Some people claim, that there's a human to blame …

Guest Post by Willis Eschenbach

There seem to be a host of people out there who want to discuss whether humanoids are responsible for the post ~1850 rise in the amount of CO2. People seem madly passionate about this question. So I figure I’ll deal with it by employing the method I used in the 1960s to fire off dynamite shots when I was in the road-building game … light the fuse, and run like hell …

First, the data, as far as it is known. What we have to play with are several lines of evidence, some of which are solid, and some not so solid. These break into three groups: data about the atmospheric levels, data about the emissions, and data about the isotopes.

The most solid of the atmospheric data, as we have been discussing, is the Mauna Loa CO2 data. This in turn is well supported by the ice core data. Here’s what they look like for the last thousand years:

Figure 1. Mauna Loa CO2 data (orange circles), and CO2 data from 8 separate ice cores. Fuji ice core data is analyzed by two methods (wet and dry). Siple ice core data is analyzed by two different groups (Friedli et al., and Neftel et al.). You can see why Michael Mann is madly desirous of establishing the temperature hockeystick … otherwise, he has to explain the Medieval Warm Period without recourse to CO2. Photo shows the outside of the WAIS ice core drilling shed.

So here’s the battle plan:

I’m going to lay out and discuss the data and the major issues as I understand them, and tell you what I think. Then y’all can pick it all apart. Let me preface this by saying that I do think that the recent increase in CO2 levels is due to human activities.

Issue 1. The shape of the historical record.

I will start with Figure 1. As you can see, there is excellent agreement between the eight different ice cores, including the different methods and different analysts for two of the cores. There is also excellent agreement between the ice cores and the Mauna Loa data. Perhaps the agreement is coincidence. Perhaps it is conspiracy. Perhaps it is simple error. Me, I think it represents a good estimate of the historical background CO2 record.

So if you are going to believe that this is not a result of human activities, it would help to answer the question of what else might have that effect. It is not necessary to provide an alternative hypothesis if you disbelieve that humans are the cause … but it would help your case. Me, I can’t think of any obvious other explanation for that precipitous recent rise.

Issue 2. Emissions versus Atmospheric Levels and Sequestration

There are a couple of datasets that give us amounts of CO2 emissions from human activities. The first is the CDIAC emissions dataset. This gives the annual emissions (as tonnes of carbon, not CO2) separately for fossil fuel gas, liquids, and solids. It also gives the amounts for cement production and gas flaring.

The second dataset is much less accurate. It is an estimate of the emissions from changes in land use and land cover, or “LU/LC” as it is known … what is a science if it doesn’t have acronyms? The most comprehensive dataset I’ve found for this is the Houghton dataset. Here are the emissions as shown by those two datasets:

Figure 2. Anthropogenic (human-caused) emissions from fossil fuel burning and cement manufacture (blue line), land use/land cover (LU/LC) changes (white line), and the total of the two (red line).

While this is informative, and looks somewhat like the change in atmospheric CO2, we need something to compare the two directly. The magic number to do this is the number of gigatonnes (billions of tonnes, 1 * 10^9) of carbon that it takes to change the atmospheric CO2 concentration by 1 ppmv. This turns out to be 2.13 gigatonnes  of carbon (C) per 1 ppmv.

Using that relationship, we can compare emissions and atmospheric CO2 directly. Figure 3 looks at the cumulative emissions since 1850, along with the atmospheric changes (converted from ppmv to gigatonnes C). When we do so, we see an interesting relationship. Not all of the emitted CO2 ends up in the atmosphere. Some is sequestered (absorbed) by the natural systems of the earth.

Figure 3. Total emissions (fossil, cement, & LU/LC), amount remaining in the atmosphere, and amount sequestered.

Here we see that not all of the carbon that is emitted (in the form of CO2) remains in the atmosphere. Some is absorbed by some combination of the ocean, the biosphere, and the land. How are we to understand this?

To do so, we need to consider a couple of often conflated measurements. One is the residence time of CO2. This is the amount of time that the average CO2 molecule stays in the atmosphere. It can be calculated in a couple of ways, and is likely about 6–8 years.

The other measure, often confused with the first, is the half-life, or alternately the e-folding time of CO2. Suppose we put a pulse of CO2 into an atmospheric system which is at some kind of equilibrium. The pulse will slowly decay, and after a certain time, the system will return to equilibrium. This is called “exponential decay”, since a certain percentage of the excess is removed each year. The strength of the exponential decay is usually measured as the amount of time it takes for the pulse to decay to half its original value (half-life) or to 1/e (0.37) of its original value (e-folding time). The length of this decay (half-life or e-folding time) is much more difficult to calculate than the residence time. The IPCC says it is somewhere between 90 and 200 years. I say it is much less, as does Jacobson.

Now, how can we determine if it is actually the case that we are looking at exponential decay of the added CO2? One way is to compare it to what a calculated exponential decay would look like. Here’s the result, using an e-folding time of 31 years:

Figure 4. Total cumulative emissions (fossil, cement, & LU/LC), cumulative amount remaining in the atmosphere, and cumulative amount sequestered. Calculated sequestered amount (yellow line) and calculated airborne amount (black) are shown as well.

As you can see, the assumption of exponential decay fits the observed data quite well, supporting the idea that the excess atmospheric carbon is indeed from human activities.

Issue 3. 12C and 13C carbon isotopes

Carbon has a couple of natural isotopes, 12C and 13C. 12C is lighter than 13C. Plants preferentially use the lighter isotope (12C). As a result, plant derived materials (including fossil fuels) have a lower amount of 13C with respect to 12C (a lower 13C/12C ratio).

It is claimed (I have not looked very deeply into this) that since about 1850 the amount of 12C in the atmosphere has been increasing. There are several lines of evidence for this: 13C/12C ratios in tree rings, 13C/12C ratios in the ocean, and 13C/12C ratios in sponges. Together, they suggest that the cause of the post 1850 CO2 rise is fossil fuel burning.

However, there are problems with this. For example, here is a Nature article called “Problems in interpreting tree-ring δ 13C records”. The abstract says (emphasis mine):

THE stable carbon isotopic (13C/12C) record of twentieth-century tree rings has been examined1-3 for evidence of the effects of the input of isotopically lighter fossil fuel CO2 (δ 13C~-25‰ relative to the primary PDB standard4), since the onset of major fossil fuel combustion during the mid-nineteenth century, on the 13C/12C ratio of atmospheric CO2(δ 13C~-7‰), which is assimilated by trees by photosynthesis. The decline in δ13C up to 1930 observed in several series of tree-ring measurements has exceeded that anticipated from the input of fossil fuel CO2 to the atmosphere, leading to suggestions of an additional input ‰) during the late nineteenth/early twentieth century. Stuiver has suggested that a lowering of atmospheric δ 13C of 0.7‰, from 1860 to 1930 over and above that due to fossil fuel CO2 can be attributed to a net biospheric CO2 (δ 13C~-25‰) release comparable, in fact, to the total fossil fuel CO2 flux from 1850 to 1970. If information about the role of the biosphere as a source of or a sink for CO2 in the recent past can be derived from tree-ring 13C/12C data it could prove useful in evaluating the response of the whole dynamic carbon cycle to increasing input of fossil fuel CO2 and thus in predicting potential climatic change through the greenhouse effect of resultant atmospheric CO2 concentrations. I report here the trend (Fig. 1a) in whole wood δ 13C from 1883 to 1968 for tree rings of an American elm, grown in a non-forest environment at sea level in Falmouth, Cape Cod, Massachusetts (41°34’N, 70°38’W) on the northeastern coast of the US. Examination of the δ 13C trends in the light of various potential influences demonstrates the difficulty of attributing fluctuations in 13C/12C ratios to a unique cause and suggests that comparison of pre-1850 ratios with temperature records could aid resolution of perturbatory parameters in the twentieth century.

This isotopic line of argument seems like the weakest one to me. The total flux of carbon through the atmosphere is about 211 gigtonnes plus the human contribution. This means that the human contribution to the atmospheric flux ranged from ~2.7% in 1978 to 4% in 2008. During that time, the average of the 11 NOAA measuring stations value for the 13C/12C ratio decreased by -0.7 per mil.

Now, the atmosphere has ~ -7 per mil 13C/12C. Given that, for the amount of CO2 added to the atmosphere to cause a 0.7 mil drop, the added CO2 would need to have had a 13C/12C of around -60 per mil.

But fossil fuels in the current mix have a 13C/12C ration of ~ -28 per mil, only about half of that requried to make such a change. So it is clear that the fossil fuel burning is not the sole cause of the change in the atmospheric 13C/12C ratio. Note that this is the same finding as in the Nature article.

In addition, from an examination of the year-by-year changes it is obvious that there are other large scale effects on the global 13C/12C ratio. From 1984 to 1986, it increased by 0.03 per mil. From ’86 to ’89, it decreased by -0.2. And from ’89 to ’92, it didn’t change at all. Why?

However, at least the sign of the change in atmospheric 13C/12C ratio (decreasing) is in agreement with with theory that at least part of it is from anthropogenic CO2 production from fossil fuel burning.

CONCLUSION

As I said, I think that the preponderance of evidence shows that humans are the main cause of the increase in atmospheric CO2. It is unlikely that the change in CO2 is from the overall temperature increase. During the ice age to interglacial transitions, on average a change of 7°C led to a doubling of CO2. We have seen about a tenth of that change (0.7°C) since 1850, so we’d expect a CO2 change from temperature alone of only about 20 ppmv.

Given all of the issues discussed above, I say humans are responsible for the change in atmospheric CO2 … but obviously, for lots of people, YMMV. Also, please be aware that I don’t think that the change in CO2 will make any meaningful difference to the temperature, for reasons that I explain here.

So having taken a look at the data, we have finally arrived at …

RULES FOR THE DISCUSSION OF ATTRIBUTION OF THE CO2 RISE

1. Numbers trump assertions. If you don’t provide numbers, you won’t get much traction.

2. Ad hominems are meaningless. Saying that some scientist is funded by big oil, or is a member of Greenpeace, or is a geologist rather than an atmospheric physicist, is meaningless. What is important is whether what they say is true or not. Focus on the claims and their veracity, not on the sources of the claims. Sources mean nothing.

3. Appeals to authority are equally meaningless. Who cares what the 12-member Board of the National Academy of Sciences says? Science isn’t run by a vote … thank goodness.

4. Make your cites specific. “The IPCC says …” is useless. “Chapter 7 of the IPCC AR4 says …” is useless. Cite us chapter and verse, specify page and paragraph. I don’t want to have to dig through an entire paper or an IPCC chapter to guess at which one line you are talking about.

5. QUOTE WHAT YOU DISAGREE WITH!!! I can’t stress this enough. Far too often, people attack something that another person hasn’t said. Quote their words, the exact words you think are mistaken, so we can all see if you have understood what they are saying.

6. NO PERSONAL ATTACKS!!! Repeat after me. No personal attacks. No “only a fool would believe …”. No “Are you crazy?”. No speculation about a person’s motives. No “deniers”, no “warmists”, no “econazis”, none of the above. Play nice.

OK, countdown to mayhem in 3, 2, 1 … I’m outta here.

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michel
June 7, 2010 12:47 am

Yes, entirely reasonable. It seems most likely that human activities, not confined to fossil fuel burning, are indeed raising the CO2 ppm in the atmosphere.
It is also clear that this will contribute a modest warming effect, that is just physics.
The debate is what, if anything, happens next. Does the effect get amplified by positive feedback, or reduced by negative feedbacks, or overwhelmed by other factors.

Larry Huldén
June 7, 2010 1:01 am

Dear Willis!
Out of topic but text for Figure 2 includes … land use/land cover (LU/LC) changes (green line), … It looks white to me (unless I am white/green colour blind).
Good luck with your work!

Darkinbad the Brightdayler
June 7, 2010 1:05 am

“So if you are going to believe that this is not a result of human activities”
I’m not comfortable with the use of the words “Believe” or “Disbelieve” in a scientific context. These words are more appropriate to discussions about religion and concepts which are not open to a process of proof.
To pull them into a scientific debate is to allow participants to think and respond in a less rigorous way than they ought.

Manfred
June 7, 2010 1:11 am

I don’t have an issue with CO2 concentrations, however regarding your first and “most solid” argument, I wonder if the ice core data has not been “calibrated” or “adjusted” deliberately to match the Mauna Loa record.

Alex
June 7, 2010 1:13 am

Very convincing!
Question: when drawing Fig. 4, which lifetime have you assumed for CO2?

HR
June 7, 2010 1:15 am

BANG!!!!!!!

Steveta_uk
June 7, 2010 1:16 am

The very flat CO2 records pre 1800 may be in part due to CO2 diffusion in ice, which potentially smooths variations that may be present during MWP, for example.
http://catalogue.nla.gov.au/Record/3773250
Not sure this changes any of your post-1800 arguments, tho.

Harry
June 7, 2010 1:16 am

RULES FOR THE DISCUSSION OF ATTRIBUTION OF THE CO2 RISE
Amen!

Baa Humbug
June 7, 2010 1:23 am

Was it something we said Willis?

John Finn
June 7, 2010 1:34 am

So if you are going to believe that this is not a result of human activities, it would help to answer the question of what else might have that effect….
…and to bear in mind that the effect is not a ‘bump’ i.e. it’s unlikely to be not a one-off event or ‘shift’.
PS I’m not a supporter of the ‘catastrophic’ AGW argument. I’ve argued on RC with Michael Mann about the validity of his HS reconstruction, for example.

richard telford
June 7, 2010 1:35 am

In addition to the evidence presented above, there are at least two further lines of evidence supporting the hypothesis that the CO2 increase is caused by humans:
– the decline in atmospheric O2 concentrations, measured by Ralph Keeling’s group. See https://bluemoon.ucsd.edu/images/ALLo.pdf Such declines are expected if the CO2 rise is due to combustion, but not if it were due to volcanism or ocean outgassing.
– the ocean surface is on average undersaturated in CO2 and there is net uptake CO2. Hence the rise in CO2 cannot be use to ocean outgassing, or submarine volcanoes. This uptake of CO2 will cause the ocean to become more acidic (==less alkaline). See for example https://bora.uib.no/handle/1956/2090?language=no

Mooloo
June 7, 2010 1:36 am

I’ve never used warmist as a term of abuse. What are we meant to call people who believe the “CO2 causes warming” theory?
My only objection to being called a denier is its lack of specificness. Especially since I don’t deny that the world is warming – although I do not believe some of he claims of the rate of warming. But as a term, per se, I don’t find denier offensive.

Stephen Wilde
June 7, 2010 1:39 am

I’m inclined to accept that there is prima facie evidence for human activity being the cause.
However I would prefer to exclude all other possibilities before accepting that as definitive. Bear in mind that it matters not if the climate effect is negligible as seems likely for various reasons.
Areas where I have doubts are as follows:
i) How accurate are the historical methods of measurement on short timescales of say less than 500 years ? The MWP and LIA are not shown by historical CO2 records but current methods do pick up even seasonal variability at Mauna Loa. Perhaps the historical records pre 1850 are just too coarse ?
ii) Mauna Loa shows rapid seasonally related movements in the amount of CO2 recorded so the suggested 800 year lag does not seem to apply on shorter timescales.
iii) How variable is oceanic uptake in global as opposed to local terms ? Could it be that the oceans can provoke substantial changes in the atmospheric content of CO2 over certain timescales with a natural 500/1000 year cycling amounting to as much as say 50 % of the current background level ? The period 1850 to date covers a period of recovery from the LIA and the current ongoing methods of CO2 measurement show a corresponding trend but the historical methods pre 1850 show no such corresponding CO2 and temperature trends either up or down.
iv) We saw a slowdown in the CO2 upward trend in the mid 20th century when there was slight atmospheric cooling yet no corresponding changes with ongoing temperature changes appear in the historical record.
The evidence suggests a significant disjunction between the accuracy of the pre 1850 historical CO2 proxies as against post 1850 instrumental methods similar to the famous disjunction (the hockey stick) from the mid 20th century between tree ring based historical temperature proxies and the late 20th century thermometer recordings. In both cases one gets a hockey stick pattern which should not be apparent in light of what we know about the MWP and LIA from multiple other sources.
I wonder if there is also significance in both temperatures and CO2 levels being involved in tree growth. Could a similar problem with proxy methods be upsetting all of the pre 1850 non thermometer temperature records, pre 1850 CO2 and pre 1950 (that is when they seem to have started to go awry) tree growth proxies ?
There are enough questions to give doubt to the significance of the prima facie evidence of anthropogenic causation.
Certainly modern measuring methods clearly reflect a CO2 link with recent temperature changes but the proxy methods seem to lose the temperature signal altogether apart from what may be a seperate longer term signal in the form of that 800 year lag in the much older samples.

Xi Chin
June 7, 2010 1:41 am

I agree with you.
But there is an argument that increased temperature can cause increased CO2 levels. I am not saying the temperature has increased and that is what has caused the CO2 concentration “hockey stick”. I am asking, what is the sensitivity of CO2 concentration to temperature… i.e. what kind of temperature increased would be required to produce that change in CO2? Presumably they would be massive temperature changes? Just wondering if anyone knows the figures.
Please let me stress the hypothetical nature of my point. I do not support it as a reason for the increase in CO2. I agree that the most likely reason (and the only sensible one I know of) is anthropogenic emmissions.

Editor
June 7, 2010 1:42 am

I would like to give some historic context to the CO2 debate in as much according to Willis’ graph the constancy of CO2 at 280ppm but the variability of temperatures over thousands of years appears to show that CO2 is a weak climate driver.
Graph 1 http://www.ourcivilisation.com/aginatur/cycles/fig3.htm
The above shows reconstructed temperatures to 1400. Many periods within the LIA were surprisingly warm as well as extremely cold -all of this apparently happening with a constant level of CO2.
Graph 2 Shows the temperature diagram used in the IPCC assessment 1990 (figure 7c page 202 assessment 1) This is at the top of page.
http://climateaudit.org/2008/05/09/where-did-ipcc-1990-figure-7c-come-from-httpwwwclimateauditorgp3072previewtrue/
Graph 3 The above was based on a number of graphs from Hubert Lamb (shown lower down the article linked above). The one below shows Winter severity in Europe, 1000 – 1900. Note two cold periods in the 15th and 17th centuries. Based on Lamb, 1969 / Schneider and Mass, 1975.1
Graph 4 Ice cores show constant levels of co2 on which Michael Mann based his hockey stick illustrating constant levels of temperature until the modern era. However when actual real world temperatures (CET) are graphed against total CO2 emissions we see that temperatures are not constant-in fact they are highly variable.
http://c3headlines.typepad.com/.a/6a010536b58035970c0120a7c87805970b-pi
Graph 5 If CET data to 1659 could be extended back in time from 1300AD to around 800AD (Lamb) it would cover the Medieval Warm Period with temperature levels somewhat higher than today, but again with its peaks and troughs. The Roman optimum warm period-around 300 BC to 400AD would also show temperatures at similar levels to the MWP but again with peaks and troughs. (Few extended climatic periods are unremittingly warm or cold).
Temperatures have trended up slowly since the low point of the LIA in the 1690’s. The following link contains a graph showing CET again.
http://cadenzapress.co.uk/download/beck_mencken_hadley.jpg
Looking at the climatic peaks and troughs illustrated in the graph stretching back from the modern era-and extending it with the various graphs through the LIA- it is a reasonable conclusion to draw that at a constant 280ppm that either CO2 is a weak climate driver, or that history has erased higher CO2 measurements that might explain those variations prior to the last half century, when our emissions are thought to be of such a significance that they are changing our climate.
This latter supposition was the approach I took in plotting a fraction of Beck’s records (shown as green dots) against CET records back to 1660 which appear on the graph linked above. Total cumulative man made CO2 emissions throughout this period are represented by the blue line along the bottom and come from CDIAC. In this respect it can be seen in context against all emissions plotted in graph 4 above.
The temperature spikes make much more sense with these additional CO2 measurement points, and bearing in mind the well documented temperatures back to Roman times and beyond-to levels greater than and less than today- it is reasonable to conclude that in as much CO2 is a contributor to the climate driver mechanism, it is as part of natural CO2 variability within the overall carbon cycle whereby nature makes a far greater contribution than man.
If there are no CO2 spikes (high and low) to match the temperature spikes (high and low) either;
a) The temperature spikes did not exist and Dr Mann is correct, or;
b) CO2 levels have had little or no effect on temperature in the past and it needs to be argued why they have suddenly become such a driving force today (despite temperatures today being unremarkable in a historic context).
Tonyb

RobinL
June 7, 2010 1:42 am

‘Rules for discussion’, what a piece of work. Should be chiselled on the wall of every academic establishment everywhere. IMO.

Steve Schapel
June 7, 2010 1:53 am

Thank you once again, Willis, for the incredible amount of time and thought that goes into your articles, and for your clear exposition of the topic.
I guess it is an important question. If the increase of atmospheric CO2 is attributable to human activity, then it follows that it is possible for changes in human activity to reduce the rate of increase.
But of course, that is only relevant to those who think that reducing the rate of increase is important or desirable.

MikeC
June 7, 2010 2:04 am

Okay Willis… you econo-freaka-nature you!

June 7, 2010 2:04 am

My brain always seems to find tangents to a topic that keep me entertained for hours. I am happy to accept that Willis has, as usual, done his homework properly and that he has made a properly reasoned and validated case for us humints being the cause of the rise of the quantity of CO2 in the atmosphere – but if CO2 is mostly plant food, is that not a GOOD THING that will help our food crops grow? And why does everyone bang on about fossil fuels? As I see it, the burning of non-fossil fuels such as dried cow dung, trees etc is also a problem due to soots etc given off, deforestation, etc.

Telboy
June 7, 2010 2:12 am

Mr.Eschenbach, are you crazy? No, you’re not; you’ve given me a lot to think about. Thank you.

charles nelson
June 7, 2010 2:12 am

looks like the ‘sequestration curve’ is chasing the emissions curve. Is the difference going into oceans or biomass?

George Tetley
June 7, 2010 2:13 am

BOOM !!!

geronimo
June 7, 2010 2:19 am

Is anyone seriously suggesting that the CO2 increase hasn’t, at least in part, been due to humans burning fossil fuels? Can we differentiate natural burning of fossil fuels from the data, and what contribution do they make to the overall CO2 source?

Phillip Bratby
June 7, 2010 2:21 am

You have Willis’ surname spelt incorrectly at the top.

Griz
June 7, 2010 2:21 am

Willis,
Thanks for another informative post.
I really don’t care what camp someone is from, as long as their numbers add up.

JoeH
June 7, 2010 2:30 am

Its probably me being stupid on a monday morning, but I couldn’t find a link to the actual data that the anthropogenic emissions are based on. Is there one?

Alexander Vissers
June 7, 2010 2:31 am

An interesting summary of atmospheric CO2 trend. Moreover the recognition of our relative ignorance on the fluctuations is putting us back on our feet. Maybe another good advice: don’t claim what you don’t know.

JoeH
June 7, 2010 2:32 am

Sorry, meant to say – a link to the data on which the “ESTIMATIONS” of anthropogenic emissions are based on.

Slioch
June 7, 2010 2:41 am

Willis
Another informative post.
How nice to see the mother (I’m speaking literally, of course) of all hockey sticks (Fig.1) displayed so prominently on WUWT!!!
However, with respect to your treatment of the rate of absorption of CO2 by the oceans, you say:
“Suppose we put a pulse of CO2 into an atmospheric system which is at some kind of equilibrium. The pulse will slowly decay, and after a certain time, the system will return to equilibrium.”
You suggest the rate of decay is exponential. However, for a truly exponential decay, the instantaneous rate of absorption must be proportional only to the concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere. This requires that the absorbing agent – the oceans – are unaffected by the process (ie. are essentially infinite) and hence do not affect the rate of absorption. But that is not the case.
The oceans are limited in their capacity to absorb CO2 for (at least) two reasons:
Firstly, the volume of ocean available to the atmosphere is relatively small compared to the total volume of the oceans. For CO2 to be absorbed into the bulk of the oceans, and removed from contact with the atmosphere, it needs to be absorbed in cold polar regions with downwelling currents. Elsewhere the CO2 tends to remain in the surface layers of the ocean.
Secondly, the reaction whereby CO2 is most readily absorbed is NOT by simple reaction with water, ie:
CO2 + H2O H2CO3 H+ + HCO3- 2H+ + CO3–
Rather, it is by reaction with carbonate ion (CO3–), which is itself largely derived from weathering of terrestrial rocks, and is present in limited quantities, thus:
CO2 + CO3– + H2O 2HCO3- [the HCO3- can also interact as above]
This limited amount of CO3– present in the oceans further ensures that the oceanic sink does not behave as if it is infinite, and therefore further removes the situation from that of exponential decay of atmospheric CO2.
So, what should we expect? In the early decades of a pulse of CO2 being added to the atmosphere, with a “fresh” ocean awaiting, the near exponential decay of CO2 is possible. But as the surface layers of the ocean become more saturated with CO2, its ability to absorb more CO2 declines, and the removal of CO2 from the atmosphere departs from the exponential, and becomes much slower. A number of published studies suggest that between about one fifth and one third of a pulse of CO2 would remain in the atmosphere for long periods, only being eventually removed over millennia as the slow weathering of rocks delivers more CO3– to the oceans.
[I may not be able to respond further – I have to go elsewhere]

Richard S Courtney
June 7, 2010 2:43 am

Willis:
Thankyou for this. Perhaps now some rational debate can occur on this subject.
You have made clear that you “think that the preponderance of evidence shows that humans are the main cause of the increase in atmospheric CO2”.
But it is important to understand that there is no evidence which could be said to prove the matter.
I do not know if the cause of the increase is in part or in whole either anthropogenic or natural, but I want to know. And I am frequently offended by assertions of people that they do know. Such assertions hinder both the obtaining and the evaluation of empirical data that pertains to the issue.
But it seems that there are people who want to believe in an anthropogenic cause of the rise, so they assert that the cause must be anthropogenic. Their argument was repeatedly stated in another thread on WUWT and – as demonstration – I quote one such assertion of that type from there.
“XXXX. says:
June 5, 2010 at 4:29 pm
Dr XXXX says:
June 5, 2010 at 4:15 pm
“I think that Mauna Loa CO2 measurements are valid. However, I haven’t seen any evidence that man is responsible for the increase. Given that the fossil fuel derived percentage of atmospheric CO2, is estimated at 1-4%, is seems doubtful that burning fossil fuels is the cause of the increase.”
Since the measured annual accumulation in the atmosphere is about half the amount released into the atmosphere by fossil fuel combustion it’s impossible for it to be otherwise!”
The flaw in such assertions is that they assume the only addition of CO2 to the carbon cycle is anthropogenic. But this is not the case. The rapid changes to atmospheric CO2 concentration during each year show that the system of the carbon cycle very rapidly adjusts to seasonal changes in atmospheric CO2 concentration that are an order of magnitude greater than the anthropogenic emission each year. The anthropogenic emission is to the air, but the rapid changes in seasonal atmospheric CO2 concentration do not suggest that the system is near to saturation that would prevent the system from sequestering the anthropogenic emission from the air.
CO2 is emitted to the atmosphere from various sources and is sequestered from the atmosphere by various sinks. Hence, there is a turnover of CO2 in the atmosphere. An imbalance between the amounts emitted and sequestered will result in a change to the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, but no subset of the emitted molecules accumulates in the atmosphere (all the molecules are subjected to the exchanges between the sources and sinks). In one of our 2005 papers
(ref. Rorsch A, Courtney RS & Thoenes D, ‘The Interaction of Climate Change and the Carbon Dioxide Cycle’ E&E v16no2 (2005) )
we used very conservative estimates that exaggerate any effect on the carbon cycle of the anthropogenic emission, and we reported:
“At present the yearly increase of the anthropogenic emissions is approximately 0.1 GtC/year. The natural fluctuation of the excess consumption (i.e. consumption processes 1 and 3 minus production processes 2 and 4) is at least 6 ppmv (which corresponds to 12 GtC) in 4 months. This is more than 100 times the yearly increase of human production, which strongly suggests that the dynamics of the natural processes here listed 1-5 can cope easily with the human production of CO2.”
The system is easily capable of sequestering all the emission (both ‘natural’ and anthropogenic).
Simply, the anthropogenic emission is observed to be so trivial a proportion of the total emission that it cannot overcome the ability of the sinks to sequester all the emission (including the anthropogenic proportion). At issue is why – according to the Mauna Loa data – the system does not sequester all the emission in each year since 1958, and our paper considered that issue.
As an aside, I address your point concerning the ice-core data because I think it is a distraction. There are two pertinent issues with the ice core results; viz. validation and interpretation.
Stomata data consistently show much higher (about 15%) and much more variable atmospheric CO2 concentration than ice core data.
(ref. e.g. Lenny L. R. Kouwenberg, Jennifer C. McElwain, Wolfram M. Kürschner, Friederike Wagner, David J. Beerling, Francis E. Mayle and Henk Visscher, ‘Stomatal frequency adjustment of four conifer species to historical changes in atmospheric CO2’ American Journal of Botany (2003) )/
A good – but one-sided – consideration of this subject in a form accessible to laymen is at
http://www.geocraft.com/WVFossils/stomata.html
Hence, the ice-core data are shown to be wanting when validated against stomata data.
As Kouwenberg, et.al. 2005 (Laboratory of Palaeobotany and Palynology, Utrecht University, Netherlands) reported in 2005;
“Stomatal data increasingly substantiate a much more dynamic Holocene CO2 evolution than suggested by ice core data.”
It should be noted that ice core data are inherently incapable of revealing high and low atmospheric concentrations of the gases. There are several reasons for this with the most notable being that gases diffuse from regions of high concentration in unsealed firn in the decades before the ice sealed, and high values of the gas concentrations measured in the ice cores are deleted from the data sets using the assumption that high values are ‘biogenic artefacts’. The diffusion also reduces the observed rates of change to gas concentrations indicated by the ice core data. Stomata data do not suffer from these problems and indicate that the recent rates of change to atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide have repeatedly occurred in recent millennia and during transition from the last ice age.
So, there is – at very least – adequate reason to assess the recent changes in atmospheric CO2 concentration as indicated at Mauna Loa, Barrow, etc. on the basis of the behaviour of the carbon cycle since 1958 (when measurements began at Mauna Loa).
Comparison of the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration with paleo data merely provides a debate as to
(a) the validity of the ice-core data (which provides the ‘hockey stick’ graph you reproduce above)
and
(b) the validity of the stomata data that shows the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration is similar to rises that have repeatedly happened previously.
Having said that, I copy below from the message that I posted on the other thread.
“Please note how trivial the anthropogenic emission is to the total CO2 flowing around the carbon cycle.
According to NASA estimates, the carbon in the air is less than 2% of the carbon flowing between parts of the carbon cycle. And the recent increase to the carbon in the atmosphere is less than a third of that less than 2%.
And NASA provides an estimate that the carbon in the ground as fossil fuels is 5,000 GtC and humans are transferring it to the carbon cycle at a rate of ~7 GtC per year.
In other words, the annual flow of carbon into the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels is less than 0.02% of the carbon flowing around the carbon cycle.
It is not obvious that so small an addition to the carbon cycle is certain to disrupt the system because no other activity in nature is so constant that it only varies by less than +/- 0.02% per year.
In one of our papers
(ref. Rorsch A, Courtney RS & Thoenes D, ‘The Interaction of Climate Change and the Carbon Dioxide Cycle’ E&E v16no2 (2005) )
we considered the most important processes in the carbon cycle to be:
SHORT-TERM PROCESSES
1. Consumption of CO2 by photosynthesis that takes place in green plants on land. CO2 from the air and water from the soil are coupled to form carbohydrates. Oxygen is liberated. This process takes place mostly in spring and summer. A rough distinction can be made:
1a. The formation of leaves that are short lived (less than a year).
1b. The formation of tree branches and trunks, that are long lived (decades).
2. Production of CO2 by the metabolism of animals, and by the decomposition of vegetable matter by micro-organisms including those in the intestines of animals, whereby oxygen is consumed and water and CO2 (and some carbon monoxide and methane that will eventually be oxidised to CO2) are liberated. Again distinctions can be made:
2a. The decomposition of leaves, that takes place in autumn and continues well into the next winter, spring and summer.
2b. The decomposition of branches, trunks, etc. that typically has a delay of some decades after their formation.
2c. The metabolism of animals that goes on throughout the year.
3. Consumption of CO2 by absorption in cold ocean waters. Part of this is consumed by marine vegetation through photosynthesis.
4. Production of CO2 by desorption from warm ocean waters. Part of this may be the result of decomposition of organic debris.
5. Circulation of ocean waters from warm to cold zones, and vice versa, thus promoting processes 3 and 4.
LONGER-TERM PROCESSES
6. Formation of peat from dead leaves and branches (eventually leading to lignite and coal).
7. Erosion of silicate rocks, whereby carbonates are formed and silica is liberated.
8. Precipitation of calcium carbonate in the ocean, that sinks to the bottom, together with formation of corals and shells.
NATURAL PROCESSES THAT ADD CO2 TO THE SYSTEM
9. Production of CO2 from volcanoes (by eruption and gas leakage).
10. Natural forest fires, coal seam fires and peat fires.
ANTHROPOGENIC PROCESSES THAT ADD CO2 TO THE SYSTEM
11. Production of CO2 by burning of vegetation (“biomass”).
12. Production of CO2 by burning of fossil fuels (and by lime kilns).
Several of these processes are rate dependant and several of them interact.
At higher air temperatures, the rates of processes 1, 2, 4 and 5 will increase and the rate of process 3 will decrease. Process 1 is strongly dependent on temperature, so its rate will vary strongly (maybe by a factor of 10) throughout the changing seasons.
The rates of processes 1, 3 and 4 are dependent on the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. The rates of processes 1 and 3 will increase with higher CO2 concentration, but the rate of process 4 will decrease.
The rate of process 1 has a complicated dependence on the atmospheric CO2 concentration. At higher concentrations at first there will be an increase that will probably be less than linear (with an “order” <1). But after some time, when more vegetation (more biomass) has been formed, the capacity for photosynthesis will have increased, resulting in a progressive increase of the consumption rate.
Processes 1 to 5 are obviously coupled by mass balances.
Our paper assessed the steady-state situation to be an oversimplification because there are two factors that will never be “steady”:
I. The removal of CO2 from the system, or its addition to the system.
II. External factors that are not constant and may influence the process rates, such as varying solar activity.
Modeling this system is difficult because so little is known concerning the rate equations. However, some things can be stated from the empirical data.
At present the yearly increase of the anthropogenic emissions is approximately 0.1 GtC/year. The natural fluctuation of the excess consumption (i.e. consumption processes 1 and 3 minus production processes 2 and 4) is at least 6 ppmv (which corresponds to 12 GtC) in 4 months. This is more than 100 times the yearly increase of human production, which strongly suggests that the dynamics of the natural processes here listed 1-5 can cope easily with the human production of CO2.
A serious disruption of the system may be expected when the rate of increase of the anthropogenic emissions becomes larger than the natural variations of CO2. But the above data indicates this is not possible.
The accumulation rate of CO2 in the atmosphere (1.5 ppmv/year which corresponds to 3 GtC/year) is equal to almost half the human emission (6.5 GtC/year). However, this does not mean that half the human emission accumulates in the atmosphere, as is often stated. There are several other and much larger CO2 flows in and out of the atmosphere. The total CO2 flow into the atmosphere is at least 156.5 GtC/year with 150 GtC/year of this being from natural origin and 6.5 GtC/year from human origin. So, on the average, 3/156.5 = 2% of all emissions accumulate.
The above qualitative considerations suggest the carbon cycle cannot be very sensitive to relatively small disturbances such as the present anthropogenic emissions of CO2. However, the system could be quite sensitive to temperature. So, our paper considered how the carbon cycle would be disturbed if – for some reason – the temperature of the atmosphere were to rise, as it almost certainly did between 1880 and 1940 (there was an estimated average rise of 0.5 °C in average surface temperature.
Please note that the figures I use above are very conservative estimates that tend to exaggerate any effect of the anthropogenic emission.
Our paper then used attribution studies to model the system response. Those attribution studies used three different basic models to emulate the causes of the rise of CO2 concentration in the atmosphere in the twentieth century. They each assumed
(a) a significant effect of the anthropogenic emission
and
(b) no discernible effect of the anthropogenic emission.
Thus we assessed six models.
These numerical exercises are a caution to estimates of future changes to the atmospheric CO2 concentration. The three basic models used in these exercises each emulate different physical processes and each agrees with the observed recent rise of atmospheric CO2 concentration. They each demonstrate that the observed recent rise of atmospheric CO2 concentration may be solely a consequence of the anthropogenic emission or may be solely a result of, for example, desorption from the oceans induced by the temperature rise that preceded it. Furthermore, extrapolation using these models gives very different predictions of future atmospheric CO2 concentration whatever the cause of the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration.
Each of the models in our paper matches the available empirical data without use of any ‘fiddle-factor’ such as the ‘5-year smoothing’ the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) uses to get its model to agree with the empirical data. Please note this:
the ‘budget’ model uses unjustifiable smoothing of the empirical data to get the model to fit the data, but each of our models fits the empirical data that is not adjusted in any way.
So, if one of the six models of our paper is adopted then there is a 5:1 probability that the choice is wrong. And other models are probably also possible. And the six models each give a different indication of future atmospheric CO2 concentration for the same future anthropogenic emission of carbon dioxide.
Data that fits all the possible causes is not evidence for the true cause.
Data that only fits the true cause would be evidence of the true cause.
But the above findings demonstrate that there is no data that only fits either an anthropogenic or a natural cause of the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration.
Hence, the only factual statements that can be made on the true cause of the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration are
(a) the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration may have an anthropogenic cause, or a natural cause, or some combination of anthropogenic and natural causes,
but
(b) there is no evidence that the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration has a mostly anthropogenic cause or a mostly natural cause.
Hence, using the available data it cannot be known what if any effect altering the anthropogenic emission of CO2 will have on the future atmospheric CO2 concentration. This finding agrees with the statement in Chapter 2 from Working Group 3 in the IPCC’s Third Assessment Report (2001) that says; “no systematic analysis has published on the relationship between mitigation and baseline scenarios”.”
Richard

Ben M
June 7, 2010 2:45 am

Are you sure the CDIAC dataset is accurate?
I thought a recent paper threw a bucket of cold water on it.
http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/328/5983/1241 (subscription req’d)
http://theresilientearth.com/?q=content/guessing-co2-emissions (summary)

June 7, 2010 2:52 am

Willis,
A good explanation of many things, especially the e-folding time. But I don’t agree with your calculation of the 31 year period. I think you have calculated as if each added ton of CO2 then decays exponentially back to the 1850 equilibrium level. But the sea has changed. It is no longer in equilibrium with 280 ppm CO2. Of course it has its own diffusion timescale, and lags behind the air in pCO2. You could think of the decay as being back to some level at each stage intermediate between 1850 and present.
If you apply that process to the emission curve, you’ll match the airborne fraction with a slower decay (longer time constant) where the decay has less far to go.

June 7, 2010 2:53 am

Just one thing puzzles me – ocean is the biggest storage of CO2. Solubility of CO2 follows the Henry’s law. There was MWP and LIA with cca 2 deg C difference. 2 deg C causes some 10% change in CO2 solubility.
http://www.rocketscientistsjournal.com/2006/10/_res/CO2-06.jpg
Why there is no sign of MWP/LIA in the ice core CO2 data? If we consider only a surface layer with certain thickness (not the whole ocean volume) and calculate the 10% degassing, it should have been visible in the ice core record.
Today, the rate of CO2 rise plays well with SST data.
http://climate4you.com/images/CO2%20MaunaLoa%20Last12months-previous12monthsGrowthRateSince1958.gif1998 El Nino is clearly visible, also La Nina and volcanic eruptions. But strange that 2007 La Nina is not visible. More, as oceans start to cool, the rate of rise stabilizes.

crosspatch
June 7, 2010 2:53 am

“As I said, I think that the preponderance of evidence shows that humans are the main cause of the increase in atmospheric CO2. ”
Ok, fine. Is there anything that would lead anyone to believe that the increase in CO2 is harmful in any way?

Slioch
June 7, 2010 2:57 am

Re my previous post: unfortunately the equilibrium signs between the various chemical species have not shown up, making understanding of them a little difficult. Also, carbonate ion is shown with only one minus sign – it should have two.
Oh well. Those familiar with chemistry will have to make their own adjustments. Sorry about that.

Slabadang
June 7, 2010 3:11 am

Willy!
I’m thinking about the rollercoaster graph of historical (temp/co2) that MR Al Gore/Gavin Smith presented.
If warmth has a restricted inpact of 20ppm since 1850? Things surely don’t add up in any aspect. And cause/effect co2/temp will still be written with question marks for a long time.
To me the work on climate science more describes how little we know, rather than how much.
There is a big potential that many science articles are right in some aspect. Spencer, Lindzen, Milkolzci, Scafetta, IPCC, Svensmark also. The big tragedy is that so much focus has been on the CO2 hype, which has certainly crippled the science.
Blaming CO2 without understanding the negative and positive feedabacks is is like eating dinner before you cooked it! CO2 is a gas for life. It’s very possible that we are increasing the chances for life on the planet by increasing CO2 turnover.
But no one is calculating the benefits.

Editor
June 7, 2010 3:12 am

I have added this thread- plus the previous one- to my own thread carried at air vent.
http://noconsensus.wordpress.com/2010/03/06/historic-variations-in-co2-measurements/#comment-29876
Collectively the articles/links/comments provide a huge reservoir of information on the subject. However the controversy remains as the science is not settled.
I think the comments from Richard S Courtney above warrant very close reading and I for one remain very suspicious of the ice core data after reading numerous articles on the subject.
It would be very useful to have a companion article on ice core data here at WUWT that uses the very latest research.
Tonyb

June 7, 2010 3:13 am

Good job, Willis. Takes guts to put stuff out there these days. For me, it is always curious what the facts are. Truth versus opinion: Can we distinguish the two?
While I am way out of my realm, commenting about origins of carbon dioxide, climate science or even responding to your article, I have been fully engaged in advising government and industry on environment, resource conservation, pollution prevention for over 30 years. Still scratch my head at the final priorities established and decisions made.
We have to be open to examine man’s role on the planet more holistically. Our world is much more complex than its response to any one chemical or molecule or organism present. Yet, our minds tend to fixate on the one thing that is the source and cause of all eco-problems, then seek its eradication. Governments and large institutions have become very skilled at chemical (flu organism) demonization, crisis creation and urgent-reactive solution, through the mass media. This is why I find resources such as WUWT so interesting and instructive. We are prompted to think first.
The average person, if there is such a person, is much more inquisitive and open to ideas, presentations, facts, data and its interpretation than institutions are willing to believe or want to accept. Computer simulations are illusive to them. You would have to have worked a government risk assessment, for example, to know how large an impact assumptions, rolled together, can have, especially on the decided course of action. Even then, we assume adopting no effect level standards for multiple materials equate to a clean soup.
Is the planet warming or cooling? It just makes no intuitive sense that lowly man could have such an effect on a trend that could be happening over hundreds if not thousands of years. One would have to assume earth is the solar system and universe.
Isn’t it the tornado that ripped through our yard last night that matters? Confining a massive oil leak after it happens to the smallest area? Planning and protecting for disruptive events is key to the survival of the human race. Ending fossil fuel use helps that how exactly? Oil will still leak naturally into oceans.
Like it our not, we are caretakers on this planet. Caretakers of each other and the environment we necessarily access. Our goal should always be the next generation. Otherwise, why procreate?
Before we obsess on fossil fuel combustion, we might want to examine the way we settle ourselves. If we did, we might reconsider our utilization of resources. This is not a federal government or world order level of intention, it is much more at the individual, family, or local community levels. Economic collapse is testing our response.
Personally, I have always had more faith in individual people than institutions. Those who come here, read your article today, think about the carbon dioxide and your suggested rules, might take a moment to reflect on context before they leap. Thank you.

Andrew W
June 7, 2010 3:19 am

Of course, those nasty warmists have been trying to explain for years just how solid the evidence is that it is indeed human activity that’s causing the CO2 rise, it’s laughable that many “skeptics” are only capable of accepting the reasoning when it’s explained to them by one of the good people at WUWT.

William Gray
June 7, 2010 3:19 am

Willis how do you manage it.
From Co2 science theres a graph showing the amplifacation of the seasonal Co2 cycle, with the claim that “about one fifth is due to human contributions.” And from WUWT an article stating soil fauna emit the same isotope as fossil fuels do, that being Co13,14. Please forgive me for not providing the links, sorry. Now a simple observation if I may. Plants love this isotope more so than Co2 (12), and coupled with warming has produced the current stat.

Richard S Courtney
June 7, 2010 3:23 am

richard telford:
At June 7, 2010 at 1:35 am you assert:
“In addition to the evidence presented above, there are at least two further lines of evidence supporting the hypothesis that the CO2 increase is caused by humans:
– the decline in atmospheric O2 concentrations, measured by Ralph Keeling’s group. See https://bluemoon.ucsd.edu/images/ALLo.pdf Such declines are expected if the CO2 rise is due to combustion, but not if it were due to volcanism or ocean outgassing.
– the ocean surface is on average undersaturated in CO2 and there is net uptake CO2. Hence the rise in CO2 cannot be use to ocean outgassing, or submarine volcanoes. This uptake of CO2 will cause the ocean to become more acidic (==less alkaline). See for example https://bora.uib.no/handle/1956/2090?language=no”
I address each of these “lines of evidence” in turn.
The cause of the O2 decline may or may not be related to the burning of fossil fuels. And the O2 decline is certainly NOT “evidence supporting the hypothesis that the CO2 increase is caused by humans”.
Both O2 and CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere are affected by biological activity (all the O2 is in the air because it is released by plants). Consumption of CO2 by photosynthesis takes place in green plants. CO2 from the air and water are coupled to form carbohydrates and O2 is liberated.
Hence, your first point merely introduces a debate about variation of the oxygen cycle and, therefore, adds confusion to discussion of the cause(s) of recent rise to atmospheric CO2 concentration.
Your point about “uptake of CO2” by the oceans cuts both ways. The great bulk of carbon flowing around the carbon cycle is in the oceans. An equilibrium state exists between the atmospheric CO2 concentration and the carbon concentration in the ocean surface layer. So, all other things being equal, if the atmospheric CO2 concentration increases then – as you say – the ocean surface layer will dissolve additional CO2 and alkalinity of the layer will reduce. However, the opposite is also true.
If the alkilinity of the ocean surface layer reduces then the equilibrium state will alter to increase the atmospheric CO2 concentration and to reduce the carbon in the ocean surface layer. The pH change required to achieve all of the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration (i.e. since 1958 when measurements began at Mauna Loa) is less than 0.1 which is much, much too small for it to be detectable. And changes of this magnitude can be expected to occur.
Surface waters sink to ocean bottom, travel around the globe for ~800 years then return to ocean surface. They can be expected to dissolve S and Cl from exposure to undersea volcanism during their travels. So, the return to the surface of these waters will convey the S and Cl ions to the surface layer centuries after their exposure to the volcanism, and this could easily reduce the surface layer pH by more than 0.1. Hence, variations in undersea volcanism centuries ago could be completely responsible for the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration.
Please note that the fact that these volcanic variations could be responsible for the recent rise does not mean they are responsible (which is the same logic as the fact that the anthropogenic emissions could be responsible does not mean that they are).
However, Tom Quirk observes that the geographical distribution of atmospheric carbon isotopes provides a better fit to the undersea volcanism hypothesis than to the anthropogenic hypothesis as a cause of the rise: see
http://climaterealists.com/attachments/database/A%20Clean%20Demonstration%20of%20Carbon%2013%20Isotope%20Depletion.pdf
There are many possible causes of the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration. They each warrant investigation, and there is not sufficient evidence to champion any one of them.
Richard

William Gray
June 7, 2010 3:27 am

Use the LOVE

John Trigge
June 7, 2010 3:27 am

Thanks, Willis, for the several hours of reading and cogitation ahead.
In your ‘Anthropogenic Emission, 1850 – 2005’ graph, why are there no spikes covering the 2 World Wars? I would have expected the scales to be fine enough to show at least a noticable upward ‘blip’ given the enormous activity in fossil fuel use (and, I expect, explosives would also contribute) during these periods.
Back to reading/cogitating.

Roger Carr
June 7, 2010 3:33 am

Baa Humbug says: (June 7, 2010 at 1:23 am)      Was it something we said Willis?
    Nice, Barr. Needed that twist of wit to break the clasp of the furrowed brow muscles right at about that point.

William Gray
June 7, 2010 3:35 am

If our influence wasn’t so controversial we could use it to advantage. Ego and greed tisk tisk tisk.

Peter Miller
June 7, 2010 3:42 am

I am always intrigued by any discussion which involves carbon dioxide levels in the oceans, as simple maths exposes the ‘problem’ to be completely insignificant.
Volume of oceans: 1.35 billion cubic kilometres.
Human production of carbon dioxide: ~27 billion tonnes per year.
Therefore: If all humanity’s production of carbon dioxide was absorbed by the oceans, their concentration of carbon dioxide would increase by one part in 50 million per year.
However, the oceans only absorb around half our carbon dioxide production, so the actual increase (before use by marine organisms) would be one part in 100 million per year.
The present average carbon doxide levels in the ocean are ~90 parts per million. To increase this by one part per million (or less than 1%) would therefore take around 100 years. In reality, most of this carbon dioxide would be absorbed in the upper levels of the oceans.
Also of interest is that carbon dioxide makes up 15.1% of all gases absorbed in the oceans, versus 0.03% of all gases in the atmosphere.
I would suggest the oceans’ ability to absorb additional carbon dioxide is enormous, even at much higher temperatures than those prevailing today.
Reference: http://www.google.pt/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=9&ved=0CFEQFjAI&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.seafriends.org.nz%2Foceano%2Fseawater.htm&ei=5MUMTO6gJ6aL4gbb3KGrAQ&usg=AFQjCNHn2eJEZBZLJAf3v3ERHylgws5kxw

Britannic no-see-um
June 7, 2010 3:49 am

How trivial or significant is the direct additional respiratory and food production CO2 emission produced by increases in human longevity and population density since medieval times?

gilbert
June 7, 2010 3:51 am

And again you tell me all this after I’ve had to figure it out for myself.
I’m curious what you think of the following analysis of CO2 attribution by Ferdinand Engelbeen:
http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/co2_measurements.html
I agree that it doesn’t make any substantial difference although I’m having a bit of difficulty resolving the some of the differences between your thermostat theory and Ferenc Miskolczi.

Oslo
June 7, 2010 3:53 am

Well, as you say – your first graph resembles the Mann hockey stick, and perhaps for good reason, as it seems to utilize the good old “trick” – splicing the instrumental record onto the proxy data.
Here is another graph, clearly showing the instrumental data (red) disjointed from the proxies:
http://www.geo.cornell.edu/eas/energy/_Media/ice_core_co2.png
So the question is, as with the hockey stick: do the figures from the two methods even belong on the same graph?

Richard S Courtney
June 7, 2010 3:58 am

I write to support a point made by tonyb at June 7, 2010 at 1:42 am .
Either the ice core data are right or they are wrong.
If the ice core data are right then climate variability is not discernibly affected by atmospheric CO2 concentration: i.e. the ice core data show no variation in atmospheric CO2 coincentration during the Roman Warm Period (RWP), the Dark Age Cool Period (DACP), the Medieval Warm Perod (MWP) and the Little Ice Age (LIA). These climate variations must have been caused by something other than atmospheric CO2 concentration, and there is no reason to suppose that recent variations in climate are not a result of the “something other”.
Altenatively, the ice core data are wrong so they should be ignored.
In either case, more research is needed before any definitive statements can be made concerning the causes of atmospheric CO2 concentration and climate variability on the basis of ice core data.
Richard

anna v
June 7, 2010 3:59 am

I will like to comment on fig 1.
1) ice core records, evidently, come from regions largely depleted of fauna. The CO2 there is what the winds carry. It is not surprising that they show such a stable value, ignoring little ice ages and medieval warming periods ( Henry’s law). This argues that the values measured are sort of homogenized at least over centuries.
The rise in recent data is notable, but in a diffusion model, not enough time and pressure of over covering ice has passed for the recent years where so smartly the trick is played with the Mauna Loa data.
2) Mauna Loa data is also depleted by construction, so making the hockey stick shape is not hard in the overlap region. The real question is, if one had better resolution in ice core data, , for example for the medieval warm period, would it show values of the order of 350 ppm even in this depleted region ? The whole anthropogenic CO2 argument rests on this assumption, that the rise in recent years is unprecedented. Beck’s data, and I now learn from Courtney’s post above, stomata data speak differently.
I have no doubt that the temperatures have been increasing since the little ice age, and therefore expect, by Henry’s law the CO2 to be increasing . It is possible that part of the increase is due to anthropogenic causes, but I am not convinced by the data presented.
Tons do not mean much , as global numbers. example: Pollution remains close to the source, and I do not see why CO2 would be different. Most pollution sources are close to cities. It rains more over cities, (http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/UrbanRain/urbanrain3.php ) because of the pollution, and rain washes down CO2 too, mixing it with the water that ends up in the seas. How can this process be quantified? i.e. how much of anthropogenic CO2 ends up in the “pure” background of the antarctic and arctic and Mauna Loa?
The whole field is rife with speculations and assumptions served as certainties.

Ken Hall
June 7, 2010 4:01 am

“Yes, entirely reasonable. It seems most likely that human activities, not confined to fossil fuel burning, are indeed raising the CO2 ppm in the atmosphere.
It is also clear that this will contribute a modest warming effect, that is just physics.
The debate is what, if anything, happens next. Does the effect get amplified by positive feedback, or reduced by negative feedbacks, or overwhelmed by other factors.”
Agreed, and this is where the models featured in IPCC reports and where “scientific consensus” appears to break down.
“Man produces CO2 and CO2 has a warming effect on the atmosphere.” That is about as far as the “scientific consensus” goes. How much warming, what feedbacks they trip, whether this is likely to be catastrophic, or whether it will be moderate and hidden by natural variability, or whether this anthropogenic CO2 will trigger negative feedbacks greater than positive ones… There are many scientists who disagree on all of these things.
Anyone who claims scientific consensus is selling something without a warranty.

Daniel H
June 7, 2010 4:02 am

As Richard Telford mentioned above, another line of evidence implicating fossil fuels as the source of atmospheric CO2 increase is the change in the atmospheric O2:N2 ratio. This is discussed in AR4 WG1, The Physical Science Basis, Chapter 2, Section 2.3.1 and illustrated here. My only problem with this record is that it’s impossible to verify since the raw data are “protected” behind a firewall at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography web site and therefore cannot be accessed by the general public. It would be great if someone at WUWT like Willis Eschenbach or Anthony Watts could convince Keeling to release his data since it was funded by mine and your tax dollars the NSF and NOAA and therefore ought to be in the public domain.
For more information, click the link “Lab Data”, located here:
https://bluemoon.ucsd.edu/data.html
Note: the Scripps/UCSD web site inexplicably uses an untrusted security certificate for their SSL connection which might trigger a browser security warning. However, this can be safely ignored.

Espen
June 7, 2010 4:06 am

Juraj V. says:
Why there is no sign of MWP/LIA in the ice core CO2 data?
I have the same question. Though there seems to be a faint sign: Have a look at the graph on the top of the article, at least the LIA seems to be visible. But the signal is weaker than what would be expected, which strengthens the hypothesis that ice core data are not suitable for measuring CO2 at this high resolution some hundred years ago, but rather represents a (multi-)centennial moving average. In this regard, Richard S Courtney’s links to stomata estimates above are highly interesting.

BBk
June 7, 2010 4:11 am

“So, what should we expect? In the early decades of a pulse of CO2 being added to the atmosphere, with a “fresh” ocean awaiting, the near exponential decay of CO2 is possible. But as the surface layers of the ocean become more saturated with CO2, its ability to absorb more CO2 declines, and the removal of CO2 from the atmosphere departs from the exponential, and becomes much slower. ”
This assertion ignores diffusion of CO2 from the surface to the lower levels of the ocean. If diffusion (removal of CO2 from the surface to the lower volume) happens at a faster or equal rate to the absorbtion of CO2 from the atmosphere then the ocean can be considered “fresh” until the entire volume “fills.” While, in theory, eventually the ocean would saturate, the rate would be very slow.
Have there been any studies about the rate of diffusion of CO2 through the ocean layers?
My gut feeling is that since we’re dealing with Volume vs Area, that diffusion would, indeed, be a much larger value.

Stephen Wilde
June 7, 2010 4:13 am

Would it not be the case that ANY system of measurement that failed to reflect the climate events of the MWP and LIA would also fail to reflect the modern warming and so would ALWAYS produce a ‘hockey stick’ shape when grafted onto modern more sensitive systems of measurement ?

Ken Hall
June 7, 2010 4:15 am

“Of course, those nasty warmists have been trying to explain for years just how solid the evidence is that it is indeed human activity that’s causing the CO2 rise, it’s laughable that many “skeptics” are only capable of accepting the reasoning when it’s explained to them by one of the good people at WUWT.”
Nonsense. I do not know of anyone within the climate realist community that doubts (or ever doubted) that atmospheric CO2 concentration has increased, nor that the increase is largely caused by man.
What realists believe is what is proven scientifically using the full scientific method, and that is that there is NO PROOF that current warming, (such as it is, and that depends very much an when you start and end the measurements and whether you have faith in the veracity and accuracy of those measurements and the analysis of those measurements) is entirely or mostly caused by those emissions or that the outcome of those emissions will be catastrophic.
The real actual earth upon which we all live and rely on for our life is NOT a greenhouse, nor is it a computer model. It behaves a little bit like both, but crucially, it behaves a lot like neither and we simply do not know how the climate works in enough detail to be able to predict with any level of certainty what will happen next.
The UN IPCC had become far too reliant on former scientists who abandoned parts of the scientific method to push a theory when the scientific method failed to provide proof.
To wit: altering or amending or omitting data to make it fit the theory, closing down peer review to an “incestuous” in-group, bullying publishers and using threats against “sceptical” scientists are all methods that not only fail the scientific method, but indeed contradict it and render the scientists involved in such dishonest practices as advocates, rather than scientists.

Stephan
June 7, 2010 4:20 am

arctic ice is either melting or dissipating like mad
http://ocean.dmi.dk/arctic/icecover.uk.php
or its a mistake once again lol

Joe Lalonde
June 7, 2010 4:23 am

Willis,
I enjoy these mind manipulation response games so, here goes.
One thing I am find is that trace elements attached to elements such as O2 or CO2 or even H20 16 0r H2O 18 have a bearing on the mass weight of these and also can change our preception of how they interact in a magnetic field setting.
Think hard my young scholar on what EXACTLY is gravity? What one element is most involved even on a small level.
No question that we are the major contibutors of CO2 but trying to tie this with temperatures is fool hardy. We have not included rotation of planet, elasticity of the atmosphere it pulls or the pressure buildup we have caused.
Science has made physical evidence into theories and theories are the all mighty as long as math (not science!) is involved.

Curiousgeorge
June 7, 2010 4:35 am

A philosophical question, Willis. Assume for the moment that we lacked the capability to measure CO2 ( or temperature other than what we feel on our skin ). Would we then perceive our current environment as beneficial or detrimental ?

D.A. Neill
June 7, 2010 4:35 am

The anthropogenic emissions line in your figure 2 tracks closely with the world fuel consumptions statistics cited by Klashtorin and Lyubushin (in L.B. Klyashtorin and A.A. Lyubushin, “On the coherence between the dynamics of the world fuel consumption and global temperature anomaly”, Energy & Environment, Vol. 14, No. 6 (2003), Figure 1). K&L take the argument to the next logical step, however, and add in the global temperature anomaly line, and then check the correlation between delta T and WFC. The coefficient of correlation runs at +0.92 from 1861-1875; -0.71 from 1875-1910; +0.28 from 1910-1940; -.088 from 1940-1975; +0.94 from 1975-2000. In other words, there is no linear correlation between global temperature anomalies and world fuel consumption. The lack of a linear correlation falsifies the AGW thesis, the heart of which is the IPCC’s contentions (a) that anthropogenic additions to atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations “have caused the largest forcing of the industrial [post-1950] period” (4th AR WG1, Chapter 2, 136), and (b) that the amplitude of the large-scale pattern of response will scale linearly with the forcing (4th AR WG1, Chapter 2, 670). If they pick their analytical end-points right, they can just barely make it work. Of course, if you pick your end-points right, you can make ANY argument work.
If your figure 1 is accurate (and I have no reason to doubt your numbers), then the flat line from 1000 to 1850 or so, in the context of the MWP, the LIA, and the modern warming, demonstrates that there is no correlation whatsoever between atmospheric CO2 concentrations and average global temperatures. Yet ice core data over the last four glaciations demonstrates that there is a relationship between delta T and delta CO2, with the latter lagging the former (J.R. Petit, et al., “Climate and atmospheric history of the past 420,000 years from the Vostok ice core, Antarctica”, Nature 399 (1999), 429-436.). If there is, in fact, an 800-1200 year lag between average global temperature increase and atmospheric CO2 increase (as the Vostok cores seem to demonstrate, with CO2 concentrations varying by as much as 100 ppm in response to a multi-degree swing in average temperature), then seeing as how we’re about 1200 years past the onset of the significant temperature change of the MWP, might not the current rise in CO2 concentrations that began 200 years ago be a lagging artefact of the MWP, with human CO2 emissions a contributing factor perhaps, but a largely inconsequential one?
Just wondering; after all, INACS.*
It’s hard to argue with your numbers, and I certainly have none better than yours to offer. But I can’t help but wonder if we’re missing something. Humans, our technological hubris notwithstanding, really are bit players on a planetary scale.
* Obligatory self-abnegation: “I’m Not A Climate Scientist”
P.S. I work in a scientific organization, and I’ve cut’n’pasted your rules for discussion to all my colleagues. Every scientist should have them tattooed over his heart.

899
June 7, 2010 4:36 am

Willis,
CONCLUSION
As I said, I think that the preponderance of evidence shows that humans are the main cause of the increase in atmospheric CO2.

But that doesn’t square with your prior comment:
In addition, from an examination of the year-by-year changes it is obvious that there are other large scale effects on the global 13C/12C ratio. From 1984 to 1986, it increased by 0.03 per mil. From ’86 to ’89, it decreased by -0.2. And from ’89 to ’92, it didn’t change at all. Why?
If humans are to be seen as the major contributors to atmospheric CO2, then how is it that the second statement quoted above shows quite the opposite? Did not the use of mineral crude actually increase in those time spans?
Aside from that, I’m not going to worry much over the matter, inasmuch as CO2 has been effectively debunked as a so-called ‘greenhouse’ gas, what with NASA alluding to such, albeit not directly.
I might start worrying when I may no longer lay on the sand at the beach without having to wear an oxygen mask due to the low lying CO2 …

anna v
June 7, 2010 4:37 am

of course that should be flora, not fauna in my
anna v says:
June 7, 2010 at 3:59 am
Although humans as fauna contribute something like half a ton of CO2 a year, and as we are 6 billion that is 3 billion tons a year from our respiration cycle. to be compared with 8 or so gigatones from fossil etc, a factor of 1000 less. ( somebody asked)

June 7, 2010 4:45 am

All I know is that I have read comments from people who are offended by it. I use “AGW supporter”
The problem with “AGW supporter” is that it first presupposes that the case for AGW is “settled” (which it may or may not be, to a greater or lesser extent, distinct from CAGW which is anything but), and then subsequently implies that the person thinks it’s good – i.e. “supports” it. It all breaks down, literally, in too many ways to fairly represent the views of the person or the thing they believe in.
I propose “AGW believer”.

wayne Job
June 7, 2010 4:49 am

If the ice core data shows a lag between warming and CO2 rise, surely the last hundred years are the start of the normal CO2 rise from the MVP. That may explain the change in isotope ratios.

Douglas Cohen
June 7, 2010 4:49 am

Neither you nor most of the people commenting here seem to be thinking about the approximately 800 year delay between an increase in temperature and the corresponding increase in CO2 that is said to be revealed by the ice core measurements. Is that delay still supported by the latest data? If it is, then the recent rise in CO2 could be mostly due to the Medieval Warm period — 800 years ago — indeed it could be taken as a proxy measurement for exactly how much warmer the world climate was back then (using the rule 7 deg C leads to a doubling of atmospheric CO2).

Grumbler
June 7, 2010 4:50 am

“Curiousgeorge says:
June 7, 2010 at 4:35 am
A philosophical question, Willis. Assume for the moment that we lacked the capability to measure CO2 ( or temperature other than what we feel on our skin ). Would we then perceive our current environment as beneficial or detrimental ?”
It’s not philosophical but practical. It’s fortuitous how all this happened just as we developed satellites and supercomputers. What great luck that our worst climate disaster coincided with huge advances in measuring and modelling!!
cheers David

FrankS
June 7, 2010 4:51 am

Thanks Willis for the mention of “half life”, that just makes it so easy to understand why the IPCC estimates must always be larger than churn rates.
Missing from your analysis is any reference, other than concluding that humans are the main cause of the increase in atmospheric CO2
For instance the ice cores show a 800 year lag between temp and CO2. So should there be an estimate for this type of change factored in. If for instance non human CO2 was naturally rising during this period then the amount sequestered (orange) and remaining CO2 (red) would would include a portion of increased non human CO2 as well. The effect here would be to lengthen the e-folding time of CO2 beyond 31 years.

Det
June 7, 2010 4:53 am

I also would like to point out that the deforestation really took of well with inventing the steam engine in the UK and the need to burn wood for that.
But also consider deforestation to gain farm land and later to expand settlements.
Even now, it still happens in the Amazon region and in Africa.
Aren’t we loosing the storage capacity of CO2 from the forests worldwide?
Considering the fastest method today is still to burn everything down!
A working forest holds moisture and water, creates O2, removes dust and other pollutents out of the air and creates shade (local cooling).
Big cities with lots of concrete and asphalt becoming hot spots, using up water and are usually funnel wind and get dust airborne!
Why is this not considered as causing in warming or CO2 concentration rise models?

Grumbler
June 7, 2010 4:54 am

Hold on – CO2 straight line for 800 years and climate fluctuates dramatically over that period? And CO2 drives climate? What am I missing?
cheers David

Malaga View
June 7, 2010 4:58 am

Mmmmmmm… thanks for the excellent food for thought…
I have trawled through my mental archives after reading the article and comments…
Now if I remember rightly there is a TRICK somewhere… now what is it?
A TRICK that helps me understand Hockey Stick graphs….
A TRICK that helps me create Hockey Stick graphs…
Ahhhhhhh… I remember now 🙂

Take historic proxy data (of imprecise worth – like tree ring or ice core data) and then splice on some modern day observations. This recipe seems to work every time. Then flavour the latest data with a bit of Tabasco to ensure the end result is red and hot!!!!!

Gail Combs
June 7, 2010 4:59 am

Willis,
Fred H. Haynie the Retired EPA Research Scientist, mentioned to you a pdf covering this subject that he spent the last four years researching. He addresses the problems with the Ice Core CO2 data (it is too low) the carbon isotope issue and others.
My question is have you read the paper and can you refute his points? Especially the point on the ice core data being too low and the differential absorption rate of the carbon isotopes.
The PDF: http://www.kidswincom.net/climate.pdf

Hoppy
June 7, 2010 5:00 am

Does the CO2 level in the trapped ice represent the composition of the original air or is it the final equilibrium concentration between the trapped air and compressed snow. If it is an equilibrium then it would be a low level and very constant like that shown in Figure 1.
http://www.igsoc.org/journal/21/85/igs_journal_vol21_issue085_pg291-300.pdf
CO2 in Natural Ice
Stauffer, B | Berner, W
Symposium on the Physics and Chemistry of Ice; Proceedings of the Third International Symposium, Cambridge (England) September 12-16, 1977. Journal of Glaciology, Vol. 21, No. 85, p 291-300, 1978. 3 fig, 5 tab, 18 ref.
Natural ice contains approximately 100 ppm (by weight) of enclosed air. This air is mainly located in bubbles. Carbon dioxide is an exception. The fraction of CO2 present in bubbles was estimated to be only about 20%. The remaining part is dissolved in the ice. Measurements of the CO2 content of ice samples from temperate and cold glacier ice as well as of freshly fallen snow and of a laboratory-grown single crystal were presented. It is probable that a local equilibrium is reached between the CO2 dissolved in the ice and the CO2 of the surroundings and of the air bubbles. The CO2 content of ancient air is directly preserved neither in the total CO2 concentration nor in the CO2 concentration in the bubbles. Possibly the CO2 content of ancient air may at least be estimated if the solubility and the diffusion constant of CO2 in ice are known as a function of temperature. (See also W79-09342) (Humphreys-ISWS)
Descriptors: Ice | Carbon dioxide | Snow | Gases | Laboratory tests | Testing procedures | Instrumentation | Measurement | Hail | Alkalinity | Hydrogen ion concentration | Analysis | Analytical techniques | Data collections | Dissolved gases

Po
June 7, 2010 5:04 am

This graph is too ‘smooth’.
I’d like to see the graph of each site individually and with the x axis stretched out a little. The reason is that elsewhere (Geophysical Research Letters 33) Law Dome CO2 level is reported as being relatively flat from 1940-1955 while general emissions were rising.
Variations within individual sites which may cast doubt upon the relentlessly increasing CO2 hypothesis are masked by this ‘conglomerate graph’ and by compression of the axes. This graph gives the impression that there is little or no variation within or between site records which could well be false, though masked by the presentation.

Bob
June 7, 2010 5:05 am

Off Topic, but I’ve been following the evolution of David Hathaway’s “Solar Cycle Predictions” of the sunspot cycle for a while. I’ve noticed that when he posts the current month’s real data, he quietly adjusts his predicted curve to fit the real data.
This month he has the cycle peaking in 2013 and having a peak of about 65. Last month, the modeled peak was 70. November 2009 it was about 78. And back in July 2007 his model predicted a peak of 150 in mid 2010.

Jack T
June 7, 2010 5:06 am

One thing that has always struck me about atmospheric CO2, as measured by ice cores, is how stable it appears to be over thousands of years, pre-modern times. Certainly, the climate has not been stable during all those years, yet there is CO2 basically doing nothing. Based on the volatility of climate and Earth in general, I got this gut instinct that something is wrong with the ice core CO2 records – they’re just too damn stable when it comes to CO2.
Here’s a short-term chart I ran across that adds to the thought that old ice core data for the long-term is not accurately reflecting CO2 levels existing during past climate conditions. Obviously, CO2 ppm level growth is influenced by climate changes, at least in the short run.
http://www.c3headlines.com/2010/02/hold.html
Are the ice core data just too coarse to reflect accurate CO2 levels from natural phenomenon, such as the major ocean oscillations? Or, do the ice cores “lose” the majority of the CO2 signal over time?

June 7, 2010 5:13 am

Daniel H says:
June 7, 2010 at 4:02 am

It would be great if someone at WUWT like Willis Eschenbach or Anthony Watts could convince Keeling to release his data since it was funded by mine and your tax dollars the NSF and NOAA and therefore ought to be in the public domain.

That would be a bit difficult, as Keeling died in 2005, refer to my recent links back to Anthony’s discussion with Pieter Tans, the current MLO director.
MLO does release a lot of data, can you be more explicit about what you are looking for that you can’t get from them?
Your comment wasn’t very explicit. One starting point is:
http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/obop/mlo/livedata/livedata.html

Steve in SC
June 7, 2010 5:17 am

Willis, you owe Jimmy Buffet big time.
Be ashamed!

Slioch
June 7, 2010 5:25 am

Douglas Cohen
June 7, 2010 at 4:49 am
The several hundred year delay between an increase in temperature and the corresponding increase in CO2 revealed by the ice core measurements, (eg Vostok) during glacial to interglacial transitions requires a net transfer of CO2 from the oceans and terrestrial biosphere to the atmosphere.
In contrast, between 1850 and 2000, human caused emissions of CO2 from burning fossil fuels equalled 1620 billion tons CO2, whereas the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere increased by only 640 billion tons. (data from Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Centre). There is no way in which that can be explained other than by a net transfer of CO2 from the atmosphere to the oceans/biosphere, the opposite of the former process.
Human emissions of CO2 are more than able to explain recent increases in atmospheric CO2.

June 7, 2010 5:26 am

Ben M says:
Are you sure the CDIAC dataset is accurate
I think CDIAC is reasonable data but might be exaggerated as the real conversion to CO2 is not as efficient as calculated. Maybe the sequestered CO2 is about the same as the remaining CO2. If that’s true, it is easy to remember and tell others.
Where is all that sequestered CO2 going?
The oceans yes, but things sure are looking green here in Georgia. When we moved from drought two years ago to more rain than we know what to do with, this part of the planet has blossomed like a peach tree.

June 7, 2010 5:26 am

Slabadang says:
June 7, 2010 at 3:11 am

Blaming CO2 without understanding the negative and positive feedabacks is is like eating dinner before you cooked it! CO2 is a gas for life. It’s very possible that we are increasing the chances for life on the planet by increasing CO2 turnover.
But no one is calculating the benefits.

Asking someone to prove a negative is a bit of a dirty trick, but it’s easy to disprove your “no one” claim. Just ask Google. Very little is all good or all bad, and more research is warranted and I’m sure in progress.
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2002/11/1122_021125_CropYields.html
http://www.co2science.org/articles/V13/N10/B2.php

June 7, 2010 5:37 am

Oslo says:
June 7, 2010 at 3:53 am

Well, as you say – your first graph resembles the Mann hockey stick, and perhaps for good reason, as it seems to utilize the good old “trick” – splicing the instrumental record onto the proxy data.
Here is another graph, clearly showing the instrumental data (red) disjointed from the proxies:
http://www.geo.cornell.edu/eas/energy/_Media/ice_core_co2.png
So the question is, as with the hockey stick: do the figures from the two methods even belong on the same graph?

I don’t understand your complaint – in Willis’ graph, the MLO record is displayed as the lowest level and with large dots. That allows the icecore data to stand out on top of the MLO data where there is overlap. Mann discarded data he didn’t like, used data he liked, and obscured what he did. Willis’ graph is above board on all three accounts.
The graph that you offer is interesting, but since it covers 650,000 years, the MLO record is only about one pixel wide and the time aspect is is compressed into essentially no information.
The instrumental record on Willis’ graph is plenty disjoint from the proxy data by style, color, and number of samples. At least, that’s my reading of it.

Enneagram
June 7, 2010 5:38 am

The trouble is one thing is “trapped heat” other the supposed “greenhouse effect”, and:
CO2 follows temperature, not the other way. Open a coke and you´ll see it: The more you have it in your warm hand the more gas will go out when you open it.
CO2 is the transparent gas we all exhale (SOOT is black=Carbon dust) and plants breath with delight, to give us back what they exhale instead= Oxygen we breath in.
CO2 is a TRACE GAS in the atmosphere, it is the 0.038% of it.
There is no such a thing as “greenhouse effect”, “greenhouse gases are gases IN a greenhouse”, where heated gases are trapped and relatively isolated not to lose its heat so rapidly. If greenhouse effect were to be true, as Svante Arrhenius figured it out: CO2 “like the window panes in a greenhouse”, but…the trouble is that those panes would be only 3.8 panes out of 10000, there would be 9996.2 HOLES.
See:
http://www.scribd.com/doc/28018819/Greenhouse-Niels-Bohr
CO2 is a gas essential to life. All carbohydrates are made of it. The sugar you eat, the bread you have eaten in your breakfast this morning, even the jeans you wear (these are made from 100% cotton, a polymer of glucose, made of CO2…you didn´t know it, did you?)
You and I, we are made of CARBON and WATER.
CO2 is heavier than Air, so it can not go up, up and away to cover the earth.
The atmosphere, the air can not hold heat, its volumetric heat capacity, per cubic cemtimeter is 0.00192 joules, while water is 4.186, i.e., 3227 times.
This is the reason why people used hot water bottles to warm their feet and not hot air bottles.
Global Warmers models (a la Hansen) expected a kind of heated CO2 piggy bank to form in the tropical atmosphere, it never happened simply because it can not.
If global warmers were to succeed in achieving their SUPPOSED goal of lowering CO2 level to nothing, life would disappear from the face of the earth.
So, if no CO2 NO YOU!

Bill Marsh
June 7, 2010 5:44 am

“During the ice age to interglacial transitions, on average a change of 7°C led to a doubling of CO2. We have seen about a tenth of that change (0.7°C) since 1850, so we’d expect a CO2 change from temperature alone of only about 20 ppmv.”
Is the relationship linear? It appears that the assumption here is that it is. Although, even if it is exponential the difference at this stage (.7C) of CO2 attributed to temperature rise would not be substantially different than if the relationship was linear.

Edward Boyle
June 7, 2010 5:51 am

This valuable post mentions a large source of CO2 which has not been given wide publicity – cement manufacture. The warmers will now start lobbying for reduction in thickness of roads, cobblestone pavements, smaller buildings, no new bridges or other large concrete construction. With the new smaller cars which will give greater gas mileage, weaker roadways should be adequate, and the future of the earth should be assured.

Steve Fitzpatrick
June 7, 2010 6:00 am

Willis,
“I’m outta here.”
A very wise decision.

pawelek
June 7, 2010 6:04 am

test comment
[Note: there is a “Test” menu on the page mast head. ~dbs, mod.]

June 7, 2010 6:09 am

Claims that cement manufacture introduce significant CO2 are the work of people who don’t understand science. Sadly that includes the US Government. When the cement is mixed with water, it absorbs the CO2 back from the atmosphere. Without CO2 the cement would never harden.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portland_cement
“Carbon dioxide is slowly absorbed to convert the portlandite (Ca(OH)2) into insoluble calcium carbonate. “

Pyromancer76
June 7, 2010 6:10 am

Willis, I am concerned about your frustration level with AGWers coupled with your great intelligence and precise math. You wrote, “People seem madly passionate about this question. So I figure I’ll deal with it by employing the method I used in the 1960s to fire off dynamite shots when I was in the road-building game … light the fuse, and run like hell …” Yes, but….The dynamite is carefully placed in a surveyed and planned area for the roadway — and, of course, human activities and the geology around that future road have been carefully taken into consideration.
Yes, sometimes you can take the “opposition’s” figures and research for granted and work out the science. However, if those figures are not accurate or do not take the complexity of conditions into account, I am not sure they can be valid. As I first read the essay, a number of red flags went up in my mind:
1,2,and3. Ice cores, ice cores, ice cores. Too much depends on CO2 registration in ice core data which has been neatly been fitted to Mann’s Hockey Stick without enough checking and cross checking. Next are you taking the CDIAC dataset at face value when we know how much, dare I say it, dishonest, fudging the data upward has been done with the temperature (thermometer) data? Can you assert that this data can be fully trusted in its current “official” state. Then there is the chemistry, perhaps more complex than you suggest (Slioch 2:41 am). Then there is the rather amazing history of climate and human activities during warm periods (tonyb 1:42 am). Are you really sure that there was no rise in CO2 because of (at least) outgassing from the oceans during those times — like 1850 to today? Is the flat line from ice cores reasonable to a reasonable mind?
Abadang 3:11 seems appropriate: “To me the work on climate science more describes how little we know, rather than how much.” I think you give the “warmists” (I wish it were warming) too much credit for accurate data and interpretation. Richard Courtney 2:43 am) gives a long disposition on the complexities you dismiss: “But it is important to understand that there is no evidence which could be said to prove the matter.” Your argument is too close, too similar, to that of the pseudo-scientists who published in Nature — since there was a mass migration of humans to the New World before the Holocene and because we know they killed off the megafauna, and because warmth of the earth depended on the methane in megafauna burps, we know that humans were the cause of the Younger Dryas — just like we are the cause of warming today. Watts Up With That argument?
Anyway, I like your ending. Thanks for your coninuing efforts to keep the discussion-debate lively. Next time, don’t run like hell.

mkelly
June 7, 2010 6:13 am

Statement written for the Hearing before the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
Climate Change: Incorrect information on pre-industrial CO2
March 19, 2004
Statement of Prof. Zbigniew Jaworowski
Chairman, Scientific Council of Central Laboratory for Radiological Protection
Warsaw, Poland
Figures 1A and 1B
The data from shallow ice cores, such as those from Siple, Antarctica[5, 6], are widely used as a proof of man-made increase of CO2 content in the global atmosphere, notably by IPCC[7]. These data show a clear inverse correlation between the decreasing CO2 concentrations, and the load-pressure increasing with depth (Figure 1 A). The problem with Siple data (and with other shallow cores) is that the CO2 concentration found in pre-industrial ice from a depth of 68 meters (i.e. above the depth of clathrate formation) was “too high”. This ice was deposited in 1890 AD, and the CO2 concentration was 328 ppmv, not about 290 ppmv, as needed by man-made warming hypothesis. The CO2 atmospheric concentration of about 328 ppmv was measured at Mauna Loa, Hawaii as later as in 1973[8], i.e. 83 years after the ice was deposited at Siple.
Sorry the figure did not copy. However, for Willis to be correct Prof. Jaworowski must be wrong. I doubt he intentionally lied to Congress.

Steve Keohane
June 7, 2010 6:18 am

Good analysis Willis. My only concern is the relative amount of CO2, anthropogenic vs. not. I have the following stored from a few years ago, without the source, which seems to be the basis for the 3% anthro-CO2 contribution to the annual CO2 budget that is often quoted.
CO2 EMISSIONS :
1. Respiration Humans, Animals, Phytoplankton 43.5 – 52 Gt C/ year
2. Ocean Outgassing (Tropical Areas) 90 – 100 Gt C/year
3. Volcanoes, Soil degassing 0.5 – 2 Gt C/ year
4. Soil Bacteria, Decomposition 50 – 60 Gt C/ year
5. Forest cutting, Forest fires 0.6 – 2.6 Gt C/year
Anthropogenic emissions (2005) 7.5 – 7.5 Gt C/year
TOTAL 192 to 224 Gt C/ year
The table shows the range of estimates of natural CO2 and human production in 2005 (Gt C/year is Gigatons of Carbon per year). Accuracy has not improved since. Notice the human contribution is within the error range of three (1, 2, & 4) of the natural sources. The total error range is almost 5 times the amount of total human production.

Further, I have read that the amount of CO2 emitted by termites is enormous, 50 gigatons/year. In thinking about termites, it occurs to me that what they are consuming is wood that is probably at least 40 years old, often older, considering the life cycle of trees. Would their diet of old wood skew the C12/13 ratios by releasing the C that was sequestered in the wood decades earlier?
Source for termite CO2 production: http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/short/218/4572/563

tallbloke
June 7, 2010 6:23 am

Harry says:
June 7, 2010 at 1:16 am
RULES FOR THE DISCUSSION OF ATTRIBUTION OF THE CO2 RISE
Amen!

Didn’t work too well on the debate about Ravetz’ theory, where the main protagonist of ad hominem attacks and extreme language was…. Willis Eschenbach.
😉

Suzanne
June 7, 2010 6:25 am

The Stauffer/Berner paper addresses the same points made by Jarorowski about the validity of the Ice cores as a measurement of previous atmospheric CO2 levels. Jarowowski maintained that the ice was not a closed system as pertains to CO2.
When one looks at the Vostoc ice core record, it is apparent that the older the core, the more obvious the lag between the change in temperature and the change in CO2. The point has already been made that the stomatal measurements of CO2 show much more variability and do not track the ice core records. There has been no mention of Beck’s compilation of >90,000 historical CO2 measurements which showed a post war rise in CO2 to about 400 ppm, which would make the peak just after the warm period of the 30’s and during WWII. Callender showed similar variability but then selected those values he thought fit the theory. It is surprising that no one is actually publishing research on the question of movement of CO2
through glacial ice in light of the evidence that ice may not give an accurate picture of CO2 levels.

Martin Brumby
June 7, 2010 6:31 am

Willis
I’ll make a deal.
When we’re talking serious science I’ll happily call ’em “AGW Supporters” “AGW Believers” or even “Nervous Climate Scientists”, if you prefer.
But when they are arguing for Trillions of Pounds / Dollars to be spent NOW screwing up the sources of energy on which the economy depends, on the basis of junk science scare stories, then I’m gonna keep on calling ’em “eco-fascist nut jobs”.
Just put it down to Tourette’s.
Sorry, can’t help myself!

Britannic no-see-um
June 7, 2010 6:31 am

anna v June 7, 2010 at 4:37 am
Thanks for that.

Martin Brumby
June 7, 2010 6:37 am

@Richard S Courtney says: June 7, 2010 at 2:43 am
You left out (13) Manufacturing bread and booze.
Don’t think that affects your argument too much, though.
Although it would be interesting to know how much (globally) fermentation produces. Probably a piece more than we save by using those pesky “energy saving” light bulbs.

June 7, 2010 6:37 am

Darkinbad the Brightdayler says:
June 7, 2010 at 1:05 am
“So if you are going to believe that this is not a result of human activities”
I’m not comfortable with the use of the words “Believe” or “Disbelieve” in a scientific context. These words are more appropriate to discussions about religion and concepts which are not open to a process of proof.
To pull them into a scientific debate is to allow participants to think and respond in a less rigorous way than they ought.

I agree, but many, many folks, including scientists, use “I believe” to mean, inter alia, “I think,” “I suppose,” “In my opinion,” “I am more or less convinced,” etc., etc. Some time ago I suggested to Willis that he eschew the terms “believe” and “belief,” in favor of more specific language, but he dismissed the idea.
Back on topic, it will be interesting to see how Willis responds to the comments above that raise doubts about the validity of the ‘observed’ rise in CO2 (that tags recent atmospheric measurements on to old ice-core ones) and about the role of the oceans in the carbon cycle. Do these affect his belief (= confidence?) that the CO2 spike (if it is real) is mostly anthropogenic?
BTW, what contribution do forest/wildfires make to atmospheric CO2? Will they not mimmic fossil-fuel combustion?
/Mr Lynn

tallbloke
June 7, 2010 6:40 am

FrankS says:
June 7, 2010 at 4:51 am
For instance the ice cores show a 800 year lag between temp and CO2. So should there be an estimate for this type of change factored in.

The fact that it’s been around 800 years since the Medieval Warm Period should be considered too.
I notice Beck didn’t get a mention either.

Paul Linsay
June 7, 2010 6:40 am

“I will start with Figure 1. As you can see, there is excellent agreement between the eight different ice cores, including the different methods and different analysts for two of the cores. There is also excellent agreement between the ice cores and the Mauna Loa data. Perhaps the agreement is coincidence. Perhaps it is conspiracy. Perhaps it is simple error. Me, I think it represents a good estimate of the historical background CO2 record.”
No conspiracy is required, it’s just human psychology. There’s a famous example in physics of just this kind of behavior. In the early 1900s R.A. Millikan discovered that the charge of the electron is quantized, but he got the actual value wrong. It took a long time and many experiments to finally arrive at the right value. If someone measured a value that differed from the original one, they would look for errors until they got agreement with Millikan and stop there, instead of looking for all possible sources of error.

Geoff Smith
June 7, 2010 6:43 am

Get yer butt back here, no lighting this fuse then running for the hills…. LOL
Sorry but pretty graphs and nice numbers mean nothing when they only talk about the tiniest percentage of the history of something….anything.
Have we not been over that fact on this site time and time again. 1 thousand years out of 4.5 billion, what it that!
You must start at the beginning.
The first step in understanding must be to say has this happened before. If yes then can we determine why. If no, this is the first time, then we start from the beginning and move forward to see what changed to bring about this increase.
In the case of our little blue marble we have seen from the ice cores that indeed there has been much higher levels of CO2 in the past.
There was a cause then and we know it was not our ancestors running around in there Flintstone cars. Have we determined this cause?? Have we looked for this cause in our last one thousand year time period?
My god man how would you feel if you were present at a murder scene along with the rest of the crowd and the police suddenly turn to you as the guilty party?
You ask them why and they simply say you are here.
Now gather up your notes, take them outside and as a true offering for forgiveness burn them and add your bit of CO2 to the skies.
Once you’ve warmed yourself by the fire as your ancestors once did, seen the immenseness of the sky, felt your insignificance on this giant marble of which we occupy very little space, come back in and start at the beginning.
What was going on in the past that caused the gas levels to change, WHICH gas levels changed the most, did the warmth come before the gas change or after…..while your pondering that one have a beer or two, maybe one in a glass in the fridge and one in a glass on a hot patio.
Oh yes and in an attempt to provide reading material with yet more pretty graphs but at least on a grander scale take a peek at this.( probably 50 articles to refute it as the debate continues)
Nasif Nahle. 2007. Cycles of Global Climate Change. Biology Cabinet Journal Online. Article no. 295.

mkelly
June 7, 2010 6:50 am

In the end I agree with Mr. Willis Eschenbach, as the CO2 level has little or nothing to do with the temperature. The debate over CO2 levels is minor in nature and only proves what Einstein said “Not everything that can be measured is important. And not everything that is important can be measured.” At least I think he said this.

June 7, 2010 6:55 am

Willis said: “So if you are going to believe that this is not a result of human activities, it would help to answer the question of what else might have that effect. It is not necessary to provide an alternative hypothesis if you disbelieve that humans are the cause … but it would help your case. Me, I can’t think of any obvious other explanation for that precipitous recent rise.”
Could not the answer be “the same thing, or things, that caused similar atmospheric CO2 rises in the past”?
If you would say anthropogenic CO2 emissions “may” be causing, or causing a portion, of the recent rise, then you and Richard S. Courtney would appear to be in agreement, would you not?

1DandyTroll
June 7, 2010 6:56 am

Isn’t it a bit silly, and IPCCian, to state that if a person truly don’t have another viable hypotheses that can explain the increase in carbon emission, that fairly fits the world increase of tomato use or population or the number of new rice fields or et cetera, then people can’t speak their mind, less they wanna pretty much be ignored.
But essentially in the year of 1850, and before like, and even though the whole world was in a coal burning frenzy and not only from industrialization but also from private coal fired heater and boilers, they somehow only manage to emit about 0.5 gigatonne of carbon.
Personally I just don’t see it.

June 7, 2010 6:59 am

Humans are most certainly the cause of the recent CO2 increase. A simple graph comparing CO2 with the population should offer an important hint:
http://voksenlia.net/met/co2/pop.jpg
I find it a bit interesting that the correlation between population and CO2 is roughly the same for the past centuries. Does it mean that the level of technology is not that relevant? That a pre-industrial society causes roughly the same CO2 increase per person as the modern society?

Gail Combs
June 7, 2010 7:01 am

Juraj V. says:
June 7, 2010 at 2:53 am
“….Today, the rate of CO2 rise plays well with SST data.
http://climate4you.com/images/CO2%20MaunaLoa%20Last12months-previous12monthsGrowthRateSince1958.gif1998 El Nino is clearly visible, also La Nina and volcanic eruptions. But strange that 2007 La Nina is not visible. More, as oceans start to cool, the rate of rise stabilizes.”

____________________________________________________________________
I would like to look at that but the link seems to be broken.
[Reply: It may be this:
http://www.climate4you.com/images/GISS%20GlobalMonthlyTempSince1958%20AndCO2.gif
or this:
http://www.climate4you.com/images/CO2%20MaunaLoa%20Last12months-previous12monthsGrowthRateSince1958.gif
~dbs]

Brad
June 7, 2010 7:15 am

Agrtee completely, I think this post is the right answer. CO2 increase is human caused, but the increase in CO2 is responsible for only part of, and maybe a very small part of, the temp rise. Just wait, if the sunspots dont come back and we have a very weak solar cycle, well…

Ernesto Araujo
June 7, 2010 7:15 am

The debate about what causes CO2 concentration in the atmosphere is pointless. What matters is: does the increase in CO2 concentration cause warming? The whole thing is about Global Warming, not about CO2 concentration. To indicate that CO2 increase causes warming, you would need to present a curve where temperature oscillations match CO2 concentration, and that curve clearly does not exist for the last 1000 years, nor for the last 150 years.

Enneagram
June 7, 2010 7:22 am

There is a rule for sales´men: Never, Never, mention the name of your competition, because it would inmediately increase its sales. That is what this post is, consciously or unconsciously doing, paving the way to Cancun.

Phil.
June 7, 2010 7:32 am

Gail Combs says:
June 7, 2010 at 7:01 am
Juraj V. says:
June 7, 2010 at 2:53 am
“….Today, the rate of CO2 rise plays well with SST data.
http://climate4you.com/images/CO2%20MaunaLoa%20Last12months-previous12monthsGrowthRateSince1958.gif1998 El Nino is clearly visible, also La Nina and volcanic eruptions. But strange that 2007 La Nina is not visible. More, as oceans start to cool, the rate of rise stabilizes.”
____________________________________________________________________
I would like to look at that but the link seems to be broken.

Delete the terminal ‘1998’ and it works.

Enneagram
June 7, 2010 7:33 am

Geoff Smith says:
June 7, 2010 at 6:43 am
Now gather up your notes, take them outside and as a true offering for forgiveness burn them and add your bit of CO2 to the skies.
http://biocab.org/carbon_dioxide_geological_timescale.html

June 7, 2010 7:40 am

You make a good case for human-caused increase in atmospheric CO2. The rise in CO2 levels since 1945 is unprecedented in many thousands of years of geologic history and no natural cause (including volcanic activity) is known to be capable of producing the rise n CO2 over that past 65 years.
So let’s assume that humans have caused the rise in CO2. That still begs the question of whether or not the increase in CO2 is the cause of global warming. CO2 makes up 0.038% of the atmosphere, accounts for only 3.6% of the greenhouse effect, and has increased only 0.008% since ~1945.
‘CO2-pushers’ (for lack of a better term) claim this is enough to increase atmospheric water vapor (which accounts for ~95% of the greenhouse effect) and cause warming. The problem with this is that they haven’t demonstrated that water vapor has increased at all, and in fact, some data suggests decreases in water vapor over past decades.
We have had four climate shifts in the past century (cool, 1880-1915; warm, 1915-1945; cool, 1977-1999; cool, 1999-2010), and Greenland ice core data shows that we have had 40 similar warm/cool oscillations in the past 500 years and temperature increases of up to 15 degree F in as little as 40 years, none of which could possibly be caused by human-made CO2 because they all occurred before CO2 levels rose. Conclusion–naturally caused climatic fluctuations have been commonplace for tens of thousands of years without any relationship to CO2 (other than CO2 goes up after warming occurs).
So my question for you, Willis, is how about doing the same kind of analysis of atmospheric water vapor changes as you did with CO2 and calculating the total maximum effect CO2 by itself–then lite the fuse and run like hell!

RockyRoad
June 7, 2010 7:42 am

The discussion about CO2 is incomplete without a long-range historical graph showing CO2 concentrations over the geologic record so the current trend/amount can be put into perspective. Then of equal interest would be the cause of these CO2 concentrations that far exceed current levels. And while there is little doubt that (some/much/most) of the current up-tick is anthropogenic, the causes that propelled CO2 in the past to much higher levels than we currently see should be discussed, as those were certainly not anthropogenic.

wayne
June 7, 2010 7:42 am

Thanks Hopper for the Stauffer & Berner paper, that clears many things. If I open my mouth further on this subject I’m afraid I might cross one of those lines, so, like Willis, I’m outta here.
(Oh, stick to the numbers… 2.18 seems closer than 2.13)

Julian Flood
June 7, 2010 7:43 am

Re Fig 1. Levels of CO2 do not start to rise in 1850, the rise begins in 1750 or slightly earlier. This ties in nicely with Ferdinand Engelbeen’s graph of 12C/13C ratios which also show divergence beginning in the nmiddle of the 18th century.
Explanations of human interference with the atmosphere should begin around 1750.
JF

June 7, 2010 7:49 am

With respect to residence time in the atmosphere, I understand that the A bomb tests of the 1950s showed the half life to be five years. This means that the atmosphere is in equilibrium with part of the oceans with a lag of only a few years. My caculations say that on average it is the top 100 metres.
The CDIAC is the nuclear industry’s contribution to global warming hysteria. If you look at their experiments on the growth response of plants to increased CO2, they added ozone to their artificial atmospheres in order to get a negative response.
The cooling of the next 20 years should result in a flat atmospheric CO2 trend.

Shevva
June 7, 2010 7:52 am

Can i just point out that if your study doesn’t support the earth is turning into a giant fan-assisted over hypothesis then you’re not getting a grant.
Great work Mr Willis as direct and clear for us novices as ever.

HankHenry
June 7, 2010 7:53 am

The title is misleading. What’s there to blame anyone for in this piece?
The Keeling curve is so damn perfect it makes one wonder.

T.C.
June 7, 2010 7:54 am

Where is Becks curve in the summary? Without it you don’t have the full story. How do we know that the ice core data is accurate? Maybe glacial scientists are just making the same systematic error – there seems to be a lot of assumptions built into gas analysis of ice cores? A lot of things have not been taken into consideration – for example the biology of the snow that creates the ice:
http://www.aad.gov.au/default.asp?casid=2437
Again, if this is correlation = cause, as promulgated by the CAGW, then why don’t we see decreases in CO2 at ML along with decreased fossil fuel consumption and industrial activity by humans during the early 70’s, early 80’s (especially the early 80’s), early 90’s, late 90’s, etc.? Even if there is a lag in response, the decrease should show up? I don’t see it.
And as
Steve Keohane says:
June 7, 2010 at 6:18 am
the contribution of anthropogenic CO2 is utterly overwhelmed by natural sources of CO2 emission, particularly that fluxing in and out of the oceans. The idea that anyone can track anthropogenic CO2 in the midst of these fluxes is just silly, but I suppose careers certainly have been built on far less.

Phil.
June 7, 2010 7:55 am

Paul Linsay says:
June 7, 2010 at 6:40 am
No conspiracy is required, it’s just human psychology. There’s a famous example in physics of just this kind of behavior. In the early 1900s R.A. Millikan discovered that the charge of the electron is quantized, but he got the actual value wrong. It took a long time and many experiments to finally arrive at the right value. If someone measured a value that differed from the original one, they would look for errors until they got agreement with Millikan and stop there, instead of looking for all possible sources of error.

This result was actually controversial and Ehrenhaft and his collaborators in particular contested it, consequently there is no chance that deviations from the Millikan value would be ignored. The modern value for e differs from Millikan’s by less than 1% which is mostly due the the modern value for the viscosity of air.

JKrob
June 7, 2010 7:59 am

One thing/question I would like to insert about the Mauna Loa CO2 data; http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/
shouldn’t there be any reflection of the large volcanic eruptions during that period – mainly Mt. St. Helens(1980), El Chichon (1982), Mt. Pinatubo(1993), etc. ? Looking at the Full Mauna Loa CO2 record and the Annual Mean Growth Rate for Mauna Loa for those years & shortly after, there is nothing to suggest anything volcanic happened as opposed to the SO2 levels during those same times.
Does it take a Yellowstone-type eruption to make a mark on those measurements or is something else up?
Just wondering…Jeff

Enneagram
June 7, 2010 8:06 am

Stockholm syndrome anyone?
In psychology, Stockholm syndrome is a term used to describe a paradoxical psychological phenomenon wherein hostages express adulation and have positive feelings towards their captors that appear irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stockholm_syndrome

June 7, 2010 8:10 am

RockyRoad says:
“The discussion about CO2 is incomplete without a long-range historical graph showing CO2 concentrations over the geologic record so the current trend/amount can be put into perspective.”
Here’s one chart of the geological record. [click on the chart to embiggen]

G. Karst
June 7, 2010 8:11 am

SimonH:
“I propose “AGW believer”.”
I agree but “AGW convinced” or “AGW unconvinced” avoids religiosity, while retaining correct meaning. GK

Steve Hempell
June 7, 2010 8:22 am

Willis,
Care to comment on this?
http://www.rocketscientistsjournal.com/2007/06/on_why_co2_is_known_not_to_hav.html
Just like to have your opinion. I get lost in the mathematics.

John Hounslow
June 7, 2010 8:24 am

A couple of points to provide food for thought:
1. Add to figure 2 a total global population line.
2.Something odd about CO2 seems to have started 10,000 years ago – from the ice core results it has been on an upward trend, even though temperature has been on a downward trend. Contrast with what happened during 10,000 year periods at comparable points in previous cycles – 120,000 years ago to 130,000 years ago, 230,000 years ago to 240,000 years ago, 325,000 years ago to 335, 000 years ago, 400,000 years ago to 410,000 years ago. In each of those periods CO2 followed temperature down. What caused the change? Total human population was pretty puny 10,000 years ago.

A C Osborn
June 7, 2010 8:25 am

I have not read all the posts on here so I apologise in advance if this has been mentioned before.
I have to disagree with the accuracy of this remark.
“It is unlikely that the change in CO2 is from the overall temperature increase. During the ice age to interglacial transitions, on average a change of 7°C led to a doubling of CO2. We have seen about a tenth of that change (0.7°C) since 1850, so we’d expect a CO2 change from temperature alone of only about 20 ppmv.”
On the grounds of the 600-800 time lag that is supposed to be shown in Ice Core evaluation. The changes we see would relate to what happened to temperatures in the Past, not what is happening now.

AndrewS
June 7, 2010 8:27 am

One is the residence time of CO2. This is the amount of time that the average CO2 molecule stays in the atmosphere. It can be calculated in a couple of ways, and is likely about 6–8 years.
The other measure, often confused with the first, is the half-life, or alternately the e-folding time of CO2. Suppose we put a pulse of CO2 into an atmospheric system which is at some kind of equilibrium. The pulse will slowly decay, and after a certain time, the system will return to equilibrium.

That I don’t get. Assuming residence time of 6 years we get ~16.7% of all pulse absorbed in first year. ~30.5% is gone after two years. And after only four years more that half of original pulse will be absorbed (~51.77%). That means that 6 years residence time results in less than 4 year of half-life time. Same analysis for 8 years of residence time results in just above 5 years of half-life time. Is anything wrong with my reasoning?
Andrew

Dave Springer
June 7, 2010 8:29 am

Willis asks what else other than human CO2 emissions might have caused recent rise.
Land use changes – primarily taking out old growth forests. Remember how the Kyoto protocol was originally supposed to credit countries for reforestation efforts until it was discovered that the US had planted so many trees it would get a huge credit then the Europeans balked at giving a credit for reforestation and then Clinton and Bush both decided not to sign it when the reforestation credits were removed.
Warming oceans. Natural warming of the ocean releases dissolved CO2 like a glass of beer.
Question for Willis: throughout the vast majority of earth’s history atmospheric CO2 levels were at least several and as much as order of magnitude higher than today. It’s only during the relatively recent period of glacial-interglacial cycles where the earth’s temperature and CO2 content of the atmosphere has been this low. The whole damn planet was tropical for most of its history. How do you explain that given the sun was 10% cooler in the distant past and fossil fuel reserves were being built up instead of being burned up.
2) warm
ing oceans
3)

PJB
June 7, 2010 8:31 am

From the Vostok data, CO2 lags the temperature from 50 to 600 years or so….
We are at the “end” of a warming period with a gradual lowering of temperatures and despite the recent “increase”, shouldn’t the natural trend of CO2 content be somewhat downward? That being the case, are we “diverting” the temperature drop into the next ice-age by our carbonaceous ways?
Just askin’.

Stop Global Dumbing Now
June 7, 2010 8:32 am

This is a fun exercise for us climate laymen. Not much time to play this morning.
1) Ice core data is a little too level for my taste. Could the newer ice be the “saturation” state (for lack of a better word) and the older ice reflects leaching (out gassing) to a a more stable concentration?
2) We didn’t have a way of measuring CO2 until 1890s but I have never seen a comprehensive pre-industrial estimate (guesses don’t count). Does one exist? That table going back to the 1700s is quite suspect as recent papers show that even hunter-gatherers participated in burning forests to change the landscape to improve hunting conditions. The poor neglected anthropologists finally have their chance to get in on this.

James Sexton
June 7, 2010 8:38 am

“1. Numbers trump assertions. If you don’t provide numbers, you won’t get much traction.”
I love numbers, I really do. I once wanted to be the statistician that threw out the various statistics at sporting events…….such as Team A wins 90% of the time when Joe Blow runs for over a hundred yards for the game, or, up next, here’s Jose Golpe, he’s batting .431 with runners in scoring position against left-handed pitchers on Wednesdays in a dome this year!(My apologies to the people not familiar with American sports).
My point is, numbers are often meaningless. For anyone that cares, every team that has a runner rushing for over 100 yards in a game should win at least 90% of the time, so attaching a meaning for a particular team to a specific runner going over 100 yards is silly. In my other example, while batting .431 is a lofty goal, this is example is bereft of “ifs” and “buts”. First, typically, a batter performs better against a pitcher throwing from the opposite hand.(Righty vs. Lefty, I assumed it is the same with cricket, but I don’t know.) Also, averages are skewed by lower incidents. Even if it is at the end of a season and Mr. Golpe was a full time player, how many times would Mr. Golpe have batted against a lefty on a Wednesday, in a dome with runners in scoring position for the year? Not often enough for the number to hold any meaning. For those that don’t know the last hitter to bat over .400, regardless of day of the week, right or left, ect. was Ted Williams in 1941.
Most people here, will say “so what?”
Numbers and averages skew a perspective. Like the team winning with the hundred yard rusher, atmospheric CO2 should increase. Why? For the obvious reason, man’s advancement! Anthropogenic CO2 is simply a by-product of economic growth and societal progress. My latter scenario, too, can have parallels with the CAGW discussion. In the CAGW discussion we use terms such as El Nino and La Nina. Almost always, they are accompanied by terms such as albedo and currents and solar phases ect. In other words, if solar activity X is accompanied by Nino or conversely Nina along with other astral convergences(a recent discussion here) combined with volcanic activity apparently, other than the one by Muana(Muana’s CO2 emissions are the good kind that we use a CO2 ruler for the world) then we’re likely to see Y in regards to Arctic ice extent in May(apparently meaningless in relation to ice extent in Sept). All that to mean……..nothing. Don’t get me wrong, man’s knowledge of our climate has increased significantly……sort of. As with many of the great questions of man, we’re often left with more questions than answers. I believe this will be the case for many years to come. Sadly, agenda driven science has altered the course of climate science. To what extent and what degree, we won’t know for many years to come.
Numbers are great when put in proper perspective, but useless unless the proper logic and critical thinking have been applied. Figures lie and lairs figure. I’m not sure what the exact number is, but my verbosity increases exponentially when I see a hockey stick graph.
Cheers

Malaga View
June 7, 2010 8:44 am

Enneagram says:
June 7, 2010 at 7:33 am

Thanks for the link to http://biocab.org/carbon_dioxide_geological_timescale.html
which includes following diagram showing the “Area of Continents Flooded” vs “Change of Tropospheric Temperature” http://biocab.org/Geological_TS_Sea_Level_op_713x534.jpg
I am left wondering did someone pull the plug out of their bath 500 mya?
Or perhaps the earth is expanding after all….

Steve Fitzpatrick
June 7, 2010 8:46 am

stevengoddard says:
June 7, 2010 at 6:09 am
“Carbon dioxide is slowly absorbed to convert the portlandite (Ca(OH)2) into insoluble calcium carbonate. “
Well yes, in theory at least, and this is certainly true near exposed surfaces of newly cast concrete. But most Portand cement based concrete is cast in slabs thick enough to preclude the easy entrance and diffusion of CO2, once the hydration process gets underway and the cement has a firm “set”. Indeed, reinforcing steel is normally set at a depth in the concrete sufficient to insure that carbon dioxide does not diffuse enough to reach the steel at any time during the expected useful lifetime of the concrete (since having the carbonation front reach the steel would lead to corrosion of the steel and possible failure of the concrete). So, while CO2 absorption certainly takes place, the “carbonation” process is extremely slow (taking hundreds of years) unless the concrete is demolished and broken into small pieces to expose more surface area to the air. In very thick sections (concrete in dams, large structural members, etc.) for all practical purposes (less than many hundreds of years) there is no significant CO2 absorption.
Cement manufacture is a net CO2 emissions source over less than geologic time scales, but is in fact a small fraction of other CO2 sources.

Bruce Cobb
June 7, 2010 8:46 am

According to Jaworowski:
“More than a decade ago, it was demonstrated that…the ice cores cannot be regarded as a closed system, and that low pre-industrial concentrations of CO2, and of other trace greenhouse gases are an artifact, caused by more than 20 physical-chemical processes operating in situ in the polar snow and ice, and in the ice cores. Drilling the cores is a brutal and polluting procedure, drastically disturbing the ice samples.”
“Liquid water is commonly present in the polar snow and ice, even at the eutectic temperature of −73°C. Therefore, the conclusions on low pre-industrial atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases cannot be regarded as valid, before experimental studies exclude the existence of these fractionation processes.”
“Recently, Brooks Hurd, a high-purity-gas analyst, confirmed the previous criticism of ice core CO2 studies. He noted that the Knudsen diffusion effect, combined with inward diffusion, is depleting CO2 in ice cores exposed to drastic pressure changes (up to 320 bars—more than 300 times normal atmospheric pressure), and that it minimizes variations and reduces the maximums (Hurd 2006).”
It seems very plausible that the carbon dioxide ice core records are highly questionable, meaning that hockey stick chart (where have we seen that before) is probably wrong, and that C02 levels have indeed been at least as high as todays’ over the past millennium. I doubt the rise in C02 is nearly as great as is supposed, and therefor, the % attributable to man is probably considerably less than what is supposed. It would be nice if we were responsible for more of the beneficial gas, though.

Tom Jones
June 7, 2010 8:48 am

I went through a lot of the same material, when I first got interested in AGW. Having come to the same conclusion then, I would be hard-put to disagree with it now. And, the insights of the Thermostat Hypothesis are really quite good. Nice work, Willis. It seems like a pretty good model for a piece of the puzzle. But, the question that bedevils is “what is changing the set-point of the thermostat?” There is a lot of chaotic short-term variation, which is not surprising given the feedback mechanisms, but there also seems to be an underlying long-term movement in the center value of the whole thing. There is obviously a large and loud school of thought that the atmospheric concentration of CO2 is what is moving the set-point. Perhaps it is, but correlation and causation are different things, and that theory seems to keep needing patching, which is not exactly reassuring. Nor am I convinced by any of the alternatives. Does anyone have any thoughts on this?

Anton
June 7, 2010 8:57 am

Bob says:
June 7, 2010 at 5:05 am
“Off Topic, but I’ve been following the evolution of David Hathaway’s “Solar Cycle Predictions” of the sunspot cycle for a while. I’ve noticed that when he posts the current month’s real data, he quietly adjusts his predicted curve to fit the real data.”
This is what MSN Weather does with its WTD/iMAP weather module on MSN homepages. Towards the end of the day, it goes back and changes incorrect forecasts to match what actually happened. It’s fraud, but what else is new in the climate community? Doesn’t Michael Mann spend much of his time rewriting temperature records to make them match his theories?
Does anybody ever admit to being wrong?

KevinUK
June 7, 2010 8:57 am

David Archibald
“The CDIAC is the nuclear industry’s contribution to global warming hysteria. If you look at their experiments on the growth response of plants to increased CO2, they added ozone to their artificial atmospheres in order to get a negative response.”
Do you have a citation for your statement above?
I once had a late night (in UK time zone) conversation with Steve M on CA about the possible link between the nuclear industry and CAGW. From my personal experience of working within the UK nuclear industry in the past, I told SteveM that I had never come across this link i..e that IMO CAGW propoganda was not eminating form the UK nuclear industry in order to justify building new nuclear plants – in fact from it!
Just because ORNL is a former nuclear R&D site but is now largely an ex-nuclear research site/institution doesn’t mean that CDIAC is part of the CAGW propaganda industry. Because of Steve M’s concerns I’ve spent quite a few days researching for evidence of this possible link between the US (and UK) nuclear industry (it definitely doesn’t exist in the UK) and the CAGW propaganda industry. The closest I’ve come to any evidence of it, is a fairly tenuous link between certain DOE funded staff at Pacific Nuclear Labs and some of their CAGW pronouncements and thats about it.
On the other hand there is a clear demonstrable link between the the UK universities that form part of the Tyndall Centre and BADC, the UK Met office and other DECC/DEFRA funded institutions/organisations like the Centre for Hydrology and Ecology and CAGW propaganda. None of these organisations/institutions have any connections with any of the UK’s former research and development sites like AERE Harwell or Winfrith despite their proximity (Harwell to Oxford and Winfrith to Exeter).
In fact I fully expected to see some familar names (from my days in UKAEA) on the staff compliment at UK Hadley Centre given my past involvement in modelling with the ‘severe nucelar accident catastrophe modelers’ at Harwell and Winfrith but I have been sadly disappointed to find that not one of them has ended up at Exeter as I was looking forward to contacting them and having some heated debates on thw usefulness (NOT!) of GCMs.

James Sexton
June 7, 2010 9:00 am

@ G. Karst
June 7, 2010 at 8:11 am
SimonH:
“I propose “AGW believer”.”
“I agree but “AGW convinced” or “AGW unconvinced” avoids religiosity, while retaining correct meaning.” GK
Hmm, perhaps for many, but for others it would seem including religiosity would be appropriate.
Religion
From Latin religiō (“‘moral obligation, worship’”)
1. A collection of practices, based on beliefs and teachings that are highly valued or sacred.
2. Any practice that someone or some group is seriously devoted to.
3. Any ongoing practice one engages in, in order to shape their character or improve traits of their personality.
4. An ideological and traditional heritage.
Numbers 1 and 2 seem to hit some CAGW convinced people dead on.

Ben
June 7, 2010 9:00 am

Side-notes that I think might be relavent. For one, I saw a study posted about 3 years ago by NASA that showed the Earth overall was 5% greener then 10 years before. I tried to find that study and can’t now, so as much as I hate to say it, you might need to take my word for it.
Our ecoystem may be able to counter the rising tide of CO2 given enough time, however this is speculation as is the question of how much CO2 our oceans can hold and sequester. There are no facts really known about this, and studies of those two relationships would have been much more beneficial then studies of say mammoth farts…but I digress..

Gail Combs
June 7, 2010 9:00 am

Andrew W says:
June 7, 2010 at 3:19 am
Of course, those nasty warmists have been trying to explain for years just how solid the evidence is that it is indeed human activity that’s causing the CO2 rise, it’s laughable that many “skeptics” are only capable of accepting the reasoning when it’s explained to them by one of the good people at WUWT.
__________________________________________________________________________-
I am more open to Willis and Anthony because I know they are more interested in science than in their next pay check or the next big financial bubble.
There have been enough people who have run a foul of the establishment and lost their jobs or what ever to make me examine ANYTHING that comes out of the government these days.
A neutral example: Since the international HACCP system replaced the old US meat inspection system there were ninety-four meat recalls in just one year, over 1000 Food inspection non-conformance reports found as a result of a freedom of Information act request from ‘Public Citizen’ and the Food Inspection Union’s chairman, Stan Painter accuses the USDA of ignoring the problems with HACCP during a Congressional investigation.
The official “Answer. …. The FSIS investigation has been completed and the allegations concerning improper enforcement of SRM regulations were not substantiated. In addition, the OIG independently sent an investigator and an audit team to examine the allegations concerning SRM regulatory compliance. Their observations also concluded that the chairman’s allegations were unsubstantiated.”
GRRRRrrrrr PEOPLE died horribly and the US government covered it up! http://www.marlerblog.com/tags/john-munsell/
http://www.foodsafetynews.com/contributors/nicole-johnson/
Now, tell me again why I should take the word of any scientist who is on the government payroll or gets government grants without checking his work closely.

Philip T. Downman
June 7, 2010 9:01 am

Excellent reasoning, perhaps with the exception of those sorrow “tree rings” again. “The Problems in interpreting tree-ring δ 13C records”
There seems to be considerable difficulties to use the tree rings as a proxy for 13C content of the atmosphere too: The presumption is that plants prefer 12C. So if the concentration of 13C increases. this ought not to be directly mirrored in the 13C content in wood. It ought to be less, wouldn’t it? The extent to which 13C is accepted by different plants might vary with concentration and perhaps other factors as say temperature, water, nourishment.
My bet is that ice cores are better proxies for athmospheric CO2-content. I just guess that the difference in diffusion rate between 13CO2 and 12CO2 is negligible even over thousands of years.

P. Berkin
June 7, 2010 9:04 am

I was starting to worry a bit . . . then I re-drew the top graph with the y-axis going from 0 – 1,000,000 and I stopped worrying.
I am not a climate scientist, by the way.

Ian H
June 7, 2010 9:08 am

Anyone who doesn’t think the CO_2 rise is due to human beings should explain where all that CO_2 we have emitted actually went if not into the atmosphere.
I find it interesting that the sequestration rate seems to be getting larger – it is trending above the exponential line. If we were using up the capacity of the sea to absorb CO_2 we’d expect to see the opposite. Of course the sea has a huge capacity to absorb CO_2 and so far we’ve barely made a dent in it. Nevertheless you wouldn’t expect the sea to actually be getting more efficient at absorbing CO_2 … or would you?
In related news … my lawn needs mowing yet again. Perhaps the increased rate of sequestration is due to increased plant growth in the higher CO_2 environment.

June 7, 2010 9:09 am

Interesting CO2/Temp chart.

Timothy Chase
June 7, 2010 9:10 am

The paper is:
Farmer, John G. (1979) Problems in interpreting tree-ring δ 13C records, Nature, Volume 279, Issue 5710, pp. 229-231.
http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1979Natur.279..229F
When I was arguing with young earth creationists they would often trot out old papers to suggest that there were major unresolved issues. One even such paper even showed the sun to be shrinking at such a rate that if it had been shrinking as quickly in the past the sun couldn’t be very old. That was from the 1970s. Older papers. More difficult to track down — or get PDFs of them off the web.
Used to be that if you were going back to the early 1990s things were tough. Nowadays, however, it is possible to get PDFs of all the Sol Spiegelman and Manfred Eigen papers from the 1960-70s on different strains of Spiegelman’s Monster — the shortest of which is in the neighborhood of 50 nucleotides long — about the same length that linear polyribonucleotides will spontaneously form in the presence of montmorillonite. But I can’t find an actual copy of the paper you are referring to — although I can see that there are a number of papers that dealt with the same topic in the following years.
Have you checked to see if there was any progress made on this problem?

Enneagram
June 7, 2010 9:10 am

The return of the LOST SHEEP:
There were ninety and nine that safely lay
In the shelter of the fold.
But one was out on the hills away,
Far off from the gates of gold.
Away on the mountains wild and bare.
Away from the tender AL BABY Shepherd’s care.
Away from the tender AL BABY Shepherd’s care.

Ian H
June 7, 2010 9:12 am

In related news … my lawn needs mowing yet again. Perhaps the increased rate of sequestration is due to increased plant growth in the higher CO_2 environment.

Alternatively perhaps precipitation has increased and is washing the CO_2 out of the atmosphere at an increased rate.

R. Craigen
June 7, 2010 9:17 am

Rules for Discussion: A masterstroke! It would change this whole field if adherence to this could be guaranteed. How about enshrining that somewhere on the main WUWT page or making it an editorial policy, or something? It should be nailed up by moderators at the beginning of climate debates everywhere — and STRICTLY enforced.
As for your article, Willis, I find little that is controversial in it, but I would have liked to see more discussion of the empirical evidence for the high proportion of human emissions in the CO2 resident in the atmosphere today. From what I read of isotope studies, emissions comprise a small fraction. This, of course, does not mean that they have not CAUSED the rise in CO2, as the gas is continually being consumed, absorbed and re-emitted by the seas, plant life and geological system, none of which care which CO2 molecules they are absorbing. With the flux in and our of the natural system more-or-less in balance, the addition of human emissions should have the effect of increasing the total but it will be distributed into the various sinks and replaced with naturally occurring CO2, thus it should comprise a smaller proportion of the whole than one would think. I imagine one could use the emission numbers versus the empirical values of resident emitted CO2 to infer something about actual (as opposed to theoretical) absorption rates. I wonder if this has been done.

June 7, 2010 9:18 am

P Berkin,
Here’s another CO2 chart to keep you from worrying. And another.

Dave Springer
June 7, 2010 9:22 am

I left out forest fire suppression as a reason for bump in CO2 in recent years. As was discovered a few decades ago forest fire suppression actually has the opposite effect of what Smokey the Bear wanted – preservation of our forests. Suppressing forest fires allows combustables to accumlate near ground level setting the stage for truly massive fires that can’t be controlled and are so hot that it destroys old growth trees which would have otherwise survived the lesser more frequent fires. When those old growth trees go up in smoke you get a century’s worth of CO2 locked up in the wood released into the atmosphere.
While land use changes and forest fire suppression are still anthropogenic in origin its not the fossil fuel bogeyman that everyone is focused on and wants to control and it’s not the US that is the big offender. The political drive behind this whole CAGW hoax is ained at two things
1) Taking over control of fossil fuel use and thus taking over the factor that literally fuels the economic growth of industrialized nations. It’s a power play.
2) Putting a damper on the US economic and military superpower status. Anything that can’t be blamed on the US is of no interest to the rest of the world or even US domestic self-loathers. Thus we hear next to nothing about the effects of black carbon (soot) produced by dirty diesel engines, slash & burn agriculture, heating of homes with wood and even dung, lack of particulate filters on coal burning power plants, and other assorted soot sources. You see, starting with the Clean Air Act of 1963 the US has dramatically reduced the amount of soot it pumps into the atmosphere. No other country in the world has come close to matching that effort. Moreover we regulate our logging industry such that their harvest methods either don’t denude the land or require planting of young trees to replace the old ones removed and we pretty much no longer use wood as source of fuel and instead much of becomes lumber used in contruction of durable structures where the carbon in the wood remains locked in the wood for a hundred years after harvest. On top of that we now use control burns that don’t destroy old growth forest but rather serve to remove fuel before it accumulates into disastrously hot fires that kill big trees.

40 shades of green
June 7, 2010 9:26 am

Willis,
You have to go and publish that book.
Note: There is no need to write it, as I think you have most of it written already.
40 shades

Steve Oregon
June 7, 2010 9:30 am

The worst kind of worry is worrying about what to worry about.
Once one reaches that point it’s too late to really worry about anything.
Unless you’re worried about not worrying enough.
But then there’s a risk of worrying about worrying too much and it becomes a worry about being lost in a circle of worry.

With AGW, worry has become the devil’s elixir.

J. Bob
June 7, 2010 9:34 am

Willis
I will echo the comment Steve Hempell made on the rocket science site. In my case I like the math included at that site, but the downloads are long, and I long since gave my analysis programs such as MATLAB away. So I’m limited to EXCEL and VB.
Looking at your initial 1000 year plot, one can make a case for man’s increase in CO2, “eyeballing” the apparent rise since the inception of the “industrial revolution” ~1750.
I’m in the process of completing a book, most of which is irrelevant to this discussion, except for the section discussing mass migration of people from 500 B.C. to 500 A.D., and what effects weather/climate had to do with it. Which has led to trying to better understand temperatures prior to the 1850 point. In looking at the temperature records, there seems to be very little data, if any, outside of central and western Europe.
One of my thoughts were, if the industrial age started in Europe, emitting all that soot and CO2, might one see a rise there first?
The following are averaged temperature anomaly charts reflecting the earliest records from Central England, DeBilt and http://www.rimfrost.no/
sources:
http://www.imagenerd.com/show.php?_img=lt-temp-1650-2008-1-Rxrdy.gif
http://www.imagenerd.com/show.php?_img=lt-temp-1750-2008-4-EyvXd.gif
http://www.imagenerd.com/show.php?_img=lt-temp-1800-2008-14-9ZSv8.gif
http://www.imagenerd.com/show.php?_img=lt-temp-1850-2008-27a-UtBGD.gif
http://www.imagenerd.com/show.php?_img=lt-temp-1900-2008-50a-PhLn0.gif
I used a Fourier convolution, or spectral lo-pass filter, with a cut off at a 40 year period. From my rought view, I don’t see anything happening until more global temps are started to be included from 1900 on, and any warming showing up only after about 1975.
I liked the Fourier as it included the end points, if used correctly, and allows correlation of other physical inputs which have periodic, or almost periodic secular cycles.
Any thoughts?

Gail Combs
June 7, 2010 9:37 am

Britannic no-see-um says:
June 7, 2010 at 3:49 am
How trivial or significant is the direct additional respiratory and food production CO2 emission produced by increases in human longevity and population density since medieval times?
____________________________________________________________________________
The termites beat us hands down.
“According to the journal Science (Nov. 5, 1982), termites alone emit ten times more carbon dioxide than all the factories and automobiles in the world. Natural wetlands emit more greenhouse gases than all human activities combined. (If greenhouse warming is such a problem, why are we trying to save all the wetlands?)”
Termites emit ten times more CO2 than humans. Should we cap-and-tax them?
“The 0.03% CO2 content of the atmosphere is minimal and has less impact and is lower in volume than, for example, methane given off by termites (who outweigh humans by 30x). ” http://globalwarminghoax.wordpress.com/2006/08/01/global-warming-is-a-hoax-invented-in-1988/#comment-9266

MW
June 7, 2010 9:37 am

Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t thawing permafrost release the same Carbon isotope as fossil fuel (12C)? Could thawing permafrost as part of a natural warming cycle account for part of the CO2 increase?

toho
June 7, 2010 9:43 am

“Nick Stokes says:
June 7, 2010 at 2:52 am
Willis,
A good explanation of many things, especially the e-folding time. But I don’t agree with your calculation of the 31 year period. I think you have calculated as if each added ton of CO2 then decays exponentially back to the 1850 equilibrium level. But the sea has changed. It is no longer in equilibrium with 280 ppm CO2. Of course it has its own diffusion timescale, and lags behind the air in pCO2. You could think of the decay as being back to some level at each stage intermediate between 1850 and present.
If you apply that process to the emission curve, you’ll match the airborne fraction with a slower decay (longer time constant) where the decay has less far to go.”
No, Nick. Exponential decay towards an increasing equilibrium level would need a smaller time constant for the observed rate of sequestration, not a larger one.

kwik
June 7, 2010 9:45 am

Richard S Courtney says:
June 7, 2010 at 3:58 am
That is what I call using your little grey cells.
Come on Willis! That pre historic CO2 proxy is low pass filtered!
From Segalstad;
http://folk.uio.no/tomvs/esef/esef3.htm
And;
http://folk.uio.no/tomvs/esef/esef5.htm

GeoFlynx
June 7, 2010 9:46 am

stevengoddard says:
June 7, 2010 at 6:09 am
Claims that cement manufacture introduce significant CO2 are the work of people who don’t understand science. Sadly that includes the US Government. When the cement is mixed with water, it absorbs the CO2 back from the atmosphere. Without CO2 the cement would never harden.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portland_cement
“Carbon dioxide is slowly absorbed to convert the portlandite (Ca(OH)2) into insoluble calcium carbonate. “
GeoFlynx-
The cement industry is thought to contribute about 5% of human Co2 emissions. Co2 is released in the manufacture of cement by the calcination of lime and the combustion of fuels in a kiln process. Portland and other hydraulic cements will continue to react with Co2 in the air and further “cure”. The reaction with atmospheric Co2 continues after initial hardening and is very slow often continuing for hundreds or thousands of years. In no way does this continued uptake of Co2 equal the amount of Co2 required in the cement’s manufacture. Hydraulic cements will harden quite well without absorbing Co2 from the atmosphere. Cements of this type are well suited to applications underground and underwater.

Doug Proctor
June 7, 2010 9:47 am

If CO2 is the primary driver of temperature changes today, what would the CO2 content be in the atmosphere historically under a reverse prediction of the IPCC temp-CO2 connection?
Note: I recognize that this argument has a limited application, as it is of a “if a then b, if b not necessarily a” type. However, is it not reasonable that for at least the post 1850 period this argument could be applied? Warmists say that most of the post-industrial warming is AG-CO2 related. Certainly the date of AGW showing up is variable, depending on how much change is desired for alarm purposes. 1850 is used as one reference point, though 1945 and 1975 are also used. The warmist argument also holds that recent changes in astrophysical input are not significant to this warming. A reversal of the prediction would show when solar influences MUST have become significant. CO2 as a significant forcing cannot be JUST in the current era. Or it will show that CO2 measurements by ice core are unreliable … which goes against the warmist view of how global temperatures are moderated even recently.

G. Karst
June 7, 2010 9:47 am

James Sexton:
“Hmm, perhaps for many, but for others it would seem including religiosity would be appropriate.”
Again, I agree, but my suggestion was for those people searching for a term, which does not imply further connotation. Reality sometimes has to move over for politeness! Besides, faith and belief are terms which can be thrown back at us. That is all I have to say. GK

June 7, 2010 9:49 am

Willis:
I’m very impressed by your work.
But to all the people playing “average temperature”, and in the spirit of trying to do GOOD ENGINEERING WORK… “average temperature” is a FICTION and MEANINGLESS. Here is why: Go to any online psychometric calculator. Put in 105 F and 15% R.H. (Heh, heh, I use the old English units, if you are fixated on Metric, get a calculator!) That’s Phoenix on a typical June day.
Then put in 85 F and 70% RH. That’s MN on many spring/summer days.
What’s the ENERGY CONTENT per cubic foot of air? 33 BTU for the PHX sample and 38 BTU for the MN sample.
So the LOWER TEMPERATURE has the higher amount of energy.
Thus, without knowledge of HUMIDITY we have NO CLUE as to atmospheric energy balances. “Average temperature” discussions, EVEN IF THE PROXIES ARE VALID (something I strongly doubt…take the O18 proxy, geologist use it to trace coastal outfalls from tropic areas, where tropic thunderstorms enrich it. That’s it, period…INVALID as a temperature proxy. KING’S NEW CLOTHES argument, just because it’s been repeated long enough and loud enough does not mean it is true!) the problem is, in terms of atmospheric energy, they are MEANINGLESS.
Max

latitude
June 7, 2010 9:51 am

“”Smokey says:
June 7, 2010 at 9:09 am
Interesting CO2/Temp chart.
Smokey says:
June 7, 2010 at 9:18 am
P Berkin,
Here’s another CO2 chart to keep you from worrying. And another.””
Thanks Smokey, it’s nice to have a reality check.
Measurements like ‘tons’ etc, are meant to fool.
Percentages are all that matter, and out of that very small percentage,
how much is ‘man made’ and how much of that can we really do about it?

janama
June 7, 2010 10:03 am

I’ve currently interested in the work of Dr Christine Jones, retired soil scientist. She recently made the following statement.
“This year Australia will emit just over 600 million tonnes of carbon. We can sequester 685 million tonnes of carbon by increasing soil carbon by half a per cent on only two per cent of the farms. If we increased it on all of the farms, we could sequester the whole world’s emissions of carbon.”
http://www.abc.net.au/landline/content/2008/s2490568.htm
Perhaps our agriculture methods are having more effect on CO2 levels than we realise.

Lee Klinger
June 7, 2010 10:05 am

Interesting piece Willis. Your conclusions on post-1850 CO2 trends seem fair, but I don’t think that the pre-1850 CO2 data that you show in Figure 1 tell the whole story. Back in 1996 I did an analysis of the available CO2 proxy data, most of which were from ice cores, and the results differed form what you show. The relevant figure from this paper is shown in my blog (http://suddenoaklifeorg.wordpress.com) here:
http://suddenoaklifeorg.wordpress.com/2010/01/10/the-potential-role-of-peatland-dynamics-in-ice-age-initiation/
Note that I found a slight but significant downward trend in CO2 concentrations during the few thousand years leading up to 1850. So I’m curious why the difference in these data sets?

Enneagram
June 7, 2010 10:12 am

P. Berkin says:
June 7, 2010 at 9:04 am
I was starting to worry a bit . . . then I re-drew the top graph with the y-axis going from 0 – 1,000,000 and I stopped worrying.
I am not a climate scientist, by the way.

However YOU ALREADY KNOW THE TRICK : By making “convenient graphs” you’ll scare housewives and politicians will praise you, and, what is more important in these days, you’ll eat tomorrow and you won’t lose your house the day after tomorrow.

Steven mosher
June 7, 2010 10:13 am

Nice work Willis. It’s notable to find the number of responses that are not on point. perhaps you should add a 7th rule about being germane, or about admitting when one is wrong. Anyway, I should catalogue the various ways in which people avoided simple agreement with your hypothesis. Also I want to reserve special criticism for those people who still do not understand what the TRICK is. The trick has been covered in detail many times, but I will do it one more time. the TRICK consists of this
1. truncation of a proxy series. {not always required}
2. Splicing a temperature series onto that.
3. smoothing the result.
4. failing to indicate that this is what you did by NOT distinguishing the data sources.
The KEY ELEMENTS are these
1. performing a mathematical operation on the two datasets that regards them as measures of the same thing. The smooth.
2. presenting the result AS IF it were data from from one source.
Folks Willis has not performed the trick. I give him a F on climate science trickery.
Anyway, to respond simply. I agree with you willis. There is more C02 in the atmosphere today than in 1850. The best explanation for that is man’s activities.
I’ve seen nothing in the way of argument that would lead me to seriously question either of those.

Arno Arrak
June 7, 2010 10:14 am

The perfect linearity of the pre-eighteenth century curve is a surprise. Against that background, the more recent trend stands out like a sore thumb. I am not greatly concerned with that, however, because you cannot jump from there to argue that it warms the world if you cannot explain the mechanism. The IPCC starts out with the Svante Arrhenius formulation but this does not give as much warming as they want so they fudge it by adding positive feedback from water vapor. This is how they get their alarming forecasts. But now we have two reasons to doubt them: Willis has come out with a “Thermostat Hypothesis” whereby tropical clouds and thunderstorms actively regulate the temperature of the earth. And now Ferenc Miscolczi (E&E, vol. 21, no. 4, 2010) has a theory according to which water vapor feedback is not positive as IPCC would have it but strongly negative which prevents any temperature excursions caused by excess greenhouse gas concentrations. He also points out that for all practical purposes the oceans are an essentially infinite source of water vapor. Which means that AGW simply cannot happen. And fretting about an increase in the partial pressure of atmospheric CO2 is nothing more than an unnecessary distraction designed to make us fear that coming warming it is supposed to bring.

Rhoda R
June 7, 2010 10:14 am

“The termites beat us hands down.
“According to the journal Science (Nov. 5, 1982), termites alone emit ten times more carbon dioxide than all the factories and automobiles in the world. ” Ha! That’s where all the extra CO2 is coming from — the termites in the south having a field day since air condidtioning made living there viable.
Actually, I have a bit of a problem: All this CO2 rising seems to be post 1950 but the industrial age started in the early 1800’s. Parts of England, France, Poland and Germany were covered in soot from the coke and steel production by the 1870’s and the US was ramping up to speed in Pennsylvania but the increases shown n the charts don’t reflect this. Since the 1960’s on, manufacturing has become cleaner with scrubbers, etc – even with China and India. The biggest change that can see to human fuel useage that follows the CO2 usage charts is the automobile.

Steve Fitzpatrick
June 7, 2010 10:14 am

toho says:
June 7, 2010 at 9:43 am
“No, Nick. Exponential decay towards an increasing equilibrium level would need a smaller time constant for the observed rate of sequestration, not a larger one.”
Yup. that is exactly right. Depending on what level of CO2 from land use change you believe (Willis is taking a high value), the decay constant ranges from about 31 years to about 43 years (if you believe a much lower land use contribution, as several recent studies suggest). In any case, the IPCC projections of CO2 decay rates are way to low.

Chris G
June 7, 2010 10:19 am

Overall, a reasonable posting.
A few thoughts:
“Now, how can we determine if it is actually the case that we are looking at exponential decay of the added CO2? One way is to compare it to what a calculated exponential decay would look like.”
This presumes there is only one sink, and that it is infinite, as another commenter noted. There are multiple sinks, of limited capacity, acting on different timescales. What Willis has captured is most likely the upper 700m of the ocean, a fast acting sink, as is well known by the already apparent rise in carbon content of this volume. If a sink is fast acting, it is likely to reach an equilibrium point quickly; so, expecting the same rate of decay into the future is problematic.
under “Issue 3. 12C and 13C carbon isotopes”
I think Willis is making the mistake of thinking of CO2 absorption by the ocean as a one-way trip. A decent analogy is to imagine a host of tennis players knocking green balls to each other; the balls are CO2 molecules and the net is the boundary between water and air. The court is littered with balls. If you dump a bunch of orange balls onto one side, they don’t simply ‘decay’ to the other side; in a little while, an equilibrium is reached where there are orange and green balls on both sides.
@Slioch:
“the reaction whereby CO2 is most readily absorbed is NOT by simple reaction with water”
I would expect that CO2 would have to be absorbed by the water before it could react with the other chemicals in the water. How much gas is absorbed in water is largely a function of temperature and relative concentrations; no chemical reaction is required there. What you have shown is better labeled as how an increase in CO2 content leads to a decrease in pH, rather than as how CO2 is absorbed.
Ian H,
“I find it interesting that the sequestration rate seems to be getting larger – it is trending above the exponential line. ”
That’s about the opposite of how I see the graph. Looking at the end points and the rate of change of the slopes, calculated airborne is less than actual airborne, and calculated absorbed is higher than actual absorbed. I suspect Willis had to tweak the decay rate vary carefully in order to be able to overlap the curves without the differences between the rates of change (and the rates of change of the rates of change) (derivative and second derivative for those familiar with calculus) being readily apparent.

JPeden
June 7, 2010 10:19 am

“Richard S Courtney says:
June 7, 2010 at 2:43 am”
Many thanks for your detailed schema!

Phil's Dad
June 7, 2010 10:19 am

Double or quits!
Someone mentioned that there was not enough economically accessible fossil fuel left in the world to produce a doubling of CO2 levels. Maybe not even enough to double it against pre-industrial levels. That is a pretty important statement as CAGW scenarios pretty much rely on that doubling. A response to that was that out gassing had plenty to spare. This post seems to say don’t hold your breath. What are the facts?
Oil
Global proved oil reserves in 2008 fell by 3 billion barrels to 1,258 billion barrels, 0r 52.836 trillion US gallons with an R/P (reserves-to-production) ratio of 42 years.
(http://green-energysaving.com/carbon-emissions/how-much-oil-is-left-in-the-world-when-will-oil-run-out/)
(http://www.bp.com/sectiongenericarticle.do?categoryId=9023769&contentId=7044915)
Gas
Global proved reserves of natural gas in 2008 were 185.02 trillion cubic meters or roughly 6,500 trillion cubic feet with an R/P ratio of 63.1 years.
(http://www.carboncounted.co.uk/when-will-fossil-fuels-run-out.html)
(http://green-energysaving.com/carbon-emissions/fossil-fuels/how-much-natural-gas-is-left-in-the-world-when-will-natural-gas-run-out/)
(http://www.bp.com/sectiongenericarticle.do?categoryId=9023779&contentId=7044843)
Coal
World Energy Council 2007 global coal reserves was 847 billion tonnes. BP’s 2008 total estimate was 826 billion tonnes with an R/P ratio of 122*. Roughly half of this is sub-bituminous and lignite.
(But Prof. David Rutledge, chair of Engineering and Applied Science at the California Institute of Technology applied the “Hubbert linearization method” to today’s major coal-producing countries, including the US, China, Russia, India, Australia and South Africa. Hubbert linearisation suggests that future coal production will amount to around 450 billion tonnes – little more than half the official reserves.
Although most academics and officials reject the idea out of hand, over the past 20 years, even official reserves have fallen by more than 170 billion tonnes even though production is only 6 billion tonnes per year. 50 billion has “disappeared” from the official estimates – 20 billion between 2007 and 2008.
In February 2007, the European Commission’s Institute for Energy reported that the reserves-to-production (R/P) ratio had dropped by more than a third between 2000 and 2005, from 277 year’s worth to just 155. By 2008 this was 122.
*The world coal institute notes however that recent falls in the R/P ratio can be attributed to the lack of incentives to prove up reserves, rather than a lack of coal resources. Exploration activity is typically carried out by mining companies with short planning horizons rather than state-funded geological surveys. There is no economic need for companies to prove long-term reserves.)

(http://green-energysaving.com/carbon-emissions/fossil-fuels/how-much-coal-is-left-in-the-world-when-will-coal-run-out/)
(http://www.davidstrahan.com/blog/?p=116)
(http://www.worldcoal.org/coal/where-is-coal-found/)
(http://www.bp.com/sectiongenericarticle.do?categoryId=9023784&contentId=7044480)
Summary of world fossil fuel resources
For our purposes I will take the highest figures to arrive at the highest achievable levels of CO2. So 1,258 billion barrels of oil, 6,500 billion cubic feet of gas, 413 billion tonnes of “black” coal and 413 billion of “brown” coal.
The combined liquid fuels from an average barrel of crude oil will produce a minimum of 317kg of CO2 when consumed. (http://numero57.net/2008/03/20/carbon-dioxide-emissions-per-barrel-of-crude/)
So we get 398,786 billion Kg of CO2 from all known oil reserves
1000 cubic feet of Gas will results in between 115lb – 120lb of carbon dioxide depending on the temperature at which the cubic feet were measured.
(http://cdiac.ornl.gov/pns/faq.html)
(http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/1605/coefficients.html)
Let’s stick to our rule of taking the worst case. We get 6.5 billion X 120lbs or 780 billion lbs of CO2. That is just less than 354 billion kg from gas.
Best quality anthracite produces 2.84 times its own weight in CO2 falling to lignite at only 1.4 times its own weight.
(http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/coal/quarterly/co2_article/co2.html)
Coal type CO2 lbs per short ton
Anthracite AC 5685.00
Bituminous BC 4931.30
Subbituminous SB 3715.90
Lignite LC 2791.60
(http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/1605/coefficients.html)
(The short ton is a U.S. unit of weight equal to 2,000 pounds. For the most part this post uses metric tonnes = 1000 kgs – it is noted when otherwise)
For our calculation we will again apply our worst case rule and say all black coal is Anthracite and all brown coal is sub-bituminous. 413 billion X 2.84 = 1,173 billion tonnes plus 413 X 1.86 = 768 billion tonnes. 1,941 billion tonnes in all or (big number alert!) 1,941,000 billion kg of CO2 from all known coal reserves.
The coal number makes the oil and gas figures look like a minor problem. “Oil and gas by themselves don’t have enough carbon to keep us in the dangerous zone [of global warming] for very long,” said Pushker Kharecha, a scientist and colleague of Hansen at NASA GISS. http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2008/12/oil-not-the-cli/#ixzz0q7dazJcf You can kind of see where J Hansen’s death trains are coming from. Sorry –sorry, wash my mouth out etc. Anyhoo!
Total CO2 from burning all known fossil fuel reserves would be 2,340,140 billion kgs. Loads! – but what is that in p.p.m. of the total atmosphere? Well…
The weight of the Earth’s atmosphere is 441,000 billion x 10 = 4.41 million billion (long) tons. Or 4,480,000 billion metric tonnes.
(http://www.hydrogen.co.uk/h2_now/journal/articles/2_global_warming.htm)
2340.140 / 4,480,000 = 522p.p.m.
So yes it could more than double CO2 levels.
Except that only 40% of that will stay in the atmosphere for any meaningful length of time. A constant unchanging 40% by the way. Knorr, W. (2009), Is the airborne fraction of anthropogenic CO2 emissions increasing?, Geophys. Res. Lett., 36, L21710, doi:10.1029 / 2009GL040613.
(http://wattsupwiththat.files.wordpress.com/2009/11/knorr2009_co2_sequestration.pdf)
This reduces the potential CO2 from burning all known reserves of fossil fuel to just 208 p.p.m. beyond where we are now.
Given what Willis Eschenbach tells us here about natural out gassing, that is about another 45 p.p.m. to come. 253 p.p.m. in all?
Even if the IPCC are right about 3degC per doubling that means we would struggle to find 2degC of warming left in fossil fuels and “feedback” out gassing combined.
And…relax

Ian W
June 7, 2010 10:23 am

Here is a Null Hypothesis:
When air is trapped in snow which over decades becomes trapped by more snow and buried in ice below the firn, the CO2 in the trapped air diffuses initially into the snow layer then into the ice below the firn such that a steady state concentration balance of CO2 in the ‘bubbles’ is reached after several centuries of diffusion in both directions.
Until this hypothesis is disproved all ice core proxies should be treated with extreme caution. Especially as the results from ice cores run so counter to the results from stomata counts after all fossilized plants are used for temperature proxies.
(some studies of diffusion have been done see: CO2 diffusion in polar ice: observations from naturally formed CO2 spikes in the Siple Dome (Antarctica) ice core
Jinho AHN, Melissa HEADLY, Martin WAHLEN, Edward J. BROOK,
Paul A. MAYEWSKI, Kendrick C. TAYLOR).. Shows diffusion in the firn as well as in the ice.

Allen63
June 7, 2010 10:23 am

My issue is with figure one ice core data. I am very skeptical that all the core data readings gave exactly the same CO2 measurement (plus or minus a few ppm). I feel assumptions have been made leading to the result shown in the figure. That is, the ice core data as interpreted by current science may not be an accurate representation of ancient CO2.
1. I imagine the readings were averaged, and I imagine that the estimated dates ascribed to each reading were off by decades — centuries for more ancient data. This could lead to a seeming constant CO2 — when actually there was considerable variability.
2. CO2 trapped in ice may not be entirely trapped. It could diffuse in ice over the centuries — again averaging out large gains and losses with the same effect as item 1.
3. I imagine the ice core CO2 “measurement” was not precisely 270ppm (or whatever) in all 8 cores — possibly in no core. Rather, the readings were quite different. Then, “Kentucky windage” was applied by adding or subtracting an amount from the “level” CO2 ppm to make ice core readings coincide with recent historical atmospheric measurements. This is circular reasoning — “we can adjust old values to today’s values because CO2 has not changed until recently”. Thus, the “perfect hockey stick shape” — is based on assumption and circular reasoning.
4. I have never seen proof that actual CO2 levels in ice cores are literally invariant over centuries or on a millennial scale. That is, the amount initially trapped may not be the amount currently in the ice. This not the same concern as item 2 (but may seem similar). So, a measurement taken today from 1000 or 10000 year old ice may not be representative of the CO2 amount originally trapped in the ice. No, there is just an amount of CO2 present today — its correlation to the amount initially present a thousand years ago is not a proven fact — it is an assumption.
Hence, if we do not really know the past history of CO2 (some folks make assumptions about it, but do not really know), then we can’t be confident about what processes are raising CO2 now.
If we are being asked to change our lifestyles and pay out trillions in new taxes to prevent CO2, we need much stronger evidence.

Pofarmer
June 7, 2010 10:24 am

A number of published studies suggest that between about one fifth and one third of a pulse of CO2 would remain in the atmosphere for long periods, only being eventually removed over millennia as the slow weathering of rocks delivers more CO3– to the oceans.
Those studies completely discount the rest of the biosphere.

DirkH
June 7, 2010 10:29 am

” Joe Lalonde says:
June 7, 2010 at 4:23 am
Willis,
I enjoy these mind manipulation response games so, here goes.[…]”
Somehow this turned me off from reading the rest of whatever Joe Lalonde had to say…

Chris G
June 7, 2010 10:37 am

Lastly, regarding the abstract of the Nature article,
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v279/n5710/abs/279229a0.html
Farmer 1979.
(Think we may have learned a bit more since then?)
The mismatch of the amounts predicted by a simple calculation of the anthro sources and the amounts observed would be consistent with idea that CO2 tends to be released by the biosphere when the temperature increases. This would fit the historical records where CO2 appears to be a positive feedback on Milankovitch cycles. This fits with the swings in climate being larger than the forcings of the cycles. So, in the present day, CO2 could be it’s own positive feedback. (No, there is no run-away, but that’s too long to explain here.)

Charles Higley
June 7, 2010 10:38 am

1) To be thorough, Beck’s research and data have to included here. Geocarb’s 600 million year graph should also be included. The impression given is that only man can change CO2.
2) It is highly unlikely that CO2 would be so consistent over time, volcanoes and warm/cold spells would definitely have an influence – man might, too. As with climate, CO2 would be constantly varying with the conditions.
3) Why is it ignored totally that the Mauna Loa data and ice core only “agree” because the ice core data was time shifted (artificially/fraudulently?) 84 years into the future? In my book, this horrendously poisons the resulting graph which melds two vastly different data sets.
4) As mentioned by others, Jaworowski has pointed out that ice core CO2 measurements CANNOT be interpreted as absolute—there is just too much trauma involved in taking cores. Although I usually agree with most articles presented here, I think that taking ice cores as sources of absolute CO2 data is a major failing of the discussion in this article.

James Sexton
June 7, 2010 10:52 am

@ Doug Proctor
“1850 is used as one reference point, though 1945 and 1975 are also used.”
Yep! I use this as a “tell”! It’s bad enough the referenced time periods are arbitrary and have no real reasoning behind the picking of the time periods, but they’re entirely different time periods! The 1850 is for CO2 or industrialization even though man started to industrialize well before 1850 and made greater CO2 emissions well after 1850. The ’45-’75 seems to be somebodies idea of an ideal climate. I’ve never been allowed to vote for which time period I preferred. Even if CO2 and temps had a direct correlation, it wouldn’t be appropriate to include them in the same references unless the posit is CO2 emissions lag to effect temps is about 100 years. Which, the lag thing never made much sense to me. CO2 emissions are immediate. So, too, is the re-radiative properties of CO2, unless some can tell me how it takes x amount of time to train CO2 to become a greenhouse gas. Or perhaps it takes so long for the CO2 to bounce the energy back to earth from the enormous altitude of 10 km.
Pop quiz!! Does anyone know how much of the energy absorbed by tropospheric CO2 is radiated back down to the earth by percent? I’ve always assumed 50%, but I don’t know that either.

Richard S Courtney
June 7, 2010 11:06 am

Friends:
I write to dispute an assertion made by several people here that determiation of the cause of the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 is a trivial matter not worthy of investigation. Perhaps this assertion was best stated by Ernesto Araujo (June 7, 2010 at 7:15 am) who wrote:
“The debate about what causes CO2 concentration in the atmosphere is pointless. What matters is: does the increase in CO2 concentration cause warming? The whole thing is about Global Warming, not about CO2 concentration. To indicate that CO2 increase causes warming, you would need to present a curve where temperature oscillations match CO2 concentration, and that curve clearly does not exist for the last 1000 years, nor for the last 150 years.”
This assertion is wrong on two counts; viz. theoretical and practical.
Michael Faraday gave a clear answer to the theoretical point when the then UK Prime Minister asked him what use Farady had for his work on electical induction. Farday replied that he knew of no use for his work but he was confident that somebody would find a use for it someday. Well, “somebody” did, and nobody could be reading this if “somebody” had not.
And the practical point is directly pertinent to the argument put by Ernesto Araujo and others. The hypothesis of anthropogenic global warming (AGW) is being used as justification for amending energy, industrial and economic policies world-wide. But that hypothesis is founded on three assumptions: viz
(1) It is assumed that the anthropogenic CO2 emission is the major cause of the increasing atmospheric CO2 concentration
and
(2) It is assumed that the increasing atmospheric CO2 concentration is significantly increasing radiative forcing
and
(3) It is assumed that the increasing radiative forcing will significantly increase mean global temperature.
There are reasons to doubt each of these assumptions. But if any one of them were known to be false then the entire AGW hypothesis would be known to be false.
Perhaps the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration is anthropogenic, but it would seem injudicious to disrupt energy, industrial and economic policies on the basis of an assumption that the rise is anthropogenic.
Richard

barry moore
June 7, 2010 11:06 am

An interesting article Willis unfortunately it is full of errors and contradictions, these may have already been pointed out but I have not had time to read all the posts.
First the history of CO2 concentration in the atmosphere. The ice core samples are not the only proxy but all other proxies are noticeably ignored. Regarding the ice core data I recommend J J Drake’s paper “A Simple Method to in ice core data.” A few of the key points, below a certain level all the gasses are dissolved in the ice due to the pressure there are no gas bubbles. The solubility of the gasses are very different thus CO2 is absorbed quicker than the other gasses even in the firn. The CO2 migrates in the ice and some gets locked into calthrates, this CO2 does not get released during the crushing process. From the isotopic analysis of the O18 the H2O and the CO2 can have a difference in age of up to 7000 years and there is a correlation between the age difference and the measured concentration of CO2.
I would also like to recommend Dr. Tim Ball’s paper “Measurement of Pre Industrial CO2 Levels”. This shows the 500 million year history of CO2 and global temperatures which clearly indicates zero correlation between CO2 and temperature.
Most ice cores will cover from 100 years to 1000 years in a single core so they are at best a general average thus they can not be compared to daily samples taken with state of the art analytical equipment. The leaf stomata proxy however is a much more precise indicator of the CO2 content in the atmosphere in the year the leaf grew, carbon dating is quite accurate since the half life is around 5300 years for C14. The leaf stomata evidence shows how erroneous and misleading the ice cores are.
Now we turn to the carbon cycle reference IPCC AR4 section 7.3.1. In engineering there is a basic calculation called a mass balance, now try to apply some of these basic principles to Fig 7.3, If the air contains 597 GT of natural and 165 GT of anthropogenic CO2 then the ratio dissolving in the oceans and being absorbed by the biota should be in this ratio. What do we have, a ratio of 70 t0 22.2 by the ocean ( close) and 120 to 2.6 by the biota ????? Now when the water in the surface of the oceans evaporate we have 900 to 18 in the liquid water but 70.6 to 20 when it evaporates, now this is really getting strange.
Then we have 244 GT of fossil fuel carbon released all time by human activity but 100 GT is already sequestered in the deep ocean leaving 144 between the air ocean and biota, but look there is 169 GT in the air alone, this is what I would term political math. The make up is the minus 140 anthropogenic in the land which I assume is CO2 released by land use, if this is the case it must be shown as a flux since this carbon is not anthropogenic created but it is released by human activity there is a 1.6 GT flux shown but how can this account for 140 GT?? Now there is a 119.6 flux caused by respiration but where is the anthropogenic component.
I created a simple mass balance program using the figure values for carbon content where possible and the iteration with all ratios balanced in both directions leads to a 2.4 year residence time for all CO2 in the atmosphere and the total CO2 content was adjusted to 860 GT to bring the figure up to data of which 79.9 G which gives 34.3 ppm as the human impact even taking the generous number of .004 deg C per ppm this yields an impact of 0.14 deg C on the global climate.
Let us now consider your evaluation of residence time and half life here I am afraid you get very confused “The strength of the exponential decay is usually measured as the amount of time it takes for the pulse to decay to half its original value (half-life) or to 1/e (0.37) of its original value (e-folding time).” How on earth can half its value be 0.37 of the same value? more political math?
There is only one half life or residence time and if you cut something in half enough times it becomes insignificant but it never reaches zero and that is where the IPCC nonsense comes from. The estimate of 6 to 8 years for the half life is high and does not agree with the most recent research. I think the average is about 5 years but by mass balance calculation it is 2.4. Your number of 211 GT per year of carbon flux yields a half life of aproximately 4 years for an atmospheric content of 860 GT. I believe the cycle is much higher than 211 GT per year, check the seasonal variation in the NH levels of CO2 due to just the annual vegitation and you start to get a picture of how large the biota uptake is.

June 7, 2010 11:08 am

Are you crazy? Only a fool would believe these deniers and warmists and econazis with their base motives.
Seriously though, great post, really elucidated the topic nicely for me.

June 7, 2010 11:23 am

J. Bob @9:34 a.m.,
Interestingly, your charts look like this one. They generally seem to begin rising around 1900.

Will F
June 7, 2010 11:25 am

Willis
are you saying that there is 2,460.15 billion tons of co2 in the atmosphere?
I have not been able to find a figure above 750 billion tons for co2.

Richard S Courtney
June 7, 2010 11:33 am

Ian H:
At (June 7, 2010 at 9:08 am) you ask:
“Anyone who doesn’t think the CO_2 rise is due to human beings should explain where all that CO_2 we have emitted actually went if not into the atmosphere.”
But your question has been answered in two different ways above.
I answered it at (June 7, 2010 at 2:43 am) where I explained that the anthropogenic emission enters the carbon cycle.
And at (June 7, 2010 at 6:18 am) Steve Keohane explained that the anthropogenic emission gets lost in the error terms of the estimates of natural emissions.
These two different answers amount to alternative views of the same effect.
Until somebody can provide a sufficiently accurate measure of all the sources and sinks for the anthropogenic emission then those who “think” the CO2 rise has an anthropogenic cause need to answer the question as to why they “think” that.
I want to know if the cause of the recent rise is anthropogenic in part or in whole. The anthropogenic emission could be the cause of the rise, but consideration of the carbon cycle suggests that the anthropognic emission is irrelevant to the cause of the recent rise (please see my post at June 7, 2010 at 2:43 am for an explanation of this).
Richard

Bart
June 7, 2010 11:34 am

The problem with this chart is that you are arbitrarily assuming one type of exponential decay for the anthropogenic component of CO2, and implicitly an entirely other, and faster, one for natural CO2. Aside from extremely minor isotopic distribution differences, nature essentially cannot tell the two molecules apart.
If you apply the same time constant to the much larger portion of naturally generated CO2, you will quickly find the atmosphere almost entirely composed of CO2. The only way to square this would be to hypothesize that the CO2 reservoir is saturating, and becoming less able to absorb the new, anthropogenically generated CO2. But, if that were the case, the yearly variations in CO2 you see in the MLO and other records would be progressively increasing in amplitude and warped. Instead, they are very regular for the past 50 years.
The isotopic ratio question is entirely speculative and, as others have noted and as has been dramatically demonstrated in the Mann-made temperature hockey stick, the grafting of proxy data onto measured data is highly questionable. So, overall, you have questionable evidence supporting an implausible hypothesis. There can be no doubt that the CO2 rise is mostly natural, it will eventually falter, and then researchers will actually start to look for what really caused it.

James Sexton
June 7, 2010 11:35 am

@ Steven mosher
Well, he did splice……:-)
As far as germane, if the question was simply do we have more CO2 today than 150 yrs ago, then no, they aren’t very germane. However, today, any mention of CO2 has an implicit connection to a myriad of topics while I’m left to wonder how a discussion on CO2 is germane to anything other than photosynthesis.

Bart
June 7, 2010 11:48 am

One other thing that I feel a need to vent on: the question of whether to call AGW advocates “warmists”. “Warmist” is awfully tame compared to “denier”. “Denier” is clearly an intentional reference to Holocaust deniers, and should be offensive to every thinking man and woman on Earth.
The History channel and other cable channels have been showcasing retrospectives on WWII for the past couple of weeks, what with Memorial Day and D-Day remembrances. My wife and I watched the episode of “The World at War” focusing on the concentration camps just the other night. I can barely see straight when I contemplate these jerks popping off about “deniers” and recall the unimaginable barbarity of the Nazis which we were reminded of again that night. I would urge you to delete any posts snarking off about “deniers” immediately and without qualification.

FrankS
June 7, 2010 11:49 am

Not quite answering Willis’s question but James’s comment to Roy Spencers blog entry sums up extremly well the relative control on volumes of CO2 that AGW believers want to implement.
Blog here – http://www.drroyspencer.com/2010/06/warming-in-last-50-years-predicted-by-natural-climate-cycles

James Davidson says:
June 6, 2010 at 11:01 AM
CO2 levels in 1890 were 290 ppmv. ( Siple ice core.) Current levels ( Mauna Loa ) are 388 ppmv ( round it up to 390 ppmv ) for an increase of 100 ppmv over the last 120 years. The mistake a lot of people seem to make is to treat these as whole numbers, instead of what they are- the numerators of fractions. In 1890 CO2 constituted 290 millionths of the atmosphere, and this has now risen to 390 millionths of the atmosphere – an increase of 100 millionths. To express this as a fraction, multiply by 100, for an answer of 0.01%. If someone in 1890 had decided that CO2 levels should be kept constant and had succeeded 120 years later to within one hundredth of one percent, they would think they had done pretty darn well. I really cannot believe that such a small increase can have had ANY effect on global warming, and as Dr Spencer has shown, natural variation is a more likely candidate.

Willis calculations assume that with the exception of sequestration the effect from the natural world is largely static or at least much smaller. With man’s fossil fuel contribution being only1/24 of the volume produced by nature (Ian Plimer P180 man nearly 4%, Oceans nearly 60% and animal nearly 40%) it would only take a small change there to swamp and invalidate Willis’s calculations. And we know that in the past from ice core data that CO2 has generally changed with a 800 year time lag on temperature so it is extremely unlikely to have been static during this period.
So to propose controlling CO2 levels “to within one hundredth of one percent” with natures vastly larger variable input – how reasonable is that.

Honest ABE
June 7, 2010 11:58 am

My understanding is that most CO2 is produced from the decay of organic matter. Would increasing temperatures accelerate this process? Would the millions of miles of roads, often concrete or gravel, create local heating effects to do the same? These local heating effects, producers of CO2 (my assumption), would have a greater effect from locations that are rather cold like cities in Russia and such land use changes may produce isotopic signatures similar to fossil fuel use due to old/frozen plant matter finally having a chance to decay and release their ancient CO2.
Just some thoughts. Cheers.

DirkH
June 7, 2010 12:00 pm

” Steinar Midtskogen says:
June 7, 2010 at 6:59 am
Humans are most certainly the cause of the recent CO2 increase. A simple graph comparing CO2 with the population should offer an important hint:
http://voksenlia.net/met/co2/pop.jpg

Why should the number of humans be proportional to the CO2 concentration? If anything, the number of humans would have to be proportional to the differential of the CO2 concentration. Or do you posit a magical amount of CO2 in the air per living human individual? How should that work?

Al Gored
June 7, 2010 12:03 pm

“Given all of the issues discussed above, I say humans are responsible for the change in atmospheric CO2 … but… please be aware that I don’t think that the change in CO2 will make any meaningful difference to the temperature.”
OK. I would say it slightly differently: Given all of the issues discussed above, I say humans are responsible for some of the change in atmospheric CO2 … but… please be aware that I don’t think that the change in CO2 will make any meaningful difference to the temperature.
Love your rules Willis!

DirkH
June 7, 2010 12:04 pm

” barry moore says:
[…]
Let us now consider your evaluation of residence time and half life here I am afraid you get very confused “The strength of the exponential decay is usually measured as the amount of time it takes for the pulse to decay to half its original value (half-life) or to 1/e (0.37) of its original value (e-folding time).” How on earth can half its value be 0.37 of the same value? more political math?”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E-folding

phlogiston
June 7, 2010 12:07 pm

Bart says:
June 7, 2010 at 11:34 am
… Aside from extremely minor isotopic distribution differences, nature essentially cannot tell the two molecules apart.
Are you sure – where are your figures? As the Iranian nuclear industry is learning, isotopes of different mass do behave differently on the basis of that difference – it is not impossible for heavier C13 to settle faster than C12. This would put a spanner in the works. (“Extremely minor” – 8.3% mass difference, not quite insignificant.)

Tim
June 7, 2010 12:10 pm

Is there any ocean floor core samples that show CO2? I ask this because there are 50+ sites for those and only 8 for ice cores. It would be nice to see a larger group if we are talking about world wide levels as opposed to localized ones. The recently online CO2 satellite does show that CO2 is not evenly distributed.

Arfur
June 7, 2010 12:11 pm

Thank you Willis for a balanced and informative article.
I agree that the balance of evidence suggests that mankind is responsible for most of the measured rise in CO2 since 1850, although I also agree with other posters that the proxy measurements prior to 1850 are not necessarily accurate for comparison with modern measurements.
But I do have a problem with the connection with increased CO2 and increased warming (particularly of the catastrophic kind). Can someone help me out here problem because my scientific knowledge is seemingly lacking on the following reasoning:
CO2 exists at less than 400ppmbv in the atmosphere (in fact, I believe ALL the GGs which have a ‘radiative forcing’ factor as described by the IPCC) exist at less than 400ppmbv. To my logic, therefore, each GG molecule capable of radiating is surrounded by approximately 2500 molecules of ‘greenhouse-inert’ N2, O2 molecules or Ar atoms. The fact that CO2 can re-radiate having absorbed LW radiation is well-known, but – and here is the main point of my confusion – simply re-radiating does not directly infer significant warming. The radiation has to be absorbed by another molecule capable of absorbing radiation and then that molecule must transfer heat by conduction to its neighbouring molecules. Given that air is a poor conductor, how is it possible that one GG molecule can conduct enough heat to enough neighbouring molecules to create a catastrophic warming? I agree a very small amount of warming is likely, but the mechanism surely has to be conduction, not radiation, and the number of neighbouring molecules which can warm by conduction must be small.
I am probably missing something important here, so could someone please advise?
Obviously I have ignored water vapour but then it is not included as a GG when it comes to radiative forcing, and I still find it hard to believe that a GG concentration of 400ppm will have that much effect even with the wv feedback.

Editor
June 7, 2010 12:13 pm

The history of the last 10,000 years clearly tells us that -despite Dr Mann’s work-the climate goes up and down like a yo yo. It has at times been rather warmer than today and at times much colder. If Co2 has been constant throughout this period it has surely been a very weak climate driver. We need to be told why it has now changed its characteristics and become a much more powerful climate driver in the modern era compared to the past.
The only other credible scenario is that-as would be expected- CO2 does fluctuate in some sort of reflection of the warm and cold periods the Earth experiences as oceans outgas or absorb it. What seems likely, if this alternative scenario is correct, is that the proxies-primarily ice cores-are not an accurate reflection of real world CO2 levels.
There is far too much evidence of warmer and colder times to believe that Dr Mann is correct and that his barely fluctuating temperature scenario can be set neatly besides a similarly flat co2 concentration.
So in conclusion either CO2 is, at best, a weak climate component, or that past levels have not been accurately recorded by ice cores. In either scenario surely CO2 is merely responding to the climate that preceded it, not causing it.
Tonyb

Gail Combs
June 7, 2010 12:17 pm

Oslo says:
June 7, 2010 at 3:53 am
Well, as you say – your first graph resembles the Mann hockey stick, and perhaps for good reason, as it seems to utilize the good old “trick” – splicing the instrumental record onto the proxy data.
Here is another graph, clearly showing the instrumental data (red) disjointed from the proxies:
http://www.geo.cornell.edu/eas/energy/_Media/ice_core_co2.png
So the question is, as with the hockey stick: do the figures from the two methods even belong on the same graph?
_________________________________________________________________________
Thank you for that graph. What I see as interesting is the many data points below 200 ppm. Some as low as about 170 or 180 PPM. At these levels some types of plants have great difficulty growing and reproducing. Do we have evidence of massive plant die offs to substantiate the ice core numbers?
At 180 ppm to 200 ppm C3 plants (trees) would have a very difficult time competing with C4 plants (grasses) and could not complete their life cycles especially in warmer or drought (ice age) conditions. Low levels of CO2 also leads to leaf loss to conserve moisture and slow rates of growth in C3 and C4 plants. A history of atmospheric CO2 and its effects on plants, animals, and ecosystems
By J. R. Ehleringer,

Elephants eat trees, that is why they developed trunks. So what did mastodons and woolly mammoths eat?
elephants:
* Spend 16 to 18 hours a day either feeding or moving toward a source of food or water.
* Consume between 130 to 660 pounds (60 to 300 kg) of food each day.
* Drink between 16 to 40 gallons (60 to 160 l) of water per day.
* Produce between 310 to 400 pounds (140 to 180 kg) of dung per day.
mastodons and mammoths:
…mammoths had ridged molars, primarily for grazing on grasses, mastodon molars had blunt, cone-shaped cusps for browsing on trees and shrubs. Mastodons were smaller than mammoths, reaching about ten feet at the shoulder, and their tusks were straighter and more parallel. Mastodons were about the size of modern elephants,
From the preserved dung of Columbian mammoths found in a Utah cave, a mammoth’s diet consisted primarily of grasses, sedges, and rushes. Just 5% included saltbush wood and fruits, cactus fragments, sagebrush wood, water birch, and blue spruce. So, though primarily a grazer, the Columbian mammoth did a bit of browsing as well. Mammoths
And how about the Giant Sloth
“The giant ground sloth was one of the enormous creatures that thrived during the ice ages. Looking a little bit like an oversized hamster it probably fed on leaves found on the lower branches of trees or bushes. The largest of these ground sloths was Megatherium which grew to the size of a modern elephant with a weight over five tons.
Giant Sloths had very large, dangerous-looking claws. Despite their size they were probably only used to strip leaves or bark from plants. Their teeth were small and blunt in keeping with their herbivore diet. Examinations of their hip bones suggests that they could stand on their hind legs to extend their grazing as high as twenty feet.

How could these creatures be eating trees when the CO2 levels were at 180 ppm and trees were all but extinct? For that matter given browsing pressure and problems with growing enough to produce seed why didn’t trees become completely extinct? like this?

DirkH
June 7, 2010 12:22 pm

” Juraj V. says:
[…]
Today, the rate of CO2 rise plays well with SST data.
http://climate4you.com/images/CO2%20MaunaLoa%20Last12months-previous12monthsGrowthRateSince1958.gif1998 El Nino is clearly visible, also La Nina and volcanic eruptions. But strange that 2007 La Nina is not visible. More, as oceans start to cool, the rate of rise stabilizes.

That’s a beautiful illustration of what Beenstock & Reingewertz found out – that the temperature anomaly can not be (Granger-)caused by the level of CO2 but only by the differential of the CO2 level, if at all.
The thread about their paper is here:
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/02/14/new-paper-on/

Björn
June 7, 2010 12:23 pm

There is no doubt in my mind that the CO2 measurements from Mauna Loa and other stations of the same type around the world the are solid, and that the steady exponential rise is they show directly are related human activity one way or another the most likely causes being the that of land use change and a fossil fuel burning used in our somewhat antique power generation technology. I also accept the ice core data as good proxy for the baseline ~280 ppmv CO2 pre-industrial atmospheric concentration, I just little pussled by th small variation (+/- 2ppmv I belive) it shows for the last 2000 years or ,beforehan I would have thougt we should see greater variations, so there is a wisp of a suspion that maybe we are missing something essential there, but ist not very strong or well founded.
But what prompted my comment here was this part of a comment from Ian Hayes
…” I find it interesting that the sequestration rate seems to be getting larger – it is trending above the exponential line.” ….
It reminded me that I had somtime back in time come across a ( now slightly aged it is a critique of some part in the IPCC AR3 report rather than the latest and now much ridiculed AR4) paper by Dr. Jarl Ahlbeck at the (late) John Daly’s website
the link is here , Alhbeck : CO2 Sink 1970-2000…
http://www.john-daly.com/ahlbeck/ahlbeck.htm
It’s an anlysis of resent past and a future forcasting exercise for atmospheric CO2 concentration attributable to human activity, the math is nothing exotic and easy to work through , and I at least can find no fault with it.
What struck me was his his result that the fraction of human CO2 emission ending up in the athmosphere for each year had gone down from either 52% to 39% or 69% to 49% depending on whether the figure for land use change estimate is included in total emission or not.
If he is right and this is not an a spurious signal somehow related to the data from 1970-2000 period that he is using but a the there is a large CO2 sink unaccounted for in the UN dream models eating up an ever larger slice of anthropogenic emission, an he project that the airborne fraction would go down below 20 % by year 2100.
I just wonder what could this sink be , if it exists

DirkH
June 7, 2010 12:27 pm

” Bart says:
June 7, 2010 at 11:34 am
The problem with this chart is that you are arbitrarily assuming one type of exponential decay for the anthropogenic component of CO2, and implicitly an entirely other, and faster, one for natural CO2. Aside from extremely minor isotopic distribution differences, nature essentially cannot tell the two molecules apart. ”
Plants can: “Carbon 13 is also a stable isotope, but plants prefer Carbon 12 ”
from
http://environmentalchemistry.com/yogi/environmental/200611CO2globalwarming.html

Brian D
June 7, 2010 12:28 pm

What is the estimated intake versus outtake of carbon in the oceans at the varying SST’s? From 0C to 30C, what are the ratios in tonnes every 1C?

KDK
June 7, 2010 12:31 pm

Martin says:
“Although it would be interesting to know how much (globally) fermentation produces.”….
I challenge warmists to actually live their nonsense by giving up ALL, yes ALL, carbonated beverages. why? Because they are a major source of useless CO2 being ‘freed’ in our system. Millions of bottles an hour being opened must have some effect, and since they are a LUXURY, not a necessity of life, then those most concerned would gladly give up their drink–not a day, or week, but forever. If not, then they are just bandwagoneers on for the ride with little belief in their own ‘belief’.
Try it. Figure it out. To warmists, ALL luxury items contributing must shut down. I guarantee you with all that I am, very few, would give up a beer, or coke, or spritzer for their cause. You will know them by their actions.
Just how much CO2 is released? I don’t know, but EVERY bottle opened is a needless addition in their mind… or should be.

Hockeystickler
June 7, 2010 12:35 pm

Willis – AGW supporter sounds like a jock strap and AGW believer sounds like a cult member ; I personally prefer Alarmist. It has been my experience that people that consistently preach doom and gloom are consistently wrong : e.g. Paul Ehrlich.

Billy Liar
June 7, 2010 12:39 pm

Dave Springer says:
June 7, 2010 at 9:22 am
‘You see, starting with the Clean Air Act of 1963 the US has dramatically reduced the amount of soot it pumps into the atmosphere. No other country in the world has come close to matching that effort. ‘
I disagree. The UK’s Clean Air Act dates from 1956. The fall of the Berlin Wall and the transformation of the former USSR did much the same for vaste swathes of eastern Europe and former Soviet countries.
Other commenters have suggested that this mass removal of aerosols from the atmosphere might have contributed to whatever warming we saw in the latter part of the 20th century.

Bart
June 7, 2010 12:42 pm

phlogiston says:
June 7, 2010 at 12:07 pm
You are arguing an entirely different matter. I am not speaking of two molecules specifically defined on a technical level. I am speaking of a naturally occurring molecule and an anthropogenically released one. One sample may be ever so slightly likely to have a different number of neutrons that the other, but across the entire ensemble of natural and anthropogenically released molecules, there is little difference.

June 7, 2010 12:44 pm

KDK,
Don’t forget toilet paper, which is made from beneficent CO2-sequestering trees. According to Laurie David, one sheet is enough. Anything more is a luxury.
I wouldn’t want to be downwind from Ms David.

Bart
June 7, 2010 12:45 pm

DirkH says:
June 7, 2010 at 12:27 pm
You did it, too. Sorry I confused the matter with an unfortunate turn of phrase. I am not separating molecules into 12C and 13C. The difference in isotopic distribution in naturally and anthropogenically generated CO2 is negligible in terms of how rapidly they should be reabsorbed.

Malaga View
June 7, 2010 12:52 pm

The Real Co2 site by Ernst-Georg Beck is very interesting:
http://www.biomind.de/realCO2/realCO2-1.htm
Especially the Atmospheric CO2 Background 1826-1960 diagram:
http://www.biomind.de/realCO2/bilder/CO2back1826-1960eorevk.jpg
Seems a lot more natural and believable than the ice core flat lining….

Editor
June 7, 2010 12:53 pm

Willis,
Another excellent essay. It would have been a perfect essay if you had been able to integrate the plant stomata and GeoCarb data with the ice core data. I think you’d find that the resolution of the ice core data are insufficient and that they consistently run 15 to 40 ppmv lower than the global average. Van Hoof et al., 2005 demonstrated that the ice core CO2 data essentially represent a low-frequency, century to multi-century moving average of past atmospheric CO2 levels.
This blog post might be of some interest: CO2: Ice Cores vs. Plant Stomata.
Based on the stomata data, I think that century-scale variations of CO2 from 275 to 360 ppmv have not been uncommon during the Holocene. I just don’t think the ice cores can resolve those variations.
The West Antarctic Ice Sheet Divide Ice Core Project may yield some much higher resolution Antarctic ice core data than has thus far been available.

Bart
June 7, 2010 12:59 pm

Bart says:
June 7, 2010 at 11:34 am
One way I may have led others astray is that, in the first sentence of my third paragraph, I did talk about the 13C/12C ratio question. But, this sentence was unrelated to the previous two paragraphs. In the first two, I explain why the anthropogenic attribution hypothesis is implausible. In the third, I explain the reasons why I believe the evidences are questionable. I sum these together in the penultimate sentence:
“So, overall, you have questionable evidence supporting an implausible hypothesis.”

Malaga View
June 7, 2010 1:00 pm

Willis: Would be very interesting to see you splice the Mauna Loa CO2 data onto Beck’s CO2 data in one of your nice graph… I am not holding my breath… but i will keep my fingers crossed 🙂

kwik
June 7, 2010 1:12 pm

” Steinar Midtskogen says:
June 7, 2010 at 6:59 am
“Humans are most certainly the cause of the recent CO2 increase. A simple graph comparing CO2 with the population should offer an important hint:”
Have you checked against the population of thermites? Because if all humans are disappeared, we will for sure be replaced by just as many kilograms of insects, as there are kilograms of humans.

Gail Combs
June 7, 2010 1:15 pm

BBk says:
June 7, 2010 at 4:11 am
“So, what should we expect? In the early decades of a pulse of CO2 being added to the atmosphere, with a “fresh” ocean awaiting, the near exponential decay of CO2 is possible. But as the surface layers of the ocean become more saturated with CO2, its ability to absorb more CO2 declines, and the removal of CO2 from the atmosphere departs from the exponential, and becomes much slower. ”
This assertion ignores diffusion of CO2 from the surface to the lower levels of the ocean. If diffusion (removal of CO2 from the surface to the lower volume) happens at a faster or equal rate to the absorbtion of CO2 from the atmosphere then the ocean can be considered “fresh” until the entire volume “fills.” While, in theory, eventually the ocean would saturate, the rate would be very slow.
Have there been any studies about the rate of diffusion of CO2 through the ocean layers?
My gut feeling is that since we’re dealing with Volume vs Area, that diffusion would, indeed, be a much larger value.
______________________________________________________________________
Your synopsis of the Carbon Cycle completely ignores the fact that CO2 is taken out of the system as a solid and deposited at the bottom of the ocean.
“Calcium occurs in water naturally. Seawater contains approximately 400 ppm calcium…..
The reaction mechanism for carbon weathering is:
H2O + CO2 -> H2CO3 and CaCO3 + H2CO3 -> Ca(HCO3)2
And the total reaction mechanism:
CaCO3 (s) + CO2 (g) + 2H2O (l) -> Ca2+ (aq) + 2 HCO3- (aq)
The product is calcium hydrogen carbonate.”

See: http://www.lenntech.com/periodic/water/calcium/calcium-and-water.htm#ixzz0qCQwTEHV
“…CO2 is also removed from solution to a small extent when proteins are present, by direct combination with amino side groups to form carbamino compounds….” http://www.acidbase.org/index.php?show=sb&action=explode&id=63&sid=66
Then there is the formation of shells and coral that is then deposited on the bottom of the sea, later to become limestone. Not to mention all the ocean plant life utilizing CO2 to grow and then become fish food…..
There is a heck of a lot of information about the carbon/CO2 cycle with the math here from an EPA research scientist: http://www.kidswincom.net/climate.pdf

mkelly
June 7, 2010 1:16 pm

Statement written for the Hearing before the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
Climate Change: Incorrect information on pre-industrial CO2
March 19, 2004
Statement of Prof. Zbigniew Jaworowski
Chairman, Scientific Council of Central Laboratory for Radiological Protection
Warsaw, Poland
The notion of low pre-industrial CO2 atmospheric level, based on such poor knowledge, became a widely accepted Holy Grail of climate warming models. The modelers ignored the evidence from direct measurements of CO2 in atmospheric air indicating that in 19th century its average concentration was 335 ppmv[11] (Figure 2). In Figure 2 encircled values show a biased selection of data used to demonstrate that in 19th century atmosphere the CO2 level was 292 ppmv[12]. A study of stomatal frequency in fossil leaves from Holocene lake deposits in Denmark, showing that 9400 years ago CO2 atmospheric level was 333 ppmv, and 9600 years ago 348 ppmv, falsify the concept of stabilized and low CO2 air concentration until the advent of industrial revolution [13]. ”
11. Slocum, G., Has the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere changed significantly since the beginning of the twentieth century? Month. Weather Rev., 1955(October): p. 225-231.
12. Callendar, G.S., On the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Tellus, 1958. 10: p. 243-248.
13. Wagner, F., et al., Century-scale shifts in Early Holocene atmospheric CO2 concentration. Science, 1999. 284: p. 1971-1973.
Sorry again figure 2 would not copy. Please note last sentence about stomata. I have included references (11,12,& 13) .

1DandyTroll
June 7, 2010 1:21 pm

Today they can apparently create 1500 pound of coke from 1 ton of coal. But it still takes coal to create more efficient coal.
But back in the day, to which every greenies wants to take us it seems, what they called efficiency was utterly terrible by today’s standard, of course it would’ve pretty pissy otherwise.
Then it takes “coal”, so as not to confuse some people, to make iron, of course it took coal to mine the iron. It took coal to shape the iron that required coal to mine the iron that required coal to make the coal to melt and shape and separate.
It takes coals and “coals” to make steel. It takes a lot of coal just to make the tools you need. So it takes more coal to shape that steel into the tools you use to make and shape the steel with, then it takes more to do useful crap you can sell.
It takes an enormous amount of coal to be industrious today, it took even more in 1850, and even more before that, due to less efficiency. And that’s just iron and steel, add to that copper and bronze, lead, tin, et cetera. Heh, how about 500 years of gunpowder use in Europe between 14th and 19th century? How much, I wonder, carbon was emitted in the whole process of creating the cheapest lightest at some 60-70 pound iron stove, which pretty much every family had?
The more I try to wrap my head around it, the concept of 0.5 GT carbon at 1850 and before as depicted by one of the graphs, is just getting more and more silly. If somethings’ve been constant, or there about, for a very long time in statistics, chances are pretty darn good it probably didn’t start at zero or any where close.

Malaga View
June 7, 2010 1:24 pm


Willis Eschenbach says:
June 7, 2010 at 1:13 pm
On the Mauna Loa thread this was just discussed a couple days ago, including a comment from Beck himself. My conclusion was that the Beck records do not represent the background CO2 level … and Beck agreed.

And the ice core does a better job for the period 1826-1960!!!

mkelly
June 7, 2010 1:26 pm

Thanks I had not heard of the fallacy of the excluded middle.

mkelly
June 7, 2010 1:29 pm

By the way I donot disagree with the idea that some of the increase of CO2 is from human activity I just think the amount is too high.

Gail Combs
June 7, 2010 1:37 pm

Hoppy says:
June 7, 2010 at 5:00 am
“Does the CO2 level in the trapped ice represent the composition of the original air or is it the final equilibrium concentration between the trapped air and compressed snow. If it is an equilibrium then it would be a low level and very constant like that shown in Figure 1.
http://www.igsoc.org/journal/21/85/igs_journal_vol21_issue085_pg291-300.pdf
CO2 in Natural Ice
Stauffer, B | Berner, W
Symposium on the Physics and Chemistry of Ice; Proceedings of the Third International Symposium, Cambridge (England) September 12-16, 1977. Journal of Glaciology, Vol. 21, No. 85, p 291-300, 1978. 3 fig, 5 tab, 18 ref.
Natural ice contains approximately 100 ppm (by weight) of enclosed air. This air is mainly located in bubbles. Carbon dioxide is an exception. The fraction of CO2 present in bubbles was estimated to be only about 20%. The remaining part is dissolved in the ice…..”

________________________________________________________________________
Thank you very much for this bit of research. Note the DATE: September 12-16, 1977 This was written before skeptical scientists were muzzled.
As a chemist who graduated in 1972 I can tell you that there were Gas Chromatographs, Infrared Spectrophotometers, Atomic Absorption, Mas Spec and other modern analytical tools available at that time and analysis to ppm levels was routine.

June 7, 2010 1:54 pm

DirkH says:
June 7, 2010 at 12:00 pm
“Why should the number of humans be proportional to the CO2 concentration? If anything, the number of humans would have to be proportional to the differential of the CO2 concentration. Or do you posit a magical amount of CO2 in the air per living human individual? How should that work?”
kwik says:
June 7, 2010 at 1:12 pm
“Have you checked against the population of thermites? Because if all humans are disappeared, we will for sure be replaced by just as many kilograms of insects, as there are kilograms of humans.”
I do not posit an exact correlation, but at least it’s closer than CO2 and temperature. The amount of CO2 in the lungs or the mass of humans is of course insignificant. Human activity is more than breathing. And somehow the impact on CO2 seems to be the same for a pre-industrial society as a modern one. I think it will be difficult to find ways to reduce CO2, if that is what we want to do, unless this observation is explained.

Bart
June 7, 2010 2:07 pm

Willis Eschenbach says:
June 7, 2010 at 1:52 pm
“Run a low pass filter on the Mauna Loa Observatory data and what do you get? You basically get the original data back, because there is so little high frequency variation in the MLO data.”
Depends on the order of the filter, and how low you set the corner frequency, and whether any dominant modes are located at a zero or notch of the filter. Put it through a 12th order Butterworth with 200 year corner frequency, and you will see virtually no recent rise at all.

Neil
June 7, 2010 2:07 pm

This is another excellent thread – thank you, Anthony and all. And I particularly value Richard Courtney’s contributions to it.
Richard S Courtney says:
June 7, 2010 at 2:43 am
I do not know if the cause of the increase is in part or in whole either anthropogenic or natural, but I want to know.
Spoken as a true scientist, Sir.
And Richard S Courtney says:
June 7, 2010 at 11:06 am
(My response). You talk of AGW, but for me the accusation is CAGW. So, for me, you left out of your argument:
(4) It is assumed that an increase in mean global temperature, of the magnitude predicted by those who accept the first three assumptions, will have negative consequences for human civilization.
Cheers,
Neil

phlogiston
June 7, 2010 2:13 pm

Willis Eschenbach says
June 7, 1:20 pm
You are again conflating residence time (6-8 years or so) with the half life (much longer)
Not so – residence time is half life / ln 2 (which is 0.693). Thus t1/2 is a bit shorter than residence time (tau).

June 7, 2010 2:38 pm

Steve Fitzpatrick says:
June 7, 2010 at 8:46 am
So, while CO2 absorption certainly takes place, the “carbonation” process is extremely slow …

My understanding of the way concrete/cement works is that over time calcium silicate is formed, which is the hardening process. That is why sand is added. So the nett effect of manufacture and use is the conversion of CaCO3 to CaSiO3, with permanent displacement of CO2.

DirkH
June 7, 2010 2:46 pm

“Steinar Midtskogen says:
[…]
I do not posit an exact correlation, but at least it’s closer than CO2 and temperature. […] I think it will be difficult to find ways to reduce CO2, if that is what we want to do, unless this observation is explained.”
It’s a spuri