine you share a bank account with your wife and you put in $8 a year [representing anthropogenic emissions], but never make a withdrawal. If you see that your annual balance [representing atmospheric CO2] rises by only $4 a year, then you know for a fact that your wife [the natural environment] is spending more than she deposits. That means she is opposing the rise in you bank balance, not causing it. You don’t know whether this is because she is spending $4 and depositing $0 a year, or because she is spending $1,000,004 a year and depositing $1,000,000. You know she had spent more than she has put in without going over the detailed statement of all transactions, you only need the balance.’

    I understand what you are saying. But I also understand what the others are saying.
    You are saying “I’m mad at you. You are spending more than you are depositing”.
    While other are saying. “Before you can jump all over you wife, don’t you need to know the rest of the story? Is this a interest bearing account? If so, has the interest rates fluctuated? Have the Bank charges gone up or down? Are bank charge fluctuating a net gain or net lost? Did the bank make an error? If so, did the bank correct the error? Maybe she knows something you don’t?

  216. Dave Springer

    (i) I have already explained why the mass balance argument is not affected by uncertainties in the individual environmental fluxes between reservoirs here

    (ii) For the natural environment to be the cause of the observed rise, it would have to be a net source of CO2 into the atmosphere. We know that none of the possible sources of “natural” CO2 that you mention have strengthened sufficiently to cause the natural environment to be a net source because we observe the annual rise in CO2 to be less than anthropogenic emissions. I made that point in the text you quoted, so you must have read it.

  217. James Sexton says:
    August 5, 2010 at 11:26 pm
    James Sexton says:
    August 5, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    Humidity? Did we have more or less H2O then than we do now? Really? I’d like an answer to that.

    In what manner does the arrangement of the continents have to do with any thing relating to our discussion? Do you really think that passes as an honest answer? Personally, I can’t conceive of a better insult to a person such as myself.

    Temperature was different then? No SH?T!!!!!! Again, I can’t conceive a better insult. Aren’t temperatures the [self snip] topic of our conversation!!??!!! Instead of being dismissive, why don’t you try to explain, for all the world to see, how you believe calcite deposits are relevant.

    Sorry that I was a little short in my answer: I have underestimated the number of comments I need to respond to. And yours was rather OT for the subject.

    But in short (!):
    During e.g. the Cretaceous, ocean temperatures were (much) higher than today (more CO2 in the atmosphere), including the deep oceans, much higher ocean levels and no ice at the poles. Higher temperatures means more water vapor and more rain, causing more plant growth and decay. The continents were drifting away from each other, but still close enough to give free way to ocean flows over the large continuous ocean (which is the main cause of the warm poles…). In that period, enormous quantities of chalk were deposited by algues, like whole South England (the white cliffs of Dover). That reduced in part the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere (and oceans) in deposits which are not easely reached for release today. Still the mass balance holds: what is buried in oil, coal and chalk deposits was once a part of the oceans and atmosphere…

    In the current constellation, the North Pole is not easely reached by ocean flows and the increase of the Himalayan heights pushed the western winds more to the north, including the building of the Gulf stream, bringing warmer, wetter air more northly. The availability of a lot of land in northern latitudes is easing the buildup of ice sheets over land, if the temperature drops low enough, which causes a chain reaction with feedbacks (like higher albedo)…

    The effect of this all on CO2 levels is about 8 ppmv/C as seen in the Vostok and other ice cores. That only is true for the past probably few million years or so, not applicable for longer time spans where the geological circumstances were quite different.

  218. Bob from the UK. The reason there is a correllation in the peaks and troughs is largely due to ENSO, which affects both temperatures and CO2. IIRC, according to the IPCC, the mechansim by which it affects CO2 is via the effects of El-Nino on the productivity of the terrestrial biosphere.

  219. Old construction worker – I was tempted to add to the analagy a comment pointing out that someone was bound to over-extend the analagy and miss the point, pity I left it out.

    The man represents anthropogenic emissions, the wife represents the natural environment (i.e. everything else). As I said, if someone can come up with an explanation why anthropogenic emissions are not the cause of the observed rise that doesn’t imply that the observed rise in atmopsheric CO2 will be larger than anthropogenic emissions, THEN they will have a plausible alternative. However all of the alternative explanations given in the thread thus far, fall at that first hurdle.

  220. Dikran Marsupial says:
    August 6, 2010 at 4:32 am

    said, “Slioch’s conclusion is not only plausible, it is an understatement”.

    Indeed.

    There is, of course, another source of “new” CO2 emitted to the atmosphere, in addition to that produced by humans by burning fossil fuels or land-use changes, namely that produced by volcanoes. However, the amount of volcanic CO2, both terrestrial and sub-sea sources together, amount to only about one per cent of human emissions.

    I phrase the situation as “the human contribution is more than able to explain the increase” (which is true) rather than “the increase is totally caused by human emissions” with this small caveat concerning volcanoes in mind. If we were living in a time of sudden increase in volcanic CO2 emissions (which we are NOT!!) such that say 10% or 50% of new CO2 came from volcanoes then this phraseology would, I think, be more necessary.

  221. John Egan says:
    August 5, 2010 at 8:10 am
    As a left critic of AGW, [--snip rest for brevity--]

    Prove undeniably, certifiably, and without ANY degree of doubt, that humans are –in any way– responsible for so-called ‘global warming.’

    Prove it.

    If you cannot, then all your words/pixels are worthless.

    PROVE IT.

    Further, PROVE –undeniably, certifiably, and without ANY degree of doubt– that there is NO OTHER AGENCY involved.

    Prove it.

    Can you?

    Will you?

  222. Dikran Marsupial says:
    August 6, 2010 at 5:34 am

    “I’m afraid I don’t have the patience that Ferdinand apparently does”

    Nor do I.

    “I am not going to engage in a long debate on this issue”

    Smart move.

    “except to point out that”

    “(i) we don’t need to conduct an experiment to test the hypothesis by reducing anthropogenic emissions to zero, there are other experiments we could perform, for instance we could increase emissions exponentially and see if the resulting rise in atmospheric CO2 were in accordance with expectations. As it happens we have already performed that experiment, it has been ongoing for quite a while.”

    CO2 emissions have not increased exponentially but I take your point. They have increased. But the temperature of the global ocean has also increased. We know this from precision sea level measurements. Sea level rise is dominated by thermal expansion. Warmer water changes the surface CO2 equilibrium pressure causing either a slowing of CO2 absorption or rise in emission.

    How do you propose to separate the effect of rising oceanic temperature and accelerated emission of anthropogenic CO2? This is called isolation of variables and is very important in all manner of investigation.

    “(ii) You say that the argument is dogma, and yet I have explained why we know that the rise is of anthropogenic origin, and yet you disagree, but have produce no counter argument, or identified any flaw in the reasoning. Are you sure you have identified where the dogma actually lies? ;o)”

    Cute. I’m certainly not holding the dogma. I offered a null hypothesis and asked how it could be disproven. That’s how science works. My null hypothesis could very well be wrong. You however are insisting the science is settled. Proven. Proofs are for math my friend. Science is about best explanations where every explanation is tentative and subject to possible falsification.

    “(iii) I set out a challenge to anyone wanting to assert that the rise is not anthropogenic, namely present a theory where the rise is of natural origin but that is consistent with the annual rise being lower than the level of anthropogenic emissions (as the observations show). I have an open mind, I have fullfilled Poppers requirements and stated how my theory can be falsified. The ball is in your court – go for it.”

    I have fulfilled your request. You simply dismissed it out of hand which is exactly what dogmatists do.

  223. Ferdinand:

    Thankyou for your post at August 6, 2010 at 4:26 am which addresses some of the points I posted at August 5, 2010 at 5:20 pm.

    However, you ignore one of my points and selectively quote another (so misrepresenting it).

    I can live with your not addressing one of my points because it could be said that you have addressed the issue in responses to others (although, as others have pointed out, your responses are pure ‘arm-waving’).

    But in response to my writing:
    “Thirdly, your argument is circular. You assume the rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration is an accumulation of the anthropogenic emission then say, “See, the emission is sufficiently large to provide more than the observed increase”. But a change to any other emission (or sequestration) that is larger than the rise could also be said to be sufficiently large to provide more than the observed increase.
    And your only justification for choosing the anthropogenic emission as the cause is that we know its magnitude but we do not know the magnitudes of the variations to the (much larger) natural emissions and sequestrations!”

    You have replied with the following selective quotation and response:

    Your entire quotation of what I said is;
    “Thirdly, your argument is circular. You assume the rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration is an accumulation of the anthropogenic emission then say, “See, the emission is sufficiently large to provide more than the observed increase”.

    And your answer to that is:
    “No, I didn’t assume that the rise in atmospheric CO2 was anthropogenic, I only compared the emissions with the increase in the atmosphere, which shows that it is impossible for the sum of all natural flows to have a net contribution to the rise. Which makes that the increase is solely the result of the emissions…”

    But that completely ignores my point that;
    “a change to any other emission (or sequestration) that is larger than the rise could also be said to be sufficiently large to provide more than the observed increase.”

    Indeed, your ignoring this point proves that you DID (and do) “assume that the rise in atmospheric CO2 was anthropogenic”.

    I point out that I said in my post at August 5, 2010 at 5:20 pm which you answered:

    “There are several inputs and outputs to the atmosphere that are much larger than the anthropogenic emission. Indeed, as your first (not numbered) figure and your Figure 2 both show, during each year the CO2 in the atmosphere increases then decreases by an order magnitude more than the anthropogenic emission of a year. This increase and decrease within each year is known as the seasonal variation.
    So, the annual increase to the CO2 in the air for a year is the residual of the seasonal variation of the year. And the residual is about an order of magnitude less than the seasonal variation which is induced by variations in the natural emissions and sequestrations.”

    So, for example, a small reduction to the sequestration by the oceans of the seasonal natural emission could easilly account for the observed rise. And this is NOT “impossible” as you assert.

    A change to average ocean surface layer pH of only 0.1 would reduce the ocean sequestration rate by more than is required to achieve the observed rise to atmospheric CO2 concentration.

    Is such a change sufficiently large to be measurable? No.
    Could such a change have occurred naturally? Yes.
    How could such a natural change have been induced? The following is one possibility.

    Sulphur ions are released by sub-sea volcanism and are dissolved in the water. The provision of such dissolved sulphur ions will vary with the variation in the volcanism. Centuries after the ions have dissolved they will be transported to the ocean surface layer by the thermohaline circulation and then will provide the change to surface layer pH.

    Has this happened or not? Nobody knows and nobody can know.
    Is the time-delayed effect on the pH of the ocean surface layer likely to occur? Yes.

    So, this possibility of a time-delayed effect on the pH of the ocean surface layer alone could be the entire reason for the observed rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration. Furthermore, it is a more plausible explanation for the observed rise than the anthropogenic emissions because in some years almost the entire anthropogenic emission seems to be sequestered and in other years almost none of it. Hence, the possibility of a time-delayed effect on the pH of the ocean surface layer alone defeats your entire argument.

    And there are several other possible explanations for variations in the natural emissions and sequestrations that could be the cause of the observed rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration, too.

    Richard

  224. Alex says:
    August 5, 2010 at 11:52 pm

    Your putting of brackets in the mass balance Eq. is purely political. Mathematics tells us, addition is commutative and it is associative. Thus, your Eq. does not prove anything. Yet, it tells us that the “mankind CO2-emissions” is smaller than the uncertainties in the “natural” sources and sinks of CO2. Thus, the direct mankind CO2-emissions cannot be blamed for CO2 increase. This political preconceived satement diverts us from the search for the real cause of the observed CO2 rise.

    OK, my math is a quite rusty, but as far as I remember, putting brackets around a sum of components doesn’t change the sum itself… And I have never heard of “political” brackets… But if you prefer, here without brackets:

    dCO2 = in1 + in2 + in3 +… + emissions – out1 – out2 – out3 -…
    with the knowns:
    4 GtC = in1 + in2 + in3 +… + 8 GtC – out1 – out2 – out3 -…
    or rearranged:
    in1 + in2 + in3 +… – out1 – out2 – out3 -… = – 4 GtC

    Still the natural flows are a net sink for CO2, no addition at all, whatever the variability of the individual flows. The year-by-year variability in total sink capacity is +/- 2 GtC over the past 50+ years, that is all.

  225. Dave Springer says:

    “The global ocean establishes the equilibrium level of atmospheric CO2. Absent anthropogenic CO2 the ocean would release a commensurate amount of CO2 to keep the equilibrium point exactly where it is today.

    Prove it wrong.”

    O.K. If the ocean establishes an equilibrium level for atmospheric CO2 (actually it is not only the oceans; the other elements of the natural carbon cycle also dictate the equilibrium), then the fact that the mass balance argument shows that the natural environment is a net sink means that the equilibrium level is below current levels. Q.E.D.

    If we were already at the equilibrium point, then by definition natural emissions would be in balance with environmental uptake – but we know that is not the case.

  226. Dikran Marsupial says:
    August 6, 2010 at 3:37 am “Imagine you share a bank acount with your wife and you put in $8 a year [representing anthropogenic emissions], but never make a withdrawal. If you see that your annual balance [representing atmospheric CO2] rises by only $4 a year, then you know for a fact that your wife [the natural environment] is spending more than she deposits. That means she is opposing the rise in you bank balance, not causing it. You don’t know whether this is because she is spending $4 and depositing $0 a year, or because she is spending $1,000,004 a year and depositing $1,000,000. You know she had spent more than she has put in without going over the detailed statement of all transactions, you only need the balance.”

    But you don’t know what she would have done if you hadn’t deposited any money in the bank at all! She might have reduced her withdrawals or increased her deposits (or some combination of the two) by $4, so that the balance would have risen by the same $4 a year, or by some greater or lesser amount, so that the balance might have risen faster or slower, or fallen. What wives do depends strongly – but unpredictably – on what their husbands do. What nature does depends on what man does. The sum does not and cannot answer the counterfactual.

  227. Dikran Marsupial says:
    August 6, 2010 at 5:34 am
    “(iii) I set out a challenge to anyone wanting to assert that the rise is not anthropogenic, namely present a theory where the rise is of natural origin but that is consistent with the annual rise being lower than the level of anthropogenic emissions (as the observations show). ”

    First, we are not asserting that the rise is definitely not anthropogenic. We are asserting that we do not actually know; that the evidence does not prove that it is. A contrary hypothesis would be the very simple one that CO2 is in approximate equilibrium between atmosphere and oceans, so the CO2 level has risen principally due to the rise in ocean temperatures since the Little Ice Age. Under this hypothesis it would have risen at almost exactly the same rate irrespective of anthropogenic emissions. More sophisticated variants of the theory would include absorption and circulation lags for both CO2 and heat, and in those the rise would typically happen a bit quicker with anthrop. emissions than without (and falls a bit later).

  228. Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
    August 5, 2010 at 10:09 am
    Bill Yarber says:
    August 5, 2010 at 8:19 am

    I think you have seriously underestimated the impact on the oceans outguessing CO2 as they warm! Look at the ice core data

    No I haven’t underestimated the impact of the oceans: over very long term (Vostok ice core) that is about 8 ppmv/C, the same for the MWP-LIA cooling (only visible in the high resolution Law Dome ice core). Currently the short term influence of temperature is about 4 ppmv/C around the trend, but the trend itself is largely from the emissions…

    ————————————————————————————–
    Ferdinand,

    Theres no doubt that humans have contributed towards the increase in atmospheric CO2 emissons and thankyou for your explanation, but the question is how much? The key debate in how much this relies on is the assumption that CO2 ice core data is good compared with realty. (instrumental data over the past 1oo or so years)

    I had made a post yesterday at 3.40pm that shows scientific evidence that you have seriously underestimated the impact on the oceans outgassing CO2 as they warm. (unless see below at bottem)
    The globe and regions of it have shown much lower increases in temperatures with much higher levels of CO2. There are concerns about the loss of atmospheric CO2 when the ice core samples are taken. How accurate would a snow/ice core sample taken from the surface now(or near), show CO2 to be compared with recent instrumental levels?

    So why is the ice core data valid and why have you not taken into account the instrumental values of CO2 that don’t show this 1c/8 ppmv rise? With these major differences both can’t be right so which one is wrong and demonstrates different orders of CO2 outgassing from the oceans?

    CO2 outgasses from the oceans the same amount via the the same rise in ocean temperature as it does now as then. You must see the very big problem here and can you explain this? Alternately are you suggesting the ice core data is right and the amounts were released from warming oceans from a 1c rise and that means extra CO2 shown from instrumental data is irrelevent and shows no/trace warming effect on the globe over the past 100 years.

  229. Paul Birch

    It is perfectly true that we don’t know what the wife would have done had the husband not deposited any money. However, that is irrelevant as we know what she actually did do, and it is what she did do that affected the balance of their bank account, rather than what she might hypothetically have done.

    Likewise it is true that if we hadn’t produce anthropogenic emissions, we can’t know for certain what the environment would have done (although the null hypothesis would be that it would continue to follow its behaviour since the start of the current integlacial). HOWEVER, we know that the environment has not been a net source of CO2 as we can infer the net flux via the mass balance argument. So while (through some unspecified mechanism) the environment might have caused a rise in CO2, the obsevations show that it HASN’T.

    A scientist doesn’t ignore the data, and the data show unambiguously (via the mass balance argument) that the natural environment has been a net sink throughout the industrial era. Note this is exactly what you would expect from a system in approximate equilibrium; if you disturb the equilibrium (e.g. by putting fossil carbon into the atmoshere) then the system will react to oppose the disturbance.

  230. Julian Flood says:
    August 5, 2010 at 11:40 pm
    Ferdinand,

    Do you have a copy of NASA’a Fig 1 above with error bounds? I’m particularly interested in the plus/minus figures for the carbon export into the deep ocean from the surface ocean. I think I’ve got them on my old computer but it’s a bit flakey, not least because I keep it in the shed.

    I have no direct figures, but the error estimates for the ultimate sequestering of CO2 in the oceans and vegetation (based on d13C and O2 balances) are +/- 30% for oceans and +/- 60% for vegetation. As the estimates for the fluxes are based on the same indicators, the error margins may be similar… See:

    http://www.bowdoin.edu/~mbattle/papers_posters_and_talks/BenderGBC2005.pdf

    For the deep oceans, I have my own estimate, based on the fact that the deep oceans still don’t show contamination by low 13C human carbon: with a refresh rate of about 40 GtC directly (or indirectly via the ocean surface layer) between the deep oceans and the atmosphere, the 13C response is a near fit to the emissions of fossil fuels:

    But that too is an estimate…

  231. Paul Birch:

    Thank you for your fine post at August 6, 2010 at 7:15 am.

    Your post says all that really needs to be said: everything else is detail.

    Richard

  232. Paul Birch wrote:

    “A contrary hypothesis would be the very simple one that CO2 is in approximate equilibrium between atmosphere and oceans, so the CO2 level has risen principally due to the rise in ocean temperatures since the Little Ice Age. Under this hypothesis it would have risen at almost exactly the same rate irrespective of anthropogenic emissions. More sophisticated variants of the theory would include absorption and circulation lags for both CO2 and heat, and in those the rise would typically happen a bit quicker with anthrop. emissions than without (and falls a bit later).”

    However, if that were the case, then the annual rise in atmospheric CO2 would be greater than anthropogenic emissions (as both anthropogenic emissions AND the response to increasing ocean temperatures were adding to atmospheric CO2), and as I said, we know from observational data that this is not the case.

    There is also as Ferdinand explainer earlier in the thread, the sensitivity of atmospheric CO2 to changes in temperature is far too low to explain the observed rise. Looking back in the paleoclimate data, you only get a change of 100 ppmv at glacial-to-integlacial transitions, when the change in temperature is much higher than the change in temperature between the LIA and now, so that explanation is inconsistent with what we know about past climate anyway.

  233. Slioch Re: volcanos

    Very true, however if volcanos started producing 20-50% of emitted CO2 then it would be producing enough for the natural environment to flip from a net sink to a net source, so at that point the mass balance argument would show that the natural environment were a cause of the rise, becuase the annual rise would then be greater than anthropogenic emissions.

    Having said which, in science, understatement is generally preferable to overstatement.

  234. Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
    August 5, 2010 at 3:37 pm
    Paul Birch says: We do not know! The natural cycle is so variable and uncertain, our understanding of all the relevant mechanisms so lacking, and our inability to carry out controlled experiments so limiting, that the realistic error range of any supposedly comprehensive “prediction” would far exceed the magnitude of the observed increase.

    “Neither in the (smoothed) ice cores, nor today with very accurate measurements, there is any large variability visible: both the temperature swing over the seasons as the year-by-year variability show some 4 ppmv/C change, nothing more, over the past 50+ years. Thus the possibility of large swings is rather questionable.”

    Even in your own graphs the year to year fluctuations exceed the trend increase many times over. The large swings are plain to see. The ice core proxies are not relevant because at best diffusion smears the data over centuries, and CO2 may also have been either lost or added systematically since the inclusions were formed. We know from other sources that extremely large departures from balance have occurred in prehistoric times (eg, supervolcanos have dumped extra CO2 into the air at rates exceeding ten thousand times the current rate of anthropogenic emissions; even ordinary volcanos can make quite a difference; while more speculative possibilities include the catastrophic overturn of CO2-filled ocean trenches, which could temporarily push the global CO2 level up to ~100,000ppm (~10%)!).

    “Further, if we stop all emissions today, and the levels wouldn’t drop, then the IPCC is right to claim that (part of) the emissions would stay in the atmosphere forever?”

    This seems gibberish to me. If we stopped emitting, CO2 levels would continue to rise and fall over time, as they have always done. The fraction of the atmospheric CO2 that mankind had at some time emitted would gradually fall, due to interchange with the other reservoirs; but it would never fall to zero because atmospheric CO2 makes up a finite fraction of the total.

  235. Dirkian Marsupial:

    Thanks for your reply.

    I can imagine that the productivity of the biosphere maybe sufficiently affected by the ENSO. However I also see that the CO2 increase dropped siginficantly in response to Mt Pinatubo cooling, which is due to sulphates in the upper atmosphere, I would have expected that to have a negative affect on photosynthesis.

    I also have strong doubts that you can prove one way or another whether the CO2 is being absorbed by plants or the oceans. I would expect that to be an open question.

  236. Dave Springer says:
    August 6, 2010 at 5:32 am

    The null hypothesis I offer is bascially that the tail does not wag the dog.

    The global ocean establishes the equilibrium level of atmospheric CO2. Absent anthropogenic CO2 the ocean would release a commensurate amount of CO2 to keep the equilibrium point exactly where it is today.

    Prove it wrong.

    First, the fact that there is a 4 GtC sink rate, with over half going into the oceans, disproves that the oceans are in equilibrium with the current level of CO2 in the atmosphere.

    Second, nature has proven that it is wrong. A lot of Antarctic ice cores, measured by different organisations with overlapping periods (including 20 years with South Pole atmospheric data), and better resolution in more recent times, show a direct correlation between CO2 levels and temperature of 8 ppmv/C. The pre-industrial level was 280-300 ppmv, including a small dip of about 6 ppmv for a dip of 0.8 C over the MWP-LIA transition (ice core resolution 21 years). The current temperature is about as warm (or less warm) as during the MWP period, thus the temperature may have increased the CO2 level with some 6 ppmv (which is the basic equilibrium level for the current temperature) in the past 150 years, at around 290 ppmv, not 390 ppmv…

  237. Richard S Courtney said:

    “a change to any other emission (or sequestration) that is larger than the rise could also be said to be sufficiently large to provide more than the observed increase.”

    Yes, I completely agree (and I suspect Ferdinand would also) that other changes in natural emissions or uptake COULD be large enough to explain the observed increase. The key point is that the observations show that they DON’T explain the observed increase, because the observations (via the mass balance argument) show unequivocally that the natural environment has been a net sink since at least 1960. Whatever changes to individual environmental fluxes that may be taking place, it is environmental uptake that is winning.

    Of course some sources of environmental emissions may be strengthening, but if that is the case, we know that the environmental uptake must be strengthening even faster, because not only is the natural environment still a net sink, the difference between environmental emissions and uptake is WIDENING, not narrowing, as shown in Fig. 3.

  238. Dikran Marsupial says:
    August 6, 2010 at 6:50 am
    “If we were already at the equilibrium point, then by definition natural emissions would be in balance with environmental uptake – but we know that is not the case.”

    No! If the equilibrium point were not changing, total emissions (natural plus man made) would be in balance with uptake. Increase the man made component and the natural component (of emissions minus uptake) would decrease by the same amount. The assumption of equilibrium requires that the equilibriating mechanisms be fast compared to the fluxes; lags would allow changes in the sources to temporarily shift the atmospheric concentration slightly (though in a geographically nonuniform system this is not necessarily the case).

  239. Bob from the UK. IIRC the section in the IPCC report that discusses this mentions that there have been a couple of changes not explained by ENSO, and Pinatubo was suggested as the explanation for one of them. The reason why it is not thought to be the ocean that is directly responsible is because the thermal inertia is too high to produce rapid changes, so it pretty much must be the terresrial sources/sinks.

    The wording in the IPCC report does not suggests any of that is proven, just the explanation considered most plausible. Absolute proof is impossible in observational science, and there is plenty of uncertainty in AGW (as detailed in the IPCC reports); the mass balance argument is one of the rare examples of something where the data actually are pretty much unequivocal.

  240. Dikran Marsupial says:
    August 6, 2010 at 7:36 am
    “It is perfectly true that we don’t know what the wife would have done had the husband not deposited any money. However, that is irrelevant as we know what she actually did do, and it is what she did do that affected the balance of their bank account, rather than what she might hypothetically have done.”

    It’s not irrelevant, because the hypothesis under test is that the husband’s depositing money has caused the bank balance to rise more than it would otherwise have done. This is the counterfactual you cannot answer.

    “A scientist doesn’t ignore the data, and the data show unambiguously (via the mass balance argument) that the natural environment has been a net sink throughout the industrial era. Note this is exactly what you would expect from a system in approximate equilibrium; if you disturb the equilibrium (e.g. by putting fossil carbon into the atmoshere) then the system will react to oppose the disturbance.”

    Yes. The wife has probably done something different because of what the husband did. So there is no justification for assuming that the rise (or some fraction or multiple of it) would not have happened anyway.

  241. Matt G says:
    August 6, 2010 at 7:24 am

    I had made a post yesterday at 3.40pm that shows scientific evidence that you have seriously underestimated the impact on the oceans outgassing CO2 as they warm. (unless see below at bottem)
    The globe and regions of it have shown much lower increases in temperatures with much higher levels of CO2. There are concerns about the loss of atmospheric CO2 when the ice core samples are taken. How accurate would a snow/ice core sample taken from the surface now(or near), show CO2 to be compared with recent instrumental levels?

    So why is the ice core data valid and why have you not taken into account the instrumental values of CO2 that don’t show this 1c/8 ppmv rise? With these major differences both can’t be right so which one is wrong and demonstrates different orders of CO2 outgassing from the oceans?

    CO2 outgasses from the oceans the same amount via the the same rise in ocean temperature as it does now as then. You must see the very big problem here and can you explain this? Alternately are you suggesting the ice core data is right and the amounts were released from warming oceans from a 1c rise and that means extra CO2 shown from instrumental data is irrelevent and shows no/trace warming effect on the globe over the past 100 years.

    My impression of your previous message was that you are mixing the effect of CO2 on temperature and the reverse. The ice cores are quite reliable (but I have the impression that we need to handle that first, before further discussion about the process characteristics).

    If the ice cores are reliable indicators of the past CO2 levels (even of smoothed), then there is only 8 ppmv/C increase or decrease. That was true in the past and true today (there is no reason that ocean/vegetation temperature changes should show a different behaviour on CO2 levels today). That means that the rest of the current measured increase in CO2 is from human emissions… The effect of the increase on temperature changes is not at order now, that is a complete different discussion…

  242. Ferdinand; The terms residence time and decay rate are constantly being confused, residence time of a single molecule can vary from 1 sec to 10 000 years+ so it really is a meaningless term, whereas decay rate is a term which can be used to accurately determin how much CO2 from a given emission remains in the atmosphere after x period of time. If we are to calculate the amount of anthropogenic CO2 remaining in the atmosphere today the decay calculation is the most accurate because it incorporates the sequestration of the carbon.

    I did prepare a mass balance calculation which exchanged natural and anthropogenic carbon in the ratio that they exist in the 3 sinks so this does account for the reemission of anthropogenic carbon from the ocean and land back into the atmosphere, but since there is a much lower ratio in the land and water than the air there is a net flux out of the atmosphere, therefore the net impact of human emissions is much lower than simplistic logic implies.

    It must also be realized that the fluxes are impacted by the partial pressure of CO2. Henrys Law has already been quoted; this puts more CO2 in solution which accelerates the formation of carbonates, on the other hand warmer water outgasses CO2 which slows down the formation of carbonates.

    It has been proven in thousands of experiments that an increase of 300 ppm in atmospheric CO2 increases the growth rate of plants by 40% on average. Thus, changes in CO2 concentration bring about many complex interactions which can not be evaluated by simplistic logic. The important factor is how much anthropogenic CO2 is resident in the atmosphere today, which by a real mass balance calculation is between 10 and 18 ppm depending upon what decay rate you select.

  243. Dikran Marsupial says:
    August 6, 2010 at 7:43 am
    Paul Birch wrote: “A contrary hypothesis would be the very simple one that CO2 is in approximate equilibrium between atmosphere and oceans, so the CO2 level has risen principally due to the rise in ocean temperatures since the Little Ice Age. Under this hypothesis it would have risen at almost exactly the same rate irrespective of anthropogenic emissions. More sophisticated variants of the theory would include absorption and circulation lags for both CO2 and heat, and in those the rise would typically happen a bit quicker with anthrop. emissions than without (and falls a bit later).”

    Dikran: “However, if that were the case, then the annual rise in atmospheric CO2 would be greater than anthropogenic emissions (as both anthropogenic emissions AND the response to increasing ocean temperatures were adding to atmospheric CO2), and as I said, we know from observational data that this is not the case.”

    No! This simply does not follow. The annual rise in CO2 would be essentially independent of the anthropogenic emissions; it could be greater, or less, or equal. It would be determined by changes in the equilibrium positions, from causes having nothing to do with the rates. Sure, there might be some rate limitations on the equilibriating uptake step, so the atmospheric concentrations would show some dependence on the input rates, but this could be arbitrarily small. This seems so blindingly obvious I can’t understand why you apparently can’t grasp it.

  244. A quick one on the ice cores J.J.Drake wrote a very good paper explainig why the ice core data is low, basically it is because of the formation of Calthrates which are not released when the core is processed. The leaf stomata proxy is far more robust and comparisons between leaf stomata and ice core data shows that the ice core data is seriously flawed.

  245. Paul Birch: Re. equilibria.

    Sorry Paul, the environment is a net sink, which means its equilibrum state is below the current level. The usual example used in undergraduate classes is a cars suspension system, you have a spring, a damper and the weight of the car. Take the car off the jacks and it settles until the weight of the car is balanced by the force exerted by the springs. If you push down on the fender, the car will sink a bit lower, but the force exerted by the springs increase to oppose the disturbance from the equilibrium point. You stop pushing on the fender, the body of the car rises again until it reaches its ride height. The damper controls the rate at which the adjustment ocurrs, but is otherwise irrelevant; the important thing is that if the force exerted by the spring is higher than normal, we know the body is below its design ride height, if it is less than normal, we know it is above the design ride height.

    I hope the analagy is obvious, but the basic point is that the fact the environment is a net sink (and is opposing the rise) shows that the atmosphere is above the natural equilibrium point.

    Being pedantic it is seems likely that we will not get back to the pre-industrial 285ppmv (except in geological time) as there is now more carbon moving through the carbonc cycle, and all things being otherwise equal, the atmospheric reservoir will have a share of the excess. However, we know that the equilibrium level is below current levels.

  246. Paul Birch said:

    “It’s not irrelevant, because the hypothesis under test is that the husband’s depositing money has caused the bank balance to rise more than it would otherwise have done.
    This is the counterfactual you cannot answer. ”

    You could apply the same logic to any scientific theory that you did not want to accept. How do you know that the sun makes the earth warmer than it would otherwise have been? That is an argument of exactly the same form, and likewise the answer is you don’t, however you have no reason to expect the Earth to be warmer without the sun. There could be some mechanism that explains how the earth might be warm without the sun, but it is not mentioned in the counterfactual, just as the mechanism in your counterfactual is absent. Likewise there is no reason to expect CO2 levels to be 100ppmv higher than pre-industrial levels (the temperature change from the LIA for a start is far too small to explain it).

    As it happens, while it can’t be prove that the CO2 levels wouldn’t have been higher if there had been no anthropogenic emmisions, we can show that the observed rise in CO2 is due to anthropogenic emissions as the mass balance argument shows that the natural environment has consistently opposed the rise.

    Your argument is non-scientific as (at least according to Popper) for a theory (including a counterfactual) to be considered scientific there must be the possibility of its falsification. Your couterfactual is not falsified because it is not falsifiable. That is not to your advantage. Now if you gave a specific mechanism in your counterfactual, it would become falsifiable, and hence scientific, but would almost certainly be falsified by the mass balance argument.

  247. Hi Ferdinand!

    As a Biochemistry engineer I should probably be a rather embarrassed that I have a hard time to understand your chemical points concerning pCO2! Perhaps my learning’s from the first years at university is a little rusty, please forgive I just want to understand 100% what you are saying.

    I said basically: Temperatures and pH has been roughly constant for a decade now and so has pCO2 in upper layers of Oceans. I do not see increasing human emissions reflected here, so this could be a sign that the oceanic biosphere is growing and assimilating CO2 still faster – and thus omitting the human dominance of CO2 control.

    To this you answer first:
    1) Ferdinand: “You are looking at pCO2, but that is only about 1% of total carbon (CO2 + bicarbonate + carbonate) in the (upper) oceans and heavily influenced by temperature and alkalinity.”

    Frank: pCO2 is in equivalence with bicarbonate as well as carbonates like Calcium- and Magnesium carbonate. So its not really a problem if pCO2 is just a smaller fraction, we can still use it to track changes in CO2 content none the less. Well, that is unless you actually count in the solid carbonates that has sedimented out, but im sure you don’t go that far. Anyway, IPCC used pCO2 as the indicator for CO2 content as I showed you, and I think they did so for a good reason.

    2) Ferdinand: “the total amount of CO2 in the upper ocean part increased, despite a decline in pCO2.

    Frank: Is this documented in your links you gave, earlier in the comments here or in your article? I would like to see the basis for this statement.

    3) Ferdinand: “pCO2 is directly related to pure dissolved [CO2*] where CO2* is the sum of CO2 and H2CO3 (together around 1% of total dissolved inorganic carbon ). Bicarbonate (around 83%) and carbonate (around 16%) ions don’t play any role in pCO2. “
    Frank: Again, its as if you don’t think CO2 in oceans are in equilibrium with Calcium/Magnesium carbonates etc?

    4) Ferdinand: “So a change in pCO2, due to changes in pH, biolife, temperature or whatever, doesn’t say anything about the total amount of carbon (as CO2 + HCO3- + CO3– ) in the upper oceans…”
    Frank: As I said, we have a decade with quite constant pH, and temperatures also rather constant, so its hard to be so very sure as you seem, that pH and temperature can explain the missing pCO2 increase.

    K.R Frank Lansner

  248. Sorry, maths mangled in previous post, mods please feel free to delete the first version, many thanks in advance.

    Paul Birch: One last try. Do you agree that:

    dC = E_a + E_e – U_e

    where dC is the annual change in atmospheric CO2, E_a is total anthropogenic emissions (fossil fuel and land use changes), E_e is total environmental emissions (from all sources) and U_e is environmental uptak (all sinks)? N.B. These are all positive quantities – you can’t have a negative source – that would be a sink.

    If you do, then a rearrangement gives

    dC – Ea = E_e – U_e

    O.K. so far?

    If the annual rise in atmospheric CO2 is less than anthropogenic emssions then the left hand side is negative, and hence so is the right hand side

    dC – E_a = E_e – U_e LESSTHAN 0

    which implies that U_E GREATERTHAN E_e, in otherwords, if the annual rise is less than anthropogenic emissions, then we know that environmental emissions must be less than environmental uptake and so we would know that the natural environment is a net sink and hence cannot explain the observed rise.

    There you are, I have spelled it out. It is such a straightforward bit of algebra I don’t really see how it is so difficult to grasp. I you have a problem, point out the line containing the flaw.

  249. Dikran Marsupial says:
    August 6, 2010 at 8:54 am
    “I hope the analagy is obvious, but the basic point is that the fact the environment is a net sink (and is opposing the rise) shows that the atmosphere is above the natural equilibrium point.”

    Sorry, but you’re wrong. In a simple system, what you say would be true; however, even then the amount by which the atmospheric concentration exceeded the equilibrium concentration could be arbitrarily small (small enough that for practical purposes we could ignore it). For a complex system, in which there are oscillations, lags, non-linear feedbacks, geographical non-uniformities, underdamping, etc., the conclusion is not valid; it is possible for the instantaneous concentration to be above or below the instantaneous equilibrium value (which is itself varying over time with changes in temperature, compositions of the seas, etc.).

  250. Dikran Marsupial says:
    August 6, 2010 at 9:13 am
    “Your couterfactual is not falsified because it is not falsifiable.”

    It is not “my” counterfactual. It is the claim made in the OP – that CO2 levels are higher than they would have been in the absence of anthropogenic emissions. That’s what “the CO2 increase is man made” has to mean.

  251. Dikran Marsupial says:
    August 6, 2010 at 9:29 am
    “Paul Birch: One last try. Do you agree that:
    dC = E_a + E_e – U_e
    where dC is the annual change in atmospheric CO2, E_a is total anthropogenic emissions (fossil fuel and land use changes), E_e is total environmental emissions (from all sources) and U_e is environmental uptak (all sinks)? ”

    Yes, if you let E_a be net anthrop. emissions (or include -U_a).

    “… so we would know that the natural environment is a net sink”

    OK so far (if by this you mean, the natural environment is a net sink under current conditions – it might or might not have been a net sink in the past or under other conditions).

    “and hence cannot explain the observed rise.”

    Complete non sequitur.

  252. Fred H. Haynie:

    (i) suggesting I should read your document with an open mind implies that I might read it in some other way (i.e. with a closed mind). That is not a good way to encourage people to take up your ideas. If I didn’t have an open mind I wouldn’t be discussing this as WUWT would I? ;o)

    (ii) I have only had time to have a quick look at the file (too much there to do anything else in a reasonable time frame). Am I right in thinking that the point of the analysis relating to atmospheric CO2 is pointing out that only a small fraction of atmospheric CO2 is of direct anthropogenic origin? If so, that is well known. It is caused by the fact that the seasonal exchange fluxes exchange 20% of atmospheric CO2 with CO2 from the environmental reservoirs, which means that only IIRC only about 4% is directly emitted from fossil fuel use (I have done the simulations to verify that is the case). This is perfectly consistent with the anthropogenic origin of the observed rise as the large exchange fluxes only swap CO2 between reservoirs without actually changing atmospheric concentrations. As usual, this is explained with great clarity on Ferdinand Engelbeens excellent webpage.

    If I have missed the point, it would be better if you gave a specific topic to discuss and I can use the relevant section of your document for reference.

  253. Paul Birch wrote:

    “It is not “my” counterfactual. It is the claim made in the OP – that CO2 levels are higher than they would have been in the absence of anthropogenic emissions. That’s what “the CO2 increase is man made” has to mean”

    (i) whether it is your counterfactual or not, it is still not falsifiable, and still non-scientific.

    (ii) “the CO2 increase is man made” does not have to mean that the rise would not have ocurred if not for anthropogenic emissions, it only means that the particular rise that we have actually observed is man made. That is not the same thing at all.

  254. Frank Lansner says:
    August 6, 2010 at 9:27 am

    2) Ferdinand: “the total amount of CO2 in the upper ocean part increased, despite a decline in pCO2.

    Frank: Is this documented in your links you gave, earlier in the comments here or in your article? I would like to see the basis for this statement.

    This was in one of the first links I did give:

    http://www.bios.edu/Labs/co2lab/research/IntDecVar_OCC.html

    Look in the graph for nDIC and compare that to the pH and pCO2 changes. nDIC still goes up, while pCO2 and pH stagnate.

    3) Ferdinand: “pCO2 is directly related to pure dissolved [CO2*] where CO2* is the sum of CO2 and H2CO3 (together around 1% of total dissolved inorganic carbon ). Bicarbonate (around 83%) and carbonate (around 16%) ions don’t play any role in pCO2. “
    Frank: Again, its as if you don’t think CO2 in oceans are in equilibrium with Calcium/Magnesium carbonates etc?

    A small change in pH has little effect on carbonate and bicarbonate levels, but a tremendous effect on free CO2 levels, by pushing the equilibrium to one or the other side… lower pH means much higher pCO2 levels… In this case, the pH doesn’t change while the total amount of carbon still increases, which means that the pH effect of more CO2 is compensated by something else.

  255. One observation:

    Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
    August 5, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    You don’t need to know all detailed transactions of your bussiness during the day to know what your loss or profit was at the end of the day: just count what is in your cash register…

    Unintentionally, perhaps, you have pretty much destroyed your entire thesis with this statement.

    You have no idea what your sales were with this method. You have no idea if your net gain or loss is due to staff giving too much or too little change. Your cash drawer does not account for staff salaries or advertising or rent. Without examining the records to determine whether your sales are due to loss leaders or high margin product you have no idea whether you have a gain or loss. I have personally witnessed retail business failure because the management only concerned themselves with this cash-drawer fallacy.

    In short, simply looking at the end numbers gives you NO information about what the numbers mean.

    The steady, straight line rise of CO2 that is being documented at Mauna Loa has not faltered, in spite of very clearly identified changes in our overall CO2 emissions, and that is the undoing of all of it. Until and unless you account for that there is no Science involved, only a belief.

    As has already been pointed out: this entire post devolves to one claim: CO2 increase is manmade because there is a CO2 increase. Circular reasoning at its most futile. Good luck with that… but I assume there’s a reason that science publishers are not lining up at your door to have you write science books.

  256. Paul Birch said:

    “Yes, if you let E_a be net anthrop. emissions (or include -U_a).”

    Well as anthropogenic uptake is as close to nothing as to make no difference to the argument, we are in agreement then.

    ““… so we would know that the natural environment is a net sink”

    OK so far (if by this you mean, the natural environment is a net sink under current conditions – it might or might not have been a net sink in the past or under other conditions).”

    The data shown in figure 3 of the OP shows that the environment has been a net sink for at least the last fifty years. The emissions data go back pretty much to the start of the industrial revolution and if you use the Law dome data to compute the annual change in atmospheric CO2 prior to the Mauna Loa dataset, you get the same result. If you don’t take my word for it, download the data from CDIAC and plot it for yourself.

    ““and hence cannot explain the observed rise.”

    Complete non sequitur.”

    I don’t see how it can be a non-sequitur. How can the natural environment be responsible for the observed rise if the observations show it has been a net sink and hence taking up more carbon from the atmosphere each year than it emits? Seems a pretty reasonable step to me.

  257. Ferdinand, my recollection of the export to deep ocean bounds is plus or minus 40 GtC per annum. Perhaps that is why my acceptance of your ‘we know the flows, therefore the bit left over must be anthropogenic’ argument is less than 100%. We do not know the flows.

    Here’s a rough approximation of what is going on as I see it, which may, of course, be very wrong:

    First, production is: methane — permafrost thaw, ocean outgassing, bio land, bio ocean, acid rain rebound and CO2 — bio land, bio ocean, ocean outgassing, methane breakdown. And add anthropogenic, A.

    Pulldowns are: gas dissolved into upper ocean, export of dissolved gas to deep ocean, mineralisation, biological mineralisation, bio sludge to methane clathrates/permafrost/ CO2 pools/ deep ocean, soil incorporation, vegetation.

    That’s 18 processes which may be — almost certainly are — changing all the time.

    Pulldown = production in the balanced state. Since 1850/1910 pulldown + .5A = production

    Changes made in the last 150 years by anthropogenic disturbance in production are A, ocean outgassing, bio land, bio ocean, acid rain rebound, while anthropogenic pulldown changes are rate of ocean ingassing, soil incorporation, vegetation, bio sludge to deep ocean etc, biological mineralisation.

    That’s ten anthropogenic changes.

    Let us suppose that the pulldown mechanisms are flexible to a very large extent and if production were to change by 100 GtC per year then they could cope, but beyond this they become progressively overwhelmed. Let us suppose that the production mechanisms are likewise variable.

    How does one know, with all the unknowns, that the anthropogenic C component is a large proportion of the total change of atmospheric C? My personal take on the CO2 increase is that we have changed the pulldown mechanisms and the amount of carbon left in the atmosphere is a function of this. How much have we changed pulldown? Well, if plankton really has decreased by 40%, and land use change, destruction of peat, suppression and then release of methane by acid rain are a reality then we are talking of amounts which dwarf anthropogenic production. If the Kriegesmarine Hypothesis is true then the pulldown _and_ production changes are huge. Huge, but not necessarily equal. The imbalance is what the pulldown mechanisms must adapt to. If the production – pulldown changes are too great then the flexible pulldown can’t cope and the excess is dumped to the atmosphere. Note that the imbalance comprises all the changes to all those production and pulldown mechanisms, all of them, not just A. The pulldown will be made up of parts from all the changes and the excess dumped to the atmosphere, likewise, will consist of bits of all the changes: if you cut out A entirely then only a small proportion of the excess would vanish.

    So, what proportion of the change in atmospheric CO2 is anthropogenic in the 100 GtC flexibility assumption? 4%? 8%?

    Unless we tackle all the problems, vegetation destruction, silicate and fertiliser run-off, oil pollution of the ocean surface, aerosol changes, etc then we could cut out every bit of human C production and the CO2 levels in the atmosphere would still rise.

    JF

  258. Barry Moore says:
    August 6, 2010 at 8:52 am

    A quick one on the ice cores J.J.Drake wrote a very good paper explainig why the ice core data is low, basically it is because of the formation of Calthrates which are not released when the core is processed. The leaf stomata proxy is far more robust and comparisons between leaf stomata and ice core data shows that the ice core data is seriously flawed.

    J.J. Drake made the classic error of:
    A causes B with a good correlation and
    A causes C with a good correlation
    thus B causes C, because there is a good correlation between the two (which is entirely spurious in this case)…
    The “correction” he applied for ice-gas lag has no physical meaning at all, leading to theoretical CO2 levels which never occured in reality.

    Further CO2 clathrates are avoided by up to a year relaxation of the cores at low temperature and measuring under vacuum, effectively removing any clathrates left.

    Stomata data have far more problems than ice cores, the most important one is that they reflect local/regional CO2 levels which are far more variable and by definition show a positive bias, which is not even constant over time…

    But we are again already discussing ice cores and alternative proxies, which is not the topic yet…

  259. CodeTech says:
    August 6, 2010 at 10:18 am
    One observation:

    Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
    August 5, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    You don’t need to know all detailed transactions of your bussiness during the day to know what your loss or profit was at the end of the day: just count what is in your cash register…

    Unintentionally, perhaps, you have pretty much destroyed your entire thesis with this statement.

    As all comparisons, also this one is bad enough. But it simply says that you don’t need to count all transactions (but you better do!) to know the endresult.

    I should have expanded it as follows:
    Every morning you add some 100 dollar (euro or whatever) of your own money to your cash register. Every evening you count what is in the cash register. Every day you see that you have a “gain” of 50 dollar in cash. Even without knowing anything in detail of what happened during the day, you know that your bussiness has more losses than profit…

    As has already been pointed out: this entire post devolves to one claim: CO2 increase is manmade because there is a CO2 increase.

    As already said several times by me and Dikran and Slioch (thanks for the help, at first I had the impression to be alone with the sharks…) what we say is:
    The CO2 increase is man-made because the increase is less than the man-made CO2 emissions
    Quite a difference with what several expect…

  260. I’m amazed at the continuing discussion around the anthropogenic origin of the modern rise in atmospheric CO2 levels. As has been pointed out by Ferdinand Engelbeen, Willis Eschenbach and others there is little room for doubt about the cause of the increased atmospheric CO2 levels. Input of anthropogenic CO2 as a result of fossil fuel burning, cement manufacture etc. is the only plausible hypothesis that readily accounts for the empirical evidence of the mass balance, the changing 13C/12C carbon isotopic composition of atmospheric CO2, and the changing oxygen level of the atmosphere.

  261. Dikran Marsupial:

    Thankyou for your answer to one of my points that you provide at August 6, 2010 at 8:19 am.

    Paul Birch provided an excellent – and complete – rebuttal of your answer at August 6, 2010 at 8:47 am. Since I cannot improve on it I merely quote it here to save you needing to find it. He wrote:

    “No! This simply does not follow. The annual rise in CO2 would be essentially independent of the anthropogenic emissions; it could be greater, or less, or equal. It would be determined by changes in the equilibrium positions, from causes having nothing to do with the rates. Sure, there might be some rate limitations on the equilibriating uptake step, so the atmospheric concentrations would show some dependence on the input rates, but this could be arbitrarily small. This seems so blindingly obvious I can’t understand why you apparently can’t grasp it.”

    Richard

  262. Barry Moore says:
    August 6, 2010 at 8:45 am

    Ferdinand; The terms residence time and decay rate are constantly being confused, residence time of a single molecule can vary from 1 sec to 10 000 years+ so it really is a meaningless term, whereas decay rate is a term which can be used to accurately determin how much CO2 from a given emission remains in the atmosphere after x period of time. If we are to calculate the amount of anthropogenic CO2 remaining in the atmosphere today the decay calculation is the most accurate because it incorporates the sequestration of the carbon.

    I have the impression, but could be wrong, that you are confusing the decay rate of “anthro” CO2 in the atmosphere with the decay rate of an excess of CO2 in total mass back to equilibrium…

    Indeed what rests of the CO2 from anthropogenic origin since the start of the emissions is around 10%, but that doesn’t change the fact that the 30% increase since the start of the industrial revolution is mostly all caused by the emissions. The decay rate of aCO2 in total CO2 (tCO2) is about 5 years half life time, as that is governed by the exchange rates of about 20% per year between the different compartiments. The decay rate of an excess (pulse or continuous) addition into the atmosphere above equilibrium, as is the case here, depends of the sink rate, which is currently 4 GtC/year, while the excess is about 200 GtC/year. That needs far more time to go back to equilibrium (some 40 years half life time).

    Thus we have two different decay rates, where aCO2 is rapidely reduced, but still responsible for near all of the 100 ppmv increase over the past 150 years…

  263. Ferdinand Engelbeen:

    At August 6, 2010 at 10:55 am you assert:

    “The CO2 increase is man-made because the increase is less than the man-made CO2 emissions”

    Say what!? How can you assert “because”?

    Your statement is a complete non sequitur.

    If the co2 increase were more than the the man-made CO2 emissions then that would not prove the increase was not partly caused by the man-made emissions.

    And, FOR THE SAME REASON, the fact that the the co2 increase is less than the the man-made CO2 emissions does not prove the increase is partly or entirely caused by the man-made emissions.

    Richard

  264. Ferdinand says:

    “Stomata data have far more problems than ice cores, the most important one is that they reflect local/regional CO2 levels which are far more variable and by definition show a positive bias, which is not even constant over time.”

    I recall your many strong arguments made here previously, categorically stating that CO2 is very well mixed in the atmosphere. Further, stomata samples are not taken in cities, and they are not taken at the same time. If you’re now going to resort to pointing out local and regional variations in CO2 in order to make your current argument, then your argument is no different than Ernst-Georg Beck’s, which you have also strongly disputed.

    I think a significant part of the CO2 increase is due to human emissions, but the cause is not nearly as precise as you portray it. If it were, your comment quoted above would be much more precise and testable.

    Finally, referring to differences of opinion by others does not make those others “sharks,” as you call them. This is real climate peer review, unlike the clique-controlled climate journals, and if an assertion cannot withstand scrutiny it must be discarded. No one is 100% right about everything, and unlike climate journal assertions, wrong assumptions are winnowed out in these discussions.

  265. Richard S. Courtney

    In response to Paul Birch’s comment, I have spelled out the argument at the level of basic arithmetic here. I invite you to identify which particular step gives rise to the flaw in the mass balance argument.

    The only line where Paul and I diverge so far appears, as far as I can see, to be that Paul does not accept that the natural environment being a net sink means that it cannot be the cause of the observed rise. Paul said that was a “complete non-sequitur”. Personally it seems to me a curious argument so suggest that the natural environment can still be the cause of the observed rise, even though the observations show it takes in more CO2 than it emits and has done for at least the last fifty years. If you can explain that one, go ahead.

  266. Friends:

    It is time to refute the simplistic idea that a mass balance indicates anything concerning flows in and out of the atmosphere. It does not because the magnitudes of the flows and their variations are not known. And the system is complicated with many of the flows varying and interacting.

    In one of our 2005 papers
    (ref. Rorsch A, Courtney RS & Thoenes D, ‘The Interaction of Climate Change and the Carbon Dioxide Cycle’ E&E v16no2 (2005))
    we considered the most important processes in the carbon cycle to be as follows.

    SHORT TERM PROCESSES

    1. Consumption of CO2 by photosynthesis that takes place in green plants on land. CO2 from the air and water from the soil are coupled to form carbohydrates. Oxygen is liberated. This process takes place mostly in spring and summer. A rough distinction can be made:
    1a. The formation of leaves that are short lived (less than a year).
    1b. The formation of tree branches and trunks, that are long lived (decades).

    2. Production of CO2 by the metabolism of animals, and by the decomposition of vegetable matter by micro-organisms including those in the intestines of animals, whereby oxygen is consumed and water and CO2 (and some carbon monoxide and methane that will eventually be oxidised to CO2) are liberated. Again distinctions can be made:
    2a. The decomposition of leaves, that takes place in autumn and continues well into the next winter, spring and summer.
    2b. The decomposition of branches, trunks, etc. that typically has a delay of some decades after their formation.
    2c. The metabolism of animals that goes on throughout the year.

    3. Consumption of CO2 by absorption in cold ocean waters. Part of this is consumed by marine vegetation through photosynthesis.

    4. Production of CO2 by desorption from warm ocean waters. Part of this may be the result of decomposition of organic debris.

    5. Circulation of ocean waters from warm to cold zones, and vice versa, thus promoting processes 3 and 4.

    LONGER TERM PROCESSES

    6. Formation of peat from dead leaves and branches (eventually leading to lignite and coal).

    7. Erosion of silicate rocks, whereby carbonates are formed and silica is liberated.

    8. Precipitation of calcium carbonate in the ocean, that sinks to the bottom, together with formation of corals and shells.

    NATURAL PROCESSES THAT ADD CO2 TO THE SYSTEM

    9. Production of CO2 from volcanoes (by eruption and gas leakage).

    10. Natural forest fires, coal seam fires and peat fires.

    ANTHROPOGENIC PROCESSES THAT ADD CO2 TO THE SYSTEM

    11. Production of CO2 by burning of vegetation (“biomass”).

    12. Production of CO2 by burning of fossil fuels (and by lime kilns).

    Several of these processes are rate dependant and several of them interact.

    At higher air temperatures, the rates of processes 1, 2, 4 and 5 will increase and the rate of process 3 will decrease. Process 1 is strongly dependent on temperature, so its rate will vary strongly (maybe by a factor of 10) throughout the changing seasons.

    The rates of processes 1, 3 and 4 are dependent on the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. The rates of processes 1 and 3 will increase with higher CO2 concentration, but the rate of process 4 will decrease.

    The rate of process 1 has a complicated dependence on the atmospheric CO2 concentration. At higher concentrations at first there will be an increase that will probably be less than linear (with an “order” <1). But after some time, when more vegetation (more biomass) has been formed, the capacity for photosynthesis will have increased, resulting in a progressive increase of the consumption rate.

    Processes 1 to 5 are obviously coupled by mass balances. Our paper assessed the steady-state situation to be an oversimplification because there are two factors that will never be “steady”:
    I. The removal of CO2 from the system, or its addition to the system.
    II. External factors that are not constant and may influence the process rates, such as varying solar activity.

    Modelling this system is a difficult because so little is known concerning the rate equations. However, some things can be stated from the empirical data, and the following assessment uses conservative estimates of values that exaggerate any possible anthropogenic effect.

    At present the yearly increase of the anthropogenic emissions is approximately 0.1 GtC/year. At Northern latitudes where most anthropogenic emission occurs, the natural fluctuation of the excess consumption (i.e. consumption processes 1 and 3 minus production processes 2 and 4) is at least 6 ppmv (which corresponds to 12 GtC) in 4 months (see Ferdinand’s Figure 3). This is more than 100 times the yearly increase of human production, which strongly suggests that the dynamics of the natural processes here listed 1-5 can cope easily with the human production of CO2. A serious disruption of the system may be expected when the rate of increase of the anthropogenic emissions becomes larger than the natural variations of CO2. But the above data indicates this is not possible.

    The accumulation rate of CO2 in the atmosphere (1.5 ppmv/year which corresponds to 3 GtC/year) is equal to almost half the human emission (6.5 GtC/year). However, this does not mean that half the human emission accumulates in the atmosphere, as is often stated (1,2,3). There are several other and much larger CO2 flows in and out of the atmosphere. The total CO2 flow into the atmosphere is at least 156.5 GtC/year with 150 GtC/year of this being from natural origin and 6.5 GtC/year from human origin. So, on the average, 3/156.5 = 2% of all emissions accumulate.

    The above qualitative considerations suggest the carbon cycle cannot be very sensitive to relatively small disturbances such as the present anthropogenic emissions of CO2. However, the system could be quite sensitive to temperature. So, our paper considered how the carbon cycle would be disturbed if – for some reason – the temperature of the atmosphere were to rise, as it almost certainly did between 1880 and 1940 (there was an estimated average rise of 0.5 °C in average surface temperature).

    And our paper showed that three different natural variations could each be used to model the observed rise in anthropogenic CO2 with a very precise match that required no ‘fiddle factor’ such as the 5-year smoothing of the data that is needed to get mass balance models to match the data.

    Richard

  267. Richard S Courtney says:
    August 6, 2010 at 11:26 am

    At August 6, 2010 at 10:55 am you assert:

    “The CO2 increase is man-made because the increase is less than the man-made CO2 emissions”

    Say what!? How can you assert “because”?

    Your statement is a complete non sequitur.

    If the co2 increase were more than the the man-made CO2 emissions then that would not prove the increase was not partly caused by the man-made emissions.

    And, FOR THE SAME REASON, the fact that the the co2 increase is less than the the man-made CO2 emissions does not prove the increase is partly or entirely caused by the man-made emissions.

    If the increase was more than the man-made emissions, then the increase is the sum of the man-made emissions and the net difference between natural releases and natural sinks (positive in this case).
    If the increase is less than the man-made emissions, then the increase is the sum of the man-made emissions and the net difference between natural releases and natural sinks (negative in this case).

    In the latter case there are no net contributions from the natural flows, as these act as a net sink and the entire increase is caused by the man-made emissions.

  268. Dikran Marsupial:

    At August 6, 2010 at 11:40 am you say to me:

    “Personally it seems to me a curious argument so suggest that the natural environment can still be the cause of the observed rise, even though the observations show it takes in more CO2 than it emits and has done for at least the last fifty years. If you can explain that one, go ahead.”

    For a full explanation then read our paper
    Rorsch A, Courtney RS & Thoenes D, ‘The Interaction of Climate Change and the Carbon Dioxide Cycle’ E&E v16no2 (2005).

    Alternatively, read my several posts above. One clear example of me demonstrating that I “can explain that one” is provided in my post at August 6, 2010 at 6:38 am and, as I say there,
    “And there are several other possible explanations for variations in the natural emissions and sequestrations that could be the cause of the observed rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration, too.”

    Richard

  269. Richard S. Courtney wrote:

    “It is time to refute the simplistic idea that a mass balance indicates anything concerning flows in and out of the atmosphere. It does not because the magnitudes of the flows and their variations are not known.”

    If you had followed the discussion of the mass balance argument in the OP, you would know that it is possible to determine the net environmental flux without needing to know the details of the flows between particular reservoirs. This is possible because conservation of mass means that the net environmental flux is equal to the difference between the annual increase and anthropogenic emissions, both of which are known with good certainty.

    I set out the argument step by step here. If you want to refute the argument, I have made it as easy for you as I can, just identify the step in which you think the error lies and we can discuss it.

  270. It’s kind of lame that people still feel the need to defend something most people already acknowledged, i.e. that us puny humans stood for a part of the increase. It’s equally lame to bicker about if it’s 5% or 35%, since it’s, after all, already understood that us puny humans are part of the great and somewhat, it seems to seem to some, automagical circulatory system. It’s very interesting though that there’s still people going half mental about our, puny human, doings, as being a b normal something.

    Another thing that’s rather interesting is the fact that people say we puny humans do a lot of stuff that adds stuff to the greater composition of climate, yet seem to have a very difficult time proving how much, and exactly what effect in the greater scheme of things it has.

    It is, after all, very normal for a human to consume stuff by burning it. ;-)

  271. Smokey says:
    August 6, 2010 at 11:26 am

    “Stomata data have far more problems than ice cores, the most important one is that they reflect local/regional CO2 levels which are far more variable and by definition show a positive bias, which is not even constant over time.”

    I recall your many strong arguments made here previously, categorically stating that CO2 is very well mixed in the atmosphere. Further, stomata samples are not taken in cities, and they are not taken at the same time. If you’re now going to resort to pointing out local and regional variations in CO2 in order to make your current argument, then your argument is no different than Ernst-Georg Beck’s, which you have also strongly disputed.

    CO2 levels are well mixed, within 2% of the range for 95% of the atmosphere, where the largest swings are from the seasonal variations and the NH-SH lag. In 5% of the atmosphere, that is in the first 500-1000 m over land, near huge sources and sinks, the atmosphere is not well mixed. That is a big problem for many historical measurements and for stomata data. One can find diurnal variations of several hundreds of ppmv over grassland or within forests, while the difference between the South Pole and Barrow measurements is less than 5 ppmv averaged over a year, with only very small changes over a day.

    But that is for discussion on another part…

    BTW the “sharks” was a inside joke, as that was said by a “peer reviewer” of this first part… But no problem, I have been hardened by discussions on other lists which were quite different than this very civil blog…

  272. Ferdinand:

    Oh dear! At August 6, 2010 at 11:48 am you assert:

    “If the increase was more than the man-made emissions, then the increase is the sum of the man-made emissions and the net difference between natural releases and natural sinks (positive in this case).
    If the increase is less than the man-made emissions, then the increase is the sum of the man-made emissions and the net difference between natural releases and natural sinks (negative in this case).
    In the latter case there are no net contributions from the natural flows, as these act as a net sink and the entire increase is caused by the man-made emissions.”

    No! That does not follow. It is a circular argument. You cannot possibly know that “there are no net contributions from the natural flows”. You assume there is not because you assume the only increase to the CO2 in the air is from the anthropogenic emission. So, you use your assumption to prove your assumption!

    Variations to the natural flows in or out of the atmosphere may dominate the system and, therefore, the anthropogenic emission may be completely irrelevant. The data is not sufficient to indicate whether the natural variations or the anthropogenic emissions dominate.

    You assume the natural system is invariate and is being disturbed by the anthropogenic emission. But the natural system is NOT invariate at any time scale (it even varies with the seasons). It consists of many interacting sub-systems that are each seeking to achieve equilibrium that none of them ever attains. The observed rise in atmospheric CO2 may be completely a result of the natural variations that may – or may not – be being significantly affected by the anthropogenic emission.

    Richard

  273. Richard S. Courtney: Sorry, life is just too short for this. I have spelled out the algorithm in incremental steps here, and you have not taken up the invitation to identify the specific step where the error is introduced. If you did, we might make some progress, but if you are just going to repeat assertions that I have already dealt with here, then we are just going round in circles (and not by my fault).

    I have made it as easy as I can for you to falsify the argument, explicilty identify the faulty step (it must be one actually stated in the post in question) if you can. If you can’t then the mass argument still stands.

  274. Dikran Marsupial:

    At August 6, 2010 at 12:04 pm you assertto me:

    “If you had followed the discussion of the mass balance argument in the OP, you would know that it is possible to determine the net environmental flux without needing to know the details of the flows between particular reservoirs.”

    I have followed it, and if you had read my posts above then you would know why it is completely irrelevant to assert that “it is possible to determine the net environmental flux without needing to know the details of the flows between particular reservoirs”.

    At issue is WHY the “net environmental flux” is what it is. And I do not need to address your model because it is based on flawed assumptions (as you would know if you had read my posts above).

    Richard

  275. Paul Birch says:
    August 6, 2010 at 9:35 am

    …it is possible for the instantaneous concentration to be above or below the instantaneous equilibrium value (which is itself varying over time with changes in temperature, compositions of the seas, etc.).

    Sorry, but that is impossible: the moment that the instantaneous equilibrium is above the instantaneous concentration, the current sink would change in an instantaneous source… Thus the fact that there is a near permanent (be it variable) sink in the past 50+ years shows that the equilibrium is below the current concentration.

  276. Julian Flood says:
    August 6, 2010 at 10:29 am

    Ferdinand, my recollection of the export to deep ocean bounds is plus or minus 40 GtC per annum. Perhaps that is why my acceptance of your ‘we know the flows, therefore the bit left over must be anthropogenic’ argument is less than 100%. We do not know the flows.

    Julian, we don’t need to know the flows: as long as the increase in the atmosphere is less than the emissions, the emissions are fully responsible for the increase… No need to tackle other parts of the carbon cycle, except for better understanding of what happens in nature.

    The 40 GtC/year exchange between atmosphere and deep oceans is quite right and explains the d13C drop as observed and calculated from the emissions.

  277. Richard S. Courtney:
    Thank you so very much for taking the time to bring up the natural contribution in the “Carbon Cycle”. I do not understand why people can not see the logic in what you say. Math is not necessary to understand the natural “Carbon Cycle”. One just needs to have an understanding of nature and how insignificant humans really are.

  278. Richard S. Courtney: If the argument were flawed, you would be able to quote the specific line in the post I made setting out the argument step by step (that is why I wrote it out step by step). The fact that you haven’t done so suggests that you can’t. If you could, you would have done so, and I would have conceded the argument (assuming the flaw actually was a flaw).

    I have been reading blogs for long enough to know that if a cycle develops in a discussion no further progress is likely. If you want to break the cycle go ahead, quote the line of the post in question containing the flaw. If you don’t fine, but it will be a tacit admission that you can’t.

    Sorry Ferdinand, I’ll have to leave you with the sharks ;(

  279. Richard S Courtney says:
    August 6, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    No! That does not follow. It is a circular argument. You cannot possibly know that “there are no net contributions from the natural flows”. You assume there is not because you assume the only increase to the CO2 in the air is from the anthropogenic emission. So, you use your assumption to prove your assumption!

    As said already, I didn’t assume that the only increase to the CO2 in the atmosphere is anthropogenic. That follows from the mass balance: If the net effect of all natural flows is a sink of 4 GtC per year, then it is impossible that the sum of all natural flows has contributed anything to the total mass of the atmosphere. A net sink removes CO2 from the atmosphere, doesn’t add anything…

    Maybe you confuse the increase in mass with the origin of the molecules left in the atmosphere. Indeed the natural flows are much larger and much of the man-emitted CO2 is captured in the nearby tree or ocean in short time. But that has nothing to do with the origin of the increase in total mass, which still is entirely from the addition of man-made CO2, as long as the increase is less than the emissions.

    Variations to the natural flows in or out of the atmosphere may dominate the system and, therefore, the anthropogenic emission may be completely irrelevant. The data is not sufficient to indicate whether the natural variations or the anthropogenic emissions dominate.

    The data are very clear: the net effect of all variations in natural flows over the past 50 years were +/- 2 ppmv (4 GtC) year-by-year variation, less than half the current emissions and always negative. Thus the emissions dominate the natural variations.

  280. Dikran Marsupial:

    At August 6, 2010 at 12:40 pm you assert to me:

    “quote the line of the post in question containing the flaw. If you don’t fine, but it will be a tacit admission that you can’t.”

    No! My refusal to discuss the details of your erroneous model is not a “tacit admission” of anything.

    I have repeatedly explained that your model is based on the flawed assumption that the natural carbon cycle is invariate, and I have demonstratwed that the natural carbon cycle varies at all time scales.

    I refuse to waste time examining your model to find flaws in it when the model is clearly wrong because it models an assumption that is demonstrably not true.

    Simply, a wrong model is wrong so why discuss the details of it?
    (That would be like discussing the details of the dorsal fin on a model of a boat when the model resembles a fish.)

    Richard

  281. Ferdinand,

    My apologies for misunderstanding the “sharks” comment.

    However, your CO2 mixing comment can’t end the argument with your line: “But that is for discussion on another part…”

    Actually, I can not see any substantive difference between your location explanation and Beck’s compilation of over 90,000 CO2 measurements — the large majority of which were taken not in industrial cities, but during ocean voyages on the windward side of ships sailing across the South Pacific, the Antarctic, the Atlantic, the Arctic, the Beaufort sea, and similar unpopulated locations, and along very sparsely populated, isolated coastlines like the Ayershire, and atop mountains.

    The best argument against Beck’s compilation was in the method, not in the locations. But you only make the location argument. Thus, you and Dr Beck are making the same kind of argument.

  282. Dikran Marsupial says:
    August 6, 2010 at 9:56 am
    Paul Birch wrote: “It is not “my” counterfactual. It is the claim made in the OP – that CO2 levels are higher than they would have been in the absence of anthropogenic emissions. That’s what “the CO2 increase is man made” has to mean”

    “(i) whether it is your counterfactual or not, it is still not falsifiable, and still non-scientific.”

    Then address your complaint to the OP. In any case, you are mistaken in asserting that counterfactuals are unscientific. If you understand all the relevant physics, and know all the relevant parameters to sufficient accuracy, then you can make valid counterfactual statements. A counterfactual is a statement of causation; when one says A causes B, that means that not-A implies not-B. However, in this case, we do not understand all the relevant physics and we do not know all the relevant parameters to any accuracy at all. We cannot make a statement of causation because there are too many unknowns; the mass-balance equation is underspecified.

    “(ii) “the CO2 increase is man made” does not have to mean that the rise would not have ocurred if not for anthropogenic emissions, it only means that the particular rise that we have actually observed is man made. That is not the same thing at all.”

    This is weaseling of high order. The clear implication of any such statement is that if its weren’t for man it wouldn’t have happened. This is the only interpretation that has any significance for climatology in general or the AGW issue in particular.

    If you really mean to say only that much of the actual CO2 currently in the atmosphere was put there by human activities then you may be right (though the mass-balance equation still doesn’t prove it, since it would be possible for all of the human-added molecules to have been removed by plants or solution into the sea and replaced by other molecules from those reservoirs). Even then, there is evidence that most CO2 is actually taken out of the atmosphere locally (by plants, rain, etc,), so only quite a small fraction may actually have been put there directly by man.

  283. Ferdinand Engelbeen says:

    …we don’t need to know the flows: as long as the increase in the atmosphere is less than the emissions, the emissions are fully responsible for the increase… No need to tackle other parts of the carbon cycle, except for better understanding of what happens in nature.

    No. Just… no. This reminds me of the comic with the scientist in front of a giant blackboard filled with equations. He points to one part and says “At this point, magic happens”.

    Magic is not happening. Understanding the background cycle is absolutely essential, it is not unimportant. The system is not anything even remotely resembling static, it is in constant flux and oscillates around various values, NONE of which we know for certain or have much control over.

    I’m sorry, but one of the problems here is that YOU are not paying attention, even though I am aware that this is a “guest post”.

    Richard S Courtney has explained what is wrong with the logic you are using, I fervently hope you will take this opportunity to learn.

  284. Smokey says:
    August 6, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    My apologies for misunderstanding the “sharks” comment.

    However, your CO2 mixing comment can’t end your argument with the line: “But that is for discussion on another part…”

    No apologies needed!

    I was trying to discuss Beck’s data, ice cores and stomata data as the last parts, therefore I wanted to stop that here as OT. But as that seems to pop up again and again, I need to comment that in next part, before other discussions, so that we may (dis)agree on what the data of ice cores, stomata and direct historical measurements are presenting. Thus no further comment now on Beck’s historical or stomata data…

  285. Ferdinand,

    Thank you for your reply and I do know these can be claimed as cause and effect.

    There is still a problem that needs explaining with it because the ocean heat content at a set surface temperature maintains a balance between the atmospheric CO2 and the CO2 stored in ocean. This doesn’t matter if the CO2 is cause or effect of temperature. If CO2 levels increased as low as you mentioned with 8 ppmv with a 1c rise in ocean temperatures. (ice cores) Then readings from instrumental records should show a much lower increase in CO2 levels with the same energy heat content to remain in equilbrium, because the ocean is far from saturated. The extra CO2 added from humans would have a much larger sink into the oceans then shown with the same comparable 1c temperature increase. This is where the disagreement is between 1c/8ppmv and 1c/278ppmv.

  286. “Simply, a wrong model is wrong so why discuss the details of it?”

    Because that is the way science operates. If you want to show a model is flawed, you need to be able to explicitly identify the step in the derivation where the flaw is introduced (and I made every effort to make that as easy as possible for anyone who wanted to try – which is also an element of good scientific practice). If you recieved a review of a paper that said “a wrong model is wrong, so why discuss the details of it”, I’m sure you would be rather less than satisfied with it, and quite rightly so.

    I almost laughed when I saw the above quote, however I then remembered there is nothing funny about skeptics marginalising themselves from an important debate by being unable to accept one of the few parts of AGW theory that is actually unequivocally supported by the observations.

    Keep going Ferdinand, you are doing both sides of the debate a big favour; I only wish I had your patience to deal with the lack of acceptance of an idea that anyone capable of managing their own finances ought to be able to grasp, with such good grace. I salute you! ;o)

  287. Ferdinand:

    I have tried to explain your error to you in several ways, but you merely keep repeating it, most recently when at August 6, 2010 at 12:17 pm you write to me saying:

    “Maybe you confuse the increase in mass with the origin of the molecules left in the atmosphere. Indeed the natural flows are much larger and much of the man-emitted CO2 is captured in the nearby tree or ocean in short time. But that has nothing to do with the origin of the increase in total mass, which still is entirely from the addition of man-made CO2, as long as the increase is less than the emissions.”

    No. I do not “confuse” anything.

    It does not follow that “the increase in total mass” is “entirely from the addition of man-made CO2, as long as the increase is less than the emissions”.

    That only indicates that “the increase in total mass” is less than “the addition of man-made CO2”.

    If the “the addition of man-made CO2” were directly responsible for the “the increase in total mass” then these two parameters would directly relate, but they do not. As I have repeatedly said (e.g. above at August 6, 2010 at 6:38 am):

    “in some years almost the entire anthropogenic emission seems to be sequestered and in other years almost none of it”.

    But this lack of a direct relationship between the two parameters does not prove “the addition of man-made CO2” is not responsible for the “the increase in total mass”. In fact it says absolutely nothing about whether or not the “the addition of man-made CO2” is or is not responsible for the “the increase in total mass” in whole or in part.

    I can only repeat what I have repeatedly said (e.g. at August 6, 2010 at 12:17 pm) and hope that this time you will take note of it. I said there:

    “You assume the natural system is invariate and is being disturbed by the anthropogenic emission. But the natural system is NOT invariate at any time scale (it even varies with the seasons). It consists of many interacting sub-systems that are each seeking to achieve equilibrium that none of them ever attains. The observed rise in atmospheric CO2 may be completely a result of the natural variations that may – or may not – be being significantly affected by the anthropogenic emission.”

    Richard

  288. Paul Birch: As it happens, only a relatively small fraction of the excess CO2 is composed of molecules directly resulting from anthropogenic emissions (IIRC it is only about 4% of the total reservoir). In know that it may sound counter-intuitive, but that is exactly what you would expect if the fluxes shown in Fig 1 are correct (which would mean the rise is purely anthropogenic). I briefly explained the reason for that in response to another poster earlier in the thread, however I can’t be bothered to revisit it as it is more complicated than the mass balance argument (basically set out the differential equations for a one-box carbon cycle model, plug in the figures, solve and see what you get). Alternatively, you could visit Ferdinand’s web site and read the explanation there.

  289. Paul Birch says:
    August 6, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    If you really mean to say only that much of the actual CO2 currently in the atmosphere was put there by human activities then you may be right (though the mass-balance equation still doesn’t prove it, since it would be possible for all of the human-added molecules to have been removed by plants or solution into the sea and replaced by other molecules from those reservoirs). Even then, there is evidence that most CO2 is actually taken out of the atmosphere locally (by plants, rain, etc,), so only quite a small fraction may actually have been put there directly by man.

    For the last 50+ years, some 120 ppmv CO2 was added by humans, some 60 ppmv still is in excess in the atmosphere. The other halve was aborbed by nature (both oceans and vegetation). The increase in the atmosphere is mostly not by the original molecules, as about 20% is exchanged with other reservoirs within a year. But still the entire excess is from human additions, no matter if the aCO2 molecule was captured in the next tree, but then it prevented the capture of a natural molecule instead, thus the total mass of CO2 increased anyway.

  290. Dikran Marsupial:

    At August 6, 2010 at 1:24 pm you quote from my post at August 6, 2010 at 12:54 pm where I said:
    “Simply, a wrong model is wrong so why discuss the details of it?”

    And you respond with:
    “Because that is the way science operates. If you want to show a model is flawed, you need to be able to explicitly identify the step in the derivation where the flaw is introduced (and I made every effort to make that as easy as possible for anyone who wanted to try – which is also an element of good scientific practice).”

    But I did “explicitly identify the step in the derivation where the flaw is introduced” in my post that you are answering. I said there:

    “I have repeatedly explained that your model is based on the flawed assumption that the natural carbon cycle is invariate, and I have demonstratwed that the natural carbon cycle varies at all time scales.”

    So, the identified “step” is at the initial stage of model definition. Your model describes a system that does not exist in reality. Hence, everything in your model is wrong because the model is based on a flawed premise.

    As I said:
    “Simply, a wrong model is wrong so why discuss the details of it?
    (That would be like discussing the details of the dorsal fin on a model of a boat when the model resembles a fish.)”

    And I do not know how I could have been more clear.

    Richard

  291. Dikran Marsupial says:
    August 6, 2010 at 10:18 am
    “Well as anthropogenic uptake is as close to nothing as to make no difference to the argument, we are in agreement then.”

    It isn’t close to nothing. For example, one major source of CO2 emissions is quicklime production; but at later stages in its use a significant fraction of the CO2 is taken up again from the atmosphere (not all, because much is turned into silicates). Agriculture and forestry also take up considerable quantities (much of which, though not all, is subsequently released again). One needs to know the net figure, not merely the gross emissions.

    ““… so we would know that the natural environment is a net sink”

    Dikran:“and hence cannot explain the observed rise.”
    Paul: “Complete non sequitur.”
    Dikran: “I don’t see how it can be a non-sequitur. How can the natural environment be responsible for the observed rise if the observations show it has been a net sink and hence taking up more carbon from the atmosphere each year than it emits? Seems a pretty reasonable step to me.”

    Because the rise might have happened anyway!

    Let me try an analogy. Imagine that you have a lake, connected through a pipe to a pond or drain. Water finds its own level, so the level in the drain is determined by the level of water in the lake. Now suppose you pour some the effluent water from your factory down the drain. Every year, as your factory ramps up its production, the amount of effluent increase. Lo and behold, you notice that over the years, the level of water in the drain seems to have been increasing. Even so, year on year, the drain is a net sink – more effluent goes down it to the lake than remains in the drain. Did your factory cause the rise? No. It just so happens that a succession of wet years has been gradually raising the level of the lake. The cause is wholly natural.

  292. Dikran Marsupial says:

    I almost laughed when I saw the above quote, however I then remembered there is nothing funny about skeptics marginalising themselves from an important debate by being unable to accept one of the few parts of AGW theory that is actually unequivocally supported by the observations.

    I was laughing so hard, I had to remind myself you are being serious.

  293. Richard S Courtney says:
    August 6, 2010 at 1:33 pm

    It does not follow that “the increase in total mass” is “entirely from the addition of man-made CO2, as long as the increase is less than the emissions”.

    That only indicates that “the increase in total mass” is less than “the addition of man-made CO2”.

    Richard, as we both know, this doesn’t help at all. If you don’t accept that if the increase in the atmosphere is less than the emissions, that there is no net addition by nature, simply because nature is a net sink for CO2, then ends the discussion here.
    This is such a simple math, as good as 4-8=-4, rock solid and accepted by anyone with a little common sense, that I still wonder how brilliant minds like you and Arthur Rörsch can think otherwise. But it be so. Meanwhile we are working on part 2.

    If the “the addition of man-made CO2” were directly responsible for the “the increase in total mass” then these two parameters would directly relate, but they do not. As I have repeatedly said (e.g. above at August 6, 2010 at 6:38 am):

    “in some years almost the entire anthropogenic emission seems to be sequestered and in other years almost none of it”.

    But this lack of a direct relationship between the two parameters does not prove “the addition of man-made CO2” is not responsible for the “the increase in total mass”. In fact it says absolutely nothing about whether or not the “the addition of man-made CO2” is or is not responsible for the “the increase in total mass” in whole or in part.

    This is of course an old discussion part and a non-argument: there is not the slightest reason that the derivative of the increase and the yearly emissions should relate (they do but not that good). The trend is directly related to the emissions, but the derivative of the trend is mainly influenced by temperature. That levels off in a few years.
    That is a matter of signal-to-noise ratio: the signal in this case goes above the noise in 2-3 years. For e.g. the d13C decline the signal-to-noise ratio needs some 6-8 years before the signal emerges above the noise and sealevel gauges need some 25 years to (only statistically!) calculate the change in sealevel in between the huge noise that the tides show.

  294. Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
    August 6, 2010 at 12:24 pm
    Paul Birch says:”…it is possible for the instantaneous concentration to be above or below the instantaneous equilibrium value (which is itself varying over time with changes in temperature, compositions of the seas, etc.).”

    Ferdinand: “Sorry, but that is impossible: the moment that the instantaneous equilibrium is above the instantaneous concentration, the current sink would change in an instantaneous source…”

    Not necessarily. I have already answered that point; you have simply ignored the crucial part of my answer. I give the full quote again:
    “Sorry, but you’re wrong. In a simple system, what you say would be true; however, even then the amount by which the atmospheric concentration exceeded the equilibrium concentration could be arbitrarily small (small enough that for practical purposes we could ignore it). For a complex system, in which there are oscillations, lags, non-linear feedbacks, geographical non-uniformities, underdamping, etc., the conclusion is not valid; it is possible for the instantaneous concentration to be above or below the instantaneous equilibrium value (which is itself varying over time with changes in temperature, compositions of the seas, etc.).”

    Anyone who has ever dealt with control systems, filters, transmission lines, feedback circuits or the like will know that what I say is true. Without a detailed understanding of the properties of the whole system, one cannot be sure that weird things like this won’t happen.

  295. Dikran marsupial,

    The AGW mantra is that human use of fossil fuels is causing an increase of CO2 in the atmosphere which in turn is raising the temperature.

    The figures I quoted above, the implications of which Slioch perhaps intentionally ignored, show that human use of fossil fuels increased dramatically between 1980 and 2006 resulting in a 58% increase in CO2 emissions from their consumption. Yet the atmospheric CO2 increase over the same period barely changed at all continuing at roughly the same rate as it has since measurements began in 1959.

    Now if the level of CO2 in the atmosphere was as sensitive to human use of fossil fuels as AGW insists why has that level not risen dramatically given the huge rise fossil fuel use?

  296. Matt G says:
    August 6, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    Thank you for your reply and I do know these can be claimed as cause and effect.

    There is still a problem that needs explaining with it because the ocean heat content at a set surface temperature maintains a balance between the atmospheric CO2 and the CO2 stored in ocean. This doesn’t matter if the CO2 is cause or effect of temperature. If CO2 levels increased as low as you mentioned with 8 ppmv with a 1c rise in ocean temperatures. (ice cores) Then readings from instrumental records should show a much lower increase in CO2 levels with the same energy heat content to remain in equilbrium, because the ocean is far from saturated. The extra CO2 added from humans would have a much larger sink into the oceans then shown with the same comparable 1c temperature increase. This is where the disagreement is between 1c/8ppmv and 1c/278ppmv.

    Matt, you are right: the balance doesn’t fit. The main point is that the current ocean temperature says that the CO2 level should be around 290 ppmv (based on the 8 ppmv/C rate), but we measure 390 ppmv. The problem is that the oceans are slow absorbers of CO2. The excess we see nowadays only goes slowly into the (deep) oceans at a rate of about 2 GtC/year, while the increase in the atmosphere is about 4 GtC/year and the human emissions are at 8 GtC/year. Another part goes into vegetation.

    The main problems in exchange rates are the slow transfer at the ocean-atmosphere border and the slow diffusion speed of CO2 in water. That is enhanced by wind speed (mixing). Thus while the excess is (relative) huge, the sink rate is low. That makes that the ppmv/C ratio currently doesn’t hold for absolute levels, but still is applicable for the fast variability around the trend.

  297. Paul Birch says:
    August 6, 2010 at 2:11 pm

    Anyone who has ever dealt with control systems, filters, transmission lines, feedback circuits or the like will know that what I say is true. Without a detailed understanding of the properties of the whole system, one cannot be sure that weird things like this won’t happen.

    In my former working life it happened that I was a process automation engineer. Thus I may say that I have some experience. Still, even in the most weird non-linear system, if the instantaneous equilibrium is above the instantaneous level, there would be instantly switching from any sink rate to a source rate. Except if you have a different definition of equilibrium?

    But it happens that the whole CO2 cycle behaves as a simple, quite linear system for temperature changes, despite that a lot of underlying processes are far from linear.

  298. Dave Andrews: I suspect the problem is that you are neglecting the 285 ppmv pre-industrial baseline in your calculations, (382-339)/(339-285) = 0.79 (ish). You would only expect the increase in emissions to correllate with the increase in the excess of CO2 over the pre-industrial baseline. The remaining difference is probably due to neglecting changes in land use, however I’d need to think about it. A plot of the data would probably be easier to see where the problem lies.

    HTH

  299. @ Ferdinand Engelbeen

    Originally, I asked, “I see you answered part of my questions with a response to another person. Thanks, but if…………………… “(see above)”…..is true then how did we get to 2000 ppmv CO2 100 million years ago?

    You responded by saying, “Different times: different arrangement of the continents, different temperature/humidity, less calcite deposits,… The 8 ppmv/C only is for the last near million years, more ice age than interglacial, everything before that can’t be compared with current times…”

    I replied, “Ok, you didn’t respond to my last query and I’m a bit more inebriated, so I hope you’ll forgive me for what some may perceive as abrasion. My abrupt manner should not be conceived as a personal attack……”

    Oddly, I find myself in the same condition, once again. Weird. After expressing my displeasure with the dismissive manner in which you replied to me, you responded by stating, “Sorry that I was a little short in my answer: I have underestimated the number of comments I need to respond to. And yours was rather OT for the subject.”

    OT? I thought we were discussing man’s contribution to the atmosphere’s CO2 content. My bad. Personally, I would consider conditions of the earth’s atmosphere, specifically CO2 content, without man, relevant to the discussion of man’s contribution to the earth’s atmosphere in terms of CO2. Sorry, I must have been confused for a second or two. (Mass balance)

    While I’m discussing relevancy, I’m wondering how the shifting of land mass is in any way relevant to the CO2 content of the atmosphere, unless you are asserting the shifting itself causes a increase or reduction of CO2. (How you would quantitate it, is beyond me unless you rely on you mentioned above formula.) The earth continues to shift. How to you attribute the 1/2 increase to man? How much, more or less, are you attributing to land shift? Or do you consider this to be an unquantified constant? Perhaps we can nominally call it sh.. for shift?(Mass balance)

    Are you sure we had less calcite deposits then? Or is that simply a plausible explanation to fit your belief? While I’m not from Missouri, “show me”. (Mass balance)

    More to the point though, you said, “…everything before that can’t be compared with current times…” Yet, you, after the introduction, began with
    “The mass balance: As the laws of conservation of mass rules: no carbon can be destroyed or generated.”

    Yes, this is a widely accepted law of the elements. I’ve asked before, and, I’ll ask again, do you not hold these laws to have been true even then?

    While I could continue the critique of your responses, an attempt a brevity is called for….

    You said, “what is buried in oil, coal and chalk deposits was once a part of the oceans and atmosphere…”

    That is probably true, yet beyond that assumption is the question “Where did the CO2 come from that was once part of the oceans and atmosphere?” Truly, CO2 is representative of past life and energy. Surely, you don’t believe the CO2 originated in the oceans and atmosphere, do you?

    To the end of this conversation, Mr. Engelbeen, I find that you are a compelling, intelligent, and congenial individual. I thank you for the intellectual stimulation. It is much appreciated.

    My final thoughts are as such: Mr. Engelbeen, your formula is wrong. You ought to recognize the error..
    CO2(in1 + in2 + in3 +…) – CO2(out1 + out2 + out3 +…) = – 4 GtC
    This formula only lends to the total depletion of CO2 from our atmosphere. I am not aware of any time in history, written or assumed, where this formula is properly applied. To my knowledge, this has never occurred with man or without. I don’t believe there is any historical evidence 100 mill or 1000 years that the formula could be correctly applied. Sir, you assume too much, or too little. This is reminiscent of a broken clock. It is correct 2 times a day. Your formula equates today. It never did before, and there is no compelling reason to presume it will tomorrow.

    That one doesn’t go back a million years, but what it does show is that the presumed constant -4 is incorrect. That being said, I do believe man has contributed to the total atmospheric CO2. To what end, we don’t know. We don’t know what mechanisms of the earth has kicked in or what stopped. We don’t know. What I know, it we can’t look to the future while ignoring the past. It is lunacy to attempt such an endeavor.

    Thanks again,

    James Sexton

  300. Ferdinand:

    I had to laugh at your post at August 6, 2010 at 1:33 pm.

    In response to my having said:

    “It does not follow that “the increase in total mass” is “entirely from the addition of man-made CO2, as long as the increase is less than the emissions”.
    That only indicates that “the increase in total mass” is less than “the addition of man-made CO2”.”

    You say:

    “Richard, as we both know, this doesn’t help at all. If you don’t accept that if the increase in the atmosphere is less than the emissions, that there is no net addition by nature, simply because nature is a net sink for CO2, then ends the discussion here.”

    Well, it certainly does not help your case at all.

    Your argument certainly is, as you say, “simple math”. Indeed, it is so “simple” that it is wrong because it makes false assumptions then calculates the results of those assumptions.

    Do I really need to yet again explain why your assumptions are plain wrong?
    Please read what I have repeatedly written – in as many ways as I could – above.

    Then, in response to my having pointed out that:

    “If the “the addition of man-made CO2” were directly responsible for the “the increase in total mass” then these two parameters would directly relate, but they do not. As I have repeatedly said (e.g. above at August 6, 2010 at 6:38 am):

    “in some years almost the entire anthropogenic emission seems to be sequestered and in other years almost none of it”.

    But this lack of a direct relationship between the two parameters does not prove “the addition of man-made CO2” is not responsible for the “the increase in total mass”. In fact it says absolutely nothing about whether or not the “the addition of man-made CO2” is or is not responsible for the “the increase in total mass” in whole or in part.”

    You responded tothat with a load of arm waving about “signal-to-noise ratio” that is pure twaddle.

    The fact is that the seasonal variation is much more than the anthropogenic emission in each year. And the increase in atmospheric CO2 for each year is the residual of the seasonal variation. Your mass balance calculations assume the residual is induced by the anthropogenic emission, so – if that is the case – then please explain why in some years almost the entire anthropogenic emission seems to be sequestered and in other years almost none of it.

    This is not – as you assert – a “non-argument”. It is an empirical fact that requires an explanation if your mass balance is to be remotely plausible.

    And you do not explain it with your assertions that
    “The trend is directly related to the emissions, but the derivative of the trend is mainly influenced by temperature”.

    Those assertions are what is commonly called an excuse.

    Is the trend directly related to the emissions? That is what you need to prove, not assert.

    And is the derivative of the trend mainly influenced by temperature? If so, then why is the trend not mainly influenced by the temperature?

    Your assertions may be right (or wrong) but if they are right then please provide some empirical evidence to substantiate them. Arm waving is not evidence.

    Richard

  301. Dave Andrews: I forgot to mention that the net environmental sink will also have strengthened over that period (see figure 3 of the OP).

  302. Dave Andrews says:
    August 6, 2010 at 2:23 pm
    Dikran marsupial,

    The figures I quoted above, the implications of which Slioch perhaps intentionally ignored, show that human use of fossil fuels increased dramatically between 1980 and 2006 resulting in a 58% increase in CO2 emissions from their consumption. Yet the atmospheric CO2 increase over the same period barely changed at all continuing at roughly the same rate as it has since measurements began in 1959.

    Have a better look at figure 3 in the introduction: The rate of emissions in the period 1960-2004 more than doubled. But so did the increase rate of the atmosphere too, be it more variable. The yearly increase, not the total trend, is roughly related to the yearly emissions. The trend itself is directly related to the accumulated emissions.

  303. Paul Birch says:
    August 6, 2010 at 1:54 pm

    Lo and behold, you notice that over the years, the level of water in the drain seems to have been increasing. Even so, year on year, the drain is a net sink – more effluent goes down it to the lake than remains in the drain. Did your factory cause the rise? No. It just so happens that a succession of wet years has been gradually raising the level of the lake. The cause is wholly natural.

    If the increase in the drain is less than what can be calculated from the increased production outflow, then there can’t be a natural increase in the lake. If there was a natural increase in the lake, the increase in the drain would be larger than calculated from the increased production.

  304. Ferdinand

    Sorry to drop a small fly in the ointment at this late stage, but, for the sake of completeness, may I return to your previous statement, with which I previously agreed, viz.: “As long as the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere is less than the human emissions, nature doesn’t add any extra CO2 (as mass, not as individual molecules) to the atmosphere.
    It is that simple…”

    Yes. But, not quite. As I mentioned earlier, volcanoes contribute about 1% as much CO2 to the atmosphere as human emissions [though actually much of this CO2 is in sub-sea emissions and therefore doesn't get into the atmosphere, but I'll stick to 1% for brevity] . Like human emissions from burning fossil fuels, the CO2 from volcanoes is “new”: that is, it consists of CO2 (or carbon) that has not been involved in the short-term carbon cycle (ie that which consists of interactions between the atmosphere, oceans and biosphere) for a very long time. Therefore, volcanic CO2 should be added to anthropogenic CO2 from burning fossil fuels when calculating the increase in atmospheric CO2. As you mentioned in your original article, about 55% of the CO2 emitted by humans is absorbed by the oceans and terrestrial systems, leaving about 45% in the atmosphere (my figures give 40%, but no matter), and this figure appears to be fairly constant. If total anthropogenic + volcanic atmospheric CO2 emissions increase, then the amount of CO2 remaining in the atmosphere increases proportionately.

    It follows, therefore, that about 1% of the annual increase in CO2 in the atmosphere is due to volcanic activity, and the above statement is not quite correct: nature does add CO2 as mass to the atmosphere because of volcanoes. If volcanoes had not emitted any CO2 for the last hundred years, then the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere would be less than it currently is, by a small amount.

  305. James Sexton says:
    August 6, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    While I’m discussing relevancy, I’m wondering how the shifting of land mass is in any way relevant to the CO2 content of the atmosphere, unless you are asserting the shifting itself causes a increase or reduction of CO2.

    If most landmass is around the poles, in a cold climate, there is ample room for vegetation (see Antarctica!). If most is around the equator, that gives abundant vegetation. That influences CO2 levels and sequestering (coal formation).

    Much of the current chalk deposits are from the Cretaceous period. That has influenced the CO2 levels, but still no carbon was destroyed or formed, the conservation of mass did hold, only there was an exchange of carbon between different reservoirs.

    The bulk of all carbon still is in the deep oceans, but I have no idea how it was formed during the formation of the earth.

    For the last few million years, the geological changes are too slow to have much impact on CO2 levels, except temporarely for huge volcanic eruptions. The climatological impacts are far huger: ice ages and interglacials. Thus the geological changes are not included.

    About my formula: that is only for the past 50 years, as that is the period we have with very accurate CO2 measurements. The -4 GtC is not fixed, but variable: in 1960 it was -1 GtC (0.5 ppmv), in 2006 it is about -4 GtC and we have a year-by-year natural variability. See the green part of Fig. 3 in the introduction.
    There is no fear that the formula will deplete the atmosphere from CO2, as humans add about twice the amount that is removed.

  306. Slioch: volcanic emissions are just part of “environmental emissions” for the purposes of the mass balance argument (as “environmental emissions” is basically all emissions that are not anthropogenic). Figure 3 shows that environmental uptake is large enough to absorb ALL environmental emissions (including that from volcanos) and enough left over to absorb about half of anthropogenic emissions as well, so if volcanos are viewed as being part of the natural environment, they are not contributing to the rise (as other changes in the natural environment are compensating for them).

    It is true that the volcanic CO2 was previously geologically sequestered, but volcanic emissions have been going on for thousands of years without causing a noticable rise in atmospheric CO2.

  307. Richard S Courtney says:
    August 6, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    Your argument certainly is, as you say, “simple math”. Indeed, it is so “simple” that it is wrong because it makes false assumptions then calculates the results of those assumptions.

    There are no false assumptions in my math. The math is simply the sum of what is known and unknown in the mass balance. The result of what is known is that the sum of the unknowns is negative over the past 50 years. That is basic math and nothing else.

    Do I really need to yet again explain why your assumptions are plain wrong?
    Please read what I have repeatedly written – in as many ways as I could – above.

    You may believe that something else than the emissions could be blamed for the increase. That is up to you, but that is completely baseless if nature as a whole acts as a sink for CO2.

    “If the “the addition of man-made CO2” were directly responsible for the “the increase in total mass” then these two parameters would directly relate, but they do not. As I have repeatedly said (e.g. above at August 6, 2010 at 6:38 am):

    “in some years almost the entire anthropogenic emission seems to be sequestered and in other years almost none of it”.

    You responded tothat with a load of arm waving about “signal-to-noise ratio” that is pure twaddle.

    If you find that the signal to noise ratio doesn’t play a role at all, that only proves that you have no background knowledge in these matters. If two variables influence a third one, independent of each other, then the influence where one is interested in may be weak, because the other variable interferes. In this case, temperature variations have a short term, but important influence on the rate of increase. Human emissions too have a weak influence on the rate of increase (but a strong one on the trend itself), but that is only certain after 2-3 years of trend.

    Your mass balance calculations assume the residual is induced by the anthropogenic emission, so – if that is the case – then please explain why in some years almost the entire anthropogenic emission seems to be sequestered and in other years almost none of it.

    My mass balance assumes nothing. It only shows that there is a negative residual from the seasonal changes. The negative residual varies, as can be seen as the green part of Fig 3. That is mainly caused by temperature variations, which influence the sink rate of oceans and vegetation.

    Is the trend directly related to the emissions? That is what you need to prove, not assert.

    Here is the correlation between emissions and increase in the atmosphere:

    If you know of any natural process that independently follows the emissions with such an incredible accurate trend (R^2: 0.9966) I want to see that.

    And is the derivative of the trend mainly influenced by temperature? If so, then why is the trend not mainly influenced by the temperature?

    Because most of the temperature variability is short term and levels out in a few years time. The long term temperature trend is small and near absent in the past decade.

  308. Slioch says:
    August 6, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    Thanks for the addition. But as far as I know, volcano emissions (except in extreme periods) and outgassing are included as part of the natural cycle, together with other sources like carbonate rock weathering. At the other side, more permanent carbon storage on land from vegetation (peat, browncoal, coal) and in the oceans (calcite deposits) removes carbon from the cycle…

  309. CO2 residence time is 5 to 15 years.
    Dr. Robert H. Essenhigh (2009), Professor of Energy Conversion at The Ohio State University
    Essenhigh, R.E. 2009: Potential dependence of global warming on the residence time (RT) in the atmosphere of anthropogenically sourced carbon dioxide. Energy & Fuels 23: 2773-2784.

    (http://jennifermarohasy.com/blog/2009/04/carbon-dioxide-in-atmosphere-5-15-years-only/).

    “The data source used was outcome of the injection of excess 14CO2 into the atmosphere during the A-bomb tests in the 1950’s/60’s which generated an initial increase of approximately 1000% above the normal value, and which then declined substantially exponentially with time, with [RT]= 16 years.”

    12CO2 has a shorter residence time, about 5 years.

    “The long-term (~100-year) rising atmospheric CO2 concentration is not from anthropogenic sources but, in accordance with conclusions from other studies, is most probably the outcome of the rising atmospheric temperature which is due to other natural factors. This further supports the conclusion that global warming is not anthropogenically driven as outcome of combustion. The economic and political significance of that conclusion will be self-evident.”

    Also: Tom V. Segalstad
    Associate Professor of Resource and Environmental Geology
    The University of Oslo, Norway

    Volume 12, Number 31: 5 August 2009

    “The correct evaluation of the CO2 residence time — giving values of about 5 years for the bulk of the atmospheric CO2 molecules, as per Essenhigh’s (2009) reasoning and numerous measurements with different methods — tells us that the real world’s CO2 is part of a dynamic (i.e. non-static) system, where about one fifth of the atmospheric CO2 pool is exchanged every year between different sources and sinks, due to relatively fast equilibria and temperature-dependent CO2 partitioning governed by the chemical Henry’s Law (Segalstad 1992; Segalstad, 1996; Segalstad, 1998).”

  310. Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
    August 6, 2010 at 12:29 pm

    quote
    Julian, we don’t need to know the flows: as long as the increase in the atmosphere is less than the emissions, the emissions are fully responsible for the increase… No need to tackle other parts of the carbon cycle, except for better understanding of what happens in nature.
    unquote

    That would only be true if nothing else was varying. All the flows are varying for various reasons, some natural, some anthropogenic. Sinks are changing as well as sources. With 18 variables then I don’t see how you are able to say anything about attribution.

    You keep saying, in effect, that the CO2 cycle can be treated just as a big box and that a change in input will automatically be reflected in the output. I do not see this as a logical argument. If the sinks are varying as well as the sources then back-calculating what caused what is not possible. What comes out is a reflection of all the variations, not just the variation in input. Yes, the new input will have an effect on the output but what it is, its proportion of the whole mass of effects, will also depend on the internal changes in the CO2 black box.

    Imagine a lake with eighteen streams pouring into it controlled by valves with changing settings depending on temperature, business cycles, agriculture, deforestation, acid rain details from thirty years ago, while down at one end a little boy widdles into it. From it runs a series of pipes of varying diameter with valves which also change according to the season, the orbit of the planet, the amount of oil spilled on the lake surface by a passing Benjamin Franklin, how windy it is, whether the ducks are being fed too much bread, etc etc etc .

    You know the bladder capacity of the little boy and the level of the lake. The level of the lake rises by an amount weakly correlated with the boy’s bladder capacity. Why is the lake level changing?

    But I’m willing to learn. Perhaps if you follow through your logic very slowly and carefully, explaining how you know that the 4 Gt is not the residue of much larger, mostly sequestered, changes, then I’ll catch on. Don’t forget to allow for changing sinks.

    Tell you what. Let’s see if any of the posters/lurkers on this thread can run up a simple model. A central reservoir fed and emptied by varying ducts should produce some answers which might clarify thought processes, not least mine. Perhaps the Treasury could fire up their hydraulic computer and model it on there — it’s just the right sort of problem.

    JF
    Mosher, re your request for a reduction in output from an increase in input — Google Chaotic Lorenz Water Wheel . In a sufficiently complex system nothing would surprise me.

  311. Ferdinand Engelbeen, Dikran Marsupial, and Slioch: your posts are painful to read, they are so riddled with logical error. This is not algebra, it is calculus. In a feedback system, the feedback opposes change. Thus, when an external input pushes in one direction, the feedbacks pushing in that direction automatically relax to maintain the equilibrium. Your statements to the effect that the abstract accumulation of the anthropogenic input is greater than the overall rise prooves that the rise is anthropogenic are… how can I put this kindly… mindless. This is what feedback systems do.

    Let’s consider a simple feedback system, that of your household thermostat. It is a modern thermostat which has the ability to maintain different temperatures in the day when nobody is at home and at night when somebody is. It’s summertime and somebody has set the thermostat to maintain 74 degF during the day, and 69 degF in the evening.

    One evening, you find you are cold, so you bring out a space heater and turn it on full blast. Yet, the house stubbornly stays 69 degF. You go to sleep, and you wake up late to find the house is 74 degF. You calculate the heat put out by your little space heater, and determine that it has put out enough heat that the house should be 79 degF. Still, you conclude that the house has warmed because of your little space heater, because it is warmer, and the space heater put out heat, QED.

    This is the situation here. The Earth’s carbon regulator doesn’t care about your little “space heater”. It’s running on its own program. And, your logic is akin to that of a witch doctor who … oh never mind.

  312. Thank you Dr Engelbeem, for this article and for the tireless and polite way you have fielded questions, even some of the difficult ones.
    That said, I was disappointed with this presentation.
    Maybe I’ve been spoiled by the amount of effort other contributors like Steve Goddard, Willis Essenbach, and Bob Tisdale put into their presentations, always trying to use the latest data and making up their own graphs and images to illustrate their conclusions, yet here we have a presentation on one of the central planks of the AGW conjecture and all we get is a ten year old graph with out of date figures in it and the bald assertion (or should that be hunch) that because man is putting up 7GT of CO2 and 4GT are staying up, only man can be adding CO2 to the atmosphere. In a complex and chaotic system like the biosphere, this is simplistic in the extreme.
    The updated figures from New Scientist are 120GT for Land, 90GT for Oceans, and 7.2 GT for man, but I’ve seen different figures in other comments here, which could be even more up to date, and that begs the question, do we even know definitively how much CO2 is going up from the various sources.
    No account has been taken of the sequestration of CO2 by mans actions through agriculture and forestry, for instance. Even the act of dumping our rubbish in the ground and filling it over could be said to be “fixing” CO2 . If all that amounted to 4GT of carbon sequestrated, that would put a completely different complexion on the figures you present here.
    It completely ignores the elephants in the room, the tens of thousands of active volcanoes, and the millions of meteorites that rain down on the Earth each day. Both of these are unique in the sense that they are the only source of new CO2 into the biosphere, whereas Land, Oceans and man are just recycling CO2 already within. So far, all I’ve seen is guesses as to the contribution of CO2 from these sources.
    They are also unique in the sense that they do not sequester CO2 in any way, yet we are asked to accept that the biosphere can handle the sequestration of this extra “new” CO2, but it chokes on the CO2 recycled within it by man.
    I don’t deny that man is contributing to the rise in CO2 into the atmosphere, and I’ll hope that the next presentations further enlighten me, but on the basis of this one, I’m not encouraged.
    Thank you again,
    Paul Hanlon.

  313. re: Dikran Marsupial says:
    August 6, 2010 at 4:11 pm
    and Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
    August 6, 2010 at 4:47 pm

    Yes, having slept on it, I think you are right. Atmospheric CO2 has been on a generally downward trend for the last few tens of millions of years, which suggests that the long term sequestration of carbon (via subduction of carbonates, for example) is more than able to compensate for the CO2 emitted by volcanoes. There is no reason to believe that this process does not continue into the present and that therefore the modest contribution of volcanoes continues to be sequestrated as part of the very long-term carbon cycle. In order for volcanic activity to be recognised as a net contributor to atmospheric CO2 one would need to demonstrate that there had been a recent large increase, greatly more than the long-term average, in volcanic CO2 emissions (or a cessation of sequestration) : and that is certainly not the case.

    I think I’ve just provided myself with a falsification of the ancient proposition: in vino veritas!

  314. Ferdinand:

    This is becoming tiresome. You repeatedly attempt to excuse your errors by adding additional assertions. Now, at August 6, 2010 at 4:41 pm, you say:

    “If you find that the signal to noise ratio doesn’t play a role at all, that only proves that you have no background knowledge in these matters. If two variables influence a third one, independent of each other, then the influence where one is interested in may be weak, because the other variable interferes. In this case, temperature variations have a short term, but important influence on the rate of increase. Human emissions too have a weak influence on the rate of increase (but a strong one on the trend itself), but that is only certain after 2-3 years of trend.”

    Say what!? “temperature variations have a short term, but important influence on the rate of increase”? Have you never heard of Henry’s Law?

    Global temperature is aserted to have increased over the last century. There is an exchange rate between ocean and air. Can you prove that the exchange rate provides equilibrium in less than (as you assert) 2-3 years? It is generally assumed that the rate would require about 40 years for equilibrium. Indeed, your own Figure 2 denies such a rapid adjustment to equilibrium as you suggest.

    It is not science to make assumptions that provide circular arguments justified by assertions that have no basis in demonstrated reality.

    Richard

  315. Joseph Day says:
    August 6, 2010 at 7:43 pm

    CO2 residence time is 5 to 15 years.

    True, but irrelevant here and irrelevant for any amount of CO2 in excess: the decay time for excess CO2 is around 40 years, based on the sink rates of currently 4 GtC/year, while the exchange rates of about 150 GtC/year are responsible for the residence time of about 5 years. The residence time doesn’t change the total amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, but influences its isotopic composition.

  316. Julian Flood says:
    August 6, 2010 at 8:23 pm

    That would only be true if nothing else was varying. All the flows are varying for various reasons, some natural, some anthropogenic. Sinks are changing as well as sources. With 18 variables then I don’t see how you are able to say anything about attribution.

    We only have rough estimates for what happens in nature, but even then, we know the exact net result of all the changes of the 18 (or more) variables, both on inputs and outputs, over a year: that is the difference between what is emitted and the increase in the atmosphere. That is what the law of conservation of mass dictates. That is visible as the net sink rate, the green part of Fig. 3 of the introduction. In all years over the past 50 years, there is no net addition by nature, only a net removal of CO2 out of the atmosphere. Regardless how large the many inputs and outputs were or how they changed over the year(s). That makes that the human emissions are the sole cause of the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere.

    The graph shows that the net sink rate is variable, but quite moderate: +/- 1 ppmv (2 GtC) from year to year. Mainly the result of temperature changes at around 4 ppmv/C. That the changes are quite moderate may have to do with the opposite effect of temperature on oceans and vegetation. The variability is not more than halve the emissions.

    You keep saying, in effect, that the CO2 cycle can be treated just as a big box and that a change in input will automatically be reflected in the output. I do not see this as a logical argument. If the sinks are varying as well as the sources then back-calculating what caused what is not possible. What comes out is a reflection of all the variations, not just the variation in input. Yes, the new input will have an effect on the output but what it is, its proportion of the whole mass of effects, will also depend on the internal changes in the CO2 black box.

    It is good practice to use a “black box” model if you have a lot of influences with unknown proportions and then look at the behaviour of the model. In this case the behaviour of the whole CO2 cycle is surprisingly linear for temperature changes (Vostok and other ice cores) and surprisingly linear for human emissions (45% uptake over the past 100 years). But that is for one of the next parts.

    But I’m willing to learn. Perhaps if you follow through your logic very slowly and carefully, explaining how you know that the 4 Gt is not the residue of much larger, mostly sequestered, changes, then I’ll catch on. Don’t forget to allow for changing sinks.

    Thanks. I don’t know exactly in how far the variability of the sink rate is caused by less or more oceanic outgassing and more or less uptake by vegetation. There are a few studies which show that the short term response to temperature changes is mainly a response by vegetation, while the long term response is mainly from the oceans. For the net effect, that is not really important, as in all years over the past half century, nature acted as a net sink…

  317. Bart says:
    August 6, 2010 at 8:31 pm

    Ferdinand Engelbeen, Dikran Marsupial, and Slioch: your posts are painful to read, they are so riddled with logical error. This is not algebra, it is calculus. In a feedback system, the feedback opposes change. Thus, when an external input pushes in one direction, the feedbacks pushing in that direction automatically relax to maintain the equilibrium. Your statements to the effect that the abstract accumulation of the anthropogenic input is greater than the overall rise prooves that the rise is anthropogenic are… how can I put this kindly… mindless. This is what feedback systems do.

    Agreed that the CO2 cycle acts as a system in equilibrium, disturbed by either temperature and/or the emissions. That is in fact the whole point. The response of the system is to reduce the impact of the disturbance: in this case the emissions increase the CO2 level in the atmosphere, decreasing the oceanic outgassing near the equator and increasing the uptake at the poles. That results in a sequestering of about 4 GtC/yr of the 8 GtC/yr emitted (partly in the oceans, partly in vegetation). Still the difference is 4 GtC/yr which shows up as increase in the atmosphere. In this case, the reaction of the system is less than the disturbance, mainly due to the slow uptake speed of the oceans. Thus anyway, the response of the whole natural cycle is an extra uptake, not a release, which shows that the emissions are the sole source of the increase in the atmosphere.

  318. Joseph Day

    Regarding Essenhigh (2009), the calculation of the residence time in that paper is fine, however it is also completely uncontraversial, the same result is given in IPCC reports. However Essenhigh is incorrect to say that a residence time of 5 years means that the rise cannot be of anthropogenic origin, becuase he fails to grasp the difference between residence time (the average time an individual molecule stays in the atmosphere – about 4 years) and adjustment time (the amount of time it takes for atmospheric CO2 to adjust to a change in the sources or sinks in the carbon cycle – 70+ years depending on the exact form of the model used to estimate it).

    The adjustment time is what controls the rise and fall of atmospheric CO2, not the residence time. The reason is that the large seasonal fluxes constantly exchange carbon between the different reservoirs, however just swapping carbon molecules from one reservoir to another doesn’t change the total amount of carbon in each reservoir. The exchange fluxes are very large, so the residence time is short.

    The rise and fall of atmospheric CO2 however depends only on the difference between total emissions and total uptake. This is much smaller than the magnitude of the fluxes, which is why the adjustment time is much longer.

    Again this is very clearly explained on Ferdinands web page, and IIRC Ferdinand also explained the flaw in the reasoning in the comments on the blog article you mentioned.

  319. Dear Anthony,
    you wrote: “I don’t think Beck’s work is worth much in the context of trends because many of the historical samples he cites were done by less accurate chemical reduction methods and taken in cities with little or no quality control from point to point or metadata.”
    That´s not true! This is Ferdinands propaganda.
    I do not use data from cities and the chemical methods are well known in every analytical textbook and very accurate (0.33-3%). August Krogh and Otto Warburg had received their Nobel awards using these methods.
    Please check the sources on my website.

  320. Well, here’s the thing. I’ve read everything on this thread, and in spite of the fact that I am being ignored, I still come away with the feeling that this is 100% wrong.

    I don’t like circular logic, just as I never liked when my parents said “because I said so”. There is nothing here that is anything BUT circular logic. The idea that “the mechanism doesn’t matter, only the results do” is wrong.

    In all seriousness, I expected this post to be a rationalization of the method used to determine that CO2 increase is man made, and I was willing to listen. Instead I find that it is nothing of the sort. If this is the definition of a basic tenet of AGW theory, then this post has, to me, confirmed the error of AGW theory.

    It has not been proved that human activity is responsible for increasing CO2 levels. It has not been shown that the 285ppm “preindustrial” level is even accurate. There is nothing to demonstrate a credible argument against CO2 rise being the RESULT as opposed to the cause of recent warming, if they are even related at all.

    Perhaps this would work in an educational environment where the student is expected to take your word for it and regurgitate the data in a test later, however that is not why I’m here. I was fully willing to read and ponder a credible explanation, instead I get something that is childishly inaccurate.

    The underlying assumption that sinks are relatively stable is wrong. The stated assumption that any leftover accounting is anthropogenic is wrong, and the stated assumption that it is possible to accurately account for sources and sinks with current technology is doubly wrong. Maybe after a few years of data from orbital CO2 observation platforms we can begin to have an accurate assessment of CO2 sources and sinks, but not today.

    If this was a debate, clearly it was won by Richard S Courtney, although it was obviously not a debate. In fact, I’d like to see a guest post by Mr. Courtney explaining why CO2 increase is NOT man made. Any chance of that?

  321. Julian Flood

    “You keep saying, in effect, that the CO2 cycle can be treated just as a big box and that a change in input will automatically be reflected in the output. I do not see this as a logical argument.”

    The mass balance argument does not assume that a change in input will automatically be reflected in a change in the output. The only assumption it makes (regardless of what Richard S. Courtney and others keep asserting) is that any carbon entering the box representing the atmopshere that doesn’t leave the box, stays in the box. In other words, there is conservation of matter.

    It is true that in the real world, a change in input will cause a change in output. This is because it is a dynamical system (that has been in approximate equilibrium for thousands of years prior to the industrial) if you peturb it with anthropogenic CO2 emissions then the system will respond in an attempt to restore the equilibrium. HOWEVER that is NOT part of the mass balance argument, which just estimates the net environmental flux from observations of the annual rise in CO2 and anthropogenic emissions, assuming only conservation of mass.

    “If the sinks are varying as well as the sources then back-calculating what caused what is not possible. What comes out is a reflection of all the variations, not just the variation in input. Yes, the new input will have an effect on the output but what it is, its proportion of the whole mass of effects, will also depend on the internal changes in the CO2 black box.”

    The mass balance argument only attempts to determine the net effect of the natural environment on atmospheric CO2. It does not attempt to back calculate what happened to individual sources or sinks, and it is not necessary to do so. All you need to show that the rise is of anthropogenic origin is to show that natural uptake exceeds natural emissions – which is a very straightforward bit of accounting.

    “Imagine a lake with eighteen streams pouring into it controlled by valves with changing settings depending on temperature, business cycles, agriculture, deforestation, acid rain details from thirty years ago, while down at one end a little boy widdles into it. From it runs a series of pipes of varying diameter with valves which also change according to the season, the orbit of the planet, the amount of oil spilled on the lake surface by a passing Benjamin Franklin, how windy it is, whether the ducks are being fed too much bread, etc etc etc .

    You know the bladder capacity of the little boy and the level of the lake. The level of the lake rises by an amount weakly correlated with the boy’s bladder capacity. Why is the lake level changing?”

    Firstly, the mass balance argument is not based on a correlation, but on the rise being consistently less than anthropogenic emissions. The correlation may look weak because of the year-to-year variability, but that variability is never strong enough for the rise to exceed anthropogenic emissions at any point in the last fifty years, and so has absolutely no effect on the mass balance argument.

    If you know that the rise was smaller than the amount the boy peed into the lake then you know that the net effect of everything other than the boy was to lower the level of water in the lake. You don’t need to know what happened to the 18 streams, or the other sources or sinks to know that. Again, the only assumption is that water is not spontaneously created or destroyed (conservation of mass) and must be accounted for. This gives:

    [rise] = [boys pee] + [net effect of eveything else]

    [rise] and [boys pee] are both measured, so we can infer [net effect of everything else] using:

    [net effect of everything else] = [rise] – [boys pee]

    If [net effect of everything else] is negative (i.e. [everything else] is a net sink) then the only explanation for the rise is the boys pee. That is the mass balance argument. It makes no assumptions about equilibria or changes in sources or sinks – it is equally valid whether they are changing or not – it is just inferring the net behaviour of the environment from quantities we can measure using one assumption and one assumption only – conservation of mass.

    Hope that helps – I think the discussion has been derailed by assertions that mass balance makes assumptions that are invalid, however they are not assumptions actually made by the mass balance argument. There is only one, namely conservation of mass.

    Also the mass balance argument does not try to infer the behaviour of individual sources or sinks, only the net environmental flux. You only need to know the net environmental flux to determine whether the rise is anthropogenic or natural. If the net environmental flux is negative (i.e. it is a net sink) it can’t be the cause of the rise as it is opposing the rise by taking more carbon out of the atmosphere than it puts in. We know the net environmental flux is negative as the observed rise is less than anthropogenic emissions (see fig. 3) and the difference must be absorbed by the environment – it has to go somewhere. It is as simple as that.

  322. paulhan says:
    August 6, 2010 at 8:44 pm

    Thank you Dr Engelbeem, for this article and for the tireless and polite way you have fielded questions, even some of the difficult ones.
    That said, I was disappointed with this presentation.
    Maybe I’ve been spoiled by the amount of effort other contributors like Steve Goddard, Willis Essenbach, and Bob Tisdale put into their presentations, always trying to use the latest data and making up their own graphs and images to illustrate their conclusions, yet here we have a presentation on one of the central planks of the AGW conjecture and all we get is a ten year old graph with out of date figures in it and the bald assertion (or should that be hunch) that because man is putting up 7GT of CO2 and 4GT are staying up, only man can be adding CO2 to the atmosphere. In a complex and chaotic system like the biosphere, this is simplistic in the extreme.

    Thanks for the comment, I am no Dr (have a B.Sc. in chemistry, but changed the process control job for a M.Sc. job in process automation many years ago, now retired).

    The fact that we have over 300 responses now, shows that there still is a lot of controversy. The ten year old NASA graph is in fact not very important and indeed need an update, but it does show the main storages of carbon and a rough indication of the exchanges between the different compartiments. What is important is graph 3, where the emissions, the increase in the atmosphere and the natural sink rate are plotted. That shows that the sum of all natural in and outflows of the atmosphere is negative over the past 50 years. Whatever the height or the changes of the individual flows over the year(s). Thus the mass balance shows that nature is not responsible for the increase in any way: it is a net sink, not a source of CO2 in the atmosphere.

    It may seem simplistic, but as long as the observed increase is less than the human additions, there is no net contribution from the natural CO2 cycle and the human additions are the sole cause of the increase.

    No account has been taken of the sequestration of CO2 by mans actions through agriculture and forestry, for instance. Even the act of dumping our rubbish in the ground and filling it over could be said to be “fixing” CO2 . If all that amounted to 4GT of carbon sequestrated, that would put a completely different complexion on the figures you present here.

    I haven’t included land use changes, as these are quite uncertain. That accounts for about 20% more CO2 emissions than from burning fossil fuels.
    I didn’t look up for all possible human induced sequestering in detail, but here my impression:
    Sequestering rubbish is a very small player: all plastics worldwide present about 4% of oil resources (and burying it prevents emissions), natural materials (wood, paper,…) may represent larger quantities, but still pale against fossil fuel use, probably even against land use changes, with or without reforestration. Agriculture in general is a break-even operation: what is sequestered in one month/year is eaten/decaying in the next months/years, except for a slight increase in more permanent humus and root systems, as far as no forests were destroyed first.

    As mentioned before, active volcanoes present about 1% of the human emissions and are part of the natural cycle. I have no idea how much CO2 meteorites add to the atmosphere, but I doubt that it is substantial. And that too is part of the natural cycle. As long as there is no enormous increase in volcanic activity or meteorite impact, that plays no role at all in the CO2 levels. Indeed nature could cope with all natural changes: CO2 levels decreased over the past tens of millions of years to the pre-industrial, temperature driven equilibrium. But nature can’t cope with the rapidity of the current emissions, as the mass balance shows…

    BTW, the New Scientist page uses Gt CO2, NASA and most others use Gt C, as that isn’t influenced by CO2 transitions into other molecules.

  323. Just to clarify:

    (i) the mass balance argument tells us that the environment has been a net sink, but it does not explain why, nor does it attempt to. It is based on two sources of data (anthropogenic emissions and measurements of the observed rise in atmospheric CO2) and one assumtion and one assumption only, namely conservation of mass (hence the name “mass balance argument”).

    (ii) The discussion of equilibria etc. is an attempt to explain why the natural environment is a net sink, and is independent of the mass balance argument.

    (iii) The validity of any assumptions about equilibria, or what individual sources or sinks are doing has no effect on the validity of the mass balance argument, as the mass balance argument does not depend any such assumptions.

  324. Richard S Courtney says:
    August 6, 2010 at 11:43 pm

    This is becoming tiresome. You repeatedly attempt to excuse your errors by adding additional assertions. Now, at August 6, 2010 at 4:41 pm, you say:

    That is your opinion, not based on any scientific evidence…

    “If you find that the signal to noise ratio doesn’t play a role at all, that only proves that you have no background knowledge in these matters. If two variables influence a third one, independent of each other, then the influence where one is interested in may be weak, because the other variable interferes. In this case, temperature variations have a short term, but important influence on the rate of increase. Human emissions too have a weak influence on the rate of increase (but a strong one on the trend itself), but that is only certain after 2-3 years of trend.”

    Say what!? “temperature variations have a short term, but important influence on the rate of increase”? Have you never heard of Henry’s Law?

    We are talking about the rate of increase, not the effect of temperature on the increase itself. The first year after a temperature increase will show a huge decrease in increase rate (at about 4 ppmv/C), the next year that will be near zero, if there is no temperature change at all. This includes the direct effect of such a change on the equilibrium itself.

    A numeric example: A sudden increase of 1 C, due to a super El Niño. First year change in increase rate: +4 ppmv, which means that near all 8 GtC of the emissions remain in the atmosphere or an increase of 4 ppmv. Second year change in increase rate: 0 ppmv (as the temperature remains high), 4 GtC remaining in the atmosphere, CO2 increase 2 ppmv. Third year, a small cooling – 0.5 C. Change in increase rate
    -2 ppmv, 0 GtC or 0 ppmv remaining in the atmosphere…

    The effect of a prolonged temperature change on the CO2 equilibrium is about 8 ppmv/C on long term. The average increase rate in the atmosphere is 2 ppmv/year, thus even a sudden and prolonged increase of 1 C will be surpassed by 4 years of emissions.

    Global temperature is aserted to have increased over the last century. There is an exchange rate between ocean and air. Can you prove that the exchange rate provides equilibrium in less than (as you assert) 2-3 years? It is generally assumed that the rate would require about 40 years for equilibrium. Indeed, your own Figure 2 denies such a rapid adjustment to equilibrium as you suggest.

    The 2-3 years equilibrium speed between ocean surface and atmosphere comes from Oeschger e.a., but Takahashi doesn’t find such a lag. See:

    http://dge.stanford.edu/SCOPE/SCOPE_16/SCOPE_16_1.5.06_Sundquist_259-269.pdf

    The seasonal variability of Fig.2 is caused by vegetation changes. These are very rapid and massive in the NH, giving faster changes in CO2 level than the ocean surface can cope with.

    The fast equilibrium is only for the upper ocean layer, which follows the atmospherice increase with about 10% increase in mass for a 100% increase in the atmosphere. The 40 years equilibrium I suppose is for thermal (dis)equilibrium, not for CO2.

    It is not science to make assumptions that provide circular arguments justified by assertions that have no basis in demonstrated reality.

    There is nothing circular in these arguments, neither in the mass balance equation. Everything based on the observations.

  325. Seems that I wasn’t alert enough today:

    which means that near all 8 GtC of the emissions remain in the atmosphere or an increase of 4 ppmv.

    But as the effect of a sudden increase of 1 C is about 4 ppmv and the average increase in CO2 without temperature changes is 2 ppmv/year, the total increase is 6 ppmv, or 12 GtC, that is more than the human emissions. The law of conservation of mass still holds: the increase in the atmosphere in that case is the sum of the emissions + 4 GtC extra from the sudden warming.

  326. Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
    August 6, 2010 at 2:37 pm
    Paul Birch says: “Anyone who has ever dealt with control systems, filters, transmission lines, feedback circuits or the like will know that what I say is true. Without a detailed understanding of the properties of the whole system, one cannot be sure that weird things like this won’t happen.”
    Ferdinand says: “In my former working life it happened that I was a process automation engineer. Thus I may say that I have some experience. Still, even in the most weird non-linear system, if the instantaneous equilibrium is above the instantaneous level, there would be instantly switching from any sink rate to a source rate. Except if you have a different definition of equilibrium?”

    By instantaneous equilibrium level I mean the steady state level that would obtain if conditions (such as surface temperatures) stayed constant at their current values. This may not be totally well-defined, since oscillations in the conditions may be part of the conditions, and one would then have to specify exactly what one is holding constant.

    Allow me to describe two simple models in which such behaviour is manifest:

    Take a U-tube and fill with water. The water level is the same in both arms; this is the equilibrium level. Now jiggle the U-tube. The water level oscillates; as one arm goes up the other goes down. Half the time the level in the righthand arm is below equilibrium. Stop the jiggling for a moment. Near the top of the tube, add narrow side pieces through which water can enter and leave the tube. On the right hand side, make it an adjustable constant flow source (such as a cistern of water at high level); this is the equivalent of our anthropogenic emissions. On the left hand side, leave it open, so that the water spilling through it runs away; this is analogous to the “permanent” deep sinks. The true equilibrium level is now the level of the overflow. The actual steady state level will be somewhat higher, and will depend on the rate at which water is added at the source (it also depends on the diameter of the overflow). Now start the jiggling again. The water level oscillates again as the water sloshes from arm to arm and back again. The average level in the right hand tube is still higher than the equilibrium level, and slightly above the previous steady state (because overflow rates scale as the square root of the head) . However, half of the time the level is less than this; and, if the oscillation is sufficiently strong, for some fraction of the time it will be below the equilibrium level even though the input flow is still continuing, and the right hand arm is still acting as a sink!

    If you’ve followed that, let’s look at an even more interesting arrangement in which the level in the input arm is persistently below the equilibrium level. Lengthen the bottom of the U into a horizontal pipe, then add a third arm in the centre (making a squared off W). The equilibrium level is of course the same in all three arms. Shift the input to the middle arm. Start jiggling. Now, as the water sloshes back and forth, the venturi effect sucks water down out of the middle arm, pulling it below the equilibrium level. Even though “anthropogenic” water (cue the toilet jokes) is added in the middle arm, which continues to act as a sink for it, the level in that arm (aka the atmosphere) can remain below its equilibrium level indefinitely.

    Now, I’m not saying that the real world CO2 “equilibrium” is like either of those models (I think it much more likely that CO2 sources do keep the atmospheric concentration somewhat above the equilibrium level, at least for most of the time); but in principle, it could be. One cannot rule it out by appeal to the mass balance, or some nonexistent pre-industrial constancy.

    “But it happens that the whole CO2 cycle behaves as a simple, quite linear system for temperature changes, despite that a lot of underlying processes are far from linear.”

    This is an extremely bold assumption. One that both the historical records and the known physics show to be quite unlikely. Temperature dependences of solubility and chemical equilibria are typically exponential. Absorption by reservoirs is quadratic (because reservoirs integrate rates). Weather is violently chaotic. And so forth. How important the nonlinearities may be is an open question; it cannot simply be hand-waved away.

  327. Thank you for the reply.
    I also mentioned forestry.
    As for the volcanoes, I can only assume you are referring to Gerlath et al, a paper written in 1992. We hear that when Eyjafjallajokull was active, it was pumping 200-300,000tons of CO2 into the atmosphere daily, a rate of 50megatons per year. Kind of puts the 80-200megatons indicated in that paper into perspective, i.e. most likely wrong.
    I would have thought we would have quantified this a lot better, before making the assertion that it is all man’s fault, as these sources have a direct effect on the Mass Balance Equation.
    As for the New Scientist, I know they use what I call the scary figures, but I made the conversion into GTC before posting my comment.
    440GTCO2 = 120GTC
    330GTCO2 = 90GTC
    26.4GTCO2 = 7.2GTC

  328. CodeTech says:
    August 7, 2010 at 2:31 am

    I don’t like circular logic, just as I never liked when my parents said “because I said so”. There is nothing here that is anything BUT circular logic. The idea that “the mechanism doesn’t matter, only the results do” is wrong.

    The results, only based on the assumption of the conservation of mass, show that, whatever the underlying mechanisms, nature is a net sink for CO2. That makes that the increase is fully attributable to the emissions. Nothing circular here.

    In all seriousness, I expected this post to be a rationalization of the method used to determine that CO2 increase is man made, and I was willing to listen. Instead I find that it is nothing of the sort. If this is the definition of a basic tenet of AGW theory, then this post has, to me, confirmed the error of AGW theory.

    The law of conservation of mass is one of the fundaments of chemistry. Any alternative explanation of the increase in CO2 of the atmosphere will violate this law.

    If this was a debate, clearly it was won by Richard S Courtney, although it was obviously not a debate. In fact, I’d like to see a guest post by Mr. Courtney explaining why CO2 increase is NOT man made. Any chance of that?

    I am waiting several years now for such an alternative explanation by Richard’s companions which doesn’t violate one or more of the observations…

  329. Paul Hanlon: Volcanic emission do indeed have an effect on the mass balance equation

    dC = E_anthropogenic + E_natural – U_natural

    volcanic emissions are part of E_natural, and so are properly included in the argument.

    As to Eyjafjallajokull, if it is producing 50 megatons of carbon per year (assuming that figure is correct, I am happy to take your word for it), the if anthropogenic emissions are 5.5 gigatons of carbon per year (and that is the rather dated figure from Fig 1), then it is prducing only a tiny fraction (less than 1%) of the amount of carbon that anthropogenic emissions are, which is why volcanic emissions don’t leave a visible blip in the annual increase in atmospheric CO2. How many volcanos the size of Eyjafjallajokull erupt every year? Not many, which is why volcanos are not a big player. If you have a reference that gives higher estimates, then I’d be keen to read it.

  330. by the way, if the figure for Eyjafjallajokull is 50 megatons per year of CO2, then that is only about (IIRC) 50/2.35 megatons of carbon, so it is an even smaller fraction of anthropogenic emissions than the 1% figure in my previous post.

  331. Paul Hanlon says:
    August 7, 2010 at 5:30 am

    I also mentioned forestry.
    As far as I know, the destruction of forests still is far larger than reforestration…

    As for the volcanoes, I can only assume you are referring to Gerlath et al, a paper written in 1992. We hear that when Eyjafjallajokull was active, it was pumping 200-300,000tons of CO2 into the atmosphere daily, a rate of 50megatons per year. Kind of puts the 80-200megatons indicated in that paper into perspective, i.e. most likely wrong.
    I would have thought we would have quantified this a lot better, before making the assertion that it is all man’s fault, as these sources have a direct effect on the Mass Balance Equation.

    The volcano emissions don’t play much role, as long as there is not an enormous increase in activity. Even the CO2 increase from the Pinatubo eruption, which was a category or two more violent than the Eyjafjallajokull, wasn’t measurable in one of the stations, to the contrary: the temperature drop and increased photosynthesis reduced CO2 levels. The latter seems contradictory, but a lot of leaves in the shadow of other leaves for direct sunlight profit from the scattering of incoming light by the small particles brought into the stratosphere…

    The main reason for not including all these contributions is that these are highly uncertain and small compared to the human emissions…

  332. Dikran Marsupial,

    There are more than 3 million active undersea volcanoes. We know little about their effects or emissions.

    You asked for a reference. I have more if you’re interested.

    It appears that there are many more active undersea volcanoes than land-based volcanoes, based on equivalent areas. We don’t know the reason for this, all we have are observations.

  333. Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
    August 6, 2010 at 3:14 pm
    Paul Birch says: “Lo and behold, you notice that over the years, the level of water in the drain seems to have been increasing. Even so, year on year, the drain is a net sink – more effluent goes down it to the lake than remains in the drain. Did your factory cause the rise? No. It just so happens that a succession of wet years has been gradually raising the level of the lake. The cause is wholly natural.”
    Ferdinand says: “If the increase in the drain is less than what can be calculated from the increased production outflow, then there can’t be a natural increase in the lake. If there was a natural increase in the lake, the increase in the drain would be larger than calculated from the increased production.”

    What!!!!! Are you nuts? I’ve told you where the increase in the lake came from – a succession of wet years. Natural rainfall. The outflow from the factory is negligible in relation to the size of the lake reservoir. Are you really trying to claim (“there can’t be a natural increase in the lake”) that once you build a factory on the shores of a lake, it can no longer rise and fall due to changes in the weather!!!? Get real!

  334. Paul Birch says:
    August 7, 2010 at 5:54 am

    What!!!!! Are you nuts? I’ve told you where the increase in the lake came from – a succession of wet years. Natural rainfall. The outflow from the factory is negligible in relation to the size of the lake reservoir. Are you really trying to claim (“there can’t be a natural increase in the lake”) that once you build a factory on the shores of a lake, it can no longer rise and fall due to changes in the weather!!!? Get real!

    You are misinterpreting my words…
    – If there is an increase in the lake and an increase in outflow of the factory, then the increase in the drain would be larger than calculated from the increase in outflow of the factory.
    – If the you measure an increase in the drain that is larger than calculated from the outflow, then you can be sure that the level in the lake has increased and the increase in the drain is directly related to the increase in outflow + the increase of the lake.
    – If the you measure an increase in the drain that is less than calculated from the outflow, then you can be sure that the level in the lake has decreased, and the increase in the drain is solely caused by the increase in outflow of the factory.

    In other words, the interpretation of the level in the drain depends of the difference between what is expected from the outflow of the factory and what is observed, even without any knowledge of the level in the lake.

    That is a good analogy with the cause of the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere: as the increase is less than expected (less than the emissions), the cause of the increase is solely the emissions and the other reservoirs have absorbed the difference.

  335. Smokey

    “There are more than 3 million active undersea volcanoes. We know little about their effects or emissions. ”

    There is nothing in the link you gave that suggests how many of those are active (Oceanic plate is constantly being created at the mid-ocean ridges and then moves outwards, so it seems perfectly reasonable to suggest that over time they move away from the magma that originally caused them and become extinct. This is not the case for land-based volcanos as they normally form where the oceanic plates subduct beneath the continental crust, so the magama generating process is likely to be more stable).

    However, that is irrellevant to the mass balance argument as the mass balance argument only tells you the difference between total environmental emissions and total environmental uptake. Volcanic emissions, whether on land or oceanic as part of total emissions, and so are included in the argument regardless of what they are actually doing.

    “You asked for a reference. I have more if you’re interested.”

    thanks for the link, I’ll give it a read, but as I said, it has no bearing on the validity of the mass balance argument as the mass balance argument infers the net environmental flux from the difference between the annual rise and anthropogenic emissions, it doesn’t infer it from knowledge of fluxes from individual sources or sinks.

    “It appears that there are many more active undersea volcanoes than land-based volcanoes, based on equivalent areas. We don’t know the reason for this, all we have are observations.”

    Yes, however the observations show that total environmental emissions have been consistently less than environmental uptake, at least for the last fift years. Whether we know the reason for that or not, we do have those observations.

  336. Paul Birch [said] “What!!!!! Are you nuts? I’ve told you where the increase in the lake came from – a succession of wet years. Natural rainfall.”

    If that were the case, the mass balance argument would confirm it as the rise in the lake would be greater than the amount of effluent.

    “The outflow from the factory is negligible in relation to the size of the lake reservoir.”

    However, if your analogy with the carbon cycle is realistic, the outflow from the factory is not negligible compared with the rise in the level of the lake (in fact the volume is about twice as large). The mass balance argument gives

    [net effect of everything other than factory outflow] = [change in volume of lake] – [factory outflow]

    so the uncertainty in estimating [net effect of everything other than factory outflow] depend on the uncertainty in measuring the [change of volume of lake] and [factory outflow]. It doesn’t matter if factory outflow is very small compared to other sources as the mass balance argument does not rely on assumptions about those sources, it only relies on two items that can be measured with good certainty, namely anthropogenic emissions and the annual increase in atmospheric CO2.

  337. Smokey says:
    August 7, 2010 at 5:54 am

    The British Geological Survey produced a report on both terrestrial and sub-sea volcanic activity here:

    http://www.bgs.ac.uk/downloads/start.cfm?id=432

    Figure 2 page 5 gives a summary diagram of the various volcanic sources of CO2.

    One interesting suggestion is that even though sub-sea volcanoes emit CO2, the hydrothermal weathering of the lavas that they also extrude absorbs a similar amount of CO2. Hence their net contribution has “little effect on atmospheric CO2 budget at the present day.”

    Volcanoes are NOT a significant source of atmospheric CO2, their contribution is less than 1% that of human emissions.

  338. I have to wonder what Ferdinand & Co think they mean by saying “the CO2 increase is man made”. When they can seriously attribute a rise in lake levels to a boy’s peeing in it, arguing with them is like … er… peeing into the ocean!

    What any normal scientist or English speaker would understand by the claim is
    1) CO2 levels would not have increased if man had not emitted this CO2.
    It doesn’t necessarily imply they would have stayed the same – they could have fallen – but if they would have risen at all then we could only say “part of the CO2 increase is man-made”.

    Ferdinand & Co, with their insistence that what would have happened to other components of the mass balance is irrelevant, do not seem to give their claim this standard meaning.

    Another possible interpretation is:
    2) Most of the extra CO2 molecules in the air are the ones put there by man.

    But they don’t seem to mean this either – correctly pointing out that since there has been interchange with other reservoirs this isn’t actually true, and arguing that the precise origin of particular molecule doesn’t matter, only the net bulk quantities.

    We seem to be left with the residual “meaning”:
    3) CO2 levels have risen by no more than the amount of CO2 man has added to the atmosphere.

    Yet they flatly deny that this is all they mean. And indeed, if that were all they meant, the original claim would have been pretty pointless; why not just say (3) straight out?

    So I’m left with a claim completely empty of meaning. I have no idea what they think they mean. (This isn’t quite true; I suspect they did mean (1) at the beginning, but because their argument has been soundly debunked, are now resorting to endless sophistries to avoid admitting it, even to themselves) . So I challenge them to state, clearly and categorically, what the statement means to them.

  339. Lets try a more straightforward analogy. Consider a bath with a cold tap (representing anthropogenic carbon emissions), a hot tap (representing natural carbon emissions) and a drain (representing natural carbon uptake). The volume of water in the bath represents total atmospheric carbon. Conservation of mass means that:

    [change in volume] = [input from cold tap] + [input from hot tap] – [output from drain]

    I’m sure we can all agree on that (as it is a statement of the bleedin obvious! ;o)

    Say we measure the level of water in the bath, if we also know the dimensions of the bath, we can easily work out the change in volume (atmospheric CO2). Say we also measure the input from the cold tap (anthropogenic CO2) then we can work out that

    [input from hot tap] – [output from drain] = [change in volume] – [input from cold tap]

    So we don’t know how much water is flowing in from the hot tap, or flowing out through the drain, but we do know if the change in volume is less than the input from the cold tap then the input from the hot tap must also be less than the output from the drain. Yes, the mass balance argument is that simple. Does it make any assumptions about the input from the hot tap of the amount going through the drain? No. Does it make any assumptions about equilibrium states? No. Does it make any assumptions about why the amount coming in from the hot tap or out through the drain changes? No.

    Now you could argue that the carbon cycle is more complex and has many natural sources and sinks. Fine, add as many hot taps and drains of differing capacity as you like. The equation then becomes:

    [input from hot tap 1] + [input from hot tap 2] + … + [input from hot tap n] – [output from drain 1] – [output from drain 2] – … – [output from drain m] = [net effect of hot taps and drains] = [change in volume] – [input from cold tap]

    The mass balance argument still works, whatever is flowing in through the hot taps and out through the drains, we can still work out the net difference between the two if we know the change of volume and the input from the cold tap (and assume conservation of mass).

  340. I’ve been following the debate here with interest, partly because I find it hard to interpret the available empirical data in any way other than that the modern rise in CO2 levels is anything other than the result of anthropogenic inputs. I’m absolutely certain that the logic of Ferdinand’s and Dikran’s argument is correct.

    In essence we have a single reservoir (atmosphere) with a large number of inputs and outputs. We know one of these inputs with a degree of precision (anthropogenic) and the size of the reservoir. If the reservoir grows at a rate less than that predicted by the known anthropogenic input then the sum of the unknown natural inputs and outputs must be negative i.e. outputs are greater than the inputs. ergo the rise in CO2 level is due to the anthropogenic contribution.

    However, this is not the only evidence that the rise in CO2 levels is due to the burning of fossil fuels. There is also the isotope composition of atmospheric CO2 and the relationship between oxygen and CO2 in the atmosphere that is controlled by the stoicihiometry of fossil fuel combustion, photosynthesis and dissolution in the ocean.

    The anthropogenic inventory fits well with all these observations. At some point we should apply Occam’s razor and concede that the rise in CO2 is the result of anthropogenic activity.

  341. Ferdinand Engelbeens analysis is unrealistic and faulty because the mass balance misses some important sources: geologic degassing submarine and on continents which have not been listed in Fig 1 and are known to about 5%. The real whole flows of CO2 you can see here: http://www.biomind.de/realCO2/ in the middle of the page.

    We have about 750 +- 5 GT C in the air, that means calculation with amounts of 4 GT is within error range.

    Furthermore enriching of the tiny fraction of anthropogenic CO2 compared to natural contradicts to the laws of balance (Le Chatelier). This tiny amount of human CO2 is completely absorbed by plants and especially the oceans (71% of the earth´s surface).

    Oceans are the largest sinks and sources of CO2 and they are by far not satured. Dont´t be fooled by 13C data. They confused the issue with phytoplankton which have about the same 13C values.

    The cause of actual CO2 rising is clearly the sea controlled by temperature.
    Warm oceans since 1950 have released more CO2.
    Please look at this very good correlation of SST (Sea surface temperatures) and background CO2. (correlation r= 0,719, time lag of CO2 1 year behind SST since 1870):
    The graph is here:

    http://www.biomind.de/realCO2/bilder/CO2-MBL-SST.pdf

    When the oceans will cool next years the air temperature will drop and the CO2 too.

  342. Paul Birch: It is perfectly simple. The mass balance argument shows that the net environmental flux is negative, i.e. the natural environment is a net sink, it has taken more CO2 out of the atmosphere than it has emitted over the last fifty years. This means it has OPPOSED the rise, not caused it. It is irrelevant what the environment MIGHT have done if not for anthropogenic emissions, we know that what it HAS DONE in reaction to anthropogenic emissions is OPPOSE THE RISE.

    As the natural environment has taken more CO2 out of the atmosphere than it has put in, then it is perverse to argue that the rise in CO2 is natural.

    Man on the other hand has added more CO2 to the atmosphere than we have taken out. We are therefore certainly A cause of the rise.

    As the natural environment has OPPOSED the rise, it cannot be a cause of the rise. As there is nothing other than us and the natural environment, and the natural environment is not a cause, then we must be the ONLY cause.

    Sorry about the SHOUTING, but patient explanation doesn’t seem to be working with some.

  343. Paul Birch whote:

    “We seem to be left with the residual “meaning”:
    3) CO2 levels have risen by no more than the amount of CO2 man has added to the atmosphere.

    Yet they flatly deny that this is all they mean. And indeed, if that were all they meant, the original claim would have been pretty pointless; why not just say (3) straight out?”

    You are missing the point (for which there no real excuse as it has been stated repeatedly and explicitly) the CONSEQUENCE of the rise being LESS than anthropogenic emissions is that the natural envionment MUST be a net sink and hence OPPOSING rather that CAUSING the observed rise. If it isn’t the natural environment, the only remaining cause is US.

    If you ignore part of the argument is it unsurprising you don’t understand it.

  344. CodeTech:

    Thankyou for your kind comments at August 7, 2010 at 2:31 am.

    Please be assured that I have not “ignored” your posts that I have read with interest. But I saw no reason for me to comment on them.

    And if my input to this discussion has included anything that has interested you, then I am gratified.

    Your post concludes by asking:

    “In fact, I’d like to see a guest post by Mr. Courtney explaining why CO2 increase is NOT man made. Any chance of that?”

    Sorry, but I will not do that although I would be willing to provide a post that explains why it cannot be known if the CO2 increase is (or is not) man-made in part or in whole. This is because, as I said to Ferdinand in my first post above (at August 5, 2010 at 5:20 pm):

    “I do not know if the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration is natural or anthropogenic in part or in whole, but I want to know. And I regret that your assumptions and assertions add nothing to available knowledge concerning what I want to know.”

    And nothing in this discussion has changed my view from that one jot. Indeed, the excuses for Ferdinand’s logical errors keep growing in number as this discussion continues, so I see little point I my continuing to participate in this discussion of his article.

    Richard

  345. Paul Birch says:
    August 7, 2010 at 6:54 am

    I have to wonder what Ferdinand & Co think they mean by saying “the CO2 increase is man made”.

    What any normal scientist or English speaker would understand by the claim is

    Depends what you mean by a “scientist”, and English is not my native language (it’s Flemish/Dutch), but I can speak and write it, together with speaking and understanding French, German, and some Spanish and Norwegian…

    1) CO2 levels would not have increased if man had not emitted this CO2.
    It doesn’t necessarily imply they would have stayed the same – they could have fallen – but if they would have risen at all then we could only say “part of the CO2 increase is man-made”.

    Agreed on the first part, disagreed on the second part:
    CO2 levels would not have increased if man had not emitted this CO2. That is at least true for the past 50+ years and highly probable for the past 100+ years. Besides a small contribution (about 8 ppmv) from the temperature rise since the LIA, all of the increase is man-made.

    Another possible interpretation is:
    2) Most of the extra CO2 molecules in the air are the ones put there by man.

    No, the increase is caused by the addition in CO2 mass from human emissions, but the origin of the molecules in the atmosphere after a year of exchanges is already different, that is irrelevant for the total amount of CO2.

    We seem to be left with the residual “meaning”:
    3) CO2 levels have risen by no more than the amount of CO2 man has added to the atmosphere.

    No. That is flatly contradicted by the mass balance: CO2 levels have risen less than the amount of CO2 man has added to the atmosphere. And that is what makes that our interpretation of 1) is true.

    but because their argument has been soundly debunked

    I don’t have that impression…

  346. “In this case, the pH doesn’t change while the total amount of carbon still increases, which means that the pH effect of more CO2 is compensated by something else.”

    No: The free CO2 ions in the ocean are in euqili brium with CO2 in bicarbonateas well as all other CO2-substances in the ocean . anything else would agains the laws of nature.

    Therefore, the constant pCO2 level (meanoing constant concentration of free CO2 ions!) does NOT point to a rising CO2 content in oceans anymore, something happened a decade ago:

    Its true that COw2 in the atmosphere is still rising, but for how long when the oceanic CO2 concentration has stooped rising?

    Richard S Courney and Ernst Beck: Thanks for your great effort.

    Ernst: I have used some of your superbe and important findings here:

    http://hidethedecline.eu/pages/posts/co2-carbon-dioxide-concentration-history-of-71.php

    I try to focus on the very best pieces of evidence available, and if you have some new pieces of evidence i would very much like to add these.

    K.R. Frank

  347. Dikran Marsupial:

    I have given up serious contribution to this discussion because you and Ferdinand persist in your logical errors regardless of how many times or in how many ways they are explained to you. So, in this circumstance, it is a waste of time continuing to discuss with you.

    But I write to refute a misrepresentation of my words that you provide in your post at August 7, 2010 at 2:40 am where you assert:

    “The mass balance argument does not assume that a change in input will automatically be reflected in a change in the output. The only assumption it makes (regardless of what Richard S. Courtney and others keep asserting) is that any carbon entering the box representing the atmopshere that doesn’t leave the box, stays in the box. In other words, there is conservation of matter.”

    No!
    I do NOT dispute that “any carbon entering the box representing the atmosphere that doesn’t leave the box, stays in the box”! And you cannot cite or quote any occasion when I have disputed it because I never have.

    I dispute your assertion that the only input to the “box” that affects the mass
    balance is the anthropogenic emission because – you assume – the carbon cycle is invariate. But I keep pointing out that THE NATURAL INPUTS AND OUTPUTS TO THE “BOX” VARY BY UNKNOWN AMOUNTS, so the mass balance argument is complete bunkum.

    Richard

  348. Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
    August 5, 2010 at 11:16 am
    Jim G says:
    August 5, 2010 at 9:22 am

    “Models vs measurement again. This is a large planet and lord knows what CO2 might be spewing out in the 67% that is covered by water and I did not see any measurement devices in the plumes when Pinatubo or Mt St Helens went off.

    No model at all in this case: fossil fuel sales inventory vs. measured CO2 increase in the atmosphere. Simple straight-forward calculation. And the Pinatubo emitted some more CO2, but also cooled the oceans by reflecting sunlight away, which caused more CO2 absorption and thus less CO2 increase than in warmer years…”

    Call it a guesstimate then, a poor model, since no one has measured all of the possible (unknown) sources of CO2 and their levels of production given all of the exogenous intercorrelated variables involved in CO2 production, and addition to, and removal from the atmosphere. And again, there is still the leap to causality that is involved in most of the climate “science” I see. Too many variables, too many unknowns for so many people to be certain regarding man as the source of CO2 increase.

  349. Ferdinand:

    I write to provide a clarfication.

    At August 7, 2010 at 4:41 am you assert:

    “The fast equilibrium is only for the upper ocean layer, which follows the atmospherice increase with about 10% increase in mass for a 100% increase in the atmosphere. The 40 years equilibrium I suppose is for thermal (dis)equilibrium, not for CO2.”

    Sorry, but that is incorrect.

    Although it is true for a global temperature fluctuation lasting only a few years , it is not true for a long-term global temperature change that happens over decades.

    A short term temperature fluctuation (e.g. seasonal or ENSO) only induces CO2 exchange between ocean surface layer and the air. So, the limiting exchange rate is that between air and ocean surface. And (as e.g. your Figure 2 shows) that rate is so fast that it responds to a equilibrium change (induced by a temperature change) almost instantly (i.e. within weeks).

    But a long-term temperature rise depletes the CO2 in the ocean surface layer. So, in this case, the limiting exchange rate is between the ocean surface layer and deep ocean. And this exchange rate is very slow so establishing the equilibrium for a long-term temperature rise takes decades.

    This is merely one example of why your mass balance is wrong. It assumes the amount of CO2 exchanged seasonally between air and ocean surface is a constant, but it is not: the amount varies over decades as CO2 is transferred between the ocean surface layer and deep ocean in response to changing global temperature affecting the equilibrium state of the entire system.

    Richard

  350. Ferdinand Engelbeen is not making the assumption that the natural fluxes are invariant. He is merely pointing out that the rise in atmospheric CO2 levels is less than the anthropogenic flux to the atmosphere. The only solution under these conditions is that the rise is caused by the antropogenic flux. It so happens that about 50% of this flux is partitioned into the oceans and the terrestrial biosphere, with 50% remaining in the atmosphere.

  351. Ernst Beck says:
    August 7, 2010 at 7:29 am

    Ferdinand Engelbeens analysis is unrealistic and faulty because the mass balance misses some important sources: geologic degassing submarine and on continents which have not been listed in Fig 1 and are known to about 5%. The real whole flows of CO2 you can see here: http://www.biomind.de/realCO2/ in the middle of the page.

    I didn’t use the mass balance of figure 1, as the flux estimates are far from perfect and irrelevant for the mass balance, as long as the emissions are larger than the observed increase in the atmosphere.

    We have about 750 +- 5 GT C in the air, that means calculation with amounts of 4 GT is within error range.

    Maybe a problem for one year, but the increase is already over 200 GtC, far beyond any error range.

    Oceans are the largest sinks and sources of CO2 and they are by far not saturated.
    The upper ocean layer is certainly saturated and only by increasing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, or cooler oceans, one can push more CO2 into the oceans (and reverse for warmer oceans or less CO2 in the atmosphere).

    The cause of actual CO2 rising is clearly the sea controlled by temperature.
    Warm oceans since 1950 have released more CO2.
    Please look at this very good correlation of SST (Sea surface temperatures) and background CO2. (correlation r= 0,719, time lag of CO2 1 year behind SST since 1870)

    If there was only a one year lag between temperature and CO2 levels, how is it possible that there is a near continuous increase of CO2 in the past decade, while temperatures were near flat? And we differ in opinion about what is “background” CO2 in this case.

    When the oceans will cool next years the air temperature will drop and the CO2 too.
    If the emissions go on as usual, I wouldn’t hold my breath in waiting for that drop in CO2…

  352. Ferdinand:

    I object to you posting personal lies as a bolster to your assertions!

    At August 7, 2010 at 5:30 am you say:
    “I am waiting several years now for such an alternative explanation by Richard’s companions which doesn’t violate one or more of the observations…”

    That is a demonstrable lie! You have had several such examples from me. Indeed, I provided one in my post to this thread at August 6, 2010 at 6:38 am.

    Your errors are forgiveable. But your posting a demonstrable lie is not.

    Richard

  353. Frank Lansner says:
    August 7, 2010 at 8:01 am

    Ferdinand:
    “In this case, the pH doesn’t change while the total amount of carbon still increases, which means that the pH effect of more CO2 is compensated by something else.”

    No: The free CO2 ions in the ocean are in euqili brium with CO2 in bicarbonateas well as all other CO2-substances in the ocean . anything else would agains the laws of nature.

    Therefore, the constant pCO2 level (meanoing constant concentration of free CO2 ions!) does NOT point to a rising CO2 content in oceans anymore, something happened a decade ago

    The free CO2 indeed is in equilibrium with carbonate and bicarbonate ions, but the equilibrium shifts if one of the components (like pH) changes. In this case pH and pCO2 are near constant in the past decade, while the total concentration of carbon (nDIC) still increased. Thus indeed, something happened 10 years ago, as the ratio free CO2 – bicarbonate – carbonate changed.

  354. Dikran Marsupial says:
    August 7, 2010 at 7:53 am
    “You are missing the point (for which there no real excuse as it has been stated repeatedly and explicitly) the CONSEQUENCE of the rise being LESS than anthropogenic emissions is that the natural envionment MUST be a net sink and hence OPPOSING rather that CAUSING the observed rise. If it isn’t the natural environment, the only remaining cause is US.”

    And you are missing the point (for which there is no real excuse as it has been stated repeatedly and explicitly) that the clause after “hence” does not follow from the antecedant clause. The “natural environment” is not a single entity doing only one thing at a time. The rise is happening in one part of the environment (the atmosphere); other parts of the environment are removing CO2 from the atmosphere; still others are adding to it. The cause of the rise could be in any or some or all of those parts (of which the anthropogenic part is just one). Look at it yet another way. Humans are part of nature; it would be just as valid (and just as invalid) to lump the anthropogenic emissions in with the “natural environment”, and using the same logic ascribe the rise to tectonic activity, or bacterial decay, or anything else that, singly or in combination, has a sufficient magnitude.

    Please answer my question, which I think may be crucial to this whole misunderstanding: what do you mean by “the CO2 is man made”? Give a clear definition or restatement of that phrase in other words.

  355. Richard S Courtney said:

    ““The mass balance argument does not assume that a change in input will automatically be reflected in a change in the output. The only assumption it makes (regardless of what Richard S. Courtney and others keep asserting) is that any carbon entering the box representing the atmopshere that doesn’t leave the box, stays in the box. In other words, there is conservation of matter.”

    No!
    I do NOT dispute that “any carbon entering the box representing the atmosphere that doesn’t leave the box, stays in the box”! And you cannot cite or quote any occasion when I have disputed it because I never have.”

    I think you have misread the paragraph that you have just quoted. In it I assert that the mass balance argument makes only one assumption (namely conservation of mass), but that others (including yourself) have asserted that it involves other assertions as well. This does not in any way imply that you dispute mass balance (that would be absurd). The structure of the sentence as written makes that perfectly clear.

    Your own reply demonstrates that you do assert there are other assumptions (as I said). If we both agree that the assumption of conservation of mass is valid, then the invalid assumptions you mentioned in earlier posts must be something else.

    Now you appear to have got a bit hot under the collar. I would greatly prefer it if the discussion could be conducted without accusations of dishonesty etc. It does nobody any good, and is not the way a scientific discussion should be conducted.

    Now I have explained why conservation of mass is the only assumption made by the mass balance argument. It is now down to you to demosntrate the step in the chain of reasoning where these additional invalid assumtions that you have mentioned are implicitly introduced. If you want to discuss it in an even tempered manner, I would be happy to participate.

  356. Thanks for answer Ferdinand.

    What CO2-compound is included in nDIC besides the carbonates that are in equilibrium with Co2? We are talking about upper ocean layers and thus carbonates sedimenting is not in question.

    By the way: I really agre with Ernst Beck that his later collected data strongly suggests higher Co2 levels around 1940:

    http://hidethedecline.eu/pages/posts/co2-carbon-dioxide-concentration-history-of-71.php

    I mention this again (and again) because a higher CO2 level before human emissions accelerated appears to be a problem for your point of views.

    Beck did some rather “fresh” conclusions in the beginning, so ever since this has haunted Becks newer material no matter how strong his newer material is. I think its time we reconsidder CO2 levels around 1940.

    K.R. Frank Lansner

  357. Paul Birch: If we are trying to find out if the rise is natural or man made (or both), then the natural environment can be treated as being a single entity. That is obvious from the form of the mass balance argument.

    If the natural environment as a whole is a net sink, then it isn’t the cause of the rise, as even if some part of it is emitting more than it takes in, there is some other part of it that more than compensates.

    The rise being man made means that:

    (i) man is a net source of CO2 to the atmosphere (establishing it as A cause of the rise)

    (ii) the natural environment (as a whole) is a net sink, and has opposed the rise (establishing that it is not a cause of the rise)

    (iii) as there is only us and the natural environment (as a whole), we must be the only cause of the rise.

    (i) is obvious, (ii) is established by the mass balance argument (iii) is an obvious corollary of (i) and (ii).

  358. Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
    August 7, 2010 at 7:56 am
    Paul Birch says: “I have to wonder what Ferdinand & Co think they mean by saying “the CO2 increase is man made”.
    What any normal scientist or English speaker would understand by the claim is:”

    Ferdinand says: “Depends what you mean by a “scientist”, and English is not my native language (it’s Flemish/Dutch)…”

    Which is why I am prepared to allow that you might not quite understand the wording you’re using, so I am asking for clarification on what you think you mean, as distinct from what the English actually means.

    Paul: “1) CO2 levels would not have increased if man had not emitted this CO2.
    It doesn’t necessarily imply they would have stayed the same – they could have fallen – but if they would have risen at all then we could only say “part of the CO2 increase is man-made”.”

    Ferdinand: “Agreed on the first part, disagreed on the second part:
    CO2 levels would not have increased if man had not emitted this CO2. That is at least true for the past 50+ years and highly probable for the past 100+ years. Besides a small contribution (about 8 ppmv) from the temperature rise since the LIA, all of the increase is man-made.”

    Well, I don’t quite know what you mean by “disagreed on the second part”, but you appear to be have switched back to arguing about the empirical facts, not what the phrase means. Do you in fact understand what “would” and “could” mean in English, that they describe conditionals, counterfactuals or hypotheticals? If you haven’t realised this, it may be one of the sources of the confusion.

    Notwithstanding this question, you do now seem to be re-affirming that by “the CO2 increase is man made” you do mean (1) “CO2 levels would not have increased if man had not emitted this CO2″. If so, that’s absolutely fine.

    But in that case your mass balance argument is totally invalid as a means of proving it, because there is no way it can answer the question of what would have happened in different circumstances. What would have happened matters – and needs to be proved before you can assign causation.

    Paul: “3) CO2 levels have risen by no more than the amount of CO2 man has added to the atmosphere.”

    Ferdinand: “No. That is flatly contradicted by the mass balance: CO2 levels have risen less than the amount of CO2 man has added to the atmosphere. And that is what makes that our interpretation of 1) is true.”

    Once again, it seems your knowledge of either English or logic is letting you down. There is no contradiction between these two statements. Your statement “levels have risen less” is included in mine “levels have risen no more”. If you wish to exclude the equality “levels have risen neither more nor less” from your argument, that’s a more stringent requirement, but it’s up to you: are you now saying that if the level had been rising at a rate equal to that at which man has been adding CO2 the increase would not be man made?

  359. Richard S. Courtney: wrote

    “I dispute your assertion that the only input to the “box” that effects the mass
    balance is the anthropogenic emission because – you assume – the carbon cycle is invariate. But I keep pointing out that THE NATURAL INPUTS AND OUTPUTS TO THE “BOX” VARY BY UNKNOWN AMOUNTS, so the mass balance argument is complete bunkum.”

    Yes, exactly what I said, you assert that I have made assumptions other than conservation of mass.

    The mass balance argument does not assume that the carbon cycle is invariate, of course natural sources and sinks vary and the actual fluxes are very uncertain. I have pointed out that the mass balance argument does not depend on the value of these fluxes. I’ll explain again. We agree about conservation of mass, so I assume you agree that

    dC = E_anthropogenic + E_natural – U_natural

    where dC is the change in atmospheric CO2, E_anthropogenic is anthropogenic emissions (assuming anthropogenic uptake is negligible), E_natural is total natural emissions (all natural sources – including subsea volcanos) and U_natural is total natural uptake.

    A simple rearrangement gives:

    E_natural – U_natural = dC – E_anthropogenic

    so if you know dC and E_anthropogenic, you can work out (E_Natural – U_natural).

    We have not assumed anything about E_natural or U_natural, not even that they are constant. All we are doing is indferring this net natural flux (over the observation period) from two quantities that we can measure with good accuracy.

    This demonstrates that your claim that I assume the carbon cycle is invariate is not correct. We don’t need to know anything about the magnitude of the natural fluxes, we are only interested in the net flux, and you can work that out with a bit simple algebra, using one assumption – conservation of mass.

  360. Paul Dennis says:
    “Ferdinand Engelbeen is not making the assumption that the natural fluxes are invariant. He is merely pointing out that the rise in atmospheric CO2 levels is less than the anthropogenic flux to the atmosphere. The only solution under these conditions is that the rise is caused by the antropogenic flux. It so happens that about 50% of this flux is partitioned into the oceans and the terrestrial biosphere, with 50% remaining in the atmosphere.”

    yes, spot on.

  361. Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
    August 7, 2010 at 9:00 am

    quote
    Oceans are the largest sinks and sources of CO2 and they are by far not saturated.
    The upper ocean layer is certainly saturated and only by increasing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, or cooler oceans, one can push more CO2 into the oceans (and reverse for warmer oceans or less CO2 in the atmosphere).
    unquote

    The only paper I’ve seen that claims that the ocean upper layer is saturated did its research in shallow waters where wave action might be expected to make the atmosphere and water well mixed. It also had caveats about the measurements being difficult .

    Maybe we have slowed the ocean’s uptake and are now moving to a higher partial pressure of CO2 in the atmosphere to counter our restriction.

    Ferdinand, I know you like correlations — could you have a look at the size of the petro-chemical industry vs the CO2 increases? It’s something I’ve wondered about.

    JF

  362. Frank Lansner says:
    August 7, 2010 at 10:33 am

    quote
    We are talking about upper ocean layers and thus carbonates sedimenting is not in question.
    unquote

    Google Emiliania huxleyi for a counter example. This produces calcium carbonate in such quantities that the blooms show up from space as vast milky plumes.

    JF

  363. Dikran Marsupial says:
    August 7, 2010 at 10:35 am
    “If we are trying to find out if the rise is natural or man made (or both), then the natural environment can be treated as being a single entity. That is obvious from the form of the mass balance argument. If the natural environment as a whole is a net sink, then it isn’t the cause of the rise, ”

    The natural environment cannot be treated as a single entity because it isn’t one. This is one of the things that is fundamentally wrong with the whole mass balance argument: it has many degrees of freedom, not just the one. You cannot legitimately say that the “natural environment as a whole” is the cause of the rise unless you include the whole of the natural environment, including man, who is also part of nature. The natural environment as a whole is not a net carbon sink, because the amount of carbon in the natural environment as a whole is neither increasing nor decreasing (transmutation nof elements excluded). It isn’t even true that the natural environment minus man is a net sink, because man can only add carbon to the natural-environment-minus-man by first removing that carbon from the natural-environment-minus-man. In fact, since the number of humans is increasing, and humans contain carbon, the natural-environment-minus-man is a net source.

    You have ignored the specific points I made and repeat below. Please try to think about them:
    The “natural environment” is not a single entity doing only one thing at a time. The rise is happening in one part of the environment (the atmosphere); other parts of the environment are removing CO2 from the atmosphere; still others are adding to it. The cause of the rise could be in any or some or all of those parts (of which the anthropogenic part is just one). Look at it yet another way. Humans are part of nature; it would be just as valid (and just as invalid) to lump the anthropogenic emissions in with the “natural environment”, and using the same logic ascribe the rise to tectonic activity, or bacterial decay, or anything else that, singly or in combination, has a sufficient magnitude.

    You have also ducked out of answering my question of what you mean by “the CO2 is man made”. Please answer it. Give a clear definition or restatement of that phrase in other words.

  364. Let’s look at the numbers to get a feeling for the most significant factors in atmospheric CO2 levels.

    CO2 in air: 2 x 10^15 kg
    Change in CO2: 1 x 10^13 kg/yr (.5 %)
    Human CO2 production: 3 x 10^13 kg/yr (1.5%)
    (http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/ieo/highlights.html)

    HCO3 in mixed ocean: 2 x 10^13 kg (1%)
    (about 10% of the ocean volume mixes due to action of winds, down to 400m)

    Total biomass: 2 x 10^15 kg
    (Whittaker, R. H.; Likens, G. E. (1975). “The Biosphere and Man”, in Leith, H. & Whittaker, R. H.: Primary Productivity of the Biosphere. Springer-Verlag, 305-328)

    Biomass CO2 equiv: 7 x 10^14 kg (39%)
    (if you burned every living thing to CO2)

    Which factor do you think dominates? Remember, almost everything uses oxygen and emits CO2 (plants too).

    Consider this: In a warmer world, microbes will consume dead vegetation more effectively, converting cellulose and lignin to CO2. The soil exhales CO2. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decomposition)

    This biological response is consistent with the observations by Siegenthaler and others that CO2 levels in the atmosphere lag temperature change by 800 to 1200 years.
    (Siegenthaler, U., Stocker, T., Monnin, E., Luthi, D., Schwander, J., Stauffer, B., Raynaud, D., Barnola, J.-M., Fischer, H., Masson-Delmotte, V. and Jouzel, J. 2005. Stable carbon cycle-climate relationship during the late Pleistocene. Science 310: 1313-1317.)
    See also : http://www.co2science.org/articles/V8/N48/EDIT.php

    I have dealt with many physicists who think biology is a ‘soft’ science they can trivialize. Biology is a fantastic example of complex thermodynamics in action.

  365. Sorry Paul, the argument I put forward is whether the observed rise is attributable to man or to nature (i.e. everything other than man) or both. That is perfectly straightforward, and a perfectly reasonable question.

    The “humans are part of nature” line is transparent sophistry, you are basically saying that the rise is natural even if it is anthropogenic! It has also appeared in just about every discussion of the mass balance argument that I have encountered so far (so it isn’t even original). It usually pops up when it becomes clear to everybody concerned that the natural environment (as a whole) is a net sink and thus it is obvious that anthropogenic emissions are responsible.

  366. Julian Flood, you write:
    “Google Emiliania huxleyi for a counter example. This produces calcium carbonate in such quantities that the blooms show up from space as vast milky plumes.”

    Exactly, the biosphere is withdrawing CO2 still faster and thats why human emissions is likely to have only temperary effect.
    Already now we can see that for same temperature, the CO2 increase per year is falling significantly:

    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2008/12/17/the-co2-temperature-link/

    In the present discussion i show Ferdinand that pCO2 in oceans has actually stagnated in concentration:

    http://hidethedecline.eu/pages/posts/co2-carbon-dioxide-concentration-in-the-oceans-72.php

    The above illustration is from AR4 – however, IPCC forgot to tell that pCO2 appears stagnating. The indicator used by IPCC – pCO2 – Ferdinand Engelbeen believes cannot be used to indicate CO2 amount in upper ocean layors.
    pH has been constant or a decade too in oceans:

    http://hidethedecline.eu/pages/posts/ph-in-oceans-31.php

    So with no changes in pH one should expect pCO2 rise if human activity presently had larger impact on CO2 levels than the withdrawel of CO2 that you refer to.

    Finaly Engelbeen says that there is a lot of CO2 in the upper layers of the oceans that is not represented by the pCO2. But i this is calcium carbonate sedimenting out of the system, still the human influence is neutralized by natural factors.

    My point is not that humans dont add CO2 (of course) but that this human Co2 faster and faster is omitted by nature including a growing biosphere. If human CO2 is still faster assimilated by a growing biosphere, this changes the “problem” claimed as consequence of Co2.

    K.R. Frank

  367. - The stagnating pCO2 as indicator of CO2 amount in upper layers of the oceans is important because CO2 concentration is in equilibrium with most CO2-compounds still in the CO2 still in the returning pool of CO2. Carbonates sedimenting out are no longer easily returned to the Co2 pool and to some represents degree “lost” CO2. More sedimenting carbonates means less CO2 despite humans.

  368. Richard S Courtney says:
    August 7, 2010 at 8:52 am

    I write to provide a clarfication.

    At August 7, 2010 at 4:41 am you assert:

    “The fast equilibrium is only for the upper ocean layer, which follows the atmospherice increase with about 10% increase in mass for a 100% increase in the atmosphere. The 40 years equilibrium I suppose is for thermal (dis)equilibrium, not for CO2.”

    Sorry, but that is incorrect.

    Although it is true for a global temperature fluctuation lasting only a few years , it is not true for a long-term global temperature change that happens over decades.

    A short term temperature fluctuation (e.g. seasonal or ENSO) only induces CO2 exchange between ocean surface layer and the air. So, the limiting exchange rate is that between air and ocean surface. And (as e.g. your Figure 2 shows) that rate is so fast that it responds to a equilibrium change (induced by a temperature change) almost instantly (i.e. within weeks).

    But a long-term temperature rise depletes the CO2 in the ocean surface layer. So, in this case, the limiting exchange rate is between the ocean surface layer and deep ocean. And this exchange rate is very slow so establishing the equilibrium for a long-term temperature rise takes decades.

    OK, no problem with a longer response time for sustained temperature changes.

    This is merely one example of why your mass balance is wrong. It assumes the amount of CO2 exchanged seasonally between air and ocean surface is a constant, but it is not: the amount varies over decades as CO2 is transferred between the ocean surface layer and deep ocean in response to changing global temperature affecting the equilibrium state of the entire system.

    Richard, you are assuming points which never were said or implied: the seasonal changes play only play a role in the total mass balance, if there is an unbalance. If there is an unbalance within one year or over several years, due to any probable cause, that would show up in the residuals at the end of each year. But the residuals, including their variability, were negative over at least the past 50 years. Thus whatever caused the variability in the uptake of CO2, that was not strong enough to make that the natural flows were adding any net amount of CO2 to the atmosphere.

    Further the long term influence of temperature on CO2 levels is not more than 8 ppmv/C, hardly noticable in the increase of over 100 ppmv we see nowadays.

  369. Richard S Courtney says:
    August 7, 2010 at 9:04 am

    I object to you posting personal lies as a bolster to your assertions!

    At August 7, 2010 at 5:30 am you say:
    “I am waiting several years now for such an alternative explanation by Richard’s companions which doesn’t violate one or more of the observations…”

    That is a demonstrable lie! You have had several such examples from me. Indeed, I provided one in my post to this thread at August 6, 2010 at 6:38 am.

    Your errors are forgiveable. But your posting a demonstrable lie is not.

    Richard, not the big words, please. I was referring to Arthur Rörsch looking for an alternative explanation for the increase in the atmosphere. Until now the solutions fail one or more observations.

    The same problem with your examples, if we may look at one:

    A change to average ocean surface layer pH of only 0.1 would reduce the ocean sequestration rate by more than is required to achieve the observed rise to atmospheric CO2 concentration.

    A general reduction in pH of the oceans indeed would increase pCO2 of the oceans, leading to more outgassing and an increase in CO2 of the atmosphere. But that would violate several observations:

    – More outgassing means a reduction of total carbon (DIC) in the upper ocean level, but we see an increase. The average flux is from the atmosphere into the oceans, not reverse.
    – The 13C/12C ratio of the oceans (both deep and surface) is much higher than of the atmosphere. Even including the isotope fractionation at the sea-air boundary, that would increase the d13C/12C ratio of the atmosphere, but we see a decrease.
    – Last but not least: the mass balance: if ocean outgassing would be the main cause of the increase, then the total increase in the atmosphere would be the sum of the extra outflow plus the human emissions. But the observed increase is less than the human emissions alone.

    Thus the possibility of a pH decline as cause of the increase violates three observations. This is sufficient proof to reject that hypothesis.

  370. Richard S Courtney says:

    Your post concludes by asking:

    “In fact, I’d like to see a guest post by Mr. Courtney explaining why CO2 increase is NOT man made. Any chance of that?”

    Sorry, but I will not do that although I would be willing to provide a post that explains why it cannot be known if the CO2 increase is (or is not) man-made in part or in whole.

    And of course, I knew that… sorry for being unclear.

    Ferdinand Engelbeen says:

    The results, only based on the assumption of the conservation of mass, show that, whatever the underlying mechanisms, nature is a net sink for CO2. That makes that the increase is fully attributable to the emissions. Nothing circular here.

    Actually, your insistence on this astounds me.

    How do you know that our CO2 emissions are not completely nullified by some natural process, ie. oceanic uptake or increased plant growth, and it’s not SOME OTHER source that is the cause of the increase?

    Honestly, 368 posts are basically all about this question, and you have failed to explain this. Your simple assertion that “it must be so” is the major sticking point here, and to use the word a second time, it is astounding to me that you can’t see it, and that you can’t see how this is circular.

  371. Dikran Marsupial says:
    August 7, 2010 at 12:20 pm
    “Sorry Paul, the argument I put forward is whether the observed rise is attributable to man or to nature (i.e. everything other than man) or both. That is perfectly straightforward, and a perfectly reasonable question.”

    No, it isn’t. This is a false dichotomy. The observed rise may be attributable to something other than man. It cannot be attributable to everything other than man. You are arbitrarily lumping disparate things together while ignoring the simple fact that they could be arbitrarily lumped together in numerous other ways. It is not sophistry to note that the same illogic you use to “prove” that man is the cause could be used to prove that any of the other sources is the cause (singly or in combination). It is not sophistry to note that, in science, man is part of nature; pretending otherwise leads to stupid blunders like this.

    And you still haven’t answered my question: what do you mean by “the rise in CO2 is man made”? Do you mean “CO2 levels would not have increased if man had not emitted this CO2″. If not, then what do you mean?

  372. Some musings:

    I think I begin to understand the the difficulties that Paul Birch and others have had in accepting the arguments of Ferdinand and Dikran, and whilst I firmly believe that the latter’s conclusion – that human emissions have caused the recent increase in atmospheric CO2 – is correct and is supported by the logic of their arguments, I think there IS an additional silent assumption made in the “mass balance” argument that has been employed, which may be the source of the disagreement.

    Let’s go back to Dikran’s 10:48am mass balance equation:

    dC = E_anthropogenic + E_natural – U_natural

    The other assumption made (besides conservation of mass) , was indeed acknowledged by Dikran with the words “assuming anthropogenic uptake is negligible”, but then it was passed over: I think is the source of the disagreement.

    So, let me construct an, albeit rather odd, world where anthropogenic uptake is NOT negligible, indeed where it is much the same in magnitude as anthropogenic emissions. In this odd world, oddhumans don’t get oil and coal out of the ground: they MAKE IT by EXTRACTING CO2 out of the atmosphere and using their chemical wizardry (and plentiful solar energy!) to turn it into oil and coal, which they then burn nostalgically in their antediluvian cars and homes and factories etc, thereby releasing the CO2 in equivalent amounts back into the atmosphere. Yes, I know it’s barmy, but bear with me.

    So, in this odd world, U_anthropogenic is close in value (though opposite in sign, of course) to E_anthropogenic (and is known with similar precision) and the mass balance equation can no longer ignore it and therefore becomes:

    dC = (E_anthropogenic – U_anthropogenic) + (E_natural – U_natural)

    But now, if in this oddworld we observe an increase in atmospheric CO2 and we ask the question, “what is the source of the increase?”, then we haven’t a clue! We know it can’t be oddhumans, because (E_anthropogenic – U_anthropogenic) is close to zero.
    I find echoes of that difficulty in the writings of those who do not accept the mass balance argument.

    So the moral of this tale is this: the mass balance equation involves TWO assumptions, the conservation of mass and the fact that U_anthropogenic is negligible. But that negligible nature of U_anthropogenic comes about ONLY because we real humans don’t make our coal and oil by extracting CO2 from the air: we get it by digging it up. And we dig it up from deep in the Earth where, until we disturbed it, it had no part in the short/medium term carbon cycle (ie that involving the atmosphere/oceans/biosphere): it was outwith the system and would have remained so substantially for millions of years if we hadn’t disturbed it. And that is the crucial point.

    Only humans*, by extracting fossil fuels from the Earth’s crust and ADDING them as CO2 to the short/medium term carbon cycle are causing a NET increase in the amount of carbon in that carbon cycle. Only we are adding to the system and most of our additions from fossil fuels go into the atmosphere first. U_anthropogenic is negligible because we get our carbon out of the ground, not from the short/medium term carbon cycle, and that is why we can look at the mass balance equation and be sure that the rise in atmospheric CO2 is anthropogenic.

    [* OK, a bit (less than 1% of human emissions) from volcanoes]

  373. Frank Lansner says:
    August 7, 2010 at 10:33 am

    Thanks for answer Ferdinand.

    What CO2-compound is included in nDIC besides the carbonates that are in equilibrium with Co2? We are talking about upper ocean layers and thus carbonates sedimenting is not in question.

    Carbonate sedimentation may be one of the culprits, as mentioned by Julian Flood. But as one sees an increase of DIC (mainly bicarbonate and carbonate), while the pH remains flat, that is a contradiction, as with increasing DIC, one should expect a decrease in pH (as seen in the decade before the last one). That means that something else is working, which neutralises the pH decline. I really have no idea what that can be.
    Maybe the deep ocean upwelling changed, bringing more deep ocean waters up to the surface…

    The stagnant pCO2 may have as result that the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere is more readily absorbed, as the pCO2 difference air-water increases.

  374. Ferdinand says:

    “Further the long term influence of temperature on CO2 levels is not more than 8 ppmv/C, hardly noticable in the increase of over 100 ppmv we see nowadays.”

    You are saying there is not positive feedback? If so I agree. Otherwise a 100 ppmv rise in CO2 would caused a very large rise in temperature. You say a rise in temperature causes a rise in CO2. That has not happened. So again, I agree.

    And you may be right about the mass balance hypothesis, but it comes across as somewhat of an argumentum ad ignorantiam assumption: since we don’t know all the possible sources and sinks, and we don’t know their magnitude for the most part, it seems you are saying, “Therefore, it must be all due to human emissions.”

    Did I overstep by saying “all”? Sorry. That’s just one more unknown variable.

    <rant>

    The IPCC purports to know exactly how much CO2 is emitted in total. But it is somewhat of a leap to assume that human activity is more responsible than, for example, sea surface temperature.

    And even if human activity is the cause of the rise, rather than a warming ocean, there are two relevant points: first, the planet warms and cools despite the rising trace gas, not because of it [except as you note, to a very small degree]. And second, there is no real possibility of convincing India, China, Russia, Brazil, and scores of other countries to tell their citizens to accept subsistence living, after the West has enjoyed the ride up until now. So this is really a pointless argument unless you can provide proof that an increase in CO2 is a demonstrably bad thing. So far, the evidence does not support that argument.

    As Prof Richard Lindzen notes:

    Future generations will wonder in bemused amazement that the early 21st century’s developed world went into hysterical panic over a globally averaged temperature increase of a few tenths of a degree, and, on the basis of gross exaggerations of highly uncertain computer projections combined into implausible chains of inference, proceeded to contemplate a roll-back of the industrial age.

    Which brings to mind the famous Marcus Aurelius quote:

    The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.

    Being interested in the question of temperature related to a tiny trace gas is fine. But too many folks take one step too far, and insanely advocate hobbling the primary basis for our standard of living — fossil fuels — based on extremely sparse knowledge, along with the certainty that no matter what we do or don’t do, CO2 will continue to rise as the planet warms, and 150 other countries refuse to curtail their CO2 emissions. [The Economist reported that China is now building 2 - 4 new coal-fired power plants every week, and intends to continue at that rate at least through 2024. Their population wants electricity, and they will have it from the cheapest source: coal.]

    Prof Freeman Dyson also points out our lack of knowledge:

    Consider the half of the land area of the earth that is not desert or ice-cap or city or road or parking-lot. This is the half of the land that is covered with soil and supports vegetation of one kind or another. Every year, it absorbs and converts into biomass a certain fraction of the carbon dioxide that we emit into the atmosphere. Biomass means living creatures, plants and microbes and animals, and the organic materials that are left behind when the creatures die and decay. We don’t know how big a fraction of our emissions is absorbed by the land, since we have not measured the increase or decrease of the biomass.

    We do not even know what the parameters of the biggest CO2 sinks are, yet many in the ranks of the insane demand crazy solutions based on an almost total lack of knowledge.

    So the important question is not whether human activity is the cause of increased atmospheric CO2. That question is academic. The important question is why nefarious people in the West [such as, for one example of many, Maurice Strong -- who lives in China] do not utter a word of concern over the fast ramp-up of CO2 by China and many other countries. For our part, the U.S. is not increasing its CO2 emissions. Yet the evil leaders of the ranks of the insane always expect the U.S. and the West to cut our own throats, while giving a free pass to most of the world’s countries.

    </rant>

  375. Paul Birch says:
    August 7, 2010 at 10:44 am

    Indeed, the fine nuances of a different language are not always easy to grasp… Even if one uses the other language over a long time. Second try:

    Paul: “1) CO2 levels would not have increased if man had not emitted this CO2.
    It doesn’t necessarily imply they would have stayed the same – they could have fallen – but if they would have risen at all then we could only say “part of the CO2 increase is man-made”.”

    Definitive answer:
    Except for a small increase due to the temperature increase since the LIA, CO2 levels would not have increased if man had not emitted this CO2. Thus near all of the CO2 increase is man-made.

    Some detailed background:
    Based on the historical ratio: Temperature is the main driver over the past 800,000 years for CO2 levels, with some lag. In this case the LIA – current times warming of maximum 1 C would have increased the CO2 levels with not more than 8 ppmv. Other possibilities of natural causes of part of the increase (volcanic eruptions, ocean pH changes,…) are excluded at least in the past 50 years, as the mass balance excludes any addition from natural sources.

    Well, I don’t quite know what you mean by “disagreed on the second part”
    That was about the word “part” instead of “all” in the last sentence.

    But in that case your mass balance argument is totally invalid as a means of proving it, because there is no way it can answer the question of what would have happened in different circumstances. What would have happened matters – and needs to be proved before you can assign causation.

    I don’t see why the mass balance is invalid as a proof in this case: in the current circumstances, there is no room for any natural addition. In different circumstances, the result may be different. If e.g. some supervolcano would emit 5 GtC next year, then the mass balance at the end of the year should show a net increase of 9 GtC in the atmosphere, of which 8 GtC from human emissions and 1 GtC from the volcano in excess of the current average natural sink rate of 4 GtC. In that case nature as a whole is contributing to the increase in the atmosphere.

    Paul: “3) CO2 levels have risen by no more than the amount of CO2 man has added to the atmosphere.”

    Ferdinand: “No. That is flatly contradicted by the mass balance: CO2 levels have risen less than the amount of CO2 man has added to the atmosphere. And that is what makes that our interpretation of 1) is true.”

    Once again, it seems your knowledge of either English or logic is letting you down.

    Indeed my misinterpretation… The statement is true and as long as that is the case, there is no net addition from nature as a whole to the increase of the atmosphere.

  376. Ferdinand:

    You still do not get it do you?
    The total sysem needs to be considered, and not only the net flux.

    At August 7, 2010 at 1:43 pm you say:

    “A general reduction in pH of the oceans indeed would increase pCO2 of the oceans, leading to more outgassing and an increase in CO2 of the atmosphere. But that would violate several observations:

    – More outgassing means a reduction of total carbon (DIC) in the upper ocean level, but we see an increase. The average flux is from the atmosphere into the oceans, not reverse.

    – The 13C/12C ratio of the oceans (both deep and surface) is much higher than of the atmosphere. Even including the isotope fractionation at the sea-air boundary, that would increase the d13C/12C ratio of the atmosphere, but we see a decrease.

    – Last but not least: the mass balance: if ocean outgassing would be the main cause of the increase, then the total increase in the atmosphere would be the sum of the extra outflow plus the human emissions. But the observed increase is less than the human emissions alone.

    Thus the possibility of a pH decline as cause of the increase violates three observations. This is sufficient proof to reject that hypothesis.”

    No, no and no!

    There is not sufficient data to observe the change in global total carbon in the ocean surface layer with sufficient accuracy for a determination of whether it has increased or decreased over the last 50 years.

    The change to isotope fractionation does not match the assumption of an anthropgenic cause (the magnitude of the change differs from that expected from an anthropogenic cause by a factor of at leat 3 x). And the change in the isotope ratio with outgassing from ENSO variations shows that it is not posible to distinguish between ocean outgassing and the anthropogenic emissions. The effect of the pH change would be similar for the postulated pH change or a temperature from ENSO.

    And the mass balance argument is complete nonsense when applied to a change to the system. All the mass balance would show is that the system has changed to alter the net flux of CO2 between the air and the rest of the carbon cycle WHICH IS WHAT WE SEE.

    As I said, you still do not get it.
    The mass balance indicates a change to the system but provides NO indication of any kind as to the cause of the change.

    Richard

  377. It would be good to know more about tne methane cycle and its link to the carbon cycle. There is more and more recognition of the existence of “tight gas”, methane trapped in sedimentary rocks. Wherever sedimentary rocks are exposed, eg sea cliffs, plate boundaries, there must be a flow of methane into the sea and atmosphere. This would be oxidised to CO2. Can the size of this flow be estimated?

  378. Richard S. Courtney wrote

    “The total sysem needs to be considered, and not only the net flux.”

    No, if you aim to determine only if the observed rise is anthropogenic, natural or both, only the net flux is important. The rate at which atmospheric CO2 increases or decreases depends only on the difference between total emissions and total uptake, i.e. the net flux, the total volume of the exchange flux is irrelevant.

    To demonstrate that, say total emissions were 10 GtC per year and total uptake were 9 GtC per year; obviously atmospheric CO2 would increase by 1 GtC per year. Now consider a situation where total emissions were 1000 GtC per year and total uptake were 999 GtC per year; atmospheric CO2 would still only rise by 1 GTC per year, even though the volume of the exchange flux is two orders of magnitude higher. It is only the net flux (1 GtC per year in both cases) that controls the rise.

  379. Slioch: Yes, you could say that it was an assumption that anthropogenic upatke is negligible, so I’d happily concede that point. However, as you indicate anthropogenic uptake would need to reach half of anthropogenic emissions before it had any effect on the outcome. A pretty reasonable assumption!

    You can also be 100% sure that any anthropogenic uptake will be recorded in great detail, because people will be selling it for those carbon credit things (note any re-forestation will already be implicitly included in land use change).

  380. Richard – you are right, and they are wrong. But, it is a hopeless task. They do not recognize even obvious logical flaws in their arguments.

  381. CodeTech says:
    August 7, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    Ferdinand Engelbeen says:

    The results, only based on the assumption of the conservation of mass, show that, whatever the underlying mechanisms, nature is a net sink for CO2. That makes that the increase is fully attributable to the emissions. Nothing circular here.

    Actually, your insistence on this astounds me.

    How do you know that our CO2 emissions are not completely nullified by some natural process, ie. oceanic uptake or increased plant growth, and it’s not SOME OTHER source that is the cause of the increase?

    CodeTech, we are comparing the increase in the atmosphere with the human emissions at one side and what nature does at the other side. What you (and Richard and others) are doing is picking one part of the natural cycle which may be large enough to be the cause and assuming that the human emissions are removed by another part of the natural cycle.

    Indeed that happens also in reality: any emitted molecule from fossil fuel burning may be captured by the next nearby tree within seconds, or after ten years in the oceans. But in both cases the net effect is the same: the total mass of CO2 in the atmosphere increases due to the human addition. In the first case indirectly, as the captured “anthro” molecule CO2 replaces a “natural” molecule which would have been captured instead, but now remains in the atmosphere.

    But that all has nothing to do with the question of the cause of the rise: is the rise natural or anthropogenic or both. To answer that question, one must separate human and natural fluxes and not mix them up. If we bring all natural fluxes together, then it can be shown that total effect of all natural fluxes is negative: nature is a net sink for CO2, whatever the unknown height and unknown variability of all these fluxes individually might be. That is all what the mass balance shows. And that makes that the natural flows are not responsible for the increase.

    Honestly, 368 posts are basically all about this question, and you have failed to explain this. Your simple assertion that “it must be so” is the major sticking point here, and to use the word a second time, it is astounding to me that you can’t see it, and that you can’t see how this is circular.

    To know what needs to be explained, one need to know what the problem is. I was (and still am) surprised why so many smart people don’t accept, even do not see the simple calculation of a mass balance which shows that the natural fluxes as a whole don’t add anything to the CO2 levels in the atmosphere. I hope the above explanation might have clarified this.

  382. Richard S Courtney says:
    August 7, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    You still do not get it do you?
    The total sysem needs to be considered, and not only the net flux.

    Adequately answered by Dikran…

    No, no and no!

    There is not sufficient data to observe the change in global total carbon in the ocean surface layer with sufficient accuracy for a determination of whether it has increased or decreased over the last 50 years.

    Come on Richard. Continuous dataseries indeed are scarce: Hawaii and Bermuda and Gran Canaria are the only stations with a long continuous record, both show the increase in DIC. From:

    http://www.bios.edu/Labs/co2lab/research/IntDecVar_OCC.html

    From the Hawaii station: nDIC and seawater pCO2 increased at a rate of +1.2 +0.1 µmoles kg-1 year-1, and +2.5 +0.3 µatm year-1, respectively.
    From the Bermuda station: nDIC and seawater pCO2 increased at a rate of +1.6 µmoles kg-1 year-1, and +1.4 µatm year-1, respectively.
    Of course, one can assume that other places show a decrease in DIC, but as the counterpart in the atmosphere certainly increased everywehere over all oceans, that is extremely unlikely.

    The change to isotope fractionation does not match the assumption of an anthropgenic cause (the magnitude of the change differs from that expected from an anthropogenic cause by a factor of at leat 3 x). And the change in the isotope ratio with outgassing from ENSO variations shows that it is not posible to distinguish between ocean outgassing and the anthropogenic emissions. The effect of the pH change would be similar for the postulated pH change or a temperature from ENSO.

    Sorry, completely wrong: We are not talking about an anthro effect, but about a huge (200 GtC) ocean outgassing effect. The ENSO effect on d13C/12C is mainly from the influence on vegetation, which can’t be distinguished for that part from fossil fuel. But that is not the case for ocean outgassing.

    And the mass balance argument is complete nonsense when applied to a change to the system. All the mass balance would show is that the system has changed to alter the net flux of CO2 between the air and the rest of the carbon cycle WHICH IS WHAT WE SEE.

    As we applied the mass balance argument stepwise for the changes over a year, I don’t see any problem, as in all past decades the net natural flux was negative.

    As I said, you still do not get it.
    The mass balance indicates a change to the system but provides NO indication of any kind as to the cause of the change.

    I see, you still don’t get it that a negative net flux, sustained over 50+ years is a very solid indication that nature didn’t add one gram of CO2 to the increase in CO2 mass of the atmosphere.

  383. Sorry to disrupt the friendly feud. Doesn’t the historical record indicate that increases in CO2 lag temperature rises by 800 to 1000 years? Has anyone asked the question, “What was going on 800 to 1000 years prior to 1850?” Could it be the MWP?

  384. As a mere bozo on the bus, I have been observing this thread with fascination. I started out quite prepared to accept that the surplus of CO2 in the atmosphere was anthropogenic, and found Ferdinand’s (and Dikran’s) arguments persuasive.

    However, listening to Richard’s (and others) arguments, I think I have come to see that indeed, Ferdinand’s view has been severely challenged.

    Put it this way. Imagine we have an observation box, with inputs and outputs, in which the amount of a specified substance, let us call it X, has been observed to increase. We can all agree that X hasn’t come from nowhere, because nothing comes from nothing. We can all agree on conservation of the mass of X.

    All sorts of processes put X into the box, and all sorts of processes remove it from the box. Let’s say for argument’s sake that there are 10 inputs of X and 10 outputs of X. Let’s also say that yesterday, and for a number of days previously, the mass of X was 100g, but that today, it’s 105g.

    Hitherto, we haven’t been too interested in measuring the inputs and outputs. But now we conceive a desire to select one of the inputs at random and quickly measure its contribution.

    Having done that, we discover that its input today has been 7g. Wow! This is very significant, is it not? Does it not prove that all the observed 5g increase can be accounted for solely by that input? The argument seems very compelling.

    However, being curious people, we decide to take a close look at the input and output boxes. What we find is a spaghetti junction. They are interconnected by tubes. X isn’t simply coming into/exiting the observation box from isolated sources and sinks, but is circulating between sources and sinks. And the processes occurring in the boxes are quite complicated, with differing dependencies on things like temperature and pressure, as well as different rates leading to different time lags. It is, in fact, an exceedingly complex system when taken as a whole.

    Again, being curious, we decide to perform an experiment. We are going to remove the random input box we chose, and block the ends of all its tubes – the one that leads into the observation box, and all the others that lead to both other input boxes and output boxes. The system as whole is now completely devoid of influence by the random input box we chose. Tomorrow, we are resolved to measure the amount of X in the observation box.

    What will we find, I wonder? If we find that the observed mass of X is approximately 100g, maybe we will say to ourselves that indeed, all of today’s rise was accounted for by (not the same as saying that all the excess 5g of X comes solely from) the process(es) occurring in the box we’ve removed.

    Personally, I wouldn’t stake my life on that occurring, however. And in any case, my bet would be that some other figure would be measured – could be more or less than 100g, but I simply don’t know and couldn’t for the life of me make a confident prediction one way or the other.

    Richard is in my view correct. Ferdinand has not *proved* that the sole cause of the rise of CO2 is anthropogenic. He cannot ignore the precise nature of the sources and sinks, or of the processes and interconnections between them.

    Unfortunately, we can’t do the analogue of the experiment of removing the box we decided to choose. We can’t wave our hands and simply assert that the mass increase *must* be due to anthropogenic CO2. It’s plausible that anthropogenic CO2 has *some* influence, but I think Ferdinand’s thesis is far from rock solid.

    As a postscript, can I say that I have been totally delighted by this thread and wish to express my thanks to and admiration for all contributors, whether for or against the thesis. It is all honest, enlightening and educational debate, of a kind that one struggles to find anywhere else in the climate blogosphere. At the end of the day, we can all thank Anthony for providing this important platform for discussion.

  385. I have a question about the mass balance equation. Could not

    dC = E_anthropogenic + E_natural – U_natural

    also be written as:

    dC = E_everything – U_everything

    could it not? Which could then be written as:

    dC = E_something + E_everything else – U_everything

    So, according to the logic of this post, any “something” emitting more than 4GtC could be the culprit for the CO2 increase. How many “something’s” like this are there? Hmn?

  386. Michael Larkin says: August 7, 2010 at 8:07 pm

    quote
    Put it this way. Imagine we have an observation box, with inputs and outputs, in which the amount of a specified substance, let us call it X, has been observed to increase. We can all agree that X hasn’t come from nowhere, because nothing comes from nothing. We can all agree on conservation of the mass of X.
    unquote

    I suspect that the confusion arises because Ferdinand’s definition of the observation box differs from what we are talking about — the atmosphere, where we have knowledge of the variation in CO2 levels, is only a tiny part of the system and as such is not the ‘contains everything therefore changes can only be due to’ box that he imagines.

    Ralph Dwyer’s post says it better.

    I won’t go through the pipes in, pipes out and widdling little boy again, but it seems so obvious to me that with all the inputs and outputs capable of varying then we have insufficient knowledge to say anything about the increase of the reservoir level and contributions to it by micturition.

    My word, aren’t we going to have fun with the isotope changes!

    JF

  387. Ralph Dwyer
    August 7, 2010 at 8:36 pm

    asks, “How many “something’s” [emitting more than 4GtC] are there?”

    Plenty (see, Fig. 1 at head of article, for example) but that is not the answer.
    The crucial point is not only the size of the flux, but its origin.

    If the source of the CO2 flux to the atmosphere is from the short/medium term carbon cycle (ie the atmosphere/oceans/biosphere) , then it MAY cause an increase in [CO2] in the atmosphere, but WILL do so only if it is unbalanced (ie if it is not compensated for by an equal flux from the atmosphere). Examples: warming of the oceans or massive forest fires or extensive thawing of NH permafrost. However, none of those factors has been anywhere near large enough to cause the observed increase, nor has any other similar factor been suggested to account for it that is also large enough.

    If the source of the CO2 flux to the atmosphere is NOT from the short/medium term carbon cycle, but from outwith that system, then it MUST cause an increase in [CO2] in the atmosphere, (which will decline towards a new equilibrium point over time). Examples: anthropogenic emissions from burning fossil fuels, volcanoes.

    Volcanoes are known to be two orders of magnitude too small to cause the observed effect. The former, human emissions, are known to be more than large enough to cause the observed effect, and they must so do, as illustrated by the mass balance equation. When you have something that you know is large enough to cause an effect and you know that, if it is large enough then it MUST cause the effect, then you know that it HAS caused the effect.

    Who would have thought that 45 years after President Lyndon Johnson, in a Special Message to Congress in 1965, stated, “This generation has altered the composition of the atmosphere on a global scale through … a steady increase in carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels*” that there would still be those seeking to maintain otherwise.

    * see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2T4UF_Rmlio

    at 16:10 minutes.

  388. Ralph Dwyer says:
    August 7, 2010 at 7:52 pm

    Sorry to disrupt the friendly feud. Doesn’t the historical record indicate that increases in CO2 lag temperature rises by 800 to 1000 years? Has anyone asked the question, “What was going on 800 to 1000 years prior to 1850?” Could it be the MWP?

    The historical influence of temperature on ice cores is about 8 ppmv/C (Vostok and Dome C ice cores). This is confirmed for the MWP-LIA cooling: about a 6 ppmv drop for a 0.8 C temperature drop (Law Dome ice core with a 21 years resolution). The lag in this case seems to be around 50 years.

    Thus, worst case, the increase in temperature since the LIA (or the return of MWP waters via de deep oceans) would be responsible for 6-8 ppmv CO2 increase, if the temperature increase was 0.8-1 C since the LIA. But we see an increase of over 100 ppmv nowadays…

    Further, the temperature-CO2 lag is not fixed: It was about 800 years when the temperatures did rise after the depth of the ice ages, but was many thousands of years when the temperatures were dropping again after a warm period. The MWP-LIA lag seems to be around 50 years and the current lag of the fast response (some 4 ppmv/C) to temperature changes is only a few months…

  389. Ralph Dwyer: Yes, you could partition the fluxes that way if you wanted to, but if you did it may not necessarily answer an interesting or even meaningful question. If you want to know whether man is responsible for the observed rise then you need to separate the anthropogenic from eveything that is non-anthropogenic, and that is what we have done.

    Here is an example: A polygamous man (Bob) has two wives (Anne and Jane), with whom he shares a bank account. He puts in $8 a year and withdraws nothing. Anne puts in $90 a year and withdraws $92 a year. Jane puts in $60 a year and withdraws $62 a year.

    If we want to know if Bob is the cause of the rise in their bank balance (which very obviously he is) we need to separate the results of his transactions from his wives, giving:

    [change of balance] = [Bobs deposits] – [Bobs withdrawals] + [Annes deposits] + [Janes deposits] – [Annes withdrawals] – [Janes withdrawals]

    Say Bob knows his own transactions (withdrawals are nill, so we’ll neglect that term for clarity), so if he observes a change of balance, in this case it will be +$4 assuming conservation of money (i.e. no bank charges etc.), he can work out

    [Annes deposits] + [Janes deposits] – [Annes withdrawals] – [Janes withdrawals] = [change of balance] – [Bobs deposits]

    So although he can work out that between them his wives have spent more than they have saved, but he doesn’t know the volume of the transactions, nor how the transactions were partitioned between his wives. He does know though, that he was responsible for the rise in the balance as he was a net saver and his wives (together) were net spenders.

    However, we could have partitioned the mass balance equation as follows:

    [change of balance] – [Janes deposits] + [Janes withdrawals] = [bobs deposits] + [annes deposits] – [annes withdrawals]

    but the mass balance argument then can’t tell you if bob is responsible for the rise in the bank balance, as his transactions are lumped in with Annes. So it answers a different question.

    O.K. So you could argue that Volcanos are only sources of CO2 and have no uptake, so they are partially responsible for the rise, and partition the equation that way. However, that is neglecting the fact that there are other processes that are continually putting carbon back into the lithosphere (for example sedimentation). These processes had been in good balance for thousands of years, which is why CO2 levels had been pretty much stable from the start of the current interglacial. So it is misleading to suggest they are the cause of the rise, unless you have evidence that volcanic output has increased since the start of the observed rise in atmospheric CO2.

    As I said, you can partition the equations in many ways, but they don’t tell you anthing interesting. However, if you partition into oceans versus everything else, you will find that oceans are not the source as ocean emissions are less than ocean uptake. The same applies to the terrestrial biosphere.

  390. Ferdinand Engelbeen says:

    “I see, you still don’t get it that a negative net flux, sustained over 50+ years is a very solid indication that nature didn’t add one gram of CO2 to the increase in CO2 mass of the atmosphere.”

    This attempt to prove that increases in atmospheric CO2 are man-made is false. Changing the subject of the argument to an empirical correlation is not a sufficient response.

  391. Just to add what Ferdinand wrote, while oceans give out more CO2 as they warm, they also take up more CO2 as atmospheric CO2 rises (because the ocean-atmosphere fluxes are determined by both temperature and the difference in partial pressure of CO2). The actual fluxes depend on which of these factors is dominant, so if there is some input of CO2 that is not part of the natural carbon cycle, it is not a given that the oceans will give out more CO2 as temperature rises.

    There is often a lot of attention paid to the temperature relation, and often the dependency on the difference in partial pressure is ignored, but both play a role.

  392. Ferdinand, further explanation is not required, you’ve explained your concept quite thoroughly. It’s just that you are wrong.

    Forget the other analogies, try this one. Let’s say you have a country. Let’s say that country takes in taxes and pays out benefits and programs. Further, let’s say that country is sloppy in its accounting and all taxes go into “general revenue”, and all expenses come from the same account. Let’s call this imaginary bad accounting country “Canada”.

    Now, you have been tasked with finding out why the country is in deficit spending. Unfortunately for you, it’s a country, and their tax records are not available to you. You do, however, have some rough estimates of the bricklayers union. You determine that the bricklayers union members receive more in unemployment and other benefits than they pay in taxes, and the shortfall is approximately equal to the deficit.

    Your conclusion is that the bricklayers union are the cause of the deficit. Word of this gets out in the street, and pretty soon everyone is against bricklayers. Heck, Al Gore and Michael Moore make movies denigrating bricklayers, laws are passed banning bricklaying, and most communities ban brick houses in an attempt to fix the problem.

    After driving the bricklayers completely out of business, it soon becomes apparent that the deficit remains unchanged. It seems the bricklayers are now all unemployed and therefore receiving even MORE benefits. All of the people that the bricklayers normally do business with like grocery stores, car dealerships, mortar suppliers, brick companies, home builders, etc. are all suffering reduced business, tax revenues are down, and the destruction of the bricklayers hasn’t changed a thing.

    So here’s a question: were the bricklayers responsible for the deficit spending?

  393. Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
    August 7, 2010 at 2:53 pm
    “Definitive answer:
    Except for a small increase due to the temperature increase since the LIA, CO2 levels would not have increased if man had not emitted this CO2. Thus near all of the CO2 increase is man-made.”

    One more try. You wish to argue that some of the rise since the Little Ice Age is natural, which in turn means that the CO2 rise is not entirely man made. But your “slam-dunk” mass balance argument has no room for this. You keep insisting that its a matter of logic that the fact that the rise has been less than the sum of human emissions proves that the rise is man made. You keep insisting that only the net balance counts, not the details. So on this basis you have no right to ascribe any of the increase to the temperature rise. If you allow that natural phenomena may have caused some of the rise, then how much is a moot question, dependent upon the complex details of all the workings of the carbon cycle; the natural component could conceivably account for 1% of the rise, or 10%, or 90% or 100%; what the magnitude happens to be does not and cannot alter the logical principles at all.

    If you have to bring in other data to justify your theory, it means your mass balance argument is just plain wrong. The mass balance is one constraint upon the theory, but in itself it tells you nothing about which of the many possible causes are operative.

    I may say that I agree with you that most probably some of the increase is due to the temperature rise, and some due to human emissions accumulating faster than the natural sinks can presently remove them (and some due to still other things). But your arguments purporting to show that the proportion due to temperature rise is not large are as fallacious as your mass balance argument. In all of these matters you grossly underestimate the range of possible mechanisms by which similar results can arise. We do not understand the mechanisms of the carbon cycle anything like well enough to give any clear-cut answers. We don’t even know the solubility of CO2 in sea water at all depths and pressures (let alone the full equilibria of such important regulating reactions as CaSiO3+CO2=CaCO3+SiO2); many of the experimental observations conflict.

  394. Roger Clague: It isn’t a correllation -it is an observations that one thing is always less than something else. In this case, we know that non-anthropogenic uptake always exceeds non-anthropogenic emissions, that fully supports the assertion that nature has not contributed a single gram to the observed rise (as we know it has been deducting grams from the observed rise instead).

  395. Dikran Marsupial says:

    “…nature has not contributed a single gram to the observed rise…”

    Planet Earth disagrees.

    Ferdinand,

    I’ve got to hand it to you, you certainly know how to stir up controversy! 400+ comments so far. Kudos. [BTW, I agree with about 95% of your reasoning. It's the other 5% that causes heartburn.]

  396. Ferdinand and Dikran are absolutely correct in the framing of their argument and the solution. The mass balance shows that the modern rise in CO2 is a result of anthropogenic emissions.

    We can take this further, as I believe Ferdinand will in parts 2 and 3, and then make a prediction as to what will happen to atmospheric O2 levels if the rise in CO2 is a result of fossil fuel burning. Oxidation of the reduced carbon will result in a net loss of O2 in the atmosphere. Careful measurements of atmospheric O2 levels over the past 10-20 years show that the oxygen level has reduced in agreement with the mass balance observations. Moreover, the reduction in oxygen levels and increase in CO2 levels is consistent with the mass balance results and suggests that 50% of the emissions are equipartitioned into 2 sinks: 1) dissolution in the oceans and; 2) photosynthesis and the greening of the terrestrial biosphere.

    No other model can account for these observations other than that anthropogenic emissions are causing the rise in CO2 in the atmosphere. Moreover one can consider the observation of a reduction in atmospheric O2 as a test of this hypothesis. I have yet to see any other hypothesis that is proposed by the various debaters on this thread that can account for the observation that atmospheric oxygen is dropping whilst CO2 is rising.

    A 3rd test would be the isotope ratios (13C/12C) which I think Ferdinand is also going to discuss.

    At some point we have to apply Occam’s razor and seek the simplest model that accounts for the empirical data. This is that man’s output of CO2 through industrial activities is causing the rise in atmospheric CO2 levels.

    The debate here is illuminating for both it’s civility, but also for the intransigence of it’s protagonists.

  397. Smokey write:

    ““…nature has not contributed a single gram to the observed rise…”

    Planet Earth disagrees.”

    following the link you gave, it gives environment emissions as 770,000 MMt, but it also gives absorption (i.e. environmental uptake) as 781,400 MMt, so your data shows that the environment is a net sink (as Ferdinand and I have pointed out) as it takes more CO2 out of the atmosphere than it puts in, and hence is OPPOSING the observed rise.

    Sure it adds CO2 to the ATMOSPHERE, but if it takes even more back in (including about half of anthropogenic emissions), it isn’t adding to the RISE.

  398. Well gentlemen (where are the women here?)

    I think several now have nailed down the difference in opinion between the two groups here:

    Group 1 says:
    – The human emissions are near double the observed increase and the mass balance shows that all natural flows together are negative, that proves that human emissions are the sole cause of the increase.

    Group 2 says:
    – A lot of natural flows are far larger than the observed increase and can be the cause of the observed increase. Without full knowledge of all flows we can’t be sure that human emissions are the sole cause.

    OK, let’s have a look at opinion 2 in detail:

    We are quite certain of only two items in the whole carbon cycle: the human emissions and the increase in the atmosphere. The rest is uncertain, but the sum of all inflows and outflows (natural and human) must obeye the law of conservation of mass. Nevertheless, one of the natural flows, let’s say the oceanic outgassing, increased large enough to be fully responsible for the observed increase. That gives:

    dCO2(atm) = sum(in(ocean_old) + in(ocean_extra) + in(human) + in(alle the other natural inflows)) – (out1 + out2 + out3 +…)

    That gives with the knowns:

    4 GtC = 4 GtC (from ocean_extra) + 8 GtC (from the human emissions) + in(all_others) – (out1 + out2 + out3 + …)

    Or rearranged:
    in(all_others) – (out1 + out2 + out3 + …) = – 8 GtC

    In other words, the increase in one (or more) of the natural inputs must be compensated with an increase of one (or more) of the outputs to fit the mass balance, or you are creating some 4 GtC CO2 from nothing.

    The mass balance dictates that, as long as the total increase in mass of the atmosphere is less than the human emissions, any increase must be

  399. Pushed the send button too soon, the end must be:

    The mass balance dictates that, as long as the total increase in mass of the atmosphere is less than the human emissions, any increase of one of the natural inflows need to be compensated with an equal increase in natural outflow.

  400. Dikran Marsupial says:

    “Smokey write…”

    No, no, no: “Smokey right.”☺

    And the link is not my data. It is UN/IPCC data. Argue with them if you disagree.

    This is the central question: is human emitted CO2 the primary cause of global warming since the end of the LIA? Provide testable, falsifiable, empirical evidence, if you believe that to be the case [models don't count].

    If you can, you will be the first to be able to do so — and you will be on the short list for the [now worthless] Nobel prize.

  401. Paul Birch says:
    August 8, 2010 at 3:59 am

    said, “You wish to argue that some of the rise since the Little Ice Age is natural, which in turn means that the CO2 rise is not entirely man made. But your “slam-dunk” mass balance argument has no room for this.” etc.

    But that is why it is better to say, “the human contribution is more than able to account for the entire increase” as I did at August 5, 2010 at 10:30 am (which seems an awful long time ago … ).

    If human emissions from 1850 – 2000 amount to 1620Gts CO2 and the increase in atmospheric CO2 over the same time period was 640Gts (both of which are true) then the fact that other factors may have contributed does not alter the fact that the human contribution is more than able to account for the entire increase.

    The situation is analogous to having a barrel labelled “atmosphere” requiring 640 pints to fill it. If Mr Human Emissions comes along and pours in 1620 pints then the barrel will be full (the rest will “spill” into the oceans and terrestrial biosphere). If at the same time Mr Warming Oceans pour in some more and Mr Volcanoes and Mr Unknown Source also adds some then it really doesn’t alter the fact that Mr Human Emissions was more than able to fill the barrel all by himself.

    To then argue about whether Mr Human Emissions “caused” the barrel to fill all by himself, or was helped by the others is, it seems to me, meaningless.

    It is meaningful to enquire whether Mr Warming Oceans and/or Mr Volcanoes and/or Mr Unknown Source could have filled the barrel by themselves, without the help of Mr Human Emissions: but as Ferdinand and others have repeatedly pointed out, the evidence we have is that they were nowhere near capable of so doing.

  402. LOL Smokey, nice rhetoric, but a bit transparent.

    First you evade admitting that the data YOU introduced to make your point actually refutes it and supports the argument Ferdinand has made (and I have supported). It may not be “your” data, but YOU chose to use it to support your position.

    Secondly I don’t need to argue with the IPCC as they are in full agreement with me that the rise in atmospheric CO2 is of anthropogenic origin. You can find the mass balance argument in the IPCC reports (only given a very brief mention as it is so blindingly obvious).

    Thirdly, it is a classic rhetorical trick to try and change the subject when defeat looms, so I am not going to fall for your attempt to move the discussion onto whether CO2 causes warming, that is for another thread.

  403. Paul Birch says:
    August 8, 2010 at 3:59 am

    One more try. You wish to argue that some of the rise since the Little Ice Age is natural, which in turn means that the CO2 rise is not entirely man made. But your “slam-dunk” mass balance argument has no room for this. You keep insisting that its a matter of logic that the fact that the rise has been less than the sum of human emissions proves that the rise is man made. You keep insisting that only the net balance counts, not the details. So on this basis you have no right to ascribe any of the increase to the temperature rise. If you allow that natural phenomena may have caused some of the rise, then how much is a moot question, dependent upon the complex details of all the workings of the carbon cycle; the natural component could conceivably account for 1% of the rise, or 10%, or 90% or 100%; what the magnitude happens to be does not and cannot alter the logical principles at all.

    The attribution of the rise of CO2 to humans alone is absolute for the past 50+ years, that is for an increase of some 60 ppmv, measured with very high accuracy. It is less absolute for the first 60 years of the previous century, where the accuracy of both CO2 levels and emissions are less sure, but still show that the increase in the atmosphere (of about 20 ppmv) is less than the emissions (also about halve). And there is room for natural additions in the 19th century as the increase in the atmosphere (20 ppmv) and the emissions were within the margins of natural variability. Thus of the total rise of 100+ ppmv since the start of the indistrial revolution, some 20 ppmv is free for debate, 20 ppmv is highly certain from human additions and 60 ppmv is absolutely certain from human additions.

  404. Dikran,

    Don’t be silly. There are alternate conclusions, and they are based on observations rather than opinions. Here, I’ll help you get up to speed on the subject:

    This chart clearly refutes the claim that CO2 causes any noticeable global warming. There are certainly other likely causes of the rise in CO2.

    Ocean temperatures have an observable effect on atmospheric CO2.

    The planet disregards the claim of the alarmist crowd that human emitted CO2 is the primary cause of its [recently declining] temperature.

    So, what should we believe? The agenda of the warmist contingent? Or planet Earth, and our lying eyes?

  405. Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
    August 8, 2010 at 4:58 am
    “Group 2 says:
    – A lot of natural flows are far larger than the observed increase and can be the cause of the observed increase. Without full knowledge of all flows we can’t be sure that human emissions are the sole cause.”

    Without knowledge of all the feedback mechanisms we cannot be sure whether human emissions have had any net effect at all! And even flows that are individually smaller than the observed increase might have caused it in combination.

    You still seem quite unable to grasp – or unwilling to accept – that the ability to tell a plausible story is not the same as proving that the story is true.

  406. Paul Birch says:
    August 8, 2010 at 3:59 am

    In all of these matters you grossly underestimate the range of possible mechanisms by which similar results can arise. We do not understand the mechanisms of the carbon cycle anything like well enough to give any clear-cut answers. We don’t even know the solubility of CO2 in sea water at all depths and pressures (let alone the full equilibria of such important regulating reactions as CaSiO3+CO2=CaCO3+SiO2); many of the experimental observations conflict.

    Paul, there are a myriad of possible mechanisms which may (and do) influence the CO2 levels in the atmosphere. But as long as the increase in the atmosphere is less than the human emissions, these play no role in the increase, as any change in anyone of the natural inputs and outputs is visible in the total sum of all natural inputs and outputs together, which is negative over the past 50 years.

    Of course, there are a lot of combinations possible, if you mix up some of the natural in/outputs with the human emissions, but as Dikran showed, then you can’t have an answer to the question if humans are responsible for the rise or nature or both, if you lump the human emissions and some parts of the natural carbon cycle together.

  407. Smokey, I’ll take you seriously again when you stop making an attempt to derail the discussion by diverting onto whether CO2 causes warming.

    BTW it is well known that ocean temperature affects atmospheric CO2, as discussed earlier in the thread (the effects are even visible in figure 3 – but it doesn’t affect the mass balance argument). Now if you can show that there is a plausible mechanism that means changes in ocean temperatures could have given rise to the observed increases, but which is also consistent with what we know from paleoclimate data (about 8 ppm per degree C, as explained by Ferdinand), then lets hear about it.

  408. Smokey says:
    August 8, 2010 at 5:46 am
    Dikran,

    Don’t be silly. There are alternate conclusions, and they are based on observations rather than opinions. Here, I’ll help you get up to speed on the subject:

    This chart clearly refutes the claim that CO2 causes any noticeable global warming. There are certainly other likely causes of the rise in CO2.

    Smokey, please no discussion about the effect of the CO2 rise (whatever the cause) on temperature, that is a complete different item. Here we are discussing the cause of the increase, not the effect of the increase…
    And the historical data certainly will be discussed in one of the next parts.

  409. Slioch says:
    August 8, 2010 at 5:13 am
    Paul Birch says: “You wish to argue that some of the rise since the Little Ice Age is natural, which in turn means that the CO2 rise is not entirely man made. But your “slam-dunk” mass balance argument has no room for this.”

    “But that is why it is better to say, “the human contribution is more than able to account for the entire increase””

    Yes it would have been. But that’s not what the OP said. No one is claiming that the human contribution couldn’t have caused the rise. Only that lots of other things could have too. We could with equal validity say “the natural carbon cycle is more than able to account for the entire increase”. Such rises are far from unprecedented in the history of the planet.

    “To then argue about whether Mr Human Emissions “caused” the barrel to fill all by himself, or was helped by the others is, it seems to me, meaningless.”

    It is meaningless unless you ask what would have happened without him. And this is just what we don’t know, and just what a proper scientific study should be attempting to discover, by measurement of the actual processes concerned. Not merely the aggregate rates, but the detailed dependences on all the varying conditions, all the sources, sinks and feedbacks. All the non-linearities and irregularities and intransigent unpredictabilities. And even then the answer may turn out to be that we’ve no way of knowing; that the requisite data do not exist and cannot any longer be recovered.

    “It is meaningful to enquire whether Mr Warming Oceans and/or Mr Volcanoes and/or Mr Unknown Source could have filled the barrel by themselves, without the help of Mr Human Emissions: but as Ferdinand and others have repeatedly pointed out, the evidence we have is that they were nowhere near capable of so doing.”

    Ferdinand and others have claimed this, but the evidence either flatly contradicts this or is quite insufficient to support it. You, for example, claim that volcanos only emit 1% as much as man. This is just not true. The tectonic side of the carbon cycle has to emit on average on the order of a gigatonne of CO2 a year (from the amount of crust subducted annually at the plate margins) , which more like a quarter of the industrial emissions (from the diagram). It may not all be coming out of traditional volcanos, of course. And this doesn’t include any primordial carbon newly arrived from the mantle. But the really important point here is that such emissions are extraordinarily variable and unpredictable from year to year, or decade to decade, or century to century, or periods through to hundreds of millions of years. There have been periods in the planet’s history when volcanos have caused the emission rate, for decades or centuries at a time, to rise to ~10,000 times the average rate. We really have no idea how much CO2 has been emitted by volcanos over the past century. Or even the past year. We don’t even know how many volcanos there are. We do know that the tectonic emission rate can be wildly variable, almost without limit, especially in the deep oceans where we really haven’t a clue what’s going on.

  410. Dikran says:

    “Smokey, I’ll take you seriously again when you stop making an attempt to derail the discussion by diverting onto whether CO2 causes warming.”

    What?! That is the entire point of the whole CO2=CAGW conjecture!

    Get with the program. If CO2 doesn’t cause warming, there is nothing worth discussing.

  411. Ferdinand

    I said:”What CO2-compound is included in nDIC besides the carbonates that are in equilibrium with Co2? We are talking about upper ocean layers and thus carbonates sedimenting is not in question.

    Ferdinand: “Carbonate sedimentation may be one of the culprits, as mentioned by Julian Flood. ”

    but Ferdinand.. (!!) Carbonates sedimenting OUT is removed from the CO2 pool! Thats why pCO2 is a useful indicater of CO2 in oceans.

    When for example the biosphere helps sedimenting CO2 out – which was what Julian said (!) – then exactly, the CO2 partly from humans is omitted, and thats my point.

    We have a constant pCO2 (which is also the indicator IPCC uses) showing that the CO2 in the pool of available CO2 in oceans is constant even though humans are emitting more and more CO2. Please now reflect over this.

    What I say: Humans emit CO2 => CO2 increases => larger biosphere => faster and faster withdrawel of CO2 => human influence is only temporary and since we already now see that we have less and less CO2 increase per year for constant temperature, it appears that the biosphere is already limiting human influence more and more.

    Humans cant make rise without nature strongly reacts and soon omits human CO2. However, a bigger CO2 eating biosphere might lead to a stronger decline in CO2 than good is. If humans do damage emitting CO2, this is the damage.

    K.R. Frank

  412. Back to the overall mass balance
    FSin –FSout = Fa
    In which FSin is a standard flux into the atmosphere (concentrated near the equator)
    FSout a standard flux out of the atmosphere (near the poles) to the (deep) sea
    And Fa the rate of accumulation in the atmosphere
    If FSin = FSout than Fa=O
    If FSin increases with dFsin and FSout with dFout by a natural change
    Then dFsin –dFout = Fa (with FSin still equals FSout, an assumed equilibrium state)
    Let’s add an anthropogenic emission Fem=7 GtC/j and a measured accumulation Fa= 3.5 GtC (The situation round the year 2000 with 370 ppmv in the atmosphere)
    dFsin + Fem – dFout = Fa
    dFout = dFsin + Fem – Fa
    Ferdinand’s’ solution of this equation is that there is no change in the natural in flow (dFsin = 0)
    3.5 = 7 – 3.5 (The well know figure that half of the amount of the Fem is going out to the (deep) sea.
    The assumption is here that the increase of the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere has forced the increase dFout. In the paper mentioned by Richard Courtney in E&E 16(2) 2005 were applied several equations to describe the dFout and constants were chosen in this equations to match the MLO data. See the first line in the table.
    1 2 3
    dFout dFin dFin-dFout
    3.50 0.00 -3.5
    5.14 1.64 -3.5
    6.75 3.25 -3.5
    8.36 4.86 -3.5
    9.96 6.46 -3.5
    11.57 8.07 -3.5
    13.18 9.68 -3.5
    14.79 11.29 -3.5
    16.39 12.89 -3.5
    If however, by a natural cause over some time, (say a century) FSin is changed, thus dFin>0 we can expect that also dFout will further increase and we have in the one equation
    dFout = dFin + Fem – Fa
    two unkowns, dFout and dFin.
    To keep the Fa=3.5 = dFin+Fem-dFout , and have the data still fit with the MLO observations, we just can change the parameterisation of the absorption equations, to choose a particular dFout. And therewith goes a change in dFin to keep the dFin+Fem-dFout = 3.5
    dFin = dFout – Fem+ Fa = dFout – 3.5
    The results of such exercises are presented in the next lines of the table, with various parameterisations of the absorption equations.
    Note that with all parameterisations dFout is always larger than dFin which is due to the raise of the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere.
    But we do not know how dFout (and dFin) is changing under the influence of other factors then just CO2 concentration in the atmosphere, e.g. local winds, ocean currents, (to and from the deep sea), and pH. (The influence of temperature changes may be marginal).
    Therefore I sustain the view of others in this discussion that the accumulation (Fa=3.5) need not be explained solely by the anthropogenic emission (Fem). A natural variation may be interfering. Ferdinand is, in my opinion, dealing with a too simple algebraic solution for one equation with two unknowns.
    By the way, it has been suggested by several people in the past that the E&E paper denies a contribution of anthropogenic emission (Fem) to the accumulation. That is a wrong interpretation. It shows clearly the case if the accumulation is solely due to Fem. But it is concluded that our knowledge of the mechanisms which determine Fin and Fout is still very limited, that current natural circulation models may be wrong, and that a natural cause may have contributed to the current concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere.
    Ferdinand sustains his view with the 13C/12C observations. He says the 13C/12C of the ocean water is too high to drop the value in the atmosphere to its observed value. If this is accepted then we have to search for another source which produces a low 13C/12C value of biological origin to explain an alternative. It may be the plankton in the ocean. The amount it holds is however, low (see his scheme, 5 GtC) but the exchange with its environment high, 50 GtC/y which is half the value which is assumed for the up welling CO2 from the deep sea (100 GtC/y) . I think there are still puzzles to be solved around de small drop of 13C/12C.
    Arthur Rörsch, The Netherlands

  413. Paul Birch says:
    August 8, 2010 at 6:43 am

    You, for example, claim that volcanos only emit 1% as much as man. This is just not true. The tectonic side of the carbon cycle has to emit on average on the order of a gigatonne of CO2 a year (from the amount of crust subducted annually at the plate margins) , which more like a quarter of the industrial emissions (from the diagram).

    Paul, there is no doubt that many natural fluxes in and out of the atmosphere are a magnitude larger than the human contribution. Even if some of the natural contributions are one-way in, others are one-way out. But that is not relevant at all for the mass balance: Even if the inflow from volcanoes tripled over the past 60 years and now is 10 times larger than the human contribution, that is fully compensated by the increase in one or more natural sinks, as the net contribution of all natural flows together, the whole natural carbon cycle, to the atmosphere was negative in the past 60 years. Thus the human emissions are fully responsible for the increase (here we differ somewhat with Slioch).

    What would have happened without human emissions is interesting (although we have a pretty good idea), as good as the difficult search of all ins and outs of the carbon cycle is very interesting, but not relevant for the current situation, as long as the increase in the atmosphere is less than what humans emitted.

  414. Paul Birch says:
    August 8, 2010 at 6:43 am

    So, you agree that “the human contribution [of CO2 to the atmosphere] is more than able to account for the entire increase” in atmospheric CO2 in recent centuries.

    Good.

    Since that human contribution DID occur and since the rise in atmospheric CO2 also DID occur, I can’t see that there is a great deal of point enquiring whether other factors could have done so also (other than from a general interest in climatic matters). It’s a bit like finding someone squashed flat by a bus and insisting that a post mortem is carried out to determine if he was about to die of a heart attack, so that you can be sure “what would have happened” if he hadn’t stepped in front of a bus.
    It begins to sound as if you have an agenda to exonerate the bus driver, as a member of the bus-driver’s union.
    It begins to sound as if you have an agenda to exonerate the role of CO2 in climate, as a member of those who deny its role in global warming.

    But let us look at the evidence of other possible sources of CO2 in the atmosphere. Ferdinand has given 8ppmv CO2/degC rise in ocean temperature: that is clearly insufficient to account for the rise, as he has explained.

    Your statements concerning tectonic (including volcanic) CO2 are in error: Both the British and US Geological Surveys give a figure of less than 300 Mtons CO2/year from such sources. That is less than 1% of human emissions.
    You suggest 1 gigaton CO2 per year to balance tectonic subduction, but provide no reference, and claim wrongly that that must be balanced by tectonic emissions: there is no such need.
    Further, estimation of emissions is from actual measurements taken in recent times. Estimates of subduction are made by estimating subduction rates, estimating composition of subducted material and averaging over geological time: that is likely to be less accurate than estimates of emissions.
    Further, 1 gigaton is NOT one quarter of human emissions: it is about 3% of emissions from fossil fuel burning (33 Gtons/year) and about 2% of total human emissions, which include land use changes and are closer to 50Gtons/year.

    Nor have tectonic CO2 emissions been “extraordinarily variable and unpredictable from year to year, or decade to decade, or century to century” in recent geological times. Just look at the Keeling curve: even Pintubo is scarcely detectable (albeit in the “wrong” direction as (I think) Ferdinand explained earlier. The CO2 curve from ice-core evidence going back 800,000 years shows no evidence of massive changes in CO2 due to volcanic activity. Nor is there any sign in the B/Ca ratios from phytoplankton that go back 20,000,000 years (Triparti et al). There is no evidence of a sudden spikes of tectonic CO2 in all that time that would have been necessary to explain the recent increase in CO2 – and I think we can be pretty sure that IF tectonic CO2 emissions had suddenly increased one hundred fold over the last century or so, we would have noticed.

    The man wasn’t about to die from a heart attack – he was squashed flat by the bus.
    The atmosphere didn’t suddenly receive a massive dose of CO2 from volcanoes and nor is it necessary to search for such a source – we humans are known to have provided all the CO2 necessary to explain the observed changes.

  415. Arthur Rörsch says:
    August 8, 2010 at 8:08 am

    Dear Arthur, thanks for your contribution…
    Here a few points where we differ in opinion:

    dFsin + Fem – dFout = Fa
    dFout = dFsin + Fem – Fa
    Ferdinand’s’ solution of this equation is that there is no change in the natural in flow (dFsin = 0)
    3.5 = 7 – 3.5 (The well know figure that half of the amount of the Fem is going out to the (deep) sea.

    First, I never said or implied that the natural inflows are invariant. I always insisted that the exact height of the fluxes or their variability is unimportant. Wat is important is that the sum of all these fluxes is negative in all cases over the past 60 years.

    To keep the Fa=3.5 = dFin+Fem-dFout , and have the data still fit with the MLO observations, we just can change the parameterisation of the absorption equations, to choose a particular dFout. And therewith goes a change in dFin to keep the dFin+Fem-dFout = 3.5
    dFin = dFout – Fem+ Fa = dFout – 3.5

    Exactly, whatever dFin, dFout must be 3.5 GtC higher. It doesn’t matter at all how high dFin is: positive, negative, smaller or 10 times larger than Fem. In all cases Fem makes the difference: an increase, as Fem is about twice the increase.

    But it is concluded that our knowledge of the mechanisms which determine Fin and Fout is still very limited, that current natural circulation models may be wrong, and that a natural cause may have contributed to the current concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere.

    The knowledge of Fin and Fout is irrelevant for the cause of the increase, as long as the emissions are larger than the increase…

    Kind regards,

    Ferdinand

  416. Here is an excercise for anyone who thinks the natural environment may have contributed to the observed rise in atmospheric CO2. Fig 1 gives some figures for the fluxes in and out of the principal reservoirs involved in the carbon cycle. The challenge is to produce a new set of figures for these fluxes such that the natural envrionment is a net source (so that all natural emissions exceeds all natural uptake from the atmosphere), but at the same time, the resulting rise in CO2 would be lower than anthropogenic emissions.

    If you argue that a natural cause is consistent with a rise less than anthropogenic emissions, you ought to be able to demonstrate that at least there exist values for the natural fluxes for which that is true. You will find it is impossible, go ahead and try.

    You can limit it to figures for fluxes into and out of the atmosphere, the internal fluxes of the other reservoirs do not affect the atmosphere other than via the external fluxes. Note also that flux values must be positive, the arrow shows the direction of the flux.

  417. I really have a hard time understanding why this argument continues.

    It’s a no-brainer. Man extracts fossil fuels which contain carbon that’s been locked up in sinks for millennium and then pumps it into the atmosphere, resulting in an increased level of carbon in the atmosphere.
    It’s like depositing $1000 into your bank account every week and only withdrawing $1000 a month and then denying the increased balance is due to your deposits. Absurd.

  418. Dear Ferdinand,
    First of all I agree with you that it is unlikely that the net effect of current annual fluctuations in Fa over the last decennia have been significantly contributing to the observed MLO rise.
    The annual fluctuations in Fa just show that in principle fluctuations occur.
    But what we are considering is the change of the CO2 cycles over longer periods, parts of centuries. The idea behind the assumption that the human emission is not the sole cause for the current high level of CO2 in the atmosphere , is that over a period of several centuries the major CO2 cycle changed, and probably with some exceptional bursts around 1930-1940 and earlier in the 19the century, as proposed by Ernst Beck from his analyses of the old (chemical) data. I do not appreciate your continued (spastic) neglect of these data as a possibility to explain why CO2 content of the atmosphere increased. I am not saying that Beck provides ‘proof’ . He just provides observations that may make us change our minds how and why CO2 is accumulating at its current rate.
    I insist on my conclusion that your simple solution of one equation with two variables is in principle invalid. And it hinders further investigation of other possibilities how CO2 flows may have changed over centuries by a prejudice it has not . Named by Richard Courtney a circular argument.
    I have great difficulties to accept your response to ‘my’ possible solutions of the one equation with two unknowns.

  419. Slioch says:
    August 8, 2010 at 8:52 am “…”

    It would be pointless trying to engage in a discussion about details when you cannot see the fundamental fallacies in your basic arguments. For example, no one can directly measure or observe the total amount of CO2 released by volcanos, so any “estimate”, from whatever august body, is and can be no more than a guess. If any subducted CO2 were not being ultimately re-emitted, this would mean that there was a hole in the carbon cycle, the mass would not be constant, and the mass balance equation would be in error. I would agree with you that industrial emissions amount to ~30Gt/yr (I lazily took the OP diagram figure – which seems rather low – and forgot to convert from C to CO2). However, the extreme variability of vulcanism – up to dinosaur-killing supervolcanos – is well known. Your claims to the contrary are just repetitions of the same fundamental attribution fallacy that you, Dikram and Ferdinand have been promoting all along.

  420. Arthur Rörsch:

    If natural long term changes in carbon cycle were causing the rise in atmospheric CO2, that would be revealed by the mass balance argument as the observed rise would then be greater in magnitude than anthropogenic emissions. This is because both man and the natural environment would be contributing to the rise, that is simply an application of conservation of mass. However, observations show that this is not the case (at least for the last fifty years, as shown by the data in figure 3 of the OP). As a result, even though we don’t know what changes have been going on in individual parts of the carbon cycle, we don know that the total environmental flux into the atmosphere must be less than the environmental uptake from the atmosphere.

  421. Dear all,
    Ferdinand promises a part two to sustain his conclusion that current rise in CO2 is solely due to anthropogenic emissions. I guess he will in particular explain the observations on 13C/12C ratio changes. I think he is an expert in this field. Therefore I propose we consider his interpretation of the data with an open mind. I am prepared to do so, if he does not bluff his way from the beginning with the prejudice that the burning of fossil fuels is the sole reason for the decline 13C/12C ratio.(The circular argument).
    Let’s have a closer look again why other processes may have contributed to the decline and why Ferdinand excludes these other possibilities.
    Please note I respect Ferdinand expert knowledge of CO2 cycles but I do doubt his logic reasoning to interpret these.

  422. Paul Birch says:
    August 8, 2010 at 10:36 am

    However, the extreme variability of vulcanism – up to dinosaur-killing supervolcanos – is well known.

    Paul, if the vulcanism increased suddenly up to 300 times the current estimate, that is three times the current human emissions, and everything else remained constant (including sink rates), what would the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere do?

    I suppose that you agree that the total increase at the end of the first year would be:
    8 GtC (emissions) + 24 GtC (volcanic) – 4 GtC (current sink rate) = 28 GtC increase in the atmosphere.

    Simply based on the mass balance, it is made clear that something happened in the natural carbon cycle and that the increase is not solely from the emissions anymore. The increase then is 1/4th from human emissions and 3/4th from the increase in volcanic activity.

    The fact that there was no increase larger than the emissions in the last 60 to 100 years shows that there was no change in the net carbon cycle larger than the contribution of human emissions.

  423. Arthur Rörsch wrote:

    “Therefore I propose we consider his interpretation of the data with an open mind. I am prepared to do so, if he does not bluff his way from the beginning with the prejudice that the burning of fossil fuels is the sole reason for the decline 13C/12C ratio.”

    Seriously chaps, can we do without the rhetoric?

    I am willing to accept that there is a natural cause for the observed rise in atmospheric CO2 provided you can explain why if that is so, the observed rise is lower than anthropogenic emissions, and has been for the last fifty years.

  424. Arthur Rörsch says:
    August 8, 2010 at 10:35 am

    The idea behind the assumption that the human emission is not the sole cause for the current high level of CO2 in the atmosphere , is that over a period of several centuries the major CO2 cycle changed, and probably with some exceptional bursts around 1930-1940 and earlier in the 19the century, as proposed by Ernst Beck from his analyses of the old (chemical) data. I do not appreciate your continued (spastic) neglect of these data as a possibility to explain why CO2 content of the atmosphere increased. I am not saying that Beck provides ‘proof’ . He just provides observations that may make us change our minds how and why CO2 is accumulating at its current rate.

    Dear Arthur, you know what I think about the historical data, but that will be for one of the next parts, as that certainly will start a flame war, where this discussion is very civilised… And I need to look at Ernst’s newest additions.

    History indeed shows large swings, but in average, over the past few million years (highly smoothed) a rather modest change in CO2 after temperature changes. No extreme events visible (a change of 10 ppmv sustained over 600 years, or 100 ppmv over 60 years, would even be noticed in the Vostok ice core), CO2 follows temperature with an astonishly linear rate…

    I insist on my conclusion that your simple solution of one equation with two variables is in principle invalid.

    It would be invalid if both variables were near independent of each other, but the two variables are very close to each other:

    dFout – dFin < 8 GtC over the past 50+ years.

    whatever the real height of dFout or dFsin. Thus the error margin is not higher than the height of the human emissions…

  425. Frank Lansner says:
    August 8, 2010 at 7:51 am
    Ferdinand

    I said:”What CO2-compound is included in nDIC besides the carbonates that are in equilibrium with Co2? We are talking about upper ocean layers and thus carbonates sedimenting is not in question.

    Ferdinand: “Carbonate sedimentation may be one of the culprits, as mentioned by Julian Flood. ”

    but Ferdinand.. (!!) Carbonates sedimenting OUT is removed from the CO2 pool! Thats why pCO2 is a useful indicater of CO2 in oceans.

    Carbonate sedimentation by coccoliths is a reaction with bicarbonates, which forms carbonate (part of which sinks to the ocean floor) and CO2. Thus while bicarbonate is used and carbonate drops out (reducing DIC, total carbon in solution), that also increases pCO2.
    Here we see the opposite: pCO2 stagnates and DIC still increases. That may be a result of less biological activity… See further the very nice pages about coccoliths:

    http://www.noc.soton.ac.uk/soes/staff/tt/eh/index.html

    That also means that the pCO2 – DIC relationship is not linear in this case, but also not linear with increasing CO2 absortion in the oceans: the increase of pCO2(aq) in the oceans more or less follows the increase of pCO2(atm) in the atmosphere with a small lag. But the increase of DIC in general is only 10% of the increase rate of pCO2(aq) (except for the last decade). That is because of the shift in equilibrium between free CO2, bicarbonate and carbonate in solution, due to pH changes as result of the uptake of CO2. In the period 1984-2004, pCO2(atm) increased about 10%, pCO2(aq) increased about 8%, but DIC only increased 0.8% of the range.

    Thus one can’t use pCO2(aq) to know the total increase or decrease of carbon in the upper ocean level, without knowledge of any of the other items…

  426. DearDikran.
    I am afraid you do not understand the fact that any explanation how CO2 is accumulating in the atmosphere requires parameterisation of the adsorption equation anyway (To match with MLO) . Even if the assumption is that the sole contributor is the human emission. Any supposed contribution of natural interference will just lead to an other parameterisation. Please read the E&E paper and then indicate the possible flaws in it
    Yes, let’s consider the case without rhetoric
    Sorry if a misread your comment in another way.

  427. Arthur Rörsch:

    “I am afraid you do not understand the fact that any explanation how CO2 is accumulating in the atmosphere requires parameterisation of the adsorption equation anyway (To match with MLO) .”

    No that is not the case, only a simple bit of accountancy is required, if the observed rise is less than anthropogenic emissions then for conservation of mass, the natural environment must take in more CO2 than it emits. That would be true regardless of the mechansims involved. You don’t need to parameterise anything, you just need data and the rest follows from conservation of mass.

    “Even if the assumption is that the sole contributor is the human emission.”

    No such assumtion is being made by the mass balance argument (just making that clear)

    “Any supposed contribution of natural interference will just lead to an other parameterisation. ”

    “Please read the E&E paper and then indicate the possible flaws in it”

    The flaw (if it questions the anthropogenic origin of the recent increases) is that if the natural environment were a source the observed rise then the rise would be greater than anthropogenic emissions. Of course it is possble for natural mechanisms to give rise to increased atmospheric CO2, the point is that the mass balance argument shows that while this is possible, it isn’t actually taking place.

    I gave a challenge earlier in the thread to invent values of the fluxes in Fig 1 that end up with a rise that is lower than anthropogenic emissions, but where the natural environment is a net source. Give it a go, you will find that it is impossible.

  428. Arthur Rörsch:

    I have read the abstract of your paper (E&E isn’t open access – so I can’t get the full paper). The aims of that paper are far more general than the aims of the mass balance argument. It is perfectly reasonable to say that the uncertainties are too high to estimate the individual fluxes (e.g. ocean to atmosphere) with an accuracy commensurate to the magnitude of anthropogenic emissions. However, it is not necessary to accurately characterise individual fluxes to know that the natural environment is a net sink. We do not compute the net flux by taking the difference between the sum of all input fluxes and the sum of all output fluxes, because there is a second way to work it out. If you assume conservation of mass, the net flux must be equal to the difference between the observed rise and antropogenic emissions. As the observed rise and anthropogenic emissions are known with good certainty, the net environmental flux is known with high certainty, even though we don’t know any of the component fluxes.

  429. Friends:

    Having left this discussion but continuing to observe it, I write to express my delight at observing that Arthur Rorsch has joined the debate.

    Arthur is probably the most open-minded scientist it has been my privilege to be associated with since I first became profesionally involved in the practice of scientific research in the mid 1960s.

    If anyone can cut through the ‘Gordion knot’ that has tied this debate to a standstill of opposing views then he can.

    Richard

  430. Far be it from me to presume to mediate, but it is one of my vocations. A most fabulous post and discussion. All commenters are to be applauded for the civility of the discourse. True peer review is in evidence. Both sides have stated their positions quite clearly for all to consider.

    Science, however, is not a democracy. It only takes one vote to win. That vote is the Truth. When Truth casts its vote, science adapts and moves on. I think truth is about to cast its vote on this issue. Why? Because both sides are still listening to each other. Maybe unwillingly, but they are listening. We have Anthony and WUWT to thank for this. An idea whose time has come! Science and human endeavor can only benefit from this approach. And the conclusion/solution/resolution will be documented for posterity (until the next asteroid stike anyway (but maybe we’ll quickly figure out how to deflect the asteroid!?)).

    I humbly suggest that we move to Part 2.

    Ralph Dwyer

  431. Richard S Courtney,

    I am glad to see you come back too. I wish I could have continued our discussion at Jo Nova’s site but she filters all my posts now.

    I enjoy seeing you try to rebut anything that might suggest CO2 is warming the planet no matter what the evidence.

    To see how you argue that our emissions are inconsequential because natural variation is an order of magnitude larger is just amazing! (although perhaps not for the reasons you might be thinking) ;)

    But I have to agree, just because we’re emitting more CO2 than ever before doesn’t mean it’s ours up there in the atmosphere. Although it might seem that way, because our emissions are always a positive contribution whilst natural variation seems to be close to balanced, you can’t tell for sure without looking at other evidence.

    Perhaps the fact that CO2 hasn’t been this high for at least a few hundred thousand years adds a bit more weight to the argument. The 14C/12C ratio also seems to go against your desires.

    I look forward to hearing your thoughts on these!!

    “… add nothing to available knowledge concerning what I want to know.” <– at least you're open minded. ;)

  432. Ralph Dwyer says:
    August 8, 2010 at 6:33 pm

    I humbly suggest that we move to Part 2.

    I agree that most is said and the different points of view are clearly stated. I am a little in doubt if I would discuss the reliability of ice cores, other proxies and historical data first, before more fundamental items, as these pop up frequently in all debates.

    Anyway, herewith I thank Anthony for the opportunity to debate this controversial item within the sceptic’s world with a lot of interested (and interesting) people. This kind of debate seems impossible in “consensus” world…

    REPLY: that is the highest complement anyone could make for this forum, thank you. – Anthony

  433. Ferdinand, whilst a discussion of ice core, stomatal and historic measurements would cause a huge firestorm of discussion I think it is important to do so. One of the issues at the heart of the present debate over the mass balance approach is the hypothesis that CO2 levels have fluctuated rapidly in the recent, historic past, and that we cannot trust the ice core measurements.

    I am sure the ice core measurements for the most part are robust and, given corrections for gas age, are consistent with the modern IR measurements at, for example, Hawaii. I’m not sure how the historic measurements fit in, but suspect they may be affected by local effects associated with photosynthesis and plant respiration. You have to move a considerable distance away from vegetation, either vertically or horizontally to minimise these effects.

    Having said this, however, I would be very happy to see a wider discussion.

    Many thanks for setting down clearly your views for others to talk about.

  434. Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
    August 8, 2010 at 11:48 am
    “Paul, if the vulcanism increased suddenly up to 300 times the current estimate, that is three times the current human emissions, and everything else remained constant (including sink rates), what would the increase of CO2 in the atmosphere do?”

    We do not know. It depends, first, upon when this increase occurred, how rapid the increase was, and how long it lasted. Second, it depends upon where this increase occurred, how rapidly it was distributed and how far it went. Third, it depends upon what reaction there was to the increase on the part of all the other components of the carbon cycle system (including the human components). Your assumption that everything else remained constant is a nonsense.

    So when you say: “I suppose that you agree that the total increase at the end of the first year would be:
    8 GtC (emissions) + 24 GtC (volcanic) – 4 GtC (current sink rate) = 28 GtC increase in the atmosphere.”
    my answer is NO, this is a non sequitur, the same error that dogs your whole thesis.

  435. I have to wonder whether Ferdinand & Co are Georgists, because their arguments are almost perfect parallels. The mass-balance argument is almost identical to the notoriously fallacious argument by which Henry George “proved” that Rent on Land was to blame for all the evils of the world. They debate like Georgists too. Hard-pressed, they slide away into slightly different claims, subtle shifts of meaning, or endless appeals to irrelevant details, thereby avoiding the immediate charge, then, when the pressure is released, slide back again to the old fallacy. All this is the sign of a “crank” doctrine, not science. It’s not the original conjecture that’s unscientific – it might even be substantially correct – but the manner in which it is believed and defended. Unfortunately, even the hard evidence that might provide good confirmation or disconfirmation of the theory is then filtered through the veil of the underlying logical error, and so becomes worthless, confusing and confounding rather than enlightening.

  436. Paul Birch,

    I’m trying really hard to understand the difficulty others are having with the mass balance argument posited by Ferdinand Engelbeen here. Leaving that aside for the while there are other empirical data to which we have recourse. Namely measurements of the oxygen level of the atmosphere, 14-C systematics and 13C/12C stable isotope ratios. The results of the mass balance model, namely that the modern rise in atmospheric CO2 can be attributed to anthropogenic inputs with approximately 50% of these being taken up by oceanic and other sinks, is consistent with these other observations. I’m not sure if there exists, and certainly have never seen any other explanation that is consistent with all these empirical observations. Can you point me to any?

    I’m open to being proved wrong on this but I suggest that Ferdinand and Dikran have stated the mass balance argument with absolute clarity and have been steadfast in their defence of it without recourse to sophistry of any kind.

  437. Paul Birch wrote:

    “I have to wonder whether Ferdinand & Co are Georgists, because their arguments are almost perfect parallels. The mass-balance argument is almost identical to the notoriously fallacious argument by which Henry George “proved” that Rent on Land was to blame for all the evils of the world. They debate like Georgists too. Hard-pressed, they slide away into slightly different claims, subtle shifts of meaning, or endless appeals to irrelevant details, thereby avoiding the immediate charge, then, when the pressure is released, slide back again to the old fallacy.”

    Actually, no the claim is exactly as stated througout the thread. The mass balance argument established the the net environmental contribution to theobserved rise is negative. That has not changed one iota, simply because it is true (unless somehow conservation of mass is violated).

    No additional details have been introduced (although Ferdinand and I have answered points made by the opposing side of the argument when they have arisen).

    ” All this is the sign of a “crank” doctrine, not science. It’s not the original conjecture that’s unscientific – it might even be substantially correct – but the manner in which it is believed and defended.”

    It is rather a pity that after Ferdinand complemented the manner in which the discussion had been conducted that you choose that point to suggest that those who oppose your position are “cranks” and non-scientific.

    “Unfortunately, even the hard evidence that might provide good confirmation or disconfirmation of the theory is then filtered through the veil of the underlying logical error, and so becomes worthless, confusing and confounding rather than enlightening.”

    Blah blah blah.

    I have twice now given a challenge to those who assert that the rise can be natural in origin to specify values for the fluxes comprising the carbon cycle such that the net contribution of the natural environment is positive AND such that the resulting rise in atmospheric concentrations is less than anthropogenic emissions. Never mind the uncertainty of specific fluxes, such a scenario is numerically impossible assuming conservation of mass. Go ahead prove me wrong.

    That is a purely scientific approach (according to Popper). I have stated exactly how you can falsify the hypothesis, all you have to do is choose about a dozen positive numbers. I don’t even require that they should be realistic of the real carbon cycle, just demonstrate that it is numerically possible.

  438. Ferdinand and Dikram,

    Your hypothesis is not valid. The division of emissions into human and natural is false. Many human emissions of could be considered natural. They have replaced and could be replaced by what we call natural emissions.

    For example, people burn wood, if it had not been collected by a man it would still have burned, or been eaten by termites. Then it would be according to your carbon cycle, a natural emission.

    Your carbon cycle is faulty, leads to wrong conclusions and allows you to argue in circles

  439. Roger,

    “Your hypothesis is not valid. The division of emissions into human and natural is false. Many human emissions of could be considered natural. They have replaced and could be replaced by what we call natural emissions.”

    Respectfully, you are wrong here. The division is not between human and natural. What you are calling human is actually based on the fossil fuel inventory and does not include the burning of, for example, wood. This would be classed as a natural, or environmental input.

    After much thought I think the debate focuses on one aspect. Those who don’t agree with Ferdinand and Dikram’s analysis are implicitly posing a question about the possibility of “anthropogenic sinks” that are not being accounted for. It is implicit in Ferdinand’s and Dikram’s analysis that such sinks are not significant.

    There is empirical evidence for this if one analyses the oxygen content of the atmosphere as a function of CO2 content. Here we can identify the key sinks for the excess CO2 as being oceanic dissolution and photosynthesis. There is no evidence of a hitherto unnoticed anthropogenic sink.

    I think Dikram possibly pointed this out earlier but need to go back through all the contributions to be sure.

  440. Roger Clague: Anthropogenic land use changes form part of anthropogenic emissions, which includes deforestation. So if old-growth forests are cut down for firewood, that IS included already in anthropogenic emissions. If it isn’t old-growth forest (i.e. it is “farmed” and is replaced) then there is no net long term contribution.

    In old growth forests the CO2 released by termites or forest fires is balanced by CO2 taken in by new growth. However if you cut down the forest for firewood, there is no new growth to balance the emissions.

    HTH

  441. Dear Paul Birch,
    You say about George Engelbeen, “that the doctrine may even be substantially correct”. I am inclined to say so too. With a chosen parameterisation of the equations for absorption from the atmosphere all three models we used, match with the MLO data over the period 1959-2000, if we assume that the anthropogenic emission is the sole cause of the gradual CO2 increase in the atmosphere over this period. But here starts the circular argument. If the parameterisation is not correct, because another source is contributing, than the doctrine does not hold. And with IPCC reasoning and use of parameterisation with models in our mind, we have to be very careful about the use of any model.
    Next Dikran Marsupial is correct that de environmental contribution to the observed rise is negative. But he is not correct that any other unbalance, caused by the contribution of another source, would be a violation of the law of mass conservation. I have shown that in the table of my previous post.
    dFout dFin dFin-dFout
    3.50 0.00 -3.5
    5.14 1.64 -3.5
    6.75 3.25 -3.5
    8.36 4.86 -3.5
    9.96 6.46 -3.5
    11.57 8.07 -3.5
    13.18 9.68 -3.5
    14.79 11.29 -3.5
    16.39 12.89 -3.5
    (The values for dFin above 0 represent the contribution of an (hypothetical) additional source to maintain the same value for dFin and dFout.)
    Question: why are we interested in the investigation of a possibility of an additional source? The answer for me is, because we want to understand better the variability of CO2 cycles over longer periods than decennia. I am not really interested in the question whether the current CO2 rise is only Man-made. If it is, the atmosphere is than probably the safest and most useful place to store it in a diluted form.

    PS I noted that if I transfer text from the blog into a Microsoft Word document, it appears in the letter type Giorgia. May be we are considered to be all Giorgists. Or are blog discussions by definition Giorgism?

  442. Roger Clague says:
    August 9, 2010 at 5:29 am
    Ferdinand and Dikram,

    Your hypothesis is not valid. The division of emissions into human and natural is false. Many human emissions of could be considered natural. They have replaced and could be replaced by what we call natural emissions.

    For example, people burn wood, if it had not been collected by a man it would still have burned, or been eaten by termites. Then it would be according to your carbon cycle, a natural emission.

    As already said somewhere in the 400+ reactions here: wood burning or food eating by humans is not considered as contributing to the human emissions, as the carbon contained in it was captured from the atmosphere in previous months/years.

    It is the burning of fossil fuels, buried many millions of years ago in a quite different atmosphere, which makes the difference: that adds one-way to the current atmosphere, without fast compensation.

  443. Paul Birch says:
    August 9, 2010 at 3:32 am

    my answer is NO, this is a non sequitur, the same error that dogs your whole thesis.

    You simply are avoiding a straight answer.

    Please show us, as Dikran asked, that one can have a real contribution of nature to the increase in the atmosphere while the net result is less than the human emissions.

  444. Dikran Marsupial says:
    August 9, 2010 at 6:02 am

    In old growth forests the CO2 released by termites or forest fires is balanced by CO2 taken in by new growth. However if you cut down the forest for firewood, there is no new growth to balance the emissions.

    Indeed, forgot to include land use changes of old growth forests: these are normally in break-even or slighltly sinks for CO2. If you cut them whithout new growth or agriculture only (decreased carbon storage), that should be included in the emissions…

  445. Dear Ferdinand,
    Did not I provide the answer on the ‘balance?
    Note a mistyping in my previous post
    (The values for dFin above 0 represent the contribution of an (hypothetical) additional source to maintain the same value for dFin and dFout.)
    Should read with a minus sign:
    (The values for dFin above 0 represent the contribution of an (hypothetical) additional source to maintain the same value for dFin – dFout.)

  446. Arthur Rörsch says:
    August 9, 2010 at 6:03 am

    Dear Arthur,

    I was thinking a little further about your “two unknown” variables in your comments:

    In fact there is only one unknown variable, as your own list of possibilities shows: the difference between the two unknowns is known, thus the knowledge of the input (or change in input) automatically fixes the output or reverse (for each year in the past 50 years).

    Further, the absolute height of the input (or the output) doesn’t influence the total amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. It is the difference between the two which is important, as any change in the sum of the inputs must be compensated by an equal change in the sum of the outputs to obey the mass balance for a given year.

    What you are doing is looking at an increase of the inputs as “extra” input and separate that from the equally large increase in outputs.

    Any increase in one of the natural inputs indeed adds to the total mass of inputs, but doesn’t add to the total amount in the atmosphere, as long as the outputs need to increase with the same amount…

  447. Arthur Rörsch says:
    August 9, 2010 at 6:03 am

    With a chosen parameterisation of the equations for absorption from the atmosphere all three models we used, match with the MLO data over the period 1959-2000, if we assume that the anthropogenic emission is the sole cause of the gradual CO2 increase in the atmosphere over this period. But here starts the circular argument. If the parameterisation is not correct, because another source is contributing, than the doctrine does not hold.

    The mass balance doesn’t include any parameterisation and must hold for any combination of inflows and outflows and changes thereof. If you start with parameterisations, then indeed you are getting on thin ice…

  448. Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
    August 9, 2010 at 6:15 am
    Paul Birch says: “my answer is NO, this is a non sequitur, the same error that dogs your whole thesis.”
    Ferdinand says: “You simply are avoiding a straight answer. ”

    The straight answer is NO. There could not be a straighter answer.

    “Please show us, as Dikran asked, that one can have a real contribution of nature to the increase in the atmosphere while the net result is less than the human emissions.”

    I’ve answered that many times over, both directly and through simple analogies using water flows.

    There is “a real contribution to nature to the increase in the atmosphere while the net result is less than human emissions” if the atmospheric concentration would still have risen in the absence of human emissions. You yourself have admitted that this would have happened to some extent, as a consequence of the temperature rise over that period. How much is a quantitative question that depends up details of the various reservoir sizes, mixing rates, heat capacities and temperature dependences of the various solubilities, chemical equilibria and biological responses.

    The level of water in a lake is determined by the amount of rainfall. The level of water in a drain is determined by the level of water in the lake, and thus by the amount of rainfall. The level of water in the drain is not determined by the quantity of water poured down it by a factory – not even if the increase in volume of water in the drain is less than the amount of water poured into it. The drain is the atmosphere. The lake is the other CO2 reservoirs, like the oceans, biosphere and sea floor. Rainfall is all the non-anthropogenic sources (note that it makes no difference to the argument if some of the rainfall goes down the drain, as well as the factory output).

  449. Paul Dennis says:
    August 9, 2010 at 4:38 am
    “Paul Birch, I’m trying really hard to understand the difficulty others are having with the mass balance argument posited by Ferdinand Engelbeen here. Leaving that aside for the while there are other empirical data to which we have recourse. ”

    Unfortunately, such empirical data are worthless while the debate continues to be framed on the basis of a fundamental logical error. Through that prejudicial error, the whole analysis has a built-in dogma that assumes the very conclusion to be tested.

  450. So a short summary of how human CO2 has been claimed to cause all the rise.

    * The average increase of 2 ppmv of CO2 over period measured by instruments.
    * This calculates to a 4 GtC on a yearly basis.
    * With 8 GtC emissions from humans thats means 4 GtC are missing.
    * The oceans absorbed the missing 4 Gtc because we can’t find them.
    * Bingo and conclusion, all the rise in emissions in the atmosphere are from humans.

    No consideration of any natural changes in gasous exchange of CO2 over the period whats so ever because these are persumed to stay the same.

    Is this just me (obviously not) or this idea scientifically flawed and not how science should be examined and anaylised?

  451. Arthur Rörsch writes:

    “Next Dikran Marsupial is correct that de environmental contribution to the observed rise is negative. ”

    I really don’t understand how someone can agree that the net envrionmental contribution to the rise is negative (i.e. the environment has been removing more CO2 than it puts in) and yet not accept that the natural environment therefore cannot be a cause of the rise. However, agreement on the fact that the net contribution to the rise is negative is a major step forward in the discussion.

    “But he is not correct that any other unbalance, caused by the contribution of another source, would be a violation of the law of mass conservation.”

    No, that is not correct. It would only be a violation of the law of conservation of mass for the envrionment to make a positive net contribution to the rise IF the observed rise is less than anthropogenic emissions.

    If the observed rise was greater than anthropogenic emissions, the mass balance argument would indicate that both man and the natural environment were contributing to the rise. But that is not what the observations show.

    The key point is, that the uncertainty on the magnitudes of the environmental fluxes do not affect the mass balance argument. The net environmental contribution is computed from the observed rise and anthropogenic emissions, using the principle of conservation of mass. This means the uncertainty of the estimate of the net contribution depends on the uncertainty of the observed atmospheric CO2 levels and of anthropogenic emissions, NOT the uncertainties of our estimates of the magnitudes of the environmental fluxes.

  452. Paul Birch says:
    August 9, 2010 at 8:12 am

    I’ve answered that many times over, both directly and through simple analogies using water flows.

    There is “a real contribution to nature to the increase in the atmosphere while the net result is less than human emissions” if the atmospheric concentration would still have risen in the absence of human emissions. You yourself have admitted that this would have happened to some extent, as a consequence of the temperature rise over that period.

    That is the fundamental difference in our opinions:
    The temperature would have increased the CO2 level in absence of human emissions. But it didn’t, because there were human emissions which were much larger than the observed increase (except for the period 1850-1900). What Arthur, Richard and you do, is looking at (extra) natural inputs separated from the outputs and assume that these add to the increase. In that case all inputs are equal and human emissions are peanuts compared to the natural inputs.

    But that is a wrong comparison: human emissions are hardly influenced by human sinks, while natural inputs are more than compensated by natural sinks. One need to compare the net contribution of humans with the net contribution of nature…

    The level of water in a lake is determined by the amount of rainfall. The level of water in a drain is determined by the level of water in the lake, and thus by the amount of rainfall. The level of water in the drain is not determined by the quantity of water poured down it by a factory – not even if the increase in volume of water in the drain is less than the amount of water poured into it.

    Sorry, that is completely wrong: as long as there is some resistance in the pipeline between the drain and the lake, both the level in the lake (influenced by rainfall) and the quantity added by the factory will affect the level in the drain, as any process engineer can tell you.

    The drain is the atmosphere. The lake is the other CO2 reservoirs, like the oceans, biosphere and sea floor. Rainfall is all the non-anthropogenic sources (note that it makes no difference to the argument if some of the rainfall goes down the drain, as well as the factory output).

    As long as there is a time factor in the uptake of extra CO2 from the atmosphere into other reservoirs (as is the case for both deep oceans and vegetation), then both the natural and anthro sources and sinks will influence the CO2 level in the atmosphere. In the case that the increase in the atmosphere is less than the net human emissions, then the net contribution of the natural exchanges is negative…

  453. Mat G: The result stems from an application of the principle of conservation of mass to the observations. The principle of conservation of mass is very widely used in science, added to which it is intuitively obvious.

    Now if you don’t think the excess anthropogenic carbon (the part that doesn’t end up in the atmospher) isn’t taken up by the natural environment (not just the oceans), then can you explain where it has gone?

    If you think the argument is incorrect, a counter example would be the easiest way to prove it. Just give a set of positive values for the fluxes shown in figure 1, for which (i) the natural environment makes a positive net contribution and (ii) the resulting rise in atmospheric CO2 (assuming conservation of mass) is less than anthropogenic emissions. This is now the fourth time I have made that challenge – no takers so far, but I have an open mind, all I need is a correct counter-example to make me change it.

  454. Matt G says:
    August 9, 2010 at 8:50 am

    So a short summary of how human CO2 has been claimed to cause all the rise.

    * The average increase of 2 ppmv of CO2 over period measured by instruments.
    * This calculates to a 4 GtC on a yearly basis.
    * With 8 GtC emissions from humans thats means 4 GtC are missing.
    * The oceans absorbed the missing 4 Gtc because we can’t find them.
    * Bingo and conclusion, all the rise in emissions in the atmosphere are from humans.

    Right.

    No consideration of any natural changes in gasous exchange of CO2 over the period whats so ever because these are persumed to stay the same.

    Wrong: the net natural changes over the same period are reasonably known, see the green part of Fig. 3 in the introduction. In all years negative, with a variability of about +/- 1 ppmv (2 GtC) around the trend.

    Is this just me (obviously not) or this idea scientifically flawed and not how science should be examined and anaylised?

    It is not an “idea”, it is a simple calculation of the mass balance of CO2 in the atmosphere.
    As long as nature acts as an active sink for a part of the human emissions, the human emissions are the only source of the increase…

  455. Paul Birch says:
    August 9, 2010 at 8:20 am
    Paul Dennis says:
    August 9, 2010 at 4:38 am
    “Paul Birch, I’m trying really hard to understand the difficulty others are having with the mass balance argument posited by Ferdinand Engelbeen here. Leaving that aside for the while there are other empirical data to which we have recourse. ”

    Unfortunately, such empirical data are worthless while the debate continues to be framed on the basis of a fundamental logical error. Through that prejudicial error, the whole analysis has a built-in dogma that assumes the very conclusion to be tested.

    Paul, I couldn’t disagree with you more. Any interpretation of the empirical data has to satisfy the observations. As I understand it the mass balance model as presented by Ferdinand and Dikram is correct, without any logical inconsistencies. Moreover, it is also consistent with the other observations I outlined.

    We may argue about the magnitude of the different fluxes to and from the ocean, the biosphere etc. however the observational data shows the combined sink flux to be somewhat greater than the combined natural inputs. Surely this is the key observation.

  456. Matt G says:
    August 9, 2010 at 8:50 am
    So a short summary of how human CO2 has been claimed to cause all the rise.

    * The average increase of 2 ppmv of CO2 over period measured by instruments.
    * This calculates to a 4 GtC on a yearly basis.
    * With 8 GtC emissions from humans thats means 4 GtC are missing.
    * The oceans absorbed the missing 4 Gtc because we can’t find them.
    * Bingo and conclusion, all the rise in emissions in the atmosphere are from humans.

    No consideration of any natural changes in gasous exchange of CO2 over the period whats so ever because these are persumed to stay the same.

    Is this just me (obviously not) or this idea scientifically flawed and not how science should be examined and anaylised?

    The mass balance doesn’t presume the natural excahnges to be invariant. It demonstrates that the size of the natural sink is greater than the size of the natural inputs.

    Moreover, if you look at the data for oxyegn content of the atmosphere as a function of the CO2 level you can determine that the 4Gt is not ‘missing’ but is adsorbed by the ocean (2Gt) and taken up by photosynthesis (2Gt).

    I repeat that any model has to account for a variety of empirical data.

  457. Sorry Ferdinand,
    You asked for a simple answer why in my opinion your simple statement on the balance is invalid. I produced it, even when you want to forget about parameterisation. But you did not respond to my simple calculation. The parameterization is useful because it takes in account not one year, but a whole range of years of observations between 1959-2000. Therewith it holds for any combination of inflows and outflows and changes thereof (your quote)
    You say: “In fact there is only one unknown variable, as your own list of possibilities shows: the difference between the two unknowns is known, thus the knowledge of the input (or change in input) automatically fixes the output or reverse (for each year in the past 50 years).
    Further, the absolute height of the input (or the output) doesn’t influence the total amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. It is the difference between the two which is important, as any change in the sum of the inputs must be compensated by an equal change in the sum of the outputs to obey the mass balance for a given year”.
    I am of the opinion that you are talking nonsense here. (Excusé le mot). And especially a sentence in a later post: “As long as nature acts as an active sink for a part of the human emissions, the human emissions are the only source of the increase “Am I dumb, or you?
    Have not I shown a material balance that satisfied the law of conservation of mass? Please give a straight forward answer.
    By the way, I think there are in your balance three variables we do not know sufficiently accurate. The Fout we can approach with a theoretical consideration of the absorption equations. (Several people have done that before, e.g. Albeck in Finland, a process engineer) Which we have to parameterize to fit with de MLO data. We know very little about the Sin (from the ocean) . Most of it is a guess, but Ernst Beck will come up with some new data from ship expeditions. But I also dare to doubt the value for the human emission Fem. It is ‘calculated’ in Oak Ridge but it relies strongly on information provided by governments. What trust do we have in data provided by China, India, Indonesia?

  458. Arthur Rörsch says:
    August 9, 2010 at 10:22 am

    Dear Arthur, let’s have a detailed look at the results of your formula:

    dFout dFin dFin-dFout
    3.50 0.00 -3.5
    5.14 1.64 -3.5
    6.75 3.25 -3.5
    8.36 4.86 -3.5
    9.96 6.46 -3.5
    11.57 8.07 -3.5
    13.18 9.68 -3.5
    14.79 11.29 -3.5
    16.39 12.89 -3.5

    I have no problems with the formula at all. For me (and the mass balance) even:
    1003.5 1000 -3.5
    fits the equation.

    Does that mean that the extra input has increased the total mass of CO2 into the atmosphere with 1,000 GtC extra? Of course not, the net atmospheric increase caused by the extra input flow is zero, as that is fully compensated by the exact same increase in outflow as the difference between the two must remain the same as calculated for a given year. The -3.5 GtC is the only figure that really influences the CO2 levels. It doesn’t matter how much the inputs and outputs were or changed over the years: the difference between the two is known for the past 50 years. And moderately variable but always negative. A negative difference in natural inflows and outflows only removes CO2 from the atmosphere, doesn’t add anything in CO2 mass.

    Of course, emission figure from countries like China, India and Indonesia are less trustwhorthy than from Western countries. But in general, the figures may be more underestimated (under the counter sales, spills, flares,…) than overestimated.

  459. Arthur Rörsch writes

    “Further, the absolute height of the input (or the output) doesn’t influence the total amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. It is the difference between the two which is important, as any change in the sum of the inputs must be compensated by an equal change in the sum of the outputs to obey the mass balance for a given year”.
    I am of the opinion that you are talking nonsense here. (Excusé le mot).

    I suspect you have misunderstood Ferdinand here, all he is saying is the change in atmosheric CO2 is equal to the difference between total emissions and total uptake. Assuming conservation of mass, that is a rather obvious statement, and it is difficult to see how it could be doubted. I gave several examples earlier in the thread demonstrating this to be the case.

    Consider a scenario where total emissions were 10 GtC per year and total uptake 9 GtC per year, the annual rise would then be 1GtC. Now consider a second scenario where total emissions are 10,000 GtC per yer and total uptake is 9,999 GtC per year; the annual rise is still 1 GtC per year, even though the flux values are three orders of magnitude greater. This is because the change in atmospheric CO2 depends only on the difference between total fluxes and not on their magnitudes.

  460. Thanks for the replies.

    I want to make it clear that by the statement below I didn’t mean none included full stop. Clearly the conservaton of mass diagram in figure one there is SET values.

    ————————————————————————
    No consideration of any natural changes in gasous exchange of CO2 over the period whats so ever because these are persumed to stay the same.
    ————————————————————————
    What I did mean the values used in the diagram for natural emissions and natural sinks are not consider to change over the period, which I disagree with. These are big values and it’s arrogant to claim these don’t change and don’t have enough influence without evidence.

    For example El Ninos and La Ninas have a large influence with the seasons on the variability of CO2 (ppm) in the atmosphere. Just like with human emissions if say half is consumed so will the CO2 from these.

    The change with the ENSO on such a small surface of the ocean indicates that the 8ppm/1c assumed from earlier periods is incorrect and would be larger. The emissions of most CO2 follow global ocean temperatures very well.

    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/esrl-co2/mean:12/derivative/from:1979/normalise/plot/uah/from:1960/normalise

    The missing 4GtC is just an assumption where it goes, but I do agree the oceans and photosynthesis will uptake a lot of this if not more. It will also uptake increasing natural sources and likely natural sinks will vary too. Only need natural sinks or uptake to change a little and can give a larger swing then human emissions over a year. While I agree there is human contribution to the atmospheric increase, looking how it responds to ocean temperatures no more than about 4o percent.

  461. Mat G wrote:

    “What I did mean the values used in the diagram for natural emissions and natural sinks are not consider to change over the period, which I disagree with. These are big values and it’s arrogant to claim these don’t change and don’t have enough influence without evidence.”

    This is incorrect, the mass balance argument doesn’t assume the fluxes are constant (in fact it doesn’t assume anything about them other than that they are positive). The green line in fig 3. is not constant, which establishes that the mass balance argument does not assume natural emissions or natural uptake fluxes are constant.

    The data shown in Fig 1 are merely a snapshot of estimated values for the fluxes as one point in time, they are not set in stone (not even coal ;o).

    “For example El Ninos and La Ninas have a large influence with the seasons on the variability of CO2 (ppm) in the atmosphere.”

    Yes, and if you look at fig.3 you will find that the effects of ENSO on atmospheric CO2 is very evident in the output from the mass balance equation (the green line). Note that even with the ENSO induced variability, the net environmental contribution is always negative.

    “The missing 4GtC is just an assumption where it goes”

    Unless the carbon changes into some other element, or escapes the planet, the natural environment is the ONLY place left that it can go. Hence it isn’t an assumption – we know it is taken up by the environment.

  462. Matt G says:
    August 9, 2010 at 11:47 am

    ————————————————————————
    No consideration of any natural changes in gasous exchange of CO2 over the period whats so ever because these are persumed to stay the same.
    ————————————————————————
    What I did mean the values used in the diagram for natural emissions and natural sinks are not consider to change over the period, which I disagree with. These are big values and it’s arrogant to claim these don’t change and don’t have enough influence without evidence.

    We have only rough estimates of the natural flows and their variability, but we have a pretty good idea of the net balance and the variability over the past 50 years. That is about +/- 1 ppmv around the trend. That the variability is that low is partly because the main driver for the variability, temperature has an opposite effect on oceans and vegetation.

    For example El Ninos and La Ninas have a large influence with the seasons on the variability of CO2 (ppm) in the atmosphere. Just like with human emissions if say half is consumed so will the CO2 from these.
    The change with the ENSO on such a small surface of the ocean indicates that the 8ppm/1c assumed from earlier periods is incorrect and would be larger.

    The short term influence of temperature for both ENSO and seasonal changes is about 4 ppmv/C. Largely within the long term influence seen in ice cores of 8 ppmv/C.

    The emissions of most CO2 follow global ocean temperatures very well.

    No: 1945-1975 cooling, CO2 rising (negative correlation!); 1975-2000 both rising; 2000- flat temperature, CO2 rising faster.

    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/esrl-co2/mean:12/derivative/from:1979/normalise/plot/uah/from:1960/normalise

    Be aware, this shows the nice correlation between the variability of temperature and the variability of the increase rate, but that doesn’t give any indication of the cause of the increasing trend itself.

    The missing 4GtC is just an assumption where it goes, but I do agree the oceans and photosynthesis will uptake a lot of this if not more. It will also uptake increasing natural sources and likely natural sinks will vary too. Only need natural sinks or uptake to change a little and can give a larger swing then human emissions over a year. While I agree there is human contribution to the atmospheric increase, looking how it responds to ocean temperatures no more than about 4o percent.

    Where it goes: some rough indication is here (based on oxygen and d13C records):

    http://www.bowdoin.edu/~mbattle/papers_posters_and_talks/BenderGBC2005.pdf

    If temperature was the cause, then we should have had an increase of 8 ppmv for the 1 C warming since the LIA. But we have an increase of 100 ppmv…

  463. Mat G wrote:

    “The emissions of most CO2 follow global ocean temperatures very well.

    http://www.woodfortrees.org/plot/esrl-co2/mean:12/derivative/from:1979/normalise/plot/uah/from:1960/normalise

    the UAH data isn’t ocean data, but more importantly you have taken the derivative of the CO2 data, and doing that removes any linear trend in the data. If temperature changes were responsible for the long term trend in CO2, the correllation would be better BEFORE taking the derivative than after. This error has been made more than once in analysis of CO2 data.

  464. Dear Ferdinand,
    I understand from your answer that you accept now that independent increase of dSin and dSout can match any hypothetical mass balance, without violation of the mass conservation law, with the result of an accumulation of 3.5 GtC in the atmosphere and will admit that your statement “As long as nature acts as an active sink for a part of the human emissions, the human emissions are the only source of the increase “ makes no sense.
    Let’s not consider your extreme example Sin=1035 Sout = 1000, accumulation in the atmosphere Fa= 3.5 . That may have happened millenniums ago.
    The more realistic (but also still hypothetical ) one today (my calculation for the year 2000) is the last row in the table dFout = 16.39 dFin = 12.89 Fa= =-3.5
    If you look at that equation, not considering Fem , then the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere would be falling!. I thought, I explained the base of my calculation in my first post that Fem is taking part in the equation, but probably not clearly enough. (We did in our E&E paper).
    The full balance equation reads:
    dFin + Fem – dFout = Fa
    With figures:
    12.89 + 7 – 16.39 =3.5
    Thus the contribution of the assumed natural additional source dFin = 12.89 against de Fem= 7, is contributing to the flux into the atmosphere of 3.5.
    Personally I do not think that the contribution of a natural source to the raise is that high.(12.89). Considering the assumed natural flows through the system (100 GtC/y) I think we can reckon with a 5 % increase as a result of natural variability over decades, thus 5 GtC/y. Not 12.89.
    I hope you understand that I do not deny a contribution of Fem to Fa, but the interesting scientific question is, what would have happened if there was no Fem OR no dFin?
    My interest is mainly in further consideration of the possible variability of Fin (from the ocean). I am looking forward how you will consider the new data provided by Ernst Beck (en Massen) in your part 2. They are available on his web site ant I hope you will take serious note. (He has also a manuscript to be submitted, which however is still subject to peer review and consequently confidential).

  465. Arthur Rörsch wrote:

    “The full balance equation reads:
    dFin + Fem – dFout = Fa
    With figures:
    12.89 + 7 – 16.39 =3.5
    Thus the contribution of the assumed natural additional source dFin = 12.89 against de Fem= 7, is contributing to the flux into the atmosphere of 3.5.”

    Surely dFin is more than cancelled by dFout, and so the net contribution of the natural environment is still negative. dFin isn’t contributing to the rise if dFout is taking back even more.

  466. It may help to summarise my understanding of this issue, as there appears still to be some disagreement.

    The mass balance equation uses two well-established pieces of information:

    1. The increase in atmospheric CO2 (either annually or over a longer time period).
    2. Anthropogenic emissions of CO2 (either annually or over a longer time period).

    It is noted that 2. is greater than 1. From that two things inevitably follow:

    3. The natural environment AS A WHOLE is acting as a sink for CO2, ie it is not a source of CO2 and cannot AS A WHOLE explain the increase in CO2 in the atmosphere.
    4. Human emissions of CO2 are more than able to account for the entire increase in atmospheric CO2.

    From the above considerations ALONE can it be said that human emissions of CO2 are definitely the “cause” of the increase in atmospheric CO2?

    NO.

    If that (ie data 1. and 2. above) were ALL that we knew about the Earth’s carbon cycle then all that we could conclude is that human emissions were (more than) able to account for the atmospheric increase. But we could not know if there were other natural sources that might also be able to more than account for the increase. For example, there might be an undiscovered volcanic island in the Pacific spewing forth ten times as much CO2 as humans are producing, or maybe aliens from the planet Zog (having problems with CO2 of their own!) might have constructed a hyperspace pipeline and be dumping their huge excess on us, 100 times as much as humans are producing on Earth, or … well use your own imagination. But, as long as none of these unknown new sources of non-anthropogenic CO2 caused the OVERALL (net) non-human environment to become a SOURCE of CO2 rather than a sink, then the above provisions of the mass balance equation would continue to hold. In other words, if our mythical volcanic island producing ten times more CO2 than humans are producing really existed (along, of course, with planet Zog producing 100 ti