The Goldilocks principle: New hypothesis explains earth’s continued habitability

From the University of Southern California

Geologic cycles act as a climate control, releasing and absorbing atmospheric carbon dioxide in a balance that helps keep the planet not too hot and not too cold

Researchers from USC and Nanjing University in China have documented evidence suggesting that part of the reason that the Earth has become neither sweltering like Venus nor frigid like Mars lies with a built-in atmospheric carbon dioxide regulator – the geologic cycles that churn up the planet’s rocky surface.

Scientists have long known that “fresh” rock pushed to the surface via mountain formation effectively acts as a kind of sponge, soaking up the greenhouse gas CO2. Left unchecked, however, that process would simply deplete atmospheric CO2 levels to a point that would plunge the Earth into an eternal winter within a few million years during the formation of large mountain ranges like the Himalayas – which has clearly not happened.

And while volcanoes have long been pointed to as a source of carbon dioxide, alone they cannot balance out the excess uptake of carbon dioxide by large mountain ranges. Instead, it turns out that “fresh” rock exposed by uplift also emits carbon through a chemical weathering process, which replenishes the atmospheric carbon dioxide at a comparable rate.

“Our presence on Earth is dependent upon this carbon cycle. This is why life is able to survive,” said Mark Torres, lead author of a study disclosing the findings that appears in Nature on March 20. Torres, a doctoral fellow at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, and a fellow at the Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations (C-DEBI), collaborated with Joshua West, professor of Earth Sciences at USC Dornsife, and Gaojun Li of Nanjing University in China.

While human-made atmospheric carbon dioxide increases are currently driving significant changes in the Earth’s climate, the geologic system has kept things balanced for million of years.

“The Earth is a bit like a big, natural recycler,” West said. Torres and West studied rocks taken from the Andes mountain range in Peru and found that weathering processes affecting rocks released far more carbon than previously estimated, which motivated them to consider the global implications of CO2 release during mountain formation.

The researchers noted that rapid erosion in the Andes unearths abundant pyrite — the shiny mineral known as “fool’s gold” because of its deceptive appearance — and its chemical breakdown produces acids that release CO2 from other minerals. These observations motivated them to consider the global implications of CO2 release during mountain formation.

Like many other large mountain ranges, such as the great Himalayas, the Andes began to form during the Cenozoic period, which began about 60 million years ago and happened to coincide with a major perturbation in the cycling of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Using marine records of the long-term carbon cycle, Torres, West, and Li reconstructed the balance between CO2 release and uptake caused by the uplift of large mountain ranges and found that the release of CO2 release by rock weathering may have played a large, but thus far unrecognized, role in regulating the concentration of atmospheric carbon dioxide over the last roughly 60 million years.

###

This research was supported by USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences and C-DEBI Graduate Fellowships to M.T., NSF funding (NSF-EAR/GLD-1053504 and EAR/GLTG-1227192) to A.J.W., and National Natural Science Foundation of China funding (Grant Nos. 41173105, 91 41102103 and 41321062) to G.L.

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83 Responses to The Goldilocks principle: New hypothesis explains earth’s continued habitability

  1. devijvers says:

    The CO2 cycle:

    Ocean plant life syncs to the bottom, becomes part of the sediment and eventually becomes rock. This is how CO2 is sequestered in rock.The tectonic conveyor belt slowly takes the ocean floor to the subduction zones, melting the rock by means of magma.The CO2 now mixed in magma is ejected by volcanoes. Wheatering of the newly formed rocks releases CO2.

    This article is pure nonsense. More CO2 needs to be released by the wheatering than is used for the wheatering, otherwise we would have ran out long time ago. Where did these people get their degrees?

  2. Matthijs says:

    Another one that claims nature is in balance.
    It is not.
    It is a chaotic system that will flow from state to state depending on events that occur.
    No way of telling what the next state is.

  3. AleaJactaEst says:

    …”While human-made atmospheric carbon dioxide increases are currently driving significant changes in the Earth’s climate….” and what would those be then?

    The Earth has and will continue to go through several oxidising and reducing cycles (Devonian Permian e.g.) base solely on land mass accretion and subduction whose engine is the deep mantle plumes, the heat of which is derived from radioactive decay. The rest of our surface cycles are simply reactions, not balances, to the aforementioned cycles.

  4. Paul Pierett says:

    I think they are close but have the cart before the horse. They still blame man. Too, not too many look beyond man for command and control of CO2 levels and there is the fail point.

    Let’s begin with Milankovitch Cycles and Sunspot Cycles for the cause in geological cycles. From there gain and understanding of Topography shifts North and South of the Equator As the Earth emerges from and Ice Age and Returns again with mini-ice ages in the middle.

    The Glaciers, Polar Ice Caps store the excess CO2 and releases them in the Ocean exchange as the Earth warms up and Topography expands and is allowed to expand. For example, when Lord Monckton testified before Congress a couple of years ago, the woman tree ring scientist testified that the tree line in the Sierra was higher for tree stumps were at a much higher elevation than at the present tree line. Thus, less Glaciers and Polar Ice mass released more CO2 to the Oceans and more provided for Topography at higher elevations and Latitudes.

    As for the Pyrite, adjustments were made as much for the Volcanoes over time which we saw with Mt. Pinatubo.

    Most Sincerely

    Paul Pierett

  5. Dodgy Geezer says:

    I presume that there will shortly be calls to imprison or execute these researchers for creating stories which will damage our great-grandchildren….

  6. Adam Gallon says:

    And this is new?

  7. Mike Alger says:

    Once again there is an overriding paradigm assumption that it is CO2 that is the main driver of the climatic system throughout geologic history…an assumption that I think is flawed in its very core. Even the warmists admit that the direct contribution of another doubling of CO2 is probably at most 1degree C…it’s the feedbacks that cause the catastrophic warming they are so worried about. But the feedbacks aren’t caused directly by CO2, they are caused by the slight warming the CO2 allegedly causes. So why focus on what controls the CO2 throughout geologic history? Instead focus on what causes the warming and cooling, which probably has much more to do with CO2 concentrations than the other way around.

  8. Pete Olson says:

    I wonder what ‘wheatering’ is…

  9. Oldseadog says:

    So why did we not fry when CO2 was at levels 10 times those of today?

  10. Mike Alger says:

    Oldseadog says:
    March 20, 2014 at 1:53 am
    So why did we not fry when CO2 was at levels 10 times those of today?

    Exactly!!!

  11. Mindert Eiting says:

    As Karl Popper once said, I think in his Growth of Knowledge, good ideas result from other good ideas. For the time the AGW zombie is walking around, we should not expect too much from our scientists.

  12. Joel O'Bryan says:

    CO2 in aqueous solution (rain drops mostly) is removed from the atmosphere as carbonic acid weathering of newly exposed rock from tectonic uplift.
    The basic chemistry is described here:
    http://ion.chem.usu.edu/~sbialkow/Classes/3600/Overheads/Carbonate/CO2.html

    Over millions of years this CO2 removal is substantial if it weren’t for volcanoes and ocean rifts returning CO2 back into the system. All the CO2 would eventually be sequestered as carbonates in rock if it weren’t for plate tectonics. Earth is blessed with tectonic uplift because of an ocean’s worth of water is lubricates the lithosphere.
    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0012821X96001549

    Mars and Venus never had any evidence of Earth-like tectonic activity, probably due to too little water arrival from comets 4.4Gy ago. Earth got the most of it apparently. As we note here everyday, Earth is a water planet. Water is the key to everything about this planets environmental control system, including tectonics. Thus Mars and Venus both exist at the opposite extremes of climate. Mars may also have not had the abundantly radioactive core materials to produce enough mantle heat to keep its volcanoes going past the first billion years. Mar’s frozen state of its fossil magnetic field is testament to what happens when nascent tectonics and outer core heat flow stops (The dynamo dies).
    http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/msl/multimedia/hassler02.html

  13. H.R. says:

    From the article:
    “[...] While human-made atmospheric carbon dioxide increases are currently driving significant changes in the Earth’s climate… [...]”

    And the proof of that is the wrong average of the models, which are all wrong?

  14. jauntycyclist says:

    to get published these day you have to put in a boilerplate man made co2 statement. It would fail their peer review process if they didn’t. i seen a few articles where the co2 statement clearly looks added in and has little bearing on what the paper was about.

  15. cnxtim says:

    They will say anything to keep CO2 in the firing line.
    Where did these people get their degrees? Kellog’s of course!

  16. Joel O'Bryan says:

    Oldseadog says, “So why did we not fry when CO2 was at levels 10 times those of today?”

    The Earth did cook back then. It was much warmer then (50My ago), and probably much more biologically productive in terms of ancient bacterial, archea, and eukaryotic plant life reduction of CO2 and the resultant oxygenation of the biosphere and upper mantle. But correlation and causation are two very different ideas that (as noted here in WUWT everyday) are often erroneously interchanged.
    The emergence of feedback systems (geochemical, as well as liquid water and water vapor based) forced the systems to oscillate around dynamic equilibria, which too frequently got perturbed by periods of massive vulcanism (plume tectonics, i.e. Deccan traps, Siberian traps, and undoubtedly many more very ancient traps that have been erased by plate tectonics), only to go through new oscillations to new dynamical equilibria.

    The formation and breakup of supercontinents through 4+ Gy is the story of Earth’s tectonic movements. The breakup of Pangea began 200 My ago. The continents have been on the move ever sense, giving us “modern” mountain building in the Himalayas, Andes, Rockies, Alps, etc. that slowly redistributed the land masses and formed the ocean basins we see today, and allowed sequestration of vast amounts of CO2 as carbonate.

    The development of complex feedbacks and systems within systems apparently has allowed vast amounts of water to remain as liquid on the surface and further the evolution of biological systems which plays the dominant role in oxygen production (reduction of water by photosynthesis).

    We are on the Goldilocks planet in so many ways vastly bigger than just the carbon cycle.

  17. Espen says:

    Why do they talk about “balance”? Clearly, on a geological time scale, the atmospheric CO2 concentration is not in balance, but has been on the decline for several million years, to the point where it was detrimental to plant growth during the most recent glacial maximum. On a geological time scale, man’s burning of fossil fuels may be one of the best things happening to life on earth in the last few millions of years…

  18. Goldilocks really means we’re not freezing Mars or boiling Venus but with in that the earth has been a lot hotter and had a lot more CO2 and this piece doesn’t explain that away.

    Instead it has all the hallmarks of the Garden of Eden where everything was perfect and
    along came man and messed it up and must now repent. Which leaves the common man
    to do xyz to what ever some power wants them to do. Note the guilt trip depends upon
    a perfect state of affairs before man’s arrival. And this ‘Goldilocks’ sounds like that.

  19. Leo Geiger says:

    I wonder what the criteria is for deciding whether or not published research needs to be introduced here with the word “Claim:” added as a prefix in the title? This one avoids that particular characterization.

  20. Otter (ClimateOtter on Twitter) says:

    Adam Gallon says:
    March 20, 2014 at 1:37 am
    And this is new?

    No, No… this has been going on for billions of years.

    (sorry, couldn’t resist)

  21. Stephen Skinner says:

    “…the reason that the Earth has become neither sweltering like Venus nor frigid like Mars lies with a built-in atmospheric carbon dioxide regulator”

    And nothing to do with the distance from the sun or any other factors?
    With the three planets concerned there are large variations in characteristics: Here are a few:

    Distance from sun in million km
    Venus 110; Earth 150; Mars 230

    Average Temp (C):
    Venus 460; Earth 15; Mars -60

    Atmospheric % of CO2
    Venus 96.5: Earth 0.035: Mars 95.9%

    Pressure (bar)
    Venus 92; Earth 1: Mars 0.006

    Length of day (compared to Earth)
    Venus 243: Earth 1: Mars 1

    Are there really no other variables governing a planets temperature than CO2?

  22. a jones says:

    quite so, utter politically correct balderdash.

    As has long been known earth, the third rock from the sun, is the right distance to have a water based atmosphere. Venus is too close and too hot, Mars too far and too cold. We do not know why the other rocky planet did not form but instead orbits as the asteroid belt.

    But earth is a water planet whose climate is controlled by the balance of water and ice. And a very pleasant place it is too. Thank goodness.

    As for all this rubbish about CO2 and the rest do you imagine that humans for all their industry can perceptibly affect the vast forces that drive the globe’s weather systems? And especially when human cities and agriculture cover a mere fraction of of the land surface and none of the oceans.

    No. Only the truly deluded drunk on the idea that civilisation is everything and can control the world believe that. But in time they too will pass leaving nothing of their grandiose notions.

    Kindest Regards

  23. johnmarshall says:

    Part of the mountain building process includes the tectonic plates creation at the ocean ridges, without MORB (Mid Ocean Ridge Basalt) being created ocean crust could not subduct so no mountain building process. The very act of MORB creation produces high volumes of CO2 as a byproduct. In fact volcanism is the greatest natural CO2 producer. So mountain building will increase atmospheric CO2. The very opposite to their conclusion.
    Fail, redo this work.

  24. Berényi Péter says:

    the reason that the Earth has become neither sweltering like Venus nor frigid like Mars lies with a built-in atmospheric carbon dioxide regulator

    I am not so sure any “regulator” is involved, CO₂ fluctuations may be entirely chaotic over geological epochs. The reason atmospheric CO₂ concentration never dropped below the level needed to support plant life is because we know the conditional probability of this event for sure (zero), provided we are here to know anything. That’s the anthropic principle. If plats would have died out due to lack of CO₂, no higher life form could have possibly survived for long, including us. The phenomenon leading to this bleak outcome is called famine.

    For all we know, unconditional probability of catastrophic CO₂ depletion at one point or another in the history of Earth like planets may be arbitrarily high, just a tiny bit below one.

  25. Jimbo says:

    While human-made atmospheric carbon dioxide increases are currently driving significant changes in the Earth’s climate, the geologic system has kept things balanced for million of years.

    Objection your honour! What “significant changes”? Where is the evidence that these changes are caused by co2? It’s always worse than I thought.

    Great storms of the Little Ice Age
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/08/21/pielke-jrs-follow-up-qa-from-the-senate-epw-committee/#comment-1396364

    Greenland ‘meltdown’ in the first half of the 20th century
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2012/11/21/apocalypse-maybe/#comment-1154293

    Holocene climate extremes (~11,000 years)
    http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/07/01/claim-recent-el-nino-behavior-is-largely-beyond-natural-variability/#comment-1351897

  26. Eliza says:

    Apologies for being pretentious but duh. Obvious otherwise we’d all be dead long time ago LOL

  27. urederra says:

    jauntycyclist says:
    March 20, 2014 at 2:42 am

    to get published these day you have to put in a boilerplate man made co2 statement. It would fail their peer review process if they didn’t. i seen a few articles where the co2 statement clearly looks added in and has little bearing on what the paper was about.

    Quoted for truth.

    The only thing I do not agree with is where you say “a few articles” Actually, there are a lot of articles with the boilerplate statement in. But that could be that you say “a few” but you mean “a lot” and do not get it because English is not my mother tongue.

  28. Russell Johnson says:

    The entire global warming/CO2 centric/Climate change movement was designed to blame the “problem” on humans. This study implies that the “rock/CO2″ cycle would achieve balance were it not for human activity spewing enough CO2 to prevent equilibrium. This study isn’t even entertaining.

  29. Katherine says:

    Yeah, so what’s the explanation for the cold temperatures during the Precambrian and the early Silurian periods when CO2 levels were several times higher than modern levels?
    http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/co2_temperature_historical.png

  30. ferd berple says:

    the reason that the Earth has become neither sweltering like Venus nor frigid like Mars lies with a built-in atmospheric carbon dioxide regulator
    ===============
    Then why does CO2 follow temperature in the geological records? How can CO2 be the regulator if it changes to exaggerate temperature changes? That would make it an anti-regulator. An exaggerator.

    For example, the planet warms naturally. This releases CO2 from the oceans. If the CO2 theory is correct, this extra CO2 will create more warming, releasing even more CO2, creating more warming, releasing more CO2, etc., etc.

    According to climate science, CO2 from the oceans behaves like a reverse Goldilocks. Finding the porridge too cold, she puts it in the fridge to cool it down; and finding the porridge to hot, she sets it on the stove to warm it up.

  31. DocMartyn says:

    The whole planet, from 30 meters below ground to the top of the atmosphere, is a product of the biosphere. The idea that lucky chemical processes are responsible for atmospheric CO2 levels, in light of the biotic through-put, is simply stupid.

  32. Rhoda Klapp says:

    The point is reversed. The planet is not ideal for us by chance, but rather we (we the biosphere, that is) evolved to suit the conditions on this planet. If conditions were different, some other biosphere would be blogging here and noting how those conditions were ideal. They would probably never have heard of Goldilocks.

  33. Jer0me says:

    Why do they have to be so obsessed with CO2? Why can’t they see that there are a dozen other potential negative feedbacks, water being the most likely. It beggars belief.

  34. Eliza says:

    Just a reminder Global Sea ice is 100% normal and trending that way for some time now (years)
    http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/global.daily.ice.area.withtrend.jpg

  35. cba says:

    perhaps the quote attributed to rutherford is the most descriptive. “Physics is science, all else is stamp collecting.”

    It’s been obvious for a long time that a great deal of co2 is locked up in rocks and that there is a conveyer belt of surface crust recycling going on. These folks are talking about new sinks and sources, very likely larger than man’s sourcing of co2 (assumed to be about 4% of the total annual new co2 not including new sources). That would suggest that man’s contribution is even less than 4%.

    Considering that the co2 concentrations before the advent of the industrial revolution was around 270 ppm and commercial greenhouses show plants like having much larger concentrations, that would suggest we might have been on the cusp of another great biocatastrophe where the extinction of much of the plant life would have resulted in another great die off of animal life. Life on Earth saved by man.

    The previous unsubstantiated hypothesis is brought to you by a different perspective. Just as the ‘man is destroying the garden of edan’ perspective has tainted the scientific interpretation of the article research. I’m not sure that authors making such BS comments helps in ease of publication other than perhaps being secret code words to assure referees that they are part of the gang. However, they might be doing so because they perceive it makes them more important and that their mundane boring minor addition to the ‘knowledge’ of the world might be considered more important because of their proclamations of CAGW.

    What seems missing from the article is an understanding of a feedback control system capable of actually regulating something. It would seem we merely have biological and nonbiological mechanisms of absorbing co2 and that sometime along the course of geological time or less, that co2 is given back to the atmosphere. It would not appear to be regulated or controlled but merely a happenstance as to the concentration.

    On the other hand, the water vapor cycle appears to be a full bore setpoint control system that regulates our planet’s temperature, regardless of the concentration of minor constituents like co2 and methane or anything else.

  36. Tom in Florida says:

    Rhoda Klapp says:
    March 20, 2014 at 4:58 am
    “The point is reversed. The planet is not ideal for us by chance, but rather we (we the biosphere, that is) evolved to suit the conditions on this planet”
    ————————————————————————————————————————-
    Exactly.

    Perhaps it is the natural evolution of our type of planet for plant life to suck so much CO2 out of the atmosphere that it eventually dies. In such a case plant life, lacking conscious intelligence, unknowingly causes it’s own destruction. Perhaps the reason we do not see any other intelligent life (as of now) is that most planets self destruct before intelligent life can evolve and we just happened by mere chance to be able to come along at the right time and in the right place.

  37. Gary says:

    They need to prove their unstated premise that CO2 is the control knob for climate on Earth before their conclusion even is entertained. I suspect that chemistry is fine tuning on top of a system primarily dependent on physical parameters such as the Earth’s orbital characteristics, distance from the Sun, solar output, Earth’s magnetic field, the dominance of oceans vs. land in surface area, the properties of water (including phase changes and heat capacity), etc.

  38. tadchem says:

    A few basic points about ‘feedback”.
    The ‘state’ of any system is described by the values of the numerous variables which have a unique value for that state of the system. Change any value of any variable and you will change the state of the system. How the system responds to small changes in the variables will tell you whether you have ‘positive’ or ‘negative’ feedback,
    If the system tries to return to the state it was in before the variable was changed, you have negative feedback. If the system tries to move even further away from the original state, you have positive feedback. Systems with positive feedback for any variable will respond like nudging a ball from the top of a hill – once it starts rolling it will never get back to where it started on its own. This is why ‘natural’ systems rarely are found in states with positive feedback – and never stay there for very long.
    Negative feedback keeps the system from wandering very far from its original state when a variable is perturbed. Systems with negative feedback for any variable will respond like nudging a ball from the center of the bottom of a bowl.
    Earth’s climate system has been a ‘habitable’ state for many millions of years. It is correct to conclude that this is because the climate has no significant positive feedbacks for any of its variables, and probably a plethora of negative feedbacks – one for every variable.

  39. Reg. Blank says:

    It’s pretty clear what’s going on here.

    Back in the 60’s and 70’s UN scientists discovered that humanity was at threat from brain sucking aliens. Not literally brain sucking aliens, of course, but aliens feeding on human high intellect. If evidence is needed, consider Einstein, Turing, Sagan, etc. All dead. That can’t be “just a coincidence”. And the abandoned space program. What was that all about really?

    They came up with a plan to save humanity.

    Please, please, please stop “denying”. It is of utmost importance to the future of the human race to play along with the way of “thinking” currently known as “Climate Change Warmist”. I know most of you are not stupid enough to actually believe it, but you can at least pretend.

    The fact is that the alien brain suckers will look elsewhere if they think that a particular human has been soiled by stupidity. If the stupid is dense enough across the entire population, the UN scientists believe that the alien brain suckers will look to another planet and leave us alone entirely.

    The threshold of leaving us alone is expected to be at least 96% of the population, the current target being a 97% figure “to be sure”. The UN has made great inroads to meet this target, their own intergovernmental panel of scientists being fully protected, ironically under the “Climate Change” guise.

    What can you do to help? UN scientists have determined that pretending really hard to be stupid is (coincidentally) between 96 and 98% as effective as genuine stupidity at making the alien brain suckers look elsewhere. So please do your bit for humanity.

    (Disclosure: there is a minority report that suggests that pretending has no effect, and that the current “cream of the crop” warmists have already had their intellect consumed but the aliens have excreted “waste-product” back to the host to keep it alive for reproduction purposes).

    Anything else simply does not make sense.

  40. Bruce Cobb says:

    Yes. For millions of years, Gaia had control of the Earth’s thermostat via CO2. If too much “carbon” accumulated in the atmosphere, she simply started geological processes which absorbed it, and vice-versa. Then man started monkeying with the whole process, adding his own CO2, meaning he now has control over the thermostat, and has been turning it up. Right.
    Climatist nonsense appears to have infected all branches of science, making a mockery of them.

  41. Alberta Slim says:

    Pete Olson says:
    March 20, 2014 at 1:44 am
    “I wonder what ‘wheatering’ is………………….”

    Crop circles caused by CO2. ;^D

  42. MrLynn says:

    While human-made atmospheric carbon dioxide increases are currently driving significant changes in the Earth’s climate . . .

    There, in a nutshell, is the problem. Whoever wrote that press release clearly assumes this to be the case. It’s the conventional wisdom, the unquestioned aphorism, like “the sun rises in the east.” The author would be surprised if anyone challenged it, as we might on blogs like this: “Where’s the evidence?” The answer would be, like the Geico commercial, “Everybody knows that.”

    It’s not simply a matter of rote testimonial in order to get published. It’s a basic assumption underlying the whole argument: “carbon” (dioxide) controls the temperature of the Earth.

    If you point out that there is in fact no evidence that “human-made atmospheric carbon dioxide increases are currently driving significant changes in the Earth’s climate,” you would be met with incredulity, or the Argument from Authority. The more knowledgeable would just conclude that you were a kook, a “d*nier.”

    If we want to re-educate the people who write press releases like this, we have to do more than make esoteric arguments about the “failure of the climate models.” We have to turn the tables on CO2: It doesn’t control the Earth’s temperature, and never did. It’s the life-giving gas that drives the entire biosphere, even we oxygen-breathers. And more of it is better, not worse. Time for some bumper stickers:

    CO2 IS GOOD FOR PLANTS, GOOD FOR THE EARTH, AND GOOD FOR YOU!

    /Mr Lynn

  43. Admad says:

    So let me see if I’ve got this right. Man-made CO2 makes up the entirety of the CO2 increase in the atmosphere, except that volcanoes add even more than all of it, and natural biological processes add even more than even more of all of it… Have I missed the point here?

  44. JimS says:

    I am still waiting for a peer-reviewed, scientific paper to come out suggesting that when prehistoric man started burning wood which produced more CO2 into the atmosphere, that this caused the end of the last glaciation episode. If you think that is too stupid … think again.

  45. Tom says:

    They seem to have forgotten about carbonate sediments in the oceans. All those reefs, mollusk shells, etc. represent a fair bit of carbon.

  46. Jim G says:

    “Our presence on Earth is dependent upon this carbon cycle. This is why life is able to survive,” said Mark Torres, lead author of a study disclosing the findings that appears in Nature on March 20.

    Even were this accurate, it ignores the many, many other variables upon which our presence on Earth depends.

  47. Larry Geary says:

    Every few years science finds a new fetish object that is the answer to all mysteries and the solution to all problems, real and imagined. I remember when miniature black holes were the thing. Now it’s “carbon”.

  48. Bill Illis says:

    The Carbon Cycle from Vegetation alone is about 40 or 50 times larger than geologic processes.

    I hate the term “weathering”. It allows the warmers to suspend rational thought about what the real numbers are and focus on their fantasy viewpoint only. It has captured many of them in this fantasy. Larry Geary calls it a “fetish object” which is an apt description.

    Like the meme that increased CO2 can stay in the air for thousands of years and can only be drawn down slowly over time through “weathering”. That is just completely false. Plants and Oceans and soils will rebalance CO2 to an equilibrium level in just several decades, not thousands of years.

    It is also the same in the geologic past. The Himalayas had no impact on the Carbon Cycle because the other processes in the Cycle are many orders of magnitude bigger than geologic and weathering processes. Oceans (temperature), and Plants and Soils (biologic) control the Carbon/CO2 levels. Just like plants changed the atmosphere by putting 20% of Oxygen into it despite Oxygen having a huge affinity for all kinds of other elements first before it can become free Oxygen in the atmosphere (just getting to 20% required many time more than that because Iron soaked up so much of it over time forming rust etc. Iron was just one of many other molecules and elements that did this).

    Weathering equals suspending logic.

  49. rgbatduke says:

    (Disclosure: there is a minority report that suggests that pretending has no effect, and that the current “cream of the crop” warmists have already had their intellect consumed but the aliens have excreted “waste-product” back to the host to keep it alive for reproduction purposes).

    As the joke goes, this is a brain-sucker — starving…:-)

    rgb

  50. NikFromNYC says:

    The intuitive way to understand how oceans eat carbon dioxide is to appreciate that though CO2 is at the bottom of a stairway metabolically, in a world of highly reactive O2 that drives animal life all that biological oxidation using plant created O2 actually renders carbon highly reactive in turn so that its two double bonds between C and O in CO2 make it quite receptive to forming a bonded partnership with lowly old water itself:

    H-O-H + O=C=O -> O=C(OH)2 -> CO3(-2)+ 2H(+)

    As this newly formed mild (“carbonic”) acid presents a carbonate anion (-2) into the calcium cation (+2) rich oceans and these two unhappily raw doubly charged ions happen to fit together very well into a simple crystal that is very stable and thus insoluble, it crashes out of solution to form dense rocks that sink.

  51. Eugene WR Gallun says:

    It seems to me that more or less CO2 has little effect on global temperature. So any claim that any earth system that regulates the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere is actually regulating the global temperature of the earth is inherently false.

    CO2 has little to do with global temperature therefore systems that regulate CO2 cannot regulate global temperature.

    This paper may or may not have value concerning the regulation of CO2 in the atmosphere by uprising mountains but when it makes the claim that uprising mountains are regulating the temperature of the earth — IT JUMPS THE SHARK!

    Your humble poet
    Eugene WR Gallun

  52. Doug says:

    CO2…is there anything it *can’t* do?

  53. Robert W Turner says:

    “And while volcanoes have long been pointed to as a source of carbon dioxide, alone they cannot balance out the excess uptake of carbon dioxide by large mountain ranges.”

    And what estimate did they use to make this statement? Estimates of CO2 emissions from volcanoes have increased something like 600% over the past several decades and I’d wager they are still too low.

  54. Tom J says:

    Didn’t those people ever learn to swim? Didn’t they, at least, ever dip a toe in to check the water? Landlubbers, eh? Last time I checked, this great and beneficent (and sometimes not so beneficent) planet is not covered by mountain ranges, or even land, but by water to the tune of 70% of its surface. Maybe the above research smacks of the researchers’ own anxieties about size. Much as I would prefer to comfort them and inform them that size doesn’t matter the fact of the matter stands that I cannot. Size does matter. The oceans rule.

    Now, I know the casual reader of this comment of mine will think; ‘that TomJ guy always has s-x on his mind.’ That may very well be true. But let’s be fair, there’s no denying that all these researchers always have CO2 on the mind.

  55. Coach Springer says:

    Now that “we’ve proved” that although there may not be a natural temperature regulator, there is a geological CO2 regulator to keep atmospheric CO2 balanced, can we now admit that anthropogenic CO2 causes geological volcanic and earthquake activity to be less? (/s)

  56. Walt The Physicist says:

    @Mindert Eiting says:
    March 20, 2014 at 2:01 am

    I agree with what you say. On the broader scale not only AGW “zombies” are the spoilers. In general it seems that crooks and shysters clogged the government supported sciences. This article is an example, just look at the affiliation of authors – Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations?! What does that mean? Cross of Biology and Astrophysics?! No, this is just how shysters make it “sexy” to attract NSF functionaries. No science, just a catchy names and slogans.

    http://darkenergybiosphere.org/

    Welcome to the Center for Dark Energy Biosphere Investigations (C-DEBI), a National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded Science and Technology Center on the deep subseafloor biosphere. Our mission is to explore life beneath the seafloor and make transformative discoveries that advance science, benefit society, and inspire people of all ages and origins. We are a multi-institutional distributed center establishing the intellectual, educational, technological, cyber-infrastructural and collaborative framework needed for transformative experimental and exploratory research on the subseafloor biosphere. Connect with us via our mailing list, on Facebook and on our discussion forum!

  57. urederra says:

    JimS says:
    March 20, 2014 at 6:30 am

    I am still waiting for a peer-reviewed, scientific paper to come out suggesting that when prehistoric man started burning wood which produced more CO2 into the atmosphere, that this caused the end of the last glaciation episode. If you think that is too stupid … think again.

    Willian Ruddiman has published several papers, peer reviewed and not peer reviewed suggesting that prehistoric men changed the climate when they started practicing agriculture.

    An example: http://scholar.google.com/citations?view_op=view_citation&hl=es&user=vRKtJacAAAAJ&cstart=60&citation_for_view=vRKtJacAAAAJ:BqipwSGYUEgC

    We test the early anthropogenic hypothesis that greenhouse-gas emissions produced by
    early agricultural activities in recent millennia kept the climate warmer than its natural level
    and offset an incipient glaciation. We use versions of the NCAR’s Community Climate
    System Model to investigate the natural climate that might exist today if CO2 and CH4
    concentrations had fallen to their average levels reached during previous interglaciations
    (while ignoring the effects of aerosol changes).

    Here is a sample of his papers.

    http://scholar.google.com/citations?hl=es&user=vRKtJacAAAAJ&view_op=list_works

  58. p.g.sharrow says:

    Isn’t it wonderful that these modern college educated people have “Discovered” this “New” knowledge that I learned 50 years ago in High school. And then they are attempting to coin the term “Goldilocks” principle for it. The “Goldilocks” principle that I learned about had to do with the Energy Zone of the Solar System that allows liquid water to exist on the surface of this planet and not the others. Liquid water that makes this a paradise for life on it’s surface. pg

  59. Don says:

    If a tree falls in the forest and a “greenwashed” scientist is not there to observe it, is it still Mankind’s fault?

  60. phlogiston says:

    jauntycyclist says:
    March 20, 2014 at 2:42 am
    to get published these day you have to put in a boilerplate man made co2 statement. It would fail their peer review process if they didn’t. i seen a few articles where the co2 statement clearly looks added in and has little bearing on what the paper was about.

    Agreed, this paper seems to be an example of that.

    CO2 is shown in a positive light here – at least that is progress.

  61. JimS says:

    @urederra

    Thanks. That paper comes close and reflects the mentality I was previously mentioning.

  62. Ulric Lyons says:

    I had wondered why the AIRS CO2 maps showed such strong CO2 plumes emanating from the Andes: http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/jpeg/PIA11194.jpg

  63. Steve from Rockwood says:

    This paper is not the Goldilocks principle but rather the Pollyanna syndrome. Earth processes can definitely take place to buffer effects potentially negative to humans and the Earth could also wipe us out in an instant. The real issue is the human footprint locally and not globally. Until people start thinking locally, nothing will happen other than increased taxation in the name of this global charade.

  64. milodonharlani says:

    Joel O’Bryan says:
    March 20, 2014 at 2:57 am

    CO2 was not ten times higher 50 Ma. More like 2.5 times (~1000 ppm) or less. It was warmer, but the higher CO2 levels were more effect than cause.

    IMO one reason for enhanced tectonic activity on earth is the collision which formed the moon, removing a big chunk of crust from the surface of our planet.

  65. milodonharlani says:

    urederra says:
    March 20, 2014 at 8:58 am

    Ruddiman’s argument is that human activity has prolonged the Holocene, not that our species was responsible for ending the last glacial phase & starting our present interglacial, ie the Holocene.

    IMO, he’s wrong. The Holocene was bound to last longer than the few thousand years his proposal envisions for its natural duration.

  66. milodonharlani says:

    Steve from Rockwood says:
    March 20, 2014 at 10:11 am

    You are IMO correct that Mother Gaia doesn’t care about humans nor has She made this planet a cozy & comfy place just for us (who have after all evolved adapted to its ambient conditions). However, for whatever reasons, earth is homeostatic & has maintained a remarkably stable environment at least since the last Snowball Earth episode. Roy Spencer attributes this fact to God, but IMO it’s just the way it is, & won’t last forever. The planet is now about halfway through its complex life phase, which might last another 500 million years or so. Unless humans, our daughter species or some other intelligent, engineering terrestrial life form finds a way to extend earth & the sun’s sell-by dates.

  67. JimS says:

    @milodonharlani
    I believe you are quite correct. Interglacials seem to last about 12,000 years on average.

  68. D.J. Hawkins says:

    @Walt The Physicist says:
    March 20, 2014 at 8:39 am

    Going by the blurb you supplied, it seems like they are invetigating the hollow earth “hypothesis”, but I see by the web site it looks to be more about extremophiles.

  69. Dan Charles Derby III says:

    Here’s what confuses me – human history and how it relates to the ‘Inter-glacial Temperate Periods’. Homo Sapiens Sapiens appeared a whopping 200,000 years ago and ‘archaic’ Homo Sapiens appeared 500,000 years ago – time frames most would agree is a blink of an eye in geological terms. Even more intriguing is our oldest archeological human cities (Iraqi Tells) date back a mere 8,000 years – which seems to coincide with our current IGTP. Additionally, I believe the fossil record is fairly light (i.e. not many samples) during our various ice ages. So why would anyone argue the Earth is constantly habitable? Why aren’t Milankovitch Cycles part of the AGW debate? They seem to point to an obvious conclusion – it’s likely to get really cold in the near future (geologically speaking)!

  70. mwhite says:

    And here’s me thinking that water vapor was the most abundant and most significant greenhouse gas.

  71. mwhite says:
    March 20, 2014 at 11:50 am

    And here’s me thinking that water vapor was the most abundant and most significant greenhouse gas.

    Oh sure, like some chemical substance that can interfere with infrared frequencies & also has the power to change the albedo of large percentages of the planet could have any effect at all.

  72. Tom in Florida says:

    Dan Charles Derby III says:
    March 20, 2014 at 11:33 am

    Here’s what confuses me – human history and how it relates to the ‘Inter-glacial Temperate Periods’. Homo Sapiens Sapiens appeared a whopping 200,000 years ago and ‘archaic’ Homo Sapiens appeared 500,000 years ago – time frames most would agree is a blink of an eye in geological terms. Even more intriguing is our oldest archeological human cities (Iraqi Tells) date back a mere 8,000 years – which seems to coincide with our current IGTP. Additionally, I believe the fossil record is fairly light (i.e. not many samples) during our various ice ages. So why would anyone argue the Earth is constantly habitable?
    ———————————————————————————————————————
    The tropics have always been habitable. The great ice sheets did not extend that far south.

  73. Gamecock says:

    Dan Charles Derby III says:
    March 20, 2014 at 11:33 am

    Even more intriguing is our oldest archeological human cities (Iraqi Tells) date back a mere 8,000 years – which seems to coincide with our current IGTP.

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

    Sea level was 200-300 feet lower when there was more extensive glaciation. People tend to congregate on shorelines. Much of pre-civilized Man’s remnants are under 200 feet of water.

    For all our technology, we really can’t do much exploring 200-300 feet down.

  74. george e. smith says:

    All sounds very mysterious; this Goldilocks principle. At CERN the most esoteric question they seem to want an answer to is: “Why is there more matter, in the universe, than anti-matter ?”

    For 60 cents US, I can give them the answer, and buy myself a MacDonald’s senior coffee.

    Very simple; only an idiot, would have named the surviving species “Anti-matter”, instead of “Matter.”

    But as for Goldilocks; utter nonsense. Life evolved here to exploit the conditions that exist here.

    If it couldn’t, it wouldn’t.

    And when you look at all of the diverse habitats that life on earth has invaded, some of them are quite bizarre, compared to my living room, so don’t kid yourself, that we live in a special place.

  75. bushbunny says:

    Actually study the separation of continents, and one will note, that during the last ice age, the America’s were not inhabited. Australia had only one known glacial area and that was in Tasmania still then connected to the Mainland of Australia and the mainland to PNG. Honestly I still reel at some outlandish explanations and I know that most humans don’t live in the Arctic other than Inuits, before western or European exploration. They had a metabolism like the cold weather Neanderthals that depended only on protein, fat and little carbohydrate. Other humans independent of race can not live well on a diet like this, we’d die. One archaeological cliche is ‘Human’s propose, but nature deposes’ and it does. I just hope we can adapt to another ice age if it is forming. That will not be a surprise, we have had an interglacial now for over 10,000 years that enabled humans to inhabit most of the planet, including the deserts and arctic circle. They were able to produce domesticated livestock and crops, that allowed them to store food that they couldn’t do when nomadic hunter and gatherers, a fishers..

  76. gymnosperm says:

    The biosphere is carbon limited.. Carbon is the money supply in the biological economy. The oceans are the federal reserve. Cool them, they tighten the money supply, warm them they expand it.
    Weathering is lunch money. There are several kinds of weathering. We believe silicate weathering is predominant, and it consumes CO2. Certain limestones can be subducted and they will recycle carbonate in magmatism. Others are too light to subduct and get buried in accretionary prisms where the carbon is taken out of circulation for a very long time.

    Cycles of volcanic activity and mountain building may correspond with warming not because mountains are weathered, but because enormous amounts of new mineral water and CO2 are added by volcanism. New printed money. The warming also loosens the federal reserve.

    There is no balance sheet. The vast majority of the time the planet has been warm. The question is how may glacial periods we can afford.

  77. bushbunny says:

    All Humans can adapt, provided they have adequate shelter, and energy source, and enough food and water. Talking about food, I have a very nice Tasmanian salmon piece waiting to be cooked. Nite folks and keep fighting the idiots.

  78. Dan Charles Derby III says:

    “Sea level was 200-300 feet lower when there was more extensive glaciation. People tend to congregate on shorelines. Much of pre-civilized Man’s remnants are under 200 feet of water.

    For all our technology, we really can’t do much exploring 200-300 feet down.”

    I’ve worked as a nautical archeologist. You’re wrong. Search for Robert Ballard’s work at Sinop, Turkey. While this work does support your premise that people settled near shorelines by demonstrating the likelihood of buildings 300′ below the Black Sea. I recommend you look up this work on the Nat Geo website. Three problems with your statement. 1) the theory is the Med was 300′ higher that the Black Sea about 8K years ago when the Med broke through the Bosphorus Straights. 2) Extensive Sonar, visual and magnetometer survey have occurred at previous, ice age shorelines by the various navies of the world to make sure enemy subs can’t hide along our shores. No documented examples of human habitation exists other then Ballard’s discovery. 3.) people settle along rivers and have for millenniums. So while habitation might be heavier near oceans, great and ancient cities have existed well inland – Ur, Jerusalem, and Timbuktu come to mind.

    Finally, from Wikipedia: “Peter B. Bennett is credited with the invention of trimix breathing gas as a method to eliminate High Pressure Nervous Syndrome. In 1981, at Duke University Medical Center, Bennett conducted an experiment called Atlantis III, which involved taking divers to a depth of 2,250 feet (685.8 metres), and slowly decompressing them to the surface over a period of 31-plus days, setting an early world record for depth in the process.[8]“. Plus I personally know a Retired Navy Captain who has been to a depth of more than half that record – and not in a sub, though he did go deeper in Alvin. Again, while not extensive we have explored the 2-300′ depth and there is no evidence of human habitation.

  79. Stephen Skinner says:

    bushbunny says:
    March 20, 2014 at 7:28 pm
    “…They were able to produce domesticated livestock and crops, that allowed them to store food that they couldn’t do when nomadic hunter and gatherers, a fishers.”

    Isn’t it better to say: “…WE were able to produce domesticated livestock and crops, that allowed US to store food that WE couldn’t do when nomadic hunter and gatherers, and fishers.”

  80. gymnosperm says:

    “Dan Charles Derby III says:

    March 20, 2014 at 11:39 pm”

    What sort of evidence of hunter gathers would you expect to find? They did not build stone edifices. That came with agriculture. They inhabited caves and overhangs. They left small piles of shards as they chipped their points. Their middens, burials and art will not survive 50,000 years in the mill of the marine ecosystem.

  81. Dan Charles Derby III says:

    Got it. But we do have archeological evidence in caves going back about 50,000 years and more. But you miss my point entirely. We continue to talk about global climate change in terms of modern homo sapiens sapiens history – a history which is almost a blink of the geological eye. It does’t matter if we found evidence of human habitation 300′ feet below sea-level – because at most it would only go back 200,000-500,000 years. What intrigues me is: 1) how does a species evolve this quickly? 2) Why did cities only develop 8,000 BP? 3) Why did the advent of agriculture develop a mere 12,000 BP? 4) Do these developments relate to the Holocene? 5) Why is there no evidence of human growth or activity during the Eeman Inter-Glacial Temperate Period? 6) Why are we debating AGW when we have only been measuring global temperatures and humidities since the 18th century and accurately measuring for the last 30 years given the knowledge we have of the Milanovitch cycles?

  82. Another one that claims nature is in balance.
    It is not.
    It is a chaotic system that will flow from state to state depending on events that occur.
    No way of telling what the next state is.

    Unless there’s an attractor.

  83. bushbunny says:

    There is archaeological evidence that the flood (Deluge) mentioned in the bible was caused by a land bridge of the black sea collapsing. This would have flooded a fresh water lake that lay behind it, that has some evidence of human occupation in the area and they moved. Around 6,000 – 7000 years ago. But there is evidence in the English channel of mammoth bones. So at one time this land bridge was inundated between the continent and Great Britain. Whatever, this interglacial has benefited human kind as far as exploiting resources, food production and technology. Too late to go back to those Holocene days (sarc) of inter-tribal wars over territory, superstitious nonsense to explain nature’s quirks, (oh, well not exactly it still goes on) but whatever remedy they come up with it will not change the weather? Nor can they stop volcanoes.
    There is evidence that Mount Ararak exploded during the Bronze age and buried a village. Then there is Vesuvius, that also buried a bronze age settlement well before 79 AD. Toba 70,000 years ago was supposed to create a nuclear winter that killed all life near by. Thera 1300 -1600 BC, and the Chinese chronicles dated around the same period, that reports that there was frost in summer, and the sun didn’t shine for years, causing a famine. Anyway just adapt fellow earthlings, there may worse to come.

    Endnote. Tim Flannery owns a home on the Hawkesbury river. We were thinking of buying the same place decades ago, accept the only feasible access was by boat.(Great holiday home though) Otherwise you had to travel miles along a bush track to get on to the main roads to Sydney. I wonder if he still owns it with his scares about sea levels rising, etc. LOL.

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