Simple Physics – In reality my feather blew up into a tree

Hand holding a Quill Pen

Guest Post by Barry Woods

All too often the ‘simple physics of CO2′ argument is presented to the public by the media, politicians, climate scientists and environmental advocacy groups, in a way that grossly simplifies the issue of the response in global temperature to increasing CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere.

An excellent response to the simple physics argument is to be found in the comments at Climate Etc (Professor Judith Curry’s blog)

In reality my feather blew up into a tree

“….. which is that since CO2 is a GHG it follows that increasing CO2 must increase the temperature (of something). No matter how many times we say that the climate is a system with complex non-linear feedbacks they still love this simple principle of physics.

This is because physics works by isolating simple situations from reality. That was the great discovery of physics, that if you simplified reality you could find simple laws. So far so good.

But as every engineer knows, these simple laws often do not work when reality gets messy, as it usually is.  Simple physics says that if I drop a ball and a feather they will fall at the same rate.

In reality my feather blew up into a tree.

It is not that the simple law is false, just that there are a number of other simple laws opposing it. In the case of climate we don’t even know what some of these other laws are, so we can’t explain what we see. That is where we should be looking.”

The ‘do you deny the simple GHG physics’ argument is also often an attempt to portray anyone that asks reasonable scientific questions about AGW and the complexity of climate science, as some sort of  an ‘anti-science’, ‘flat earther’ denier.

The realities and complexities and unknowns of climate science are described in the IPCC working Group 1 reports, but somehow get ‘lost in translation’ into the Summary for Policymakers, for example (and everyone knows very few politicians even read beyond the executive summary of anything).

IPCC (Chapter 14, 14.2.2.2, Working Group 1, The Scientific Basis)

Third Assessment Report: “In sum, a strategy must recognise what is possible. In climate research and modeling, we should recognize that we are dealing with a coupled nonlinear chaotic system, and therefore that long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible.”

Time and time again the media and environment groups ignore this IPCC fact that the climate is a coupled nonlinear chaotic system and that the worst case scenarios of the computer model ‘projections’ or scenarios (because they know they cannot use the word prediction) latest example, 4C by 2060, are just one result of computer model ‘runs’ programmed with various extreme values of these assumptions.

The low-end ‘projections’ of temperature by model runs with other values and assumptions are ignored completely by CAGW advocates, the data output or projection of a computer model transmorphs into a scientific fact, the data output of a computer model becomes evidence of CAGW.

Climate Science is often portrayed to the public in simplistic terms as a mature science, narrowed down and focussed onto one primary factor - CO2, assuming all else to be equal, and not the possibilities in this type of system that varying one parameter alone, may vary other parameters in non-linear ways, even potentially flipping some from positive to negative feedback (or vice versa)

At the time of the Copenhagen Cop 15 Climate Conference, stunts on TV, rather than the discussion of uncertainties of ‘climate science’ were the order of the day.

The classic demonstration of the ‘do you deny the simple physics of CO2′ argument  is a glass tube filled with CO2, heated and then the TV presenter or preferably a senior government scientist says ‘look it has warmed!’ -

As demonstrated by the BBC in their Newsnight program, Copenhagen Climate Conference time, the BBC’s apparent intellectual response to the climategate emails and documents.  Watts Up With That, gave a critique of this particular type of TV experiment and CAGW PR.

I wonder what would have happened if a member of the audience had been able to question their methodology, or even ask simple questions like:

What is the  percentage of CO2 in the jar?

ie total atmospheric is  ~0.038%, what percentage is in the glass jar – 50% plus perhaps, or more?

[Corrected typo spotted in comments - 0.038% / 380 ppm]

If you were to mention that the CO2 effect is logarithmic, then you are likely to be labelled a ‘climate change sceptic’ or worse a ‘climate change denier’ by any passing MSM media TV presenter, environmentalist group or AGW consensus minded politician, and then they will simply stop listening, because you are obviously a fossil fuel funded denier, such has been the CAGW consensus PR.

I wonder if for a sceptical  joke, someone could produce a spoof YouTube video of a feather and a cannon ball in a glass jar experiment (non evacuated)  and the TV presenter could say to the audience:

“Proof –  The Cannon Ball FALLS faster that the feather – Simple Physics clearly show this”

Someone in the audience could then ask, but you have air in the jar? and then get ridiculed by the group as an ‘anti-science’ denier, the scientist/presenter could even bring out the ‘No Pressure’ red button to use!

The simple and not so simple physics of a number of climate parameters, are programmed into the climate computer models.  Many of these parameters, it is acknowledged, are not completely understood or that there is serious contentious debate about in the scientific literature.  ie aerosols, clouds, solar pacific and atlantic oscillations, volcanoes, etc,etc

Engineers (or  economists now, perhaps) will advice  climate scientists, model are not reality, reality is often more complicated than any computer model. Take a step back, view with hindsight with respect to risk in the financial markets. At the trouble the cream of the last few decades of science graduates – turned  computer modellers – left the world’s economy in, following the modelling of credit risk amongst many other economic assumptions.

Next time anyone starts on about the simple physics of CO2, remember the feather and a cannon ball in a very large glass jar analogy, or for the classically motivated, atop the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Politicians could lay trillion-dollar bets, and dozens of competing scientific groups (publically funded) could even attempt to write a computer models to predict when and where the feather would land…………

Thanks again to Anthony for the opportunity to write at Watts Up With That again. There is a little more about me here.

Or maybe you could stop by at my new blog, I hope that the Watts Up With That regulars like the name.

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263 thoughts on “Simple Physics – In reality my feather blew up into a tree

  1. I’ve been wondering this for a while. How is it possible that trace amounts of CO2 can lead to a measurable increase in atmospherical temperature ?
    We are talking about 0,0039 % CO2.
    Are there any laboratory tests that shows the effect ? There must be something extraordinary with CO2, not seen in other molecules..

  2. No set of physical laws can model climate accurately, but there are number of events with possible links (sometimes with no clear mechanism) which can have an input, but they are often ignored.
    For years a ‘60 year climate cycle’ has been favoured by many, but I could not find obvious presence of it in the longest temperature record available (CET – Central England Temperature, Met Office). However there are 40-50 years long undulations, which appear to have some similarity with the simple orbital resonance cycle of the Jovian planets.

    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/CETpr.htm

    If there is a link, how does it work?
    I think it is based on the geomagnetic reaction to the solar storms, whereby origin or the heliocentric longitudinal direction of these events (solar storms /magnetic ropes ) is affected by the magnetic configuration of the ‘nearby’ (inner) heliosphere.
    But this may be only one of the factors affecting ‘natural climate oscillations’ as perceived from the CET data.

  3. How about putting CO2 into perspective with a very simple picture analogy:

    Consider this image of the “Big Chill” hockey game played at U of Michigan earlier this month as a symbolic representation of “air” with each attendee representing a molecule of something in the air:

    http://www.bing.com/images/search?q=Big+Chill+Michigan+photo&view=detail&id=15CB677F1C3198A4EEB994460A00AF31EFADCA5A&first=1&FORM=IDFRIR&qpvt=Big+Chill+Michigan+photo

    There were some 113,000 people attending (Guiness report of 85+K was preliminary to announce the old record was broken). So there’s about 100,000 people actually visible in the photo at the link.

    Depending on where one is on Earth, the number of water molecules in the air will vary from near zero to about 2600 in the tropics (i.e. up to 2600 of the people in the photo will represent water). This is the largest component of total “greenhouse gasses.”

    Carbon dioxide, at about 390 ppm, will be represented by 39 people attending. In five years that number will rise to 40 -45.

    When put in physical perspective, CO2 does not seem so intimidating.

    Also, only about 3.6-3.7 percent of total greenhouse gasses are CO2…and something like 3.4 percent of that 3.6-ish percent is contributed by human activity.

  4. Great post Barry. And, it’s not just physics. There’s a wee bit of chemistry and mathematics involved as well, just for starters.

    The arrogance of those who claim high degrees of certainty about the integrated discipline that climate science might one day be is staggering.

  5. Martin Andersen says: December 28, 2010 at 5:16 am

    {…} There must be something extraordinary with CO2, not seen in other molecules..
    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, no?

  6. “In sum, a strategy must recognize what is possible. In climate research and modeling, we should recognize that we are dealing with a coupled nonlinear chaotic system, and therefore that long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible.”

    This quote should show up in every post about AGW written. It should be required like that warning on the side of cigarette packs.

  7. The counter argument seems to be that while there are unknown laws and mechanisms, it also means that we can’t fully trust that they’ll come to the rescue. So, “better safe than sorry”.

    On the other hand, there have been ice ages and warmer periods before, but obviously no run-away changes. Something is preventing this. Otherwise we wouldn’t be around to worry about it.

  8. The question about the actual concentration of CO2 that is used in the experiment is an interesting one. What, I wonder is the minimum concentration needed to get a measurable difference between the temperature rise in the experiment and that in the control? What result would be gained if the difference between the two was designed to mimic the difference between pre-industrial levels and modern levels of CO2 in the atmosphere?

  9. Martin Andersen says:
    December 28, 2010 at 5:16 am
    I’ve been wondering this for a while. How is it possible that trace amounts of CO2 can lead to a measurable increase in atmospherical temperature ?
    We are talking about 0,0039 % CO2.
    ===========================================================

    Sort of a stretch, isn’t it?

    [Reply] The correct value is 0.039% RT-mod

  10. CO2 should lead to warming, as should increases in H2O, CH4, etc. It’s pretty simple physics and the IR absorption curve. However, the atmosphere doesn’t model all that well in a two liter soda bottle or better controlled lab equipment.

    The most obvious confounder is convection – less heat radiated from the ground makes it out of the atmosphere, air heats up (either by IR absorption or by the warmer ground surface), and convection increases, likely by an amount that is nearly impossible to measure in the open atmosphere.

    Perhaps you could in a greatly modified blimp hanger at Moffet Field. It would be a neat project – you’d need to make the ceiling look like cold sky, then you could experiment with different ground surfaces, humidity, CO2 concentrations. Convection could be measured by releasing various trace gases and sampling them by optical absorption or direct sampling.

  11. Isn’t this math wrong?

    What is the percentage of CO2 in the jar?

    ie total atmospheric is 0.0038%

    380 ppm = 380/1,000,000

    380 /1,000,000 = 0.00038

    0.00038 x 100 = 0.038% (not 0.0038%)

    Online converters agree

    [Reply] You are correct. RT-mod

  12. “Simple physics says that if I drop a ball and a feather they will fall at the same rate.”

    I would say that simple physics says that if you drop a ball and a feather they will both fall. I think that’s more analogous to the simple physics that shows a warming effect of elevating CO2.

    Simple physics shows that CO2 has a significant warming effect. Complex physics shows that too.

    The uncertainty is in how much warming effect. But uncertainty works both ways. If you want to tug out the uncertainty to claim there might not be any warming, then the same added slack also means there could be horrific amount of warming.

    So whether you consider the science very certain or very uncertain, there’s no basis to argue that the ongoing CO2 rise is safe. To know it was safe we’d need the science to be very certain that a doubling of CO2 had little effect on the Earth. We can’t conclude that though if we argue that the science isn’t settled and is all very uncertain.

  13. Martin Andersen says:
    December 28, 2010 at 5:16 am

    I’ve been wondering this for a while. How is it possible that trace amounts of CO2 can lead to a measurable increase in atmospherical temperature ?

    It blocks some of the long wave infrared radiation from leaving the planet. Retained heat should show up as higher temperatures or increased humidity (which further blocks outgoing IR).

    We are talking about 0,0039 % CO2.
    Are there any laboratory tests that shows the effect ? There must be something extraordinary with CO2, not seen in other molecules..

    Yes, several. They also show that the first 100 ppm has a much greater effect than the most recent 100 ppm. Not at all extraordinary, gases with more than two atoms have various vibrational modes that absorb and release IR. Other atmospheric gases, N2, O2, and Ar don’t have the right structure.

    Don’t fall prey to the trace gas argument lest you forget that reducing CO2 by just a couple hundred ppm will kill plants or that 380 ppm of CO can’t possibly have an impact on people. (Exposure limits are 25-50 ppm, 400ppm for 4 hours can kill.)

  14. “RealClimategate.org”.

    I guess “UnrealClimategate.org” was already taken?

    You are fortunate that you weren’t cited for polluting the environment by allowing that feather to drift away. Also, that dent or divot on the ground that the metal ball probably made could be a problem.

    Seriously, you have applied common sense to the “GW” discussion. I believe that violates one of the Warmist’s laws, but I could be mistaken.

    OK, maybe that wasn’t so serious, but this is – good read Barry, thanks. I’ll be checking in on your blog often.

  15. Excellent post! This pretty much sums it up. I too recognized back in graduate school that academic research is focused on single factors or effects. They probe the basic fundamentals such as the core building blocks of molecules, atoms, and subatomic particles. But once you get a job in industry working with engineers, you quickly learn that the fundamentals are obscured by the complex interactions in a system. Engineers have tools such as DOE that help probe these systems, but the academic is completely unfamiliar with these tools and concepts because interactions are typically not a concern in academic research. The climate is a complex system to the nth degree. Boiling it down to a single factor is beyond wrong and naive.

  16. Mr. Onion says:
    “So whether you consider the science very certain or very uncertain, there’s no basis to argue that the ongoing CO2 rise is safe.”

    There are a lot of uncertainties in the universe. The earth could collide with an asteroid. We could be invaded by an advanced race of hostile space aliens. Both are more likely to occur than the supposed “harmful effects” of atmospheric CO2.

    Where did people like Mr. Onion get the idea that CO2 is “unsafe”? Oh, that’s right – from the same people who stand to profit both politically and financially from promulgating this myth. Please Mr. Onion – follow the money. And for 2011, resolve to put YOUR time, money, and attention towards things that will really make a difference in this world, like helping your neighbor, fighting hunger, and promoting peace.

  17. So whether you consider the science very certain or very uncertain, there’s no basis to argue that the ongoing CO2 rise is safe. To know it was safe we’d need the science to be very certain that a doubling of CO2 had little effect on the Earth. We can’t conclude that though if we argue that the science isn’t settled and is all very uncertain.

    We can conclude, though, that claims to know the temperature of the earth in 50 or 100 years are pure hokum. And any plan instituted to address a specific scenario runs the risk of addressing a problem that doesn’t exist or, worse, exacerbating a problem that is underappreciated. To wit, the idea in the 1970s to accelerate the melting of the polar ice caps to combat the incipient scourge of global cooling.

    If we don’t understand things, we don’t understand them. It’s as simple as that. It may be uncomfortable, but it doesn’t change the reality. Scientists are tempted all the time to pretend to understand their field of study better than they do (or could possibly, based on current knowledge). But the truth is the science of global warming/climate change is simply not settled and never has been. It will be many years in the future before we know enough to go anywhere near that claim. In the meantime, the best we can do is muddle through and continue to gather data and thrash out various theories, based on their scientific merit, not their political merit.

  18. onion says:
    December 28, 2010 at 5:57 am

    “So whether you consider the science very certain or very uncertain, there’s no basis to argue that the ongoing CO2 rise is safe. To know it was safe we’d need the science to be very certain that a doubling of CO2 had little effect on the Earth. We can’t conclude that though if we argue that the science isn’t settled and is all very uncertain.”

    There is also no basis to argue that a rise in CO2 is dangerous.

  19. onion says: {December 28, 2010 at 5:57 am}
    “The uncertainty is in how much warming effect. But uncertainty works both ways. If you want to tug out the uncertainty to claim there might not be any warming, then the same added slack also means there could be horrific amount of warming.”

    Take that a step further, who is defining what is horrific? You? Right now I could use a 30C increase. I think the current weather problems around the NH is pretty much proof that warming is NOT bad.

    “So whether you consider the science very certain or very uncertain, there’s no basis to argue that the ongoing CO2 rise is safe. ”

    Safe from what? Again, you want to instill your beliefs onto everyone else. Warmer is better in my book.

  20. onion says:
    December 28, 2010 at 5:57 am
    Simple physics shows that CO2 has a significant warming effect. Complex physics shows that too.
    =========================================================
    I thought CO2 had an insignificant warming effect. That the warming would come from feedbacks like humidity and clouds.
    And that the small amount of warming from CO2 was logarithmic.

  21. onion says:
    December 28, 2010 at 5:57 am
    “…So whether you consider the science very certain or very uncertain, there’s no basis to argue that the ongoing CO2 rise is safe. To know it was safe we’d need the science to be very certain that a doubling of CO2 had little effect on the Earth. We can’t conclude that though if we argue that the science isn’t settled and is all very uncertain.”

    Onion, that’s the logical fallacy of Argumentum ad ignorantiam (argument to ignorance). You can’t assume it’s true because it hasn’t been proven false.

  22. Ric Werme

    ……..380 ppm of CO can’t possibly have an impact on people. (Exposure limits are 25-50 ppm, 400ppm for 4 hours can kill.)………

    Measured CO2 concentration in a forest and cinema have been in excess of 600ppm and no fatalities!
    Mind you two Star Trek films end to end might be more than human flesh can stand.

    [Reply] CO carbon monoxide, is not co2, carbon dioxide. RT-mod

  23. I am really pleased to live in France where electricity generation is 85% nuclear.

    Future Energy Security, (thoroughly destroyed by the last UK Government and sadly with the destruction perpetuated by the current Coalition), is probably the foremost responsibility of a government to its citizens. It is arguably more important even than Military Security.

    In the light of the state of the current Solar Cycle, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation etc., it seems that there is a real prospect of damaging cooling continuing in the near future for several decades as we may inexorably move towards the climate of another Little Ice Age. Piers Corbyn and many others already anticipate that eventuality.

    The French long-term energy strategy with its massive commitment to nuclear power is impressive, (85% of electricity generation). And even if one is concerned about CO2, Nuclear Energy pays off, French electricity prices and CO2 emissions / head are the lowest in the developed world.

    It is utterly futile to think that mankind can affect climate to any worthwhile extent. The numbers are very simple and are accepted by a renowned UK government advisor, the US Department of Energy and many other reputable scientific minds. Yes CO2 might well affect some warming but the important question is HOW MUCH or rather HOW LITTLE ? and therefore can any remedial actions worthwhile at all ?

    Why cant we get to the nub of the problem ? with simple NUMBERS NOT ADJECTIVES. There is a good chance that these rough and ready numbers are in the right ballpark.

    On average world temperature is ~+15 degC. This is sustained by the atmospheric Greenhouse Effect ~33 degC. Without the Greenhouse Effect the planet would be un-inhabitable at ~-18 degC.
    So translating the agents causing the Greenhouse Effect into degrees centigrade:
    • Water Vapour and Clouds account for as much as 95% of the Greenhouse Effect = ~ 31.35 degC
    • Other Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) account for about 5% = ~1.65 degC
    • CO2 is 75% of the remaining effect when accounting for the enhanced effects of Methane, Nitrous Oxide and other GHGs = ~1.24 degC
    • Most CO2 in the atmosphere is natural, more than ~93%, (some authorities say 97%)
    • Man-made CO2 is less than 7% of total atmospheric CO2 = ~0.087 degC being caused by the full emissions of the carbon economies of the whole world
    • UK’s contribution to World CO2 emissions is ~1.8% = 1.6 thousandths degC
    The maximum efforts made in the UK can only achieve an insignificant and immeasurable part of that. Even partial efforts would damage any Western economy like the UK economy irrevocably.

    NASA GISS researcher Gavin Schmidt appears to state in his recent paper (October 2010) that Water Vapour and Clouds account for 75% of the Greenhouse effect. Even at this reduced level of effect that would make very little difference to the FUTILITY argument enumerated above. One is still talking in a few Thousandths of a degree for the whole world Carbon economy.

    The probability is that any current global warming is not man-made and in any case such warming could be not be influenced by any remedial action taken by mankind however drastic. And whatever may be said, outside Europe, the rest of the world is not joining in. The non-joiners, (China, India, Japan, Russia, Brazil, South Africa and soon the USA as the Republican majority hopefully dismembers the Catastrophic Man-made Global Warming scam), already amount to 62% of the world CO2 emissions and 48% of the world population.

    If the numbers shown above are even close to the right ballpark, the prospect should be greeted with Unmitigated Joy:
    • all concern over CO2 as a man-made pollutant can be discounted.
    • it is not necessary to damage the western world’s economy to no purpose.
    • if warming were happening, it would lead to a more benign and healthy climate for all mankind.
    • any extra CO2 is already increasing the fertility and reducing water needs of all plant life and thus enhancing world food production.
    • a warmer climate, within natural variation, as has occurred over the last century, would provide a future of greater prosperity for human development and much more food for the growing world population. This has been well proven in the Roman and Medieval pasts and would now especially benefit the third world.

  24. I am really pleased to live in France where electricity generation is 85% nuclear.

    Future Energy Security, (thoroughly destroyed by the last UK Government and sadly with the destruction perpetuated by the current Coalition), is probably the foremost responsibility of a government to its citizens. It is arguably more important even than Military Security.

    In the light of the state of the current Solar Cycle, the Pacific Decadal Oscillation etc., it seems that there is a real prospect of damaging cooling continuing in the near future for several decades as we may inexorably move towards the climate of another Little Ice Age. Piers Corbyn and many others already anticipate that eventuality.

    The French long-term energy strategy with its massive commitment to nuclear power is impressive, (85% of electricity generation). And even if one is concerned about CO2, Nuclear Energy pays off, French electricity prices and CO2 emissions / head are the lowest in the developed world.

    It is utterly futile to think that mankind can affect climate to any worthwhile extent. The numbers are very simple and are accepted by a renowned UK government advisor, the US Department of Energy and many other reputable scientific minds. Yes CO2 might well affect warming but the important question is HOW MUCH or rather HOW LITTLE ? and therefore are any remedial actions worthwhile at all.

    Why cant we get to the nub of the problem ? with simple NUMBERS NOT ADJECTIVES. There is a good chance that these rough and ready numbers are in the right ballpark.

    On average world temperature is ~+15 degC. This is sustained by the atmospheric Greenhouse Effect ~33 degC. Without the Greenhouse Effect the planet would be un-inhabitable at ~-18 degC.
    So translating the agents causing the Greenhouse Effect into degrees centigrade:
    • Water Vapour and Clouds account for as much as 95% of the Greenhouse Effect = ~ 31.35 degC
    • Other Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) account for about 5% = ~1.65 degC
    • CO2 is 75% of the remaining effect when accounting for the enhanced effects of Methane, Nitrous Oxide and other GHGs = ~1.24 degC
    • Most CO2 in the atmosphere is natural, more than ~93%, (some authorities say 97%)
    • Man-made CO2 is less than 7% of total atmospheric CO2 = ~0.087 degC being caused by the full emissions of the carbon economies of the whole world
    • UK’s contribution to World CO2 emissions is ~1.8% = 1.6 thousandths degC
    The maximum efforts made in the UK can only achieve an insignificant and immeasurable part of that. Even partial efforts would damage any Western economy like the UK economy irrevocably.

    NASA GISS researcher Gavin Schmidt appears to state in his recent paper (October 2010) that Water Vapour and Clouds account for 75% of the Greenhouse effect. Even at this reduced level of effect that would make very little difference to the FUTILITY argument enumerated above. One is still talking in a few Thousandths of a degree for the whole world Carbon economy.

    The probability is that any current global warming is not man-made and in any case such warming could be not be influenced by any remedial action taken by mankind however drastic. And whatever may be said, outside Europe the, rest of the world is not joining in. The non-joiners, (China, India, Japan, Russia, Brazil, South Africa and soon the USA as the Republican majority hopefully dismembers the Catastrophic Man-made Global Warming scam), already amount to 62% of the world CO2 emissions and 48% of the world population.

    If the numbers shown above are even close to the right ballpark, the prospect should be greeted with Unmitigated Joy:
    • all concern over CO2 as a man-made pollutant can be discounted.
    • it is not necessary to damage the western world’s economy to no purpose.
    • if warming were happening, it would lead to a more benign and healthy climate for all mankind.
    • any extra CO2 is already increasing the fertility and reducing water needs of all plant life and thus enhancing world food production.
    • a warmer climate, within natural variation, as has occurred over the last century, would provide a future of greater prosperity for human development and much more food for the growing world population. This has been well proven in the Roman and Medieval pasts and would now especially benefit the third world.

  25. John says:
    December 28, 2010 at 6:05 am
    “Simple physics says that if I drop a ball and a feather they will fall at the same rate.” It also says “in a vacuum.” This should help you- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5C5_dOEyAfk
    If you can’t quote simple physics correctly why should, how could, we believe the rest of the article.

    John, let me help you. Aristotle (look him up on YouTube, the source of all knowledge) posited that objects fell at rates proportional to their mass. Therefore a feather should fall slower than a canon ball. Galileo (look him up too) proved that light and heavy objects fall at the same rate and demonstrated the effect at Pisa. However, to apply this simple physical fact to the feather you realize it falls slower. Critics in the 16th century would claim the theory was flawed until one realizes that the system is more complex than being driven by a single factor and needs the understanding of air resistance to fully explain what happens. Perfect analogy to the AGW argument. No single factor drives the climate.

  26. onion says:
    December 28, 2010 at 5:57 am

    “Simple physics shows that CO2 has a significant warming effect. Complex physics shows that too.”

    Please state the simple ( or complex) physics that demonstrates your above statement.

  27. I read that a green-house was using levels of 1,500 ppm CO2 to achieve greater growth rates in plants without any harm to humans. But I have a feeling there may not be an upper level for CO2 that poses risks to humans, other than the effects of the dreaded AGW (such as longer winters etc).

  28. John says:
    December 28, 2010 at 6:05 am

    “Simple physics says that if I drop a ball and a feather they will fall at the same rate.” It also says “in a vacuum………..”
    ========================================================

    Yeh, well, I’m not sure it was worth your vitriol. Barry didn’t get it wrong, he just didn’t state all of the caveats. Most of us understood what he was stating, but I agree that it should be clarified, else people with more simplistic views could confuse different laws of physics. With air resistance,(a more natural setting) a feather and a ball fall at different rates.

  29. edmh says:
    December 28, 2010 at 6:34 am
    It is utterly futile to think that mankind can affect climate to any worthwhile extent.
    =========================================================

    edmh, excellent post, thank you

    But that is exactly what they are claiming, that they can control the climate.
    Put in those terms, it makes them look even more ridiculous.

    ==========================================================
    “”• Man-made CO2 is less than 7% of total atmospheric CO2 = ~0.087 degC being caused by the full emissions of the carbon economies of the whole world””
    ==========================================================

    and they have shot themselves in foot.
    By jiggling temp numbers and lying, we are already there.

  30. You have to determine something is “broke” before you “fix” it. Please, don’t go assuming or projecting a broken earth and then be a busy-body running around “fixing” it. For pete’s sake, there are more than sufficient REAL problems facing us without inventing a bunch of hypothetical imaginary problems.

    (If the color yellow makes you sad, there’s a Geico commercial you should watch on YouTube.)

  31. I once took the evil mercury filled in glass gadgetry and hold it up a few mere inches from an indoors specific flower lamp from the netherworld of oblivion itself even (1000 Watt version.)

    And lo and behold, there it was, what every green hippie had been spewing about: rising mercury!

    OMG but had I not removed my hand I’d been surly burnt. And since this leettle experiment was done in a make shift greenhouse, talk about greenhouse effect.

    Another mysterious thing though, which I at first attributed to the power flower lamp being to close to the poor plants, but must have been tot much CO2, because the plants suffered burns and subsequently died from prolonged heat exposure.

  32. Sometimes the arguments here make me want to bang my head against a wall.

    “Simple physics says that if I drop a ball and a feather they will fall at the same rate.”

    Period.

    If one adds “in a vacuum” then why can’t I add “in a non-magnetic field” or some such.
    Try letting go of a steel ball and a feather in a vacuum where there is a strong magnetic field in the opposite direction (ceiling) than gravity (floor). While the feather will go “down” toward gravity, the steel ball will go “up” toward the magnetic field (assuming is is strong enough).

    I’m sure some of you can relate other possibilities to add to the “simple physics” statement.

    As they say, “C’mon, man”.

  33. Ric Werme says:

    “Don’t fall prey to the trace gas argument lest you forget that reducing CO2 by just a couple hundred ppm will kill plants or that 380 ppm of CO can’t possibly have an impact on people. (Exposure limits are 25-50 ppm, 400ppm for 4 hours can kill.)”

    How could exposure limits be 25-50 ppm when our own atmosphere has 380 ppm? OSHA has set the upper limits for a 10 hour exposure at 10,000 ppm, and they normally tack on an uncertainty factor of 100 plus another 3-fold factor for sensitive individuals.

  34. I liked this article until:

    Engineers (or economists now, perhaps) will advice climate scientists, model are not reality, reality is often more complicated than any computer model. Take a step back, view with hindsight with respect to risk in the financial markets. At the trouble the cream of the last few decades of science graduates – turned computer modellers – left the world’s economy in, following the modelling of credit risk amongst many other economic assumptions.

    I’m guessing ESL had a part in the creation of this, so I didn’t want to make fun. But can this be translated/made to sound less awkward?

  35. Sam Hall writes:
    “There is also no basis to argue that a rise in CO2 is dangerous.”

    There is. What we do know establishes a threat (CO2 rising, beyond levels seen for hundreds of thousands of years, greenhouse gas, ocean acidifification, etc). It’s a bit like taking a drug that hasn’t been tested. Sure I have no basis to claim with certainty that it will be harmful, but I don’t need that to know that the act of taking the untested drug is dangerous.

  36. Rick Werme:

    “Don’t fall prey to the trace gas argument lest you forget that reducing CO2 by just a couple hundred ppm will kill plants or that 380 ppm of CO can’t possibly have an impact on people. (Exposure limits are 25-50 ppm, 400ppm for 4 hours can kill.)”

    Some sort of confusion here between CO and CO2?

    I don’t think CO, a very chemically reactive compound, versus CO2, a rather “inert” compound, should be confused.

    As to the “trace gas effect”, I’d recommend Dr. Walter Elsasser’s “On the Infra-red Heat Balance of the Atmosphere”. (Harvard Meteorological Series, 1942) On page 23 he explains exclusion of the CO2 contribution to the exchange in the “tropopshere” (to about 40,000 feet) due to the fact that 0 to 40,000 feet it’s an equal exchange agent…outflux and influx. (Above 40,000 feet it’s a cooling agent, has to due with “view angle”.)

    That tretise also does a good job of explaining how WATER acts as the primary “Greenhouse Gas”.

    Last, if we are trying to “clear up misconceptions” I suggest locating Dr. Robert Wood’s 1909 experiment which demonstrates with two solar collecting boxes that greenhouses DO NOT WORK because the glass acts as a one way energy valve (i.e., visible in and no longwave IR out), but rather they work because they are “closed convective boundaries”… SO the PROPER TERM is “the ATMOSPHERIC EFFECT..”

    Max

  37. onion says:
    December 28, 2010 at 5:57 am

    You talk of understanding of the more complex physics of CO². I am waiting for it but I know for certain you will never deliver it. It is not basic physics you speak (yet another piece of evidence for your lack of it) it is the limit of physics you choose to adopt. You see all physics is actually maths based and what we physicists do is acknowledge our lack of understanding through the limiting of the value of variables within those equations. Integration and differentiation (calculus) are always performed over limits. Sometimes 0 to infinity but usually over the values about which we can be certain. In a molecule, to find Debye specific gravity, for example, the integration would be performed through the 3 dimensions and the molecular limits of the structure.

    So now, Gives your knowledge of the complex physics of CO² radiative absorption and emission within a non-linear 3D, varying density gas where the partial pressures all vary within the 4 dimension of time.

  38. The gas CO² per se will not kill you if you are in an atmosphere with 20% O² Impossible but I think it is probably true. Pure CO² kills animals and Humains and , I think, someone has shown that death has occured at above 7000ppm but the O² content was not measured. And last but not least, a number of celebs in the UK, I think, have died with bags over their heads while performing a sexual act. This occurs because the brain does not ‘see’ CO² as dangerous and you therefore drift gently off to die without suffering the distress of suffocation.

  39. As the AGW story goes: (1) CO2 directly warms the atmosphere to some extent, possibly by as much as 1 degree C (+/-) per doubling of CO2 concentration; and (2) that initial warming enables the atmosphere to hold greater quantities of other greenhouse gases, especially water vapor, with the impact that the initial effect of the CO2 increase is multiplied through feedback processes so as to enable another 2 degrees to 4 degrees C of warming.

    The question naturally arises: If indeed the initial warming effect of CO2 acts as an enabler of feedback processes which employee other greenhouse gases as warming agents — principally water vapor — why is CO2 unique in its ability as a feedback enabler, as opposed to other kinds of processes, natural or man-made, which might cause that initial atmospheric warming?

  40. Radiative absorption and emission characteristics of gases are basic physics. “Simple” is a relative term and should probably be avoided.

  41. Big name climate scientists trot out this “simple physics” argument all the time. They should know better. Think about earthquakes. If you take uniform materials in a lab you can predict how they will fracture under pressure, and engineers do this to evaluate building designs. But the earth is not uniform and no one can yet make any soft of precise earthquake prediction (saying California has X% chance of a big one in the next 20 yrs is just based on past frequencies and guesses, it isn’t a “prediction”). What, are you an earthquake physics denier?
    Furthermore, the heterogeneity of the earth system is huge and must be approximated at the grid scale, from earth surface albedo to the behavior of clouds to winds. It is not even clear how to test these approximations.

  42. I smell a red herring here.
    I recommend reading the very straigthforward derivation of the zero feedback case of 1.2 degrees C for a CO2 doubling by Nir Shaviv, : http://www.sciencebits.com/OnClimateSensitivity

    The scientific debate is about the magnitude and sign of the feedbacks, not about the basic IR physics.
    A doubling of CO2 could raise the global temperature between 0.3 degrees C (Miskolczi, 2007) and 10 degrees C (Andronova and Schlesinger,2001) .

    IPCC lead authors decided to ignore the peer reviewed papers that indicate a negative feedback. Hence the IPCC lead authors did not give an objective assessment of the science.

  43. onion says:
    December 28, 2010 at 7:17 am

    Sam Hall writes:
    “There is also no basis to argue that a rise in CO2 is dangerous.”

    There is. What we do know establishes a threat (CO2 rising, beyond levels seen for hundreds of thousands of years, greenhouse gas, ocean acidifification, etc).
    =======================================================

    Uhmm, no. It has not been established anything that you’ve mentioned is inherently harmful. In fact, I maintain a warmer earth is a more suitable environment for mankind and the various flora and fauna. I don’t believe it has been shown that the PH balance of our ocean waters would change much with a doubling of atmospheric CO2, but then even if it were to occur, it hasn’t been shown where this would be detrimental in its totality. In fact, none of the doom and gloom predicted has been shown.

    It isn’t that I believe in the contrivance that man’s CO2 emissions would even detectably raise the earths temp, but if it could, it would be a good thing. With all of the catastrophic prognostications, nothing has been demonstrated in over 30 years of alarmism.

    I think it is well past time to let the climate alarmists stand on their record of accuracy, in both forecasting and backcasting.

  44. @ Ric Werme
    [...]380 ppm of CO can’t possibly have an impact on people. (Exposure limits are 25-50 ppm, 400ppm for 4 hours can kill.) [...]

    What hogwash. First of all, you’re talking about CO, not CO2. Second, according to OSHA, the continuous exposure limit is 1,000 ppm, although if you work in a office you are routinely exposed to levels of 5,000 ppm (0.5%) or higher with no ill effects. At 10,000 ppm (1%) you might get a headache or feel tired, but levels as high as 30,000 ppm (3%) have been reported.

    CO2 levels aren’t considered an immediately threat to health and life till they reach 4%, or 40,000 ppm. At 8% or 80,000 ppm, it will definitely kill you.

    They’re more concerned with oxygen. The lowest permissible oxygen content is 19.5%. The outdoor open air percentage is 20.9%. In order for the O2 level to drop to 19.5% (a 6% decrease), CO2 levels would have to rise by 1.4%, to 14,000 ppm.

  45. For those who think the analogy is flawed:

    The whole POINT of the analogy is that it’s ridiculous. You and I both know that the feather will fall slower (if at all, it probably will fly away) because of another, FAR more powerful directly acting force.

    By simplistic rules of physics, as in the demonstration performed on the moon without air, any two objects will fall at the same rate. The point is that simplistic rules rarely, if ever, apply in the real world.

    This is known as “the elephant in the room”… a fact that is so obvious that it’s amazing anyone could possibly avoid seeing it. Other factors in the atmosphere massively overwhelm CO2′s effect, especially at the concentrations we are dealing with.

  46. Re Craig Loehle:

    A better analogy with earthquakes should be to do with the effect of an earthquake on an entire building. That’s more in line with calculating the effect of rising CO2 on the climate. Like the climate where scientists don’t have a second Earth to test against, engineers face a similar problem in that they can’t test an identical building under an actual Earthquake. So they use computer modeling. In both cases the simple physics of the models is taken from lab experiments.

    So I think you are spot on. The analogy would hold that a lot of skeptics would argue that scientists cannot possibly know what an Earthquake will do to a particular tower because that is just based on computer models of what will happen. We’d get to hear revelations like “garbage in garbage out”, “you can make a computer say anything”. “computers aren’t real science”. “the model doesn’t include X so is absolutely useless and junk”. Or various other dismissals skeptics use.

  47. “Simple Physics?” No such thing. And this problem is not simple. Trust me. That is why we must rely on empirical methods, not models.

  48. The BBC chose this ‘simple’ experiment to demonstrate to its ‘simple’ audience in the simplest way possible.The BBC actually believes its mass audience are simple minded and their programming merely represents how the BBC feels about its audience, this is not however a local phenomenon and many organisations and groups have been dumbing down output for years. but the BBC has refined its contempt for its viewers to a new level.

    The BBC researchers who put the simple fraudulent experiment together must have known that it cannot represent reality and the carefully selected audience of simpletons would not ask the questions required, this is the BBC in action. We have a massive tax funded media empire which uses its notional independence to pursue a political agenda decided by the groups political ideology and the groups output reflects this. Of course the fact that the BBC pension fund is heavily invested in the new eco green economy built on the parasitical basis of siphoning cash from the more productive areas of the economy and from ordinary people of modest means and the BBC funding itself is a mechanism that does the same thing escapes most commentators.

    The BBC itself is a perfect representation of an artificial subsidy model, it distorts and damages the free market in the TV medium and it holds back the healthy market based evolution of the visual media. The BBC can be dishonest and manipulative because it has been able to claim that any independent oversight is an attack on its editorial independence, it has become a bullying manipulative spoiled child and as the last vestiges of output oversight has been disabled so this spoiled child has run wild.

    The BBC has been in the forefront and vanguard of the CAGW fraud from the start, it has used its gigantic financial influence to promote the CAGW fraud with thousands of one sided pro CAGW propaganda reports produced in industrial quantities in concert with its eco green allies who have been able to use the BBC as a free worldwide propaganda dissemination outlet, the BBC has been essential for the forces selling the CAGW fraud.

    The tragedy is that the British nation who did so much to contribute to the rise of Western civilisation has done so much to precipitate the decline of the West by being a driving force in the CAGW fraud, when the CAGW fraud falls apart it will be British institutions who will bear a large share of the blame and its hard to see how our national reputation will ever again become the force for good it once was.

  49. Onion here is some simple physics.

    E = m c^2 or energy is equal to mass times the speed of light squared.

    E = h v or energy is equal to Planck constant times the frequency of the radiation.

    So m c ^2 = h v
    or m = (h v) / c^2

    Since the volume of the earth nor the atmosphere increase in size during a day and
    E(in) = E(out) we must also say that m(in) = m (out).

    Or does the mass of the incoming light that heats the earth equal the mass of out going IR that cools the earth? Does it?

    I await your enlightened response. :)

  50. Ric Werme says:
    December 28, 2010 at 6:08 am
    For all wondering / arguing about the toxic levels required to affect humans at various time exposures, here’s the final word from the CDC: “Signs of intoxication have been produced by a 30-minute exposure at 50,000 ppm [Aero 1953]…”

    http://www.cdc.gov/niosh/idlh/124389.html

  51. Martin Andersen says:
    December 28, 2010 at 5:16 am
    I’ve been wondering this for a while. How is it possible that trace amounts of CO2 can lead to a measurable increase in atmospherical temperature ?
    We are talking about 0,039 % CO2.
    Are there any laboratory tests that shows the effect ? There must be something extraordinary with CO2, not seen in other molecules..

    Back in the 19th century scientists such as Langley, Arrhenius and Angstrom first noted that “dark rays” (infra-red radiation) were strongly absorbed by “carbonic acid gas” (carbon dioxide). They were able to measure the wavelengths of these emissions (using rock salt prisms etc) and found the CO2 absorption lines that we know today: several grouped between 2-6 microns and a big band around 15 microns.

    They also conducted experiments back then that showed IR radiation at these wavelengths was totally absorbed by transmission tube containing pure CO2 only a few feet long.

    In trace amounts CO2 still exhibits remarkable absorption properties. Even at 0.039% concentration, the earth’s atmosphere is completely opaque to these IR wavelengths, which is radiated from the surfaces heated by the Sun’s rays. Most of this absorption, from the ground, takes place in the bottom kilometer of the atmosphere.

    The following chart shows the amount of UV, light and IR radiation received from the Sun (bell-shaped curve on the left) and the amount re-radiated by the Earth at various black-body temps (bell-shaped curves on the right). Without an atmosphere, the Earth’s black-body temp would be 255K. The mean surface temp is actually 288K (15C) so atmosphere acts like a comforter blanket, provided an extra 33C degrees of warmth, making life as we know it possible.

    You should also note these facts:
    1. Water vapor is doing most of the ‘heavy lifting’ in terms of heat absorption here.
    2. There is a “window” at approx 8 to 14 microns which allows about 30% of the thermal radiation to escape, unblocked.
    3. Because of the shape of the terrestrial radiation curve, the CO2 band at 15 microns is much more important than the wavelengths between 2-6 microns, because it’s only partially covered by water vapor absorption.
    4. Since the atmosphere is totally opaque to CO2 at these wavelengths, adding more CO2 doesn’t make it any “opaquer”!

    Water vapor is the main contributor to the so-called “greenhouse effect” (a misnomer because trapping LW heat is not what makes greenhouses hot). It’s hard to see the significance of CO2 here, because water (in all of its physical forms) dominates the heating and cooling effects.

    So, getting back to Barry Wood’s idea here of “simple physics”, is it possible to isolate the CO2 effects from the H2O effects?

    Answer: Yes, we have an ideal planetary CO2 greenhouse laboratory in place on the planet Mars, whose atmosphere is 95% CO2.

    The Martian atmosphere is much thinner, only 1% of Earth, but because it’s almost pure CO2 the actual concentration of CO2 is about 30 times greater per unit surface area than on Earth.

    Yet the mean surface temperature is the same as the black body temperature, ~210 K, according to NASA’s “Mars Fact Sheet”:

    http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/factsheet/marsfact.html


    Black-body temperature: Mars 210.1 K Earth 255 K
    Average temperature: Mars ~210 K Earth 288 K

    Conclusion: Even though CO2 is a powerful absorber of 15 micron radiation, in isolation its contribution to “greenhouse warming” is negligible.

  52. James Sexton says:
    December 28, 2010 at 7:50 am
    I think it is well past time to let the climate alarmists stand on their record of accuracy, in both forecasting and backcasting.
    =========================================================
    but James, that is their problem, they can’t forecast.

    That’s why when they see a couple of years of cooling, they predict another ice age.
    A couple of years of warming, and it’s global warming.

    All they can do is look at a trend.

    “Climate scientists” lie and say they don’t predict weather, but they use weather to make their climate predictions.
    The rest of it is just smoke and mirrors, voodoo, lying………..

  53. Ric Werme says:
    December 28, 2010 at 6:08 am

    It blocks some of the long wave infrared radiation from leaving the planet. Retained heat should show up as higher temperatures or increased humidity (which further blocks outgoing IR).

    That’s pretty far from accurate. What CO2 does is restricts the flow of LWIR from surface to space which causes an increase in temperature at the surface. The increased surface temperature then accelerates the flow rate. The LWIR all still makes its escape.

    It might help to equate temperature to pressure. By restricting the flow of IR the radiation pressure increases at the surface which in turn increases the flow rate through the restriction.

  54. Ulric Lyons says:
    December 28, 2010 at 6:41 am
    In your post few months ago you said:
    ….found worldwide, is a rudimentary rain calendar, mapping the heliocentric cycles of Jupiter, Mars, Earth and Venus over 44.75yrs.
    Interesting, but this one is based only on JSU.
    Ulric are you astrologer or something ?
    From my Excel file I took peaks for the resonance cycles and the temperature and put them on the graph just to show that there is no 60 year cycle.
    Prompted by your comment Iwas tempted to prove your number wrong.
    Here is how the numbers from my graph ad:

    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/CETpr.htm

    resonance temperature
    1998 difference—– 2003 difference
    1954 44 —————- 1948 55
    1906 48 —————- 1916 32
    1860 46 —————- 1871 45
    1816 44 —————- 1830 41
    1770 46 —————- 1778 52
    1729 41 —————- 1734 44
    total 269—————- total 269
    average—-44.83333333 average—-44.83333333
    It looks like as you and your long gone astro friends may have been right but for wrong reason.
    I am astonished.
    Ulric thanks for the post, I hope someone has saved the graph with numbers so it can be proven that there was no fixing of the numbers.

  55. James Sexton says:
    December 28, 2010 at 7:50 am
    onion says:
    December 28, 2010 at 7:17 am

    Sam Hall writes:
    “There is also no basis to argue that a rise in CO2 is dangerous.”

    There is. What we do know establishes a threat (CO2 rising, beyond levels seen for hundreds of thousands of years, greenhouse gas, ocean acidifification, etc).

    I have to agree with James here, in fact somebody here (on another thread, James, was it you?) made a comment of such pertinent clarity that it begs reiteration for this thread: “The only definitive statement that anyone can say about Co2 is that it makes plants grow” I probably paraphrazed that a little, maybe, “…makes plants grow better…” or, ..”more…”, can’t recall who posted it, my apologies to the author.

    We can all agree that Co2 supports and enhances the biodiversity on this planet, and if it gets a little warmer well, that’s just an added benefit.

  56. Hans Erren wrote:

    A doubling of CO2 could raise the global temperature between 0.3 degrees C (Miskolczi, 2007) and 10 degrees C (Andronova and Schlesinger,2001) .

    … Or 16 to 20, according to this guy!

    But seriously. Roger Peilke Sr.’s work should be mentioned in this thread. He’s spent many years producing peer reviewed studies that document other probably causes of the warming we have witnessed in the twentieth century, especially land use issues. Of course, his work is routinely denigrated and basically discarded as irrelevant by the hard core warmists / scare-mongers who rule the roost at the IPCC and act as gatekeepers when it comes to information dissemination.

  57. Onion says “What we do know establishes a threat (CO2 rising, beyond levels seen for hundreds of thousands of years, greenhouse gas, ocean acidifification, etc). It’s a bit like taking a drug that hasn’t been tested. Sure I have no basis to claim with certainty that it will be harmful, but I don’t need that to know that the act of taking the untested drug is dangerous.”

    CO2 is not a drug and it has been proven to be in higher concentrations several times before in the earth’s long history, so CO2 is not a problem on its own. What is a problem is the proposed feedback effect from increasing CO2 concentrations, specifically its contribution to rising temperatures.

    To suggest that the extent of this feedback is known, is to agree that global warming will also result in more snow during the winter. They weren’t predicting this in 2007 when the Arctic ice was nearing an all time low. But in 2010 the lack of Arctic ice is the main cause of Europe’s harsh snow storms.

    Climate science is the new oxymoron.

  58. “onion says:
    December 28, 2010 at 7:17 am

    Sam Hall writes:
    “There is also no basis to argue that a rise in CO2 is dangerous.”

    There is. What we do know establishes a threat (CO2 rising, beyond levels seen for hundreds of thousands of years, greenhouse gas, ocean acidifification, etc). It’s a bit like taking a drug that hasn’t been tested. Sure I have no basis to claim with certainty that it will be harmful, but I don’t need that to know that the act of taking the untested drug is dangerous.”

    Oh, c’mon. Bad analogy.

    Earth’s atmosphere had over 1000 ppm of CO2 before and all forms of life thrived. (See early carboniferous period)

    Besides, people living on nuclear submarines are exposed to concentrations of CO2 greater than 1000 ppm.

  59. I think one or 2 people are missing(deliberately?) the point and the joke and an analogy

    The analogy shows not just one force at work, but a complex system…
    To further add to the joke, maybe a bird could catch the feather and fly off with it….! ;)

    Climate is vastly more complicated than the simple physics of a single molecule, (let alone the chemistry involved)

    The IPCC reognises this, media, lobby groups, pretend otherwise it seems.

    sorry about the typo on the %co2

  60. Steve from Rockwood says: “I read that a green-house was using levels of 1,500 ppm CO2 to achieve greater growth rates in plants without any harm to humans. But I have a feeling there may not be an upper level for CO2 that poses risks to humans…”

    British submarines operate at 8,000ppm CO2.
    Greenhouses optimize plant growth at 1,000-2,000ppm CO2.
    Some scientists and agronomists think the current level of atmospheric CO2 is much too low to maximize plant growth, though you would never think that from the abysmal media coverage of this subject.

  61. John says: December 28, 2010 at 6:05 am
    “Simple physics says that if I drop a ball and a feather they will fall at the same rate.” It also says “in a vacuum.”

    Simple physics says that increased CO2 will raise temperatures.
    It also says in an enclosed, non open air environment.

    Fixed.

  62. It think that the point here isn’t the physics isn’t simple and therefore must be wrong, but rather that the variables are too many. Quantum mechanics and string theory are examples of complex physics, but that doesn’t make them wrong. The physics of climate science is relatively simple, but that doesn’t make the conclusions people draw from the physics right. That is because there are too many variables to calculate and some of those variable are unknown at this time.

  63. stephen richards says:
    December 28, 2010 at 7:32 am

    The gas CO² per se will not kill you if you are in an atmosphere with 20% O² Impossible but I think it is probably true. Pure CO² kills animals and Humains and , I think, someone has shown that death has occured at above 7000ppm but the O² content was not measured. And last but not least, a number of celebs in the UK, I think, have died with bags over their heads while performing a sexual act. This occurs because the brain does not ‘see’ CO² as dangerous and you therefore drift gently off to die without suffering the distress of suffocation.

    This is horribly wrong. CO2 poisoning is quite painful. The cells in your body produce CO2 as a byproduct of metabolism. It is excreted through the lungs and the excretion relies on the concentration in the blood being greater than that in the air. As the concentration in the air rises there is a concommitant increase in blood concentration. To some degree this can be ameliorated by breathing faster. Indeed the first symptoms of CO2 poisoning is increased respiration and heart rate. At some point your heart and lungs can’t pump fast enough and blood CO2 inevitably rises. This causes pH to fall – your cells begin to acidify. Proper pH is critical to all sorts of metabolic chemistry and metabolism eventually halts as a result.

    All the oxygen in the world won’t save you once you can’t breathe fast enough to stop rising pH in bodily fluids.

    I think you’re confusing CO2 poisoning with CO poisoning. CO is tasteless, odorless, and non-irritating but at a concentration of 1% it will cause unconsciousness in just three breaths followed by death in three minutes. If you weren’t unconscious it would be painful. CO2 poisoning takes quite a lot longer and you stay awake for most of it.

  64. So in other words Onions, “better safe than sorry”, yes? When in doubt, go with the “precautionary principle”?

  65. Gaylon says:
    December 28, 2010 at 8:18 am

    on another thread, James, was it you?) made a comment of such pertinent clarity that it begs reiteration for this thread: “The only definitive statement that anyone can say about Co2 is that it makes plants grow”
    =======================================================

    Naw, thanks though, but anyone that’s been here for a while knows that I’m much more verbose(I’m sometimes the posting equivalent to a windbag) than that nice, concise and clear statement.

    But this is a tenet upon which the CAGW(or nom de jour) rests and usually gets a pass. I’ve read predictions of increased hurricanes to crop failures to sudden sea level rise causing severe flooding (all the while causing droughts) and everything else in between. After a generation of wailing and gnashing of the teeth and prayers to Gaia, nothing has been demonstrated. Brooklyn is still above water, crop productivity is increasing. Obviously, the latest scare of a drought in the SW U.S. was entirely overstated. An entire generation is made to bear witness to the ludicrous prognostications of our alarmist friends. And yet, they still get air time???!!!?? The truest test, observation, shows our alarmist friends to be less than credible.

  66. CodeTech says:
    December 28, 2010 at 8:30 am

    Incidentally, here’s a link to the Apollo 15 demonstration of dropping a hammer and a feather on the moon:

    http://videosift.com/video/Physics-Hammer-vs-Feather-falling-on-the-moon

    Cool video. I probably watched it live as they did it but can’t specifically recall it.

    CAGW hypothesis has about as much substance as the hypothesis that the moon landings were faked which adds even more richness and nuance to this video.

  67. OMG, Judith Curry might cause the field of “climate science” to return to science! She should be in charge of the IPCC. The sun is rising.

  68. Scott Brim says:

    The question naturally arises: If indeed the initial warming effect of CO2 acts as an enabler of feedback processes which employee other greenhouse gases as warming agents — principally water vapor — why is CO2 unique in its ability as a feedback enabler, as opposed to other kinds of processes, natural or man-made, which might cause that initial atmospheric warming?

    It is not unique. The water vapor feedback aaplies to all warming mechanisms and, in fact, the increase in water vapor in the upper troposphere (as well as the rest of the troposphere…but it is the upper that mainly matters for the feedback) can be seen also for warming fluctuations in climate due, e.g., to ENSO (see http://www.sciencemag.org/content/310/5749/841.abstract ). The feedback also applies to the estimated forcings that brought us from the last glacial maximum (LGM) to the present interglacial (which are roughly 40% greenhouse gases, 50% changes in albedo due to land ice sheets and vegetation, and 10% changes in aerosols)

    To my knowledge, the only people who are employing amplifiers or feedbacks that only apply to a specific warming mechanism are those who are claiming that solar variation can account for warming. Of course, it is not a priori wrong that there could be specific forcings that get amplified by some mechanism, but it does require a burden of proof as to why one specific warming mechanism is special.

  69. This is why I tell my engineering students, repeatedly, that:

    Theoretically, there’s no difference between theory and reality. In reality, there is.

    (Forgot who said it…anyone know the citation?)

  70. Gaylon says:
    December 28, 2010 at 8:18 am

    We can all agree that Co2 supports and enhances the biodiversity on this planet, and if it gets a little warmer well, that’s just an added benefit.

    We should all agree. Unfortunately even that basic bit of botany is argued.

    Actually the increased warmth isn’t just an added benefit. Plants have optimum temperatures for growth. As CO2 level rises so too does the optimum growth temperature. Simply amazing. It’s almost like plants evolved over hundreds of millions of years adapting to an environment where more CO2 went hand in hand with rising temperature. Plants also need less water per unit of growth as CO2 rises but that’s likely just a happy coincidence. Gas exchange through the stomata gets more efficient as CO2 level rises and water loss is dependent on how wide the stomata must open and for how long to get the gas exchange accomplished.

  71. When I try to explain (to people who don’t follow the debate) how trace CO2 causes global warming when so many other factors contribute to climate I like to use the following example:

    CO2 is like a candle in a house with central air conditioning. The heat from one candle is indeed measurable, but it’s not going to overpower the AC.

    Unless the candle is too close to the drapes.

    The global warming wingnuts believe the candle is too close to the drapes so we need to bring the garden hose into living room and wet everything down just to be safe. Think of carbon taxes being the hose and all of your wet, soggy belongings as the economy.

    (and of course even if the wingnuts are right, the candle is probably in another room so their efforts are wasted anyway)

  72. Mr. Onion says:

    “The analogy would hold that a lot of skeptics would argue that scientists cannot possibly know what an Earthquake will do to a particular tower because that is just based on computer models of what will happen. We’d get to hear revelations like “garbage in garbage out”, “you can make a computer say anything”. “computers aren’t real science”. “the model doesn’t include X so is absolutely useless and junk”. Or various other dismissals skeptics use.

    Hey, Mr. Onion, did you know that all of those revelations are TRUE?

    I hereby dub them the ONION LAWS OF COMPUTER MODELING:

    (1) Garbage in = Garbage out
    (2) You can make a computer say anything
    (3) Computer’s aren’t real science
    (4) The model doesn’t include X so is absolutely useless and junk

    A great example of Onion’s fourth law is D’Alembert’s Paradox, whereby the solution of the incompressible, potential flow equations leads to the conclusion that the drag due to fluid flow over an object is zero! Clearly, ignoring viscosity in the momentum equations leads to an “absolutely useless” model for predicting drag. So it is with GCMs and the prediction of climate…there are many physical processes that are not being modeled (or are being modeled poorly), and therefore you get a manifestation of Onion’s First and Third Laws in the IPCC reports…

    By the way, Onion’s Second Law is also known as “modeling tuning” which is how the modelers get highly accurate “hindcasts” from their models.

  73. latitude says: December 28, 2010 at 6:30 amonion says:
    December 28, 2010 at 5:57 am
    “Simple physics shows that CO2 has a significant warming effect. Complex physics shows that too.
    =========================================================
    I thought CO2 had an insignificant warming effect. That the warming would come from feedbacks like humidity and clouds.
    And that the small amount of warming from CO2 was logarithmic.”

    The real issue is that the complexity includes too many exogenous variables for which we do not know all of the interactions and therefore cause and effect cannot be predicted at this time.

  74. This is only a joke analogy, to make a point.

    a bird catching the feather could represent – life on earth..
    big bird? small bird?

    is it a hot/dry day with thermals..?

    is it cold..?
    what type of feather?

    is the feather wet/sodden (will fall faster)?… etc..

    The simple point is debate is closed down by using ‘the simple physics of CO2′

    If it were just the simple physics, the sensitivity/feedback of co2 in the atmosphere would be known (some even argu it could be negative) the climate system is complex and anyone who has actually read the content of the WG1 IPCC reports, very uncertain in a number of areas..

    the mention of economists, was just a quick dig at other experts, that despite skepticism (weapons of mass financial destruction) also fell in love with their computer models), no more no less.

  75. Joel, I would like to see the day when a jet stream storm track isn’t loaded with Pacific Ocean or Gulf moisture, the air is warm and dry, but yet it rains buckets and snows nonetheless. Now that would be special.

    It is rather convenient that these so-called special CO2 related weather events and trends occur during natural cycles that have their own very similar weather events and trends.

    What makes these times special in light of the fact that they have occurred before? They aren’t significantly bigger or smaller than before. It isn’t significantly warmer or colder than before. In fact, natural noisy unfiltered data (not the trended stuff) hides whatever makes these times “special” quite well.

    So what makes these times different? And please don’t refer to models predicting anything. The models used in the IPCC reports were not predictive. In fact they couldn’t be predictive. They were forced scenarios with purposefully manipulated “what ifs” as input. IE, they were developed to create the desired output scenario.

    A literature review of more recent work is beginning to report on models designed to simulate natural forcings, in addition to those models designed to simulate anthropogenic forcings. Have you reviewed those and what are your comments?

  76. I find a better analogy to be that of double glazing. Simple physics says that the wider the gap, the better the double glazing. So why don’t we see 100mm (4″) double glazing?
    Because simple physics doesn’t work and when the gap between the glass becomes too big, the air begins to circulate reducing the efficiency of the double glazing. Paradoxically, the way to improve the double glazing is to put a thermally conductive layer in the middle (i.e. triple glazing) and that way the gap can be doubled without reducing the thermal efficiency.

    Likewise CO2 only raises temperature if you totally ignore air currents … and ignore the fact that warm air rises after which CO2 increases the rate of cooling of the air because it acts as a vector for heat to be transmitted into the cold sink of outer space.

  77. Dave Springer says: “…It might help to equate temperature to pressure….”

    Equally likely, it will just create confusion. We’ve had enough red herrings here already, including Ric Werme’s bringing up carbon monoxide totally out of context.

  78. Dave Springer says: {December 28, 2010 at 8:55 am}
    “This is horribly wrong. CO2 poisoning is quite painful. The cells in your body produce CO2 as a byproduct of metabolism. It is excreted through the lungs and the excretion relies on the concentration in the blood being greater than that in the air. As the concentration in the air rises there is a concommitant increase in blood concentration. To some degree this can be ameliorated by breathing faster. Indeed the first symptoms of CO2 poisoning is increased respiration and heart rate. At some point your heart and lungs can’t pump fast enough and blood CO2 inevitably rises. This causes pH to fall – your cells begin to acidify. Proper pH is critical to all sorts of metabolic chemistry and metabolism eventually halts as a result.
    All the oxygen in the world won’t save you once you can’t breathe fast enough to stop rising pH in bodily fluids.”

    This is why unfit people die of heart attacks during strenuous exercise. CO2 builds up in the blood and their bodies are not efficient enough to remove it causing the blood pH to fall. At pH 6.8 death may occur.
    However, I wouldn’t go as far as calling an increase in breathing and heart rate a result of “CO2 poisoning”. It is indeed a result of an increase in CO2 levels in the blood but that is natural during any type of exertion. Only when the body cannot expel the CO2 efficiently and it builds up to dangerous levels would I term it poisoning.

    “the excretion relies on the concentration in the blood being greater than that in the air”
    I would also like to see what the atmospheric concentration of CO2 would have to be to cause this excretion to stop.

  79. “Time and time again the media and environment groups ignore this IPCC fact that the climate is a coupled nonlinear chaotic system and that the worst case scenarios of the computer model ’projections’ or scenarios (because they know they cannot use the word prediction) latest example, 4C by 2060, are just one result of computer model ‘runs’ programmed with various extreme values of these assumptions.”

    The is a gross misunderstanding of the situation. In a controlled experiment we may say
    “if I increase the concentration of X, then Y will respond like so” Then, as experimenters we are given clear directions. Increase X, observe Y. However, in climate science and in other areas of scientific investigation we cannot control X.
    For example, we have to say: “if c02 follows this emission path, and there are no volcanos, and the sun continues to shine on average like it has, and methane emissions …. These are conditional predictions. They are conditional because we cannot control them. We can can only forecast or predict a range of possibilities and then run predictive models subject to those assumptions. You will find the same approach in other areas, for example, I used to run war games ( the kind the military uses prior to a war ) While the models run in the end were based in physics the “scenarios” had to be made up by analysts. In the IPCC these scenarios are called SRES. they are specifically described as storylines. The storylines are NOT worst case. They span a range that runs from no increase in emissions, to Business as Usual, to various cases of increasing emissions. The results are not called predictions, because they are not. The IPCC is being quite accurate in its description of the results as “projections” They are predictions, subject to emission scenarios that we cannot fully control.

    Finally,

    “The simple and not so simple physics of a number of climate parameters, are programmed into the climate computer models. Many of these parameters, it is acknowledged, are not completely understood or that there is serious contentious debate about in the scientific literature. ie aerosols, clouds, solar pacific and atlantic oscillations, volcanoes, etc,etc”

    First, oceanic cycles are not “programmed in” or “left out” of models of the climate. They are an emergent property of the system. If you get the physics correct, then you will see the cycles emerge. And yes, the cycles emerge when the models are run. Next, solar cycles. Modellers have two options when running their models. They can choose a constant sun ( hold TSI constant) and they can predict an 11 year cycle going forward. Both are done. The thought is that the answers from these different choice should bound the problem. Volcanoes? The runs are made assuming no volcanoes. As such they present a higher bound. Also recognize that cooling due to volcanoes is transient. so there is no point in modelling them. As for the the other parameters there are something on the order of 30 or so. Some new work is being done to explore the effect of these throughout the parameter space ( with perturbed physics and stochastic methods and emulation ) Bottom line, if I ask you what will the sea level be in 2100 you have the following choices:

    1. throw up your hands and say it cant be calculated.
    2. Run a bunch of GCMs and give a projection. This projection will be imperfect,
    it will have a wide range of values. None of them will forecast a cooling. The majority project a future that has an increased risk to life and property as we know it.
    It’s limited science, but the best we happen to have.

    We can complain that climate science is not like experimental science. That’s trivially true. For my own part, living on an earthquake fault, I know one thing. I know that predicting an earthquake exactly is impossible to date. That does not mean I reject the science that says I’m more likely to see a earthquake in my lifetime than my sister living in michigan. And that uncertainty in when I will get hit does not mean I should do nothing. It means I make preparations. My sister who lives in tornado land, likewise does not distrust the science of tornados simply because the “predictions” are uncertain. She does not ignore the “watches” because watches are usually wrong. And she certainly doesnt ignore the “warnings” even though they are often false alarms. Some however feel that they can wait till they actually see a tornado before they do something. People judge risk differently. With warming some people see a bigger risk, others see less risk or no risk. And those who see a bigger risk think changing our behavior can mitigate the risk. That’s a tough problem. It’s not helped by mischaracterizing the science ( by either side )

  80. IF water vapor is a much more potent greenhouse gas than CO2 (as everyone seems to agree), and IF a warmer planet would be such a colossal bummer (a proposition that many disagree with, including me), THEN why all the hubbub about limiting CO2 emissions when water vapor is the chief “culprit”?

    Why not limit the emission of water vapor?

    Yes, climate fans. It is time to ban the brewing of tea, coffee, and chicken soup. No more hot showers for you! Steam kills! OABTW, no more breathing either. That sort of anti-Gaia behavior produces both catastrophic GHG pollutants.

  81. onion:

    The uncertainty is in how much warming effect. But uncertainty works both ways. If you want to tug out the uncertainty to claim there might not be any warming, then the same added slack also means there could be horrific amount of warming.

    Aha, the “Climate Science” CAGW Propaganda Operation’s main “[corrupt] ends justifies [corrupt] means” means, the fearmongering, self-contradictory Precautionary Principle: “we should commit a nearly certain regressive, de-evolutionary suicide as soon as possible, ‘before it’s too late’, when we all could conceiveably die” from an “horrific amount of warming” – but which has strangely never happened before with much higher atmospheric concentrations of CO2, which, if anything, are still known to follow temperature moves up and down, not preceed them, CAGW’s current, resolutely self-imposed “travesty” notwithstanding.

    Meanwhile the dogmatic, backwardly programmed anti-scientific GCM’s ~”can’t explain the past temperature course without CO2″, while they can’t make any successful temperature predictions with CO2.

    Therefore, there’s actually not much uncertainty about what we shouldn’t do: we shouldn’t undertake nearly certain regressively suicidal measures merely to allegedly prevent a just barely conceiveable – because anything coherently imaginable is always still possible – yet CAGW GCM mandated, “horrific amount of warming”, especially when GW has also never been shown to be a net disease by any empirical or hypothetically equal consideration, that is, one which would also take into account the probable benefits of GW all the way up to the wildly speculative possible ones, just like the “Climate Science” CAGW Propaganda Operation has done by instead demonizing fossil fuel CO2 and disasterizing Global Warming.

  82. An odd fact for Mr. Woods

    -As one of your fellow guest column writers I have to admit that I don’t even understand what I don’t know about climate.. however
    I do know a little bit about computing and packaged risk simulation.

    In particular you mention the financial market chaos that resulted when reality revealed the risk assessments on repackaged financials (mainly 3rd party mortgages) to have been far too optimistic.

    These assessments are based on well understood models whose values are estimated using some form of simulation (usually monte carlo). As it turned out.. an unknown degree of error had been introduced into the computations used by many financial houses because the randomization function on Intel processors turned out not to produce results sufficiently close to random to meet theoretical requirements.

    One of the fun things about this was that everyone involved knew the risks, many knew that valuations produced on SPARC and PPC equipment were lower than those produced on Intel boxes, but nobody (significant in the industry) did anything about it. The explanation I have from someone directly involved, who claims to have tried to speak up, is the obvious one: his bosses liked the higher values much better – but the bottom line is that no one really knows whether the differences mattered (in terms of triggering the defaults) or what drove senior management’s indifference to warnings from techies.

  83. Bravo. That is the most simple and brilliant analogy I have ever read to show the difference between a simple, and chaotic system. Where will the feather land indeed!!

    You are right Anthony, someone needs to make a simple video for this, and make it go viral on YouTube.

  84. Steven, I actually agree with your post. I think natural forcing GCMs work should continue and these dynamical models improved. Until then, work on models used to generate anthropogenic forcing is a step ahead of its time, if indeed the results will be used in making policy.

  85. vukcevic says:
    December 28, 2010 at 8:15 am

    “It looks like as you and your long gone astro friends may have been right but for wrong reason.
    I am astonished.”

    Must be the right reason as they would not know where Uranus was.
    {89.5yr is good for the AO} http://jisao.washington.edu/ao/

  86. “Carbon dioxide is regulated for diverse purposes but not as a toxic substance.

    The U.S. EPA CO2 exposure limits: The U.S. EPA recommends a maximum concentration of Carbon dioxide CO2 of 1000 ppm (0.1%) for continuous exposure.
    ASHRAE standard 62-1989 recommends an indoor air ventilation standard of 20 cfm per person of outdoor air or a CO2 level which is below 1000ppm.
    NIOSH CO2 exposure limits: NIOSH recommends a maximum concentration of carbon dioxide of 10,000 ppm or 1% (for the workplace, for a 10-hr work shift with a ceiling of 3.0% or 30,000 ppm for any 10-minute period). These are the highest threshold limit value (TLV) and permissible exposure limit (PEL) assigned to any material.
    OSHA CO2 exposure limits: OSHA recommends a lowest oxygen concentration of 19.5% in the work place for a full work-shift exposure. As we calculated above, for the indoor workplace oxygen level to reach 19.5% (down from its normal 20.9% oxygen level in outdoor air) by displacement of oxygen by CO2, that is, to reduce the oxygen level by about 6%, the CO2 or carbon dioxide level would have to increase to about 1.4% 14,000 ppm.
    In summary, OSHA, NIOSH, and ACGIH occupational exposure standards are 0.5% CO2 (5,000 ppm) averaged over a 40 hour week, 0.3% (3,000 ppm) average for a short-term (15 minute) exposure [we discuss and define "short term exposure limits" STEL below], and 4% (40,000 ppm) as the maximum instantaneous limit considered immediately dangerous to life and health. All three of these exposure limit conditions must be satisfied, always and together.

    Bryan says:
    December 28, 2010 at 6:32 am
    Ric Werme

    ……..380 ppm of CO can’t possibly have an impact on people. (Exposure limits are 25-50 ppm, 400ppm for 4 hours can kill.)………

    ———

    Dude,
    It really gets old being called a science denier by someone so non-conversant in the facts that they get Co and CO2 confused and force a poison gas narrative and then advertise their ignorance. I mean, really old.

  87. “Even at 0.039% concentration, the earth’s atmosphere is completely opaque to these IR wavelengths, which is radiated from the surfaces heated by the Sun’s rays. ”

    I take issue with the “opaque” statement. Isn’t it really transluscent? The IR scatters but eventually finds its way out at the top.

  88. Steve from Rockwood said:

    I read that a green-house was using levels of 1,500 ppm CO2 to achieve greater growth rates in plants without any harm to humans. But I have a feeling there may not be an upper level for CO2 that poses risks to humans, other than the effects of the dreaded AGW (such as longer winters etc).

    IIRC the upper limit for humans (and most other mammals) is something over 4%. Which is 40,000 ppm. Otherwise the so called “kiss of life” would be impossible. Really only an issue around certain volcanic vents or in designing systems for submarines and spacecraft.

  89. @vukcevic says:
    December 28, 2010 at 8:15 am

    In fact two of the JSU synodic periods in 48.333yrs are at 2.25 and 3.25, so cannot be producing this period.

  90. RockyRoad said:

    You have to determine something is “broke” before you “fix” it. Please, don’t go assuming or projecting a broken earth and then be a busy-body running around “fixing” it.

    Trying to “fix” something which isn’t “broken” in the first place also runs the risk of “breaking” it too. A complete waste of time and resources is possibly a best case senario.

    For pete’s sake, there are more than sufficient REAL problems facing us without inventing a bunch of hypothetical imaginary problems.

    Together with the possibility of creating lots of real problems in the attempt to fix imaginary ones. e.g. ethanol from maize as a fuel and so called “green electricity” which turns out to be more expensive and less sustainable than burning coal.

  91. vukcevic says:
    December 28, 2010 at 5:21 am
    No set of physical laws can model climate accurately, but there are number of events with possible links (sometimes with no clear mechanism) which can have an input, but they are often ignored.
    For years a ‘60 year climate cycle’ has been favoured by many, but I could not find obvious presence of it in the longest temperature record available (CET – Central England Temperature, Met Office). However there are 40-50 years long undulations, which appear to have some similarity with the simple orbital resonance cycle of the Jovian planets.

    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/CETpr.htm

    If there is a link, how does it work?
    I think it is based on the geomagnetic reaction to the solar storms, whereby origin or the heliocentric longitudinal direction of these events (solar storms /magnetic ropes ) is affected by the magnetic configuration of the ‘nearby’ (inner) heliosphere.
    But this may be only one of the factors affecting ‘natural climate oscillations’ as perceived from the CET data.

    Heat content is not equal to temperature.

    The CET will be strongly influenced by the humidity warmish wet winds from an Atlantic depression will hold far more heat than a dry anticyclonic airmass yet the maximum temperatures with the anticyclone will be higher than in the cloudy wet depression.

    So looking for heat energy changes by using the Central England Temperature record will almost certainly be misleading.

  92. it is only a simplified analogy to make a (I thought humourous) point..

    I am well aware of the complexities of computer models and the limitations,the IPCC say ‘projections’ and ‘scenarios’, BUT they know full well they will be claimed by others to be predictions.. The silence of the lambs (scientists) fail to correct the media misrepresentations.

    My point is the media/political/lobby group handling of this sceince.

    Sea level rises an example, 2m plus, 4m, 20 feet (Gore) received loads of press, since 2007 IPCC AR4. Not in AR4, but IPCC were scientists lobbying and headlines in the media about how the IPCC did not go far enough.

    Yet, we had a publication recently by AVOID – Hadley Centre, Tyndall, Walker Institute, Grantham Institute, which say 2m very very, unlikely,(always was), the gulf stream is not shutting down, and the very worst case is 59cm, on a computer model, and most likey is 1-2 feet, observed trends of actual sea level rise, are at the very low end of ‘projections..

    Also that old rainforest does absorb CO2, 3 things that were getting headlines amongst alarmist lobby groups.

    How many column inches did this get in the UK, pg 19, 1/2 a column.. !!!

    You might think the media and lobby groups would welcome headline, front page good environmental news…

    This is not about science, it is about the manipulation/presentation of by vested interests, PR, media communications strategies..

    I asked an IPCC Working Group 1 editor (a very good friend) of the Summary for Policymakers, etc about sea level pronouncements that were scaring my children (copenhagen time), lots of alarmist videos, tv headlines

    My friend said, no worst case 59cm, nothing had changed… Did not feel it their responsibilty to correct the media misrepresentation though… poltics nothing to do with them. We disagree about this.

    High profile, media faced scientists that do not correct the Gore, Greenpeaces of the world, get no sympathy from me.

    I imagine, if it helped push policy along a little, then blind eyes, good cause, good intentions were used to excuse the alarmism. which in the end has turned out to be totally counter-productive

    In the Greenpeace -Angry Kid – video for example, the ‘child’ says (agressively) BOTH polar caps will be gone in my lifetime… A statement (ie includes antartica) which is without any foundation and is ridiculous, yet to challenge it is to be called a denier.

    I am characterisisng the politics and media – not the science. I hope the feather analogy was humourous, to show the ridiculousness of it all.

  93. Steven Mosher says:
    December 28, 2010 at 10:25 am
    That does not mean I reject the science that says I’m more likely to see a earthquake in my lifetime than my sister living in michigan.
    ===========================================================
    SISO – silly in silly out

    it also does not mean that the rest of the world should tip toe around either……..

    Steve, the odds of predicting earthquakes is a good analogy for predicting global warming, neither ‘science’ can predict anything, both sciences are based on trends, and both sciences are playing the odds……that’s all.

  94. Steven Mosher says:
    December 28, 2010 at 10:25 am

    (a lot)
    ======================================================

    IDK Steven, I think after a human generation, continually and consistently getting it wrong tells me this “best we have” thought is insufficient. There’s nothing wrong with pursuing the science as a question. What is wrong making assertions and misleading people into thinking there are reasonable assumptions. They’ve been proven not to be.

    Also, being a veteran of tornadoes, earthquakes, and climate catastrophe predictions predicated on atmospheric CO2 content, lumping them into the same category seems to be quite a stretch to me. Tornado warnings tell of possible imminent danger. Your earthquake predictions tells us you probably will experience an earthquake if you don’t move. Both have demonstrable utility. CO2 climate catastrophe predictions? I haven’t seen one demonstrable utility. Forgive me if I question whether they are engaged in actual science or not. Even with tornado warnings, I don’t see scientists running amok, wildly flapping their arms declaring “the sky is falling”. I think your particular “mischaracterization” was entirely too generous towards the people practicing what you call climate science. I call it a fancy way to read tea leaves while ensuring a Malthusian solution to an imaginary problem. With their generation of errors, they just as well start feeling for bumps on people’s heads.

  95. Steven Mosher says:
    December 28, 2010 at 10:25 am

    Bottom line, if I ask you what will the sea level be in 2100 you have the following choices:
    1. Throw up your hands and say it can’t be calculated.
    2. Run a bunch of GCMs and give a projection.

    I choose #1 above, unless you happen know that the coupled, non-linear, partial differential equations and their boundary/initial conditions which “govern” the air-ocean-land climate physics are solvable (i.e. the problem is mathematically well-posed) and that the numerical discretizations and algorithms used to solve those equations are stable and don’t introduce appreciable truncation errors over the range of time scales considered in typical GCM runs.

    I have no problem with scientists using GCMs as research tools, but unfortunately Steve, they are now using them as political tools, and the policies that will emerge from their advocacy will have a measurably negative impact on my life. And some are even using their work become publicity hounds and climate heroes, all while increasing their bank accounts at the expense of tax payers. I, for one, will pledge in 2011 to try to reign in the madness that climate science has become by advocating for smarter, cheaper, and more streamlined government climate research efforts commensurate with the (small) risks posed by “climate change,” and channeling the money saved into areas that will have a REAL impact on people’s lives…like cancer research, feeding and housing the poor, etc.

  96. Dear Mr Mosher……”The results are not called predictions, because they are not.” OK . I’ve got that. A statement of fact.
    “The IPCC is being quite accurate in its description of the results as “projections”. I can follow that too. Something that is not a prediction being called something else is very reasonable, even after allowing reservations over the source of the word, “projection”.
    “They are predictions, subject to emission scenarios that we cannot fully control.”

    Now I’m confused. I am assuming that a prediction consists of a few core statements together with a series of peripheral statements considered of varying likelihood by the originator.
    From not being a prediction at all, a projection is now a prediction with bells and whistles which turn it into an uncontrolled prediction, which is not a prediction because it is uncontrolled. What gives?

  97. Barry: 2nd word in your article should be corrected to ‘too’. [Fixed, thanx. ~dbs, mod]

    @James Sexton: ‘tenant’ should be corrected to ‘tenet’.

    I’m sure there are many more. Nobody proofreads anymore.

  98. @Mark says:

    ‘December 28, 2010 at 10:50 am
    Steve from Rockwood said:

    I read that a green-house was using levels of 1,500 ppm CO2 to achieve greater growth rates in plants without any harm to humans. But I have a feeling there may not be an upper level for CO2 that poses risks to humans, other than the effects of the dreaded AGW (such as longer winters etc).

    IIRC the upper limit for humans (and most other mammals) is something over 4%. Which is 40,000 ppm. Otherwise the so called “kiss of life” would be impossible. Really only an issue around certain volcanic vents or in designing systems for submarines and spacecraft.’

    Pending on the stuff you grow it seems most plants fair better between 500-1000 ppm, lest they become too weak, probably due to nutrient deficiency. Of course you can’t just add CO2 and hope for the best you still need water (and usually humidity), sun (or equivalent), and nutrients. Simple rule of thumb the more hours of sunlight (or equivalent) and higher concentrations of CO2, the more nutrient and water you need, otherwise you get weak sodding plants.

    And 4% is, I believe, what we humans exhale, so it ought to be way higher ‘an that I should hope. :p

  99. variables to calculate and some of those variable are unknown at this time.

    Dave Springer says:
    December 28, 2010 at 8:55 am
    stephen richards says:
    December 28, 2010 at 7:32 am

    I have see the experiment done under medical supervision. You are asleep before there is any discomfort.

  100. L. Hampton says:
    December 28, 2010 at 7:04 am

    Ric Werme says:

    “Don’t fall prey to the trace gas argument lest you forget that reducing CO2 by just a couple hundred ppm will kill plants or that 380 ppm of CO can’t possibly have an impact on people. (Exposure limits are 25-50 ppm, 400ppm for 4 hours can kill.)”

    How could exposure limits be 25-50 ppm when our own atmosphere has 380 ppm?

    As RT noted, I changed to the effects of another trace gas. I was going to call it out better, but forgot in my haste to head out to work. My apologies for not being more clear.

    People can handle several percent CO2 without much trouble. Usually in such environments O2 is depleted an equal amount. If you work with dry ice, (I did one summer), then not so much depletion.

  101. Kay says:
    December 28, 2010 at 7:50 am

    @ Ric Werme
    [...]380 ppm of CO can’t possibly have an impact on people. (Exposure limits are 25-50 ppm, 400ppm for 4 hours can kill.) [...]

    What hogwash. First of all, you’re talking about CO, not CO2.

    Yes I did, and intentionally to show a close relative gas at similar concentrations could have a significant effect on something. I wouldn’t wash a hog with that, but whatever floats your boat. :-)

    Second, according to OSHA, the continuous exposure limit is 1,000 ppm,

    At least I stated what I was changing the subject to.

  102. Dave Worley says:
    December 28, 2010 at 10:46 am
    “Even at 0.039% concentration, the earth’s atmosphere is completely opaque to these IR wavelengths, which is radiated from the surfaces heated by the Sun’s rays. ”

    I take issue with the “opaque” statement. Isn’t it really transluscent? The IR scatters but eventually finds its way out at the top.

    In the world of “simple physics” , the IR is totally absorbed by CO2, but, yes, in the real worlds (of Mars and Earth) other processes come into play: scattering, diffusion, convection etc, so most of that heat slips away. In the case of Mars, where the CO2 is isolated from water vapor, the warming effect of CO2 is negligible, in spite of the 30 x concentration (per unit area) compared to Earth.

  103. I mentioned economists/banking/computer modelling

    This is an interesting comment, found again at Climate Etc

    http://judithcurry.com/2010/11/12/the-denizens-of-climate-etc/#comment-25862

    “….One of my biggest surprises is to see people grant GCMs credibility in predicting the future. The ability to hindcast is not the same as the ability to predict. I once bought some expensive software to help me predict the stock market. It had lots of parameters and you could use any subset you chose to hindcast a particular stock or a market index on different timescales. I only needed three or four parameters to create a perfect hindcast. But it had no predictive value and I lost a ton of money. Any software that is “tunable,” as all GCMs are, have zero predictive value. I don’t understand why people do not see this. If validation and verification were done properly, GCMs would be extinct by now.”

  104. Paul Murphy says: December 28, 2010 at 10:33 amAn odd fact for Mr. Woods
    “-As one of your fellow guest column writers I have to admit that I don’t even understand what I don’t know about climate.. however
    I do know a little bit about computing and packaged risk simulation.
    In particular you mention the financial market chaos that resulted when reality revealed the risk assessments on repackaged financials (mainly 3rd party mortgages) to have been far too optimistic.
    These assessments are based on well understood models whose values are estimated using some form of simulation (usually monte carlo). As it turned out.. an unknown degree of error had been introduced into the computations used by many financial houses because the randomization function on Intel processors turned out not to produce results sufficiently close to random to meet theoretical requirements.
    One of the fun things about this was that everyone involved knew the risks, many knew that valuations produced on SPARC and PPC equipment were lower than those produced on Intel boxes, but nobody (significant in the industry) did anything about it. The explanation I have from someone directly involved, who claims to have tried to speak up, is the obvious one: his bosses liked the higher values much better – but the bottom line is that no one really knows whether the differences mattered (in terms of triggering the defaults) or what drove senior management’s indifference to warnings from techies.”

    No computer models were needed relative to the financial debacle to see what was happening. Banks were forced to make bad loans or be accused od “redlining” by the feds as far back as the 1970′s and the Community Reinvestment Act. The government then created quasi-governmental agencies to buy the bad loans which encouraged the the banks to make more and worse deals. Add to this the continuous redefinition of inflation by the feds to effectively lower reported inflation to allow for lowering interest rates and you get what we got. Carving the loans up into strips etc to sell simply made things even worse. What a surprise! No risk models needed to figure this stuff out. Now we have some of those same governmental functionaries who created the mess “fixing” things for us. God help us.

  105. Pete Olson says:
    December 28, 2010 at 11:14 am

    Barry: 2nd word in your article should be corrected to ‘too’. [Fixed, thanx. ~dbs, mod]

    @James Sexton: ‘tenant’ should be corrected to ‘tenet’.

    I’m sure there are many more. Nobody proofreads anymore.
    =======================================================

    Sure mod, fix your stuff and leave me hangin’!
    [Reply: It wasn't my stuff, it was a main article typo. My apologies for not fixing 'tenet' (now fixed). Correcting blog spelling is a Sysiphean task, which I try to do between approving comments when I have time. But there isn't enough time in the world to fix every spelling error. Can you imagine trying to fix my friend UCLA English Professor Steve Mosher's grammar and typos? Egad.☺ ~dbs]

    Thanks Pete, the problem is, when we write a thought, often when we go back over what we just wrote, it simply appears like what we intended to write, not what we really wrote.

    In spite of my heterographic difficulties, I’m hopeful that I was able to convey my meaning.

  106. Well I don’t want to be too critical Barry; we need all the help we can get. But lets talk about this “CO2 in a jar” experiment in a bit more quantitative terms.

    Well to be an honest test, they should make up the air samples out of pure Nitrogen, Oxygen, and Argon, in the correct standard air ratios; and perhaps one sample should contain 280 ppm (0.028%) of CO2, while the other contains 560 ppm (0.056) of CO2 ; AND NO H2O AT ALL !! We can’t have any false effects caused by water vapor can we.

    We should also QUIT TELLING PEOPLE THAT THE WARMING IS LOGARITHMIC WITH CO2 ABUNDANCE.

    It ISN’T, so get over it. IT MAY BE NON-LINEAR WITH CO2 BUT IT ISN’T LOGARITHMIC.

    If the warming (CLIMATE SENSITIVITY) was 3 deg C per doubling +/- 50%, that would mean going from 280 ppm to 560 ppm, would give the same 3 deg C Temp rise, as going from 1 ppm to 2 ppm; or going from one molecule of CO2 in 22.4 litres of standard atmosphere to 2 molecules of CO2 in 22.4 litres of air.

    So stop saying it’s logarithmic; it ISN’T; and there’s no data that even hints thatr it is; with a 3:1 uncertainty in CS; you couldn’t possible separate linear from logarithmic; and there is no Physical theory that suggests it should be logarithmic.

    But we’ll play along with their mythology.
    Our 2:1 ration of CO2 from 280 to 560 ppm of CO2 should give us a 3deg C rise; when subjected to irradiation from an LWIR thermal emissions spectrum, at an equivalent Temperature of 288 Kelvins. That source emits 390 Watts per Square metre of radiation with a peak emission wavelength of 10.1 microns; and the CO2 takes out part of the 13.5 to 16.5 range of that spectrum.

    BUT !!!! the common lab experiment to demonstrate that, uses a HIGHER TEMPERATURE incandescent light bulb source; which has an effective emission temperature more like 2880 K than 288 K, so it is TEN TIMES HOTTER than it is supposed to be.

    So instead of radiating about 400 W/m^2, it is radiating 10,000 times that or 4 MILLION WATTS PER SQUARE METRE.

    The sun surface is only about double the temperature of the incandescent lamp, so it only emits 16 times what the lamp does, or about 64 million Watts per square metre. That is attenuated by the distance from the sun down to only 1366 W/m^2 at the position of earth’s orbit.

    So the incandescent lamp at 4 million Watts per m^2 is 2930 times the TSI at earth.

    So is it any woner those fake experiments show some warming.

    REPLACE THE INCANDESCENT LAMP, WITH AN ORDINARY BOTTLE OF DRINKING WATER AND SEE HOW MUCH TEMPERATURE RISE YOU GET FROM THE DOUBLED (560 PPM) CO2 SAMPLE.

    That bottle of water is likely at 20-25 deg C temperature so even that is radiating more that the average earth surface is.

  107. One of my complaints about the wikipedia articles ran along a similar fashion. They tend not to explain the theory in full and focus on CO2. I believe this is done because that is what is shown on the news and taught in the schools – if you keep it simple then people can understand it and therefore believe it. It doesn’t matter if what they understand is wrong.

    This is why the global warming articles don’t talk a lot of about the theoretical positive feedbacks and how the models rely on them. It complicates it, and people can begin to see the flaws in the hypothesis.

  108. The old hippie’s view:

    Several hundred million years ago, CO2 concentration in the atmosphere was considerably higher than today. It was also a little warmer. The biosphere thrived! In fact, the biosphere went into a sort of “overshoot” condition: plants grew faster than they could decay. Plants fell over on each other, and carbon was buried, cruelly isolated from the cycle of life from which it sprang. Now, human activities have liberated some of this entrapped carbon, re-introducing it to the carbon cycle, where it belongs. Gaia smiles.

    Love, peace, and happiness,
    Frank

  109. Rick Werme:

    Don’t fall prey to the trace gas argument lest you forget that reducing CO2 by just a couple hundred ppm will kill plants or that 380 ppm of CO can’t possibly have an impact on people. (Exposure limits are 25-50 ppm, 400ppm for 4 hours can kill.)

    Bollocks. Those are ludicrous numbers. Indoor and household levels are typically over 600 ppm. People work longer than 4 hrs. in greenhouses at 1-3,000 ppm; miners work in as much as 35,000 ppm. Tends, until you are acclimatized, to cause a physiological deep breathing response because rise in blood CO2 is used by the body to determine oxygenation levels indirectly. So you might hyperventilate for a while.

    At 1% concentration of carbon dioxide CO2 (10,000 parts per million or ppm) and under continuous exposure at that level, such as in an auditorium filled with occupants and poor fresh air ventilation, some occupants are likely to feel drowsy.
    The concentration of carbon dioxide must be over about 2% (20,000 ppm) before most people are aware of its presence unless the odor of an associated material (auto exhaust or fermenting yeast, for instance) is present at lower concentrations.
    Above 2%, carbon dioxide may cause a feeling of heaviness in the chest and/or more frequent and deeper respirations.
    If exposure continues at that level for several hours, minimal “acidosis” (an acid condition of the blood) may occur but more frequently is absent.
    Breathing rate doubles at 3% CO2 and is four times the normal rate at 5% CO2.
    Toxic levels of carbon dioxide: at levels above 5%, concentration CO2 is directly toxic.

    So start to worry about “doubling” when we get to 25,000 ppm, ‘K?

    [Reply] Check the difference between CO, carbon monoxide, and co2, carbon dioxide. RT-mod

  110. Max Hugoson says:
    December 28, 2010 at 7:24 am

    As to the “trace gas effect”, I’d recommend Dr. Walter Elsasser’s “On the Infra-red Heat Balance of the Atmosphere”. (Harvard Meteorological Series, 1942) On page 23 he explains exclusion of the CO2 contribution to the exchange in the “tropopshere” (to about 40,000 feet) due to the fact that 0 to 40,000 feet it’s an equal exchange agent…outflux and influx. (Above 40,000 feet it’s a cooling agent, has to due with “view angle”.)

    I agree about Elsasser’s paper – it is excellent. If anyone thinks this issue is a matter of simple physics reading 100 pages of data packed theory should put them right!

    Amongst the most important findings is that CO2 radiates about 18% of all the energy the earth radiates into space ( i.e. ignoring reflection). So its cooling effect at the tropopause is very important. Simple physics will therefore tell you that if you increase the amount of CO2 you will increase the amount of outgoing radiation and the earth will cool down!

    Of course I am joking. There is no such thing as simple physics. There is just simplistic physics which ignores half the variables and most of the interactions.

    However there are some simple rules that have to be obeyed. Like the conservation of energy. Because of these simple rules one can be pretty sure that CO2, even in very low concentrations, does reduce the energy lost to space. That 18% of the earth’s energy budget radiated in the 14-18 micron band would be higher if it were radiated directly from the surface (at say 290K ). In practice the energy at these wavelengths is absorbed very quickly by CO2 molecules within a few hundred feet and then re-radiated in all directions. The upward radiation is further absorbed and re-radiated until it reaches the tropopause where the CO2 density is such that the majority of the radiation is lost to space. The temperature of the tropopause is about 22oK and this lower temperature reduces the energy loss at these wavelengths. The earth’s surface thereore warms up (as a consquence of the downward CO2 radiation) until it reaches a temperature at which the radiation at the other wavelengths are enough to ensure that energy-in equals energy-out.

    However few effects in nature increase without limit. If there were no CO2 in the atmosphere 14 -18 micron radiation would be emitted from the surface. The addition of a few parts per million would move the 14-18 micron radiating layer from the surface to say 6000 metres. Doubling the concentration would raise this height further and so on until its current level around 14Km. Each doubling would result in an increase in height, a drop in temperature, a drop in energy radiated and a compensating increase in surface temperature. This is the simple logarithmic effect of CO2 concentrations. But it assumes a constant decrease of temperature with altitude. However at the current level it is either within the tropopause or very close to it. By definition the temperature of this part of the atmosphere is constant (it does not vary with height). So as one increases the density of CO2 from current levels why should the amount of energy radiated into space decrease?

    I have asked this question on this blog twice before in case one of the experts knows the answer and I have also raised it directly with the Met Office and two professors of climate science. No one has yet given me any explanation let alone a believeable one. One believeable mechanism would be that as the CO2 increases further the temperature of the tropopause drops – that is the height at which it starts increases. However this is eminently measureable so someone should know if this is happening.

    I somehow think that if it was happening we would have heard about it.

  111. Rick Werme;
    Looking at your figures, I think you’ve slipped a couple of decimal places. Those numbers would be about right if multiplied by 100.

  112. Ulric Lyons says:
    December 28, 2010 at 10:55 am
    ……….
    I was surprised by closeness of figure you quoted 44.75 and what I came up with 44.83
    since I used rounded year numbers, and even more by the resonance and temperature average periods. My calculations are based on geo-centric reference , I will eventually write a detailed description.
    I don’t think AMO has constant periodicity, some different ideas here:

    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/NFC1.htm

    and

    http://www.vukcevic.talktalk.net/NPG.htm

    last graph on the webpage.

  113. The comparison between the use of computers to model earthquakes and the use of computers to model the effect of co2 on the Earths atmosphere is not a good one .We have physical evidence that waves traveling through the Earth damage buildings independently of the models but that is not the case for climate models and co2,there is no physical evidence that co2 causes the Earths atmosphere to warm independently of the models.

  114. Frank Kotler says:
    December 28, 2010 at 12:21 pm
    The old hippie’s view:
    Several hundred million years ago, CO2 concentration in the atmosphere was considerably higher than today. It was also a little warmer. The biosphere thrived! In fact, the biosphere went into a sort of “overshoot” condition: plants grew faster than they could decay. Plants fell over on each other, and carbon was buried, cruelly isolated from the cycle of life from which it sprang. Now, human activities have liberated some of this entrapped carbon, re-introducing it to the carbon cycle, where it belongs. Gaia smiles.
    ========================================================
    Frank, that is a very good point.
    No one brings up the fact that CO2 levels have fallen, and why.

    It you compare it to a closed system, they will reach an equilibrium that barely sustains them.

  115. Mike D. says:
    December 28, 2010 at 10:30 am

    Why not limit the emission of water vapor?

    That would be too easy. Condensors are old-tech.

  116. [Reply: It wasn't my stuff, it was a main article typo. My apologies for not fixing 'tenet' (now fixed). Correcting blog spelling is a Sysiphean task, which I try to do between approving comments when I have time. But there isn't enough time in the world to fix every spelling error. Can you imagine trying to fix my friend UCLA English Professor Steve Mosher's grammar and typos? Egad.☺ ~dbs]
    ========================================================

    You are the man! You know, I was only poking fun and didn’t expect you to correct any of my endless mispellings and grammars failures. Steve M is about the only one hear that’s worse than me. :-) Sisyphean

    Thanks db.

  117. “In sum, a strategy must recognize what is possible. In climate research and modeling, we should recognize that we are dealing with a coupled nonlinear chaotic system, and therefore that long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible.”

    “For decades, most economists, including the world’s most powerful central bankers, have supposed that people are rational enough, and the working of markets smooth enough, that the whole economy can be reduced to a handful of equations. They assemble the equations into mathematical models that attempt to mimic the behavior of the economy. From Washington to Frankfurt to Tokyo, the models inform crucial decisions about everything from the right level of interest rates to how to regulate banks. In the wake of a financial crisis and punishing recession that the models failed to capture, a growing number of economists are beginning to question the intellectual foundations on which the models are built. Researchers, some of whom spent years on the academic margins, are offering up a barrage of ideas that they hope could form the building blocks of a new paradigm.” (from “Economists’ Grail: A Post-Crash Model”, by Mark Whitehouse, Wall Street Journal, 30 November 2010).

    “The Electric Power Research Institute, Inc. (EPRI, http://www.epri.com) is seeking one or more Economists – Global Climate who will be responsible for conducting and supporting economic and technology analyses of energy and environmental policy options, particularly on the U.S. energy sector. Most time will be spent developing and running large scale and computable general equilibrium models.” (http://tbe.taleo.net/NA5/ats/careers/requisition.jsp?org=EPRI&cws=1&rid=600)

    So EPRI wants to incorporate the unpredictability of climate science into the complexity of the economic system and use a general equilibrium model to represent the outcomes?

    Anybody interested in trying to advise EPRI?

  118. Steven Mosher says:
    December 28, 2010 at 10:25 am

    ‘”The is a gross misunderstanding of the situation. In a controlled experiment we may say “if I increase the concentration of X, then Y will respond like so” Then, as experimenters we are given clear directions. Increase X, observe Y. However, in climate science and in other areas of scientific investigation we cannot control X.’

    Right. In astronomy, you cannot control what you study. That means your experiments are passive rather than active. But it does not change scientific method and it does not excuse the use of computer models as substitutes for experiments, whether passive or active. Computer models are good for analytical purposes. They cannot replace reasonably well-confirmed hypotheses or actual experiments that test hypotheses. If you would think about it for a minute, you would realize that if you had reasonably well confirmed hypotheses you would have no desire for a computer model of the very phenomena that the hypotheses explain. On the other hand, if you have collected a lot of observations then programming them into the most advanced computer is not going to produce a hypothesis to explain the salient features of what you observed. Computers do not do synthesis. Only the human mind does synthesis. Of course, y0u can sometimes surprise yourself with the outcomes of a computer program, but that is only because your brain is not powerful enough to see all the implications of its relevant set of assumptions. The surprise you experience is the product of analysis not synthesis.

  119. Steven Mosher says:
    December 28, 2010 at 10:25 am

    …We can complain that climate science is not like experimental science. That’s trivially true. For my own part, living on an earthquake fault, I know one thing. I know that predicting an earthquake exactly is impossible to date. That does not mean I reject the science that says I’m more likely to see a earthquake in my lifetime than my sister living in michigan.

    That’s a bit of apples/oranges considering most of our understanding of when to expect earthquakes comes from a detailed study of the history of the soil to find when earthquakes have occurred and where. We know how often the San Andreas goes off from soil samples all over the U.S., so we know it’s reasonable to expect one soon. The picture with regards to historical climate is far more murky. There is no definitive record of when and where things changed. In fact we’re just at the beginning of nailing down precisely what has happened in order to learn from it. So to this point in time, history isn’t nearly as useful a tool in educating ourselves as to what to expect from the Earths climate. With the political pressure generated by alarmism, the field has relied on models far more than seismology ever would.

    I would say it’s far more reasonable to ignore what climate scientists say than seismologists, even though seismologists never publicly predict anything. Seismology didn’t put the cart before the horse.

  120. Steven Mosher writes:

    “1. throw up your hands and say it cant be calculated.
    2. Run a bunch of GCMs and give a projection. This projection will be imperfect,
    it will have a wide range of values. None of them will forecast a cooling. The majority project a future that has an increased risk to life and property as we know it.
    It’s limited science, but the best we happen to have.”

    It is not a science. It is a collection of really good hunches. The fact that the subject matter of the hunches is really-really-really important does not make it a science. To have a science, you have to have hypotheses that are reasonably well-confirmed; that is, they must have a history of accurate prediction of real events in the real world that we do not control. Climate science does not have them at this time. In some few decades, it will have them. If what you really care about is doing something about your beliefs on climate change, then stop talking about science and start writing books about your really good hunches on climate.

  121. I’d like to see a separate article by George E. Smith or Ric Werme on the “CO2 in a jar” experiment (which should be redone as “CO2 in a large building” experiment).
    And raspberries to all the people who can’t tell the difference between CO2 and CO.

  122. On Craig Loehle’s earthquake analogy.

    Many characteristics of earthquakes are very well known… it’s seismology. Some of the aspects of a seismic event are very well know and easy to explain by simple laws of physics – how fast a primary wave travels vs the secondary wave. But, the deeper you get into the science, the more you find you’re dealing with calculus and complicated concepts that are not easy even for scientists to decipher. Take for example the 6.7 Northridge earthquake. Even though the overpass span of highway 14 that goes over I-5 was built to withstand a 7 + on the San Andreas, it came down during this weaker quake. Computer models said it wouldn’t, that it was safe. What was missing from the old model was that the fault that produced this quake was closer to the bridge than the San Andreas, and that, because the Northridge fault is a blind thrust fault, and closer to the surface, the inherent differences in the physics of wave propagation generated by the Northridge even was different than that of the San Andreas. The bridge was built at a time when the existence of blind thrust faults was still not confirmed (the 83 Coalinga quake sealed the deal).

    Even more surprising was that the Northridge quake also cracked welds in more than a few high rise buildings in downtown LA. That, according to the models, was absolutely NOT supposed to have happened.

  123. Jeremy says: December 28, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    “I would say it’s far more reasonable to ignore what climate scientists say than seismologists, even though seismologists never publicly predict anything. Seismology didn’t put the cart before the horse”.

    Actually, I would say that seismologists do pretty well at predicting the What but don’t usually try for the too specific When something is going to happen or the How Much.

  124. “”””” George E. Smith says:
    December 28, 2010 at 11:52 am
    Well I don’t want to be too critical Barry; we need all the help we can get. But lets talk about this “CO2 in a jar” experiment in a bit more quantitative terms. “””””

    WRT my comment at the above hour; I omitted one further effect.

    As a result of the incandescent lamp being ten times the temperature of the typical earth surface emitting LWIR than CO2 intercepts, the emitted spectrum is quite different, adn instead of peaking at about 10.1 microns the lamp peaks at about 1.0 microns.

    Now 10.1 micron radiation at 400 W/m^2 is completely undetectable by the human body; we are quite oblivious to its presence.

    BUT !! at 1.0 microns, we have an entirely different situation. The human body is mostly water H2O, and H2O has strong absorption bands at 0.94 and 1.1 microns, as well as in the 700 -800 nm range, and also around 2-3 and 3-4 microns; all of which will recieve plenty of power from a 2880 K source emitting 4 megaWatts per square metre.

    It is primarily for this reason that the human body reacts toi intense radiation at around 1 micron and gives us the sensation that we call “heat” or “warmth”.

    So the popular lab demonstration with CO2 laced air is a total fraud. As I said, try it out with a bottle of water instead of the incandescent lamp, and see if the doubled CO2 sample gets three deg C hotter than the other one.

  125. The author writes:
    “In sum, a strategy must recognize what is possible. In climate research and modeling, we should recognize that we are dealing with a coupled nonlinear chaotic system, and therefore that long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible.”

    Sorry, this is not the problem. The problem is that climate science is in its infancy. It has no well-confirmed hypotheses. In a few decades, it will provide us with well-confirmed hypotheses and wonderful information.

    The phrase “chaotic system” confuses many people. First off, whatever it is, it cannot be a chaotic system. Systems are predictable but chaos is unpredictable. What people mean by chaotic system is a system that has inputs which can produce chaos. For example, the fire in my fireplace is a chaotic system. If I put in too much fuel, the house burns. If I put in the wrong kind, the neighborhood burns. If I put in none, the fire dies. See, inputs create chaos. Yet the behavior of fire is perfectly predictable. I suggest that at this time the phrase “chaotic system” has no utility whatsoever.

  126. Sonicfrog says:
    December 28, 2010 at 2:04 pm
    “On Craig Loehle’s earthquake analogy.”

    OMG, stop! You are writing real science! I cannot bear it! It is so full of Humility! Ease up, guy; you’re gonna kill us. ( Really, folks, what Sonicfrog wrote has all the feel of real science. You can’t miss it.)

  127. I saw this somewhere else on WUWT so can’t claim the credit myself but…
    If…if CO2 did what the Warmists Claim i.e. amplify and trap incoming radiation the surely the worlds energy problems would be solved?
    CO2, cheap and plentiful could be piped to giant heat exchangers in desert/ sunny areas where it’s magical properties would allow us to capture and amplify the heat of the sun.
    Forget expensive rare earth solar electric, and clumsy fickle wind power let CO2 save the day! Hurray!

  128. Barry Woods says:
    December 28, 2010 at 11:02 am

    “I am well aware of the complexities of computer models and the limitations,the IPCC say ‘projections’ and ‘scenarios’, BUT they know full well they will be claimed by others to be predictions.. The silence of the lambs (scientists) fail to correct the media misrepresentations.”

    Actually, the wrong doing is much greater. If the IPCC, Mann, Hansen, and the others would qualify the results that they publish, there would be no climate scare. But they give these “projections,” which they call predictions and CLAIM THAT THEY ARE BASED ON THE BEST SCIENCE. That is demonstrably false and they know it. It might be based on the best hunches of the scientists, but it is based on no reasonably well-confirmed hypotheses at all. There is no science. Look at James Hansen. He struggles constantly to update his temperature data so that he can make the current year the hottest year on record. In other words, he struggles to justify his fundamental data record. That is not science that is worth a hearing. Some day there will be a climate science but today there is none.

  129. “Simple physics shows that CO2 has a significant warming effect.” “So whether you consider the science very certain or very uncertain, there’s no basis to argue that the ongoing CO2 rise is safe.”

    Evidence suggests that Climate Sensitivity is in the region of 0.5 degrees Celcius per doubling of CO2. In other words, a four fold doubling (increasing CO2 from pre-industrial levels to 4,000 parts per million) would increase global temperature by something like 2 degrees Celcius. That wouldn’t be very significant. In fact, CO2 concentration has been as high a mere 1% back in the history of the Earth, 50 million years ago, and life thrived.

    If Climate Sensitivity is 0.5 degrees C per doubling of CO2, it’s certain that other factors predominate over CO2 in setting global temperatures. In other words, it’s possible that global temperatures could fall significantly, even as CO2 rises. The consequences could be catastrophic for working class pensioners living in places like Glasgow, who, unable to afford heating, would suffer hypothermia in large numbers.

    That would be a likely consequence of assuming a rise in CO2 is unsafe. “Settled science” could mean death for many people.

  130. “So Galileo Galilei you are a denier! You deny that the Universe orbits the earth?”

    The rest is history, education, and science…

  131. What a fun thread. We even shoehorned in JFK, Joel Shore, and spell checking.

    On the matter of CO and CO2, we inhale 380 ppm and exhale 40,000 ppm, setting some parameters on gas exchange rates in our bodies. As the inhaled percentage goes up, that will affect the exchange efficiency, and at 40,000 ppm, we’re not likely to last very long. CO2 suffocation is Very painful. Try holding your breath for a couple minutes. The body has sensors for CO2, and they let you know when levels get too high.

    We don’t have sensors for oxygen, however. In a low oxygen environment, we just pass out, then die if not rescued. We aren’t even aware that we’re passing out, actually. In the Air Force, we had altitude chamber training to recognize our individual symptoms of hypoxia. Stick you in a big steel tank and pump the air out. Great fun.

    Carbon monoxide has such low toxic numbers because it binds to blood hemoglobin much better than oxygen, cutting off your cells’ oxygen supply. The brain is the first to go (ain’t that the truth), so the results are the same as in an altitude chamber, you just pass out painlessly before croaking.

  132. onion:Simple physics shows that CO2 has a significant warming effect. Complex physics shows that too.

    CO2 is an infra red active gas, it absorbs IR incoming energy and can transfer this to surrounding atmosphere molecules, heating them. But, in the absence of incoming IR energy it will convert local thermal energy into radiated IR, thus cooling the atmosphere.

    On this simple model, the net effect on the atmosphere is the difference between the slight heating effect in the day and the slight cooling effect at night. Manmade CO2 is said to be ~120ppm of the current 380ppm. So the difference we are looking for is (Heating-Cooling) of 0.012% atmosphere.

    Of course, this model is nowhere near the reality, but it is worth bringing up, as the physics of CO2 warming always get quoted without the physics of CO2 cooling being mentioned.

    CO2 is equally a ‘refrigerator’ gas as it is a ‘greenhouse’ gas.

  133. “Mike D. says:
    December 28, 2010 at 10:30 am

    Why not limit the emission of water vapor?”

    When compared with the water that evaporates from the oceans, the human contribution is totally negligible. Besides, unlike CO2, any extra amount of water vapor that we add just precipitates out anyway as rain or snow.

  134. Also, it’s my understanding that CO2 concentrations and the heating effect are logarithmic, whereby each measurable increase in CO2 the heat quotient decreases, so that a doubling of CO2 from where we are now does not produce twice as much, but results in only a quarter . It looks something like this.

  135. There don’t seem to be many physiologists on this thread. Exhaled breath is between 3-5% CO2 or 30-50,000 ppm as I found one boring day in the lab when trying to interface our CO2 meter to the computer. The simple act of holding ones breath will raise the concentration of CO2 impressively and I’ll have to look up exactly how high I got the CO2 percentage after a 4 minute breath hold in a physiology lab where we were collecting exhaled gases and analyzing CO2 and O2 concentrations. I do believe it was over 10% CO2.

    The primary effect of CO2 at high levels is to increase respiratory rate as increased CO2 absorption will lower blood pH which is a respiratory stimulant. AFAIK, 5% CO2 with normal O2 levels is tolerated well. High levels of CO2 have CNS depressant effects as we see with people with COPD who have pCO2 on an arterial blood gas of 90 mmHg which works out to about 11.8% CO2. These individuals also seem to lose their respiratory stimulation from high CO2 levels and have respiratory drive controlled primarily by pO2.

    I’m wondering what OHSA has to say about the situation of an individual suffering a cardiac arrest at work and a fellow worker giving him CPR and administering a “toxic” level of 50,000 ppm of CO2 in exhaled air?

  136. George E Smith: “We should also QUIT TELLING PEOPLE THAT THE WARMING IS LOGARITHMIC WITH CO2 ABUNDANCE.
    It ISN’T, so get over it. IT MAY BE NON-LINEAR WITH CO2 BUT IT ISN’T LOGARITHMIC.
    If the warming (CLIMATE SENSITIVITY) was 3 deg C per doubling +/- 50%, that would mean going from 280 ppm to 560 ppm, would give the same 3 deg C Temp rise, as going from 1 ppm to 2 ppm; or going from one molecule of CO2 in 22.4 litres of standard atmosphere to 2 molecules of CO2 in 22.4 litres of air.
    So stop saying it’s logarithmic; it ISN’T; and there’s no data that even hints thatr it is; with a 3:1 uncertainty in CS; you couldn’t possible separate linear from logarithmic; and there is no Physical theory that suggests it should be logarithmic.”

    It’s a closer approximation to say the relationship is logarithmic than to say it is linear. The case where atmospheric concentration is 1 ppm need not be considered – it could never been so low, or lower than 100 ppm, if only because CO2 is essential for life on Earth. It’s a reasonable approximation to say it’s logarithmic over the feasible range of possible atmospheric CO2 concentration.

    Physically it’s like putting up a curtain in front of a window where there is already a curtain – the curtain would have a greater effect if there wasn’t already a curtain there. CO2 only intercepts and retransmits energy, it doesn’t emit anything. Perhaps somebody has a better analogy.

    It does mean there is only room for alarmism if Climate Sensitivity is as high as 3 degrees C per doubling of CO2.

  137. Cal:

    Thanks for the vote of confidence on Dr. Elsasser’s work. I will point out that I’m not “stuck” on CO2 being completely “black body” emitter and absorber in the Tropopshere.

    A study done in 1948 from a 307 foot instrument tower in Monro, Texas by a Dr. Cooley (M.S. Thesis, U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, 1950) found that the radiative temperature change, heat up and cool down, was responsible for 25% of the radiation balance, and water the other 75%.

    In truth, the problem with CO2 is to decide how much it acts as a “perfect” black body absorber (and re-emitter) for the 15 micron band. Also, how it COMBINES with H2O in terms of the overall spectrum response.

    Since CONVECTION (turbulant mixing) would be inescapable in the first 300′ of the atmosphere, even if CO2 was a net 25% down flux, (and that increased..say by 25% since WWII, due to the 280 to 390 PPM change of CO2), the actual effect on the overall atmosphere energy balance (presuming it IS more of a black body response the more above 300′ you proceed), would be miniscule.

    Again, saying this is “basic physics” is stretching it a bit. I’d say this is one of the more complex “systems” to model that exist in the whole world!

    Max

  138. Third Assessment Report: “In sum, a strategy must recognise what is possible. In climate research and modeling, we should recognize that we are dealing with a coupled nonlinear chaotic system, and therefore that long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible.”
    ——————
    So Barry, you mean that when certain climate skeptics claimed that the IPCC was exaggerating the certainty, those particular climate skeptics were lying.

  139. Barry says:
    ————
    case scenarios of the computer model ’projections’ or scenarios (because they know they cannot use the word prediction) latest example, 4C by 2060, are just one result of computer model ‘runs’ programmed with various extreme values of these assumptions.
    ————–
    Are you sure about that Barry. I understood that the scenario results came about as a result of averaging many many runs so as to get some idea of the range of possible outcomes that might arise due to the chaotic nature of the physics.

  140. [Reply] Check the difference between CO, carbon monoxide, and co2, carbon dioxide. RT-mod
    You talkin’ ta me?
    I am fully cognizant of the difference: CO is a competitor with oxygen for Fe linkage in hemoglobin, and causes unconsciousness and death even at fairly low concentrations, beginning around 100 ppm. CO2 is virtually inert, and only dangerous if it thins out the air supply too much, at several 10s of 1000s of ppm.
    All the material I cited is specific to CO2. Please re-read.

    [Reply] Yes, I’m talkin’ ta yerself. Re-read the comment you responded to. Carefully. RT-mod

  141. @George E. Smith
    Co2 infrared absorption is logarithmic between 100 and 1000 ppm, the concentrations of interest. This can be calculateted using quatum physics, and was observed in laboratory experiments as early as 1901.
    ref: John Koch, Beiträge zur Kenntnis der Wärmeabsorption in Kohlensäure., Öfversigt af Kongl. Vetenskaps-Akademiens Förhandlinger, 1901. N:o 6 p 475-488

  142. latitude says:
    December 28, 2010 at 12:50 pm

    ========================================================
    Frank, that is a very good point.
    No one brings up the fact that CO2 levels have fallen, and why.

    It you compare it to a closed system, they will reach an equilibrium that barely sustains them.

    Actually, I’ve cited Chiefio several times. He asserts that the planet’s flora tend to drive down CO2 to their starvation level, and we fauna are unable to keep up. The supply is typically only fully restored by mega-volcanic events, etc.

  143. But as every engineer knows, these simple laws often do not work when reality gets messy, as it usually is.  Simple physics says that if I drop a ball and a feather they will fall at the same rate.

    In reality my feather blew up into a tree.
    ——–
    Barry, every physicist knows that feathers will be affected by air resistance. They wrote the book on the subject after all. So stop trying to deceive people into believing that physicists are simple minded.

    Physicists also know that only a few objects in this world are feathers. Apparently you don’t know that.

    Physicist are expert in capturing the essentials of a physical process and then adding refinements until they have captured enough understanding that is sufficient for the purpose.

  144. Since climate is so non-linear non-equilibrium dissipative system, it has those things called ‘attractors’. Models cannot predict future in principle (hell, if they predict weather within 1*C margin a week from now it is a wonder come true). But they, models, are supposed to find out what the current attractors are and how they change with the change of imposed parameters like co2 concentration. Strange how we never hear about models presented this way and always as if a doomsayer devices.

  145. We had a fine example of the ‘it’s just simple physics, stupid!’ on a BBC ‘Panorama’ program a few months ago. At the end two climate scientists were on, one a thorough-going AGW man and the other a (relative) sceptic. They were both asked two questions: is there more CO2 in the atmosphere than there used to be, and is CO2 a greenhouse gas. Naturally they both replied ‘Yes’; the program then sat back with a smug smile on its face as if to say : ‘so how can you not believe in AGW then?’. They were not asked further questions like ‘what is the most important greenhouse gas’, or ‘how is heat transferred upwards in the lower atmosphere’, the answers to which would have rather undermined the program’s position.

    On a dumbing-down note: Panorama used to last an hour. Now it never gets more than 30 minutes.

    As for predicting the future using models, does anyone remember the Club of Rome around 1970? Their model predicted increasing scarcity and starvation followed by a general collapse of civilisation. Well, of course it did: the model assumed an exponential increase in everything from population to pollution, with not a single feedback mechanism included. If you add your assumptions to the input of a model, no matter how many partial differential equations it has or how many teraflops your massively-parallel computer can manage, they come right back at you in the output.

    As for pointing out to the MSM that the temperature/CO2 relation is logarithmic: they wouldn’t know what you were talking about.

  146. Barry claims
    ————-
    The low-end ’projections’ of temperature by model runs with other values and assumptions are ignored completely by CAGW advocates,
    ————
    Err no! They are not ignored. But if you are proposing take action on anything that might happen in the future, the things of most interest are the most probable outcome and the worst-case scenario. Knowing these things allow you to minimize the amount of action you must take.

  147. Boris;
    You held your breath for 4 minutes? Isn’t that close to a world record?
    Oops! I see not. Just googled, and it’s up around 18 minutes!! I wonder what the exhaled CO2 fraction was after that ….

  148. [Reply] Yes, I’m talkin’ ta yerself. Re-read the comment you responded to. Carefully. RT-mod
    Ah! he said. Ha!
    You’re right, of course, he switched gears to CO at the point he mentioned 380 ppm. My bad. He was making a general point about trace gas.
    Perhaps we should expand the cliché to “nearly inert trace gas”. :)

    [Reply] ;-)

  149. Brian H says:
    December 28, 2010 at 4:26 pm
    Actually, I’ve cited Chiefio several times. He asserts that the planet’s flora tend to drive down CO2 to their starvation level, and we fauna are unable to keep up. The supply is typically only fully restored by mega-volcanic events, etc.
    =======================================================
    Well that and Gates new pet of the week, the hydrological cycle.

    When you look at history and how the planet came to be, including us, it’s pretty amazing that it’s doing ok at this low level of CO2.

    In another place and time, sensible people would be worried about that.

  150. Edward Bancroft says:
    December 28, 2010 at 3:25 pm
    onion:Simple physics shows that CO2 has a significant warming effect. Complex physics shows that too.

    “Of course, this model is nowhere near the reality, but it is worth bringing up, as the physics of CO2 warming always get quoted without the physics of CO2 cooling being mentioned.”

    Bravo for you, Mr. Bancroft. Yes, this kind of input is most definitely needed.

  151. Barry makes stuff up
    ————
    , the data output or projection of a computer model transmorphs into a scientific fact, the data output of a computer model becomes evidence of CAGW.
    ———–
    Err no. The model output is the consequence of the theory. The consequence of the theory is compared with the observations. If the observations don’t match the consequences an investigation is made to identify what subtle physical mechanism was overlooked in the model or what part of the calculation is not correct.

    If all seems fine the model is used to make a projection and an estimate of the uncertainty produced.

    But you already know all that don’t you Barry. Unless you have already forgotten the argument you just made in the previous paragraph about projections.

  152. Sonicfrog says:
    December 28, 2010 at 3:25 pm
    “Theo… And I’m a geology school drop-out!”

    But that puts you way ahead of some Nobel Prize winners that I know. Sometimes, I think that everyone should be required to study geology for two years. Get to know rocks from a mathematically sophisticated point of view.

  153. [We prefer that posters don't refer to skeptics as "deniers," "denialists," etc. Your attack is now at the name-calling stage, so I snipped it all. ~dbs, mod.]

  154. Max Hugoson says:
    December 28, 2010 at 3:54 pm

    “Since CONVECTION (turbulant mixing) would be inescapable in the first 300′ of the atmosphere, even if CO2 was a net 25% down flux, (and that increased..say by 25% since WWII, due to the 280 to 390 PPM change of CO2), the actual effect on the overall atmosphere energy balance (presuming it IS more of a black body response the more above 300′ you proceed), would be miniscule.”

    This topic is so very important. No one will talk about it. I guess very few or maybe none know about it.

  155. Chris Clark says:
    “We had a fine example of the ‘it’s just simple physics, stupid!’ on a BBC ‘Panorama’ program a few months ago.” … “As for pointing out to the MSM that the temperature/CO2 relation is logarithmic: they wouldn’t know what you were talking about.”

    Of course it won’t be wealthy media people like Jeremy Paxman who freeze to death because of unaffordable energy and over-estimated climate sensitivity, it will be impoverished working-class pensioners.

  156. Mike D. says:

    IF water vapor is a much more potent greenhouse gas than CO2 (as everyone seems to agree), and IF a warmer planet would be such a colossal bummer (a proposition that many disagree with, including me), THEN why all the hubbub about limiting CO2 emissions when water vapor is the chief “culprit”?

    Why not limit the emission of water vapor?

    Because the differences in concentration of water vapor in the atmosphere, availability of the sources, and residence time in the atmosphere (water vapor being a condensable gas) means that our emissions of water vapor are nowhere near large enough to alter the concentration of it on a global scale. The amount of water vapor in the atmosphere is basically determined by the temperature.

  157. Lazy Teenager presumes:

    “The model output is the consequence of the theory. The consequence of the theory is compared with the observations. If the observations don’t match the consequences an investigation is made to identify what subtle physical mechanism was overlooked in the model or what part of the calculation is not correct.”

    Err… No. Wrong on several assumptions.

    First off, there is no CAGW “theory,” and the models are wrong. In fact, what began as a hypothesis [CO2=CAGW] has been falsified and is now back to the conjecture stage of the scientific method.

    If the hypothesis [or theory, or law] doesn’t match experimental evidence or observation… it is WRONG. That is the key to science.

    I suppose they no longer teach the scientific method to lazy teenagers. What would they care anyway? Their minds are already made up.

  158. Mike McMillan says:
    December 28, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    What a fun thread.
    ========================================================

    lol, yes it was! I was about to thank you for clearing up the CO vs CO2 misunderstandings, prevalent in this thread, but, alas, it seems I was a bit premature.

    The problem stems from connotations. C, CO, and CO2 mean the same thing to different people. True, they are all very different, but typically when discussing CAGW, or climate change, or nom de jour, C means CO2. I would also imagine that CO could connotate CO2 also. Some commenting, were just plain wrong and didn’t understand the difference while others were using them as synonyms. Kinda like an Abbot and Costello routine. Was much fun and you tried to blow it!

    Having read the moderators of this site for a few years, usually, when a moderator attempts to correct me, I try to look back and see where it may be that my message was misconstrued either by an error on my part or a lack of clarity on my part. More often than not, a clarification is easily written to be able to convey the original thought, but that’s just me.

  159. LazyTeen wrote: “every physicist knows that feathers will be affected by air resistance.”

    Yes, every physicist also knows that a planet is not an isolated system, therefore it does not conserve energy. Yet the mainstream climatologist A.Lacis reveals the foundation of his theories:

    “Since radiative transfer is a well established and well understood physics process, we have accurate knowledge of what is happening to the global energy balance of Earth. And as I noted earlier, conservation of energy leaves no other choice for the global equilibrium temperature of the Earth but to increase in response to the increase in atmospheric CO2.”

    LazyTeen continues: “Physicist are expert in capturing the essentials of a physical process and then adding refinements until they have captured enough understanding that is sufficient for the purpose.”

    From the example above, it looks like climatologists are not experts in essentials of physics. Is this the point you were trying to make?

  160. John Day says:
    December 28, 2010 at 8:07 am

    “Answer: Yes, we have an ideal planetary CO2 greenhouse laboratory in place on the planet Mars, whose atmosphere is 95% CO2.

    The Martian atmosphere is much thinner, only 1% of Earth, but because it’s almost pure CO2 the actual concentration of CO2 is about 30 times greater per unit surface area than on Earth.

    Yet the mean surface temperature is the same as the black body temperature, ~210 K, according to NASA’s “Mars Fact Sheet”:

    http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/planetary/factsheet/marsfact.html

    Black-body temperature: Mars 210.1 K Earth 255 K
    Average temperature: Mars ~210 K Earth 288 K

    Conclusion: Even though CO2 is a powerful absorber of 15 micron radiation, in isolation its contribution to “greenhouse warming” is negligible.”

    John, Lacis et al claim that this is due to the low pressure in the Martian atmosphere so there is little pressure broadening of the CO2 lines unlike Earth.

    Of course this also means that extra CO2 in the amounts we are talking about certainly won’t show any extra noticeable pressure broadening on Earth as it is total pressure that counts, not the partial pressure of the CO2. IIRC this is one of Gavin’s arguments as to why the effect of CO2 isn’t saturated or nearly so (extra pressure broadening from extra CO2).

  161. LazyTeenager says:
    December 28, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    Barry, every physicist knows that feathers will be affected by air resistance. They wrote the book on the subject after all. So stop trying to deceive people into believing that physicists are simple minded.

    Physicists also know that only a few objects in this world are feathers. Apparently you don’t know that.
    ======================================================
    Lazy, you’re missing the point of the post. Re-read the first paragraph (I’ll make it easy.)…….All too often the ‘simple physics of CO2′ argument is presented to the public by the media, politicians, climate scientists and environmental advocacy groups, in a way that grossly simplifies the issue of the response in global temperature to increasing CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere.

    Barry was making the point that often alarmists use the “simple physics” as an argument and Barry pointed out that it wasn’t that simple. In a very angry way, you made his point.

    BTW, I’d like to point out that while “very few objects are feathers”, there are many that have the characteristics appropriate for Barry’s example; leafs, dandelion seeds, spider eggs, certain blades of grass, etc….

    Sometimes, deep breaths and a different perspective may help prevent these hyperventilations.

  162. LazyTeen said:
    “Err no. The model output is the consequence of the theory. The consequence of the theory is compared with the observations.”

    Err no. The climate model is a consequence of crude truncation of hydrodynamics down to “primitive equations” of meteorology, which have no viscosity. More, all naturally occurring and normally “prognostic” “subgrid” motions have to be parametrized with formulas that cannot be validated, either because of space or time scale involved. I don’t know the theory that links the space of solutions between the two sets of equations; in fact these spaces cannot be equal because of different functional dimensionality of two sets of equations. Therefore, the model output is not a consequence of any natural theory but a product of truncation and imagination, especially on the long time scales.

    More, the output of your imagination of primitive equations is not compared to anything, because observations (in this particular case, the radiative balance between SWin, SWout(albedo), and OLR) are not up to the spatial details nor resolution (and accuracy) that is required to compare and derive any definite conclusions. If these accurate observations did exist, there will be no question if there is any global imbalance due to added CO2 or not. If you know of any such measurements, please kindly post the reference.

  163. James Sexton says:

    “The problem stems from connotations. C, CO, and CO2 mean the same thing to different people.”

    Yes, and those different people all seem to be in the warmist camp. To them, it’s all “carbon” if it has a C in it. We must watch our “carbon” footprint. If it’s exceeded, we must buy “carbon” credits to atone.

    In a way I sort of agree with them. I think I’ll add to my after dinner carbon footprint with some C2H5OH.☺

  164. Theo Goodwin: Bravo for you, Mr. Bancroft. Yes, this kind of input is most definitely needed.

    There are a number of such half-stories regularly quoted by the supporters of AGW, which unfortunately go unchallenged or unremarked upon. A couple of years ago I got interested in global warming matters and started to dig into some of the standard AGW themes. One of these claims was that the Arctic icecap was melting and which usually came with figures from a genuinely authoritative source to back it up.

    However, somewhat mysteriously, they never mentioned the Antarctic ice, which even to a layman would seem to be worth including in GW discussions as it is the largest icecap. This half of the story shows that the Antarctic ice sheet is in fact increasing, albeit slowly. This is something which needs to be widely acknowledged and perhaps even automatically referred to by the MSM on any melting ice related news, so that it can become an accepted counter to the semi-truths used by the AGW proponents.

  165. James Sexton said:
    “while “very few objects are feathers”, there are many that have the characteristics appropriate for Barry’s example; leafs, dandelion seeds, spider eggs, certain blades of grass, etc….”

    I think the list must be expanded with the most important (and least studied) stuff like bacteria and plankton-generated DMS microparticles and other particulates that act as seeds of condensation and formation of clouds.

  166. Edward Bancroft,

    There is also the fact that the Antarctic has ≈90% of the planet’s ice. Therefore, a small increase in Antarctic ice cover offsets a 10x greater decrease in the Arctic.

    Total planetary ice cover is normal, and is well within the parameters of past natural variability.

  167. Edward B.;
    Since only land-bound ice can significantly accumulate, it is noteworthy that both Greenland and Antarctica are already bowl-shaped from the weight of the ice. This, of course, causes more ice to flow towards the center, increasing the weight and sinking the land further, which …
    OMG! It’s runaway positive feedback! Eventually all the world’s water will be occupied in filling the great holes those sinking land masses are making in the crust!

    The obvious solution is to hit the ice sheets there with a few dozen multi-megaton H-bombs to break up the ice before we hit a Tipping Point and All Is Lost.

  168. Smokey says:
    December 28, 2010 at 5:45 pm

    In a way I sort of agree with them. I think I’ll add to my after dinner carbon footprint with some C2H5OH.☺
    ========================================================

    Heh, already there with you, my friend.

    Yeh, you’re right about the carbon and hating all that it involves. Its another manifestation of their autophobia. It must be horrid going through life projecting a self-loathing onto anything attached to the base of their formation.

  169. James S.;
    Their disorientation will be complete when it is ultimately (soon) accepted that CO2 is beneficial, and all the world’s governments switch to heavily subsidizing maximum output, e.g. by offering free coal-fired power-plant electric power to all, plus specifically requiring EVs to be powered by it. And encouraging concrete home construction so as much limestone as possible can be baked to free the CO2 it has stolen from the air, and …

  170. LazyTeenager says:
    December 28, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    Third Assessment Report: “In sum, a strategy must recognise what is possible. In climate research and modeling, we should recognize that we are dealing with a coupled nonlinear chaotic system, and therefore that long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible.”
    ——————
    So Barry, you mean that when certain climate skeptics claimed that the IPCC was exaggerating the certainty, those particular climate skeptics were lying.

    So LT, do you now agree that ipcc Climate Science simply cannot predict future climate states, so that there actually is absolutely no future CAGW to predict or worry about?

    But, hey, then go read the SPM4 to see the ipcc suddenly increase its certainty infinitely, from the TAR’s flat out impossibility of predicting CAGW “Climate Change” to a level of certainty which in fact even tries to convince us to commit suicide ‘before it’s too late’……or else we will all die from CAGW!

  171. “Chris Clark says:
    December 28, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    As for pointing out to the MSM that the temperature/CO2 relation is logarithmic: they wouldn’t know what you were talking about.”

    This may well be true. So if you plan on writing to your local paper on this issue, as I have done, mention that it is the same as the law of diminishing returns. Many more people would understand that.

  172. cal, I recommend the online MODTRAN program (e.g. from U. Chicago) to understand why the troposphere profile still dominates the CO2 outgoing radiation as you double CO2. Basically, yes, the center of the band is radiating at the stratospheric temperature which doesn’t change much as you double CO2, as it is fairly isothermal in the lower stratosphere, so the decrease in OLR comes from the sides of the band which still radiate from the troposphere.

  173. Barry Woods – the very real example of AGWScience gobbledegooking real science as your feather example is in its claims about the properties of CO2 re weight.

    After several discussions and some some amount of exploration I found the reason why AGWScience says that CO2 is well-mixed in the atmosphere and so extrapolated, can stay up hundreds, even thousands, of years accumulating, and why those telling me this could not grasp that CO2 is heavier than air and so sinks through the atmosphere displacing air. They are using ideas from the ideal gas law and applying it to real gas molecules in our atmosphere.

    The ideal gas is a fiction, it is imaginary (no doubt many here know how to use ideal gas laws in calculations, and can also no doubt explain it better than I), but they do not actually match real gas molecules, “real” is a technical term here to flag the difference in gas physics.

    The ideal gas law quoted as ‘proof’ that CO2 is well-mixed and can stay up in the atmosphere says that molecules travel at extraordinary fast speeds through empty space bumping into each other and so mixing up ‘thoroughly’. Pointing out that this doesn’t apply to molecules under pressure and gravity and interactions of no avail, even with numerous examples (such as diagramatical description of how sound travels). The picture they have in their minds is of our atmosphere being empty space. Their physics teachers teach them that CO2 in our atmosphere acts like this ideal gas. Though they don’t dispute that CO2 is heavier than air, they don’t understand it.

    I asked one such how CO2 could possibly rise up to mix in the air after it had pooled on the ground and without any work being done to move it since it was 1.5 times heavier than air, and was told that it would diffuse into the atmosphere as per ideal gas laws and become thoroughly mixed and could then not become separated (without work being done).

    He taught the physics of gases, set exams in the subject – and said he would fail anyone who said CO2 didn’t act as an ideal gas in our atmosphere. He had absolutely no concept of what the air around us actually was. It has been lost to AGWScience.

    By the end of that particular discussion I felt as if I had stepped through the looking glass with Alice.

  174. Myrrh says:

    By the end of that particular discussion I felt as if I had stepped through the looking glass with Alice.

    I can pretty much assure you that the person you had the discussion with must have felt likewise.

    All models are approximations. However, the ideal gas law is a very good…perhaps even excellent approximation…at atmospheric densities.

    Do you have any evidence for your claim that the CO2 is not quite well-mixed in the atmosphere? We now have data from a variety of sites (at various elevations) as well as AIRS data…and while there was a lot of hullabaloo made with the AIRS data about the CO2 concentration not being completely uniform, the fact is that the differences from complete uniformity are irrelevant at the levels of accuracy with which we are currently able to consider.

    By the way, I am not even sure that the best answer to your question about why CO2 doesn’t segregate is really the ideal gas law. I would say it comes more from kinetic theory or from statistical physics, at least the part about segregation under gravity. (E.g., one can presumably do a calculation of the entropy vs energy tradeoff for gases to mix vs segregating…I may try to think a little bit more about whether one could easily do this in a way that permits a quick-and-dirty estimate of what controls whether you are in the well-mixed or gravity-segregated regime).

  175. p.s.

    jt posted a link on tips and notes to an article about real air and the weather system in our dynamic world, http://chiefio.wordpress.com/2010/12/28/ignore-the-day-at-your-peril/

    The moderator reply to Peter Offenhartz December 28 2010 4:10 pm contains a response to the idea that air is ‘well-mixed’. Here the claim is that air is well-mixed to 1,000 metres, which is a new one to me, I’ve only heard from AGW that all the atmosphere is well mixed, (and doesn’t layer).

  176. Brian H says:
    December 28, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    You’re right, of course, he switched gears to CO at the point he mentioned 380 ppm. My bad. He was making a general point about trace gas.
    Perhaps we should expand the cliché to “nearly inert trace gas”. :)

    [Reply] ;-)

    Next time I’ll switch to argon – non-toxic and not a GHG. Just what we need!

  177. Myrrh says:
    December 28, 2010 at 7:41 pm

    Myrrh,
    In the troposphere convection will mix the air pretty thoroughly although not instantly.
    Above that where there is no bulk transfer I have my doubts that molecular diffusion doesn’t have some part to play and that there isn’t some sort of CO2 concentration gradient in a one g field over a depth of 20Km or so when one component of the air is 1.5 times as heavy as the rest. In any case the CO2 in the stratosphere probably isn’t up to much IR absorption just like on Mars as the pressure broadening will be weak due to the low pressures. :-)

  178. @John Day
    >> Conclusion: Even though CO2 is a powerful absorber of 15 micron radiation,
    >> in isolation its contribution to “greenhouse warming” is negligible.”
    @Mike Borgelt
    > John, Lacis et al claim that this is due to the low pressure in the Martian
    > atmosphere so there is little pressure broadening of the CO2 lines unlike Earth.

    Yes, I’m aware of this claim in their “control knob” paper. The ‘pressure broadening’ is a observational artifact associated with absorption lines under pressure. At the molecular level, where all this photon absorption is going on it’s all about intermolecular collisions. Some of the absorbed energy may be spread by collisions, reseting the CO2 molecules.

    There’s a lot of hand waving going on here. The Lacis paper makes this sound like a conjecture that needs to be proven.

    Color me skeptical.

  179. Just for the record, Galileo didn’t think a feather and a cannon ball would fall at the same rate. In “Two New Sciences” he spent great effort to explain terminal velocities in various fluids, and that indeed, if a cannon ball is fired faster than its terminal velocity, even with the barrel aimed straight at the ground, the ball will start slowing the instant it leaves the barrel. He also discussed the terminal velocities of cannon balls dropped in the ocean. His discussion of the feather was an attempt to make these effects clear.

  180. Myrrh 12/28 7:41 PM

    If you’re right, the atmosphere between ground level and about 1/4 mile up should be almost entirely CO2. Ascending further, we’d pass through many miles of nitrogen, and only then would we reach 5-6 miles of oxygen. So we wouldn’t be here to talk about it.

  181. Rick Werme: and Moderator

    .. “Don’t fall prey to the trace gas argument lest you forget that reducing CO2 by just a couple hundred ppm will kill plants or that 380 ppm of CO can’t possibly have an impact on people. (Exposure limits are 25-50 ppm, 400ppm for 4 hours can kill.)”….

    I notice that I was not the only one who thought that Rick was still talking about CO2 above and that the CO was a typo.
    Otherwise his post did not make any sense.
    Come to think of it it did not make much sense whatever way you look at it.

  182. It’s ironic that ‘simple physics’ is actually on the side of the sceptics. ‘Simple physics’ basically says that CO2-caused warming is a classic law of diminishing returns: if you double the amount of CO2 you will get around one degree of warming. To get another degree, you have to double the CO2 again, which will never happen.
    In short, a doubling of CO2 from industrial levels, using only ‘simple physics’, will provide a modest and almost certainly beneficial warming. The logarithmic law provides this welcome warming, while at the same time ensuring that a warming of four or five degrees is completely impossible.
    Of course, in reality the amount of warming is probably dominated by other factors, with CO2 having a negligible effect, as demonstrated by the ice cores. Quite likely we can thank our local star for the 20th century warming that we enjoyed. The bad news is that this particular star may be sulking so that our children may live in a colder world.
    Yes, we do need to worry about climate change. But in the coming decades it will probably be global cooling that makes the headlines.
    Chris

  183. Mike Haseler says:
    December 28, 2010 at 9:47 am
    “…I find a better analogy to be that of double glazing. Simple physics says that the wider the gap, the better the double glazing. So why don’t we see 100mm (4″) double glazing?…”

    Hey, here’s an idea. Since CO2 absorbs and radiates so much energy and even a few ppm is going to cause the earth to cook, how about filling that 4″ gap with CO2? I know most efficient windows use Argon because of low thermal conductivity but CO2 will actually be like installing heaters in those windows! /sarc off

  184. Bryan says:
    December 29, 2010 at 1:14 am

    Rick Werme: and Moderator

    .. “Don’t fall prey to the trace gas argument lest you forget that reducing CO2 by just a couple hundred ppm will kill plants or that 380 ppm of CO can’t possibly have an impact on people. (Exposure limits are 25-50 ppm, 400ppm for 4 hours can kill.)”….

    I notice that I was not the only one who thought that Rick was still talking about CO2 above and that the CO was a typo.
    Otherwise his post did not make any sense.
    Come to think of it it did not make much sense whatever way you look at it.

    Your the first to comment it was a typo. The others who read my unclear text appeared to simply misread it.

    No one commented on my (unchecked, by the way) note about killing plants. Perhaps thats what leads you to think my comment doesn’t make much sense. My understated point there was to get people to think that perhaps 380 ppm makes CO2 as something more than just a trace gas. It’s a vital nutrient and source of most of the mass in plants. (CO2 is combined with H2 from H2O during photosythesis. The O from H20 is released as waste product or used in respiration outside of chloroplasts.)

    Perhaps you can explain in better detail what doesn’t make sense to you and I’ll try to make it more clear for you.

    Also, please note that “Ric” is not a typo, it is short for “Eric.” Call me what you want, it will reduce the chance that Google will offer your comments when people look for negative stuff on me.

  185. [Note typo in my last post in the line that mentions typo. Your -> You're, of course]

    Joel Shore says:
    December 28, 2010 at 8:30 pm

    Myrrh says:

    By the end of that particular discussion I felt as if I had stepped through the looking glass with Alice.

    I can pretty much assure you that the person you had the discussion with must have felt likewise.

    By the way, I am not even sure that the best answer to your question about why CO2 doesn’t segregate is really the ideal gas law.

    I don’t think it does either. Diffusion is part (a small part) of the answer, and I don’t think that’s really part of the ideal gas law, especially since diffusion works in liquids too.

    The bigger causes are mixing due to wind combined with viscosity that make for very slow settling times.

    Molecular weight is important when flammable vapors flow across the cellar floor to the pilot lights on the furnace and water heater. Wind isn’t involved until after the explosion that scatters the walls and roof across the neighborhood. Then the wind scours out the CO2 from the cellar hole, at least that part that didn’t rise because it was a fireball.

  186. Several people have criticized Barry for the “ball and feather” story, but I am the actual author of it. One can follow the link to see the context of my original comment on Curry’s great blog. Critics are welcome to engage me on my Yahoo! group: http://www.climatechangedebate.org .

    For example, LazyTeenager (!) argues above that “Barry, every physicist knows that feathers will be affected by air resistance. They wrote the book on the subject after all. So stop trying to deceive people into believing that physicists are simple minded.”

    Barry did not say that bit about feathers, rather I did. But you have missed the entire point of the story, which is that the fact that CO2 is a GHG is the starting point for the scientific debate, not the end point. Many people take this simple fact as decisive, which is wrong.

    Sorry to be so subtle, Lazy.

    David

  187. The most pertinent comment I have seen on this thread so far is the one by John of Kent on how the greenhouse gas theory defies the basic laws of physics. Considering the impact it has had, this theory must be the most bizarre pseudoscientific theory every concocted. CO2 molecules and other so-called GHG gases must have magical properties if they can add to the energy budget of the Earth. A CO2 molecule is heated by outgoing IR radiation from the Earth. It then imparts this heat. Even if some of this is downwelling radiation, it cannot make the Earth hotter than it already is – it got its energy from the Earth in the first place. All it can do is slow down radiative cooling. Or have the laws of thermodynamics been abolished by Al Gore?

  188. In addition to Martin’s post please remember that evil man is responsible for 1% of this 0.0039 % CO2 in the atmosphere. My, we are BAD. It is out of control and the Planet is gonna DIE!

  189. “”””” Richard Smith says:
    December 29, 2010 at 8:02 am
    The most pertinent comment I have seen on this thread so far is the one by John of Kent on how the greenhouse gas theory defies the basic laws of physics. Considering the impact it has had, this theory must be the most bizarre pseudoscientific theory every concocted. “””””

    Well Richard, I believe you are the first to state that the “GHG Theory” claims that CO2 and other GHGs add to the energy budget of the earth.

    There’s much wrong with prevailing views of GHGs and how they act; but claiming to add to the earth’s energy budget is NOT one of them.

    “”””” All it can do is slow down radiative cooling. “”””” I believe you also said this.

    So let’s look at an analagous situation; an ordinary bathtub, or even a kitchen sink, if you don’t have a bathtub.

    So you turn on the hot and cold water faucets; or taps if your bathtub doesn’t have faucets; full bore. This is akin to the sun pouring radiant energy onto the earth. But we left the plug out; or the stopper if your bathtub doesn’t have a plug; so as the water rises in the bathtub, some of it starts to flow down the drain and out of the tub. Initially, just a trickle, but as the water gets deeper, and builds up a bigger “head” or driving force, the outflow increases; and the immediate result of this, is that the rate of rise of the water level slows down.

    Eventually at a certain water depth, the rate of outflow exactly equals the rate of inflow from the taps, and the water level stops rising; having reached the (dynamic) equilibrium level.

    So this is not unlike the earth’s energy where the LWIR radiant outflow basically reaches a balance with the solar spectrum radiant inflow. Yes other thermal processes help transfer energy around; but in the end a radiative balance is required; the drain empties the water as fast as the faucets fill the tub.

    So now we need some GHGs to put in our bathtub: “”””” All it can do is slow down radiative cooling. “””””

    Howsabout we sink the metal soapdish, and it slides down towards the drain, and ends up blocking half of the drain area.

    Now our soap dish may have contained a few drops of water from some splashes; but nobody would accuse the soap dish of ADDING TO THE INFLOW OF WATER TO THE TUB.

    All that it did was; “”””” All it can do is slow down radiative cooling. “””””

    But given the reduced outflow rate from the constricted drain, the water level must now rise further, to increase the driving head, until the outflow again equals the inflow rate from the taps. There was a short delay, while the taps added more water to raise the water level; but eventually equilibrium is re-established, and the outflow again equals the inflow; BUT NOW THE WATER LEVEL IS HIGHER !!

    That is all there is to the claims for the GHG effect; not any addition to the earth’s energy budget; the sun will supply the extra energy needed to raise the mean temperature which in turn increases the LWIR radiation rate, until energy balance (dynamic) is again achieved; but there was a Temperature increase required to drive that LWIR radiation past the gauntlet of GHGs.

    Other effects of course interfere with this picture; and that is where the real argument is.

    But it is a lonely hill to die on; trying to claim that the “GHG Theory” violates laws of Physics or Thermodynamics; and it is this constant demonstrably false claim, by well meaning “skeptics”, that leads to the warmistas saying that skeptics are a bunch of kooks.

    There’s enough good sources of common sense posting here as guest contributors; and stuff dug up by Anthony and people like Chasmod; and the other nicety police, that WUWT should not be rehashing this GHG argument over and over again, every time some new readers drop in.

    Yes we know that real green houses do not operate in the manner that the “greenhouse concept” describes; and we all know what climatists, and skeptics too mean, when they talk about GHGs in the strictly climate sense.

    But the Climatists are NOT claiming that GHGs add additional energy to the earth energy budget; and we don’t do anything for a sane view, by trying to paint them with that brush. Their transgressions are in other areas; such as getting the cloud picture completely wrong.

  190. “”””” Joel Shore says:
    December 28, 2010 at 8:30 pm
    Myrrh says:

    By the end of that particular discussion I felt as if I had stepped through the looking glass with Alice.

    I can pretty much assure you that the person you had the discussion with must have felt likewise.

    All models are approximations. However, the ideal gas law is a very good…perhaps even excellent approximation…at atmospheric densities.

    Do you have any evidence for your claim that the CO2 is not quite well-mixed in the atmosphere? “””””

    Well Joel, I know that you are a lot more up to speed than your post here might indicate.

    Actually we do have very good data that shows that CO2 is NOT very well mixed in the atmosphere.

    There used to be a graph posted at, http://www.mlo.noaa.gov/Projects/GASES/co2glob.htm

    My copy of that graph is dated 9/19/2005 But since then NOAA seems to have taken it down.

    In any case it refers to Principal investigators Peter Tans, and Thomas Conway, NOAA CMDL. Carbon Cycle Group. Boulder CO (303)497-6678

    So give them a call Joel and ask them for that graph.

    It plots data from about 1987 through 1996 from north pole to south pole. In 1987 the CO2 at the north pole had a peak value of about 355 ppm and a trough value of 340 ppm. A private communique from A Scripps Inst CO2 expert tells me that the actual north pole P-P cycle is 18 ppm. Meanwhile at the south pole shows a value around 347 ppm and the p-p cycle is no more than 1 ppm and is opposite in phase from the north pole cycle; and the south polar lack of any significant CO2 cycling is maintained almost up to 30 deg south, while th4e north polar range is about the same as far south as about +30 degrees. And the time for that 18 ppm drop in CO2 in the arctic, is about five months for the drop, and seven months for the subsequent rise.

    So the local change in CO2 is quite rapid; much faster than a 200 year residence time would be compatible with; yet there is little interchange between north and south polar CO2 variations.

    Now to me that is one of the most striking global assymmetries that I am aware of.

    But then as you well know Joel; the real question, is just how much non-mixing, is significant. I don’t know; I think it is of little significance myself. But then I think the absolute amount of CO2 is also of very little significance.

    I doubt that there are any “Eureka” discoveries in CO2 variance over the planet, and over time; but knowing something about the causality is worth study I believe.
    Of course the Mauna Loa p-p cycle is only 6 ppm; 1/3 of the north polar range.

  191. “”””” Hans Erren says:
    December 28, 2010 at 4:24 pm
    @George E. Smith
    Co2 infrared absorption is logarithmic between 100 and 1000 ppm, the concentrations of interest. This can be calculateted using quatum physics, and was observed in laboratory experiments as early as 1901.
    ref: John Koch, Beiträge zur Kenntnis der Wärmeabsorption in Kohlensäure., Öfversigt af Kongl. Vetenskaps-Akademiens Förhandlinger, 1901. N:o 6 p 475-488
    http://home.casema.nl/errenwijlens/co2/Koch_fig1.gif “””””

    Well Hans “CLIMATE SENSITIVITY” that magical climate sicence equivalent to the velocity of light of ordinary Physics; says that THE MEAN GLOBAL TEMPERATURE changes at a rate of 3DEG C (+/-50%) for a DOUBLING OF ATMOSPHERIC CO2.

    Now I don’t see anywhere in there that it says that CO2 infrared absorption goes as the log of the CO2 abundance.

    If you have spent ANY time at all here at WUWT or ANY other climate science blog; you will at times have learned that:-

    Mean Global Surface Temperature (or lower Troposphere); “Greenhouse Forcing”, in Watts per square meter; and LWIR Infrared absorption by CO2 molecules, ALL vary as the logarithm of the “atmospheric CO2 abundance”.

    Oh and just for good measure the radiant emittance of that LWIR Infrared radiation varies as the fourth power of the surface (or lower Troposphere) Temperature; and at any time over the globe that can be a total range of emittance that is more than an order of magnitiude from the hottest to the coldest regions. That covers a range from over 700 W/m^2 for the hottest regions to about 65 W/m^2 for the coldest.

    So given that variability; how does your Quantum Physics explain that the Temperature rise, remains proportional to the log of the CO2 abundance; regardless of the fact that the driving emittance that is supposed to power that temperature rise, is itslef a strong function of Temperature.

    Does your Quantum Physics expplain why suddenly the relationship ceases to be logarithmic below 100 ppm and then again at above 1000 ppm.

    Interestingly NO PERSON or anything Hominid of any kind; has ever experienced global CO2 values as low as 100 ppm; nor as high as 1000 ppm; so how could we possibly have data of a logarithmic relationship over that range.

    As for 1901 lab experiments; well we didn’t have a whole lot of Quantum Physics in 1901, so I presume that your cited link gives data on a lab simulation of the atmospheric LWIR absorptance due to CO2.

  192. So Hans, I checked your link and found a graph.

    My German is quite poor to say the least; so I can’t say that I understood exactly what was shown there; I can only see a half dozen data points; and I don’t see any error bars anywhere, to see how good a fit to any curve is.

    But the IPCC tells us that the uncertainty in Climate Sensitivity is a 3:1 spread from 1.5 to 4.5 deg C per doubling of CO2, which is the same thing as 3.0 +/-50%.

    I defy anyone given a data set that matches some graph with a slope uncertainty of a 3:1 range, to prove that the relationship is linear, or logarithmic, or exponential or ANY other mathematical function one might choose.

    I’m sure I can fit such data to the function y = exp (-1/x^2)

    Logarithmic functions do not have “ranges”; they go on forever; not for some 10:1 range of a variable.

    On the other hand NON-LINEAR relationships can have any kind of restricted range of applicability.

    Global Temperature, radiative warming (forcing) of the atmosphere, and CO2 absorption of LWIR are NOT proportional to the logarithm of the atmospheric CO2 abundance; neither in observed measured real world data; nor in any Physical theory, including Quantum Physics.

    By the way; for your 1901 lab experiment to observe CO2′s logarithmic absorption of “INFRARED”, just exactly what source of LWIR emissions did the experimenters use; and what was its nearest equivalent blackbody (or gray body) Temperature, and the wavelength range of its spectrum ? Just asking; it’s helpful to know just WHAT experiments were actually done; that is almost as useful information as the results.

  193. mkelly says:
    December 28, 2010 at 8:04 am

    Onion here is some simple physics.

    E = m c^2 or energy is equal to mass times the speed of light squared.

    E = h v or energy is equal to Planck constant times the frequency of the radiation.

    So m c ^2 = h v
    or m = (h v) / c^2

    Since the volume of the earth nor the atmosphere increase in size during a day and
    E(in) = E(out) we must also say that m(in) = m (out).

    Or does the mass of the incoming light that heats the earth equal the mass of out going IR that cools the earth? Does it?

    Energy has no mass although they are thought to be aspects of each other. Photons are said to have a mass of greater than zero. Both formulas give you the value of the product, in this case E.

    Therefore E is not a constant, it’s the value of a constant and a variable.

    The Planck constant is h and v is the variable (frequency)

    So m c ^2 = h v

    Both m and v are notionally infinite, however E=mc^2 limits v to c.
    so mc ^2 = hc. :-}

    The maximum value of Planck’s equation is E=hc.

    or m = (h v) / c^2

    Energy has no mass. So E=mc^2 doesn’t lead to m=Ec^-2.

    E=mc^2 is potential energy of the mass not actual energy.

    I await your enlightened response. :)

    You’ll wait for ever for a response from Onion.

  194. David Wojick Ph.D. says: (December 29, 2010 at 5:53 am)
    ” LazyTeenager ……. you have missed the entire point of the story…”

    LT has IV’d the kool aid and always misses the point.

  195. Engineers have always been the biggest sceptics. (I prefer the Brit spelling)

    They spend decades in efforts to match simple systems to complex environments.

    Back in the 80s I used to worry about second order effects (deviations from simple laws) caused by non-linearities of materials. We are now in third order territory with occasional forays into fourth order effects. Climate is like 14th or 40th order stuff. And very non-linear. It is possible (not likely) for 12th order effects to have first order results (chaos).

  196. M.Simon said:
    “Climate is like 14th or 40th order stuff. And very non-linear. It is possible (not likely) for 12th order effects to have first order results (chaos).”

    No. The problem is that climate does not have second and third order effects, all the effects are typically of the same order of magnitude as the main effect, because there is no small parameter you can expand around and neglect higher terms. This is the problem. The first order effect is the chaos of weather. The solution jumps all over the state space and covers all possible “forcings” and feedbacks” already. Averaging of wildly fluctuating weather along a two-frequency trajectory (diurnal-annual) is a mathematically-difficult thing. Hence all the confusion and controversy.

  197. Thanks to all for the CO2 concentration answers. I wonder how much CO2 a human could absorb knowing the O2 concentration was fixed at 20,000 ppm? Is there an upper limit? Do we need to have Nitrogen in the air? Is CO2 really toxic or is the lack of O2 toxic?

    @PhilC. The curtain analogy is a great one. How many curtains are the AGW alarmists hiding behind?

    In high school my Physics teacher dropped a ping-pong ball and a steel ball bearing from the same height after asking the class to guess which would land first. Then he showed us an old film of some bridge oscillating uncontrollably in the wind before it crashed into the river. I’m still hooked. Thank God he hadn’t sold out to AGW or I would have become a lawyer.

  198. “MartinGAtkins says:
    December 29, 2010 at 11:03 am

    The Planck constant is h and v is the variable (frequency)

    So m c ^2 = h v

    Both m and v are notionally infinite, however E=mc^2 limits v to c.
    so mc ^2 = hc. :-}

    The maximum value of Planck’s equation is E=hc.”

    Martin, you are confusing frequency with velocity. As is stated above, v is frequency in this case. And a frequency is in cycles/s which can never be a speed in m/s. As for the maximum frequency value, gamma rays, one of the highest, goes to 10^24 Hz. In contrast, the speed of light to 3 significant digits in a vacuum is 3.00 x 10^8 m/s.

  199. Joel Shore says:
    December 28, 2010 at 8:30 pm

    re through the looking glass with Alice I can pretty much assure you that the person you had the discussion with must have felt likewise.

    Oh yes, that was made quite clear to me… (grin)

    ..it’s nice to be back…

    All models are approximations. However, the ideal gas law is a very good…perhaps even excellent approximation…at atmospheric densities.

    How so?

    Please look at the table at the bottom of this page tabulating the differences between Real gases and Ideal gases: http://www.tutorvista.com/chemistry/difference-between-ideal-and-real-gases

    The atmosphere I live in is Real, Real Science applies there.

    The gases on my side of the mirror do not obey gas laws at all standard temperature and pressure, they have volume, have electronic interactions, condense, sublimate, liquefy, interact with others, attraction/repulsion.

    The Ideal gases here at your side of the mirror don’t do any of these Real things. Your atmosphere is different.

    Here, I was told, by someone who thought he was the other side of the mirror in the Real world where I exist, a Carbon Dioxide molecule obeyed gas laws. He told me that carbon dioxide molecules are in constant, random motion and most of the gas is empty space, that is, see above, the molecule of CO2 is actually so negligable it can be said to have none.

    Here on your side of the mirror, he told me, the atmosphere is thus empty space with the molecules of oxygen and nitrogen and carbon dioxide rushing through it in all directions at great speed, colliding with each other and bouncing off each other and so very quickly mixing thoroughly.

    He and his acolytes were quite insistent that this was how Carbon Dioxide acted in the Real world, and I was obviously a total ignoramus who didn’t understand basic physics.

    What I was seeking to understand from him was why AGW promoted a description of Carbon Dioxide that was totally at odds with its well known properties.

    In this discussion with him I limited this to exploring the weight of CO2, I wanted to understand where AGWScience got its information from to claim that the atmosphere is well mixed and its claim that CO2 can stay up in the atmosphere for hundreds, and even thousands, of years, accumulating. In my Real world on the other side of the mirror, Carbon Dioxide is heavier than air, it cannot therefore do either of these things without some work being done on it.

    I have to say here, that I first of all had to convince him that CO2 was actually heavier than air and would displace air, mainly nitrogen and oxygen molecules, to sink to the ground where it would pool when in sufficient quantities. (Giving examples such as breweries, mines, volcanoes, and vents as quite recently in Cameroon). Having accepted that CO2 actually did this, and wanting to be sure I really understood what he was saying about gases, I suggested a thought experiment, which went like this.

    There is a room where a large amount of CO2 has been introduced and it has pooled on the floor. No work is done to change the conditions of the room from that when the CO2 pooled, for example, no fan put on, no window opened.

    I said the Carbon Dioxide would remain pooled on the floor because it was heavier than air. He said it would diffuse into the atmosphere acting to gas laws and become thoroughly mixed with all the other molecules of air in the room. To be absolutely sure of what he was saying and so on further questioning, he clarified the point re work. He said that no work at all need be done for the the CO2 to diffuse into the air in the room and mix thoroughly. It would do this because the molecules of CO2 were in constant random motion together with all the other molecules in the air and so would diffuse as per the Ideal gas laws.

    So, I read up the differences and saw that he was not in my world, but in the world of imaginary gases, one of any number of possible impossible things one can think of before breakfast. In which there is no concept of gases having weight (it was quite a concession for him to admit CO2 pooled) and volume, no concept of atmospheric pressure, no concept of gravity. AGWScience rules in this world.

    AGW Science says a molecule of gas heavier than air can rise through the volume of air above it and rapidly diffuse through it thoroughly mixing with all the other molecules, because AGWScience says air is empty space with molecules at great distances apart from each other zipping at enormous speeds randomly through it. AGWScience says a molecule of gas that is heavier than air can stay up in this its atmosphere for hundreds and thousands of years, even though it is heavier than air, because etc.

    As I said, AGWScience has no concept of, no feeling for, the reality of what is the atmosphere, the air around us. No understanding of the volume it has, the weight it exerts on us or what the weight of molecules in it means relative to it, nada.

    From this comes the problem as Smoking Frog has described it, in this strange AGWScience world ‘if carbon dioxide sinks through air it would make a layer etc.‘ Dead Sea example get’s used here too. In this Ideal gas atmosphere there is no sense of dynamics, of interactions between volumes, no sense of life. Which is why they can dismiss CO2 as a poison, against all argument that it is a non-toxic gas, because that’s all they can imagine CO2 would do, stay put,;they have lost all sense of movement in real life.

    Smoking Frog, Carbon Dioxide would not layer because primarily plants would eat it. CO2 is food for them and so for all Carbon Life Forms on earth, we’re about 20% carbon; without CO2 to feed us we would not exist. Plants live at ground level, isn’t it amazing that CO2 being heavier than air comes to them? They can’t go out hunting for it up in the atmosphere. Plants take in Carbon Dioxide as food and together with water for drink and sunlight to cook it, turn it in sugars, carbohydrates etc., and in doing so release the oxygen from this process into the atmosphere, to make the air we breathe. It’s called The Carbon Life Cycle.

    Anytime you want to step back through the mirror..

    A good description of how to understand our atmosphere if you do step back into it is to imagine what it would be like to be standing at the bottom of a swimming pool with a volume of water ten foot deep above you, then imagine you are in an open field – the volume of air above you is as the water in the swimming pool, it has weight pressing down on you; air is a gas, when you move through it you move through something, not through empty space.

    So Joel, not at all a good approximation. Real gases are not ideal. The ideal gas law describes no real gas. The ideal gas is imaginary, that is the principle here. Those who understand the differences can use the ideal gas laws in calculations for real gases with greater or lesser amounts of tweaking. But it is simply wrong to say that real gases obey ideal gas laws. http://library.thinkquest.org/12596/ideal.html

    Do you have any evidence for your claim that the CO2 is not quite well-mixed in the atmosphere? ….

    The AIRS concluded that CO2 is not at all well-mixed in the atmosphere. All it did was confirm what is common sense if our atmosphere and the properties of CO2 are understood in the real, physical earth. (The AIRS is handily at the moment on the Stomata v Ice Core post). CO2 will be moved by wind and so on, dispersed, but its nature is always to sink through air displacing the lighter oxygen and nitrogen. How far it travels will depend on the weather and it also comes down in rain. But, it will always act according to real gas laws in the real atmosphere; it does not on its own volition diffuse into the air, so where large amounts are produced together they may well stay together in these clumps rising on heat and winds, but always the atmosphere itself will limit what it does and where it goes.

    http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/volcanowatch/2005/05_06_02.html “Because CO2 is heavier than air, it doesn’t readily rise into the atmosphere and, instead, tends to pool in low areas.”

    Mike Borgelt – In the troposphere convection will mix the air pretty thoroughly although not instantly. Above that where there is no bulk transfer ..

    I like the distinction made in the link I posted as a p.s., that mixing is going on, but it is not well mixed. He gives really good descriptions of how air moves and how bulk amounts of air can be moving at angles to each other, by relating it to those sports which use this knowledge, such as gliding and ballooning, bird flight.

    I think the real problem some have is of not appreciating that air has bulk, is an entity in itself. Wind isn’t something outside of air stirring it around as a wooden spoon stirring soup, but it is volumes of air moving, and it’s not always windy… The best description of how air is as a volume of gas is how sound travels, the air itself doesn’t move very much, (because real gases have volume they’re not moving rapidly through empty space, they may be moving rapidly on the spot so to speak), it’s the sound passing itself through the air to the ear by vibration. It’s the vibration moving through a density of air striking the molecules causing them to move and strike the molecules next to them and so on down the line. Like a wave in the sea, the water itself doesn’t move very far, it’s the energy being passed through it which creates the movement, passing it along through the mass of water to break on a distant shore.

    Molecules of CO2 will always be moving as air moves, when it moves, but also in relation to the part it is in will be interacting with the other volumes of molecules, it displaces air.

    I really don’t know about CO2 higher than the troposphere, I can’t see how it can be there in any amount if at all, as it has difficulties enough getting off the ground..

  200. Buoyancy does not apply to individual gas molecules in the same way it applies to gases in a hot air balloon for example. If it did, the CFCs would never be in the stratosphere. All gases are well mixed with the exception of water vapor since it condenses if the temperature gets too low.

  201. Myrrh says:
    December 29, 2010 at 7:06 pm

    I have to say here, that I first of all had to convince him that CO2 was actually heavier than air and would displace air, mainly nitrogen and oxygen molecules, to sink to the ground where it would pool when in sufficient quantities.

    Why are you so focused on CO2? If you just look at nitrogen and oxygen, with molecular weights of 14 and 16. Clearly, all the O2 is at the surface of the Earth, and N2 is above. The O2 would run up to about 800 mb, which is about the top of Mt Washington. Of course, Mt Everest is much taller and must be in the pure nitrogen zone, and that’s why people bring oxygen with them.

    Water vapor has a molecular weight of only 10 – that explains cirrus clouds. Low level clouds must start from evapoarting water puddles and climbs vertically, until it turns to cloud and it keeps going until it rains out and the process repeats the next day.

    Fog and stratus clouds must be something else. Stage smoke generators and low level chemtrails come to mind as obvious sources.

    Students – don’t use these answers on your homework! :-)

  202. The maximum value of Planck’s equation is E=hc.

    Martin, you are confusing frequency with velocity.

    We were both being mischievous by comparing apples with oranges. I should have put a smiley on the last line. None the less it’s good that you pointed out the conclusion was flawed logic.

  203. stephen richards Pure CO2 kills animals and Humans and, I think someone has shown that death has occurred at above 7000ppm but the O2 content was not measured.

    John Day The concentration of CO2 in your lungs right now is 40,000ppm (i.e. ~4% CO2). You’re not feeling dead, or a bit woozy now are you?

    You might start to be, that is a dangerously low level, below that which the lungs require to transport oxygen healthily – you could be heading for an asthma attack at this level which is the lungs response to low levels of CO2. The bronchioles beginning to contract to conserve CO2 making it harder to breathe and panic sets in.

    I think that’s the amount, from your link, that is exhaled.

    Asthmatics who breathe too quickly are in danger from depleting the CO2 levels:

    http://www.correctbreathing.com/asthma.htm

    “Over time, this excessive breathing pattern results in an abnormal loss of carbon dioxide (CO2). This precious gas is critical for regulation of many bodily functions such as the acid/alkaline balance of blood. To have optimum oxygenation of tissues and organs the body requires 5.5-6.5% CO2 in the lungs. The body creates most of this amount as the atmosphere contains only 0.035%.”

    Read on for Bohr Effect.

  204. Even mercury, that is about 7-fold heavier than air, is fairly well mixed with the latter at least in lower troposphere, and you are taking in no less than 300 billion Hg molecules (atoms actually) per single aspiration (ca. 500 mL air).

  205. Ric Werme says:
    December 29, 2010 at 9:24 pm
    Myrrh says:December 29, 2010 at 7:06 pm
    [......] nitrogen and oxygen, with molecular weights of 14 and 16. [....] Water vapor has a molecular weight of only 10 – [....]

    The molecular weights of N2, O2 and H2O are 28, 32 and 18, respectively, although this may not affect the essence of your comment.

  206. Werner Brozek says:

    Buoyancy does not apply to individual gas molecules in the same way it applies to gases in a hot air ballon for example. If it did, the CFCs would never be in the stratosphere. All gases are well mixed with the exception of water vapour since it condenses if the temperature gets to low.

    The gas in the hot air balloon is air. It is heated which makes it less dense than the air it is in and so rises in air. Water vapour is lighter than air, it rises in air, carbon dioxide is heavier than air, it sinks in air.

    The atmosphere is not well-mixed, otherwise we would have temperature equalised everywhere, for example. Some on balloons here:

    http://wikidoc.org/index.php/Lighter_than_air

    from which: “Determining which gases are lighter than air is relatively straightforward. These gases must have a molecular mass less than 28.97 (the average molecular mass of air) and exist as a gas at atmospheric temperatures and atmospheric pressures.”

    Carbon dioxide is 1.5 times heavier than air, it displaces air and sinks to the ground, with or without a container around it. There are some fun experiments to do with dry ice which show how CO2 sinks as it becomes a gas, spilling over the edge of a glass and flowing down.

    This is the danger in breweries, or rather in falling asleep in them.., mines, pits and so on, where large amounts can pool on the ground displacing oxygen. Suffocation is silent and quick. Don’t know about CFC’s.

  207. Ric Werme says:

    Why are so focused on CO2?

    BECAUSE, AGWScience has turned it into a poison, capable of doing supermolecule feets such as staying up in the atmosphere accumulating for thousands of years bringing the earth to boiling point by flipping a bit of IR back..

    There was even a AGWscientist recently who set off to prove that the atmosphere in a mine was well mixed and that methane, being lighter than air, although it might rise to the ceiling (reluctantly admitted because the weight of observation in real science can’t be denied), will diffuse through the air and mix thoroughly with the rest of the atmosphere in the mine. A lighter than air version of my heavier than air example of CO2.

    He came away utterly confounded, because the methane stayed in a layer at the ceiling.

    He said, ‘there must have been a source of methane coming into the mine rising to the ceiling replacing that which was diffusing in air, but we couldn’t find it.’

    He couldn’t find it because it wasn’t doing that. He was using an ideal gas law to describe what a real gas would do, and it doesn’t apply. Gases that are lighter than air, rise in air. In a confined space such as a mine methane will pool in a layer at the ceiling. Any carbon dioxide in the mine will pool in a layer at the ground. That’s the real world. AGW has stepped through the looking glass, full of impossible phyics.

    AGW has so contorted real physics by teaching this misapplication of ideal gas laws to real gases that this man, real adult educated scientist in real adult community, didn’t know that. And it was his subject.

    How can AGW say carbon dioxide is a poison, and frighten children with this at bedtime story telling, when it is absolutely essential to our lives and all life on earth? Because they’ve lost all sense of reality.

    The ideal gas, to which only the ideal gas law applies, is imaginary. It’s a construct. Ideal gas laws do not apply to real gases. Read the differences in the links I posted. “Imaginary” is how “ideal” is actually described in real physics, just as “average” is a construct. Some people think that when ‘average annual rainfall’ is given, this means it’s the amount that falls every day…

    Applied scientists, whose work is dependent on knowing the difference between real and imaginary gases, will be able to explain it better than I.

  208. tokyoboy points out the painfully obvious:
    December 29, 2010 at 10:14 pm

    > The molecular weights of N2, O2 and H2O are 28, 32 and 18, respectively, although this may not affect the essence of your comment.

    I can’t believe I screwed that up so badly! Fortunately only the ratios are important. Something about that H2O being 10 didn’t sound right and should’ve prompted a sanity check.

    Excuse me while I go crawl under a pool of CO2….

  209. “”””” Ric Werme says:
    December 30, 2010 at 4:47 am
    tokyoboy points out the painfully obvious:
    December 29, 2010 at 10:14 pm “””””

    Well Ric, I don’t think I’ve ever done that; make a misteak, that is. Well there’s a lot of things I don’t think. Need some company under that CO2 ? Come to think of it, why don’t we just skate on top of it; or ski on the CO2 snow (at Vostok); I can’t stand the pressure of that liquid CO2.

  210. “”””” Myrrh says:
    December 29, 2010 at 9:42 pm
    stephen richards Pure CO2 kills animals and Humans and, I think someone has shown that death has occurred at above 7000ppm but the O2 content was not measured.

    John Day The concentration of CO2 in your lungs right now is 40,000ppm (i.e. ~4% CO2). You’re not feeling dead, or a bit woozy now are you?

    You might start to be, that is a dangerously low level, below that which the lungs require to transport oxygen healthily – you could be heading for an asthma attack at this level which is the lungs response to low levels of CO2. “””””

    Well Myrhh, I think you have your maladies maladjusted.

    Asthma doesn’t have anything to do with the lungs; it is a constriction of the duct leading from the throat into the lungs; the gas exchange mechanisms of the lung surfaces are not affected in any way by Asthma; and I should know since my whole life and career rest on having been a major heavy duty asthmatic as a kid. Without that asthma I would now be a retired very rich former sheep farmer in New Zealand.

    Folklore has it, that the traditional Maori treatment for drowning, called for stringing the victim; excuse me, the patient, up by his ankles (with a flax rope of course) over a fire of hot coals, with leaves on it to make smoke, and get his luungs full of CO2 to trigger the coughing, and breathing response.

    I used to hold my breath for two minutes (while underwater swimming) and the biggest problem was mentally resisting the breathe out urge that is triggered by the build up of CO2 in the lungs.

    My guess is that the disease that interferes with the gas exchange mechanism at the lung surface is Emphysema; not Asthma.

  211. Myrrh says:

    “AGW Science says a molecule of gas heavier than air can rise through the volume of air above it and rapidly diffuse through it thoroughly mixing with all the other molecules, because AGWScience says air is empty space with molecules at great distances apart from each other zipping at enormous speeds randomly through it. AGWScience says a molecule of gas that is heavier than air can stay up in this its atmosphere for hundreds and thousands of years, even though it is heavier than air, because etc.”

    Not just “AGWScience” – Einstein said as much – one of his 1905 papers was on Brownian Motion. Dust particles millions of times heavier than simple molecules also stay in the atmosphere for long periods of time.

    There are opposing tendencies at work – gravity and diffusion. Diffusion is governed by Fick’s Laws, the most important explaining how diffusion occurs from higher to lower concentration. Over time Fick wins, and all gases apart from water vapour (which may change state between gas and liquid) mix more or less completely.

    Gases in a mine take longer to mix, because they can’t diffuse sideways. If there is a constant source of gas, which may occur in a mine or a swamp or volcano, there will be a constant concentration gradient until the source expires.

  212. “”””” Myrrh says:
    December 29, 2010 at 7:06 pm
    Joel Shore says:
    December 28, 2010 at 8:30 pm

    re through the looking glass with Alice I can pretty much assure you that the person you had the discussion with must have felt likewise.

    Oh yes, that was made quite clear to me… (grin)

    ..it’s nice to be back…

    All models are approximations. However, the ideal gas law is a very good…perhaps even excellent approximation…at atmospheric densities.

    How so?

    Please look at the table at the bottom of this page tabulating the differences between Real gases and Ideal gases: http://www.tutorvista.com/chemistry/difference-between-ideal-and-real-gases

    The atmosphere I live in is Real, Real Science applies there. “””””

    Well hold on there pardner ! I have to come to the defence of Joel Shore here; regarding Ideal Gas Laws.

    Joel may be a bit misguided; but he generally has his facts pretty straight; and he said here:- “”””” However, the ideal gas law is a very good…perhaps even excellent approximation…at atmospheric densities. “””””
    Shall I repeat : “”””” …at atmospheric densities. “””””

    The Ideal Gas Equation of State is: pV =NkT where the terms are: pressure, Volume, No of particles, Boltzmann’s konstant, and Temperature.

    Contrast this with Van der Waals equation which better approximates many real gases.

    (p + (n/V)^2.a)(V-nb) = nRT

    Well we have an adder term to the pressure (p) and a reduction of the Volume (V) and we have nRT in place of NkT.

    Well (n) is the amount of substance in mols, instead of (N) the number of particles (molecules), and R is of course the Universal Gas Constant, = 8.314 J/K.mol

    And wouldn’t you know it but nR = Nk , how about that !

    So the difference is those two extra terms; so what the hell are they all about ?

    Well the – nb term is easy; (n) is of course the number of mols of gas and (b) is a “constant of internal volume”. Well (b) is a constant for any one particular gas (m^3/mol ) .

    Surprise ! molecules take up space; not much space but they do take up some. The molecules themselves are not particularly compressible; they kind of like the way and size they are, so at ordinary pressures the molecules take up a fixed volume. That volume is NOT available to be compressed, in the pV = NkT ideal gas equation. The actual available compressible Volume is less than V by that amount (nb)

    So if we simply offset that tiny microscopic incompressible volume of the molecules themselves, then our real gas behaves much more ideal like.

    So what is that pressure adder term (n/V)^2.b ?

    Well in the interior of the gas, the molecules generally attract each other, mostly from small dipole effects. In the bulk of the gas, of course these forces pull in all directions so they cancel out; but not at the boundary, since there’s no molecules outside that to pull. So the gas tries to pull in on itself much like a surface tension effect; so there is an internal pressure excess over that applied from the outside containing walls; hence the slight adjustment to the pressure.

    Then we are right back to the ideal gas relationship. (a) of course is also a “constant of internal pressure” that is characteristic of each gas, with units of Nm^4/mol^2 Careful now; THAT (N) is Newtons, not the number of particles.

    Now back to our atmosphere, and Joel Shore’s assertion. Really our atmospheric pressure is peanuts, and the mean free path between molecules, is astronomical compared to the radius of a molecule, so the internal volume adjustment is very small, and for the same reason (low pressure), the internal pressure adjustment is small. Liquids with their much greater density and closer molecular spacing exhibit easily perceivable surface tension contracting forces; much larger than gas internal pressures.

    So Joel is on very solid ground, when he says that the Ideal Gas Law is fine for the atmosphere, at normal STP conditions.

    You have to be a lot faster on your feet to catch Joel in an error; he does his homework; still a bit misguided.

  213. Lars P: No…Nobody serious takes Herzberg’s analysis (that you linked to) seriously. And, that includes skeptical scientists like Roy Spencer. At least one of the things that confused Herzberg is that he didn’t seem to understand that the fourth-root of average of T^4 is not the same as the average temperature. Technically, the blackbody temperature of a planet or moon would be a constraint on the fourth-root of average of T^4 because that is what controls the amount of radiation going back out into space. For a planet like the earth where the large specific heat keeps temperatures from oscillating so wildly with the diurnal cycle, this is a small effect but for something like the moon this is a large effect.

  214. @Lars P

    The moon’s average surface temperature is -23C measured by thermocouples buried in the regolith at a depth of one meter. Measurements were made for four continuous years at two different landing sites. Annual variation in temperature disappears at a depth of one meter.

    Thermal conductivity of the surface i.e. the ability to store heat absorbed during the day and release it at night only lessens the difference between day/night surface temperature. The preliminary estimates you cited for lunar surface temperature underestimated the thermal conductivity of the regolith. At the time no one knew the density of the lunar surface. Some believed it was a fine flour to a depth of several meters and the lunar lander would sink out of sight. As it turns out it was packed much more solidly – so solid in fact that the regolith thermal conductivity experiments from which I pulled the temperatue data at one sight couldn’t be drilled to the maximum specified depth of 3 meters.

    If the earth had no atmosphere and the surface was the same mineral composition of the moon, which it would be in that case, they would be the same average temperature of -23C. The earth’s average temperature today is 13C which is very close to the cited rise of 33C.

    There’s a caveat however. The moon’s average albedo is about 16% while the earth’s average albedo is about twice that although it’s very difficult to measure earth’s albedo and estimates vary from low 30′s to high 30′s percent. So theoretically the earth should have an average temperature much lower than the moon without greenhouse gases but then again since water vapor is a greenhouse gas and without water vapor we wouldn’t have clouds and without clouds the surface albedo would be lower than the moon as the ocean’s abedo is near 0%.

    Water messes up all the calculations. IMHO the primary effect of non-condensing greenhouse gases is that they warm the surface just enough so that we have a global ocean with a predominantly liquid surface. When that happens enough water vapor enters the atmosphere so that it takes over the temperature control and because water vapor is a condensing GHG it puts a cap on how much greenhouse warming it can accomplish through a negative feedback inherent in cloud cover i.e. when it gets warmer there are more clouds and more clouds raise the albedo which makes it cooler.

    The fact that non-condensing greenhouse gases are historically very low probably has a lot to do with why the earth has for the past 3 million years been in an ice age.

    In short simplified form CO2 prevents the earth from runaway freezing and water vapor prevents runaway warming. At the present time we’re in danger of runaway freezing which has happened several times in the earth’s history and in no danger of runaway warming which has never happened.

  215. Steve from Rockwood says:
    December 29, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    “Is CO2 really toxic or is the lack of O2 toxic?”

    Yes. Not enough oxygen and you suffocate. Too much CO2 and you get acidosis and die of it because blood pH becomes too low for critical metabolic chemistry to work as it should. CO2 toxicity is not a concern due to anthropogenic sources in open atmosphere as the toxic level is far higher than we could possibly make it through burning fossil fuels.

  216. George E. Smith says:
    December 30 2010 at 9:23 am

    I said: You might start to be, that is a dangerously low level, below that which the lungs require to transport oxygen healthily – you could be heading for an asthma attack at this level which is the the lungs response to low levels of CO2.

    You said in reply: Asthma doesn’t have anything to do with the lungs; it is a constriction of the duct leading from the throat into the lungs; the gas exchange mechanisms of the lung surfaces are not affected in any way by Asthma;

    OK, I haven’t heard that before. This below is what I understand to be what happens:

    http://www.articlesfactory.com/articles/health/asthma-status-asthmaticus.html

    “Asthma attacks are caused by the a narrowing of the small bronchial tubes in the lungs .”

    “Question: How does asthma interfere with breathing?

    Air passes through the lungs via tubes (called bronchi) and smaller vessels (bronchioles). With asthma, the smaller bronchi and bronchioles become swollen and clogged with mucus, and the muscles surrounding the bronchioles contract so that the air that should pass through is unable to do so. The body reacts to the lack of oxygen, and the patient forces more and more air into the lungs. But, because of the blockages, there is difficulty in exhaling it. The wheezing noise is caused by air being forcibly exhaled through the narrowed bronchi.

    There are many reasons for asthma attacks, for the bronchioles to become narrowed, infections, allergies and so on. Emphesema happens when the lungs are continually stretched over time from them not being able to expel the oxygen.

    One of the causes of this narrowing is when there is insufficient CO2 in the lungs.

    Because CO2 is crucial to oxygen getting to where it is needed in the body, a lung full of oxygen on its own is not enough. This is where the effect of an asthma attack comes in, when the lungs are full of oxygen but not able to empty and the discomfort mounts, because without CO2 the oxygen can’t being used. I’m not sure I’m explaining it well enough here.. But, when there is insufficient CO2 in the lungs, which the body itself produces, the reaction is for the bronchioles to narrow (as in an allergic reaction cause), because the body is trying to conserve CO2 content in the lung (as from a link above, this is 4% of exhaled air); so it’s the body’s defence reaction because it needs CO2 to utilise oxygen – the lung full of oxygen an asthmatic has in an attack can’t be used by the body until there is sufficient level of CO2 to transport it.

    Because there are different reasons for asthma attacks I’m not saying that if you introduce extra CO2 your attack would stop… It’s just that an asthma attack, from the effect of bronchioles narrowing, is what would happen if for some reason there was insufficient level of CO2 in the lungs and the body began to panic because it couldn’t get the oxygen to the vital functions. It closes down the bronchioles to conserve supplies.

    I’ve read that cure for drowing before, amazing, and sad to imagine how much we must have lost now that native knowledge is teaching us from those places where it hasn’t been. I don’t know what will happen next in our ‘western’ world as the pharmaceutical companies are getting cleverer and more powerful. They’ve just started a big attack on herbal remedies, I think an EU initiative, I missed the beginning. The two journalists discussing it (on a Sky Press Preview a couple of days ago), were appalling, couldn’t tell the difference between AGW press promoting journos and these. One said, ‘do you know that none of the Chinese herbal medicines have been tested?’ with a shock horror face. At that point, feeling the beginnings of a scream coming on, I switched off the TV.

  217. Dave;
    That’s kind of an abuse of the term “toxic”. The list of substances which are “toxic” at unlimited concentrations is very large, approaching universal. Read Charles Sheffield’s sf opus “Nitrogen Fix” for a fun excursion on that gas! In that “climate”, oxygen is a deadly poison.

  218. George E. Smith says:
    December 30, 2010 at 9:06 am

    “”””” Ric Werme says:
    December 30, 2010 at 4:47 am
    tokyoboy points out the painfully obvious:
    December 29, 2010 at 10:14 pm “””””

    Well Ric, I don’t think I’ve ever done that; make a misteak, that is. Well there’s a lot of things I don’t think. Need some company under that CO2 ? Come to think of it, why don’t we just skate on top of it; or ski on the CO2 snow (at Vostok); I can’t stand the pressure of that liquid CO2.

  219. [Oops, let's try that again...]

    George E. Smith says:
    December 30, 2010 at 9:06 am

    > Need some company under that CO2 ? Come to think of it, why don’t we just skate on top of it; or ski on the CO2 snow (at Vostok);

    Let’s not go there (Vostok) – I’m not ready for that topic again!

  220. PhilC says:
    December 30, 2010 at 10:00 am

    Not just “AGWScience” – Einstein said as much – one of his 1905 papers was on Brownian Motion. Dust particles millions of times heavier than simple molecules also stay in the atmosphere for long periods of time.

    Because of the motion of the medium they are in. The medium of the atmosphere is air, air is a gas. Made of real gas molecules which have volume etc. as per the differences on the link I posted.

    “Brownian movement – Continuous random motion of particles in a fluid medium (gas or liquid) as they are subjected to impact from the molecules of the medium.” http://encylopedia.farlex.com/Brownian+motion

    There are opposing tendencies at work – gravity and diffusion. Diffusion is governed by Fick’s Laws, the most important explaining how diffusion occurs from higher to lower concentration. Over time Fick wins, and all gases apart from water vapour (which may change state between gas and liquid) mix more or less completely.

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

    Please read the first two paragraphs, the second of which ends “Under normal conditions, molecular diffusion is relevant only on length scales between nanometer and millimeter. On larger length scales, transport in liquids and gases is normally due to another transport phenomenon, convection.”

    Note the term “normal” and “transport in liquids and gases”. Third paragraph:

    “Therefore, some often cited examples of diffusion are wrong: If cologne is sprayed in one place, it will soon be smelled in the entire room, but a simple calculation shows that this cannot be due to diffusion; the cause can only be convection. If ink is dropped in water, one usually observes an inhomogeneous evolution of the spatial distribution, which clearly indicates convection; diffusion dominates only in perfect thermal equilibrium.”

    So, molecular diffusion only on tiny scales. Hence my example of sound travelling through space, which is the gas air, the medium. The molecules of the gas air are not diffusing in the room, any more than the molecules of water are diffusing in the sea. The molecules may be moving very quickly, but they’re going nowhere fast. (Unless convection currents, etc.)

    Convection is “work”. The room in my thought experiment did not have anything added to change the circumstances in which the CO2 pooled.

    Gases in a mine take longer to mix, because they can’t diffuse sideways. If there is a constant source of gas, which may occur in a mine or a swamp or volcano, there will be a constant concentration gradient until the source expires.

    Gases can’t diffuse sideways?

    Anyway, as above, molecules diffuse only on very small scales. At these distances the weight of the molecules relative to each other takes effect. In a mine, the lighter than air methane molecules will rise to the ceiling, forming a layer. The heavier than air carbon dioxide molecules will displace the lighter nitrogen and oxygen molecules and sink to the ground, forming a layer.

    It’s a fact. Well known, especially by those working in conditions where their life depends on knowing it. Miners check for methane layer when in new mines, the bog standard method of doing this was to cover oneself in wet towels and enter with a lit candle at the end of a long stick to poke into the ceiling space.. Even better known and common, observable by everyone, normal knowledge, is the fact that dust particles being heavier than air will sink, and settle on whatever the object around that is their ground; tables, chairs, tops of doors, floor. It doesn’t matter how long you give it, the dust will not diffuse to mix thoroughly with the air in the room. Not without a lot of energy imput, a very strong fan continually blowing into every part of the room, for example. Our atmosphere is not like that. Leaves would never fall on the ground.., we’d be choking on the debris of billions of years.., the whole lot would have turned into a compost heap and we’d probably be something like fungi or bacteria; we couldn’t have evolved as we are in such an atmosphere…

  221. George E Smith says:
    December 30, 2010 at 10:16 am

    Well hold on there pardner! I have to come to the defence of Joel Shore here; regarding Ideal Gas Laws.

    That sentence I can readily understand, communication has been established. The rest of it is gibberish to me… and I don’t have the time or motivation to learn a new language. Where you, others too, explain using maths, I require descriptions in English, so a companion commentary explaining these will be gratefully received.

    Of what I think I can understand:

    In the bulk of the gas, of course these forces pull in all directions so they cancel out; but not at the boundary, since there’s no molecules outside that to pull. So the gas tries to pull in on itself much like a surface tension effect; so there is an internal pressure excess over that applied from the outside containing walls; hence the slight adjustment to the pressure.

    What are the containing walls of our atmosphere?

    Then we are right back to the ideal gas relationship.

    Which creates wonderfully imaginative worlds in an imaginary atmosphere.

  222. George E Smith (anybody called Smith must be talking sense) said the effect of greenhouse gases was like the soap basin falling into the bath and partially blocking the open plughole. As this interrupts the flow, the water level will rise (as the taps are running) until equilibrium is reached and the flow out equals flow in. (Simple physics.) But does an open atmosphere behave like a bath of water? As CO2 absorbs and emits energy (including warming air molecules in collision) it cannot reduce the flow of energy like a soap basin reduces the flow of water. Water vapour has the ability to absorb energy in the form of latent heat, but CO2 cannot. The reality of a bath is not the reality of the open atmosphere.

  223. I see. Dave, Joel, thanks for the explanations!
    Dave Springer says: “the ocean’s albedo is near 0%”
    Dave, do you know of a calculation for average temperature considering if the planet were only water no atmosphere? (of course considering ice/water cases) I searched for some but could not find. Based on “common sense” I would say that due to the large area covered by water, water’s high specific heat capacity, and the fact it allows rays to heat more in depths then rocks do, a water planet would behave differently then a rock planet.
    So in my simplistic view I though the oceans dictate the average temperature and atmosphere is actually just messing around through increased albedo, kinetic energy, etc.

  224. Myrrh says:
    December 30, 2010 at 10:34 pm

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

    Please read the first two paragraphs, the second of which ends “Under normal conditions, molecular diffusion is relevant only on length scales between nanometer and millimeter. On larger length scales, transport in liquids and gases is normally due to another transport phenomenon, convection.”

    Good ol’ Wikipedia. They should’ve included “advection”, the horizontal transport of air. Think Canadian high blowing sub-zero cold air on to my nose in New Hampshire. Not a bad thing, Canadian air is good stuff, at least away from tar sands and forest fires.

    Convection is “work”. The room in my thought experiment did not have anything added to change the circumstances in which the CO2 pooled.

    Yeah, for the most part. A typical cloudfree weather day here starts with cold air chilled by the ground, and often pooled in valleys, depressions, etc. Definitely a case of denser air not mixing with less dense air that doesn’t radiate as well as the ground.

    So, we wind up under an inversion and no wind.

    When the Sun rises, its radiation that reaches the ground heats up the air until convection sets in and the inversion disipates. At that point, the local temperature rise slows way down, as the air is now “neutrally buoyant” and very little energy is required to move parcels of air up and down. The wind picks up as wind streams several thousand feet above can be deflected downward as the ground level air convects upward.

    Things repeat the next evening, assuming clear sky allows for radiational cooling and the ambient wind isn’t strong enough to scour out the chilled air before it has a chance to form a new inversion.

    Let’s see, where are we now? Separation by density is seen in basements about to explode, mines about to explode, and radiational cooling sites. It’s not seen in places where there’s air is moving and mixing. For meteorological purposes, I ignore diffusion. It’s just a second order effect and is vastly overwhelmed by the merest of zephyrs.

  225. “For meteorological purposes, I ignore diffusion. It’s just a second order effect and is vastly overwhelmed by the merest of zephyrs.”
    That makes sense.

  226. Lars P says:

    So in my simplistic view I though the oceans dictate the average temperature and atmosphere is actually just messing around through increased albedo, kinetic energy, etc.

    No…The average temperature of a planet without an IR-active atmosphere (and negligible internal generation of heat) would be dictated by simple energy balance principles. Such principles would state that the radiative power in equals the radiative energy out. The radiative power in is pi*(r^2)*(1-a)*S_0 where r = radius of the planet, a = albedo, S_0 = solar constant at the radius that the planet orbits the sun. The radiative power out is given by 4*pi*(r^2)*sigma*emissivity*T^4 where sigma is the Steffan-Boltzmann constant, T is the absolute temperature, and emissivity is a number between 0 and 1. Of course, if the planet is not at a uniform temperature and/or does not have a uniform emissivity the emissivity*T^4 would be replaced by where is the average of that quantity over the planet’s surface.

    Most materials making up the surface of a planet have an emissivity within a few percent of 1.0 in the far infrared (where the radiation is emitted), although apparently desert sand can deviate a little further than that. So, basically, the average of T^4 can be easily calculated. If the variations in temperature on the planet (in time and space) are not too large than the fourth root of will be pretty close to .

    As for the effect of the oceans, their large heat capacity comes into play mainly in reducing the temperature variation on the surface of the planet (and, thus, the diurnal variations in temperature). To the extent that the reduced temperature variations change without changing then I supposed that it can affect the “average temperature” a little bit but it main affect is on the variation in the temperature.

    Now, if you add in an IR-active atmosphere then things change. Basically, it is still true that the radiation from the planet has to balance what it receives from the sun but this can occur by having the radiation back out into space occur from some effective height up in the atmosphere (really a range of heights described by a probability distribution) and the surface of the planet itself can be considerably warmer than the temperature in the atmosphere at this height.

  227. “””””” Myrrh says:
    December 30, 2010 at 10:59 pm
    George E Smith says:
    December 30, 2010 at 10:16 am

    Well hold on there pardner! I have to come to the defence of Joel Shore here; regarding Ideal Gas Laws.

    That sentence I can readily understand, communication has been established. The rest of it is gibberish to me… and I don’t have the time or motivation to learn a new language. Where you, others too, explain using maths, I require descriptions in English, so a companion commentary explaining these will be gratefully received. “””””

    Well Mryhh, that sounds to me like you just punted.

    You castigated Joel Shore because HE explained in reasonable words, that for the pressures of ordinary atmospheric conditions, the difference between the ideal gas laws, and the behavior of real gases; at least those of the ordinary atmospheric gases which are typically well modelled by the Van der Waals extension of the ideal gas law, is small enough to be entirely ignored; certainly for any climate considerations.

    Now all that I did was to put some quite elementary quantitative padding on Joel’s statement; to make it clear that Joel’s position is indeed quite reasonable.

    The “derivation” of the VdW extension of the ideal gas law, is something anyone can understand.

    The available space in a Mall parking lot, is reduced by the finite size of the cars themselves. You can only compress that empty space down, until the (incompressible) cars are touching each other.

    Molecules take up a finite space; and that part of the total is not amenable to compression in the manner the ideal gas law contemplates.

    The excess internal pressure is perhaps a little more difficult to understand but not so much. The molecules typically pull on each other; but in the bulk of the gas, any one molecule is being pulled every which way, by its neighbors in every direction; so none of them really notice a net pull.
    But when you get to the boundary of the gas (container walls), the gas molecules are being pulled inwards towards the rest of the gas; but there is no matching pull outwards, so at the boundary, the additional pressure is apparent to the container.

    With those two simple adjustments, the resultant formula approximates the observable behavior of real gases, over a very wide range of Temperatures and Pressures; much wider than any atmospheric gas conditions ever experienced.

    Science is a quantitative discipline. Cause and effect can only be established, when one can place some limits on measurable size of effects.

    A typical example of the conundrum is the currently popular Svensmark theory about cosmic ray effects on cloud formation.

    I’m quite certain that cosmic rays can and do nucleate cloud formation.

    Dr Leif Svalgaard is less than enthused about the effect. But he hasn’t denied the effect; simply queried whether the present levels of cosmic ray flux on earth can explain a significant part of cloud formation variability. I understand that concern; it is the old story of the beat of a butterfly’s wing in a Brazillian rain forest; and a subsequent tornado in Kansas.

    If you yourself are unable to follow the mathematics that goes along with Physics; and that is not a sin or a disease; then you probably would do better if you took observations of people like Joel Shore, a bit more seriously.

    One thing you will find at WUWT, is that there are enough chaff detectors to see that totally non-credible statements by posters; don’t go unchallenged for very long.

    I’ve had to eat crow often enough myself; when I came up with somer avant garde concept; that got mowed down. That’s why I come here; to learn from those who know a damn side more than I do. Joel is not known to simply make stuff up. I disagree with him a lot; but I agree with him, a lot more than we disagree.

  228. I’ve had to eat crow often enough myself; when I came up with some avant garde concept; that got mowed down. That’s why I come here; to learn from those know a damn side more than I do. Joel is not known to simply make stuff up. I disagree with him a lot; but I agree with him, a lot more than we disagree.

    Well, this could be another opportunity for you..

    Let me just remind you of what my point is here. That AGW presents a version of CO2 that is utterly at odds with its known properties. Most of what is argued about CO2 between antis and pros is IR and all that, but, what interested me was there was hardly even a mention of the claims by AGW about its weight, and I couldn’t find any arguments from antis which looked into this. So, I did it myself. These, my posts above, are my findings.

    The two claims made by AGW and presented as ‘it is very well known’, i.e. as if it is real physical science are 1) that CO2 is very well mixed in the atmosphere and 2) that CO2 stays up in the atmosphere for hundreds, thousands, of years, accumulating.

    This is do with the weight of CO2. CO2 is 1.5 times heavier than air. What is very well known in RealScience is that gases in our atmosphere which are lighter than air will rise, gases which are heavier will sink. They’re doing it all the time. Water vapour is lighter than air and rises, gases which are warm become less dense and rise, weather is tracked by knowing this.

    Yet somehow, CO2 doesn’t obey physical laws anymore in AGWScience. I wanted to know why, what the reasoning was behind these claims. What I found was straight ideal gas laws applied directly in concept to explain real gases, the behaviour of CO2 in the above 2 points related directly to this misuse of ideal gas laws. The ideal gas is imaginary, it is not real, and no ideal gas law applies to a real gas – is basic physics. I’ve given the differences, I’ve posted a link to a table where side by side you can see the differences.

    I’ve given the thought experiment I went through this with to discover why AGW was teaching such nonsense. He was a physics PhD. I’ve been through this. He claimed that CO2 was acting as AGWScience presented it: that it could stay up in the atmosphere for hundreds of years, that even though it was heavier than air and with no work being done to move it, it having pooled on the ground would rise up and diffuse in the atmosphere in the room. This is absurd. This is contrary to all observation of CO2 in the real world. As my examples show. Yet, still people think that CO2 in a mine will of its own volition diffuse into the atmosphere, and still they think, as Joel’s question to me, that it is very well-mixed in the atmosphere -regardless of information from real observation and real data which shows CO2 acts consistently with its known properties and with known RealScience about diffusion and convection.

    So please, stop arguing for Joel, it’s becoming a bit tedious, go through what I’ve been saying here and engage with what I’m actually saying. And answer the question I asked you. What are the walls of the atmosphere?

    Joel asked me a question, I answered him. He didn’t come back to argue. So don’t tell me I’m arguing with Joel, I’m arguing with you.

  229. Myrrh says:

    Joel asked me a question, I answered him. He didn’t come back to argue. So don’t tell me I’m arguing with Joel, I’m arguing with you.

    No, you are arguing with me, George E. Smith, Ric Werme, PhilC, and Werner Brozek. We are not generally a group of people who all agree on issues related to AGW, but we all agree that you are wrong on this point because it is not really an issue of AGW but an issue of basic science.

    This is do with the weight of CO2. CO2 is 1.5 times heavier than air. What is very well known in RealScience is that gases in our atmosphere which are lighter than air will rise, gases which are heavier will sink. They’re doing it all the time. Water vapour is lighter than air and rises, gases which are warm become less dense and rise, weather is tracked by knowing this.

    So, your claim here makes some definite predictions:

    (1) There should be a lot of CO2 near the ground and it should decrease as you go up in the atmosphere.

    (2) There should be less H2O vapor near the ground and it should increase as you go up.

    (3) Near the ground, there should be more oxygen and less nitrogen (because oxygen has a molecular weight of 32 and nitrogen of 28) and the ratio of nitrogen to oxygen should increase as you go up.

    Now, you might try investigating how these predictions compare to reality, i.e., actual data. I’ll tell you what you will find:

    (1) CO2 does not have significant variation with height, except that very near the ground it can be locally higher than the value generally quoted because of nearby sources.

    (2) For H2O, the behavior is generally the opposite of what your hypothesis predicts. I.e., there is more H2O vapor near the ground and less as you go up. The reasons for this are a combination of where the sources are (near the ground) and the fact that H2O is a condensable gas, meaning that it doesn’t stay in the atmosphere long enough to become well-mixed and, in particular, at higher altitudes where the air is colder, the saturation concentration is lower which limits the concentrations at higher altitudes.

    (3) There is no appreciable change in the fractions of O2 vs N2 as you go up in the atmosphere.

    And, as I and others have tried to explain to you, there are well-understood reasons why, despite the difference in weight, gases in the atmosphere tend to mix. The basic point is that the lighter the elementary constituent is (which in the case of a gas, is the individual molecule) then the less important are gravitational effects relative to other effects such as diffusion and bulk atmopsheric motions (advection, convection, etc.). Another way to look at it is an energy vs. entropy thing.

  230. Water vapour is lighter than air and rises, gases which are warm become less dense and rise, weather is tracked by knowing this.

    Generally moist air is warm air, so it’s warm, moist air that does the rising and creates cumulus clouds, thunderstorms etc. If that were not the case you’d never see fog – water vapor would be rising, the fog would evaporate and that vapor would follow.

    I was going to figure out the density of saturated air at 10C and 20C (and the 10C air warmed to 20C), but just don’t have time today. It’s not that hard, you can get some data at http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/water-vapor-saturation-pressure-air-d_689.html. Basically figure the average molecular weight of the air, then given pressure and temperature, you can figure out the density.

    Note that when water vapor rises, it drags along nearly all the other gases it’s mixed with – remember my mention about viscosity. That and convection and advection helps keeping things well mixed.

    The rest of it is gibberish to me… and I don’t have the time or motivation to learn a new language. Where you, others too, explain using maths, I require descriptions in English, so a companion commentary explaining these will be gratefully received.

    In other words, we’ve been wasting our time trying to help you understand this? Physical science is built on a mathematical foundation. Nothing we’ve talked about above if outside of high school math and science (well 1960s math and science before people started working in feelings and scores based on self esteem instead of learning). If you refuse to learn/remember that, we can find better things to do with our time.

  231. By the way, just to clarify my last post: I am generally talking about volume fractions of the various gases. Of course, in absolute terms, all gases decrease in absolute concentration with height just because the atmosphere itself becomes thinner as we go up.

    Myrrh: I also second Ric Werme’s last paragraph. It is find to be ignorant of math (which, as Ric notes, is the underlying language of the physical sciences), but what is not so good is when, despite this ignorance, you still feel that you are qualified to state that the entire scientific community is wrong on some basic point of physical science. With ignorance of something should come some sense of humility too.

  232. Well, here we can see being played out exactly the point made by the opening post..

    The mistake you’re making is that you think you have something to teach me.

    I’ve already been through the arguments you’re making. My objection was not having a description in English, with or without the maths. I think this is why you appear to not be hearing what I’m saying. I’m still waiting from an answer from, collective, you, since George hasn’t answered my question (at the time of posting this). I’ve noticed someone else getting the point I was making in asking it..

    My objective here, is to show that observable scientific and common sense fact falsifies the AGW claims that CO2 diffuses into the atmosphere to become well-mixed and that it can stay up in the atmosphere for hundreds and thousands of years. Both these statements are claimed to be real by AGWScience. Contrary to all well known physics of CO2.

    What I am doing here is, trying, to explain what I have found is the reasoning behind these absurd claims by AGWScience. What I have found: is that an ideal gas law has been applied directly to explain CO2′s behaviour in the atmosphere, which it is not fit to do, and it, AGWS, has no sense, whatsoever, of what it means for a molecule to be heavier or lighter than air.

    Since all physical observation and RealScience knowledge has already established what CO2 can and can’t do with respect to these claims from AGWScience, because its properties are known and how it interacts with the properties of other gases in the atmosphere is know, AGWScience on this is already falsified. You might well call it “basic science”, but you’re unable to explain it in real basic science.

    Joel says: No, you are arguing with me, George E. Smith, Ric Werme, PhilC, and Werner Brozek. We are not generally a group of people who all agree on issues related to AGW, but we all agree that you are wrong on this point because it is not really an issue of AGE but an issue of basic science.

    OK, let’s get this straight. You are all agreed with these two claims from AGWScience about CO2, which are the subject I have chosen to post on, are basic science, what I call here RealScience, in contrast to AGWScience?

    So, you are agreeing with my original protagonist in my thought experiment as I gave above, that CO2 having pooled on the floor in a room will diffuse into the atmosphere, the air in the room, to become completely well-mixed, without any work being done on it?

    You are agreeing that CO2, regardless that it is 1.5 times heavier than air, stays up in the air for hundreds and thousands of years, accumulating? – All of you?

    (1) CO2 does not have significant variation with height, except that very near the ground it can be locally higher than the value generally quoted because of nearby sources.

    Proof? Note, it is for you to show proof, this is against the known property of CO2 which says because it is heavier than air it displaces air, therefore, will always tend to sink. AIRS data says you’re wrong. AIRS says quite categorically that Carbon Dioxide is not, contrary to their expectation (from this AGWScience assumption I take it), at all well mixed in the atmosphere. What do you have that disproves AIRS?

    (2) For H2O, the behavior is generally the opposite of what your hypothesis predicts. I.e., there is more H2O vapor near the ground and less as you go up. The reasons for this are a combination of where the sources are (near the ground) and the fact that H2O is a condensable gas, meaning that it doesn’t stay in the atmosphere long enough to become well-mixed and, in particular, at higher altitudes where the air is colder, the saturation concentration is lower which limits the concentrations at higher altitudes.

    My point in mentioning water vapour was to establish that the RealScience fact that gases have weight and act accordingly, water vapour being lighter than air is bouyant in air. Significantly lighter than air. An atomic weight of 18 compared with the nitrogen at 28 and oxygen 32 which makes up the bulk of air. Gases lighter than air will rise and those heavier than air will sink, displacing air. If you put some water in an open glass at room temperature it will evaporate, might take a few days, but because water vapour is lighter than air that’s what it does.

    In that, however, is an important caveat, water acts completely differently to other liquids in the changes to solids or gaseous states, the more solid it gets by getting colder the less dense it becomes, as ice, it expands. Wet air is less dense than dry air. Water vapour as it rises into the atmosphere to eventually form clouds becomes less dense and expands as it cools, eventually displacing the oxygen and nitrogen and on reaching 100% humidity as it gets cold enough, is then ready to condense into drops of water or into ice crystals and, allowing for dust etc., will form clouds.

    You are saying there is more water vapour near the ground and less as you go up, that there is less saturation the colder and higher, but because of the peculiar property of water, it does the opposite. In this cycle of evaporation and condensation because of this property of water to become less dense as water vapour and the colder it is, even at ‘room’ temperatures becoming water vapour, as it rises higher into colder regions it continues to get less dense displacing air.

    To form clouds humidification may eventually bring the air in a given area to saturation. (i.e.) relative humidity reaches 100 percent. Usually a little more humidification is required taking the relative humidity to over 100%, this is known as the state of supersaturation needed to form cloud.
    http://wiki.answers.com/Q/How_does_water_vapour_turn_back_into_water

    (3) There is no appreciable change in the fractions of O2 vs N2 as you go up in the atmosphere.

    I don’t now recall at what point Nitrogen begins to move away from Oxygen, some 3% lighter, but as they are near enough the same weight we can take it for the purposes of this discussion that when other gases displace this mixture by being lighter like Methane or Water Vapour or heavier like Carbon Dioxide, we’re talking about these as the Air/Atmosphere, not to get any more distracted from the points I’m trying to make.

    And, not to get any further in weather, (Ric Werme) there are other factors at play also in getting water vapour into the cooler heights, heat, wind and so on, I only brought it in as an example of gases lighter than air, and, because it is relevant to the points I’m making.

    What is important here about Water Vapour with relationship to CO2 staying up in the atmosphere for hundreds and thousands of years, as per the AGWScience claim, is that Carbon Dioxide dissolves in cool water. Therefore, to spell it out, Carbon Dioxide comes down with rain. Every time it rains. That’s why rain is always slightly acidic.

  233. p.s. ..gases which are warm become less dense and rise,

    So is Carbon Dioxide staying up in the atmosphere for hundreds and thousands of years because it’s always, everywhere “well-mixed in the atmosphere”, warm enough to cause it to rise and stay up there? Is this the explanation for CO2 “accumulating in the atmosphere”?

  234. Myrrh;
    Your POV is good, but there are slips. Water does not evaporate because it is light; it evaporates because individual molecules are accelerated (heated) by Brownian motion enough to break free of surface tension.

    And of course the CO2 does not rise differentially because it is heated; it is necessarily at exactly the same temp as the air that surrounds it. Heating expands all and lifts all together.

    Mixing occurs when mechanical work is done, by a wind or convection (which causes a form of wind), etc. In a still room gases are fluids, and separate.

  235. Myrrh says:

    So, you are agreeing with my original protagonist in my thought experiment as I gave above, that CO2 having pooled on the floor in a room will diffuse into the atmosphere, the air in the room, to become completely well-mixed, without any work being done on it?

    Yes…basically. However, diffusion is a slow process so if you are really successful in preventing any convective or advective effects, it might take a while to mix. The reason why the mixed state is favored is because a system does not really try to minimize its energy, but rather something called its free energy…There is a contribution from what is called “entropy” and that term favors mixing (at any non-zero absolute temperature). See, for example, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helmholtz_free_energy

    You are agreeing that CO2, regardless that it is 1.5 times heavier than air, stays up in the air for hundreds and thousands of years, accumulating? – All of you?

    Yes.

    Proof? Note, it is for you to show proof, this is against the known property of CO2 which says because it is heavier than air it displaces air, therefore, will always tend to sink. AIRS data says you’re wrong. AIRS says quite categorically that Carbon Dioxide is not, contrary to their expectation (from this AGWScience assumption I take it), at all well mixed in the atmosphere. What do you have that disproves AIRS?

    There AIRS data shows that the CO2 is quite well-mixed, as do the land measurements of CO2 at various sites around the world (Mauna Lao, Antarctica, …) There are some small variations on the order of several ppm due to the distribution of sources and sinks but these variations are of little relevance.

    Gases lighter than air will rise and those heavier than air will sink, displacing air. If you put some water in an open glass at room temperature it will evaporate, might take a few days, but because water vapour is lighter than air that’s what it does.

    Ethyl alcohol is heavier than air. If you put it out at room temperature, do you predict that it will not evaporate?

    Brian H says:

    Mixing occurs when mechanical work is done, by a wind or convection (which causes a form of wind), etc. In a still room gases are fluids, and separate.

    I don’t think this last sentence is true. Assuming I did the calculation right, in a still room at room temperature, CO2 still would not separate because the entropy of mixing contribution to the free energy is much larger than the gravitational energy term favoring separation. (Perhaps the more accurate statement would be that the gradient in CO2 concentration with height in equilibrium is so small that the difference in concentration between the ceiling and the floor will be negligible.) What is true is that if a lot of CO2 is released at a low altitude and the room is really still enough to prevent much advection or convection, then the process of diffusion may be slow enough that it takes a long time for the CO2 to mix well with the rest of the gases.

  236. Thank you Brian (aka… sorry, brainstorm)

    Water does not evaporate because it is light; it evaporates because individual molecules are accelerated (heated) by Brownian motion enough to break free of surface tension.

    OK, is this because of the same nanometre/millimetre distinction made in the link I gave above? (In the example of cologne in air, coloured liquid added to fluid.)

    How would that be if the liquid was heavier than air? In other words, does it only have this effect at the surface because water vapour is lighter than air?

    I’ve noticed before that alchohol is given as an example of heavier than air by AGW, and so given as proof for Brownian motion in alchohol evaporation, but, I found that they were using number in its liquid form, which like water is heavier than air, when I found that ethanol as gas is lighter than air number. But I didn’t explore it more than this. (And so not really sure of all the forms and names).

    And of course the CO2 does not rise differentially because it is heated; it is necessarily at the exactly the same temp as the air that surrounds it. Heating expands all and lifts all together.

    So what does this mean if CO2 is well-mixed in the atmosphere and accumulating for hundreds and thousands of years? That heat is well-mixed in the atmosphere or that CO2 creates its own heat environment regardless of the temperature of the atmosphere it is in? (I only offered this as a suggestion as an alternative for AGW explanation as the Brownian diffusion is limited.., from the mention of heated gases rising, just trying to be helpful).

    Mixing occurs when mechanical work is done, by a wind or convection (which causes a form of wind), etc. In a still room gases are fluids, and separate.

    So how did it get to this state that a PhD in physics who teaches and examines on ideal gas laws insists that without any work being done the CO2 will diffuse into the air of the room? Again trying to be helpful, I wondered if something else was in play. Perhaps the CO2 grabbed a couple of the nitrogen or oxgen molecules around it as if balloons and so lifted itself into the atmosphere to become well-mixed, sticking onto them with a bit of blue tack perhaps. When I said that well-known real science said CO2 displaced air, he, having reluctantly admitted that CO2 pooled, (and then deleted the post where he said it didn’t after I had given real world information) said that CO2 pooled because it was in the volume of air and so pulling all down with it. From then, once it had pooled on the floor in this heavier volume, the Brownian motion would take effect and CO2 would rapidly diffuse throughout the room. I can’t now recall which of us inspired the other..

    I have found it fascinating to explore these two claims. He also went into a long explanation of why CO2 was a toxic gas.. Pity this generation of school children with teachers like this.

  237. Water does not evaporate because it is light; it evaporates because individual molecules are accelerated (heated) by Brownian motion enough to break free of surface tension.

    OK, is this because of the same nanometre/millimetre distinction made in the link I gave above? (In the example of cologne in air, coloured liquid added to fluid.)

    No. Electrostatic forces attract molecules at the liquid surface towards others below them. If the molecule undergoes a collision and acquires enough energy to break free it will pass into the vapor. The probability of undergoing such a collision increases with the temperature.

    Here is a somewhat whimsical take on all this.

    Brownian motion is something a bit different. It describes the motion of a particle in a liquid composed of molecules that are much smaller than the particle, for example, a piece of pollen in water, or a dust mote in air. In the case of evaporation the size of the molecule being kicked into the vapor phase is the same as all the other molecules in the liquid.

  238. Myrrh;
    Whole bunch mash-mooshin’ goin’ on there.

    Lead and mercury can be boiled and evaporated. With very unpleasant results.

    Molecular weight has importance only when not overwhelmed by heat and circulation effects; it always has an influence, but it is usually not dominant in the atmosphere.

  239. ER;
    You are correct, of course. I was using Brownian Motion as a shorthand reference to the results of random variations in the impacts suffered by individual molecules, which was a shortening too far.

  240. I really don’t understand why so much emphasis is given to wind. After reading a post from Ric I had to get ready to go out. I glanced out of the window and noticed that none of the trees were moving in my garden or of my neighbours, or those edging the fields beyond. I looked further over more fields into the distance to the hills and I couldn’t see any moving – though those in greater distance might have been and I couldn’t see them clearly. Even the evergreen leylandii in my garden with those sensitive little bits at the top which catch any breeze, not any part of them moving. It was very still (and coldish). About 10 minutes later I got into my car and drove off, having first checked all around to see if there was an breeze, none. I drove to the village and all along the road looked at the trees, none moving. I got to the village, no movement in the trees around the village square, I bought a few things and drove back, still no movement of any trees, I checked again closely once I had parked back in my drive; all was still still. Half an hour or so of close observation, and I randomly checked through to the evening, nothing. The next day there was a very slight breeze, a tiny bit of movement in the evergreens, otherwise still, still.

    My last post on this, a mix on wind and weight, and apologies, it jumps about a little…

    The Atmosphere
    If helium floats in air, why don’t the other gases in the atmosphere separate by weight, too? Air is made of oxygen and nitrogen with a little carbon dioxide and other trace gases. This mix is maintained because nitrogen is only slightly less dense than oxygen. Air is about 21 percent oxygen and 78 percent nitrogen; therefore, pure oxygen will sink slowly in air until the gases eventually mix and spread out.

    The velocity distribution of gases is continuous. Because there is so much nitrogen, there will be plenty of its molecules moving too slow to bounce themselves above all the heavier oxygen molecules.

    Helium’s molecular weight, however, is too light for the sort of overlap seen between oxygen and nitrogen.

    http://www.ehow.com/about_5444386_helium-balloon-rise.html

    Carbon dioxide is one and half times heavier than air, it displaces air, so the overlap existing between nitrogen and oxygen non-existant too. It naturally sinks through air. That’s how it is always described, because of countless observations. It’s not always windy. It’s not always warm. CO2 is always heavy. Air is a gas, an ocean of air around and above us, with weight exerting about 15lb/inch on us, subject to gravity – the molecular weight of molecules is very relevant and must be taken into account re carbon dioxide. Our atmosphere is not a washing machine set on a permanent spin cycle, and we don’t live in a closed test tube.

    “Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a gas, heavier than air, so that it tends to accumulate in depressions not exposed to winds, especially where there are natural springs of this gas from the soil.” Aldo Bonincontro on helium.com

    CO2 does not rise readily into the atmosphere without wind.

    Below 500 meters, we are in the Atmospheric Boundary Layer. The winds in the atmosphere get obstructed by hill, building, and by the friction of moving over the ground, and hence slow down, and also become turbulent, in this region. This is where we see most of the gusts, tornadoes, rain, snow, etc. Above this, and below 11,000 meters, is the Troposphere. Most of the “weather” occurs in this region, though some thunderstorms rise as high as 18,000 meters. http://www.adl.gatech.edu/classes/dci/atmos/dci04.html

    CO2 does not rise readily in the atmosphere without wind to stir it up, most of what is produced is produced around ground level and from a very few sources higher up, such as Mauna Loa, the station at 11,150 ft is within that first 500 metres. Wind in this level is highly variable, like heat.

    Is there actually any such creature as “background” CO2? AIRS says not. What we really have is heavier than air CO2 wafted around pretty much locally when the wind is blowing and sinking when it isn’t, and, thinning out as it goes higher where it has a natural affinity with water in the earth’s real washing machine, cleaning the atmosphere of dust, when it comes down with the rain.

    There’s a comparison over same four days Luxembourg and Mauna Loa in post 21 on: http://www.skepticalscience.com/Measuring-CO2-levels-from-the-volcano-at-Mauna-Loa.html

    The Luxembourg, I think it’s set in a forest, shows a distinct pattern of wind speed to levels of CO2, and much as AGW goes to great effort to discount these as not “background”, these levels (note the different scales on the two graphs), actually do show the real CO2 acting in character. Whenever the wind is speedy the CO2 levels drop, with little or no wind CO2 levels rocket. When it’s not windy, molecular weight dominates.

    Why CO2 is heavier and why it’s got this natural affinity to merge with water, I don’t know, but because of it and the action of winds, CO2 gets to plants which are in greater density nearer the ground where its needed. And so the beginning of the Carbon Life Cycle, in which etc.

    Last bit.

    Re above in the description of molecules, that so close in weight and that nitrogen is moving too slow to bounce itself above the heavier oxygen which is always sinking slowly down.

    Although some from AGWScience use turbulence to claim CO2 is well mixed, (though as I understand it, there is a distinct pattern of winds which do not cross hemispheres and only mix a bit at the tropics), most repeat that molecules are moving at great speeds in empty space and so diffuse thoroughly in the atmosphere by ideal gas descriptions, which gives a totally unrealistic picture of our atmosphere. With the consequent loss of the atmosphere as being as an ocean of air above us, a tangible something.

    From:

    http://www.mediacollege.com/audio/01/sound-waves.html

    For a drawing of how sound waves move through air.

    Note that air molecules do not actually travel from the loudspeaker to the ear (that would be wind). Each individual molecule only moves a small distance as it vibrates, but it causes the adjacent molecules to vibrate in a rippling effect all the way to the ear.

    The molecules only move a small distance.

    It is in this environment that oxygen is always slowly sinking, and nitrogen moves slowly with not enough energy to bounce above it, because too close in weight. In this carbon dioxide, like oxygen, is always sinking, but sinking faster. Wind is air on the move, there just isn’t enough wind in the world to keep CO2 moving to mix thoroughly throughout the atmosphere. It might well pick up a load of CO2 at x and dump it somewhere else, but the ideas of “well-mixed” and “background” as homogenous whole are just so contrary to real life conditions.

    From: http://www.ehow.com/about_5127612_do-sound-waves-travel.html
    Time to Put the Toys Away
    For sound to travel, it needs a medium that contains molecules. It can be water, steel, concrete, anything that has molecules close enough to one another that they can vibrate and transmit the sound. In fact, the closer the molecules are bunched, the faster the sound travels. That’s why when you put your ear to a railroad track you can hear it coming long before you hear it’s a noise in the air. Steel molecules are packed much more tightly than air molecules. That is also why there is no sound in space. The molecules in space are so far apart that when one of them near a vibration starts dancing the noise jig, it has no other molecules to pass the vibrations to. In essence, there is no medium through which sound waves can travel.

    p.s. I can’t quite make out the wind speed on the Luxembourg graphs, is that miles per second?

  241. Myrrh;
    Your obsession is getting the best of you. The word “well” is indeed given far more weight and credence than it deserves in Climatology. But CO2 is well-enough mixed to be present throughout the atmosphere, though far from strictly evenly spread. Did you know, e.g., that plants exhale CO2 in the dark, just like animals? In forests or cornfields, the CO2 drops in the day, and rises at night. Winds spread it around, and turbulence and stormcells etc. mix it vertically. Enough. Not perfectly.

    There are hollows in Africa near outgassing sites where small children occasionally suffocate; I can’t quite recall the term, starts with “m” and has a couple of “u’s” in it. ;)
    So CO2 does sometimes, in adequate concentration, behave like the heavy gas you describe. But clearly the surface of the Earth is not layered with it.

    What’s your point, again?

  242. My obsession? Hmm. Compared with what? The reams and reams and reams on practically countless sites; on IR, on temperature, on, heck, just look at what’s covered on this site. I write a few posts in an appropriate discussion of my look into two claims made by AGW, which have been mainly ignored, and I am being obsessive?

    There are two aspects to my posts, that AGWScience is absurd and being taught in schools, and that because of this, those so taught have no concept of, no feel for, the real world around them. So I found for example that Brownian motion is cited to prove that CO2 is well-mixed in the atmosphere and ideal gas law to prove that the atmosphere is empty space with molecules bouncing off each other travelling at great speeds and not interacting with each other, and, staying up for hundreds and thousands of years regardless of weight and gravity and so on, accumulating.

    Why does AGW need to twist science to say this? Without ‘well-mixed and accumulating’ they would have no ‘blanket’ building up to their imagined ‘dangerous’ levels.. (*) And, because this conjours up a picture of the atmosphere utterly weird and through the looking glass by having to jettison the actual properties of CO2 and other molecules in our real life atmosphere, there’s a whole generation who don’t question it being called toxic because they have lost touch with the carbon life cycle. Forests become ‘sinks’ for carbon dioxide, as if something only of use to take it out of the atmosphere because it’s dangerous to life.

    You mention that plants also breathe out CO2, yes.., I know that well. But those taught ‘global warming’ are taught that its production in the atmosphere is from burning fossil fuels and destruction of these sinks in deforestation, they’re steered away from exploring more. Why is the latter a problem? If forests are cut down than that is saving them breathing it all back into the atmosphere.. The AGWScience becomes so convoluted with strange ideas that it’s a mine field to pick one’s way through.

    (*) John Houghton of the Hadley Centre http://iopscience.iop.org/0034-4885/68/6/RO2 from a link here: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/sci/physics/teach/module_home/px272

    ‘Global warming’ is a phrase that refers to the effect on the climate of human activities, in particular the burning of fossil fuels (coal, oil and gas) and large-scale deforestation, which cause emisssions to the atmosphere of large amounts of ‘grenhouse gases’, of which the most important is carbon dioxide. Such gases absorb infrared radiation emitted by the Earth’s surface and act as blankets over the surface keeping it warmer than it would otherwise be. Associated with this warming are changes of climate. The basic science of the ‘greenhouse effect’ that leads to the warming is well understood.

    Unfortunately, this “basic science” he refers to is AGWScience, with no relation to the real world or real science in it.

    When I say CO2 is heavier than air and displaces it, as is bog standard knowledge still with those who use this knowledge, real miners and brewers, I get ‘pooh pooh, then the atmosphere would layer and CO2 would be in a layer at the ground and we’d all die’; and am given examples of ‘dry ice brought into room temperature, as on a stage, see how it diffuses into the atmosphere’, (would any one here care to say what is actually happening?).

    This AGWScience is simply stupid, and AGW’s are taught to believe it isn’t. To the extent that adult ‘qualified’ AGW scientists on hearing that their science is questioned have gone into a mine to prove that methane having gathered in the ceiling will, because of AGWgas laws, diffuse back into the atmosphere of the mine. They’re so totally brainwashed with this junk science, they really think it’s real. I care about this.

    I’ve lost count of those who have been shocked to find that CO2 is food for plants and that without it we couldn’t breathe, that CO2 needs to be, is essential to be, at plant level. That the atmosphere is an entity where molecules do not move at these amazing speeds through empty space…, so the example of how sound travels. I think it’s worth my time and effort to post what I have found out about this deranged AGWScience’s corruption of real world science. Because the Carbon Cycle of Life is missing from their lives.

    Which means that Life itself is missing. The energy exchange from plants converting CO2 as food into sugars, etc. and producing all the oxygen in our air, and from plants spreading out to all life from this – bacteria and funghi, insects, us; and back again. AGW ignores this, living in a flat two dimensional world of energy exchange, without this life which would stretch the line into a triangle. I’ve seen a few posts getting the same reply as I’ve had when I mention higher CO2 are beneficial for plant growth, ‘But, it’s been shown that large levels can be toxic for some plants’. A reply for every point it seems, ignoring the larger concept of natural life being described, to be replaced with some off the shelf AGW convoluted response actually irrelevant to the principle, a straw man argument.

    So back to the layering.

    So CO2 does sometimes, in adequate concentration, behave like a heavy gas you describe. But clearly the surface of the Earth is not layered with it.

    So, like my original physics PhD, it’s quantity which makes it act like this.. How? Does it jump on all the nitrogen and oxygen molecules and pull these down with them? Or is it only in bulk that they become heavy enough to break through the nitrogen and oxygen mix?

    Each molecule is heavier than the air of nitrogen and oxygen it is in, it displaces air. that phrase is bog standard description in real science for heavier than air molecules. As in the description I linked above, oxygen is always slowly sinking, carbon dioxide is even heavier, it is always sinking because wherever it is it always tends to displace air and head for the ground. To sink to where plants can eat it, and so the cycle continues.

    It is very much noticeable in bulk in some situations, venting from the earth as in Cameroon lakes (Nyas and Monoun – Nyas in ’86 was particularly deadly, and the layer high; a man standing and still able to breathe above the layer didn’t notice at first that his wife on a bed on the ground near him had died, quickly and silently). It displaces oxygen and in large enough amounts this kills, brewers and miners understand this danger. If you ever think of brewing your own beer.. It is invisible.

    Winds spread it around, and turbulence and stormcells etc. mix it vertically. Enough. Not perfectly.

    No life in that description. ‘Perfectly’ is only to fit in with what AGW says about it.

    In real life, ‘perfectly’ is for it stay at ground and bio level and so continue to feed the cycle. Up in the air ‘well-mixed if not quite perfectly’ does nothing for life if plants can’t get enough for them not to struggle to survive.

    But, we do have it nearly perfectly for them, amounts could be higher and they would be more drought resistant and healthier. As it is, most CO2 is produced at the ground level of our atmosphere, and being heavier than air will be most concentrated at lower levels. That is the norm. Trees breathing it out add to that as it sinks to the ground. The carbon dioxide which winds carry further will come down when the wind stops blowing, lucky the plants waiting for it, and, because carbon dioxide has a special affinity with water, it readily joins to water in the atmosphere, dew, rain, again bringing it down to earth. Plants in transpiration taking in carbon dioxide exchange it for water, again adding water to their immediate atmosphere. Water sinks into the ground and also evaporates, water evaporates from 0 to 100 degrees C. It’s practically always evaporating around plants, where any carbon dioxide joined to it will be released, again to the plants most immediate to it, and warmth and breezes speed up that process, taking it up into the trees which, as general rule all plants, take in the carbon dioxide from the underside of their leaves, that’s were the stomata are. (Water lilies have stomata on the top of their leaves, for example of exceptions.) Plants did no evolve to take it in from above, in some strange ‘well-mixed atmosphere where it accumulates’, mostly out of reach..

    In that other discussion about Mauna Loa I gave a link to the earlier records of CO2. Because of this AGWScience ‘well-mixed throughout the atmosphere, accumulating’, regardles of carbon dioxide’s place and role in the Carbon Life Cycle, of which we are all an intrinsic part, these records are dismissed as ‘local’, and of no importance, pollution even. Because promoting this nonsense of ‘well-mixed/accumulating throughout the whole atmosphere’, AGW has to dismiss the relevance of these. But its well-mixed/accumulating/all atmosphere is what is nonsense here. Carbon dioxide by it very nature, its properties and place and interactions in our Carbon Cycle of Life, is bound to be found in greater quantities lower down in the bio levels.

    AGW ‘background’ is what CO2 has escaped this, temporarily, because by its very nature carbon dioxide will always gravitate downwards. What does escape higher than plants can use immediately, will come down with the rain. All the interactions are interlinked for life as we know it. That’s wonderful. AGW, whatever it is, is not Natural Science.

    Junk it, that’s all it fit for.

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